Akashi and the Four Tetsuya’s
There was once a rich man called Akashi Seijuro, who had four lovely wives, quadruplets who looked identical yet had fiercely defining personalities that set the four of them apart.
They were headstrong in their own ways, and their parents loved them very much. But they were born into a poor family, and thus had little opportunity to make their way into the unforgiving world.
As a way to pay off their parents’ debt, they were all married off to the Akashi Empire’s one and only son.
Over time, the four learnt to love their husband very much. He, in turn loved them all, though not equally as one would have wished.
He would shower his favorite-the youngest wife-with expensive gifts and luxury. Tetsuya of Teiko, one of the four pillars to his empire, would have only the best. He wore only the finest of clothing, bathed in milk and was constantly brought grapes and extravagant meats. The next favorite wife would have second best, and so on.
They lived this way for many, many years. One day, it dawned on Seijuro that his time in the mortal realm was approaching, and he was to make arrangements for his departure from this life.
He called his most beloved, youngest wife to his bedside and said to him: “Tetsuya, all my life I have loved you like I love no other. You are still the brightest joy in my life, and thus, I ask that you honor our marriage in all eternity. Will you join me as my beloved in a realm beyond that of the living, in the next great adventure that I should be heartbroken to wander alone?”
And Tetsuya of Teiko, the youngest, the one whose smile Seijuro had admired the most, the one who made Seijuro’s world burn the brightest, turned away without looking at him and said, “Though I was always there by your side in our fragile, beautiful world, there are places that even I cannot accompany you to. I am truly sorry, Akashi-san, but there is only so much I can do for you. Rest assured that you have taken great care of me, but I must move on. I bid you farewell.”
And with those as his last words, Tetsuya of Teiko walked forth in the world to make further of his own life, never once turning around, never once thinking of Seijuro dying again.
A large crack forms in Seijuro’s heart, so deep, so gutting that it has him cough up blood. His grieving heart renders him restless day and night, and he soon calls for his second wife.
“Tetsuya of Seirin,” he asks, “You have been most faithful and docile to me during this life. I have loved you dearly as a husband would his wife. You made sure I always had a warm bed and food on the table to come home to. I have given you the worlds that I’ve had, and now that my time has come to depart from this life, would you accompany me into creating a new home outside of this life?”
Tetsuya of Seirin, taller than Tetsuya of Teiko and second on the throne of Seijuro’s heart, turns his nose into the air. “Indeed it is true that you have given me wonders and treasures difficult to find in this life and the next. However, I am sorry, Akashi-kun. Life ultimately is for the living, and my own is not something that I am willing to throw away for anyone. After you are gone, it is my destiny to remarry, to seek happiness a second time.”
And with that, Tetsuya of Seirin carries himself out of Seijuro’s life. The crack in Seijuro’s heart widens until he is gasping for breath. For the first time in his life, fear rules his psyche. He calls raspily for his third wife.
Tetsuya of the streets smiles sadly at him. “I love you, Seijuro.”
“Tetsuya… I knew that you loved me more than anyone… ever since I took you in and out of the streets…”
“You have given me a home and a purpose in this life. For that, I could never show you the extent of my gratitude. I have accompanied you everywhere when my brothers could not, even the most audacious of journeys. However, I cannot accompany you on this final one. I love you, Akashi, but please understand and don’t think badly of me.”
And with that, both Seijuro and Tetsuya of the streets cry. They cry with each other, perhaps the most sorrowful tears ever shed.
When they both run out of tears, Seijuro reassures Tetsuya of the streets that he still loves him, even if they can never be the husband and wife they are before. Tetsuya of the streets nods in understanding, and spends the night by his side but is told by the doctor to leave in the morning.
Once again, Seijuro is left alone.
His voice has almost completely given out, and his breathing is shallow and crass. His body trembles with the earthquake of fever and drowns in a nightmare of sweat. If only life worked in miracle. He would give all the money in the world for just one more day.
By nightfall, he has come to accept that he would depart from this life alone. Never had he been so terrified yet morose. He wishes the end would come more quickly, be merciful and spare him of this misery.
A faint lantern light glides softly into his otherwise dark and empty bedchambers. A bedhead of light blue hair comes to stand by his side, and a familiar face fills Seijuro’s fading vision.
A hand clasps his. “Oh, Seijuro…”
“Tetsuya.” The name takes almost all of his energy to murmur.
“Seijuro, is there anything I can for you? Sing, tell you a story, anything…?”
“...stay here,” the redheaded man whispers, closing his eyes, “Beside me.” It is so little, but he hasn’t enough strength to say more. This Tetsuya will be like his brothers. This Tetsuya cannot accompany him, so the least he wants is to not die completely alone.
If he must have the wife whose title he often has trouble remembering, then so be it. Fate would still be kind to him that way.
“Of course I will, Seijuro. I promised I would stay with you forever, and I will make good of my promise.”
“I hate to be telling you this… but I may be leaving you at dawn…” As if to confirm, Seijuro erupts into another fit of coughs.
A warm hand clasps his back, a gentle yet firm grip that works to soothe him. Though Seijuro’s once-handsome face is worn by sickness, this Tetsuya kisses and cradles him with no difference than before.
“You… will not want to go where I have to go…”
“I will come with you, and I will still love you no matter which world we live in. You are not defined by disease or sickness, and I know that you are still the same man I love and cherish on the inside. Besides, I swore to love you, be it in sickness or health.”
“If there is nothing I can do for you in this life, the least I can do is accompany you into the next one. I am always here by your side, Seijuro. I have always been, and I will always love every piece of you.”
Akashi can feel tears brimming in his eyes, the accumulation of so many words left unsaid. He regrets not treating this Tetsuya kinder when he had the chance, he regrets largely ignoring his eldest wife when he was the one whom loved him most of all, pure and true and without any expectation of repayment.
But he did not want his last taste of this world to be regret, so he leans up as much as he can, and he and Tetsuya of the Vorpal Swords share one last, longing kiss before the sun rises and takes both of them from this earth.
There was nothing but love in his last moments, and the universe, wanting to reward him, grants him another chance, this time the world only having one Tetsuya, but nonetheless embracing the noble entity of Tetsuya of the Vorpal Swords.
He was born again as Akashi Seijuro into the modern world, again being surrounded by wealth, prestige, and high expectation from birth. But this time around he met Tetsuya when they were both still young, and eventually they were destined to play on the same team with their friends altogether, the future Olympic team that came to be known as Vorpal Swords.
And thus he and Tetsuya went on to live a long and happy life, and when the time came for both of their departures again, it was already destined that they would spent all of eternity by each other’s side through each lifetime their souls danced through.