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Sunlight Hits The Mountain

Chapter Text

Sitting out gazing at the night sky a young man with glasses leaned against the trunk of an old tree, round lenses reflecting the glare of the light from the moon. In his hands he held a small wooden figurine of a girl with a smiling face, the paint was slightly faded but it still retained its most prominent features. Kotori-chan was her name, and she was his one and only friend, for Onoda did not have any friends in the village he grew up in.

“It’s such a pretty night Kotori-chan.” He said quietly to the doll that he was holding, “I hope tomorrow we’ll have better luck.”

Onoda Sakamichi had set off on a journey leaving behind his tiny village secluded at the top of a hill. Recently, the village had been suffering…crops were scarce, the winter had been extremely harsh. It had only taken a turn for the worse when the famine had struck and his mother had fallen victim to it.

“Sakamichi…you cannot stay here.” His mother had said when she was on her deathbed, “You must leave and find yourself a new life.”

Sakamichi had protested at this, claiming that he knew no other way of life.

“You will.” His mother had insisted, “You will, and you will survive.”

‘I will survive.’ Sakamichi thought to himself as he continued to stare.

Suddenly he heard something through the thicket of the woods.

“What’s the status?” a voice said.

“They’re coming, just up the road.”

“How many?”

“One carriage. One driver.”

He heard a laugh, “How naïve to go through this forest without a guard.”

Sakamichi felt his stomach clench. These were bandits. And they were planning to rob someone coming up the road! ‘Of all the things I had to get caught in.’ he thought before putting Kotori-chan in his pack and pulling his dagger that he had kept hidden in his belt. He silently wished that he had a sword but his village had been a peaceful one so weapons were never something they kept on hand.

He then saw the carriage coming up the road and frowned as it came closer in view. Sakamichi felt his legs shake as he desired to run out there and scream at the carriage to turn around. It was as the bandit had explained, unguarded and with one driver. This was bad. They would be robbed blind in an instant. But before Sakamichi could step out and scream a warning at the driver the bandits jumped out of the thicket brandishing swords. One struck the driver who fell off the carriage and the horses neighed in terror as the bandits surrounded the carriage.

“Die fool!” the leader of the bandits cried out as he aimed his sword for the inside of the carriage.

“NO!” a voice called out and that’s when the leader of the bandits found himself on the ground with a dagger in his shoulder.

“Leader!” one of the bandits called out and pointed his sword at Onoda, “You brat! You’ll pay for interfering!”

Onoda Sakamichi shut his eyes tightly ready to embrace death at the moment only to hear the bandits crying out in agony and then the gurgling sound of death as they were impaled by a long blade that belonged to a tall figure with dark hair who had stepped out of the carriage. He had defeated the three other bandits as if it had been a warm-up exercise.

“They were fools to try and rob someone like me.” The figure said before narrow dark eyes turned to Sakamichi who immediately backed away and held up his hands, “I-I’m not with them! I swear! I’m just a traveler!”

“I gathered that considering you foolishly attacked that bandit without any sort of defense.” The person said, “You’re either really brave or really stupid.”

That had sounded more like an insult than it had a compliment in Sakamichi’s opinion but he didn’t pay much attention to it. “Well… I’m glad you’re safe.”

“I would have been safe either way. I was aware of the bandits which is why I had my sword on me. You however, are only armed with a dagger.” He glared, “At least stay at an inn, these woods are far too dangerous to travel through.”

“I’m afraid I can’t.” Sakamichi said truthfully as he cleaned off his dagger in the grass, “I don’t have a lot of money and inns are expensive so it’s easier for me to sleep outside. I didn’t even notice the bandits until they spoke.” He then stood himself back up, “I’m sorry for disturbing your journey…I’ll be off now.”

“You’ll continue to journey through these woods even though you’re aware of the danger?”

Sakamichi smiled, “I have no one to return to, and nowhere to go so I can only go forward.”

The dark haired man frowned before sheathing his sword and opening the door to the carriage, “Get in.”

“Huh?”

“Don’t make me repeat myself, get inside now. You know I’m not going to kill you otherwise I would have done it already so get in.”

Sakamichi chose not to protest and got inside the carriage while the person instructed the driver made it back to their seat after calming down the horses before the dark haired person stepped inside. The candlelight inside the carriage showed the person was about the same age as him and that the robes he was wearing were a dark blue.

“What is your name?” the person asked him.

“Onoda Sakamichi. A-And yours?”

“Imaizumi Shuunsuke. Where did you learn to use a dagger?”

Sakamichi averted his eyes, “I…I sort of had to learn by trial and error. My village doesn’t make a lot of weapons and that was the only thing closest to a sword they had.”

“And yet you rushed at that bandit with no hesitation.” Imaizumi commented, “If you had some training you’d make an excellent guard.”

Onoda Sakamichi shook his head rapidly, “Oh goodness no! I’m not fit enough for that! Besides, I just wanted to find some simple work. I’m not a fighter at all.”

Imaizumi rolled his eyes, ‘What wasted talent.’

“Um…where…where exactly is this carriage going?”

“My master’s estate.”

To Be Continued…

Chapter Text

One year later…

Onoda Sakamichi sat down and panted heavily, his robes were sticking to his body and he had to take his glasses off to wipe his face with a towel.

“Onoda-kun! You’re not getting tired yet are you?” a voice asked him and Sakamichi put his glasses back on so he could gaze at his red-haired friend.

“No…just resting.” Onoda said to reassure the red-head. 

When Sakamichi first arrived at the estate Imaizumi was quick to introduce him to Lord Kinjou Shinjo, or as people called him, The Snake of the Stone Path. Imaizumi had taken him inside of the large mansion to a center room where a man sat behind a veiled curtain. When Sakamichi quietly asked Imaizumi why the curtain was there Imaziumi claimed it was because most people were reduced to silence when they met Lord Kinjou face-to-face.

Imaizumi told Lord Kinjou everything about the encounter with the bandits and how Sakamichi had fearlessly taken out the leader, throwing himself into danger. Sakamichi had wanted to protest and say that he really didn’t do much but kept silent out of respect.

Onoda Sakamichi felt intense eyes lock onto him through that curtain, “Were you aware how dangerous those woods were? There are a lot of criminals who like to linger there and take advantage of travelers.”

He shook his head, “I wasn’t. I’m not very familiar with these parts.”

“Where are you from?”

“A small village on top of a hill, my Lord.” Sakamichi said, “My mother requested for me to leave after she passed. The village has been suffering from famine and the winter was not gentle so…she did not think it was wise for me to remain.”

“And where are you traveling to?”

Sakamichi frowned deeply, “A-anywhere, sir. I don’t have any relatives outside the village. And I don’t have a lot of funds either. I wanted to see if I could reach a city and start a life there.”

He could feel the intensity of Lord Kinjou’s gaze soften, “You have the will to live, but you have no reason for it.”

“…Y-yes my Lord.”

The man behind the curtain extended his hand, “Then, allow me to offer you one.”

And that was how Onoda ended up training as a guard. A soldier. A protector. Lord Kinjou wasted no time telling Imaizumi to help Onoda settle in at his estate. From there he was introduced to Tadokoro Jin, the general of his armies. Tadokoro was large and had a loud voice. He was known to eat quite a lot but was also an excellent cook, but only because his parents owned a bakery. He also met Naruko Shoukichi, a red-headed guard in training, who like Tadokoro was also loud. Naruko took a liking to the boy with glasses and immediately deemed him as a friend.

Onoda smiled to himself. He was perfectly content with his new life and his new friends. He was learning a lot on how to fight and how to defend people. Although he tried various weapons the ones he favored were a pair of sai which he had been sparring with a moment ago.

“Oh my, you’re resting already?” another guard said walking over to them. He went by Sugimoto and like Imaizumi he also wielded a katana. “Then again I shouldn’t be surprised since you chose to fight with those weapons. They’re good for disarming someone but with close combat you have to be really skilled with them.”

“Are you kidding? He is skilled. More skilled than you are that’s for sure.” Naruko said, quick to defend Sakamichi.

“Ah..N-Naruko-kun….”

“Sugimoto…what are you doing over here?” a new voice said and they all looked over to see Imaizumi with a displeased look on his face.

“Oh! Imaizumi-kun…I…was taking a break.” Sugimoto said sheepishly.

“Hm, well if you have that sort of time, then you must have enough time to spar.” Imaizumi said.

Sugimoto stiffened and then looked back at Naruko and Onoda Sakamichi, “If you’ll excuse me then.”

“Good luck Sugimoto-kun.” Sakamichi said.

“Honestly, I don’t know why you put up with him. He’s so condescending.” Naruko said rolling his eyes.

“I-I think Sugimoto-kun is nice. You and Imaizumi-kun are nice too.”

“Onoda! Just the person I needed to see!” a loud voice called out.

Both teenagers looked over to see General Tadokoro walking in their direction.

“Hey old man! Where've you been? You missed our sparring match this morning!” Naruko barked out, “I got my ass up at dawn for nothing!”

“Oh relax red bean, I had urgent business to take care of.” He said shrugging Naruko off.

“You mean you were snacking in the kitchen!”

“Perhaps I was.”

“I knew it!”

Tadokoro laughed at Naruko’s outburst and then turned his attention to Sakamichi, “Lord Kinjou told me that he wanted to see you.”

“O-oh…I’ll be on my way then.” Sakamichi stood up and looked at Naruko, “Sorry to cut our spar short.”

“Don’t worry about it Onoda, I’ll be the perfect entertainment for the red bean.” Tadokoro smiled, “This will make up for our missed spar.”

“You better be ready old man! I won’t go easy on you!” Naruko said.

Onoda Sakamichi smiled at the two before heading off to the inside of the estate where he knew Lord Kinjou would be waiting for him. He really owed a lot to the noble who had allowed him to stay on the estate and train as a guard. Initially he had been hesitant at the beginning, but it was because of Lord Kinjou that he was given a reason behind his will to live.

“You wanted to see me, Lord Kinjou?” Sakamichi asked as he entered the main chamber and bowed deeply before the man sitting behind the veiled curtain. He then frowned as he noticed that the room seemed to hold an abnormal amount of tension. Had he done something wrong?

“Yes Onoda. I have an important matter that I must discuss with you.” Lord Kinjou said, “You have been here for some time now, ever since Imaizumi picked you up in that forest. You have also shown much growth in your abilities to fight.”

‘He is stalling…but why?’

“Onoda…you realize that I am not the only noble in this land. But that there are others who require the protection of a capable guard.” He saw Lord Kinjou’s hands folding together, “Which is why, you will be transferred to another estate.”

Onoda felt his heart sink in to his chest and suddenly the room seemed to become much smaller than it was. He wanted to protest but knew that his status could not allow him to do so. Instead he sat in silence and shock as he took in Lord Kinjou’s words.

“The noble of the estate that I am sending you to is Makishima Yuusuke, he lives at the peak of the mountain west of here. Since you are familiar with mountains and hills you should have no trouble reaching him. It is only a day’s journey.” Kinjou then paused, “You have my permission to speak freely.”

“Lord Kinjou…how long will this transfer be?”

“You will be there until further notice.”

“A-And…how soon will I have to leave?”

“Two days.”

 Onoda Sakamichi said as he felt his heart clench. Of course he would be going as soon as possible. “D-Does…General Tadokoro know?”

“He does.”

‘But the others don't. I’m going to have to tell them.’ Sakamichi thought as he tried to not cry by shutting his eyes tightly. ‘The life that I have built here is being ripped away from me.’

Suddenly he felt a heavy hand on top of his head and opened his eyes only to be met with intense teal eyes. He felt incredibly lost as he looked into those eyes. No wonder Lord Kinjou had to sit behind that curtain. There was no telling how many people had been rendered speechless because of those incredible eyes.

“Do not let you heart be troubled Onoda. I would not have chosen you if I did not think you were fit to do this. They will understand.”

---


When Sakamichi left Lord Kinjou’s main chamber he was immediately confronted by Imaizumi, Naruko, and Sugimoto.

“Onoda-kun! Is it true? Is Lord Kinjou really making you leave?” Naruko asked as he grabbed Sakamichi by the shoulders and started shaking him.

“H-How did you know?”

“The old man told us everything!” Naruko said. “He said Lord Kinjou’s making you leave us to protect some noble in the mountains!”

“Y-Yes…it’s true…I leave in two days.” Sakamichi said and clenched his fists, “I’m not a dayfly anymore…I have a duty to uphold. Lord Kinjou gave me this task, I can't fail him.”

“But-!”

“He’s right, Naruko.” Imaizumi said putting a hand on Naruko’s shoulder, “Onoda can’t disobey a direct order.”

“But…why him? He’s hardly got any experience! He’s never even been in a real battle!” Sugimoto protested.

“Lord Kinjou must have his reasons for choosing Onoda.” Imaizumi said, “We cannot question his judgement.”

---

Those two days went by quickly and mostly consisted of Sakamichi learning what trails to take in order to reach Lord Makishima’s estate and packing for his journey. The good-byes that he shared with his friends were long ones. Naruko had started tearing up only to get teased by Imaizumi which prompted the red-head to start yelling at him about facing him in a spar while Sugimoto tried to calm the two down.

“Onoda.”

His friends went silent as knelt down immediately as they took notice of Lord Kinjou walking towards the gates accompanied by General Tadokoro.

“Lord Kinjou.” Sakamichi greeted and knelt down quickly.

“I came to see you off.” Lord Kinjou said eyes falling on the horse that was packed down with Onoda Sakamichi’s belongings. “Do you have everything you need?”

“Yes sir.”

Sakamichi felt a hand on top of his head, playfully tousling his messy black hair. “Good luck, Onoda Sakamichi.”

Sakamichi smiled as he looked up at the noble who smiled back down at him. The glasses-wearing boy then stood up and mounted his horse sparing once last glance at everyone before taking off through the gate, back into the forest.

“Kinjou, is it really a good idea to send him to Makishima? You and I know how that guy can be.”

“I have faith in my decision.” Lord Kinjou said to his old friend, “Onoda is exactly what Makishima needs.”

To Be Continued...

Chapter Text

Onoda Sakamichi guided his horse up the mountain with care even though the uneven ground caused him to lurch around in the saddle quite a bit. He was getting closer to the top of the mountain where the estate was located.

“I’m almost there.” Sakamichi said to himself and then reached down to gently caress the horse’s neck, “I’m glad I at least have you for this journey. It would have been difficult to get to this place by foot.”

His mind then wandered to what Lord Makishima would be like. Did he also hide his face behind a curtain like Lord Kinjou? He had tried to ask Naruko and Imaizumi if they knew anything about Lord Makishima but both of his friends said that they did not know much about him because he rarely ever came down from the mountain to see Lord Kinjou unless it was strictly for business. They had advised him to ask General Tadokoro since he worked closer with nobility. When he did General Tadokoro had laughed and said, “Makishima? Well…I guess the best was I can describe him is…interesting. He’s not exactly what people expect when they meet a noble.”

Sakamichi frowned, ‘I should have asked Lord Kinjou too. But it’s too late for that.’ Suddenly he noticed what looked like a gate in front of him on the steep path.

‘This must be it.’ But then Sakamichi pulled on the reins of his horse and slowed it down, ‘Hold on…something isn’t right.’ He looked at his surroundings. Despite the birds chirping in the forest and the squirrels running through the trees he felt that someone was watching him intently. Slowly, he reached for one of the sai that he kept in his belt as he felt the presence of the other being getting closer.

CLANG!

Sakamichi’s sai had caught the blade of the naginata before it had grazed his face. He had been sure to turn the horse away from the blade to make sure it would not be harmed. If his horse was killed, he would have been in trouble. The blade of the spear belonged to a handsome young man around his age with shoulder length black curly hair and dark eyes.

“Nice to see Lord Kinjou sent someone who’s aware of their surroundings.” The person said with a smirk, “You must be the one he sent.”

“Y-yes, I am. My name is Onoda Sakamichi.”

The man pulled his spear away, “I hope you don’t mind my little test I gave you there. I’m Teshima Junta, one of the head servants at Lord Makishima’s estate. We’ve been expecting you.”

“Ah…it’s nice to meet you too.” Onoda said lowering his sai.

“Rest assured, I don’t plan on attacking you again. Clearly you’re able to hold your own.” Teshima said, “Come, I’ll bring you to Lord Makishima.”

When they reached the gate they were greeted by another young man with dark blond hair that covered half his face so only one of his eyes was visible.

“Aoyagi, take Onoda’s horse to the stables and give it some food and water.” Teshima said to the blond who nodded his head as Sakamichi dismounted. Aoyagi took the reins and lead the horse away.

“Follow me please.” Teshima said as they both entered the grounds of the estate. It was smaller than Lord Kinjou’s but it was obvious that this noble did have power considering how well-kept the estate was. It looked stunning with the ginko trees lining up to form a path to the estate, the golden leaves covering the sides of the path.

Sakamichi held his pack tighter to his body as he trailed behind Teshima who lead him around the estate until they reached a sliding door. Teshima knocked once on the door, “My Lord, the person Lord Kinjou sent us has just arrived.”

“Bring him in, sho.” A voice on the other side of the door said. The voice held a slight accent that Sakamichi wasn’t familiar with but it wasn’t unappealing just…different. He followed Teshima inside cautiously.

The room was well-lit from the light of the windows but since the sun was starting to set the room was darker and lit with a few candles. General Tadokoro hadn’t been jesting when he said that Lord Makishima was “interesting”. Sitting before him across the table was a tall looking male dressed in regal red and purple robes which clashed greatly with each other. His skin was pale, as if he had not gone outside of his estate in a long time, his face was long and narrow, and his eyes were a bright blue. But what was most unusual about him was his long green hair that was highlighted with streaks of red. Lord Makishima was definitely the most unusual person Onoda Sakamichi had ever come across.

Lord Makishima’s eyes fell on Sakamichi and he frowned, “This is who Lord Kinjou sent?”

“Yes Lord Makishima.” Teshima said looking at Sakamichi, “Rest assured, he is quite skilled. I already had the opportunity to test him.”

Lord Makishima’s facial expression did not change, “If you say so, sho.” He then extended a narrow hand, “Show him to his room and give him something to eat.”

“Yes, Lord Makishima.” Teshima said giving a small bow. Sakamichi did the same and quickly followed Teshima out of the room not wanting to stay a moment longer. When they two made their way farther down the estate Teshima spoke, “I can tell you have something on your mind. Care to voice it? I’ll lend an ear.”

Sakamichi breathed heavily through his nose, “I don’t think I should…it might be offensive.”

“I won’t tell anyone.”

“Well…okay…I don’t think I made a very good impression on Lord Makishima.”

Teshima chuckled, “Is that all? There’s no need to be upset, believe me. Lord Makishima…has trouble warming up to new people. He always has. He’s also terrible with conversations, but I would never tell him that directly unless he asked me to.” He put a hand on Sakamichi’s shoulder, “He just hasn’t seen what you’re capable of yet. Give it time.”

That night after Sakamichi dined with Teshima and Aoyagi in their small room he slid the door open, looking back to make the two were asleep before slipping outside. He sat against the door and placed Kotori-chan on the floor next to him so that she too was gazing out in the distance. The moon was bright and beginning to wane slightly but it was still quite beautiful.

“I wonder how the others are doing.” Sakamichi whispered and looked at Kotori-chan, “Teshima and Aoyagi are nice, don’t you think?” he then picked her up, "I don’t know what I would do without you, Kotori-chan. Thank you for always being by my side.” He said placing a small kiss on top of her head.

To Be Continued…

Chapter Text

Approximately four days had passed since Onoda Sakamichi arrived at Lord Makishima’s estate. He was still not completely used to the change and often found himself still wondering how his friends were doing. Teshima and Aoyagi were very kind and helped him adjust to his new life at the estate in the mountains. His meals kept him well-fed and he was able to train with Teshima and Aoyagi in order to make sure his skills wouldn’t rust.

As for Lord Makishima, Sakamichi still felt that the noble disliked his presence. He would stand guard of Lord Makishima when he had messengers. The only other time he did see Lord Makishima was whenever Sakamichi was sparring on the training grounds, those blue eyes seemed to stare at him intently. What was he looking for? Flaws? Imperfections? It left him with an uncomfortable feeling whenever Lord Makishima sat there watching.

It was during the twilight hour, when Onoda Sakamichi was making his way inside the estate to join Teshima and Aoyagi for dinner that he noticed Lord Makishima walking down the same hall but in the opposite direction.

“G-good evening Lord Makishima.” Sakamichi said giving a small bow out of respect before moving towards the wall to make room for the noble to walk past him.

Suddenly Sakamichi felt a large but thin hand on his shoulder, his gaze meeting Lord Makishima’s.

“Meet me at the training grounds, first thing in the morning when the sun begins to rise, sho. And bring your weapons.” He said, “That’s an order.”

Sakamichi swallowed thickly, “Yes, my Lord.” The hand pulled away from him and Lord Makishima walked past him without sparring a second glance.

‘What does he want to see me for? And so early?’ Sakamichi wondered to himself as he watched Lord Makishima disappear down the hall. ‘Is he going to send me back to Lord Kinjou? Why do I have to bring my weapons?’ he shook his head, ‘I suppose I’ll find out tomorrow.’

---

The next morning, when the light from the dawn began to seep through the windows Sakamichi woke up and put on his glasses. He took great care in dressing himself and grabbed his weapons being sure not to wake up Aoyagi and Teshima as he stepped outside. The mountain air was cold and the wind blew harshly on his face as he made his way to the training grounds.

“I’m here, Lord Makishima.” Onoda called out as he stepped outside in the open dirt. He frowned when he noticed that he was the only one present, “Lord Makishima?”

‘That’s odd…did I show up too early?’ Onoda wondered to himself as he stood in the middle of the grounds, ‘I should be considerate and wait for him, it would be rude to leave now.’

Suddenly a chill crept over him and the hair stood at the back of his neck. It reminded him of when he had first encountered Teshima outside of the estate. Moving on pure instinct Onoda Sakamichi quickly jumped towards the right and fell to the ground only to notice three shuriken had been impaled in the dirt where he had been standing moments ago.

“An… attack?” Sakamichi wondered aloud as he scrambled himself back up and pulled out his sai, gripping both in each hand.

“Your instincts are commendable, but you were just barely able to dodge that, sho.” Onoda looked up to see Lord Makishima who was standing on the rooftop of his estate, his long green hair tied back to keep it out of his face which held an unsettling grin.

Sakamichi’s eyes widened, “Lord Makishima?”

He then jumped down from the roof but before Sakamichi could call out a warning Lord Makishima landed on the ground in front of him like a cat landing on its feet before standing at full height.

“Wh-what is this about?” Sakamichi asked as he took a step backwards.

“Enough questions. Right now, you should be defending yourself.” Makishima said before reaching into his sleeve before flinging something metal towards Sakamichi who managed to deflect it with the blade of his sai. Another shuriken. "Surprised I know how to fight? You don't think I earned my noble title out of convenience, do you?"

Onoda Sakamichi gulped. Lord Makishima was much different in his fighting style compared to Naruko-kun and Imaizumi-kun, he chose lighter weapons and he was fast too. Sakamichi barely managed to dodge the next attack.

---

That same morning Teshima found himself forcefully being shaken awake by Aoyagi. He blinked the sleep out of his eyes before shooting the blond a glare, “This better be important if you’re waking me up so early. What’s the problem?”

“Onoda…” Aoyagi muttered quietly his golden eyes were wide with excitement, “He’s sparring…with Lord Makishima.”

“Wait...he’s what?!” Teshima quickly pulled himself out of his futon and quickly pulled back his hair, “Are you serious?”

Aoyagi furiously nodded his head as Teshima hurriedly dressed himself before grabbing Aoyagi’s wrist, “Come on! I need to see this!”

---

Onoda Sakamichi panted heavily as he stood back up, clutching tightly to the sai in his hand. They had been going at it for a good while judging by how high the sun rose and unfortunately Sakamichi still remained on the defense.

‘I can’t avoid his attacks forever.’ He thought to himself, ‘I need to come up with something…’

“Exhausted?” Lord Makishima asked Sakamichi and tilted his head to the side, scrutinizing the younger man, “And here I was just starting to get excited, sho.”

‘Now’s my chance!’ Sakamichi reasoned before he threw the sai towards his opponent who was quick to move away from it giving Sakamichi just enough time to get close enough to Lord Makishima before pulling out his other sai. It was then Onoda Sakamichi found himself pinned to the dirt and using quick instinct he reached for the third sai he kept hidden in the sash of his robe and held it to Lord Makishima’s neck only to have his eyes widen as he realized that a small blade was pointed towards his own jugular. It was a draw.

“Sho.” He heard the noble breathe out before withdrawing the blade and releasing his hold on Sakamichi before standing up and walking towards the estate. Sakamichi stood up as well and picked up his fallen sai before briskly walking towards the estate where Teshima and Aoyagi stood.

Makishima glanced at Aoyagi, “Take him to the kitchen and give him something to eat, sho.” He then looked at Sakamichi, “Go with him.”

"Y-yes my Lord.” Sakamichi answered breathily, giving a small bow before following Aoyagi.

“Teshima, bring me to the baths.” The green haired noble said as he undid the tie holding up his hair and ran his fingers through long green strands.

“Of course.” Teshima said with a small nod as he led the noble to the back of the estate. Dark eyes shined with amusement.

Makishima frowned, “Do you have something to say, sho?”

Teshima gave a sly smile, “Am I permitted to speak freely?”

“…Yes.”

“I was just merely thinking you seem quite happy after that spar with Onoda. Perhaps Lord Kinjou chose well after all.”

Makishima snorted in amusement at the comment before scratching the side of his face, not willing to give Teshima the satisfaction of being correct in his assumption.

---

Sakamichi was cleaning up the training grounds where he and Lord Makishima had sparred. He had been quick to eat the meal that Aoyagi had provided him with for breakfast before stating that he would begin tending to the estate. There were no excuses for laziness when it came to working for nobility, that was what Imaizumi had told him when Lord Kinjou first took him in. Just because they protected nobility didn’t mean that they weren’t servants who had to pull their own weight.

‘I do wonder though, why does Lord Makishima choose to live in such a small estate? Surely, he has one much bigger than this.’ Sakamichi frowned as he looked up at the sky, ‘I still feel like I don’t know a lot about him even after that spar.’

“Onoda.”

Sakamichi turned and met the gaze of the noble who had been occupying his thoughts. He gave a bow, “Lord Makishima, do you need something of me?”

“Have you eaten?”

Sakamichi nodded his head, “I did, thank you for your concern, my Lord. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must attend to my other duties.” He then gave another bow before walking towards the estate.

He then felt that large hand on top of his shoulder once more and froze in place, “L-Lord Makishima?”

“Onoda, when I give you an order will you follow it without hesitation?”

“Of course, my Lord. That’s my purpose.” Onoda said.

“Then, if I order you to spar me again…you will do it?”

“…Yes, my Lord.”

He then felt that hand move to his hair, tousling his short black hair, “Then come here tomorrow morning. The same time, unless I say otherwise, sho.” He pulled his hand away, “When you finish your duties, go to the baths and clean yourself up. I’ll tell Teshima to bring you fresh clothes.”

“Yes, my Lord.” Onoda answered before he slowly walked back to the estate, the heavy feeling of the noble’s hand on his head still lingering. ‘Perhaps this means Lord Makishima is okay with having me here.’

To Be Continued…

Chapter Text

As Lord Makishima had ordered, Sakamichi sparred with the noble in the mornings before the rest of the estate had awoken. It had almost become routine now to both of them. Even though Sakamichi still felt that his presence was a bother to Lord Makishima, it did seem that the noble was slowly warming up to him…at least that’s what he assumed. Onoda Sakamichi watched in the corner of the room as Lord Makishima worked at his desk surrounded by numerous stacks of paper. ‘I suppose I understand why he always wants to spar with me, he must be very bored from reading all of those things.’ Sakamichi thought to himself, ‘Being nobility isn’t an easy job.’

“Onoda…”

Sakamichi’s head shot up, his attention now focused on the noble.

“Come over here for a moment, sho.”

The black haired boy swiftly approached and stood in front of the desk, “Is there something you need of me, Lord Makishima?”

“Take this.” Suddenly Sakamichi found himself holding a large stack of letters that were bound together, “Burn it.”

“Wh-what?” Sakamichi’s eyes widened, “All of this paper?”

“Trust me, it’s no great loss to me.” Lord Makishima said, "Besides, they’re all outdated now.”

“Yes, my Lord.” Sakamichi said giving a small bow before heading down the hall only to run into Teshima.

“Let me guess, he’s telling you to burn it?” Teshima asked.

“How did you know?”

Teshima laughed, “He always burns the older ones, here give it to me, I’ll take care of it.” He said before taking the stack from Onoda.

“It seems like a waste to burn so much paper.” Onoda said quietly as he looked at the stack.

“That’s because this person loves to talk.” Teshima said and rolled his eyes.

“Then shouldn't Lord Makishima tell the person to keep it down to...maybe three pages?”

"He already tried, but I guess his betrothed isn’t taking Lord Makishima’s isolation too well.”

“I didn’t know Lord Makishima was betrothed.” Sakamichi said eyes lighting up with fascination.

Teshima swallowed hard silently cursing himself for not holding his tongue, “He doesn’t like to talk about it…the marriage was arranged and he didn’t have too much of a say considering he’s the second son of his household.”

“Oh…” Sakamichi said, not knowing exactly how to respond to Lord Makishima’s situation, but only because he had never been in such a situation to worry about such things. Sakamichi had been his mother’s only son and their village had been a poverty-stricken one. ‘But…if he’s betrothed then why isolate himself? Does he not like the person he’s engaged to?’ he brushed off the thought, ‘It’s none of my business…I shouldn’t even think about it.’

“I will say though; he seems more cheerful since he started sparring with you.” Teshima said offering a smile to Sakamichi.

“He does?”

Teshima laughed, “Lord Makishima's character may be difficult for you to gauge right now but you’ll definitely pick up on all of his moods with time. Now then, I think we both need to get back to work.”

“Of course.” Sakamichi agreed before going back to his post.

---

Onoda Sakamichi did not realize how late it was when he looked out the window. After dinner he had taken it upon himself to find a quiet place where he could write to his friends. He longed to spend time with them again, even Imaizumi-kun and Naruko-kun's arguments were longed for. Hopefully he would see them soon.

‘It would probably be best for me to go to bed now…I don’t want to be late for tomorrow’s spar.’

He quietly made his way down the hall before coming to the room that he shared with Teshima and Aoyagi only to hear a moaning sound on the other side of the sliding door. Sakamichi paused and listened carefully.

“Junta…”

Junta? That was Teshima’s given name. It was usually how Aoyagi addressed the talkative curly haired boy. Slowly, Sakamichi slid the door open trying not to make any sound before peering inside only to feel his face heat up in embarrassment before turning away. Inside there was Teshima laying on a futon with Aoyagi on top of him, both were barely clothed and seemed rather... engaged in each other.

‘I should give them their privacy.’ Sakamichi reasoned before quietly retreating away from the room, ‘I guess I’ll be sleeping somewhere else tonight…maybe I can sleep in the library. I hope nobody will be mad if I do, but if I leave early enough then nobody should notice.’

Suddenly heard footsteps and was pulled out of his thoughts immediately. He gazed forward only to see Lord Makishima standing there. Despite the how dark the hall was Sakamichi could still make out the noble’s tall and slender form.

“Onoda, what are you doing up so late?”

“I…I couldn’t sleep.”

“Perhaps if you had on your bedclothes I would have a better chance of believing you.”

Sakamichi inwardly cursed at his careless excuse, “W-well…I would but…Teshima-san and Aoyagi-san are…occupied at the moment.”

He saw Lord Makishima’s eyes slightly widen at the explanation before running a hand through his hair, “I see…those two, huh?”

Sakamichi only nodded his head.

“I suppose you’ll just have to come with me then.” Lord Makishima spoke, “You may stay in my room for the night.”

Sakamichi was quick to protest, “Lord Makishima, that would be too much trouble. I was going to spend my night in the library.”

“Perhaps I would allow that if it were the summer months but it’s spring and the nights on this mountain are still cold.” Lord Makishima said, “Now if you’re done with your excuses, come with me, sho.”

‘I guess no isn’t going to be an answer tonight.’ Sakamichi thought to himself before nodding his head, “Yes, my Lord.”

---

Lord Makishima’s bedchamber was much more luxurious compared to the one that he shared with Teshima and Aoyagi. There were fur blankets on his futon with decorated pillows and bright colored sheets that clashed harshly with each other. It reminded Sakamichi of the extravagant looking robes that the green haired noble always wore.

‘Lord Makishima has such incredible taste. He makes me seem so plain in comparison.’

“Here.”

Suddenly Onoda Sakamichi found himself holding what appeared to be spare bedclothes. “…Thank you, my Lord.” Sakamichi said and turned around to change and give the noble some privacy. As he tugged off the top half of his outfit he felt the noble’s narrow blue eyes on his back and inwardly cringed, ‘Now he really must thinking something bad about me.’

However, no harsh criticisms came at Sakamichi who turned back around to face the noble once he finished dressing, “I thank you again for allowing me to stay here for the night, Lord Makishima.” ‘Even though I didn't have much of a choice.’

“Sho.” The noble huffed out before pulling down one of the thick blankets, “Alright, get in.”

“…Huh?” Sakamichi looked at the futon in confusion, “But…this is your bed.”

“I know. Where did you think you were going to sleep?”

“…The floor?”

“Sleeping on the floor isn’t good for your back.” Lord Makishima said frowning at Sakamichi, “Now get in the bed. That’s an order.”

There was that word. Onoda Sakamichi knew by now that whenever it was a direct order it had to be obeyed, “As…my Lord commands.” He whispered before laying down on the other side of the futon as close to the edge as possible. “Rest well, Lord Makishima.” He said quietly before removing his glasses and resting his head against one of the many pillows, drifting off to a restful slumber.

To Be Continued…

Chapter Text

‘Ah…the weather is starting to get warmer.’ Sakamichi noted as he wiped the sweat from his brow as he waited for Teshima to come out of the small shop. They were both in one of the larger villages located at the base of the mountain. Lord Makishima had requested for the them to go and acquire a few items that could be purchased at the village. He would have gone with them but there was paperwork to be done and letters to be sent to other nobles.

Teshima and Aoyagi had both been apologetic after the incident that caused Sakamichi to be kicked out of his room that night. Sakamichi stated that he had no problem with the two engaging in such activities so long as he had some sort of warning. However as forgiving as Sakamichi had been Lord Makishima felt that some sort of punishment was in order and doubled the amount of chores that Teshima and Aoyagi had to do for the next ten days. To be honest, Sakamichi felt that a warning would have sufficed.

“Onoda.”

He quickly turned around to see Teshima who was standing there with his arms full of the requested supplies. “Shall we get going?”

The young man with glasses nodded his head, “I’ll go get our horses.”

---

“So, Onoda…” Teshima started off, as they continued their ride back to the estate.

“Um…y-yes?”

“Have you ever had a lover?”

Sakamichi’s face turned bright red and he waved his hand frantically, “Ehhhhh?! Wh-what? Wait! I-I mean no! No! Never! I’ve never had one of those!”

Teshima couldn’t help but chuckle at Sakamichi’s reaction, “Oh? Then is there someone special you’re saving yourself for?” He then raised his hand before Sakamichi could reply, “It’s fine, I’m just teasing you, you don’t have to tell me if there is.”

“W-Well…the truth is I don’t have anyone like that.” Sakamichi said in a quiet voice, and then looked at Teshima with a half-smile, “I’m not the type of person someone would spare a second glance.”

Teshima’s gaze softened at the confession, “I wouldn’t say that Onoda, there’s definitely someone out there giving you that second glance.”

Sakamichi gave a small smile at Teshima’s words before pulling on the reins of the horse as they approached the gates of the estate. He knew the curly haired servant was just trying to be nice, and he did appreciate it. Really, Sakamichi felt that he had admitted almost too much, but it was the truth. There had barely been anyone around his age in his village, and once he had started training at Lord Kinjou’s estate he never partook in the luxury of having a lover. It never crossed his mind.

‘I can’t afford to think of such trivial matters. My only duty now is to serve and protect Lord Makishima.’ But there was still a nagging feeling that strayed behind in the corner of his mind…what would it be like to have someone see him that way? Someone who wanted to get to know him on a more personal and intimate level?

Aoyagi was waiting for them to put the horses away while the two dismounted and made their way to the estate with the supplies. Sakamichi dutifully followed Teshima inside as they both made their way to the large room where Lord Makishima sat behind a table with a single paper on it. Both bowed to the noble before Sakamichi did a double take as he saw a familiar person with dark hair and dark eyes sitting across the table.

“I-Imaizumi-kun?” the young man adjusted his glasses as if he believed that the frames were tricking him. He couldn’t believe it! How long had it been since he had last seen the very person who had changed his life that night in the forest? There were so many things he wanted to talk about and ask Imaizumi, but he held himself in check due to the presence of Lord Makishima who would without a doubt disapprove of those actions.

“Onoda…Teshima, step inside and and shut the door.”

Both did as they were requested, Teshima sliding the door firmly shut before turning to the noble who held up the paper.

“Imaizumi has come here with a message from Kinjou.” Makishima said to the two, “I’m to come to his estate as soon as possible for urgent business.” He then glance at Imaizumi, “Will there be anyone else there, sho?”

“Lord Fukutomi and General Arakita arrived two days ago. Lord Shinkai and his guard arrived yesterday.”

Lord Makshima ran a hand through his hair, a habit that he did when he was thinking about something which Sakamichi had picked up on. “I see…so it is serious then. Guess I have no choice, sho.” He then looked up, “Teshima…start packing my things…I’ll be leaving tomorrow.” He then looked at younger guard, “Pack something for Onoda too.”

“Yes, my Lord.” Teshima said giving a small bow before exiting the room.

Lord Makishima stood up, “We’ll leave early tomorrow so be sure to get a good night’s rest.”

---

“It’s good to see you again.” Imaizumi finally said when he and Onoda Sakamichi sat down together outside of the estate looking out at the training area where Sakamichi often spared with Lord Makishima in the mornings.

“It’s good to see you too Imaizumi-kun.” Sakamichi said looking at the other boy happily, “How are Naruko-kun and Sugimoto-kun?”

Imaizumi exhaled a heavy breath, “They’re fine…exhausting to deal with, but that’s nothing I can’t handle. Though it’s been very noisy since all of these people arrived at Lord Kinjou’s estate.”

“Why so many of them? Is there some sort of event happening?”

Imaizumi frowned, “I’m not sure myself…but I know that it has to be serious since these visits are unexpected. Even General Tadokoro seems on edge.”

Sakamichi felt a shiver run down his spine. He had a bad feeling about the things that his friend was mentioning to him.

“Sorry…” Imaizumi suddenly said clearing his throat, “I didn’t mean to dampened the mood.”

“Oh no…i-it’s okay!” Sakamichi said and then smiled at Imaizumi, “I’m just glad you’re safe and okay.”

Imaizumi wrapped an arm around Sakamichi, “…I’m glad you’re okay too."

To Be Continued…