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“Let’s run away,” 

“What?” Blue eyes turn to meet red ones filled with an intense amount of determination.

“I mean it, let’s run away,” Kashuu repeats as he stands up, not before catching Yasusada’s hand in a firm hold and bringing him up along. “If I’m going to be honest, this place sucks. I know we were summoned to fight and that we’re supposed to fight, but we were brought here as humans- and yet we aren't allowed to actually be human?” 

Yasusada stares at the hands gripping his own, still processing his words. 

Even without explanation, Yasusada had known what he meant. Life in the citadel, with their master, was cold and robotic. As a young man, the sage was surprisingly stoic and stout in his conviction- obviously trying to prove himself despite his age. So strict that, no one even knew his name, demanding only to be called master.

By him, any indication of enjoyment of life outside their routine monotony was not allowed. The tantous especially, despite their childish and playful nature, were treated just as strictly as everyone else by the sage much to the frequent horror of all of the “older” swords when they were forced on more tedious expeditions and sorties to instill the pride of work over frivolity. 

Any misstep was punished indiscriminately and with no exception; and at first, Yasusada thought he liked the idea of a familiar militant structure. But even he doesn't remember the Shinsengumi looking so miserable in their daily life; the threat of westerners or dissenters be damned, they still managed to have fun- and most importantly, to be human. The rules of the formerly rudimentary police force made way more sense than anything their master had even come up with. 

Shaking himself from those thoughts, Yasusada can’t bring himself to believe that Kashuu was genuinely serious. “What about master?” he says, looking up at his partner like he might have been making a joke (ha, as if that could actually happen). 

“What about them? Do you think someone who's so mean and cold to the people that are on their side is a good person? I thought I could be happy with him if I worked hard and he loved me,” his expression becomes unreadable as he takes a pause, presumably gathering his own thoughts “...But master doesn't only not love me, they don't love anybody. I don't think they can,” he finishes still enjoying the familiar warmth that was Yasusada’s hands.

“After Ikedaya and now this, I think I'm done with masters. Besides,” he says dropping his voice an octave as was routine when they shared soft and gentle caresses that were frowned upon as much as any other thing that could be considered a waste of time in their citadel. “Why would I need a master's love when I have you?” he says sweetly, pulling Yasusada in close to press a kiss to his forehead in the darkness of their room.

Any vestige of disagreement died the moment his lover's soft lips gently caressed his forehead and Yasusada looked up, bringing a warm and loving palm to cradle the side of Kashuu's face. “Sweet talker,” he mutters, feigning annoyance.

“So, will you run away with me?” Kashuu asks, gently holding the hand cupping his face and staring at the pale face in front of him illuminated by the moonlight spilling through a small crack in the shoji leading to the outside.

It takes a few minutes of tense silence before Yasusada's gaze meets his again. 

“When you put it like that, how can I say no?”

But even with that sweet assurance, tension began to lay thick in the air as if the world around them knew what was to come next as they indulged in one another with that promise on their lips. 

If only they had known as well.