The citadel, for once, was quiet.
The dying rays of the sun had begun to slip below the horizon, casting a warm glow across the walls that was befitting of the cusp of summer. The air felt heavy and stagnant, the grass unmoving except where Gokotai’s tigers darted through and swiped at the strands, and Kuniyuki felt the weight of it as he sprawled across the engawa. He lay along the edge of the wood, one arm propping up his head as he stared out into the sunset.
The dull pulse in his other forearm had yet to fade, the pain ever-burning beneath the bandages.
The citadel remained quiet, no hint of footsteps, and Kuniyuki brought his arm up to stare at the white cloth he’d hastily wrapped around it. He had no frame of reference for these things - swords were in the business of creating wounds rather than healing them, after all - but he had hoped the pain would subside soon, if only because it was making it harder for him to sleep.
Kuniyuki nearly toppled off the edge.
He grabbed at his chest, heart pounding wildly as he looked up at the source of familiar laughter. Tsurumaru stood above him, a broad and self-satisfied grin beaming down as he laughed - and something about the sight, even familiar as it was now, of a sword of such grace and beauty consumed with such human-like joy makes Kuniyuki pause mid-breath. Tsurumaru almost seemed to glow beneath the dying sun, and even as he shuffles to sit beside him, still laughing softly, it takes Kuniyuki another few moments to find his words again.
"I told you that was bad for my heart, didn’t I, Tsurumaru-han?”
“Sorry, did I surprise you?”
The mischievous twist to his grin made the apology seem insincere, but Kuniyuki found he didn’t mind. The sky began to darken, and some part of him missed the brilliant expression when it faded to a more restrained smile.
“Still injured, are you?” Tsurumaru’s eyes flicked down to his forearm, and Kuniyuki couldn’t help but feel that the molten gold burns right through the bandages.
“Ahh,” Kuniyuki sighed, turning his head to avoid the gaze that slid back up to his face, “I don’t really have the energy to go to the repair room right now, you know? We only just got back from this mission, so try not to expect anything out of me for a while.” He yawned pointedly, lying back across the engawa as he was before with an exaggerated stretch, and tried to pretend the reason he didn’t meet the piercing gaze is because his head found itself near Tsurumaru’s leg.
“If it healed on its own,” Tsurumaru began, “wouldn’t that be a surprise? Almost like we were really human.”
Kuniyuki tried to keep his breath even, and Tsurumaru laughed again.
“Human, huh?” Kuniyuki murmured, the fingers of his injured arm flexing involuntarily, and he hears Tsurumaru’s chains clink and shift. He tilts his head up and back, looking up, and Tsurumaru’s still staring down at him. A pensive frown had taken over his features, and as their eyes finally met Tsurumaru’s hand came down to wrap around Kuniyuki’s upper arm.
“You surprised me a bit too back there, you know?” Tsurumaru continued, the smile returning to his face, and Kuniyuki found himself strangely glad to see it return even as he ripped his eyes away to stare back at the darkened horizon.
He wasn’t sure what possessed him to do it, but he told himself it was to stem Tsurumaru’s next words.
Kuniyuki sat half-upright, shuffling backwards and dropping his head into Tsurumaru’s lap, and some vindictive satisfaction shot through him at his new view of the surprise on Tsurumaru’s face. The hesitance that he sensed from the usually carefree sword was new to him, and he waited in silence, blinking up at Tsurumaru with feigned innocence.
Slowly, delicately, a hand moved from Tsurumaru’s side to slide thin fingers through Kuniyuki’s hair.
Though Tsurumaru’s fingers were cold, the touch felt like it burned Kuniyuki’s skin more than the nearly-forgotten pain in his forearm. The fabric of Tsurumaru’s clothes was impossibly soft beneath Kuniyuki’s neck, and he found himself involuntarily leaning into it.
“What are you doing?” Tsurumaru asked, the usually cheerful voice soft and musical as he smiled down at him.
“Are you complaining?” Kuniyuki deflects, voice high in an affected whine, “I thought I was the one who never wanted to do anything around here.”
“Not complaining, just wondering.” Tsurumaru countered, and Kuniyuki huffed, “It’s not as though I mind taking care of you.”
Kuniyuki felt the blood rush to his cheeks, turning his face again to try and hide it though he’s sure Tsurumaru saw, and even through his anger at his own transparency his found himself wondering, what a human thing to do. He cleared his throat, collecting himself as he turned back, and tried to speak evenly.
“Well, treat me gently, okay?”
Tsurumaru hummed in response, non-committal and yet reassuring, and Kuniyuki felt the last of the wary tension he’d been carrying since Tsurumaru startled him slip away.
He really didn’t feel like doing anything, anyway, so he thought it was fine to stay - stay where Tsurumaru’s cool fingers can keep winding soothingly in his hair, and let his eyes slip shut as the sky darkened.
As he drifted off, he wondered if Tsurumaru would still be there when he woke - or would he fly away, like his namesake, and slip from Kuniyuki’s grasp?
His brow furrowed slightly, and Tsurumaru’s fingers stilled.
“Let it be a surprise.” Tsurumaru whispered, and Kuniyuki sighed, shifting so that more of him sprawled over Tsurumaru’s lap. If Tsurumaru tried to leave, he hoped it would wake him - and that he could try and catch him before he slipped away.