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Old Men Musings:十五夜

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     The moon is full in the deep cobalt sky, bathing everything in an ethereal glow. Unable to fall asleep for the third night in a row since returning to the citadel, Kogarasumaru rounds the terrace corner to find Tsurumaru staring up at the bright night sky. He had been walking as quietly as he could, so as not to wake the others deep asleep, but seeing Tsurumaru’s stiff back despite his relaxed seated position, Kogarasumaru knows that his presence had been detected even before he stepped into Tsurumaru’s periphery. Kogarasumaru pauses for a moment, and when he realizes Tsurumaru was not going to dismiss him, he gingerly sits down beside the lightly-robed white figure.

     They sit in silence, gazing at the round autumn moon. At this distance, Kogarasumaru can smell the scent of alcohol emanating from Tsurumaru. Glancing past his white sleeve, Kogarasumaru sees three empty bottles laying haphazardly beside a fourth, which is touching Tsurumaru’s fingertips. Noticing the direction of his gaze, Tsurumaru lifts the half-full bottle, raising his eyebrow to offer the drink wordlessly. Kogarasumaru shakes his head with a soft laugh.

     “Tsuru-san, it is dangerous to drink alone”, he chuckles as he accepts the bottle. Tsurumaru merely smirks his mischievous grin.

     It is only after Kogarasumaru takes a generous swig that Tsurumaru replies, “My regular drinking partner hasn’t been around as of late.”

     Kogarasumaru pauses at this information. Lowering the bottle, they both stare in silence at the full moon.

     “It’s become too quiet at night now,” Tsurumaru sighs, swinging his leg dangling over the wooden terrace. Kogarasumaru looks back at him, but Tsurumaru does not look away from the moon.

     Placing the bottle to the other side of him and out of reach of Tsurumaru, Kogarasumaru scoots a little bit closer and teases, “Tsuru-san, do you need an old man’s shoulder to cry on?”

     The immediate weight of Tsurumaru’s head on his shoulder takes Kogarasumaru by surprise. He hears Tsurumaru’s deep breathing now, slightly laboured by the copious alcohol running through his system. After a moment, Kogarasumaru returns his gaze to the moon.

     “His name really doesn’t reflect his beauty as much as this moon does”, Kogarasumaru can feel Tsurumaru’s voice reverberate through his body. “Mikatsuki…”

     Kogarasumaru carefully reaches his hand around to pat Tsurumaru’s cheek to offer some comfort. The white head rolls into Kogarasumaru’s chest, and he feels a slight dampness through his yukata. He doesn’t look down, allowing Tsurumaru privacy to express his grief.


     “I haven’t slept well since either, “ Kogarasumaru admits after Tsurumaru’s breathing returns to normal. “I guess I should have come around to the courtyard sooner…”, his voice trails off as he smoothes the white head of hair.

     “You smell nice for an old man”, Tsurumaru giggles into Kogarasumaru’s chest. Relief washes through Kogarasumaru as he hears Tsurumaru return to his usual jovial self, though he keeps his hand on the white head. Tsurumaru does not make any motion to remove himself from Kogarasumaru either, grasping tightly onto the front of the dark yukata.

     “I think I might have worn myself out enough to sleep tonight”, he whispers into Kogarasumaru’s chest, and Kogarasumaru feels his weight shift as Tsurumaru begins to lose consciousness. He carefully pulls the both of them back off the wooden terrace floor and into the large tatami room, lowering themselves gently onto the softer surface. He tries to remove his yukata from Tsurumaru’s grip, but gets a disgruntled whine in reply.

     “We can’t fall asleep like this, the weather’s changing and you’ll catch a cold”, Kogarasumaru admonishes into Tsurumaru’s ear, but Tsurumaru only buries himself deeper into Kogarasumaru’s chest. Seeing nothing within his reach to cover themselves with, Kogarasumaru releases a deep sigh.

     “Well, body heat’s better than no heat”, Kogarasumaru resigns to himself as he unties his obi, freeing his yukata to pull over both their bodies. At this, Tsurumaru giggles again, loosens his own obi and slides his yukata underneath Kogarasumaru’s cover, so that both of them were under two layers of cotton.

     “You better hope that Gokotai is not the one to find us in the morning”, Kogarasumaru muses, as Tsurumaru tucks the white yukata behind his back. He finds himself surprisingly sleepy under the current conditions, and barely registers Tsurumaru’s soft voice whisper into him, “I’m hoping Hasebe will…or maybe Mamba-chan will come home early…”




     Sayo finds Yagen drinking tea the next day, seated outside the large tatami room leading to the courtyard, with his back to the closed doors.

     “Why are you sitting out here and not inside the room?”, asks Sayo quizzically.