Mikazuki sits in the veranda and takes a long sip of his tea, looking at the small pond in front of them. He hears Aki sigh and grumble, muttering something but not quite sure of the words.
There is silence, only the faint noises from the wind, the seemingly far-away chirps of birds bring this faint background noise, as if the two of them are standing in a still photo. Aki doesn’t really answer anything concrete and Mikazuki just sips his tea.
“Master!” Kanesan whines as he carries one of the crates full of the harvested tomatoes and is threatening to throw it on the hall’s floor but the intense glares of Aki and Yamanbagiri stop him. “Why do we have to work?”
Aki sighs because she knows his question is “Why do I have to work?” and he’s still trying to slack off, even it’s been already a year since he arrived. Sometimes Kanesan seems like a toddler wanting to act as an adult, especially grating since the swords acting closer to children whine less.
“Because if you don’t, you don’t get any privileges, dumbass. You also are getting food, so shut it and put those where Blanket tells you to.”
“What a chore!” Kanesan replies and huffs, trying to flip his hair while still holding the crate and those tomatoes linger dangerously on the border. “Why do we have to do this? Aren’t we fighting already? That should be enough and we shouldn’t have to care about anything else. Isn’t there anyone else you could hire to do this? The government people should pay someone, I don’t know.”
Aki stares at him for a moment, flicks his nose and takes the crate off his hands. “That is partially true but let me tell you that those fuckers aren’t going to give us anything so that you freeload. In case you hadn’t figured out for a whole year, we’ve been stranded here on our own and our situation will hardly change.” She begins walking and for once, Kanesan walks behind her, even though she is doing his job and he could just leave, but he is interested in the reason he has to work. “They know we can handle this somehow and they won’t invest more on people to do the work so that you sleep all day. And it also helps you learn to do shit once the fighting is over.”
Kanesan stops abruptly and Aki takes a moment to realize he’s fallen behind. She turns to see his confused face, as he tilts his head. “After the fighting is over?” he mumbles.
“Well, we aren’t fighting forever, Kanesan.”
Aki blinks and realizes that the times Kanesan spent with a human involved endless fighting, even if it was only for some years. Perhaps the passing of time since Hijikata died and when he was summoned was as if he was in a deep slumber and so, he can’t fathom a time where there isn’t bloodshed in his daily routine.
“Then what happens next?”
Aki gruffs and holds the crate tightly, “That’s for you to decide.”
There’s the lingering fire on his lips, Mikazuki’s body on top of hers, head resting in her chest, steadying breaths, as they revel in that afterglow. Her fingers run through his hair, so soft and gentle unlike the harsh tugging and pulling from minutes ago and Mikazuki laughs at the way how something can go both ways. It’s his laugh that stops her motion and he just chuckles to himself.
“Have you ever wondered how it was that you found yourself in this situation?”
“It doesn’t matter.”
Aki breathes deeply and resumes what she was doing. “Well, I never imagined I’d end up like this. Whether you mean you sharing my bed or me being in this stranded place. But there’s really no use thinking too hard about it.”
“Surely Master has wondered if things would have been different, should Master had done this or that, should Master have avoided trusting in-”
“Of course it’s what anyone would do. The what-if. You’ve probably done it too.”
Mikazuki blinks for a moment then chuckles as he buries his head on her chest. “Perhaps I have. But after all that has happened, thinking on the past possibilities no longer makes a difference.”
“It never did, what’s done is done. I can’t change my mistakes or the choices I made.”
“Well, you actually can, my dear Aki.”
“That may be so, but I won’t. If my idiocy back then brought me here, then I have no choice but to go on. Besides, it isn’t so bad now. Perhaps in another world I would have never met you. That makes worth the past shit.”
Mikazuki laughs and crawls to meet her face, leaning closer to press his lips against her. “Well, I wouldn’t mind spending the rest of our time together.”
She stares at him deeply as she whispers, “Are you sure?”
“There’s endless possibilities, Kanesan. But at the same time, they are limited. Of course you can’t become a rock star since you can’t sing worth shit but there is a world of things you can do.” Kanesan looks confused at Aki and she just shrugs. “Look, no one asked to be born, in that way we are similar. You do know why you are here, for now anyway, but after that, who knows? Just think about what you want to do.”
“I never had thought about it…”
“No one has, and many still don’t know. But at least you’ll be able to do something while you figure this out.”
“But why then don’t you tell me. Seeing you are already telling me to work on something.”
Aki puts the crate down and gets close to him, Kanesan steps back instinctively as he suspects he’ll get punished for his snarky reply. Instead, Aki ruffles his hair.
“I could tell you what to do, but I would rather you discovered what you want to do. Perhaps you were a sword in the past, perhaps you were summoned first to fight, but now I want you to think about the after, about what Kanesan wants to do next, not what me or the government wants. You now have a life of your own, dumbass.”
“And if I don’t have any clue?”
“Well, you can ask for hints then, but not to have someone telling you what to do next.”
“Well, I never thought about it deeply…” Aki wonders aloud as she looks at the pond and plays with her hair. “You can’t say it’s only emotions because animals can feel too and we are animals yet different, even if some show they are worse. Some say it’s the ability to think and reason but a lot of people hardly show these skills.”
“My, my, that is a rather scientific explanation,” Mikazuki says with a playful smile and Aki punches his arm lightly.
“Jackass… I mean, I don’t really know what makes a human one. I can only guess yet all the questions are limited by exceptions and things… You could say it’s because of free will…”
“Ah, that which several religions talk about, the ability of a being to make a choice, to decide an action. Certainly it was the center of many schools of thought.”
“Yet at times you can’t do much. If you have a gun pointed at your head and someone demands you to do something or you die, that’s not much of a choice if you refuse to do that. Sure, that’s technically your choice but it’s a forced situation and one where you have no freedom in the first place… But many times we can hardly choose for ourselves. You don’t pick where you are born or how you look and at times, it’s more randomness that seems to decide our lives.”
“Hmmm… That sounds troublesome. Defining a human…”
“If you are wondering where you stand, now that you look and act like a human but you weren’t born the same, I can’t really help. All of you are singularities in this world and I don’t think there is anyone who holds these answers. But I know you can feel so many things and you can think, and I think you can choose what you want to do next. Perhaps you don’t see yourself as one, but I at least see all of you the same as me.”
“A ha ha ha, in many religions equaling yourself to a god would be a blasphemy, my dearest Aki.”
“So then, do you see yourself as a god?”
Mikazuki puts down his cup and looks at her in the eye, his hand cupping her face gently. “I’ve lived for so long that it lost all meaning. An entity born after a hundred years yet unable to move or do much, an existence closer to inexistence and bound to the whims of fate. In a way, it is not different from a human, with a much shorter lifespan but an equal end.”
“Ha, then you are just the same. Wondering about the what-ifs and wondering about your past, it isn’t really different, is it?”
“I suppose we all do illogical things at times, but that is what makes a human one, their contradictory nature.”
“I am free to choose, remember?” Mikazuki whispers as presses her lips against his once more. “And for one, I want to choose to stay together. I will let you dress me every day and in turn I’ll make you scream every nig-” His words are muffled because she pulls his lips as her cheeks redden.
“A ha ha ha, but this idiot has only one heart beating for you and all I would want is to enjoy our time like this, holding each other as time passes.” The last words are low and laced with emotion, as Mikazuki moves closer to her ear, pressing his body against hers. “It might have been a whim of fate that brought us together, but I choose to stay. I hope you will take care of me from now on, my beloved Aki.”
Aki wraps her arms around him and leans her head against his.
“I will always, Mikazuki.”