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Nobuyuki had followed the four hooded people until they reached the deviation north, which would bring them close home. If they kept on walking in around three days they would reach the village three of them were from. It was before dawn to ensure no one asked any questions and the group wouldn’t be seen by anyone else. Sanada was on the lookout but by now any activity in Osaka Castle had died, and the only ones remaining were those samurai awaiting orders.

“Take care, Yukimura, everyone,” Nobuyuki said as he held his younger brother close to him, bidding him not a farewell but a safe trip.

“Kobe is not that fucking far, unless someone gets distracted,” Ren grumbled, looking more than ready to leave the place, though he huffed when Daigo shot him one look and just desisted to kick the grass near his feet.

“I thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Nobuyuki continued, having let go of his brother and now bowed deeply. “I’ll always be in your debt. Please, take care of Yukimura.”

If Ren was going to say something, he was probably quieted before by Daigo’s intense stare. Rinne, who stepped forward as Nobuyuki spoke, offered him a smile as she took Yukimura’s hand and leaned next to him. “We’ll make sure he doesn’t get in trouble.” Then, she nudged him lightly and Yukimura coughed awkwardly, aware that he was being teased.

“I’ll send you a letter when we arrive, Brother,” Yukimura bowed as he spoke. “Please have a safe trip back to Ueda.”

For the first time in a long time, Sanada could see a bright smile on Nobuyuki’s face. “Yeah, I will. By the way, Yukimura? If you are in doubt, you should ask your future wife for advice. She’s deceptively cute and harmless for a lion heart warrior, but she’ll surely have something in mind.”

Now it was Rinne’s time to flush and shot a mortified glare at Nobuyuki though she didn’t deny anything and instead managed to mumble, “’I’ll help him in the best way I can…”

And before long, the group of the four cladded men blended in the forest, with Nobuyuki and Sanada watching them until they were no longer be visible.

-

 “Ahhh, it’s time to take a break and enjoy some tea,” Uguisumaru sighs as he sits on the veranda, setting aside all the cleaning tools and taking out some cups he carefully hid beforehand. The smell of the tea leaves is strong and Uguisumaru hums as he enjoys the steam rising.

“If Master sees you skipping on your duties, she will punish you like she did with the younger Kanesada-dono.”

Uguisumaru laughs brightly as he puts a cup in Sengo’s hand, and receives a confused glance as thanks. “I wonder when you will actually stop calling him like that? Anyone knows our Kanesan is a lost cause, but you still keep the honorifics.”

“Huh? Is there a problem in that?” Sengo blinks repeatedly and looks at his sides, dilemma written on his face, holding a cup in one hand and a broom in the other.

“Ahahaha,” a calm voice interrupts and Higekiri takes Sengo’s cup from behind. “No, no, you are fine the way you are. Kanesan surely appreciates being called like that.”

“Higekiri-dono, you are finished doing fieldwork for the day, are you not?”

Higekiri looks at Sengo with a cheerful shameless smile as he says, “Not at all, but I smelt the tea and thought it is a perfect time to take a small break.”

Sengo sighs and suddenly finds another cup in his hand, stealthily put by Uguisumaru, who is already enjoying his. “If Master finds us…” However he can’t finish his sentence before Uguisumaru almost chokes on his tea at the same time he’s smacked lightly on his head. Higekiri laughs as he is smacked too but none of them look terribly afraid when they turn to see Aki.

Aki folds her hands and stares at both carefree slackers and the reluctant worker. “You can drink all that shit when you are done with your work for the day. You should learn from Sengo, he is working and not slacking off, you fucking blobs.”

“Ahahaha, I didn’t notice Master arrived.”

“Then, you won’t notice when I throw you in the pond next time I find you slacking. No, better yet, when I throw this fucker’s tea set in the pond.”

Uguisumaru smiles at Aki but receives a deep long stare in exchange. Eventually, his smile fades and he reluctantly stands up. “Master is joking about this, right?” he asks with a less carefree tone and Aki just continues looking at him. “…I’ll go back once I finish this cup.”

“I’m only letting you off scot free because Sengo’s with you and he is a good boy unlike you two. Next time I find you slacking, I’m going to have you clean the toilet with your toothbrushes.”

“Ahahaha, Yamanbagiri told me about that one. It seems so surreal to believe.”

“Try your hardest to tempt me, Blondie.”

“M-Master…” Sanada voice interrupts them, partially nervous as he’s realized he arrived at a bad time. “I-I was wondering if Sengo could help me…”

Aki sighs in defeat realizing their chores will not be finished. She takes Sengo’s broom from his hands and shoves it into Higekiri’s hands, after hitting both Higekiri and Uguisumaru with the handle on the head. “Fine fine, go help him, Sengo. Blondie, clean this fucking shit up.”

Higekiri laughs heartily, glancing casually as Sengo disappears from the veranda, carrying Sanada on his back.

 

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