Chapter 9

Chapter 9: Denial

Hisa looked at Kazu as if he was a new person altogether…He actually was because he seemed nothing like the person who’d escorted her to this village. Her eyes roamed over his face, taking in the details. She’d  been wondering what Kazu would look like without his mask and had tried coming up with several images, but they had been nowhere as handsome as he was in reality. With her eyes, she followed his strong jaw-line until her eyes fell on his clothing, they were more casual than she remembered. He was wearing a simple black shirt with beige trousers. Maybe it was because he was in the comfort of his own home, but he seemed more relaxed and approachable.

“Is everything okay, Hisa-sama?” Eiji asked Hisa when he saw the thoughtful look on her face, but she was too lost in thoughts to hear him.

Kazu, wondering why it had suddenly gone quiet, looked up at Hisa with a questioning expression on his face, making her heart flutter. Hisa blinked furiously, her cheeks starting to tinge the darkest shade of pink as she uncomfortably shifted in her seat.

At the same time Yutaka, who had been non-stop chatting, had taken notice of the silence and after quickly eyeing his father and brother, he slightly leaned closer to Hisa, “Hime-sama? Are you okay?”

Hisa looked to her free side and gripped her chopsticks tighter, desperately trying to come up with an excuse. She’d realized this was a quite embarrassing and awkward situation. She was sitting next to the man she was promised to, but was ogling his brother instead.  “Everything is fine,” she eventually replied, unable to think of a valid excuse. “I was just thinking that Yutaka-san and Kazuhiko-san are very different from each other.”

Kazu cocked an eyebrow at her tactics, but thought it wasn’t his problem until Tama started snickering, “I told you she likes you.”

“Don’t start again,” Kazu picked up his chopsticks whilst he tried to shake off the comment. Tama had stopped bringing up this subject but it seemed like it wasn’t that easy to make him forget things. Kazu had gotten more used to Tama but still not enough to cope with his idiotic jokes and annoying comments.

“Accept it already, it will make life easier.”

“There is nothing to accept.”

“So you don’t like her either?”

“No,” Kazu couldn’t help himself but discretely stare at Hisa as he replied to Tama. “I’m not saying I don’t like her…as a person, or don’t get along…or hate…or-”

“Save the excuses. You’re rambling, that’s proof enough for me.”

“I’m not rambling.” Kazu thought back, getting irritated. He didn’t want to admit it but Hisa was a touchy subject to him for some reason. It got him irritated rather quickly.

“You always get so worked up.”

 “Try talking to someone with your level of intelligence.”

“Touché,” Tama chuckled, “But maybe it’s because you don’t know how to react to her which you express through anger.”

“Why are you spacing out now Kazu?”  Yutaka laughed slightly, unknowingly breaking up Tama and Kazu’s argument, “Seems like it’s contagious.”

“It’s nothing,” Kazu put his chopsticks down. “I don’t feel hungry.”

“Hisa-sama doesn’t feel very hungry either it seems.” Eiji chuckled as he watched her poke the norimaki which he had placed on her plate a while ago. “If you want to skip it and eat desert instead, I’m in,” He whispered jokingly, loud enough for everyone to hear.

Hisa blushed, trying hard not to look in Kazu’s direction. Truth was, she felt too embarrassed to eat in front of him because she had a quite healthy appetite. But then she shouldn’t care what he thought of her, right? Yes, she shouldn’t and she had to stop this nonsense before it was too late. It was not like she had a crush on him, she just found him intriguing because he behaved different than what she was used to from people. That was all.

She smiled, neatly placing her chopsticks next to her bowl. “I’m just a little tired, I will be fine after some rest.”

“O-of course,” Eiji stood up and held his hand out to Hisa to escort her back to her room.

“Leave it to me,” Kazu placed a hand on his father’s shoulder as he stood up, “I have to go that way anyway.”

“Ah, yeah,” Eiji motioned for her to follow Kazu before he sat down, “Have a good rest.”

She quickly bowed to Eiji and Yutaka –who smiled in return – and quickly followed him down the hall, grinning to herself. It felt nostalgic. When he had been on a mission to escort her here, she would always walk behind him like this too.

“It’s raining men, hallelujah,” Bekkou sang as they sat in their tent with their leader not so far from them, “It’s raining men!”

Annoyed, Yoroi wacked him over the head and tucked his arm back in his blanket that he was wrapping around himself, “Shut up, Imai-sama is trying to rest.”

“I’m cold!” Bekkou scooted closer to Yoroi and put his head on his shoulder, “Why did it have to rain now?”

Yoroi turned his head away trying to make as less body contact with Bekkou as possible, “You have so much fat, how can you even feel anything?”

“Don’t be mean to me when I’m not feeling well.” Bekkou wrapped his arms around Yoroi’s boney body and pulled him closer, crushing him in a hug, “we can stay warm this way.”

“You better not fart.”

“Promise.”

Tetsuo watched them astonished, but didn’t make any comment.

Mineo chuckled, “You get used to it.”

Hisa stood on her balcony admiring the stars like she did every night. Even though there was a heavy rain, the stars were still visible. She liked the idea that it didn’t matter how far you lived or traveled, you always saw the same stars every night.  It was something that remained the same no matter how her life changed and different turmoil was raised.

Maybe it was finally time that her life would get more stable without her disappointing people over and over again. She still remembered the two visions she hadn’t told anyone about yet, but maybe she got it wrong again and she should just let it rest. After all, things had been settled and nothing could go wrong. It was especially the vision about Kazu that had caused her to have sleepless nights but so much time had passed, almost a month, and he had proved himself nothing but to be loyal.

Hisa jerked her head to the side when she heard a noise. She cautiously looked over the balcony, but didn’t see anyone. Relaxing again, she let out a deep breath before she decided to go to bed. It had been a long and surprising day, which had left her exhausted.

She walked inside and closed the door behind her but before she could make another move she felt an arm wrap around her and a hand keeping her from screaming. Her eyes widened and she struggled to free herself, but only muffled noises escaped her mouth. Her heart raced like crazy as she tried to get out of his grip.

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