The Wind Cries

Shouka and Seien talk, some secrets are revealed, and Seien gets a shock. Drama, I-4

Character(s): Kou Shouka, Shi Seien

“Seiran, do you have a moment?”

Seiran blinked as Shouka-sama appeared silently in the door of his rooms just as Seiran tiptoed past. “Of course.” He wasn’t actually sleepy yet, and followed curiously as Shouka-sama led him to a seat at the antechamber’s small table. Shouka-sama sat down across from him, resting clasped hands against his chin. Seiran waited, watching the master of the house in the flickering candlelight.

“Seiran—” Shouka-sama hesitated, “Seien. Do you know who I am?”

Seien tipped his head, puzzled. “Kou Shouka, eldest of the Kou clan’s main lineage, though the leadership of the clan went to your younger brother,” he recited from years-ago lessons on history and politics.

“Ah.” Shouka-sama seemed to slump a little and scrubbed a hand over his eyes. Seien frowned; clearly there was something more. He cast his mind back, stumbling a little in his thoughts as he tried to set aside the raging chill of the year before this one and look closely at the bright, smooth memories of his years in the palace. The foolish, innocent confidence of them made him wince away a bit, but he could find nothing there to explain the tight line of Shouka-sama’s mouth.

“I suppose I shouldn’t have expected you to be told.” Shouka-sama sighed and straightened. “I am also,” he said quietly, looking down at his laced fingers, “the Black Wolf.”

For a moment Seiran couldn’t place the name, and then he could and started upright, staring. “You… but…!” How was it possible? Shouka-sama moved gracefully, to be sure, but… He was strong, yes, he had lifted Seiran before with no sign of strain, but…!

Surely someone that deadly should show it, the way it showed in his brothers’ eyes, or in Meishou’s smile.

But wouldn’t that be the most deadly of all, a corner of his mind noted, to seem utterly harmless? Was that not, after all, what he and his partner had done, among the Satsujinzoku?

Seien wet his lips and swallowed. The Black Wolf. The Emperor’s assassin. “Why are you telling me this?” he asked, husky.

Shouka-sama stopped looking taut and looked blank instead for a moment. “Oh!” He waved his hands. “No, no, you’re in no danger at all! It’s not like that!”

Seien couldn’t help slumping a bit with relief. He knew he was exceptional with a sword, but the stories of the Black Wolf were… daunting.

Shouka-sama made a slightly exasperated sound and rose to come around the table and lay his hands on Seien’s shoulders. “I didn’t take you in just to have you handy to kill,” he said briskly. “I took you in to care for you as a son of this household.”

Seien’s eyes widened as he stared up at Shouka-sama, struck utterly breathless by that matter-of-fact warmth. “Shouka-sama,” he whispered.

Shouka-sama smiled faintly. “I told you this so that you would understand what it means when I say that the Emperor sent me to find and guard you.” His hands tightened for a moment on Seien’s shoulders. “And when I say that I no longer need his command to do it.”

Wetness in Seiran’s eyes made the candlelight waver even more as he blinked it back. His voice trembled with the intensity of feelings too wild to contain—hope and fear and a rushing warmth he’d never thought he would feel again. “Shouka-sama…”

Shouka-sama’s eyes were dark and sober. “I always knew who you were. And I know, better than you think, what kind of choices are before you. So I’m telling you now: choose your path. Any shadows you see along it,” a small smile, “will be mine.”

Seiran bent his head. “Thank you.” He was dizzy with the strangeness of it all, of being offered protection. And, far more than that, of trusting in the one who offered.

Shouka-sama’s hand rested on his head for a moment. “You should be off to bed, then. Growing children need their sleep, and Shoukun will scold me if I don’t let you get it.”

Seiran laughed, and if it was a little damp neither of them mentioned the fact. “Yes, Shouka-sama. Good night, then.”

“Good night. Seiran.”

Seiran paused and looked back and bobbed a nod before closing the door behind him.