"It wouldn't make a difference if you killed me now or never." He whispered so softly the words barely passed his lips. "I'm already dead."
Tsuzuki stared at him, his face filled with confusion and questions. The young man turned carelessly to Tsuzuki, his once lively silver eyes now reflecting a tired and dull gray. The eyes that Tsuzuki once envied and longed to have were now as dead as the wind around them.
"Why?" Tsuzuki asked the young man. The swordsman and the archer were once his close friend and at times more. But seeing him standing so close to the edge was the most painful sight Tsuzuki could remember. Far worse than the one memory that constantly haunted the poor swordsman.
"Do you see the setting sun Tsuzuki-kun?" The young archer replied with his own question.
Tsuzuki frowned to himself but ignored that the archer had left his question unanswered.
Tsuzuki turned his gaze to the distant star and watched as the last of its crown disappeared into the horizon. He watched the wisps of yellow, orange and white sink into the dark shadow blue of the ocean. Lingering traces of the day colors streaked across the sky in vibrant shades of reds, purples, blues, orange and some colors that for only that moment existed on earth. Soft bundles of clouds drifted across the light filled sky in a way that for a brief second Tsuzuki wished with all his heart he could drift away into the wonderful nothingness hidden in the sky.
"I see it." Tsuzuki said as he tore his pearl black eyes away from the heavens.
"That sun is our village." The archer whispered as a lone tear cut a path down his face. "I can see all of them in it now. All their faces smiling and laughing at me, all their eyes so filled with love." He took a slow step forward. Tsuzuki quickly reacted and drew his sword.
"Izumi stop!" He had not meant to shout his words but they came out rough and sharp. The young archer turned and stared at Tsuzuki, a flash of life in his eyes.
"Tsuzuki-kun remembered my name." He whispered softly as he turned back to the setting sun. "I'm glad."
Izumi took a few more steps forward until he was only half a step away from falling into the darkening sea below.
"Izumi." Tsuzuki said as he tried to follow his friend but failed. His legs kept him planted too far a distance away.
"I can see him there too Tsuzuki-san." Izumi smiled gently towards the dying light. "Him and your sister."
Izumi's words struck Tsuzuki hard in a place he wanted to forget. He tried to send the archer a look to silence him but Izumi was too lost in his selective sight.
"Mimiru-chan looks so happy." Izumi sighed. "She looks so beautiful in her summer kimono. The green one with the blue cheery blossoms all around the rim and sleeves. She truly is a vision of elegance in that kimono. Absolutely beautiful."
"Izumi stop." Tsuzuki warned. The memory of his sister's favorite kimono was still fresh in his mind. He could still picture his sweet little Mimiru dancing around like a falling flower in a gentle breeze. Her smile brighter then the sun, stars or moon. Her soft laugh that could break the hardest warriors heart and lift the poorest man's spirit. Her rose colored lips that never needed pain and her pale skin that made any woman glare in enraged envy.
She was so beautiful in Tsuzuki's mind but the truth was she would always remain that way. She died with all the others that day. Nearly five years ago on that horrific day.
"Hikaru has his arm wrapped around her." Izumi lifted his hand and tried to grasp the image only he could see. "Do you remember when Hikaru asked your sister to be his bride?"
Izumi turned to Tsuzuki and held a smile that forced Tsuzuki to drop his glare. Tsuzuki nodded slowly as the memory filled him. Izumi smiled as he watched the swordsman's eyes glaze over in the joyance sad memory.
"We were walking to the market that day." Tsuzuki closed his eyes as Izumi painted the memory with his words. "Your mother asked us to get her a bag of rice for dinner when we came across your sister holding a small doll in her hand. You wanted to walk towards her and tease her about having such a childish thing but then you saw Hikaru hand your sister another doll. She was so happy at the sight of a simple doll and it puzzled you to no end."
Tsuzuki chuckled softly to himself as he remembered turning to Izumi and asking if the doll his sister had was made out of gold.
"Then Hikaru took you sister to the riverside and like the nosy brother you were you followed them. It was then that Hikaru handed you sister that flower and told her that he wanted her to be his bride. That he wanted to be with her until she was as old as the forest and still love her more then he could ever say. And do you remember what your sister said?"
"She said," He opened his eyes and found his gaze locked with Izumi's. "'I'll love you until each stand of your hair is gone and the village children think you're a wandering spirit. And even then I will still love you more than anyone has ever loved."
Izumi turned his gaze back to the sky and almost seemed defeated as the last bit of light vanished.
"But they never got their wedding." Izumi told the sky.
There was a silence between the two life long friends that neither wanted to break. It was a silence that let their minds wander to what would soon happen and what they both knew to be true.
"You can kill me if you wish Tsuzuki-kun." Izumi told the swordsman. "But before you so I want to give you something."
Tsuzuki watched his friend take his bow off his back along with his quiver of arrows. He set them both down carefully like slumbering children before he looked up at his friend. His eyes watched Tsuzuki, as he stood motionless but still so full of life.
"Three years ago you gave this to me along with something I had only seen in Hikaru and Mimi-chan." Izumi whispered as he reached into his quiver and drew out a small hand carved neko. The small cat figure was crudely carved and rather worn but Izumi still held it with tender care.
"This neko was your way of telling me you loved me and after all these years I can finally do the same for my Tsuzuki-kun."
Tsuzuki stared at Izumi and watched as he stood straight and reached into his robe. He pulled out a small wooden figure and held it out to Tsuzuki.
Izumi's eyes were once again sparkling with life and more tears filled his shining eyes.
"I love you Tsuzuki." He smiled timidly and lovingly.
Tsuzuki went to reach for Izumi instead of the statue in his hand but before he could his love was taken from him.
Izumi jerked back and stumbled from the force of the arrow that had hit his chest. Tsuzuki watched in horror as his secret beloved lost his footing and no matter how desperately Tsuzuki tired to reach out to him Izumi fell off the edge of the cliff and disappeared into the water's shadows.
"Izumi!" Tsuzuki shouted as he grasped the empty air. "Izumi!"
Tsuzuki fell to his knees and dug his fingers into the soft stone covered ground. He cried and shouted his archer's name.
Beside him was the small figure. A small detailed carving of a dog and cat sleeping beside each other, the dog wrapped protectively around the cat slumbering peacefully beside one another and unaffected by the horrors of the world.
A/N: please review and enjoy