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Warrior's Spirit
Part 9


"Yahiko! Where are we going?" Tsubame couldn't decide whether to giggle, whine, or groan. She was blind-folded, and he was leading her down a worn, dirt path. She sighed for the hundredth time that morning, wishing he would tell her what he was planning. "I can't see anything." she reminded him. "And I keep feeling as though I'm going to fall!"

Yahiko grinned. "I promise, I won't let you trip or anything." He tightened his arm around her waist. "Besides, this is a surprise and I can't let you see it until we GET there."

She let out an exasperated sigh, but said nothing more.

It had been three weeks since the Shuei incident. Yahiko's ankle had almost healed, and Megumi and Kaoru found it impossible to keep the young man in his room. He insisted on at least watching training practice while Kaoru taught the students, and walking Tsubame home at nights. While he had been forced to stay in bed, Kenshin had taken over the role of her protector in his place.

This particular day was absolutely beautiful. It wasn't too hot, but the air was warm and a light breeze blew. The sunlight seemed to fill the country, painting everything in bright golden transparent color. Yahiko wore a white hakama and a blue and white Kamiya Kasshin practice outfit, though he hadn't been practicing since his fight. Tsubame was dressed in a pale blue kimono that had deeper blue flowers on the hems.

He finally stopped walking and gently pulled her up onto a grassy enbankment, making sure she didn't trip over her kimono. She giggled as she felt his hands slip into her hair and untie the blindfold.

As it dropped, she gasped. She couldn't believe what stood in front of her eyes. Yahiko put one arm around her waist and leaned over her shoulder. "I found it a few days ago while you were at work." he whispered. "I couldn't believe it was real."

"It's beautiful..." she murmured, still transfixed by the sight. "Then that dream... it was real?"

"Well, maybe not all of it." He grinned. "I don't think we'll be pulled apart if we go inside."

"Can we?" She turned and eagerly met his eyes. "If it's as beautiful inside as it was in the dream..." She paused. "Wait, we dreamed the same thing?!"

He nodded and started tugging at her arm. "Come on!"

Both of them laughed as they hurried up the rest of the small hill towards the orchard of sakura trees at the top. Brilliant pink petals swirled around them as they slowly walked inside, absorbing the reality of the place they had both dreamed of.

Yahiko kept his arm around Tsubame's waist, and she leaned in the crook between his arm and chest comfortably as they ambled through the orchard. Sunlight fell in soft patches, and the light breeze blew petals and flowers across their path and over them both. They stopped somewhere in the middle, and Yahiko turned to face her.

His hand gently slid down her cheek as he leaned in to kiss her. "Aishiteru." he smiled.

Tsubame's lips brushed his before he could reach her first. "I love you too, Yahiko." Her arms wrapped around him. "Can this be our special place?"

"Hmmm." He nodded and took a deep breath, inhaling the scent of blossoms. "Anything you wish." His eyes drifted upwards to the patches of sky through the tree branches. "Aishiteru."