A Moment in Time
Chapter 2: Love's Embrace
By Nagyra
 
 

The second time I saw Kiminobu was the same day that Beatriz was in one of her
"moods". Although, all of Beatrizí moods were, by no means, pleasant, the mood
she was in that day was perhaps the worst.
And what was worse than worst, she had her friends over. A couple of prima
donnas who were as bitchy as Beatriz herself. Well, birds of the same feather DO
flock together and if what was up to me, Iíd shoot them all from the sky and
bring them back down to the earth--just to remind them where they belonged.
AND if it was up to me, Iíd throw Beatriz out of the house and into the mud on
the streets.
But my father liked Beatriz, as disgusting as that might sound. If there was
anything my father had been weak at ever since my motherís death, it would be
women. Women. Women. Women.
He was so miserable with my motherís passing and even more with my little
brotherís that he turned to women for distraction. But of course, I never
learned of this until I turned thirteen and by that time, I respected and loved
my father enough to not mind him. Though, I DID mind the women he brought home
with him.
One even tried to get into MY bed. She paid for that, of course. My father had
Hanagata ship her out to some unknown place immediately for as much as my father
adored women, he HATED being betrayed. He had laid down the worst of tortures to
the traitors of previous battles which he led. My father was not my father
whenever he was feeling betrayed.
But, along with all the other things that seek to scar his reputation--though
never successfully as Saltare and the whole of Bellum loved Augustus le Vider, I
turned a blind-eye on these things. I owed my father THAT much.
So before I completely go off on a tangent here, let me return to that day when
Beatriz was rearranging the house for the hundredth time that week. I couldnít
stand it. And neither could most people who stayed in the house--everyone hated
her, but for the sake of my father, we tried to tolerate with her. Or just get
the Hell out of her way.
Which is what I did. I left the house in search of a sanctum where I could
practice on my sword for even the gardens in my fatherís house were no escape
from Beatriz.
There hadnít been any kind of upset in the Empire recently and there were no
real wars to be fought outside Bellum. Soldiers during this time usually get
bored to death. Me and my comrades were no exception.
As I made my way to the local training grounds which were, more or less deserted
as there was peace in the air--though these things never last very long,
Hanamichi came up with another one of his stupid ideas.
"How about we get sloshed somewhere, eh? Thereís a place not far from here,"
Hanamichi suggested.
I rolled my eyes. And youíd think theyíd learn from what I could do to them when
theyíre drunk and senseless.
Mitsui looked at me warily. "I donít think so."
Ah, so I had a smart associate here after all.
"Letís go to Beatus and get sloshed there. They serve the BEST wine in the whole
Empire."
I sighed heavily. I had spoken too soon.
I was all ready to refuse, but a sudden image of Kiminobu in my head stopped me.
"Okay." The word was out of my mouth before I even thought of it.
Mitsui and Hanamichi were, needless to say, surprised at my immediate assent for
usually theyíd have to coerce me to agree and, more often than not, I didnít.
But they didnít complain.
As we rode on our horses to Beatus, I kept on asking myself why I couldnít bring
myself to turn my horse around and return home--all right, so maybe not exactly
return home as facing Beatriz in full "bitch mode" was worse than seeing the fat
old resident baker doing a streak around the Town Square, but you get the idea.
I was actually going to Beatus with Mitsui and Hanamichi! It was ludicrous. And
yet I was making no move to turn around. Every time I did attempt it, Kiminobuís
kindly face would appear before my eyes and Iíd find myself abandoning any plans
on leaving altogether. And I realized what it really was that drove me to go to
Beatus.
I wanted to see Kiminobu again.
But Beatus was a huge city and itís "pleasure bars"--to use the term coined by
Mitsui in reference to the local saloons--were numerous.
It was a miracle if I found him again, but luck was on my side. It appeared that
Kiminobuís mother had quite a reputation in the whole of Beatus.
Remembering her from the quick glimpse I had during the feast, I figured I
shouldnít be too surprised. She was sinfully stunning to say the least. And she
was Claudia de Lecter. The most famous and most beautiful courtesan in all of
Beatus. And her territory happened to be the one Hanamichi had dragged us into.
I would have thanked him had I not remembered that I wasnít the type to show my
gratitude.
And so we sat at one corner of the saloon whilst the people around us chatted
amongst themselves, drank wine to their heartís desire and courted the
demimondaines. Hanamichi and Mitsui had already ordered a jug of the finest wine
in the house and I was given another thing to consider.
Mitsui and Hanamichi tended to be rather sweet with each other when they were
under the influence of alcohol--not that they werenít already sweet with each
other when theyíre in their right state of mind, and I wasnít exactly referring
to THAT kind of sweet. I meant . . . erotic sweet.
I didnít want to be anywhere near them when they get to that level and with the
rate that they were gulping down the wine, it wouldnít be too long before they
did.
And there was still Kiminobu. I was certain he was in the saloon. He HAD to be.
So I stood up from my seat and walked around trying to be as inconspicuous as I
could. I didnít want to get involved in the "courting" business. I was there for
one reason and one reason only.
Kiminobu.
And he was there. Just standing by the door and holding a small jug of wine. I
mentally slapped myself for not noticing him before. And it was then when I
froze. Now that Iíve seen him again, what was I to do next? It wasnít as if I
planned anything.
And so I stood there. A pale statue amongst the heavy throng of people that
littered the place. It was stupid of me, of course, for the entire time that I
stood there, I never looked at anything or anyone else.
My eyes were centered on him and him alone. At his fine features. At the slight
roundness of his cheeks. At the fine curve of his nose. At his cupidís bow
mouth. And when he turned as if sensing he was being so unabashedly watched, I
stared at his clear and dark brown eyes.
He blushed.
I never thought Iíd ever seen an even more adorable sight. The pink on his
cheeks made him glow.
And then he looked away, clutching the jug of wine closer to him.
Without thinking, I approached him. He didnít move away, but neither did he look
at me--he was too busy looking at the ground.
"Kiminobu de Lecter," I whispered the name very softly. I never knew I was
capable of speaking so tenderly before.
He bowed his head low immediately. "Captain Kaede le Vider. What may I do to
serve you, my lord?"
He knew me. It was no surprise.
"Look at me," I told him.
He did. But very slowly. And he looked away almost immediately after locking his
eyes with mine.
"Would you like some wine?" he asked, turning even redder.
I shook my head. "No. Iím company to two other men who are drowning in wine as
we speak. Two drunk men travelling on their horses back to the capital is
enough."
"Oh," he said. "Um, then what would you wish to have?"
I looked at him closely. And then I realized something.
He was afraid.
"Weíre not here to punish you if thatís what youíre thinking."
His head immediately snapped up to look at me. "Youíre not?"
"No."
"Then what are you here for?"
What indeed? I didnít know. Actually, I DID know. I came here to see Kiminobu
again. It was as simple as that. Of course, I didnít tell him this. "Is your
mother busy?"
He blinked. "Sheís," he blushed once more, "tending to some guests."
I nodded. "I see. And you?"
"Sir, Iím not a courte--"
"I realize that," I said. "What I meant was if youíre busy."
He frowned and shook his head. "My sole job is to serve wine to our guests.
Everyoneís drinking up their fill now. I am only here to see if anyone would
want some more."
"Then come out with me."
"Excuse me?"
I didnít know why I said it. It was an insane proposal, but I didnít take it
back. Slowly, I pried his fingers from the jug and placed it on a table nearby,
and led him out of the saloon.
It was funny. The sun was high up and it was early in the afternoon. And yet de
Lecterís area was packed.
Taking his hand in mine, I led him to nowhere in particular. I was no denizen of
the city. I didnít know the places. I knew where the Training Hall was and the
Forum too. And the Banqueting Hall. But that was all.
"We could go to the coast," Kiminobuís soft voice suggested.
He bowed his head when I looked at him.
"Thereís a path right ahead that would lead to the seaside. Itís a quiet place.
No oneís usually there at this hour of the day."
And so we went to the seaside, making our way through the untamed path of rock
and leaves and out into a beach of fine white sand.
I was immediately overcome with a sense of tranquility. It was low tide and the
waves crashed softly onto the sandy shore. There was peace there. And it wasnít
the kind of peace youíd find in Saltare. It was the peace that made you feel as
if it would actually last. And standing there, feeling it wrap around me and
holding Kiminobuís hand in my own. I actually felt happy.
"I could stay here forever," I whispered.
Kiminobu looked up to me, a knowing smile on his face. "Then stay, Kaede. Stay
as long as you like."
And then I knew.
I loved him.
~~~ End Chapter 2 ~~~