Seeds of Discord

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In fact, it wasn't 'everyone' eating together, as Heisuke had said... Although Sumiko had indeed done the best she could to treat his injured arm, San'nan-san began to talk very little. During the day he was quiet and withdrawn, but at night Sumiko and Chizuru could see him practicing trying to swing his sword with his one good hand, despite Sumiko's advice to take it easy and rest. The look on his face while he practiced... It was as if he was frustrated... irritated with himself. Sumiko understood why. She could tell there would probably be some lasting nerve damage due to the placement of the wound. She had tired to reassure him that even if there was, it would be very minor, and she hadn't been sugar-coating it either. But if he kept this up, it would only get worse. She really wanted to tell him off, but the last time she had tried scolding him for not taking better care of himself, he had essentially kicked her out and become even more stubborn about his situation. Sumiko furrowed her brow and frowned. It was frustrating.


"Good morning," Chizuru greeted Okita and Saito when she found them working in the kitchen.

" 'Morning, Chizuru-chan," Okita returned her greeting while Saito tested the taste of the dish he was making. "Oh? It's unusual to see you without Sumiko-san around."

"She said she wanted to check on Takeda-san's progress. Okita-san, you and Saito-san prepare the meals?" she asked, surprised.

"It's not as if it's just us," Saito said. "Everyone takes turns making meals."

"San'nan-san said he'll eat in his room again," Heisuke announced as he joined them.

" 'Eat'? his chopsticks barely touch the food," Okita said, frowning.

"Is that so?" Chizuru asked, concerned.

"If he don't eat his food, he won't get better, huh?" Heisuke said, sighing. "And Sumiko-san said he won't let her examine his arm either..."

"Um—" Chizuru began.

"I've allowed you to eat in the hall," Hijikata said from behind, pausing as he passed when he heard her voice, "but I don't recall letting you wander around at will."

"Oh! Good morning," Chizuru said, bowing quickly. "I thought maybe I could help with something."

"Don't concern yourself where it's not needed," Hijikata replied coolly as he turned to walk away.

"Um! Would you mind letting me take care of San'nan-san's food?" she called out after him. Hijikata stopped and glanced back at her.

"Let you?" he asked.

"Yes. At my father's side, I also cared for injured patients..." Chizuru said quietly.

"Don't bother," Hijikata said. "If you're not careful around him, you'll make him more obstinate."

"Why not let her?" Sumiko said as she walked up.

"Not you, too..." he said, frowning.

"What? I had to check on my patient. It would be irresponsible of me to just  ignore him," she said reasonably. "Anyway, I think it would be good to have Chizuru try to take care of San'nan-san. He won't listen to any of us, and her bedside manner is much better than mine. My people skills aren't exactly the best. Part of the reason why I specialize in animals is because my first instinct upon seeing an animal is to walk up and say hello, whereas my first instinct upon seeing a person is to avoid eye contact and hope they go away."

"Haha! I can see that happening," Okita laughed, smirking, as she shot him a disgruntled look. "But she's right," he said more seriously. "He's barely eating, no matter who brings it to him. We should let Chizuru give it a try."

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