Six months later, the Shinsengumi forcibly relocated to the Nishi Hongwanji Temple, which had been cooperative with the Choshu clan.
"Ah, it's such a beautiful day," Sumiko said, smiling, as she paused her sweeping to stretch in the spring sunshine. The cherry blossoms were already in full bloom. When the wind blew, it sent a light spray of pink petals fluttering on the breeze.
"Yes," Chizuru agreed, smiling cheerfully, as she swept the walkway.
"And I can't believe how huge this place is," Sumiko added, glancing around at the vast, open expanse of a courtyard they were in. "I feel like if I shout there'll be an echo..."
"Sometimes, I think you like being scolded by Hijikata-san," Saito stated calmly from behind, getting their attention.
"Ah, Saito-san. Is it time to eat?" Sumiko asked.
"Yes. Itou-san and most of his men have left already," he replied. His group had decided to eat out to celebrate the acquisition of their new headquarters.
"Okay, I'll go get San'nan-san!" Chizuru said brightly. It had been a while since they were all able to eat together.
"All right," Sumiko said, taking her broom so she could put it away with hers. She smiled as she watched Chizuru run off before following Saito inside.
"San'nan-san! The food is ready!" Chizuru announced cheerfully when she found him sitting in the shade of one of the buildings away from the main living quarters.
"Ah. It's you, eh? Thank you," he said, standing up. As he stepped down to join her, Chizuru could have sworn his hair had turned white for a moment. "Is something the matter?" he asked calmly.
"Uh, no. Nothing at all," Chizuru said quickly.
"Well, then," San'nan said, walking ahead.
July 3, 1865
Shortly after the headquarters moved, Heisuke finally returned from Edo. As a result, Chizuru went on patrol with his group, so they could catch up, while Sumiko went with Okita.
"Any luck, Aniki?" one of the men in Okita's division asked when Sumiko returned from asking questions about Koudou-san.
"No," Sumiko replied, sighing. She blinked. "Oi, Okita, why is even your group calling me that now?"
"Hm? Oh. I ordered them to," Okita replied.
"Can I ask why?" she asked, furrowing her brow slightly.
"Because it annoys you," he replied with smirk.
"Ah. I see. I should have known..." she said, sweat-dropping."I bet you're just upset 'cause you got stuck with me instead of Chizuru."
"I bet you were dropped on the head as a child," he said.
"I bet you were dropped on the head and bounced out the window," she retorted.
"They get alone well, don't they?" another man in the back whispered to a friend as they watched their friendly exchange of banter.
"At least I landed in a puddle of awesome," Okita said, smirking, as a familiar voice called out to them.
They glanced over to see Heisuke waving at them. Chizuru smiled and bowed in greeting. They were already back at the meeting place.
"How're things for you?" Heisuke asked Okita while the two groups walked together.
"Well, same as always," Okita replied. "But I think things will get busy when the Shogun comes to visit."
YOU ARE READING
Destiny. Fate. Sumiko never really believed in any of it until she met that man. Out of place and out of time, all Sumiko wanted to do was protect her friend Chizuru and help her find her missing father. But now things have gotten complicated...