Clandestine Meetings

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"Thank you," Chizuru said as she poured Heisuke some sake. "You're here because you're worried about me, right?" Heisuke nervously gulped back his cup of sake, blushing heavily to be alone with her while she looked so beautiful. She moved to pour him some more sake but paused when she noticed how he was staring at her.

"Heisuke-kun. Is something wrong?" she asked.

"N-Not really..." he mumbled, looking away, as he tried not to blush any more than he already was.

"Why are you looking away?" she asked.

"Well, because..." he cautiously glanced back at her and soon found himself in danger of being mesmerized by her doll-like appearance again. "It's 'cause you're dressed like that. You're so pretty, and yet you're serving other men... Aaah! I can't accept this!" he shouted abruptly, jumping to his feet. "That's why, I was against it from the start!"

"Eh?" Chizuru said, blinking in confusion as he headed for the door.

"I'll talk to Kondo-san and Hijikata-san now! Don't leave this room, Chizuru!" he told her as he dashed off with a determined roar, leaving her all alone.

"Heisuke-kun?" Chizuru called after him as she carefully gathered up the folds of her extravagant kimono and crossed the room to look out the open doorway. Heisuke had departed with such speed, that he had already disappeared well beyond her sight and reach. 'Heisuke-kun...' she thought, staring down the empty walkway as she wondered whether or not he would be all right. He had been acting so strangely... "!" Chizuru gasped, turning, when she felt the presence of someone behind her. It was that oni, Kazama.

"Hnh," he said, smirking slightly as he looked down at her with a trace of amusement dancing in his crimson eyes.

"Ah, um..." Chizuru said nervously, caught between asking him what he was doing there and preparing to run.

"Hurry up and prepare some sake," he told her calmly.

"Huh?" Chizuru said, surprised. Did he not recognize her? He tilted his head slightly in the direction of the sound of a bunch of rowdy men laughing in a room across the courtyard.

"I got tired of that stupid ruckus, so I left," Kazama said, glancing back at her. "Drinking sake with those rotten men would be blasphemy to the sake."

Chizuru's eyes widened slightly. He really didn't seem to recognize her at all. She should probably consider herself lucky, but...

"Move it. You're a geiko here, aren't you?" he said.

"Ah, yes!" Chizuru said nervously, quickly going back inside the room to do as he asked. It was more important than ever now that she didn't blow her cover...!

After she ordered the sake, the two of them sat in silence for a moment or two. She was starting to wish she and Sumiko hadn't split up. Sumiko would know what to do if she were there... Well, for now, she had to do her best to keep up her act as a geiko.

"The sake will be ready soon," Chizuru said, bowing her head slightly out of politeness. "Please wait a moment..."

"Although you're a geiko, you speak in a common tone," Kazama remarked. "Strange. Is this your first time?"

"M-My deepest apologies," Chizuru said nervously, immediately changing her tone to sound more like a professional geiko. "I—Ah, no. My humble self  just started here, and hasn't become used to this yet." Kazama simply continued to stare stoically at her.

"If you were a geiko of Shimabara, then you'd have been raised here," he told her.

"Huh!?" Chizuru gasped, flinching in shock, when she realized the severity of the mistake she had just made. "Um... That's right! Forgive me, I must have remembered wrongly," she said quickly.

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