Chapter 6 [TFHB]

Chapter 06: Ablaze

Tsurumaru handed Mikazuki a wooden practice sword and he took his place opposite Kokaji in the middle of the dojo. They were not to actually harm each other in the duel and the winner would be decided when he demonstrated a killing blow or performed a move that would permanently take out his opponent. Even though wooden practice swords were used, it could still severely wound a person and cause broken ribs or arms. Tsurumaru would be presiding over the battle and serve as the judge. Both he and Yasusada moved off to the side to watch them and give them space for their upcoming bout.

Mikazuki took a few moments before their duel commenced to study Kokaji. He had a beautiful form. His hands grasped the sword’s hilt firmly and his muscles were loose and relaxed, settling into a natural stance. Those eyes were trained intently on him as well, looking for any openings Mikazuki might have, any part that was left unguarded, exposed, vulnerable.

He was a true swordsman. A dangerous opponent.


He took a breath of air to calm his mind and cut off any unnecessary thoughts and renewed his hold on his sword. His instructor at the castle had often told him to keep the mind cool and the heart warm when he was young. It had been drilled into him over and over again and he chanted it even in sleep. Now he drew strength from those words even as Tsurumaru gave the signal to begin.




Their wooden swords clashed fiercely in the middle, a loud thwack resounding through the dojo upon the impact. Their bodies had easily crossed the distance separating them in a flash when the battle had begun, like it was a yard instead of ten. Kokaji was surprisingly swift and agile for someone his height. He moved with a fluid grace, exuding confidence with every step.

They sprang apart and circled each other, testing their opponent with a series of feints and thrusts, all the while seeking and waiting for an opening to come by.

Mikazuki aimed a well-placed blow at Kokaji’s head which he easily avoided. That left his front exposed and the captain responded with a strike of his own. But Mikazuki was too quick and he skipped back hurriedly, the tip of the practice blade passing through air, leaving him unharmed.

Their swords clashed again. Once, twice, thrice, the force of the motion sending them past each other.

Kokaji smiled as he passed him. A genuine one, eyes alight with the thrill of battle. Something in him responded to the sight of the captain and he felt an answering smile tugging at his lips. He was even more determined now to win this duel.

And so as his smile slowly faded away to be replaced with an unwavering concentration, Mikazuki swung his arm outward in an extended motion even before he began to turn back toward Kokaji. The wooden sword made a wide arc and cut through the air with alacrity, swiftly closing in to where Kokaji stood. A grin made its way to the fore, one full of pride and satisfaction.

After that last exchange, they had their backs to each other, unprotected. It was the chance he had been waiting for. Mikazuki quickly regained his footing and proceeded to strike at Kokaji before he could react. The man had recovered his footing barely a second slower than Mikazuki did, but it did not matter. A second was all he needed. Kokaji’s back was now exposed to him. And his sword.

He had already mentally calculated the angle and judged the distance between them. If his sword had been steel instead of wood, it would have sliced his opponent into halves. A killing blow. And therefore, by the rules of the duel, he should win this match.

Victory was his. Mikazuki could almost feel it in the air.

Or it should be.

Until the captain did what he did.

He had his head tilted slightly, sideways, to the ground. The long, flowing strands of white hair hid most of his face but for the furry ears peeking out at the top of his head and the devilish little smirk playing at the corner of his lips. It was arrogance, mischief and sexiness all rolled into one. And it made his heart race. A hint of doubt surfaced, his earlier confidence slowly draining away. And then his eyes widened.

Kokaji had leapt into the air.

There had been no warning. It was so sudden that it caught Mikazuki off guard. One moment his feet were firmly planted to the ground before he bent his knees – the action so fluid that Mikazuki had failed to notice it – and then he was airborne. He hung suspended in the air for a long moment, almost as if he was flying. Mikazuki gazed at him from where he stood below still stunned and watched as he performed a flip in mid-air.

The wooden sword that Mikazuki had swung at Kokaji passed harmlessly through the empty space, grazing only the barest tips of his hair.

His body curved gracefully as he sailed through the air, toes pointing downwards, to the floor. Kokaji made a final twist so that he was facing Mikazuki once more. Then one leg extended outward and he swung it with great momentum, the force of it knocking the wooden sword from Mikazuki’s hand. It clattered to floor a few feet away from where Mikazuki stood.

He had no time to grab it for the captain had already landed. Kokaji took a quick step toward him before thrusting his sword in a quick, savage move that left Mikazuki breathless as he jerked to the side to avoid it. He could feel the wind from the sword on the left side of his face, indicating just how close it had come. He stumbled backward, just managing to hook one foot below his fallen sword and lift it into the air. One hand reached out to catch the sword easily and Mikazuki raised it just in time to parry the second blow aimed at him.

He regained his balance and they continued their fight anew. Mikazuki shot him a challenging look and put in more effort into their match, pushing himself to the limits. But the harder he tried, the harder Kokaji fought until Mikazuki was doing his best just to keep up with him. He was beginning to understand Tsurumaru’s respect for the captain and the little bit of hero-worship that he had. Not that Mikazuki would do anything like swoon over him, but he too was now slightly in awe of Kokaji.

But only just a little.

Sometime during their fight, others had streamed in through the open doors of the dojo to watch them and now there had to be a dozen or so of them observing their fight with great interest in their eyes. They had all slipped in one by one before proceeding to the side quietly and leaning their backs against the walls. They all had the strong, lean and toned bodies that could have only belonged to warriors. Mikazuki could already guess who they were – members of the Touken Danshi.

The strong urge to prove himself to these extraordinary warriors strengthened and he threw the last vestiges of his strength into the fight, wanting to finally bring it to a conclusion.

Kokaji seemed to also sense his intentions to end the fight quickly, for he fought back with greater strength and urgency. They watched each other closely, much like predators circling their prey, waiting for the other to slip up and make a mistake. Mikazuki had lost count of the number of times they had thrust and parried each other’s swords. They continued that way for a long time, seemingly inexhaustible, until Mikazuki finally found the opening he was waiting for.

It happened after one of their exchanges. Kokaji pulled back too quickly to avoid one of his blows and had left one side open. Mikazuki quickly aimed a blow in his direction, resolving to put an end to their match. Then he lifted his head and their gaze met for a moment. There was amusement and mischief sparkling in Kokaji’s eyes.

Oh no.

He had been fooled.

Kokaji had deliberately left his side open, waiting for Mikazuki to fall for it. He had waited until it was too late for Mikazuki to retreat before he made his move.

Had he just been toying with me all along?

Kokaji made a swift, twirling motion with his hand and his sword snaked around Mikazuki’s own. With a flick of his wrist, Mikazuki’s sword was yanked out of his hand for the second time that day. Then, quick as lightning, he stepped forward, clearly intending to finish their match.

Mikazuki gazed up at the infuriating, gorgeous man. That boyish little grin which absolutely did not tug at Mikazuki’s heartstrings was fixed on his face, obviously unrepentant of his actions. Well, two can play that game.

And so even as Kokaji leaned forward to demonstrate the finishing move with his sword, Mikazuki let his thick, dark lashes flutter shut, before peering up at him shyly through a sultry, half-lidded gaze. He gave a small pout and deliberately stuck his tongue out to lick tentatively at his full bottom lip in a slow, sensuous caress.

The captain’s eyes widened, obviously surprised by this sudden, bold move. Then his instincts kicked in and Mikazuki watched with triumph as Kokaji’s eyes darkened with lust and want.

But it only lasted for a moment.

For as the captain leaned forward further to taste those lush, tempting lips, he lost his balance slightly and the tip of the wooden sword caught Mikazuki in the rib, knocking the breath out of him and causing him to fall toward the ground. Where he would be on his ass in front of an audience and utterly humiliated. Which absolutely would not do.

If he had to suffer this disgrace and embarrassment, then he was not going to be the only one going down.

Kokaji that bastard, seemed to have already recovered from Mikazuki’s clumsy attempt at seduction and had managed to collect himself. But that maddening smile was present once more and it seemed only to mock him further.

Now thoroughly incensed, Mikazuki threw caution to the wind. He would wipe that smirk off, if it was the last thing he did. And he was not above using dirty tricks to accomplish it.

Mikazuki made no attempt to stop his fall. He simply let himself go, smiling at Kokaji with the sweetest smile that he could muster. Then, as the captain was still distracted, he slipped his foot behind one of his legs and put all his strength into it. With a vicious jerk, the captain was sent tumbling to the ground after him, face toward the floor. And toward Mikazuki.

He had a moment to relish the look of utter astonishment on Kokaji’s face, childish delight brimming inside him. Then a more pressing matter occurred to him and his expression of glee faded to be replaced with something akin to horror. Kokaji was about to fall on top of him, thereby crushing him with his weight and that bloody wooden practice sword. God, he was going to get a multitude of bruises after this. He grimaced a little just thinking about the battered state his body would be in.

This was going to hurt.

As he was about to resign himself to his fate as well as a whole lot of pain in the near future, Kokaji surprised him again.

One hand slipped behind Mikazuki’s head to cushion it, while the other reached out to stop his own fall, bracing himself on his palm. Mikazuki winced a little in sympathy as small tremors made its way up Kokaji’s arm from the bone-jarring impact with the floor.

He definitely did not have to do something like that for Mikazuki.

It was very kind and chivalrous of him and had almost been sweet. He had not thought that Kokaji would have had it in him to do such a thing, to protect him when it had been his fault that they had ended up in that situation in the first place.

Mikazuki tilted his head back slightly to look at Kokaji who was still hovering over him. The hand his head was resting on was warm and comforting and Kokaji’s gaze was gentle as he looked down at Mikazuki, concern and something softer hiding in those expressive amber eyes. Their faces were inches apart, so close that Mikazuki could count his lashes and feel his breath brushing his cheeks.

He felt his heart fluttering anew as he continued to gaze deeply into those eyes. Eyes that had captured and drawn him in from the first time he had seen him. Eyes that were now staring at him with passion and want.

He did not know how long they remained that way, Kokaji on top of him, with only a thin gap between their bodies. His luscious white mane had slipped over his shoulders and was now covering both their faces like a curtain, giving them a semblance of privacy. Kokaji gave him one last long, lingering look, as if etching that moment deeply into his mind before leaning forward slowly and bringing his lips closer.

There was the barest hint of a touch on Mikazuki’s lips, like the brush of a feather, and then it was gone.

Almost as if it had never happened.


Author’s Note:
I hope you enjoyed reading this scene! This was actually the scene that I envisioned when I first toyed with the idea of attempting a fanfic. It was inspired by a lovely piece of fanart that I had come across.

*Disclaimer: This fanart does not belong to me. All credit goes to the artist.

So this is the end of the chapters that I wrote four years ago! A fan and fellow AO3 writer was inspired by my fanfic and wrote a one-shot featuring Kokaji. It’s a wonderful work titled Midnight Blue which takes place in the same setting as this story, only it depicts events told from Kokaji’s perspective. Do note that it may contain spoilers and not all story elements are completely accurate (certain minor parts are not in sync with the plot I have in mind), but I would still highly recommend that you read it.

I’m planning to write more cute/sweet/fluffy/flirty scenes for the upcoming chapters to develop their relationship before the serious stuff kicks in and so I would like to ask for writing prompts! If there is a specific scene/event that you have in mind for our main leads, do let me know in the comments below or you can also fill up the contact me form. However, do keep in mind that this story is based in an East Asian setting (I’m mixing Japanese and Chinese elements) because whether I can fulfil your request or not would depend on how well it could mesh with the established setting.


Chapter 5Chapter 7


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