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« BtF - Part VIII

Before the Fire
Written by: FedeTkd
Published:
Part IX: Day of Reckoning

BtF - Part X »



Nikaho, Akita Prefecture, February 15th, 2022

Sakura gets out of her bathtub and, after draining herself. She covers with a robe and gets out of the bath. She turns left, but jumps back after she sees the Blue Ronin just standing there, staring at her leading on a wall.

“How did you get this far from the entrance?”

He smiles.

“I'm smart. And teachers...they're weak against me and my will.”

“You're risking discovery…”

“No one saw me coming. I'm sure. Besides, I'd risk anything, for you.”

“...We can't do this…” She says, shaking her head.

“No.” He approaches while keeping his blue eyes on hers and places his hand on her cheek, still wet by the water. “We can't…”

He got near, both of them close their eyes and begin a passionate kiss and remain like that for a long time. He grabs her back and slightly pushes her against the walls he took out his jacket and begins to kiss her neck. They move for a second time towards the bed and continue kissing, and as they fall she was against the bed and he was on top of her. They continue kissing each other as he then removes his shirt. They continue loving each other when he suddenly stops. She opens her eyes as he notices him begging stabbed in the neck as lots of blood came out of the wound. He could n't breathe and just shake his body, looking to his wieldy opened eyes towards Sakura. She looks at his back, noticing Shun, staring at them with anger and hate on his face holding a katana with silver blade, which had pierced thought his best friend’s neck. He removes it, as he the almost lifeless body falls out of the bed.

Sakura looks at him with absolute fear.

“You fucking whore!”

He raises the blade, and she begins to scream out loud, he lowers the blade…

---

Nikaho, Akita Prefecture, February 15th, 2022

Sakura gets up in an instant, with her heart beating as fast as ever.

Someone knocked the door.

“Sakura0re you alright? You were screaming.”

“Yes, thank you Otome. It was a…bad dream.”

“What was it?”

“...I'll tell you later. I have to get to the Dojo early today.”

“Alright...”

She places her had on her chest, as its rate slowly got slower.

---

Kirei students form up on the Dojo. Shun, Tai and Izumi among them, getting ready for today, as it'd be a hard and to be endured day.

The only out of this was the current champion of the Dojo, standing outside of the Dojo looking towards the garden and the Sakura blooms floating in the sky, and his thought lost in a sea of confusion. His thinking is interrupting when Kirei steps into the Dojo, as the students formed, and he was foreced to get up and form up.

The sensei started speaking.

“Today's the day that many of you have been longing for. Today we start with the competition, which shall decide who truly stands champion of this class. It will end in tomorrow, with the final fight. We'll see who is worthy of the title of champion of this Dojo. We'll see the skills and potential of each one of you. But only one, the best of the best, shall rise as the new champion and gain right to face my best student Yamato Ovan in proper contest. Form in battle position!”

He looks to all his students, they form up on a square formation.

Three lines of several players. One of them, in front of Kirei. The other two perpendicularly placed at the two extremes of the central line. They were going to use the space in the middle for the fight, leaving the opened side for Kirei to see the battles.

“I wish good luck to all of you. May the best fighter win. Start!”

---

“Keisuke! Shun! Take position!”

Both of them briefly look at each other, as they both entered the center of the student square, and got ready, looking at each other with swords drawn.


They face each other, and after both of them show signs of wanting to star, trying to fool the opponent. Finally Shun attacks, but his opponent parries the blade. He makes a second attack, but his rival fall back and then advances, trying to make Shun go down by moving himself to the right and making his sword hit him in the face, but the he bends his legs, as the blade passed inches from his head. He counters by moving his body 180º and trying to slash Keisuke, but he lowers his body and rolls on the ground and gets up. Shun just jumps making a powerful downwards slash, and then for second time both of them were nearly parried by Keisuke, but at last he kicked him to the ground, near the edge, as the students get him up by force, to continue fighting.

Sakura walks of her part of the dojo, and looks to her boyfriend fighting. But he then looks at her, as they briefly stare. She quickly parts and leaves. He turns his sight to the battle, while he is still confused. Keisuke attacks, Shun parries placing the blade vertically in front of him and the makes a high attack, with Keisuke evades by lowering both of his knees, but Shun approaches him while he was about to make an attack and makes a Kenjustsu grabbing technique, throwing him to the ground. He places the tip of the blade to his neck.

“I concede!” Keisuke says

---

The Blue Ronin eludes a powerful thrust directly to his face, and then another more as this one just passed in front of his eyes and then he parried. Tai attacks him once more, but he manages to parry and then fight back. Naoto and Sakura appeared on the Dojo, giving to Kirei an herbal tea. Yamato Ovan, also steps into the dojo, looking to the current battle. Sakura briefly looks to the fight.

The Blue Ronin manages to push Tai back, pushing him with his shoulder and sending him directly to the ground. He then looks towards Kirei for a second, but his sight was distracted as he saw Sakura, looking at him.

Distraction.

Bad mistake.

Tai gets up and makes powerful thrust with his sword, which he could nearly parry. Tai swings the swords upwards, making him bleed in the mouth, and the red liquid falls to his hakama.

Sakura, looked to other place after sighing this.

Still, he didn't fall back. He soon counters the strikes Tai makes with more of his own, forcing him to fall back. They briefly look to one another, as his normal and calmed sight turned to one raged and ready to strike his friend. Tai finally attacks, with a heavy horizontal hit, but he rolls in the ground making the attack pass above of him until he was close to his back. Tai tried to turn 180º, but he predicted this. The Blue Ronin catches the hand of his friend with his left hand, and then with his other arm makes its spin around his friends. He spins 360º, making the sword slip from his fingers. Tai tries to punch him, but he eludes his body once again and pushes him to the ground. He continues his assault while Tai is still on the ground, attacking with several powerful downwards slashes, while Tai covered himself with his forearms.

“ENOUGH!!!”

He stops and looks towards Kirei.

“You're the victor.” Kirei says.

He places his wooden blade on his armpit, and helps his friend up. Miya spits blood form his mouth.

“I almost had you…” Tai says with a smile.

“Yeah...Almost…” he responds sarcastically.

Kirei: “Taichi, go to form up with the rest.”

Taichi nods his head and follows command.

“Shun step forward.”

Shun walks next to his best friend.

“Both of you have won five battles. As result, you're to face each other tomorrow, to see which one of you shall face Yamato. Former champion versus current champion, and may the best man win.”

He looks impressed towards Shun, as he does the same. Sakura noticing this looks down and places her hand clenched to her chest.

“Today's calss is over. You can go.”

All of the students started going to grab their things and change up, but Kirei stopped his current champion.

“Tomorrow arrive earlier than the rest. We need to talk…”

He nods his head.

---

Sakura waits for Shun. But before him the Blue Ronin appears, and places her head on the glass-made door.

“I've felt your eyes lingering.” He walks and gets in front of her, looking his eyes at her. "But they quickly stop looking at me when I met them.”

“You'd do the same...”

“Then I have to tear them out, if they have to do that.”

“You MUST stop this.”

“You really think I haven't tried?! I've promised that to myself a thousand times each day! To return to drink sake. To go to other girls. To do whatever it takes to force you out of my head. But then I'd just look to you for the briefest...”

He places his right hand on the glass wall the same as her. They would be touching each other if it weren't for the half-inch glass.

“...to see my world ending...”

“I've never felt a greater love...than the one I have when I hold Shun in my arms…”

He hears someone coming as she did as well, they briefly look at each other before parting their hands.

She runs back up as he looks back and is surprised to hear a voice calling for his name.

He turns back to see Shun right there.

“What happened to you? You distracted for a moment, giving Taichi an oppening.”

“I was distracted for a moment....remember by a dream…”

“They you have to wake up. Go and sleep. Tomorrow's our battle. I've waited a long time for this.”

"Yeah...So have I..." He just nods at Shun, not even looking to his eye and goes up to his room.

Sakura waits still for Shun.

“And did you break up with him?” Miya says appearing out of nowhere.

“That's not your concern.” She responds

“Right…It should be yours…” he forces her against the wall and strongly and violently grabs her right breast. "…or I may finish what Shinji started?"

He approaches to steal a kiss from her. Just before they touch lips, Sakura slaps him on the left cheek with all her strength, making him to release her. She crosses her hands on her chest. He places for a moment his hand on his cheek, but brings himself up quickly.

“Good hit…for a girl. You have until tomorrow, unless you want Shun to find out. Or maybe...something even worse.”

---

Nikaho, Akita Prefecture, February 16th, 2022

Shun, Miya, Taichi, Daisuke, Yamato, Ikuto, Takeru and Izumi appear on the Dojo. All of them just to see the last battle.

The current champion taking a drink from a jar of water, looking towards them, but he lost on his thoughts.

Kirei appears rapidly just in time, as the rest of the students formed up. Yamato Ovan and Sakura Naoto following him.

“Let's begin! And decide who is the true champion of this Class.”

Both of them step forward into the square. Shun walks next to his best friend and talks to him.

“Good luck brother. But I'll give my best.”

He nods back.

They walk a meter far from each other and get ready on battle position.

“Begin!”

Absolute silence on the dojo, as even the beatings of everybody’s hearts could be heard. It began.

Shun rushes to his friend as he starts his onslaught, but he parries the first blade and then circles around his friend and answers Shun's assault with one of his own, trying to speed up as fast as he could. Shun then starts doing the same. Both of them qucikly exchange attacks and defenses one after the other. They match each other easily and give everything they got on that battle.

---

Hour before…

Kirei sits in front of his champion.

“You may be asking yourself why I summoned you before the rest...” The old master asks.

“Actually, no. The the Arena.”

“Yes. I'll ask this once and just once: Were you a Gladiator?”

Tired of lying, not only to everyone, but also himself, he confesses.

“I was.”

“You finally admit it. Why? Why you stepped into the sands, to assume that mantle?”

“It's difficult to understand if you don't live it. But there's one thing I was once sure about: there is not greater thing, than standing victorious in the arena.”

“What...you thought?”

“I changed my mind about that.”

“But this isn't the only thing I found about you. My fiend Shiba told me that you incapacitated Shinji Katou.”

“Shinji told him and Shiba told you, right?”

“Yes. Still, incapacitating is a nice way of putting it. Not only he but also other five of his friends were beaten up.”

“They got what they deserved! Hasn't Shiba told you what they did?! They sprained Shun’s ankle they tried to rape Sakura?!?!”

“So you did this for vengeance.”

“I did what was just.”

“Revenge. That's why.” He got up and walked across the small dojo where they were having conversation. “Revenge is a dangerous path. One can lose the way when you travel on a dark path…”

“Then so be it.”

---

He keeps on turning trying to find one of Shun’s weak points. They clash swords several times, changing each time who attacked and who blocked the blow. After ten strikes from both of them, he misses a blow leaving a big opening and Shun manages to slip under the sword.

He then tries to make the same move to the opposite side, but Shun quickly parries the blade, spins and hits his opponent directly on the left side of forehead. The attack makes him step back for a second.

He starts to bleed.

Nevertheless, a now wounded and also angry Blue Ronin restarts his assault. He attacks directly with a diagonal slash, as Shun parried and then countered thrusting the sword to his head to hit the wound for a second time. However, his opponent manages to elude the move bending his legs and then hits Shun's his right leg making him kneel by the strike. Afterwards, he slashes Shun on the face, making him spit blood. Afterwards, the Green Ronin rolls backwards on the ground and gets up facing him again.

---

“Why you sought no justice?!”

“Because there's no justice. Not in this world.”

“Not for you. But for me, there is. You can't remain unpunished by the things you have done. I can't approve you after this. You can't go back to Tokyo.”

He nods his head.

“But...since you've done this to protect your friends, I'll give you a chance. You have but one way of releasing yourself. You must defeat Shun today and Yamato later. That way, and just that way, I won't punish you.”

He nods his head.

He gets up and walks towards the outside, but Kirei speaks to him before getting out.

“You have no regrets? For this?” Kyosho asks.

“None.” He says looking back. “I get what I deserved.”

He steps outside and sees Ovan training with a real katana. He rapidly turns to his left and realizes Sakura was few meters from him, placing her hand on her chest, without saying a word. They briefly looked at each other, but she again left.

“She heard the conversation.” he thought.

---

Kirei speaks to Yamato as he keeps on watching the fight.

“Match for the ages.”

Yamato just looks at him and doesn't speak a word.

Kirei begins to cough.

“My tea!”

Sakura rapidly appears, and serves him some herbal tea, as she watches the fight in the meantime, directly to him.

He hits Shun strongly, making him fall to the ground.

But when Shun does this, he notices Sakura right there, looking at him.Once again, she moves her sight from him. He remains still for moment thinking about that night, the festival the first kiss.

Shun gets up, and realizing his opponent was distracted, he sized his opportunity.

He rushes at him and hits him while sliding on the wood. He falls to the floor. The former champion quickly tries to defeat the current one on the ground. However, he eludes the first moves by rolling his body and then parry the blade and kick his friend back. He gets up, while kicking his adversary with both feet at the same time.

But he once again gets distracted with Sakura.

Shun rushes towards him and they clash wooden swords. The current champion parries and then counters, trying to attack Shun's back. Shun also turns around as quickly as him. The champion re-starts the assault, forcing Shun to back off for a moment. After the Blue Ronin thrusts his sword, Shun spins parrying the blade and hits his opponent's back. Shun looks for a moment to Sakura, Naoto, Kirei and Ovan.

The Blue Ronin turns around to face Shun. In that moment he crosses sights another time with Sakura. He remains still on his place, with placing his sword in front of him and leaving him vulnerable to any frontal attacks.

He thinks when they separated after their first kiss.

When they hands parted the day before this battle.

He looks down, and in that moment, he realized what he had to do.

He doesn't bring the blade up.

Shun advances as fast as he can towards him. He just remains looking at her with his arms lowered, as she did the same, surprised for what he was doing.

Shun with the full momentum of his rush, hits his friend right on the chin. The strenght of the attack makes him "fly" for a short while and his blade slips from his grasp. He falls with his full weight to the ground, with his arms opened, looking up, tired and upset. Shun walks in front of him and places the end of his Shinai in front of his neck. Unable to fight back, he briefly looks towards Sakura and then he speaks.

“I concede...”

The crowd applauded for the new champion, as Yamato closed both of his eyes and gets up leaving the place. Kirei smiles.

Shun smiles in happiness for a while, but then helps his friend to get up.

“Why did you drop your guard?” He asks.

“You're the new champion now. That's all that matters...”

After nodding his head his to his friends, he walks out, as Shun and the rest remains on the Dojo.

Miya follows him.

“You're alright?”

“I will be. I need to be alone...”

Miya reluctantly nods his head, as he left walking towards the schools dormitories.

---

The former champion was sat down on his bed with his back against the wall. He was with his legs bent and both of his arms placed on his bent knees. His wounds were now better and were justa simple cut. He'd remained looking towards the wall of his room for the last hour, as it was already night.

He was thinking about the last weeks.

One thing was sure for him. He deserved what happened to him.

Knock at the door.

“Come in!” He says unwillingly.

Sakura enters the room, much for his surprise.

"Hi..." She said.

Sakura sits on the chair in front of him. She unties the tight purple ribbon on her t-shit’s neck, letting her breath better.

“You didn't confused rooms, did you?”

“No. I came to drink, with an old friend.”

“Is that all I am? Friend?”

She remains silent looking to him, as she served some sake in a glass she carried, and offered it to him, but he quickly refused.

“I don't want to drink anything. It'd make me forget what I've done.”

“Sometimes that's better.” She takes a drink from the glass, and breathes deeply before speaking. “You aren't coming back with us…”

He nods his head.

“I knew you herd that conversation. That'd happen if I lost the match to Shun.”

“You let him win! Why you did this?”

“Because I can't stay near my friends, Shun and especially you. I've never refused a challenge, neither have I ever surrender. But now I realize, I was without strength to face this fight.”

He looks at him with teary eye.

“Then it's for the best…”

He nods his head looking down.

She gets closer him, sitting on the bed in front of him and then bending her body towards him.

“Because despite what I said…”She places her head above his arms “…I'm as weak as you.”

He grabs her face they begin a passionate and loving kissing for a third time.

The door opens seconds later.

A wooden sword falls to the ground and rebounds several times.

Both of them separate and look towards the door.

It was Shun...

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