Takasugi was worried about Katsura. Where could he had gone? It has been quite a while since he excused himself. Damn Gintoki. Why could he had not come with them?
He could see one of the younger ones come there. He was bloodied, and Takasugi could see that whoever did it, knew what they were doing. He pointed at the way where they came from. “It was a monster. It just attacked us.”
A couple of people took their run, but Takasugi waived one of the people with the medical knowledge there. Katsura would know how to deal with the wound.
The person quickly came there. He turned to Takasugi: “What happened here?”
“He came from there,” he pointed at the nearby forest. “Said something about a monster.”
“These are sword wounds.” said the person, as he started to work on stopping the bleeding. “What attacked you?”
“I looked like a teenager,… but… it could not be…” he said, his breath started to get labored. “No teenager… is that good with the sword… or that quick… or has white hair.”
“Where are you going?” was all that Takasugi still heard, since he realized that he was already running in the forest. It could not be, right?
He saw the clearing in front of him, and a man had just dropped in front of him, looking scared at something in the middle of the clearing. “Monster.” he whispered.
Takasugi looked there, and what was surprising was not the familiar shape of his former classmate, but the bodies of all the people that were lying there. He was having his sword out, and he was not even looking at them, since he had his back at him, cutting the last person there.
He then turned a little, and the person there would simply run away. Gintoki started to walk toward him.
“Gintoki.” Takasugi said, when he stepped from the tree.
The change was drastic. Gintoki, before all serious, blinked and then relaxed, letting his sword fall on the side. His body would look like he just got a weight on his shoulders. He turned around, and wiped the sword on the jacket of one of the people lying on the ground, before sheathing it.
“Takasugi!” He could hear Katsura’s voice, as it came closer. Why was Katsura having a different jacket than normal? Katsura then turned to Gintoki. “You alright?”
Gintoki just nodded.
Takasugi grabbed his for his arms. For some reason he was uncomfortable standing there. “There is a river close by.” he said, as he started to drag him behind him. He was kind of expecting Katsura to simply follow him.
Gintoki was not complaining at all, so he looked at him, but he noticed Gintoki glaring at him. He also noticed that Katsura did not want to let go of Gintoki’s other hand. He was also quite, which was quite unusual.
They came to the river, and Gintoki sighed, as if he was doing them a favour, before he removed his sword, some of his clothes and went into the river.
Takasugi cleaned the blood from his hands and wiped them in the grass. He wanted not to think about what he just saw. Because them he might want to think about the question why.
He noticed Katsura’s body contracted into a ball. Which was highly unusual for Katsura, as he preferred sitting in a more traditional way. He sat next to him.
“What happened?” Takasugi asked.
Katsura continued to look at Gintoki, and for a moment Takasugi though that Katsura simply did not hear him. But that was not the case.
“I think they were trying to attack me.” Katsura said. “But before they could do much, Gintoki came.”
Takasugi waited a little more, hoping that there is more to that, but it did not seems so. “Then I am glad he did.” It was hard to admit that, but it was the truth.
Gintoki came from the water and he lay down on the grass, his head at their legs. It almost felt like the old times at school. Almost, but for the feeling of betrayal when Gintoki left them three weeks ago. For what they just experienced.
They were like that in silence. But for a change, Gintoki did not say anything. None of them knew how to break that.
Surprisingly it was Katsura that did. “I am sure lucky you were there, Gintoki.”
“Ah.” Gintoki said, not looking at any of them. Which Takasugi found weird. Like it was not luck that brought him there.
“Gintoki.” Takasugi said in a controlled voice. “Have you been following us?”
Gintoki did not answer for a moment, but that was an answer enough for Takasugi. He had been following him.
“Then why not just come with us?” Takasugi asked.
“Because I hoped you two will change your minds.” Gintoki said. “Because I hoped you will realize that it is not a right path.”
“Then why follow us?” Takasugi asked.
Gintoki now turned to the side, so they were unable to see his face. “Because I did not want you two to die.” He paused for a couple of seconds. “Most people die in their first serious battle. I hoped that I could at least mitigate that risk.”
Gintoki then looked up, as if he noticed something Takasugi did not. Gintoki stood up. “Well, see you around.”
He then stopped, looking down. Katsura was grabbing his clothes that he was wearing, and the both looked surprised at the action.
“I mean…” Katsura started, but there was fear in his eyes.
Gintoki keeled in front of him. “Do you want me to stay?”
Katsura nodded. Takasugi was now getting worried. That was way too passive even for Katsura. Where was the usual energy?
“Can I?” Gintoki asked, as he offered his hand. He waited for another nod, before he helped him up. He than turned to Takasugi: “Mind getting my sword?”
Takasugi took the sword, and they slowly started to move. Katsura was constantly next to Gintoki, which was surprising considering that he still wanted to puke every time he remembered it. Gintoki, splattered with blood, standing among the corpses.
Gintoki get them to the nearby village and he managed to secure them a room with some food. Not much, but they had better than he and Katsura had in the last three weeks.
They ate the food, which was plane rice with some fishes, eaten in silence. They are going to need a lot of time to deal with that.