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16 You Are Civilians Now

Mei remained in Kou's arms, keeping her shock and thoughts to herself. She didn't want to add more worries into his mind. The fact that her brother lost part of a leg and Kou lost his sight made her heart curse the war bitterly. What meaning was all this fighting when people were forced to eat meagre rations and men were returning home with parts of their bodies beyond repair. Those who were blessed to return.

She snuggled further into Kou's embrace, flicking aside her bitter feelings and thoughts. One thing she had learned from Hinata's example was to not keep ill impressions in one's head. To survive meant to look forward to a better future and see bad moments of the present as stumbling blocks to overcome, grow stronger and be wiser. She was truly grateful and ecstatic to have her love in her arms with reciprocated feelings. Okamisama had blessed them with a chance for a future.

"You're happy now," Kou whispered into her small ears.

"Silly. Of course, I am." She nuzzled his neck, relishing his salty musk.

Their moment was interrupted with a polite knock on the door. Mei reluctantly pulled out of Kou's hold, redressed to a presentable image and slid back the shoji door to allow Aiyama-san inside.

"Sorry to intrude, but your brother is here to pick you both up." Aiyama-san informed them.

She left the lover's view as soon as possible to allow them a few more moments together. It was a pointless effort as Yuri soon found his way to them. He was cranky as hell.

Rain began to beat down on the cottage again, making Yuri's cursing a lot louder.

"You fool! I had my Old Lady and your Old Lady blasting my goddamn ears off to find you! Tell me why a cripple should drive out in the rain to look for a blind git!" Yuri spat out.

Kou heaved a weary sigh, his head feeling heavy and throbbing with an ache all of a sudden.

Hinata entered the scene to calm Yuri down when he had caught sight of Kou's semi-naked body and Mei's slightly dishevelled obi and hair.

"You bastard!" Yuri hauled Kou to his feet, ready to slug him.

He was kicked backwards, releasing Kou in the process. His face was slapped and body slammed to the ground by brute force. A strong foot on his chest kept him rooted to the floor.

"YOU DARE CAUSE A RUCKUS IN MY HOUSE!" Hinata shouted down on Yuri.

Yuri was unable to hide his shock at Hinata's livid expression and firm manliness. It clicked as to why he was able to survive on his own without Eiji for so long. He was seeing Hinata as a man for the first time.

Hinata dropped his anger and hold over Yuri when he saw that he had calmed down.

"Kou-san and Mei-san are engaged. Why would you be angry about seeing them together?" Hinata calmly asked Yuri.

"Because not once did he think of Mei when he had his fun on tour." Yuri hissed out a taste of Kou's dirty dark secret whilst they had been on tour together.

Kou blushed, his heart pounded nervously causing heat to his cheeks and an ache to his temples.

Hinata sighed and turned to Kou. "You love Mei-san right?"

"All my heart. At war, you miss the one you love..." Kou began to explain further, but felt Hinata's gesture to stop.

"That's all there is to it. Mei-san what do you think? Are you willing to give him a chance?" Hinata gently placed the ultimatum to Mei.

Mei felt hurt and disappointed at Kou for being weak during war, but she also realized he would've been doing something before he felt he was going to die. Another mindset she had realized from Hinata and words she had learned from her brother.

"War brings out the worst and most shameful in people." Mei sighed.

She faced Kou with a smile and kissed his cheek with reassurance.

Tears slipped from Kou's eyes.

"If alive, do not suffer the disgrace of becoming a prisoner. In death, do not leave behind a name soiled by misdeeds." Yuri's voice quivered as he recited a passage from the Senjinkun honour code.

"We made a promise to our country to be worthy, honourable soldiers." His voice trembled.

Hinata gave Aiyama-san a reassuring look that he had it all sorted. She made sure the kids were doing something else when he closed the door to tend to the three adults in his room.

Mei and Hinata found themselves between two men who were struggling to hold back their tears as they cried out their pent-up anguish to the floor. They sat in between, their bodies like beacons of hope and reassurance to the men who were still fighting a war in their heads. Their duty to country was dismissed with a stain on their views of life.

Hinata's heart beat for Eiji, thinking back to those times he had reassured his lover of his humanity. Eiji had been like these men, near crumbling and on the verge of loosing themselves to their inner demons.

"You did what your country had asked of you and returned with approval. There is no shame, dishonour or relevance to war on the life you have now. What happened at war, remains at war." Hinata soberly advised the men. "You're civilians now. Take back the honour the country borrowed from you and reclaim it for yourselves. You owe it to your families and friends whom you have returned to."

"I'm very glad you didn't fight the war." Kou smiled.
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He was able to recompose himself along with Yuri.

Hinata understood the meaning behind his words.

"Eiji-san kept telling me that his strength to fight was due to his Hina-chan. Now, I see what he meant." Kou explained further. His voice became gentler with remorse. "I'm sorry about your loss. He was a good man."

It took every bit of Hinata's inner strength to hold it together and not let out his bereavement at hearing Kou's condolences.

A moment of silence lingered amongst the adults, providing a soothing atmosphere to the earlier feelings.

Yuri stumbled to his feet with Mei's assistance. He was wearing a temporary peg attachment whilst Hinata was working on his prosthetic. The peg attachment allowed him to hop around places and drive, but wasn't going to do him wonders in the long run. He suspected he'd bust a hip from slipping on some steps or a wet floor before too long.

"I'll help you up." Hinata offered to Kou when he placed his hand on the man's shoulder.

"Thank you." Kou accepted his hand with gratitude.

The three of them bowed their sincere thanks when they left the cottage.

Both Hinatas sighed with relief as they debriefed over tea in the main room a short while later.

The remainder of the night flew by. Earlier torrential rainfall had eased into light showers.