If there was something Ichiko learned in all those years that she spent in cloister at the Murakumo compound, it was when there was trouble in the horizon.
After all was said and done that fateful Summer she spent in Okunezato, the Murakumo family had complied, and even required, the continuation of her relationship with Yuzuki. By Spring next year, they were married, and never again she stepped foot outside the thick gates of the manor house.
Over the course of their marriage, in spite of much trying, she had never managed to give her husband a child, and so had been decided that her father-in-law’s bastard son back into the family. To the surprise of no-one, that child was Yuki, now an eighteen-year-old, almost the same age as her when she arrived at Okunezato for the first time.
What was indeed surprising is that, upon being introduced to the violacia secret, Yuki preferred the traditional policy of burning down revenants in salt, instead of Yuzuki’s favoured idea of fulfilling the unfinished businesses and let them rest in peace.
Over the months that followed, that dispute only became more and more heated, and by now, the two half-brothers could not look at each other without finding something to argue.
It was taking a toll on all of them. Most of the time Yuzuki was the strong one in their relationship, he was the one with the heavy shoulder to carry on. It had to deal with her own personal problems, as well as his.
Nevertheless, her husband had his stony walls built up so frighteningly high, so much so that even when he was with her, the overt love of his life, he only showed the bare minimum. He ranted and complained with her, but that was it.
He was always either happy or sad with her, as if those were the only two emotions that existed, and she was never upset about it, because she knew very well that that was all he knew. She had experienced it for the last decade.
As he marched over to his wife, who was having her afternoon tea at her private courtyard, however, she knew that it was her turn to be the strong one for once. His skin was sickly pale, and he looked up at you with tears in his eyes, her name leaving chapped lips in the form of a whispered plea.
“I-” He choked on the words.
Ichiko stood up and hugged him tightly, as he could not manage to form coherent speech and so tried to calm himself down with the flowery smell of his wife’s furisode.
“Yuzuki, it is all right.” She brushed one hand through his raven, thick hair soothingly. “You do not have to talk about it, just stop crying, please.”
He cried to you for hours, and not once did he tell her what actually bothered him so greatly. Considering his self-control and stoic personality, the fact that he cried alone was a great concern, and it did not help if the violet-eyed woman had no idea what was actually wrong, and so could be of little help.
Ichiko was so worried about him that she decided to follow her husband around the compound, just so that she could have easy access to him if so happened that he had another breakdown. What she came to realize, however, was how he was suddenly tired and no longer had an appetite.
A few days into silent and resigned creeping, however, in some afternoon, Yuzuki managed to evade her vigilance. He had been missing for hours, and was nowhere to be found. She checked the dining hall, the library, the private courtyard and their bedroom.
The woman was about to call it a day and just go sit worriedly in their room when she heard a big commotion on the training dojo. Despite everything being muffled, she still managed to recognize one of the loud voices as belonging to her husband.
So, she entered the dojo.
It did not take more than a mere minute to understand what was happening as the woman watched Yuki shooting knives at Yuzuki, who was retaliating.
Her attention was glued to her husband. He stood tall, but she could see his hands shaking. His white collared shirt was messily buttoned, and his eyes looked scared. She did not know what prompted this sudden duel between the childhood enemies, but she did not like what you were seeing.
With difficulty, Ichiko tears her eyes away from her husband and towards her brother-in-law, and her breath is caught in her throat. Despite being so new to the business of the Ensepulchers, Yuki was remarkably handy with his weapons, and he seemed to be gaining on her husband.
She panics and runs towards Yuzuki, just as Yuki throws another knife.
The last thought she had before everything went black was that she did not remember when was the last time she ever spoke with anyone else other than her husband.
Yuzuki looked over, connecting that his wife had pushed him out the way and thus gotten hit herself, and raced over to her ailing body.
“No, no, no, no!” He cried as the blood pooled on the tatami floor.
His hands hovered around her body, which was now withering away, as if he was unsure where to touch. He pulled her into him, her blood staining his previously white shirt.
“Not you, Ichiko. Come on, wake up!” He tapped her cold cheek. “Please wake up!”
She was not even breathing, making him let out a sob as he tried uselessly to stop the bleeding. The boy on the end of the room got to see a part of the Yuzuki that no else ever saw as the older man looked up, tears running down his face and voice hoarse from screaming.
“Please…” He begged. “Help her.”
“It had to be done. She was a liability.” He responded, cruelly.
Then, there was silence.