Kaneshiro kept his eye on his older brother as the photographer took picture after picture of the whole wedding party.
Hiroshi, they all know you as Master Shinowa, but you’ll always be Hiroshi to me. Nothing will change that.
Kaneshiro swam from one end of the pool to the other end. His arms rose and fell in a steady pattern.
It felt good to just be in the moment, to not think about anything at all.
He kept going until his muscles felt all tingly and his eyesight became chlorine-blurred. He swam to the steps.
Kaneshiro stopped and looked back at the expanse of pool water. He felt an ache at the memory of Kencha coming out of the water – his long black hair plastered to his skin and that big, friendly grin on his face.
Kencha. How can you be dead? It doesn’t make sense. It can’t be real.
He returned to the water and buried his tears with several more laps.
Master Shinowa made eye contact with him.
Kaneshiro quickly looked away.
I can’t blame him for Kencha’s death. Not anymore. It wasn’t his fault. It never was his fault. If someone must be blamed, it has to be Kencha. He was always too trusting.
He never would have made it as a hunter.
The photographer rushed over to Kaneshiro. “I have a perfect picture planned. Come. Stand right here. Annnd you—” He grabbed Master Shinowa’s arm and pulled him over to his youngest brother’s side. “—-stand right here. Good! Very good!”
Kaneshiro wanted to melt into a puddle and seep away to points unknown. He uneasily shifted his position.
“All right. You—” He pointed at Master Shinowa. “—put your hand on his shoulder. No. Not like that. Not so far down. There! Right there! Good!”
It’s been such a long time since we’ve been this close to each other.
“Now, I want you both to look at each other and smile. Not a lovey-dovey smile. Just smile.”
The two brothers looked at each other and something shifted in the air between them.
“First to pin wins?” Kaneshiro asked.
Hiroshi nodded. “First pin wins.”
Kaneshiro grinned. “Then, prepare to lose.”
Hiroshi waved his finger in disapproval. “Too many confidence lead to fall down.”
“We’ll see about that.”
Kaneshiro smiled without any strain or effort. It came easily. It felt natural and right. Hiroshi returned the smile and all felt right in the world.
The photographer took at least 2,000 pictures of that one smile before turning his attention back to the bride and groom.
“Hiroshi.” He bowed. “I mean, Master Shinowa. May I come with you to the reception?”
“You wish to come in mine car?”
“Yes. Yes, Master. Unless…unless you don’t want me to?”
Master Shinowa spread his hand on his younger brother’s head. “This I want, Shiro. I want much of it.”
Kaneshiro stood up straight. “Then, I will come with you.”