The beating of the drums awoke Megumi from his slumber. He yawned as he got up from his bed. He looked at the others and noticed them getting up, except for Reiji, who just hugged his pillow closer to his chest. Megumi sighed knowing what was coming next for poor Reiji. Boshi grabbed a pan filled with water from his bed side and dumped it on Reiji. Reiji snapped awake coughing out the cold water. Boshi laughed at Reiji’s drenched form. Reiji scolded Boshi, but Boshi just continued to laugh.
Megumi had been in the palace for two weeks since the announced ranks. He had learned the top twenty’s names and had gotten used to his roommates’ antics. He knew that Boshi would drench anyone who overslept by a mere second, the victim mostly being Reiji. He also knew that Sora was the one always scolding the two to stop with the pranks and was eager to get the chores done.
Megumi changed his clothes quickly that it made his roommates wonder if he did a magic trick because they never saw any trace of Megumi’s naked flesh. Megumi then walked out of the room telling the other three to get dressed.
Megumi leaned against the railing in front of the walkway before his room with a sigh.
“I see you are awake, Megumi.”
Megumi looked at Shiro who had just walked out of his room. Megumi smirked.
“Well I need to wake up on time or Boshi will dump water on me. You’re lucky to have a room all to yourself,” stated Megumi knowing that Shiro was the only one to pass between his roommates, so he had the room all to himself.
“Well I share my room with little Chestnut,” stated Shiro as Chestnut landed on his shoulder. Megumi smiled at Chestnut. Chestnut, seeing Megumi, flew from Shiro’s shoulder and landed on Megumi’s. Chestnut cuddled Megumi’s cheek making him chuckle. Megumi scratched under Chestnut’s chin.
“As always, Little Chestnut loves to be with you,” said Shiro with a smile.
Boshi stepped out of the room and gasped when he saw Chestnut upon Megumi’s shoulder. He glared daggers at the falcon. Chestnut glared at Boshi too, while flapping his wings in a menacing way. Ever since Chestnut bit Boshi’s hand, Boshi and Chestnut became sworn enemies. Reiji and Sora also stepped out of the room, but flinched when they saw the glaring match between Boshi and Chestnut.
“Why is it always like this?”
“It feels like we are always in a battlefield.”
Megumi noticed the atmosphere between Boshi and Chestnut and decided to urge Chestnut to return to Shiro. Chestnut did return to Shiro, but not before cawing at Boshi making Boshi jump back.
“We should report to Suha now to get our assignments for today,” reminded Megumi. They all nodded and followed Megumi.
When inside the palace, they saw the other top twenty awaiting orders from Suha, who was already in the room with a parchment that had their chores written on it. Suha was merciless when he assigned the assignments. Most of the assignments were organizing old documents or cleaning up rooms that have gathered years of dust. Each of them left one by one to their assigned chore. When he finally came to Megumi, he ordered Megumi to clean the horse stables and then the library. Megumi nodded. Megumi didn’t have a problem with cleaning and he was a fast worker, so Suha made sure to give him chores that would at least last him half the day.
Before Megumi could leave, Suha ordered him to stop in his tracks. Suha then handed Megumi a stack of rolled up parchments and a few flat letters.
“These are for you,” stated Suha, pointing at the stack in Megumi’s hands. Megumi frowned as he looked down at the stack. It was no mystery to Megumi about the contents of the delivered letters and scrolls. They were proposals from countless officials asking Megumi to marry into their family. One of them was obviously from the Goh family back in Go Province still asking Megumi to marry Yumi Goh. Megumi handed the entire stack back to Suha.
“I don’t need them,” stated Megumi in an annoyed tone for he had no interest of marrying any woman. Megumi suddenly spotted one letter with the seal from the Red Lotus and yanked it from the stack making Suha confused. He opened the letter and read its contents to himself.
I have heard that you have attained the rank of Diyuan. I am proud of you and I believe that Mikan, Satoshi, and your mother would have been proud too if they ever heard the news. I hope you complete your training in order to become a great official and attain everything in your goal to rescue Satoshi and avenge Mikan and your mother. I also hope that you will write to me. I am always thinking of you to the point of wanting to go to the palace myself. Please write back and accept my undying love for you someday.
Your forever soul mate,
Megumi smiled muttering that Hime was such a silly girl. Megumi stuffed the letter in his pocket and thanked Suha for the delivery. Megumi then ran off to do his chores.
When Megumi was gone, Suha sighed while placing the rejected letters on an empty table. Yuki, who was hiding behind a curtain, peeked out with a frown on his face.
“What are those letters, Master Suha?” asked Yuki with narrowed eyes.
“Proposals most likely,” stated Suha, knowing full well that Yuki was hiding in the room.
“He rejected them right?”
“I think so; he did say he didn’t need them.”
“Then why did he pocket one of them? Does he have a girl he admires?”
“I wouldn’t be surprised,” stated Suha with a smirk. Yuki turned pale and imagined Megumi with a faceless girl and leaning in to kiss her. Yuki held his head screaming that it couldn’t be true and that Megumi was already his. Suha sighed at Yuki’s outburst.
“Are you really serious about that boy?”
Yuki nodded and added, “Megumi is the only one for me.” Suha frowned.
“I’m starting to wonder why I sent my daughter here to be your concubine, when you even refuse to touch her.”
Yuki crossed his arms with a pout and stated, “Well I barely see her anyway.” Suha sighed and began to wonder why his daughter always wandered around the palace since arriving.
Megumi tidied up the stables of the horses as the horses nudged his shoulder. Megumi chuckled as he pushed the horses away by their snout. The stables were foul smelling from the manure, but it reminded him of his home with his family. A single tear managed to slip out, but he immediately wiped it away so not even the horses would be able to see.
Megumi flinched at the sound of his title and looked toward the stable door where Riku was standing with crossed arms.
“What do you want?” asked Megumi. Riku walked in and asked, “So whose proposal did you accept?”
“I accidentally saw you pocket a letter before I left the room, so who is the lucky girl?”
Megumi chuckled as he pulled the letter from his pocket. He showed it to Riku and explained that the letter wasn’t a proposal, but a letter from a friend back in Go province. Megumi smiled at the letter and added, “She’s a very special friend to me.”
Riku frowned remembering that Garnet hadn’t responded to his letters since he sent them out after the exam results. He turned away from Megumi and said, “You’re lucky to have such a faithful friend.” Riku walked off feeling a heavy weight in his heart. Megumi sighed and continued his work, not realizing that there was someone else watching him work from a crack in the stables.
Haji Diah, a fifteen-year-old girl with long black hair in a ponytail wearing a purple iris kimono, watched Megumi through the crack with a blush against her cheek. She watched Megumi’s movements that seemed to be filled with grace as he worked. Haji sighed filled with total bliss.
“Megumi is so handsome.”
Haji had fallen in love with Megumi the minute she laid eyes on him when he was cleaning a dusty room. Haji was already the concubine of Yuki, so she just watched Megumi secretly during his time doing chores. She wished in her heart for Megumi to notice her and claim her as his own. Just the very thought made her blush furiously and her nose to bleed. She wiped the blood on her sleeve.
Koku, who was in charge of watching Haji, found her near the stables and ran to her calling out her name. Haji flinched and immediately covered Koku’s mouth muffling his voice.
“Don’t be so loud or he will see us,” scolded Haji. Koku blinked in confusion. He glanced at the crack in the stable and saw Megumi near the horses and brushing them.
Koku shoved Haji’s hand away and asked why she was spying on Megumi. Haji responded with a blush. Koku knew immediately and asked, “Is he that attractive?” Haji nodded and said, “Of course! Those rosy lips; those beautiful foreign like eyes; silk hair that I have to touch; and skin so smooth and scar less: he’s just so perfect.”
Koku glanced at Megumi through the crack and caught a glimpse of Megumi’s aquamarine eyes. Koku blushed and pulled away. He patted his chest to stop the rapid speed of his beating heart.
“He really is handsome,” said Koku panting. Haji nodded in agreement and stated how she wished that she could marry Megumi instead of being a concubine. Koku broke her flight of fantasy when he added, “He’s like a girl.” Haji smacked Koku calling him an idiot and that it was impossible for Megumi to be a girl.
Megumi left the stable, while Haji was scolding Koku about his opinion about Megumi’s appearance.
Megumi headed to the library for the next step of his assignment. On the way, he saw Youko and Bakura sweeping the hall. Megumi greeted them with a smile. Bakura greeted Megumi properly, while Youko looked away. Megumi didn’t know why, but Youko had been avoiding him, but he decided not to pay it any mind unless it was necessary.
As Megumi walked off, Bakura looked at his longtime friend with a smirk and said, “So when do you plan to speak with your little angel?” Youko muttered Bakura to be quiet with a blush against his cheek. Youko did want to speak with Megumi normally and get to know him, but every time he tried he would freeze up at the sight of Megumi’s face. Youko found it hard to believe that Megumi was truly a man.
Megumi was ready to enter the library, but paused when he saw that Reiji was inside studying. Reiji was only assigned to organize some documents related to the finances and despite his rank he was fast at organizing, so now he was free to study. Megumi watched Reiji’s expression as he studied and smiled.
“Reiji’s a hard worker.”
“But he only got rank twenty.”
Megumi flinched when he realized that it was the twins Boshi and Lee looking at him from behind. Megumi glanced back at them and asked, “Shouldn’t you guys be cleaning an official’s room?”
“Finished!” they declared in unison. Lee placed his hand on Megumi’s right shoulder and asked, “So how about going to the lake to play?”
“I still need to clean the library.”
“Then how about after?” asked Boshi as he paced his hand on Megumi’s other shoulder. Megumi declined the offer again. Boshi and Lee whined like babies.
“You’re so boring!”
“All you do is work and study. Try to lighten up!”
Megumi glared at them that sent chills down their backs.
“You two are too carefree, now, please study like you’re supposed to do,” scolded Megumi. Megumi turned away from them and entered the library. Boshi and Lee pouted at their failure to coax Megumi into a fun activity.
Megumi walked pass Reiji making him jump slightly in his seat. Reiji looked at Megumi and asked if he needed to move out of the way. Megumi shook his head and told Reiji to continue what he was doing. Reiji nodded and sank his head into his studies. Megumi dusted off the shelves with a rag and then began to dust the books individually. Reiji watched Megumi clean, taking note that Megumi’s movements were always filled with grace. Reiji placed his book down and looked at Megumi.
“I’ve been meaning to ask, but are you shy to show your body?”
Megumi stopped what he was doing as he looked back at Reiji.
“Why do you ask?”
Reiji blushed slightly as he tried to get out his words.
“Well you are always in a hurry to change your clothes and then when it is time to bathe, you disappear somewhere to take your bath alone, so I thought you didn’t want anyone to see your body.”
Megumi chuckled at Reiji’s flustered face.
“You sure keep track, Reiji.”
Reiji turned redder out of embarrassment. Megumi wiped a textbook as he spoke to Reiji.
“I don’t show my body not because of embarrassment, but because I feel you guys will feel intimidated.”
Megumi nodded. Megumi smirked at Reiji and asked, “If you are feeling brave enough, do you want to bathe together?” Reiji’s face heated up at those words.
“Well you are concerned about me being so secretive about my body, so let’s bathe together, so we have nothing to be so secretive about, well concerning our bodies at least.”
Reiji’s blush slowly vanished as a smiled formed on his lips and nodded. Reiji felt that maybe Megumi was opening up to him more.
“Can we come?”
Megumi and Reiji flinched at the voices of Lee and Boshi. Megumi groaned as he looked at the troublesome twins.
“No you may not come,” stated Megumi, knowing full well that they were eavesdropping. Lee slithered to Megumi’s side with a smirk.
“You already refused to play with us at the lake, so make up for it by taking a bath with us.”
Boshi placed a hand on Reiji’s free shoulder and added, “You can’t favor Reiji, you know.” Megumi sighed in defeat knowing that they wouldn’t leave him alone until he agreed.
“Fine, but don’t tell anyone else.”
Megumi turned away from them telling them to meet him at the bath house at night. Megumi got so absorbed in his cleaning of the library that he didn’t notice Boshi and Lee whispering to each other with mischievous grins upon their faces and Reiji trying to hear what they were saying.
That night, Megumi headed to the bath house with a towel and bucket in his hands. He reached the door and sighed. He slid it open and turned pale. The objects in his hands dropped as he stared at the whole top twenty waiting patiently inside. Megumi clenched his forehead as he bent down to pick up the fallen objects.
“You told them?”
Boshi and Lee smirked and said, in unison, “We didn’t tell, but many different papers delivered did.” Megumi was trembling in anger. Reiji tried to calm down Megumi’s rising anger by waving his hands in front of him.
“We should bathe together,” Boshi and Lee announced with a chuckle. Megumi groaned walking past all of them. Megumi glared back at them saying, “I’m going to undress.” Megumi slammed the door of the stall behind him refusing to let anyone see him.
Youko sighed and asked if it was necessary to bathe with Megumi. Bakura patted Youko’s shoulder and said, “I know you want to see if Megumi’s body is truly male.” Youko blushed deeply.
“I want to see too.”
“He does look feminine.”
“We also never get to see his body because he dresses too fast.”
“It would be sad if he really is a girl.”
The others were filled with the questions of whether Megumi was male or female because of his piercing beauty.
Ryouga broke their thoughts, when he tossed off his clothes revealing his muscular body for all to see.
“Well I’m going in now,” announced Ryouga and ran into a bathing area reserved for them. The others followed after, dumping their clothes in separate baskets. Reiji looked at Lee and Boshi as he stepped into a pool filled with warm water and asked, “You didn’t tell the emperor about this bath gathering, right?”
“Of course not!”
“Inviting the emperor to a room full of naked men is suicide.”
Boshi and Lee suddenly went into a deep thought and added, “But he would have only sexually harassed Megumi.” Boshi and Lee burst out laughing. Reiji had a crooked smile upon his face as he looked at them.
Reiji suddenly thought of Megumi and looked at Nakago, who he knew was from Go Province.
“Have you known Megumi long in Go Province?”
Nakago shook his head and stated, “I only first met him on the day of the Qualification exam. He’s a pretty strong fighter for a little guy.” Nakago smiled at the memory. Nakago pointed toward Toshio and added, “He might have known Megumi a little longer than me.”
Reiji walked to Toshio, who was pouring water on his naked form and asked, “Did you know Megumi before the qualification exam was given?”
“I wouldn’t say I knew him before that. I just met him at his stand that he ran before. He sold me a kimono that I gave my mother.”
“I remember he mentioned that he ran a stand, but he didn’t tell me much.”
“Well his stand was pretty famous in Go Province.”
Seto sat with them and added, “Too bad I never got to visit it.”
“So you met him at the Qualification exam too?” asked Reiji. Seto nodded and added, “I wanted to be his friend when I heard he made wonderful goods for his stand.”
“So did you guys ever think he may be a girl?” asked Reiji with a light blush against his cheek. Seto and Toshio blushed and admitted that the thought of Megumi being a girl came to mind.
“But girls aren’t allowed to be officials or soldiers!” exclaimed Sasuke, overhearing their conversation. Keisuke, who was next to Sasuke, nodded in agreement.
“It would be unforgivable for a girl to be an official or soldier.”
“Megumi’s a boy.”
They looked at the source of the voice. It was Ichigo rubbing soap onto his arm. Ichigo looked at them and stated, “I’ve seen him many times when he was just four. It was before he ran his stand. His mother and father always called him a boy and even his sister and brother called him brother.”
“So he does have a family?” asked Sasuke in disgust. Ichigo nodded and added, “I don’t think Megumi’s family would call him a boy unless he really was one.”
Reiji remembered Megumi’s saddened expression when he asked about his mother.
“What happened to Megumi’s family?”
Ichigo paused in his actions and said, “You should ask Megumi, I have no right to say it.” All of them were confused by Ichigo’s words.
The door to the bath suddenly opened making them look toward the door. Before the opened door stood Megumi, not naked, but wearing a loose shirt and loose shorts, both of them pure black and his hair let loose down his back. All of them were silent as they stared at Megumi.
Sora snapped out of his shock and shot up from the pool to his feet revealing his dangling manhood.
“Why in the world are you wearing clothes?” screamed Sora. Megumi held the helm of his shirt.
“These clothes were made especially for being in water, so why shouldn’t I wear them.”
Sora clenched his forehead and stated, “Baths are meant for you to clean your body, so you have to be naked.” Megumi smirked.
“Well I always wear these clothes for baths whether I am alone or with someone. Did you want to see my naked body that badly, Sora?” teased Megumi. Sora blushed as he sank back into the pool.
Boshi and Lee pouted.
“You really are no fun,” they complained in unison.
Megumi stepped into the pool and began to rub the soap onto his body. He also scrubbed the soap into his hair allowing it to shine against the water. His perfect skin seemed to shine with the ripples of the water. Just like the way he worked, his movements were as gracefully as the blowing of a gentle breeze. The top twenty blushed at the sight.
Youko stared at Megumi more intently than the others. He envisioned angelic wings against Megumi’s back that sent heat to his cheeks. Youko couldn’t stand it anymore, so he stood up making the others look at him.
“I need to know,” Youko muttered repeatedly under his breath. Youko grabbed Megumi by the shoulders forcing Megumi to look at him.
“Please take off your shirt! I need to see your chest!” screamed Youko out of desperation. Megumi growled and punched him in the face, sending him flying into the water. The splash from his fall covered the others in warm water making them sputter.
“You’re just like Yuki!” yelled Megumi in anger. Megumi readjusted his shirt glaring at Youko and warning him never to touch him again. Youko was speechless as Bakura helped him out of the water.
Megumi rinsed off the rest of the soap out of his hair and body and then climbed out of the pool. Megumi draped the towel around his shoulder and said, “I prefer to bathe alone.” Megumi walked away from the pool, but Bakura grabbed him from behind making Megumi gasp.
“We only gathered here because we really want to see how your body looks without any clothes, so how about you at least remove your pants before leaving.”
Bakura grabbed the front of Megumi’s shorts around the crotch area with the intention to yank it off, but paused in his actions. His hand remained in place as his face became crimson red. Megumi shook in anger as he clenched his fist. Megumi grabbed Bakura’s arm and tossed him into the pool with the others creating another great splash. Megumi ran out of the area filled with utter disgust.
Riku helped the soaked Bakura out of the pool and asked, “Why did you fall still?” Bakura looked at his soaked hand as water dripped from his long hair.
“He looks like a girl, so how is it that it’s so big?” exclaimed Bakura as he placed his hand against his reddened face. The others’ eyes widen when they realized what Bakura was talking about.
“So he really is a boy?” asked Youko in disbelief.
“No girl can be that big!” wailed Bakura. None of them could stop the heat in their cheeks at the realization that Megumi was indeed more a man than any of them put together.
Megumi marched down the road still feeling infuriated about what happened at the bath house. He was so angered that he didn’t notice a small boy running toward him from behind. The boy brushed beside Megumi nearly knocking him over and rushed ahead.
“Watch where you’re going kid!” exclaimed Megumi. Megumi paused and felt the pocket of his pants. His face turned pale when he realized that the purple iris hair pin and letter from Hime was gone. Megumi glared in the direction the boy ran and took off after him leaving a dust trail behind him.
“You little thief!” screamed Megumi.
The boy was named Kujou, age eight. He had no last name for he was an orphan since birth. He was raised by hoodlums and when they were caught by the authorities he was forced to fend for himself by stealing from others. What he didn’t realize was that he stole from the wrong person. Not too long after stealing an expensive looking hair pin and a letter written on high class paper, he heard the rush of running feet. He looked back and gasped when he saw Megumi chasing after him with angered eyes. Kujou picked up his pace to outrun the angered Megumi, but Megumi reached him in no time and tackled him to the ground. Megumi and Kujou rolled on the ground as they struggled against each other.
“Give them back,” yelled Megumi as he tried to grab the stolen objects from Kujou’s grasp. Kujou shook his head as he tried to extend his hand away. Kujou heard more approaching footsteps and saw Hatori upon his horse approaching them. Kujou immediately recognized him as the soldier he just recently robbed. Kujou tried to run, but Megumi held him down still trying to retrieve his stolen goods.
Hatori halted in front of them making Megumi and Kujou look up at Hatori. Hatori stepped down from his horse with crossed arms.
“I see that we meet again, Megumi,” stated Hatori. Megumi nodded as he stood up still holding Kujou by the back of his shirt. Hatori looked at Kujou and added, “I also see that you caught the little thief.” Hatori drew his blade making Kujou cringe.
“Hold out his hand so I can punish him for stealing my money.”
Kujou shut his eyes shaking. Megumi noticed this and sighed. Megumi placed his hand on top of Kujou’s head making him confused.
“He’s no thief. He’s just a ratty little brother.”
“Is that so?” asked Hatori. Megumi nodded as Kujou looked at Megumi filled with confusion. Megumi looked at Kujou and mouthed for him to play along. Kujou stared blankly at Megumi. Hatori looked at Kujou and stated, “He doesn’t look like you.” Megumi chuckled putting Kujou in a choke hold.
“That’s because he’s my adopted brother according to me. We met back in Go Province and I decided to adopt him into my family. He was supposed to stay in Go Province, but he somehow followed me.”
Megumi dug his knuckle into the top of Kujou’s head making him cringe in pain.
“I guess he couldn’t stand being apart from me, but he will return to Go Province tomorrow,” stated Megumi. Hatori looked down at Kujou and sighed.
“Well I am still grateful to you for saving Princess Ayame’s life, so I will leave him be, but make sure you punish him for stealing and return my money.”
Megumi nodded yanking a coin pouch that was hanging from Kujou’s waist. He tossed it to Hatori to Kujou’s displeasure. Hatori nodded and wished Megumi farewell as he boarded his horse and rode off.
Kujou managed to slip from Megumi’s grasp and screamed, “Who the hell do you think you are to just give away my goods and who are you calling brother?” Megumi smacked the top of Kujou’s head making him gasp in pain.
“A boy your age shouldn’t curse and you should be thanking me for saving your hand,” scolded Megumi. Kujou groaned as he rubbed his pain pulsing head. Kujou looked away from Megumi and muttered a thank you.
“You’re welcome now return the pin and the letter,” ordered Megumi.
“Why should I?”
“I can always call back that soldier to cut that hand of yours.”
Kujou flinched. Kujou groaned as he threw the pin and letter at Megumi.
“It’s just junk anyway,” stated Kujou. Megumi looked at the pin and letter and said, “They may be junk to you, but they are reminders of people I care about.” Kujou crossed his arms muttering that he didn’t understand.
Megumi chuckled and ruffled the top of Kujou’s head.
“You’ll understand eventually, little guy,” said Megumi and then began to walk off. Kujou looked at Megumi’s back and said, “Don’t call me little guy.” Megumi looked back at Kujou and asked, “What do you prefer?”
Megumi smirked and said, “Well then, if we meet again, call me Megumi Yoh.” Megumi ran off with the full intention to wash off any remaining dirt from his body. Kujou watched Megumi’s retreating back and smiled.
“His name is nice.”
Megumi entered the palace grounds and was about to head to the private baths until he heard the clashing of swords. He peeked from behind a building in the palace and saw a young soldier that he had never seen before. His youthful look made him look around his twenties. Megumi watched the nameless soldier swing his sword in smooth movements. The soldier clashed his sword through an old log and then through another log. Megumi liked his form and remembered his master when he taught him swordsmanship.
“Who goes there?” demanded the soldier when he finally took notice of Megumi’s presence. Megumi emerged from behind the building and bowed to the soldier.
“Sorry if I interrupted your sword training, but your form was so beautiful that I couldn’t help but watch.”
The soldier sighed at Megumi and said, “You can watch if you want as long as you don’t disturb me.” Megumi nodded as he leaned against the wall of the building watching the soldier. The soldier swung his sword and then looked at Megumi.
“What’s your name?”
“Megumi Yoh, an official in training.”
“Is that so? Do you know how to sword fight?”
Megumi nodded and asked, “Why do you ask?” The soldier grabbed a spare sword and tossed it to Megumi’s feet.
“I need to practice with someone to improve my sword play. Will you do the honors?” asked the soldier. Megumi nodded as he picked up the fallen sword. Megumi held the sword in a way that the soldier had never seen before. The soldier decided not to question Megumi’s way of holding the sword and immediately went into the offensive. Megumi blocked his sword with the flat of his sword and began to clash swords with the soldier. The soldier clashed with Megumi with a smile upon his lips.
“So you’re trying to become an official?”
“Why not become a soldier? You seem more suited as a soldier.”
Megumi shook his head and said, “I have to be an official to achieve my goal.” Megumi slammed his sword against the soldier’s sending the soldier’s blade flying out of his hand. Megumi placed the flat of the sword against the soldier’s cheek with a smirk.
“I win,” stated Megumi. Megumi dropped the sword and then began to walk off. The soldier picked up the sword and stated, “You fight well. Are you willing to sword fight again in the coming future Megumi?” Megumi looked back at the soldier.
“If you tell me your name.”
The soldier smirked and held a hand to his chest.
“My name is Mori Suoh, captain of the guards.”
Megumi nodded at him and then ran off.
Megumi ran to the private baths and gave out a sigh. He looked at his dirt covered form and began to fill the bath. He removed his clothes and began to slip on the loose shirt and shorts. He wasn’t lying when he said that he always wore the black clothing for bathing. Wearing these clothes, no one would see his true body. Megumi suddenly cringed as he stepped into the filled tub. He placed a hand to his chest with narrowed eyes.
The very next day, Megumi awoke from his slumber and gave out a long yawn. To his surprise, Sora and Boshi patted his head as they exited the room. Megumi watched their retreating backs filled with confusion. Megumi looked toward Reiji, who was putting on some dry clothes after being soaked by Boshi again, and asked, “Is something wrong with Boshi and Sora today?” Reiji flinched and looked at Megumi with a blush. Reiji immediately exited the room making Megumi even more confused.
Megumi changed his clothes and went to the throne room. Suha gave out the chores one by one with no complaints from anyone. Suha was beginning to wonder what had happened to them when he noticed that most of them were looking away from Megumi blushing. When the rest of the top twenty were gone, Suha gave Megumi his assignment to clean the soldiers’ quarters and to organize the files concerning the past budget of Yulan. Megumi nodded and was about to walk out, but Suha stopped him again and handed him a pile of letters.
“These are for you,” stated Suha. Megumi frowned and handed the letters back when he noticed that none were from Hime.
“I don’t need them,” stated Megumi and then walked off. Suha looked down at the letters with a sigh. Suha also noticed that Yuki was behind a pillar cheering that Megumi had rejected the proposals again.
Megumi grabbed a mop, bucket, and rag from a corner and headed to the soldiers’ quarters. On the way, he saw Bakura about to step into a room. Megumi remembered the incident last night and sighed, thinking that he might have been too hard on Bakura. Megumi approached Bakura with the intention to apologize.
Bakura flinched when he saw Megumi approaching him. He remembered how Megumi felt under his hold at the bathhouse and blushed. Bakura rushed into the room shutting the door behind him. Megumi blinked in confusion and tried to open the door, but it didn’t budge. Megumi knocked on the door and said, “Bakura, come on. Open up.”
Bakura on the other side of the door was holding onto the knob as if a monster was trying to get in. Megumi gave out a sigh and said, “I guess I really did hurt your feelings with that punch. Well, I’m sorry and tell Youko that I apologize to him too, even though he deserved it.” Megumi walked away from the door.
As Megumi walked away, Youko peeked through the opening of the door thinking that maybe Megumi was a good kid to apologize. He remembered Megumi’s last statement about Youko and chuckled.
“I better leave that part out when I deliver his apology.”
Megumi entered the soldiers’ quarters and jumped in surprise when he saw that Hatori was in the quarters in loose clothing. Hatori saw Megumi and asked, “Why are you here?” Megumi held up the mop regaining his composure and stated, “I was assigned to clean this room.” Hatori chuckled.
“Your training as an official?”
Megumi nodded. Hatori chuckled and stood up. He ruffled the top of Megumi’s head and said, “Well clean this place nicely, mister official.” Before Hatori left, he added, “In my opinion, you are more suited as a soldier.” Before Megumi could retaliate, Hatori was gone. Megumi sighed as he began to mop the floor of the soldiers’ quarters.
Megumi suddenly heard a crash near the door and flung it open. Haji and Koku fell before the floor at Megumi’s feet. Megumi stared down at them filled with confusion. Megumi recognized Koku, but didn’t recognize Haji. Megumi crouched down in front of them and asked, “What are you two doing?” Haji sat up quickly with a blush against her cheek.
“We were just walking around,” stated Haji trying to make up any excuse to cover up her spying on Megumi.
“Around the soldiers’ quarters?” asked Megumi suspiciously. Haji nodded and added, “It seemed so interesting.” Megumi examined Haji closely making her heart rate increase.
“Are you a concubine of Yuki?” asked Megumi. Haji nodded as she began to frown. Megumi noticed the frown and chuckled.
“Is Yuki unbearable to you too?”
Haji nodded and stated, “He won’t touch any woman in the harem and even if he did, I wouldn’t let him touch me.” Megumi burst out laughing making Haji confused.
“Yuki doesn’t seem to be the type to visit the harem, but it is funny that one of his concubines doesn’t even want his touch.”
Megumi’s laugh made Haji fall deeper in love with him. Haji was leaning in to kiss Megumi out of impulse, but Koku got up between them making Haji kiss his cheek. Koku jumped away from Haji covering his kissed cheek blushing. Megumi chuckled and placed a hand on Koku’s shoulder.
“I’m guessing that you are her retainer, right, Koku?”
Koku nodded wiping his kissed cheek.
“I am the one in charge of protecting Princess Haji Diah,” stated Koku proudly. Megumi smiled and said, “Haji, that’s a nice name.” Haji felt like she was on cloud nine at that small remark of Megumi’s. Megumi patted Koku’s head and told him to take Haji away so he could finish his work. Koku nodded and began to drag Haji out of the room, even though Haji was yelling out complaints.
Megumi shut the door behind them and sighed. Megumi grabbed the mop and began to mop the floor. He heard a knock on the door and sighed thinking that it might be Haji and Koku again. He opened the door and was surprised that he was looking face to face with Ayame with Hotoru, who had an arm-sling, behind her. Ayame and Megumi stared at each other with wide eyes.
They looked away from each other feeling awkward. Hotoru saw Megumi and smiled.
“This is a surprise. I was wondering when we would meet again. So you passed the test?” asked Hotoru. Megumi nodded looking at Hotoru. Megumi noticed Hotoru’s wounded arm and asked, “Is your arm OK?” Hotoru nodded and added, “The doctor says it will be better in about another week.”
“That’s good to hear,” stated Megumi. Hotoru nodded. Hotoru noticed Ayame’s awkward look and elbowed her side making her speak. Ayame looked at Megumi and asked, “Is Hatori around?”
“He left the room when I came to clean it,” stated Megumi. Ayame nodded and then turned away from Megumi.
“Hotoru and I better find him. He promised to take us out to explore around the palace.”
Ayame was about to walk away, but Megumi grabbed her by her wrist making her look back at him.
“If you are willing to wait, I can help you find him after I finish cleaning this room.”
“I can’t leave a damsel in distress alone.”
Ayame blushed and nodded. Megumi invited Ayame and Hotoru to sit in the room, while he cleaned it. Hotoru looked around the messy room and stated, “How can men even stay in this room?”
Megumi chuckled and said, “They have their ways. My father before told me that a friend of his managed to stay in a locked up shack for three days by just eating rats and drinking their blood.”
“That’s gross!” exclaimed Hotoru as Ayame grew pale. Megumi laughed and said, “I think my father was just telling me that a man always finds a way to survive no matter the circumstances.” Ayame smiled and asked, “So where is your father?” Megumi showed a sad smile.
“He died when I was five from pneumonia; there was nothing I could do to save him.”
“How sad,” said Hotoru. Ayame nodded in agreement. She placed a hand on Hotoru’s shoulder and added, “Hotoru’s father died the same way.” Hotoru nodded with a small tear at the corner of her eye. Megumi smiled at them.
“Come on now. Ladies such as yourselves should always be smiling,” stated Megumi. Megumi’s smile seemed to sparkle to them as both of them blushed.
Megumi suddenly saw movement in a corner and told Ayame and Hotoru to remain silent. Megumi stuck the tip of the mop in and out jumped a rat the size of a full grown cat. Hotoru and Ayame screamed as the rat scurried around. They jumped on top of a table refusing to get down. Megumi managed to grab the struggling rat and pressed a pressure point on its neck knocking it out cold. Megumi sighed in relief and looked at the two scared girls.
“It’s fine now, see,” stated Megumi showing them the unconscious rat. Hotoru and Ayame inched away from it. Megumi dumped the rat in an empty chair and rinsed his hand in the bucket. Megumi decided to dispose of the rat outside of the palace; where the girls couldn’t see. He looked toward Ayame and Hotoru and said, “You two need to get down, so I can continue to clean.”
“Is that the only rat?” asked Hotoru shaking. Megumi nodded even though he wasn’t quite sure. Hotoru got down easily, but Ayame lost her footing and ended up nearly crashing into the floor. Megumi caught her in midair to prevent the impact and held her close to his chest. Ayame blushed as she held the front of Megumi’s shirt.
“Why didn’t you stay with me until we reached the palace?”
Megumi sighed and stated, “You were no longer in danger and I needed to make the journey to the palace on my own.” Ayame clenched the shirt tighter.
“What would happen if I did get hurt when you were gone?”
Megumi chuckled as he looked down at Ayame.
“Well then I would have been heartbroken because you are also an important person to me,” stated Megumi. Ayame’s blush became deeper than it ever was before as she looked up at Megumi’s handsome face. Hotoru was just as red. To both Ayame and Hotoru, it sounded as if Megumi had just confessed his love to Ayame.
They suddenly heard a knock on the door. Megumi placed the flustered Ayame down and opened the door. Hatori was before it breathing heavily.
“Sorry, Megumi, but I was supposed to meet Princess Ayame here for a tour of the palace,” said Hatori feeling guilty about forgetting the promise. Megumi smirked and looked back at Ayame and Hotoru.
“I guess it was a good idea for them to wait here. We were planning to look for you after I finish cleaning.”
Hatori looked at Ayame and Hotoru and smiled. Ayame and Hotoru went to Hatori’s side. Megumi bowed to them and said, “I wish you all good luck.” Megumi closed the door. Hatori looked at Ayame and Hotoru and said, “Shall we?” Hatori suddenly grew confused when he saw Hotoru and Ayame’s flustered looks. He began to wonder what had happened since Ayame and Hotoru were alone with Megumi.
Megumi finally managed to clean the soldier’s quarters and exited the room with the unconscious rat in hand.
“What’s that in your hand?” asked Sasuke, who was passing by, after getting over his initial shock from the night before. Megumi looked at him and dangled the unconscious rat in front of him making Sasuke flinch.
“I found it in the soldiers’ quarters. I was going to release it in the forest outside after I was finished organizing the files.”
Sasuke’s eyebrow twitched at the sight of the rat. He placed a hand to his temple and asked, “Why not just kill it and toss it in the trash like a normal person?”
“That’s too cruel,” pointed out Megumi. Megumi looked at the face of the rat and added, “He’s also adorable when you look at it close enough.” Sasuke scoffed.
“No wonder the others thought you were a girl before.”
Megumi glared at Sasuke making Sasuke flinch and said, “Never call me a girl.” Sasuke inched away feeling that his life was in danger. Megumi looked back at the rat and then tossed it at Sasuke making Sasuke scream. Megumi ran off saying, “I don’t have the heart to kill it, so you do it.” Sasuke stared down at the fallen rat wondering what to do.
Megumi walked down the hall to the archives to organize the files, but stopped midway when he felt a pain in his chest. He placed a fist to his chest wondering what could be the matter. He then decided to let the files wait and changed his direction to his dorm room.
On his way to the dorm room, he didn’t notice Reiji behind him. Reiji wanted to apologize about what happened the night before to Megumi, but was still embarrassed about the incident, so he planned to apologize in the dorm room, where Megumi was obviously headed.
When at the dorm, Megumi entered the room making sure to close the door behind him. Reiji opened the door a crack and peeked inside still feeling embarrassed. He saw Megumi beginning to take off his shirt and decided that he should apologize later to be polite. He stopped his movements when he noticed Megumi was wearing a vest around his chest area. Megumi removed the vest revealing the white bandages wrapped around his chest. Reiji wondered if Megumi was hurt. Megumi unraveled the bandages and looked in the body length mirror. The mirror reflected the two small mounds on Megumi’s chest. Megumi fondled one of the mounds on his chest and sighed.
“Looks like they’re finally growing in, this will be a problem.”
Megumi flinched and looked back only to see Reiji staring back at him with wide eyes.
Reiji saw the small bumps against Megumi’s chest and instinctively pointed at them in disbelief.
“Are you a girl?”
Megumi’s secret was finally discovered by someone that he was not a true man, but a girl.