Bad Things

|Bad Things| Chapter 8

After my announcement at dinner that evening, Kaemon began training Jiro personally twice a week, sometimes even thrice. During daytime, sometimes I watched the boys train. While Jiro seemed to be constantly running after Kaemon, Suzu also appeared to be constantly running after Jiro. Did men not fall in love with women anymore? Once, I caught sight of Suzu untying Jiro’s hair for fun, only to tie it up again seconds later. While the green-eyed male was clearly bewildered, he let his friend do what he would. Day after night and night after day, I watched intently, trying to find a single fault in the young man named Jiro. But day after day, I could not find any. The more I observed him, the more I realized that he really was as pure as he appeared, he was timid, and he was honest—even if he wasn’t the cleverest person on earth. He was everything I wasn’t.

Another night, I watched in the darkness as Kaemon and Jiro trained. They really were training, just as they claimed. Yet, they were conversing too, something that Kaemon rarely did with me—not for pleasure, anyhow. The master told his apprentice of the long history of the three clans, how the Haki and Foaane had united by marriage for generations to strengthen their bond, while the Senwan had always been their mutual enemy. He told him, specifically, that my marriage to him was one such symbol.

“When the battle comes, Master Kaemon,” Jiro once asked, “What can I do for you?” Though I hadn’t known the lad long, even I could tell that he doubted his usefulness to the clan. Somehow, I found myself smiling and shaking my head in tenderness, despite the fact that this boy had more of Kaemon’s attention than I did.

Kaemon noticed his doubt—of that I was sure, even before hearing his response. But when his reply did come, it sent my eyes almost bulging out of my sockets. “Live for me,” he answered with a straight face. “And for your clan,” he added, as if that made any difference.

Jiro was as flustered as I was to hear that, but at that moment, it was Jiro’s face that Kaemon noticed, not mine.

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