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The Kotetsu Brothers
by Nana Mizusawa

It was in the midst of battle. Though they should have had the upper hand, before they knew it the tide of battle had turned against them.
"Nagasone nii-chan, Hachisuka nii-chan, what do we do? I dunno when it happened, but there's a whooole lot more enemies now!"
Urashima Kotetsu, sitting cross-legged on his horse, asked the question with a much more cheerful voice than one might expect from the situation.
Nagasone Kotetsu, stroking the whiskers on his chin, grinned at Urashima Kotetsu.
"There's only one answer. Destroy the enemy vanguard, and then the three of us can cut down the rest."
"Eh-heheh! That's right! Do you think so too, Hachisuka nii-chan?"
Though his beloved Urashima Kotetsu was speaking to him, the look on Hachisuka Kotetsu's face was stern as ever.
He skillfully maneuvered his horse so as to both confront Nagasone Kotetsu's horse, and shelter Urashima Kotetsu behind his back.
"...The three of us? Please don't lump us together like that. Not all of us are fakes."
Though the cold speech was a familiar one, Urashima Kotetsu still came out with a protest.
"Hachisuka nii-chan, you shouldn't talk like that! It doesn't matter if he's a fake or not."
"Oh, but it does. It's very important, in fact."
"Right, sorry about that. I didn't mean to treat you as a brother. I was just thinking of the best way to settle this situation. How about it? If we keep stalling, we're going to be at a disadvantage."
Nagasone Kotetsu's reply was a curt one.
Hachisuka Kotetsu brushed back his long bangs, looking out towards the enemies ahead.
"Of course, for Aruji's sake we will cut down every last one of our enemies. --Let's go!"
Hachisuka Kotetsu's horse reared up, forelegs kicking the air, and charged with a loud neigh.
"Ah, wait for me, Hachisuka nii-chan!"
Urashima Kotetsu and Nagasone Kotetsu spurred on their horses as well, and so the assault began.
Hachisuka Kotetsu, following his declaration, was cutting down his enemies one after the next.
Rushing madly ahead, golden armor shining in the light of the sun, he seemed almost like a god of war.
Watching the man cut down opponents with his uchigatana, movements smooth as liquid, Nagasone was momentarily captivated by the sight; he shook his head, focusing on the battle instead. He would prove what he could do as a fake, through his own power. He could claim that much accomplishment, regardless of his authenticity.
For that reason, even if it was just one, even if all he had was an instant, he must defeat more enemies than anyone.
Thinking this, Nagasone Kotetsu spurred his horse after Hachisuka Kotetsu, swinging his uchigatana as he did.
After about the tenth win, when his blade started losing its edge, he could no longer attain the results he'd been looking for.
"...I'm beat...there's so much dried blood, it's getting hard to cut..."
Temporarily withdrawing from the battlefield, Nagasone Kotetsu pulled out a bamboo flask and sprinkled water over his uchigatana, wiping it on his sleeve. The uchigatana, stained a dark red, regained its original silver shine.
"Alright, I should be able to get twenty more with this."
Having cleaned up his uchigatana, Nagasone Kotetsu tugged on the reins, turning his horse back towards the battle.
It was then that he caught sight of an assassin creeping up behind Urashima Kotetsu.
"Urashima! Watch out-!"
He rushed forward, cutting down the enemy with the added force from his charge.
"Sorry! I wasn't paying attention!"
"Are you alright, Urashima? You look it, that's a relief. ...Hm?"
The next instant, he was struck by a horse's headlong charge, its rider tumbling off in an unsightly heap.
"...Gah! What!? More enemies!?"
But there was no sign of any opponents for him to cut down. Instead, what he saw descending was a figure in golden armor.
"Hachisuka Kotetsu!?"
Nagasone Kotetsu rushed to catch him. It seemed he'd fainted from the shock of falling off his horse.
A long arrow stuck out from his shoulder. It was quickly becoming soaked in red blood trickling from the wound.
"Don't tell me, you protected me...?"
If one were to think of Hachisuka Kotetsu's thought process, such a thing was unimaginable.
"It can't be...why would you..."
In a moment Nagasone Kotetsu had gathered Hachisuka Kotetsu into his arms, and still thinking over things, spurred his horse onwards.
"Graaahh! Move aside, out of my way! ——Nagasone Kotetsu, onward!"

Hachisuka Kotetsu woke as if from a long dream, and saw before him the face of his beloved brother, Urashima Kotetsu.
"Oh! You're awake! Hachisuka nii-chan, can you see me?"
"...Urashima....what's wrong? Your eyes are red."
"They're super red! Hachisuka nii-chan, you've been asleep for two days, I was really worried!"
"Two days...? What of the battle?"
Looking around, it seemed he was in the repair room.
Hachisuka tried to get up in his confusion, but was stopped by Urashima Kotetsu.
"You shouldn't get up so fast! You got stuck with two arrows, it was really bad. We won the battle, so don't worry about that. Aruji-san was really worried too and put a lot of effort into treating you, they keep popping in to check on you."
"Is that so?...This is rather shameful. For one such as me to lose consciousness on the battlefield..."
"Who cares about that! Y'know, Nagasone nii-chan's been stuck by your side all this time, too. He wouldn't sleep at all though, so I made him go back to his room. It'd be pretty bad if both my big brothers collapsed!"
"Nagasone did...?"
As Hachisuka Kotetsu furrowed his brow, another voice spoke up.
"Geeez, don't make us worry like thaat. And what're you doing making a face like that when you just got up?"
"...Midare Toushirou. Why are you here?"
"You can guess just by looking at my outfit, right? I was nursing you, too. How do I look? I borrowed this doctor's coat from Yacchan. You're curious what's under it, right~?"
Yacchan was probably Yagen Toushirou. Midare Toushirou opened the collar on the coat, which was a little too big for him.
"...I'm not interested in the least."
"Awww. And here I thought I'd finally let you mess me up~"
"...I'll refrain."
"Geez, how boring. It doesn't really matter, but what does is you gotta properly thank Nagacchan, okay? He went through a lot for you."
Nagacchan was apparently Nagasone Kotetsu.
"...A lot? What do you mean?"
"Fufu. Do you wanna know?"
"No. I'll just ask Urashima. Urashima, what happened?"
"Aawww. What's with that? That's mean~!"
Midare Toushirou childishly began to pout.
"Well you see, thanks to Nagasone nii-chan it was an overwhelming victory. And he carried you the whole time too, Hachisuka nii-chan."
"...That man did?"
"Uh-huh. You got shot really close to your vitals, so he gave you on-site first aid. But then he said the bouncing from the horse would open your wound. So then, you know how there's a lot of mountain trails between here and the battlefield? Nagasone nii-chan said it was best if he carried you all the way here."
"...All that distance? It took half a day to get there by horse."
Urashima Kotetsu gave a cheerful smile.
"Yeah! He was really careful carrying you, y'know. So that your wound didn't open. ...Isn't that great, Hachisuka nii-chan!"

Hachisuka Kotetsu looked like he wanted to say something, but stubbornly kept his mouth shut.
"Geez. What troublesome brothers~ Spending two full days watching from the corner of the room, complaining while you help each other. Why can't you guys be more honest, like Ucchan?"
"...Outsiders shouldn't butt in."
"Aruji-chan says not even a cute nurse like me could handle a tsundere like this."
"...Tsundere? What is that?"
"Weelll. Isn't it a really stubborn person? Anyway, I'll go tell Aruji-chan the news."
Getting to his feet, Midare Toushirou quickly skipped out of the room.
"You know, Midare-chan was really worried too, staying by your side all this time. And Nagasone nii-chan seemed really happy that you protected him, Hachisuka nii-chan."
"The one I was protecting was you, Urashima. Not that man."
Urashima Kotetsu looked at his brother with a troubled look on his face, one which was quickly wiped away by the following mutter.
"...However, I'll make sure to repay this debt, Nagasone..."
The End


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September 2017

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