[identity profile] stormymood.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] arashi_exchange
A piece of rainbow for [livejournal.com profile] jade_lil Part 2


The first thing Nino was conscious of when he awoke was the throbbing pain in his temple and the woozy, dizzy sensation like he was sent through a roller coaster for ten times without stopping.

"Data synchronised," an electronic voice spoke. A few seconds later, the pod opened.

Nino inhaled in the soft, scent of fresh grass and opened his eyes to an azure blue sky.

"Where..are..we?" Nino asked aloud as he sat up and crawled out of the pod. His bare feet touched dirt and grass as he stood and surveyed his surroundings.

Their machine had led them to an open field.

Just then, he heard the pod beside him open, and he turned to see Aiba climb out and look around, equally confused.

"Huh... what is this place?"

"You genius, I was hoping you knew," Nino grumbled, "why not we go back to our time and try again?"

"Good idea," Aiba said as he consulted the control panel. He landed a finger on a button and flinched with a loud "HOT!"

Nino laughed.

"But why?!"Aiba asked no one in particular as he looked at the control panel. He took out the tools in his pocket as he opened up the interior. He then referred to the blueprint in his hands and stopped. He then turned around to Nino with a slightly panicked expression on his face.

"Nino.. I'm sorry."

Nino felt those three words set off a warning bell in his mind.

"Wh-what is it?"

"I can only explain later," Aiba said seriously,"but right now, I need you to do three things with no questions asked."

"What?! I-"

"First, detach the control panel. Second, take the box under your pod. Third, RUN!"

With that, Aiba detached the main processing unit and went to the pods to detach some panels from the sides.

"What, Aiba-ku-"

"HURRY!" Aiba barked as he tore off the panels and took a metal box under his pod and proceeded to run. That tone took Nino by shock but he still hurried to tear off the control panel and grab the case under his pod before chasing after Aiba.

"Oi! Aibaka! Wait!" Nino yelled, just as a loud BOOM broke out in some distance behind him, and the impact threw him forward down on the ground. Nino hissed in pain as he whipped his head back, only to see that the machine Aiba had built was now a mess of burning metal.


"What the..." Nino choked out shakily under his breath as he looked up at the black smoke that wafted up towards the blue sky like a touch of ominous black ink on a blank blue canvas.

###*###*###*###*###*###*###*###*###*###*

"So basically... the cooling component of your machine malfunctioned and the machine blew up," Nino said as he followed Aiba in the midst of a forest.

".. yeah."

"And it does occur to you that that machine was our only connection to our time," Nino continued, "and it just went up in flames and rubble."

"...Ye-"

"Well WHAT in a hundred levels of Super fucking Mario are we going to do right now?!" Nino demanded as he kicked a rock near his foot, and the rock bounced off a tree trunk to land right beside a few sparrows which flew away.

"Calm down, Nino-kun," Aiba coaxed, "besides, not all is lost."

"How then, GENIUS, are we going to do this? Hmm?"

"This is why I told you to bring the boxes and the control panel,"Aiba said as he set down the box in his hand and opened it. Nino peered in to see that it contained a lot of spare wires and tubes, along with a good number of spare parts.

"With these," Aiba said, "we have enough to get started on a new machine!"

"...you do realise," Nino said, "that there might be parts missing that cannot be found in here?"

"Oh how bad can it be? For all we know, there could be some electricity in this time," Aiba said as he followed a smal dirt road out into a clearing.

Both their jaws dropped.

Young women clothed in yukatas and dolled up with makeup stepped daintily along the street stalls that sold ornaments and jewellery.
Some men carried water in two buckets and transported them on their backs.
Horses galloped along the streets.
Some familiar men in light blue coats strolled about.

"The Shinsengumi.." Nino murmured as the name appeared in his mind as a recollection from his university module of Japanese history, "but...why?"

"So it worked..." Aiba murmured in a mix of shock and wonder, "it brought us the Edo time period!"

"But... how are we going to get back?" Nino asked. The question was left unanswered as they looked back and forth along the streets in confusion.

###*###*###*###*###*###*###*###*###*###*

"Oh, so your ride from your home town broken beyond repair? Well come on in, you must be really tired!" A kind old lady said as she led them into a small inn.


"Thanks ma'am," Aiba thanked politely as he let the proprietess show them to their room. Nino quietly looked around, his hands gripping the phone in his hands pretty tightly.

Still no reception.

There was still no one with smartphones or tablets.
"Heck, not even the ancient ones with black and white screens..." Nino thought as he sat down on the tatami floor.

"Please, stay for the night," the proprietess said.

"But we have no money," Nino said.

"Oh, don't worry about that! Besides, if you do need money, you can help out with odd jobs around here if you wish."

Aiba and Nino thanked the old lady as she left, and when they were finally alone, Nino levelled a rueful glare at Aiba.

"So, Aiba Masaki. Your machine worked. We are here in the distant past. And we are stuck. What are we going to do?!"

"We got some of the crucial parts right here!" Aiba argued," we just need the tools to fix them up..."

"Well we don't have that right now do we?"

"We can look around for them! There are some tools around here, I know it!”

“Aiba-kun...” Nino said solemnly, “please remember one thing. We are in the Edo time period. There is no electricity. Hell I don't even know if they have a screwdriver or an ammeter. How the hell are you able to reconstruct the machine you built?”

“...Well we could...” Aiba started and then paused. Nino's words were harsh, but he did have a point. They were in an era that they had very little of an idea about. How they were going to go about getting the tools required, they had no idea.

“Erm...” a soft voice called from behind the paper screen doors. The door slid open to reveal the face of a young servant girl.

“Have you heard of the genius blacksmith?” she asked quietly, and Nino and Aiba shook their heads.

“There is a blacksmith just a short distance away from here,” she said, “he has been known to be able to make top quality tools to meet your needs so long as you give him an idea of how it looks like.”

“Really?!” Aiba said with a gleeful face. He jumped up and ran to the girl, shaking her hand fervently.

“Thank you so much miss!” Aiba said before dashing out of the room door. Nino looked over at the blushing girl who stood right where she was.

“Sorry about my friend. He tends to get a wee bit excited,” Nino said apologetically before dashing after Aiba. The girl only watched them go as she finally moved, picking up her wooden tray.

“Strange men in pretty strange-looking clothes,” she thought with a faint blush on her cheeks,” but they look pretty handsome. Hehe.”

###*###*###*###*###*###*###*###*###*###*

“The genius blacksmith?” an old man standing by a dango stall said as he pointed to a corner in the street, “just go straight ahead over there. You should be able to see his nameplate. His name is Sakurai Sho.”

"Thank you!" Aiba said as he trudged over towards the shop, Nino following close behind him.
"Erm, I get that there is a blacksmith here, but how in the world can you be so sure that he could and he would help us?"

"... Well I don't," Aiba said, "but without trying, we won't get anywhere now, will we?" They pushed the curtains aside to see a well-built man their age working away on an anvil with a hammer in hand. The man turned around to look at them, his eyes blinking curiously at them.

"May I help you?" he asked.

"Are you... Sakurai-san? We would like to ask for your help on something," Nino asked as he stepped inside the shop to see lots of tools and swords hung on the wall.

"Alright, give me a moment. I'm trying to finish this sword in hand," the man said as he returned to his work, hammering away at the sword-in-progress.

Nino tugged Aiba aside.

"I understand that we are desperate," Nino said," but it seems like this dude only makes swords."

Aiba looked around in deep thought as he looked over at the busy man. Finally, it seemed as if he got to a good stopping point, because he laid down the sword to cool before he turned to them.

"Sakurai Sho. It is an honour to meet you," he said politely.

"Ah, good to see you too," Aiba said as he introduced themselves and began a lengthy explanation as to how they had travelled from a faraway place and had the misfortune of having their transportation being completely destroyed, thereby leaving them completely lost.

"All we need you to do is really simple," Aiba said as he whipped out his blueprints, "I just require tools that will help in fixing them up."

"Well I am not sure about making these tools since I only make swords," Sho said as he pursed his lips in thought, "but I will do my best. I need to know what the tools you need look like, though."

"Oh really?! Awesome! I just need some paper. I will provide the drawings for you!" Aiba said as he dashed off to the room beside the main workroom.

"Is your friend always this excited?" Sho asked with a slightly amused look on his face.

"Unfortunately yes, Sakurai-san," Nino said sheepishly,"we live in an inn just a short distance away from here."

"The proprietess is pretty friendly,"Sho commented as he wiped off beads of perspiration from his forehead with a towel, "anyhow, do not worry. Your...ride will be fixed up in a matter of time."

"I feel a bit relieved hearing that," Nino said honestly.

"Why not take a walk around town? Aiba-san seems very eager to get started.
We might make some progress when you are back."

"I will take you up on that. Thanks!" Nino said as he strode out of the shop, taking a deep breath to calm his nerves.

"Calm down, calm down..." he murmured in between deep breaths, "everything is going to be okay."

...

He still felt as panicked as he did when he first saw the time machine burst into flames.

He decided he needed the walk more badly than he thought he would. He walked around the town, admiring the handicrafts and food that were displayed on carts and small stalls.

"These," he thought quietly as he held up a small pouch in his hand,"are pieces of history... huh."

Just then, he caught sight of a breathtaking painting of two men on a bridge over-looking a small river of lotus flowers. He recognised the painting from his history module to be ukiyo-e paintings (which were pictures printed from wood blocks onto a piece of paper). He stepped into the shop to see a slight man about his stature working carefully on a block of wood.

Upon hearing the crunch of gravel on the ground, the man turned to look at him. Nino blinked as he looked at the scraggly beard that sat on the man's chin.

"Erm, I am just looking around," Nino said nervously as he stayed still, afraid that he would damage anything around him. The man only looked quietly at him, his eyes running from the top of his head to his feet.

"If you do not mind,traveller," the man said in a low voice, "I can make a portrait of you."

Nino blinked in surprise at the man's suggestion. Before he could react, the old man had propped up his equipment and readied the charcoal pencil in his hand. He then gestured Nino to sit in a chair opposite him. Nino nodded with an awkward smile as he sat down on the chair.

"Alright. Just pose and stay still for a while," the old man said as he got to work, and Nino decided to make a sideway pose that tilted towards his right, allowing the man to capture a bit of his left profile.

For a long while he stayed in that position, his muscles easing up gradually as he breathed slowly. Usually when his friends in the art faculty tried to draw his portrait, he would feel very uncomfortable posing for them. And yet oddly enough, having a strange old man like that guy draw his portrait was different.

"Maybe it's his skill and expertise that I have faith in," he thought as he closed his eyes.

"Don't close your eyes." came a sharp command.

"Oh, sorry," Nino said as he opened them again and relaxed himself in his seat.

That evening, Nino walked towards the blacksmith's to see a relatively well-dressed stranger step into the shop.

"... What is it?" came a familiar voice from within. He recognised it as the blacksmith's ("Sakurai, was it?" Nino thought).

"I'm here for the swords that my father ordered," came a dignified reply, "I trust that they are ready?"

"Yes, Matsumoto-san," Sakurai said, and Nino heard a shuffling of feet and the gentle clanging of some swords inside the shop. He heard the Matsumoto guy step further into the shop, assumed to be inspecting the swords.

"These are satisfactory. Thank you," he said. And there was silence.

"... Have you eaten?" came a hesitant but gentle question that broke the pause.

Sho's voice came out significantly softer than usual.

"I have. And you?"

"The moon is beautiful tonight," Matsumoto said, and a brief moment later, the man stepped out with a couple of swords. He handed them to his servant and jumped on a horse. They rode together away from the shop, and Sho stepped out from his shop, giving the two riders a faraway look.

"The moon is beautiful, huh," Nino murmured as he looked up at the pitch black sky in disdain, "even though there isn't a moon right now."

###*###*###*###*###*###*###*###*###*###*

Weeks passed slowly as Aiba and Nino struggled to get used to living in a time period with no electricity or modern communication. (Nino had to stop himself from searching for a charger right before he went to bed and Aiba had the habit of placing a hand on the wall to find a light switch that was not there.) The people, while on the edge with roaming ronin and the Shinsengumi keeping peace, were actually pretty friendly to them. (Their T-shirts certainly make them seem like foreign travellers.)

Every now and then, Nino would pass by the ukiyo-e shop and see the old man working away at the wood, carving out his likeness into the block. Sometimes, the dango seller they met when they first came would wave to him and hand out some small helpings. And without fail, every two weeks that Matsumoto guy would come to the blacksmith shop for some odd reason he had no idea about.

One night, Sho sat down with Aiba and Nino in his work room, his lantern sitting on top of a huge number of drawings (courtesy of Aiba).

"I have some good news and some bad news," Sho said, "I can make these tools for you. I have an idea as to how I can do it."

"You can?!" Aiba said, a grin spreading on his face.

"And I have an idea how to acquire these other metal parts of yours," Sho said, "BUT, it will be difficult."

"Why?"Nino asked.

"Thing is, these parts are not found in Japan," Sho said, "they come from other countries. You are going to have to go to the port by the ocean to get them when the deliveries come. And it is pretty far away.

"We can go on horseback!" Aiba suggested.

"Well yeah but..." Sho's voice trailed off as he looked at Aiba and Nino, "have you two ever ridden a horse?"

The two men shook their heads in sync. Sho sighed.

"Wait, can your friend take us?" Nino asked. Sho looked at him curiously.

"Friend?"

"Yeah, that daimyo I see coming to visit you every now and then," Nino said, and Sho blinked in surprise as he looked away. Aiba narrowed his eyes closely to see a faint blush on his cheeks.

"Sakurai-san, perhaps you actually.."

"Nonsense!" Sho said strongly,"there is nothing between Matsumoto-san and I! I-" He paused and looked away, his eyes focusing on the fires in the stove, as if the flames held a mysterious ability to calm his emotions.

"He is a daimyo with influence," Sho said, "I'm nothing compared to him. I'm not worthy of him."

"From what I see, it doesn't seem like he thinks that way," Nino said as he remembered how that daimyo had sounded when speaking to him.

"ANYWAY," Sho interrupted, "I hear that the deliveries are coming tomorrow. I will arrange for a cart to carry the shipments to a warehouse nearby. You might want to turn in early tonight."

###*###*###*###*###*###*###*###*###*###*

"I bet that it's that Matsumoto-san who helped to get the parts for us! That could be why he has been meeting Sakurai-san every night!" Aiba said as they turned in to sleep. Nino hummed in thought.

"Not exactly," Nino said as he laid down in bed, "I am quite sure there is more to that. He then looked up at the moon that shone through the window until he felt his eyelids fall shut.

The next morning, they got up early and took a horse-drawn cart over to the shipping port where their shipments were.

"Goodness," Aiba said as he carried the crates over to their cart, "I had no idea that it would take this long- it is already well into the afternoon!"

"Yeah I can tell!" Nino grumbled as he placed the crates in the cart, "this should be enough, right?"

"Yep! We can already start with the machine after we get the parts over to Sakurai-san's!" Aiba said, "we will finally go back to our own time!"

The rider guided the horse back the same way they came, and Nino and Aiba rested their tired muscles as they sat in the cart with the crates. Just then, Nino heard metallic sounds and a group of men in black jumped out from behind some bushes.

"GIVE US THE CART NOW!" One of them commanded. Nino and Aiba froze stiff in the cart as the rider jumped off the horse and ran away into the distance.

Just then, a figure jumped out from the tree above them and landed in the middle of the cart with a long sword in hand. Before long, sounds of pained groans and metal clashing with metal erupted around them as the man fought off the bandits, his sword cutting through the air swiftly and gracefully. Nino cowered for safety with Aiba as they huddled close behind some crates.

And then he smelt it.
The faint, but distinguishable smell of... Ink.
It was strong and oddly familiar, like he had encountered it a number of times before. When the bandits were gone, the only other man left was a samurai dressed in navy blue clothing. He turned to look at Nino and Aiba, and Nino froze.

He had thought that the man before him was an old painter.
He had not expected that the man beneath the scraggly beard was actually a young samurai who looked as young as himself.

"Are you alright?" the man asked, and Nino nodded, the look of surprise not leaving his face. The samurai's eyes flashed in recognition as their eyes met, and he gave a slight smile.

"I did not think we would meet again under such circumstances," he said, "it is good to see you again."

"Y..yeah.." Nino said as he tried to calm his pounding heart (from the ordeal of being ambushed by bandits, of course).

"I will take you and your friend back to town," the samurai said as he hopped on the horse.

"Wait!" Nino called before the samurai started riding, "what is your name?"

The samurai looked at him and gave him a gentle smile that brightened his chubby cheeks.

"Ohno Satoshi."



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