A bit of Nemesis goodness for you all~
Title: Flow Unbroken
Theme Set: Epsilon at 1sentence
Characters: Takeda Shingen/Uesugi Kenshin; mentions of Naoe Kanetsugu
Summary: Being but fifty passing moments of one rivalry without hostility.
Rating: Slightly NSFW for amazingly vague references to war, drinking, and sexual-ish subtext?
Notes: Shingen and Kenshin, the best historical alliance that never was. I'm drawing upon an alternate-history take on the two of them as told in their respective stories in Samurai Warriors 2 where they eventually join forces, as we all know and love. (Well, fine, I love that bit. XD) The sentences themselves are all loosely connected but not arranged in any set chronological order. Feedback is loved and put on a pedestal where I can drink imaginary sake to it.
Thanks to cherrytruck and shinigami_yumi for testing out whether this whole thing even worked outside my own head.
Disclaimer: Samurai Warriors belongs to Koei.
»01 / Motion
Kenshin is capable of sitting still, biding his time; it's what separates him from his young apprentice who is visibly itching to best the man Kenshin has begun to refer to only as his Nemesis.
»02 / Cool
The air over the battlefield is chill at night, but not enough to stop Kenshin from hovering just outside the encampments—from there, he can gaze across the river, and he chooses to do so more than once that night, trying in vain to gauge how Shingen makes it through these dawdling hours.
»03 / Young
“Don't worry, kid, you'll get there!” is likely the last item on the list of things most would ever dare to shout Kenshin's way, but Shingen dives right in and even earns a smile for his candour.
»04 / Last
The fourth battle at Kawanakajima should be their decisive one, but—for all the mighty talk of settling the score coming from both sides—neither can imagine a rivalry such as theirs could be concluded so easily.
»05 / Wrong
As Shingen sits subdued on the ground, hands bound behind his back, he awaits the blade's hot touch on his neck peacefully enough, but all that comes is the snap of a rope that sets him free.
»06 / Gentle
They hurl challenges at each other whenever their paths cross, and every time, it is Shingen whose comments are merely teasing, even as Kenshin's voice rises in vehemence.
»07 / One
“Now I want us to fight together,” says Kenshin after that last bout, before they join hands on a cup of wine.
»08 / Thousand
Kenshin can only conclude that Shingen is too humble in his taunts towards Nobunaga, because to surpass his Nemesis, an enemy would require not one, but at least ten centuries of preparation.
»09 / King
“Even as allies, they compete to see whose abilities are greater,” Kanetsugu remarks during their joint campaign, and neither Kenshin nor Shingen manage to come up with a single thing that could cast doubt on the obvious.
»10 / Learn
They purportedly meet to develop in strategy, as if the art of studying each other in itself held no appeal at all.
»11 / Blur
The warrior is a whirlwind no one can seem to halt, racing across the downtrodden grass straight to Shingen's main camp and straight for him.
»12 / Wait
Kenshin wants Shingen, wants past the generals, past the pointless swirl of featureless soldiers who can only dream of sweeping him aside with their puny force, and so he regrets nothing when he charges forward alone.
»13 / Change
They think they know, but whenever they meet face to face, something previously unnoticed between them stirs the atmosphere.
»14 / Command
Even after the truce, Kenshin makes a point of keeping himself aloof—“I am not yours to command, Nemesis”—but those protestations last only about as long as it takes for his resolve to melt into comfort before his former arch rival, and after that, it's all unspoken.
»15 / Hold
Kenshin brings his sword down on Shingen's war fan, but the latter endures while Shingen's eyes remain fixed on this indomitable, obsessive fool.
»16 / Need
Shingen is generous with the thanks whenever Kenshin is there to help out after their union; Kenshin isn't sure if the other needs him that much, or if it's just his old age that has made him dangerously frank with friend and foe alike.
»17 / Vision
Shingen had once considered Kenshin but a naive man with no real ambition, too absorbed in his inner world and in the rush of the battlefield, but times have changed indeed.
»18 / Attention
Exchanging enmity for something warmer is no excuse to trade alertness for something duller.
»19 / Soul
For warlords, they devote a great amount of energy to the spiritual—perhaps that is another good reason for never speaking of the other with outright disrespect.
»20 / Picture
Surveying the enemy is necessary; examining the commander's movements as if the precise way he lifts his hand or tilts his head could decide the outcome of the battle, not so much.
»21 / Fool
It is only through cooperation that they can prove how much of a fool Nobunaga is, thinking he can take down both Tiger and Dragon just like that.
»22 / Mad
His men do what he says, but sometimes—and they'd better not insult him by assuming he fails to notice—it is as if they found Kenshin's ideas too daring, as if only their honour dictated that they follow their lord regardless.
»23 / Child
Once, they were young; never had they been children.
»24 / Now
All the time in the world is theirs before daybreak, and there is no reason to use it any less passionately than they would enjoy any other friendly skirmish.
»25 / Shadow
As they should, they try to leave a mark, if only by letting indelible shadows fall across the land, the years.
»26 / Goodbye
It is always too early to part with a Nemesis well loved, which makes Kenshin follow his new ally's movements closely despite himself, watching out for any and all persons of base principles.
»27 / Hide
Shingen orders a castle built in the contested spot—not for concealment, he rationalizes, but to use the element of surprise to his advantage just when Kenshin begins to get smug.
»28 / Fortune
The heavens smile upon them, that much is clear; once the dust settles over this last campaign a land of peace will be nearer than ever, forged by two long-time rivals who have only ever had too much in common.
»29 / Safe
They stand side by side when needed, revelling without saying as much in the certainty of continuation.
»30 / Ghost
On quiet mornings, when the dew has barely left the stalks beneath his feet, it is all Kenshin can do to convince himself the whisper on his robes is just the autumn breeze.
»31 / Book
Though tactics must be adaptable to succeed and following one strict guide could easily prove fatal, Shingen still finds it impossible to imagine either his army or his thoughts without the wisdom of The Art of War.
»32 / Eye
The look Kenshin gives him across the blade's edge is enough to drain the blood from Shingen's face; luckily, there is no way Kenshin can take note of his most unbecoming consternation before he is drawn back into the fray.
»33 / Never
Some things are not meant to be replaced, let alone some rivals.
»34 / Sing
Though he knows the harmony of war with all its utilitarian cadences, a softer music assumes a temporary reign whenever Kenshin makes a change of instrument for the evening, whenever he swaps sword for harmless strings.
»35 / Sudden
Everyone feels their amicable settlement is unexpected, except for the young yet eerily perceptive Kanetsugu.
»36 / Stop
Ending one feud starts everything else anew.
»37 / Time
“When you're old and decrepit like me,” Shingen declares with a laugh, and Kenshin swallows the reply that if anything, the passage of time has refined Shingen to a startling degree rather than having worn him down.
»38 / Wash
Warfare and wine is all Kenshin needs: he washes down the battle with one long, luxurious sip, and keeps his head clear enough to offer a toast to his Nemesis as well, just after paying his customary tribute to Bishamonten.
»39 / Torn
There is nothing missing in Kenshin's army, starting with provisions and ending with capable students, and yet his loyalty to all these cannot prevent him from seeking Shingen out too many times, appreciation cloaked in the guise of battle.
»40 / History
History will remember them much too separate.
»41 / Power
The soldiers crash on the field in waves; the commanders could never be mistaken for a reed in the tide.
»42 / Bother
Theirs is a repetitive, difficult strife—but they would sternly reprimand any valued general who would have displayed such audacity as to brand it a tiresome one.
»43 / God
Kenshin is mortal but he makes it a trifle, a forgettable detail.
»44 / Wall
The encampments are intended to keep the enemy out—so why is it so tempting to imagine, even for a moment, Nemesis striding right in past the flimsy walls?
»45 / Naked
“Do you never expose your face, even to friends?” Kenshin asks on the third evening after their truce, and Shingen lets out a chuckle as his hands dart to his headpiece all too knowingly.
»46 / Drive
Shingen drinks in moderation, not sharing the other man's penchant for imbibing as much as humanly possible while still maintaining a dignified front—but it is impressive how seriously Kenshin takes even his drinking as he lifts the cup, all his actions driven by the same fervour.
»47 / Harm
Some advisors insist they should fight to kill; instead, they fight to impress.
»48 / Precious
When Kenshin says that—“I treasure each of our battles together dearly”—there is not a smidgen of politeness in his tone, and it is that which makes the confession ring all the truer.
»49 / Hunger
They wage their war with weapons, tactics, with resolve and with feeling—not with rations.
»50 / Believe
“Come, Nemesis” is all that needs to be said before the showdown; the rest shall all follow, one step at a time.
Fic: Flow Unbroken
A bit of Nemesis goodness for you all~