Book of short stories given out if you purchased all CDs from Stellaworth.
The First Haunted House ~ Saito Hajime
“What is that, Saito-san?”
The first thing we found when we walked through Kyoto together was a show tent. People had queued up around the tent and were eagerly awaiting their turn.
“It looks like a show tent…”
“There’s even a child crying… It looks a little scary.”
I had never liked show tents. I felt that looking at the people on show and feeling superior was something that ignorant people did. I certainly didn’t want to become the type of small-minded person who would laugh at seeing things like that. Of course I knew they weren’t all the same, but that prejudice prevented me from enjoying them.
“That doesn’t really matter. Let’s go home now.”
“Why are you so concerned about it? Of course it won’t be something good.”
“I suppose so… It looks quite fun though.”
“Looks quite fun?”
As I looked as the expressions of the people lined up, I thought there was no way that would be possible. When I looked at them, their faces were certainly different from usual. There seemed to be many couples and parents with their children. The men also held onto the women’s shoulders in order to comfort them and the women looked up at the men, as if asking to be spoiled.
…What is this…? Some kind of red-light gathering? No, it can’t be. Otherwise there wouldn’t be children here with their parents. In that case…what is it?
Even after considering that for a while, I had no idea what was happening.
“…Are you curious about it too, Saito-san?”
“Y-Yes… I am.”
“In that case, shall we line up there? If you get tired of it, we can leave the line early…”
“Hmm… Alright then. But if it’s something harmful, then we’ll leave immediately. Got it?”
Emphasising that, I joined the line with you. Our turn gradually came closer. As I had not been to a show tent before, I really had no idea what would be happening. Before long, the couple in front of us entered and I heard the conversation of the employees at the entrance.
“Hello there! Welcome to the world’s most frightening haunted house. Make sure you enjoy yourselves.”
A haunted house? Oh no, I haven’t been in one of those before…!
“Ah, so it was a haunted house after all.”
“After all…? You knew it was one? …Will you be alright?”
“What do you mean?”
“Won’t it be a little frightening for a woman? We can still get out of the line now…”
“No, I’ve always wanted to go in one! Why don’t we go in?”
“Or could it be that you don’t like these kinds of things?”
To be honest, I couldn’t tell if that was the case. At any rate, I had no experience of anything like this. I had heard that people dressed as ghosts try to surprise the customers though…
I’m not afraid. I’m just a little nervous about doing something I’m not familiar with.
“…No, I don’t mind. It may be called a haunted house, but it’s nothing more than a show tent. I’m sure we’ll be out soon enough.”
“Really? Ah, this is exciting…”
“Ah, thank you for waiting! Welcome to the haunted house. Go in this way and proceed along the path!”
In the meantime, our turn had come. I entered the show tent step after step, as if guiding you there.
“I thought it would be dark, but there are actually candles here. But… I feel as if this is scarier than being in the dark.”
“T-There’s nothing to be afraid of as long as you can see. Come on, keep walking.”
The reason I had stuttered then was not fear, of course. I had just almost kicked one of the candles by my feet.
“I think something might appear, Saito-san…”
“Don’t worry. Even if something does appear, it will only be a person or a show prop.”
“I know that, but…”
You looked adorable when you squeezed my hand tightly. The reason your hand began to feel wet was naturally because it was getting clammy. It would be troublesome if it were something else.
Well… There’s nothing special about this, is there? It’s just a show tent. That’s all it’s got, hmm?
That was what I thought as I led you by the hand to the exit. The show tent was smaller than I had thought and it seemed that things were over in an instant.
“Hmm. So it’s already over…”
“I’ve come for revenge!”
My heart skipped a beat at the bloody woman who suddenly jumped out at the very end.
“A-Are you alright, Saito-san?”
“…Hmm? Why do you ask?”
“You’re leaning back and you look all tense…”
The First Mistake ~ Okita Souji
It happened on an early afternoon with good weather.
I suddenly decided to go out to the sunny veranda instead of the corridor. It was probably cold as the winter wind had begun to blow, but I had no opportunity to go out as I was not on patrol duty that day. Breathing in the outside air once a day was a habit of mine.
As soon as I stepped out onto the veranda, my gaze went towards the garden. You were crouched down beside the laundry pail, washing the soldiers’ clothing.
You hadn’t noticed me yet.
I’ve noticed you, but you’re completely preoccupied with the laundry? …Hmm?
I considered saying something cruel, yet it displeased me to be the one to call out first. However, it also annoyed me to leave without saying a thing, so I deliberately slowed down my pace. The veranda was not a long distance away, but if I walked this slowly, then surely you would notice me…
…Are you a fool? Hurry up and look this way!
This is why idiots are a bother.
Although I had come as far as the middle of the veranda, you showed no sign of noticing me.
This is why I never feel like pouncing on you in your sleep.
It was so easy to conquer you that I felt no need to do anything at all.
If she ends up not noticing me, then perhaps I’ll punish her… Ah?!
After a short moment, I felt the pain reach throughout my forehead.
Right after wondering what had happened to me, I realised that I had bumped into the pillar because I had been concentrating on you. However, I had not been composed enough to stand up straight and had fallen off the veranda.
I yelled out pathetically as I tumbled down from the veranda, falling right into the garden. It happened in an instant.
A worried voice reached my ears, seeming surprised at what had happened.
…Perhaps she saw what just happened?
There was no doubt that she saw. No one would fail to notice another person bumping into the pillar that loudly. So that means she knows I bumped into the pillar on the veranda and yelled out pathetically as I fell, doesn’t it?
I felt myself turning pale. I was proud of being the type of person who would not lose their composure, but now I was certainly not composed. My mistake was seen by you of all people. I would give up my sword fighting skills in exchange for the ability to control your memory, even if only for this moment. I would make you believe it was Heisuke who had been so clumsy.
“Are you alright?!”
…This isn’t the time to be thinking such foolish things.
You looked pale as you ran to me.
I couldn’t let you know that I wasn’t paying attention because I had been looking at you. I must make everything look alright.
“Are you feeling unwell, Okita-san…?!”
You knelt down beside me, looking at me in a worried manner.
I had denied it without even thinking. I hate it when you worry about my health. It would have been the perfect way to explain what had happened, but I couldn’t bring myself to say yes.
“Then what happened? Are you drunk?”
“Quit the jokes, please. Do I look like the kind of man who starts drinking in the morning?”
The expression in your eyes seemed to question me. I reflexively denied it once more. I desperately tried to come up with another reason. Unable to think of a good idea that quickly, I said what first came to mind.
“…I don’t know why you’re asking me that.”
“I said I don’t know why you’re asking. Do you have the time to be concerned about me? You’re doing the laundry, aren’t you? How about you get your work done right away instead of concerning yourself with me?”
When I hurriedly said those words, you looked confused and made a frantic excuse.
“But I thought you might have been hurt…”
“You thought I had been hurt…? What exactly happened?”
“Well, you fell off the veranda…”
“I didn’t fall.”
You had a confused look in your eyes as I flatly denied it.
“I didn’t fall off the veranda. There’s no way I would do that, is there? I find your assumptions rude. They annoy me.”
“Were you daydreaming? It’s very bold of you to be sleeping on the job. You need to be punished.”
You had a surprised look on your face as I grabbed your arm and stood up. It was quite a desperate and forceful way of doing things, but the way things were, I could only let myself be daring.
You’re probably used to my unreasonable actions.
The rest was easy once I convinced myself of that.
“It’s your fault for not noticing me.”
The First Errand ~ Kondo Isami
There’s something I’ve wanted to see for a while. For that reason, I insisted on having this day free and I bought some black clothes I’d never normally wear. Those clothes were recommended to me by Yamazaki-kun, who was accustomed to doing covert operations.
“Could you run an errand for me, Miss?”
I asked her with a serious expression on my face, after we had finished eating sweets in secret together, as we always did. I didn’t actually want to have that expression on my face, but I did it to make her nervous. I couldn’t help it.
“What would you like me to do?”
She hurriedly sat up straight and caught her breath as she asked.
I spoke as slowly as possible and in a low voice, so it would seem more important than was necessary.
“I want you to deliver this package to Kanebishiya, now.”
When I held out the wrapped package, she took it nervously.
“You mustn’t look at what’s inside. The package contains an important secret of mine, you see. All you have to do is deliver it. Understand?”
“You must promise not to look at it. I’m sorry, but I’ll leave that errand to you.”
“Alright, see you later.”
She gazed at the mysterious package and bowed her head as she left the room.
…Alright. I’ve got to get ready too…!
I cheerfully stood up and quickly began changing into the black clothes.
She left the headquarters carrying the package under her arm, her sandals tapping against the ground as she did so. I secretly left the headquarters shortly afterwards. I quietly followed her, holding my breath and carefully ensuring my footsteps made no sound. I gazed at her back as she continued forwards, her sandals tapping on the ground. Sometime earlier, I had had the opportunity to become acquainted with a shogunate retainer who had said:
“My greatest joy of late is secretly watching over my daughter as she runs errands.”
I hadn’t realised at the time I heard him say that, but asking the young lady to run an errand and watch her in secret certainly is enjoyable. I am moved by the admirable sight of her working hard for my sake. I even fear that she is so lovely that everyone in Kyoto might fall for her at first glance.
If you are approached by someone questionable, I will take out Kotetsu and save you, Miss!
That was my prayer as I gripped the sword I had placed at the waist of my dark clothes; yet fortunately, no uncivilised man showed his face. The young lady looked straight ahead, going in the direction of her destination.
All of a sudden, her gaze seemed to have become distracted. She looked upon the package she was holding, and then quickly averted her eyes… However, she curiously took a quick glance.
Hehe… Hehehehehe… She appears to be curious about the contents of the package.
This was the development I had been waiting for. Hiding in the shadows to avoid being seen by anyone else, I smiled to myself. Having mentioned that the package contained a secret of mine, it would surely stir up her curiosity. Anyone would end up wanting to look inside, but the young lady has a strong sense of responsibility. Her guilt is most likely preventing her from looking inside without permission.
Ah, she feels troubled… Hehe, how lovely she is.
That evening, I was temporarily restrained until Toshi arrived. Then on the way back to the headquarters, I felt the full force of his anger.
I suppose this is my punishment for lying to the young lady…
It was a first errand to be feared. I had an incredibly enjoyable time, but it seems that I ought to rethink making this into a hobby of mine. I made my way back, disappointed that I would have to apologise to the young lady once I arrived at the headquarters.
The First Game of Hide and Seek ~ Toudou Heisuke
I didn’t know much about the games children played. When I was younger, my mother was working everyday and there weren’t many children around my age nearby. So, even now, I still have a longing for those types of games. Today was no different. On the way home after shopping, I saw some excited children in a corner of the town and looked to see what on earth they were doing.
“What do you think they’re doing?”
I suddenly asked you as you walked beside me. You stared at the children, and then smiled happily as you spoke:
“They’re playing hide-and-seek.”
“Huh? Hide-and-seek?” 
I felt my body tremble as I heard those unexpected words. So a world like that one did exist? I had no idea.
“What?! Children play mature games like that?!”
“It’s odd of me to say this to you, but I wondered if I was a bit too grownup as a child. I looked down upon childish habits and was quick to become interested in girls.”
“But…but…the other children did these kinds of things and left me out, did they?! How far did they go?! Did they…kiss?!”
“Wait a minute, Toudou-san!”
“I’m not sure what it is, but aren’t you misunderstanding something. When you play hide-and-seek, one person is “it” and everyone will hide so the monster doesn’t catch them.”
“What…? Ah, I see… So that’s what it was… Hahaha…”
My heart was still beating fast. At the same time as I felt relieved that children were playing innocent games, I felt disappointed at myself naturally thinking indecent thoughts. I scratched my head as I began walking back to the headquarters once again. My sandals tapping against the ground as I walked, I noticed you hurrying to catch up with me and gently held your hand.
I wondered if the game you explained to me earlier, where everyone hides from the person who is “it” really was fun. I couldn’t imagine it being particularly interesting. Hiding so a scary monster wouldn’t find you just seems like children trying to scare themselves.
Ah… Maybe they’re trying to learn the tactics of being a soldier by doing that while they’re young?
If that’s the case, then I can’t really look down on children’s games.
“Toudou-san, would you like to try playing hide-and-seek when we get back to the headquarters?”
“Huh? You and I are gonna play?”
You nodded when I asked. I didn’t really want to play a children’s game at the headquarters, but if there was the possibility that I might improve as a soldier, then it would be worth trying. I agreed to your suggestion and began coming up with a strategy in my mind.
“Alright, I’m going to be ‘it’ then. You go and hide while I count to twenty, Toudou-san.”
“Okay, got it.”
“I’m going to start now. One…”
I promised that I would only hide in the garden.
Hmm… So where shall I hide myself?
You had covered your eyes with your hands and were counting with your back turned to the garden. I crept through the garden to avoid being noticed by you. Looking for the best place to hide yourself in a short amount of time certainly might be a good form of training.
But I feel as if this isn’t much fun after all…
I went behind a tree that I found could conceal me completely. There I could see you if I peeked out a little and if I was about to be found, I would also be able to use my sword.
Ah… But what would I need to do that for? This is supposed to be a game…
While I was thinking about that, you had finished counting to twenty and had begun to search the garden.
Ah, you’ve started looking for me. Sorry, but I’ve got a pretty good hiding place. It’ll take some time for you to find me…
I quickly glanced from behind the tree to see how you were doing. You had rushed towards the wrong place and then begun looking around the garden again with a dissatisfied look on your face.
Hehe…! Has she really played this game before? She’s not doing well at all.
I watched worry spread through your face as you continued to look for me, until at last you ended up with a tearful expression on your face.
Ah… Was this hiding place too difficult for her? But seeing her so desperate to find me that she ended up in tears was quite fun…
I found you admirable that way. It touched my heart. I felt strangely excited and I began to breathe a little harder.
Damn it… I can’t look down on children’s games! This game really does seem to have a sensual side to it…!
I noticed a rustling sound as you came this way and tried to control the sound of my breathing. As you approached with a worried look on your face, I tried to make myself less noticeable…
“Uh…where are you, Toudou-san…?”
I let out a sigh as I heard your tearful voice.
Then I grabbed hold of your arm as you began to move away, pulling you into the shade of the trees.
“…?! T-Toudou-san! You surprised me…”
“You’re hopeless. You didn’t find me.”
“But I didn’t know where you were…”
“Haa… You dummy. Why’d you get all tearful? Did you think I had gone?”
I had intended that as a joke, but you nodded slightly with a tearful look in your eyes.
Ah… My goodness…
I found you incredibly lovely and pushed you against the tree, kissing you.
“Shh… No one can see us here, right?”
“It’s alright. We’re hiding from the demon vice captain.”
I made up an excuse on the spot and held you tightly.
I see. Hide-and-seek is quite interesting… I felt sorry that you had to be it though.
As I absentmindedly thought about that, I gave the woman who was dear to me another kiss.
 “Hide-and-seek” is “kakurenbo” in Japanese (usually written as かくれんぼ). When Heisuke says “hide-and-seek” it’s written as 廓恋慕 – kanji which translate as “red light district” and “love”, which explains his reaction
The First Time Taking Care of a Child ~ Hijikata Toshizo
I doubted myself when I first heard those cries. I shouldn’t have heard something like that at the headquarters and it was incredibly out of place. However, the cries did not stop no matter what, and even the soldiers who were earnestly training in the dojo worriedly stopped what they were doing.
I had no choice but to tell the men to keep training and headed in the direction of the cries. As I had expected, the cries were coming from her room.
“Hey! What are you doing?”
When I opened the door, without even disguising my anger, you were there beside a crying baby, with an incredibly troubled look on your face. While rocking the baby which lay on the quilt with one hand, you kept on tapping a drum with your other hand. Neither of those things seemed to be having an effect on the child though.
“…I asked what you were doing!”
When I glared at her, as if to tell her I didn’t want to have to repeat myself again, she began to explain the situation, while looking as if she was about to cry.
“Kondo-san was here a moment ago… He said an acquaintance had left their child with him just for today and told me to take care of him… So…”
Listening as your words trailed off, I understood most of the situation. If Kondo-san had asked her to do this, then there was no way she could have refused.
The family crest on the child’s clothing was that of quite a highly ranked shogunate retainer. I didn’t know what circumstances had led to the child being allowed here, but there would be no harm in having the retainer indebted to us. However, I would like to do something about this noise for the time being.
“Hurry up and make him stop crying. It’s an annoyance.”
“A-Alright. I’m trying my best, but I haven’t been able to…”
You nodded hurriedly and began beating the drum even harder.
“What a noisy child. The crying is giving me a headache…”
“I’m sorry… But I don’t know what to do… I haven’t taken care of a baby before…”
“Aren’t you trying to make him sleep in the wrong place?”
“Hold him in your arms. That’s how you’re supposed to comfort a baby.”
You nodded in surprise when I pointed out something that anyone should know. It seemed as if you hadn’t even considered that.
You’re far too naïve…
She might be confused about suddenly having been given a child to take care of.
Then wouldn’t it be dangerous to leave her to handle this alone…?
It would be terrible if something were to happen to the child of a shogunate retainer.
I worried for a short time, before clicking my tongue in annoyance as I sat down in front of you.
“It’d be no good if I left this to you and something happened to the child.”
As I said that, your eyes widened with surprise, and then for some reason, you smiled out of relief.
“Thank you very much.”
“Now isn’t the time to be thanking me. You should reflect upon your incompetence and apologise for the trouble you’ve caused me.”
“A-Alright. I’m sorry…”
You hurriedly lowered your head and reached out to the child. You looked to be moving your hands in a clumsy manner.
…? What is she doing? Why is she pulling the child by his hands? Shouldn’t she support his head first? Isn’t it normal to support the head with one hand and the bottom with the other…?
I understood when I only sensed confusion and worry from the expression on your face as you tried holding the child in a way I’d never seen before. It seems that you really didn’t know how to take care of a child.
“…You’re useless. Come on, hand him over.”
I sighed as I took the child from your arms. I hadn’t taken care of a child before either, but I was confident that I could do better than you.
“Are you trying to act like a girl who’s lived a sheltered life? Haven’t you seen a woman holding a baby before?”
“No, I have seen it done before…! Come to think of it, that is how you’re supposed to hold a child. Now I remember.”
Your voice sounded a little nervous. It seemed that you were unable to think calmly as you were nervous and panicking.
“Look, he’s going to stop crying.”
Once I was holding the baby correctly and rocking him back and forth, his cries finally faded away.
Hmph. I might have a talent for taking care of children…
In contrast to that, she had been no use at all.
I didn’t think she wouldn’t be able to stop a child from crying.
Not being able to carry out Kondo-san’s request properly is a punishable offence. I’ll summon her to my room later on.
“Hmm? What is it?”
Your surprised voice interrupted me while I was thinking how to discipline you.
When I responded in annoyance, I was surprised to feel something groping at my chest.
I looked and saw the child had stuck its hand into my clothes, and while we were watching, it suddenly began to suck my nipple.
I wondered if anything as confusing as this had happened to me in the past. You were stunned for a moment, and then you stared at me in what seemed to be shock or panic.
You were laughing.
You had one hand covering your mouth as you trembled, your face bright red. No matter how much you tried to hold back your laughter, the laugh you let out and the expression you couldn’t hide told me everything. It seems that you were just asking to be killed.
“It’s not like that…”
When we looked at one another, you desperately tried to deny it. But you were laughing as you spoke and couldn’t stop trembling. Your last resort was to cover your mouth with both hands, but as soon as you did, the sound of the baby sucking my nipple could be heard.
Slurp. Slurp. Slurp. Slurp.
“Maybe he’s hungry.”
I calmly gave my opinion as I watched the baby continue to suck in a determined manner, despite nothing coming out. Then you brought out the container beside you as if you had just remembered it.
“Right! I was told to feed him this if he was crying!”
The container held a dense liquid, which you dipped a cloth into and held towards the child’s mouth. Then the child finally let go of my nipple and did all he could to swallow the dense liquid.
“Haha…he’s so cute.”
“Did he look cute desperately latching onto my nipple too?”
You laughed loudly as I asked. You truly wanted to get killed.
“…Make sure you’re ready tonight…”
You immediately turned pale as I spoke in a low whisper.
…It seems that I’ll be able to enjoy myself tonight because of this.
I laughed slightly as I left the child to you and began thinking about how I would punish you tonight once more.
The First Apology ~ Yamazaki Susumu
The evening sun which had been shining a few moments ago had set without my realising it. My surroundings were buried in darkness. I shivered at the air which was gradually becoming colder.
“I’ll make sure it won’t happen again… No, that’s not right…”
“I’ll buy you plenty of things a woman would like, so please! How about that…?”
Left alone in the city of Kyoto, I placed my hand on my heart and stood still whilst staring at my feet.
…I suppose kneeling down on the ground would be easiest to understand?
The sense of urgency I felt at not being able to return to the headquarters, despite it getting dark, made me feel tense.
“…Why did things turn out this way…?”
The wind whistled, making a sound as if it were mocking me. I stared blankly at the moon as I sighed. It felt strangely empty that there was a full moon at a time like this.
I’m just like a child…
I have no idea how to apologise or get her to forgive me…
I looked down at my feet again. They were as stiff as ice, with no sign that they would return to the headquarters.
“…Hey, are you afraid?”
I felt so desperate that I had ended up talking to my feet. This is no good. I was acting the same way as the men who had been summoned by Hijikata-san for causing trouble. I can’t believe that I’m so afraid of this situation that I’m prepared to give up my emotions…
“No, I mustn’t hang around here like this. I’ve got to work up the courage to move forward…”
When I pushed my feet to stand up as I said this, a pair of legs with a short stride entered my sight.
“My goodness. You’re still here, Yamazaki-san?”
When I looked up, the woman who was maddeningly dear to me, yet who also caused me to worry, was standing there.
“You’ll get cold. Let’s go back to the headquarters quickly.”
With trembling hands, I hesitantly took hold of the hand that reached out to me.
“I… I’ll buy anything for you. I don’t even mind buying expensive clothes if that’s what you want.”
“Ah…right… If that won’t make you less angry, then how about I do as you say for a whole day?”
Her angered voice made my quickly spoken words seem clumsy.
“I don’t want anything like that.”
“You don’t understand…?”
Upon seeing her disgruntled expression, I stopped thinking. A strong wind rushed past, ruffling my hair.
I wish I could disappear…
I couldn’t let any of the other men see me like this. But I shouldn’t say that right now.
“I’ll do some of your work for you.”
“I manage it myself.”
“I’ll share my dinner with you every evening…”
“I always have enough to eat.”
“…Then I’ll accompany you every day, wherever you go.”
“You do that without me having to ask.”
Now I’ll have to use my last resort…
“…I’ll kneel down on the ground.”
“I don’t want you to do that.”
So this is what it’s like to have no other options. This is terrible enough to be compared to a battle. I stopped thinking once more.
I’ve got nothing left. If she won’t forgive me, then all I can do is kill myself. I want to start my life over…
I was scared of myself for considering biting my tongue at this point. Then you placed my other hand on top of my tight, clenched fist.
When I looked at your face in a confused manner, you were gazing at me with a gentle smile, despite pouting a little. Then you spoke to me in a gentle voice.
“…Have you forgotten what you say when you apologise?”
What you say when you apologise…?
Ah… I see…
I let out a long sigh. I had been so desperate to think of the right words to make sure you didn’t end up hating me that I hadn’t even considered those words. For the first time, I realised how frightening and difficult it is to bear the idea of appearing so foolish and shameful in front of the person I love.
The words that even a child would know made my voice tremble. When I bowed my head and stared at the ground, those dear legs took a step closer to me.
“…I forgive you.”
All the relief and happiness I felt made me pull you close and hold you tightly. I didn’t care whether anyone saw me at that moment. I didn’t want to let go of you for now.
“Your body feels very cold, Yamazaki-san. Shall we go home?”
As I trudged back to the headquarters, with you pulling me by the hand, I looked like a child who had been scolded by his mother. I didn’t care about looking foolish. I was reminded that I wanted to be loved this way, touched by your kindness.
Once we returned to the headquarters, a scolding from Hijikata-san awaited me. It was only natural as I had been away from the headquarters for a long time without any explanation. Banging his hand on his desk, he demanded in a loud voice to know where I had been up until now.
Ah, I have one more mother here…
As I thought that, I made up an excuse, keeping the nonchalant expression I was so good at making.