Things were quiet between them for the next two weeks. It saddened Riiko to see him so silent, after so many days of teaching him to speak. But they were both too stubborn to reconcile their fight. Riiko was still angry with him for allowing himself to be used in such a way. True, he felt sympathy for the neko, but they both knew that Kyou could have fended him off if needed. Or at least hidden out of sight. He was a resourceful creature. As for Kyou, there were times where he refused to even look at Riiko. His words still rang through his mind almost every night. He despised the man for saying such a harsh statement. And yet... Kyou couldn't make himself leave. Because deep down, he knew it was true. He knew that Bonkotsu didn't desire him anymore. Perhaps it was his own, naïve thinking that made him wish for Bonkotsu to return. But as the days passed, he began to realize the truth more and more.
To pass the time, Riiko would often go off on his own to practice with his sword or train. Sometimes, he would sit on a rock and meditate for a little while. Kyou often watched him from a distance. He took no interest in Riiko's daytime activities before. But now, for some reason, he felt compelled to perch himself on a tree branch and watch this human swing a practice sword about. Perhaps it was the sword itself that interested him. A shaft of hallow bamboo, attached to a leather bound hilt. It whistled as Riiko made it dance, he acting as a partner to the thing. Whenever the Thieves practiced fighting, they always used their real weapons. And each other. There were a great many wounds that were given because of this way of practicing. But Riiko was not like the others. If it wasn't clear by then, it was certainly apparent by the way he practiced his swordplay.
One afternoon, he was doing just that. Just like always, Kyou sat at the base of a tree branch, his tail curled around his ankles. They hadn't spoken to one another for quite some time. At night, Kyou would dream that Bonkotsu would be back to take him away. He always awoke whimpering. He could not say why, but the thought of leaving the white haired man scared him. Perhaps that is why he did not leave yet? He had fully healed by that time. Two months and two weeks was more then enough time to relax and replenish. Besides, if he had really wanted to go, he would have done so by then.
Riiko slid the bamboo sword back and forth before finally pausing for a rest. He set the thing to the side, taking a pouch of water and squirting some in his mouth. His eyes turned up to where the neko sat. He looked at Kyou for a moment before turning away.
"So are you just going to sit and watch me forever?" he asked simply. He splashed a bit of water onto his face and neck, shaking out his snowy hair. Kyou let his ears flatten as he watched. After a moment or two of debating, Kyou slid from his perch. His nails dug deeply into the trunk as he made his way to the forest floor. Spotting him, Riiko stayed where he was, his water pouch still in hand. Kyou gave him a look before side stepping and scurrying over to the fake sword. Intrigued, he sniffed the handle. It smelled of sweat and old leather. Just what he figured something like that would smell like. He scratched the surface of the blade with his nail. A bit of bamboo shavings went to the floor.
"You want to hold it?" Kyou looked up as Riiko approached him. With his large hand, he took the hilt and held it parallel to the floor. Kyou sniffed along the edge, detecting a few other smells here and there. After glancing at the human, he held his hands out. But Riiko did not put it in his grasp. Frowning, Kyou made a move for it, but Riiko pulled back, holding it above his reach. The neko flattened his ears, not appreciating the game. "You have to tell me." This caught Kyou by surprise, as he let his ears raise a bit. "Tell me that you want to hold it."
Kyou stared at the thing in his hands before looking at Riiko. "Yes."
"No." Riiko swung it in a circle, letting it whirl in the air, tempting the neko. "You have to say it. Ask me if you can hold it. One whole sentence. Go on."
He huffed. Kyou stared at the item, his curiosity now overpowering his pride. So, taking a breath, Kyou said: "Can I... hold sword?"
A smile broke Riiko's lips. He turned it and laid it in Kyou's palms. The neko took it out of Riiko's reach before he could swipe it away again. As expected, it was light in his grasp. The worn handle felt smoother then a newly wrapped hilt of leather would. He swung it in a way that mimicked Riiko's actions, but not quite as graceful. If anything, it was a sloppy, choppy version of Riiko's practice. The human watched in amusement before turning to his real sword, which laid not very far away. Latching the hilt to the sheath with a bit of leather, he turned to Kyou. "Would you like to know how to use it?"
Kyou looked up and nodded. Riiko made no move. After a pause, he pouted. "Yes... I want to know..."
"Good." Riiko let the sword roll along his and, taking a step or two back. "But first.." He tied his katana to his waist before walking up behind Kyou. As he leaned forward, the neko jumped and nearly smacked Riiko on the head. But he refrained, too curious as to what the human may do. Riiko moved his hands on the neko's shoulders, pushing one of his feet in between Kyou's own. He began to position him, telling him how to stand, and how to stay in that stance. He tested his legs by lightly tapping and pushing them, to make sure that they were sturdy. After which, his arms wrapped around Kyou from behind, holding Kyou's hands as he held the sword.
Maybe it was the warmth of his worked body. Maybe it was the sweet smell of sweat. Or maybe it was how gently he held his hands. But whatever it was, something about what Riiko was doing made Kyou's heart thump wildly. Something about this made him very happy. He could feel Riiko's breath crawling along the back of his neck, the beating of his heart sounding like a steady, distant drum. However, this sudden burst of happiness... it scared the neko. Quickly, he shoved Riiko off, giving him a glare that nearly looked like a pout. The man backed away, pulling out his covered sword. "All right. Let's see how steady your arms are."
Without warning, he knocked his own sword into the bamboo thing that sat in Kyou's hands. It fell out of his grasp easily, jerking Kyou's arms to the side. For a moment, Kyou was startled, but then growled in annoyance. "Pick it up," said Riiko. The neko frowned at him before picking it up again. Once more, Riiko swiped it from his grasp. The neko let out an angry mewl, his ears flattening against his skull. This was starting to get irritating. "Go on." Glaring at the human, he picked it up a second time. When Riiko went for it, Kyou pulled himself back and swung wildly at Riiko's head. The human easily dodged the blow, twirling up behind Kyou and putting his katana in between Kyou's arms. With a twist, he separated the neko's hands from the hilt of his sword, letting it fall to the ground.
Growling, Kyou kicked the sword away and stormed off. Riiko smiled weakly at the neko boy before picking it up. "Kyou." The other paused and looked over his shoulder, the base of his tail puffing out in frustration. Riiko held out the bamboo stick. "If you just let me teach you, I can show you how to keep it in your hands."
Kyou considered this. Why should he even care if he knew how to use one of those things? They were strictly for humans anyway. There would be no need for a neko to learn. And yet... there was never a need to learn to speak, either. There was never a need to heal, never a need to be cared for and clothed and fed. Kyou stared at the practice sword, his tail swishing back and forth as he decided what to do. Finally, he moved up to Riiko, his face hot with embarrassment. Riiko settled it in Kyou's hands before tying his own to his waist. Once more, he went around back, his thick arms encasing Kyou in his grasp. The neko ignored his thumping heart as Riiko taught him how to hold the sword. He showed him where his feet should be, how tightly he should latch on, and how his arms should lock up. Kyou nodded at each lesson, trying hard to focus all concentration on the item in his paws. Finally, Riiko left him and stood in front of Kyou, who held the stance he had been shown. Riiko removed his sword and twirled it. Taking a mighty swing, he knocked his sheathed sword in the side of Kyou's bamboo sword.
It faulted a bit, sending vibrations up his arm. But it did not fall. At first, Kyou couldn't believe it. Then, he looked up to Riiko, breaking into a bright smile. It was the first one Riiko had ever seen him wear. That alone made pride well up in Riiko's breast.
"Very good," he complemented him, making sure the sheath was on properly. "Now... let me show you how to use it..."