|Until The Dark
Author: Larissa Hyuga PM
Simply romance and misunderstandings. A complicated love story wannabe.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Angst - Aoshi & Megumi - Chapters: 46 - Words: 177,557 - Reviews: 151 - Favs: 17 - Follows: 14 - Updated: 02-14-13 - Published: 04-21-04 - Status: Complete - id: 1829756
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Chapter XLIV – In Motion
Until The Dark
By Larissa Hyuga
Disclaimer: Standard Disclaimer applies.
When she opened her eyes, she saw him by the faint light of the lanterns. The day had died early for autumn was advancing in haste.
She stretched her body under the covers and realized he had noticed she had woken up. The woman smiled greeting him and, for her amusement, he smiled back. Timidly, but he smiled back from the chair he had been sitting.
"I wonder if I am worthy of your smiles." She spoke in a husky voice.
He looked down and never answered. She could not entirely see his features from the bed.
"And Sei-chan?" she asked
"Sleeping." He answered, moving his jaw forward, indicating something to her.
Megumi then turned in bed, looking at the other side, near the door. And she saw a basket with white fabric and her baby sleeping quietly inside. She turned to Aoshi again, looking pretty confused.
"Okina's gift. He calls it bassinet and he claims it is French."
Her eyes widened.
"Wow… I wonder where Okina gets all of these things."
"Is he still here?" she asked.
The man shook his head. "No, he left some minutes ago. I suppose he must be sending news to Kyoto. Anyway, he promised to be back since you and the baby were sleeping."
Megumi blushed. She had slept a lot. The last thing she remembered was naming her baby, holding him close to her and watching Aoshi leave. And then she was knocked out by heavy sleep.
Noticing she intended to stand up, Aoshi quickly made his way to her.
"You know you need to rest." He stated.
"I am aware of that… but… I think I also need a bath." She smiled. "And he needs to be breastfed."
"I can bring him here to you." Aoshi offered. "And then I can help you out with water and on."
"Thanks." She mumbled.
Aoshi walked to the other side of the room and bowed to retrieve the baby from his new bassinet. Megumi watched the scene carefully and pointed the delicacy in which Aoshi touched and held the infant, cradling his head.
"You do know how to hold a baby." She stated.
He looked at her. "Do you think so? I had never touched such a small child in my life. When I met Misao, she was over eight months already, it did not seem she would break if I touched her."
She chuckled and then offered her arms for Aoshi to hand her the little one. She brought him near her skin, holding him with an arm while the other one worked in opening the neck of her kimono.
"I will heat up the water." He said and walked out of the room and she thought she had maybe seen him blush slightly.
Even sleeping, when her nipple was near his mouth, Sei-chan seemed to know what was going on. And she felt his clenched fist in contact with her skin and she got delighted to feel such soft, thin and warm skin touching her. Her heart pumped when, while breastfeeding, Seishiro opened his eyes and seemed to look at her face. By candlelight, his eyes looked darker, a leaden blue. After he was satisfied, he just let go of her breast and moved his arms slightly. She smiled.
It amazed her to see that he would actually hold her finger if she touched his little hands. Megumi brought him near again, his head near her shoulder, so that he could burp.
When Aoshi entered the room, he realized she was giggling low. However, he did not ask and just informed everything was ready for her bath. To help her, Aoshi, put the baby back in the bassinet and offered to carry Megumi until the bathroom.
"If you give me your shoulder to support, it is already fine. I guess some walk to the bathroom won't do me any bad." She responded.
And he did as she told him.
Aoshi quickly returned near the baby and watched him for long moments. He was awaken and seemed to be aware of him around. He caressed him and talked to him. If anyone could watch that scene, though, they would think Aoshi had gone lunatic. But he was only happy. It fulfilled him with excitement to look at that little boy that looked so much like him and held his fingers when he touched him. Also, he seemed to react to his voice, even when he was talking so low only for the infant to listen. Seishiro would move his legs and mouth every time Aoshi's voice sounded tenderer.
He was so distracted with the baby he had not realized Megumi was actually standing near the door. She had just bathed and he only got aware of her presence when the baby voiced and moaned. And then he felt the smell of her perfumed body.
"It seems it will take him a long time to sleep." She remarked.
"And have you eaten?" he asked.
"Yes. Do not worry, I am fine." She walked further and sat on the bed, letting go a breath.
"Pain?" his eyes turned to her.
"A bit…. Uh… breastfeeding, you know? Feels heavy."
"Aa." He turned to the baby again.
"You can hold him if you want." She encouraged him, wondering he might have been hesitant to hold the infant. "Just don't move too much for he has just been fed."
Aoshi nodded and cradled the baby into his arms, walking slowly around the bedroom. It amazed Megumi to see the two in such special contact.
As days passed by, life seemed to get more and more colorful.
They had visits every day, life was busy.
Seishiro was a very good and calm child. He barely cried, only when he was hungry and when held closer and after latching, he would stop crying immediately.
Everybody was surprised to see how dedicate Aoshi was as a father. He wanted to participate in everything and once visiting, Yahiko joked he would breastfeed if he had a way to. Of course Aoshi hadn't heard that.
Okina had already returned to Kyoto but he paid as many visits as he could. The old man drooled over the baby and he could not stop repeating how happy he was and how cute his grandson was. Seishiro seemed to react pretty well to his grandpa's voice and would pay lots of attention every time Okina giggled and talked to him.
The baby was growing quickly and gaining weight. He was also aware of things around him and he seemed to recognize his parents' voice. He also slept a lot and would sleep through the night almost every day.
Aoshi had decided to stay and help Megumi with the baby during this period. She had thanked heaven for his decision. Although Seishiro was a very calm baby, she surely needed help and Aoshi was doing great as a father.
He was now one month and a half old, growing and getting more beautiful day by day. The baby was lying on his back on the double bed. Aoshi sat near him, watching him after Megumi had sponge bathed him. All dressed in white, he looked amazing. His eyes were getting brighter and he now paid lots of attention anytime Megumi or Aoshi would talk to him.
The infant moved his arms and legs happily when Aoshi touched his feet. Megumi entered the room and sat beside Aoshi, also looking at the baby.
"Hi, cutie." She said and the baby instantly moved his head to her and opened his mouth. She giggled. When she did so, they saw the baby smiled.
Megumi almost jumped from the bed.
"Oh, my! Did you just see that?"
"Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaw, cute little thing!" she laid a kiss on the baby forehead, earning hand movements from him.
She looked at the man and smiled to see he seemed hypnotized.
She heard a knock on the door and lifted her eyebrows, finding quite amazing Aoshi had not warned her he had sensed someone at the door.
"I will answer." Megumi said and left the bedroom.
She opened the door and a chilly wind passed by her and she saw a pair of jade eyes in front of her. The young woman bit her lip and seemed to hesitate.
"H-hi" she finally voiced, sounding extremely timid
Megumi smiled, trying to encourage the other one.
"You are welcome"
And the hesitation in Misao's face disappeared. She smiled back, a giant bright smile. She stepped into the house and shivered.
"It is freezing out there."
With the warmest smile in her lips, Megumi helped her with her heavy coat.
"Has Jiya handed you my letter?" Misao asked, looking down.
And the young one smiled again. "I do mean everything there. We are now onee-san and onee-chan."
"Sure." Megumi answered.
And Misao's head turned to the corridor, Megumi did the same. Aoshi showed up, frowning.
Misao felt her heart in her mouth, her stomach sunk and she guessed everyone had noticed it.
But then everything seemed to have stopped. Aoshi appeared carrying little Seishiro in his arms.
" OH. My. Dear. Holly. GOD!" and the young woman ran towards Aoshi direction's standing on the tip of her toes to have a better glance of the child.
"He is the most wonderful baby I have even seen in my entire life!" Her eyes shone amazingly.
Her enthusiasm made Megumi laugh.
Misao eyed Megumi and grinned. " I am sorry, onee-san, but he looks a whole lot like Aoshi-sama. Look at those eyes."
Megumi threw her head behind, making her hair float in the air, a smile on her lips. " I am well aware of that."
" Are you in Tokyo all by yourself, Misao?" Aoshi asked sounding a bit worried.
"No." she shook her head childishly. " Jiya is also in town. But I was sooooooooooooooo anxious to meet this cute little thing I came before him. You know, he takes years bathing."
She approached Aoshi with a begging look in her eyes. " Pleeeeeeeeeeease, let me hold him."
Aoshi thought for some seconds and Misao thought she would die in anxiety.
" Just do not move brusquely." He pondered.
She nodded a thousand times and then received the little one into her arms. Her eyes grew wide when she touched him and she could do nothing but smile.
"Oh my, oh my" she repeated time after time.
When Okina arrived, the house seemed full, it felt like they'd been holding a party.
"It is so good to be here again!" the old man walked in.
Everyone was together at the living room. It amazed Megumi to see the scene, they were so close, such a beautiful family portrait. Her heart was both happy and heavy. Misao just would not let go of Seishiro, Okina talked the most he could and Aoshi, sometimes, participated in the conversation. She kept herself busy serving tea and sweets and also talking.
"Megumi, when Sei-chan is old enough to travel, you should bring him to Kyoto! Everyone there is dying to see him!" Okina started.
Megumi giggled. " Deal! In spring, perhaps. Now with winter coming, it is impossible."
"Everyone is also longing to see you again, Aoshi-sama." Misao added.
Aoshi's eyes shifted to the girl. "Aa…" He actually did not know what to answer. He was not sure, but he thought he had seen Megumi's eyes drop with that question.
" And you too, my beautiful lady." Okina completed. Megumi replied with a shy smile.
The doctor had spent long minutes trying to convince Okina to stay at her house with Misao. Misao played an important role in the negotiations and the old man finally gave in.
Seishiro threatened to start crying and Megumi understood he wanted to sleep. Misao decided it was time to let the little one rest and the mother made her way to the bedroom.
In the bedroom, while cradling the baby to sleep, Megumi heard Misao ask Aoshi when he planned to go back home. She tried to hear his answer, but it was impossible.
Since they were having guests for the night, Misao would sleep at Seishiro's bedroom since the baby was with Megumi. Okina would stay at the meditation room. Megumi realized that Aoshi looked a bit out of place.
"Are you going to stay with Okina?" she asked when he passed in front of her bedroom. He stopped and looked at her through the open door.
"I had the living room in mind. Okina snores quite a lot."
"You can stay here if you want." She said.
He seemed to be willing to say something but she soon added.
"There is a futon in the closet, remember?" she smiled.
He nodded and made his entrance.
Megumi made herself comfortable into the blankets.
Aoshi walked to the closet and opened it. Inside, there was really a futon, a big one. He took it from there and placed it beside the bed, near the door, taking the chance to close it completely.
"Good night." Megumi said.
"Good night." He echoed.
The lantern was beside him and, when he was ready, he put it off.
He tossed and turned for some moments. That futon… the very one in which he had slept so many times, in which his child was conceived.
Misao's inquiry about him going back home was spinning inside his head. He had thought about the subject but the moments he was living with his child were very precious… and there was her. He could not tell how soon she wanted him to go away.
Megumi actually found that having Okina around was really interesting. The old man gave her loads of attention, talked to her more than to anyone else in that house.
That afternoon he had even ran some errands for her. He sometimes managed to get Aoshi out of the house but Misao was always inside, always around little Sei.
She knew they would not take long to go back home. Okina could not be so absent from the restaurant and business. She imagined Aoshi had been away enough and it was probably time for him to follow his path to Kyoto.
She had just changed the boy's clothes and looked at him on the bed.
Aoshi approached slowly. He realized her thoughts were distant. She kept her eyes and her smile for the little blue-eyed boy but he sensed her thoughts were not for the infant.
"What worries you?" he half-whispered.
"Damn it, Aoshi! My heart nearly stopped." She hissed, frowning severely.
He sat by her side, facing her.
"I did not mean to startle you."
Her expression softened. " I know, I am sorry." She turned to the baby. " I was just here thinking of how much he has grown…"
"It impresses me that day after day, he looks more and more like you… I am starting to think I just lent him my belly…" she suddenly stopped, blushing heavily. Her fingers covered her mouth and her eyes rounded.
"Sorry" she said between her fingers… " I did not mean to repeat that to you, I do not mean that anymore."
His eyes dropped for a second and then, he looked at her again. " You know it is not true." His hand raised and met hers, making her uncover her mouth. His fingers went past hers and brushed her lips. " The lips… they are nothing like mine."
Her lips parted at his touch. She was not certain of the reason, she wanted to say something, protest, whatever, but words would not come out.
"AOSHI-SAMAAAAAA" Misao came running through the corridor and stopped brusquely at the bedroom door.
His hands fell immediately and she moved far from him on the bed.
"Sorry…" she said blushing heavily, running the way back outside.
"You'd better check what she wants." Megumi said, turning her back to him, her hands back to her recently touched mouth.
Aoshi's fist was now clenched. As he made his way through the corridor, he felt the sensation of touching her moist lips vanishing too quickly.
Outside, facing the snow, Okina heard Misao's footsteps. She arrived near him blushing, her expression turning her in.
"What happened, girl?" he inquired.
"Oh, Jiya… I guess I just interrupted something…" she looked away, heavy-heartedly.
They said they would leave the other day.
Megumi woke up early and saw Seishiro was also an early bird. Before leaving bed, she looked at the other side and saw Aoshi sleeping on the futon. He breathed in so slowly that she barely could notice it.
After breastfeeding, she carried the baby into the bassinet to the kitchen with her so that Aoshi could sleep a bit more. She loved to see he was sleeping quiet, deep and not restlessly anymore.
Seishiro found the tulle of the bassinet very interesting and looked at it for long whiles, his little hands moving frenetically.
She smiled and had her time preparing breakfast. When she was fixing the table, Okina's voice echoed from inside.
"Besides being beautiful, she still prepares the most delicious breakfasts!"
"Come on!" she said.
After greeting the little boy, the old man turned to her.
"Where is Aoshi?"
"Sleeping." She stated.
The old man's eyes rounded.
"Check with your own eyes if you do not believe me." she teased me.
He grinned. "I just cannot believe it! Well, he is getting old!" he stroke his beard. "Uh… I think I'd better see him."
He opened the bedroom door and did not see Aoshi on the bed. He frowned in confusion.
"Breaking into other people's room, old man?" Aoshi asked from the other side of the room.
"Ah, Aoshi!" the old man nearly jumped. "First, I am not breaking into anything, Megumi authorized me come inside."
Aoshi folded the futon and walked away in order to keep it. Okina followed him with his eyes.
"No… do not tell me you were sleeping in the futon… and the bed? Isn't it more comfortable for the lady to use the bed???"
"She is using the bed." He shot the old man a look.
Okina looked mortified. However, he did not want to get any other odd look from Aoshi and changed his expression fast enough by the time he retrieved an envelope from into his sleeve and stretched it out to Aoshi.
The younger man frowned.
"It was delivered yesterday but I forgot to hand it to you. When I remembered, you and Megumi had retired for the night."
Aoshi received it and then opened. His eyes read fast through the lines and he let go a breath.
"Problems?" Okina asked.
"It seems so. I have to leave tomorrow."
"South. I will go with you up to Kyoto." The young man's eyes dropped.
Okina's expression softened.
"Well, come and have breakfast. Megumi prepared us delicious food."
"No, I have to leave to check some things immediately. I will just wash myself."
Okina observed the other man pass by him, entering the bathroom. He walked back to the table where Megumi was just waiting for him.
"Did you see it?"
"Nah… he had already woken up." He smiled.
The old man sat with the woman to have breakfast together. They soon heard steps coming from the corridor. Aoshi passed by them and she followed him with her eyes.
"Won't you have breakfast with us?" she asked.
"No. I have to leave." He said while adjusting the collar of his coat.
She eyed him, expecting any other word. But he said nothing. He did not even look in the baby's direction, opened the door and left. Plain and simple.
Megumi was rather shocked.
"What was that?" he asked the old man, totally puzzled.
He shrugged. He thought he was not the right person to give her the news.
Aoshi did not return for lunch. Okina and Misao had already packed, sparing the necessary things they would use the next morning.
He also did not return to dinner. Megumi wondered if she should serve it later but she thought of her guests and they needed to sleep earlier that day.
The two guests had already excused themselves and gone to sleep. Megumi suspected Okina knew something but she did have courage to ask him.
She was the only one up, at the end of the corridor, facing the door. She had the little boy in her arms and cradled him to make him sleep.
Suddenly, she heard the door being open. He entered, snowflakes in his hair, a tired expression. He closed the door behind his back and looked at her.
"Aoshi." She rushed towards him. Her eyes looked him up and down. " It is freezing outside, go take a bath while I prepare something for you to eat." She sounded worried.
"It is not necessary, thank you. I have already eaten." He said while removing his coat.
He passed by her and disappeared into one of the doors. She felt frustrated. Not only he disappeared the whole day and he also arrived and did not say a word to her despite of her worried offering.
The following second, the shook her head " Silly." She mentally scolded herself. Seishiro was sleeping quietly in her arms. She placed him into the bassinet and combed her hair before going to bed.
When she had just tied her sleeping yukata, Aoshi opened the door. She looked behind to see his figure illuminated by the dim light of the lantern.
"I am leaving tomorrow." He stated.
Her eyes dropped for a second. "I see."
"There have been issues for the government only I can handle." He approached her.
She nodded, her back turned to him. Closer, he stretched his hand to touch her shoulder but she turned back, facing the bed and making her way under the blankets.
He decided to pick the futon and unroll it on t he floor. Before lying down, he looked at her face, her eyes wide shut. He put the lantern off.
It was still dark when she heard the little boy's brief cry. Instinctively, she jumped from the bed.
A light followed her and his whisper reached her ears.
"Nothing." She answered. " I guess he is just hungry."
The woman made her way to the child and held him in her arms. Aoshi had lit a lantern in order to help her.
She was right, the boy was only hungry.
Aoshi sat on the futon and watched Megumi feed his son. When the baby was done, she mumbled a song and walked around so that he could sleep.
The little one fell asleep quickly. She smiled at the boy before putting him back on the mattress and heading back to bed.
She lied down but he did not put the light off this time. On her stomach, she moved on the bed so that she could be close to the edge, nearer to where he had placed the futon. She eyed him for some seconds before closing her eyes.
He eyed her back and sighed when she closed her eyes. He finally put the lantern off. However, he allowed himself to smell the end of her hair that kept on falling over the edge.
It was a busy cold morning. Everyone was coming and going, she only watched and helped in what she could.
She suspected time had come when Aoshi came inside the bedroom and shut the door behind him. Megumi turned to him and he stopped a few steps from her.
Again he sighed and then swallowed.
" I don't know how long I'll be gone." He stated.
"I see…" she said facing the floor.
"I will write as frequently as I am able to. The letters, however, will be sent to Kyoto. I do not want you and Seishiro directly involved in these affairs. I beg you to answer them sometimes so I can know how you two are doing, if that is not asking too much. Okina will explain further how communication will be on his later letters."
She smiled although troubled by his words. That job should be something really serious and secret.
. " You do not need to worry, I will surely reply. I am not that cruel to let a man without news on his son."
A long moment of silence lingered between them. His eyes did not look for her or hers from that time on. She thought their conversation was over and he just did not know hot to say the last goodbye.
"Forgive me…" he whispered.
That sentence made her raise her eyes. "There is nothing to be forgiven, you know it."
He half smiled. "Anyway, I wish I could have seen it all earlier… it took me so long to realize, to see what mattered the most to me. If I hadn't been so foolish, I could have been a bit more of what you once expected me to be. And now, once again, I am leaving everything, leaving you alone."
She gave one step ahead and spoke with a soft voice.
"Do not blame yourself. Things happen when they are due. Maybe that time we were not ready for one another."
"I wish I could stay around and watch Seishiro grow… I will miss this part. I fear it is now too late."
Stepping closer, she placed a hand on his face. That made him raise his head and look at her.
"Don't say it like you're never going to come back, like you're never going to look at him again. He'll surely wait for you."
He blinked and nodded. Her hand slipped from his face but he caught it, preventing it from falling back into place.
"And you? Will you wait for me?"
Her expression softened. She thought she had been fooled by her ears, but as he still held her hand and looked like waiting for a reply, she believed it was true.
He feared he had said something he should not. He was leaving, he did not even know if he was going to come back. He let go off her hand. "I am sorry for this". Full of shame, he headed outside.
She did not know what had happened to her. She wanted to speak, but no voice came out. She sunk when he left, but after breathing in, she had strength to follow his path. Okina and Misao came to her in order to say goodbye and she hugged both of them. Saeko had come to help and Aoshi now handed her the little boy. Megumi watched him kiss the boy's forehead before leaving.
Snow was falling outside. He walked out the door and she ran after him, screaming his name before he entered the carriage.
He stopped and turned around.
"Yes." she said with teary eyes. " Always."
He closed his eyes and smiled. She smiled back and watched him go.
It was a cold, dark and snowy morning when he left her. It was a cold, dark and snowy morning when her heart was alight again.
Close to the end…