Teaser: Late one night, Soujirou asks Aoshi what love is…
*Aoshi/Soujirou WAFFY one-shot*
Not related to Aoi Kaze in any way or form other than an AoSou one-shot fic. This is a cute little WAFFY piece with the pairing of Aoshi and Soujirou. Definitely Shounen Ai. Just a little something to get my muse up and going again.
All respective rights belong to Nobuhiro Watsuki-sama.
What have you done?
Red. Spilling from his blade. The metallic taste of blood in his mouth. Fallen figures lay at strange angles, many with eyes wide, never again to see light. The blood flowed across the ground in small rivers.
What have you done, Soujirou?
The rancid smell of fear in the air. Screams echoing from only moments ago. Strange. Normally, they should not have had a chance to scream.
What have you done?
A smile. A smile without humor, without happiness. A smile to hide the pain. A smile to hide the sadness so deep inside, the feeling was alien.
How can you possibly know love after everything you have done?
The smile frozen on his face. The blood on his hands. The tears in his eyes. The scream on his lips.
Who could ever love something like you?
Soujirou awoke with a start, eyes wide, body soaked with sweat, still shaking with thoughts of the dream. He took a deep breath. With deliberate slowness he tipped his head back, resting against the chest of the warm figure which gently held him.
He smiled. Of course Aoshi was still awake. "Aa." His hands unconsciously grasped at the long coat pulled to his chin, providing warmth for the two bodies underneath. Soujirou slowly turned his head so his ear pressed against the other's chest, listening to the calming heartbeat through the dark gi. As his own heartbeat slowed, the smile on his lips fell. "Just a dream."
Aoshi made a soft sound and slowly moved his arm, gradually running his hand through the young man's hair.
Soujirou noticed the dying red ash surrounded by gray stones merely a pace away. The fire in which they cooked the fish, the taste of the greasy meat still on his lips. The full moon which illuminated everything in an unreal light. The stillness of the trees which encircled them.
And the warm arms which held him.
He closed his eyes and thought back to a few weeks ago. He did not know why he had returned to Kyoto. Perhaps he was tired of wandering. Perhaps he was tired of being chased out of town after town. Perhaps…perhaps he just wanted to see a familiar face.
Hungry. Tired. Aching. Soujirou was half-asleep as he wandered the streets with only a thought of keeping his distance from both the Aoiya and the police.
How was he to know a similar lost soul could not sleep and had decided to take a walk in the unexpectedly warm spring night. There was no way to know until, both gazing at the sliver of moon, they ran into each other crossing a small bridge.
Soujirou's first thought was to run, hide, escape from this ice blue gaze. However, he found himself accepting a softly spoken offer of lodging for the night.
Even looking back now, Soujirou did not know why he followed the tall ninja through the dark streets of Kyoto to a place he knew he would be unwelcome and even loathed.
The last thing he expected was a place of laughter, a place of warmth, even for him. The young ninja girl immediately recognized him. Yet, with frequent stern looks from the blue-eyed ninja, she eventually started to regard their visitor with something akin to consideration. The old man knew him on sight, yet never said a word, only teasing Aoshi every chance he got, all in which the tall man promptly ignored. The others remained blissfully ignorant, welcoming a 'friend of Aoshi's' into their home.
How would they have reacted if they knew Tenken no Soujirou was beneath their roof. A young man who had killed more people than all seven of them combined. The young man who did nothing to stop the destruction of the Aoiya less than a year ago. If he had been there in place of the three weaker Juppongatana, no one would have survived. No one.
To pay for his lodging, Soujirou found himself performing any task asked of him, frequently with a smile on his lips. Scrubbing floors, cooking meals, even the constant flow of laundry was completed with genuine gratitude.
Aoshi had not been to the Zen temple since Soujirou had arrived. Soujirou heard the lowered voices as he hung the freshly laundered clothing. Aoshi, they said, actually seemed happy.
Happy? Why would Aoshi be happy? Why did Soujirou always seem to keep catching Aoshi staring at him? He didn't understand. It just didn't make sense. Yet, Soujirou felt content in the presence of these ninja.
It was the closest to a true family Soujirou had ever known.
However, such happiness was not meant to last.
Two weeks had passed since Soujirou first arrived, when, late one night, he was rudely awakened by Aoshi, dressed all in black with a long sheath underneath his arm. Soujirou had been recognized by a patron, Aoshi quickly explained, and the police were already on their way. Aoshi said he would lead him to safety.
The old man and the young girl were awaiting them in the hallway. Without a word, they exchanged their goodbyes and wishes of good luck.
To Soujirou's great surprise, the girl silently reached out and quickly embraced him, tears in her green eyes. She then turned to Aoshi and smiled. His face softened in the dull light and he nodded.
No Tenken here, Soujirou remembered hearing the old man say to a loud inquiring voice, just a very nice mochi. But please come in and see for yourself. Looking down on the dark blue figures, Soujirou wondered why none of the twenty officers sent to capture him glanced to the roof. Then, without a sound, Soujirou followed Aoshi into the moonless night.
As soon as they traveled beyond a few buildings, Aoshi ducked into an alley, and pulled his long coat from his pack. The best way not to be seen is to be right out in the open, Aoshi explained. Everyone would recognize a tall man in a trench-coat, but no one would heed the figure at his side.
They left Kyoto in bright daylight, in the view of many. Yet, none would remember the passing of a small figure with blue eyes, fighting the nervous smile on his lips.
Soujirou half expected Aoshi to turn back after they had left the city gates far behind. However, Aoshi made no move to leave, and Soujirou did not press the issue. It felt sort of nice to walk along side someone after being alone for so long.
The warm sunny spring days suddenly turned to freezing nights. In the middle of a deep forest, it was much too late to realize how unprepared they truly were. Shivering, sitting across from a small fire, occasionally looking into each other's face, Aoshi finally spoke the words Soujirou was only thinking…
It would be warmer if we stay close together.
Even days later, after purchasing blankets from a small village, Soujirou unconsciously continued to crawl next to the tall ninja, underneath his coat, clinging to the warmth. When he finally realized what he had done, he found Aoshi's arms around him, holding him close. Surprised the older man did not scold him nor move away, Soujirou just smiled and rested his head against the other's chest.
Soujirou smiled at the warm memories of the past few weeks, only to be reminded once again of his bloody nightmare. He shivered only to feel the strong arms around him slightly tense. "Aoshi?"
"Can I ask you a question?"
Aoshi made a soft affirmative sound.
"What is love?"
A long moment of silence passed. "Love?"
Soujirou nodded, nuzzling his cold nose into the other's gi.
The tall ninja took a deep breath. "The way you love sweets?"
Soujirou laughed. "Iie. I understand that. Love. Real love. The way a…a person can…can..." He took a long, unsteady breath. "The way a person can…feel so strongly for someone else. I know I want it, but…but I'm not really sure what it is."
The silence stretched on for a very long time before Aoshi finally spoke. "Have you ever felt loved?"
"No." Soujirou then hesitated and his brows crinkled in thought. "Well, I don't think so. I haven't felt anything for a very long time."
Again, it took Aoshi a long time to respond. "What about your parents? Your family?"
The young man shook his head. "Okasan died before I could remember her. Otousan…was too busy to realize I existed." Aoshi's arms tightened as Soujirou shakily continued. "My brother…his family…hated me…wanted me dead. He tried to kill me but I…I killed him…them…when no one would save me."
"You…have not spoken about your past before."
The boy pulled slightly away and looked with wide eyes into the other's face. "Does it matter?"
"No." To emphasize his response, he pulled the young man back against his chest. "And…Shishio?"
"Shishio-san?" A saddened smile of longing grew. "Shishio-san needed me. He saw something in me no one else saw. For the first time in my life, I was wanted. He…discouraged me from feeling…anything. No. He did not love me." He then let out a soft laugh. "Shinomori-san, I think you're trying to avoid my question."
"Okay, then. Have you ever loved anyone?"
Soujirou waited a long moment before realizing the other man was not going to continue. "Shinomori-san?"
"Yes. I have loved. I have been loved."
Soujirou felt his heart beat painfully against his chest. "What is it like?"
He hesitated. "Love. To love someone is to be willing to…to give up everything for that person." He paused and ran his hand through the young man's hair. "To be willing to embrace your differences and still want to spend your life with them." He swallowed. "To believe in someone."
A small giggle mixed with a sigh escaped the young man's lips. "That doesn't help me, Shinomori-san. That's the way I feel about you."
Aoshi's voice became uncharacteristically soft. "Oh?"
"Maybe," Soujirou absently continued, "I should ask Himura-san. But…" His face twisted in distaste. "But, Himura-san would probably send me on another journey to find the answer." A soft sigh escaped his lips. "I don't want to wait another ten years to know what love is like."
"Aa?" Blue eyes and a bright smile appeared from the tangle of dark cloth.
"You should sleep. We can talk further, tomorrow."
"Ahh." He squirmed into a more comfortable position in the ninja's embrace. "Shinomori-san…Arigatou." His eyes closed and almost immediately fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.
Aoshi absently brushed a stray hair from the young man's cheek, watching Soujirou's breath slowly enter and escape his slightly parted lips. "I love you too, Soujirou." And, with those words, he closed his eyes and allowed sleep to take him, holding the young man as if to never let go.
Author's notes: *beats muse with a stick* Where have you been??!!
Again, I would like to thank Akai Kitsune, Master of all things Kenshin, for all her help, support, and humor (and, once again, the title!). Mochi…hee hee! I'll make you an AoSou fan yet! Mwa ha ha ha!
I would also like to thank Midori, Susan, Deena, and Kuroiyousei, pioneers of Aoshi/Sou relations.
And a big thank you to everyone who leaves a review, either good or bad. It's the only way I get better.
I would thank my good-for-nothing muse, but he's unconscious at the moment. =P