Warning: Angst.......angst.......more angst.......lots of it.......*hands out tissues* Enjoy!

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Chapter One: Remember Who You Are

He had failed.......again.......

Sound the bugle now Play it just for me

The carnage was overwhelming.......bodies littered the ground. The bodies of the men and women whom he had lived with since his youth. His family.......the only one's who cared about him enough to let him live with them.......

And, once again, he had failed them. As if betraying them so long ago hadn't been bad enough.......

As the seasons change Remember how I used to be

If anything, this new problem had his feelings torn and mangled. He stood shakily, his usual stoic mask clouded by uncertainty. He kneeled next to the first person he came to. An unusual strangled sound came from his throat, and he fell onto his elbows, face buried in the dirt. The face of the man before him was barely recognizable....... Shiro.......

Now I can't go on I can't even start

The younger man had no pulse, but just by looking at him, he could tell that he'd passed on. His body sported gashes, slashes, bullet holes, and blood....... The smell of blood invaded his senses, and he cringed inwardly. He knew he would have to do it. Slapping on his emotionless façade, he picked up one of his kodachi's and started digging.......

I've got nothing left Just an empty heart

'Together', he realized. The members of the Oniwabanshuu would want to be together.......

Leaving Shiro's grave open, he started another beside it. He could retrieve Hannya, Beshimi, Hyottoko, and Shikijou's remains later, but for now.......he had to bury his friends.......

I'm a soldier Wounded so I must give up the fight

Yes, they were his friends. Even if he never seemed to acknowledge it, they were all the best friends he'd ever had. He went to retrieve the next body....... Kuro.......what had he done to deserve this?

There's nothing more for me Lead me away.......

He couldn't even get revenge for their deaths....... the group who attacked gave no name, and no reason for the Oniwabanshuu's slaughter.

Okon and Omasu had been the first two to fall. Their bodies were sprawled over one another's, blood pooling over the dirt beneath them.

He laid them in separate graves, side by side, as the two best friends would have wanted it to be.

He dug the fifth grave slowly, not wanting to go through w it. Okina....... a dear old friend whom he'd loved like a father for years.......

And the same man he'd betrayed long ago over a stupid disagreement.......

Sound the bugle now Tell them I don't care

Okina had fallen next-to-last. He gave the fight his everything. He tried his best to save his home, his friends, his.......family.......

But he met the same fate as the others. He carefully set the elder man in the hole, arms crossed over his chest.

Then he retrieved his sword to carve out the sixth and final grave.......

There's not a road I know That leads to anywhere.......

He dug the last grave the deepest of all, for it would belong to the one he cared most about. The light that had helped to pull him from the dark recesses of his mind....... even though she herself probably didn't even know it.

Misao.......

Without a light I fear that I will Stumble in the dark

She was everything to him. His life, his beacon, and his hopes and dreams. And she'd left him before he could tell her.......

The sight of her broken body brought a foreign emotion to the surface. Was it.......desperation?

She had been the last to fall, and her battered body proved it. One leg was crushed and set at an odd angle, while the other was sliced from mid-thigh to ankle, and the blood settled around her in a thick pool on the ground.

A sword had left its mark across her stomach, the blood seeping through her blue and white uniform. One of her hands clutched at the blade of a dagger, as she had tried to stop it from plunging into her.

One of her shoulders was out of socket, and three kunai had lodged themselves into her upper body. Her own weapon of choice used against her.......

Several cuts marred her face, and blood covered a head-wound. He pulled out the kunai and pried the dagger from her hand before gathering her broken body in his arms.

Lay right down Decide not to go on

He kneeled beside the grave he had carved out of the earth for her. He started to lower her into the ground, but stopped. He didn't want to do this. He didn't want to shut away his ray of sunshine.......even if she had already burned out.......

He closed his eyes and breathed in deeply, his breath hitching in his throat as he realized.......

He would never see her again.......

Then from on High Somewhere in the distance

His eyes widened, and he felt a foreign substance cloud over them. His vision blurred, and he the words leave his mouth in a rush.

"I can't do it.......I just can't," he sighed deeply, pulling her to him closely. "How could this have happened?" he asked her still form. "How?"

He felt the need to touch her, and so he did....... He stroked his thumb lightly over her ocean-sprayed eyes that would never open again to reveal their light....... Over her slightly upturned nose that he had always thought suited her, and over her now-chilled lips that he had wanted so desperately to kiss so many times.......

He was already pining for her laughing eyes that would turn angry if anyone dared to call her a weasel....... Her genki grin that only faltered when she was sad or upset by something. He just couldn't bring himself to lower her into the dark ground.

She was too good for the dirt.......

"Aoshi-sama......."

He froze and glanced down at the young ninja in his arms. But her mouth had not moved. Confusion lit his eyes.

"Aoshi-sama.......it's just a body......."

The voice was Misao's, but.......where was she? He felt arms wrap around his chest from behind, but when he looked, there was nothing there.

"Misao......." he murmured slowly, shoulders hunched disconsolately. "I'm so sorry......."

"For what?" she asked, and the pressure around his chest tightened.

"For failing the Oniwabanshuu again.......for failing everyone.......for failing you......."

"You've never failed me Aoshi-sama....... Sometimes you were frustrating, but you've never failed me."

"But I have......."

"Aoshi-sama.......the group that attacked today....... They weren't after the Oniwabanshuu......."

"Then who?" he asked puzzled.

"They were just a group of men struggling to survive in the Meiji era....... They needed food. Their wives and children were dying......."

"But they killed......."

"But we never gave them the chance to explain....... The first thing we did when we saw them was attack....... If they had not killed us, we would have killed them......."

"So you died for nothing......."

"I died because of my own stupidity," she retorted. "If I would have been thinking, I wouldn't have started the attack.

"But-"

"But nothing Aoshi-sama. I'm dead. We are all dead. Nothing about that can change. Get a grip Aoshi-sama.......remember who you are......."

There's a voice that calls 'Remember who you are

"Who are you Aoshi-sama?" a whisper of breath curling in his ear.

"I'm a failure. I've failed everyone I've known. I've no honor left, and I should die and rot in hell for what I've done." He took a breath. "I couldn't protect anyone......."

"No Aoshi-sama......." He felt her hand on his head. "You're the leader of the Oniwabanshuu. You have to re-unite the Oniwabanshuu and you have to lead them. You have honor. "Hannya, Beshimi, Hyottoko, and Shikijou thought so too. They died so that you could live. If they died for someone who had no honor, then they died for nothing- for they wouldn't have had honor themselves. And I know they had honor Aoshi-sama.......and so do you."

Her hand tangled itself in his bangs, and he closed his eyes. "But what will I do?" he asked, almost inaudibly. "You're gone, and I never told you......."

"Told me what Aoshi-sama?" she asked, and he felt her head on his shoulder.

"How much I- care for you......." he muttered. "I was going to tell you soon, and ask for your hand....... I even asked Okina for permission......."

"Oh Aoshi-sama," she sighed. "I'm so sorry......."

"Why should you be sorry? I should be the one who's sorry....... You're dead and I'm not......."

"Oh Aoshi-sama! I do love you; I always have. And I always will. But I'm not unhappy where I'm at....... Everybody's worried about you, you know....... We don't want to lose you Aoshi-sama, and we don't want you to lose yourself." He felt her arms circle around him again.

"I don't know if I can......."

"Of course you can Aoshi-sama!" she encouraged. "You're strong. And to me, you'll always be the strongest."

Her hand covered his, and he could feel his body tremble.

If you lose yourself Your courage soon will follow

"Aa," he managed. He looked down at the body in his arms, memorizing her face, her size, and the way she fit into his arms....... Enough details to last a lifetime. The only thing that was wrong.......was that she wasn't smiling.

So be strong tonight Remember who you are

He gently lowered her body into the grave and gently brushed her bangs back to the way she always wore them. He folded her hands over her chest and stood to brush the dirt from his pants.

"Goodbye....... Shiro, Kuro, Okon, Omasu, Okina......." he muttered in silent prayer as he pushed dirt over each grave in turn.

Lastly, he came to Misao's grave. He hesitated to push the dirt over her, and he felt a pair of arms wrap around his waist.

He smiled slightly....... The closest thing to a smile that he could manage. He had never minded their height difference....... He kneeled down to match her height and he could feel the invisible weight wrap around his chest again. If he closed his eyes, it would feel as if he really were holding her.

Yeah, you're a soldier now Fighting in a battle.......

"I would have said yes you know......." she whispered, and a soft yet invisible weight came down on his lips. "Remember who you are Aoshi- anata.......I'll be waiting......."

The weight disappeared from his arms and he looked down at the cold body in the grave before him.

To be free once more.......

"I'll do as you've asked," he sighed, dropping his hands to the pile of dirt that had yet to be smoothed over the grave.

Yeah, that's worth fighting for.......

"I'll miss you.......koishii, but I'll be waiting for you too.......and we'll be together soon," he whispered, pushing the dirt into the hole. Though, before the dirt fell over her face, he could see the corners of her mouth turned up into a smile, in her everlasting sleep of death.

Maybe it was just him, but he thought that she looked happy. He packed the dirt on the grave and stood. He would make crosses first, and then he would re-unite the Oniwabanshuu as Misao had asked.

"Wait for me, koishii......." he muttered, and one lone tear fell onto the dirt over her grave. "And I'll wait for you......."

And Aoshi Shinomori left the Oniwabanshuu's graves, leaving his icy façade behind. And where his tear wet the ground.......a flower began to grow.......

OWARI~

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Sound the bugle now And tell them That I'll be waiting.......

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Uh.......*rubs the back of her head* I think it sux, but that's my opinion....... AHEM! Anyway, let me know what you thought of it. I've got chapter 2 finished already, just gotta type it up.......but I won't bother unless this one's at least decent. ^^;; The 2nd chapter is a song-fic to "Unhappy Anniversary" by Vitamin C.......don't worry, the very end will have a happy ending! XD, I love angst, so long as it ends happy! ^^ Chapter Three is with the song "Here I Am", ch4 is "Nothing I've Ever Known", ch5 is "I Will Always Return" ch6(the finale) is "Here I Am (finale version).......

So let me know if you like it! ^.~ Please?

Vocabulary-

-sama- Lord, high respect.

anata- honey, dear, darling, usually from a wife to her husband

koishii- sweetheart, darling, beloved, usually from a husband to his wife

~~Okashira Misao

PS. I hope it wasn't too corny.......