This is only the second fiction I've posted here, and not only my very first RK fic ever, but my first first-person. I spell checked it, but knowing me there are still mistakes here. anyway, please review!

Chapter 1: Green Eyes

The sun is still fairly high in the sky, the spring grass rolls like ocean waves every time the light breeze blows. For me though, I find myself only looking into the distance, onto the horizon where the earth connects with the sky. I'm thinking of him again.

"Teacher?"

I quickly snapped out of my trance at the small voice that questioned me. The young boy before me held up a white paper, the kanji of "day" messily strewn upon it.

"Ah, good job Yoru-chan." I smile. The artwork that these young children accomplish always amazes me. I take the paper from his small hands and lay it beside the small pile forming at the small table I sit at. I don't want to collect it until the ink has dried, and Yoru always seemed to love using the black liquid on his papers. The boy has already gone back to his seat beside Kari.

"Does anyone need help?" I ask, raising myself from the floor to look over the children in the room. As I expect, a young girl in the back raised her hand. I feel myself smile as I return to my feet and walk to the rear of the room, looking over my students' work as I go.

"Ne dear, what is it?" I realized I forgot the girl's name as I kneel beside her.

"Look." She says to me, a sob in the tune of her voice. "It doesn't look right."

I turned the paper towards me so I can get a better look. As I do, her name floods back to my memory. "Amaya, I think it looks pretty."

"No it doesn't." She protests.

"Why not?" I ask, blinking my eyes at her with curiosity.

"It's not straight." She finally says after some hesitation.

I reach towards the end of the table she sits at and pull a clean, white piece of paper off the stack beside an empty inkbottle and brush. "Here." I offer, moving her kanji to the side slightly and laying the parchment before her. "You can try again, and you don't have to rush. If you go nice and slow, you'll like it more when it's finished, okay?"

After a moment of staring, a smile appeared on Amaya's face and she nodded. I returned to my own table at the front of the class, and upon my resting position I see that all 23 students are busily occupied to finish the simple kanji I've had them learn. None of the children here are older than six, and I prefer them to be no younger than four. I love being in the presence of their expanding minds and creative observations, but I do like them to be organized and not rowdy. It makes my nearly everyday teachings at the Seishun Pre-school more enjoyable. After a few more moments, I find my gaze moving back to the window, back to the horizon that seems centuries away from me.

~

"Ja matta Hatoshiro-san!" I wave as the short man holds the small hand of another female student of mine. I bring my raised hand back down to meet my other and clasp them loosely against the fabric of my kimono.

"Where's my mommy?" I hear Mamo say, tugging on the bow behind me.

He's coming, don't worry." I smile to reassure him.

"Oi, Tokio!" A familiar voice rang.

I turn my head to see Eiji running towards me. He's come such a long way in the short time I've had him. He was a healthy 11-year-old boy, dressed in a clean, violet gi and white hakama pants. He waves his arm as he ran to get my attention further.

"Eiji, what brings you here?" I ask.

He takes a moment to catch his breath. "I wanted to... walk you and Kari-chan home." His eyes lower to the black-haired girl beside me, sitting patiently on the wooden porch that surrounds the small building. Her face instantly perks and she repeats Eiji's name in her young voice.

"Eiji, you're so kind to us." And look from his back onto the road in front of the school. "I just have to wait for Mamo's mother, I can't leave him here by himself."

Eiji nods and sits beside Kari. He watched her swing her legs a bit and noticed that her shoe was on wrong, and politely stopped her actions for a moment to fix it.

"Mommy!" I hear Mamo yell loudly. His sudden voice startled me, but I look up to see another young woman approach the school, and Mamo practically leapt off the porch and into her arms as if I were tormenting him. However, the action only makes me laugh.

Konnichi wa, Tokio." The brunette bowed slightly.

I did the same. "Konnichi wa Makoto-san."

"I hope he wasn't a trouble today." She says in an apologetic tone. "I know my Mamo can be a handful."

I shake my head. "Oh no, he's a very good boy. He learned a new kanji today, ne, Mamo?"

"Hai!" He calls out from his mother's arms.

"Thank you for tending to him." She says to me. "I'll see you after the weekend."

"Hai." I bow to her again before she turns and leaves down the street.

"All right Kari, let's go." Eiji hopped off the porch and held onto my daughter's hand so she could do the same.

Kari's other hand reaches up to mine, and I grasp it gently and begin my familiar walk back home. It's a peaceful, quiet day today, and I'm grateful for that. I will have to leave Kari in Eiji's attendance for a while this evening so I can go down to the market and buy some tofu for dinner.

~

Our walk lasts ten minutes, and the three of us finally step inside the gates of the property. Eiji kindly closes the door behind me and walks ahead to get the door to the house. He's such a polite boy; I really have started to feel like he was my son. I nod to him as I walk in, guiding Kari along as well, making sure she takes her shoes off before stepping inside.

"I cleaned the kitchen floors today, Tokio." Eiji announces from behind me.

I release Kari's hand and let her go off for a while. "Oh Eiji, you didn't have to do that."

His tan face grins in a sudden ensemble of pride.

"How was your schooling today?"

Eiji moved towards the square table in the middle of the large living room, letting his legs give out underneath him. "Boring." He answers. That seemed to always be his answer.

I sighed. "Eiji, do you not like the work or is it too easy for you?"

He shrugs and falls onto his back, comfortably placing his hands behind his bed. "Who cares? You act like education is everything."

I'm not quite sure what to say to that, so I just smile lightly, though he's not looking at me. "Gomen nasai, Eiji. I just want you to enjoy it."

His brown eyes finally meet my dark green ones, and it seems as though my simple statement as made him feel guilty. "Fine." He exasperates. "I'll try to like it more."

My smile widens and I nod. "Arigatou gozaimasu." I turn towards the kitchen, but stop before entering. "Eiji, do you know if we have any more peppers left in the garden?"

"I can check if you want."

"That's all right." Even if we don't have any, I know we have some turnips out there. As I walk into the kitchen however, out of sight, a suddenly feel a tinge of loneliness claw at my chest. It was as if the doorway was a portal into a void. I focus on the flowers sitting in the sunny window of the room, and their colorful attitudes seem to help me a bit.

How long has it been now? From the date on the calendar at school, nearly four months... or at least I think. The last time I even heard from him was when Eiji arrived here, dirt clinging to his skin and tattered clothing, his mind angry with himself. I had gotten word from the police that Makoto Shishio had been finally defeated, but as for the whereabouts of him, I had heard nothing. He may not even be alive, and...

I place my hand quickly over my mouth to calm myself. I really am used to this by now, but who can expect even the strongest of women not to worry? Almost immediately I exit the house through the kitchen, stepping onto the grass in my socks. The small garden is right close by, so I won't have to go far to get any vegetables or herbs I want for my cooking. When I reach that section of the yard I remember again that I need to buy tofu. After a few scannings of the garden, I determine that there aren't any peppers left, so I pick two turnips like I had previously planned, and head inside.

~

I tend to Kari after dinner until the sun has reached the mountains in the distance. I take her into her small room and begin laying out her futon for her to sleep in. Though there are other rooms in my home, Eiji stays in this one. Since his arrival he's treated Kari like his sister, and it puts me at ease to know that my four-year-old isn't sleeping alone. Kari clumsily pulls off the sash of her small kimono, knowing by routine that it's time to get into her nightclothes. I recognize the sea-green kimono she's wearing as one that I made a few months ago.

After I fold her blankets back, I notice the empty space on the floor to my right. I assume Eiji is out back again, practicing with the broken sword he brought with him like he did every night. I stand up, seeing that my half-naked daughter is messily pulling through a dresser to find any particular thing to wear, so I get out the blankets for Eiji's bed as well and carefully lay them out for him.

"Can I wear this?" Kari questions, holding up a peach kimono.

"No." I say in a light tone. I don't think I could get my voice to go much harsher than that even if I tried. I stop in my working and get up, kneeling again beside Kari so that I'm more eye-level with the open drawer. "This is for day time, remember?"

"I know, but..."

"How about you wear it tomorrow, then all your friends can see." I suggest.

"Okay!" Kari's green eyes sparkle at me, and I take a second to look at how much they resemble mine.

"How about this?" I offer up one of her light gray sleeping robes.

Instead of answering, Kari messes her short black hair by pushing it out of her face and hold her arms out, waiting for me to dress her. I do so, and pull the light blue sash across her stomach, tying a loose bow in it in case she needs to undo it during the night for any reason.

I hear Eiji entering in downstairs as Kari climbs into her bed. The room is getting darker now, so I halt in her procedures for bed and stand up, going to the shelf where the oil lamp is. I keep it here so Kari can't reach it. I light it up a bit and bring it back down, still keeping it a good ways from Kari.

"Lay down." I say, quieter. She does this, and then faces upwards with both arms tight at her sides like militants. I cover her with the blankets and tuck them in under her so she is warm and secure.

"Would you like a story tonight?" I ask.

She shakes her head. "I want a song." She knows that every night she can either hear a lullaby or be read to from one of her children's' books. She always gets to pick the story, but I always pick the song. I don't know if I'm an excellent singer, but I can carry a tune enough to put her to sleep and comfort her.

"Still my angel, do not fear..." I begin singing. As my lullaby continues, Eiji walks into the room, not surprised to see his futon already laid out for him. He put his sword on another shelf and sits down, taking his socks off as if I'm not there. I only see it as a polite gesture not to disturb my song.

When I'm finished is when I hear him speak. "Did you do the laundry?"

I nodded. "I washed your robe, do you want it?"

"Yes." After a moment, he remembers his manners and adds "please" to his statement.

"Good night, Kari." I say to the now sleepy child. I stand up again and straighten my kimono before I head downstairs. I leave the door open behind me since I'll be returning soon.

The laundry basket is in the hall near my bedroom. I didn't take the time today to put the clothes away, but Eiji's robe lies on top, so I grab it and turn back towards the stairs. All the clothes he wears now are still new to him, and I won't allow him to wear the raggy ones he first came in. It's not that I thought he was a beggar or anything, but he deserves better.

~

After Eiji finally curls up and rests, I return back downstairs to the bathroom. The bathroom itself is fairly small, but it connects directly to the bathhouse. With the light from my oil lamp, I face the mirror and begin removing the bobby pins from the back of my hair. I always wear it up, since it looks nicer that way and doesn't get in my face. Once I remove the center tie, my hair falls completely, the ends brushing against my lower back. In this light it looks jet black, but in the sun its dark green color comes through. I brush my bangs aside and look at myself. I am only 26, so for now I don't have any wrinkles or gray hairs that stare back at me. I don't gaze at myself long, I don't think I really need to.

Once in my room I undress myself and put on my own sleeping robe, the light blue one that I usually wear. I take the time to set up my bed, and without further adieu I blow out my lamp and fall asleep.

It's not until hours later that I wake up.

I heard a noise, and it sounded like it was from the front door, so I imagine it's not Eiji or Kari. I roll onto my back and listen again. It's a person, but they sound too heavy to be either of the children, again. It does sound like they're trying to be quiet, but not quiet enough to be a robber...

Then, my eyes shoot open even wider. Could it be him?

I sit up and thrust the blankets off of me, possibly a little harder than I had intended to, and sprint on my toes towards the living room. As I get there I see the oil lamp kept by the door light up, and I stop in the hallway.

"Saitou?" I ask in a loud whisper.

The eyes illuminated by the small fire look up at me, and I recognize his face immediately. I'm surprised that he's suddenly shown up here, but my second reaction is relief that he's still alive.

"You should go back to bed, Tokio." Is what he says, placing the lamp back on the shelf, still lit.

Instead of doing what I should, I walk forward, his eyes watching my steps. I stop when I reach him, but instead of saying anything, I place my arms around him and rest my head on his chest, my height only reaching his collarbone. All I can say is "I missed you," and when the words escape my lips, even I can barely hear them. After a moment I feel one of his arms against my back, and again a feeling of relief comes over me.

It only take a minute for him to step back and look me in the face, again saying "Go back to sleep." Although I haven't seen my husband in what feels like ages, I do what he says and return to my room.

When I do return, I begin setting up another futon on the large floor, leaving an aisle clear between it and mine. After that I lie in bed quietly. It seems to take him nearly an hour to enter in again, and when he sees the futon, he goes to it.

It's not until then that I fall back asleep.