Disclaimer: I don't own Rurouni Kenshin and I DEFINITELY DO NOT OWN AOSHI :sigh: I wish I did though I would horribly rich!
Ok this is my second fanfiction – I hoped I portrayed the characters correctly, I hoped I did a good job- constructive criticism is very much appreciated! Ok now onto the story!Silence
She looked at the letter in her hand. Kaoru's scrawling handwriting had informed her of the happy news. She was glad they were getting married. Kenshin and Kaoru deserved to be happy. So why wasn't she happy for them? Why was she feeling sick? A kind of sickness that comes from the bottom of the stomach, the kind of sickness that brings more than the initial wave of nausea – it was the kind of sickness that brought a sense of darkness. It was the kind of sickness that let the shadows eat at the soul. And she was feeling the sickness began to gnaw at her.
She sat down, the letter still in her hand, as she stared at it, eyes seeing but not comprehending. Her face grew dark, she was tired of this, and she was tired of everything. Everyone was moving on, everyone had lives to live and she was still here, in her own ways creating nothing but a stagnant life. The others were downstairs nosily displaying their jubilation for the Himura's to be.
A knock at her door drew her out.
And there he stood, his height overshadowing hers. His smell engulfing her senses, it was intoxicating. She stood there silently, amazed that he had come to her and not vice versa. He hadn't been to her room since the night he left. The silence was tangible, and words felt heavy on her tongue so she resided to remain in silence. He looked at her- his eyes staring and then something flickered from them. It was so fast and so subtle that she couldn't catch it. It seemed like they were there forever before he spoke. Before his voiced lulled her out of her trance.
"Misao, may I see the letter?" Aoshi spoke while his hands reached out for the letter. She reluctantly handed it to him; Misao was still staring at him. The shock of seeing him at her door was still in effect. His eyes scanned the letter and handed it back to Misao. She was confused, since when had Aoshi ever cared for weddings?
"I'm glad Himura has found his peace. Kaoru has waited a long time for him and she deserves this."
Time stopped. The breathing of the two people became loud and cacophonous to the ears. It was more like Misao's ragged breathing that could be heard.
Misao stared at Aoshi. She gripped the letter. Her fingernails puncturing the paper, coming into contact with her inner palm, drawing blood, and causing the wedding announcement to be soiled with crimson droplets. She choked on her breath and her eyes blurred. Had she not chased him all around Japan? Had she not waited endless days and hours for him? How can he say that Himura deserves peace when he himself cannot be consoled into thinking that he too deserves the same peace! His hypocrisy made her let out a staggering breath. She gripped the shoji. Her face was still the same, but her eyes told a thousand stories of hatred and fear and the burden of waiting.
"I have to leave. I have to go." She said quickly, abruptly as she pushed her way between Aoshi and the door. She stumbled in a half daze and half conscious walk towards the stairs. Kaoru's letter was abandoned; it was dropped when Misao ambled out. The red droplets caught Aoshi's eye and he sighed. He picked it up and walked out of her room back to the temple.
She ran out of the Aoiya and kept on running. She ran past the street vendors, past the bystanders gawking at her. She ran till there was nothing but a beaten dirt road overgrown with weeds. She ran till her tears were causing her sight to fail. She ran until the dirt from the road clung like a second skin. She tried to run until the sickness would stop clawing at her, until her heart would stop its painful beat. But it seemed to her she would never be able to run that much.
She crumbled on the path and cried. Cried for all the times she waited for him to come home. She cried for all the times she stood in the rain for him with an umbrella so that he wouldn't be wet. She cried for all those hopes and dreams she left in the dust for him. But most of all she cried for him. Because despite all her good intentions he was still in his own madness, he was still awoken in the middle of the night, a silent scream lodged between his own throat as the demons drank in his sanity, as his own past tormented him. She was in hell, but Aoshi was in a deeper hell than hers. He was burning with something she could not imagine. While she almost died countless times thinking something had happened to him, Aoshi had died so many more times as he relived the nightmares of his past.
To everyone Aoshi was cool and composed. Some even called him "ice-block" but to her he was that because he could not handle his emotions, not because he didn't have any but he had too much. Because he would die should the dam to his emotions be broken. He would drown as the onslaught of feelings overwhelmed him. She would cry for him because he could not be saved, because no one but himself could save him from the looming darkness that seemed to eat at him everyday. She cried because even she could not save him, partly because he would not allow her to do so but also partly because she was afraid that his demons would not only consume him, it would consume them both in her efforts to bring him out. But what Misao did not realize was that in the process of trying to help him, she had created her own demons. Her own dark shadows that spoke of a loveless life, the shadows that spoke of the ever- near and at the same time unattainable salvation and most of all it spoke of unrequited love.
She cried so hard that she chocked on her tears and she tasted the bitterness. She let the darkness overtake her, she let its cool touch devour her and at the same time she cried harder because she had given up and because she had already let the darkness creep in long before this.
She woke up feeling sticky, the humid night air made the lose hairs latch onto her neck. She looked around and the lights of Kyoto could barely be seen. There was nothing around her but scantily clad trees and tall yellow grass. She sat on her knees and stared out. The stars twinkled lightly, and the night was a deep purple. It was hot and she heard the rustle of the grass and for the first time in many years she felt at peace because she knew now what she could not accept before.
Misao knew that Aoshi could not belong to her in the same way Kenshin belonged to Kaoru, in the same ways husbands belonged to their wives. Although this revelation fell hard and fast, it was a relief. The burden of waiting seemed to be lifted from her shoulders. Nobody ever knew the pain of waiting, how much her heart ticked when seconds drew on and turned into minutes and nobody ever knew how much it hurt to just put on a happy face everyday and nobody ever knew how much she truly did love him.
Her epiphany came somewhere in between the half sobs and the periods of complete silence where she lied there thinking of her past. It felt weird this grip of depression. She realized that Aoshi could never feel the same way she did for him and her feelings for him was not helping the situation at all. It was causing him to have further demons, demons that whispered nightly to Aoshi of how he had betrayed her, of how he had betrayed the Oniwabanshuu. These demons caused Aoshi to lay awake, eyes blood shot from the lack of sleep, the very same demons he wrestled with just so that he go on with his life.
She shivered at the thought of how much Aoshi had suffered and how he will continue to suffer. She stood up, a little disorientated and dirty but otherwise fine. She walked back from where she came. Sometimes Misao would run and sometimes she would walk leisurely. It was weird knowing what she knew. The lights of Kyoto approached ever so slowly and the stars dimmed in their presence. She stopped when she arrived at the outskirts of the city and she looked back, back past into no man's land, back past into where her realization came. With one last backward glance she entered Kyoto. The hustle and bustle of the city overtook the silence of the night and for a second she had forgotten why she had returned. But as the Aoiya's front came into view, she was reminded of what needed to be done.
She looked back at the temple, and there was still a small light there. She knew he was still there, praying for something. Maybe he was there because it was the only place his demons dare not follow him. But she knew better than to think that. Because no matter what his demons would follow him, he would suffer from their torment as they shattered his every will and turned his daytime into night. They would embrace him and he would hold onto them, he would intimately take all they had to offer because that was all he knew – because they- his demons were the only ones that understood the depth of his shadows and his anguish.
She walked softly onto the grass and towards the temple. The light crunching of the grass could be heard and the noise of the city seemed to be drowned out as she approached the temple and saw his silhouette. She walked up the steps and pushed open the shoji and there he was. He caught her eyes and stared at her for what seemed like an eternity. She gripped the shoji as she saw what was in his hands- the blood stained letter that Kaoru had sent. His eyes followed her as she looked at the piece of paper in his hands. She traced the outlines of his hand and worked her way up as she committed every detail of his face to memory.
"Where have you been?" His voice broke the silence.
She looked at him and continued to stare, as she said nothing. His hands were tracing the droplets of blood. And then Aoshi looked up at her.
" I thought you were happy." He said, slightly frowning, the creases in his forehead deepening as the she continued to give him nothing but silence. His eyes implored her to answer. He fidgeted and for the first time he was uncomfortable with her stare. It was so sad. Her stare reminded him of the time he saw the half-dead soldier lying in the battlefield telling his comrades with resoluteness that they should kill to end his suffering and so Aoshi wondered if Misao was silently telling him to end her suffering.
"I'm leaving Aoshi. I have to leave… for you." She whispered, the words falling heavily like droplets of water that could be heard for miles away on a dry day. The last part stunning him- why did she have to leave for him? The words were insidious to him more so than his demons had ever been. He looked up at her, eyes fearful, and mouth dry. He saw her half-hearted smile.
" Don't worry, I mean… I mean tell the others not to worry. I will be fine. I promise I'll come back…someday" Misao spoke raggedly, trying not to cry and trying not break down in front of him.
The atmosphere around the two stifled. It no longer smelt of the sweet incense but now of decay and wrongness, of half spoken truths and of overlooked actions and of a death of a relationship that was never even given a chance to be born. The surroundings made Aoshi sick but worse of all he knew that one day she would leave him alone, all alone to deal with his demons and the thought of that terrified him. He just never thought it would come true.
"Goodbye Aoshi-sama" And without so much as backward glance, she walked out of the temple and into the night sky.
Once she had gotten half way back she looked up at the stars and whispered, " I could have saved you only if you had believed that I could."
The next day she left, and her presence was missed and at the same time it was felt. She was in everything. And his demons had stopped seducing him every night and the voices in his head had vanished. He could taste the bitterness of green tea and realized that he never liked it after all. Perhaps he had drunk it everyday so that the bitterness of the tea would distract him from his own darkness. He suddenly realized that the demons stopped because she was gone. He knew that he had stopped his own demons because in the grief of missing her, they were a little annoyance and as he ignored them everyday they had disappeared slowly. He wondered sometimes, as he laid awake, hearing the crickets sing their summer song, how he had survived all this time with such creatures eating and gnawing at him but then he remembers her and he remembers that while she was here – he had not acknowledge the fact that she was his salvation. Sometimes he grew sad because she had left and at what expense – he could not fathom. He was beginning to heal and he was grateful to her, but sometimes when it rained or when it was extremely hot he often thought of her, thought of what she meant to him, of what she means to him now, of what she was doing, whether she had married, whether she had kids of her own. But the last thoughts always made him feel sick and it made him feel like the demons could return at anytime.
At first they received letters from her, of her tidings. She always told them to tell the Himuras, that she was sorry for missing Kaoru and Kenshin's wedding. She told them of a thousand foreign tales and she always asked a thousand questions but she never left a return address to where the answers could be mailed. He wondered sometimes, if she had asked the questions knowing full well the answers and was just trying to fill up the silence in the letter. She told them of Kenshin and Kaoru's new baby, even though she had not visited them or surely Kenshin would've written to Okina telling him Misao had visited. She talked about Sano and Megumi's wedding and how she would not be able to attend. Where she learnt all this info he did not know, but he knew for a fact that she did not learn them first hand. Perhaps she was closer than he really thought. But soon enough the letters had stopped. She said she would return but it had been years since she left that night.
Aoshi would visit her room sometimes; he would sit and stare at her belongings. A brush, an obi, things left here and there but on a hot July day he noticed something sticking out of the left bottom drawer. He wondered now why he had not noticed it earlier, but he crept towards and bent on one knee pulling the drawer out and in it were hidden tons of items. He sifted through them and some were paper cranes that he had made for Misao when she was young and other were her drawings but what caught his eye was a book. It was blank except for one page. Misao had composed a poem and at the corners of the page were light traces pink, as if she had cut her hand earlier before writing and then left the crimson marks as she pressed her palm down on the page. He read the page over and over.
wonder why the skies so cold,
Why the sky has turned to gray,
And I wonder what has lead you,
To this evil evil way.
crumbled beneath a darkness light,
And screamed a soundless cry,
And I close my eyes to stop the tears,
That bleed between my eyes.
whisper almost nothing,
In the wind like lullabies,
A softness almost growing quiet,
As a madness stirs it clear.
wonder why I have no lights,
And I wonder why it hurts,
I think about each cherished moment,
Till it burns within my words.
cannot see with open eyes,
Or breathe while I'm alive,
And I crumble oh so quietly,
At the mention of your name.
night I prayed there'll come a day,
When you'll understand my song,
An empty verse of pain and hurt,
Within a melody.
still I crumble at each memory,
I pull back as I scream,
Unshaken from my past past love,
Goodbye for now my love.
He knew what he would tell her when she came back. He knew exactly what he would show her. He would ask her to allow him to have peace, the same peace that Kenshin found within Kaoru, the same type of peace husbands found within their wives. But for now he would wait, and know the pain of waiting as she had waited for him. However he would not have to make the ultimate sacrifice as Misao had. Because he understands now why she left, because although he was her greatest love, he was also her greatest demon and she his – because his love for her was twisted and strange and her love for him was tainted with hate – hate for her having to wait, hate for her having to chase him. But this time apart washed the pain and the anger away and when she comes back, she will truly see that not only she had discovered herself while away but in her own methods she had helped Aoshi find himself too.