Disclaimer: Ruroken is not mine!!

Summary: One-shot. Ten years have passed since Misao first declared herself Okashira. In these ten years, she alone has toiled on, determined to preserve the legacy of the once-great Oniwaban. However, displeased with her success, a local yakuza faction is now out to bring her down. And then, one day, she recognizes the face of a former enemy in the crowd...
Pairings: Soujirou/Misao (MiSo! XD)
Rating: T, for bloodiness and killing and one case of mild swearing.

Notes: No one ever really writes angst (and I mean angst angst, not just plain love triangle/relationship angst, or angst neutralized by plenty of humor) for this pairing, so I thought, oh heck, why not? :P Besides, I owe Misao a nice, long, serious piece anyway. I haven't really given her the attention she deserves in my other pieces... (cough)

Flight of the Crane

She had not cried, the day he had left. Kyoto held too many memories for him, as did Tokyo, which in his heart she knew would forever remain Edo.

Once, perhaps, she would have begged him to stay, the way she had begged him to take back the position of okashira she had claimed while waiting for his return, years ago. He had refused her then, but she knew he could not have brought himself to turn down her request if she had asked him to stay -- and yet she would not ask, for she could see that his heart no longer belonged in Kyoto, that his soul could no longer abide in this city of silent regret.

"Why not?" she had asked, once upon a time, when he had told her that he could not take on the mantle of okashira once more.

"No matter how many times I am forgiven by those whom I have wronged," he had replied, his face shadowed by his long black bangs, "the truth remains: I failed my men. I failed myself. I failed you all."

"But --" she had begun to protest.

"I am an icon of the forgotten past, Misao. I may still have the capability to fight and to lead our people, but I no longer have the vision or the determination needed to carry the Oniwaban into the future. You, on the other hand... You are still young, and you are a strong woman. I believe... that you are the heart of the Oniwaban and the very spirit of old Kyoto... and that you have the strength and the will to carry on the legacy of your grandfather. Keep the position of okashira, Misao. There is no one better suited for the job... it was always meant for you, in the end."

It had been the first time he had acknowledged her as a grown woman, and not merely as the little girl whom he had left behind, so many years ago, and yet somehow, his words had filled her with a great and inexplicable sadness. And she had cried, "But -- I don't know how! I don't know what to do! I --"

And then he had smiled, for the first time since he had returned to Kyoto, a soft, wistful smile filled with pain and regret. "Okina and I will stand by you, and we will guide you, and with time, you will learn."

And for five years she had gone forth and stumbled and then picked herself back up again, knowing that her Jiya and her Aoshi-sama were there to catch her when she fell. And when Aoshi had finally made the decision to leave, she had hugged him tightly and said only, "I'm going to miss you, Aoshi-sama." And although he had not replied, only hugging her back briefly before he turned and walked away into the distance, she knew that he loved her, and that he had always loved her, and that he would love her even until the end of time.

Ten years have passed now since Misao first declared herself Okashira, and five since her Aoshi-sama left Kyoto for good. Her Jiya passed away two years ago of illness, and though she mourned his loss greatly, still she has persevered.

It is not easy. There are many who still retain their connections with the Oniwabanshuu, but those who actively proclaim their loyalty to the clan and their okashira dwindles with each passing year. Most, like her Aoshi-sama, have already settled into new lives of their own, and are reluctant to involve themselves too much in the clan's business, which is really not even so grand and exciting as it once was -- not that Misao minds. All they do now is operate their inn, the Aoiya, which Misao has expanded over time, and act occasionally as the unofficial protectors of the city. Nevertheless, Misao takes her job seriously, for she is determined to preserve this great legacy she has inherited from her grandfather and her Aoshi-sama and Jiya and the parents she never knew, and generations and generations of Oniwaban before her...

And it is not an easy job.

The Aoiya has prospered greatly under her direction, for though she still possesses her trademark carefree, ever cheerful radiance, she has grown to become quite a shrewd businesswoman, with a startlingly clever wit she perhaps absorbed over years of acquaintance with Takani Megumi, the infamous lady doctor of Aizu. Yet it is also because of Misao's great success that her troubles have grown in the past few years.

Most recently, she has begun to clash with local yakuza, who operate the only other large inn in the area and are steadily losing customers to the much friendlier Aoiya. The Oniwaban have suffered only verbal threats and minor harassments so far, but Misao worries that the situation will soon turn violent. She knows that her Oniwaban can take care of themselves, yet in these days of peace she does not enjoy the prospect of bloodshed. Her onmitsu have worked hard for the lives they lead now, for the semblance of normalcy they have finally gained in this new era, and she does not wish to take this away from them. Normally, she would, perhaps, write to her Aoshi-sama and ask for his advice, but she is reluctant to do so, this time, for she knows that he is expecting his first child soon, and she does not want to burden him with troubles that are no longer his, but hers alone to bear.

It was with these worries on her mind that Misao stepped out into the streets one day, as she did every morning, to buy fresh fruits and vegetables for the Aoiya. It was a day teetering at the edge of winter and spilling over into the start of spring, and so though the sun shone bright and yellow, the air was crisp and cool. As she walked, she could feel her hair, which she had cropped short years ago, tickling at the nape of her neck, and the thin red fabric of her kimono sliding against her bare skin. Her old, revealing ninja outfit she had stashed away around the same time she had cut her hair, for she had discovered that wearing a kimono gave her an added air of maturity she had lacked when dressed in her old loose-fitting shorts. On rare occasion she would remember, and take them out once more, and prance around alone in her room, dreaming of days past.

Today was one of those days, days so pleasant and free that she could not help but remember. She could not help but begin to reminisce, as she strolled along, of her younger years, when everything had been so much simpler, back when nothing could possibly go wrong, and if it did, there was always Aoshi-sama or Jiya or any of the older onmitsu to make everything right again... Those memories led inevitably to memories of names like Himura, Kaoru, Shishio, Saitou, Enishi, of a time that had not been so simple and yet good had always prevailed and everything seemed to end happily ever after... And for the first time in her life, Misao realized how terribly alone she was.

At this point she stopped in her tracks, feeling a sudden surge of anger at herself. She was no longer a child, she thought, and even alone, she could not, would not fail her family, her people, her Oniwaban. She looked up purposefully and began to stride forth again, but then her eye caught a strangely familiar face in the crowd.

"Soujirou!" she exclaimed, finally managing to match the face with a name. She was surprised that she still remembered him, after all these years, and even more surprised to see him in Kyoto, now. "Tenken no Soujirou!"

The young man looked up and stared at her in shock, and Misao found it oddly saddening that the smile that had once adorned his face constantly, empty as it had been, was nowhere to be found, not even in his once-twinkling blue eyes, now dull and familiarly, achingly tired.

At last, the young man said, his now deepened voice catching slightly in his throat, "How...?"

"I'm Makimachi Misao," she explained, grinning kindly, "Okashira of the Oniwabanshuu. Don't you remember? Ten years ago..."

"Ah!" exclaimed the man, and if possible, he seemed even more troubled than before. "I remember now -- you were not okashira then..." But then he smiled shyly at her and said, "You have grown very beautiful, Makimachi-san. I did not recognize you at first. But, ano, Makimachi-san... I did not think it typically very wise to greet an old enemy like this, as if he were an old friend instead."

It was not the first time a man had chosen to flatter her so, and also she knew that from this man the words meant nothing, for he had barely even noticed her the first and only time they had ever met, and it was really no surprise that he had forgotten her so easily -- yet she blushed slightly before she replied. "Ten years is a long time, and people change. I knew you could not be dangerous anymore, for you are no longer carrying a sword."

"The carrying of swords in public is outlawed, Makimachi-san," responded the young man, still smiling, almost as if amused, "and has been for many years now, as you must know. Besides, a well-trained onmitsu such as you should also know that lack of a sword does not necessarily make one any less dangerous."

Misao laughed at this, and the young man grinned back at her, expression unchanging. She observed him now, and saw that the years had been good to him. His once innocently boyish, almost feminine good looks had matured into a more rugged, lithe grace, although he had not grown much taller, and could probably still easily pass as a woman. "Well, Tenken no Soujirou," she retorted, giggling, "this onmitsu has sensed no danger or ill will from you, and she has sensed that you are not only lacking a katana, but completely unarmed. Therefore, I see no reason why I should not greet you, as I greet everyone else I like!"

Soujirou blinked. "Makimachi-san likes me?"

"Of course! I like everyone who means no harm to me or the Oniwaban, especially if I've met them before! I heard from Himura that you were off wandering on a journey of your own. Are you still wandering, then? How long have you been in Kyoto? Do you need a place to stay?" said Misao all in one breath, feeling a great weight lift from her, freeing her of all her worries for the moment.

"Oh, I see. That's good, because I like Makimachi-san too! Himura spoke the truth, but no, I am no longer wandering. I just arrived in Kyoto yesterday, and yes, I do need a place to stay. Are the Oniwaban still running the Aoiya, or does Makimachi-san know of someplace else?" replied Soujirou, still grinning, utterly unfazed.

"You read my mind, Tenken no Soujirou," answered Misao, eyes gleaming. "Come on! I'll take you!"

Soujirou beamed then. "I am no longer the Tenken, Makimachi-san. I am just Seta Soujirou now."

"All right, Seta-san, then! Well, what are you waiting for? Let's go!"


Soujirou had in fact been looking for a job, as she had guessed. Wanderers were always short of money -- she knew that firsthand. Despite the concern and suspicion of her fellow onmitsu, she hired him. They grew closer, as the two closest in age of all the Aoiya workers, and gradually even Shiro, who had been the most mistrustful of the former Tenken at first, came to accept him almost as one of their own. Misao herself was pleased to find that Soujirou had indeed changed from the unfeeling Tenken they all remembered to a pleasant, helpful young man, who smiled and laughed at everything. He often disappeared, going off to do the odd job here and there, but Misao did not question him about it. She knew he would need the money when he next continued his journeys, though somewhere deep inside she was beginning to hope he would stay.

The lazy days of summer trickled past in a blur. She was surprised at how time swept by so swiftly.

This was what came to her mind as they sat together on the banks of the river after a long day's work at the Aoiya one tranquil, balmy night, watching the stars. Or actually, hiding from two grumpy kunoichi who had been disappointed by a certain Hiko-san's failure to appear for his usual monthly visit, and were now threatening a multitude of chores and drudgery on everyone they saw.

"Ne, Sou-chan," she said, half-teasingly. He had been somewhat uncharacteristically gloomy all day, quiet and withdrawn despite the cheery smile he wore. She knew him well enough now, to sense that something was troubling him, and she did not like to see him troubled. She didn't like to see anyone troubled, but somehow it was just wrong, for Soujirou to be like this. "Bet I could beatcha in a race."

"A race?" asks Soujirou in his usual quizzical manner.

She turns over eagerly and faces him directly, staring into his clear blank eyes, willing him with all her heart to let go of his sorrow.

"Yup!" She grinned. "Even with your legendary speed, I bet you still can't beat me in a mad dash across the rooftops of Kyoto, in the darkest hours of night..." One thing she had picked up along with her newfound business acumen was an increased sense of the dramatic.

"So, let's go racing sometime, ne? Of course I'll understand if you're too tired right now..."

She trailed off as she realized that their faces had gotten awfully close. And that his eyes, as strangely pale and blue as her Aoshi-sama's and her own, were the most breathtakingly pretty eyes she had ever seen.

Soujirou grinned, innocent as can be. "Sounds good to me, Makimachi-san!"

Their faces really were awfully close. If she moved just a little bit more, their noses would be touching...

"Makimachi Misao! Where on earth are you hiding this time? And you! Soujirou-kun!"

They jumped apart and to their feet, somewhat sheepishly. It was Omasu, and her eyes were twinkling in a way that made Misao suspect that the older woman had witnessed everything (and forgotten all about that missing Hiko-san).

"Ara?" said Soujirou, looking somewhat pink. "Ano..."

"Okashira!" insisted Misao, giggling, a fifteen-year-old girl once more. "O-ka-shi-ra! And there isn't supposed to be any spying on your okashira, or any ordering her around!"

"Hai, hai..." grinned Omasu, winking at her irreverently.

Secretly, she was relieved.

Just a little.

She thinks a lot about that (almost) kiss. She thinks also about her Aoshi-sama. She wonders if he is well, and what he would do about the yakuza if he were in her place, and most of all she wonders if he would approve.

The threats from the yakuza escalate, but she handles them all calmly and efficiently, warning them of with a dangerous cool. She will make good on her warnings and destroy the yakuza utterly if they do not stop. No one doubts it. Soujirou's presence has given her a strange added sense of confidence, allowing her to continue moving forward with ease and reassurance. She takes pride in knowing that she has done just as well as her Aoshi-sama would have, perhaps even better. Finally, one day, the threats stop. It appears that the yakuza have finally given up.

At the end of July, Soujirou surprises her with a gift, a lovely red silk kimono embroidered with a beautiful design of cranes and sakura, bought with money he tells her he had stashed away as emergency funds, and money he has saved up from his monthly wages at the Aoiya. She wears it at the next festival, at a private party organized by Omasu and Okon celebrating her success at fending off the yakuza.

After the party, Shiro approaches her. It just doesn't add up, he says. How did he save up so much money in such a short amount of time? But Misao laughs it off. She tells him that he is over-worrying himself.

"Seta-kun is a hard worker," she says.


It was a simmering night in the middle of August when everything exploded.

The first sign of trouble came when Okon and Omasu did not return from their weekly jaunt into the city. Misao discussed matters quietly with Kuro and Shiro, not wanting to wake Soujirou, who had gone to bed early. The two kunoichi were perfectly capable of taking care of themselves, but the ambiguous situation with the yakuza made Misao worry. They had all been prepared for something to happen since the threats stopped, although outwardly hoping that it had truly meant their troubles had ended. And it had been too quiet, for too long.

Someone came crashing through the shoji door and the three of them whirled around, weapons in hand.

It was Okon, clutching a wound on her arm.

"We were attacked," she said. "I should have been more careful... They've captured Omasu."

Misao let out a breath she hadn't realized she was holding. "She's alive, then."

"Barely," Okon replied bitterly. "They've taken her to an old warehouse hideout of theirs."

"A trap," said Shiro tiredly. He and Omasu had been especially close. "To lure us out."

"Obviously," spat Okon with barely concealed fury. "There aren't enough of us, there aren't enough of us left..."

"What are we going to do now?" asked Kuro, voicing the question they were all afraid to answer. They turned, almost subconsciously, to Misao.

Misao found that she was trembling.

"Nobody," she said at last, fists clenched so hard she thought she would draw blood from her palm. "Nobody hurts my people, and gets away with it. It's time to settle this once and for all. Makimachi Misao and the Oniwabanshuu are not to be trifled with!"

She discovered hints of deep respect and determination in the ensuing silence, and thought that she now know knew a little of the intense loyalty and admiration her Aoshi-sama had commanded among his men, and of the heavy burden of responsibility that came with it.

"Shiro, you go round up as many of the old crowd as you can. Those who can afford to come," she added, thinking of all the former onmitsu now settled and with families. "Kuro, you stay behind to make sure nothing happens here while we're gone. We'll get two others to stay with you. And Okon, you will lead us to where Omasu is when everyone is ready."

At the echoed replies of "Hai, Okashira" that followed, she allowed the slightest of smiles before hurrying away to get ready herself.

She gathered up her kunai and shuriken and the rest of her equipment, then changed into her old ninja uniform before tiptoeing into the room where Soujirou lay sleeping. She was reluctant to involve him in the affairs of the Oniwabanshuu, but she knew also that if it came to the worst, Soujirou at least would be there to help them. She had faith in his skills, even if he no longer was the Tenken.

Still, she hoped things would not come to that.

"Be safe," she whispered, gently brushing her lips against his forehead.


During the darkest hours of night, ninja were invincible. It was something that should never have forgotten, least of all by the yakuza.

The group Shiro had gathered made its way quickly and silently to the warehouse, led by Misao and Okon. It took only a quick look for Misao to analyze the situation and give out orders. With a signal, the fury they had all been holding back unleashed and they stormed in, slitting and stabbing as silently as they had come. There was some resistance, but Misao had calculated well, and most were too taken by surprise to even reach for their swords and guns. They had underestimated the rage of the Oniwaban, underestimated the bonds that tied them all together. It was something they could not understand.

Those who could ran. Descended from samurai they might have been, but the samurai spirit had died with the death of an era.

One of the older onmitsu found Omasu bound and unconscious and gravely injured, though she seemed otherwise untouched. Okon and Shiro gently lifted her up between them.

They had just made it back outside when Kuro ran up to them, ragged and bleeding almost as badly as Omasu, face ghastly pale, livid with anger.

"Seta's betrayed you, Misao! He's been working for those bastards all along!"

"What! You've got to be kidding me!" exclaimed Shiro angrily, much to Misao's surprise. She herself was still frozen in shock. Shock at Kuro's words, shock at the truth, but mostly shock at herself.

It all made sense now. How could she have been so blind?

"The Aoiya, the Aoiya is burning," Kuro continued, voice thick with despair. "They came, a whole army of them. That traitor let them in, got them safely past the traps... Ichirou and Gorou are dead; they told me to come ahead to warn the rest -- he's coming back here now, to kill us all..."

It took only a split second for her to make her decision.

"Gather everyone together and head back!" she shouted so that they could all hear. "He was always the most dangerous one -- Now that he's gone, the rest of them can be dealt with easily! Get reinforcements if you can!"

She ran.

"Misao! What the hell are you doing?"

"Get back here, Misao! It's -- dangerous!"

"I am going to head him off," replied Misao, pausing in her footsteps and turning calmly to look at them. She was no longer a little girl, struggling with a title that did not quite fit her. "It's me they want. It's me he was sent to kill. And I am Okashira."

As she runs she thinks of his betrayal and she wonders if it was all just one big lie. She remembers, too, his gift of the lovely red kimono. What a fool she was indeed, to fall for such a ploy! She had thought herself beyond such childish things. What would Aoshi-sama say if he knew? she wonders. But she supposes it no longer matters.

She knows what she must do. No one crosses the Oniwabanshuu and gets away with it. No one. She knows what she must do, but can she bring herself to do it? She knows she must, for the sake of her Oniwaban.

But then she thinks of the kiss, and she knows she cannot kill him.


He was waiting for her.

She stopped, panting for breath, staring at the man she thought she had come to know, but perhaps never had all along. She could not read his face, or his ki. She could sense nothing but emptiness.

"What happened, Soujirou?" she burst out suddenly. It was as if the dam walling back all her emotions had suddenly burst open, and she found that she could not stop. "I trusted you, damn it, I trusted you!"

"I found my answers, Makimachi-san," he replied, smiling at her.

"Did you really?" she demanded. She realized that she was sobbing.

He inclined his head slightly as he reached for his sword, smile not even flickering once as he did so.

"Then tell me, what did you find?" she whispered hoarsely. "Because I don't believe that. You're not like this. I know you're not like this. Please... tell me the truth... Please... don't lie to me anymore!"

But he ignored her, and disappeared into a blur. Misao leaped onto a nearby rooftop, matching his speed. She had not wasted away the past ten years sitting around idly. She had trained and trained until she thought she might die and then trained some more, until movement itself became the very air she breathed. They were racing, she realized. Racing across the roofs the way she had promised they would, that gentle summer night by the river.

She ran and she ran until she flew. Once or twice she tossed shuriken at him, but he was too fast, as she expected. Once or twice he came so near she could almost feel his soft breath against her neck, the cold steel against her skin. She thought of all that her Jiya and Aoshi-sama had taught her, and emptied her mind until she calmed.

She was growing exhausted already. She knew she could not run forever. She knew, strong as she had become, she still couldn't beat him, couldn't beat his speed, his talent. The legendary Shukuchi of the Tenken.

But there was still a chance, still a way. It was the only way. She stopped, panting slightly, waiting to see his response. He instantly skidded to a stop a few feet from her and cocked his head to one side, looking for all the world like a little puppy beckoning his master to play. She took a deep breath, preparing herself.

Her last chance.

"What did I find?" he said suddenly. He laughed, lunging forward to slash wildly at her before she had a chance to move. But it was a crazed, joyless laughter. He was angry, she realized. She had never seen him angry before. She leapt away again, keeping the distance between them, startled at this new turn.

"What did I find?" he repeated. "I found a world where the elderly suck away the lives of their sons and daughters just so that they may prolong their own, clinging on desperately to the last of their pitiful wasted years; a world where the young heartlessly abandon their own ill parents to avoid turning into the monsters they have seen and feared and yet have already become themselves; where wives cheat on their husbands and husbands beat their wives while their babies lie forgotten and crying in the cold; where even children will murder other children for a bone stolen from a stray dog, and their mothers stand by and watch!"

"Iya!" cried Misao involuntarily, hand gripping tightly around the handle of a kunai. "You're wrong!"

"Himura was wrong. Shishio-san was wrong!" He was screaming now, and no longer smiling. "There is only one truth -- the truth of Survival! Strong or weak, it doesn't matter. In this dark world, all you can do is to do whatever you can to survive. And if you can't do that, then you die!"

"No, you're wrong! You're wrong, and you know it!" she screamed back at him, struggling to keep her sudden tears from flowing. She threw the kunai at him, missing on purpose by a hair. The blade buried itself into the roof with a thud. "Things always eventually change for the better... But they won't change if all you do is wait there for the end to come! Even in the darkest times, we have to keep going on, and live, and hope! It's not just about survival -- it's about... living. Living, Soujirou! You have to believe! Although the world may seem cold and cruel at times, it's not always like that! " And then, more softly, she added, "Not everyone is like that... And there is goodness to be found in every person, no matter how hard you must look to find it."

"Isn't that a bit naïve, Makimachi-san?"

"Not everyone is like that," she whispered, "and people change. People can change. Not everyone is like that... Aoshi-sama wasn't like that. I'm not like that. You're not like that."

She wasn't sure if he heard. He let loose a bloodcurdling yell and charged.

Her end was coming now, she knew. There was no escape. But she was prepared. The yakuza had been destroyed beyond recovery, at least for now. She knew this in her heart. She had faith in it. The Aoiya onmitsu could deal with the remaining members easily enough on their own. Her Oniwaban would survive and live on through the blank future of their beloved country, just as her Aoshi-sama had... She knew her Aoshi-sama would be proud of her.

She could feel the wind closing in on her, sense the blade lowering towards her throat.

And then hesitation, the briefest of pauses. Time froze, and for a moment she caught a glimpse of his blue, blue eyes, glistening strangely, before pure reflexes kicked in.

Seizing the opening she had been given, she thrust her last kunai into his side.

A look of shock blossomed on his face. His hand loosened its grip on the sword it held, and the blade clattered down at his side. He staggered for a moment, teetering for what seemed like an eternity, before tumbling over the edge of the roof.

She ran to catch him as he fell, a strange hot wetness trailing down her cheeks as the wind blew back her hair.

They collapsed to the cold earth together in silence, like two dark birds descended gracefully from the skies.

"It's so strange..." he gasped as he lay there, gazing up at her with eyes glazed over with a terrible sadness and terror and helplessness all at once. "I couldn't, I couldn't..."

"Baka," she whispered, cradling his head gently in her lap, now stained with his blood and hers combined. "Oh, Sou-chan, why? Why?"

But he did not answer. Perhaps he could not.

In the distance, she thought she saw a great white crane, lifting and flying off into the rising sun. And suddenly, she knew what she had to do.

With a heavy heart she wiped the tears from her eyes and leaned down to his face, brushing her fingers gently through his tangled hair, caked with blood and sweat and mud. "Daijoubu, ne, Sou-chan," she murmured softly. "Daijoubu."

"It's raining... just like that time..."

"Daijoubu, daijoubu ne..."


She closed her eyes.

She smiled.


I actually started writing this about a year ago, but only recently unearthed it again and now finished it. The style surprised me -- I don't usually write like this, and I'm not sure the result is as effective as I wanted. I mean, I bet everyone saw that coming. I tried not to make the clues too obvious, but they're pretty darn obvious anyway. :P And it's long... but not really long enough or complex enough plot-wise to warrant separate chapters, imo. Although maybe it would have been more effective if I had made it multi-chapter and developed certain parts more. Bah. I'm lazy. There're just way too many things I can find to complain about in this piece. Sigh.

Makes a nice contrast to "Butterflies" tho, ne? :P

I hate making Soujirou and Misao mere clones of Kenshin and Kaoru, as writers of this pairing so often tend to do. (That's why I love writing MiSo. So much unexploited potential!) So I tried to bring out their own distinct personalities here, particularly in regards to Misao. (Boy, I love ruthless!Misao. Hehe. Which I think is one of the main traits that sets her apart from Kaoru, and is apparent even in canon, although not terribly obvious. I want to read more ruthless!Misao that has nothing to do with a romantic involvement with Aoshi. :P) Not sure how it turned out, though. Besides, I've always wanted to play with the possibility that Sou went down one of the other paths when he went on his little soul-searching journey. Hehe.

Left the ending ambiguous on purpose, but I think there are enough hints embedded within the rest of the story for you to figure out what Misao's final decision was. :-) Yeah, I'm evil. Deal. XP