In Err, My Suffering

Part V of V


Deciding what to do about it was one matter and actually doing it was another, she discovered.

Aoshi-sama was at the Temple, where he'd been all morning, and she was at the Aoiya worrying about it.

If she was going to go talk to him, how would it end up? Would they end up getting intimate again? Jiya had said they couldn't... but it wasn't as if the old man could stop them.

She wasn't especially unhappy about it though. She assumed that Aoshi-sama had gotten the same warning as her. But if she was going to do something casual with him, as suggested, what should it be?

Lunch, maybe?

Well, it didn't sound completely off the wall. As long as he agreed. What if he looked at her like her face had turned green? But then... why would he? Lunch was normal.

She decided it was all about the delivery. She just needed to be casual. She stood up and headed out. The Temple was relatively close and Misao was grateful for the fresh air...

Or she would have been were it not stagnant outside. She was sweating by the time she reached the Temple. He was not sitting in the middle of the floor in his meditating position as she expected, but on the front steps, watching her approach.

It was early afternoon. Today was the day. She as going to invite Aoshi to lunch with her in a nice, casual place. A restaurant! The Shirobeko was perfect. It was perfectly mainly because it wasn't the Aoiya.

She didn't want Okina to see her with Aoshi.

"Hello, Aoshi-sama." She smiled and laced her fingers together behind her back as she tried not to fidget. "How about lunch?"

For a moment, he merely stared at her as though contemplating where she was hiding lunch on her person.

"Lunch?"

She nodded. "Right. I thought maybe you would like a break from routine? A trip to the Shirobeko would be fun, besides have you been there since you came back?"

"No, I have not," he replied sedately.

She could see the sheen of perspiration on his face, his forehead, and temples. "How about we go then?" she asked, her voice uplifted with a false note of cheerfulness. Her face had that stretched feeling one developed when their smile was fake.

He stood up and she felt her hopes rise just a tad. "I decline, thank you."

"Hello!"

"Good afternoon!"

Misao turned to see Omasu and Okon coming toward them, bundles in their arms.

"Misao! Excellent! I was looking for you." Okon pulled her aside and then outside the temple and asked her to do her a favor. The plan was transparent, the two women wanted to get rid of her and being stung by Aoshi's rejection, she just wanted to go.

So she did.

She barely heard Okon's "favor" she suspected it really didn't matter anyway.

Aoshi watched as Okon stepped back in and noticed that Misao was not with her. The two women looked at him almost predatorily.

"So, Aoshi-sama, we'd like to have a little chat. We even brought lunch."

They smiled but he sensed the afternoon would be far from pleasant. He wondered, briefly, where Misao had disappeared to and if it was his response to her invitation or Okon's interference that had somehow sent her away.

He sat himself back down and frowned but said nothing. He didn't imagine a tsunami would keep those two from whatever mission they'd taken upon themselves.

They sat down and began unpacking food. He saw them cast a few glances at one another as if they were unsure who should begin talking first. It was Okon who took up the reigns and faced him.

"We want to know what your intentions are for Misao," she stated bluntly.

"That's right. She's… very confused right now. We want to know if you proposed to her and she said no."

He paused thinking. Had he proposed? He supposed he had in a sort of way, it had been an offer.

"She told me that I couldn't decide what she wanted and that my offer of marriage wouldn't give her what she wanted."

The women both nodded and he thought they looked very strangely proud. Had they been coaching her or something?

"And what does she want?" Omasu prompted.

He hesitated again. Did he want to discuss this with them? No, but was he getting anywhere on his own?

Equally, no.

"She doesn't want me to leave," he answered. It was the most immediate thing to come to mind.

"Is that it?" Okon asked. "What do you want from her?"

He narrowed his eyes at Okon. "Nothing. I just want her."

"Have you told her that?"

"No," he turned his gaze to the floor. "I cannot."

"Well, why not?" Omasu asked.

"I can honor her requests of me, but I am not worthy enough to make my own of her."

He missed the glance between the two women. "Is that because of your leaving her? Or because of the fight with Okina? Or because of whatever happened after the fight with Okina?"

He gasped and it sounded like a hiss. "She told you of that?"

"Not until very recently." They both frowned at him. "She was too busy defending you and your state of mind to really tell us anything. She changed the topic. Did you hurt her then?"

"I always hurt her. I do nothing else," he replied acidly.

"Then maybe you ought to stop!" Okon growled, her voice rising. "Tell her! Go up to her and say, 'I want to marry you Misao.' That would be good enough for her! She doesn't expect flowers and romance from you, she'll take anything from you, absolutely anything and you give her nothing!"

"Misao has lived on a lot of things, mostly hope. For a long time though she's been different and we haven't been sure why… but the other night when she alluded to you being intimate so long ago… we understood one thing perfectly. She doesn't live in hope anymore, now she just lives in confusion and doubt and its all because of you, and it always is," Omasu spoke sedately, her voice and gaze steady.

"I tried," he answered. "I offered her marriage, she turned me away."

"No," Okon interjected. "She didn't turn you away! LISTEN to me! Misao said no because she thinks you're only offering out of some misguided idea of what you think she wants. She doesn't trust what she thinks you want from her, she doesn't think you LOVE HER!"

"And we know you do," Omasu picked up, her voice much gentler than that harsh, accusing growl that Okon was using. "We know you wouldn't take things to this degree with Misao if you didn't love her. Misao loves you a great deal and you have a complex history, one that has underscored that love of hers with doubt. She's unsure she can trust your heart, she doesn't think you understand it. Everything she thinks is doubted, she can't be sure of it."

"Is she unsure if she loves me then?" he asked, his voice oddly hollow.

"No." It was the first time Okon sounded calm once more. "She very much loves you. You don't stop loving someone because they hurt you once or maybe even lots of times and certainly not her."

They lapsed into silence and passed around food. No one ate much and they left soon after. Aoshi's head was a mess.


"She doesn't think you LOVE HER!"

"We know you wouldn't take things to this degree with Misao if you didn't love her."

"She's unsure she can trust your heart, she doesn't think you understand it."

"She very much loves you."

Did he love her? They seemed so certain. What if they were wrong? He looked away from the window?

Did he love her?

Of course, he thought. He did… he did love her but they were still wrong. They thought he wouldn't do this to her, that he wouldn't hurt her because he loved her, but that wasn't enough.

He'd always hurt her, he hurt her still…

In the forest, he'd hurt her. He'd shared his suffering with her and then left her to suffer alone… he hung his head.

But she still loved him…

"You don't stop loving someone because they hurt you once or maybe even lots of times…"

When he got home then, he would talk to her. Maybe it would help.

Evening brought him back to the Aoiya and he found dinner was just being set out. Misao, he noted, was absent. He sat for several long minutes before looking up at Okina.

"Where is Misao?"

The old man's eyebrow's rose as he reached for his rice bowl and chopsticks. "She said she was tired and would eat a bit later on in the evening. I saw no reason to deny her that."

Aoshi could think of no reason to leave the dinner table and so he stayed and ate. Silence hung over them like a cloud, no one seemed to have anything to say. In a feeble attempt to rescue them all from the uncomfortable silence caused by Misao's absence and Aoshi's presence, Shiro began talking about a few of the troublesome customers they'd had earlier in the day. Aoshi's mind drifted away, far away from the table.

His mind drifted to a forest of bamboo and pine and a cabin full of blood and the feel of a girl beneath him.

Suffering alone… had he left her to suffer alone? What, he wondered would have happened had she become pregnant from that disaster? But he hadn't cared then, what would happen if she became pregnant now? He was still behaving recklessly without thinking of the consequences.

He stood abruptly and the gentle chatter that had settled over the table came to an abrupt halt.

"Excuse me."

He turned and quickly left.

Suffering alone…

Irresponsibility…

Pregnancy…

Misao…

He scaled the stairs and knocked on her door impatiently. They needed to speak now. She didn't answer and he didn't hear her inside so he pulled open the door. He found her futon mat was spread on the floor and she was in bed, apparently sleeping.

Should he wake her?

He thought it over a moment, standing very still in her doorway, his palm pressed to the wood frame.

Yes.

He should.

He stepped fully inside and snapped the door closed behind him. They needed to resolve it now.

Tonight.

He stalked toward her bed feeling like a hunter. He would not be distracted by her charms tonight.

Tonight… he held onto the word like a lifeline.

He kneeled down at her bedside and touched her fabric covered shoulder and shook. He couldn't bring himself to raise his voice and speak to her yet. He felt his courage seeping out of him.

"Mmmph," she moaned and he immediately moved back pulling himself up onto his feet. "What is it?" she asked sleepily.

"Misao," he spoke sternly. "We need to talk."

"Talk?" she asked groggily. She rolled over and yawned, rubbing her eyes. She looked young once more and he quickly looked away. He didn't want to see her this way.

"Yes. Talk."

He heard her blankets shift and rumple and he assumed she stood. When she didn't say anything he glanced back to see her sitting up, one shoulder of her yukata slipping.

"What are we talking about?" she asked sleepily.

"Things," he replied. He needed to tell her. How was he to say it? What was 'it'?

"Marriage," he stated bluntly. "We need to get married."

That woke her up quickly. He half turned to watch her climb to her feet. She seemed a bit shaky. "What?"

He turned fully. "I want to marry you. No thinking about it, no rejecting. We are getting married."

She just stared at him, blinking, looking as if she couldn't believe her eyes or her ears.

He turned toward her with cold, glinting eyes. "I can spend the rest of my life atoning to you for what I've done, but I will not do it any longer outside of a marriage."

She narrowed her eyes at him. "Are you threatening me?" her voice wasn't quite a growl but there was an edge to it. He was glad to see she wasn't about to cry.

"Threatening?"

"Threatening to leave me if I don't agree to marry you?" her voice had hushed to a low whisper. It might have been horror in her voice, it might've been something else.

Would that work? Dare he risk bluffing it? Was it worth anything to stay here if she said "no"?

He stood before her, stiff and silent. "I am telling you what I want."

She gasped.

"I want to marry you, to stay at the Aoiya with you, to have children and live forever with you. I can't give you anymore than that." He felt frayed around his precious edges. He felt as though he couldn't explain it, as if words, no words, were ever good enough. "If my word isn't good enough for you, I have nothing else."

"It's not that your word isn't good enough …" she started. "I'm just worried you'll suddenly decide you'll leave again and I won't be able to stop you."

Aggravation pooled inside of him. Why couldn't he convince her? Why did it always require more than he had?

"You were a child then, I could not have taken you."

She pouted. "I understand that."

"No." He whirled toward her having stalked away. "I don't think you do. You are more caught up with me trying to protect you as a child than you are about my taking your innocence away from you?"

She shook her head. "Everyone grows up Aoshi-sama, I wouldn't have remained a virgin forever, I'm glad I'm not anymore. I liked doing that with you, maybe not that particular time, that was a little scary. You're a scary man sometimes, you were scary then. You're only scary now in my head and that's okay too, but what happened then can't happen like that again with us."

He grit his teeth together. His jaw muscles were tense. "Why not?"

"Because I'm not a virgin anymore."

"You think just because you're no longer chaste that intercourse won't ever again be painful for you?"

She shook her head. "No, if you wanted to hurt me, you could, I understand that. I was thinking, you were a different man then, your eyes were black, Aoshi-sama, like night. Dark and black and cold. Besides, I don't have nightmares about us being together that day, Aoshi-sama, I have nightmares about you killing me because that's what you looked like then."

He gasped softly, inaudibly, she could see his lips part in surprise.

"I'm not worried you'll hurt me, you're not that man anymore and I'm not afraid of you. Just sometimes when I wake up I feel shaky because it's scary to see someone you love put a sword through your chest and feel pain when you wake up, but it doesn't mean I think it'll happen and it doesn't mean I expect it to."

He stepped back from her, horrified, appalled.

No…

He hadn't known that. Hadn't… kill her?

Never.

Had he looked that way then?

Yes… he knew he had. Death, he'd had eyes of death.

"I do want to marry you, Aoshi-sama. My bad dreams will go away eventually. If they don't, does it even matter? It's not like you can change that… I can't even change it. I just want things to settle."

He backed away and settled onto the floor beside the door. Turning his head downward, hiding his face in the shadow, he spoke again. "Will you marry me?"

"Of course. Can I touch you?"

He raised his head, surprised she was again asking him that question. "Why? Why do you feel you cannot?"

She brought her arms up to hold onto her elbows. "Everything about you just screams 'don't touch'. I don't know." She sighed and sat down on her futon, pushing away her sheets.

"You can touch me…" he paused. "Anywhere you like."

She half turned. "Anywhere? You mean like anywhere on your body or anywhere in the world?"

In the dim light, she could not see the gentle tilt of his lips. "Both." Nor could he see her answering smile.

"Well all right then, I'll take you up on that one." He didn't need to see anything. The smile was in her tone.

Relief.

Ease.

Happiness.

Victory.

"Stop calling me Aoshi-sama." He stood. "I am not worthy of it."

He was reaching for the door and had pulled it open a bare inch when her voice stopped him.

"Aoshi-sama, wait!" She bit her lip. "Oooh, I mean… Sorry… I mean, Aoshi… That's weird sounding," she mused to herself as she scrambled up onto her feet.

He turned back to her as she walked toward him on bare feet.

"Okay, consider it a deal. I won't call you Aoshi-sama and I get to touch you anywhere in any place that I want. So, if the Kyoto police arrest me for public indecency I expect you to come and get me."

Reaching for her, he curled his arm around her narrow shoulders. She tilted her head up toward him while the fingers of his opposite hand traced along her jawbone. This tiny woman that she was… How was it possible that any one person could make another person feel so… whole?

How did people go through life incomplete and not know they were incomplete until they met a person who made them feel… Was there a word? A fullness… A confidence, a happiness that hadn't existed outside that person?

He tilted her head a bit more and lowered his mouth to hers, relishing the softness of her lips. The wetness of her mouth, the warmth of her skin, the gentle grip of her hands… Why would he want to ever do without it? The gentle kiss deepened as he slid downward to his knees, pressing his lips more ardently against hers. He wanted to breathe her in… to taste her forever, to be never without her flavor against his tongue.

"Misao…" he groaned it against her lips, into her mouth, he hoped into the very soul of her.

Never… ever… never forget…

How could there be so much… so much want simply of that other person? The thing men loved and fought and died for… lust… love… women… life… Abruptly, he pulled back from her. Gently, he cradled her head between his hands.

So small, so delicate…

"I will inform Okina."

She nodded absently and he forced himself onto his feet. He couldn't, wouldn't, stay with her no matter how his body begged for her attention. Okina, he thought, remember Okina…

No matter how much he longed to let her touch him until he was so sated he could not drag himself from her floor, he wouldn't… He turned toward the door and stepped out.


Two weeks past.

Agonizing weeks.

Misao had been grouchy and snappish. Aoshi had been quiet and withdrawn. It was what no one expected following news of their betrothal. Okina had been thrilled, all but dancing around the Aoiya and the others had been happy.

It was the couple that was most unhappy with the arrangement. In the two weeks since the announcement, they'd both been behaving oddly. If they noticed the glances of the others, they gave no indication of it.

When Misao stood up moodily and glared, the others turned their gazes into their rice bowls.

"Aoshi-sama, I want to talk to you," she demanded. "Upstairs. Right now."

Without waiting, she stormed away and her footsteps were easily audible as she stomped up the wooden stairs toward her room. Everyone was wisely silent as Aoshi stood and followed after her with none of the anger.

He had no sooner stepped into the room than she turned away from the window she'd been standing beside. She whirled quickly on the ball of her foot and glared. Her anger filled the room like a sticky summer heat.

"This… is… stupid!"

This?

"Why do we have to do this?" she continued. "What kind of idiot needs a MONTH to plan a stupid wedding? And even if I do have a wait a MONTH, Aoshi-sama, why can't I touch you? You said-"

"I also asked you not to call me that," he gently interrupted.

She gave him a look and continued on her tirade. "Well it isn't as if you're holding up your end of the deal, remember? Remember that? Anywhere and anywhere and you've been avoiding me like I've caught some ugly disease!"

He shook his head gently. "Misao, please. It is a small request to wait until we are wed."

She huffed and crossed her arms. "But I want you to touch me, Aoshi-sama…"

"Don't…" he replied, his voice.

"I want your hands all over me, Aoshi-sama."

"Misao-"

"I want to drag you to the floor and crawl in your lap-"

"Misao-"

"I want to strip you out of those clothes and-"

"Misao-"

"…and TOUCH you, Aoshi-sama, and I mean it that way this time." She stood on her tip toes, curling her hands in the material at his chest. "I want you in my hands, Aoshi-sama."

His breath was caught in his lungs, trapped there by the sudden, violent surge of desire. He wanted to grab her by the wrists, toss her to the floor, and have her… Couldn't she see that? Did she think she was the only one frustrated? Did she have to torture him so? To tempt him?

He pushed her away, she stumbled back a pace but no farther.

His cock throbbed painfully.

If she touched him… if she…

He had to leave.

Now.

Now, or he'd take her right here on the floor. Or the bed. Or against the wall.

Damn, he'd even take her in the hallway.

He was leaving.

Now.

"Go to bed, Misao."

The order was curt, but she showed no inclination of obeying him.

"Certainly, Aoshi-sama. Come with me."

Two weeks.

Two weeks of hell.

Another week to go.

"It will be worth it to wait."

She scowled. "Get out of my room."

"Misao-"

"OUT!"


They avoided each other for the rest of the week, dodging meals and sleeping at odd times of day. The others watched curiously but said nothing.

Misao wanted to drag her hands through her hair, pull out all the stupid little hairpins and rain them over the lavishly decorated tables. She appreciated the effort, she really did, but this wasn't some perfect fairy tale for her.

Or… it was… she was simply annoyed. Aoshi had been a positive ice block all week. It had gotten so bad she wondered, when the time came, if he was going to tell the priest marrying them he didn't want to marry her anymore.

Now, four hours after said ceremony, well and truly wed, Misao was annoyed, hungry, and a little tipsy. There had been the sake from the ceremony itself and then the six cups she'd had since she sat down.

It had been four hours.

Four hours.

They were still partying.

Thankfully, the party was small including few more than some Oniwabanshuu associates that had, mostly, already left, her Tokyo friends, and her immediate family.

Four hours was a long time, she thought.

A long time.

Especially when she wanted to get Aoshi upstairs and either kill him or tear off his clothes. She wasn't sure why it was bothering her so much, only that having been given permission to touch him and then having that privilege suddenly denied irked her. Plus, she liked him touching her. His not wanting to just… it was… it kind of hurt. Like he didn't want her anymore…

Aoshi had drank his obligatory sake and then refused to touch anymore. He wasn't talking to anyone, he wasn't partying, so why the hell couldn't they go to bed?

It had been FOUR hours!

She stood up. "I'm going to bed," she announced gruffly and started stalking toward the door and then right out it.


Aoshi watched Misao growl at Sano by the door and then disappear. If the way the young man was frowning was any indication, Misao had had nothing good to say to him. She had taken their… separation… especially poorly. Especially considering they hadn't been interacting regularly before his request to wait until they had wed.

She had been antsy, snappish and moody all day. He stood.

"I apologize for Misao, she's…had a difficult week."

The Tokyo party had only arrived the day before. They would know nothing of Misao's antics for the past three weeks and he saw no need to explain that to anyone. She would be over it by tomorrow, that he was certain of.

Kamiya Kaoru, however, was not keen to let the topic drop. "Is she unwell? She didn't mention feeling under the weather."

"Maybe it's just lady troubles," Megumi suggested, her voice not loud enough to carry beyond the small table.

Aoshi let that one go. He wouldn't even consider that until he had to.

"If you will excuse me, I'm going to retire."

There was a chorus of farewells tossed in his direction as he moved toward the door. Just beyond it, Sano was holding a jug of sake.

"Yo, Shinomori- you know your wife was threatening harm to my balls just a few minutes ago. I'd be careful, she's in a hell of a mood."

Aoshi's gaze flickered away from Sano toward the sound of footfalls to see Saitou step out. Who had invited him?

A loose curl of cigarette smoke rose into the air. "Che. Rooster, she's not interested in your balls."

Aoshi frowned and stepped away. "Goodnight."

He tried to collect his thoughts as he ascended the stairs. Would Misao be in her room or his? Suddenly, he realized they hadn't discussed it in their avid quest to avoid one another. In fact, they hadn't discussed anything after they agreed to get married.

Stopping by her room first, he knocked and slid open the door, peering inside.

Empty.

So she had gone to his room then.

Good.

He'd wanted her there anyway. Fantasies of her in his bed had plagued him all week. The bed, the floor, the windowsill…

Standing outside his doorway, he briefly wondered if she had gone somewhere else. Had she gotten angry and stormed outside instead? He slid open his door to find her standing by his futon. A double futon.

Apparently, Omasu or Okon had set up his room before hand, moving Misao's bedding to his room. Misao certainly hadn't done it. Okina had kept her locked away in a room downstairs with dressers and face artists all morning preparing for the ceremony.

She glared and turned away fiddling with something in her hair. He stepped in, sliding the door closed. Was she still angry? Even now?

He watched her yank at the hair sticks and pins holding up her elaborate hairstyle before his eyes dragged down her frame to the obi around her midsection. Raising his hands up, he gently touched his fingers toward it. He expected soft, but the cloth was thick and coarse. Gently, he pulled at it, sliding the material against itself, undoing the tucks and folds. As he unwound it from her, he discarded the ribbons and padding.

"Hurry! This thing is hot and I officially hate this obi, I feel like I'm wearing a huge pillow around my waist and I can't move my legs enough."

The material gathered around her ankles and she sighed as it finally peeled off of her. The breath was long, relieved. Reaching for the back of her collar, he tugged it down exposing more of her neck and then he leaned forward, bending over her to press his lips to her skin. She tensed as he kissed the back of her neck, flicking his tongue against the bone just under her flesh.

Pressing his hands to her shoulders he gathered the material, sliding her outer kimono off where it pooled at her elbows and off her hands. Abruptly, she shoved one elbow backward almost catching him in the abdomen. When he drew back, she spun around and threw her arms around his waist. His chest felt full of feeling. His skin tingled.

Reaching back, he unclasped her arms and leaned down so they were nose to nose. "Misao…" His voice was soft in the silent room. "Get naked."

For a moment, she seemed surprised at the bold request but then her lips curled and she stepped away from him sliding her hands behind her to nimbly untie the knots of her under kimono. He stepped back, pressing his back to the wall.

There were two low candles burning on the nearby table. He silently praised her forethought. He didn't want total darkness. She didn't sway or shimmy as she pulled at the clothes. There was no rush in her movements. Rather, she was led by caution and a sudden bout of shyness as she slowly disrobed, pulling away the final ties before her last slip parted and he saw pure, milky skin.

His mouth went dry and then immediately afterwards wet. He wanted to lick her from neck to hip.

"Off," he curtly ordered as she hesitated in slipping away the silky white slip.

In response, she let it slide from her shoulders where it pooled into a chalky puddle at her ankles. Self-consciously, she pulled her arms across her chest, shifting awkwardly. He wanted to quirk his lips at her. She had wanted this for weeks and now she was going to hide?

He pushed away from the wall sliding out of his black outer jacket, handing it to her. "Put this on."

More fantasy.

She slid the black garment over her white skin. No sooner had he glanced over her in the garment she was too tiny for did he fall on her with the grace of a battle axe. Her moan was swallowed, crushed by the hard pressure of his mouth. Lust coiled in his belly, burning him. His hands fisted in her hair knocking pins over the bedding, half tilting her hair as he dragged them down sliding under the silk to touch her skin.

Hot.

She was so hot.

He drew his hands down, curling his hands around her tiny hips.

Pushing.

Down.

Until her knees were on the floor and he tilted her back onto the bedding, her legs unfolding from beneath her. She made an ungraceful sound as she collapsed onto it.

Pulling away from her, he settled down, crossing his legs. He pulled at the ties of his own garments and her tiny hands jumped right in to assist, unwinding the sash at his waist and diving below the waistband the moment it was free.

His groan was an inhuman sound growled directly into her ear.

"Ready for me, Aoshi?"

Her voice was a hot thrill down his spine.

"Always," he gruffly answered. "In my lap, Misao."

She obeyed, spreading her legs over his, opening herself wide. Aoshi wondered if he could climax just looking at her. Taking her by the narrow hips, he aligned himself beneath her, and her above him, and slid himself in.

She was not ready for him and the grimace on her face reminded him abruptly that Misao, despite her eagerness, was still very inexperienced.

"Misao…"

Her eyes flicked open. A soft, blotchy flush had turned her cheeks and her neck pink.

"Ride me."

Blinking at him in puzzlement, Aoshi pressed his hands to her hips and lifted her. Her eyes went wide. "Oh."

She pushed herself back down, shifting her footing. Slowly, she moved, sliding herself awkwardly. Sliding his hands from her hips he leaned back, forcing himself not to touch her, not to move her against him hard.

Her movements were slow, a soft slide of flesh. He balled his hands into fists on the floor, not touching… not touching… if he touched her, he'd force her down onto him too hard.

A sudden shudder passed down his spine and his muscles twitched as she lowered herself down onto him fully. So warm inside… she squeezed him.

He felt compelled to watch, to stay still as she leaned back to press her palms to his thighs arching. His black jacket still hung from her shoulders, stark against her pearly skin. Groaning, she lifted herself up and then down again, testing his sanity with her movements. His mind was split into a thousand tiny threads, a thousand different thoughts, a thousand different sensations…

Lust…

Heat…

Cold…

Sweat…

She overwhelmed him.

"Aoshi-"

The "-sama" was lost as he leaned forward, lapping his tongue against her.

"Faster."

"Aoshi-sama…" she leaned forward suddenly, lifting herself up to bite his earlobe. "Oh… please…"

"Please what?" his words sounded much like groans.

"Please," she whispered softly.

In the span of a breath, she was pressed into the futon bedding, her skin curled softly into his black fabric overtop their linens and his hips thrust hard.

His mind curled and unfettered as his pleasure grew. Her hand curled in his cloth, her body, her heat surrounding him drove him nearly to madness.

"... ... ..."

Beneath him, she quieted, and he fell over her.

In the dimness of the room, they panted.

"…wife…" he whispered into her ear.

Her arms slid up to curl around him. The word whispered into the darkness seemed to slam doors closed, in his mind, he hadn't realized were open.

Wife.

He turned and pressed his back to the futon, laying her atop him.

His wife.

Married.

A deep seated contentment warmed his chest. He had her, this woman who loved him more than all else.

His nightmares and her nightmares…

Husband and wife.

She belonged to him. Through madness and murder and pain she had loved him. He, laying there and staring at the ceiling made a silent vow to always be with her.

Misao had been unfailingly loyal. He hoped. That moment, he prayed, to his ancestors, to God, that he should never ever fail her.

"'Husband', that's something I'll have to get used to," she murmured with a soft yawn.

"Tired?"

"No. Yeah. I feel energized and sleepy. Kind of heavy…"

"Do you fear sleeping beside me?" he dreaded her answer, but she was forthcoming.

"No. I want you to sleep beside me always," she answered softly. "Promise me you will."

Curling his arms around her he held her tight to his skin despite the sweat. "I will promise you anything."


AN: And that's the end. This has been done a while so I feel bad about not posting it until now. And the last scene was, uh, choppy? That's because this site doesn't allow lemons so it was... censored. My way of censoring is to remove keywords, phrases and sentences that are too... sensitive and I usually replace them with nothing so it breaks up the story a bit but you can figure it out okay. Thanks for reading.