Musings of a Different Kind

By: Shin Sankai

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It was a rare occasion for Misao to be graced with a shirtless Aoshi and that rare occasion had come on a humid evening.

Over the three years he'd been back at the Aoiya, placed back in charge of the Oniwabanshuu with her as his second in command, Misao could count the number of times she'd seen the now 29 year old half naked on one hand.

It still took her breath away.

Misao had awoken from a very provocative dream. Even though she had had these particular dreams for about two years now, it still didn't stop the pounding of her heart, the heaviness in her breath and the redness in her cheeks or the throbbing down below. Every time the dream decided to plague her mind, Misao would snap awake after it was all over and venture to the bathhouse to cool off.

Tonight happened to be that night once again.

The full moon was high in the sky, indicating it was around 1 or 2 in the morning and no other members were meant to be up this late. However, as Misao was heading back to the Aoi-ya, she found Aoshi on the grass at the back of the residence in Okina's garden moving in an almost dreamy sort of way to a specific kata he himself had created.

His bronze skin glistened in the moonlight, slick and shiny as he broke a slight sweat while swaying here and there, bare feet swishing through the grass and yet he never made a sound at all. The long training of a true experienced ninja would never make a sound.

As Misao stood in the shadows of the trees, her breath caught when Aoshi snapped his head around, his gleaming green eyes staring right at her. She observed as he fully turned to face her now, powerful arms lowering to the sides of his broad muscular chest.

"Can you not sleep Misao?" His deep sensual voice flowed to her like the breeze, silently beckoning her to come forth from the shadows. Misao was instantly drawn, had been that way for as long as she could remember.

"I'm sorry I disturbed you Aoshi-sama." Misao muttered back, keeping her voice to a quiet low whisper not needing to wake anyone else. She wanted this time for them. These days she didn't have to be the one to start conversations. Aoshi was quite capable of bringing up things that he felt were necessary to say and Misao was even more pleased as he seemed more content to talk with her then anyone else.

"It is quite warm this evening." Aoshi made a general observation before bending down to pick up a white towel and draped it over his shoulders before heading for one of the stone benches and sat down.

"Is that why you are up?" Misao took the chance and sat beside the man who'd stolen her heart from the very beginning.

"These days I'm stuck in the office dealing with paperwork and rarely get the chance to train anymore."

"You still do reconnaissance work Aoshi-sama." Misao voiced back, her eyes lifting to gaze at his profile as he stared silently up into the starry sky. She took in a deep breath, her eyes closing just for a moment to relish in his musky scent and his handsome features.

"True, but this is a peaceful era after all and I feel I might loose my skills if I don't keep up with training. This time of the evening is the only spare time I have." Misao couldn't help but snort softly, even if her eyes were still closed and she hadn't noticed Aoshi's were currently looking down at her.

"You wouldn't forget even if you tried to Aoshi-sama. Its in your blood through and through." A quirk of the lips was Aoshi's answer, even if Misao hadn't picked it up. "And besides," Misao drew her eyes open and Aoshi's lips were back to normal. "I'd kick your butt if you ever quit." She let off a small laugh, just imagining her smaller form conquering over Aoshi and she kicked her legs gaily before crossing one over the other. His experienced eyes didn't miss the thin material of her plain beige yukata drop away to reveal the milky white skin of her legs either.

"I'm sure you would Misao." Though Aoshi knew Misao's skills would never surpass his own, the thought did however bring warmth to his heart. Misao was after all a very expressive young woman and within her was a fire of passion that grew with each passing year. Once Misao set her mind to something, she was going to see it through to the end. She may have thought that being a ninja was in his blood, but he too knew that it was in her blood as well. She was not your average young woman, but Aoshi was glad for it. He just couldn't see a timid Misao secretly giggling with other women at the antics of young men trying to woo her into marriage.

"Aoshi-sama?" He broke from those thoughts and glanced down at her. She was chewing on her lip, which meant something was troubling her. Misao had been doing that action since she were a child when he helped raise her all those years ago and it never left. At first, as they began to discover just who they were again, since 10 years had gone by, Misao at first had found it difficult to come to him with problems. Now though, he was the first she would come to if anything were troubling her.

"There is no need to hesitate Misao. You know I will listen to you." And that was one of the many reasons she loved him. He knew her better then anyone it seemed, even if he'd been gone for a decade of her life. They'd talked for many hours, for many days and many weeks about the past and it seemed they had finally caught up to the now.

"Do you…think me an old maid Aoshi-sama?" Misao had just caught the slight widening of his eyes, this meaning he had not been expecting this type of question. Usually it had been about something Omasu, Okon or Okina had stated or it was about a particular reconnaissance they were currently pursuing for the government.

"You only just turned 20 last month Misao. I hardly think that is considered being old." He watched her purse her lips, she fully knowing he was trying to divert away from the question.

"I can be more blunt Aoshi-sama." Her ears pricked when a heavy sigh broke from his lips.

"Do you think of marriage often Misao?" The question about being an old maid wouldn't have arisen if Misao's thoughts hadn't gone past the 'M' word. It was true that many young women were married off around 15 or 16 years old, begun families the same year they were married or a year after, but Misao wasn't one of those normal women. She didn't lead the same life styles they did.

"Well, no, not really." For a moment, Aoshi could have sworn he held his breath, silently hoping her question would be a flat out 'no' and yet there seemed to be hesitation within her answer. It made him slightly uneasy.

"I'm not getting any younger and sometimes I think the Makimachi name really should continue on very soon."

"When you marry Misao, you will take your husbands name, therefore the Makimachi name, in a small way will die with you being the last Makimachi."

"Not unless I just get pregnant and not marry the guy." Aoshi narrowed his eyes at her immature response and turned to look down at Misao. Her own eyes had widened at the sour look upon his face.

"That is a very ridiculous thing to say."

"Gomen nasai…" Misao mumbled out, feeling slightly ashamed as she placed her hands in her lap and began to fidget under Aoshi's scrutinising gaze.

"Do not dwell on the matter too much Misao. You are an innocent are you not?" At the perplexed look on her face, Aoshi knew instantly she had not had any lovers in her 20 years. "What I mean to say is, you haven't taken a lover have you?"

"What? No!" She instantly flushed and turned her head away from Aoshi. She'd never thought in all her years he would so openly ask that question and she had never thought she'd blurt out the truth either.

"Do not feel embarrassed Misao."

"Are you…innocent Aoshi-sama?" The whispered question twitched against Aoshi's heart and he felt his body relax as his bare right arm brushed against Misao's clothed left one.

"No, my first sexual experience was just before I turned 15 and became Okashira." Misao's eyes widened at that answer. She watched Aoshi lift his left knee and rested his head against it. It almost looked like he was reminiscing…and looking quite young, but still very gorgeous while doing so.

"Was it…" Misao choked on her question, not sure how far she should take this conversation and yet her heart beat wildly in her chest, demanding more answers to her foggy questions. "Did you enjoy it?"

"Do you want the truth?" Misao had to strain her ears to hear his mumble and though she was dreading what he was going to say, she felt her head nod before she could do anything else.

Warm breath fanned against the side of her face, Misao's heart thumping loudly within her chest while Aoshi huskily whispered into her ear, he definitely making sure only she would be the one to hear this.

"I was scared." It sent a shiver down Misao's spine. Her eyes glanced to Aoshi's and a small half curve was against his usually hardened lips. "I hadn't a clue what I was doing and I'm certain the woman could have been twice my age."

"That's gross."

"I'm nearly twice your age."

"No, your nine years older then me, there's a difference." Misao all but scoffed lightly as she folded her arms under her plump breasts.

They both fell silent for a moment before Misao raised her feet to plant them against the stone bench she sat on, wrapped her arms around her shins and hugged them to her chest.

"Aoshi-sama, is it wrong to have dreams?"

"Everyone has dreams Misao."

"No I mean…sexual dreams." She hid her head against her knees, not wanting Aoshi to witness the redness of her cheeks once more.

"Is that what originally woke you?" He watched Misao rub her head against her knees as an affirmative nod. Her unbound blue-black hair cascaded around her in a way that begged to be caressed and yet Aoshi fought the urge to do so.

"There is nothing wrong with dreams like that Misao." Aoshi placed his hand on Misao's head, for comfort more then anything. "Do you not like them?"

"Ah, well, its not that. Its more like, I get embarrassed because…"

"Because?"

"The person, the man in the dreams, he's a real person, not a fantasy like I've heard Okon and Omasu murmur about a couple of times."

"I'm sure you are as curious as any other young woman, but would never indulge unless it was with someone you love."

"You know me too well Aoshi-sama, it's embarrassing." Aoshi finally let his fingers glide softly against Misao's tresses.

"Do not think of yourself as an old maid Misao, you have many years left within you after all. Before you know it someone will ask for your hand in marriage, someone who will want to love you, to protect you and take care of you. Within that you'll be able to experience everything from your dreams…and more."

"Gee Aoshi-sama, was that a proposal?" Misao jokingly voiced, having finally lifted her head to see Aoshi had risen from the stone bench and stood with his back to her, his glossy hair blowing freely within the evening breeze.

"Perhaps…" Misao eyes grew wide and her breath hitched in her throat. "It is late, you should retire to your quarters."

Misao shakily rose from the bench, slipped her geta back on and made her way to the porch. Just before she could pry the shoji open, Aoshi murmuring her name made her stop to turn and look back at him.

There he was, still shirtless, still as beautiful as ever and yet there was a softness in his eyes, an almost smile against his lips that she'd never witnessed before.

"Prepare yourself." At the tilt of her head, the lost yet adorable look in her eyes, Aoshi instantly knew his almost unthinkable and what seemed like an irrational decision was going to end up being the right one in the end. "One day, I'll ask you to listen to my proposal." The smile broke against her lips, and her eyes dewed slightly at this confession.

"I'll wait…" Misao slipped inside the Aoi-ya and headed upstairs to her quarters to dream different dreams this time.

Aoshi himself, remained outside for a little while longer as he gazed up at the night sky, knowing four familiar companions would be looking down upon him now…and perhaps even smiling just like he was as he went back into another kata.

Xx The End xX

Notes: Ah, I have absolutely no idea where the hell this came from. I'm as busy as all hell these days. I finally found full time work again and its really hectic. However, during the weekends for the next 5 weeks I might be able to start typing some things up again. Maybe…