Drabble. Aoshi and Misao in 500 words, with titles excluded, of course. Rurouni Kenshin, to my great disappointment, is not mine.
A Telling of Other Worlds
She watches tongues of orange skin spiral onto the table, discarded without a second thought as he cradles the pulp gently, like he would an infant's head. Okon has bought some oranges, he tells her, and the information nudges a path to the back of her mind, heard yet temporarily forgotten. As he pulls the last of the skin away, his fingers pinch into the fruit, and a trickle makes it way down the base of his thumb, the inside of his wrist. The air around them sharpens with the slightest tang. Misao feels that trickle making its way through her.
She tells herself that fascination is enough. The orange is only embellishment.
2- (secrets kept from waking)
"What do you dream of?" she asks of him one morning, before she wanders into his view.
"Dreams rarely disturb my sleep," he lies. He dreams of steel and crimson and burning flesh, and nightmares like his have no room in a girl's thoughts.
"And rarely," her voice turns slightly teasing, she must be in a good mood (has she always been this impish?), "when they do…?"
"I dream of shades of gray, too unremarkable to be of interest to any waking man," he replies.
She looks thoughtful. "I have heard that we only remember part of our dreams. You must dream of so little, Aoshi-sama, to not remember anything at all."
Oh, but he remembers.
Sometimes, when Aoshi dreams of quiet, he sees the impatient flash of blue, a trail of braided black.
He does not tell her this.
3 - (a sliver of the heart is still as beautiful)
Misao is tired of waiting.
It is true what they say, she realizes, that the heart grows weary. When love goes unreciprocated for so long it is whittled down to a sliver of what it once was, a different emotion bearing the guise it has worn for years now simply because it has known no other way of being.
She thinks all of this as she watches him at his prayers, a little angry that he knows she is watching him and does nothing, a little sad that it matters to her still.
Tomorrow, she thinks. I will stop waiting tomorrow.
4 - (watered moon)
The rains have earlier bruised the streets with pockmarks and puddles, but Misao pays them no mind now, so Aoshi lets her dance on ahead into the clear evening.
The thought of loving her has not wholly escaped him. It is not difficult, he knows. Perhaps it is possible that he loves her even now, in some small measure. He ponders words like propriety and consequence and maybe, maybe, fear, and acknowledges that words only matter when he wants them to.
Then she stops and turns, a luminous smile cresting on her face.
At his foot, a puddle ripples, blissful in thinking that it has caught the moon in its gaze.
Aoshi pities the fool who presumes a watered imitation could ever mirror the heavens. He shakes his head and feels very human.
5 - (full circle)
She takes the fruit he offers, round and urgent like the world.