The Choice

By Shin Sankai


"Misao…?" A deep voice called out to the teenager whose head of blue-black hair was the only thing sticking out from underneath a thick black comforter.

"Mm, five more minutes…" Came the muffled reply.

"No, its time to get up now." One blue eye cracked open to gaze sleepily up at her intruder who was standing prominently beside her queen size bed with arms folded over his chest.

"Gah, Aoshi-sama! What the hell are you doing in my room?" Makimachi Misao, aged 17, screeched as she made sure her comforter was well up to her neck so the man before her, with his stunning green eyes couldn't see her pyjama ensemble.

"You'll be late for school. Makimachi-sama asked me to make sure you got up." Misao fumed as she watched the pristine Shinomori Aoshi, aged 24 head towards her door, his feet, which were hidden in polished black shoes did not make a sound against the floor.

Aoshi had turned around, to look back at Misao and caught her green and white tank top and matching boxer shorts before observing as she dove into a plush blue robe and slippers.

"You should stop referring to me with that honorific Misao, I'm your father's employee remember?" All he got was a dismissive wave of the hand as she disappeared into her ensuite, which was connected to her rather large bedroom. Leaving her room Aoshi headed back downstairs and into the large dining room where he found Misao's father at the head of the polished mahogany table (which could sit 12 people) as he took a sip of his coffee and flipped through the daily newspaper. He was dressed smartly in a grey suit, ready to head into the city for his daily working life of being a politician.

"Is that daughter of mine up yet?"

"Yes, Makimachi-sama." Aoshi replied as he took his seat down the other end of the table.

"She really isn't a morning person is she Aoshi-kun?"

"Actually Makimachi-sama, Misao is quite a cheerful girl, she just needs a kick start in the morning."

"You don't say…" Mr Makimachi muttered back and just when he flipped the page of his newspaper, the dinning room double doors burst open and his 17-year-old "baby" came in.

"Good morning Otosan, Aoshi-sama!" The greying man raised an eyebrow as he observed his daughter plonk herself into a chair next to Aoshi's and pick up a piece of toast to butter it. He watched with mild interest as Aoshi passed Misao the jam she loved to spread on her toast and then poured her a glass of chocolate milk before tending to himself as he poured steaming green tea into a cup and slowly began to sip it.

Mr Makimachi hadn't bothered about raising an eyebrow with regards to the way Misao placed across Aoshi's name, with such a loyal honorific behind it and instead based it on the fact she'd been calling him that for over 10 years now. The two had spent much time together growing up, even if there was an age difference and Misao went to her prestigious private school while Aoshi's guardian could only afford to send him to a public school.

The two men all but watched with calm eyes blinking as Misao wharfed down her slices of toast, downed her drink and then dragged her chair out from beneath her and stood up.

"Shall we get going then Aoshi-sama?"

"Aren't you forgetting something?" Misao gave Aoshi a perplexed look before she snapped her fingers, darted to her father and kissed him on the cheek, wishing him a good day at the office and to not overdue it. To Aoshi the gesture was still quite sweet, knowing Misao loved her father very much, but he couldn't help but sigh in any case.

"I was referring to your school bags." Misao was looking down at both her hands, made a funny noise in the back of her throat as she rushed from the dinning room and back upstairs to her bedroom.

"She would loose her head if it weren't for you Aoshi-kun." He observed Aoshi shrug his shoulders before finishing off his tea. He bowed to his employer and exited the room to wait for Misao by the carpeted staircase leading to the second floor of the Makimachi Mansion.

"Ah, Aoshi-san, good morning." Cool green eyes diverted to a woman not much older then him with warm brown eyes and a pleasant smile. She was wearing a plain green summer dress with a white apron tied around her waist and a feather duster rested in her left hand.

"Good morning Omasu-san." Aoshi politely replied. Omasu had been working for Mr Makimachi for two years now as a maid and though she seemed quite skilled in several fields, it appeared she was happy doing what she was doing now.

"Mou Aoshi-san, your tie is croaked." Before Aoshi could look down to examine it, Omasu had popped the duster under one arm and began to adjust his black tie. She was just padding down the dark green collar of Aoshi's shirt when pounding footsteps came from the second floor. Instantly Omasu moved away from Aoshi.

"Okay, I'm all set now!" Misao bellowed as she made her way downstairs by sliding down the banister. She landed perfectly on both feet, arms straight out as though she were finishing off one of her gymnastic routines. However the shortness of her black pleated skirt fluttered around her slender form revealing black baruma to both of her onlookers.

"Misao-san, your father is a well respected man in politics. Perhaps its time for you to act a little more ladylike." Omasu quietly voiced her opinion and frowned as Misao waved it off. Instead the young girl grabbed hold of Aoshi's suit jacket clad arm and pulled the quiet man out the front door with her.

Mr Makimachi watched the frowning Omasu disappear to begin her dusting in the private family room.


"Who does she think she is, telling me what I should and shouldn't do?" Misao fumed in the passenger side seat as Aoshi drove one of the black BMW's to her school.

"Omasu-san didn't mean any harm by it Misao." He gave the teenager a sideways glance as she slumped a little in the leather seat.

"I know, it's just…" She fumbled there and Aoshi changed lanes, doing a shoulder check to make sure he had adequate distance between himself and other drivers, but to also look at Misao's frowning face. That frown never suited her.

"Its just what?" Aoshi pried softly, knowing Misao would tell him everything. She had such faith and loyalty in him, it made Aoshi slightly puzzled as to why, but he quietly listened as Misao mumbled out what was on her mind.

"Well this is me, this right here and now is Makimachi Misao. I know I'm not ladylike and beautiful like many girls and I can't change that. However, why place on an act just to get on the good side of stupid bastards like politicians? I don't know them, have never cared for them and I like being me. Is…that wrong Aoshi-sama?" Her blue eyes were wide and starring over at her driver/friend/bodyguard.

"No Misao, its not wrong." He watched her sigh happily at his truthful words. "Your father would let you know instantly if he desired you to behave differently. However, don't mention that politician remark around him, he might become a little offended by it." This got a laugh from the 17 year old and the sound relaxed Aoshi.

"You know Aoshi-sama…" Misao began as Aoshi parked the car at the curb of the private all girls' high school. "You're really something special." And with that Misao grabbed her bag and dashed out of the BMW, waving gaily to Aoshi before meeting up with two of her friends who had been waiting for her near the gates.

"Special…?" Aoshi muttered to himself before shaking his head and driving off.


Time flew by as Aoshi busied himself with handling paperwork for his employer. He wasn't only hired help to watch over Misao now that her father was very high up in the political scene, but Aoshi was very handy with numbers, excelling in his classes and always dealt with any invoices or spreadsheets that needed looking over. He was an aide for Mr Makimachi, but Aoshi didn't mind the extra work. It was different from having to watch Misao all the time. If she wanted to go down the street or to an arcade with some friends he would have to go with her. However, because she was at school, there was no need to keep his eye on her there as security was tight for daughters of actors, singers, doctors, politicians and so on went to that particular school.

Aoshi was currently sitting at a wooden desk, hi-tech computer situated on one side with all the extras while the other half was cluttered with paperwork.

The 24 year old was disturbed from calculating figures in his head as his eyes (framed by thin glasses) darted to the phone. Picking up the receiver, Aoshi muttered his greeting and stopped searching for a hard copy of a particular spreadsheet.

"Is she alright?" His deep voice echoed through the receiver, questioning the lady on the other end who had identified herself as the nurse at Misao's school. "I'll be there in 20 minutes. Thank you for calling." Aoshi hung up and picked up his jacket and placed it on as he headed out of the private suite he used and occasionally lived in and made his way downstairs. He left the mansion without even a glance at Omasu who was sitting in the main lounge room taking a break, her feet up on one of the plush cream coloured footstools.


Aoshi made it to Misao's school in 15 minutes, thanks to catching all the traffic lights and parked the BMW just outside the closed gates and hit the intercom button, watching a security camera move to take a closer look at him. A male voice came over the intercom, asking Aoshi politely to state his business. School was over about an hour ago, but Misao had been doing her usual gymnastics and wouldn't have finished for at least another hour still.

"Shinomori Aoshi, I work for Makimachi Shinichirou. I was called and informed that his daughter was taken to the Nurses Office. I'm here to collect her." A buzz was heard and Aoshi walked through a smaller side gate for after hours use and made his way towards the main foyer of the prestigious school.

Aoshi quietly walked down the polished hallway, noticing there wasn't a speck of dust or a dented locker anywhere. Not a soul in sight.

Rounding a corner Aoshi noticed the sign for the Nurses Office and knocked gently on the door before sliding it across. There on a bench was Misao laughing away with a familiar girl standing beside her. The nurse was currently finishing off wrapping a strap around Misao's right ankle and reprimanding her to stop fidgeting.

"Ah, hi Aoshi-sama!" Misao finally noticed him and hopped off the bench, tittering slightly as her friend Kamiya Kaoru grabbed hold of her just as the nurse did. "Oops, sorry about that." Misao spoke as she leaned back against the bench and scratched the back of her head.

"Thank you for looking after her." Aoshi automatically responded as he walked over, his hand out to Misao even if his eyes were on the nurse.

"Its quite alright Shinomori-san, it is my job after all." With a quiet nod, Aoshi felt Misao take his hand, but switched positions slightly and didn't notice the surprised look flash across her face when he placed his arm around her shoulders, drawing her closer.

"You can lean against me Misao." Aoshi remarked and helped her hobble out the sickbay, down the hallways and out towards the car.

"Damn this breeze is chilly." Misao had muttered and Aoshi glanced down to finally realise that Misao was only in her simple black leotard with ¾ length sleeves. Without much thought Aoshi removed his jacket with little effort and placed it over her shoulders just as Kaoru was fetching out her black scrunched up blazer from her gym bag.

"Oh, um, thanks." Misao chewed her lip as Aoshi guided her to the car. Once Misao and Kaoru settled into the back, Aoshi got into the front and began the drive home.

"I presume you'll be staying for dinner tonight Kamiya-san?" Aoshi questioned the dark haired girl sitting beside Misao in the back, a magazine open.

"Its Friday Aoshi-san, I always stay over on Friday." Aoshi looked at them through his rear vision mirror and nodded his head. It was Friday already? It meant Sunday would soon be here, a day off for him and yet he'd be working for a friend of his during the evening.

"See Misao-chan, isn't he dreamy?" Aoshi's eyes darted to look back at the two girls and found Misao with a perplexed look on her face as she picked up the magazine to inspect whoever Kaoru thought was 'dreamy'.

"He's not really my type Kaoru. A little too…feminine for me." Aoshi arched his eyebrow at Misao's comment, but continued to pay attention to the road. He stopped at the red light, left indicator on and blinked surprised eyes as Kaoru had leapt forward and shoved the magazine into his face.

"What do you think Aoshi-san? He looks pretty cool doesn't he?" Aoshi was staring at a girl's magazine with an idol splashed on the first two pages. He had red hair, violet eyes and was wearing jeans, a t-shirt and holding a puppy in his hands and a wide smile on his face. The article was titled 'the man behind the voice' as he was the singer for a very popular band that frequently played at clubs around the country.

"Aa…" Aoshi muttered, hand pushing the magazine away from his face as the light changed to green. "Cool…" Aoshi blandly remarked and made sure Kaoru sat back properly in the leather seating. His eyes were still looking back at the two teenagers as Kaoru gushed over this Himura Kenshin and caught Misao's blue ones starring right at him. She darted them away and went back to flipping through the magazine with Kaoru.

What was that stare for? Aoshi pondered to himself as he turned into the Makimachi driveway, but thought nothing more of it as he parked the vehicle, got out and helped Misao. They headed up the stone stairs of the house and got to the front door, all three looking at Omasu who had opened it up for them.

"Oh goodness Misao-san, what have you done this time?"

"Can it Omasu!" Misao snapped as she pried away from Aoshi, still enveloped in his large warm coat and hopped her way upstairs with Kaoru asking her to wait for her as she took of her shoes and picked up their bags. Before she could head up after Misao, Aoshi's hand had calmly rested on hers shoulder, making the dark blue-eyed girl look up at him.

"Her injury is serious?" It always surprised Kaoru how well Aoshi could read her best friend.

"It's not serious enough for her to be hospitalised or anything, but she was doing a backwards walkover on the balance beam and when she was standing back up, she slipped off twisting one ankle lightly, but jarred her other."

"That isn't like her to loose her concentration so easily." Aoshi muttered mainly to himself but watched as Kaoru nodded her head in agreement.

"Something was clearly on her mind, but she won't tell me what and because of whatever it is, she had that fall. Her lack of concentration has cost her a spot in the interschool championships next week. She'd been working so hard to make it in and now this happened."

"I see…" Aoshi voiced and watched Kaoru rush up the stairs to Misao's room. "Something will need to be done to brighten her spirits…even just a little." Omasu looked quizzically on as Aoshi voiced those words before heading up to "his" suite.


A couple hours had passed and Misao was interrupted in her TV watching as a knock was at her closed door. She was sprawled in a large beanbag, dressed in tracksuit pants and long sleeved baggy shirt. She muttered a 'come in' to her unidentified visitor and her eyes widened slightly to see Aoshi at her door. It was surprising for her to see him only dressed in his trousers and shirt (with a couple buttons undone). She sat up, wincing slightly at her wrapped ankle and gazed over as he walked inside.

"I thought you girls would like pizza for dinner."

"Oh, cool, thanks." Aoshi set it down on a rug next to Misao and watched her pull the box open and took a slice out.

"Where is Kamiya-san?"

"In the shower." She answered back with her mouth full. Her eyes moved back to some anime show she'd been watching, but they darted to gaze at Aoshi once more as she observed him sit on the ground just behind the opened pizza box.

"Does your ankle hurt Misao?"

"A little…" She mumbled back, heart thumping in her chest.

"But not as much as yourself correct?" Her surprised eyes looked over at him. "Kamiya-san told me you couldn't compete in the championships now." Her eyes drew down to the carpet once more and she fiddled with the greasy slice of pizza in her hands.

"Yeah…"

"What made you loose your concentration on the beam?" She darted her eyes back up and her heart thumped heavily as she watched the side of his mouth quirk slightly. "You've always been serious about gymnastics. Total concentration has always been your top priority."

"I guess, but it seems not today in any case."

"May I ask why?"

"Please don't ask me that. I'm…not ready to tell." Aoshi nodded his head and left it at that. He rose to his feet, hands stuffed in his pockets just as Kaoru came out from the bathroom in a matching tracksuit ensemble.

"Hey, pizza!" She squealed and rushed over to take a slice. Her eyes watched Aoshi head for the door. "You're not staying with us Shinomori-san?" She questioned him, her eyebrow rising at Misao's shocked facial expression.

"No, it appears a girl's night in is needed. I wouldn't want to ruin it." Before he closed the door he bid the two of them goodnight and let the door resonate with a soft click.

"Kaoru-chan, what the hell was that?"

"Huh, what do you mean?" She feigned innocence as she stuffed pizza into her mouth.

"Asking him to stay with us. Are you freaking nuts? Aoshi-sama has better things to do then hang with us, then…hang with me." Misao had died off there and Kaoru finally got the gist of what was going on.

"You have a thing for him don't you?"

"Eh, no! I…" The flush was there; readable on her usually non-coloured cheeks and Misao bent her head and thrust it into her beanbag just as Kaoru let off a small snicker.

"Haha, my little Misao is growing up and falling in love with a childhood friend and her father's employee."

"Shut up!" Misao fumed into the beanbag before she felt Kaoru's hand on her shoulder.

"Is he the reason you lost your concentration today?"

"Err, well, I kinda told him he was special in the car when he dropped me off for school. I've wanted to tell him more for ages, tell him how much I like him, but my mouth just blurted out that instead." Kaoru watched Misao sigh as she stared over at a stuffed grey and white rabbit sitting on her made up bed. Kaoru had heard from Megumi that Aoshi had gotten her that toy when she passed level one in gymnastics. "He told me some things I really needed to hear, about it being okay for me to be me. When I said he was special, he had this strange look, like he'd never been told that before."

"Well, maybe he hadn't been told it before." Kaoru opted to say, a smile on her face as she pat her friend on the head.

"Maybe…"

"Or he just thought you were plain weird."

"Kaoru, that's not nice at all!" They both laughed after several seconds of silence and went back to eating the pizza and watching cable.


The next day had Aoshi wandering the mall with Misao, Kaoru and their other friend Takani Megumi. Misao had said she was fine to walk on her own as she limped about the mall. Aoshi was not pleased about this, but because he worked for her father, he didn't try to stop her from doing what she wanted to do.

Aoshi was currently walking behind the three girls, noticing just how different they seemed to truly be. Kaoru was dressed in a yellow summer dress with blue cardigan and white sandals, her hair placed in a high ponytail with a yellow ribbon. Megumi was in an expensive black ruffled gypsy-style skirt and silk and lace maroon blouse with black sandals and her long black hair was down and flowing behind her as she walked. Misao was as casual as ever, dressed in black jeans, black j-rock tank top and red sneakers and her hair was in its customary plait. Even their characters were different. Misao had boundless energy, practically hopping from foot to foot if they stayed too long in one shop, while Kaoru had a short fuse if something cynical was mentioned about some person or band she was into and Megumi was the epitome of teenage sophistication. Aoshi figured it was what happened when your father was one of the top doctor's and had been a very strict man from the beginning. From what Aoshi knew of Megumi, her father and her were constantly arguing these days as she was currently dating a not so rich young man.

"So Megumi…" Misao began as she limped along, her long hair swishing behind her, Aoshi's eyes following its movements. "How's Sagara-kun these days?"

"Oh, he's fine."

"Still wanting to be a rock star?" The three of them stopped, including Aoshi when he realised he was the one that had asked that question. He had three pairs of eyes staring at him and he made a slight coughing sound before shooing them to walk onwards after mumbling, "Misao was telling me the other day."

"Boy, you really do listen to that girl prattle away Aoshi-san."

"HEY!" Misao screeched, gaining a few stares as she did so before the three of them ducked into a nearby music store.

"Actually, I think at the moment he's just intent on trying to graduate from high school like the rest of us."

"Oh you'll have no problem graduating Megumi, you're at the top of the class." Kaoru added in before squealing and running to the new releases section to see Himura Kenshin and his bands new single was out. "Its ahead of schedule, I'm so getting it!" The CD had been bought in literally one minute.

Aoshi watched the three girls move about the store. Even their tastes were different as well. While Megumi had moved to instrumental and classical, Kaoru was fussing over the latest pop bands and Misao had ducked away to gaze at J-Rock. She sifted through the choices before making her way to the bargains table and smiled when she picked up a CD.

"Don't you have that CD already?"

"No, this is the single of my favourite song I've been trying to find for ages. I love this band."

"Why?"

"Because Sakuya reminds me of Aoshi-sama."

"What?" Not only did Megumi and Kaoru turn to say that but also Aoshi's eyes had drifted over to her and he too had questioned her.

"Ah, well, um, shall we be buying our purchases?" Misao slinked away, slightly red faced and bought her bargain CD before placing it into her backpack. Another thing different about them. Misao carried a backpack; Kaoru had a small sling bag big enough to hold her wallet, cell phone and keys while Megumi had a designer handbag to match the colour of her blouse.

"Don't you just love her outbursts Aoshi-san?" Kaoru giggled at his side and Aoshi did nothing but glance down at her and stepped slightly away when she let off a loud scream. Both girls had turned to look at Kaoru and blinked widely as she ran off down the mall yelling something about fate.

"Come on, lets go see what's happened." Megumi muttered as she strolled after Kaoru while Misao lagged behind with Aoshi.

"Oh that's right…" He muttered and found Misao staring up at him. "I read in the paper that the redhead was going to be signing autographs here."

"Damn, she has like a sixth sense in detecting that feminine guy." Misao beamed at Aoshi when she listened to a soft chuckle escape his lips.

When Aoshi and Misao arrived Kaoru was already dreamily smiling, lost in her own mind as she held her bought CD over her heart. It was a given she'd obviously pushed through the screaming fan girls and had gotten it signed.

"He's better in person, so much better…"

"Come on you love sick girl, its time we head on back to Misao's." Megumi muttered as she directed the still sighing Kaoru out of the mall.

"My place? I thought we were going to yours?" Misao questioned and watched as Megumi huffed and flicked hair over her shoulder.

"Father and I aren't on speaking terms at the moment."

"What did he say about Sagara-kun this time?" Misao voiced, as she helped Kaoru into the car, she still in 'Himura Kenshin Fantasy Land'.

"He called him a good for nothing bum."

"Oh, well, he does kinda look like a bum Megumi."

"That may be so, but he's my bum. I don't want to go out with some rich guy who thinks only of money and using me as a treasure to show off. I've already been out with someone like that and I'm not doing it again."

"Okay, okay, I get the picture. Chill out Megumi, your dad will come around to it one day."

"I hope so…" Megumi sighed as she looked out the window.

Misao was sitting in the front with Aoshi and he placed the vehicle in drive, and pondered the mysteries of teen angst. Things surely did change quickly over the years, for he never had problems like this. Though, he didn't come from a sophisticated rich family, not that he knew of since he was orphaned at birth and never had the desire to find his real parents.

"The troubles of teen angst huh Aoshi-sama." He glanced sideways at Misao to see she had her feet propped up on the dash. He would have to polish it later.

"Are your troubles this bad?" He listened to Misao snort slightly at his question.

"Depending on how you place it across since the guy I like would never think of me the same way I do him." The entire car grew quiet.

"Kamiya-san, if you keep holding onto that CD so tightly, you'll break it." Aoshi changed the subject and watched Kaoru place the CD carefully back into its shopping bag.

"Aoshi-san, how much teen stuff did you go through?" Misao spluttered at Megumi's sudden question and was waving her arms around, trying to get words out of her mouth but watched Aoshi shake his head, as though telling her it was all right.

"Not as much as you go through. I don't come from a high standing family which places a great deal of expectation and pressure upon their children."

"Are you getting pressured Megumi? To do what?" Kaoru and Misao asked at the same time.

"Boy Aoshi-san, I'd never think you would be so tuned into so many things."

"I do observe quite a lot Takani-san, but I also know females quite well."

"Really, how so?" Kaoru and Megumi questioned once more, while Misao stared out the window wondering the same thing.

"That, will have to wait for another day, we are here."

"Yeah…" Misao muttered and got out, the girls following. He watched the thin-lipped Misao head up the stairs and into the mansion.

"She is acting strange…" He quietly voiced to himself and drove the car into the garage and remained there for the next hour polishing it.


Aoshi was about to knock on Misao's bedroom door, but noticed it was slightly ajar and instead pushed it open just in time to witness Misao doing a small dance number as she sung the last verse of a song he'd heard blasting from her stereo many times before. She'd hooked up the karaoke machine her father bought her a couple years ago and was happily singing and dancing away to a song by Lucifer. He'd listen to Misao rave about them many times and just to please her he'd listened to one of their CD's.

"You're right Misao-chan, he does look like Aoshi-san a little." Megumi voiced as she flipped through a book, an art book from what Aoshi could see of it. He listened to Misao let off a laugh before finishing up, doing a twirl and then making a hissing noise when she placed too much pressure on her ankle. She'd been over using it and far too soon as well.

"Would you like some pain killers Misao?" She gasped aloud as did Kaoru and Megumi and her wide sea coloured eyes locked with his green orbs. "I came to inform you, your father has bought home sushi dishes for everyone."

"Alright!" Kaoru beamed and got up, helping Misao untangle herself from the microphone cord and pulled her still stunned and embarrassed form out of her bedroom. Megumi followed behind with a cheeky smile on her face.


Dinner had everyone filled up on sushi and it hadn't been more then an hour after the meals, as the girls made plenty of noise upstairs, making everyone who lived and worked in the Makimachi mansion stop what he or she was doing to listen to cheerful laughter.

Just as Aoshi was heading upstairs, to look over the spreadsheets he promised Makimachi-sama he'd have completed today, he observed a sombre Kaoru, Megumi and Misao head downstairs and towards the front door.

"Their folks want them home as they have functions to attend to tomorrow morning." Misao explained to Aoshi as they passed him on the stairs. He made a slight nod of his head and retired to the suite, his door slightly ajar knowing Misao would probably come and see him if she grew bored with watching TV, listening to music or playing video games.


Half an hour later Aoshi heard a knock on his door and as he sat at the desk, eyes not flickering away from the paperwork he was holding and reading. He muttered for Misao to come inside.

"Ah, knew it was me huh?" She scuffed over to where he was, a baggy jumper over the tank top she was wearing and slippers were on her feet replacing her sneakers.

"Of course." Aoshi simply replied as he flipped to the next page, eyes narrowed and studying a bar graph.

"So, um, watcha doing?" His eyes flickered up to see Misao rolling back on the balls of her feet.

"You should rest that ankle Misao, it has been overworked today."

"You're such a fuss pot Aoshi-sama." Misao pouted before flopping into one of the cushioned leather chairs and admired the extremely tidy suite Aoshi lived in every now and then. She was curled in the chair, eyes skimming about the place and he just knew she was itching to ask him something.

"Hey Aoshi-sama, why don't you just live with dad and me all the time?"

"I like having my own place."

"Oh…" He watched her blue eyes lower to her slippers.

"I didn't mean to hurt you in any way with my comment Misao. I very much like being independent and desire to one day have a true home that I can call my own."

"Oh, so independence is big huh? When do you thi-"

"Don't be in such a hurry to grow up Misao." Aoshi interrupted what she was going to say, his eyes moving back to the computer monitor. "Your father would miss you greatly if you up and left him suddenly, so wait until you are 100 percent sure on what you wish to do."

"Would you miss me?" Green darted to blue and Misao quickly waved her hands around as she got out of the chair.

"Don't pay any attention to me Aoshi-sama, I'm being stupid." And with that Misao stumbled out of the room and closed the door behind her. She leaned against it, almost banging her head against the hard wood of the door before limping back to her own bedroom, which was across the hall.

Misao hadn't even noticed Omasu standing in the doorway of another bedroom on the second floor, having heard the entire conversation.


The very next day had Misao stumbling downstairs for breakfast dressed in long satin pyjama pants and a purple spaghetti strapped top. As she walked in she noted a few of the workers, plus her father and Aoshi were sitting in their respected places not eating breakfast. Her sleepy eyes darted to the grandfather clock in the large dining room to see it was well past 1 in the afternoon.

"Did you only just rise from bed Misao-chan?" The sternness in her father's voice made Misao scratch lightly at her dishevelled hair.

"Um, no?" She muttered back and was just walking past Aoshi's chair heading towards the kitchen to see what was left over for her to eat, but felt a warm hand against her forearm.

"Sit down Misao, I'll bring you your lunch." She slid into her seat next to Aoshi's and didn't dare look over at her father or even Omasu who'd be just as displeased as him for wasting most of the day away sleeping. It wasn't until Aoshi walked back into the room, a wrapped plate of food in his hand did she notice how casual he looked. The 6-foot tall man was dressed in black jeans and dark blue polo shirt. His feet were bare as he padded softly back over and placed cold meat and salad in front of her.

"Ah, thanks Aoshi-sama." Misao dug in instantly and had a small conversation with the jet-black haired man, who quietly replied to her questions of what he was doing today, it being his day off and all.

"I have somewhere to be this evening, but other then that I'm not doing much else."

"A hot date Aoshi-kun?" Cutlery dropped from not only Omasu's plate but Misao's as well. Aoshi however, sipped his iced tea drink and all too calmly replied.

"Actually no Makimachi-sama, I help out an old friend of mine for a few hours at their place of employment."

"Aoshi-sama you work too much!" Misao professed loudly, making Aoshi lean back into the chair to see the emotion rushing through her eyes. "Otosan, let Aoshi-sama have Saturday's off. If he works in the evenings on Sunday's and always watches over me all the other days, how will he ever have time for himself?"

"Misao…" Aoshi murmured her name, his hand reaching out to drop it over one of her fisted ones resting on the table. "I am quite capable at dealing with my workload."

"But you were up half the night doing that stuff for Otosan. When will you rest?" Aoshi blinked surprised at how alert Misao was to what he did.

"Is this true Aoshi-kun?" Eyes darted between Mr Makimachi and Aoshi as the onlookers watched on in silence.

"I know the urgency behind those spreadsheets, therefore I needed to complete them."

"Otosan, order him to rest!" Misao was standing up now, hands fisted on the table. "Its my fault for ending up in the nurses office at school, so Aoshi-sama had to cut his work time for you short. I know how much personal space means to him, therefore I don't want him around on Saturday's anymore!" The household members watched Misao rush from the room, doors swinging widely as she ran (and hobbled) upstairs.

Mr Makimachi watched closely as Aoshi's eyebrows furrowed slightly. Was he perhaps, a little offended by Misao's words?

"Aoshi-kun, what is this I hear about Misao being in the nurses office?"

"She had a fall during her gymnastics and can't compete in the interschool championships." Dark eyes had diverted to Omasu as she had answered his question instead. "Kamiya-san related this news to us on Friday afternoon."

"Misao has yet to forgive herself for her lapse in concentration. I believe that and whatever else is on her mind has been upsetting her for quite some time now."

"Are you concerned for her Aoshi-kun?"

"Why wouldn't I be?"

"About having Saturday's off…" Mr Makimachi began and watched Aoshi rise from the table.

"If you'll forgive me Makimachi-sama, I am capable at completing all of my tasks. There is no need for me to have Saturday's off. What if Misao wishes to go out, you'll need me to drive her around and watch over her."

"My daughter is not a mere task Aoshi-kun." This stunned the 24 year old, never having heard his employer speak to him in such a 'put out' way.

"Forgive me for insulting you in such a way to think I thought of Misao as a mere task." Aoshi briskly walked out of the dining room and glanced at the stairs. He would have to have a talk with Misao, ask her to tell him what had been going on with her for the past few weeks now. She'd been fidgety around him and less open too. It made him frown to think she would hide things from him.

As he reached the top of the stairs, seeing Misao's door closed, her thought it best to give her some time to herself and instead headed for his suite and print out the reports for Mr Makimachi. He never even got half way into the room when he glanced over his shoulder to see a puffing Omasu at his door.

"Is something the matter?"

"We need to talk Aoshi-san." This made him tilt his head slightly as she walked straight in and stood before him. "Aoshi-san I…" His eyebrow had arched, noticing the nervousness within the usually overly pleasant maid and before he could voice a thing, Omasu's unclenched hands had lifted up, moved around his neck to pull him down as her lips fell upon his. This action of course had Aoshi's eyes widening, but also for the fact a very shocked,

"Misao…" Aoshi had murmured and Omasu broke off, eyes tearing slightly before she whipped around to see her employer's daughter standing at the opened door with hands clenched over a small package against her heart and eyes wide with horror. She took a step away from the door, back peddling slightly and bolted away.

"MISAO!" Aoshi voiced louder, he wanting to rush after the young girl but stopped as Omasu's hand was holding onto one of his. "Let go Omasu, I have to go after her." She dropped his hand, watching the devastatingly handsome man rush out of the suite in long powerful strides to go after the 17 year old.

"You've already chosen, but don't even realise it." Omasu muttered and sank to the carpet, hands over her crying face.


After searching the wide expanse of the mansion grounds there was only one place left Aoshi thought Misao could be hiding, her father's greenhouse. He quietly entered the humid greenhouse weaving his way through the hundreds of species of plants and found the crouching Misao, who was actually dressed in denim shorts and white button down shirt, pulling the petals off of a red rose.

"Misao…" Aoshi began, but watched her stand up, turn around, head bowed so he couldn't look into her eyes. Her hand was out, a wrapped package being held out to him when she still stared at the ground. Silently Aoshi took it, opened it up and saw a clear jar with finely crushed ingredients inside it.

"I heard you moving around upstairs one night and saw you engrossed over Otosan's paperwork and I thought because you work so hard, you might need help in resting. Megumi's grandma is a retired herbalist and she made this concoction for me so I could give it to you, to make sure you wouldn't overstress your body."

"You were concerned for me Misao?" Aoshi watched the 17-year-old nod silently.

"You always work Aoshi-sama, you work way too hard and I worry that you'll make yourself sick like Otosan did." Aoshi's hand clutched the jar as he stepped forward, hand resting on top of Misao's head.

"Is that what's been eating at you all these weeks Misao? You think I'll overwork myself and stress my body too far that it will shut down and I'll need hospitalisation?"

"A little…" Came the mumble, but Misao gasped lightly when Aoshi's hand on her head pulled her closer and she was able to rest her head against his broad muscled chest.

"You're a good girl Misao." Tears pricked at the corner of her eyes and Misao pushed away from Aoshi, the unexpected action making him stumble back slightly.

"I'M NOT A LITTLE GIRL!" She yelled at him, pushing past him, the side of her body crashing into his hand that held onto her gift and it tumbled out, the sound of the jar smashing echoed through the greenhouse. Aoshi bent to pick up the broken glass and noticed the rose had only one petal left on its stem. His hand moved out to it, forgetting the glass but he watched with surprised eyes as a slightly crinkled hand picked it up instead.

"Makimachi-sama…" Aoshi voiced as he stood back up and in front of his employer.

"Do you know how old my daughter is Aoshi-kun?"

"Of course I do. She'll be 18 next month." Aoshi instantly replied, the tone in his voice slightly off as though he'd been offended by that question.

"Ah, 18, my how time certainly flies. I can picture the memory of Misao's first words and her first steps she took like it were yesterday." Mr Makimachi replied and moved back to the plant he was potting before Misao came bursting in. He knew by her fuming actions and the sad look in her eyes that something had happened and Aoshi would have something to do with it. So he had hid…and waited…and watched.

"I remember those as well." Aoshi voiced back, taking slow steps over to the bench Mr Makimachi was standing at. His eyes drifted to the one petal rose once more.

"Yes, you and your guardian arrived here when you were but 7 years old. Misao had just been born when you arrived. You've been in her life from the very beginning Aoshi-kun."

"Yes, I have, but what…" he stopped as Mr Makimachi lifted his hand.

"Misao is 17 Aoshi-kun, a ripe age where opinions begin to change and especially opinions for you."

"About me?" Aoshi listened to the greying man chuckle.

"I may be getting older Aoshi-kun, but I'm not that old to take notice of a young boy who has grown into quite a handsome man in my household. This observation has not gone unnoticed by Misao either and will only cement the affections she has towards you more."

"But I…"

"Have never noticed them before correct?" At the affirmative nod from Aoshi he picked up the abused rose and twirled it within his hand. "She tries to hide it as much as possible, for fear of rejection I would imagine, but I've caught her staring at you. The way she watches you is the way I used to watch her mother. It was pure love."

"Makimachi-sama I…"

"My daughter is quite stubborn and her feelings will not change for you, they'll only grow as you remain around her as you do." The old man stepped away from the bench and held out the plucked rose to Aoshi. "If you remember the game 'he loves me, he loves me not' you'll then understand what has happened to this rose."

"Its on its final petal." Aoshi remarked, his eyes moving back up to Mr Makimachi's dark orbs. "What was Misao up to?"

"Fate isn't necessarily stamped within a little game Aoshi-kun, but perhaps true feelings…" He broke off then and smiled fatherly at Aoshi. "You will have to make a choice Aoshi-kun, between receiving the affections of either Misao or Omasu…or neither. In the end, your choice needs to come straight from your heart. Look deep inside yourself because the day to make that choice has finally come."

Aoshi was left alone in the greenhouse as he sat on one of the bench stools, hands holding up his head, as he did nothing but gaze down at the rose.

"My choice…" His cell phone ringing interrupted his muddled thoughts. "Yes?" Aoshi answered it absently and heard a cheery female voice that he'd never forget on the other end. "Sorry, I'll be there shortly." Aoshi replied and hung up, the butchered rosebud still within his grasp.

He was late for work.


Parking Makimachi-sama's BMW at the back of a very well known club called "Surreal" Aoshi stepped out and headed through the backdoors, knowing the club wouldn't' be opened for a few hours yet, but there were things that needed to be done before then.

"Aoshi, can I get you to set up the upstairs bar. I'd like for you to work up there tonight." Green eyes watched a short woman rush by, her shoulder length brown hair swishing about while her hands moved vigorously giving orders and her golden eyes flickered around the large club making sure everything was in place for this evenings guests. The woman rushing about was Takagi Tokio the owner of this club and Aoshi's former girlfriend. She had received word just last week that Himura Kenshin and his band had agreed to play at her club. Tonight was the night and so she was rushing about getting everything sorted knowing the club would be packed with screaming fans.

As Aoshi headed upstairs and behind the bar he began setting everything up. Once he was finished he moved towards a door upstairs, which read 'staff only' and opened up his locker and pulled out his attire of the male bar uniform which Takagi 'made' him wear.

Once dressed Aoshi headed back out to the bar he'd be in charge of along with 3 other employees and slipped his employee security tag over his neck, letting the thick cord it was attached to drape against his chest.


The band was tunning their instruments and doing a practice run through, Aoshi's eyebrow arching at how polite the lead singer truly was. He tried blocking them out as much as possible as he wiped the benches and dried glasses and stacked them along with the three other bar crew who were happily chatting or bopping away to the music.

Aoshi's mind however, every now and then, would drift to Misao's latest behaviour and of course what her father had confessed to him. What was he to do about it now that he knew Misao's feelings for him were very different indeed?


It had to be clocking nearly 1 or 2 in the morning and the club was pumping with energy as thousands of fans flocked inside to see Himura Kenshin and his band rock it out on stage. Aoshi had worked every Sunday and sometime's on Saturday's for Tokio and was glad he could read lips as people tried shouting over the thumping noise of the band as they ordered drinks. He mixed this and that, blended cocktails and poured numerous jugs of beer. He'd just changed over the keg for light beer for the third time this evening.

Within Tokio's club, she liked her staff to interact with their clients; to perhaps eavesdrop a little on conversations to see whether customers were happy with the service and the atmosphere. She would always make sure the areas where customers congregated were free of empty glasses or jugs or any plates of food that had been ordered and the tables were constantly wiped down and any spillages on the floors had been moped up instantly.

"I'll go out there this time." Aoshi remarked, his head jerking to the upstairs balcony area where hundreds flocked to get a higher view of the band and jumped to the music. One of his co-workers, a tall lanky woman nodded while holding six highball glasses in her hands. Knowing that the bar would be taken care of, as Tokio only hired those that could handle being 'under the pump', Aoshi ducked under the counter, taking a large black tray with him and headed for the upstairs "mosh pit" as he liked to call it. Making his way through the area, his larger body rubbing against strangers, Aoshi's hands effortlessly picked up stray glasses and beer bottles, ears pricked as much as possible to catch any comments about the service so he could relay it to Tokio when they had the next staff meeting.

Unfortunately all he got was random gossip about so and so having an affair with somebody else and then someone else had finally told their family that they were homosexual and so on. So by the time Aoshi made it to the last table to collect rubbish, he faded out all the female talk about affairs and lovers and who was doing what with who.

"That's the last of it." Aoshi voiced, since the band had just finished playing a song, to his male co-worker since it was 2 males, 2 females and went back with a damp cloth to wipe as much sticky muck from the steel tables as possible without annoying the customers of course. When the tables were wiped down as much as possible Aoshi headed to the railing of the balcony and began wiping it too. There was nothing worse then placing your clean hands on a sticky railing and not knowing what the hell you were touching. As he squeezed passed people, moving along the railing, his eyes automatically adjusting to the flashes of spotlights as the popular band went into another one of their songs, green eyes caught something from the ground floor and everything in Aoshi's body froze.

His scrutinising gaze locked onto a group of four, not being able to miss that spiky brown hair or the pretty 17 year old attached to the arm of the spiky-haired male. Aoshi's eyes narrowed further and further as he took in the view of Sagara Sanosuke and Takani-san making their way through the crowd. It was also very surprising for Aoshi to see Kamiya-san jumping up and down while the shorter girl laughed at her side, their arms linked as they headed further into thew crowd of raging fans.

"Misao…" Aoshi muttered to himself, hands curled around the black railing to eyeball the short blue-black haired Misao who unlinked her arm with Kaoru and yelled something to Megumi and Sanosuke and was now pointing in the direction of the ground floor bar area.

"She wouldn't…" Aoshi remarked and before he knew what was really going on in his head, his feet (laden with black lace up boots) had lifted off the ground, his upper strength wrenching them over the railing as he plummeted to the ground floor. His jump over the balcony edge was broken as his boots connected with two steel tables with a loud thump. The sound echoed and started a dozen or more customers nearby who looked up at Aoshi's narrowed look. Some had cautiously stepped back as he just stood on the tables, beer bottles rolling on their sides around his boots.

Misao herself had just been trying to get through the crowd when there was an almighty crash to her left and she had looked over just like others did and instantly her eyes widened and her breathe hitched in her throat. There, standing prominently on steel tables was Aoshi. Her large blue eyes would not move from staring him up and down as he was dressed in leather pants, a studded belt and a tight black shirt showing the contours of his muscles underneath. His hair was slightly spiked, the temperature in the club overly warm as sweat glistened against his bare skin of what Misao could see.

Her feet would not move from their current position as Aoshi jumped off the tables onto the floor. With powerful strides and an angry ki he made his way through the crowd, many parted out of his way as they were still eyeing him off, while others went back to drinking or jumping to the music. As Aoshi drew closer he felt something tighten within his chest. Misao, the Misao he'd known since she was a baby (the one who didn't like to wear dresses or get dressed up) was standing right before him in a short and tight Jessamine Cheongsam with slits up the sides as it revealed more of her creamy coloured thighs. Make-up had been applied to her face, trying to accentuate her age to being 18 or over so she could get into the club…and obviously it had worked. Her usually plaited hair had been twisted and placed into an elegant bun atop her head, thick bangs framing her face while small blue butterflies were clipped into strands of her hair glittering innocently in the lights.

As Aoshi grew closer, he watched as Misao's cheeks flamed slightly and then she bolted from sight, weaving her slender body through the mass of people as she darted out of the club and away from him. This made Aoshi's lips turn into a thin frown. Misao was running away from him. It made his blood boil and instantly he began moving through the crowd, accidentally shoving several people out of his way as he went after her.

Stepping out into the cool morning air he looked left and right, not caring about the strange stares he was receiving from the bouncers and the lined up crowd. Taking a chance to the left Aoshi jogged down the footpath, boots thumping against the concrete as he came to a halt at hearing drunken men chatting up someone who was softly refusing their advances. Cautiously Aoshi headed down the alleyway and ice ran through his very veins as he found two men around his age advancing on the very frightened Misao as they began to cage her against the club brick wall and a large dumpster.

"I suggest," Aoshi took a couple steps forward "you leave her alone." His hands fisted at his sides as the two men and Misao turned to look over at his intruding self.

"Aoshi-sama…" Misao had breathed in relief as one of the man's strong hands were clenched at her shoulder making sure she couldn't move from her spot.

"Fuck off man, she's ours!" One of the stupid men loudly proclaimed.

"I will not ask again." Misao's breath caught in her throat as she watched the two men laugh loudly, thinking the stone coldness in Aoshi's voice was a mere joke. She observed as in literally seconds one man was pulled away from her, punched once in the face and sprawled on the dirty concrete in the alleyway. The other man charged at Aoshi who swiftly ducked before cracking his hand against the back of the man's neck, watching him crumble to his knees. A glint in Aoshi's eyes flashed, making Misao freeze as she watched his arm flex, his hand clenching around the drunken man's throat as he rose him up onto his feet and then literally off the ground.

"I warned you not to touch her."

"AOSHI-SAMA STOP IT!" Misao blurted out, watching Aoshi drop the man instantly at her shaky voice and turned his feral gaze at her. She gasped loudly when her back his the brick wall, Aoshi's hands gripping her shoulders tightly. His head was bent, his eyes blocked by his spiky long bangs.

"Don't you ever run from me again you hear?" Misao's breath hitched in her throat when Aoshi's eyes focused on hers in the pale alleyway lighting. "What if something far worse happened to you? How would I ever face your father?"

"Aoshi-sama…I…" Misao's throat closed up on her as Aoshi's hands unclenched her shoulders, he let of a sigh and then his larger hand took hold of her smaller one and pulled her out of the alleyway and back up the street to the club entrance, only to head straight past it. Within moments Misao found herself sitting in the front passenger seat of her father's BMW.

"Stay here." Aoshi ordered and locked the car as he headed through the back entrance to the club. He stalked through the crowd, got fed up in the first two minutes and cleared away some tables to stand on top of them again. People walked by, staring but with the dangerous glint still within his eyes, they never raised any questions.

Hard green eyes gazed around the club, flickering about the place as Aoshi once again got used to the various flashes of coloured spotlights. Instantly he focused on Kaoru jumping up and down near the front with a bunch of other fan girls and not too far from her was Megumi bopping her head and Sano embracing her from behind.

The unsuspecting victims had been targeted as Aoshi shuffled his way once more through the mass crowd. He came upon Sano and Megumi first, a hand clamping on each of their shoulders as they jumped, turned and their eyes grew wide in sheer surprise at seeing him of all people in this very club. Kaoru had been happily jumping away until she bumped right into Aoshi whose cold eyes were narrowed down at her and made a small squeak break from her lips before he guided the teenagers through the crowd and out the back door, pointing silently for them to get in the car when he unlocked it once more.

Aoshi disappeared back inside for several moments and then reappeared, moving to the front seat and got inside to drive everyone to their homes.

No one spoke a single word.


Pulling into the Makimachi grounds, Aoshi turned off the BMW near the large fountain at the front of the house and sat in the car with a silent Misao. He looked at the greenhouse and then over to Misao who was getting out of the car.

"Misao, wait a minute." Aoshi voiced softly as he too got out. He watched as she sat on the short stonewall surrounding the large fountain and fishpond area, her eyes still trained to the ground. Her hands fidgeted in her lap when she felt Aoshi sit next to her, the leather of his trousers rubbing against the bare skin of her legs.

"I've never stuck my nose into your business, unless you asked for my opinion about certain matters, but what you did tonight was very immature." Aoshi gave Misao a side-glance and watched her flinch at his words. "If reporters had found out that Makimachi-sama's daughter illegally entered a club, how do you think that would have affected his career?"

"I'm sorry…" The sadness behind those simple words were the truth as tears pricked in Misao's eyes, her hands coming up to rub furiously at her face, foundation smudging her hands. "I know it was dumb, but I was mad and when I rang Kaoru she decided to get together with Megumi to swing by and pick me up and the next thing I knew I was being dressed up and taken to a club."

"You being mad, was solely my fault correct?"

"No, don't think that! I…" Just the stare from Aoshi had Misao crumble as she nodded her head instead of denying it. "Aoshi-sama, I know I'm not the prettiest girl and I'm not the smartest either and sometimes I demand a lot from you but I…I really want you to know that I…I really appreciate everything you've done and do for me." Aoshi felt his lips quirk in the darkness. He knew that wasn't what she was trying to get at, but for the moment this was all she could summon.

"Will there ever be a day, when I'm not Aoshi-sama to you Misao?"

"What do you mean?"

"For some time now, you've been acting strange. I've noticed it, but could never figure out what was going on. In the greenhouse, after we fought and you ran away, your father was inside and heard it all."

"H-He did…?" Misao muttered as her eyes screwed tightly shut. How embarrassing to have your father present when you are squabbling like a 12 year old and not a young adult.

"I am questioning as to whether you'll ever be able to just call me Aoshi for I've gained some insight to what has been going on with you lately." She stiffened beside him. "I dislike how over the past weeks you have kept things from me. It isn't like you Misao. Therefore, I want the honest truth from you hear and now right this moment or I'm getting up, walking inside and the matter will never be raised again." The silence was thick. Aoshi rose from his seated position with his hands moving into the front pockets of his leather pants.

"Aoshi…" His head whipped around at the softness of Misao's voice and felt his breath tighten and his heart clench as he stared down into moist blue eyes. There was a genuine smile on Misao's face, but there was sadness within her eyes. "I'm in love with you."

His eyes closed for a moment as he took in Misao's words and then opened them to see her hands were over her lips and she was mumbling 'I finally said it' over and over again. He listened to a hearty giggle of relief break from her lips even if an embarrassed flush was rushing over her cheeks. She'd placed her emotions and her heart on the line right now and all Aoshi did was stare down at her. He finally stepped forward and placed his hand against Misao's cheek.

"Thank you for finally telling me what's been on your mind."

"Ah…yeah…" Misao muttered back and was glad that Aoshi decided to sit next to her again.

"How long have you been wanting to confess to me Misao?"

"Ah, well, it all kinda started when I was about 13 and saw you doing laps in the pool from my bedroom window." Aoshi glanced over at Misao to see her cheeks flame a little brighter. "My heart went into spasms when you got out and you were just in blue board shorts. It kind of grew from there, but it died down a little when I saw you and Tokio-san kissing one day."

"So why didn't you stop loving me Misao? If I was with someone, why didn't you try to find someone as well?"

"Because love hurts and no matter what happens even if you are happy with someone else, then I will be happy for you. I believe that no matter what, because you've been with me for so long and know who I truly am and accept it, you are the man I'll only ever love."

"You sound more and more like a mature young woman every passing day."

"Re-Really?"

"Yes, and a very pretty one too." He watched that shy smile break onto her plum coloured lips and felt his body relax when Misao unsuspectingly threw her arms around him and pressed her cheek against his arm.

"Thank you, Aoshi…" Her warmth was amazing to him and he pulled away and stood to his feet. It was inevitable now, how could he have not seen it all this time?

"I have something for you." The perplexed look was extremely adorable as Aoshi went to the car, opened up the glove compartment and pulled something out. He moved back over to Misao and presented her…with the slightly drooping rose with a single petal attached to it.

"That's from…" Misao blinked owlishly as Aoshi dropped to one knee, collecting his thoughts before her lips parted, short little pants coming from her mouth as a thin smile graced his glorious lips.

"I've watched over you for so long Misao that I catch myself thinking about you daily." He placed his index finger against Misao's lips, to stop her from saying anything. "And it's got nothing to do with wondering if you need to go somewhere or pick something up. When you caught Omasu-san kissing me…" He watched those blue eyes frown slightly and felt his lips quirk a little higher. "I felt nothing and only wanted to go to you."

Misao gasped softly, hand coming up to cup her own cheeks, feeling their warmth at what Aoshi's truthful words were doing to her.

"My choice is this mutilated rose and what I want to say to you."

"Wh-What…?"

"Pick the petal off Misao." Her shaky thumb and index finger on her right hand lifted up and pulled the soft petal away just as a warm breath fanned against her ear.

"He loves me."

A sob broke through Misao's lips as her arms drew up and wrapped around Aoshi's shoulders, he still kneeling on the pebbled driveway before her.

Two people stood in different rooms on the second floor of the mansion looking out at the embracing cover. Tears fell from the eyes of one as she nodded her head in defeat, knowing she wouldn't ever be able to have that love and devotion from him. Omasu pulled the curtain across and flicked off the light.

Mr Makimachi was the other person. He was lounging in a chair on his private balcony smoking a cigar when he flicked off his light as he saw the headlights of one of his cars. He'd seen it all and felt a smile break onto his lips as he observed Aoshi, who was practically a son to him, tighten his hold on his precious daughter as she nodded and giggled happily into his shoulder, tears of relief pooling at the corners of her eyes.

His hands brushed over a frame picture of his wife (the spitting image of Misao only older) before he picked it up and went inside, the curtain closing him into his dark room and leaving Aoshi and Misao to embrace their new future together.


The End
Authors Notes: Dah, this is NOT the way it was meant to go, but I've had mental blocks for this story for about 2 weeks now and this is as good as its going to get as I can't waste anymore time on it. I have another oneshot (a lemon) I'm going to try and complete in the next week or two and then onto old stories. My apologies for all the grammar and spelling mistakes I've missed.