Standard disclaimer - Kiyosato Akira and others belong to Nobuhiro Watsuki, not to me, I just write about them.
A man may fulfill the object of his existence by asking a question he cannot answer, and attempting a task he cannot achieve
He felt as if he were drifting, surrounded by eternal nothingness. He could feel the presence of others around him, but could not make out their ghostly forms. He wondered where he was, and what had happened, before the scenes of the end of his life flashed before him. He suddenly remembered it all, walking along with the other guard and the politician they were supposed to protect. They had been discussing his upcoming wedding, and he had been speaking of his hopes of living with his wife-to-be in peaceful days.
And then he showed up, the man whose name was whispered amongst many of the Bakufu's supporters, the Hitokiri Battousai. The other two men had fallen, and he had tried to fend the man off, struggling to survive so that he could return home to his love. He had wanted to see her smile at him, had wanted to love her forever, but the assassin had taken that away, along with his life. Now he was stranded, his soul drifting along in the afterlife as he watched events unfold amongst the living.
The first person he watched over, was the only person who had occupied his thoughts in his last moments. He watched as the young woman grieved in silence at the news of his death, and he cursed himself for what he had done. Instead of bringing her happiness as he had originally intended, he had brought her grief and suffering. He observed as her smiles faded away, replaced by the ever present mask of cool indifference. He had never known her happiness had lain with him, and how could he? She had never said anything, had never expressed how content she was with him. But he could not help but blame himself for this.
'How could I have known that she loved me so much? I should have known, I should have never left her at all!' Kiyosato Akira grieved along with her, mourning for what had been lost to the both of them, for the future that would never be reached.
He observed as time moved forward, and the only one he had ever loved went after his killer, plotting to avenge him. A tiny part of him was happy at this, that she loved him enough to pursue the one who had taken his life, one of the most feared assassins in all of Japan. Another part of him however, knew this wasn't right. He didn't want his death to be avenged by the taking of more life, enough blood had been spilled as it was. She treated the man with cool indifference, questioning his motives and his reasons to kill. Searching for a weakness in him, for something she could use so that the men she had allied herself with could destroy him.
And yet time moved forward, and he noticed his beloved become more and more involved with his killer, to the point where she had agreed to pose as his wife. Akira's soul cried in anguish at the irony, watching as her smiles slowly returned, only they were now focused on another man instead of toward him. How long had he wanted to bring such smiles to her lovely face? He had always thought that her smiling face was her true face, the one she hid from the rest of the world.
She had only showed her true self to one person, had only bestowed her smile to one being, and that was her younger brother Enishi. He had always been envious of the boy. They had been friends since childhood, had been by each other's side since they could remember. And yet he could never get her to show him that smile, and he wept again at the thought of it.
'Why! Why did I have to die! Why!' His spirit screamed for answers, demanded them from the ethereal powers that be, and the answer he received offered him no comfort.
'Because in order to redeem the soul of that man, your life had been a necessary sacrifice.'
Time moved forward, and he painfully watched as his beloved came to love his killer, and revealed to him the truth of her past. A truth Kiyosato Akira knew all too well, for he had always been there to witness it, and to offer her his comfort whenever she needed it. Now she was being comforted by another, as she blamed herself for his death, and the loss of her happiness. And he could not help but feel that he was becoming a forgotten part of her life. No one would know of how strongly he felt for her, no one would remember that he had been the first to love her, the first to risk everything to prove himself worthy of her.
He realized with great bitterness at how foolish he was, to think that such a goddess had been meant to be his. It had never been. It would never be. He watched as she went to his enemies, to try to save the hitokiri from the fate coming for him. Watched as she admitted how wrong she had been to inadvertently send her first love to die, and with a quiet determination, vowed she would not allow her second love to fall to the same fate. He watched as she threw her body between the hitokiri and his enemy, watched as the sword cut through her body while her brother watched in stunned agony from a distance.
And as she died being held in the assassin's arms, a smile still on her face as she told him it was better this way, Kiyosato Akira's soul had broken, and in silence he drifted to a far corner of the afterlife. He wanted to spend an eternity in suffering, didn't want to be bothered by anything. He watched quietly from a distance as she watched over her brother and her former husband, in sadness as she smiled for her brother, and comforted the assassin now turned rurouni. She continued to watch, as the two fought, one to avenge the crime of not only her murder, but his as well. And the other to atone for the same crimes, the crimes he committed under the title of hitokiri.
Death had taught him a painful lesson: if you love something, then you should let it go, and if it comes back to you, then it was always yours; but if it doesn't, then it was never yours in the first place. It was an agonizing truth, a revelation that hurt beyond all measure. Time passed, and he watched as his love let go of her watch over the rurouni, who had found true happiness with another. She continued to watch over her brother, whose psyche had been broken by his own revelations. And then, he stopped watching, allowing his punishment for his foolishness to continue eternally.
Kiyosato Akira had been forgotten, and no one would ever know.
And as the flow of time continued, the woman finally relinquished her watch over her brother, who had found his own happiness with a Kyoto restaurant proprietress, and the wound in his heart finally healed. Kiyosato Akira was not aware of it, instead continuing to submit to his punishment of eternal loneliness. So detached was he, that he never sensed the presence of the spirit approaching, until he felt a gentle warmth of comfort surround him, as spectral arms enveloped his soul, dispelling the loneliness.
He felt himself slowly drift out of his catatonic state of spiritual despair, and as the haze lifted, he saw the ghostly smile focused on him. His soul wept like never before at seeing it, and the warmth continued to surround him like an eternal sunshine. He was no longer trapped in darkness, he was in the light of the one he had always loved. And as her smile continued shining for him, he could hear her soft voice speak to him, a loving caress on his spirit.
'Despair no more my beloved. I am here with you now, as I will always be.'
With happiness he had thought long lost to him, Kiyosato Akira returned Yukishiro Tomoe's smile, and returned the embrace with an eager acceptance. And in the light of the love that had come back to him, Kiyosato Akira realized that maybe, he had never been forgotten at all.
A.N. - Just something I wrote on a whim. It came to me while I was at work today, and I could not get rid of the idea. I have become such a fan of the Akira&Tomoe pairing, and as such I could not help but write this. For anyone who has read my profile recently, you can consider this as sort of a prequel to the AU fic I have coming up about this couple. The title I thought was fitting, as Kiyosato Akira has always seemed to me to have been forgotten by RK fans all over.
Also, the part of Enishi finding happiness with a Kyoto restaurant proprietress, is a reference to my fic on the virtually unknown pairing of Enishi&Sae (Tae's twin sister). Their story is currently unfolding in my fic Her Most Beautiful Smile, and let it be known that I am the first to write about such a pairing. If you read this and liked it, please leave a review and let me know what you think. The next chapter of Two of a Kind is in the works, until then later.