AN: Woot! first fanfic. A one shot! XD
Disclaimers: I do not own Misao or any of the oniwabanshuu, or anything pertaining to the Rurouni Kenshin series. If I did, I'd demand they forget the OAVS and animate the third arc!
"You did WHAT?" Misao nearly dropped her bowl of rice.
Okina sipped his tea calmly, already expecting his young protege's outburst. Everyone at the table except Aoshi and Omasu glanced at Okina curiously. Aoshi continued eating his fish calmly and Omasu looked at Misao nervously. Kuro put down his bowl, and ventured to ask politely,
"You enrolled her into that Christian college, Okina-san?"
"How could you do that without asking me, Jiya!" Misao slammed her bowl onto the table, sending several grains of rice flying into the air.
"Precisely for that reason," Okina muttered, he cleared his throat as he spoke up louder. "It's high time you receive a formal education about how to conduct yourself as a lady. You need to continue your scholarly education as well. You've gone on for too long with just the basics. This school can provide you with more. The Doshisha college recently opened a women's higher education building next door to it's principle building, and is looking for applicants. Yesterday after visiting the doctor with Omasu, I went to talk with Dean Niijima about accepting you. It's been settled now. Omasu and I already bought you the uniform and you can begin classes next week." Okina went back to sipping his tea.
Misao gaped at him in disbelief.
"Y-You-You..." it took her a moment to gather her wits about her, but then her wide eyes narrowed. "You went there yesterday to check out the pretty young ladies, didn't you?!"
Okina choked on his tea. Misao glared, "And lemme guess! You'll happily walk me to and from school everyday won't you?! Damnit, Jiya!"
Omasu sighed as Okon reached over to hit Okina's back to help him breathe again.
"Misao," Omasu spoke up, "Pushing Okina's daily habits aside, it's not a bad idea for you to go to school. You'll learn more than we can ever teach you here. Besides, it'll be interesting. You'll get to learn about the westerners and their culture, I'm certain."
"Along with their creepy religion!" Misao looked at Omasu incredulously. "Of all the girl schools out there, you enrolled me into a Christian one!?" she yelled back at Okina, "They'll make me worship a malnourished guy hanging on a cross everyday! Do you know how creepy that is?!"
"Oh yeah, huh." Shiro looked up, chopsticks still at his mouth, "I had heard that on Sundays they drink his blood and eat from his body too, lucky for you there won't be classes on Sundays, huh Misao?" Shiro teased. Misao paled.
"They're cannibals?! He's still alive and they're eating him?" Her voice cracked in horror. "OKINA! You can't make me go there! How could you?!" she cried accusingly. Then she shook her head, "Ah hell, what am I saying? I'M THE OKASHIRA!"
She stood up to her full five feet and declared over her ninja agents. "I am NOT going to any cannibal western girl's school and that is final!"
"But Misao..." Omasu began.
"Your okashira has spoken! I am done with breakfast. Thank you very much! You can return that uniform today, if you'd like. I do not wish to see it!" with that Misao marched straight out of the dining room.
Omasu sighed and leveled a dry look at Shiro who was snickering to the side.
"You shouldn't have told her that. You know that's not true, our intelligence network found nothing of the sort. They only drink wine and some of their unyeasted bread as a form of tribute to their god."
"Yeah, but it doesn't stop it from being creepy that they think they're eating somebody's flesh or drinking their blood." Shiro put his cup down disgusted. "I dunno. Seriously, Okina, why put her in that school?"
Okina coughed once more and shook his head, "Shiro, as you should know, the Doshisha college is the only insititution in Kyoto that offers a higher education to young women. There wasn't that much of a choice. Until the other colleges or universities here catch up with Tokyo, Doshisha is Misao's best option. Besides, it's the perfect opportunity for Misao to learn more about the westerners. That knowledge will help her in the future if she should have to deal with them."
"True, but you sure that's such a good idea? What with their feminism and liberal ideas, Misao might turn out rebellious with crazy ideas to boot." Shiro scratched his head uncertainly. Okon smirked next to him.
"What? You're saying she could turn out even more rebellious? I don't think there'd be much of a difference." a soft smile then crossed Okon's face. "She should go, it is a good opportunity to learn something we'll never learn." She then rolled her eyes, "Besides, they're still going to try to teach her the same principles they do in Tokyo. How to be a 'good wife and wise mother.' " She mockingly quoted the Confucian-inspired belief that the politicians in Tokyo were proclaiming in order to convince families to send their daughters to school.
"Yeah, teach her..." muttered Shiro looking at Okon with a raised eyebrow, "Somehow, I can't help but think she got that proud feministic streak from you, Okon."
"Hey! I along with Omasu taught her all we could about being a lady. As they say, 'Teachers show the door. Students must choose to enter it.' " Okon replied quite dignified.
"Hm, funny, sounds like Confucius to me. 'Thought you didn't like the guy." Shiro remarked thoughtfully, earning a smack on the shoulder. Okon assured him it was not and smacked him again for his efforts.
"Now, now, regardless of what principles they teach her. As Okon stated, it's up to her to decide what to believe and accept." Okina shrugged, "But the point is to get her there so she can receive information. As ninjas, one of our primary jobs is to gather information. We can then decipher it and act upon it later. We should all try to convince her to go to classes next week. She can then judge whether they suit her or not so she can decide whether to attend next semester. Besides, I already paid her tuition and the books, and I don't think I can get my money back. They certainly cost me an arm and leg." Okina smiled slightly sheepish. Shiro and Kuro sweatdropped.
"You really should have asked her before paying, Okina." Shiro muttered. Kuro nodded. Okon rolled her eyes.
"Maybe..." Omasu began, seemingly concentrated with the empty ceramic plate before her. "Maybe you could talk with her Aoshi-san?" Omasu looked up timidly at Aoshi in front of her. Aoshi had been silent as usual throughout the entire breakfast and was now sipping his tea peacefully.
"Yes, Aoshi. You really should say something. It goes without saying that she'll attend classes enthusiastically if you even suggest the notion to her." Okina tugged his goatee and bow. Everyone looked at Aoshi expectantly.
Aoshi finished sipping his tea and put the cup down.
"You have all stated perfectly good reasons for her to go to school. Let her know about them. Misao is intelligent enough to figure it out for herself in the end." and with that Aoshi stood up and left the room. Okina scowled as the others sighed or rolled their eyes.
"Damn, and I had been hoping he'd save us the trouble." Okon muttered rubbing a temple. Shiro jumped up and patted his gi.
"Well, breakfast was delicious as always ladies, tis high time Kuro and I get back to work. There are yards that need to be sweeped and vegetables that need to be chopped. Have a nice day!"
"Shiro! You already sweeped the yards and we just got finished with breakfast." Okon stopped him in his tracks.
"Aw, Okon-san, you know I'm no good with words. Besides, I was opposed to the idea! You don't want her to hear my opinion. Now if you don't mind, I really gotta go." Shiro ran out the room as Okon glared after him. Kuro smiled sheepishly as he stood up to follow.
"Maybe, you can just tell her what Aoshi said. That'll give her incentive to go ask Aoshi for advice." Kuro stated matter of factly as he left the room too.
"Hm, not a bad idea," Okina rubbed his chin and goatee appreciatively. Okon and Omasu sweatdropped.
"So in the end, we still have to rely on Aoshi to get through to Misao." Omasu sighed as she and Okon began picking up the plates. She paused for a minute, "It can't be good for her to solely rely on one person's word."
Okina said nothing and gazed out the yard.
"Omasu..." Okon stopped and looked at her worriedly. Omasu smiled and took the dishes from her.
"Why don't you go check on the guests, Okon? We've taken too long here. They might be looking for us. I'll finish in the kitchen, don't worry."
Okon nodded and quickly walked out. Okina smiled sadly as he turned to Omasu placing all the dishes on a tray.
"Don't worry, she'll come through on her own. She already did when she decided to take on the role as Okashira. Perhaps the westerners will challenge her to think even more on her own. Yes, Omasu, this idea of yours is very good."
Okina stood up and patted Omasu's shoulder as he left the room as well. Omasu bit her lip thoughtfully as she picked up the tray. She hoped it was.
Omasu blinked as she walked into the kitchen. Misao was busy at the table chopping vegetables away.
"Misao? What are you doing? Lunch won't be for a few hours." she asked placing the tray down.
"That's okay, someone might get hungry before that, and it's always good to be prepared. Ya know, it'll make our business look good. Food served fresh and hot at every hour!"
"It's a good idea isn't it? You see? Ya don't need a college education to get good ideas, and besides, I'm more useful here than stuck inside a class listening to some old fart talking." Misao continued chopping away. Omasu looked hurt.
"Do you...think we don't want you here, Misao?" she asked quietly. Misao paused in her task. "You think that we believe you to be unintelligent?"
"Well," remarked Misao chopping harder at the radishes. "Why else do people go to school? To stop being stupid right? And I wouldn't be surprised if you guys thought I was in the way here. Even though I do have chores, most of my free time is spent wondering if Aoshi needs anything from me and then checking to see if he does." Misao stopped and a look of sadness crossed her face. "And then I find he never does."
Omasu placed an arm around her, and leaned her head on Misao's, understanding finally dawning on her.
"Misao," she whispered, "Are you afraid that if you start spending time away from here, you won't be missed? That you will find out that you really weren't useful to us, or more specifically...to him?"
Misao frowned, but said nothing. Omasu smiled knowing she hit the nail.
"You're not afraid of failing in school are you? Or are you really afraid of those cannibal Christians. I thought Makimachi Misao knew no fear." Omasu grinned as Misao scowled and got out from her arm.
"Of course not!" she cried, once again ferociously chopping defenseless vegetables. "Besides, whatever scary-ass customs those Christians practice, I don't have to follow them if I don't want to. And I'm not stupid! I can learn anything anyone teaches me."
Omasu shook her head. Everything except patience, she smiled.
"You really shouldn't believe everything Shiro tells you, Misao." She remarked walking over to put the dishes into the wash bin. Misao looked at her curiously,
"You mean, they don't really eat a man's flesh or drink his blood?" She put down the knife and walked over to Omasu. Omasu smirked as she began washing the dishes.
"Omasu! Come on tell me! What am I going to be dealing with here?!" Misao whined at her side.
Omasu stopped and looked at her in surprise,
"You mean, you have decided to take on this dangerous task of going to school with the westerners?"
Misao stopped and then bit her lip uncertainly.
"I-I don't know yet. And stop making fun of me!" She splashed Omasu with water as the older woman began laughing.
Okon entered the kitchen, wide-eyed to discover Misao and Omasu both giggling and drenched with soapy water.
"You guys are so mean to me, making me nervous for no reason!" Misao was saying wiping her face with a dry rag. Omasu giggled as she pushed her wet bangs out of her eyes.
"It's not our fault if you never read the intel on those Christian rituals. It's all there, you shouldn't skip over it." she replied smirking.
Okon blinked and walked over to the dishes' washing bin.
"Sure...'go check on the guests, I'll finish cleaning up.' " She remarked noticing the dishes were still dirty. She turned to Misao, "Is this a new torture technique to obtain information, Okashira?" Okon looked at Misao's wet blue home outfit with a raised eyebrow. "Though I believe you got the worse end of it."
Misao stuck her tongue out.
"She started it!" she pointed to Omasu.
"Oh real mature, Misao." Omasu remarked in turn as she rolled her eyes. Okon nodded as she picked up an empty bucket.
"Yes, how about bringing some water from the well. Your efforts at seeking intel exhausted the kitchen's water supply. Those dishes need to be washed ASAP." Okon handed her the bucket.
"Hey! I need to change outta these clothes first, doncha think?!" Misao protested.
"Do that after you bring the water."
Misao grumbled something about okashiras not having to do chores, as she walked out. Okon turned to Omasu who finished drying herself with a towel.
"Well, what she say? Is she going?"
"She's got her doubts, but I think she will."
"Score for Omasu! Now what happens next?" Okon clapped. Omasu looked determined,
"Now, she tries out the uniform."
"Uniform? Oh right, there's a uniform," Okon's smile faded. "Oh no..."
Misao walked in, shivering a bit, as she dumped the water into the washing bin.
"Here's your water! Can I change now?"
"Yes, as a matter of fact you will. I want to show you the Doshisha girl's school uniform." Omasu stepped forward and braced herself for Misao's reaction.
"EH?!" it came after a moment of silence. Okon and Omasu pounced on Misao.
"Come along now, Misao-chan!" Okon cried as she and Omasu dragged Misao out of the kitchen and up the stairs. "You'll catch your death in that wet clothing. The Okashira must watch her health at all times!"
"Hey!! Lemme go! I'll change! I'll change! alright!" Misao tried kicking and jerking herself free. "You don't need to drag me! Just lemme go!"
"Yes, but you must try out the uniform first, it's adorable!" Omasu yelled over her struggling. Misao suddenly became still as they finally got over the stairs.
"What? It's a kimono, isn't it? It is, isn't it?! AAGH! NO LEMME GO! I'm not going to that school! I'm not gonna wear--!" Misao was tossed into her room and her yelling died when her eyes fell upon the uniform laid out on the floor before her. "...that?"
Okon and Omasu gasped for air exhaustedly and rubbed their shoulders as they walked up to Misao.
"See? It's not too bad is it?" Omasu leaned backwards slightly to get a crick outta of her back. "I laid it out before breakfast, so you could see it now."
Okon blinked finally catching sight of the uniform. She tucked a loose hair back into her lovely pinned up hairstyle.
"It looks weird." she remarked after a moment. Omasu elbowed her.
"It does! It's like someone took silk and made a Kendo student's uniform out of it."
"Not exactly, the sleeves are longer, and see, they wear those western heeled boots there and well, even if they're not studying kendo, they are students!" Omasu replied hopeful Misao wouldn't hate it too much.
"I like it."
Omasu and Okon turned slowly and stared wide-eyed at Misao.
The young ninja bent down on her knees and picked up the maroon colored hakama pants and glanced back at the dusty pink kimono with matching obi belt beneath it. She traced her fingers along the tiny burgandy flowers that were scattered delicately across the sleeves and left shoulder. The kimono was very pretty, but only the sleeves and upper part of it would be visible. She would be wearing the hakama pants over it. Yes, it did appear to be the feminized version of a Kendo uniform. At least at first glance it did.
"What? You really do like it?" Omasu brightened up. Okon looked heavenward and smirked,
"Why am I not surprised?"
Omasu elbowed her again.
"It looks pretty, and the hakama pants will allow me a lot of movement that a regular kimono won't. I'm not sure about those boots, though..." Misao's voice trailed uncertainly as she held the clothes.
"Oh don't be afraid of that, Aoshi has boots too, and he never seemed uncomfortable with them." Omasu volunteered. Granted they're not high heeled but no need to mention that.
"Yeah, but that's Aoshi. That guy could be dressed as a geisha and he'd never lose his cool or a step." Okon muttered, this time managing to avoid Omasu's elbow. They glared at each other momentarily, before Omasu turned worriedly to Misao who's shoulders began shaking as she held the garments close to her.
"What is it, Misao?" she asked.
"Sorry, just imagining Aoshi gracefully performing a dance in a silver and blue kimono." Misao wiped a tear and turned to face them.
All three women looked at each other for a few seconds before bursting into laughter.
Aoshi suddenly sneezed as he walked back to the inn. Despite having been supposedly haunted by ghosts of his comrades for almost a year, he still didn't believe in old wife's tales about sneezing when someone was talking about said person. It was late summer, and there was a cool breeze about. Aoshi sniffed as he took his sandals off and stepped into the hall. In the excitement of the morning, he had forgotten to bring his meditation book with him to the temple and came back to retrieve it. He half expected Misao to jump out from around the corner asking him what he needed, but there was no sign of her. Come to think of it, he hadn't seen Okon or Omasu around either. Probably in the kitchen? Aoshi mentally shrugged and walked up the stairs to his room.
"Omasu! Okon!" Shiro's voice rang out from the first floor of the Aoiya. "You're needed down here!"
Said women groaned as they heard their names. They had been helping Misao adjust her kimono and tie her obi.
"The daily deliveries must be here," Omasu finished tying Misao's obi behind her back. "You think you can handle it from here, Misao? We'll be back in a moment."
Misao looked at her dusty pink enveloped-self in the mirror and nodded.
"Ah don't worry about it, I'll just finish dressing up and join you guys in the kitchen."
Omasu and Okon looked at her a little unconvinced but shrugged.
"Okay then," Omasu nodded back, "See you down there."
"And don't wear those boots inside." Okon remarked as she walked out behind Omasu.
"Obviously not!" Misao yelled irritably as Omasu shut the door behind her. She rolled her eyes and leaned over to pick up the hakama pants. She paused uncertainly at them. She had noticed the kimono was shorter than the usual kimono. But some wrinkling probably would still come of having it gather up inside the wide pants. She scratched her head and wondered. She tugged at her kimono allowing her legs more freedom. Then she held the hakama pants ahead of her and tried placing a leg inside it, but paused midway and stood straight up again.
"No wait, is that how you put them on? One leg at a time? Or do you stand over it and pull them up. And then, how do you tie them? It's going to wrinkle, but I don't want it to bunch up between my legs. I won't be able to run with it like that." Misao looked at the long hakama belt sashes attached to the hakama waist line.
Misao had seen men tie their hakamas in a variety of ways. She remembered Kenshin always tied his semi-haphazardly with the straps hanging in front. She had seen Yahiko and the Tenken wear theirs tightly with a little bow in front. And other men tied in the back. But she was a girl, and the hakama was obviously worn higher on girls than on guys.
"Mou! I wish Kaoru was here. She'd know what to do." Misao sighed and grabbed her hakama and opened her door to call out to Omasu to get up there. "Great, just when I told her I could handle it." she muttered as she stepped out into the hall.
Some Okashira, I'm making out to be. 'Can't even dress myself.
At the same time Aoshi had come out of his room down the hall from Misao's room, meditation book in hand. He blinked at Misao, noticing right away her exasperated chi and then her simple pink kimono. Misao walked over to the stairwell and leaned out ready to yell down at Omasu, when she heard a door slide shut down the hall.
Oh, please don't tell me that's... Misao's thoughts came to a stop when she looked up and saw Aoshi staring at her in what she had come to deciphered to be a look of curiosity for him.
"Aoshi-sama! You're back from the temple early! Oh, but no, you forgot your meditation book didn't you? ACK! I'm sorry I was unavailable to get it for you! I was going to take you your tea, but I forgot! I mean, I got occupied with other things, as you can sorta figure out." Misao rambled on nervously as Aoshi walked up to stand in front of her.
Would it kill him to say something instead of just looking at me? Hm, a talkative Aoshi. That sounds like the ninth sign of the Apocalypse. Hu, hu, I do remember my intel on Christian beliefs afterall.
She smiled sheepishly and held up an arm letting the sleeve fall nicely. "It's part of my uniform. Isn't it pretty? And yeah, I've decided to give the school a chance. I'm just having some trouble putting on the hakama here. But I'll be bringing your tea as usual today, so no worries there!" Misao smiled brightly.
"It's only half of your uniform?"
Misao stared at Aoshi, who was also surprised at himself for speaking up.
"Um, yes..." Misao blinked. Suddenly her face flushed in embarrassment.
Oh no, what if he doesn't like it? A hakama over a silk kimono! What was I thinking!? Agh, I have no sense of style! I'll look like a fool, he must think I--wait, no! I'm not the one who came up with this style! It's those stupid Christian scholars from the college! They proabably have a fetish for weird looking girls.
Aoshi sensing her unease about the uniform but not knowing why, decided to try again.
"Do you need help putting on the hakama?"
Misao had been ready to open her mouth to protest the uniform style, when her eyes widened and her jaw fell slack at Aoshi's innocent question.
Apocalypse, here we come.
Aoshi blinked. He had actually meant to say whether she needed to learn how to wear a hakama. But then, coming from him, it still would have sounded wrong no matter which way he worded it. However, being one for actions and not words, Aoshi went on to ignore Misao's gaping fish face, and took the hakama from her frozen hand and examined it. It appeared to be similar to a Shinto priestess habihakama, except for it being a brownish dark red instead of the bright red. With Misao's obi covering her waist, it would probably fit on differently than if it went straight on top of the kimono.
"Is this all that came with it?" he asked her.
Misao blinked in confusion,
"It? OH! The uniform, um...lemme see!" Misao ran back into her room and looked. Now that she thought of it, there was one extra item lying around. She spotted and picked it up quickly, and turned around and nearly yelped when she saw Aoshi standing at her doorway. Nearly, but she restrained herself.
"Ah haha! You guessed right, Aoshi-sama, but I'm not sure what this is used for..." Misao showed him a long strap of dusty pink cloth, trying to avoid stuttering as he walked into her room. Why was she nervous? This was Aoshi-sama, her childhood guardian, after all. Of course, that probably was it too. He's Aoshi-sama. The man of her dreams. And oh, what dreams those were lately. Funny, he was standing inside her room now holding a piece of her clothing, just like he did in some of her dreams. Ack! Bad Misao! Bad! Bad! Don't think about that now! Misao mentally knocked her head against a wall.
Aoshi took the piece of plain cloth and looked at Misao, who was wincing with a blush spread across her face.
"..." Maybe he shouldn't ask. Ah, so that was it. The strap of cloth was long and strong enough to wrap above her hips to hold her obi up, so it wouldn't drag down with the weight of the hakama tied above it. Alright, he knew what to do.
Misao's eyes popped open in shock as she felt something wrap itself around her hips.
"EH!" She was startled to see Aoshi behind her tightening the plain cloth around her in a tie beneath her obi bow that rested on her back. "A-aoshi-sama?"
Aoshi then bent down and placed the hakama on the floor in front of Misao.
"Stand there," he pulled her by the arm to step inside the open hakama. Misao stared wordlessly as Aoshi pulled the maroon fabric over her pink kimono and obi and gave her to hold the front part of the hakama. It didn't bunch up because her kimono spread between the pant legs. He then pulled the back part over Misao's obi bow, and pressed the waistline of the hakama there. Misao blushed at the weight of his hand pressed against her back.
"With both hands take the belt sashes and wrap them tightly behind you, and on top of the obi. Then cross them there to bring them to the front again." Aoshi guided Misao's hands as she pulled the sashes tight behind her. She was stunned into silence to see his actions, moreover, to hear so many words come out of his mouth.
This truly was a day to mark down in the calendar.
Her heart suddenly pounded in her ears when Aoshi raised the hakama a bit in order to cover the obi on her front. It was a quick movement, as she vaguely noticed his fingers pinch the hakama and tug it up higher on her chest. Just as the notion of his proximity hit her, Aoshi's hand was back at the strap she had loosened her hold on it.. She flushed red at the entire situation. Aoshi was dressing her! It was embarrassing and unbelievable, but even then she couldn't stop herself from delighting in the fact that he was actually paying attention to her. Strange way of doing so, but still she'd take what she can get.
She was aware that he probably saw this exercise as another "big brother" duty to the little girl he took in. But even then, it warmed her heart. He cared enough to help her.
And suddenly he stepped away from her. Misao blinked, realizing that neither he nor her were holding onto the hakama anymore. While Misao was daydreaming, he had brought the straps behind her again and tied them in a small bow on her back. Misao stepped over to the mirror in her room.
There stood a rosy cheeked young woman in a dusty pink kimono with a maroon hakama that appeared to flow from her chest down to her ankles. She held up her sleeves and noticed how nicely the dusty pink contrasted with the dark red fabric, which brought out the delicate burgundy flowers on them. She smiled and suddenly twirled around, enjoying the freedom her legs had and the way her hakama spread out freely with the movement. Yes, this would do just nicely.
Aoshi stood in the back silently gazing as his protege, now the Okashira, giggled at her image in the mirror. His eyes softened at the satisfied enchanted look on Misao's soft face. As she twirled about childlike, he thought she resembled a flower blossom spinning in the wind as it descended upon the earth. He had missed hearing her tinkling laughter after so long. The restlessness that had hung over Misao these past months had faded to nothing in this moment. It relieved him, but saddened him to know that he was the cause of her anxiety. This little favor he did, was his way of making up for it. Misao twirled around once more and stopped when she noticed him again. Aoshi's face showed nothing, but he knew that over the months she had learned to read him slightly.
It was his eyes that sometimes betrayed him, he had once overheard her saying.
Misao shyly held up her sleeves to cover the blush that was coming. She had caught him staring at her with an indescribable expression in his eyes before his mask of indifference was set in place again.
"Thank you, Aoshi-sama," She quickly bowed. Without looking at him, she asked shyly. "Does it...does it suit me?"
Aoshi gave her a nod, but then noticed she wasn't looking at him yet.
"Yes." he spoke softly to calm her doubts. Misao's eyes widened momentarily at the gentleness in his voice, but then a brilliant smile graced her face.
"Thank you!" she laughed happily, finally looking up at him. "Come on, Aoshi-sama, Okon and Omasu must be wondering where I am. Time to show them your nice handiwork!" she meant to reach over to take his sleeve. "Oh, but I better take these with me to try outside." Misao stopped and went over to pick up her boots. She missed Aoshi's eyes widening at her previous words. Unbiddenly, the image of a smirking Okon and Omasu came to him. He forgot to take into account that particular consequence of helping Misao. Once Okina would find out, the perverted old man would never let him live it down. Damn.
"Is something wrong Aoshi-sama?" Misao blinked innocently as she stood in front of him, holding her boots. Aoshi shook his head and extended his arm to let Misao pass first. Misao smiled and skipped out of her room, Aoshi in tow.
As he closed the door behind him, he spoke up.
"Misao, where did you learn to tie a hakama like that?"
Misao blinked in confusion,
"I didn't tie it, you did."
"I did?" he asked, still unexpressive as ever.
"Yeah, just a while ago, you..." Misao's eyes suddenly widened in understanding.
Aoshi closed his eyes and nodded.
"Ah ha haha! You're right, I did!" Misao laughed nervously. "Heh, heh, no need for anyone, specifically Okon, Omasu and Okina," she muttered their names darkly, "...to know where I learned to tie my hakama. I just did! See, I'm very multi-talented, Aoshi-sama. Just the perfect Japanese girl to go to college, don't you think?"
Aoshi only nodded as they walked down the stairs together, relieved his reputation (and hers) was saved once more. Yes, Misao was very bright, she was quick to grasp onto things. She'd make an excellent Okashira.
"By the way, Aoshi-sama, I was meaning to ask you something."
For that he was thankful.
"Did you ever go to college?"
History notes: After the manga series ended, the author, Watsuki, illustrated an epilogue story that had Misao, Aoshi, and Megumi visiting Tokyo to have a picnic reunion with Kenshin and his family. I got to see scans of the epilogue so I could see the characters as they are several years after the series ended.
But to my dismay Misao cut her hair! Eh, I'm a fan of long hair, how she could do that is beyond me, especially considering in Japan they had prohibited it at some point. But I'm going to address that when I write my big fanfic. This one-shot here works to address how she came to wear the typical uniform all female students in Japan's Meiji era (1868-1912) wore when they were allowed to get a secondary education. I had seen pictures in a Kimono book that featured Japanese girls wearing a dark hakama over their kimonos and western high heeled boots on their feet. Such was the Meiji school girl uniform. Imagine my surprise, at finding out the outfit that Misao wore in the epilogue was not of her own making, but that of a school uniform. I'm not sure if this was only a uniform, since girls ended up wearing it out of school as well. I can't blame them tho, it certainly seems less constricting than the traditional kimono. So it makes sense for tomboyish Misao to sport it too, even out of school. At first glance, they look a bit odd and apparently were thought so back then, since there were plenty of ugly charicatures of the Meiji schoolgirl in comedy magazines of that day. But I find them charming. It suits Misao, I'd say.
Before, only females from the samurai and upper classes were educated and they were educated at home. However, with the Meiji restoration, in efforts to westernize the country, the government figured a better Japan needed everyone to be educated and finally allowed girls of all classes to attend the universities. Their reasoning was that Japan's future children should be raised by educated mothers. Despite the patiarchal reasoning behind the movement, it was a good step towards women's rights.
The Doshisha college does exist in Kyoto and was built during the Meiji restoration by a Japanese Christian with the help of several westerners. It is also the first college in Kyoto to build a woman's college next door. I'm not sure when exactly they added the women's college of liberal arts, but I'm assuming it was before 1900. My story is having it opened in 1880, eh, artistic license if you will. XD Also Japan decided to adopt the French school system, not exactly sure how that is run, but I know young girls at Misao's age were attending college in Japan. The dean, Jo Niijima, that Okina mentions, was the first principal of this women's college.
Also before anyone gets offended, recall that Christianity had been prohibited in Japan until the Meiji restoration, and so most folks distrusted Christians. XD This is all done in good humor. I'm a Catholic, so no one bite my head off. XD This is what happens when cultures clash.
Review if you like happy fanart! X3