Today is February 29th and I wanted to write this as a tribute to my grandparents who have both passed away. Please enjoy and review.
Kaoru stood outside her office building, waiting for the bus to arrive and drop him off. She could just imagine him stepping down to the ground and turning those violet eyes upon her before droppings his bags and holding her tightly as she jumped into his waiting arms. His arms waiting for her as hers had waited for his all these many months.
She looked at her watch: six-thirty. He should have been here three hours ago but there had been word that one of the buses had broken down. Because of her luck it just had to be his bus.
She turned back to the commissary. "Maybe I should just wait inside? Go sit behind my desk and wait calmly. No, if I wait inside then he'll show up and not see me waiting for him and leave. Is that what I want? No, it isn't."
"Evening, Kaoru," her friend Misao said as she exited their office. "The colonel said you can finish the bookkeeping next week. Are you sure you're okay waiting by yourself?"
Kaoru smiled at her short friend. "I'm fine. How can I not be? I haven't seen him in over two years."
"Yes, but things will be different now."
"Not that different."
"Getting married is a big step. I just wished I'd had as much courage as you and had asked Aoshi instead of waiting for him to return and ask me and now we've got this big long engagement that I don't really want."
Kaoru smiled. Misao could rattle on for hours if nothing stopped her. "Once you've been married once, a long second engagement just doesn't make sense."
"Oh, I'm sorry, Kaoru. I forgot about Sojiro."
The smile didn't leave her face but it saddened. "Don't worry about it, Misao," she said as they walked to sit on a nearby bench. "Kenshin's not a replacement for him, but I know that Sojiro wouldn't have wanted me to be alone. Kenshin's a good man, he'll take care of me. Sojiro would have liked him. They would have had a lot in common."
"Kaoru, if you don't mind my asking, how did he die?"
"No, it's fine. He had a brain aneurism. There was nothing we could do. God just decided it was his time."
"Do you ever think about what would have happened if it hadn't happened? Do you think he would have been sent to the war as well?" She looked to where her friend had zoned out. "Kaoru?"
Kaoru was so deep in thought that her friend's words couldn't reach her.
"I now pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss the bride."
Sojiro pulled her into his arms and captured her lips with his. The kiss was infused with the passion only newlyweds can attain. He pulled back as stared at his new bride. "I love you."
"I love you, too." She placed a chaste kiss on his lips. "I guess I should be glad you're a patient man?"
"You have no idea."
Ten months later . . .
"There had better be a wedding soon," Kaoru's father growled at Sojiro.
"Oh, Daddy," she crossed the room and placed a kiss on his cheek. "That was ten months ago. You don't have to worry about anything." She went back to her husband who put his arm around her waist.
"Ten months ago? Why didn't you tell us?"
"Because I wasn't ready to be married yet but I knew that if I didn't marry Sojiro right then I would lose him. So we agree to go to Lake Charles to elope and not tell any one until I was ready."
Kaoru's father shook his head and extended his hand to Sojiro. "I'm sorry, son. I should have known better. You're a man of honor."
"You're too kind, sir."
"Take care of my little girl. She's the only one I've got."
"You've still got Sano and Yahiko. Besides we'll only be two streets away."
Kaoru shook her head. "Huh, oh, I'm sorry Misao. I was just thinking about some things."
"Yeah. But don't worry about it. They're all happy memories." She sighed and looked up to slowly darkening sky. "I just have to tell myself how lucky I am to have found two wonderful men when some women can't even find one."
"Kenshin is a good man."
"A true southern gentleman when there are so few left." She looked to her friend. "Aoshi's a good man, too."
Misao smiled widely. "He is, isn't he?"
Before Kaoru could answer a bright set of headlights rounded the corner. Kaoru stood with her hand over her heart and stared down the road with her hand over her heart as her breath caught in her chest. Misao stood next to her friend with her hand on Kaoru's shoulder.
The bus traveled up the road at what seemed to Kaoru an agonizingly slow pace. Time seemed to stand still as the bus's wheels creaked to a stop. "Misao, he's here. He's finally home."
The door of the bus folded in half before sliding to the right revealing an opening in the metal side. She could see a man's body stand and pull a bag down from the rack overhead before walking down the aisle. His head was above the windows and the two women on the ground couldn't see his face. He paused at the front of the bus to offer his thanks and a goodbye to the driver and then took the three steps that would lead him to the ground and Kaoru.
Just like in her fantasy he dropped his luggage as she began running towards him. He opened his arms and swept her into them, spinning around as lifted her into the air and crushed his lips against hers. When he sat her back down on the ground he brushed a lock of hair that had escaped from her bun behind her ear. "I love you."
"I love you, too."
"I missed you." He said before meeting her lips with his own again. He pulled away from her and pulled an envelope out of his back pocket and handed it to her. She looked up at him baffled. "Open it."
Inside it was a small piece of paper with the words "I accept," written in black ink.
"Kenshin, you already accepted," she said, her voice and eyes betraying a mix of confusion and excitement.
"I wanted to tell you in person. It was difficult to do so while I was in Germany." She laughed and the sound was music to his ears. "I'm so glad last year was a leap year," he said as he pulled another envelope from breast pocket. "I've kept this close to my heart since I received it. It's the only thing that's kept me going." He kissed her forehead. "Thank you so much for proposing, I don't know if I would have had the courage to do it when I returned."
"It was a leap year and I knew that I wanted you and no one else. How could I not have asked you?" He smiled down at her. "Let's go home, Kenshin."
"I am home."
My grandmother was an interesting woman. She met my grandfather when he was stationed at Fort Polk and proposed to him through a letter while he was in Germany for WWII during the following leap year. She did lose her first husband that way and did elope and not tell anyone. She and my grandfather had a normal wedding and lived and were married for fifty-seven years before his death separated them in 2003. She followed three years later.
For anyone who doesn't know it is socially acceptable women to propose on leap years.