He could see the past, the present, and the impossible future whenever he looked at her. Impossible, because he was not deserving. Impossible, because he refused to accept something that he had no right to.
There had been a fork in the road.
They were on different paths, the two of them.
She was running far, far ahead.
She smiled at him and pushed a tray in his direction. The outrageous jokes, the silliness—she had given up on those things. He did not know how he felt about it. She hadn't given up on him, after all.
He took the cup of hot tea, but left the snacks untouched.
She blinked, and he looked into the steamy, liquid depths of his considerably less-confusing teacup to avoid looking directly at her. The sound of her voice came hesitantly—as it had been doing more and more often as the weeks passed—but it wasn't long before words filled the silence between them.
Bitterness filled his mouth as he sipped his drink silently and let her talk. When her gaze moved away from him, he glanced up at her, and for one moment, allowed himself the guilty pleasure of looking through her.
Her eyes were a sea-sprayed blue—or were they green?—that told him everything and nothing simultaneously. Happy, he thought in that instant. She was happy. Honestly happy. And he averted his eyes, a foggy grey-green that most would liken to frosted glass that overlooked the ocean.
He found clarity in something as meaningless—as silly—as looking at her, but Misao—in her entirety—could be seen through the windows that were her eyes. If she felt happy, or sad, he would know by simply looking. He could see the little girl she had been, and the woman she had become.
She was staring at him, and he realized he had been asked a question. He had the decency to meet her gaze as he raised an eyebrow.
"I said, do you want some more tea?" She jiggled the teapot around as if to emphasize her point, and laughed quietly. "Off in your own little world, aren't you, Aoshi-sama?"
He nodded and held his empty cup out for her. He knew she did not expect him to elaborate, so he simply watched as she poured the tea. Her wrist was thin, he noticed, and he followed the line of her arm to her shoulder, and then to her face.
She smiled at him again.
Such beautiful eyes, he thought. Untainted, clean, and so very, very clear.
Misao saw the fork in the road, too; the two roads had split apart. The path she had taken was considerably shorter than his. She was so far ahead.
But somewhere down the path, he thought suddenly as she started telling a tale concerning something amusing that had happened at the Aoi-ya, those roads came together. Her laugh was loud and obnoxious, completely out of place in the temple.
Beautiful, he thought again.
He could not tear his eyes from hers, even as her chuckles softened and eventually ceased.
"What is it, Aoshi-sama?" she asked him after a time, her eyebrows drawn together in concern. "Is something wrong?"
"Misao." The sound of her name lit up her expression. A small puff of air left his lips; perhaps it was a sigh. "It is nothing," he finally said, forcing his gaze to his lap.
The different paths they were on would eventually merge. She was far ahead of him, it seemed.
But she would wait for him to catch up.
They say that a person's eyes are windows to their soul. And Misao has such expressive eyes. Feedback is very much appreciated!