Light in the Dark
By: Manna


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She had a brilliant smile. She had the ability to light up a room when she walked into it.

Shinomori Aoshi watched as Misao talked to Kamiya Kaoru. The petite woman-child—some days he was unsure of what to consider her—seemed terribly excited about something. Excited enough that her white teeth were showing as she beamed.

He didn't need to know what the subject matter was. He didn't care. A part of him longed to be closer to them—to her, to Misao. If he could soak up the warmth, the light, of that smile, he would be all right. He sighed and looked away, focusing for a long time on the blades of grass as they moved in the slight breeze.

"Aoshi-sama?" she asked, approaching him. Her expression had turned somewhat serious. He felt chilly. "Kaoru-san and I are going out." She blessed him with a new smile when he gave her a nod of acknowledgement. He felt warm. He tried to immerse himself in that warmth, that heat. For a moment, he basked in the beautiful light that she gave off, lapping it up with such thirst and longing and need that he surprised himself.

It wasn't quite enough to reach his heart.

He lifted his gaze, and his eyes met hers.

Her smile grew, and he felt protected. How odd, he thought to himself.

"We'll be back soon!" she told him, and then she was gone, taking the light—the warmth—with her.

He needed her. Did she know that? He could not tell her. He didn't have the words.

He was not the type of man to smile, or perhaps he lacked the know-how. How difficult could it be, he wondered, to lift the corners of his mouth? He found he lacked the strength.

Title of the strongest, he scoffed.

He was weak.


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Author Notes:

I like how this one turned out. Aoshi is a man who struggles in the dark—not to stay there, but to find his way out. I picture this as taking place at the end of the manga, before Aoshi and Misao leave to return to Kyoto. Feedback would be much appreciated! (This was written for the 365Drabbles community on LiveJournal!)