IF ONLY I COULD BE THE ONLY ONE
(Note: I don't own Saiunkoku Monogatari and the characters. I am just a fan.)
Chapter 1: The Reunion by Heart
Kou Shuurei had been busy the whole week doing her job as the co-governor of Sa province. She had been working very hard with Eigetsu, her fellow governor. They had been investing time, money, and effort to make the province into a center for research. And with Master Kokujun being the head of the Sa household in place, it was less of work for them. They don't have to worry about it that much anymore, for the Sa family had settled their family feud. If his marriage to Shunki would be the topic, they will definitely support it and allow the family to decide.
One day, a messenger came in, bringing a scroll. Shuurei took it and requested the messenger to leave. The letter was from her father, Shouka, and he had relayed the message that their faithful henchman Seiran, was finally home. Shuurei felt her heart aching in pain, her fingers shaking, and her tears falling. She had missed Seiran, who had been missing for months. She no longer had a bodyguard, and Assistant Governor Ro Ensei had to do the job in his place. For Ensei, it was a piece of cake to brawl with enemies. But doing tactical and intelligence matters while guiding the young governors was another matter.
Shuurei held a meeting with the other officials of the province, and stated that something back home had come up. She knew she had to give up her comfort zone at home and focus on serving the province, but this errand is simply an emergency. She stated that Seiran had returned, and Ensei thought that it would do her best if she leaves the rest of the administration to him and Eigetsu. Ensei knew that his silent friend was not only Shuurei's personal bodyguard; he was also like a family member already.
And so, Shuurei traveled for a month to be able to get back to her home. She went first to the Imperial Palace to give her courtesy to the Emperor. When she got there, the two officers, Ran Shuuei and Ri Kouyuu met her at the gates.
"It's good to see you again, Lady Shuurei," Shuuei said.
Shuurei bowed to the two gentlemen and smiled at them. "I'm pleased to see you too, Ran-shogun and Kouyuu-sama."
"What brought you here? Did anything wrong happen at Sa Province?" Kouyuu asked.
"No, nothing," she replied amiably. "I am just here to pay my respects to the Emperor and to visit my father at the archives."
The two gentlemen accompanied her to the royal office. Shi Ryuuki, emperor of the Imperial State, was so glad to see her when she arrived. He forgot about being an emperor and suddenly hugged her tight like a child hugging a teddy bear.
"Waaaaah… Shuurei!" Ryuuki exclaimed contentedly.
"Get off of me, Ryuuki!" was her disgusted reply. The other two men laughed to see them both acting just like in the days of old. They knew only Shuurei calls Ryuuki by his name.
"But I miss you, can you not see that?" Ryuuki reasoned out childishly.
"Hmph!" Shuurei scoffed.
Shuuei cleared his throat and announced that he and Kouyuu are going to get out so that the two of them will have some moments to themselves. When the two men left, Ryuuki got serious and sat down on his chair. He invited Shuurei to take a seat.
"What brought you here, all of a sudden? By no means had I called for you," Ryuuki mildly asked.
Shuurei said that her father had sent her a note, which made her come back home. She knew that as an official, she had to pay her respects to the emperor first. And so, she stated to the emperor all the achievements they had done at the province, as well as their proposals for incoming projects. Ryuuki thought about it and saw that her proposals had been very good. He would have to provide for their needs, he promised.
"What note had Shouka sent you?" was his surprised remark.
Her heart ached. She knew Ryuuki had professed his love for her, but then she couldn't betray herself to let Ryuuki know that her heart was in pain for Seiran.
"Father said that Seiran had come home," she told him.
Ryuuki sat up straight and looked at her thoughtfully.
"Yes, Shouka told me that," Ryuuki fumed a bit. "I wonder why he suddenly left his post as your guard when I had appointed it to him."
"Maybe he had some reasons for it, but please do not punish him, I beg of you, Ryuuki," Shuurei pleaded. "I must talk to him to know straight from him what went wrong."
Ryuuki relaxed his guard. Yes, he had no right to judge Seiran though he was the emperor. And so, he allowed his governor to go the archives to meet her father.
When she went to the archives, Shuurei saw her father dusting old records.
"Tadaima," she greeted her father.
Her coming home was not an ordinary one, so saying those greetings really meant, finally I am home.
"Okaeri, Shuurei," Shouka said as he hurriedly got up to embrace his daughter. Tears fell down his eyes, for he missed his daughter so much.
And so, Shouka let his daughter in and served her with his awful brew of tea. While they were at it, they had discussed political matters both in the imperial city and in Sa province. Later on, their talk had been about Seiran.
"He has a high fever recently, and it had not subsided for days," Shouka said. "I am so worried about him."
Shuurei bit her lips. She knew Seiran had always been as strong as an ox, and he rarely had a sick day. So she declared that she was going home to check on him. Shouka gave her a pack of new herbs which the imperial doctors had discovered recently and had started to prescribe.
Kouyuu and Shuuei accompanied her ladyship to the house. When they went there, the house was still dilapidated and looked all the worse. They got inside and found out that there was not a single food in the pot. Shuurei and the gentlemen went to Seiran's room and found him crouching, his back facing them. Shuurei's heart felt it would die when she saw him.
"Seiran!" she said to him as she went over and bent him.
Seiran perked up a bit. She saw that there was a bit of a blush on his face and a weak look on his eyes.
"Ojou…" he weakly replied.
"Seiran, we are glad that you came back," Kouyuu said, relieved. "Where had you been all this time, buddy? It is just this morning that we knew that you had been here along."
"You should get well soon so we could hang out at the red-light district and drink all we want and flirt all we want with the women there," Shuuei said.
Shuurei jabbed the shogun's ribs so bad that Shuuei had to cringe in pain. Seiran laughed as Kouyuu and Shuurei reprimanded the shogun for his skirt-chasing behavior.
"Jaa, if you would be so kind, please buy vegetables and meat for our hodgepodge today," Shuurei requested the two gentlemen as she handed money to them.
Ran-shogun declined, offering to pay for the resources instead. When the two men left, Shuurei encourage Seiran to get up and sit down.