It had been five days since the wedding and Kaoru still felt disbelief. It was done and she was no longer alone. Kenshin had come into her life and she didn t have to worry about anything anymore. He promised her so. Things went back to normal, soon afterwards. She trained Yahiko and Kenshin still did laundry in the morning before he left to work. Today progressed as any day would. Kaoru sat outside on the porch sipping on the tea Kenshin made for her before he left. Her thoughts turned to the looming clouds in the distance. Soon there would be an awful storm and she cringed at the thought of all the mud and water that would later accumulate into the dojo. She shrugged. It wasn t such a problem. She just hated for visitors to see her dojo dirty. She took a deep breath and stood. Then she heard the visitor bell chime just outside the gate.
*Who could that be?* She wondered. Sano had come by earlier. It couldn t be him. The wind started to pick up and send sand into the air around her. She pulled up her hand to shield her eyes. She opened her gate and felt her mouth gape open at her visitor.
"Misao!" Kaoru exclaimed upon seeing the young woman. There Misao stood in all her motherly glory. She was dressed in a kimono and it hid her pregnancy well. She smiled prettily as she walked into Kaoru s embrace. The wind picked up again and sent Misao s loose hair flying about. They separated and Kaoru led Misao into the guest room to get away from the violent weather.
"I am so glad you came to see me." Kaoru said. "I have been by myself about the go crazy without conversation."
"Me, too." Misao said as she slowly settled onto the mat. "Aoshi went to the police station to visit with some acquaintances." She smiled again.
"Can I get you anything Misao?"
"I am fine for now. Let s just sit and talk. I am too tired to do anything else." She giggled. "Besides I promised you a story, didn t I?"
"You sure did." Kaoru said as she sat anxiously. "Tell me everything. Don t leave anything out."
"Don t worry, I won t. Now where should I begin?" Misao said as she touched her chin, pondering.
"Well it really started when I ran to him after the fight with Shishio ."
Aoshi had already entered a certain daze by the time they had reached the town. Sano kept Kenshin on his shoulders as he slipped in and out of consciousness. Throughout the journey he tried to push aside all the thoughts of Okina. What he did to him was inexcusable but every time he thought of that day his heart would ache more with the thought of Misao when he treated her so coldly that day. Then he kept remembering Kenshin s words about no one wanted Aoshi to die. No one wanted revenge. They just wanted him back and healthy in mind and spirit. He counted on it and hoped for it.
The thought of Misao crying over him made him feel even more guilt but as always he hid it behind his stoic fa ade. Before he knew it he was in town and walking toward the Aoiya. He felt a strange twist in his gut when he saw the ruined restaurant but was somewhat relieved when he saw the group of people sitting in front. Kaoru, Yahiko, Okina, a man he had never seen before with an awkward coat, and Misao. They hadn t noticed him yet and he just continued walking, assessing with his eyes the full extent of the damages. They were just sitting there resting and waiting. Then the man with the strange coat spotted them in the distance. He saw Misao turn her gaze in his direction and her face began to change. Aoshi could see her eyes light up the moment she spotted them amidst the threesome. Then she began to cry, with the biggest smile on her face. It was the oddest thing Aoshi had ever seen. Misao s smile and tears were for him. Even after what he had done. Then they started to run towards them. Kaoru sobbing with worry, her voice laced with gratefulness. Then Misao s voice seem to sing above the rest of them. She ran as fast as she could holding her obviously broken ribs. Aoshi wanted to yell out to her, to tell her to stop running with her injury but he knew she wouldn t have heard him.
"Lord Aoshi, you came back. You came back!" Her voice lifted over and over. The pain in her ribs was gone compared to the joy she felt now. Her lord, her love was back home. She slammed herself into his body and cried tears of happiness into his clothes.
Aoshi really didn t know how to react. His face kept its ridged pose but his heart was breaking to actually see these big tears Kenshin had told him about. His arm came up as if on its own and tenderly placed his hand on the back of her head and pressed her closer, so she could weep close to his heart. He kept his features taunt as ever but he could do nothing to still the rapid beating of his breaking heart.
Misao couldn t believe it! He didn t try to push her away, to reject her. He held her to him. Misao could see Kaoru crying through the layers of Aoshi s coat. She had already pulled Kenshin s free side over her shoulder to help carry Sano s burden. Yahiko just danced nervously backwards making sure that Kenshin was indeed alive. Then she heard Kaoru tenderly assuring Kenshin that she was ok and that she was right there.
"Misao." Aoshi said quietly. Misao stopped her weeping and looking up at him. He said her name the way he used to when she was a child, crying from a bad nightmare. Only this time it was saturated with so many other emotions that she couldn t even place one of them.
Aoshi s stone like expression always made it seem as though he was very simple, thinking simple things, feeling very little. But with his voice she could hear his heart. At least Misao always felt she could. That is why she knew he had a smile.
When he had said her name she felt a pull so strong and deep that she wanted to start weeping again. She just stared up at him and smiled, showing him that she was done crying now. He acknowledged it with a gentle nod and released his tender grip from her hair. She just stood in awe looking at him as he made his way to Okina and the others.
The place where he had his hand tingled from his touch. She couldn t help her blush. "Lord Aoshi " she whispered into the dark as the world seemed to stop for just a moment. Hope bloomed in her heart and she knew that everything was going to be alright.