Regrets after it's too late

Sometimes I see her when I go to the dojo to think. I can finally admit to myself that she is a beautiful woman, at least when she smiles. She smiles so rarely, and I know it's my fault.

Her hair is still short. She's never let it grow long, since the day it was cropped short during my battle with Ryouga. Short hair suits her, though I never could have admitted it when we were together. She wanted to be like Kasumi, or maybe her mother, but she hasn't the temperment. If she were like Kasumi, I don't think I would have fallen in love with her.

She looks the same as she did the last time I saw her alive. Angry, sad and defiant. I wish I could have told her I love her before it was too late. I know she loved me, I wish I could just hold her, maybe hug her, but we're unable to touch.

Sometimes I rage against the unfairness of it all. She's found some measure of peace, but I continue to grieve. I ought to leave this dojo, she belongs here, and I don't. But this house was the first place I lived that felt like home. And this is one of the few places I can pretend we're still together. When I don't see her, I can pretend she'll enter shortly, and pound me over another girl, or her own cooking. When I can see her, I can pretend she's ignoring me.

Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like for us, if Happosai's last bomb killed Akane, instead of me.