Standard Disclaimers Apply.
It felt so good being in Sou-chan's arms like that, having his lips on mine, hearing him say the three words I had been longing to hear from Aoshi-sama since I knew what the word love meant.
Though I claimed to love Aoshi-sama, somehow it felt so right to kiss him.
It was like I understood what love really meant and I felt it or Sou-chan.
And that thought really scared me.
It scared me so much that I froze when I heard myself moaning his name. Was this the name my heart was crying out for but I was too stubborn to listen?
I was so confused that I ran as far as where my feet could take me, drenched in the rain, to go to the person I was supposed to love.
"Aoshi-sama," I said breathlessly as I entered the temple. "Aoshi-sama!"
I went around searching frantically for him. I needed to know what I was feeling. I needed him to…
"Misao! What are you doing here!? Why are you wet?" Aoshi reprimanded, giving me a look over.
"What!?" His eyes widened in shock, mouth slightly open.
"I said kiss me." My heart was pounding against my chest but I didn't care. I needed to know. Slowly, I placed my hand on his cheeks, pulling him closer. I leaned forward towards his face as my eyes instinctively closed.
At that point, I knew I could not kiss Aoshi-sama.
I dropped my hands and took a step back.
"Misao, what do you think you're doing?" Aoshi-sama asked me again.
I raised my eyes to his, sighing deeply. "Do you love me?"
However, almost as soon as our eyes met, he looked away. "You already know the answer to that," came his reply.
"No, I don't. Can you look in my eyes and tell me directly that you love me?"
He lifted up his gaze to meet my own as he said, barely in a whisper, "I love you, Misao."
This was it. The words I had been wanting to hear all my life but why didn't it make me happy. Why didn't it make me want to throw my arms around him and kiss him all over.
Why didn't I feel anything?
"What about you?" he asked.
What about me?
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I placed my hands on my heart.
What did I feel?
Then, it occurred to me. Softly, I spoke, "If I were to tell you that I love you this instant, it wouldn't be my heart talking. It would be because of flattery… of happiness of a childhood dream finally coming true. Aoshi-sama, whenever I close my eyes and open my heart, it's not your face that I see anymore."
"Tenken no Soujiro."
A smile crept up my lips. "So you knew."
"I wasn't sure at first. I thought you were just friends."
"That is what made me love him. He is my best friend. He knows me as I him. You don't."
"Of course I know you. I was the one there when you grew up. I love you as a child and I love the woman you can become."
"But you see, Sou-chan loves me for who I am now. You were there while I was growing up, but you left. Even when you came back, you never really returned. No matter how hard I opened to you, you shut me out. How could you say that you love me when you don't even know me? When you keep on trying to change me?"
"You know, a few months ago, this could've been the best day of my life."
At that, I left.
As I trekked the long path home, I remembered a conversation I had with Kaoru a couple of months ago.
Read "Silent Burning" http:// www. fanfiction.net /read.php? storyid=1401862 (just remove the spaces)
After Misao left, I sped up towards the temple. I didn't need to follow her to know where she was heading. I got there a couple of seconds before her.
Early enough to see the torn expression of her face.
She must have felt that she had betrayed Aoshi.
That was all I needed to see before I left.
I spent the rest of the evening under the shade of the tree we always sat on. I didn't care if I was soaking wet at that time. I didn't care if the autumn breeze chilled my back. None of them could compare to the pain I was feeling.
So this was the feeling of love.
For the rest of the day, I did not know what to do. I wandered the familiar streets of Kyoto and somehow, I still felt lost.
I had been too accustomed of Misao's presence.
I knew I should return to the Aoiya like everything else was normal. After all, Misao and I were still friends. Aoshi and her had settled everything and they were probably getting married.
However, what if everything did not turn out okay. What if he hurt her again?
What if he didn't? Could I bear see them so happy with each other?
Questions like this plagued me the whole day but in the end, I knew that there was only one home I could go back to.
At the same cliff we went to everyday, I saw her there, wearing her favorite onmitsu uniform, waiting. "Misao," I breathed out.
She turned to me, smiled and held out her hand. "I knew you would be here."
I walked towards her and shook my head to turn down her offered hand. Instead, I pulled her to a tight embrace and kissed her shoulder. "How can you say that?"
"Because you told me that you were going to protect my happiness."
I pulled her down under the shade of the tree as we watched the sunset. She rested her head on my shoulder and whispered. "I didn't kiss Aoshi-sama."
"What?" My eyes widened in surprise.
Did I just hear her correctly?
She took my hand and kissed the back of it as she looked at me in the eyes. "I couldn't betray the man I love."
Smiles were exchanged.
Words were disregarded.
As I felt her lips on mine under the crimson skies, I knew…
… I had found my answer.
It's about completion. About filling the emptiness…
To everyone… I thank you for the support you had given me in this fic. We all fell in love with Soujiro/Misao together.
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