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Crimson Skies
By: Chibi-angel

Chapter 5


Standard Disclaimers Apply.

~~~~~

[Misao]

I woke up early this morning, with a silly smile hanging on my face. I don’t know why I was extra happy this morning since my memories of last night were still in disarray. Sighing contentedly, I closed my eyes, allowing my mind to drift to what happened last night.

“Soujiro and I spent the night together,” I smiled upon remembering how I fell asleep, listening to his voice. Huh? Then what? I scratched my head, looking at my surroundings. Oh yeah… he carried me back to my room.

Sou-chan is such a sweet friend.

I went out of my room, feeling my heart soaring. I didn’t even know why. Maybe it was because I was anticipating my meeting with Aoshi-sama this morning.

“Good morning, Soujiro!!” I greeted him gaily as I skipped towards the kitchen.

“Good morning, Misao! Are you going to Shinomori-kun?”

I nodded and smiled as I eyed him from head to foot. It was the first time that I actually looked at him since we met and I liked what I saw. He had a very cheerful and good-natured demeanor that one would never expect him from the famous Tenken no Soujiro. His hair was still the same. He had grown inches since I last saw him and his face? His face carried a tinge of matured innocence. All this and more made him cute and… appealing.

What am I saying!? Of course he wasn’t as appealing as my gorgeous Aoshi-sama! I just never noticed how cute his butt was… I mean, he was.

Soujiro immediately faced me, blushed furiously and scratched his head, “Ano… Thank you, Misao.”

Oh. My. God! I can’t believe I voiced out my thoughts like that. “Eto… Soujiro,” I stammered. “I have to go. I don’t want to be late.” At that, I bolted away from the scene.

From him.

“There you are, Misao-chan!!” a giddy voice called out from behind, causing my slippers to skid on the floor as I came into a sudden halt.

“Yes, Jiya?” I asked.

“I want you to accompany, Soujiro-kun, to the market. He insisted on doing household chores for us so I want you to accompany him until he becomes accustomed to the routine.”

“Sou-chan!? Me?” I asked in disbelief. I couldn’t face him now! Not after that spasmic comment I said earlier. “Couldn’t you ask Okon or Omasu instead? I have to go to Aoshi-sama!” I whined.

“Alright then, just accompany Soujiro-kun after your meeting with Aoshi.”

No!! There must be some other way! Maybe I could just accompany Sou-chan when he had already forgotten! Like some time in the next century! Ugh! Now every time I am with him, he might be thinking that I am staring at his cute toned butt which I would never ever won’t. Except of course when he bends over, giving me a front seat view, which by the way, I wouldn’t look at in the first place because Aoshi-sama’s rear is much and way way much cuter.

I panted after my long mental debate. Who said you really need to speak up to get tired talking? Or something like that…

In any case, I had to save myself of the embarrassment.

“But—”I was about to protest when Jiya gave me that look. A look I knew far too well than to cross. Sighing in resignation, I nodded.

When I had proceeded to the kitchen to prepare the stuff I needed, Sou-chan was already there, washing the dishes, smiling at me.

I smiled at him faintly, feeling a blush creep up my cheeks. I still couldn’t believe what I had said… what I had thought earlier. I didn’t normally think that way… except the time when I first saw Himura, which was an exemption because… because…

Hmph! Must be the hormones.

Deciding that the best way to move on was to forget everything that happened a while ago, I acted as if nothing ever happened. “Hey, Sou-chan! So, we are going to the market later, huh?”

He nodded. “Sorry for the inconvenience. I had insisted that I could do it alone but Ojii-sama told me that you should come with me.”

“That’s alright,” I smiled. “By the way. You don’t really need to call Jiya, Ojii-sama. It sounds to old and too… I don’t know… condescending on your part, I guess. I mean, you are both fine swordsmen. Why don’t you just call him Okina-san or Okina-kun?”

“Well, he saved my life. It would be impolite to him if I addressed him so informally.”

I shrugged at that as I picked up the tray. “Okay. See you later!”

“Wait!”

“Huh?” I glanced back.

“Can I accompany you so that we could go straight to the market immediately after?” He looked at me with inquiring eyes and added, “It would save you some time.”

“Sure, why not!” I replied as I waited for him to catch up with me. Because of the seemingly perfect gentleman that he was, he took the tray and carried it for me.

As we walked towards the temple, I filled him in with the details regarding the other Onni’s. It would help him with his interactions with them.

When, we had arrived at the temple, I gave him a wink, “I’ll continue my story later, okay? Just remember where I left off!” At that, I ran inside.

~~~~~

[Soujiro]

I sat on the temple stairs, patiently waiting for Misao-chan. I intentionally sat farthest away from the door so that I wouldn’t be able to hear what they were talking about. Eavesdropping once had been bad enough.

Not that I regretted doing that.

I just hope that she won’t come out of the temple with a forlorn expression on her tear-streaked face. I wouldn’t forgive Shinomori-kun if he does that to her two days in a row. Couldn’t he see how fragile she was?

I rested my back on the railings of the stairs and stared at the slow moving of the clouds. It had been a while since I did that. I used to do that all the time while I was traveling. I guess, I really had nothing else better to do when I was alone.

But I wasn’t anymore because I had Misao-chan… for now. I often wonder how long would my ephemeral happiness last… how long would this feeling of contentment last… how long before I return to my empty life. But I guess, until then, I would just have to enjoy what I had now.

Live for the day.

My musings were put to a halt when my line of sight was shadowed by the silhouette of Misao-chan’s pretty face as she leaned over to look at me.

Why was it that when she smiled, the whole world seemed to stop?

“Let’s go, Sou-chan!”

I nodded, getting up from my position, taking the tray from her once again. I didn’t know where I learned this gesture from but I didn’t want to burden her with that when I could help her. Yeah, that’s it. That was what friends are for right? To lift each other’s burdens.

But I often feel that I wanted to do so much more for her.

Returning my attention to her, I asked, “Are we going to the market now?”

“Yup. Do you have the grocery list with you?”

“Yes,” I replied. I took out the list from my pocket, scanning its contents. “Ojii-sama didn’t ask for much. Just a few kilos of carrots and radishes.”

“So what was I talking about earlier?” she asked, twitching her lips to one side as she looked up to think.

Wanting to see her scowl, I decided to tease her by scratching my head and laughed, “I forgot, Misao-chan.”

“What! You were not interested in listening to me!?” she exploded just as expected.

“Maa, maa, Misao-chan,” I pacified her by waving my hands in the air. I tilted up her chin to look at me and said, “You were in the part about getting yourself a mantel. What did you do with it anyway?”

“Oh,” she blushed. “I used that to lure my victims,” she explained in an almost inaudible voice.

Did I hear her correctly? Did she just used the word “Lure” and “Victims?” I couldn’t help but choke out. “I don’t quite understand what you mean.” I shook my head, looking baffled.

“Well… Eto…” she stammered, suddenly finding her feet interesting. “Actually, that’s how Himura and I met.”

I wonder how the word lure and victims had anything to do with Himura-san. Masaka! Was she taken hostage? No… well… she said she was the one doing the luring. I wonder if…

“Want a demo?" she chirped.

“Huh?”

That was the first time I saw mischief gleaming in her eyes. I hope it wouldn’t be the last. Grinning evilly, she led me to one corner. “Come here. Give me the money.”

I didn’t know what she was up to but I gave her the money anyway. I didn’t want to ruin her momentum of enthusiasm. She didn’t deserve that. Not from me.

Then, she ran across the market, apparently looking for something. She stopped by a linen stall, waving her hand to call me.

I ran towards her, stood beside her and whispered, “What are you up to, Misao-chan?”

“This is a mantle,” she said, raising it up for my inspection. She turned to the vendor and gave him some cash.

“But… the vegetables!?” I protested.

“Forget about that! We can buy a sack of vegetables after this!” she snapped, leading me to another corner. Giggling naughtily, she pointed at a group of lanky men, walking towards an inn. She wrapped the mantle around her slim figure and winked, “Watch and learn.”

I nodded, feeling a pit developing in my stomach. I had a feeling about what she was about to do and I know it was no good. Sighing deeply, I followed her like she ordered.

Just then, she turned around with her hands on her hips and yelled, “Stay back or else this wouldn’t work!”

I lurked behind the shadows, my jaw dropping as I watched her seduce those men into following her.

Misao-chan…

She swung her hips from side to side, smiling suggestively as she led them into the woods. Then, she jumped in the air, threw her mantle and manage to give me a V sign.

I looked at her with much awe. What an amazing woman she was.

But, the realization came to me. She was going to mug these men. She might get herself hurt!

I was about to intervene when—

“Misao…” Shinomori-kun said in a low tone.

Misao’s eyes widened as the group of men scampered off. She dropped her kunais in the ground as she breathed, “Aoshi-sama.”

“What do you think you are doing!?” he growled, piercing her with his blue eyes.

Misao took steps back, obviously panicked at the situation so I stepped in and said, “Ano… It’s my fault actually.”

“Stay out of this, Tenken!” He snapped.

Misao bowed her head, sighed deeply and confessed, “I was—”

“You were disgracing the Onniwabanshu,” he cut her off. He turned around, glared at me and walked away. Before he left, he muttered, “Grow up, Misao.”

Misao lifted her head, eyes widening with hurt.

He did it again. He made her cry again.

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