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Under the Rain
By: Xellia Metallium

Chapter 3


Standard Disclaimers Apply.

Author Notes:The lyrics are taken from Star Ocean EX called “Hearts”

~~~~~

I stood at the door, watching him smiling while washing dishes. I gave a little mental laugh thinking how odd it was. The ex-assassin, a very skilled swordsman, and Shishio's right-hand man was right here... doing domestic chores. Then again, the once feared Hitokiri Battousai was probably doing the very same thing right now in Tokyo.

"Is there anything you want me to do, Misao-san?" Soujiro looked at me with those innocent eyes.

How does he do that? To emit such innocence when he took so many lives?!

"No... nothing. I was just thinking..."

"Ah..." With a smile, he went back to his work.

"Ano... Soujiro. Are you really going to leave tomorrow?"

A whole week had already passed since that little incident on that rainy day. I met him by accident and the rain must have done some work on my mind, because I asked him to stay at the Aoiya right then. It was only one week... yet, it felt like Soujiro had stayed much longer than that. Now that I think of it, it was quite strange for me to feel so comfortable around him when we had been enemies once.

Time changes everything... that's for sure.

"Hai. I imposed on you long enough... but I'm very glad that you allowed me to stay here for a while, Misao-san..." His eyes met mine again and added with a barely audible voice, "Especially after what happened between us in the past."

My heart pounded against my ribs. Sadness. Loneliness. Regret. Sorrow. All that I felt when looking through his eyes... and here they said the eyes were the windows to our soul. No kidding.

"Will you be back?" I nearly whispered.

Soujiro looked down with his bangs covering his eyes. He wasn't moving as he sat there.

"Would you want me to?" He asked softly.

“You know I do! You’re a great friend and I- I…l-like... having you around.” I looked at the ground as I feel my face burning.

What’s wrong with me?!?! Quit blushing like an idiot!!

I took a deep, VERY deep breath and slowly raised my head to look at him. Soujiro was smiling gently, a genuine smile.

“I’ll come by for a visit when I get the chance. But I can’t promise how soon though.”

“I-I’ll wait for you then.”

The silence soon took over the moment. Funny thing was that it wasn’t uncomfortable or anything… I felt quite at ease as I sat there watching him doing his chores. Lost in my thoughts, I started humming a song Aoshi-sama used to sing to me in my younger days. Pretty soon, the humming turned into a full blast song as the lyrics just flowed out of my lips. Suddenly, a laugh had caught me off-guard as I stopped singing. I looked over to Soujiro and saw him doubling over in the washtub.

“What are you laughing at?” I frowned at him.

“I’m sorry, but you sounded funny!!”

Why that blasted jerk!!

“Are you saying that I’m a horrible singer?!” I glared at him dangerously.

Soujiro wiped a tear off his eyes from laughing too hard and shook his head a little.

“No, no you didn’t sing badly… it’s just that I think a little more practice would do you good.” He smiled at me innocently.

Ooohh!!! I can SO feel my muscle twitch!!!

“Kansatsu Tobi Kunai!!!”

My kunais shot full speed at him, but darn the guy! He was too fast for it and moved out of the way just in time. Unfortunately, plates don’t move.

“Ah Misao-san! You broke some of the dishes!!”

“You started it!!”

“But—“

…and I continued to attack while all he did was dodging. When Omasu finally came to claim her plates, she wasn’t so happy with the result of Soujiro’s washing and started scolding him. That brightened up my day a bit.

~~~~~

I tossed and turned around in my futon. I tried sleeping, but my mind kept wandering toward a certain ex-assassin…

Damn you, Soujiro!! This is all your fault that I couldn’t sleep!!

I let out a frustrated sigh and got up, walking out of my room and into the darkness of the halls. It’s so strange to find everything so quiet when I was so used to hear tons of rackets during the daylight.

“Heart to heart, turning on the switch in our hearts and shaking away the tears…” I sang silently to myself as I sat there, gazing at the sky above.

“That song again?” I gave a slight jump as I heard a soft, yet familiar whisper behind me.

“Soujiro? Don’t creep on me like that!!” He laughed as I patted the empty spot next to me, inviting him to sit.

“So, where did you learn that song?”

“Aoshi-sama taught me a long time ago, it’s called “Hearts”. He used to sing it to me while I slept…” I looked sideway at him and grinned. “That’s right. The ex-okashira of the Oniwa Banshuu was actually a pretty darn good singer! Who would have thought?!”

Soujiro chuckled and turned to me, allowing me a full frontal view of his face.

“Misao-san…”

“Hai?” He hesitated. After a long minute, he asked softly.

“Would you mind if I asked you to teach it to me?”

“The song?” I gave him a puzzled look.

Why would he want to learn that?

“Hai… I just wanted to learn it because…” Soujiro hesitated; he turned his head away and seemed quite interested at the bushes nearby.

I looked at him curiously and couldn’t help but notice… how attractive Soujiro actually was. The soft moonlight reflected on his longing and sad features… so much sorrow. I was soon snapped out of my reverie by Soujiro’s next statement.

“It must be nice to have someone singing you to sleep… ne, Misao-san?” My heart shattered at his simple, yet innocent question.

You wanted to learn that song… because you never had anyone caring for you enough to sing for you at night.

I could feel the tears forming in my eyes, but I silently cursed them from falling. I started to sing slowly, but never took my eyes away from him.

“Heart to heart, turning on the switch in our hearts and shaking away the tears. We can feel the breeze sweeping past us. Let's bring ‘love’ and ‘thank you’ with us for tomorrow…”

Tomorrow, he’ll be gone… probably out of my life forever. Misao, can you let another important person get away from you?!

“How should we show the gratitude of the miraculous meeting? The important person that we can be proud of and want to search for. When I can say ‘I like you’, I can like myself. The word ‘love’ is the matter of the heart…”

Important person? How important is he to me? I know Soujiro is like a friend but… no. He’s more than just a friend… and after tomorrow, I won’t ever see him again.

“Everyone knew that something's going to happen. I'm not a living mannequin. Reality isn't a game. So we can't selfishly reset it. Oh my wish…

Turning on the switch in our hearts, we want to become happy…”

I can feel the tears slowing flowing down as my voice trailed off. Soujiro looked at me with bewilderment, his eyes opened wide and his mouth unable to form any words. I stopped singing and suddenly flung myself into his arms, crying my eyes out. All those years of frustration at Aoshi and years of loneliness without my comrades had finally caught up to me. But the most painful part, the thought of Soujiro walking out of my life, had finally sunk in. After a while, my crying turned to silent sobbing and began to cease as Soujiro sat there holding me in his arms.

“Misao-san…” I giggled, which only made him even more confused.

“You idiot! After we’d gotten so close, you still call me –san!” He laughed softly.

“Ano… are you—“

“I’m fine, Soujiro… really I am.” I took a deep breath and got up.

“I think I should go to bed now… You should too since you’ll be leaving early.”

“Hai…”

“I’ll give you the lyrics tomorrow before you leave.” I made my way toward my room without looking back.

I can’t turn back… if I look at him again, I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to let him go.

~~~~~

“It was a pleasure to have you here.” Okon took both of Soujiro’s hands and held them firmly.

“Thank you for making me feel at home, I really appreciated it…”

“I don’t know why Misao-chan won’t come out, but she told me to give this to you…” Omasu gave a letter to him, in which he looked at it silently.

“It’s better this way…”

“Don’t forget to dop by again, Soujiro… and maybe next time you’ll be able to stay longer.” Okina gave him a wink.

Soujiro turned toward Misao’s window and saw a little movement there. Waving his arm at her, Soujiro smiled sadly and turned around… continuing his journey…

~~~~~

I hid behind the window and looked out into the street where the Oniwa Banshuu were giving Soujiro a final farewell. I couldn’t bring herself to get up and tell him ‘good-bye’.

“It’s better this way…” I turned toward the door and noticed a letter at the bottom. I went to pick it up and saw Soujiro’s neat handwriting on it. Very slowly, I began to read the letter…

“Dear Misao-san,

To be honest, I don’t know why I’m writing this… but after several hours of debating against myself whether I should knock on your door or not, I finally decided that a letter is the best way to tell you good-bye. It would just be too hard for me to say that simple word to you and still be able to turn my back on you.

When I first saw you on that rainy day, never in my wildest dreams would I thought it will end up like this. I killed so many people and yet, you still had a place left in your heart for me and no words can be enough to tell you how grateful I am. In the short amount of time I’ve known you, I was very happy and thought I finally found what I was looking for… and I did. I found what I originally was seeking, but it wasn’t there at the Aoiya. I always thought that if two men can spend ten years finding the truth about themselves, I can set on my own journey finding something I can believe in… I haven’t found it yet, but at least I can claim that I KNOW what I was looking for. All those times, what I really wanted was a home. As you’d probably known, I never had a great childhood and had always wished to know what it was like to have a place to belong. Even though the Aoiya would never be what I could call a ‘home’, but it was the closest and I would like to thank you for that. I’m sorry I couldn’t stay longer, but my short time with you was well spent and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else in the world. If only things were different… then we might not have to say ‘good-bye”.

Your friend,

Seta Soujiro.”

I can feel tears forming in my eyes again.

Why am I crying for him?! I’ve known Soujiro for only a few days, yet I’ve cried more for him than I did for Aoshi-sama in all the years I’ve known him…

“Baka…” I held the letter tightly and ran out the door past a very started Omasu.

“Misao-chan!! Where are you going!?!?”

~~~~~

Looking up at the blue sky, Soujiro sighed.

“Such a beautiful day… but how come I don’t feel any happier?” He looked around him and saw nothing but trees. He took out Misao’s letter and began to read as he kept on walking.

“Soujiro,

I know we haven’t known each others that long, but I feel like we were friends for decades. I know this sounds silly, but I’m really happy to have known you despite the fact that we were enemies once. Hard to believe, ne?

When looking at you, I see a younger Himura. Yes, I think you two are alike in so many ways. Both of you might have been very skilled and fearful assassins, but deep down both of you are but pacifist men with kind hearts. I know we’re living in hard times and so many things had happened, but I did not regret being born as Makimachi Misao, and now your great friend. If someone were to ask what would be my greatest wish, I would look at them straight in the eyes and told them ‘never have to say farewell to a friend’. When I saw you on that rainy day, I knew right then that we’ll end up being friends. Did you know that I was sad that day because Aoshi-sama rejected my feelings? I left the house just to get away from it all and it must have been my great fortune to find you there roaming in the street when you should have been somewhere else on your journey. I’ve always wondered why it was such a coincidence. But now I know, it wasn’t a coincidence… it was fate that had brought you to me in time of need and vice versa. I know I’m talking rubbish again, but really! I do believe in destiny, don’t you too?

Anyways, that last night we were outside talking together I remembered you asking me to teach you the lyrics to “Hearts”. So here it is…”

“Heart to heart

Turning on the switch in our hearts and shaking away the tears.
We can feel the breeze sweeping past us.
Let's bring ‘Love’ and ‘Thank you’ with us for tomorrow.”

Soujiro continued walking along the path and noticed the sky turning a shade darker. The wind blew softly past the tall trees and caused the Rurouni to shiver a bit.

“It so quiet…” he murmured to himself. He was used to a week of a house full of people and never ending parties… and here he was again, at the starting point. Lonely and sad just like when he began the journey.

“This is life without Misao-san…” he sighed and walked a bit faster.

~~~~~

“How should we show the gratitude of the miraculous meeting?
The important person that we can be proud of and want to search for.
When I can say, ‘I like you’, I can like myself
The word ‘Love’ is the matter of the heart”

~~~~~

I ran into the busy street, nearly knocking out everyone in my way.

“Why did it took me so long to realized how I really felt about him?!”

Thinking about Soujiro made me remembered something I told Himura long time ago.

“I won’t forget. I can’t forget and if I had to forget, how will I ever know happiness with the one I love?!?”

Of course, at that time I thought I was madly in love with Aoshi-sama… yes, it was love… but a different kind of love than I thought it was. It took me a while to know that what I felt for him was just a little misinterpretation between romantic love and sisterly love. Aoshi-sama had taken care of me as long as I could remember, and to him I was but a little sister. No wonder he wouldn’t return my feelings… now that I think of it, he was pretty patient about it… but Soujiro was different. I’m positive that what I feel for him right now is not some sisterly affection… because I… I…

“Seta Soujiro! I’ll find you… no matter what!!!”

~~~~~

“Everyone knew that something's going to happen
I'm not a living mannequin
Reality isn't a game
So we can't selfishly reset it.
Oh my wish
Turning on the switch in our hearts, we want to become happy”

~~~~~

Soujiro stopped suddenly and looked at the road behind him. He frowned and continued staring at the path he left behind.

“How strange… I could swear I heard Misao-san. Maa… it must have been my imagination.” Without another word, he continued walking and noticed a river ahead of him.

“Well… looks like a good place to rest…” and he made his way toward it.

~~~~~

“Only holding onto the kindness of countless kisses...
Throughout the seasons, let’s dream in this town
From the failure of yesterday, it'll surely begin No matter what each day is like, we'll live on without looking back”

~~~~~

I asked countless of people if they saw Soujiro, and after several collar grabbing attempts and insults exchanging, I ended up following a road that lead out of the city. I finally came to the end of that path when it split into two, leaving me into an even more frustrated state.

“DAMMIT!! Of all the roads, that idiot have to pick one that splits!!” I looked down and noticed fresh footprints left on the ground leading toward the right. I grinned to myself and followed it.

“This better be the right way or I’ll tobikunai you straight to hell, Soujiro!!” I growled.

~~~~~

“Even though something happens, it isn't the end of everything
It'll settle down eventually.
I finally feel that I understand what ‘Love grows’ means.
Heart to heart
Turning on the switch in our hearts, and shaking away the tears
We can feel the breeze sweeping past us.”

~~~~~

Soujiro finally came to a good spot near a river and decided to stay there for the night. He looked across from the river and noticed vast fields full of well-grown grass, and around him were tall trees blowing softly along the wind. He sat down and took out Misao’s letter, rereading it again.

“After all those time we’d spent together, the only thing I have left of you is this letter and my memories of you… Oh well, it’s better than nothing.” He smiled ruefully and tucked it back into his gi. He looked up at the sky and frown.

“It got dark pretty fast…” As he continued to gaze upward, he heard a sound and turned toward it. In front of him across the river, he saw the silhouette of a person with long hair.

A girl…

~~~~~

“Let's bring ‘Love’ and ‘Thank you’ with us for tomorrow. The important person that we can to be proud of and want to search for.”

~~~~~

I ran along the road and stopped; looking around me I saw nothing but trees. With a sigh, I jumped out of sight and into one of those trees, leaping away in search of Soujiro.

“Soujiro… if I ever see you again, I’ll… I’ll…”

I’ll what?

I stopped jumping and stood on top of a huge branch. A new thought formed in my head.

“I’ll what?” Okina was right. He had always been right. I always jump into action and never think of the consequences. What will I do once I find him? Drag him back to the Aoiya? Beg him to come back? I’ll do what?!?!

I shook my head and continued leaping on the trees.

“I don’t care what I’ll do. As long as I see him again…”

I finally came to a halt once I reached a field of soft grass. Across from it was a river and the figure of a person stood there gazing at me.

“Soujiro…” I recognized that person anywhere. I took another step as I feel my heart jump in excitement and my eyes became watery yet again.

~~~~~

“We didn't give up because someone was there right?
With someone's words, we began to walk again
While the light is cracking, we're always desperate
It's love isn't it? It must be love.”

~~~~~

“Soujiro…” Soujiro heard her voice carried over to his side of the river. His heart did a flip-flop as he continued looking at her walking even closer to the river… still far away from him.

Unable to say anything, Soujiro just continued staring at the ninja girl. Her long, silky hair blowing softly along the wind as the moonlight illuminated her delicate face. Her eyes shone with inner light and… was that relief? Confusion? A feeling he couldn’t quiet grasp.

“Misao-san…”

She took another step into the river and continued walking. When she came to the middle of the river, Misao stopped and looked at him directly into his eyes.

~~~~~

“Turning on the switch in our hearts, we want to become happy
Only holding onto the kindness of countless kisses...
Throughout the seasons, lets dream in this town
From the failure of yesterday, it'll surely begin”

~~~~~

I walked into the river and stopped in the middle, looking straight into his eyes. Time seemed to stop for a while as we gazed at each other, not knowing how to proceed. Mixed emotions flowed within me and I didn’t know what to do. I was angry at him for leaving me behind, sad for his sake, and hurt because… loving someone does hurt you.

There was a long silence as we stood there, but Soujiro finally broke it.

“Why are you here, Misao-san?”

“What do you think?” I asked him calmly.

“But… I thought I once told you that I’ll be back…”

“Will you really?”

Soujiro watched me sadly.

“You said you would wait for me…” I gave him a small smile and began to walk even closer to the bank of the river, where Soujiro stood.

“What if I told you that I didn’t want to wait…” I told him without breaking the eye contact “what if, I wanted to go on a journey myself?”

“What do you mean?” Soujiro looked startled at my question.

“A home is what you were looking for, isn’t it?” I finally reached the riverbank and got out of the river. Leaning toward him, our faces were just inches apart as I whispered softly.

“Did you know that home is where the heart is?”

Soujiro had a genuine smile on his face as he took me into his arms. We stood there for what seemed like eternity, hearing only the soft noise of the water current brushing past the rocks and the wind howling through the trees. I was so close to him that I could smell his manly scent.

Yup… MY Rurouni.

~~~~~

“No matter what each day is like, we'll live on without looking back
Let's knock on the huge door.”

~~~~~

THE END

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