Gone… A whole month he's been gone. It was normal or was it? The questions that plagued his mind away from work, were worse at times. Work was easy. Work was clear. Not like this.
Closing the door he makes his way passing the tatami room into a short dark corridor till finally he reached their bedroom door and slid it open quietly. He stops for a moment watching the sleeping figure and wondered if he should catch the first train back to Tokyo but his hand fumbles on the hilt of his sword and like always he removed it and his uniform like clockwork. Sitting at the edge of the futon, his hand unconsciously touches her bare shoulder. Such soft pliant skin was a sin to be touched by his calloused hands.
"You came back…" She mutters and turns as he bended down to kiss her forehead.
"Sleep some more. It's not morning yet." He replies averting his eyes from that wet spot on her bed he'd spied on.
"If you're hungry…"
"No. Sleep." The cop stood up, "I'll be staying tonight."
That's what all he needed to say to her, he knew. Not that he had any place else to go.
Paperwork… He had brought quite a bit earlier. The journey between Kyoto and Tokyo was still a day away and he had to work harder now. Keeping up two houses was no easy task but it wasn't really that. Lately, being with her reminded him of his worth and why he joined the Keishikan in the first place. He's been hounded before that he lived in the past, burdened so much by it that in the end even he had to question his own code and self-worth.
"Why is honoring your friends a mistake?"
An innocent question she asked of him when they met again in Tokyo. A question that needed to be answered but he never thought of it himself in the midst of his own personal struggles with his wife.
She was like sustenance for him. A boy just hugging his knees and a man who repressed his regret was given some light and naturally perhaps, he begged her to stay with him in ways that could not be framed with just words.
There's a house that I use in Kyoto. I need someone to keep up with it. Stay there if you want.
Why she agreed to such an arrangement escaped him, but at that time it was everything he'd have hoped for.
Fixing himself a cup of coffee, he sat in the tatami room and lit a cigarette. The darkness fitted him well, he thought wryly. The paperwork now left on the table went unnoticed as he fixated his attention to an old habit, the ember burning a fierce red with each drag of his dry mouth. He cracked his neck and knuckles, the muscles in his arm tense. Closing his eyes he tried to relax.
You came back.
Of course he would. This was his house after all. Stupid woman.
What did she do the whole time he was gone? Laid there?
He finally got up and opened a lamp, made a quick round about the house and inspected each corner susceptible to dust. She did her duties well he found out, perhaps a little –too- well. Not a single speck of dust was to be found. Dissatisfied, he went back to the tatami room and sat cross-legged. His mind flew back to that spring night. They didn't part well then. He figured it was just because of her "condition" which she couldn't find the courage to tell him. That was part of the reason of course he left angrily that day. Not that he could really blame her. He should've noticed something was amiss when she stole away to the out house early in the morning and sometimes even at night, not letting him follow.
He knew exactly why she'd not said a word about her having his child. It was the same reason she wouldn't ask him to stay. She didn't want to be a burden, to force him into a situation where he would not be free to decide. Her kindness to him, was to be the death of her. Did she really think he'd never find out?
The tip of the tobacco burned furiously, just about as furious as the scowl on his face at that moment. There were many kind of kindness, the one he found early on between them helped him but this was an entirely different creature. If kindness could kill indeed…
He led her on. He was selfish in that respect. His code had no domain in such affairs. What had started out as good intentions… Was unfortunately a path he laid for her to go to hell. What would the others say if they found out? The old man Yagi and his wife were gone but her brothers were still there. They'd disown her for sure.
If only. Okita was alive. So what of him? He hated him. The very thought of Okita made his skin crawl. That's the problem with dead people, they're dead and yet they had the capacity to drive a man insane. It was hard to compete with a dead man… A man who's been your bestfriend, who equaled your sword and had something… Someone that could've been yours in the first place.
Standing up he went by the window and smoked there. Staring at the shadows of tree branches, he wondered if the spirits could move them and strangle his neck.
Don't hate my past.
She begged him once. It wasn't that entirely. Didn't she see? Okita was the man whom he could never be, but damn hell! He –tried- to be the respectable person Okita was back in Mibu.
A respectable man…
He flicked the cigarette out towards the garden, his eyes staring at the dying ember. If he couldn't be one… He knew he was once and she was too.
And he finally understood… There was no sense living like this, a life of hell borne out of his own cowardice. Turning back to the low table he took a pen from his pocket and wrote,
"Settling some unfinished business in Tokyo. I will come back for you. Take care of yourself."
He stopped. It wasn't quite right. Something was missing and he knew what it was. Did he really have to write it? He was never the type of man for such words but there are times when they were needed to be said.
"I love you Hide." - Hajime
Notes: Another old story I found lying around in my PC. Oh well! I did enjoy writing these really short stories. I think this was during the time I was trying to write flash fiction.