He could feel his knees suddenly weakening, as one coherent thought flashed through his mind.
You came back.
Copper eyes stared at him steadily from across the distance that separated them, but he felt closer, so much closer... before realizing abruptly that it wasn't just his imagination. The cloak slipped from Rukawa's fingers, pooling in a heap of velvet on the ground, as Kogure stepped towards him so that only an arm's breadth of space lay between them.
Without warning, the king was pulled suddenly into a slightly awkward embrace. Emotions rushed through his body like hot fire, conspiring with his awareness that was threatening to melt under the onslaught of silent touch.
Not that he minded.
Maki melted back into the shadows of the long hall as Kogure moved forward. As he hurried down the corridor, and away from the pair, he felt a small smile and a silent well-wishing of encouragement linger on his lips, as well as a slightly prickling behind his eyelids that told him to find a private place. And soon, to ensure that he wouldn't be embarrassed in front of anyone.
With that thought in mind, he turned the corner sharply, blindly, pausing as his eyes adjusted to the darkness of the garden. And then he realized where he was.
This was the place he had all but pushed to the back of his head, the one place where his heart desperately sought to forget, where his mind stubbornly refused to acknowledge. Because it was where a memory, of a distant recollection, had given up, had been forsaken.
Collecting himself briefly, he hesitated, then stepped down the platform, and, his footsteps tentative, into the garden. He carefully avoided the spot that, to his eyes, still seemed to bleed with crimson blood, blood that didn't belong to him.
The moonlight was truly beautiful this night. Unhindered by wisps of crowds or the traces of rain, she shone brightly, compellingly, lending illumination to the garden that suddenly seemed to whisper with the ghosts of the past. He turned his face up, basking in that ethereal glow, praying it would wash his soul clean of self-torture, and the endless possibilities of what might have been different.
"You never belonged to me," he said aloud to the empty garden, but even to him, his voice sounded hollow. He thought of the chain, shining and sparkling as he put it into Kogure's hands. It had not belonged to him either.
You're a Haka assassin. You came, and you left, just like that... but not without changing me, Sendoh.
"Not without changing me."
The whisper echoed in his mind.
:: Owari ::