|The Circle Game; A Rurouni Kenshin Fanfic
by Kitty Woolfson
First draft of The Circle Game, 5/2000.
Chapter 7: Blurred Lines
It was dark. Wherever she looked all she could see was blackness. Misao stood alone in the darkness, frozen and silent.
"Hello?" she called hopefully, taking a few hesitent steps forward. She voice echoed back very faintly. A light slowly appeared behind and above her. She turned her head and looked. The moon; a nearly-full moon shone through the tree tops around the corner of a cloud.
Tree-tops? A cloud?
The confused girl looked around once again. She was in a wood, thickly forrested and covered in short brambles and shrubs. Grass grew up past her knees, and the thick heavy blades were stiff and didn't bent easily. She glanced down at the ground and saw her feet. She wore straw sandals bound to her feet by strips of fabric. She recognized those clothes!
'It's the Meiji!' she realized with a shock. 'I'm dreaming about the Meiji period!'
There was a presence behind her. Instinctively her hands flew to her kunai and grasped them. This wasn't an enemy that she could beat. Should she choose to turn and fight, there would be no going back, and no mercy. Her only hope was to take them by surprise, but this opponent was no ordinary fighter. There was no taking this man by surprise. Her hands shook, making the knife blades rattle against each other. Misao took a deep breath and turned.
Her world narrowed down to one man. Or was it a girl? No, a man. Short, thin and with a rounded face, the man certainly appeared at first glance to look slightly femminine, but the chest bared by his thread-bare shirt was deffinately not a woman's. He tipped his head to one side and smiled at Misao.
"Misao-dono, you certainly are cheerful," he said in a pleasant voice.
Misao stared in shock. This man was what she had been afraid of? This!? 'No way!' she thought, anger rising at the fact that she had been taken for a fool. "What are you trying to pull, huh!?" she shouted, brandishing her kunai wildly. "Coming at me from out of nowhere with that fake smile and 'dono'! You oughtta have better manners than that! You SCARED me!"
Misao paused in her tirade. "Oro?" she repeated dumbly. The man blinked violet eyes at her in confusion, then turned away with a knowing, "she's having one of those days" look. His long red ponytail swished against his back as he walked away.
Misao awoke bathed in a cold sweat. Her fists were clentched tightly. She slowly opened her fingers one by one and looked at the little cresents that her nails had left on the palm of her hand.
'Red hair, violet eyes, red hair, violet eyes...' Misao thought, trying to pull the fragments of her dream back together. "All I can remember is red hair and violet eyes," she muttered to herself.
She glanced at the clock. Two'o'clock. She still had enough time to get a full night's rest if she could fall back asleep soon. She threw back her disarayed sheets and slipped her feet into slippers, then stumbled over laundry, books and miscelanious stuff on her way to the kitchen. She poured milk into a mug, stuck it in the finicky microwave and stabbed buttons blindly. After a few seconds of discontented whirring she opened the door and took the milk out.
Misao sat down at the unstable kitchen table and sipped at her milk. A small article popped out at her on the old newspaper scattered on the table top. She brushed the crums off the paper and held it up to the annoying light that shone through the window.
"Local Schools Unfazed by Threats," the title read. "Two high schools in the Yakihata area have received several minor threats in the past month. The threats are very mild and promise that 'someday we'll get even.' The threats were found in the teacher's lounge on the table, evidently placed there while the staff was out of the building. The principals of the schools will take no action other than report further incedents to the police. The notes are believed to be pranks, and will not be taken seriously, the principals report."
Misao drained her mug of the dregs of her milk, then returned to bed. Just before she fell back asleep she scribbled on a piece of scrap paper 'red hair/violet eyes'.
"'Red hair/violet eyes?'" Aoshi read, confused. He glanced at Misao. She nodded and stuffed her coat into her locker in a heap along with her dance clothes, gym clothes, scarf, gloves and miscelanious books and papers. Aoshi winced as a bundle of papers crinkled into an untidy wad.
"I had a dream about a man with red hair and violet eyes," Misao said. "He called me Misao-dono, too."
"Misao-dono... I have to admit I don't like it as much as Misao-chan," Aoshi said casually as he handed the paper back to her. Misao hesitated before taking the note from him. She smiled slowly at him. Their eyes met and Aoshi let a flicker of emotion across his face. To anybody but Misao it would have looked like nothing had happened. To her it was the closest he had ever gotten to a smile.