Chapter 3: Tea
Aoshi walked slowly into the small study belonging to Okina, Misao's advisor. He could tell Okina was more than unsettled by his presence and was mostly likely going to inquisition him.
Some tortures he still could not block out.
Knocking on the door, he heard Okina's voice calling him in and with an opening and closing of the door, Aoshi walked into what would be the one of the more uncomfortable twenty minutes of his life lately.
He took a seat across from Okina's large desk, keeping his gaze even the old man's he broke the momentary silence.
"What is it you wish to speak of?" Aoshi asked.
"I want to know if you are here as part of some malicious plot and what your intentions with Misao are." the old man began.
Misao. Not Her Majesty.
As Aoshi has surmised, Okina was more of a fond parental figure than advisor.
"All I know is that I have been given as a gift to Her Majesty. If it is for some foul intent, I am for my intentions, Her Majesty is in my opinion not of proper age for a pleasure slave and has asked me to be a companion. I shall act as she wishes. I seek nothing more."
"So you are content to be her servant and be at her every whim?"
Aoshi closed his eyes.
"A servant is better than a slave. And my own personal contentment is something I fear I've lost feeling of. I have been made to serve others."
Okina continued lecturing about things Aoshi should know concerning behavior and court policies in which Aoshi for the most part ignored.
Soon enough he was standing to leave.
"Aoshi, one more thing."
"If ever you harm her, you will face the wrath of the entire court and more. I do not know the type of monarch you are used to, but Misao is dear to us all."
Aoshi nodded and left the study to walk silently outside.
It was a slightly breezy day and as he walked through the gardens he absently noted that there was a beauty in this place that seemed so pure and different from the harsh ugliness of the other courts. Tall pilars of a pearlescent marble decorated the large gardens that had several fountains that led to a small pond. Amidst the blue, lavender, and white hydrangea he was a stark constrast dressed in black breeches and a black shirt.
A sound caught his attention, and walking down a narrow path into a section guarded by tall rose bushes Aoshi came to a small clearing where Misao stood throwing punches in the air. She was dressed in a loose pair of blue breeches and a beige shirt. She didn't notice him as she began switching to kicks. It was apparent that this Queen had an interest in fighting skills.
"Your form is slightly off." he murmured, and watched with slight amusement as she stumbled and fell on her butt. Walking over to her quickly he helped her up as she brushed off her bottom.
"What was that?" she asked.
"Your form is off. You have the motions correct but your form is off a bit." he said, grabbing her waist and tilting slightly. Misao felt shivers where he touched her and fought back a blush.
"You're kick is good, but if you stand straight you'll put strain on yourself. Tilt slightly and you'll have a more even and stronger movement." he murmured, and tilted with her and demonstrated.
"Try." he asked.
She moved with him for a few kicks and felt his hands leave her sides, and moved on her own. She missed the warmth of his hands momentarily and dismissed the thought.
'He is not with you of his own free will...do not become too taken.'
"Aoshi-sama, you practice fighting skills?" she asked, wiping her forehead with her hand.
"Would you...perhaps...train with me. You appear to be more skilled than myself."
"How long have you been practicing?" he asked, crossing his arms.
"Since I was ten."
"Four years then. I assume no one really trains with you."
"Yes, Okina and the others aren't fond of my desire to train."
"It does show. You need guidance. From now on I will teach you."
Misao's eyes widened as a grin erupted. Without warning Aoshi found himself fiercly embraced by the young queen.
"Aoshi-sama, thank you!" she squealed with delight.
With momentary hesitation, Aoshi returned the embrace.
"You are welcome, Misao."
Misao soon realized the seeming compromising position she was in and broke apart from him.
"Tell me Aoshi-sama, what is something you enjoy. Something you like to do?"
He arched an eyebrow at her and smirked softly.
"I do believe you're the first person to ever ask me that."
"I...Aoshi-sama, just answer."
He closed his eyes and sighed.
"Well then you have my full permission to use the library for as long as you like. I want you to be...comfortable." she said, her heart saying she wanted him to be happy. She barely knew him, and probably should be on guard and yet stil...
Aoshi blinked and nodded.
"Thank you." he murmured.
Misao smiled softly.
"Would you join me for tea?"
"If you wish." he replied simply and followed her out of the garden.
She always asked when she wanted him to do something as if he really had a choice. It was...new. A considerate queen.
'Be on guard...some poisons can appear to be the sweetest things..' the Sadist in him whisper.
Trust...warmth...love. Love. The pretty poison.
In his youth, when he still held a shred of innocence he had been decieved by illusions and lies. He had lost any sense of anything but cruelties and twisted desires, and thus abandoned emotions. He only felt echoes of human emotion except for contempt. He found no joy, nothing worth feeling for.
He gazed down into the concerned sea blue eyes staring up at him and shook his head softly.
"I am fine." he murmured.
He followed her into her chambers where she led him to her balcony and motioned him to sit at the small table. He watched as she went to ring for tea and glanced out at the horizon. Soon the tea arrived and Misao was carrying the tray out with her, something Aoshi found slightly amusing. He would have thought she'd have one of the servants do that.
Setting the tray down, she set out the two cups and poured.
"It's green tea, my favorite blend. Do you want sugar?" she asked as she placed one cube in her tea.
Aoshi shook his head and tasted the tea. It was a smooth, smoky tasting tea that he found to his liking and watched Misao as she took a sip, then set her cup down and reached for a tea cookie.
"Misao, you always seem to ask me if I would like to do something and do not demand. And also, you took the tray yourself in here rather than have your servant set it down."
"I do not see those who serve me as having to do everything for me. I prefer to do most things for myself. In your case, I confess I've never been in this situation before and I am treating more as a guest I suppose. I suppose I think it's...rude to simply demand you to do things for me."
Misao snorted, trying to hold back a laugh.
"You almost sound like Jiya when you say that."
Aoshi's eyes widened slightly as being compared to Okina. He felt the corners of his lips tug into a slight smirk and a soft chuckle escaped his lips.
"Aoshi-sama..did you just chuckle?"
"Aa. I can't remember when last I did such a thing."
Misao grinned and clapped her hands together.
"Then it's going to be my goal to make you genuinely smile."
Aoshi closed his eyes.
"Then you have your work cut out for you."
"Very well, I like a challenge."
And with that they continued their tea is comfortable silence.
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