Author: LadyShiin PM
KB: A bargain to save her father's life finds Kaoru wed to a man cursed into darkness. But can she learn to love a man whose face she can't even see?Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Fantasy - Kaoru & Kenshin - Chapters: 8 - Words: 45,476 - Reviews: 399 - Favs: 194 - Follows: 233 - Updated: 08-30-07 - Published: 09-05-06 - id: 3141822
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Tigereye is the result of reading too many fairytales recently. Think of it as a mixture of Beauty and the Beast and East of the Sun West of the Moon with bits and pieces of other stuff thrown in for good measure.
Kaoru passed it every morning.
Amid the high glittering buildings of steel and glass it stood out by its sheer uniqueness. A palace. The last that remained in the city after the Revolution when the people had revolted against the tyranny of the Royal Court and risen up as a mob, invading the houses, killing the royals and then burning their palaces to the ground leaving behind nothing but ash so that the city could rise from it with new life and hope not unlike the Phoenix in mythology.
But for some reason this one had been untouched.
Tilting her head she peered through the wrought iron bars in chance that she might catch a glimpse of who lived inside. She never did. The grounds as far as she could tell were well-tended though she never saw a gardener. Or anyone inside it for that matter. If it wasn't for the fact that when she walked home at night there were lights shining from the windows she might have thought it to be deserted.
Someone lived there. Who took care of the palace and if the flowers that grew abundantly were any indication loved it.
Kaoru raised her hand in a wave and then continued on, letting herself slip into the crowds of people and resumed walking home.
The apartment was cold when she entered. It was one of the older apartment complexes built in the years after the Revolution and the heating and cooling spells had long since weakened and worked only periodically and badly at that. Hot in the Summer and cold in the Winter. Kaoru didn't have enough magical expertise or the money to hire someone to fix it and so instead she made a fire in the fire place every morning before leaving to school and stoked it again once she returned.
The fire had long since died out, the ashes cold to the touch and Kaoru grabbed a few sticks of wood, whispered a fire spell to restart it.
"Daddy?" Kaoru turned away from the fire, satisfied it was going well and went down the hall to the room where her father was. The past few years had not been good ones for them. Her mother had caught an illness and died suddenly. A few months later there had been a fight at the dojo her father ran, a student going around injuring people and her father had his hand crushed among other serious injuries The dojo had then been set ablaze.
Kaoru had returned home from school to find only the charred remains of their home and her father in the hospital. What insurance they would have gotten from the loss was quickly eaten up by medical bills and they had managed to find a small apartment to rent. With his hand shattered and his lungs damaged by the fire her father was unable to work and last year had become bedridden.
Kaoru had wanted to go to work but her father had made her promise to go to school. Kaoru had grudgingly agreed but found a small job at a local store and worked there for a bit of extra money, telling her father she was involved in clubs at school when he asked her how she spent her time.
She pushed open the door to find her father sitting up in bed a book cradled between his hands. His hair once thick and black had turned silver, the look in his eyes aged but the smile he gave her was the same warm affectionate one she remembered from her childhood.
"How was school?" He set the book aside and patted the bed beside him.
"It was good. I got an A on a History test." For a moment Kaoru felt like a child again as she sat down beside him and wrapped her arm around his waist, letting him pull her into a hug and breathing in the scent of his cologne.
"That's my girl," her father smiled and Kaoru smiled in return.
"Did you eat anything today?" She murmured.
"I did," he replied.
Kaoru eyed him.
"Most of it anyway. I think you're getting better at cooking."
"Well I'm not setting the kitchen on fire half as much as I used to. That's an improvement." That was more an improvement out of necessity rather than any sort of advancement in skill. The landlord had begun to complain about the explosions and there were not many options open if they were forced to leave.
"It is," her father agreed.
Kaoru dropped a kiss on his forehead. "I'll be in my room doing homework. Just call if you need anything."
Kaoru closed the door behind her and padded as quietly as she could away. She had gotten her homework done during study hall but wasn't about to tell her father that. Instead of doing her homework she was heading to work. Kaoru had the faintest sneaking suspicion that her father knew but as long as he didn't ask her Kaoru didn't have to tell him.
It worked out better that way.
Kaoru slipped out of the house and closed the door silently behind her. It was growing dark, winter was coming and the days were already shortening. She quickened her pace. It'd be bad enough that she would have to walk home in the dark. She didn't want to have to do so on the way to work, not if she could help it.
As she went past the palace she cast a glance over her shoulder to see the lights flickering on and cutting through the quickly growing darkness.
'Thanks,' Kaoru thought and continued onward to the little café she worked at.
It was busy today and Kaoru quickly found herself swept up delivering coffees and teas and the little scones and pastries the café was famous for. She barely had a time to think or pause for breath and before she knew it her hours had been filled for today and it was time to go home as the café began to close up.
She lingered for a half-hour more helping them clean and tidy up.
She almost wished she hadn't as she stepped out of the café. Darkness had fully fallen and even the lights above her head didn't give off as much glow as was needed to brighten it.
With a sigh, Kaoru raked her bangs out of her eyes and started home. No one was around and her steps quickened. The city's crime rate was low but all the same Kaoru had never liked walking home after dark. Much less walking home alone after dark.
Kaoru consoled herself with the fact that if she hurried she'd be home in a few minutes and really what could happen in the space of a few minutes time?
She felt more than heard it first. A tingling that raced down the back of her neck and raised the hairs there. She glanced over her shoulder and saw nothing. 'Must be getting paranoid,' Kaoru muttered to herself, but all the same found that she was walking faster than she was before.
As Kaoru stopped to wait at the light she heard it.
A soft almost silent footfall.
Kaoru whirled around and saw nothing.
'Stop that,' she chided herself. She was getting spooked over nothing. There was nothing there. 'No more coffee during work.' Never the less she looked behind her once more before crossing the street.
The feeling of something being there didn't leave her and Kaoru tramped down firmly on the urge to keep looking behind her as she turned into the little street where her apartment was located.
'For goodness sake,' Kaoru grumbled. Letting herself give into the urge she turned. 'See…? There's noth-'
There was something there.
A pair of golden eyes watched her.
Kaoru sucked in a breath and took an involuntary step back. In response whatever it was that was stalking her took a step forward until a beam of light from an overheard street-lamp fell across it.
Its pelt was a beautiful orange red stripped in gold and black with dapples rippling along its flanks and shoulders as it moved. It padded silently toward her, head tilted to the side and its golden eyes, slitted like a cat's watching her. The ears were slightly rounded at the top and tipped with white. Long silvery whiskers framed a powerful muzzle and Kaoru caught the flash of white fang. Her gaze dropped to its feet as it moved silently toward her. They were large and tipped with claws.
Her throat closed up and no sound came out. She continued to stare at it as it approached her, frozen in place.
'Run!' Her mind screamed but her body didn't respond.
It stopped several paces from her and sat down, tail curling around its feet, its eyes never leaving her.
"Hi kitty," Kaoru murmured, taking a careful step backward and congratulating herself on being able to finally move.
Its ears twitched and she heard what sounded like a soft laugh echo in her head.
Kaoru shook her head. Great now she was hearing things.
"Where did you come from hmm?" Kaoru kept her voice low and soothing even as she inched away from it and closer to her house. "I hope you're not hungry because I really don't want to be on the menu."
This time she heard what sounded like a definite laugh and shook her head in frustration. Do people hallucinate before they die?
Her heart stuttered to a stop as it got to its feet and resumed padding toward her.
Now what should she do? All of Kaoru's instincts were screaming at her to run but she firmly quashed them. If she ran it would chase her and Kaoru was under no illusions that she could outrun it. Ending up dead on her doorstep was not an option Kaoru liked.
Freeze and play dead? Maybe that only worked on bears.
Kaoru was so intent on keeping an eye on the big cat that she forgot to look where she was going and tripped over, of all things, a stick lying on the ground. Her arms wind milled in the air and she hit the ground with a loud thump.
Great, Kaoru closed her eyes tightly and waited for it to lunge at her and rip her head off.
There was a wash of warm breath across her cheek and against her better judgment, cautiously opened her eyes.
And found herself staring into a pair of calm golden eyes.
Kaoru didn't know whether to cry with joy that she wasn't dead yet or scream. This was taking years off her life, she could just feel it. Big scary cat… If it didn't eat her Kaoru was going to end up dead from a heart attack.
Kaoru carefully scooted back a foot and cursed when it stepped forward not letting her gain any space or lose it. Great… just great…
"Stop playing with me," Kaoru growled.
Something like amusement glittered in its golden eyes and its jaws parted in a smile giving Kaoru a lovely view or razor sharp white teeth.
For the third time tonight her heart attempted to stop beating.
"Stop it," she told it sharply. She wasn't about to let it scare her to death. She didn't want to have it eat her either but if she died at least she'd die with some dignity.
Its ears twitched at the sound of her voice and it cocked its head to the side, watching her intently.
"Yes I told you to stop it," Kaoru replied in response to the question in its eyes. Great she was talking to a big cat… tiger… panther… whatever the hell it was. "Just because you're a big scary cat does not mean I have to be afraid of you."
There was another laugh inside of her head and Kaoru fought the urge to rub at her temples.
She gave a squeak of surprise when it suddenly shoved its head underneath her hand.
It butted its head firmly against her hand.
"Are you -?" Kaoru gave its ears a tentative scratch and heard a purr rumble up through its chest in response. "Guess you are asking me to scratch your ears," she muttered. Well this was definitely preferable to dying.
She gave another squeak of surprise when it suddenly flopped down beside her, resting its head in her lap the force of its purr vibrating through her.
"Good grief," she muttered and switched hands to scratch his ears with. "At least you're not eating me."
It merely continued purring, eyes half-lidded in bliss.
"You probably don't eat people at all," Kaoru snorted. "Just go around scaring them and asking for ear scratches. Big bad kitty cat you're not so tough after all."
That laugh echoed again in her head and she nearly growled in frustration.
"Hey kitty?" It opened its eyes at the sound of her voice. "If I am going crazy can you please just eat me? I'm not all that excited about spending the rest of my life in a loony bin."
'You're not going crazy.' This time instead of a laugh Kaoru got a definite voice in her head.
She nearly jumped out of her skin.
"Kitty?" Kaoru asked.
It merely blinked at her.
"If that's you talking in my head I am going to kill you. Painfully."
That laugh echoed again and she yelped in surprise as it suddenly got to its feet, golden eyes gleaming.
Refusing to be intimidated she stared back at it and it grinned cheerfully at her.
"Kitty?" It tilted its head inquisitively at her. "What the hell are you?"
'I like you.' There was a tinge of laughter to the voice.
"Wonderful," Kaoru muttered. "You like me I feel special."
'You should,' sarcasm was evidentially lost on him. 'I'm here to offer you a bargain.'
"It's not for my soul is it?" Kaoru asked.
Kaoru blinked, 'pardon?'
'My Master is seeking a wife.'
"Then why isn't he here himself?" Kaoru asked.
She felt a pause in her head before it – he it was a he – answered. "He's under a curse."
"What type of curse?" Kaoru asked. When she heard curse the first thing that popped into her head was that he had three eyes and a horn on his head. That would explain the reason he had the tiger going around looking for eligible brides.
'He is confined to the palace and can only appear to you at night.' Was the tiger's reply.
Well that was definitely preferable to multiple eyes and a horn.
"You can tell your master thank you but I'm not looking to get married anytime soon." Kaoru said. She gave what she hoped was an understanding smile and turned to walk away.
'Not even if it would save your father's life?'
Kaoru froze in her tracks. "What about my father?" Her tone was wary.
'He's dying. You must know that.' The tiger said softly.
"I know," Kaoru replied quietly.
'Marry my Master and I can heal your father,' the tiger's eyes were sympathetic and Kaoru felt a lump build in her throat.
"Is this some sort of blackmail?"
'No,' he murmured. 'Just giving you options; my Master does not have many left to him.'
"I marry your Master and my father lives. I don't and he dies." Kaoru's voice was tight. "You are the one who is not giving me many options."
'Not many,' the tiger agreed. 'But some are better than none.'
"What will you do if I refuse? Kidnap me? Eat me perhaps?"
'Nothing,' the tiger said. 'I will not harm you.'
"But my father will die," Kaoru said.
Kaoru raked her bangs out of her eyes and took a deep breath. "Will I ever see my father again?"
'No. But he will be well provided for.'
"He'll be alive."
'And given a home, a place to live. A monthly allowance. He will want for nothing. He will not be sick until the day he dies of natural causes.'
"But I will never see him again," Kaoru murmured.
Kaoru closed her eyes, wrestling with uncertainty. "What is your Master like?"
'He is a good man.' The tiger said.
"Why was he cursed?" Kaoru asked.
'It is a familial curse,' the tiger told her.
"So he can not leave his palace and only appear at night?" Kaoru murmured.
'Yes,' the tiger replied.
"Is there anyway to break the curse?" Kaoru asked.
The tiger's eyes flickered, 'we do not know.'
"Do I have to decide right now?" Kaoru murmured.
The look he gave her said yes.
"Can I say goodbye to my father?" Kaoru queried.
'If you wish,'
"Please," Kaoru bit her lip.
The tiger nodded.
They turned together to the apartment, the tiger at her side. Kaoru buried her fingers his fur, needing something to hold onto. The bottom felt like it was dropping out of her stomach and she chewed her lip. The tiger said nothing but the comfortable press of him against her side was reassuring.
Kaoru opened the door and went up the stairs to the apartment she lived in with her father – would no longer live in. The door opened silently and the tiger at her side moved as if he was not even there.
Carefully Kaoru tiptoed to her father's room and pushed the door open peering into the darkness. The sound of his breathing told her that he was asleep and Kaoru winced at the raspy catch in his throat.
She pushed open the door and went to his bedside the tiger trailing after her.
"Hi Daddy," Kaoru murmured quietly.
Her father didn't stir, remaining asleep and Kaoru felt the sting of tears in her eyes. Perhaps this was best.
"I have to go," Kaoru told him softly. "I won't be able to see you again but you will be fine and I will be taken care of." She smiled a bit sadly. "You won't need to worry about me… I love you Daddy." Kaoru brushed a kiss across his forehead and stepped back quickly from the bed.
The tiger brushed past her and Kaoru watched as he laid his head on the bed, muzzle just touching her father's hand. There was a tightening in the air and Kaoru's breath caught in her throat. Her father's breathing gentled becoming even and clear.
'He is well now,' the tiger said stepping away to stand beside her. 'In the morning he will wake in his new home and have no memory as to how he got there. He will think he has always lived there. And he will know that you are safe and well and not worry for you."
"Thank you," Kaoru dashed away the tears that threatened to fall from her eyes.
The tiger nudge her hand gently with his muzzle. 'Come now.'
Kaoru turned and walked out of the room, closing it behind her. For a second her knees weakened and she leaned against the door in effort not to crumble to the floor and cry.
The tiger waited silently while she composed herself and she offered him a tentative smile. "Let's go now."
He nodded once and padded off in front of her tail swishing silently through the air.
With every step away from the apartment, Kaoru felt her heart inexplicably become lighter. The knot in her throat dissolved and tears stopped threatening to fall. Her father would be alright now. She didn't have to worry about him. Taking a deep breath she raised her head and squared her shoulders.
He would be fine.
She would be fine.
The walk to the palace was the shortest Kaoru had ever taken in her life. At their approach the wrought iron gates swung open and the tiger led Kaoru through them, stopping every so often to look behind him and make sure she was following. She didn't hear them close but when she looked over her shoulder they had swung shut.
Kaoru gazed around her as they walked. The light from the palace illuminated everything and mingled with the light of the moon and stars which suddenly seemed brighter giving everything an odd silver-gold touch to everything. A soft breeze caused the roses to bob their heads as Kaoru walked past, night had turned their color from red to silver edged in gold.
It was beautiful.
She looked away to see the tiger watching her and she offered him a small smile.
There were three steps leading into the door and like the gates it too opened at their appearance.
Kaoru was led into a large brightly illuminated hallway the ceiling arching high above her head. The floor under her feet was brightly polished honey-colored wood and the walls were a soft cream color that was soothing. Flowers were every where in pots, hanging from baskets along the ceilings. The air smelled wonderful.
'Are you hungry?' The tiger asked.
"A little," Kaoru admitted. She had grabbed a quick bite to eat just before leaving the café but it now seemed like an eternity since then. "Where is your Master?"
There was a pause in her head and the tiger seemed to be choosing his words carefully. 'He can only appear to you at night. In the cover of darkness. You are not allowed to see him in the light.'
Kaoru blinked. Maybe he did have three eyes and a horn then. "Is that part of his curse as well?"
'Yes,' the tiger's voice was apologetic.
"Lovely," Kaoru murmured.
The tiger ducked his head and she gave his ears a gentle scratch. "Not your fault. You can't do anything about it. I think I will have something to eat then if you don't mind."
'As my lady wishes,' the tiger grinned at her, brightening. 'Follow me this way to the kitchens.'
"I hope you aren't expecting me to cook," Kaoru eyed him.
'No, you need not cook unless you wish to. Everything that you want will be provided for.'
"That's good to know," Kaoru murmured. There went her visions of burning down the palace through a botched attempt at spaghetti.
The tiger laughed quietly and padded off, turning a corner. Kaoru hastened to follow.
The kitchen was as large as Kaoru's entire apartment had been. There was a large stove and pots and pans hung from racks on the walls. A small dining table was in the center, covered in white lace cloth a plate and cutlery already set out for her.
'Go sit down,' the tiger urged.
Kaoru looked at him and then went over to the table sitting down gingerly.
The air above the table flickered and a second later a breadbasket appeared accompanied by some butter. A white china teapot quickly followed with a cup in its wake. A jug of milk and sugar bowl made their appearance seconds after.
Beside Kaoru's plate a bowl of vegetable soup wavered into the air and when she looked back at her plate she saw a steak and mashed potatoes and vegetables occupying it.
Kaoru gave the tiger a bewildered look. "I hope I'm not expected to eat all of this."
The tiger laughed softly and its expression was amused. 'There's dessert also.'
"If I eat all of this and dessert I will burst," Kaoru told him.
'Eat as much as you want. There is always more.' The tiger's eyes sparkled and she made a face at him.
"Stop looking so amused kitty-cat."
The look he gave her made her snicker.
"What am I going to call you anyway?" She asked. "Kitty-cat is obviously out of the question."
"Kenshin," Kaoru murmured. "It's nice to meet you. I'm Kaoru."
'Kaoru,' Kenshin's eyes gleamed and he nudged her hand. Kaoru obligingly scratched his ears.
Kaoru gave his head another pat and then began to eat. It amazed how hungry she suddenly was and the food was very, very good. She managed to eat all of her soup and a good portion of her steak and vegetables. As if sensing she was finished they all disappeared and a small bowl of custard and strawberries took their place.
Kaoru ate about half of her dessert before settling back in her chair. "I'm stuffed."
The tiger looked amused and she half-heartedly stuck her tongue out at him. "Why didn't you eat anything? I could have given you some of my steak."
'I'm not hungry,' Kenshin replied. "But thank you."
Kaoru attempted to rise but gave up and flopped back in the chair. "I'm stuffed!"
'Do I need to roll you to your room?' Kenshin's voice had barely contained laughter in it.
"You might have to," Kaoru said.
She got to her feet and Kenshin walked beside her, her hand resting on his back and giving her something to lean against.
"How far to my rooms?" Kaoru asked.
"The other end of the palace," Kenshin replied.
"Guess I'll end up working off my meals anyway," Kaoru murmured and he did laugh this time. "Least I know I won't be getting fat."
"Would you like to take a peak into the library?" Kenshin asked.
Kaoru's interest perked up, "you have a library?"
"Three actually," he ducked his head as she moved to whack him.
"And you didn't tell me this when you were bargaining because? I might have said yes sooner."
Kenshin snorted and she grinned at him.
"Thanks," she bent down, wrapping her arm around his neck and giving him a hug. Dropping a kiss on the top of his head she straightened. "Lead the way please."
The first of the three libraries (Kenshin said he would show the others to her tomorrow) was only a short walk away.
Kenshin said it was the smallest of all the libraries to which Kaoru replied she didn't want to know what the size of the biggest was, it was probably big enough to be its own country.
The library was huge.
A fire crackled merrily in the fireplace. Books lined the shelves that spanned the length and breath of the walls. Kaoru tried to multiply the number of books she saw by the book shelves she counted and found she couldn't. There were a lot of books. She could spend the rest of her life spending time in here reading all of them happily. And this was only the first library.
She gave Kenshin a look and he nodded. Kaoru took a deep breath and forced herself to walk to the nearest bookshelf and find a book and take it carefully out of the shelves. She could feel Kenshin emanating amusement at her back and made a face.
"Oh hell," she muttered and grabbed four more whose titles she liked and another one she caught at the corner of her eye as she turned away. Balancing her books carefully she walked over to the couch near to the fire and set them down.
'Only six?' Kenshin remarked.
Kaoru stuck her tongue out at him and curled up on the couch grabbing the book from the top of the pile. "You are now being ignored in favor of pirates and knights and a royal murder."
'You prefer the book over me?' Kenshin's voice sounded mournful.
"Yes," Kaoru said unrepentantly.
Kenshin sighed and gave her a pitiful look a puppy would have envied.
"Ignoring you," Kaoru sing-songed and turned the page.
Kenshin huffed softly and curled up on the floor next to her his head on his paws.
Kaoru gave his head a reassuring pat and resumed reading.
As exciting and well-written as the book was Kaoru soon found that her eyelids were growing heavy and the words on the pages becoming blurred. It didn't help that the couch was really, really comfy. It had been a long day and she was very tired. She didn't know how late in the night it was but it was on the near side to midnight by her estimates.
Sighing she didn't notice when the book fell from her hands and she drifted off into sleep.
Something woke her. Kaoru's eyes opened and she struggled to figure out what. It had grown dark. The fire had burned itself out and squinting all that she could make out was shapes and shadows in the darkness.
There was a gentle touch at her head fingers stroking through loose hair she didn't remember freeing from her usual ponytail and playing with the ends idly.
"What -?" She tried head jerking around in the direction of the touch.
"It's okay," the disembodied voice had her jumping.
"Who?" Then Kaoru's brain clicked as she remembered part of the curse. "It's you isn't it?"
"Yes," Kaoru heard the air shift and felt the couch lower as he settled himself down next to her. She couldn't see him in the darkness and she hated it.
"You know Kenshin never told me your name," she said.
"Battousai," he replied. "And you are Kaoru."
"Yes," she answered. She narrowed her eyes. "You don't happen to have three eyes and a horn do you?"
"No," Battousai's laugh surprised her. It was soft and warm and she felt something in her chest warm in return but at the same time it had a sense of sadness. He hadn't had something to laugh at or with in a long time, she suspected.
"Well that's good," Kaoru said.
"Yes," even though she couldn't see him Kaoru could feel his eyes on her and fought the urge to fidget.
"Why me?" Kaoru asked.
"Why you?" Battousai asked and she nodded. "You always waved whenever you went by. You acknowledged that the palace was here and someone lived inside of it." There was an odd wistful note to his voice. "Most people in the city have forgotten it or pretend it does not exist." That he did not exist. "The curse keeps it from being harmed but cloaks it from those with ill-intent toward it."
"Oh," Kaoru murmured.
She felt him nod silently.
"And my father is fine?" Kaoru asked.
"Yes," Battousai said. "He will never want for anything for the rest of his life."
Kenshin might have said the same thing but hearing it from Battousai made the last bit of tension in her fade away. His words had a ring of truth to them and his voice was at once sympathetic and reassuring.
"Thank you," she said softly.
There was a gentle touch at her cheek, brushing away a tear she didn't even know she was crying. Kaoru crumbled at the touch the tears coming faster and sobs rising and getting stuck in her throat.
She felt Battousai pull her against him and buried her face in the hollow of his throat, body shaking as she tried not to cry. His hand moved up and down her back gently and she could hear him murmur quietly against her ear. Kaoru couldn't make out the words but his voice was soft and comforting. Kaoru went limp against him, letting herself cry.
When she finally did stop crying his shirt was damp and her throat felt sore. It was a good thing he couldn't see her, Kaoru reflected. She must look like a mess with her eyes and nose all red and trying not to sniffle.
There was a gentle touch at her chin, raising her face and she felt him press a kiss to her forehead.
"Let's get you to bed."
Kaoru squeaked as she found herself suddenly picked up. "Ba-"
"You're tired and you need sleep," his voice booked no argument. "I'm just bringing you to your rooms as it's faster that way and I can see in the dark."
He had a point. Still it felt odd being carried when she couldn't see anything. Kaoru shut her eyes and the sensation lessened somewhat. She fisted her hands in his shirt needing something to hold onto.
How long it took Kaoru didn't know. She heard a door squeak and opened her eyes just before she was set down carefully on a bed. There was a brush of air as Battousai stepped away and Kaoru turned her head in his direction.
"Sleep well," he murmured. "I will see you tomorrow… night."
There was another soft creak of a floorboard as he moved followed by the sound of the door closing and then Kaoru was left alone.