Author note: Hello! Reposting due to popular demand, but with new and improved punctuation.
Something was horribly wrong.
Despite the injuries they had sustained, neither Kenshin, Yahiko or Sano would go below decks to be treated, and even Megumi seemed far happier with the prospect of being able to get on with healing them up here. Misao had become permanently attached to Kaorus sleeve and wouldn't let go. They were all watching her closely, looking relieved, but pained.
She was desperate to know what had passed while she had been in Enishi's custody, but this severe reaction from everyone had shaken her initial joy at being back with them again. They were obviously keeping something important from her, and they had all been treating her as though she was made of glass. It frightened her and made her wonder if she really wanted to know after all.
Looking out from the railing, Kaoru was glad to see Tokyo bay getting closer. She knew that once they all got home, everything would be okay. They would rest, eat and eventually everything would go back to normal again.
Feeling excitement at being nearly home bubble up inside her, she bounced happily and leaned out over the side. There was a cry and she was suddenly yanked backwards by Misao, who was clutching at her whole arm, looking petrified. Kaoru looked back down to her, confused, and quickly realised the cry had come from not one, but five different sets of lips.
She turned and saw Megumi, Yahiko, Kenshin and Sano had all taken a step towards her at this sudden movement, each face plastered with fear.
"Kaoru-San!" chirruped Misao from next to her, forcing her expression into a huge grin, but still holding her kimono sleeve as a small child might. "If you fell in, poor Aoshi-sama would have to jump in after you! Be careful!"
Kaoru turned back to the deck and watched as everyone settled back into their seats, looking awkward. The only person still watching her was Yahiko, who she was startled to see looked as if he might cry. Realising he had been caught, the boy looked at the floor, hands balled into fists on his knees, shaking slightly.
"Yahiko…?" Kaoru took an uncertain step towards him, not knowing whether to comfort him or let him be.
Suddenly, he stood and limped towards her, eyes still downcast, but shoulders set firmly. Kaoru stood rooted to the spot in shock as her usually cocky and arrogant student hugged her tightly around her waist and stood silently quaking, face buried in her kimono.
She could feel the weight of everyone's suppressed emotions pushing down hard on her as they stood in complete silence. Looking up at the others, she was disturbed to see that no one would meet her eye. Kaoru automatically focused her attention on Kenshin, and after a moment of silence, perforated only by the quiet sobs from Yahiko, he looked slowly back at her.
She couldn't read the impossible collection of emotions that flickered across his face, but somehow she understood that he couldn't speak of it. Sharp pain squeezed her chest as he looked away again.
Something was horribly wrong.