Chapter 12

By Crystal

*We all know who this belongs to ^^;;*

How long I sat in front of Okina-san without moving, I did not know.  It was like feeling the Bakumatsu all over again.  The feeling fear that you would lose someone dear to you, the feeling of dread because many innocents were being killed.  I can remember the day Kenshin killed that innocent by-passer during the Bakumatsu...  I can remember the cold voice that froze my blood and those lifeless eyes that worried me to no end.  Then there was the scrubbing that almost made his hand raw.  How long ago was that, really?

Fifteen years, perhaps?  And yet, the memories are still in my head...  They have been in my head for what seemed like forever...  And they felt like yesterday that I had lived with him in Otsu, it felt like yesterday since I saw him make it rain of blood...

I was worried...  Everyone was out, even Kenji and Soujiro-kun, I shooed them out.  But they promised that if I screamed, they would be here within a second.  I had gotten a hug out of both of them before they left.  I sighed quietly, hoping once again that Kenshin would come home safely, without injured.  But it seemed to be a bit difficult.  I have not known Kenshin for a long time since I met him again, but I still do know his personality.  It was the same as fifteen years ago...  Always wanting to help, sacrificing himself in the process.

The candles had been burnt, everything was dark and I sat in the darkness, all alone, not feeling, neither happy nor sad.  It was weird, really.  Except for Okina-san's soft breathing, I could not hear anything other than that.  There was also a few noise outside once in a while, possibly the citizens taking care of the fire starters.

So far, I have not seen light, meaning no fire has been started.  I was relieved, yes.  But I learned to not have too much hope...  In the end, hopes were always crushed.  Yet some, some hopes actually become true.

I don't know how long I sat there, thinking, staring at nothing but the darkness, listening to Okina-san's breathing...  I felt my eyes blink and suddenly wanted to sleep, but all of a sudden, I heard the door open and my head whipped around to meet them.  "You're back."  I said quietly, smiling as I caught sight of Kenji's auburn hair and Soujiro's blue clothing.

"Hai, hai...  No big fire was started...  Otousan's coming back soon."
I nodded happily, "All right."

"Okaasan...  You're tired.  Go to bed, I will tell Otousan where you are when you wake up."  I nodded quietly, knowing Kenji was quite right, then stood up and walked where the room I slept was.  I yawned, then slipped into my futon, falling asleep before my head even hit the pillow.

* * * * *

I sighed quietly as I stared out the front door, waiting for Kenshin along with Yahiko-kun.  I insisted waiting outside with him.  It was already morning and he hasn't come back yet.  I was starting to get worried...

It was then that Kenshin appeared, beside him stood Sanosuke-san.  As he approached me, I saw a smile flicker on his face.  I greeted him and he greeted me back before he told me everything while Sanosuke-san and Yahiko-kun went in.  "Forty-one dead...  Then seven buildings partially burnt down."

I nodded, "It's a miracle...  But there are still deaths..."

"Yeah...  Was Yahiko standing guard outside?"  He asked, amusement painting his face.

I nodded, "He insisted that he keep us safe.  How are you, are you hurt?"  I asked, knowing fully well that concern was all over my face.

He smiled again, "I'm okay, Tomoe...  How about you and the others?"

"Of course I'm fine, I did nothing but sit beside Okina-san...  Kenji and Soujiro-kun went and helped.  We're all fine..."  I turned around as I heard the door open up slightly.  I knew it was Kaoru and I turned around, "Kenshin's back, Kaoru."

She smiled brightly at Kenshin, Kenshin bowed, "I'm sorry I caused you to worry, Kaoru-dono."  I saw Kaoru's smile flatter.  "Tomoe..."  I turned around to face him again, "How is everyone else?"

I shook my head, "As I have heard, Misao-san isn't doing too well..."

"What...  What's wrong?"  He asked worriedly.

I knew he was probably blaming himself again, I smiled, reassuring him, "Don't worry...  As I heard from Kaoru, an enemy got behind him and she almost got killed...  She's fine now, she wasn't injured.  Don't blame yourself, Kenshin."  I turned around, knowing that Kenshin would follow me, "How was Saitoh-san?"

"The usual...  Tomoe...  I...  I have got to speak with you later on tonight."

I looked up and frowned, "About what, Kenshin?"

"Something important."  He glanced at Kaoru for a slight second, then I nodded knowingly. 

* * * * *

"Aoshi's in Kyoto?!"  Sanosuke-san suddenly exploded.  The rest of us nodded up and down while he looked like he was ready to kill, "How come I wasn't informed?!"
"You were still somewhere, lost, Sano."  Kaoru replied.

Misao sighed, "And that's not all.  Okashira Shinomori Aoshi, who has vowed to kill Himura, has joined forces with Shishio Makoto.  He put the Aoiya in danger and he almost killed Jiya.  He is our enemy...  and we should destroy him..."  She said in a quiet voice that I had to strain my ears to hear, "That's right...  He's our enemy..."

Kenshin looked at her with concern, "Misao-dono..."

* * * * *

May 29, 1879

It was today that Kenshin came back...  And he has to leave tomorrow at the break of dawn.  I couldn't sleep right now, and he said he had something important to tell me.  Perhaps he will come to my room.  Okina-san gained consciousness after our discussion about Shinomori Aoshi...  After that, we heard a story from Okina-san's point of view about Shinomori-san.  Though there was one thing that bothered me, and I am sure it bothered Kaoru, Sanosuke-san and Yahiko-kun as well.  Okina-san asked Kenshin to kill Shinomori-san.  I think even Kenji and Soujiro-kun were bothered as well.

Kenshin insisted that Shinomori-san did not use his full strength, or Okina-san would have died.  I believe in him...  In Kenshin, I mean.  There was also a message from Fujita-san, also known as Saitoh-san.  Inside was saying that he was making arrangements for the Kyoto Fire and like I said before, he would be here at the Aoiya to pick Kenshin and Sanosuke-san tomorrow at dawn.

Sighing, I closed my journal and once again and stood up and looked at the stars, "Kenshin..."  I whipped my head around at the sound of the shoji sliding open.  "Kenshin?  What are you doing up so late?"

He sighed, suddenly, he looked very old...  "I told you I had something to talk to you about."

"What is it?"  I asked worriedly.

He held out his hand, smiling.  "Let's go on top of the roof and watch the stars first."  Shyly, I took his hand and let him drag me softly away from my room.  He helped me up, being the gentleman he was and we sat there on the rooftop for quite a while, watching the stars.

"It's...  It's about Shishio Makoto's ten sword."  I looked at him, surprised.

"What?"  I asked.

"I wanted to talk about Shishio's group...  And who is in there."  I nodded, signalling for him to continue.  "At first, I was doubting whether or not I should tell you, but I decided that it was better off if I told you, so then you would not be surprised later."

I urged him to talk more, "There are a lot of people from the Juppon Gatana...  One of us, if not for me, would too have joined Shishio Makoto."  I frowned, "Soujiro.  He met him while he was at a very young age...  Shishio gave him a sword because he was getting tortured by his family, and if I'm not wrong, Shishio was waiting for Soujiro to kill the family.  If he did kill them, then Shishio would take him as a student.  But instead, I saved him that day, when he was getting hit."

"There was also Chou, who was captured by me a few days ago, and some other ones..."

"Kenshin.  What are you doing up with Tomoe-san here so late?"  I heard Kaoru's voice.

"Kenshin's there?"  I heard Yahiko-kun's voice.  "Did you even get enough sleep, Kenshin?"  He asked, then I saw both their heads come up.

Kenshin nodded, smiling.  "Of course, I had half an hour of sleep."  For most, that would not be enough, but for Kenshin, I knew it would be.  During the Bakumatsu, he went without sleep for two days sometimes...  Sometimes even days.

"Is half an hour enough?"  Kaoru asked.  Then she went beside Kenshin, and took his hand.  "This medicine...  Megumi told me to give it to you.  Use it well."

"Arigatou."  Kenshin said.

Kaoru glanced at me, "Should we leave you two alone?"  She asked.

Kenshin nodded his head, "I would like that very much...  Arigatou gozaimasu, Kaoru-dono."

She smiled at Kenshin once, then turned around to meet me, "Oyasumi nasai, Tomoe-san."

"Oyasumi nasai, Kaoru."

I watched the two of the leave the building and I turned to Kenshin expectantly, "Well...?"

"Don't be surprised..."  He said wrapping his arms around my shoulder.

I felt nervous, "Now you're making me worried, Kenshin."

He sighed, "One of the Juppon Gatana...  One of the best...  He's...  He's Enishi."

"Yeah...  And...?"  I asked, confused.  He looked at me to let the information sink in, I felt my breathing stop, my eyes widen, and my heart racing.  "...Yukishiro...  Enishi...?"

* * * * *

Author's Notes: Sorry for that extremely short chapter and sorry it was updated in such a long time.  I had a writer's block, not to mention lots and lots of homework...  I have a test tomorrow, gah!  Wish me good luck...  And I want you all to be careful about the illness going out there, kay?  Be careful and stay away from coughing people =\  Thanks for all the reviews from last chapter and I hope you enjoyed this chapter too...  There's also a cliffie...  And half of you people will chop my head off =\

XenoMark – Thanks a lot ^^  Well, I guess this is what's going to happen ^^  Kenshin just forgot to mention it *grins*  But he mentions it here.  I think I know where this is going...

Blueraingurl – I updated!  Woohoo!  As for considering and AU for K/T, I will consider...  I wanna write more K/Ts =\  They're fun to write with ^^  Me likes Misao too ^^

Rook - ...Well...  You'll have to see...?  It's Kenshin's decision at the end though =\

ReAcH – Heyo!  Well, cause Tomoe's...  she thinks of herself lowly.  For Hiko making his appearance...  I've thought about it...  but I'm still not sure yet.

rika – Obvious that Kenshin loves Tomoe, yeah.  But Tomoe thinks low of herself, therefore, she doesn't see it =\

CardMistress Sakura – LoL, less Kaoru ^^  I won't torture Tomoe, don't worry ^^

Lillian – Heya!  Yes!  It's a cliff-hanger!  As for pairing Kaoru with someone else, I'm still thinking who to pair her up with ^^  And yes, she does seem selfish in this fic, doesn't she?  But then again, keep in mind that she's in love...  Well...  supposedly anyways.  Tomoe doesn't act like that because she's way more mature than Kaoru =\  Anyways, hope you enjoy this!  If you want more K/T fics, check on my favourite's list.  There are a few ^^

griever – Thanks a lot!