AN: Don't kill me. I have actually made changed to this story. Real ones. This will now be a three part story, so please have patience. Thanks. *kisses*
To AnimeKrazy… I'm sorry you don't like my writing anymore.
One Million Miles Away: A Story by infinite nemo
Chapter One: Growing Up
A hand on her shoulder stopped her. She broke off mid-sentence and turned around.
"Kaoru- hi- could I please talk to you for a minute? Do you have time?"
Ignoring the knowing glances her friends were giving each other Kaoru smiled at the person who had spoken to her. "Sure." She said with a smile. "You guys go ahead." She said to her friends. She rolled her eyes at Kenshin good naturedly as she watched her friends walk off, heads together and giggling. "So what's up Kenshin?"
"I… uhm… ah, that is…" She looked at him patiently, waiting for him to say it. "Oro… er… you know that… well, it's my senior year… and it's getting close to the end…" She looked at him strangely- it was barely April, after all. "Uh- to the cut off for dates…" Here her expression became still more confused. "I- that is, for prom." He stumbled on gallantly. Suddenly, it dawned on Kaoru. She put a hand on his arm to stop him and asked gently,
"Correct me if I'm wrong, Kenshin… but are you by any chance asking me to go to prom with you?" She said with a twinkle in her eye.
"Yes." He said gratefully, having a huge sigh of relief.
She smiled brilliantly. "Sure. Baka- that wasn't so hard." She glanced at her watch. "Oo… but I have to run- call me ok?"
She smiled at him one last time then hurried off in the direction her friends had gone- pony tail bobbing merrily in her wake.
Kenshin sighed. That had been more than four years ago, but every time he thought about it he still got a goofy grin on his face. 'I guess some things really never do change.' He made a face. 'I guess I'm getting sappy in my old age.' He then thought, 'I did go to prom with the prettiest girl in the school… Not even Megumi or Yumi could compare to her that night.'
He buried his hands in his face. "So what am I doing?" Since that day, he and Kaoru had been dating. They didn't get to do much together, and he wasn't home a lot, but Kaoru didn't seem to mind the long distance relationship. Anyway, they both seemed to enjoy what little time they spent together—a lot. And he was happy as long as she was happy. But recently… there was this other girl who was on his mind. A demure yet stately woman, infinitely more sophisticated than Kaoru… and this enigma occupied his thoughts as much as Kaoru of late - if not more. She completely fascinated him- he had never met anyone like her, this Yukishiro Tomoe. 'Tomoe is just a friend.' He told himself. 'I still love Kaoru. And I always will.'
Kaoru waited for her cell phone to ring three times before picking up. She forced herself to stay still on her bed before rolling over with a grin.
"Hello Kenshin." She grinned as soon as she pressed the "yes" button.
"Kaoru- how are you?"
"Glad that you interrupted my studying." She said with a smile.
"Shut up right now, Kenshin. I don't want to hear you fretting. I threatened everyone with bodily harm if they even came within six feet of me or disturbed me in any way, and I've been studying and waiting all day for your call." She could picture Kenshin grimacing at a scary looking stressed Kaoru, then smiling at her admitting to him that she hadn't wanted to see or hear from anyone but him.
"I'm honored, Miss Kamiya." He said formally.
"You'd better be Shinta Kenshin Himura." She growled.
Kenshin chuckled on his side of the line. "Alright, alright, no more bickering." He realized Kaoru couldn't see his placating hand gestures, and sat on his hand to stop himself from gesticulating foolishly to nothing. His voice picked up a husky timbre as he spoke his next words. "I can't wait to see you…"
Kaoru sighed. "Me neither… it feels like forever."
"I'm sorry it has to be right before your finals- are you sure you'll be ok?"
Kaoru rolled her eyes, and sounded exasperated. "Well, I'm talking to you now aren't I?"
"But these are only midterms!"
"Kenshin, you nerdy little worry-wart. Not everyone starts studying for exams the second week of classes." She cut him off to continue on, saying, "Anyway, we both know I don't have to, and that I'm smarter than you."
"What?" He mocked good humouredly, "You think I'm the pretty one?"
"Keeenshiiin…" Kaoru pouted. "You know, I've half a mind to hang up on you."
"But you won't…"
In a completely different tone, Kaoru said quietly, "I can't believe I haven't seen you in over six months."
"I miss you." Kenshin said simply.
"I miss you too." Kaoru paused, waiting for Kenshin to say something, but he didn't. To break the slight lull, Kaoru asked, "So- how is everything? Are you still tutoring? And has Sano finally managed to drag you out more?"
Kenshin wondered a little guiltily if he should mention to Kaoru his new female acquaintance, but quickly decided not to. Kaoru was jealous, he rationed, and it was nothing, so he had no reason to worry her over it. She had so many more and important things to be concerned about, than who he had coffee with.
Kaoru snatched up the phone. "You do know it's the weekend before the last week of classes, right?" She growled into the phone, completely unaware of who it was on the other end.
"Is this a bad time?"
"Kenshin?" Kaoru was completely surprised, but felt the anger magically melting away. She sat down easily, with a big smile spreading over her pretty features.
"Is this a bad time?" He repeated, concerned.
"Oh no- I've been holed up all day. It's high time for a break. What do you want honey dear?" She asked playfully.
He chuckled. "And you called me a nerd- you've still got what- two, three weeks before finals?"
"Kenshin…" Kaoru said threateningly.
Kenshin cleared his throat, and sobered with his next words. "Well, I just wanted to confirm when you would be meeting me this weekend…"
"Well, I'm taking an early final, but I should be done by 5 on Friday…"
Kenshin was surprised. "Two weeks before?"
Kaoru shrugged. "Well, crazy professors, you know. But you'll help me recover, right?" she teased.
Kenshin sounded pained. About that… I'm really sorry, Kaoru, but I can't make it until Saturday. Something came up…"
"Oh…" Kaoru sounded disappointed, but then quickly perked up. "Well, we'll just have to make up for it on the rest of Saturday and Sunday then! You'll be getting here pretty early Saturday morning then?"
"Well, I don't want to get there too early- but I do hope to get there before noon…" 'And leave before lunch… God I'm such a horrible person. She sounds so happy… how am I supposed to tell her?'
Kaoru sounded irritated, and he could just imagine the adorable pout she'd be sporting this very moment. "Are you even listening to me?" She asked, knowing the answer.
"Sorry…" He said sheepishly. But try as he might, he couldn't seem to focus- that or shake the guilty feeling from his shoulders. Tomoe had told him last night she'd be breaking up with Akira… and he had decided to end his own relationship with Kaoru. As much as he didn't want to tell her, he still felt she deserved to be told in person, and not something as impersonal as over the phone.
Kaoru hung up slowly, and looked at the phone. 'Did Kenshin seem… a little… weird?' She shook herself. 'You're just paranoid, Kamiya. He probably just had a bad day or something.' She picked up a book, but after flipping through a few pages without seeing anything, another completely different thought popped into her head. 'He's probably just nervous!' She laughed to herself. 'I'll still never forget our first anniversary together… Kenshin was so nervous and aloof I thought he was going to break up with me… it's probably something like that!' Completely bolstered, Kaoru cuddled a stuffed animal Kenshin had given her and threw herself into studying whole heartedly. 'I'm going to kick butt on these finals and finish flawlessly. This whole year will end perfectly- and the icing on the cake is Kenshin's visit that'll really motivate me to cream my finals.'
Misao looked helplessly from one Kamiya to the other. 'And I want to marry into this family?' But she quickly pushed that thought away. She did, it was just… the day had been very long and what was left of her nerves had long since frayed.
Directly in front of her was her best friend, prostrate on the floor, crying uncontrollably. She had tried to move Kaoru to her bed, but the girl wouldn't allow herself to be touched. To her right was her fiancée, his expression hard and his lips pressed firmly together. A stranger would think he didn't care at all and was completely unaffected by the scene before him, but Misao could see how helpless he felt and how upset he truly was. She went to him and sat down next to him, leaning her head against Aoshi tiredly. 'I really don't know what to do about Kaoru…' He put an arm about her stiffly and muttered quietly,
"I'm going to kill that bastard." As if she had heard, Kaoru only began crying harder.
Misao clutched at her fiancée desperately. "Please- don't do anything reckless." She looked into his eyes carefully, worried. "Just don't do it- it won't make things any better."
About a week ago, right before her exams and graduation, Kaoru's family had gotten a phone call from her university saying that Kaoru had had a minor emergency, and was in no physical danger, but would someone please pick her up immediately after her last examination? Aoshi had gone to Kaoru immediately, but she refused to see him or say anything about what had happened. He had followed her around, waiting for her outside her dorm and classrooms. She went about her normal schedule, but with a shadow that she ignored. When he finally used force to make her face him, she had stood listlessly, saying nothing, remaining motionless until he let her go. Then she had merely hurried back to her dorm and locked herself in.
Following Kaoru's last exam, he had packed up all her belongings and brought her home. Immediately Kaoru had had gone to her room and began crying. She rarely ate, and had done nothing, refusing to see anyone but the two people with her- their father had left almost immediately after her return, staying long enough only to be assured of her health and charging Aoshi to care for her.
Hours later, Kaoru fell asleep.
"God she's a mess." Sano said quietly, joining Aoshi and Misao at the kitchen table after leaving Kaoru's room. "What happened?"
Misao wordlessly handed him a newspaper article. He skimmed it quickly then swore softly under his breath. "I never thought Kenshin would or could possibly act like that."
"Like that?" snarled Aoshi. "He led my sister on for five years. She basically ruined her life for him, turning down so many opportunities for the chance of being with him, and then he dumps her and is engaged within a month and about to be married in less than three weeks?!" He took a deep breath, and then said more calmly. "Dad wants to kill him. Literally. He had to leave the country and compose himself."
Sano, knowing how scary the normally gentle and mild mannered Mr. Kamiya could be, looked quickly from Aoshi to Misao, and she nodded once, almost imperceptibly in confirmation.
"Kaoru…" Misao brushed some hair out of her friend's eyes. "Do… do you want to talk about it?"
Kaoru looked at her, confused. "Talk about what?"
Misao searched for a way to bring this up with her now sister-in-law. Today was the day of Kenshin and Tomoe's wedding. They had been invited, but luckily Misao had found the invitation in among the rest of the mail, and Aoshi had torn it up, thus unquestionably ending the matter. However, it had been posted in the papers, and Misao had no doubt that Kaoru knew exactly what she was talking about. "Dear…"
Kaoru turned bright blue eyes to her friend's face, and said concernedly, "Misao- are you all right? You didn't fight with Aoshi, did you?"
Misao blinked. "No… no- everything is fine between us- in fact, he'll be over in about half an hour."
Kaoru smiled. "I didn't think you two would have problems, but just in case. Well, I'm glad nothing is the matter then."
Knowing her friend was feeling hurt, Misao finally was forced to speak plainly. "Kaoru dearest… you know… you know today is K-"
"I know." Kaoru said clearly, cutting Misao off showing it had been on her mind.
"Oh baby, I'm so sorry." Misao said softly, pulling Kaoru into a secure embrace.
"Don't be." Kaoru said with a cheerless smile. "That's just the way things worked out, and…" her voice caught, but she went on bravely. "I wish them both well. I just wish I had been able to tell them that. I wonder…" She paused for a few minutes, before continuing, "I wonder that we weren't invited…"
Misao considered then telling Kaoru that they had been invited to the wedding, but quickly decided against it. Kaoru wouldn't be able to handle it, even despite the brave front she was putting up. Instead, she stroked Kaoru's back comfortingly. "Kaoru…" she began.
"No, Misao. No- you're the best friend I could hope for- more than I deserve." Kaoru breathed in deeply. "But it's ok. You don't have to say anything." She straightened, and wiped a few stray tears away with the back of her hand. "I'll be ok." She stood, and said more firmly, correcting herself, "I am ok. Anyway, I better wash up, before Aoshi comes. I don't want to worry him."
"He really does care- you know, it's just he can't, well, Aoshi doesn't really show his emotions." Misao stumbled to find the right words.
"I know." Kaoru said, finally with a genuine smile. "I grew up with him, after all. And I know he loves you. And you make it easier for him to open up. But… well, Aoshi loves you more than his own life. And… Kenshin just didn't love me like that." Before the last word had even left her lips, Kaoru had stepped out of the kitchen and into the bathroom, firmly shutting the door with another forced smile.
Misao was left sitting at the breakfast table, shredding a hapless napkin in between agitated hands. 'Oh Kaoru… but he did…I'm sure of it…'
Before Kaoru emerged, Aoshi had arrived and let himself in. As he walked into the kitchen and bent over to kiss his wife on the forehead, Kaoru stepped out, her face looking as if it had been freshly washed. She was wearing a few light touches of makeup, and said cheerfully,
"There you are, slow poke. Now let's go and eat so we can get back quickly and I can stop imposing on your lovebird time." With that, she went to the hall closet, grabbed her coat, and walked outside.
Aoshi looked at Misao wordlessly, and she shrugged helplessly, looking pained. Silently, he helped her put on her coat, and they followed Kaoru out into the cold.
"Please, it's just for one drink. One!" The man pled desperately.
Kaoru laughed and said kindly, "I'm afraid you wouldn't much enjoy my company, Katsu. Now if you'll excuse me I have to meet a friend." She walked away quickly to a dark blue car parked by the sidewalk.
"Hey there girlie." Misao put an arm about Kaoru's shoulders. Looking at her peaked face in concern.
Misao stuck out her tongue then looked at Kaoru carefully. "Are you ok?"
"Yes, fine. I'm just a little tired from dealing with the unwanted attentions of Katsu, is all." But she quickly pulled on a pair of dark sunglasses to hide the expression in her eyes she knew Misao had seen. She then looked at her friend sharply. "Don't even try it- Katsu is nice and all, but it'll never happen. Never."
Misao shrugged, and was silent for a few moments, and Kaoru settled back surprised, yet pleased.
"You know…" Misao began, "Amakusa Shougo is a really nice guy…"
Kaoru groaned internally. 'I spoke too soon…' But she sat up straight in preparation for this battle of words. "Who has a thing for his sister and converting the world in his not so right view of religion…"
"What about Soujio-"
"Kid needs therapy because he definitely isn't always happy and his smile's a bit creepy."
"A wee bit too into the whole one-ness spiritual thing."
"Total world- or woman domination isn't what I want in a man."
"Now that is one guy who is definitely too good for me. It'd never work."
"Well, Katsu? I mean are you so sure?"
"Tad too desperate. No thanks."
Kaoru put up a hand. "Really, Misao, no. I'm fine. I don't want any relationships…"
Misao bit her lip and said gently, "Kaoru dear… it has been over two years…"
Kaoru took off her shades and looked at her friend, her expression pleasant yet blank and unreadable. "Two years since what Misao?"
Misao shook her head. "Never mind… anyway, you're going out with us tonight."
"Since when?" Kaoru lifted and eyebrow and said suspiciously, "I don't remember saying that. Stop trying to trick me into meeting guys, you crafty-"
"Sano's going to be in town, remember?"
"Oh." Kaoru subsided. "I guess that does trump my arguments. I'd totally forgotten the rooster head was going to visit."
Misao smiled smugly. Kaoru cast a horrified look at her, then said "You're not planning to fix me up with Sano again, are you?"
Misao snorted in a very unladylike way. "No, although that was probably one of the most amusing events of this lifetime and the next, I don't think the rest of us could survive it. You two simply aren't compatible that way."
"Well, at least that's one man you're not trying to force on me…" Kaoru sat in silence for a few minutes before asking, "Won't Aoshi, aka Mr. Insanely-over-protective mind you going out?"
Misao winked, some of her former genkiness showing. "He doesn't have to know. And I promise- no drinking or even dancing really. I'm going just to keep an eye on you kids, and especially you, Miss Lightweight."
"Uh-huh." Kaoru poked her friend skeptically, before grinning at her, then turning her attention to the radio.
Misao grinned back, and then eyed her carefully once when Kaoru was absorbed with fiddling with the many knobs and stations. Misao sighed and bit her lip. 'I wonder if she's seen the papers yet…' Near the back was a small article about a recent scandal- a woman who had died in a car wreck while fleeing the country with her lover, Akira Kiyasoto while she was in the process of divorcing her husband Himura Kenshin…
AN: *insert deleted anger* I haven't updated in a while. I know. I won't apologize. To all you who are wondering about my other stories, no I haven't forgotten them. I'm in the process of editing new chapter's I've written. To put it simply, "My life was suck." Suckiest it's been yet, so please bear with me. [To ewunia, I got your review- I have new chapters written, but I am editing it, because I don't want to post trash and I'm sure you don't wish to read trash. I'd also appreciate it if you stated your opinions in a slightly different tone. Thank you.]
I haven't forgotten you- please don't forget me.
Talk to me.