It was a quiet evening. Outside the crickets chirped softly and a gentle night wind brushed against the walls of the house. Kenshin ate his meal slowly, savoring each bite. For some reason, the food tasted better then it had ever did. There was a strange sense of peace in his heart. It was as if the war wasn't going on at all. As if this wasn't just a brief rest and soon he'd be out in the thick of it again. A calm inner voice told him that this was the way life should be.
Lifting his eyes a little, he caught site of a white hand, beautifully arranged around wooden chopsticks. Slowly, and a little shyly, he let his eyes travel up the sleeve of her kimono to her graceful white neck and her beautifully pale face from which sad dark eyes shone. She was always so sad and beautiful…like a flower in the rain. Her eyes met his and he looked down again, heat warming his cheeks. A strange burst of self-consciousness kept his eyes pinned to the table. He hadn't felt this way in so long. To add to the confusion, he didn't know why he should feel this way. There was no skill involved in eating dinner. A quick mind and a steady hand wasn't needed to take food with the chopsticks, eat it, then set the chopsticks back down.
"It's supposed to rain tomorrow," she said. Her voice was soft, as always, but managed to fill his whole head. She was trying to make small talk and it was only natural he respond. But his mind had gone terrifyingly blank and he couldn't even force his mouth to open. Finally he managed to make a little noise to show that he had heard her. She gave the smallest of sighs, clearly disappointed.
Now his mind wasn't blank. Instead it was filled with one single word. 'Baka baka baka' He had to say something. Just to keep her spirits up. Just to keep those sad, beautiful eyes from becoming even sadder. But what? What? Inside he screamed in frustration…but he kept himself too well hidden to let that show. Instead he absently picked at the table while he desperately tried to think of something to say.
"I'm tired." The words tumbled out of his mouth before he could stop them. The small inner voice sighed irritably and gave him a look that clearly said that he was the biggest idiot in Japan. His legs pushed him to his feet without any direction at all from his brain. They walked him behind the screen where her futon lay and past it to his usual sleeping spot. Defeated, he let himself sit and whatever had possessed his legs now made his hand hug the sword to his shoulder. His eyes though stubbornly refused to be controlled by his body and remained open, letting his mind run free. If only he could just go to sleep. But sleep didn't come easy for him now, even when his body wasn't being stubborn.
He sat there for what seemed like eternity, staring at nothing. He wasn't bored though. Ever since he'd come up to this secluded little house, his mind had grown wild with thoughts and memories, wishes, dreams…hopes. It was never like this before. Before he had no time for reminiscing. Only time for fighting and constantly checking over his shoulder. No matter where he'd gone…no matter how safe that place was said to be…he could always feel an enemy lurking in the shadows. Someone waiting for just the right time that he was off his guard to strike. Up here it was different. Up here, there was no enemy. No one even existed except for him and her. Even the shadows seemed friendly, full of pleasant, drowsy dark.
"Are you mad at me?" Her voice broke into his thoughts. He looked at her from the corner of his eye. She had changed into a soft white yakuta and she was standing, hands folded in front of her. Thankfully his mouth was his own again.
"It's just that…you don't speak much."
"Neither do you."
She inclined her head a little, saying she took his point. He was always amazed how she didn't really need words. A slight movement of her hand could say many things without anything having to be spoken. She continued to stand there in that same pose and he watched her. He knew he was staring, but he couldn't take his eyes away. The lantern that lit the room had grown dim, and it was hard to see her face clearly in the dying light. A corner of her mouth seemed to turn up into a smile but it was gone before he could have a closer look. He looked back over at the wall.
A quiet touch on his shoulder sent a chill through him. A tendril of her silky black hair touched his face and the smell of white plums assaulted his senses. Suddenly it was as if his entire body was frozen and his heart slammed against his ribs, trying to get out. She moved her hand along his shoulder in the slightest caress and then was gone. But her perfume still hung in the air and the feeling of her hand seemed to have burned it's way into his skin.
He turned his head a little so he could see her out of the corner of her eye. She was lying in her futon, watching him. He wondered why she had touched him like that…and why she was looking at him in a strange way now. She was one of the few people he'd never been able to read and that made her seem all the more a goddess to him.
"Goodnight Shinta…" she whispered. His heart leapt into his throat as he snapped his head to look at her fully. Her dark eyes were closed as was her small, perfect mouth. He couldn't tell if she had spoken or not. Forcefully he calmed himself. She hadn't spoken. There was no way she could have known. It was just his imagination…even though it had never done that to him before.
He sighed inwardly and stared at the door. The moon made the paper squares seem to glow. It would have been wonderful if she had said that. For the first time, he found himself wishing that he didn't have to fight. He was beginning to wish he'd never picked up a sword at all. But then…he'd met her when the blood rain fell. And she'd been with him once while he fought the Shinsengumi on the dark Kyoto streets. He'd met her by the blade. He just hoped, hoped beyond everything…that he didn't lose her the same way.
Author's note: I don't know what made me write this. ^^: It was just a whim thing…ya know?
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters. If I did, Tomoe wouldn't be there and I would. ^_^ Don't call me shameless…I'm full of it. ^_^
Da no da!