Kyaa Kyaff here!
Disclaimer: *sigh* Rurouni Kenshin is not mine. Never has been and never will be.
'…' Kaoru thoughts
------- indicates flashback
To Continue On
Chapter 1: Five years later
Misao laughed and ran over to Aoshi as he stepped out of the dressing room wearing a black tuxedo. He didn't look too pleased as Misao jumped around him and the salesperson complimented him. Kaoru smiled as Aoshi placed a hand on Misao's shoulder to stop her from circling him. He muttered a few words Kaoru couldn't hear before retreating back into the dressing room.
"Want me to help you undress?" Misao asked playfully.
"No," came the curt embarrassed reply.
As Misao turned to the salesperson to tell her about something Kaoru stood up and began to walk around. She ran her hand along some of the dresses that were displayed. Kaoru and Misao had already been fitted for their gowns. Megumi would make a beautiful bride. Sano and Megumi were the perfect match. Kaoru's mind began to wander as she looked out the window of the shop.
Five years had passed. It seemed like such a short time ago. After recovering from her injuries she had moved out of Akemi's house and into her old apartment, happy to know it hadn't been rented out yet. Akemi had asked her to stay, but she couldn't. Seeing Akemi had hurt her too much at the time. Ever since that day she had wandered over to Kenshin's grave in the rain she decided she had to go on, to be strong for those around her. She wouldn't burden them. She would just keep smiling. It was rather easy once she got used to it. Megumi and Sano had come to visit her often and kept her spirits up. Misao came around too with Aoshi in tow. It was like the old times again. Akemi visited her every so often with Hiko. She was fine. She locked the pain away. She hadn't cried and refused to. Things were better that way. It didn't hurt so much.
Megumi and Sano were finally going to get married now that Megumi was done with her schooling. Kaoru had watched Megumi graduate and become a doctor. Glancing over she had seen the pride and love shining in Sano's eyes. What a wonderful person Sano was. He was a big brother to her. Someone that had taken her in and helped her without asking anything in return.
Misao was living with her grandfather at that time. About a year ago she moved in with Aoshi and his delightful niece Kaoru had the pleasure of meeting one day. She was a very stubborn and strong fifteen-year-old. It was amusing to see Misao and Aoshi together. He barely said two words around others, but Misao had told her of the sweeter more talkative side to Aoshi.
And then there was Akemi. Kaoru had visited Akemi herself sometimes. There was so much she owed to her. On one of her trips she met with a friend of Akemi's she vaguely recognized from somewhere. His name was Seta Soujiro. Akemi seemed to open up to him slowly and eventually they did start to date although it took a long time and a good push from Kaoru to get started. They'd been together for about six months now. Akemi was so different from the person Kaoru had first met.
Kaoru absently touched the glass of the window. She wondered what she would be doing if Kenshin…Kaoru stopped that thought. It wouldn't do any good to speculate on something like that. Kaoru pushed back the grief she had never fully expressed. As long as her friends were safe and happy she would be fine.
"Kaoru! There you are. I was wondering where you had gone off to," Misao exclaimed.
Kaoru turned with a smile as Misao grabbed her arm, "I was just looking at all the dresses."
"When I get married, I've decided you will be my maid of honor!" Misao said cheerfully, "Of course Aoshi still hasn't even said anything like that or proposed to me, but…"
Kaoru smiled as Misao started to ponder this.
"Don't worry. He'll ask. Just give him a chance."
Misao nodded, "You're right."
"I'm surprised Aoshi is only getting his tux now. The wedding is next week."
"Yeah but he's been busy, and it was hard enough trying to get him to come down here. I had to do a lot of convincing," Misao explained.
Kaoru laughed, "You must be a very patient person."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
Kaoru stopped and looked at her watch, "I've got to get going. Don't want to be late for work. Hoji-san will fire me if I'm late again. If you see Megumi-san tell her I said thanks, and I'll pay her back next time we get together."
"I didn't have the money to pay for the dress at the moment, so she paid," Kaoru said walking toward the door.
"See you later."
Kaoru went out the door and to her car. Getting in she pulled out and headed toward the building where she worked, which was only a few blocks away. She had promised to go with Misao for Aoshi's fitting, since her workplace wasn't that far away. She was a secretary for a man named Hoji Sadojima, who owned a big business. Kaoru wasn't exactly sure what they did. All she did was take care of whatever was needed without question. It was a good paying job that Soujiro had gotten her. Hoji was a bit annoying, but Kaoru wasn't going to complain.
Kaoru took a right into the parking lot. Parking her car she got out and straightened her business suit. Grabbing her work case she walked to the entrance already anticipating the amount of work that was ahead.
_______________________One week later________________________________________
Megumi paced around the room. She felt a little nervous, but a feeling of dread was welling up in her as well. Five years had passed and only once had Soetsu made an appearance two years earlier. He had always left her notes and little warning to let her know his threat was still real though. Soetsu said he was working for some new person named Shishio or something like that. He told her he would be very busy and wouldn't have time to visit her. Just remembering she felt a chill up her spine.
Soetsu gently touched her cheek, "It's torture on me to leave you alone like this, but Shishio-san is going places. I'll be damned if I let this opportunity pass me by."
"Can't you just leave me alone," Megumi asked hitting his hand away.
"Now Mi-chan. Don't be mad. I wanted to come visit you sooner. I couldn't make it. I am rather busy now," Soetsu said leaning against the counter, "I'm delighted to know that you've listened well and aren't married."
"You are a bastard!"
Soetsu shrugged coming back over to her, "Once I'm all finished with this business I'll be back for you. I just needed to see you again. You are the one good thing I've got going in my life."
Megumi tried to remain calm, as he got closer. The door opened startling them both.
"Hey, Megitsune I…what the hell…you're…" Sano seemed at a loss of words as he recognized Soetsu.
Soetsu looked annoyed, "You really do like getting in the way, don't you?"
Megumi quickly backed away from him. Soetsu didn't seem fazed at all as Sano put down the groceries he had been carrying.
"What the hell do you think you're doing here? How did you get in?"
Soetsu walked over to Sano casually, "She let me in. She wanted me here."
Megumi watched with wide eyes as Sano took a swing at him in anger. Soetsu dodged underneath giving a good uppercut to Sano's left side. Sano shrugged it off and slammed the Soetsu across the face.
"You expected that baby hit to hurt me. Last time I was injured. Not this time. Let's go," Sano said stepping forward hands raised.
Megumi saw the flash of a gun and ran over to Sano holding him back.
"It's true! I invited him inside. He just came to talk! That's all. Please. Just let me talk to him."
Sano's jaw moved but no sound came out as he looked down at Megumi pleading face. Then his eyes went cold and he brushed past her. Soetsu smiled as Sano picked the groceries back up and stalked toward the kitchen.
"If you need me I'll be in here," Sano said with unconcealed hurt and anger.
"Wise move, Mi-chan," Soetsu said getting up and wiping the blood from his lip, "Why don't you walk me outside?"
Megumi steeled her expression opening the door and following him outside.
"He's pretty strong. I underestimated him. A bullet would have stopped him short though. Thank you so much for escorting me out."
"I didn't come out here for you, and you know it," Megumi replied heatedly.
He took her hand in his refusing to let go, "It doesn't matter."
As he approached his car he pulled her into his arms.
"Let me go!"
"Do you think he can see us from here? Cause if he can he won't be too happy," Soetsu said softly before kissing her.
She bit his lip hard no longer frozen by his charm or affected by his kisses. He shoved her away with an angry scowl holding his lip.
"Feisty little bitch. Don't worry I won't hurt you," Soetsu said as he saw her cringe, "But I will be back. My threat still stands. Don't forget about me. I haven't and will not forget about you."
Megumi had a lot of explaining to do. It was a trying time. Sano had eventually cooled down about the whole event. It took a little while and a couple of sleepless nights alone. She knew he had felt betrayed, but she couldn't explain it all to him.
"You look so beautiful," Yuriko, the maid of honor, said opening the door and stepping in.
Megumi wrung her hands together giving Yuriko a weak smile.
"Getting nervous?" Yuriko asked.
"Just a little."
Megumi hadn't received any sign or threat from Soetsu for over a year and a half. Maybe he had given up. They were in a safe place. Nothing would happen. She would marry Sano, and they would then go on their honeymoon. Nothing would happen. Nothing would happen.
"Hey calm down. I'm sure Sano is just as nervous."
Sano was just as nervous. Pacing back and forth in his own room his best man, Outa, was trying to calm him down.
"This is your wedding day. It's normal to be nervous," Outa shook his head, "I never thought you'd marry though. I gotta say we all thought you'd be a bachelor for life."
"That's not helping," Sano said wiping a hand across his brow.
"You caught a real beauty. Great job too. Come on now. You've been with her for how many years? It'll be official in everyone's eyes now. No biggie. You love her, don't you?"
"More than anything," Sano replied earnestly.
Outa clapped a hand on his shoulder, "Then stop sweating bullets. Everything will be just fine."
Sano nodded picturing Megumi in a wedding gown. He hadn't seen it, but he knew she would be beyond beautiful. He took a couple of deep breaths. Only an hour to go.
Misao finished straightening Aoshi's tie and stepped back to survey her handy work. She couldn't help but admire the handsome face above the tie.
"Yep, that's better."
Aoshi brought a hand up to Misao's cheek, "You look lovely."
Misao blushed a little brushing an invisible wrinkle on her pale red dress. Wearing dresses had never been her thing, but hearing Aoshi's approval made her feel beautiful. She jumped up catching Aoshi into a quick kiss.
"You look pretty good yourself."
He smiled before lowering her feet back to the floor and hugging her close.
"Though I must say red isn't my color. When I get married everyone will wear green dresses," Misao declared, "But I guess that will be a while."
Aoshi seemed not to know what to say, and Misao wanted to kick herself for saying that last part. Five years they'd been together. She had been living with him for about a year now. Still she was hoping for a ring. She really loved him and Saori. Misao bit her lip before smiling up at Aoshi. She grabbed his cheek and pinched it to dispel the tension.
"I'm going to see how Megumi is doing. Why don't you go check on Sano? You are one of his ushers after all. I'm sure he needs a pep talk."
With that Misao took off. As she walked to the room she remembered how things were before she moved in with Aoshi. She was living with Jiya and had been trained by him and the others. It came in handy. There were a couple of more attempts to take her. One had been to kidnap Saori. They had finally discovered the location of the apartment. Aoshi was gone, and Nana had left to go buy some groceries, so Misao came over to watch Saori.
The energetic thirteen-year-old turned and struck at Misao suddenly. She easily deflected the blow. They both stared at each other seriously before breaking into laughter.
"Well, you've had more practice than me. Uncle Aoshi only just let me start practicing," Saori said with a pout.
"Why don't you go get us something to eat? I'm starving. Afterwards we can go practice outside," Misao suggested.
"You mean it!"
"Yeah! It'll be fun," Misao replied.
"Great. I'll be back."
Misao sat down on the couch. Aoshi was working and Misao came over often to make sure Saori was safe. She was Shishio's daughter, and it only made sense that they would try and take her back. So far they hadn't found Aoshi's location, but who knew how long their luck would hold out. A crash from the kitchen had Misao jumping up.
"Saori? You break something?"
A muffled cry was her response. Misao dashed toward the kitchen finding the back door wide open. Rushing out she saw a figure jump up straight for the trees. Without another thought she pulled out her kunais and sent three flying toward the figuring, effectively pinning their clothes to the tree and sending them tumbling. Saori fell from their arms.
Before the other person could do a thing, Misao had pulled the unconscious girl away. Her eyes widened as the person pulled her kunais out and tossed them to the side. Misao jumped up ready to do what she had to. Her eyes widened as she recognized one of Shishio's men. One of the faces that had been burned into her memory.
Kamatari frowned fixing his outfit, "This was one of Shishio-sama's favorites! How could you?"
He picked up his large sickle from the ground eyes blazing with anger. Misao took out the rest of the kunais she had. Kamatari began to laugh.
"What are you going to do with those? You can't get past my defense."
Misao's eyes narrowed. She took a calming breath casting a glance at Saori. Not even giving Kamatari a chance, she dashed forward jumping to the left then right throwing her kunais. Kamatari swung at her causing her to duck low and back off.
"You missed. You only managed to rip my outfit more, which you will pay for."
Misao attacked again dodging Kamatari's strike. Kamatari laughed seeing what she was doing.
"Fool I have…" Kamatari stopped short as Misao gave him a hard punch to the solar plexus.
His weapon slipped from his hand as he stuttered stunned. Misao kicked him hard in the face knocking him down.
"My…defense…" Kamatari stuttered out.
"Oh that. Yeah. I've been told about that. I loosened it from your grip then pinned it down, so when you tried to stop me you wouldn't be able to. You were so concerned about your clothes that you didn't even notice."
Kamatari reached a hand out for his weapon. Misao kicked it away before grabbing a kunai nearby and pressing it to Kamatari's throat.
Saori had woken up and called Aoshi and Okina. Kamatari managed to escape, when Misao was momentarily distracted. Aoshi and Saori had moved somewhere else immediately. Misao came to visit there often before Aoshi tentatively asked if she would like to live with them. Misao had jumped on him raining him with a barrage of kisses. He took that as a yes and that week she had moved in. Nothing major had happened ever since. Aoshi wasn't too thrilled about attending a wedding, but Misao convinced him. They couldn't live completely closed off lives.
Misao knocked on Megumi's door before opening it to see Yuriko putting a comforting hand on a tense Megumi.
Kaoru gave an exasperated sigh as she made her way up to the church. The ceremony would begin soon. She had stayed at Akemi's longer than she had meant to. Soujiro had shown up, and she had started to tease him. Akemi had then reminded her what time it was. Kaoru had left in a hurry telling Akemi to behave herself.
"Megumi's been freaking out wondering where you are. She's about ready to fall apart from stress as it is."
Kaoru turned to see Yuriko coming over, "Gomen. I lost track of the time. I'm here now."
Following Yuriko inside she encountered a very flustered looking Megumi.
"Where have you been?" Megumi asked catching sight of her.
"Gomen. I was a little busy."
One of the coordinators came over, "Everything's prepared. We need to line you up."
A small girl stood in the front holding flowers. Misao than lined up standing next to Aoshi. Next were Kaoru and Tomokazu, one of Sano's other friends. Than there was Yuriko and Outa. Last was Megumi with a fatherly looking man. He was one of the doctors that had trained and worked closely with Megumi. Kaoru had recently learned that Megumi had run away from home, when she was younger, and never saw her family again. Being close to the old kind doctor Megumi had asked him to stand in. He had been delighted. Kaoru's attention switched back to the present as the ceremony started. When it was her turn she walked down the aisle smiling and giving a wink to a very apprehensive looking Sano.
Reaching her place she waited in anticipation as the maid of honor and best man took their places. Everyone turned to watch. Kaoru kept her gaze on Sano as the door opened and Megumi was revealed to the waiting people. Kaoru wished she could take a picture of his face at that exact moment. His eyes softened and any nervousness he felt was replaced with a look of wonder. She saw him swallow, as he looked over Megumi his hand unconsciously moving from his side to reach out to her before stopping himself. Kaoru looked at Megumi her face partially hidden from the veil that was now being lifted by the doctor. He kissed her cheek and handed her to Sano.
Kaoru felt breathless as she watched the two stare into each other's eyes. Megumi's eyes were moist as were Sano's. He smiled broadly though. Megumi gave him a tremulous smile in reply.
Megumi's thoughts were racing as she tried to smile for Sano. This was the moment she had been anticipating and dreading. Would Soetsu show up? No. He would have by now, wouldn't he? She saw Sano's concerned look and smiled again. Everything would be fine. This was a happy day. Nothing would happen. Too many people were around. It was okay. Megumi listened as the ceremony continued speaking when told and gazing into Sano's eyes. She felt her eyes mist over as she saw the love and absolute certainty shining in his eyes.
"If there are any objections speak now or forever hold your peace."
Megumi felt frozen by those words, but the silence that ensued reassured her. She let out a small breath and squeezed Sano's hand. As the priest was about to continue someone stood up.
Oh! Uh oh! You knew I wasn't going to let them have it that easy! Well here's the first chapter for the sequel to Fragile Balance. Some more things will be explained about what happened in those five years. Hope you liked! Tell me what you thought! ^_^
Kyaa Kyaff saying til next time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!