Kyaa Kyaff here!
Disclaimer: RK does not belong to me!
'…' Kaoru thoughts
… Kenshin thoughts
To Continue On
Chapter 10: The Aftermath
Soujiro watched from the shadows as Shishio sank down to his knees, blood dripping from his mouth as he muttered a curse at Saori. Soujiro's eyes switched to Akemi's back. She stood just a few feet in front of him near the door. He wanted to reach out, to feel her warmth one last time but he did not. He looked back to where Shishio had fallen and felt a chill run up his spine. Cold lifeless eyes pinned him in place with an accusing stare. Soujiro slunk further into the shadows of the hallway, wishing to escape the glare in those eyes. He had dishonored himself. First by betraying the one who had saved his life and raised him to be who he was now, and by betraying the woman he had fallen in love with. He was weak.
At that moment Akemi felt a weird sensation at the pit of her stomach, stopping her from rushing to her brother's side. Turning she looked behind her to find Soujiro gone. Something wasn't right though. After what he had done she shouldn't care, but the look in his eyes was beginning to haunt her. Without even realizing it she found her feet taking her away from her brother to wherever Soujiro may have gone. Urgency rushed through her veins. Something was terribly wrong. Akemi had to find him. As she descended the staircase, she ducked into one of the nearby rooms. The others would be fine, but something was definitely happening. Akemi didn't bother to worry, since she was too worried about finding Soujiro.
Akemi absently chewed on the nail of her thumb as she walked around. There had to be someway out. Maybe when Soujiro came next. It would really help if it wasn't him. She gave a frustrated sigh after turning the knob of the door. She couldn't stand it, being locked up in a room. It reminded her too much of when she was younger. If she wasn't careful she might have a panic attack, something she hadn't had since the last time when she first met Soujiro.
"Come on. Stay calm. Don't think of that now."
Akemi spoke aloud to reassure herself more than anything. Maybe she could try kicking the door down. One dubious look later and she realized she would break one of her bones trying. She probably wouldn't even dent the door. She played with the stupid knob in frustration. Flopping back onto the bed, she closed her eyes. Someone was coming. She heard the door unlocking.
"Come to feed me?" she asked bitterly.
Soujiro stepped into the room. "Your brother. I'll take you to him."
Going back down the stairs, she tried to open her senses to find Soujiro. He had to be somewhere close. He couldn't have gone too far. Taking steps two at a time, she almost fell, when she tried to stop short. Akemi had found him. Flinging the door open, she immediately spotted Soujiro kneeling in the middle of the room, a knife in hand. He must have sensed her near, because he didn't so much as flinch or look over in surprise at her sudden appearance.
"What are you doing?" Akemi exclaimed in horror.
Soujiro bowed his head. "Leave here. Go to your brother."
"Put down the knife!" Akemi ordered, trying to remain calm.
Soujiro shook his head. "Please leave."
"No," Akemi closed the door behind her without taking her eyes of Soujiro.
"I don't want you to see this."
Quickly Akemi scanned the room, as Soujiro spoke, desperately trying to think of something. "Well, I'm not leaving."
"I'm sorry then," Soujiro said solemnly.
Akemi's eyes widened and she made her move in a split second. She had spotted a sheathed sword leaning on the wall close by her. She quickly grabbed it, whipping off the scabbard and sending it straight toward Soujiro, who promptly caught it before it crashed into his head. His gaze switched back to Akemi. She had turned the blade around so it was pointed at her chest. Since it was so long, she gripped the blade with her hands, so tight that blood began to drip from her hands, as they slid along the sharp edge.
"If you kill yourself, then I'll kill myself!"
"You won't," Soujiro replied.
"Then you don't know me very well."
"I am a traitor to the one person I owe my life to."
Akemi shook her head. "Tenken. That is what you are known as here right. Shishio saved you? You are his tool. If he saved you it was only because he found you useful. That's not saving you! That's using you!"
Soujiro smiled. "Either way, I am alive because he saw something in me."
"The weak die, isn't that right? Well, Shishio was weak, wasn't he, or he would be alive right now."
"No, I knew he could not sense his daughter's presence. For some reason he has never been able to. I knew she would be able to kill him."
"That's not an excuse damn you! You self-pitying coward! Go on! Kill yourself! I'm going to follow you right to hell and make you regret it with all your soul! Do it if you're so determined. Come on! Don't leave me in suspense, you damn weakling! You damn coward!"
Akemi watched him intently, her jaw clenched so tight after she finished speaking that her teeth began to hurt. Soujiro was staring at the wall ahead of him, almost perfectly still. A few moments passed in tense silence, until Soujiro took a deep breath. Akemi felt her heart begin to race even faster wondering what his next move was. His next move determined hers. She hadn't lied, and she silently apologized to Kenshin as her grip tightened further in preparation for whatever was to come next. She let the breath she didn't even know she was holding go as he tossed the knife away from him.
"Please lower the sword," Soujiro said with a bowed head. "I won't move."
Akemi dropped the blade with a start, still in a bit of a daze. She had been almost convinced he was going to plunge the blade into his chest. She fell weakly to her knees, speechless and immobile. Her relief was too great and she found tears slipping from her eyes involuntarily. He was alive. He had thrown his blade to the side. Voices coming from down the hall brought her out of her daze.
Akemi jumped up going over to where Soujiro silently sat.
"You have to get out of here. Hurry!" Akemi said grabbing his gi.
Soujiro shook his head. "I should be arrested."
"No! You dumbass! Get up! Now!"
Soujiro placed a hand over Akemi's tightly balled fist. "Akemi…"
"No! You think rotting in a prison will somehow make up for everything? You think that will somehow make up for what you did to me! It won't. Get up! I said get up!" Akemi stood, yanking Soujiro up with all her power. It burned the cuts on her hands, but she ignored the pain.
He stumbled a bit, his face surprised at her strength.
"You get out of here and make up for what you've done. You can't do that in prison, and I won't let you go there," Akemi looked down at the floor. "Whatever else you have to do to find peace of mind, do it, and then when you have, I expect you to come back with a dozen roses in one hand and a smile on your face."
"Got that!?" Akemi asked, giving him a little shake.
Soujiro leaned forward, gently kissing Akemi's forehead. "I understand."
Releasing his gi, Akemi watched him disappear from her sight. Taking a deep breath she regained her composure, heading for the door. She had to get back to Kenshin and see how he was doing. She barely noticed the deep cuts on her hands.
Megumi unclasped her hands, shifting nervously around. Sano's injuries had not been life threatening, but he had been hurt pretty bad. She just wanted to hold him close, feel his warmth. Luckily all she ended up with was a major bruise. The others weren't in good shape though. Kaoru had nearly bled to death right there on the rooftop. Someone stepped into the waiting room. Megumi nearly swore. Sano had a crooked smile aimed at her, a hand holding his side.
"What do you think you are doing?"
Sano shrugged. "I was tired of waiting for them to x-ray my ribs. Thought I'd come see how you were doing. Look, they already sewed me up so no more bleeding all over my favorite pants."
Megumi went over to his side, resisting the urge to beat him even more. Maybe make sure those scans came up with broken ribs. It was a tempting prospect.
"Heard anything about jou-chan?" Sano spoke tentatively.
"I'm sure she'll be fine. It's been bad before…something like this wouldn't take her down. If you hadn't been there…she probably would have just bled to death. You're amazing, you know that Megitsune."
Megumi lightly hugged him. He looped an arm around her, dipping his head down to her shoulder. "She's gotta be alright. That stupid girl."
Her shoulders burned the most. The pain shot all over, but in a dull fuzzy way that wasn't particularly painful. Everything was white. No, that was the ceiling. Kaoru blinked several times. Where was she? A hospital? Shishio had… Panic immediately engulfed her. Where was everyone? What happened? How did she get here? Where was Kenshin? Oh god where was Kenshin?
She tried to sit up, but her body wouldn't cooperate. Shifting her shoulders up only made the pain hit her stronger. She didn't know how long it took, but eventually she forced herself up. Kaoru felt so weak and woozy, but she needed to find Kenshin. Forcing her way to the edge of the bed, she went to stand. Unfortunately everything began to spin and her legs gave out on her. The floor was cold and hard, and she let out a yelp as she landed on her knees, her hands going out to stop her from face planting into the floor. They gave out on her, and she ended up in a pitiful pile on the floor. Tears fell from her eyes at the fiery pain that coursed through her. A nurse soon came in as the machines Kaoru had been hooked up to before she fell had gone off. She probably should have pulled those off before she stood. Kaoru almost wanted to laugh at her own stupidity, barely listening to the nurse, who called for help.
"How's Kenshin?" Kaoru groaned as they helped her. Her mouth felt like one big bruise. It was painful to move her lips.
"Hush now. Look what you've done. Do you want to make your injuries worse?"
Two people helped her back into her bed. She wanted to fight them off, but the woozy feeling persisted.
"You've lost a lot of blood, you know. And now you've reopened the wounds." The first nurse turned to the other. "Go get the doctor."
"I want to see Kenshin."
"Please just settle down. Visiting hours aren't for another hour."
"No, no. He should be here. A patient. Please! Please!"
"Shh, just rest."
Kaoru didn't see what the woman did, but her drowsiness increased until she was unable to keep her eyes open any longer.
Someone was lightly stroking her hair. It felt comforting. She went to lift her hand, but something prevented her. She pulled again, but there was something on her wrists.
"Shhh. Just relax."
Kaoru flicked her eyes open briefly. "Kenshin?"
"He's alright," Akemi said softly. "Don't worry. He'll recover just fine."
Kaoru rolled her tongue around her mouth, trying to get rid of the dry cotton taste in it. "Wanna see him."
"First, you need to relax and recover. Just need to recover that blood supply of yours. You left it all over that rooftop."
Tears started to slip from Kaoru's eyes. "I wanna see him."
"Believe me Kaoru. He is fine. He's not going anywhere. And if I'd let him, he'd be here, but he needs to take it easy too. Geez the both of you are such a handful," Akemi let out a sigh.
Akemi dabbed Kaoru's cheeks. "Now stop all this crying."
No matter how much Akemi reassured her, it wasn't working. She kept flashing back to that horrible day.
"Please tell me Kenshin is alright. Please! I tried to stop him, but I was too late. I didn't realize he was going to stab himself. Akemi, please. He is fine, right?"
Akemi put a hand on Kaoru's shoulder, "Hey, calm down. You'll wear yourself out."
Kaoru felt tears come to her eyes, "Akemi, please. Please tell me…he's alright."
She saw Akemi begin to tremble, her shoulders shaking slightly. She took a couple of breaths, but tears started to slip from her eyes. Kaoru felt a huge weight press down on her. She didn't want to hear what Akemi was going to say. She didn't want to hear it, because it couldn't be true.
"He's not alright," Akemi closed her eyes steeling her expression, "He didn't…make it."
The panic began to set in again. She tried to ward off the feeling she had that day, but it began to hit her.
"Please…please Akemi," Kaoru's voice shook. "I need to see him."
Kaoru pulled against her restraints in frustration. Akemi placed her hands over Kaoru's. Only then did she notice the bandages on Akemi's hands. "Listen…"
"No! You listen! Get me out of here. Take me to Kenshin! I need to see him! Take these…damn things off of me!" Kaoru ended in a shout, straining her arms again. She hated the feeling of not being able to move her arms. It made her think of Enishi. She was keeping down that dread, more worried over seeing Kenshin.
"Damn Jou-chan. You sure are loud for a recovering patient."
"Sano," Kaoru said breathlessly.
He winked at her, coming through the door. "Look at this. Even I didn't need restraints. And what's all this Kenshin shouting. What about me? Hmm? I'm hurt. I don't know if I will be able to hold my tears back."
Kaoru felt her racing heart ease up a bit at the sight of Sano's smiling bruised face. He came over, leaning down to place a light kiss on her forehead. "Glad to see you awake and talking."
Kaoru smiled. "How is everyone?" A slight anxiety gripped her. What about Misao? Megumi? Though she was sure Sano wouldn't be here right now if Megumi was hurt.
"Everyone's hanging in there. Aoshi hasn't woke up yet, but he's stable for the moment."
"Misao…is she alright?"
"Staying by his side."
Akemi's voice came out cold and final. "The bastard is dead."
Kaoru closed her eyes. "So everyone's okay…"
Kaoru went to lift her hand to wipe away the few tears that were escaping her eyes. The unpleasant feeling washed through her again as she pulled against the restraints. The feeling of relief was quickly replaced by a sick sensation in the pit of her stomach.
Her voice came out high and strained, even though she tried to keep it calm. "Can you please take these off? I promise…I swear I won't go anywhere. I'll stay in bed, so please…"
She felt her breath start to hitch a little. Sano cursed lightly under his breath. Coming over he immediately removed them. Kaoru's hands flew to her face.
"Sorry, Jou-chan…I wasn't thinking." Leaning over he grasped her hands, forcing her to look at him. "Hey…come on girl. Look at me. You're okay."
Kaoru nodded with a small smile. "I'm okay."
Akemi stayed silent, as Sano reassured Kaoru. Megumi came walking in with a raised eyebrow.
"You two already flirting, I see." She gave a small smile.
"Oh baby, you know you're the only one for me," Sano proclaimed.
Kaoru laughed, though it hurt a bit. Akemi stood. "I've got to get going. I'll come by tomorrow. So behave yourself and listen to the doctor."
Kaoru nodded. Akemi gave her hand a brief squeeze before heading out the door.
Few weeks later
Misao rubbed the slight swell of her belly. "Saori is doing fine. She's still shaken up about what happened though. But right now I think the two of us are too worried about you to think about anything else. So pull your act together and wake up…okay?"
Misao scrunched her eyes closed, warding off the tears. Picking up Aoshi's hand, she gave it a small kiss before placing his hand on her belly.
"I know it's not much right now, but soon I'm going to be a big balloon. And I will be craving stuff. So of course you will have to be awake to run out for whatever I want in the middle of the night. You have all those doctor appointments to take me to. You know you want to listen to the baby's heartbeat. "
Still his face remained passive. Still he continued to sleep. If only he were sleeping. Aoshi had slipped into a coma. Misao had prayed for him to wake up, but a few weeks had passed with no signs. The only good thing was that he had become stable and was no longer in any danger.
"Why can't it be like in the movies? You wake up right when I need you to the most and smile at me. I know that's not how it really works. The longer you stay like this the…" Misao shook her head. "You'll be okay. Stay positive!"
Misao placed his hand back on the bed, but did not release it. The door opened, and Saori came in. She pulled a chair up beside Misao.
"You should get some rest," Saori said, resting her head on Misao's shoulder.
"I have been."
"Hardly," Saori replied. "You have to take care of your health. Uncle Aoshi would be furious. I bet right now he knows you are neglecting your health and is in fact furious!"
Misao pouted. "I am taking care of myself."
"You've been here almost the whole day."
"What better place to be then a hospital."
"Go home. Get some rest. I will call you if anything changes before they kick me out."
Reluctantly, Misao stood up. Leaning over she kissed Aoshi's lips, his cheek, and then his jaw line. Before whispering into his ear. "I love you. I'll be back real soon."
Heading for the door, Saori walked with her. Aoshi's eyes fluttered open looking about in a daze, the hand Misao had been holding twitching slightly. His lips moved imperceptibly. Almost as if it was too much effort to stay awake and comprehend, his eyes slid closed and he stilled. Saori waved bye to Misao. Sighing, she sat down where Misao had been.
"Please wake up soon, Uncle Aoshi."
Kenshin wanted to turn over onto his side, uncomfortable from lying on his back for so long. His side still hurt a bit so he didn't bother. It annoyed him to no end to once again be stuck recovering. Akemi had reassured him that everyone was alright, but that didn't stop him from wanting to see Kaoru. He hadn't protected her. He wanted to with all his might, but his body just sat there while Shishio had hurt her. She'd gone so pale. Kenshin had been almost sure she had died up there. Almost gave up altogether at the thought. Now a couple weeks later, and he still hadn't gone to see her, just listened to Akemi's report that Kaoru was out of the hospital and recovering just fine. He should visit her, but to what end. Would she even want to see him?
He'd been such a different person when they'd first met. So messed up. So angry. He hurt her. That's all he had ever done. Brought her trouble. But still…he wanted to see her. To see her cheeks flushed and lively, instead of deathly pale. He wanted to do things with her the right way. He wanted to give her the normal relationship she deserved.
What did he know about a normal relationship? He could still feel it sometimes. That other self. That creeping darkness he held within him. He could suppress it now, but it was still there. It threatened to drown him with the blood of all those he had killed. It would be easy to throw himself back into that darkness. To not care who he hurt, to just possess what he wanted. Kenshin covered his face with his hands. He'd never be that person again. Ever. He'd finally found himself. The past couldn't be forgotten, but it no longer controlled him. That violent twisting anger that used to overtake him was gone. It had taken years, but he worked past it. Just so he could see her again. So he could smile at her like a normal person. Even if she had moved on with her life.
Kenshin wouldn't impose himself on her…No, he couldn't. After the way he had messed her life up. The very least he could do was offer her friendship, and from there it would be her decision. Kenshin's face set in a grim line. Would she want his friendship? Shaking his head, he sighed. He would drive himself mad if he kept with this line of thinking. For now he would be glad she was recovering. Things would go whatever way they went. Kenshin closed his eyes. He just needed to get some rest. The sooner he was better the sooner Akemi would stop treating him like fragile glass, and the sooner he would be able to see Kaoru.
Kyaa….hey guys…hmmm been forever huh…well ive had most of this chapter sitting around for…a few years. ; I thought it was about time to finish up this story. I hadn't been writing in so long. So sad. so any plot holes or errors…sorry. Just enjoy the chapter. It's a little short but eh…The epilogue is almost fully complete and also has been sitting around. So give it a day or two and I will post that as well.