Author's Notes: I hope I made up for the short chapter before, and I hope I'm actually starting to get into the plot. ^^ For those who are sticking with this story, thank you! I know I'm barely updating my stories under this name and I feel bad for neglecting it for so long. *crossing fingers for 10 reviews*

Hands of Healing

Chapter 4: Secret Sorrow


A chill began to seep through her clothes and Kaoru tensed herself, waiting for her father to loudly stomp into the kitchen with anger following right behind. Yet, there was nothing but the crackling sound of a warm fire. She opened her eyes to see her rescuer bent over the flickering flames with a painful look of reminiscence in his lavender eyes. He wasn't in the woods anymore but in a place far away that she couldn't reach him. She sat up, clutching the gi over her lean frame, and gave a small cough to get his attention. His head whipped up and his hand was already over the hilt of his sword. He eased down when he saw her but his hand didn't leave the sword, only fingering the worn fabric.

"Kamiya-san, how are you feeling?" He asked gently.

"Much better." She relayed as she stretched, gingerly feeling the soreness of her muscles. If this was how she was going to feel every time she did a healing...maybe she shouldn't use it too often. Besides, she couldn't attract attention to herself, if she did healings it would have to be private and few. If her father ever heard word of her, she shuddered. How many blue haired, blue-eyed women were there in Japan? She reached up to her face and gave a sigh of relief when her fingers met the frayed edges of her scarf. She would rather hide than go back to that despicable place she once called home.

"So, um, could I know your name?" She asked shyly, suddenly aware that she couldn't call the man her rescuer all the time. There was a long pause that followed, as if he was thinking very hard about his name.

"Himura. Himura Kenshin. But I have been called Rurouni Kenshin as well." He said, almost hesitantly.

"Ken-shin. Heart of sword, I like it." She said brightly and she stood up. The morning was chilly but the bright sky above gave a solid promise of a warm day, and best of all, she didn't have to fear being alone anymore. "So where are we going today?"

"You don't know your destination?" He asked curiously.

"Oh, yes," she stammered. "Um, I plan on going to Kyoto, I have some relatives there that I'm staying with."

"Kyoto..." That look was back again, that sorrowful gaze of going back to the past. Kaoru bit her lip and wished she had picked a different city.

"Um, but I plan on visiting some villages on the coast before then." She lied. Maybe she could find work before they arrived to Kyoto, and then he wouldn't need to help her anymore. The major cities always attracted thieves and she didn't wish to one day run into her father. A small, isolated village would do perfectly, one that didn't prosper, thus not attracting scoundrels and such. "I'm just going on a sightseeing tour around the coast before I settle down with my relatives." She lied again, hoping to make her story more plausible.

He took her word and nodded his head, the fire red bangs encircling his face. For the rest of the day, the two walked down the dusty road in silence. In a feeble attempt, Kaoru desperately tried to pull a conversation from him but to no avail did he give more than one word answers. She finally gave up and took to soaking in freedom and relaxation she had never felt in all her years. The countryside was utterly peaceful and there were always several backs painfully bent before rice fields. But only a few cared enough to catch sight of the strange picture of the red haired and blue haired travelers walking down the road.

It was near dusk that they finally stopped to take shelter in another clearing in the woods, too far away from a village to stay at an inn. Not that they would have the money to do so. Kaoru winced as he began to start a fire. She didn't have any money at all, and she had nothing of value on her to sell. Where would they get the money to feed themselves? Kenshin miraculously had some onigiri hidden away in his gi but what were they going to do the day after that?

"Kamiya-san." He said softly.

"Kaoru, it's Kaoru." She berated him lightly. She had spent hours trying to get him to say her name, and he had improved enough to say Kaoru-dono.

"Kaoru-dono, there's a small hot spring beyond those trees over there."

With a smile she thanked him and began to quickly walk towards where he had pointed. She couldn't remember the last time she had the luck of taking a bath in a hot spring. True to his word, she saw steam flowing up from a small pool. After taking a quick look around, she tore off her clothes and slowly slid into the water. It was heaven for a sore and dirty body and Kaoru slid all the way down till only her nose was poking out. She was on the brink of falling asleep when a rustle of bushes jerked her out of her drowsy state. Kenshin wouldn't peak on her, would he? She heard a heavy step come closer. No, it couldn't be him, he always walked as if he was sneaking around

"Who's there?" She called out while hiding her chest with her arms. She shrank back when a pair of burly men stepped out from the shadows. Her mind panicked as their eyes gazed heavily on her body. "K-"

The word barely came out of her mouth when a third man stepped out from the shadows, unbelievably tall with even taller brown hair standing on end. He cracked his knuckles and the two men turned around in surprise. With an easygoing grin he lifted two hands and flicked a finger at each of their heads. They flew back like a horse had kicked them in the chest and fell to the ground in an unconscious heap. Kaoru was about to call for Kenshin's name again when he appeared out of nowhere and held the sword near the tall man's throat. The man immediately put his hands up.

"Hey hey shorty, I'm was only helping the pretty lady out. I'm on your side." He said reassuringly.

"Kenshin, let him go, he saved me from being-TURN AROUND!!!" She yelped and both men blushed and whirled to face the trees. How stupid was she, just sitting around naked with two men in front of her! She was reaching for her far off clothes when a magenta gi fell by her hands. She looked over to Kenshin who was only wearing his tan colored undershirt. With a murmur of thanks, she quickly slipped on the large shirt and tied it around her waist with her scarf. After checking to make sure nothing was showing, she tapped their shoulders.

"Thank you for saving me." She said to the tall man.

"No problem, thanks for the free show."


Kaoru's hand was in the air, her face livid with rage. The tall man backed away from her with a fearful look on his face. "You-you-you roosterhead!" She bellowed and stomped back towards the clearing. Kenshin's eyes flickered specks of amber as she disappeared.

"Who are you?" He asked.

"Just a guy looking for a good fight." The man shrugged. "And saving as many beautiful women as I can. Sorry if I was being too forward with your woman."

"She's not." Kenshin said and his hand relaxed off his sword.

"She's what?" The man asked, though he had clearly heard him.

"She's not my woman. Your assistance is thanked." With a hard look, Kenshin walked back towards their clearing. The tall man's casual behavior promptly changed into a feral smile. He had found her.... and his new rival. Koshijiro would be pleased.


It was the next day that Kaoru did her second healing and found a way to make money. After walking for two hours, they came upon a thriving town that was just short of being a full fledged city. After quietly thinking to herself all night, Kaoru found a way to push away the guilt of being a freeloader. If she healed someone who was wealthy, she could bring in a fortune for saving his or her lives. Now all that had to be done was to find a sick, desperate, rich person who would do anything for help. The gods must have been with her when a young manservant stood in the middle of the town square and began shouting for help.

"Anybody who has knowledge of the healing arts, whether it be medicine or magic, please follow me!!! My master is on the brink of death and needs attention immediately! Please!!! Anybody!!!" The man shouted...desperately. Kaoru's eyes gave a twinkle as she grabbed Kenshin's shirt and pulled him over to the manservant.

"I'll heal your master to perfect health, on the condition that I'm richly rewarded." She demanded as seriously as she could. The manservant looked at her up down, from the worn scarf covering her face to the ragged clothes on her body.

"My master would never tolerate common thieves-"The servant began but backed off when Kaoru pulled down her scarf low enough so that he could see her face.

"I have never been a thief in my life, nor am I common. I am, however, the only person who will be able to save your master's life. But it all comes to a price."

The manservant took a gulp as he stared into her unusual ocean blue eyes, then nodded. With a wave of his hand, he began to lead them out of the town square and towards a quieter part of the town.

"He was always weak in health but then last night he grew worse. I called his usual doctor but the idiot told me he couldn't do anything. And now I've been driven to ask commoner for help." He said as he nervously pulled the gates of mansion open for them. "And don't steal anything."

"I told you-"Kaoru hissed but grew quiet when Kenshin laid a hand on her shoulder. The man led them through a series of hallways and finally stopped in front of a pair of imposing shoji doors inlaid with gold. Kaoru took a gulp and opened the doors, the stench of a sick body nearly made her recoil but she knelt down beside the ailing figure. He was an aged man and his chest rose up and down so slowly that it appeared that he was barely breathing at all. The manservant was looking over her shoulder, while hopping on one foot then the other.

"Could you, erm, wait outside the room?" She asked.

"And leave my master all alone? Of course not!" He exclaimed.

"Kenshin?" Kaoru asked and the redhead led the servant out the door despite loudly issued complaints. Once the shoji doors closed shut, Kaoru lifted her hands and placed them on the man's chest. She fought down a gasp as something started to painfully suck on her soul. It felt like it was trying to pull her heart out and after several seconds, Kaoru wrenched her hands off the man and crumbled to the floor. She fought back tears as the agony started to ease away and after a minute, her body felt normal again. *Kami it hurts*

"Ugh....Kane....Kane..." The man feebly called out. Heavily wrinkled eyes blinked open and Kaoru sat up to hold the man's hand. When realizing she was touching him she threw the man's hand off. soul sucking feeling, no pain....but she touched him, didn't she? Did that mean that she healed only when in contact with an ill person?

"Grandfather, how are you feeling?" Kaoru asked as the man spryly sat up and kicked off the covers.

"Grandfather? Where?" The old man turned his head this way and that. "Kami, I haven't felt so well since I was 20! Kane?" The old man turned his eyes onto Kaoru. "And who are you? Why are you in my room? Where's Kane?"

"He's waiting outside. I'll bring him in right away." Before Kaoru could stand up the man's hand shot out and tugged her back down.

"Wait, are you a geisha?" He asked eagerly.

"Ahh...Kane!" She called out and the shoji door slammed open. Kane sped over to his master.

"Master! You're alright!!" Kane sobbed out. "I thought you were going to die!!!"

"Ahem..." Kaoru said. "The payment, please?"

Kane gave an indignant sniff and proceeded to bow before his master. "Master, this commoner who might be a thief brought you back from death and is now cheekily asking for payment for bestowing what was rightfully yours in the first place."

"She's not a geisha?" The man asked as his face fell. "Wait, I was sick? Did you heal me, geisha?"

I'm not a geisha, grandfather," Kaoru said through gritted teeth. "And you were sick. Your manservant promised me payment in return for saving your life."

"Kane! How can you swindle this lovely geisha?! Go and give them their money!!!" The man said loudly. Kane ran off to do his master's bidding and came back with a tiny pouch of gold. After several more roars elicited from the man, Kaoru finally left the mansion with a heavy bag of gold coins, which was given instantly given to Kenshin despite refusals, a lovely painted fan, and a request to come back and sing for the old man, but in costume.

"Can we stay at an inn tonight?" Kaoru asked as they walked down a crowded street. "If we run out of money, I'll just heal another rich man again. Please?" Kaoru gave a pout and Kenshin finally consented. After renting a room at a modest inn, Kaoru called on a second request.

"Would you mind if I buy something less...torn to wear?" She asked. "I feel like I'm bringing attention to myself if I look like a beggar."

"Was it because of what that servant said?" He asked as he watched her stammer out a response.

"Of course not! I just feel that-"

"Never mind, go ahead, it's your money." He said and placed several gold coins in her hand, an infinite amount more than she needed.

"No, saving a life is priceless, and you saved mine already. I'll make more money Kenshin, I promise, and you won't have to worry about anything any more. Except maybe me. I'll be back before dark!" Kaoru sprinted out of the inn before he could say anything. There was something in those azure eyes that reminded him so much of the woman from his past. Was it the sorrow that sometimes secretly glimmered in both their eyes? Kaoru was so much of a mystery to him. Her origins, her disheveled and beaten state of appearance when he first found her, and those incredible powers. But what struck him the most was how fearful her eyes became whenever she was thinking. Like her thoughts might jump out and beat her.

He sat outside, leaning against one of the wooden beams holding up the house and took himself back into his reluctant memories. It had been ten years and he still couldn't erase himself of the memory that always tore into his mind. The blood, the agony, and worst of all, the sorrow. He could run from his past, but he could never escape it, no matter how hard he tried. The guilt never failed to bring him to his knees, making him so eager to lift his sword and take his life, finally ending all the pain. But he had made a promise and he would keep it till the stars would crumple to the ground and humanity was nothing but dust on the ground.

The sun had nearly set and he was wondering if he should look for her when he finally saw her walking into the courtyard wearing something he had not suspected her to wear. She had traded in her tattered yukata for a set of male's clothing, a dark blue hakama and a cream colored gi. She was sporting a low kasa that effectively hid her face, better than that ridiculous scarf she wrapped around her face. At least now he could catch her lips in a smile. She had several other packages in her hand and dumped them on Kenshin's lap and sat down next to him. She took off her kasa, letting her striking blue hair shine in the last remnants of the sun's light. Sometime in the day she had put it in a long braid that reached almost to her knees.

"I'm so exhausted, I walked everywhere to find a good bargain and I met this wonderful woman who's a genius with clothing. And I got you some clothes too, instead of that pink gi you always wear. And I also bought some things we could use on the road. I didn't bother buying medicine but I did get us some cloaks in case it rains." She said with a grin. "I've never spent so much in my life but I guess its because-"She stopped her words then tried to cover them up with a broad smile. "Let's go eat, I'm starving."

Kenshin opened his mouth to say something but then closed it and submissively nodded his head. Putting on the kasa again, Kaoru led Kenshin out onto the street and into a nearby restaurant. A busy waitress seated them in an isolated area off in the corner and promptly left them there. After a moment of silence, Kaoru tried to start a conversation.

"Kenshin, um, would you mind if we leave at midnight? There's...there's something I need to do before we leave and it might take some time, but it should be done before that time." She asked uncertainly.

"No, but what is it that you need to do?" He asked.

"It's just a simple matter that I need to take care of." She lied smoothly but her stomach rolled in fear.

"I should go with you-"

"No! I mean, it's alright, it's not that important. And it shouldn't take much time, then we can leave."

"Why at midnight? Didn't you want to stay at the inn?" He interrogated her.

"I-it's-I don't feel comfortable here." She said flatly. Kenshin could feel his eyes turning amber at her false words and he took a deep breath to make it go away.

"Kaoru-dono, what are you running away from?" He asked.

A brilliant pain sparked in her eyes, making them glow with a staggering sadness. He wished he could take his words back as her face dropped into despair.

"Kaoru-dono, it's alright if you don't want to tell me. You can ignore my question." He said as gently as he could. Her fingers clenched and unclenched in her lap, then she stood up in a quick movement and ran out of the restaurant. Cursing under his breath, he struggled to follow her petite and speedy figure. He looked at both sides of the street and cursed again. She was lost in the crowds.


-So how was it? *nervously pulls at fingers* More on why she was acting scared will come in the next chapter, along with yahiko's introduction and maybe more on sano's role in this story. It will be devious, considering his nature...

Mewberries: I almost forgot that kaoru didn't know his name but I remembered and stuck it in this chapter. And of course kenshin is hiding a secret, I have a vague idea of what his secret will be, but I'm still working on it.

CB-san: *blushes* aw, don't say that, you should read Linay's stories, or Kyaa Kyaff's, now those are some excellent stories. Mine doesn't hold a candle, much less a flicker to masterpiece's like that!

Serpentilewitch: yup, I purposely made him kinda cold. In this story, he will still be dwelling on past memories and he hasn't quite gotten hold of being a people person. But I'll try to retain some of his anime personality as well

Gypsy-chan: thank you! I hope you'll stay with this story and not lose interest. I know I'm so horrible at updating but I have every intention of finishing this story!