You guys are going to kill me for this now. Look at the top, where it displays all the categories of this story. Look. See "Angst/Humor" right there? Yep. Bet you've been wondering where angst comes in, huh?

Yes . . . just a warning. If you don't like unhappy endings, unhappy characters, unhappy circumstances . . . you should start reading my other stories. Because from here, it's going to get darker. Er, at least until I stray off course again.

Yeah and . . . I still can't get the time sequences and events correct. Pardon me if there's wrong information. I'm supposing that this is the same day as the last chapter.

:: Chapter 14 ::

Kaoru quietly sewed Kenshin's worn gi by the candlelight. Looking to her right, she could see him, quietly sleeping.

He had been hysterical for hours, sobbing into her arms like a small child. And there, Kaoru had never thought that this boy she was comforting in her embrace would be her oro-ing object of affection in the future.

"I'd never hurt you," he had blubbered, "never."

Finally, he was asleep, comforted by Kaoru. Kaoru sighed. What a mess.

Suddenly, the door burst open. A smiling Iizuka walked in, a bottle of sake in hand. "Heeeey, Himura," he drawled, "It's the festival, let's get going! Afterwards, we can hit the red-light district and -"

Kaoru shot him a look. "Shh! Be quiet! He's asleep!"

Iizuka raised an eyebrow, and then backed out of the room. Kaoru scoffed: what a strange man.

Noises suddenly arose from outside, and Kenshin's body suddenly sprang up.

"Kenshin!" Kaoru cried. "What . . ."

The door suddenly burst open once more, this time crashing to the ground, breaking. A red, heavily breathing man cried out, "Himura!"

"Katakai, what is . . . you're supposed to be guarding Katsura at the meeting!"

The man named Katakai shook his head violently. "The secret meeting place – the Ikedaya – it's been raided by – the shinsengumi!"

Kaoru was surprised by the sudden change in Kenshin. His face flushed red, then faded into a chalk white shade. "What about – what about Katsura?" he cried.

"It was too early, and Katsura wasn't there yet," Karakai said, sighing. "The head of Tsushima was taking his place. And because he was taking a nap, he missed disaster."

Katakai's face was a mask of remorse. "But Yoshida . . . and Miyabe . . ."

Quick as a light, Kenshin leaps for his katana. He was just about to burst through the open door when Iizuka bodily held him back. "Himura, it's too late now! Even if you leave now, you'll be too late! There's 3,000 Bafuku soldiers there! Fighting now would only make things worse!"

Katakai leaned on the wall, shaking his head in despair.

Kenshin let his body go limp and fell out of Iizuka's restraint. He collapsed onto the ground. He pounded the floorboards with tightly clenched fists and roared with all the anger and frustration he had.


Kaoru, dressed in a plain and simple kimono, closely followed Kenshin. He donned a large hat, hiding his face in shadow. They had just witnessed the bloodied – but victorious – Shinsengumi. Kenshin's face was dark, contorted up in thought.

The two were nearing a bridge. "Um, Kenshin?" Kaoru timidly asked, "where are we going?"

Kenshin was silent for a few seconds. Finally he softly said, "to see him."

The reached the bridge, where they stood and watched the sun. An old beggar stood underneath, huddling under a raincoat covered with mud and grime. Who could possibly be so filthy?

"Katsura," Kenshin said to the beggar, "I heard about the Ikedaya meeting."

Kaoru felt a sense of understanding. So this was why they came.

"Their real plan was to set fire to the city and capture the Emperor in the confusion," Kenshin continued. "You were the only one who opposed that outrage. You were also the only one to survive the attack. Katakai says it's by Heaven's decree."

"But look at us now," Katsura said, shaking his head. "Kyoto's Choushuu faction is destroyed. We're now being pursued as enemies of the Emperor. In Hagi the conservatives are gaining power. There's been a reversal in the provincial government. I'll stay in hiding for a while. I can't go back to Hagi, but if I stay here I'll be caught."

A short pause. Then: "What should I do?" Kenshin asked. "The Inn was burnt to the ground."

"We've arranged for a house in a village just outside of the city," Katsura said. "You can stay there. I'll contact you through Iizuka. And Kaoru," Katsura said.

Kaoru snapped to attention. "Yes?"

"If you have nowhere to go, you can stay with Himura." Katsura slowly got up to his feet. "A married couple will be less suspicious than a young man alone. Of course, it'll only be for show."

Katsura started to walk off. "Take care of him, Kaoru," he said, before turning his back to them.

Kenshin and Kaoru stared at Katsura's disappearing silhouette in silence. Finally, Kaoru broke the void. "Well, what should we do? I mean, I don't really have anywhere to go, but . . ."

Kenshin turned to her. His golden eyes had flecks of violet that shimmered in the sunlight. "It's not like you have nowhere to go. If you want money to travel I can give it to you."

He paused, then gave a soft chuckle. "I suppose it would be cruel to leave it all up to you. Let's live together."

Kaoru stared at him.

"I don't know how long it will last, but . . ." Kenshin turned around, looking at the other side of the river. "It doesn't have to be for show."

Kaoru smiled and took his hands into hers. "It definitely doesn't."

Together, they watched the sun set upon their world.

:: End Chapter ::

Lots of this chapter is just transition. Lots of quotes. Lots of useless fluff. =[]

Thanks to Maigo-chan's manga translations which make up a bunch of this chapter.

Next time, I swear, original stuff. XD And hopefully, not so darn happy.