12/24/2004 Hey, guys. An update will be out soon, but I was really getting annoyed by the bad formatting of a couple of chapters. So I'm going to fix these first.

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!

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If you were to kill me, would I forgive you?

Kenshin knew it was coming. He could feel it in his bones, the way a chill raced up his spine. He could feel it in his body, the way that his nerves started to scream a warning.

But most of all, he thought as he looked into her determined eyes, most of all...he could feel it in his heart.

It thudded painfully as she gripped his wrist. She seemed to be grasping for the things to say. Kenshin wished vainly that she would never find them. That things would stay the way they were.

Please. Not now. Not when I have finally found peace.

Not when I have finally found love.

But she spoke.

"Do you love me?"

There was a silence, punctuated by pain.

"Karou-donoSessha," he struggled with himself.

"Don't try to evade the question, Kenshin, I'm tired. Do you love me?"

I'm sotired of being alone.

Tell her! His heart screamed. He had to. He had kept it to himself for so long…

"Iie."

There was a moment of silence, heavy in its finality. Kenshin's heart ached as he watched the light slowly fade from her eyes. Tears would have been better than her broken acceptance.

Please, don't look at me like that.

As if in answer to his silent plea, she closed her eyes, slowly releasing his arm. Her voice was cold and razor sharp with pain when she finally spoke.

"Goodnight. I—tell everyone goodnight for me."

She turned away, leaving him in the courtyard alone. He watched her, his eyes filling as her walk turned into a run for the sanctuary of her room.

"Karou…" he whispered, violet eyes filled with grief as her shoji slammed shut. He raised a hand, fingers outstretched.

You do not deserve peace. How could you ever deserve love?

His hand dropped to his side where it curled into a fist. "I'm so sorry," he choked out, turning away to sink silently onto the stone bench.

In the end, his mind had won with the simple argument. Save her. He had to save her.

How could I ever deserve love?

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Aoshi knew that she had entered the room, even though she had employed all of her skills to enter soundlessly. Even though he faced the window and she had done nothing but stare at his back for the past few minutes.

But his heart knew. The darkened room seemed just a little lighter with her presence. It was always just a little warmer when she was with him.

And he knew before she opened her mouth to speak that something was wrong.

"Aoshi-sama."

"Misao."

"We have to talk, Aoshi-sama."

He had known that she would say such a thing. Had known, but had not expected it.

"No."

"We have to."

"No."

Her voice grew quieter. Heavier. "Aoshi-sama."

"Misao, I told you NO. Go to bed."

He heard her intake of breath. He braced for the oncoming onslaught.

"Aoshi-sama, I hate you!" the ninja girl screamed in rage. "I hate you, I hate you, I hate you!"

No blade could have dealt a sharper blow.

"Misao-chan," he sighed, forcing himself to remain calm in spite of the hurt. "Go to bed."

"I'm not a child anymore, you idiot!" she cried in desperation. "I'm not a child, can't you understand! I love you! Can you not even tell me that you care about me? Can't you even lie for me?"

He balled his hands into fists, waiting for them to stop shaking before he turned to face her.

Lie to me…

"Misao." He had to pause, had to keep the pain out of his voice. "Leave."

Her aqua eyes shimmered with tears as she watched him turn away. She groped for the door handle and stumbled out.

When she clicked the shoji shut she fell to her knees and wept, pounding her small fists into the wooden floor. "Can't you even lie to me? Aoshi, I'm dying. I'm dying. And…and I don't want to be alone."

In her grief she never heard the sorrow of the man placing his hand on the door that kept them apart.

I promise I'll believe…

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The next morning, two screams of agony could be heard in Japan. Two souls would never be the same again.

I do not want to be alone…