Please understand that this is a SPOILER FILLED story. If you don't want to know what happens at the end of Rurouni Kenshin...Don't read this story. That means that anything that happened along the way to get to the end is in here too. I left nothing out. Mostly because Kenshin gives us a small recap of the series through his own eyes. Fun stuff. I am reposting a reposting because I found even more stuff to tweak out. Missed spelling moments, a few spell check changed words. Have = Gave is my favorite so far. And I added a bit here and there to add some spice to my writing. Why they let me out of the special person ward to do this...I have no idea.

is thought

" is spoken "

Have bundles of fun!

The Long Road Home

A Rurouni Kenshin Fiction


She had been sweet. Sweet like the sake in the spring. She had hair like midnight on the longest night of the year and skin as soft as the finest silk. Her eyes were of the darkest brown so deep and savoring they reflected the world in a glance. They had shared so much back in the past, but he hadn't seen her in years, and he never would again. "How is it possible for life to go on without her sweet innocence in the world? Or maybe she wasn't all of those things I remember. It was a long time ago." Hiko Seijuro the thirteenth master of Hiten Mitsurugi shouldered his traveling pack and left the solitude of his mountain for the second time that year.

Kenshin lay in the room he had begun to call his own about one year ago. He was almost completely healed from his fight with Enishi, but his Jinchuu still left pain etched on Kenshin's soul that no amount of time might heal. Physical scars he could deal with, heavens knew that he had enough of them. The scars were like a shroud covering and reminding him of darker times. A past that he had left behind and yet a past that would follow him to the end of his own life. A life that would be forever spent finding ways to repent for the lives that he himself had ended. Almost every day since the end of the Bakamatsu no Doran was a penance for the slaughter in his past. Ten long years that somehow still lived in the shadow of six. He was tired, weary beyond his twenty-seven years, when he had stumbled into the streets of Tokyo.

Then, somehow in the twilight almost one year ago he had walked around the corner of a darkened deserted alley to stand in the warmth of the sun. Kamiya, Kaoru had challenged him in the street. Well she didn't exactly challenge me, but certainly she challenged who she thought was "Battousai". She had no idea how right she actually was.Gohei had been killing men and women on the streets of Tokyo in cold blood. Using his own violent past to shed more unnecessary blood. Why were the crazy ones always first in line to claim to be him? But somehow this decidedly awful situation had led to the odd meeting between himself and Kaoru, something that he was thankful for. When he'd saved her he could only think of how strange it was to see such a stunning, and as he'd quickly learned, opinionated young woman dressed as a man and attacking the obviously larger stronger Gohei with her wooden sword.

When Kenshin first came to the Kamiya dojo he had decided that his next destination would be somewhere far away; Okinawa perhaps. Somewhere as far away from this girl as possible so that he could remain a wanderer. Kaoru was a ball of energy that stirred a certain longing in his heart; the rundown dojo could be the home he'd been denied so long. To find family, friends, and all of the warmth of home after so long seemed like an impossible dream. Turning his back on the beautiful young kendoist would have been hard, but not impossible in the beginning. He, Hitokiri Battousai, didn't deserve such light outshining his darkness. Just as he was going to actually follow his instincts and leave the dojo her loneliness bared itself to him completely. "I don't want the hitokiri to stay I want the rurouni..." Kaoru spoke aloud. It wasn't only her voice that spoke. Her heart had spoken again, plain as day; "Don't go, you may be my last hope," and he found that he couldn't say no. There was nothing left of his resolve, and her smile sealed his fate. From that day forward he wanted to be someone who made her smile. Everything Kaoru did was awash in laughter and understanding. Everyone she touched seemed to hold on for dear life. How could someone have so much joy and still be so lonely? When the loneliness and sorrow flashed in her eyes it was almost unbearable for Kenshin to see. It had also been the first time she'd hauled off and punched him. He shook his head and laughed in the moonlight. It wasn't that he couldn't avoid her outbursts and rages. It was just funny, mostly because she knew for certain who he was and still didn't hold herself back from him. "You are just Kenshin to me." she had said once, and it was in there in her heart, for all to see.

He had ended his wandering that day, and he wouldn't wander again until the cherry blossoms fell from the trees. Each day had brought new joy, and it made Kenshin wonder at how long he'd been untouched by such a strong emotion. Soon after the day he joined Kaoru at the dojo Yahiko walked into their lives. He became Kaoru's only student, someone to teach in the way of her budo since Gohei had driven away her remaining students. However Yahiko also ended up in the role of a caring if not slightly annoying little brother. It was another reminder to Kenshin what home and family were like. Yahiko somehow maintained his childish innocence despite his desire to be strong, and pride was his strongest attribute. Kenshin realized that Yahiko had been uncharacteristically silent lately and he wondered if he should just stop being such a coward and ask him what was wrong. He didn't know much about people and their emotions, but Yahiko was not what you would call a "melancholic" individual. It was easy to guess that there was something wrong. It had been this way since the incident at Enishi's island, and Kenshin himself still owed much to Yahiko for helping him. In the time after Gohei, Kaoru's student breathed life into the run down dojo and Kenshin had watched as her loneliness began to ebb away. He didn't want things to break down now that they'd found a measure of peace. Back then Kenshin's heart had started to lose its desire to wander and it was due in part to the young man that had so much desire, it helped to put his own life into perspective. His penance was always on his mind, but he had only been in the Kamiya compound a month before the need to protect was projecting itself, no matter how he tried to deny it, ever more on a certain long-haired kendo instructor.

Sanosuke had been the next to arrive into their lives. The relationship changing from warrior's respect, to contracted enemies, and at last to friends. Sano was full of pain and regret and not a little anger. His anger was what drove him though. Their first fight had been spectacular to say the least. Kenshin would go on to fight Sano not once but twice, both times in the name of the Sekiho-tai. He wondered sometimes if either Sano or himself would ever truly let go of their past. He closed his eyes and he could feel Sano clutched against him, unconscious. In that moment he knew that he had found someone he could call brother if only in his mind. Someone that would forgive him no matter what had happened between them. Because if he could beat the street fighter bloody and still have his friendship then nothing could separate them. Sano was full of pride and fiercely protective of his new family. It was as if the three had all been fated to find one another, to find a second chance at life in this new era in the Kamiya dojo.

One after another people walked into their lives: Megumi, Tae, Tsubame, Jineh, Raijuta, Aoshi, and the Oniwabanshu to name but a few of his new acquaintances. Some of the people they met along the way were good and some were not. Most of them had come seeking Kenshin specifically and each with their own agenda. Yamagata had searched for him in good faith, and Jineh had simply been sick in the head, it was Saitoh who had come to enlist the help of the long dead hitokiri. Kenshin thought he had left and buried the Battousai ten years before. Yet he could not seem to deny that part of him, and Batousai had stepped up to the challenge with what could only be described as killing zeal. Even now Kenshin found himself very uncomfortable with the picture that he must have painted that night. They must have been shocked, maybe even frightened of what he had become. But if his new family had any lingering doubts they never voiced them. They were protective and stood beside him stubbornly in the face of the Meji government. They wouldn't give him up. That's why he loved them, and that is why he had decided to leave. It had nearly killed his spirit to do so. But, Shishio had to be stopped. It might have cost him his life...moreover his happiness. His decision was made for him when Soujiro assassinated Okubo.

Kenshin had, in the beginning, thought about leaving a note to say goodbye. Anything to spare himself the additional pain of seeing Kaoru cry. But no, he had to endure it because he deserved to take her torment with him. He had caused her pain and he would have to live with her feelings. He had hoped it would be easier simply because he would see her anger, sadness, and feelings of betrayal. Feelings that would remind him that he could only bring tragedy to others. Beside that...He had to see her one last time. If he had died fighting this new threat to Japan he wanted her image burned into his soul. However it wasn't her righteous indignation that Kenshin had been keenly aware of that night. There among the fireflies she had begged him not to go. "Kenshin is Kenshin." There was only the loneliness there in the night alongside him. Just the loneliness that asked "Why? I thought that we were happy together..." He had planned to say thank you and leave. One foot placed firmly in front of the other on the long cold road, but his body all but betrayed him. He looked into her blue eyes and gathered her indecently into his embrace. Before he could stop himself his arms were around her, holding her as close as he dared. Not a sisterly hug, an embrace set-aside for lovers. He'd let his eyes fall closed and allowed himself to simply feel. Feel the moment, and to speculate on the "what might have been". This was the moment that he grafted to his soul. Warm...She had been so warm. It was as if she were made for him. Each curve was fit to him perfectly. Here alone in his room if he closed his eyes he could still feel her there, and he couldn't help the small shudder that went through him. Kaoru smelled like the warm sweet spring air. Tomoe had been the sensual scent of white plum...Kaoru was the untamable spring, and it was so like her. That was the moment he took with him even to today. Thinking back to that moment, if he hadn't let go right at the moment he did, he would never have found the strength again. Thinking back he wondered at how he had done it. But he had let go, each step bringing him inexorably further away from her. He'd heard the rustle of cloth and his own name whispered through tears. "Kyoto was no place for my family" he said aloud as if the moment were upon him once more. That was what I said to myself, over and over in my head like a sutra that night.Batousai had been summoned up from out of the shadows. His dark past was catching up once again, and he couldn't let another innocent person die for him. Never again.

His journey to Kyoto had brought him once again into the presence of the Oniwabanshu. Kenshin met Misao on the road to Kyoto and became, against his better judgement, fast friends with the over kinetic young woman. The Oniwabanshu in Kyoto were rebuilding their lives in the new era. Kenshin chuckled to himself as he thought about the irony of his odd relationship with the ninja clan. They were, he hoped, forever on the same side. It was at this moment that Kenshin realized that the Oniwabanshu had been there for almost every major turning point in his life so far. Kenshin flinched as he thought of the assasin sent to kill him the night he'd taken Tomoe to the inn. He wondered what his name might have been, and what he had been to the people that he considered his friends now. Maybe he would write to Okina tomorrow and ask. How did one ask something like that in a letter and be delicate? Especially considering he'd cut the man literally in half...Maybe he would simply have to wait it out and ask when they were together. Misao and what was left of the once prominent ninja protectors of edo castle lived together in Kyoto and more specifically the Aoiya. Kenshin had asked Okina to find his master Hiko and they had also endeavored to find Shaku. He had snapped his reverse blade sword against Soujiro the Tenken and needed to repair it. Shaku was the maker of his Sakabatou. Unfortunately the elder had passed away and left his son to take over the business. But Shaku would not condone fighting and had refused to fix the sword. It was just after their meeting that Shaku's son Iori was captured by Cho the sword collector. Kenshin had left the Aoiya immediately to fight despite his complete lack of a sword when he'd been told the little boy's fate. Jiya, Misao and Shaku had followed him up to the shrine that Cho had taken the young hostage. Shaku finally gave him the last sword of his father after he'd seen Kenshin fighting so hard and, risking his life to save his son Iori. The sword had been a sakabatou...but he'd had no way of knowing it then. He had nearly lost himself to Batousai once again in his rage against Cho the sword collector. He closed his eyes and tried to remember the exact feelings he'd had the moment Cho had fallen beneath his sword. They were mixed if the truth were to be told. "He deserved it!" the battousai in his mind had screamed. The rurouni fell to his knees and cried out "WHY?". And the part that was inexorably Kenshin, and just Kenshin said, "You...will always make the bloody rain fall." He felt a shiver as he heard himself repeat the line that had changed his life. He looked up at the moon and said it aloud. "You make the bloody rain fall." He shook in the darkness. Kaoru would have a fit if she knew he were doing this to himself, so he let his thoughts go beyond the moment with Cho.

It was after this, his third slip in his losing battle against becoming Battousai once more, that the Oniwabanshu information network brought him news of his shisho. Hiko Sejirou, Master of Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu, the dragon himself, waiting atop a mountain for the world to pass him by. Little did he know, at the very moment he left for Hiko's cabin another ragtag pair of fighters had come into town. He'd found himself only slightly shocked that during one of his shishou's more prolific rants about his inadequacies as a student Misao, Yahiko, and Kaoru herself had burst in to argue his side. Actually Kaoru hadn't said a thing. Once again Kenshin's feelings warred within him. How dare she follow him here to this place of danger and death! Why was she here? Shishio was easily killing off guarded statesmen and she, a mere kenjutsu instructor, would hardly be an obstacle if a seasoned hitokiri with an army of crazed revolutionaries decided to kill her. And yet her closeness had been a thing of wonder to him. He wanted very much to hold her close and kiss her silly, or to hold her close and slap her silly so he opted for neither and simply went to the well. "Are you angry that I am here?" She had asked. "Half," He had responded back. It was the best he could have done for her at that moment. I imagine that Kaoru was just as confused as I was. Well considering she did travel from Tokyo to Kyoto I can imagine that she might not be quite as confused as I am...Kenshin smiled at that thought. Perhaps there might be room for such a stained man in someone's heart after all. I owe all three of them so much...If they hadn't arrived I believe that Shisho wouldn't have taught me at all. Their devotion to me is what earned the ougi...both from Shisho and for myself. Because it is for all of them that I wish to live the most. I don't fear death...But I don't want to die. I want to live so that I can see them. I want to see the kind of man that Yahiko will become. I want to see the fine doctor Megumi-sensei will be. I want to see Sano become a man independent of the memories his dark childhood brought him. I want to see Kaoru...Kenshin smiled. I just want to see Kaoru.

The fight with Shishio and his men was long and hard. It was as if he had put out a call for the strongest and most unhinged men in Japan. Somehow he fought his way through. Each opponent stronger and more misguided than the last. Sanosuke was at his side through it all proving that he was one of the truest friends that Kenshin had ever made. Saitoh was also there beside him to preserve the peace, to destroy evil instantly, as was his lot. Bitterest of rivals brought together in the name of Japan and her people. Fitting for the Meji. He somehow defeated Soujiro and saved Aoshi's soul as best he could from taking a final step in the wrong direction. He had promised Misao that he would bring Aoshi back to the Aoiya. Kenshin had seen for himself the recent changes in the man Aoshi was becoming. His soul was finding peace. Kenshin also knew how much Shinomori had meant to Misao. He didn't want Misao to lose one of her most important people. Kenshin wondered how they were doing. Misao had been so happy before they had left the dojo just recently. He hoped that Aoshi could one day plainly see the smiles that were meant only for him. It might help him on his new journey to realize that the comrades of old stood beside him when she smiled.

Kenshin had nearly failed to win against Shishio in the end, but Kaoru, or her image, had called to him. He found that after their talk on the roof of the Aoiya he couldn't fail her. He had said that he would go back to Tokyo. Kenshin smiled broadly. Perhaps I should have specified the condition I would return in. It seemed the kami helped me to make my promise come true. Maybe I should have said. "I promise to come back, and without even a scratch on me..."Unfortunately he had gotten a little more than a scratch. When the fight was finally over Kenshin had barely won, and he had fallen instatly into a deep dreamless sleep. It would be a while before he woke. Even longer before he healed. A month had passed before they returned home once more. Return home they did though, and it felt wonderful. Home, home, home. No matter how many times he heard it, it would never get old. He hadn't had a true home since he'd left Hiko so long ago. Sixteen years was a long time to be displaced. When he looked at Kaoru's smile he knew that he'd truly found a place his heart could call home. "Welcome home, Kenshin." Kaoru had extended her hand to him in offering a home. He couldn't help but take her hand. "I'm home." And a true smile came to his lips for the first time since he'd left his family behind.

"I would have been willing to stop my journeys right then." The words were barely from his lips before a frown drew over them, and he curled into the covering that lay over himself and his futon to stave away the cold that gripped his heart. Enishi. An angry boy turned desperate and bitter man. He was full of hate and rage for what and who Kenshin had once been. Someone began to attack people that Kenshin cared for, and when he met the culprit at last Kenshin knew that it was time to tell the true story of his past. He had come back from his first meeting with Enishi dripping blood. He had also completely blown Kaoru off. He cringed slightly now that he thought about it. But the story was going to be a leap of faith on his part, and he had needed to summon a lot of courage. It was his cowardice that had made him ignore her like that. When he began his story it was only natural that he begin with the moment that he had left Hiko and continued telling his story until the last fight of the Bakamatsu. He told them about Enishi. He told them about Tomoe. "Tomoe." Kenshin whispered her name as he turned down his blanket and slid from the covering to slide open the shoji and look at the stars. "I wonder if we could have even been truly happy...I would've liked to try. Maybe you could have saved Enishi from himself. He did truly love you." Kenshin whispered to the stars.

Her heart had changed so much in their short time together. The winter that year had been so cold and bitter. Yet somehow it was as if a sort of spring had entered Tomoe's heart. She had brought him meaning when life had slowly all but taken his. They had only consummated their marriage one time, as fate would have it right before her death. But for that night their souls had joined and Tomoe had seemed so young, innocent, and hopeful. He wished he had known what she was hiding...They could have fought together. One day perhaps she could have forgiven him for all of his sins, or simply known that he hadn't killed Akira, her fiancee, for his own pleasure. When Kenshin had finished the story his friends were in shock. It was quiet in the dojo for some time after his yarn had come to a suitable end. Kenshin searched the eyes of his friends for hatred...there was none. Only the unwavering belief that he was who he was, and there was nothing anyone could say that could make him less worthy of the trust they had built. He searched Kaoru's face for repugnance but found only sadness, perhaps pity, and something he couldn't name. He only prayed they wouldn't reject him, and the Kenshingumi, it seemed, would never let him down.

Enishi had planed his "earthly justice" well. Each person he touched was hurt in some way or another. Yet right before Enishi was expected to come to the dojo Kaoru had asked him to stay with her. His heart warmed at the memory. I wanted nothing more.Kenshin hung his head and returned to his musings. He found her "body" in the dojo and his mind had whirled. It wasn't possible. The sweet wonderful kinetic girl that he'd promised to stay with...Had just left him. The cross-scar etched into her cheek bled as her eyes stared gaping and surprised at the world. To Kenshin it was an accusation. I wasn't fast would have killed her. In that I can never fail her again.He thought solemnly. Her body had been particularly horrifying. He was glad that Yahiko hadn't seen it. The body was tacked onto the dojo wall with Enishi's wattou straight through Kaoru's no longer beating heart. Kenshin's horror finally settled itself into grief. He would die with her. He had to die, there was nothing else on this earth to do. His soul wanted to give chase as his feet took him to Rakuninmura. He flinched at the memory. He had left so many people behind in that moment of selfishness, but it hadn't mattered at the time. Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu had failed him again. It was useless to save the ones he loved. When he finally had been brought out of the all consuming depression it was the combination of Tsubame's words and Tomoe's smile.

He'd starved himself to the point of hallucination. It was the first thing he'd been aware of...Truly aware, since Kaoru's death. No she wasn't dead. If someone had told him that the spirit of his dead wife would come to him to tell him that he hadn't failed to protect Kaoru he would've thought they were insane. He grinned "Then again I think I was out of my mind....But thank you anyway Tomoe." Kenshin spoke aloud to the heavens.

He had thrown off the chains of his depression...both literal and figurative, saved Yahiko, and then went on to get some sleep. For about a week he had slept and regained a piece of his strength. When he awoke once more he left with the small army they had amassed for the rescue. He'd almost been relieved to see Saitoh alive...almost. Well at least for Tokio's sake, whoever the woman might be. They had found themselves on an island. Aoshi, Sano, Saitoh, and Yahiko each faced an opponent while Kenshin waited for Enishi to arrive. Misao and Megumi waited by the boat. When Enishi appeared alone Kenshin's heart had sunk, but she came crashing through the brush a moment later, complaining in her usual way, and Kenshin was truly happy for the first time. Enishi told Kaoru that she would be killed if she stepped beyond the tree line and Kenshin had told her to wait where she was and he would come for her.

The battle seemed to go on forever, and Kenshin knew that Enishi would not be defeated easily. In the end however it may have been Tomoe's memory that ended the bloody fight. Scores of wounds were bleeding heavily, old wounds not properly treated reopened, new wounds opened as Enishi swung his Wattou. Enishi refused to quit. That was of course when things went from bad to worse. One of Enishi's thugs pulled out a gun. Kenshin thought that history was going to repeat itself. He felt the first bullet bury itself in his shoulder, the pain exploded through his arm and he fought the cry that was trying to rip itself from his throat. Kaoru screamed...Ran...And somehow she put herself between the gun and himself. Her arms were stretched out in front of him and he knew that he would never be able to save her.

Kenshin closed his eyes and ran his hands through his hair. He still couldn't believe what had happened next. Enishi stopped the man from hurting Kaoru. It made him wonder if he could have ever gone through with his threat from the beginning of the fight. Could he have killed Kaoru? Or was it just that she had been willing to throw herself in front of the gun in the same way that Tomoe had thrown herself in front of Kenshin? He neither wanted to think about it, nor did he really want to know. Either way the irony was not lost on him. The same situation had played itself out, but this time Enishi didn't have to just stand by and watch. He could stop it, and he did.

The fight did eventually end. Kenshin had explained that Tomoe had given her smile to him, that he had finally made peace with his murdered wife. She wanted Kenshin's happiness, just as she would have wanted Enishi to be happy. At first it made Enishi very angry...but in the end Kenshin thought that he might have just begun to understand...Or maybe it was the ougi...Who knew. But soon after the conflict was over the fight went completely out of Kenshin himself. He waited for the ground to come up to meet him. "Oro" was all he'd been able to manage when Kaoru's strong arms caught him. The world dissolved into a haze that Kenshin even now didn't mind. He found more and more that he wanted to find the right way to tell Kaoru everything he was feeling. Why he hadn't done so yet weighed heavily in his mind. But it wasn't as if the moments kept presenting themselves. Kenshin wasn't good at personal relationships anyway, the very idea of attempting to approach Kaoru with his feelings was hard enough. The idea of approaching Kaoru with his feelings in front of her student...Impossible.

Everything had gone quickly after that. Megumi returned to Aizu to pursue her future. Both to find her family, who sadly Kenshin believed to have passed from the world, and become a doctor in the area of her birth. Kenshin wondered at how calmly Sanosuke said goodbye. He had always been, at least in his own mind, quite dense when it came to people and their relationships. But Kenshin would have to have been blind, deaf, and dumb not to notice the affinity that the streetfighter had for the lady doctor. Kenshin actually had a lot of questions for Sano about now. Why can't he follow me around when I feel like I need him...Then again it might just be that it's the first time in a year that he hasn't in fact been around.Kenshin missed the streetfighter, because he had left the day after Megumi. Apparently when not being closely observed Sano goes directly to do the stupidest things he possibly can to anger the Meji government. This time it had something to do with his father. I didn't even know he had a father around until now.Kenshin shook his head in wonder. I hope it was worth it Sano. The rice doesn't run out as quickly, but we still miss you here at the dojo. I wonder if he will truly go to see the world.Kenshin for his part knew that they would all see Sano again. It was Sano's way.

On a lighter note Saitoh crawled away to wherever it was that he crawled. Ignoring their final duel. Kenshin buried his anger that night. There was nothing else he could rationalize doing. He would never be Saitoh's friend, he would always be his rival. But there was nothing he could imagine worse than a government without someone there to pick away the parasites. And like him or not Saitoh was very loyal to Aku, Soku, Zan. Besides that, he had gone with them to rescue Kaoru. Despite his argument that he had gone to wrap up his case against Enishi, the arms dealer who had sold the ship to Shishio; Kenshin had a suspicion that it was in fact just a way to keep his distance from his rival and still help Kaoru. Maybe one day he would fight Saitoh again but life had allowed him this little peace, and so he took it without too many questions.

Aoshi and Misao had left on the road for Kyoto. They were going to bring their departed friends home. Misao had almost begged Aoshi to stay at the Kamiya Dojo for a month until Aoshi alluded to their friends burried in the mountains. She had been ready for travel home to the Aoiya within the hour. They packed and left for Kyoto together. Kenshin wondered at the events of the past year...Winter was coming and with it the new year. He wondered at what could possibly happen to top this year's chaos and then decided peace and quiet would be the ultimate gift.

Despite the fact that Kenshin was currently (What Kaoru considered to be) a healing invalid who had been specifically warned away from all sword activities he decided to make a round of the grounds at the dojo. It was quiet. Yahiko had gone to bed early and so evening practice with Kaoru had been canceled. Yahiko was still acting strangely around Kaoru and himself. In truth he understood how the young man felt. It must be like being around two recently animated ghosts...He resolved himself to talk with Yahiko the next day. He had been too repressive for too long. Kenshin was so absorbed in his musings unfortunately that he didn't notice the form watching the stars in front of him until it was too late.

Kenshin was falling...he thought about his injured arm and tucked it immediately behind his back. Yes, this is going to hurthis mind said in monotone. Then he realized that he had tripped not over some random item in the yard but over a pair of feet. An unsuspecting body, not the ground was coming up to meet him! A body that had quickly in his mind identified itself as Kaoru shrieked.



Kenshin threw out his arms and legs to catch himself inches away from the obstacle/stargazer. He allowed himself a momentary pat on the back for his agility and then noticed the extremely close proximity with the object of his evening's musings. He would be lying if he didn't admit the burn on his cheeks. I wonder if it's as red as my hair?His head supplied a suitable diversion to his situation. It was his body however that reminded him of his position as the adrenaline rush gave out. His arm gave a solid and sickening twinge and gave way.


The left side of his body crashed down on Kaoru and the sentiment was dually noted. He rolled to the side cradling the angry limb wishing he could disappear. Out of the corner of his eye he could see where Kaoru was clutching her side and gasping for air. This was very embarrassing.

"Kenshin! Are you okay?!?" Kaoru wheezed as she began to crawl to his side.

"It's fine Kaoru-dono." Kenshin said as he attempted to seem like he didn't feel like his entire arm had just been cut off.

It wasn't exactly a lie. He was just fine. The limb would eventually heal...Not if he continued pulling stunts like that...But it would heal.

"Kenshin. Let me see it. That was the arm with the stiches wasn't it? I'm so sorry! I didn't think anyone would be out here and I ...Hey! Why are you up in the first place? You're supposed to be resting!"

The last part was faintly shouted and a voice that was decidedly from inside the house reached him and from the resultant slow burn of Kaoru's cheeks he guess she heard him quite clearly too...

"KEEP IT DOWN! I don't care what'cha do, just do it quietly! Some of us are trying to sleep..."

Kaoru was covering her face but he could see the blush where her fingers didn't touch. He could feel the heat in his own cheeks.

"Maa, maa Yahiko I'm sorry!" He said as he decided to take care of one embarrassment at a time

Kenshin looked over at a Kaoru that had obviously begun to steam at her student's lack of tact in an already embarrassing situation. He decided to speak before she got up and chased him with her ever-present bokken.

"Kaoru-dono I'm sorry to you as well. If I'd been paying any attention..."

She was looking at him, but also avoiding his eyes directly. And she was looking up though a black forest of bangs.

"It's okay Kenshin...I was being silly laying on the ground anyway. I'll just go."

She was pivoting away to go but his arm reached out and grabbed her wrist. Damn...He thought. His body seemed to be working all by itself again. She turned toward him and she starred at the place where their hands touched.

"No...Please it is I that should go. I have to check on the gate anyway...and..."

Their eyes met and the moment started to play itself in the slowest speed Kenshin had ever experienced. His body wasn't listening to Rurouni logic. No matter how he tried to stop himself, he just got back the message from his brain that this was "a good idea". Kenshin felt his arms go around the young woman despite pain still biting into his left arm. Which he realized rather distractedly was now pressed into Kaoru's lower back. His right hand had somehow tangled itself in a mass of soft ebony which he also noticed he'd pulled free sometime between distracted message number one: "This is a good idea", and equally distracted message number two: "My left hand is pulling her dangerously close." She looked like a painted goddess. The moon reflected off of her body and cast her skin a delicate white, while the light of a lantern from Kaoru's room reflected off her hair in a golden cascade. Her eyes fluttered closed and her moist lips parted ever so slightly. My god...This is happening...I'm going to kiss her...His thoughts were going faster than the moment and he wondered what Kaoru must be thinking. I hope she doesn't mind. I've wanted to do this for so long.He was mere inches from his goal. They deserved this. This was their happy ending. Her lips looked so sweet and her cheeks were rosy. Two inches...One inch.


The voice was unmistakable...

"Hiko-san!" Kaoru was disentangling herself from the shocked and slightly oro-fied student.

It was like some kind of nightmare. Like he was some kind of child sneaking off with his lover and caught by a severe parent. He wanted to pass out. He wanted to scream. Mostly he wanted the hesitation back...He really wanted to kiss her.

"I hope I didn't...interrupt anything." He was smiling like a devil. "I knocked for some time...I just decided to let myself in after it seemed no one would answer. I was slightly concerned that my stupid pupil had gotten himself into more trouble, it seems quite the opposite." He shot Kenshin a look that meant he'd never let him live it down. "Or maybe it was trouble...As I said I don't mean to intrude."

Kaoru had seemed to gain some sort of mortified, yet still polite, piece of mind. "Hiko-san, please rest yourself. I'll go make tea." She bowed lowly to the man befre her. Kenshin wondered at the formality until he noticed her quickly straighten the ever so slightly messy obi and retrieving her hair ribbon. "Pardon me." She had gathered her wits well Kenshin thought.

"Shishou...I thought you were going to stay on your mountain." Kenshin said in a manner that dripped with the disappointment he felt. His mind lolled at his newfound bad temper Did I just say that out loud?

Hiko decided his stupid pupil had changed not a whit. Although it seemed that he'd finally taken to going after the girl...Kamiya...Kaoru...Kenshin needed someone like her. She had fire. Perhaps it would breath life into the slightly dead fish his deshi had become. He remembered the boy being quite passionate about things that he believed in. Being a wanderer had taken a bit of his student. How long would she wait for Kenshin was the real question. His baka deshi was so named for a very good reason. He laughed at the picture of his student and the girl leaping apart like school children caught doing something bad. It meant they were perfect for each other, because it was quite obvious that neither of them would make the first move. The two idiots would court each other forever.

"Shisho...I thought you were going to stay on your mountain..." Kenshin wondered aloud. Speaking of his disrespectful pupil.

"It's just wonderful to see you too Kenshin. I see that you have gained nothing in the way of manners. I think I remember teaching them to you. But you weren't very smart to begin with, and all of that training to fight Shishio must have finally made you brain dead." He let the words spill out languidly. Bust his chops a littlehe thought with a smile.

"Shishou that's not what I meant and you know it." Kenshin was flustered.

"Good." Hiko's face fell. The reason for his visit slammed back into his heart and mind. Hitomi. Kenshin's intimate moment another ice-cold reminder of how alone he'd been without her. "Perhaps we can discuss a few things over tea. I certainly didn't come here to spy on your sex life. Are you joining us?" He looked over at the still slightly tired young man. He'd been the real reason for the intrusion. Hiko had walked in seen the two and was going to turn on his heel and give Kenshin a night alone when he saw the girl's student walk out. The kid was probably rousted by all of the knocking. (At least someone had been!) The poor boy was staring at them like they were a horrible train wreck. He was sputtering even now at being spoken to, especially since Hiko wasn't about to accept anything less than an actual response. He decided to embarrass them both, since Kenshin and the boy looked like landed fish. "I figure we're all pretty parched after watching that scene huh?" The boy turned three shades of red nodded rigorously and ran for the kitchen. Kenshin although blushing profusely was used to his master's sharp tongue and could respond.

"Shishou?" Kenshin seemed confused, an expected turn of events for his master.

"I can't help it if you and the girl were putting on a floor show. I was just trying to monitor the ages of the spectators. He seemed like he had been turned to stone." Kenshin turned the color of his hair and looked down at the ground.

"Thank you shishou. inside."

Hiko threw up his hand and stopped Kenshin from stepping forward. "I met up with Shinomori and the weasel-girl on the way here. They were on their way home with a bag full of heads. That girl is strange Kenshin, however did you attach yourself to her?" Hiko rolled his eyes and continued. "On second thought don't tell me, I know you." Kenshin looked indignant. Good, it was better to ask him personal questions when he was off guard. If he was flustered he usually told the truth before he had time to come up with anything. "She was quite cheerful and I admit that it made me nervous, mostly because of the sack of heads I think. Either way they related a most interesting story to me. I will admit that Shinomori's account was less, what's the word I'm looking for? Exuberant." Hiko searched his student's eyes with his own knowing ones. "How are you?" Kenshin looked shocked at the change of conversation, and at his master's level of concern, but Hiko didn't want to give him time to back down so he kept pushing the conversation. "I know the whole story, so you might as well just say it."

"I'm healing well. Megumi-sensei gave me a full check-up before she left, and she says that beside some soreness and the fact that I have to take it easy I'll be well in no time..." Kenshin was leaving something about his health out. Hiko could always tell when Kenshin was lying because he always got that tiny shrug in his shoulder when he left something out or lied.

"Thank you for the medical report, but that isn't what I meant." Minus the biting remark Hiko felt that the statement had been heartfelt.

"I know master...I just still don't know myself. To answer one way or another would be to lie." Kenshin spoke in earnest and Hiko accepted the answer he gave...for now. "We will speak of this later Kenshin."

Sometime later and over tea the Kamiya girl seemed to regain her usual wit and he found himself bantering easily with Kenshin's...well...whatever she was to him. "I often find myself wondering the same thing Kamiya-san."

"Perhaps if you stuck to the muscles you know work..." It was an excellent jibe. She was smiling and he couldn't help but flirt a bit, she was an adorable creature. She'd been quietly inserting herself into the conversation for the last two hours and more flamboyantly besides. Hiko knew exactly what Kenshin saw in this girl. It was too bad that he was going to embarrass her now by twisting her own words back on her.

"I assure you my lady, everything is in working order." Hiko flashed the flustered Kaoru his best smile.

Okay so that last remark was a bit over the top. Kenshin glared at him. "Mine! Keep off!" He might as well have said it out loud for the way his body language dripped with raw animal protection toward Kaoru. His ki was very angry, and tired, and awfully frustrated. Oh well...He thought.

"I imagine that I should tell you why I've come. I can't just invade your interesting lives and not tell you why." If he could get himself through this his ego would be intact. "There was a woman..." Hiko got out four words before his idiot student interrupted him.

"Hitomi-sensei?" Kenshin's eyes stared into his own for what seemed like forever.

"Yes! Don't interrupt me!" Hiko glared down at the staring purple orbs. "I am attending her burial." The mood shifted immediately, and he found himself wondering how he could deviate the conversation back to a machismo contest with his obviously lacking student. "I can find somewhere else to lodge if it's beyond your means Kamiya-san." He needed to be polite and concentration on that one feat was keeping the other feelings carefully locked away.

"No!" Kamiya and Kenshin blurted out at the same time. Hiko wondered at the pair. Frighteningly meant for each other.

"I'll show you to a room shishou...If that's all right with Kaoru-dono?" Kenshin looked at her questioningly.

"Of course Kenshin! I'll get some blankets..." She was already out the door.

"Thank you for your hospitality." Hiko murmured. "Where did the boy go?" He looked around for Yahiko in a vain attempt to find him.

"Ah, yes Yahiko. He left an hour ago. I imagine you didn't notice because you were too busy blatantly flirting with Kaoru-dono." The last words were almost forced through a polite smile.

"Sorry...I can't help it if I'm irresistible." Hiko let the arrogance in his personality settle around himself like the mantle. At least Kenshin wasn't asking difficult questions.

"Are you going to be okay? How did it happen? When?" Kenshin always knew just the right time to ask all the wrong questions.

"I believe we'll talk later. The story is long, involved, and tiring." Hiko prayed that Kenshin would just listen to him and let it go for once.

"Of course Shishou...whenever you desire to talk I will be here."

With that a shoji popped open to a sparsely decorated room and Kenshin left him there in peace. It wasn't too long before Kamiya came with the blankets. He bowed his thanks for the blankets and the hospitality and she turned in for the night.

"By the way Baka-deshi..." He knew that Kenshin was just waiting on the other side of the outside shogi doors. "It takes two people to flirt blatantly." Hiko chuckled to himself as Kenshin's ki flared up once again.

Hey there. I got chapter one of "The Long Road Home" finished some time ago. I have worked on it very little since. But I am hoping to finish this "Longfic" in the best way I can. I hope that everyone understands. This is a repost since I can no longer access my old account. I did everything the people asked but it just hasn't worked. They suggested a new name. I took it. Well to be honest it's the same name, and they assure me it's the same account. But it isn't. Oh well.
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