Author's Notes: ::smiles:: ::hugs reviewers:: :: bounces away:: SINCE THIS IS THE LAST CHAPTER for the story ::sniff:: I'm going to do EVERYTHING IN MY POWER to make it THE BEST CHAPTER EVER. I will, however, post ONE MORE page of review responses ONE WEEK after posting this chapter.. Here we.. Go... OH AND MY MOMMY FOUND MY DISK!!!! And one more thing.. Read the last authors notes at the end..

~Coming of the Dawn~

***Chapter 30- Coming of the Dawn***

A rumble awoke Kaoru. She slowly opened her eyes, taking in the forest like scent that surrounded her an enveloped her in its embrace. Her vision was still fuzzy due to the light changes and the grogginess her sleep left her to deal with, refusing to fully surrender to the light and claim her body as fully awake. She leaned more against what she was burying her face into, pulling her covering over her shoulders slightly to ward off the annoy chill that filled the room.

The rumble wouldn't leave so she finally forced her eyes to focus to her surrounding, allowing her to decipher where she was. She found herself in a private booth on a train. Her thoughts clouded and she took a hold of the seat, pulling herself forward into the chill of the unheated air as the blanket fell off of her shoulders, revealing her yukata to all inhabitants of the room.

Kaoru was sitting on the seat; her legs lay stretched out in front of her on the hard chair, curving slightly inward. She then noticed that her blanket, indeed, was not a blanket at all. She pulled against the rough, warm cloth, discovering it to be a black trench coat. She spun her head around.

Then she smiled lightly, her eyes showing her glee.

There was Kenshin, sitting up against the wall, deep in his own sleep. She had been sleeping against him, although she remembered falling asleep sitting up that night. He had apparently taken off his coat to keep her warm, then moved so she could be more comfortable than having to sleep against the hard wooden back of the unforboding seats.

Placing a hand on the seat to balance herself, Kaoru leaned over him and looked at his face closely. Her eyes traced the contours of his jaw line, cheekbones, and the way his hair shielded most of his face with a crimson flood of color. Slowly she drew nearer, bringing one hand up to move his hair away.

In the next instant, someone had taken a hold of her wrist, pushing her back with an unthinkable and unheard of force in their apparent rage. She landed roughly against the wood of the seat, a loud thud resounding through the closed off wall.

Kenshin blinked when he realized it had been Kaoru. He thanked Kami his sword was too far for him to reach at the moment. Her eyes conveyed fear and his confusion as they bore into each other.

"I'm sorry. Kaoru I. don't wake me up like that." He warned her. "I'm always on alert.if I had my sword within range you would've been dead."

Kaoru breathed, closed her eyes and then nodded. She sighed a few times to get her heart rate back down to normal. "Is that why Tomoe died?"

Kenshin looked at her, his eyes saying he didn't want her to ask such a question. "No. she did wake me up and almost died once because of it, but no, that wasn't why she died..... I don't really wish to speak of the way she died."

He backed away and leaned back against the wall he had been before being so abruptly startled. Kaoru looked at him as she leaned against the opposite wall, handing him his trench coat. He stared at it like it was a foreign object.

"You're going to catch a cold. It's the middle of winter." Kaoru told him.

Kenshin looked at her and took the trench coat. Yes, today was the middle of winter and a day he wished not to remember. He pushed those thoughts aside. He had Kaoru now and she was safe.. He would never make the same mistake again.

"Are you okay?" Kaoru asked him, her worry evident.

Kenshin glanced up at her, now noticing that he had been silent for a long while and hadn't even said good morning yet.

"I'm fine Kaoru, do not fret for me." He stated, his eyes a violet that portrayed his sadness.

"No your not."

"I'll be fine."

"Tell me what's wrong Kenshin. It's going to eat you alive if you don't." Kaoru warned him. "Don't make me beat it out of you."

Kenshin glared at her suddenly. "I wish to keep these thoughts to myself, Kaoru."

She hung her head. This was defiantly not a good morning. "Yes Kenshin."

He mentally slapped himself. Now he had upset Kaoru AND scared her to death. Finally deciding the best way to confront such a matter was to fall silent, he buried himself in past memories and allowed himself an inner mourning.

************** **************

The train came to a jolting halt about 4 hours later. Kenshin and Kaoru did not speak to each other the entire time, and the silence was a torture for both of them as it continued when they stepped off the train. Since they had come back so early, no one was there to meet them, and they walked to rest of the way to the Inn in the tense silence they had placed about themselves. Kaoru was too worried to even sneak a glance at Kenshin and see if he was okay anymore.

She began to ignore the pain in her thigh as they walked the trail. It hurt something terrible, but she wasn't going to break the silence out of fear of what would happen and want for him to say something first. She slowly gained a limp but hid it as well as she could as they came into the woods, farther away from the town of Kyoto but still in the area. The outskirts were always wooded. She noted that she wasn't exactly looking forward to going back to the Inn as she had thought she would be.

"You must rest Kaoru." Kenshin's voice rang to her.

Kaoru was jolted out of her thoughts.

"Why?" she asked.

Kenshin looked at her. "Your bandages are bleeding through and I want you to rewrap your wound."

Kaoru looked down at her thigh, and sure enough, red had stained her blue kimono a dark shade of purple as the blood seeped from her bandages. She sighed and sat down in the cold, clutching herself and shivering as she fought to get the bandages off.

Kenshin stood behind the tree she was leaning against, facing the opposite direction and holding his katana, still sheathed, tightly against his chest. His skin stung as small gusts of wind blew against his face, his cross- shaped scar burning. He tentatively touched it, fearing it was bleeding like it always seemed to do on this day. To his dismay and relief, the scar was only that--- a scar. No longer did it bleed.

"Mou!" Kaoru cried. "Stupid baka bandage.."

Kenshin fought with himself over turning around and helping her. The wound was on her thigh, so he didn't want her to think him a hentai. He grinned. That title was defiantly no longer needed, but she could still call him that if she wanted to. (A/N: HELLO BATTOUSAI YOU FREAKIN' ALREADY POUNCED HER!!!). Kenshin listened a little longer, Kaoru's cries of pain and frustrations coming to him.

"Do you need help, Kaoru?" he asked her.

Kaoru's eyes perked up from her messy work and she looked ahead. "I.uh. yes but I think I can manage Kenshin."

Battousai pride took over. "It's not like I haven't seen it, koishii. if you need help I'll be glad to help."

Kaoru blushed, thanking Kami-sama that he was behind the tree and couldn't see her face right now. "It's not that I don't want your help.. It's just that I don't know what you'll do to me."

Kenshin understood what she meant. "Maybe if we inside, not out here in the cold. ALTHOUGH that would make us a bit warmer, that it would." He grinned with his last statement, thinking himself quite clever.

Kaoru blushed a deep crimson as she finished mending her wound and rewrapping the bandages. "I'm done now so it doesn't matter."

She stood up slowly and leaned on the tree, adjusting to the tightness of her newly applied bandages. Kenshin rounded the tree and watched her until she started limping away, her bloody bandages laying on the ground and blood seeping into the pure white snow around where she was sitting.

Memories flooded his mind on the accidental assassination of his wife. The snow, the blood, the woods....all of it. Kenshin shook his head and followed after Kaoru at a quicker pace. Then he pushed the memories back. Yes, he still loved Tomoe (A/N:I know some of you don't like me mentioning her, but she was a part of Kenshin's life and we all have to accept that. She's really not that bad.. I watch the way she died over the weekend and I cried because it was so sad. But I'm still 100% Kenshin/Kaoru, but I hold no grudges against Tomoe.). He loved her with a passion he decided could never be ignited the same again. And this was what haunted him today, on the anniversary of her unneeded death.

But Kaoru. she held something that made him love her just as much, if not more than he had Tomoe. His head drooped. If everything went like the rest of his life had, he would lose her soon, also. It had started with his family. Then the band of sisters he had met while being enslaved. Next, he left his sensei, of whom had yet to complete his training in the Hiten Mistrugui Ryu. (A/N: I know Kenshin learned the Ku-Zu-Ryu-Sen when he learned the succession technique but I like that attack so he already knows it.. That's why he's used it already in the story). Slowly he lost his old, innocent self. Then he killed Tomoe.

He prayed it didn't end the same way again. In his mind, Kaoru was and would always be his last chance at salvation that he desperately didn't deserve. But yet he followed her... knowing the consequences that had already been forced upon her because of their close relationship. Kenshin went through his immediate enemies in his mind, and decided most of the big ones were through.

Except for maybe Saitou. But Saitou would never be through.

"Kenshin?" came the soft voice.

Burst from his intense inner thoughts, the rurouni appeared and smiled at Kaoru. "Yes Kaoru?"

Kaoru raised an eyebrow but smiled all the same. "Are you alright?"

Kenshin's smile faded. She had tried that tactic on the train. He shook his head. "I'll be fine Kaoru. Please do not push this."

Kaoru stopped, pulling a few strands of hair behind her ear in the process. "She died today, didn't she?"

Kenshin looked at Kaoru. "I. hai.."

Looking at the snow as the flakes feel, Kenshin's scar again began to bleed. Like every other time. The blood hit the snow. But this time it never made it. A pair of arms wrapped around him and Kenshin found himself in Kaoru's arms. He held her close, not knowing what else to do.

"Mourn for her. Don't forget her. But don't let her ghost haunt you any longer. That is the secret behind that scar." She told him. "I figured it out when I received mine. Tomoe gave you one slash, didn't she?"

Kenshin could only nod.

"She did that out of love, as I'm sure she told you."

Kenshin made no response.

"She wanted you to move on but to remember her, and that was her way of being sure she imprinted herself in your life forever. I think she never blamed you. I may not know the details of what happened, but I think that my inference is right." Kaoru told him moving away and wiping the blood from his cheek. "So move on, Kenshin, and make her spirit a happy one."

Then it dawned on Kenshin. Kaoru was right, even if she knew little to nothing of how Tomoe had died. She was right. Normally he would have gone into a tirade and attacked her with words over mentioning Tomoe in the first place, or even thinking she could know what she was like. That was just the protective Battousai's reaction. But now, he had no reason to. He would find his salvation..... and he would find it in her.

*********** ***********

Finally they came upon the Inn, where everything was bustling about in a hurried manner that was not uncommon to the place. Kenshin lead Kaoru inside, both of them being greeted by select people. Select people because Kenshin put up his scary Battousai front as soon as he walked inside and followed Kaoru towards the clinic room.

********* *********

"So. kitsune.." Sano started.

"Don't call me that, tori atama!" Megumi shot back at him as she rummaged through her medicines.

Sano rolled his eyes. "Fine, SASSY LADY, do you think my plan worked out?"

Megumi looked at him. "I don't know and personally don't really care. Sir Ken's business is Sir Ken's business."

"I liked hooking them up. I got some friends of mine out there to make sure everything went according to plan!" Sano smiled.

"You are barbaric, Sanosuke." She shot at him, fox ears flashing momentarily.

Sano laughed until the door swung open.

"Oi, Kenshin, back so soon? Where's Jou-chan?" Sano asked good- naturedly as he gave Kenshin a pat on the back.

Kenshin glared at him. "KAORU is behind me. And please don't touch my shoulder. It's injured."

Megumi sprung up at that statement, literally ripping Kenshin's gi from his chest and unwrapping the bandaging around his injured shoulder. Kaoru limped in soon enough to see Megumi rip Kenshin's gi and shove him onto a futon before starting to check his wound.

"Wish she'd do that to me." Sano muttered. "Oh! Hi Jou-chan! Enjoy your vacation?"

Kaoru lifted an eyebrow. "Lets see. I made 2 new friends.. Got attacked by Saitou. have an injury to my thigh because of it.."

Sano's expression dropped. "Saitou? What the heck, he wasn't part of the plan.. Er.. Oops.."

Kaoru whapped him over the head with a box. " BAKA SO IT WAS YOU WHO SET US ALL UP!!!"

Sano covered his head as Kaoru continued to hit him with the wooden box. "Geez Jou-chan, what are you planning to do, murder me?"

"Why?!" Kaoru demanded.

"Listen, it wasn't ALL my idea!! Aoshi said it, I just put it into action! Angela and Renee were helping out to!" Sano argued. "Don't kill me!! Kill them too!!"

Kaoru calmed down. "No wonder they kept talking about 'pouncing'."

Sano grinned. "Well.."

"Shut up Sanosuke." Kenshin's angry, Battousai voice and cold, warning, amber eyes stated to him.

Sano nodded. "I take it my plan worked."

Kaoru lay on the futon waiting for Megumi to finish treating Kenshin. She ignored what Sano was saying to her about why he did what he did. She was too busy thinking things over. The vacation hadn't exactly been much of a vacation.

*********** ***********

The night descended quickly and Kaoru fell asleep in the clinic. Kenshin waited for Megumi herself to fall asleep before slinking over to a futon closer to Kaoru's. He lay next to her and watched her sleep, his eyes keeping track of the rise and fall of Kaoru's breathing as her lips spread into a smile. His eyes grew violet upon watching her, his heart bursting with love at the sight of the young woman on the futon.

A sound of creaking made him jolt up and then the sight of a lantern caught his attention. He sensed the ki of someone, but it wasn't hostile. He waited silently as the person made their way into the room. Kenshin slipped away from Kaoru undetected until he was at the opposite end of the room, watching the mystery person with angered, amber eyes. The person turned.

"Katsura." Kenshin stated gruffly.

Katsura jumped slightly and then turned his lantern toward where the sound had come from. He found Kenshin leaning in the corner of the room, his katana laying on the floor in front of him, his head bent so his apple- red hair fell over his eyes like a curtain, shielding them from Katsura's sight. Even without out seeing his eyes, though, Katsura could feel the gaze upon him. He walked over to Kenshin.

"Himura." He stated simply and slowly.

"What do you want? Usually I only see you in meetings. Did you come to be sure that your master assassin was still breathing so he could kill more innocents for your cause?" Kenshin questioned, his voice cold and void of emotions.

Katsura shook his head. "No, but I do have a mission for you Himura. Actually, it's for tonight. It's only 10 now, and the job must be completed by 11:30. Do you except?"

Kenshin flipped his head up so he could face his boss, who was standing over him, the lantern casting a yellowish glow over his figure. "What is the job, Katsura? I'm not accepting any job that I have no details on."

Katsura set the lantern onto a table nearby, and began to fish in his pockets for the black envelope. He handed it to Kenshin, who took it in a manner that showed his disgust at the matter.

Black. The envelopes were always black. Black like the night when he fulfilled the jobs and challenges that were held within. Black for the dark ways and deeds in which he finished them, black for the deadly efficiency he had. Black for the nothingness all those listed inside the envelope would soon find themselves in.

Kenshin opened the envelope slowly, hesitantly. He was almost afraid of what he would find inside of it. His fingers slowly peeled the crisp paper out from the inside, and unfolded it. He leaned closer to the light to improve his vision as he read the contents. The paper fluttered to the floor.

"No." Kenshin stated coldly, shooting up. "Never. I will not go through with that."

Katsura looked at him. "If you don't, someone else will."

Kenshin's eyes feel upon Katsura's, his glare deadly. "I said no."

"Listen Himura, you are the only one capable of this job. You can take it. You don't have any connections. You can have it over with in no time. This victim poses no threat....."

"Then why kill them?" Kenshin stated, his voice a whisper so that he wouldn't wake up Kaoru who desperately needed her sleep. "Why kill someone who poses no threat to the Ishin Shishi, or to the peace for which we're fighting?"

"They are a threat to your status, Himura. I cannot lose you. You are too valuable. This is not a hard job. I would think you would except it in a heartbeat."

Battousai glared down at the paper. His thoughts were jumbled. He was torn between his duty, his loyalty to the cause that had cost him so much, and the meaning this murder would cause for Kyoto, for himself.

"If you had asked me about 10 years ago, I probably would have excepted. Not now Katsura. You know my vow." He stated coldly.

"Forget it, Himura. Not all enemies are the ones you are willing to kill. Some of them sneak up to you, manipulate you, change you, and take you away. You have to be stronger than them and destroy them while you have the chance." Katsura stated, his patience with his master assassin slowly ebbing away. "You must take this."


"I'm paying you 4 times what you already are getting if you do this. It's not going to hurt you to do this in any way."

Kenshin bent down and lifted up his katana and the paper. His eyes flew over the words as if he was reconsidering, while he swung his katana, still in its sheath, back and forth as if making a new decision. He looked at the paper for a long time, and then tossed it into the air, drawing his katana and shoving it through the center of the paper. The words faced Katsura, and Kenshin's gaze was pure Battousai.

Rage. His eyes were angry amber with deathly black and red mixed in, his facial features not hiding the emotions of anger and disgust that he felt. He glared at his boss, not having any remorse for his next few words.

"You disgust me, Katsura." Kenshin stated, his anger seeping into his words like venom into a victim. "Asking such a thing. You know.."

"Stop it Himura."

"WHAT MAKES YOU THINK I'D KILL HER?!" Kenshin growled. "She's offered too much to the Ishin Shishi as it is. She's saved me many times from my wounds."

Katsura. "I think she's vital, but we have to get rid of her for your sake."

"I am NOT killing Kaoru." Kenshin stated, whipping his sword so the paper fell off in two separate halves before he sheathed it. "I will not kill her. I don't kill women. Today of all days is NOT the day to ask that."

"I know Tomoe died today, Himura."

"I'm not killing another one I care deeply about, Katsura." Kenshin stated. "No matter if you order it or not."

Katsura lowered his head. "You've already fallen for the girl."

Kenshin glared. "I won't kill her and as long as I'm alive, I'm not letting anyone else touch her either. Have fun trying to find someone to get through me."

"That's it Himura. You are dismissed. Consider yourself, Kamiya, that rooster head, and the Oniwabanshu on our list of enemies." Katsura stated. "I would suggest you run, because you are going to be hunted down."

Kenshin glared at Katsura.

"I'm giving you a week. You can change your mind."

"I won't." Kenshin stated, shoving past Katsura and then leaning over Kaoru, lifting her up and carrying her out of the room. "In a sense, this is relief."

Katsura watched Kenshin leave and shook his head. "He's not going to have it easy. I'm going to have everyone hunt him down. That woman has to die."

*********** ***********

Kenshin didn't bother to pack or say goodbye to anyone, he just carried Kaoru out of the Inn after writing a few notes to Aoshi and the Oniwabanshu, and to Sanosuke to run as soon as the sun came up. He carried Kaoru in his arms; thankful for the painkillers Megumi had given to him. Kenshin had to find somewhere to keep Kaoru.

She couldn't stay with him now. He was being hunted, and he supposed she was too, but it would be safer if they were parted. He would be the first they'd go after, he supposed. But Kenshin had nowhere to bring her.

"Kenshin?" she asked, wiggling as she woke up.

"Shh. sleep koishii." Kenshin told her.

Kaoru's eyes opened. "Where are we?"

Kenshin sighed. He stopped and set her down next to a tree.

"We're leaving, Kaoru."


Kenshin looked down at the ground. "I've been dismissed because I refused a mission from Katsura. I was ordered to assassinate a woman."

Kaoru nodded. "Why do I have to go, though?"

"We're all being hunted. You, me, Sano, Aoshi and the Oniwabanshu.. All because I refused to kill you."

Kaoru's eyes widened. "Me?"

Kenshin nodded. "I couldn't kill you Kaoru. But now, I have to get you somewhere safe and then I have to leave."

Kaoru's eyes began to water. "Kenshin.."

He shook his head. "No Kaoru. You'll be safer on your own. I think I'm going to take you to Tokyo."

She shook her head. "No. I used to live in Tokyo. My dojo burned down."

"Is there anyone there you could live with?" Kenshin asked her.

Kaoru shook her head. "No. I was alone in the dojo as it was."

Kenshin glanced over to her. "Kaoru, I can't stay with you."

"Why?" she asked, her tears falling as she faced away from him. "Why can't you? They're after both of us. We should stay together."

"No Kaoru. I can't protect you from all the men that are going to be after me." Kenshin told her.

Kaoru sighed. "Angela and Renee said something about moving to Tokyo after they leave their vacation.."

"Then that is where you are staying." Kenshin told her.

Kaoru stared to the ground. "I don't want to be away from you, anta. I love you Kenshin."

"I love you too, that's why I'm doing this. I'm going to escort you to Tokyo. but from there I must leave." Kenshin told her, taking a chance and side glancing over towards her.

Her tears fell as she began to heave with her sobs. Kenshin took her and held her in his arms, trying his hardest to calm her down. It wasn't working.

"I will visit you after I visit my master." Kenshin told her. "But then I must leave again. I may drop by from time to time, that I will."

Kaoru sniffled but kept sobbing. "It's not enough. How can we."

"I'm afraid we won't be able to keep up what we have, Kaoru."

"Kenshin you can't just abandon me!" she cried.

Kenshin took her hand. "I'm not abandoning you. Everytime you see the fireflies, you will think of me. Everytime you hear a thunderstorm or lightening flashes in the sky, I will be there with you. I may not be there like this, but I will always have a part of me with you. I love you too much to abandon you. And Sessha must do this. Sessha cannot take the chance of harming you because you are with me. I'm always going to be there. I will watch over you, koishii."

Kaoru sobbed more into his chest, gripping his gi tightly her fist as she vainly tried to suppress the tears and cries that were tearing him up inside.

*********** ***********

~3 weeks later~

Kaoru sat at the doors of the newly bought dojo where she was staying with Angela and Renee. Soon Sanosuke and Yahiko would join, and the Oniwabanshu would be traveling until they found a remote area to stay. She looked out into the sky; her eyes brimmed with tears as the soft sound of feet came behind her.

He was leaving today.

Kaoru gripped the small piece of cloth in her hands. She turned around, clutching the cloth for dear life. She glanced down towards the floorboards and then back up again when a hand went to her chin and forced her to look up. Kenshin's violet eyes bored into her azure one, and he bent down to kiss her. Kaoru broke down into tears with that kiss, wrapping her arms around Kenshin and holding him tight.

"Please don't go." she stated, sobbing into his magenta gi. (A/N: YAY!!! PINK GI BABY!!)

'I'm so sorry Kaoru-koishii.. I don't want to leave you but that bastard Katsura left me no choice.... I will get revenge on him for this...... for making me hurt you like this, my koishii.....' the Battousai stated inside Kenshin's mind.

"I have to koishii. but I shall return as soon as I can."

Kaoru backed away and handed Kenshin his warm jacket and scarf. It was still winter and she didn't want him to get sick. Then she handed him the cloth.

"Take my ribbon." She stated. "It's the indigo one you bought me. Take it Kenshin."

Kenshin took the cloth and held it, staring at it and rubbing his fingers along the cloth. The scent of jasmines was still very strong on it as he placed the ribbon inside of his gi. He looked at the ground and then back up at Kaoru.

"I want to stay with you. I know the danger, Kenshin.. I'm will to take that chance to be with you." Kaoru told him.

Kenshin shook his head. "You may be but I'm not. I will return to you someday, I promise you koishii."

With one final kiss, Kenshin walked off.

Kaoru fell to the ground in her sobs, bending over until her forehead hit the snow.

Kenshin walked on, trying to forget her cries for him to stay. He continued to walk on.

'I only hope I can keep my promise to you, koishii.. That I do.' Kenshin said in his mind. At his side had his sakabatou, his cross-shaped scar was covered with a bandage and he was clad in a white hakama and magenta gi. He walked on.

Turning the bend, Kenshin knew he wouldn't be coming back for a while.

The coming of the dawn across the sky caught his attention. One day, his life would be new just like every dawn. But for now, his life was total darkness like the night.. Awaiting the time his dawn could come safely.


Author's Notes: And so ends our tale.. Now, do you guys want a sequel or should this stay as is? Your guys' call. In one week I will count up your choices and then which ever side as more will be what I will do. I will review to your responses in one week, every single last one of them (it may take a day to get them up, though. I will try, depends on how many reviews I get).

And thank you all for your support, expecially: Kyrstlsailormoon, beriath, Anime-Master7, Cutie Blossom, Piper, HiEi FoR sALe, dragontamer9741, Kagome Kia, Brittanie Love, Rhapsody07, Baka-Ryu, K&K fanatic, Black Twilight, Ame Kurayami, Chris, and my friend from Spain (sorry I can't spell your name!!! If I could I would have written it!) and the rest of you who have been reviewing to me since nearly the beginning or have given me advice for have connected with me on some level. I love you all!

I will respond to reviews still, so keep them coming!!!! I need to know if I should write a sequel or not!! AND YES THE SIDE STORY WILL STILL CONTINUE, LOOK FOR IT UNDER THE TITLE 'The Search for the SwirlyEyed Samurai' under Krystlsailormoon's account. She is a co-author, therefore that is where you will find the story.

Luv and hugs forever and always (and bounces to you, Angie!),

Crystal Renee