Alright, I know it's been forever since I updated, but I do have a very, very convincing cause to plead. First, my family had to move to South Africa instead of New Zealand. THEN I got the scholarship for Uni in Wellington, meaning I'm half a world from the rest of my folks, THEN I got into trouble with the German authorities for completing my schooling before my 16th birthday, meaning I had my first struggle against bureaucratic red tape, THEN I helped my twin brother with his enrolment in a German boarding school (b/c of the way the German school system works he would have lost a year transferring to an International school), THEN I moved to NZ and THEN I got to know the joys of uni life trying to attain a dual bachelor's degree in law and biochemistry- meaning almost as many courses as I had at school, more work, no time for social life OR writing. So, this is the earliest I could get back into swing. I hope none of you have forgotten RtK, as I certainly haven't. With this I leave you to your reading… Enjoy!!!

denotes talking

denotes thinking

(-----) means a change of scenery (either temporal or local, I think which one of those will be clear) has taken place

Disclaimer: I do in no way own any rights, moral or others, to Rurouni Kenshin, its characters or plot. Characters other than the characters from Rurouni Kenshin bearing any resemblance to persons living or dead are purely coincidental. I do not intend to make any profits out of this story, it's written for entertainment purposes only and any attempt by persons natural or legal to make money from it in any way is not in accordance with this author's express wishes.
Written as a present to Néli, who had better think her wishes over again!

Chapter 17

If I caught the world in an hourglass

Yahiko was trying to make sense of the two men bickering right in front of him. As he acknowledged the boy's shorter legs, Hiko Seijurou, the taller and more muscular (and much more bizarrely dressed) of the two had slowed his pace. Unfortunately, that left the lankier one, Sagara Sanosuke, enough air to argue back and forth about everything and anything he thought of. The boy felt rather left out, trying his best to run after the men, unable to match their easy strides with his stubbier legs, and scoffed at the shrubbery as he huffed and puffed along. In spite of his earlier claims he did not feel up to a long walk in the woods, but the rooster-headed man had finally given in to his kicks and screams and had dropped him unceremoniously onto the floor while that insufferable arrogant git called Hiko had ordered him to "Walk, then!" at the same time.

He wished he had not insisted on being let down. Running through all of Dunkelwald after having lived through a battle was more than a child could or should endure, and here he was, awake for more than a day in a row already, and stumbling over his own feet just because of his pride. Yahiko blinked, trying to get rid of the annoying colorful dots that started to cloud his vision. His feet refused to work properly, clinging rather close to the uneven ground, making his gait unseemly, shuffling, stumbling. He tripped over every single tree root in the way and took every single opportunity to kiss the ground, and to be honest he was getting fed up with that.

"Honestly, would it be so hard to slow down a bit?" he called out in annoyance after meeting with an exceptionally sharp stone and rather disliking the introduction.

That Hiko Seijurou just raised an eyebrow, scowling at the young man and his antics. Sagara on the other hand shot him a taunting look and a provocative gesture with his hands.

"Hard to keep up with real men, short stuff?" he asked, drawling the sentence in that insufferable accent of his. Hiko rose to the bait.

"Don't you mean a man and an idiot?" he asked lazily. Sagara exploded.

"Who's the idiot?" he raged. Hiko simply shrugged.

"If you can't even figure that one out I don't know why I bother keeping you around." And they were back in their habit. Yahiko rolled his eyes, sighing.

"Children!" he muttered, but had to concentrate on running again lest his accidents multiply. He was close to the brink of dropping unconscious, and he knew it. His eyes felt as though someone had just strewn a whole barrel of sand into them, and the itch didn't seem to want to go away even though he rubbed them furiously.

Yet he still refused to give up. He didn't want to suffer the indignity of being carried, not when he was already twelve and had survived an attack by the mysterious old man and his lackeys. He would not… or perhaps he'd just lie there and wait for someone to notice he was no longer running. His body was aching in places he didn't even know existed, and the whole trek suddenly seemed so meaningless when compared to the wonderful promise of sleep that waited just behind the sand on his eyelids.

He as barely aware of Sagara wondering where the 'short stuff' was, and mumbled a reply that he was tall for his age, then he gave in to the lure of nothingness and dropped off- soundly asleep for the first time in over a day.


Kamiya, the young King who had lost his throne, had had his world turned upside down with just the loss of a piece of cloth obstructing his view. It should not have come as such a shock to him- after all, he had been exposed to more world-turning experiences in the last two days than he had ever wanted to. Still… he could not get over the fact that there was something he should see but couldn't- and it was not the fact that Battousai's nose twitched so cutely when he awoke.

Fuzzy in his mind was a harsh, rough shout of "Don't you see? You're a wo…"- and then there was only blackness. Deep, comfortable, soothing blackness, the power of declining, the lull of negating, the steady pleasure of not knowing. Although… he should know, he had been told. He had been… shown. Shown with a clarity that he could remember, but not what he had been seeing. It had shaken his very core, and for a moment the King had retreated into the shell of the little boy that had been scolded and punished for anything inappropriate by his father. He had come out of it when the punishment didn't set in, but it had taken the clarity away. He should be able to recall it all… Yet all he could remember was a most embarrassing feeling of attraction to an unconscious man of all things!

Am I going crazy? Or… had it already happened? Kamiya couldn't turn his gaze away from the slight lump underneath the covers that was Battousai's body. His face had settled into the unnerving stillness of his borderline unconscious sleep again, the nose-twitching but a memory. Kamiya carefully reached for a strand of fire-red hair that lay across the scarred cheek. Battousai's fight against death was far from won, if he recalled the strange Hiko's comments right. He was still right there on the brink between existing and vanishing, and the King found a strange pain in his chest at the thought that this assassin might actually not make it. The pain turned into a strangling ache as the young assassin struggled to take a breath and a weak cough issued from his mouth, accompanied by a dribble of blood running from the corner.

"What am I to do?" the dethroned King asked the rather silent shelter in a panicky voice that once again held the squeak he had worked so hard to eliminate. If he was truthful he did sound like a girl, and of course there was this case Hiko had made… he remembered the argument being proven, but not how.

"I wish that foolish man would finally give up on this notion that I'm a woman," the King grumbled, folding his hands in his lap. The red-head in front of her twitched as if in response to his statement and the King waited with bated breath for him to awake- but the only thing that happened was that he scrunched his eyebrows together and started shivering as though caught in another nightmare. Kamiya, out of instinct, reached out to him, smoothing long strands of silky soft hair away from his brow, eliciting a soft moan from the sleeping man.

"You know, you really don't look all that dangerous like this." Another hand, cool and dry, went to the sweaty brow, bringing relief to the heated skin.

"Ah, that's where you would be mistaken, Miss King," Shimajirou had entered unannounced, his silent steps unnoticeable to one not trained in the art of ki reading.

"Why?" With all that had been going on the past few hours and days, the King had lost some of the rigidity his upbringing had installed in him and allowed his natural curiosity to shine through. He even let slide the snide 'Miss King' remark.

"He," Shimajirou nodded towards Kenshin, who tried to curl up on the bed and failed miserably, as his injuries prevented any movement of that sort, "is trained to read ki even under the most dire of circumstances, his trainer would have made sure of that. Rest assured that, had you had intent to harm him or attack, he would have taken you out regardless of the damage he would do to himself with that."

"But… how?" Kamiya was intrigued. "I mean, how would he know? He can't see me, he can't even move," here she restrained a calloused hand from clawing at the bandages around his chest, "and he certainly can't take me out!"

"He is Battousai, what do you think? That he got his reputation from merely slaughtering a few unsuspecting nobles in the midst of the night?" Shimajirou usually despised the sarcasm his brother used in every single sentence, but by being in close quarters with that insufferably stuck-up girl who still thought she was a man and the King of Dunkelland forced him to at least understand Hiko's motives. "You don't seem to realize that these men were powerful. Once King Shimajirou realized there was a threat to them he sent out his armies for protection. Still, he got through. There was no man, no army, no trap that could hold him. Why, if you're the King you should know that. He escaped from your stronghold in this condition!"

"I… I know that!" Kamiya's hands were spread defensively. "But… it's just hard to imagine that…"

"Then don't try to imagine it. Concentrate on the moment, Miss. You might find something worthwhile in it." Shimajirou turned and went to get some wet cloth to cool down the fever of his brother's apprentice.

"What do you mean by that? Don't turn your back on me! I demand you show me due respect! Answer my question, you big oaf! I'm your…" Shimajirou had had enough. He was a very patient man and was often accused to let others walk over him by his more spirited brother, but even a temper like his would snap if stressed too much.

"You told me yourself- the castle was attacked, the King forced out of his position, the land usurped. Thus, even if you are indeed King Kamiya, you are not the King anymore. And it would do you good to remember that, young lady!" he thundered.

Kamiya was not to be deterred. "I might have lost my crown. I might have lost my home, my people and everything, but that still doesn't make me less of a king! And I am not different now just because I don't openly rule anymore! And don't call me a lady!"

What came as a surprise was that Shimajirou simply chuckled over her irate display. "You seem to have found some answers, Miss King," he said. Kamiya blinked in irritation, her rage dissipating into mere annoyance. "You see, you didn't even know anymore where you belonged or who you were. Now you have answered these questions," Shimajirou clarified.

If Kamiya was honest with himself… herself… whatever, he had to admit that the gentle giant of a man was right. In provoking him… or her… into a reaction the King had acquired a new outlook, even if the implications of what he had said were unclear as of yet and time was needed to think it all through.

"Well, I'm going outside to check up on a few traps I've set in the forest. You, my little lady, and Kenshin both need a high-protein diet to recover… even though he won't be up to anything but broth for the next week at least. Could you keep an eye on him? Give him a little water when he wakes… make sure he doesn't try to move around, it's not exactly healthy for him. Or for you. Water's here, in that jug. So…" he cracked his neck, the sickening sound of vertebrae realigning themselves making the King in exile cringe. "I'm off!"

As if to torture the poor confused human being that was Kamiya the man on the bed started opening his eyes just as the door slammed shut behind the impressive frame of her not-quite-gracious host. Bleary violet slits showed up behind their prison bars of long, dark red lashes, and a quiet groan escaped from parched lips. Kamiya blinked nervously, memories stirring, but stayed calm and composed.

"Would you like something to drink?" The question was asked before it could be held back.

"Water… please." Hands, their broken nails still rimmed dark with dirt, clenched around the comforter that hid the shivering body of Battousai, or, as Hiko Shimajirou called him, Kenshin.

Kamiya quickly (or at least as quickly as her swollen, raw feet allowed her to) fetched an earthen cupful of the cool drink.

"Thank you," he rasped, staring incredulously at the young King serving him, the assassin. Kamiya- no, not Kamiya, he could not call her that, not now, not when she was as close to her natural state as he had ever seen her. Kaoru, then, Kaoru was staring back at him, some unspoken emotion shining from the depths of her eyes.

"You're welcome," she said, the beauty of her melodious voice not diminished by the fact that her sore throat lent it a husky air.

"How long?" he asked, forcing the words past uncooperative lips.

"A few hours since you last woke," she explained, understanding his question.

"Oh." He tried to focus past is injuries, tried to remember what had happened. He had been with his master and the old soldier that had once been the Captain of the Palace Guard. He had been spoken to by Master Hiko, cared for… and then his memories became fuzzy.

"Where?" he asked, once again reducing the vocalization of his question to the bare minimum. In an uncharacteristic show of patience Kaoru placed her hand on his brow- so nice and cool, comfortable- and smiled at him.

"I don't know. Somewhere in the woods, in an old… I don't even know what this is. I think it's some safe place."


"Safe." He relaxed against the hand still touching his face.

"What about Master?" he asked, not a second later.

"What master?" she asked, bewildered. He stared up into her slightly narrowed nightsky eyes. How could anyone believe this girl to be evil? In the depths of these windows he saw the beauty of an untainted soul, reflected off the courage of an unbroken spirit buried under a load noone should be forced to carry.

"My… master. I was trying to reach him," he said. Somehow, secrecy and protecting Hiko Seijurou from prying eyes didn't seem all that important anymore, now that he had found the perfect distraction from his pain- had she used this simple interrogation method of caring for him, looking at him with concern and tenderness in her face and stealing his firmly tethered heart with innocent glances he would not have been able to resist.

"I don't know anything about any masters," she said, the haughty, aristocrat tone she had cultivated as the King returning with a vengeance. "We are currently housed in an abominable shack with a slightly crazy former Captain of the Palace Guard named Hiko Shimajirou."

"Hiko Shimajirou?" Kenshin lifted an eyebrow unbelievingly, and forced down a groan as the cuts on his scalp erupted into a fiery spider's net of headache-inducing throbbing.

"That's what I said, isn't it? You would do well not to question me all the time!" Her nose turned skyward, but her hand suddenly smoothed back a lock of hair that had stubbornly fallen over his blue-black right eye.

"I… " Kenshin stammered.

"Anyways, he is not here at the moment. He went to check on his traps- as though we were savages hunting with traps!" she shook her head in obvious disdain.

"No… you probably never hunted with traps…" Kenshin murmured, relishing her touch that had by now migrated to his cheek, the unscarred one. "But that doesn't mean the game served at your galas wasn't."

"What would you know about the… oh!" Turning pink with sudden realization, her unbound hair lying in a tangle of black around her face and shoulders she was even prettier. What he wouldn't give to smooth it back for her, like she had done for him, but he knew that, with the state he was in, any attempts to do so would rekindle the flare of agony in his injuries that were just a dull throb at the edge of his awareness for now.

"How… how did you get here?" he asked. The difficulty of pronunciation his puffed lips caused resulted in a slight lisp. Her face fell, her lips thinning into a firm line of misery and shadows clouding over her eyes.

"I ran," she said, "I ran as fast as I could after White-hair had disarmed me. Not a very glorious thing for a King to do, is it?" The bitterness in her voice conveyed what her clipped speech couldn't: the agony of feeling insufficient, a failure. The sting in Kenshin's heart was so great that he disregarded all discomfort to himself and caressed her cheek with a weak hand raised with all the inner strength he possessed.

"You… might not be King anymore," he ground out, "but… you still are yourself. You are not broken, Kamiya Kaoru. You have merely suffered a minor setback."

"Kaoru?" she asked, confusion worming its way through her emotional agony. He let his hand fall into his lap again, the force of will necessary to keep it up too great for his tired mind and body.

"It's your name, the name your mother gave you- Princess."

"Not you too!" she moaned, turning her eyes heavenward. "Why does everybody have this crazed notion of me being a female? I'm your King!"

"Not anymore," Kenshin stated flatly, determined to resolve this one issue there and now. "And, to be honest, you have never been. You were Dunkelland's queen, yes, but you were never a king. Your father wanted an heir, and because your mother died and couldn't give him one he first killed my grandmother and then, before ordering me killed, announced the birth of his son." Amber crept into his eyes as he continued.

"The soldier sent to kill me didn't. He cut my shoulder, and sent me running. I found a master, and learned all I could." He ended his tale, carefully studying the young woman sitting on his bed. She seemed shocked into silence, but something in her posture told him she had just found something she had probably been searching for all her life.

"So… it's true? All these little differences my father said would go away in time are just me… being female?" Her voice was quiet, disturbingly quiet. He held her questioning gaze and simply answered "Yes."

And she started laughing. Not a giggle, not laughter that came from deep within, no bubbling sound of joy but the shrill tears of disappointment and insanity that didn't want to fall and were therefore screamed into the air.

Listening to those screams was one of the hardest things Kenshin had done in his life. The raw despair and sheer unadulterated pain contained within them cut deeply into his soul, crushing his heart. As hardened, as battle-weary and as torn as he was, a broken spirit where hers was still whole, he felt with her. And a single tear escaped one lavender eye as he refused to ease his own suffering by turning away from her.

With every passing second her screaming became more ragged, suddenly suffused with sobs welling up from her throat, and then, finally, when all hope seemed lost with her in the hellish pits of lunacy she cried. The floodgates to her pain finally opened her tears were the river that raged through a land ravaged by drought. Strangely silent after her screams, they were nonetheless no less eloquent, even more beautiful in their simplicity. She did not throw herself onto the floor, neither did she fall haplessly onto the helpless wounded man, she simply sat there, as she had sat when she had screamed, but her fingernails this time broke the skin of her palms, leaving crescent half-moons of blood on the sheets where she gripped them in her torment.

Silently watching, Kenshin tried to lend her all his strength of spirit, to fortify her essence against the onslaught of insecurity that the acceptance of having lived a lie would bring. But once again, she astounded him as she overcame her crying herself, pulling herself together in a show of obstinacy and quiet power. Eyelashes still fending off the last vestiges of her tears that clung to them, silver drops of moonlight caught in rays of dark black silk, she suddenly looked upon him with a newfound resolve in both posture and gaze.

"If I'm a woman… no, because I'm a woman… means I… means I'm not… different. Means I can do this," she said, the rough syllables rolling off her tongue with a decidedly more female pitch than before. And ere the dumbfounded young man, that bruised and beaten, broken, ugly, guilty, read-haired murderer could react she bent down to his level, firmly pressing her lips to his.


Shimajirou carefully traipsed around the un-sprung traps along the rabbit trail he had found early that morning. So far, only one of the small beasts hung from his belt, hardly enough meat to make for a meal for three.

Sighing, he straightened his back after ascertaining that yet another trap underneath a hazel was empty and continued along the trail, eyes glued to the forest floor, ears listening for anything suspicious. Even though the hide-out was in one of the most remote (not to mention dangerous) parts of Dunkelwald, the possibility that this new leader, the white-haired freak that had even his brother's little pupil terrified, would be insane enough to send his men to comb the forest still existed.

It thusly didn't come as such a surprise that two voices reached his ears. Snapping into a defensive stance- by the sound of it they were just outside his field of vision- he brought his sword to bear in front of him, ready to take whatever was thrown at him.

"Now shut up, we're about to meet my brother," one of the voices, a deep one laced so thoroughly with sarcasm as to be impossible to be mistaken shouted rather loudly. No doubt, Hiko Seijurou had already sensed Shimajirou's presence and now wanted to ensure he did not attack- which in turn meant his companion was no swordsmaster, otherwise he would have left him to fend for himself.

"I'm here, brother," he said, re-sheathing his weapon. Seijurou had been just outside his field of vision, as had his companion. However, when said man came into view Shimajirou's hand once again landed on the pommel of his sword- he wore the uniform of a royal castle guard.

"Stand down, Shimajirou," Seijurou snapped, his patience clearly worn thin, either by his companion or… was this a young boy hanging like a sack of overripe apples from the tall soldier's shoulders?

"Who are they?" Shimajirou asked with an inquisitive incline of the head.

"He?" Seijurou pointed to the soldier, "is called Sano… he is a friend of my baka deshi's, or at least he claims to be. As he's not dangerous, I thought we could risk to test that theory." The soldier bristled at being labeled 'not dangerous', but for once didn't speak up.

"He," Seijurou stabbed his forefinger at the boy, "is a survivor of the battle at the castle in need of medical attention. And since you have done such a splendid job with my baka deshi I figured I'd rather leave him to your tender care. No need to soil my hands… Now, what are you doing out here? Hunting? Traps are most certainly not the most efficient way of going about that. Know what? Take us to the hide-out, I'll get something later."

Seijurou's careless dismissal of Shimajirou's methods of hunting rubbed the older man a little wrong, but for now he simply bore his brother's casual arrogance and, with a last glance at his last empty trap, led the way to the building housing the deranged girl and the wounded warrior. Perhaps Seijurou's presence would startle the latter from his unconscious sleep?

Shimajirou sighed. He would have to keep a close eye on that soldier. If that girl-king once again tried to make a claim for power and had his help, things might get out of hand, and he didn't really want to risk that with a severely injured boy… man he had come to think of as a favorite nephew in the house. But then, he trusted his brother's judgment. With his abilities in sensing, he was rarely wrong about people. Squaring his shoulders, Shimajirou set off at a brisk pace. It was better not to prolong the waiting.


Yukishiro Enishi was rather pleased with his new accommodations. Dunkelland Castle was a magnificent fortress, with high crenelations and wide battlements. Massive walls encircled the top of a steep hill, a natural defense added to the human-made ones. The stones of said walls were packed tightly, almost without any mortar between them, held together by the forces of pressure and gravity, making it impossible for friend or foe to scale them without inside help. And inside help had been routed out by the religious, ruthless purging of the castle. Now, all that remained was subduing the last vestiges of resistance out in the country, and having Shishio on his side was going to take care of that problem. The methods the narrow-faced man employed were rather to his liking, as well as very efficient. And nobody could accuse the former assistant of Gohei that he was anything but thorough.

His father, Oibore, had taken residency in the former King's quarters, finding the Spartan but comfortable interior decorations sufficient. Enishi himself had stayed with most of the militia in the guard barracks, preferring them to the splendor of most of the castle rooms. Nonetheless, most of his day had been spent in conference with the other two leaders of the assault, determining their further course of action. Carrier pigeons had been sent out with instructions to their helpers all over Dunkelland, and Enishi was sure that, within the month, the country would be firmly in their hands.

However, the neighboring Amazons were posing a problem- their princess had been drawn into the fight, had not been seen since then and was most likely dead. Although he didn't know anything about their queen, a feasible reaction to this situation would be an attack by the fierce female warriors. Neither Enishi nor Shishio would have to worry, of course, because no female was good enough to beat them (Enishi knew for a fact that there was no male capable of beating him, either- even the fabled Battousai was weaker than him), but his men were not as talented. That could pose a problem… unless the princess turned up. Then, he would simply force her to marry him, force-forging an alliance between the two countries that could not easily be broken.

Enishi kept his predatory smile firmly on his face as he watched the first white birds return to the castle. Their wings beat the air rhythmically, as though they wanted to announce complete victory. Turning sharply, Enishi left his vantage place on the highest tower- ironically, he had chosen the same as Battousai always had- and went to find out what his men had to say. He hoped for their sake they were all positive messages.


The pressure on his lips was both painful and pleasurable, immensely so. As though she didn't care about the wounds disfiguring him, as though she didn't even think about his crimes any more, the young girl named Kaoru kissed him as though her life was dependant on this. As shocked as he was, sparks ignited behind his eyes and he reciprocated the kiss, ignoring the way she had latched onto his still unclothed body, hands clenching around his bandaged middle as she lay halfway across him.

Any thought fled when her tongue darted from the prison of her teeth, tangling with his own in a battle for dominance. Her sweet taste, her soft lips, her heavenly smell were all he realized as he somehow managed to encircle her with his arms. His heart, frozen in time after the death of his grandmother, fully returned to life, beating frantically against his ribcage. The sparkles he had felt earlier developed into full-grown flames of heated passion as he did his best to claim and mark her as his own. Eyes snapping open, displaying their full amber glory to the world were nonetheless unseeing as feelings thought buried beneath an impenetrable layer of steel-hard will returned. A forgotten treasure had awakened, had returned to life after a long period of dormancy. 'If I caught the world in an hourglass... I would wish it to be in a moment like this!' was the only coherent thought he managed.

Their lips met, then bonded, and Kaoru felt as though the Earth herself were moving in her hand, like the trembling heart of a captive bird. Smooth skin covering lithe but strong muscles felt warm to her touch, coarse bandages heightening the sensation. Forgetting the bruises on his face, his split lip, even the slight coppery taste of blood on her tongue, she tried to taste him, emboldened by his positive reaction to her kiss. He moaned, tasting of her as she tasted of him, glorious, simple instinct taking over where nurture lost track. Her hands skimmed across his lean chest, recognizing and not noticing his state of undress, uncaring yet healing. His arms trapped her within a circle of heat, reminder of the fever that was broken but not beaten. Her heart hammered, her spirit sung as she claimed what was her birthright as a woman. She forgot her identity, lost what she was thinking, existed as pure touch, feel, sensation. It wasn't her anymore, that girl tumbling through a swirling vortex of pleasure.

Like waves crashing onto the shore reality came crashing back to her when the door to the hide-out flew open with a resounding bang. Her eyes widened in fright, latched onto the amber irises in front of her, as she clung even closer to the man she had just kissed. Realization forced the redness to rise in her cheeks, not out of shame but out of embarrassment. She could hardly remember why she had wanted to kiss Battousai, fact was, she had, and was now lying prostrate on him in a rather compromising position.

Not that he seemed to mind- he still looked rather dazed and lost in that place between the stars where they had traveled together just a moment before.

"So this is what my little baka deshi is up to when you leave him alone," a rather deep, pleasant voice chuckled, and Battousai underneath her groaned.

"Master," he said.

"The good thing is, we now have a free bed," the tall man striding into the hide-out as though he owned it continued. "And I guess my baka deshi will heal much faster, now that he has such a formidable nurse to care for him."

"Please… kill me now." Kamiya blinked. Somehow, the situation had just drifted from the romantic into the bizarre. And she didn't really know how.

… to be continued …

Next chapter: Reconvalescence and regrouping: As Kenshin recuperates Saito discovers something interesting. Misao and Aoshi rethink their relationship and Megumi has a suggestion...
Soundtrack for chapter 16

Elvis Costello/ Anne-Sophie von Otter (singer): There is no wonder/ This house is empty now

Jim Brickman: By Chance (if my piano prof knew I play pieces like this one for fun he'd skin me alive- says they ruin my technique… which I don't care about since I don't want to go pro)

The Man with the Iron Mask soundtrack: Heart of the King

J. S. Bach: Air from Orchestra Suite No.3

Ghost soundtrack: Unchained Melody

Richard Rogers: Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered
Hmmm… so much for my first tries at writing romance- guess it could have been better. But then, Néli always tells me to look on the bright side of things (apparently, she thinks I'm a pessimist- well, someone's gotta be one!), so I guess it could have been worse as well. Saz kept buggering me to include a 'naked-Kenshin'-scene, so you have her to thank (or blame) for this. Please keep in mind that my encounters with romance have been few, that I get most of my knowledge from books (I even read Erich Fromm's Die Kunst des Liebens The Art of Loving), and that a hyperactive eighteen year-old French girl kept giving me advice.

grins ruefully Well, I have to admit that updates won't be as regular or frequent as I would like- uni is taking a lot of time (meaning I have to flee to self-imposed writer's block or, as my darling twin calls it, constipation of authorial thought process to get my work done), especially until I will have my two bachelors in two years (after which I will concentrate solely on law), and I am working on the finale of SL at the moment, so look out for that one coming!

I want to thank you all for your continued support during my hiatus- without some people asking me about the next chapter when I was all but ready to give up I would have never found the energy to write this. I love all your reviews, whether they be per e-mail or here on , and I hope to get to know what all of you thought of this chapter! I LOVE YOU!!!