Author's Note: My second Rurouni Kenshin story—another one-shot that I got from a scene in episode 34—Kaoru had a flashback on the ship to Kyoto of a rainstorm and I just thought that after they returned to Tokyo that there could be another memorable afternoon in the rain. I don't own Rurouni Kenshin , it is the property of Fuji Television Inc., Jump Comics and the creation of Nobuhiro Watsuki
A WARM SUMMER RAIN
The day had had a promising start, a cloudless blue clime with the sun sparkling like a jewel as it rose from the Eastern horizon over the Kamiya Dojo in the celebration of a late summer morning. But clouds suddenly sprung up like an advancing army from the west obscuring the bright rays as they beat down on the marketplace of Tokyo.
Carrying a basket, Kamiya Kaoru walked among the stalls as merchants hawked their wares to her, but she ignored them as she was focused on purchasing only what she intended to buy, foodstuffs for the inhabitants at her dojo. They had been back a week from Kyoto and living on the kindness of their loyal friends Tae, Dr. Gensai, and Megumi but Kaoru thought it was high time to for all of them to stand on their own two feet. She had gone about the city and gave fencing lessons yesterday, for which she had gotten paid and although the funds were not abundant, they were enough to replenish the larder so all of them could eat.
Kaoru walked to the grains man to purchase a bag of rice and then turned to buy oil, vegetables, tofu, and tea, all staples of the steady diet for her Yahiko, Sanosuke, and Kenshin. She also went to purchase some lye soap for the laundry as it had needed replacing as well.
She had just handed the money to the merchant to complete the transaction when she sensed that she was no longer alone. She whirled about to meet the diminutive samurai with his amiable warm gaze of twin amethyst orbs framed by flame tresses and the ever present sakabatou riding on his left hip.
"Kenshin! You startled me, I thought I told you that I could do the shopping alone. You didn't need to come out here to find me," she reproached, a tad exasperated.
Himura Kenshin flashed a sunny smile at the lovely raven-haired kendo teacher and answered, "I became concerned for your safety Kaoru-dono. Besides, Yahiko was called to the Akabeko and Sano went to the gaming house earlier. I finished the laundry and saw that you had not returned so I came to find you."
Kaoru sighed as she shook her head. "I was just browsing. I don't have the money to buy some of the things I want but I can just look and know what to save for." She looked longingly at some new kimonos displayed at the nearest stall.
Kenshin's smile faded a bit. "I'm sorry I can't buy those things for you, Kaoru-dono. I only wish I could, that I do."
Kaoru smiled sweetly and patted his hand, sending a thrill through him as her touches often did. "That's all right, Kenshin. It's very sweet of you to want to."
Kenshin's smile reappeared as he felt the limpid sapphire pools of her eyes draw him in. As Battousai the manslayer he never dreamed that a life such as this, as part of a bonafide family could be his. His own family had perished of cholera and as a young boy he found himself in the position of fending for himself until three ladies tried to protect him from murderous bandits. They were killed and then as the rogues sought to kill him, Hiko Seijuro, the man who became his master of the sword style, Hiten Mitsurugi Ryuu saved his life. At fourteen, he left his master to assist in the Revolution, became a renowned hitokiri, and met the woman who would become his wife. And after the abject tragedy of accidentally slaying his wife, Tomoe he felt that the only life he deserved for his many sins as Hitokiri Battousai was one of a wanderer, eternally moving and perpetually homeless, with no hope of ever having anyone to care for or to care for him. But his travels brought him to the capital city of Tokyo and his path crossed with a beautiful and feisty young girl brandishing a bokutou to avenge the besmirching of her fencing school. Little did he know at that time that his life had changed at that very moment and he would be deeply entrenched in that girl's dojo and life. And that girl would become the love he was sure he would never deserve to have again.
Noting he had drifted off, Kaoru nudged him. "Kenshin, baka, are you asleep? I want to look at some hair accessories down a few stalls." She cast her eyes skyward at the fading sunlight and noticed rain clouds gathering. "I'm heading down there, so if you're coming with me, let's go." She took hold of his sleeve and pulled him along.
At the stall, Kaoru fingered some brass hair clips, with ornaments of butterflies and roses and some satin ribbons in her favorite indigo color with sakura leaves embroidered on the edges in delicate hues of pink and white. She sighed with yearning, wishing she could at least afford to purchase a hair ribbon.
Kenshin glanced at the collection of hair ribbons and sighed as well, wishing with all his heart he could buy them for Kaoru. He knew that he had no money either, as he accepted nothing from the government for defeating Shishio. He was filled with regret at his nobleness for if he had accepted a gratuity, he could buy not only the ribbons for Kaoru but the kimonos she had admired earlier. He watched as she turned and left the stall empty-handed.
They walked along the marketplace silently, lost in their own individual reveries and had not noticed the lowering of the sky, clouds dark and heavy with rain. They continued strolling along aimlessly when the first large drops began dotting the dry earth of the main street, leaving wet spots in the brown powder.
Kaoru shrieked in dismay. "Oh no, it's raining. Every time I wear a new kimono, I get caught in the rain!" As if in response, the drops began falling in earnest, causing all merchants to drop their canvases over their merchandise to save it from the sudden downpour.
Kenshin grabbed her hand and said, "There's a porch over at the inn where we can seek refuge until the storm blows over. Come on!" He sprinted over to the inn entrance with Kaoru following, clutching her full basket as she obediently followed him.
The inn was just down the street, a popular place for weary travelers and wayfarers to find lodging and food. But its porch became a shelter for Kenshin and Kaoru as they got to there just as the rain became harder and more copious. Both had gotten a bit damp in the summer shower and Kenshin instinctively pulled Kaoru closer in a gesture of protection. Kaoru was surprised but pleased by his action, feeling comforted by the warmth of his body, his bare chest peeking from the separated ends of his gi. His arms wrapped around her shoulders as he gazed down into her upturned face and the soft drumming of the raindrops sounded on the roof overhead. She noticed that the wounds on his neck from his life and death battles with Shishio and his men had healed completely, with nary a scar to be found
Kenshin smiled gently as he remarked, "The rain came up suddenly, that it certainly did."
Kaoru nodded. "I know. I didn't expect it. I guess I wasn't paying attention to the weather." She held the package laden basket close as his arms remained encircled about her, his soft breath ticking her nose and sending a thrill throughout her body.
"Remember there was another time that we were caught unaware by a sudden shower?" Kenshin inquired softly, his violet eyes glowing.
Kaoru nodded, her sapphire orbs also luminous. "I was upset that my kimono would be ruined but you made sure I stayed dry," she replied in a near whisper.
Kenshin nodded, "Aa. We sought shelter in a storefront doorway then, that we did."
It had been a day like this one, bright and sunny to begin with so he, Yahiko and Kaoru decided to stroll about the main street and marketplace. Then came the rain and Kaoru had lamented that her new kimono would get ruined. They ran under a store doorway to shade themselves from the pelting drops and she had held her hand out in the falling moisture exposing her sleeve but Kenshin had taken it in his own to pull it back under the roof cover.
"Careful, you'll get wet, that you will."
The touch between Kenshin and Kaoru had been electric, shocking them, making both of them blush but then Kenshin's eyes became soft as he allowed his hand to gently encompass Kaoru's. Their eyes locked and their hands remained entwined as the shower ended while Yahiko turned his head and smirked knowingly. The walk home after the shower passed had been quiet as his thoughts teemed with the petite kendo teacher that was slowly but surely making her way into his heart. She was so exceptional, in her kindness and beauty he became filled with a sense of unworthiness that deepened as they got to the dojo and he apologized profusely to her for his boldness, leaving her perplexed to say the least. He then continued in his usual formal attitude toward her, reminding himself constantly of his unworthy station lest he forget himself again. But his private thoughts were where he carried out his desires, fantasizing about Kaoru while his hands were busy with the daily chores, sneaking frequent peeks at her, his admiration for her swelling as each day passed.
The rain continued its rhythmic pitter-patter on the roof of the porch as Kenshin and Kaoru watched above for a break in the clouds. They each were on edge emotionally, intensely aware of the other, their bodies close proximity to each other. But Kenshin's arms remained encircled around Kaoru, her slight form and the warmth it radiated in combination with the sound of the rain comforting him. She let the basket drop from her arms so it was placed on the floor beside them, allowing herself closer in his warm circle.
Kaoru's eyes were still cast skyward as she commented, "Since I was a little girl I've always loved the rain. It refreshes everything it touches and makes the air like new."
Just like you've done for me Kenshin smiled down into the eyes he wanted to get lost in. "Hai, the rain is a blessing from Heaven, that it is."
Kaoru asked shyly, "Kenshin, when you were a wanderer, what did you do when it rained." She sounded like a little girl, which warmed his heart even more.
Kenshin thought a moment. Then he answered, "Well, if I was in the wilderness I would try to find a tall shady tree if I couldn't find a cave or ditch. Then I'd just wait out the storm. If I were in a town or village I'd stand in a doorway or under an awning to shelter myself. And then I'd just watch the drops fall. They would cleanse my thoughts and soothe my soul."
Kaoru nodded, "When I was small, I used to watch the rain. It mesmerized me, even during a storm, when the lightning and thunder frightened me. I would stand outside the dojo and watch until it stopped. My parents would scold me but I'd still stay and watch."
Kenshin's eyes twinkled as he imagined a younger Kaoru standing outside on the porch of the dojo watching the rain. Then they darkened as he thought of himself and what he was doing at the same time as she in her childhood watched falling rain, comfortably cocooned in her innocence. He was a hitokiri, taking life after life for what at the time he thought was a noble cause. The blood of those he killed flowed so freely during the Revolution that would wash away in the same rain would forever stain his hands and his life, its metallic smell remaining in his nostrils. But then he was snapped to the present when from Kaoru's damp hair was the unmistakable scent of jasmine mixing in with the fresh fragrance of the rain. It was her scent, and it etched itself in his soul as he inhaled deeply and put the memories of the past out of his mind once more.
A cool breeze tickled at them, making Kaoru shiver slightly in her damp kimono. Kenshin tightened his arms around her, the feeling of wanting to protect her even from the threat of catching cold from the summer shower overpowering. He spoke with mild authority, "I need to get you home so you can change out of these wet clothes, that I do."
She sighed softly as she answered. "But it's still raining, Kenshin. Can't we just wait until it stops?"
"But you're cold, Kaoru-dono. You're shivering," he was quick to point out.
"Let's just wait until it lets up some. And I'm not cold at all," she reassured him with an engaging smile.
Kenshin sighed. She was doing it to him again. What was it about this mere slip of a girl that made him want to do anything to please her, even if it went against his better judgment? He realized that he was totally bewitched, under her spell completely. And moreover, there was no place else he would rather be.
They stood huddled together in companionable silence as the shower began tapering off. Soon there were only a few drops falling as the sky brightened and the clouds moved on, allowing the sun to peek out and send some warm rays to chase the remainder of the rain away.
"Oh, Kenshin look! A rainbow!" Kaoru cried delightedly pointing. Kenshin turned his head.
Opposite the dark rain clouds passing the sun had shone upon their sullen gray faces and painted a perfect half circle prism, lighting up the sky. It was breathtaking, the colors vivid and clear.
"So bright like a promise," she mused thoughtfully.
Kenshin just nodded as he watched the spectacle. When he was a rurouni, he had witnessed many rainbows but never had they touched him. But this particular rainbow had a profound effect on him, so much so that he would never again look at a rainbow without remembering this one.
"Since the rain's finally stopped we should be heading back home," Kaoru said a tad reluctantly. "I'm sure Yahiko will probably be back and is wondering where we are. And we have to get this food home to make dinner." She reached for the basket at her feet and lifted it as she headed down the steps of the inn porch to the road. Kenshin sighed and followed her as she headed toward the dojo.
They walked wordlessly along the road until they reached the front gate. There, Yahiko and Sanosuke were waiting by the locked front door. Kenshin took the basket and Kaoru unlocked the door to let everyone in.
Yahiko got to his feet, an annoyed scowl on his face. "Sheesh, buso, where were you so long? Does it have to take forever just to get some food? Kenshin, couldn't you hurry her along?"
"Yeah, Jou-chan." At the glare Kaoru shot at him Sano added sheepishly, "I mean, we're hungry that's all. And we've been waiting here since it started raining."
"We got caught in the storm too, that we did," Kenshin informed them as he headed for the kitchen. He turned and regarded Kaoru warmly, "I'll start preparing dinner, Kaoru-dono."
Dinner was a strange affair with Kenshin and Kaoru both meditative and quiet yet neither could help exchanging frequent glances with the other. Yahiko and Sano hardly noticed as they stuffed themselves and fought over who had the largest portions. Finally both were sufficiently sated and retired to their respective rooms for the night as Kaoru assisted Kenshin with the cleanup.
They were just finishing putting away the last clean dish when Kaoru spoke hesitatingly, "Kenshin, I just want to thank you."
"For what, Kaoru-dono?" He was drying off another dish and placed it in the cupboard.
She took a deep breath. "For coming after me at the market today. I know I wasn't very nice when you first came up to me and I'm sorry," she said penitently, her head down.
Kenshin turned and captured her, taking her arms. His eyes were infused with warmth that radiated like sunlight. "Kaoru-dono, I will always be concerned for you. And with my last breath, I will always protect you," he said with an uncustomary huskiness.
Time seemed at a standstill as they gazed into each other's eyes, their breathing hushed and waiting. Kenshin reached up and ran the back of his right hand down the contour of Kaoru's cheek, savoring the silken softness, like a rose petal. How he longed to draw her mouth to his in a slow lingering kiss, a kiss that would make clear to Kaoru that his heart is hers. But, his own self-loathing once again inopportunely intervened and he withdrew.
Kaoru felt the sting of disappointment as Kenshin stepped back and turned away. Lowering her head she bleakly stated, "Well thank you anyway, Kenshin. Good night." She turned and scurried to her room, where she slammed the shoji, the abrupt action making him flinch involuntarily.
Kenshin sighed as he took a deep breath. In her wake, Kaoru's scent of jasmine lingered and assailed him. He stood in the candlelit kitchen with his eyes closed and indulged in the memories of the day, memories that would stay with him until the day he died and always remind him of a porch shelter, a rainbow, jasmine and a warm summer rain.END