His heart was heavy with the weight on his shoulders and no one could help him, he wouldn't let them. So begins the story of a young man, set in his mission to rectify his mistakes on his own. He would soon find out that even in a life of wandering one could find the company that his heart silently yearned to have. Repentance was what Kenshin Himura found to be the answer to his problem, and it was a problem he needed to conquer to live the life he had been given. All he wanted was to know if sincere repentance was all that was needed to bless his remaining days with peace, this being his simple yet earnest dream.
The sun shone high in the noon day sky, covering everything it could with it's bright light. Nothing, it seemed, was spared from the intense heat of the daytime. Kenshin stopped on his way through a small town on the outskirts of Tokyo to refresh himself at an old looking well on the side of the path he was traveling. With sweat trickling into his bright eyes he rubbed them with his right hand, pulling up the remainder of the rope up to the top of the well with the other. Noticing the water bucket was losing its water fast from what looked like a hole in its bottom Kenshin quickly dipped his hands into it and threw some on his face. Lifting it to his mouth to take a drink he noticed a scraggly old dog by his side, panting with it's large brown eyes reflecting his desire for the sacred liquid dripping down from the bucket. Heaving a sigh of amusement and defeat Kenshin laid the bucket down for the dog to have a drink.
"Enjoy my friend, I've been blessed with enough water to cool off for today." Smiling down he patted the dog's head as it lapped at the water gratefully, showing it's thanks with the wagging of it's furry tail. Kenshin laughed and began down the road to his next destination, Tokyo. He was hoping to make it there before night fell, thinking about a soft inn futon to rest his head on was a comforting thought. It had been two weeks since the last time he traveled through a town that had an inn with rooms available. He didn't mind roughing it outside, yet he didn't want to take the chance for another small furry animal to take its night's refuge in his clothes either. How that squirrel ever got up his pant leg was beyond him, yet he didn't like to dwell on the past that much, especially if it dealt with something that frightened him half to death just a few nights ago. He shivered at the thought before dismissing it from his mind.
A warm wind blew, sending his long strands of hair to dance around in his eyes before he removed them. He was almost within the city from the way the buildings around him increased in size and number. The wind wouldn't let up, and it's persistence to blow his hair into his eyes which obscured his vision, just wouldn't do. Stopping with a frustrated sigh, he dropped his pack with his belongings down next to him. Reaching behind him he took his thick hair in his hands, gently running his fingers through the knots. He shook his head sadly, removing the tie that broken from his hair he opened his pack and took out another one. His thick fiery colored hair was soon in its confined state in a pony tail at the base of his neck. He sighed again as he stood up and loose strands fell back to their place in his face. It was a no win situation with his hair, another discomfort being it gave a reason for people to stare at him wherever he traveled.
Yet even his hair didn't garner the attention that another one of his features did. The cross shaped scare carved into one of his cheeks drew many eyes to him. It had taken 10 years to get away from the discomfort it brought him, yet in his heart he knew that he was well deserving of such a brand. It served as a daily reminder of the life he had left behind, the life that he abandoned with the hope of finding another. Yet every eye to fall upon his marred cheek brought his past to the surface of his mind, shadowing the hope that he clung to.
At around the same time Kenshin entered the city a young girl was walking in the opposite direction, hoping to get out without anyone seeing her. Her hope faded as her sandal strap broke, leaving her to hop on one foot while trying to bend down and retrieve it.
Lost in her thoughts and the disappointment of not succeeding in her endeavor Kaoru didn't notice the wall of muscle, or flab, blocking her path as she rose with her eyes downcast. Her nose rammed into something of questionable odor and before she knew it she was being held up by the top of her kimono a few feet into the air. Her breath caught in her throat as her mind roared, *Crap, how am I going to get out of this one?* She berated herself silently for having left her bokken at home. *Stupid, stupid, stupid…*
"Hey, Kamiya! You're gonna pay for my brother's busted nose." The large man holding her up growled, gesturing with his free hand to a more scrawny man standing a little behind him with a bandaged nose. Kaoru recognized him as the pervert who felt her up the other day in the market.
She was last in line as she waited to buy some tofu for dinner when an unwelcome hand pressed into the small of her back before grabbing her butt. Just as soon as she felt the violation she swung the wooden bucket she had in her hands directly into the offender's face. She could still remember the satisfaction she felt at hearing the contact result in a cracking sound coming from the pervert's nose. Quickly she shoved those memories away for another day. She was face to face with an angry brother bend on making her "pay" for what she did in some way and had to find a way out.
Having seen the disgusting scene in front of his eyes, Kenshin approached the group of what looked to be thugs surrounding a young girl whose feet dandled in the air, one missing it's sandal. He narrowed his eyes and moved in closer, the fingers of his right hand inching closer to the sword at his side as he closed the distance. Shaking his head, he cleared his throat behind where the young girl was suspended in the air.
"I think you had better leave this young lady alone, that I do." His voice was even and set, making sure to let them know that he was serious. The man holding Kaoru just laughed in response, followed by the other three men standing around who echoed his amusement.
"And who do you think you are, skinny man? I've got business with her that doesn't concern you." He turned his attention back to Kaoru but it was too late. She had gotten the chance to kick, and kick hard, while her assailant spoke with the man she heard come up behind her. *How heroic of him, whoever he is,* she thought, her mind wondering what her savior looked like as she swung her foot back then forward with force. This action sent her attacker doubling over in pain covering his crotch with both hands, leaving her to fall from his grasp. She closed her eyes as she began to fall yet instead of encountering the ground with pain she felt strong arms encircle her waist and gently let her down. Turning around she came face to face with her bright eyed helper, a beautifully violet eyed helper, who returned her gaze with a small smile before turning to confront the now angrier group of men.
"Are you okay, Miss?" Kenshin asked the girl now hiding behind him, all the while never dropping his eyes from the men in front of him.
With a slightly shaky voice she answered, "Uh… yes, thank you."
The group leader regained some of his composure and stood up to his full height, greatly towering over the redheaded rurouni by almost a foot. From the look on his face he hoped it would in some way intimidate Kenshin, yet the latter kept his expression the same, eyes narrowed and face as serious as before.
" I suggest you leave now and don't bother this young lady any more." Once again the thickheaded men just laughed in response to Kenshin's advice. Quietly sighing to himself, he steadied his hand on the hilt of his sword as the leader came within about a foot from where he stood.
"I'd like to see you try and make us, big man…" The man's large hand swung at Kenshin's small frame, barely missing the top of his head by a mere couple inches. Kenshin moved away from him with a grace that surprised Kaoru. She stepped a safe distance away from the fight and couldn't help but hold her breath as all four men fell within seconds after her protector unsheathed the sword at his side. The blade was positioned oddly in the hilt, having the look of being twisted the wrong way. Before the last thoughts registered in her mind, all was quiet again.
Kaoru just stared in awe at the redheaded man who simply placed his sword back into its sheath and turned to smile at her amidst a pile of unconscious men piled around his feet.
"I…uh… thank you, kind sir. Wow…" Despite her lack of eloquence, Kenshin understood her words and nodded in return.
"You are very welcome, miss…"
"Kaoru…" She said a bit hurried once she saw he was making his way to leave. "…my name's Kaoru." Smiling she walked closer to him, standing with her hand extended out to him. He smiled again at the friendly gesture and took her hand and shook it gently.
"Kenshin Himura, it's a pleasure, despite the circumstances." Kaoru's smile widened and laughed before drawing her hands behind her back with an embarrassed glance at the ground a few feet away. Kenshin nodded quietly and stepped away before stopping once again, turning around to see an inquisitive look on the young woman's face. "Would you do me a favor Miss Kaoru, and guide me to the nearest inn?" Kaoru took a better look at him and noticed he carried a small sack with him along with his sword, quickly understanding him to be a wanderer. A thought occurred to her and Kenshin saw the sudden change in her expression as her smile changed to a what looked to be a small smirk.
"Not until you consider my offer." Kenshin looked surprised at the unusual answer to his question but shifted his weight as to show he was willing to listen. Kaoru, satisfied with his attention, began. "If you would like, I can offer you a place to stay during your time here in Tokyo." She stayed silent, allowing the proposal to register. From the lack of initial response from the young man she began speaking randomly, trying to explain and dismiss the silence. "I own a dojo, actually it's my father's but it is only us two that live there now and sometimes it's a little lonely, and I'm sure it would be no pr…"
"That's very kind of you, Miss Kaoru. But I'm sorry, I'm afraid I can't take your offer." Kenshin's smile dropped slightly as a glimpse of hurt registered in her eyes before fading just as quickly as it came.
"That's perfectly fine. Just remember my offer still stands if you reconsider." Looking around she decided it was time she got back home, knowing that her father would most likely worry about her. "I've got to be going… once again, thank you." Bowing slightly she began on her way to her dojo, leaving Kenshin to watch her retreating figure. Before leaving himself, he noticed something on the ground near the still unconscious men. It was a broken sandal. He remembered that when Kaoru was being held in the air she was missing a sandal from one of her feet. He bent down and pricked it up, turning his eyes towards the direction she had disappeared.
"I wonder how far she will go until realizing she's missing this…" He laughed softly to himself before getting up to start off after her; the woman whose foot fit the sandal now in his possession.
AN: I hope you like it so far… this is my first Rurouni Kenshin fic and the first story I've written in a long time, so be nice and review, please *eyes get big and pleading*. Anyhoo, I'll update soon, school is starting up next week and I still have loads to do. But who knows, depending on the number of reviews I might have the next chapter out by the end of the weekend. Ciao!! ~The Honorable Gucci