Writer's Note:  If you are very sensitive or feel very strongly about human rights, it's best that you skim or skip over this chapter entirely.  (lol, kinda tough considering this is the last chapter)  For those who have no problem at all, well, do enjoy.  ^_^  The Ice and Fire Contest is over, so I decided to just post everything up since things are all completed.  :P  Happy reading!

Oh Captain!  Mine Captain!  By Leila Winters

            Megumi closed her eyes and tried to think about something else.  Her mind fought so hard while her body lay motionless.

Five A.M.

Friday morning,

Thursday night

Far from sleep.

I'm still up and driving,

Can't go home obviously.

            She wanted to be home.  She wanted to sit in bed and warm herself up.  Why was she always so cold?  So cold…

So I'll just change direction

'Cause they'll soon know where I live,

And I wanna live.

Got a full tank and some chips.

            She had nothing to cover herself up with.  The men were staring at her, their stupid faces rosy with lust.  Disgusting creatures, getting riled up by mere nakedness.  She blinked their images away until there was only one…

It was me

And a gun

And a man

On my back.

And I sang "holy holy"

As he buttoned down his pants.

            She wasn't asking to be saved.  She could only hope, only dream that someone would come.  Why didn't anyone come?

You can laugh,

It's kind of funny

Things you think

Times like these.

Like I haven't seen Barbados

So I must get out of this.

            A hand closed around her mouth.  There were too many of them.  A hand combing through her hair, nails scraping against her scalp.

Yes I wore a slinky red thing,

Does that mean I should spread

For you,

Your friends,

Your father,

Mr. Ed?

            Aoshi was running now.  His heart beating faster.  He had to find her.  Find her and keep her safe.  His mind didn't want to think about what he would do if he was already too late.

Tell me what's right.

Is it my right

To be on my stomach

Of Fred's Seville?

            His lungs were burning.

            Her eyes were burning.

            Where was she?

            Where was he?

Do you know Carolina,

Where the biscuits are soft and sweet?

These things go through your head

When there's a man on your back,

And you're pushed

Flat on your stomach,

It's not a classic Cadillac.

            Aoshi tried random doors, always on the move, always searching, listening, for anything.

But I haven't seen Barbados,

So I must get out of this.

            The door burst open.  She was there.  Lying on the floor with a lowly guard whispering in her ear, a hand sliding down her flat belly.  Standing around them were several Hitokiris, one of them being Kanryuu Takeda.

            Kanryuu Takeda.

            Unable to keep the shock at bay, he stared at her and she stared back.

            "Shinomori…you're just in time," Takeda said.  "Join us for a bit of fun.  She's bred exceptionally well."

            Aoshi pulled his gun out, the others followed.  "Let her go."

            "Relax…she's not Untouchable if that's what you're worried about."  Kanryuu watched him carefully.  "But you knew that, didn't you?"

            "You can't do this.  She is heir to—"

            "It's too late for her!  She's already been branded un-born, who will listen to her now?  She's got no one to claim her, isn't that right?  Who would miss one more bitch when there are hoards left?"

            I would miss her.

            "C'mon, Shinomori.  Free native-born skin, ours for the taking."  The captain bent to the woman's level, grasping her by the chin and forcing her head back so that he could place his wretched lips on hers.  "Unless maybe…"  Takeda rose to circle him like vulture.  "Unless maybe you don't like women…no.  I think you do.  Maybe..." he raised his gun to the back of Aoshi's head.  "Maybe we have a traitor among our ranks."

Aoshi said nothing.

Takeda forced him to take a step forward.  "I never liked you, Shinomori.  You were always so methodical.  You never took any pleasure from un-born suffering." 

Pushing the captain onto his knees before Megumi, Kanryuu murmured into his ear, "You know what happens to traitors."

A Hitokiri moved to hold the doctor down, but Aoshi pushed him away.  "There's no need."

The woman sat up, glancing briefly at the ring of barrels surrounding them.  She avoided looking at his eyes, but when she did, he could see the red rims.

He was so angry.  When would life stop offering this woman nothing but horror and tragedy?  Hadn't she had enough?  She was here because of him.  It was all his fault.

Bowing her head in silent acceptance, tears slid down her deathly pale cheeks.  She wanted him to live.  Even if it meant she was to suffer.

"Megumi..."  He leaned forward to kiss her temple, telling her wordlessly that everything would be fine.  And more importantly, that he was sorry.

Kanryuu fired a shot inches from the officer's leg.  "Get on with it.  You make us lose interest."

He'd never been afraid of death.  Now, as he hovered over the doctor's form, he found he wanted to live.  If he died, there would be no one to protect this woman.  And he wanted to protect her very badly.

Shooting Takeda a deadly glare, Aoshi unbuttoned the top buttons on his tunic.  His blood was starting to pump faster.  He tried not to think about the uneven hands fate dealt.  He tried not to think about anything at all.

Megumi held onto one of his black sleeves and pressed her face into it, suddenly overcome with tears, tired of being strong.

Aoshi was, too.

Slipping what was left of her shirt onto her body after it was done, he watched Kanryuu throw him a disgusted look.

"Let's go, boys.  Shinomori always manages to ruin my fun.  Clean up this fucking mess."  Practically spitting on his way out, Kanryuu kicked the doorframe and led the other Hitokiris out.

Sitting with knees drawn up, Aoshi rested his head against an arm, still breathing hard.  His other hand slipped into his hair.  He was so ashamed of himself.

Two delicate arms reached around his torso from behind and he felt Megumi lay her head against his back.  Both shaking, they sat like that for a long while.

The Hitokiri captain picked Meg up in his arms and carried her out of the building and into the brisk air.  Though she shivered in the cold, already she was beginning to relax, settling herself against him and sure that the worst was already past.

Once inside, Aoshi walked straight to the bathing area, set her on the ground and started running the hot water.

"Aoshi..." Meg began.

But he was already beginning to stew.  The muscles in his jaw rigidly worked with each movement of his body.

Going to the closet, he retrieved a towel and set it on the floor in front of the bathtub, his gun sitting on top.  The woman watched as he pushed the curtain to the side, giving a bather full view of the door.

"Wait here.  I'll be back.  I need to conduct a bit of business," with that, he stomped out and slammed the door.

'Oookay...somebody's packin' a lot of heat.'

Aoshi knew where he was going.  He'd been waiting for an excuse for a long time.  Stepping up to the cabin, he used his elbow to shatter the glass and unlock the door.

"What the..."  Kanryuu stopped grooming himself in the mirror, eyes wide with surprise.

Rushing at him, Aoshi kneed him in the gut, the other captain's skull cracking hard against the bathtub behind him.  Straddling the other man, the Hitokiri's eyes narrowed dangerously, one hand curling tightly around Takeda's neck and the other fisted to beat the man's face senselessly.  A streak of blood splattered itself across Aoshi's cheek.

"Do you want me to tell you something, Takeda?" Aoshi ground out, his voice strangely hollow and sinister.  "No one, and I mean no one touches what is mine.  You were lucky to have your slack-jawed pageboys with you."  Leaning forward, he whispered in Kanryuu's ear, similarly to how it was done to him previously.  "But now no one is here to save you.  And you will feel ten times the amount of pain given to Dr. Takani as I peel your skin off and disembowel you with my bare fingers."

The abject fear in Kanryuu's eyes was satisfying.  But it wasn't enough.  Whispering in an even quieter voice, he said, "And I will take pleasure from watching you suffer."

Pulling back to strike him again, a voice at the door interrupted, "Shinomori!"

Aoshi glared at Captain Hajime Saitou.  "Get out, this is none of your business."

"Don't be stupid, Shinomori.  He's not worth it."

"You have no idea," he said darkly.

Walking deeper into the room, Saitou nodded towards the door.  "Go take care of your woman.  I'll take care of our good friend Takeda."

Revenge was thick on his mind.  And yet, the red haze had begun to fade from his eyes.  Reluctantly, Aoshi rose from his position, Kanryuu gasping for breath.  He took one last look before crossing the threshold and heading back home.

Slowly, Saitou walked up to the bloody captain and placed a boot on his chest.  He bent over him with a small smile.  "Let's see what you know, shall we?"

Clean with a new set of clothes and toweling dry her hair, the door creaked open and Megumi scrambled for the gun she'd left on the bed.

"Wait," the figure said.

Shakily, the doctor lowered the pistol and watched Aoshi step into the room.  "Oh god...I almost shot you."

"But you didn't.  That's the difference between you and me."  He moved to wedge a chair firmly beneath the doorknob before standing in front her.

Meg reached up to touch the dried blood on his cheek.  "You're not like them, Aoshi."

His hair was still mussed, the look in his eyes cooling slowly.  He clasped her hand to his chest.  "I am."

"No…"  Megumi stepped closer to him, already barely touching him.  "You are an honorable man.  A sound protector.  And an excellent captain..."  Tipping her head up with a smirk, "...my captain."

Aoshi placed his hands on her waist and tilted his head to kiss her.

It was funny, here was their first shared kiss, but there were no fireworks, no marriage proposals, nor a wild, passionate embrace.  It was pure and full of all the hopes neither could ever say.

They were awakened by a ruckus outside.  Whatever was going on, the camp seemed to be in chaos.  Aoshi picked a note off the floor, which had been hastily scrawled and shoved underneath the door.  It read:  It is done.

Immediately, the Hitokiri roused the doctor and began packing essentials.

"Aoshi...what's going on?"

He did not pause in his movements.  "During the night, Saitou finally got Shishio.  It's time to go.  A riot may soon start up."

Running out the door with a few belongings stuffed in bags, a gruesome sight awaited them.  Un-born ran frantically about, Hitokiris were burning papers, and on a stake in the ground was Kanryuu Takeda's head.  Aoshi smiled to himself, ushering Megumi on her way.

'You're a sick bastard, Saitou, but I appreciate the gesture.'

Together, they jumped into a jeep and rode off, leaving behind tragedy, despair and blood.

End Notes:  I apologize if I was too graphic, or not graphic enough!  (definitely a wide range of audiences)  It's my story and I'm stickin' to it.  :P

Last year, I did a project on "captor" and "captive" relationships.  It is actually true that if someone is in a hostage situation long enough, they will start to sympathize and even fall in love with their captors.  In actuality, it could take little more than a few days if in seclusion.

Originally, I was planning an epilogue with Meg and Aoshi living together and Soujiro popping up at the front door.  But when I got to the end, it seemed too heavy to end that way, so I'd rather leave it ambiguous.  It's neither happy nor sad.  I think I like stories like that.  Imagine away, folks.  HOPE YOU ALL ENJOYED!

Disclaimer:  I didn't want to spoil the fun at the beginning.  The slightly cut lyrics from Me and a Gun by Tori Amos supply the lovely detail in Meg's…um…unfortunate scene.  ^_^  A highly emotional song.  Check it out.  (It's a true-story song)