warning: This fic is based on the manga and contains major spoilers for the Jinchuu Arc.

author's note: This fanfiction is an alt. pairing/alt. ending fic based on the manga. It's basically the result of the question: "What would happen if Kenshin never left Rakuninmura?" Since we all know that Kenshin DID leave Rakuninmura the fact that he doesn't in this fanfiction can only mean one thing: Kenshin is out-of-character. But he's only OOC due to his depression lasting a few days longer than it did in cannon. I do my very best to keep all of the characters 'in character.'

Save for the prologue below, this fic occurs shortly after the events of chapter 214 of volume 24 ("Enishi's Lapse"). Later chapters assume that the events of chapter 224 of volume 25 ("Reality") never happened.

This fic assumes that Oibore's attempts to reach Kenshin ended in failure, and therefore, he never "came to his senses" in time to save Yahiko and eventually confront Enishi.

disclaimer: I do not own Rurouni Kenshin. I never claimed to own Rurouni Kenshin. I wish I owned Rurouni Kenshin. Then maybe I could pay off my mortgage and quit my job or something cool like that. Alas, I cannot. I'm only a fanfiction writer and I do this sort of thing just for fun. Watsuki Nobuhiro, Jump Comics, Shueisha, Sony Picture Entertainment, Fuji Television, Media Blasters and Viz Comics own the right to make money off Rurouni Kenshin.

Bummer.


Catharsis

malefaction
.:prologue:.


The gentle squeak of a door opening down the hall instantly stilled their conversation. Both men paused, waiting and listening. Seconds later, the floorboards groaned in confirmation. The girl was awake.

Sighing tiredly, Enishi ran a hand through his disheveled white hair. He was in no mood to deal with a frightened girl. Or a weepy one, for that matter. He just wanted to send his lackeys away and get some much needed rest. His body was beyond tired.

"It seems you didn't use enough chloroform," Gein whispered, his eyes dancing behind his skull mask. "Somehow I'm not surprised. She's about the same age as your sister—"

Eyes narrowed and expression tight, Enishi cut him off with a withering glare. He was in no mood to discuss why the girl was suddenly awake when they had expected her to sleep for at least another couple of hours. She would have to be dealt with before she wandered too far. Dismissing Gein with a single gesture, Enishi moved silently through the hallways intent on intercepting the girl before she found the stairs that led to the beach below. He found her just as she stepped beyond the threshold of the house and onto the balcony, a shocked gasp stealing her breath as she took in the view before her.

Ocean. Miles and miles of ocean...

Expression impassive, Enishi stepped beyond the threshold as well. Perhaps he could crush her desire to flee by simply explaining the futility of escape. She would remain with him until his Jinchuu was complete.

"It's no use trying to run away," he said.

She spun around at the sound of his voice, her blue eyes fierce and teeth bared. Her body was poised to attack as her thin arms immediately went up over her head with a vase held tightly between her hands.

He nearly scoffed aloud. That was her weapon? A vase? If it had been any other time or situation, Enishi would have laughed. Instead, he found himself suddenly struck by the strangeness of her. She wasn't at all what he expected. Where was her grace? Her calm? Kaoru Kamiya didn't even stand like his sister. She seemed hard where nee-san seemed soft. Kamiya was a tomboy. Nee-san was a lady. One was an antithesis of the other.

'Why her?'

They regarded each other silently. He could feel her gaze move over his body as she slowly lowered the vase until she held it gently in front of her. She took in his obvious fatigue and recently bandaged injuries with slightly widening eyes. Was he more injured than she expected? Perhaps. When her lips parted soundlessly as she surveyed his arm held secure in a sling he wondered why she didn't try then to run. Or did she know she had no chance of escape, even with his injuries?

'She's a pretty girl,' Enishi thought, noting the anxious flush of her cheeks and intelligent alertness of her eyes. He could see the kendo training in her as she sought out his weaknesses. 'But not like nee-san.'

"This is a deserted island," he said. "My organization uses it as a relay station to ship goods by sea to Tokyo. It's at least twenty kilometers to the nearest island and the waters are infested with sharks."

She swallowed hard, but said nothing. Pushing an errant lock behind her ear, she gave his words her full attention.

"On top of that," he continued, "except for the inlet you see before you, it's all sheer vertical precipice. Aside from the weekly ferry, no one can get in or out."

Kamiya glanced behind her, showing Enishi her profile.

"In short," he said, "this island is a natural prison." He stepped past her then, walking a few feet from where she stood and gazed out over the ocean. It was almost over. All the pain, the nightmares, the rage...

It was really almost over.

"You'll just have to be patient," he said quietly. "Sooner or later, I'll send you home. Back to Tokyo."

She said nothing for several seconds. He felt her gaze fixed upon his face, her expression still even as she clenched the vase against her. He was certain she was only a few heartbeats away from crying. Breathing deeply, he waited for the inevitable.

"How soon will that be?" she asked, her voice steady.

He looked at her and saw the raw concern in her eyes. Concern for the monster that murdered his sister. A surge of hate moved through his body as a predatory smirk lifted his features, 'As soon as Battousai dies...'

Kamiya nervously swallowed, but said nothing.

Glancing away from her, he tried to reign in his sadistic glee at her obvious distress for the man he loathed more than anything. Let her wrestle with fear for a while, let her taste the torment of nagging worry. Her kindness for the Battousai deserved a bit of punishment, too, and he was happy to give it to her.

"Well," he said, finally, "it won't be much longer now."

When he looked at her again he was pleased to see that his answer did nothing to deflate her worry. Neither spoke for several seconds as the ocean lapped the shore, then he felt her move closer to him and knew she was steeling herself. He was grudgingly impressed that she even had to courage to speak to him, let alone approach him.

"Just tell me one thing," she said, voice still amazingly calm. "Why didn't you kill me? I was certain your plan was to... to kill me."

Silence was her only immediate reply. Of all the things to say at that moment, that was what she wanted from him? Not, 'please let me go' or 'don't kill him' - it was, 'Why didn't you kill me?' He was tempted to ask her if she was disappointed, but he quickly found himself wondering at the strangeness of her once again.

'Why her? Why did Battousai choose her as a replacement for nee-san?'

The Kamiya girl was most certainly attractive. She had a heart-shaped face, lovely mouth, long black hair and attentive eyes. Her body was well proportioned and toned due to her training, which made her a bit less curvy than most women her age, but not in an unappealing way. He could see she had some physical strength, yet she was still distinctly feminine. When he first learned that she taught kendo he had expected her to be a bit more masculine. She clearly wasn't. Kamiya had already surprised him by not sobbing or begging. She treaded carefully around him, but not so much as to be completely passive. He knew that she would fight him if she felt it was necessary. Most women in her position would simply submit.

Nee-san, for all of her beauty and intelligence, was a lady first and in all things. Kamiya was still unmarried, lived unconventionally with an orphaned boy and a wandering assassin. On top of that, she often dressed in men's clothing and taught kendo. Kamiya's hands were small and calloused. Nee-san's hands had been small and soft.

'Why her?'

Bone-weary, Enishi turned away from the girl and started toward the house. He would have plenty of time to consider the Kamiya girl after a much needed nap.

He could feel her anxious gaze upon him as he reached to pull open the door. He still hadn't answered her question. Nor did he want to. The simple fact was his Jinchuu would be far more effective if he had killed the girl in front of Battousai. Himura deserved to feel the torment of being unable to stop the slaughter of someone dear. That would be true justice.

Still, he felt she deserved a small reward for not crumbling into an annoying heap of tears and panic. He decided then that he wouldn't confine her to her room. Let her wander the property. Standing in the doorway, Enishi considered telling her of the freedom that she had unknowingly won for herself but decided against it. She would learn soon enough that there was no place for her to go. As he peered at the crux of his Jinchuu he finally answered her question in the only way he felt comfortable.

"My decision not to kill you is something we never need to discuss."