Author's Note: I've updated once again! I received quite a few reviews in the past week or two, and since I finally had free time due to Christmas break, I was spurred to write this. I still uphold the promise that I will never leave a story unfinished, even if it may take a while for me to update. I also must apologize, but I felt the need to up the rating of this story to R. I personally still consider it PG-13, but I'm terrified of the fanfiction guys removing it on me. I'm sorry about that.

Disclaimer: Never would I own such a magnificent work as Rurouni Kenshin! Lol.

Your Azure Eyes

Chapter 11: Sparkle Defiantly

The room was dark, and the acrid smell of death clung to the damp walls like the dirt and moss did. Kaoru's eyes flashed in the shadows. The single, dim light at the other side of the room did little to help her vision. She found herself staring at it, dreaming that it danced like a firefly before her eyes. She was drawn to that single light like a moth.

Every time she moved, the clanking of chains echoed off the stonewalls and rang loud in her ears. She winced, reaching her feet down, trying to touch the floor with her toes in order to ease the ache of her wrists. All of her weight rested on those chains holding her mere inches above the filthy cement floor. The initial stabbing pain she had felt the first few hours of hanging from the wall had subsided. After the blood had drained from her arms, as they were stretched high above her head, they had gone numb. She felt only a dull, yet constant ache.

Whenever the door at the top of the stairs opened, letting a steady stream of light into the dark basement, her heart leapt into her throat. They rarely fed her. It seemed the only reason one of them would come down was if they were bored or drunk and wanted to have some fun.

This time, as the door flew open and the padded footsteps reached her ears, she knew that she was about to be tortured again. The man covered in bandages, the one who had initially dragged her to the car that fateful day, shuffled over to her. She did not cringe, but dangled defiantly, her blue eyes flashing with hate towards the man.

And then he was right next to her, only inches away. She could feel his hot breath on her bare neck, since they had stripped her of her clothes, leaving her hanging shamefully in her undergarments. The pungent smell of liquor reached her nose, causing her to turn her head away from the man in order to breathe.

A slight chuckled escaped the man's lips. She did not need to watch his silhouetteilluminated by the pitiful light, but because of how close he was to her, she could sense him move. His hand came up, and his cold fingers stroked her cheek, and then moved down to her neck… Slowly they continued their decent. Kaoru began to struggle against her bonds. She had promised herself that, even though she was basically helpless in this place, she would always put up a fight when they tried something.

Suddenly, the man stopped. He grabbed her shoulder, crunching it painfully beneath his grasp. "Bitch…" He growled as his grip tightened, causing Kaoru to cry out in pain.

"You think you're so perfect, don't you?" His grip loosened, and he shuffled closer to her, till Kaoru had no choice but to look him in the eyes. "When you walk by a crowd of people, they all turn their heads for you. I've watched you. I've seen you purposefully shift your hips from side to side and flip back your hair… You know why they're looking at you." He crudely grabbed her chest, "They want your body. Whether it be a lustful wanting, or an envious one. But if any one of them were to try and take what you so blatantly offer, you would deny them." He brought up another hand to clasp her bottom. Kaoru cringed and began to struggle against the bonds on her wrists. She twisted them back and forth… Hoping that this would be the day that her unrelenting pressure on the chains would cause them to release her.

The man continued, either oblivious to her efforts, or simply ignoring them, "So why suggest it in the first place?" He drunkenly sneered at her. "Power. Your body and looks bring you unimaginable power over other people. The type of power that people like me will never know."

His hands left her body. She could see him shuffle into the purple cloak he wore over his bandages. A sharp click reached her ears as she saw the glint of a pocketknife.

"But people like me," He continued, raising the knife to her face; making sure that she could see it, "People like me can have power in another way. A way that's even more commanding that yours." Kaoru felt the cold of the knife against her check as he stroked her skin with the side of the blade, "We rule by fear. Fear that we earn."

Kaoru whimpered quietly. Her eyes began to fill with tears.

"So what can I do to make you feel like you're below me, where you belong. Just because you have a pretty face doesn't make me unworthy to be in your presence, highness." He grinned. She could see the glint of his yellowed teeth in the dim light. "I can do the awfully clichéd thing. Cut up your face until you're unrecognizable…"

Kaoru let out a louder whimper, the tears streamed down her face and the need to cry burned in the back of her throat.

"But your face doesn't matter. You hide it anyway. It's this body… This body is where you get your power." He took a step back and regarded her for a moment.

"What should I do? Shall I cut off a limb? How about I write my name across that ever so perfect chest of yours…?"

Kaoru winced and turned her head away, trying to hide her tears… trying to hide her weakness.

"Oh no you don't," He growled, grabbing her chin and painfully wrenching her head so that she faced him, "You can't hide from this. It's real, just like this blade is real." Kaoru trembled in utter horror as she felt the cold steal of the blade cut a sharp line down her left arm, but she would not allow herself to make a sound.

"This isn't some magazine spread. The pain I imagine you feel is genuine." He chuckled a bit, spreading the blood along her arm that pored from her wound with the blunt edge of the knife. "Seeing your face contorted in pain is so… inspiring for me."

"Stop! State your name and business with The Master."

Kenshin glared at the teen that so pitifully pointed the sword at his chest. He could see that the boy was literally shaking with fear and uncertainty. He must have only recently been instated the position as The Master's gatekeeper.

"I demand to speak to Katsura." Kenshin continued to stare down the shivering boy, who seemed utterly flabbergasted by the fact that this trespasser had known, let alone used, 'The Master's' given name.

"O-Only people with appointments can go in." The boy stuttered.

Kenshin sighed inwardly. He took a quick glance around the place he found himself in. The dark and dank alley was crawling with rats, mice, and the various creatures that hunted them. He had no doubt that the entire block hid gang members at every corner, just waiting to jump to the aid of this quivering teenager.

Making his decision, Kenshin took a risky step forward, clicking the reverse blade sword that hung at his waist out of its sheath. He stopped mere inches from the boy, letting the dull snapping sound of the blade popping out of its casing echo menacingly through the alley.

"I said I had business with Katsura. Let me in now, or it'll be your head." Anyone trained well enough in the art of swords and combat would have known that the words and the sword were a bluff. Making his bluff obvious saved Kenshin from the hassle of being attacked by the gang members that swarmed this building. But, he knew full well that the untrained and inexperienced youth would take his threat for real.

"O-okay!" The boy said quickly with only a moment's hesitation. He quickly unbarred the door he had been guarding, and stepped aside to allow the trespasser to enter.

But Kenshin knew it would not be this easy. He had seen the perspiration dripping down the boy's face and arms. Not necessarily out of fear, but out of anxiousness to finish the scheme he had created to stop this red headed man from entering the building.

Just as Kenshin's back was to the boy as he walked through the doorway, he was forced to twist around and unsheathe his sword to block a deadly blow aimed for a clean beheading. With a quick twist, Kenshin unlocked their swords, and a blow to the shoulder ended his troubles with the pitiful teen.

Kaoru shook uncontrollably with fear as the man in bandages ran the bloody dagger across her body, leaving trails of her own blood across her pale skin.

"Now, what would cause the most damage…?" He muttered, watching with a sick fascination as the blood began to dry and coagulate. Kaoru stayed quiet, trying to fight back her tears, though they still rolled down her face.

"I have an idea," The man said, an evil smile appearing on his face, "Since I can't figure out which part of your body to maim, I'll just have to disfigure every inch of you. I'm sure that will shove you back in the right place."

This time, Kaoru did scream as the cold blade cut into her flesh.

As Kenshin stepped into the building, he remembered how different it was from the outside. While the grimy bricks cast a dull gray color over the building, giving it the look of an abandoned shell, the inside was bright with red silk and gold accents. The rug underneath Kenshin's feet alone was probably worth a fortune. He assumed that the gold threads that ran through it were real and of the finest money could buy. No expense was spared for The Master.

Deliberately pushing all of his training as a Mitsurugi hitokiri out of his head, Kenshin did not bother to take off his shoes as he walked down the long hallway to the stairs. When he arrived at the top of the stairs, he shouldered past the butler, and ignored the indignant squealing of the secretary sitting outside of The Master's office. The only thing that made him pause were the guards at the door. But with a dangerous flash of his golden eyes, Kenshin was allowed entrance into the room.

"Katsura Kogoro." Kenshin growled to the back of a red leather chair that slowly swiveled back and forth.

Extra Author's Note: You may remember Katsura Kogoro as the man who told Kenshin who and when to kill from the Trust and Betrayal series. If not, then just pretend that you do! Lol.