A Rurouni Kenshin/ On a Pale Horse Crossover
By Ashley Auld
* Disclaimer* All rights to the Rurouni Kenshin Characters
are Watsuki-sama's, Jump Comics, etc. All right to the character
" Incarnations" Are property of Piers Anthony. There are references
made to his book " On a Pale Horse." But you do not need to have read the
book to understand what is happening. =) This is only a little fanfic by
a crazed Kenshin fan, I'm a poor college art student, and not even worth
Well, I came up with this fic when I still believed Kaoru was dead. But I liked the idea of it so much that I decided to keep on writing it. (Even though it's been established that, yes… she IS alive) Consider this a "what if this happened" fic. Kind of like an alternative where Enishi does actually kill her. I know, it sounds awful, but believe me; this ISN'T going to be depressing! I'm determined to make it happy! And to appease all those Kenshin and Kaoru fans out there…well… >=)
A little pre-fanfic know-how about "On a Pale Horse."
The incarnations mentioned in this fic are taken from " On a Pale Horse." In Piers Anthony's book, he takes these aspects of life and creates people for them-- much like we imagine there being a "Father Time," and a "Mother Nature." Here, I will be making references to human incarnations of " Death," "Fate," "Time," and "Nature." ( So far-- I don't know what other ones I shall bring in from his book yet.)
Oh-- Death also rides a horse, Mortus, which can also conveniently be a car (limo), boat, etc. Whatever Death might need as a mode of transportation in the moment.
Kaoru's body felt strangely light. It was as if she was
floating on air. She opened her eyes and looked around her in surprise.
She WAS floating!
" Nani?" She said it quickly with growing disbelief. She was in the dojo; the entire room was silent. She couldn't hear a thing; the silence was overwhelming, almost suffocating. She looked below her and froze in shock.
Her eyes fell on herself! Her lifeless body propped up against the sidewall of the dojo; a sword cruelly imbedded in her heart. She gasped and then looked frantically around.
" No-- No this isn't happening!! NO!" She wanted to scream, to cry aloud. But she couldn't make her voice raise any higher than a small squeak of horror. She was steadily floating upward. She tried to angle her way down; she didn't want to leave. She extended her arms and tried with all her might. But the attempt was useless. It was as if there were a magnet connecting her with the ceiling and there was no way to escape.
" Let it go…"
Kaoru stopped her feeble attempt and looked up from where the soft woman's voice came. A sudden light appeared above her and it spread it's gentle, warm glow on Kaoru. For a moment, she felt at peace and stopped her struggle, letting herself float slowly upward. But a sudden wail in back of her instantly halted her approach towards the light. She looked back in shock to see Kenshin stumble into the room. He stared at her empty, lifeless eyes and fell to his knees. His sword clattered to the ground.
" Kenshin-" She turned from the light and tried to go down towards him. She struggled with all her might against its pull on her. " KENSHIN!"
Again, the soft voice echoed in her mind. " Just let it go, Kaoru-san… You don't need to feel the pain anymore…"
" But-- Kenshin… NO! I can't leave him!" Tears streamed from Kaoru's eyes as the pull on her tightened. She continued to drift up against her will. She now saw Sano and Megumi enter the room and hung back in shock. Tears flowed from Kenshin's eyes.
" What was the meaning of Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu? What did it mean to be Himura Kenshin? Now, when I could not protect the one that I cared most about… Kaoru-dono…KAORU!"
That cry echoed in Kaoru's ears. She struggled against the gentle but forceful pull on her. " NO! LET ME GO BACK! NO! I CAN'T LEAVE HIM!"
Kaoru suddenly felt what seemed like soft hands on her shoulders. Their touch brought peace and she instantly relaxed. Tears continued to flow from her eyes, but she no longer felt the strength to resist. And she floated up towards the light.
They had buried Kaoru. Sano and Yahiko had come to try and
take Kenshin from Rakuninmura* time after time. But every attempt
to get him to snap out of his depression failed. Even Misao the weasel-girl
wasn't able to cheer him up. And she could usually cheer anyone up.
Kenshin sat against the wall, he hadn't moved from his position for days. His chained Sakaba sword lay on his shoulder and his empty eyes were downcast. The outcasts of the forbidden quarter had brought him some of what little food they had. It sat next to him untouched.
Kenshin closed his eyes, he felt himself growing weaker, slowly he would fade away, fade away from existence so that he couldn't live to harm anyone else. Why was it that everyone he cared for died? He must have been fated to be unhappy for the rest of his life.
A figure approached him garbed completely in black. Kenshin didn't look up. He didn't care. The unusual thing about the figure was that as it stepped, it made no sound. Kenshin didn't feel the impact of the steps on the ground. Maybe his senses were just dulling.
" Himura Kenshin…" The low voice was calm and commanding. The very sound of it sent a tremor up Kenshin's spine. He slowly raised his head and came face to face with… Death. Death looked down at him. He wore a long black hooded robe. He held a long scythe in one skeletal hand. The face peering down through the hood was no face, but a skull; his dark eye sockets glowed a faint red.
" Ahh… so you've finally come for me…" Kenshin looked down to the ground again. " I was wondering how long it would take for you to show up."
" I'm surprised," The voice behind the skull was actually soft, not cold or harsh as Death was normally portrayed. " Usually, people shy from my presence. But, do you know the reason I am here?"
" To take me to hell?"
Kenshin blinked and looked up at him again confused. " But-- then…"
" I only serve clients whose souls are in perfect balance; half way between good and evil. Every single soul has a balance, which determines whether or not they will go to heaven or hell. You're soul is in perfect balance between good and evil, and therefore, you will go to purgatory and I must judge you."
" Why are you telling me this?" Kenshin sighed heavily and hung his head. " I don't care where you take me, just get it over with, I'm tired of this life."
" Don't be in such a hurry, you're time isn't over yet." Death looked at a watch decorated with several colored jewels on his bony wrist. It was the only bit of color that he wore besides black. " You still have a day before you die of neglect."
" So, you'll extend my torture…"
" You still have a chance to save your soul-- If you die in this fashion, it is the same as committing suicide and that counts as sin. You're soul may be in balance, but when it comes time to judge you-- I will be forced to send you to hell because this final sin you are committing is unforgivable."
" I don't care…. I'm tired…" Kenshin closed his eyes. " I deserve to go to hell…"
" And-- what about the woman, Kamiya Kaoru-san waiting for you in Heaven?"
Kenshin's glance shot upward in surprise, but Death was already gone.
Kaoru didn't want to open her eyes, she was so comfortable and
she rolled over, trying to claim a little more sleep before the day started.
She always loved those lazy mornings where she could sleep in and not have
to worry about waking up early.
Still with eyes closed, she giggled at the thought of what Kenshin was doing this morning; he probably had breakfast ready for her, or was out doing the laundry as always. Yahiko was probably lounging about, He liked to wake up early and relax before she put him to work for the day.
Finally, she lazily sat up and stretched, arching her back and yawned. Then slowly opened her eyes.
"HUH?" Kaoru blinked and rubbed them, then looked again, this was not the dojo… it was not her bed that she was sleeping in. She looked around in shock, memory of the previous day suddenly registering in her mind. She was sitting on a low, fluffy cloud.
" Where?" Kaoru looked at the landscape about here. The ground was slightly foggy, as if made up of clouds. They gave the impression that you could sink straight through them. But apparently not, because there were large, leafy green trees dotting the plane, jutting out from the cloudy ground. Forests were in the distance and great snowy peaked mountains even farther. She was hovering over a rose garden with roses of every color; their fragrance was heavenly. At the center of the garden was a marble fountain. She noticed a woman seated by its side. The woman looked up at her and smiled warmly. Kaoru's cloud seemed to move of it's own free will, and it settled on the ground next to the woman.
Kaoru stood up and looked at her nervously. The woman that met her gaze was about her same height, with coal black hair cut in soft layers that framed her face. She was slim, wearing a snowy white Kimono, and she seemed to emit a soft yellow glow.
" Kamiya, Kaoru-san?" The woman asked inquisitively.
Kaoru slowly nodded. Where had she heard that voice before?
" Ahh-- welcome to heaven, Kaoru-san. My name is Tomoe. I was instructed to be here to help start things off and show you around, teach you the ropes…"
"TOMOE-SAN?" Kaoru's eyes widened. Now she remembered, that was the same voice that had called to her as she was pulled towards the light. Tomoe was beautiful… she felt a small pang of jealousy-- Kenshin had been married to such a beautiful woman.
Tomoe blinked confused. " Oh? Do you know me? That can't be true, I died before you were born…" She smiled and shook her head. " Well, that's not important."
Kaoru looked at Tomoe nervously. Tomoe produced a clipboard from thin air and studied it carefully. " Oh dear, died by the hands of a psycho named Yukishiro Enishi-- Hmm… why does that name sound familiar? Ah well…" She shrugged and then continued reading. Kaoru's eyes widened, Tomoe didn't remember?
" Tomoe-san… you don't remember your own brother?" Kaoru asked.
Tomoe looked up at her with one eyebrow raised.
"My brother? Is he really?" She looked at Kaoru sympathetically. " My-- no wonder the Archangel asked me to be the one to greet you…you were killed by my brother on earth? I'm very sorry."
" Oh, well-- it's not like it was your fault or anything." Kaoru looked at her nervously. She seemed so nice and lighthearted. Not the impression that she got when Kenshin had first told them about her. " But-- can I ask one question?"
" Ummm…how is it that you didn't know Enishi was your brother?"
" When you enter heaven, and go through initiation you loose all memories of your past life on earth."
Kaoru gasped. Forget everything?
Tomoe saw her reaction and then smiled reassuringly. " Many souls are unhappy for leaving their loved ones, or burdened by a harsh past life. But in heaven you are guaranteed happiness, therefore you remember nothing of your past life. In order to ensure you a happy afterlife, those memories are taken from you. In heaven you have no worries; no inhibitions; nothing weighs you down. You're light as a feather and float on clouds. You're lucky, Kaoru-san."
Kaoru downcast her eyes. Did she want to forget? Forget Everyone? Yahiko? Sanosuke? Megumi? Misao and Aoshi? And most of all Kenshin?
No--- she couldn't forget! She shook her head in protest.
" No! I don't want to forget Tomoe-san! Please, I don't want to forget him!"
Tomoe looked at her with compassion. " Who?"
" Kenshin!" Kaoru quickly put her hand to her mouth. She'd forgotten for a moment that Tomoe had once been his wife! Would she perhaps remember Kenshin? And, was it wrong to have feelings for him while standing right in front of his wife? She couldn't help but feel a little guilty.
Tomoe's expression didn't change from that of compassion and understanding. She flipped through a few pages of the file on her clipboard and read aloud.
" Himura Kenshin, former Hitokiri Battousai. Love of Kamiya Kaoru… Oh dear…"
She didn't seem to remember anything about Kenshin either. But, she could be faking it-- to not hurt Kaoru's feelings… Kaoru still refused to believe that she could have forgotten her own husband. Love was eternal, at least in her eyes it was.
Tomoe eyed her. "You don't want to forget Himura-san? It's true, you won't love him in the afterlife, because you will have no memory that you ever loved him."
" Do-- you remember Kenshin?"
" Himura-san? Should I?"
" Well, Like it or not, all angels must be initiated. Please follow me."
Tomoe began to walk from the rose garden. Kaoru followed behind in deep thought.
"Ano, Tomoe-san, it was you who called me wasn't it?"
" But, why did you do that? I wanted to stay on earth!"
" You can't stay on earth, only souls who have uncompleted jobs to do can stay on earth."
" But my job IS uncompleted! I left Kenshin like that! Who knows what he's going through!"
Tomoe stopped and turned to her with a sympathetic expression. " You really love Himura-san that much? I admire your caring heart. But your time on earth is over and it's time to move on. Don't you wish to be free from this worry? That is what you're getting… you'll be completely at peace here."
Kaoru stamped her foot; the cloud covered ground rose up like a cloud of dust around her as she stamped. " I don't WANT to be at peace! I WANT to go back to earth and SEE KENSHIN!!!"
" There is a way…"
Kaoru stopped and her mouth dropped open in surprise. " HOW?! HOW CAN I?" " When we get to initiation, you're to be weighed…"
" To see the balance of your soul." Tomoe smiled at her. " It's over 50% good, which is the reason you're in Heaven, if you're soul is over 90% good, then you can earn the rank of Guardian Angel, and are granted wings."
" Guardian Angel?" Kaoru's eyes widened. " Wait-- could I be.. KENSHIN'S Guardian angel!?"
Tomoe smiled and they stopped on a thick cloud formation at the foot of a hill. There was a Greek style Acropolis at the top of the hill. The cloud lifted like an elevator, and effortlessly brought them towards what looked like a giant Parthenon.
" Well, if you are lucky enough to be granted it, you'll have to go through angel training for a century or two… then, you'll be a full Guardian Angel-- you're the guardian of whoever you're assigned to."
They stopped and both stepped off the cloud and it floated back to the ground. Kaoru looked up at the giant Parthenon. Fluted columns made of sparkling clear marble stood strong on top of the steeped stylobate. In the fashion of the Ionic order, the capitol at the top of the column was rounded and shaped like two waves curling in on each other. There was a continuous frieze running just below the triangular shaped pediment. (Jeez-- you know when I've been reading TOO much Art History!) Angels were sculpted, sitting along the frieze and doing a variety of peaceful things. One played a flute, another a harp, others sang and danced, in the center was a male figure of a mighty angel that looked over all. The Archangel. )
" Wow-- it's amazing!" Kaoru stood breathtaken. Tomoe grinned.
" They all say that! This is where the Archangel will weigh you to see what ranking of angel you are."
" Oh yeah!" Kaoru had almost forgot. "Can I be Kenshin's Guardian Angel?!"
" Chances are VERY slim Kaoru-san. There aren't many Guardian Angels in the world, more and more people fall into sin these days… and very few humans on earth are granted the guidance of a Guardian Angel, simply because they're so hard to find. But, you said you wanted to go back to earth, and that is the only way that I know how."
" But-- what if I request Kenshin?"
" You won't even remember him."
" But-- I can ask for him before my memory is erased!" Kaoru was determined to return to him, even if it was as an angel. And she would definitely remember him! How could she forget all the happy times? The sad times? The painful times? She formed a strong picture of him in her mind, she silently vowed NEVER to forget it.
Tomoe laughed. " Don't get ahead of yourself, You don't even know if you fall under 90% good."
" What were you?"
" 55% good."
" It's because of the way I died. I don't remember of course, but I think I brought about my own death. I was lucky that I didn't go to hell, God took pity on me cause I was so unhappy during my life."
Kaoru bit her lip, she knew exactly how Tomoe had died, and that death had caused immeasurable suffering for Kenshin and everyone. And here, Tomoe didn't even remember any of it!
" Tomoe-san…" She clenched her fists determined. " I'll become a guardian angel and go to earth…and I'll see Kenshin again."
" Well, good luck Kaoru-san." Tomoe stopped at the stepped Stylobate to the Parthenon. Kaoru took a deep breath and stepped up, entering into the building.
Death walked out of Rakuninmura as silently and stealthily as he'd come.
He passed by a few vagabonds; they took no notice of him. To them,
he was an insignificant figure, one who passes and then is instantly forgotten.
Death walked across the street to his waiting steed and mounted the pale
" That boy… he doesn't deserve hell-- After all he's done for the world… Damn it, I hate this stupid system. "There's got to be something that can pull him out of his depression in the next 24 hours."
Death reclined in his easy chair at his mansion in purgatory. He didn't have his black cloak on, and without it he looked like a normal, living human being. He wasn't particularly handsome. His teeth were crooked and he was a skinny pole of a man. About in his mid 30's with a few wrinkled worry lines on his pale visage. He sipped a drink and flipped on the TV.
" Today's news. Lucifer has stepped down to a new leader, one Makoto Shishio who's balked him time and again in various political speeches. This Shishio which will be known as the Devil from now on claims to reform and glorify Hell. His new slogan campaign "The Strong Survive and the Weak Perish," will be recorded in History as the means to Lucifer's defeat."
Death sighed and turned off the TV. "What is the Afterworld coming to?"
His Butler handed him a letter.
" You're mail, sir…"
" Ahh-- thank you." Death opened the letter and read.
" Dear Death, You suck-- why'd you have to take my daddy?
I hate you.
Death rolled his eyes. " Another one? I can't do anything right…"
He took up a pen and some paper and responded…
" Dear Hilary,
I'm writing in response to your letter concerning the death of your father. I'm very very sorry, I know it must have been a truly tragic experience for you and your family. But sometimes people's Fates are chosen for them…"
Death trailed off and stopped the letter, thinking hard.
" Fate's are chosen for them… Fate--" He dropped the pen and picked up the phone, dialing a number quickly.
Two rings… Three.
" Damn it, Fate-- pick up the phone!"
" Hello?" The voice of a practical woman answered. " Fate speaking."
" Fate! I'm glad you're there. It's Death."
" Thanatos! It's so NICE to hear from you! So what's up?"
" I need to speak to you, this is urgent."
" I'll be right there Death. Anything for you my boy."
The phone clicked and Death hung up a moment later with a loud sigh.
" She still treats me like a kid-- Jeez… I'm only a few millenniums younger…"
A moment later the butler appeared.
" Fate is here to see you sir."
" Please send her in."
" Yes sir."
The butler vanished and a moment later a middle aged, plump lady walked in. She was rather plain, wearing a Grey business suit and her mousy colored hair was tied back in a tight bun at the nape of her neck. She gave Death a rosy cheeked smile.
" Death! Tell me, what's so urgent?"
The butler left and closed the door. Death offered her a chair, which she accepted.
" I need you to check your threads for me… the fate of Himura Kenshin…"
" Oh my-- that one? He's such a legend around here…" She drew up her hands and long thin threads formed in what looked like a game of cats cradle. She judged it carefully.
" He's got 15 hours left until he dies. The poor guy is killing himself with neglect and abject depression."
" Damn it-- I know that… But-- you can CHANGE that fate! Can't you?"
Fate blinked twice in astonishment. " Oh no-- I'm NOT getting myself tangled up in one of your schemes…"
" Please Fate, I'm asking a favor-- remember the time I got you out of trouble with Nature?"
" The matters between Nature and I have NOTHING to do with this! Don't even THINK about blackmailing me Death-- "
" You're my last hope-- It's your job right? You judge the fates of every human on earth! Why can't you just cross a few threads of Himura Kenshin's Fate?"
" The only person who can change his fate, is Himura Kenshin himself--" Fate shook her head, she suddenly changed into a young, slender, bouncy teenager. She began to spin the threads on her fingers. Her voice had changed higher and was carefree.
" I only spin the threads of fate…"
She then turned to her former appearance, a middle-aged lady, and her voice back to its sensible sounding bravado.
"… And I may judge the threads of fate."
Then she turned to an old crone; her voice scratched and dry.
" And I may cut the threads of fate… deciding when they should end…"
She turned back to the middle-aged lady again. " But I can't change them once they've been spun! I don't want to get fired…I like my job."
" You don't understand, Himura Kenshin will go to hell if he dies as you see in your threads."
Fate stopped in mid sentence and gaped at him. " Really?"
" Yes-- he's in my jurisdiction, if he kills himself, the scale will be tipped, and he's going to Hell."
Fate was quiet for a long time. Finally said, " Ok ok-- What can I do?"
" If you can't change his fate… is there any alternate realities? Consider if he lived, what would happen?"
She consulted her threads, moving a few and crossing some paths. " Well, There is only one way that he can live…"
" Which is?"
" If he gets Kamiya Kaoru back."
" But-- she's dead. She went to heaven yesterday."
She switched a few more threads around and then shook her head. " Well, That is the ONLY way he will live. Believe me… all other ways point to the inevitable."
Death ran a thin hand through his black hair in frustration. " Damn it-- well… consider that Kamiya Kaoru WAS still alive and with him, what would happen?"
Fate consulted the threads. " Considering that she comes back to him, alive and well, he will recover, punish Enishi to a fitful extent for what he did… and then live happily with her for the rest of his life. He'll have 2.5 kids, a dog, and a dojo… and live to be… umm, " She turned to the crone, "… 60 years old."
Death scowled. " But, Kamiya Kaoru is DEAD! How can she-- " Then he trailed off… " Wait-- what if…"
" Oh dear me… what's on your mind? I don't like that sly look--"
" She went to heaven yesterday didn't she? She's probably been weighed then, right?"
Fate saw where he was going and put up her hands.
" Don't look at me, I haven't checked the scale charts for the incoming souls in the past few days…"
" But-- if she's over 90%…"
" Well-- the girl was pure and innocent… it's possible."
"THANKS FATE!" Death jumped up and gave the old woman a hug. She turned into the bouncy young teenager and drew back from him aghast.
" Death! You naughty boy-- you know Time will get jealous if he sees us together!"
" Oh-- stop joking… I wouldn't get in between you and Time. You know that. But, I really do thank you for your help."
She winked at him.
" No prob! Please call again. Good luck, Himura sure doesn't deserve Hell, that's for sure. I hope you know what you're doing though. " Then she disappeared.
Death grabbed his black cloak on the way out the door. He put it on with the hood over his head and his image of a normal person instantly became that of a skeleton.
Once outside his pale, palomino Stallion galloped up to him from a distant field. Death patted his mane.
" Take me to the central computer at Purgatory Mortus."
The horse tossed its long white mane and Death mounted the saddle. Then they were off and a moment later in the central chamber of the main computer. Death had special access to the computer because it was where he weighed his souls.
He walked up to the computer and typed in his password. Then his inquiry.
The computer took a moment to process, but the result sent a smile to his face underneath that bony mask.
" Kamiya Kaoru, age 17, died September 8 (date chapter 207 was published in Japan), 1880. Good 92%, Evil 8%.
He turned from the computer and mounted Mortus again.
" Take me to Heaven Mortus."
Kaoru sat perched on a cloud outside under a shady tree. She stretched
and her long white wings arched high in the air. Unlike Tomoe, she
emitted a much brighter glow, her Gi and Hakama that she'd arrived in was
replaced by a snowy white off the shoulder Kimono with long sleeves and
a light purple silk Obi, tied in back with an elegant bow that flowed down
to the ground.
" Kaoru-san?" The teacher eyed her and the two other angels in the class turned to her. Kaoru sighed loudly, intending to hide a yawn.
" Yes, Juniperia-sensei?"
" You understand the importance of this class don't you? You're going to be a Guardian Angel for a human in trouble. One that needs guidance."
" I know that-- I'm sorry… I'll pay attention." Kaoru looked so sweet and innocent, Juniperia-sensei sighed and then returned to her lesson. She was a tall angel with large white wings and wore a Greek style white robe. Her silvery hair was done up in a bun and her fair skin showed few wrinkles.
" The first and foremost thing a Guardian Angel must know is the rules of the handbook. I've given each of you a copy. There aren't many rules, the first one is the most important. Please open to page 1."
Kaoru opened the book, the characters were not Japanese, but she could read them with no effort at all. She didn't really notice their difference, because she'd forgotten that the home she had once lived in was Japan. She spoke the language of Angels now. A most archaic language consisting of nothing more than different pitched chirps and coos… as if a bird would try and talk.
" Rule number 1…" Juniperia-sensei read from the handbook. " You read it, Kotori-san."
A young angel with flowing golden hair looked down at the book. " Clients are always free to do what they wish, never impress your views or make them do something they're not sure about. The most important aspect of being a Guardian Angel is building trust between you and a client."
" I have a question!" Kaoru raised her hand. Juniperia-sensei nodded to her to continue.
" Well… will we speak and communicate all right? We don't speak the same language as any of the languages on earth--"
" On the contrary, you know every language there is to know on earth."
" Really?" Kaoru's eyes widened.
" Yes-- you just have to listen. Next rule?"
Another young angel, with long brown hair tied high up in a ponytail raised her hand.
" Nanami-san-- Please read."
" Rule number 2, you may make yourself known only to the client and the clients immediate family or friends. No one outside that circle shall know you exist."
" That's a very important rule." The teacher went on. " If we have a ton of people all over the world knowing about Guardian Angels, then Heaven will get bombarded with prayers for them and we won't have enough Angels to answer them…. It can get messy."
" Can I read next?" Kaoru raised her hand. Juniperia-sensei smiled a nodded.
Kaoru read aloud. " Rule number 3, Guardian Angels may not have any romantic contacts, feelings, or affiliations with any mortals under any circumstances."
" That's right. And that's sometimes the hardest rule to follow. You all are God's messengers and you are to love and serve only God. Besides, you're client to one and only one mortal during their lifetime. It would be foolish to grow romantic attachments to them because you're life is eternal-- when they die--- You will continue to remain on earth and help the next client in need."
" What happens if we break one of the rules?" Nanami asked.
" If you break one, the punishment is severe. You risk losing your ranking, your wings, and could even be expelled from Heaven if the offense is bad enough."
" Where would you go?" Kaoru looked at her nervously.
" To Hell…"
" Wow, that's harsh…"
A figure in a black cloak approached the group and the teacher
looked up surprised to see Death standing in front of her. All of
the apprentice Angels gasped at him.
" Thanatos… since when do you pay visits to Heaven?" Juniperia-sensei said dryly. Death's gaze fell on Kaoru, she was staring at him wide eyed and a little frightened.
" I need to speak with you, this is a matter of the utmost urgency." Death said. Juniperia-sensei nodded and turned to her students.
" Please read the first chapter of your handbook while Death and I have a little chat."
They all clumped together and began whispering while the teacher walked off a distance with Death at her side.
" Is it really Death?" Kotori asked.
" Just look at the black cloak. I think it is!" Nanami said.
" What could Death want here though?" Kaoru couldn't shake the eerie feeling she was getting. Death had looked at her first and foremost. Even in those gaping eyeholes of the skeletal mask she saw the faint red glow directed towards her. What did he want?
" Out of the question!" Juniperia-sensei cried exasperated.
" She only just started training today!"
" I need Kaoru to go to earth and talk this man to his senses. If not-- he's going to go to Hell."
" What makes this man so special? Do you realize how many people have died of grief over loosing a loved one?"
" This man is Himura Kenshin."
The teacher gawked at him. " THE Himura Kenshin? Who caused the death of Shishio Makoto?"
" And who saved an entire country!"
" But-- How is it that he's going to Hell? He should surely be going to Heaven!"
Death sighed and explained the scenario to her. She glanced over at Kaoru who was watching them intently.
" I don't like this-- I'll send another Guardian Angel… If she was his former love… this could get VERY messy--"
" Only she will do. No other angel will be able to pull him out of his depression. Fate told me so."
" You talked to Fate? Well-- then I'll believe you… But--" She bit her lip nervously. "What does the Archangel say about this?"
" He's given me his permission. " Death grinned; the truth was that the Archangel owed him money-- so much in fact that Death agreed to just "forget" about it if he said "yes."
Death cleared his throat, "She may be a rookie, but she's the best thing for him right now."
" She doesn't even remember him."
" So we may not have any problems…"
" But-- we could GET problems… I NEVER unite Guardian Angels with their former lovers-- rule number 3 could get broken, then poor Kaoru-san could be in deep trouble."
" There's no other choice, I'll take responsibility for her-- she won't get into trouble, believe me!"
The woman angel stood silent for a long time and then finally buckled under Deaths penetrating gaze.
" Very well… I leave her in your care. When do you need her?"
" Right now."
" NOW!?" She almost burst. The three Angels looked up at her surprised. She quickly lowered her voice. " But-- just give me a few days to cram some Guardian Angel 101 into her… she doesn't even know the extent of her Heavenly powers yet!"
" I need her right now… He only has ten hours left."
" Give me seven hours…"
" Fine then, Six and a half."
" Fine-- I'll be back in six and a half hours."
The teacher shook her head and Death disappeared. She walked back to the small group.
" Class is dismissed for today."
The angels all exchanged glances and then chattered excited. Gathering up their books, they took into the air. Kaoru was about to follow when Juniperia-sensei called to her.
Kaoru stopped and hovered in mid air, looking down at her teacher puzzled.
" You stay here-- There is an urgent client that needs your attention."
" Himura Kenshin?" The name rolled off her tongue as if she'd
said those words five thousand times over. It was strangely familiar
to her-- though she couldn't quite understand why. It bugged her
not to know.
" But-- why me? Aren't there other angels more qualified?"
Juniperia-sensei bit her lip.
" This is a long, and a complicated story, Kaoru-san. It has to do with the way in which you died."
Kaoru's eyes widened.
" The Rurouni, Himura Kenshin was-- ummm-- a close friend of yours… and because he failed in preventing your death, he is killing himself with sorrow and neglect." " But-- why me?"
" Himura will go to hell unless you snap him out of his depression. Phanatos told me that you were the only one who could do that, namely because you were so close to him during your lifetime."
" But-- I've had my memory erased, why are you going to the trouble of telling me this?"
" As a Guardian Angel, you're first duty is to your client, you have a right to know. I suspect that--" she sighed heavily. " --You will learn well enough how you died when you go to earth. Don't you worry, Phanatos will watch over you."
" You mean, Death?"
" Yes-- Thanatos is the incarnation of Death. But he is not THE Death, THE Death died a long time ago."
Kaoru blinked confused. " But-- how can Death… die?"
" Death is immortal, but alive at the same time. He can be killed if caught without his protective black cloak around him. With that cloak on, nothing can harm him."
" What happens if Death dies?"
" The person who killed him takes his place."
" So-- you mean…"
" Yes, the current Death killed his predecessor. The current Death's name on earth was Zane before he became Phanatos."
Kaoru nodded in understanding. " Are incarnations powerful?"
" Oh yes-- very much so." She smiled at the Angel.
" Ok, so I'm to pull him out of his depression… What do I do after that?"
" Well, You stay with him I guess-- guide him, help him…" She wracked her brains. By normal Heaven standards, Kenshin was NOT the kind of person to get help from a Guardian Angel, he could usually take care of himself… but once he got himself a Guardian Angel, the rules were quite clear….
A client was always a client, until that client passed away to heaven or hell…hopefully heaven.
She bit her lip nervously. Would it be cruel to send him the woman
who he loved so much, but could never touch with love? It would be
horribly cruel… she didn't like it at all. But, she had already
consented to Death.
Kaoru saw her inner turmoil and absently bent one of her wings forward, cleaning the feathers with her fingers nervously. " Sooo-- is he nice?"
" Himura-san?" The teacher blinked, then relaxed and nodded. " Yes, he's very nice. I'm sure you two will get along well."
Kaoru smiled and then stood up. " Well-- I'm ready to go! Which way to earth?"
" Woah there! Hold on now we're not finished yet-- there's still a lot of things that we have to go over… now-- let's start with the rules again… tell me-- what is rule number 3?"
Juniperia-sensei drilled Kaoru for a good six and a half-hours
on rules, regulations, and Kaoru was also beginning to sense her various
powers. She could control her glow, fly relatively smoothly, understand
about 70 different languages (Japanese first and foremost). She was
given helpful hints on giving mortals advice, and above all-- lectured
quite extensively about rule number 3.
" So-- now what will you do?"
Kaoru rolled her eyes, and stated flatly. " I will not become romantically attracted, affiliated, or have any love relationship with Himura Kenshin! THERE! Are you happy now?!"
Juniperia-sensei nodded with approval as Death appeared. She stood up to greet him and Kaoru followed suit. The apprentice Guardian Angel looked at him a little nervously but managed a small bow of acknowledgement. Death inclined his head in return.
" Well-- I think that about wraps it up." Her teacher nodded with approval to Kaoru. "Good luck Kaoru-san. I know you'll do very well, you're a good Angel."
Kaoru grinned at her.
" Thank you Juniperia-sensei! I'll do my best!"
Her teacher smiled and waved as Kaoru lifted lightly into the air, Death was on his horse and close beside her. He leaned over towards her; Kaoru could almost see a smile on his skeletal face.
" Well-- shall we go?"
" Oh! Yes-- but, I don't know the way…"
" That's why I'm here." Death pushed a few colored buttons on his watch and then took off down the hill from the Parthenon. Kaoru followed him closely. As she sailed over the cloud-covered ground of Heaven, she saw Tomoe in the garden sitting underneath a plum tree. Kaoru waved to her. Tomoe's face lit up and she waved back exited.
" I KNEW YOU'D MAKE IT! GOOD LUCK KAORU-SAN!" Tomoe called.
" THANKS!" Kaoru waved back and they both disappeared from sight.
" But-- what is she doing with Death? And why is she going to earth so soon after her initiation?"
Kenshin hadn't moved from his position on the ground. His
eyes were downcast and his stomach was empty. But he felt no hunger.
He was empty. And he accepted it. He was only a shell of the person he
once had been.
" I'm nothing without her…" He closed his eyes, fleeting images of Kaoru drifted through his mind. The time he'd said goodbye to her as he left for Kyoto…She'd cried so much. It had pained him to turn his back, to walk away. But at that time he could reason it was for her own good.
Then there was the time before he was to set off to fight Shishio…
"Kenshin… we'll all go back home to Tokyo together…"
And when they'd finally returned…
"Kenshin, welcome home…"
And that time in the country, before Enishi's attack…?
"But Kenshin… I want you to be with me…forever…"
He'd never had a chance to tell her how he felt. He never
believed he was worthy of her… but he always wanted to protect her.
It had become his only way of expressing his feelings for her…and he'd
failed at even that.
He was a dreamer. What good was his Sakaba sword? All the ten years spent fighting to protect people? What good was it if he couldn't protect the one he loved and cared for the most?
Suddenly, as if from nowhere a warmth surrounded him. It was as if the cloudy Grey sky had opened, and a sunbeam was projected straight at him. Kenshin somehow found the strength to raise his head; his eyes opened slowly, the sight he beheld made him forget his weariness in an instant. His mouth gaped with disbelief, as the strong scent of jasmine seemed to envelop him.
The scent of Kaoru…
There was something coming down from that beam of light.
The form grew steadily as it came closer and closer. A giant white
bird? His vision was blurred but slowly focused to make out graceful
wings, which beat the air in great arcs and swoops. The features
became clearer. It was not a bird. But a woman, with long black
hair tied back with a light purple ribbon. Her off the shoulder kimono
was made of a thin, silky material that exposed the curves of her body.
Her light purple obi wrapped around her waist and ended in an elegant bow
with edges that trailed behind her in the air almost like two tail feathers.
She was breathtakingly beautiful. His eyes couldn't focus on her facial features. He was too distraught at this sudden apparition… apparition? Could he just be dreaming? Or maybe he's died and she's come for him… but-- if that was true, then a creature of such beauty could not be taking him to hell.
This couldn't be real…
The figure landed lightly in front of him and stood with her wings folded to her back, the light about her had not faded and she looked at him earnestly.
" …Kenshin…I've-- returned…"
Kaoru saw him as she approached from the air. He was staring
up at her in amazement and she wondered what he was thinking. Did
he recognize her? She felt a little guilty at not recognizing him.
But-- she SHOULD know him! If he was who her teacher had said he
" Red hair…"
That hair that fell matted and tousled over his empty, pain stricken face brought forth a strange feeling inside of her. Something in her burned… a memory? No-- she had none.
" Scars on his cheek…"
The cross scar sent a small shiver up her spine. She didn't know how he'd gotten it, but she had a strange feeling that it had to do with her death. Her heart seemed to ache in her chest. She took a deep breath and forced the feelings of nostalgia from her.
Death rode beside her on Mortus.
" Well, I shall take my leave."
" Nani? You're leaving now?" Kaoru looked at him frightened. "But-- what if I mess up! What if he doesn't come with me? What if he dies?"
" He won't die-- Fate said so. And, I don't think it will do him much good to see me. Good luck." Death nodded to her and then turned his horse and disappeared. Kaoru felt for a moment as though the last lifeboat was leaving her stranded on a sinking ship. She shook her head.
" No! Courage-- I'm a Guardian Angel now! I HAVE to help him!"
She landed in front of him. His face hadn't changed from one of unspeakable astonishment and bewilderment. She stood awkwardly for a moment, not knowing what to say. But then the words just welled up in her mouth of their own free will. It was as if there was a part of her that she didn't know sleeping deep inside her that was beginning to awaken.
"… Kenshin… I've-- returned…"
That voice, those words, the way she said his name. Kenshin's
heart felt as though it would burst. With all his strength he threw
aside his Sakaba and fell over on his hands and knees, his fists balled
Kaoru bit her lip. What could she say to comfort him? This
was already way too awkward for her--- she was supposed to act like she'd
known this man for a long time. But in truth had no idea exactly
who he was, or what their relationship had been… or even how to comfort
But Kenshin was the first to speak.
" This can't be real… I must be dreaming-- I even see Kaoru in my dreams now… and hear her voice."
Kaoru's eyes widened. He didn't believe she was real! She knelt beside him and softly put one hand under his chin, she brought his face up and looked deep into his pain soaked gaze with a look of incredible serenity and forgiveness. His breath came in a sharp intake as he realized that she WAS real.
Once again, the words came by themselves. They rolled off her tongue naturally even though she didn't know what she was saying until they were said.
" You don't need to worry anymore…" She smiled at him. A smile that brought sunshine and filled up the empty shell that was once Himura Kenshin. " Because… we're together again… like we always will be… Forever."
He was suddenly shaking. His shoulders, his entire body, he lowered his head and tears welled up in his eyes, raining down once again when he thought he had no tears left to shed.
" K-Kaoru…dono…" his voice shook in between sobs. " K-Kaoru… sessha…sessha…"
" There… don't… it's ok…" She enfolded her arms around him comfortingly and Kenshin leaned into her warm body, full in her embrace.
" I couldn't protect you!" He tried desperately to control his sobs, but they came unbidden. He clenched at the fabric of her long sleeves tightly. She stroked away a few separate strands of hair from his tear soaked cheeks and then folded her wings around the both of them. Heat radiated from them in warm waves and Kenshin could feel his body relaxing.
" I-- I couldn't-- Kaoru-dono…" His voice was not as broken now. But it still shook with the undeniable conviction that he'd laid upon himself. Kaoru once again put her hand on his cheek and lifted his head to look up at her. She smiled at him in reassurance and Kenshin almost felt at peace.
" Shhh… let it go… you don't have to suffer anymore-- now that I'm here…"
He felt the silky fabric of her kimono between his thumb and forefinger. It was real--- he slowly brought his hand up and wiped the bangs from her eyes…They were the same exact eyes. He ran his callused fingers down her cheek gingerly, he felt the soft skin and finally rested his fingers on her lips, those same lips that he'd longed for for such a long time… it was true… she had returned to him…"
And… she was an angel.
Kaoru sat with Kenshin in her arms for a long time. Her
eyes closed and her cheek rested on his head. She finally opened
her eyes and looked down at him. His eyes were closed. She
blinked and then shook him slightly.
He didn't respond.
Kaoru's heart skipped a beat. Had he died?! She checked for a pulse and was relieved to find a barely distinguishable one… But a pulse nonetheless. He had only fainted. He'd neglected himself for so long, that his body was exhausted to the point where he couldn't remain conscious. She bit her lip nervously. What was she to do with him? He needed treatment for his wounds, and food, and water… and she certainly couldn't carry him anywhere…
" What are you doing?" Death's voice startled her.
Kaoru turned around.
" Death! What are you doing here? I thought you left!"
" I lied… I stayed around and watched to make sure you didn't botch up your first job."
Kaoru looked at him a little indignantly and then turned and sighed.
" Well-- I don't know if I did any good. All he did was say my name, and he kept talking about not being able to protect me…" She looked up at Death pleadingly. "Help me! He's unconscious and I don't know what to do next!"
" Well, think practically… he needs treatment… where do you take him?"
" Ummm… to a clinic?"
" Good girl."
" But- I can't carry him!"
" Use your heavenly power. Didn't Juniperia-sensei tell you how to teleport?"
Kaoru blinked. " Oh my-- I forgot about that!"
Death shook his head and chuckled. " Just use a little common sense… it's a virtue all Angels have, they just have to look for it."
Kaoru puffed up a little and then her expression turned to one of nervousness as she looked up at him.
" Well-- you saw it… how did I do?"
" You handled him very nicely." Death nodded in approval. " To be honest, I was amazed. I would have thought that you still remembered him by the way you looked at him."
Kaoru blushed slightly and then shook her head. " I guess… I'm a pretty good actress then hmm?" She laughed nervously, and felt strangely guilty. But, what was there to be guilty about? She didn't remember him at all--
Kaoru looked down at him again, staring intently at his face. Something about that peaceful look as he slept made her heart ache. She wished she knew why.
" Well… I must get back to work." Death smiled and looked at his watch. " Very good… well, he's off my 'Death List.' Take care of him now. I don't want to see him again."
" Hai-- I will. Arigato… ummm.. Death."
" Please, call me Thanatos."
" I'll come to check up on you in a few days. Good luck."
Kaoru smiled as he turned and walked down the long narrow street towards the awaiting Death Mobile.
" Hmmm…" She reflected. " I never thought Death would be so… nice."
She looked at Kenshin's peaceful sleeping face, and then bit her lip determined.
" Ok Kaoru--" She told herself as she folded her wings around Kenshin tightly. "You're going to be the best Guardian Angel to him in the world!!" She made a silent vow, that she would make him happy so that he would never suffer to such an extent ever again. Holding him and the chained Sakaba in her arms, she closed her eyes and willed herself to the nearest clinic. The light around her grew brighter and brighter.
As it slowly receded, Kenshin and Kaoru had both disappeared.
Megumi sighed heavily as she looked out the window. There
were few patients seeing her today and her extra time was spent thinking
about Kaoru. No matter how beautiful it was outside, with the blue
sky and pleasant breeze that cooled her, swirling and playing with her
hair, nothing could shake the incredible depression that plagued her heart.
Kaoru had turned into almost a little sister to her. Ever since she'd
decided to give up Kenshin, she'd expected him and Kaoru to be happy.
But, the recent event with Enishi had completely shattered that hope of
happiness. And she had been completely powerless. As good as
she was at being a doctor; no one could bring back the dead.
She couldn't bring herself to visit Kenshin in Rakuninmura. The horror and anguish expressed in both Yahiko and Misao's eyes as they returned from their most recent attempt to snap him out of his depression made it so difficult to bear. Megumi didn't want to see the Ken-san that she knew and loved in such misery.
Megumi sighed again. Kenshin was mourning the loss of Kaoru, his beloved… Megumi still couldn't say that she was over Kenshin. But at the same time she felt almost responsible… Kaoru was so young and pure and innocent. Definitely not deserving of her fate… all because she was the one closest to Kenshin. If only Megumi hadn't allowed Kaoru to have him, then just maybe things might have turned out differently--- no… she wouldn't think of that! With or without her, Kaoru and Kenshin would have gotten together sooner or later. She was just fooling herself.
A sudden dark figure appeared in the doorway, Megumi turned her head to see Sanosuke. His hand that had been damaged in the fight with Banjin had been carefully tended, his arm in a sling.
" What do you want?" Megumi didn't feel like being polite.
Sano's eyes narrowed " You-- have to come with me!"
Megumi was surprised by the demanding tone. " Nani? Why?"
He strode over to her and grabbed her arm with his free hand.
" W-Wait a sec!" Megumi wrenched her arm free from his grip and looked up at him defiantly. " What's going on?!"
" Kenshin's missing!"
" NANI?" Megumi's mouth dropped wide open.
" He's missing! Yahiko went to check up on him and he's gone!"
" Did Yahiko ask anyone if they saw him leave?"
" No one would talk to him. We've gotta find Kenshin!"
" How can Ken-san just get up and leave? You said he was so weak he couldn't even--" She couldn't bring herself to finish the sentence. She turned her gaze from his and grasped the cloth of her blue overcoat. " -- He couldn't even stand up on his own…"
" You've seen Kenshin push his limits right? He's done it several times!"
" Where do we look?"
" Misao, Aoshi and Yahiko are out looking, I've alerted my friends and they're searching all over the outskirts. We can't let him wander off again! Even with Jo-chan gone, he has got to realize that he has a family here!"
Suddenly, a loud knock on the door made the two jump. Megumi didn't know how many more surprises she could take today. Sano released his grip on her arm and she walked from the room and down the hallway towards the front door. There was an urgency in the knocking, she hoped it wasn't a patient that needed immediate attention, she wanted to go look for Kenshin with Sano. She opened the door.
" Yes? What can I--"
Sano jumped at a sudden surprised cry from Megumi. He bounded
out of the examination room and down the hall to see the doctor hunched
over a figure, lying motionless on the front porch of the clinic.
The figure wore a torn and dirty Gi and Hakama. His red hair was
tangled and matted. There was a cross scar on his left cheek.
" KEN-SAN!" Megumi knelt by him, immediately checking for vital signs.
" KENSHIN?" Sano skidded to a stop and looked in horror at the thin, frail figure being cradled in Megumi's arms. His cheeks were caved in; he lay limply, a man at his very last breath.
" He's burning up!" she felt his forehead. "Damn it-- why didn't you tell me his wounds were infected!" Megumi looked up at Sano through the tears that had come of their own volition.
Sano hurried and lifted Kenshin easily with his one free arm, and carried him into the dojo following behind Megumi.
" Be CAREFUL with him baka!" She scolded him. Sano winced as he took his arm out of the sling and supported Kenshin with both arms.
"Is he ok? Oi! Megumi answer me!"
Megumi opened the door to the patient's room for him and he laid Kenshin on one of the beds.
" What do you think blockhead? He's neglected himself for too long! How in the world did he manage to get here--" She shook her head and began a quick examination.
" Let's not worry about how he got here…tell me what's wrong with him!"
"His pulse is barely distinguishable, but it's still beating, that's what's important. He needs treatment for his wounds, and I need to bring the fever down. Go boil some water, bring in my medical supplies!"
Sano stood dumbstruck as Megumi began to remove Kenshin's Gi, examining the long slash he'd received across his chest.
" Dammit, that needs to be sewn up-- HURRY SANO!"
" Y-Yeah!" Sano bolted from the room.
Kaoru watched the two running back and forth. What a stroke
of luck! Kenshin must know this doctor personally! She called him
Ken-san after all… Kaoru bit her lip; a weird emotion took over her
as she watched Megumi undressing Kenshin. Jealousy?
She shook her head. No! How could she be jealous? Megumi was a doctor. She needed to help Kenshin, and she seemed very professional about it. Besides, it was very un-angel like to get jealous. It wasn't an emotion angels could feel. That's what her teacher had told her. Kaoru excused it as nothing more than worry.
Megumi's urgency made the anguish of waiting to find out if he'd be ok more and more unbearable. Kaoru bit her lip as she remembered how she'd held him in her arms during the teleport. She'd been scared that his body wouldn't be able to handle the shift in dimensions. Indeed, his heart had faltered once they'd disappeared, and she'd had to stop and wait for his body to recover in the dimension she was travelling through. That had considerably delayed the teleport.
She sat and watched Megumi as she disinfected the long gash on Kenshin's chest and performed her surgery with intricate precision. She was certainly a doctor that knew what she was doing.
Kaoru couldn't hear what Megumi was whispering. It sounded as though she was talking to Kenshin. She moved to the opposite side of the bed across from Megumi and leaned over to listen. The doctor took no notice of her, of course-- Kaoru had made herself invisible to all eyes but Kenshin's.
" Ken-san… don't worry! You'll make it! You've GOT to hold on!" She pleaded with him as she worked. Kaoru looked down at Kenshin, it didn't seem like her words were being heard
Sano came in with some more supplies and handed them to Megumi.
" How's he doing?" Sano asked.
" He's growing weaker…" Megumi muttered under her breath.
Kaoru bit her lip. What could she do? Kenshin wasn't going to die! Death has said that he was off of his list. But all the same… Maybe if she could lend Kenshin some of her strength then he'd recover quicker… She placed her hand over his forehead and concentrated. Kenshin's face seemed to relax almost instantly. She could feel his life force spring back.
After a few hours, Megumi sat back and wiped the sweat from her
forehead. She walked from the room and saw Sano standing in the hallway
looking sick with worry. She smiled slightly and then took down her
" Well?" Sano asked.
" He'll be ok." Megumi glanced back at the room and closed the door. " The fever broke, Ken-san just needs to rest, and regain his strength. I don't know what it was, but halfway through the surgery, his pulse made a sudden comeback, as if he'd suddenly found the need to live again. He's sleeping peacefully. "
" That's good news! I'll go find everyone and bring them here." He turned to go but stopped and glanced back to Megumi when he thought he saw a shutter go through her body.
" Hey-- are you all right?" He turned to her concerned.
" I'm fine." She tried to smile reassuringly. " I'll stay and watch over Ken-san."
Her voice cracked and gave away the stress she still felt. Megumi clenched her fists. All the pent up emotions and trauma of the past few hours surfacing again as the practical doctor lost it's foothold and the sensitive, worrisome woman came screaming to the surface. Megumi began to cry.
" Hey now… no need for that. He'll be ok." Sano bit his lip. She stood with shaking shoulders, trying desperately to hide the tears with her long black hair.
" I'm just-- after everything… he's … he'll be ok!" She wiped her cheeks with the sleeve of her jacket, trying to convince herself of his comeback. Sano wanted to comfort her. And without thinking he drew his arms around her and brought her to him. She folded easily to his strong frame, and buried her head in his bandaged chest. She was sobbing now. He held her tightly, resting his chin on the top of her head and a small smile spread across his face.
" You did great Megumi, and it's over now. Things are gonna be ok. Don't worry."
Kaoru watched the exchange in the hallway with a warm smile.
" Arigato, Megumi-san…"
She then passed through the wall of the door into Kenshin's room. She saw him sleeping soundly on the bed. His chest rising and falling in deep sleep. She walked over and sat on the edge of his bed and looked down on his sleeping face. He looked peaceful now.
" Kaoru…dono…" he mumbled her name in his sleep. Kaoru's eyes shot open as his face retorted. " Kaoru…"
" He's dreaming?" She bit her lip, took his hand in hers and then leaned over to whisper in his ear.
" I'm here Kenshin… it's ok."
He instantly quieted and his tense body relaxed at the sound of her voice. A small smile lighted his face. Kaoru straightened and then dizziness came over her. She put her hand to her forehead, feeling suddenly fatigued.
" It must have been from the strength I'd lent him in order to get through the operation." She thought to herself. But it had been worth it. He was going to be ok!
Yawning, she rose and walked over to another one of the patient beds in the far corner and lay down, wrapping her wings around her as a blanket of feathers. As soon as her head hit the pillow, she was sound asleep.
Kaoru found herself jolted awake as the door suddenly opened wide
with a creek and two figures crept in. She rubbed her eyes and squinted
in the darkness to see who these visitors were. They crept over to
Kenshin and stood looking at the peaceful sleeping Rurouni.
" I don't get it!" Said one adolescent male voice. He scratched his head of spiky hair and glanced at the other. She was a teenage girl wearing what appeared to be a Ninja outfit, with a long braid of black hair that fell down her back.
" I wonder how Himura got here!" she said as she put her hands on her hips. " He couldn't have made it by himself. You remember when he tried to get up that time didn't you?"
" He had no strength! But then again, Kenshin can always surprise you." The boy couldn't help but smile. " I guess what's important now, is that he's going to be ok. Megumi said so!"
Misao looked around. " Hey! Where'd Aoshi-sama go? He was right behind us!" She turned and walked briskly out of the room. " AOSHI-SAMA!!"
Yahiko was left alone in the room standing in front of Kenshin, Kaoru watched him as he clenched his fists. His smile disappeared.
" Dammit Kenshin, you really had all of us scared." He whispered, biting his lip and lowering his head. " I thought you left… and-- with Kaoru gone… I don't think-- I…" Kaoru saw silvery tears roll down his cheeks. Yahiko quickly wiped them with his sleeve. " I couldn't… You're the... only family-- I've got left!"
Kaoru's mouth dropped open. This boy-- was he… part of her family? She wanted to reach out and hold him and reassure him. But she didn't think it would be a good time to show herself. Not yet, she would wait until Kenshin recovered and all the trauma settled down. It would be too much for the boy to handle right now.
Sano appeared in the doorway and Yahiko looked up.
" Hey brat… let's go get some food and bring it back here for everyone. I think Tae-san might just let us have it for free considering the circumstances. Megumi won't leave the clinic until Kenshin wakes up. "
Yahiko didn't say anything in response to 'brat,' but just nodded solemnly and looked back at Kenshin.
" He'll be fine. Don't worry Yahiko." Sano put his hand on his shoulder. " You've gotta be strong at a time like this, for Kenshin's sake. Now that he's back with us, we'll need to give him all the support we can."
Wordlessly, Yahiko nodded as Sano led him out of the room. Kaoru stood watching the doorway for a long time.
" Sano, and Yahiko…" she muttered. " I wish I knew who you were…"
Three days later, it was late in the evening and everyone but
Megumi who kept a constant eye on Kenshin had gone out for food.
Kaoru lounged on the porch in the full rays of the setting sun. She
stretched lazily, her snowy white wings arched high.
" How are things going?"
" AAHH!" Kaoru jumped at the sudden appearance of Death behind her. She whirled around. " Thanatos! DON'T do that!"
Death chuckled and swung his large scythe onto his shoulder. " I apologize."
Kaoru smirked, " Well, what did you come for?" she turned back around and began preening. Then suddenly froze when a horrible thought passed through her mind. She jumped up in a flash. " NOT KEN--"
Death silenced her with a shake of his head. " No no-- I'm not here for Kenshin's soul. You've saved him, and done a very nice job at it too! Heaven is very proud of you!"
Kaoru's mouth dropped open. " They know?"
" Oh yes, the Archangel does routine checkups on all the guardian angels to make sure things are in order and they're following the rules and everything. It takes about three weeks to go around to all of them in the world."
" Three weeks?"
" Yep! Unfortunately, there aren't many guardian angels out there. You're a guardian angel for eternity-- or until you get careless…"
" Yes, break a rule and lose your rank. You'll be judged by your misconduct."
" Yes, Juniperia-sensei said if it's bad enough, you can even be sent to Hell."
" Well-- you've got to do something PRETTY bad. I've only heard of that happening once before."
" Do you know what happened?"
" She fell in love with her client."
" Oh… was that all?"
" Well-- let's say she was very intimate with her client…"
" Oh…" Kaoru understood instantly. She bit her lip, anxious to change the subject. " So-- you avoided my first question. What are you here for?"
" Well-- First wanted to congratulate you on your success with your client. And now I wanted to say that in 2 minutes he will wake up."
" HE WILL?" Kaoru looked at him in exasperation. " Oh! What do I do?!"
Death laughed. " Be natural I guess. You seem to have a talent for this sort of thing."
" Oh-- natural huh? Well… ok…" Kaoru didn't know if that was really much help.
" Well, I must be off-- I'll pay another visit soon. And I want you to know that you can go back to visit Heaven anytime you'd like. Tomoe says hello."
" I can?" A smile lit Kaoru's face. It was true; Tomoe had been the first angel she'd met in heaven. Death nodded in response. " All you need to do is fly towards the light. It's very simple. Good luck!"
Death disappeared before Kaoru had the chance to thank him. She sighed and shook her head. " Well-- If he's got to get to work, then so do I!" She turned and entered the clinic, determined to be there when Kenshin awoke.
[End Part 1]
Continue to Part 2?