AN: This is my first one shot Kenshin fic, so be nice. And plus I have writers block, so this is what I've come up with. Forgive me if it's terrible and please review!

Final Goodbye

By Perfect Solider 01

The deep dark echoes of space, sprinkled erratically with tiny glowing orbs, bared open its empty and unfeeling heart upon the small, wooden houses of old Japan. The weight it pressed on your shoulders was often excruciatingly depressing, hollowing away your spirit into a mindless and miserable drone, going about life with no emotion whatsoever.

As I sat on the cold, uncomfortable steps of the dojo, with my robes pulled tightly around me, I looked up into the eternal skies, its black eyes staring straight back at me, draining away all the life I had left. I could only come out into the world at this time, for I couldn't bear to face anyone during the say, not even Yahiko or Sanosuke. I would pretend to be asleep so Megumi wouldn't bother me either.

Yet ironically when I was alone, the fireflies of the nearby lake being my only company, my energy was still sapped from the bark of my soul. I was as cold, and desolate as space itself, the only hope and joy of my life having disappeared a few days earlier. His soft smile had kept me alive, his innocent face had made me laugh and his gentle nature had tamed my once headstrong nature. Only he could give me the strength and the confidence to face life, to go on when all hope seemed lost.

I pushed my heavy, tired body up from the wooden floors and padded quietly across the dojo to where Kenshin once resided. Throughout my home I could smell his scent, one of blood and dirt, and I breathed in deeply, relishing the sweet fragrance while it still dwelled in such a forsaken place. Every time I had passed his door my eyes would betray me, forcing my mind to picture a faint silhouette of his face from within the thin doors. I would knock weakly on the frame, sliding back the door ever so quietly in case he might be resting from his weary journey. . .

But each time I opened that door, the empty promise and deception that I had stashed away to the depths of my mind came rushing back, filling my eyes with crystal droplets that would fall slowly down my cheeks as I stood in the doorway. The wind blew his bloodstained aroma into my face; the tears being pushed back against my face, not wanting to fall to the ground and surrender to the sorrow and misery that was gradually drowning me. I couldn't rest from this tiring world of heartache.

Every night I would lie awake, the same imaged playing over and over again in my head like a broken record, the pain in his eyes breaking the crumbled walls of my heart every time I saw him. I had been standing by the lake that late evening, the fireflies dancing above the water, glowing in the dark light that shrouded our neighbourhood. He had come suddenly behind me, his footsteps appearing out of nowhere and his face emerging from the black shadows of the night. The determination in his amethyst eyes frightened me, and I knew instantly what his decision was, without him speaking a word in the think air between us. But despite what I knew would be coming, I shoved those intruding thoughts away, not wanting to believe the truth.

We talked for a while in an uncomfortable and shifting mood. As I looked at him while he spoke, the fireflies sometimes illuminated the toned lines of his face, giving him a comforting glow of protection, but as soon as they fell away, the cold and piercing night captured him, leaving me alone and afraid of what was coming. His flame-red hair waved in the breeze dimmed a light blue in the night, as his eyes were cast down. Not once did he smile or look up.

The all of a sudden he had moved toward me, wrapping me in a tight and shaking embrace that I wanted so much to return, but fear and realisation had frozen all thought and movement within me. He whispered sweet words in my ear, and I wanted to hold him in my arms as he held me. But paralysed by his words, all I could do was weep at the pain welling up inside my chest. I suddenly felt suffocated by his warmth, choking on his bittersweet touches. My heart rose up in my throat, wanting to break free of the hurt and anguish that I was making it suffer. Droplets of water flowed down my cheeks, as my hidden thoughts broke out of the dark dungeon that I had locked them in, clouding my vision as he pulled away from me, leaving me weak without a frame to support myself anymore. Shaking, I collapsed to the ground, holding my head in my hands, my tears wetting the weeds that protruded out of the ground and drowning the earth that lay underneath them.

I whispered his name over and over again as I heard his footsteps slowly fade away into nothing against the darkness, trembling uncontrollably in the chill of the night. I couldn't believe that he would really leave, escaping the bonds of our family, and my love for him. . .

When I finally looked up again, the darkness showed nothing to me. Only the glow of the fireflies lit the way, and that was back down the river, toward home.

"Kenshin," I breathed. "I. . .love you." I sobbed, the tears forming incessantly in my blurred eyes once more. As I staggered back to the dojo, my head spun with the emptiness of my heart and the lost words I had wanted to say but had been too frightened to utter. Before he had left on his one way journey I had wanted him to know how much I had grown to love him over the last year, and how much he had become a part of our small family. I had wanted to tell him how much he had made each day the happiest, for I remembered waking every morning to his diligent scrubbing and splashing of the laundry, and walking out to his cheerful smile.

But now, as I stood in his doorway, the cold wind chilling my tear stained face, I wouldn't be able to see that content smile of peace or tranquillity. I would never be held in his strong arms again as if I mattered to him, and I would never be able to hold him either, for I feared that he would not return from his journey to Kyoto.

I shivered, feeling the spiteful frost in the still night air push me back toward the bleak warmth of my room. As I took one last glance up at the sky, knowing that somewhere Kenshin would be looking at the same dark heaven, I tiptoed lightly back to my room, sensing the morning light beginning to bleed into the dark velvet canvas of the sky with its pink and pale colours.

***

As I peered up through the trees of the sheltering forest, I felt unbelievably empty and confused. The sunlight was starting to filter through the branches and leaves that hung above my unexpected travelling partner and me. I glanced over to Misao and chuckled quietly as she lay spread out on the ground snoring lightly, her mouth open slightly. I turned my gaze back up to the sky and thought of Kaoru-dono, and smiled. She could brighten up any dreary day of mine, always so forgiving and innocent.

But I hated myself now for leaving her so suddenly, making her worry. My heart ached every time I remembered her tears fall that night from her large blue eyes. I closed my eyes, for I had never felt these kinds of feelings ever since I became a rurouni, and I couldn't sort them into a clear answer.

Kaoru-dono had always been very special to me. She had seen past the battousai inside of me, accepting me for who I was, not caring about my past or the terrible, unforgivable acts I'd committed. And I guess I never truly thanked her for allowing me into her world, and her family.

As I sat silently against the trunk of a large oak tree, my sakabotou leaning lightly against my shoulder, I clenched the thin, soft piece of material I held in my hand. The day before I had left on this long journey, I had crept into Kaoru-dono's room and taken one of her ribbons as a small reminder of her while I crossed the muddy dirt tracks to Kyoto. It was a deep blue, the colour of her eyes, which I had never seen her wear before. Thinking about it I probably should never have taken it, but I felt that I needed something to keep me going. Something that would make me want to return and live through the battles.

I would return Kaoru-dono's ribbon to her, just like I had done before. Except this time I would keep it spotless. I wouldn't infect her pure and untouched soul with my blood stained hands. I would return to her loving arms after Shishio had fallen to the underworld of the damned.

After travelling with Misao for some time now, I had had plenty of time to think about my mission and my objectives, as well about Kaoru-dono. As the sunlight awakened the birds and plants around us in the tranquil morning calm, the clarity of my emotions suddenly surfaced in my mind. I opened my eyes at once, finding my hands that clutched my sword trembling slightly. I really did love Kaoru. . .and I was shaking with delight as I found myself smiling, only realising later I had forgotten her 'dono' suffix.

I leant my head back against the tree again; happy that I had finally found my answers to the hazy questions I had asked myself before. I thought back to the night I had last seen her beautiful face. . .and the tears fall down her face. It had been the first time I'd seen her cry, for she had always kept a strong fa├žade around Yahiko and Sanosuke. But I had known that even before I had said goodbye, her spirit was very fragile. I had picked my words ever so carefully because I was afraid I would break her gentle nature, even more than I had already done.

Misao stir in her light slumber, and I stowed away Kaoru-dono's precious ribbon and lifted myself up from the rough, dark bark of the great plant. Nature greeted me with open arms, the peace and serenity being a welcome change from the terrorist streets of Tokyo, but that made me worry all the more. I couldn't bear to think what I would do if my Kaoru was snatched from my grasp, and pulled into the darkness where I couldn't reach her. . .just like Tomoe.

I walked over to the sleeping girl, and shook her shoulder lightly. She frowned in her sleep as her eyes fluttered open, being drawn away from the incommunicable world of dreams and purity.

"Come on. It's light already. We must be going, that we should." I said. She muffled a response as she pulled herself from the ground, dusting herself off as she walked groggily behind me.

I had to hurry to Kyoto, the one place I loathed to return to. I gritted my teeth, remembering the horrible wars that took place there, and the amount of men I had killed. And I would have to take away the one thing we all shared again, our life and loves of this world. But despite that, I had to do this. I had to forget my past, and live for my future. . .and Kaoru.

This would be the final time I would reminisce about my bloody past. If I didn't leave that world of death behind, I would almost certainly die in Kyoto, as I should have done all those years ago. If I didn't say this one final goodbye to my life, I would never see Kaoru-dono again, and so I had to do this. . .for her. . .