I got the urge to write this short little thing after watching episode 31 of Kenshin. I've always wondered what Kenshin could possibly be thinking as he strides so sadly away. This piece is inspired by that remarkable scene, and although this is my first time doing Kenshin introspectively, I hope you will enjoy.

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Disclaimer: Rurouni Kenshin is the property of Nobuhiro Watsuki. No profit is being made from this one-shot.

-- Never Look Back --

By Gundam Girl

Why must it be so difficult for me, to look into your eyes and see that you are hurting? That I am the one to make you hurt?

You tell me that I will always be Kenshin, a mere wanderer who doesn't kill. Is that true, Kaoru-dono? Every part of me wants it to be. But Battousai will not stay silent, whether I go or stay.

And I cannot stay. This I insist to you, for he – I – would strike you all. I was the Battousai once, and much of my being still is. I yearned for blood. My sword once sought its thick, wet, warm texture. Will my sakabatou desire it as well?

I turn to you, and I can recall every moment since I first saw you, fighting so bravely in the dark street. Your desperation to clear your father's name, your irritation toward me. I do not blame you for that. Your envy of Megumi, although I cannot see why you could be jealous of her. Do you not see how special you are, Karou-dono?

I can also think of your smile, though it does not now grace your lovely face. Now your face holds such worry. But your smile has given me more joy than anything these past ten years has.

I tell you so sincerely my wish to be a mere sword-carrying man, living with you and our friends. But that cannot be so. Even now, Battousai taunts me with that thought. Peace for me was taken long ago. I convey to you how happy I was when you told me you cared nothing for my past, as bloodstained and tarnished as it may be. And you know that it is tainted in that way, but you still welcomed so warmly this unworthy one into your home, your cozy, cheerful dojo.

I cannot help it; I know it will be wrong, it will have consequences in the future when I cannot forget the feeling of you in my arms, but I must hold you! I must!

You tense in my embrace. I do not blame you for that, either. What woman could ever be comfortable when I touch them? I am in the process of repenting, Kaoru-dono, but that does not mean I deserve to be loved.

How could you ever love me?

I bury my face into your shoulder, unable to look at your face, knowing it is full of concern. Concern for this rurouni, and that I cannot stand.

"Thank you so much." And I'm sorry, I add in my head – in my heart. I'm so sorry for making you feel this pain. And I can think this, but what can I know of it, you would surely wonder? Yet I assure you I know pain, Kaoru- dono; and I feel so much of it knowing I have hurt you.

But I have to hurt you.

The shoulder of my hakama is damp as I gently pull away from you, knowing this moment will haunt me. The press of your body against mine, the stain of your tears. Why shed tears for this murderer, Kaoru-dono?!

I turn away and take a step, hearing your soft, startled gasp of grief. My own grief threatens to consume me as I continue to walk.

What would you say if I were to whirl and run back to you and take you into my arms just once more?

I would never leave, were I to do that. And even if I could leave after that, it would only hurt the two of us more.

Though, I think with so much pain as I step further and further away from you, it does not seem I can hurt you much more.

Your body, I hear, falls to the dusty road. You have fallen to your knees! Why for me, Kaoru-dono? Why must you fall for me?

Your sobs are wretched as they reach my ears. They grow softer and softer, but I know well that they do not stop. The light you have provided for me fades as I leave you; I am entering the dark by myself.

But men like me were made for the dark.

I wish I could have told you I loved you. So that you know when I am gone just how much you meant to this unworthy one. For I do love you, Kaoru- dono. And though I sometimes think that I cannot give much love, what I can give is yours.

But I cannot look back, I know as the sound of your aching finally diminishes.

I cannot go back.


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