Epilogue of the Epilogue

Walking in the rain

The blue street lights softly reveal

Us facing each other

Quietly embracing

He stared at the rain pattering down the window pane, almost wishing to slide the door open into the cold wet world.

A sigh.

There was not going to be sunshine today causing him to almost wonder if perhaps he should have remained in bed instead. Turning slowly to gaze at the bed room he has yet to accustom himself to, he paused to take in the slightly feminine decorations.

It has been a long time since he woke up in a lady's room. And an even longer time since he…

He shook his head of the morose thoughts and returned to the crying world beyond.

"What can I get for you, on your birthday?"

He heard his question, resounding in his head, reverberating in his heart. Would she ask him that, today, of all days? Would she demand that he returned the favour?

What did he want?

Hands snaked around his waist as a cold nose pressed gently on his shoulder blades while he reflexively tensed for a second before relaxing when he realized who it was.

After so long, after she broke his heart, he wondered if it would ever be the same again. Could he love the same way, could he devote his heart with the same intensity?

She sighed.

He guessed it did not really matter after all. You grow up, you learn, and you simply moved on.

In this freezing storm

I remain by your side, praying

You'll understand

my heart

Was this his redemption, his reward for persistence and believing that he could give it all up that day, that fateful day at the auction? He must have mistaken her words when she wanted to be with him forever, she could not. They could not. There was too much history, too much sadness, too much wounds between them.

In the five years that they remained apart, both festering upon the past, he knew that there was no reconciliation to be made. His future didn't lie in Kamiya Kaoru, his physics teacher, his mentor, his desperate hope, his sinking love. No,… he knew.

Her small fingers brushed against the expanse of his taut stomach as she teased his ticklish spots, knowing when he was brooding again. He did that frequently on rainy days like this, but even more so on this day.

"I… I'm alright."

She opened her mouth to reveal pearly whites that sank gently into his skin leaving barely visible teeth marks.

"No you're not." She teased as she blew on his shoulder planes as the evaporating patch cooled his mind off the past. "You're thinking again."

He finally turned to look upon her for the first time that morning.

She was still as beautiful and breathtaking. He always thought that women turned haggard and drawn-out the older they got, yet all she was, was mesmerizing.

She laughed: A pure, unadulterated sound that he could never tire of for the rest of her life.

And he knew. He wanted to finally be able to leave the past behind, to face this future with her. With this her that he got to know and admire and love.

"You're not allowed to brood."

He would have smirked if it weren't for the pout that graced her lips. They only made him want to hold her closer to him and kiss the frowning muscles to a smile.

"And why is that so?"

An Eskimo kiss. His nose to hers was such a soft tap she almost couldn't feel it if it weren't for his hands running their way up and down her back.

"Because," her lips neared his "it is" they were so close he could feel her breath, as though they shared the same air, the same need "your" she paused, looking deeply into his eyes – aquamarine clashed with sapphire "birthday, today."

"Well then, shouldn't I be getting my present now?"

He closed the gap between their faces but wasn't fast enough for her quick reflexes.

Smirking, she pushed him away allowing his momentary surprise to dart out of his reach.

"Ah-ah! Not until you've dressed up and stop brooding!"

Freshly shaven sporting a thrown on shirt, he entered the dining room only to find it empty. Didn't she say that she would meet him there?

Then, he heard it – music.

Softly, it was coming from the living room. There she was, waiting for him, her arms outstretched.

The memories came crashing as he recalled the last time he danced. He never wanted to dance again. He never wanted his arms around a woman that way again. They reminded him of the times he spent apart from his love; of the final dance they had a teacher and student. It wasn't fair, how could she ask that of him today?

"Enishi, it's time."

Her beguiling smile and enchanting grace enticed him to take that step forward. But it was her compassionate warmth and gentle understanding which made him twine her in his embrace. He released a shuddering breath he didn't realize he was holding until the tension evaporated from his tortured mind.

He didn't know that he was holding all of that upon his shoulders until now, with her, swaying to the music, understanding only this need to be close to her.

"Happy Birthday."

She snuggled close to him, enjoying the heat between them in the slightly drafty room.

"I… I'm sorry."

His whisper was so soft, if it weren't for the fact that she was so close to him, she would have missed it entirely.

"I… I was so selfish." He needed this.

"You couldn't be with a child. You needed me to grow up. And I only… I only wanted you, Kamiya-sensei, not Kaoru. I didn't really know Kaoru. It wasn't fair."

The only response he received of her silent encouragement was through the tightening of her arms around him and it was all the encouragement he needed.

"And now, I'm here with you… It's just us. No more teacher, no more student, no more taint or scars… I'm sorry I didn't understand it before."

A kiss on her hair.

"I'm sorry, I wasted so much time being angry, getting mad at you for something I needed to do."

A kiss on her forehead.

"Now, now I'm sure that it is at your side where I wish to remain forever."

The room turned quiet except for the damping of her cheeks, her tears mingling with his as the music continued in the background.

On the mantle, a little above where they were, sits a lone wooden sculpture of a woman, her figure deftly portrayed with great attention to detail, so much so that even the scar on her nape was not forgotten, but tenderly added. She would have been perfect, if it were not for the jagged edges where it was put together after a vicious accident. And yet she was priceless in comparison to any other pieces of acclaimed art.

After all, she waspurchasedwith unconditional love.

"Ne, Kaoru."


"Do you think that the adopted girl finds her family in the end?"

"… why do you ask?"

"Because it would be rather sad if she doesn't right? Isn't true love supposed to prevail or something like that?"

"… I guess… something like that, then."

"Hey! That's not an answer."

"You're right… but Love's neither an answer, a question nor the destination. She'll find her family because Love is the journey, and it is that which she is traveling with."

"Hmm... Like us?"

A pause.

"Yes... Yes. Like us."

The End. Really.

A/N: Alright. I know that it's been a long time coming, but here it is. I mentioned that I might be considering doing this, but I never really took myself that seriously because it just couldn't come out right. I'm hardly reading through this because it more or less came out in one setting. It's all because of Jerjonji. All credit goes to her because of the package she sent to me. That Rurouni Kenshin Profile book is my downfall. I couldn't find a better muse if I tried. My sister, you never fail to come through for me.

Well, I don't think that I'd be adding anymore to this story. There it is. It's finished. A heapful of thanks to all the readers and the reviewers. As always, I'm counting on you guys to tell me what you think. Since it's been such a while since I've last written, the style and my thought processes have changed. I've tried to go back and re-read it, but you know how it's like. This'll always remain one of my favourites, now it's left to you guys.