Summary: Kamiya Kaoru is the young owner of a flower shop. Every day of the week, her customer, Himura Kenshin, comes to pick up fresh white roses, a dozen of them, for his late wife. Kaoru can't help but fall in love with this mysterious customer. But how can things ever be if Kenshin's still grieving the death of his wife?

AN: Forgive me for the long wait. This is the last chapter. I could not bring myself to write it and I fear I don't do it justice. I'll probably go back and edit it later, but I wanted to finish it for all of you who read and reviewed my story. Thank you for your support throughout. I love you guys ).


Declaimer: I don't own Kenshin.


As I Bloom Winds of Fortune

Chapter 8 – part 2

I told you all about all the secrets I had. Words rushed from my mouth. I told you about Tomoe, about her fiancée, about my first job. I told you the horror I felt as I held the oddly comfortable handle of an ancient murder weapon. I told you about Shinomori, about my master and guardian, about my lush apartment and where my money came from. It helped to have friends in higher places.

"I bring misery where I go," I tried to explain to you, tried desperately to make you understand why I continually pushed you away. "All that I have touched has been turned to dust. I have brought ruin upon the most beautiful of souls. Kaoru, do you see? I will bring you nothing but pain."

I don't want to hurt you because you were too good for me.

You're lashes lowered, you remained silent.

"Kaoru," I inquired carefully. I didn't want to hurt or offend you.

"Do you not love me, Kenshin?"

You're voice was clear, confusion ringing in its tones. It was matter-of-fact, no uncertainty, no wavering of your self-esteem. Tears were forgotten.

My mind drew a blank. It was a silly question to ask, was it not? Of course I love you. Did I not make it obvious enough? I meant to protect you and yet it seemed that whatever I said hurt you.

"I do love you," I answered incredulously. Of course I love you, my mind repeated.

"Do you love me as much as you loved Tomoe?"

A trick question, I knew. My mind whispered its precautions, but my heart knew the answer. I drew your face toward me, my fingers resting on your chin. You were so beautiful; despite the red tinge from all the tears you shed this fateful morning. You were your own person, I could see that. Never in the time that I knew you did I mistake you for Tomoe. Only once when I first met you, and perhaps at that time, I was simply led to your shop. I knew what I had to say.

"My love for you cannot be compared to my love for Tomoe. How can I compare two things that are so different? I love you in a completely different way than I loved Tomoe."

It was the right answer. You smiled, and reached up to hold my hand. In this surreal setting, sitting in a graveyard as the sun rose, you smiled your beautiful smile at me. "Then it does not matter who you killed and who you've wronged," you said to me. "That you could share your past with me was all I asked. And if you love me, you cannot sacrifice this love for fear of pain. I am willing to take this risk. Are you?"

-------------------- flashback

"Are we hopeless, Tomoe?" I cradled her in my arms, softly as though she were delicate china that the world could break so easily.

Her breathe against my cheek tickled and I could only hold her to me more tightly. I could not imagine the day when I should lose her.

"Kenshin," she murmured against my skin, "some things, you cannot think so much about. The future is forever ambiguous. Live and love while you can, don't go searching for your own doom."

But this fear in my heart pounded strong against my ribcage. How could I endure the guilt and pain, should I lose her?

----------------------- end flashback

I shook my head, uncertain. I had already lost someone I could not replace. How can I stand to lose another?

The sun had begun rising, coloring the sky with its rays.

"We have both gone through a lot together. It isn't possible to go back anymore, Kenshin," Kaoru said, taking my hand in hers. "You stand at a crossroad where you can neither go back nor go forward. You have to choose. Time does not stand still, and I cannot wait forever."

Can I stand to lose you too?

I could see the blood stains still on my hands and clothes. Tomoe still lay at my feet.

And then seconds later, they were gone, replaced by you.

I could not think.

My heart beat loudly against my ears, crying its choice, screaming it's fury at my mind. Of course I must be with you, I cannot imagine living without you. But logic told me that I would only ruin you as Enishi always said I ruined Tomoe.

"Kaoru," I began, but could not go on.

Slowly, you wrapped me in your embrace. As I stood stock still, warmly breathing in your smell, I knew that it was inevitable. I had only delayed something I could never have stopped.

My immobile arms moved to their own accord, returning your embrace, desperately holding you against me as my chin sank to your shoulder.

I cannot say no.

-------------------------- flashback

The smell of Tomoe's cooking made me walk faster as my feet pounded the pavement to our house. My smile refused to go away.

She held the door open for me as I came in, helping me out of my heavy winter coat.

"Tomoe," I say to her as I slip out of my shoes, "I'm home."

-------------------------- end flashback

I knelt before Tomoe's grave, trying to feel her with every fiber of my being. You were waiting for me, having granted me the privacy to speak with my late wife.

All that I had wanted to say fled my mind as I knelt on the cold earth. Words did not form. My mind was clear and blissful, and I knew somehow that I didn't have to feel the guilt of Tomoe's death. What happened was already done, and I had done my time in grievance. While Tomoe will remain with my forever, a gaping whole in my heart, I will cherish you just as much. I kissed the cold stone of her grave, and silently left her in peace.

Far up ahead, I could see you on the path we had come from, turning towards me with a beckoning hand. Like a child who was momentarily lost, I ran to catch up, arm stretched toward you to take your hand in mine.

The smile on your face said what I didn't have to.

Whatever may come in the future, I do not know, but as Tomoe had done, I would live for this moment.

This moment with Kaoru.


AN: I'm so thankful for all the readers who have kept faithful to my story. May you enjoy this ending as much as I enjoyed writing it. Thank you all.