Disclaimer: I don't own Ruroken.

Notes: Lost all the files on my computer (few days ago), damnit. Including all the site stuff I was working on, and all of my fanfiction and original work. AAAAAARRRGH. At least the stuff's all still in my head, plus I had kept some handwritten notes. *sigh* Just gotta type it all up again, DAMN. (And in the case of the sites, redo all the banners and re-download all the graphics I was messing with.) .

Anyway, the most heartbreaking scene (ok, well ONE of them) in the manga, imvho (minus any death scenes), is when Aoshi turns and runs off after telling Kenshin not to die before he kills him. It's at that moment where he seems to just break down completely. Before that, he was still trying to be "strong" and emotionless. ;_; Poor guy.

This is part of Shirakawa Yofune. (To be specific, Fumimayou.) But it really could stand on its own. Takes place right at the end of the Tokyo arc. (duh)

~ Run ~

He ran.

The branches of the dark forest reached out, grabbing at him, scratching his face, ripping his clothes. Twigs and leaves broke off, tangled in his hair, even as his long white coat billowed out free behind him like the sails of a ship flying across the angry grey waves of the sea.

He had sworn he would never run away.

(Unlike her.)

Eleven years. Eleven years ago, at the fall of the Edo Castle. He had sworn. Never. He was no coward. He would not abandon his men. Never. Not the way Yoshinobu had abandoned them.

Yet finally he had still ended up abandoning them, without even running away. Because he could not run. No. Because he had not run. He laughed out loud at the irony. The wind carried away the last bitter echoes of his voice.

So he ran now, faster than he had ever run before, stumbling through thick foliage even as the blood dripping down from the four heads he held joined the blood running down his legs in rivers of scarlet. If only he had run, if only...

As a child, he had often run footraces against the other Oniwaban youth. More often than not, he had won. He had always been tall for his age, and his legs were long, longer than those of the average Japanese, giving him an advantage even over children older than him. And he had always loved to run, feeling the wind upon his face, blowing back his hair. If he closed his eyes he could even imagine that he was flying, soaring high above in blue, blue skies. (If only...)

The thought occurred to him suddenly then that perhaps he had been running all along, these past eleven years. Running from the foolish government officials offering jobs only to the famed okashira of the Oniwabanshuu, running from Kyoto and the Aoiya and all that it stood for, running from the ever-encroaching new era. The era he was no part of, could never be a part of. He realized then also that he had been seeking death that night from the very beginning. Perhaps, even then, he had been running. He had never expected his men and himself to win. They were strong indeed, but tales of the ruthlessness of the legendary hitokiri of Kyoto had reached even the grand castle in Edo, and they had not had such an adversary in many years. Prodigy or not, even he needed practice against strong opponents to keep his skills honed. They could never have won. No, they would have all died together, an honorable death at the hands of the one who had been known as the strongest -- and in the process, drag the man down to hell with them, if they could. A fitting end for demons lost in a time that was not their own.

That was what he had planned from the start, though perhaps he had lied to himself, pretending otherwise. Their lives were empty and meaningless. Only in death could they find true purpose.

But the Battousai had not. He had not. He would not kill them. He would not kill any longer. Instead, instead...

Will you deny us all that we ever sought for? Will you deny us our honor?

Will you deny us our death? (Not like this, not like this, not like this, please...)

(If only)

He had been running all his life, and yet he had sworn that he would run no longer, but only once he had adhered to his oath. (hypocrite) He had run all his life, and perhaps it had been too late to stop, but then for once, just once... If only he had run, as he was running now, as he had always run!

The wind whipped his face mercilessly, blowing streams of hot liquid -- blood, perhaps -- across his cheeks. As if in a dream, he watched the world whirl past in a blur until he could no longer see.

And still he ran and he ran and he ran, until at last his injured legs gave out and he collapsed facedown onto the cold, hard ground, bloody heads still firmly gripped in hand, exhaustion and anger and grief and despair overwhelming him. There he laid, through the long black night, until dawn broke at last, stained crimson.


I think I just slaughtered one of my favorite scenes. Oro. XD (Aoshi is an extremely messed up angsting selfish brat. One of these days, I have to write him into a humor piece. Yeesh. Oh wait, I already did...)