Disclaimer: Just using the characters for my mere entertainment. And hopefully yours.
Over the Sky
People often told her happiness was just a temporary illusion that provoked any weak mind before abruptly disappearing, leaving you so torn it was impossible to possibly replenish any positive thoughts. And she would have heartily believed them too.
If it wasn't for him.
Him and his lavender eyes. Him and his carrot colored hair. Him and his 'Don't worry, Kaoru-dono. Everything is alright.'
But it hurt. Every inch of her fiber being ached, longed, and mourned for him to return. To her. So once again she could feel the safety of his arms when they wrapped around her shoulders. Or his sweet breath tickling her skin.
She knew she was being selfish. She should have been proud, if anything, that he was so willing to help others in need. Shouldn't have felt deserted when there weren't any nightly dancing fireflies or nocturnal choir gracing their last goodbyes.
Because he just left. Without as much of a glance behind him.
Only because he knew—she knew—it would have been harder otherwise.
Nevertheless she waited loyally every morning for the following month at the foot of her dojo, sadly wishing for his figure to turn around the corner and appear at the gates.
But it had been a crisp morning, full of singing birds and waving lilacs—in fact, she was certain he was going to return that faithful day—that the stature of someone who was clearly and undoubtedly not his appeared. Bark green suit covered in golden medals sparked something in her memory and she instantly realized it was the same man who appeared with the proposal for Battousai's help.
It wasn't so much of his presence that worried her. It was the sorrow in his eyes that started her heart skipping beats.
Something was terribly wrong.
His hat lifted off his head, bowing out of courtesy and something she couldn't pick out. It was when the white letter, wrapped diligently in crimson ribbon, appeared that everything hit her with brick force.
And those very tears she saved for his homecoming ran free.
Rain, that had ceased just recently, pelted the grass like a second layer of glass, luminous in the stray rays of sun. The patter of water droplets hitting solid ground did little in relieving the apprehension weighing in the air. It was a cool late-winter morning, and she shivered, not entirely due to the cold, as she took grasp of a simple soft covered book from the surface of her table. The papers were thin and easily ripped if faced against the softest of negative gestures. Along them rested her safe keepings. A key to her grandfather's chest. Her mother's locket. A few cherry petals.
And Kenshin's letter.
The red ribbon was neatly folded next to the parchment. Shakily, her fingers ran over the smooth surface before picking it up and cautiously, almost as if she were going to unlock hidden displeasures again, unfolded it. The familiar writings that crushed her heart the very day she received it repeated in her mind.
I want you to know that if you are reading this right now there is a very good chance I'm not alive.
I may not be coming back after all. There is only so much even Battousai can do, especially since he's been locked away for such a long time. I fear my skills are wavering, and this . . . may be the last of my fights.
Kaoru-dono, I may not survive.
I am sorry for breaking our promise. I am sorry for leaving you. I am sorry to see those tears.
I am not sorry, however, for whatever time—those two wonderful years—we spent together. I want you to know that I would die to see you happy. Because I cherish you.
So please don't cry for me.
Keep on teaching Yahiko no matter what he says. Keep on cooking for Sano no matter how much he chokes. Keep on yelling at Megumi no matter how much she annoys you.
Because they need you, Kaoru-dono. How I needed you, still do—to this very minute—and will continue to do so until my last breath.
I am neither stupid nor blind. I can see how much you have grown into such a lovely youthful woman. There are many men out there good enough for you. Some—and I am so sure of this—that will make you much happier than I could have ever.
So do not let me drag you down. Do not prevent yourself from living the life you undoubtedly deserve.
Grant a humble, unworthy man this as his last wish, or else I shall never rest at peace.
Her eyes softened, fingers forlornly tracing the contours of his name. She felt the relentless weight of melancholy, but no tears escaped their captive cages. After a whole year of crying—and another rebuilding at an unsteady base—they dried up.
That and he didn't want her to cry, so she was going to fulfill what he asked.
The sounds of someone else's footsteps interrupted her thoughts. The screen door of her room slid open and she turned around swiftly, meeting the scowl of Yahiko's face.
The samurai had grown more then she realized over the two years. Now just a head shorter then Kaoru herself, Yahiko's black hair had, if possibly, turned even more messy. Shoulders began to broaden and his voice was at the verge of cracking. The obvious signs of maturity were making their mark.
He was going to be an attractive young man, she knew.
She knowingly smiled when his eyes fell on the letter, widening slightly by surprise before turning around. The kendo sword, which had been on his shoulder lazily just seconds ago, sulked to the ground to a stand next to him.
It was understandable that Yahiko never forgave Kenshin for leaving, for not returning, and that the news still left unhealed scars—on both of them. Kaoru knew, under all that stubborn yelling, that he was devastated too. Kenshin had been more of a father figure than the boy led on and having been betrayed for a second time by a man who held such an integral position in his life crushed him.
"Yes?" She cleared her throat, watching as he straightened his posture.
"There's someone outside wanting to talk to you.We really didn'tget to say much to each otherbut I could tell," Yahiko paused, collecting his thoughts before speaking, as if what he were going to say was going to affect his teacher dangerously—she furrowed her brows as this. And they further increased in pressure when he locked eyes with her, hesitantly gazing over his shoulder.
"That he's . . . he's a rurouni."
Kaoru found it hard to breathe. Her lungs tightened, heart ramming vigorously against her ribcage with dire desperation. Blood danced in her veins in addition to the shivers tingling down her spine.
Despite the nausea, she forced her legs to move, finding herself running towards the entrance of the dojo rather than walking coolly like she wanted to. Because little words of hope whispered in her ears. That just maybe . . .
She pushed her thoughts away along with the navy bangs that obscured her vision, pursuing her way, as her sandals clicked against the wooden floor.
What if—Kaoru choked—what if he returned? That, over the past two years of her suffering, despite the contents of his letter, he had been trying so desperately to return to her, where she would welcome him with mirth cries, into her arms and—
She gasped, eyes falling on the sweet smile of their guest. The otherwise cloaked figure, dressed probably so due to Tokyo's arctic season and the bitter torrent of rain from that dawn, stood at the entrance of her dojo mildly admiring the little sakura tree in her yard. The rest of his longing features hid behind the shadow of his hood. His stature—lithe, lean, and wasn't by any means tall—tugged at her memory of her beloved so much that she almost reached to pull down his obscuring attribute of his coat, eyes brimming with what could have been fresh tears.
But he did it instead, the covering slipping down to his shoulders—her stomach churning violently with disappointment.
No, it wasn't Kenshin.
But it was someone else with almost equally striking features. Sky blue pensive eyes locked with her darker ones. A dark shade of navy hair matted neatly to just above his chin, the winds playing bashfully with them. He stood just a few inches taller then the Kaoru and looked relatively her age.
So captivated Kaoru was, that she stood frozen in spot, clenching the sides of her kimono, and utterly unaware that his mouth had moved until a gentle voice brushed past her.
"Hello," there was a smile, discreet by wholly unforgettable, "my name is Soujiro Seta. I'm looking for a place to stay."
Yoru no jikan ga semarikuru
Anata ha konna chikaku
Nighttime is drawing near
You are this close
But far away . . .
To Be Continued . . .
A/n: I'm fully aware that Soujiro and Kaoru never made contact in the series, so it's more than clear she has no knowledge of who he was prior to being a wanderer or the fact that he fought Kenshin. Also, this fanfic is written under the notion that the actual Rurouni Kenshin series—in other words from the moment Kaoru met Kenshin, to until she is kidnapped by Enishi—spanned two years; therefore Kaoru is somewhere close to twenty years old (having been seventeen at the start of the anime). Soujiro, who was first met I'll assume sometime during the later half of the first year of the series, is a year older than her according to my sources. The math shouldn't be too hard.
On another note, the title of this story is actually based off a song, Over the Sky. There are numerous sites online, I'm pretty sure, where you can download it if you're interested.
Thank you for reading; please review!