By: Psychotic Tanuki
Disclaimer: I just noticed I forgot to put these up for the last five chapters. How stupid could I be? Duh, you guys know the drill. Don't own, don't claim to—these guys belong to Watsuki. Let's just say that this disclaimer is for the first five chapters too...
Chapter Six: Blue
"Kaoru, stop squirming. This won't hurt at all."
The voice was loud, booming almost, and turned my blood to chilled ice. It held no warmth hidden within its depths, no reassuring tones to convince me of the supposed truth of his words. This voice grated against my ears like rough gravel; it made me want to go home to Mama.
There was no possible way that this couldn't hurt. The complex drill was positioned impassively millimeters away from my right eye, disjointing my perception of the world. Out of my right eye, I could see the thin needlepoint and the silver chrome of a massive drill, which was bent perpendicular to my eye. Out of my left, I could see a wizened old man looming above me with a twinge of regret in his harried countenance.
I willed my body to move, but no matter how much I tried, the most I could do twitch a couple of fingers. Even if I could move, what could I possibly do? Either way, no matter what I did my right eye was doomed to be skewered by the drill.
Icy cold terror gripped my heart in its long, unrelenting fingers. I didn't want to die. I didn't want to get skewered through my right eye. I wanted to get out, to escape, to run away—but I was trapped within my own body. I needed to move, to escape this nightmare but I couldn't. My heart thudded against my ribcage as my stomach churned violently as nausea slipped its way up into my throat.
"Ma-ma-mama...?" My voice sounded foreign as it tumbled from my mouth. It was young, childish even. What happened to my regular voice?
The drill emanated a cold vibe that could be felt radiating into my eye. I wasn't allowed to blink and so my right eye had grown horribly dry and scratchy which only intensified my terror of that god damned drill.
It whirred to life. A deafening metallic buzz that indicated the drill was in action; however, the drill made no motion to get any closer to my eye. Instead, a blinding light tore through my disjointed vision.
A horrified old man shut his eyes and looked away, while another stared straight at me. His face was clear in the bright light of the room; cold and unmerciful. He held no regret that a mere child was strapped to a chair with a big scary drill blinding my right eye. Uncle Shin had said he was a nice man, but he'd lied to Uncle Shin. He was the one who had held a gun to the old man and told him to strap me into this machine. He was the one who gave the order to stick a drill in my eye.
"Don't forget these numbers Kaoru. They're very important."
The light flashed and through my disjointed vision, I could see a third man converging with the numbers the drill was imprinting into my mind.
Deep blue eyes flashing into darker shades of azure...
My eyes flew open and I was greeted by unfamiliar surroundings. Unlike my stay in Kenshin's room, I hadn't slept in a bed but rather, a rumpled futon. Where Kenshin's bedroom walls were bare, photographs cluttered the walls and pinned behind the door was the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition Calendar; a half naked, anorexically skinny model smiled seductively at me whilst basking in the tropical sun, and rubbing sand over her body. What caught my attention, however, was that the previous days had been "X-ed" off with a red Sharpie. Judging by the calendar, it was October 17th. Dad's Birthday had been on the 14th.
Cluttered around the floor was heaps of smelly clothing. A wide assortment of jeans, T-shirts, shorts and boxers were strewn across the floor on the far right of the room. At the foot of the futon was an old pizza box. Inside were the remains of the last piece of a half eaten slice of pepperoni pizza. Beyond were remnants of various Big Mac boxes, some of which had remainders of hamburgers in various stages of completion. Then, the swamped desk on the side opposite the mountain of dirty clothing was a desk swimming in a sea of white paper. I had heard that men could get messy, but I had never been subjected to it first hand. Aoshi was obsessive compulsive, and Dad was a neat freak.
The jangle of keys and a door opening averted my attention.
"...don't question me. She had to be put in her god damned fucking place!"
Loud voices screamed through the air, followed by the slam of the front door. One screamed and sputtered while the other made chilly retorts laced with venom. Both voices were raised in anger so powerful, the walls seemed to shake. One belonged to Kenshin, but I didn't recognize who the other was. As to what they were arguing about? I had a vague suspicion that it might have been about me.
"But ya can't keep doin' shit like that when you get pissed off! Ya hafta to learn how ta keep your cool!" The low baritone roared loudly, and by the tone of exasperation I figured the man was tugging at his hair or perhaps bashing his head against a wall.
"You should take your own advice Sanosuke." Sanosuke? The name seemed vaguely familiar, but I couldn't place exactly where I had heard it before. Perhaps it was the name of one of those Japanese singers Misao liked so much? Or maybe I had a cousin named Sanosuke?
"But at least I don't go around strangling people when they mention my ex-flame!" So the woman in the picture had been his old girlfriend. I vaguely wondered what type of woman would have been crazy enough to even attempt a romantic relationship with the morose, brooding, psychotic sociopath red head. Perhaps it was purely physical; he seemed like a guy who would get into a relationship like that. He wasn't the type to get into romantic relationships.
"No, you just beat them into a pulp."
"That is a different story. She's just a kid, can't be more than fifteen!"
Okay, maybe I wasn't as well developed as some other girls and maybe I didn't slather on massive amounts of makeup, but I was damn sure that I did not look like a fourteen year old. It's because I was short—that was the only plausible reason I might seem younger than I looked. What did this Sanosuke look like huh? Who was he to judge what other people looked like? Tip-toeing through the maze of dirty clothing with respect to the confines of Mom's bloodied kimono, I made my way to the door. I grasped the cold doorknob and opened the door just wide enough so I could get a sneak peek the mysterious Sanosuke.
Looming over Kenshin, a tall man with rough, spiky tousled hair rubbed the bridge of his nose. Wrapped around his waist was a pink frilly floral-print apron and clutched in his other hand, was a rubber spatula. It was the same man who had given me chicken soup two weeks earlier.
Processing Sanosuke's retort through his head, Kenshin merely stared into the space in front of him, as if entranced by something neither Sanosuke nor I could see. The fine angular features of his face deepened as he drew his countenance into a slight frown of disapproval. Opening his mouth to speak, eyes that were once focused on the air in front of him slid over to where I stood crouched behind Sanosuke's door.
They were a dark russet color; a far cry from the demonic amber. Even so, they held a menacing glint, a hostile intent. Instinct told me I should have probably shut the door and pretended not to have heard anything, but Kenshin's eyes flashed ominously. Slowly, the dark russet color faded into the background as long fingerlike streaks of amber took its place. It reminded me of shattering glass, and soon the russet had completely dissipated.
Waves of negative energy emanated from his tense form while the air crackled with a frightening heaviness. His eyes were frigidly intense. They both made me burn and freeze at the same time. Eyes narrowed slightly, his upper lip curled into a snarl. No words were needed, he conveyed his message perfectly.
Do not ask me for mercy for I shall give you none.
"Age is irrelevant." With that, he turned sharply on his heel and stalked out of my limited sight. Tearing myself away from the image of his retreating back, I stood with my back barely leaning against the slightly opened door. Not for the first time, a nagging feeling anchored itself in my chest. Those eyes were not supposed to be that color. The floor, despite being cluttered with half eaten food and moldy clothing was oddly inviting. I fell to my knees.
Perhaps my abnormally rapid heartbeat convinced my body I was under stress, because I found myself gasping for air. Bracing myself, I kneeled and hunched my back over the floor, supporting my body weight with my arms. I clawed at the hardwood floor. How could that kind of hate be bottled up into a single human being?
"Hey, you okay?" A comforting hand rested on my back while Sanosuke knelt by my side. It was quite odd. His tall lanky body only loomed carefully over me, dwarfing me in comparison. That was probably why he had mistaken me for a fourteen year old--I was shorter than your average nineteen year old. To his credit, I hadn't heard him enter the room. For being so gargantuan, he was surprisingly very stealthy.
"Sorry ya had to hear all of that. Kenny gets a bit high strung when people talk about Tomoe. So don't feel too bad about him strangling ya and all. When she got married to Akira two years back he flipped his lid and broke my nose when I tried to tell him the bitch wasn't worth it..." Sanosuke rambled for a bit longer, his low voice tentative as he continued to hover over me. Occasionally, he'd shuffle his feet and fall into an uneasy silence before starting to talk again. He was most typically, a man. And from what I remember observing from Uncle Shin, Dad and Aoshi, men never know what the hell to do when a woman was in a state of inexplicable distress.
"So you're the one who stopped him?" I winced at the sound of my own voice. It was a bit hoarse, and my throat felt a burn that quickly turned into a hacking cough.
"Yeah," There was a proud, faraway quality to his voice as he rubbed my back, "That was me. Ya shouldn't try talkin' too much though...he musta banged up your pipes. It ain't anything too bad but you'll be a little croaky for a few days." If it wouldn't have hurt so much, I would have groaned. Lovely, now I could croak like a frog and look like shit at the same time.
I pushed off of my hands so that I could kneel in an upright position. Responding to my shift in position, Sanosuke stood up. Yes, he was undoubtedly tall—around 6'2 or 6'3; just slightly shorter than Aoshi. The pink apron obscured a pair of torn black jeans and an old, used-to-be-white T-shirt. Around his forehead, he still wore the red bandana I'd seen him wear at the restaurant, only now I could see that its tattered ends traveled all the way down to the middle of his back. His face was very classic-rebel-like and obviously why The Fishbone attracted so many teeny bopper girls. He was like a modern James Dean with spiky hair. Really—he would have been very masculine if he wasn't wearing a pink, frilly, floral apron, which I had just realized had a Hello Kitty plastered onto the side.
"Jeez. Ya look like someone dragged ya out of a sewer!" And obviously, he had no tact whatsoever. He ushered me with his large hands out of his room and towards the door at the end of the hall. "Lemme show ya to the bathroom; no offense lil' missy but ya need a shower! Ya can change into...uh..." Brows furrowed, Sanosuke placed a thoughtful arm on his hip, and used the other to scratch the back of his head in wonderment.
"Aha! Don't worry 'bout a change of clothes, Lil' Missy. I'll just put'em outside the bathroom door, so when you're done, you can just get'em." He shoved me into the bathroom after that and closed the door behind him. That was fine and dandy except for the fact the bathroom was the smallest one I'd seen in my entire life.
All within three inches of each other, the bathtub, sink/cabinet and toilet were crammed into a u-shape with the sink/cabinet on the left, the toilet in the center and the bathtub to my right. The door could barely open all the way as it just scarcely missed hitting the toilet. The shower curtain was a royal blue color with sky blue fishes decorated all over them, and was the only bit of color in the entire bathroom. Right above the sink/cabinet, there was a mirror that ran the length of the room.
My hair, which had been previously tied up into a neat ponytail, was now loose, knotted and matted with blood. Mom's white hair ribbon was no where to be seen, but I suppose that if I were ever to find it again, it would no longer be white. My face was haggard and crusted with the dark brown remains of Gohei's blood, as was were my hands and Mom's kimono. The contrast between the pale white of the kimono, my skin and the crusted blood did nothing except make me seem even paler than I normally was. I could see now why Sanosuke had thought me to be a fourteen year old... and I really did look like I'd been pulled out of a sewer.
Sighing, I pulled at the navy obi. The last few days' events had loosened the tight knots Mom had woven, and thus it no longer restricted my breathing. Even so, taking off the obi was a complicated affair that only strengthened my resolve to never wear a kimono again. In fact, I wouldn't wear anything that didn't come with buttons or zippers again. After the obi, everything else slipped off without a fuss until finally, it came to my tabi. Sitting on the toilet seat cover, I yanked the tabi off my feet with renewed passion. I was less than pleased to see the imprint the tight socks had left on my legs. I added them to my 'never again' list.
Grasping the knob, I turned on the hot water and slipped into the shower. Rolling off my tired body in tiny rivulets, the hot water slowly washed away the traces of rust colored patches of skin. I reveled in the feeling of being alone with my thoughts. It had been a while since I could be by myself and conscious at the same time.
Lathering the generic shampoo in my hands, I rubbed the foamy mixture into my tangled locks of hair. It smelled, for lack of a better word, clean. There was no flowery fragrance or fruity scent; it was just clean. I suppose that men didn't buy the same shampoos as women did. After all, on television all the shampoo commercials are aimed at women—and I suppose that men didn't give a crap about what vitamins made their hair healthier, silkier or shinier.
My skin had turned a bright pink color I'd only ever seen on cotton candy. As each water droplet splashed across my skin, my skin burned with stabs of fiery white hot pinpricks of pain. Rubbing gently, the dead layers of skin slowly turned into dark gray oblong shapes that washed away with the water. Off came the layers of dead skin, off came the layers of crusted blood, and off came the memory of murder. Such were the healing powers of a nice hot shower.
Shutting off the water, I drew back the blue fish shower curtain and stepped out of the shower. The mirror was frosted with steam, the air humid. Cracking open the door, I smiled slightly at the haphazard pile of clothing that had obviously been carelessly plopped upon the floor. Somehow it seemed naturally characteristic of Sano to place the clothes down in such a haphazard manner and at the same time, be thoughtful enough to leave a towel. I scrunched my nose. It was a tiny ass hand towel, but it's the thought that counts.
The cold air hit against my wet skin and I hastily tried to make use of the small hand towel as best as I could. However, other than wringing out excess water, I didn't bother to try drying my hair. There was just way too much of it. Not bothering to wonder where Sano had procured a pair of clean women's underwear, I gratefully changed into the fresh set of clothes and promptly blanched.
The dark blue t-shirt was not a woman's shirt at all. Nor was the pair of black pajama pants. The t-shirt hung off my shoulder, while the ends of the pajama pants snagged underneath my feet, dragging along the floor. A faint scent of sandalwood drifted to my nostrils, mixed in with the clean soapy smell of generic shampoo. It was a nice smell, and reminded me of how Aoshi used to smell when I buried my nose in his back whenever he gave me a piggy back ride. It was most definitely a masculine smell, and reveling in the comforting memories it brought to mind, I took another whiff of the T-Shirt.
"Hey lil' missy! Do the clothes fit ya okay? Should I go get another set?"
"It's fine." I winced. The hot steam had improved my sore throat, and I was still hoarse, but no longer a bullfrog.
"Then hurry up will ya? Red says you're wastin' water." Gathering up my mother's kimono, I exited the bathroom. I assumed that 'Red' meant Kenshin, and I was in no mood to piss him off again. If he wanted to conserve water and be uncharacteristically environmentally friendly, then fine. He was a tight wad anyway.
"It's you! I tried hitting on ya two weeks ago! Damn ya clean up nice...I didn't recognize ya with all that dried blood and nasty hair and all..." Settling for a glare, I trudged past him and down the hallway. I refused to stay in Sano's junkyard of a room, and I would rather shoot myself than stay in Kenshin's room again. For the duration of my stay, I would happily take up residence upon the couch.
I would have very much liked to have made it to the couch and establish my personal space. But things that I would like to happen, very rarely do. The next thing I knew, I had fallen on my ass and given a nice kiss to the floor. From my position on the floor, I had a very nice view of the road block that I had bumped into. It was none other than a moody red haired assassin.
Streaks of flashing amber threatened to overtake a calm russet, as he wore a face devoid of warmth, eyebrows twitching with irritation. His long dark red locks fell haphazardly around him in a bloody halo, contrasting against the drabness of his dark attire and pale skin. He was an ice statue that only knew anger; an anger that always seemed to be directed at me.
"Why are you wearing my clothes?"
What? I could immediately feel the blood drain from my face, and pointed an accusatory finger in Sano's direction. My tongue seemed to be lacking functional order, for all I could do was stutter incoherently.
Just as soon as it had drained away, the blood returned to my face full blast. Giving up any thought of communicating with an unsympathetic assassin and a brain dead rooster, I buried my face within my hands. At that moment, I would have liked nothing more than to just roll over and hide under the proverbial rock.
I was wearing his clothes.
For lack of a better word...Ewwwwwwww.
The oversized T-shirt and the pajama pants burned my skin. An urge to rip off his clothes and return them to him embedded itself in my psyche, and I would have done so if it weren't for the fact that in so doing, he would have seen me in my underwear. I didn't want to wear his clothes; I would have worn anyone else's clothes but not his.
"Aw Kenshin, stop being a sissy; ya ain't gonna get cooties from lettin' the little missy wear your PJs. I'd have given her my clothes, but I'm too big. You're closer ta her size." Sano came to stand right behind me, and proceeded to pull me up as one would lift a baby off the floor; by the armpits. How humiliating.
"So you mean to tell me that you were the one who gave her my clothes?" Kenshin diverted his glare from me to Sano, his eyes reverting back to a calmer russet. A bubble of indignation welled up in my chest—why didn't he go all flashy scary eyes on Sano? He'd been quick to pull the flashy amber eyes on me, when I had done nothing wrong. When Sano turned out to be the actual culprit, he just reverted back to russet.
"Hey—don't get angry at me. Before ya went off an' brought her over here did it ever occur ta ya ta go and let her pick up some clothes? And don't go glarin' off at the little missy either," As if to accentuate the "little", he plopped a large hand on the top of my head, "—ya probably scared the shit outta her; she's only a kid. Ya can't expect her to be all brave and go 'Hey mister scary man, I need some clothes other than the bloody ones I had when ya went and kidnapped me'—OW!"
I dug the heel of my foot a bit harder into Sanosuke's toes. I wasn't a little kid who couldn't speak up for herself against any normal person. Kenshin was not normal. I had learned my lesson the hard way—no good could ever come from pissing off an assassin, lest he decide that strangling me again would be a proper punishment. Sano, however, was a different story.
The scene would have been perfect if I could run off into another room and slam the door shut and left them there wondering in awe. As it was, I stomped off down to the end of the hallway only to realize I had no room to call my own. How humiliating.
I had forgotten that I didn't have a tiny niche of personal space here. There was nowhere I could turn to hide from the world, my confinement, or Kenshin. Hands on hips, I whirled around angrily. It wasn't as if I could just up and leave either.
In movies, the heroine was always clever and ingenious. She could either outwit her stupid captors, or the bad guy was insanely handsome and she ended up sleeping with him. Either that or the hero came to save the girl at the end of the day.
I was no heroine. First of all, I was not extremely clever, nor was I ingenious. If I was, I would've already found a means of escape. Secondly, my captor was far from being stupid. Thirdly, while Kenshin could at times be insanely handsome, I wouldn't sleep with him if he were the last man on earth. Lastly, Aoshi had no skill in search and rescue operations and Katsura had cunningly convinced Dad that this was the only safe place for me.
I was stuck here.
I was stuck here with a man who killed people for a living and his bumbling, frilly pink apron wearing sidekick. I was missing my college education because Katsura deemed the world unsafe for me. My life as I knew it had been shattered into a thousand pieces. And it was all because of a ridiculous chain of events starting with one man.
Sano's laughter resounded off of the walls. I suppose he found my lack of personal space to be amusing. I sure as hell didn't, but given the choice between bursting out into tears and throwing a temper tantrum, I found that I didn't like either. Instead, I settled for crossing my arms over my chest, hugging Mom's kimono towards me. A minute longer and I might have burst out into tears, and that would have been beyond humiliating. I bit my lip. Sooner or later I was going to end up crying. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday I would. And chances are it would be in front of either Kenshin or Sanosuke.
"Ha ha ha—ow! Jesus Christ! Kenshin, what the hell was that for?"
What you saw last night...don't forget it.
Kenshin's left leg was dangling in mid air from the aftermath of a powerful kick, and Sano was sprawled all over the floor. I could only surmise that Kenshin had karate chopped Sano's ass, but his reasons for doing so...
"Next time ask before you steal my clothes."
What you saw last night...don't forget it.
Without sparing a glance back towards Sano, he walked briskly towards where I stood. The sudden urge to run into the bathroom and hide, pulsed in my stomach. My feet were still damp and rivulets of water oozed from my hair and down my back. My toes curled around the dark blue carpeting, and my eyes, were fixated my toes.
I could hear the rise and fall of his footsteps, the sound of his breathing and suddenly, the smell of sandalwood and clean soap overpowered me. My, the wall was a beautiful shade of white, and by golly, the floor was an even more beautiful than I had cared to notice beforehand. Anything so that I didn't have to look at him; anything so that I didn't have to see those eyes again.
The footfalls stopped and instead of one pair of feet, I saw two.
"You are more troublesome than I expected." A pair of calloused hands gently pried Mom's kimono from my tight grasp. In my surprise, I averted my gaze from the floor to his face. And for a split second, our eyes met.
My face burned and the resounding "thwack" reverberated in my ears, followed by Sano's protests and the slam of a door. Everything with Kenshin begins and ends so fast. Close your eyes for a second and you'll miss him completely. Keep your eyes wide open and all you'll see is a messy blur.
What you saw last night...don't forget it.
"Aw shit Little Missy, you okay?" Sano was beside me helping me off the floor and probing my cheek for signs of bruising. I didn't feel anything as I was numb with pain. I was, however, aware of the thin trickle of blood on the inside of my mouth where my tooth bit right through a portion of my lower lip.
"Kenshin, ya fuckin' bastard! Where do ya get off hittin' a girl like that? Ya can hit me all ya like, just stop beatin' up the little missy! Come out here an apologize ya rat bastard!"
Sano could yell all night, and Kenshin wouldn't apologize. I could expect no mercy from him, nothing more than what he was willing to give. But in the moment before the punch and after our eyes had met, I remembered. I understood what Katsura mean when he had said the "the man Himura."
For a split second, those eyes weren't amber or even russet.
They were blue.
And I understood then and there that Himura Kenshin had two faces, neither of whom I could expect any mercy. Those dark blue eyes, right before turning to darker shade of azure which then fading into amber had burned his message into my mind.
You are not worth my pity, or my apathy.
AN: This took an abnormal amount of time to get finished, for a number of reasons. One, my computer crashed; twice. This means that his is actually the third time I've rewritten his chapter. Secondly, the onset of junior year of high school is insane especially when you go to a "specialized high school." I get like...four hours of sleep a night if I'm lucky (more often than not, I only get 1 ½ to 2 ¼ hours) and at one point I had seven tests in one week, plus three papers.
Then recently, I got sick with some sort of stomach virus, lost five pounds in one day, couldn't hold down anything—not even WATER, and was thus sent to the emergency room where they had to hook me up to IV fluids. Then I had to go play catch-up with all my schoolwork.
Other than that I've been fine and diligently plugging away at this story. Can't promise how often I'll update because of school...but November has some days off so maybe that'll speed Chapter seven up. Happy Halloween.
MZ. AMbER EYES- Yes I did have king bingsoo...dear god. I was so full afterwards it's not funny...
Jouko-chan- Yes...Kaoru's mom was modeled after my mom too... ; Except in the whole nagging me to get married thing, she's not nagging about when but about WHO, which may or may not be even worse.
Ayame, in Kouga hating mode- Kicktown, USA? Where's that XD?
nobody: I agree that Kaoru probably should keep her mouth shut, but then what kind of story would that make? I don't doubt that she'll cause more trouble with that mouth of hers...hehe
Nguardian- the Tomoe storyline that'll be coming up semi-soon is both insane and rather sickening. At least to me it is. Perhaps maybe that will explain Kenshin's wackiness, and the drastic changes he goes through in terms of personality. Oops...just gave something away...wink
Also, uber thanks to Sakk, happy, Reignashii, rain angst, blergh, tomboi chic, Jomotto, samuraiduck27, and himesama16.