The Price of Blood

Chapter 18: Fears and Help

"Well," Saitou said as he drawled in between a puff off of his cigarette. "What do you think?"

Cold, blue eyes turned towards the lanky wolf, narrowing momentarily before shifting back towards the window that he was gazing out of. "It is unusual," the man commented in a monotone voice. "However, I would not anticipate that our help would be necessary in such a … trivial matter."

"Yeah, really," a tall, spiky haired man said loudly. "Icy's right. Some chick is being bothered by some group and you need our help?" The man grinned. "And all this time I thought that you didn't like me, Saitou. I guess that I was wrong."

"I still do not like you, Sagara," Saitou said with a frown. "I required your help because there seems to be more than just a girl being attacked. Do you really think that I would enlist a moron like you for something so trivial? The girl's father died years ago, so why would someone come after her now? There is also the revived Battousai. And you two are forgetting that people are being killed under my watch, in my section, that do not belong here. They are causing me extra work. Your networks are extensive. Use them."

The dark haired man shifted his eyes to gaze at Saitou's reflection in the glass. His face did not change, but his brows creased slightly, displaying his disapproval with Saitou's words. "The Battousai?" he said. "He died years ago. I saw his dead body. You are mistaken."

Saitou grinned warily, taking another drag off of his cigarette and crossing an arm across his chest. "I am not stupid, Shinomari. I know the Battousai when I see him. I fought him on numerous occasions. He is real and very much alive."

"Do you mean that he is a zombie?" Sano Sagara asked in confusion, scratching his head as he thought.

"No, idiot," Saitou answered. "What I mean is that he never did die. I believe his death before was merely a lie. There might have been a body, Aoshi, but that still does not mean that it could not be faked."

Aoshi did not answer.

"So do you know understand why I want you to investigate the matter?"

Aoshi turned away from the window, gracefully striding towards the door. "Your message is clear. We will search for information. We will need time, though."

"You have three days," Saitou said, stubbing out his cigarette.

"Damn, wolf," Sano said. "You're not giving us much time. Way to be demanding."

"Three days."

Sano rolled his eyes, turning to follow Aoshi out of the door. "Yeah, whatever. We'll do what we can."

Steam crawled into the air, hooking and winding in delicate s-shaped patterns as it climbed, eventually fading into nothingness. The red haired assassin sat at the low set table on which the cup rested, staring vaguely at the shapes the tea created. Although his gaze was upon the creations, his mind was elsewhere, farther beyond.

Kaoru sat beside him, constantly switching her gaze between the man and her own cup of tea. She fidgeted noiselessly, shifting on her heels, uncomfortable with the silence. He had been quiet for quite some time, merely responding to her questions with grunts or heated stares. There was so much that she wanted to ask him, but she did not know how. Not when he was beyond her reach like this, obviously displaced. She let out a hard sigh, shaking her head so that her raven hair flew about her head. She did not know that the action caught the attention of the amber eyed man as she reached down for her cup to take a sip.

Kenshin had been quiet ever since they had woken up that morning, dwelling deep into his thoughts as soon as he awoke. He had stayed near her all day, not allowing her to leave his sight, but had remained emotionally distant. She raised the cup to her lips, about to take a sip as she threw her eyes over to Kenshin one more time.

She was surprised to meet his intense amber gaze. Her movements stopped, causing the cup to rest upon her lower lip. She found herself unable to tear her blue orbs away from his, unable to even move herself. So she waited until she was released from his hold.

"What is it, Kaoru?" he asked in a low voice.

She swallowed before lowering the cup from her lips. Her pink tongue darted out, picking up the slight traces of tea that rested upon her lip from when she had rested the cup upon them. Her blue eyes lowered to the cup for a moment before rising back up to look Kenshin in the eye.

"You haven't touched your tea," Kaoru said quietly. "Is there something wrong with it?"

One of Kenshin's thin, elegant eyebrows rose in question. Kaoru swore that she aw Kenshin's lips twitch in the promise of a smile. "I am sure that it is fine, Kaoru," he said.

Kaoru frowned. "Mou! But you didn't even taste it."

With a sigh and a slight shake of his head, he picked up the cup, taking a sip of the beverage. He stopped all movements, leaving the liquid in his mouth as in contemplation. Whatever he was feeling, he hid well, giving her no indication as to the taste. Finally, though, he swallowed. "It's fine," he repeated.

She smiled, pleased that she was able make something right. She lifted her own cup to her lips once again, desiring to taste the tea. However, as soon as the liquid began to seep into her mouth, she coughed, spiting the beverage back into her cup. She frowned and glared angrily at Kenshin. "You liar," she said.

Kenshin had watched her with intense eyes the entire time. At her reaction, though, he could let out a small chuckle. "In my opinion it tasted fine, Kaoru." Surprised at the action, Karou's anger fled, causing her to smile back.

However, it did not last for long. Once again, Kenshin's attention turned elsewhere, causing that far off look to return to his amber eyes. Kaoru sighed. "Are you thinking about the attack again?" she asked.

Kenshin did not respond.

"It was almost a week ago, Kenshin. Nothing has happened since. Saitou would have told us if there was something going on," she said. "Maybe you shouldn't worry so much."

"Shouldn't worry?" he said darkly. He glanced at her from under the veil of his red bangs, focusing his amber orbs upon her. "Should I not wonder who it was that attacked? Should I not wonder if there will be another attack before they can be stopped? Should I not worry that they almost killed you?"

Kaoru's head jerked backwards slightly, startled at his sudden change of moods. Wasn't he just smiling a moment ago? "But they haven't come back," she said. "Maybe they aren't coming back. After all, didn't you kill most of them?"

His eyes narrowed as his body shifted closer to hers. "Do you honestly think that whoever hired them could not get more men?"

"Don't you think that person would have done so by now?"

A low growl could be heard from Kenshin's throat. His hands clenched into fists by his side. It was no doubt that he was trying to control his temper. Immediately, Kaoru softened. After all, he was just worried for their safety, right?

"Kenshin," she muttered, reaching out and touching his arm.

As soon as her elegant fingers made contact with the fabric of his gi, he twisted, using his speed and strength to pull her from her spot, depositing her in his lap, her back pushing against the end of the table. One hand was wrapped around her waist, holding her still while the other was gently and firmly holding her chin, forcing her to look into his mesmerizing eyes.

"Kaoru," he said. "I do not want them to come back."

"I know," she began softly. "I never said…"

"No," he interrupted, his voice low and raw. "I'm not done. What I am thinking about, Kaoru, is more than just this one group returning. If one came, what would stop all of the other enemies that I have made over the years? The word is out that I am alive. They will come eventually." He stopped, gazing into her eyes passionately. Then, suddenly, he dropped his hold on her chin and pulled her into his chest, burying his nose into her hair. "What if they harm you?" he muttered, the words so soft and intense that they were barely audible.

Kaoru's hear clenched at his whispered words, the intensity of them lacing into her heart. She moved her hands, placing one on his shoulder while the other slipped into his red mane. "Kenshin," she whispered. "They won't hurt me."

His grasp tightened as his lips moved across her hair and neck. "Don't you wonder? They were so close to you last time. What would have happened if I wasn't there?"

"But you were there," Kaoru said, pulling his hair free of its binding. "You were there to stop it."

"And what if I wasn't?" he said fervently, moving his hands down to her waist.

Kaoru stilled in his arms. Her blue eyes widened at his words before she shut them tightly. Quickly, she wrapped her arms tightly around his neck, hugging him to her as much as possible. She couldn't think about…

"Kaoru?" Kenshin asked gently, stiffening at her sudden reaction.

"Are you," she began, her voice trembling. She inhaled deeply, trying to collect herself. "Are you going to leave me?"

Kenshin's eyes widened at her words. Is that what she thought? More importantly, had he given her the impression that he was going to do so? With his grip on her waist, and slightly trembling hands, he applied light pressure, urging Kaoru to move back so that he could look in her eyes.

However, Kaoru whimpered in protest and clung tighter to his neck, grabbing the fabric of his gi in her fists. "Kaoru," he said, pushing a little more on her hips. "Look at me." She shook her head against his chest, not wanting to move away from him in her fear. She was afraid that he was going to leave her now, but he could not leave if she clung to him.

Sighing, Kenshin ran his hands up her back, caressing her as he did so. He placed a kiss upon the top of her head as his hands laced through her silken, raven locks for a moment. Then, they traveled onwards, caressing her jaw before grasping her chin and pushing her head back so that he could look into her eyes.

Reluctantly, Kaoru moved back away from Kenshin's chest. Her eyes were closed tightly, but her fingers still grasped the fabric of his gi and locks of his lava-like hair. As Kenshin gazed into her face, he noticed the pristine tears fall from her eyes and down her cheek. He could feel a pain rip through his body at the sight, causing him to wipe away the tears with his hand.

"Kaoru, look at me," he repeated, commanding her to follow him. When she did not respond, he leaned forward, brushing his lips against hers. In response, Kaoru opened her eyes, snapping them open. The tears began to stream even faster. Their gazes locked and for a moment, both were silent.

"What would make you think that I would leave?" Kenshin asked, searching Kaoru's face.

"You just said that you might not be around," Kaoru said, her voice rising in her distress. "I know that I don't have much to offer, but you didn't have to play with my emotions, make me think that you cared."

Kenshin's lips pursed. "Kaoru," he said, "Did I not tell you that you belong to me, that you were mine?"

"Oh, I see," Kaoru replied hysterically, her tears clouding her vision. She shifted in Kenshin's lap, trying to get out of his grasp. "I'm just something to own. You're just tired of me now. It's time to move on to something else, is that right?"

His eyes narrowed, the gold coloring flickering like molten gold. His arms wrapped around Kaoru's waist, attempting to still the woman. But she struggled more, causing her tears to fall down and soak Kenshin's gi. "Stop it, Kaoru," he said sternly.

When she did not cease her actions, Kenshin let out a warning growl, tightening his arms so that they drew her into his chest, preventing her from escaping. "Stop it," he whispered into her ear. "You are being a fool."

"Am I?" she asked. "Am I really? Or is that what you want me to believe? Are you afraid that I will rat you out to your enemies? Or will it just insult your ego if I get killed?"

"Stop it," Kenshin hissed. Leaning forward, he nipped her roughly on the neck. Immediately, Kaoru stopped moving. "You are over reacting foolishly, Kaoru," he continued now that he had her attention. "This has nothing to do with my ego or fears, but it does have to do with your own fear, and you know it." Kenshin let out a tired sigh, closing his eyes before he continued. "I had no intentions of leaving you, but I cannot be with you every second of the day. I know that everyone you have loved before has left you, but I am not like them. You belong to me, you're right about that much, but I do not give up what I claim. You will always be mine."

He swallowed, preparing himself for his following words. "And I was not pretending two care, Kaoru," he said, lowering his voice. "I do care. I am not afraid that you will rat me out, as you say, but that you will be used to harm me or that you will harmed because you will not tell my enemies. I have no desire to see you harmed and the only way I will leave you is if it is what you want. Is that what you desire,… koshii?"

Letting out a strangled cry, Kaoru once again tightened her arms around Kenshin's neck. She pushed her face down into his neck, allowing her hot tears to melt into his skin as Kenshin's thumbs began to move in soothing strokes across her back as she cried. "No, no, no," she said passionately against his skin.

"No what, koshii?" Kenshin asked, running his lips against her ear. He knew what she was answering, but he needed to hear those words come from her lips.

She pulled away from him, her blue eyes strained with sincerity and concern. "Don't leave me," she whispered in a shaking voice. "Don't ever leave me."

His eyes immediately lit with passion at her words. She did want him to stay; she did want him. Dipping his head closer, he teasingly ran his lips across her cheek, letting his tongue dart out to lick up her salty tears before his mouth moved to hover above her own. "Kaoru…," he began.

Quickly, Kaoru cut off his words by taking his lips in a short, but tender kiss. "Shh," she muttered against his mouth, running her fingers through his loose hair. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have said those things. I was being stupid, but I was just so afraid that…," she said. Her tears were beginning to slow.

This time it was Kenshin that stole her lips in a kiss. However, his kiss was far from short. He gently nibbled her bottom lip, causing Kaoru to moan from his attention. His tongue then caressed the soft appendage before pulling back for breath.

"Do not be afraid, Kaoru. I will never be the source of your fears or tears again," he said.

"Can you forgive me… koishii?" she asked, her eyes glazed over from their kiss.

"Always, Kaoru," he said, pulling her closer to him and attacking her lips with an intense, yet gentle, passion. He opened her lips with soft prodding of his tongue, creating moans from both as their tongues met and tangled together. But their rapture was short lived.

Grudgingly, Kenshin shortened their kisses, eventually pulling back from Kaoru. He rested his forehead against hers as they panted from lack of breath. "As much as I would like to continue, koshii," Kenshin said, "we have visitors."

Before Kaoru could respond, Kenshin lifted Kaoru up slightly and shifted his arms to support her bottom, easily and gracefully raising her up with him as he stood. While in his arms, Kaoru said, "Visitors? Kenshin, you don't think that…"

He chuckled at her, giving her a soft kiss on the lips. "It is merely Saitou, Kaoru," he said. "But I do not know who he has with him." Slowly, Kenshin released his grip on Kaoru, causing her to slide down his body with a delicious friction for both. Kenshin nipped her earlobe and whispered, "We will continue this later," before releasing her completely. "Come, let us greet them."

As the pair walked to the shoji, Kaoru noticed Kenshin's muscles tightening, unconsciously putting himself in a defensive stance. Once they slid the door open, Kenshin narrowed his eyes at the smoking Saitou and the two dark haired men in his company.

"Battousai," Saitou said emotionlessly.

"Wolf," Kenshin responded coldly. "Did you feel the need to bring bodyguards?"

Saitou frowned in response, dropping his cigarette and stubbing it out with his shoe. "Hardly," he said. He glanced over at Kaoru, noting her swollen lips. "Did we interrupt something, Battousai?"

"What do you want, Wolf?" Kenshin growled, pushing Kaoru behind him.

"Aoshi Shinomari and Sano Sagara," he said with a sneer, nodding towards the two men behind him. "They found some information that you might find interesting."

Pursing his lips, Kenshin nodded. He turned on his feet, entering the house once again and dragging Kaoru with him, leaving a silent invitation for them to follow.

"Do you think they'll have any food?" Sano asked, sticking his hands into his pockets.

Sparing the street fighter a side glance, Saitou lit another cigarette. "You are an idiot Rooster," he said before walking forward with Aoshi.

"Hey, I'm not a rooster!" Sano replied in defense before following the pair to the house.


A/N: I am so sorry that this chapter took so long to get out! I have been struggling with what I want to happen and how I want this story to end. But, I think that I finally have it all figured out. There will be one more chapter to this story (and it will probably be very, very long) and then an epilogue. But thank you to all that have been reviewing and reading this story! I am glad that you like it!