This is an idea I've been toying with ever since I first started watching Rurouni Kenshin (Much luff to Hol-chan, who first got me started on Kenshin!). Anyways, I was first going to write it so that you didn't know who was who until the very end, but I dismissed that idea, since it severely limits my use of pronouns ... I realize this makes very little sense and I apologize in advance.

I don't own Kenshin or any other character; they're copyrighted to Nobuhiro Watsuki. All mistakes, grammatical errors, plot holes and any other maulings of the Kenshin world is mine. This will be light shounen-ai angst/fluff. Flame me if you must, but it doesn't make me feel very good to have people ignore my talent (or lack thereof) in order to criticize my choice of subjects. Please bear in mind that I worked hard on this fic, and if you don't like it, don't review. It's that simple.

This is a one-shot, and quite sad, I think. Poor Sano.

I knew I should be angry. I should be ranting and raving to myself about how unfair all of this was. I should hate her, I should hate him. I shouldn't be here, I thought miserably.

But for some reason, the anger wouldn't come. I felt nothing. I, who could never hide an emotion to save my life, who would go off at the drop of the proverbial hat, I could not force myself to hate either of them. I had known them too long, shared too much, pledged too much of my loyalty to them.

If there's one thing that frustrates me about myself, it's that loyalty. Once given, I can't take it back; I'm bonded forever, and that's always the way it's been.

Perhaps that's the way it should be.

"Sanosuke? What's wrong?"

I cast a sidelong glance at Yahiko, noting with a touch of amusement that I no longer had to look down to meet his eyes. Yahiko had grown, topping Kenshin by easily three inches. "Nothing," I lied, trying to keep my voice light.

Yahiko arched an eyebrow at me. "You're an awful liar, Sano."

"Hmph." I stubbornly averted my gaze, glaring down at my hands clenched in my lap. I was wearing a kimono, a nice kimono, and that did nothing to improve my mood. I wanted my clothes back, I felt so out of place dressed like this. "And you're a nosy little brat."

"Watch it, old man," Yahiko said, grinning that trademark crooked smile. "I could beat your ass if I wanted to."

"Old man?" I echoed. "I'm only nine years older than you. And you could not."

I stopped talking then, because I had caught sight of them. Beautiful, innocent, pure, like a painting or ... I choked. I'm not poetic by nature, and my previous numbness was gone, dispelled not by anger, but by pain. Blinding pain, searing pain, pain that brought tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat. I bit down on my lower lip hard to stop from crying, but it was a struggle.

What hurt the most was how perfect they looked together. How well they fit, like the pieces of a puzzle. I knew then that it was over, this hoping, this wanting, this waiting. They had eyes only for each other, and I had no choice but to accept that.

Yahiko touched my arm lightly. "It's them, isn't it?" he asked softly, his chestnut eyes gentle and sympathetic.

I could only stare at him in shock. "How ... how long have you ... how did you know?"

"It's your eyes, Sanosuke. You've never been good at hiding."

To my horror I felt a tear wind its way down my cheek. Yahiko wiped it away with his thumb. "I ... I only ... "Even my voice failed me.

"I know," Yahiko said. "I've always known how you felt."

How could you, I wanted to cry. How could you when I barely did? Yahiko pulled me toward him and allowed myself to be led, until I felt the soft cotton of his kimono against my face and the strength of his lean chest beneath the fabric. I cried then, for me, for the dreams that lay shattered beneath my feet, for the pain I'd never admitted to, the pain that had been there all along. But mostly, I cried for the one I loved, the one I could never have.

Yahiko held me and let me sob, occasionally murmuring comforting things under his breath. His lithe arms wrapped around my shoulders securely and I was so ashamed that he saw me like this, so ... not in control. It was pathetic.

"Sanosuke-san," Yahiko said gently after I'd stopped trembling. "You have to face them sooner or later."

"Better later," I muttered, still clutching Yahiko tightly. "What can I say to them?"

"Tell them the truth, Sano. They'll appreciate it much more than another of your lies."

I nodded mutely, staring at them. Kami-sama, Kaoru was beautiful, resplendent in a white wedding kimono and light pink obi. Sakura blossoms were woven into her hair; unusual, perhaps, but I knew of the significance they held to her. Watching the tender way she looked at Kenshin, his fingers folded around hers, my stomach twisted with jealousy. "Yahiko, I can't ... "

He stared into her eyes, as if nothing outside of their gaze held any significance for him at all. It was so obvious that they were in love, in love and happy. After all Kenshin and Kaoru had been through ... I suppose they deserved it.

I still don't remember much of the wedding. I sat there and stared as my friend married the one I loved more than anything. I clenched Yahiko's hand so tightly that my nails dug tiny crescent moons into his flesh, but he didn't say anything, just watched me with a sad sort of compassion. I couldn't think. My brain had stopped, and all I could concentrate on was the pounding of my own heart and the two before me. Husband and wife. Mr. and Mrs. Himura, as they would say in the West.

My mind didn't begin to function again until we'd left the shrine to head back to the Kamiya dojo (the Himura dojo?) for the after-party.

I downed cup after cup of sake, relishing the warmth that spread through my body. I didn't have to think ... I didn't want to think ... It had been so long since I had been drunk ... so very long ...


The pleasant heat of alcohol mixed with exhilaration tingled in every nerve as I slid the door shut behind me. I tried to walk as quietly as possible, but that doesn't work very well when you've dunk enough sake to equip half an army. I stumbled slightly before I caught myself.

We were supposed to meet in the garden at midnight, but I worried that my love wouldn't come. I glanced up at the full moon glimmering proudly above my head between the delicate blossoms of the sakura trees.

"They're beautiful, aren't they?" I jumped and spun around.

"You're early," I whispered, hardly daring to believe what I saw. If the alcohol was making me delusional, then I would drink more often.

"So are you, Sano." There was the barest hint of amusement in that melodic voice. I rushed forward and gathered the one I loved into my arms, reveling in the softness of skin, the perfection of beauty ... the taste of those lips ...

I wasn't quite sure afterwards exactly how we got to my room. I was so lost in the heat of passion that I found it hard to pay attention to anything but my love ... my lover. I smiled and brushed locks of hair away from that delicate face, those captivating eyes that remained open, glittering in the moonlight, though I was sure my lover was tired after such rough sport. "You can go to sleep if you want," I whispered.

"I want to stay awake. I want to remember this, remember you."

My heart swelled and I felt what I was sure was an idiotic grin break across my face. "I can't believe you came."

"Did you doubt me?"

"Yes," I admitted, staring down at my futon. "I did." I traced designs over my lover's bare stomach. "I just ... I've wanted this so long ... "

"I know."

I looked up into striking amythest eyes, my fingers playing along old scars. "I love you, Kenshin."

End Flashback

(A/N: Did I fool anyone? Did anyone at all think Sano was in love with Kaoru? Please tell me I succeeded in not making it obvious!)