Standard disclaimer applies in every of my chapters. I do not own the RK gang.
Hello! Good day, good day (though it's already past 1 am over here). How's everyone? Here's another update, just like I promised! Yayyyy~
I have to say a very big thank you for all those readers who didn't give up on me (and of course, those who had just pick up the story)! I really appreciate you sticking with me despite my lack of constant updates. There were a few questions via email asking me where I've been or what I was doing for the past year, and I guess this is a fair question. Well, I did mention that I graduated college and started working. The highlight of my year was when I went to the Middle East for around 3 months to cover the issues over there (part of my job), but despite that, nothing big actually happened. So, to put simply, work really killed my inspiration to write fiction.
Anyway, I'm happy to announce that this little chapter will bring along with it even more evil twists and (hopefully) unexpected developments! There is some necessary angst though, but well, I always say a good story needs some misery in it to make it beautiful. In any event, I had fun writing the latter parts of the chapter, but hated writing the beginning. I hope you'll see what I mean after you're done reading it.
Now, sit back and enjoy!
Chapter Eighteen: The Big Bang
I realized then that reality is a traitor,
Things never go the way we planned.
But with my newfound enlightenment,
I realized life is only meaningful this way.
The pamphlet bearing the schedule for the competition told her that she was not too late. She breathed out a sigh of relief as she opened the gigantic doors once again to enter the main hall. The creaking sound of the doors as she opened them was enough to grant her stares from the people around her – and Kaoru couldn't help but to gulp.
Sure, she's been in a lot of concerts before, concerning that her previous job (and current one too) involved the entertainment industry. But Kaoru Kamiya had never once step into one like this – a classical music competition where the stadium was so big, it was rather intimidating. The huge wooden stage was empty, except for a single black piano placed there in all its glory.
There were no screams, no dancing to the beat of the drumming bass, no jumping up and down just because of euphoria. Instead, everyone in the hall was seated nicely, appreciatively, beating their fingers quietly to the rhythm of the beautiful music that was coming from the grand instrument in the center of the stage. Seating herself somewhat awkwardly on an empty seat, Kaoru realized she wasn't used to this.
But, as a part of her smiled, she knew she could. A part of her had grown to love the piano and all the sounds it generated – as infinite as they were – hugely because she had been listening to them almost every night when she stayed in that warm, tiny apartment with Kenshin.
Fifteen minutes later, with Kaoru's mouth opened wide at how great a skill the competitors have shown so far, she realized the familiar red head emerging from the side of the stage.
She couldn't help but to smile as Kenshin stopped before the piano and bowed down low at his audience. Her smile widen as she realized how good looking he was, with his tuxedo and all. Unlike his usually messy ponytail, Kaoru could easily tell he actually took his time to brush it and make it all tidy.
Despite herself, Kaoru smirked. It occurred to her that she was proud of him.
Kenshin's amethyst eyes scanned the humongous hall, as if looking for someone. A part of Kaoru was hoping he was looking for her – he probably was – but she couldn't just suddenly hop up and let him know she was there, could she?
So Kenshin sat on the stool, placing his hovering hands on top of the piano.
And the melody gave birth to itself.
Kaoru was stunned. She had heard Kenshin played the piano before, numerous times, so often she couldn't even create an estimation of how frequently she had listened to him.
But she had never heard him play a complete piece like this. Most of the time, she caught him while he was practicing, and thus he would either repetitively play a certain section of the music, or he would occasionally stumble along the way.
But not today. Not this time.
It was perfect. His fingers looked like they were flying across the piano, beautifully trained in such a way as if they were going up and down a ladder, skipping down certain steps and jumping up other ones.
Unable to contain the smile that was widening, Kaoru covered her face with her hand. She was suddenly just so happy. So proud. She felt so achieved.
She didn't even know why – it's not like she was the one sitting there, being the center of attention, playing this unbelievable fast-paced, skill-wrecking music. All she knew was that she felt emotions of satisfaction. She was just so happy, so happy for herself and mostly for Kenshin. She only recognized that her eyes were burning.
Unconsciously holding her breath, she collapsed to the back of her seat as Kenshin finished the piece in a series of incredibly fast staccatos that caused the rest of the audience to stay on the edges of their seats.
But Kaoru was so overwhelmed with pride that she found herself unable to sit up straight.
The silence that took over the entire hall as Kenshin hold that last note just a tiny bit longer, marking the end of his performance, was deafening. It sent chills down Kaoru's spine and she was finally aware that she was holding a breath that she could not release.
Retracting his hands, Kenshin took a couple seconds composing himself before he stood and bowed. There was applause everywhere and, once again, Kenshin took his time just standing there. His eyes were scanning the room and this time, his vision landed on Kaoru's.
She smiled for him and realized that he was sweating. Maybe it was because he had been so into the music, or maybe it was just because of the layers of clothing he was wearing. Whatever the reason, the glistening of the sweat caused him to become all the more attractive in Kaoru's eyes and it was all she could do to just sit there and hold her breath.
Kenshin gave her a tantalizing smile, one that sent her heart straight up her throat, before he walked away from the stage.
When Kaoru finally made her way to the restaurant, she was already forty-five minutes late. But she somehow found herself not caring.
Her head was filled with Kenshin – the way he played the piano, the way he stood there as the audience applauded him, the way he smiled at her…
But all her thoughts came to a halt when she felt herself being embraced with such energy, her breath escaped her.
"Kaoru! Where have you been? I was so worried! It's unlike you to be late, and you didn't even pick up your calls! Are you alright?"
Kaoru looked up and realized that Soujiro was hugging her. It took her merely seconds and all her previous thoughts regarding the competition escaped her mind. Instead, she felt like she wanted to cry. She was guilty. So guilty.
"I'm sorry, Soujiro. I…" Kaoru fumbled over her words. She was even going to be guiltier than she already was.
"Something came up suddenly and I left my phone at home, so I couldn't contact you. I'm sorry."
Soujiro finally released her from his hug in order for him to observe her face. Kaoru could not look him in the eyes, however, and Soujiro's expression turned pained. He knew then and there that she was hiding something from him.
"Something came up?"
"My brother." Kaoru immediately lied. "Sano needed my help on something. I'm sorry."
Kaoru bit her tongue painfully as a self-punishment for lying. When she somehow avoided all his attempts in maintaining eye contact, both she and Soujiro knew that she was not telling the truth. Soujiro's fears grew despite himself.
What was scaring him was the fact that he knew Kaoru didn't even try her best to lie. It was as if she wanted him to know that she was lying, but for obvious reasons, he could not figure out the reason. Maybe it was her guilt.
Soujiro was suddenly filled with a bitter feeling that he could not explain. Instead of brooding over it, however, he let her be as he gently guided her to their table.
"Don't worry about it, Kaoru. I'm just glad to know you're safe."
Once seated, Kaoru played with her napkin, still avoiding eye contact. Her mind was jumbled, unable to think clearly. Soujiro observed her, his eyes showing the fact that he knew he was losing the girl before him. He resisted the urge to just embrace her all over again; instead he decided to create a conversation.
"Are you hungry? We really should order something."
Kaoru finally looked up and tried her best to give him a genuine smile.
"Soujiro, you are such a kind person."
Instead of comforting him, though, it was as if Kaoru had just stabbed him with a knife. Soujiro looked down for a second, a movement noticed by Kaoru as her smile faltered, before he looked up once again. It was his turn to smile this time, though it was by no means genuine.
"I am not always kind, Kaoru."
Kaoru observed him as he kept his forced smile intact.
"No?" She questioned. It was not that she wanted to pursue this conversation – hell; she wanted very much to stop conversing and just walk out the door. But something about him, something within her just wanted to know what he was thinking. She owed him at least that much.
Soujiro shook his head.
"I'm not. I'm only kind to you, Kaoru, because I am your boyfriend. Because I am in love with you."
Kaoru continued observing him, her face treacherously showing her misery. Soujiro dropped his smile and turned serious.
"But I can't always be kind, Kaoru." He continued as Kaoru listened. "I am human, after all. There are times when I cannot forgive someone as easily as I want to. I can sense when someone important to me is hiding something. I know when someone is with me physically but is not mentally."
He stopped talking for a while and the two of them stared into each other's eyes, boring into each other's soul. Finally, Kaoru knew it was her turn to say something. But she really couldn't say anything other than to apologize, even though she knew that was the last thing Soujiro wanted to hear.
"I'm sorry, Soujiro. I promise I will contact you the next time something like this happens again."
Soujiro made a move as if he was about to say something but changed his mind in the last minute. Instead, he gave Kaoru a pained smile.
"Don't worry about it, Kaoru."
The two of them observed each other again, with their eyes mirroring their inner emotions. Kaoru could barely hold the angry tears threatening to fall due to all the hatred she felt towards herself. Soujiro knew this; he knew that the woman before him did not want to hurt him. But she did.
The anger rising within him was not something he could so easily control.
He finally took a deep breath, trying his best to calm down. Kaoru painfully continued on studying him.
"Just," Soujiro started as he finally fiddled with the menu, "next time, please try to not lie to me." He looked away from Kaoru because what he was about to say next would be impossible to voice out if he were looking at her eyes.
"If for some unthinkable reason you have to lie to me," Soujiro continued, even as he opened the menu. He was probably using it more as a shield rather than a guide to help him choose his lunch. "Please tell me a better lie. One that would actually allow me to be stupidly fooled, rather than a lie that would continuously torture me for the rest of the day as I vainly try to figure out what the hell it is that you are hiding from me."
He didn't look up for the longest time because he didn't trust himself to be able to control his boiling emotions. Thus, when he saw from the corners of his eyes that Kaoru was discreetly trying to wipe away her tears, he pretended that he didn't see anything.
"Are you nervous?"
Kenshin turned around in his seat and he weakly smiled at Megumi's question.
"A little. Are you?"
"A little." She responded back, returning the weak smile. "But you really shouldn't be, Kenshin. You did a spectacular job back there."
"As you did, Megumi."
There was silence as the two contestants brooded in their own insecurities.
"How much longer do we need to wait, do you know?"
Megumi glanced at watch. She took in a deep breath.
"Just less than four more minutes."
"Good, because any longer and I think I'll self-combust."
Megumi laughed at the weak joke.
"We won't even have time to celebrate if we pass. We need to prepare for the semi-finals."
"We really should." Agreed Kenshin.
Megumi took another deep breath, trying to calm herself. "Wow, I have never been this nervous from a competition before."
"Maybe it's because you really want to win?" Kenshin asked jokingly. Megumi genuinely laughed this time.
"I do. As I'm sure you are too, Kenshin."
"Of course." He sighed, closing his eyes in contemplation. "All my life I've always ended second. I'm always one step behind the first. For the longest time, I thought it was just because of my lack of ability. But now I know better." Kenshin opened his eyes and looked up at the glaring ceiling lights as Megumi observed him.
"Now you know better?"
"Yeah." Kenshin answered, slowly looking down and smiling at Megumi. "It's not lack of ability. It's lack of determination. And I refuse to be defeated by my second-rate attitude anymore."
He held the smile one last time before it turned rather sheepish and he was forced to look away. Megumi was surprised and couldn't help but to gaze over him a second longer. Finally, she smiled.
"Kenshin, you have changed."
"Have I?" Kenshin asked, looking genuinely surprised.
"Yes. You have matured."
Kenshin laughed and nodded his head in both agreement and gratitude.
It was then that the two of them noticed the sudden movements of those around them and effectively stopped their conversation. Glancing at each other, both Kenshin and Megumi left their chairs and approached the board proclaiming the passing participants.
Minutes later, after fighting other contestants who were either crying from agony or screaming with joy, Kenshin saw that his number was on the board.
He glanced to the side and saw Megumi smiling at him.
She passed too.
The two shared a celebratory hug as they laughed, their brains filled with that unexplainable feeling of having just won something they had spent weeks preparing for.
For Kenshin, he was so unbelievably happy that he took out his phone and immediately dialed Kaoru's number.
When she failed to pick up, his euphoria clouded his disappointment.
Kaoru didn't pick up Kenshin's call because she didn't hear it. She was in the car together with Soujiro, the two of them just seated awfully silent. None of them moved even though they had reached Kaoru's apartment minutes ago.
Finally, when he could take it no longer, Soujiro unbuckled his seatbelt so as to be able to turn around and face the woman beside him properly. However, before he could say anything, Kaoru, with her eyes still staring blankly at the empty street in front of her, decided to tell the truth.
"I was late today because I stopped by Tokyo Suntory Hall to watch the preliminary rounds of the Boston Symphony Orchestra piano competition."
His previous words fled his mind immediately as Soujiro stared uncomprehendingly at Kaoru, who continued to stare straight ahead.
"Why?" He asked seconds later.
Kaoru failed to answer immediately. Instead, she closed her eyes for a while in intense contemplation before she opened them, finally turning around so that she was seeing eye to eye with Soujiro.
"Kenshin Himura is participating in the competition, and I had to see him."
She said it so concisely because any decorative words would just further expose her vulnerability. Her voice was barely stable; in fact, it was cracking from pain and guilt.
"Kenshin Himura?" Soujiro questioned carefully. Kaoru looked at him for a while before answering.
"He was my roommate before I moved here."
Soujiro's eyes widened significantly due to shock. He took his time before finally replying.
"You… you were living with a man?"
"I was." Kaoru answered, all the while determined to maintain eye contact with her boyfriend. She would not flinch. If Soujiro hated her because of this, she would accept it. She would not blame him. If anything, she would blame herself. She deserved it.
But Soujiro could not maintain eye contact, and thus he looked away.
"Why didn't you tell me about it?"
"I didn't want you to hate me."
At that honest statement, Soujiro glanced at her before once again looking away. Placing both hands on the steering wheel, he asked,
"How close were you with him?"
Kaoru saw the pained expression dominating Soujiro's usually calm face. She bit her lips so hard they were close to bleeding, but she didn't care. She deserved so much pain for causing the man before her to feel the emotions he was currently feeling.
"We kissed. Once."
Soujiro closed his eyes so hard that wrinkles formed. It pained him to have to hear all this. His girlfriend had been living with a man!
His grip on the steering wheel hardened to the point that his knuckles turned white.
"I hope that was before…" he whispered, referring to the kiss.
"It was before we were serious." Kaoru answered.
"Before we were serious. Does that mean you..." Soujiro swallowed his inability to speak, "you kissed him after you knew me? After we started dating?"
Kaoru paused. She owed the man the truth, she reminded herself.
"It was before we were official, but yes."
Soujiro let out a shaky breath as he placed his forehead against the steering wheel. It was again another few seconds before he managed to voice out his thoughts.
"I regret it." He whispered painfully.
Kaoru's heart skipped a beat. She reminded herself that she deserved Soujiro's hatred, if he hated her. Even if he decided to end everything and his decision was to throw all of his love for her away, she would accept it.
"I wish I didn't say that I want to know the truth."
Kaoru didn't expect that. Her clenched hand losing strength from surprise, she watched as Soujiro's mouth moved and listened to his words.
"I'm not mature enough for this." His voice was shaky, his hands forming fists as he punched the steering wheel, once, twice. He finally opened his eyes, his forehead still leaning weakly on the steering wheel. He opened his eyes, but he wasn't seeing anything.
"I thought I was mature enough to be able to handle the truth. But I'm not. I still can't control my jealousy."
It took him a while to finally regain his posture. He sat up straight before he turned around to see Kaoru beside him. The woman's mouth was slightly open due to shock and her eyes were clinging to his every movement. Upon further inspection, it was easy to see that she was slightly trembling in an attempt to control her emotions.
Unable to hold himself, he leaned forward and took a very surprised Kaoru into a rough kiss. It was the first time he had ever kissed Kaoru like that – like he didn't care how she felt; all he knew was that he wanted to consume her, to make her his.
Finally, when he pulled back, as he was panting for breath and as he watched Kaoru clutching her chest as she was slightly hyperventilating, Soujiro decided for one last battle.
"Kaoru, marry me."
Kaoru immediately looked up due to shock. It was then that Soujiro noticed her lower lip bleeding, most probably because of his aggressive kiss just now. At that point though, he didn't care.
"I tried to understand, to not give you pressure. But I can't. I want you, all of you. Please, Kaoru, marry me."
Kaoru couldn't answer. She didn't know what to answer. Her lips wouldn't move, her tongue wouldn't function, and her throat was not cooperating.
Because she couldn't answer, because she didn't know what to answer, she closed her eyes to try to collect at least some degree of composure as her hand wiped the iron taste of blood from her lips.
When she opened her eyes, Soujiro was still looking at her.
"Do you want me to answer now, or do you want me to give it some thought?"
She was serious and was not joking. Soujiro stared at her for the longest time, trying to read her thoughts through her usually very expressive eyes. But today, they were clouded and he couldn't read her like he usually could.
"If I demand an answer now, you would say no, wouldn't you?"
When Kaoru failed to reply, Soujiro looked away.
"I will wait." He answered after a moment's hesitation. "I don't want you to make any more regretful decisions."
Kaoru refused to dig in too deep about all the possible meanings that vague sentence could imply. Instead, she muttered "good bye" and opened the door of the car. She walked into her apartment building without looking back.
"Yes! Can you believe it?"
"Uh, they've only started dating like, what, six months?"
"Approximately. But yes, that's exactly my point. He's rushing it."
"Well, what did she say?"
"She said she'll get back to him. Honestly though, this is getting way out off the course of the plan."
"There's a plan?"
Misao's eyes narrowed at the disbelieving tone.
"Of course there is. Or was. I don't know anymore."
Sano stared at her for a while.
"So? What was it?"
"You and I know better than anyone else regarding the whole crazy fiasco that is exploding between Kaoru and Kenshin and how real their feelings for each other are."
"Really? I don't know, actually."
Misao chose to ignore the man's unnecessary comment.
"So I was thinking that with the emergence of a man who could potentially take Kaoru away, Kenshin would be so overly blinded with jealousy, he would confess his love to Kaoru. Or," Misao added quickly, seeing that Sano was about to interrupt her, "Kaoru would realize that no other guy can make her feel the way that Kenshin could, so then she admits her love for him."
Sano blinked a couple of times before he scoffed.
"I just realized that your mental capacity is equivalent to that of a ten year old."
"Hey!" Misao barked angrily.
"It's true, no one with normal level intelligence could cook up such a ludicrous plan. Anyway," Sano pointedly ignored Misao's attempts in biting his head off, "I do remember Kenshin recently asking me whether I've been in touch with Jou-chan or not."
"Oh?" Misao asked, forfeiting her attempts to hurt the brother of her best friend and instead focusing her entire interest on the subject at hand.
"Yeah, apparently she's not picking up his calls."
"Well duh, that makes sense. What with her suddenly being proposed to by my idiotic cousin, Kaoru is bound to be confused right now. The last thing she needs is further confusion added to the mix."
"Yeah, see, Kenshin told me he saw her during the preliminaries. But when he had time to actually talk to her, she was gone. And then, when he finally got his results back, he tried calling her but she never picked up. It's been a week since then and the semi-finals are tomorrow, so he was hoping that she could come too."
"Semi-finals are tomorrow? That's pretty fast."
"Yeah, both he and Megumi had been practicing like it's the end of the world. I'm getting sick of all that piano."
There was silence as Sano drank the remnants of his can of beer and Misao was entrapped in her thoughts.
"So, in this plan of yours," Sano started, throwing the empty can straight to the trashcan, "do I tell Kenshin that Jou-chan's been proposed to, or are my lips sealed?"
"Sealed!" Answered Misao immediately. "Definitely sealed with superglue!"
Sano looked a bit taken aback.
"Because," Misao answered, "if you tell Kenshin, he's going to assume the worst. I swear, that man had to be the most dense, self-degrading person I've met my entire life. If you tell him, he's probably going to dig his own grave by assuming that Kaoru's accepting the proposal – which will probably not be the case."
"How can you be so sure?"
"Because I won't let that happen." Misao answered innocently, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. Sano frowned.
"But what if Jou-chan truly prefers your cousin over my roommate?"
"Is the sky green, Sano?"
"Uh, no, but…"
"There you go. Asking whether Kaoru prefer Soujiro over Kenshin is like asking whether the sky is green or not. Which, obvious to say, is not – so Kaoru cannot possibly choose Soujiro over Kenshin, understand?"
"Sad to say, but no. But I do understand that you strongly need to work on your metaphoric skills, weasel."
He passed the semi-finals.
He couldn't believe it, but he did.
A breath of tension escaped him as he went limp on his couch. Unlike the preliminaries, one received the results of the semi-finals days after the actual event via the phone.
Speaking of the preliminaries, Kenshin's smile suddenly faltered.
That was exactly ten days ago and that was when he last saw Kaoru. Since then, he had tried desperately to contact her to no avail.
He even went as far as to ask both Sano and Misao, but they were as informative as statues. He sighed. At least he knew from those two that Kaoru was still alive and kicking.
But with that knowledge, his worry turned to anger.
He was angry at the fact that she just suddenly disappeared like this. Again.
He was angry at the fact that she wasn't even concerned enough to ask him whether he passed his first round. She wasn't even concerned enough to wish him good luck on his semi-finals.
Truth be told, he really wasn't as angry as he was hurt.
He wanted Kaoru's attention, wanted Kaoru's concern, wanted Kaoru to worry over him.
And he promised himself he will fight to his death to get them. And if everything went as planned, he would definitely fight for her when he won this competition; when he had finally proven to himself that he could become number one.
But he was starting to get nervous. Unlike the semi-finals, where they were given a whole week to prepare, the contestants were only given three days to practice for the finals. In other words, time was running out.
Kenshin wanted to practice some more, but he felt that he could do that later on today. What he really wanted right now was to relax and just celebrate.
He sighed because he knew that the only way he can actually be happy with any type of celebration right now was if Kaoru was there with him to share the happiness.
He had become so dependent on that woman, it nearly scared him. It would, if it hadn't felt so right.
Deciding it was high time for him to move from that slouched position on his couch, Kenshin stretched and went to his fridge to get a can of diet coke. As he took a big gulp, he heard the sound of his phone ringing. He grabbed it and almost dropped both his coke and his phone when the caller ID read Kaoru Kamiya.
He stared at the telecommunications device for a while before finally picking up the call.
"Hello." He greeted curtly. He was still angry. Hurt.
"Hi." Came the somewhat soft reply from the other side.
"Finally deciding to return my call after I stalked you with twenty miscalls, eh?" He said before he could stop himself. What was he doing cracking up sarcastic jokes? He was supposed to be angry, damn it!
He heard a weak giggle on the other side and didn't know what to make of it. Giggling was good, means she's laughing. But weak was bad, means she's not whole heartedly happy.
"I'm sorry I've disappeared for the last couple days. Work kept me busy and stuff."
Probably your boyfriend too.
Kenshin punched himself on the leg for thinking such hateful things.
"Well, I want to congratulate you for passing the preliminaries; I heard from Sano. Today's also the day you're supposed to hear back for your semi-finals, right?"
Kenshin started walking to his couch again as he answered her question.
"Yeah. I passed."
There was silence on the other line before a sudden scream pierced through Kenshin's ear, causing him to slightly jump from his seat.
"You did?! Oh my god, congratulations!!!"
Her happiness was truly genuine this time, he could tell. And he was so happy for that. So happy that he released a breath of air he didn't know he had been holding.
"You should celebrate." Kaoru continued on. Kenshin chuckled.
"Nah, the finals are in three days."
"Oh? That soon?"
"Well, you can still go make yourself a lovely dinner, no?"
"What's the point if I eat it alone?"
When there was silence on the other line, only then did Kenshin realized the potential implicit meaning that statement could mean. He supposed he could correct himself, to tell Kaoru that he didn't mean anything with that sentence. But just as he was opening his mouth to do so, he changed his mind.
He wanted progress, after all. This was a step forward.
"Is Sano not around?" Kaoru finally asked hesitantly.
"No, he's been gone the whole day."
There was silence once again and after a while, Kenshin could hear a sigh.
"Do you want me to come over?"
Heart skipping a beat, Kenshin totally did not expect Kaoru to say that. Crazily happy, much as if he was a toddler who had just convinced his mother to buy him a box of candies, for a moment Kenshin did not know what to say.
Just for a moment, though.
"Yes, please do."
His heart beating exceptionally fast as he waited for an answer, Kenshin pumped his fist to the air when he heard Kaoru's acceptance.
"I will see you then, Kenshin. But please don't make dinner. I wouldn't be staying for long."
That caused Kenshin's fist to lose its vigor.
Once again, silence flooded the line for a while before Kaoru responded.
"I just… I just want to see you. I want to congratulate you. That's it. It's not for anything else."
He finally understood. It was just formality after all.
The grip on his phone suddenly strengthened three fold as Kenshin tried his best to control his anger. He felt like punching someone. Just beating up someone for no good reason. He wanted to explode a bomb. Maybe he should rob a bank. Shaking his head to control his anger, Kenshin sighed.
Before he said anything else though, Kaoru had told him that she would be there at eight thirty p.m. and, after saying bye, she ended the call.
Kenshin placed the phone away.
He shouted a word of profanity.
He took in deep breaths to calm himself down before he decided he needed to get away from that apartment. Thinking of ways to try to calm himself, he finally thought of an idea.
Arriving ten minutes earlier than eight thirty p.m., Kaoru sighed at herself before she firmly knocked on the door of the apartment.
She waited and was a bit confused when there was no response.
She knocked again and once again waited.
From the gaps of the door and the hinges, she could tell that the lights were on. Kenshin should be home. She once again knocked to no avail.
A bit annoyed, she decided to open the door and, to her surprise, found it to be unlocked.
This was strange. Really strange. Kenshin never left the door unlocked, even when he was home. So the fact that he did left the door unlocked, with the lights on, and he wasn't home meant that something strange was really going on.
Taking a step into the apartment, Kaoru took in her surroundings with cautious suspicion. She took off her shoes because she wanted to go in deeper. Once she was in the living room, staring at the half-empty can of coke and the piano, she breathed in deeply and for a while, tried to decipher the situation.
That was when she had the feeling. She shivered and she glanced up towards the ceiling. Unexplainable even to herself, Kaoru had a sudden rush. It was like a calling, a sudden enlightenment of something she couldn't explain. Hurriedly slipping her shoes back on, she closed the door to the apartment with a bang and went up the flight of stairs.
It was the roof.
She hurriedly opened the door leading towards the landing and had to immediately catch her breath, both from the fact that she had just sprinted through quite a number of staircases and also because the sight she was seeing caused her to momentarily forget how to breathe.
Despite the fact that his back was towards her, she could see that Kenshin was smiling, by himself, his eyes reflecting the fireworks blasting right before him. His normal warm violent eyes turned dangerously amber due to the reflection of the sparks.
The fireworks weren't big, not at all the magnificent, glamorous fireworks that one will find in, say, Disneyland. Rather, they were more like gentle firecrackers – the small fireworks that sent flashes all over the floor, spinning like crazy against the concrete as they illuminate their sparks all over the area.
The two fireworks Kenshin lit and were currently watching made hissing noises as they continued to burst out fiery sparkles that died out the moment they spent three seconds in the air. But the image was breathtaking.
The softly bright explosions went on and on and on until the fireworks finally exploded with a bang, effectively ending the show that small entertainment had to offer.
And then, as the leftover sparks disappeared, the whole roof was considerably darker. Only the tiny neon lamp placed for security reasons and the street lights down below illuminated considerable vision. The billboards across the city that were visible due to the roof's height and the twinkling stars at night contributed little to the light, instead accenting the elongated shadows of the two figures.
Kaoru wasn't sure what to do. She had just saw something that made her know, right then and there, that she loved Kenshin.
She loved Kenshin.
With all her heart, her soul, her mind. She was going crazy because of him. She needed him. Her very being yearned for him.
When she saw his lonely smile as he watched the fireworks, all she wanted to do was embrace him and tell him that he was not alone.
When she saw his happiness faltering as he watched the fireworks dying, all she wanted to do was to be there and help him light another one, so that neither of them had to see an ending.
When she saw his face consumed by the sudden darkness that resulted from the death of the fireworks, all she wanted to do was to be there and shine for him, to be the light in his life.
And so, she took a step forward. And another. And another. Until finally, Kenshin turned around.
His face was solemn as he stared into her. He had known that she was there all along. She wasn't surprised.
"Fireworks?" She finally asked, her voice rather quiet.
"I needed something that will explode in my place." He answered her unasked question. Observing him, Kaoru gave the briefest notion that she understood.
"I wanted to experience this year's first fireworks with you. I just had a wish-come-true."
Kenshin didn't reply, instead he continued on studying her. When she failed to take yet another step, he took the liberty. One step closer to her. Another step closer. And yet another. When he finally stopped, they were standing merely inches from one another. They were standing so close, Kaoru could feel his warm breath on her face and Kenshin could finally smell that wonderful jasmine smell that entices all his senses and numbs them simultaneously.
Kaoru looked up so that she could see his eyes. He was already looking at hers.
"You're leaving soon?" He whispered so softly as his mouth briefly brushed past her face. Kaoru involuntarily shivered despite the warm summer's air. She looked back to his eyes. His eyes that finally reflect his true feelings – how much he missed her, how much he needed her, how much he loved her. Kaoru slowly shook her head.
"No, I'm not leaving soon."
Hearing her answer, Kenshin took even a step closer so that his chest was basically touching Kaoru's. When he looked down, all he could see was her beautiful hair. Kaoru leaned her head backward a little so that she can see his expressions, all the while maintaining her proximity with the man so close to her.
Kenshin's face moved dangerously close. So close, all Kaoru could see was his eyes and nothing else. His lips were lingering painfully near hers. It was so close, she could feel their softness. But he wasn't touching her, wasn't kissing her. She was shivering all over again.
Something overwhelmed her. She didn't know what it was; she just knew something was making her brain go numb. With her heart beating unprecedentedly fast, it was like everything clicked. All her logic exploded. What she had been looking for was right here, in front of her.
"Kiss me." She whispered. "Please. Embrace me. Kiss me."
It was just like the firework she saw barely minutes ago. The sparks that glittered her vision just seconds before she closed them caused her to go blind. The explosion on her skin, on her nerves, on her lips caused her to go so numb, her sensitivity skyrocketed in contradiction. The heat of the fire, the heat of his embrace on her was so hot, so passionate, so overdue.
Kenshin hold her like there was no tomorrow. He cuddled her so close, pushing her waist to the point where she was practically leaning on him; he positioned her neck so that he had the best access to enter her mouth.
Kaoru complied. She wanted nothing else. It felt so right. Placing both arms around his neck, she pulled him even closer, her lips moving in accordance with his.
Not knowing how they managed to go through the flight of stairs, not realizing that they had entered Kenshin's apartment, not caring how Kaoru had fallen under Kenshin as the two of them lay on his bed, she had never felt so fulfilled. So complete.
It was altogether an explosion. With a bang, everything just snapped into an entirely new dimension that both Kaoru and Kenshin wanted, needed, craved to explore.
Kenshin showered her with kisses, his lips never once leaving her. When she needed to breathe, he stroked her hair away so as to be able to kiss her neck. He nibbled on her earlobes, returning back to her cheeks, before kissing her heatedly on the mouth once more.
The next moment, Kenshin was shirtless and Kaoru's shirt was unbuttoned. His hands were all over her, making her feel so impossibly perfect that she didn't know how she could have function all these years without his touch.
Her hands were all over him, trying to feel all of him. Kaoru wanted him to be close, so close that every skin is touching, every heat shared between the two of them. Closer. She needed him to be even closer, to make contact with her in every possible way. Kenshin felt her want and he kissed her all over again, much more heatedly as his hands began to sneak to her back and was about to rid her of her undergarments when…
A slam on the door of the apartment, complete with a "Yo, Kenshin! I'm home!" interrupted them.
Kaoru's eyes snapped wide open and Kenshin's movement stopped immediately. There was no way they could continue doing this with Sano around. No, it was not only mentally wrong for Kaoru to be making out with Kenshin when her brother was next door, she wasn't quite sure she could remain quiet long enough to hide her presence if they were to continue.
Panicked and pumped with adrenaline, Kaoru quickly looked at Kenshin who in turn looked at her. He signaled for her to button up her shirt as he himself picked up his own.
"Hey, Kenshin, are you there? I want to use the bathroom now, if that's fine with you." Sano bellowed.
Kenshin gestured for Kaoru to be quiet as he took a couple calming breaths before he opened his bedroom door and said that Sano could use the bathroom.
Sano was about to oblige before he took in his roommate's appearance. Kenshin, trying his best to play an innocent act, merely looked at him stupidly. Sano's eyes narrowed in amused suspicion before he laughed.
"Oh man, I'm sorry. I didn't know you had a girl with you." Kenshin's eyes went so wide in surprise that Sano laughed even harder. From his room, they could hear a small thud, as if someone had fallen to the ground by surprise. That someone was obviously Kaoru, but Sano didn't know this. Still laughing, he made his way to the bathroom.
"Really dude, I'm sorry."
The moment Sano closed the door, Kenshin immediately ushered Kaoru outside. The two of them tip-toed all the way to the front, just steps away from the door. She then turned around and sacrificed a toothy grin, causing Kenshin to blush.
"No wonder Sano found out. Your hair's a mess and I gave you kiss marks all over. Sorry about that, I wasn't aware myself."
As Kenshin's blush deepened, Kaoru laughed. It was again at that exact moment that Sano opened the bathroom door and demanded for shampoo because the one in the tub ran out. Kenshin immediately pushed Kaoru out the door as a naked Sano, only covering what was necessary with his towel, walked out of the bathroom.
"Sure, I have a new bottle of shampoo in my room." Kenshin said weakly, trying his best to maintain his innocent act.
Seeing the highly embarrassed and awkward looking Kenshin, Sano smirked before he shook his head and said,
"Alright man, just go send your lady friend home first, alright? I'll be waiting here patiently."
Kenshin barely nodded before he himself went to the other side of the door, where Kaoru was placing both hands over her mouth so that she wasn't going to create any unnecessary sounds.
"You should go home for now. I'll call you later." Kenshin hurriedly whispered. Kaoru nodded and she went down the flight of stairs. Kenshin took his time to stare at her disappearing form, and it was only then did he realize what just occurred between the two of them.
Suddenly, his feet lost their ability to support him.
As Sano was waiting patiently in the living room for his new bottle of shampoo, he smirked at himself. Good for Kenshin. He finally got laid. Admittedly, Sano was a bit disappointed that Kenshin didn't wait for Kaoru, but a man's got his needs, right?
Chuckling, he made his way to the kitchen to see whether there's anything cool to drink. To pass the kitchen, he passed the door leading to the hallway outside. Something there caused him to stop in his tracks, however.
His eyes narrowed dangerously at a pair of shoes.
Precariously familiar female shoes. There was even an ink stain on one of the pair. A stain that Sano was convinced he had created.
Realization hit him.
Those shoes belonged to his sister.
-to be continued-
Now, do you guys see what I meant when I said that I liked the latter parts of the chapter more than I do the beginning? Haha, the whole Kenshin-Kaoru thing was fun to write. In contradiction, the whole Soujiro-Kaoru thing was so annoying. I guess I'm currently not sad enough to write sad scenes, but I hope it turned out okay. Let me know what you guys think!
I seriously am determined to finish this story, and to prove that to you, I am already planning and organizing the next chapter. Let us be patient and wait for it, okay? Oh, I just wanted to let everyone know that I will be moving (again) within the next couple of months, so that may disrupt my fiction again, though I will try my best to not let that happen. I will be a law student as of this August! Wish me luck! ... Seriously, I would need luck.
Anyway, this is the first time in a long while that I updated fast enough that I think my reviewers would still remember what they wrote. So, on to the reviewers!
-to the reviewers-
The Only Love For Soujiro Seta - Yes, I'm sorry I haven't updated in so long... Thanks for sticking with me though!
Crewel - Yay, you remember me! I remember you too! Haha, sorry there was no Sano-Megumi interaction (cause I'm finally focusing on Kaoru-Kenshin), but I hope you like how the story's coming so far.
deliriou599 - Sorry you had to reread the whole story again! Yes, Kaoru finally wakes up but sorry, I just had to put more angst. Haha!
Adelaide MacGregor - Hey you! Thank you so much for sticking with the story. I'm also aware that you're reading Alphabets, so double thanks to you!
SnowCharms - Uhm, please don't kill me?
poems2songs - Thank you for your review! Yes, I tend to make very dramatic plots - I just couldn't help myself. Haha, I hope you enjoy drama because there's more in store.
enchantedsleeper - Haha! Your review was funny (the part where you said "this is where Kenshin's the piano player, right?"). I'm sorry it took me so long to update, but I'm sure you know how it is - life just takes the best out of you at times. But I appreciate you remembering the plot despite all these years.
WolfSpirt - Yay, a review~
nEeLLoC - Aw, your review was so sweet! Thank you for not giving up on this story (and for putting it in your favorites list). I'm sorry you had to reread the entire thing again to refresh your memory, but I hope you enjoyed it.
mitty - Thank you!
nes - I remember you! I enjoyed reading your review and yes, you managed to make me feel extremely nostalgic after reading it. Haha, I couldn't help but to look up those authors again and reread some of their stories. It is sad how the majority of them discontinued their story, I agree with you. And... wait, what? It's been five years? Wowwwww~ Time sure flies fast!
Please review so I'll update soon :) !
Thanks for reading!