Disclaimer: I don't own the series Rurouni Kenshin by Watsuki.

Warning: shounen-ai (boys' love) between Kenshin and Aoshi

Note: difficult character development (possible OOC-ness); Aoshi - 3rd person - POV

Something So Beautiful, It's Frightening

by K (DoD)

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Hitokiri Battousai... The legendary manslayer... Aoshi never thought his mental image of the slayer would be wiped away as soon as that boy stepped into the room. Red hair pulled back into a taut ponytail, bangs framing the brightest pair of violet eyes, a dark x-shaped scar; this man... no, boy, was a dangerous, yet heavenly sight.

How beautiful... Aoshi couldn't help from thinking. His hand twitched in his pocket as another man accompanied this death-wrought angel; the taller man's rugged and loose demeanor a disgrace to the petite redhead. Spilling blood, the redhead took a small step forward, droplets of blood following in his wake. The taller man, with brown hair shifted into a strange, spiked style that resembled a poultry, flexed his fist and spoke in a horrible voice to the small man.

Aoshi greeted the two and gave a light tease to lure in the manslayer. Sadly, the larger, idiot-man took the bait and rushed forward, winding back his fist to throw a punch. How pitiful. Aoshi swiftly moved out of the way, languidly turning to see the moron try and strike him again. Stepping out of range, he deftly struck the back of the man's neck at the base of the head, perfectly timed with man's assault to send him flying a few feet more than he should've landed. At the Battousai's feet, the redhead prayed the other man be well and took his step forward into battle. Aoshi noted two others appearing in the double doorway, identical expressions of surprise at their fallen comrade, and the feel of a battle-to-be.

A girl...? She did not reek of physical beauty, but she held a powerful charisma to her that shouted her loyalty and her inner emotions. The small, dark-haired child beside her looked like he was found off the street, his hair cut at odd angles and falling ridiculously into his eyes. What a pitiful bunch... To think that the legendary manslayer would associate himself with such lowlifes! And where did they find that bird-headed man? Surely, the Hitokiri could find a better pair of warriors to house with for that woman upstairs? Well, perhaps not... As they say, the legendary manslayer wanted to rid himself of his bloodthirsty past. If only I got to him before then. I-WE-could've used his talents for a better purpose.

Aoshi sighed inwardly and lightly battled verbally with the redhead, his words like a master feline, purring and leisurely clawing at the other man. It was an art he loved whenever he found something that interested in. Of course, there was still the matter of perfection, but he also had a bad habit of becoming a predatory animal in front of his enemy.

This man is certainly not a pushover. Aoshi loved a challenge, and he was practically rolling in catnip as he battled the redhead. If only this battle was slightly different, with less harsh consequences, and a more comfortable atmosphere... He wanted a challenge, but of a different kind. Would this small redhead show him, allow him such a fantasy?

The pain of seeing himself fail was like a knife twisting in his heart. No, it didn't have to be plunged in there to be twisted; it always was there. Aoshi's heart was broken and ripped apart as, one-by-one, his comrades fell to that deadly man-killing machine of the coming-century. Objects no larger than the size of his thumb were thrust into the bodies of his friends, and shattered them from the inside, tearing at their life and heart. Aoshi couldn't keep in his startled gasp as he called out to his three friends. They had grown up together, fought together, built together. Aoshi could not forgive the man with the weapon called the "gun," and he certainly could not let him live.

However, that boy... he risked his life for Aoshi to stop the man himself. So swift... so agile... like an angel with Death in his hand, Aoshi was astounded and speechless. This man let him live, and carried out his unspoken revenge. How dare he...

The manslayer had enough respect to leave him alone to bury his own comrades. Unmarked graves were not enough to honor their deaths. Flowers were hardly something he could offer to add to their burial. How sad... He would complete his goal and carry out their dream. Well, now it was only his dream, since they could no longer search and thrive for it.

Aoshi trained and poured his heart into becoming stronger. When a power rose to take him in and let him grow, he took the chance. He knew that through this man with bandages over his skin, he would meet the Hitokiri Battousai again. They were destined to fight once more.

A library... Aoshi loved to read, and the small library at the bandage-man's base/ home was his hiding spot. A second home from his own in Kyoto...

Aoshi was far too busy in his training and his obsession to meet and fight the manslayer to pay heed to anyone else. Misao... poor pitiful girl had to take care of herself now. Her "big brother" would not always be there for her. No, Aoshi had something else besides his "sister" on his mind, and it was focused on a certain redhead.

Footsteps echoed down the hall to where Aoshi resided, casually leaning back against the sofa. Several pairs... It was hard to decipher and tell which one was of the little redhead's. Boots... martial art shoes... women's slippers... sandals. There they were. The twin doors leading to and from the darkened library opened slowly, exposing large amounts of light into his dimly lit room. Ah, there in the middle, the sweet death trap he was looking for. Those eyes shone even with so little light. How alluring...

Aoshi couldn't help his tongue as he flicked his tongue and licked the scent of an upcoming battle. The hunger to fight and get things over with pooled from the smaller man. Oh, but Aoshi wanted the battle to last a long time. He wanted to draw out the other man's skills. Perhaps he wanted to frighten him, or intimidate him. Perhaps he wanted to lure out that manslayer dwelling deep in slumber within him. ...Who knew? All Aoshi could care about was that he finally met up with the Hitokiri once again and he was about to experience another battle that would either send him soaring into victory, or else falling into the pits of shame and defeat. Either way, he knew he would enjoy this battle for greatness, and this war of inner emotions and cursed obsession.

Broken books, pages, bookcases --- everything took flight in their battle. Aoshi's eyes glowed in lust and his heart thrived for more. His mind was set on one achievement, but his heart and body wanted something else. Battle cries were made, and the redhead uselessly tried to win him over and calm him down. Oh, no, I won't stop, Battousai. I want your flesh and blood. You will fight me! Fight me with everything you have!

How stupid. Once again cast aside, rejected, Aoshi was left to clean up the mess. He met the eyes of the black-haired man who wore the fake military suit. The man's narrow black eyes shone of a superior and triumphant emotion. Damn him. He knew. It was almost as if those eyes warned for him to back off. What? Was this little redhead someone else's property? Or would the manslayer-turned-peacemaker simply not allow anyone to touch him or those of his concern? How simple, yet revolting. Aoshi cursed himself. He supposed that the redhead had something else on his mind other than battling Aoshi himself.

Was in the bandaged man? Well, best of luck, Hitokiri Battousai. ...Or, is it 'Kenshin Himura' now? Ah, what a wonderful name. Aoshi had to congratulate the master that named this heavenly creature. Such a name for the once deadliest human on Earth...

Aoshi banished himself to a shrine, set to clear his thoughts. The Battousai could finish his deal, and Aoshi could calm his heart. The racing thump of its beat was almost too difficult to handle, so for hours and days on end he stayed at the shrine and prayed and thought in silence, confining himself so that even the sounds of nature could not reach his ears.

He missed the sounds of certain voices, certain people calling out his name. He wanted only one person to speak to him. But, no, he had to rid himself of those thoughts, of those wishes, of those dreams that were impossible and too idealist.

The doors to the shrine opened and forced sunlight into his eyes. For so long he was stuck in a darkened room, and the light cursed him. though his back was facing the doors, he knew the person to be Misao. The girl always came by to check up on him and ask if he wanted something to eat. Sometimes she would ignore his declines and leave him trays of food or water for him to eat and drink later. But... she came slightly earlier than he normally expected her. If the sun was still shining so brightly, surely it was not time for the evening meal. She had already come by for lunch, so what could she want now? The sun was shining, so clouds weren't overhead and promising rain. What could it be?

"Aoshi."

Eyes snapping open at the new, yet familiar voice, Aoshi broke his prayer and turned to face the light, and the person haloed by its holy shine. It wasn't... was it? How could he tell with his eyes forced into slits because of the damning light?

Thankfully, this person closed the doors behind them, letting both their eyes adjust to the dimly lit room. Aoshi stood slowly as he blinked, letting his eyes return to the comfortable darkness.

"Aoshi."

There it was again, that voice, calling his name. Staring at the person with their back to the doors, Aoshi almost couldn't suppress his surprised gasp. With difficulty, he composed himself and slowly returned to that lazy-like cat with the predatory manner.

"I came to see how you were doing. Misao told me that you were at the shrine again today. Do you come here often, then?"

Well, yes. Of course he did. How else could he repent and fix his crooked mind if all that noise, and that girl and her friends and family surrounded him? He couldn't stay out in the open if he wanted to achieve his goal. It was a different, more calming goal this time, at least, but he was still as determined to accomplish it.

"Ah, I see Misao left you some food. ...Why didn't you eat it? Aoshi."

Please, stop saying my name. Why did he have to utter his name in such a manner? Aoshi didn't know how, but this man had a way of making any name roll off his tongue with such a polite, yet suggestive manner. It was so wonderful when he shouted out his name...

"Are you almost done? I'd like to take a walk outside while the day is still nice. It's such a wonderful day, don't you think? Why do you keep yourself locked up in here with no sunlight? It's not good for you, Aoshi."

There it was yet again. How many times was his name said? Three times? Four? What did it matter? He loved it. Not really paying attention to what he was doing, Aoshi slowly and languidly approached the shorter man. It was almost as if he was stuck in a trance...

Reaching out, his hand brushed bangs and a few stray locks. Ah, this skin...

No!

Aoshi removed his hand and settled it by his side. This man's presence was not helping his recovery. Perhaps if he could blind himself in the sun and rid himself of looking at this wonderful skin and wonderful face, and probably just as wonderful body, he could finally be at peace.

Shifting past the man, he opened the doors behind him and stepped into the blinding sun. He didn't dare look back as he suggested they take that "walk" the other man asked for earlier.

Surprisingly, a hand lightly landed on his arm, just above the elbow, and Aoshi couldn't help but instinctively look. Violet eyes shone in the mid-afternoon sun, and his simple-colored clothes made his natural beauty all the more radiant. Aoshi couldn't find his voice, nor his mouth, but another's did as it woke him from a strange and unnatural slumber.

"Why must you torture me?"

Why must I experience this pain you give, that's so wonderful it hurts more than having a knife drawn through my heart?

"What?"

"Why are you here? Why are you so..."

"What am I, Aoshi? A killer? A lover? A friend? Just a man standing at your side?"

"You're..."

You're something deadly like a cobra ready to strike when threatened. You're a man with many faces and one heart. You are a gentle woman in a man's bloodstained body. You're something so beautiful, it's frightening.

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AN: Very different from my usual style of writing, SSBIF is a one-shot that I didn't plan (even though that's not so different). The only thing I had in mind when I wrote this was that I would somehow, subtly, display Aoshi's obsession-slash-love for Kenshin and being the best. I got the idea from the episode called "Something so Beautiful, It's Frightening," watching it off Toonami Saturday night. I first laughed at the title for being so suggestive, but then boiled with a thought of making it a story revolving around Aoshi and his obsession. Kenshin was thrown in there to be his crutch and purpose, as well as his purpose of failing. I've already seen all (or most?) of the anime RK, and for those who have as well can exact what episodes I was referring to throughout the story. It's been a while since I've seen the show, and I've barely picked up the manga, so the interpretation and reenactments might be off or slightly different. All the same, I hope everyone enjoyed it and how I portrayed Aoshi. He's difficult to do, since I was trying to make his character a little more "whole" while still keeping him "in character." The last scene, though, is entirely made up. It's a nasty cliffhanger for a one-shot, and I do love and hate doing it. I dislike writing explicit sexual scenes, so I kept the romance to a minimum, especially Aoshi's feelings weren't supposed to be so blunt. All in all, this one-shot was very difficult for me, and painfully short. I hope all readers still like it, though. Please, send me your comment and fill the review box with your opinions. Good or bad, I'd still like to know where I went wrong and prevailed in. Thank you!