Disclaimer: RK and its chracters are not mine

Minna-san! Honto ni gomen nasai! Sorry sorry sorry for the looooooooooong delay. I really had a hard time writing this chapter. Major writer's block. I will try my best to make the updates faster.

To crying-oro, thank you for your emails and messages!

To all the readers and the reviewers, thank you so much for your support!

Anyway, here it is, no more delays! Enjoy!

---Chapter 14: Our Lives are Like Entangled Webs---

Kaoru's POV

I watched as Kenshin coldly uttered a quick good bye to our parents before quickly getting inside the house. It was quite obvious that he could not wait to leave from our presence.

A sigh escaped his mother's lips as she politely bowed to us, followed by her husband. Then they slowly walked towards the direction of their house, while conversing softly to each other.

"Good night Kaoru. Make sure that you have a good night's sleep, okay? It has been a very long day for you, with your jet lag and all," my mother gave me a hug as we stood on the street outside our houses.

I suddenly felt guilty for lying about my arrival to my parents. It's either I would tell them the truth or pretend that I am indeed suffering jetlag and sleep all day tomorrow. Guess, I have to stay up late tonight to achieve that. "Why do I have to stay here Okaasan? Can't I stay with you at our house?"

"Kaoru, this is your home now. You have to get used to it," My mother answered in a reprimanding tone. "Just come by the house tomorrow and we will have a chat. You can bring your husband with you. Maybe we'll have a late lunch or dinner altogether with your in laws."

I hugged my father next and then we said our goodbyes for the night. Picking up my bag, I went inside mine and Kenshin's house. After slowly closing the door and removing my shoes, I paused by the entrance and let my eyes wander on the familiar corridor and the living room and kitchen that were connected to it. Everything was still the same; it looked like I have never left the house for three years. The TV and the couch were still in the same position, the curtains by the windows still having that same blue design and the dining table still stood by the kitchen counter. "Tadaima (I'm home)"

The sound of footsteps descending the stairs caught my attention and I saw Kenshin going down, still dressed in the same black pants and white polo shirt that he wore in the party. The only difference was that his shirt was now untucked and a few buttons were off revealing his chest.

I guess you can add that to the list of things that were still the same aside from the house: my husband still looked handsome, if not more.

He crossed the living room and went directly to the kitchen, obviously pretending that I didn't exist. I watched in amusement as he opened the refrigerator, took a water bottle and drank directly from it. He had been acting really grouchy ever since we entered the party together earlier that evening. He barely said a few words to anyone, much less me. And whenever he talked, he never failed to slip in a snide comment about how unhappy he was that I was back.

Just as I expected on how he would react. It doesn't really surprise me anymore. I'm really impressed because it seemed like his dislike for me grew throughout the three years, I never thought it could get any worse.

"I just wonder, how long will you continue this tirade and avoid me?" I asked as I moved from my spot and went towards the kitchen where he still was.

"Don't worry, I will be leaving two days from now and return to Tokyo. We will be far away from each other once again," he replied, not bothering to look at me.

I sighed and sat on a chair, crossing my arms over my chest. "Don't you get tired of this? It has been 4 years already, aren't you getting tired of hating me?" I asked him once again, remembering the time when I asked these questions to Kenshin 3 years ago (Chapter 9). I was still so in love and hurting back then. However, right now, the dominant feeling inside of me was just weariness about our situation. Last time, I was pleading for him to give me attention. This time, I only wanted answers for his very unpleasant attitude.

"Well, 4 years is not really enough so no," he washed his hands in the sink, replying in that still cold tone.

"Are you going to be like this forever? You told me before that this will eventually end when we grow up, work and earn some money, yada yada yada," I continued leaning my chin on the table, not tearing my gaze away from him. "Does this mean that you are admitting that you haven't really grown up? Still the same old immature Kenshin who thinks only about himself, ne?"

"Think only about myself? You don't know what I have been through these past few years," he turned around and looked at me angrily. "Just shut up and leave me alone." He threw the towel on the table and stomped away.

"Well that's too bad. I will be going to Tokyo with you," I called out to his back, not backing down. I will definitely have to win this one and have the last word. "Suteki da ne (Isn't it wonderful)?"

To say that he was furious was an understatement. He stomped right back into the kitchen to where I was sitting and slammed his hand on the table in front of me. He leaned his face towards me, his now amber-colored eyes burned with more anger. He was so close that I felt his breath on my cheeks. "No you won't. You will stay here and stay out of my life!"

"Well, bad news buddy, you definitely are not the boss of me and I will do whatever I want," I leaned closer and raised an eyebrow at him. If I lean two inches more, our noses will be touching, another more, our lips would touch as well. The tension between us was so thick that I almost had trouble breathing. "This is not only about you now, Kenshin, this is about me too. I totally refuse to let you make my decisions for me."

"Why do you have to continually ruin my life!" He really looked like he was about to hit me but he didn't. Instead he gripped my arm hard. "You have no right to come back waltzing into my life, acting like you are so cool and you have the world at your fingertips! You think I care? You think by changing like that, improving your looks, you will have me like you have always wanted? I don't care because I will never like you."

I had the greatest urge to slap him, or to hurt him in any way possible but I decided against it at the last minute. Does he honestly think that I would crumble as soon as I learned that he wouldn't like me and he loathed my existence? "God you are such an arrogant bastard." I stood up and looked at him eye to eye, our faces still only inches apart. "I did not change for you. Do you really think that after all these years in Paris; I will still be pathetic and pinning over you? Get over yourself asshole."

Now, it was my turn to turn my back on him and stomped away.

How I love to get even with Himura Kenshin.

"You really did that?" Misao asked. "You really told Kenshin to get over himself?"

"Yeah," I answered lazily as I took a sip of my coffee. "He was really being a jerk so I think that just served him right."

It was two days after the engagement party and Misao dropped by our house to chat with me for a while. Later this evening, she and Aoshi will be going back to Tokyo. Tomorrow morning, Kenshin and I will be doing the same.

But for now, we decided to devote some time together to talk and catch up before going back to our busy lives in Tokyo. Here in this bright Monday morning, we were out in the front porch reveling the quietness of the morning.

"If you hate him so much, then why are you still willing to live in the same house with him in Tokyo?" my friend asked thoughtfully.

Yes, it was actually odd indeed that I will share the house with Kenshin, willingly. "I have several reasons for that: first, it is what our parents want. Now that wouldn't encourage me alone so the second, the rent in Tokyo is very very expensive, and I'm planning on investing my hard earned money on something. Instead of renting a room where I have to pay, why don't I just live in my OWN house? It's not as if it's his alone. If he doesn't want to live with me, then he should move out."

"What about your privacies? It is not exactly known that Kenshin is married in Tokyo. It will be very hard for the both of you to pretend that you are not married while living in the same house." She reached for her coffee on the table and took a sip.

I snorted. I can count in one finger the number of times I have seen my husband inside the house during these past two days. It was either he is outside or inside his room. He was making a good job of avoiding me. It was as if I'm the only one who is living inside our house. "Believe me, it won't be difficult."

"But what if he brings girls over? He is not exactly unpopular in school and is inside the active dating circle in Tokyo."

"Girls? He's what!" He was in the active dating circle? The last time I checked he was madly in love with Tomoe and was on the verge of killing me for ruining his perfect relationship. In fact, our marriage did not stop him from going out with her. "You mean Tomoe?"

Misao's blue eyes widened in shock as soon as I asked her that? "You didn't know?"

I rolled my eyes at her. "Know what? I wasn't here for three years Misao and you are my only source of information."

"No, you're parents did not tell you? It was a very big issue between them…especially between Kenshin and his father" she suddenly looked uncertain as she unconsciously stirred her spoon inside her cup.

Big issue? Then I suddenly realized how aloof Kenshin was whenever we are around our parents and how there was a heavy tension on last night's dinner that made the atmosphere very uncomfortable. In fact, I never saw Kenshin talk to his father, not even once. The conversations were mostly directed to me. I just assumed that it was because I was out of the country… but… "Why what happened with Kenshin and his parents?"

"Well your parents found out that Kenshin was still seeing Tomoe during first year college so your in laws interfered and cause the bankruptcy of the Yukishiro's business. That is why their family was forced to move away and Kenshin did not see Tomoe again. In fact no one has seen her for two years now. It was like she vanished," she said not meeting my eyes. " Kenshin was so angry that is why he did not go back here for two years until now. He also refused to speak to his father ever since."

"Think only about myself? You don't know what I have been through these past few years."

I suddenly understood where Kenshin was pulling out his newfound anger; they proceeded with it, the blackmail. The reason why Kenshin married me was because he wanted to save the girl that he loved from the devastation his parents were threatening to inflict on her. I could still remember when he told me the reason behind his consent on our marriage and why he would not make it any harder for our parents.

"I can't let that happen. Tomoe has a lot of dreams to fulfill so she can't become poor because of me. I love her so much."

I felt anger and disappointment towards my parents and Kenshin's parents. Even Tomoe doesn't deserve that. She and her family did not do anything to deserve that. Kenshin and I did our part of the deal and got married, they should not have dragged Tomoe into this mess. 'Even though he was cheating on me with her. He still fulfilled what his parents asked of him' In fact it wasn't really Tomoe who was the other woman in Kenshin's life, it was me.

Is that why you still hate me so much Kenshin?

"So what happened after that?" I glanced at the direction where Kenshin's room was situated. I can't believe that I'm feeling sorry for that jerk. Tomoe was really a kind person. I will never forget the kindness she has shown me during 2nd year high school.

"Well, we tried to look for her of course. Kenshin did everything he could to look for her. He called her friends, her relatives, anyone related to her. He went to any possible places that he thought she could be. He missed classes for almost 2 weeks and almost failed some of his subjects. But he did not find a single trace of her. Then he drank almost every night that Aoshi had to stay with him to make sure that he was okay," my friend sighed. "He detached himself from us for a while and poured himself on his studies. Then a few months after that he suddenly hanged out and dated many girls. But he never took them seriously, even now. I guess he doesn't want to get close to someone. Not that he has the right to given that you two are married and all."

"It's amazing how you know so much about him while I, his wife, know next to nothing," I suddenly blurted out, realizing that Misao and Kenshin really became good friends during the past three years that I was gone. For a fleeting moment, I was bitter. How can he let someone such as Misao, whom he doesn't really know during high school, close to him while he kept me, his childhood friend and his wife, distant?

The moment was gone almost as soon as it passed. And I suddenly wanted to change the topic. It was no good dwelling about the past. What was done is done. I cannot let myself feel sympathetic towards Kenshin because I don't want to allow myself to let him hurt me again. It wasn't only his and Tomoe's feelings that were hurt in this very complicated situation, I was hurt too as well.

In fact, all of his hatred in our situation was poured into hating me. It was unfair.

I won't allow you of that courtesy ever again Kenshin. I won't willingly let you hurt me again.

I sighed. "If ever he indeed takes girls home…" The thought of my husband nuzzling some girl on our couch while I entered the living room crossed my mind. I mentally shook my head of the thought, disgusted. "…then I will bring a boy of my own to take home. Two can play at that game."

Misao almost choked at the water she was just sipping. "Ee? Are you serious Kaoru-chan?"

I laughed at her stunned expression. "Who knows? Whatever Kenshin does is none of my business. Whether he goes out with one or a few girls, I really don't care. It was not as if this marriage is real to begin with. " True. Whatever he does with his life, it was none of my business. "We haven't even consummated this marriage so it is almost as good as non existent. I am hugely considering getting an annulment right after he graduates from college. Although, I don't know when I would tell my dear husband about this. The idea of staying married to me was making him suffer and I really wanted him to suffer more.

"If you do that you are removing him from your life. Are you saying that you are over Himura Kenshin?"

As if someone pushed a button in my system, I automatically answered, "Yes, I'm over him."

"Chotto matte kudasai! (Please wait for a moment!) Kenshin! Kenshin!" I called to Kenshin as I struggled with my bags' heavy weight. I scowled at my big red luggage, contemplating whether I should continue carrying it or leave it here to rot.

Kenshin continued walking as if he did not hear me calling, strolling briskly with his single backpack. It was obvious that he is mocking me. That stupid jerk. He did not even bother to help me.

Come to think of it, I would not help him if he were in this situation.

It was Tuesday and we were in the Kyoto Train station, catching a bullet train to Tokyo. My parents and Kenshin's mother drove us to the station but left shortly, as soon as we said our goodbyes and promised that we (or I for that matter) will return for New Year.

I was about to call a station personnel and ask for help with my belongings when Kenshin returned with an empty trolley in tow. He did not say anything as he pushed it slowly in my direction and then once again went on his way towards the platform where our train was.

Well, well. Did the sun rise at the west this morning? Something seemed wrong at this situation…

'Did my husband just help me?' I stared openmouthed at his back, still unable to grasp the fact that he did. What is wrong with the world today?

A few minutes later, I was pushing the trolley towards the baggage compartment and left it as soon as someone took it. I silently made my way inside the train, my mind puzzled with my husband's sudden kind act. I found him already sitting comfortably by the window, the seat beside him empty. My seat.

"Doumo Arigatou (Thank you)," I said silently as soon as I sat beside him. However, I didn't think he heard me because he was too engrossed in his Ipod and his eyes were closed. I sighed in resignation and leaned back on my seat, busying myself with my mobile phone.

I was disturbed from my mobile game an hour later by the sound of a few giggles coming from the seat opposite ours. I slightly glanced in front and saw two college girls who are whispering at each other while stealing glances at my companion. I can't help but roll my eyes at the familiar scene. Some things indeed never change.

I turned my head at looked at Kenshin. His red bangs falling over his closed eyes, his head tilted a little to one side. I have no idea if he was sleeping or not but either way, he looked peaceful.

In the end, you still lost her. Do you miss her Kenshin? I can't imagine how he must feel when he learned that Tomoe was gone and would never come back to him. Was he hurt so badly? Did he cry?

Did he wish at that moment to just die instead of continue on living without her?

He loved her so much…

Once again I found myself wondering about the mysteries running inside Himura Kenshin's head.

Kenshin suddenly stirred from his sleep and slowly opened his eyes and caught mine looking at him. "What are you looking at?"

I shook my head and leaned back on my seat to resume on the game that I was focused on a few minutes ago. "Nothing, I didn't know that you drool while you are asleep."

He immediately brought his hand to the corner of his mouth to check if he was indeed drooling or not. He looked at me reproachfully. "I do not drool."

I smiled not taking my eyes off the screen. "If you say so."

Majority of the trip was spent in silence as we stepped out of the train and I waited for my bags. I was almost sure that Kenshin will go on ahead and leave me alone in the station but he just stood behind me and waited while I collected my bags. I was surprised further when he snatched the big red bag from my hand and walked ahead without saying anything.

I ran to his side and glared at him. "I did not ask for your help. I can do it myself."

"I don't want to get delayed. I have kendo practice an hour from now," he replied coolly as he shifted his hold from my bag to his other hand, safely out of my reach.

"Baka (idiot)," I muttered and said nothing more as we went out of the station and hailed a taxicab.

Indeed, what was wrong with the world today? Three days ago he was blatantly swearing off my existence when I told him that I was going to Tokyo. I have expected that he would do anything to prevent me from coming here but now it was as if he was not making it any harder for me. Of course, there was always a hidden agenda behind his deeds. I always knew that.

It was a good thing that I am immune to him by now. I really am.

We arrived at the house 30 minutes later and before I could get the chance to retreat to my room (which I haven't seen before), Kenshin pulled me to the living room to talk.

"I just want to make it clear, let us not interfere in each other's business. You can't tell anyone in here that we are married. No one must know that we are living together. And please don't answer the phone. I will prevent my friends from coming over here; however, in cases that I can't stop them please don't let yourself be seen. You are right I am tired of fighting with you and hating you with my whole being, I just want to live my life here without having to worry if you will poison me the next day. We are grown-ups now; let us just go on with our lives separately. Don't ruin my life here, I won't ruin yours.

Fine. What a way to show how welcome I am at our house. But still it was a decent conversation that did not involved any shouting or arguing on both parties. I nodded my assent to him and did not say anything else. After all, it was exactly what I wanted too, ne?

And now I'm here inside our house, all alone for he went out to go to his kendo practice. I doubt if he will go home early tonight.

Not that I care.

The first thing I did right after unpacking my clothes and arranging my room was to indulge myself a tour around the house. For a house that has been inhabited by a male specie for almost 3 years, it was surprisingly clean and in order. In fact, I had to admit that this house was way cleaner than some of my girl friends' houses in France. The living room was neatly arranged with everything such as the remote, books, newspaper, etc were in their proper places. The kitchen was quite heavenly because the refrigerator is fully stocked, all the dishes, glasses and other kitchenware were gleaming and inside the cabinets plus there wasn't a dirty spot staining the sink. I seriously didn't categorize Kenshin as the clean freak type so this was a surprise for me. When we were living together in Kyoto 3 years ago, we had Yamada-san to take care of all the house duties for us.

Quite thankful that I did not have to go out and buy ingredients, I raided the refrigerator and prepared a simple tuna dish for dinner. After eating, I settled myself comfortably in the leather couch, thinking about what I should do for the next day. I smiled, suddenly remembering a promise that I made to a friend not too long ago.

I reached out for my mobile phone on top of the table and dialed a number that I haven't dialed for quite a while. After four rings, the person on the other line finally answered. "Moshi moshi (Hello)"

"Tadaima (I'm home), Enishi"

Kenshin's POV

Hiko placed me in a very rigorous training as soon as I set a foot inside his dojo after arriving from Kyoto.

"Well, we have to make up for that three days that you missed baka deshi! I don't want you to lose that match because you are out of shape!"

For four straight hours, I found myself sparring with my master while constantly enduring all of his insults to my sword skill and my humanity.

It was almost 8pm when practice ended. Even though I was seriously tired and exhausted physically and mentally, I could still say that the practice was really fulfilling. I could feel that I am now ready to fight Enishi on our match three days from now.

I loved training. Probably it was because kendo kept my mind from thinking too much. Two years ago when Tomoe left me, I dedicated myself into my training. It became an escape of some sorts. And it was exactly what I needed right now, to escape from my current predicament.

I was packing my things inside my backpack when Hiko entered the locker area. "Baka deshi, accompany your uncle to drink some sake."

On normal days, I would have whined and make up some excuse because accompanying him was usually a torture; however today, I accepted without any struggles. I needed some alcohol in my system anyway.

After closing the dojo, we headed towards a noodle house nearby.

"What happened to your trip to Kyoto?" My master asked as he poured some sake in our cups.

"Aoshi and Misao's engagement went smoothly. My parents are also fine. Akira is already getting ready to take the bar exams this autumn," I answered not wanting to go into details.

"Have you talked to my brother?"

"No," was my immediate reply.

We fell silent afterwards, quietly drinking while immersing ourselves in our own thoughts. Then Hiko thrust his empty cup towards me, signaling that he wanted me to pour sake in his cup.

I immediately obliged and slowly poured his cup up to the rim.

"Even though I don't exactly approve of your idiot father's actions, I still think that you should talk to him soon," My uncle advised as he drank all the contents of his cup in one go. "What do you think can you accomplish if you give him the cold shoulder forever?"

"I just want him to stop manipulating my life," I answered looking down at my hands. My father has been a very manipulative man ever since I was a child. He wanted everything done according to what he desires.

"Well I doubt if he would stop even if you are doing what you are doing. He has been like that ever since we were kids, why would he stop now? You just have to accept that. "

My uncle Hiko and my father, even though they are brothers, were not close to each other. There was never a time when I saw these two meet eye to eye in agreement to something. However, during their younger years, my father was the more favored sibling in the family. In my grandparents' eyes, otousan was the more intelligent, more obedient and better qualified to be the successor of the family business.

Uncle Hiko was the exact opposite. He never cared at the least for the welfare of the business and was more capable of deciding for himself (in my father's words, defying the family) than my father. You can also say that he loved his swordsmanship more than his duties as the family heir so after high school, he decided to not continue going to college and developed his skill as a swordsman instead.

Yielding a sword was not really forbidden in the family; in fact it was highly encouraged. However, it was not a favored career path. After stubbornly refusing to give up his dreams, he finally had enough. He moved out of their house and decided to live on his own in Tokyo.

Even after so many years, my father and my uncle never got rid of the sibling rivalry between them.

So what I'm wondering about right now was why my uncle suggested that I talk to my father again after everything that he did to me.

"So are you saying that I should just step aside and pretend that I'm okay with what he is doing?" I snapped, trying very hard to keep my temper in check. Issues about my father always have the capacity to make my blood boil.

"No I'm just saying that there are better ways to approach this predicament than the one you are doing right now," he answered patiently as he sipped on his sake cup. "Can't you see? What you are doing right now is running away. That's what you are doing ever since you moved here in Tokyo. I did not take care of you for the past three years just to remain a coward! Change your antics idiot!"

"Still the same old immature Kenshin who thinks only about himself, ne?" Kaoru's voice echoed into my head as I processed what my uncle was saying. But what should I do? How should I deal with my family and my marriage?

Uncle Hiko suddenly sat up straight as he moved slightly forward to look at something more closely. He smirked and said; "Now I know the reason for your sudden impatience and short temper."

I let my eyes followed what he was looking at and I froze on the spot.

A few meters away from us, I saw my friends Sagara Sanosuke and Tsunan Tsukioka (aka Katsu) talking persistently to Kaoru. From an outsider's perspective, it was kind of obvious that my friends were trying to hit on Kaoru with their playful smiles and aura. Kaoru looked very uncomfortable as the three guys towered over her. She continually looked at her two side, possibly attempting to make a quick exit. Knowing my buddies' persistence, it would be very difficult to escape from them without giving them a name at the least. I would have laughed out loudly at the scene in front of me if it weren't Kaoru whom they were hitting on.

"You three idiots! Stop harassing that girl already!" My uncle suddenly barked out loud, capturing the attention of my friends and my wife.

I was suddenly horrified. Will Hiko reveal to my friends that I am married and Kaoru was my wife?

"Oi! Hiko! Kenshin! Why didn't you invite me to some sake? I would have come here in a flash," my sake addict friend Sano rushed towards us.

I saw Kaoru's eyes widened a bit as she saw my uncle and me. However, she remained silent and opted to look uncomfortably at the night sky.

"Look at who we bumped into Kenshin. It's the girl from Hikaru's party!" Cho exclaimed, trying hard not to laugh.

Katsu wasn't trying to hold back his laughter at all. "Yeah. Remember? It's the girl whom you—" He stopped when he noticed the deadly glare that I was giving him.

"Well don't just stand there fools, come here and join us for a drink," Hiko ordered shifting his chair side wards to make room for the new arrivals.

My friends were more than happy to comply and joined us, leaving Kaoru standing alone on her spot looking uncertain on what to do.

"Come on Jou-chan, join us here," Sano persuaded her.


"It is quite late already and the streets are a bit dangerous at night. I'm sure you wouldn't want to walk alone. We would take you home," Uncle told her. At the corner of my eye, I noticed that his smirk never left his face.

What was my uncle up to? He really never wanted to miss the chance of making me suffer.

"But I don't know you guys as well. Why should I trust that you are not exactly thinking of some way to harm me?" she countered.

"Ouch missy, we're not like that," Katsu exclaimed pretending to be hurt.

"Stop the charade and come over here already. I know that we have your trust because somehow, you feel like you know us for many years now. Isn't that right?" Hiko said in a tone that was subtly tinged with threat. It was his way of saying that he might expose our secret if Kaoru insisted on staying stubborn.

She considered what he said for a moment and slightly glanced at my direction.

When I was sure that my Sano and the others are busy ordering their sake, I gave her a very slight nod, indicating that she should just do what he said. My Uncle Hiko can be very bothersome if he wanted to.

She gave a sigh then sat down beside Sano, directly in front of me. "What the hell. I guess it wouldn't hurt to hang out with you morons for a while."

The three boys cheered loudly raising their cups of sake.

"All right! Hiko, I didn't know that you can be such a smooth talker to young girls," Katsu remarked jokingly as he slid an empty cup in front of Kaoru.

"Don't be an idiot. She is old enough to be my niece." Uncle Hiko looked at Kaoru knowingly and drank the entire contents of his bottle.

"We should be going now then. It was very nice to meet you Kaoru-san," Katsu gave a polite bow. "Sorry for bothering you tonight with our craziness."

"It's okay. To be honest, I can say that I really had fun talking to you guys." Kaoru answered him with a smile, bowing in return.

"Come on Kenshin! What d'ya mean I can't crash at your place tonight? I have always slept there before!" the drunk Sanosuke yelled out loudly. "Oi. Jou-chan, why don't you stick around for a while and join me for another round? Huh?"

Katsu gripped Sano by the shoulder, stopping him on going back to the noodle stall.

"Make sure that idiot goes safely home," Hiko demanded. "Baka deshi and I will walk Kamiya-san home."

After almost two hours of drinking and talking, we finally parted ways and retired for the night.

It was very awkward for Kaoru for a moment but when Sano and Katsu started asking her questions about herself, everyone's attention was immediately focused on her. She talked about her life in Paris mostly. She refused to answer questions about her love life and firmly said that she wasn't interested about it as of the moment. She was also asked why she angrily said no to me at Hikaru's party. She answered that she thought I was some jerk she knew in the past. She apologized to me after saying that.

As if it was a genuine apology.

"How are you Kaoru? I haven't seen you in a while. I didn't know that you came back from France already. A certain baka forgot to mention that to me." My uncle eyed me knowingly.

I inwardly flinched at his gaze.

"I know Kojiro and Reiko were ecstatic at your return," he continued, as he placed his hands in his pocket. The night was beginning to get a little colder.

"It hasn't been so long since I've returned. I only saw my parents three days ago right before the start of Aoshi and Misao's engagement party," she replied. "How about you Hiko-jisan, how is your dojo doing?"

He laughed. "It's doing great. Baka deshi here actually helped a lot in training some of our students. You know some kendo yourself ne Kaoru? I remember your father trained you when you were younger."

"Hai (yes). My father taught me the Kamiya Kasshin style until I was 14."

I don't think I like where this conversation was heading.

"If you want, you can drop by the dojo sometime and brush up your skills," Hiko offered.

I knew it. I knew it! Damn my masochistic uncle!

Kaoru just blinked at him with a confused expression.

It was almost 10pm when Kaoru and I arrived at our house. As soon as we stepped inside, I opened my mouth to tell her that she should use the bathroom first because I was going to take a bath when she cut me off.

"Wakatta, Wakatta ( I understand, I understand)," she said in an exasperated voice, stomping off to the refrigerator. She looked angry because there was a frown on her face.

"Huh?" I asked confused.

"That I should be more careful and should have known better than to run in with your friends. Don't worry, I would be more careful and try my best to become invisible so as to avoid you. So just keep your comments to yourself okay? I don't want to hear them." She placed her empty glass on sink with a bang and hurried upstairs. A few seconds later, I heard her bedroom door slammed shut.

What the hell was her problem? I was really trying to be civil towards her for once!

I shook my head in resignation and went to my own bedroom.

While sitting in the bathtub, I was thinking about what Hiko said about my immaturity and being a coward for the past three years. But how should I act? What should I do about our situation? Now that Kaoru is here again and we are living in the same house, things became more complicated. How should I go on with my life now? How should I deal with Kaoru?

Why does she have to come here in Tokyo? Why did she make things more difficult by coming back? She could have opted to stay at Paris and stay there until I am old enough to be able to push through with a divorce or an annulment that wouldn't require getting money from my parents for it. How does she think would I adapt to our current situation?

I took a deep breath and submerged myself fully in the water. There has to be some reason on why she came back here. At first I thought it was to get my attention. She did not hide her feelings from me before she left. Just like what that lead girl did on that old movie "Sabrina", she went home, returning from Paris fully transformed, to get the attention of the man she likes. Kaoru coming back here looking very different reminded me of that.

But her behavior and animosity towards me for the past few days proved otherwise. After her words of hatred to me at the night of Aoshi and Misao's engagement, it was quite clear that she did not return for me.

I rose up from the water and got out of the bathtub. I reached out for my white fluffy towel on the towel rack and started drying myself. I should be happy about it. I hated her, she hated me. There wasn't anything that was preventing us from breaking up our marriage except our parents (which honestly was still a very big factor). In fact, it would be easy to go on with our lives without minding each other, ne? It would be easy to do whatever I want without worrying about her.

I stood in front of the mirror and wiped the moisture from it to look at my reflection.

However, it was not that simple.

No matter how hard I try to avoid everything, it wasn't just my life anymore; it was Kaoru's too. No matter how angry I am at our situation, no matter how difficult it was for me, I began to see that I'm not the only one who was affected. Even though it would be quite beneficial for me if we go on living like the other doesn't exist, somehow, our lives were entangled in a web that cannot be separated. No matter what we do, our actions were bound to affect each other.

Her hostility towards me, it was a product of my own cumulative actions ever since we were married back in high school. Her change in behavior was something that I caused and I'm afraid that this change could affect my life as well.

The future was very bleak. We can get tired of everything and just resign to our faith and live our lives in peace. A life that we don't really want but we have to live so as not to make our lives messier. This involved staying together while not minding each other's business. We could choose to make things more complicated and end up hating each other more than ever. We could get along and strike up a deal that would end up in divorce. The last option was the most appealing so far.

However, we could also choose another path that I don't think I would ever dare cross. That was the path of falling in love.

I shook my head with disgust. Am I crazy? After everything, after Tomoe? Would I dare betray her by falling for the enemy?

I dressed up in my sleeping clothes and headed straight towards my bed.

However, I really cannot deny the inevitable.

Kaoru was a big part of my life whether I liked it or not. And I'm afraid of what the implications of our bond were going to be in both of our lives.

I just hope that the two of us won't get hurt in the end.

If ever someone was bound to get hurt…

I really hope that it won't be me.

Call me selfish, call me rotten, call me whatever you want.

After the hurt from Tomoe's departure, I don't know if I could still stay sane.

My heart was beating loudly inside my chest as I did my best to avoid all of my opponent's attacks. As soon as I saw an opening, I used up all of my speed to get into a position where he was least defensive and attacked him with a great force. He realized what I wanted to do too late because my sword met with his and just slid through his attempted defense. In a split second, the tip of my sword touched his neck and there was a buzzer that followed signaling my victory.

I took off my kendo helmet and bowed at my silver haired opponent. He took off his own helmet and did the same. Despite his defeat, Yukishiro Enishi still looked cool and collected as if he was the least bothered about what happened.

"And the winner for the kendo tournament for the senior division: Himura Kenshin!"

I went to the center of the hall and bowed to the judges of the game, then to the audience. The crowd cheered loudly and I saw my friends Sano and Katsu giving me the thumbs up sign while joining the crowd in their cheering.

The awarding followed moments after, then I immediately retreated to the lockers to take a quick shower and change my clothes. Many of the participants in the tournament congratulated me as I made my way to the shower. I humbly accepted their compliments and said that I was looking forward to compete again next year.

My friends were waiting for me just outside the lockers. The two pounded me hard on the back almost causing me to stumble and lose my footing.

"Yeah Kenshin! This calls for a celebration!" Sano said, obviously anticipating a free meal.

"I guess all those hellish trainings with Hiko paid off. Although you really are a natural," Katsu piped in.

I glanced at my uncle who just finished talking to an acquaintance. He looked at our direction and he smiled (still in that same arrogant way of his) when he met my eyes. "Baka deshi, your delivery of the last strike was a little bit weak; other than that, everything was okay."

"ArigatouShishou (Thanks Master)" I replied in return. How very typical of my uncle. He wouldn't let a moment pass by without giving me a criticism. Although I'm sure that he was very proud of me at that moment.

Suddenly Sano nudged me to catch my attention. "Oi, is that whom I think it is?"

Turning my attention to where he was pointing his hand and my eyes widened as I saw a black haired girl standing by the entrance, looking left and right as if she was waiting for someone. It was Kaoru looking very nice in her sky blue blouse and cream-colored skirt. I don't recall mentioning to her about my kendo tournament today, in fact we hardly talked at all during the past two days except for the occasional talks about house stuff. So what is her purpose for being here? 'Could it be that she came here to see me? Maybe something is wrong?'

I suddenly felt irritated because of her carelessness. She should have just called me instead because many people here knew who I am. Does she really want to broadcast out loud that we were married?

I was about to deny that she was who Sano think she is and divert his attention elsewhere when my ever-reliable friend yelled out. "Oi! Jou-chan! Over here!"

Katsu gave out a huge grin as he saw who Sano was calling. "Kamiya-san!" He waved at her enthusiastically, trying his best to catch her attention. He suddenly walked towards her, so Sano and I had no choice but to follow him. It seemed like my friend has a very huge crush on my so-called wife.

Kaoru looked really surprised when she saw the three of us approaching her. "Sagara-san, Tsunan-san, Himura-san… you are here…"

"Yes, Kenshin just finished his match a while ago. And we came here to watch," Sano explained. "Congratulate him, he is the winner."

"Yeah, he beat the hell out of that Yukishiro guy," Katsu added.

I wasn't sure but she paled as she hesitantly looked at me after hearing what Katsu said. "Sou desu ka (Is that so)? Omedetou gozaimasu (Congratulations)."

"Doumo (Thank you)," I said as I bowed at her at the same time trying to send her a silent message that she should leave now before my two friends have a chance of inviting her to join us.

"So what brings you here Jou-chan?" Sano asked.

She looked in apprehensive in answering that certain question. "Me? Ano…"

She was saved from answering it when a male voice suddenly called out. "Kaoru!"

I looked behind me to see who the owner of the voice was.

At first, I thought I was mistaken and I did not really hear him call out Kaoru's name but when he started to walk towards our direction, there was no mistaking that it was him. With the same challenging look that he gave me the first time we met, he met my eyes in an imposing manner, smiled arrogantly before focusing his full attention on the girl beside Sano. "Kaoru. I'm so glad you came. I was worried that you were not going to show up."

"Baka (Idiot). You know I wouldn't do that," Kaoru replied to him.

"God, I really missed you so much," he exclaimed before pulling her towards him and wrapped her in his embrace.

Katsu stood beside me, looking like his heart was crushed to a thousand pieces at the scene before him. "What is going on here?"

That was the same question that was floating in my head. I was so shocked and puzzled that all thoughts except for that question left me.

What went wrong in this world?

Why was Yukishiro Enishi hugging my wife Kamiya Kaoru?



That's it! Disappointed? Happy? Please leave your comments okay? Leave me a review!

Arigatou gozaimasu.

Ja ne