A/N: So this is it… the last chapter. -cries- I'm going to miss all my reviewers! I want to take a moment to thank EVERYONE; reviewers and those of you who don't review, for coming here and checking out my fic. It really touched me how popular this story became! Thanks again! Everyone! Oh! And make sure to read my A/N at the end of this chapter as well!
Reviewers, you will be missed!
the sacred night - Thanks for all your reviews! As you can see Neko never did get rapped. Also when I updated this you had only read to chapter four, I'll try to email you the answers to any questions you may have… er, as you probably already know, seeing how I'll probably already be doing it before you read this. Hehe.
lolo popoki - I have plans for Reizo in the sequel, but I'll be dunking for cover from the sharp pointy things people will throw at me when he pops up.
Tokichic - I'm glad you liked the chapter!
droparmor - I guess the last chapter wouldn't have been a bad ending, but this chapter really makes it feel more complete. Although, I must admit, when I first posted this story about half people thought the last chapter really was the last chapter.
FairyMage - Keep having fun!
aznpuffyhair - When have I been nice to Neko and Kenshin in this fic?
Hitokiri Musei - Yay! I was quicker this time!
Shadow Wolf of the Blue Moon - I wouldn't worry about Reizo too much… -pokes him with a stick- I'd be more worried about what Kenshin will do if he finds out.
Chapter 28 - The Strength To Say Goodbye
A few days went by and Neko mourned the lost of her uncle. It was hard to believe that he and her parents had died over half a year ago. She still missed her parents every day, and now that it had been discovered that her uncle was gone as well, Neko wasn't sure what was going to happen to her.
She followed Kenshin around like a shadow still, but he had grown used to having the little girl not far behind him, and it no longer bothered him. Neko also roamed the halls on her own now and then, no longer afraid of the other men. She knew what to do if anyone gave her any trouble; remind them that she was with Himura.
Although Kenshin wouldn't admit it, he had grown fond of Neko. Even though, he wished that she wouldn't be so noisy sometimes. The little girl's curiosity and love for him touched him and now that she knew who he was, and still continued to love him, it touched him even more. He loved to play the games she came up with. He loved the way she laughed at the stories he would sometimes tell her.
"'I'll allow you to leave my mountain if you can beat in fight,' the arrogant master told his student," he told Neko once, when she had demanded a story.
"What did the student do?" she asked, nearly jumping up and down in anticipation.
"The master's back was turned, so the student bopped him on the head while he wasn't looking!" Neko roared out with laughter and rolled onto her side. She clutched her stomach which had started to hurt, tears running down her face. Kenshin let out a small laugh as he watched her. "It wasn't that funny."
"Yes it was!" she screeched.
They both wished that time would stop and wouldn't move forward. That they could stay together. Kenshin knew better, so when a day came that Katsura wished to speak with him, he already knew what his commander wanted to say.
"Himura, I've found a family that's willing to take care of Neko."
"Oh," he responded, eyes locking on the floor.
"They're a nice family, she'll be happy with them." Katsura knew this was going to be harder for the younger man than he would show.
"It's better for her to leave right away." He said it with hardly any emotion in his voice. He sounded neither sad nor pleased. He said it as it was a common order that Katsura gave and he carried out daily. "However," he started. "I think it would be best to have Neko visit these people a couple times before we leave her there. She gets really nervous around new people."
"Good idea," he agreed softly. "When do you want to make the first visit?"
"Right now." Kenshin's eyes were still locked on the floor. "The sooner Neko leaves here, the safer she'll be." He turned and left the room before Katsura had a chance to respond.
"Where are we going?" Neko asked innocently, as the two of them left the safe house.
"We're going to meet some people," Kenshin answered, turning in the direction they needed to go.
"Why? Who are they? Are they friends of yours?" she asked, hardly stopping to take a breath between each question as she walked beside him.
He thought about that for a little while. "Yes, they are friends of mine. It's a husband and his wife. I haven't seen them in a long time, and we are going to their house to visit them." He wasn't completely lying. Although he had never met these people before himself, Katsura had assured him that they were nice, and he trusted Katsura's judgment.
"What're their names?"
"Shimooki. Shimooki Mitsuo and his wife Akira."
"What are they like?"
"Uh, well, they are nice and…uh, kind." Having never met them before, Kenshin had no idea.
"What do they look like?" Neko asked, continuing her innocent questioning.
"Well, um, you'll have to see yourself when you met them."
"Why won't you just tell me?" He didn't respond right away. "Kenshin?" She looked up at him, expecting an answer.
"Because… because I'm not good at describing people. You'll just have to see them when you met them."
She sighed. "Alright." Kenshin let out a small sigh of his own, and hoped there would be no more questions he couldn't answer.
Shimooki Mitsuo turned out to be an average sized man. A bit taller and slightly more built than Kenshin was. His black hair was cut short around his somewhat oval shaped head. His chocolate eyes seemed to smile along with his mouth when he spotted Kenshin and Neko walking up to his door. "Konnichi wa!" he called out merrily to them, his voice loud and strong, but not in a frightening way. "Akira, they're here!" he called into his house.
A slender woman appeared in the doorway. Her red painted lips formed a sweet, kind smile. She called out a greeting to the two approaching; her long black hair tied in a long, slender pony tail, bounced behind her slightly. Her own chocolate-colored eyes seemed just as happy as her husband's. She followed behind her husband and the two of them walked towards Neko and Kenshin.
"Ah, you must be Himura-san," Mitsuo said with a bow.
Neko tugged on Kenshin's sleeve and he leaned down so she could whisper in his ear. "I thought you were his friend? Doesn't he remember you?"
"Ah, well, uh, it's been a long time and we didn't really get too acquainted back then. Don't worry about it," he whispered back to her. Leaning back up, he quickly remembered his manners and returned the bow to Mitsuo. "Aa, I'm Himura. You are Mitsuo-san?"
"And she must be Neko-chan," Akira said excitedly. "Konnichi wa, Neko." She waved to Neko, a smile on her face.
Neko slid behind Kenshin's legs slightly. "Konnichi wa," she said softly from her hiding spot.
Akira leaned over and whispered to her husband. "She's so sweet!" He chuckled at his wife's excitement at meeting Neko.
Neko moved further behind Kenshin and closer to his legs. She couldn't hear what those people were saying, but she just had this funny feeling they were talking about her.
Feeling Neko slowly creeping more and more behind him and pushing more and more into his legs, Kenshin began to worry that this wasn't going to work. 'She's afraid of them.' He tried to move to the side to force Neko to come out of hiding, but she only moved with him, staying behind him. "Neko," he whispered softly to her, so the Shimookis wouldn't hear him. "Stop hiding." She shook her head. "There's nothing to be afraid of. Remember, these are my friends."
"Not very good ones if they don't even remember you," she mumbled.
Mitsuo and Akira watched the two for a little while as Kenshin tried to coax Neko to stop hiding behind him. Akira recognized what was going on and spoke up. "I just made some ohagi if you two would like to come in and have some," she offered, heading inside.
"Yes! Come in, come in!" Mitsuo said, emphasizing what he said by waving his arms towards the house. "Let's sit down and have a little chat."
Kenshin started to follow Mitsuo inside, but stopped when Neko didn't move. He turned to her and saw her looking carefully at the house. "Come on Neko, don't you want some ohagi?" She nodded her head. "Then come inside." He started toward the house again, and this time Neko followed.
Sitting down at the table, Akira set the ohagi down for everyone to eat. Neko took one and started to nibble on it. After tasting it, a wide smile spread across her face. "This is good!" she exclaimed happily, gobbling the rest down.
Mitsuo and Akira both laughed. "Good, I'm glad you like my cooking!" Akira said as she sat down. Kenshin smiled a little and let out a small sigh; the ice had been broken.
The small group had chatted idly as they ate the ohagi. It turned out that the Shimookis had a son, but he had moved out of the house a few years ago. Mitsuo was a merchant who was doing fairly well in his business. Neko and Kenshin got a tour of the house; Kenshin was impressed with how they seemed to be winning Neko over. She grew a little less shy as the day wore on and more and more talkative.
Near the end of the day while Neko played with her doll out in the back yard, far enough away not to hear them, the three of them started to discuss Neko's future. "What do you think?" Mitsuo asked his wife.
"I love her. She's so adorable, but I feel so sorry for her. With her leg like that, the poor kid." Kenshin looked away from the couple when that was said, a wave of guilt washing over him. "And I think she is starting to like us."
"Aa," Kenshin agreed. "She's still shy, but she's doing a lot better than I thought she would." He admitted that freely. When she had first hidden behind him, he thought she was going to stay there the whole visit. "If it would be alright with you, I would like to bring her here and back a couple of times before I leave her here."
"That's fine," Mitsuo quickly replied. "She's a great kid, Himura-san."
So every morning for the next few days, Kenshin and Neko would walk to the Shimooki's. As Neko grew more and more comfortable around them, the more Kenshin tried to plan out how he was going to break it to Neko that she was going to stay there. That issue came up sooner than expected when Katsura stopped by the safe house one night to speak with Kenshin.
"Himura, how are your injuries?" Katsura asked after Kenshin had knelt on the mat in front of him.
With that one question, Kenshin knew what Katsura wanted of him. "They're fine. Yasuo-sensei says I'm completely healed."
"How's it going between Shimooki and Neko?"
Katsura looked down at his hands. "Himura, there's been some rumors going around, and the Shinsengumi are getting antsy." Kenshin was silent. "I need you in Kyoto. I need your help again." He hated asking Kenshin to pick up his sword again, but he needed him.
"I understand, Katsura-san," Kenshin said, rising to his feet. "Tomorrow night, I will be ready to join you in Kyoto."
Neko watched curiously as Kenshin packed her clothes into a bag. "What are you doing?" she asked him after a few more minutes. When he didn't answer she asked another question. "Are we going somewhere?"
"Neko…" He paused. "Do you like the Shimooki's?"
"Hai." She answered without hesitation. "Akira-san makes yummy food and Mitsuo is funny!" she said, clapping her hands with innocent joy.
"You're going to be staying with them."
"How long are we going to be staying with them?"
Kenshin took in a slow breath of air, and just as slowly let it out. "I'm not staying with them, just you."
Neko continued to smile at him, and then suddenly she seemed stunned. "What? Wait! Wha-what do you mean!" She grabbed the bag in his hands as he put another one of her kimonos in it. "Kenshin! What do you mean!"
"Neko, it's time for you to leave. I told you that you can't stay with me. The Shim-"
"No," Neko said forcefully, glaring at him. Her hands tightened around the bag in his hands. "No," she repeated.
"NO!" she screamed, ripping the bag from Kenshin's hands. "NO! NO! NO! NO!" She flung the bag to the other side of the room, it tipped over and a few of her clothes spilt out. "I don't wanna live with them! I want to stay with you!" Without a word Kenshin stood up and retrieved the bag. He started to put the things that had spilled out back in. "Kenshin? I don't want to go! I won't go!" He came back and started to fill it again. "Kenshin!" Neko was mad, she grabbed the bag again. "I won't go!" Once more she ripped the bag from his hands and threw it across the room.
It had happened so fast and suddenly, that Neko didn't even respond at first, her mouth hanging open slightly. After a couple of seconds she reached a shaking hand up to her face and rubbed her cheek. "Kenshin?" She said his name questionably, tears welling up in her eyes.
Without a word, Kenshin lowered his hand and stood to get the bag again. It wasn't until after he had knelt back down and started to fill it again that he spoke. "Neko, I hit you because your behavior was uncalled for." She was trying so hard not to cry as he continued. Her cheek really didn't hurt at all, but her heart was breaking. "I can understand you're mad, frustrated, and even scared, but that's no reason to act like you did."
Her lips trembled slightly. "You hit me…" Kenshin didn't respond to that, he kept packing her bag for her. "Don't you care about me? Do you want me to leave?" Her tears broke free. "Well! I think you're-you're…oh, Kenshin, why?" She didn't give him a chance to answer, she turned her back on him and buried her head into her arms and cried.
"Neko," he called, but she only cried louder. He couldn't talk to her like that, so he finished packing for her. "Tomorrow morning Neko, I'm going to drop you off at the Shimooki's and then we'll have to say goodbye."
"I won't go," she mumbled stubbornly behind her arms.
"Yes, you will."
"You can't make me."
"Yes, I can."
"I hate you…" She waited for him to say something, but he never responded. She picked up her head to look at him, but he was gone. "Kenshin?" She stood up. "Kenshin?" she called again. She grabbed her cane and set out to find him.
She searched the rooms, finally finding him outside, staring up at the night sky. He was leaning against one of the back porch's railings. "Kenshin?" She called out to him, but he didn't answer. She took a few steps closer to him, but as she did, he moved away from her. She watched as he moved a little way down the porch and sat down.
She felt like crying and her voice wavered as she spoke. "Kenshin, I'm sorry. I don't hate you." She took a couple of steps towards him. He kept staring up at the stars. "Kenshin, please I'm sorry." She moved closer. "I was mad, I didn't mean it." She reach out and touched his shoulder but he still ignored her. "Kenshin, please! Look at me!" She shook him slightly before falling to her knees and crying on his shoulder. "I'm sorry! I'm sorry!"
He stared hard at the dark sky. 'It's best if she hates me,' he told himself over and over. 'It will make the parting easier on her.' He was finding it difficult not to look at her.
"Kenshin! I'm sorry! Please don't make me go! Don't make me go, Kenshin! I want to be with you!" she screamed into his shoulder. "I don't want to go! Please Kenshin! Please don't make me go!" His silence and refusal to look at her was ripping her heart apart even more than the dogs had done to her leg. "Kenshin, look at me!" She went back to shaking him. "Look at me! Please! Kenshin! Look at me! I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I don't hate you! I don't hate you! I could never hate you!" She slammed her head into his shoulder once more and just cried. "Why?" she moaned. "Do you hate me now, Kenshin?"
He couldn't take it anymore. "Iie," he said softly. After all the effort Hiroko had put into trying to make the young hitokiri talk, a little seven year old girl had managed it, hardly laying a finger on him. "I don't hate you."
"Then why are you making me leave? I don't want to leave."
"I know you don't." He still hadn't looked at her, and he continued to speak in a soft voice. "I don't want you to leave either, but I told you I would keep you safe. This is the only way."
"But I feel safe when I'm around you. Please don't make me go." Her voice was breaking, once more on the verge of tears.
"You feel safe, but you aren't. If something happened to you again, I wouldn't be able to live with myself." He admitted.
"Please don't make me go." He finally turned and looked at Neko. She didn't need to hear his answer when she saw his face. "But you're my angel."
He smiled a bitter smile. "I am a man Neko, nothing more. I'm not an angel."
She looked up at him, defiance in her eyes. "I don't care what you say. To me you're my angel, nothing will ever change that!" They were both quiet for a few minutes. An awkward silence fell upon them that Kenshin didn't know how to break, but Neko did. "Kenshin, will you hold me? Please?" She already started to move into position.
He didn't answer, but he didn't stop her from settling down in his lap. He held her as she cried. "I don't want to leave," she mumbled.
Kenshin held Neko until she started to yawn and her eyes began to close. He ushered her off to bed. Once she was settled he leaned up against the wall, his katana propped up against his shoulder. He had started to sleep like that again once his injuries had healed. He bowed his head so his bangs covered his eyes and watched as Neko fell asleep.
For a while she watched him, as if debating if he was truly asleep or not. She held her doll close to her, often softly kissing it. Off and on tears would fall down her face and she would take a few moments to stop them. Not once did she turn away from Kenshin, but at last she became too tired to keep her eyes open and fell asleep.
Once he was sure Neko had fallen asleep, Kenshin stood up. Like the first night they had spent together he guessed he wasn't going to be getting much sleep that night. It was already late and he had a long walk ahead of him.
Mitsuo quickly made his way to the door, as quickly as someone who had just been awakened from a dead sleep could go. He was curious as to who would be knocking this late on his door, but seeing how it was so late, it had to be important. If it wasn't, then the knocker would feel his sleepy wrath. With a yawn, he slid open the door. "Who- Himura-san." He was surprised to see the red head standing on the other side of the door.
"Gomen for waking you Mitsuo-san, but I need to speak with you." Kenshin quickly bowed to the slightly stunned man. "It's about tomorrow."
"Come in, come in," Mitsuo said, waving him inside. "It's no problem, no problem at all. I was actually up anyway," he lied. "We're very excited about tomorrow. It's all Akira can talk about."
Hearing her name, Akira emerged from the bedroom. "Who's her- oh, Himura-san! It's you," she said excitedly. "I mean, what brings you here this late?"
"Gomen," he apologized again. "I know it's late, but I need to speak with you about tomorrow. I think this is going to be harder than we thought."
"She knows she coming to stay with us, doesn't she?" Akira asked, holding the robe she had thrown on closed.
"I just told her tonight."
"It didn't go well did it?" Mitsuo guessed. Kenshin didn't respond, so Mitsuo figured he guessed right. "Let's sit down so we can discuss this."
"Arigato," Kenshin said softly, with a slight bow of his head.
It wasn't long after Kenshin had entered the house that he left again. "I'm glad you told us about this ahead of time, Himura-san," Mitsuo said as he led the young man out.
"Sorry for waking you." Once more Kenshin bowed to Mitsuo, "See you tomorrow." He turned to leave but was stopped when Mitsuo called out to him.
"Are you sure you want to do it like this? What will Neko think?"
Quietly Kenshin slipped into the room that he and Neko shared for the last time. She was still asleep, so he silently moved across the room and sat down. Leaning against the wall once more, he let his head fall slightly and tried to sleep, but sleep would not come.
Morning came. Neko woke up rather early; together, she and Kenshin ate breakfast. "It's our last meal together," she informed Kenshin sadly. He didn't reply, just kept eating. "But you know it doesn't have to be. I could stay and we could eat together every-"
"Neko," he warned.
She gave a small sigh and set her bowl down. "I'm not hungry."
After Kenshin finished his breakfast they got ready to go. After collecting her things from their room, Neko took one last look at it, before turning her back on it with a sigh. The walk there was quiet, only broken now and then by Neko's desperate attempt to make Kenshin change his mind. Together they walked hand in hand for the last time.
Mitsuo and Akira were waiting for them when they came walking up. "Now, remember, we're going to have to distract her without her figuring out we knew Himura-san was planning on doing this," Mitsuo instructed.
"I know," Akira responded sadly. "it's just she's going to be so sad."
"She's going to be sad anyway when he leaves. If we have to hold her back as she watches him leave, she's going to resent us, and that will just make living with us horrible for her."
She let out a long, slow sigh. "I know."
He reached over and placed a loving kiss on her cheek. "We knew taking her in wasn't going to be easy, we'll take this one day at a time." He gave her a quick hug. "Let's go." He moved past her and raised his arm in greeting to the two walking up the path. "Himura-san! Neko-chan! Welcome!"
Neko abruptly stopped when she saw Mitsuo. Kenshin took a couple more steps before stopping and looking down at her. Neko looked back up at him with pure terror in her eyes. He knew she was upset, but this look of panic seemed to be caused by something different. "Kenshin," she said at last. "Do I have to call them mommy and daddy?"
He relaxed slightly. "Iie." He saw her visibly relax, and she continued forward again. As they drew closer, he could feel her tighten her grasp on his hand, as if she was afraid he was going to disappear right in front of her.
When they finally came to the house, both Mitsuo and Akira did their best to comfort Neko. "Well, Neko," Akira said with a smile. "Want to see your room?"
"Iie," she half-moaned, and practically hugged Kenshin's leg.
"How about we put your stuff inside?" Mitsuo offered.
"Iie," she answered quietly, turning her head into Kenshin's leg.
Akira bit her bottom lip in frustration. "Well, would the two of you like some lunch?"
"Hai," Kenshin said quickly before Neko could refuse. "That would be nice."
"Then come right in!" Mitsuo waved his arm toward the door and headed inside. Akira followed after him and Kenshin started to head in, but Neko stood right where she was.
Kenshin looked back at her. "Are you going to be rude and refuse Akira-san's offer?" She shrugged. "We have to go inside to eat. Come on, I'm going in." He let go of her hand and stepped into the house. "Are you coming in?" She gave a defeated sigh and a sad nod of her head, and followed him inside.
The four of them ate lunch together. Mitsuo tried to break the heavy silence that hung in the air a few times, but couldn't get more than a few words from Kenshin, and Neko simply wouldn't speak, only nodding or shaking her head, or shrugging to anything directed to her. After a while he simply gave up trying.
After the meal, Akira made the suggestion of putting Neko's bag in her room. At the suggestion Neko looked over to Kenshin, as if expecting him to answer for her. "I'll be here when you get back," he told her, sipping the tea he still had.
"But…" She said softly. "Don't you want to see my room?"
He thought for a moment before finally setting down his cup. "Alright." He stood up. "Let's see your room."
It was a nice room. It had once belonged to Mitsuo's and Akira's son. Mitsuo set Neko's bag in the far corner as Akira showed Neko her futon. "Well, do you like your room?" Akira asked after Neko had gotten a good look at it.
"It's nice," she said sadly. She turned to speak with Kenshin. "Do you like my- Kenshin?" She turned, but he wasn't in the doorway like he had been earlier. "Kenshin?" Akira and Mitsuo exchanged a knowing glance as Neko exited the room and looked up and down the hall.
"Kenshin?" she called again, panic starting to settle in her chest. She moved faster; her cane clacked on the wooden floor as she moved as fast as she could back to the room they had eaten lunch in. "Kenshin!" He wasn't there.
She hurried outside looking down the road, expecting to see him walking down the path. Fear gripped her. "Kenshin!" She screamed when she didn't see him. "Where are you! Kenshin! Please, Kenshin! Where are you!" She took off down the road, looking for her angel.
"Neko! Come back!" She could hear Mitsuo calling for her, but she didn't care, she had to find him. She screamed his name again. She looked for his silhouette just up ahead, she looked for his red hair waving the way it did behind him as he walked, she looked for his amber eyes, those eyes that filled her with a sense of safety.
"Kenshin! Come back! Come back!"
Mitsuo caught up to her easily enough, with her leg she didn't get very far. He wrapped his arms around her and held her for a moment. She screamed for Kenshin, begging the man she couldn't find to come back to her. "He's gone Neko, he's not coming back," Mitsuo told her.
"He didn't say goodbye! He didn't say goodbye to me!" she yelled at him. "I have to find him! I have to say goodbye! I…I…I have to tell him thank you, for saving me."
When it was obvious that Neko wasn't going to walk back herself, Mitsuo picked her up and started to walk back. "No! Put me down!" she screamed. "I have to find him! I have to find him!" He brought her back inside and set her down in her room.
He held her shoulders and had her look him in the eyes. "Neko, Himura-san is gone. He's not going to come back and you're going to have to live here now."
"I know where he is! He's-he's back at that…place!" she said, stumbling on her words. "We just have to-"
"He's not there Neko. He's gone."
She started to cry. "But, but, but…" She broke down and covered her face with her hands. "Why? Why didn't he say goodbye?"
Akira bent down and tried to comfort her by rubbing her back. "Maybe, maybe he thought this was the best way for him to leave. It's his way to say goodbye."
Neko calmed down a little. "But I miss him. He saved my life and I didn't get to say goodbye to him or thank him. I didn't-" She started to cry again.
Mitsuo sighed and reached into his pocket, he pulled out a sealed envelope and handed it to Neko. "Here, he wanted me to give this to you, after he left."
She took the letter carefully from Mitsuo, like it would fall apart if she handled it too roughly. She broke the seal and looked carefully at the message written inside it. After a few minutes at staring at the black symbols, she handed the note back towards Mitsuo, tears falling from her eyes. "Please, read this to me. I can't read it all."
He shook his head and pushed the letter back towards Neko. "He also told me not to read it for you. He wants you to keep studying so you can read it yourself."
She looked at the letter once more. She pointed to one of the words written there. "I know this word," she said softly. "This is my name." She moved her finger down a little more. "And this, this says…" She paused to regain control over her voice. "Kenshin." She bent over the letter and cried. Akira continued to rub her back.
'Kenshin,' she vowed silently to herself. 'I will stay here and be a good girl. This is what you want, but still, I won't stop looking. You're my angel and nothing will ever change that. Arigato, Kenshin. For all you've done. I'll be a big girl and I will be happy and someday I know I will see you again. Arigato, Kenshin, and goodbye.' She cried harder. It still hurt that he was gone.
Kenshin returned to the safe house long enough to pick up his stuff and was gone again. He didn't want to be there if Neko got the idea to run back there looking for him. It had been his idea to just vanish from her. Had he said goodbye face to face, she would have attempted to cling to him; then Mitsuo would have to hold her back. If he left while Mitsuo stopped her from following him, she would have been mad at him. They didn't need that tension between them.
His pack slung across his shoulder, Kenshin hit the road once more. Kyoto wasn't that far away, and Katsura needed him there. He came to the road and looked in both directions before picking his destination. To the left was the road that would take him to Kyoto, death, violence and more fighting. The right would take him back to Neko, a girl who loved him no matter what and called him angel. His head turned towards the right; he smiled slightly, then sighed. It would be nice to go back to her, but he was needed elsewhere. "Take care, Neko." With that said, he turned his back to the right and moved on towards Kyoto.
The weeks melted into months and Neko slowly became but a memory. A memory Kenshin would never forget. Some nights he would wake up and during that split second when dreams melted into the waking world he thought he saw a little girl, crying, asking to sleep with him because she had a bad dream.
It was only a few weeks before the legendary battle at Toba Fushimi that Kenshin happened to stop by a restaurant in Kyoto and ran into an old friend. He walked in, expecting to order a simple meal and maybe a bottle of sake, not to see the man sitting in the booth not too far from the door. By the expression shared by the man, he hadn't been expecting Kenshin either.
A small smile played across his lips; his hair wasn't in a top knot anymore, instead cut smoothly around his head, and he had put on a little weight since the last time Kenshin had seen him. He raised his hand in greeting. "Himura-san! Didn't expect to see you here!" he called out, waving him over to his booth.
Kenshin chuckled slightly. "I didn't expect to see you either, Reizo. I thought you weren't supposed to be in Kyoto anymore."
Reizo put up his hands and gave a weak laugh. "Katsura-sama said to stay away for a few months, and I have. Besides I'm only passing through. Please, sit down! Have a drink with me!" He called out for one of the waiters to bring the two of them a couple of bottles of sake as Kenshin sat down.
"So, Himura," Reizo began, pouring a drink for him. "How's Neko been?"
Kenshin gave a sad smile. "I haven't seen her in a while. I dropped her off at a home Katsura-san suggested. I haven't seen her since." He took a sip of the sake Reizo had poured for him.
Reizo was quiet as he poured himself a drink. "Well, she'll be safer with them," he said softly, taking a sip. "Were they nice people?"
"Hai." He took another sip as a bearable silence settled over them.
"Himura, did anything ever happen to Hiroko?" Reizo asked, setting his cup down.
"Iie," Kenshin's eyes narrowed. "We never got word about him again. I guess he got away with everything." Reizo started to chuckle slightly. At first Kenshin just watched him, confused. "What's so funny?"
"Not much really," he said with a smile, refilling his cup. "It's just I might have picked up a little information."
Kenshin's face fell. "Reizo… you're not supposed to be spying for either side. Remember?" he said flatly.
"No! No! These are just rumors I've heard!" He laughed slightly. "I wouldn't dare go against Katsura's word after he gave me my life back." He took a sip of his sake. "It's just I've heard a rumor about Hiroko." He grinned widely when he saw he had Kenshin's interest. "Remember, this is just on hearsay, but I heard that Saitou-san and some of the other captains are seriously pissed at Hiroko's actions." He leaned in closer to Kenshin. "It seems to get his grubby hands on you and Neko, he broke a lot of Shinsengumi rules. He brought a lot of shame to the name Shinsengumi."
"So ka," he muttered softly. "So have they killed him?" Kenshin asked, taking a sip of sake.
Reizo's face fell. "Iie. I heard that Hiroko got word of the Shinsengumi's growing hatred for him and ran away. He hasn't been seen since this whole thing got started."
"That would explain why no one's been able to find any information on him."
Reizo grinned again. "There's some good news in all this." He downed his cup and continued. "Turns out the Shinsengumi are so upset, they're erasing him from history. Anything that had to do with Hiroko is being destroyed. As far as the Shinsengumi are concerned, he never existed."
"Sometimes," Kenshin muttered, staring into his cup, "It's better not to be remembered."
"What was that?" Reizo asked, not being able to hear him.
"Nothing." He waved his hand slightly, telling Reizo to dismiss anything he might have heard. "Although, this is a lot of information for a civilian," he teased, eying Reizo carefully.
Reizo's face went red. "I haven't been spying!" he said, a bit too loud. "I haven't been spying," he said more quietly this time. "It's just that once you've developed good listening skills, you can't exactly tell your ears to stop hearing things." Kenshin smiled slightly and took a sip of his sake; that's when Reizo realized that he hadn't been serious.
Reizo and Kenshin shared a meal and finished off the sake together. Together, they stood to leave. "It was nice seeing you again, Himura. Much better environment than last time," Reizo commented with a smile. Kenshin agreed with a nod of his head. "I guess this is good-bye again."
"Aa." They both placed a few coins on the table and headed towards the door.
"Well Himura, I hope all goes well for you. I hope to see you again sometime," he said with a smile. "Right now, I still don't really know what I'm going to be doing with myself, but when I figure that out, I'll let you know," he said with a wink.
Kenshin smiled, and went to say something when Reizo broke out in laughter. Again Kenshin looked at the man with an utterly confused look. "What is it this time?"
"Oh, I'm just glad I can still make you smile." He got control over himself again. "I'll miss you Himura, glad we could see each other once more."
"It was nice to see you too. Thanks for all the information on Hiroko."
Reizo smiled sadly. "You're welcome. Take care Himura." He gave a slight bow of his head and turned to leave.
"You take care too." Kenshin smiled as he watched the man go; he really would miss him. "Sayonara," he whispered.
Kenshin turned and headed back towards the inn he was staying at. His mind turned a little as he thought about all the people touched by everything that had happened. Hiroko had gotten away, but it didn't sound like he was going to be much of a threat anymore. Neko was safe with her new family. Reizo didn't have to spy anymore, and he… he was back in Kyoto fighting again. "Soon, this war will be over," he said softly to the night. "Then peace will finally settle over Japan. Children like Neko won't lose their parents. Then I will finally be able to keep my promise to you."
I know you won't understand why I left you, I don't expect you to. You have to be strong Neko, and be a good girl. I will always care about you and will never forget you. Someday we may meet again. Until that day, grow up strong.
A/N: Well, that's it! We've come to the end…-cries- I didn't want it to end! Or does it end? -grins- Some of you have already heard this but! The sequel is already up and up to chapter 2 posted. Well, if I manage to get the second chapter up before you're done reading this. So, if you want to know the rest of the story go look for Violet Eyed Angel! Summery:
It's been ten years since Kenshin and Neko separated. After ten long years they finally find each other once more. Ten years can change a person in more ways then one. Can Neko accept the changes in her angel? What kind of changes has she made? What ever happened to Hiroko? And what will Kaoru think!
Also, jf you ever see an author alert for those of you who have me on their author alert list and you see that Amber Eyed Angel is updated. THIS IS TRUE. There were a couple little cutesy moments that I had planned for Kenshin and Neko that I cut out because I felt like I was taking so long to get to the more action filled parts of the story. Whenever I have the chance to write down some of these little one shots I will add them to this story as their own chapter called Extra Chapter. (Wow… I'm creative) There are only a couple, and I really have no idea when I will find the time to write them, but whenever I get the chance I hope you enjoy them!
As is tradition with the endings of my stories I have here a little information for anyone curious of the creation of characters and the idea of the story.
The idea: I came up with the idea originally for Trigun. I originally had Vash helping Wolfwood take care of an orphan. Although my idea with Vash was MUCH more comical. One day while watching some of my Kenshin DVDs I saw an episode with Ayame and Suzume playing with Kenshin. I don't know why but I started to think what it would have been like if Kenshin had met them when he was younger. That slowly evolved to what if a kid was dumped into Kenshin's lap and he had to take care of it? I really liked the idea and then my twisted mind thought of ways how that kid could be used against him and BOOM! A story was born.
The name: Amber Eyed Angel was just creative because… heh… I love Kenshin's eyes when he was Battòsai. In the anime Kaoru and everyone always seem somewhat afraid when they see the amber in his eyes, but even so, Kenshin's wasn't completely evil when he was Battòsai. I wanted to finally have someone who had NO fear in Kenshin's eyes when they were amber, Neko fulfilled this for me.
Neko: Well, her name should give away one of my inspirations for her. My kitty! So I gave her some characteristics of a cat and my cat's green eyes and named the girl Neko. I also based Neko off a few of the little girls in my TaeKwonDo class who are in the ages of 5-8. Then I also watched a few different animes to see how little kids Neko's age were mostly portrayed.
Hiroko and Muroi: For Hiroko I was just trying to make one of those villains you just love to hate. From some of your reactions I think I managed to do that. Muroi I was mostly trying to make into a giant pervert. Most villains that I come up with are mostly there to cause pain, I wanted to try a different kind of pain so that was Muroi's role.
Reizo: Reizo was originally suppose to be played by Iizuka the sleazy man who sold out Tomoe and Kenshin during the OVA and in the end killed by Shishio. That was my first problem right there, Iizuka was dead. I had wanted to have a spy so that after Kenshin escaped Hiroko once, someone would tell Hiroko where they were hiding and Hiroko would then be able to wreak havoc on everyone again. Also I was planning on Iizuka being the one to give Neko to Hiroko. Originally Muroi wasn't going to get such a big part as he did. As soon as my sense caught up with my creativity, I quickly changed the plot. I threw in a random name and the story got shorten immensely. Then I started to think: why not make Reizo a spy anyway? Then I could keep my plot the same! After all, so far most everyone who got close enough to Kenshin at this point in life were originally out to kill him anyway, so Reizo being a spy would fit that pattern. So I did, but then that wasn't creative enough for me and I changed it even a bit more to make Reizo a traitorous spy.
Akina and Makoto: These two I created to help Neko in her life. Both mostly there to show that during this time some people weren't even treated like humans. Makoto got too old so he was killed, Akina was abused and taken advantage of. These characters were meant to really help Neko open her eyes to the evils of the world.
Kanai: Neko's neighbor and best friend. I attempted to base him off a dog to be somewhat the opposite of Neko, although I didn't name him, dog, like I named Neko cat for the sole reason… I still for the life of me remember what the word is for dog. He's in the story to give help to Neko and to remind her the life isn't all bad.