Painting the Stars

written by mtgranola

Disclaimer: I'm just 'borrowing' the Kenshingumi for awhile, so please don't sue! Portrait is copyrighted solely by me and I'll be extremely upset and send a resurrected Shishio after you if you use it without permission.

Warning: Extreme OCCness, I didn't think that I would have to do this since it is an AU fic, but apparently I do. I'm merely playing with Watsuki-san's characters so of course they aren't going to be cannon. And all the weirdness and odd conversations in this story can be often contributed to an over-consumption of caffeine.


Chapter Six:

I have a great belief in the fact that whenever there is chaos, it creates wonderful thinking. I consider chaos a gift.

Septima Poinsette Clark

I slowly
drag my brush
to shape your sculpted cheeks
dip in paint
then in oil.


Your eyes
look at me
following my hands
so carefully
tracing the planes of your face.


A little Naples Yellow
a dab
of Alizarian Crimson…


a twist of my wrist
and I have flesh
to cover up
invisible bones.


Your lips
quirk up
in your secret smile
mocking my efforts
to render on canvas
what I perceive
as your masculine perfection.


Carefully blending
the shadows
to give
you life
in three dimensions.


Sitting in front
of my easel
I realize
this undertaking…
this creation
of light
and paint
does nothing to convey
the depths
of the feelings….

No, that doesn't sound right.

The depth of my feelings….

Argh!

The depths of the feelings

My heart has for you…

Argh! No! No! I ran my hair through my loose hair in frustration and ripped the page out of my notebook, crinkling it up and throwing it across the room. Sappy, I thought to myself in disgust. But however I look at it, it is very true. I stared at my unfinished portrait across my small apartment, wishing I could glare, wishing I could burn it to cinders…but I can't.

I might fear Enishi, and I may feel leery about a relationship with Kenshin but my heart doesn't necessarily agree with my mind a large majority of the time. I haven't seen Enishi since mic night, thankfully, and of course I see Kenshin everyday…but something has changed about the latter.

He's a bit bolder with his touches, more playful with his flirting…I just don't know what to think of the situation at hand. I don't want to be just another conquest for him, and if that's all he wants…. I sigh, getting up from my chair at small dining table and walked towards the window, looking out over the rooftops and skyscrapers of this small little area that is my world for the moment.

Enishi's found me and I should probably find a new place to live, a new place to work but I find myself biting my lip at the thought. A overwhelming sense of dread filling my heart.

I really like it here in this little space, and I love working at the coffeehouse. In fact, if my parents hadn't insisted, I wouldn't have even bothered with college at all and just worked at a bistro for the rest of my life and pursuing my art on the side.

I would have been very happy doing that.

And then there was of course, the question of Kenshin or even Sano…Misao would keep tabs on me, and Megumi probably would attempt it in her precious spare time, which she had little of since starting her internship. My parents would encourage me to do something better with my life, which is one of the reasons I have gone so long without talking to them. They keep on expecting me to show up at their door, broke and begging for a place to stay until I got back on my feet.

My stubbornness is an inherited trait.

My little brother Yahiko would offer to hunt him down and severely beat him down using his bokken. Actually, now that I think about it, Sano would probably do the same thing…except with much more permanent damage.

And to top it all off, I'm not too sure I really want to start all over again, either in a new neighborhood or in a new city. I may be daring, but I like being close to familiarity as well.

You may think I am a coward, contemplating leaving my life and my friends behind because of one man…and perhaps, I am. But truly, I don't any of them to get involved or possibly hurt because of Enishi. I couldn't live with myself if that happened.

And I know first hand just all of what the man is capable of….

I sighed again, burying my face in my hands. Kami! Why now? Just when things were beginning to look up….

This isn't going to be an easy decision.

&&&&&&&

"Kaoru, what's wrong?" Misao asked, her concern for me showing through in her vibrant green eyes. I could feel my throat begin to constrict and I pointedly avoided her eyes. "You're thinking about leaving, aren't you?"

I sighed, Itachi truly did know me too well. "Hai."

She sighed in return, "I don't agree with it, Kaoru, but you have me and your friends standing behind you in all of this."

"I know."

"Then why?"

"Because if he can't hurt me directly, he'll try getting me through all of you, Misao. You remember last time…."

She rolled her eyes at me, "Honestly, Tanuki, do you think that we're all weak and can't stand up for ourselves? Enishi's nothing, believe me."

"I know…" I whispered, "But I can't bear the thought of it."

Misao reached across the table of our favorite diner to clasp my hands in her own. "I'll support you in whatever decision you make, Kaoru, even if I don't necessarily like it. I'm sure Megumi and Sano would say the same."

I offered her a watery smile in return. "Thanks Misao, you don't know how much this means to me…."

"Don't worry about it! We've been friends forever, and we'll continue to be best buds no matter where we are, isn't that right?"

This time my smile was broad, a genuine reflection of my emotions. "Right."

&&&&&

My last day at work, after giving my two week notice to Tae. She understood, thankfully, telling me that if I ever came back I would have a job waiting for me. I thanked her wholeheartedly, I was truly going to miss her.

I looked out the side of my eyes towards the corner where a large canvas sat, wrapped up neatly in butcher's paper.

A farewell gift to Kenshin….

I finally finished it after a month of furiously working on it, all the while making living arrangements and making sure I had a steady income in the new city I had chosen. Only Megumi and Misao knew for certain where I was going….

They had thrown me a party last weekend which ended up with us all getting shitty drunk on fancy cocktails and fruity drinks. We laughed, we cried and verbally abused each other in a way only best friends could do.

It's going to be hard to adjust to a new life in a new city without them there with me every step of the way. I'm turning the first page of a new chapter in my life and it has me feeling anxious, nervous, and scared shitless all at the same time. But I will be able to handle it, just as I have handled everything in my life.

The painting was a portrait, not of Kenshin as he is now in his expensive business suits and whatnot, but how he would have maybe appeared a hundred years ago clad in hakama and gi, his crimson hair floating in the wind against the backdrop of a night sky….

It wouldn't be right of me to keep it since I am moving on with my life. After work I'm boarding a train with my backpack to follow my belongings which began their trek to our new destination yesterday.

"Yo! Jou-chan!"

I smiled a bittersweet smile. I was leaving it up to Misao, Megumi, and Tae to tell my rooster-headed friend and Kenshin that I was leaving. I hadn't enough courage to tell them myself or to answer their questions.

"Hey tori-atama, what can I get you today?"

"The usual, how 'bout you Kenshin?" he asked, turning his head to the side to ask his friend.

"The same."

"Okay, so quad mocha, extra chocolate for the rooster for brains…" I started, ignoring the indignant 'hey' that came from said rooster, "…and Black Spice Chai for Kenshin. It'll be a moment, guys, I'll bring it out too you."

They nodded and turned to find a table in a quiet corner. I noticed that Kenshin kept on turning suspicious eyes towards me, which I promptly ignored.

"Tae, is it alright if I head out after I serve these drinks? I still got some stuff to do…" I asked my boss quietly.

"Sure, Kaoru. You go right on ahead." She hugged me and kissed my cheek. "Good luck to you, in whatever you do."

"Thanks." I smiled back at her. "And if you could do me one more favor…."

&&&&&&&

I hefted my backpack over my shoulder as I headed down the street, a frown marring my face (although if I listened to my brother, I was such a 'hag' you couldn't tell the difference anyways). I had left without saying good-bye to both Sano and Kenshin, but I couldn't allow myself to feel guilty over it.

I left it up to Tae to give Kenshin his farewell present.

I looked up, inhaling the air of this city, memorizing the skyline…it would be a very long time before I saw this place again. I set my jaw, my chin jutting out in determination and turned my back on my past, my feet leading me towards the train. Towards my future….

But I knew that those violet eyes would always haunt me.

&&&&&&&

"Himura-san?" Tae asked interrupted he and Sano's conversation quietly, bring with her a large flat package. "Kaoru-chan asked me to give this too you…."

"Hey, where is Jou-chan anyways? I haven't seen her since she brought us our drinks." Sano noticed.

"She had some errands to run so she left early." Tae answered while handing over the package, "If you excuse me…."

Kenshin watched the proprietress as she walked back around the counter to serve her new customers through narrowed eyes. Something was going on, but he couldn't tell what. Kaoru had been acting strangely towards him and Sano for awhile now, turning down his offers to go out like she had since he first asked her to that opening a month ago.

It was almost like she was trying to distance herself from the both of them….

"Well, buddy? Aren't you goin' to open it?" Sano asked from across the table, bringing him back from his thoughts.

"Oh yes, of course…" he murmured while carefully tearing the butcher paper around the large object.

What he revealed took his breath away, and for once he seemed to be absolutely speechless.

"Hey Kenshin, what is it? Let me see…" Sano exclaimed, "Oh wow, Jou-chan's really out done herself this time…."

"She really has, hasn't she?" Kenshin replied softly. Was this the reason she had been so distant lately, the reason she had left so early today? His eyes caught sight of an envelop that had been tucked into the paper, his name written across the front in Kaoru's hand. He reached out and grabbed it, carefully ripping the paper open to read the note inside.

Dear Kenshin:

I am supposing that Sano is still with you as you read this letter, and I sincerely hope that you both do not hold this against me. I am a coward, unable to tell the both of you myself, but I keep on telling myself that it will be easier this way.

This is my farewell present to you. By the time you receive this I will be on a train heading to a new destination. I hope that you like it, it has been the bane of my existence for the past four months, but in the end it was well worth it.

Good-bye.

Sincerely,

Kaoru

Another slip of paper feel out of the envelope, carefully folded so he would have to open it. The paper was fine and covered with elaborate calligraphy

The Portrait

I slowly drag my brush
to shape your sculpted cheeks
dip in paint
then in oil.


Your eyes
look at me
following my hands
so carefully
tracing your face.

A little Naples Yellow
a dab
of Alizarian Crimson
a twist of my wrist
and I have flesh
to cover up
invisible bones


Your lips
quirk up
in your secret smile
mocking my efforts
to render on canvas
what I perceive
as your masculine perfection.


Carefully blending
the shadows
to give
you life
in three dimensions.


Sitting in front
of my easel
I realize
this undertaking…


this creation
of light
and paint…


does nothing to convey
the depths
of feelings
my heart has
for you.

Kenshin just sat there, stunned.

Kaoru

Kaoru was gone with no explanations, only a portrait and a poem. His heart lurched painfully in his chest. Was it something he had done? Did she feel the need to escape him for some reason?

She had become such a necessary part of his life, even if she kept on turning him down for dates he didn't stop trying. He looked forward to seeing her everyday, never got tired of her enthusiasm or her little quirks. If anything, if only served to endear her to him even more.

And now she was gone….

"Hey Kenshin, what's wrong? You've gone all pale…." Sano asked with concern for his long time friend.

Wordlessly, the red-head turned the letter over to his friend who then read it in complete silence, a scowl painting his features.

"Enishi…" he hissed through his teeth. "I'll bet my last dollar she's left because of him."

Kenshin perked up. "Enishi?"

"Yes, him." Sano spat. "That stupid little Tanuki, running away so he won't bother us…."

Kenshin processed his friend's words over in his mind, releasing a breath that he hadn't realized that he had been holding. Relief filled him, Kaoru hadn't left because of him but that relief fast turned into anger. His violet eyes slowly bleed into a burnished gold to reflect the rage that was building within him….

It was because of another man and her fear of that man that she left.

Sano stood up suddenly and made his way for the door before turning around.

"What are you waiting for?" he barked at Kenshin, causing the smaller man to look up at him questioningly. "Well, come on! Let's go! We gotta stop Jou-chan before she gets on that train!"

Kenshin stood up fast and threw a few bills on the table, quickly following Sano out the door.

Please, Kaoru…be there.

&&&&&&&&&&&

end chapter six

Closing notes: Ack! The ending is a little weak, and I'm not overly happy with it, but it'll work for now. Sorry for making all my reviewers wait so long! Oh, and this isn't a reincarnation fic, I've just always liked the image of Kenshin in his usual outfit...teehee.