Warning: The characters below are not mine. This is a reincarnation one-shot and contains bad language and suicide of a main character. The characters might seem OOC, but I didn't think you'd be entirely the same person if you get reborn quite a few times over. Extra-baggage and experiences certainly can do that to a person, especially if you can remember more than one life lived... But, hey, if that don't float your boat, "Back" is only one button click away. ;-) I did, however, tried to keep the melodrama and morbidity at a minimal, despite the topics at hand. Oh, and there's plenty of references on one alternate pairing! So I've gone and written a few taboos, but I like it the way it is! Enjoy!

forgive me of my sins

by Blue Jeans


"See you in the next life-time, lover boy." She smiles bitterly as their eyes meet from across the apartment, which might as well be the universe. His familiar violet gaze is wide with shock, and she knows he won't make it in time to "save her" no matter how fast he is because her index finger's already pulling against the strings of fate. She's going to break them this time, if she could. She would have winked and said something more scathing or maybe even wittier, but she's on a time limit. He's not compared to superman by her colleagues, and some of her friends, for no reason. She remembers -why- most vividly, after all.

The gun goes off with a bang. She has a feeling she's going to learn to hate this weapon, despite having thought the silver barrel rather attractive looking but a few moments ago. A wisp of brown hair comes into view as the bullet kisses her scalp. She knows that hair and she has a pretty good idea how those horrified eyes will look when they see her corpse, but she'll be dead by then and it's out of her hands to think so far ahead. She's a little sorry already, so she's glad she hadn't gone and thrown herself over a bridge - no need to think about it two-thirds of the way down to arrive at regret. She had wanted to spare the other man she loved this pain. The anguish in her wouldn't die though, because she wasn't Himura Kenshin. She couldn't discard the past, even though she has tried. She deserves to move on, the way he's done the last five lifetimes. He always did manage to find some body new and cast her aside, even if she did happen to stumble back into his life - which, to her recollection, she has accomplished flawlessly, every single time.

She deserved to have loved only Sanosuke in this lifetime, guilt free and whole-heartedly. She deserved to no longer suffer, not in that man's shadow or in the hunger of his eyes. As far as she can recall, she's never done anything so terrible as to warrant this hellish type of fate. She thinks, in a way, it makes sense that she gets to have a happy ending with somebody else...

Sanosuke has loved her and taken care of her in many different ways the last few lives she's lived, well, at least the ones she's met him in. It just hadn't gotten romantic till this one, and she figured that he deserved it, just like she did. At the very least he was loyal. She was too, so they had a lot in common as is. But then a red-headed man walked back into her life, spouting off about soul mates and past-loves as if he had a right to come back. He was still so beautiful that she wondered why he was even there. He's never had a problem finding another warm body before. But he came and broke everything, even Sanosuke, her loyal lover - her first time for pretty much everything, this time around.

All her boys just had to go and remember that one particular lifetime that almost made the whole ordeal believable in the meant-to-be department, the one that hurts her the most to remember. She tells herself that the only reason Sanosuke gave in so easily is because of the past. It would be a major bummer if it wasn't. No fight, no going-down-in-a-blazing-glory, no jealousy... why, Sanosuke practically gift-wrapped her and handed her over like she was some type of a present! So, why not go out with a bang this time? It couldn't be worse. She was betrayed every time, no matter what, and all because somehow, the red-head had better people abilities than her.

Sanosuke will cry for her. She didn't want him to see her all bloodied for some other man. She didn't want him to hate himself for his decisions, though he sort of brought it on himself when he made them. But she understands, because she knows he's doing it with her best interest in mind. Kenshin had to go and ruin everything though, but she should have seen that coming.

Oh well, this one's over now. She hopes the seventh time around won't be so painful or so difficult. She hopes she doesn't cross path with Kenshin again. She hopes Sanosuke would forgive her and next time around, maybe she'd be a better girlfriend and actually say "I do" before some idiot red-head walked into her life and tried to break her in half. She hopes, but her record's pretty shoddy. It doesn't stop her though, because maybe, if she tried harder, she really will fall madly, deeply in-love with a stranger who will return her feelings. Then, when Kenshin does come around to "claim" her or she stumbles into his path (if he doesn't have some other dame to distract him already), her lover will actually put up a fight and she'd say "no" and mean it and they'd ride off into the sunset - minus the red-head - together.

Next time, she promises herself, it's going to be different. None of this bullshit about waiting or ever-lasting love. Maybe she'll even be a writer so she could tell all the fluffy-headed women out there the truth about this whole misconception on love and soul mates and reincarnations. It certainly was no picnic and so far, at least for her, no happily ever after in sight. She could care less now if he finds another woman to screw her over with as long as he stayed out of her line of vision and her way. Red-headed men were complications she didn't need or want, and she knows that no matter what they'll promise her, they'd just up and break her heart if she lets them.

But, for once in her life, Kamiya Kaoru was going to say "Fuck off!" to Himura Kenshin. It's going to work out for her this time, not him. He can go rot wherever the hell he pleases, because really, it's about time. For once, just once, she would like a role reversal because it's time for his heart to break. It's time for him to live with the taste of regret...

It's time for him to cry all the tears she ran out of a lifetime ago.

The seventh time around...

She met him at the coffee shop on the busiest street in her little town. Mornings really didn't agree with everyone, especially on a Saturday, but she had always been an early riser and her bookstore was opened seven days a week, minus the holidays. She was proud of it because it was all she had left of her parents and her childhood. The sun was bright, but it will take time for her to learn that their meetings always hailed the dawning of a bright day. It would have been perfect weather if it wasn't Spring and the breeze was less fickle in the chill department.

The sweater was soft, and she liked the deep-blue hue. It wasn't because the garment brought out the color of her eyes, but dark colors were nice on pale skin and nicer on the figure. She wasn't overtly chubby, but being a bookstore owner also meant she wasn't the fittest girl on the block. It was okay with her. Life was good. Her income wasn't rich but she survived better than most. New books were arriving that day, and she was looking forward to shelving them and reading the rest that may have interested her on her list.

He was sitting in the corner of the shop so she didn't see him right away when she walked in, despite his hair. He didn't see her either, as he was preoccupied with someone at the time, but between the two of them, he spotted her first. Unlike popular beliefs, when you meet someone in a past-life, even if he's your soul mate, and you're reincarnated, the memories don't just flood back into your head like a tidal wave on first glance. Hell, if it did, every reincarnate out there would be in a mental hospital, possibly twitching for a few years just from the brain over-load. However, she looked familiar, but only in the sense that her face, to him, seemed like someone he thought he knew already, or perhaps, saw very often. It was, actually, kind of funny in the sense that it really was a case of mistaken identity. He was overworked and his surprise - as his companion wasn't giving him the most stimulating conversation in the world - prompted him to greet her, compulsively.

"Miho-san—!" He cut himself off when she and the counter-woman looked over at him more for the disturbance than in response. The four of them are the only people in the shop at the time, so he really got her attention that time. On seeing her face, he realized how wrong he was. As they were destined, in some sense of the word, he felt an instant attraction to her. Her eyes were dark and deep, the light was hitting her just right that morning and the shadows gave her a mysterious air, that type of thing. "Sorry," he apologized for his outburst, instantly embarrassed, especially since his hand was in mid-wave. "I thought you were someone else."

"Ken-chan," his companion whines softly with a pout then. "Aren't you listening to me?" At this moment, he notices that his current girlfriend and the woman looking at him questioningly resembled each other as well, not so much in the features or even in the coloring, but in the overall affect.

If he hadn't had an interesting book on the table, she might never have gone over and talked to him either. But then again, they were still strangers and his disinterest in his girlfriend gave her the impression that she wasn't interrupting an intimate moment. She hadn't had coffee either and fate never really was on her side in any of her lifetimes before when it came to this type of clandestined affairs, so she foolishly goes up to him and smiles. "What an interesting book you have there," she points out. "I've not heard of it, I don't think, but it looks quite new." She's curious because it's her business and at her senior colleague's suggestions the night before, she really did need to keep up with the times when it came to what was the latest -in- genre.

He blushes, embarrassed. "It is rather new," he admits. "A book on the Hitokiri Battousai. Just speculations really, and more fiction than truth, but a lot of research has gone into it."

"Ken-chan is the author," his girlfriend suddenly cuts in with a withering, suspicious look up at this new woman. The tone is pointed and slightly proud, this leaves her more amused than insulted.

"An author," she grins. "That's interesting! I'm a bookstore owner myself, do I know of you?"

"Himura Kenshin," he introduces himself politely, under the watchful gaze of his companion. "And this is Mizuho Nanako, my girlfriend."

"Kamiya Kaoru," she nods and pointedly sticks her hand out at the girlfriend first. "What do you do, as both our professions are out in the open?" Kaoru queried with a friendly smile as she shakes Kenshin's hand as well. The whole time though, her eyes are on Nanako, least the woman feels more threatened.

Nanako though still not very trustful of her, is far less suspicious. "I'm a teacher," she answers flippantly. "My boyfriend and I are in the country for a vacation."

"Sounds relaxing," Kaoru banters. "How much farther do you have to go to get there?"

Nanako looks at Kaoru pointedly then, but Kaoru just smiles back at her innocently. "Nanako meant here," Kenshin supplied when neither women moved to speak. "She thinks any place without a three-story mall or ten night-clubs is the country."

"Oh," Kaoru nods in understanding. "Well, we don't have those, for sure. There is, however, a rather nice shopping center, one story and long. And I suggest Miko, the bar four blocks from here. Not Ben-chan though. Ten night-clubs is a bit far stretched for this country-bookworm, but of the two bars I know of, one is more than enough for a good time if you're looking for it." The woman at the counter calls Kaoru's attention away, though Kenshin found himself far more amused with this than Nanako will ever be with the topic at hand. "Coming, Tae-chan!" Kaoru answers before turning to the vacationers. "Well, looks like my time is up. Nice meeting you and enjoy -this- country. I'd point you to a farm and some cows, but you'll have to go further south for that." With a wink Kaoru turns to pick up her coffee. "Oh, and Himura-san," she says as she stands by the door. "I think a few copies of your books did arrive today at my shop. If you and Nanako-san want to drop by so you can sign them, I'd be glad to see both of you. This way I can sell them off at a higher price and we'd both be happier. I can't promise you a commission though, but I can definitely promise to sell them off with more enthusiasm! Kamiya Bookstore, a block down. Stop by if you want!"

The sun was shining as she left. Kaoru was feeling light-hearted and there was a smile on her face before caffeine even touched her lips, which is almost unheard of in Kaoru's book. Yes, it was a good day, she thought to herself confidently. Even if the cute red-head man and his cute, but hostile, girlfriend, doesn't pass by her store as she had hoped, it wouldn't make that much of a difference. Everything at this moment was fine and dandy, perfect even. Really, she wished she knew more Kenshins in the world!

Too bad that opinion never did last long, no matter how frequent it was in every lifetime.


"And the monster came and swooped down from the mountain," Yahiko jumped down onto the ground, causing his closer audience of small children to cry out and giggle as he continued his story telling. Kaoru was watching, her arms crossed over the counter with a content smile on her face when Kenshin dropped by.

Her favorite bell rang to announce his arrival and she turned to greet him brightly with a finger to her lips. "Kenshin-san," she exclaimed as quietly as she could when she saw him, eyes rounded with surprise. "I mean, Himura-san."

He chuckled when he notices her astonishment, only to end up having her wave him frantically to shush him. "Kenshin is fine." He waves a pen under her nose, for some reason acting flirtier than he's ever been comfortable with. "I believe I've got an appointment with some books."

"... And the monster said to the little girl, "Come hither and I'll not eat your eye-balls out too quickly!" as he slithered closer and closer..." Yahiko's slurped noisily, causing more fits of giggles and gasps and cries of disgust. His boyish voice drifted to them as Kaoru went to get Kenshin the books he requested. The red-head leaned in to listen with some interest before Kaoru returned.

"He's rather good," Kenshin commented with a nod in Yahiko's direction.

Kaoru beams proudly at this. "He's a brat," she declares with a wide smile. "Wants to be an actor some day, though his parents are terribly opposed to it." She sets the books gently on the counter, so not to disturb the current act. "The kids love him though, and I do too. Don't tell Yahiko-chan this, but cheap labor is rather hard to come by nowadays, unless they're too under-aged to join a union!"

"Ouch," Kenshin counters, eyes alight with pleasure. He can't seem to remember a time when he's smiled this much in anyone's company, not since he was a child, perhaps not even then. "You must be a harsh task-master."

"The worst!" she agrees. He chuckles a bit before he looks down, raising a brow at her after some inspection of the pile before him. "Is something wrong, Kenshin-san?"

"There's only five books here," he points out. "I thought I had to sign at least a hundred by the way you put it earlier yesterday."

"Oh pish! We're a small store," she tilts her head pointedly in the direction of the rest of the store. "A hundred and we'd just have ten authors, tops!" She pats the cover of the top book lovingly, which he notices. "I promise to give them good homes," he believes her because its one of the few times in his life that he's met someone who really just radiated a love for what she did. Immediately, he begins to feel respect well up in his chest, along with other emotions that are rushed and hurried and frightening, that usually takes longer to take root inside him, if it ever did before in the past. But her smile makes it easier for him to handle it all, at the moment. Later, he may feel guilty about it, but right now its friendly and not too outrageously flirty. She's witty and kind and radiant. She makes him smile unstoppably and lightens his heart mysteriously.

"I guess I shall help you with your money-grubbing ways," he teases her. "I don't believe I'm so big a name yet to sell these off so richly."

"Oh, and he's modest," Kaoru answers with a quirk in her own brow at her observations. "Well, we'll see. Success is as fickle as the weather in Spring." He grins back and the quote sticks with him. He's going to put it in his next book, even if he doesn't know it just yet. He's going to dedicate it to her too, but that's still in the future. He's going to make her cry and remember everything she's sworn to forget, but that will come later, as well.

Right now, they're watching a young-man act out an old fairytale that once was used to scare children. Sad warrior princes, terrible monsters, and a little lost girl running from her past... Why, add a few lifetimes to the tale and maybe there'd be some resemblances to the lives they've lived. "But the prince reached the fountain too late! For the little girl was already swallowed up by the monster," Yahiko tells the wide-eyed children who shuddered and shook beneath his ominous tone.

"He must feel rather guilty for being late," Kenshin observes with a weary and thoughtful grin.

"She must be angry enough to give that beast heart-burn," Kaoru jokes. Her eyes are just a little bit sadder, even if she doesn't really know why the emotion sits upon her heart so easily.


He meets her on and off again for a year. They both have dreams, mostly of each other, though they don't share it with each other. Perhaps, it is the only thing they don't share amongst themselves. Sometimes, she dreams of him as the Battousai he'd once written about, those dreams are always terrifying to her. Sometimes she dreams of a lost little boy. Sometimes she dreams of dying so very alone. And sometimes, when she's not careful, she dreams of him laughing, while familiar faces in her life now toasts to him and the bride at his side. It's never her in those dreams and she'd wake up crying. Those dreams confuses her and she's so guilty because he's really going out with Nanako, which means he's off the market and she shouldn't be thinking of him in any non-platonic manner. But when he broke up the woman, Kaoru was so elated that she was instantly feeling guilty again for being so petty.

They don't see each other much for some time, because she really did live in the country. Compared to his relatively richer and faster life-style, her little bookstore seemed a whole world away. He fascinates her with his worldly manners and contradictory kindness. There's nothing too cynical about him and he makes her feel so very comfortable. She thinks he's beautiful, and when he finally comes to visit with his white scarf around his tanned neck and a rich, dark-coat on Christmas day, all she could really think of was, "Wow! How handsome!" and she knew she was in love.

Everything was familiar and foreign at once with Kenshin. She was happy with him, even if her dreams of him were not always pleasant, and sometimes, downright disturbing. When she turned twenty-eight, and he came over with a bottle of her favorite wine and his arm, she thought there was nothing she couldn't forgive him for - especially since he was forty-minutes later than he had promised. He took her to the most expansive restaurant in town, which wasn't so expansive if you compared it to the city, and then asked her to go out with him, seriously.

She was so happy, she would have cried if she hadn't been smiling so hard. But theirs was a history with rules and it was starting then that she would begin to remember what she once promised herself never to forget. It would be, in the end, the memories that would break her heart.

One life-time ago...

Sagara Sanosuke and she had many interests in common, this one tied the knot. They were both chocoholics. There was not one time, in the two years they lived together - counting the five months of engagement - when there had not been some form of chocolate in the house. Well, all but that one time. Let's just say that it caused an emergency melt-down and people got trampled, lives were put on-hold, threats and accusations were thrown around like the ones in a bad melodramatic courtroom and everything was a mess until the chocolate stock was replenished. After that one-time, the two of them made a deal to never let it happen again.

This unhealthy obsession meant that Sanosuke's other obsession with the gym was equally shared with his girlfriend, who he would tease from time-to-time to having gained weight. Every time he did that, he would end up getting violently beat-up by her, but he never learned. She would later say that it was because he had a hard head, and learning anything was a life-long process for him since the thickness of his skull obviously reduced the space he needed for normal grey-matter.

It would be fair to say that they loved each other fiercely. Childhood best-friends turned high-school sweethearts turned college lovers and then just plain lovers. It progressed naturally to an engagement. Their history was thick and filled with happiness, memories, knowing looks and private jokes. They were loyal to one another, knew what the other wanted, seen everything together, and it was just natural to one-day marry. Their friends had teased them for years on being like a married couple as is and they felt that the two of them were finally settled enough and old enough to cross that last boundary in their relationship. He was working as a personal trainer now at the local gym and she was a new teacher at the local middle-school, so it was time to tie the final knot. It was time to start a family.

They were in the process of planning out the details of their wedding - though there were always a few pulled hairs whenever that was the main topic of the conversation - discussing the number of children they were going to have, the house they were planning to live in, and those types of things when Himura Kenshin walked into their lives. He was a widower, one daughter and one son - twins really - and both in the homeroom Kaoru was in charge of teaching. The daughter adored her and acted like an elegant little lady while her brother, the son, was a quiet but troubled boy. His father was called in to talk to her about it due to a few complaints from Kenji's other teachers. Kenji behaved himself well whenever Kaoru led them through the morning classes so Kenshin was not the only one who was surprised by the "troublemaker" label Kaoru's coworkers had put upon the red-headed little boy. Apparently, he only became despondent when the afternoon teachers came to teach, which left her slightly bewildered on how someone could change so much over lunch. But most of the other teachers didn't like him and would complain to her frequently, so she was in a bind and pressured to call in the parent. However, Kaoru was kind to Kenji and she just wanted to talk to his father about his son's isolation from the other children. She had never seen the truth behind any of the others' accusations, so she chose not to discuss anything that may end up with the poor kid getting an unwelcomed lecture, as all her coworkers had hoped for. Kenshin recognized her immediately though, and visited her three times before he asked her one too many personal questions. He was frantic because he noted her engagement ring, and she was disturbed by the attraction that pulled her towards him since, for once, she didn't remember him at all and she was obvoiusly not available.

"Himura-san, you have to stop coming by when I get off work," she told him firmly. In her heart she didn't want to betray Sanosuke, not even a little bit, no matter how Himura Kenshin made her heart skip a beat.

"Don't you remember me at all, Kaoru?" he asked her while his intriguing eyes bore into her. She paused and squinted her eyes at him, wondering what he meant. She had been dreaming about him since their first meeting, but how would he know such a thing? "We're soul mates," he declared when she made no attempt at a response.

She laughed in his face that time and then threatened him with a restraining order before flicking him off with her ring finger - which she didn't even realize one could do until she got engaged and her "soul mate" decided to show up in her life. Kaoru went home more distraught and bothered than she thought the incident deserved and spent an hour snuggling up to her huge fiancé on the couch, forcing him to watch some dramatic chick-flick on TV, before she felt good enough to make dinner. She was a terrible cook, but packaged food - so long as she didn't start getting creative - was a god-send to two people who had no clue how to use a stove and lived out of the microwave.

She had a dream that night and many nights after about Himura Kenshin. Each life remembered was more painful than the next. She didn't recall everything or learn of every detail, but she got a fairly good impression that she usually died bitter, unhappy and alone. He continued to visit her, forcing his presence onto her and testing her heart. Then, one day, he crossed that line and in a stroke of very bad karma - though she still hadn't figured the cause of it - Sanosuke and Kenshin met up, became friends, and then proceeded to become beer bodies - all behind her back - in the period of only a month. Suddenly, Sanosuke was also entangled in the life of a man he obviously admired, and who, unfortunately, was seriously in-love, as Sanosuke told ignorant Kaoru one-night, with an unavailable woman.

"My buddy's such a good-guy, I can't see how any woman could resist him!" Those words would come back to bite them both on their behinds later. She had the most terrible dream that night too. She woke up crying, unable to stop the tears that turned into sobs, and scaring Sanosuke out of bed as they sat away the morning with her sniffling into his chest. She called in sick that day and so did he, so that he could be with her. They spent the day on a long date and she felt better afterwards, but the hole in her heart that was slowly starting to gape open became deeper and darker with every passing moment. Sometimes she speculates that it was making room for a lover who would never belong to her, because he always did end up leaving her one-way or another. She spaced out twice on her date with Sanosuke, which made him worried and made her extra-conscious in the guilt department.

"My buddy's dropping by tonight," Sanosuke told her when they got back and he checked the machine. "I left my jacket with him the last time since the waitress has the hots for him and dumped a drink on his. I think she did it just so he would take it off, or whatever that woman got planned."

She had laughed at that and they were in the middle of a pillow fight to the death when the polite knocks came. It just so happened that she was the one who opened the door, as Kaoru -always- ended up on top in a pillow fight. Kenshin greeted her at the door with her fiancé's favorite jacket on his arm and a wide, apologetic grin. She was flushed and disheveled from messing around, and the heat just sparked to a whole new level as the look on Kenshin's face went from happy to surprised to primal in the blink of an eye. He was ready to jump her when Sanosuke walked into the hallway. "Hey sexy, is it our guest?"

She dazedly locked her gaze on Kenshin's collarbone to avoid the sudden amber-glazed look that took over Kenshin's eyes as the red-head looked up, face masked in a fake smile. "Sano, your jacket." he said while holding up his arm with the jacket draped over it.

"Come on in then, Kenshin." Sanosuke invited as he draped an arm around Kaoru's shoulders. Kenshin's eyes were frigid even though he was smiling so wide that his eyes were too squinty for the emotion to give him away. "Kaoru-chan, can't cook to save her life and neither can I, but we got instant food by the pounds to keep us alive! You want to stay for dinner and share?"

"Instant food?" Kaoru quickly cut in, not wanting to risk Kenshin staying for dinner if the answer was a yes. "Well, we can't offer that to guests! Sanosuke, all these years and you still haven't learned manners." She elbowed her fiancé in the ribs in case he got any more ideas.

"I don't mind," there was seduction and steel in Kenshin's voice. If she hadn't been dreaming about him so much, Kaoru might have missed it. But she had been dreaming about him and she didn't miss the tone at all. She was so screwed, and she just knew he'd volunteer to do the screwing too. Further protests ended when she had turned to Kenshin, ready to give him a piece of her mind. Sanosuke, oblivious to the current happenings when he least needed to be, turned to the kitchen with a consent over his shoulder. "Kaoru-chan," Kenshin caressed her name under his breath as he took the door frame from her desperate clutches and closed it. "I guess after all this time, you still can't cook, huh?"

"Not everything's the same," she warned him off in a heated hiss. But that night was the mark that sealed their twisted fate.

A week after, Kenshin told Sanosuke everything. The spiky-haired, cheerful man Kaoru grew up loving came home angry and distraught and confused. They had a violent shouting match, the first one in over two decades that didn't end up with a make-out session, though they never had one this heated. "Do you love him?" Sanosuke asked tiredly from the other side of the room when they ran out of things to yell about.

Can I help it? she wanted to ask. "Can we just not have him in our lives?" she said instead.

Sanosuke looked at her with those brown, soulful eyes that knew more than he let on to anyone. "You know the answer to that, Kaoru."

"I wish he never came into my life," she told him honestly, desperate for him to understand.

He went to her then, and she met him halfway. "I know," he whispered into her hair, clutching her so tightly that she knew he didn't want to let her go and just enough to let her know that, in the end, he will. "But that's not how it happened."

She went out the next day and bought herself a revolver. She contemplated killing Kenshin, but she couldn't even put her finger on the trigger in her head, so she knew that was fruitless. He met her as she was sipping wine at the local lounge two days later. "Kaoru," his hand ran down her back just the right way to leave her close to shuddering. It took Sanosuke sixteen years to learn that move, and her current soon-to-be-ex still hadn't perfected it. "What are you doing here?"

"I knew I'd find you here," her eyes were trained on the wine, in case she couldn't get through the things that needed to be said. Why did she ask for grape-wine? Why did it have to be amber, just a shade off from his gaze when he looked at her with that insatiable hunger? "Why?"

He was silently observing her. "Why what?" he countered.

"Why now?" her breath hitched in her throat as he shifted closer to her. She could feel the heat radiate off of his body. Five life-times later and he still had that effect on her. Despite having broken her heart all five times, despite having only married her once out of the five and still leaving her to die alone. Despite everything, here she was again, same old feelings, same old soul along with the same, stupid heart. "I've attended every wedding of yours until this one, did you know that? Out of all the ones I've been to, I was only a bride once." she fisted one hand in her hair and laughed. "For the first time, I'm actually going to get married to somebody else who's not you, and it took five lifetimes for me to get here. No more silly dreams on what can't be. No more wishes for the impossible. And then you just decide to waltz back into my life as if they've never happened and everything's alright!"

"Kaoru, you know I would never deliberately break your heart." He tells her with so much sincerity in his voice that she just had to look up at him so that she could know the face that was lying to her now.

"Why did you tell Sanosuke?" she asked him in quiet despair. "If you hadn't we'd be getting married a month from now."

"I can't let you," Kenshin tells her helplessly and the spark of jealousy lights up in his eyes just at the thought of it. It disturbs her that she knows exactly what he's thinking after only meeting him a handful of times.

"But it's okay with you?" Kaoru feels that some of the alcohol must have gotten to her head already because usually she'd never say these things so directly to someone she's known less than two months, and only sporadically. "This is the sixth life-time, Kenshin. You have broken my heart more times than one. I was so happy in that second life, did you know that? I was so sure that we were going to do it right this time! No more guilt for the past, no more dead wife to worry over... And you know what you did? You went and married somebody else in that one. And then a second time and a third time, all the way up to this life! I have gotten drunk more than once at your wedding ceremonies, the after parties, whatever. I think I've ruined at least two so much that the cops were called. I've even spoke up in church so I wouldn't have to hold my damned peace, and you never gave me the time of day! There was never a happily ever after to this, so why not just give it up, Kenshin? Why not just let me go in this one?"

"I can't," he tells her, all golden-eyed and beautiful. She thinks if there was a god out there that wanted to punish her, he did a pretty damn good job of it by creating Kenshin. "I would have, you know that, if I had remembered-"

"Fuck you," she shoved him away suddenly with all the pent-up rage of all the sad, dead-end, pathetic lives she's lived up to now. This was sick. This was messed up. Life and love and soul mates, whatever they were they were not supposed to be this complicated and she wasn't going to waste away like she had in the past because of it. "You can't promise me happiness, Kenshin, so leave me alone!"

He caught her, a block from her safe apartment, from her safe life with Sanosuke that was shattered when he walked back into her life, just like so many lifetimes before. He kissed her till she knew that any life with Sanosuke, or any other man for that matter, would never live up to -this-. "I love you," he told her with a desperate need in his voice in the shadowed alley, while they stood between garbage bins and the rest of the world outside. "I can promise you that."

Kaoru had a sudden revelation that this was love for her. This was her cosmic fate. This bubble of desire that won't die, wedged between the garbage - where she should have shoved it five lifetimes ago - and the real world that would eat her alive anyway. "All you can promise me is that you'll break my heart," she told him and then proceeded to kick his legs from under him - curtsey of the judo classes she took when she was in college and Sanosuke was having fits of protectiveness about her. She ran for her life, or away from it, which ever one came first.

Oh, the pain and the loneliness was already there! But unlike all the rest of the lives she's lived, instead of bottles of bourbon or scotch, instead of endless work or an apartment full of cats, she's got a revolver this time to end the pain and help her escape the moments that will grip her forever if she lived. It's silver and bright and clean, it takes less thinking time than jumping off a bridge and right now she thought her brain deserved some splattering, just so she could say another "Fuck you!" back to the fates that led him to her because they'd been flipping her off for sometime now. This was never going to work out, and she thought brain-splatter would get their attention and let them know that the entire cosmic plan needed some reworking if she was supposed to sign-up for it again.

She walked in and left her door wide-open. No point now, Sanosuke had asked her to move out, after all. She loses a heel at the door and walks crooked and still mildly buzzed - emotionally and otherwise - to the bedroom where her dresser is. She takes out the cute little purse that her sister Misao bought her on her sixteenth birthday. She wonders how many hearts this will break and hoped Kenshin's turns to ashes. Sitting on the table at the end of the hallway, she admired the silver and black. She drops the heel still attached to her left foot. There's really no point going off to the other-world one-heeled! She proceeds to load the gun the way her father taught her and her sister when they were younger.

There are now voices in the apartment, and she knows one of them by heart. It's sexiest when she lays her head on his chest to feel it rumble all the way out, though she hadn't done that for at least a few lifetimes now. She doesn't know why she even remembers it and she's pulling on the trigger before he rounds the corner. She can see her name on his lips and she thinks, how sweet, in this one he knows my name at least. "See you in the next life-time, lover boy."

It's a promise she doesn't intend to keep, but Life was listening and missed the taunting tones in her voice.

Current time...

He came by when she didn't pick up her phone on her birthday, worried. Theirs was a long-distance romance but he never felt this strongly about anyone. He knocked on her familiar, apartment door - right above her little bookstore - and when she didn't answer, he proceeded to turn the knob and found the door was unlocked. There was a moment of sheer terror in his heart, and Kenshin - despite never having been a violent person in this life - promised himself that if somebody had came in and hurt his Kaoru, he was going to kill them.

He found her crying on the love-seat they shared their first kiss on as if her heart was shattered or a relative had died. He had spoken to Soujirou, her cousin, the other day and Misao, her best-friend. They seemed fine when he last checked up on them to confirm that his plans will sweep Kaoru off of her feet this day. Sanosuke, his ever verbal publicist had teased him about being a whipped boy when he found out. But no one he knew that she loved was in any way hurt or dying or dead. "Darling," he draws her into his arms when he neared, relieved that she was, at least, not physically injured. "What's the matter?"

She only cries harder, hands weakly pushing at his chest. She's never rejected him before, so he's confused by her actions. "Kaoru-chan, did something happen?"

Kaoru just cries for a long time without answering, until her tears run out. She hiccups and he finds it so cute and endearing that his just falling in love with her more, even in this moment. "Don't you remember?" she finally asks him in the familiar words that once he had used against her. "Don't you remember me, Kenshin?"

"Of course I remember you, Kaoru," he answers her puzzled.

"I know you dream of me," she finally said. He stills next to her, surprised. "You don't have much to remember though, but I've got plenty of memories for both of us. I just wanted to know if you remembered what happened the last time we met."

"What happened the last time we met, Kaoru?" he ask her tenderly, though a part of him fears the answer.

Her eyes finally meet his. So many different lifetimes and they're still so beautiful, he realizes. "I killed myself," her words shatter him. He doesn't remember, but he knows, deep down, she's telling the truth. His heart recalls that feeling when she left him behind and for a moment, just a moment, he wants to move away from her to recoup.

"Are we even now?" he asks her bitterly, even though, at the moment, he doesn't fully understand what he means himself.

"Do you think we'll ever be?" she asks him tiredly, looking away. "You must be terribly angry with me."

"And you're not anymore?" his voice is more controlled now, and he's fighting himself for a calmness that he doesn't feel.

She smiles at him ruefully, pulling him away from the turmoil that burns in his chest. "I think, I'm too tired to be angry with you now." She tells him truthfully, but she makes no promises for the future because every time they meet, something changes while other things stay the same. And when he looks at her, he can understands what she has left unsaid. The radiance that drew him to her is severely dampened by the sorrow that makes her an entirely different type of beautiful. It was, still, so achingly beautiful to him. There was a soul-deep weariness now that makes her eyes dark and deep, easier to drown in and easier to die for. He discovers then that he could write a whole book about her, maybe six or seven if she tells him of the lives he's missed out on and the one she's denied him entirely. "I wonder, if you could ever forgive me." Her fingers curls at the nape of his neck, a sensitive area for him that most women never discover because he'd never let anyone know about it, but Kaoru always just -knew-.

"I don't know," he answers her honestly. "Have you forgiven me?" he whispers the question intimately, in her ear, because it's taken him long, anguished years and another chance to figure out just one reason to her many decisions.

"I don't know," she answers with equal honesty. They curl into each other, a comforting embrace filled with pain. "But, I know I love you. I know it was the same, every lifetime, no matter how much I denied it or was denied of it. I know it will continue to be the same forever, even if you break my heart a thousand times over when the time comes to pass." She has no doubt he will, sooner or later. If not this life then the next one, but he'll manage eventually. But she also knows that sooner or later she'll do the same, and their past record promises that such predictions be true no matter how much she may want it to be otherwise.

He smiles into her hair with equal pain and pleasure because he knows that when he fails to remember her in time and breaks her heart, she'll crush him because no one in the world has that power but her. "I love you too," he tells her and he knows now, that all this time the heart he held on to in the palm of his hand was more fragile than he had thought. Yet, this was the only heart he desired. "I can't promise you a happily ever after, Kaoru, just that I will love you forever."

"Then maybe," she sighs softly into that sensitive space between his neck and shoulders, "this just might work out, after all. But promises were always so hard to make with you, Kenshin."

He shudders in her arms, bound to her by every emotion known to Man and tied to her by so much more than fate. "I'll try, Kaoru. I can promise you to try."

The End

I went over it... it's less error-prone now (I hope). For those of you wondering, Kenshin, when he acknowledges that he's tied to Kaoru by every emotion known to Man, hate is mixed in with love. I mean, she's hurt him pretty bad in the past too, but it's mutual because they love each other so much that the other person just has that power and both seem to use that rather blindly... but eh, if you get reborn all the time (speculation), I'm sure you'll do pretty stupid things over and over again too. Hehhehe! Hoped you enjoyed and thank you to those that reviewed! I'm really glad you liked it!