DISCLAIMER: Rurouni Kenshin and Rurouni Kenshin characters are exclusively owned by Watsuki Nobuhiro, Shueisha, Sony Entertainment, Jump Comics and associated parties. Please note, this is purely fiction and for entertainment purposes only. This story is not meant for sale or profit.
Author's Notes: This is a short (two chapter) romance ficcie that takes place shortly after the Kyoto Arc. I got the idea from a scene in Episode 64, "Prince Yahiko's Born? Debut on High Society". K/K are coming back from the theater. Kaoru chides Kenshin for not paying attention during the play or something like that.
SUMMARY: Kenshin and Kaoru finally gets to spend some quality time together. They decide to go into town to enjoy a little entertainment. Kenshin hopes to use this occasion to ask Kaoru to marry him. Unfortunately, something happens that causes him to confront his past. Will he allow his past to keep him from having a happy future with Kaoru? (k/k pairing) To Love Again, Romance Fanfiction by Gypsy-chan Enjoy! (Created 7/2004, posted 7/2005)
LYRICS DISCLAIMER: Don't own "Boulevard Of Broken Dreams" by Green Day, even though I just love that song!
The next morning, Kaoru was in the kitchen preparing breakfast. Yahiko entered the room as she set the table. A large scowl grew upon his face as he observed Kaoru spooning a large portion of rice into his bowl.
"Hey ugly, what's that stuff?"
"It's your breakfast brat," she remarked while plopping more of the overcooked rice into his dish. "You don't have to eat it you know."
"Where's Kenshin?" he asked scanning the room for signs of the rurouni. "Why isn't he making breakfast?"
"I... don't know," she answered quietly.
"Maybe he is still asleep," the junior samurai supplied. "Did you check his room?"
"Yes," she nodded sadly, "But he wasn't there."
Yahiko stared at her in disbelief. "Not in his room?"
Kaoru didn't respond. She sat staring blankly into her bowl. The spikey haired youth noted her expression. He began to worry over the whereabouts of his mentor and best friend.
"Why is Kaoru acting so strangely? It's not like Kenshin left us again. This is his home now. He said so when he returned from Kyoto after his battle with Makoto Shishio. So,... where could he be?"
He knitted his brow together while peering into Kaoru's direction. "Hey... Did you two have a fight or something?"
"Little kids should not meddle in the affairs of grown ups," remarked Sano as he entered the kitchen.
Yahiko leered up at the tall street fighter. "I wasn't talking to you rooster head!" Sano glared daggers at the junior samurai.
"Sanosuke," Kaoru quickly intervened, "Have you seen Kenshin?"
"Yeah, he's down by the river," Sano answered matter-of-factly. He then knelt beside Kaoru at the low table and spooned himself a bowl of miso soup and rice.
"Down by the river," Kaoru repeated, placing a hand over her heart.
"Don't worry jou-chan," he mumbled through a mouth full of rice. "Kenshin is probably catching us fish for dinner. I'm sure he'll be back soon."
Kaoru smiled slightly and dipped her head to the ex-fighter for hire. "Thank you Sanosuke." She rose from her seated position. "I have a class to teach across town today. Yahiko," she turned her gaze upon her rebellious student, "remember to practice the lessons I taught yesterday. You will be tested thoroughly when I return."
"Yeah, yeah whatever," came his brusque reply. As Yahiko reached for the last rice ball, Sano quickly grabbed his hand.
"Hey that's mine you little punk!"
"Let me go you big chicken head!"
Kaoru heaved a sigh at the two bickering youths. She pivoted on her heels and padded down the hallway to her room. While changing into her training gi and hakama, the fiery kendo instructor's thoughts drifted upon a certain red-headed swordsman.
"Kenshin seemed very subdued during dinner last night. He barely spoke two words to me. After washing the dishes, he mentioned that he was tired and simply went to his room. However, when I peeked inside his room this morning, I noticed his futon hadn't been slept in. His room looked so empty. I wonder has he... left me behind again?"
Tears trickled down her face at the thought of Kenshin never coming back.
"No, I'm not going to think like that. Kenshin probably needed some time to himself. It must have been horrible watching that actor portraying him as Hitokiri Battousai on stage. I'm sure it wasn't easy for Kenshin either having to hear that man tell his son that he was a cold blooded murderer. What a jerk! I can't believe he sat their telling his son that Kenshin enjoyed spilling the blood of innocent people. Baka! He's just like all the rest. Blaming Kenshin for all the evil committed during those harsh days. I'm sure that's why Kenshin is down by the river. He has a lot of things to sort out within his mind and heart."
Kaoru brushed back the stray tears that had fallen upon her cheeks.
"I must hurry into town to teach my class. I want to be here when Kenshin returns. Maybe he will be ready to talk with me."
She quickly left the dojo and headed across town to her teaching assignment.
Down by the river, Kenshin sat with his back pressed against the trunk of a large cherry blossom tree. He began reflecting upon the events of the prior day. He and Kaoru finally had an opportunity to spend some quality time together. As he sat next to the woman he loved, Kenshin was making plans on how he would ask for Kaoru's hand in marriage. Unfortunately, everything came to an abrupt halt upon tuning into a conversation he had overheard between a young boy and his father who sat in front of them. It was a conversation that he couldn't seem to get out of his mind.
"Father, who is the man on stage suppose to be?"
"He is playing the part of Hitokiri Battousai, the 'man of legends' my son..."
"Father, if Battousai-san fought in the Revolution, would that not make him a hero?"
"No son, Hitokiri Battousai was not a hero. He lurked in the shadows like a wild beast waiting to kill his prey. Many innocent men, women and children died by his hand. He was nothing more than a cold-hearted murderer who enjoyed spilling the blood of men."
"...enjoyed spilling the blood of men..."
"How could I have been so blind," Kenshin spoke out loud. "Seeing the one portraying me as Hitokiri Battousai only confirms what Shishou said. I was used as pawn in their vicious war games. I should have stayed and finished my training."
Kenshin pulled out the small pouch that Hiko had given him while in Kyoto. He poured the ring into the palm of his hand. Tears trailed down his face as he sat staring down at the sparkling heirloom his master had bestowed upon him.
"I'm sorry Kaoru. This unworthy one had hoped to live out the rest of his days in peace with you. I know now that all my hopes and dreams of being with you will will never come to pass. A hitokiri is what I am, a hitokiri is what I will always be."
Kenshin rose to his feet and glanced one last time at the ring that was suppose to bring him happiness. Sighing heavily, he returned the ring into it's pouch and tucked it safely inside the sleeve of his magenta gi. As with his former master, he too had no further use for the precious piece of jewlery.
"Sayonara Kaoru-dono. Sessha will become a wanderer once more."
The rurouni secured his Sakabatou within the ties of his hakama before heading on the path leading out of Tokyo.
I walk a lonely road
The only one that I have ever known
Don't know where it goes
But it's home to me and I walk alone
I walk this empty street
On the Boulevard of Broken Dreams
Where the city sleeps
and I'm the only one and I walk alone
My shadow's the only one that walks beside me
My shallow heart's the only thing that's beating
Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me
'Til then I walk alone...
In the middle of demonstrating one of her techniques, Kaoru felt a sickening feeling in the pit of her stomach. She suddenly wrapped her arms around her midsection and dropped to her knees.
One of her senior student rushed over to his instructor, noting how pale she had suddenly become.
"Sensei, sensei, are you not well," the teenaged boy anxiously asked.
Kaoru gave him a weak smile. "Hai, hai," she replied while slowly rising to her feet. "I am fine Kazunori-san. I just lost my balance for a moment."
Kazunori raised his brow at her. He had never known his teacher to lose her balance. She always held perfect form and was in control of every move. "You look ill sensei. Are you sure you are alright? I could bring a cup of tea for you to drink."
"No thank you. I am fine now, really." She bowed her thanks for his concern and then turned her attention back to the other students. "Class, we will end the lessons here for today. I have to leave now."
"Would you like for one of us to follow you home," regarded another one of her students.
"Thank you Mabuchi-chan, " she replied resting her hand upon the young boy's shoulder, "but it is not necessary. I will see everyone in a week for your next lesson. Practice hard class."
"Yes Sensei," they all answered in unison.
Kaoru turned to two of her senior students. "Kazunori-san, Tadabumi-san..."
"Please put away the equipment and lock up for me."
They bowed their response to their teacher before carrying out her instructions. Kaoru pivoted on her heels and headed for the door. Once out of the sight of her students, she put her hand to her chest.
"Why did I react so strangely back there? It's as though I heard Kenshin calling my name. Could something have happened to him? I must hurry home!"
Kaoru hasten her pace back to the dojo.
Kenshin walked several miles out of town. He cast his weary eyes into the clouds.
"It will be night fall soon. I should find shelter for the night."
Taking several steps off the road, he went into the forest. Once there, he noticed a bed of cherry blossom leaves strewn between several large trees. He gathered up the leaves to use as bedding. He groaned inwardly while staring down at his bedding for the night.
"This is not going to be as comfortable as my futon. I'm really going to miss my room at the Kamiya dojo."
Kenshin slid his Sakabatou out of his hakama and sat down, resting his back against the tree. As various images of Kaoru flashed inside his mind, stray tears escaped his closed eyelids and trickled down his face.
"Kaoru-dono, I'm sorry for leaving you behind again. I know I should have told you but I don't think I could bear seeing you hurt again. Please don't be angry."
A cool breeze suddenly caused the worn-out swordsman to fall into a deep sleep. An hour later, he heard a familar voice whispering his name throughout the forest.
The rurouni blinked twice, adjusting his eyes to the bright light that was instantly thrust upon him.
"Shinta, why are you crying," a young woman asked stepping out of the light.
Kenshin stared wide-eyed at the beautiful young woman. Before he could answer, a second young woman appeared.
"Why are you crying Shinta?"
He turned looking between the two young women he remembered in his youth. "Kasumi... Akane...?"
"Yes," a third woman answered as she knelt beside the startled swordsman. "Why are you so sad? My sisters and I have been watching over you. Have you not found the happiness you have sought for so long?"
Kenshin dropped his head allowing his long bangs to cover his face.
"Yes, but it is not to be. My past is too stained to enjoy such happiness."
Sakura lifted his chin so that he could face her. "Did I not tell you to live on for me Shinta?"
Kenshin shifted his eyes away from hers.
"I am sorry," came his soft sobs, "The sacrifice that all of you made for me was all in vain. I've destroyed so many lives with the life you gave me. It should have been me to die that day instead of all of you."
The older girl pulled the one she once viewed as her little brother into her bosom. "Our deaths were not in vain my dear Shinta," she replied, tenderly stroking his back. "The times that we lived in were truly wicked. Poverty, diease, slavery, death... it was all around us. One could not go unscathed during that era."
"Women were of no value back then," Akane interjected, "our family was very poor. That's how we came to be in the possession of the slavers. They were going to sell us off to a brothel. I would have preferred death instead of the life awaiting us in a brothel."
"That's why we chose to protect you," Kasumi added.
"But I have failed all of you," Kenshin replied as he moved back to face Sakura. "I couldn't protect you back then. I couldn't protect Tomoe or Kaoru-dono when she was kidnapped by Udo Jineh. This unworthy one has wasted the precious blood you spilled." Fresh tears streamed down his face. "Please forgive this one for being such a disappointment."
"No Shinta, you have not disappointed us," Sakura said putting a finger over his lips to hush him. "By means of our blood, you have used your sword to help bring in a new era of peace."
"Everyone today is living in happiness," Akane added, "except the one who needs it the most." She rested her hand upon his heart and smiled slightly. "You don't have to suffer any more Shinta. It's time for you to live on."
"Live on for us Shinta... ," Kasumi uttered. "Live on."
A strong wind, unexpectedly began stirring up the cherry blossom leaves that was around the base of the tree Kenshin sat under. He shot up abruptly as the winds grew even stronger. Long locks of his fiery red mane blew into Kenshin's face, blocking his vision. The rurouni strained his eyes in search of the three courageous young girls who saved his life as a boy.
"Kasumi-san! Akane-san! Sakura-san!"
He called to no avail. The three sisters were no where to be found. The winds abruptly halted, causing the bewildered swordsman to wonder whether he had experienced some kind of apparition.
"Was it all a dream," he asked as he rubbed the sleep from his eyes. "It all seemed so real."
Kenshin brushed off the dirt from the back of his hakama. The red haired swordsman smiled inwardly as he thought back over his brief encountered with the three young women. After tightening his Sakabatou back into the ties of his hakama, he turned and bowed into the direction he remembered the ones he thought of as his "sisters" once stood.
"Arigatou Kasumi, Akane and Sakura. Arigatou for looking after this unworthy one and guiding him on the path to happiness."
With that, Kenshin hasten his steps back to Tokyo.
Daylight had started to wane. Kaoru cast her worried eyes into the clouds. Nightfall would soon be weaving it's dark shadows over the Kamiya dojo and yet Kenshin still hadn't return. Earlier, when she arrived at the dojo, she noticed that the laundry hadn't been touched and dinner wasn't prepared. Out of all the chores in the house, those were the ones that Kenshin enjoyed doing the most. When she expressed her concerns to Sano and Yahiko, they reassured her that Kenshin would return soon. However, deep down, the two youths also felt something amiss. They chose to conceal their suspicions rather than worry Kaoru even further.
"Mou! Where is that baka," vented the feisty young kendo teacher. "He should have been home hours ago!" She ranted while pacing the tatami floor.
"Calm down jou-chan, I know he'll be..."
"YOU'VE been saying that all day," she yelled shoving her bokken into the frightened ex-fighter for hire's face. "When are you two jerks going to admit that something has happened to Kenshin!"
"Kaoru is right. I think something has happend to Kenshin," Yahiko finally confessed. "It's not like him to stay away from us so long. Maybe he got attacked or something."
"Attacked," Kaoru repeated in horror. Her face suddenly grew pale. "He might be lying around hurt somewhere, thinking that we will come for him."
Sano let out an exasperated sigh. "Geez! Now look at what you've done! Jou-chan is going to start worrying over nothing. You really have a big mouth for such a little punk."
"Stop calling me LITTLE," Yahiko hollered.
Kaoru took her bokken and whacked both of the freeloading boarders on the head. "Why are you two standing around arguing! Kenshin could be in trouble somewhere. We have to find him!" She quickly headed toward the door.
"Hold on little missy," Sano called while nursing the large bump she thrust upon his head. "If we all go out to look for Kenshin, what will he think when he returns to the dojo and finds it empty?"
Kaoru halted in her tracks. After thinking it over what Sano said, she sighed in defeat. "I guess you have a point."
"Don't worry Kaoru, if Kenshin is still out there, we promise to bring him back safely."
A sad smile crossed the raven haired girl's face. "Thank you Yahiko... Sanosuke." With that, the two youths left the dojo in search of their missing friend.
For hours, Kaoru tried keeping herself occupied with menial tasks. However, the later it got, the more she worried. Grabbing a haori from her room, Kaoru threw it around her shoulders and went out to the front porch. After taking a seat, she noticed several fireflies in the yard. Seeing them only brought back painful memories. She put her hand over her heart as she recalled the worst day of her life.
"...When I first met you... even though you knew I was Hitokiri Battousai, you kept me from leaving. "I don't care about a person's past," you said. I was very happy..."
"...to the government and to Shishio's faction, to all the people who bear a grudge against Hitokiri Battousai, Battousai is all that I am. I cannot allow myself to remain here..."
(Kenshin suddenly pulls her into a warm embrace)
"...Arigatou for everything you've done... and farewell. Sessha is rurouni. Sessha will wander once again."
(He releases her from his embrace. Tears form in Kaoru's eyes then spills down her cheeks. She suddenly falls to her knees, whispering out his name...)
"Ken . . . shin."
The broken hearted girl thrust her face into the palms of her hands and cried.
Several hours later, the former hitokiri returned. He used his stealth like skills to ease into the dojo gates in order to avoid disturbing the occupants of the house at such a late hour. As he rounded the corner, he noticed Kaoru sitting on the front porch fast asleep. The illumination from the stars seemed to glisten over her delicate features. His heart was warmed as he watched the woman he loved waiting on his return. The raven-haired girl suddenly shifted in her sleep. Kenshin noticed a frown growing upon her face.
"Ken-shin," she uttered softly followed by several tears.
The rurouni felt a pang of guilt as more tears trickled down the slumbering girl's cheeks.
"I'm sorry for being the cause of your worries. I hope you can forgive this unworthy one."
Kaoru's eyes began to flicker open. The figure standing before her slowly stepped into the light of the moon. Her heart skipped a beat upon recognizing the lone figure.
"I'm home Kaoru-dono."
The raven-haired girl sat up and smiled as she bowed her response.
"Welcome home Kenshin."
She slid over, gesturing for Kenshin to sit next to her. Kenshin gladly complied.
The two sat in a brief silence, neither one knowing what to say. Kaoru couldn't take the silence any longer. She spoke first.
"You've been gone all day. I was worried sick about you."
"Sessha is sorry for worrying you Kaoru-dono, that he is."
"Where... were you," she asked biting her bottom lip.
Kenshin turned to face her. Kaoru cheeks suddenly tinted pink. She quickly averted her eyes to the ground.
"I'm sorry Kenshin. I have no right to ask you such personal things. I..." Kaoru suddenly froze midsentence when Kenshin took his finger and lifted her chin so as to face him.
"It is I who should apologize to you Kaoru-dono." He rested his hand over hers. "Sessha had many things to think about, that he did. This unworthy one felt he could never live a normal life. However, the sweet words of three courageous young girls helped this one to understand what it means to be happy."
"Three... girls," Kaoru softly repeated, fighting back the tears that began to well into the corner of her eyes.
"Yes," Kenshin answered, "Kasumi-san, Akane-san and Sakura-san. I met them when I was a small boy shortly after the death of my parents. I was sold to slavers and was traveling in a caravan with other slaves. A group of bandits attacked us. Kasumi-san, Akane-san and Sakura-san sacrificed their lives so that this unworthy one's life could be spared."
Tears began to stream down Kenshin's face. Kaoru lifted her hand to his scarred cheek to wipe away his tears as he spoke.
"They didn't deserve to be cut down like animals. If only I had been stronger back then, I could have saved them."
"Kenshin..." Kaoru wrapped her arms around him and cradled his head into her bosom. "You were but a mere child back then. It would have been difficult to stand against their swords. Kasumi-san, Akane-san and Sakura-san knew that. That is why they sacrificed their lives to protect you. They wanted you to live on and be happy." She gently nudged Kenshin back so that he could face her. She then rested her hand on the hilt of his sword.
"With this sword, you have secured peace and happiness for many people in the past. As you continue to use your sword to protect the happiness of others, I want to always be by your side to protect your happiness."
"Kaoru..." He wrapped his arms around her. A few moments later, he pulled apart from her. "This unworthy one would be most honored to have you remain by this ones' side." He then slipped his hand into the sleeve of his gi and pulled out the small pouch. Kaoru gave him a bewildering look as he took her left hand and empty the contents within her palm. Kaoru's eyes lit up as she held the sapphire and gold jeweled ring out before her.
"It's beautiful," she whispered as tears streamed down her face.
Without a word, Kenshin took the ring from her hand and slipped it on her finger. He then tilted her chin up with his finger so she could look at him.
"No... You are beautiful," he commented.
Kaoru blushed furiously and smiled. Kenshin moved closer to capture her lips with his own. The anxiety she felt earlier suddenly disappeared with his kiss. As kenshin deepened the kiss, he felt as if Kasumi, Akane, Sakura and Tomoe were all smiling for him.
"Our little Shinta has finally learned how to accept happiness..."
"and... how to love again."
GLOSSARY AND NOTES:
Haori: A lightweight silk jacket used to help keep the kimono clean and dry. It can also be used as an outer jacket.
Author's Notes: I'd like to thank all those who left a review (enroute, Xkenkao12x, Emily Rueckert, WCgirl, Jade Summers and SilverKitsune6291). Thanks for your great reviews and support. A special thanks for Goldangel2 for being the first reviewer. I really appreciate and are always honored when you review my stories. Thanks for your continued support. Special thanks also to kenshin's fan. I tried to email you to thank you personally but the email came back undeliverable. Please email me okay so we can chat. And to all those who didn't leave a review, Gypsy-chan thanks you too. I received 124 hits for the first chapter which makes me happy. Yipee !
Okay, that's it peeps! Hope you enjoyed this little ficcie. I know I wrote this one pretty waffy but hey, I love K/K waff. So don't send me your dental bills if you got cavities from reading this ficcie. Okay I've got to get back to updating my other ficcies. Until next time!