A/N: Here is another chapter for DEVOTION. Thank you for the reviews that I got I really appreciate it. The reviews show me that I should continue with this story. Have no fear I will be continuing this story. On with the story!
CHAPTER THREE: Agony
During the cab ride, Kaoru kept her stare on the passing buildings. True, her eyes were on the passing buildings but her mind was somewhere else. She still couldn't believe that she was now working for Kenshin. She would have to see him everyday, and would have to feel the pain over and over again. But she kept telling herself that she's strong; that no matter how much it hurts, she would have to bear with it.
She kept a look out making sure she hasn't passed her apartment. She dismissed her thoughts on Kenshin; she was too tired to even think about her problems. Being Kenshin's secretary meant working much harder. She had to show Kenshin that she can keep pace with the work, no matter how he piled it to her. During work she did notice how Kenshin kept going to her desk to give her more paperwork to copy, to read over, to file, or whatever he could think of. It goes to show that he wanted her to give up; but she would prove him wrong.
She stopped the cab when they reached her apartment; gave the driver the money, and headed to the door. She rummaged through her bag, trying to look for her key; she found it stuck between her wallet. She went in, and plopped on her sofa, if you could even call it a sofa; it was dirty, there were patches here and there where Kaoru tried to sew back the torn fabrics that were made by the old owner; she couldn't afford a new one, so she stuck with this one. She got up and went to the fridge, trying to look for the left over Chinese she had the other night; when she found it she heated it up. She played the messages on her answering machine. There was only one
"Kaoru, its Misao. I wanted to remind you about the dinner party me and Aoshi are throwing. You promised to come, so you better come. Oh and tell me about your job! I'm sure they pay excellent money, now you can get back your flower shop again. I can't wait, don't worry I'll be helping you design it. The good old times! Well got to go, got a lot of stuff to do. Bye!"
Kaoru smiled hearing the voices of her friend.
She finished eating her left over Chinese; she quickly washed the dishes, and headed for the bathroom. She took a quick shower, and slipped into bed. She glanced at the clock 10:00 P.M. She had the same time schedule as Kenshin, so she was at work at 10:00 A.M till 9:00 P.M. She was only off during weekends. After quickly going over her mind what happened earlier, she fell asleep.
Ring. Ring. Ring
The sound of her phone ringing woke Kaoru up. She glanced at her clock, and saw it was only 5:00 A.M.
'Who the heck would be calling this early? Damn this is going to cut off some of my sleeping hours.'
She got up and answered her phone.
"Miss Kamiya, would you please come over work right now." It was Kenshin. He wasn't asking if she would come, instead he was ordering her to.
"But sir, it's only 5 we don't have work till 10." Kaoru tried to object to Kenshin's order knowing and feeling that she was still too tired.
"I would like to go ahead on work. If you wish to go back to bed, you can hand me your resignation later today then." He was really trying to make her work, and suffer. She would show him.
"No sir, I'll be right there. It might take me an hour. I don' believe there's a cab out yet this late, especially in my area." Kaoru was quickly rummaging through her closet looking for clothes, while still on the phone.
"Miss Kamiya I didn't call you to be here an hour later. I called you because I need you here now." Kenshin was really persistent. Kaoru was loosing her temper.
"Well sir if you wanted me there right now, you should have called me earlier or told me last night. Don't know you how far my place is from work."
"Well I'm sorry Miss Kamiya if I forgot to inform you earlier. Don't you live at the houses two blocks away from the inner city?"
"No sir, obviously you haven't read my information. If you did you would've seen that I live somewhere else." Kaoru was quickly dressed. She was now trying to tie her hair up, while balancing the phone between her ear and shoulder. She was getting frustrated because her hair would always end up at the side; so she decided to just leave it down. She now headed to wash her face and brush her teeth.
"You moved?" There was a hint of surprise in his voice.
"Yes sir, but I wouldn't want to go into whole detail about my life. It would just bore you." Kaoru added sarcastically.
"Yes. So tell me where you live. I can pick you up. We need really need to get ahead on work."
Kaoru told Kenshin of her address. She finished fixing herself 20 minutes later. She headed out the door, when she went out she saw Kenshin parking his car. Kaoru ran to the car, not wanting to make Kenshin wait, so that he would have no reason to get mad at her. She quickly got in the car, and they started driving away. They were sitting in silence. It was uncomfortable.
"So tell me why you live in that place now. Don't know you know that, that place is the most dangerous part of town." Kenshin broke the silence, Kaoru was glad she didn't have to start it for she was sure she was going to be saying something stupid; something about their past, which obviously Kenshin doesn't want to hear, then Kaoru would act the same way; discard their past.
"Well if you're so intent on knowing why; I moved there because that was the only place I could afford. And I do know that it's dangerous there, but I'm not scared. I can take care of myself."
"I know that. What happened with you're old house?" Kenshin asked. He was really curious on what happened.
"I had to sell it to pay for some debts." Kaoru glanced out the window, noticing that they were nearing the inner city.
"So did you ever get my letters?" The question was almost inaudible, but Kaoru heard it clearly. Kenshin didn't mean to voice it, or even whisper it.
"Letters, what letters?" Kaoru was surprised with his question, even more surprised that he sent her letters. "You sent me letters?"
"I sent you letters too. Did you ever receive them?"
"No? But I sent letters almost everyday." She didn't mean to tell him more about the letters, than she did last night. She was going over her mind; thinking that if he did received the letters she sent to him, he would be acting differently. She didn't mean to talk about the past again.
"Well it doesn't matter anymore. Those were in the past." It was cold to hear those words.
"Yes, it's true. The past"
They stopped talking.
They reached Himura Enterprise, a few minutes later. They entered the building, and Kaoru found out that they were the only people on the building.
"Tell me again why we're here so early…sir?" Kaoru asked, showing her irritation for the first time since she was woken up.
"We are here because we need to get ahead on the work." Kenshin headed to the staircase, leaving Kaoru behind.
"Sir, why are you going over there? Aren't you going to use the elevator?"
"Because I want to save energy for the company," Kenshin stated. "And for exercise" He ran a look over her body.
"Hey! I am not fat!"
"Did I say you were?"
With that they started to go climb up the stairs. By the time they reached he 4th floor Kaoru was already panting, while Kenshin didn't even break a sweat. Kaoru was thinking of how she was going to survive the last remaining 21 floors, she was going to die. Kenshin looked back at Kaoru, disregarding her disheveled look, and merely kept climbing the steps.
"Surely, sir, you don't expect us to climb this whole thing up until the 25th floor?" Kaoru asked, after finally catching her breath, by that time she was gripping the handle of the staircase like it was her life.
"Possibly," Kenshin replied. Kaoru, wide eyes, stared at him with shock and just suddenly stopped. "This is to show how much stamina you have Miss Kamiya, and how much you can endure."
"But this is ridiculous," Kaoru said, still disbelieving that they were to climb the whole building up. "By the time we get to the top it will already by 10 A.M., and I thought you wanted to get work done."
"But this is work Miss Kamiya," Kenshin said who still kept on, Kaoru struggled to keep up. "I mean work for your body, and when we reach my office you can start by filing the exports of the company, then that will be work for your brain. So you see you're getting paid, and with that come free exercise for your mind and body. By the looks of it, it's a perfect deal."
'You're just trying to kill me!' Kaoru thought, who was still struggling to keep up. She would show him.
Kenshin was smirking; of course he didn't plan on climbing the whole was up, only a crazy person would do that and he wasn't that crazy yet. He just wanted to show Kaoru struggle, but not quite the same struggle he endured.
Kenshin stopped dead. The whisper was very familiar; he knew it was from Kaoru. It wasn't the normal average whisper one would expect, but a plea. The last time he heard it, Kaoru stayed at the hospital for nearly a week. He looked back at Kaoru, and noticed that her hair had clung onto her face, and that it looked as if she had just taken a shower, when it was actually sweat. He expected her to be able to stand at least 7 floors, but they had not even reached the 6th floor yet, and already Kaoru looked ready to faint. He quickly rushed to her side, helping her up but then decided to carry her instead.
"I can't believe you can't even stand 5 floors, I thought you were stronger," Kenshin mumbled, quickly bringing her out and setting her down on a chair. He quickly gave her a glass of water from the nearest water fountain.
"Thank you," murmured Kaoru, drinking up all the water.
"Yeah no problem"
"Kenshin, I mean sir, please don't fire me, I promise I'll be able to stand it next time we climb up the stairs."
"Kaoru I'm not going to fire you because you can't climb up the freaking steps, but I didn't expect you to be stronger."
"It's not like before anymore, where I can brag to you about my strength, its different now. I don't particularly have the spare time to exercise anymore, or the money to buy the best of foods."
"Drop it. We should head on to the office now; I believe you are feeling better. Use your salary to buy good food, not some cheap vegetable you can get from a garbage bin."
With those words, Kenshin headed on the elevator, and Kaoru followed him who was starting to recover her normal color.
"I expect that you'll still be able to do the work that I assign to you, despite this little problem" Kenshin said while inside the elevator.
Kaoru just nodded, now trying to fix herself, for she didn't want to look disheveled when she started working, for it will just make her feel worse. The whole ride up the elevator was uncomfortable for Kaoru, who was still trying to compose herself. Kenshin seemed devoid of the tension in the elevator. Kaoru released a breath of relief once the elevator door opened, at least once she started working then she could completely forget about Kenshin.
"I believe you will find the files on the third drawer in the file room" Kenshin said, heading to his office.
Kaoru opened her mouth to say something but just closed it instead knowing that it was pointless to say anything at all.
'That brute,' Kaoru thought, turning on her heels heading to the file room. 'It's completely pointless to talk to him, why do I even bother? If he wants to act that way then fine!'
Kaoru opened the drawer she was supposed to find and her eyes flew open.
'What does he think I am a robot?' Kaoru thought, scanning the amount of work she has to do. 'This is going to take me until tomorrow to finish!'
She grabbed the folders one by one, and headed straight to work, determined to finish work by the end of the day.
Kenshin felt great with a little bit of remorse at the side. He felt bad for hurting Kaoru, but then again it was great that she was feeling a little bit of suffering. He knew that he was pushing her too hard, but it didn't matter to him, as long as he gets work done. He promised himself that he would leave his personal feelings behind once he gets to work; the staircase incident was an exemption.
He was already starting to get a headache and he's only been at work for an hour. It was irking him that Kaoru wasn't asking him for help. The files he assigned to her were the hardest ones to organize and sort out, yet he didn't hear one single complain from her. He needed coffee.
"Kaoru get me some coffee please."
Kenshin leaned at the side to get a look if Kaoru is doing his bidding, and surprisingly she is without complain etched on her face. Kenshin, then, continued on with his work; reading files after files making sure that they got the right amount of shipping in and out of the country without any mistakes. Kenshin was just staring at his screen, his mind completely off somewhere when he suddenly heard footsteps coming; he looked up and saw Kaoru coming with his steaming hot coffee.
"Thank you," Kenshin said as Kaoru placed the coffee down at his desk.
"Miss Kamiya," Kenshin blurted as Kaoru was walking away. "Have you started filing the Miyamoto files yet?"
"No sir, would you like me to bring it to you?"
"Yes and also the Shin file as well"
Kaoru just nodded. Once she reached her small desk full of folders, she scanned them until she found the files Kenshin was looking for. She handed them to Kenshin, and started to walk back but suddenly remembered that she wanted to ask him something.
"Sir, can I possibly get a day off tomorrow?"
"What for Miss Kamiya? You've only just began yesterday, and you're already asking for and off"
"I wouldn't ask if it wasn't an important matter…sir," Kaoru added sarcastically, she was quickly loosing her temper. She's been working really hard to finish all the filing he asked her to do, and on top of that she still has to finish filing other files that was supposed to be her job for today.
"Well then tell me this important thing you have to do?"
"It's my fathers death anniversary if you have to know" Kaoru said with sudden change of voice.
Kenshin was speechless; he never knew that tomorrow would be her father's death anniversary. He couldn't blame himself of course since he never got the letters from her.
"Well then if that's the case, then you can have tomorrow off"
"Thank you" Kaoru murmured.
"But I expect you to work harder the day after tomorrow," Kenshin added as Kaoru started to walk away. "After all you will miss tomorrows work."
Kaoru just nodded her head, and continued back working.
By the end of her work, Kaoru was exhausted, and she was ready to lie down in bed. At least she was getting tomorrow off. Tomorrow, her father's death anniversary and Kenshin's departure. The day Kenshin left was also the day her father died. Two years ago from tomorrow, she was pouring her heart out, half for the father she lost and the other half for Kenshin, the love that she lost. She knows that she can't ever get her father back, but at least she can try to befriend Kenshin again. She's not expecting anything back from Kenshin, most especially not love; no Kenshin's love would take a lifetime to retrieve. She was happy though, he is now all he can be and more. She may be sad that Kenshin doesn't love her anymore, like she does to him, but at least she doesn't feel guilty for locking him up from opportunities.
Kaoru was waiting outside for a cab, when she suddenly realized that she forgot her wallet inside the building. She quickly headed back inside, pushing the elevator button many times, hoping that it would hurry up. When she reached her desk, she didn't notice that Kenshin was still there; so when she saw a red light blinking on the phone, she picked it up thinking that someone was on the other line waiting to be put through.
She was about to say hello, when she suddenly heard Kenshin on the phone, talking to a girl. She didn't mean to eavesdrop but she couldn't help herself but to listen.
"Kenshin, I hope you're not overworking yourself," the girl on the line said. "You know that I worry about you, now that I'm not there with you."
"Don't worry, I'm not"
"Kenshin you know that I love you right?"
"Of course, you've told me a lot of times"
"Good, because I'm coming to visit you soon"
"Really? That's great"
Kaoru had heard enough so she quietly put the phone down, and headed out of the building.
'So Kenshin has a girlfriend,' Kaoru thought as she hailed a cab. The knowledge that Kenshin has someone else slowly broke her heart, piece by piece without her knowing it.
Kenshin placed the phone down, after his conversation with Tomoe. He met her while studying abroad; she was different from all the women that he met. She was demure, but once let loose she was a wild girl. She insisted that they go out, Kenshin obliged thinking that it will just be a one time fling; but no she was a clinger. Kenshin tried breaking up with her, but she found ways to avoid the break up. So now they were still 'officially' going out.
Kenshin sighed; with Tomoe around he would never get any peace.
'What would Kaoru think?'
'She'd probably be jealous,' Kenshin suddenly realized that having Tomoe around will not be such a pain in the ass.
Kenshin pressed the voicemail on his cell phone, and listened to it.
"Kenshin, its Sano, just wanted to tell you that Aoshi's inviting you to a dinner he's throwing with Misao. Hope you can come, everyone wants to see you again."
He looked at his calendar and checked if he was off on the day of the dinner party.
He wanted to find out where Kaoru's father was buried so he can pay his respect. Minutes later he found it.
Kaoru woke up the next day, feeling more alone that the last few years. She quickly got ready to visit her father's grave. Once she was done, she got out and hailed a cab. Her first stop was a flower shop, and then she headed to the graveyard. She traced her steps to her father; she found that she was the only one there. She cleaned the grave, and replaced the old flowers with some new one.
Despite her knowing, Kenshin was standing behind a tree hiding from her. When he glanced at her face, he saw emptiness and sadness. He decided to watch her, and then when she leaves that's when he would pay his respect.
Kaoru sighed. She sat down on the grass, and looked up at the sky.
"I guess it's just you and me again dad," she said, taking off the necklace that Kenshin left for her. "I really miss you, things have been hard but it's improving now. I got a new job, and guess who my boss is. I bet you already know who my boss is huh? Yeah, Kenshin's my boss, he's back. At least things are going well for him. He doesn't know that I missed him when he left, that I was there watching him before he left and that I cried when I knew he left. I promised myself that I wouldn't cry anymore, and I haven't I've gotten much stronger. I accept every little thing that God will send me."
Kenshin was quiet the whole time he was listening. He heard some revelations that he never knew. 'So she was there in the park."
He let her go on talking with her father, and minutes later she left. He went ahead and paid his respect to Mr. Kamiya, when he looked down on the grave, he saw the necklace with the key that Kaoru accidentally left. He picked it up and touched it; so many memories came from that necklace that he suddenly placed it down on the grave again.
'Kaoru will probably come back and get it.'
After paying his respect he left, and headed for the airport to pick up Tomoe.
Kaoru was waiting for a cab, when she suddenly felt her neck and realized that something was missing. She knew that she left the necklace on the grave, so she started running. It was the only reminder of Kenshin's love for her that she couldn't bear to loose it.
When she reached the grave, she scanned for the necklace and found it, but it wasn't the only thing that she found she saw that there was another bouquet of flower there. She looked around her and search for any trace of a person being there, but on the wind greeted her.
A/N: Thank you for reading. Sorry for the delay. Review.