This is another one of my 'was going to be a one-shot but it mutated-fics XD'
Soundtrack for this includes:
Lacuna Coil – Ghost Woman and the Hunter
Alanis Morisette – Head Over Feet
Enigma with Enya – Gravity of Love
Sarah Brightman – Deliver Me
Under the Gun – Sisters of Mercy especially in last few chapters.
Those are my Kenshin-Kaoru songs ;;
Kaoru had never been an ordinary child.
From an early age she had, had visions.
Of the future.
Of things to come.
Of things that would be.
Granted, her parents did their best to make her childhood a happy one. She did the usual things that children did – played dolls with Tomoe, had Enishi show her how to throw a punch. Played soccer and baseball, took art classes.
Just like a regular kid.
But then every once and a while a vision would pop into her head and come true with almost disturbing accuracy.
Nothing bad really happened so Kaoru didn't take them too seriously.
It was a game to her.
She and Tomoe even set up a fortune telling booth one summer using an old fish bowl as a crystal ball and draping sheets around Tomoe to mimic veils. Kaoru sat behind her and told her what to say to the people who came to hear their futures for a quarter. Tomoe had a misty voice that sounded ethereal and she made a very good fortune teller.
It lasted two weeks before their parents got suspicious about the tent on the lawn and the crowd of neighborhood kids that flocked to it, clutching quarters. They made them stop but not, before they managed to collect quite a bit of money which they split evenly between them and Enishi (who had painted signs advertising the whole thing).
Then one day out of out blue at breakfast.
"Someone is going to die today."
Everyone glanced up and peered at her around the boxes of cereal and kind of nodded distractedly.
Kaoru went back to eating her cereal and then she, Tomoe and Enishi went off to school.
The day passed quickly with nothing out of the ordinary happening. Tests, food fights in the cafeteria.
They came home, did their homework and settled down in front of the TV to watch afternoon cartoons.
After a while Tomoe began to murmur that she felt tired. She went off to bed early – which was a bit unusual for her and didn't poke her head outside the door for the rest of the night.
It was Kaoru who found her the next morning.
Tomoe was usually up first and woke Kaoru when she got up.
Not this day.
Kaoru jolted awake, a feeling of dread curling in her stomach. She got out of her bedroom and padded to Tomoe's instincts screaming that everything was wrong and something horrible had happened.
Tomoe looked just like she was sleeping.
It wasn't until Kaoru touched her that she felt how cold she was.
There was a gasping sound behind her and Kaoru whirled to see Enishi staring at her. As she watched his eyes turned flat, hard and angry and he began to wail. He flung her away from Tomoe and grabbed Tomoe's hand, holding it to his cheek and pleading for her to wake up.
The noise woke up their parents.
Kaoru watched as the look in their eyes turned to mirrors of Enishi's.
She had done this.
She had caused Tomoe to die.
"I hate you." Enishi spat, his eyes glittering. "I will never speak to you again. You are dead to me! Dead as Tomoe!"
He never said a word to her after that day.
As for Kaoru herself, she never uttered a sound from then on.
She sat mutely throughout the wake and funeral, tears coursing down her face, two rows behind her parents and Enishi.
And life in their home changed forever.
Enishi walked in frozen hatred around her. And though they said they didn't blame her, Kaoru often felt the looks her parents gave her when they thought she couldn't see them. The words they said when they thought she was out of earshot.
They blamed her.
Kaoru blamed herself.
Somehow by saying what was going to happen, Kaoru had made it so.
By acknowledging it – it had come true.
So while she still got bombarded with visions from time to time, Kaoru kept them to herself.
What she saw still came true, but to Kaoru it wasn't real.
See No Evil.
Speak No Evil.
Hear No Evil.
And that was what Kaoru had come to regard her visions as.
They had taken her sister from her.
And so by not hearing them or speaking them she lessened their power over her.
She took as many accelerated courses during high school as she could as well as classes at the community college and got a job the second she was a freshman. It kept her busy and out of the house.
Away from her parents.
Away from Enishi.
Kaoru graduated high school as sixteen and got a full-ride to a college on the East Coast.
As far away from her family as she could get without leaving the country.
There she majored in Art.
And she still never spoke.
Her teachers and classmates took her eccentricies in stride.
Artists were known to be a bit kooky and they considered her just another kooky artist. Whenever she felt like communicating she either used sign language or wrote what she wanted to say down. And they learned by looking at the colors that she painted what her mood was that day.
There was a little hole-in-the-wall café a few blocks from her dorms where Kaoru got a job as a waitress. The owner Larry was a middle-aged guy with a love of indie music and philosophy of all things.
Kaoru secretly suspected he hated that his college years were over and that was why he owned a café. Cafés were magnets for students who needed late night caffeine fixes and Larry kept it open to all hours, indie music blaring and always ready to hire the local band to come play.
Larry treated her like any other and accepted the fact that she refused to talk. He came to quickly understand the expressions she used and the way the quirk of her eyebrows meant that she was either laughing at a joke or turning inward and becoming depressed.
The regulars liked her as well. Once they realized that she wasn't talking by choice and could understand everything they said. Mute did not mean deaf and dumb as she demonstrated with a few carefully placed kicks and one or two accidentally dumped cups of coffee.
The first few fools who tried to talk to Larry, – especially after the first coffee spilling incident were quickly sent packing.
Larry took care of his girls and he considered Kaoru one of his girls.
And for the most part, Kaoru was happy.
Though the visions didn't go away and if anything got worse.
Instead they got stronger. Now, instead of just the knowledge that something was going to happen – Kaoru got actual pictures of what was to come. The good and the bad. The good sometimes had her smiling – a lost-puppy found by its young owner. The bad… well the bad sometimes kept her up at nights with the knowledge that she couldn't change anything.
And then one day he walked in.
Kaoru caught a flash of color at the corner of her eye and turned toward it.
The second her eyes locked on him a vision swamped her.
Golden sunlight filtered through the windows. It tinted the white walls of the room – her bedroom, she recognized it – and gave everything a soft glow.
Then the vision shifted.
Sheets tussled and rumbled on the bed. A spill of red hair across the covers. Heavy-lidded eyes a color she had never seen before. Somewhere between blue and purple – a violet with a thread of gold around the edge of the iris. A finely chiseled face that her fingers itched to draw. The mouth pulled into a content, satisfied smile.
The vision faded and Kaoru found herself staring at the one who had just occupied it.
Two things hit her then:
One it was her bed that she had seen him in.
Two, she had seen it in a vision which meant whether she liked it or not it would come true.
The urge to flee filled her and she whirled ducking away, hoping that whoever he was hadn't seen her.
Kaoru froze when she heard Larry's voice. She turned and gave him begging eyes.
'No. Don't make me go near him.' She pleaded silently.
"What's the matter?" Larry asked, catching the expression on her face.
Kaoru shook her head and bit her lip.
"What's wrong?" Larry's face creased in concern.
Kaoru slid her eyes over to the corner where he was seated and then back to Larry.
Larry followed her eyes and a flicker of anger crossed his face. "Did he do something to you?"
Kaoru shook her head. No, not yet. 'Not if I can help it.'
"Do you want to take the rest of the afternoon off?"
Kaoru gave him a grateful smile and hugged him tightly.
"You might as well go." Larry muttered under his breath good naturedly. "The only other place I could put you is in the kitchen."
Kaoru kissed his cheek.
"Go on," Larry rolled his eyes. "Scat girl."
Kaoru smiled and ducked her head and scurried off quickly.
Larry watched her go and then, watching the young man in the corner with a thoughtful expression.
Almost as if sensing he was being watched, he raised his head and for a moment their eyes met.
'What is it about you that has Kaoru so scared?' Larry thought.
Kaoru raced back to her apartment.
It was empty.
Misao was probably visiting her boyfriend.
Sometimes Kaoru wondered why Misao even stayed at their place. Though to be truthful she probably wouldn't be able to afford the apartment without Misao. And the thought of having to interview other potential roommates made her wince.
She paused at their (extremely bare) fridge and frowned as the most edible thing she saw appeared to be a one very shriveled pear.
When was the last time either of them had gone grocery shopping?
And Kaoru couldn't exactly order take-out. Being a self-imposed mute was not conductive to ordering food over the phone.
She sighed and closed the door, resolving to go shopping later.
They had a spare bedroom that Kaoru had turned into her studio. Misao hadn't objected though a third person would cut the rent cost down a good chunk. Kaoru didn't complain about Misao's playing the guitar at all hours and Misao didn't say anything about the pervading smell of oil paints in the apartment.
Funnily enough the most frequent gift either of them was given were scented candles. Which Kaoru discreetly threw away. She didn't want to chance something catching fire and her losing all of her paintings.
Her professor had been muttering about putting on a new student painting exhibit and when he had said, most of the people in the room turned to look at her.
Turning on her CD player Kaoru grabbed her sketchbook and began to doodle, needing to keep her hands busy and attempt to get her racing thoughts to slow down and give some semblance of order and balance.
She blinked when she finally noticed what she was drawing.
Or rather who.
Cursing she nearly made to rip the page out and tear it to pieces but then stopped.
How much of a chance did she actually have?
Zero that's what.
'It will be just my luck that he turns into some kind of asshole-pig.' Kaoru grumbled to herself. Though her visions weren't usually in the business of picking out prospective boyfriends/lovers for her.
As if sensing her thinking about them – they took another chance to bombard her quite insistently.
He was laughing as he flopped down on the grass. The picture he made with his hair spilling out across the lush green and the glint in his eyes made her heart twist.
"Come here," his voice was soft, slightly husky.
He reached out a hand toward her and Kaoru felt her grab her wrist and pull her down next to him.
Kaoru flipped the sketchpad shut violently and hurled it against the wall where it bounced off with a satisfying thunk.
'No!' She snapped at the visions. 'Don't use me as some sort of pawn!'
She didn't know what they wanted of her.
She didn't know what He wanted of her.
And that's what terrified her.
'You can't bully me into it,' she told them firmly.
She stalked out of her studio and left the apartment.
She might as well be productive if she was in a bad mood.
And after all there was almost no food in the fridge.
She almost expected to run into him at the grocery store and thankfully – as she thought of it – she did not.
No, she had to run into him in a place where she really, really did not want to run into him.
Kaoru's current class for art focused on portraits and realism.
To do that you needed a model.
To say the least Kaoru was not happy when she discovered the next morning who had been paired with her to be her model.
'Oh no!' She thought as the group of people that had volunteered to model for the course. One too-familiar redhead among them. 'No, no, no, no, no, no!'
Unfortunately the begging eyes didn't work near as well on the professor as they did on Larry.
Kaoru felt her stomach drop when the red-head turned in her direction and started working toward her.
"Hi," he sounded just like he had in her vision and Kaoru suppressed a shudder.
"Do you have a partner?"
Kaoru refused to look at him, staring at a spot in the wall just above his shoulder and past his ear.
"That's Kaoru," one of her classmates said oh-so-helpfully. Kaoru fought the urge to turn around and hit him. "She doesn't talk."
"Oh," redhead blinked. "I'm Kenshin."
She had a name to go with a face.
She sighed in defeat.
She suspected whatever the hell it was that sent her, her visions was laughing merrily at her.
And probably eating popcorn while doing it too.
She turned and inclined her head at him.
'I'm Kaoru. And no, it's not so nice to meet you. But I guess I'm stuck with you.' She thought.
Luckily for the first day they weren't doing anything much.
Kaoru thought that if they were drawing nudes she would have done something bad and a certain redhead would be on the floor bleeding.
He probably wouldn't know the exact reason for her attacking him… but that was his problem.
Easy stuff today – faces.
"How do you want me to look?" Kenshin asked.
Kaoru shrugged. She didn't care she wanted this class over and done with and then she could run as far and as fast away from him as she could.
Just because she accepted she was stuck with him didn't mean she couldn't fight it.
She only wished he wouldn't talk, it'd be a lot easier to ignore him and just pretend he was a living, breathing, statue she was supposed to sketch.
She glared at him as he fidgeted.
"Sorry," he said a bit sheepishly.
Kaoru snorted and concentrated on shading.
"So where you from?" Kenshin asked.
Kaoru just looked at him.
"Are you mute or do you just not want to talk?" His voice actually sounded concerned, Kaoru had heard that question in many different tones. Puzzled, confused, mocking… but never concerned.
Kaoru grabbed her notebook and scrawled a short sentence on it before thrusting it at him.
'I don't want to talk.'
"Oh," he blinked at the paper.
Dammit why did he have to have such an expressive face?
Kaoru cursed mentally. Everything thought or feeling he felt was clearly expressed in his eyes and face.
And dammit did he have to be so twitchy!
She growled softly and hit him with the sketchpad.
"Ouch!" He yelped. "What was that for?"
"Sorry… I just don't like sitting still."
Kaoru fought the urge to roll her eyes. Why the hell did he volunteer to be a model if he couldn't bloody sit still?
Several answers to that question popped into her head and she renewed her cursing.
Kenshin must have seen the look because his face flushed.
Kaoru's eyebrow rose.
"My roommate was supposed to do it but his girlfriend found out and objected so I got recruited by default."
She continued to glare at him and he ducked his head.
"I'll stop. Promise," he muttered.
Kaoru grit her teeth but he did prove true to his word.
She got several more sketches done before class ended and as soon as she was free to leave, beat it out of there.
She had work and immediately sighed.
What were the odds he'd turn up during her shift… again?
Very good as it turned out.
Larry looked at her questioningly when Kenshin walked in the door and Kaoru shook her head.
"Hello," Kenshin smiled when she approached him.
Kaoru shook her head and gestured toward the menu.
"Very little cream and sugar," he grinned. "I actually like the taste of coffee unlike some people…" he rolled his eyes. "My roommate's girlfriend has so much sugar in it, it should be illegal."
Kaoru suddenly had a very bad feeling she knew who he was talking about.
Whoever the hell came up with her visions and complicated her life with 'coincidences' was going to find his ass kicked when she got her hands on him.
She nodded, jotted it down and dashed back to the kitchen. It wasn't very busy in the café right now. She could just stay there as much as possible and wait for Kenshin to leave.
Kenshin's coffee was made and she delivered it, setting it down on the table and turning quickly to leave.
"Could I have a muffin?" Kenshin asked and she froze.
She tilted her head at him.
"Blueberry," Kenshin said correctly reading her look.
Kaoru nodded and went off to get it.
She set it down as gently as she could – fighting the urge to hurl it at him and run. Maybe Larry would be nice and actually allow her to stay in the kitchen for more than five minutes. She promised not to touch anything… there would be no repeat of last time which had included multiple fire extinguishers and lots of smoke…
"This place doesn't seem to busy at the moment," Kenshin noted. He looked at the muffin she had placed in front of him. "It's pretty big. Do you want to sit down and have some?"
Kaoru shook her head quickly.
No it is busy! It is! Look two more people just came over! Better go serve them!
But unfortunately Kenshin was right.
The café wasn't all that busy at the moment and with Carla and Lisa also on shift there wasn't much to do.
She caught his look and ground her teeth together.
'Fine… I'll sit with you and eat the damned muffin. You better leave a REALLY big tip!'
Kenshin hummed under his breath and sliced the muffin in half.
Kaoru gave a short nod and simmered silently as he proceeded to butter both halves before giving her, hers.
'I can butter my own muffin!'
His mouth quirked at the look she gave him.
"Sorry," he said.
Her eyes narrowed. 'And stop apologizing so much it's annoying.'
He ducked his head again, mouth curling into a smile.
She sighed and sank her teeth into the muffin and contented herself with mentally hurting him. Maybe if she continued acting like a standoffish bitch he'd get packing.
Nope, he seemed more amused by the glares she was giving him than anything else.
"You don't like me do you?"
Kaoru raised an eyebrow. 'Whatever gave you that impression?'
"What did I do?" He looked puzzled.
Kaoru just stared at him. 'Nothing… yet…'
"Do you have the sketchbook?" Kenshin asked.
Kaoru shook her head. 'Yes I do. But I'm not showing you. I never show my work-in-progresses to anyone.'
"You're lying," Kenshin commented.
Kaoru blinked at him. 'No I'm not.'
"Yes, you are." He grinned. "You bite your lip."
Kaoru glared. 'Do not.'
And then she realized she had done just what he had said she was doing.
'Why the hell doe she have to be so damn perceptive?'
She cocked her head at him. 'Why do you want to see it anyway?'
"I don't have an artistic bone in my body, or musical for that matter." Kenshin rolled his eyes. "I think that's why I like art and music so much. Because I cannot do it. And I'm really interested in seeing how you perceive me."
'Really, really annoying.' Kaoru grumbled.
Kenshin laughed softly.
Hitting him sounded really good right about now.
She jumped when she suddenly felt Larry's hand land on her shoulder.
"How are we doing?" He asked cheerfully.
"We're doing well," Kenshin blinked.
"That's nice." Larry smiled.
Kaoru touched his hand and raised her eyebrows. 'Do you need me to go back to work?'
Larry shook his head and there was a look in his eye that had her feeling uneasy.
"I'm Larry," he held out a hand toward Kenshin. "I own the café."
"Kenshin," Kenshin replied taking it.
"Are you enjoying everything? Do you need more coffee?"
"No," Kenshin shook his head. "I'm good thanks."
"So… what are you intentions toward Kaoru?" Larry asked.
Kenshin's eyebrows shot up and Kaoru made a faint strangled sound.
Oh no… he was going into protective-Father mode.
Kaoru wanted to sink into the seat and disappear.
"Honorable," Kenshin blinked several times. "Friends… friends?" He looked at Kaoru who blinked at him, still contemplating if there was a way to phase through the seat.
No help from her side.
"Good," Larry's smile had a nasty edge to it. "Because if you do anything to hurt her you won't like what happens to you."
Kenshin's eyes widened faintly, "noted."
"Wonderful," Larry squeezed Kaoru's shoulder, nodded at Kenshin and then walked away whistling.
Kaoru let her head hit the table with a satisfying thunk.
"Hey don't do that!" Kenshin told her as she began to beat her head against the table.
He grabbed her chin and lifted her head away from the table before she could bang it against the table once more.
Kaoru's eyes narrowed and she thought about biting him.
Kenshin pulled his hand away before she could give into the urge.
"So that's your boss?" Kenshin murmured. "He's… friendly…"
Kaoru snorted but smiled despite herself.
"Do you need to go back to work?" Kenshin asked. Kaoru glanced over to Larry who shrugged. No he wasn't eavesdropping, no of course not. What gave you that idea?
He had known her since she started college here and hadn't hand a single boyfriend. She had a feeling Larry was ready and willing to pay her to get a boyfriend and a day or two of missed work wouldn't matter to him.
She could always come back later when it was busier.
Larry made shooing motions and she rolled her eyes at him.
She turned back to Kenshin and nodded.
He smiled, "come on then."
Kaoru raised three fingers at Larry as she followed Kenshin out of the café.
I'll be back in three hours.
Or less…depending if she gave into her urge to hit him.
"So are you majoring only in Art?" Kenshin asked as they walked down the street, dodging the crowds of people.
Kaoru nodded and sidestepped some little kids.
"I'm double majoring in East Asian Languages and International Business." Kenshin grinned. "I'm going to be work as a translator when I graduate."
Kaoru rolled her eyes. So that explained who he got so perceptive.
"Did you have anything else to eat other than, that half of a muffin?"
Kaoru blinked and shook her head.
"Oh good then," Kenshin sounded pleased. "There's a small Japanese restaurant up the street that has really good yakisoba and green tea ice cream."
Kaoru twitched. It sounded a bit too much like a date for her liking… but if there was going to be green tea ice cream…
'Ok you asshole whoever you are. Stop LAUGHING at me!' Kaoru snarled the entity that found it amusing to mess with her life.
She was getting very good at sighing in defeat and followed Kenshin into the little restaurant.
Kenshin led her to a small booth at the back with an air that spoke of habit.
Kaoru's eyes narrowed. 'Does he do this to every girl?'
"I come here a lot." Kenshin explained.
"My last name is Japanese but I take after my mother in looks and my father died before I could really learn Japanese. I was raised by her relatives. I come here to talk with Mr. Satoshi and practice a bit."
They sat down in the booth a moment later a man who Kaoru figured was Mr. Satoshi came over.
"Kenshin!" He smiled.
"Hello," Kenshin replied an easy grin on his face.
"So you finally got yourself a girl."
Kaoru made a faint strangled sound and Kenshin turned a bit red.
"Friend… Kaoru this is Mr. Satoshi. Mr. Satoshi this is Kaoru."
"Nice to meet you," Mr. Satoshi beamed. "Be nice to him!"
He was like a happier less vindictive Larry.
What were the odds of the two of them knowing each other?
Was everyone and everything in league to get them together?
"What would you like?"
"Two orders of yakisoba," Kenshin's eyes flickered over to Kaoru, who nodded. "And two green tea ice creams."
"Ok then!" Mr. Satoshi grinned. He patted Kenshin on the shoulder and walked away.
For a second they just stared at one another.
"That… was… interesting…" Kenshin murmured.
Kaoru raised an eyebrow. 'Yeah…'
Their yakisoba arrived soon after and Kaoru concentrated on eating and let Kenshin talk. He mostly chatted about himself and asked her a few questions. She was glad he didn't ask about her family – her last letter from her mother had been three lines and six months ago.
She was as dead to them as Tomoe and even though it hurt, Kaoru had come to accept it.
"Are you going to be an artist when you graduate?" Kenshin asked.
Kaoru nodded around a mouthful of yakisoba.
"You sure I can't see your sketchbook?"
Kaoru narrowed her eyes at him.
"I'll take that as a 'no'," Kenshin grinned. "Someday?"
She rolled her eyes and shook her head in exasperation.
"Why are you so touchy about letting people see your stuff? Some of the kids pointed out a couple paintings you've done that are hanging in the student gallery. They're really good."
Kaoru bared her teeth at him. 'My stuff. MINE!'
And her sketchbook was hers. Hers alone. It was more… intimate. She had sketches of Tomoe and Enishi before Tomoe's death. Her parents… friends. It was part was more than a sketchbook to her. It was a reminder of what her life had been.
Kenshin held up both hands in a placating gesture. "Fine, I'll drop the subject."
Kaoru rolled her eyes. 'At least you learn fast.'
"A couple of my friends are going to see some friends of ours play at a local club." Kenshin said. "Do you want to come?"
Kaoru shook her head. 'I've had enough mini-dates with you for today.'
"Some other time?" Kenshin asked.
Kaoru nodded reluctantly. 'Let's humor the ever-hopeful-optimist.'
"There's a new exhibit at the art museum opening up next week." Kenshin said. "Or is it too cliché to take an artist to an art museum?"
Kaoru raised an eyebrow. 'Beats a loud club where people are getting high and drunk…'
And he was being thoughtful… 'Please DON'T be thoughtful!'
"Indie film?" Kenshin suggested.
"No Indie film," Kenshin amended. "Regular movies… what do you like to do?"
'Stay at home and read or doodle… but I don't think that's an option here.'
Because she was NOT letting him into her apartment if she could help it.
Kaoru sighed and raised a finger.
"First one?" Kenshin translated. "Art museum it is then."
Oh goody, Kaoru had an actual date…
'I can hear you!' Kaoru snapped at the entity who was currently laughing his ass off at her.
They finished the rest of their meal and Kenshin paid for it, despite her glaring at him and thinking dark thoughts about how she didn't need to be coddled.
"I brought you to the restaurant in the first place," Kenshin said, trying to mollify her.
Kaoru glared at him.
"We can split next time… deal?"
Kaoru frowned. 'How come I have the feeling I'll give money and you'll pocket it and pretend that I paid for it and then later I'll find my money in my purse…?' It sounded like something he'd do.
'I really wish I knew what you looked like so I could make several voodoo dolls of you.' Kaoru hissed at the person pulling the strings. 'And then I'd hurt them brutally and destroy them all slowly and each in a different more painful manner.'
Kenshin refused to let her go back to work by herself.
Kaoru had a feeling if she stayed around him, her face would be permanently set into a glare. 'I'm a big girl Kenshin. I can walk two whole blocks back to my work without you escorting me! Dammit who raised you to be a bloody gentleman!'
She stomped and huffed the entire way back with Kenshin walking beside her but just staying out of reach of her elbows, an amused expression on his face.
'Turn toward me so I have access to your kneecaps and shins,' Kaoru growled.
"See you later then," Kenshin held the door open for her and she stomped inside.
'At least he didn't attempt a bow.' Kaoru seethed.
She gave a reluctant half-wave and he grinned and then was gone.
"So…" Larry drawled behind her. "How did it go?"
Times like this Kaoru really wanted to scream.