Shades of Reality

Chapter 1: Average

Disclaimer: I don't own Rurouni Kenshin. That is the property of Nobuhiro Watsuki, and various other entities, and I profit from this is now way, shape or form. It's just entertainment, and a time waster. Get over it. Or small references to the book, I Am the Messenger, by Markus Zusak.

- - - - -

Kaoru watched people. Not in a sick or perverted way, she just simply spent much of her time taking in those around her. The mass of humanity that we swim in everyday, and yet never really take the time to fully contemplate.

Besides, what much else is there to do? Not many people cared to talk to her. But she didn't really care.

She watched the daily lunchtime parade of her high school pass in front of her face, unseen by her subjects. She had a tendency to not draw attention towards herself. She slowly gummed her sandwich with a dry mouth. The goths and preps, the emos and geeks, they all slowly walked past, intent on little other than each other and the less than appetizing smells emanating from the kitchen. Sex and drugs, fights and cars, grades and teachers, small dramas and those of the larger variety, and the occasional act of kindness. Nose piercings, straightened hair, tattoos. The dropped dollar picked up by another, the untied shoelace, backpacks, pins, jackets. Little went unnoticed by the black haired girl.

It's mind boggling, if you really take the time to think about it. Every single one of those people is another human as involved in life as you, with their own friends, families, experiences, memories, homes. Another world entirely, filled with people you may never know, all with their own worlds, all overlapping in some small way with your own as they pass you in the lunch line. There truly is an astounding amount of people on this earth, she had noted at one time. She was quite correct. A complexity of lives that would only serve to confuse you if one cared to think about it too long. However, it was a never ending source of entertainment and an attempt at self-improvement with which she tried. After all, someone had to bare witness to the million different small, yet important, things that went on every day.

Kaoru turned to the boy next to her, her comrade in taking in the daily stampede. In many things. A curtain of crimson hair shielded his face, but she knew he was avoiding her gaze. Not that it was anything new. He always did. She knew all too well the look of adoration he gave her whenever he thought she wasn't looking. But, then, he wasn't the only one with long hair.

She returned to watching the people.

- - - - -


He looked up from his own lunch. She noticed it was PB & J. The boy met her eyes for a brief second, then looked away.

"Yes, Miss Kaoru?"

The girl glared at him. "I've told you a million times, don't call me that. It makes me sound old. We are almost the same age, after all."

The boy looked sheepishly at his sandwich. "I'm sorry, M-. I'm sorry."

She cringed. Then whacked him with her biology textbook. "Don't apologize. You have nothing to be sorry for." She had forgotten what she was going to ask him.

A smile appeared on his features. His only reply, a grin behind shielded eyes. The boy scratched the back of his neck in what he obviously hoped was a clueless gesture.

She crawled into his lap, wrapped her arms around his neck, the buzzing lunchroom temporarily forgotten. "Why do you feel you're so worthless?" Kaoru whispered in Kenshin's ear. He nuzzled her neck, speechless.

Returning to reality, she dumped her empty sack in the garbage and collected her backpack, Kenshin following her movements half a step behind, as always. She could feel his gaze on the back of her head.

Another average lunch. Another average day. Another average chapter in her average life.

- - - - -

Kaoru Kamiya. Nice to meet 'ya. I am the epitome of average-ness, as you may have already gathered. My motto is, "When brains fail, at least kicking whatever is that may be annoying you at least makes you feel justified in your anger, and give you a nice excuse to swear."

Everything about me is utterly unremarkable. I do not resent this fact. I'm not even reluctantly resigned to it. Sometimes it's nice to be able to simply disappear in a crowd. No one pays attention, so why should I spend more than what I need to make myself feel good on clothes? Spend more than 20 minutes on my hair during a boring morning? It certainly cuts down on grooming time. Which is not to say that I'm a slob. I just don't straighten my hair with a clothes iron for ½ an hour, before putting it up no less.

I am completely in love with a man who doesn't feel like he deserves to even meet my eyes. If I asked him to lick my feet he probably would say that his tongue is unworthy. Not that I would, but you know. I can't remember the last time I touched him and he didn't cringe.

You're probably remarking that I'm lucky to have someone that thinks so much of me. But I don't have him. And while I have my suspicions as to how he got this way, doesn't mean I totally get it. If anything, I feel unworthy of him. He is too good for this world.

Selfless. Kind. Devoted. Smart. Funny.

All added to the fact that he is the most beautiful person I have ever witnessed. A different beauty than the airbrushed models in the fashion magazines, or the angelic perfection of old paintings. While clichéd, it is an inner beauty that makes what would ordinarily be an unremarkable scrawny guy something much more.

And while you may be slightly repulsed by my blathering, I can't help but love him. And yet, he will never return my feelings. Because he is so repulsed with himself that he feels someone like him can never truly love anyone.

A hopeless case, like so many others. Absorbed in my own drama. Just like everyone else on this godforsaken planet.

I'm not rich. I'm not poor. My skin's not deathly pale, or tan, and my hair is an average shade of black. Eyes a watery blue. I dress in jeans and t-shirts, a sweatshirt when it gets cooler.

I have a few friends.

I don't play sports with school. I get only average grades. I don't cut myself, (unless it's on accident. Me and anything kitchen-related don't tend to mix well.), and I don't wear black, with the exception of my Vash night-shirt.

Starting to see the pattern?

- - - - -

The girl returns to her house, his house as well. He has lived there for quite some time.

The house is empty as usual, save for the pair of teenagers. The boy cooks dinner, much to the protests of the girl, and she resignedly trudges to the counter on the outskirts of the kitchen, puzzling out her geometry homework under his watchful eye.

Another average night.

- - - - -

A/N: Okie Dokie! Wowie kazowie! My first real Rurouni Kenshin fic. Wowzers. I have it all finished, and so it all falls on you good little reviewers to make sure I update on time. Question? Comment? Complaint? Compliment? Press the pretty lavender button. See! It's even a lighter shade than Kenshin's eyes! You know you want to.

And I will get back to work on Eden Awry. It's just hard going back to it after so much time off. Life got downright hellish (Eg: Barely slept for two weeks, failing projects, grades slipping busy) for awhile, but that's over and I've just procured a laptop, so I'm going to have a lot more time to write now.

If you're still reading, I'll tell you a bit about this fics birth. I had a bunch of ideas, the scene where Kaoru meets Kenshin, and the main theme of this fic, a battousai-less Kenshin. But don't let that mean that he's bland. You'll find out he's just as tortured as the untampered-with rurouni. This may put some readers off, I realize this. Please just give it a chance. Even you must realize that many writers go to quite extreme lengths to give poor Kenshin an excuse to run around whacking people with a sword in the modern day. This is meant more as a character exercise than anything. It's loosely based on my favorite book, I Am the Messenger, by Markus Zusak. Very loosely. I was originally going to do a full version with people for every card etc. etc, (Can't you see Sano as Richie- and the horrid tattoo he got when he was drunk? The obvious similarities between Kenshin and Audrey?) but decided against it, as if it got too long I would probably never finish it. And, I like the book too much to defile it with my horrid writing.

And yes, the fragment sentences are intentional. As are the brief diversions from reality and the style of imagery. A parody of Zusak's writing style. If your familiar to him, you'll also catch other small references throughout.

And, I solemnly swear, not all my author's notes will be this long. For real.