Okay, the last chapter.

This is where we discover why on earth the dolls actually have blood, and why Kenshin is bothering to kill them if he already did this whole shebang in the Bakumatsu and regretted it afterwards.

In other words, here is where I fit in the prologue that refused to be a prologue. :D

And here is your KxK fluff, at long last. -cue fangirl squee-

Disclaimer: I don't own RK, any of the characters, or barbie dolls. Dun sue me. :C

--

Chapter 5

:So this was death.

It felt like floating, he thought dimly, hyper-aware of everything around him.

He was jolted out of his hazy mindset when a booming voice echoed through the fog.:

-

He looked like a doll.

Kaoru considered the doll in her hands, the one that had been alive in some fashion until Tomoe's death. Now, whatever light had been in his fierce amber eyes was gone, the crackling aura of life that had surrounded him missing.

Her eyes narrowed at the challenge.

'I will make you live again.'

Life glimmered ever so faintly in his eyes at the silent vow.

-

:"Himura Kenshin, you, along with several other individuals, have been cursed for your sins in the Bakumatsu."

A sinking feeling filled his being as he awaited his punishment.:

-

Kaoru and 'her Kenshin' were inseparable during the following years. Everywhere that she went, the doll went with her, either held in her hand or sticking out of her bag or pocket.

She shared everything with him; he was her private friend, the one person she could confide everything in. He listened to her childhood troubles, and as she grew and her problems became more complicated, he gave silent advice and helped her sort out her thoughts. The voice she imagined him to have was soft and comforting but full of understanding and wisdom.

He solved her problems, and in turn, she solved his.

The loneliness she saw in his eyes during unguarded moments was heart-wrenching; she swore many times to cure him of that loneliness.

It was the little things she did that finally dispelled the darkness that seemed to enshroud him.

It was her smile every morning and her little touches during odd moments of the day, the way she clung to him in moments of fear or weakness.

Or maybe it was the goodnight kiss she planted on his forehead every night.

Whatever it was, he soon began to respond in kind, leaving things around the house for her on the rare occasions that he found himself alone.

It wasn't much; a ribbon on her bokken handle, a package of Swedish fish beside her bed.

But they were special things. They were the things few people knew she liked.

And so they healed each other.

-

:"You are hereby condemned to relive your life as a hitokiri in a form where you will not harm other human beings."

The sinking feeling turned into the beginnings of nausea as he recalled all of the people he had slain during his life.:

-

Kaoru could not count the times she had run out of the house to for an ice cream cone at her favorite shop, Kenshin in hand. It warmed her that he was always there for her, to keep her company when nobody else would.

He was there for her when she won her first kendo medal.

He was there for her when she had her first crush, and the subsequent heartbreaking.

He was there for her when she received the letter of acceptance for the college of her choice.

And, in turn, she was there for him when the pain of loss became too great.

She was there for him when the crushing weight of all the lives, whether human or no, caught up with him.

She was there for him when his eyes turned from hard amber to a liquid violet.

-

: "This curse will only be broken if a human causes you to shift mindsets from hitokiri to rurouni, as you managed to attain yourself through ten years of wandering."

Hope surged through him as he clung to the words.:

-

And then he disappeared.

-

: "You will remember none of this, nor any of your past life."

Suddenly he was falling, crashing through time and space and being squeezed into plastic confinements.

Somewhere in a factory, amber eyes snapped open.:


It felt like her heart had been shattered and then ground into tiny pieces before being thrown to the wind and scattered to the four corners of the earth.

It hurt. Oh, kami, it hurt.

They had been constant companions for eight years, and then he suddenly disappeared. At first she had assumed that her cousins Ayame and Suzume had gotten their hands on "Ken-nii" and were off pulling his hair out in another room.

But then they'd come to her asking for their Ken-nii.

And she knew something was wrong.

Her frantic searches were fruitless. Once she'd calmed enough to make flyers, she had spent days riding through town on her bike, tacking up notices anywhere she could.

She felt like a little girl looking for a lost puppy.

But she didn't care.

Kenshin was so precious to her; during the eight years she'd had with him, he had influenced her time and time again.

And she'd fallen in love with him.

There were times when she was disgusted with herself for falling for a mere doll, but then she looked at his swirling amber eyes with the hints of violet behind them...

And all reason for resisting was lost.

Those eyes were not the eyes of a 'mere doll'. They were the eyes of a tortured human, someone who had seen the uttermost depths of sorrow and survived multiple brushes with death.

She had helped him through those times when his life caught up with him, when she felt his tears on her shirt for the dolls' blood he had spilt.

She knew he had emotions, a personality, a heart.

Life.

And he had disappeared.

And that was what hurt.

That he should have human emotions, that he should be her very best friend, and then leave her...

It hurt.

Many nights passed before she could fall asleep without tears staining her face, and even then, the absence of tears was because she had none left.

She had no more tears to shed for her doll, her friend, her Kenshin.

And suddenly she didn't care.

He had left; obviously, he didn't want to be in her company any more. No amount of weeping would bring him back.

So she moved on.


She tried so hard to forget him.

Two years had passed by silently; she was halfway through college, earning a degree in teaching. There had been boyfriends, there had been college buddies, and there had been attempts at drowning herself in her studies, but nothing could erase him from her memory.

Nothing could block out the pain, the ache in her chest when she thought of him.

She had not returned home for vacations these past two years. Going home would mean seeing her room, the dilapidated popsicle stick dojo, the hair ribbons he had given her...

It would mean remembering. And if there was one thing she didn't want to do, it was remember.

But this year she had to return home; she had avoided it long enough.

These were the depressing thoughts that chased each other through her mind while she drove home, the road long and the sky dark.

It was time to lay her past to rest.


As she neared home, her tired eyes began to pick out familiar sights, landmarks connected with childhood memories.

In that field, she'd taken Kenshin kite flying. A hawk had ripped a gash in the fish-shaped kite, though.

On that rock, she'd stood with a hand over her eyes as she waited for her father to come home from his three-week road trip, Kenshin clutched tightly to her chest.

In that store, Kenshin had helped her find the perfect gift for Megumi as she left for medical school.

In that park, she'd almost lost Kenshin when a four year old picked him up while she was on the swings and couldn't hold on to him.

Her eyes watered at the memories. Each image from her past tore at her fractured heart and shot a dart of pain through her chest.

There would be no more opportunities to create memories.

That thought hurt more than memories themselves did.


Finally, she was home. Her parents had fawned over her the way they were expected to after not seeing her for two years, but she couldn't shake the melancholy that had settled over her during the trip down memory lane.

Her mother pressed an ice cream certificate into her hand and told her to get something to cheer herself up.

With a sigh, she snapped on her bicycle helmet and hopped onto her bike, slightly rusty from so many years with no use.

If the memories were going to come anyway, she might as well get them over with.

A hollow feeling welled up in her as she subconsciously reached behind her to secure Kenshin in her backpack, only to find no backpack and no Kenshin.

'Kenshin...'

Shaking her head wistfully, she pedaled towards the ice cream shop.

She blinked and stared at the building in front of her.

Had it... shrunk?

No...she just hadn't been here since she was small. Of course it would seem larger when you took up less space.

She shook her head slightly and walked through the door, the tinkle of bells so familiar and haunting. Eyes on the price list, she strode toward the counter to wait in line.

'The prices haven't changed too much,' she thought absently, already wondering if they would remember her special name for a blueberry-fudge two scoop.

"And one blue mud," the person in front of her said liltingly. Her eyes widened at the name. She was the only one who used that name...! She stared at the patron's back, and suddenly her blood ran cold.

There, half-stuck in his backpack, was Kenshin.

It could only be her Kenshin; his hair faded, just as she remembered, his eyes that bright liquid violet, the cross-shaped scratch on his cheek.

But something about him seemed... off.

She reached out a hand to touch him just as the patron in front of her turned around. Quickly retracting her hand, she glued her eyes to the floor, embarrassed.

"Kaoru..."

Her eyes widened. How had he known her name? Suddenly there was a blueberry-fudge two scoop ice cream under her nose. Slowly, tremulously, she lifted her gaze to his face.

Kind violet eyes, swirling with some unnamed emotion, met her questing glance, and she gasped as she took in the red hair that framed his face, the cross scar on his left cheek, the amber flecks hidden beneath the violet. Gently, he reached behind himself with his free hand and held the doll in front of her.

"I believe this is yours," he whispered, something akin to regret in his voice as he pressed the doll into her trembling hands.

It was him, the doll that had disappeared that night eight years ago... and yet it wasn't him. There was no light in his eyes, no life surrounding him.

Everything that she'd fallen in love with about him was gone.

But this man...

A determined gleam in her eyes, she raised her face to look at the man, still holding the 'blue mud' for her.

She searched his expression, reaching out her ki to feel for the aura she knew so well.

Her soul cried out in completion as the jagged edges of her torn heart began to knit themselves together again, his presence soothing her emotional wounds.

"Thank you," she choked, tears welling in her eyes as a genuine smile touched her lips, "Kenshin."

--

Glossary:

Bakumatsu – The war Kenshin fought in

Bokken – a wooden sword

Hitokiri – Manslayer, assassin

Rurouni – Wanderer

Kami – God, spirit, deity

Ki – A person's aura

AN: And that is the end of Doll's Blood.

A reviewer asked if there would be a sequel- the answer is maybe. I think it would be fun to follow the lives of the other dolls, like Saitou, and maybe have some dolls come back to haunt the happy couple.

Mwahahaa.

Thanks for all the reviews, support and general ego-boosting from all of you throughout this story! I promise to go back and fix approximately everything once I get back from my various summer camps. C:

Until my muse strikes again,

Jupe-san