Disclaimer: I don't own Rurouni Kenshin or any of its characters, they belong to Nobuhiro Watsuki!
It was hot in Megumi's clinic. Megumi felt a pearl of sweat travel down her forehead. Annoyed, she brushed it away. She had some trouble to focus on the man in front of her. After this patient she would close for the day she decided.
"Look da! The doctor has a lot of books!" The man's daughter pulled a book from a pile on Megumi's desk.
"Ah Mi-chan don't do that!" The books in the pile above fell down on the floor and the child shrieked. Megumi and the man got up from their seating. The man scolded his daughter and bowed, apologizing to the doctor.
"It's alright Taka-san. I will pick them up after our visit." Megumi sighed, sitting down again. " Now tell me, how long have you had this cough?" The man sat back down again.
The gentle knock on the slide door stopped Taka-san in the middle of a sentence.
"Just a minute Taka-san." Megumi got up and slid the door open. Outside Megumi's assistant bowed and explained that an urgent message had arrived.
"I will read it as soon as I am finished with my patient. Thank you Kagome-san." Megumi took the message and returned to her patient.
"This one knows not what you are talking about Sano." Kenshin moved away with his burden of clothes. Sano shook his head.
"Tell me what's going on."
Kenshin stopped and looked back at Sano, shaking his head.
Sano gruffed at that and walked into the dojo. If Kenshin wouldn't answer, he'd make Kaoru answer. Sano found Kaoru sitting in her chamber leaning against the wall.
"So there you are." Sano squatted in front of her. She looked completely washed out Sano thought.
"Why are you sitting like this?" He urged and swept away Kaoru's fringe to see her eyes.
"Go away Sano." Kaoru whimpered. Sano sat down in front of her.
"I want to be alone." She turned her head away.
"I don't believe you. "
Kaoru pushed herself up. "I don't want to talk to you." She mumbled and stumbled along the wall.
"Oi Jou-chan don't overdo it!" Sano tried to make Kaoru sit down again but she pushed free and wobbled into the corridor.
"Kaoru you are not well - there is no need for this." Sano anxiously tried to support Kaoru. "What really happened between you and Kenshin?"
At that, Kaoru stopped. Sano felt something stir in his stomach. The question had just tumbled out of him. Something foreboding lay over the scene when Kaoru turned her head.
"I'm dying Sano."
Sano blinked. He could only hear Kaoru's heavy breathing. She had looked him straight in the eye while saying it. There was no joke.
"Megumi will find a way to cure whatever it is you're having." He finally managed to say. Kaoru shook her head.
"Sano I can't be with Kenshin if I'm dead. " She looked down. A tear fell down Kaoru's cheek. "And I don't want him to get hurt."
"Kenshin knows?" Sano felt his head hurt.
Kaoru nodded. "And he is being his usual rurouni self, throwing himself in pain's way. I don't want him to." Kaoru swallowed and looked up at Sano. Sano didn't move.
"I shouldn't have told you." Kaoru winced and brought up her hands to her face.
Sano hushed. "If what you say is true…" He softly patted Kaoru's back.
"No! I have already decided Sano. " She pulled away. She rubbed her forehead.
"Oh no" Kaoru moaned looking down the corridor. "Kenshin"
Sano followed her look. There was no Kenshin there. Beside him Kaoru started to fall.
"Jou-chan!" Sano caught her in her arms.
"Snap out of it! Kaoru!" He jelled and felt her forehead. She was warm but not feverish. In any event she would be much better off lying down. Sano carried her into her chamber and pulled out her mattress, gently laying her down. He undid her high collar in an attempt to make her breathing easier. Sano gasped at the markings down her throat. He proceeded to tuck her in before hurrying off finding Kenshin.
"Kagome-san will you close up the clinic? I need to go over to Sumittu-sensei's clinic!" Megumi hurried out the door. The case doctor Sumitto had mentioned certainly seemed promising. It had some striking similarities.
She almost ran down the road so excited was she over perhaps finding a cure. Megumi soon saw Sumittu-sensei's clinic in front of her. Not thinking if he had a patient Megumi walked straight into his room.
Sumitto-sensei was an old American doctor. Because of that he had not many Japanese patients and Megumi did not know him that well. In fact she had only met him once and she didn't recall mentioning this illness to him.
"Ah, Megumi-san!"Luckily he had no patient with him. Megumi gave a slight bow and sat down at the chair the old man had gestured at.
"I'm sorry that I have barged in like this but I got your message." She explained.
Sumitto-sensei nodded and looked through a paper pile he had on his desk beside him.
"These are some drawings I had an artist make for me when I was treating this woman back in the states." He gave Megumi the illustrations. From just a quick look Megumi could tell it was the same.
"This looks exactly like the ones on my patient doctor." She said and nodded.
"I would have hoped it was not the same." The old man sighed. Megumi blinked.
"So you have no cure?"
"I have a treatment, not a cure." He turned and flipped among his books.
Kaoru woke feeling very tired. Not that it was unusual for her to wake tired. She had done so for the past weeks. It was still dark so why had she woken? Her mouth felt awfully dry. And her head hurt. Kaoru felt a bit dizzy too. She stirred.
"Kaoru." Kenshin leaned over her.
"Why…" She tried to water her mouth. Kenshin nodded.
"You need water."
Kaoru felt too tired to object as the rurouni walked off. She did not want him to leave even for bringing her water. She needn't worry though within a minute Kenshin was back with the water. He helped her sit up and drink. Her mouth felt much better now.
"You want to spare this one's feelings." The rurouni suddenly said.
"Sano told you." Kaoru stated.
"No." Kaoru wanted to see Kenshin's face as he spoke but the darkness covered everything.
"Kaoru is far too selfless. You are in deep pain and still your only concern is to spare a useless rurouni's feelings."
Kaoru couldn't find any words to respond.
"But Kaoru you don't realize. This one's feelings are already too deep. The love for you is too strong."
Kaoru felt tears in her eyes. It made her so happy and so sad to hear Kenshin's words. She cried for him. He was such a kind person who only deserved peace. And she had only brought him more pain.
"I don't want you to be in pain." Kaoru sobbed.
Kenshin gently pulled her into his arms and kissed her cheek.
"Then let us be happy." He stroke away Kaoru's hair from her face. His words held a finality which she couldn't reject. When his mouth met hers she didn't pull away. When his mouth left hers she breathed heavily.
"You need rest." He lay down with her in his arms on the mattress. Leaving all her thoughts of distancing herself Kaoru happily nudged closer. Listening to Kenshin's steady heart beats, her eyelids grew heavy and she fell asleep.
The following day felt strange. Sano seemed to have forgotten the scene in the corridor and was his normal obnoxious self. The dojo seemed itself and so did Yahiko. But everything was changed. Kaoru smiled at Kenshin who sheepishly smiled back. Sano gave the two of them a look and leaned backwards.
"It's nice to have things back to what they are supposed to be." He said and wolfed down more food.
"Whaddya mean Sano." Yahiko asked suspiciously.
"I mean if you don't guard your food I'll eat it." Sano grabbed some of the steamed cabbage from Yahiko's plate.
"Hey give that back!" Yahiko glared.
Kaoru and Kenshin laughed.
"There's a package for you ugly!" Yahiko jelled and tossed a brown package into Kaoru's lap where she was sitting on the porch. Yahiko had sort of become the post boy. Kaoru believed Kenshin had had a talk with the boy to ease the burden on herself. She would have gotten upset if she hadn't known that both Kenshin and Sano knew of everything. As it were there wasn't much she could do about it anyway. She might just as well take the rest they were handing her.
She turned the package in her hands. Recognizing Megumi's handwriting she quickly opened it. Inside there were two glass bottles filled with a greenish liquid. Underneath there was a letter. She put the bottles aside and opened the envelope. There were two notes inside, one had Kenshin's name neatly written on top of it. The other note was addressed to Kaoru. She folded the note open.
Take a spoon every morning. It should do the trick.
I also order you to rest.
Take the other letter to Kenshin. Do not read it.
As always contact me if you turn worse.
Kaoru looked at the bottles. Her hand trembling she put them back in the box. Megumi had found the cure. How odd it felt. She would get well again. Kaoru could hardly believe it. She looked at the letter addressed to Kenshin, wondering what it contained. If Kenshin hadn't known, if they hadn't talked, Kaoru would have hid it. Or better yet destroy it. But now she would give it to Kenshin. She giggled before she could stop herself. She would live!
Kenshin ripped the letter in pieces. Kaoru was outside he knew. Hiding the scraps in his sleeves he took a deep breath before exiting his chamber. Kaoru put her hand in his and smiled happily. He answered her smile.
"Isn't it amazing?" She beamed.
"It is. Megumi is a skillful doctor." Kenshin replied. Kaoru nestled closer.
"What should we make for dinner?" She asked and looked up at Kenshin.
"Perhaps we should ask Yahiko what he would want." The rurouni suggested.
"He'd want to eat at Akabeko's."
"Then why don't we. We do have something to celebrate." Kenshin smiled.
"You're right. Let's eat at Akabeko's"
Together they walked in search for Yahiko.
I'm very ashamed that I haven't updated for a year! The time really do fly by! I started Uni this fall so that's why I haven't been able to finish the last chapter until now. (And as soon as I got leave I written this)
Thank you all for reading this and I hope it was worth the time!