Everytime I Fall
by Gemini523

Disclaimer: I do not own, nor claim ownership of ANY of these characters....one can dream....
(Inspired by the Cure song "Burn")

Two days before his marriage to Kaoru, Kenshin woke up screaming, his pillow soaked in tears and blood. Disoriented and amber eyed, he looked around wildly, trying to make sense of his surroundings. She was dead, wasn't she? He killed her, didn't he? There was blood on his hands…he had…

"Kenshin?" A soft, concerned voice called from the doorway. He blinked and looked up, recoiling in horror when he saw the same woman he had killed in his dream standing at the threshold of his room, holding a small lantern.
"You…you're not…" he whispered, unable to finish his sentence.

He didn't understand. She took a step forward and he scooted back, trying to get as far away from her as possible. She was dead, wasn't she?
"Kenshin? What's wrong?" She asked, her voice wavering. He shook his head, blood from the leaking wound on his face splattering onto his sleeping robe.

She lifted the lantern to see him better and gasped. His cross scar was bleeding. The sick knot of fear in her belly that had been there since she heard his scream, twisted when she saw that his eyes were also yellow.

Battousai? She stared at him, trying to read his features. He didn't look dangerous, just afraid. But she knew what he was capable of in this state, she knew how deadly he was.

She took a deep breath to calm herself and took another step forward. She would not back away from him, not when he needed her so badly. He shrunk back further, his back now against the wall. "I'm sorry…" he whispered. "Please…"
His plaintive, fearful tone of voice tore at her and she took another step and another until she was standing before him.

Slowly, carefully, she sat next to him, placing the lantern on the floor next to her. His golden eyes were wild and scared, staring at her as if she was a ghost or oni come to torment him.

"I'm sorry. It was an accident….I was trying to protect you…" He stumbled over his words, almost unable to form a coherent sentence.

Suddenly, Kaoru understood. Somehow, Kenshin thought she was Tomoe. Tears filled her eyes. He was still dreaming and she was Tomoe.

She steeled herself. He needed Tomoe now, he needed her to ease his fears, his guilt. Kaoru had never been a good actress, but she would be tonight.

"Anata," she whispered, pausing when she saw him tense. "I forgive you. Please, for my sake if not yours, forgive yourself and let me go."

Tears streamed down his face, mixing with the blood from his scars, forming pale pink splotches on his sleeping robe. "I'm so sorry…all I wanted was to protect you, your happiness and instead I took it away…"

Kaoru felt her own tears prick her eyes and she fought them back. "Oh…Kenshin…" she whispered and took him into her arms. He sobbed like a lost child, hugging her desperately. "I'm sorry, so sorry." He repeated over and over again.

"Shh…shh…beloved…I forgive you." She kissed the top of his head and raised her hand to stroke his hair comfortingly. His crying slowly abated and his hold on her loosened somewhat. "Thank you." He whispered into her shoulder.

She held him a little while longer, stroking and kissing his hair until he slept again. Gently, she laid him back onto his futon, noting with satisfaction that his scar had stopped bleeding. Quietly, she slipped from his room and went back into her own, feeling a strange ache in her heart.

The next morning, Kenshin awoke, feeling strangely relieved. The weight of guilt that normally accompanied him wherever he went was gone. His violet eyes widened as he saw his blood covered pillow and yukata. "What happened?" He asked himself, concerned. His hand raised and gingerly touched the rough x on his cheek and he started when he felt the crusted remainders of blood. The scar had bled?

He shook his head. Whatever he had dreamed, he felt fine now. Rising, he shed his yukata for his hakama and gi and took the robe and his linens to the laundry pile.

Kaoru was awake and fussing with Megumi over something in the kitchen when he walked in. "Good morning, sleepy head." Kaoru said, cheerfully. Megumi politely looked in another direction as Kaoru dropped a kiss on the unsuspecting Kenshin's mouth. Blushing slightly, he returned her greeting. "Good morning, how long did I sleep?"
"Hours! It's nearly noon." His fiancée said.

"Noon?!" Kenshin was surprised, he never slept this late.
"Yep. Now that you're up, you'd better make some lunch. Yahiko is grousing because I made breakfast and he says he's starving. Oh, and Sano's coming by later because he says you haven't picked up your outfit for the wedding and Tae's dropping off some of the stuff for the party tomorrow."

"I volunteered to make hamaguri ushiojitate for tomorrow so Kaoru and I are going shopping." Megumi said, taking the other girl's hand. "You must have had quite a dream, Ken-san, you've been looking so haggard lately, but today you look positively radiant."

"Maybe he's looking forward to tomorrow night!" Sano offered as he walked in, giving Kenshin a licentious wink.

"SANO!" Kaoru and Megumi shrieked at the same time. He chuckled and ducked their fists. "C'mon Kenshin, we need to make sure all that stuff we bought fits."

"But what about lunch?" Yahiko howled from the doorway. "I couldn't eat what the busu cooked and now I'm starving!"
"Why you…" Kaoru growled, pushing up the sleeves on her kimono.

"Maa..maa…Yahiko, we'll have lunch at the Akabeko." Kenshin said, raising his hands.

"Can we afford it?" Kaoru asked, worried.

"My treat." Megumi offered. "Think of it as your wedding present."

"Yeah!" Kaoru, Yahiko, Sano, Dr. Genzai, Ayame and Suzame cheered. Megumi rolled her eyes. "When did all these people show up?" She muttered. "Only when there's free food…"

"Come on you guys, if we don't leave now then we'll hit the lunch crowd and have to wait." Sano said, heading out the door. The others followed, chatting happily about the next day. Kenshin trailed a little behind, still trying to recall his dream from the night before.

"Kenshin?" Kaoru asked. He looked up and realized she had dropped back to walk with him. "Hai?" He asked. She took his hand and squeezed it. "I love you, you know."
He smiled. "I know."

Smiling, the two walked hand in hand towards the Akabeko.