Title: Passing Through
Kenshin/Kaoru, Raikoji Chizuru
Rated for an allusion to sex. (Why is it that all of my stories are so full of teh pr0nz? Seriously. I'm such a perv.) Some mentions of violence.
Notes: About four years ago, when I made the conscious decision to collect all of the Kenshin manga as it was published in the US, I read what was one of the pilots for Rurouni Kenshin. It was a short story about Kenshin and this chick he saves (like always--he's got a Messiah complex the size of California) that takes place approximately one year before the main story. It's cute, and it's very, very possible that the girl developed a crush on Kenshin by the end. That's where this little plot bunny sprang from, though I've morphed what probably had been intended as a passing, girlish crush into something a little creepy. In any case, this was written a loooong time ago, so please forgive any stupidity on my part. And as always, please remember to review!

If anyone were to ask Raikoji Chizuru when she had fallen in love with him, she would not be able to answer. Oh, she would have blushed a brilliant red and tried to cover it up with anger and smashing her palm into the inquirer's nose (and other facial protrusions), but it would all come to the same. She did not know when the mysterious rurouni had whisked her heart away.

She sighs as she remembers what she had told him, the secrets she had divulged, the fears she had shared. Then she blushes a little and then touches her cheeks with cool fingers to banish the redness. She can still hear the echoes of nights spent staring at the ceiling and willing the tears to fall and wanting them to fall even more when they refused because all she felt was a vague feeling of emptiness that felt a little like regret but a lot more like something else that she couldn't name. Of twisting and squirming in the sheets and reveling in the feel of even the littlest things—like sweat and biting her tongue and getting a bit of grit in her left eye—because they reminded her that she was still human, that she was still capable of feeling pain. It did not matter if it was physical. Pain was still pain, after all.

Until he came and said it was alright not to cry over her parents' deaths. Said it normal not to mourn people she had not known. She still marvels at how light she feels without the weight. I am human. And now that's all that the bitter memories are: they are echoes and they are faint enough to ignore and she feels wonderful.

Sometimes, deep at night, she feels another kind of pain—one that is filled with images of hard blue eyes and hard, brittle, bare speech that isn't pillowed with honorifics and 'this unworthy one.' This kind of longing is not right, not something she can feel and still look her grandfather in the eyes over breakfast and make small talk about the miso and what she wants to do today and how her lessons were progressing, not with images of hard eyes and harsh speech and golden skin flashing behind her own.

She remembers how dangerous he sounded, how world-weary after the ordeal and all she wanted to do was kiss away the pain. But he has walls and barriers and a hundred other things in place, ground in by tragedy and bastioned by 'this unworthy one', and these walls and barriers are things that she could not bring herself to cross, could not bring herself to tear away and bring their eyes and lips together.

She remembers how he carried her (all warmth and wiry muscle under that ridiculous pink gi). She wonders, now, guiltily, what his lips would feel like. And then her face burns.

She sees him again. She is gasping and panting and maybe her heart has stopped, but she can see him.

"I'm going to Tokyo to settle some business, Chizuru-chan. Would you like to come along?"

A sigh. "Well, why not? Sure, I'd like to come, Grandfather. It'll be nice to go somewhere."

"Very well. We'll be gone for a week. Be sure to pack enough." A page in a leather-bound book rustles.

A nose wrinkles. "Fine, fine. I'll find someone to do it. Try not to drown in the accounts in the meantime."

A barely concealed snort; a soft, childish giggle; feet fall lightly, spiritedly; and a door closes.

The market throbs with life and labor and the clink of coins and the shouts of wares, but her field of vision has narrowed and all she sees are fiery red strands and shadowed violet eyes, and it may be her imagination but she can even hear a prickle of his voice.

The breath whooshes back into her lungs and she is suddenly so full of feeling, her very skin is on fire, is bursting at the seams, is stretched too tight to contain everything she is. She suddenly has an absurd vision of her body swelling up like a rubber balloon and floating away while the passersby point and exclaim and stare. She banishes the wayward thought, and before she knows it, her feet are propelling her across the busy street and to his side. So she can bask in his eyes and maybe discover his secrets and hold them in her hands like milky pearls. So he can smile at her again and say her name in his soft voice and make he spine shiver all the way down.

But her heart is hammering away painfully in her chest and her blood is pounding in her ears and she frantically thinks of something to say, to do—anything—that would wipe the pain from his eyes and his voice and keep him with her. Grandfather will not object, she hopes. She hopes frantically, frantically.

She is very near him now, she can almost taste his presence, but her way is obstructed by a wave of school children and they are too tightly packed to push her way though. She is barely ten feet from him now, and all she hears is her blood roaring in her ears and all she can think of is if I call out then he'll turn and look at me—

Then she sees her. The woman.

She is small, in a kimono, wears her hair in a ribbon, and has stars in her eyes and in her smile there is promise of the world over. She holds up a small bottle of perfume and asks him something, and he smiles back at her and replies and she blushes and swats his arm but he catches her hands and holds her fingers and does not let go.

The schoolchildren are gone now. What her eyes see and what her heart has been murmuring do not reconcile and she calls out to him anyway because it was on the tip of her tongue and even though she wishes now that she could catch he words and gobble them up and never let them out again, she cannot stop her voice from ringing out.

A sharp intake of breath, a hardening of resolve. "Rurouni!"

Eyes widen, his body turns. "Chizuru-dono!" Surprise.

Geta fall on the ground; sleeves that have jasmine flowers embroidered on them brush the wood of the perfume stall. Curiosity. "Kenshin, who's this?"

She knows his name. She has the privilege to let it blossom in her throat and glide past her tongue and touch it with her teeth and caress it with her lips and let it fall and how could she?

A forced smile. "Well, who could have thought we'd run into each other here? Are you passing through?"

Oh, please let him be just passing though, oh please let her be nothing more than an acquaintance he cares little about, or please oh please oh please.

A soft chuckle. "Chizuru-dono and her grandfather were in a bit of trouble when she and this one met last, so this one lent a hand. This is Kamiya Kaoru-dono—" Hands still grasp each other.

Let him go, oh please, let him go. (You're still holding him. Tell me why.)

Words spill quickly. "Lovely to meet you, Kamiya-san. How wonderful it is to see Rurouni after so long! I really am grateful, you know, for saving my life."

I'm babbling and I know it, but I don't think I have what it takes to hear what she is to you and I won't use your name until you tell me what it is because I love you and I wont take it from someone else and why and how dare you?

"Oh, Kenshin." Eyes speak and she seems to say something to him, something utterly secret and intimate and knowing.

No, don't, because I want to be the one to look into his eyes and tell him secret things, oh I've been dreaming and I want so much for it to come true and you still haven't told me why your fingers are still entwined with his and why haven't you opened you stupid, stupid, beautiful mouth and told me why and how dare you know his name?

A slight release of breath and gentle smile. "So, Chizuru-dono, what brings you to Tokyo?"

Nothing brought me here but you are what I would stay for and why are you still holding her hand and can't you see that my hand is cold and you still haven't told me so tell me why and how dare you?

A small shrug. "Grandfather had some business. So, are you just passing through?"

I want to sob and cry and tear your stupid, ugly (beautiful, blessed) hair out and strangle you with your own hair ribbon and why?