Author's notes: Let's continue this story, shall we? Hope you enjoy!
No, that was not his name. Shinta was a sword. She remembered this man. Long red hair tied back, some loose locks framing violet eyes. This was Shinta's owner before he fell into Shishio's hands. She remembered Shinta's words when she wielded the sword against Shishio.
"I thought you were a little smarter than that. My previous owner, Kenshin Himura. He has found us."
Kenshin did not answer, secretly relishing the sound of his name on her lips. Instead, he nodded to Minerva and Yahiko to have their words with the newly awoken girl.
"My child, I'm glad to see you well." Minerva let out in a relieved voice. She did not need to fake the motherly concern and sincerity she felt for Kaoru as she held Kaoru's face in her hands and examined her. For some odd reason, Kaoru looked better rested than usual. Many times callings would happen while Kaoru slept deeply and her body responded ill to interrupted sleep. Perhaps the infamous manslayer was to be thanked for her recovery.
At the thought of the legendary government official, Minerva glanced somewhat nervously at the way Himura Kenshin stared at Kaoru. He was drinking her in, his violet eyes fixated on Kaoru's. The girl meant something to him, though Minerva was not sure herself to what extent. Kaoru was in his bed for starters. He also seemed genuinely pleased at Kaoru's revival as a small smile graced his handsome, ageless face. His tense shoulders, however, implied something was amiss.
Was he aware of Shishio's intentions? It would be good to have someone as powerful as the manslayer on their side. The old lady wrung her hands unintentionally, saving a mental note to speak to this official separately.
"How are you feeling Kaoru?" Yahiko asked softly, joining Minerva's side. Seemingly, almost losing Kaoru had drained his energy. Now, nothing but intense relief showed in his expressions. Kaoru remembered seeing Yahiko at the hospital ward. His presence brought her immense joy in her pain. She smiled weakly.
"I feel amazing. What happened?" Kaoru asked, knowing to look at the red haired man for answers. He stood leaning against his doorframe in a government suit. His red hair stood out in contrast to the dark blue. Kaoru's heart skipped a beat as mixed feelings made their way into her thoughts. Here was her only comfort during her time with Shishio. Here was the beautiful warrior and exceptional swordsman she admired. Here was her childhood friend and the source of the essence that called to her incessantly as she grew into womanhood. Kenshin's soul has forever been imprinted onto her and she wondered if he knew that. In a way, she felt complete being able to physically touch him. Was this obsession? Was this infatuation? Nostalgia? Love?
Minerva and Yahiko made way for the former manslayer as he took several steps closer to her. His boots should have clicked against the floor but the man was too damn light on his feet. Yahiko shivered. If not for seeing him, he would not know that Kenshin was there at all.
"I must speak with you Kaoru. You are acquainted with my sword." His violet eyes bore into her blue ones.
He was different from Shinta. Part of her mind cherished the idea that there was a part of him yet to explore.
"Yes." She said softly. Her throat would not quite work with her at the moment.
"Which is probably why Shishio worked so hard to acquire you. You are, for lack of better words, amazingly adept with it." He smirked.
Kaoru couldn't help but blush, for his words felt like the deepest of compliments. She gathered herself. What was she thinking? You fought in your night gown in front of him and ended up in his bed, changed and cleaned. What was she supposed to think?
Kenshin could feel his pulse race at her blush. What thoughts did he incur in the little one?
Suddenly, Kaoru put one hand to her chest.
"I… What can I do to help?"
Kenshin was taken aback. Here he was unsure of how to slowly introduce the idea of reliving her traumatic memories and she's already met him eighty percent of the way. A mere number of words and she's already made him feel more than he's ever felt for another woman.
"You have memories of Shishio that might have relevant information on his weakness."
Kaoru frowned, brows drawn together. Her mind worked to recall what she could. A weakness? That kind of information should be on the forefront of her mind, but nothing surfaced. "I don't remember much of my…time with Shishio."
Her slender fingers clutched at the sheets.
He sat on the bed by her side. His warmth filled her as he spoke gently.
"We have ways to help you remember. However, it will be very thorough and you will feel like you are reliving the scenes. Dr. Takani's spell is safe but you will feel everything down to the chill on your skin. Your medical records don't show a promising past."
Kaoru's body stilled as she considered his words. What were the chances her memories could contain such valuable information? Of course she would do it! But…
What were these tears?
Why was she shaking uncontrollably?
Get a hold of yourself, Kaoru! You're stronger than this.
Her hands found and clenched the thick blanket that covered her from the waist down and she fought to look up at Kenshin and let him know she would do it. But she couldn't. She wanted to rip her covers from her and march straight into whatever spell or whatever past she needed to.
Yahiko and Minerva were also silent as a tense stillness engulfed the room.
Kaoru would have to suffer again.
Seeing the struggle, Kenshin leaned forward and touched his forehead to hers.
The contact sent a wave of warmth down to her toes.
"If it helps," he whispered sweetly, "I am afraid for you. I do not wish this upon you Kaoru. Remember, it is your decision."
Kaoru nodded as resolutely as she could, her forehead still making contact with his.
He could feel her slightly shaking.
"Shinta…he was always with me, protecting me, keeping me company as a child. That I can remember. At the very least, I will find comfort in him both here and in my memories."
Kenshin's calloused hands caressed her check. He smiled. Never in a thousand years would he have imagined that his manslayer personality could serve as comfort – to a child no less.
Breathily he spoke, "I will inform Megumi to begin preparations. It will take a day at most. Till then, spend the day with me."
He wasn't sure where the request came from. All Kenshin knew was that he wanted her and he wanted her all to himself.
Kaoru nodded again, this time more steadily.
"I will take my leave for now. Spend as much time with your family as you need and I will send for you three at supper."
Kenshin made to stand up.
"Kenshin…" Kaoru said suddenly. And without hesitation her right hand found his long red hair. With a tug Kenshin was pulled into a kiss. Kenshin's hands clenched and unclenched for what seemed like an eternity. He let her take the lead, but part of him wanted to deepen the kiss.
It felt bittersweet to the both of them. On the brink of war and yet…
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