A/N: I've never written a fic from a character's POV before, so please review to let me know how you think I did.
Disclaimer: I do not own Rurouni Kenshin
Terms you may not be familiar with:
Futon: traditional style of Japanese bedding consisting of padded mattresses which is folded and put away in the morning
Sakabatou: Kenshin's reverse-blade sword
Shoji: paper-like Japanese sliding door
I clutch my sakabatou violently as yet another frightening scream rings though the air. Beads of sweat speed along the length of my jaw furiously as I take another deep breath to calm myself.
After over twenty years of perfecting my swordsmanship skills, and over ten years of swearing to protect others around me, for once my skills render useless. Perhaps the Hiten-Mitsurugi isn't all-purpose after all, and I cannot as much as lift a finger to protect the one I love the most. I cannot protect Kaoru, my Kaoru.
It is not customary for men to be inside the birthing room until after the delivery, except of course if he is the doctor. Nevertheless, I could not pull myself away from her side, not when she was like this. The pleas of Dr. Genzai, Miss Megumi and their assistants meant nothing to me. I didn't care what they thought, I cared only about my wife, and I had to stay. But then she spoke to me, my Kaoru. She insisted that I listen to them, because they are the professionals. So I made her promise to be strong for me, and then I kissed forehead before I reluctantly left her in their care.
It is hard to walk away from her, just as hard as it was two years ago when I left to fight Makoto Shishio. And being unable to bring myself further than two feet away from the room, I presently settle for sitting on the porch steps just outside the drawn shoji.
But her screams cannot be contained, and it takes all the strength in my body to remain in my place every time I hear her cry.
I fear birthings that I most certainly do. During my years as a wanderer, I have witnessed cases where women had lost their lives in childbirth, leaving trails of blood and screaming children behind them.
I shudder at the thought. If Kaoru dies, if I lose her, it would be my own fault. I was the one that had taken this innocent woman to bed, and made her mine and now I am responsible for being the father of her child. Though I would wander for a hundred years before allowing another man to hold claim to Kaoru, I can't help but feel guilty for doing this to her.
I have brought so much pain, and there is nothing I can do to soothe it, nothing at all. Her screams are agony to me.
I didn't exactly want a child, I was perfectly content with my Kauro, she is far more than a murderer deserves to have, even if he murders no more. My life had been one of blood and pain from the beginning, but she brings me all the happiness I could ever ask for.
Being born as a slave child in the middle of a bloody revolution had shown me the cruelty of life at a young age. After losing my parents to illness, and my guardians thereafter to murder, I became withdrawn and solemn. The happiness and innocence I should have known in those years, had been clouded by violence, and I had accepted it as the only way to live. But now, now I've come to know peace in its purest form, a peace that was presently being threatened.
Kaoru's pregnancy has been a rough one, rougher than we had anticipated, and it burdens me with a guilt I struggle to look past. She is only 19, and only recently wedded to me. Giving her a child was at the bottom of my list of things to do to her, if it had been there any at all.
When she'd been ill nine months ago, I told myself it was just a common sickness that would soon pass. But somehow, I could not help but worry that it had been because she was with child. I have relived that night, almost every day since then; it haunts me.
That fateful night.
I had had perhaps too much sake, but I thought nothing of it. I was a simple swordsman of the peaceful Meiji era, I had a wife, a home, what could have possibly gone wrong, if I let go a little. I wasn't drunk, I remember that clearly, and neither was she, but my judgment was less than it should have been, and so was hers.
I remember thrusting her against the wall in the hallway, covering her lips with mine. We took the liberty since Yahiko was away; it meant we didn't have to be confined to our bedroom. Unable to contain myself, I took her there and then. But I do not remember releasing within her; I would never have done that, not on one of her unsafe days, which I knew like the back of my hand.
So I restrained myself, I remember spilling on the floor, but perhaps I was a second too late, the sake had without a doubt clouded my precision.I also remember the mornings that followed; it became a routine for her to empty the contents of her stomach before doing anything else. At that point I knew what had happened, but I kept it from her, I didn't want to believe it myself.
I was not prepared for a child, and she, she was still 19, she could not have been prepared either, or so I had thought. After a visit to Megumi one afternoon, she'd come home to announce the news that she was carrying my child, which was news I had known for weeks. She was happy, so for her sake, I was too, her happiness is my happiness. But in truth, I did not want this to happen.
It had been perfect with only the two of us. I enjoy her presence, her love, her body, and I try only to make her happy. A child would only burden her, and she was too innocent to see it. Furthermore, it was in a moment of miscalculation that I had created this child, it was unplanned, and now I am faced with fatherhood, something I am completely oblivious to. Something I hadn't the slightest idea how to do.
Nevertheless, I will do my best, for my Kaoru and my child.
Again, I jolt slightly as she releases another deafening scream, pulling me out of my thoughts. My mind fills with worry as I imagine her slender fingers clutching the sheets and her creamy legs spread apart as they have on so many nights. Except that now instead of bringing her pleasure, my actions have brought great pain.
Kaoru may be a strong swords-woman, but nevertheless she is a small swords-woman, small and frail; delicate. Can she really pass a child out of her womb? Will she make it?
I inhale deeply, as I try my best to pull myself together, I mustn't worry like this. Kauro is strong. She'll be fine, she will.
I close my eyes, as I decrease the pressure of my hand against my sakabatou and I try to relax, but again I fail.
"Kenshin" a voice calls.
I jump to my feet in an instant, reclaiming my grip on the hilt of my sword in the process. Then, my brain registers the voice and I release a sigh of relief.
"Sanosuke..." I say.
For some reason, my companion had left his post at the outer gate, where he and Yahiko thought they would be a safe distance from the sharper end of Kaoru's cries.
"Take it easy Kenshin" he says, as though he were giving the time of day. "Calm down before you give yourself a heart attack."
The young fighter means no harm, but his words irritate me somewhat. He doesn't understand. No one understands the fear, the guilt I feel. No one. Nevertheless, I answer him calmly.
"I'm sorry Sano, I..."
"ARRRRRRRRRRRRRR RRRRRRRRRRRRRRR RRRRRRRRGH. NO NO NO NO!"
I'm cut off by the release of yet another of Kaoru's vicious screams. I wince as the manifestation of her agony rings through the air once again, and the pain in my hand tells me I've been gripping my sword too hard.
"It's not good for you to stay here." Sano quickly responds, as her scream dies into a whimper.
"The missy can get pretty loud." he chuckles awkwardly.
I feel my face form a scowl and I'm almost sure my eyes flash amber as my annoyance peaks into anger. How dare he.
He obviously senses that he's gone too far, so he continues "What I'm trying to say is, this type of stuff is natural for women Kenshin, she's perfectly fine, you'll only worry yourself when you sit around here. I know it doesn't sound like it, but everything will be fine. After all, the missy's pretty strong, especially for a girl her size."
At these words, my expression softens. He meant no harm by what he said, but it doesn't mean I need him here now.
I want to face this on my own. I need to. I do not deserve such consolations after what I have done.
"I supposed you're right Sanosuke," I say to him "but I'm the one that caused Kaoru to be in this condition, she would not have been in such pain if it was not for me, I can't bring myself to leave, that I most certainly can't."
My words are simple but true, and they achieve what I want them to. He nods kindly before leaving me be, and I thank him before I return to the position he'd found me in.
Then it happens again, another piercing cry escapes her soft lips to torment me, and the smell of blood reaches my nostrils.
"She's crowning, doctor." one of the voices within say, amidst the others telling her to 'push'.
I sigh. Be strong my love, it will end soon.
I close my eyes as I resort to deep meditation in order to zone out the screams which keep me constantly on edge. It is the only course of action that will prevent me from thrusting my sakabatou through my chest for what I've done to my love.
I center my mind on feeling out Kaoru's ki and focus on it as I sit cross-legged on the porch. I noticed that a few minutes ago her ki felt as though it had grown impatient, agitated and painfully frustrated.
But now it feels more relaxed as though it was experiencing some kind of breakthrough. And then it happens, a new ki appears, and the shrill, high-pitched cry that accompanies it, shatters my meditation completely as I register what has happened. The child!
I fling my body from its position as I face the direction of the small cries. My heart thumps within my chest like a thousand drums as I steadily close the distance between myself and the shoji, and many seconds pass before I begin to rap loudly on it.
"Who's there?" a feminine voice within questions; Miss Megumi's voice without a doubt.
"Miss Megumi, is everything alright?" I enquire.
A few seconds pass, before the shoji opens and the first thing I see is the smiling, tired face of Dr. Genzai.
"Oh, it's you Mr. Himura, come in." he tells me.
I step inside in time to see half a dozen nurses working quickly around the small room, carrying water, towels, and all sorts of medical items.
My eyes travel to the futon in the corner, and then to the figure which lays propped up on with a back against the wall. Kaoru. She looks over at me and smiles at weakly, holding a small bundle to her breast.
"Kenshin" she breathes. My heart skips a beat, as it always does when she calls me like that, and momentarily, I freeze, unable to tear my eyes away from her.
She looks smaller than she has in months and also very tired, but there is a sense of peace about her, the kind of peace which is always present after a storm. I watch as a nurse, gently pulls a stained sheet from beneath her.
Blood. There is so much blood, and because of me, again. The blood of men that I have killed stains my hands to this day, and now her blood... would I ever escape the guilt of this red tormentor.
"Come, let's give them some time alone." the old doctor says, bringing me back to reality. "Kaoru we will be back to check up on you in ten minutes, as for you Mr. Himura, you can now get acquainted with your little one." he says to me.
I bow politely, "Thank you, all of you."
"It was our privilege Sir Ken" Megumi says before they all rush out.
I hear the shoji slide shut behind them, and as if on cue, I move to my beloved's side.
Kneeling beside her, I push her midnight bangs out of her eyes, as I plant as kiss on her forehead.
"Forgive me, Kaoru" I plead.
Her smile fades, "Why would you say that Kenshin?"
"I've caused you so much pain, so much bleeding… I... I can never be worthy of your love."
"Kenshin, you mustn't say such things, you have brought me so much happiness, more than I can ever ask for." she says gently.
I can never understand her logic, the way she views me, how easily she accepts me, why she loves me, it will always be beyond me.
"Look Kenshin." she tells me.
I obediently follow her eyes to the bundle in her arms; I'd forgotten about the child, I had been too consumed with my guilt.
My eyes behold the infant at last, and immediately my heart melts. All guilt is forgotten as I behold the beauty of what we have created, it is a part of us, it came from us; a product of our love. Beautiful.
The tiny infant had fallen asleep in her arms. And I wonder how a person could be so small, so beautiful, so delicate, and so vulnerable. It was then that I realized my true duty. I must protect it at all costs, as much as I would Kaoru; they were both equally important to me.
Slowly and gently, the small person opens its eyes. Blue eyes; Kaoru's eyes, I am unable to look away.
"Do you want to hold him?" Kaoru asks, waking me from my reverie.
'Him' my heart skips a beat. I had been so caught up in the pure beauty and amazement of the small child that I had forgotten to question its sex, the sex of my own child.
"Him" I ask again, audibly this time.
Kaoru catches my surprise and pleasure, "Yes Kenshin" she giggles, "I've delivered a son. Your son"
"Yes, my son." I barely manage to say; has this woman any idea how much joy she has brought me?
She carefully places him into my arms, and my heart swells with pride. To think that this small perfect person is to call me father, I am struck with pure awe.
He is beautiful, utterly beautiful. I had never imagined a child could bring any person such happiness, I for one, could not remember bringing anyone such happiness when I was a child.
I had worried in vain that his entrance into the world would take my peace away, but instead, he has added to my peace. I now have another to love, another to also call my own, our own.
I observe him more closely. His head of russet curls is clearly from me, but his eyes, they are definitely Kaoru's.
"His eyes" I say to her, "his eyes are from you."
"Yes, but he definitely has your head of hair, Kenshin."
"That he does." I exhale deeply. "He's beautiful, Kaoru."
"He most certainly is." she answers fondly.
"Thank you." I tell her.
"Thank me? For what, Kenshin?" she asks confused, her beautiful eyes, searching for the meaning of my words.
"Thank you for bringing him safely for me, thank you Kaoru, for giving me a child."
"Oh Kenshin" is all she can say, as her blue eyes fill with tears. She cries so easily.
If I could ever choose a moment for time to remain still, I swear upon my life that it would be now, this very moment, this moment of true peace.
A/N: This was meant to be a oneshot, but I have more in mind for this fic. However, I'd love to know what you think, should it end here or continue?
Thanks for reading, please review.