Warning: Alright, I just wanted to say that content in this chapter is severely depressing. It deals with *wonderful* things such as suicide and well, depression. Of course, there are brief comic appearances. But this chapter, this chapter starts and very well might finish heavy. It depends on your opinion of things. Read on then.
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters of Rurouni Kenshin. If I did, I would have my own private Aoshi to bed. ^_^
What Keeps Us Alive Chapter Eight: Drowning In The Sea of Tears
[italics]- thoughts [bold]- letters //italics//- flashbacks
[Due to the fact that there are major problems uploading the right format, I will at a later time repost this part. At this moment, I am just pretty poed at the damn system.]
I'm lost, exposed,

Stranger things will come your way,

It's just I'm scared,

Got hurt a long time ago,

Can't make myself heard,

No matter how hard I scream. Portishead
Pain burned her. It was the only thing that made sense to her. It was the only logic she saw in the train of events that were occurring in her life. For things that didn't make sense, it was a dark degree of pain. For things that made sense and that she knew she understood, it was a light pain.pain that she could bring herself to get over and heal. But her break up with Sano, as both a catalyst and a crucial event in the way she had been feeling, the pain, the anger. none of it had or carried a place. Everything in her life had ventured off course.

She sighed, bringing her knees up to her chest. The beach was quiet today. Shadows of a storm were lurking in, so not that many people decided to brave the beach air. It was okay though. Signs of laughter, of interactions she could no longer feel right to take part in. gone. She could think now. She could drift like the tides, not making a sound decision and content to stay and bring whatever was thrown her way. Wash the pain, retract and repeat- a calming cycle.

Full circle.

I miss Sano. I miss the ability to laugh. These past couple days had brought a lot of realizations to mind. How much she loved her mother's smile. Her father's intensity. Misao's innocence. Kaoru's quiet reassurance. She never really paid much attention to things, the small things, present in her life. But most of all she missed Sano. Their relationship in more ways than one was her saving grace. Instead of throwing herself into her work completely, Sano forced her to step back and take breaks. to learn to watch and love life. Now.now, she didn't know how. She was lost.

// Emptiness was the only choice she had now. To live life with present emptiness. It was like living no life at all. What was the point? Walking around like some creature of the dead, no direction, no ability to see.

Why hadn't the first time worked?

She lifted her bandaged wrist into the light, eyes trailing the path where dried blood still lay. Her eyes looked out into the sea. Calling. Calling. Calling. Taunting.//

"Pardon, Miss?"

She looked up and was greeted by a smiling old man, a cane clutched in his hand. Her eyes widened. "Oh, do you need to sit?"

The man smiled and shook his head.

"Iie, there's no need. There should more youth like you. idiots!"

She chuckled and the older man grinned.

He continued, "You shouldn't be sad. Doesn't suit you, kid."

"Thanks, I guess."

Megumi sighed and leaned back, watching the waves roll back and forth. Calm. That's what she needed now. Calmness. But unfortunately, everything was tumbling into an endless abbess. The old man placed a hand atop her shoulder.

"Whatever it is, maybe I could somehow help.? Listen perhaps?"

She snorted. "Look, I don't mean to be rude but, well, you just don't walk up to some random stranger to ask about what's going on in their lives. People'll think you're nuts."

The old man looked up at her, eyes sparkling with amusement and fondness. She was taken at back with the familiarity that lurked within his intense gaze.

// "He doesn't deserve you, you know."

Megumi looked up and away from the window, eyes wide. Yahiko stood in the doorway, hands gripping his bokken. She gave the younger boy a soft smile and scolded, "You should be in bed."

"Ah, kitsune.I-" He winced when she smacked over the head.

"Go to bed, Yahiko."

He rolled his eyes. "I don't even know why I bother."

She chuckled and turned back to her position at the window. Thank god some things never changed. even in situations such as the one now.

Kao-chan //

"Are you sure you are fine?"

She shrugged. Maybe it was a good idea to get it of my back. I can't think about this.

"It's just that I had a huge fight with my boyfriend--- oh, I don't know why I'm telling you this and especially since I ramble when I get frustrated. It was a stupid fight over one little white lie because if I told him what was bothering me, he probably would have understood and would pretty much pry where he really wanted to. I just wanted to talk to Kaoru because she's a better listener and damn, now I'm sounding like Misao-chan and I hate when I sound like Misao-chan. Anyway, Sano-"

The old man gave her a gentle smile and placed a hand atop her shoulder to calm her. For some reason, Megumi felt a lot better as she felt his calmness seep into her own mental barriers.

"Let me tell you a story, child. Maybe it'll help put some things into perspective for you."

She nodded, lured by the comfort given by his eyes.

"When I was growing up as a boy, I lived with the unconventional family," he paused, chuckling. "My mother figure was a nineteen year old who ran a dojo. My father figure was an ex-assassin. I had other that consider uncles and aunts, cousins even. The ex-gangster, the doctor, the spies. I myself had some issues in the past. But Ka-my mother took me in and tolerated my faults and misgivings. We had our qualms and disagreements, but above all our understandings. I would not be the way I am if it wasn't for her and the dojo. I learned so much. how to live life and love," he trailed off quietly.

"Not that I appreciate you talking to me and all," Megumi interrupted. "But I don't understand the point that you're trying to reach her."

The old man chuckled. "Still as impatient as always."


He ignored her. "But as always, every good thing must come to an end. An end did come for that matter. An end that I will live with until my dying day. My mother was kidnapped, by someone seeking a bloodthirsty revenge against the ex-assassin. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months. They searched so long for her. the spies, the gangster, my father. She was the heart of our family, the glue that kept us together no matter how much we teased her. I just. well, I wish I could have appreciated her more."

Megumi placed a hand on his shoulder. "Regret isn't going to bring her back."

"No, I realized that along time ago. He on the other hand, my father the ex-assassin. it killed him. drove him mad. every fiber of his being. I watched him fall piece by piece. No one realized how much she did for us, how much she held us together. It was then I watched my family bleed and die."

"So she was the first to die?"

He shook his head. "The doctor was the first to go. Physically, she was still alive. Breathing. But her mind was gone when that baka tori-atama left her. She reminds me of you in a way. Always looking out into the sea, eyes full of wonder and calm. She was sort of a walking contradiction. She always thought that she needed someone. But she had so much strength within her. She had so much to give."

Megumi felt a chill rise up. The scene before her was spinning. This man seemed so familiar to her and yet, so strange. What was she supposed to think? She prepared herself for the answer to her next question.


The old man sighed softly. "She was always so smart. Always knew how to twist the knife in someone's back. We never expected her to do something."

Megumi grew impatient. "The proper way, as if there were any, was ritual suicide."

"Is that what you think?"

She nodded and he shook his head.

"Child, she tried cutting herself. but tori-atama saved her from doing so. Said something about God and how she'd damn herself. The doctor died in the manner that suited her most."

Her breath caught. Silence.

"In the sea."

water. in its cleansing spirit.

water shall drown away the sorrows and the very essence of soul.

// You can't escape me.//


*snicker* "I'm sorry." *chuckle*




"Oh. towel. *chuckle*. head. I don't even want to know what that blur was. too funny," Misao laughed, clutching her stomach and trying to hold herself up against the wall. The object of focus laid a top the grass by the walkway and Aoshi found himself staring at the offender with a complete look of contempt.

Goddamn towel.

Misao, seemingly having calmed down was watching him with a tiny smile. She shook her head and motioned for him to follow her inside the house. He sighed and watched her in the corner of his eyes. He couldn't call her cute. Cute was the cheerleaders that were at the football games with the hundred watt smiles and giggles. Hajime Misao seemingly went beyond the normal concepts of beautiful. Her ebony hair was pulled back tightly with escaping tendrils flying into her face every now and then. Her blue eyes still sparkled with mirth and her lips curved into a small smile. She was the epitome of beautiful.

He loved this girl.

Without any need of reason.


She turned to look at him, holding the front door open for him. "Hmmm?"

"You can laugh."

Misao chuckled, shutting the door behind them. "I'm done laughing. Thank you for the offer of continuing my moment of amusement, though. It was sweet."

He rolled his eyes. "Glad I amuse you so."

She smiled and took his hand. She seemed to be studying him for awhile. "You're the first guy I've brought home to not only work on a project, but to meet my parents."

"Should I be worried?"

A brilliant smile crossed Misao's lips.

He looks like a lost little boy, she decided as she pushed back the hair in his face. Free of everything, but lost in what to do with himself. Kaoru sighed and stood, vaguely wondering how her sisters were doing, her eyes lingering on Kenshin's view of the bay. She made her way into the kitchen to make tea and possibly to call home to let her parents know she was fine

But was she really?

She settled the pot atop the oven and leaned back into the counter, eyes closing. She had no idea how to understand or take what was going on. One moment she was in her parents' bedroom, eyes wide and staring at her father's leering figure. He had seemed so cold, she thought with a shiver. She had never seem him look like that, but then at the same time. she expected something like that from him. The same with her mother, expression so calm and so dangerous. Even with Kenshin.

Kenshin. She sighed, eyes wandering back to the open bedroom door.

//Then why can't you remember me?//

Kenshin. She leaned back further. There had been such a raw hunger in his eyes for her that it scared the hell out of her. She was only seventeen .boys should only be nothing more than a liability. But what scared her the most was that she felt the same amount of intensity for Kenshin. So much so that it hurt to breathe. It was only that she didn't understand.

//Then why can't you remember me?//

Unconsciously leaning back too far, a small book fell with a quiet thump to the ground before her feet. Her eyes widened. What is this? She kneeled down with a curious expression on her face and picked up the small book, long fingers tracing the book as if it were her own.

//"I want a journal."//

Her fingers danced over the white marble, stopping at the iris.

//"Why an iris?"

He chuckled, kneeling down and taking her chin into his hand. She didn't like the feel of his hands. Too calloused. Kenshin's were softer, firmer. Kenshin had practically iris.

"I admire your personality, little one."

Her expression darkened. "Where's Yuikishiro-san?"

The man chuckled, tracing his hands over her face. "So soft, so warm. You will replace her well. The boy has done his job well. I have to admit, you are even better than what I expected."

She shivered. It was too dark. She didn't like where she was. She wanted to go home. To her family. She wanted to see Kenshin. She wanted to be happy.

"Why an iris?" Her voice was shaky, the tone persistent and lost.

"Look closer," he urged as if he were speaking to a child. "Look closer."

He pushed the small journal towards again, lighting a match so that she could see closer. Her breath caught and she began to shake.

It was an iris and a poppy, entwined together.

The man continued, oblivious to her violent shaking.

"What it means my dear is quite simple. Battousai will finally learn the lesson he has been avoiding all these long years. An iris and a poppy simply mean that wisdom will come out of your eternal sleep. You will be my greatest example to him. He. Will. Learn."//

Kaoru screamed, clutching her head. She barely heard footsteps rushing towards her and she began to whimper. Across the kitchen, the sunlight filtered into the room and gently caressed her discarded book. Shining brightly as if it were the reason for their existence, the kanji for fate made its presence known.

You can't escape me.
I won't lie to you, Kenshin. The days winding down, I'm beginning to lose my mind. I don't even know whether or not I can't decipher the difference between what is real and what isn't. Kenshin, I'm sorry but I don't know if I can't wait any longer. This place, Kenshin, this place has a shadow looming over it. I'm trying to be strong for you. I'm trying to fight giving up.

But maybe it just isn't meant to be.
He felt confident. He could practically taste victory. Kaoru would finally be in his arms. He'd take her away from all of this ridiculousness.

Everything seemed to be going his way.

He was in control finally.

He jumped. a cold hand on his shoulder, gripping him tightly. A dark shadow had entered the room. He could hear his heart pounding in his chest.

"Yuikishiro-san, it has been far too long. I trust that our mutual friend Shogu Amakusa hasn't told you of my arrival in Japan."

His breathe caught.

"What are you doing here?"

"The question is, Yuikishiro-san. why did you think you could escape me?"
author's notes:

*sweatdrops* Yes well, I bloody know that it was a bit depressing. I was kinda of moody when it was written. I have a mild concussion and was in the hospital. No fun, let me tell you. I don't know about you, but people dying isn't exactly my idea of fun. So I'm trying to recover, but on the plus side and a very weird development, my creative notion has gone up. Weird, eh?

On a different note, a lot of things are developing. Well, I did promise a lot of twist and turns . so here they are. So in a little preview for the next couple parts. Sano will be making his own little appearance and Megumi will be conversing with Yahiko (yes, the old man is Yahiko for those who don't know). Aoshi and Misao will finally be having some issues. Some twisted issues, mind you. And then the biggest bit of news, ladies and gentlemen, is the role reversal between Kenshin and Kaoru. So get ready for some more fun. I know I'm excited.


And to finish up, thank you for the two hundred reviews!! Makes me so happy!! Thank you all so very much. Please continue to review, I enjoy reading every single review for each and everyone of you. A special thanks to Nemo and her taking over the role as my editor. Hope to have more fun conversations with you, chica.