Kaoru stopped to catch her breath and remove the pebble that had been in her shoe for the past three hours. She let her bag fall off her back and onto the ground, letting out a grateful sigh as it did. Sitting on the ground, she worked the sandal off and found the troublesome rock. With a small cry she threw it as far as she could, trying to find satisfaction in doing so.

But she was satisfied. She wasn't happy. She was extremely angry.

A month ago, Kenshin and Sano left on a job that was suppose to take them 'a couple of days', according to Sano. Three weeks after without so much as a rumor in Tokyo of their whereabouts and Kaoru was beyond her normal state of worry.

She smiled remember how much Megumi scolded her when she had to come to fix the mess Kaoru had caused. As if policemen weren't used to a little beating. Besides, it was their own fault for not answering her questions.

Megumi had convinced them not to arrest Kaoru on the spot and offered them treatment free of charge. Somehow, during treating them Megumi had managed to find out where the police had sent Kenshin and Sano this time. How she managed that, Kaoru didn't want to know.

It was strange to see Megumi concerned. But a month behind schedule had managed to get through even her iron-tough exterior. Of course, there was no telling whom she was worried about, but Kaoru hoped it was more Sano then Kenshin. As if she didn't have enough problems with Kenshin without the fox woman competing with her.

Kaoru sighed. Stupid Kenshin. Making her come all this way because he couldn't pick up a lousy pen and write a message. Didn't he know how much she worried about him?

Kaoru snorted a laugh. Yeah like anything could get through that thickheaded rurouni. Short of wearing a huge sign that said "Hey idiot, I love you", she wasn't sure what else she could do. And maybe that's what worried her the most. She thought she had made her feelings clear. And if that were true, then he wasn't acting on them because he didn't feel the same way.

And who could blame him! she thought with a sigh. All I'm good for it messing things up, always getting in trouble and needing rescue. I'm dead weight for someone like him.

As if to answer her, the skies suddenly opened up and a huge downpour dropped onto her.

"Well that's just GREAT!" she screamed up to the sky, as she gathered her stuff quickly. Standing up, she slipped her sandal back on and started to pick up the pace. She needed to find shelter soon. The wind began to pick up and Kaoru found herself struggling to stand up. The situation was obviously going from bad to worse.

She could hear a torrent of water as she made her way down the path. Oh please, please, don't be what I think it is.

She reached the river a few moments later and groaned at the site. There, swinging back and forth in the wind was a rickety wooden rope bridge.

"We live in the Meiji Era," she said to no one in particular. "Why are all our bridges still made of ROPE AND WOOD!"

She approached the edge of the cliff and looked down. The river was flowing past at an alarming speed. The wind was forcing the bridge to swing back and forth as if taunting her to just try to walk on it. Kaoru steeled herself and focused on the bridge. With all her strength, she lifted one foot and placed it on the bridge.

Don't look down, don't look down, don't look down…

At least this time, there was no Yahiko to jump up and down and make things worse. Though Kaoru wasn't quite sure how it could get worse. By the time she had reached the middle of the bridge, her resolve began to falter. She gripped the ropes with her hands until her knuckles turned white.

You can do this, she told herself. You're almost there.

"I can do this," she said out loud. "I can…"

Her voice was suddenly drowned up. Surprised, Kaoru looked upstream at where the noise was coming from. It sounded like…

A wave of water was rushing down the river. Somewhere upstream, the rain had finally won and now the resulting flash flood was headed straight for her. There was no time to react, no time to run. By the time the coming events had clicked in Kaoru's mind, the wave hit her.

Her hands gripped onto the bridge's rope tightly but it was a lost battle. She felt her bag ripped off her back, her sandals torn off her feet and finally, her hands pried free as the bridge broke under the weight of the water.

With a surprised gasp, Kaoru watched the receding landscape as she was swept away.

* * *

"I don't get why you're so worried," Sano said, hands laced behind his head. "All you got to do is say, 'Look here Kaoru, what men do is men's business'. Then just leave it at that."

Kenshin smiled a bit, imagining the different ways Kaoru would pummel Sano if she heard him say that. "Demo… we said we would be back in a few days."

"And we would have been!" Sano cried. "If the rains didn't start and flood all the roads. Eesh, you're completely whipped and not even getting anything in return."

Kenshin's brows furrowed as he tried to muddle out what Sano had just said. An 'Oro' look began to take over but he never got the chance to say it.

"DAMN IT!" Sano screamed as soon as they reached the cliff.

Kenshin looked over at what his friend was so upset about. The rope bridge that had been there several weeks ago was completely severed.

"That's the third one!" Sano yelled. "At this rate, it'll take us another month to get home."

Kenshin sighed. "Let's just start walking. They'll be another bridge somewhere."

Sano cursed and kicked at the ground as they started to make their way down. Stupid rain. And he just knew the Kaoru was going to blame him for this. Like he was personally responsible for making it rain.

His foot hit something soft and he stopped. Looking down, he realized it was a sandal.

"What's wrong?" Kenshin said turning around when he realized Sano had stopped. Sano knelt down and picked up the sandal. Looking at it, he realized there was something very familiar about it. Kenshin walked up and took it from him.

While Kenshin turned the shoe around in his hand, Sano realized there was more debris down the bank of the stream. He made his way to largest of them all. It looked like a travelling pack.

Carefully he opened it up and examined the things inside. His face fells as he recognized most of the items inside. Turning around, he saw Kenshin hadn't moved and realized that the rurouni had just come to the same conclusion as him.