A/N: Thanks for still following this story! Sorry for not updating sooner! I have a few more ideas for this story, so it's not done yet! I wrote the last half of the chapter while listening to HIM – You Are The One and Right Here In My Arms. I think it may have influenced it a bit. ;D As always, thanks for reading and please drop a comment and let me know what you think.


It was a side Kaoru hadn't seen in Kenshin. There were screams echoing from the halls of the brothel. Any customers left in the establishment flooded out the front gate, which was adorned with brightly glowing red lanterns. Through the sound of panic and screams, she sat on the futon, waiting patiently for Kenshin to return, as he had directed. She didn't doubt for a minute that it would be anyone other than Kenshin walking through that door. Kaoru had seen what Kenshin was capable of. She knew no one here could match his skill. 'Maybe not anyone on this side of Japan, for that matter,' she mused.

After some time, a bit of smoke began to seep underneath the sliding door. 'Fire?!' Kaoru leapt to her feet and began searching the room for another escape route. She moved to the window and began feeling for a way to pry it open, her hands shaking in fear. Suddenly the sliding door swiftly opened.

"Kenshin!" Kaoru quickly turned to greet him. Kenshin's frame was surrounded by a bright orange glow. The heat radiating from the fire quickly swept into the small room, along with a considerable amount of smoke. Kaoru covered her face and let out a cough.

"Someone wanted to play with gunpowder…then they blew themselves up…" Kenshin said, brushing off the front of his hakama. "We should go!"

Kenshin spoke loudly over the sound of the flames. The smoke was beginning to fill Kaoru's lungs, as she coughed repeatedly and kneeled to the ground. Her eyes stung from the smoke and heat.

She knew she was losing oxygen fast.

Gasping for air to no avail, she reached out both arms for Kenshin, and fell unconscious.

Clop, clop, clop, clop…..

It was a sound that Kaoru recognized.

The sound of Kenshin's geta sandals walking slowly on the road. Her thoughts drifted to summer. Bright, sweltering days walking to town to get supplies or food with Kenshin. His easygoing pace and the way he wore his sword in broad daylight was comforting. It made her feel protected, and even envied, by the other women in town who saw her with someone strong enough to carry a sword in the Meiji era.

The presence of a man in her life was something she had begun to get used to, and she liked the idea of having Kenshin as a companion:

The friend she yearned for.

A brother she never had.

The father she lost.

…And the lover she needed.

She knew Kenshin could fill all of these gaps in her life. And she had nothing without him. She could feel warm tears down her cheek as she slowly opened her eyes and took note of her surroundings. It was nightfall and she was being carried on Kenshin's back as he walked on an empty dirt road outside of town. There were sparse trees and small creeks on either side of the road. Kaoru blinked through tears and looked up at the bright moon. "K-Kenshin?" she said in a soft, whimpering voice. Kenshin walked to the edge of the road and placed her down gently, turning around to face her. He leaned down in front of her and cupped her face with both hands. "Why are crying, Kaoru?" he said softly, the pale moon reflecting on his face and lighting up his dark, violet gaze.

"I…I wanted to see you again."

Kenshin couldn't deny that he wanted to see her just as much as she did. His eyes relaxed as he watched her deep blue eyes glistening with tears.

Her blushing cheeks underneath his hands.

The warmth radiating from her skin.

He slid his hand sensuously down her neck. "Kaoru…I don't want to be without you. Even if it means Hell. I can't promise you it will be an easy life with me."

Kaoru couldn't hold back any longer. "K-Kenshin…." She lowered her head and began shaking with sobs. "It's okay….don't cry." Kenshin's hands rested softly on her shoulders. "Let's rest for the night." He gently swept her up again in his arms and carried her off the path of the road into the woods, next to a small brook.

The surrounding forest was quiet, all but the sound of water rushing over the rocks and insects chirping their end-of-summer song. Kenshin loosened his grip on Kaoru enough for her to slide down out of his arms and onto her feet. In the darkness of the forest, only lit by the moon, Kaoru could no longer hold back her emotions. She was in shock from all that had happened since Kenshin had left and she had been kidnapped. She reached out and grabbed him rather forcibly and planted her lips on his in a moment of passion. Although a bit surprised, Kenshin welcomed her into his arms and kissed back sweetly, pulling her frame tighter into his arms and rubbing her back gently. Kaoru's whole body was growing with desire. Every thought at that moment was of Kenshin, and being with him. She wanted to be as close to him as possible, in every way… to feel his warmth, and to be loved. She pushed herself so close into him that they both fell backwards onto the soft grass next to the brook. Kenshin let out a startled laugh and allowed Kaoru to adjust herself on top of him. "Let's get some rest, okay?" Kenshin patted Kaoru's head as she snuggled into his chest. "We still have a lot of travelling to do…and there's something I need to discuss with you tomorrow…but for now, you need sleep, that you do."

Kaoru held onto Kenshin's frame tightly, vowing silently to never let go before finally succumbing to sleep. Kenshin stroked her hair lightly, his violet gaze piercing through the night, frowning slightly and pondering the burden of the hard life she would now share with him.

As always, thanks for reading and see you in Chapter 9!