Warrior's Heart

By The Unseen Watcher

Rurouni Kenshin belongs to I don=t know who at the moment. I=ll get back to you on it. Rest assured that the idea and rights for it don=t belong to me. You have no idea how much sleep I've lost mourning that fact. Note, this is long AFTER he meets Kaoru.

Chapter 1BThe Blade=s Edge

Present: Kenshin sat on the floor in the middle of his cramped room at the inn. He had decided that he was tired of sleeping outside and decided to splurge on a room. It was no palace, but at the moment it was his. His back had started to complain regularly about sleeping on the stony ground. He had not realized how accustomed he had become to sleeping in an actual bed the past few years.

Sighing to himself, he pushed that thought and the accompanying images it brought to the back of his mind. There was no turning back, there had not been the second he had crossed the line he had set for himself so long ago.

He had broken his vow. Months later he still saw the scene with perfect clarity.

Past: He, Kaoru, and Yahiko were fighting off at least a dozen attackers that had been hired by Gohei of all people to get rid of them. Kenshin had been in confident battle mode when he noticed one of the hire-words slip past Yahiko=s guard.

In a blink he was by the boy=s side, parrying the force of the blow away from the boy, reducing his injury to a shallow cut on his chest. Thus occupied, he didn=t notice the gun one sported until he heard the shot and Kaoru=s scream.

His head whipped around, his eyes widening in fear as dread gripped his heart. Kaoru was slumped to the wall of a nearby building, clutching her side as blood flowed out of her gunshot wound, her face pale.

Kenshin=s hands blurred as he frantically finished the fight with Yahiko=s attacker, knocking the man out with a quick sweep of his sakabatou. His heart hammering in his chest, he moved quickly to her. A quick inspection showed that the wound was bleeding heavily, but he was unable to tell how serious it was because of the amount of blood and Kaoru=s hand pressed instinctively over it. His concerned thoughts were cut off by a familiar evil laugh. Kenshin spun on his heels, dropping into a ready stance with his eyes narrowed in anger. AGohei,@ he spat. AYou=ll never learn, will you?@

The large, bearded man in question sneered, standing well behind his hirelings, who now all sported handguns, all pointing at Kenshin.

AAt last!@ the big man gloated. AI knew that this day would come. The day that I would finally have my revenge on you and that wood-swinging harlot. The brat was just a bonus. I could just stand here and enjoy the sight of them bleeding to death before I kill you, just to see the look on your face when they die.@

Gohei paused to consider the idea, then shook his head. ANaw,@ he said, then gestured to his men. AKill them.@

As the weapons were raised Kenshin=s mind froze so that it seemed that they were moving in slow motion. Kaoru-dono would soon die of bloodloss if she did not get immediate attention. He might already be too late. Yahiko had that cut on his chest and was already too exhausted to lift his shinai. Kenshin was the only one left who could fight.

His mind, blank and without an anchor, chose to latch onto the sight of Gohei=s smirking face. It seemed, no matter how often he was defeated or arrested, this one opponent just kept coming back for more. It seemed impossible, but his tactics got even more dishonorable with each attack. A part of Kenshin absently wondered why the man hadn=t hired a sniper to shoot him from a safe distance long ago. His anger quickly built, straining against his iron control.

As he was focusing on the source of their current troubles he heard a groan behind him. Most frightening of all he felt Kaoru-dono=s presence become weaker to his senses. He was losing her fast. She had already lost consciousness, and might never wake up if she lost any more blood. Fear surged up in him at the thought.

The fear combined with the anger. What good was his life, the purpose of going on, if he lost her? She was the rock in his life that kept him from becoming totally lost. Her strength of will alone had kept him not only sane, but for the first time happy. Truly happy. She and the others were his family, something that he had never had before. After living with her he had realized just how little he had known about what a true family was.

She was the pillar, the main support in so many lives, especially his own. This stubborn, dishonorable BAKA of a man had dared to cause pain to the one being he cherished above all others, to take her away from him. He had to be taken care of, permanantly. He would pay for hurting her. He would pay for that.

He would pay!

The guns rose and prepared to fire.

The barrier sealing part of Kenshin=s soul ripped apart.

* * * * Present: Kenshin came back to himself, shaking his head. That had happened over half a year ago. The rest of his memory was mostly a blur of motion, but he remembered turning over the blade of his sword. He remembered the feel of flesh parting under the steel of his blade.

* * Past: Gohei=s men hadn=t realized what hit them. He had taken them all out in the span of time it had taken them to register the fact that he was no longer in front of them. The warrior had then advanced on Gohei, his movements flowing and deadly as he moved toward his target without so much as a whisper of his sandals.

Gohei=s eyes were bulging and the sneer had slid off his face to be replaced by one of sheer terror as he looked into the blazing golden eyes of his death. He raised his steel umbrella before him in an attempt to shield himself, but one swing from the silent assassin before him sheared through it, and him, like paper. He was dead before he hit the ground.

The Battousai turned at a soft gasp behind him. Kaoru was awake, and was looking around her with shock clearly showing on her face. Her attention turned to him, standing in the middle of the carnage, her gaze taking in his blood drenched clothing before lifting it to meet his cold golden gaze with her own soft blue eyes.

Yahiko just stood there, his arms lead weights and his mouth hanging open, his eyes the size of dinner plates.

The fighters gaze remained impassive. With a sharp flick of his wrist he shook the blood of his blade and sheathed it. Walking silently over to her, he removed her limp hand and examined her side. The bullet had passed through, and the wound was not deep. Reaching out, he idly ripped the shirt off one of the fallen, tearing it into strips and binding Kaoru=s wound with it. Bending down, he lifted her with a gentleness that seemed a sharp contrast to his still hard eyes.

Not even glancing the boy=s way, he had said only AFollow@ and started striding towards the clinic. Yahiko followed cautiously, favoring his wound.

* * Megumi was having a rather slow day at the clinic when she heard the door bang open. Walking out to the receiving room, expecting some frantic parent, she started in surprise at the scene before her. There stood Ken- san drenched in blood from his tabi to the crown of his head. Cradled in his arms was Kaoru, face pale and obviously struggling to stay conscious, her own clothes stained red. Her training taking over, she rushed forward, ordering Kenshin to place Koaru down so she could examine her. After he had carefully lowered her to a waiting cot, Megumi bent over the pale form of the girl she thought of as a little sister.

Gently, Megumi removed the rough bandaging, examining the raw wound. Glancing up at a sound at the door, noticed it was Yahiko, and was about to order the boy to help when she noticed his current state. Letting out a breath in exasperation, she sharply ordered the young samurai to lie down on another cot. For once he didn=t protest. Fate seemed to be punishing her for her earlier complaints about boredom.

AAre you hurt too?@ She asked, still not looking up from her examination. When she received no reply she glanced up irritably AWell?@ she demanded impatiently.

Her irritation died of a heart attack when the man standing beside seemed to become aware that she was talking to him, and glanced at her before returning his attention to Kaoru. ANo,@ he said curtly.

Megumi blinked, unable to repress a shiver at the glimpse of the cold amber eyes. Collecting herself, she resolutely turned back to her patients. She started to make polite requests for him to fetch certain medical items.

* *

Kaoru came to hours later, her chest wrapped in soft bandages. *What happened?@ she thought fuzzily, her mind sluggish from sleep and drugs. Turning her head slightly, wincing at the slight pain she felt even through the pain-killers, she noticed Yahiko on another cot, sleeping deeply.

Kaoru frowned slightly, struggling to sort out her muzzy thoughts. Automatically, she glanced around for Kenshin.

Kenshin. The day's events came back to her in a rush, and with it a cold rush of fear that helped push back the rest of her sleepiness. Pushing down with her hands, she struggled to sit up.

AKoaru!@ Megumi=s voice called as she walked into the room to check up on them and noticed her patient's actions. AWhat are you doing you numbskull?! Your wound will reopen!@

Kaoru continued to struggle, even when the other woman reached her and started to push her back down. AI can=t! I have to find Kenshin! Who knows what he=ll do?! I have to stop him!@

Kaoru=s struggles ceased as Megumi=s disapproving frown above her changed to one of sadness, her eyes filled with regret as she met Kaoru=s anxious ones. Slowly, the young doctor shook her head. AHe=s gone Kaoru-chan.@ She said quietly. There was no use jumping around the issue. Kaoru wouldn=t calm down even if Megumi had lied to her. The stubborn girl would have insisted on seeing him immediately.

Kaoru blinked, stunned by those simple words. The meaning of them slowly sunk in, and she found herself slowly shaking her head in denial.

ANo,@ she whispered. ANOOOOOOOOO!!@

Well? This isn't all, I promise. Still working on it though. For those of you who requested my chapter stories despite my warnings, 'I told you so'. As for the rest of you, please be patient.