Writer's Note: Just my luck…I finally have my chapter written and ff.net is acting up!!! Yes, I've kept you all waiting long enough. Here at last is the conclusion to my story! It's not all that exciting, but it had to be done because…because… (…) well, because it's THE END! And endings to stories are nice to have! Hope you enjoy!
Quick Recap: Tokio and Kenshin infiltrated the base dressed as prostitutes. Sano and Saitou were stuck in the attic. However, Arigotowa figured out Tokio's identity and threw a dagger, which got her in the belly. Bleeding on the floor, Tokio watches Hajime Saitou during his rampage. Not only that, but it is revealed that Tokio is pregnant…
The Wolf's Mission
By Leila Winters
The night lagged on and the Kamiya Dojo remained silent. Kaoru was tucked into her futon, as passing out on the floor had broken her vigilance. Yahiko sat stubbornly in the corner, nodding off occasionally and drooling slightly from the corner of his mouth.
Kenshin sat pensively against a wall, Sano against the wall on one side and Saitou against the other. The policeman, however, was closest to the door where Megumi Takani was working exceedingly hard to save the woman he wanted very much to live.
The rurouni regarded the ex-Shinsengumi captain from the corner of his eyes. The blood washed away from his face and hair…the intense amber eyes glowered at a scuff on the hardwood floor and the hard planes in his face tensed with both worry and fatigue. He took a long drag of what must have been his twentieth cigarette of that evening. The gloved fingers of his left hand twitched ever so slightly as the seconds ticked by…
Kenshin's morbid fascination with the Wolf of Mibu's vulnerable moment awed and disgusted him. It was a bittersweet victory, that it was.I'm so sorry, Saitou-san…
The swordsman tried to remember what had gotten him through Tomoe's death…it was so strange, he couldn't really remember…he just remembered a stabbing loneliness, warmthless guilt and an endless sea of red before his eyes.
And then…there had been atonement. The ugly stains of sin fading in this place of endless light—never to be wiped clean, but not so heavy a burden for one man.
Breaking the silence, Kenshin looked at the uneasy man, "Tokio has a very strong will to live, that she does. She will not abandon you."
Eyes met, and within those golden depths was a flicker of hope, yet underlying it all was doubt. A fear that she might be too far-gone for medical treatment.
I was the one who was supposed to be strong for Tokio.
"You are Shinsengumi. You are strong. But it is not that kind of strength that is important. For my daughter, you will need to be strong in spirit. One day, she will need you to hold firm and not falter. You must sustain her with your strength and shield her from the evils of this world. My daughter's life will become your own."
Sanosuke waited for news from Megumi. He found his eyes drifting over to the man in front of him.
—"She loves him."—
Yeah…looking at the cigarette smoking man now, he could see it. The woman had gone and taken away his snide remarks, his deadly looks and left him without words. The Wolf of Mibu was waiting. Immovable as he was from that spot, the fighter suspected that even if Japan's top crime lords were congregating next door, he would remain where he was just to hear news about his wife.
Sano's mouth quirked.
I still can't believe that guy is married.
The door slid open and Megumi stepped out, weary and a bit frazzled. The policeman quickly put out his cigarette and stood up. "Well?"
The doctor looked into the narrow eyes, her own sad and twinged with regret. "Your wife will live, but I'm afraid that she lost a lot of blood. The baby was lost and the dagger most likely inflicted irreversible damage to her uterus. I…I'm not sure if she will ever be able to bear children again."
The man nodded in response.
"You can go in and see her, but she's resting now." The doctor took a step forward, but stumbled and lurched into the ex-Shinsengumi's steadying arms.
Sano jumped up and took the woman off his hands. Supporting much of her weight, he said, "C'mon, Fox. Let's get you to bed. You've earned it."
The policeman paused in the doorway and looked at Megumi's exhausted face. "…Thank you."
Stepping into the dark room and closing the screen behind him, Saitou took a long look at the woman resting comfortably on the futon. How many times had he come home to a cold dinner sitting on the table and a wife asleep? Alone, her face normally pressed into his pillow, saturating her nerves with the scent and feel of her husband. How many times had he woken her with a hand on her shoulder or a feathery touch to her wisps of hair?
He stepped closer and felt himself smiling, despite everything. Just a slight twitch to his lips, but he felt it in his chest. This heady warmth was spreading throughout his body, vibrating through his muscles.
"Tokio…" he called to her and was answered only with silence.
He stood for several more moments looking at the woman who could stop a tiger with her voice alone, before crawling into the futon. His hand slid protectively over her belly and he scooted closer to his wife's warm body. Slowly…hands crept up to clasp the policeman's and form a protective shield over the woman's stomach.
Pressing his face into Tokio's loose hair, the Wolf of Mibu fell asleep.
Morning came with the sun rising exultantly over the quiet houses. Muscles ached and came to life as bodies unwound themselves from uncomfortable positions. Joints cracked and heavy lids lifted.
Kaoru leapt up from her futon, no longer in a daze. Wide eyes darting frantically around, her feet brought her noisily to Kenshin's room.
"Kenshin! What happened?? Is Tokio okay??"
"Yes, she is fine."
"How could you do that to me, Kenshin?? You should have woken me up to tell me! I'll never forgive you, you jerk!"
The poor rurouni waved his hands in an attempt to calm the young woman's frantic tirade. "Calm down, Kaoru-dono. Tokio-san will be okay, that she will. You seemed so tired, it would have been a shame to wake you up."
Kaoru gave him a dubious look.
"It's the truth!"
"Mmm…okay. You're forgiven."
"No," at his crestfallen expression, she continued, "I'm glad Tokio's okay, but you better think twice before forgetting to tell me during life and death situations! This time, I'll let you get away with only scrubbing the floors. Next time, I WON'T be so forgiving."
Kenshin was just finishing polishing up the floorboards underneath the overhang, when a pair of feet stepped before him. He craned his neck to see Hajime Saitou and Tokio, not far behind her husband.
The couple stepped out from beneath the awning and made a slow procession down the walkway.
"Wait! Where do you think you're going??" Megumi bolted from the dojo and was running down the walkway to catch up. "Tokio is in NO position to travel back to Kyoto! She's endangering her health! You have to let her rest!"
Kenshin joined her with wide eyes. "Saitou-san! You're welcome to stay here until Tokio-san has regained her strength!"
The Wolf of Mibu spun around. "Tokio-san is just fine. Mind your own business."
The rest of the Kenshingumi, hearing the racket outside, had made a little congregation before the Saitous. Sano pointed an accusing finger at the policeman. "You KNOW Tokio isn't up for travel, and you'd still make her take the trip?? She almost died, you stupid asshole!!! Is this any way to show how glad you are that she's alive? By killing her yourself??"
"What a jerk," Kaoru and Yahiko chimed together.
Before her husband mauled the whole lot of them, Tokio took a small step forward. "Don't concern yourselves over trivial matters. I will be fine. Hajime will take good care of me," a slow smile spread itself over her face. The night had taken its toll on the older woman and small creases had worn their way beneath weary eyes.
Sano snorted. "Sounds more like drive you to an early grave."
But Kenshin merely smiled. "Have a safe journey," he said.
"Now wait just a moment…!" Megumi protested.
The rurouni held up a hand to stop any further comments. "Tokio-san is right. It will be of no use to argue."
Beyond the dojo's threshold, a horse-drawn carriage pulled up. The Kenshingumi watched stupidly as husband and wife plodded steadily for it. The woman's steps were small, measured, and painstakingly gentle—taking care not to jostle herself or cause further injury. When they were before the doors, Tokio stood silently, the perfect image of meekness. It was to everyone's shock when the ex-Shinsengumi stretched his arms out, and with the utmost care, lifted the woman almost reverently into the carriage—one hand beneath her knees and the other holding her upright against her back.
Kenshin must have said something aloud because the policeman turned around and looked expectantly at him. "Anou…how is Eiji doing?"
Saitou regarded him with a look for a moment. "He's gone."
Eyes widened. "What?"
"He ran away three months ago. He said he needed to find out some truths on his own."
Kenshin smiled sadly. "So…she's taken to wandering, hoping to find answers of his own. I should have figured as much."
Kaoru blinked rapidly at the tears that misted over her eyes. "I have to say that I'm sorry to see you go so soon, Tokio-san. I never really got to ask you all the questions I wanted to. It has been an honor to meet you …though I can't really say the same about your husband. You're free to come visit whenever you like."
Yahiko eagerly added his voice to the farewell. "And maybe you could cook for us again! Can't expect us to stay healthy with Kaoru cooking all the time!"
The rurouni gave the couple a smile. "Though let us hope that your next visit won't be quite so adventurous."
Saitou smirked at that. "What's this? Those girls in the basement were quite pleased to be set free. Are you growing tired of helping the helpless and atoning for your past sins?"
"Hajime…" came the female warning from within the carriage.
The policeman looked a bit reluctant to give in, but settled with a confident smirk. "It seems we've overstayed our welcome. We have things to do, so we'll get going. I wish I could say 'it's been fun.'" With that, he ducked into the carriage and sat himself across from his wife.
Kenshin bowed deeply to the couple. "Goodbye. I wish you both a safe journey and hope that I will see you again soon."
Tokio waved as the carriage lurched forward. "We will meet again."
There were a few scattered goodbyes and soon, the couple was out of sight. Megumi stomped off with a "stubborn man…," while Sano wandered thoughtfully through the yard.
"C'mon, Yahiko, let's go back to practice."
"Aw, do I have to?"
I wonder why stories always depict the wolf as being alone, Kenshin thought. Wolves are social creatures by nature. They travel in packs and protect what is theirs. Honor, Strength, Duty. All these things your husband possesses. It is fitting that you, Tokio Saitou, are the one to capture this unique creature of the Revolution and become as much his keeper as he is yours.
"Don't just stand there, Kenshin!!! Get back to work!" glared Kaoru.
"Oh…I'm sorry, Kaoru-dono!!!" And he rushed to do her bidding.
We are both very lucky men, Saitou-san.
END NOTES: Sorry if it wasn't as exciting as you were hoping! Thank you for everyone who reviewed and to those who didn't, I hope you weren't disappointed, regardless. As of now, I don't have any plans for another chapter or a sequel, but who knows, maybe inspiration will hit, ya know? (Though, I doubt it) Personally, I think the story ends on a pretty good note. There are still a few mysteries, but some things are probably not meant to be known. (either that, or I've been negligent in my writing. Either/or.) ^_^
Silver: Hey, I love happy endings as much as the next person…but sometimes a change of pace is needed. I wasn't TOO cruel, now was I…? ^-^
Cherie Dee: Thanks a lot! Nice to know I'm still updating, huh? I'm excited to see how your A/Meg stories are going to end, so I hope your muses get caffeinated!! Thanks a lot for the compliments! (I went back a few days ago and reread your What Matters Most and had a moment of choked squealing during Ao and Meg's after-lunch scene. Just the image of him tilting his head…^__^ It was completely awesome.)
Gypsy-chan: Thanks so much for your kind words! It's so nice to have such enthusiastic reviews! Um…and about Kenshin not saying goodbye…*sweatdrop* It wasn't so much he was ashamed or anything. I guess I just kind of forgot! *dodges vase* That was my bad.
Illustrious Sorrow: I wonder if you'll still like it after this chapter…not much really happens. It's a very…anti-climatic ending.
JadeGoddess: SO SORRY TO KEEP YOU WAITING!!! It's not SO sad, is it? Glad you stuck by it to the very end!
MsJadey: I was so happy after reading your review!! You're a very eloquent writer and have a way of saying things from the heart that just speaks of sincerity! Thanks so much for everything and I hope I've covered all the bases! *looks uncomfortable* I can't help but feel I'm leaving some things unresolved…but I hope not!
Ketsueki Kyoko: Thankies! It is difficult to keep everyone happy. Hope you're not TOO disappointed!
IceRain: I know it's not much for a last chapter…but ah well. Thanks for sticking to this fic until the end! I know it's been a long wait!
Cherry Delight: Thanks so much! (That Which Lingers was a fic I read long ago, but was one of the firsts of S/T fics I'd had the honor to read. The first was Wolf's Blood by Croik, which has remained my favorite of the S/T fics. That one made me cry for a LONG time!) ANYWAYS…^_^ Hope you enjoyed it!
Kyris: Hee…thanks a lot! I do hope you're working on Always Then, Always Forever AND Dance the Death! I look forward to reading them both! You're a phenomenal writer and I can't wait!
Kamorgana: Hee hee! I think we all secretly wish our men would make out with us and have an excuse to do so! ^-^ Thanks for the review!
CardMistress Sakura: It's out! I updated!! Are ya HAPPY?? ^-^
Eiko: ^_^ I didn't quite kill Tokio. I know it was mean of me to give the impression, but I couldn't help myself! I'm sorry! I hope things were okay for you in the end!
Takatome Ichido: *sighs* Yes. I knew there was something slightly off about my transitions, but I just decided, "THE HECK WITH IT!!!" and posted. Plus, I think it's also partly my format and punctuation use. I want to find a nicer looking way to indicate separate sections. Anyways, THANKS SO MUCH!!! I swear, you really could get away with calling someone an incompetent moron and they would forgive you because your reviews are just too great! I LOVE THEM!!! Very sorry I took forever AGAIN…but it's all over! What'll I do now..?
Hanet: Your review left me feeling very good about myself, so THANKS! You certainly crack me up! Your comment about Kaoru being a bit more OOC than the others…*sweatdrop* Yeah. To be honest, I really don't like Kaoru all that much, so I guess I've never really seen much depth in her to begin with. Thanks, though, every writer wants to hear that they're good at it! ^_^ Hope the ending wasn't too happy for you! I know how tiring they can be sometimes.
Syn: I love your review! It really made me smile! It's sad, because I know EXACTLY how you feel with constantly checking up on stories…*sigh* I am really sorry I kept you waiting (though, sometimes the payoff is great because you get so excited when the update finally comes). THANKS AGAIN!!
Chaos: Thanks for reading all at once! I know it can be a bit to swallow in one go. Sorry to keep you waiting! Here it is, in all its glory! CHAPTER SIX!! (…) Okay. So maybe chapter six wasn't as eventful as it could have been, but whatever. ^_^;;;;
L.Sith: For me, I guess comedy and drama have to go hand in hand. Everything can have their little moment, but the instant when things go too far in one direction, it gets tiring. Thanks for the review!
Oro?: THANKS A LOT! It's finished, so you don't have to worry, okay? Wow…I don't know how I would have lived with myself, knowing that I had caused a black hole to form in someone…
aZnSwTy: SORRY FOR TAKING SO LONG!! Ah, the joys of summer…
Yamikitsune: Glad you like it! Hope the last chapter didn't disappoint!
Mary-Anne: You didn't have to wait long, did you? ^_^ SO GLAD! Thanks a lot! I like this fic myself…which is weird because I thought I'd be sick of it by now…
Ro-Chan: Ah, Ro, what would I do without you? You are my strength in adversity! (…) It was weird because after your review, I sat down, popped in Saiyuki, decided I couldn't write with that on, and went to bed. However, while lying there, I stayed up extremely late writing the conclusion to my story! Can't say it's as great as the previous chapters, but last chapters never are. THANKS A LOT FOR EVERYTHING! Thanks again for the pic! ^_~