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Epilogue; Aftermath

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And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead."
-Matthew 8:21-22

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AU- That's epigraph is kind of odd coming from me of all people. Me being the filthy pagan that I am, but it's applicable.

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Defiled.

She'd defiled herself with the blood of the woman she'd given her life to.

The world stretch out beneath Kaoru's feet; a single step would snuff her filthy little life out and atone for Tomoe's death at her hands. One little step.

'Kenshin always advocated atonement. He'll understand when I meet him in the afterlife.'

…Kenshin…

'That's right… he lived to atone for his sins.' she shook her head in a vain attempt to clear it. 'What's wrong with me? I can't die now, I still have responsibilities.'

She looked down at the world beneath her and shook her head once more. 'I'm sorry Jin'eh, I have to stay. I'll die soon enough, we'll see if I've lost my resolve then.'

Naturally it was right then when all the head shaking caught up with her and she lost her balance…

The sound of a man snoring woke her up.

Kaoru rolled over to one side and was pleasantly surprised to find that for the first time in days, the world didn't tilt wildly around her. Her smile faded as she remembered where she was.

The source of the snoring, as she expected, was Enishi crashed out on a sofa that had been dragged up beside her bed. The few times she'd woken up since she'd been brought back to Yutaro's manor, he'd been there.

She vaguely remembered him carrying her back from the forest… after he'd found her wandering around aimlessly and dangerously close to a cliff. Over the few days she'd patched what had happened there together from half a dozen stray facts dropped in her presence.

Tomoe had been found sliced cleanly through the chest by the nihonto, like Raijuta. Raijuta had been left to lie where he was, but Tomoe had been dragged to one side and laid out with her limbs straightened and Kaoru's gi laid out over her body. Kaoru remembered doing that as soon as she'd registered the fact that she'd… killed Tomoe.

Kaoru gave a shuddering sigh as tears prickled at her eyes. "It was all for nothing." she whimpered. "I killed her…"

Enishi stirred and Koru hurriedly turned over so he wouldn't see her tears if he woke up. She wouldn't be able to resist being comforted right now, and if she collapsed in Enishi's arms right now then there would be all sorts of consequences later.

Luckily Enishi didn't wake so Kaoru was alone with her memories for a bit longer and there were things she'd been told that didn't match up with what she remembered.

Megumi had mentioned that the nihonto had been laid across Tomoe's chest, but Kaoru clearly remembered throwing it across the clearing with a scream of revulsion directed at herself.

Also, Aoshi had said something to Megumi when they'd both thought her asleep.

When they'd been looking for her after they came after the source of the screams, several sets of footprints had been found; one was hers and led Enishi to find her collapsed at the lip of a cliff, one set had been Raijuta's, another had been Tomoe's, but there had been one last set of foot prints and they had followed hers to the cliff and then onto rocky ground where even the Oniwabanshuu couldn't track them--- and Kenshin hadn't been seen since that night.

'That can't be right, I'm sure…' she pulled the covers up over her head. 'I know I saw him but I can't think when… except for…'

Her nails dug into the grainy earth of the cliff edge. She let loose with a scream, but she knew no one could come in time to help.

'I'm going to die here…'

Strong hands caught her by the forearms and dragged her up from the lip of the cliff. She was pulled up against a man's chest and dragged away from the edge.

"You won't die here, Kamiya. You won't die yet." a man's voice whispered harshly in her ear.

The last thing she saw before blackness claimed her was flaming red hair framing blazing gold eyes.

'That was Kenshin… or at least Battousai.' she reasoned.

… but she felt certain she'd seen him once more after that but she wasn't positive.

She ran a dry tongue over equally dry lips-- water was called for. She slowly sat up in bed and turned to the nightstand to reach for the carafe of water there… only to stop midway.

There was a sheet of clean white paper leaned up against the carafe. There was a kanji written on it in blood.

Tendou

Divine Justice

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Seiyuu; That's it for Ronin Kaoru; Tokyo Arc. I'll begin on Chapter 1 of Ronin Kaoru; Kyoto Arc straight away!