AN: And here is the final piece for Encounters, with the sequel already well into planning. I appreciate all of your reviews, thoughts, critiques and comments; they've been most wonderful to read.

Warnings: Citrus (woo!), violence, language.


Part V


He hated the sound of his phone going off. Because the only time that phone rang was when work was involved. Everyone else in this day and age texted. Though he was rather glad work did not text him, because then he would dread that, too.

Chewing on the end of a plastic fork, Sanosuke fished about for his phone as it blasted out something metal and quite possibly in a foreign language and answered the call with as much grace and etiquette he could muster. "Yeah?"

Were anyone actually watching him, they would see the color drain from his face.


Kenshin had left not long after their meaningful exchange. It had been approaching midday, and he stated that there were things he needed to do. He also promised to bring home dinner. Before he left, he had paused, glancing back. His eyes had fallen onto the katana now resting on its place on the wall.

She had hoped he had not minded her cleaning it, but had not dared trying to wake him to ask last night. Blood left on a blade was not good. She never practiced with live steel, but her father had kept a sizable collection of antiques and display weapons when she was a child. She knew how to clean a blade.

After a long moment of quiet thought, Kenshin tilted his head at her, bangs falling across his face. He offered her not quite a smile, but something close before turning back to the door. "Thank you, Kaoru."

He left before she could say anything in return, not that she knew what to say.

Left to her own devices, Kaoru inevitably found herself lost in thought. She was not necessarily the most introspective person in the world, however the recent events and happenings had left much weight on her shoulders and she could only pretend to not think about it for so long. Her life was undeniably screwed up right now. Yes, there was Kenshin, and yes she was crazy enough to be entirely elated by the fact that he was there—with her—but if she took him out of the equation... She was left with a very big series of difficult problems.

She grimaced at the pseudo-math analogy. Things had to be pretty crappy to start comparing them to mathematics. But what could she do? Cry? Scream? Laugh hysterically? Pick up a sword and request to join him in killing things?

She would do what she always did. Things were changing around her, and she too, needed to change.

She just wished the thought was more comforting.

Pining over her thoughts, Kaoru jumped when an explosive sound reached her ears. The building itself shook, and for a brief moment she considered an earthquake, but realized that was not it. Lights flickered for a moment, but chose to stay on, and Kaoru cautiously ventured to the door leading out onto the terrace. Her breath caught when she saw smoke rising up some distance away, and upon opening the sliding door, she could make out the sound of multiple alarms going off. Swallowing down her unease she hurriedly searched for the remote to bring up the news channel.

It did not take long for the station to catch up, interrupting the routine with the breaking story. What Kaoru had not expected was the split screen view of two buildings within the city gone up in smoke. Kaoru recognized them both. The first was the corporate building a few blocks away from where she was. Commonly called the SNBC Building, it was owned by Shishi National Banking Company. The other building she was less familiar with, a prominent medical research center, High Purpose Medical Institute. She could not recall what the institute specialized in.

Lips pressed into a thin line, she could only listen and read the reports, speculations, and numbers as they poured in. Deaths, injuries, missing persons, damages, and concern about additional terrorist attacks on other prominent buildings. Evacuation warnings were put out for virtually both surrounding sectors, and any other major entity within the city that police suspected could be a target.

The sound of the door opening made Kaoru jump, and she turned to see Kenshin come through. He was carrying bags in one hand, testament of his errands. The other hand held a handgun with a strangely elongated neck. Hollywood had taught Kaoru the device was a suppressor.

Before she could even inquire to why he had a gun drawn, he dropped the bags on the floor and tucked the weapon away. "Pack your things. Take only what you can carry. We're leaving."

Kaoru's throat ran dry, her gut clenching. Instead of outright obeying, she found herself asking, "Why?"

Kenshin was moving even as he answered, pushing open the bedroom door. "The explosions were direct attacks to the group I work for. Both buildings belonged to them."

Kaoru followed behind him and began to tuck things into her duffel bag. "Then our security has been compromised?"

The lack of a verbal reply made Kaoru look back over her shoulder. Kenshin was glancing back at her with an expression that made her nervous. She did not like that look of unease that settled on his features. "There were two explosions. They had planned for three."

Confusion clouded her features, but Kenshin was already moving past her, a bag slung over his shoulders. There was a disgruntled meow as Kaoru heard him tuck Mango into her carrier, forcing her to focus on the task at hand. Once she had her things packed, she backtracked to the living room. Kenshin stood there, his sword tucked into his belt, a couple of bags slung over his shoulder and a cat carrier in hand. He moved to the door, stopping only to pick up the bags he had brought up. Kaoru followed him out, and noted with growing unease that Kenshin walked past the elevator to the stairwell.

Her legs were protesting when they finally reached the base level where the garage was located. The door opened into the parking deck, and they moved quickly past the rows of parked vehicles until they came upon a dark, nondescript SUV. Kenshin had unlocked the doors as they approached and proceeded to put items in the vehicle. Kaoru did not need to be told to get inside, letting him pack as she slid into the passenger's seat.

She felt as if she was running on auto-pilot, and was ultimately letting Kenshin take the wheel. How could she not? This situation was completely overwhelming and it was all she could do to keep herself together.

Her eyes flickered over to something strange as Kenshin began to drive through the garage toward the exit ramp. In the corner was a body slumped against the wall, a bullet hole in the head. Beside him lay an open backpack, and Kaoru could not tell what was or may have once been in it. All that remained was various pieces of plastic-...

Her blood ran cold, mind focusing in on the strange picture Kenshin made walking through the door with a gun in hand, and his words that followed. "They had planned for three."

They had planned to blow up the building she had been staying in. If Kenshin had not been in the right place at the right time...

With a soft sob the young woman drew her knees up to her chest and buried her face in them, her body quivering in the seat.

Jaw set, Kenshin could do nothing but drive.


Kaoru was not sure what day it was. Everything had been a blur, and it was a headache to piece things together. She had no idea how long or in what direction Kenshin had driven. In fact, if one were to ask him how safe of a driver he was, she honestly could not answer. He could have been going down the wrong side of the freeway and Kaoru would have not noticed.

She had paid attention enough when they finally did come to a stop to notice a few things. Mango was yowling as she was wont to do when stuck on a car ride. It was raining outside. And they had parked in front of a little quaint cottage that seemed to belong in a children's movie. She had not asked anything, and now in hindsight she wished she had. It was rather curious and very un-Kenshin-like.

He had promised their safety for the moment, and left with a sincere apology. Thinking back, Kaoru knew he had not wanted to leave her, and felt bad she had worried him so. Now, after a good few days of rest and recuperation, she was thinking much clearly again.

But not too much, because she made the mistake of going into the kitchen to attempt to make food. Her attempt at pancakes was thwarted by realizing the flour that was in the pantry was not self-rising, and she had managed to create some measure of unleavened bread with chocolate chips.

The front door unlocking made her jump and she whirled around, spatula in hand, to see Kenshin entering in through the door. He blinked at her sudden movement, and she thought she might have saw a hint of a smile before he turned to redo the locks on the door. Kaoru noted that for once he had not returned covered in blood, but then took in the time of day. It was late in the morning, perhaps almost noon. Likely, he was not doing his work.

"What are you making?" The question held a note of apprehension, and Kaoru's expression soured, her arms crossing across her chest. This seemed to only amuse the redhead in front of her as he tugged the strings of his boots to loosen them.

"Why that tone?" Kaoru accused, turning her nose up.

"I had plenty of opportunity to hear the cooks shout at you when you entered the kitchen."

Kaoru sighed. Her reputation really did precede her. "Well, I have made pancakes."

Straightening up, Kenshin pulled off his coat and hung it up. "And?"

"...They're a little flat."

"Forgot the baking powder?"

She could hear the amusement in his tone, which made her scowl. "No, you have the wrong flour!"

"Do I?" He placed his holster and gun on kitchen table and crossed his arms over his chest, watching her.

"Yes! Your flour is supposed to be self-rising!"

"Duly noted."

She made a frustrated noise that got a chuckle out of him and turned to her pancake, flipping it and only managing to break it into two pieces. Somehow, even the chocolate chips seemed to be laughing at her.

Kenshin's hand on her shoulder made the hairs on her neck rise. She never could hear him move. His voice in her ear was soothing.

"I am glad to see you lively again, Kaoru."

She could not help but smile.


The situation was bad. Both buildings had been obliterated through the attacks, and there were high counts of confirmed and assumed dead. Kenshin mentally poured through the facts in his head. A sizable chunk of the chain of command were caught in those attacks, which had effectively sent the company into hysterics. The police had swarmed the scenes, which made it exceptionally hard to recover a lot of important documentation and data without catching scrutiny. The surrounding blocks for both buildings had been evacuated. The SNBC building's structure threatened to give way at any moment. At twenty-eight floors, the collateral damage would be immeasurable.

Despite his line of work coming to a complete halt, he found himself with no time for rest. He had not slept since the attacks, and it was not until four days after did he finally manage to break away. Toggling between guard duty and escorting, with a few odds and ends assignments, he found that everyone above him was keeping very tight-lipped about what they did or did not know.

He was not surprised. They knew there was one leak. How many more had there been for the enemy to make their move? And surely he was a red flag for what he was and the lack of "tuning" he had received lately.

That line of thought brought the sobering reality with it.

Dr. Takani was missing.

While he held little attachment for the doctor herself, Sanosuke was fond of her. They had known each other before Kenshin had met Sano, and it tore the other man up to know she had not been found. She was on the assumed dead list, which had set off the younger man's temper. Apparently he had gotten into a fist fight with whomever was in charge of the searches, and was finally ordered to go to a safe house and wait.

Much as Kenshin was being ordered to do.

Of course, Kenshin had been straying from orders quite a bit lately. The little house he had procured was anything but a safe house, and yet he felt it offered more protection than anywhere else in the city. It was his, not theirs, and any leaks or spies, or authority figures could not find him there. They did not know it even existed.

Truthfully, he was not entirely sure why he had originally purchased the property some time ago. Vague plans and escape routes in case things went awry (which they had assuredly done). Now, as he pulled into the drive after taking some extensive scenic routes, he was glad.

Getting out, he locked the door and turned to see the neighbor, a little elderly woman, trying to move a large gardening pot to her little storage shed. With a few light steps he crossed the yard, waving. "Let me help you with that, Ma'am."

She looked up, a little startled, before giving him a weathered smile. "That's awfully kind of you, young man. I'm just not as strong as I used to be. Good to know your generation has not forgotten its manners!"

He offered a half-smile, picking up the pot with ease and carrying it inside. "I try. Where you would like this?"

"Oh, right there is fine. Thank you. You let your wife know she is a lucky young lady, all right?"

Kenshin put the pot down quietly, nodding to her. "Ah, thank you. Good day, Ma'am."

As he walked away, he pondered on whether or not he should say anything to Kaoru about that. The line of thought was interrupted by the smell of something cooking in the kitchen as he pushed the key in the door, and the dread that followed when he realized just what that meant.


It was not until a zombie was chewing on someone's brains on the screen did Kaoru really realize how late it had gotten. Kenshin had eaten the pancakes without a complaint, then disappeared to shower. Some time later found him curling up on the sofa, not wanting to take the bed that Kaoru had been sleeping in. Nothing she said really changed his mind, either, and he was content to bury himself in a fleece blanket and a couple of sofa pillows. The television was on as mostly background noise, and once Kaoru had the dishwasher going, she joined him on the sofa. He stirred, already halfway to slumber, but did little else as she thumbed through channels.

Truly, she had not remembered settling on a zombie flick marathon, but really her mind had been mostly elsewhere. The sun was setting now, and Kenshin had not stirred from his sleep. She wondered if she truly did not wake him when she got up, or if he just pretended to not wake up. She could not tell, and once the dishes were put away and she had made a trip by the bathroom, she returned to the sofa and the movie with the bad body part props.

Really, that heart looked like it had jello on it.

She did not know when she finally fell asleep, but when morning came Kaoru was disturbed to find herself in the bed, and the smell of breakfast coming from the kitchen.

The smell of bacon and coffee was too tempting to resist.


He was leaving again. Not that she had expected him to stay, but there was a different feeling when he left now. Before it was a job. A dangerous job, she knew, but there was something... routine about it. Now with the chaos going on out there, with the knowledge that his resources had waned and things had gone to hell, his line of work suddenly seemed a lot scarier.

Her stomach churned when his phone rang. The tight press of his lips suggested he did not like what he was being told. She could not hear the conversation, and truly she did not expect to have him tell her what was going on.

She was surprised when he explained quietly that he had orders to take out a confirmed leak within the remains of the organization. She did not press for more details, happy to have whatever he felt comfortable telling her. He dressed quickly, exiting the bathroom in all black, utilitarian clothing. His hair was tucked under his shirt, and a scarf was wrapped around the lower half of his face. It had gotten cold outside.

Dressed for bed, in a t-shirt too large and flannel pants, Kaoru watched him secure his sword. It was the first time since they had left his home that he was going out on a job, and she was not sure why it bothered her just so much that he was leaving. She shifted, uneasily as he pulled on a coat and gloves. "I should be back in the morning provided the information I have is correct."

He had never given her an estimated return time before.

"If I am not back within twenty-four hours, you are to pack your things and get out of the city. There is a small box in the closet with essentials. Do not wait for me. The bus stop has a route to the train station. Stay in crowds, in heavy light, and keep the tazer within reach at all times. Do not come back."

He had an escape route already planned for her. She swallowed hard.

"Do not contact anyone you know. Not even Sano. Pretend your life here never existed-"


He paused at his name, lips parted in mid-sentence as he finished tying his boots. His gaze met hers, eyes almost glittering in the dim light of the room. She was quiet for a long moment, her brow furrowing on her features, her long hair damp from a recent shower. She wrung her hands in front of her, a gesture of unease. That he was acting like this made her nervous in ways she could not describe. It made her heart beat rapidly. It made goosebumps form on her skin.

It terrified her, but it also stirred something else in her.

He stood, walking up to her. "Please, Kaoru.-"

There was a brief moment as she moved in that he pulled in a soft breath before her lips touched his. Eyes wide, he stood there as she kissed him. The gesture was soft, but pointed. It held purpose, and held him captive until she pulled away mere moments later. He stared at her, and she met the gaze with fierce determination. "Don't give me a reason to follow those orders, Kenshin. Be back here in the morning."

He exhaled a small puff of air and nodded once. The rush of air as the front door closed was cold against her arms.


She slept somewhat fitfully, tossing and turning through the night. At one point she woke up sweating, and opted to kick off her pants in a half-asleep daze. Come morning, she was both groggy and antsy, wanting to sleep, but unable to quell the unease bubbling within.

She knew until Kenshin was home she would not rest well. Still not fully awake, she walked into the bathroom in a manner somewhat resembling the undead and proceeded through her morning rituals. It was when she was brushing her teeth did she notice the fog on the top part of the mirror that was disappearing.

She blinked, then hurriedly rinsed her mouth out and ran out into the hall. Kenshin looked up from his place in the kitchen, pouring himself a mug of coffee. His damp hair was loose, and he wore only a pair of pajama pants. His eyes fell down to her bare legs, then back up again. "I did not want to wake you."

"You should have anyway," She replied with a relieved sigh, her body relaxing. Reaching up, she ran a hand through messy hair that she had yet to brush. The action pulled the hem of the shirt up on her thighs, barely covering what resided beneath. In her state of still-waking-up she did not notice the way his gaze lingered on her over the rim of his cup. Her words distracted his appreciation. "I was worried."

"It is no different than other jobs," He offered quietly, canting his head at her.

She frowned, crossing her arms over her chest. "If it were no different, you would not have said all that last night. You're concerned, too. Things are different. It's dangerous out there, and I don't want to see you get hurt." Her voice cracked a little, and she grimaced at her own lack of composure.

He was silent, not knowing what to say. Words were not a strong point for him, and in the light of her growing fears and concerns he really was not sure how to best handle them. It was not that he did not care—far from it.

He watched her move further into the kitchen, noting idly the goosebumps on her arms and legs. Placing his mug down, he walked over to her.

She was surprised when he pulled her up against him and wrapped his arms around her. Her chin hit his shoulder, and she shuddered at the sudden invasion of warmth on her senses. He radiated heat, and she sighed, turning her face into the crook of his neck. His hands rubbed along her back, smoothing the material of her shirt underneath calloused fingertips. He nuzzled into her hair, breathing in the scent of her shampoo, and reveling in sensations he rarely experienced.

She shifted in his hold, wiggling her arms loose so that they could wrap around his torso, and the hold she took on him suggested how much she needed this.

He would be a fool to say he did not need it, too.

Gently, one hand came up to the back of her head, fingers smoothing sleep-tossed hair aside. He pulled back to look at her, which forced her to do the same. She was not crying, but the glitter of unshed tears lurked in the corners of her eyes. He was torn between grateful for such sincere concern for him, and distraught that it worried her so.

Trailing his fingers down her jawline and to her chin, he watched her almost sigh at his touch and temptation took over. His hand slid back behind her neck as he dipped in and claimed her lips against his.

He was not sure what he had been expecting, but the way she practically melted against him and began to kiss back tested the boundaries of his self control. Heat spread through his body as he pulled her tighter against him. Her lips were soft against his chapped ones, moving with a building need that was near torturous, and the way her short nails were biting into the muscle of his back was absolutely fascinating.

It had meant to be something simple, something to reassure them both things were all right. It was meant to strengthen their evolving relationship, to be an introduction of possibilities between them. Instead, it was fast spiraling out of control without either of them realizing it. She was more aggressive than he gave her credit for, teeth capturing his bottom lip between kisses all the while her hands roamed along his back, leaving trails of fire in their wake. It made him near-desperate for more, fingers tangling in her hair while his other hand held her tightly to him. And then, she made a noise. A soft whimper when his hand clasped the nape of her neck and that sent him from a simmer to a roiling boil.

His hands slid down to cup her rear, hoisting her up against him. The gasp he got in return was a delicious response, but not nearly as delightful as the way she chose to wrap her legs around him to balance herself, her arms moving up around his neck. He groaned softly into her mouth, only to have it turn into a growl when she squeezed her thighs around him.

He was only half aware of the fact he had moved them to the bedroom by this point, elbowing the door open and practically kicking it shut. That may have been because she had tangled her hands in his hair and was currently showing him what her tongue could do with his. She was making it very hard for him to not just tear her clothes off and pounce. Instead, he somehow found the restraint to plop her onto the bed, going down with her because she refused to unlock her legs around him. He could not complain from that. Now not holding up her weight, his hands were free to explore just what would make her give him more noises like that. Calloused fingers slipped under her shirt, the material riding up as he explored and she writhed against him in a way that was driving him absolutely mad. She had latched onto the junction between his shoulder and neck, suckling with those full, soft lips of hers, and when his fingers found the curve of her breast, she whimpered, arching up against him.

Her reactions made him ache with need, and he gave up trying to take things slow. With little effort, he pulled her shirt off, sending black hair cascading over the tousled bedsheets. She looked absolutely amazing, and he knew there was simply no turning back at this point.

Especially not when she smiled at him.


Kaoru sighed sleepily, lulled by the slow, steady beat of Kenshin's heart. His chest was not the fluffiest of pillows, but at that moment she did not give a damn. Curled up against him, with one leg tossed over his, a sheet thrown over the both of them, and his arm around her shoulders, she could not help but feel better than she had in ages.

She felt him shift underneath her, so she lifted her head to look up at him. Golden eyes watched her quietly, tempered by a softness she had not seen before. She smiled at him, and he gave one of those little smiles back, reaching up with his free hand to brush her hair back. "I have to leave again tonight."

She made a disapproving noise, turning her face in against his chest. "Figures."

"I'm sorry."

"Are you?"

There was a moment of silence after that where she chose to life her head to look up at him. He was staring at her, and it almost looked pained. "Yes, I am."

She sighed, any frustration to the situation dying at his words. "Just... come home to me, OK?"

"I will."


The rest of the day was spent with Kenshin sleeping or invading her personal space in a manner he would not have done before. It was not a drastic change compared to the average person, but for him it was substantial. More than once he pulled her close to hold her, or to place an idle kiss on her skin, or to simply run his fingers through her hair.

She enjoyed the contact, and readily admitted to herself she could get use to such things from him. Still, by nightfall the pit in her stomach had returned as he suited up for the evening. The phone call he had received made him grimace, and she had to wonder if she was getting better at reading him, or if he was just hiding less and less of his emotions from her.

He held her tightly before he left, whispering to her to leave if he did not return within a day's time. She nodded mutely, took the kiss he offered to her, and felt her heart hit her stomach when the door swung shut.

Sleep did not come easy to her, and when it finally claimed her it was well into the night. She jerked awake some time just before dawn, unsure as to what dream woke her up. The images were gone as soon as consciousness returned, and she was only left with a nagging feeling. She hated it when that happened. Pulling herself from the tangle of blankets and pillows on the sofa, she sighed. Kenshin was not back yet, as she was certain he would have woken her up when he got home. However, it was not quite daylight yet, she had no reason to be concerned yet.

Still, she suspected she would not get back to sleep anytime soon. Yawning, she stumbled into the bathroom to clean up, only to find Mango asleep in the sink. She pulled the ball of fluff out of the basin and plopped her out into the hallway, earning a disgruntled meow and flick of a tail. Kaoru ignored her.

The next thing on her agenda was coffee, and after nearly tripping over the cat lying in the shadows of the hallway, Kaoru cursed irritably under her breath and flicked the switch on to the hallway. The result was a flood of light into the kitchen that was not obnoxiously bright, but enough to see her way around without having to fumble. She began to go through her coffee-making routine in a near methodical way. The routine allowed for her brain to wake up, and as it did she started to get the feeling something was off.

She bit down on her lip, idly drumming her fingers on the counter as the coffee brewed. Something was not right, and it was making warning bells go off in the back of her head.

Pulling one drawer open, she rifled idly through the contents, chewing on her bottom lip. Slender fingers wrapped around a rubber handle, feeling slightly better about the weight of it in her palm. Adjusting the grip until she was satisfied, Kaoru sucked in a deep breath, then spun. She stopped short, knife in her hand coming to a halt when cool metal pressed against her forehead. She stared at the man holding the weapon and tried to remember how to breathe.

He was dressed in black, covering clothes, leaving just parts of his face visible. His features were tall and angular, with dark bangs covering his forehead. He towered over her, and she realized her knife would have probably cut his arm instead of his throat.

The realization that she had been aiming to kill made her heart drop into her stomach, and her face burned with shame, even in the face of the danger she was in.

Her assailant regarded her quietly, and she did not lower her hand, knife inches away from his shoulder. He spoke, voice slightly muffled from underneath his turtleneck. "I have a message for Battousai."

The words made her jump, and she nearly dropped her weapon from her sweating fingers. She blinked rapidly at him, before her eyes narrowed. "I don't know who that is."

"Do not play games with me, woman."

Her temper sparked, and she pulled it back with mental reigns. Through clenched teeth, she replied. "This is no game. I don't know who that is."

He stared at her with hard eyes. "The man who stays here with you—"

"Is just a man," Kaoru finished in a pointed hiss. "He is just a man, damnit. Give him some peace."

There was a moment of silence between the two, before the tall man in front of her pulled back, holstering his gun. "My apologies. I have made a mistake."

She stared at him, saying nothing, but her quick, nervous breaths told more than she wanted. He did not wait on her before speaking again. "Tell the man who lives here this..."


Kenshin came home to find Kaoru curled up in the recliner with the fleece around her. She had her knees drawn up to her, and was clutching a kitchen knife in her hand. The puffiness around her eyes suggested she had been crying.

Concerned, he quickly divested himself of his outerwear and shoes in a matter of seconds, peeling the items away from his body. Placing his sword on the sofa as he approached, he assessed her condition. She did not look injured, but something had greatly troubled her. Gently, he reached out and began to pry the knife out of her hand. "What happened?"

She swallowed, her throat dry. "Who else knows about this place?"

His blood ran cold at the question, and his fingers paused on the knife. A swell of anger and protectiveness forced the words from his mouth before he had a chance to temper them, "What happened, Kaoru?"

She shied back at his tone, and he immediately regretted it, pulling the knife free and tossing it back beside his sword. His other hand did not leave hers, and he found her clutching his fingers tightly.

"A man came to visit," She whispered quietly, staring down at the carpet. "I don't know his name. He was dressed for breaking in and had a gun. He wanted to relay a message to you."

He somehow managed to remain quiet and still, letting her continue. Inside, he was raging. She continued, "He said to tell you everything was going to hell, Iizuka played Katsura for a fool, and the project data has been compromised."

Kenshin was quiet for a long moment before he hissed something under his breath that might have been a curse. "Isn't just that. His showing up meant they know where I am, and they probably know I have you with me. In short, we are not safe here."

He pulled her to her feet, ushering her to move toward the bedroom. "Pack your things quickly. We are getting out of the city."

"What of your..."

"I'm through with it. I'm done with it. I want out."


He stopped her, turning her to look at him, grasping her shoulders firmly in his hands. "I want out, Kaoru." His voice was soft, his features pleading. Pressing his forehead against hers, he closed his eyes. "I need you safe. I can't do this knowing what could happen to you."

Any questions, protests or argument she could even think to have died at his words, at the desperation in his voice. Exhaling shakily, she nodded against his forehead. "Whatever you want, Kenshin. Whatever you want."


It was scary, leaving everything she knew behind. Her work, her home, her identity... it was all being put away to memory. The only constants now were the cat in her carrier and the man beside her. In her hands were papers holding her new identity. At least she was keeping her given name. Trying to answer to something else would just be too difficult to manage. Out of the city, it should not be too big of a deal. At least not compared to starting a new life and trying to put an old one behind her.

She glanced at the redhead who was watching the world around them with sharp, calculating eyes. A small smile touched her features, and when his eyes met hers for a brief moment, she saw a slight curve of his lips in return. It was gone a moment later under the return of his vigilant lookout.

As the train left the station, Kaoru glanced back down at the papers and read over the information once again. Quietly, she mouthed her new name, testing the syllables out against her lips. It was like a written symbol of her new life, of how she had adapted and evolved to keep up with the world she was plunged into.

Himura. Kaoru Himura.

It was not Kamiya... but it would do.

Encounters End.


AN: Before anyone asks, I purposely left a lot of things unanswered in this! The focus of the story was supposed to be Kenshin and Kaoru's development. Everything else was supplemental, but I intend to clear most, if not all of that up in the sequel, which I intend to make less focused on KK development and more on the world they are in.

I also apologize for the romance scene. I never know where to cut off for rating's sake, and I'm a bit rusty. Here's hoping it wasn't too disappointing.

Unsigned Review Responses:

Melay: I'm glad I'm not the only one who dislikes Megumi's character. Haha, thanks for reviewing as always!

Joyce: I always do enjoy hearing from you! You have such nice things to say! I am sure I left you wondering on Kenshin's background. Promise it will be explained in the upcoming sequel!

Lady Dot: I do enjoy rewards (and brownies)! So glad you enjoyed this story!

Xx: Thanks for reviewing!

Gin: I love that you can reread it and find things you didn't notice before. I never know if I'm being too subtle, but I try to throw in a lot of little details to see who picks up on what. Thanks again!

J: Aww, a Valentine's troll. Try giving me some actual con-crit if you have something to say. Thanks for the laugh, though!

Thank you everyone for reading this, for those who have reviewed, followed, or favorited. I have greatly enjoyed your feedback and hope to see you all for the sequel! If you intend to read it, you will want to either follow me or keep an eye out in the M-ratings. I intend to have the next piece be a step up in content.