Rurouni Kenshin
Standing Tall

Epilogue - A Night Worth Remembering

Disclaimer: *Glare* NOT MINE.

Kenshin slid the door open to his room and smiled happily. How long has it been since he last slept here? Months, at the least. Dropping his travel bag in the corner, Kenshin started to get aquatinted with his room again. The futon he slept in was folded and pushed against the left wall, while the small chest he never used was pushed against the far wall, a thin film of dust covering it. He glanced up at the calendar hanging on the wall and frowned a bit. The date still said May 14, the day he left.

The rurouni sighed and stepped out of his room, then sat in front of it, resting his sakabatou against on shoulder and bringing on knee up. And how long had it been since he sat here like this? Too long. Kenshin answered himself.

Kaoru rounded the corner to find the ex-hitokiri staring at the courtyard, a serene look on his face. Kaoru smiled and sat next to him. "How does it feel to be home?" Home... Kenshin turned to look down at the young shihondai. A smile found his face. "Sessha is happy to be home, de gozaru."

Kaoru nodded. "Ayame-chan and Suzume-chan are coming over soon...I'm sure they'll be happy to see you."

Kenshin's smile grew. Ayame-chan and Suzume-chan...they're probably angry at me for leaving. He mused, looking up to the setting sun. An idea crossed his mind. "Kaoru-dono, would you like to watch the fireflies tonight, de gozaru ka?" He asked.

"Sessha was thinking of bringing the girls, as well."

Kaoru blushed slightly, lowering her head a bit. "Sure...and I'm sure the girls won't say no either."

And as those words were said, two familiar cheers were heard coming from the front gate, and two toddlers rounded the house at amazing speeds. Their target: One red-headed rurouni.

"KEN-NII!"

Kaoru laughed as the two girls plowed into Kenshin, knocking the poor man over. They immediately crawled on top of him and hugged him tightly. Kenshin chucked and hugged the girls close. Besides Kaoru and his friends, he had missed to girls terribly. They were like little sisters--almost daughters to him, and upon returning to Tokyo he couldn't wait to jump into the normal routines he shared with them.

The rurouni sat up, still hugging the girls tightly. He gently pulled away to look down at them, smiling. "Hello, Suzume-chan, Ayame-chan."

The girls pouted up at him, tears streaming down their face. Kenshin put on his 'Oro?' face. "Doushita, de gozaru ka?"

"You went away!" Suzume wailed, clinging to the rurouni tighter.

Ayame moved to give him a slightly more detailed explanation. "You went away when we were 'upposed to watch the fireflies! And you didn't even say goodbye!"

Kenshin nodded and hugged them close again. "Gomen nasai, Sessha didn't mean to make you upset."

Kaoru watched the three with a mix of happiness and amazement. To think, the man (or boy, depending on how you looked at him) sitting next to her did not look like he just recovered from nearly fatal injuries after saving the future of Japan. In fact, he looked as if he had just returned home from vacation, and was currently hugging the sisters he left behind...

He looks so happy to see them...and they are equally happy to see their Big brother Ken home, finally. Kaoru thought, smiling. She put a fake pout on her face and crossed her arms. "Mou! Ayame-chan, Suzume-chan, don't I get a hug?"

The girls giggled at her fake pout and crawled off their Ken-nii to hug Kaoru just as tightly. "We missed you too, Kaoru-nee-chan!" They said together.

Kaoru looked over the girls heads to Kenshin, who was leaning back on his hands, watching the small group. He gave her a gentle smile and she returned it. She looked down at the girls and pulled away, smiling. "Ken-nii wants to ask you something."

They turned to the red-head, and he chuckled at the excitement in their eyes. "Would you two like to come with Kaoru-dono and me to watch the fireflies tonight, de gozaru ka?"

"Waii! Really, Ken-nii! Just like we were 'upposed to?" Ayame said, clinging to his arm.

"Really?" Suzume echoed, clinging to his other arm.

Kenshin's eyes arched up and he nodded, earning another squeal of excitement from the toddlers. Kaoru giggled. "It's getting late, shall we go?" Kenshin asked, standing up.

~*~*~

They walked along the darkened and lonely street that ran by the river, searching for a good spot to watch the fireflies. As they passed a certain area, Kenshin stopped to look out at the river. This is where...

Kenshin looked to Kaoru, who was also looking out at the river. A small frown was on her face, and Kenshin knew she recognized this area. This is where I said goodbye to her...and she welcomed me back home.

"Ken-nii, is this a good spot?" Suzume, who was sitting on his shoulders, asked as she leaned over to look at the rurouni.

Kenshin looked to Kaoru, who was now looking at him with a smile. Ayame, who was holding her hand, suddenly gasped and pointed out at the river. "Look Ken-nii and Kaoru-nee-chan, I can see one!" She was right; the beginnings of fireflies were already floating around the river, and Kenshin smiled. "This is a good spot, de gozaru."

The group sat down under one of the sakura trees, Suzume in Kenshin's lap, Kaoru on his right side, and Ayame snuggled into his left. More fireflies were beginning to fly around, floating between the trees and around the four, engaged in some sort of dance of lights. Their eerie glow illuminated the area, and the lake shone beautifully.

The rurouni looked at Kaoru from the corner of his eye, and frowned slightly. He could see how Kaoru was uncomfortable about this place, and he didn't blame her. For Kaoru, this place held bad memories back from when he left, and it held the same for him. In fact, it seemed as if there were the same amount of fireflies circling them. Kenshin turned to look at Kaoru, smiling. "They're beautiful, right?"

Kaoru startled a bit, then smiled and nodded. "Hai, they are."

"Oh, look! They're so twinklie!" Ayame exclaimed, tugging on Kenshin's arm.

"Twinklie twinklie!" Suzume echoed, giggling.

Kaoru giggled and turned to watch the fireflies again, her smile fading slightly. Kenshin closed his eyes and leaned his head against the tree. I wish I could tell you, Kaoru...how it hurt to leave her behind. To tell her how it hurt to forget my love for you and to become a rurouni again...but I can't. I can't risk staining your innocence with my tainted soul. But I promise you one thing, Kaoru. I'll never leave again...never. Kenshin mused, sighing slightly.

Kenshin opened his eyes as a firefly landed on the tip of his nose. "Oro?"

The girls giggled, and the firefly floated over to Kaoru, landing on her shoulder. The two met eyes and smiled. Never again. It seemed as if hours had passed, and the silence that had befallen them was broken when the two girls yawned. Kenshin smiled and patted them both on the head. "We should go back, de gozaru. It's late."

Kaoru smiled at the girls protests, but they stood up anyway, rubbing their eyes sleepily. Kenshin stood up and dusted the dirt from his hakama, then offered his hand to Kaoru. The shihondai took it and he helped her up, then let go so she could brush the wrinkles from her kimono. Kenshin looked down at Suzume and Ayame and smiled again. "You two go on ahead. Kaoru-dono and Sessha will be right behind."

The girls jogged ahead, chattering about the fireflies and everything else two toddlers would chat about, while Kenshin and Kaoru followed close behind. As they reached the dojo, they heard Genzai-sensei greet the two. Kenshin paused in front of the gate, a thoughtful look on his face.

"What is it, Kenshin?" Kaoru asked, bringing a fist up to cover her heart.

Kenshin turned to her, gently bringing his hand up to cover Kaoru's. "Sessha promises he will never leave again, de gozaru yo."

Kaoru blushed, suppressing the tears that suddenly threatened to fall. "If you do, your family would follow you, ne?"

Kenshin smiled and nodded. "Aa, they would."

"But Sessha wouldn't leave now...he has a home."

Kaoru nodded happily, and her eyes arched up. Together, they walked into the dojo, hand in hand.

Genzai-sensei smiled to himself when he saw the couple sit down next to him. He turned to the two and nodded. "Okaeri nasai, Kenshin, Kaoru-dono."

"Arrigatou." They replied together.

Genzai-sensei listened as his grandchildren told him about the fireflies, but couldn't help but notice Kaoru and Kenshin's hands. His smile widened. One day, those two will make each other happier than they do now.

Japanese Glossary

Sessha - The way Kenshin refers to himself. Roughly translates to 'This Unworthy One'.

Oyasumi nasai (or Oyasumi) - Goodnight.

Arrigatou gozaimasu - Thank you very much

Arrigatou - Thank you

Bakumatsu - Revolution, referring to the war that Kenshin fought in ten years ago

Tori-Atama - 'Rooster Head', Sanosuke's nickname

Itachi Musume - 'Weasel Girl', Misao's nickname

Kitsune-onna - 'Fox Doctor', Megumi's nickname

Kitsune - 'Fox', another nickname for Megumi

Jou-Chan - 'Little Missie', Sanosuke's nickname for Kaoru

Oniwabanshuu - The ninja group Misao and Aoshi belong to

Kenshin-gumi - 'The Kenshin Group', a name Yahiko came up with to refer to himself, Sanosuke, Kenshin, and Kaoru

Shouji - The paper doors that slide to open

Mou! - 'Geez' or 'Sheesh!'

Hitokiri - Manslayer

Rurouni - Wanderer

Konbanwa - Good Evening

Kamiya Kaashin Ryu - Kamiya Kaashin Style, but I don't know what it translates to Shihondai - Assistant Master

De gozaru (yo, ka) - A polite form of speech. This is how Kenshin ends most of his sentences, and according to the dub, it translates to "That it is" or "That is"

Iya - No

Hai - Yes

Aa - Yes (a guy uses this)

Daijoubu (ka) - I'm alright or 'Are you alright'

Baka - idiot, moron...depends on the way you use it

Gomen Nasai - I'm very sorry

Omnitsu - Ninja

Okashira - Leader

Onna-sensei - 'Woman doctor', some of Megumi's patients call her this

Ohayou - Good morning

-chan - an honorific used on children, roughly translates to 'little (name)'

-san - honorific used on people of the same age or older, roughtly translates to 'Mr, Mrs, or Ms'

-sama - honorific used in high respect, roughly translates to 'Lord'

Kirei - Pretty


A/N: *Sniffle* Waiiii! It's over! I don't want it to end! But alas, all things have to come to an end. I want to thank everyone who reviewed:

Azura Dea, KawaiiChica, CGP, Gypsy-chan, Prudence-chan, Joey, Susan, supernaturalove, Isis 13, lizzie, elyssalyn, Tan Kimiko, Jadet, Trafeane, Kristian, Hana Himura, Kraci, Gideon Rynn, naomi, Eliz, SpawnofKakarot, White Plum, natt, Stillborn Angel, DiaBlo, qUeEr missy, Chiki, and tanuki chan!

You guys made writing this story an enjoyable experience! I hope you all will review my next story (which will be romantic, I hope!), and I'm looking for all of your stories so I can read them and review for you! Until next time, Arrigatou, and Ja ne!