* Disclaimer* All rights to the Rurouni Kenshin Characters are Watsuki-sama's, Jump Comics, etc. All right to the character " Incarnations" Are property of Piers Anthony. There are references made to his book " On a Pale Horse." But you do not need to have read the book to understand what is happening. =) This is only a little fanfic by a crazed Kenshin fan, I'm a poor college art student, and not even worth suing! Enjoy!
Well, I came up with this fic when I still believed Kaoru was dead. But I liked the idea of it so much that I decided to keep on writing it. (Even though it's been established that, yes she IS alive) Consider this a "what if this happened" fic. Kind of like an alternative where Enishi does actually kill her. I know, it sounds awful, but believe me; this ISN'T going to be depressing! I'm determined to make it happy! And to appease all those Kenshin and Kaoru fans out there well >=)
? A little pre-fanfic know-how about "On a Pale Horse."
The incarnations mentioned in this fic are taken from " On a Pale
Horse." In Piers Anthony's book, he takes these aspects of life
and creates people for them-- much like we imagine there being a "Father
Time," and a "Mother Nature." Here, I will be making
references to human incarnations of " Death," "Fate,"
"Time," and "Nature." ( so far-- I don't know what other
ones I shall bring in from his book yet.)
Oh-- Death also rides a horse, Mortus, which can also conveniently be a car (limo), boat, etc. Whatever Death might need as a mode of transportation in the moment.
CHAPTER 17- Regaining Faith
Light streamed in through the windows of the room when Kaoru opened
her eyes. For a moment she didn't know where she was. But quickly
remembered what had happened that night before. She quickly sat up
" Kenshin " She looked around her, but he wasn't there. She wondered if he'd bothered to come home at all last night. The thought of him still being with that girl, sleeping in her bed She clenched her fists, then realized that a blanket covered her. She hadn't bothered to cover herself last night when she'd collapsed on his bed Puzzled, she threw the covers aside and stood up. She straightened out her Kimono quickly and retied her ribbon. She felt a little better than last night. The fatigue was gone from her wings but she still felt a little feverish. Looking back to the bed, she noticed the futon littered with many feathers.
" I've probably got a cold or some sort, I'll ask death about it later. But-there's no time for it now." Se nodded her head in a firm decision. Even if he didn't love her anymore-- she was going to confront him. It was wrong that he hid it from her. And that he actually thought he could get away with it!?
" I think not " she said aloud, answering her own question as she slid the door to his room open violently. She stalked out of the room, turned the corner and tripped over something lying on the ground.
" Ack!" She caught herself before she fell and looked back to see Kenshin lying by the door, fast asleep. Kaoru blinked twice.
She wondered what time he'd arrived home last night. She kneeled next to him and shook him slightly.
" Kenshin-- wake up."
Kenshin opened his eyes with a start at her touch. He looked up to see her face looming over him. He slowly sat up with a sleepy expression.
" Ohayou, Kaoru-dono." Kenshin smiled a little sheepishly.
" Kenshin-- I--"
" -- I'm sorry that I arrived home so late last night. Please-- forgive me!"
Kaoru sat stiffly. He was lying to her to her face! He'd never come home last night.
" I opened my door-- and you were asleep in my bed " He rose and straightened out his Gi. Kaoru stood as well. Her look growing steadily darker.
" So-- I just slept out here. I didn't want to disturb you."
" " Kaoru said nothing. Which made Kenshin look a little uneasy. She clamped onto his arm in one swift gesture.
" You're coming with me we need to talk." She tried to keep her voice as stern as she could. She walked down the steps dragging him behind her and was on her way out the door when a voice stopped her.
" KAORU-SAN! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!"
Kaoru stopped and glanced back to see Yahiko and Misao running out of the kitchen. Misao had an apron on and she waved a large spatula.
" Kaoru-san! I made breakfast for everyone! Himura-san! Good to see you again!"
Kenshin looked at Kaoru dubiously then smiled a 'good morning' to Misao.
" Before you drag him out-- at least have some breakfast!" Misao pleaded with them. Kaoru clenched her fists. She didn't want to wait
" Sorry Misao-chan but Kenshin and I really--
" I'll be HAPPY to have breakfast with you Misao-dono!" Kenshin said enthusiastically. He then grabbed Kaoru by her own sleeve, and began tugging her towards the building. " Kaoru-dono it's the first time Misao-dono has cooked for us, it would be rude to refuse!"
" Yatta! You guys are gonna LOVE what I've made!" She giggled as she raced back into the room.
Kenshin made to follow but Yahiko quickly stopped him.
" You dont wanna go in there Kenshin." He warned.
" But "
" You didn't get the pleasure of WATCHING her cook!" Yahiko gagged. " I'd bet this dojo that she's even worse than Kaoru."
Kaoru glared at him.
" All the same-- I am hungry. And it was very nice of Misao-dono to cook for us." Kenshin walked past Yahiko, still pulling Kaoru along. " Don't you think so Kaoru-dono."
" A-- Aaaa ." She sighed he was right. She didn't want to hurt Misao's feelings. Looks like the confrontation would just have to be saved for after breakfast.
" So! How do you guys like it?!" Misao gave everyone
sitting around the table a warm look. Sano looked down at his food
reluctantly. Megumi was about to take a bite but he quickly stopped
" No Megumi-- I'm trying it first If you eat it, it might be damaging to the baby."
" You baka-- I'm sure it's not THAT bad!" She scolded him.
" " Aoshi was his normal, quiet self. He sat with his plate untouched, a slight sweatdrop alighting his head.
Yahiko summed up all his courage and dug his fork into the grayish-brown mush substance.
" Kaoru-dono, aren't you going to eat any?" Kenshin asked her.
" Heh- I don't have a body that needs feeding! I'm perfectly fine." Kaoru said nervously.
" Ahhh-- I totally forgot about that!" Misao sighed disappointed. " And I'd hoped that you'd like it!
All heads turned to Yahiko who dropped his fork and looked up at Misao completely dumbfounded.
" Yahiko! What's wrong? You don't like it?!" Misao looked at him nervously. Everyone at the table stared at him, waiting for a response eagerly.
" It's-- kinda good." He slowly muttered. He took another bite. " Yeah-- I wasn't imagining it it's definitely better that busu "
Instantly, a storm cloud began to form above his head. Yahiko looked up in fear as rain began to pelt him.
" YAHIKO! YOU'RE GETTING THE FOOD WET!" Misao yelled.
" ORO?!" Kenshin stared at the boy open mouthed, then looked at Kaoru.
" Kaoru-dono did you "
" Every time he calls me ugly " She said with a satisfied grin. Then quickly remembered who she was talking too and flashed him a dirty look. Kenshin blinked at her confused. Then turned his attention back to Yahiko.
" Ok ok! I'M SORRY! SHE'S NOT UGLY!" Yahiko yelled at the cloud. The rain instantly stopped, but the cloud remained where it was.
" What is it this time?" the boy gave Kaoru a dagger eyed glare. She folded her arms.
" The cloud isn't just satisfied with an apology you have to do something for me."
" Hmmm-- what kind of punishment should I do " She thought out loud with an evil grin.
" Why you-- I swear someday I'm gonna--"
" -- You're gonna what?" Kaoru cut him off. Yahiko scowled.
" Nothing "
" That's better."
" Ok then-- Kaoru-SAMA what can I do for you?" He said through clenched teeth.
" I haven't decided yet." She laughed. " Check back with me when I think of something.
" WHAA HAA! MY FOOD!"
Everyone froze as Misao jumped from her seat and pointed an accusing finger at Yahiko. " THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT! MY DELICIOUS BREAKFAST THAT I SLAVED OVER IS RUINED!"
" Erk Umm-- gomen?" Yahiko shrugged his shoulders apologetically.
" GET OUT OF HERE! GO FIX THE DOJO OR SOMETHING! NO MORE BREAKFAST FOR YOU!" Misao screeched. Yahiko got up and ran out the door-- little black rain cloud close on his heels.
Misao sat back down and fumed. Aoshi continued to eat the soggy meal with little expression. Kenshin slowly rose.
" Well-- Time I got going "
Kaoru's hand reached up and before he knew it he was back on the ground.
" OH no you don't-- you're not going ANYWHERE today until I have a little CHAT with you." She said hotly.
" Kaoru-dono what's wrong? Kenshin asked her worried. She blinked. He seemed TOTALLY ignorant! But she knew he was lying-- she'd SEEN them together.
Sano, Megumi, and Misao were watching her; all heads cocked to the side in confusion.
" Umm-- not here come with me." She grabbed him by the Gi and began to walk out.
" ORO " Kenshin found himself being dragged unceremoniously across the floor. He threw Sano a desperate look.
" WAIT A SEC!" Sano called out. Kaoru stopped and turned to him.
" What is it Sanosuke?" She said quickly, her anger still evident in her voice.
" Before you go and beat the crap out of Kenshin-- I have no idea what he's done that's none of my business. But-- before you do I want to remind you of your promise.
" My promise?"
" You dont remember?" Megumi looked at Kaoru amazed.
Kaoru felt her face growing red. "Ummm---"
" Ohh-- baka girl!" Megumi shook her head. " You were going to help me with shopping and preparations for tomorrow!"
" The WEDDING remember?"
" TOMORROW? THE WEDDING IS TOMORROW?" Kaoru cried.
" Kaoru-san, you really forgot?!" Misao's mouth dropped open in shock.
" Oh my Oh Megumi-san! I'm sorry!" Kaoru bowed to her repeatedly. In all her anxiety over Kenshin-- she'd completely forgotten about the wedding!
" Yeah-- that's why we've been pressing to finish the dojo so bad. We're having the ceremony and party here. That and Yahiko wants to start the school up as soon as he can to get some cash rolling in." Sano said.
" Yahiko is going to teach Kamiya Kasshin Ryu?!" Kenshin said surprised. Kaoru hit up upside the head.
" BAKA! If you were ever AROUND then you would have known!"
" Speaking of which heads up Kenshin!" Sano yelled.
Sano threw a metal object at him. Kenshin brought his hands up and caught it.
" Guess what Kenshin! You're a lucky guy cause you get to finish the dojo repairs-- ALL BY YOURSELF TODAY!"
" Sano " Megumi objected.
" Hmph-- it's time he did some of the work." Sano said to Megumi sternly. She couldn't argue with that. Sano looked at Kenshin. "Megumi, Yahiko, Misao, Aoshi, Kaoru, and I have been working nonstop to fix the dojo-- and you've contributed absolutely NOTHING to the process."
" Oro? Sessha? But--"
" -- Not now Sano I need to talk to Kenshin!" Kaoru stated flatly.
"Kaoru-san, I thought you were going to come shopping with me!" Megumi said.
" But--" Kaoru didn't want to loose this opportunity to talk with Kenshin. " But-- can't MISAO do it? Im dead!"
" Kaoru-san you were so excited to help out before!" Misao said. " Aoshi-sama and I are going to be decorating all day long. We're going to be busy with other things."
Kaoru looked to Megumi, then down at Kenshin, then back to Megumi. She sighed heavily and released Kenshin's Gi.
" Oro!" The redhead fell flat on his back. Kaoru stepped over him and bowed to Megumi.
" I'm sorry Megumi-san. Shall we go then?"
Later, Kaoru walked up the street with Megumi. But her mind was elsewhere.
" Kenshin doesn't love me anymore- but, I have to be strong about it! I've cried enough. I'm still his guardian angel-- I still have a bond to be with him and guide him. Well-- that's EXACTLY what I'm going to do!" She nodded determined. " That's right-- I've gotta forget I ever loved him! That's the best way to do this. Kenshin and I can never be together So I'll just be his friend-- but-- " She sighed heavily " That's a lot easier said than done "
" Kaoru-san." Megumi said quietly. Kaoru shifted her attention to Megumi abruptly.
" Oh-- Hai? Megumi-san?"
" You're thinking about Ken-san aren't you? That talk you wanted to have with him "
" It's nothing really! Just some guardian-angel to client advice." That wasn't exactly a lie-- She hastily tried to change the subject. " So-- have you gotten your wedding Kimono yet? What does it look like?"
Megumi blushed. " Well-- I haven't seen my family for a long, long time. I don't know where they are-- but, Dr. Genzai lent me his wife's wedding Kimono that was very generous of him. It's a stunning kimono."
" Oh-- how nice of him! What does it look like?"
The shopping was long and tedious. It was the afternoon when
Kaoru and Megumi arrived back at the clinic.
" Arigato Kaoru-san. Would you like to come in and have some tea?"
" No thank you-- I can't drink or eat anything remember?" Kaoru smiled at her.
" Oh yes-- so silly of me! I guess having you around makes me still think you're alive " She was silent for a long time. They stood at the door to the clinic.
" I " Megumi sounded hesitant. " I lied to you and put Sanosuke up to this-- you never promised to take me shopping "
" Huh?" Kaoru blinked.
Megumi bit her lip. " I took advantage of the fact you've lost your memory-- I'm sorry."
" No-- it's ok!" Kaoru waved her off. " I really had a nice time with you."
Megumi ignored her comment. "I've been trying to think about how to go about saying this all day long-- so, now I guess it has to be said. I know you care very deeply for Ken-san "
" N-Nani? Heh-- of course I don't He's just my client, I have to look out for him--"
" You're not fooling anyone!" Megumi looked at her icily. Kaoru felt her determination waver under the woman's stare. " Back to what I was trying to say earlier -- I"
" Why don't you show me your wedding kimono!" Kaoru hastily tried to change the subject.
Again, Megumi ignored her. "-- I see how you've been behaving lately he's been going away so often And you just sit around and let it happen!"
" But-- I have no right to interfere with--"
" No right? Don't give him us so easily Kaoru-san."
" What's that supposed to mean? Heh--"
Megumi looked at her very seriously. " I can tell you're angry at him about something. I wanted to have this talk with you before you talked with him. Don't you dare make Ken-san unhappy because he loves you very deeply. "
" No-- he doesn't lo--"
" HE DOES! Ken-san is not the type of person who would change his mind. You probably think there's another woman. I'm not blind, I KNOW he's been gone lately-- "
" But-- I SAW THEM together!" Kaoru couldn't believe she was hearing this and just after she'd decided to put it all behind her.
" Has he told you yet?"
" No! He's been hiding it from me?"
" And do you honestly think Ken-san is that kind of person? Who would hide something that important from you?"
" I bet there's more than meets the eye-- I refuse to believe that Ken-san would hurt you. So when you go to talk to him, don't you dare accuse him of anything. Don't risk your relationship! I'm furious that you would actually lose faith in him "
" Lose-- faith?"
" Yes-- Don't be such a baka girl Even as an angel you're still as ignorant and immature as you've always been "
" M-- Megumi-san " Kaoru began to feel the anger rising in her. " You have NO idea what I've been going through-- how can you say that!? I Ok fine-- I LOVE him but I'm not allowed to interfere with any decisions that he makes!"
" On who's authority?!"
" THE ARCHANGELS!"
" " Megumi was silent. For once, she couldn't think of anything to say back. She took a step towards the door and opened it. " Gomen But-- Kaoru-san '
Kaoru looked up at her, blinking away tears hastily. "Hai?"
Megumi thought for a moment, then smiled at her. " Believe in Ken-san don't jump to conclusions. There's more here then meets the eye-- I'm pretty sure. Thank you for the wonderful day."
Megumi quickly shut the door in her face. Kaoru stood totally still. She turned around and began walking back towards the dojo. The day had worn her out. Her head swam, and her wings felt heavy and awkward like last night. She sighed heavily
" I've lost faith in him " She muttered to herself. " It's true-- I should have faith in Kenshin. But-- What I saw-- and HEARD there's no denying that!" She clenched her fists, the pretty face of the blond girl drifted through her mind. " Im gonna find out the truth-- once and for all." She thought of what Megumi had told her. " Megumi-san was right it's not like Kenshin at all to behave like this. So why? There is more here than he's letting on--"
She arrived back at the dojo to find the entire courtyard streaming
with decorations. Paper lanterns, flowers, ribbons... the dojo was
sparkling like glass. Yahiko lounged on the porch with a fan.
" Jeez-- it's so damn hot " he muttered annoyed. The cloud still hovered over him. He opened one eye as an idea hit him.
" Busu." He said to Kaoru as she passed by him.
The cloud instantly began to pour. Yahiko sighed contentedly as the cool rain pelted his face. " This curse has its up-sides "
" Hmph!" Kaoru threw him an ugly look, the walked over to Misao.
" Misao-chan! Where is Kenshin?"
Misao looked up from her work of trimming some of the bushes. " Oh! I think he's still finishing up on the dojo.
Kaoru walked around the side of the building hastily and found Kenshin clearing away the pile of old wood and debris. The wall was repaired. And looked good as new.
" Kenshin." Kaoru softly called him to attention.
" Ah! Kaoru-dono Konnichiwa." Kenshin said as he walked from the gate and deposited the pile of splintered wood on the ground just outside.
" Kenshin-- I want to talk to you now." Kaoru followed him outside.
Kenshin wiped his brow. " Not now Kaoru-dono, I need to finish this up "
" Now " She said sternly. She stood in-between him and the pile he was supposed to clear. Kenshin sighed heavily.
" Hai-hai I'm listening."
Kaoru looked around. " Not right here, where we can get interrupted. Come with me." She took his arm and let him down the street and into the woods which outskirted Tokyo.
" Kaoru-dono I don't think we'll be bothered here. We don't need to go this far-- oro!"
He halted quickly, trying to keep from running into her as she stopped suddenly and then turned to him. They were in a small clearing, the light filtered down through the trees illuminating the forest in an angelic-like light.
Kaoru turned to him. The look on her face was not one of anger, like this morning Kenshin couldn't quite make it out-- hurt? Forlorn? Or maybe even sadness?"
" Kaoru-dono please tell me what is so important." He felt his own heart quicken as she looked at him. She stood very still. In the light, it was like she was a statue. The beautiful marble statue of an angel of old antiquity. Just looking at her made Kenshin beside himself with awe. Awe of not only beauty, but also power, and majesty.
Finally, Kaoru spoke. " Kenshin-- I still remember that night, when you told me that you loved me."
Kaoru watched him carefully. He seemed completely unaware of the reason she had brought him here. There had to be a reason why-- Kenshin wasn't that good of an actor to try and hide it from her. And he had a terrible poker face.
" At first, it troubled me " Her voice shook. " I was scared And I didn't want to hurt you-- but being with you for these past few months---"
" --Kaoru-dono '
"--- I guess, I got too used to it. To being constantly watched by you, I was spoiled by all that attention. Gomen-ne and now you've been going off by yourself recently. And I felt rejected. And I felt alone. It felt like you didn't need me, you didn't need the protection of a guardian angel anymore."
" --But "
Kaoru flashed him a look, Kenshin quieted. She sighed and sank onto the grass. Kenshin reluctantly sat next to her.
" -- And so I went looking for you one night."
Kenshin's eyes shot open.
" And-- I found you just last night."
" Kaoru-dono I--"
" With this GIRL!" She wasn't going to let him stop her. She felt her heart burst as she said those words. She couldn't help it. Her mind shattered and she had no walls left. Tears sprung forth in her eyes.
" I've cried and cried I try to understand, but I don't! You went with her last night. And I was so angry angry that you would hide it from me. I fell asleep in your bed thinking that it was the end. But then Megumi-san told me to have faith in you. That I shouldn't rush at you with accusations. I try and tell myself that I'm being stupid I'm dead-- you're alive. And you deserve someone living and breathing, with a body that you can touch-- I was jealous! Jealous-- and at the same time devastated because I've realized---"
She stopped as she felt him gather her into his arms. He hugged her tightly to him. His body felt so warm. Kenshin whispered into her ear.
" What did you realize?"
" That-- I'm in love with you " She said softly.
The act of telling him sent a tremor of excitement up her spine. Being in his arms was something she'd dreamed of. And it was happening. Forget rule number 3, she wanted to be with him. Was that so bad? Was that so WRONG? She loved him too deeply to put into words. But being as they were made her feel truly content for the first time in months.
Kenshin smiled into her hair. He tightened his embrace, feeling her body relax and mold to him. He inhaled the sweet Jasmine scent. Then sat back away from her, caressing her tearstained cheeks with his callused hands.
" Kaoru-dono I'm so happy."
He put his finger to her lips, stopping her. His face became suddenly serious.
" Don't be scared. Because there is nothing going on between me and Christina-dono "
Kenshin shook his head. Kaoru was silent.
" The truth of the matter is that I've been working.
" Hai-- I took a job as a bodyguard for a short time. Getting paid by the hour. Christina-dono's father is American, her mother was Japanese, and her family is very wealthy in trading with America. Recently-- there have been kidnap attempts on her, probably to hold her for ransom. And her father needed someone who would protect her for the short time she's in Japan."
" But-- she asked you to go to bed with her!"
Kenshin blinked back startled. A blush crept across his face" She asked me to spend the night, as in watch over her! She was scared because her father wasn't in the house and someone may try and take her in her sleep. It has happened before. But I certainly did NOTHING with her! I SWEAR!"
Kaoru's mouth hung open. "But-- she KISSED you!"
" She probably has a teenage crush on me-- and in America, a kiss on the cheek isn't as heavily weighed as in Japan."
Kaoru looked at the ground. She'd been completely misled. She was so glad that she hadn't accused him. Megumi had been right.
" So, are you finished working?"
" Aa.." he nodded affirmatively.
" She's gone back to America?"
" Hai--with her father. He's left his associates in Japan, to take care of business here.
" Kenshin-- why did you take the job in the first place?"
Kenshin sighed heavily. " I was hoping to tell you this stuff tomorrow seeing as it is Tanabata."
Kaoru's face reddened. She'd completely forgotten, so Sano and Megumi's wedding was on Tanabata
" But-- because of the circumstances, I suppose today will have to do. I took the job to buy you this." He pulled a small box from his Gi.
Kaoru brought her hands to her mouth in surprise. " Kenshin "
" I hope that you are able to wear it-- I remember last year, when I gave you one not knowing what it meant but, this year I wanted to change that. " his face was set in determination, he opened the box and Kaoru gazed down at the ring. A small, perfectly cut crystal was set into the gold band. " It's a small crystal-- all I could afford. But, I want you to wear it."
Kaoru was totally speechless. Kenshin held up the ring. And, acting on her body's impulses, she brought up her left hand to receive it. Kenshin slid it onto her ring finger. It fit her perfectly. She looked at it and then up into his purple gaze, tears flowed anew down her cheeks.
" Kenshin it's so beautiful! Thank you " She clasped her hands together at her chest, running her fingers over the ring. Kenshin smiled down at her and gathered her up into his arms again.
" I would ask you to marry me if you were alive " he whispered. " I love you."
" I love you too. I love you so much! And if I was alive, I would say yes." She slid her arms around him and returned his embrace, burying her head in his chest. "
" But-- I think the term 'soul mate' would still apply. Right?"
Kaoru laughed into his Gi. "Yes."
They held each other tightly for a long time. The yellow rays of the sun grew dimmer and dimmer as they fell behind the trees. Kenshin brought his hands up and cupped her face in his hands. He looked deeply into her eyes, he could see his reflection in the deep pools of blue. Those eyes that always cried tears for him. He would never allow them to cry again. He wiped away the tears with his thumbs.
" You don't need to cry anymore." He whispered.
Kaoru's heart leapt in her chest with anticipation as he brought his lips slowly closer to hers. She didn't give any resistance. She closed her eyes as she felt him brush against her lips, hesitate, and then drew her in fully. Holding her in a passionate embrace, he kissed her for the first time.
He kissed her long, and hard, drinking her lips to the fullest like he'd been longing for, ever since he'd first met her. And now, she was finally his.
A gust of wind came up and blew around them in a flurry, sending feathers swirling like dry autumn leaves. Both lovers too preoccupied to notice the feather's peculiar color-- that of a dull, lead Grey.