* 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 30- Man and Soul
“ Don’t worry—we’ll make it.” He smiled reassuringly. His hand slid down from her cheek to hold her chin between his thumb and forefinger. " From now on, I won't let anything hurt you, nothing! I'm not letting you go again!"
Kenshin guided her face up towards his and Kaoru closed her eyes, she felt his warm lips touch hers. Her embrace instantly tightened about his shoulders.
" I want to float like this forever…" She thought to herself. " Forever…"
Kaoru let the moment envelope her completely, allowing herself to be lost in his embrace, in his kiss, and his scent. He was all she needed.
" Kenshin--" She whispered as he pulled away from her gently. He smiled and kissed her nose.
" Hai?" His voice was soft and husky.
She blushed, then quickly lowered her gaze. " Nothing…"
His eyes crinkled at the corners ever so slightly in response to the smile which slid over his face. He wrapped his arms around her waist tighter. " That was a blush."
Kaoru smiled, trying her best to hide her burning red face behind a curtain of black hair. " No it wasn't!"
" Koishii …" He coaxed, nuzzling into the crook of her neck, giving light, feathery kisses. " What are you thinking?"
Kaoru blushed even harder at the pet name, those kisses made her heart flutter and she snuggled into him more. " I…"
His head shot up from its exploration and he looked at her with twinkling eyes. "Hai de gozaru?"
" We're here." The low voice of Death interrupted their reunion. The light began to fade and Kenshin was floating downwards slowly, his feet touched solid ground and the brightness about them faded until they could see their surroundings again plainly. However, this didn't make Kenshin loosen his grip on Kaoru any. They held each other tightly, beyond caring whether Fate or Death were watching.
" What were you going to say?" Kenshin whispered into her ear.
Kaoru bit her lip and looked at Thanatos out of the corner of her eye. Then shook her head. " I'll tell you later."
" Promise?" Kenshin grinned.
Kaoru opened her mouth to respond but Fate intervened.
" Ok! Enough with the lovey dovey stuff we've got to get moving!"
" Oro?" Kenshin loosened his grip on Kaoru, allowing her feet to touch the ground. She stepped away from him and took in their surroundings.
" Where are we?" She asked. The land looked like the far country. Rolling green hills surrounded them and a small dirt road ran past a tiny outcropping of knarled trees in the distance. A warm breeze played through her hair, rustling the leaves at the same time.
" This is the outskirts of purgatory." Death said.
" How much time?" Kenshin asked.
" 6 minutes left." Fate responded urgently, holding out her hands with six fingers spread for emphasis. Death nodded and pushed a few buttons on his watch. In the blink of an eye, his Pale Horse descended like a bolt of lightning before them. It instantly materialized into the long stretch Limousine.
" Ooohh…" Kaoru's eyes widened in amazement. " Kenshin-- what is--?"
" --It's Death's horse." Kenshin explained quickly. He took Kaoru by the hand and hurried her towards the door of the car. Kenshin opened it and gestured for her to enter. " Watch your head."
" It's ok, I've ridden in it before." Kenshin smiled and nodded his head in reassurance. " I'll be riding with you. Daijobu."
Kaoru gingerly sat down on the leather seat, careful to keep her Kimono modestly closed as she lifted her feet onto the carpeted interior.
" Now, scoot over." Kenshin said softly, peering down at her. Kaoru nodded nervously and scooted to the far side of the seat as Kenshin climbed in after her. Fate followed and sat across from them.
Thanatos was already sitting behind the wheel by the time those in back were situated. " Mortus! Let's go home and FAST!" He commanded. The engine seemed to purr in response and just as fast as it had come. The car jolted into action. Kaoru toppled over onto Kenshin as it took off in the direction of Death's mansion in purgatory.
" Are you ok?" Kenshin helped her to sit up again. " I've gotten kind of used to this thing."
" Heh-- It's so strange!" Kaoru said softly. She looked around in amazement. "What IS this?"
" Death calls it an 'automobile'." Kenshin explained.
" They'll be very popular in 40 to 50 years." Fate explained. "This is a 90's model."
Kaoru furrowed her brows. " 90's?"
Fate laughed nervously. " Oh-- Time gives us little tidbits of info about the future like this. Do you know that in the future, you'll be able to talk to people around the world as easily as you're talking to me?"
Kaoru looked at her astounded. " Really!?"
" Uh huh!" Fate nodded her confirmation. " Not only that-- but you'll be able to SEE all sorts of different places around the world on a box about this big that everyone will have in their home." She made a box shape with her arms for emphasis. " Like the Kabuki Theater, there will ALWAYS be plays and dramas on 24 hours a day!"
Kaoru glanced at Kenshin, who shrugged with a sweatdrop.
They hadn't been travelling for more than must have been 30 seconds before the car halted with a screech, sending both Kenshin and Kaoru toppling onto the floor of the car in an ungraceful tangle of arms and legs.
Fate snickered. " You should be wearing seatbelts too."
Kenshin sat up with his hand to his head. " Jeez-- now you tell us."
" Itai--" Kaoru sat up next to him.
" Kaoru-- daijobu?"
" Come along." Fate opened the door and motioned for them to get out. " We have only minutes left!"
Kenshin helped Kaoru out and they all hurried into the building. Death led the way into his study.
" You have 4 minutes so hurry up!" He gestured towards Kenshin's body; it was still slumped over on the couch, exactly as he'd left it. Kenshin shuddered at the sight. His body looked horribly pale. Even his usually bright red hair looked a few shades lighter in contrast.
" K-Kenshin!" Kaoru whispered appalled. Even with the soul of Kenshin standing next to her, holding her hand… the very sight of his body so still and pale sent a shiver up her spine. Kenshin gave her hand a reassuring squeeze.
" It's fine, my body isn't dead yet."
" Stop talking! Hurry up!" Death said with increasing urgency.
" Shut up and let them say their good-bye's." Fate muttered as she took Death by the arm and started pulling him towards the door.
" When he goes back into his body, he won't be able to touch her, they'll be man and ghost." Fate said matter-of-factly. " So leave them alone for the remaining minute!"
Kaoru glanced back at Fate who closed the door after she dragged a protesting Death out into the hallway. Then she swung her head back to look at Kenshin. He was staring at his body with eyes wide.
" Kenshin…" She brought her hand up to rest on his shoulder. " Is Fate right? When you go back into your body… I won't be able to--"
" - I know." He said.
" But…" She bit her lip. " Kenshin! If you go back into your body then…" Her hand fisted the material of his Gi. It felt real to her-- but if he went back… Kaoru shook her head. "No! What are you thinking? Selfish girl!"
Kenshin looked at her sadly, he couldn't think of anything to say. Kaoru just looked down at the ground. " K-Kaoru…"
Kaoru blinked up at him, trying her best to keep her voice level. " Will I be able to be with you?"
He blinked confused. " Be with me?"
" I mean… If we can convince God?"
" I…" He averted his gaze from her, frowning slightly.
" Can I?" Her voice was strained, Kenshin could tell she was doing everything in her power to keep from crying. " Can I?"
" …I don't know…"
Kaoru lowered her eyes.
" The most important thing…" he began carefully. " …Is that you don't end up in Hell or Purgatory. That you're sent back to Heaven…" He clenched his teeth. Remembering his conversation with Gaea.
" That's the tragedy of life sometimes. You're alive, she's dead-- and after this trial, you will have to return home to Earth. She will never be allowed to follow you--even if she is allowed to return to Heaven. You will have to eventually separate. That is the reality of the situation."
According to the Incarnation of Nature, there was no way Kaoru would
be allowed back to Earth… But-- her eyes were so wide and sad; Two tears
trickled down her cheeks as she looked at the ground. He couldn't
just tell her that that there was no hope…
" But if--" He set two fingers under her chin and lifted her head up, forcing her eyes to meet his. Kaoru blinked back her tears momentarily as he gave her a reassuring smile. "If we can convince God, then I'm sure there would be some way for you to return to Earth with me."
" W-What if God doesn't let me go back to earth." She began quietly. " You'll have to return anyways and…" She allowed her sentence to trail off, scared to finish the thought.
Kenshin nodded hesitantly. " Yes, if that's the case, I'll return to Earth, and you to Heaven without me."
" No-- Heaven won't be Heaven if I'm not with you." She tightened her grip on his Gi.
Kenshin brought his hand up to cup her cheek, looking into her eyes intensely. Kaoru returned his gaze with determination, her brows furrowed ever so slightly and her mouth set in a slight frown. She looked almost pouty.
" Kaoru…" Kenshin began. " The most important thing to me is that you're safe… That you're not suffering or hurt. I'd walk through Hell all over again in order to safeguard your happiness."
She shook her head stubbornly. " I won't be happy if I can't be with you!"
Kenshin sighed. " We'll just have to wait and see what happens--"
" --DON'T you feel the same!?" She burst, she tore her hand out of his grasp and stepped away from him, looking at him accusingly. " You sound as if you don't care whether we're together or not!"
" Kaoru-- what are you talking about? Of course I want it! Only--"
" Only what?"
" Only Gaea told me that it's impossible for us to be together!"
Kenshin stood with his mouth hanging open, instantly sorry that he'd said anything at all. Kaoru looked at him stunned, her eyes wide in shock.
" K-Kenshin… what? Who's Gaea? What are you talking about?"
" Before you were sent to Hell, I met the Incarnation of Nature. Gaea… we had a long conversation. She's the only who gave me the flower, which ultimately made it possible for me to see past Satan's illusion and rescue you. She told me that there was no way you would be allowed to go to Earth."
Kaoru was silent and Kenshin lowered his gaze, slumping his shoulders in defeat. The truth was out.
"The best hope that we have is that God lets you go back to Heaven." Kenshin said sadly. " There is no way you'll be able to return home with me."
Kaoru shuddered, how could he say it so lightly? She clenched her fists and shook her head.
" I don't believe it!"
" NO!" She shook her head angrily. " How? What's this whole adventure about? What was the point?! If we're destined to part anyways why not just LEAVE me in Hell!"
" I'll suffer in one place or another! I don't care which, Hell would be better suited to me--"
" Kaoru STOP this." Kenshin grabbed her arms. " DON'T say such things!"
" …" She refused to meet his gaze.
" I love you Kaoru." Kenshin whispered, he stepped closer and folded his arms around her, she stood rigid, still refusing to look at him. " But--" He coaxed, " If I can't be together with you, I at least want you to be happy in your afterlife… Who would want the one they love to be unhappy? In Life or in Death… it doesn't matter because even if I can't follow you, I'll always love you."
Her eyes quivered now, she stole a glance at him. Kenshin's gaze instantly hooked her and she turned her head to face him fully. ]
" So-- when I'd heard you were sent to Hell-- I… I just went out of my mind thinking about it. I couldn't imagine you…" He closed his eyes tightly, lowering his head so that his long fringe of red hair could conceal the droplets that involuntarily slid down his cheeks. Kaoru gasped as his shoulders started to shake. " And so-- I had to save you… I almost killed myself to save you! I love you so much--"
" Kenshin!" Kaoru threw her arms around him, hugging him in a tight embrace. "Stop! Don’t say anymore, you don't need to." She felt his body instantly tense up at her sudden embrace.
" Kaoru…" His voice shook. " But--"
" Shh… I know… I understand now." She tightened her grip, feeling him slowly relax in her arms. " I'm so sorry Kenshin! I was being so selfish."
" Selfish? You?"
" I--" She looked down. " I can only think of myself right now. It's horrible… because all I can think is that I don't want to be parted from you. But you-- you only thought of me. This entire time… you just wanted me to be safe. "
" I had to protect you."
"I understand that now. But-- even if I can go back to earth as a ghost, I wouldn't be able to-- to hold your hand like this…" She brought one hand down, coaxing his tightened fist to open and threaded her fingers with his. Kenshin opened his eyes and watched her silently.
"… Or do this…" She brought his hand to her lips, kissing his knuckles softly before she turned her head away, choking back a sob. " So…part of me really doesn't want you to go back into that body… Forgive me… "
" Kaoru…" Kenshin brought his other hand to rest on her cheek. She closed her eyes tightly and took a deep breath. " Kaoru-- part of me doesn't want to go back into my body either. But if I didn't… then that would be suicide."
Her eyes flitted open, she bit her lip tightly and then a sad smile crept across her face. " It would… wouldn't it? I'm so stupid-- I--"
Kenshin suddenly leaned into her, kissing her tenderly. Kaoru's heart leapt in her chest as his arms folded around her in a tight embrace. She allowed herself to be held, melting in his strong grip. His hot tears mingled with hers, and the warmth his soul radiated spread throughout her. Kaoru folded her arms around his waist, opening her mouth to allow his tongue entry. Would this be the last time she could feel those lips on hers? And that red hair brushing against her cheek? The warm, secure feeling of being held in the arms of the person you love?
" Don't make me leave him…" She prayed silently. " Even if I'm just a Ghost, I want to be with him!"
Kenshin released her hesitantly and stepped back towards his awaiting body.
" Kaoru?" He voiced her name as a question. As if he was asking if it was ok with what he was about to do. Kaoru brought her hands up and clasped them tightly over her heart. Then, she slowly nodded her head in agreement.
With her compliance, he carefully sat back down into his body.
Death tapped his foot impatiently. " Fate-- if he doesn't
make it, it's all YOUR fault."
" Himura wouldn't do that."
" Oh really? You haven't seen the love his has for that girl-- he'd do anything for her-- and you saw the look on her face when you told her they wouldn't be able to touch each other or anything!"
" Kaoru-san wouldn't ask him to give up his life! He knows the consequences of that!"
" I think he's progressed a little bit since the first time you met him!"
" He KILLED himself because of her!"
" You're starting to become just as anal as the Archangel!" Fate snickered at him.
" DON'T EVEN get me started on the archangel!!!" Death turned on her, his gaze darkening considerably.
They both glared at each other for what seemed a full minute until a sudden cry penetrated the ominous silence.
" FATE!" Kaoru passed through the door like a whirlwind, her eyes wide with horror. " FATE! Kenshin-- KENSHIN!"
Fate turned towards her in shock as Kaoru pointed towards the closed door in earnest.
" He's sick or something! Help him! Kenshin--"
" Sick?" Both Fate and Death lunged for the door at the same time and flung it open, tripping over each other as they both pushed through the narrow doorway.
" Grr-- FATE! Get off my cloak!"
" YOU'RE stepping on it baka!" Fate gave him a sharp smack upside the head and while Death tried to gain back his senses, turned to take a good look at Kenshin. She stopped short at the site that befell her.
Kenshin lay on the ground next to the couch, sweat broke out all over his face, his body shivered convulsively. His violet eyes were contracted to mere pinpoints, open wide in shock.
" What's wrong with him!? Fate-- Death… " Kaoru knelt next to him and tried to put her hand on his shoulder, it simply passed through his body. Kaoru bit her lip hard, clenching her other fist in a tight ball. " Kenshin!" She demanded. " What's wrong? It's me! Don't you hear me?"
"C-C-cold…" Kenshin contorted into a tight ball, arms wrapped around his body trying desperately to retain any form of heat.
" HE'S COLD!" Kaoru said frustrated. " Fate! Help him! HELP KENSHIN!!"
" Death!" Fate cried. " Get blankets!"
Death nodded and hurried out he door, Fate walked over to Kenshin and put a reassuring hand on his shoulder.
" Himura-san?" She said softly. " Can you hear me?"
Kenshin's head turned towards her, but his eyes remained unfocused. " Fate?"
" That's right. You'll be ok-- be patient and it will pass..."
" What's wrong with me? I- I'm so cold! And I can't see!"
" Kenshin! Hang on!" Kaoru's voice broke with worry.
" K-Kaoru?" Kenshin whispered, a small smile spread over his face despite his chattering teeth. At least now he was aware of others around him.
Death was back in seconds with an armful of blankets.
" I had some of my staff make him some tea. They should be in here shortly. " He said briskly. He lifted Kenshin up easily, helping him to lie down on the couch and covered him. Kaoru sat next to him, whispering soothing words into his ear.
" Shhh- It's all right. You made it, you're back in your body now and it'll all be ok."
Gradually the convulsive shivering subsided and his muscles slowly relaxed. A woman arrived with the tea and Fate had to help Kenshin drink it by lifting his head and holding the steaming cup to his lips.
"It's good he's able to swallow it all on his own." Fate said as she gently lay his head back onto the pillow; Kenshin was already sleeping soundly. " He'll be ok, he must have entered JUST when his body was reaching its critical point between life and death. With that sudden rejoining of body and soul, it really shook him up."
" What about his sight?" Kaoru asked.
" It'll probably be back when he wakes up." Fate said.
" When will that be?"
" He's been through an awful lot dear." Fate put a hand on her shoulder. " He and Thanatos journeyed through Hell itself to find you, let him sleep now."
Kaoru nodded slowly, her eyes not leaving Kenshin's peaceful visage. " What do we do know?"
" Let's let him sleep right now. We still have a lot of things to take care of before we all meet to hold the final trial." Death said.
" Yes, I'm sure Thanatos has a lot of paper work and stuff that needs to be done. Right Thanatos?"
" Nee-- when is the trial going to be?" Kaoru asked.
" Tomorrow." Fate winked at her. " That's why Thanatos has a lot of work to get done!"
" Oh yeah-- but AFTER I take a nap." Death grinned and then turned to walk out the door. " Oyasumi!"
" Thanatos!" Kaoru's voice stopped him; he turned to look at her
She stood up straight, her eyes quivered but she managed to meet his gaze evenly.
" Thank you so much!"
Thanatos nodded solemnly. " You're welcome, but it's not over yet. You should get some clean clothes and some rest."
Kaoru nodded " Oyasumi-nasai Thanatos!"
After he'd left, Fate turned to her.
" He's right you know. That kimono..." She giggled, shaking her head. " Himura-san was too much a gentlemen to comment… but that thing definitely needs some work."
Kaoru blinked and looked down at the severely torn and dirty white Kimono, which she'd worn since she'd arrived in Purgatory. She blushed a bright red as she noticed not only that the collar was completely torn, but also the fabric hung provocatively over her shoulders, accentuating the curves of her breasts hardly enough to be called modest. Kaoru hastily tried to pull up the fabric, which only set it more out of place. Fate giggled.
" Come with me. We'll get you fixed up and looking beautiful in no time."
" Oh-- but…!" Kaoru glanced back at Kenshin nervously.
" He's not gonna wake up any time soon. It's ok. It'll only take a short while to spin you a new Kimono."
Fate winked at her and changed to her younger aspect, the tall golden haired beauty. " I'm Fate dear," She held up what seemed an intricate working of threads around her fingers for emphasis. " If I can spin the threads of Fate, then I can surely make you a beautiful Kimono!"
Next up: Chapter 31- the Trial of the Century! ^_~