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First tears

Kaoru woke up with a start, screaming at the top of her lungs. She felt hot and cold at the same time and she was trembling violently. That same dream again. Why won't it leave me alone? She wondered if the others heard her and how it was possible for a person to have the same dream again and again in one night. Before, she had experienced anguish and helplessness at not being able to control herself. This

time these feelings came not because of the dreams, but from knowing that they weren't just dreams. When someone has a dream they can just wake up and it's all over. It will never be over for me will it? Kaoru's body shuddered with convulsions and nausea as all the memories of the last night and day hit her the same way fists have. But, what hurt her more was the memory of Kenshins face... Kenshin.. She squeezed her eyes shut, trying to block the tears and the memories.

The sun was setting, sending out it's last rays turning the sky into a brilliant pink. The last thing on Kaoru's mind though was the scenery. All through the walk home she tried to think of how she will explain her absense from the dojo. She had left the morning before. The guys must be worried about her. Better not tell them anything, she had thought. What they don't know won't hurt them. When she arrived at the dojo, she found Yahiko, Sanosuke, and Kenshin sitting at the porch. She almost smiled when she saw that Yahiko was half asleep. Kenshin, always alert, noticed her first and hurried up to her, followed by the others. They abruptly stopped when they saw her soaking wet kimono and hair.

Sano cursed under his breath and went on to say " Oi, do you have any idea how long we looked for you Jo-chan? Where were you?"

Kaoru, head lowered, hiding her face in her hair, did not answer.

"Answer me dammit!"

Still no answer.

Kenshin, who said nothing at the beginning moved closer to Kaoru. "Kaoru-donno..why don't you answer Sanosuke?" This time, Kaoru answered, her voice colder than ice and as dull and blunt as Kenshins' Sakabato,

" nowhere special".

She then started walking towards the dojos' open door. Kenshin placed his arm gently on her shoulder wanting to get her to explain more. He felt her flinch under the pressure from his hand and with lightning speed, she grabbed his arm with both hands, twisted it, then dropped to the floor spun her right leg towards his legs, knocking them both towards her. Then, still holding him tightly with one arm, proceeded to her final hit.

Kenshin has never seen Kaoru this violent. She had hit him before, hard, but never with this type of brutality. As she shot her fist towards his face he finally saw her face. It was a mask of bruises. She had a huge bump on the left side of her forehead the size of a small rice ball. A cut ran on the right side of her jaw, from just below her ear to her chin. All this was bad enough but what scared him the most were her eyes. They were the eyes of an abused animal, one that had finally got a chance to get revenge. Just before her fist crashed into his scarred cheek, her face changed. It was as if lightning flashed in her eyes and the Kaoru he knew came back. She looked at him as if seeing him for the first time and he looked at her while she slowly raised the fist that was about to crush his face. Her other hand let go of him and as she stood up she raised both hand to her face in horror and disbeleif at what she had done.

Kenshin had a look of relief on his face that was immediately replaced by concern and confusion. This made Kaoru feel even worse. Why should he be concerned after I just attacked him?

Kaoru remembered vaguely how she stammered out a weak "Gomenasai" and ran into the dojo. His confused expression was more then she could bear. Adding to her physical pain, was the mental pain from the dreams and the greatest pain of all, the emotional pain of knowing that she had tried to hurt the person whom she most cared for in the world. With that realization came all the suppressed sobs like a tidal wave.

go on to chapter 2

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