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*Are you happy? You just had to go and ask him to tell you what you knew all along. He doesn't love you. You've been kidding yourself for more than a year. What are you going to do now? After you've ruined what little of a relationship you've had? *

Kaoru was getting tired of this side of her conscience. It was always self reproaching, loathing, taunting. As if she didn't have enough self-reproach and taunting memories to keep her awake the whole night. She didn’t need another one that was out of her control. She had long since stopped her running; she had only done that to get her away from Kenshin as quickly as possible. She entered her house as inconspicuously as possible so as not to attract any attention, headed straight to her room and slid the door shut behind her. She took a step towards her rolled up futon, then dropped to her knees. What's wrong with me! How could I have just said that to Kenshin, and now of all times! Her brain tried to shut out any thoughts that could lead to a sudden welling of moisture starting from her eyes to the ground below. She tried to shut out any thought of how the only thing she had ever wanted, needed was not only unavailable to her, unwilling. I shouldn't be surprised. I knew it all along. Kenshin sees me as a friend. No, I'm worse than a friend…I'm like a sister. She shook her head in bitterness I'm even worse than that, I'm a kid sister! Her mouth quivered from the effort it took her to stop thinking any more. She lay on the floor, ignoring the hard cold wood under her back and she shut her eyes. The young girl concentrated with all her mind power to slow down the beating of her heart, the sobs trying to escape from deep within. She tried to relax her furrowed brows and escape the pounding of her head. She shut her eyes, an image of Kenshin appearing from within the darkness of her mind, an image of the last tragedy that had made the Battousai appear. Shigure-san and the rest of his followers had been killed. Toki-donno was sobbing in anguish over his body. Kaoru had arrived to the scene just in time to see Kenshin, his hair hovering about him from the power, the seething fire of his chi. His eyes though narrow slits, shone as bright as the flames of hell in a pitch black night. If not for the Sakaba , Tamano would have met his creator that night. The battle cry Kenshin had released, coming from so deep within, froze Kaoru's blood and stopped her heart in its tracks. She had thought that with the learning of the succession technique, Amakake ryu no Hirameki, she had thought that the Battousai would not appear again, that it had been removed from Kenshin without a trace. That night, had proven that Kenshin's other half, had only been asleep.

Kaoru thoughts were interrupted by a knock. She slid the door open; Sano stood there.

"Saitoh is here," he quietly stated.

"Eh? I thought.."

"So did I…but, he's here and he wants to ask you some questions." Auburn met Sapphire as he locked her eyes with his own and refused to let go. Che. She doesn't look well at all he thought, taking in the slight pink hue on her nose and her watery eyes. Kaoru swallowed nervously and blinked her way out of his gaze.

"Then, I shouldn't keep him waiting," she walked on past Sano, who caught her arm. She turned to look back at him in dismay.

"Jo-chan," he started, looking past her at the room where Kenshin and Saitoh were waiting, "Don’t' you believe it. Even if he doesn't know it yet," Sano now shifted his full attention to Kaoru, " that asshole loves you. "



"Huh? Where's Kenshin?"

"I killed him." Saitoh answered calmly.

" What!" Saitoh smirked at Sanosuke's reaction. Obviously, the 'mutt' wasn't in the mood to play.

"He said he'll wait outside until everyone got here. Although the only one I'm here for is the girl. In fact, why don't you go wait outside with him? So I can talk to her in peace." Saitoh watched Sano fume in silence. He looked, amused at Sano, and dropped the matter.

"It seems that he's not very comfortable around me," he stated, referring to Kenshin.

"Heh. Reincarnated or not, you haven't changed. Still got that ego…"

"Aho. I don't mean that he was afraid of me, though that could very well be the case," he added just to rile Sano up, "I meant…never mind. Why bother explaining it to someone as simple minded as you. It would take you a hundred years in the Bakumatsu to understand. "

"sonofa…"Sano growled under his breath.



Megumi rolled her eyes at the one sided argument going on inside and went to call Kenshin, certain that by the time they came back, Kaoru would have pulled herself together enough to make her appearance. She didn't have to go far. Kenshin was sitting at the edge of the porch, his feet flat on the ground. He held his Sakaba vertically. He seemed to be studying the hilt intently but as Megumi got closer, she saw that he was actually staring deep into space. She recalled what Sano had told her, how Kaoru had confessed her feelings for Kenshin and how he had responded. She blushed, wondering if that meant that there was a chance for her and Kenshin after all…oddly enough, it was Sano who had brought it up. After telling her the news, he had looked at her long and hard, waiting for her response. When she didn’t say anything, he grabbed her by the shoulders.

"Listen, don't be getting any ideas about Kenshin. Just because he said that to Kaoru, doesn't mean that he meant it!" His eyes narrowed and he added "You know that he doesn’t love you." Megumi blushed hotly in anger and shame at how Sano had seen his way right into her thoughts. Though she felt sorry for Kaoru and sympathized with her, a tiny fraction of her still wondered if Kenshin's response to Kaoru could mean that he was available to other women. But, there was no way she'd let Sano know he'd been right. She shoved him away furiously.

"How dare you even suggest that I would take advantage of this situation!" she said indignantly.

"Just making sure," Sano replied, showing no remorse what so ever.

She had to be honest to herself though. Now, looking at Kenshin, she knew that Sano was right. I would have taken advantage of this, if it weren't for the circumstances. She walked up to Kenshin, her presence gradually drawing him back to earth.

"Kenshin, Sano went to call Kaoru." She briefly wondered why Kenshin was waiting out here instead of inside, but when he looked at her, she lost all train of thought.

"I'll be right there Megumi-donno." Any woman in her right mind would fall head over slippers in love with him just from a glance at him. Why should I be any different? Megumi thought, glancing back at Kenshin while walking back to the dojo.


*Kenshin loves you…* Does he? *Even if he doesn't know it yet…* What was that supposed to mean. He either loves me, or he doesn't. And he's made himself clear about that Sanosuke's words were still on Kaoru's mind, even after she sat down in front of Saitoh, briefly wondering what he could possibly want with her.

"I'll be very clear about this. I want you to tell me everything you know about your father's role in the Bakumatsu."

"Eh?" Kaoru was as confused as Kenshin, Sano and Megumi.

"Your father, and his role in the "Togowa" group" Saitoh continued impatiently. "I want you to tell me everything you know his job."

"His job?" Kaoru asked uncertainly. Saitoh sighed in exasperation. Who did she think she was fooling. He would have to do this the hard way.

"Did you or did you not know that your father was the head hitokiri of the "Togowa" and that he led the division that killed all the Ishin Shishi spies." The room became silent. Saitoh noticed the startled look on Kenshin's face. So he didn't know. Figures. Sano and Megumi gazed from Kenshin to Kaoru, to Kenshin, to Kaoru again, all waited for her answer.

"I didn't know the name of the group," She stated finally.

"But you knew of his job." Saitoh pressed.

"I find out later, yes." Kaoru admitted, much to Kenshin's horror, "why are you asking me about this now? It was years ago."

"I am asking you this, because I have reason to believe that it relates to a series of mureders that have been occurring recently.You should know that; it seems that you were almost the next victim." He looked at her meaningfully, waiting for some sort of reaction from her. Her face remained neutral. The others however, had an array of emotionson their faces trying to deal with the information they were just given. Saitoh continued, "All the murder victims so far were former "Togowa" members. Not just any members, they were all lead by your father." Kaoru could feel herself panicking as Saitoh continued. "Obviously, someone wants revenge against your fathers division. And if they were killing the regular members, then wouldn't their biggest goal be the death of the leader?" he asked rhetorically.

Silence, dead silence overcame the room. Everyone was thinking the exact same thing.

"But, Kaoru's dad is already dead," said Yahiko, coming into the room.

"Very good, runt. Now then, how would that make our killers feel. Cheated? Maybe, because they couldn't get their revenge on the leader-"

"And they'd go after his daughter!" Sano finished for him. Everyone turned to look at Kaoru, waiting for her to confirm this. There was a long minute of silence of Kaoru watching the floor in front of her. Then, she looked directly at Saitoh, but addressed the others.

"Minna, I'd like to talk to Saitoh-san alone, so if you don’t mind-"

"Like hell I will," Sano interrupted, "I wanna know-

"-go outside NOW!" she finished, giving Sano a warning look that would have scared off Shishio. There was no further discussion as everyone, including a melancholy Kenshin left.


*author looks around, ready to dodge any shoes* Was it that bad? For those who haven't seen the movie of Rurouni Kenshin, those characters I was referring to at the beginning of the chapter are from the movie. There really isn't much you need to know about them other than that Kenshin befriends a samurai called Shigure-san who is killed by a corrupt general and that causes Kenshin to revert into Battousai mode. I'll have a complete synopsis of it next week so don't worry about it. About this chapter, seriously, what did you think about it? So, it's a little short but the next chapter will make up for it.
tell me to get a gun and put myself out of my misery
to next chapter!

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