Memories Melting

This can be divided in two parts. Both parts have a good part of the actions and feelings of a dream in common. As if their dreams, diverging at first have somehow merged at some point...I've always liked the idea of shared dreams! ^_^; C&C are welcome, especially since English is not my natural language (I'm french). Any corrections regarding the grammar, eventual misuse of words, suggestions for better phrasing, ideas that could improve this story or make the characters more accurate... and well, you can even flame me, I know whatthis worth... I do hope that this is at least readable... ^_^; I just had to try... Now enough rambling...Kitine-chan (

WARNING: This contain SPOILER for the kenshin's past (from manga 19 and on), So if you don't know who is Tomoe, you may not want to read this.

Disclaimer: Rurouni Kenshin is the wonderful brain child of Watsuki-sama,I'm just indulging in a seemingly common obsession about him ^_~;I've adopted the usual conventions:<> are thoughts"" are speaking** for emphasis.

A few things about cultural differences: Men were considered as adult at the age of 15. A samurai would then begun to serve his daimyou and could get married. That's why it was not strange for Kenshin to be married at this age.

A few japaneses terms:
futon: japanese bedding. Soft thin mattress, cover and a sort of pillow, set directly on the tatami floor, that you fold on the morning.
hitokiri: killer, manslayer.
rurouni: melting of "rurou" vagabond, and "rounin" masterless samurai. So that word should mean something like "former samurai wanderer" It's the word Watsuki-sama invented for Kenshin to define himself
Bafuku: the shogunate government, in the Edo era.
Ishin Shishi:the ones who wanted to bring down the Bafuku and give the power back to the emperor.
Bakumatsu: the war that bring the Bafuku down, after a 300 years reign, and where the Ishin make the new government, putting an end to the feudalism, bringing the Meiji era. That war ended in 1869, but Kenshin left after the decisive battle of Toba and Fushimi in 1868
yukata: the light bathrobe-like japanese use to wear after taking their bath and to sleep.

Kenshin Kenshin wake up unusually blissful. The memories of the village's festival last evening were the happiest he had built for years, and Tomoe had seemed for once to actually enjoy the distraction. They'd returned home really late so she would probably need some more rest. He knew that she often woke when he got up, no matter how carefully he crept out of the futon. He was just going to hold her sleeping form in his arms, indulging himself in her warmth and softness until she woke up.

He was watching his wife tenderly, a smile playing on his lips. In her sleep, her delicate features seemed to have lost all their sadness and she seemed so peaceful... (Tomoe... You've begun to smile a little since we’ve lived here. They are fleeting smiles, but still... I want so much to see you happy, to see you smile. I don't know what terrible fate had left you alone in Kyoto when we met six months before, and I don't know what future I can give you either, given the conditions... but as long as I live, I'll be here for you. I'll protect you so you won't be hurt again.)

Those past months here with her made him experience happiness. He had been happy in the first years of life, until his parents died, but he was so young then, those memories were so far away... He could barely remember that time. And his years of hard training with his master couldn't exactly be qualified as blissful, much less that first year among the Ishin Shishi, before he had to hide here four months ago... But now there was no killing, no fighting. He could play with children, talk with people who treated him just as an ordinary, gentle young man. He knew this couldn't last, that he would soon be called back to Kyoto to help bring down the Bakufu. But when this war finally ended, if he's still alive, perhaps he and Tomoe could be happy together in the new era... And if she could be happy, if all the innocent people could finally get free from oppression and have their chance to find happiness, then it would have really worth all the killing. And maybe, maybe he could find forgiveness for all the countless lives he'd taken. (I'll fight for you, for your future...)

Her silky black hair was spilling around her shoulders, making her pale skin shin in contrast in the dim light of dawn. Unable to resist, he brushed her lips lightly with his own, careful not to wake her yet. Her mouth curved in a faint smile, and Kenshin, surprised, but encouraged by her response, drew a finger along her cheek.

Stirring slightly in his arms, she opened sleepy deep, black eyes to stare at him, curiosity, and a faint trace of surprise at finding him staring at her, clear on her beautiful face. (It's past dawn... he's not up yet?) His long red hair was flowing around his beautiful face, framing his delicate features and spilling on her shoulder. The dim light filtering from behind was making it look like a flame. He was watching her with so much tenderness in his soft lavender eyes. They were so sweet, it was hard to believe that this young man -almost a child still- could be the coldest, most relentless, deadliest hitokiri among the Ishin Shishi. He was so caring, so selfless... she could feel her heart soften. It was easy to hate him when she didn't know him. When all she knew about him was all the bloodshed he'd caused, the fact that he'd killed her fiancé. She had hated him so much then. And then, she had heard numerous stories about all the cold-hearted assassinations of high ranking people along with their guards... She had imagined the Battousai as a big, very impressive middle aged man cruel, grim, coldly calculating. But when she'd first seen him, caught him in the act of killing, all she could see was a young confused teenager.

She knew he should have killed her then, he couldn't afford to let any witness... And as she began to know him, to understood him, as time passed, she found it harder to hate him. She ccould hate the ruthless hitokiri, but she couldn't hate the pure soul deep inside. She could hate the Battousai, but could not hate Kenshin. A least, not once she knew him. He was a killer, but under the cold detachment imposed by his role, lay a caring and compassionate heart with the pure intention to protect people, to bring in a new era where everyone could be happy. He didn't even know that it was he who had denied her happiness, and he was giving her a new, different one. He may have taken her fiancé from her, but had given himself in return... At that Tomoe almost smiled. Almost. (I don't know anymore how I feel about him.)

Since she had opened her eyes, he had sensed surprise in her, then something close to tenderness, then she seemed to sink deeper into her thoughts as he could feel her emotions change to sadness, tingled with confusion. He wanted to cheer her up, to help her put back the sadness. (Don't let your painful memories spoil your present.)

"Ohayou!" Smiling, Kenshin muffled her response under a soft playful kiss. Not knowing what else to do, Tomoe kissed him back. He closed his eyes, playing gently with her lips, savoring the warm feelings. (Tomoe... I'll do everything I can to make you happy.) Responding to the passion he could feel rising in her, kissing more ardently, he rolled to lay half on top of her and slid an arm around her waist. He did feel her uneasiness, and found it a little unusual, even awkward, the way her hands then hesitantly reached for his shoulders. But it was not until he tried to deepen the kiss that he realized that things were not right. When his tongue possessively dove between her parted lips to claim her, he felt her body shudder against his and her arms tightened around his shoulders and neck. Such a powerful reaction! She didn’t even react like that at their first kiss! Was it that beautiful festival evening that had affected her this way?

She was beginning to respond now, as if experimentally. The strength of her reactions was affecting him greatly. Drowning into the mixed feelings of wild desire and sheer rapture, he broke the kiss and lowered his head, nuzzling into her throat, taking in a deep shaky breath, a full intake of jasmine scented air. (What? *jasmine*?!! that's definitively not right!) Raising a little to have a better look at her in the soft light of the early morning, he found two beautiful eyes, desire, but also confusion shining in their blue depths, opening to look at him. This was not Tomoe!

"Kaoru-dono?!" Kenshin awoke with a jolt to find himself on his futon at the dojo, eyes opened wide, heart pounding madly, and totally confused. He just sat there for a few seconds, eyes wide in the dark room, before he managed to gather his thoughts enough to recover from his shock. (A dream... it was a dream...) He reached a shaky hand to sweep a strand of red hair out of his face, taking a calming breath. The birds chirping could be heard outside, but it was still dark. In about an hour, it would be dawn. Sighing, knowing he wouldn't get anymore sleep, still slightly disturbed by the dream, he put on his clothes and open the door to the yard to sit under the porch. He lay with his back against a pillar, looking absently at the stars on the still dark sky.

The cold autumn breeze sent a shiver up his spine. Or was it a remainder of the dream? He couldn't take his mind out of it. He had often dreamt of Tomoe in his ten years of wandering, and soon after he has settled at the dojo, he had started to dream of Kaoru as well. But this... Kissing Kaoru, holding her in his arms, even if it was just a dream, made him feel guilty. He'd always thought he had no right to think about her that way, that she could never possibly be his. He was eleven years older, he was too blood stained, had nothing to offer, no future. He was the past. She was so young, so innocent. She had all her life ahead of her. She was the future...

The beginning of the dream had been an actual memory. It was about fifteen years ago, and he had been fifteen then. He could recall that festival evening and the morning after very accurately. It was the first time Tomoe had lost a little of her coldness. One of his most pleasant memories. In fact, all those five months hiding in the tiny house had made his only beautiful memories until he came to Kaoru's dojo. And shortly after that day, he'd killed Tomoe, trying to save her, and ending up with her saving him... No matter how much time passed, it still hurt so much. The guilt remained so strong... He had succeeded in all his missions as a hitokiri and as a bodyguard. But he had failed at protecting his own wife, she had died by his own katana, his own hands. He knew she'd forgiven him before dying, but he couldn't forgive himself, neither for her death nor the too many others he'd caused during the five years he had fought against the Bafuku. So having Tomoe disappear like that with Kaoru taking her place in that dream, it felt a little like a betrayal.

She had forever a special place in his heart, and he was not about to let anyone share that place. Not again. It would be too painful. Because then, he could lose her like he'd lost all those he had loved. All those that have loved him back. His parents, Tomoe... And he couldn't afford to live through that again. Not again. It would destroy him. (Besides, I still have to atone for all my sins as a hitokiri. I don't deserve happiness.) But... wasn't it too late? It had been a shock to see Kaoru in his arms, but not an unpleasant one. It had felt so good, so right... He couldn't keep from wondering what it would feel like to really take her in his arms, to really kiss her. Would she react as strongly as in his dream? (Ack! what am I thinking?! Maybe accepting to stay at the dojo that fateful day two years ago was a big mistake...)

He knew there were risks of getting involved with someone back then. A Hiten master must not get involved to avoid getting manipulated or threatened through them and the former hitokiri should not, because he would endanger them with his many enemies. But he was tired of all these years of wandering alone, tired of trying to protect people and atone for his sins, searching for forgiveness. It had been so tempting... How could he refuse to stay when she had asked him, fully knowing who he was, accepting him for who he was and despite all he'd done in the past... He had intended to stay a little, just so he could help her more. He could see she felt so alone too... He would just leave as soon as she didn't need his presence, or when his presence would bring her problems or danger. (And I couldn't leave when it happened. When Jine threatened her because of me, she made me stay with just a ribbon and her strong will.)

He smiled at that tought. She was always so full of life, so selfless, so lighthearted, standing against all odds with strong determination. It had been so hard to leave when he had to return to Kyoto, and to his wandering. Hearing her cry, murmuring his name had shattered his heart. If he had not been so afraid for her life were she to come with him, he would never have had the strength to go. And she had made him return to Tokyo with her, made him return to her. He really was not sure he was able to leave. Not now, not anymore... not until she wanted him to.

Yes, he knew there were risks when he decided to stay, but he had not thought about *that* risk. Not that he could fall in love again. He had always refused to admit it, but he couldn't deny it forever. (Sheesh! I shouldn't be affected by a mere dream. Get a grip on yourself, Kenshin. It's really not time to let your control falter. If she sees you like that, she'll get worried. Just put those thoughts and memories aside and try to be cheerful. They don't need your sorrows to spoil their day. Besides, you'd better prepare breakfast before Kaoru wakes up and makes it.)