|Disclaimer||This fan fiction is based on the Rurouni Kenshin manga. Rurouni Kenshin characters are the property of creator Nobohiro Watsuke, Shueisha, Shonen Jump, Sony Entertainment, and VIZ Comics. This is a non-profit work for entertainment purposes only. Permission was not obtained from the above parties.|
|Author Intro||Hello all. I promise to play nice with all the characters, seeing as how they don’t really belong to me anyway. Please be kind and review. I’m not a newbie, but this is my first venture into the RK universe, and I haven’t seen the entire series yet. Bear with me. Be warned, fluffy fic ahead. Thanks for reading!|
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First Moments: Chapter 1
by mvdiva ::: 18.May.2003
'Tis the most tender part of love, each other to forgive.
It was one of those nights where one was lucky to be inside. Lightning cracked across the sky, unnaturally illuminating the grounds of the dojo and casting eerie shadows within. There was a long silent pause where absolutely nothing moved, and then thunder boomed loud enough to rattle pebbles lying on the ground.
Within the relative safety of the dojo dining area, Yahiko twitched nervously and then nonchalantly tried to pick up the fallen grains of rice from his lap. At his right, Sano tried to stifle a chuckle as he slurped up the last mouthful of his miso soup. Numerous candles held darkness at bay, but their flickering light added to the strained dinner atmosphere of the Kamiya kitchen. Kaoru caught the slight trembling of her student, and winked at him reassuringly, only to have the boy stick his tongue out at her during the next thunderclap overhead.
Trying to disguise her own shaking hands, Kaoru carefully placed her bowl of half-eaten rice on the table, and rolled to her feet. Sano and Yahiko looked up at her questioningly, but she waved them off, turning to address the unaffected rurouni at her right. The young woman tried to catch his eye, but it seemed that the red-haired swordsman wasn’t even aware of her presence.
“Um…Kenshin? Thanks for making dinner.” He continued stirring his untouched rice. Kaoru glanced at Sano, who had a concerned eyebrow raised at his unresponsive friend. She shrugged, and bent down to tap him on the head. Before her hand could even come close enough to touch, she found herself on her knees; wrist caught in an iron grip. It had all happened so fast that she hadn’t even had a second to react. The man’s surprisingly strong hand had grabbed hers in a vice grip, and she was an inch away from his face without even a moment to scream.
The angry golden eyes of the battousai held her in a trance. They stared at each other for a moment before he dropped his head and released her arm, pushing her away. Kaoru was too frozen to rub the throbbing appendage. Those eyes…she thought, just as Sano reached across the table, roughly pulling her shoulder back until she unfroze and unceremoniously sank to a seated position. Kenshin’s thick bangs covered his eyes, and Kaoru continued to stare at him as Sano examined her wrist. The ex-hitokiri didn’t move, and she turned to examine the angry red mark on her wrist in a sort of dazed fascination.
“What’s wrong with you?” The kamiya master turned to watch as the fighter-for-hire grabbed hold and violently shook the smaller man by his shoulders. “Do I have to drag you outside to smack some sense into you?” Slowly Kenshin’s head raised and he stared at the taller man impassively. “You could’ve snapped her wrist!”
The sorrowful familiar face turned to take in the damage, and then his gaze traveled up to the shocked woman’s face. “This unworthy one is truly sorry.” He whispered. Another flash of lightening streaked across the sky, illuminating the rurouni’s glittering eyes. Thunder immediately followed, crashing ominously overhead. A distraught Yahiko rose from his seat and ran off in the direction of his room without a word.
Kenshin’s gaze left her face to trace the path of the retreating boy, and then dropped again to his lap. Strong, slender fingers fiddled absently with a single chopstick. Neither Kaoru nor Sanosuke could think of anything to say that would break the heavy silence that was punctuated only by the sound of heavy rainfall on the roof of the dojo.
Over. Under. Over. Under. Back to the beginning. Repeat. The chopstick wove an invisible web between Kenshin’s fingers. At the back of her mind, Kaoru noticed the slight tremble to the movement, but didn’t comment. Sensing that there would be no more violence this night, Sano climbed to his feet. “I’m going to bed.” He announced, throwing a wary glance at the unresponsive rurouni as he made his way to the room at the back of the dojo reserved for his overnight stays.
His retreating footsteps echoed in Kaoru’s head. The sporadic blasts of thunder had died down to an occasional grumble; perhaps lamenting the end of the storm. Candlelight reflected off the chopstick flowing between Kenshin’s fingers. The movement lulled Kaoru’s mind until the action became almost hypnotic in front of her eyes. Why wasn’t he talking to her? She cast back over the past few days in her mind, searching for any telltale cause for his violent outburst. Flashes of the red-haired man laughing with Yahiko and the girls flitted in front of her mind’s eye. Nothing in particular came to mind.
It wasn’t as if he would tell any of them if something was wrong, anyway. Kaoru knew it and accepted that fact. Getting Kenshin to admit much of anything…well, it would be easier to pull every strand of hair from his thick skull without him noticing.
Although, that probably wouldn’t be so hard right now, considering the fact that his mind was probably thousands of miles away. In fact, she would be lucky if-
Wooden splinters exploded in all directions, tearing Kaoru away from her musings. At first, she could only stare at the remains of the chopstick. Reality gradually crept in. Those had been expensive! Her anger surfaced finally, and Kaoru opened her mouth to begin the verbal tirade that was sure to wake up everyone within a three-mile radius. What stopped her was the sight of her bewildered Kenshin staring wide-eyed down at the splinters in his palm. The familiar purple had replaced the golden color that signified his battousai side, and she gasped when he turned his head to look at her straight on.
“Miss Kaoru, I…” He stopped. She was only slightly aware that her mouth was hanging open, but it didn’t matter. His eyes, she thought again. So much sadness… Her jaw closed with a snap as his unguarded look was quickly hidden behind the happy-go-lucky mask of the wandering swordsman. “Forgive me, Miss Kaoru. I do not know what came over me earlier tonight.”
He tipped the chopstick remains into the forgotten bowl of rice, and reached for her injured hand with both of his. Her hand moved forward of its own accord. With total gentleness, he cradled her wrist in one hand as he traced the forming bruise with one slender finger. It strayed over a tender spot, and Kaoru pulled her hand back, cradling it to her chest. Kenshin froze, hands in midair. A flash of some emotion crossed his face, but before she could name it, the look was gone.
Whatever it was, it made her feel the need to retreat. Her wrist was only a little sore, but the thought of those glowing golden eyes made what little she knew of his past to be even more threatening. With a small sigh, Kenshin pushed himself to his feet and held out a hand to help her up. She hesitated, and there was that flash again in his eyes. This time, she understood it. Pain. Sorrow. Guilt. A silent understanding moved between them, and then she used his proffered hand to pull herself up.
They stood face-to-face for a long moment. Whatever tormented memories he was currently suffering through…well, that was only for him to know. She did not regret pulling him out of the silent reverie, even if that price was the wrist that now throbbed in time to her heartbeat. Kaoru was sure he would spend every waking moment apologizing to her tomorrow. Her eyes flitted over his face, looking for any crack in his mask. “I…wanted to thank you for making dinner.” The excuse sounded pathetic even as the breath left her lips. She closed her eyes, valiantly wishing that this whole meal had been a bad dream. Maybe she would wake up tomorrow and-
Kenshin grabbed her good hand and lifted it to his left cheek. The deep scar was hot against her palm. He held his hand over hers lightly, offering her the possibility to pull away. When she didn’t, he closed his eyes and nuzzled against her hand once before dropping his own away. She was surprised at his forwardness, but also at her unwillingness to remove her hand. His face was so warm against her skin that she temporarily forgot to breathe.
“You’re very welcome, Miss Kaoru.” Her hand dropped down to where his neck and throat met his shoulder. The skin under her hand rumbled as he cleared his throat. A slight blush crept over the rurouni’s cheeks that flared vibrantly even against the waning candlelight, and he dipped his head to hide the telltale flush. “It’s late.” Kaoru found herself saying. “I think I’ll go to bed.”
The man nodded thoughtfully. “I am sorry about your hand.” He paused and then stopped, unable to continue. Kaoru smiled softly at him, hoping he could see that she wasn’t angry. Although she might never fully understand him, Kenshin was one of those people who could communicate with more than words. For now, that was enough.
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