Rain drenched me from head to toe, lightning flashed across the dark skies while thunder resounded in my ears. I sat there on the edge of the cliff, overlooking the boiling sea; the weather itself reflecting my dark emotions.
My surroundings were simply a representation of my own true self deep inside, but what I really felt at the moment was a totally different thing. Remorse? Anger? Regret? No... Not these. The emotions that I experienced were alien, unfamiliar to my heart. I felt... numbness in my heart.
"Kaoru-dono..." I whispered in the rain, the long strands soaking me to my very skin. I squeezed my eyes shut, feeling the droplets pound on me again and again, never stopping. The whole world was crumbling, crumbling into bits and pieces... Crumbling into a black hole... Crumbling endlessly...
There was nothing I could do, I felt so helpless. Helpless? This word didn't fit me, a cold blooded assassin who killed and killed without mercy or compassion. Hitokiri Battousai... That was my past. I was no longer the man who killed for money, I was no longer the man who thought that emotions was useless... No, that was history! The Meiji era had dawned, no more ancient samurais, no more backward antics.
"I'm Himura Kenshin!" I shouted to the sky, the sea, the earth. Kneeling down, I rested on my legs, my pants soaking in water from the grass. Before me, the waves clashed and rolled... It was exactly how I felt...
Images of Kaoru's sweet and smiling face flashed into my mind... Memories of her, everlasting dreams of her... "Kaoru-dono..." I mumbled her name over and over again, fast becoming a mantra in my confused mind.
It was too abrupt! Too abrupt! How could she die? How could she? I simply couldn't believe my eyes when I first saw her lying down on the futon... Her eyes were closed, her cheeks were pale... The feeling, that heart wrenching sensation in my heart was so excruciatingly painful when I cradled her close to me.
On a dark night, she came to me, bleeding profusely... I was shocked, of course... Who could have such a heart of steel so as to kill her? Her last words still echoed in my mind, leaving traces of her within me.
The scene appeared before me once again, like a movie replaying itself again and again. I was there, holding a very pale Kaoru-dono. Blood came out from the sides of her mouth, leaving red stains on her chin. In an almost inaudible voice, she said to me her last words:
"Kenshin... do you love me?"
This phrase would haunt me forever. I didn't answer her, I merely smiled. Perhaps I didn't even know the answer then.
Kaoru smiled her last smile at me. Her dying smile... In the silent night, she whispered the words that she had been holding back all the time.
"Ai shiteru..." whispered Kaoru, her dimmed eyes slid shut as her hand released my grip, landing on the floor with a dull thud. I was struck still, too shocked to say anything. Tears didn't come, I just sat there numbly with Kaoru's body in my arms. Growing strangely colder and colder...
I couldn't accept the cruel fate. Kaoru... She had left me, left me to live on in this world all by myself. First was Tomoe, now it was Kaoru.
Her voice echoed endlessly... Forever...
It had only happened yesterday.
I laughed bitterly in the rain, the thunder trailing me. It was time to face the truth. I had always denied the feelings that Kaoru showered me with... I didn't dare to accept her... but I... I loved her all along. I have to face, I should have told her that earlier... but it was too late... Kaoru was already dead!
I wasn't the assassin and cold blooded killer anymore. Not anymore.
But I lost Kaoru. I lost her! I failed to protect her! I failed! "I failed!" I shouted to the angry sea. It was all my fault she was killed. The guilt was so intense... I actually dragged her into this game of deceit and lies.
Tears came. My eyes felt so painful as the unfamiliar stinging sensation bit them. I took a deep breath and tried not to cry, but I couldn't withhold it this time. I kept quiet as tears flowed unhindered down my face, mingling freely with the rainwater.
Minutes ticked by, hours passed. I had sat here for one whole night already, my emotions calming down as the bad weather subsided... The fresh morning air was all around me, the smell of grass and trees. Even the sun was slowly bobbing up above the horizon.
Warm rays greeted me, new vengeance visited me. I could feel Kaoru's presence near me, the familiar face that I saw so often. I knew she would bless me...
Slowly, I stood up, taking along my long sword. Softly in the slight breeze I whispered, "Kaoru-dono, trust me."
Rurouni Kenshin is copyright Nobuhiro Watsuki / Shueisha • Fuji-TV • Sony Pictures (Japan)
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