Until The Very End

BY : Ryuunosuke
Category: Rurouni Kenshin > General
Dragon prints: 287
Disclaimer: I don’t own Rurouni Kenshin, nor any of the characters from it. I don’t make any money from the writing of this story.

Kenshin laid on the futon*, the day light fell on him, because Kaoru left an open privacy screen to get fresh air inside. Spring was seen behind the window, the cherry blossoms flew around and covered the paths that often walked by passersby. However, Kenshin was unconscious all the day and couldn’t see the beautiness surrounding him. Only half way through the day his mind slowly began to return to reality. Show him images from the past. From what happened the last night. A tragic fateful night when he... when he... did what?

“Sanosuke...” The man said silently. “Why you? Why you were with me then? If I could protect you...”

Kenshin couldn’t remember the accident clearly. He was injured, but he didn’t have any external wounds, all were internal. No one could tell how much pain he suffered now. His heart was bleeding for his dead friend. For the best friend he will never see again. Even if in the afterlife, he would never be able to look at him and say sorry. It wouldn’t be enough, because he coldly injured his friend and then he died. Yes, his place is in hell, and Sanosuke is probably already in heaven with Captain Sagara and other close but dead people.

“Sanosuke...” Kenshin whispered. “You were a man to the very end, so why now? Why it happened now?”

His fingers curved heavily into a fist. No, he couldn’t get up. He couldn’t bear the mental pain that he would have to carry.

Until the end of his days...

“You know, Kenshin, when we bear this night, we will go fishing together and bring a lot of fish to jou-chan*, and then she will be very happy that we did something useful to her.” Sanosuke smiled in his memory.

“No, stop talking, you’re bleeding...” Kenshin whispered and tried to stand, but his body didn’t want to, it was like not his body anymore. It was like the mind was completely separated from the body. “You’re bleeding a lot, I have to tend you up with something...”

After that, the memories disappeared. The mind descended into the darkness. Kenshin lay motionless for a few minutes, struggling to remember everything that happened. Remember the reason why he hurt his friend. But he didn’t want that, right? He didn’t plan to kill him? No, really not, Kenshin wasn’t a manslayer for a long time, even though Sanosuke hurt him somehow, although it was impossible, he didn’t want his friend’s death, he didn’t doubt about it. Then why? Why did he spill the blood again?

“The blood...” Kenshin turned his head aside and slowly stretched out his hand, as if trying to grab something. “Blood everywhere... the life... is... killing me.”

He felt as if he could see nothing but blood around him. As if he drowning in it and he is powerless to rise. No matter how hard he tried, he was too weak. It was Sanosuke’s blood. Blood of an innocent man. He killed. He killed many innocent people, but he never suffered so much as he did now.

He was his friend...

“Kenshin...” Sanosuke’s voice awake in memory again. “Why? Why did you do that?”

“Sano?” The man looked at him with his eyes full of horror, his hands was covered with blood. “It’s you?”

Did he done it accidentally? He had to figure it out, but it was too dark to see something. He helplessly looked for every connectable detail, although he knew that it wouldn’t be easier when he find out the truth. Nothing is going to change, his friend will not return to life and the guilt will not fall. He will continue to live in agony and constant suffering.

Kenshin tried to open his eyes and see the spring, dancing cherry blossoms, that Sanosuke is still alive, because it’s just a terrible nightmare. He felt wind, wanted to go up together, forgetting all the pain, but he sank into a deeper darkness. The obscurity tortured him. The man couldn’t bear it, his chest seemed incredibly hurt, it looked like the feeling of guilt stabbed him with billion swords. Slowly, painfully, and it couldn’t kill. Probably it would be much better to die than to endure such a terrible pain that can’t be described with words.

It was more than mental suffering...

Kenshin was finally able to open his eyes and look at the sky, the blue and the whole clear. But it didn’t meant anything, it was dark and empty in his heart now. His dull eyes looked nowhere, the gaze went through everything, the things, accidents and voices whirled in the memory. Lastly, only one silent, dying voice remained. The last words, the voice he will never hear again... No more laugh, smile or tears left. No Sanosuke... Everything went off with him. He took everything that was dear in the grave, his frozen body lay underground, among many others Kenshin killed. And in the future, new people will walk above his grave, they will live in new era, and no one will remember him. No, Sanosuke didn’t deserve the fate like this. He didn’t deserve to be killed by his best friend.

He was still so young...

“Sano, it’s my fault...” Kenshin said, barely moving his lips. “Whatever happened that night, I have no doubt that you are completely innocent about this... I made a huge mistake and now I will have to pay for it with my suffering... or even life...”

The man hold the tears that began to fall on the pillow. No, death would be too good for a killer like him. He couldn’t suffer if he was dead. Greater suffering would be to live with the fault in his heart.

“Kenshin, I’m still alive!” Suddenly he heard Sanosuke’s voice. “Stop looking at me like that!”

“How do I look at you?” Kenshin couldn’t understand.

He closed his eyes and tried again to remember everything that happened. Initially, in his memory, he only saw the darkness, but later realized that he was standing on a wooden floor in a big house, castle or manor. There was a night, the moon’s light fell through the window. Kenshin held his sword strongly in his arms, his gaze drew attention to the door. Has he come here to protect someone? Probably, what else could he do in a stranger’s house?

Soon he heard some kind of rustle and took a step, preparing to defend himself. Because he didn’t remember anything from before, he guessed or he came here with Sanosuke. He heard quick steps. Someone went here. Not alone. He heard Sanosuke’s scream, probably he ran from the enemy, taking them to Kenshin. Hence, they had swords, otherwise Sanosuke would have dropped them all with his fists. There was a more than serious battle here.

Kenshin squeezed his sword hilt tighter and jumped to the door. The experience told him that Sanosuke will appear the first, and then the enemies. At that time the door opened. The man could rely only on instincts because it was madly dark. He waited until the first person run into the room, hoping that there was Sanosuke, then stretched his shiny blade, and the attackers, one after another, fell on the ground. Kenshin felt that there were only a few of them, about ten, and it wasn’t difficult to fight them with a sword. Now only the last remaining samurai left behind, but he seemed delay.

Kenshin suddenly jumped to him and draw his sword, but he miraculously avoided the blade, it stuck in between his hands. Everything went inconceivable quickly, the opponent pulled the blade away from himself, and at that time, Kenshin stumbled, firmly holding the sword hilt. The fighter’s strength was higher than he expected, since others fell by one or two strokes. After a moment, the sword blade pierced somewhere very deeply.

“Kenshin...” He heard Sanosuke’s painful voice. “Why? Why did you do that?”

Kenshin gasped from surprise and horror. Without being able to believe, he slowly looked at his friend, then into the hands that held the sword. The blade up to the hilt was stuck in Sanosuke’s body, it meant that pierced him through.

“Sano?” He said. “It’s you?”

He couldn’t believe what happened, it seemed like a dream. Still warm blood ran through his trembling hands, flowed to the elbows and dripped on the floor. How could he make such a mistake? To hurt his friend? With a reversed blade sword? There were a lot of questions in his head. Why Sanosuke didn’t run first if he led enemies to him? Or did they run to fight with him by themselves? And why he was silent until the last minute? It was not like Sanosuke, he wouldn’t have let it happen.

Sanosuke spit the blood out of his mouth and fall down into the Kenshin’s embrace.

“Sano... I didn’t know it’s you...” The man said hardly. “Hold on, I have to pull this thing out of you.”

With both hands he grabbed the sword and suddenly pulled it to himself. Sanosuke began to groan in pain and fell on the floor.

“Sano, I have to stop the bleeding.” Kenshin hold himself together and looked around the room searching for something to press a wound.

Every second depended on him...

“Don’t worry about me, Kenshin, it’s nothing.” The friend smiled barely.

“Your wound is very deep, you can bleed deadly. Don’t move, I’ll be back soon.”

Kenshin ran out to look for some kind of cloth and candles to see everything normal. Even his hands were trembling, he found what he needed and returned to Sanosuke. He lay with his hands pressing the wound, the huge puddle of blood was under him.

Kenshin quickly lit a candle and leaned down to a friend. His abdomen was completely messed up, a white jacket sopped from blood. Red-headed samurai drew Sanosuke’s hands, and as soon as possible he wrapped his abdomen with a cloth then took another and pressed the wound. He knew that it wouldn’t help to save his friend, the wound had to be sewn immediately, but there were no doctors around. Besides, he couldn’t leave Sanosuke all alone and run to the city, without them, there was no one in this house except the enemies who lay unconscious.

“Sano, do you hear me?” Kenshin leaned over to his face. “Don’t worry, I’ll save you. I promise.”

“It doesn’t hurt so much...” Sanosuke smiled.

Kenshin knew that he is lying, the pain should be unbearable, his internal organs were badly damaged. His body now seemed so weak and shaky. He was so lean that Kenshin didn’t even have to use a lot of force to pierce him, but now he had to press him to avoid bleeding, but he was afraid that he would increase his suffering if he press it too much. He was very scared, he wasn’t a doctor and didn’t know what to do next.

“It’s all right, Kenshin... I can bear it...” Sanosuke tried to calm him down. “Remember that day when Saito first appeared to me... and pierced... my shoulder? How long have I been lying until... you... found me? You thought I was going to die... but I’m still alive... And now you’re here... everything is going to be fine, right?”

Kenshin smiled, not wanting to scare him, although he wanted to shout from despair. He was guilty of what happened, he pulled out his sword and pierced his friend, and now he had to pretend that everything will be fine and quietly watch him dying. He knew that Sanosuke will die, no one would be able to survive with such a wound.

“Yes, I remember that day, but now things are different.” Kenshin whispered. “Just don’t worry.”

He no longer knew what to say. He couldn’t say that he would stay alive and force himself to lie. That would make him feel worse. It was his last day, Kenshin wanted his sufferings to end faster, unable to look at his weakening body. An attempt to stop bleeding was worthless. But he didn’t want to see his dying friend. A friend who always went along with him and didn’t miss a single fight to defend him, although he was always weaker. But his spirit was strong and unbreakable, it has always admired the red-haired samurai.

“You know, Kenshin, I’m not worried about myself at all...” Sanosuke said silently. “I’m worried about you all the time.”

“Why?” Kenshin was surprised.

“You are a man who raised me to a new life when I was rotten.” The boy stopped for a moment to breathe deeply, at the same time his wound began to hurt more and he started to groan. Trying to control he continued to speak. “Therefore, I... don’t want you to feel sorry for me now... you saw enough pain from my side... because I was too weak to protect myself...”

“No, Sano, you’re very strong.” Kenshin removed the hair strand from his face. “Saito lied to you because he can’t admit that you are equal to him.”

Sanosuke drew the floor around himself, as if trying to find something, then slowly took Kenshin’s hand.

“I was too weak to protect you... jou-chan and Yahiko... I saved Megumi once... it was all...”

,Megumi-dono*!’ Suddenly Kenshin remembered. ‘How do I tell her about Sano?’

“You know, Kenshin, when we bear this night, we will go fishing together and bring a lot of fish to jou-chan, and then she will be very happy that we did something useful to her.” Sanosuke smiled.

“No, stop talking, you’re bleeding...” Kenshin whispered. “You’re bleeding a lot, I have to tend you up with something, but I can’t find anything...”

Kenshin knew very well it’s the last night, there was no doubt, Sanosuke lost so much blood... The man couldn’t take control, fell on his chest and started to cry. He was no longer able to suppress his emotions, so much has happened at the same time. His tears fell on Sanosuke’s cheeks, he leaned even closer and looked at him in the dull eyes, in which it was hard to see something...

“Kenshin, I’m still alive!” Sanosuke tried to calm him. “Stop looking at me like that!”

“How do I look at you?” Kenshin still cried. “You are dying and I can’t do anything. I... now I’m weak... I’m so, so weak...”

“I think I’m getting better, Kenshin.” Sanosuke was breathing hardly. “When the morning comes, you will invite Megumi here... she will get angry at me that I can’t protect myself... and then hit me with her medicine box... but after that everything will be normal again... Or maybe one day I will be able to see my dad... and my sister, and brother again... They miss me very much... they will be very happy...”

“Sano, stop...” Kenshin wanted to scream with all his voice, to express all his pain and tears, but that wouldn’t even be enough.

He was helpless...

But suddenly he realized that Sanosuke knew that he was dying, he just tried to fool himself because he couldn’t admit it. Kenshin cried even more, it hurt worst, he never cried so piercingly. So many years have passed when he killed and took the lives from many people. Their beloved ones cried and shouted out of sorrow, but he didn’t care for it. He didn’t pay attention, though something inside ordered him to stop killing. And now... now when the life of every human being was important to him and he finally found a new family, the fate took away his dear people. His transgressions and sins fell on him with the greatest blow, and now he will never regain what he lost. No laugh, no smile or tears of joy. No Sanosuke...

“Kenshin... I... I’ll always remember that day when we got to know each other.” The boy said silently. “I never thanked you for changing my life... Thank you, Kenshin, you’ve always been the best for me... I have admired you because I saw Captain Sagara in you. I wanted to be the same, I considered you the strongest...”

“Sano, I know.”

“Anyway... I wasn’t as good to you as you were to me. I want... everything to be different... to reward you for everything... I never thought that my day would end up like this... in a large puddle of blood... You know, when I fought you, I didn’t even realized it was you... How stupid...” Sanosuke smiled a little and let Kenshin’s hand out.

“Sano, close your eyes. I don’t want to see you die.” The man gently cupped his head and laid it on his lap without any reason to continue to take care of his wound. It was already too late. “Smile. Do this until the last second. Please.”

Sanosuke obediently closed his eyes.

“Can you... can you do it together with me?” He asked. “I want you to smile too...”

“Yes.” The tears ran through Kenshin’s cheeks, but he tried to smile. “I’ll do whatever you want now. You know what? Try to imagine that you are flying... flying very high... above all the clouds... you don’t know where, but you don’t care... because you don’t feel any pain... Just smile until the very end, okay?”

“I’m trying, Kenshin... I’m trying so hard...”

They stayed silent for a while, then Sanosuke suddenly made a loud gasp. The last moment has come, but he took the last thread of life because everything wasn’t said yet.

“Kenshin, I... I don’t want to... die... like this...” He whispered with the greatest fear, catching the last breath. And died. Kenshin sat against him with lowered head, holding Sanosuke’s cheeks with his palms. Nothing left in this room now, only Kenshin, dead body and a single candle, but it’s also faded away soon...

“Sanosuke!” Kenshin shouted with all his voice, the tears still ran through his cheeks and fell on the pillow. “Sanosuke!”

Kaoru ran out of the kitchen and kneeled down to him.

“Kenshin? Are you dreaming?”

The man suddenly sat and began to look around panicky, but the girl grabbed his shaky shoulders and looked at his wet eyes.

“Sanosuke...” He whispered. “Sano is...”

“Why are you crying?” Kaoru couldn’t understand. “What happened to you? Sanosuke is fine, he just came to the dinner, and you lay in bed all day. I thought you were sick, but I had to give so many lessons that I couldn’t check. Yahiko guessed you got drunk.”

“Am I... killed Sanosuke?”

“What? What are you talking about? He’s totally fine!”

“It was... just a dream?”

Kenshin suddenly got up from the bed and ran out of the room. He saw Sanosuke standing at the door, and breathed easier. Yes, all this was just a dream, he was really alive.

“Kenshin, I’m starving, don’t let jou-chan take up the kitchen!”

The man just smiled. He decided to make this evening special and made many dishes. Sanosuke brought a lot of sake, and they drank much more than ever. Kenshin was unusually silent that evening and listened to Sanosuke’s blabbers, his jokes now seemed much funnier. They invited even Megumi to the party, and this time she didn’t drop her eyes from Sanosuke. He looked somehow special today. Yes, because he changed, he reborn in Kenshin’s eyes, though he wasn’t even dead...

‘I’ll never let that happen.’ Kenshin thought with a smile. ‘I will never let him die. He is an important part of my family and nobody will change it.’

“Hey, Kenshin, why are you so calm?” Sanosuke broke his minds. “It’s better to sing together, what do you think?”

And he didn’t wait for the consent to sing. Kenshin smiled and couldn’t hold his tears. But this time he cried not from despair and pain, he cried out of joy, because he was happy to hear his voice again...

Futon – a thin Japanese mattress that is rolled up for the day.

Jou-chan – little missie or missy (Kaoru here).

-dono – an older version of -san (a polite suffix meaning Mr. Miss or Mrs).

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