The Sharpest Lives

BY : Jezz-Ra
Category: Rurouni Kenshin > Yaoi - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 3973
Disclaimer: I do not own Rurouni Kenshin, nor do I make money off it, more's the pity.

The Sharpest Lives 1 / ??
Written by Jezz-Ra
Warnings - Yaoi, Lemon, Violence, Language, Angst
Disclaimer - I don't own Rurouni Kenshin, don't make money off it. Wish I did.

Archived at - anime.adult-fanfiction.org, fanfiction.net, and mediaminer.org ::: Anywhere else, ask!
Questions or Comments? - Email me at megami_no_remon@hotmail.com

// blah // indicates thoughts.

A/N - Story born on July 27th, 2009. This story is set closely following the end of the anime series, but prior to any events that occurred in the Reflection OVA. I do understand that not everything I say will be entirely canon, but I don't intend to stray too drastically from the main storyline in regards to things that have gone before. It is only what happens AFTER the last episode of the anime that I shall be playing with. Plenty of spoilers.

I'm not sure how many RK fans are out there these days, especially those of the yaoi persuasion...but as I couldn't find enough fics to slake my own lust, I'll write one of my own. I will update this...as often as I can. More often if I receive more reviews than I am expecting.

Story title is taken from the song by the same name. "Give me a shot to remember / and you can take all the pain away from me / a kiss and I will surrender / the sharpest lives are the deadliest to lead". Song is by My Chemical Romance.

So without further ado...it is time for me to begin on my newest journey. I hope you all enjoy.
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The first few steps had been the hardest.

Walking away from the Kamiya dojo after so long was one of the most difficult things Kenshin had ever forced himself to do. It wasn't just the dojo he was leaving, after all. It was a place where he was cared for. It was his friends. It was a place he felt at peace, a place where the pain he had suffered began to loosen its grip on his heart and let him smile again. It was warmth.

It was home.

// Home... // the samurai had mused to himself as he forced his feet to move along the path littered with cherry blossoms, away from the best thing that had ever happened to him. He had never thought he'd find a place that he could call home, not after he had left his Shishou's home way up on the mountainside. But life since he had stumbled upon the Kamiya dojo had been full of surprises. He had found more than just a place to rest for a night or two.

It had meant more to him, he knew, than Kaoru would ever realize when she had told him that she didn't care about his past or who he had been. Even if the words had been spoken with ignorance and naivete, it had been nice to think that maybe somewhere he could find someone that would care for him for who he was, despite his bloody past. He had assumed then that, should the truth come out in full, he would have been cast out.

But life continued to twist away from the reality he had come to accept. His little group of friends had grown. They had learned of some of his dark history, and they incredibly, impossibly judged him on who he was now and not who he had been. Kenshin had found true friends, people he could trust and depend on, people that truly cared for him as he hadn't been cared for in so many, many years...not since his Shishou.

Oh, surely, Hiko would have denied caring for his baka deshi in any way...but Kenshin knew better, had always known better. Hiko hid his affection for the redhead under gruff insults, ego, and more sake than it seemed any individual could consume without being pickled...but Kenshin had known. He had seen the genuine affection in his master's dark eyes, felt it in the way Hiko had cared for him. And now that he was an adult...older, wiser, and far more worldly... he could see, too, how much Hiko had tried to save him from himself.

No matter the reasons he had spouted, Hiko had known Kenshin wasn't a murderer. The little redhead was so gentle and kind-hearted, truly desiring only the best for people...wanting nothing more than to ease the pain and suffering of people he had never met, whom would never thank him, with no thought for himself. Hiko had, at that moment when Kenshin first announced his intent to leave, bitterly regretted teaching him the art of violence and had wondered, if left alone, if the redhead might not have chosen a different and more peaceful path...that of a farmer, a doctor, a fisherman... Hiko had tried to sway his beloved baka deshi from a path he knew would slowly extinguish the light in those brilliant amethyst eyes, a path that would break Kenshin's heart and tatter his soul.

But Kenshin had left regardless. Even now, with his hands stained with so much blood...he could not say he regretted his choice...but rather he regretted having to make the choice in the first place. If given the same set of circumstances, even knowing how much it would hurt all these years later...Kenshin would have reached the same decision. It was horrible, what he had done...and every time his blade bit into flesh, he died a bit more inside... but he had made a difference. The goal he had believed in had come to pass.

As Hiko had feared, such incredible violence had broken something inside Kenshin. It had been shocking, really, how easily he had killed his first man. It was just as it had always been in training...a swift draw, a darting twist and deft flick of his wrist against a wary opponent. Only his target was no Seijuro Hiko. Instead of the familiar clash of steel, there had been a thick, fleshy thump...the brief resistance of bone and sinew being rent asunder, the bright burst of hot blood.

Kenshin had stared for so long at the fallen man as his own soul screamed in horror and his heart twisted up inside him, horribly sick at what he had done. His mind had quailed at the the thought, screamed that he could never, never again allow something so dreadful to take place. Not with his own hands.

But it had. Over and over...countless had fallen to his blade. He had become the antithesis of his very being. He had become a merciless, cold slayer of men whose name alone was enough to cause the most stalwart of men to quiver in dread and bone-deep terror. He had become the Battousai, and locked Himura Kenshin's heart away within him. He thought maybe, just maybe, he could survive this war.

Then Tomoe had fallen into his life...and in the midst of it all she had unintentionally dug her way through the Battousai's defenses, burrowed into him and found her way to Kenshin's fragile heart. He had come to love her as he had loved the illusion of peace in which he lived. Some mornings, he was almost able to believe in this fantasy that was his cover...the young apothecary and his beautiful wife, living peacefully on the edge of town, with their little garden growing food and medicinal herbs.

But things had gone so horribly, horribly awry. When Tomoe fell to his own sword, Kenshin had almost died himself. Perhaps, in many ways, he had. He had sworn the oath to never again take the life of another once this war was over, and he had stuck to it.

The first few weeks after the war were some of the most difficult. Kenshin was directionless. The easiest answer would have been to accept one of the several offers he had received to join the military...or the less savory offers to continue on with a mercenary life, an unparalleled killer for hire. But no. Kenshin refused. He clung to the frayed thread of his ideals to use his sword to help people.

Slowly, ever so slowly...he was able to subdue the ruthless Battousai he had become. It had been extraordinarily difficult, and Kenshin's sanity was surely cracked. He found himself wavering between his two selves, torn between two sets of ideals and ways of life that could not have been more different. The violent internal struggle had threatened to tear him asunder and leave him a gibbering wreck.

But somehow, he had persevered. He had taken up the sakabatou and begun his long journey. A large part of him had ached to return home to the familiar comfort of his Shishou's quiet mountain house...but he couldn't bring himself to turn down that path. Not then, with the blood so fresh on his hands, having so blatantly disregarded his master's wishes and heartfelt warnings. He had believed in his heart that his Shishou would be deeply shamed by his actions.

There was nowhere else for him to go, and so he had simply gone where his feet carried him. When he found people in trouble, he did what he could to help. It never erased the pain, it could never make up for the sins he bore...but every life he saved, every person who's life he had made better...it had eased the ache enough that he could manage to live on day to day.

Day by day, mile by mile, Kenshin was able to lay Battousai to rest and walk away from his past. He knew it was not something he could run from, of course, and he never tried...but he WAS able to distance himself from it.

And of course, even if he had been able to put his past out of his mind for even a day, his enemies were innumerable and always, always threw it back in his face. No matter how hard he tried to avoid conflict, it would find him, overtake him. He grimly clung to his oath and fought to preserve his ideals and, more recently, to protect his friends. Throughout it all, even through the fight with Shishio...he had not slain another.

Slowly the enemies had dwindled, and life had settled into a comfortable routine at the dojo. The occasional conflict cropped up, but it was dealt with and peace had returned. As the peace stretched into longer and longer spans of time, Kenshin's unease grew. In part, he felt guilt at not using his skills to help others in an effort to atone for his past. The bigger problem, however, was the peace itself. He had a home, good friends, and a woman whom he knew had come to love him.

And he deserved NONE of it.

How could he ever be happy? He above all others did not deserve it. For all the lives he shattered, how could he ever allow himself that pleasure? The war between his guilt and his duty to protect his friends raged endlessly in his mind.

Then the day had come when Sanosuke left. The fighter had announced that he was going to do some traveling of his own. Kaoru, Yahiko, and everyone else had been horribly upset and begged him not to go. Kenshin said nothing. Sanosuke had finally cornered him standing alone on the riverbank.

Sanosuke had been unable to hide the hurt in his eyes as he had confronted Kenshin. "So, what...you don't care if I just up and walk away? Everyone else is having a fit, but you haven't said ANYTHING."

Kenshin looked over at him and smiled softly. It was one of his very rare, true smiles...not the plastic, fabricated ones he pasted on for the benefit of others. Sano knew him well enough to know the difference. He was quiet for a long moment before he finally spoke. "Sano...I only hope you find what you are looking for out there, that I do."

Sano eyed him for a long moment as the truth dawned on him. Kenshin hadn't made an effort to stop him because he, above all others, understood. Even without knowing all the lanky fighter's reasons...even without knowing ANY of them...Kenshin understood. The fighter nodded and then pulled the redhead into his arms, hugging him tightly. Then he had left without another word.

For the next couple of years, Kenshin had remained at the dojo, but things weren't the same for any of them with Sanosuke gone. The fighter had always been quick to laugh and quick to fight, quick to pull a friend into a hug or cheer them up if they were down. The group had borne the loss stoically, however, and eventually got used to Sanosuke's absence even if they never forgot him or stopped missing him.

Kaoru had finally, after so much time, grown frustrated enough to corner Kenshin and bluntly confess all of her feelings for him. She admitted how very terribly she had come to love him, told him she KNEW that he was well aware of it, and demanded to know where he stood.

Kenshin had thought long and hard on the subject over time. He was able to admit that he had never revealed his own feelings on the matter out of a deep desire to protect Kaoru, even from himself and the hurt he knew he would inevitably cause her. It was hard for him to see her tears. He did not...could not...love her like she wanted him to. He loved her, to be sure...loved her fiercely and would do anything to keep her from pain...but he was not IN love with her. He could not be with her.

He did not deserve her love. He didn't deserve ANYONE'S love.

Kaoru had taken it hard. In her mind, she had convinced herself that she could heal Kenshin's pain, that he would return her feelings wholeheartedly. It was frustrating. She knew, even if Kenshin hadn't let on that he felt unworthy, that it was the case. She had yelled at him. She had told him he had to let go of his past, he had suffered enough, that he deserved to be happy as much as anyone else...that no one else could make her happy.

Kenshin had given her a quiet, sad smile and a hug with his heartfelt apology. Kaoru had fled, crying, unable to or unwilling to understand and accept his position. Kenshin hated to see her hurting, especially knowing that he was the cause of her suffering. But he knew, too, that she was young and with time, she would recover even if she was convinced at this moment that she never would, that no one could mean as much to her.

Two days later, he had left the dojo with the rising of the sun. He didn't know if he would ever return. He liked to think and believe in his heart that some day, he would find himself at peace enough to return.

Those first few steps were the hardest.


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