The Sharpest Lives

BY : Jezz-Ra
Category: Rurouni Kenshin > Yaoi - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 4007
Disclaimer: I do not own Rurouni Kenshin, nor do I make money off it, more's the pity.

The Sharpest Lives 14 / ??
Written by Jezz-Ra
Warnings - Not all warnings apply to all chapters. 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 - This chapter is dedicated to my Fox, as she specifically asked for it in return for a favor. =D And I even pushed it out early, too!

I know this fandom is old but I have to have SOME followers. Review, y'all! Just say hi! I don't like thinking I'm writing for a crowd of like...two... so just give me a signal that you're out there and wanting more. On that note, much love to Sinnatious, my most famous reviewer and the one whose story unintentionally inspired me to work on this beast in the first place. =D

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There were seven men. They had two guns, six swords, two staves, and more daggers and miscellaneous other weaponry than a casual glance could guess. They had only one opponent, armed with a single katana.

They didn't have a single prayer.

Before any of them could respond past an alarmed twitch at the sudden look in the little redhead's eyes, he had vanished before their eyes with a ring of drawing steel. They didn't have long to remain confused, however. Three of them were dropped, howling and clutching at broken bones, before they even fully comprehended what had happened and could draw a weapon in retaliation.

Kenshin gave China it's first taste of the Demon of the Bakumatsu. He danced amidst the seven, blade flashing with impossible speed and surprising power, connecting with dull fleshy thuds and the occasional crack. Kenshin was seething, and it was a struggle to remember that these were ordinary, if ill-intended humans. His shots had to be more carefully aimed; even the blunted edge of the sakabatou could be deadly if aimed for the right place with enough force.
Indeed, after the revolution, he nearly HAD killed several men as he retrained himself to change his combat style slightly. As a hitokiri, he had learned to make fast and deadly strikes intended to kill on the first swing. Always, he would target places on the body that would bleed freely. The sakabatou was different, however. To use it to its utmost, he had to learn to shift his targets to things that would break and incapacitate rather than bleed. He still had to use some discretion. It wouldn't take much to crush someone's throat, cave in a skull, or gods forbid, run someone through out of reflex. The tip of the sakabatou was sharp, after all.

Kenshin made none of these mistakes, however. Admittedly, he had probably hurt these bandits more than was necessary, but he felt no remorse. The man who had shot Sano would likely never regain the use of his right arm. Kenshin hadn't felt such an intense desire to give in to his hitokiri side and draw blood as payment in a very long time.

// Sano...! //

The bandits were all but forgotten as Kenshin hurried over to check on his friend. He breathed a sigh of relief when he saw the rise and fall of Sano's chest - he was still breathing, still alive. He had only been shot once - the second shot must have been either to scare the horses or had missed. Gingerly, Kenshin pulled Sano's bloodstained jacket open. The shot had been wide, but not by much. Another inch or so to the right and they might have had his heart. Still a grim injury, but as long as he got the bullet out and it was tended properly, it should be alright. Kenshin sighed in true relief, feeling a weight lift from him. Since the shot had first rang out, he hadn't known if Sano was even still alive.

He hated to risk aggravating Sano's wound further, but he didn't think it was terribly prudent, either, to just sit around and wait for the seven bandits to wake up. He patted them down, collecting all of their weapons and hurling them off into the woods, save for a dagger that he tucked into the sash of his hakama.

Moving Sano was going to prove to be troublesome. The fighter was out cold and just dead weight, not to mention a good bit larger than Kenshin himself was. But they couldn't just stay here, either! Not only did they have an important quest to finish, the air smelled like rain and that would be bad for Sano's recovery. The wound wasn't immediately fatal but it was still serious. A fever or infection could definitely tip the scales the wrong way, out of their favor.

Kenshin did what he could to temporarily bandage the wound and at least stop some of the bleeding until he could tend it properly. Trying to lift Sano up in an effort to drag him quickly proved to be an exercise in futility. He was too big, for one thing, and that made his form awkward under the best of circumstances. He was lean, but had a lot of heavy muscle packed on his frame. Kenshin knew how to hit with devastating force with his sword, but that didn't mean he was terribly physically strong.

On a positive note, they had to be getting within range of town - the bandits were proof of that. No sensible bandit company would operate in the middle of a long stretch of road - they would be far more likely to catch travelers in areas where traffic was heavier, nearer towns or villages.

Kenshin frowned. The next town might as well be on the moon. There was no way he would get there with Sano in tow any time soon, not with the horses and their supplies gone. // Well, there's nothing for it, then. // With a determined nod, Kenshin hooked his arms under Sano's arms and began the tedious process of dragging him down the road.

o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o

It was extremely slow going, and soon Kenshin was numb from mounting exhaustion. He had made a concerted effort to put as much distance between them and the bandits with the remaining daylight as he could, and the clouds were starting to roll in. He knew the bandits could easily overtake them if they had a mind to, but he hoped that the beating he had given them would be enough to deter them. Hope was about all he could do - if they showed up now, he wasn't sure he had the strength left to lift his sword, much less fight with it.

Luck finally decided to give him one and he spied a dilapidated shack a short ways off the road, almost obscured by wild growth. A quick investigation allowed him to get a better feel of the place. The wood was old and graying, and there were some holes in the walls and one in the roof, but it was a lot more than he had expected to find for shelter. The floor was packed earth and there were a few rocks surrounding a small fire pit. Something that might once have been a straw mat was decaying in pieces over in one corner.

Kenshin wrestled Sano's limp form into the building before sagging against the wall in exhaustion. He didn't have time to waste, though, and he soon made his way out of their shelter to gather up enough firewood to last them the night. He rearranged some fallen branches and brush to cover the biggest of the holes as best he could before heading back inside.

Kenshin felt as if he had lead weights attached to all his limbs and the air felt more like deep water. He afforded himself a short break after getting the fire going, knowing that he couldn't work with his hands trembling as they were. The few minutes did nothing except practically lull him to sleep, however, and the redhead knew that was bad.

With a small sigh Kenshin shook himself back to being alert and went about unwrapping the temporary bandages. With infinite care Kenshin worked with the knife he had liberated earlier to dig the bullet out of Sano's flesh. It was lodged fairly deeply, and he had to work hard to put the thought out of his head on how much damage he could cause if he slipped.

However, Kenshin did not slip, and soon had the metal slug out of the wound. He put the knife blade in the fire before looking back at Sano. // Sorry about this... // Kenshin cringed at the terrible hiss as he touched the hot metal to the wound, but it was bleeding fairly badly and he didn't have a lot to work with. He had nothing to close up the hole, so he had to hope cauterizing and bandaging would be enough.

The samurai flushed away most of the blood from the surface of the wound with water before moving to finish up the whole process. // At least Sano comes pre-equipped with bandages...otherwise I don't know what I would have used. // Kenshin afforded himself a very slight smile as he propped Sano up and began wrapping the wound with the bandages he had taken from around the fighter's waist. Not really an ideal solution, but it was the best he could do under the circumstances.

Finally, he was done. He sank back against the wall of the shack, Sano's head resting in his lap. After a moment, Kenshin squirmed out of his haori and draped it over Sano as a makeshift blanket, listening to the rain starting to fall outside. It was a little cold, but he'd be fine. He was more worried about Sano's health right now than his own.

Sano hadn't so much as flinched during the operation, but his breathing was deep and even and his heartbeat was powerful and steady. He didn't seem to have any signs of fever. Kenshin took these as the best signs that he had that the fighter was going to be alright. Good.

He didn't know what he would do if he had lost Sano. Realistically he knew that they lived sharp and dangerous lives, dancing on the razor's edge as they made their way from one battle to the next. Any day could easily be their last. He had thought he had accepted it...but seeing Sano go down right before his eyes had hurt him in a way he didn't know he could still be hurt.

And, in truth, he hadn't been entirely honest with Sano, either. He hadn't lied, but that didn't mean he had told the whole truth either. He had told Sano he missed him but had understood when he left, all those years ago. That much was true...but he hadn't mentioned the lonely ache, the grief that went with all that. Even if he hadn't wanted to admit it, when Sano had left it seemed most of the light had been sucked out of his life as well. He wondered constantly what the fighter was up to, what sort of trouble he was getting into...if he would ever see his friend again. What if Sanosuke had died on some distant shore? Chances were he would never hear of it.

Really, he knew he shouldn't feel that way. Sano was moving on with his life. Kenshin had always known the fighter couldn't be caged in one place forever; too hot a fire burned in his spirit. His friend needed to get out and see the world. It wasn't right or proper for him to want to selfishly keep him there...his one and only dearest friend and trusted companion.

But then...Sano had always had that effect on him, hadn't he? Kenshin constantly found himself inspired to do things entirely contrary to what he would normally do, what was right and what was proper, when he was in the fighter's presence. Somehow, the rules were different with Sanosuke. Life moved to a different rhythm. There was just something about him that blurred the edges of Kenshin's rigid discipline, made him think and do things he never would have considered.

Sano had gotten under his skin almost immediately when they had met, worked his way into Kenshin's heart. Kenshin had found himself opening up to the fighter in ways he did with none other. Of course, Sano seemed to always know when he was faking a smile or had something eating at his mind and would, in his own way, go about trying to help make him feel a little better.

And Sano did make him feel better. Feel...

Kenshin slowly opened his eyes to look at Sano, his cheeks pinking slightly when he realized he had unconsciously been threading his fingers through Sano's unruly hair as he sat, lost in thought. He almost pulled away but then paused. Who was there to stop him or see him, anyway? He could allow himself this...this... well, what was it?

What did he feel for Sanosuke, exactly? It was a subject hard for him to even think about. He had admitted to loving him as he had all his friends, but did it run deeper than that? Was he so caught up in Sano's sudden and unexpected love for him that he was merely indulging his friend, not wanting to hurt him until his inexplicable...infatuation or whatever passed?

No. That wasn't true on any level, and he knew it. Strange, that it was, that he would find himself falling in love again after so long...and in the most unlikely of places. No matter how he looked at it, that's what it was...even if it almost took his friend's death to face up to that fact rather than dance around it or shy away from it as if it wasn't true. Kenshin was afraid to love, to be in love. The last time he had allowed it had had disastrous consequences and he wasn't sure if he could handle such pain again.

And of all people to hesitantly offer his heart to, who would have thought it would be Sanosuke? It sounded absurd. Kenshin had never been attracted to another man before. Of course, to be fair, he hadn't been attracted to any women either outside of Tomoe, and even she had sort of...fallen into his lap and it had taken time and association.

Oh, to be sure, he had recognized her beauty, but that wasn't the same as attraction. Kenshin recognized the beauty of much of the world...in nature, in other people, in things both simple and complex. Tomoe was striking, a beautiful model of what the female of the species could be. He had recognized this fact when he first saw her, but he had not harbored any attraction for her then. Lust and love just didn't play a part in the brutal life he had led.

"You really do confound everything I've ever believed in or about myself, Sano..." Kenshin finally murmured, his eyelids slipping shut again as if drawn with weights. There would be time to dwell on the confusion in his heart and soul in the morning.


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