Disclaimer: I don't own 'em. I didn't create 'em. So don't take me!
Author's note: Well here it is. I'm hoping that this writing kick I'm on will last long enough for me to finish this story. Megumi and Sano get a bit a potty mouthish. Its not bad but a bit more than I usually put in, just wanted to give a heads up. If you don't know who Toro-Maru is, he is a Sumo wrestler that the Kenshin-Gumi helped out of a spot in the first season. Enjoy!
When the Earth Moves..
The soft sound of dripping water, was the first thing that Kaoru could recall hearing as she awoke slowly from the depths of unconsciousness. Her eyes blinked, the darkness in the cave not all that different from the void of unconscious. The dull glow of the mushrooms let off a soft blue light, illuminating the small pool of water that had accumulated in a corner only about a foot away. She knew that if this had been any other time, she might have thought it was pretty. The air was cold, but she was suprisingly warm, and she was leaned against something soft. Her hand drifted to her sore ribs, but found that it was not the only hand there. Two actually, encircled her waist applying gentile pressure, pushing her against some unknown source of warmth. She placed her hands atop those already there, feeling out each finger, each callous, already knowing just whose hands they were. She was wrapped in Kenshin's arms, safe and warm. If this had been any other time, she might have thought it heaven. She could feel his warm breath on her neck and the rising of his chest when he inhaled.
*He's sleeping. * She reasoned from observing his breathing patterns. * It must be deep too, because even my small motions would have woken him up before. He's normally such a light sleeper. * She took a tally of her situation. She was trapped in a cave with Kenshin, quite a few injuries that weren't immediately fatal, but could become so without treatment. She still couldn't feel her legs, and the fact terrified her more than she would ever let anyone know. But she was a rational girl and knew that there was nothing that she could do about it right now, so better to avoid panicking both herself and Kenshin. Her ribs were another worry, her breathing, while easier now that she wasn't on her stomach was still quite painful, and she almost had to remind herself to take breaths. It was almost as if her body had forgotten how. * It's just because I'm scared is all. * She rationed to herself. She knew that she was covered in cuts and bruises but those were of little concern. Her shoulder wound… *Wait a minute wasn't there a big.. * She trailed off realizing what Kenshin had done after she had passed out. She thanked the Gods for letting her be asleep during that little procedure. * It must have been hard for Kenshin..* She paused, realizing she had the perfect opportunity the check on Kenshin's wounds. She knew her Rurouni well, and knew that once he was awake, he would too busy coddling her to take care of himself. With babbling slowness she gently peeled his hands away from her waist. It almost hurt her, because she could have stayed in his arms like that forever. But she knew if they had any chance of getting out of this alive so that one day he could hold her so again out of love and not necessity would take a level head. * I hate it when I'm rational. * She grumbled to herself. She didn't know exactly when it was when she had fallen in love with him, but she had and she had fallen hard. Perhaps it was the way he smiled at the simplest of things, or that adorable noise he made that was so different from any other sound on this earth. Maybe it was the way that he protected his family, and cared for innocents, risking his life for a stranger. Conceivably though it was that all of those wonderful traits rolled into one good-looking man. * You can have your cake and eat it too. * Drifted through her mind and she almost laughed aloud. She stopped herself before she woke Kenshin. She looked at his face for a few moments. * Wouldn't it be wonderful if he felt the same way? * She thought sadly. To him she was just a friend, a sister perhaps. That's all she was, a slip of a girl who always got into to trouble and couldn't cook worth a damn. She shook her head. *Stop kidding yourself. * She berated herself tartly, she was just dreaming. * After someone like Tomoe, why would he possible want me? * She shook herself out of her wishful revere and noticed that Kenshin was without his gi. Understanding where she had just been was in Kenshin's arms without his shirt. She blushed and an evil grin spread across her face. * Megumi would be sooo jealous. * She shook her head, regretting it instantly because it only made her lightheadedness worse. She reminded herself that the object of her scrutiny could wake at any moment, and she had to get some work done. Using her arms, finding that she had at least some use of her left arm, she balanced herself on one hip. Using her right arm, she pulled her legs, which refused to move on their own, over a few feet. Now in a semi-sideways position she could have a better look at him. She could make out a large amount of blood on this side of his face but couldn't tell blood from wound in the dim light. His chest, while it appeared unhurt, was stained with blood both at the crook of his neck and further down on his chest. * My shoulder..* She remembered her right hand drifting to the wound, to find it bandaged. She looked down at the gi. Still partially covering her, she found that all the lining had been ripped out. * So that's what he used. * Wondering where the rest of the blood came from, her hand went to her head and found that it came away with a slightly sticky substance. * Great. * She wiped the blood off on her Hakama and added it to the list of injures. Going back to Kenshin, she took a closer look at his chest and found the beginnings of deep bruises forming around his ribs. *Looks like you and I are in the same predicament Kenshin. * She looked the rest of him over and except for a swollen ankle, he looked all right. *I've certainly helped nurse him threw worse. Suddenly her vision blurred, and the cave seemed to turn upside down. Her equilibrium gone completely, her hand shot out, seeking any form of stabilization. Unfortunately it shot out right into Kenshin's face. Startled he shot up from where he was seated, forgetting about two things. His ankle, and the low ceiling. Coming crashing back to the floor just about as fast as he went up, his eyes went all dizzy looking and a hand went to his offended head.
" Oorroo.." He wined rubbing his head, having temporarily forgotten their predicament. When he heard a gasp, and opened his eyes to see Kaoru's hand shoot to floor quickly in a desperate attempt to stay upright even in a seated position, it all came flooding back to him.
"Kaoru-dono!" He reached forward grabbing her nearest shoulder, trying to steady her. He seemed to be forgetting a lot of things. She cringed away letting out a yelp of pain. Loosing balance completely, she gave up on regaining it and let her aching body fall where it will.
*I'm sitting anyway, I don't have far to go. * She rationalized waiting for the ground to come up to meet her. It never did. Kenshin had caught her just before she hit a rock pillow. Still not understanding what had happened, he sat her up gently and pulled her back up against the rock, fitting her into the relatively comfortable niche he had been in. He noticed grimly that she made no attempt to move her legs. They simply followed her body, dead weight. He pulled the remains of his hakama over her again and tucked it around her neck.
*All the more reason for her not to be moving, there must be a spinal injury and she should avoid all movement possible. * He put his hand up to her fore head and pushed it gently back. The heat he found there shocked him. She had a fever! All the reasons for a fever ran through his mind, trying to find one that fit. Infection was what came to mind first. A hand grasped his wrist weakly, he hadn't realized that he had yet to remove it from her forehead. She pulled it away and but continues to hold his hand needing the contact. She squeezed it, reassuring both herself and him that they here still alive.
" I'm alright Kenshin, I just move around a bit too much and got dizzy, that's all." She smiled a bit to prove it. She needed him to say something to her, anything. She missed words, and sounds. It was a void in this cave, only darkness and horrifying silence were companions. He squeezed her hand back and released it, checking her pulse.
" Kaoru, how do you feel?" He asked noting that the pulse was shallower that he would like, but steady. He could feel the chill of the cave bit at his bare skin, he pushed it away it wasn't important right now.
" I'm ok, really I just woke up before you did and wanted to make sure you were alright because I know you wouldn't check your injuries yourself. You're really bad about that you know." She gave him a stern look. He shook his head and looked at her. He almost looked mad. When he spoke was few notches louder.
" Of coarse I'm alright! I'm not the one who took a whole rockslide on my back. You always worry about other people and never yourself." He lectured her, throwing his hands up in frustration. To his utmost surprise, she started to laugh. She fought to control the laughter that was hurting her ribs and eventually got it to a bearable chuckle. He looked at her exasperated. " What could possibly be funny?" He couldn't believe his eyes. Here they were, trapped inside a cave, both injured, her seriously and she was laughing?
" You." She said plainly, her laughter slowed to a smile.
" You, just described yourself is all." She closed her eyes from a second then opened them to find Kenshin giving her an odd look. She poked and indignant finger at him. " Don't look at me like that, you worry the wits out of me all the time so don't you dare." Shaking his head, he up on his point. He was glad that the conversation was a bit lighter, but with great regret he knew that he had to be serious again. He scooted down to Kaoru's legs and raised an eyebrow, a silent question. She nodded and bit her lip, getting serious again. He pulled back the Hakama and took a closer look at her legs. He wasn't a doctor, but he knew enough about the human body, he had had to know a lot about it to use its weaknesses to his advantage. Her leg needed to be set for sure, but the other was beyond his knowledge. He looked to Kaoru, who had leaned her head back against the wall, her eyes closed. He reached down and pinched her leg hard just above the knee. She didn't even flinch, unaware that he had touched her at all.
" Kaoru-dono, can you feel you legs at all?" He asked her, his voice almost whisper soft. She didn't make eye contact with him, and instead, she ignored him completely and picked up his hakama and folded it down in her lap, giving it a look of scrutiny.
" You know I think I can salvage this. Everyone can tease my cooking, but you can't touch my sewing skills. Do you know how many times I've had to sew this thing up? I mean bad guys are always slicing this thing up. And every time I sew it right back up with barely a seam." She patted it absently pinching the fabric with her fingers. She wished he would leave it alone. This whole thing was catching up with her and the last thing she wanted was to let Kenshin see her breakdown. She needed desperately for him to think that she could handle any situation. That she was brave. * Please Kenshin just let it be. * She begged silently. He would not fall back.
" Kaoru.." He began, not like the way her hands were shaking. She shook her head.
" No really, I'll have to get some new lining but I think I can do it. Cause when I sent my mind to something.."
"Kaoru-dono, please.." He implored, putting a hand on her shaking ones. It was all it took. She pulled a hand out of his grasp, and covered her mouth trying desperately to stop the emotions that were flooding to the surface. A sob clutched in her throat and tears swelled in her eyes. He leaned forward and pulled her into him. She found that in his arms was not a feeling of accusation, but of acceptance. And for the first time, she let go of all the pain, all the worry and loneliness that had settled deep in her heart over the years. It was in the arms of this man, this wandering swordsman, that at last she was set free.
The sun had set sometime ago and it had become impossible see anything. It was a new moon and the sky was not even lit by even the smallest sliver of that shining globe. Sanosuke, still inside the cave was relying on feel to clear it out. He couldn't understand why it was taking so long. * How deep does this fucking cave go!?* He asked himself angrily. He was barley making any progress. Megumi stepped into the mouth of the cave.
" Sano, you need to stop! You are just burying yourself; the rocks you are moving are too heavy for me to clear them away from the mouth of the cave. You are only making it worse!" She implored, only able to make out the outline of his body in the darkness of the cave. She wasn't at all surprised by the reaction that that particular suggestion would cause.
" Hell no! You think I'm just going to stand here while my friends could be hurt, dying? I not just the type of person who gives up on their friends so easily! At least I care enough to not want to give up!" He snapped, instantly regretting it.
" How dare you!" Megumi shouted, stepping up to him. " You are a selfish bastard! Do you think I'm not worried too? They are my friends too, my family. I feel just as you do, that every second that is wasted could be seconds that could save their lives! What you are doing is making it worse for yourself! With out any way to see, you could pull out a wrong rock and have them all fall on you. How could that possibly help Kenshin and Kaoru?" She asked demandingly, furious at him for thinking she didn't care. She was shocked by the lack of an immediate retort, could it possible be that he had excepted that she was right? No such luck.
" Look, Fox Lady, I know you care, but for me I have to be doing something. If it all falls on me I'll just clear it out, and start again until I find them." He turned back to picking up rocks and tossing them over his shoulder. That was it, she had had it. She grabbed his arm and pulled him around to face her. Grabbing the front of his shirt she pulled his face close to hers. Enough that he could see the anger in her eyes.
" Listen you stubborn son of a bitch, if you wanna be a careless asshole, do it on you own time. But don't you dare presume to think that I'm gonna let you act like a childish shit-head when it could cost me the lives of my friends. If that's what you think, your way off." She yelled in his face, not remembering a time when she had been this angry with him. She pushed him away and crossed her arms over her chest, leaning against the cave wall. She noted with silent victory that he had yet to say anything. Sighing she looked out of the cave, the starry sky, having risen enough to begin to let a bit of light into the cave. " Now I'll ask you one more time to stop and wait till help comes. Please Sano, once, just this once do as I ask." She prayed that he would listen to her. * Please, Sano, just this once. Don't let your ego rule over your common sense. * She heard him sigh in the darkness, letting his hands slap against his legs.
" Alright, I'll wait until Yahiko gets back. Barring any problems, that should be pretty soon."" He reasoned, feeling suprisingly unembarrassed at letting her win. She was right anyway, not that he would ever let her know it. His words had been way out of line, and he knew it. Sighing again, he knew what he had to do. He bit his lip, determined not to bungle a simple apology. * Alright Sagara, time to eat crow.* " Look Megumi, I've been in a horrible mood all day, and I had no right to say those things to you." He paused, looking for a reaction. She was waiting for two particular words. " I just wanted to say that I'm sorr.."
" Hey guys I brought help!" Yahiko shouted suddenly appearing at the mouth of the cave. A bright torch in his hand sent bright light into the cave, illuminating his sweat and dirt smudged face. Sano didn't know if he wanted to hug the kid or strangle him, and from the look on Megumi's face, she felt the same way. He turned his lanky form towards the boy. He raised a skeptical eyebrow.
" Wow, a torch." He raised his thumb. " Way to go there Yahiko-Chan." He stated sarcastically. To his surprise, Yahiko only ignored him.
"No porcupine-head, I brought them." He waved his hands and a surprise emerged from around the corner. There, standing with each a torch, stood Toro-Maru and the entire Sen-Ryu-Yamma Sumo Wrestling team. Help was here, en force.
To Be Continued..
Questions, comments, flames?