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Disclaimer: I don't own these people, so please don't fry me.
Author's note: I'm hoping I get this done before I leave for vacation! I have a lot of stuff to do before then so well see. I hope you enjoy it!


When the Earth Moves..
Chapter Four
By Athena


Kenshin pulled the gi back over Kaoru's now sleeping form. He didn't know how long it was that he had held her, it could have been minutes, or it could have been hours. But one couldn't measure the passage of time in this world they were in. His shoulders and had developed gooseflesh, from the coolness of Kaoru's drying tears. He closed his eyes, remembering the horrible sounds of her heart wrenching sobs. He had heard them before, and they haunted his dreams still. He rubbed his arms briskly trying to return the warmth to them. His eyes still closed, he took a deep breath testing the air.
*That's what I thought.* He accepted silently. Their air was slowly running out. He could feel fear reaching into his gut like a nagging hunger. He was hungry, but hunger was something he had faced before. The fear though, wasn't for him it was for her. He opened his eyes, letting his gaze fall on the most important thing to him in the world. He would wonder about it sometimes, wonder about just when and how she became so important to him. That night in that street when she had accused him, was the best thing that had ever happened to him. After that night, she never had accused him again. Through all the battles, all the pain and fear that his past had dealt her, she remained steadfast in her loyalty, never wavering. He loved her for that. He chuckled softly. He loved everything about her, her bravery, her kindness, the way she could find joy in the smallest of things and then be determined to share it with the world. Hell, he even loved her horrible cooking. * Face it Kenshin, you love her. * His heart told him, finally whispering the truth that he had know all along but had been too afraid to let himself even dream. He knew that she probably didn't think of him that way, only as a dear friend. Sighing, he took note of their surroundings. Taking a few limping steps, he walked the perimeter of the cave. It was not very large, only about the size of his room at the dojo. He placed his hand against the cool stone. * I wonder if that other woman is still alive?* He doubted it, she would have been only a few feet on the other side of this wall, and if their air was running out, it must be pretty thick.
Making a mental layout of the cavern in his mind he turned to the small pool of water that had accumulated in the corner next to where Kaoru lay. Returning to his place by her side he cupped his hand and dipped it into the clear pool. Raising it to this lips he tasted it. It had strong mineral taste to it but in was cool, and it slid down his throat smoothly. He turned to Kaoru and placed his hand on her forehead, finding it warmer that before. Her fever was getting worse. The small pressure was enough to wake her from her shallow slumber. Her eyes fluttered open and she looked evenly at him, her eyes red-rimmed from crying.
" Hey.." She spoke, her voice barely above a whisper. He turned to her and offered a reassuring smile. She closed her eyes for a second and took a deep breath, hissing when her ribs protested. She slowly shook her head and looked up at him. " I'm a mess aren't I ?" She brushed her bangs off her face and paused when she felt the heat radiating off her forehead. " Oh and a fever too? How wonderful." She groaned sarcastically. Kenshin's smile faded, and he ripped a strip of cloth off his hakama and dipped in to the chill water. He offered it to her, she took it and placed it on her head. Closing her eyes sighing in satisfaction, she let her head lean back against the rock. Without opening her eyes she spoke to him. " Are you just going to sit there and pretend my questions are rhetorical?" He shook his head.
" No I'm just worried that's all." He turned his back to the wall and leaned against it, parallel to Kaoru. He could hear her nod.
"Is it because we are running out of air?" She asked calmly. His eyebrows shot up surprised.
" You know?" She nodded.
" Yeah, I noticed it when I took that deep breath. I notice a lot of things, just because I don't say anything doesn't mean I don't know." She paused, talking too much began to make her head throb, but she need to talk a bit with someone, or else she would go insane. " Do you think that the other woman made it?" She turned her head sideways and looked at him. He shook his head.
" I don't think so, the wall is pretty thick and she was only a few feet away from where I fell." He admitted rubbing his arms again, the temperature was dropping even more.
" It's getting colder in here. Do you think its night by now?" She knew he was cold, and she couldn't let him get sick too. * I'm going to some how convince him to take his gi back. Yeah, good luck on that one Kaoru. Ok, there is only one way I'm gonna get him warm. *
"Yeah , It has to be. It is early spring and it still gets cold at night." He paused, Kaoru was moving, but he couldn't quite figure out where she was going. " Kaoru, what.." He began, but she silenced him with a look.
" Don't you start, I know you'll just sit here and let yourself freeze to death. And that would really put a damper in my already awful day. I'd ask you to take your gi back, but I know you won't because you're too much of a gentleman to worry about yourself." She lectured him coming to rest against his right shoulder. " Now are you going to get warm of are you going to let yourself freeze?"
He laughed softly and put his arm around her pulling her into the crook of his arm. She wedged herself in there, leaning her head against his chest. Pulling the tattered gi over them he could feel the heat return to his limbs again. Her body was unnaturally warm and it had him worried but at least she wasn't to terribly hot. She was still relatively safe. *Please stay that way. * He pleaded. He had to admit to himself that is wasn't a need for warmth that had been the final reason why he had accepted, but the need to have her in his arms again. It just felt so right.
" See that wasn't so painful was it?" She asked, getting comfortable.
" No." He admitted, holding her a little tighter.
*Mission accomplished.* She congratulated herself. Even if it had been warm she might have dared herself into making this move. She really liked the feel of his arms around her. She felt like she was in the safest place in the world. Feeling sleep calling at her again, she fought it, wanted to stay awake, just a while longer. " Kenshin?"
"Humm?"
" Do you think that they are looking for us, Sano and the others?" She inquired, letting her eyes close. Why was she so tired?
" Knowing our friends, they are probably already working to dig us out as we speak." He looked at her to offer a friendly smile, but she was already asleep. He pushed some errant strands off her dirt smudged face. He closed his own eyes. *Please, if you are going to rescue us, hurry. *

Torch light shone over the small rescue camp. A picket line stretched from inside the cave to entrance. Having just started, the line lacked smoothness, but it was working and the rocks were being cleared. Yahiko and Megumi, not being able to help clear anything a way, sat on a rock watching the whole production.
" You did a wonderful job, Yahiko. I'm really proud of you." Megumi smiled and put a hand on his shoulder giving it a gentile squeeze. He looked up at her , blushing a bit.
" Thanks, I couldn't think of anyone as strong as Sano that could help him with the rocks he would be pulling up. I started thinking that if I couldn't get help, I would never have Kaoru's horrible cooking again. Then I remembered the one person who actually likes it!" He explained, he was tired from his three trips back and forth, but was way to wired with worry to possibly go to sleep. Remembering something, he pulled a large basket up from behind the rock they were sitting on. He placed it in her lap. "Here are the things that you asked for." Her eyebrows raised, at the size. " Tae sent some food and water." He added having understood her confusion. He looked at the cave next to the one that was being dug out. " When my parents were still alive, my mom used to bring me up here to get mushrooms." He remembered, nodding is head towards the cave. " That one is a favorite of little kids. I didn't understand just why then, but some of the mushrooms that grow on the wall in there glow and.." He was cut off by Megumi's startled gasp. She grabbed him by the shoulders and looked him squarely in the eye.
" What did you say?!" She practically shouted. Yahiko looked shocked but answered her firmly.
" Yeah, that cave over there, all the kids call it the 'glow cave'. Why?" She released his shoulders so quickly, bolting for the cave entrance that Yahiko almost fell off the rock." *What's up her butt? *
" Sanosuke!" She yelled bolting passing the sumo wrestlers and headlong into the cave.
"What?" Sano asked sounding a bit annoyed. She ignored his tone, this was more important.
" We're digging in the wrong cave! It's the one right next to this one. Remember that Tae said that the child had called it the glow cave? Yahiko says that the cave next to this one has glowing mushrooms, and little kids gave it that name!" She reasoned, gesturing with her hands.
" Shit! Are you sure?" He cursed dropping the large rock he was holding. A sheen of sweat on his brow. Taru-Maru nodded vigorously.
" Yeah, I remember to, it was a long time ago but it was so pretty!" He added helpfully. Sano dashed out of the cave, Megumi and the others following. He skidded to a halt, staring at the large boulder in front of the cave. He stared at it as if it had just offended him. This sucker was in the way. He cracked his knuckles, nothing got between Sagara Sanosuke and his friends.

To be continued..

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