"Just let me go, Kenshin! Don't worry about me.."

Kaoru didn't mean to sound so desperate. In fact, she'd intended just about the opposite. Let her voice sound firm, resolute. Not shake like a leaf in the wind. Not while Kenshin held fast to both, her hand and the edge of that cliff both their lives dangled from at this very moment.

How this had come to be could only be the work of a madman.

Actually, it was just that. This weirdo from overseas who'd come into the dojo a few hours ago, demanded to see Kenshin and when he did, pulled a revolver and shot him. Luckily (also, naturally) Kenshin had somehow dodged the bullet, as you say, and right away started a counter attack.

For a moment it had looked like Kenshin had defeated the weird stranger, then he'd sunken to his knees with a hiss, struck by a bullet, fired the second his counter had hit, his shoulder bloody from where the projectile had pierced flesh and damaged blood vessels. Kaoru had immediately started running towards him, worried, but he'd pushed himself back to his feet and ran off, the stranger following with a smirk.

He had chased Kenshin right to this cliff, somewhere in the midst of nowhere. And Kaoru had followed the both of them, much to Kenshin's horror. Of course the stranger had noticed her too and aimed at her.

It was her fault he was bleeding from two shot wounds, she realised that. If she hadn't followed him.. he wouldn't have jumped in the way to catch the bullet meant for her. He wouldn't have been stunned by it and that maniac couldn't have kicked both of them over the edge. His blood, warm but utterly misplaced outside his body, ran down the very arm that held her hand, reminding her of her failure and made his grip slippery. Not long and she'd fall anyway. If he just would let go, he could save himself, kick ass and save the day.

Their attacker now stepped closer to the edge, seemingly only now realising they were still here. His outlandish form loomed over them, his face a smirking mask, as he purposefully stepped on Kenshin's hand, drawing only as much as a silenced hiss from him, much to the man's disappointment.

"She is right, you murderer. Just let go. Don't make me waste another bullet."

"Damn you.. What is your quarrel with me, I ask? This one doesn't even know you!"

"You don't, eh? Then let me tell you a story, as present for your journey to the afterlife. Remember Akira Kiyosato?"

Kenshin took a deep breath and prayed. Not again..

Kaoru didn't see how he'd closed his eyes, teeth clenched, at the mention of the name that didn't ring any bells with her.

The man didn't wait for an answer. "I happen to be his distant cousin. So you'll understand I'll have to avenge him, yes?"

Again, he stepped on the hated murderer's hand, with more force this time, and Kaoru felt a slight rock go through both of them, as Kenshin lost his grip on the edge and they started falling. The man smirked down from the cliff that now rapidly gained distance as they fell.

Then everything went dark.

When she came to, every bone hurt. Not as bad as she'd thought they would, since each and every one of them would have to be broken by this point. Not to mention she should be dead in the first place. As she frowned over this simple fact, she heard a moan below her and as she looked, paled considerably before shuffling off Kenshin who then sighed in relief.

"K-Kenshin no baka, what do you think you're doing?!"

"Are you fine, Kaoru-dono?"

"I.. I guess so."


The rurouni tried to sit up, only to cry out in pain and fall back. With a sick feeling Kaoru realised he'd taken half the impact and shielded her from hitting the ground. The fact he was still breathing reassured her he likely wasn't fatally wounded, but how bad was it, exactly? She by far was no doctor. But were legs supposed to be in this weird angle..? Of course he wouldn't just drop to his death, she realised. He probably had attempted to land on his legs, but the additional weight and the height had put more stress on the bones than they could take..

Guilt made a harsh return and she looked away. Hadn't it been for her..

"Kaoru-dono.. don't.. don't blame yourself, degozaru..", he panted, forcing himself to sit. He couldn't do that if his spine was crushed, Kaoru assumed, watching him from the corners of her eyes. How dare he smiling now!

"I am glad you are alright Kaoru-dono, degozaru...", he actually grinned, the nerve! She tried to build up a decent feeling of guilt there, thank you very much!

"But.. your legs..", she began but he just shook his flaming red head.

"Just an inconvenience, degozaru.. Just a matter of willpower..", he said and, just like that, closed his eyes, breathed in and out slowly, then brought his broken legs under him and actually stood. Swaying, tears of pain in his eyes, but it would do. Kaoru rushed to his side, slinging one of his arms over her shoulders in a manner of supporting his weight.

"We need to find shelter, it's going to be dark soon", she said, spotting his sheathed Sakabatou a few steps to the left. He'd either lost it on the impact or willfully thrown it away before it could take or do any damage. Kaoru led him gently over to it, bowed down slightly to pick it up and held it to its owner.

"You probably should lean on it too..", she suggested and he weakly nodded, complyingly using the sword as a crutch, beads of sweat forming on his forehead. When she made a timid step forward he almost crumpled, somehow managed to stay on his feet though. From where they were, she could see a cave, just a few meters ahead, so Kaoru nodded to it.

"We'll go there. Hold on, Kenshin"

It took a while to get there and when they were barely inside the scarred man became dead weight. Someone must've had lived here before them, because there was a rice mat rolled out on the floor, worn but still good. A blanket, somewhat dirty but mostly without holes. Kaoru carefully lowered her precious cargo onto the mat, covered him with the blanket and was alarmed to find him glowing with fever.

~Figures..~, she thought, biting her lip. What was she supposed to do now?

".. find.. water..", she heard Kenshin mumble. Was he awake?

".. if you see.. a birch.. the bark..", he further said, then was out cold. Water..? Here? She'd have to outside to find some, but without something to carry it, even finding water wouldn't help. Luck would have it though, that on further inspection of the cave, the former inhabitant had stored a wooden bucket, so off she was, running with the bucket.