A/N: Hi everyone! A one-shot about City Hunter this time. Hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it! As always, feedback is welcome!

Breath of life

"Kaori!"

The young woman, unconscious, was barely breathing in his arms. The left side of her head was a mess of blood and skin. The bullet had shattered her jaw and cheekbone and half-entered her skull. On top of that, she was totally unresponsive and limp. He panicked.

"Kaori! Oh God, answer me! Kaori!"

Still no response. The blood was still gushing from her temple, she was becoming whiter by the second and her breathing was shallower. He jumped on his feet, cradling her against his chest, and ran up the stairs to the garage. He carefully settled her inside his Mini and, tearing away the hem of his tee-shirt, bandaged her head as best he could.

Then he buckled her seat belt and ran behind the wheel, trying not to let the panic engulf him. He had a job to do. No, not a job. A mission. A vitally important mission. He had to save her, to make her stay alive. She couldn't die, no. No on him. He never lost any of his clients, he wouldn't start with his partner, the love of his life. And if she died, he wouldn't be able to live. She was the breath of life in him. Witout her, he was worse than dead. And this time he wouldn't have the strength to cope.

"Please, Kaori, my love, please, stay alive! Don't die on me! Just don't! You can't die!"

He talked to her while driving like a maniac through the dense traffic of Shinjuku, focusing on reaching his goal as fast as humanly possible: the Doc's clinic. Soon he screeched to a halt at the foot of the building, and he extracted the young woman from her seat as gently as he could. She was still breathing short, fast breaths, and her skin was white as chalk.

He ran at top speed to the emergency unit, whispering loving and encouraging words in her ear, and kicked open the Doc's office door. The poor man jumped half a foot from his chair and Kazue, obviously sharing notes with him, started violently, a hand over her heart. But they soon ran to the man, shouting questions and orders. Following orders, he lowered her on a stretcher, and the Doc and the nurse whisked her away from his sight.

Silence fell upon him, and so did the remorse. It was all his fault. His fault. He collapsed on a chair in the nearby waiting room and, for the first time in his life, he wept.

Minutes, hours passed, and still he wept. But then...

"Ryô."

A soft voice and a light hand on his shoulder brought him back from despair. He hastily wiped his eyes with his hands and raised his head to meet the anxious stare of Saeko. She had deep lines of worry etched on her forehead, but she smiled slightly.

"I heard about Kaori. Kazue phoned Mick, and he spread the news at the Cat's Eye café. How is she?"

"No news", he managed with a constricted voice.

"What happened?" she asked as she sat next to him, her hand still on his trembling shoulder.

"She..." he started, but words failed him. The truth was too horrible to be voiced out loud. He couldn't believe it himself. The images danced in front of his eyes, making him groan in anguish.

"Please, Ryô", Saeko insisted kindly. "I need to know what happened. I need to cover for both of you. So please, tell me."

He shook his head, hands over his face again and elbows on his thighs. Saying it aloud... it was admitting his failure. His terrible mistake. He knew, and he didn't do anything. It was all his fault. She would die by his fault.

He broke down. He didn't care that Saeko could see him in this state. He could hear more people gathering around them, the quick, alarmed, bouncing step of Miki, the heavy pounding of Umibozû, the lithe footsteps of his best friend Mick, but he didn't care. He was just sobbing in his hands. Behold, the great City Hunter! he thought bitterly.

"Ryô", Saeko said again, more gentle than ever. "Please tell us what happened."

He couldn't meet their gaze, so he tried to steady his voice, then he spoke, hands still on his face.

"She shot herself."

"What? Impossible! Kaori-chan? No way!"

The chorus of voices around him, expressing horror and disbelief, was voicing his own rational mind. But he had been there, in their basement. So he told them.

She had told him she was going to train. She had had that weird voice and no light in her eyes. But he didn't worry too much. He knew she needed time after her sister Sayuri's death in a car accident in New York a few weeks ago, and she had trained like mad with her gun since then.

But a small voice in his mind had been nagging him, urging him to check on her. And so he complied. And when entereing the basement, he saw her, her brother's revolver in hand, pointing at her head, a devastated expression on her face. He ran at her side, screaming her name and wrestling the gun off her hand. But she had had time to shoot.

Silence fell again, a heavy, boiling silence thick as maple syrup. He could feel around him the unasked questions, the incredulity, even some resentment. So he confessed to all of them his greatest mistake, angry tears pouring down his cheeks and through his fingers.

"It's all my fault. I know she's in love with me. And I love her too. So much that I'm going to die if she does. I've been in love with her from the very first day I met her, so many years ago. And I said nothing. I did nothing, except make her suffer again and again. I'm not worth her love. I'm not worth the life she gave me. I wasn't there for her. For years she's been waiting for me, and I was too much a coward to tell her I love her. For weeks she's been crying over her sister's death, and I did nothing except my usual buffoon jokes. I noticed she has lost weight, the dark circles under her eyes, her sallow skin, and yet I didn't do anything. All my fault."

No words of comfort, no pats on his shoulders could shake him awake from this nightmare. He couldn't hear anything except the irregular beating of his heart, the shallow breathing escaping from his lungs, the roar of guilt echoing inside his skull, bouncing everywhere in his mind.

Only one thought left now. "I killed her."

And the pain became unbearable. His heart broke. He felt it clearly. No doctor would be able to save him, he knew it. And he thought it was for the best. Maybe, he would be able to see his angel a last time, on her way to heaven, before being thrown into hell.

"Ryô? Are you okay? Breathe deeply, Ryô!"

Saeko's urgent voice next to him was already fading away. He heard some footsteps, then the broken voice of Kazue.

"She's dead."

He lost all hope, all will then. The past was asking for amends. The angel dust, the countless cigarettes, the alcohol, the toxic fumes from all the explosives and fires, all surfaced again to bring him down. But no ghosts visited him, screaming for his blood. No one but...

"Ryô! Breathe, for heaven's sake! Doc, help! Ryô's having a heart failure!"

Miki's panicked voice reached him from a long distance, but her voice, like all others, soon faded away. He had eyes only for her. His angel. His breath of life.

"Kaori."

She smiled her radiant smile, and he forgot all the pain. She was here with him again, in the endless nothingness. She extended her hand, and he ran to take it.

"Shall we, Ryô?"

"I'm so sorry, Kaori."

"Don't be. Anaki's waiting for us, over there."

She pointed to a gateway, and he saw Makimura's silhouette against the pillar, waiting for them with a smirk and twinkling eyes. But...

"I won't be able to come, Kaori", he said sadly. "I killed too many people."

"But you saved even more people", she said, beaming. "Come, Ryô. Hideyuki's been waiting for too long."

"You're right."

At the gateway, still holding Kaori's hand, he stopped in front of his former partner.

"Hi, Maki. Long time no see."

"You sure took your time", Makimura said. "And I would rather have waited much longer to see you both again. But at least you're together now. Even if you're very much dead."

"Don't be such a spoilsport."

"Is Sayuki here?" Kaori asked her brother after embracing him. "And our parents?"

"Everyone is waiting for you."

He followed him, after sharing a deep kiss with Kaori who had never looked so happy in her life, while somewhere, far behind him, some women wept and a sad voice said "It's over. Ryô's dead. He died with her."


A/N: So, I hope you won't be too angry with me. I thought of Romeo and Juliet, their tragic ends, and it made me think about the end of our two lovers! But it's just a fanfic (huge sigh of relief) so Ryô and Kaori can still love each other in life, not in death! thanks for reading, and please leave a review!