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Black spots danced across her vision as Kaoru dragged her way painfully over to the phone resting on the hall table. Every movement was indescribable agony, but she had to make it to that phone, lives were depending on her reaching that phone. Reaching up clumsily, her arm burning, she finally managed to knock it off the table onto the floor next to her.

Blinking rapidly in a vain attempt to clear the black spots, she struggled to focus on the phone's screen. It took a few tries but she finally managed to enter the correct number. Hearing it ring, she prayed to any kami that might be listening that he would answer. She was about to despair when she heard a click.


She almost sobbed in relief but bit it back, fighting to keep her voice normal, "Kenshin, thank kami! Tomoe's been kidnapped." She could almost feel him snapping to full attention over the phone. When he spoke, his voice was full of deadly intent, "When and where?"

"She was taken when she left La Bella after lunch. That's all I know, I don't know who's responsible."

He didn't bother to say goodbye, only a dial tone signaling that he'd hung up. She was tempted to give into the growing darkness, but fought it, calling a different number.

Sano's cheerful voice came on the line, "Hey Jou-chan, what's up?"

"Kenshin needs back up. Tomoe's been kidnapped." She couldn't find the breath to add anything else.

He cursed. "On it. Are you ok, Jou-chan? You sound.... off."

Kaoru found that she had just enough breath to push out four words. "I'm fine. Just go." She disconnected the phone and let it fall from her numb fingers.

She was about to give in to the beckoning darkness when she heard the distinctive sound of the front door unlocking. Dredging up every bit of stubbornness she possessed to stay conscious, she turned her head so she could see who was entering. If the men were returning to finish the job, she wouldn't even be able to do anything about it. She didn't have the strength to even move, let alone defend herself.

Instead of the men who'd attacked her, she saw her younger brother enter, his face transforming into a look of horror when he saw her. Unable to fight the darkness any longer, she manage to whisper, "Yahi…..ko."