Here's the second chapter to A Calm Surrender; in this chapter, Kaoru confides in Kenshin about something that's been bothering her.
A/N: Okay, so I hear that peeps are confused about Sano, Megumi, and why Tae is mad…Okay, for the sake of the fic, I decided that Sano traveled for like…a few months instead of years; I just didn't have the heart to keep Sano away; and Tae's anger will be explained in chapter three, maybe…Megumi is another one I wanted in the fic. I don't know yet if she'll make any big appearances, but for my childishness, I keep her in Tokyo…I don't like how everyone leaves after the Jinchuu arc…That's why it's fanfiction, I suppose….you can make the characters do what you want…I hope everybody's okay with this…Anyway, I ought to stop typing, but please ask me about any confusion you may have…Hopefully I can think up something to make it necessary for them to remain in Tokyo….Anyway…
I don't own Rurouni Kenshin.
The Night's Uncertainties
As Kenshin hung the last of the wet, clean hakama up to dry, his childlike eyes caught movement near the bathhouse. He paused his work to watch as Kaoru approached him with a smile. His heart jumped when he realized where she was walking; he looked around, making sure no one was near as thoughts of her flooded him. He shook away such thinking, remembering his place.
"Hi, Kenshin," she said, and held out a bunched up heap of clothes to him. "Would you mind doing these, too?"
Kenshin held back a sigh and took the bundle with a smile. "Certainly, Kaoru."
Kaoru waited and watched as the warrior in front of her kept his attitude in check; she tilted her head and closed the neckline of her yukata when she imagined him peeking. "Kenshin?"
He looked up at her from the washtub, eyes full of question. Seeing her hesitation, he stood to his full height and led her to the porch. He sat her on the little set of steps and knelt before her.
"Kenshin…" Kaoru bit her lip and looked down at him. "I want to…When are we going to get married?"
Kenshin smiled and rested his chin on her knee. "Whenever you want, babe."
Kaoru blushed when he kissed her thigh through the fabric of her nightwear. "I just…wanted to know…"
Kenshin's brows knotted in suspicion. "What's wrong?"
Kaoru flinched when his fingers tightened on her thighs and sent a ticklish jolt through her. "Well…It's probably nothing, but…"
Kenshin held his breath, the innocent quality in his eyes dissipating. "Tell me, Kaoru."
The poor girl inhaled deeply, trying to regain her focus after his aggressive nudge. She moistened her lips and smiled when Kenshin tucked her hair behind her ear. "Well, when I talked to the tofu woman today while you were looking at the other vendor's vegetables, she told me that people have been talking…"
Kenshin scowled. "People will always talk, Kaoru."
Kaoru bit her lip. "I know…but I don't want them to think that we've done anything…" She sighed, and Kenshin took her hand in both of his.
"Kaoru, you know that, because of me, you have been the victim of countless rumors; most of them are not true. You and I know that we have kept our wits and haven't done anything vulgar."
Kaoru nodded, pressing her lips together. Her eyes were stinging with tears she tried to hold back, and Kenshin decided to ignore them until she let them fall.
"If people want to talk about our relationship, I can move out until we're ready to marry, or we can marry as soon as possible." He waited for her to reply, but seeing she was unable, Kenshin stood and played with her hand. "I know you've always taken that public abuse in stride, babe, but now that I can call you mine, I want to shield you from all that. You don't deserve the pain…I can carry that burden with you, if you care so much to cry over it."
"Kenshin," she whimpered, and pressed her face into his chest. She knew he could feel her tears, but she didn't want him to see them…She was too proud to let him. Her fingers clutched the cloth at his back as her cries were muffled by his stomach.
Kenshin stroked her damp hair while she gasped and wailed. He kissed her head and placed his cheek on her, the cool wetness of her tresses making him flinch. "Shh…I know," he cooed as his thumbs massaged her shoulders.
Kaoru's face was hot, and she pulled away from him. She offered a weak smile in reply to his, and her hand wiped a wet nose. Her eyes darted away when his found her face.
"Why don't I take you to bed? We can talk about this in the morning."
Kaoru nodded and took his offered hand, following him into the house. He slid open the shoji to a warmly lit room; Kaoru smiled upon seeing he'd laid out her futon for her already.
As she curled into the sheets, Kenshin sat behind her and let her head find his thigh. With a deep breath, Kaoru let her eyes flutter, and her tense muscles relaxed. "Stay until I fall asleep, 'kay?"
Kenshin smiled down at her. "Sure…" His fingers grazed her neck, and she made a face.
"You're tickling me," she said weakly.
He grinned. "I'm sorry…" He pulled his fingers away and leaned back on his hands. "It's nice out, tonight."
Kaoru giggled and opened her eyes. "I am trying to sleep…and you are making it very difficult."
Kenshin laughed and looked down at her, cupping her cheeks. "Fine."
The woman in his lap snuggled higher up his thigh. Kenshin tensed at the closeness of her; he cupped her chin and ran his fingers down her throat, the touch consuming his thoughts.
"Go to sleep," he barked with a wide grin.
She tilted her head back and stuck out her tongue. Kenshin bowed forward and caught her lips with his own; as he tried to pull away, Kaoru caught his nape and caged him to her. When she released him, he kissed her nose.
"You're so pretty, Kaoru."
Her blush was cute; she blinked slowly, memorizing the way he looked upside-down. She felt his hand on her head, holding her down.
"Sleep, Kaoru," Kenshin whispered. "You'll yell at me in the morning…"
"Why would I do that?" Kaoru asked with her eyes closed.
Kenshin played with the hair she had on his leg. "You'll say that I kept you awake all night, that you will."
Kaoru turned on her side and hugged his leg closer. "Shut up."
His smile was calm, and he combed her hair with his fingers; it clung to him, lying flat against his knee. He watched as the worries melted away from Kaoru's face and her breathing grew rhythmic.
Then, with great tender care, he lifted her head off him and crept out of the room, sighing with the realization that he would spend another night in a cold bed.
Sano yawned and stretched, then sat up and scratched his stomach. He peeked one brown eye in the direction of Little Sano's cage; his heart jumped when he found it empty.
Fully awake and more than frantic, Sano jumped to his feet and kicked away his blanket, eyes darting around the uncovered futon; no mouse was found there.
The former gangster searched the room, his body chilling when he heard Kaoru's scream from the kitchen.
"Yahiko!" she yelled. "You idiot, don't do that!"
Sanosuke let out a breath, hoping that whatever Yahiko had done to make her so agitated would be enough to distract her from his absence; Sano was always awake with the smell of food.
With no trace of his pet found, Sano peeked into the hallway, a prayer for Little Sanosuke's life passing his lips. He slid his shoji back, mindful to keep its snap quiet; he crept down the hall, walking away from the noise of breakfast to search Kaoru's room.
Kaoru and Yahiko bickered while Kenshin was bent over a pot, stirring their meal.
Yahiko marveled at how Kenshin could crouch for that long; if he, as a twelve-year-old, felt cramped after just a few minutes in such a position, how could someone Kenshin's age stand it? Yahiko's thoughts were interrupted with Kaoru's quip.
"You know, Yahiko, it isn't good for a young boy to stare at a man in such an attentive way…especially when the man's back is turned."
Yahiko growled and began to explain what his thoughts had been while Kenshin, unbeknownst to anyone, rolled his eyes.
"Sure, Yahiko," Kaoru drawled, "we all know otherwise."
Yahiko paused for a moment, his eyes staring beyond Kaoru at an empty corner. His mouth twitched, and when Kaoru called for his attention, he swallowed hard. "Mouse," he choked.
Kaoru screamed and turned, and upon finding no mice, punched Yahiko in the head. "Yahiko! You idiot, don't do that!"
"Maa, Kaoru, you provoked him, that you did," Kenshin pointed out. He hauled the pot over to the table and began serving.
"Where have you been?" Yahiko asked a sullen Sanosuke who'd just sauntered in.
"Bed," he answered too quickly.
Kenshin's eyebrow rose, but he kept silent; if Kaoru had any suspicion about that mouse being loose, her screams would deafen them all. He scowled in confusion, wondering if she really did know how to make a man infertile…
Of course, Kenshin only guessed the reason for Sano's panicky demeanor, but with recent events having included the rodent, he believed the assumption was reasonable.
To keep Kaoru's mind off the mouse, Kenshin called her name. She looked up from her food and, as Sano sat and served himself, asked what he wanted.
"You remember what we talked about last night?" He waited for her to nod, but when she didn't, he tried again. "After your bath, you came and spoke to me while I washed clothes."
"Oh! Right…What about it?"
"Well, I'm afraid I didn't set any time aside to speak with Sano like he wanted to yesterday; is it alright if he and I have our man-to-man talk before you and I—"
"Sure," she said, setting her spoon in her empty bowl. "Yahiko, get dressed and meet me in the dojo."
"I ain't done, yet," he seethed, and received another punch to his sore head. "Damn women hormones…" he said under his breath.
Kenshin watched the woman walk outside; he wondered momentarily if she was angry, recalling her interruption, but shook it from his mind. Kaoru was a woman who showed her anger; the aggression she exhibited in speech and manner was just natural for her, never meant to hurt.
"Um, Kenshin?" Sano asked with a wavering voice.
"Do you…Well, yesterday, I needed your help…and, I need it again, today."
Kenshin waited, exuding false patience. He showed his irritation by chewing a piece of carrot with extra force; to Sano, the lack of patience was invisible.
"I lost Little Sanosuke again."
Yahiko snorted. "Jeez…It's a good thing you don't have any kids…Megumi would kill you if you lost 'em."
Kenshin smirked, but interjected before Sano could retaliate. "Again, Sano?"
"Yeah! It's crazy, but the little shit keeps gettin' loose. That's what I wanted to talk to you about, yesterday; I wanted you to help me find him before Jou-chan—"
Kaoru's scream cut him short.
Kaoru backed away from the gray, hunchbacked demon standing in her dojo. It cleaned its whiskered face with tiny pink hands, and Kaoru's gasp made Little Sano's eyes dart to her.
The woman was huddled in a corner, her bokken tight in her hands. "Kenshin!"
Sano burst inside, and Kaoru's weapon met sharply with his head. "Ow! Jou-chan!"
"Get him!" She pointed to the mouse with her sword.
"Where is he?"
Kaoru screamed once more and pounced into Kenshin's arms. "What do you mean? Find him now, you idiot!"
Sano scrambled and went down to his hands and knees, peeking under cracks for traces of a mouse tail. "Jou-chan, I swear, if he's limping when I find him—"
"You'll what?" Kaoru challenged. "I want you to get rid of that beast! He's repulsive!"
Kenshin carried her out with a sigh. "Maa, Kaoru; it's just a mouse."
"Kenshin!" Kaoru's voice was shrill, but her mind was blank. She wrestled out of his hold and found her bokken again. "Just a mouse," she grumbled as she made her way inside the dojo. "Honestly!"
Kenshin heard Sano screech and rolled his eyes again. Kaoru's problems always seemed to be solved with violence.
Okay, everyone, that's the end of this chapter. Should Sano have to get rid of his pet? Ooh, and what will Kenshin and Kaoru decide to do? Hmm, I really need to amp it up…maybe Yahiko will get Kaoru pregnant and Kenshin will turn to Saito for guidance…Yeah, as if, but…well, what if I went crazy and finished the story that way? Don't worry, I plan on keeping my sanity just until this fic is over. After that, I can't promise anything. Okay, so, review, tell me what sucked, and I'll work on my writing for the next chapter, okie doke? Love, peace, and chicken grease, my homo sapiens…