The minutes stretched.

Mountains were worn away in the pause, the silence broken only by ragged breathing and the snores of a young boy several rooms away.

Two pairs of eyes were wide with shock, each staring at the other occupant of the room. Four hands were nervously clutching at two separate sleeping yukata's.

The semi-silence continued.

Characteristically it was Kaoru who made the first move. The young kendo instructor had taken the silence on Kenshin's part as a negative sign. He was quite obviously mortified at what he had done, and had never wanted to do something like that. Her mind extrapolated all sorts of reasons for Kenshin kissing her, all leading to one word. Mistake. This was not how she felt, kissing Kenshin had always been something she had imagined and wanted. However, looking at his horrified face, it was all she could think.

"I'll go." she stated, attempting to keep all the emotions she was feeling out of her voice. She could feel her eyes watering and blinked continuously in order that the tears in her eyes would not fall.

Kenshin was having a panic attack. The flat dead sound that came out of her mouth sounded so unlike her, always so joyful and upbeat. He has stepped over the line tonight, overstepping the normal boundaries of what friendship entails. Kaoru will never want to speak to him again, which will be the death of him. It would be like living with no light, only darkness. He ruined everything. Just like he ruined Tomoe.

Visions of a blood splattered white kimono and a smile are torture. He does not notice his tears falling down his face, or the hand screwed up in his hair pulling painfully. Anything to give him something else to focus on, anything but the painful memories of how he always hurts the ones that he loves the most.

Kaoru had risen to her feet and turned her back on Kenshin. Satisfied that he could no longer see her face, she allowed the first tear to fall. About to take the first step towards the door a sudden resistance was encountered from her right leg causing her to lose her balance. Looking down, she could see Kenshin's right hand curled around her ankle, quite firm, but very careful as he always was not to hurt her. "Nani?" even to her she sounded like she was going to cry. She didn't understand what was happening with Kenshin anymore. Never had she seen him with his emotions this close to the surface. Feelings were for Kenshin, a closely guarded secret, hidden and obscured behind the facade of a cheerful personality. Feelings could be used against you, and hurt you.

Looking to him, she immediately noticed his distress. The tears were pouring down his cheeks again and his left hand was tugging painfully at a lock of his red hair. Seeing his pain so clearly, her pain seemed to seem insignificant and petty by comparison. She recalled that he had already been upset before she entered the room. In a lightening flash of inspiration she realised why. Today, this day, was the death anniversary of Tomoe, Kenshins deceased wife. Her instinct to run away from the source of her pain was superseded by her instinct to comfort the one she loves.

Stepping her left foot around behind him, she knelt down once more. One knee nestling behind him, in between his feet, the other resting slightly behind his right knee. His right hand was fisted in the material of her sleeping yukata, ensuring that she wouldn't leave. Carefully she coaxed him from his kneeling position into a cross legged one, manuvering him so he was sitting directly between her legs, his back facing her stomach. Tentatively, she put her hands on his shoulder blades, letting him know that she was there for him.

Kenshin didn't really know why he had grabbed Kaoru's ankle like that, it hadn't really been a conscious thought on his part. All his thoughts were that he didn't want her to leave him, he didn't want to be alone. He didn't want her to leave crying, leaving him crying. Kenshin felt her stop and look down at him through his grip on her leg. She then began to turn towards him, which necessitated him loosening his hold on her lower leg. Concerned that he was causing her physical pain through continuing to hold her ankle while she was moving, he relinquished his hold for one on the bottom of her yukata. He didn't care what she was doing, as long as she stayed.

Kenshin succumbed to the pulling and poking and sat in the position that Kaoru wanted, cross legged, in front of her. The touch of her hands on his shoulders was most unexpected, though certainly not unwelcome. Without thinking, he leaned back into her, her touch calming him from his previous frenzy of grief and unhappiness. The tears no longer fell, the fist was removed from his hair by her concerned hands and placed in his lap. Slowly, almost at the speed that mountains grow, her hands moved underneath his arms to wrap around his chest.

"Shh" Came the soothing whisper into his ear, "It is all right to grieve. It is all right to receive comfort."

A hoarse reply came unexpectedly, "Is it all right for a hitokiri, a monster, that killed countless people, including his own wife, is it all right for such an inhuman demon to grieve? To receive comfort?"

Kaoru tightened her arms around him while thinking on her reply. It was of vital importance to word it correctly.

"Hitokiri are allowed to grieve," She began seriously. "They are just humans. Behind the skills, behind the sword, they are no different to anyone else. Hitokiri are not monsters. They are soldiers who were given a tremendously difficult job to do during the war. Himura Kenshin is allowed to grieve! Himura Kenshin is just a man! A person who has as much right to happiness to love as any other on this planet, if not more!"

The speech, which had started out calm and collected had quickly escalated into a passionate entreaty to Kenshin to finally see himself as what he was. A man. Who has every right to be happy. Feeling mentally exhausted Kaoru positioned herself so that she could rest her cheek on Kenshin's shoulder, where the curve of his neck met his torso. Impulsively she turned her head and kissed the skin exposed at his neck which was not covered by his yukata.

Kenshin looked like the stereotype of surprise, previously bloodshot eyes swirling around and around and around. Her speech had knocked him flat. The words were slowly sinking in when he found himself losing track of all concious thought at the sensation of her lips on his neck. He lost track of whether he was breathing out or in, and made an odd gasping sound.

Did he want this to happen? In their current, totally inappropriate, position it would be easy to, to, well, do what they both wanted. In his case, needed was probably a more appropriate term. This terrible feeling of loneliness, Kaoru could make it go away, and stay away, forever.

His decision made, Kenshin reached for Kaoru's arms, which were still wrapped around his chest. He tentatively slid his hands down the soft cloth covering her arms till he reached her hands. Lightly levering them off his body, he slipped his thumbs underneath to the palm of her hands while leaving his hands covering hers. Kenshin stroked the palms of her hands in what he hoped was an encouraging manner and tipped his head to the side and back, resting his head on Kaorus shoulder.

Kaoru's shock was total when she felt Kenshin's hands on her arms and when he moved his hands down to hers and held her hands like that she thought that she would explode from happiness. When he tipped his head back, it was obvious what he wanted and she smiled.

Kaoru tightened the embrace she was giving Kenshin for a fraction of a second and nuzzled her nose into his neck. Kenshin gasped, her nose was so cold and unexpected. She finally kissed his neck, beginning in the hollow of his shoulder working her way up to the corner of his jaw. Kenshin moved her hands from around his chest, one moving down to rest on his stomach and the other moving up to rest on the "V" exposed on his chest. The skin to skin contact was electrifying. Kenshin breathed deeply as with his encouragement, Kaoru began to explore the tactile sensations she could both give and receive.

***** End of Part 2

Now that I've finally decided in what direction i should take the rest of this story i can finally finish it! There will be at least one more chapter. Two, if people want a lemon. Do people want?

Apologies for not updating this fic. Real life as ever does intrude on the writing world.

Much thanks to those who reviewed. Especially to Mara Amber for her corrections of my Japanese.


Going to hell in a handkerchief.


Hahah. I accidentaly forgot to spellcheck this before uploading! How embarrasing!