The doors of the dojo had been closed for the night. Everything was quiet and least until the shadow leapt the dojo wall, avoiding the creaky hatches of the gate. It landed lightly and moved with incredible swiftness across the yard, headed straight for the room shared by Kamiya Kaoru and Himura Battousai.

As the shadow approached the room itself, it paused and slowed. Its swift, silent run became an equally silent stalk. Stealthily, it reached for the shoji, slid it open a centimeter at a time...the dark huddle of blankets within did not stir. The shadow slipped inside, closing the panel softly behind it, and stood still a moment, letting its eyes adjust.

Shapes slowly became visible in the dark. Debris was strewn across the floor - clothing here, extra bedding there. A Western-style book. An extinguished candle. A child's toy. A minefield of potential noise and chances of discovery. Only the weapons were neatly in their racks.

The softest of indrawn breaths, and the shadow began to pick its way carefully across the room. Once, the pile of blankets moved, and the shadow froze instantly. A moment passed, then two. The rustling subsided. Another silent indrawn breath, and the figure moved once more. If anyone had doubted that this thing was used to moving in the dark, they would have been convinced instantly had they seen it. The shadow flowed with liquid grace around a crumpled pile of workout clothing, stepped noiselessly over the book and candle, and knelt in utter silence at the head of the bed. A hint of metal glinted in the moonlight...


The figure froze...then let out a quiet sigh. The tenseness in its shoulders eased. "I'm sorry, anata. I did not mean to wake you."

Kaoru sat up, blinking as the shadowy figure resolved into her husband, still frozen in the act of removing his sakabatou. "I never sleep well on the nights that you're away," she said. "Did Yahiko head home?"

His grin shone white in the near-dark. "I took him there; he will have a headache tomorrow, I'm afraid."

"You should have just left him at the inn," Kaoru snorted, but she couldn't quite manage the snappish tone. Trust Kenshin to come home later than expected because he'd taken the time to make sure her former idiot apprentice was safely put to bed. Then a thought struck her and she stared at the messy floor between the futon and the door.

"Wait a minute, did you drink at all?" she asked. "You know I said you could indulge yourself, since Sanosuke is here visiting."

The grin became a soft laugh. "I did. My head is buzzing pleasantly, that it is."

Kaoru stared incredulously at him, then back at the floor. He followed her gaze.

"I've had to do similar things while dizzy with blood loss," he pointed out pragmatically "Sake is easier to handle." He hesitated, then said in a slightly embarrassed tone. "Though I did wake you up."

Kaoru shook her head. "You're insane. I'm insane for marrying a master of Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu."

She thought his eyes widened slightly. "Kaoru..."

"Well," she said, crossing her arms. "Don't just sit there. Now that you've woken me up, you owe me."

"Ah, a debt," he murmured. "Shishou was very firm on the paying of debts." He carried his sword to the rack, still miraculously avoiding the deathtrap on the floor, then changed into his sleeping yukata and returned to the futon. A moment later, he slipped in at her side.

Never having been a hitokiri, Kaoru could not see in the dark as well as Kenshin could. But as he kissed her gently, smiling against her mouth, she found she did not mind at all.