Summary: When Kaoru finally confesses her bottled up love, Kenshin just goes 'oro', Megumi starts her 'tomboy' tirade, and Sano and Yahiko mock her to no end. Deeply hurt, Kaoru kicked them all out of the dojo including Kenshin!! What can she do to get him back when she doesn't even know where he has gone?

Lchan: This used to be "Outbursts of Emotions" before it became "I Still Love You, Okay?" But then I decided to twist the plot a little, so I deleted the ugly prologue of the former and put THIS up. I changed tactics in story-telling too. Instead of merging the notes with the story, I'll just separate them from the actual narrative…like usual.

Another thing is that the characters might become a little OOC without my wishing them to be, so be warned.

As for the title…I know it's a computer game! But, see, when I searched for synonyms of 'react' (because this is about the reactions to Kaoru's confession), one of the definitions MSWord presented was 'counter'. I liked that, so I put it in. But what kind of a title is COUNTER!?!? So, inspired by the name of that game, I decided on "Counter Strike".

It does kind of make sense—'counter' meaning 'react' and 'strike' meaning 'hit' or 'smack' instead of what the game must have meant for it, which I suppose is 'raid' or 'attack', resulting to 'counter attack'. But for this story, 'counter strike' will have a milder meaning. It's sort of like a title in Kaoru's POV. The bottom line is—reactions. Counter strike—what they give you for what you give them.

Sigh. It's kinda hard to explain. I know the explanation's pretty hazy, but please bear with me. I hope you'd gotten it by now. If not, please figure it out.

Have fun reading, and don't forget to review! I'm kinda used to getting few reviews, but it doesn't keep me from wishing for more. So keep me healthy, people! Please RnR! And I only welcome comments, compliments, and constructive criticism. I hate flames. If you plan on sending me one, I suggest you stop wasting your time. What good will you do anyway?

So…go ahead and bask in the Kaoru-plus-Kenshin-ness! ^^

Counter Strike

-Tell Me Something I Don't Know

Kaoru fidgeted.

At first, she just played with her chopstick, twirling and twirling it between her fingers while she slipped in and out of her deep thinking to glance at the other occupants of the table. Then, she started to toy with her food, plunging the stick into Kenshin's cooking then out again, poking at the long strands of noodles before realizing what she had been doing and quickly setting down her chopstick.

"Daijobu, Kaoru-dono?"

She didn't hear that and so she didn't answer. She twisted the sleeve of her kimono in her fingers until it was, at that certain part, fairly rumpled, and, after receiving rather distasteful glances from Megumi, flushed before moving on to playing with her hands, flexing and tangling her long, slender fingers. With a sigh, she stopped and began to tug on her ponytail, brushing through her bangs and combing through the long strands she'd separated from the rest.

Kaoru was exceptionally fidgety today.

"Kaoru-dono…Kaoru-dono…"

She snapped out of her reverie. "H-huh? Oh…what is it, Kenshin?"

Kenshin's clear, violet eyes searched hers from beneath unruly strands of red hair, then narrowed slightly in curiosity and concern. "Daijobu?" he asked again, this time looking for an answer.

She allowed herself to smile, hiding her blush beneath it, and nodded. "Uh-huh. You don't need to worry, Kenshin. I'm fine."

He nodded and turned back to eating, his expression neutral, but his eyes doubtful. He eyed the Kasshin master while she started to fidget again, throwing him occasional glances of her own, then turning to a curious shade of pink when her eyes met his. He found it extremely confusing and highly unusual.

"Mou, Ken-san…" Megumi's sly voice jerked his attention from Kaoru to the female doctor. "The tanuki is just being her bratty little self. You don't need to worry about her. She just wants your attention. You know how desperate she is."

Kenshin absently nodded, although he didn't really agree, and actually, he couldn't quite comprehend what Megumi was talking about either, and why she suddenly went "ohohohohoho".

"Oi, busu, you want that bowl of dee-lish cookery or not?" Yahiko demanded, rudely, slicing through Kaoru's thoughts. "I'm taking it, okay?"

She blinked at him, before nodding slowly and absently.

The kid seemed shock at the absence of the head pounding, and Sano quickly beat him to the food.

"HEY!!" Yahiko yelped, when he realized what the ex-gangster had done.

Sano twisted around and away from him to keep his hands from grabbing the bowl, and quickly finished what remained inside it, happily handing the Kenshin-wannabe the empty result.

"Argh!!!" Yahiko screamed, the proceeded to gnaw at Sano's head. The older guy retaliated with a series of head shaking, then laughed when the little guy lost his hold.

"Baka tori-atama," Megumi said.

"Whatcha say, fox lady!?" Sano demanded.

"You deaf rooster head."

Sano blew a fuse, and a catfight occurred.

And through all this, Kaoru fidgeted and Kenshin watched.

—Kenshin's—POV—

I don't know what's wrong with her.

Maybe she's sad. I don't want her sad. But that possibility is highly unlikely. Ask me why I think it's not and I can't answer, because I just think it because I feel it. Maybe upset, but she doesn't usually keep stuff like that to herself. She's not acting irritable either, so scratch that idea. Sick? No. She's not showing symptoms.

I've tried asking what and she said she was fine but I seriously doubt it…and that blush!! Or is that what they call it? She turns to this weird hue of pink whenever she catches me looking at her.

She's shifting her eyes again, and they're looking directly into mine. She avoids my gaze and that light pink coloration invades her cheeks again. I could feel her retreating back to her deep thoughts again.

But…honestly…it makes her look kind of cute too—the blushing I mean. I've only noticed this kind of thing with her. Megumi-dono never turns pink when I look at her. And while I'm in that subject, I'll admit that she sometimes forces ME to turn pink.

Hmm…I wonder if Kaoru-dono does it because she's embarrassed too, like I am with Megumi-dono.

While Tsubame-dono only blushes when Yahiko's present, Kaoru-dono does it when WE lock gazes, or when Sano or Yahiko mocks her feelings. What kind of feelings, I have no idea, but it sometimes impresses on me that those feelings are the really private ones…like intimacy…love.

I notice these things because I watch. I watch her quite closely, if truth were told. To keep her safe or just for the fun of it, I don't really know. It happens on pure instincts. Mine, if you're asking.

It makes me kind of green sometimes, thinking she has a crush on Sano… It's one of the things in life I honestly don't understand. It's like Battousai's familiar possessiveness of Tomoe is resurfacing…

It's just different because Tomoe's not here anymore. So why is this feeling coming back up? Is it because of Kaoru-dono? Will it take Battousai with it while it comes? Nah. But I shouldn't take risks.

I can't take the chance of putting her in danger. Not even for Tomoe, or for preserving the love I have for her.

Sumanai, Tomoe, if you dislike my version of moving on with life. I still love you just as much as I did before and as much as I miss you now. And I promise you I will take care of her. She will be safe, and I'll keep her sound to the best of my abilities.

Maybe that will make you happy…

If nothing else…

—Kaoru's—POV—

Look at him.

Just look at him.

Look at his eyes…his hair…his lips…his scar…his face… It's absolutely impossible the way he seems so close to perfection. Chill. I know he's not, but he's SO close…

I still can't believe I've fallen for him.

All this time…you know what I've been thinking? I've been thinking about that—about how I've fallen hook, line and sinker for his nonexistent charms. I mean, he's dense, he says 'oro', he sticks 'dono' with ladies' names, he's extremely mysterious, and he was once Battousai…and he's dense…or have I mentioned that already?

Honestly. I don't know what I see in him.

Well…yeah, he's attractive…okay, drop-dead gorgeous…and kind, and sweet, and caring, and cooks great food, and particularly fascinating to watch…but…okay. Now, I see why and how I've fallen head over heels. Quit sticking it to me.

Now my current dilemma—the reason why I'm so absent-minded and faraway and clouded-over—is that…I'm wondering if I should tell him. I mean I've already sent all the signs!

I've tried cooking for him, but it never works 'coz it IS true that I suck. I've tried varieties of kimonos, but he never says anything. I've paraded around looking like a geisha, but he just looked at me and said "Ohayo, Kaoru-dono". I've even tried a dash of flirting and a bit of sweet-talking, but he's so DENSE, he can't recognize the lines from everyday conversations!

ARGH!!!

Dense, dense, dense, dense, DENSE Kenshin!!!

So now I'm thinking if I should just be forward and tell him face-to-face and lose all the props—just words and me and him. Maybe he'll be so kind as to return my…ahemloveahem. Or maybe he'll just squeak out that 'oro' and reject me. After all, how could he love anyone else after Tomoe-san?

It IS a rather long shot, but I can't take it anymore! I'm so tired of waiting and waiting and waiting! …And waiting… We'll never go anywhere if we keep this up! I need to know.

Let's see…how should I do this? Maybe I could start out with "Kenshin, I'm having these feelings…" Nah. Too freaky. Hmm…maybe "you're a really sweet guy" would do better then I could go slow from there and end with "so what I'm trying to say is I love you". No. He'll be dead by then. How about a simple "Kenshin, I love you"? Could work. It sounds better than "let's get hitched" anyway.

Ooh, I could see him now, saying that 'oro' for all it's worth!

Sigh.

Oh, Kenshin…why did you have to be so out of reach? It's just my sheer dumb luck to fall for a guy like you.

Honestly. I don't know why I wasn't born beautiful and flirty and smart like Megumi. I can't teach well either. My self-control only works when there's a consequence, like…like…you know that time when you tried to calm me down and I blew a fuse and bonked you on the head with my bokken? I was in love that time, and I needed to do it to stop staring at you.

I'm sorry. So sorry, Kenshin…

Again, I wish I never developed these feelings.

But now that they're here…I swear…I will tell you…'coz I'm tired of waiting…

Maybe tonight…

Yeah…

I dunno when tonight…but soon…

Very soon…

Promise.

* * *

tbc

Lchan: Okay. Now's the time to click on that 'go' thing with 'Submit Review' chosen from the dropdown toolbar beside it. Then type in some notes for me, PLEASE!? Pretty PLEASE!? I'd really appreciate it! I can settle for monosyllables too! Like a simple 'nice' or 'more' or even 'yuck' if you hate it.

And as for next-chapter spoilers, I think the confession's coming up. And no worries, it won't end there! For the meantime, I'd like to hear from you!