Okay... Go with me here... I've never published a fic before, and so this is kinda new to me. Sorry about the format, it was late when I finally uploaded, and I didn't have time to change things around and play with the settings at all yet... I'm still working on that... But I will have it fixed within the next couple of days. Also, Just a random thought of mine... how in the world does one make a summary of a story they haven't even finished yet, let alone know where it is going?

Kenshin could hear Yahiko and Kaoru's footsteps as one chased the other over yet another arguement between the two of them. A loud thump echoed through the air, followed by Kaoru's annoyed yelling. "Serves you right, Yahiko-Chan!" her footsteps, now light and sure headed towards Kenshin. "Kenshin?" She called.

"In here, Kaoru-dono." The door slid open and Kaoru's slim form emerged from the adjacent room. Her eyes alight on him, she walking towards him, seemingly with a purpose.

"I was thinking, would you like to join me and go to Akabeko for dinner?" Yahiko's enraged yell bounced through the walls and pierced Kenshin's ears. He glanced towards the sound, then glanced back just in time to see Kaoru's satisfied smile.

"Of course, Kaoru-dono." His eyes slitted closed, ever so closely, wondering what was up. The door slammed open, and Yahiko stood panting, glaring at Kaoru and Kenshin.

"And what will I do for dinner?" Kaoru smiled again, her eyes glinting with something that looked like a cross between amusement and rancor, and shrugged.

"Whatever you like." She gave him a piercing gaze and turned to Kenshin. "Shall we go?" Kenshin gracefully rose from his sitting position and nodded. Kaoru turned and walked from the room, with Kenshin staring after her. What was she up to this time? And how much trouble would he get into because of it?

"Yahiko, I made some pickled-" Kenshin started, but realized that Yahiko, too, was walking away from him. Sighing, he headed towards Kaoru, feeling as though he had chosen one over the other.

He hated choosing sides.

When he stepped outside the house and towards the gate, he saw Kaoru simply standing, head down. Silently and quickly, he walked towards her. When he got closer he could see her shoulders shaking - she was crying. "Kaoru-dono?" Her head snapped up and she reached up with both hands to rub her face, trying to dry it, and failing miserably.

"Kenshin, I..." She turned around to face him. "Never mind. Don't worry about it." For now, Kenshin thought, I will let it go. But tonight, you will explain. He nodded at her and took two steps forward.

"Shall we go?" He continued forward until he was next to her, him facing the gate, her facing the house.

"Kenshin, can we just go for a walk instead? I'm not very hungry anymore." Kenshin slanted a look at her, but nodded his assent. Oh, yes, you will explain.

Kaoru turned and started out the gates of their home, Kenshin by her side. He turned around to see Yahiko watching them, malice and anger in his eyes. Kaoru started down the road towards a lesser travelled path, one that headed out of town.

When they had walked a ways, Kaoru turned to Kenshin. "Are you happy, Kenshin?" Her voice held an anguished quality, sadness with a touch of remorse.

"Oro?" The question took him by surprise. It wasn't a question that he was prepared to answer for her. "What do you mean?" He knew what she meant, but asked the question to stall, to give himself some more time to ease the discomfort of working his words around a lie and tell the truth at the same time.

It was hard to tell the truth to others when you lied so easily to yourself. Kenshin knew this from mass experience.

"Are you happy with what you have? With the way things are?" Kaoru's voice held a touch of insecurity, almost as though her entire being depended upon his answer. And perhaps it did.

Kenshin stopped walking and looked her in the eyes. "I may not have all the creature comforts that I could ask for, but I don't need them. I have my friends, food in my stomach, clean clothes and a place to sleep at night. What more do I need, Kaoru-dono?" He watched her face through all of this, judging her reaction.

"Yahiko hates me, Kenshin. Sanosuke and Megumi dislike me. Sano only comes around when he's hungry." A single tear fell from her eyes. "I can't cook, I'm not lady-like, I'm not demure, or beautiful. I don't know how to cure somebody who has even the smallest illness, every time I fight with someone, I seem to lose, I can't do anything! Megumi was right." She sobbed the last part out, and hung her head. "I'll never be the woman that Tomoe was; I can never be the kind of woman that you want. You treat me like something breakable. Obviously that's not the case. While I can't really fight, I'm obviously not delicate." Kenshin lifted his hand and skimmed the top of her head while looking at her with his apt attention.

This was new. Normally, Kaoru was so energetic, one could mistake her as a person with great confidence. It was easy to forget how easy feelings could be hurt when you're still so innocent. Kenshin didn't know much about that age, nor about innocence, but he was learning. Kaoru was good at teaching more than just the Kamiya Kasshin Ryu.

"Kaoru." When she lifted her head, he was so close, if she even slightly leaned forward they'd be touching. The tears continued to fall down her cheeks. "I never realized." His arms came up and lightly clasped her, not even holding her to him. He couldn't let her know he wanted her. She'd hate him.

"Even now, Kenshin, you don't even want to touch me." She tore away from him, even as his eyes began to glow, ever so slightly. She ran down the path, away from the dojo, towards the river, somewhere other than where she was. To a place other than with people who didn't even want to be near her. Kenshin watched after her, following her at the same speed she was going, silently and out of sight.

Kaoru didn't stop until she was at the water's edge, her toes hairwidths away from the water. Kenshin watched her from ten feet away, silent still.

"Why do you follow me, Kenshin. Is it a need to watch over everyone around you? You care so much about everyone, you won't allow yourself to care a little more about someone. everyone around you is equal in your eyes." She turned around and looked at him. "You walk into the room, and I feel it, Kenshin." She laid a hand against her heart. "Here." She sighed and shook her head. "You care, but are you incapable of loving? Is that it?"

"I would advise that you stop now." His voice was soft. Soft and deadly and precise. Measured. "That I would." He added, almost as an afterthought.

She knew she should have stopped, but she forged ahead. Almost more just to see what kind of reaction she would get, to see how far she could push.

"For what purpose? Am I going to make you mad? What will you do, Kenshin? What more can you do to me than you've already done?" For the first time she looked at his eyes. She was shocked. "Or have I already pissed you off?" She shrugged. "What's the point in worrying about it? What will you do to me, Battousai? Kill me?" She paused and spread her arms out. "Go ahead, end it. End my pain. You're welcome to." She cocked her head to the side. "Oh, that's right. You don't kill anymore." Her voice was cold, sure, taunting him, and it sounded to Kenshin as though she were trying to push him over the edge. "The ones you love, oops, forgot, you don't love. The ones you care about could be about to die, and you would still hold out for that stupid vow of yours. But no. Promises are what you are made of. Not love."

She succeeded.

"Kaoru, stop." His voice, that calm surety, was what stopped her. Looking in his eyes, she saw something she never thought that she would see. The rurouni was gone. Thrust in the dark depths of his mind. For the first time, she was slightly afraid. Not of him, but of what he could do, what he had done. But her fear didn't last long.

"Why? Do you have something important to say to me? Some all chang-" Suddenly she was in the water, his body on top of hers, his mouth on hers, claiming her.

"What more do you want, Kaoru?" He panted. "I stop myself every day, control myself every day, but it's always there, lingering." He leaned his head down again, taking control of her lips once more, but this time it was different. His tongue parted her lips, tracing the sharp teeth, and reaching farther in to touch her tongue, tangling the two together, like a dance. A hot, heated, violent dance.

"I want you." She said softly. "All of you." She had no clue what her words did to him, didn't even understand the sexual implications of what she was saying. His eyes, a deeper amber than she'd ever seen them before, looked deep into hers, as though searching for something more, something deeper down than she was willing to give.

"Well you have me. What will you do now?" He asked, a cruel lint to his voice. Even as she flinched, she looked at him with total and complete trust. She was shivering, he just now noticed. And, noticing that, he realized that they were both wet and cold, but for the places where they touched.

"You want to know? Well, then I'll tell you." His hard body weighed heavily on hers. "I've never held you close, not because you're delicate, but because I can't. Because any closer, and I'd lose it. All the self control I have. All that fucking self control I keep myself bottled up with." He spat the words at her, and she closed her eyes, as if unwilling to keep subjecting herself to his truths.

"What would I do to you? You have no idea. Kill you? Never. But I know you would never like what I would. And because of that, I stay away. You don't even have a clue, you're still so inexperienced." She opened her eyes and looked at him again.

"I don't think you would hurt me, Kenshin. I never did." Her statement brought him back to reality. God, she doesn't even know how much I want her. It's so obvious, and she doesn't even know. In truth, he was hard, even with the cold water rushing at them. He was hard and pressing into her stomach. The urge to touch her, to show her what he wanted, how he wanted her was so intense, painful even.

"But you're wrong." She was confused. What did he mean?

And then, without even another word, she was back on the bank of the river, and he was gone.

Okay, I finally went through and changed a couple things here and there... Added lines here, changed a few things there... Nobody, including myself was quite satisfied with the first part of the story, and I still think the first half of this chapter goes far too fast...

This probably seems out of character for all people involved, but all of them seemed kind of... frazzled.. probably because I am... Too much going on in life. For instance, tomorrow I have to dress up in black and grieve for someone too young. It all makes an impact on writing..