This is just a short idea I had... just a WAFF piece of fluff... when you're in the mood, I suppose.. No, not a lemon, but, if people like it enough, perhaps I might at on to the story... for now, it's just a PWP one shot... *smiles* Enjoy!

A soft voice roused Kenshin from the nightmare that he had seemingly been unable to escape. He opened his eyes to see Kaoru kneeling in front of him, a concerned expression on her face. A glance around told him that he wasn't in his usual place; rather, he had backed himself into a corner, where nothing could sneak up on him from behind.

"Kenshin? Doushite?" Kenshin shook his head, less as a denial of her question than in an attempt to clear his mind and rid himself of the last remnants of sleep.

"Nothing, Kaoru-dono, sesha will be alright." Kaoru's worried glance raked over him, taking in his crumpled appearance, noting the signs of unrest.

"You were crying, Kenshin." Not a question, he noted, just a statement. For once, she was willing to let it go for him. Perhaps now was the time to tell her just what he dreamt about, thought about. Perhaps it would be easier to tell her when she wasn't pressing.

"I had to come in and wake you." She paused, her eyes searching him, as though making sure he truly was going to be alright. "I didn't think you would want to stay there, in that place." She was referring not to an actual place, but to his dreams. And she was right.

When she moved as though to stand, he spoke. "Stay." Then, as an afterthought, he added, "Please, stay." She nodded to him, and settled herself in front of him, prepared to simply sit with him as long as he needed. Slowly, as if unsure of herself, she reached out and took his hand in hers, warming the cold fingers in her own.

"I had what you had once, long ago." Kaoru looked up at him, surprised to hear his voice, so calm and solemn. "A family, parents that loved me." His eyes slid shut, as though picturing them. "We were happy, you know? Just an ordinary family. Not rich, not by any means, but happy. But then, everyone got sick. Everyone but me. Cholera slowly killed them off, one by one. I watched my family die, Kaoru-dono. I was so young, so very young, and there was nothing I could do. I tried... I tried to help them, but what did I know?"

His eyes opened again to regard her with sorrowful eyes filled with sad memories. Kaoru could almost read what he was going to say in them. "Then, after all that, the slave traders found me. They probably figured that with my looks... I must have looked so feminine... they must have figured they would get a good price for me." He had almost expected pity to appear in her eyes, but rather he found warm compassion and, though he couldn't quite get himself to entirely believe it, love.

Sighing, he skipped ahead, deciding not to bore her with what he considered to be the inane details. "Three women took me in. I don't know why, entirely. Maybe because I was young, maybe because I represented something they longed for, maybe just because they needed me as much as I needed them. I really don't know." Kaoru was amazed. Even now, in Kenshin's reminiscing, he admitted that he needed someone else, but didn't think himself worthy, even as a young child, of someone else? "When they were attacked... when we were all attacked... They defended me. They died for me, Kaoru-dono. Sometimes, I look back on it, and wish that they hadn't. Think of how many people would have lived if Shinta had died?" He shook his head, pain evident not just in his face, but it seemed to emenate throughout his entire body.

"Seijiro... he killed the whole band of men who had attacked us, but I was the only one left. He left me there... and I buried every one of them. Every last person who had died." Kenshin once again looked into Kaoru's eyes, his need to know that she didn't despise or pity him evident. He wasn't entirely sure which idea he disliked more.

"Kenshin... You were just a child." She looked at their hands, her fingers still entwined with his, before looking back up and continuing on. "How could you have known any differently? Look at everything that happened to you, Kenshin, and tell me, what could you have done differently?" At his blank look, she went on. "A child doesn't think about what he is doing, he just reacts. What could you have done? Do you truly think that you should have died for what you would do in the future?" Kenshin smiled for the first time since waking.

"Sesha... sesha expected you to pity me, or hate me, but, instead, you're getting mad at me!" He chuckled, drawing a humorous smile out of her.

"Kenshin, I just want you to know... You weren't at fault. You've been through so much, but here you are. You've survived. I couldn't ask for any more than to have you here with me... us right now."

"Kaoru-dono..." He paused, drawing his courage. He could take down men without even thinking about it, and yet this required everything he had. "Would I... would you give me the priviledge of..." Finally he gave up trying to speak; he just couldn't say the words. He cupped her cheek in the palm of his hand, and, leaning foreward, took her lips with his, feeling her surprise give way.

Kaoru was shocked, to say the least. She couldn't figure out what had brought about the sudden change of distance that Kenshin consistently put between them. She pulled her hands away from Kenshins and put one behind his back and the other on his shoulder, clasping him in an awkward sort of hug.

When Kenshin pulled his mouth away from hers, he looked into her eyes again, wondering what he would find this time. Joy and love, he found, a perfect mix. "Kaoru... Gomen na-" She pulled him back to her, kissing him again, knowing instinctively that she needed to deepen the kiss somehow, that she needed to get closer to him. When his lips parted, she followed suit, and allowed him all the access he needed to take her mouth captive.
Kaoru's fingers made their way to his hair, and, digging into it, released it from it's tie, and ran her hands though it, relishing the feel. It was like silk, tiny strands of silk that slipped from her fingers and seemed to have a mind of their own about where they wanted to be at that particular moment.

When he finally released her mouth and pulled away, she opened her eyes to look at him, relishing the way he looked with his hair down. Little did Kaoru know, Kenshin was doing much the same. In her haste to wake him up from his tormented sleep, she had left her hair down, and hadn't even bothered with anything other than her sleeping yakuta. She was gorgeous, was the only thought Kenshin seemed able to think.

"Kenshin..." Her voice trailed off, as though her sole purpose in speaking had been just to utter his name.

With a small smile on his lips, he pressed a kiss to her forehead. "Gomen, Kaoru-dono, I should not be keeping you up this late at night. You should be sleeping." Kaoru had to laugh softly. Kenshin had finally kissed her, and all he could think about was her sleeping habits?

"Kenshin no baka." She barely got the entire sentence, because, as if in anticipation of her name calling, he had given her his standard "oro" halfway through her sentence, and she had begun laughing in earnest.
"Kaoru-dono, I think you are laughing at me, and I do not know if that is a good thing." He paused and tilted his head to the side. "Is it?" At her nod, he gave her a wide, true grin.

Kaoru immediately sobered up. "Kenshin..." She reached up and touched his lips, tracing the smile. "I don't think you've ever smiled like that before. Never like that. It always seems like... I don't know... Like you're hiding something." Kenshin nodded to her, and looked away from her for a moment, before resting his eyes back upon her face.

"I've told you what I am hiding, Kaoru. You know what is inside me." Kaoru was truly touched. She doubted that Kenshin had told many people what had happened in his life, let alone how much it had affected him. He sighed, his eyes once again filling with sadness. "Sesha has so much more, so many lives lost, so much sorrow..."

"You aren't unworthy Kenshin. What do you think you are unworthy of?" His unwavering stare at her gave the answer. "Why would you think that? Shouldn't I be able to decide?" Kenshin readied himself for the onslaught of fury that was sure to follow.

But it never came. Kaoru sat in front of him dejectedly, her head hung, her entire body looking as though she just wanted to curl up into a protective little ball. "Kaoru-dono, I shouldn't get involved with you... not romantically. All my loved ones die. I didn't want to love you, I didn't want to put you in jeopardy, but I do. For so many reasons. I wanted to tell myself that I didn't love you, that you were just another friend, like Sano or Megumi, but you're not. I can't put that much distance between us."

"Have I ever asked you to?" She asked in a pitiful voice. Kenshin reached his hand out and nudged her chin up, silently asking her to look him in the eyes.

"Iie. You haven't." Shifting his position, he picked her up in his arms and settled her on his lap, his arms wrapped around her. "And I'm giving up." Her eyes widened in surprise, and she couldn't even think of a response. "Kaoru-dono... would you allow me to..." He closed his eyes for a moment, gathering his strength and giving her a tumultuous moment to ponder what he was going to say. "Would you allow me to court you?"

She blinked, then, when realization hit, grinned at him. "I think we're past that point, Kenshin." He smiled back at her, and used his free hand to move a few wisps of hair from her face.

"Let's talk in the morning." He leaned down and kissed her forehead, and sat, watching her as she drifted off. "Aishiteru, koishii." He said, ever so softly.

"I love you too, Kenshin." He hadn't even realized she was still awake. Looking down at her, he was amazed at the depth of feeling he found in the small woman's eyes. Reaching up, Kaoru wrapped her arms around Kenshin's neck, pulling him close to her. "Don't leave me again, Kenshin. I couldn't bear it." Silently, he nodded his promise, then leaned down and kissed her softly on the lips.

"We'll talk in the morning." Together, they fell asleep, and slept the easy sleep of one who knew protection wasn't even an armlength away.
Okay... stupid, idiotic, did you like it, hate it? If I got the facts wrong... Let me know!! R&R please!!