Disclaimer - Did you know I always type disclaimer wrong? Dicsclaimer, discalmer. What was I saying? Oh. I don't own Rurouni Kenshin. Yeah, and sometimes I start to type Kenshin. Kehnsin.

A/N - Thanks for all the reviews again. I'm still in shock that I have such great reviewers! Oh, this chapter's a little longer than the previous ones, just because there's a big scene coming up that's not written yet. I'm getting there though, and I know you'll love it! But for now, here's to the wonderful reviewers!

JML - Did I say bokken? I meant shinai. I really did. That's what I originally had in there. I forget why I changed it....

flyinangel777 - I think Kenshin's the sweetest guy too, and you'll be finding more about his past in a bit, LoL.

ai so - Glad you think my story is original. I know a lot of other college fics have been done, and they're pretty good too. I feel special! :-)

lein-kenkoishii - There's a vendetta going out against the blackmailer by the reviewers, LoL. Cool that you read Silver Cross too. That story's my other baby, LoL.

kleptomaniac sam - I love your subliminal message! You made me crack up! Laughing, not actually go crazy. And I'm not telling you! :-)

ThugLife1 - I'm hurryin, I'm hurryin.

Sara - Glad you think my fic is good. You won't be finding out the ending for a while though . . .

vinmy fer - Well here's the update!

Nim - Wow. You're the only reviewer that mentioned feeling bad for Kaoru. I thought it would be different if she was the one who did something bad for a change. Not that Kenshin doesn't have a deep, dark past. LoL.

aglaia102 - You're welcome. Writing is fun!

Quondam Mistakes

Chapter 3 - Advice on Women for Sano and Aoshi

The next night, Kaoru was shaken awake. Opening her eyes blearily, she squinted up at the person who dared disturb her slumber.

"Kaoru. Wake up. I need your help with Sano," a voice hissed.

"Misao?" Kaoru sat up, glancing over at the clock. "Misao. It's four o'clock in the morning. Are you just getting back?"

"I need your help. Sano's drunk and I can't get him back to his dorm without you. I'm tired from dragging him this far. He'll get kicked off the basketball team if he's caught, Kaoru."

Kaoru got up, grumbling, and drew on her robe. "I only went to bed three hours ago. Why'd you let him drink then?" she asked, irate, fumbling around to for a pair of shoes.

"I'm sorry, Kaoru. I was with Aoshi, but he said he had to leave when the drinking started. Then that Megumi girl left all mad, so I went searching for Sano because he must have ticked her off, and he was drunk. Hurry, Kaoru, I don't want to leave him down there for long. He might start singing again." Misao said worriedly.

"Fine." Kaoru said, sticking her room card in the back of her pajamas along with her school ID and following Misao out the door.

"Where is he?" she hissed at Misao once they were outside. Misao was rummaging around behind a bush on the side of the building.

"I left him here!" Misao said frantically. "Where could he have wandered off to? Come down here and help me find him. He might just be asleep."

Kaoru sighed and took a step forward, but stopped, suddenly smelling alcohol. Turning around, she found herself staring up at a wobbling Sano.

"Hey, Missy," he said loudly. "Are you drunk too?" he asked, listing over to the left. Kaoru dove to support him, leaning his arm over her shoulder.

"Misao!" she whisper-shouted. "He's over here." She was relieved when Misao hurried over. Sano was heavy. She wondered how petite Misao had managed to haul Sano from wherever they had been.

"Missy? Why are there two of you?" Sano asked again loudly.

"Shhh, Sano. Someone will hear us and then you won't get to play basketball anymore." Misao scolded, coming over to support Sano's other side. "You have to talk to him like he's a little kid," she explained to Kaoru apologetically.

"Why won't I get to play basketball anymore?" Sano whined, but in a quieter voice.

"Because they'll find out that you've been bad," Misao explained. "Now let's go to your room. If you're in your room you'll be safe."

"Really?" Sano marveled. "Why did Meggie leave me?"

"You were being insensitive to her, Sano. Let's walk this way," she said, turning them in the direction of Sano's dorm hall.

"You're not going to leave Kenshin, are you, Kaoru?" Sano asked. "Like Meggie left me?"

"No, Sano," Kaoru reassured. "I hope Kenshin's awake to take care of you when we get you there."

The girls struggled along the walkways to the dorm hall, ducking behind some tall shrubbery when they saw a patrolling cop. Sano tried to sing, but Kaoru yanked him down and clamped a hand over his mouth. After a few minutes, Misao peeked out and gave the all clear signal. They started walking again.

"Why did you do that, Missy? I wanted to sing about how Megumi Takani left me all alone," Sano asked, injured.

"Because if you sing, you won't be able to play basketball anymore," Kaoru threatened again.

"Is that true, weasel girl?" Sano asked.

Misao hit him over the head. "I am not a weasel, Sanosuke Sagara! Don't call me one or I'll call that policeman and he'll never let you play basketball again," Misao warned.

"Oww!" Sano complained. "Why did you hit me?" he asked, tears coming to his eyes.

"Because you were rude. Now do you have your room card so we can get in your building?" Misao asked patiently as they had reached the door.

A tear drifted down Sano's face. "It's in one of my pockets. I don't know which one. You hurt my feelings," he accused.

"I did not!" Misao argued.

"Just say you're sorry," Kaoru ordered, Misao, reaching in the pocket closest to her and fumbling around for the passkey.

Sano laughed. "You're tickling my leg, Missy."

"Yes!" Kaoru said, finding the passkey and slipping it into the lock on the door. Opening it, she and Misao rushed Sano in and shut the door behind then, breathing a bit easier. "Now, Sano, we're going to climb the mountain," she told him, pointing to the stairs. "Do you think you can make it?"

"What's at the top?" Sano asked.

"The biggest surprise ever," Misao lied. "And I'm sorry I hit you, Sanosuke."

"Really?" Sano asked, with a sniff.

Misao smiled up at him. "Really."

"Ok. I'm going up," Sano announced with the bravery of a small child about to embark on an imaginary adventure. He stepped away from the girls and began crawling up the stairs. Kaoru would have found the whole situation humorous, if she hadn't been afraid that a RN would hear them and wake up. She didn't want to know what the repercussions would be if they were caught. For one thing, Sano would probably never forgive her when he was sober and he found out that he couldn't play basketball because she couldn't hide him well enough. Kaoru could only hope that Kenshin was home. 'Where else would he be? Unless he's spending the night in a girl's dorm. Yeah right. It's not like Kenshin would ever do that. It's not like you have any claim on him. Stop thinking about stuff like that, Kaoru,' she chided herself, hurrying to stand by Sano, making sure he didn't fall on his way up the stairs. 'Jealousy doesn't become you.'

"It's the first door on the left, Kaoru. We'd better make a break for it as soon as Sano gets up these stairs," Misao broke Kaoru's revelry. They were almost to the top.

Sano reached the last stair and lay down. "This place looks familiar. Hey, don't I live here? Where's the surprise?" he mumbled, yawning.

"It's in your dorm room, hon," Kaoru sighed. "Now get up so you can walk just a few steps and you'll be there," she encouraged.

Sano stayed down. "Sorry. I'm just so tired," he said, just before he drifted off.

"Ugh!" Misao said, frustrated, grabbing one of his arms. "We'll have to drag him the rest of the way."

Kaoru nodded and grabbed his other arm. Reaching the door, they stopped for a break.

"Knock already so we can get back to our own dorm room before we get caught," Misao whispered.

"No. The RN might hear us. Besides, I've got the passkey, remember?" Kaoru reminded her, slipping it in the lock and quietly opening the door.

"Wake Kenshin up so he can help us." Misao instructed once they'd dragged Sano in and shut the door. "I'd feel guilty leaving the poor guy on the floor like this."

"Okay." Kaoru walked over to the sleeping form completely under the covers. 'He doesn't snore,' she found herself thinking. Pulling back the covers, she shook his shoulders once, drawing back as he began to stir. She didn't know if he was one of the people that wake up swinging. "Kenshin," she whispered. "Kenshin, wake up."

He opened his eyes, squinting to focus. "Kaoru?"

"Kenshin. We've brought Sanosuke back. He's drunk. Can you help us get him into bed?"

"Again?" he muttered, sitting up, yawning. Awareness flooded into his eyes when he saw a now awake Sano sitting on the floor muttering something to Misao. "Misao? What happened?" he asked, pulling back the covers and slipping out of bed in his pajama bottoms and t-shirt.

"Kenshin? Are you the surprise?" Sano asked, hearing his voice and turning towards it.


"We told him that so he would climb up the stairs by himself." Kaoru whispered to Kenshin. "Just play along."

"Sure am, Sano. Why are you drunk?"

Sano frowned. "It's all Meggie's fault. I was at the party with the weasel. I mean, Misao," he corrected, casting a fearful glance towards her. "And Meggie was there, but she left me. Then Misao hurt my feelings and Kaoru tickled my leg. Then I had to climb the mountain. Now I'm here. I don't feel so good though, Kenshin."

Kenshin reached down next to the desk and then walked over to Sano, handing him the trash can. "What's he talking about?" he asked the girls.

Kaoru and Misao explained what had happened.

Kenshin sighed. "Sorry about this. Sano doesn't usually drink this much during the school year. He knows he's underage. He's really stressed lately over Megumi and basketball and his classes. He's behind and he has to keep his grades up to stay on the team," he explained. "You two had better leave before you get in trouble. The RN on this floor has the room right next to this one and he's almost caught Sano before."

"Alright. Thanks for taking over for us, Himura. I'll go check and make sure the coast is clear. See ya Sanosuke." Misao said, moving towards the door. "I'll give you the signal in a minute, Kaoru." She disappeared outside.

Sano waved before passing out on the floor and starting to snore loudly.

Kaoru walked past Kenshin to wait near the door. "I want you to know that Misao took the news about kendo fine. She doesn't think it was my fault at all. In fact, she wants to get the blackmailer." She smiled.

"Have there been anymore notes?" Kenshin asked.

"Nah. One will probably come tomorrow though. They don't usually come on the days that I'm at kendo practice," Kaoru told him.

"Are you okay?" Kenshin asked, stepping over Sano and close to her. He wondered if this was the moment to tell her that he had killed before. He sensed that if he didn't the moment would be lost and it would come out at the wrong time.

"I'm fine Kenshin, thanks to you."


Kenshin was interrupted by a soft knock at the door. "Let's go, Kaoru. The RN must have heard something. He's snooping around. We have to leave now or I can't be sure we won't be caught," she whispered through the door.

"Will you two be okay on the way back?" Kenshin asked, worried. "Maybe I should come with you."

"No, Sano needs you. If they come in and Sano's the only one here you'll be in big trouble, Kenshin. We'll be fine." Kaoru assured him, slipping out the door.

Kenshin sighed. He wondered when he'd get the chance to tell Kaoru his past. He decided he'd better put the moment off and wait until they knew each other better. He wasn't sure how she would react.


"Kenshin, I'm never getting drunk again. No more sake." Sano groaned the next morning, sitting up in bed, blearily watching Kenshin rushing around trying to find his textbooks.

"You better not. It's really dumb, Sano. One of these days, no one's going to be around to bail you out." Kenshin warned, finding his textbook and searching through the closet for his jacket.

"Don't talk so loud, Kenshin." Sano moaned. "And I know what you're saying is true. Besides, Meggie doesn't really appreciate it when I have a cold one once in a while. Hey, what did I say last night?"

"You were really out of it man. It was kinda embarrassing. You kept going on about how Megumi left you and Misao and Kaoru said you kept trying to sing." Kenshin reported, finding his jacket and shrugging into it.

"That bad? And Weasel and Missy were there? Megumi is making me pathetic, Kenshin. Before you know it I'll be groveling at her feet. She's been really standoffish ever since I met her, but I thought she was just playing hard to get. Now I'm not so sure what the deal is with her."

"I'm sorry for you and all, but what's that got to do with me, Sano?" Kenshin asked, tossing his books inside his back pack and starting the hunt for his notebooks.

"Well women like you, Kenshin. I was wondering if you'd do a friend a favor and kinda befriend Meg and put in a good word for me. I've introduced you two before and you got along, didn't you?"

"Forget it, Sano. She tried to use me to make you jealous. I've stayed away from her ever since. I'm not going to seek her out." Kenshin shook his head.

"Aww come on, Kenshin! Ow . . ." Sano moaned the last, holding his head. "I'm your best friend. Help a brother out."

"Sano, I am not going to make friends with Megumi just to tell her she should go out with you. She's one year ahead of us and I never see her except when she's with you. Plus I don't like to get involved in other people's love lives. I've got my own to worry about."

"Kenshin, do you even have a love life?" Sano asked, rolling his eyes. "Have you even kissed Missy yet?"

"Um, yeah." Kenshin admitted.

"Wow! I didn't think you had it in you." Sano said, impressed.

"Not a good way to win any favors from me, Sano." Kenshin frowned, secretly pleased Sano was impressed that he had kissed Kaoru.

Sanosuke grinned through his hangover. "Point taken. Please help me out with Meg though, Kenshin. I'll owe you a big favor."

Kenshin scoffed, finally locating the last of his notebooks and zipping up his backpack. "You already owe me a big favor for watching out for you last night, and about three other nights as I remember."

I'm begging you Kenshin." Sano pleaded, figuring he could get him to crack pretty soon.

". . . Do you really think women like me?" Kenshin asked, toying around with the idea in his mind.

"Sure, most of them do. It must be your manners, I dunno. Come on Kenshin, just get her to trust you and put in a few words for me. It shouldn't take that long." Sano whined.

"No." Kenshin said decisively.

Sano knew he almost had Kenshin won over now. If he added in some bodily harm, the whole thing could work. He wondered if he'd said anything Misao could blackmail him with. God, having a blackout was scary.

"Please, Kenshin?" Sano asked, picking up his pillow.

Kenshin wondered if Sano was going to hit him with it. "No way. I gotta get to class now Sano, don't be late for your first one at eleven. You should be okay by then." Kenshin shouldered his pack and headed for the door.

Sano hit himself in the head with his pillow so hard that his head bounced off the wall.

"What are you doing?" Kenshin asked.

Sano blinked the dazed look from his eyes. "Self torture until you give in." Sano answered, hitting himself upside the head again and again as Kenshin watched, an incredulous look upon his face.

Kenshin rolled his eyes and glanced at his watch. "Fine, Sano, I'll do it."

"Yes!" Sano cheered, instantly regretting talking too loud when his head pounded worse than before.

"But only until I put in a good word once; and if Megumi gets in the way of me and Kaoru, you're going to be in big big big trouble. You got that?"

"Sure, Kenshin. Listen, thanks a lot man. I owe you."

"Yeah, you do. And you can start by not drinking until this is over, or the deal's off. I hear one word about it and I tell Megumi the whole story."

"Okay, deal." Sano agreed more soberly, his hangover lowering his spirits once again.

"Oh kuso, I've gotta jog to get to class now." Kenshin screeched, tearing out the door.

Sano leaned back and turned the tv on. He figured he had Kenshin practically wrapped around his little finger.


Shurra grinned. "You beat me fair and square, Kamiya. I knew I'd see this day come someday soon. Looks like you're the queen of the kendo club now," she panted, walking over to the next mat and starting her warm down exercises with the bokken.

"Thanks for the compliment. I swear I wouldn't be able to beat you yet if you could use your nun-chucks in a legal match." Kaoru waved off her praise and started on her warm down exercises as well. It did feel mighty damn good beating Shurra though. She'd worked hard the whole time she'd been in the club to finally be able to beat Shurra. She wondered if she could do it again. She thought that maybe she could.

"Nice job. Kaoru Kamiya, isn't it?" A smug male voice asked from behind Kaoru. "Makoto Shishio," the voice continued, the person walking into her left side vision. "Pleased to meet you," the tall, tan skinned young man said.

Kaoru nodded and finished her set of ten. She extended her hand and they shook. "Nice to meet you too."

"Just wanted to introduce myself." he continued. "You have been in the club for a while now and I felt guilty not introducing myself sooner, being the vice president and all. Now seemed like the perfect opportunity. How are you liking it? Fitting in?" he asked.

There was something about him that was slightly off. Of course Kaoru knew who he was, one of the few other girls, Yumi, who was also slightly spooky, was going out with him. She talked about him all the time in the locker room. Kaoru preferred to stay away from the locker room when she knew Yumi was there. From what she'd heard from Yumi, he was a junior and had been upset that he had not been nominated as head of the club by the previous president. Yumi sympathized with him, but could not deny that Kenshin had been the better choice, even if he had only been a freshman at the time. He proved to be an excellent leader of the club and organizer of club events.

"I love the club." Kaoru answered him. "It's a pleasure being a part of it."

"Sorry to but in, but what else is she supposed to say, Shishio?" Shurra laughed, having finished her warm down.

Kaoru was puzzled to notice that Shishio stiffened slightly and Shurra's tone, while light, held a tenseness behind it. Was there something going on between him and Shurra, or did he merely resent the fact that she had butted into the conversation?

"That she hates it?" Shurra continued. "Anyway, you saw her beat me fair and square. I'd say that's fitting into the club. She's already been through Sae and Yumi. I can't wait to see her take you on one of these days."

Kaoru laughed. "You can't say that I'd even have a chance of beating him."

"Nah, but it would be interesting." Shurra admitted.

"I'm glad you think so." Makoto Shishio frowned. "Later, Shurra. See you around, Kaoru." He walked away in the general direction of Yumi, who was chatting with a cornered Soujiro.

Kaoru turned to Shurra in surprise. "You don't like him much, do you?" she guessed. "You practically chased him away."

"Oh. You can tell?" Shurra asked wryly. "To tell the truth I can't stand the guy. He's got no honor and he hates Himura. He'd split the club in two and have people rallying to support him for club president if he could. What a spoiled rich brat," she spat out. "I can't stand people like him," she admitted, watching Shishio take Yumi from Soujiro who looked quite relieved. "I'm headed out early today, got a exam to study for. You coming?" she asked, turning back to Kaoru.

"I think I'll just finish up my warm downs. See ya."

"Okay. Great job today by the way. I went all out." Shurra congratulated, turning and walking to the women's locker room entrance.

Kaoru wondered about the friction between Shurra and Shishio. She decided she'd have to ask Kenshin herself about Makoto Shishio. Shurra didn't seem the type to hold a grudge for no reason. Shaking her head, she pushed the thoughts out of her mind. She had finally beat Shurra! It felt good to have confirmation that she really was improving with each day that she put in practice time. Finishing up her, warm downs, she headed for the locker room, but changed her mind about changing back into casual clothes. She grabbed only her ID card, stuffing it into her sweat pants pocket.

Kaoru was on an adrenaline high and she knew it. There wasn't anything that could bring her down now! Humming, she left the locker room and decided a jog would do her some good. She'd been getting lazy about that anyway, relying on kendo club as her only exercise. Besides, the campus was really quite scenic and she didn't know how long it would be before the snow started and she wouldn't be jogging outside anymore. Kenshin walked her back to her dorm room more often than not, but Kaoru peeked her head into the gym and saw that he was involved demonstrating a technique to another club member. She caught his eye, waved, and left. He'd get over it.

They'd had an early meeting, so Kaoru figured she had a half hour of light left. She headed in the direction of the shady, quiet neighborhoods, away from the city of Baltimore. She decided to jog fast for ten minutes, that should be a little over a mile, then she'd jog at a cool down pace for a few minutes and head back at a reasonable jog. As she ran along up the road, she wondered if Misao was any closer to catching the blackmailer. Misao refused to tell her of her progress, but she had mentioned two more notes.

Sano seemed to have sobered down lately. She supposed Kenshin had got on him about the drunk thing. She certainly knew that Misao had, using whatever he'd said while she'd been dragging him home from the party as blackmail. Kaoru felt sorry enough for him that she didn't kid him about it, though the image of Sano crawling up the stairs for a 'surprise' brought a smile to her face. Plus Misao was getting on her nerves just the tiniest bit lately with all the talk about Shinomori, the basketball player. Everyday it was Aoshi does this and Aoshi says that. The guy didn't seem to even like her. Kaoru had decided she thought him a bit of a cold fish, but she couldn't deny the talent he displayed on the b-ball team. He was one of the team's stars and on the starting lineup, even if he was only a junior.

And then there was Kenshin. She didn't know what to make of the guy. One day they were kissing outside her dorm room and he was telling her she could tell him anything, and the next he was totally passive. She wondered if he was still giving her time to think, as he'd mentioned. She didn't need that much time to think. She wondered what there was to really think about. He was gorgeous. He could fight. He was considerate, a nice person. He was gorgeous. Sure he wasn't perfect, but she had yet to find out why he wasn't perfect. Did she mention he was gorgeous? And cooking was his minor. That meant she'd never have to cook in her life. Woah. She wasn't thinking already about living with the guy was she? Nah, she wasn't going to be living with any guy without marrying them first. And she definitely wasn't thinking about marrying anyone until after she graduated. She decided she was blowing the whole thing out of proportion. Better to just think about those violet eyes tinged with gold. . .

"Kaoru wait up!" Kenshin's voice called from somewhere behind her. Kaoru shook her head. Now she was hearing voices.

"Kaoru!" his voice called again in an exasperated tone.

Kaoru glanced behind her at the intersection she had just crossed and was surprised to find out that it really was Kenshin, waiting for the right of way with a couple other pedestrians who were looking at him like he was crazy.

Kaoru stopped and turned around. "Kenshin? What are you doing here?" she asked, confused, retracing her steps towards him.

"Kendo's over and Soujiro told me he'd seen you jog off this way out the window. I thought I'd catch up." Kenshin yelled over the traffic.

Kaoru was still confused as to why he'd come, but decided to shrug it off. "Okay. . . Do you need to talk to me or something?" she yelled as the pedestrian 'walk' sign came lit up and he bladed toward her across the road.

"What? Aren't you happy to see me?" he asked, skating around her in a circle and coming to a stop in front of her.

"Of course I am." Kaoru answered. "You know you're making a fool of yourself, right?" she asked. "Yelling across the street like that." But she smiled.

"I wouldn't be the first guy to make a fool of myself over a girl," he told her, a goofy smile on his face. He was pleased to see Kaoru blush, even though her cheeks were already red from the cold. When she remained silent, he continued. "But that's not really the point. Care to come some place warm with me for an hour or so? I have something I want to tell you."

"Only if you walk me home afterwards. It'll be getting dark in fifteen minutes. It'll be black in an hour."

"Of course. Shall we head to my dorm room? Sano's not due back from practice for a while and he'll probably stop for something to eat before he heads over." Kenshin offered.

Kaoru put her hands on her hips. "You're not trying to get me all alone, are you Kenshin?"

He smiled at her innocently, slipping an arm around her waist and tilting her chin up. He traced her jawline with a gloved thumb. "I thought I said you could tell me anything," he reminded her huskily.

"You did." Kaoru managed, slipping her arms high up around his neck. His added height from the blades made it more of a stretch than the last time she had done this.

"Then that means I can tell you anything, right?" he reasoned. 'She was even sexy standing there in the middle of the sidewalk just outside of Baltimore in sweat pants, a sweatshirt, and sneakers,' Kenshin found himself thinking. He wondered why he'd stopped pursuing her for even the past two weeks, well outside of friendship. He hadn't really gotten the impression that she overly wanted him to though. Maybe that had been what girls liked to refer to as the 'getting to know each other' stage. That crap about becoming friends before lovers and all. He hoped she thought that stage was over.

"I guess so." Kaoru answered, wishing he'd hurry up and get to the point before she got cold, wishing he'd slow down and take off his glove so she could feel his skin against her cheek. "What do you want to tell me?"

"Two things. But I won't until you and I are in my dorm," Kenshin told her.

"Oh come on, Kenshin. Stop playing," Kaoru scolded, taking her arms from his neck and pushing him a little.

Kenshin laughed. "I'm not playing. I'll skate back while you jog if you want," he offered, releasing her with a grin.

Kaoru huffed. "What if I don't?"

"Then I'll skate behind you and you'll feel really guilty seeing me back there all alone. Just a poor guy on blades who got dissed by a girl." He put on his best sad face.

"You're teasing me." Kaoru accused.

Kenshin grinned, the sad look gone as if it had never graced his features. "So what if I am? It's fun."

Kaoru turned and started jogging away, back towards the dorm room. She glanced back, to see Kenshin blading behind her, a grin on his face. "You can skate by me," she permitted, sounding like she was awarding him a privilege, but smiling as soon as her face turned away.

"That's alright." Kenshin called.

Kaoru's heart sank, perhaps he wasn't flirting with her like she'd thought?

"I'm enjoying the view back here." Kenshin finished.

"What!?!" Kaoru exclaimed, stopping and whipping around to face him. A passing man snickered. Kaoru glared at his retreating form. "Are you talking about what I think you're talking about?"

"What do you mean?" Kenshin asked, innocently, skating to a stop a foot away from her.

"You know what I meant," Kaoru seethed, her hands on her hips.

"I was just saying Baltimore's nice in the fall. That's all."

Kaoru narrowed her eyes at him. She wasn't sure now if he'd really been talking about the scenery or her ass, and she wasn't familiar with him enough to ask straight out. Okay, so she was, but she didn't want to risk it just being her blowing things out of proportion and offend him. That would be embarrassing. It was no use arguing about it now anyway, there was no way she was going to let herself get angry and miss being alone with Kenshin in his dorm for at least an hour.

"Something wrong, Kaoru?" he asked, still innocent.

"No," she muttered. "Just don't skate behind me anymore, it's unsettling to have you following me like that."

"Okay," Kenshin agreed pulling up beside her, and they continued on without mishap.


"Hey Sagara, come over here for a second," the team's star junior player said quietly in the locker room before practice.

Sanosuke loped over to Shinomori and leaned against one of the lockers across from the other player's. He wondered what was on Shinomori's mind. The guy was usually more loose, but this year he'd come back calm and grave. Granted, his teammates still supported him, but the change was unsettling, none the less. "What's up, Shinomori?" he asked in an idle tone, even though they'd be late for warm ups in a few minutes.

"It's come to my attention that you are friends with Misao Makimachi."

"Yeah," Sano drawled. "What do you care?" he wondered if Misao's attempts to win over Aoshi were actually working. He seriously doubted it.

"I've been trying to figure out if she's trying to win me over."

Sano laughed and resisted the urge to do an anime fall. So they were working. "If you don't know the answer to that by now, you're real dense, Shinomori."

"So she is. Why?" he asked seriously.

Sano scoffed. "As if she would tell me. Nope. Afraid I'm just a gambling buddy. No girl has ever confided stuff like that to me, not even while they were my girlfriend. The mind of a woman is as mysterious to me as it is to you, pal."

"You haven't had any success with Takani, then."

Sano looked surprised. "You know about that?"

"Someone on the team told me, I forget who."

Sano groaned. "The whole team knows? Damn. That woman's made a fool out of me." He wondered how many more people knew and if Megumi went around telling them.

"Any way I won't wind up like you?"

Sano looked, at him, surprised. "Oh, you mean any tips? Well you could always talk to Kaoru Kamiya, her room mate. Missy's an easier girl to understand than most. And she's good-looking, great body. My friend, Kenshin Himura,'s about to wheel her in if I have anything to say about it. He's supposedly helping me out with Meg, too."

"Himura? I didn't know he went here."

"You know him? Yeah, he's a sophomore, president of the kendo club. You must not have been paying attention to the papers after his first match last year."

"No. I wasn't."

"How do you know Kenshin, if you don't mind me asking."

"We used to live in the same neighborhood."

"Oh yeah, I forgot you were from Baltimore too."

Aoshi Shinomori moved to the locker room door without another word.

"Where are you going?" Sano asked, confused.


"Oh yeah." Sano remembered, following.

"This doesn't change anything between us, Sagara. I'm going to be the best on this team and when we win the championships, I'll be player of the game."

Sano smirked. "We'll see about that, Shinomori. Even if we don't win this year, I have a feeling next year there's gonna be some real competition between us."

They walked out onto the court.

A/N - Well I hope you liked it. There wasn't too much about the blackmailer in here, I'll have to stick him or her in later. Don't you hate it when even the author doesn't know who it is yet?

Please review and tell me what you thought.