Chapter II – Tokyo (excerpt)

This is just a teaser.  Sorry folks, not the real deal.  Was bored and decided to put in a paragraph or two.

So eager in setting up my first fic that I forgot to put in the disclaimer in the first chapter.  Oh well, here it is:

Disclaimer: Ownership of Rurouni Kenshin and its characters belong to Watsuki and not I.  However, that drool trail following Aoshi is mine.  Heh, yes, well . . .

Chapter 2

They left, as Aoshi said, early in the morning by boat.  The trip over the waters was uneventful; at least to him.  However, Misao found every opportunity to be up on deck, whether it be day or night.  She even tried to get him to enjoy the sea air but he would only stay for a while to appease her and disappear down to the cabins once her back was turned. 

They reached land two days later and took the early morning train to Tokyo after spending the night in Shinbashi.  The ride to the capital city was as equally uneventful and Misao fell asleep on the way, after watching the landscape flash by her.  Aoshi alternated from reading and meditating, which ever he desired at the moment.  At the moment, it was quiet except for the low murmurs of conversation coming from some of the passengers and the rattling of the train moving over the tracks.

He watched her sleep, his book on his lap and a slim page held by slender fingers.  Slowly, his eyes took in the sleeping countenance, caressing the soft pale skin, wondering what the curve of her cheek would feel like against his finger, lingering around her closed eyes, taking in the dark circles that –.  Aoshi frowned at the dark marks that mimicked the feathered line of her eyelashes underneath her eyes, and wondered about them.  A small snort came from the slumbering girl at his side, distracting him from his thoughts.  Her head tilted his way; her small mouth opened slightly where slight snorts and wheezes emerged.

Warm amusement filled him at the sight of her sleeping.  He wondered if Misao knew that she snored.  Memories of his dream flashed through his mind, prompting his hand to rise to brush away the stray strand of hair that hovered over her nose.  As his fingers were about to brush the errant lock away, her nose wrinkled and in her sleep, blew away the strand, her breath caressing his fingertips.  The feel of her breath jolted him back to reality that they were on the train to Tokyo and that it wasn't the time to dally.

A small creeping thought formed in the back of his mind, as he returned to his book.  Perhaps when we're alone and business is done, I can.

They arrived in the outskirts of Tokyo late in the afternoon.  Misao, wide awake and excited at the prospect of seeing the Himuras, poked her head far enough out of the window to allow the rushing air of the still moving train to loosen the dark strands of hair from the proper bun at the base of her neck, a huge grin filling her face.  Aoshi kept a careful eye on her; letting her enjoy the view from her precarious position, ready to pull her back in if needed.

The green landscape disappeared as buildings came into view.  Misao pulled herself back in with a sigh, shutting the window as she sat back.

"That was fun but watching buildings pass by gets kinda boring, don't you think?" she asked, smiling up at the quiet man beside her.  A sound resembling a positive grunt answered her as he turned a page in his book.  For a moment, she watched him read.  Ever since the train left the station in Kyoto, she had only seen him read and never once had she seen him take a look, much less a glance, outside the window.  Her smile turning sly, she continued, the tone of her voice becoming childish and falsely innocent, "Can reading ever get boring, Aoshi-sama?"

For a moment, he sat there.  Then, slowly and carefully, he closed his book and turned his head down at her, an eyebrow slightly raised.  "No," Aoshi calmly replied, meeting the twinkling eyes of the young woman beside him.  They stared at each other in silence, and then a delighted laugh from Misao broke the contest, sending a thrill of heat racing through his body and pooling deep within him.

She relaxed back against her seat, sighing in content while looking out her window.  "I never win in staring contests against you," she said her voice full of laughter.  But Aoshi wasn't paying attention.  Instead he was trying to control whatever was left of his self-control when she shattered it with just the sound of her laughter.

Slowly the train screeched into a halt at the train station, spewing dark gray smoke from its smokestack.  Japanese people - dressed in foreign and native dress - and foreigners gathered in a multicolored crowd; scattered across the station platform, some heading to the train and some lingered around in varying sizes of groups.  Inside, Misao eagerly grabbed her belongings and Aoshi's coat and began pulling them towards the nearest exit.  He managed to grab his own bag from the compartment above him before she tugged harder at his coat, urging him to hurry.

"Misao," he called out from the buzzing of the station.  "The Himuras will still be there.  There's no need to rush."

She let go of him and turned around, her hands on her hips in an impatient pose, walking backwards.  "I wanted to surprise them," she stated in a mock pout, her smile ever present on her face.  Then she frowned, stopping.  "But you're tall and that'll ruin the element of surprise, so."  She shoved her bag at him and turned around again, shouting over her shoulder as she hurried away, "take your time getting out!"

~*~

Himura Kaoru craned her neck above the crowd trying to catch a glimpse of the hyper ninja girl and her tall companion.  At her side, her husband smiled serenely and tickled the chin of the toddler that she held in her arms.

"Kenshin, can you -"

"Ah, Kaoru, don't worry.  I'm sure Misao-dono can find us in this crowd."  His calm violet eyes flickered at something over her shoulder.  "See, here she comes."

As if on cue, a familiar shout rang out above the rushing din of the train station.  "Kaoru-san!"

Kaoru turned around to meet her and Kenshin, wisely, took the child from her arms, already anticipating the cheerful girl's greeting.

Misao pushed through the last few bodies, even shoving a few aside, before leaping onto her friend and squeezing the air out of the lungs that had, seconds ago, been filled to the max.  Fortunately, Misao let go of Kaoru before she collapsed from lack of air.

"Misao!  It's so great to see you!"

"I couldn't wait to see you guys!  Did I surprise you?" she asked eagerly.

"No," Kaoru chuckled lightly.  "Kenshin saw you."

The younger woman turned towards the red-haired man.  "Himura, why couldn't you at least -," she stopped in mid-wail, catching sight of the wide-eyed gaze of the child in his arms.  "Hey, who's this?"

The proud father chuckled as his son bashfully hid his face into the crook of his neck.  "Misao-dono, surely you remember Kenji."

"Well, I dunno."  She returned the bashful yet watchful gaze of the child with a skeptical look.  Then she turned away, shaking her head in an exaggerated manner, one eye on the child.  "I don't recognize him.  He's too shy to be the kid I knew.  Oh well, I guess that means I get to eat all that candy I brought with me . . .."  The dark red head perked up at the word candy and one hand reached out for some.

"Ha!  I knew he was there!"

Kenji hid his face onto his father's neck again, but one eye peeped out mischievously.  Misao chuckled at his false display of shyness.

"Himura.  Himura-san," a cool voice greeted from behind her.

"Ah, Aoshi-san, welcome," Kaoru said, bowing to the man.  Kenshin smiled at the tall man, greeting him in his calm, smiling way.

Aoshi handed over Misao's bag to her and she proceeded to pull out a small sack.  Reaching in, she pulled out a crystallized fruit and handed it over to the small child in Kenshin's arms.

"Kenji-chan, what do you say?" his mother asked him.

The child stared at Misao with wide dark blue violet eyes as he nibbled the candied fruit.  "Fank you," came the quiet and somewhat garbled words.

Misao, instead of responding exuberantly, smiled softly and gently ruffled the boy's hair.  "You're welcome."

Kenshin, surprised at her lack of enthusiasm, looked over at her and noticed Aoshi watching her with the slightest quirk on his brow.  Sensing Kenshin's gaze on him, he calmly looked over at Kenshin, as if agreeing with what he saw and returned his gaze back to Misao.

Kaoru, missing the exchange of glances between her husband and the tall ninja, linked her arm around Misao's and began leading them out of the station.  "I'm pretty sure both of you are tired, Misao, so we should be heading back to the dojo."

"You bet I'm tired," Misao declared.  "Did you get a carriage for us?"

"Misao, the dojo's only a few blocks away."

"But Kaoru-"

Behind them, the men followed, quietly exchanging words, allowing the chatter of the women to drown out the noises of the train station.

~*~

AN: Wow.  Thank you for all the reviews.  I'm a slow writer and I tend to heavily contemplate my next words, hence the late, late update.

Reviewer thanks to:

BarbaraSheridan, AnnabelleG, unique-starfish, Ranger, Sweet Chaos, Noriko, and Imre.