"Just Another Day"

A Rurouni Kenshin fic - one-shot

Disclaimer: it's not mine! GET OVER IT!

AN: just to let you know. this is 10 typed pages, so it may take some time to read. Enjoy!

~*~

"Yahiko! What's talking you so long?!"

"I'm coming, I'm coming!"

"Auntie Megumi, I'm hungry!"

"We'll eat in a little while, Ayame. I promise."

"It's about time!" Kaoru commented loudly when Yahiko brought her a small, pink ribbon. She snatched it from him and started mumbling to herself while she tied it to a banner to support it. "It's not my fault!" he retorted. "It's hard to cut, ya know!"

"Where's Kenshin?" she asked, completely ignoring Yahiko's last sentence. "He went to go buy food." He replied.

Kaoru groaned. "I told him to do that this morning!"

"He DID go this morning, but he forgot to buy something."

Megumi laughed to herself. *She's so unorganized.* she thought. Kaoru's face tightened in anger at Megumi's amusement, and she kicked her in the side to tell her so. "I don't see what's so funny! It's not like YOU'RE helping!"

"That's not true at all! If I wasn't watching Ayame then you wouldn't have gotten anything done, you stupid little girl."

"WHAT WAS THAT?!"

"Now, Kaoru-duno, I wouldn't be fighting when they're gonna be here any minute." Kenshin reminded her with a cheerful smile as he approached the dojo. Kaoru saved him the walk and started shoving him from behind. "And you mister! You get in that kitchen NOW! I told you to go shopping this morning, but no, you go last minute!"

"I forgot something!" he said dizzily. Kaoru ignored him and gave him one final shove into the dojo, totally throwing him off his feet. Yahiko burst into laughter, but stopped as soon as Kaoru was in his face. He gulped. "YOU TOO!" Yahiko yelped and flew into the kitchen after Kenshin.

Yahiko growled. "How I'd like to punch her strait in the mouth! Bossing me around like some little kid!" Kenshin chuckled. "I have to admit, she's a little pushy, but she's just excited about little Suzume's birthday, she is. It's her first birthday without her parents, so Kaoru-duno's only trying to make sure it turns out perfect."

"Kenshin!" Kaoru called. "Where'd you put her present?"

"It's in the bedroom!" he called back, and continued cutting the vegetables. "What'd you get her?" Yahiko asked.

"A new jacket. She'll look very cute in it, that she will."

~*~

Kaoru continued mumbling to herself as she entered the bedroom, making sure she had everything ready for Suzume's party. She shrugged it off, assuming she had everything taken care of, as she bent down to Kenshin's two shelves of the closet. She'd wanted to organize his shelves for a while; they were so scattered and messy. (As if hers weren't just as messy.)

She sighed as she pulled out a blue garment, and stared at it for a minute. "Kenshin no baka! We decided on the yellow one!" She stopped short and looked at the fabric in her hand. It wasn't a jacket; it wasn't even a piece of clothing for that matter. It was just a blue shawl. It looked a little old, and it had a dried spot of blood on it. Kaoru held her breath. What the hell was this? Kaoru shook her head, picked up the yellow jacket, and left the room, taking the blue shawl with her.

"Kenshin?" Kaoru said as she walked to the kitchen. He turned his head in response. "Hm?"

"Can I see you in the hall for a minute?" Kenshin smiled cheerfully, put down the knife, and followed Kaoru into the hall, wiping his hands on his apron. "Yes?"

"When I was in the bedroom. . ."

"Did you find it?"

"Yes. But I found this too." Kaoru held up the blue shawl and watched Kenshin's face fall. "What is it?" she asked. He didn't answer. He just stared at it. All of a sudden, Kaoru gasped. "Kenshin! You're bleeding!" She raised her hand to wipe the blood that was seeping from his scar, but he waved her hand away, took the shawl, and stuffed it into his gi as he walked back into the kitchen, with a grim look on his face, not caring whatsoever that his scar was bleeding.

Of course, our dear Kaoru's more stubborn than that.

Kaoru's eyes narrowed as she walked into the kitchen. Yahiko looked from her to Kenshin, confused out of his mind, looking for any clues as to what was going on. "Kenshin?" Kaoru asked.

"We'll talk later."

Kaoru waited a few seconds, sighed, and brought Yahiko out of the room with her. When Kenshin had that look in his eyes, it was best not to pester him (And 'pest' happened to be Yahiko's middle name.).

As soon as they were gone, Kenshin turned his head to see if they were watching him before pulling the shawl out of his gi and staring at it. He let out a heavy sigh.

"It's almost here again." He whispered. A tear almost rolled down his cheek, but he threw the shawl back into his gi and scolded himself for even thinking about crying before the tear fell. "Maybe I can't forget." He admitted to himself quietly as he continued cooking.

~*~

"Look at that, Suzume!" Dr. Gensai prodded Suzume as they approached the dojo. Suzume's eyes lit up. "Grampa, is that for me?"

"All for you, Dear." He replied.

"YAY!" she cheered, and ran up to the front door of the dojo, causing her grandfather to laugh.

Suzume tugged on the sliding door until she could fit in and ran in without bothering to close it. "Auntie Kaoru!"

Kaoru turned just in time to see Suzume running towards her and caught her in her arms. "Look who's here! Happy birthday, Suzume."

"Arigatou, Auntie Kaoru!" she replied cheerfully, and hugged her aunt tightly before giving Yahiko a hug, then her sister, then Megumi. Everyone laughed at how excited she was, hugging anything in sight that was alive. All of a sudden, her face fell. "What's wrong, Honey?" Kaoru asked as she bent down to her height. Suzume turned to face her. "Auntie Kaoru, where's Uncle Kenny?" little did Suzume know, he was creeping up behind her. "Boo!" Suzume jumped and turned around to find Kenshin, and instantly jumped in his arms. "Uncle Kenny!"

"Well now. You're a big girl now, aren't you?" Kenshin complimented cheerfully.

"Well," Megumi started, "I say it's time we eat!" Megumi got a variation of answers from the gang, ranging from "Good idea" to "It's about time". Everyone filed outside to the yard, led by the hyper Suzume, except Kaoru, who pulled Kenshin back a second. He turned to look at her. She stared into his eyes. She could tell, he was trying to be cheerful, but he was upset. "You ok?" she whispered. He nodded slightly and walked outside with her, not wanting to talk about it at that moment. It was Suzume's birthday, after all. He didn't want to spoil it for her.

~*~

"Urya!"

"Take that!"

"Is that the best you can do?!"

Suzume and Ayame laughed as they watched Kaoru and Yahiko spar together. Suzume loved to watch them practice, so the last two swordsmen of the Kamiya Kasshin Ryu agreed to have a play fight, just for a little entertainment. Kaoru seemed to have the upper hand, but that all changed when Yahiko dodged her attack, landing in back of her, and. . .

BOOM! Yahiko's Bokutou came down so hard on Kaoru, she fell with her face in the dirt. "I WIN!" Yahiko said triumphantly, laughing. Kaoru threw him a dirty look. "Well. Seems I'm teaching my students right."

"You mean STUDENT." Yahiko corrected, with an annoying tone in his voice. Kaoru muttered a few 'colorful' words to herself and stifled the urge to charge after Yahiko.

"Uncle Kenny, you said you'd go against who ever won!" Ayame reminded him. Kenshin narrowed his eyes at her. "I don't remember saying that, Ayame."

"PLEASE!" the girls cried. "C'mon, Kenshin." Yahiko prodded. "Scared?"

"I'd call that a challenge, Kenshin." Sano commented with a grin. Kenshin smirked and rose from his spot. "It's time I taught him a lesson, Sano. That it is." The girls cheered. "Yay, Uncle Kenny!"

Yahiko grinned and positioned himself, and waited patiently for Kenshin to do the same. Just as Kenshin was about to take his stance, Kaoru hit him in the back with her Shinai, causing him to yelp. "What was that for?!"

Kaoru simply plopped his sword out of his belt and handed him her Shinai. "This is a practice duel, Kenshin. You hear me?! A PRACTICE DUEL. You hurt him, and I'll have to hurt YOU mister, got it?" Kenshin groaned. "What was that?" Kaoru said casually. "Yes, ma'am." Kaoru smiled out of victory, ignored Yahiko's complaint, ("C'mon, Kaoru! That's not fair!") and went to sit between Sano and Megumi as Kenshin and Yahiko assumed position. She set Kenshin's sword down next to her.

"If I didn't know any better," Sano said quietly, "I'd say you boss him around as if you two were an actual couple." Kaoru blushed and pretended she hadn't heard that. "Well it's true, isn't it? You've been pretty close to him lately."

"That's none of your business." She replied coldly.

"Thought so." Sano sighed. Megumi's face wrinkled as she slapped him in the back of the head. "Shut up! I'm trying to watch!"

"Bitch." Sano muttered. He rubbed the back of his head and turned his head to watch the fight.

It was then that Kaoru finally started to pay attention to the battle. Even with just a Shinai and a few basic moves, Kenshin was still very skilled. Yahiko certainly wasn't a very good match, but he had definitely improved in the past few days. And even if he wasn't that good, he was too stubborn to loose a battle to his idol.

Kenshin took a swing towards Yahiko, who jumped off the tip of the Shinai to dodge it, and landed in back of Kenshin, where he tried to hit Kenshin's ankles. Miss! Kenshin jumped up right in the nick of time, landing facing Yahiko, and got hit in the gut before he could swing the Shinai again, and. . . . BOOM!

"I WIN!" Yahiko yelled triumphantly. The girls cheered, and Kaoru couldn't help but giggle at the fact that Kenshin was thrown to the ground so easily. Everyone got up to join Yahiko in his little victory dance, while Kaoru helped Kenshin up. She giggled again. "What's so funny?" he asked.

"I can't believe Yahiko beat you. So much for master swordsman." Kenshin sweat dropped. "Well, can't be helped." And with that, he stood, smiling warmly at her. He then continued to congratulate Yahiko, while Kaoru stood in the same spot, blushing like hell. She hated it when he did that! She always got so embarrassed. It was always the same story; they'd have a short moment, then he'd smile, envelope her in bliss, and a few minutes later she'd come to her senses and realize everyone is staring at her. Speak of the devil. . .

Kaoru's face tightened as she noticed everyone around her was laughing. She growled. "Fine. Be that way." She muttered, as red as an apple. Kenshin slightly chuckled to himself and directed the group to the food. No sense in embarrassing her any further.

~*~

"Goodbye, Suzume, honey." Kaoru whispered, holding her niece tight. She let go so she could bid her goodbyes to Kenshin and Yahiko. Megumi turned to Kaoru. "Well, seems you survived." She commented. "Good job, for once." Kaoru narrowed her eyes at her rival. "If I didn't know any better, Megumi, I'd say that was a compliment."

"Don't get used to it." She said casually, flinging her hair in her face as she left the porch. "Thanks again, Kaoru." Dr. Gensai said thankfully as they left. Sano followed behind, hoping to get a free room for the night.

Kaoru yawned and leaned against the sliding door. Kenshin laughed to himself, causing her to look at him. "Nani?" he shook his head. "Iie. It was nice of you to do this for Suzume, that it was." She smiled. "At least someone thinks so." She yawned again, and let him push her inside. "Come on. You look tired." He said softly, as he slightly supported her all the way to the bedroom. Yahiko was already half asleep on the floor of the dojo's practice room, so they let him be.

Kenshin set up the futons as Kaoru went behind the screen to change, becoming very sleepy himself. Maybe it had been a longer day than they had expected. When Kaoru was finished, she rolled the screen back, and as she yawned, asked Kenshin, "Together?" Kenshin shrugged and nodded as he took his night robe to change into. He pulled the screen back, and Kaoru pushed the futons together. She was so tired that she plopped down and curled under her covers before she even realized it. Her cover seemed a bit shorter than usual, though. She yawned and sat up to see why, and her eyes flew open when she realized it wasn't her blanket, it was the shawl that Kenshin had dropped.

She sighed. She was too tired to think about it now, so she took her blanket and shoved the shawl under her pillow, hidden from view. She would ask Kenshin tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Kaoru shifted slightly so Kenshin could lie down on his own futon, and relaxed her eyes. She loved it when he was close to her. It made her feel protected. Like nothing could happen to her.

Kenshin and Kaoru pushed the futons together like this every time Yahiko slept somewhere else. It wasn't like they were having sex or anything, it was just nice to have someone warm to cuddle next to every now and then. It was comforting.

They had started to sleep like this ever since they returned from Kyoto. Kaoru had had a dream, and she was upset Kenshin would leave her again. To prove he wouldn't go, he slept next to her. That way, she could feel every move he made, and she'd know if he was up or not. After that one night, it had felt so right, they decided to sleep like this more often. They became closer each time.

Kaoru turned over on her back and sighed. Usually when Kenshin slept by her side, she fell asleep faster. However, she was too busy thinking about the shawl. Why did it make Kenshin so upset? She sighed again. She couldn't wait. She had to know. Hesitantly, she rolled back over on her side, and patted his shoulder gently. "Kenshin? You awake?" she whispered. He nodded slightly. "What's wrong?"

"Is it alright if we talk?"

"Alright." He said, sitting up. He rubbed his eyes. Kaoru slowly sat up and pulled the shawl out from beneath her pillow. Kenshin exhaled slowly. Kaoru did nothing but stare at it. She didn't need to say a word; he already knew what she wanted to know. A moment of awkward silence passed before he took the shawl from her hands. He sighed before speaking.

"I suppose. . . there are things that I shouldn't hide from you anymore." He paused. "No matter how painful." Kaoru immediately put her hand on his shoulder. "Not if you don't want to, Kenshin. You don't need to tell me if it hurts." He waved it away. "No. I think it's time I told you." He stopped a minute; Kaoru's eyes paralyzed him. They were so beautiful with the moon's reflection on them. He then looked again at the shawl and continued. "This. . . belonged to a woman. . . by the name of Yukishiro Tomoe. She was an amazing person. And she was with me often, as the battousai. The only reason for that though was because she witnessed a murder I committed, so of course we couldn't let her go tell the police." Kaoru nodded slowly. "And then. . . we had to leave Kyoto, and so we were less suspicious, we pretended to be married. We lived in a small house, up on a mountain. It was beautiful." Kenshin sniffed. "The more days that passed by, the more and more I fell in love with her." He whispered. Kaoru bit her lip. "And she was reluctant to accept her feelings for me at first. I didn't quite know why, though." He swallowed and softly rubbed Tomoe's shawl against his cheek. "She changed my life. And she taught me what it was like to truly be alive. I treasured each moment with her." Kenshin opened his eyes. He wanted to cry, Kaoru could tell. She leaned on him and let him hold her, and it seemed to calm him enough for him to continue the story without crying.

"And one night, we were sitting by the fire, and she confessed that before she met me, she was engaged to someone. He was murdered during a bodyguard assignment. That was why she was hesitant to admit her feelings. The night after, I asked her to marry me. For real. And the next morning, she was gone. All that she left me was this." He said, showing her the shawl. Kaoru's breathing had sped up, telling Kenshin she was fighting tears. He shivered slightly and held her closer, sniffing. "And then," he whispered, "Iizuka, that bastard, he talked me into thinking she was trying to kill me, while the real reason she left was so that my life would be spared. And that man. . . when I reached them, I was so angry with him, I just swung at him. . . but Tomoe had jumped in the middle. . . and she received the blow." Kaoru's eyes burst open. "What?!" she asked, frightened.

Kenshin couldn't take it anymore. He had to cry. The tears came at full force. They took over him. They almost stopped him from breathing. Kaoru held on to him for dear life and let her tears fall limply over her eyes.

"And it hurts . . . to know. . . I caused her so much pain. . . I was the one who killed her fiancé, and she knew it all along. He was the one who gave me my scar . . . along with Tomoe."

"Shh." Kaoru cooed softly, patting his back. She frowned at what he said. *Of course, if the scar's still there. . . that means they never forgave him.* she thought sadly. She sighed, shivering. The tears continued to flow, and Kaoru didn't attempt to stop them. There was no point. And as for Kenshin, all he wanted to do was hold Kaoru and cry. All of the sadness, the anger, the heartbreak, it was bottled up inside him for all these years; he had to get it all out sometime.

"I loved her. . . so much. . . but. . . after what I did to her. . . I didn't deserve to be happy." He forced between sobs. Kaoru could think of nothing to do but pat his back. There really wasn't anything she could say. She couldn't argue with him; after all, he was right. Anything she would say now would just make it worse. So, going along with that logic, she simply stayed where she was and closed her eyes, letting his pain, his misery, his suffering, flow right through her. His heart beat shakily against her chest. It was almost too much to bear. Kenshin was so upset, it was breaking her heart. Without even thinking it through, she took a small breath, and whispered a soft lullaby.

"Take me in my dreams recurring, Cheerful as a childhood dance. Give me one more taste of freedom; One more longing backward glance." Kenshin swallowed and let Kaoru's soft voice calm him. Kaoru, noticing its results, continued.

"In the sound of somber music, I shall never, never understand. Let me slip into the sweeter Chorus of that other land." Kenshin whimpered for a minute, trying to get the rest of the tears out. He didn't wanna cry anymore. It was upsetting Kaoru. He rubbed his eyes. "Sorry. It's just that. . . Tomoe was my heart and soul." He stopped speaking and looked into Kaoru's eyes. *And now you are.* he finished in his head. All of a sudden, he felt so warm, so happy. . . almost even. . . loved. He saw something in her eyes that he's never seen before - her love for him. Kenshin sighed. He loved her so much, and this was the first time he ever admitted it to himself.

Kaoru paused a second and realized she had been staring. She shyly turned her head, but turned back as Kenshin pressed his finger to her cheek. Suddenly, she felt herself being drawn into him, and she let her lips press with his. Her pulse fluttered, and her heart beat wildly. She opened her eyes, still only inches away from his face. Pink burned their cheeks. "That was. . . amazing." Kaoru whispered shyly. Kenshin nodded slightly, drawing her in for another kiss. The kisses got more and more confident, and finally, crossed the border into passionate. Very slowly, Kenshin's hesitant hands started to roam Kaoru's body, who responded in a similar manner.

*Kaoru! Stop it! NOW!* her mind commanded her, and she immediately pushed herself off on Kenshin. She shivered slightly. Both blushed, and Kenshin suddenly found the wall an oh so interesting sight to see. Kaoru swallowed. "Kenshin. . . Gomen. . ." she said quietly. "I just. . . I just can't. . ."

"It's alright." Kenshin replied, his gaze still fixed on the wall. "You're still a virgin, I can wait." Kaoru's breath caught in her throat. Kenshin, seeming not to notice, continued to speak. "Kaoru-duno. . ."

"Kaoru." She corrected, sounding a bit irritated at his name. "Kaoru. . ." he corrected himself. "I. . . I'm sorry I kept Tomoe a secret from you like that. . . I really shouldn't have, after all you've done for me. You haven't kept anything from me, and I shouldn't have in return. Gomen." Kaoru swallowed, looking at her hands in her lap through a blur of tears. "That's not true, Kenshin. Don't apologize." Kenshin looked at her. She rose from her spot and walked to the rice-paper screen that led outside, looking at the full moon. Kenshin, unsure of how to read what she had just said, stood and walked to her side, leaning on the door. They were both looking at the moon for a few minutes before she worded her thoughts. "I haven't told you everything, Kenshin. And I'm not a virgin, either." If Kaoru wasn't standing right next to him, his eyes would've broken through his sockets. Kaoru? Not a virgin? There was something wrong with this picture. Detecting his shock, Kaoru sighed and continued.

"It was a long time ago. When I was 14. By then, my parents had already died, and I had been living with Dr. Gensai and his daughter, Aya, and of course Aya's husband. Dr. Gensai took me in after mother and father's death. Aya had just had Ayame at the time, and she became sick, so I had to go to the market to buy the medicine, when normally that was my time to practice at the dojo. While I was at the medicine store, I didn't have enough money with me, and I was trying to find more. The young man who was helping me was obviously drunk, and kept trying to grope at me. It upset me a bit, so I just put something back and left with everything else. Not that big of a deal, I could just go back later." Kaoru paused a second to let that sink into Kenshin's mind before continuing. "And when I did go back, he. . . he. . ." Kaoru looked away from Kenshin so he wouldn't see the tear forming in her eye. "He raped me." Kenshin gasped quietly. He swallowed, knowing he should've had, with Kaoru standing right there. "Were you alright?" he asked, concerned. Stupid question, he knew, but what else should he say? Kaoru lightly shrugged her shoulders. "For a time, I was. Then I learned that I was pregnant, and my world just came shattering down." Kaoru's voice began to shake in fright, as if she was living the whole experience over again. Kenshin slowly pulled her close to him from behind, his arms around her waist. Kaoru settled herself into Kenshin's warm chest and laid her arms on top of his. *Kaoru. . . my poor Kaoru. . . if only I'd known.* he thought sadly.

"At first it was complete nightmare, but as time went on, I wanted the baby. I didn't care what anyone else thought. I loved it with all my heart. Thoughts of holding my little baby helped me through the pain." She said dreamily, yet her eyes still held sorrow. "My beautiful baby girl. I loved her so much. And I still do." Kaoru smiled. "Ayame loved it when I let her play with her. Ayame was about 1 by the time I had her, so she was just learning how to talk. And all she ever said was 'Baby! Baby!' because she adored her so much." Kaoru turned her head slightly to look at Kenshin. "You know my daughter, as a matter of fact." Kenshin raised an eyebrow. "You do. I named her after my mother. . . Suzume." Kenshin's eyes opened wide, causing his love to laugh.

"Suzume? Dr. Gensai's granddaughter Suzume? Ayame's little sister Suzume?" Kenshin said, trying to clarify the concept in his mind. Kaoru nodded. "That's her." She said, snuggling her head next to his neck, where it was before. "When Aya and her husband saw how much Ayame loved having Suzume around, they wanted to have another child, but when Aya was last pregnant, she got sick, so she couldn't have anymore children. And taking care of Suzume became so hard, it was unbearable. The only reason I stayed at it for so long was because of her smile. If it wasn't for that, I wouldn't have made it. So, Aya and I made a deal." She sniffed. "That Suzume would grow up as Aya's daughter until I turned 18. By then, Aya figured I'd be able to take care of her, and that I'd have a husband to help me raise her. After Aya and her husband died, Dr. Gensai kept up Aya's deal for her. My 18th birthday is coming up. . . and I don't have a husband to help me with her." Kaoru swallowed and turned around, still held in Kenshin's embrace. "Kenshin?" she asked. "Hm?"

"Kenshin. . . I can't take care of her alone. She needs a father, and I'm not married, so I can't give that to her. But. . ." Kaoru sighed and looked into Kenshin's eyes. *How could I ask him this?* she thought sadly. *No, I have to. If he really does care for me. . .* she let her thought trail off as she inhaled and continued. "Kenshin. . . I want you to be her father." She confessed quietly. Kenshin's expression didn't change. *She what?!*

Kenshin frowned as he noticed Kaoru's head drop. *He won't do it.* she thought, wanting to cry. He raised her head with one finger under her chin, his face bright. "You mean that?" Kaoru nodded slowly, causing Kenshin to smile. "I'd want nothing more." Kaoru's eyes lit up, a smile springing on her face. "Really?" Kenshin nodded, holding her tight. They laughed out of their complete joy, almost ready to cry. And with that, they drew in for another kiss, tears of joy flooding over their cheeks.

"I love you Kaoru." He whispered softly. She nodded quickly. "I love you too."

"Marry me?" Kaoru stopped, looking up into Kenshin's eyes. If it was possible, her smile grew even larger. She nodded, completely pushed to tears now. "Yes. Oh, Kenshin. . . I love you so much." Kenshin smiled and pulled his love close to him, feeling so whole.

*Tomoe. . . you may never forgive me for what I've done to you, and I understand that. But please, forgive me for this. My love is Kaoru. Please accept my apology.* Kenshin prayed in his head. And all of a sudden, the wind blew through the doors, and he could've sworn he saw Tomoe's ghost, smiling at him. Kenshin teared. *Arigatou.*

~*~

well, hoped ya liked it!! I know its really REALLY long, but hey, it was an idea ^^

~Suki plz review!