Disclaimer: Don't own Rurouni Kenshin. .

DEDICATION: Terwesa/The Candy Holic/The Sarcastic One/The Skittle Hater... ah...too many nicknames!! @_@ *I'm* confused...eh...anyhow, this was written for you...that's why there's extra sarcasm! ^.^ (*glares* You'd BETTER review...)

Third Time's a Charm (11/25/03--11/27/03) - How many times can Sanosuke get Megumi mad in a day?

Honestly.

Takani Megumi stood outside her door, where Sano was getting dressed. She rolled her eyes, her hands on her hips, waiting, waiting, waiting.

They say patience is rewarded.

Well, at this moment, she didn't give a damn.

Her hands curled into a fist as she began banging on the door. "Get out!" she demanded.

"Hold on, hold on, hold on...."

"Tori-atama..." Her voice was getting dangerously low.

"Hold on!"

Idiot. Nothing but an idiot.

Ah, today was the day indeed, when Kenshin was finally getting married to Kaoru. We had all waited a great deal of time for this day, even Megumi, who had finally admitted to Kaoru that she felt nothing but friendship for the red-haired rurouni. Kaoru had announced that it would be a Western-styled wedding, which had meant more things for everyone to learn.

Okay, so she was flattered that Kaoru had chosen her to be her bridesmaid. Sano had swelled with pride when Kenshin chose him to be his best man. In fact, they had both been relatively happy.

Until they both found out that they were to be "walking down the aisle" together.

That had certainly taken the fun out of it.

"Tori-atama, if you don't get out of my room this instant, I'm going to break this door down!" It was an empty threat, and she knew that he knew it. She had absolutely no physical strength whatsoever.

"One minute!" he hollered. Megumi knew that his "one minute" could turn into "one hour." She sighed, crossing her arms over her chest, preparing herself for the long wait.

Ohh, why had she accepted the offer? Kaoru-chan had plenty of friends, she told herself, and Tae-san or Misao-chan or somebody else could have easily filled the role of being bridesmaid. But no, she picked her. Naturally, Kenshin would pick Sanosuke to be his best man; the mere thought of Saitoh or Hiko or Aoshi walking down the aisle was, to put it simply, damn scary.

Now that she thought about it, why had Kaoru chosen her to be her bridesmaid? There were other options. And if it had been her, she surely wouldn't have chosen her "rival" to be her bridesmaid...

Unless...

Megumi's eyes narrowed into tiny little slits. She knew.

Now, it was common knowledge that Sagara Sanosuke and Takani Megumi hated each other's guts. Oh, they did. Bickering, fighting, yelling, screaming was all you could hear from their mouths. Never was there a peaceful, civilized moment between the two.

Yet despite that, there are rumors...oh, so many, many rumors that the two of them are together. Dumb as it sounds, it's true. She could never go out on a doctor's errand without hearing her name with his. It angered her...no, frankly, it pissed her off.

Kaoru-chan was one of those people. There was always that hinting smile on her lips, the way whenever she was in a room with Sano she would walk out and drag Kenshin and Yahiko out, leaving them alone together. The way she would give her looks, the way she would point to Sano behind her back and smile, that goddamned smile.

Oh, yes, it definitely pissed her off.

So now, she's stuck in a wedding being a bridesmaid, with Sano being the best man. They both have to walk down the aisle. Together.

Damn it all.

"Ten minutes, everybody!" Kaoru walked out, white wedding dress on, hair tied up and looking absolutely gorgeous. Her face was flushed, and she walked over to Megumi, seeing that she still wasn't dressed.

"Megumi-chan!" She gasped. "Ten minutes, and you're still not dressed?! What about your hair? Your make-up? Everything!"

With a wry smile, she pointed to the door. "Tori-atama's in there. And so is my dress."

Kaoru had the look in her eye...the look...the look when you know that everything is NOT all right.

"SANOSUKE!" She banged on the door. "Open up!"

"I'm almost done, dammit!" His voice was annoyed. "If I could just get this stupid tie thingy around my neck..."

"It's no use," Megumi told her. "I've been yelling at him for the past half-hour. I swear, he's never getting out of there."

"Oh...!!!" Kaoru looked around, frustrated. "Yahiko!"

"What?"

"Get over here, that's what!"

Oh, boy, Kaoru in PMS mode. Wonderful. Just wonderful. Right before her wedding, too.

Could this day possibly get any worse?

"Shit!!" A loud curse, and a ripping sound. Megumi's eyes narrowed.

"Tori-atama, what the hell are you doing in there?!"

"Ehe...nothing, nothing...one minute..."

"Yahiko, break open that door," Kaoru commanded.

"But..."

"Do it!" she screamed. He looked at Megumi for her consent, and she nodded.

Crash.

It's amazing what a little boy like Yahiko can do. The shoji was in splinters, revealing Sanosuke in a black tuxedo and a tie that was hanging from his ears.

And...

Megumi's eyes traveled to the floor...

Where her purple dress...

Her perfect, purple dress...

Was ripped in half.

"...gomen...?" Sanosuke raised his hand tentatively as an apology.

Megumi snapped. He was going to get hell from her....

Her hand was raised and ready; she was going to slap him... She didn't think about whether it would hurt him; this was Zanza for crying out loud, a mere slap from her wouldn't even faze him. But she had turned, her hand was flying towards his cheek...

Slap.

She stomped out of the room. Okay, so she hadn't been happy about having to walk down the aisle with Mr. Rooster-Head, but she hadn't planned on getting out of it this way.

And as she turned to face him, realization struck her quite suddenly, like lightning.

I love him.

---

Days from now, she would think back and wish with all her heart that she hadn't realized that right at that particular moment. What a wonderful story it would make to tell their friends, "Oh, that's when I knew I loved him, right when I turned around and slapped him on the cheek!"

Ah. A wonderful story indeed.

Now that she was out of sight, she couldn't help but wonder, how on earth had she realized that? She loved him? Tch. She scoffed at the idea of love. Being in love with the tori-atama would do nothing, absolutely nothing...

Okay, okay. She needed to get over this. Right now, it was Kenshin and Kaoru's wedding, and it was not the time for her to go into a mid-life crisis. Only God knew the hell they had gone through to get Kenshin to pop the question...and she was not going to go through that hell again.

Anyway, it was only a dress.

Her favorite dress, but still just a dress...

...and a realization that would most probably lead to a mid-life crisis, as said, but hey....

She walked calmly back to the scene. Her shoji was still in splinters, Kaoru's face was bright red, Yahiko looked truly afraid, and Kenshin was "oro-ing" at a hundred miles per hour.

Why was she surrounded by idiots?

It was at that moment that she realized that the biggest idiot of them all was nowhere to be seen. She craned her neck until she finally saw...

Sagara Sanosuke...

....sewing...

....her purple dress..

Oh, no. Her dress had gone through enough hell, thank you very much. She snatched the dress out of his hand.

"Oi, I'm trying to help!" Sanosuke scowled.

Megumi was frozen solid. Her dress had been bad enough before...

...but now...

...it was worse. Worse, worse, worse.

The holes in for her arm were sewn to the hemline; the neckline was nowhere to be seen; in fact, it was nothing more than a crumpled ball of purple fabric.

"You call this helping?!" She held up the dress for proof. Kaoru made a little squeaky sound, Yahiko stifled a laugh, and Kenshin had coughed a little too loudly.

Sanosuke blinked. "I swear, kitsune, it didn't look like that two minutes ago..."

Megumi closed her eyes. Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out...

Oh, to hell with it. "You idiot..." She hissed. She wasn't yelling, which made her all the more frightening. "This was my favorite dress...I was going to wear it to the wedding... Now I have nothing to wear..."

Kaoru sensed the tension. "It's okay, Megumi-chan, I've got some clothes you can wear..."

Megumi held up a hand. Like she could fit into any of Kaoru's clothes anyway....She was a good three inches taller than the kenjutsu instructor. "No," she said. "Kaoru, ask Misao-chan to be the bridesmaid."

"No, but--"

"Come on, onna-sensei, it's only a dress...ow, what the--" Kaoru had oh-so-subtly kicked him.

"I know it's only a dress." Megumi's voice was calm and icy. "But I'm tired of this. I'm not going to be in the wedding anymore."

"But Megumi--"

"No. I'm not doing this."

There was silence. Megumi knew full well that it was only a damn dress, and truthfully, she didn't care about the dress anymore. She had had enough of the goddamned tori-atama ruining her dress, her life... and she sure as hell wasn't going to walk down the aisle with him wearing some casual kimono while he wore a tux. No, oh no.

"Are you sure?" Kenshin stepped in, preventing his future wife from blowing up.

"Yes."

"Then there's nothing we can do." Kenshin spoke to Kaoru now, and Megumi was thankful. "Let's just ask Misao-chan to be the bridesmaid, okay? We're late enough as it is."

A slow sigh. "Okay, Kenshin.."

"Well, I'm...going to leave..." Yahiko half-ran out of there. Megumi couldn't blame him.

Sanosuke stared at her. "Oi.."

"What?" she snapped.

"It's only a dress."

Well, now, that was really, really crossing the line, folks. Megumi slowly turned to face him, making eye contact.

"Goddammit, tori-atama, I know it's only a stupid dress!" She was screaming. "I don't care about the damn dress! You've ruined everything!! You've ruined the wedding, you've ruined--my life!"

Because you made me fall in love with you.

Of course, that last bit was unspoken. Sano gaped at her.

"But--"

"Oh, shut up." She strode out of there with what little dignity she had left.

---

The place was packed. Filled to the brim. She saw Tsubame-chan, Tae-san, even Sae, her sister...Okina, Omasu, Okon, all of Misao's family... with a shock, she even saw Saitoh and Tokio there... and even others she had never seen before in her life. She glanced at the front. Kenshin was standing there, his face the color of his hair. Kaoru was in the back, blushing, with Gensai-sensei getting ready to walk her to the front. And behind them was Misao, looking nervous... She waited to see if Sano would come running up and grab her wrist and get ready to walk... but he wasn't there.

God, no. He'd better not just leave Misao alone by herself!

To her utter shock, Aoshi joined Misao, unemotional as ever. Misao turned red, but she saw her mouth a question, undeniably, "Where's Sano?"

Which is exactly what she wanted to know.

Aoshi shrugged, mouthing back an answer that she couldn't understand. Talk louder, she wanted to scream, louder!

Stop it. Breathe in, out, in, out...

The music started, and Kaoru began to walk slowly to the front. While others were beginning to bawl, Megumi had to stop herself from laughing.

Because now..only now did she realize how stupid she had been acting.

She heard nothing, but saw everything. How Kaoru smiled so lovingly at Kenshin, the way he looked at her...the way their eyes lit up whenever they saw each other, the way they acted around each other...

The way they needed each other..

The way they loved each other...

She watched as Kaoru made it to the front. Her eyes moved to the back, where Aoshi and Misao were still walking. It was plain to see that Misao was in pure heaven, and here was the big part--Aoshi looked totally at ease, totally comfortable. And she knew that in their own way, they needed and loved each other as well.

So many different couples...that surely....Sano and herself couldn't make too much of an impact...

"Damn," she mumbled to herself.

Okay, so it was finally crystal clear. She was in love with Sano, the idiot.

Right after she turned and slapped him, she looked back.

And realized that she loved him.

Romantic, no?

The vows had been made, the rings had been slipped on their fingers. And then Kenshin and Kaoru moved closer to each other, closer, closer, closer, until their lips met in a kiss...

A kiss filled with need...

A kiss filled with love...

The crowd erupted with cheers.

---

A wedding reception was what Kaoru had called it. The crowd all went to the Akabeko, happy and cheerful. There was laughter and joy...and all the rest of that crap, while Megumi sat, silently picking at her sushi.

"Megumi? Have you seen Sano?" Misao asked.

She shook her head. "Nope."

"Don't you want to?"

Hell, yes.

"No," she lied. "I'm not in the mood to talk to that idiot right now."

"Ah. Okay." Misao sensed that she needed to be alone at this moment..

Now, she knew she should apologize to him.... She didn't care about the dress anymore. What she was really upset about was that she loved him, loved him when she knew she shouldn't. Goddamn it all. What had she ever done to deserve torture like this?

So now, came the task of apologizing.

Great...really, really, really great...

She went over it in her head. Her finding Sano in this big crowd, looking down bashfully, and finally saying the dreaded words: "I'm sorry." And then he would forgive her, tell her he loved her, kiss, and grow old together.

HELL, NO.

Don't get her wrong. Takani Megumi was a very rational, practical woman, and on the rare occasions that she was at fault, she could easily swallow her pride and apologize with all her graces.

It was who she was apologizing to that was the problem.

She could just imagine his reaction. God, it would never end. He would never be able to shut up about it. In fact, she wouldn't be too surprised if he stood up in the middle of the town and declared loudly, "The kitsune-sensei has apologized to me! Better yet, she's in love with me!"

Ah, well, maybe not that last part.

Because hell would freeze over at least one hundred times before she ever confessed to him!

Nevertheless, she had to apologize. She was partly at fault for exploding at him like that. But if that damned idiot hadn't stayed so long in her room changing in the first place, none of this would have ever happened... Stupid tori-atama, always getting her into messes like these...

But that wasn't the point right now.

A brief apology, that was what she would do. She would find him, say the two simple words, "I'm sorry," and leave, like nothing had ever happened.

There we go, Megumi thought resolutely to herself. She stood up, brushing off her kimono. She would get this over with even if it killed her.

Stupid Sano was nowhere to be seen. She must have walked through the Akabeko at least ten times, and she still didn't see him. Everybody was too damn loud, that's why, she complained in her head, Especially those idiots over there, drinking their worries away and talking about crap...

Hold on.

She stopped, squinting at the group.

Idiots?

Drinking their worries away?

Talking about crap?

If Sano wasn't there, then she'd stab herself.

Warily, she made her way across the drunk men. Sure enough, in the center, in the spotlight...

Was none other that Sanosuke.

A small, sly smile crossed her face. Perfect, perfect...She could apologize, and he wouldn't even be sober! And his so-called "friends" wouldn't be able to witness it; from the looks on their faces, they were totally and completely wasted. She tapped him on the shoulder. He didn't even look up. Two taps. No reaction. She was about to yank at his red bandana with all her strength when she finally heard a fraction of what he was saying...

"Then, the kitsune-onna turns and slaps me!" He promptly began laughing; all the other men began roaring with hysterical laughter. "Just because I wrecked her stupid dress--"

Megumi froze.

"--and she stomps out on me! Women, can you believe 'em?!"

Megumi was shaking. Ever seen Kaoru lose it?

Ohoho, ever seen Megumi lose it?

Sano stood up at this point, wobbling slightly. His breath reeked of sake.

"Be right back, you guys..." He grinned lopsidedly, slouching.

Megumi was shaking with fury. Silently, she stared after him.

If there were any words to describe Sano's fate, it would be this phrase:

Dead man walking.

---

"Hm."

Megumi whirled around. Kenshin was behind her.

"Oh...Ken-san?" Even if he was married, that had long been her nickname for him. She couldn't stop calling him that in the period of one day.

"It seems that we have a problem, de gozaru yo."

"No kidding." Megumi almost snapped at him, but caught herself. This was his special day, and she wasn't going to ruin it.

"You have to forgive him..." Kenshin began placatingly. "Please, Megumi-dono. He's...He's drunk."

"And soon to be dead."

"Ah..." It was obvious Kenshin was running out of ideas to keep his best friend alive. "Demo, Megumi-dono, you--uh, you can't kill him."

"And why not?"

"The authorities will be after you, de gozaru yo."

"Oh. Right." Damn. That plan had flown out the window.

"See? You should just let bygones be bygones, Megumi-dono."

Megumi clenched her teeth. This is Ken-san, she reminded herself, He's never done anything to you. You can't kill him. You have no reason behind it. And if you do, Kaoru-chan will never forgive you.

"I won't kill him."

"Good, good..." Kenshin let out a relieved sigh.

"I'll just torture him."

"Oro?!"

"Deprive him of sake. Never give him ohagi when I make it. Never treat his wounds or hands...He never pays me a single cent, anyway..."

"Now, now..."

She turned to him. "Will you kill him for me, Ken-san?"

His amethyst eyes grew wide. "Oro....sessha must decline, Megumi-dono..."

"Oh, right...your vow not to kill..."

"Even if sessha had not sworn that vow, Sano is sessha's best friend..."

Megumi turned on him. "What do you see in that idiot? He's got absolutely no brains, he's reckless, he's lucky he's been able to even live this long--"

"But Sano is very loyal," Kenshin stated.

"Loyal? Maybe. But a royal pain in the ass."

"Sano has some...problems..." Kenshin amended, "but overall, he's a very good person."

"Who ripped my dress...is talking crap about me to his wasted buddies over there... Maybe I'll just make some opium, one last time and accidentally-on-purpose put it in his sake..."

"Megumi-dono!"

"What, what?"

"You can't do that, de gozaru ka!"

"Well, what do you suggest I do?! I'm not going to let him get away with this! He's ruined my entire life, Ken-san!"

"Because you fell in love with him?" His voice was quiet.

"I --" Megumi fell silent. Then she turned around and began to walk away.

"Oro! What are you doing?" Now his voice was panicked.

She looked at him with an ice-cold look that Aoshi would have been proud of. "Looking for Saitoh. Maybe he'll kill him for me."

---

The picture was vivid in her head. Years from now, she would be sitting in a rocking chair in her grandchildren's room, having been roped into telling them a "bedtime story." Three guesses which story she'd be telling.

She could just imagine staring into her grandchildren's wide, innocent eyes and telling them, "The day I fell in love with your ojiichan was the very same day he ripped my favorite dress in half, got drunk and started mouthing off about me to his friends, and when I went insane, and when your Uncle Kenshin and Auntie Kaoru got married. It was a very lovely day, children."

Oh, poor kids. They'd be scarred for life.

Regrettably, Saitoh had been nowhere to be found. Typical, really. Whoever had expected Hajime Saitoh to last long at a party was pretty stupid.

Just apologize, she told herself. And then walk off, and forget about it.

"Where is he?!" she mumbled under her breath. She'd gone back to the group of drunken idiots, and he hadn't been there. She'd gone to every single table at the Akabeko, and he still wasn't there!

Which wasn't helping her mood much.

"When I want to find him, he's nowhere. When I don't want to find him, he's everywhere. Goddamn idiot..."

"Kitsuneee.." Megumi turned around to see, yup, you guessed it, a drunk Sano.

She sighed. Today was not her day..

"What is it?" she shifted slightly.

"Jou-chan told me to come say sorry."

Megumi's eyes narrowed into tiny, tiny slits. From behind the wall, she swore she heard a muffled groan, and what suspiciously sounded like, "He wasn't supposed to say that!"

Peculiar.

Yet, nothing out of the ordinary.

"Well, okay." She placed her hands on her hips. "Go on."

A loud hiccup sounded out of his mouth. "What...you're just gonna stand there and wait for me to say it?"

Her hands tightened around her hips. She ignored the pain.

"Yeah. Go on."

Another hiccup. "But it wasn't even my fault!"

Uh-huh. A drunk Sano apologizing wasn't much better than a sober Sano apologizing.

"What was that?" Her voice was falsely sweet.

"It wasn't my fault!" He looked at her, indignant.

He was really asking for it.

And behind that wall, it sounded like someone was crying. "No...he's ruining everything!"

"It wasn't your fault?!" Megumi's voice was growing louder with every syllable. "You were the one who ripped my dress in the first place! You were the one who ruined my life! You're the one who's screwing up this whole apology, anyhow! IDIOT!"

Stop it, Megumi. Stop, and count to ten.

Like that shit ever worked. It certainly wasn't working out now...

Now, if Sano had kept quiet, maybe Megumi wouldn't have blown up quite as much.

But, come on.

Has Sagara Sanosuke ever known when to shut up?

Sadly, no.

"Me?" His voice was off; his eyes were glazed. Even when he was wasted, he was still Sanosuke, no matter what. "YOU'RE the one who's -- who's got PMS!"

Megumi froze.

Literally, froze.

And everything he'd ever done to her came flashing through her mind...Like...when before you die, your life flashes before your eyes. In this case, before she was going to murder him, her life with him flashed before her eyes...

Which just gave her more motivation.

Her hand was raised. He was looking at her smugly.

Her hand was flying. He was still looking at her smugly.

Her hand made contact. He was still looking at her smugly.

And it was the oddest thing, but only one thought existed in her mind:

Damn. I still love him.

As she stomped off, mood growing darker by the minute, another thought floated into her head:

How did he even know about PMS?

---

Oh, if only she had Kenshin's sword skills. She would have sliced him in half in the blink of an eye.

"Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid..."

"Megumi-chan, you know that Sano didn't mean any of that!" Kaoru caught up with her, tugging at her purple kimono's sleeve. "Come on, come on..."

Megumi let out a slow sigh. God, why couldn't they leave her alone?!

"He's an idiot."

"I know..."

"I hate him."

"I know..."

Her hands were clenched into a fist; her knuckles were white.

"He's an idiot."

"I know."

"I hate him."

"I know, Megumi-chan, you've told me that already."

"But he's ruined everything!" Megumi sighed. "

"You love him."

"He's an idiot." Megumi subtly ignored her friend's last statement.

Three times now. Not once. Not twice.

Three damn times.

She pulled on her hair. "You know how many times he's managed to piss me off today?"

"Usually, it's only once..." Kaoru trailed off in a cheery voice.

"Three times, Kaoru-chan. Three times. First, he ripped my dress. Then he started talking about me to his friends. Drunk friends. Then, that whole bit about me having PMS. Do you know what I'd like to do to him?!"

"Uh--"

"Kill him. I asked Ken-san to do it, but he refused. Then I went off looking for Saitoh, but I couldn't find him."

Kaoru snorted. "You expect 'The Wolf of Mibu' to stay at a party for more than ten minutes?"

"I know, I know, it was a ridiculous idea. I'd like to make opium, one last time..it's a just cause, don't you think?"

"Megumi-chan!"

Megumi rolled her eyes. "Ken-san had the same reaction."

"Have you ever wondered what your life would be like without Sanosuke?"

"Yeah. It'd be perfect."

"You'd still be working for Kanryuu."

Megumi paused. "Ken-san would've saved me."

"Oh? Megumi-chan, you would be dead by now."

"What?"

"Don't you remember? Sanosuke was the first one who got to you, not Kenshin. By the time Kenshin, Yahiko, and I got there, he'd saved you already."

Ah, shit. She truly hated to admit it, but Kaoru was right. The tori-atama had been the first to get to her...he had been the one who'd stopped the dagger's path...

"I never thought of it that way." Megumi stopped walking.

"You owe your life to him." There went that goddamned hinting smile on Kaoru's face again.

"Pssh. I never asked to be saved."

"Oh, you two are so stubborn!" Kaoru grabbed Megumi's arm and began to drag her back to where Sanosuke was.

"Kaoru-chan! Let go!"

"You two have got to get over your differences! I know you two hate each other's guts, but underneath that, it's obvious you two are crazy for each other!"

"That tori-atama only cares about himself!" Megumi cried crossly.

"That's what you think!"

"And how would you know?"

"Trust me!"

"The last time I heard those words, I found myself eating burnt rice!"

"Oh, that's not nice, Megumi-chan."

"Gomen ne." She tried to yank back, but it was too late. Kenshin was dragging Sanosuke over to the two of them.

Oh, damn it all. This was probably the worst day in her entire life.

Let's recap.

Number one, her dress was still ripped.

Number two, she'd finally realized that she was in love with the tori-atama. In other words, mid-life crisis.

Number three, she needed to apologize to him.

Number four, he was drunk.

Number five, he had publicly embarrassed her by shouting "You've got PMS!" in front of everybody in the Akabeko.

Number six, she was being dragged to him.

Damn, damn, damn.

"Don't mess this up again, Megumi-chan, please," Kaoru begged her.

"Me? I never mess it up! He's the one who always starts it--" She covered her mouth. Great. Now she was acting like a three-year-old.

"For me...it's my wedding day!"

"Ahh.." Megumi exhaled slowly. "I'll--I'll try."

But then again, things are always easier said than done.

---

Apologizing to a drunk Sano.

What had she gotten herself into now?

Well, at least he was drunk and he probably wouldn't remember any of this afterwards.

She sighed, long and hard. "I'm sorry."

There, she'd said it.

"What are you apologizing for? I'm the one who should be sorry."

Megumi's head jerked up. Maybe a drunk tori-atama wasn't so bad after all...

"...che, but it's nice to hear it come from your mouth, kitsune."

Now she couldn't decide. Was he drunk or not?

"Anyway, sorry." He scratched his head, and that familiar Sanosuke grin spread through his lips. "For wrecking your dress. And the other crap I did."

Megumi, as blunt as ever, said, "Are you drunk?"

"Not anymore. What, you want me to go drink some more?"

Truthfully, she didn't know what she wanted anymore.

" 'Cause I can..."

"No, stay sober for once, will you?" There went her sharp tongue again... "Why weren't you at the wedding?"

"I was there."

Megumi rolled her eyes. "You know what I mean."

"What, you wanted me to walk down the aisle with weasel girl?"

A muffled shriek from behind that very same wall...

Megumi raised an eyebrow, but chose to ignore it. "Better than walking down the aisle with a kitsune," she stated.

"Nah, not really. Besides..." He yawned, trying to look nonchalant at this point, "if I had to walk down the aisle with someone, I might as well walk down the aisle with you."

Her eyes were on him. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"Che, you're the doctor, you're supposed to be smart, you figure it out."

What. An. Idiot.

"Idiot," she remarked, rolling her eyes once more.

He was really, really lucky that she loved him because that had probably been the only thing saving his life at that point. Anyway, everything was done and over with now, wasn't it? She'd apologized. He'd apologized. A happy ending usually follows after this, doesn't it?

"So, rumor is, you're in love with me." A cocky, self-centered grin.

It didn't look like that happy ending was going to happen.

Megumi looked down and found her middle finger twitching.

"Rumor is, you're an idiot."

"Che."

"No, that's not a rumor...that's a fact."

"Touché."

He smiled at her then. That Sagara Sanosuke smile..

Okay, fine. I do love him.

And so she admits it.

But admitting it to herself and telling him are two very, very different things.

...but...

"Did you ever see how I fixed your dress?"

Megumi stopped. "What?"

"I tried to sew it up again."

Megumi was trembling. "...what?"

"I've got it over here..." He dug through his jacket. "Here."

"You fit my dress into your jacket?!"

"Easy. I just folded it and sorta crumpled it up..."

I think I'll show my love...

"Let me see it."

He unfolded it.

Megumi wanted to cry.

And then kill him.

...in a different kind of way.

"Tori-atama...I'll kill you," she hissed.

"What now? I fixed it, didn't I? Look, that's where your neck goes, and that's where your arms go, and that's the skirt part, and it looks pretty damn good!"

Her hand was raised again...

Slap.

"Owwww!" Sano rubbed his red cheek. "That's the third time!"

"And the fourth one's coming," threatened Megumi. Sano took off, and she chased right after him.

Slowly, the audience crawled out from behind the wall.

"I can't believe it," Kaoru said, stunned. "That's all?"

Kenshin tried to comfort her. "It's all right. They just-- They just need time."

"I wouldn't be surprised if ten years passed and they're still the way they are..." muttered Misao.

Aoshi rolled his eyes. "What did you expect? A kiss?"

~ Owari ~ The End ~

A/N~ Aaah, I enjoyed writing that!! ^_^ Well, reviews are a writer's best friend. So keep 'em coming! ^___^

*Yeah, I'm fully aware that in the anime, Kaoru and Megumi address each other with the "-san" suffix, indicating politeness and that they really don't know each other too well...in this fic, though, I wanted to make them seem more like friends...like, more comfortable with each other, so I changed it to "-chan"...

AND BY THE WAY, THANK YOU SO, SO MUCH, THOSE OF YOU WHO REVIEWED "A SMILE"... *SNIFFLES* YOU MAKE A WRITER HAPPY.. ^____^