Kingdom Hearts ate me. What can I say? But I'm not completely gone! Another quickie. It's funny how fast these suckers come once I get started.

----

Diary of a Manslayer

Chapter 14) A Size Too Small

Akai Kitsune

----

He studied his image in the mirror, turning this way and that, scrutinizing his appearance. He tightened the ties on his hakama just a bit - squeaked - then let it out again, relaxing as his breath returned to him.

This really isn't good, Kenshin thought mournfully, tying his pants and hoping they weren't as bad as the mirror made it look.

"Kenshin!" Kaoru called from the hallway, the only warning given before she slid open the door and stepped over to him. "Come on, we're going to be late!"

"Just a moment," he murmured.

She decided he could have a moment, but not one of silence, moving over to him and loping an arm through his. "Kenshin?" she repeated, leaning her head on his shoulder. "What is it?"

Hesitating, he watched her through the mirror, as she watched him. "Am I... getting bigger?"

She blinked. Studying him for a moment longer, she suddenly smiled, expression mischievous, and prodded his stomach. "Hmm, you mean here?"

"... Oro." Kenshin squirmed, and she laughed, patting his arm.

"Kenshin," Kaoru tried a third time, tone patiently amused, "Of course you've gained weight. You're not as active anymore, what with you being done with all that fighting and wandering around Japan, and you've probably been eating more since you started living here permanently, haven't you?"

He considered this for a moment, then recalled the usual state of his money purse, finally giving a reluctant nod. "I suppose you're right..."

"Besides," she gave him another poke, her tone teasing, "You're not as young as you used to be, either."

One had to wince at that. Every time Yahiko came from his home in Sanosuke's old longhouse looking taller, more broad shouldered, and more mature from one visit to the next, he felt a twinge of mortality tugging at his heart. Something like how he'd felt in the past, except the sword at his throat was his own body, not steel, and its strength would someday wane.

But Kaoru was there, arm wrapped around his waist, snuggling against his back. "Stop worrying. You won't be old for a long, long time."

He smiled faintly, hand lowering to brush against hers. "Yahiko calls you a hag, and you're younger than I."

Kaoru snorted, eyes briefly flickering with anger at the nickname before it faded. "Yahiko's called me that since I was 17. You know it has nothing to do with age."

"Or beauty," he whispered, and was rewarded with her blush. Even after being married for years, he could still catch her off guard.

"The point is," she continued, offering a gentle smile, "Adding a little padding to yourself isn't such a bad thing." Her hand tickled his stomach, fingers moving slowly, knowingly over skin she'd touched since just barely becoming an adult in the eyes of the world. "It makes you seem more permanent..."

"Like I'll be too heavy to move someday," he jested lightly. She smacked his arm, not lightly.

"I mean," she corrected firmly, "Like you're not going to up and leave on us. You've settled enough to feel comfortable, you know?"

"After this long, I'd better."

"Darn right you should," she replied swiftly, eyeing him.

Kenshin sighed faintly, giving his stomach another poke, and gave in, wrapping his arms around her. "I can stand being more... permanent... if you'll keep me."

She laughed, kissing him on the nose. "I wouldn't let anyone have you even if you were fat."

He was lucky. He could never deny that.

---

Note: I don't mean to imply that Kenshin's getting fat. Far from it. But he's always been so skinny; adding a bit of weight would be a lot more healthy for him, and living a more regular life would let that show.