Only With You

Standard Disclaimers Apply

O

Kaoru was a little bit late in meeting Aoshi and Kenshin for lunch later that day. Misao hadn't been too keen on the idea of her new friend lunching with her arch enemy and she had pouted and extracted a promise from Kaoru to go out with her, Tae and Soujiro after school this coming Friday so they too could bond.

Kaoru thought it was rather endearing and she readily agreed.

Kenshin had said that they should meet outside at the parking lot and Kaoru hurried over at the appointed meeting place only to see Aoshi standing alone by Kenshin's car. Kaoru gulped, thinking how awfully awkward it would be to go and stand there by Aoshi in complete and total silence. He was, after all, not known for his fabulous conversational skills.

Kaoru contemplated waiting for Kenshin to arrive before making her appearance. She was just about to turn around and walk inside the school when Aoshi shifted and caught sight of her (Kaoru now knew what the deer felt when it saw the headlights) and gave her a slight nod of acknowledgement. Too late to backtrack and run now…

Damn.

She made her way over to him. "So…I see Kenshin isn't here yet…" Kaoru winced inwardly. Wow, nice opening line there. Good observation.

"No, he isn't." Aoshi agreed.

That he even deigned to answer her rendered Kaoru speechless for a moment. She glanced at him and noticed that he was regarding her with a raised eyebrow and a vague look of interest in his eyes – like she was some sort of interesting specimen he was studying under a microscope.

She cleared her throat and wracked her brain for anything vaguely intelligent to say to Aoshi. Should she launch into a discussion of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's frankly sexist thoughts as to why men and women should differ in education? Or perhaps Aoshi was more of a Nietzsche fan?

Or should she stick with the traditional, like Basho's genius perhaps? Or Mishima?

Kenshin had mentioned once that Aoshi had had a very traditional upbringing and from what Kaoru could gather – seeing as her upbringing was nowhere near conventional, Japanese or otherwise – that usually entailed some sort of martial arts training, especially in the higher echelon of society which Aoshi was clearly a part of.

She asked him if he had some sort of training in martial arts. This clearly surprised Aoshi because he blinked at her and waited a second or two before answering, his tone slightly bemused.

"Yes."

They lapsed into silence again.

"You?" Aoshi inquired after a moment.

Kaoru was so pleased to have the conversation going – somewhat – that her shoulders sagged in relief. "Nope… my dad did try though, but I'm not really the most athletic of people."

"I see."

"I learned some basics though, for self defense. My dad insisted. Plus, I believe in the power of the Pepper Spray."

Aoshi smiled faintly. "I see you have your bases covered then."

Kaoru didn't quite understand what he meant and was about to ask him when she heard a gaggle of people exit the school. Turning her head, she caught sight of a flock of girls surrounding Kenshin as he made his way over to them. The poor redhead seemed to be having a hard time disengaging himself from the adoring mob.

"Japanese fan girls…" she murmured, somehow awed to see the phenomenon in action right in front of her. "It's like being in a shojou manga…"

"…"

"Is it always like that?" Kaoru asked, beyond amused as the girls squealed 'Kenshin-sama'.

"Pretty much…"

"I'm surprised you don't have your own fan club following you around…"

"Oh I used to."

"Used to?"

"They know better now…"

"Oh, did you come into an agreement or something? What did you do?" Kaoru inquired as she watched Kenshin bow and talk to each girl before they left him alone.

"I had one of them arrested."

It took a moment for Kaoru to register what Aoshi said and when she did, her head whipped around to look at him. He was kidding right? He had to be… but his expression was so deadpan that she really couldn't tell. "Seriously…?" she asked finally.

Aoshi glanced at her and smirked. "What do you think?"

O

"Hi Kaoru, I didn't expect to see you but I'm glad you're here!" Sayo said with a smile as she touched her cheek with Kaoru's in greeting and did the same with Kenshin and Aoshi. Kaoru was amused to note Aoshi wince slightly when Sayo called him Shin-chan, though he didn't say anything.

"It's very nice to see you too," Kaoru grinned. She owed Sayo a lot, especially for that envelope full of blackmail/ammunition. She glanced at Kenshin and grinned wondering if she would ever have cause to use it.

"How's your head?" Sayo asked, after they'd all settled down on the table.

"She still has a few loose screws but the doctors said they were that way prior to the accident," Kenshin piped up, smiling at the pretty female waitress who came and handed them the menu before leaving with a polite bow.

Sayo raised an eyebrow and glanced uncertainly at Kaoru.

"Yeah well at least mine are only a bit loose. You on the other hand are missing quite a few."

Kenshin waited a full three seconds before replying. "Oh was that your come back? Now really, I expected better from you…" he tsked with a disappointed shake of his head.

Kaoru rallied and retorted with a barb about Kenshin not having enough brain cells to appreciate subtlety.

Kenshin accused Kaoru of thinking that Irony was where the Ironians lived.

Kaoru dissolved into laughter and accused him of infringing on another's intellectual property. "I happen to know," she pointed out, "that Julian Barnes was the one who thought that up. Really, if you're going to try to be funny at least be original…"

Sayo laughed lightly at Kenshin's look of abashed surprise and Kaoru's smug smile.

Aoshi motioned for the waiter and ordered.

O

Sano once told him he should stop hanging out with girls so much because he might turn queer. That was way back in junior high and Misao had bopped him (Sano) one for being obnoxious. Sano had laughed and said never mind because Misao was apparently more boy than girl anyway.

Yeah, Misao was sort of a tomboy, but that didn't mean she was any less of a girl. She sure talked like one…she talked more than most other girls did actually. As the designated best friend, it was sort of Soujiro's duty to listen too.

Misao was going on about how the vaunted Aoshi-sama was most likely poisoning Kaoru's mind against them all.

Soujiro glanced over at Tae who was smiling while she ate lunch and flipped through the pages of her newest manga acquisition. Soujiro sort of envied her the distraction.

He could understand Misao's dislike of Aoshi Shinomori, the older boy really was quite unpleasant…but did Misao really have to dwell on it so much? It had gotten progressively worse actually – to the point that Soujiro was beginning to think that it obsessed Misao…possessed her.

It gave him a weird feeling that he did not like at all.

Soujiro blinked when Tae suddenly reached out and stuffed a dumpling into Misao's mouth just as she was repeating the lamented fact that she had to live with Aoshi because of her mom's unfortunate choice in bed partners.

"Eat," Tae said with a smile. "I made those especially for you and you haven't touched them at all…"

Misao bit off a good piece of the dumpling and chewed, quieted for the moment.

Sujiro gave Tae a smile.

Tae hummed and flipped on to the next page of her comic.

O

Sayo ordered/ate like a rabbit again, but Kaoru didn't see the point in trying to pretend that her own stomach was the size of an atom so she ordered what she wanted and had a blast eating it.

"Are you sure that's enough for you?" Kenshin leaned over to whisper to her when her order arrived.

She gave him a glare and stomped on his toes with the square heel of her school-issue shoes. He gave a grunt of pain that had Sayo asking if he was alright. Kenshin nodded and gave her a pained smile, giving Kaoru a side-look that promised retribution.

This exchange of course, was not lost on the ever observant eye of one Aoshi Shinomori who was finding it all quite amusing.

"Shin-chan, are you grinning?!" Sayo asked, her fork frozen halfway to her mouth.

"I'd say it's more of a beam, what do you think Kaoru?" Kenshin assessed with mischievous eyes. "Isn't Shin-chan positively beaming?"

Kaoru refrained from the teasing. She wasn't that well acquainted with the brunette yet and he might just rip her head off if she said something touchy. As the meal wore on though, Kaoru found herself entertained by the camaraderie that existed between Aoshi, Kenshin and Sayo.

Truth be told, Kaoru quite enjoyed how the other two teased Aoshi and it surprised her to note that the normally reticent guy didn't seem to mind. Aside from mild exasperation and annoyance, Aoshi's only reaction to the teasing he was receiving was to drawl out a well placed jibe here and there.

Kaoru hadn't known he had it in him.

After the meal ended, they lagged as late as they dared before getting up to leave. Sayo insisted on paying for the meal as her treat but Kenshin ended up shouldering it after he'd said that this was the first time he'd really eaten out with her and Aoshi since he'd come back to Japan so he should be allowed. Sayo acquiesced with a sigh and a small shrug before smiling and tugging both Aoshi and Kaoru outside to the entrance to wait for Kenshin.

OOO

The office was dimly lit and reminded Soujiro of one of those western detective movies where the police would take in the perpetrator to question him. He couldn't help but feel queasy, though he let none of this show as he bowed from the waist down – as low as humanly possible – and apologized for their misconduct…well, it was more Misao really but that was irrelevant at the moment.

"I assume you know why I've called you here then?" Shoyo High's intimidating principal inquired as he eyed them over steepled fingers with glowing gold eyes.

Soujiro looked up just enough to catch those gold eyes glinting from the semi darkness behind the man's desk. There was a light in the room that was angled just so that it cast shadows in the Principal's face and blinded Soujiro somewhat. It was really disconcerting.

"We're sorry, Principal Saito, it won't happen again…" he murmured, briefly considering actually groveling but quickly discarding that idea. The Principal hated sycophants and cowards and groveling would not endear him to the man at all.

"I assume, having reached this level in your education, that you would know the prerequisites of proper behavior. Apparently, I was wrong." One slim eyebrow lifted imperiously as he glared. "There will be no running or shouting in the halls, I recall having said at start of term. How you could have failed to understand such a simple sentence is beyond my comprehension."

"Well you didn't have to pull on my hair…" Misao complained as she massaged her scalp.

Soujiro wanted the floor to open up and swallow him whole when he caught sight of the expression on Principal Saito's face. Oh God, we're going to die…

"What did you say Itachi Musume?"

Misao huffed, "so I was a bit noisy, no need to latch on to my hair as I was passing by. You could have just called my attention like a normal person would, you know…like by calling my name?"

Maybe it was a bit traitorous, but Soujiro's sense of self-preservation had him inching sideways away from Misao and that glare contest she had going on with the principal.

"I would like to point out that you err in your statement, Itachi Musume," Saito drawled. "I did in fact; try to garner your attention verbally – twice in fact. It is through your own fault that you failed to heed my warnings as you were too busy yelling your head off in the halls – an activity not deemed acceptable for a student, especially a female one, who comes from this academic institution."

"Principal Koichi wasn't as strict…" Misao couldn't help but mumble.

"Well, by all means then transfer schools and follow your beloved principal to whichever institution it is he is currently ransacking with his hideous policies. When you have completed your transfer and are no longer a responsibility of this school, then and only then can you behave in an unseemly manner. You will have detention everyday after class for an indefinite period of time. Try my patience again and I will no longer be this lenient."

"Sir! I have practice after school, I'm a varsity cheerleader!" Misao protested.

Soujiro did not like that slow smile that appeared on the man's lips…it did nothing to soften the harsh lines of his face. Instead, it made it all the scarier. Shut up Misao, apologize! He tried to send telepathically, but to no avail.

"And you seem to think that I care because?"

Under the unrelenting golden stare, Misao blushed and looked away.

"Very well then, detention for two hours before classes, make sure you get here fifteen minutes early, you will help me in the office since your beloved Principal Koichi – before he was forcibly removed – has managed to botch up several documents. You can see first hand what blatant disregard for rules can lead to if left to fester. Now leave my office at once."

Misao nodded and apologized (a tad insincerely) before turning to leave, Soujiro hot at her heels.

"Seta-san..."

Soujiro froze and forced himself to turn around.

"As one of the more gifted students at this school, I expected better from you. Learn to control your little friend better."

"She's not my pet though, sir…"

Saito lifted an eyebrow. "Detention for two weeks, after classes…"

Soujiro retained the respectful smile. What did I do exactly?

"You may go now…"

"Yes, sir…"

When the door closed behind the two students, Saito Hajime leaned back against his chair and smirked. He'd had reservations when he'd taken on the job as the school principal two years ago. The previous principal had done a proper job botching everything up and it was going to take a few more years of hard work to undo all the damage that had been done…but Saito felt he was up to it.

His wife was right apparently, he did like scaring the shit out of all these kids.

It was really quite entertaining.

OOO

"Let's not go back to class…" Kenshin suggested suddenly while they were waiting for the valets to show up with their cars.

Kaoru slanted him a look. "Why?"

He shrugged, his hands digging deep into the pockets of his trousers. "I'm bored. We could go to the beach or something, or check out that amusement park…the one with the Ferris Wheel that's all transparent, even the bottom?"

"I suppose I could come. There really isn't much to do at school right now so…" Sayo said with a glance at Kenshin and a small smile.

Kaoru was surprised, Sayo didn't seem the type to skip class, but she supposed that Kenshin probably didn't have any trouble getting girls to do things for him…even things they normally wouldn't do. She'd seen it happen often enough.

"Wonderful," Kenshin said with a smile, before glancing at Kaoru and Aoshi expectantly.

Kaoru looked censoriously at Kenshin. "You shouldn't skip class you know, you might miss something important."

Kenshin raised an eyebrow and drawled. "Darling, I've known most of the stuff they teach in high schools since I was in elementary, believe me, it's no great loss."

Patronizing jack ass, Kaoru thought with a frown aimed his way. But then again, hadn't Hitomi once mentioned how Kenshin had had private tutors since he was a young boy?

"His education has been rather extensive, if eccentric in some ways. I believe you two have that in common…"

Kenshin slung a hand over Kaoru's shoulder and drew her close, his other hand rising so that he could tap her slightly on the tip of her nose with his index finger. "Come on Kaoru-chan, I can't go if you don't…I have driving duties…" he smiled at the valet and accepted his keys.

Sayo did the same.

"Actually, you could hitch a ride with Sayo and give me your keys. I can drive Kaoru to school."

Neither Kaoru nor Kenshin had expected this of Aoshi. Even Sayo seemed a bit surprised, though she showed it only by the minute arching of her right eyebrow.

Aoshi stared them all down. "I've got some things I need to do for a class anyway, so I can't miss it."

"How nice of you Shin-chan," Sayo declared smiling at Aoshi and slanting Kaoru a considering look. She loved Aoshi to death but her gorgeous brunette friend wasn't usually so accommodating.

Aoshi met Kenshin's eyes and lifted the keys from the Kenshin's grasp. "I'll take her home too, no need to worry yourself with getting back early. Come along Kamiya…"

This seemed to mobilize Kaoru and she elbowed Kenshin slightly in the stomach to get him to get his arm off of her. He didn't react other than to retract his limb, seeming to stare at Aoshi as he walked to the driver's side of the car.

"No need to worry Himura," Aoshi said smirking at his friend. "Kamiya, inside the car, now…"

Kaoru didn't really understand the compulsion, but she recognized The Voice of Command and hurried to follow. She shot Kenshin a withering look that said 'I-blame-you-for-this'.

"Well that was strange…" Sayo murmured as she and Kenshin watched Aoshi and Kaoru drive off.

Kenshin remained silent for a moment before turning to Sayo with a smile. "So, where do you want to go?"

OOO

A/N: Sorry for the late update, hope you guys haven't forgotten about the story. please review! thanks...