Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters in this story.
"ACHOO!" Kaoru sneezed violently. Sniffling, she wiped the dust off an old box. "I guess I should do this more often." She muttered to herself. She peered into the box, pushing aside a layer of paper to see what lay hidden. Practice swords. At least a dozen, and they were all broken. "Huh?" she said as she pulled one after another out. She shook her head. Her father had never thrown anything away. "Yahiko!" she yelled. A young man appeared at the door to the storage building. "What now?" he grumbled. She turned and frowned at him. "Take these to the wood pile. We might as well use them to keep warm." She handed him the box with the hastily replaced bokken and continued clearing out the shed.
She finished with the front and moved to the back of the shed, which had more junk. Old clothes, useless papers, broken toys, they all went into the trash pile. She did find a few gems, like some journals of her mothers and a box full of letters, mostly from her father to her mother during the war. She placed them aside for later reading and continued poking through the mess. "I don't think this place has been cleaned since Kenshin, and that was over five years ago!" She smiled at the memories of their first meeting. She had shut him in the shed for running in on her while she was bathing. And he had cleaned it before he left that night. Kaoru shook her head and sighed. She grabbed a box of old newspapers and was heading to the trash pile when she tripped over something. She managed to catch herself before she went flying, and after she deposited the box in the trash pile, she went over to inspect what had nearly caused her demise.
It was a small sack, it had probably once been brown, but it had faded considerably, its color now a muddy mixture between light brown and grey. "What is this?" she asked herself. Settling on the ground she picked it up and untied it. An old, faded gi, a sea shell, a bottle of perfume and an old top was all she found in it. "What the…." She frowned. There was something decidedly familiar about that sack. Suddenly, it hit her. This was Kenshin's! Curious at being allowed some small view of his life before he came to the dojo, she examined everything. The sea shell threw her a bit, as did the top. She suspected what the bottle of perfume might mean and felt a little tug at her heart. The gi she hugged to herself, Kenshin's scent still clung faintly to the worn material, along with the smell of white plums from the perfume bottle.
She was interrupted by a shriek and loud footsteps coming in her direction. "MOMMY!" came a yell and a small, red haired boy ran into the shed and threw himself into her arms. "What's wrong?" she asked her son. "Yahiko was being mean again mommy!" he wailed. The boy himself hovered guiltily in the doorway, receiving the dreaded "Kaoru death glare". "I was just teasing him…." Yahiko muttered sheepishly.
"Well, quit it. He's too young to understand." She said. Yahiko snorted. "Maybe I should send him to play with Sano, they're about on the same level." Kaoru smothered a laugh. Her son was tugging her kimono. "Hmm? What is it Kenji?" she asked, her face full of fond amusement.
"Can I have this?" he asked, holding the top out to her. She was reluctant to say yes, in case the top had some sort of special meaning to Kenshin, but Kenji was looking at her with such big violet eyes that she couldn't really say no. "Well, maybe you should ask your daddy, I think it was his." Before she could say anything else, the boy was off and running, shouting for his father. Curious as to what Kenshin's reaction would be, Kaoru dusted her hands off and followed her son.
Kenshin was hanging laundry when his son almost knocked him over. "DADDY! DADDY!" The boy was running a mile a minute and all he could really understand was that he wanted something. "Kenji…son, I can't understand you…" he stopped when the little boy held out a top. "And mommy said I should ask you!" he finished triumphantly. Kaoru rounded the corner and watched as Kenshin crouched down in front of his son and took the top. "Where did you find this?" he asked. Before Kenji could reply, Kaoru answered. "I was cleaning out the storage shed and I found it, there was some other things as well…"
Kenshin nodded, a faraway look in his eyes. He held the top in his hands and turned it over, examining it. "You know, this was my favorite toy when I was a child." He said, finally. Kaoru released a breath she didn't know she was holding. He sat on the grass and gathered his son in his lap. "Do you know how to use it?" he asked. When Kenji shook his head, Kenshin demonstrated. "See, you wrap the string around the top and then you spin it out, like this." He flicked his wrist and the top spun, but only for a moment. "It works better on a solid surface." Still holding his son, he stood up and walked to the dojo porch. He sat the little boy on the steps and showed him again. "See? It spins longer. Now you try." Kaoru watched, smiling as father and son played with the top. "LOOK MOMMY!" Kenji crowed, happily. "I made it go!" he raised a beaming face to his mother. "Yes, you certainly did!" she said, smiling.
Kenji refused to fall asleep that night. Kaoru told him stories and sang to him, but he was too wired to sleep. Finally, though, she rocked him in her arms and his prattle slowed and stopped. She gently laid him down on the mat and covered him with blankets. One last look to make sure everything was all right and she slid the door closed and padded down the hall to her room. Kenshin was already there, the small sack from earlier spread out in front of him. "Kenshin, I hope you don't mind that I let Kenji play with that top…" She said, settling behind him and rubbing his shoulders. "No, Kaoru-koshii, I'm glad he has it. That top meant a lot to me when I was small. My father brought it home for me. After they died, it was all I had left." She leaned against his back for a moment before wrapping her arms around his waist. "And the rest of that stuff?" she asked.
He picked up the sea shell and turned it over in his hand. "I thought this was pretty. I picked it up somewhere, although now I don't recall where." He put it down and hesitated. "The perfume was Tomoe's, right?" she asked. "It's okay. I don't mind." He sighed and relaxed into her embrace. "She always smelled like white plums. I carried this around with me for years. But you know what? I think I really prefer the smell of jasmine." He said, referring to her perfume. She smiled and kissed the top of his head. "Good. Then I won't have to hurt you." They laughed.
She studied him for a moment, watching the play of emotions on his face. Weak as the light was, it didn't hide him from her. Her hand reached up and gently stroked his scarred cheek. Perhaps it was because she had gotten used to it, but she could swear it was growing less pronounced. It was almost as if it was healing.
"Kenshin-anata…" she began, but was distracted when he kissed her hand. "Hmm?" he murmured, turning to face her. "Nothing, I just wanted to say I love you." He smiled. "Aishiteru." He replied. He leaned forward and caught her mouth with his, hands reaching out to entwine hers. She broke the kiss, trailing her lips across his jaw and up towards his ear. "I'm so happy I met you." She whispered into his ear as she caught the lobe with her teeth. His response was muffled, coming from somewhere in the vicinity of her neck, but it agreed with her.
The Himuras didn't get much sleep that night.
A Nice Bit O'Fluff by Gemini523
**Author's Note** SPOILER! Hey…if you've seen the last manga edition of RK, then you know they have a son. Sigh. A happy ending. I don't know what color his hair or eyes were since it was in black and white, but he looked so darn much like Kenshin that I decided to give him red hair and violet eyes. His name, Kenji, was their son's name in the manga. The top came from the OVA, if you've seen it. Kenshin had it when he was a child and they showed him playing with it several times in the episodes. That's where I got the idea for this fic. Also from the OVA is the bottle of perfume. There's a scene that shows Tomoe putting some perfume on. I don't know what happened to these items, but for the purposes of this story, he kept them. He seems like he might be a wee bit sentimental, ne? Also…I'd like to acknowledge and thank Sekihara Tae from the Akabeko. She uses the terms anata (means something like you, but can also mean darling from wife to husband), koshii (beloved, I think), aishiteru (I love you) and some of the other Japanese words I threw in here. (Thanks for the little Japanese Index of terms at the bottom of your stories!) She's a great writer and I'd recommend you read her stuff.