Well this story is a bit different from the way I normally write. Let me know what ya'll think.
Warning: R rated for hints at sexual activity and some bits that are more than hints.
Note: This story, as normal, will be replaced once J.D. gets it back to me. Give the girl lots of credit, she never makes you wait long. I am just impatiant!
Disclaimer:I do not own RK.
Note: Edited on 1-8-09. Went in a cleaned it up a little, took out some of the rather cliche things about vampires. I think it reads better. If you're looking for the adult rated bits, head over to .Moon or my LJ.
Kaoru smiled at her friend as she caught the whispered mutterings as she was led the couch. The cane in her hand was working to figure out the layout. Frowning she paused from where Misao was tugging.
"You moved the furniture." If her mental map proved to be right, there should have been a table here…
"It was really cluttered so I thought I'd see if I could space things out. If it gets to confusing I can move it back!" Misao's voice was bright, loud, and utterly cheerful. Kaoru could picture the overly enthusiastic smile on her voice. Straining to smile herself, she breathed in the combination of their perfume: jasmine and vanilla. She hadn't noticed that before – to this detail, at least.
Ever since her car wreck Misao had been a strange mixture of cheerful and anxious, refusing to allow her to do more than eat the hospital jello on her own until the nurses had intervened. She had a fairly good grasp of eating utensils and several ruined hospital gowns to prove it.
The soft rustle of clothing said that Misao was shifting her weight around.
"Stop fidgeting Misao. If I trip, I trip. If I end up cracking my head again maybe it will fix my current predicament. You know the doctors are hopeful that I would recover; this is just temporary. In two weeks we should know better how my eyes are recovering, so just… relax, okay?"
Misao sighed, a puff of sound in the air. Kaoru grinned to herself. If this was what a vampire felt like every time a human came around – assaulted by new sounds and scents – no wonder most of the population avoided humans.
"You're the vampire, aren't you supposed to be unconcerned for my welfare and more concerned with your precious furniture?" Kaoru teased as she careful began to explore the apartment. "I know that one glass table has to be older than I am by several centuries. Imagine what it will look like if my cane goes right through it."
Misao grumbled something and then froze, the natural movement of her body stopping dead. "I have to change the light bulb in the shower!"
Kaoru laughed. It was carefree with only the slightest hint of strain in it and Misao unconsciously relaxed at her friend's merriment.
Misao," Kaoru chuckled. "I am blind! I don't see how a light bulb going out is going to affect my ability to find the shampoo. Unless your night vision suddenly went out, I don't think it's going to be an issue. We can change it when we get my eyesight back."
Misao took a deep breath and Kaoru interrupted what she knew was going to be a continuation of the argument they had already had several times.
I know what you're thinking and the answer is no! Now come and explain to me how you arranged the fridge so I don't make a complete ass of myself when I am looking for yogurt."
Misao did as she was instructed explaining the new organization – organization Kaoru wasn't certain would last all that long – and then quietly informing her of what was on the counter. Not that any of this really mattered right then but the goal was that she learn to find most of these things on her own. At least as long as Misao was here she wouldn't accidentally walk outside in blazing orange and purple.
"Remind me to tell you where things are if you need to know." Misao finally said. "I think we have covered everything and you have gone around the room three times. I left myself sticky notes taped to the cabinets so I won't forget to put things up. I will keep an eye on you but they said you had to get used to using that cane."
She sounded really unhappy about it. Kaoru shrugged and spoke as soothingly as she was able. She knew that most of Misao's problem was that feeling guilty about Kaoru getting hurt in the accident in the first place and was funneling it into her car.
"I think I've gotten over my irrational fear of the dark. Perhaps it will give my lack of ability to sense ki sense a chance to develop. You can tell when you're fixing to crash into something big at least… the air sort of changes, doesn't it? To be honest, the only things I am worried about are chairs or upturned rugs."
Misao sighed. "Fine, fine. Do you know what you want for dinner? I'm in the mood to cook."
Kaoru bit her lip, trying to sort through the octaves of Misao's tone. "Weren't you having friends over for dinner?"
Misao was silent as Kaoru searched around for the couch, finally locating it and sinking down with the sigh. Friends would be a distracted for the small vampire and Kaoru supposed she needed to go ahead and jump into this blindness with both feet. Two weeks hadn't made her an expert at it by any means and people made her uncomfortable; but she was tired of being treated like a child. Being blind was hard and until she relearned her kendo without her eyes she was out of a job. But she was alive. At least one other driver hadn't been so lucky. She could deal with the temporary blindness.
The biggest strain was Misao's insistence on a small blood-exchange between them in the hopes of reconnected the damaged nerves. Unfortunately, that would put them both at risk. Vampires were no longer actively hunted by the government, but there were small, more mobile threats that would pose a problem to them both if it was discovered that Kaoru was exchanging blood with a vampire. And the doctor's still had so many tests they wanted to run they wouldn't manage to avoid blood tests forever. Best to wait for that to be a last resort; although she was half-convinced that knowing there might be a way to solve her problem was what had saved her sanity. She was even able to start making jokes.
"I told them not to come." Misao admitted. "I didn't want to strain you on your first day back."
There was a note of something in her voice, an edge that Kaoru didn't recognize and she turned it over in her mind. Why would Misao sound worried?
There was something else in her voice, a hint of something besides the strain and it gave Kaoru a pause. Why would her friend sound…worried? Chewing on her lip, she shook her head. As a general rule, vampires didn't bother her. Ever since the War between the two races, both had been eyeing each other as they slowly came back into society. That didn't mean that everyone liked it.
"Call then back and tell them to come. You've wanted to introduce me to this male friend of yours for months now and if I need to, I can retreat to my room to sleep."
"Are you sure? We can really wait for another time."
"No. I'm sure. It's less likely that they'll treat me like glass than our human's friends anyway."
Misao hesitated but when Kaoru insisted, she sighed heavily. Soon the Misao's quiet voice filled the room and Kaoru could almost make the deeper undertones of a male voice. Kaoru was alright with the conversation right up until the caught the word 'friends.' Frowning, she tried to decide how many she could possibly be inviting.
Shaking off her sudden bad mood, she deliberately turned her attention to what she was going to do to occupy her time now that she was home. The hospital had been boring but here… things were familiar and alien all at once. Misao had argued with her boss and gotten a few days off, but she vaguely recalled there being a rather important conference in the next weeks that she would have to attend. She needed to be able to live on her own by that point. Besides, there was always take out…
She was startled out of her thoughts by a loud banging noise and almost jumped out of her skin. Misao swore creatively under her breath and something metal clattered on the counter. Blinking – a habit she hadn't broken yet – she took a firmer grasp of her cane and pushed herself to her feet, keeping the back of the couch pressed lightly against her calves. She wasn't quite sure why she was standing, but it had been rude to stay standing when she could see so she supposed the rules were the same now that she was blind.
She hoped they were all aware of her lack of vision or that the cane would tip them off. She had already horrified her poor downstairs neighbor when she and Misao had been attempting to make it back into the apartment. She took a deep breath. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea.
"Sano!" Misao's happy voice cheered as she heard the slight oomph that suggested that Misao had rewarded him with one of her enthusiastic hugs. "Who are …"
"Shura, she's a friend from long back. The rest of them should be showing up in half an hour or so. They had to make stop." Sano replied and Kaoru tilted her voice as she listened to his voice. It was the deep cheated baritone of a wide-chested man and from the way his voice seemed to float down he must have been tall.
"So you're the Jou-can Misao won't stop talking about?" Sano asked, his voice suddenly closer than it had been, and she felt the hand without her cane picked up and squeezed. "It's a pleasure to meet you."
Kaoru tilted her chin back a little and let a sardonic smile grace her lips. "I'm not the only one who she talks about. It's a pleasure to put a voice with a name."
Shura – it had to be her – giggled in a high-pitched manner that probably made Misao wince.
"Oh, normally people say "face" with a name." She corrected and there was a silence for a moment that had Kaoru sighing. Apparently she needed a sign…
"I'm blind." Kaoru informed her dryly. "The only way to see his face would be to touch it and I would rather not."
She offered the woman a smile, assuming she was even pointed in the right direction. Shura made an apologetic squeak and promptly ignored her after that. This was fine with her. Kaoru wasn't certain what she would have talked to the woman about…
Misao opened the door twice more before Kaoru managed to claim the corner of the couch she preferred with the apple Misao had apparently been cutting when everyone arrived. The fruit was far better than what she had been eating at the hospital so she enjoyed the flavor on her tongue while she listened to the loud voices and laughter around her. Someone had brought drinks and Kaoru could smell the alcohol. She wrinkled her nose and chewed slowly in an attempt to keep the apple as long as possible. Once it was gone all she would have to do was to sit there and listen to other people ignore her. While an interesting pastime if she was in the extortionist business, it wasn't very helpful for everyday life.
The door was knocked on again and this time Misao squealed like a little girl as new voice filtered in. Kaoru grinned to herself when she caught the "Aoshi" that Misao voice practically purred and settled further into the cushions to hide. Shura had to be sitting on the arm rest or at the other end of their long couch, because her voice was the loudest as she quickly drew attention to herself. Sliding her hand around the plate she sighed as she felt the empty plastic and juice and sucked her fingers clean before turning and reaching out with her left hand to find the table that sat there and easily set the plate down. She had gotten pretty good at judging distances and managed not clang the plastic against the glass.
Settling back into the couch, she couldn't help but tilt her head at the sound of a very distinctive male laugh. It was rich and warm and very amused and she licked her lips in appreciation. If she had eyes she probably would have been tempted to turn and stare at whoever had made such an attractive sound but she was confined to her coach. She was more nervous about tripping over feet or misplaced furniture than she had realized and felt a surge of annoyance – at herself and the guests. Soon as the room quieted and Misao wouldn't make an embarrassing scene, she was going to go and lay down.
It was when she was sitting there, feeling like she was stuck in her own air bubble, that the couch beside her indented and her body sank against a hard thigh and she turned her face in surprise. Her nose caught the scent of ginger and her leg registered the fabric against her bare calf and she tilted her head. "Hello?"
She might not have been able to sense ki in the way she wanted too, but she could feel his thoughtful consideration as she patiently waited for him to speak. She wasn't so sure why she thought it was a man.
"I didn't mean to startle you." The voice was deeper than she thought it would be and there was a rich undertone that raised the hairs on the back of her neck. Either this man was sex on a hot platter or he was very, very ugly.
"You didn't startle me." Kaoru assured him, "Crashing into a doorframe is much worse."
It always helped relax whoever she was with if she used her handicap as a sort of self-pointed joke. He didn't laugh as she had expected but shifted. Shrugging to herself she sat there for another moment before he spoke again. This time she was startled, because she thought the movements of his body meant he had shifted his attention away from and to the other, louder end of the couch.
"My name is Kenshin."
Kaoru pushed a strand of hair that was tickling her face behind an ear and smiled. "I'm Kaoru."
She figured he knew that but her mother had raised her to be polite.
"You seemed to be a bit bored." His tone was slightly teasing and Kaoru blinked in slight surprise. If he wanted to play nice she could play back.
"Hmm….the lighting in this place is terrible. Can't make out anything; but since you seem to want to relieve my boredom you can describe to me what type of a fool my roommate is making of herself." She couldn't quite hide her smile. "She is rather fond of Shinomori-san."
His laughter surprised her and she realized he was the one who she had listened to earlier. Once his hilarity died down, he did an admirable job of describing Misao's various reactions to the present. His smooth voice was pleasant and Kaoru enjoyed listening to it. She nodded in satisfaction when, with a touch of humor coloring his voice, he asked if she was satisfied.
"Very much. I thank you. It will be enjoyable to hold that over her head later on. She'll try to figure out how I know any of it without giving away that I'm right. Mischief colored her voice and she felt that heavy look of consideration on her again.
"Yes?" Kaoru lightly asked, wishing she could see so she could feel on a little better footing. While her vision made her vulnerable, she felt it more so when she couldn't properly judge anyone reactions.
"It's much easier for me to be able to tell what you are feeling, Kenshin-san, if you would talk." Her voice was chagrin and she felt his amusement again.
"You are seemingly honest." He finally spoke and Kaoru raised a brow. Now she couldn't read anything in his voice.
"In my situation, lying will probably backfire tremendously. Stop doing that." She ordered firmly.
"Doing what?" Still that same bland voice.
Exasperated, Kaoru thwacked the leg pressed to hers with the cane she still held in her right hand. He gave a slight yelp and she nodded in satisfaction. "Lying gets you into trouble as well. I mention I need you to speak to read your emotions and you immediately keep your voice guarded. I imagine if I asked to read your face with my fingertips you would make faces."
There was a great deal of exasperation in her voice and he did something rather unexpected. The cane was suddenly out of her hands – 'definitely vampire' Kaoru thought – and both of her hands were suddenly cradling smooth, male cheeks. Her eyes widened in surprise and she jerked against his hold. She could feel his skin shift as he smiled at her reaction.
"It's alright. He told her quietly. "I don't mind at all. If it makes you feel more comfortable when speaking to me, go on."
"I think you must be a pit of a peacock," she murmured, trying to hide her unease behind humor. But her fingers moved obediently over his high cheekbones and brows. He had an even, straight nose and a firm jaw that told her he was probably stubborn. "Most people avoid having other people they don't know touch there face."
His mouth curved into a smile again and she clucked her tongue at him as she finished her exploration. She decided he must have been exceedingly handsome – his features were smooth and she could find no irregularities. He must have been a peacock. He was unashamed of his features and willing to let a strange, blind woman touch him. Alright. So she was sitting next to a handsome, cocky, sexy-voiced vampire who was far too used to woman.
"You're not supposed to smile. I told you that you would make faces." She made a deliberate face at him. "Can I have my cane back please?"
This time, when she heard his smile, she could almost picture the way those thin lips would turn up and the crinkles at the corners of his eyes and the dimple in his cheek. "Do you promise not to hit me with it?"
Kaoru snorted. "That would be entirely dependent your behavior, now wouldn't it?" She changed tactics, feeling his amusement. "Besides I believe I will need it soon, and I doubt it would do you much good."
The smooth, polished handle was placed in her palm carefully. "Why will you need it if not to hit poor, un-expecting house guests in the shins?"
Kaoru rotated her neck to pop it, and she laughed, "Because I plan on going to bed soon. I wake up at odd hours and can never tell what time it is so I am afraid I have been up since very early this morning and I'm tired. So if you will excuse me…"
Kaoru stood carefully and decided that her shirt wasn't at some odd angle. She paused when long, calloused fingers wrapped around her elbow. Those felt like sword calluses. How interesting…
"I will be more than happy to make sure you make it to your room without one of these half-drunk idiots knocking you over." There was the voice she had been expecting since she heard his laugh. Dark, rich, coated with authority and something she hadn't been able to ever put her finger on. It was different than the tone he had been using with her earlier and she swatted him in the leg again.
"I am going to assume that you are taking me because of the danger that they are towards me, not because you think that I am an invalid. I'm accepting – just so you know – because I don't care to get hit by someone as big as Sano must be while they are drunk. That sort of thing is jarring when you're expecting it." Kaoru smiled as brightly as she could manage. "As long as you understand all of that, then it's perfectly alright and I would be most thankful."
His shoulders were shaking with silent laughter and she glared at where she thought his face to be, although she figured the effect was quite lost.
"You're very independent." He managed to say in a voice in perfectly control. Kaoru snorted.
"Next time I am aiming for the ribs." Her tone was a clear warning as she took a step forward. Walking had been the most interesting thing to relearn. No knowing where your feet were going to hit was disconcerting. However, she had learned and even though stairs took her ages, the only thing she really worried about was tripping or suddenly falling. Hitting the ground unexpectedly always left her breathless.
"My room is the blue door. Or it was blue before the accident, with Misao's sudden rush to re-due the house it could be glaring yellow. Perhaps it's a good thing I can't see it." Kaoru mused out loud as he guided her. She sensed a slight change in him, but doubted it was because of her words. She had sensed someone in front of them and then nothing. His body was rippling with barely restrained power again and she sighed. What a great big bully.
"I am not above hitting you in that peacock head of yours if you don't stop glaring at everyone. When they notice us they'll move." Kaoru said firmly. She felt his surprise and rolled her eyes as they moved down the hall. Things were quite between them until she heard the sounds of her door opening, followed by his lungs pulling in a deep breath.
"I can manage from here just fine. I thank you. Have a good night and please get out of my room."
"You don't like men in your room?" His voice was laced with amusement and something else that lingered along her skin like shadow.
Kaoru snorted and waved her hand as if it would dispel the feeling. "I don't like peacocks in my room. My mother always told me nothing good came after midnight and that boys who entered girls rooms were very, very bad." Her mouth curved upwards. "Since you seem to be fond of your knee caps, and the fact that it would take me a while to find them, let's call a truce and you can leave."
He was still laughing when she heard the faint click of her door. What an odd vampire…
Moving over to the door she fumbled a bit before she managed to turn the lock and head back to her bed. She kicked off her shoes, pants and unhooked her bra but stayed in the T-shirt she had on and crawled under covers after a bit of fumbling and closed her eyes. Even with permanent darkness her body needed her eyes closed before it allowed her to go to sleep.
"I don't understand why it's so hard for you to do this! Megumi came and looked at you and agreed with me!" Misao muttered in protest as she scrambled around the room, the stomping of her feet leaving vibrations in the floor Kaoru could easily pick up. She was getting very good at that… picking up vibrations and sensing what was going on around her. The sudden presence of a cold nose in her palm brought a smile to her face.
She wasn't certain where Misao had found him – all the information she had been told suggested a long placement period for someone with only temporary blindness and the necessity of classes to help train her and the dog to work together. But Misao had brought him home mere days after her little vampire get together and he had blended seamlessly into their lives. He was Labrador and supposedly black, but what Kaoru knew was he snored when he slept and he had soft fur.
Jake made things so much simpler.
She rarely needed her cane since Jake would nose her out of the way of chairs and she didn't have to fear getting lost when she and Misao went out. Plus it gave her something to play with when she was stuck alone and deathly afraid of the quiet. Jake was happy to chase his tennis ball or whatever else she tossed carefully around the room. It had surprised her at how much freedom the medium sized dog had given her.
It still didn't change Misao's opinion that she should simple accept blood. Kaoru could understand her fears, but she was going to be fine when Misao disappeared for two weeks. Misao had been looking forward to this conference for months. Just her and her beloved Aoshi and Kaoru refused to ruin it. Jake was going to be a big help and Megumi had offered to stick her head in every so often to check on her.
"What if the building catches on fire? How can you dial a phone to get help? What if something awful happens like someone breaking in? You can't run away! What if you're mugged? You can't see to beat them up anymore!" Misao continued her rant and Kaoru decided to ignore her. They had already argued those points until they were both blue in the face and Kaoru refused to go into it again. Instead she rehashed what Misao had brought up earlier. Megumi's visit.
Megumi – a vampire doctor with access to talents human doctors would never have – had simply appeared the day after the party to look over Kaoru's eyes. She had declared that if the humans were able to help her, it would be a miracle. She had suggested digesting a little of Misao's blood with the hope that that it would re-link her eyes to the parts that interpreted what she saw. There had been a whole lot of medical jargon, but Kaoru had been forced to ask for it in simple terms.
Beyond her natural human aversion to blood, the biggest issue was still the same one Kaoru had been arguing since she came home from the accident. But it was starting to wear thin. She needed to make sure she had a nice, firm, concrete argument for the next time that Misao tried to argue the point. The worst of her concerns was the vampire blood coming up on the human blood tests; some rouge slayer killing her friend because someone had found out she was vampire through her weakness. The other issue was that unless she was changed into a full vampire, then the blood exchange would have to occur once every other day. Unless, of course, they found someone willing to donate blood who was a great deal older.
Even then it would only be months before she needed it again and eventually, her body would become dependent on the blood. That would lead to convulsions and seizures if she was blind for longer than a day. No, it was still best to let the humans see what they would find before she resorted to that. If she wanted to resort to that; Misao just wanted her safe and happy. She couldn't say she was thrilled to be like this, unable to see a smile on her best friends face, the possibility of never seeing her husband's and her children's faces, but it was getting easier each day.
"You're going on that trip." Kaoru informed her calmly as she stood and began to count steps as she moved to her room. "Don't you have a dinner party to go to tonight?" she asked as she moved into her room and reached down to pick off her shoes, her mental voice counting the steps to the closet.
"Yes. You're coming too. It's some sort of fancy restaurant so you should wear that slinky skirt and top with the thong and thigh highs. I will be in there in a little bit to help you dress. Thankfully we went shoe shopping and got you some flats that will look good with it." Misao yelled as she moved past her door and into her own bedroom to get changed.
Kaoru rolled her eyes but dutifully began searching the hangers for the fabric she described. She could almost always tell what formal outfit it was by the feel of it now. There had been on day were she had been so fed up with attempting to figure out her clothing she had burst into tears and refused to wear anything but mismatching pajama bottoms and random T-shirts for days.
She had managed to get the skirt out but the shirt was eluding her probing fingertips. Scowling as she continued her search, she was grateful when Misao entered the room and helped. Between them they managed to find the vest-like top that made emphasized what chest and hips she had. There was a simple sapphire pendent that had been her mother's that s he usually wore with it that they dug out of her jewelry box. Kaoru accepted Misao's help in climbing into the stockings and skirt. Her hair they just pulled away from her face with decorative clips.
Kaoru had tried to protest the makeup but Misao was firm and she forced herself to hold still.
Kaoru hated leaving Jake behind but Misao was insistent, informing her that the people they were going with wouldn't let her get lost anymore than they would….well, let her get lost. Kaoru kept her opinion on that matter to herself and refused to leave her cane behind. So her cane was firmly in her hands as Misao gave the keys to the valet and they went inside the restaurant.
Kaoru was assaulted with the smell of old wine, fresh bread and a smoked meat as soon as the doors opened. She stood there for a moment, absorbing the smells, when she noticed the presence next to her. Warm ginger.
"I wasn't aware they let peacocks into public establishments." Kaoru teased as she tilted her head at him. She heard a woman laugh and recognized Megumi's voice and softly said hello. Misao quickly informed her that Aoshi and Sano were there as well before scampering away in a clack of heels. She didn't try to hide her amusement at the man next to her when he snorted in disbelief.
"I thought they requested you leave all dangerous weapons at home." He quipped as he tapped her can with his foot. "It appears to me your in direct violation."
"Which means we don't have to wonder why they let you in," Kaoru returned as she attempted to locate Misao. "Your wit is anything but scintillating."
She didn't jump this time when he took her arm and looped it through his. She had heard the hostess come up and ask them to follow her and she was rather beginning to suspect that she was being shoved off on Kenshin for the night. Poor man. Well, she would attempt to behave. Tucking the cane against her side she let him weave her through what she could assume was tables of people by the way conversation rose and died.
"They are supposed to have excellent steak here." Kenshin said suddenly. "They also serve fresh bread before meals and Misao likes their appetizers. There appetizers can be ordered as meals and they have several excellent choices of wine."
Kaoru kept her face serene but inside she was a bit surprised that he was giving her a quick rundown of the menu before they reached the table. She squeezed his arms in thanks and accepted his help in settling into her chair. She had never had a man who would pull her chair out and push it in for her, but she supposed she had to give a great deal of credit to the fact that he was doing it for her blindness. She quickly discovered that Sano was to her left and that Kenshin sat to her right. She hadn't quite figured out the placement of the others when the waiter went around asking for drink orders. Kaoru was content with her water and everyone else either chose such or tea. Aoshi had asked for a list of wines for later and Kaoru firmly told herself she was drinking one glass for politeness only.
Kaoru pressed her hand to the edge of the table and discovered that they were sitting at a small, intimate round table. That was fine with her; probably kept the sitting arrangements from being awkward. She had already decided that the steak sounded like a good idea, much easier to eat than pasta. She almost wished that Misao had sat next to her because cutting the steak was going to prove interesting. The others were discussing the menu and she paid attention, nodding her thanks when Kenshin quietly began going over the steak menu and side dishes with her.
By the time the waiter came around and started asking for orders she felt well prepared and easily managed to give off her answers. The only blank spot came later when the waiter came and asked her if she wanted a refill. She just nodded and thanked him and jabbed Sano with her elbow.
"You could have told me I needed a refill."
That brought about a series of amused chuckles but she kept feeling the weight of Kenshin's stare and it was beginning to bother her. She couldn't decide if she should be thankful that she couldn't see the intensity of that stare, only feel it.
Conversation managed to distract her enough that she relaxed while they waited on their food to arriv. She had been training herself to listen to inflictions and she was enjoying the way Kenshin's voice, all rough and male vibrations that rumbled down her spine, washed over her. She listened to the sounds of other diners eating dinner tilted her head to mimic the pose she had used when she was watching someone. She made a point to smile in all the appropriate places as Misao and Sano competed to see who could tell the best story.
Mostly, she was delighted to find herself enjoying the evening.
When dinner came Kenshin's voice ghosted down the ridge of her ear as he leaned over and softly told her were everything was located on her plate; then to her chagrin, he cut her steak into perfect bite size. Kaoru wondered what he was thinking, if it was pity that spurned his action. She had never been attracted to a man purely on his voice before and she felt a bit sick at the idea that his intentions were just to help the poor little blind girl on with her dinner so not to embarrass herself.
'Or he just could be generally helpful. You're worrying over nothing. He just wants to be your friend, there is nothing to think about at all… just enjoy yourself and try not to drop food down your front.' Kaoru nodded to herself.
"Alright," she informed her dinner companions with a smile. "If I somehow managed to drop something in my lap or smear my chin you have to immediately tell me. If not once I get close enough to your person I will practice stabbing mid air with my fork." Kaoru nodded mentally and grinned at the laughter. 'That should set the tone for the meal and none of them will feel embarrassed to help me out now.'
Dinner continued in an easy affair with Kenshin offering suggestions on where best to find her food and Misao dominating the table conversation with her normal flare. She was just finishing the last of her potato – or what she hoped was the last of it – when they began debating desert choices.
Misao's happy voice loudly demanded to know if Kaoru wanted anything.
"If anything I will just steal a bite from someone. There is no way I can eat more than that." Her voice was laughing. Megumi groaned in agreement and set about bullying Sano into getting something they could share. Sano complained but it was evident he didn't really mind by the underlying affection in his tone.
As it was, Kenshin was the one who let her steal small bits, even if he refused to let her attempt to find the cheesecake he ordered on her own and kept handing taking her fork and handing it back. Once the last of the wine and desert were moped up they began plotting what they planned on doing afterwards. Kaoru, feeling the drag of being out for the first real even since her accident was wearing down.
Megumi and Misao wanted to go dancing and Kaoru felt something surge in her stomach at that thought. Dancing… she could already imagine the horror of that situation but when she opened her mouth to argue her voice was cut off before it even began. Kaoru frantically attempted to get her voice in edge wise but Misao was ruthless.
And somehow she found herself back in Misao's car on the way to the nearby jazz club.
"I'm so glad you agreed to come! You need to get out with us more often. We don't mind you know... We want you to come and… well, you want to go right?" Misao asked, and Kaoru gave in. Her friend was still operating under the false pretense that she couldn't do anything on her own and would probably insist on taking her home herself instead of letting her get a taxi.
"No it's alright." Kaoru informed her quietly. "I don't mind."
Half an hour later she was cursing under her breath and wondering if she even fit in; the club she was dragged to wasn't an exclusive human or vampire club and it was ritzier than Kaoru was used to – she could tell by the expensive cologne and perfume that she kept catching whiffs of. Misao had practically bounced her way in – the bouncer had known her smaller friend by name – and Kaoru had heard the sounds of an upbeat tune that the edge of her mouth pulling up as Misao dragged her to the table where their friends were waiting for them. She was shoved into a booth and scooted over to make room for anyone else and ended up hitting a warm body.
"Didn't see you there," Kaoru apologize, wondering who it was.
"It's alright." A voice she hadn't heard before quietly spoke. "I assume you're the lovely Kaoru I have heard so much about lately?" There was a note of playfulness in the man's almost feminine tone and she tilted her head.
"Depends," Kaoru grinned. "Who are you and how much do I have to pay you to keep whatever they told you to yourself?"
He laughed and she felt someone settle next to her. "Cho, darling, this is Kaoru."
There was an emphasis on her name and then a muscled arm was thrown around her shoulders.
"It's a pleasure to meet you." Cho informed her and Kaoru smiled in turn. He smelled like an ex-boyfriend: sweat, beer, and Old Spice. "We've heard nothing but good things. Care for a turn around the floor?"
Kaoru shook her head. "I am afraid I would step on your feet, often, and I haven't figured out the coordination from music to blank floor yet. Thanks for the offer."
"Get something to drink in you and it won't matter." Cho said. "However, I am going to insist that I kidnap the pretty little thing next to you and hit the floor."
There was a coy laugh to her right. Kaoru assumed the booth was round because Cho disappeared and so did the man whose name she hadn't been told.
Kaoru thought she was alone for a moment but she heard the scrap of material against the booth seats across from her and turned her face towards it and wondered how to breech the silence. However, her booth-partner did it for her.
"So your friends with Himura?" There was no open hostility in the tone but Kaoru was under the impression that he didn't care all too much for whoever he was talking about.
"Himura?" Kaoru question, her brows knitting over her eyes. "Can you elaborate?"
There was a snort and then no other words were spoken for a long moment; then Misao was back, laughing and asking her how she. A drink was shoved in her hands with the orders to drink it and Kaoru very carefully tasted the concoction her friend had appeared with. Long Island Ice Tea, while not her favorite was at least not radioactive on her tongue. Too bad she didn't trust her environment enough to drink it without someone there to help her supervise. She was just starting to feel a touch vulnerable sitting there in the dark and loud music when strong fingers wrapped around her wrist and Kenshin's voice reached her ears.
"How's it going?" Kenshin asked as he settled against her. The man sitting on the booth must have left because Kenshin didn't acknowledge him and Kaoru turned and was surprised to feel the faint flutter of his breath against her face. How close was he?
"It's all right. I believe Misao is attempting to liquor me up." Her voice was amused. "Do you have a watch on?"
Kenshin did and quietly told her the time and Kaoru blinked at how late it was really growing. She did hate to drag Misao out of the place when she was having so much fun, but her internal clock was ticking away and she was tired. He must have read some of that in her face because she found herself pulled out of the booth and against his side. Her hands clasped around his waist in reflex and her nose lightly hit his apparently well muscled bicep.
"If you give me a dance then I will take you home." Kenshin offered as the final strains of a slower song began to play.
"I'll step on your feet." Kaoru replied calmly.
"No you won't."
She was about to open her mouth to argue when he tugged her into the crush of bodies and put one hand low on her spine and the other between her shoulder blades, pulling her until her body was pressed against his. She was forced to shift her arms so that they were wrapped around his waist or looking ridiculous. She could feel how packed the place was, the crush of the bodies around her barely giving her the room it took to maneuver even this close to Kenshin. The music was a slower song, on that didn't require a lot of fancy foot work, and Kenshin's muscles flexed against her body as he moved them about, careful to keep her from crashing into anything.
The worst part was that he was right. She didn't step on his feet once.
"Misao! Stop panicking!" Laughter was starting to burble in her chest and it was taking a great deal of willpower not to laugh at her friend. "You're only going to be gone two weeks. Now, you have socks, underwear, night clothing, and all your toiletries?"
"Yes, but Kaoru…"
"Long black skirt, medium length black shirt than can work as a business skirt as well as casual? Stockings? The business suits you want to take? The formal evening gown you bought last week? The shoes that go with the gown? Shoes that go with everything else?" Kaoru continued in her best patient voice, ignoring her attempt to distract her.
"Yes, but Kaoru…"
"I can't think of anything else. I think we have covered everything that is not in this suitcase and hanging clothes in the last suitcase." Kaoru finished.
Misao flopped onto the bed next to her and the bed shook with her weight. "I know, I know. I am not helping. But I am so nervous and you're going to be here…" her words cut off almost nervously. Kaoru frowned in her direction. What did that hanging statement mean? There had been a tone there. She didn't have time to worry about it. Misao was going to miss her flight if she kept this up.
"What time is it?" Kaoru deliberately asked and Misao muttered something nasty under her breath and then screamed and began swearing in earnest. Kaoru laughed to herself as she lay on the bed enjoying the softness at her back.
"I hope you had a great time tonight," His voice – soft velvet against her ear – as he unlocked her front door. When she went to take her keys back, the scrap of callouses against her hands before his mouth, feather soft, had skimmed the tips of her fingers. Then the door was shutting softly behind her and he was gone.
What did it mean?
Kaoru brought up the hand his lips had grazed against with just the faintest prick of his fangs against her skin. Jumping to her feet with most of her pre-accident balance, she began to walk in the direction of the door. A wet nose hit her behind her left knee and she took a set that way and missed the door jam and strolled into the kitchen. Misao kept a box of crackers on the countertop, a jar of peanut butter for when she wanted a snack and various fruits. Kaoru located the peanut butter and crackers and was turning towards the table and attempting to find a chair with her foot and soon did. It was a matter of getting the knife and then relocating that same chair.
She hadn't bothered to shower yet, and was sitting in a pair of boxers she had stolen from a boyfriend back in college. She had put a sport bra on but hadn't bothered with a shirt.
Misao came rushing by, screaming again, and Kaoru just sighed as there was a knock on the door and Aoshi's voice asking to go. Misao was shouting a goodbye, behaves, and loves and then there was merciful silence. She munched on a few more crackers and blinked when she heard a knock on the door. Swallowing she gave up on looking for a shirt and went to answer it.
"Who is it?" Kaoru asked as she stood at the door waiting for an answer.
"You can come in if you promise to close your eyes until I locate a shirt." Kaoru informed him as she unlocked the door and set back to her room, Jake guiding her across the floor. His laughter followed her into her bedroom and she managed to duck around the doors before the front door finished closing. Pulling on the first thing she could find, she stepped back out into the hallway.
"What can I do for you?" She paused at the thump she heard and blinked. "Kenshin?"
"Harley Davidson and rubber duckies make interesting combinations." Kenshin voice was amused and then his fingers were pushing back a strand of dark hair behind her ear. Kaoru raised her face upwards and raised her brows.
"I can't see it." She informed him dryly, "So I don't have to suffer. What was that noise?"
"Groceries and my bag." He told her lightly and she turned to wear his voice had moved.
"Bag?" Kaoru asked in a confused voice. "Why did you bring a bag?"
He paused. "I take it Misao didn't explain?"
"My apartment building caught on fire the other night and Misao offered to let me take her room while they are finishing repairs. She wanted someone to stay with you anyway. Do you mind?" Kenshin asked quietly and Kaoru felt her gut clench again. Him…here…with her; without the distraction of their mutual friends the feeling of his mouth still giving her tingles.
"Oh…I don't see an immediate problem. Try not to walk around shirtless or naked; it would embarrass me."
She should have said no. Then she wouldn't have been in her current position.
It wasn't as if it was a bad position to be in… just one she wasn't sure she knew how to handle. But being face down on the couch with a vampire named Kenshin rubbing the knots out of her back and his long fingered, calloused hands catching on her t-shit…
How she managed to get there was even more confusing. A conversation about her accident that she wasn't fully willing to talk about had turned into a complaint about her ruined birthday present from Misao – in the hopes of distracting him. Instead, she ended up somehow with him giving her the back rub she had missed. She swallowed hard on a moan as his knuckles dug into a tight muscle and decided she really needed to distract herself.
"Do this often?"
He laughed, the low noise leaving her glad he couldn't see her face. "Not often."
"Where did you learn how to do this?"
Somehow, she didn't have the energy to protest when his hands slid under her shirt and those hands were suddenly direction on her skin.
"Here and there… I have found that knowing the structure of the human body to be helpful."
Kaoru tried to think that statement through and failed. Her brain was turning to mush.
"May I ask you some personal questions?"
Kaoru made a motion with her hand that was supposed to convey ascent, but until he started speaking she wasn't sure if she pulled it off. She just really didn't want to move. Or think.
"Are you seeing anyone?"
Kaoru grinned into the couch and shook her head. She had no idea where he was going with this but as long as he kept this up… it should be illegal to have those hands.
The pressure he exerted on her spine was heavenly.
"Do you have any objections to being seduced?"
Kaoru made a noise in her throat. When his hands paused she forced herself to put her feelings into words.
"If I had an objection to the man attempting it I would be more than happy to tell him. When you said personal you meant personal didn't you?"
She hoped she managed to hide how her stomach was twisting with butterflies at his words. Very, very firmly she kept her mind away from what he was referring to. Before his hands starting moving again the sound of Jake whining in the direction of the door caught her attention.
"He needs to be let out." Kaoru muttered, shifting her body to move into a sitting position. He pushed her back down.
"I'll walk him."
Then his hands were gone. A few moments later, the front door opened and shut and the apartment felt strangely empty. Kaoru gave him another forty seconds for vampire hearing and then groaned loudly into the coach. The skin along her spine burned with the feel of his hands.
That hadn't been a great idea.
The best thing to do was to get up, take a shower and forget about his questions and his touch. It took a moment to rouse herself enough to make her way into the bathroom, but in moments she had stripped down and slide into the hot water. The only place she had been forced to accustom herself to fast had been the bathroom. Titling her face into the hot spray, she smiled at the sound of Jake barking his return.
She didn't know how long she stood there – basking in the heat – when the sound of the bathroom door opening caught her attention. The shampoo bottle dropped from her fingers in surprise and she tilted her head towards the door, thankful her back was to it.
There was a long silence and then the sound of the glass doors being moved was followed by fingers sliding through her hair. Her heart was hammering in her chest so loud she knew he could hear it.
"Why are you in here?"
"Misao said you weren't catching on," his tone was soft but there was enough heat in his tone that she could almost feel it against her back. Soft lips brushed across her shoulder. "So I decided to see how you would take the direct approach."
The air wasn't reaching her lungs properly as his fingers skimmed the wet skin of her shoulder, down her bicep and lingered along the veins of her wrist.
"How do you feel about sex in the shower, Kaoru?" There was a slight bite in his tone and the finger in her hair tugged lightly. Her mouth ran dry and she could feel his eyes running along her skin. "If you don't want me here, now is the time to say so."
Swallowing, she licked her lips. She wished she could see him. "I don't mind."
She prayed she didn't sound or look as vulnerable as she felt. His hands griped her shoulders and turned her towards him; then they skimmed slowly and deliberately down her arms, lingering in the sensitive curve of her elbow and then down to her wrists. Then her wet hands were suddenly pressed against his face. She froze, starring sightlessly ahead before she let her fingertips move.
She was surprisingly unembarrassed; here, naked in the shower with a man she couldn't see. But his skin was soft under her hands and the long breath that rattled from his chest when her fingers left his face and slid down the sides of her neck was encouraging. His hair clung to him from the steam and she realized that he wore it long. Her fingers had just touched the edges of his collarbones when he captured her right hand and brought it to his mouth. The heat of the water beating on her back was nothing to what washed through her blood as his fangs scrapped her skin.
Then she was spun around so that the water beat at her chest and his fingers were knuckle deep in her loose hair. The scent of her shampoo was quickly followed by those hands of his running along her scalp and through the ends of her hair. She didn't bother to bite back a moan as he massaged her scalp. She could feel his eyes on her and tried not to mind.
Then he was stepping back, giving her space to rinse the soap from her hair and body. Shoving her bangs out of her eyes, she stilled as his hands smoothed down her neck, coaxing her out of the stream of water. His mouth brushed her chin and he murmured his next words against her jaw.
Was she? Certainly her heart was hammering in her chest but… swallowing; she reached up and ran her hands along her chest. Solid. Broad shoulders that tapered into a narrow waist. She was surprised to find his skin as smooth as her own and wondered what culture he was from or if that was a vampire trait.
"I'm not used to being without vision for this."
"All you have to do is feel me, Kaoru, and you will be just fine."
Kaoru swallowed and curled her fingers around his shoulder and tilted her head back, offering him access to her throat. Lips curling against her jaw, he nudged her against the wall of the shower.
The weeks Misao were gone was a pleasing mix of good food, sex and attention. Kaoru was certain she had never had someone quite as attentive to everything she did as Kenshin. It wasn't so much him touching her, although that was decidedly wonderful, but the way he brushed her hair behind her ears and the feel of his mouth against her shoulder when her large T-shirts slipped down; or the soft whispers of exactly what he was going to do with her later. He never rushed into anything. When she had mentioned wondering how the book she had been reading before the accident, he had read it aloud until it had finished.
She wondered if this was why Misao always sounded so happy with Aoshi. If male vampires treated all their lovers like this… She had never in her life felt so… wanted. He seemed to ambush her for sex whenever he felt like it, but he spent an equal amount of time simply holding her, often tracing the pulse on her neck or wrist.
Currently they were sprawled out on the couch, legs tangled together and Kaoru was starting to feel the effects of the wine he had pulled from somewhere. Tomorrow Misao would be back and apparently Kenshin had decided getting drunk was the best way to great that; or at least getting her drunk. She was suspiciously reminded of the day he had given her that back rub and wondered if liquoring her up had the same desired effect.
Since they had started playing twenty questions before the wine had appeared, she supposed to was partly her fault as well. Still, coming up with something that wasn't trite was difficult when she was working on her fourth glass.
"If you could leave anywhere in the world, were would it be?"
"Somewhere in Southern Spain, the wars left it mostly unpopulated."
Kaoru snorted. The one thing she had learned about the vampire with her was that he tended to like a low profile. He hadn't suggested they go out for more than groceries since he had taken up residence in her apartment.
"If you could get your sight back would you?" Kenshin asked easily, rubbing her feet where they were pressed into his lap.
"I already can." Kaoru absently told him, fingering her hair. She noted how his hands stopped quickly returned. "It's a matter of deciding if I want to."
"I thought the human doctors had named you a lost cause." Kenshin asked quietly.
"It's my turn for a question." Kaoru reminded him as she thought, chewing on her bottom lip carefully. "Let's see…favorite animal!"
"Surprisingly I have become rather attached to that flea attracting animal of yours. Now if we could take care of the shedding problem..." His voice was thoughtful. "Now tell me, haven't your doctors called you a lost cause?"
"They did." Kaoru easily returned. "The worst job you ever had?"
"Assassin," Kenshin said softly after a long pause. "I was an assassin during the war."
Kaoru blinked. "Well, you're older than I thought you were."
"I will question that one in a moment. First, how can you fix your eyes?" Kenshin demanded.
"Megumi and Misao are under the opinion that a bit of vampire blood would reconnect the stuff that is broken. The strength of the vampire's ki would determine how long I would have to go between infusions and eventually I would become dependent on it and the vampire; which is why I am waiting to see if something else comes up."
His thumb moved slowly along her ankle as he digested that information.
"My turn! What do you look like?" Kaoru asked lazily.
"Look like?" He asked in bemusement. "You have had your hands all over my body."
Kaoru grinned and fought her blush. "I mean your coloring. I meant to ask Misao but I kept forgetting."
"I have red hair." He finally told her and she blinked at that. The thick, silky stuff was red. She pictured the normal carrot orange and decided it had to be deeper than that. "My eyes are…purple sometimes…sometimes not."
Kaoru raised a brow at that and he laughed. "When I have…strong emotions they are yellow."
Kaoru blinked. "We'll… you're not boring to look at I suppose."
He laughed at her. "Why aren't you bothered that I am an assassin?"
Kaoru grinned. "That's easy. First of all, I have consumed too much alcohol. Second of all, my best friend was one of the worst spies your people had against mine. If I was going to have moral convulsions over something like killing, cheating, spying, lying, and more killing during the war I would already have had them. If I feel like I need to have palpitations sometime in the future I'll tell you."
"That would be the Kaoru I met." He told her with a laugh. "However, if you can use words such as palpitations and moral convulsions, you don't have enough liquor in you. Sit up and drink up."
Kaoru accepted the glass with a sigh.
"I knew you were trying to get me drunk." She told him with a bit of a hiccup when she finished the glass. His body pressed into hers and he was sucking on her bottom lip. Kenshin smiled against her mouth. "You're very, very clever…."
Kaoru pulled the pillow over her head and sighed in relief. Her sheets, after constant introduction to Kenshin over two week smelled like fresh ginger. Kenshin was already gone and she vaguely remembered him whispering good-bye against her skin. In the other room she listened to the sounds of Misao moaning into the coffee-machine and she burrowed deeper into her covers. If Kenshin had still been here then she could have been wrapped around him like a second skin. In the two weeks that she had been sleeping with him she had never woken alone or cold, regardless when she did. Sometime it was still really early and he coaxed her back to sleep and others her simply picked her up, dropped her onto the couch and came with offerings of hot coffee.
Misao must have gotten in early… or really late. Kaoru snuggled down further, her limbs heavy and tired. It was one of those days were her bed felt perfect wrapped around her body but something smooth brushed against her bare arm and Kaoru groped with her hands until she found a piece of paper. Rolling onto her back she opened her eyes as she attempted to decipher what it was with her finger tips. Kaoru felt like something had punched her in the sternum and she sat there for a long moment, her arms extended over her head, staring at the words that were starting to blur with the rush of her tears.
Kaoru put the paper carefully beside her and turned into her pillow to inhale the clean scent of it and she lay there, breathing until she got control of herself. When she sat back up she was shaking slightly and she stared at her hands for the first time in weeks. Her nails were clean and longer than she kept them. She would have to cut them. She raised her eyes and took in Jake's black coat, pale brown eyes, and long pink tongue as he watched her watch him. Slowly she reached for the piece of white paper and turned it back over. Handwriting, a male handwriting, was evenly etched across the paper and it took a moment to remind herself of the way they read.
Take it easy today. I'm not sure how your eyes will adjust and Megumi should be coming by later to check on you. Your balance will be a little off. I have a friend who called in a favor so I will be gone a few days.
Kaoru sat there for a long time, trying to get a feel for any changes other than her eyes. She swallowed convulsively for several moments but whatever he had done; she couldn't even remember the taste of his blood. The noisy sounds of Misao moving around in the kitchen finally caught her attention and she winced, wondering if her hearing would remain that sensitive.
It took her less time to work up the courage to go and see her friend than she thought it would. She just wasn't expecting the early morning sunlight blinding her the moment she stepped into the living room. Yelping, she slapped her hands over her burning retinas and groaned.
"Kaoru?" Misao's voice was gravelly with lack of sleep. "Why did you just do that?"
Kaoru peeked between her fingers once she had turned her back to the window. Blinking rapidly past the tears that had sprang up, she finally gave up and scooped up the sunglasses Misao had left on the counter. They were dark and she sighed in relief.
"Because some idiot vampire took it upon himself to give his blood and the light hurts."
She was surprised at how steady her voice sounded. Misao gawked at her – had her eyes always been that green? – before she lurched forward and vaulted over the couch to yank down all the blinds over their windows, swearing under her breath.
"Damn. If this hurts just wait until noon! How long ago did Kenshin give you his blood?" She turned and studied her, lips twisting as if caught between smiling and frowning. "Is that why you refused my blood? And what…"
"What what?" Kaoru asked wearily, seeing the calculating expression behind the girl's eyes.
"So you are sleeping together. I thought I smelled sex when I staggered in this morning but the sneaky bastard had aired the place out by the time I woke up." She flopped onto the recliner and stared at her. "So… how is he?"
"I don't want to know why you just out and said that. You're the one who invited him here. If you didn't know what his intentions were then you would never have let him stay. And we are not talking about the other."
Misao sighed. "Fine. I suppose I did know what his intentions were."
Kaoru crossed her arms. "Then what are they?"
Misao's brows shot to her hairline and this time she did smile a slow movement of lips that showed off her the dimple in her left cheek. "If you don't know I'm not telling you."
"Nope! Now, I'm going to make some omelets, hungry?"
"But…" Kaoru started, looking frustrated.
"After we eat we can talk about the effects his blood is having on you if you like."
Kaoru scowled. "Fine."
Misao chopped and cooked and in little less than a half hour they were drinking orange juice or coffee. Kaoru was poking at her food while Misao was barely bothering to chew hers. Jake was sitting at their feet, eyes watching the movements of their forks.
"Alright, you've mostly finished." Kaoru said finally, eyes narrowed. "Talk."
"About what exactly?"
Kaoru pointed her fork. "Don't even."
Misao gave her a long, searching look. The type that no human could reproduce because of the way her pupils shrunk and her eyes flickered with power and fire and everything that kept a vampire alive.
"I think you already know." She told her before heading to the sink. "I think you already know exactly what his intentions are."
"I thought we were going to talk about my eyes."
Kaoru went still and let her mind revisit the past two weeks. She had been going over everything again and again and if she made certain assumptions then she supposed things made sense. In all honesty, the night before was just a blur. The vague memory of Kenshin whispered goodbye against her mouth was even a bit hazy… so whatever he had done, he had insured that she wouldn't remember it.
Reaching up, she rubbed the bridge of her nose. "I don't know where to start… I think I need to go over some things. I just… do you still have those sunglasses you took when you visited Antartica?"
Misao studied her face for a moment before nodding and disappearing back into her bedroom. She returned a moment later and handed them to her. "Do you know where you are going to go?"
"Just for a walk. I need to clear my head."
Misao nodded, letting her head back into her room to change. When she returned, Misao was sitting on the couch, her expression pensive.
"When I get back…"
"I'll tell you what I can. Promise."
Kaoru quietly thanked her and let Jack lead her out the door. She hung onto him by habit and let her mind wander, knowing he would keep her from walking into the road or street lamp. Kaoru soon found herself in the park she preferred and Jake took her straight to a bench, settling at her feet as when she sat down.
And found herself stumped. This entire situation as a lot more complicated than she had given it credit. The way she could see each individual blade of grass, the individual shape of leaves that had once been a blur… the way she could see the faint movements of a caterpillar some two hundred yards off. She supposed that was why he wanted Megumi to check on her. Leaning her head back, she closed her eyes.
This wasn't want she wanted to think about. She wanted to think about her feelings for Kenshin. Feelings. Because she had them. Two weeks with him invading ever inch of her personal space had proved that… two weeks shacked up with a vampire. Her mother would have been horrified.
Kaoru ran her fingers over Jake's ears and swallowed. She knew the tones of his voice, the way his smile felt against her fingers. She knew how attentive he could be and deliberately aware of her he was; the obsession he had with her bottom lip and the way he judge her mood by her pulse.
She was fairly sure she was half in love with him.
And that was the crux of the matter. At some point, he would breach the subject of changing her if he felt what she thought he might. Because time was a factor between them… and if she continued to allow him to feed her his blood, it would become a necessity or she would risk dying. But forever was a long time… and what if he decided…
She pressed her lips together. If she made that decision it would be because there was something worth fighting for and not because she could see again. If she made that decision, then she would still have Misao no matter what went between them.
She just wished she knew what his expectations were.
Kaoru stared up at her dark ceiling, a frown on her face. The last few nights had been ridiculous. Even with the heavy blinds Misao had helped her put up, after spending so much time in the dark it was so hard to sleep. Turning onto her stomach, she pressed her face into her pillow and groaned.
She wasn't sure when she fell asleep but when she woke she wasn't alone. Light was sneaking through her closed lids and she realized he must have come through the window. The early morning sunshine was warm against her skin and she tilted her, cautiously parting her lashes to study the man she had never actually seen before.
His hair really was red. The morning light caught the hidden depths and there were flickers of gold and scarlet mingled with the amazingly bright color of his hair. His skin was as pale as Misao's but his face… oh, his jaw looked as stubborn as it felt and his cheekbones did wonderful things for his nose but… she hadn't expected him to be so pretty. Kaoru hesitated and then brushed her fingertips along his cheekbone, savoring the feel of his skin. Her eyes followed the path her fingers made, smoothing across his eyebrows and tracing the line of his jaw till she came to his mouth. Her fingers ghosted across his rather thin mouth and his lips parted so sharp teeth could scrap across her fingertips. Lifting her eyes, she found violet and gold mingling around the black of his pupil.
"Good morning," he murmured before shifting her against his chest. Kaoru winced at a particularly bright ray of sun caught her mirror and tucked her face against his neck, closing her eyes.
"My eyes are still a bit sensitive," she muttered, breathing deeply of the ginger that never quite left his skin.
His fingers glided along her spine and the blinds slid shut. She blinked in surprise, moving backwards to blink at him. There was a amused smile tucked at the corner of his mouth and she narrowed her eyes.
"I knew you were a peacock."
Those eyes flickered and then she was flat on her back, fingers ghosting her side. Laughing, she wiggled away from those hands. They stopped moving after a moment and she gasped for air, lifting her eyes back to his face to see that he was studying her with eyes that glowed strangely in the dim light of the room.
A fingertip traced next to his eyes. "Are you alright?"
"Are you alright?"
Kaoru looked up at him ran her finger tip along his collarbone, thinking about how best to answer his question. He didn't move body almost unnaturally still, but he didn't break the silence.
"He told you he was an assassin?"
Kaoru curled her fingers around her mug of tea, wondering how she had missed those sparks in her friend's eyes before. "Yes."
Misao blinked and frowned. "I knew he was serious, but I didn't think he would admit to being Battousai."
Kaoru choked. Misao winced.
"Ah, didn't share that did he…"
Misao sighed. "Yes. Damn. Well… too late now."
Kaoru swallowed. "How old is he?"
"Old enough to be dangerous."
"I don't think age has much to do with him being dangerous…"
Misao pursed her lips and shrugged. "Maybe. All I know is… when he asked to meet you after the accident I wasn't in a position to say no. Aoshi is something of a friend of his and… he seemed fascinated. Especially later…. And…. He asked. He didn't have to ask. I knew you well enough to know you would refuse him if you wanted to and he asked so he was bound to certain protocol…"
His hand caught her fingers and held it still. He had relaxed a little but his eyes still burned.
"Tell me what you need." He requested, bringing her wrist to his mouth to drop soft kissing along her palm.
She swallowed as he ran his tongue up her index finger, scrapping lightly with his fangs.
"It was selfish." He said. "I wanted to see your eyes change. I want to read them. I want to know what you are trying to hide when you duck your head behind your bangs."
She swallowed. "Why?"
He let go of her hands and tangled his fingers in her hair, arching her neck. "Because I want complete honesty with what is between us, Kaoru. Because you still feel vulnerable without your eyes and because this was something I could give you. I want your hands on my body but I want your eyes to see what you do to me. Because then perhaps you'll understand that this is no passing attraction between us."
And then he kissed her. His mouth bruised hers, fangs pricking her lips as his tongue invaded her mouth, hands holding her in place as he dominated her mouth with his. And when he pulled back his pupils had dilated until only a thin band of gold wrapped around his pupil and whatever he read in her eyes sent him back in for more.
Her hands tangled in his hair and she tossed her leg around his hips, pulling him close. His fingers dug into her scalp but she hardly noticed as he nibbled and licked a trail over her chin, down past the sensitive spot behind her ear and let his sharp teeth scrap along her pulse; hands sliding out of her hair and down her body with purpose.
Kaoru was uncertain how long they stayed in her bed, limps sprawled in a hazy sort of relaxation as he dropped soft, nibbling kisses along hers shoulder and the tops of her breasts. His tongue stroked along her collarbone and settled against her pulse.
Soft, careful pressure was the last thing she felt as she slid into slip, knowing that whatever he chose for them – she would trust it.