Himura Kenshin, a legend among men.

A man of many names.

Battosai

Hitokiri

Rurouni…

A man of many virtues.

Loyalty

Courage

Love…

A man, for whom only one thing in the world can bring down…

Kaoru's rice balls.

"Oro-ro-ro…Kami, this one feels sick!" Kenshin groaned tiredly. His stomach uttered a disgusting rumble as he slapped a hand to his mouth and sprinted outside. Once again, he vomited spectacularly off the dojo porch. A rousing applause accompanied his weary trek inside. Had he not been the nice rurouni, Sano, Aoshi, and Yahiko would all be sporting painful lumps. But that, coupled with his rolling gut, canceled any hope of revenge. Fever, upset stomach, nausea, and aches all followed whenever he ate Kaoru-dono's rice balls. And her miso soup. And her ramen. She had wonderful qualities, of course; courage, liveliness, an excellent sword arm, and that oh so wonderful beauty that haunted even Kenshin. But her one downfall, the one thing that turned even the little rurouni off, was her atrocious cooking.

He wanted to knock himself out with his beloved sakabato, but knew that he'd wake up later with a splitting headache and vomit-encrusted gi. Past experiences were not fun to remember, and even worse to relive, moment by painful moment. He had kept face, smiled it all down, admonished Sanosuke when the ex-gangster insulted Kaoru-dono's food. But always he was the one to suffer. He sighed with a smile though. If this is all this one has to do to atone for his sins, then so be it. That means that should this one ever tell Kaoru-dono his true feelings, he would be free to grow old and fat with his beloved. His eyes closed, and a slender, curvy form danced before them, beckoning the tired rurouni to a much better place…

"Kenshin? Are you alright?" His eyes flew open and Kenshin shook the vision from his mind. "Hai, Kaoru-dono, I'm wonderful!" He exclaimed, the same old smile plastered over a grimace. He stood carefully, balancing nonchalantly on his sword, seeming quite at ease. She stood before him, in training clothes and sweaty from teaching Yahiko. "Kenshin, I was wondering if you would mind running into town and grabbing some rice and soy sauce. Megumi offered to cook tonight, and the guys said they'd go with you." Kenshin felt light-headed from the relief.

"This unworthy one wouldn't mind at all, Kaoru-dono! This one will go immediately!" He chirruped, and with a hop, he bounded outside, running quickly to unload his stomach yet again where Kaoru-dono couldn't see or hear. Sano and Aoshi had followed, but stayed far enough back to avoid being splashed. "Good grief, Kenshin; how much of Jou-chan's slop did you eat!" "Far, far too much. Sano, Aoshi, forgive me, but she can't know that she's the one who caused my sickness. This one will never forgive himself if she becomes sad." He replied, wiping his mouth on his sleeve. Sano sighed. "I still think you're indulging her too much. She thinks that her food is actually good enough to offer me some soup."

He shuddered, and Aoshi, without his face moving, chuckled. "She tried to pawn off some rice to me and Misao just the other day. Thankfully, with my little Okashira as straightforward as she is, we won't have to worry about that anymore. Truthfully, I'm surprised that she even let me in this morning." Kenshin was using his sword as a cane, walking carefully to avoid another confrontation with his stomach. "Where is Misao-dono, anyway?" He asked. Sano answered. "In Kyoto trying to hire more Oniwabanshu. Without Aoshi, though, she isn't getting many takers." He laughed. "She's spent too much time around Kaoru and Megumi, enough that she's trying to act just like them."

All three men shuddered at that thought, and hurried on, knowing that Megumi did not like to be kept waiting. Kenshin sped up the shopping by not bothering to bargain, and paying full price. He was not in good shape when they made it home, and with Sano half supporting him, he jogged to his room and resumed his purging. Aoshi had been stuck with the food, and he ran to get it to Megumi, anticipating a delicious dinner for a change. Kaoru stopped him as he left the kitchen. "Aoshi, where's Kenshin?" "In his room, I think." "Is he alright?" He looked thoughtful, wondering if he should tell her.

"He's fine, just a little tired. I think he's coming down with a cold, because he wasn't very energetic today. You might want Megumi to check him over." Those were the magic words. Kaoru allowed no one near Kenshin nowadays, even if they were men. "Oh, I'm pretty good with sicknesses, I'll keep an eye on him." With that, she strode away and stopped by the rurouni's room. Sliding open the shoji, she found Kenshin asleep on his futon, his gi removed and the blankets half-off. His bare chest was sweaty, and as she drew closer, she could practically feel the heat of fever. Her slender hand touched his forehead, and amethyst eyes opened, gazing up at her. They closed slowly though, and his breathing steadied as Kaoru sat down beside him.

"Oh, Kenshin…" She whispered, brushing his red bangs aside. His skin was burning, but she knew that there wasn't much she could do until the fever broke. She picked up his blankets and tucked him in gently, with the care of a nurse. He stirred and groaned softly, startling Kaoru. "Kaoru…, ohhh, Kaoru…" He muttered, and the raven-haired girl blushed at the mention of her name. Then something struck her. He's not using the honorific, he's calling me by just my name…She shivered, but drew closer to the futon.

"Kaoru…Kami, koishii, don't leave me now…Let me just…." He moaned, and Kaoru drew ever closer, shock mingling with disbelief at the name he had called her. Koishii…beloved. Did this mean that he loved her as much as she loved him? It had to be…he hadn't said anyone else's name…But did he really? What he did next, proved it. Kenshin's body relaxed and his eyes flew open. She knew he was awake now, and when she reached to touch his cheek, he caught her hand. "Kaoru…" She gasped, for he kissed her hand. "I knew you were here, and let those words slip out. Will you have me?" She was even more in shock now, for not only had Kenshin dropped the honorific, he had shifted from 'this one' to 'I'.

"Yes, Kenshin, I will!" She cried and threw her arms around his neck. He whispered something else, and she backed up enough to look him in the eye. She smiled, and kissed him passionately, the whole world becoming his lips. Suddenly, he stopped her gently, pulled away and stood up. She was confused at first, not understanding. Until, of course, he paled. "Forgive me, Kaoru." With that, he dashed to his shoji, threw it open, and retched over the dojo porch. Again. Applause sounded from the yard, and Sano's voice whooped. "That was a 10-pointer, Kenshin!"

Funny? Probably not. I just figured that Kaoru's cooking never came to the point of actually sickening the Kenshin-gumi before, and that perhaps it should now…Ah, well. A one shot only, and my first, so be nice.

Laters!

KD