In The End

By: Chiki Yumeshisa

Disclaimer: I don't own Rurouni Kenshin…all original characters are mine to claim….


AN: Yes, I'm alive. After two years (my last update, according to my profile, was in May 2008), I am back to update. Better than never? Yeah, okay, I know, I'm terrible. Sorry. Just read...


CHAPTER 22

- Wonder -

For a moment, I was like a deer caught in the headlights of a car. I didn't know whether to feel angry or surprised. Well, I guess I felt both…..but still, my situation and encounters with people seemed to be going from bad to worse. Of all the times to be confronted by Kain, it had to be now.

He was standing on the front porch, looking like he was ready to knock on the front door. He was dressed smartly, all in black, complete with sunglasses. These he pushed up, onto his head, holding his blond hair back. They fell in wisps around his face as he turned to look down at me with those familiar dark blue eyes.

"Oh, Kenshin! I'm glad I caught you at the right moment."

Damn, if I could only have been a few minutes later, I would have missed him all together. However, thanks to my persistence that we stop by my place, fate made us bump into each other again.

He began to make his way down the steps, eagerly. I stayed rooted into place, struggling to keep a passive face on. Luckily for him, he stopped a little distance away from me. Distantly, I heard a car door slam shut, and in moments, Kaoru was by my side.

"Kenshin? Who's this?" She asked.

Kain glanced at her briefly, before looking at me again. "I've been trying to get a hold of you for so long now." He started.

"What do you want, Kain?" I demanded.

He looked hurt. "A chance to explain." He said.

I could feel a snarl rise in my throat. I had to fight to keep myself from snapping. "It's too late for that, don't you think?"

"I see that Yuki really is gone….." He said, quietly, warily watching Kaoru. "I saw the grave myself, but I refused to believe it."

"You have no right to call her that." I said, miffed. .

Kain held his hands up, defensively. "I'm sorry – Tomoe – I meant no offense."

Yeah sure, bite me, I thought angrily.

Kaoru watched the exchange between us, confused. Well, I guess she must have been – our conversation was very strange. She tugged on my sleeve. "Ken….."

I held my hand up to stop her from continuing. "I'm sorry I don't have time, right now, Kain." I said, icily. "I have some important matters to attend to."

"As do I." Kain agreed, nodding slightly. "But, since you've been ignoring everything that I've sent you, apparently, I came down here personally to find you. And let me tell you what a tough time you gave me."

Sneering, I said, "That was the intention."

He frowned, his still-handsome face creasing when he did so. He glanced down at my companion again. I tended to get offended easily by this man. Of course, I would never trust him again.

I could feel Kaoru's insistent tug again. "Let's just go, Kenshin….." She pleaded. Her hand found mine, tugging at that instead.

So I turned to go with her. Necessities could be bought, I figured. I just didn't want to be around him any longer. I didn't want Kaoru around either. Putting my hand up to the small of her back, I began to usher her to the car once more.

"Wait, Himura!"

I froze. Not because I wanted to hear what Kain had to say, but because he had never called me that before. Kaoru took a glance over her shoulder, before ducking into the driver's seat.

"We'll find you again you know!" He cried. "It's not over."

"Trust me, it is." I told him, monotonously, before turning my heel again and getting into Kaoru's car.

She was already starting up the engine by that time. She cast me a worried look. "Is it really okay, Kenshin?" She asked. "What if he comes after you?"

"He's been after me for the last four years." I sighed, climbing in again and buckling my seatbelt around my waist securely.

Now she was alarmed. "Oh, what if he intends to do something bad to you?" She cried.

I smiled a bit. "No, he isn't out for that. And besides, he has already done the worst to me. And for that, I can't forgive him." I glanced back to see Kain still standing on my lawn, watching us. His gaze never left my face. It was better that he was looking at me rather than Kaoru. "Never mind – let's just go."

She protested for a moment, but I shot her a warning look. I was not in the mood for concern at the moment. I was slowly beginning to snap, and I desperately didn't want to do so. I had thought Kain had learned his lesson, but it seemed that he hadn't. Reluctantly, Kaoru put her car into gear, driving toward her apartment building while I brooded next to her.

"Kenshin….." She said timidly. "I don't know what's going on, but are you sure you're going to be all right?"
"I'll be fine." I assured her. "And I won't let you get involved in this, Kaoru-san. I'll protect you, no matter what."

She gave me a small smile, her eyes confused. In reassurance, I gave her shoulder a light pat, telling her to forget about it.

Our short ride to her house was silent, as we were both absorbed in our thoughts. We parked toward the back of the parking lot, as the rest of the spaces were filled. Luckily, the mid-afternoon was great: spring had finally decided to warm up, and I took in a big breath of air when I climbed out of the car for the second time that day.

How ironic it all seemed. Just that morning I had been laughing like there wasn't a care in the world. And yet now…..

Kaoru was already starting to pull out our duffel bags from the back compartment, by the time I dragged myself over to her. I felt like my body had been punched in again and again, leaving me hollow and shaky. I wasn't tired as I had gotten a good amount of sleep the night before, but I still wanted to rest. However, I offered to carry both bags up. Kaoru wouldn't hear of it, and took up her bag, leading the way to the building. Shrugging, I picked up my bag and followed her.

A man stood at the door, and welcomed her in when he saw her. He was an elderly man with a full mustache and beard complementing his face. In his arms were two little girls who were both smiling at Kaoru and welcomed her as well. They must have been the people she had told me about before.

I was proven right when she spoke their names. "Gensai-sensei, good afternoon! And it's nice to see you Ayame-chan, Suzume-chan."

"Ah, Kaoru-chan, where have you been lately?" He asked. He noticed me standing there and gave me a friendly bow of his head. Of course, being brought up to respect my elders whether or not I knew them, I bowed low.

"Oh, Gensai-sensei, this is Himura Kenshin, my friend." Kaoru said, when she noticed my gesture. "Kenshin, this is Gensai-sensei, the man I told you about before."

"It's nice to meet you, sir." I said, politely, when I straightened.

A twinkle was in Gensai-sensei's eye. "Yes, yes of course. My granddaughters and I are going to step out for a while. It was nice meeting you."

The children watched me with big eyes. The smaller one broke into a huge grin and shyly waved her hand at me. Despite myself, I smiled and waved back.

I felt Kaoru nudge me with her elbow. "Come on." She said, stepping into the lobby. "It looks like all the kids like you." She teased, when we reached the elevators.

I smiled wistfully. "Yes, all except one."

She seemed to get the hint and she frowned. "Oh, Kenshin, you know that's not what I meant."

I chuckled at her anxiety. The two weeks ahead would prove to be very interesting indeed.

0-0-0-0-0

I had almost forgotten how Kaoru kept house. This time, however, it was better than it had been before. For one thing, her clothes were not all over the living room. For another, the cluttered mess seemed to have been arranged.

She pulled me in, and I barely had enough time to pull off my shoes, let alone arrange them.

Leading me to the small guest bedroom, I stared down at the mess. If the living room was bad – this bedroom was worse. It looked like a tornado had flown in. Now I knew where all the mess had been moved to.

"It needs a bit of cleaning." She said, hesitantly. "If you don't want to stay here, then you could always use my bedroom."

I shook my head, putting my duffel bag down on the floor gingerly. "This will be fine, Kaoru-san. I would never want to kick you out of your own bedroom."

She was now blushing. Goodness, if she didn't want to be embarrassed by the appearance of a room, then she should have always kept it clean.

"I-I was planning on cleaning it." She thought to explain. "But I…well, I haven't had the time and when I do, I feel too lazy."

I couldn't help but chuckle again. She could always amuse me. It looked like she took staying alone for granted. I would have been willing to bet that she had never thought to bring home a man to her home, thus she never got around to cleaning. Either that or she never cleaned in any circumstance, period.

She began to pick up the books on the floor. I bent down to stop her. "I'll take care of it." I said. "You go and take a shower and get some rest. Driving long distances can tire someone out, I know."

I thanked her again, and she, still red, exited the room. I was left to stare at the mess. Rolling up the sleeves to the sweater I wore, I began my work.

By the time Kaoru called me out for something to eat, I had almost finished. The floor was now spotless, all the books were lined neatly by size on the small desk she had. The bed sheets had been changed to the ones I had brought to Kyoto, and all traces of dust had been removed. All the stuff I didn't know what to do with, I had had sorted through. A big bag of garbage stood in the corner, and a small row of teddy bears stared down at me from a shelf where stood a radio, a mirror and a couple of CDs. All clothing had been folded and placed into the closet.

I had made space for a couple of my own clothing in a bottom dresser. She was amazed when she peeked in. I got up, dusting my pants.

"Wow…" her eyes wandered the room for a second. "It's surprising."

I looked up from my handiwork. "What is?" Hadn't she seen a clean room before? With the way the room had been, I guess I should not have wondered.

"That for a man, you sure are feminine." She said.

Irked, I scowled. "Why, thank you. I'm guessing it's to make up for what you lack."

It was her turn to scowl. Two could play that game. So what if I had long hair and a fetish for keeping clean? Huffing, she turned to walk out of the room, her head held up high. Resigned, I followed her.

We sat down to dinner, dropping the topic we had just argued about. I picked up my fork as there were no chopsticks laid out, and poked at the stuff on the plate in front of me.

"It's lasagna." She piped up. "There's plenty more, so eat up."

Realizing that I was really hungry, I took a big bite. And instantly regretted it. If Kenji was a bad cook, then Kaoru was….well, to put it nicely, much worse. I almost choked, and I hurriedly grabbed the tissue in front of me, spitting it out.

She looked up, in surprise.

"K-Kaoru-san….how is that instant lasagna could taste so…" Seeing her expression darken, I fumbled with my words. "…so…..cold?"

It was half-frozen, and mushy. The top had been burned so badly, and she had added some spices to it, from what my tongue told me. She had probably stuck it in the oven and turned the heat up on the highest so that it would cook faster. It only resulted in a half-burned, half-cooked meal.

"I know, it tastes like garbage," She agreed, "but I wanted to make a quick meal for you, since I know you were hungry….."

How sweet. Still, she was most likely to poison me than to fill me up. I got up. "I think you should just follow the instructions on the box….." seeing that I was only resulting in pissing her off, I tried a different approach. If I didn't do something, then I would not last the two weeks.

"Why don't I cook?" I offered. I could practically see fumes come out of ears at my words. I held up my hands to calm her down. "So that I won't seem like a freeloader." I added, hastily.

She sniffed, putting down her fork. "I told you my cooking was bad." She said, mournfully.

Just to make her feel better, I winked, gathering our plates of half-finished food and the remaining lasagna and threw the contents out. "This isn't exactly cooking. It's taking frozen food and serving it up. I bet what you cook from scratch tastes better."

Defeated, she sighed. "No, that's worse, actually. I end up buying instant foods, or ordering out all the time. I can't even eat my own junk."

"You can improve." I pacified her. "If you want, I'll help you."

I wasn't exactly the greatest cook either, but since my mother was always so fond of it, I guess I had learned a thing or two. Back then I was never happy with watching her cook, but I was glad now that I had. She finally relented and I quickly set to work.

Rummaging through her refrigerator, I managed to scrounge up enough for a simple meal. It wasn't the best as there wasn't much to work with, but it was better than nothing. And at least it was edible. I made a mental note to myself that I would have to go with her for some groceries - soft drinks and a molding loaf of bread were all that was left in the fridge, and I most certainly could not work with that.

Afterwards, I excused myself to take a shower, and to freshen up. My weary muscles relaxed when the spray of hot water splayed over my skin. It took longer than normal for me to use the shower as I had to figure out how to work it and look for some shampoo. Since my hair was long, it took a while for it to dry. I was still toweling it out as I entered the living room again.

This time, she had taken the initiative to really clean the place up, almost as if to prove to me that she could be neat once in a while. She had made tea, and offered a cup to me, and I sat across from her, on that single couch. So I let my hair fall down my back in damp, loose strands, draping the towel around my shoulders to keep my back from getting all wet.

She was sitting down with a bunch of papers in her lap. "I've got to do some marking for another teacher. She's out of town so I offered to help her out.

"I'm going to record all those that I've done so far," She continued, "could you please read the marks out to me?" She proceeded to hand me a stack

It wasn't that bad, so I nodded. So while I sipped at my drink, I helped her out. I stopped when I saw a name that sounded so familiar.

"Myojin Yahiko." I said.

She looked up, her pen hovering over her paper.

"That's Kenji's friend…" I said, staring at his marks. He was a good student apparently, passing his test with a mark over 80.

Kaoru twirled the pen in her hand with her fingers. "Oh, Yahiko." She said, smiling. "It looks like the brat is actually working harder this year."

I leaned forward in my seat, pulling my legs up so that I sat in a crouched position. "I have never met him." I said, "And Kenji always speaks so highly of him."

Kaoru was frowning now. "Kenshin….Yahiko and Kenji-kun are not friends, actually."

Confused, I put down the paper. "What do you mean?"

"Well, Yahiko doesn't even know who Kenji is." She started. She pushed away the paper from her lap, setting it aside on the couch. "I asked him the other day.

"Yahiko is the star kendo-ist in our school. A tough kid, who's bright and intelligent, like every other student. And, like every other student, an arrogant jerk. But half the girls like him, and he has many friends - and Kenji isn't among them.

"Remember, I told you, that Kenji doesn't have friends…..it seems he wishes he was Yahiko's friend…..but…I don't know how to say this….I think he's been lying to you, Kenshin."

So that was why….that was why he always made up excuses whenever I asked him who Yahiko was. It was frustrating but at the same time surprising: Kenji had someone he looked up to. A part of me was relieved, but at the same time, a part of me was disappointed. Call me vain, but I was willing to bet that every father wanted their son to have them as their role model. I was a lousy one, though. So much for that thought.

Yet, Kaoru spoke so fondly of him, as if she was very close to the boy. "Are you related to Myojin-san in any way?" I asked.

Kaoru shook her head, picking up the pages again. "No. But I was the Kendo instructor's substitute when he sprained his wrists in a tournament. Yahiko hated me at first, but after a while, we became….mutual friends." She finished. "I showed him that guys aren't the only people who can do the sport."

I rolled my eyes. "You must teach me some moves." I said, scornfully. Not that I was a sexist in any way – far from it – but I had never seen a woman wield a sword before. And picturing Kaoru doing so was just far too amusing.

She was glowering again. "Oh I will," She promised, "And I'll make sure you learn your lesson – the hard way."

My, was she ever so spirited. She would never change it would seem. I held my hands up in defeat. "Yes, yes," I said, standing up from the couch. I had no idea why I was being so cynical with her that morning. I guess…if I looked cute when I blushed, she looked cute when she was angry.

She got up from the couch too, rubbing her eyes tiredly. "I guess I can finish the rest tomorrow…." She sighed, glancing at the remaining papers sullenly. She then suddenly smiled up at me. "Thanks for your help."
"It's nothing." I murmured, handing her back the stack I had been holding. "Thanks for telling me the truth. You know: about Kenji…." I looked away quickly, suddenly feeling uncomfortable. Of course, I was ashamed – Kenji couldn't seem to trust me at all. The outcome of this whole mess was starting to look darker and darker. "Anyway, Kaoru-san, please go and get some rest. You must be so tired after all that's happened."
Once again, she looked worried, but she nodded. "Okay. Good night, Kenshin. Are you sure you're going to be all right?"

My eyes glanced toward the door leading into the house. "Yes. I'll be fine. Good night, Kaoru-san."

For a moment, neither of us moved. But then she began to back out of the room hesitantly. When she was gone, I did a last check on the stoves and electronic appliances before making sure that the front door was securely locked and bolted into place. It was one thing for the house to burn down, and another for it to be broken into.

That night, I got no sleep.

0-0-0-0-0

Kaoru was wandering into the living room sleepily, still in her pajamas, when I walked in, a fresh load of laundry in my arms. She was awake instantly, seeing me.

"Good morning!" I said, cheerfully. I was not about to show her that I was exhausted.

She tilted her head. "Good morning….Kenshin, what are you doing?"

"Laundry." I said, nonchalantly. Wasn't it obvious?

"Why?"
"Because it was just there." I told her. I had spied her laundry in the washroom that morning when I was freshening up and I decided to help her out a bit. She seemed very busy and I had nothing else better to do anyway. I'd be damned if I went back to work during my leave of absence. I could practically hear Saitou sniggering.

Kaoru shifted uncomfortably as I began to fold the clothing neatly. "You don't have to…." She protested.

"Kaoru-san, I don't mind in the least." I assured her. "Think of it as a way of paying you back for my freeloading. I have to help out and do my share of the work."
She was blushing now. "But you already made dinner last night….."

I continued, as if I had not heard her. "If there is anything more that you need done, please just let me know." I eyed her for a moment, plastering a smile onto my face. "Why don't you go and freshen up? I was unable to make breakfast, so we'll have to go out for something."
Her face was that of uncertainty. "But, Kenshin…"

Before she could say anything more, a knock came at the door. I straightened instantly, listening intently, on my guard. I had been caught off guard too many times already so it was only natural that I was more cautious. Even Kaoru seemed to stiffen and turned her head toward the source of the sound as well.

"Kaoru-neechan!" A small voice from behind the door called eagerly.

"Kao…nee!" A smaller voice echoed, just as eagerly. Another couple of knocks.

Kaoru relaxed visibly, letting out a small laugh. "Oh, what, it's just the kids." She said. I never relaxed though, as I watched her cross the room to open the door.

Sure enough, there stood Ayame and Suzume, the two little girls from the day before. They gave Kaoru big hugs as soon as the door opened, their happy tones filtering into the room. I relaxed then, bending once more to get another piece of clothing and folding it.

I could hear them all laughing, and had I not known any better, I would have thought that they were all siblings. Nevertheless, I relished in the sound – in my household, there was no such thing. Compared to my neat and orderly home that was always cold and silent, this cluttered up one seemed bright and cheerful.

As I was reaching down for another piece of laundry, I saw a pair of feet looking up at me. I followed them up to see the smaller girl looking down at me shyly again. In her outstretched hand, she held a t-shirt out to me. "Suzume will help you!" She offered.

Blinking in surprise, I took the shirt from her, a smile coming unbidden onto my face. "Why, thank you, Suzume-chan." I said, gently. "That's very kind of you."

"What's your name?" She asked, leaning forward a bit, to stare into my face.

"Kenshin." I heard myself say.

She was cute, wearing an orange yukata, her brown hair parted and placed up into two pigtails atop her head. She had adorable brown eyes and a wonderful smile. She took the liberty to clamber onto the couch next to me, swinging her little legs back and forth energetically. "Ken-nii?" She asked.

I nodded, amused.

In no time at all, I had made fast friends with the little one. And not just her, but her sister as well. Together, we finished with that batch of laundry. Okay, let me rephrase that: I folded the clothing as fast as possible to keep up with them as they handed me the articles.

By the time I was done, Kaoru came out looking refreshed and dressed for the day. "I'm hungry." She announced, grabbing her purse. "I'll take us to breakfast first – my treat."

Both Suzume and Ayame cheered at the mention of food. I couldn't help but smile at their enthusiasm. Breakfast sounded great. Picking up Suzume who wanted to be carried, we exited the house.

Dr. Gensai was in the hallway, an elderly woman standing next to her. "There you are, you two." He said, crossing over to us. I nodded my head at him in acknowledgement, as bowing was almost impossible with a child in my arms.

"What a cute couple you make." The woman said, with a twinkle in her eye. She was referring to Kaoru and I, of course. "If I didn't know better, I would have thought you two were husband and wife, and these were your children."

I wasn't the only one to blush this time: Kaoru was just as red.

"Kaoru-chan, is that your boyfriend?" She asked, ignoring me completely.

She shook her head, shy glancing at me out of the corner of her eye. "This is my friend, Himura Kenshin."

Finally, she looked at me. Her voice cracked when she spoke. "Himura Kenshin? Someone was by here this morning, looking for you."

I almost dropped Suzume, who cried out in protest, clutching around my neck tightly. Someone was looking for me? I didn't even get a chance to ask as she was back to speaking. "Such a handsome man, he was. A very beautiful-looking gaijin."

"G-gaijin?" I stammered, meeting Kaoru's worried look.

The woman nodded.

"What does he look like, Mayami-san?" Kaoru asked, anxiety evident in her voice.

Mayami thought about it for a moment before she broke into a smile. "He was tall and had blond hair. He wore all black and had sunglasses. I think he was an agent of the government."

An agent my ass.

"Where is he now?" I asked, daring to let my breath out.

"He left." She answered, a bit bewildered by our awkward questions.

My eyes roamed the area. Left? Right? Was he gone, or was he waiting for me downstairs? I gave her a shallow nod, biting the inside of my lip absently. I could not hide away forever – I was a man!

We bade them a good day and continued our way downstairs, crowding into the elevator, trying to shush the two children as they chatted loudly with each other. I panicked for a moment when I saw a man wearing sunglasses in the elevator. He did not have Kain's hair color or build, however, so I relaxed. He tilted his head in my direction, and I quickly averted my gaze. I did not want to be caught staring…but I couldn't help but wonder why someone would wear their sunglasses indoors.

It was when a woman came into the already crowded elevator and asked him to press a certain number, that I found out he was blind. So, I did the favor for him.

And luckily for me, Kain was no where to be seen when we exited the building. I did not need him on my case. Forgetting about him, as I did not want to ruin my whole morning, I buckled the two children in Kaoru's back seats and climbed into the seat beside her. She suddenly handed me the keys to her car.

"You said you drive." She said, answering my unasked question.

"Drove." I corrected. "I don't drive anymore."

She shrugged. "It doesn't mean you don't know how to."

I tried to hand the keys back to her. "Kaoru-san, I am not about to break the rules."

"I drive you everywhere!" She complained, mockingly. "It's your turn to drive me somewhere."

"I don't have my license on me." I said, fumbling for an excuse. It was not my car and if I crashed it, then I would have to pay for the fines.

Kaoru smirked. "Are you chicken?" She taunted.

Gee, and here I thought she was a mature woman. It was always my nature to rise up and grab bait whenever someone did that to me, but today, I did not let that get to me. "Yes, I'm chicken." I said, firmly, placing the keys in her hand.

A bit disappointed, she took the keys back and drove us to the nearest McDonald's she could find. Great, I didn't tell her that I was not fond of western fast food, but I had no say. It was probably her way to smite me for refusing her request for me to drive, and she'd probably just tell me that it was my fault for not taking the keys as she had asked me to.

I guess the children were happy with that choice, so I settled for a cup of tea and an egg sandwich. It was okay and at least I did not have trouble downing it as I always had a problem doing when I went to this particular restaurant.

For the most part, I watched as Kaoru chatted with the little ones. I could tell she was a great teacher with the way she got along with them just fine. I couldn't help but stare.

She was wearing a V-neck cream colored shirt. She wore no accessories, but even like that, she looked pretty. The loose strands of her hair fell around her gracefully when she shook her head. The smile that adorned her features was like a precious jewel, shining in the midst of coals. Her blue eyes were shining when she glanced up at me. "Kenshin? What's wrong?"

Oh my god…..what was wrong with me? I quickly blinked and looked away. In my haste to keep a blush from spreading across my cheeks, I bumped my tea with my elbow, sending the whole cup crashing to the floor. A few drops splashed onto my jeans, but that wasn't a problem. At least her attention was now diverted to the mess on the floor.

And thus, breakfast ended terribly. But, with Kaoru, it was all the same, and she chatted away as if nothing had happened. Once again, she insisted I drive, assuring me that nothing would go wrong, and that her apartment was very close by. We stood in the parking lot arguing over it for a good fifteen minutes before she finally cajoled me into the driver's seat.

It had been years since I had last driven. Even the seat smelled like her. I breathed in the soft smell of Jasmine perfume that she wore, before I turned the ignition. Even though it was not the same car I used back then, the familiarity of it came flooding back.

She piped up beside me when we were five minutes away from her building. "Hey, Kenshin…..what were you thinking about earlier? Were you thinking about Kain?"

I shook my head, swiftly and steadily turning right at an intersection. "Actually, no….I was thinking about…..well…" I stared straight ahead. Damn, we had hit a red light.

"About?" She pressed. She had that worried look on her face again, with her eyebrows furrowing and her mouth turning down in a frown.

I looked back at her, almost shyly. "Well, about how pretty you look." I said truthfully. There was no beating around the bush or else I'd surely end up messing up my words and intentions.

Now, Kaoru blushed a bright pink. And here I thought she knew what I had been thinking. Great, my embarrassment was threatening to kill me. I wanted to disappear. It made it worse when Kaoru asked dumbly, "Really?"

I just nodded, fearing that I would botch anything I would try to respond.

Her cheeks were still pink. "Thank you." She said, quietly. She looked like she was going to say more, but she changed her mind and stayed silent.

Thankfully, I got us safely to her apartment in one piece. Right after dropping off the children, we decided to go to the market to fill the refrigerator with something. I stayed behind the wheel, at Kaoru's insistence. By that time, I didn't much care. I guess I enjoyed driving after the long while I had had a withdrawal.

She headed straight to the candy aisle. It seemed she had a sweet tooth – and here she complained about being fat. I sighed and pushed the grocery cart down the aisle to follow her. She dumped in a bag of Sweet Koko and three boxes of Pocky. "When I said food, I didn't mean junk." I pointed out, watching as she went to get a can of whipped cream. Most likely for those cookies – as if they weren't fattening enough.

She pouted. "I have a craving, okay. I always do when I get my period. I like to eat sweet stuff."

Great – that was unnecessary information. I could feel myself heat. She didn't seem to care, as she swept through the lane, picking out various candies. So I ended up doing all the real shopping. And when we were done, Kaoru paid for it all, as half of it would be eaten by her anyway.

I mean, I would never instant Tuna Casserole. That sounded horribly disgusting.

All in all, the experience was interesting. It felt almost normal, and it hit me, when we were driving back, that it had been the longest while since I had felt secure and comfortable with someone. She had made me feel happy and confident, and little by little I was coming out of my shell.

"Kaoru-san…." I murmured, when I parked the car once again by her building.

"Yes?" She looked up, her mouth already stuffed with her cookies, a can of mango juice in her hand.

I leaned over, wiping the corner of her mouth with my thumb, to take away a crumb. "Thank you."

She blinked up at me, clearly confused and surprised by my action. "Huh? What for?"

I smiled. I didn't bother to explain.

To Be Continued…..


AN: Okay, I really am sorry. Rummaging through old files, I found parts of this story again and it hit me: I haven't updated in a while! I realized that I'm terrible for not posting this even though I promised I'd re-post. I'll try to put everything up slowly as I recover the files. Until the next update ~

-Chiki