Mystery Head-Cold Theatre 3000 presents:

Keneko

By Shirou Shinjin.

Disclaimer: I have not, do not, and most likely will never own Rurouni Kenshin, or its characters. They belong to various evil corporations, and the wonderful Watsuki-sama. I'm just going to borrow them for a bit, k?

Additional Disclaimer: This story was written whilst the author was sick and not at all right in the head.


Kenshin sat awake in his room. It was late, but he could not bring himself to sleep. It had been months since Enishi's Jinchuu, and life at the dojo had almost returned to normal... he missed the presence of his friend Sano, and Megumi was no longer around to taunt Kaoru, but everything else was back to normal.

Only it wasn't. Enishi's Jinchuu had stirred a part of Kenshin that he thought he would never have to face. When he saw Kaoru's body pinned to the dojo wall, he had died. When he had learned that she was alive—the body nothing more than a puppet meant to undo him—he felt reborn. His purpose in life, he knew, was to forever protect his beautiful Kaoru... protect her from the world that would all too happily crush her dreams.

But that was not enough, any more. He was finding it harder and harder to keep himself... to himself. He was spending more time with Kaoru than ever, and her affections for him did not go unnoticed. But he knew he could never return them, however desperately he wanted to. He was stained. Bloody. A murderer. The antithesis of everything her pure and lovely spirit embodied.

No, he could never touch her. If he did, she would end up as the last woman he had loved did. She would die.

And it was killing him once again.

He looked up and the ceiling, and silently prayed to whatever kami might have been listening.

"I don't want to hurt her... please..."

With that, he finally drifted off into a fitful sleep.

Unfortunately, Kenshin's wish did not go unheard. It was heard by a benevolent kami who had a propensity for bringing happiness into people's lives by giving them their fondest wishes.

This is unfortunate, because on this particular night, he is piss-blind drunk. In the end, he did grant Kenshin's wish, just not in a way that anyone could have possibly foreseen...


It was a beautiful day, Kaoru decided, as she stretched her tired limbs and opened the shoji. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and... the was the distinct lack of the smell of cooking breakfast.

"Kenshin?" Kaoru hurried into the kitchen, only to find it empty. The stove was untouched. 'How odd,' she thought as she made her way back to the bedrooms. Perhaps Kenshin had slept in for once in his life...

...but as she came up to Kenshin's room, she heard a very faint scratching noise. Like something was trapped inside and trying to claw it's way out. This puzzled Kaoru for a moment, before the sound of something small and horribly depressed came through the thin rice paper.

Unable to work out exactly what was going on, she carefully kneeled down and opened the shoji, only to find herself face to face with the cutest kitten she had ever seen.

"Kawaii!" she cried, and snatched the small ball of fur up and hugged it to her chest. It was far less an intelligible thought than an automatic reaction to something so mind-bogglingly cute. After cuddling the adorable kitten for a few moments, she pulled it back to get a better look at it, and try to determine how it had become trapped in Kenshin's room in the first place.

The kitten had the lightest red fur she had ever seen... it bordered somewhere between pink, white and red, and was unbelievably soft and silky. Its feet, and the lower parts of its legs was covered in a slightly less silky grey fur, and its head was covered with thick, long and shaggy fiery red fur. Its two eyes were huge, shining like violet gemstones.

And on its left cheek was a... cross... shaped... scar.

It suddenly occurred to Kaoru that this cat looked startlingly like else she knew... someone she couldn't otherwise find.

The kitten reached a paw up and placed it on her shoulder, and looked into her eyes expectantly.

"K... Kenshin?"

It mewled.

Kaoru fainted.


When Kaoru awoke, it was to the feeling of something small, warm and furry rubbing against her cheek. She slowly opened her eyes to find the kitten from Kenshin's room rubbing her cheek, trying to wake her. It must have noticed she was conscious again as it pulled back and sat on its hind legs, looking at her.

Kaoru pulled herself into a sitting position, and looked uncertainly at the cat before her.

"K... Kenshin? Is that really you?"

"Meow."

"Wait... how do I know you're not just meowing because I'm talking to you?"

At this the cat looked confused. It made a movement that Kaoru guessed was as close to shrugging as a cat could get.

"Hmm... ok; how about this? One meow for yes, two meows for no. Got that?"

"Meow."

"Are you Kenshin?"

"Meow."

"Maybe I should have thought this through a little more..."

"Meow, meow."

"Wait, does that mean it was a good idea, then?"

"Meow."

This clearly wasn't working. She needed some way to prove the cat was Kenshin. Maybe if she asked it what five times three was, that woul...

The cat suddenly got up off its hind legs, and starting padding down to the kitchen. Confused, Kaoru followed. When she reached the kitchen, she found the cat struggling to pull a block of firewood into the oven. The cat was attempting to start the breakfast fire. It was Kenshin alright.

That mystery solved, Kaoru couldn't help but giggle as the poor creature tried miserably to pull the block of wood across the floor. The Kenshin-kitty looked up at her with a puzzled expression. "Meow?"

"Mou, Kenshin... let me help you with that."

"Meow." Kenshin didn't look like he wanted to give up his piece of firewood. Typical.

"Oh come on... that bit of wood is as big as you are. Let me help you." She put her hand out for the wood, but didn't try to take it from him. Normally, she would whack him on the head for being so silly, but she couldn't bring herself to attack such a cute cat.

Kenshin looked at her hand for a few moments, before putting his paw on her hand, meowing softly, and moving away from the firewood. Kaoru was almost inclined to blush when she thought about what that would have translated to if he had been human.

By the time Kaoru got the fire going, Kenshin was valiantly trying to wield the kitchen knife... and having no success whatsoever. "Keneko, what are you doing?"

"Meow!"

Kenshin looked mildly upset. She wasn't sure if it was because he seemed unable to prepare breakfast, or because of the nickname she'd accidentally given him.

"Mou! Don't give me that!" Kaoru exclaimed, brandishing a carrot at him. "You're only going to hurt yourself trying that. Let me take care of the breakfast."

"Meow..." the kitten mewled unhappily. Obviously, Kenshin wasn't taking his handicap well.

Kaoru sighed. "How about this—if I cook by myself, I'll only ruin it. Yahiko will be here soon to feed," she gave a small giggle at her choice of words, "so why don't you help me... make sure I don't set the kitchen on fire, ne?"

Keneko mulled over this for a few moments before releasing the knife, and nudging it with his paw towards Kaoru. Victorious, Kaoru took up the knife, and began the arduous task of cooking food that was edible.

Surprisingly, Keneko held Kaoru to her word. He mewled when she was leaving something too long to cook, or nudged her when it was time to put something in the miso. He even carefully helped adjust her grip on the knife so the carrots would come out sliced and not puréed. All in all, cooking didn't seem so bad this morning.


Of course, they hadn't given any thought on what to tell Yahiko when he arrived. He'd seen some pretty amazing things in his time with Kenshin, but Kaoru thought telling him that at some point in the night Kenshin had turned into a fuzzy kitten just wasn't going to work. He'd probably think she'd gone nuts.

Kenshin wasn't helping any, either. He refused to drink his saucer of milk, seemingly wanting his normal breakfast. Kaoru wondered off-hand if what he normally had would be good for a cat to eat, but Kenshin wouldn't take no for an answer.

So when Yahiko arrived, it was to the bizarre scene of Kaoru eating breakfast seated next to a very red kitten whose face was stuffed in a bowl of miso. As he stopped in the doorway, Kaoru and the cat looked up at him. The cat's nose was dripping miso.

"Uhh..."

"Good morning, Yahiko. I see you finally decided to join us." Kaoru hoped that if she just pretended like nothing at all was wrong, Yahiko would do likewise.

"Whose cat is that?" Fat chance.

"Ano..." 'Quick, Kaoru—lie!' 'Lie! And tell him what, exactly?' 'Say its Kenshin's cat!' 'And how am I supposed to explain why its eating miso and rice?' 'Oh yeah...'

Kenshin solved her little dilemma by hopping down from the table, padded across to her cushion, and leaping onto her lap. He rubbed his head against her side and purred loudly. No way would Yahiko fall for this...

"Pfft. Since when did you get a cat, busu?"

Satisfied that suspicion had been drawn away from her for the moment, Kenshin returned to his miso for a few moments before getting started on his rice. Kaoru thanked the kami that he hadn't tried using the chopsticks.

"So where'd you get the cat from?"

Kaoru steeled herself for the interrogation. "I found him this morning." 'In Kenshin's room,' she mentally added to herself.

"How come he's eating Kenshin's breakfast... and where is Kenshin, anyway?"

Ok, time for the big guns: "Ha! If I have to tell you something that obvious, then you're clearly not thinking this morning, Yahiko-chan!"

Yahiko spluttered indignantly. "What was that, busu!"

Suitably distracted, breakfast degenerated into the traditional fight between shihondai and student.

And Kenshin tried very hard not to fall into the rice bowl, and mostly succeeded.


Kaoru realized how lucky she was that Yahiko was working at the Akabeko today. That meant she could try to figure out how to turn Kenshin back into himself without worrying about Yahiko finding out what happened.

And so, she found herself sitting on the engawa, staring into the yard. 'There must be some way to undo this,' she thought to herself. 'If only I had even the faintest idea how.'

Kenshin, meanwhile, had taking to trying to do the laundry. He was still trying to figure out how to get the water from the well and into the wash tub without the use of either hands or opposable thumbs. Kaoru decided he was easier to deal with if he was occupied. Besides, the laundry was probably about as non-lethal an activity as you could get for a cat.

The day was slowly wearing on, and she soon fell to watching the antics of the little Kenshin kitty. It amazed her how he wouldn't even allow being turned into a tiny, defenceless kitten to stop him from doing what he wanted. It was that persistence of spirit that had served him so well in the past.

Kaoru hoped that Ayame and Suzume didn't drop by for a visit today... Kenshin was just so adorable, he probably wouldn't survive the attention they would be sure to heap on him.

A loud splash followed by a loud cry from Kenshin snapped her from her thoughts. She whipped her head around, trying to determine what had happened.

The well.

Kenshin had been trying to fill the wash tub.

Oh no.

She raced to the well, and tried to peer down. In the darkness, she couldn't see anything—but she could hear the sound of something splashing in the water. Something in the back of her mind reminded her that cat's don't like water, most likely because they can't swim.

She quickly grabbed the bucket and began lowering it down. She didn't want to drop it down the well since she very well might hit Kenshin on the head. When she felt the bucket hit the surface of the water, she kept dropping it down, hoping that Kenshin would have the presence of mind to climb inside. She left it down for a few moments before beginning to haul it back up.

Peering down to the slowly rising bucket, she felt relief wash over her as a pair of violet eyes shone out from the darkness. Redoubling her efforts, she managed to bring the bucket back up to ground level. Inside was a thoroughly wet, and thoroughly miserable looking cat.

Kaoru couldn't help it. She burst out laughing.

Kenshin did not look impressed.

"Meow," he mewled unhappily.


For once, Kenshin hadn't resisted her help when she had pick up the sopping ball of fur, and starting carefully drying him with a towel. After a few minutes of carefully drying out his fur, he began to purr contentedly in her arms. Kaoru felt herself blush slightly. She wondered if Kenshin would purr for her if she'd done this while he was still himself.

Now dry, they sat on the engawa together. Kaoru's mind slowly going over ways to try and restore her rurouni, and Kenshin curled up in her lap. Neither seemed to give thought to the fact that it might have been somewhat obscene for Kenshin to be curled up in lap if he hadn't been turned into a cat. They both seemed to be enjoying it and obviously decided not to risk thinking about it.

Idly, her hand began running through his soft fur, and before long, Kaoru heard the sound of his soft purring again. Looking down, she found her hand and begun to scratch him gently on the back of the neck, and Kenshin was happily burrowing himself deeper into her lap.

Kaoru smiled. She'd have to try this when he was human again...

A loud shout from the front gate brought them from the their revere.

"Hitokiri Battousai, I have come to challenge you!"

'Oh no, not now,' Kaoru thought as the kitten in her lap tensed.

Carefully picking him up, Kaoru made her way to the front of the house, carefully peering around the corner. A huge man had walked into the dojo yard, a massive sword already unsheathed in his hands. He didn't look especially friendly.

Kaoru decided to get this over with. Quickly running back into the dojo to retrieve a bokken, she stepped out to face the intruder.

"Who are you, and what are you doing in my home?" she demanded.

"So you're the little wench who's been hiding the Battousai. Why don't you call him out so I can kill the bastard?"

"I'll do no such thing! Kenshin isn't here, so you can just go and leave."

"Ha! That's even better. If the coward won't show himself, then I guess I'll just make him come to me..."

With that, the man smiled cruelly, and began to advance on Kaoru. There were no prizes for guessing what he had in mind. It was so unoriginal, that the only thought that ran through Kaoru's mind as the man stalked towards her was 'Mou! Not again.'

He must have noticed the bokken in her hands, or heard rumours of the girl trained in kenjutsu, because before he got inside her range, he charged at her.

Kaoru hadn't been prepared for the sudden charge of her opponent—she was used to Kenshin's fan club underestimating her—and she barely managed to dodge his katana as it bit into her shoulder. It wasn't a bad wound; it stung a little and bled a little, but it was only superficial.

She stepped back, and solidified her stance. She was ready to fight. She wouldn't allow herself to be taken, and she would not allow this beast to harm Kenshin. Not while he had no chance to protect himself, not while...

Apparently, he didn't need her help.

With a fierce growl, a red ball of fluff shot up from the ground and straight into her attacker's face. The man cried out as the vicious kitten clawed at him, before being thrown to the ground.

"What the hell!" the man cried out as he turned to his new opponent. Kenshin had placed himself between the man and Kaoru, and she could see the fur on his back sticking up. But when he growled at the man, he sounded less like a kitten, and more like a lion.

She suddenly realized that the man that threatened and hurt her while Kenshin was standing there. Big mistake.

"Stupid little fuzz-ball—get out of my way, damn it!"

"Rrrrrrrowrrrr..." the kitten mewled menacingly.

"Fine, have it your way." Assured of his bipedal superiority, the man moved to stomp on the kitten.

"Keneko!" Kaoru shouted, terrified that his tiny body would be crushed. She needn't had worried.

With skills honed by years of practice, Kenshin darted to the side, and slashed his clawed paw across the man's ankle in a devastating Battoujutsu, or as well as he could manage with only his claws. The man howled in pain as stumbled backwards.

With his enemy off guard, Kenshin pounced once more in a modified Ryu Tsui Sen, leaping into the air and coming down on the man's face with both front paws out, scratching down his face.

Kenshin may have been small, but sheer ferocity more than made up for it as he lunged again and again at the man. The brute tried desperately to fend off the vicious feline, but it was no use.

As Kenshin stood on the man's shoulders, anchored by his claws, Kaoru got a look in his eyes. They were the colour of molten gold, seething with fury that this worm had dared threaten her to get to him. If Kenshin hadn't been turned into a kitten, the man would likely have been unconscious and badly wounded by now.

Finally, with a great cry of pain as Kenshin's long teeth sank into his shoulder, he batted Kenshin away and ran for the gate. Overcome with the desire to punish the evil brute for his transgressions, Kenshin hurled himself at the man with a blood-curdling roar.

With only a fraction of a second to spare, the terrified intruder made it out the gate, and slammed the door shut behind him. A split second later, Kenshin hit the door on all fours with a loud "Thock!" as his claws bit deeply into the wood.

Still hissing and growling at his escaping prey, Kenshin slowly seemed to realize that he was well and truly stuck to the door. He was still madly trying to pry himself free as Kaoru came up behind him, and gently placed her hands around his small body.

Kenshin's anger evaporated almost instantly, as he turned his face to hers. She could see the golden haze fleeing from his eyes, being replaced with their usual violet. Careful not to hurt him, she pulled his paws free of the door, and cradled him to her.

He turned his face away from her, and mewled softly into her shoulder. Typical rurouni—guilty over what he had done, and ashamed it had come to that.

She didn't want him to be sad, so she gently hugged him and gave him a bright smile. "Daijobou, Keneko. I'm fine."

"Meo..." he mewled guiltily.

Kaoru brightened her smile. "Maa, maa... he'll live, although he'll probably be deathly afraid of cats now."

This seemed to cheer Kenshin up a little as he looked up at her. "Don't worry about it Kenshin... you protected me, just like you always do... just like you promised."

Kenshin's eyes softened, and he turned to her wounded shoulder. Carefully, he began softly licking the wound, the cat equivalent of kissing it better. She dearly hoped Kenshin's show of affection wasn't simply because of his transformation. She adjusted her hold on her little protector, and made her way back to the dojo.

On the way, apparently, satisfied that her shoulder was now "all better", Kenshin squirmed in her grasp. Clambering up higher, she felt a soft wetness on her check as he gave her a small, tentative lick. Kaoru felt herself blushing madly. Turning to give him a questioning look, she must have caught him by surprise.

Caught him by surprise because one second her cheek was there, and before Kenshin could stop, her lips were instead. Another soft lick later, and both looked like they'd been dipped in a pot of red pain, the fur on Kenshin's face somehow looking almost fluorescent.


A quick bandaging and several minutes of uncomfortable silence later found Kaoru and Kenshin once more sitting on the engawa as the day wore on. It was mid-afternoon now, and the small Kitten was seemingly worn out from his battle earlier on. He was curled up beside Kaoru, his head resting against her leg.

After their, uh... "kiss" earlier on, he'd become very shy around her. She'd tried coaxing him back into her lap, but he wouldn't have any of that. He'd eventually caved in and curled up next to her, and Kaoru was currently trying to find that elusive spot on his neck.

She idly realized that Kenshin's scruff in the dirt had marred his beautiful coat of fur... that combined with the dip in the well had matted the fur together, and his soft red and white fur was now a pasty brown.

"You're filthy, Keneko..." she quietly said to the resting kitten.

"Meow." She was increasingly becoming convinced that he didn't like his little nickname... she couldn't work out why...

"How about we give you a bath?"

"Meow!" Kenshin's head suddenly shot up as if his tail had been stomped on.

"Oh come on... it's not that bad. Besides, you really do need a bath."

"Meow..."

"I won't let you drown, Kenshin, I promise."

Kenshin still didn't seem entirely convinced, but didn't resist as she picked him up and carried him to the bathhouse.


Kenshin must have realized exactly what Kaoru was proposing as they got to the bathhouse, because as soon as he go to the ground, he started pacing around the door leading to the inner room, and looking very, very shy and embarrassed.

Kaoru wondered what was wrong. 'What is he...' Then it hit her. She was going to give Kenshin a bath. It was her turn to blush and feel very embarrassed.

Kenshin seemed to notice this, and tried sneaking off back outside. For all his cat-like grace and stealth, Kaoru managed to catch him before he made it, and slammed the door closed.

"Look, you need a bath, ok? And you aren't exactly in a state to be washing yourself."

"Meowww..."

"No buts, Kenshin. Look, you've been wandering around like that all day, and you haven't had a problem with it."

"Meow meowww me-meow-owwww!"

Kenshin seemed to be trying very hard to explain his reservations to Kaoru, and entirely failing. Kaoru just glared at the kitten, until it sighed, and padding into the inner room of the bathhouse.

It wasn't quite so bad once she actually got started. She lathered up the soap, and started gently rubbing it into Kenshin's fur. He felt tense and anxious to start with, but slowly relaxed under the soothing touch of her hands. Soon he was a all soaped up, white and fluffy. To Kaoru, he looked something like a small cloud with eyes, legs and a tail.

Careful to keep the soap from his eyes, she poured water over him until every last trace of soap was gone. Kenshin seemed satisfied with that, but Kaoru wanted to really make his fur shine. Picking up some of her shampoo, she began massaging it into the fur on his head and down his body. Kenshin seemed a bit surprised at first, and looked up at her questioningly.

"Don't worry... I just want your fur to look nice..."

He wasn't escaping anyway, so he just sat back down and enjoyed the sensation. Before long, he was purring again under her hands, leaving Kaoru to wonder if he'd do that for her if...

Cutting herself off, she finished shampooing his fur, and rinsed him off once again before towelling him dry.

"There, that wasn't so bad, now was it?"

"Mew." She wasn't entirely sure how to take that, but knowing Kenshin, he'd probably just thanked her.


Dinner progressed far more smoothly than breakfast did. Yahiko had apparently had dinner at the Akabeko, and so that was one less thing to worry about.

Also, Kenshin seemed happy to simply help and observe Kaoru as she cooked dinner. No more dragging blocks of firewood around.

More surprisingly, the food was actually half-edible—at least, Kenshin seemed to enjoy it. He did fall into his rice bowl at one point, but it only took a minute or two to pick the rice from his face. All in all, it didn't go too badly.

Soon enough, it was time for bed. As Kaoru made her way to her bedroom, wondering where her kitty had gone, she found him outside his own door. He mewled unhappily at her, as he ineffectually clawed at his shoji in a futile attempt to open the door.

"Poor thing," she said, kneeling down beside him. "Kenshin, um... maybe it's not a good idea for you to sleep by yourself tonight..."

Kenshin looked up at her quizzically.

"I mean, we don't know why you turned into a cat, and what if something else happens tonight..." 'What am I doing?' she thought to herself. 'Am I asking Kenshin to sleep in my room!' "I just don't think you should be by yourself when, uh..."

She looked down to find Kenshin gently licking her hand. He looked up at her with his big violet eyes, and rubbed his head against the side of her leg. Smiling, she picked him up and carried him to her room, glad he had spared her the embarrassment of not really knowing what it was she wanted to ask him.

Soon, she was settled in her futon, with Kenshin close by, curled up on a cushion. She felt happier than she had in a long time. She wasn't sure why... but she had a feeling it had to do with Kenshin's closeness, even if he was a cat at the moment.

"Oyasuminasai, Keneko."

"Meow..."

Soon, Kaoru was drifting off to sleep. But Kenshin couldn't sleep. He looked sadly over at Kaoru. This was no better than last night. Back then, he'd wanted to protect her... but in such as way that he could never harm her. Granted, in his current state, he could no more harm her than he could cook, but this seemed worse. He couldn't protect her like this... couldn't look after her.

He wanted things back the way they were.

But another part of him didn't. He'd never been so close to Kaoru before... when he'd woken up that morning, he'd felt strangely uninhibited. It had felt so natural and so right to curl up in her lap as she played with his fur... so soothing to have her gently washing his back. He wanted that closeness so dearly...

He carefully rose from his cushion and padded over to her futon. Placing his front paws on the edge, he peered at her face. She was so beautiful.

Her blue eyes fluttered half way open, and looked out at him. How he wanted to reach out to her, smooth her hair back and tell her to go back to sleep. But instead, she reached out, and carefully pulled him under the covers, tucking him in beside her.

Not caring about proprietary, he curled himself against her, and purred instinctively in her embrace. Even if he was cursed forever as a cat, if he could stay with her like this, he wouldn't mind.

Still, he wished he could go back to being himself so that he could protect her... look after her...


Hours after they had both drifted off into a contented sleep, the sound of two arguing people floating into the room. Due to the particular nature of these people, neither Kaoru nor Kenshin heard a word of their argument.

"...did WHAT to him?"

"He wished to be harmless... so I made him harmless!"

"By turning him into a kitten! What in the name of kami were you thinking?"

Two kamis appeared in the room. One a short, yet imposing woman who was raving at the dejected looking male kami beside her.

"Koishii..."

"Don't think you can 'koishii' me, a-na-ta. You know better than to drink and grant wishes! We never could find that poor soul in Osaka you turned into a herring..."

"He said he liked fish!"

"Eating them, you dimwit! Eating them, not being one of them!"

"Yes, dear."

"Now, turn that poor man back into a human before I turn you into a camel!"

With the threat of marital punishment hanging in the air, the kami turned to Kenshin, spoke several words that sounded suspiciously like the phrase "Edit, Undo; File, Save" and vanished in a puff of plot contrivance.


The next morning, Kaoru woke to the glorious feel of something warm and fuzzy buried just beneath her face. Through the morning grogginess, she registered a mass of the colour red.

Aah, her Keneko. She reached her hand out to stroke his fur, only to realize that she seemed to be restrained by something.

Something long, and strong.

With what felt very much like hands curled around her back.

And it didn't look so much like fur, as it did like hair...

"Kenshin!"

"Oro..." Kenshin mumbled blearily as he pulled his head up from its warm, comfortable nook. "What is it, Kaoru?"

"You're you again!"

"Se..." he looked down at himself, seeing his fur-less chest, and very human arms wrapped around Kaoru. He didn't know how it happened, but he'd had his wish granted twice in a row. Not knowing what to really say, he just pulled Kaoru closer and hugged her.

Kaoru snuggled into his embrace, overjoyed that he was back to himself. It had been fun to see Kenshin as a kitty, but she much preferred her strong rurouni.

"I'm glad to have you back, Keneko..."

To this, Kenshin mumbled something incomprehensible.

Kaoru smiled against him. "What, don't you like your nickname, Keneko?"

"Sessha is not a cat."

"Not anymore..." she answered a little unhappily. Now she wouldn't be able to tease him like...

Remembering something from yesterday, she surreptitiously snaked her hand around his back and up to his neck. Making an educated guess, she reached out a nail and lightly scratched the back of his neck.

Kenshin's reaction was immediate—he suddenly hugged her tighter, and his head rolled back. So he was sensitive there...

"K...Kaoru... what are you..."

She giggled. "I'm just testing a theory I have. I wonder if you're ticklish behind your ears..."

Desperate to keep her from discovering his secret, he dodged his head out of the way of her hands, trying to keep her from tickling him.

As Kaoru laughed and giggled at the feebly struggling man beside her, a small, logical part of her brain was trying very hard to tell her something terribly important. She was having far too much fun to listen to it right now, but it persisted.

Cats don't wear yukata.

'Well of course they don't—why would they? They have fur!'

Cats don't wear yukata.

'I still don't... see...'

And yukata don't magically materialise when cats get turned back into people, either...

'Oh dear.'

She suddenly realised what she'd seen earlier... Kenshin's fur-less bare chest. His bare chest that hadn't been, in any way, obstructed by a modest yukata since he hadn't been wearing one the night before.

She pulled back slightly from him, and stared into his face.

"Ka... Kaoru... dono? What is wrong?"

"Cats don't wear yukata."

He seemed to catch on a mite faster than Kaoru had. He went beet red, and started glancing down to confirm his suspicions before deciding against it and fixing his face to Kaoru's.

'Sessha is so dead...'

Kaoru didn't know just how angry she should be. She knew he needed a beating... it was so embarrassing... he was... he was... he was...

She leaned over and quickly licked his lips before hiding her face between the covers and his chest.

Kenshin had to blink a few times before he dared speak. "Kaoru..." he began, forgetting her honorific entirely once again—he hadn't used it in the past day, anyway. "Why did you just, um... lick sessha's lips."

"Payback," came the muffled response.

"Nani?"

"Payback," she reiterated, peeking her head out to look at his face. "Payback for yesterday when you did it. It's your fault," she added, since that clearly absolved her of any wrong-doing.

"Payback?" Kenshin looked confused for a moment, before he leaned down and gently pulled the covers down to her neck. Using his other hand to gently pull her from her hiding place, he placed a soft kiss on her lips.

"Kenshin?"

"Payback for just then," he smiled innocently.

Kaoru mock-growled. "I'll get you for that..."

"Sessha is ready to defend himself, that he is."

A very small, quiet part of their minds tried to remind them of certain facts. Problem was, they were not inclined to deal with such a hairy (certainly not a furry) issue at the moment. Besides, they were too happy to care.

And if you're wondering what happens next, I'll tell you: the fic ends.


Author's Rambling

Alright, I have no excuse for this one. Stone me if you will, but I had so much fun writing this one.

By far my favourite part is Kenshin's "fight"... the mental picture of this tiny red kitten viciously attacking a huge Gohei-sized man, and then getting himself stuck to the dojo gate.

Oh well, nothing else to really say about this one... and no; no sequels!

Ja, ne

–賜狼審神

24th September, 2005

Update (19th April, 2006):

Negotiatrix sent me this very cute picture of Keneko curled up in Kaoru's lap. Awww. Go visit her DeviantArt account at negotiatrix (dot) deviantart (dot) com. Oh for the day that FanFiction (dot) net allows us to post links...