A/N: Okay, so here we go with story number two! This one will more than likely be longer than the last one that I wrote. Yes, I did get the title and the idea from a Linkin Park song, but this is not a song fic. R&R please, let me know what you think! Enjoy!

Disclaimer: Nope. I don't own any of the characters, although the idea is mine. But christmas is coming soon, so if anyone is feeling particularly generous, I know the perfect present ...

Chapter 1

"Kaoru, can I borrow your green shirt?" Megumi called down the hall

"If you can find it!" She hollered back

"I just washed it yesterday," The older woman answered

"No wonder I couldn't find it," Kaoru muttered to herself, "Yahiko, are you coming with us?"

"Where are you going?" He asked from his room

"We're gonna go to lunch and then to the mall," She answered

"Yeah, I'll go. I need new shoes anyway."

Kaoru glanced at herself in the mirror. Her sleek black hair was pulled back into a ponytail, several strands left to hang loosely on either side of her face. She wore some mascara and a hint of lip gloss, her only make up. Her beautiful blue eyes were offset by a pale baby blue tank top and denim jeans, and even she had to admit that she looked damn good. She wasn't big on make up, and Megumi always told her how she didn't need to wear any anyway. Since she had spent most of her life being looked after by her surrogate sister, she tended to listen to what the other woman said. They had lived here in this house for several years now, Yahiko joining them only two years ago.

"Is everybody ready?" Megumi asked

Kaoru left her room then, nearly running into Yahiko as she did so. His haphazard hair was going in every direction, as usual, and he was wearing a casual pair of baggy jeans and t - shirt. He really was a cute kid.

They met Megumi in front of the door, and she looked as stunning as usual. Kaoru's green shirt accentuated her dark eyes and black hair, and that shirt paired with a flowing white skirt made her look like a Greek goddess. The woman never went anywhere unless she was sure she looked amazing, and it paid off. Or at least her boyfriend, Sano, always thought so.

Megumi ushered them out the door, making sure to lock it behind her. It was already noon, and she wanted to get a jump on the day. Sano was going to meet them at the mall after lunch, as he had said that he had some things to attend to before then. He was a busy man; he made good money working for a jeweler not far from where they lived. The owner there loved him, so he was sure to give Sano as many hours a week as he could, which sometimes meant that he and Megumi didn't always see much of each other.

They piled into Megumi's jade green Honda and pulled out of the driveway, trying to decide somewhere to go for lunch. They finally decided on the Akabeko, one of their favorites. Yahiko came up with the idea, which brought on much teasing from the girls. A young girl by the name of Tsubame worked there, and they strongly believed that the two youngsters had a crush on one another. Neither would admit to it, though, so all they could do was tease.

They arrived at the restaurant and were shown to a table, at which time they all set about deciding what to order. The table was silent for a few minutes, their main concentration bent upon what sounded better. So engrossed were they that no one noticed when another couple walked into the restaurant and made their way over to them.

"Hey guys," A voice greeted

They all looked up to see Kenshin and Tomoe standing before them, their hands intertwined. The redhead was smiling down at them, his hair pulled up into a high ponytail. Tomoe, who was quiet anyway, merely nodded her head at all of them in greeting.

"Mind if we sit with you?" Kenshin asked

"Of course not," Megumi answered, motioning for them to sit with them

Within mere seconds Kenshin and Kaoru were engaged in a conversation about something or other. Megumi merely grinned at that; those two were the best of friends, and there was nothing they couldn't - or didn't- talk about. Tomoe, as always, remained fairly quiet. She was something of a quiet soul, rather meek in Megumi's opinion. She really didn't understand why someone with a fiery soul such as Kenshin's was with someone so ... sedate, but she supposed that was none of her business. It just proved that opposites really do attract.

They ordered and preoccupied themselves with conversation while they waited. As it turned out Kenshin and Kaoru were discussing whether or not they could get Yahiko and Tsubame to go on a blind date, which, when they told the others what they were talking about made Yahiko blush a deep scarlet.

They ate their food and then invited the other two to go to the mall with them, to which they agreed. They decided it would be better to take two cars, since they had no way of knowing if someone would have to leave early. They split up then, and as they were walking back toward their car Megumi chuckled to herself and shook her head.

"What's so funny?" Kaoru asked

"I was just thinking about how different those two are," She answered, "I would never imagine them to be together."

Kaoru merely shrugged.

"Opposites attract, I guess."

It was a short drive to the mall, and a mere ten minutes later they found themselves unloading from the car again, Kenshin and Tomoe waiting for them in front of the doors. Once they were inside Yahiko disappeared to find a shoe store, and the four of them made their way toward Megumi's favorite clothes store, a place by the name of The Sharper Image. Megumi disappeared the second they were in the door, dragging Kaoru with her. Within the first ten minutes she had already handed the younger girl four outfits to try on, despite Kaoru's best efforts to disappear. Megumi loved to shop for the other girl, although they rarely agreed on an outfit.

Megumi was pushing her toward the dressing rooms before she could even protest. Kaoru could see Kenshin trying to hide his laughter and stuck her tongue out at him, to which he responded in kind.

She found herself in a dressing room, holding several outfits. She gave a resigned sigh and hung them up on the provided hook, taking the first outfit off its hanger first. She took a cursory glance at it and decided that it really wasn't that bad. It was a summer dress, white with pale blue flowers that fell just below her knees. She undressed and pulled it over her head, then turned to survey herself in the mirror. It was a soft fabric, and she couldn't help but notice how it accentuated her curves. The straps were about an inch thick and showed her shoulders off beautifully. She had to admit that she liked it.

"Get your butt out here, young lady," Megumi demanded

How did she always know when she was dressed and ready?

Holding her breath, Kaoru opened the door and stepped out to stand before her friends. Instantly Megumi began to smile, and she gave the girl a wink and a thumbs up. Behind her, Kenshin was also smiling, and a bashful Tomoe was blushing.

"You look beautiful, Kaoru," Megumi grinned, "I love it. We're buying it."

Kaoru let out her breath to argue, but stopped herself before she even began. There was no arguing with her when it came to clothes - being a doctor, she had infinite patience and determination. Besides, she liked the dress as well.

Around half an hour later they were leaving with their purchases when they ran into Yahiko, who had somehow managed to run into Sano. He greeted them all, but refused to tell them what it was he had to do when they questioned him. They made their way through the mall again, several conversations going on at once. Kaoru was involved in a conversation with Sano when, not looking where she was going, she ran smack into something and fell backward.

She found herself on the floor of the mall, amidst several apologies from whoever she had run into. She apologized as well, and a hand was extended toward her. She was about to take it when she glanced up at the owner of the hand and found herself paralyzed to her spot. She was looking into the most amazing pair of ice blue eyes she had ever seen. The man belonging to the hand was tall, and very regal looking. His black hair fell lazily into his eyes, lending him a look of mysterious aloofness.

"I'm sorry, miss," He apologized, "Let me help you to your feet. Are you hurt?"

She could only shake her head no and take his outstretched hand. His grip was strong and he pulled her to feet easily, their eyes locking.

"I'm sorry, miss ... ?"

"Kaoru," She answered softly, "My name is Kaoru."

"Forgive me, Miss Kaoru. I should pay better attention to where I am going. My name is Aoshi. Are you sure you aren't hurt?"

"Just a little surprised is all," She answered

He gave her a smile and she thought for a moment that she had ceased to breathe. He was tall, at least a full foot taller than she, and very dashing.

"Well, Miss Kaoru, I should be going. I promise to be more careful, and should we meet again I hope not under the same circumstances."

He gave her a low bow and then disappeared down the hall, leaving a still surprised Kaoru staring at the place he had stood. Her friends were all staring at her with what seemed to be looks of amusement, save Kenshin, who looked pensive.

"Kenshin, you okay?" Sano asked

"Yeah, I'm fine. It's just ... I went to school with Shinomori and I think that is the most I ever heard him say."

Sano merely shrugged and looked back to Kaoru, who just seemed to be regaining her senses.

"You alright, Missy?" He said, glancing at her

Kaoru gave him a silent nod, her mind still on the handsome stranger.