Fancy's Child

A Rurouni Kenshin Fan-fiction

By The Dragon's Daughter

Chapter One


And sing to those that hold the vital shears;
And turn the adamantine spindle round,
On which the fate of gods and men is wound
- John Milton 'Arcades'

"…or fairy elves whose midnight revels by a forest side or fountain, some belated peasant sees…"

Kaoru pivoted. Her silvery blade flashed blue in the burgeoning light. The damp grass squealed underneath the soles of her sneakers. He imaginary enemy parried and she drew back for counterattack. A perfect block.

"...or dreams he sees, while overhead the Moon sits arbitress, and nearer to the Earth wheels her pale course…"

Early morning mist curled around the edges of her lawn. The forest beyond still lay cloaked in the shadows of night. At the very edges of her perception she could feel the lesser fair folk gathering to watch, gnomes mostly along with a few wood sprites. She could feel their attention prickling at her skin. They were curious, but even this strange interlude would last no longer than an afternoon in their capricious memories. The lesser fae were like that. They lived for the moment and nothing else existed. Sometimes Kaoru envied them that.

"They, on their mirth and dance intent, with jocund music charm his ear; At once with joy and fear his heart rebounds."

A sudden absence in the woods alerted Kaoru to the presence of another just as the back door creaked open. Her foot slipped in the grass and Milton fled her mind. The sword in her hand quivered a second before vanishing like the mist around her. She had the sneaking suspicion that it had been laughing at her.

"Kaoru? Are you back here?"

Kaoru stifled the urge to swear and turned to wave at her live-in boyfriend. "Good morning!"

Kenshin stood on the back porch in nothing but a rumpled pair of flannel pajama bottoms. They were a size too big. As usual he'd forgotten to tie the drawstring and the pants dangled invitingly from his narrow hips. Did he buy them that way on purpose? Kaoru might never know.

He opened his arms to her in invitation and Kaoru stepped into his embrace. This was one of the parts she loved most about living with a man. There was always a cuddle within walking distance. She could smell his aftershave and cologne wafting off his skin and ran a finger across his smooth cheek. "Mmm, nice. Make me a happy woman and never grow a beard, all right?"

"I think I can manage that for you." He tightened his embrace and buried his nose in her hair. She hid a smile in his throat as he inhaled and sighed with pleasure. "Did you change your shampoo? It smells good."

He must have smelled the magic on her. The sword tended to leave behind a signature so strong that even a complete null would notice it in some fashion. "No, but I'm trying a new hair-goo. Maybe that's it?" There was a technical term for the little bottle of viscous liquid that the shop-girl had recommended to her, but Kaoru couldn't think of it. A lot of the minor details of human life still eluded her, but Kenshin tended to not notice. It was rather odd that he'd registered it through scent, but you could never tell with a human…

"Mmm, well keep using it. I like it." A wicked sparkle crept into his warm violet gaze. Kaoru pretended not to notice the hand creeping inside her shift. His hand was warm and she was a little chilled from her workout. "I came out to tell you that breakfast is ready. What were you doing?"

"Oh, just some exercises. You know, yoga and stuff like that. I have this book…" She grinned as Kenshin's eyes glazed over. "Well, there exercises are supposed to make you more flexible. Maybe you should practice with me!"

Kenshin's gaze turned speculative. "Flexible, eh? Come on let's eat. The doctor said you're still under target weight…" He dodged Kaoru's fist with nimble grace and came back grinning.

"That was not the doctor! It was the electronic scale at Wal-Mart! I am at the perfect weight for my height!"

"Oh, was it? I can't remember." Kenshin slipped an arm around her waist. Kaoru let him lead her inside, although the second they got in the door she found the wall up against her back and Kenshin's thigh between her own. "Mmmm, how do I resist you?" His mouth was warm and persuasive. Kaoru indulged in a few seconds of blissful transcendence before nudging him off.

Kenshin pouted and the sight was enough to make her knees go watery. No man should be able to do that with his eyes and his lips… he let the moment pass. Instead he let her pass to the table, which was already set. He sat across from Kaoru and reached for the orange juice. "So, what were you practicing with? I could have sworn I saw something in your hands. It glowed." He asked.

"I didn't have anything." She'd gotten very good at little white lies over the course of her lifetime. Kaoru was grateful that here and now in this place that she had no need for more than minor deceptions. 'The Court of the Fair Ones eats, breathes, and drinks falsehood and worships at the altar of Dishonesty. I'm well away from that.' Kaoru smiled as Kenshin's eyes narrowed and ignored the suspicion written on his face. It wasn't her he doubted. He doubted himself even if he wasn't aware of it. The trick was to be natural as if she wasn't concerned whether he chose to believe her over the evidence of his own eyes.

At heart Kenshin was a trusting soul. She could almost see the suspicion drain out of his mind. "I suppose so." He agreed. He turned his attention to the contents of her plate and cocked a brow at her as if to ask 'why aren't you eating more?'

"So what is on the agenda for today?" Kaoru took another bite of cereal as she waited. There had been a minor war when they first moved in together. Kaoru had only been in the human world for a short while, although Kenshin didn't know that. However she had a warrior's love for simple, easily prepared food. Cold cereal and milk with fruit was her customary morning meal. Kenshin on the other hand wanted to cook in the mornings. After a few days of pancakes and waffles Kaoru had struck an agreement. He could go out on the weekends, but during the week they would just have granola and yogurt.

Kenshin looked up from his meal. A drop of milk trembled at the corner of his mouth. Kaoru eyed it mournfully as he caught it with a quick brush of the tip of his tongue. "Well, I was going to stop by the grocery after breakfast…" He frowned at the sudden hope on Kaoru face. "No, you may not come."

"... but Kenshin…' Kaoru trailed off as he cocked a brow.

"I remember what happened the last time I let you into a grocery store." He snorted. "If there is anything you want then I'll get it –within reason. No frozen food, no canned meals, no shelf-stable entrees, and absolutely NO ramen."

"Oh, now that's not fair! I don't know what you have against pre-packaged food, but some of us appreciate the convenience." Kaoru tried to kick up under the table, but the annoying man had his legs tucked up on the seat. He smiled his infuriating 'You-can't-Win' smile and took a sip of his coffee.

"If you're good while I'm gone then I'll make you a nice bowl of fresh noodles with some nice marinated tofu and fresh vegetables for supper." Kenshin promised as she glowered into her cereal.

"It's not the same!" Kaoru snapped.

Kenshin smiled as he stood and took his bowl to the sink. "Yes, it's good for you. That is the difference. I want you to live a long healthy life, Kaoru. You aren't going to do that on junk food. Now, have you thought of anything you would like while I'm out? Anything you need?" He took the list off the refrigerator door and held a pencil at the ready. This was her chance to claim any feminine products or personal needs.

"Ice cream. You can't deny me that. It's got milk in it and it's proven soul food!" Kaoru was relieved as he jotted it down. Evens to odds said he'd come home with frozen yogurt, but it was something. "Oh, corn chips and the usual… um, are you getting white bread or wheat?"

'What do you think?' said the expressive eyebrow. He was right. That was a foolish question. He'd come home with a three-dollar loaf of whole grain wheat bread and she'd have to be happy with it.

"Is that it?" He asked one more time.

"That's all I can think of… that you'll actually buy." She spotted the look on his face and cut him off. "No, I don't need any sanitary products or facial wash OR shampoo and I have PLENTY of perfume. Really, Kenshin, sometimes I think you don't let me shop because I can make it home within two hours."

"Mmm… and yet I only have to shop once or twice a month whereas you had to go out just about every day." Kenshin set down the shopping list and came over to drop a kiss on her mouth. "That's fine when you live in the city, but you my little love live twelve miles from nowhere. I've got no problem living out here with you, but it's half a tank of gas just to get to town, much less driving around and coming home. So give me a kiss to think on while I'm out and go work on your book. I'll be back around three."

"What need a man forestall his date of grief, and run to meet what he would most avoid?" Kaoru murmured as she drew him down. Soft red hair tangled in her fingers. He responded to her chaste kiss with a growl. Kenshin leaned her back in her chair and slammed his mouth back down on hers. His tongue slid against hers exploring and claiming every inch it touched.

All too soon that kiss ended and Kenshin drew back. His breathing was ragged and uneven. Kaoru suppressed a smug little smile. She liked having that effect on him. "Areopagitica?" He guessed and groaned when she shook her head.

"Comus." She corrected him. "Close, though. You still don't win the award."

"Damn." He grinned. "Oh well, in that case…"

Kaoru gasped as he scooped her up and made for the stairs. "Kenshin! I thought you were going shopping? Put me down!"

"You know how I like it when you quote esoteric literature at me. Shopping can wait an hour or two…" Kenshin mounted the stairs two at a time. She envied him his ability to do that, but at the moment she was distracted.

"An hour…?" Kaoru gulped. "… but Kenshin, we just last night…"

"Mmm, that was last night." He nuzzled her throat. They reached the upper landing and he pushed their bedroom door open with a hip. "Have pity on me, Love. I'm going to brave the world of holiday shopping! It's almost Christmas. The traffic is going to be murder, won't be back for hours… can't last that long without you."

"Danu's pubic…" She caught herself before the obscenity got past her teeth. "God, Kenshin, you went twenty-eight years without me. Tell me you can go a day or so without spontaneously combusting?"

Kenshin was far too occupied with unbuttoning her blouse to pay attention to her abbreviated swearing. "Yes, I know. Frightful time. I have no clue how I lived without you, but that's no reason I should deny myself now." The pale yellow fabric parted to reveal her breasts in their pale blue bra to his hungry gaze. "Just because I was starving then doesn't mean I should ignore a feast right before my eyes." His voice was hoarse. "I think I should take my fill while I can… never know when the bounty will be gone." That last was almost too low for her to make out.

A chill settled in the pit of Kaoru's stomach. She reached up and pulled Kenshin down over her. His mouth settled over hers and it felt like home. The bed creaked as she pushed him onto his back and straddled his waist. "You're right." She purred. "You never know…"

'I could lose him tomorrow and never know it.' Human lives were so brief. They burned so bright that sometimes Kaoru wondered if they burned themselves out. '…but I am not the same. My life… one day I will have to leave or else risk watching him grow old and die before my very eyes while I'm still young.' Kenshin's skin tasted faintly of salt at his throat. 'I wasn't the only one sneaking in some early morning warm-ups.' Kaoru traced a meandering line of butterfly kisses down his throat, over his collarbone, and down to his chest.

Kenshin gasped as her teeth grazed his nipple. "No teasing!" He growled as Kaoru murmured something noncommittal. "Damn it, Kaoru… ohgod…" He broke off as Kaoru switch her attention from his chest to his stomach. Kenshin tried to lever himself up, but she got there first. His body seized under her mouth. A strangled groan worked free of his throat as she delved her tongue into his navel.

"So sensitive." She purred. Kenshin said something incomprehensible. He was probably agreeing with her. She slipped her fingers underneath the waistband of his pants and the world turned upside down. Kenshin growled and flipped her on her back.

He never had been one to let her have the upper hand for long without turning the tables.

Karou's eyes flew open as his hand slipped into her pants and coherent thought fled her mind for good.

… when Kenshin turned the tables he did it with interest.

She looked so beautiful when she was asleep.

Kenshin sat on the bed and watched his lover sleep. Kaoru's long dark hair spread over the pillow making his fingers itch to run through that heavy silk. Her mouth was dark and rosy, swollen from his kisses. The wine colored sheets contrasted against her pale skin and brought out the pale rose in her cheeks.

'If it didn't mean that I'd have to wake her up I might just stay here for the afternoon.' Kenshin traced the outline of her heart shaped face.

So this was love. Strange, from everything he'd heard about it he'd thought it would be more terrifying. Kaoru's nude body made interesting shapes beneath the sheets tangled around her. With regret he eased his weight off the bed and retrieved the comforter from off the ground and spread it over her slumbering form. The thick quilt hid her from his sight, but their activities left burning impressions in his memory. It would have to be enough to last him while he had to be out.

"Sweet dreams, darling." He leaned over the bed to brush a gentle kiss over Kaoru's mouth. She murmured in her sleep and burrowed underneath the blankets with a small smile that made his heart clench.

'Maybe I can wait a little while longer…' As if on cue the flesh between his shoulder blades began to crawl. Kenshin released a slow shuddering breath. No, he couldn't wait any longer. He'd already delayed far too long. 'I should have gone yesterday, but Kaoru was just so…' He shivered as he remembered the sight of her slow dancing in the living room when she'd thought she was alone. That had been more than he could resist and dancing with Kaoru only had one result…

Kenshin dressed and retrieved his keys from the kitchen counter. After a quick check to make sure he had his wallet he went to the garage and started up his truck.

The truck was new. He'd bought it shortly after meeting Kaoru. As much as he'd loved his old BMW it just didn't make the trip to and from town so well. The truck was far sturdier and had the added benefit of allowing him to haul things.

There was only a fair crust of snow on the lawn as he pulled out. Kenshin wasn't afraid of ice on the roads near his home. A faint slightly fanged grin tugged at his mouth. He'd made sure no ice or snow dared stay on the dark asphalt for more than a few seconds. If anyone thought to ask he said he was a fervent Salter. The truth was somewhat more interesting.

As soon as he was out of sight of the house Kenshin pulled the truck over and killed the engine. It really was too far to drive into town. Fortunately, he knew how to cheat.

Kenshin leaned back in his seat and let his will infuse every fiber of the truck around him. He knew where he was going, barely needed to visualize anymore. The route from there his parking space in Aoshi's garage was worn into the Aether and the truck almost transported itself.

The substance of reality crinkled under his touch like tissue paper and the transit was marked only by a change of scenery and a brief falling sensation. The truck settled on the concrete floor and Kenshin unfastened his seat belt.

Aoshi was sitting in a plastic lawn chair by the kitchen door and looked up from his newspaper as Kenshin locked up the track and started to unzip his jacket. "You put it off this week. Were you busy?" He looked away as Kenshin's shirt fluttered to the ground.

"No, but Kaoru can be very distracting." Kenshin leaned his head back and just let go. There was pain at first, but it was good pain. It was like finally breaking the crick in his neck. Muscles stretched, snapped, and reshaped itself as a pair of wet bloody black wings slipped free from his back. Blood splattered on the concrete floor, but a Word of command banished them. "Oooohhh…" He sighed in relief. "That's better."

When fully extended, each of Kenshin's wings was easily as big as he was. Kenshin arched his back and stretched his wings out as far as he could in the admittedly spacious garage. Aoshi was kind enough to wait until he was done.

"You'd save yourself a great deal of trouble if you just told her." The Ice Demon observed as Kenshin furled his wings and worked a few subtle cleansing spells to scrub away the congealing blood that matted his feathers together.

"If she knows then I will lose her." Kenshin growled. "I refuse to jeopardize the relationship for something so minor as my own physical comfort. Until I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that she can love me as I am then she won't find out."

Aoshi was too good to let his emotions register on his usual implacable expression, but Kenshin thought he caught a flash of consternation in the depths of his friend's steel blue eyes. "It is your choice. Would you like to come inside? Misao made lunch."

"Thank you, but I ate a late breakfast with Kaoru." It was a lie, but Kaoru never remembered to eat until he got home. Even when she did she never did produce anything edible. The only thing in the kitchen that could be eaten cold was a half-empty package of cinnamon rice cakes. Somehow he thought that wouldn't last her long.

"Is that you, Himura?" Kenshin broke out into a smile as a tiny woman with long iridescent black hair bounced into the garage from the kitchen door. She threw herself at him and he caught her in both hands. Aoshi would permit him to pick her up and spin her, but embraces were forbidden. Kenshin understood perfectly. He still had problems letting even his closest friend shake hands with Kaoru. Demons tended to be somewhat possessive.

"Hello, Misao." He settled her back on her feet and eyed the bright pink frilly apron she wore. "Where did you get that? Better yet, can it be returned?"

"Silly!" She smacked him on the arm. "It's my favorite one! Did you bring Kaoru with you? Oh…" She looked behind him and took in the sight of his great black wings looming behind and above him. In the dim light his eyes glowed faintly and when he smiled she could see fangs. "It's one of those visits, then? Well you're going to have to bring her by eventually! I want to see the woman who brought Battousai to heel."

"Misao." Aoshi chided, but Kenshin waved it off.

"Kaoru stayed home. We don't shop together. She always sneaks junk into the basket." Kenshin suppressed the urge to grimace. Kaoru's eating habits were unfortunate. She'd fill up on starches and sugar then later on she'd wonder why she got dizzy and suffered headaches. She was too athletic to be pulling those stunts with her body. Humans just weren't meant to take that kind of abuse indefinitely. It was bad enough hat she didn't like to eat red meat. Even fish was pushing it. Getting protein into that woman was an uphill battle every step of the way.

"I've got beef stew on the stove if you'd like some?" Misao eyed Kenshin's lean stomach. "Not to insult your lady friend, but you're a chaos demon. You need more than just the protein in meat. There's nothing wrong with being a vegetarian, but…"

"No, it's all right. Kaoru doesn't mind if I eat meat as long as she doesn't have to watch." Kaoru didn't react so well to the taste, sight, or even smell of raw meat. She'd turn green if he even mentioned a desire for steak. She tried of course. There had been that spectacular failure of a barbeque attempt that had her in the bathroom throwing up for the rest of the evening. "I've read up on it. Some humans just can't tolerate the stuff, but she doesn't see any need for me to abstain."

"It's probably psychogenic." Misao shrugged. "Oh well, it's probably best that she didn't come. That way you can get your fix. Are you staying for dinner as well?" Misao's face fell as Kenshin shook his head.

"I've got the groceries to get home. Besides, I'd rather not leave Kaoru to her own devices for a while." He pursed his lips and thought back to what he'd seen that morning. No mistake, she'd had something glowing in her hands and it had glowed bright enough to leave trails in the early morning light. However when he announced his presence the glowing had stopped and her hands were empty. "Call me crazy, but I've had the feeling that the house is being watched. Nothing ever disturbs the wards, but…"

Aoshi let Kenshin pass into the kitchen ahead of him. The doors were built at an appropriate height and width to allow for wings so Kenshin didn't have to duck in order to enter. That was one of the benefits of visiting Aoshi. The ice demon didn't need to release his secondary attributes as often as Kenshin did. Control was more in his nature, but the house was still arranged so that one might move about in whatever form was most comfortable and everything low enough for Misao to reach without having to resort to levitation.

"Perhaps there are creatures in the forest around Kaoru's home?" Aoshi suggested. Kenshin took a seat at the kitchen table while Aoshi spooned up a bowl of Misao's sukiyaki. Thick fragrant sauce coated the thinly sliced beef and mushrooms. This time she'd added the cabbage, but left out the tofu. Kenshin didn't mind that. That was the one thing he'd never miss about Japan: the unceasing parade of tofu. Bleargh.

"It's possible. 'There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio…' Still, I can't help but be nervous. Kaoru's so fragile and I can't take the risk that something might…" He trailed off and stared into his soup. "She doesn't even know how fragile she is. I could shatter her with a brush of my wings and she'd never know what hit her." Kenshin watched Misao as she bustled around the living room, safely out of earshot. "How do you stand it? This constant knowledge that anything at all might take her from you…?"

"It helps that she's not human." Aoshi's pale blue eyes followed his mate. "Not that being a minor imp really helps matters, but at least I don't need to fear time taking her from me. Misao is wise enough to keep out of serious trouble and strong enough to deal with the minor sort. Still, it is never easy."

Kenshin bristled at Aoshi's casual reference to Kaoru's mortality, but he forced himself to calm down. There was a way around everything and Aoshi knew it. 'I just have to find a way.' Kenshin dug into his stew with appetite. He'd been sneaking in some hunting while Kaoru slept, but raw squirrel didn't compare to tender beef tenderloin in tangy soy sauce.

Yes, there was always a way around everything and Kenshin had vowed not to rest until he found a way around Kaoru's lifespan.

'She's mine.' Kenshin's fangs lengthened in proportion to his agitation. 'She's mine forever and nothing, not even time will take her from me without going over my cold dead body.'

It was close to noon when Kaoru woke up once more.

Kenshin's scent wafted up from the sheets to tease her nose, but when she checked she couldn't detect his aura anywhere on the grounds. He must have gone shopping while she was asleep. She indulged in a moue of disappointment. "He could have woken me up…" She muttered. "Now I've slept half the day away."

Damn man.

Her clothes was scattered through the house between the kitchen and the bedroom. She wasn't in any mood to go naked looking for them, but it seemed wasteful to put on a fresh set when she'd only worn the previous one for an hour at most. 'Well, no one is home and Kenshin shouldn't be back for hours yet…'

That was plenty of time to get her clothes back together and sneak in some more intense practice. She'd barely made it through the first book of 'Paradise Lost' before she lost control of her weapon. Half the trouble of wielding Lucien was maintaining the level of concentration required to keep him corporeal. Kaoru personal goal was to keep him manifest as long as it took recite 'Paradise Lost' and complete an entire Sword Dance at the same time. If she could do that then she would be able to face anything.

A shower could wait until after she'd finished her work out. There was no point in getting clean and then getting dirty all over again. After taking a stab at making the bed, Kaoru decided that it would take longer than she wanted to take to unsnarl the sheets (which needed to be changed in any event) so she settled for tossing the comforter over the bed and left for downstairs.

Her panties were waiting for her on the top landing and she paused to wiggle back into them. Her shirt was on the stairs halfway up and she tossed it on without bothering to button it up. She still had a bra lurking around here somewhere…

The rest of her clothing lay scattered through the kitchen and living room. Kaoru's bra was dangling off the garage doorknob. Her blue jeans were closer so Kaoru jumped into them first and went for her bra with the intent to put it on and button up her shirt so she could tuck it in before she zipped up her pants.

It was a logical plan, except when she reached the garage door swung open and away from her questing hand. Kaoru blinked and looked up into Kenshin's equally startled gaze. He stood before her with several white plastic bags dangling from one hand forgotten as his violet gaze –slowly turning saffron- raked her body taking in her state of dishabille.

Well, this was awkward…

"Um, welcome home?"

Kenshin's eyes went from saffron to honey and straight into molten amber. Kaoru stifled the urge to swear as a familiar smirk tugged at his expressive mouth and that damn eyebrow rose in a comment all its own. "I feel very welcomed, Darling." Very slowly he lowered his burden to the ground and prowled forward. "Let me express my gratitude."

… so much for practice.

"It's your own fault that the frozen yogurt melted."

Kaoru stopped putting groceries away just long enough to stick her tongue out at Kenshin, who was busy trying to find where his boxers had gotten to. Kaoru could see them under the kitchen table, but if he was going to act smug then he could just wander around bare-assed.

… although, if she were being honest with herself then she would have to admit it wasn't entirely about teaching him the evils of conceit. "…and when night darkens the streets, then wander forth the sons of Belial, flown with insolence and wine.." She smiled as Kenshin blinked at her in confusion.

"Lycidas?" He guessed and growled when Kaoru shook her head.

"Paradise Lost." She corrected him, but was unprepared for him to pause, blink, and then burst into helpless laughter.

"That one I should have been able to guess." Kenshin sighed through a smile and wiped away a tear of mirth with the heel of his hand. "That one I deserved to lose. When in God's Infinite Goodness did you memorize all of Milton's works? Better yet, why do you still remember them?"

Kaoru smiled. She got that question a lot, but not so much as she had in the Courts. There no one had been able to understand her veneration for a human author. Milton wasn't her only literary love, but he was one of her favorites. Humans…there was a reason she loved Kenshin so much: that ability to cram eons of knowledge into a few seconds of intuition –and when they put that into verse. It made her spirit want to soar.

"I just like his work. There's nothing special about that. That young girl who lives at the Henderson place can recite every song Rob Thomas ever wrote from memory. You are just frustrated because you will never manage to win our bet until you actually read the books." Kaoru eyed a shrink-wrapped summer sausage with mixed feelings. She couldn't deny Kenshin the right to eat meat, but neither could she understand his adamant refusal to let her have ramen noodles when he routinely consumed not only meat, but also meat of a distinctly dubious nature. 'Hickory Farms' or not, Kaoru was positive that the spices disguised all kinds of indiscretions. Still, she stored it along with his carefully horded supply of hot dogs and sandwich meat. "…hypocrite…"

"I heard that!" Kenshin commented from somewhere deep inside the pantry. A few minutes later he stuck his head out. Kaoru pursed her lips at the dirty smudged over his nose the cobweb that had gotten stuck in his hair. Luckily it did not come with a spider. "We really need to clean in here. It's disgusting."

"Oh, a little dust never hurt anyone and there aren't any bugs." Kaoru had laid down some powerful vermin ward into the foundation of the property when she'd commissioned it. As far as Kenshin knew she'd bought it a year before she met him, but in reality the property had always been in her possession under a variety of names.

"The doctrines of religion are resolved into carefulness; carefulness into vigorousness; vigorousness into guiltlessness; guiltlessness into abstemiousness; abstemiousness into cleanliness; cleanliness into godliness." Kenshin grumbled.

"The Talmud." Kaoru replied after thinking on it for a moment. "The Division of Mishna, I believe."

Kenshin blinked at her. "You're good."

She grinned. "I know."

Taunting Kenshin was one of the few unadulterated pleasures Kaoru had in life. Perhaps it was petty, but she came from a very long line of tricksters. Kaoru felt she was doing well in life if she wasn't dressing up in cloaks and lurking around crossroads in the hopes that the next passerby wouldn't solve her riddle so she could turn him into something small and amusing. She had an Aunt somewhere who still did that every once and a while for the nostalgia.

To be fair, Kenshin didn't seem to mind over-much. In fact he seemed to derive some kind of humor out of their games. 'Well he would have to in order to be attracted to me at all.' She smiled as she watched him make lunch. He'd found his boxers and blue jeans, but hadn't bothered with his shirt. Instead he wore his dark blue apron over his bare chest. 'That shouldn't be nearly as sexy as it is…'

He was probably well aware of the effect he was having on her, although she doubted he'd done it on purpose. Kenshin was like that. There was no doubt that he would milk the situation for all it was worth. As if on cue he set down he spatula and laced his fingers together over his head. Then, as though he had no ulterior motives whatsoever, he stretched his back in one long languid motion. Kaoru could hear his vertebrae crackle from where she stood. Then he dropped his arms, rolled his shoulder, and tossed an artless smile in her direction.

Kaoru snorted at him. "Exhibitionist." She teased.

"I'm sure I have no idea what you are talking about." Kenshin replied in an almost prim tone while he flipped the two cheese and herb sandwiches in his skillet. "I was just stretching my back, you dirty-minded woman."

"Suuuure you were." Kaoru grinned as he flicked her an annoyed glance. She batted wide guileless eyes at him, which made him roll his eyes in disgust. "… but I still love you."

"That's good. It makes keeping you forever and ever much easier." Kenshin grinned and leaned over the counter to brush his mouth against hers. "I love you too, beautiful."

"Forever is a long time, Himura." She teased him. "Will you still love me when I'm old and my hair's all gray. Imagine being shackled to a toothless old hag, will you still love me then?"

Something deep and amber-tinged flickered through his eyes. If Kaoru didn't know better she might have thought it was anguish, but he seemed so resolute. "Yes."

His forceful reply cut through Kaoru's light mood. For a long moment they sat there staring at one another. There was something in Kenshin's face that Kaoru couldn't even begin to describe. It was pain, longing, and fear all at once. Then he blinked and it was all gone as though it had never been. His smile slammed into place like a storm shutter. "What about you, Kaoru? Will you love me when I'm a senile old fool?" His eyes twinkled with false merriment, but there was genuine sentiment somewhere hidden deep in his expression.

"I will always love you." Kaoru replied truthfully. She didn't need to think about it. This was one subject that she'd gone over with a magnifying lens, dissected, and put back together again. She knew the truth. "Such sober certainly of waking bliss." Kaoru added with a smile.

Kenshin's brow creased. "An Apology for Smectymnuus?" He guessed and swore when she shook her head once again.

"Comus, Kenshin. It was from Comus."

"I am going to win this bet, Kaoru." Kenshin yelped as the scent of burning bread wound through the kitchen and spun to turn the sandwiches. He glared irritably over his shoulder as Kaoru favored him with a beatific smile.

"If you say so, darling."

End Chapter One: Star Crossed

Seiyuu: This is a new one. All the quotations in this are from John Milton unless otherwise cited. The passages in the beginning are specifically from Paradise Lost, Book One.


edit My darling Ravyn has pointed out a minor plot hole to me. I didn't decide until later in the chapter to make Kaoru a vegetarian. However when I went through making corrections I missed the passage whenKenshin and Kaoru are discussing Ramen and he offers her a 'nice bowl of noodles and lean beef'. I apologize. It's fixed now. I don't know how well it works out that he's made her tofu when he clearly dislikes it, but just take it as his devotion to her.