Chapter 7: the conclusion

About an hour later Sano showed up at the dojo carrying a passed-out Yahiko piggy back. He grinned as he spotted Kaoru.

"Oi, Jou-chan!" he called. "How'd it go last night!"

Kaoru blushed furiously.

"Well, how'd it go with those thugs?" she asked back.

"Yahiko was awesome! They showed their ugly faces just after midnight. Yahiko took down one and I got about three before the rest took off, but we chased them all down- running all over the city all night- I think Yahiko's final count was 4 or 5, but anyway I'm sure he'll tell you all about it himself. He was great! Then the two of us went out for a few beers to celebrate!"

"Mou, so that's why he's passed out right now? Disgusting, getting a child drunk like that."

"Aw, come on, Jou-chan, he'd earned it. You should have seen him fight. Yahiko proved himself to be a real man." Sano blinked. "And that reminds me," he plowed on tactlessly, "Where's Kenshin, anyway?"

Kaoru sighed, feeling her face turn red again. "Still asleep," she said.

"Heh heh," Sano snickered, grinning sideways. "Wore him out, did you? Well, good for you. And for him. Come on, let's wake him up, it's almost time for lunch, isn't it? I'm starving."

Sano carried Yahiko into the house and down the hall to Kenshin's room, and Kaoru followed. They slid back the door quietly and gathered around the sleeping rurouni. He was on his side, curled up, one arm under his head, breathing deeply, with a look of sweet contentment on his face.

Kaoru smiled. "Sleeping like a baby," she whispered. "Well, let's not wake him. Just leave Yahiko here and the two of us will go eat." She took a spare blanket off a shelf and spread it on the floor next to Kenshin. Sano knelt and carefully eased the sleeping boy off his back, placing him on the blanket. He ruffled the boy's hair fondly.

"There you go, you little punk. Sweet dreams." He stood and turned to go but noticed that Kaoru hadn't moved. She was staring in rapt fascination at the two sleeping figures. "Jou-chan?" Sano asked, puzzled. "What's up?"

"Look at them!" she breathed, clasping her hands together. "Aren't they adorable? Yahiko looks almost innocent; you'd never guess he was such a loud-mouthed rude obnoxious brat. And of course Kenshin looks like an angel, don't you think?"

Sano looked. He saw only a sleeping kid, and a sleeping Kenshin. He realized with immense relief that the sight of his red-haired friend no longer appealed to him the way it used to. Really he'd seen more than enough of Kenshin in bed. The memory caused his cheeks to turn a little pink. "Uh, whatever you say, Jou-chan…" Sano said, putting his hands in his pockets.

Kaoru sat down on her heels, studying the sleeping pair. "Ah," she sighed. "Wouldn't it be so sweet if Kenshin would put his arm around him?"

"Huh?" Sano asked.

"Shh!" Kaoru said. "You heard me." She put her fist under her chin for a moment, thinking about it. Then her eyes closed into happy semi-circles, and she leaned over Yahiko, grabbing him under the arms and moving him closer to Kenshin. Sano watched her, confused and a little disturbed. Finally Kaoru had managed to pull and push Yahiko right beside Kenshin, and she gently picked up Kenshin's arm and put it softly across Yahiko's side. Kenshin stirred a little, sighing in his sleep, and became dimly aware that there was someone next to him. Not being remotely conscious enough to imagine that it was anyone other than Kaoru, he wrapped his arm around the warm, slender body and fell back into a deep sleep, holding the smaller person against his chest protectively. "Aww! So cute!" Kaoru exclaimed in a delighted whisper.

Sano, at this point, was more than a little unnerved. "Good grief, that's not right," he muttered.

"What?" Kaoru asked defensively.

"Don't you think it's a little harsh of a joke to play on them?"

"It's not a joke! It's just cute!"

"But, Jou-chan, a 29-year-old man and a 10-year-old boy just don't-"

"Mou, don't be dirty-minded!" Kaoru scolded. "Why does everything have to be sexual with guys? It's not like they're sleeping together, they're just near each other, asleep."

"It could still scar the kid for life if he wakes up in the arms of a guy, even if it's Kenshin," Sano said adamantly.

"hush, you'll wake them! Don't take things so seriously, it's not a big deal. Anyway let's leave them be and go eat lunch, ne?"

"Well, all right," Sano grumbled. He followed Kaoru into the hall, taking a last glance over his shoulder at Kenshin and Yahiko nestled snugly together. Sano shook his head. "…but that's not right…" he muttered, sliding the door shut.

X

Kaoru and Sano set into their lunch greedily, scarfing down food with matching looks of ferocity and determination. It almost looked like a contest. Before they could fall to fighting over the last serving of this-or-that, Megumi arrived with a basket of sweets. The three of them had tea and chatted and when the conversation turned to Kenshin, Kaoru's red face and Sano's snicker gave everything away. Megumi chuckled and congratulated her, remarking that "it was about time," and from there the conversation spiraled down into a flirtatious argument between Sano and Megumi, which mainly consisted of Sano defending himself against Megumi's scathing comments about the many ways in which Sano was inferior to Kenshin. Kaoru couldn't help but laugh at them. They were obviously made for each other, these two.

Eventually Sano decided to annoy Megumi by flirting with Kaoru, which worked brilliantly. Megumi's eyes glinted and she sipped her tea daintily, before settling on a comeback. "I've never really liked men who tease women," she said primly. "I prefer those who simply take what they want, like I do."

Sano snorted. "Since when do you take what you want? You wanted Kenshin, and you never 'took' him, now, did you?"

Megumi smiled slyly. Kaoru and Sano both sweatdropped.

X

Meanwhile, Yahiko muttered something incoherently and snuggled up closer to Kenshin. Kenshin also stirred, waking up but not opening his eyes. He smiled, feeling completely rested and whole. At some point in the morning Kaoru had come back into bed with him. He thought he heard her mutter something, and he leaned forward to press his forehead to the back of her head- but his face crashed into a forest of short, spiky, unwashed hair. Startled, Kenshin opened his eyes. His alarm was enough to wake Yahiko, who rolled over, blinking his eyes.

"Ya- Yahiko!" Kenshin half-screamed.

"Ehhh?" Yahiko said, his eyes widening.

They stared at each other for a few seconds. Kenshin was stunned. He gaped at the boy beside him. Then a horrible thought struck his mind. No… NO… surely Yahiko hadn't been lusting after him- right? But then why – how—

"AAAUUGH!"

Sano, Megumi, and Kaoru all turned to look at the door. Seconds later Kenshin and Yahiko tumbled into the room. Both looked tousled and distressed. Kenshin wore only a yukata. Yahiko looked like he'd slept in his clothes, and had a rough night at that. Before anyone could say anything, Kenshin dropped to his knees. His shoulders shook a little as he bent forward until his nose almost touched the floor.

"Everyone, I must apologize!" he said gravely. They all blinked at him, utterly at a loss. "For driving you crazy, for being the cause of your lust-"

"What the hell!" Yahiko demanded indignantly. "What's going on?"

"-I thought I could take care of it, but it seems that there's no hope. I am so incredibly sorry for what I have done to all of you. I know everyone wants me, but the only one sessha wants is Kaoru-dono! I'm sure the way I am is unforgivable, but I apologize sincerely that I do!"

Yahiko stared at Sano, Megumi, and Kaoru. All three of them were blushing. "What on earth is he talking about?" Yahiko shouted at them. "Kenshin, have you lost your brains?"

Nobody said anything. Yahiko turned to Kaoru. "And you! Are you suddenly too good to use the laundry basket? What do you mean by throwing your dirty clothes all over the floor in Ken-" it dawned on him and his face turned redder and redder as he completed his sentence. "-shin's…room…" There was a moment of silence.

And then Megumi raised her hand to her mouth, and began to laugh. A few seconds later, Sano and Kaoru began laughing too. Kenshin looked up, just as bewildered as Yahiko.

"Oh, Ken-san, don't you get it?" Megumi asked. "You don't have to apologize to us! If anything, it ought to be the other way around. But all of that is over and done with now. You're missing the point all together!"

Kaoru nodded happily. "You did 'take care of it', you hopeless idiot! All the lust has been burned up… and all that's left is love now!" she beamed at him. "You don't have to worry about lust anymore. The point is, Kenshin- we all love you!"

Simultaneously Kaoru and Megumi closed in and hugged him, Kaoru from the left and Megumi from the right. Sano thought about it for half a second and then with this long arms he hugged all three of them together. He glanced at the fuming Yahiko out of the corner of his eye and grinned.

"You too, kid- get in here," Sano said, snatching him with one hand and pulling him into the group hug.

"Don't include me in your weirdness! I'm not a part of your nasty love triangle… square… or whatever it is! I don't have anything to do with it!" Yahiko protested, struggling to escape.

Kaoru giggled and rubbed her cheek on Kenshin's shoulder. He'd finally said it, out loud to everyone, declaring that he wanted her. That was the real answer right there- that was all they needed to know. Now, around Kenshin and Kaoru's new, clearly established relationship, they could all grow even closer. Kenshin's heart had been the key to all their hearts for so long. While his heart had been uncertain, their own emotions and feelings towards him had been in turmoil. But now, at last, Kenshin had figured it out.

And she was his now, to love and be loved forever.

IT'S OVER!

A/N: Yay! A happy ending to a dirty-minded fic! Oh, wasn't it horrible? Yuck! This is what reading too much fanfiction does to a person. Sigh. Anyway if I've amused or annoyed you, please review!