Last chapter. Thanks for all that stuck around, and I'm hopeful that you liked it if only a bit. Slight lime in this chapter, but nothing amazing.

Disclaimer: No way... but I wouldn't really mind. XD

x

Chapter 8

Kaoru woke with a flutter in her heart and a knot in her throat, afraid to open eyes that would reveal to her an empty room. Lying as still as possible, she let her other senses take over, trying to discern any trace of another in her surroundings. Warmth encircled her, but it could have easily come from the blankets she was snuggled in. Soft breathing entered her ears, but it was in tune to the steady rise and fall of her own chest, so she dismissed it. Hair tickled her cheek, but her bangs had grown unruly after Kenshin had left her. The only difference her still tired mind and relaxed body could react to was the sharp smell of ginger in the air.

Relenting, she opened wary sapphire eyes to the dim room. A half-light entered through the high window, barely allowing for the objects to take shape in her vision. The shoji in front of her led to the inside of the house, directing her away from the other side of her futon. Taking one shaky breath she turned, but was frozen securely in place. At her small move to withdraw something tightened around her waist, holding her still before pulling her closer into the wall of heat behind her. A soft sigh ghosted down her neck, pushing the stray hairs aside with its path and making her shiver in response. Reaching up with the hand of her free arm, she delicately took hold of the silk tickling her skin and moved it to within her eye sight. A happy, relief filled smile bloomed over her entire face when she saw the fire she held.

"Kenshin," she sighed, the name a caress on her lips, spoken only for herself and the joy it brought. Tilting her head only slightly, not wanting to disturb his sleep, she took in as much of his face as she could. Soft red hair fell down in places, blocking much of his forehead and cheek from view, but his mouth was relaxed, parted ever so slightly in invitation, projecting warm breaths over her skin. Tempting, lazily her mind supplied the word, the energy to think too much carefully in his arms, only just enough for her to lay flat on her back, she reached up to skim tender pads over his jaw and down his neck.

Kenshin twitched gently, reacting subconsciously to her attentions, but it was enough for her to jerk fearfully away. When he did nothing but flatten his palm over her ribs and drag her closer still, she breathed a sigh of relief. Extending now shaky fingers once again, she boldly traced the velvety texture of his lower lip, delighting in the pleasures she was being allowed to explore. When that mouth nipped at her without warning she almost yelped in response.

"Koishii… what are you doing?" Kenshin's voice was sleepy and content, breathy words questioning when the mind just wished to relax.

"Making sure."

An absentminded hum issued from his throat and he snuggled himself against her, nudging his nose into the crook of her neck. "Making sure of what?"

"That you're real," she stated happily, running fingers through the hair covering his face.

Amethyst eyes blinked open, realizing at that moment that she had woken before him, and on any other day that would not have been good. Pulling hastily away, he looked down at the lazy sapphire smiling up at him, trying to no avail to find any lingering traces of confusion or fear… or anger at him for being there. Relaxing visibly at her seeming satisfaction, he smiled back, the curve turning quickly into a mischievous grin when her words came back to him.

"Maybe this unworthy one can help." Moving before she could react, he leaned in to steal a kiss from her happy lips, then pulled back to enjoy her giggles.

"Mou, Kenshin, that wasn't fair." Tugging on loose hairs, she coaxed him into giving her another kiss, unsatisfied with the teasing touch, but still he moved away after only a short second.

"Are you sure yet, koishii?" Another quick kiss. "This one will be happy," And another. "to spend all day," And another. "convincing you this way," And another. "if not." And another.

"Mou! I'm convinced already! Now give me a real kiss… before I bite you!"

"Yatta…" Softly brushing lips against hers, he watched her eyes flutter closed in response, waiting for him to close the distance. "that doesn't sound too bad." Capturing her mouth before she could protest his teasing remark, he used her slight agitation to his advantage, gently exploring her semi-parted lips with the edges of his tongue. The faint sigh of satisfaction spoke of her approval and she happily proceeded to learn how to respond in kind to this side of love.

Savoring every feeling… every tremor… every needy caress… every answering sigh; he readily fell into the ardent worship of her body and the learning of movements that would bring about the greatest fulfillment for her, and for him. Every response was relished, explored until he knew exactly where they stemmed and she could barely breath. Every inch of creamy skin was delighted in, whispering sweet words of beauty against her heated flesh, words that traveled softly to her ears and curved pink lips lovingly. Every moan echoed as his own pleasure peaked with hers.

Pure bliss clouded her mind, only registering the pleasurable ache and tender caresses that built upon it, heightening it to the point where the blood running through her veins felt hot enough to burn. Nothing could have prepared her for this, nothing compared, not even the reality of her nightmare could mar the wonder of each touch and feeling. Even when a sharp pain stabbed out beneath her skin and a glimpse of triumphant amber burned into her mind, she only smiled, the small hurt washed away in the relief that this was real and that nothing could take it away.

x

Blanketed in the combined scents of jasmine and ginger, Kenshin braced his weight on his arms, ragged breathing escaping his parted lips as he absently rubbed his nose over her ear. Needy gasps of air from the woman beneath him tore at his senses, uncovering a fierce, purely male, satisfaction that she had reacted to him so readily, so intensely. Needing him, he realized, just like he needed her. Needed that morning to be real, with no shadow of doubt to tarnish its beauty and splendor.

The small sound of protest she gave when he pulled away made him chuckle in amusement, and he affectionately stroked a hand over her cheek as he cuddled her against him. A gentle morning glow shown through the window now, bathing the room in its warm illumination and creating a comfortable atmosphere, adding to the love that filled the space around them. Kaoru sighed in contentment, her limbs relaxed in a way that they had never known before, and could only bury her face in his chest, breathing in his scent and releasing it with another sigh.

"Are you sure now, my love?" He teased her quietly, the smile prominent in his voice.

"Hai." The word was barely audible as she drifted in a state of half-sleep, listening for his voice more than for his words, enjoying the way it started in his chest and rumbled under her ear before escaping out in the open.

"Go back to sleep, koishii," he whispered against her hair, aware of her minor struggle to stay awake with him. A hum of agreement passed her lips and he smiled as her breathing evened and she fell asleep curled into him, her fingers tangled gently in his unbound hair.

x

Megumi woke lazily with the slant of morning sunlight shining across her face, warming her with its coziness and adding to the comfort of her futon. Yawning hugely, she stretched limbs above her head cat-like before tossing aside the blankets and getting up. Pulling on her kimono, tugging irritably at the obi when it wouldn't knot like she wanted, she made her way out of the room and down the hall towards the kitchen. Briefly she shook her head at the loud snoring of the boy, obviously content to sleep the morning away, and then stopped in front of Kaoru's room.

Should I wake her now and see how she is, or should I just wait and see how she wakes up this morning? Pondering in her mind what would be the best course of action as her doctor, her stomach made her mind up for her. Hmm, wake her now… or eat and then wake her? Another insistent growl from her belly. Yeah, definitely food first. Yawning again, she walked on down the hall and around the corner to the kitchen. Kenshin was usually up by now making breakfast for them all, and if she was sneaky enough she could snatch some food away from him. Or I could just distract him by hanging on him like always, she thought with a sly giggle, fox ears popping out at the thought. And the tanuki thought it was only to get on her nerves, it has other advantages.

"Ken-san, what are… we…" Megumi stood in the empty kitchen, taking in the cold stove and the untouched counters, then crossed her arms. Something was definitely wrong if he wasn't up making breakfast already.

Turning back around she headed back to the rurouni's room, knocking softly on the door she called his name once before sliding it open. Another empty, untouched room stood before her eyes, his futon still lying folded in the corner and not even a carelessly tossed pair of clothing strewn on the floor. Frowning slightly, now in confusion as well as worry, she closed the door and was about to walk out to the bath house when she paused by Kaoru's room once again. I know he sometimes stays in here with her, and if he doesn't she ends up in his room, but usually he's up before this. Sighing a little in frustration, she leaned into the shoji, sitting her ear against the door and listening for any sign of movement from within. When there was nothing but the relentless breathing of a person in sleep, she quietly slid the shoji open a couple of inches.

A gasp issued from her mouth at the sight before her, but not one of horror, only shock. In fact, if she overcame that initial feeling she found the pair to be rather cute, cuddled under the blankets together, Kenshin's bare shoulder peeking out as Kaoru's slim fingers tangled through his hair. Smirking as only she could, Megumi closed the door and walked back down the hall. Looks like I'm going to be cooking breakfast this morning.

x

Kaoru woke slowly, eyes fluttering open to the darkness of her room, and smiled at the warmth that surrounded her. Burrowing happily back into his chest, she heard him sigh and the arm around her tightened carefully, his hand resting protectively over the small bulge under her yukata. Placing her own hand over the top of his, she rubbed her fingers over the softer skin of the back of his hand, then let out a sigh of her own as he lifted his fingers, telling her his wish to twine them with her own.

"How do you feel, koishii?" Kenshin's soft question held all the concern and worry he had had since the beginning, a small fear in the back of his mind whispering that she was too small, too delicate, too fragile.

"I'm fine, anata." She would have swatted at him if she wasn't so comfortable in their position. "Stop worrying so much."

"This one cannot help if he does not wish to lose you."

Kaoru smiled at the heartfelt reply, the love she felt for him clenching tightly at her heart. "I know, anata, but you aren't going to lose me. Women were built to bear children, you know." She chuckled at his affirmative hum, and the small doubt that still could be detected in the way his hand only curled more possessively over her body. "Daijoubu," she whispered, letting her voice trail off as that weariness that went with carrying a child overcame her.

"Koishii."

"Hmm?"

"I love you."

Kaoru smiled, amused yet satisfied none-the-less that he had taken to telling her this as often as he could. Afraid after the confession of her thoughts that she would slip back away from him if she was not reminded. She didn't feel the need to tell him that she would never forget it and he didn't have to ever tell her again if he didn't want to, but… how could she resist the chance to hear those much needed words spoken to her as many times as she could ever want, and how could she resist the chance to speak them back every time? The idea that she was finally revealing all of her emotions to him out loud a heady drug for her abused heart. Especially when he smiled for her, really smiled… only for her.

"I love you too, Kenshin… anata."

She felt the smile he pressed into her hair, and the muscles around her heart relaxed.

End