I don't know where the heck this came from.

I don't think I -want- to know.

Disclaimer: I don't own Rurouni Kenshin.

...Thank God.

Mad Kaoru Disease

--

Kamiya Kaoru was pissed.

From the moment she had been awakened by louder-than-usual quarreling between Sanosuke and Yahiko, the day had looked bad.

And it had gotten steadily worse.

She had cooked breakfast, as Kenshin had been 'abducted' by the police force to help them with an especially bad case and had needed to stay out overnight.

It was only fair that he should sleep in after that.

'But for the love of kendo, is it too much to ask that Megumi of all people not show up when I have to cook breakfast?'

Of course, the kitsune-doctor had proceeded to chortle in her infuriating way whilst making snide remarks every two minutes.

Sanosuke and Yahiko had avidly agreed with her on all comments pertaining to food.

"Is that rice? It looks like Shishio's ashes."

"Jou-chan's cooking grows on you, but I'll have to agree with you on that one, fox. Hell, it even smells like crispy Shishio."

"Hey, you guys are right! Eww, it tastes like Shishio's ashes, too!"

Having her cooking compared to barbequed psychotic villains made Kaoru's day ever so much brighter.

She had, to put it nicely, exploded, taking the pot containing 'Shishio's remains' and flinging it out of the room.

...Where it had hit Kenshin squarely between the eyes, causing him to crumple gracelessly with a plaintive 'oro' on his lips.

Kaoru mentally added that to the list of things that she swore the kami were laughing at her for and whisked herself out of the dojo, her companions' cries of distress over Kenshin's condition barely registering in her anger-hazed mind.

Soon, she found herself striding down the path towards the market, where she decided she might as well buy tofu.

Until she remembered that the tofu bucket and her money were both back at the dojo.

There was no way in hell she was going back so soon.

So she resigned herself to simply admiring all the pretty things vendors were peddling for the day, taking her time to browse through some especially nice kimono and hair ribbons.

She had almost forgotten her earlier anger until she heard whispers about the 'kendo-girl' who had 'the hitokiri Battousai' staying at her dojo, and who was probably doing all sorts of indecent things with him that she didn't even dare repeat to herself in her mind.

Hatred blazing in her eyes, she fixed the gossipers with a glare before stomping out of the store and fleeing to the riverside.

Which reminded her of the time Kenshin had left...

'K'so!' she swore inwardly, infuriated that she was not allowed to find peace anywhere.

The kami had to be drunk today. Or else they had been drunk yesterday and were taking out their hangovers on her.

Whichever was the case, she needed to take out her frustration on something. Beating Yahiko to a pulp sounded like a really good idea, but somehow she knew that it wouldn't be enough.

She needed to pull a prank on someone.

A really good prank.

Slowly, a malicious smile spread across her face.

Perhaps Tae would be willing to "chat" over tea.


"Oi, Jou-chan, where the hell have you been all day?"

Kaoru suppressed the urge to glare at him and instead forced a sickeningly sweet smile onto her face.

"Oh, I just went out to talk to Tae about a few things. Incidentally, have you seen Yahiko? She gave me a message for him."

Sano jerked his thumb towards the practice hall.

"Brat's been practicing all day, saying something about getting warmed up for later." Sano paused. "He's been in a tizzy since you attacked Kenshin this morning."

By some miracle, she managed to control the shaking of her fists while she counted to ten and then back down to one. Smiling slightly-too-sweetly at the ex-gangster, she marched towards the practice hall, calling over her shoulder, "I'll be more than happy to cool him down."

'Quite literally, in fact,' she said to herself smugly as she slyly snagged a bucket full of water on her way to pulverize her pupil.

She grinned to herself gleefully as she sloshed the bucket over his spiky hair, effectively halting his kata.

"What the heck, busu!" he shouted, whirling towards her with murder in his gaze.

If he'd been holding live steel instead of a sopping shinai, she might have been afraid.

"Helping you cool down," she said sweetly, rocking on her heels, bokken behind her back. "Tae says that Tsubame's waiting for you at the Akabeko for your date."

Yahiko's expression went from murderous to embarrassed, but still murderous, in seconds. She silently mused to herself that she'd never seen that particular shade of red on his face before.

"K'so! I totally forgot about that! Augh, when I get back, I'm so gonna kill you, busu!" he screeched, frantically trying to dry himself, locate his sandals and put away his shinai simultaneously.

"Have fun on your date!" she called to his retreating figure, and he spared a glance over his shoulder to stick his tongue out at her.

"You're just jealous 'cuz Kenshin won't ask you out on a date!"

She was left spluttering at air.

Well, that had been a bust. Time for plan two.


There was something unnerving in Jou-chan's smile today.

Not that Sanosuke would know, being completely plastered in one of the guest bedrooms.

Kaoru had chased him in here with her bokken, screaming profanities that would have made him proud had they not been directed at him, and she began chucking large objects, including several gourds of sake, at his head.

It didn't occur to him until after he'd downed the sake (nasty habit, that one) that there had indeed been something unnerving in Jou-chan's smile today, and that she hadn't really had much of a reason to run him in here in the first place.

Unless she was plotting something behind that smile.

But of course, Sanosuke wouldn't know. Because he was completely plastered in one of the guest bedrooms and lucid thought had left him some time ago.

Which was why he didn't notice when a shadowy figure crept into the room and stole his jacket.

He sure as hell noticed when he woke up, though.

"JOU-CHAN."

Kaoru turned to him, still smiling that very unnerving smile as he bellowed her name.

"WHY. IS. MY. JACKET. PINK?"

Her hands fluttered to her mouth coyly, an unconscious imitation of Megumi, as she replied, "Oh, Sano, it's not pink, it's magenta. There's a huge difference."

He glared daggers at her. "WHY. IS. MY. JACKE-"

His tirade was cut abruptly short with a dismissive wave of Kaoru's hand. "If Kenshin can wear magenta, so can you," she declared, turning back to whatever task she had given herself.

"WHY. IS. M-"

She shot him that smile again, the one that made him feel like she had too many teeth and they were all too sharp.

"It suits you."

Sano gave an enraged roar and attempted to lunge at her, wobbled, and passed out when a bokken connected soundly with his head.

Not even the mighty Zanza could stand against Kaoru's bokken paired with Tae's specialty sake.

...And then she noticed that in her attempts to dye Sano's jacket, she had ruined her kimono.

Hangovers. The kami had hangovers, every last one of them.

Time for plan three.


Plan three involved Megumi and a basket of doctored (pun intended) onigiri.

Sadly, it never came to fruition.

No sooner had Kaoru set foot outside the dojo gate than a bucket of water tumbled down on her head.

In the dust ahead of her, the word 'payback' was scrawled as though written hastily with a stick.

Her eyes narrowed as she examined the bucket.

Yep.

It was the same one she had doused Yahiko with earlier.

The brat was going to pay.

Unfortunately for her, the mighty Zanza was mightier than she gave him credit for, especially once Kenshin had upended a bucket of freezing cold water over his friend's face, worrying for his health.

Sanosuke may have loved Kaoru like a sister, but even siblings fought now and then.

This duo put all siblings to shame.

By the time Yahiko returned, muttering foully under his breath about "seeing Tsubame on the wrong day" and "killing busu", both Kaoru and Sanosuke were panting and bruised, the glaring magenta of Sano's jacket having turned slightly darker with perspiration.

With malicious glee, Yahiko joined the fray, insulting Kaoru's cooking and calling her busu whilst somehow managing to gnaw on Sanosuke's head in wild abandon.

Megumi and Kenshin stood silently next to the clotheslines, observing the ensuing chaos with respectively calm and distraught expressions.

"I hereby declare the three of them to be infected with 'Mad Kaoru Disease,'" Megumi stated evenly, watching with disinterest as Kaoru did painful-looking things they hadn't thought possible with a bokken.

"'Mad Kaoru Disease?'" Kenshin questioned, voice wavering. "Why do you call it that?"

Megumi's smile was also unnerving today, Kenshin decided.

"No reason."

"...Oro."

--

Glossary:
Kendo- "The way of the sword"

Kitsune- Fox; Megumi's nickname

Jou-chan- Sanosuke's nickname for Kaoru, translated in the anime as "Little Missy"

Oro- Kenshin's non-word; most likely derived from the feminine 'ara'

Kami- God, deity, spirit

Dojo- A school for training in Japanese arts of self-defense. In this ficlet, kenjutsu

Kimono- Dear lordy, if you don't know what a kimono is, I'll smack you with a fish.

Hitokiri- The formal title for an assassin…well, according to my manga, it is

Battousai- Kenshin's alias, meaning "Master of Battou-jutsu", pretty much

K'so- Shit- though Japanese expletives are less harsh than their English counterparts

Kata- A routine for practicing various forms of martial arts; in this ficlet, kendo

Busu- Ugly

Shinai- A bamboo practice sword

Bokken- A wooden sword

Sake- Rice wine- usually served warm, but Sano's not picky. ;)

Onigiri- Rice balls...with, like, stuff in them. And stuff.

--

AN: If you don't understand the title, I shall either smack you with a fish or direct you to the nearest search engine.

...Or I might just explain the title.

A few years ago, it seemed like everyone was going bonkers over mad cow disease. I don't know exactly what it was, but I sure remember the hilarious e-mails that got passed around about it. That one flash video or whatever it was that had the cow going "Mooooooo-wahahaahahaa! Moohoohoo! Moohoohoo! MOO!" and so forth never failed to make me giggle.

And so, when I had a flash of inspiration in the form of the phrase "Mad KAOru Disease", I simply could not pass it up.

Sorry about your sanity, though. It lived a long, full life.

And a billion thatnks to Misaoshiru for, once again, being a totally awesome beta. C: