Disclaimer: All standard disclaimers apply: I do not own Rurouni Kenshin, I make no money off this work, etc. Characters of Rurouni Kenshin are the property of Nobuhiro Watsuki.
Warning: This work contains references to adult material.
Author's Note: Well this is it. I decided to go for one longer chapter instead of two short ones. Thanks to everyone who reviewed the story, I appreciate all your comments. Hope you enjoy the ending.
Kaoru looked up from the computer and smiled. She had just finished reading Misao's rather long and rambling email. Her bubbly personality even came through in her letters. The basic gist of her letter was that she had finally gotten Aoshi into bed. Apparently it had reached the point where Misao flat out asked him if he was celibate or gay. His negative response was met with a quirk of an eyebrow and he seemed to entirely miss the point of her questions and response. However, at their next stop he casually suggested they share a room, to help ease her budget. That was enough encouragement for Misao and she had jumped him that night. He was quite good in bed, according to Misao's excessive descriptions. Kaoru had made some mental notes while reading it for things to try with Kenshin.
Thinking about Kenshin reminded Kaoru of her slight problem of how to inform Misao that she and Kenshin were dating. Since she had neglected to mention when he first asked her out, such a news would come as a shock to Misao and no doubt bring a lecture on keeping her best friend in the dark and prying questions into their sex life. On the plus side, Kaoru felt she likely could avoid telling Misao about their previous arrangement. That was one conversation avoided at least.
Kaoru braced her self, trying to figure out a way to write this email. She stared blankly for a while, before glancing at the clock. She sighed in relief. The email would have to wait for another day. Her date with Kenshin definitely took priority, she thought with a grin. Misao would agree with her on that. Probably. If she were ever to find out. She was so screwed…
Biting her lip, Kaoru sent off a quick missive to Misao, before she could back out:
Congrats! Enjoy yourself. No time for a real response – have a date!
Giggling to herself she hit send. At least she could drive Misao crazy a bit before bringing her wrath down upon herself. Kaoru wondered how long she could drag this out. She figured she might be able to get a few weeks, given that Misao would likely have spotty net access in the region they were planning on backpacking though.
Looking at the time, Kaoru yelped and hurried away. Time to test Kenshin's claim that he really didn't care what she wore on dates. And perhaps afterwards she could try that technique Misao had described. Fun should be had by all.
Kaoru looked at her computer and shifted uncomfortably. Her spur of the moment impulse to tease Misao by only giving out piecemeal information about her date had worked well. Misao's current travel itinerary had made email the only real way of communicating lately, since time zones and schedules had basically ruled out any real time contact. Which meant there was no way for Misao to pin her down as to exactly who she was dating. She had been slowly giving of bits of info with each letter, but since the emails had slowed to one a week, that didn't add up to much. While remote mountain monasteries might have inspiring views and interesting architecture, they usually didn't carry high speed internet access.
Still, it had come to the point where Kaoru was starting to feel quite guilty about leading Misao on. She and Kenshin had been officially together for almost a month now and she had only told Misao that she'd been on a few dates. Granted she had (eventually) admitted they were all with the same person, and that Misao knew this guy. However, it was past the time to come clean to Misao. Moreover, Kaoru would really like to have her best friend to talk to about relationship things and give advice. After all, Kenshin's birthday was next month and Kaoru had no clue what sort of gift would be appropriate. Next email, she promised herself, she would completely answer all of Misao's questions and explain the situation.
Kaoru laid in bed early that morning, contemplating last night. Thankfully Kenshin wasn't awake yet, so she had a bit of time to think. She was really regretting not having told Misao about their relationship – having someone to talk things over with would be nice.
It wasn't that anything was wrong. In fact, things were going well. It was just that last night Kenshin had used the L-word. And she believed him. He hadn't made a big deal about saying it – she wasn't even sure if he realized what he said. He just murmured it softly during their post-sex cuddle, right before he drifted off to sleep.
He loved her. And it wasn't a scary earth shattering pronouncement that she thought it would be. It felt natural, comforting even. Kenshin's sort of love wasn't stifling or controlling. He simply accepted her for herself and tried to encourage and support her. She wouldn't say things were perfect, like some sort of magical soul connection. They definitely argued at times, but it felt good. She was free to express her opinions and disagreements and he listened. He didn't always change his mind, but he didn't belittle her points either. Kaoru definitely realized that her previous relationships were not even close to what Kenshin considered to be a loving relationship.
And, she finally admitted to herself, she did love him. It had taken a bit of self-evaluation that morning to acknowledge it, but it was true. His caring nature and patient advances had healed many of the fears left by her ex-boyfriends. She may not be completely worry free about where their relationship was headed, but Kenshin's love and care would help smooth the way.
Kaoru closed her eyes and snuggled against Kenshin's dozing form to snooze a bit. She nuzzled his neck briefly and whispered, "I love you," as she relaxed into a light sleep. A gentle smile blossomed upon Kenshin's face and he held her closer.
She and Kenshin were actively not watching the movie when the pounding on the door started. The knocking was quite incessant, so when Kaoru finally went to answer the door, she was irritated along with disheveled. Her frustration was likely what caused her to throw open the door without peaking to see who it was first. When she did, she stared in shock.
"Took you forever to answer your door." Misao said, pushing her way into the apartment and dropping her bags on the floor. "What ever were you doing?" she asked.
Taking note of her appearance, Misao grinned. "Oh, never mind, I think I know exactly what you were doing." Looking around the apartment she spotted Kenshin.
"Hey Kenshin. So it was you Kaoru's been hiding. I told her that you were interested in her and that the two of you should date."
Kaoru shut the door and dragged Misao to the table. "What are you doing here? I thought you were in Bulgaria or Romania or something."
Misao sat down and put her feet up. "Do you have anything to eat? I came right from the airport, and you know how airline food is these days."
Kaoru looked impatient, but Kenshin answered before she could respond. "I'll heat something up for you, Misao, so the two of you can catch up."
"Thank you Kenshin, that's very thoughtful of you." Misao replied.
Kaoru waited a moment, but when Misao failed to continue, she ground out, "Well?"
Misao looked up at her with a falsely innocent expression. "Well what?"
"Are you going to answer my question?"
"Hmmm" Misao said. "You mean like how you answered all my questions in the emails I sent you?"
Kaoru winced and flushed.
"I mean, I thought I was your best friend. That you would keep in touch with me on my trip, keep me up to date."
Kaoru flinched and slumped into a chair.
"But no. A few teasing hints, some cryptic remarks, my questions ignored -- hey some of my messages even went unanswered." Misao continued, venting, "And how do I find out that you've clearly been dating Kenshin -- for who knows how long – by practically walking in on you making out, no less."
Misao looked hard at Kaoru, who hung her head with shame. "I mean how hard is it to drop me a line saying 'I'm dating Kenshin, you were right, it's a great match.'"
Feeling guilty, Kaoru looked away. In a quiet voice she said, "I'm sorry Misao. You're right. I should have told you about Kenshin. I shouldn't have hid the information from you, dodged your questions and avoided the issue. I haven't been a very good friend lately."
Misao came over and hugged her. "It's okay, I forgive you. I haven't been around to be the kind of best friend you probably needed."
Kaoru reached out to hug her back. "Thank you. I am sorry. I'll be more honest in the future."
The girls embraced for a few moments. When they sat back down again, Kenshin entered bearing a tray of food and some cocoa.
Misao looked up. "Oh yum, this looked delicious Kenshin."
Kenshin smiled. "Thank you Misao, it's nothing fancy, just some stuff on hand."
Misao shook her head, "I don't believe it. I've lived with Kaoru before and the stuff she keeps on hand usually reads 'Just add water'."
"Hey!" Kaoru exclaimed
"Her fridge is more well stocked these days. I've been making good use of the kitchen equipment you left here. While I'm glad to see you back, I must say I'll be sorry to see it go."
Misao shifted a bit. "Well you see, the thing is, I'm really only back for a month or so."
Startled they looked at her.
She continued, at a slightly faster pace. "See Aoshi's sister, Omasu, is graduating in a week. Graduating from college that is, she's a few years younger than him. And he felt it was very important to attend her graduations. Which is totally understandable, since both their parents are dead, so he's really the only close family she has." Misao took a breath.
"So why are you back?" Kaoru asked, a bit confused at the explanation.
"Well we came back a week early, so that we wouldn't be totally jetlagged through the ceremony. I stopped here to see people and get some of my stuff and to give Aoshi time alone with his sister. I'll meet up with them in a few days."
Kaoru and Kenshin looked at her, waiting.
At an even faster clip, Misao spoke. "We'll stay there for a few days, to help Omasu pack her stuff and move to her new place. Then we'll be coming back here for about week, so Aoshi can meet everyone. After that it's off-to-vegas-to-get-married-and-then-to-Turkey-and-the-Middle-East-for-our-honeymoon." Misao finished.
"What!" Kaoru exclaimed. "You're getting married?" She looked stunned.
Misao ginned, "Yup. In Vegas even, since there's not a whole lot of time to plan a wedding. And besides, it's Vegas, we'll have fun!"
Kaoru still looked dazed. "But what's the rush? You've only known him a few months."
Misao flushed a bit. "Well yeah, but when you're traveling with someone you get to know each other really well. And we want to travel through the mideast"
Kaoru nodded, not really convinced. "So why don't the two of you just continue traveling together?"
"Kaoru, it's the mideast!" Misao exclaimed. "An unmarried couple really can't travel together, it causes problems. And a single female traveling alone isn't looked highly upon either."
"So you're getting married to travel more?" Kaoru asked, not thinking highly of this idea.
"Yes! Well no, not in the way you're suggesting." Misao looked at Kaoru, very serious. "Kaoru, I really love this guy. It's like we were made for each other. If I'm wrong, I'll deal with that latter, but I can't take the chance of letting this slip out of my fingers."
Kaoru calmed a bit, recognizing the gravity with which Misao spoke. "I believe you Misao," she sighed. "But could the two of you wait a year or so before taking this trip?"
Misao flushed a bit and squirmed in her chair. "Well see, technically Aoshi only has about a year before he has work. The terms of his trust fund require him to be working at a real job by the time he turns thirty. He actually has a position lined up, but he wants to use the time he has left to travel before going corporate."
"Trust fund?" Kaoru remarked. "Well that explains how you're honeymoon will be funded."
"I swear I didn't know he was rich until afterwards. He doesn't act like one of those spoilt rich kids." Misao defended.
"I'm sure he doesn't. I look forward to meeting him. I'm just a bit shocked to find out my best friend is getting married all of a sudden!"
Misao looked ready to apologize when she saw the teasing look on Kaoru's face. "Well it's not like I'm the only one who hid things." She paused. "After all, Katamari was the one who told me about your benefits relationship with Kenshin."
Kaoru froze and then put her head in her hands.
Misao continued "And do tell, how did Katamari learn of this?"
Kaoru mumbled something.
"What was that?"
In a tense, embarrassed voice, she said, "I, um, asked him for tips on giving blow jobs."
Kenshin stood, "Perhaps I should let you two have some privacy."
Misao spoke up. "No Kenshin, don't go. Really I think you're a great match for her and I'm glad you took her up on the benefits offer. I was just teasing her. I think taking that approach with her was a great idea. I want to hear all about it."
Kaoru pounded her head softly against the table.
Kenshin walked over to Kaoru and put his arms around her. "Hey, I'll face the music with you. You okay with this?"
Lifting her red face, Kaoru groaned. Time to pay the piper. But it was good to have Misao back, if only for a little while. And she had Kenshin at her side to do the explaining if necessary. She gathered up her mug and headed to the couch for one more cocoa conversation. Things would be alright. And if the teasing go to bad, she could always harp on Misao's secret engagement…