A/N: THE FINAL CHAPTER. (puts on goalie equipment and prepares for the throwing of objects). The end has come! This has been an amazing ride! This chapter is for everyone :)
Disclaimer: I do own this COMPLETED story :) … but not Rurouni Kenshin… :(
At three o'clock in the morning, Kaoru was scared awake by a blood-curdling scream. She wildly searched for her lamp and called out for her mother, thinking it was her who screamed. A minute later her mother walked into the room with nearly closed eyes.
"M'whu' is it?" Her mother asked as she yawned.
"Did you scream?" Kaoru demanded.
"No…wait…that wasn't part of my dream? Strange." Her mother replied, her eyes fully open. Kaoru thought for a moment, getting out of bed and looking out the window. She saw a light turn on in Kenshin's house. A thought suddenly came to mind.
"No…it's more like…he recognizes that kind of scream from previous experiences." He answered slowly. She finally looked up at him ate an M&M.
"You," She merely stated. He nodded.
"Yeah," he sighed, "it was more common when I was eight or nine but you know it happens."
"Kenshin!" She whispered, running past her mother.
"Where are you going?" Her mother asked, following her daughter.
"It was Kenshin screaming, it's like what happened to me over a week ago." Kaoru explained as she put on her Converse. "I'll call you, okay?" Her mother was about to protest but Kaoru shut the door.
She ran across the street to Kenshin's front door, knocking quickly. She waited a minute before knocking again. "Hiko! It's Kaoru!" She yelled, hoping that he could hear her. She waited a few moments until Hiko answered the door, looking down at her. Kaoru realized that she didn't bother changing and was still in a large t-shirt and pajama caprice. He stepped aside and let her pass.
"Kaoru, he's not quite there…" Hiko said quietly when she reached the staircase.
"He was there for me when this happened…so I'm just going to return the favor." She replied. It looked as if he wanted to say something else, but decided against it and let her go.
When she reached the door to his bedroom, she slowly opened it and was shocked to see him sitting on his bed with his knees drawn up to his chest, his vacant eyes staring at the shelves across the room.
"Kenshin…" She started, slowly closing the door and treading over to him. Seeing him like that upset her more than anything. When she sat down next to him, she saw tears silently streaming down his face. With a shaky hand she reached out to move his bangs away from his face. He didn't move. "Kenshin…" She tried again, but realized she didn't know what she could say to him. Instead, she put an arm around his shoulders and held him tightly.
They stayed that way for a few minutes until he slowly let go of his knees and let his head lie on her shoulder. She bit her lip as she took his legs so they draped over her own and she held him to her chest like a child and let the silent sobs rack his lithe form.
"It's okay…just let it out." Kaoru said in a soothing voice, rubbing his back. She felt his arms wrap around her waist tightly.
After a few minutes of silently comforting him, he went limp in her arms, which meant that he'd finally fell asleep. She gently removed his hands and tried the best she could to place him under the covers. Satisfied with her work, she quietly left his room and walked down to the kitchen to find Hiko sitting with a mug a coffee.
"Coffee?" He offered, holding up his mug.
"Yes, please." She sighed, taking a seat across from him when he got up and filled another mug of coffee. She vaguely remembered having the same situation with her mother.
"He's asleep I presume."
"Yeah. Hopefully he won't freak out again." She replied, taking the mug from him and taking a sip to see how hot it was.
"He won't – it just happens once." He paused for a moment before speaking again. "I thought it was weird that it didn't happen to him before the anniversary of his parents' death. I guess I have you to thank for that."
"Me?" She asked, shocked.
"Well, yeah. If he hadn't have met you, I'm sure he'd be the same as he was before."
Kaoru didn't know what to say. Instead, she merely took a long drink of her coffee and looked down at the granite counter.
"What should I do about practice?" She mumbled to herself, strumming her nails against the mug.
"I'll call him, don't worry about it." Hiko gruffed.
"Thanks." She replied, not expecting the answer he gave.
"You can go back home, you know. He'll be okay."
"Nah…I'll just wait until he wakes up…I want to make sure he's okay." It looked as if Hiko wanted to say something, but decided to hold his tongue. A thought suddenly came to Kaoru's mind that made her gasp. "I know what I can do!"
"What?" He asked, not about what she could do, but more of why she exclaimed so suddenly.
"I'll bake something for him! That should cheer him up!" She said cheerfully, getting out of her seat and walking into the pantry. She managed to find a chocolate cake mix with strawberry frosting. When she walked out, she found Hiko standing by the entrance to the kitchen with the fire extinguisher by his feet.
"I've heard that you don't have the best luck in the kitchen." Hiko said simply.
"I won't screw up!"
"I like this house, and I'd rather not take your word for it."
"I'll show you." She muttered, rummaging into the refrigerator to get out three eggs.
Kaoru had followed all of the directions on the back of the box slowly, making sure she didn't misread anything. With success, she put in the completed mix into the oven and used the timer to set it up for thirty minutes. She let out a huge yawn, deciding that she'll just rest on the couch until the timer went off…
Just when she was about the fall asleep, the timer went off loudly. She yelped in shock before cursing as she got up from the couch to the oven. Opening the oven, she took a toothpick and poked a hole in each pan to see if they were fully cooked. Satisfied, she took the pans out and emptied them of the cake to let them cool off.
"Nice job. Kenshin will be very proud." Hiko said from the doorway.
"Hah! I proved you wrong." She said, grinning. He smirked a little.
"So you did. Well, it's almost five in the morning…I assume you're going to be staying here for the rest of the day?"
"Yep. If you don't mind, that is."
"I don't care…I'd just rather you not use the oven again until Kenshin wakes up or I'm in this portion of the house. I'm going to be working in my office." He explained before walking away. She shook her head as she walked back to the couch and turned on the TV, willing herself to stay awake.
After thirty minutes of waiting, she got up again and started to ice the cake. She started with one side of the cake, then placing the other half on top before icing the sides and top. It took her a while to get every section, but she managed. When she finished, she started to dance around the kitchen in absolute self-satisfaction.
Pulling herself together, she went into the pantry to try and find sprinkles. When she found a rather large container of colorful sprinkles, she went a little overexcited and poured a lot onto the top. She didn't bother trying to get rid of them before she made her way up the stairs with the sprinkled-covered cake to Kenshin's room. She heard the shower running before entering his room and decided to sit on his bed with the cake placed on her lap.
A few minutes later, Kenshin came out of the bathroom with a green towel wrapped precariously low on his hips and his red hair long and wet. He stared at her with a shocked expression, pulling his towel up higher before smiling at her embarrassedly.
"Hey." He said, trying to wrap the towel more snugly.
"Hey." She said, eyeing at him with great appreciation. She rather liked the way his towel was before. "How are you?"
"I'm okay." He sighed before his eyes drifted to her lap. "Did you…?" He drifted off, pointing to the cake.
"Yep! All by myself!" She replied proudly. He grinned at her, walking up to her and taking the cake from her lap and placing it on his nightstand before kissing her.
"My apprentice has learned well." He said softly. She brought her hands to his back and stroked the muscles there.
"Yes…so I have." She stared into his amethyst eyes for a moment. "I really want to try the cake." She stated. He laughed at her before pulling away and going to his drawers to find clothes to wear.
"I love your ensemble by the way." He said as he pulled out a pair of boxers, shorts, and a t-shirt.
"Yeah, it's so sexy, right?" She said, looking down at her extremely large shirt.
He paused for a moment. "I was going to say something that was rather inappropriate…but then I realized it would've been much too easy." He put on his boxers before removing the towel and putting on his shorts.
"Do you want to go home and change before we eat this cake?"
"Yeah, that sounds good." She got up from the bed and walked out to go home.
When she got home, her mother was still asleep so she crept silently back into her room. She changed into the navy shorts he lent her a week ago and a more form-fitting white shirt. She also brushed her hair and pulled it up into a ponytail. Satisfied, she left the house with her cell phone and ran back to Kenshin's.
He immediately surprised her by wrapping his arms around her from behind when she entered his room.
"You scared me." She said rather breathlessly.
"Mmm…" He murmured with his face in the crook of her neck. She flinched slightly and giggled.
"Stop, it tickles."
"Thank you…for earlier." He said softly, holding her tightly. She leaned back into his chest and put her hands over his.
"Of course. You don't have to thank me." She said before her gaze drifted toward the cake, the two forks that laid next to it, and two cups. "Can we eat it?"
"Yeah." He laughed, letting her go and sitting on the bed cross-legged.
Kaoru brought the cake to the middle of the bed and brought the utensils along with the drinks. She kept the cup of milk for herself and gave the cup of water to him. She took a seat across from him so the cake was in between them.
"Are we just going to eat it straight?" She asked.
"Yeah – haven't you ever done it before?"
"Me neither – but it seems like a good time to try it." He admitted, taking a fork and stabbing it into the cake.
"Is it one of those things you have to do before you die – eat an entire cake in one sitting?" She asked with an amused smile, taking the second fork.
"We should make a list of these things."
"Oh, we should!" He took the first bite of the cake. "Delicious."
"I feel like such a fat pig." Kaoru stated as she took another forkful of the chocolate cake with strawberry icing. The two were almost halfway done with eating it and showed no signs of stopping.
"Eh, live a little." He replied in between bites.
"Easy for you to say, super-skinny-but-still-muscular person."
"You could always run with me." He said in a sing-song voice.
"No! I don't run! It's not programmed in my brain."
"Why not? Wouldn't it be just a perfect bonding experience?"
She stopped chewing. "That sounded so queer." She stated before resuming chewing.
"That hurts. Would you ever reconsider?"
She pondered for a moment. "Nope!"
"What about when we finish this cake? Wouldn't it drive you to run and try and burn off the disgusting fat?"
He had a fair point, but she was far too proud to admit it out loud. "I don't think so."
"We'll see when we finish." He concluded simply before drinking his water.
"Who eats chocolate with water?"
"People who hate milk."
She was silent for a moment. "If I ran with you today, would you drink milk for a week?" She asked. Kenshin dropped the fork in his hand and stared at her.
"Hey, running is painful."
"Five and that's my final offer."
Kenshin was quiet for a moment, considering the options. "Fine, I'll drink milk for five days if you run with me today."
She almost wished she didn't offer it. "Er…actually, can we put it off till another day? I mean, you already showered…"
"I woke up in a cold sweat – it was a necessity to shower."
She sighed and collapsed back on the bed, unable to take another bite. The effects of waking up at three in morning began to take their toll as she laid on his extremely comfortable bed.
"Can I sleep before we go?" She murmured.
"Yeah, just call me when you wake up."
"I don't want to move though." She heard him take the cake off the bed and then lie down next to her.
"Okay then. I'll see you in a couple of hours." He said simply before closing his eyes. She looked at his face and bit her lip, wondering how she had gotten so lucky. She curled up next to him and wrapped her arms around his waist tightly, willing herself not to cry. If it was possible, he brought her closer with his arm and kissed her forehead. "It's okay." He whispered, making her relax a little and fall asleep.
"I can't believe I'm going to do this." Kaoru grumbled as she walked down her front steps to meet Kenshin. She managed to find a decent pair of sneakers and she changed into smaller shorts before meeting him outside her house. "How long are we running for? It's like a million degrees right now."
"I thought three miles would be good."
"Three? I could barely do the one mile in gym!"
"Five days is a lot of days to be drinking milk!" He countered with a raised eyebrow. She grumbled as she joined his side. He set the pace at a slow jog to get her comfortable. "See? This isn't so bad."
"I'm tired already."
"Oh, be quiet. It's fun to run." Kaoru snorted. "It is!" She gave him a look. "Fine, what do you want to do to make this fun?"
She thought for a moment. "How tall are you?" She asked randomly.
He raised an eyebrow at her. "Why do you ask?" She shrugged. "Five foot six."
"I'm five foot four."
"Well that's a relief." He sighed.
"Why is that?"
It's nice having a girl friend being shorter than me."
"Do you believe in guys always being taller than the girls in relationships?"
"Well, it's strange to see the girl taller than the boy. No offense."
"None taken. I think it's weird too. Call me traditional if you will."
"Okay, my turn. Pepsi or Coke?"
"Coke most definitely. You?"
"Pepsi till the end."
"McDonalds or Burger King?"
Kenshin made a face. "Neither."
"You have to answer the question!"
"Fine. McDonalds, since that's what I used to eat when I was a kid. You?"
"Hate both, but McDonalds because their fries are a hell of a lot better than Burger King's."
"Gotta agree with you there. Okay, chocolate or vanilla?"
"Chocolate, of course! You?"
"You honestly don't seem like a vanilla kind of guy."
"You're right – my favorite will always be strawberry ice cream."
"Oh, my God! We have to eat that bowl of strawberry ice cream before we go home!"
"I'm really looking forward to that – my craving has gotten pretty intense throughout this summer."
"The diner won't know what hit it. Hm, how about cappuccino or coffee?"
"Both suck. But I'll go with coffee since that flavor ice cream is pretty good. You?"
"Coffee – I like mine black."
"Ooh, aren't you sophisticated."
Kaoru lifted her head up high. "Yes, I am very sophisticated." She replied with a British accent.
"Getting to your British roots. Actually, tea is more British. Do you like tea?"
"Green tea is good – I don't like regular tea though."
"I like green tea too…well I should, given that I live in a Japanese-influenced environment."
"It's so hot." She moaned.
"Hey, you forgot how much we ran already! I also quickened our pace a bit – we only have two more miles to go!"
"Kaoru, answer the door! I've been knocking for the past two minutes!"
"I refuse to get out of bed! You killed my legs!"
"Don't make me scale the walls and into your room."
"I'm on the second floor you dumb ass!"
"Please answer the door? I brought tofu…"
"Fine…fine!" She grumbled before closing her phone, unable to resist the deliciousness of tofu. She slowly got out of bed, trying to ignore how heavy her legs felt. Taking her time, she managed to walk to the front door and let Kenshin in. Instead of walking in, however, he looked at Kaoru for a long time. "What are you staring at?" She asked, exasperated.
"Now that is sexier nightwear." He said, eyeing her legs appreciatively. She was wearing very short shorts and a white tank that showed some of her midriff.
"You're not on my good side today, Mr. Himura." She merely said before slowly making her way to her counter where she collapsed on a stool.
"I'm going to get myself some milk, then."
"Nice decision." She said as she laid her head in her arms.
"God this sucks." He sighed, sitting across from her and looking at the cup of milk with distaste.
"Well this sucks too!" She retorted, her voice muffled by her arms. She looked up from the top of her forearm and watched him. "Drink it."
"Fine." He drank a large gulp with a look of disgust on his face. "Wait…" He murmured, rolling the milk around in his mouth for a bit before swallowing. "This tastes different…"
"What do you mean?"
"What kind of milk is this?"
"…I have two percent at home."
"You mean I drank three cups of that this morning? How disgusting…"
"But, hold on Kaoru…I think I might be having a break through…an epiphany…whatever you call this." He said, looking at the cup with awe. "Skim milk…it's not as gross! I mean, it's still not my favorite drink, but it's not half bad!"
"Great. I'm glad it won't be as painful for you." She said sarcastically.
"Hey, I'm sorry. I really am – I forgot how much it sucks the first time." He said softly, walking over to her side of the counter and putting an arm around her waist. "Can you forgive me?" He asked, nuzzling his face into her neck.
"Eh, I don't know."
He sighed. "Well, look on the bright side, it's better to be pissed off than pissed on." He removed his arm from her waist and sat back down in his chair.
"What did you just say?"
"It's better to be pissed off than pissed on."
She froze for a moment before bursting out into laughter. "That's so funny."
He grinned proudly. "Do you want that tofu now?"
"Yes! My God, I'm starving. I feel like I can eat a hippogriff."
He gave her an amused smile. "Nice Harry Potter reference."
"Thanks – now get cracking on that tofu – I might just forgive you."
"Yes! That's good." He exclaimed, putting the tofu he made earlier into the microwave.
After dinner, the two decided to go to Kenshin's house to finish the bit of cake that was left over.
"I don't know if I'll be able to eat it." She said as she picked a t-shirt to wear at his house. There was no way she was going to his house dressed that way with Hiko present.
"I really want to eat it now – now I taste the supposed deliciousness of chocolate and milk."
"Then you can finish it."
"Knowing you, you'll eat it too. Now come on, you can wear those; I'm sure Hiko's out tonight." He said, referring to her shorts.
"You just like me wearing them." She grumbled, giving up and walking out of the room.
"Okay, so maybe I do. What do you expect? I am a guy after all." He said as he followed her out of the house and into his.
"Well you are relatively tamed compared to some guys."
"Hey, respect the players." She gave him a look. "You know what I mean."
"Whatever." She sighed with a small smile.
"Milk?" He offered as he opened the fridge.
"Yeah, just a small cup." She replied. He turned around and gave her a pointed look. "Okay, a big glass." He grinned and took out the carton of milk that was the same as the one in her fridge. "Wait…how did you…? You were at my house…?" She sputtered.
"While you were in the restroom I called Hiko and forced him to get it." He explained, trying to hold back his laughter.
"You just love surprising people." She muttered as he got two tall glasses from a cabinet.
"It's fun." He merely said as he poured the milk.
"Yeah, for you. I swear, one of these days you're going to really weird me out."
"Oh, but you find it funny too, don't deny it. I know you well." He said. She raised her eyebrows.
He raised an eyebrow at her, holding the two glasses in hand and walking toward her. Instead of handing her glass to her, he placed both on the counter before bringing her close and kissing her fervently.
"Mm…clearly you want something from me." She murmured.
"Nah, I just enjoy your company."
"Nice answer. I think we should get out of the kitchen before Hiko comes in."
"Too late. Already seen ya." Hiko called from the living room. Kaoru groaned and slammed her forehead on Kenshin's shoulder.
"Lovely. You really know how to make a situation awkward." He moaned.
Kaoru heard Hiko chuckle before he went up the stairs.
"Do you want to eat this out on the trampoline so we can avoid more embarrassing moments with him?" He suggested, pointing toward the cake that was covered with foil.
"Yeah, I think that might be best." She agreed, pulling out a drawer to take out two forks as he brought the cake outside.
After they finished the little cake that was left, they both fell backwards on the trampoline and looked at the velvet night sky that was studded with stars and a crescent moon.
"What are you going to do after high school?" She asked.
"Hmm…well I'm not going to be saving the world or anything too spectacular. I'll probably just go to college and see what happens then. I don't know if I'll take over Hiko's company or not."
"It's nice to have that as a back up…"
"I don't know…I mean, I guess it is, but I'd rather not just jump to the top, you know? I'd rather work my way up and earn my own respect."
"Wow, that's so nice."
"I'm a pretty nice guy, FYI. What about you?"
"Going to college in Boston." She stated confidently.
"Wow that was a very definite answer." He laughed.
"Well, I don't know, we always liked Boston. My dad went to college there."
"So I assume that's your first choice?"
"Kind of. Not just because I have a higher chance of getting in because my dad was an alumna, but it just reminds me of him."
"Most people would want to get away from that."
"It's comforting…for me. It used to be painful. Sometimes it is – like first coming here was horrible. I hated that I was driving his car."
Kenshin was silent for a moment. "My parents actually went to Boston College – that's where they met."
"Are you thinking of going there?"
"Maybe." He said, side glancing to her. They both looked at each other, not wanting to think about the future and if they were going to be together all throughout senior year. And if they were, they didn't want to think about how college would affect it.
When he took her hand and laced his fingers with hers, she realized that they knew better than most people to not think of the future, because you never know what it will throw in your face. They had learned it the hard way. Instead, she put her head on his shoulder and looked at the vast sky.
"It's a really nice night, don't you think?" She commented lightly.
"Yeah, it is."
Kaoru never ran with Kenshin again – partially because they went to practice for the rest of the week and he was in no shape to run after Saitoh's intense practices. However, Kenshin did start to drink milk in the mornings throughout the weak and was convinced that he was growing.
"I totally am! I definitely grew." He insisted, standing against the wall with a tape measure.
"No, you didn't! It's all in your head. Now come on, I want that ice cream…it's calling to me…" She said, grabbing his hand and dragging him out the door.
"At this rate, I'll be six feet tall by the end of senior year." He muttered to himself with an evil smirk on his face. "Then they will all see who the shorty really is!"
Kaoru froze and stared at him as if he had lost his mind. She looked as if she was about to say something and decided to not bother.
"Sorry…got a bit carried away?"
"Just a bit." She said before he turned on the ignition.
"But there is hope…right?"
"Eh, I wouldn't count on it."
"Hey, I like your height."
"But I'm short…"
"Wow, you came to terms with your height."
"Oh, I was always in terms with my height – I never had a Napoleon complex or anything like that."
"That's because you always proved yourself worthy of not being called short – your soccer skills are insane. And it doesn't hurt that you're really good looking."
He smiled. "Yeah, well it was Enishi's favorite insult." He added thoughtfully.
"That dumb fuck, I don't know what's wrong with him."
He barked a laugh. "Me neither. Aw, shit the parking lot is packed. We'll have to park by the library then."
"Ugh! I can't believe we're going to have to walk to the diner." She replied sarcastically. He grinned as he found a parking spot in between a Hummer and an Expedition.
"Wow, don't those two cars make mine look ridiculously small." He stated as he got out of the car.
"A waste of our resources."
"They totally are and they're unnecessarily huge – that Hummer took up half of that other parking spot!" He pointed out as he locked his car.
"Ah well, eventually all the cars are going to have to run on natural resources eventually." She shrugged. "You know what's annoying to do on a hot day…or evening in this case?"
"But we're not."
"I know, but I just want to put it out there – it's hot and just having the extra heat coming from your partner's hand is just icky."
"Yeah, that's why I'm not holding your hand. I don't know why you made that comment."
"I'm just putting it out there." She repeated, rolling her eyes.
Just as Kaoru made that comment, three girls strutted down the sidewalk – all marketing Abercrombie's line of clothes with matching sneers as they stared down at Kaoru. When their gaze changed to Kenshin, they all gave him alluring smiles. Kenshin was quick to pick up on it and looked down at their feet to see if there was any more reason to dislike them.
"You know what really pisses me off?" He asked smoothly, wrapping an arm around Kaoru's waist, slowing their pace.
"What?" She asked, not knowing how he was going to respond.
"Stupid people who wear Converse just for the sake of fashion and not because they actually like them." He replied, giving the girls a pointed look. They all gasped as if they had been personally insulted before stalking away with their heads held high.
Kaoru smirked before looking at Kenshin, something filling her that she couldn't name. She then looked down at her black Converse. Staring at the worn canvas and fraying shoe laces, she knew the feeling was something that she had seen in the eyes of so many women, including her own mother.
She smiled secretly before finally saying, "Yeah, so many people just need to get a clue about the depth of Converse."
A/N: Umm…a few tears kinda leaked out just now. Wow, I can't believe I actually finished this! I'm so emotional right now haha – thank you so much for reading this till the very end! You guys have been so incredible and I hope to see you in my upcoming works :)
As always, please review!