March 13, 2012 - final edit

Summary: Kaoru's trying to tell someone she likes them. Who else can she turn to for advice except for Kenshin?

Disclaimer: Rurouni Kenshin and all other associated characters are owned by Nobuhiro Watsuki.

Let's Just Pretend

"Kenshin? Can I talk to you?"

Kaoru shifted nervously, clutching at the straps of her backpack. Whatever made her decide to pick Kenshin to talk to, she'd never find out. Her stomach was tying itself in knots and at any moment, much to her everlasting embarrassment, she just knew she would faint. Kenshin looked up, smiling brightly at her causing her breath to catch. "Hello, Miss Kaoru." He glanced at his co-worker who nodded and moved to take Kenshin's place at the register. "Of course. What would you like to talk about?"

Her eyes darted to the effeminate man he worked with, looking sheepish. "Can we go somewhere else?"

He frowned in confusion but nodded and stepped around the counter. "Sure. We can go to the break room."

The co-worker snickered quietly, tapping carefully manicured nails on the register. "Don't get carried away with your girlfriend, Himura."

Kenshin's cheeks reddened and he blinked at him. "Oro? Kamatari—"

Kaoru blushed furiously, glaring half-heartedly at Kamatari. "Kenshin..."

Kenshin quickly turned to her, taking her arm and gently pulling her away from the counter. "Right. Come on."

Kaoru followed quietly, nervously biting her lip as she studied Kenshin out of the corner of her eye. He certainly didn't seem to notice her hesitance or how awkward she was currently feeling. A scowl briefly touched her lips. How oblivious could a guy get? Kenshin motioned her into the employee break room—which was really just a glorified closet with just enough space for a table, three chairs, mini-fridge, and a microwave—closing the door behind her and pulling out a chair. He waited until she sat down before taking the seat across from her and waiting expectantly. The urge to roll her eyes nearly overwhelmed her but her nervousness instead made her drop her eyes to her lap. Kaoru took a deep breath, clutching at the bottom of her jacket and tugging. "I...I was wondering how to tell a guy that I like him."

Kenshin stared at her, violet eyes flickering slightly before he smiled and the violet settled. "Who do you like, Miss Kaoru?"

She blushed, avoiding his eyes by instead examining the faint scars on her hands. "I'm not telling. You'll find out soon enough."

He sighed, balancing his chair on its back legs and focusing on her question. She knew he'd just try to pry it out of her later. "I don't know. It depends on the guy."

She bit her lip, peeking up at him through her lashes. "How should a girl tell you that she likes you?"

He let the chair fall back onto four legs with a thud, looking at her thoughtfully. "I guess she should just come up to me and tell me."

"Just like that? Point blank?"

Kenshin shrugged, nodding. "That would be easiest."

Kaoru's brow furrowed in thought. It couldn't be that easy. There had to be some kind of trick to it, the right words that could express how she felt. "Can I try?"

He looked confused and Kaoru straightened, suddenly not feeling quite so stupid. This was Kenshin after all. He wouldn't laugh at her. At least, if he did she could beat him. "Try?"

"Practice. Pretend to be telling the guy I like."

Kenshin blinked uncertainly. "Miss Kaoru, I don't think—"

She quickly interrupted. "Say you work in the food court."

"But I do."

She grinned. "Then it shouldn't be too hard then."

Kenshin said nothing and Kaoru took a deep breath, searching her mind for the words to say. "So, you're working in the food court one day minding your own business, and I come up to you and say, 'Hey, Kenshin!' and you say?"

She looked at him expectantly and Kenshin quickly responded. "Hello, Miss Kaoru. How are you?"

She nodded in satisfaction. "And I say, 'I'm fine. It's been busy.' And you?"

He frowned in concern. "Busy, Miss Kaoru?"

She rolled her eyes. "Kenshin, it's just pretend."


"Anyway, I then say, 'Kenshin, I want to tell you something.'"

Kenshin watched her and at the impatient wave of her hand he picked up the act. "What's wrong, Miss Kaoru?"

"Nothing's wrong. I just... I..." She sighed heavily, grumbling, "This is hard. No, don't interrupt. Okay. I like you." She looked at him, blue eyes serious as she waited for his next words. Kenshin said nothing so she tried again, her heart beating rapidly. "I like you, Kenshin."

The silence dragged on and Kaoru shifted uncomfortably, wondering if perhaps she shouldn't have said anything to begin with. She laughed slightly, rising from her seat, her voice shaking a little as she tried to push back tears of embarrassment. "This is where you give your apologetic smile and say, 'Oh, I'm sorry, Miss Kaoru. I don't feel the same way.' And then I leave."

He shook his head, looking up at her in surprise, violet eyes tracing her features. "Kaoru—"

She picked up her backpack, flicking her wrist to look at her watch. "Oh, look at the time! I've got two minutes to get to class. I'll see you later, Kenshin!"

She threw her backpack over her shoulder and quickly retreated from the room, determined to put as much space between Kenshin and herself as she could. She waved to Kamatari as she zipped by and was almost to the doors when Kenshin called her name. She glanced over her shoulder, her eyes widening when she saw Kenshin striding toward her, determination set in his features. Her hand groped for the door and she turned to flee but a hand closed around her arm before she managed to get the door open. The gentle grip pulled her from the crowd of rushing students and into a hidden corner. Wide, blue eyes gazed up at Kenshin, her breath catching in her throat at the look in his eyes. "Did you mean it or were you just pretending?"

She struggled to find words and still her racing heart, though his sudden close proximity was making things difficult for her. What kind of cologne did he wear? She shook her head. Must not get distracted now. "Pretending? Kenshin, if you don't move out of the way right this minute you're going to have to pretend I didn't hit you."

He smirked! He dare direct that incredibly handsome and downright sexy smirk toward her! Couldn't he see how close she was to have a total emotional, psychological breakdown? Couldn't he see that she was about to either burst into tears or attempt to kill something? She swung at him when he didn't move and he easily caught her wrist in a firm hold, pressing closer to prevent her squirming. This was definitely not going as she planned. He completely ruined her escape. Much to her consternation, the wall at her back prevented her full retreat and she concluded that she was most assuredly doomed. By this time tomorrow, Kaoru Kamiya would be six feet under with a pretty bouquet of daisies on her grave. Too bad she didn't think to make out her will before she attempted this… debacle. Misao would probably steal her private chocolate stash. He smiled down at her and she felt, more than heard, his amused chuckle when she scowled. He leaned closer, smile widening when she tried—and failed—to draw back. Pausing to watch the blush rise on her cheeks, his low voice washed over her, vibrating through her body. "Pretend you can read my mind."

Her brow furrowed in confusion and she opened her mouth to demand an explanation and release but his lips covered hers, moving leisurely and provoking rushing tingles to spread out and downward, warming her inside and out. He pushed at her more insistently and she gasped when his hands traveled up her sides. Her mind turned to mush and she willingly responded to him. His tongue slid between her lips, briefly engaging hers before he pulled away to give her air. Breathing deeply, he pressed his cheek to hers and held her limp form close. Dimly, the still functional part of her brain noted that he was too pleased with himself and that she should hit him.

Kaoru wasn't sure how long she stood, sagged against the wall, vaguely aware of Kenshin's gaze as well as his hands moving soothingly down her sides. No man should be able to kiss like that. Gradually, she floated down from whatever cloud her mind took a trip to and opened her eyes. A swirl of amused violet and gold first greeted her. She wasn't sure how two colors could have such a human characteristic and they held her entranced. When they drew closer and were suddenly accompanied by a husky voice and a firm body, she snapped back to reality with a start. "So, what did you pretend?"

She gasped, color flooding onto her cheeks. "Kenshin! What are you doing?"

An eyebrow rose and his movements paused before he continued what he was doing, his movement more seductive as he traced her curves. "I'm pretending that I'm seducing you and you're pretending that you're tangling your hands in my hair."

He pressed a kiss to the side of her neck, smirking when he heard her gasp and felt her shiver. He doubted she was even aware that her hands were in his hair or the fact that they convulsed as he slipped his hands beneath her jacket and shirt. Kaoru closed her eyes, releasing a small moan when he nipped at her neck, soothing the small bite with his tongue. "Kenshin...Don't pretend."

He hummed distractingly. "Who's pretending?"

Her lips quirked in a playful smile as she ran a hand sensually down his back. "I am."

He paused, looking up at her uncertainly. A corner of her mind laughed wickedly. So, he wasn't as sure of himself as he appeared. "Kaoru?"

"I'll pretend I don't have class if you'll pretend you don't have work."

He chuckled, pulling up to give her a long, drugging kiss that once again had her mind reeling. "Your place or mine?"