Standard disclaimer applies. I do not own anything.
Light romance with slight humor.
# 7 - G for Gossip
There was just something about the wind today that made Kaoru Kamiya felt strange. It was warm, gusty. But, it somehow made her shiver in contradiction.
Eyes were giving discreet glances her way. Mouths were whispering.
Kaoru mentally panicked; the world seemingly closing in on her. She knew full well what those eyes meant.
She needed to reach the building before she took too much of this. However, she had just parked her car and the building was far. She was no superhuman that could teleport when the circumstances deemed necessary, unfortunately.
Words entered her ears.
It took all of her determination to not stop and process the words in shock.
Her heart beat wildly despite herself. The adrenaline was rushing through her bloodstream. It was supposedly autumn, but the winds were strange. They were warm. Autumn winds weren't supposed to be warm.
Or was she just perspiring because of those knowing smiles and narrowed eyes?
Seriously, how could warm winds make her shiver? How head was light and her face was burning due to the rise of temperature inside her. She was not so sure the internal heat was due to the winds.
A pebble caused her to stumble and a pair of arms snaked their way to her shoulders, stabilizing her. Kaoru almost dreaded to look up, but she did nonetheless.
A pair of chocolate brown eyes stared down at her, the owner grinning proudly and happily. The words the person spoke next caused Kaoru's own pair of sapphire blue eyes to widen.
She latched herself off Sano's grip as if she was burned. The man howled in laughter and told her to not be embarrassed. He told her that it was old news. Everyone knew already, so she had no need to be embarrassed.
Kaoru wasn't now. She was furious.
Punching the living daylights out of her brother-figure, she continued to the building.
Before reaching it, she was blocked by her group of female coworkers close enough to be considered friends. Kaoru arched an eyebrow at each of their somewhat unexplainable expressions.
They all mumbled something, eyes all wide with disbelief, all with a mixture of happiness and concern. Happiness and concern did not blend well together, and probably that was why it was unexplainable.
You did the right thing, they whispered encouragingly. It's all going to be alright in the long run, they promised her.
Kaoru managed to hold back the shiver from the warm wind, tugging at her scarf. She somehow managed a curt nod at her coworkers, all the while making sure her feet were taking her as far away from the women as quickly as possible. Finally, she opened the doors to the building.
Up the flight of stairs, down the hallway. Kaoru refused the elevator, knowing that those stares and oh-so-hearable whispers were worse in the secluded, no-exit machine. At last she reached a particular landing and she exited the stairwell.
Immediately, eyes met Kaoru's once again, narrowing knowingly. Mouths opened once more, words drifted across the echoing hallway.
Seriously, did they think that Kaoru could not hear? Or maybe they wanted her to hear. Maybe they wanted her to know that they know.
A look of nonchalance was feigned, but Kaoru's heart was pounding like a jackhammer in the middle of a construction project.
Finally she reached the room. She almost turned the handle with the sheer power of her panic, but those eyes were observing – studying – her every movement.
Instead, she knocked. She desperately preserved her composure, and knocked.
A female voice told her it was fine to come in. She walked in.
Two pairs of eyes immediately stared her down.
She knew then it definitely was not because of the wind, because there was no autumn wind inside the building.
A female on the right side of the room, seated comfortably behind a beautiful desk, scoffed before looking sideways to the other female in the room, who in turn gave Kaoru phony sympathetic eyes.
"Kamiya, no wonder you've been doing so well lately," the right-side female scorned.
"You're bound to regret it later," the female on the left added.
Kaoru tried to smile but didn't wait for further explanations as she made her way through another door on the other side of the room.
This time, she didn't knock.
Once in, she did not even bother gracing the room with her attention. Instead, she softly closed the wooden doors behind her, placed her numb, sweating hands on her back, and leaned against the door.
She closed her eyes because she was finally inside her destination, her heart still ricocheting wildly inside her. Her ears pounded with the words – the many, many words she heard in the span of ten minutes or so.
She breathed in heavily, taking a moment to calm herself. Her ears were still pounding with those nonsensical words.
The painful pounding in her ears almost caused her to miss the sudden shift of movement from the other side of the room.
Eyes opened and immediately, blue orbs narrowed.
"Something crazy is going on." Hinted Kaoru, testing the waters first before plunging herself in.
The man before her, seated oh-so-comfortably on his leather seat, his hands resting on top of his keyboard with eyes glancing away from his computer screen, looked amused.
"It's only nine past eight in the morning, Kaoru."
As if nothing could happen at nine past eight in the morning. His nonchalance caused her eyes to narrow even some more as Kaoru left her post and made her way towards the man.
Never once breaking off eye contact, she seated herself on the seat across from him, separated by the table, crossed her smooth legs, and intertwined her arms together in a huff.
"Talk is weird today."
The man gave her another amused glance before returning back to his monitor, fingers typing away.
"What could you possibly mean, Kaoru?"
A scoff, a huff, and a somewhat hard slam on his wooden desk caused him to return back to the woman before him. Amusement was still intact on his face.
"Talk is weird today, Kenshin."
Those amused eyes, those oh-I'm-so-innocent eyes blinked confusion.
"I am sorry Kaoru, but I really have no idea what you are talking about."
In her annoyance, Kaoru took off the scarf on her neck. It was a present the man had given her merely weeks ago, but she took it off. It was getting slightly warm and she needed cool to have this conversation.
"You cannot possibly enter this whole complex without knowing what I meant, Kenshin. I somehow find that quite hard to believe."
Fingers finally leaving the keyboard, he folded them on the table. Kenshin turned his whole body so that he was now facing a miffed Kaoru, his amusement seemingly all gone.
"Oh, you couldn't possibly mean those talk about us being a couple, are you?"
A twitch. A pause. A sigh.
"Yes, that." Agreed Kaoru, sounding very tired suddenly. Kenshin observed her. His amusement now was clearly, genuinely gone.
"Are you okay?"
Kaoru observed him, face skeptical. Re-crossing her arms across her chest once again, she leaned back against the chair she was seated on.
"Of course not."
Her decisive tone caused him to frown.
"And why not?"
"Because," she wanted to explain as if he was a three-year-old, "You're our boss. You're the CEO of the billion dollar company that is this building. I'm the lowly district manager, trying to get through her MBA degree on the local university, trying to get through life, basically."
The confusion on his face, mixed with the slight hurt inflicted by her words, caused Kaoru to study Kenshin with a slightly exasperated look on her face. Kenshin blinked after a while, that mixture of bewilderment and pain still intact on his otherwise handsome face.
Once again, eyes were narrowed at that statement.
"Do you really not understand where I'm going with this?"
Again, Kenshin blinked once, twice, before he nodded his head slowly.
"I do, but I fail to see the significance."
Kaoru stared. Kaoru frowned.
"Kenshin, we are not a couple." Kaoru explained, one of her fingers pointing back and forth between the two of them.
The confused, hurt look on his face was intensified. But the hurt was gone the next second and Kaoru thought she might have been seeing things.
"Not officially." Kenshin corrected her. Kaoru made as if she was about to comment, but the man gave her no chance. "But we are dating. That makes us a not-yet-official couple. But we are, indeed, a couple."
Kaoru did not want to hurt Kenshin. She did not want to hurt their relationship. That was probably why she smartly decided it was time to remain momentarily silent and give the situation some thought.
She couldn't help, personally and privately, to agree that indeed, Kenshin and she was a couple. But life would just be too complicated like this.
"But we can't let people know." She mumbled, more to herself than to anyone else in the world.
Amusement was back on Kenshin's face.
"You are the boss." She repeated. "I am your employee. We are not supposed to be involved romantically. It is not ethically right to some people.
"Plus, now people will just wrongfully assume that all my accomplishments are not based on the fact that I am excellent at my job. They will just think that I got promoted because I am extraordinarily good in bed. Or worse, because I'm blackmailing you to give me special attention. I heard one of your secretaries outside saying that just before I knocked on their door." Kaoru added, whispering scornfully.
Frowning in disbelief, Kenshin stood up and made his way towards Kaoru, who was watching him with exasperated eyes.
"People who think like that are mere fools, if not idiots. Don't let them get to you. You know as much as I do that you are excellent at your job. Besides, I am not in charge of promoting each and every employee I hire, and you are definitely not under my direct jurisdiction. Anyone with half a brain can understand at least that much. And as far as I remember, romance in the work place is not prohibited in this company. If it is, I can just as easily change the rules." The shrug of nonchalance caused Kaoru to sigh even more.
"It is not prohibited, that is true. But," Kaoru corrected him, rolling her eyes, "we are not supposed to be all lovey-dovey during work hours."
Lovey-dovey? Kenshin decided to ignore her interesting word choice.
"I never make passes at you during work. Everything is done outside the work place."
Involuntarily, Kaoru blushed. Of course everything was done outside the work place. Two nights ago had involved Kenshin's apartment, Kenshin's kitchen, Kenshin's couch, and Kenshin's bed all in one evening.
The smile he had on his face signaled to her that he knew what she was thinking of. Shaking her head, she refused to be defeated.
"It's unprofessional for gossips to be spreading around like this. We should stop it."
"It's not like we can do anything about it now that everyone knows about it. It'll die out soon enough."
The statement was so simple, Kaoru couldn't help but to almost believe it. But the rational part of her caused her to narrow her eyes in skepticism.
"But you haven't even asked me to go steady with you yet!"
Kenshin's eyes widened and, much to Kaoru's dismay, he chuckled.
Kaoru stood up, now standing level against the man who was her superior.
"No, you didn't."
"Actually, I have. And your response was very amusing."
She scrunched her eyebrows in confusion.
"I'm afraid I'm not following this, boss." She commented sarcastically. Kenshin barked a laugh as he embraced her lovingly, effectively breaking all that work ethic where you can't be, to quote Kaoru's words, "lovey-dovey in the work place".
"You never cease to amuse me in these five months we've started dating, Kaoru."
She scoffed but couldn't help to indulge in his warm embrace and wonderful smell.
Finally, he released her enough just so that he could see her face. He was still amused and delighted. She was still frustrated and scornful.
"Oh Kaoru, do I have to be blunt about everything?"
She failed to answer and he chuckled.
"Alright then. Kaoru, will you please be my girlfriend?"
Kaoru did not expect that and thus was shocked witless. Her face turned embarrassingly red from the sudden heat.
Blinking seconds away, she finally smiled and nodded shyly despite herself. Kenshin smiled back before leaning in to give her a quick peck on her lips.
For that moment, the rumors were forgotten.
But only for that fleeting moment.
"What are we going to do about the talk then?" Kaoru asked, once again back to scornful mode. Kenshin's hand retained their grip on her waist. Amethyst eyes shone in glee.
"Just let it be. It'll die out once the news is widespread."
Kaoru sighed and nodded. Realizing she was overreacting, she made a move to exit the room. Kenshin easily let her go as he himself made his way back to his seat. But her attempt on returning to her office was stopped when she turned back and stated,
"I wonder who spread such rumors. I think if I ever find out, I'll fry that person alive. Maybe it's Sano. Lately we haven't been too good at hiding our relationship in front of him."
Hands paused from typing at the keyboard once again, as eyes made their way to observe Kaoru. Kenshin looked so adorable with that slightly aghast, slightly concerned expression of his. It almost made her miss his next statement. Of course, almost was the keyword there.
"It was me, Kaoru."
Silence. Then, a hiss of,
Kenshin would have chuckled if it were not for the deadly glare his girlfriend was giving him. Instead, he gulped.
He briefly wondered why he was so attracted to the slightly temperamental woman before him.
She was Kaoru.
And everything about Kaoru attracted him. Everything about her can easily make him run in circles just because his heart would beat wildly for no particular reason and everything about her can easily stun him speechless with warm emotions. Even her temperament.
"I thought it'd be an interesting way to ask you to go steady with me."
Kaoru's mouth fell open and Kenshin's proud look turned sheepish.
"What?" Kaoru hissed with dripping venom.
"Uh, I take it that's not such a good idea?"
Kaoru practically stomped her way toward Kenshin and was about to give him her piece of mind before, seeing an opportunity, Kenshin reached out, stood up once again, and swept her in one smooth move. He effectively stole her lips whilst in the process.
Kaoru knew it was probably not in her best interest when she gave in to the tingly feelings on her lips and closed her eyes, melting away in the kiss.
After all, mouths were loose. The tongue was an organ of great flexibility – the simple fact that she was going out with Kenshin could be distorted and twisted in such a way that made it sound like she was an evil witch placing a curse on the poor man. She was sure she's in for a hell lot of sneers, teases, scornful looks from other female coworkers, and most probably even some from her bosses, male and female.
But, as she was overridden with the addictive sensations of Kenshin's own tongue against hers, she decided for once that gossip was not all that big of a deal. Rumors would die if you face it head on. Talks would disappear if you learn to get by and continue on living.
What the hell, what Kenshin did was romantic anyway.
I made this story thinking I wanted something light - like air, oxygen, ... just a slice of life, you know? I also tried a somewhat different writing style than what I'm used to (anyone noticed?) and I don't know how it ended up. But anyway, like I promised, this update did not take a year! I am so proud of myself right now...
In addition, thank you for my reviewers! You guys are seriously the single, most powerful reason why I continue with my stories here. The reviews are all very supportive. Thank you!
For those readers also reading my other fic, Long Vacation, I would like to announce that the next chapter is almost complete. I need to write one more section (to make it longer and thus worth the wait) and then proofread it. The story is almost complete, so I would really appreciate it if you'll just give me a little bit more of your patience and stick with me to the end.
Oh, and, I got into the university of my choice! That basically sealed the deal for me and I would be moving pretty soon (again) and have to quit my job. But, right now I'm just so happy at the fact that I'm accepted, I really am too delirious to care about the hardships I have to face in the near future. For now, grad school, here I come!!!