Author's Note: Here's the spin-off to "Mind of the Woman" like I promised. It's a few parts. I SO want to keep this short. You're asking, why did I have to spin this off when Kenshin and Kaoru are still involved? You'll see when you read this. This is set between Kenshin admitting his feelings to Kaoru in "Mind of the Woman" and their eventual marriage. Between Parts 20 and 21.

Tanuki-chan (that darling author who has a great flair for comedy and WAFF) pointed out once that I liked putting supernatural twists to my stuff. Yep, I couldn't stress enough how much I dig doing that. I dunno. Maybe it's my frustration that I can't do that hocus-pocus stuff and magically turn over the creation of Rurouni Kenshin to me.

More magic here, again! Bear with me folks. One day soon, I'll be able to write a fic that can be closer to reality. In the meantime, I will stay on this diamonds-in-the-sky phase. Also, major lime in here. Totally! If you can't stand Kenshin being…well, driven, I'd say don't read this fic. Kenshin more OOC than ever? Maybe, maybe not. Here's the question: Do any of you actually believe that Kenshin feels no desire for Kaoru? You've been warned! I dun want to get any flames that say, "Kenshin would never-ever think and act that way! You're such a lousy author, anna-neko! I hate you! I hate you!"

I'm a hentai. So…there!

Japanese terms at the end of the whole ficcie. I'd read it too, if I were you. It's sort of like dessert.

Standard disclaimers will apply.

On with the story.

Heart of the Woman

Part I: Heart of the Woman…Libido of Battousai

Most men in this era, after having put up with the battles and testosterone inclined endeavors of the Boshin Civil Wars, have taken to liking the silent, domesticated, feminine ways of our womenfolk. Men want 'em to be cooks, seamstresses, flower arrangers, display items in the receiving room…that's what turns on most of the average burly manly-man Japanese.

Not me though. No sir-ee. I, Himura Kenshin, Himura Battousai to my enemies turned friends, and just plain Battousai to the arrogant bastards who still hate me, have more exotic tastes.

I prefer the strong, independent ones. Perhaps they couldn't cook, and they couldn't make flower arrangements to save their lives, but they sure can swing a wooden sword…

Woo-hoo…watching Kaoru training has been extraordinarily appealing of late. I pride myself for having an objective and detached attitude when it comes to sword skill, particularly when Kaoru is involved. I want her to keep improving, to gain the ability to defend herself adequately when I couldn't be around to protect her, but right now…let's just say I'm not exactly detached…

Put it this way, the only contributions I've made to her training so far involved words like, "Do it again," which was only constructive to my raging desire.

I'm not quite sure what's come over me. Three months ago, when I finally got to tell Kaoru I love her, I was completely content with cuddling and taking care of her with shameless abandon. It was like that for about a month-and-a-half, earning Yahiko's numerous "blechs!" Sano's curled-lip grimaces, and driving Aoshi and Misao back to Kyoto before spring came around, but after that period of wholesome bliss, my feelings began to…shall I say, mature.

I really shouldn't be surprised. Where most men would object to Kaoru being in a gi and hakama, I looked forward to it. I don't know if it's because she has that sexy swish when she executes a sword form that would have otherwise been impossible in a kimono, or if it's because a hakama has these two slits…

Oh jeez! This is more than ten years of celibacy catching up on me. I mean, let's face it. It was bound to happen. Only a matter of time before my delight of Kaoru's exceptional mind and exceptionally sweet affections would turn to her exceptionally great…physique. It's the training. The fine toning and shape. Good god. I'm not even going to go into how well she can kiss.

I love her, but mercy me, love comes in many forms. Whenever I felt myself wanting her a bit too much, I found strength of restraint from her innocent, doe-like eyes. Problem is, the last time we…sparred, her eyes weren't so innocent, and they weren't so doe-like. No raccoon in there. Just smoldering, blue pools. I tell you, the wakazashi had a hard time of it.

Oro! What a horribly nasty pun!

I would have started hyperventilating if Yahiko hadn't stormed through the porch and yelled at us to "Get a room!"

I ought to have pounded on the boy, but Kaoru was so embarrassed that she said we should get some sleep. I was more inclined to think I ought to get a splash of cold water.

For goodness sakes, I thought I'd be distracted, what with the job I've taken and all.

Saitoh had bitten on his pride and asked me to be bodyguard to this attaché whom, I was told, is a star-witness to some yakuza crime connected with theatre-front dealings. Yep, you guessed it. It's Hiro. The man who humiliated me in the theatre in front of Kaoru and the whole audience by calling me a scalper and getting me to pass out in the process. Life is full of delightful ironies.

When Hiro saw me, he went on a rampage, saying that he wasn't going to be guarded by a fainting samurai. The self-consciousness I felt was immediately appeased by Saitoh's admission that I was the only one capable of beating him, the famed Mibu's Wolf. Quite coldly, I explained to Hiro that I had been suffering from an extreme bout of indigestion, and that such a thing would never happen if faced with real danger. Besides, I told him, if I was such a lousy swordsman, I would have lapped off his hand instead of his tickets. I think that was more than enough to convince him.

Loathed on owing anyone any favors, especially me, Saitoh made out the pay to be really good. With what he's been paying me, I'd soon have enough to buy Kaoru a nice engagement ring, and give her an equally nice wedding. I've decided to go with the ring because…well, I screwed up the last one I gave her. Goodness, I should have known that ring was bad news after having found it in a catfish! Kaoru hates catfish! Feh! Talk about omens…I should have smelled its fishy stink a mile away!

On the whole, the job took much of my time. There are nights when I couldn't even come home at all. I think that only served to make me miss Kaoru and long for her presence to impossible levels, and vice versa.

We certainly express this longing when the job grants me the occasional break.

Frankly, I don't know how much more of this holding back I can stand.

Whatever my pervert and non-pervert feelings were, I suppose I was, in the words of Shinomori Aoshi, causing a racket in the cosmos, because someone apparently picked up on my "inner struggle".

They say lightning never strikes the same place twice. Whoever said that first was a moron. Because by Kami-sama, no sooner did I get over dealing with one visitor when I had to deal with another…

The night was dark. It usually is, actually. But hey, I'm being mysterious here!

If I were better with my metaphors, I'd be holding a pen, not a sword! Although some would debate that a pen is mightier…feh! Where the gozaru was I?

Oh yes, the dark night.

Rain too, a freak spring shower, viciously pelting the roof of the house, complete with the flash of lightning and the loud clap of thunder.

I lie awake in bed, wondering about what I should do if Kaoru starts shouting in fear. She had always been frightened of thunder. Now I'm more frightened than she is, of what a hormone-crazy boyfriend can do to her, that is.

Waiting for her cries with some measure of dread and uncertainty, I was startled out of my wits when I heard something scraping the floor outside.

I sat up in bed, straining my ears against the noise of the storm.

It sounded like…someone dragging a sheathed sword along wood…

Yahiko?

I heard footsteps. Slow and heavy ones. That is not Yahiko.

Grabbing my sword, I rushed out of my room, crouched in the shadows.

The footsteps mixed with the howl of the wind. I don't know what it is, but it got the hairs on my back to stand at attention.

Shifting my eyes about, I skittered to the corners of the house, trying to find out where those footsteps were coming from.

Who the hell is this, walking through the house at this hour?

Another enemy? Oh crapper, no. Please, I can do without Kaoru being kidnapped again. I can do without another challenge to the Hitokiri Battousai.

My eye caught something turning another corner. Someone in white.

I glared.

Kisama, not this time!

Nobody's going to destroy Himura Kenshin's happiness again. I've had it with party poopers!

I followed with Hitokiri stealth.

When I rounded the bend, I saw no one.

Another prickly sensation went up my back. Must be the cold.

Sneaky bastard.

"Himura…" came an eerie whisper, right in my ear! I even felt some sort of breath...

Shit! Who the heck was that? I spun to look behind me, my gaze moving around while dependable ole sakabatou was ready for use.

I heard a door sliding open.

Goodness! Somebody's going to get it from me if they're anywhere near Kaoru's room!

Speeding to the rooms, I noted that it was Yahiko's door that was sliding shut.

My mind was going from one thought to another.

Oh man! I'll kill them if they lay a hand on the boy!

I charged with silent determination. I haven't felt this pissed off since Jin-eh had the nerve to take Kaoru away from me. With Enishi it was devastation, but with Jin-eh…let's just say Rakuninmura was far from my thoughts at the time.

I reached Yahiko's door and flung it open, unsheathing my sword and ready to pounce at any sign of danger.

Then there was silence.

Yahiko stared up at me with perplexed eyes, getting ready to pull the sheets over himself but frozen in mid-pull.

I looked around for any sign of an intruder.

"Dammit Kenshin! Don't you know how to knock?" Yahiko suddenly demanded, a frown on his face.

My gaze returned to him. "Where is he?"

"Eh? Where's who?" He asked, perplexity and irritation apparent in his voice. "Can't a person go to the bathroom around here and not be assassinated?"

Ouch. Bathroom? Okay, so he took a leak. It could have been him, but those footsteps…they weren't the footsteps of an eleven-year-old.

I sighed, still tense from the scare. "I am sorry, Yahiko-kun, but this unworthy one--"

"Himura…"

I clutched to a stance again, turning abruptly from Yahiko's room and towards the hallway.

"Did you hear that?" I asked Yahiko somewhat frantically.

Yahiko scowled. "I should've known you lost your marbles when you fell in love with Ugly," he muttered, tucking himself back into bed. "Close the door, will ya? You're letting the cold in."

A superbly loud crack thundered from the skies, startling even Yahiko and me in the process. It was also precisely at that moment Kaoru's frightened scream pierced the air.

Yahiko cursed and jumped out of bed.

I didn't even take time to utter an oath. I ran to her room with Yahiko in tow and we barged in, half expecting to see a stranger looming over her.

We saw nothing but a bundled and shivering form in the middle of her futon, whimpering a bit as the after-rumbles of the thunder sounded. She was alone.

I breathed a sigh of relief as Yahiko groaned.

"Great! The sissy-hag scared me shitless out of bed and now I have to get myself sleepy again," Yahiko complained. "What the hell does a person have to do to get some decent zzzs around here?"

"My love," I said, going to her and kneeling by her futon. "Is there something wrong?" I asked, soothing a hand on her blanketed back.

Uncoiling from her tight ball, she threw back her sheets and sought comfort in my embrace. Oro! I can actually feel her heart hammering through her chest! She's so afraid!

Yahiko rolled his eyes around. "G'Night. I'm going back to bed," he muttered, shutting the door as he left.

"Kaoru, is it the thunder?" I asked, nuzzling her sleep-disheveled hair with my nose.

She nodded without leaving the solace of my arms. "I'm sorry I scared you, Kenshin," she said, her voice muffled by my sleeping robe. "It's just…the first night I was really alone…when daddy went off to war…there was a storm…"

My heart wrenched. So that's why…I had no idea it was like that. I had just thought it was an ordinary childhood fear. I didn't know it ran so deep.

Well, if her thudding heart was any indication…

"Hush…" I said soothingly. "It's alright. You're not alone anymore, Kaoru."

She gave a sigh and we stayed the way we were in silence, the steady beat of the rain calming both our rattled nerves.

After a while, Kaoru pulled a bit away from me, smiling with little trace of the fear. "Arigato, Kenshin. I feel better now. I think I'll be able to--"

Her assurances were cut short by another blast of thunder, and she henceforth dove into my arms with a yelp.

"It's alright…" I whispered in her ear.

"K-Kenshin…can you…stay here…?"

I think that pounded more into my ears than the thunder ever did. Alrightee now. Who am I gonna do?

I mean…! WHAT am I gonna do?!

Oh brother. I'm having bad thoughts already!

Have to stay in control. Hiko didn't beat and pummel me into learning self-defiance just to go crazy with it sleeping next to this gorgeous…and utterly soft…

Yaaaarrrrgh! I can't do this!

"Please?" She piped.

I groaned inwardly. Heel, little-Kenshin.

Hiten Mitsurugi…Hiten Mitsurugi…Hiten Mitsurugi…I am one with the cosmos…

"Alright, Kaoru," I replied, trying to keep a straight face. "This unworthy one will stay right here. I will protect you from the thunder."

Kaoru giggled and got ready to sink into the sheets.

It's SO not helping that her robe is loosening at the front.

Bugger! If I can just close it a bit, this wouldn't be so hard.

Oro! It's an unintended pun! I swear!

When she was lying down, she scooted a bit to the side and held up the blanket for me to get into.

Anything to get my eyes off her exposure.

Lying down beside her, she fixed the blanket so it would be more secure over us and she shifted.

Kaoru snuggled against me, resting her head on one of my arms and nuzzling her nose against my chest. I can feel her warm breath and the slight press of her hip.

I can't even begin to tell anyone how that felt.

I put my other arm around her waist. The closeness is nice.

So I shouldn't do that if I want to stay in control. But…bite me! Couldn't blame me for liking it anyway!

"Are you comfy, Kenshin?" Kaoru asked.

"Y-Yes," I replied. This is going to be a long night.

Another clap of thunder.

She gave a whimper, and she shuddered, shaking in my arms.

My poor Kaoru. If only I could wipe that trauma away. If only I could make her less frightened. It pains me to think of the times she didn't have anyone to comfort her during storms like this before.

"Kaoru, it's alright," I cooed, lifting her face by her chin. "It's just a very loud sound. It can't hurt you."

"I--I feel like such a baby," she replied, blushing.

That adorable blush. I smiled and pushed some hair from off her forehead. "Go to sleep, my love. This unworthy one is not going anywhere. I promise."

She smiled and then did the unthinkable. She purrrrrred, with her eyes closing and all that.

Love and lust combined, it's deadly I tell you! Deadly!

Ooooh! Himura! C-Calm down! Don't look at her lips!

But I can't help it…it so beautiful…

She…moistened her lips with her tongue.

Oh sweet Lord! To hell with it! I'm lying beside the woman I love on a futon and I have my arms around her! Before that I roamed the country for ten years without getting some! What the hell does the rest of Japan expect of me, restraint? I dare anyone to have restraint under the same circumstances!

Lips, hers, mine.

I kissed her. That's right! I kissed her! So shoot me! Stone me to death! Just…just let me finish what I started, will you?

And who am I to stop when she started kissing back anyway?

I'm just an unworthy ex-rurouni. That's all. Poor me. Poor, poor me.

Especially when my poor little tongue began caressing hers.

Have sympathy on the ex-rurouni whose spent more than a decade without some much needed TLC.

Kaoru wrapped her arms around my neck and coaxed me to roll her beneath me.

Oh my goodness…much obliged…

"Hiiiimuraaaaa…"

What the--again?

I pulled my lips away, my breathing gone ragged. I looked up and over my shoulder. "D-Did you hear that?"

"No," she replied, grabbing me by the collar of my robe and claiming my lips once more.

If she says she heard nothing, then I heard nothing. No need to argue with her, right?

I can feel her hands slipping inside my robe.

No, no, no! We mustn't! I mustn't! We're not…married yet!

All right, voice of reason trying to clamor for some foothold here!

"K-Kaoru," I said, trying to get a word in between the kissing. "Are you sure this is…?"

"Kenshin…shut-UP!" She moaned, almost sounding frustrated.

Hell, I tried. No one could say I didn't. Let it be placed on record that I…

"Hiiiiiiimuraaaa…"

Not hearing it. Figment of my imagination. A result of hormones raging throughout my entire body. Delirium in the blessed madness…

Footsteps…again…

Not Yahiko's.

Heading straight for this room in slow, deliberate strides.

It's really wrecking the mood. Oh but those footsteps! Can't Kaoru hear them?

"Kaoru…" I struggled to say, my body-sense warring with my common sense as I kissed her and as my hand stubbornly refused to stop pulling at her sash. "I just have to…see…"

"Then see," she breathed, putting a tentative kiss on my throat.

I can tell she meant something else other than what I thought I was hearing outside her room.

She couldn't be blamed for that. I was trying to get her sash off while I said what I said. What is she supposed to think?

"No, I mean…outside…"

"There's nothing there, Kenshin," she said, pushing off some of my robe from off my shoulder.

At this point, it wouldn't take much to convince me, so I closed my eyes, gliding my hand to caress her neck, and then kiss it.

Her neck did this sultry little arch that would have driven me completely insane if the hair on my back didn't begin to rise yet again.

What the heck is wrong with me? Wasn't I supposed to feel…oh I don't know, hot? Have I been so long without it that my body isn't reacting correctly anymore?

Kaoru gasped, freezing all of a sudden.

I think she realized what we were doing and was suddenly terrified of the thought.

Oh man, of course I'll stop. For her, I can stop anytime, but God! It's gonna hurt! Muscle cramps and everything.

"Kaoru, if you don't want to, it's okay," I said, panting. I looked at her face.

Shock was written all over it.

Well, I think that's just a wee bit extreme…

"Himura! What the hell do you think you're doing?" Barked an absolutely unfamiliar voice.

I didn't even bother to see who it was. I sprung to my feet, grabbing my reversed edge sword, my sakabatou, nearby and faced whoever. Standing between Kaoru and the source of the voice, I clutched into position, not caring if I looked a bit ruffled from my tumble with Kaoru.

It was a man. Taller than me but just slightly. He had long flowing black hair, tied loosely at the back. He stood calm, composed, not at all discomfited by my threatening glare. Actually, he looked pissed. Extremely so.

"Identify yourself, I say!" I demanded, sizing him up. He wore a white gi and hakama. Yes, quite possibly the flash of white I spotted earlier. On his hip was a bokken. A strange one. It didn't look like it was made of wood. Ivory? Funny, I didn't know one can have ivory in that length. I must be wrong. If the muscles on his arms are any indication, he has certainly held a sword.

He was about to speak to me when his gaze turned to Kaoru who had sat up on the futon, the expression of appalled wonder still on her face. A worried frown knotted the man's eyebrows.

Kaoru gasped, her eyes widening, mouth hanging open.

"Y-You can see me?" He asked Kaoru a little hesitantly.

"O…" Kaoru began.

I thought she was going to say "Oro!" I'm certainly inclined to do so, but what she said next blew me totally off course.

"O..tousan…?"

Did she just call him Father?!?! B-But…HE'S DEAD!

The man sighed and shook his head. "Ho boy…somebody screwed up…"

Kaoru's eyes promptly rolled up into her head and she fainted.

Author's note: Kewl…isn't this a nice little reunion? Well, go on. Next chapter.