A/N: Please keep in mind that this is my first fanfic ever! Hopefully, I'll get better as time passes, but for now, please bear with me. Also, please review!
DISCLAIMER: I do not own Rurouni Kenshin, though I really wish I did…
A MIND MADE UP
Kenshin loved her with all of his heart and soul; however, he hadn't told her…yet. Sometimes he wondered if he'd ever tell her. Half of him still argued that he shouldn't tell her, that he didn't deserve her love; yet his other half argued that he, and only he, was her happiness. Lately, the latter half of the argument seemed to be coming out strong.
Kenshin continued to argue with himself as he stepped out of the dojo. Once outside, his breath caught in his throat. There she was. Kaoru. She took his breath away. She always did. Silently, he stood, rooted to the spot. All he could do was gaze at her. He stood there and observed the sun dancing across her hair, causing the long, raven locks to gleam. His eyes moved to her face and he smiled at how the sun caused her cerulean eyes to sparkle. 'Mine,' his mind whispered.
"Oh, Kenshin! I didn't see you standing there!" exclaimed a surprised Kaoru, although, secretly she knew. Everyone in the world seemed to think she was oblivious to Kenshin's feeling towards her, only she wasn't oblivious. Sure, it had taken longer for her to recognize the signs of his love for her, longer than it had taken everyone else, but she knew. And now she was going to use that knowledge to her advantage.
"Gomen, Kaoru-dono. This one didn't want to interrupt you. You seemed so peaceful," said a startled Kenshin. He hadn't known that she noticed his presence.
"Of course, Kenshin. It's been a while since the Shishio and Enishi incidents. This is the first time in a long time that I've been able to just sit and breathe. It's good for you to relax once in a while, ne?"
"Hai. While we sit enjoying the sun, sessha will make some tea for us to also enjoy."
"Sure. I'll help you," Kaoru stated with a sly grin.
"Oro? It's quite simple, Kaoru-dono. Just rest while I make it."
"Okay, okay," Kenshin said rather reluctantly. "I'll get water, why don't you start the fire?"
"Sure" said Kaoru. However, she had other things in mind…
When Kenshin returned with the water, he noticed that Kaoru had not yet lit the fire in the stove, so he asked, "Kaoru-dono, why have you not yet lit the stove?"
Kaoru replied, "I was waiting for you to get back with the water, first."
At this, Kenshin was confused. 'I thought I told her to start the fire while I fetched the water…oh well, I'll just have to light it myself.' Kenshin set the water on the stove and as he did, Kaoru brushed past him to light it. Kenshin inhaled sharply, she hadn't just brushed by him. It seemed as if she purposely brushed past him, causing her chest to brush against his arm, sending shivers down his spine. He almost groaned aloud at the feeling of her breasts lightly passing his arm.
"Is everything okay, Kenshin?"
'Oh no. She must have heard me!" Kenshin almost panicked. "H-h-hai, Kaoru-dono. Everything is fine."
"If you say so," came Kaoru's reply. Inside, she was actually grinning to herself. She's not stupid; she had seen his reaction and that satisfied her. 'Maybe Tae-san was right after all. I do need to be a bit more…bold.' Granted, though, she wasn't so sure what exactly "bold" meant. If all it meant was acting a little bit more brazen than she normally did, she could surely do it.
After they were done making the tea, the pair decided to move outside in order to enjoy their beverages. For a while they sat in comfortable silence, simply enjoying the quiet day and each other's company. Suddenly, Kenshin asked, nervously, "Ano, Kaoru-dono, where has Yahiko gone off to?"
"He's working at the Akabeko, remember? Tae-san was telling me he may be spending the night over there because it's a Friday night and you know they need all the help they can get. They seem to get a ton of customers on Friday nights and every time Yahiko comes home from work, he's usually exhausted."
"I see," was all Kenshin could manage. He felt a little uncomfortable with the idea of Kaoru and him spending the night alone, together. 'Wait a minute! Alone…together?! Where had that though come from? We'll be in separate rooms, not alone and together, of course.' That thought seemed to calm him down.
"Kenshin," Kaoru called, leaning towards him just a bit, so that the front of her kimono revealed just a little too much, "what are we having for dinner?"
Kenshin could barely think, let alone breathe. He was sure she had said something, but his mind was spinning at the moment. He couldn't seem to tear his eyes away from her seductive play. He swallowed thickly, "Oro?"
"Kenshin! Are you listening?!" Kaoru glared at him. But inside, Kaoru was grinning like a Cheshire cat. 'It's workingggggggg' she hummed to herself.
Kenshin recovered and replied "Hai. I don't know. I'll have to go to the market."
"Would you like me to come with you?"
"No, that's okay Kaoru-dono. Why don't you take a bath? I'll prepare one for you now. By the time you are finished, I'll be back from the market."
"Okay," Kaoru easily agreed. 'This will give me time to think of my next move,' she thought to herself.
As Kenshin prepared her bath, Kaoru put the dishes away in the kitchen and ran to her room to gather her bath items. She walked out of her room and headed to the bath house. When the bath house came into view, she heard Kenshin call "Kaoru-dono, your bath is ready!"
"Thanks!" Kaoru yelled, as she walked inside for her bath. Upon entering, she put her things aside, undressed, and stuck her foot in the bath. 'Aaaaahhhhh. The temperature is perfect," she thought to herself as she eased into the tub.
Kenshin walked to the market, thoughts running amuck in his head. 'Why was Kaoru-dono acting so Megumi-like?' he asked himself. (He didn't know a better word to describe Karou's behavior.) 'Am I imagining things? Is Kaoru really acting so…so…bold?' So engrossed was he in his thoughts, he failed to notice that he had reached the market. Distractedly, he wandered over to the man selling fish. Then, he walked over to the woman selling rice. It went on like this for almost half an hour, until he had everything he wanted. Before leaving the area, he double checked his supplies: soy sauce, miso, tofu, fish, rice, seasonings. 'Good. I have everything I need.' Just when he was about to walk towards the dojo, he ran into Yahiko. "Yahiko, what are you doing out here? Aren't you supposed to be working at the Akabeko right now?"
"Uh, yeah," replied a surprised Yahiko, his mind raced, "I'm taking a break right now." 'Phew' that was a good lie, he thought to himself. He couldn't let Kenshin know that Kaoru kicked him out of the dojo for a few days, at least until she could get Kenshin to agree to marriage. 'Ugh,' Yahiko scoffed at the thought. That busu wouldn't need a couple of days; she'd need a couple of years! Unless…
"Oh," said Kenshin, "I'm on my way home. I hear you might be staying at Tae-dono's tonight. If you get off early enough, though, you can join Kaoru and I for dinner."
"Sure. Hey! Have you been to that new merchant? She sells all sorts of odds and ends. Maybe you can find something there for Kaoru," Yahiko replied innocently, "I've seen this really pretty hairpin that she might like." In reality, he wanted busu and Kenshin together. He was tired of watching them and waiting for something to happen. He knew that Kaoru was taking action on her end, but that would take forever! Plus, he could always help her out, right?
Kenshin was confused. He hardly ever heard Yahiko call Kaoru "Kaoru," the young man usually called her "busu" and certain other choice words, but hardly ever "Kaoru." In any case, Kenshin decided he had a little bit of time to check out this new merchant, "Um, okay," came his reply."
Yahiko lead him on and they stopped at the very end of the market and turned to the merchant on their right. "Here it is," said Yahiko. Kenshin stopped and peered at the goods the woman was selling. The woman smiled at him, "I have many things for sale that will surely impress your girlfriend or special friend. I have these Western rings that those Westerners use to propose marriage to people and I have beautiful hairpins that will surely match one or all of your beloved's kimonos. Here, I also have these things you call 'snow globes.'" At that, Kenshin looked at her curiously, so she explained, "You turn them upside down and then right side up." She picked up a snow globe and showed him what she meant. As the sparkles came tumbling down on the figures below it, Kenshin smiled. 'That is something Kaoru-dono would definitely enjoy.' However, the Western rings had also caught his eye. There was one ring in particular that stood out. It was a beautiful blue, sapphire ring, surrounded by little diamonds. The band was made of silver and was made so that it twisted underneath the sapphire jewel. 'Exquisite,' thought Kenshin, 'Just like Kaoru. The jewel even reminds me of her eyes.' He soon shook himself out of his reverie to ask the woman how much it cost. She looked at him and said, "Normally, I'd sell it for 5000," Kenshin's eyes widened, "but for you, I'll sell it for 1500. You look like a good man and I'm sure the woman you choose will be just as upstanding."
Kenshin smiled, "Please don't sell this ring. I think I'll come back for it," and with that, he was off, back to the dojo to prepare dinner. Yahiko all but forgotten about...
Kaoru had just finished her bath. She was now in her room when she caught the smell of miso soup. She smiled, then she took one last, long, hard look at herself in the mirror. Tonight, she definitely out-did herself. She had applied some make up, donned her best kimono, and brushed out her long hair. Tonight was a special night and she was wearing her hair down.
Kenshin noticed Kaoru's presence the moment she stepped into the room. Not only could he sense her, but he could smell her, too. She smelled like jasmines. He inhaled deeply and turned towards her. When he saw her, he almost dropped his bowl. 'She looks amazing!'
Kaoru smiled at his response. "Mmmm. It smells good. What are we having?"
Kenshin's mouth moved up and down, but no sound came out.
"Kenshin?" Kaoru questioned.
"Kaoru-dono, you look amazing!" Kenshin blushed at his comment.
"Thank you," Kaoru said, also blushing. "So, what's for dinner?"
'Dinner!' Kenshin had almost forgotten about dinner. "Miso soup, rice, and catfish," he stammered, unable to take his eyes off of her.
"Ano, Kenshin, you keep staring at me and it's making me a bit uncomfortable," Kaoru pouted prettily.
"Gomen, Kaoru-dono. I don't mean to stare. It's just that, you're so breath-taking." Kenshin couldn't finish.
Kaoru blushed furiously, 'This is what I want, so why am I as red as a tomato?!' she mused.
"Arigato. Can we please eat now? I'm starving!"
Kaoru sat down next to Kenshin and began to serve him. Every time she passed him a dish or poured his soup or cup of tea, she made sure that she brushed past him. She wanted to touch him as much as possible. Every time she touched him, her skin tingled and she was willing to bet that he felt the same.
Inside, Kenshin was burning. Her touches weren't making him tingle, they were searing his skin! He was shook down to his very core. 'If this woman doesn't stop touching me soon, I am going to go insane!' At that last thought, he finally noticed that she had finished serving him. In fact, she was already done eating and was politely staring at him.
"Kenshin, aren't you going to eat?"
"Kaoru. What do you think of me?"
It took Kaoru sometime to answer that. Her mind was too busy reeling over what she'd just heard. 'Did he just call me Kaoru and not Kaoru-dono?? No. My mind is just playing tricks on me.'
"Why do you ask?"
"Sessha has been arguing with himself lately. I've lived here for over two years. You have welcomed me into your home and into your life. I can't help but love you for it. However, there is a part of me that tells me that I shouldn't attach myself with you. So, this one would like to know your opinion on the matter."
"Kenshin, you know how I feel about you. Why even ask?
"I just want to reassure myself."
"I love you, Kenshin. That's all. I love you," Kaoru said, simply.
"Sessha. No. I thank you for your honesty," Kenshin said as he moved closer. Now, it was his turn to make her squirm. He tilted his face towards her as Kaoru tilted hers back. 'Is he going to kiss me?' she thought with a blush. Kenshin stopped millimeters from her lips. "Is it okay if I kiss you, koishii?" he breathed. Kaoru could only nod her head, her voice having left her.
His head descended slowly upon hers and he merely brushed his lips with hers. However, that one little action caused her heart to slam against her ribs. He brushed his lips past hers again and she sighed. When he heard this, he pressed his lips to hers a little more boldly, coaxing her mouth open. When she obliged, he delved in with his tongue, stroking and exploring every inch of her mouth. She kissed him back just as fervently, her tongue exploring him, battling with him, and caressing him. His hand reached out and stroked her cheek and her arms. Finally, his hand came to rest on the small of her back, urging her closer. Kami-sama, her body felt like it was on fire! When he finally pulled back, she was dazed.
Inwardly, Kenshin chuckled at the look on her face. 'I can play this game, too, koishii.'
"I think it's time for bed, Kaoru."
'What?!' her mind screamed, 'That's all I get?!' Though her mind was in turmoil, she hmph-ed and said, "Hai."
"Oyasumi nasai, Kenshin."
"Oyasumi nasai, Kaoru."
After Kenshin had seen her off to bed, he'd made up his mind. He would ask her to marry him. Damn that other voice in his head! He quickly cleaned the kitchen and looked outside. It wasn't too late, maybe he could make it to the market in time, before the lady left.
Kenshin checked to make sure Kaoru was sleeping before stepping out of the dojo. He walked quickly and quietly through the still night air.
He reached the merchant in record time. It looked like she was the last one to leave for the night… As he walked up, she lifted her head and smiled at him. "I knew you'd be back," was all she said as she handed him the sapphire ring. He puzzled over this and silently handed her the money.
"Arigato," Kenshin said.
"You're welcome. Best of luck to you, I'm sure she's a special lady." With that, Kenshin turned and walked back home.
When he neared the dojo gates, his heart started beating faster. Now that he finally had a ring in hand, could he really wait until the morning to ask her? 'No,' his mind commanded, 'Ask her now.' Yet another part of his mind taunted 'You're making a mistake! You've too much blood on your hands to be able to touch something as pure as her!' Kenshin pushed the latter thought out of his mind. He'd already made his decision and he was going to go through with it. Damn what that other voice was trying to say. After all, he'd spent more than enough time atoning for his sins. Even if he hadn't, Kaoru would be the light at the end of his tunnel. She would be that light for him for the rest of his life…or so he hoped.
Kenshin entered the property and went straight to Kaoru's room. He didn't bother to knock; he just slid the shoji door open and stepped inside. He closed the door behind him and walked to her futon. He knelt beside her sleeping form and took her in. His eyes roved lovingly over her face, her long, braided hair, and her slender form. 'Mine,' his mind whispered for the second time that day.
He took her hand and kissed it, willing her to wake up. At the feel of his mouth on her hand, he saw her stir. He lazily flicked his tongue against the back of her hand and she sat bolt upright in bed. "Kenshin!" she screeched when she saw him, "What are you doing?!"
"Waiting for you to wake, koishii." When she heard that endearment, her eyes filled with tears. How long had she waited to hear those words? "Kaoru, I love you and I simply couldn't wait until tomorrow morning to tell you."
"Kenshin, I…" Kenshin put a finger to her lips to stop her.
"Please, koishii, let me finish. I have loved you for quite some time, now. But, inside, I was always battling with myself. Tonight, when you told me you loved me, I made a decision. I would like you to be my wife." He took the ring out from his gi, "Kaoru, would you please do me the honor of accepting my request?"
Kaoru smiled as tears began spilling out of her eyes, "YES! YES! YES!"
Kenshin slipped the ring on her finger and murmured "Now, where were we before I sent you off to bed?" He quickly bent his head and took her lips as he slipped into her bed. Kaoru wrapped her arms around him and returned the kiss. They stayed like that for what seemed like hours, the both of them content with just kissing. In the back of their minds, though, they thought 'So much more will come after the wedding…'