Author's Note: No excuses, guys! I'm just going to apologise for how ridiculously long it's taken me to write this final chapter and hope that the smut makes up for it! My first lemon in my first story! Enjoy!

Chapter Fifteen

The days drifted by, each one seeming longer than the last. While the others were recovering perfectly, despite Misao's stubborn refusal to rest, Kaoru's wound wasn't healing as well as the doctors had hoped, an infection pushing back her recuperation and causing them to hold her in for observation. The only person who didn't seem concerned by this fact was a young male nurse who came in to check on her every day, always conveniently while Kenshin was out of the way. His large smile quite clearly stating he didn't mind much having her around.

Yahiko also came in daily for at least an hour and took to bringing his bokken along. The room was just large enough at the end of the bed to allow him to demonstrate the katas he'd been practicing so she could give him tips on his posture and movements as he did so. She'd regretfully suggested he enter a different school or have someone else train him until she was back on her feet, but he refused vehemently. He'd obviously been working hard in her absence and she barely needed to correct him. With pride, she realised she'd need to start teaching him the advanced katas once the doctors let her back on her feet.

Misao also came for a while every day although Kaoru was beginning to hope she wouldn't. Misao was physically incapable of shutting up about how wonderful Aoshi was for more than a minute at a time and by the end of each visit Kaoru wasn't only desperate to escape her bed but also her ability to hear. It wasn't that she didn't feel happy for her friend. She loved that Misao had finally got the man she'd longed for all these years. She'd been overjoyed to hear all about it when at last they'd got a moment alone together. It was just that she didn't want to be privy to each word Aoshi spoke or every tiny nuance of his expression as he did so. More than that though, it was the fact that every time she heard of the small, thoughtful things the Okashira did, it only served to highlight how distant Kenshin had become.

He hadn't showed any signs of Battousai since that first day and the change made Kaoru anxious. He treated her with all the care and concern in the world, never leaving her room for anything longer than a nap in case she needed anything. Yet, somehow his behaviour felt empty as though he were simply going through the motions.

She couldn't help being restless, constantly watching him out of the corner of her eye for some sign of what he was thinking or what he was planning to do. She disgusted herself with how her heart dropped and her chest constricted every time he left the room, unable to shake the idea that he wouldn't come back.

The others noticed her agitation, but they seemed to chalk it up to her dislike of being trapped in bed and she supposed they weren't entirely wrong. She hadn't been allowed to do more than take short walks down to the cafeteria since the operation to remove the bullet and she could feel her conditioning dwindle with each passing day. It made her antsy, aggravated by the fact that mentally she was ready, even energised, while physically the simplest task left her winded.

Sano and Megumi dropped in once a week too and she could always tell when one of their visits was about to happen. She could sense from her room how the doctors and nurses tensed every time the private physician stepped out of the lift. The first time Megumi had come, she'd carefully inspected Kaoru's medical chart and then proceeded to inform the staff on duty not just all the things they could improve on but also all the things they had been doing wrong. Since then she had become a pariah. According to the chatty male nurse, rumours about the evil witch doctor had spread throughout the hospital. Only they didn't say witch.

Sano, on the other hand, was a major hit. His boyish charm and easy sense of humour attracted not just the women but the men as well, often causing serious internal conflict among the hospital employees when he and Megumi both came at once. They seemed unable to decide whether to brave the cold, superiority of the one for the warmth and friendliness of the other.

There were two incidents during her hospital stay, however, which shook up this seemingly established and increasingly frustrating routine. The first was an informative visit from a lawyer in an incredibly expensive suit. He notified her, after a lengthy and highly insincere expression of his condolences at the tragic loss of her husband, that Shishio had left no will, probably, she surmised, because he hadn't expected to be the one to die. She kept that information to herself, however. In consequence, Kaoru stood as the sole beneficiary to all Shishio's worldly possessions, including the multi-million dollar company he owned, an irony which did not escape her.

She wasn't sure how she felt about this new windfall being added to her already substantial, though in her opinion dirty, wealth. She couldn't help feeling that more blood had been left to stain her hands. Dissolving the companies, however, was sadly not a viable option. The job losses would be astronomical and the shareholders would be up in arms, the effort and legal battles it would take to go through with it involving energy she didn't think she'd be able to muster for a long time. Instead, talking it over later with Aoshi and Kenshin, she chose to merge the two enterprises together, putting a trusted man at the top to ensure that the surplus weapons already manufactured would only go to the right places. Meanwhile, she would set up a facility to research how to improve body armour and other forms of protection against the arms her company had previously produced. Unfortunately, Kenshin was not overly happy with the man she had picked to oversee this. Yet, in this she did not take his advice. To her, her godfather was the obvious choice, and the fact that Saitou didn't get on with her red haired assassin wasn't about to stop her from following her instincts.

It wasn't just the increase in her affluence that was news to her that day, however. All through the interview with the lawyer she had had to rely on the man's obvious belief in her deep grief at the passing of her husband to explain her constant silence. It was only after he had been safely escorted and dispatched in the lift by her "bodyguard", Kenshin, and the "head of security" for her company, Sano, that Kaoru was finally brought up to speed with what exactly was supposed to have happened that day at the compound.

Apparently, during her wedding reception, as far as the authorities could gather, an unknown rival company had taken the opportunity of finding in one place the CEOs of the two largest arms distributors in the world, hiring a hit squad to remove the competition. Before security had discovered and managed to fight off the threat, several innocent bystanders had been killed, including Shishio's sister, Yumi Makoto, and Kaoru's financial advisor, Takeda Kanryu, who had been found with his throat slit in the wine cellar of the main house. Kaoru found she was only mildly disturbed at her own intense delight hearing about the death of the man responsible for her father's murder, and only slightly more distressed at the disappointment she felt at having not been able to do the job herself. Though it seemed she could not give up her principles for her father in life, she had a feeling she would have in order to avenge his death, even if it had meant destroying a part of herself. It was a good thing this theory had not needed to be tested.

According to sources, including several prominent members of society who had been guests at the event, just before the guards could rush to the rescue, one of the assassins had found the newlyweds. Shishio, her brave and beloved groom, had thrown himself in front of Kaoru to save her from a bullet, but sadly it had passed straight through him, killing him instantly and entering her chest almost fatally wounding her too. Shishio's young ward, Seta Soujiro, had witnessed the whole brutal scene and the trauma had sent him into a state of catatonia from which he had yet to recover. He was now in a rehabilitation clinic Kaoru had hand selected from her hospital bed despite her own grave physical condition because she could not bear the thought of her darling deceased's adopted son receiving anything but the best care. Sano had had to pause at this point to regain his ability to take in oxygen, the look on her face nearly tipping him from his chair laughing, before assuring her Soujiro was in an Ishin Shishi stronghold getting their own brand of reeducation so that he could turn his skills to something more society friendly. She wasn't sure this was entirely better.

All the same, Kaoru was baffled. This account of what had happened was so incredible, so ridiculous, she couldn't understand how anyone would believe it. It was like a melodrama. Then again maybe the fact that it was so fantastical made it impossible for anyone not to. After all, who would come up with a lie that bad? Somehow though, while outrageous, this version of events still seemed underwhelming compared to what they'd actually all been through.

The second event was only slightly less shocking and happened near the end of her hospital stay. Her male nurse had observed one day how impatient she was becoming about getting exercise, pointing out that, unless she had ants in her pants, he didn't understand why she couldn't seem to manage to lie still. She'd snapped at him to mind his own business, sending him scurrying, but the next day he'd returned and let slip that he'd actually taken a course in physiotherapy during his training. He proposed that rather than her injuring herself trying to do too much too soon, he'd do her a favour by coming in once a day to go through some basic workouts with her to keep her from losing her mind. She'd jumped at the chance and since then every time Kenshin left for the nap he always took while she was supposed to be having her own the young man would come in and help her.

She was lying back in bed on the day it happened, doing the gentle leg exercises they'd built into the routine. He stood over her, holding her leg as she did slow bicycle kicks, his grip light to the point of a caress to ensure he was not supporting her as he moved his hand to her thigh, steadying and correcting her movement. Exasperatingly, they were only halfway through the process and she was already ridiculously flushed and out of breath. She took solace, however, from the fact that the nurse clearly wasn't any kind of athlete himself, unable even to help her with her regimen without getting all hot and bothered himself.

The gym shorts Misao had been instructed to bring her in the deepest secret had ridden up a little and she tried for the hundredth time to yank them down without much success.

'Gym clothes,' her male nurse tutted, laughing. 'They never behave.'

Resting one hand on the back of her thigh just below the knee, he shifted to bend forward somewhat unnecessarily close as he helped her to tug them into place with the other.

'You know, Kaoru, I heard you're going to be released soon,' he murmured sadly, surprising her by not moving back. 'And I don't think I can pass up the once in a lifetime opportunity of meeting such a beautiful woman round this dump, you know, so I was thinking I'd give you my number and we could meet up when you're all healed.'

When all she did was stare, he grinned wickedly, thumb stroking the inside of her thigh and setting off a trail of goose bumps.

'Or you know if you need some personal care, I can always make home visits. After all I have to help the injured what with my Hippocratic Oath and all.'

Kaoru blinked up at him as he smirked cockily down at her. While he'd flirted with her all through her stay, she couldn't help but be a little surprised at this sudden brazen attitude. She got the feeling that perhaps it wasn't only her looks that were attracting him.

Before she could gather enough of her scattered wits to make a reply, a deep, angry voice did it for her.

'The Hippocratic Oath is for doctors,' it rumbled. 'Speaking of which, I think they might be interested to hear that one of their nurses has been not only harassing a grieving widow in her hospital bed but also endangering her recovery.'

Both Kaoru and the young man looked up, startled, to find Kenshin standing in the doorway, hand gripping the handle so tightly his knuckles were white with the strain. Except this wasn't the Kenshin mask she was becoming used to, the swirling shades of gold and amber in his eyes telling Kaoru and her suddenly erratically beating heart that this was the Battousai. Those telltale eyes were trained on the male nurse's hands where they still lay against her skin.

Fleetingly, she thanked her lucky stars that a week or so earlier the doctors had deemed her heart rate monitor unnecessary, turning it off, or she was sure the hospital staff would have come running, thinking she was having a coronary.

The male nurse shot away from her as though his flesh burned from her touch, stammering apologies and she barely noticed. All thought, all consciousness of her surroundings zeroed in as his intense gaze slid over her, gliding across her body as though he were visually claiming every part, and that was what it felt like. The way he looked at her sent tingles running through her entire body, reminding her that even hidden beneath his disguise, he still wanted her and he still saw her in that same breathtakingly possessive way.

Both ignored the nurse as he edged his way out of the room, pleading all the way. The fact that Battousai let him leave so easily stunned her. After all, the only other man to have hit on her in Battousai's presence had ended up nearly strangled and thrown across a dance floor. It was only then that she became aware of how much tension laced his frame and the way his hands shook with the need to grab the fleeing man. Battousai was holding himself back by a thread of control and, looking into his roiling amber gaze, she realised with a thrill that it was for her.

She was enthralled, heart in her throat, and the decision wasn't even conscious. She was on her knees on the bed before her mind had even caught up with her instincts, arms reaching. It was like she was a moth, aware of the danger of being scorched but so captivated by the flame that the idea of staying away was impossible.

One of his hands found its way into her hair, tangling the strands around his fingers as the other slid around her waist, pulling her to him. They fit like puzzle pieces, her soft melting into his hard.

He didn't kiss her, but he didn't have to. She pressed her face into his shoulder, the fabric of his shirt faintly rough against her skin, and she was so close she felt the shuddering sigh ripple through his body.

Then suddenly something was different. It wasn't anything obvious but somehow in the way he held her she could feel his need. It was as though his sense of desperation was transmitting into her. She clung to him as he fisted the back of her top, half-dragging her to him, half-pulling her away.

He dropped his head to rest against her hair, breathing ragged.

'You're mine,' he ground out, voice vibrating with the strength of his conviction. 'You will always be mine.'

Kaoru shivered deliciously at his words. Not long ago they would have scared her, made her feel trapped, but now they just curled warmth through her. He would never hurt her she knew that now. She smiled against his neck, nodding her assent.

'Now who's harassing the grieving widow?' she teased lightly.

As soon as the words slipped from her mouth she knew she'd said the wrong thing. Closing her eyes, she clenched her fists in the fabric of his shirt, trying to stop him pulling away as he went rigid in her arms, but the damage was done.

He wasn't violent about it. Gently prying her fingers loose, he simply stepped back out of her reach.

'Forgive me, Kaoru-dono,' he said, trying and failing to control his voice into the smooth tenor he hid behind.

When Kaoru opened her eyes, he was gone.

Kenshin barely made physical contact with her again after that. If he did have to touch her it was in lightning fast brushes as though any longer and his hand might shrivel up and drop off.

As the nurse had said, she was soon released from the hospital to return home. Between her months of concealment with the Oniwabanshu, her time with Battousai and her capture by Shishio, it had been almost exactly a year since she'd last seen her small one bedroom apartment above her dojo and at first she was so overjoyed at finding everything safe that she forgot the pain of Kenshin's emotional withdrawal.

When she'd shuffled slowly through the front door, having refused point blank to have a wheel chair or be carried like an infant, she had been greeted by fierce meowing and a bundle of fur nearly tripping her as it tangled about her feet. She'd bent down gingerly to pick up the much larger Kitten Kenshin, a pang of raw guilt catching her heart at the fact that she had entirely forgotten the poor cat's existence in all the chaos that had ensued after her arrival at the Oniwabanshu safe house. It had quickly been replaced by amusement, however, as Misao informed her that she'd practically had to pry the adorable feline from Hannya's grasp to get her back. Apparently the stealth specialist had taken a great liking to Kitten Kenshin, adopting her and teaching her covert tactics. Okon had been tearing her hair out trying to work out how the carefully stored meat and fish had been disappearing.

Someone had obviously been in to clean and stock the place. It was actually in better condition than when she'd last been there. When she'd carried her cat into the kitchen in search of something to give her as an apology, the fridge and cupboards had been full of food everyone knew she couldn't possibly manage to cook herself. It had sent a bubble of hope coursing through her that her fears might not come to fruition, that her redhead was staying with her.

Initially, her optimism seemed justified. While he still kept his distance, Kenshin cooked, cleaned and cared for her like a most devoted partner, actually overprotective in his attempts to keep her from straining herself.

That all changed the day after her doctors gave her the all clear to begin building up her training again. She was lounging on the sofa, having tired herself out with a slightly overexerting self-congratulatory workout in her beloved dojo, when her world came crumbling down.

'Kaoru-dono, Sessha must go, that he must,' Kenshin murmured, coming over to place some miso on the coffee table beside her.

She rolled her eyes, holding a curious kitten back from sticking her nose into the soup before picking it up to take a sip.

'We've got enough food, Kenshin. You don't need to go to the supermarket again!' She quipped, happily.

There was a heavy beat of silence and she hesitantly looked up. Kenshin was standing with his shoulders hunched, shuffling in that odd little way he had. He wasn't looking at her. Very carefully, she put the miso back down on the table. Kitten Kenshin had clearly learned more than just stealth from Hannya, seeming to sense the tension that suddenly filled the room as she slipped quietly from her comfortable position and vanished.

Deep down she'd known this was coming with the certainty of a person who had spent the last Kami knew how many weeks trapped with a man who treated her alternately like a china doll and a contagious disease. Strangely, it was almost like a pressure she hadn't even known was there eased off her chest. Then it returned twofold. She'd known, yet that didn't stop the hurt that threatened to consume her as he brought her worst fears to life. Neither did it help the overwhelming rage that followed. In that moment she wanted to beat the concerned, meek little servant look off his face until there was nothing left.

'Forgive Sessha, Kaoru-dono. This is for the best. If Sessha does not go, you will always be in danger.'

He reached out for the first time in weeks to intentionally touch her, brushing his hand across her cheek.

She slapped it away with an audible crack, lips pulling away from her teeth in a sneer of disgust. The coward was using her as an excuse, pretending that the reason he was leaving was for her. What garbage! This was never about her. He had nearly lost her and he was scared. No, scared wasn't strong enough, he was terrified by the intensity of his own fear of losing her. He couldn't hack it, so he was running away and she'd be damned if she was going to be his excuse to walk out that door.

'Please, Kaoru-dono, don't you see? As long as Sessha is with you, you will be in danger. I have to go for your safety. What Sessha does, what Sessha must do, will always make you a target and he can't let that happen. He must…'

'Shut up!' She screamed, jumping to her feet. 'For once just shut up with your damn self-punishment! Kami, I think you actually enjoy being a bloody martyr!'

Kenshin closed his mouth with an audible click, nodding resignedly. He clasped his hands neatly before him and bowed low, retreating to the door. Gripping the handle, he turned to give her one last look.

'In time, Kaoru-dono, you will understand that what Sessha is doing is for the best.'

Kaoru opened her mouth to hiss a venomous retort, but paused at his expression. The intense pain she felt was mirrored in the lines at the corners of his mouth and eyes, but there was something else, something she could only describe as relief easing the burden of his suffering. A stab of agony caught the air in her lungs and she reeled back. He was relieved to be rid of her? His gaze flickered with concern, the relief vanishing, and she realised with a sudden flash of intuition that this strange consolation came with her anger. He wanted her angry, was deliberately trying to make her so, because if there was anger there was no hurt to hold him back. He was acting this way on purpose!

Tamping down on the urge to rip him apart, she forcibly pushed aside the fury that was holding the floodgates closed. She refused to keep him with her out of guilt, but she would not make it easy for him to leave her either. If she was going to suffer then he was going to suffer more.

'I guess I'll give Takumi a call then. You remember that nice nurse, right? He came back and gave me his number after you left,' she lied, feigning nonchalance. 'I'm sure he'd be happy to come over and spend time with me.'

He didn't turn but his hand flexed against the door handle, fingers clenching until the knuckles stood out stark white. She could almost see the concerted effort it took to regain control, air trickling from his lungs as he forced himself to relax. His voice, however, had dropped a few octaves.

'Sessha understands. It will take some time, but when you see you will appreciate what he is doing.'

Turning the handle, he paused.

'Goodbye, Kaoru-dono.'

The bowl of miso shattered against the door by his head but he didn't flinch, the burning liquid splashing across his face and the porcelain shards slicing into his cheek. Dark blood and soup mingled to trickle a slow stream down his neck. She didn't care, couldn't stop even if she wanted to, all the frustration, the anger, the pain, it had burst its dam and nothing was going to change its course.

'Don't patronise me, you arrogant son of a bitch! I know perfectly well what's going on. Did it even occur to you that maybe, just maybe, this wasn't about you! Shishio wanted me, my money, my company, me! It had nothing to do with you or your stupid, piece of crap organisation. It had nothing to do with you!'

She stopped for a moment to draw in a shuddering breath but she wasn't done yet, not even close. It made her skin crawl with a mixture of dread and rage the way he just stood there with his back turned as though he didn't care, neither leaving nor staying. She was terrified that if she stopped talking he'd go. She wanted him to face her.

'Bet it stings, doesn't it?' She jeered. 'You were just an obstacle, collateral damage! The great and mighty Battousai, not the center of fucking attention for once in his life.'

Finally he whirled round to face her and a gasp lodged itself inside her throat. His shaggy fringe only half concealed eyes like molten lava, churning shades of amber coalescing into dark, dilated pupils.


Warning seeped from every syllable of that one inoffensive word but she stood her ground, clinging to her righteous anger. He hadn't left yet and until he did she was going to tell him everything she had to say.

'You deceive me, you stalk me, trap me in the middle of nowhere with no one but you and some hair gel sniffing idiot for protection and now you're telling me I'm not safe with you? You make no sense and you make me sick and you're a spineless disgrace for a man and you promised me you couldn't leave me and I love you so much it kills me.'

He jerked forwards as though she'd electrocuted him and suddenly all she wanted was for him to leave. She couldn't believe what she'd done. She'd said too much and left herself too vulnerable to him. The thought of what he might say now left a bitter taste in her mouth. She'd rather he go than utter even one more disgusting excuse why he should.

Edging back, she waved sharply at the door.

'Go now,' she mumbled, looking away. 'I don't want you here any more. You don't have to worry. I'll move on even if I have to screw every male nurse in Tokyo to do it.'

But rather than do as she said, he ignored her crude statement and did the exact opposite. Eyes widening, she swallowed a squeak as her gaze darted up to see him prowl silently across the carpet towards her. His impenetrable expression would have made even Aoshi proud, but the lithe way he moved like a jungle cat stalking its prey told her he was anything but indifferent.

'I don't think so,' he purred, eyes flaring as he watched her stumble backwards against the arm of the sofa. 'I've tried to be strong, Koneko. I tried to let you go before it was too late, but you're impossible. I thought you wouldn't want me like this, that was the only thing that gave me the power to go. Nothing else could have, not even trying to keep you safe. I can and will keep you safe. You have no idea what you're getting yourself into, what I've done. There are people who want me to suffer and who will stop at nothing to make that happen. Perhaps this time it wasn't about me, but next time…There is so much risk, but what you just said… I'm sorry, but now it's too late.'

Scrambling round the side of the sofa, Kaoru stumbled back until she hit the wall with an audible thud and he crowded her closer, slowly and purposefully resting a hand on either side of her head.

'I can't let you go,' he whispered, lowering his head those few inches to meet her lips.

Lost for a moment in the force of his presence, she tilted her head back, breath slipping out in gasps as she reached for him. Yet, before they could touch, she remembered where she was and what she was doing, turning her face so his mouth brushed her cheek. She was so confused. One second the man was pushing her away so fast she could almost feel the whiplash and the next he was so incredibly intense and possessive that her toes curled with the need to feel him. Suddenly their roles were reversed and she wanted space, needed him gone so that she could gather together the shreds of her thoughts.

'Get out,' she growled.

She pressed back harder against the wall, lifting her hands to hold him off. Shoving at his hard chest was like trying to push a boulder cemented to the floor. Yet, somehow she didn't feel trapped, only frustrated and even more muddled.

'I don't get you,' she hissed. 'You don't make any sense. You tell me you thought I wouldn't accept you for who you are, but then you're telling me you're dangerous, that I'm not safe with you and you have to go. Then you won't leave me alone. Just leave me alone!'

She emphasised her words by ramming the palms of her hands into his chest but he moved back only far enough to catch them, holding them in place.

'No,' he said determinedly, stroking his thumb across the backs of her fingers.

That one word turned her perplexed frustration back into boiling anger. How dare he! He had treated her so coldly for weeks, made her feel like the smallest thing in the world and then he turned round and expected her to fall into his arms. Only seconds ago he was trying to leave her. The extremes of emotion were too much. She couldn't cope with it any more.

'Get out!'

She snatched her hands away, hitting him square across the face.

'Get out now! I never…'

His lips silenced her words as he dropped his arms to wrap round her, jerking her forwards until she was plastered to him. She wanted to let him continue so badly but her pride wouldn't allow it. Snarling, she yanked back on his ponytail, strands coming away in her hand. A low rumble vibrated against her, sending a sizzle of heat through her veins.

'I love it when you get rough with me, Koneko,' he purred teasingly, kissing the corner of her mouth. 'You have no idea…'

She didn't let him finish either, biting down hard enough on his lip to taste blood. His head shot back, but he didn't let up on the pressure against her body. Running his tongue along his new injury, he dipped his head and caught her mouth in a bone-melting kiss.

Fisting his shirt in her hands, all thought fled as she arched her back against the hand stroking up the sensitive flesh of her stomach to cup her breast through her top. He caressed and squeezed, his touch like a brand, a sensual claim on her body, and the friction of cloth between her heated skin and his made her ache. Suddenly she couldn't bear the clothes that separated them.

Releasing her hold on his shirt, she began to fumble with the buttons before simply pulling it from his trousers in her frustration to slip her hands beneath. She felt rather than heard the chuckle against her lips as he pulled away just enough to drag the article over his head, dropping it to the floor. Her top quickly followed, thrown across the room as though it offended him, and then they were pressed together skin to skin.

Playing her hands down his chest, she traced the dips and hollows of muscle, enjoying the way his breath caught as her fingers slipped just below the barrier of his trousers before coming to a stop. She tugged lightly on his belt, her thumb accidentally on purpose brushing over the prominent bulge in his jeans, and he took the hint.

The rest of their clothes were gone in seconds and he was lifting her with one arm against the wall, nipping and kissing his way down her neck as he brushed the peak of a nipple with his other hand. Tingles shot straight through her body to the softest part of her and she moaned, rubbing herself against him to assuage the delicious ache that was by now almost excruciating.

He tensed against her, a guttural noise slipping from him as he squeezed her bottom.

'Do that again,' he ground out low, teeth grazing her collarbone hard enough to mark.

She didn't need telling twice, the sensation an exquisite pleasure pain as she began stroking her body over his. It wasn't enough, not nearly enough, and he pressed her closer grinding back in a way that made her cry out, head rolling against the wall.

Then he was sliding into her and there was nothing else. The friction as her back chafed against the wall was probably going to hurt in the morning and her legs wrapped around his waist would no doubt feel the ache of holding herself against him, but for now her world had narrowed into this one moment, the movement of their bodies together, the tension building within her from head to toe and the murmured words of need that passed between them.

Digging her nails into his back, she felt the power beneath her hands, the glide of sleek muscles, and it only made her body crave him more. He bit her shoulder in retaliation, making her jump, parts of her contracting in a way that sent her into the final spiral over the edge, Battousai following moments later. It was pure ecstasy.

After that she vaguely remembered him carrying her limp and satiated body into the bedroom, slipping them both under the covers and curling himself around her. She'd closed her eyes, his strong arm around her waist and his comforting heat against her back, and felt for the first time as though everything were truly right with the world, no burden of concern for anything weighing her down.

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'Koneko,' Battousai growled, jangling the cuffs against the bedframe. 'Release me.'

Kaoru smirked and trailed a finger down his chest in slow intricate patterns, watching the way the amber of his eyes darkened to deep gold.

'No. I don't think I will,' she teased, slipping her leg over his hip to straddle him. 'I think I like you just the way you are.'

The double meaning behind the words did not seem to be lost on Battousai, a tinge of something other than hunger slipping into his gaze. It was a little bit vulnerable and a great deal loving.

'Anyway,' Kaoru quipped. 'I don't want you deciding to leave again before I've found a way to change your mind.'

Pressing her hands into the pillow on either side of his head, she leaned forwards until she was mere inches away from his face. She could feel the rumble vibrate through them both and giggled as he strained up to chase her lips.

'You wouldn't have any tips on how to do that, would you?'

She leaned back, rolling her hips just not quite hard enough as she raked her nails gently over deliciously male flesh.


The word was half groan and half warning and she shivered with the sweet retribution it promised.

'Besides,' she said, lowering her head again to nibble on his ear. 'It's only fair. You handcuffed me.'

With that she slowly lifted her face, feeling the rasp of early morning stubble against her cheek, and kissed him.

Author's Note: So there you have it! I've calculated it's taken me about four and a half years to finally get this sucker finished, so let me know if it was worth it! Thanks to TheAlchemist'sDaughter for doing some betaing for me and thanks to all my lovely readers for spurring me on to get this done! Review please!