A/n Surprise everyone! I'm sure you had no idea I was working on yet another story huh? Well I seem to be having issues with my "My Love" series and thought this could help shake things up a bit between the growing infrequent updates. I hoping to keep it under a few weeks between updates of all my stories so that I don't go more than a week or so between updating something.
Disclaimer. I don't own Kenshin and I take no creative responsibility of the story this fanfic is based off of. That belongs to Brenda Novak.
"So is she going to be the one?"
Kenshin glanced up from the glossy photo he took from the manila envelop. His friend Sanosuke gazed over his shoulder at the picture of Kamiya Kaoru. Kenshin had looked at the picture again and again. He wasn't sure if it was her ink black hair, or her bright azure blue eyes or her mysterious smile that brought him back to her photo countless times since it came in the mail two days ago.
Was she the one? Kenshin hoped so. The sooner he got this over with the sooner he could go back to the man he use to be. So he hoped. His life would be changed, but anything from the way his life was now would be better. All the women were starting to look good at this point. The only thing that separated them was their background checks. That was when those that looked good become rejected.
Tall and lean, with spiked brown hair, Sano shoved his hands deep in his pockets as he walked to the wall of windows and looked down at the bustling streets of Tokyo below them. "So when are you going to meet her?"
"We have an appointment in fifteen minutes." Kenshin muttered after glancing at his watch. He cleared his desk of papers and tried to look busy. He hoped that Sano got the message and excused himself; these interviews were already hard without an audience.
"How did you get the word out anyway? I'm sure you didn't put an ad in the paper." Widower, looking for single woman to sell her baby.
"A few discreet friends are spreading the word around for me, that's all."
"Nice to have strings to pull and small favors to ask." The taller man looked around Kenshin's office. "It looks like a toy store in here." Sano nudged a life sized teddy bear with his foot and it toppled over next to a few boxes of chocolates. "How many have you interviewed already?"
"I wasn't really counting. Why?"
"Because I have a feeling that you're making a mistake."
Kenshin snorted softly to himself. The mistake happened eighteen months ago when a drunk driver ran a red light and took away his life. But he wasn't going to start thinking about that right now. Ironic because Tomoe was all Kenshin had ever thought about in these past months. Sometimes the memories would swirl in his head so much he would lose track of time, or where he was…lost in the scent of her perfume or the feel of her silky raven hair on his cheek.
The memories reminded Kenshin of the heaven she showed him during their short marriage, and introduced to him the concept of Hell.
"So?" Kenshin rubbed at his temple.
"So haven't you learned anything from all of this?" Sano waved a hand at all the gifts sitting in the corner of his office.
"I know that it's not as easy as one would think. It's hard to pick one that's just right. And I never dreamed that women could and would be so aggressive, that I did not."
"Dangle over ten million yen in front of anyone and you're going to see their bad side sooner or later." He scratched the back of his head. "You could give it some time. Tomoe hasn't been gone long; you could fall in love again."
Kenshin felt the muscle in his jaw twitch. How many times were people going to say those empty words to him? Couldn't anyone understand that he didn't want to fall in love again? He wanted Tomoe and their unborn child back.
"I've noted your objections" Kenshin growled deep in his throat. "Anything else?" Kenshin tried hard to swallow back the sudden pain and the urge to be violent.
"No, I'm leaving." Sano said after watching him a moment more. "I just wish you would think about it. This has trouble all over it man."
"You seemed to like trouble." Kenshin threw over his shoulder.
"Mr. Himura?" A soft voice said at his office door. He turned to see the woman in the picture standing at his doorway; her hands nervously twisted a large leather messenger bag.
"I know I'm a little early, something had come up and I can't stay long. I tried to call but all I got was a recording. I hope that's alright." Large blue eyes darted about, taking the office in.
"That's fine," Kenshin hoped his smile was welcoming. "My secretary is out for the day. You must be Ms. Kamiya." Kenshin stood up from his desk.
"Yes." She stepped further into his office.
Kenshin expected her to say. 'Please, call me Kaoru.' But she didn't. Calling her Ms. Kamiya was entirely too formal for what they were about to discus. But that was just fine with him. The more professional they kept it the easier it would be for both of them. "This is my partner Sanosuke Sagara." He indicated with his hand to Sano who stood to the side. Sano's face was bright; he was such an open book sometimes. The taller man strode over to the woman and shook her hand enthusiastically. Kenshin noticed that she wasn't wearing any fingernail polish or wore any jewelry. A strange and small detail that already set her apart from all the other applicants.
"It's a pleasure to meet you Ms. Kamiya." Sano said.
Kaoru smiled back hesitantly before glancing over at Kenshin and then taking in the sight of stuffed animals, balloons and boxes of candy. Décor that didn't match the ink paintings, katana swords and samurai armor that he had decorating his office.
"Sanosuke here was just leaving." Kenshin walked from around his desk and shot Sano a meaningful look. Sano made a face at Kenshin while the woman had her head turned away. But then the lanky man managed to maneuver his way out of his office. Kenshin followed and shut the door behind his partner to insure their privacy.
"Please have a seat. Can I get you something to drink? Tea? Coffee?" From the way he could see her hands shaking, it looked like she could use something warm in her stomach. In fact she looked as if she needed something more than tea, such as a few weeks worth of meals and someone to make sure she ate them. The woman in the photo had laughter in her eyes and her porcelain skin glowed with youth. But Ms. Kamiya in the flesh looked tired and strained. Dark circles underscored her large blue eyes and her cheeks held a hint of hollowness. And even with the classy sheath-like dress and jacket she wore, Kenshin could tell she was far too thin.
What happened to the young, happy looking woman in the picture? Had she become ill?
"I don't really have time for coffee or tea. Thank you though." She hovered around the leather chair, as if thinking of taking a seat. But it seemed she was in a hurry because she decided against it. Her gaze met his from across the desk and the laughing eyes in the picture became direct and business like, as if she were one of his associates and were far more piercing. "Actually, I'm not really sure I should be here or if this is what I want."
Kenshin was taken about by her honesty. "Why did you come then?"
"Why would anyone come?" The woman shot back with a slight shrug.
"You need the money."
"Does that really matter?" her lips twitched in a faint smile. "Is it important for you to know how I'm going to spend the money?"
Kenshin walked around his desk and on the corner of it. He steepling his hands as if thinking. "Ten million yen is a lot of money."
Ms. Kamiya nodded. "No one knows that better than me, Mr. Himura. I'll be honest with you. I need to raise nine million, eight hundred-sixty-two thousand, five hundred and ten yen."
The exact figure of money surprised Kenshin, and she seemed to expect that. "For what?" he asked again.
Ms. Kamiya smoothed her already perfect dress. "That's my business."
Kenshin lifted an eyebrow in surprise. This woman certainly wasn't like the others he had interviewed. Most of the women gladly gushed over the new house or car they would buy with the money. One woman even tried to persuade him by saying she would donate half the money to a charity. Other still offered sexual favors for the money. Favors he didn't want and certainly didn't ask for.
Then again, it was hard to find a healthy-minded woman to do what he was asking for. He had anticipated as such, that was why he was taking certain precautions. "I want to protect my investment. And part of that is understanding your attitude to the compensation."
"Investment, compensation?" she made a sound of disgust before letting her head rest in her hands.
Kenshin quickly came to the conclusion that Ms. Kamiya was the most normal minded woman he had talked to so far. Her judgment was damning, though unspoken, it stung him and he stood up from the corner of his desk. "I'm sorry Ms. Kamiya; I can see that this isn't going to work out, and that we wouldn't make very good business partners. I'm sorry for wasting your time."
Something akin to fear came to her eyes and surprise flashed crossed her face. What did she expect him to beg for her to help him? Apparently she didn't know what the money was for.
"Wait. She held up a delicate hand to stop him. "We got off on the wrong foot. Maybe we could try again?...please?"
Kenshin remembered the two interviews he had ready to go tomorrow and the countless women he had already rejected. They were calling him constantly and sending him things, hoping to change his mind. He had to find someone fast while he could still stand the onslaught and before his office ran out of room. And even though they had a rough start, something about Ms. Kamiya struck a cord deep in Kenshin, something with her deep sapphire eyes.
"Fine." He heard himself sigh. "Why don't you sit down this time?"
Kaoru perched herself on the very edge of the seat and rested her large messenger bag on her lap.
"You said on the phone that a friend gave you my number?"
She nodded. "Yes Misao Makimachi. She got it from her doctor. A Dr. Takani."
Dr. Megumi Takani was an old friend and one of Kenshin's few confidants. They had discussed this idea at his physical three months ago. It seems she decided to help him after all. "And you called because you need Nine million yen?"
"And some change."
"For something you won't tell me."
"It's not a big secret. It's just business, if we decided to…to work together, I want my personal life kept as separate from yours as possible. I'm sure you can understand."
Kenshin did understand. And he felt the same way, which gave Ms. Kamiya a point in her favor. "What do you do?"
She blinked in surprise. "I'm in my second year of med school. I want to become a pediatrician."
"Now I know why you need so much money."
A faint smile not unlike the one in her photo flittered past her lips before her gaze fell to the floor. "So would you like to explain some of the details to what you have to propose or have I lost the chance of …being the one you select?"
Kenshin sat at the corner of his desk again so he wasn't hovering over her like some mafia thug. "Let's just say I want to spend a few more minutes with you before I decide that."
Her hands knotted together but when she looked up at him, her unique beauty and that mysterious something that haunted her eyes struck him again.
"I'm usually not so difficult to get along with." She said softly. "I do sometimes have a temper and lots of pride. I'm sorry about earlier." She tipped her chin up to show her sincerity.
Kenshin winced; surprised that even the dream of graduating from med school could bring such a proud woman to her knees. "I'm not looking for an apology, Ms. Kamiya."
Maybe they were starting to get somewhere at last. "Fine, Kaoru then. Call me Kenshin."
"I know you want a baby, Kenshin. Would you care to tell me why you can't have one the normal way?"
He cleared his throat to dislodge the lump that suddenly sprang up to strangle him whenever he talked about Tomoe. "My wife died in a care accident eighteen months ago."
Kaoru's eyes grew wide for a fraction of time. "I'm sorry."
"She was carrying our unborn child, a son. The doctors couldn't save either of them."
"How terrible." She bowed her head slightly at his pain. Her words were simple and the same as everyone else. But something in Kaoru's tone and the way her eyes became downcast told him that she knew his pain, heard the silent screaming in his soul and he hated the vulnerability her knowledge in him inspired.
Pushing off his desk, Kenshin wandered to the wall of windows so he wouldn't have to see the pity on her face. He didn't want her pity, thinking it better to have her harsh judgment instead. "I just want the child I was denied, Ms. Kamiya…Kaoru. It's as simple as that."
"Simple?" she echoed. "Nothing about this is simple, I'm sure you must understand that."
"It's as simple as we make it."
"How do you plan to…I mean, how would I…?"
Kenshin kept his face to the window to spare her embarrassment. "Become pregnant? You'd be artificially inseminated, of course. I want this to be handled as professionally as possible, in every way, that I do."
"Of course." She let out the breath she seemed to have been holding. "And once I'm pregnant?"
He turned toward her. "You'd carry my baby, deliver it, then turn the child over to me and walk away forever. And for your trouble, you'd be ten million yen richer."
She studied him as if trying to see what he was thinking behind the mask he had carefully placed on his face. "What if I were to miscarry?"
"You'd be paid in installments as the pregnancy progresses, the finally payment when you deliver, all nonrefundable payments."
She squeezed her eyes shut. "God it sounds like you're about to buy a house."
"The terms have to be clear, Kaoru, or we're setting ourselves up for disaster."
Kaoru composed herself; she sat up straight once again. "I realize that, this is just so… unnatural." To sell a baby.
Kenshin went back to gazing out of his office windows and down at the traffic in gridlock and the streams of people on foot that ebbed and flowed along with the traffic lights. He remembered Tomoe's rare but lovely smiles. The way she made him breakfast in bed out of the blue to tell him she was pregnant. Tomoe was gone and now there was no natural way to achieve what he wanted, a child of his own blood. When the baby arrived, the end would justify the means. He would be saved from being alone, from slipping further away from humanity and maybe start feeling again. "It's the only way."
"What if the baby isn't whole or healthy? What then?"
"Perfect or not, the child is mine. I'll take care of any medical bills. On the off chance that something should…happen to you in delivery, the money will go to your heirs."
"That's a comfort at least."
He glanced over his shoulder, surprised by her slight sarcasm. She lifted her hand in defense.
"I know, I know, we have to talk about all possibilities and make sure everything is clear."
"It's a business deal, Kaoru. The more we think of it that way the easier it will be for us."
Kaoru nodded, "A business deal." She repeated to herself, then, more loudly, "when do you hope to finalize your plans?"
"The sooner the better." He thought of the sound of a baby's gurgles and babbles breaking the tomb-like silence in his empty house and to have someone to come home to at night made him want it all the sooner. The child couldn't come fast enough. "Are you interested in the deal?"
Kaoru bit her bottom lip as her forehead wrinkled. She sighed. "Yes."
"Then you'll need to fill out an application." Kenshin went to his desk and opened a drawer. His application got revised every time he interviewed someone. It grew thicker every day. By the time Ms. Kamiya finished answering all the questions he would know everything about her, from her shoe size to her grandparents medical history. "You are single right? That's very important."
She tucked a strand of her long blue-black hair behind her ear while her face was surprised that her marital status mattered to a man who was bending the law. "I'm divorced."
"Good." Even though he was surprised that she would be divorced at the tender age of twenty. He handed her the questionnaire, and her eyebrows shot up at the weight of it.
"I've seen dissertations shorter than this. When would you like it back?" she carefully tucked it into her messenger bag.
Kenshin wasn't sure how long it would take someone to fill out the application, no one had really past the interview part. Kaoru hardly passed with flying colors but so far she was better than any of the women he had talked to before. And she was at least interested in it enough to go to the next step. "I'm still interviewing, so you might want to get it back to me in a day or two."
"Fine." She glanced at her watch and stuck out her hand. "I have to go. Thank you for your time."
Kenshin clasped her hand in his, noting the delicate bones and soft skin. She had good doctor's hands, even though they were a bit cool to the touch. And though physical beauty was far from his primary concern he couldn't help noticing she had other good features, too-and genes that would make a pretty baby.
A woman he'd interviewed a few days ago poked her head through the door and thrust out a huge cookie bouquet wrapped in purple cellophane with anime style cat faces printed on it.
Kenshin held back and groan as he rubbed his temple again.
"I'm sorry to interrupt." Her voice was sickly sweet. "But I thought you might enjoy these and aren't they darling!"
"Rina, silly. Call me Rina remember?"
Kenshin tried to suppress the twitch that started to return to his jaw. With Rina came the memory of the other bold women his offer had enticed, and suddenly Ms. Kamiya's cool reserve looked far more appealing than it had a moment ago. "Rina I told you I would call you when I made my decision. I'm sorry that it's taking some time-"
"My phone's been on the blink and I thought you might have tried to reach me." She came into the room, ignored Kaoru and shoved the cookies into his face so he could get a better look at them before setting them on his desk next to some flowers someone sent him yesterday.
Kenshin looked at the cookies and knew there would be more where that came from if he didn't hurry and pick a woman. He needed to stop Rina and her competitors. "Actually, Rina…I'm glad you came." He heard himself blurt out. "Because I think I've reached a decision."
"Yeah?" Her smile brightened as she positioned herself on his desk so that he could see her ample cleavage by bending forward ever so slightly. "Who's the lucky girl?"
"Ms. Kamiya and I still have to go over her application but if she agrees to the background check and everything else is in order, then she is." Kenshin glanced at Kaoru and saw those expressive eyes widen. He also noted again, the thinness of her body and drawn look on her face. "If she passes the physical." He added
Note 10 million yen = around 120,000 U.S dollars or about 80,500 U.K pounds.
A little short, but sweet. Yes, Kaoru is offering to sell her baby for money. That's kinda shady but she has a good reason. I already have a few more chapters typed up, if you think this story is good enough to continue, please leave a review and let me know. Thanks for reading everyone!