A/N- I got the idea and couldn't resist writing it. I don't think the idea hasn't been done before but let me know if I'm wrong. Kenshin and Kaoru are a bit OOC here, and that's intentional for this fic. As always, let me know if there is anything I can improve on or if you have any form of feedback. I'm writing a novel on the side so I honestly really appreciate any advice.
Disclaimer- Obviously I only came up with the plot. But there's nearly nothing I wouldn't do to make Kenshin real... :D
I want the plot to remain a bit mysterious until about the 3rd or 4th chapter but Evanescence's 'Surrender' inspired me so you might get a good idea of what this is about if you listen to that. Otherwise I bid you happy reading!
-January 16th, 2009-
Thirty-seven degrees. Today's cheerful weatherwoman forecasted a delightfully freezing day of thirty-seven degrees and yet I somehow still managed to find myself outside and standing in the foot of snow that still hadn't melted from the worst snowstorm in recorded Japanese history. I looked down, realizing that snow was melting on my jeans and I felt the cold water seep through onto my skin. I sighed and bit my lip. Despite being wrapped in two sweaters and a heavy winter coat, I still shivered violently. And to think I could be inside right now…
Suddenly, a peal of giggles erupted from inside the rather impressive igloo the local teenagers had built at the center of the small town's park. The sound was adorable and though I was frozen to the bone, I instantly broke out into a grin. The laughter continued and grew louder until it was interrupted by a strangled cries to stop.
"Help!" the victim cried, now desperate.
That would be my cue. I took a deep breath to bite back a string of curses at the attacker. She knew I hated anything cold- particularly snow- so she could have gone without trying to get me involved. I forced my legs to trudge through the snow in the direction of the igloo and wondered how on earth anyone could even traverse the stretch of snow and construct the structure in the first place.
"No! Mommy!" the victim shouted again just as I reached the formation.
"Misao, if you think this is funny-" my threat was cut off when a massive snowball was flung at my face with deadly accuracy. I shrieked in surprise and immediately swiped the snow off of me. Another fit of giggles exploded from the little boy still hiding inside the igloo, only this time it was accompanied by female laughter.
Furious that my painstaking avoidance of the white stuff had been a failure, I leaned down and scooped up a large ball and hurled it at the raven-haired girl. Had she not been preoccupied laughing, she would have easily dodged it but it hit her right in the face. My victorious smirk died almost instantaneously when my sister grinned deviously at me.
What followed was quite possibly the largest snowball war in the history of Japan. Snow flew in every direction, and what was previously a big expanse of unmarred snow now showed the signs of combat throughout. The only thing that stopped us was a three-year-old boy finally leaving the safety of the igloo and running into the line of fire. Concerned violet eyes met mine as the boy attempted to make his way over to me. "Mommy!" he shouted to catch my attention, though he already had it. Not only did he keep getting stuck in the deep snow, but he also had little control of his limbs, thanks to an ample amount of layered clothing.
My heart softened at the sight of the little marshmallow boy and I trudged through the snow to close the distance between us. I scooped the child in my arms and hugged him tightly.
"Don't be mad at Auntie! She just wouldn't stop tickling me," he pouted.
"Oh, baby," I cooed. "I'm not mad her. She just knows how much I hate being cold." I shot Misao a glare. "I think we've been outside long enough now. Are you ready to go home?"
Though Kenji's lips were blue he still shook his head vigorously. "I wanna play more!"
Misao moved closer, somehow managing to be graceful. "How about if we make some hot chocolate?" she coaxed with a smile.
"Yeah!" Kenji's voice echoed through the nearly lifeless streets. "Hot choc!" He squirmed out of my arms and tried to run- unsuccessfully- in the direction of our house. I scooped him up again and the three of us hiked back, my thoughts focused on the heating that was awaiting us.
We removed our sopping wet clothing once we got inside, grateful for the shelter from the cold. I hung our coats to dry by the heater and when I turned around Misao was removing Kenji's hat, which caused bright flames to spill around his head. The way my son's hair glinted in the light stopped my heart momentarily and I got lost in the memory of the first time I ever saw such a gorgeous color.
-March 24th, 2003-
The loose strand of hair that kept falling back into my face had been irritating me for the past twenty minutes but I didn't have time to properly tuck it away; I would have had to stop my preparations, wash my hands, fix my low pony tail, and wash my hands again. I'd lose a whole two minutes and I was already too far behind. Megumi, my roommate, was due home in twenty minutes and I was nowhere near done cooking dinner. Irritated, I blew at the strand several times until it fell to the side of my face and continued chopping carrots for the stew that I felt confident would be better than last week's disaster.
I finished chopping the carrots and dumped them into the pot and immediately grabbed the onion that was next. I was halfway through cutting when I felt it. There were eyes on my back and accompanying the ripple of fear that spread through me was the feeling of a tight pressure on my chest. Someone was behind me and judging by the intense pressure of his ki, he was dangerous.
There was a glass of water next to my free hand so I wrapped my fingers around it, spun around quickly, and threw it at the intruder. My aim was perfect but somehow the glass hit the wall two feet away from him. I was sure he dodged it somehow, though I hadn't even seen him move.
Amused amber eyes met my glaring ones. The man appeared to be a few years older than me, but there was no denying the much older sense of maturity that hovered about him. His piercing gaze nearly stole my breath and I realized that he was the most gorgeous man I'd ever seen in my life. He was wearing a crisp, grey button down and black slacks. His face was flawless and his body slender, though I could see lean muscles through his shirt. His hair was such a deep shade of scarlet that for a moment I thought his head was actually aflame… and it swayed slightly behind him; he had moved out of the line of fire.
My heart sped faster than it had in years and the invisible pressure on my chest tightened painfully. Then remembering I still had a knife in my hand, I raised it up and foolishly dared him to come closer. I wasn't going down without a fight.
But instead of advancing, he chuckled deeply. "Is this how you always introduce yourself?"
I floundered for a moment, unable to comprehend why an intruder would ask such a ridiculous question. "Forgive my rudeness," I replied sarcastically. "I seem to be lacking proper manners. Next time I come across a burglar I will be sure to tell him my name and step aside to let him raid my apartment."
A smile spread on his lips but even though it made him look even more dangerous, he was all the more attractive. "Do you believe that if I were a burglar, I would have waited in the doorway until you noticed me?"
I opened my mouth to respond but another voice broke in first. "Was that the sound of shattering glass?" A much taller man with spiked, black hair popped into the kitchen, eyes surveying the situation. Sanosuke finally looked at me and laughed so hard he gripped his sides. "Oh man, Kaoru," he nearly cried. "I can't wait to hear you explain this to the fox," my other roommate said as he easily plucked the poised knife from my hand and placed it on the counter.
It was only then I realized my mouth was agape. "You know this creep?"
At that Sanosuke laughed again and his guest's smile grew. "This creep is my partner from work and I'm sure he would appreciate it if you didn't attack him again," Sanosuke said, humor leaking into his voice.
I couldn't believe someone who had such a dangerous air about him could actually be one of the 'good guys'. The golden-eyed man didn't look like a police officer at all. "Maybe he shouldn't have been lurking around without you," I defended.
Sanosuke gave the shorter man a amused look. "Sorry; I suppose I'm going to have to babysit you from now on. No more slinking around for you," he said, waving a finger at him. They laughed and Sanosuke left the room muttering something about never hearing anything so funny in his life.
I glowered at his retreating back and was surprised when the red-head didn't move after him. "Can I help you?" I questioned, not bothering to hide the irritation in my tone. I was embarrassed because I had made a scene, frustrated because I was even further behind with my cooking, and vexed because they found the situation so entertaining. And the man's presence felt horribly wrong but at the same time I had the dumbfounding feeling that I would miss him if he left. This only made me angrier.
"If I'm not mistaken, your stew has been left unattended for a bit too long," he responded.
My head whipped around and my hand instantly flew to turn down the heat before the rising bubbles overflowed again. I stirred the soup and nearly screamed in surprise when I saw the man suddenly standing next to me. I had been focused on his ki the entire time and I was absolutely certain he hadn't moved. Had I believed in science fiction I would have concluded that he had just teleported from the opposite side of the room. "Perhaps you hadn't noticed, but Sano is in his office. The last time I checked, this was the kitchen."
The man ignored the statement. "You never introduced yourself." His eyes bore into mine but I refused to show him any sign of weakness. I was too agravated to care about playing nice with one of Sano's work buddies.
"Neither did you, if I recall correctly."
"I apologize. I wasn't given much time before a glass was flung at my face."
I had to physically restrain my hand from slapping the cheeky smirk from his face. "I'm not sure where you're from, but in most cultures it would be expected for you to announce your presence when you enter a room."
"A mistake I will be sure to never repeat," he said thoughtfully before bowing his head slightly. "My name is Himura Kenshin."
"You're suddenly being courteous?" I bit, really not wanting him to know who I was.
"Was I rude to begin with?"
Bristling at the fact that he was correct, I ignored him and grabbed a broom and dustpan to sweep up the shattered glass. Sano may have found the situation hilarious but Megumi was sure to skin me. She had spent weeks searching for the perfect glass set.
When all the pieces were swept up, I turned to search for a mop but to my utter dismay, Kenshin was already standing next to me with the item in question in hand. "May I?" he asked politely.
I looked at him pointedly. "No." I grabbed the mop forcefully and sponged the water up, hoping that he would finally realize I wasn't in the mood to deal with him. When the floor was dry I replaced the three cleaning tools and ignored the infuriatingly annoying man as I washed my hands.
I turned back to the vegetables I still had to cut but Kenshin was already chopping away with such speed and precision that I actually froze. He had already sliced up the second half of the onion, two sticks of celery, and the few leeks that had been next to the cutting board. A ripple of fear spread through me as I realized again just how dangerous this man was. He had done all of this in the fifteen seconds it had taken me to dry my hands.
The only thing I could think to do was shout at him for touching the food with dirty hands but when I looked closer I saw that his hands were, in fact, still wet from being freshly washed.
He slid all of the vegetables into the large pot on the stove, adjusted the temperature, and turned back to me.
Knowing that he was waiting for me to either tell him my name or thank him, I settled on the latter, hoping that it would satisfy him enough to leave the room. And for what seemed like the hundredth time that night, I was again disappointed.
"You're still not going to tell me your name?"
"Sano already said it before; you should have been paying attention."
"I heard him," he said as if it was obvious. "I want you to tell me."
"I think that now would be the perfect time to inform you that you're the most stubborn person I've ever met in my life. It's a trait I find rather annoying."
The infuriating grin returned. "Do you mean to tell me that you're not stubborn?"
I could have screamed. I had to actually bite my lip to keep the string of curses from erupting. He noticed and chuckled again. Finally realizing just how close I was to losing it, he closed his eyes for a moment, his thick bangs covering his face. When he opened the intense golden orbs again he gazed so deep into my eyes that my breath stopped. "I can be patient, my little Kaoru," he said and finally strolled out of the kitchen.
"Mommy!" The worried voice finally snapped me from my reverie and I realized Kenji had called for me more than once.
I smiled faintly, though I'm sure my son knew it was forced. "I'll meet you in the bathroom in a moment, alright? You need a hot bath so you don't get sick."
"Ok," he said and hurried off.
I still felt clammy and felt that my blood had drained from my face. As soon as he was out of sight my hand instantly flew to the door and locked the key, drew both deadbolts, and put the chain up. In reality it was a silly precaution but it offered the slightest bit of comfort to my ever-racing mind.
My sister was just as worried, though unlike my son, she actually knew what was wrong. "Are you alright? That's the second time in the past few days," she asked.
Our eyes met and I couldn't hide the truth that I desperately didn't want to vocalize. "It only happens when it's time."
My younger sister was quiet. "I'll let Aoshi know. We'll start looking in the morning."
The guilt that washed through me every time this happened swallowed me again. "Misao… you've already helped me so many times-"
She cut me off, this time slightly angry. "You say it every time and I'm sick of hearing it. You're the only family I have left; there's no way in hell I'm going to leave you. If this is what it takes then so be it. I won't let you and my nephew leave me alone."
A surge of love filled me, knowing the sacrifices she had made for us over the past few years. She could have- should have- been enjoying her new marriage with Aoshi but she had given it up just to help us. Knowing that I could never be able to repay them splintered my heart. "You're the best, sis," I whispered and gave her a hug before running after Kenji. Bathing him was the perfect task to distract myself and in a few minutes the memory had been pushed to the back of my mind.
When we were done Kenji's promised hot chocolate was waiting at the kitchen table, along with two others settled on the island counter, and a sheepish-looking Misao.
"Are you mad?" she questioned, referring to the war. "You seemed like you enjoyed pelting me in the face well enough."
"I won't be mad once I drink this," I reached for my favorite mug, "and immerse myself in a long, hot shower. And you only have yourself to thank for drowning in snow."
The twenty-five year old grinned. "Touché."
We sipped happily at our drinks and after a few moments Misao turned to my son, who was still sipping merrily at his favorite drink. "Hey, Kenji?"
They shared a look that he obviously deciphered because he squealed in excitement. "Lion King!" He shouted throwing his arms in the air, causing his scarlet hair to cascade over his shoulders. He leaped down from his seat at the table, paying no mind to his chocolate covered mouth, and performed a little dance before running to the couch.
I groaned. "How do you not get tired of it? He must have made us watch it at least thirty times already!"
"I think it's a cute movie!" She defended. "And you'll be in the shower for half of it anyway so you can't complain this time. I already showered while you were giving him a bath so go ahead; I'll watch him."
I drained the rest of the contents of my mug and hurried off to enjoy the promise of hot water.