Butterfly

by Guardian Antares

***

I don't own Rurouni Kenshin. Nuff said.

By the by, this is a follow up to Onii-chan. One of my few one shots. I thought it deserved a 'second shot'. For contingency's sake, Sano didn't take off for parts unknown after the Revenge arc, if it makes you feel any better, pretend that Saitou pulled (or yanked) a few strings to let him off. (As if Saitou is capable of doing anything nice)

***

I look absurd holding this shinai. Jo-chan is gonna either laugh her head off or get Fox-Sensei to check me for a fever! Kenshin should be doing this... nah... Kenshin shouldn't be doing this. He'd hold back even if he didn't realize. Dammit, I feel stupid.

I can hear Jo-chan's footsteps now, she's coming into the training hall. I don't hear Yahiko or Kenshin, only one set of footsteps. She's opening the shoji now... here goes.

"Kamiya Kaoru, I challenge you."

"Sano?" she's looking at me weird now, just like I knew she would. "What are you doing?"

Making an idiot of myself. "Thought you might wanna spar for a bit, Yahiko ain't gonna polish your skills."

"Are you okay, this isn't like you." She sounds worried... hello Fox- sensei.

"I always say you don't get better fighting people who're weaker than you. I don't see you practicing much anymore, so I figured I'd see how weak your skills have gotten."

She's scowling at me now, that's my Jo-chan! Get pissed, try and kick my ass! "Weak?! Who are YOU calling weak?" She's brandishing her bodken at me. "I could take you any day of the week!" she snarls.

"Hah!" I block her initial attack easily but then she slips under my guard and lands one on my ribs before dancing away. I hastily re-evaluate my stance, she isn't working with strength or even a lot a speed... she's taking what I'm using and turning it against me. By all the little Buddha, the potential!

I execute my own attack and she dodges it, again she goes under my defense like it isn't there and smacks me one good on my thigh. I grab her around the waist with my free arm. "It ain't all swords, Jo-chan."

"You fight dirty." She says, though not like it was an insult. "so can I." That was all the warning I got before she groin kicks me.

It all goes black for a bit and I come to with Jo-chan kneeling over me, wearing a huge grin. "I'm sorry, are you all right??"

I give her an offended glare. "Yes, though I may be permanently crippled." I croak. "The moment I can stand up, your ass is grass!"

She chuckles. "Provided you can catch me." She cocks her head. "Maybe I should pull my punches, Megumi-chan wouldn't like it very much if I damaged anything... ah... important, would she?"

If she's trying to get my goat, she's doing one hell of a job. "That's it! The kid gloves are off now!" I growl playfully as I roll to my feet.

Jo-chan dances away, graceful as a deer I heard a yuppie English-man going on about in a bar room once. With a little combat experience under her belt, she might be able to give Saitou a run for his money one of these days.

This time I'm taking nothing for granted, Jo-chan is every bit as good as I am... I realize that now. Just because Enishi got the drop on her is no reason to think she's weak, there's only so much I can do with a itty-bitty shinai, but I ain't getting rid of it yet. No sirree bob!

Kaoru chuckles and drops her guard. "Maybe later." She chuckles. "First you tell me what you've got up your sleeve. Why are you trying to distract me?"

I sniff in offense. "Who's distracting you, it ain't me." I inform her. "I meant what I said, ya need to get better with fighting. When Enishi gotcha, I realized that. So now I'm gonna work your ass off in the Dojo until you can take on any thug in Tokyo."

Kaoru laughs, bright and colorful. It was what I missed about her the most when I thought she was dead. "I can already do that!"

I grin toothily. "Okay, then we'll try for being able to hold your own with Crazy Swordsmen from hell?"

Kaoru grins back, slowly regaining her stance. "And you think you're the one who's good enough to teach me?"

Avante Garde. I point my shinai at Jo-chan's chest like a yuppie English fencer. "Why don't you try me?"

"I think I..."

The screen slides open and Kenshin pokes his head in. " Kaoru-dono, Yahiko, lunch! Oro...?" he looks around the dojo when he realizes that Yahiko isn't anywhere around. "Sano!" he cries when he realizes we were fighting, how could he not?

His benevolent gaze hardens slightly and his posture gets a little stiff. "What's going on here?"

"I was sparrin' with Jo-chan." I explain. "It ain't fair to expect her to get any better with just Yahiko to spar with."

Kenshin's big purple eyes blink...once.. twice.. slowly his eyes travel to Kaoru. I can practically feel him taking in her energized glimmer, the flush across her pretty cheeks, and the smile on her face... in short, a swordsman who's met an actual challenge after years of stagnation.

I suppress a smile as his eyes widen and I know he's finally figured out what I learned after Kaoru was taken away. She's a swordsman too, she deserves a chance to better her own skills.

"I'm going to wash up before lunch, ne Kenshin?" Kaoru chirps as she goes past him.

Kenshin nods absently and as the shoji snaps shut he looks at me. "I feel like I just saw her for the first time." He whispers. "She's so happy..."

I clap him on the shoulder as I follow Jo-chan to the well to wash off the sweat from our workout. "I know the feeling Ken. I know the feeling."

Kenshin's voice follows me out of the dojo. "Sano.. why are you limping?"

I pretend I didn't hear him.

*Fin