Standard Disclaimers Apply. The rights to Rurouni Kenshin are exclusively owned by Watsuki Nobuhiro, Sony Entertainment, Shueisha, Jump Comics and other associated groups. Do not sue!!!
Love Rule # 1 When a guy can't get a clue… have a good heart to heart talk with him.
Mornings were always Kaoru's favorite time of the day. Waking up from a long and relaxing sleep, feeling energetic after her daily jogging routine, and of course, starting the day with her friends.
Or maybe not.
"Oh, Kaoru! Goddess of eternal beauty. Aphrodite of the Meiji High School. Thou art a sexy chick!"
Kaoru turned around to glare at the guy who had been following her on the way to school the whole morning. She rolled her eyes and said through gritted teeth, "I AM NOT INTERESTED! Go away!!!!"
Flipping her hair over her shoulders, she hastened her steps towards her school. She muttered under her breath, "Why can't guys just get a clue? Ugh!"
Kaoru gave an audible sigh as she continued walking, determined to ignore the catcalls directed towards her. Dumb jerks! Do they think I am some cheap girl they can lure with their petty compliments and whistles? Ugh! They're impossible!!!
Note to self: Start accepting the fact that you'll die an old maid.
Kaoru's musings were cut short when one of her persistent suitors, grabbed her arm and said, "Hey, darling! I called you yesterday. Why didn't you answer the phone?"
Kaoru jerked her arm off his grasp, glaring at him. "Because I knew it was you."
"That's cold, darling. Want me to warm you up?" he grinned mischievously.
Just then, Kaoru felt an arm snaking around her shoulder. Kaoru narrowed her eyes in slits as she breathed deeply to pacify her intensifying rage. However… calm and collection had never been Kaoru Kamiya's strong points.
"Get your filthy hands off me, broom head!!!!" Kaoru exploded, threatening to hit him again with her bokken.
"Feisty… I just love spirited women!" Cho exclaimed as he moved back from Kaoru. "You haven't seen enough of me… babe! I won't stop until you are mine."
As soon as Cho left, Kaoru sighed as she returned her bokken to her bag.
"Oi busu! Woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning?" Yahiko called out as he doubled in laughter upon seeing Kaoru's distressed face.
"Actually, I love mornings!" Kaoru growled as she headed towards the main hall.
Yahiko rubbed his sore head, muttering curses under his breath. "Chikuso! Not only is my shihondai an ugly raccoon, but a hormonally imbalanced tomboy as well. Oh, woe is me!"
Misao welcomed Kaoru on the front steps. Unable to contain herself, she chuckled, "Got sidetracked on the way to school again, huh?"
Kaoru nodded and said in an irritated manner, "Misao… I don't know what to do with them! It's seems that the more I shove them away, the more eager they are to come back!"
Misao laughed heartily trying to lighten the mood, "Maybe your sex appeal has reached a dangerously high level?"
"Misao!!!" Kaoru protested, blushing furiously. "I don't think the combination of sweat, bokken and a massive temper goes under sex appeal…"
Misao guffawed, "You're right…"
"… I mean, I may be beautiful and sexy but I know my limits!"
Misao sweatdropped. "Ano… Kaoru… maybe you should eat breakfast…you're getting delirious"
Kaoru looked at her incredulously and snapped, "I was kidding! Misao, we need to lighten up the mood!"
Misao smiled and said, "Why didn't you talk to them like I advised?"
Kaoru shrugged and replied in between giggles, "They won't listen to me so, I made my bokken do the talking!"
Beauty Rule #1: Always start your day with a smile.
Megumi Takani frowned prettily at the flyer on her desk. "Let your inner beauty shine through. Join the Miss Meiji High School Pageant sponsored by the Student Council," she read out loud. "A little too sentimental for your style, Shinomori-kun."
Her classmate and friend, student council president, Aoshi Shinomori appeared at her side. "I had Kenshin write that. You know how he is when he gets in touch with his sentimental side."
"So what is this doing on my desk? What makes you think I'm interested?" Megumi asked, flipping her long black hair perfectly behind one shoulder.
Aoshi regarded her with his cool blue eyes. "I didn't expect the reigning queen to give up her crown without a fight."
Megumi turned to the open textbook in front of her. Aoshi's words had hit the spot. This was her last year in high school, and she had been studying very hard to get into the best universities so she could pursue a career in medicine. Already, she had excellent grades and recommendations from her teachers. But while she was proud of being recognized for her brains, she was still pleased to know that she was the school's resident heartbreaker. It was rare for a second-year high school student to win the annual pageant. Most of the time, sophisticated third-year girls got the title. But Megumi had been different. She had wit, poise, grace, and elegance – and winning the crown was a piece of cake. She joined back then because she wanted the recognition, but now, as Aoshi pointed it out, Megumi realized that it wasn't entirely true.
Megumi Takani wasn't someone who let a challenge go by without putting up a fight.
"Maybe I'll think about it," she said finally, refusing to meet Aoshi's eyes. "Why is it important to you whether I join or not, anyway?"
Aoshi's stern features softened into what Megumi assumed was a grin. In truth, it was just the corners of his eyes crinkling upwards. "What good would a pageant be if the girls who joined didn't beat the best? They just don't want the title, Megumi. They want to beat you." He paused. "Besides, think of the funds we'd lose if your fan boys didn't buy tickets."
Megumi hid a pleased smile behind one hand and snapped back instead, "Like I said, I'll think about it."
Aoshi motioned to a lean redhead standing near the classroom door. "Aren't we cranky today? Maybe you need a little more convincing."
She blushed. Aoshi wasn't playing fair. They had known each other since middle school, and he knew of the small crush she had for his best friend, Himura Kenshin. What normal girl didn't fall in love with the guy? He was silent and mysterious, but he had such an open and honest smile that drove away the dangerous air that hung around him. He was a gentleman too, always ready to help out in any way. He was also considered one of the smartest guys in school. As Megumi made a mental rundown of all the things she liked about Kenshin, she was surprised to see him standing right in front of her desk.
"Ohayou gozaimasu," he greeted her politely.
But Megumi wasn't someone who turned into a blubbering idiot around her crush. She took a deep breath to compose herself and gave him a dazzling smile. "Ohayou."
"I see you've read the flyer I made," he commented. "Are you joining the pageant?"
Megumi dropped her eyes coyly, going for the modest look. "I don't think I'd win this time." She tried to ignore the very un-Aoshi-like snort she heard.
Still, Kenshin took the bait. "I think you're one of the prettiest girls in school, Megumi-san. It would be a shame if you didn't join."
"You really think so, Ken-san?" she asked hopefully.
Kenshin nodded. "Sure. I even offered Aoshi that I'd do a profile for each candidate for the school paper. I would be honored to interview you for that."
Megumi smiled. Kenshin really knew the right words to say. Plus he said it with such sincerity and conviction that she couldn't let him down. But just as she opened her mouth to reply, a tall, brown-haired classmate bumped into Kenshin.
Megumi's eyes narrowed. Sanosuke Sagara.
"Himura," the boy growled. "Outside. Right now."
Kenshin nodded and excused himself. "This will only take a minute. Megumi-san. Aoshi."
Megumi scowled at the dark-haired boy who led Kenshin away. Sanosuke was a classmate of theirs, but half the time he didn't even show up for their subjects. But it wasn't a wonder how he managed to land himself in the top class. Rumor had it that he copied all his homework and exams from Kenshin, which was probably why he had interrupted them today. Frankly, the boy got on Megumi's nerves. He was brash and arrogant, always cracking his knuckles and grinning stupidly at her – when he was around. He probably thought he was so cool because he was the star pitcher for the Meiji high baseball team.
"Why does Ken-san let him get away with it?" she complained. "He isn't the type to be bullied around."
Aoshi shrugged, his expression still as serious as before. "You know Kenshin. He always has a good reason for everything."
Megumi closed her book with fierce determination. "Well, I'm going to do something about it." As she stood up and left the room, she could feel Aoshi regarding her with amusement. If Aoshi's features knew what 'amusement' was.
As Megumi stepped into the hallway, she saw Kenshin hand Sano a piece of paper from the corner of her eye. The thought of gentle, sensitive Kenshin being bullied around like that incensed her even more. She went on to find their homeroom teacher. This behavior had to be stopped soon.
She found Mr. Genzai almost immediately. The friendly, elderly teacher was already walking towards their classroom when Megumi stopped him. "Excuse me, Genzai-sensei," she began with a deep bow. "I'd like to talk to you about one of my classmates I'm concerned about. You see, sir, Sanosuke --"
"Sanosuke!" Mr. Genzai boomed heartily, his loud voice echoing down the crowded hallway and catching both Kenshin's and Sanosuke's attention. "I'm glad you brought him up, Megumi. It's rare to see a student show such concern for her fellow classmate."
"Oh, no, sir, I meant --" Megumi said frantically, only to be cut off by Mr. Genzai's enthusiasm.
"You probably heard that he's failing most of his subjects because of baseball," the teacher continued. "You, on the other hand, have one of the best grades in the entire class."
By this time, Kenshin and Sanosuke were looking at her curiously. Megumi watched in horror as the man of her dreams and the bane of her existence approached them slowly, trying to hear every word of her conversation with Mr. Genzai.
She tried again. "No, Mr. Genzai, I just wanted to point out that he's failed to do his homework by himself so--"
"—So you want to help him out?" Mr. Genzai finished for her. "Tutor him, maybe? A marvelous idea!"
Megumi nearly fainted. This had gone from bad to hellishly worse. But with Kenshin there, looking at her encouragingly, all she could do was nod. "I'll see what I can do," she said helplessly.
Mr. Genzai smiled at her. "You're a kind student, Megumi. Now, off to class we go," he said, leaving the three students behind.
Megumi, Kenshin, and Sanosuke stared at each other. "Oi," Sanosuke said finally. "What was that about, kitsune?"
Megumi scowled. She absolutely hated it when Sanosuke called her a fox. "You don't seriously think I wanted to tutor you, rooster-head?"
"But Mr. Genzai is counting on you, Megumi," Kenshin pointed out. Megumi winced when she remembered that Kenshin had heard her sharp comment at Sanosuke. "He's right, you know? You're a good soul to do this."
"She probably did it because she has the hots for me," Sanosuke remarked smugly. "Girls just dig the hair."
Of all the nerve! Megumi grabbed Kenshin's sleeve and propelled him towards their classroom. "You go on ahead, Ken-san, I just have to talk to this baka about something."
When Kenshin was out of earshot, Megumi faced Sanosuke. She jabbed a finger at his firm chest. "Listen, rooster-head. I didn't do that for you. I did that for Ken-san, and look at where it got me. So you do as I say, and the sooner those grades of yours go up, the better. I have a lot of better things to do with my time than to tutor some dumb jock. Just don't get any ideas, you hear?"
"And the fox shows her claws," he remarked. "I should be the one telling you to keep your hands off me."
Megumi was fuming. He had some nerve! To hell with sophistication and grace, she thought to herself. She stuck her tongue out at him.
Beauty Rule #2: Never stuff your bra.
Misao Makimachi looked at her watch. She was standing at the first corner from Aoshi Shinormori's classroom, an excellent position for her daily stalking activities. She took out a mirror from her pocket and smiled at her reflection. Then she adjusted the bra she wore. She had fixed it earlier so she looked more 'blessed' than she really was. There was no way an older guy like Aoshi would look at a girl like her, especially when her front was as flat as an ironing board.
The hall was already filling up with students. Any moment now, he would be coming this way, since he went to the student council office for a few minutes every lunch break.
She braced herself for impact. Five…four…three…two…one.
A pair of strong arms steadied her. Misao tried not to swoon. But just as she melted into his arms, she felt something was wrong.
Misao's eyes widened. This wasn't Aoshi; this was his best friend Kenshin! Where was he? Was he a few steps behind? How could she have miscalculated?
"Oh, it's you again," the redhead said in recognition, giving her a friendly smile. "Aoshi's not going to the office today. He was headed in the opposite direction to distribute flyers and put up posters down the hall."
Misao was mortified.
He knew her? That meant that he had noticed all her covert plans to bump into Aoshi every day! And if he knew, that meant Aoshi…
She could feel her face turning red. "What are you talking about?" she snapped back, a little rudely. Then she pushed him away and ran as far from Kenshin Himura as possible.
How could I have been so transparent?she cursed herself. Aoshi had never given her a second glance each time she bumped into him. All he did was apologize and clasp her shoulders firmly, gently moving her to one side of the hall like she was a little kid. Maybe that's all he saw in her. A pesky little kid.
She tried to console herself. After all, Aoshi was known for being serious all the time. He probably didn't have time to look at her face each time they ran into each other. So just because Kenshin recognized her didn't mean that Aoshi did.
Misao stopped in her tracks. But wasn't that the whole point of her running into him? So that he would recognize her and know she was alive? I guess I just haven't thought of what I would do if he did notice me, she reflected.
She was glad that she ran into Kenshin today. Now she would have to practice how she would react if Aoshi recognized her.
"It's you," he would say as he held her tenderly. An orchestra would be playing in the background, filling the hallway with romantic music.
She would flutter her eyelashes at him and smile. "Yes, Aoshi, I've been here all along."
Then he would lean down and cup her chin with his hand, and bring her…
Misao was hurtled backwards at the force of the second impact. "Watch were you're going, you baka!"
Aoshi looked down at her, cool as ever. "I'm sorry. Are you okay?"
"Uh-huh," she stammered. This was the first time he had looked at her… as in really looked at her. And after she had called him an idiot! Her life was over.
One eye narrowed into a squint ever so slightly. "Are you sure you're not hurt?"
What a gentleman! Not only was he smart and attractive, but he was also caring and gentle. "No, I'm not hurt," she breathed, lowering her eyes. "Thank you for asking." She placed a hand on her left chest, to steady the pounding of her heart when…
…she realized that she was missing a significant portion of her 'anatomy.'
Misao turned pale as she discovered that the tissue she had stuffed into her bra this morning had slipped from the cup when she bumped into Aoshi. Lopsided was an understatement.
"Wait," she heard Aoshi cry out, but she ignored it. She ran, seeking the comfort of her classroom. Maybe she should just drop the whole Aoshi thing. It definitely wasn't going anywhere. It had given her nothing but embarrassment and utter humiliation. He wasn't going to like someone like her. She was too young. Too childish-looking. He should have someone like Megumi Takani, who was tall and voluptuous – a real stunner. Not someone who had to pad her bra to get attention.
But a Makimachi never gave up, right?
A yellow poster caught her eye. "Let your inner beauty shine through. Join the Miss Meiji High School Pageant sponsored by the Student Council," she read out loud.
Maybe this was the break she had been looking for. Inner beauty was fine; her grandfather always assured her that she was beautiful inside and out. But she just needed one last chance to get Aoshi's attention. One last chance to give it her best shot. If it didn't work, then she would walk away. She just needed this opportunity to prove to Aoshi – to prove to the whole world – that she was a woman, not a little girl.
She would win that title. And she would do it with a perfectly padded bra.
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