Standard Disclaimers Apply.

Authors' Notes: dementedchris here. First, I'd like to apologize to readers who thought that we wouldn't be updating this fic any longer. Truth is, there was a death in our family and the last thing I honestly wanted to write was a comedy. I hope you understand. But things have started to get better, and I'm trying to get back in track (so blame me, not Chibi-angel! ^_^). We will try our best not to delay this fic more than we should. Again, my sincerest apologies.

Love Rule # 9: Pay attention.

"So that's the kind of guy you like, huh? Pretty guys?" Sanosuke asked Megumi, trying to sound casual but failing miserably. His mind was still caught in a black hole where Megumi was smiling and flirting at that slick, silver-haired guy from the store.

"What's it to you?" Megumi asked, noticing the depressed look on Sano's face as they walked away from Ayame's shop. Although she wasn't exactly sure what she did to make him look so frustrated, she wasn't about to pass up an opportunity to prolong his agony.

Sano shrugged. "Nothing. Just curious, that's all."

Well, if he wasn't going to talk about it, then she wasn't either. "Okay," she replied cheerfully.

There was a short pause before Sano spoke again. Growled, actually. "You didn't answer my question. So, do you like guys like him?"

Megumi pursed her lips together, trying to look lost in thought. "Well, I like guys who carry themselves well…"

From the corner of her eye, she saw Sano consciously straighten up from his swagger.

"…someone who speaks respectfully towards a lady…"

"I can be respectful," she heard him mutter.

"…someone who is charming and gracious and solicitous of my feelings…"

"Sounds like all you need is an English butler."

"What did you say, Sanosuke?" she said sweetly.

Sano looked flustered. "Uh, sounds like I need some sweets and butter. Uh, I'm hungry."

Megumi smiled. "That sounds like a good idea. What do you say, Kaoru, Misao?" she asked, turning to her new friends. They've been awfully quiet since Sano had joined them, and she began to wonder why.

Now she knew -- it was because they weren't there anymore.

"Where'd they go?! They were here a while ago!" she screeched.

Sano jerked his thumb in the opposite direction. "They went thattaway. Thought you knew." A slow smile spread on his face. "Guess you were too busy talking to me that you didn't notice."

"Oh, please," Megumi retorted, turning her face away so that he wouldn't see the blush on her face. "Let's just go find them, okay?" She made a mental note to get both girls' numbers later to avoid hassles like this as she started down the street.

Sano kept his pace beside her, but his mind was elsewhere. He didn't know why he had this inexplicable feeling to show Megumi that he can be better than that silver-haired guy. Not that he liked her, he reasoned out. He was just naturally competitive.

Yeah, that's right. He was just competitive.

"Excuse me, Megumi-san," he began, laying a careful hand on her arm to get her attention.

"…someone who speaks respectfully towards a lady…"

"What?" she asked, but the way she had drawn out that one syllable told him that she wasn't entirely sure what she was up to.

"I understand that you will be seeing Kaoru-san and Misao-san, so it might be best for me to leave while you enjoy the afternoon with your friends," he continued.

"…someone who is charming and gracious and solicitous of my feelings…"

Megumi looked absolutely confused. "Sanosuke?"

"Besides, I have to go home. After baseball practice, I always have tea with my grandparents. I believe spending time with our elders enriches one's appreciation for culture and tradition," he ended. Of course, that was a complete lie since both of his grandparents were dead, but it made him sound sophisticated.

"Well, I like guys who carry themselves well…"

Take that, Megumi Takani, Sano thought to himself. If that didn't turn him into her dream guy, he didn't know what would. Wait. Dream guy? What was he thinking? He was just competitive. With a casual wave, he turned and walked away, back in the direction they were originally heading.

Behind him, Megumi stared at his retreating back. If she didn't know any better, she'd think that Sanosuke Sagara was… gay.


"So what do we do next?" Kaoru asked brightly. After losing track of Megumi for a few minutes (but she refused to reveal why), she had spent the rest of the afternoon with Megumi and Misao. Kaoru was still eager for more. Maybe it was because she hadn't quite had this kind of girly-bonding before. It was a welcome change from all the academic and martial arts stuff that her life revolved around lately.

Two seconds later, she answered her own question.

"Ne, why don't we try out Ice Castles?" she suggested, pointing to the blue and purple ice cream parlor across the street. "I hear they serve a mean black forest sundae."

She was already crossing the street when a firm hand yanked her back. Megumi's. And she didn't look pleased.

"Oi, tanuki. And where do you think you're going?" she demanded in her typical imperious way, one eyebrow raised.

"Eat ice cream…?" She didn't know what Megumi's problem was. Certainly she wasn't sure what point the older girl was leading to. Misao was obviously no help; stars seemed to have taken up permanent residence in her friend's eyes the moment they walked out of that strange man's shop with the perfect gown.

"After we've had croissants at that new coffee shop?" Megumi continued.

 "That was twenty minutes ago," she defended.

"And after those sandwiches we ate after school?"

"That was two hours ago!"

"And you do realize how many calories there are in one teeny, tiny scoop of ice cream?" came Megumi's deathblow.

Kaoru's world stilled, then she let out a small gasp. "You can't mean… you're not saying… Anything but the D-word!" she protested.

Megumi nodded firmly. "Diet."


Beauty Rule # 5: Diet is a four letter word.

"But I'm a growing girl!" Kaoru was still protesting a few hours later, when they had gathered at Kaoru's house for dinner. If anyone could call the sprinkling of greens on their plates dinner.

"We all have to sacrifice for the sake of beauty," Megumi said.

"Sake -- of -- beauty," Misao echoed, scribbling the words down on a notepad. "Got it."

Kaoru glared at her so-called friend. No help there. Traitor. She took a deep breath and focused her arguments on Megumi. "But I'm an athlete!" she pointed out.

"Who also happens to be a contestant for one of the biggest beauty contests in the prefecture and who, in just a few weeks, will be strutting in front of hundreds wearing a strapless, backless formal gown and -- even quite possibly -- a bikini," she clarified. "Or you can just go back to your subway sandwiches and ice cream sundaes and say goodbye to ever winning the Miss Meiji High contest with your size thirty-waistline."

"I do not have a size thirty waistline!" Kaoru yelled.

"I think she's a twenty-nine," Misao piped up.

Kaoru rolled her eyes. "Gee, thanks, Misao," she said sarcastically.

"My pleasure," Misao beamed.

Megumi raised a hand. "Whatever. The point is, Kaoru, if you want to win, you really have to want it bad. When you train for one of your tournaments, you just don't practice for a day and expect to win, right? You do it for weeks, months, and you make sure that everything that you do won't jeopardize your chances." She pushed the plate towards Kaoru. "This is just like one of those competitions. And didn't you say you wanted to win?"

Kaoru pouted, but she could see the other girl's point. "Okay," she conceded finally. "But what about Misao?"

"What about her?" Megumi asked.

"Shouldn't she be dieting as well?"

Megumi leaned her head to one side, studying Misao carefully. "I think she even needs to put on a bit more." A pause. "Especially up there."

"Wait a minute, Megumi," Kaoru interrupted. "Are we really going to be wearing bikinis?"

"Well, I wouldn't count it out, knowing that Shishio's directing the show," she answered. "Maybe there'll be a swimsuit competition. Maybe not. But you really wouldn't want to take a chance, would you?"

Kaoru nodded slowly. Her mind immediately conjured an image of her sashaying across the stage looking irresistibly hot in a red bathing suit that matched Kenshin's hair -- and the color of his cheeks. "You're right." She cracked her knuckles. "Yosh! Let's get started."


"Asparagus… Beet… Broccoli… Cabbage… Carrot… Cauliflower… Ugh! What was that other C on that negative calorie chart?!"

To say Kaoru was pissed was an extreme understatement.

Kaoru had been through hell and back trying to memorize "Megumi's Guide to Size 6". While Misao was happily jotting down notes of what Megumi was saying, Kaoru, on the other hand, could not understand what the hell was wrong with her figure.

So maybe she had a few bulges here and there. But that was needed because she was an athlete. She needed stored up energy for her kendo. If that was not enough, it has an anthropological explanation for it. Women just simply needed excess fat for child bearing.

She sighed. Just how much hold did society have on women?

Sure, she was willing to put an extra effort to lose some pounds especially for that gorgeous redhead whom she was sure was going to watch her but…

"Ohohoho! Now listen little girl, and listen good. This is the one secret beauty queens or any girl for that matter shed blood and tears to know."

"And what is that supposed to be?" Kaoru whispered, almost as if she feared that the BIG one would be heard by others.

The tension among them was almost unbearable that Kaoru and Misao did not even notice that they were holding their breaths until Megumi smirked.

Slowly, Megumi glanced at both Kaoru and Misao, looking at both their eyes. In a low voice, she revealed, "Guys are into the two B's"

"Two B's… got it," Misao repeated enthusiastically as she leaned forward to listen for more.

"Boobs and butt."

"That's the big secret?" Kaoru asked incredulously, rolling her eyes.

"Yes, dearie. What were you expecting? Big Belly?" Megumi smirked, pinching Kaoru's love handles.

"That is the big secret!? That is the missing link between Venus and Mars!?"

"Well, what else would you expect from men?"



And then, the only sound that could be heard was the gracious laughter coming out from three lovely and poised ladies.

The dogs howled along as the birds flew away.

Gracious indeed.

After a long display on how not to laugh like a lady, the glint on Megumi's eyes returned as she flipped her long ebony locks to one shoulder. "Quiet, ladies, our class has begun."

Kaoru groaned aloud as she remembered their afternoon 'bonding session'. "I bet Megumi is loving every second of it."


"Stop it!!!" Kaoru placed her hand on her ears, shaking her head violently. Where was that bokken when she needed release!?

Suddenly, Kaoru's face lit up. Genius indeed! She took her bokken inside her back and began performing swings and lunges as she walked home.

"Still haven't lost your form, Kamiya," a new voice said. She turned to see Usui smirking, as he leaned against a tree.

"Can't afford to lose it with perverts like you around," she retorted.

"But, Kaoru-sama, we don't mean any harm. Let us be thrown in the abyss if I spoke no truth."

Kaoru gripped the handle of her bokken a little tighter. Was there some sort of conspiracy to annoy her to death? "Ryuuzaburo, lucky for you, there is not even a lake nearby or else I would have thrown you in. I had a bad day. Do. Not. Piss. Me. Off." With a huff, she left.

"Wait a minute, babe." Chou leered, pulling her arm.

Big Mistake. All hell broke loose as Kaoru Kamiya only saw red.

"Hey, chick. I didn't mean--"

"Do not call me, chick!"

Kaoru did not grow up in a nice family, study in a good school and master kendo just to be harassed by perverts who wouldn't stop calling her babe, chick or any other form of nicknames that objectify her and condescend her as a woman!

As the battle ensued, two yelps were heard nearby as a flash of red breezed through the trees.

"I have a name, you know! It's Kaoru!" Kaoru yelled, finally giving her cocky suitor a last blow on the head.

After defeating the now swirly-eyed broom head, she turned her head to the side, wanting to finish her day with a bang. Literally. "Eh? Where's that Ryuuzaburo and Usui? Mou! Just when I had finally warmed myself up." She discretely searched the area with her eyes but they were gone.

She sighed deeply. Peace at last.

Wanting to vent out her pent up steam, she continued swinging her bokken. Forward. To her side. To the fence. Among the bushes until...



Love Rule # 10: A smile can bridge chasms.

Fist connected to cheek.


"Ka- Kaoru-dono!" Kenshin stuttered, cheeks flushed in a deep shade of red.

"Baka! What are you doing here?"

"What a coincidence, isn't it?" Kenshin scratched his head, picking out a leaf that got stuck on his hair. He forced a chuckle.

Kaoru only raised her eyebrow. "Coincidence is when I pass by you on the road. What are you doing there hiding under the bush?"

"Uh… searching for my contact lenses?" he answered tentatively. "I got a new pair that makes my eyes turn amber."

"And you expect me to believe that?" Kaoru asked, tapping her foot impatiently on the ground.

Kenshin squared his shoulders and cleared his throat. There was no escape for him now. "Well, I want to apologize."

"By scaring me half-to-death! Nice—"

Just then, Kenshin stood up, holding both her arms with his hands. In a low voice, he began, "Listen to me, Kaoru! I..."

Kaoru could only stare at his deep amethyst pools, mesmerized. How could he do it? One minute he was acting like such a dork and the next...

"...I am sorry, Kaoru..."

Kaoru felt her heart stop.

"... I'm sorry for being too smooth back at your house. I'm sorry for being a dweeb back at the restaurant! I am sorry for stalking you. I am sorry for starling you and…"

"And…" Kaoru's lips curved up into a smile. She could really get used to this. Maybe she should just ask him to kneel down and beg. That's right! He should beg for making giving her sleepless nights, for almost causing her to reject love entirely, for making her want to fall for her.

"…I …I'm sorry."

Their eyes met and Kaoru felt her knees weaken.

Kenshin continued, "Whenever I am with you, I feel like I am riding an emotional roller coaster. One minute I feel so high, and the next I'm down in the dumps."

"Emotional roller coaster, huh? Is that a compliment?"


"Then that's the weirdest compliment I had ever received, Kenshin Himura!"

Kenshin smiled. "Would you rather that I call you beautiful instead?"

Kaoru rolled her eyes.

"I thought so," Kenshin offered his hand as they began walking back to her house. "I wouldn't want to undermine you that way."

Kenshin knew that there was nothing wrong with being called beautiful or calling someone else beautiful but with Kaoru, it was different. He felt that she needed to hear something else. From what he had researched, one of the main reason why Kaoru dumped all her suitors was that they were all just attracted to her superficially. They claimed to love her even if they still did not know her.

He wouldn't deny the fact that Kaoru was physically attractive but there was something about her that gravitates him to her.

Suddenly, Kenshin's musing were cut off when Kaoru grinned, "You, Himura-san, are such a smooth talker."

"I think that mean punch you gave me worked wonders," Kenshin joked, rubbing his jaw.

"You could have blocked it!"

"Well, I did deserve it."

"For what? Stalking me? If I recalled correctly, you did mention something about stalking, right?" At this point, Kaoru's heart was pounding furiously against her chest. Stupid girl! Why did she let that slip!? He would then confirm that she heard, hence, he would think it was okay with her since she didn't get mad about it the instant he told her about it!

If he thought that it was okay for him to stalk her then she would end up being a walking contradiction when, clearly, that was not the case. It was just that she didn't know how to react when she found that out and besides, she didn't know what his intentions were.

Kaoru took a deep breath, tired of her inner ramblings.

"Ano… that was…"

"Forget it!" Kaoru stated in feign nonchalance as she picked up her pace just so he wouldn't see her flushed face.

"I followed you because I was jealous of that silver-haired man at the store and I wanted to protect you from Psycho and Romeo."

Just then, a realization dawned upon Kaoru. Kenshin was the reason why Usui and Ryuuzaburo disappeared.

Maybe Kenshin was a keeper, after all.

Kaoru smiled, not slowing down her pace. She just yelled over her shoulder, "Call me sometime." At that, she ran all the way home. What was happening to her?


"Something's different about you," Misao told Kaoru when her friend slipped into place beside her during the rehearsal the next day.

"Really?" the other girl replied, placing a hand on her cheek. "What makes you say that?"

"You're glowing," Megumi butted in. "It must be that broccoli surprise I told you to eat last night. Aren't I a genius? Ohohoho!"

Misao studied Kaoru carefully. Her cheeks were flushed and her eyes were bright. She didn't think any of Megumi's vegetable concoctions could have done the trick. "No, I don't think so."

Before any of the girls could reply, Shishio -- still heavily bandaged due to their last antics -- pounded his crutches sharply onto the stage floor. "How many times do I have to tell you people to listen? You'd all end up floundering like beached whales if you don't. It's like I always say, only --"

"-- the strong survive and the weak will die," everyone chorused wearily. Shishio had only been repeating that statement 24/7.

"Good," he said. "Now, when the emcee calls out your name, I want you to come up here to the center and… wait a minute. Sagara!" he shouted. "Didn't I ask you to place tape on the stage to mark the girls' spots?"

No reply.

"Sagara!" Shishio bellowed.

A familiar black-haired guy walked coolly into view. "Sagara had baseball practice. He said he'd catch up with us later so I told him I'd step in for him while he was gone," Aoshi told the director as he proceeded to place small x's made out of tape on the stage.

"Baseball practice?" Shishio frowned. "But it's not even baseball season. And how come I didn't know about it when I'm on the baseball team myself, huh?"

"It's not like you can play," Aoshi said casually, noting the casts on Shishio's arm and legs. "He said it was for an invitational game that we'll be having during the cultural festival. Just a little off-season practice."

Either Shishio was satisfied with Aoshi's explanation or he didn't want to cross the council president because he turned his attention back to the girls. Misao sneaked a peek at the perfectly good view she had of Aoshi's butt as he bent over and taped the floor.

"Off-season practice, my foot," she heard Megumi mutter under her breath. "He's probably out flirting with his fangirls."

Misao's forehead wrinkled. "Who, Sagara?" She paused as the wheels in her head slowly turned, trying to put two and two together. "Wait a minute, Megumi. Don't tell me you like Sanosuke Sagara?"

"Me? Like that uncouth rooster-head? Please," Megumi scoffed. She even added her traditional "Ohohoho!" laugh at the end of her sentence, but Misao thought that it was a little forced. If Megumi wouldn't admit it, then she wasn't going to force the issue. She would just file it for another day. One never knew when information could come in handy.

True enough, when Sano came rushing into the auditorium only five minutes before practice was over, Misao watched Megumi blush a little before tossing her pretty head. "How remarkably considerate of you to show up," she declared haughtily, her voice ringing above Shishio's angry "Where have you been?"

"Didn't Shinomori tell you?" he replied, taking a pile of curtains away from Aoshi.

Shishio shrugged, then turned back to the group. "Whatever. You all better be here tomorrow, including you, Sagara. It's our last day for rehearsals, since the pageant will be in two days." His eyes narrowed at Megumi. "And I do hope that none of you show up with two left feet on pageant day."

Misao choked back a giggle as Megumi poked her in the back. From the corner of her eye, she thought she saw Aoshi turn in their direction. As she focused on him, she started to block out the sound of Shishio's drone and all other instructions -- until Kaoru waved in front of her face.

"Hey, dreamer," her friend laughed. "Let's get going!"

"You mean home?" she replied.

Kaoru shook her head. "Didn't you hear Shishio? We're supposed to help the crew put the costumes away. Besides, everyone's leaving and we promised that we'd stay and help Megumi out with the dance program."

Misao looked longingly at Aoshi's butt as it walked towards the entrance. "Uh, yeah."


They turned to Sano's brief greeting. "Where's the fox?"

Kaoru jerked her thumb backstage. "I think she's helping put the costumes away. Why?"

Surprisingly, the usually cool athlete floundered for words. "Well, uh, it's just that, uh… anyway, I was going home and thought uh…"

"You wanted to walk her home, huh?" Misao finished for him.

"No way!" he protested loudly. "Are you outta your mind?"

"Is there anything wrong here?"

Misao wondered why Aoshi had a habit of just showing up behind her and startling her out of her skin. She knew he was standing just a few feet away, but she felt the electricity creeping up and down her spine at his words.

"Nothing," Sano answered quickly. At that moment, Megumi showed up, her arms crossed over her chest. Seeing her, Sano straightened. "Come on, let's go."

"I suppose you think that's an invitation," she told him coolly. "What happened to yesterday's Mr. Suave and Sophisticated?"

Sano blushed. "Look, I'm not going to ask you again--"

"Uh, I hate to answer for Megumi," Kaoru interrupted, "but she's not going home yet. There's something we three need to fix."

Aoshi cleared his throat. "Here? I'm afraid you can't do that, Kamiya-san. Students are not allowed to use the facilities without faculty permission, and Saitou-san has already left. I'm going to lock up and turn the key to the custodian. You'd better be going as well." Then with a courteous nod, he turned on his heels and walked away.

Misao watched him walk away for a second time that day, but this time, not as lovestruck as she was earlier. All she could think about was how much they needed the time to help Megumi practice, especially after everything the senior had done for her and Kaoru.

"Wait!" she called out.

He stopped and turned. "Yes?"

She half-jogged to where he was. Her heart was pounding wildly now, as adrenaline surged through her. Misao couldn't believe that she summoned up the guts to address him as she did now.

"Can't you help us out here?" she asked. "We really need to stay. We promise that we will be one hundred percent responsible if there should be any damage to the auditorium." She paused, daring to look at him straight in the eye. "You have my word."

For a moment, Aoshi stood so perfectly still that Misao thought he was going to tell her to go away. What did the word of an underclassman mean to him, anyway? But she knew she had to try.

And to her complete surprise, he regarded her thoughtfully. "Your word, huh?"

"And if that isn't enough, I swear on--"

"No, don't swear," he cut off, the slightest touch of a smile on his lips. "Tell your friends that you can stay. I'll hold you to your word."

"Hey, Aoshi, what's keeping you?" Kenshin suddenly popped his head inside the auditorium. "You said we'd--" His voice trailed off, and even from the distance, Misao could see him swallow visibly. "Hi, Kaoru," he said.

"Well, hello to you too, loverboy," Sano drawled out sarcastically.

His remark seemed to shake Kenshin out of his reverie. "Oh, hi, everyone." Then he coughed self-consciously. "Uh, what was I saying?"

"You were asking Shinomori-san why he was still here," Kaoru replied.

"I was?" he clarified.

"That's because I was just telling the girls that we'd wait for them later," Aoshi answered firmly.

"You are?" Misao asked.

"We are?" Sano demanded.

"Well, If you don't want to…" Megumi began.

"I don't?" Sano echoed, unfortunately making his statement into a question. He coughed. "I mean, I don't. No, I mean, of course, I want to." Then, as if realizing how uncool that made him, he shrugged. "I mean, I don't mind waiting if you're so eager to spend the afternoon with me."

Megumi's jaw dropped open. "Well, I never--! Aaargh!" She threw her hands up in helpless surrender, then walked away.

During the commotion, Misao noticed that Aoshi was already heading for Kenshin's direction. "Thank you!" she called to his back. When he didn't seem to take notice, she turned back to Kaoru and Megumi, a little disappointed.

If she had stayed a few seconds longer, she would have seen Aoshi turn to her, a casual dinner invitation on his lips. There was just something different about her, and he didn't mean her lack of upper body curves. But seeing that she turned to go, he went his own way.

Maybe next time.


Princess Rule # 7: Don't loose yourself in the haze!

"Megumi, are you sure you won the beauty pageant last year?" Kaoru asked, with an all too familiar taunting smile on her face.

Megumi scowled.

"Now, now Smile." Kaoru fought the urge to laugh at Megumi's display of irritation. Dancing was definitely not her forte. "One. Two. Three. Four. Double. Double. Turn." Kaoru executed perfectly, showing Megumi what the steps were.

Megumi nodded, following her lead.

"Okay, so extend your arms like this."

The reigning queen did as she was told, glancing at her arms to check the angle. There. Almost per--

"Not like that." Kaoru shook her head in disapproval. "Like this."

"Like this?"

"No. You're as stiff as a mannequin. Relax." Kaoru winked.

"You are enjoying this, aren't you?"

"Of course we are!" Misao quipped from behind. She was sitting on the side watching Megumi and Kaoru. It was admittedly satisfying to see the confident upperclassman so flustered. One dance instructor was enough to drive Megumi to the edge. So as tempting as it was to "help" Kaoru, she just observed.

And laughed.

Megumi narrowed her eyes and growled. This was so embarrassing! Why couldn't she just give them beauty tips all day! Kaoru felt like a slave driver! Why did she ask her help in the first place? She completely forgot that Kaoru was a kendo shihondai.

Why her?

"What are friends for?" Kaoru grinned. "So repeat. One. Two. Three. Four."

As Kaoru and Megumi continued repeating their steps, a good-looking boy sat beside Misao. "Hello, Misao-san! How are you?"

"Oh, hi, Soujiro! It's been a while. I'm fine! How about you?" Misao gushed, giving Soujiro a brief hug. It really had been a while and she had missed her good friend.

"Fine as well. I see you are teaching Megumi-san in the choreography. I am glad to see all of you getting along together."

"Weird turn out of events, ne?"

"But good, nevertheless." Soujiro smiled at her.

"Don't forget to smile!" Misao called out, earning a glare from Megumi. She and Soujiro shared a chuckle.

Misao had been pretty busy and Soujiro knew it. He had been looking for her during break times but he would always find her in the company of Kaoru and Megumi. Not that there was anything wrong with it. He just missed her. Looking at her fondly, he said, "Misao, you look great today."

Misao blushed, looking at her clothes. She was wearing a sweat shirt and jogging pants. "You mean this old thing?"

"Misao!" Kaoru waved her hands in the air, calling Misao's attention.

Sighing, Soujiro whispered his reply. "I mean always."

"What did you say?"

"They're already calling you."

"Oh yeah." Misao nodded absentmindedly as she smiled. "I'll talk you later, Sou-chan!"

"Okay, I'll just sit here and watch if that's okay."

"Of course!" At that, Misao left.

"Turn. Great!" Kaoru clapped her hands in happiness. "You are finally getting it!"

"Of course! It's not that hard anyway!" Megumi winked. She couldn't believe she was finally able to do it!

"Okay, we are going to practice doing cartwheels. Misao is going to teach you."

Megumi paled. Just when she thought she would sleep that night with her ego smiling. "Is this absolutely necessary?" she squeaked. A Takani never squeaked but...

"This is your weakness, right?" Kaoru asked, her voice purely professional.

"I really wouldn't call it a weakness. It is more like a physical challenge for me."

"Whatever you say, Megumi." Misao smiled. At that she pulled her sleeves to her shoulders and tucked her shirt in her pants. Taking a deep breath, she instructed Megumi what to do as she executed it slowly. "First, you put your right hand down and lift your left leg. Don't bend that leg as your right leg kicks the floor. It must be strong enough to propel both your legs. The most important thing that you should remember is that you should never bend your arms. Unless you have mastered this and have complete strength and control over your actions, you should lock your arms so that your head wouldn't hit the ground."

With that, Misao did a flawless cartwheel.

"Sounds easy enough." Megumi laughed nervously. She could only fall for too many times, right?


Unfortunately, she was proven wrong.

Again and again.


"Where could those guys be?" Kaoru wondered. "They said they'd be here, right?"

"Maybe they got tired of waiting," Misao replied.

Megumi frowned. "It's just like them to say one thing then forget to follow through. A complete pain. Come on, maybe they just grabbed a bite at the canteen."

Fortunately, she was right.

Unfortunately, the guys weren't alone.

Yumi was sitting so close to Aoshi that another breath would land her on his lap. To their right, Sano had each arm around Tae and Tokio, who were both giggling demurely at what was presumably one of his wisecracks. And at the far end of the table, Kenshin and Shura were lost in their own little world, in a deep conversation that had them staring into each other's eyes.

The world turned black.

This was war.

~~ to be continued ~~

Author's Notes:

Sorry if many of you thought that this fic was discontinued. We would never do that! Dementedchris and I enjoy writing this fic so much to abandon this. I only ask for patience in the updates because we are both quite busy with life. I hope this chappie makes up for the long wait! ^__^ Hopefully, the next chap is going to be out soon!