* Standard disclaimers apply

* Italic texts denote either thoughts by characters, flashback of what the men have said or the conversation among the men.

What a Woman Wants…

It was a cold night in Tokyo. Three men were gathering around a fire camp in the backyard of a well-known dojo, their shoulders hunched down. You could tell that something was weighing on their mind. After a moment of silence Sagara Sanosuke finally sighed and broke the silence, "Why do I feel that we all have the same problems?"

"Do you think so, Sagara?" replied the tall man on his right side. The cold night wind blew his bangs, revealing his green eyes to his two companions. Shinomori Aoshi had closed his eyes and hid his emotions most of the time, but this time he let his guard down. "Then what is your problem?"

"Why don't you start, Kenshin?" Sanosuke elbowed his friend.

Himura Kenshin immediately woke up from his reverie. "Huh? What? What happened?"

Sanosuke patted his back. "Pal, you can always count on me. Now tell, what's your problem with Jou-chan?"

"What?!!" Kenshin's face turned red. "Wha.. what do you mean? Sessha doesn't have any problem with Kaoru-dono!!"

"Aw, come on! You didn't think I would buy it, did you?"

"I think Sagara was right, Himura. We didn't buy it…. Why else the long face?"

Kenshin tried to defend himself. "But… sessha is perfectly happy with sessha's life."

"Yeah, right…" Sanosuke responded sarcastically. "If you didn't have any problem with Jou-chan, why would you sit here with us? You would have cuddled with her in such a cold night, wouldn't you?"

Kenshin's face turned even redder. "Sanosuke, that is none of your business!!"

"Like it or not, Kenshin, you have to admit that we're all men who have troubles with their love life…"

Silence filled the air. They could hear the sound of the wind blowing gently, while in the background the night creatures sang their own songs. Being so troubled with whatever lingered at their minds, the men even thought that they were hearing sad songs.

Unexpected by everyone, Aoshi decided to end the deafening silence. "I couldn't seem to understand what she really thinks…"

Sanosuke and Kenshin stared at each other in disbelief. Both were amazed that Aoshi was actually talking about Misao to them. Nevertheless, his words immediately captured their attention.

"She came to me this morning while I was reading some books. She told me… ehm.. her problems."

"What were her problems anyway?"

"None that you should know, Sagara." Aoshi replied coldly. Then he softened a bit. "Anyway, I tried to give her advice. I've already offered possible solutions I could see before my eyes. I know that it would solve her problems, at least make things better. But instead of a smile I saw a frown on her face…. Then she simply said thank you and leave me." The okashira scratched his head slightly. "I could tell she was annoyed. It's almost like she was angry…."

"But why?" Kenshin pondered over Aoshi's story. "Misao-dono should be happy that she has found the solutions of her problems, shouldn't she?"

"Yeah, Weasel-girl…"

Aoshi's eyes flashed dangerously as he heard it. "Don't call her weasel, Sagara…"

"Geez! I'm just joking, man! Take it easy…" For a moment I forgot that he was still the okashira after all… Then Sanosuke resumed his talk, "I agree with Kenshin. Wea.. err.. Misao should be happy that you gave her some advice. I mean, it's logical, isn't it? She told you her problems, you gave her solutions. What more could she ever want?"

Aoshi only shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know. That's why I said that I didn't understand what she thought, let alone what she wanted…"

"Well, it's actually the same with me…" Sanosuke finally admitted. "I don't understand what Kitsune's got in her mind either…"

"Did you have a fight with Megumi-dono?"

"Nah.. not really…. Well…"

"Well??" Kenshin and Aoshi raised their eyebrows.

"… She asked me to buy tofu at the market. I refused. I told her it was no man's job!" Sanosuke turned to Kenshin. "I didn't mean to insult you, Kenshin. But there was no way I, Sagara Sanosuke, formerly known as Zanza, would go to the market to buy tofu!! I told her I would do anything else beside buying groceries or doing ladies stuffs…."

"How did Megumi-dono react?"

"She only nodded and later she went to buy it herself…"

"And now she's angry and acting cold toward you?" Aoshi finished it.

"Well, sort of… hey, I didn't know you would ever want to engage yourself in this sort of talks, Aoshi! Where has the ice-man been?"

Aoshi only shot the ex-gangster death glare.

"Well…" Kenshin finally spoke up. "Sessha at least does what Kaoru-dono wants. Sessha goes to the market to buy tofu if Kaoru-dono wants it. Sessha does the laundry everyday faithfully. Sessha even cooks, lest Yahiko would grow with malnutrition…"

Kenshin, you pathetic… Sanosuke thought. The greatest warrior of Bakumatsu is a slave to a woman…. You damage the dignity of men…

"Recently sessha has accepted the offering from Chief Uramura to escort some important people. Sessha is paid quite decently for that. Uhm… sessha has been planning to propose Kaoru-dono soon…" Kenshin blushed a little. "Sessha wants to provide for our family." But then he sighed dejectedly. "Sessha thought that Kaoru-dono would be happy now that sessha has a job…. But she doesn't. Lately Kaoru-dono has frowned more that she smiled. Sessha thought she wanted me to find a job…"

"Maybe you forgot your daily chores…"

"No! Never would sessha do that! Besides, chief Uramura only needs me once or twice in a week. It's not like sessha doesn't have time to do the daily chores."

"Then why isn't Kamiya happy?" Aoshi mused over the matter. "It's only logical that she should be happy. But it seems our logic doesn't fit in her thoughts, or Misao's and Takani's thoughts…"

"Aoshi's right…" Sanosuke replied. "Women are illogical…"

Those three men sighed gloomily. The same question haunted their troubled minds: What does a woman want…?

***

[Misao]

I've tried to sleep for several hours to sleep. But somehow I can't…. I don't know, I guess something's bothering me. Is it Aoshi-sama…?

For a moment I gazed at the ceiling of my room. Kaoru let me sleep here during our stay in Tokyo. Aoshi-sama… I whispered his name softly. He has changed a lot. The walls of ice that he once built around him have begun to melt. I'm really happy for that. Especially because he started to open up to me. But sometimes he can be so dense… I felt a single tear escaping my eyes.

This morning I came to him to tell him about my problems regarding the Oniwabanshuu. I've been telling him about it for 20 minutes, and all he did is giving me some advice and solutions!! Did he think I'm a child or what? Did he really think that I didn't know solutions? Did he really think so little of me…? Doesn't he trust me?

I tried to give her advice. I've already offered possible solutions I could see before my eyes. I know that it would solve her problems, at least make things better.

Aoshi-sama, I didn't want your advice. I didn't want you to solve my problems either. I was emotionally tired because of it. I just wanted you to listen…

"What's wrong with giving a solution to her problem?" Aoshi asked Kenshin and Sanosuke, to which the ex-gangster and ex-Battousai could only shrugged.

I just wanted to be sure that you understand me completely, that you know my feelings…. I didn't even finish telling you the story because all the time you asked me about the details until I became tired and left. Why did you need the detail anyway? I didn't tell you to get your advice! I came to you because I just wanted to be heard. Because I wanted to share it with you. Because I need to be understood…

Well, I admit that he saw things I couldn't see. But that's not why I talked to him in the first place…. I wish Aoshi-sama knew that I only want him to listen and to understand…. Now I feel that he doesn't trust me at all….

***

[Megumi]

I rubbed my eyes. I've just cried… again. Now I'm beginning to act like tanuki-chan. Only that I wouldn't cry openly in front of people, especially in front of that baka rooster head. But a woman is allowed to cry, isn't she?

Sanosuke, how could you…? I only asked you to go to the market to buy tofu, that's all!!! What's so difficult about it anyway? Ken-san does it everyday. Kaoru-chan is so lucky that Ken-san is her man.

I told her it was no man's job! There was no way I, Sagara Sanosuke, formerly known as Zanza, would go to the market to buy tofu!! I told her I would do anything else beside buying groceries or doing ladies stuffs….

Sanosuke, it's not about you doing woman's chore. Many years ago, when my parents still lived, my father had done the same for my mother. I still remember that every morning Mother would ask Father to buy the groceries. It was some sort of a tradition within our family.

"I mean, it's ridiculous, isn't it?" Sanosuke asked Kenshin and Aoshi.

"Well, at least I don't think it's ridiculous," replied Kenshin.

"Hmph.. why should I trust you? You're Jou-chan's slave anyway."

"Sanosuke, sessha is not Kaoru-dono's slave! Sessha does it out of love…"

Sanosuke ignored the redhead. "Aoshi, what do you think of it?"

Aoshi could only shrugged.

"Come on, guys! It's only tofu! It's nothing important!"

Father used to say that men should respect women. He said that by doing what Mother asked, he showed her that he cherished her and that he cared about her. Besides, Father told us that we have to share the chores in the household. 'I can't cook, so I will buy the groceries and your mother cooks. Then it's really fair.' I smiled at those sweet memories. Father, how I wish that Sanosuke would respect me the way you had respected Mother….

Sanosuke, can't you see it? Can't you see that it's not about you buying tofu? It goes much more deeper than just buying groceries. It means so much for me. By doing that I would know that you really care about me. I just want you to respect me…. All the time you call me 'Kitsune', while you call Kaoru 'Jou-chan'. I do have a name! It hurts, Sanosuke…. It hurts a woman a lot when a man doesn't respect her…

But then, I never told you. How are you supposed to know anyway…?

***

[Kaoru]

Kenshin. That name has long since captured my heart. He is everything I could ever want from a man. Where else would you find a man who does the laundry everyday so faithfully as him?

Sessha at least does what Kaoru-dono wants. Sessha goes to the market to buy tofu if Kaoru-dono wants it. Sessha does the laundry everyday faithfully. Sessha even cooks…

But that's not what I want from you…. Well, that's not what I want the most from you. Kenshin, a woman doesn't need a man to do everything she wants him to do. A woman doesn't need a man to help her in the household. It would be nice, but that's not everything…

"Sessha does it out of love, not because sessha is Kaoru-dono's slave…" Kenshin spoke slowly.

"Yeah, yeah, even the stones know you do it because you love her. But have you ever told her that you love her?" Sanosuke looked at him sharply.

"Everyone seems to know it except Kamiya-san herself? Have you, Himura?"

Sanosuke gazed at the full moon above their heads. "Kenshin, a man would climb the highest mountain and cross the seven oceans, even pass through the gates of hell to prove his love to his woman. But when he gets home, he would find her already gone. She would say that he'd never told her he loved her."

Kenshin, I just want to hear you say that you love. Just three simple words. Yet, you never said it. If you do love me, it wouldn't be so hard to say it, would it? Why have you never told me? I know deep down there you love me. You do love me, don't you, Kenshin?

I realize that lately I haven't been really cheerful. I should be glad that you've got a new job. But somehow I feel threatened. I'm afraid that you will leave me if chief Uramura requires you to go somewhere else… that's why…. Guess what, Kenshin? I'm not even sure if I'm still important to you. Do you still think of me as the most important person in your life? How should I know if you never told me?

Geez, I'm being selfish again.… I love you with my whole heart. For as long as I live I will love no one else but you. But can't you see what I need? I don't want money from you. I don't want you to buy tofu and do the laundry everyday. I want to be sure that I am the most important person in your life. I just want to hear you say that you love me…

***

The fire had gotten a little dimmer. "Sanosuke, isn't Megumi waiting for you?"

His companions could notice the hint of sadness and hurt in his voice as he answered the question. "Is she? She's probably still mad at me for not buying that silly tofu…"

"And Misao is probably feeling annoyed and angry because I gave her the solution of her problems…"

"Sessha thinks Kaoru-dono is not happy because sessha has found a job and because sessha does everything she wants…. Oro!! But it doesn't make any sense at all!!" Kenshin sighed in frustration. "Except for Sano, we did what they want us to do. But they weren't happy for that…"

They all fell silent. Each could not understand why their women were unhappy. Each didn't know what's going through in the minds of their women.

"I really don't understand what Kitsune is thinking…"

"I don't know what Misao needs from me…"

"Sessha doesn't know what Kaoru-dono wants sessha to do…"

And so they sat there; the ultimate question kept plaguing their minds: What does a woman want from her man?

***

In the meantime Misao, Megumi and Kaoru were lying in their respective futon. They all whispered the same words at the same time, "What a woman really wants… is no more or no less than to be understood, to be respected and to be loved…."

- The End -

Author's Note:

* This fic is in no way meant to insult men out there! My intention was to stress out the difference between the way men and women think. I hope you noticed their different perspectives to the same problem…

* This crazy idea came up to me when I was just going to sleep. You may find it pathetic, but nevertheless I'd like to know what you think about it. Thank you for reading this fic.