Author Notes: I am on a weird roll. Probably because I have so much I have to do for classes and I'm the worst procrastinator. Anyways, here is the second installment of my fun piece. This story is easier to write than 'System Compatibility' -not that I don't love writing that story or something. This is just less a labor of love, and more of a fun fling.
Disclaimer: The Rurouni Kenshin world and all characters depicted are a creation of mangaka, Watsuki Nobuhiro.
Hearing the stern knock, Kenshin opened the door and was relieved to see his savior. "Hey Megumi."
The tall dark haired woman gave a tired sigh. "Where's the idiot?"
"In the living room." He gestured her in and led the way. "I would have let him sleep it off on the couch, but he kept asking for you."
"I couldn't leave you to deal with his drunkenness anymore. Especially because we kicked you out." Megumi said.
He laughed, "You moved in with Sano. You deserved the consolation prize of a little bit of privacy."
Coming into the living room she groaned at finding Sano struggling to open another beer bottle. "And what a prize I get."
Seeing his live-in girlfriend Sano gave a drunken wave, "Megumi! What a sight for sore eyes!"
She frowned and looked at Kenshin. "What happened?"
"An old buddy of ours called. Apparently he just had a baby." Kenshin rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly. "He wanted to celebrate."
"And Sano wanted to drink the bar dry." Coming to stand in front of her sloshed boyfriend she pointed to the half finished six pack. "What? You didn't get enough at the bar?"
A silly grin split across his face. "I missed you Megumi."
"Oh brother." She took the still capped bottle from his flailing hands and set it on the coffee table. "Come on. Let's get you home."
Kenshin went to his friend's other side to help him up. As Sano caught his balance he made an odd face. He smacked a hand to his mouth. "I'm going to be sick."
Before Kenshin or Megumi could say anything, Sano made a mad dash to the bathroom. Sighing in exasperation, Megumi slumped onto the couch.
Kenshin chuckled and sat on the other end. "You're not going after him?"
"It's not like he has hair I have to hold back. And he's had enough practice that I'm pretty sure he can puke into the toilet without a problem." She stretched out her limbs. "So how are things with you? The bachelor pad looks like it's coming along."
"I have nothing unpacked." He pointed out.
"Oh good. So you realize that you're living within a tower of cardboard boxes." She glanced at her friend. "You're okay right? Not at a loss without your partner in crime?"
He shook his head with a smile. "I'm probably better off. I worry how you'll be though."
"Despite Sano being an idiot half the time, I couldn't be better." Megumi said returning his smile. "How about you? Any lucky ladies in your life?"
"I'm not sure about lucky," he said. "But I do have a question for you."
"Really?" She sat up in curiosity, the tattooed redhead rarely showed lasting interest in someone. "Do you need advice on where to take her for a date?"
"No, I was hoping for a phone number."
"A phone number?" Megumi frowned, "I know her?"
Kenshin smirked, "Yeah, the girl you sent to my shop."
"I didn't send anyone to your shop." She furrowed her brows.
Kenshin looked confused. "Sure you did. A couple days ago. Kaoru?"
Her eyes widened and she stood up. Facing him, she almost looked livid. "No!"
Taken aback by her reaction he brought up his hands. "Whoa. What's wrong?"
"Not her. No. Find someone else Kenshin." Her voice reminded him of when he was being scolded by one of his foster mothers.
He frowned, "Are you protecting me or her?"
"Her." She let out a sarcastic laugh through her nose. "She can't be one of your toys Kenshin."
"Toys? I think you're making me out to be more of Casa Nova than I really am." He was finding humor in the situation.
She shook her head. "When was the last time you had a serious girlfriend? Been a second date? Or a first date for that matter?"
"Maybe I haven't met the right girl yet." He pointed out.
"She's not the girl Kenshin." She let out a sigh, "It's not all you. She's just fragile."
"Fragile?" That description surprised him, but thinking back to her tattoo session he knew there was some truth to it. "I'm not going to break her."
Megumi sat on the edge of the coffee table to make sure she had his attention. "I've hidden her for years. Even Sano doesn't know about her."
"Why? Sano's not a bad guy."
"I know, it's just whoever meets Sano eventually meets you." She smiled ironically. "I knew the moment you met her you would pursue."
Kenshin sat up bit, "Megumi, I'm just asking for her number. You can give me the lecture if I marry her."
She smirked at his words. "Her number? Then that means she didn't give it to you."
"All the more reason for you to give it to me so she can turn me down again." He tried.
Sano stumbled back in at that moment. Seeing the serious looking conversation he frowned. "Did I miss something?"
"Nope." Megumi stood up and went over to her tower boyfriend. "Let's go before you throw up on Kenshin's couch."
Following them to the door Kenshin gave a comment before they left. "I'm going to see Kaoru again."
Megumi laughed back while balancing a drunk Sano. "Not if I can help it."
"Who's Kaoru?" He heard Sano ask Megumi as he shut the door behind them.
Locking up his door, Kenshin made his way back to the living room. Seeing the mild mess Sano left, he wondered if he should clean up now or leave it for tomorrow. Glancing around the room and seeing the piles of unpacked boxes he sighed. He might as well leave everything for tomorrow; it was his day off after all.
He had enough sense to drink a lot less than Sano, but he knew that without water tonight he would regret it tomorrow. Going through his fridge he opened it to find it lacking in stock aside from the bottles and bottles of water. At least he had that going for him. He mentally made a note to go to the store tomorrow. Grabbing a bottle he broke the seal on his way to his bedroom. He stopped in his tracks when the bright yellow cover of the phonebook caught his attention. Making a bee line to the end table with the book, he set his bottle of water next to it.
Sitting on the arm of his couch he propped the heavy book on his knees. Flipping through to the martial arts section he searched for the kendo section. Coming upon it he furrowed his brows. There were four full pages of kendo dojos within the city limits. Skimming through the different dojo names he found none with the 'sword that gives life' or Kaoru's name listed as a master or instructor.
He thought it over for a moment then tore out the pages from the book. Folding the pages, he stuffed them into his wallet. Just another item on his to do list for tomorrow.
Looking at his watch Kenshin frowned. This was probably the last place he could look for the day. He had underestimated how long cleaning his apartment would take. He also had overestimated his luck. Arriving to the umpteenth dojo for the day he glanced at the sign, 'Kamiya Dojo.' Preparing for disappointment he walked through the gate and wandered toward the sounds of yelling students.
After the first five dojos, he figured out that there wasn't exactly a receptionist in a lot of these places and peeking in was the best way to get the instructor's attention. Looking in he saw the rows and rows of teenage boys and a small handful of girls swinging shinais in precise movements. With each swing they let out a unison yell. He smiled at their sense of discipline, he wondered if in another life he could have pursued kendo.
"Takeshi! Watch your stance!" A strong female voice bellowed from across the dojo. Coming into clear view was the object of Kenshin's pursuit. Dressed in a white gi, tank, and navy hakama, Kaoru wore her hair in a high ponytail. She had a shinai propped on her shoulder as she paced the length of the room.
"Ten more strokes! Make them count!" She counted off each swing while checking the students' forms. She would stop at the occasional student and gesture them to correct their swing. After counting down strokes she nodded and called out. "Good work everyone. I'll see you all next class."
Some students stayed behind to talk to their instructor, the majority of them were boys. Kenshin smirked and waited to be noticed. He finally caught someone's eye, but it was group of giggling girls. One of the girls approached their instructor, and after catching her attention pointed in his direction. Distracted from the boys' questions, or attempts at flirting, she turned around. When she caught sight of his red hair she smiled shaking her head.
Waving the boys off she walked over to where he stood. From her position in the dojo, she was about two feet above him so she crouched down. Laughing she asked, "What are you doing here?"
"Hey Kaoru." He grinned, "Came to see if I could get some kendo lessons."
"I paid for my tattoo. I don't owe you a thing." She leaned against her shinai, "Megumi gave me the heads up. I thought I was going to get a phone call or something."
"See, that's what I would have done but your dear friend wasn't being very cooperative."
"She means well, but she thinks I'm made of glass." She rolled her eyes, "So, what? You lifted my name from my credit card receipt?"
Hearing her suggestion he frowned, "That would actually be smart. And here I thought I was being clever."
Kaoru tilted her head in question, "Then how?"
He pulled out the crumpled papers from his back pocket. "By going A through K in the kendo section of the white pages... Oh, the old master from the Itou dojo says hi."
She couldn't help laughing, "If you told him what you were up to, he probably was less help than anything."
"He sent me on a wild goose chase by saying your last name was Matsumoto. Do you have any idea how many Matsumoto dojos there are?"
"Three?" She guessed.
"Five." Kenshin corrected.
Kaoru shrugged, "It's a popular last name." She shook her head and smirked, "So was it worth it?"
"Depends on how you answer my invitation to dinner tonight." He caught the look of the teenage boys at the other end of the dojo, lingering and watching by the doorway. Kenshin leaned forward and whispered conspiratorially. "You see, I want a yes. But the boys in your class would be heartbroken."
"Well, then you have a dilemma." Kaoru glanced back at his words and then turned back to him. "While I care about my students, I barely know you. Try to guess who I should keep happy."
He flashed a toothy grin, "I don't know Kaoru. I can be extremely annoying if I don't get the answer I want."
She raised a brow, "Oh? How annoying?"
"Relentless. I might swing by every day until I get a yes."
"That could be considered stalking." She pointed out in humor.
"Then I guess your answer is the only thing standing in between me and a life of crime." He huffed and shrugged.
"I'm assuming you're referring to stalking as the crime." She chewed on her bottom lip, and considered him for a long moment. Letting out an exaggerated sigh she nodded. "Fine. One dinner."
Kenshin grinned, "That's all I'm asking."
"That's all you're asking for now." She stood up from her crouch, "I'll meet you out front in ten minutes."
"I'll see you then." He said as she walked across the dojo floor and away from where he stood outside.
Kenshin turned away from the dojo and couldn't help the goofy smile as he made his way toward the front. He didn't quite know why she had caught his interest, but he'd be damned if he was going to let her slip away now; especially after the leg work he went through today. He looked forward to figuring what it was about her, and he hoped that by the end of dinner she would see something in him too.