PLEASE READ: I have read many stories where Kaoru receives a lot of stigma for taking Kenshin in and letting him live with her because she is an unmarried woman. Some of these situations are rather well done and interesting in fanfiction, but I wanted to try something else. This story works best if you imagine that the townspeople are actually rather happy to have Kenshin around and view him as a protective figure. They may find it odd that he lives with an unmarried woman, but he has done too much for the community to be truly ostracized.
This is also my first time writing a Rurouni Kenshin story. I hope you enjoy it!
Rurouni Kenshin is the property of Nobuhiro Watsuki.
Everyone was enjoying a calm afternoon on the engawa when Kenshin set down the onigiri he had made with Megumi. He rejoined the group and analyzed the shogi board for Sanosuke's latest move before determining Yahiko no longer had a chance at winning. Picking at his lunch he watched his friends pass the time in the final warm days of autumn. 'This is happiness. There could not be a better time than now.'
"Kenshin?" Kaoru's whisper and the soft touch of her hand brought him out of his languid thoughts. He met her gentle smile and felt suddenly reassured in his choice. With his nod of approval, she turned to address their closest friends.
"I have an announcement to make…" Three pairs of eyes turned to Kaoru in surprise. "…next week Kenshin and I will be hosting a celebration and we would be honored if you would join us." Hands paused on their way to mouths.
Sanosuke accidentally dropped his onigiri and looked from Kaoru to Kenshin. "Does this mean you two-"
But Megumi cut off the tactless man next to her. "What, may I ask, are we celebrating?"
Kenshin mustered his confidence and focused on the clarity of his words. "This one has chosen to no longer be a wanderer."
The party had swelled beyond what Kenshin had expected. His idea of what the celebration would be was clearly different than Kaoru's being as half their neighborhood had turned up. The density of people at the feast made him nervous, and being full of sake only exacerbated it. In fact, everything about this made him anxious. It was more like a festival, or even a wedding, and his fictive family had turned up with armfuls of gifts. In a little more than a day he had gone from having next to nothing to owning new clothes, bottles of fine sake, tea, pottery, and a myriad of other items he was unworthy of. It was overwhelming, suffocating even, to have so many people express their fondness or love for him with words and objects.
As the night grew darker and the families with children made their departures, the sake became more prevalent and everyone seemed to have gained a second wind. Late into the evening, Kenshin slipped from sight and spent a few moments in the dark behind the dojo. He wished he hadn't drank so much as his thoughts seemed to slosh around in his mind the way the sake rolled in his stomach. 'Staying only feels unnatural right now because of this attention.' He let that thought settle for a moment and felt more relaxed. Everything clicked; it was exactly that! The attention was getting to him, not his choice. He took a few more minutes to himself before he left the darkness and made his way back to the fire.
As he returned, Sanosuke threw an arm around Kenshin's shoulders and leaned on him. "I'm gonna walk 'er home." He stated as if it was part of a continuing conversation.
Kenshin removed Sanosuke's arm and helped him stand. "Who are you walking home, Sano?"
The taller man smirked. "Megumi you idiot!"
He looked passed Sanosuke's alcohol flushed face and spotted Megumi walking with Tae and Tsubame toward the gate. "You best hurry then Sano." He gestured in their direction before Sanosuke took the hint and stumbled after them. Kenshin watched as Sano dramatically offered Megumi an arm and heard her laugh a little too loud. It would be a miracle if they managed to make it home without falling.
Yahiko waved to Tsubame before turning toward Kenshin. "Do you think she'll kiss him?"
"YAHIKO!?" Kaoru admonished him with an empty sake cup in her hand as the boy visibly cringed. He knew to expect the worst from a drunken Kaoru, but she playfully punched his shoulder instead. "I bet you lunch he'll have a black eye tomorrow!"
Yahiko laughed. "You're on, Ugly!" The pseudo-siblings started to slap at each other as Kenshin moved toward the gate to give his goodbyes to the leaving crowd.
Kenshin was feeling marginally better as he walked the perimeter of the property and locked the gate of the dojo. He was alone now, and everything was safe and quiet. Yahiko and Kaoru had both retired after declaring the mess from the feast could wait until morning. Kenshin doused the ashes of the fire and collected the discarded sake jugs before heading to his room.
Feeling exhausted, he walked quietly down the engawa to find his shoji open and a small lamp lit inside. Kenshin's hand went to his sword before he noticed her shadow. He continued to approach and silently waited in the doorway as Kaoru hung a scroll that had been given to him that evening. In fact, she had brought a number of the gifts into the formerly empty room.
"It looks nice, that it does."
Kaoru whipped around to face him and Kenshin was unable to tell if the red on her cheeks was from being caught or the alcohol lingering in her body. "Kenshin, you scared me!"
"This one is sorry, Miss Kaoru. But it does indeed look nice." He noted her blush was starting to fade and he concluded she had sobered.
"I thought it was time that it looked like you actually live here." She hesitated. "I wanted to surprise you."
"Thank you Miss Kaoru, you did give this one a pleasant surprise. This one did nothing to deserve such a feast or kind gifts."
Kaoru shook her head at his last sentence and moved as if to slip through the open shoji next to him. Instead, she paused at his side. Kenshin could have turned away, but his better judgment faltered. Blood rushed to his face and Kaoru timidly cupped his cheek before kissing him. The smell of her hair and the feeling of her lips flooded his senses before she pulled away.
"You are worthy." Her voice had risen slightly with her hatred of his guilt. "You are worthy of me as well."
Their eyes met in the dim light and Kaoru smiled at his apparent shock. She rested her head against his shoulder as his arms cautiously reached to hold her.
In their embrace she implored him. "Tell me, Kenshin. Tell me that you're home."
"This one is home, Miss Kaoru."
She placed a kiss on his jaw. "Try again."
Kenshin contemplated her request. "This one is home.. Kaoru."
She kissed the scar on his cheek this time. "Try again, Kenshin."
"I…" He took a deep breath. "I am home, Kaoru."
The former man-slayer could no longer think straight as she pulled his lips back to hers and closed the shoji behind them.
Worthy- (adi.) Deserving effort, attention, or respect.