Disclaimer: Rurouni Kenshin and its characters belong to Nobuhiro Watsuki. Only the words and the fantasies found here are mine.

Author's Notes: I'd hate for twelve-year olds to read this fic and start doing the things mentioned here. Call me old-fashioned, but… Anyway, if you are younger than twelve, read at your own discretion. Nothing gross or kinky, I assure you, just something you wouldn't want your mother to catch you doing. ^__^

Fundamentals

The noises were coming from the kitchen.

Misao readied her kunais as she headed silently for the source of the disturbance. Maybe it was just a stray cat. Or it could be a thief, but that might be a little farfetched since no one would be stupid enough to rob the Aoiya in the middle of the day. Still, she really couldn't discount the possibility that a ninja from a rival clan had infiltrated their defenses and was plotting to murder them all one by one. She grinned evilly. The twisted workings of an overactive imagination. She tightened her grip on her kunais, imagining the worst, as she slid the shoji door open.

And saw Shiro and Okon locked in a fiery embrace, mouths open against each other, hands clutching at each other's clothes.

Misao's kunais dropped to the floor.

The young lovers hastily broke apart at the unexpected sound, refusing to meet each other's eyes. Okon tucked a strand of long brown hair behind one ear. Shiro coughed self-consciously. Misao turned red at her own intrusion. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," she apologized profusely as she bowed and backed out of the room.

"Wait, Misao-chan!" she heard Okon call out, but Misao was too embarrassed at catching her friends that she didn't bother to stop and chat.

She may have been eighteen but she had never seen two people kissing up close. That way. And it had to be Okon and Shiro, for crying out loud. It was a little too much for a girl to handle at one time, even if she was subject to an overactive imagination every once in a while.

"Hey, slow down, Misao-chan," Omasu said, reaching out a hand to steady the younger girl before she came barreling into her and the tray that she was carrying. She took in Misao's flushed face. "Is anything wrong?"

Misoa was still too embarrassed to say anything but one look at Omasu's gentle, concerned face, and the truth came rushing out.

"Of course it's normal for a couple in love to kiss," Omasu assured her once Misao was finished talking.

"But Okon? And Shiro? Why am I always the last to know about these things?" Misao wailed. Abruptly, she stopped then raised an eyebrow. "Besides, isn't Okon always going around and saying that she's saving herself for Seijuro Hiko?"

Omasu laughed. "I guess she got tired of waiting. Shiro's actually been in love with her for a long time now. Okon told me that it didn't take her long to fall in love with him too. They plan on getting married after three years, so you'd better get used to the affection between them."

The passionate scene flashed through Misao's memory. "So that's what they call it now, huh?"

"Stop being sarcastic," Omasu said.

Misao paused. She looked left and right to make sure that no one was around, then lowered her voice. "Omasu, do you mind if I ask you a question? About kissing?"

Her older friend's eyes went wide in remembrance. "Oh, right, you haven't been kissed before."

"Rub it in, why don't you?" Misao muttered under her breath.

Omasu laughed as she put the tray down on a nearby table and faced Misao. "I didn't mean it that way, Misao-chan."

Misao looked straight into Omasu's clear eyes. It was now or never, she told herself. The questions came rushing out unpremeditated. "So what is it like? To be kissed? How was your first kiss? Who was it with? Is there a right way to do it? How do you know you're ready?"

This time Omasu couldn't hold back the amused giggle that burst out of her. "One at a time, Misao-chan. First things first."

She cleared her throat, her eyes taking on a faraway look. "My first one was with a childhood sweetheart. I was only fourteen then and didn't know better. We both didn't. It was awkward and uncertain and it was over before I even knew it." Then she smiled wistfully. "I think the best one I've ever had was with a near stranger. I was sixteen, and he was in his twenties, my cousin's friend from Osaka. He wasn't even handsome but he was very charming. We talked about a lot of things. He treated me like some highborn lady -- except of course for the temerity he had to kiss me. But it was very different from the others I had, Misao-chan. There was something magical in the way our lips met, as if every part of my being was alive and fully aware of what was happening. Of course, I've had more kisses after that, but I'd always remember that one. Funny, I can't even remember his name."

"But how will I know how to kiss if nobody kisses me?" Misao complained.

"The moment will just come. There's no right or wrong way to do it. Until then, you can just keep practicing with your hand."

Misao's eyes bulged. "My hand? Are you serious?"

Omasu grinned widely. "Here, let me show you." She shaped her right hand into a fist and began nibbling on her thumb, near its base. She stopped to look at Misao. "It might seem strange to you at first, but it will help you feel more comfortable about kissing."

"Uh, okay." Misao stared at her hand, trying to ignore the blush that rose to her cheeks. She went on staring at it until Omasu left quietly. Then, when she was certain that she was alone, she tentatively raised her fist to her mouth.

***

Aoshi had seen a lot of surprising things in his time. But it was quite a different experience to see the girl he had raised from childhood looking suspiciously like she was kissing her hand. "What are you doing?"

Misao whirled around, her cheeks tinged pink, her eyes wide with shock. "Uh, nothing, Aoshi-sama."

Oh, he was curious. What the hell did she need to practice that for? But he respected Misao's privacy. If she wasn't going to tell him anything, then that was her right. It had long ceased to be his business, anyway. With a firm nod, he went on his way, trying to fight the urge to take her by the shoulders and shake the truth out of her.

"Uh, Aoshi-sama?"

"Yes, Misao?" he acknowledged without turning around.

"Have you, uh, ever been kissed before?"

Aoshi was taken aback at her question. It was the kind of frivolous question he'd expect from a young girl, but behind it was a innocent hopefulness that he couldn't brush off so easily. Besides, what was she doing thinking about kissing? She was way too young to have such thoughts. The thought of Misao kissing someone-- He shook his mind clear. He'd better have a word with Shiro and Okon.

But before he could answer, Misao already withdrew. "Ah, never mind, I'm sorry for asking that. Please forget that I ever mentioned it."

He heard her footsteps start walking away. "Misao," he called out softly, turning to face her retreating back.

She stopped and looked at him. "Yes?"

"You shouldn't practice. This isn't like going to battle where you have to perfect every move before you face your opponent," he told her. "The moment will come, like a thief, stealing upon you when you least expect it. You can only stand your ground."

Maybe it wasn't the most romantic speech on earth. But hell, that was what he meant.

"And follow my heart?"

"In essence, yes,"

She was silent for a minute. "Thank you, Aoshi-sama." Then she walked away.

Aoshi watched her leave, but his thoughts were at another place, in another time. He remembered being disturbed from practice when he heard a young girl crying. He remembered going to her and defending her from the neighborhood boys who teased her relentlessly. He remembered making her a paper crane so that she would stop crying.

And most of all, he remembered her putting her arms around him and kissing him squarely on the lips.

She had been his first kiss.

He had been raised to be a man among men. There was no time for him to grow up and enjoy a child's carefree life. The girls he had known were too scared of him. No one had dared.

Until her.

Then there were footsteps running back to him now, bringing him back to reality. Soft arms snaked around his neck. A pair of tender lips pressed softly against his own.

Aoshi stood his ground.

And kissed her back.

End

Author's Notes: The story takes place post-Jinchuu because I felt that this couldn't have happened in the middle of the series, within the RK timeline. Misao is now eighteen, as was mentioned earlier.