A/N – A little drabble, spawned on my second watching of the live action movie.
Disclaimer – I don't own Ruroken, any of the canon characters, situations or settings. No money was made in writing this drabble.
One long, hazy afternoon, as crickets droned monotonously and tiny dust motes danced in the lingering golden light, as the day's warmth radiated and left them all warm, lazy and content, Kaoru convinced Kenshin to spar with her.
Kenshin had been drinking, perhaps two bowls, not nearly enough to affect him but enough to mellow him – it was the sake, perhaps, that relaxed him enough to accept Kaoru's offer. Yahiko leapt up, all vibrant energy and enthusiasm, but Sano looked somewhat sceptical.
"Oi, Kenshin," he drawled, "have you ever used a bokken before?"
Kenshin blinked, puzzled – "…of course," he said, smiling sweetly.
And so it was set. They agreed to use bokken, for Kaoru had rarely, if ever, handled anything but wooden swords – in truth, despite his assurances, Kenshin had rarely, if ever, used anything but sharp-edged steel – and the smooth, solid weight of the wood in her hand was long-familiar, immensely comforting, as much a part of her as Kenshin's sakabatou must be to him.
They did not bother overmuch with formalities, Kaoru warming up a little as Kenshin chose a bokken and swung it once, twice, accustoming himself to the weight and balance; they looked to Yahiko, self-designated referee, who grinned fiercely and gave the signal to begin.
And so they began as the light slanted golden through the bamboo slats, the soft shush, shush thud of their footfalls and the clack, clack, clack of their bokken meeting filling the dojo.
Kenshin was 28 years old, ten years away from the days of his prime, when his sword had been swift, sure, deadly; like him, she had been raised to the sword from early childhood, but even in this gentle, informal exercise she knew – there was no question who was the better swordsman.
It was there in the rhythm of their mock-fight, in the soft shushing of his footfalls, absolute, precise, grounding him and balancing perfectly, every time; in the way he anticipated her every strike with uncanny insight – ki-sense, she knew, as acute and extraordinarily developed as she had ever known. It was there in the certainty of his every strike and block, wrists flexible but strong as steel, each blow falling, though surely he pulled his strength, with inexorable accuracy and force. It was in the way she could read him, the way he allowed her to, his footwork, his body language, the quick flick and dart of his eyes –
She was beginning to enjoy this, the rush of breath and blood, the physical exertion and the pure exultation of pushing herself to match him –
"Don't coddle me," she hissed, grinning fiercely; she pushed him harder, stepping faster, striking with more force; when she found herself matching him stroke for stroke, feet moving without her conscious input, when she felt him upping his own tempo to meet hers, she found a perfect joy welling up inside and knew, from the warmth of his smile and his quick laughter, that he felt it too.