Continuing Tales

Hakama Dake

A Rurouni Kenshin Story
by Indygodusk

Part 2 of 16

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During the stretch her hakama slipped a few more fingers, barely managing to stay on the swell of her hips, but she was too pleased with herself to care. Returning to her heels with a contented sigh, she heard a growl. Opening her eyes in surprise and turning towards the sound, Kaoru found herself staring straight into a pair of gleaming gold eyes.

For a moment the breath caught in her throat as Kaoru felt a zing of shock race through her body. Then, shoulders relaxing, she walked to the edge of the porch and leaned out with an inviting smile. "Are you here for your private lesson? I've been waiting." Her voice sound huskier than usual due to the dryness of her throat.

Cocking his head, the small cinnamon colored sparrow let out an inquisitive chirp from its position on the pine branch. Kaoru had to chuckle at herself. For a second there, she had let her sun-warped imagination get away from her and imagined that it was Kenshin's golden eyes perusing her scantily clad form. You wish, she thought wistfully. Then again, what would she do if it was him? Battousai in all his passionate glory, coming to… smile sexily and embrace her to his manly chest?

Ha, yeah right! With her luck, any yellow-eyed man would probably end up being Saito with his stinky cigarette and wolfish smirk coming to arrest her for indecency.

"For such moral corruption, Aku Soku Zan!" and then bam, so ends the dreams of one Kamiya Kaoru.

You know, even more disturbing than the thought of him killing me is the thought of him smirking at me when I'm half-naked, ewww.

Straightening up and tossing her long black hair back over her shoulder, Kaoru decided to get another drink to wash the dryness from her throat and the dirty and/or disturbing thoughts from her mind.

At her movement, the small sparrow rustled its wings and puffed up the pale feathers of its chest, maybe in sympathetic disgust? Then let out an even higher pitched cheep.

When Kaoru first met Kenshin and heard his high sweet voice, she'd wondered a bit if he'd ever suffered from having his voice 'break.' She certainly couldn't imagine his voice any higher pitched. His short stature, only a few fingers taller than her, didn't help his case either.

Not to say she didn't love the sound of his voice, she did. It reminded her of eating ohagi: sweet, smooth, and comforting, capable of silliness as it changed form to fit the occasion, but at heart the same dependable taste.

It took the fight with Jineh to reveal that his voice could drop octaves deeper. Deep with a throbbing growl that Kaoru swore she could almost feel thrumming through the soles of her feet.

His voice didn't descend often. In fact, she had marked that his rare changes of register almost always accompanied an emotionally charged moment: usually anger, pain, or sorrow, but extremely rarely, tenderness.

It had been almost two months since the last time she'd heard it. Suzume and Ayame, Dr. Genzai's granddaughters, had been dropped off at the dojo last minute when an accident diverted the good doctor from their planned picnic. Disheartened, the little girls had sat on the porch pouting and kicking their legs against the wooden boards until, in exasperation, Kaoru had abandoned her practicing and offered to take them on a picnic herself.

Of course they invited Kenshin, and the now merry foursome marched off for a day full of woodland splendor. Eating a dessert of apple slices carved into bunnies (Kenshin's work naturally), they had laughed and played games until, exhausted, the girls collapsed onto the blue blanket for a nap.

Suzume's soft snores started only seconds after her head touched the blanket, but Ayame proved much more mulish. Lying with one arm curled under her head, Ayame fixed her gaze upon Kenshin's reclining form as if working on a puzzle. Her large brown eyes blinked slowly, hesitating with crescent lashes pillowed on pink cheeks before stubbornly rising again.

Finally the small girl scooted herself over until she was right next to Kenshin and began playing drowsily with the frayed hem of his hakama. Smiling tenderly down at the sticky fingers, he spoke gently, "You should sleep a little, that you should."

Her fingers stopped twisting, but still clutched at his hem. Suddenly she spoke up drowsily, "Ken-nii…?"

"Yes?" he prompted after a moment of silence.

Her eyes had finally drifted shut when she sighed, "Do you… love us?"

Kaoru couldn't see his face tilted down toward the small child as it was, so she missed his expression. However, it made her listen even more closely to his voice, so she caught the dip in register as he replied.

"Of course I do little one, of course."

A small smile bowed her pink lips. "Good, cause we love you," she sighed again before snuggling against his leg and finally succumbing to sleep.

"Of course I do," he repeated, almost sub-audibly, in that rare, deep, rich thrum.

Unwilling to break the charged silence, Kaoru gently laid her hand on his shoulder. After a moment, not wanting to intrude upon his ruminations, she started to slip off her hand. As her fingertips left the warm material of his magenta gi, he turned slightly and grasped her hand, squeezing firmly as he briefly met her eyes.

Though only for a split second, Kaoru noticed the pink, purple, and gold kaleidoscope of his eyes: as if a swirl of windblown petals, cherry and plum, flitted across the path of the sun. More evidence in her evolving theory of the enigma Himura Kenshin: deshi, Battousai, rurouni, and current resident of the Kamiya Dojo.

While Kaoru would be the first to admit that there were many things she didn't know about Kenshin, she still liked to believe that over a year of extensive, perhaps some would say obsessive, study had paid off.

Kenshin had an almost superhuman control; she might even go so far as to say control was one of the central tenets in his life. Only a warrior with such great physical, mental, and spiritual control could have achieved the reputation as the greatest swordsman in Japan.

The largest chink in his control though, that was caused by his emotions. He cared too much. Luckily for Kenshin, his emotions often make him stronger, at least in her opinion. But somewhere along the way, perhaps when his wife Tomoe died, or at the end of the revolution, the pain had gotten to be too much and he had retreated to the polite, humble distancing of the rurouni.

Constant traveling probably helped keep him from forming strong emotional attachments to people and places, though it obviously hadn't kept others from forming strong attachments to him. Kaoru couldn't blame them. Heaven knows I was attached to him from the start. If only he might have become as attached to me. Then again, he has been living at my house for over a year after ten years of constant wandering, so I have to mean something to him.

Or maybe the house and laundry do it for him, you twit. You aren't thinking about this anymore, remember?

The clouds had gotten lower and darker while she was practicing, though they still didn't seem stormy enough to do her any good. Before she could move to go get that drink, her feathered distraction bobbed his fluffy head and flew off. Smiling, she turned a speculative gaze upon the now abandoned pine tree.

"What about you, handsome, would you like a private lesson?"

Kaoru had to laugh at her silliness. Right, so go do whatever it was you were going to do before you heard that growl. At this thought, Kaoru remembered a very basic fact that had escaped her up until now: birds can't growl. So where had that sound come from?

Hakama Dake

A Rurouni Kenshin Story
by Indygodusk

Part 2 of 16

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