Continuing Tales

Hakama Dake

A Rurouni Kenshin Story
by Indygodusk

Part 6 of 16

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Silently padding around the corner, Kenshin felt his pulse speed up as he noticed that the shoji on this side remained open. Step by cautious step, he advanced until he could see the interior of the dojo. Then he stared… and stared some more.

Kaoru was fine. Suddenly nerveless fingers dropped from the hilt of his sakabatou. In fact, she looks very… healthy.

Mesmerized, Kenshin stared at a bead of sweat as it slid from Kaoru's temple past the shell of her ear and down her cheek, following the equestrian lines of her neck, pausing momentarily in the indent of her throat, before trickling down the slope of her chest, accelerating as it reached the valley between her breasts, only to disappear into the white cloth binding her upper body.

Throat suddenly dry, Kenshin swallowed.

For some reason, Kaoru was practicing kata wearing only her hakama.

Hakama dake… Buddha, give me strength.

Kenshin was forcibly reminded of the first time he'd seen this dojo, the first night he'd met Kaoru. She had sliced her arm open during a skirmish with the man pretending to be the Hitokiri Battousai. He had insisted she return home to treat her arm, but she'd wanted to continue pursuing her adversary. Of course she'd claimed she felt fine, stubborn from the start, but a firm tug on her hair made her pass out.

Back at her dojo, Hiruma Kihe (his betrayal still undiscovered) had helped to wrap the wound. Kaoru had nonchalantly shrugged her gi off of one shoulder to provide access to the cut on her arm.

Kenshin remembered studying the wooden plaques with their precisely inked names hung on the dojo wall in a desperate effort to distract himself from the creamy shoulders and enticingly shadowed cleavage her treatment exposed.

At the time he hadn't been sure whether to bless or curse the fact that her partially open gi still managed to cover everything but one shoulder of sakura-like skin. Now he knew.

Bless, definitely bless.

If he had known just how her waist flared into her hips, about the existence of those two dimples low on her back bracketing the line of her spine, how her navel formed a perfect oval, if he had known, he never would've been able to keep himself under control for so long.

If he was smart, he'd turn around and leave right now. Unfortunately, Kenshin didn't consider himself very smart.

However, he did consider himself a gentleman. A gentleman wouldn't watch her lithe body twisting through the steps of her kata. A gentleman would avert his eyes, turn around, and leave silently, never letting her know he had even been there.

Nevertheless, no matter how much he silently struggled, his legs refused to move and his eyes refused to even blink, much less turn away.

Kenshin didn't watch Kaoru practice very often. He didn't watch because he didn't trust himself to only watch. Kenshin knew his weaknesses very well, and seeing the fiery passion and intense concentration Kaoru displayed doing kata frayed his resolution to not touch, to not curl around the heat of her fire.

Early on he'd made the mistake of thinking that he was strong enough, that he was underestimating himself when it came to watching this little shihandai. It only took only one session to prove that he'd grossly underestimated Kaoru's appeal and overestimated his own stoicism.

Seeing the intensity of Kaoru's red flushed face as she panted through particularly difficult movements, seeing the swirl of her blue hakama, a traditionally male garment, made him dig his nails into the wooden floorboards to keep from jumping up and grabbing her. He had to bite his tongue to silence the groan struggling to burst free.

His imagination took her red, panting face and thrust it hard and deep into his most secret fantasies, imposing those moist pink lips above him, below him, around his body, puffing hot, moist trails down his hypersensitive chest.

Further compounding its treachery, his mind morphed her blue hakama into the same hakama he used to wear back during the Bakumatsu. Something primitive inside wanted to see her wearing his hakama, wanted other men to see her wearing his hakama.

More than once when doing the laundry and noticing the threadbare state of her clothes, he had to repress the urge to use their worn state as an excuse to give her his own white hakama to wear instead. Of course, he knew Kaoru would never accept it. She knew he only had one other set of clothes. Her caring nature would forbid her from taking them.

Besides which, to be perfectly honest, his hakama were more tattered than her own.

How it had happened so quickly and overwhelmingly, this possessiveness and lust, he didn't know. He only knew that he must shield her from it. She knew he cared, but he refused to expose her to more intensity than that.

So he avoided watching her do kata. In fact, he could successfully count the few times he'd seen her do kata on his fingers. Seared into his memory, he could recite a blow-by-blow description of her face and form every second he'd watched her practice.

She might suspect he was hiding something, as she could be disturbingly perceptive, but he would have noticed if she really knew. Her face almost always gave her away.

For over a year, he'd managed to hold onto his control, largely in part by avoiding her when she practiced in her hakama and gi.

Staring at her now, scantily clad in only her breast bindings and hakama, not even wearing her tabi, he felt his control shatter into a million sharp pieces.

And he didn't care.

Devouring her with his eyes, Kenshin marveled at how much a single garment could hide. Without her gi on, she revealed a swath of enchanting milky-white skin, both above and below the dark blue ties securing her hakama at her waist. Considering how deliciously low the hakama rode on her hips, she'd probably pulled the gi out somehow without untying the hakama first.

He wondered why she'd been in such a hurry to get it off.

What if a lover had pulled it off?

White-hot fury exploded in his veins. He had to swallow an enraged howl.

Kaoru was young and beautiful; it wasn't unreasonable to think that she might have a man courting her. Kenshin hadn't noticed anyone, and he kept a close eye on Kaoru, but it was possible he had missed someone.

So where is he now?

Jumping up and concealing himself in the branches of the pine to the left of the dojo, Kenshin searched again for the touch of another ki. In his previous perusal of the grounds, Kenshin hadn't noticed any signs of another person. All he'd seen were Kaoru's familiar footprints, as if she had paced between the dojo and gate several times. She might have rendezvoused with someone outside the dojo, but she never would've walked back down the road half-naked. Kaoru had more class and, before this moment he would have sworn, modesty than that.

Narrow-eyed, he perused the dojo until he discovered her sweat-soaked, rumpled gi flung against one wall.

Why did she throw her gi against the wall?

Wrenching his eyes from the enticing view inside the dojo, now clearer from his perch, he examined the ground around the dojo again. He still didn't notice anything out of place on the sun-scorched earth. A gust of rain-scented wind swirled by, fluttering the sleeves of his gi where they still hung down around his waist. The cool breeze raised the golden hair on his bare arms, and brushed prickling pine boughs against the skin of his arms and back.

Suddenly, it clicked. The locked gate, the closed shoji, they all made sense. Idiot, you shrugged your gi off to cool down by the river. Kaoru probably got sick of this heat and, thinking herself all alone, decided to take her gi off too.

Mystery solved, a much calmer Kenshin returned his attention to the dojo.

Oblivious to his presence or ruminations, Kaoru lunged into a sword thrust, bending her knees and drawing his attention to one creamy thigh exposed through the side-slits of her hakama.

Sweat beaded on his forehead, and his new-found calm evaporated like a puff of superheated steam. Staring at her silky skin, he burned to explore that crease where thigh met hip with his fingers, or tongue, or fingers and tongue. As she straightened, he mournfully watched the crease disappear, but was soon distracted by other delightful discoveries.

Pivoting slowly on her toes, she brought the bokken down in a controlled chop, then a horizontal slash, presenting her back to Kenshin as she completed the turn. Each precise movement created a hypnotizing ripple underneath her glistening skin as muscles shifted and bunched in patterns across her arms, shoulders, stomach, and back.

His observation of the clean lines of her muscles was interrupted by the bandages circling her chest. Though damp and clinging, they still interrupted his memorization of the subtle gradation of curves tracing down from her shoulders to those dimples peaking over the edge of her hakama. Kenshin's fingers itched to rip the bandages off and burn them, so they'd never veil the beauty of her body from his eyes again.

Kaoru paused for a few moments, her face in profile. He regretfully assumed she'd finished her kata. Without the enticing movements of her body to distract him, Kenshin was able to focus more on her face. Kaoru had the swanlike neck of a geisha or dancer, rising from rounded shoulders more muscled than those usually found on a woman. The contrast fascinated him, creating an urge to map those differences in detail.

A stubborn chin formed the base of her face and character. As he watched, she sucked her lower lip between her teeth. Once released, it glistened like a dew-drenched young cherry. What little air he'd managed to take in whooshed out, and his lower gut clenched. A bead of moisture lingered on her full bottom lip, and it took all of his willpower and strength to keep from darting down to suck it clean with his own lips and tongue.

Would it taste like cherry?

Licking his own dry lips, Kenshin knew he'd never be able to eat sakura mochi again without seeing her lips, the pink of young cherries, in his mind.

Above those tempting lips perched a pert nose, given to wrinkling when she felt amusement or disgust. Of course with Kaoru, amusement was always more prevalent. She had a surprisingly strong tolerance for almost anything. While her anger could and often did flare up, it quickly burned out.

That was another reason her behavior worried Kenshin so much. He'd never seen her hold onto a grudge more than a few days, much less a week. Something had to be seriously wrong for her to avoid him for so long, and with his little shihandai half-naked inside a locked gate, he intended to get some answers.

Raising her bokken above her head, Kaoru's face tilted slightly, causing her bangs to fall back and reveal the long sweep of midnight eyelashes hiding her gaze. She isn't finished after all. Pleased, he stared at her eyelids, willing them to lift. As if in response to his plea, she opened her eyes and turned towards him to begin a repetition of her previous kata. For a moment he willed her to see him, but those large liquid eyes remained focused down and inwards. Sighing, he realized that even if she looked directly at his hiding place, the contrast of bright courtyard to dim dojo would likely blind her to his form.

From that first night when she'd confronted him on the street, he'd been captivated by her eyes. Like the ocean, they shifted colors depending on her emotional weather. Unlike his own radical shifts from lilac to gold, one had to watch carefully to note the subtle permutations in her irises.

When enraged, her eyes would turn the solid blue-black of dusk after the sun has set but before the stars appear. Yahiko was probably too busy running away from her wrath to notice that dark gleam under her lowered brows, but Kenshin had marked the fascinating change.

Happily bustling about the dojo in the mornings, her eyes appeared the blue of good pottery glaze edged with a ribbon of indigo.

When serious, petals of powder blue seemed to extend from her pupil, falling just short of the cerulean band circling her iris.

On those days when she couldn't hide her sadness, her eyes turned the blue-gray of storm-tossed waves streaked with azure lightning.

As Kaoru moved quickly into her first attack she took a deep breath, giving a small glimpse of the dark cavern inside her mouth and a hint of ivory teeth. The deep inhalation also caused Kaoru's breasts to rise up and strain against their binding fabric.

Clutching the cloth of his hakama hard enough to strain the seams, Kenshin wondered, what color would her eyes be in the grip of arousal?

Maybe, if he was lucky, he'd find out today.

As Kaoru leaped up to deliver a downward slash, her long midnight hair coiled and whipped like a hissing serpent around her body. The sweat-soaked strands framing her face and neck flickered like small jet tongues.

In fact, he intended to find out today.

When Kaoru landed and twirled to attack an imaginary adversary on her left, her breasts bounced within their restraints. Aroused beyond bearing, Kenshin shifted his weight again and cursed the cloth concealing those globes.

If she was going to take her gi off, why couldn't she take the damn bandages off too?

Kenshin acknowledged that he might be selfish, wanting to see every freckle and scar sprinkling the cream of her skin like exotic spices. But he no longer had the control to bottle up his hunger for everything that comprised Kamiya Kaoru.

A week of suffering from her aloofness had forced him to consciously admit that she had become a need, as necessary as breathing to his life. Hopefully, the gods would understand his plight and grant him mercy. He refused to believe that it was too late to recapture her affection.

To this purpose he gave himself permission to provoke her. Once decided, he felt free to solve the many puzzles she embodied. And just what that body looked like under gi and hakama had consumed his thoughts on many a humid, moonless night.

If she'd let him, he'd study every centimeter of her body with the fervency and dedication he'd once used to master Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu. It had taken him years to master the sword; he was prepared to spend a like amount of time on Kaoru's body.

Over the roar in his ears, Kenshin could hear the susurrations of her bare feet sliding across the wooden planks and the soft panting of her breath. With a final fleet spring, bounce, and fierce slash, Kaoru ended her kata.

After bowing to the principles, she gracefully walked over to put away her bokken. Kenshin noticed the roll of her hips in a way he never had before. Perhaps his fascination stemmed from the glimpses of pale skin on either side waxing and waning like the moon with the sway of her hips.

Returning to the center of the dojo, cheeks slightly pink from her exertions, Kaoru sighed in satisfaction. Then she stretched.

Though to Kenshin's mind, calling it a simple stretch was like labeling Shikibu Murasaki a servant with a diary, or saying Misao "liked" Aoshi.

Raising her lightly muscled arms, Kaoru tipped her head back, exposing the column of her throat, and rose up onto her tiptoes. The sight of her pink toes and trim ankles tightened something deep inside his chest.

Then she arched her back, thrusting her chest into the air, and grabbed the wrist of her left arm with her right hand. Sighing, she closed her eyes dreamily and rested the side of her face against her right arm.

As she stretched even further, her hakama slowly slid down the curve of her hips. Kenshin felt erotic jolts race through his body; he wondered if he'd ever breathe again. Not daring to blink for fear he'd miss it, he focused on that precariously shifting fabric. At the last second, it paused in its descent. With a sexy mewl, Kaoru returned to her feet, hakama only just managing to stay seated on her hips.

Pushed past the point of endurance, Kenshin felt a feral growl escape his lips.

Kaoru jumped in surprise. She must have heard, because she turned to look out towards the yard where he watched. Keenly he anticipated her blue eyes meeting his own, tired of waiting.

Kaoru glanced first to the right, then at the tree he perched in on the left, before jerking her eyes back to the right and stiffening in surprise. Seeing her focus in the opposite direction, Kenshin felt a bit surprised himself.

Does she see someone else? But there was no one else. He'd checked.

Suddenly, the tense set of her shoulders relaxed as she sauntered to the right edge of the porch and leaned out with an inviting, flirtatious smile. Opening those cherry-pink lips, she huskily asked, "Are you here for your private lesson? I've been waiting."

Waiting for WHOM? He's a dead man.

Leaning forward menacingly, Kenshin followed the direction of her gaze to identify his victim. And there he was, sitting cockily on his pine branch – a small, nut brown sparrow.

Kenshin had heard the phrase 'driven insane by lust' before, but he'd never taken it literally. Now, he feared it might be happening to him. Especially since he still felt like killing the object of Kaoru's husky tone, even if it was only a sparrow. It was ridiculous to feel happy that his non-killing vow, which had momentarily slipped his mind, only applied to humans. If he didn't touch her right now, he feared this insanity might be permanent.

Dark clouds rolled heavy and low over the dojo, and the air, redolent of rain, felt charged with electricity. The menacing sky matched Kenshin's quixotic mood perfectly.

Seeming to sense his hostile intent, the bird cast a wary yellow eye towards his tense form. Proving itself one of the more intelligent of its species, the sparrow launched from its perch and flew off in the opposite direction.

Keeping her saucy smile, Kaoru turned her gaze from the sparrow's flight back to the wrong jade-needled pine tree and placed a hand on her cocked hip. "What about you, handsome, would you like a private lesson?" Chuckling to herself, she straightened up and turned to walk back inside the dojo.

Oh no you don't, you won't escape me now.

No more holding back.

With this thought firmly in mind, Kenshin leapt down silently like a panther behind her turned back and spoke up softly, so as not to startle her. Or panic her into running away before he could get his hands on her.

Kaoru was being hunted; she just didn't know it yet.

"I'd love one."

Hakama Dake

A Rurouni Kenshin Story
by Indygodusk

Part 6 of 16

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