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Kenshin opened his eyes with a sigh, wondering exactly why he always awakened at such an early hour. It was pushing the borders of normalcy, even for him.

'Because, dipshit, you wanted to go see Megumi this morning about those men who have been harassing her patients.'

Battousai was such a morning person.

'At least I know why I'm awake at such an ungodly frickin' hour.'

Kenshin was forced to agree with his darker half and quickly finished his normal morning preparations. Get dressed, during which I scan the Dojo for abnormal ki, unlock the Dojo, and start breakfast.

Stifling a yawn, he decided against peeking into Kaoru's room, 'why the hell not,' and left a note instead.

Starting his walk down the deserted Tokyo streets he wondered who could be stalking the townsfolk. His hand tightened on blade at his side.

He wondered if Saitoh knew anything.

'Nothing we can't figure out for ourselves. Who is the most feared assassin of the Meiji, him or me?'

Battousai, as always, did have a point. Kenshin sighed and hoped that Megumi would have some concrete information; otherwise it would've been a wasted trip.

'And we missed Kaoru's smile this morning.' Battousai hissed, his irritation apparent.

Kenshin frowned at his other half. 'You're getting far too attached to Kaoru-dono.'

'What the hell is there not to be attached to? The curves, the smile, the eyes... or are you gay?'

Kenshin growled low in the back of his throat, startling some passerby's who quickly moved on. 'Sessha is NOT gay.'

'Please explain the pink gi. How am I supposed to make Kaoru want to share a futon with me if you wear a pink gi?'

Kenshin shook his head. 'Sessha is not having this conversation with you!'

'Why the hell not?' Battousai suddenly went quite. 'Unless that pink gi is a brilliant plot to convince Kaoru to get you OUT of your clothes!'

"It is not pink!" Kenshin snapped, causing a flock of birds to rise from the trees.

"I should hope not, Ken-san. But who exactly are you talking to?" Megumi's amused voice cut in, startling him out of his yelling match with Battousai.

He promptly turned a lovely shade of red. "Nothing Megumi-dono. Sessha was just wondering if you had any information on the men that have been causing problems, that I did."

Megumi smiled the smile that always made him feel like he was her unfortunate prey. "Why don't you come in and we talk about it there, Ken-san?"

Kenshin was rather thankful his face was already tinged pink from the earlier outburst, because he flushed again at the underlying tones in her speech.

'Please, just one tiny glare...'

'No.' Kenshin replied mentally in a stern tone. "Thank you for the offer Megumi-dono, but Sessha must be getting back soon."

Megumi pouted, her small mouth twisting in displeasure, but nodded anyway. "All I know right now, Ken-san, is that the group is about four strong and lately they have been prowling the roads and harassing some of the young women. They haven't really done anything serious, but it's enough to make people nervous."

'Younger attractive women...'

'They had best not harass Kaoru-dono.' Kenshin thought firmly.

A dark feeling was all he got from Battousai, coupled with strong desire to break a few bones, or worse.

Kenshin bowed politely. "Thank you for your help Megumi-dono. Sessha does appreciate it."

'And sink your nasty hooks into someone who wants to get caught. Like Sano.'

'Be nice. Megumi-dono has done a lot for us.' Kenshin scolded, rather happy when Battousai only gave a snort of disbelief.

Kenshin quickly made his way back to the Dojo.

When he arrived Yahiko greeted him with a grunt; he was already hard at work practicing his Kata for the day.

"Where is Kaoru-dono?" Kenshin questioned gently. He had missed saying good morning to her and was wondering where she was.

'Softy. You know, I want to say good morning to her in my own way. Ravishing her against the side of the Dojo is a much better way to start the day...'

Kenshin quickly shoved the annoying voice to the back of his mind and concentrated on Yahiko was saying.

"…Had to go to some Dojo to teach today, one of the instructors was sick or something." He grunted as he brought down another hard swing. "Stupid Busu left me with a thousand swings and wants me to polish the damn floors again."

Kenshin hid a smile at Kaoru's orders. So very like her to force her only real student to work when she wasn't there. She was a good teacher; hopefully one day Yahiko would realize this. Most likely he already had, but just enjoyed the banter.

'Of course he does. I mean honestly, how can you call something with those curves ugly?'

Kenshin frowned slightly. 'You are talkative today.'

'I didn't get my dose of Kaoru this morning. If I have to be irritated then so do you!'

Kenshin sighed and headed inside to collect the laundry, absently noticing that it was almost lunchtime.

"Yahiko, did Kaoru-dono mention if she would be home for lunch?"

"She said something about eating at the dojo! And that we are almost out of tofu again, so you might need to go get some with the yen she left."

'Damn.' Battousai muttered, thoroughly miffed that he would miss another opportunity to see Kaoru.

Kenshin fully agreed with him.

It was turning out to be a very bad day for Kenshin. First, Battousai had fallen into an even fouler mood without Kaoru-dono's cheerfulness as a counterbalance, and had since been sulking.

Which meant he had been tossing all kinds of explicit and naughty ideas about Kaoru-dono all morning, and when that hadn't worked, had decided to use his imagination instead; he did not need detailed fantasies of Kaoru in his gi running in his head.

He had been blushing and uncomfortable almost all morning.

This was why he was currently wandering around Tokyo for the most part of the afternoon in a slightly dazed manner, and being clumsier than even he tried to appear. Stopping at a stall, he looked thoughtfully at some of the new ribbons the ribbon seller had brought in. All of them would have looked great in Kaoru's hair but there was a particular blue one that caught his eye.

It was the same indigo blue that he had ruined, except that along the edges tiny blue beads of glass fringed the edge. Even to Kenshin's untrained eye he knew it was expensive, and that Kaoru would love it.

Unfortunately he knew that there was no way he was going to be able to afford it, so he bought one of similar color but without the fancy beading.

Perhaps on another day.

Even Battousai agreed that a ribbon was a good idea, in his own twisted way.

'Perhaps Kaoru will be so excited that she would tackle us, and then we could slide our arms around her and then place our lips on her..."

Kenshin firmly block the annoying (and arousing) commentary from Battousai, his head already pounding with from constant exertion of forcing Battousai out. The constant looks and snickers from the surrounding pedestrians were trying his already overtaxed patience.

Kenshin sighed as he walked over to his usual tofu stall, acutely aware of his thrumming ki senses. It was the normal warning he got when someone was maliciously approaching. Kenshin paid the vendor and kept his eyes hidden by his bangs, knowing that his already overtaxed countenance was going to manifest a slightly amber tinge.

"Hand over the tofu, lady."

'It's the Pink Gi.'

Kenshin felt his eyes narrow in a furious glare, Battousai was really rebelling today.

'What is your problem? Its not like Kaoru-dono is here.' Kenshin thought, irritated. 'Sessha has been called a woman before.'

"Sessha is not a lady." Kenshin said faintly, his voice an octave below its normal register.

The man squinted and sighed, "Could have fooled me with that long hair and Pink Gi."

"Oro!" Kenshin muttered.

'Oro my ass. More like come one step closer and I will make you into a woman.'

"Sessha is not a lady. Sessha would appreciate it if you did not attack Sessha right now." Kenshin told him quietly, his tone a faint warning under the slightly frazzled Rurouni kindness.

The man shook his head and unsheathed his sword. "And I will also take whatever money you have on you. You understand, of course."

'Understand this.'

Kenshin sighed as he half carried; half dragged the poor man to Saitoh. It really wasn't worth the trouble unless he happened to be part of the group that had been fumbling about.

His headache, on the other hand, was doing much better.

Battousai was apparently slightly relieved of whatever it was that had been bothering him since he had taken it out on the poor man draped across Kenshin's shoulder.

Saitoh, of course, took it in the normal kind manner.

"Bringing me more of your messes, Battousai?"

Kenshin pinched his nose as he walked out. A half hour conversation with Saitoh when he's being difficult was enough to rattle anyone's nerves, much less someone who had to put up with an annoying and surprisingly persistent other half all morning.

Kenshin stopped suddenly on back to the Dojo, his expression darkening when he realized that his tofu had been ruined. The one thing Kaoru-dono had asked him to do today and he hadn't been able to do it.

The Rurouni sulked his way into town, his expression bordering on irritated. Especially when he realized that he didn't have any money left to buy it with.

'We are the most feared assassins. We have god-like speed and blend into the environment. Why can't we just steal it

'Do you want Kaoru-dono eating stolen tofu?' Kenshin questioned horrified, trying not to think about how tempting that offer seemed. It would save his already aching head a knot or two.

'Not really. But personally I would much prefer eating stolen tofu off Kaoru!'

"Oro." Kenshin muttered as he headed toward the Akebeko, a sure-fire place to earn money, even if it was washing dishes.

Kenshin smiled at Tae, who looked slightly frazzled, and for a moment Kenshin thought she was going to hug him when she realized he was there to work.

He scrubbed diligently at the dishes, wondered exactly how many of them Tae went through daily. He had been working for an hour, surely enough money to buy Tofu with, and yet it seemed he had barely dented the pile.

"Kenshin," Tsubame softly padded behind him, "Tae asked me to give this to you and to ask if you were about done. You've been here for some time and she figured you still had some laundry to finish. It looks like it's going to rain..."

Tsubame blinked. Her hands, which had previously held a roll of tofu, were now empty. Kaoru was lucky to have someone like Kenshin. He was just so fast and strong and she wondered if Yahiko was ever going to get that good.

' all of those nicely washed kimonos of Kaoru's are going to be wet!' Battousai grumped as they sped down Tokyo's streets.

Kenshin was forced to agree as the first droplet fell into his scruffy mane. He breezed by Yahiko and Sano, dropping off the Tofu, before rushing in vain towards the laundry.

A few moments later a completely drenched Kenshin marched past them and toward the room he had hung a spare line in for bouts of rainy weather.

"Sessha was just wondering," Kenshin questioned lightly, unaware of the lightening sparks in his eyes, "Why you did not take the clothes down when you realized it was going to rain?"

This questioned was directed at Sano, as he hoped that Yahiko had been working on what Kaoru had left him to do. Sano removed the fishbone from his mouth and gave Kenshin a flippant glance. "It's woman's work."

'How about I show you the pointed side of my sword?' Battousai growled in Kenshin's mind, his already black mood descending into fury.

Kenshin dropped his bangs forward and bit his bottom lip. "Sessha will simply take a bath now."

Turning he stalked out of the Dojo, heading the Furo, his shoulders squared.

"Does he know that Jou-chan will be home soon?"

Yahiko shrugged, his face twisting into a smile. "I am not telling him."

Kenshin sighed in relief as his aching muscles slowly relaxed in the warm water. Reaching up, he pulled the tie loose from his hair and allowed his head to fall back. That was when he noticed the quiet. Sitting up, he frowned at the anxious silence in the back of his head.

'What is it this time?' Kenshin asked wearily.

'Be quiet or I am going to miss it.'

Kenshin frowned darkly. 'Miss what?' Suddenly the door slide open to reveal the most tantalizing sight Kenshin could remember for some time.

Kaoru wrapped in a simple towel with her long hair loose. It appeared that she had gotten caught out in the rain as well, since her hair seemed to cling to both the towel and her shoulders, all the way to her slender waist and the swell of her hips.

Kaoru, taking that moment to look up, took an involuntary step backwards. Her wide blue eyes stared directly into his, her face flushing darkly as she scrambled to hang onto her towel.

The room was filled with heavy tension, and Kenshin was not the least bit surprised that even Battousai was quiet. It seemed that even he was shocked into silence at the sight of the woman who stood in front of him.

"Kenshin," Kaoru's voice was surprised and a little breathless, the sound of it sending tingles of awareness down Kenshin's spin. He suddenly wished that he had taken a cold shower, because his body was suddenly very aware of her presences and the intimacy of her being clad in only a towel.

'Now how to get her into the tub with us...'

"ORO!" Kenshin said, the spell broken as he fumbled for the towel, his hair falling forward to hide the growing amber in his gaze.

Kaoru spun quickly, her dark mane twirling around her lithe form in a tantalizing fashion. "I am so sorry Kenshin." There was definite panic in her voice then.

"It's alright Kaoru-dono." Kenshin soothed, as he quickly stood and wrapped the towel around his waist. "It has been a long day and you will wish to soak. I simply forgot the time." 'And Yahiko and Sano didn't remind me….'

Kaoru, much to Kenshin's surprise, spun quickly, fire flashing in her eyes.

'I. Want. That.'

Kenshin ignored him, his eyes locked on Kaoru's form as she stalked forward, her small finger suddenly jabbing him in the chest. "What does it take for me to convince you to leave off the 'dono', Kenshin?"

Kenshin opened his mouth to answer but she cut him off.

"I am tired of it. I am tired of this 'sessha' business as well. I am tired as being referred to as a 'dono', and I am sick and tired of your self depreciation." Kaoru propped her free hand onto her hip and glared, her chest rising and falling in anger.

She had apparently forgotten that they were both only wrapped in a towel. That it was improper for them to be in this state, near each other.

"Sessha does not think that Sessha deserves to call Kaoru-dono by anything less." Kenshin desperately tried to talk to her.

'Say 'Kaoru, can I ravish those lips of yours?' Say, 'Do you do know, Kaoru, how gorgeous you look in that towel?' Battousai urged. Kaoru's had eyes narrowed, her eyes practically shooting sparks, and with Battousai begging for any type of contact he missed a very important danger sign.

"Is it because you don't think we are close enough for you to call me Kaoru, Kenshin?" Her voice was practically a purr and Kenshin looked up frantically.

"Sessha thinks it best for Sessha to..." His voice cut off in a strangled half-squeak as Kaoru reached up and yanked his head down to hers, fastening her soft mouth on his.

Which was about the time that Battousai took over.

Very careful of her modesty, he overlapped his fingers with hers to help secure the towel, and to touch the skin underneath. His other hand applied gentle pressure to the nape of her neck, molding their bodies together. By the time the Rurouni regained control, Battousai had been carefully exploring the insides of her mouth with his tongue and was quite fascinated by her smooth teeth. Kenshin pulled back frantically and turned as red as his hair when he realized that his hand was the only one holding up the towel.

Kaoru opened heavy lidded eyes that were practically begging Battousai to ravish her. Flushing faintly as realization dawned on her; she took back control of her towel and leveled Kenshin with a look.

"It's Kaoru, Kenshin." The threat in her tone was apparent and Battousai was silent in his awe. She gave him a stern look before she turned, a low growl rising from her throat.

"Sano! Yahiko-chan! When I get my hands on you two, not even Megumi will be able to piece your mangled, bloodied carcasses back together!" Kaoru shouted as she heading back to the changing room, her hips rustling and tugging the towel in absolutely wicked ways. Just before she left the room, she turned so he could see the faint blush on her cheeks, and then left.


Kenshin made a faint nose in the back of his throat, his body stunned into noncompliance. The faint feeling of Kaoru's lips on his, her tongue tangling and stroking his mouth, and the delightful way her cool hands had buried themselves in his hair, was all still running amok in his mind.

'You may call her dono whenever the hell you want if it gets us kissed like that! Hot Damn!'

Kenshin dropped his towel and dazedly moved back into the gradually cooling water, hoping it chilled soon because he was certainly going to need it.

'So for our next move on the lovely Kamiya Kaoru I think we need to...'

Kenshin half-listened to Battousai, half-listened to the furious voice of Kaoru as she berated the two males for not telling her he was in there, and the pitiful sounds of Yahiko and Sano whimpering in response.

Sitting back, he let a contented sigh leave his lips. Smiling slightly, Kenshin decided to pay more attention to what Battousai had to say.