Rurouni Kenshin Fan Fiction ❯ First Impressions ❯ Part I: Kaoru ( Chapter 1 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

First Impressions
In retrospect, perhaps it wasn't the best idea to have taken Sano's bet. Although in her defense, she really had needed the inside information. And it was not that big of a deal.
Well, at any rate, she'd made one hell of a first impression.
- - - - -- - - -- - -
As she rode down the narrow side streets of Pearl, Kaoru Kamiya nervously watched the basket in front of her.
Said basket contained food, which she would need to bribe her rooster-headed friend into giving her certain confidential information. Said food was shaking, tipping dangerously toward the street. Every time Kaoru tried to adjust the basket, she would swerve out of control, and be forced to leave it.
`Crap! Dammit, why couldn't I have bought the basket with the straps that hold your stuff in? No, I had to take the spiffy bike with the brakes that actually worked. Who needs brakes, anyway?' She thought irrationally.
The food tipped to the side again, and she desperately let go of the handlebars to push it back into the basket.
With a loud crash that Kaoru hoped no one had heard, she smashed into the side of a building and found herself lying on her back on the pavement.
`Ow...ow...okay, maybe brakes are slightly more important than I'd previously thought...'
The food, however, had thankfully survived. Her bike on the other hand...well, it was totaled. Kaoru wasn't sure if bikes could actually be totaled, since generally the term referred to cars, but at this instant she felt like it applied.
The frame of the bike had split in half, and one of the wheels was nastily bent at an angle Kaoru was certain it hadn't been designed for. There was also a broken handle bar. She groaned at her misfortune-she was going to be late for lunch, and Sano would never let her forget it- she scooped up her basket of food and kicked the bike into an unobtrusive corner. Hopefully it would still be there when she returned.
It took a while on foot, but Kaoru was close enough to Sano's consulting firm that she made it there only ten minutes late.
`Okay, maybe Sano will be mysteriously missing and no one will ever know I'm late.'
“Oh, you. Mr. Sagara is waiting for you upstairs in his office.” Sano's evil, blonde, and British secretary, a small-time actress whose indiscretions had smashed her career, somehow managed to convey the idea that she didn't think Kaoru was far beneath her despite the way she stuck her nose up in the air.
`Rats. I forgot about Jane, the secretary from hell...stupid woman always acts like she's so great just because she's prettier then me..'
Kaoru hefted the basket up a little higher up on her shoulder and hurried up the stairs toward Sano's office.
“Jou-chan!” She heard her friend call from his office. “Did you bring the food?”
`Typical Sano...always hungry and never spending a dime, despite his successful career...'
“I've got the food, Sano, but you're going to have to pay up if you want it!” She called teasingly.
She plopped the basket down on his wide, oak desk and threw herself down into a plush armchair.
“You owe me twenty bucks for lunch, Sano.”
“What? You won't give a friend lunch once in a while?”
“Once in a while, Sano? If you actually paid me all the cash you owed me, I'd be rich enough to afford this lunch.”
“Alright, alright!” Sano exclaimed, running his hands through his spiky brown afro. “I'll pay you later.”
“Right. When hell freezes over, I'll expect it.”
“That hurts, Jou-chan.” Sano said in a mock hurt voice.
“On a more serious note, Sano, have you talked to Roma recently?” Roma was Kaoru's boss, a hysterically incompetent woman who's crying fits were legendary in the fashion industry. Roma was prone to sporadic purging of her employees, and Kaoru knew she had lasted longer than any other employee in her position. Roma had been oddly quiet lately when Kaoru discussed her raise, and she wondered if Roma planned to fire her.
“Jou-chan, are you asking me to divulge confidential information?” Sano asked slyly. She could tell that he was thinking of all the ways this could work out to his advantage, and she hurried to head him off.
“No, I'm asking for your opinion on the state of my employment. What information your analysis is based off of is no interest to me.” Kaoru said. She wasn't actually sure if this made rational sense, but she figured Sano wouldn't notice anyways.
“Well, I could provide you with said analysis...for a price. See, I've made this bet and-“
“I will not be used to fulfill your bets, Sano. They never work out in your favor anyways.”
“So you don't want my incredibly important and secret information?” Sano questioned.
Kaoru was sunk. She could take the bet and get the information, but she'd definitely end up humiliating herself. Or she could spare her pride...and end up jobless.
`Pride or job...pride is vital to my emotional well-being...job is necessary in order for me to, food is more important.'
“Okay, Sano. I'll bite. What's this bet you want me to take on?” She cringed, waiting for the pronouncement that was certain to spell her doom.
It was not as bad as she'd feared- it was far, far worse.
“You want me to what?” Kaoru managed after several minutes of shocked silence, gasps, and thrown paperweights.
Sano rubbed his bruised head with a sigh. “Kiss whatever poor soul walks into this office next. It's not that bad, Jou-chan! Remember that one bet Misao took?”
Kaoru held up a hand to cut him off. She really didn't want to discuss the famous bet Misao had taken, referred to in her presence as the `incident'. Said incident had involved whipped cream, handcuffs, and coquettish whispering, and Misao had been severely traumatized by whatever had gone on in that closet.
And coming from Misao that really meant something.
“Don't remind me- do you want to subject some other poor soul to the traumatization Misao and her victim endured?”
“You can't be that bad of a kisser, Jou-chan- and there aren't any handcuffs involved!”
“Umm...Mr. Sagara?” Jane poked her head through the doorway, bug eyed and blushing. Obviously she had heard the last part of their conversation.
`Great. Well, it'll stop Jane from hitting on Sano, which in turn will keep Megumi happy...which in turn will stop her from `helping' me shop...'
“Oh. Jane. What is it?” Sano had the good grace to look embarrassed as he turned toward his secretary.
“Mr. Himura is here early. Do you want me to let him up?”
“Mr. Himura...oh, right. Kenshin's here early? Go ahead, send him on up.”
Jane hurried off, probably glad to be away from the happenings in her employer's office.
“Well, Jou-chan? You takin' this bet?”
Kaoru considered. If she took this bet, she'd end up kissing one of Sano's awful celebrity clients and possibly sued. If she didn't, she'd end up branded a coward and Megumi and Misao would double their efforts to manage her love life.
`Probable lawsuit or Misao setting me up?'
Kaoru shuddered. That was a hard choice. Lawsuits it was.
“You're on. How much am I getting paid?”
“Paid? I'm giving you information!”
“Sano, considering the chances of whoever I kiss suing me for harassment, I think I deserve a little donation for my lawyer fees.”
“I can guarantee whoever you kiss won't sue. Today's my off day- The only person I'm expecting is my consultant.”
“Even worse. How much?”
“Jou-chan! What makes you think I have money?”
Kaoru stared levelly at him. She casually picked up one of Sano's pens. It was gold plated and had a ruby set on the end. She gave him a pointed glance.
“It was a gift!” Sano protested, knowing this battle was lost.
“What kind of client gives gold-plated pens as a gift? A rich one. Pay up.”
“All right, all right. Fifty bucks.”
“Jou-chan! Come on!”
“You want me to compromise my reputation; you gotta be willing to pay up, Rooster-head.”
“Fine, fine. Thousand bucks.”
“Sano, are you accidentally dealing drugs again?”
`How do you accidentally deal drugs anyways?'
“No! I had a lucky night at poker.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Sano pouted, clearly upset at this loss.
“Done.” She sat back in her chair, smirking at Sano. He grumbled under his breath about raccoons who cheated people out of their money as he dug into their lunch.
Kaoru was far too nervous to eat. While logically, it made sense to avoid dating Misao's friends at any cost, she was still worried about kissing some random stranger. Hopefully whoever she jumped would take it well. And be cute.
Someone knocked on the door. Kaoru jerked upright and knocked her chair over backwards. There was a loud crash as her head hit the ground.
“Ow...” She dragged herself upright.
“Sano?” She heard a voice from outside the door. Sano grinned at her and she made a mental note to hurt him later. He went to open the door.
“Kenshin! You're here early. I thought you said wouldn't be over for a while.
“Funny thing, that. The guy I was supposed meet wired over the money, and died three minutes after. Arsenic poisoning. Weird, isn't it?” From the way the two were smiling and joking, Kaoru had the impression that the two were friends, and that Kenshin was probably joking. Still she could see a wicked hint to his smile that made her wonder.
`Great. I'm going to end up kissing a homicidal maniac. I am going to kill Sano...'
“Ahem.” Sano coughed, moving back and giving a look. She sighed and moved forward.
“I'm Kaoru Kamiya.” She offered him her hand. “I don't think Sano has the manners to introduce us, so..?”
“Kenshin Himura.” He barely had time to give her his name before she grabbed his collar and kissed him.
`Oh, crap..'