Rurouni Kenshin Fan Fiction ❯ Healing Hands ❯ Day 4 ( Chapter 4 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
The sun greeted Tokyo with its beautiful golden rays, bathing the land in its brilliance the next morning. Kaoru blinked her eyes annoyedly at the light intruding on her sleep. Finally she cracked her right eye open and looked into a pair of amused and curious violet eyes. Kaoru blushed six shades of red as the memory of last night returned to her.

"Good morning, koishi," said Kenshin, amusement evident in his voice.

'Koishi?!!!' Kaoru thought to herself in alarm. Of course she longed for Kenshin to call her that, but not if he was teasing, as she suspected he was right now.

"G-good morning, Kenshin," she said aloud. She quickly decided to lie her way out of this one. How daft would Kenshin think she was if she told him she'd climbed into bed with him because of a nightmare, like a frightened little girl?

"You're probably wondering why I'm lying in your futon. I woke up last night because I was cold and didn't want to wake you up making a fire, so I thought body heat would do the trick, and well, it worked wonders," she finished carelessly.

"A lie," said Kenshin simply. "Something frightened you, a nightmare perhaps?"

Kaoru was stunned silent. Was there any lying to this man? How did he always see through people? She sighed, knowing it would be useless to continue the lie.

"Yeah. I had a dream. It was a bit unsettling, and I just couldn't get back to sleep," she said, hoping that would satisfy Kenshin.

Kenshin stroked Kaoru's raven hair gently and stared at her as if he were probing her soul.

"Do you want to tell me?" he asked gently.

Kaoru shook her head and snuggled closer to him. In truth, she wanted very much to tell Kenshin about her dreams, but didn't think it would be right to do while he was still recovering.

After the morning bandage change, Kaoru went out to the kitchen and found Megumi already there having just finished up making steamed white rice for breakfast. She handed two bowls and two sets of hashi to Kaoru.

"Since Ken-san's been able to keep the miso down, I'd like to try him on solids now. See if he can tolerate some white rice for breakfast. If he can keep it down, I'll include some other vegetables for lunch," said Megumi.

"Okay," said Kaoru, taking the bowls back into the bedroom.

Kenshin was anticipating breakfast when Kaoru came in, having smelled the rice cooking. He was already sitting up against the wall. He smiled at Kaoru as she sat down by his futon.

"Do you feel up to white rice?" asked Kaoru holding the bowl in front of her Rurouni.

"Yes. That sounds good," said Kenshin, who noticed that he was beginning to feel hungry again.

Kaoru set the tray with the bowl on Kenshin's lap, broke the hashi apart and handed them to him. Kenshin tried to position the chopsticks in his left hand, but couldn't. Like most others, he was right handed. He wielded his sword with his right hand and used chopsticks with his right hand. He held the chopsticks awkwardly and tried to scoop up some rice, but it spilled back into the bowl, much to his consternation.

"Here," said Kaoru softly. She took the chopsticks, dipped them in the rice and held them up to Kenshin who frowned. She was already bathing him, changing his bandages, and helping him walk, and now he was to be fed too? He began to feel frustrated and useless again.

"Oroo," he said softly, still frowning.

"Now, don't be frustrated. Megumi-san says your shoulder's healing nicely. You'll be able to use your right hand within the month. In the meantime, is it really so shameful to accept help from the woman who loves you?" asked Kaoru.

Kaoru's words brought Kenshin to his senses in an instant, making him smile. "No, not when you say it that way," he said. Kenshin permitted Kaoru to feed him the rice, but only after getting her to promise that she'd let him do the same for her when his right hand was free of that accursed sling.

When the rice was finished, Kenshin drank the green tea Kaoru had brought. Kaoru was impressed with how much better the man looked in just four days. Kenshin had no trouble keeping the rice down and was very alert having eaten, which was a good sign. Sitting next to her swordsman, Kaoru absently traced her fingers over Kenshin's torso, softly stroking his abdomen. Kenshin flinched and laughed involuntarily. 'He's ticklish...' thought Kaoru. That might be fun to explore in the future.

After Kaoru had cleared out the eating stuff, she brought out the shogi board, which hadn't been used since her father was alive. The two of them spent the next few hours locked in combat on the chess board. Kenshin won all the games, but none of them was an easy victory. Kaoru was a foe worthy of his steel.

In the afternoon, Sano came by the dojo to see about visiting Kenshin. Yahiko wanted to get out of bed and visit him too. Megumi had wanted to wait till he was a bit stronger before he had a lot of people visiting. Kenshin was much stronger now, so Megumi okayed a visit, but only one at a time.

"How come you get to go in first?" whined Yahiko.

"Cuz I'm older," said Sano, bopping Yahiko on the head, causing the boy to jump up and take a chomp of his hair, despite his injuries.

After prying Yahiko off his head, Sano knocked on the shouji and waited for the quiet voice to invite him in. Sano slid the door open and slipped in, shutting it behind him. Kenshin was sitting up against the wall wearing a yukata. He looked comfortable, but was getting a bit restive.

"Hey Sano," he said with a smile. It was good to see his buddy again after almost a week.

"Hey Kenshin. You look great," said Sano.

Kenshin looked over his bandaged torso. "Compared to what?" he asked.

Sano shrugged. "My hand?" he offered, holding up his bandaged appendage. Kenshin smiled.

"Sit down. How's everything?" asked Kenshin.

Sano slid down and sat next to Kenshin against the wall. He sighed and leaned his head back against the wall.

"Is something bothering you?" asked Kenshin.

"Yeah... I been meaning to say... I'm sorry for... y'know poppin' ya one in the jaw back there that time," said Sano, hesitant to bring up Rakuninmura.

Kenshin shook his head, jaw set. "No. I deserved it," he said. "My weakness was the cause of all this."

"Aw Kenshin. Quit downing yourself," said Sano. "You're allowed to be sad. You're human like the rest of us."

"Thanks Sano..." whispered Kenshin, not wanting to pursue the subject any further. Sano wisely decided to let it go.

Sano reached into his jacket and pulled out some papers. "Here Kenshin, I gotcha some reading material," he said with a wink, handing the papers to Kenshin.

Kenshin unfolded them and quickly folded them up. "Sano! Do you know what Kaoru-dono would do if she saw these?" he said.

"Just hide 'em," said Sano.

"Orooo," said Kenshin, wondering at his friend's crassness. However he didn't want to offend Sano, so reluctantly accepted the offering.

"Well, I better haul ass and give the punk a chance to talk with ya," said Sano.

Kenshin smiled. "It was good to see you again Sanosuke. Stop by tomorrow if you like," he said.

"Okay buddy. You keep getting better," said Sano, getting up to walk out.

"I will," said Kenshin.

A minute later Yahiko came in, after being severely warned by Kaoru and Megumi to be quiet around Kenshin. He thought they were being overprotective females, but didn't want to get a beating, so was on his best behavior. Kenshin eyed the boy's movement and smiled, guessing at what bodily harm they'd threatened him with. He motioned for Yahiko to sit next to him. Yahiko slumped down against the wall.

"How are you feeling?" asked Kenshin, noting Yahiko's own set of bandages.

"I'm fine. These are nothing," said Yahiko, gesturing at the bandages. "Nothing hurts me."

Yahiko's voice trailed off and he looked down. In truth, he had been hurt. It had hurt him to see what he thought was his sensei being put in the ground and to see the man he'd come to regard as his father figure fall to pieces and shrink from the real world in Rakuninmura. For two weeks, Yahiko had remained at the dojo and gone all over Tokyo with Misao, trying to find where Kaoru was being held.

Kenshin sensed the strong emotion in the young man's ki. He knew he'd let everyone down when he went insane and fled to Rakuninmura. He had been punishing himself with that thought since he regained his senses and re-emerged. Sano told him it was alright to be human and grieve, but he felt that he'd taken it too far and hurt those dearest to him.

"It must have been very frightening for you. The two people you've come to see as your family, suddenly gone. One, seemingly dead. The other rotting in a village of outcasts. In the chaos, a boy who had lost his parents was forgotten. For that, I am sorry..." said Kenshin.

"Stop it Kenshin. Quit apologizing for everything. You couldn't help how you felt when you thought Kaoru was dead. I handled it fine. I'm a samurai, after all," chided Yahiko.

Kenshin smiled at the boy's bravery. "Yes and a fine one at that. You were the strongest of us. Thank you for lending your strength to me when my own had given out," said Kenshin.

"Forget it," said Yahiko. "I owed you that much for saving me from the yakuza and all. We're even now, two men."

"That sounds good. Thank you," said Kenshin.

Just then the shouji slid open. Kaoru was standing in the doorway. "Alright Yahiko, visiting hours are over. You need to get back to bed," she said firmly.

"Oi Busu, can't you see me and Kenshin are having a man-to-man talk?" said Yahiko.

"Really? Where's the other man?" said Kaoru.

"Look in the mirror," said Yahiko.

"Why you little..." roared Kaoru. Yahiko broke away from Kenshin's side and crashed through the rice paper wall to get away from Kaoru. "YOU OWE ME A NEW WALL, YAHIKO-CHAN!!!!"

"Don't call me Chan!" was the last thing Kenshin heard Yahiko say before the inevitable WHACK.

After being scolded by Megumi for beating up Yahiko while he was injured, Kaoru came into the room to spend time with her red-head. After they'd shared a meal of rice and cooked fish, Kaoru sat against the wall and wrapped her arms around Kenshin, who leaned against her and closed his eyes in contentment.

"Did you have fun today?" asked Kaoru. Kenshin nodded.

"I know you're unhappy being cooped up like this," said Kaoru. "Maybe tomorrow you could try getting out of bed if you feel up to it."

"Only if you come out with me," murmured Kenshin, snuggling closer to her.

Kaoru stroked Kenshin's fiery mane. "It's a date," she whispered, receiving a smile in response. The couple fell asleep in that position.