Rurouni Kenshin Fan Fiction ❯ Healing Hands ❯ Day 5 ( Chapter 5 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
"Kaoru, wake up," Kaoru heard a soft voice say the next morning. She woke up and looked into a pair of warm, violet eyes. Kenshin smiled when he saw that she was awake.

Kenshin held out his bandaged left hand. Kaoru took it and he pulled her to her feet in one fluid move. Kaoru looked him over incredulously. He'd gotten up and gotten dressed while she'd still been asleep, with his right arm still in the sling! Kenshin smiled at the expression on her face.

"How'd you get dressed? You didn't use your right arm, did you?" she asked in alarm.

"Can't a swordsman keep some secrets?" said Kenshin with a smile. He nodded toward the door. "Shall we?"

Kenshin led Kaoru out of the room and out onto the engawa. They sat down beside each other. Kaoru snuggled against Kenshin who put his left arm around her and held her close to him. They watched the sun rise together, enjoying the early autumn morning.

Megumi, who had come in through the front gate, came outside, having found the bedroom and house empty. She wanted to see if Kenshin's bandages had been changed yet. She rounded the corner and saw the couple sitting together, the picture of bliss. She decided the bandage change could wait a while and went inside to start breakfast.

Kaoru and Kenshin smelled cooking food. Kaoru looked back toward the kitchen.

"Megumi-dono's cooking breakfast. She's been here for about for 30 minutes," said Kenshin absently.

"That's nice," said Kaoru simply, wishing she could sense people the way Kenshin could.

Kenshin stood up and offered Kaoru his hand. They went in together and found that Megumi had laid out miso soup and fish for breakfast. The three ate together. After they were finished, Kenshin complimented Megumi highly as usual. Kaoru frowned. She wanted to be the one whose cooking Kenshin complimented, and meant it. He seldom said mean things about her cooking the way Sano and Yahiko did, but if they were to be man and woman together, she'd have to be able to cook for him. Kaoru decided that she was going to teach herself to cook if it killed her.

Back in the bedroom, Megumi removed Kenshin's old bandages and checked his wounds. They were healing very nicely and there wasn't even a trace amount of blood coming from any of them. Megumi undid the sling and moved Kenshin's arm about, doing so carefully to avoid causing him any pain. His shoulder was healing very well too. The sling might be able to come off in two weeks instead of three.

"You're an amazing man, Ken-san," she said as she finished dressing the wounds in new bandages. Kenshin smiled. He didn't think he was amazing, but didn't mind hearing his friends say it.

Megumi cleared Kenshin to start doing some light work around the dojo such as dusting and polishing. Kenshin sorely missed doing the laundry and sweeping, but it was nice to be functional again in some capacity. Kenshin did various one-handed jobs until noon. It was around then that he heard a string of muffled expletives coming from the kitchen.

Kenshin came in and found Kaoru, trying to chop vegetables for lunch and having a miserable time doing it. The damn things seemed to roll off the cutting tray on their own. Kaoru got so frustrated with an errant potato, that she picked it up and was about to chuck it out the window, when Kenshin stopped her.

"What are you doing, koishi?" he asked her.

"What's it look like I'm doing?" snapped Kaoru. "I'm cooking!"

"It looks like you're mutilating those vegetables to me," said Kenshin, trying not to laugh.

"Kenshin, I'm in a bad mood and I'm holding a sharp knife," said Kaoru with an edge in her voice.

"What's the matter?" asked Kenshin. "Megumi-dono left plenty of..."

"That's what's the matter!" cried Kaoru, spinning around to face Kenshin. "Megumi's doing all the cooking. I'm the one who loves you, not she! I'm going to learn to cook even if I blow this dojo up trying!"

"If you wanted to learn how to cook, why didn't you just say so?" asked Kenshin gently. "I'd be happy to teach you."

"Really?" asked Kaoru, feeling badly for snapping at Kenshin and turning on him with a kitchen knife, yet another of her unwomanly shortcomings.

"Really," said Kenshin, pressing his body against Kaoru's and bringing up his good hand to cover her left. Kenshin guided Kaoru's hand over the potato and showed her how to hold it down.

"Now, cut into it slowly. Don't hack," said Kenshin.

For the rest of the hour, Kenshin gently and patiently instructed Kaoru on matters of the kitchen. Kaoru learned that the reason she had trouble with cooking was because of her lack of patience. She always tried to hurry through meal preparations, with unbecoming results. Kenshin showed her that cooking was something that must be done slowly and with great attention to detail.

Kaoru had always wanted to learn to cook. Her mother had died before she'd been old enough to begin lessons. Megumi was a good cook, but Kaoru never felt comfortable enough around her to ask, and Tae was too busy running the Akabeko every day. Finally she got what she'd wanted her whole life, not from another woman, but from a man who had taken on many of the functions of a woman. Life was just full of ironies.

By the time the meal was prepared, Kaoru finally had a vague understanding of kitchen matters. Kenshin promised to teach her a bit more every day. Kaoru felt a bit better about cooking, but still very lacking in other areas. In her own eyes, she was the plain little tomboy, Tanuki Musume. She longed to be beautiful, well mannered and a great cook like Megumi and... Tomoe. As they sat eating, Kaoru looked at Kenshin across the table. She doubted herself. She felt like Tomoe was this impossible goal for her to reach.

'How can he love someone like myself, who is the exact opposite of Tomoe-san?' she thought. 'Maybe he's just saying he loves me because he doesn't want to hurt my feelings.'

Sensing Kaoru's troubled ki, Kenshin looked up from his food. "Is something wrong?" he said softly.

"Kenshin, do you think I'm a tomboy?" she asked.

Kenshin nearly choked on his food. Kaoru had never talked about stuff like this before!

"Orooooo," he said, trying to think. "Why do you ask...?"

"Just answer the damn..." Kaoru cut herself off. She was doing it again. "I mean, please just answer the question. I'm curious."

"I think Kaoru is Kaoru," said Kenshin simply. "You're the shihondai of Kamiya Kasshin Ryu and you love what you do very much. You don't care what others think of a woman who practices swordsmanship."

"But I'm not feminine, am I? I'm not the kind of woman that a man can truly love," Kaoru lowered her head to hide the tears in her eyes. Kenshin got up and came and sat beside her.

"Where's this coming from?" he asked in a dropped voice.

"Kenshin, how can you possibly love me? I'm nothing like her. She was beautiful, feminine, quiet, perfect. I'm the exact opposite of her. How can you love me when I'm nothing like the woman you loved first?" asked Kaoru, a couple tears escaping her eyes.

Kenshin sighed and wrapped his left arm around Kaoru. Thinking of Tomoe hurt him, probably always would. The last thing he had expected was that Kaoru would compare herself to her.

"Kaoru, listen to me. Tomoe and you are two different people and are part of very different stages in my life. Tomoe kept me sane during my darkest days. When she died, I never thought I could fall in love again. Then I met you," he said with a smile, turning Kaoru's face to his.

"You were the first woman I ever met who knew how to wield a sword, who had the courage to charge in against a man she believed to be Battousai, the first to go toe-to-toe with the police," he said with a chuckle. "My point is, Tomoe was Tomoe and Kaoru is Kaoru. I don't want a copy of Tomoe, I want you as you are."

"Just as I am? Bad tempered, sweaty little tomboy and all?" asked Kaoru.

"Yes. Bad temper and all, for all attract me to you," said Kenshin.

"Kenshin," said Kaoru, pulling her Rurouni into a warm hug and kissing him on the mouth.

"Orooooo," said the swordsman as he returned the shihondai's affection.

As promised, Sano dropped by that evening for dinner. Megumi, along with Aoshi, Misao and Yahiko joined them, being rather surprised at the food already being prepared, but said nothing of it. This was their first time eating together as a group since the start of the Jinchuu.

"Oi, Vixen this is some damn fine miso 'n rice," complimented Sano.

"Yeah. Thanks for doing all the cooking. With Kenshin outta commission, you're the only one who can cook decently around here," said Yahiko.

"Actually, I didn't cook this food," said Megumi. "Kaoru-chan did."

"Yeah, right," said Sano.

"Megumi-dono tells the truth. Kaoru-dono did indeed cook this meal," said Kenshin, backing Megumi up.

Sano, Yahiko and Misao gaped at Kaoru, who just smiled smugly and let the coals burn on the two fellows' heads. Kenshin smiled at her, happy that she was finally getting that monkey off her back. Sano and Yahiko ate the rest of the meal in silence, wondering how the hell Kaoru had learned to cook so well. Aoshi of course, said nothing.