Rurouni Kenshin Fan Fiction ❯ Let's Just Pretend ❯ We Meet Again: Third Time's the Charm? ( Chapter 14 )

[ P - Pre-Teen ]

Kaoru crouched behind the bushes trying desperately to ignore the cold breeze. Not for the first time that night she wondered how she got herself into this mess. Movement a few feet away drew her attention to her roommate. Misao stood casually against the lamppost, gazing across the dimly lit campus. A shudder passed through her. Kaoru would give anything to put her coat back on but...
“Explain to me again. Why am I doing this?”
Misao barely glanced in her direction but Kaoru could see the smirk... even in the poor light. “You lost.”
She resisted the urge to roll her eyes and instead tightened her arms around her knees. “That doesn't explain why you're here. You weren't part of this... thing.”
Misao finally turned away from the darkened campus to fix Kaoru with an amused smile. Kaoru's eyes narrowed. An ever widening smile. If she hadn't felt like she was frozen into a block of ice she would—
“Would you rather Sano be here?”
Kaoru glared, crouching low to the ground in order to preserve her modesty. She'd lost the bet and now she had to pay the consequences. She would never place a bet in favor of Sano ever again. Misao grinned at her, taking a moment to peer around the corner. No one was around and the sidewalks were dark... not that that provided much comfort. She looked back at Kaoru, raising an eyebrow. “If you don't get going you'll have to go when there are people around.”
Kaoru swallowed, staring across campus. “Just to the gym and back?”
Misao nodded. “Just once.”
Deep breath, Kaoru. Come on. Slow release. Courage don't fail now! “What time is it?”
Her roommate glanced at her watch. “Half past midnight.”
“Great. Nothing like a nice streak in the middle of the night,” she muttered. “Are you waiting here?”
Misao shrugged. “Have to make sure you carry out the bet.”
“No need to sound so damn cheerful now.”
Misao clucked her tongue reprovingly. “You sound like you weren't aware of the consequences, Kaoru. Who was it that chose the bet?”
Sapphire eyes narrowed. “That would be you.”
Misao blinked in surprise, brow furrowing thoughtfully. “Oh yeah... well, you agreed to it.”
“I hate Sano.”
Misao gave her a quick pat on the head. “It's not really his fault he broke his hand. Walls tend to be kind of hard. Especially brick ones.”
Kaoru clutched at her knees, glad that at least her long hair covered some of her. Fingers tensed with nerves and she took another deep breath. The longer she waited, the more her emotions rolled. To her credit, Misao remained silent, allowing Kaoru to steady her breathing. She was so going to humiliate Sanosuke... as soon as she thought of something that would humiliate him. That idiot was shameless. Her eyes moved longingly to her clothes. “You'll still be here?”
“Where else do I have to go?”
Blue eyes narrowed. That question was almost too innocent. Whatever. Okay. Deep breath. She stood, ignoring Misao's catcall. Kaoru could make it across campus without seeing anyone. The faster she did this, the sooner she'd be able to put her clothes back on. Damn! It's cold. Why couldn't they wait until spring? Nice, warm spring nights—
“A little cold?”
Color flooded her cheeks. She ran if only to get away from Misao. Pavement dug into her bare feet. Two minutes. That's all it took. This was sure to be the longest two minutes of her life. Laughter broke though her concentration and she stumbled to a stop, heart leaping in her chest. Who was insane enough to be out on campus so late? She ducked behind a trash can just as a group of girls strolled by. Kaoru grit her teeth to prevent her teeth from chattering, biting back a curse for Sanosuke. If anyone caught her, she was going to kill him. He said the campus was clear.
Kaoru waited until the girls were out of sight before continuing across campus. Halfway there. The jerk who moved the building was going to pay. A stitch was forming in her side and if she didn't get back to her clothes soon she was going to die. What a humiliating, degrading death.
The gym was in sight! Almost there. Who would have thought she'd be so happy to see the building that reminded her of her horrifying P.E. classes? Maybe she can turn around now... No! Somehow they'd know. Who decided to put the gym on a hill? Yes! The doors! Turn around... Back to clothes. Clothes. Clothes. Warm, wonderful—
The wind was knocked out of her and the world turned upside down for a moment. Oh, stars. Who put that wall there? Arms rose around her as her momentum knocked them off their feet. Breath wheezed out of the body she fell in a tangle with and she squeezed her eyes shut. This was decidedly worse than streaking across campus. Kaoru lay gasping for air, attempting to ignore the feel of fingers clutching her back. The person coughed, hands moving to her upper arms and gently pushing her up. “Miss Kaoru?”
Heat rushed to her face and she shrieked, grasping his shirt and yanking herself back to his chest, clasping her arms around him. What was Kenshin doing out this late? He grunted in surprise when she buried her face in his neck. Kaoru could feel the heat from her cheeks warm his neck. “Don't.”
His hands moved awkwardly, resting uncertainly on her back and she felt him tense. “Uh... Miss Kaoru... are you... why...”
He shifted and she panicked, tightening her arms and legs around him. He gasped again as her hold forced the air out of his lungs again. Sanosuke was definitely going to die. Kaoru tried to suppress a pleasant shiver when Kenshin moved his hands up her back to rest between her shoulders. “Kenshin?”
She winced. She didn't want her voice to sound so small. She peeked up at him, noting that his cheeks had darkened and he was staring resolutely at the night sky. A giggle escaped her and he flinched, eyes darting to her face. Despite her own humiliation, his embarrassment was endearing. She sighed, dropping her forehead to his chest. “We really should stop meeting like this.”
A short laugh escaped. “Now we're even, that we are. Should we get up?”
She shook her head, unable to keep the whine from her voice. “No.”
“It's cold out, Miss Kaoru. You should put some clothes on so you don't catch cold.”
She didn't need him to tell her it was cold. She was the one in her birthday suit. She shivered again though she couldn't decide if it was because of the cold or the way his hands moved down her back in an unconscious attempt to keep her warm. She shook her head. “I don't want you to peek.”
He hummed distractedly, his touch changing slightly. She flushed, her head jerking to look up at him. His eyes were closed, lips parted as he took short breaths. One of his hands dipped lower, ghosting over her hip. She gasped, trying to wiggle away from his hands. “Kenshin!”
He jumped, eyes snapping open wide as his blush deepened. “Oro! I'm sorry, Miss Kaoru! I didn't mean—”
Kaoru took a steadying breath. “Don't worry about it. Close your eyes and don't peek.”
He glanced down at her and quickly looked away. “What are you doing?”
She rolled her eyes. It wasn't like she was going to jump him. “I'm going to find my clothes.”
His arms dropped from her and she whimpered as the cold ht her. She had to find her clothes.
She snuck a look at Kenshin to see his eyes shut tight and his jaw clenched. Watching him, she shifted to move off of him when she was startled by a stifled noise from his throat. “Kenshin?”
He didn't move and his words came out in a rush. “Find your clothes.”
She scrambled off of him and hurried to where she left her clothes with Misao. They were gone. She cursed softly and ducked into the bush she had hidden in before. “Misao!”
“Is something wrong, Miss Kaoru?”
Her head jerked toward him. “Misao has disappeared with my clothes.”
Kenshin sat up and Kaoru tensed. A moment later, his jacket was tossed toward her. “Put that on, Miss Kaoru.”
She dragged it on, surprised that it covered her. “But you'll be cold.”
Kenshin laughed, rising to his feet. “I'm wearing clothes. I'll be fine, that I will.”
Kaoru grinned sheepishly, finally creeping out of the bush to stand before Kenshin. She blushed when his eyes swept over her. “Thank you. I should get back to the dorm before someone else comes along.”
His appraisal was quick and he nodded, turning in the direction of her dorm. “I'll walk you back. Sano can wait five minutes.”
Her heart skipped a beat. That was too much of a coincidence. “Sano?”
“I promised to meet him at the gym around 12:30.”