Rurouni Kenshin Fan Fiction ❯ Let's Just Pretend ❯ Check Out My Mad Ninja Skills ( Chapter 19 )

[ P - Pre-Teen ]

Kaoru settled into a chair across the coffee shop, opening her history book and spreading her notebook open. Perhaps this was covert enough... Hey! She wasn't planning on joining any ninja teams to practice being rocks and trees. Glancing quickly across the cafe, she caught Kenshin smiling and leaning against the coffee counter and chatting with the girl working the espresso machine. She dropped her eyes back to her book, trying to ignore the way her stomach twisted. Maybe she wasn't quite over her cold. His soft chuckle teased her ears and she clenched her pen tighter. Maybe this was a bad idea. She refused to acknowledge she was jealous. It was just heartburn. She would not look up. The girl's next words made her change her mind. “Kenshin Himura! If I didn't know you had a girlfriend, I'd snatch you up in a heartbeat.”
Kaoru cringed, looking up. Kenshin does not flirt. She paused at that thought. Okay. Maybe he did. A little. But it wasn't serious. Everyone knew that. And what's this about a girlfriend? Hadn't Kagome—
Someone slid into the seat next to her. “Tae isn't his type.”
Kaoru startled, turning away from the picture of Kenshin leaning across the counter. “Miss Tomoe?”
Tomoe tucked a stray hair back into her bun. “Really, Kaoru. You know him far better than that.”
Kaoru fidgeted. “I'm not so sure about that. What are you doing here?”
Tomoe sighed, dark eyes searching the younger woman's face. “I'm here to knock some sense into him.”
Suddenly wary, Kaoru sat back. “How so?”
Tomoe indicated Kaoru's history book. “This is wearing him out. He can't continue to be two people.” Her gaze drifted back to the bar. “Kenshin holds himself to impossible standards.”
“I wouldn't change him.”
A carefully sculpted eyebrow rose. “Oh?”
Kaoru bit her lip, looking away. Way to jump the gun. “I wish he could be himself. He... he puzzles me.”
Why, oh why did she have to ask so many questions? “He's... he's so many things to so many people. A brother, friend, mentor, teacher, study partner...”
She trailed off, brow furrowed in thought. She could tell the instant Kenshin spotted them. He brightened immediately but seeing them together made that little crease between his eyebrows appear. Tomoe lifted a hand, waving casually. He said a quick good bye to Tae and started toward them and Tomoe settled serious eyes on Kaoru. “Kenshin has a gift of knowing exactly what someone needs from him. He doesn't know about you though.” Her look turned contemplative. “You should tell him.”
Kaoru jerked. “What?”
Kenshin was upon them, casting an anxious look at Kaoru as he greeted them cheerfully. “Miss Tomoe. Miss Kaoru. I didn't see you here.”
Tomoe gave a small smile and rose from her seat. “I just got here. Kaoru and I were just catching up. How about lunch?”
He nodded slowly. “Miss Kaoru? Would you like to join us?”
She gave a wide, reassuring smile. Sanosuke called it her shit-eating grin. Hopefully Kenshin wouldn't notice. “Oh, no. I really have to finish my paper. I'll just stay here for a few more hours and grab something on the way home.”
His answering smile seemed a little uncertain but he took her at her word and turned to accompany Tomoe out the door. She waited until they were completely out of sight before she let her smile fade and her head drop to her open notebook. She groaned softly. How could she let this happen? Damn. Life sucked. She was definitely not getting anything done.