Rurouni Kenshin Fan Fiction ❯ Let's Just Pretend ❯ Unfaithful ( Chapter 21 )

[ P - Pre-Teen ]

Kaoru suppressed a sigh, turning the beer in her hand. She was trying to get used to the taste but honestly, most of the time she felt like she was drinking poison. Misao chattered excitedly to Megumi but Kaoru had stopped listening some minutes ago. After living with the hyper girl for almost four years she'd learned to filter most of what was said. The few sentences that filtered into her subconscious told her that she'd heard the story already. Kaoru lifted the beer bottle, eyes narrowing on the peeling label. She wasgoing to finish it. Even if it killed her. A warm chuckle to her left sent shivers down her spine. “Don't force yourself to drink it, Miss Kaoru.”

She nearly dropped the bottle in surprise. Somehow the men had managed to arrive without her notice. So lost in thought, she missed Misao's enthusiastic greeting to Aoshi. Sanosuke and Aoshi had taken seats next to their respective girlfriends leaving the seat next to Kaoru empty for Kenshin. Kaoru could feel her cheeks heat and she was thankful for the dim lighting. Maybe he wouldn't notice... By the tilt of his head and the quirk of his lips she knew she was out of luck.

Kaoru set her beer on the table, trying to relax in the stiff chair and attempted an easy smile. Kenshin returned her smile with a grin, indicating her beer. “Not to your taste?”

She blushed, darting a quick glance at the others to see that they were busy with each other. “It's okay. I'm not really much of a beer drinker.”

Kenshin settled more comfortably in his chair, motioning with his own beer. “You should try a foreign one if you don't like the domestics.”

Her eyes darted back to the bottle. “Oh, I usually do. Not that I drink all the time, but when I do—I'll shut up now.”

Yup, reestablish her moronic tendencies. Great. She heard a soft exhale from him and sank lower in her chair. And now he was laughing at her. Times like these she wished the floor would just open up and swallow her. Maybe Armageddon would come early...

Sanosuke suddenly thumped his beer down, drawing everyone's attention. “Kenshin has a great break-up story.”

Eyes wide, Kaoru watched as a blush spread across the redhead's cheeks. So he hadbeen dating. “Oro, Sano...”

Kaoru felt her heart drop and her eyes fell to the table top. How did she miss that? She glanced up to see Kenshin fidgeting in his seat and Misao looking interested. Sanosuke ignored Kenshin's discomfort, throwing back his head in a laugh. “Come on, Kenshin. It's great. Tell it.”

“Um.. I don't think so, Sano.”

Kenshin nervously shifted his drink in his hands while Kaoru's heart had taken up residence somewhere in her stomach. Oh, she suddenly felt sick. Would they notice if she left?

Sanosuke snorted, looping an arm around Megumi's shoulders, ignoring when she shrugged it off. “Come on, Kenshin. It's the best break-up story ever

Megumi leaned across the table, a smirk pulling at her lips. “How long ago was this, Ken?”

Kenshin didn't reply immediately so Sanosuke provided the answer. “Two weeks ago!”

Kaoru winced. Ow. Sucker punched.

Kenshin's eyes darted around the table. “Sano, I don't think this is appropriate.”

Aoshi cleared his throat. “Might as well tell the story, Himura. Sagara won't let it go.”

Betrayal! By the ice block, no less. Kaoru kept her eyes on the table and grabbed her beer, taking a great, gulping swig, trying not to grimace while ignoring Kenshin's searching look. What was he so concerned about all of a sudden? She pasted a grin on her face. “You've come this far. I'm always ready for a great story.”

This story better be worth a Pulitzer. Kenshin cleared his throat, taking a drink as he sorted his thoughts. “Three weeks ago, I started dating this girl. After going out for about a week, she decided to break up with me.”

“That was quick.”

Kenshin turned to her, raising an eyebrow and Kaoru folded her arms. That was not meant to be spoken aloud. Megumi hummed. “Did she give a reason?”

The confusion on Kenshin's face made Kaoru study Megumi closer. Apparently she already knew the story. Life was looking down for the tanuki. Sanosuke didn't look to pleased either but Kenshin continued before an argument could break out. “She said that she could see herself married to me and that scared her.”

Misao burst into laughter, startling almost everyone around her. “That was her reason? After a week? Is she insane?”

Kenshin shrugged, turning the bottle in his hand. “I was hurt—”

“Of course you were! I don't think I'd break up if I could see myself married to—”

Kaoru nearly bit off her tongue to keep from finishing her sentence. She really needed to think before she opened her mouth. Perhaps she should never drink again. Kenshin gave her a half smile. “That was before I found out how crazy she was.”

His words brought up the memory of one of Megumi's passing comments. “Is this the party you crashed last week?”

“I haven't gotten that far yet, Miss Kaoru.”

Misao perked up again. “You crashed a party?”

Kenshin seemed to be settling into his story. “About three days after breaking up, I found out she was dating someone else.”

Mutters of “you can't be serious” and “skank” circled the table despite Kenshin's frown of disapproval. Kaoru bit her lip, unsure if she really wanted to know. “Where'd this other guy come from?”

To her surprise, his eyes lit up and he chuckled. “Her D&D group. He's the Dungeon Master.”

Stunned silence fell on the group before Kaoru snickered. “What was she? A priestess?”

Sanosuke gawked. “You shouldn't even know that!”

Kaoru blushed, shrugging sheepishly. Kenshin laughed. “Something like that actually.”

The laughter that followed caused a few of the other patrons to look over at them.

“So, what about this party crashing?”

To Kaoru's surprise, Kenshin actually laughed. “One of my friends dropped by my place and asked if I wanted to crash her birthday party. I didn't really want to but the girl with him heard about the story and promised to be the best fake girlfriend ever and I didn't even have to do anything except hold her hand.”

Kaoru felt like someone had just grabbed her heart and was slowly squeezing it. Kenshin's voice had grown soft and he now appeared blissfully lost in thought. “She did a great job. She deserves to win an Oscar. Anyway, we show up to this party late. My friend bursts through the front door and this girl and I are right behind him, holding hands. My ex and all her friends are in the middle of a toast. She's just turning twenty-one. She sees us, turns pale, and races from the room. About ten minutes later, she comes back and we find out that they'd just been toasting her engagement.”

“Engagement!” Misao's squawk echoed everyone's thoughts. “Engagement! Two weeks before she said she could see herself married to youand now she's engaged to the Dungeon Master!”

“Misao...” Aoshi reached to pull her back into her seat, but she just sprang up again. “You need to pick better girls, Himura!”

Sanosuke threw his head back and laughed at Kenshin's sheepish smile. Megumi even had to hide her giggles behind her hand. Kaoru fought with herself between sympathy and amusement before finally choking out. “I'm sorry.”

He turned a bright smile on her and her heart gave a little flip. “Don't be. I'm glad it's over. Now that I look back, it is kind of funny.”

Conversation turned to more mundane topics but Kaoru was no longer listening. Her focus was solely on the redhead next to her and the occasional smile he sent her way. True, he would never be hers but she loved him just the same. She was a friend of his after all, even if she wanted to be more.
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