Megumi gives Ken-san a thorough checkup to make sure he's healthy.

June, 1879

Takani Megumi made her way blithely through the streets of Tokyo, having just come from the Kamiya Dojo, where she had engaged in a meaningful conversation with Kaoru about a certain redhead.

"Megumi-san? Welcome! When did you get in?" cried Kaoru in astonishment.

"Just this morning. I thought I'd come by and visit you two," explained Megumi.

"Come in and sit and I'll make you some tea," said Kaoru.

"Thank you," said Megumi, stepping out of her sandals and sitting on a cushion at the low table.

"So how have things been for you two this past year?" Megumi asked as Kaoru returned with some castella.

"Things have been fine. Married life is a bit of an adjustment, but Kenshin and I are taking things a day at a time," answered Kaoru as she rose to return to the kitchen.

"Indeed. How has Ken-san been?" asked Megumi.

"He's been doing very well," answered Kaoru, returning with a tray holding the teapot and two bamboo cups. "I've been following your advice and smiling for him all the time and it really seems to be helping. He's so much happier now than he used to be."

"That's what I like to hear," replied Megumi as she watched Kaoru sink to her knees, put the tea cups out and pour the tea with practiced ease, first into Megumi's cup, then into her own. "Thank you."

Megumi picked up the teacup and took a sip. The taste was... interesting to say the least, a strange combination of sweet, bitter and sour if tea could be all three at once. With a forced smile, she swallowed.

'If Ken-san's tea is like this, she's going to end up killing him,' she thought.

"Kaoru, it sounds like Ken-san is doing well in spirit. How has his health seemed to you?" Megumi inquired.

"He's been fine, though he does seem to tire a bit more easily than he used to," answered Kaoru.

"That's to be expected, given his condition," answered Megumi, finally finding her segue. "Which brings me to the other reason I'm here. I was wondering if you would mind if I looked Ken-san over, to be certain that his condition hasn't worsened this past year."

"Do you think it has?" asked Kaoru, raising her eyes to communicate with the lady doctor's.

"Probably not, but it's best not to take any chances. That's why I'd like to see him, to find out," advised Megumi.

"Thank you, Megumi-san. If you think it's best, then so do I," agreed Kaoru. "The only problem is, Kenshin isn't here right now because he went out for rice this morning. You're welcome to wait."

"No. That's alright. I'll go into town and find him. It's not like he's hard to spot," laughed Megumi as she finished off the rest of her dubious tea as quickly as politeness allowed.

Megumi walked through the crowded marketplace, keeping a sharp eye out for the telltale crimson of Ken-san's hair. As it turned out, she didn't have to look very hard. There he was, just leaving the rice vendor's booth with a full bucket clutched in his right hand!

"Oh, Ken-san!" she called out.

"Oro?!" yelped a startled Kenshin, whirling around to see Takani Megumi standing behind him.

"M-Megumi-dono? When did you arrive in Tokyo?" asked a confused Kenshin.

"I arrived this morning," explained Megumi.

"You should have wired us. We would have met you at the station," reprimanded Kenshin gently.

Megumi smiled to herself. Ken-san was as considerate as he had always been.

"I'll keep that in mind for next year," she smiled.

"That's good. So, what brings Megumi-dono to Tokyo?" Kenshin asked.

"Actually, I've been looking for you," said Megumi, approaching Kenshin.

"Oro? Looking for me?" parroted Kenshin, face the picture of affable cluelessness.

"Yes. I dropped by the dojo earlier and Kaoru-chan told me I could find you in the marketplace," explained Megumi.

"Ah. Does Megumi-dono need me to do anything?" Kenshin asked with a friendly smile.

"Yes, indeed. Let's get a bite to eat at the Akabeko and talk," said Megumi, gesturing to the familiar hangout.

"That sounds good. Oh, look. Half off lunch today," smiled Kenshin.

After Kenshin and Megumi were seated at the old Kenshingumi booth and their food served, Megumi decided to get right to the point.

"While I was at the dojo, I had a long talk with Kaoru-chan," she began, picking up a strip of beef with the serving chopsticks.

"What did you two talk about?" asked Kenshin out of idle curiosity.

"About you," was Megumi's answer.


"It's been a year since I've seen you last. I talked it over with Kaoru and she and I both agree that I should give you a full examination at the clinic today," Megumi continued.

The strip of beef Kenshin had just picked up in his chopsticks slipped out from between them and back onto the hotpot.

"Oro... Megumi-dono..." he stammered, his cheeks taking on a reddish hue.

"You have nothing if you don't have your health," said Megumi gravely. "If you ever suspected anything was amiss with Kaoru's health, wouldn't you insist that she come see me or Oguni-sensei right away?"

"Absolutely," said Kenshin without a second's hesitation.

"Then isn't Kaoru allowed to insist the same of you?" continued Megumi.

Kenshin fell silent and Megumi knew she had won the battle. It had been much easier than she had anticipated!

"Tae-san, check please!" she called.

Oguni Clinic

Megumi ushered Kenshin through the clinic's front door and down the hallway, all the way toward the rearmost rooms, her hand on the small of his back the whole time to keep him from bolting.

The private room in the back of the clinic was nice and warm, having been prepared ahead of time by Megumi in anticipation. This would be Megumi's one chance to observe and touch Ken-san's beautiful body as intimately as his wife. If she made the examination a bit longer and more thorough than actually necessary, what was the harm?

"Right this way, Ken-san," said Megumi as she led Kenshin into the room.

She directed him to the privacy screen.

"I need you to disrobe and stand in front of me," she instructed.

As the blushing rurouni retreated behind the screen, Megumi began preparing her equipment for their upcoming session. As the pine green kimono and gray hakama were draped over the top of the screen, she couldn't help but smile to herself. Soon, the redhaired man stepped out from behind the screen and padded across the room to stand before Megumi.

A subtle smile dancing on her red lips, Megumi began her examination in earnest by walking around the rurouni, observing his body from different angles. He was absolutely exquisite! Short and frail by appearance, yet undeniably fit and wiry! Ken-san's skin was pale, yet not sickly looking. Scars from years of battles ran this way and that over his otherwise perfect flesh. Cheeks tinged a lovely incarnadine, Ken-san stood at attention, his body tense in anticipation of the exam to come. Overall, Ken-san's body looked quite sound and he was certainly well equipped in all the right places.

'Kaoru must be a very happy young lady,' Megumi thought to herself.

"Bend down and touch your toes."

Kenshin bent over and touched his fingers to his toes. As he did this, Megumi traced her fingers lightly down Kenshin's spine, starting at his neck and moving slowly down, feeling the bumps that protruded from under his skin to check for curvature and signs of overlying infection. The vertebrae stuck out a bit more than she might have liked, but that was normal for this man. Her fingers slowly trailed down to his tailbone, then traced slowly back up. Kenshin flinched several times because the light touch tickled him.

"Alright, Ken-san. Your spine is perfectly aligned. Come stand on the scale and I'll check your weight," said Megumi, gesturing to the scale.

Kenshin approached the scale and stepped onto the little platform.

"Stand still with your arms at your sides," said Megumi.

Megumi moved the weights until they balanced. Ken-san weighed in at a whopping 101 pounds!

“Hmm...a little thin,” she noted, somewhat disapprovingly. “But, then, I guess it’s to be expected when you have to endure Kaoru’s cooking.”

"Kaoru's cooking has improved greatly," said Kenshin in his wife's defense.

"I know it has. I was just teasing," said Megumi, giving Ken-san a reassuring pat on the shoulder. "Have a seat on the table and we'll get started."

Megumi watched as Kenshin climbed onto the exam table, then sat, staring down at his dangling feet.

"How have you been feeling over all, Ken-san?" she inquired.

Silence from the rurouni who still had his head down, shaggy bangs covering his eyes.

'Playing shy, are we?' she thought as she gently, but firmly cupped Kenshin's chin in her right hand and lifted his face to make him look her in the eye.

"Yes, Megumi-dono. I've been feeling fine," Kenshin answered softly with the extra prompting.

Indeed, it seemed he was. The violet eyes were brighter than Megumi could ever remember seeing them and if she didn't know any better, she would say the cruciform scar seemed to be a tiny bit smaller than it had been before. Having someone to live for once again had been a balm to this warrior's tattered soul.

Megumi's left hand grasped Kenshin's right wrist, checking his pulse.

"Been eating regularly and sleeping through the night?" Megumi continued her questioning, not allowing Ken-san to lower his face again.

"Yes, Megumi-dono."

"That's good," said Megumi, finally releasing Kenshin's chin from her gentle grasp. "Now I'll start by feeling your scalp."

Megumi inspected Kenshin's head, feeling around for bumps, depressions, etc. If she enjoyed running her fingers through his shaggy red hair, she didn't say so.

Moving lower, Megumi gently felt around the back of Kenshin's head, around his neck and under his jaw, feeling for swollen lymph nodes. Megumi felt Kenshin's trachea, gently moving it from side to side while watching his features for any signs of discomfort.


Megumi picked up a wooden tongue depressor.

"Now I need you to open your mouth and stick out your tongue for me," she instructed.

Kenshin nodded and did as instructed. Using the tongue depressor, Megumi inspected Kenshin's lips, teeth, tongue, gums and the inside of his mouth.

"Say 'ah'," she instructed.

"Oro?" said Kenshin around the tongue depressor.

"Not 'oro'. 'Ah'," instructed Megumi, sticking out her own tongue by way of example.


Pressing down on Kenshin's tongue, Megumi inspected his uvula and tonsils. Finally, to Kenshin's relief, she withdrew the depressor.

"Cough for me," she instructed.

Kenshin gave a healthy, forceful cough, chest rapidly moving in and out as he did.

"Now I want you to shrug your shoulders while I press down on them," said the lady doctor, laying her hands on Ken-san's small, but strong shoulders.

Megumi's downward pressure was easily overcome as Kenshin shrugged his shoulders upward. She nodded inwardly as she felt the power latent in those small shoulders. She felt and identified the bony landmarks of the shoulder including the scapula and clavicle, gently walking her fingertips along, feeling the bones through the thin veneer of skin and muscle.

Next, Megumi held Kenshin's each of Kenshin's arms to his side and gently, but firmly pressed her fingertips into his armpit and along his upper arm to feel his lymph nodes. Each time she would hit a ticklish spot and felt him flinch, she would smile internally and "accidentally" hit that spot again.


Sliding her fingers slowly over the skin, feeling the strong corded muscles underneath, Megumi inspected and touched Kenshin's arms, feeling for muscle tone. Moving slowly downward, she inspected the elbows, stopping and moving them to make certain they were aligned properly with no deformities. When Megumi reached Ken-san's hands, she inspected his nails for color, infection, abnormal flattening and ridging. Megumi gently touched, bent, flexed and rotated his fingers.

As Megumi examined Kenshin's hands and fingers, she marveled at their artist-like beauty. In another life, he might have been an ink painter she thought as she tested the range of motion in his fingers by moving and flexing them.

"Now I'm going to test your nervous system by touching you. Close your eyes and tell me when you feel my touch," instructed Megumi.

After Kenshin's eyes were closed, Megumi lightly touched his right cheek.

"You touched my right cheek," said Kenshin.

Megumi softly traced her fingers along Ken-san's delicate jawline.

"My jaw."

Moving down a bit, Megumi traced her fingers lightly across Ken-san's rib cage, ghosting over the bones that stuck out prominently from under his pallid skin.

"Oro!" Kenshin yelped, flinching when he felt the fingertips trailing over his skin. That tickled!

"Very good. You can open your eyes," said Megumi.


She wrapped the blood pressure cuff around Kenshin's arm and squeezed the pump. Then she released the air and checked the pressure, listening with her stethoscope as the blood flowed back to where it had been cut off from.

Megumi inspected Kenshin's chest wall and skin, observing the contours of the prominent bones and planes of lean muscle. All the old and new scars that crisscrossed and marred his otherwise beautiful flesh.

"Take a deep breath for me, Ken-san," Megumi instructed.

As Kenshin inhaled, the lady doctor observed his chest's motion.

Next, she placed her hands over Kenshin's lower chest, just under his pectorals. Ah, what a thrill went through her, to feel those strong wiry muscles and satiny smooth skin under her hands!

"Take another deep breath for me," she instructed.

As Kenshin took another deep breath, Megumi felt felt his rib cage expand under her hands as she checked for any halting or unevenness in the movement of his chest muscles, all while enjoying the feeling of touching him so closely. She took her time, enjoying the feeling of the warm, rippling muscles under her touch.

Megumi felt for the apex of his heart by touching the fingers of her right hand to his left pectoral, just below his nipple. She felt the strong, rhythmic beats of Kenshin's heart in his chest cavity. With her left hand, she moved her finger tips down from Kenshin's clavicle to his left pectoral, just over where her right hand was. Doing this, she was able to locate the exact position of Kenshin's heart.

Megumi put her stethoscope into her ears.

"Alright, Ken-san. Take a deep breath in," she instructed. "Then let it out and hold."

Kenshin breathed in deeply, then exhaled. When he ceased, Megumi touched the stethoscope to his chest, checking his heart rate. Kenshin's skin rippled as the cold steel pressed lightly into it.

"In and out again, then hold," she instructed before moving the stethoscope to another part of his chest.

Megumi spent the next three minutes listening intently to his strong, steady heartbeat from different angles.

Megumi moved to the back of the table and placed her thumbs on Kenshin's lower rib cage, one inch away from and parallel to the spine with her fingers parallel to Kenshin's ribs.

"Deep breath in," she said softly.

As Kenshin breathed in deeply, Megumi noted how far apart her thumbs were separated by the expansion of his lungs. Tapping the middle finger of her right hand against the middle finger of her left hand as it rested against the spine, Megumi percussed to check for tenderness and muscle spasms.

"Fold your arms across your chest," Megumi instructed.


While Kenshin sat with his arms crossed over his chest, the doctor tapped her fingers around his upper back, sounding out the location of his lungs from behind. As she worked, Megumi's eyes took in the large and small scars that ran over the flesh of Kenshin's back. The horrific claw marks on his shoulders looked as though they had begun to heal improperly, but had been restitched by a doctor before too much damage had been done. It was a good thing they had been. Otherwise, Kenshin would face a great deal of discomfort in moving his shoulders.

"Breathe in and out through your mouth," she instructed.


While Kenshin breathed normally with his mouth open, Megumi listened to his lungs with the stethoscope, touching it to different parts of his back to listen to the top, then the middle and lower lung fields. The evenness of the air whooshing in and out meant that Kenshin's lungs were very healthy, completely free of any rattling or labor in his breathing.

The doctor placed her left hand flat against the lower right of Kenshin's back and pounded on the back of her hand with her right fist. She then repeated on the other side.

"Your lungs are healthy. Now lie down for me."

Megumi moved to Kenshin's legs, inspecting the skin, then feeling for size, length, shape and symmetry of the legs and joints. Though slender like the rest of him, Ken-san's legs hid powerful steel wire muscles under their pale flesh. Megumi felt the power rippling through these muscles as her hands glided slowly over the surface of each of Ken-san's legs.

To check rotation, Megumi bent each leg back at the pelvis, while watching his face for any sign of discomfort. Next, each leg was rotated to the left and right. Both legs were then bent at the knee and rotated to the left and right. While she stabilized Kenshin’s thigh with one hand, the lady doctor grasped the redhead’s ankle with the other, then swung the lower leg in both directions, checking rotation.


Megumi felt the tops of Kenshin's feet and rear tibial pulses, feeling each pulse in the right and left foot simultaneously. She noted pleasantly that Ken-san's feet flinched whenever she touched them lightly. Yet another ticklish spot!

To listen to Kenshin's abdominal sounds with her stethoscope, Megumi rested the diaphragm lightly on the right lower quadrant of the abdominal wall with a steady hand and listened for bowel sounds for 30 seconds.

After slipping a cushion under Kenshin's knees to relax his abdominal muscles, Megumi began the abdominal exam with light probing. The lady doctor placed the palm of her hand flat on Kenshin's abdomen. She pushed in gently and applied pressure by flexing her fingers in unison. Under her expert touch, Megumi could feel Ken-san's muscles trying to relax themselves, but failing to, under the touch of someone who was not his wife.

Megumi placed the palm of her right hand flat on the redhead's abdomen while placing her left hand on top of her right and began touching more deeply. She applied firm steady pressure by flexing her fingers in unison to feel for organs in Kenshin's abdominal cavity. As the doctor proceeded, she rolled her hand over the underlying organs.

Megumi slid her left hand across and behind her patient’s lowermost ribs on the right side. She then placed her other hand flat on the front abdominal wall, with her fingers pointing downward.

"Deep breath in," she instructed.

While Kenshin inhaled, she felt the margin of his liver for smoothness, firm sharp edge, and any tenderness. She repeated the maneuver across Kenshin's abdomen to trace the entire edge of the liver.

To feel for Kenshin's spleen, Megumi reached across his abdomen and placed her left hand flat against the redhead's left side, supporting his costal margin from underneath. Megumi pushed upwards toward Kenshin's spleen with the fingertips of her right hand.

"Take a deep breath."

Megumi felt for his spleen as it descended. Normally, the spleen was not palpable, but due to Ken-san's thinness, it was quite palpable. Megumi trapped the organ between her hands and gently felt it, moving it between the two sets of fingers.

"Now breathe out slowly."

As Ken-san breathed out slowly, Megumi gently released his spleen.

To ballot the kidneys Megumi placed the flat of her left hand under the right side of the rurouni’s back, supporting his spine. Next, she placed her right palm flat across Kenshin’s right lumbar region at the same level as her left hand.

"Deep breath."

While Kenshin breathed in deeply, Megumi pressed her two hands together firmly, trapping the kidney between them and feeling its size and shape, which seemed normal.

"And breathe out."

Megumi gradually released the kidney and felt it slide back into place.

The last area she felt was the lower right quadrant where Kenshin had been stabbed by Shishio Makoto and Yukishiro Enishi. Receiving two severe wounds in the same place within two months of each other could weaken the tissues and cause hemorrhaging from over-exertion. Megumi gently pressed in and felt around the old scars.

"Does this area hurt you at all, Ken-san?" she asked.

"It's a bit sensitive, but there's no pain," croaked Kenshin.

"This is a salve I recently mixed up. It softens scar tissue to allow for more freedom of movement and over time helps the scars to fade. May I rub some on you?" asked Megumi, holding up the jar for Kenshin's inspection.

"Thank you, Megumi-dono," answered Kenshin, remembering how well the Takani ointment had worked on his wounds after dealing with Aoshi and Shishio.


Megumi poured some onto her fingers and began rubbing it into the three old stab scars, taking her time and working it well into the puckered lines.

To Kenshin, the salve felt cool and provided a pleasant tingling sensations in his scar tissue. It already felt like the skin was beginning to soften a bit.

"How does it feel?" she asked quietly.

"Cool and tingly," answered Kenshin.

Spreading her hands out on Ken-san's lean abdomen, Megumi began a deep massage, moving clockwise around the area with slow, sensuous circles, spreading the salve over Kenshin's scarred flesh. As the massage continued, Megumi felt Ken-san's body shift under her ministrations.

"Uunnnhhh..." he moaned softly.

Megumi continued the massage over the next half hour, slowly gliding her hands lower, working the salve into every scar she came across. Kaoru got him 364 days of the year. This one day was her turn and she meant to enjoy it to the fullest.

"We're almost done, Ken-san. Just a couple exams left," said Megumi softly as she slipped on a pair of gloves.

Kenshin pried his eyelids open and nodded.


First, she felt the redhead's right and left femoral arteries, which lay just below the inguinal ligament. Using her finger tips, the lady doctor felt along the femoral artery and the inguinal canal on both sides, noting the size of the lymph nodes. Now she placed the fingertips of her left hand over the inguinal canal on the left side.

"Give me a good strong cough!"

As Kenshin coughed, Megumi felt for any signs of hernia in the inguinal canal.

"No signs of hernia," Megumi murmured as her fingers began to comb through the red nether hair, checking for any parasites or rashes on the sensitive skin.

Megumi pinched Kenshin's urethra, opening the narrow orifice and closely inspecting it. Grasping Kenshin's length with her right hand while holding the urethra open with her left, Megumi stroked from the base to the tip several times, gently milking to check for discharge. To finish, Megumi gently pressed the tip of her gloved index finger into the slit at the tip.

This caused the rurouni to cry out as his whole body convulsed.


'Ho ho ho! Is he enjoying this?!' she quickly realized. 'Well, there's one way to find out.'

Still reeling from that first shock, Kenshin lay still, breathing deeply, trying to keep himself from hardening even more under Megumi-dono's touch and failing miserably. He closed his eyes and groaned quietly as his body went against his wishes. Megumi-dono seemed not to notice this as she continued to stroke.

Very gently and slowly, Megumi's fingers stroked from the base to the head. The skin was pink and healthy, smooth to the touch. Megumi gently held the organ upright and examined the bottom, stroking gently from the tip back to the base. Her right hand slid slowly down Ken-san's swollen length before immediately sliding back up, over the smooth, satiny skin and again slipping her fingertip into the slit.

"Orooorooooo! Megumi-dono!"

"Shhh. Relax," soothed Megumi as she reached further back, gently cupping the pendulous sac that resided just behind Ken-san's yard.

'Let's see how he reacts if I do this...'

Megumi's left hand gently but firmly caressed the sac, rubbing it slowly between her fingers and thumbs, then gently but firmly squeezing.

Ken-san arched his back and cried out as clear liquid began to weep from him.


Gasping for breath, Kenshin looked up at Megumi, who smiled kindly down at him while giving another gentle squeeze.

"That's a good, healthy response, Ken-san. Now I'm going to examine you internally," said Megumi.

Megumi positioned her right index finger at Ken-san's rear entrance.

"Push down for me."

When she felt Ken-san's muscles relax, Megumi applied gentle pressure and slowly slipped her finger inside the rurouni, feeling her core heat up as his muscles spasmed and clamped around her invading digit as it entered the warm, narrow confines. After allowing Kenshin's ring to relax, Megumi began the examination by rotating her finger in a full circle to evaluate the muscle tone. She then moved slowly in deeper, continuing to rotate her finger all the way around, feeling Ken-san's inner walls as her finger continued slowly inward.

Megumi's probing digit felt along the front of the tunnel to locate that special spot. Moving her finger in a circular motion, she identified the lobes and groove that she had been feeling for. Megumi felt Kenshin's body flinch when she hit that special gland.


'Ah, so we like this, do we?' thought the Vixen impishly.

Megumi began stroking that area of Ken-san's walls with sure, deep strokes as she watched her patient's face to gauge his response. She realized she was not to be disappointed as she felt Kenshin's ring of muscle clench around her ensconced finger and his body go rigid. Megumi deepened the pressure and sped up the rhythm of the strokes. Kenshin's eyes took on a fevered look before rolling back in their sockets. His jaw clenched in agony, or perhaps ecstasy?

For his part, Kenshin was stiff and rapidly approaching his limit. He closed his eyes, trying to fight the feeling, but was just overwhelmed by the sensations and that heat which was building up from deep within him, radiating to his scalp and the tips of his toes.

As she continued her work on Ken-san, Megumi saw his sac begin to twitch and more liquid weep from his tip. Her patient was fast approaching the brink. The doctor deepened her touch and sped up the strokes.


She felt the tremors as her patient convulsed violently before a climactic release. The redhead's whole body was tense and rigid as his essence shot out in a geyser. Kenshin's back arched and his whole body convulsed, eyes rolling back in their sockets. Megumi smiled inwardly as she continued stroking that sensitive area. Being a doctor certainly had its perks!


Megumi saw that her favorite patient was too drained to continue.

"Very good, Ken-san. You are completely healthy! Push down for me now and I'll remove my finger," Megumi soothed, giving Ken-san's inner thigh a rub.

As a trembling Kenshin bore down, Megumi slowly withdrew her finger, careful to avoid causing her patient any painful muscle spasms. She disposed of the gloves and washed her hands to allow the exhausted rurouni to recover from that very intense examination.

'I'll have to tell Kaoru-chan about Ken-san's responses. I have never seen a man respond so readily. I'm sure she could put such information to good use,' the lady doctor thought.

"We're all done, Ken-san. You've been a wonderful patient. You can get dressed now," said Megumi with a smile.

The poor rurouni was too busy gasping for air to even be able to respond.

Megumi left the room so the redhead could recover and dress in privacy.

Kenshin lay on the table for 20 minutes after Megumi left, incapable of thought or movement. Finally, the purple haze around the periphery of his vision began to lift and thought began to slowly funnel back into his muddled mind. What a day this had been! He had started out innocently rice shopping and had somehow ended up undergoing the most thorough checkup anyone could imagine!

'Well, if it sets Kaoru's worries about my health to rest, it's worth it,' Kenshin thought to himself as he was finally able to summon the strength to sit up.

The trembling rurouni retreated behind the privacy screen and hastily dressed, eager to cover his body up and get back home. It was nothing against Megumi-dono; he just hated being touched intimately by anyone other than Kaoru.

After retrieving his rice, Kenshin went to the doorway where Megumi-dono was waiting for him. She held out a box and a folded note for him.

"The box is for you. It has the salve for your scars. Rub it in every night after your bath and you should notice a difference in two weeks. The envelope is for Kaoru's eyes only," she instructed firmly.

"Yes, ma'am," said Kenshin with small smile as he took the missive from Megumi.

"See you next year, Ken-san," said Megumi with a smile.

At these words, Kenshin groaned inwardly. His fate was sealed!

"Yes. Thank you, Megumi-dono," said Kenshin, returning the smile as he picked up the bucket.

Body still twitching and exhaustion threatening to break over him, Kenshin walked slowly back to the dojo. By the time he reached the gate, he felt like he was going to collapse.

"I'm home," he called out in a weak greeting to Kaoru as she came to the door.

"Welcome back, Kenshin," said Kaoru.

"Megumi-dono gave me this note to give to you," said Kenshin, handing Kaoru the paper and the bucket.

Kaoru took them from Kenshin, but then looked up and saw that her poor redhead was dead on his feet, gazing at her from dull eyes.

'What did that Vixen do to him?' she wondered.

"Before that, you look positively exhausted. Let's lie you down," said Kaoru, taking Kenshin by the hand and leading him to the bedroom.

Kenshin offered no protest.

Kaoru laid out the futon and got Kenshin out of his clothes so he could sleep more comfortably. She tucked Kenshin into the futon then knelt at his bedside, holding his hand long after his eyelids fell shut.

Presently, she remembered the note and opened it. Inside were instructions on how to work the salve into Kenshin's scars. Also mentioned were Kenshin's previously unknown erogenous zones and how best to stimulate them. Cheeks flushing scarlet, Kaoru quickly folded the note and put it in her kimono sleeve. She looked down at the sleeping redhead and brushed his bangs away from his brow. After he was feeling better, she might just have to try Megumi's ideas out on him!