hello dear reader, ready to brave my first kenshin fanfic? good so am i. i like my male leads to be a bit dark and definitely possessive so if that's not your cup of tea hit back now. i usually write sailor moon fics but i'm doing this one on request. this fic should get pretty steamy and i like them semi-dark and agnsty so watch out. enjoy and remember i love reviews..... i only write if people are reading.

Black Devotion
Violet Goddess
Chapter 1

The day was cloudy, the sky a solid slab of slate gray that threatened to pour rain down at any minute. The humidity that was swimming through the late summer air only made the smell of rotting flesh that much more pungent. Flies came swarmed above the battlefield, looking for the choicest kills to feed on. Making his way through the carnage with no more than a disgruntled curse at the loss of time weaving through all the dead was costing him, Battousai trudged onward. He had no pity for those that didn't have the skill to survive in battle and so felt no remorse when he kicked a hapless body out of his way.

It wasn't until he climbed over a low rise that he saw them. Three men were barring down on what looked like a small boy who was running towards Battousai as if the demons of hell were riding hard on his heels, which perhaps they were by the rough look to his pursuers. His curiosity piqued, Battousi watched the boy who seemed no more than ten or eleven scrambled across the muddy earth. He looked dirty and haggard, his face covered in blood and grim as he searched wildly about for escape from the two bullnecked pursuers.

Yahiko's breath was coming in broken gasps as he pushed himself ever faster, the two soldiers only a few steps behind him as he raced across the silent field, jumping bodies with graceless urgency. He knew he shouldn't have tried to loot the bodies laying so abundantly around him but it wouldn't harm anyone and the money he would have received selling the gear would have helped quite a bit. He was so intent on escape that it was only at the last moment that he looked up and saw the him. Yahiko stopped dead in his tracks and could only stare at the scene before him. With brilliant red hair that could only be described as billowing and amber eyes that seemed to stare straight through you he was a awe inspiring sight. Yahiko hadn't thought of the folly of simply standing there as if awaiting his captors until he felt a stinging grip latch onto his arm and hard ground as he was slammed into it.

Battousai didn't outwardly react to the boy now laying at his feet. Granted it wasn't something he was likely to see everyday but after all the things he'd seen over the years it was going to take a fair bit more to surprise him. He'd witnessed similar scenes countless time the boy was probably some thief and deserved whatever was dealt him and with that Battousai brushed the incident from his mind and made to walk around the group. A flicker of annoyance passed through at the calloused hand suddenly gripping his arm, stopping his departure.

"What are you doing here?" Battousai turned slowly more irritated at the man's steel grip than worried by it. He was brawny true with bulging muscles and a height that let him tower above most other men but Battousai felt no twinge of fear. Brawn was enough for some but in battle it was as often a hindrance as an advantage. He only stared down at the hand grasping him until the soldier haltingly removed it.

"I travel to my lord." The words were cold and clipped as he pointedly eyed the two men and the young boy still pinned mercilessly to the earth. "And you? What do you here?"

"We were after him." He nodded towards the squirming boy behind him in an absentminded fashion. "Caught him scavenging the bodies of some of our men." That declaration caught his attention full force. True stealing from a soldier or his camp was frowned upon and punished harshly, but to steal from the dead was sacrilege. It was a rare man who dared the punishment dealt from both gods and man. These two would kill the boy for the insult to their comrades.

"I assume you will take him back to your camp before you execute him?" The stranger's voice held no inflection, no tone of sympathy or compassion as he so casually spoke of Yahiko's death. Though he had known what might happen to him if he was caught Yahiko had pushed aside the grim thoughts and foreboding in hopes of what he might gain. Those fallen men had died with full battle gear on and if he had been able to take even one shield, one sword and sell it the money would have been enough to help Kaoru stave off hunger for just a little longer.

She had been taking care of him for over a year now, since their father death in a duel to defend their family honor of all things. Though he had killed the challenger he himself had succumbed to wounds only a few weeks later. Watching his once proud father shrivel away, to become a ghost of the proud man Yahiko had always known had been one of the hardiest things he had even done. He remembered taking his father's frail hand, his skin papery thin and listening as he told him to keep their family together and to protect Kaoru.

Kaoru at 19 had become the head of Kamiya family until Yahiko reached at least young adulthood. She had refused to sell their father's dojo after his death, it had been the one thing he had truly loved, the one thing that kept him going after their mother passed away in giving Yahiko life. But a girl of only nineteen was hard pressed to continue off her father's work, no matter how skilled she was in the art of the sword. Now as their money dwindled and work remained scarce Kaoru had only two choices, sell the dojo or marry and hope her husband would allow her to keep the ancient building. Neither truly appealed to her and Yahiko was loath to make her choose, to watch her spirit slowly die day by day.

"Well?" Yahiko was snapped back to the present at the impatient voice of the mysterious stranger. With the big brute of a man still laying practically on top of him, his movement was limited and Yahiko sighed in irritation as he tried in vain to move enough to see the two men as they moved, seeming to stalk each other.

"No. We're not going to wait that long, it's a half day's ride to camp and it will only slow us down to have some thief dragging in our wake." Battousai frowned at the man's words.

"Surely your lord will want to judge him. Punish him before others to carry the extent of his warning." Battousai knew that it was customary for soldiers to take an offender of such a crime to their lord so the consequences of that man's deed was known far and wide. Eyeing him speculatively Battousai noted the almost sheepish look that crossed his face.

"He stole from both sides. We don't want to risk Hoshi's men killing him before we do."

"Hoshi's men? He was sacking the bodies of Lord Hoshi's men?" Battousai's eyes narrowed on the boy then, taking in his shaggy black hair and unkept clothing. This boy had insulted his lord through pillaging of his soldiers, men who had pledged their lives to him. It was something Battousai could not over look.

"I will take the boy." Ice flowed through the air as Battousai moved towards the pair lying so haphazardly on the ground.

"I don't think so." Again a large hand reached out to stop him but before flesh connected with flesh Battousai had drawn his sword and held it skillfully at the man's throat.

"I will take the boy. He has insult my lord and will answer for it. You can stand aside or you can fall beside those that lay here, it matters little but he will come with me." Watching the fear that stole across the smoky blue eyes that peered at him from the glinting end of his sword did not sway him. He felt no anger or pity for this man, he was merely an obstacle in Battousai's way, an obstacle that would be removed if need be. He watched his opponent eye him, weighing his chance for success against the cold glint of steel at his neck. He wisely stepped aside.

"Get off him." He called back to the one holding the boy down. "He's mine now." The words rang ominously in the still morning air.

* * *

Kaoru stared at the setting sun as she had everyday for the past two weeks. She looked always to the west, where Yahiko had traveled to two weeks ago, in search of aid from a distant cousin. She had not wanted to let him go but he was their last hope and Kaoru dare not leave the dojo empty. Too many had expressed interest in the building, too many had asked for her hand simply to gain her father's land. She didn't doubt she would come back to find the place sacked and her belongings stolen and so she had let her young brother of only thirteen tread out alone in search of aid.

Always she looked to the west as she did now, in hopes that she would see his figure appear out of the fading light but for the past fourteen days he had not and Kaoru felt little hope that this day would be any different from the rest. Turning silently back towards her home she began to climb the steps refusing to turn back and look one last time for she knew she would stand until the very last glimpse of sunlight slipped below the horizon.

"Kaoru!" The voice was thin and weary but still it carried strongly on the warm breeze and she closed her eyes against the tears that welled up. Spinning around she scanned the horizon for his loved figure, staring at every rising shadow and shifting branch. There! Waving frantically Yahiko was running towards her, the meadow he crossed was filled with tall grass that seemed to swallow him up as it swayed softly.

"Yahiko!" Throwing down the basket of wash that she had held tightly against her body she ran towards her brother, her eyes tracking the small black head as it raced towards her. And then he was in her arms, his small body squeezed tightly against her and nothing had ever felt so sweet.

"I'm back Kaoru, I'm back." His voice was tearful though she could tell he was trying to hold it back. Yahiko, always trying to be strong like their father but in truth he was still just a boy. It was then he seemed to realize that he was clinging to her and it was not at all something a warrior should do and pulled back with a guilty expression on his face.

Whipping the tears away with the back of his hand Yahiko regarded his sister with solemn eyes. He saw the worry etched across her face, the confusion that he wasn't smiling and cheerful to be home. She understood his wary stance when she saw the dark figure that stood several feet behind him, nearly obscured by the grasses that flowed around him. Half his face was cast in shadow but slashing amber eyes stared directly at her, gleaming in the near darkness of twilight. His body stood relaxed but Kaoru could feel the slightly tension running through him, the feeling that he was ready for anything. Pulling her brother behind her protectively Kaoru eyed the stranger warily.

"Who are you?" She was surprised her voice came out so steady, happy only a little of the fear laced it.

"He saved me." Yahiko's voice was quiet, barely reaching her ears but it eased some of the worry from her.

"Then I thank you." Kaoru told the man as she bowed out of respect for the man that had saved her brother.

"Don't thank me yet." His voice was toneless, his body never moving. It created an eerie sight with the night approaching and this warrior standing before her, his expression inscrutable and his swords lying so casually against his side. He looked invincible standing there, so untouchable and Kaoru felt a shiver of foreboding snake through her.

"Why would I not thank you for saving my brother?" The laws of hospitality said that she must extend her roof to him, her home and her protection though she doubted highly he would need the last.

"Because he's taking me to his lord Kaoru." Yahiko's declaration stunned her into silence. He was taking Yahiko to his lord? Why? She doubted highly that he would trouble himself with traveling with a child for any light reason. Her hold on her brother tightened as her mind ran the gamut of reasons he would be called before any lord, let alone one who could hold the fealty of a man like this one, and none were good.

"Your lord?" She asked him, confusion and anxiety spreading through her.

"Lord Hoshi." Battusoai ignored her indrawn breath. It was a common reaction. Lord Hoshi was a man to be feared, his actions were methodical and merciless. That this slip of a girl was afraid of him was nothing surprising, and she was a mere girl. Wrapped in a dark green kimono, her dark black hair pulled back with a simple blue ribbon she looked like the epitome of a farmer's daughter, simple and innocent. Those were two things Battousi had never truly understood, two things that he had never experienced.

"Why are you taking him?" Her lips trembled as she spoke, Battousi found his eyes drawn to them. They were a delicate coral, no rouge to darken them, no thought to seduction or temptation. It had been a long time since he had come across a woman who's every thought, every action was not bent on capturing a man or his purse. True he took those women without conscience or regret but he never felt like they were women, real women. They were things, creatures to be used and forgotten, but this girl before him was different. It intrigued him in a way.

"He was pillaging the dead bodies of my lord's men." Yahiko grimaced at the sound of shock that came from Kaoru. She kept with the old ways, the ways of their father, that said that what he had done was one of the worst crimes a person could imagine.

"What will your lord's punishment be?" Kaoru knew the answer, it was always death. It was one of the few things that every ruler agreed on.

"Do not ask question that you know the answers to, it wastes my time." Battousi stifled his annoyance at the girl, he wanted to be gone from this place by the time the moon was at it's zenith and this was taking far too long.

"Then why did you bring him home? Surely you know I wont just let you leave with him." She pushed her brother farther behind her back, it was a fruitless effort but he saw no reason to tell her so.

"Surely you don't think you can stop me?" He mocked her; she knew that in truth she was powerless stop him but she would try until her last breath if she had to. "I brought him here because it is on my way to the north. He told me you could resupply us and I saw no reason to deny him when it benefitted me."

Kaoru could feel Yahiko start to shake and she knew she could not let this man take her brother. And then she realized the decision had been made from the moment she had seen her brother racing towards her. Stepping boldly forward, Kaoru stared into those sleek amber eyes and prayed for courage.

"I'll take his place." She saw those cold eyes widen slightly at her declaration and then narrow to slits.

"I think not." The words were menacing, ice flowing through the still evening air. Kaoru felt her resolve weaken but as she thought of her brother her spine straightened and she faced her challenge head on.

"I'm just claiming my right as head of this household. I can trade places with any of my family, assume their crime and their punishment."

Damn she was right! It galled him to admit she did have that right if what the boy had told him was true. The little brat hadn't shut up since Battousai had found him two days ago. He knew the kid's entire life story from the death of his father to his near awe of his sister. He'd felt a twinge of pity and even sympathy for the boy; he'd lost both his parents at a young age too, though to disease and not the sword. But though he'd felt a bit of emotion where the kid was concerned he'd pushed it aside. Emotion was something a warrior didn't need, it only hampered him on the battlefield.

So now he stood before a mere slip of a girl who was boldly offering to trade places with her brother, take a sentence she knew could mean her death. Damn, but he wished he'd just passed over this place, the small inconspicious village that was now causing him a world of problems. He would have if he'd had even an inkling that she would pull this. He knew of the custom of course but it was rarely used and never by women. But she was right, she was head of the family since they had no one else even though she was a woman. He could not deny her request without dishonoring her ancestors and his and bringing shame upon himself. He had ceased to care about many things in his life, he'd left honesty and love behind and at times even honor but for some reason standing here in a field of sweet grass, the wind cooling his heated skin and the sky a burst of brilliant colors he couldn't deny this woman.

"You realize the gravity of your actions?" His expression betrayed nothing, his voice was toneless as it swept around her. Oh she knew what this could mean, she knew what his acceptance of her demand could mean.

"Kaoru?" Yahiko's thin voice, shaking with tears caused her chest to tighten.

"Yes. I understand." Annoyance flashed across his face briefly, annoyance and something that looked oddly like admiration and then the mask fell expertly back into place.

"We leave in two hours." With that he turned and walked back through the meadow, his hair looking like flames leaping down his back and his swords caught the fading light with every step. Turning she caught Yahiko as he jumped into her arms, confusion and fear putting the boy into a near panic. Tears spilled silently down her cheeks as she hugged the small body to her.

"Oh and Kaoru," her head snapped up at the sound of her name, the timbre of his voice causing a shiver to slide down her spine. Where had he learned it? Had Yahiko told him? "Don't try to run. I'll only track you down. You're mine now and I keep what's mine."

His? What in the world did he mean? Kaoru suddenly felt uncertain about her decision. Just what exactly had she done?

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Review my darlings....tell me what you think.

Author's notes....all kenshin help was from kelly-dono...check you out. :)