~*Multi-Chapter Fic*~

Rurouni Kenshin Fanfic


Rurouni Kenshin & Samurai X Original Japanese Version ©N. Watsuki/Shueisha * Fuji-TV * SME Visual Works Inc. * Sony Pictures Entertainment

All Fanfics created by Chiruken (me) were written for the sole purpose of shared entertainment and not intended for publication or sale.


New Paths, Old Roads and Unlikely Allies

Fanfic By: Chiruken



It has been a long and difficult journey, that it has. Traps and pitfalls along the way detained me, nearly destroyed me, but I continued because to do otherwise was unthinkable. However, even more perilous than the physical dangers was my own wavering heart. I nearly failed, almost gave up, on the road to finding myself. If not for my friends and their faith in me, I would not have succeeded. If not for one special young woman, I would have been lost. It is odd how fate can suddenly take a turn along the path of destiny, that it is---and I am glad it did.

I can look back now on all those wasted years, the years I spent searching in futility for something I never lost, and I know I was a misguided fool. To wander aimlessly around Japan, never staying in one place more than a day or two, constantly in fear of reverting into the killer I had been, was only a waste of time. The answer to my dilemma, the knowledge of how to seal Hitokiri Battousai away forever, was always with me; only grief, guilt and self-doubt blinded me. It took facing my own death to discover that truth---and to see my own worth.

I have now reached a new crossroad in my life, that I have. One direction is the path of rurouni, a long, lonely journey, distant and apart from all around me. The other way is to give up all I have known for twelve years and plunge into the unknown. I must decide soon which path to follow, but I am still unresolved. I don't like change, that I do not. It leaves me off balance and uncertain. I sometimes wonder if my feelings of insecurity at the thought of change is abnormal and a direct result of my actions during the revolution or if everyone at some point in their life feels this way.

The truth is, I rather enjoy being the silly rurouni. At first, it was a way for me to escape the reality of my true self. Who ever heard of an assassin who enjoys washing the laundry or babysitting young children? It was difficult at first being a pacifist rurouni, but after eleven years, it had become second nature. I almost forgot what it felt like to feel the rage of the hitokiri. I liked that, that I did. I could pretend I was nothing more than a rurouni, silly, a little clumsy, and not very bright. Well, maybe acting slow-witted isn't as rewarding as I once hoped, but everyone has a role to play and that's the one I chose for myself.

However, as fun as being a silly rurouni had been, it was lonely, that it was. Until I met Kamiya Kaoru, I had no one I could call friend---and no family. She changed all that, opened my eyes to all that was missing in my life and made me realize how utterly empty I felt inside. Being with her made me realize how much I yearned for a home, a family---a chance to simply belong.

I don't want to be alone anymore, that I do not. Here, at the Kamiya Dojo, are people who care about me, not my skills with a katana, and, more importantly, who I care about. These are people who I want to laugh with, cry with and simply just be with---they make me feel complete. Above all else, including this Meiji government I helped to bring into power, I want to protect my new family, but to do that I can't be a rurouni anymore. I have to change, because there is no such thing as a settled rurouni.

The road I must now take is clear and I think I've known this day would come from the very beginning when Kaoru first asked me to stay and I agreed to. Perhaps I've known from our first meeting early one foggy morning on a secluded street when she challenged me with nothing more than a bokken for a weapon. After all, who in their right mind would leave such a reckless girl alone to fend for herself? My conscience wouldn't let me walk away.

Can I do it? Can I change again? Can I find the courage to take that first, all-important step down a new path? This uncertainty is becoming annoying. It isn't as if I'm particularly indecisive, but now that I know what must be done, I don't know where to begin. I can't just announce I'm no longer a rurouni and will wander no more---though admittedly it would make everyone happy, especially Kaoru. If it were that simple it would already be done. No, it will take more than words to recast myself into a new role.

"Hey!" I blink and slowly return to the present. "Hey, Kenshin!" I jump and smile apologetically as Sanosuke shouts next to my ear.

"Sorry, sorry---what were you saying, Sano?"

He rolls his eyes and sighs loudly, clearly exasperated with me. "I said, how long are you gonna wash that same yukata? Jou-chan'll be pissed if you scrub a hole into her favorite clothes, you know."

"Oro?" I look down into the washtub and note with chagrin that the water has grown cold and the suds have gone flat.

"Somethin' on your mind?" I wince inwardly at the sarcasm in his tone.

"Something like that." I keep my own tone mild, hiding my annoyance at his intrusion. Proper introspection doesn't go very will when Sanosuke is around. He is a wonderful friend, if not very bright, but tact certainly isn't a part of his psychological make up.

"Must be somethin' serious for you to zone out like that." He adopts a thoughtful expression that looks rather ridiculous on him before continuing. "It wouldn't have somethin' to do with Jou-chan, would it?" I can only describe the look in his eyes as wickedly amused.

I level a carefully blank look at him and shrug. "Not exactly." I choose not to elaborate further. Let him think what he will, but he isn't getting more information from me.

"I've been noticin' somethin' lately." He pauses and looks at me meaningfully.

I'm almost afraid to ask, but he seems to be waiting for me to comment before continuing. I sigh in resignation. Fine. I'll play along for now. "Oh? Such as?"

He grins down at me almost triumphantly. "You've been really secretive lately, like you're hidin' somethin'. So, I've been thinkin' about what it could be." Oh, Kami-sama help us all. Sanosuke has been thinking. I keep my sarcastic and nasty thoughts to myself. "The way I see it, it has to be one of two things. Either you're thinkin' about takin' off and wanderin' again and don't know how to tell Jou-chan or---" He places his hands behind his head and looks towards the doujou. "You've been tryin' to figure out how to tell her how you feel about her."

I falter in the act of hanging the laundry and look at him in surprise. There are times, such as now, that I really begin to wonder just how slow he really is or if it's all an act cleverly executed to keep everyone confused. I don't know how to respond to his odd reasoning. A part of me calmly agrees with his assessment while another part hotly denies it all. I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Instead I retreat behind the familiar rurouni mask and blink at him uncertainly. "Oro?" I purposely inject a warbled note into my usual exclamation of surprise. In a situation such as this, it's best to feign innocence with a generous dose of ignorance.

He smirks at me in a way reminiscent of Saito's infuriating superior attitude and I find myself gritting my teeth in an effort not to snap at him in irritation. "Well, it is pretty obvious, Kenshin. So? Which is it, huh?"

I turn back to my laundry and silently count to ten before replying. "I don't know what you mean, Sano, that I do not." It's a tremendous effort to not just tell him to go to hell and mind his own business. His questions are making me feel very uncomfortable and more than a little irritable.

Sanosuke pushes through my barrier of laundry and grins at me, brown eyes glinting with barely suppressed mirth. "Are you blushin', Kenshin?"

My patience has finally reached its limits. I glare at him furiously. "No, Sanosuke. I am not blushing. What you are seeing is more along the lines of an angry reaction to your prying questions. I don't want to discuss it right now."

I instantly regret my harsh words when he steps back, hurt replacing the earlier amusement in his eyes. "Sorry for askin'. I just thought that it might be easier to figure things out if you had someone to talk to." He shoves his hands into his pockets and hunches his shoulders. "Well, I can tell when my company isn't wanted. I'll just go around to the clinic and see Megumi. She might like my company unlike a certain rurouni I know." With that parting shot, he turns on his heel and stalks to the front gate, kicking a few stones on the way.

Well, that went well, didn't it? The perfect start to a perfect day---perfectly awful, that is. I wonder whom else I can alienate today. I turn back to my laundry dejectedly. I definitely owe Sanosuke an apology.

"What's wrong with Sanosuke?" I peek around a yukata at Yahiko's question. "I just saw him comin' out the gate and he sure looked pissed about somethin'."

I swallow an automatic rebuke about the coarse language he's using. Boys will be boys, though I can't remember myself being quite so foul-mouthed when I was Yahiko's age. I clear my throat and admit a little guiltily. "I may have said something to offend him, Yahiko. I should go after him and apologize, that I should."

He shrugs and grins at me. "Naw---knowin' him, he had it comin'. He'll come around when he's had time to cool off. So---what's for breakfast?"

"Breakfast?" I look meaningfully at the position of the sun. "Isn't it a little late for breakfast, Yahiko?"

"Yeah, well, I sorta missed it, didn't I?" He looks at me imploringly. "Is there anythin' left?"

I smile indulgently and nod. "I saved some rice and fish for you, that I did."

"Great! Thanks Kenshin. You're the best!" With that, he dashes across the yard and into the kitchen. I shake my head with a laugh. The mere mention of food has the effects of putting him in a fine mood. I suppose there are certain similarities between Yahiko and myself at the age of eleven after all. Hiko always said that feeding me was like trying to fill a bottomless pit.

"You know, you shouldn't spoil him like that, Kenshin. Yahiko will never learn responsibility if you're always giving in to him." I wince at the censure in Kaoru's tone.

"But, Kaoru-dono, he's still a growing boy. He needs all the nourishment he can get, that he does."

"Missing one meal won't harm him. In fact, it would do him some good, I think. I can't always fight with him in the morning to get him up in time for breakfast. He has to learn that if he insists on staying up late it's his responsibility to make sure he gets up in time to have breakfast before we begin practice."

Why do I suddenly feel like I'm eleven years old again? I smile sheepishly at her and spread my hands in an apologetic gesture. "I'm sorry, Kaoru-dono, that I am."

She sighs in resignation and shakes her head with a soft smile. "You're too kind for your own good, Kenshin. People will take advantage of you if you're not careful." She looks towards the kitchen significantly. "Just like Yahiko does."

I grimace inwardly and silently add that everyone already does, including her. Instead, I smile cheerfully. "I don't mind, Kaoru-dono, that I do not." It isn't as if I derive any particular enjoyment out of being used, but I do like being useful. If that means I'm an underpaid servant in Kaoru's household, then that's what I do and I'm content with it. I look down with a slight frown. Underpaid? Wait a minute---I don't get paid at all! Oh well---I suppose anything is better than being a paid assassin.

"I've been thinking---" I wait with trepidation for her to continue. It seems to me that too many people have been overly thoughtful lately for my own good. "I think you need a day off, Kenshin."

"Oro?" That's the last thing I expected her to say. "A day---off?" I repeat uncertainly.

She nods with a grin, blue eyes alight with eagerness. "Yes. A day where you do absolutely nothing for anyone but yourself." I stare at her blankly and her enthusiastic smile slips a little. "You know, go fishing or for a walk or---" She pauses with a pensive frown. "Well, anything you want to do that you don't usually have enough time for."

I don't think it's a good idea to point out that one doesn't go fishing in the middle of winter unless absolutely necessary and certainly not for recreation. "Um---" I scratch my head, more than a little bewildered by this odd turn in the conversation. Wasn't she just giving me one of her lectures? She should still be scolding me, not changing the subject like this.

She looks at me with a slight frown of concern. "Isn't there anything you'd like to do?"

"Well---" Truthfully, I've never given much thought to it. I look up at the sky, hoping for inspiration. The sorry truth is I've never had the time to develop hobbies before now. "Maybe---I could fix the gate?" I ask it uncertainly. I'm alarmed to see her frown deepen to a scowl.

"That isn't what I had in mind, Kenshin. Think about it. There has to be something you enjoy doing other than work."

"Um---" I look down and shuffle my feet, thinking hard. After a moment, I nod. Yes---I'll take a walk, find a nice secluded spot, and finish my earlier thoughts that Sanosuke interrupted. I smile brightly at Kaoru. "I think perhaps a nice walk in the woods would be nice, Kaoru-dono---that is, if you're certain you don't need me for anything."

She shakes her head with a happy smile. "No, that's all right. I'm certain we'll manage just fine." She turns away and waves over her shoulder. "Have fun. See you later." I frown at her retreating back suspiciously. If I didn't know better, I'd almost swear this was a ploy to get me out of the doujou for the day for reasons other than a day of recreation for my own well-being. I push the thought aside. I'm being uncharitable and more than a little ungrateful, that I am.

**To Be Continued---**



Author's Notes:

1.This is something I started writing ages ago, but misplaced the binder it was stored in (yes, the whole thing is in handwritten form). It's one of my earlier attempts at first person present POV, so please go easy on me.

2.This fic is kind of an A/U and the characters WILL be OOC.

3.If it generates any kind of interest, I'll continue transferring this fic from its original format into a legible typed product.