Patchwork Family Chapter One – "A Hard-headed Woman"

Author: sayochama

Rating: PG13 (for Sano's potty mouth)

Disclaimer: Once upon a time, there was a poor college girl in the middle of finals who had a story inside her head. So she wrote it down. However, the characters she used did not belong to her, no matter how hard she wished that they were. Instead, the belonged to Watsuki Nobuhiro, Sony, and a bunch of other really big companies that would sue her out of house and doujinshi if they believed she was making a profit from this story. Which she most definitely is not. So please don't sue her. She loves her doujinshi dearly.

Setting: After Revenge, but slightly AU because Sano's still around. Characters are OOC. ^_^;

Thoughts are in italics.

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It was going to be one of those days. Kamiya Kaoru could feel it in her bones. Sanosuke had appeared at the Dojo earlier that morning to mooch some breakfast and had dragged Kenshin away afterwards saying something about a job. She hadn't wanted Kenshin to go, but he had smiled and told her that all he needed was his reputation. Yahiko had left shortly after morning classes to visit some of his police friends. Lonely, Kaoru had closed up the dojo and went to the Akebeko hoping to take her mind off things for a little while. Tae had immediately set her to work, sending her out to pick up some extra necessities from the market. "Everything would be fine," he had said. She made a rude noise in the back of her throat, causing her companion a start and a nervous glance up at her.

"Are you alright, Kaoru-san?"

A bit startled herself by the sudden interruption of her thoughts, Kaoru managed what she hoped was a reassuring smile. "I'm fine, Tsubame-chan. I just had something stuck in my throat." The last time Kenshin had said that, he had come home half-dead and bleeding everywhere…

"Oh… Well, do you need a drink of water or something? I know the vegetable seller up the street…" Tsubame looked faintly worried.

Kaoru shook her head. "No, no, I'm fine. Really. We should head back to the Akebeko to get these things to Tae-san before the lunch crowd gets too terrible." She tried her best "I'm-so-totally-NOT-worried-about-baka-Kenshin" smile. It seemed to work because Tsubame quit sneaking sidelong glances up at her, instead seeming to concentrate on her own daydreams. Kaoru smiled sincerely for the first time that day, thinking that those daydreams probably involved Tsubame and a certain bratty, loudmouth, "Tokyo samurai."

So it came to pass that neither Kaoru nor Tsubame was paying much attention to their surroundings and wandered into a rougher section of town that was a little farther from the Akabeko than they intended.

"Well, well, what do we have here? A couple of little girls away from their daddy…?"

Kaoru stiffened slightly at the rough voice and whirled around to face it. Behind the two girls was a group of five men, dirty and dressed in rags. They were all bigger than she was, and two had weapons of some sort. Each had a look on his face that clearly told her that what they intended was going to be painful for her.

Shit. I'm outnumbered. What did daddy always say…? "Bigger and stronger can be beaten with skill and deviousness." She glared at them. "Obviously you're just a group of cowards, if you want to challenge two unarmed women."

"Who're you callin' a coward, bitch?" This came from Goon #2.

"Why, everyone of course. Didn't I say 'group?'"

"Why you—" Goon #2 tried to rush her, but the leader threw an arm in the way stopping him.

"Brave words for such a little thing. Why don't you come have fun with us? I promise we won't hurt you." The leader smirked. "Much."

Kaoru let her mouth widen in a parody of a smile. Pitching her voice so that only Tsubame could hear, she whispered, "I'm going to create a distraction. As soon as they have their attention on me, run and get help." Tsubame made a strangled sound of agreement and began inching towards the wall. At least she had experience running in a kimono, Tsubame thought wildly.

Her eyes never leaving the men in front of her, Kaoru set down her groceries, though she still lightly held a long daikon radish, and redistributed her weight on her feet in case she had to move quickly. Damn kimono. It's always so hard to fight in this thing.

"I'm afraid I'm busy today. Perhaps you would let my friend and I go?" Gotta stay calm. Deviousness, remember Kaoru? Deviousness and skill.

"Not a chance, you cocky bitch."

"What a shame." And then she moved. She swung the daikon at the man closest to her, catching him in the nose and stunning him. "RUN TSUBAME-CHAN!" So she did.

++++++++++

Seta Soujirou stretched in the mid-morning sun outside of a small dango shop. He had just finished his brunch, and was looking forward to exploring Tokyo a little before moving on. Soujirou had spent the last year and handful of months working his way around Japan, heading west from Kyoto, then north along the Sea of Japan coast to Hokkaido, and finally south again along the eastern side of the island. He rarely stayed in one place for more than a day or two. The constant movement suited him. He still hadn't found all of his answers yet, but hadn't Himura-san spent ten years on the road? Wait... didn't Himura-san live in Tokyo?

Soujirou was so involved in following that thought that he never knew what hit him.

Tsubame, old experience at running in a kimono coming back to her with amazing speed, barreled into him knocking them both down in the process.

"Oh my god! I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to run into you like that. Are you okay?" Tsubame anxiously babbled as she tried to figure out if she hurt him or not.

Soujirou smiled pleasantly at the babbling little girl who was currently sitting on his chest. "I'm fine, though if you could please---"

"You have a sword! Oh thank goodness! You have to come help me!" She pointed in the direction she came from. "My friend, we were cornered by a group of ruffians, and she told me to run, and she's back there all by herself, and there were so many of them, and Kaoru-san was unarmed and everything, please you have to help her!" In the process of telling her story, Tsubame had gotten up and, with amazing strength for a little girl her size, pulled Soujirou up too, trying to get him to go help Kaoru.

As the information Soujirou's mind tried to process sunk in, he decided what he must do. He put a stilling hand on Tsubame's head and smiled at her, causing her to blush and quit speaking abruptly. "I'll go help your friend. You should go find the police."

"Oh thank you!" Soujirou nodded, and suddenly he was gone.

"Wow. He's just like Kenshin-san…" Then realizing that she was staring down the road at nothing, Tsubame turned away and ran to the nearest police box.

+++++++++

Definitely one of those days. Kaoru leaned against the wall and glared at her remaining assailants. Two down, three to go. Catalogue of injuries: a backhanded slap to my right cheek, my ribs hurt, my left shoulder hurts, and I'm pretty sure that I twisted my right ankle. Lovely. The daikon, broken and dirty, hung limply from her left hand.

"So, you gonna give up yet?" the leader smirked, casually leaning his club against his soldier. Inside he was a mass of burning anger and hatred. A little girl had practically beaten his entire gang, scoring hits on all of them.

Kaoru spat.

"Then you can die, you little bitch!" He brought the club up and was in mid-swing when Kaoru felt someone pick her up and move her out of the way. The club came crashing down on the spot where Kaoru had been standing, a very confused goon and henchmen crowding around the wall, as they realized nothing had connected.

Kaoru looked up at her savior as he set her down against a wall several feet away from the thugs. At first she had thought was Kenshin, but when she got a good look at him she realized that she had never seen this man before in her life. He's so fast though. As fast as Kenshin, I bet.

"You must be Kaoru-san." She nodded, and was rewarded with a warm smile. "Your little friend went to find the police. I'll take of this problem now, though, if you would be so kind as to wait a few moments." She stared at him. He talks almost as politely as Kenshin does. And here I thought chivalry was dead. "I'm sorry, is something wrong?" She shook her head. "Well, then, I'll go attend to the problem."

"Okay."

++++++++

When Tsubame came back accompanied by several police officers, several of which were students at the Dojo, they were greeted with the sight of all five thugs neatly tied up and lined against the wall. She looked frantically around for a few minutes before catching sight of Kaoru being attended to by the stranger she had met earlier. He has a nice smile.

++++++

"Wow, you sure beat them quickly."

Her savior laughed nervously and mumbled something about having a lot of experience.

"What's your name?"

He started a bit. "Seta Soujirou." Normally he didn't tell people his full name, but there was something about the girl that almost demanded that he confide everything in her. She was beautiful, even with half of her face beginning to turn an interesting shade of purple from the blow she got.

Her eyes widened a bit. It was a name she knew well from her time in Kyoto. From Kamatari's self-pity filled rants after the fight of the Aoiya finished, she had a good idea of his history and abilities. Soujirou the Tenken. Shishio Makoto's right hand man, possessor of super god speed and no conscience, but during the fight with Kenshin he broke down and released his emotions. Probably abused before that.

Soujirou stared down at the girl as she gave the little start of recognition. Maybe telling her wasn't such a good idea.

"Kamiya-sensei! What happened?" They both turned their heads to look at the group of policemen that had arrived. Soujirou decided that that would be a perfect moment to take his leave, but he felt her hand snake out and catch his arm. He turned to look back at her. How had she known?

Kaoru put on her best "I'm-the-shihandai-of-my-own-kendo-school-so-don't-argue" face and said softly, "Please wait." Soujirou relaxed marginally. Her grip on his arm hadn't lessened. "I'm Kamiya Kaoru. Do you have a place to stay tonight?" That startled him. He hastily tried to resurrect a smile.

"Uh… no… I just got into town, you see and.."

"Please come stay at my dojo tonight."

"What?" This girl was weird.

"Please come stay at my dojo tonight. It's the least I can do to properly thank you."

"Oh, no, I don't need any thanks. I'm just a wanderer. It was the least I could do to help you…"

Her eyes, an unusual shade of blue, darkened. "Please. Even if you don't want to accept my thanks, I'm sure Kenshin…"

"Kenshin? Himura Kenshin?" She nodded. And for what seemed like the thousandth time that day, he felt his smile slip to be replaced by a look of shock.

"Kenshin would want to thank you for looking after me."

"I can't possibly come with you and oh my goodness, YOU must be the Kaoru-dono he was talking about when we fought. You can't want me to come with you. Are you crazy? I tried to kill him. Several times in fact…" Soujirou knew he was babbling, but he couldn't seem to stop himself. Too much information had been thrown at him in too short an amount of time.

"That's okay. You're not that much different than our other friends in that respect."

"Your other friends tried to kill him too?" His tone suggested that this was beginning to be too much for him to process.

"Yeah. They come and visit us sometimes." Kaoru said it nonchalantly.

And Soujirou's brain couldn't handle the shock anymore. He passed out.

+++++++++

Author's Notes:

1. I normally don't like a lot of Japanese in fanfic as a reader, so I've tried to keep it to a minimum. A lot of times the Japanese is not quite correct, plus it slows people down if they aren't familiar with the language at all. So I've kept the suffixes (dono, chan, san, kun, and sama) , "baka," and a few words here and there if they fit better than an English word.

2. In my head, I find it entirely plausible that Kaoru could have figured out Soujirou's history from assorted comments she heard from Kamatari, Chou, Sanosuke, and Kenshin. Of course Kaoru would be interested in Soujirou, mostly because he would be one of the Juppon Gatana to try and kill and Kenshin, and I bet that she probably could have gotten the majority of the information from Kamatari's rants about how unfair his life was.

3. After watching the Soujirou/Kenshin fight again, I realized that Kenshin has basically no idea of the details about Soujirou's childhood. I find it amusing that Kaoru would, in this case, know more about something than he did.

4. Dialogue isn't my thing. Neither are fight scenes. If you feel the need to say something to me, please email me or review. I'd appreciate it.