Disclaimer: Rurouni Kenshin is the creation of Nobuhiro Watsuki, with the manga and anime rights belonging to Jump Comics and Sony Entertainment, respectively. FF is non-profit, meant for entertainment only. FF can be archived anywhere, just let me know where. Please send no flames, I'm sensitive. For all other comments 0_o you may contact me at kaoru_koishii@yahoo.com

Chapter Fifteen

*************

Fire and snow drifted down on the streets. Kaoru and Misao ran around frantic in their search of other life. Their Inn had not been attacked but all the guards seemed to have taken to the streets when the explosions started.

The sound of gunfire could be heard in the far distance while another explosion shook the streets. Kaoru ran out of the house bringing the last of the six children out. Their mother lay helpless on the side of the street. She had yet to regain conscious.

"We have to keep moving Misao. It looks like the fires will take the whole street." Kaoru looked down the street as far as she could see. "We need to move somewhere safe." Kaoru looked down at Misao who was helping the elderly woman up.

"I think we should lead them to the docks, there's water there and I don't think there is much chance of the Mimawari-gumi setting fires there." Misao stated looking at the large group they'd gathered.

"Misao I don't think that's a good idea. Those women, the Black Ajah. Yoshimitsu says they're foreigners and not from the west. If I was them I know I wouldn't have come to Yokohama by train. I would have come to Yokohama by boat. They're there, I'm sure of it." Kaoru stated obstinately.

Misao nodded. "Where do we take them?"

"A clinic." Kaoru didn't wait around. She grabbed the smallest children and began walking into the city. They would be safe at a clinic. There was no reason to attack such a place. She walked down the streets carefully.

Misao trailed behind with several children while the others walked right behind her. She felt her small arms weighed down with the weight of the two children she was carrying. She was glad when saw Kaoru turn into a building. Looking up at the sign above confirmed her thoughts. A clinic. It was a big place; big enough to hold the eight families they'd come across. And there was still room for more.

Misao placed down the children carefully while Kaoru spoke with the doctor of the clinic. The doctor an older man maybe around Jiyas's age or so, stood about her height. Gray hair and small eyes. He looked like a kind fellow. She saw him nod his head and Kaoru bowed to him.

"He'll take them in Misao, come on." Kaoru said helping her to her feet. "We need to help as many as we can before the fire gets to them first."

*************

Aoshi took the blow of the blade on his left shoulder. He had pushed Shiro out of the way but he hadn't being able to keep himself from getting cut.

"My, my . . . are all you Ishin Shishi this tough?" A woman with a slight tan and dark reddish-brown hair asked him. Her hair was short with jagged ends that seemed to fit her face. She moved her swords in a series of cutting moves. Those moves had thrown him off guard in the begging but not anymore. He deflected the blows with ease. She didn't have a set pattern, which made her harder to read. He knocked her back with the back of his hand. He had never hesitated killing someone but she was a woman.

She wiped the trail of blood from her lip. "You are not the battoussai Mahisti talks so much about. Who are you?" She asked drawing back a distance.

"Keep searching." He commanded his men. His voice was deep and unemotional. She eyed the others with a frown before she leapt to stand in their way. "I'm afraid I can't let you leave."

"Move aside." He spoke to her.

A smile touched her lips. "Give me a name."

"Move aside." His ki rose and her smile widen in the next movement she cut Kuro on the shoulder. He stepped forward and she jumped back, too far from his reach. They had killed the group of men she had been with but she didn't much seem to care. She blew him a kiss from a rooftop before she disappeared.

"Let's go." And with that they were off again, searching for the Mimawari-gumi. They made there way south, the way they had come. The Mimawari-gumi must be somewhere in the residential area.

*************

Men ran to the left, to the right and back. Chaos had erupted with the first fire. How they got that close . . . . The army ran around the building, loading their guns. They had waited in the same spot since Yamagata had left, never thinking that the fight would cross all the way here. Their first line of men, twenty all together had gone down.

Masashiko third captain of the Mimawari-gumi stood at the gates of the state house. "Fire." The loud blast trailed his command. The explosion was followed by a crashing sound as a side of the house was leveled. He felt his blood sing in delight. He had always wanted to kill them. Every single one of those Ishin Shishi bastards. "Fire." He roared. The cannoned bellowed a deafening sound. He smiled when he saw more of the military crumple to the floor.

"Get back!" He yelled a bit too late. The explosion caught them in the middle and tossed them back several feet. He shook his head, swaying a bit as he got up. "Bastards." He growled. Some of his men had been able to avoid it but not all of them. "Come one! Load it again."

His men scrambled to loading the cannon again. "Get your guns ready! We're moving closer." He said to his men on the left.

Pointing to the men on his right. "You cover us. There's less than a hundred now. Let's go." He unsheathed his sword as he ran in.

The sound of his cannon discharged, wheezed over his head. Exploding in a fire this time when it hit the house. His boots stepped over the snow as he ran. Bullets began to rain on them but running made them hard targets to pin. The sound of the military cannon warned him to leap out of the way. They had changed targets. It didn't matter. He hadn't expected to live beyond this battle. He was here for revenge and revenge only. Even if he died here his two personal guards were already on their way to Kyoto. The statesmen where still going to die. With a sadistic smile on his lips he sprung back on his feet and charged, moving in zig zag formation until he reached those at the cannons. His sword cut everything it touched. The sense of a high ki made him look up. "What the hell?" Shinsegumi colors. He reloaded the cannon the army had been using and changed it's position. He aimed it and fired. The blast caught some of his men but mainly it caught the Shinsegumi. Not waiting around to gloat. He charged another one and fired again. Charged it and fired. Charged it and fired. He did it until the street in front of him was clear. Discharging one last time he ran through the house. He stopped in the middle of a big hall long enough to set fire to the bombs he'd brought. As soon as he was done he continued running blindly though the house. He wasn't sure where the back door was.

He ran out into the woods just as the house exploded behind him. This house had been a symbol of their government. It had stood for almost a decade but not anymore.

*************

Takanashi and Minami stared at the flames lighting the sky it seemed like a good portion on the city was already on fire. They were in the outskirts of town 'watching' for the Ishin Shishi reinforcements. Truth be told they were out here as punishment for having lost almost half their units.

"How could he know if we move?"

Minami looked at Takanashi for a long moment. "Kawamori-san has a way of knowing things, like when you lie." Minami responded.

"Come on. We still have men, we can go and help. If not will come right back." Takanashi was persistent if not anything else.

"I'm not going. You go if you want." Minami said pointing towards the city. "I won't snitch, just leave me out of it."

"Fine." He turned to round his people and then left. "We'll be back before dawn." He called over his shoulder.

"Baka." Minami said taking his seat again. All reinforcement for the Ishin Shishi had arrived days ago. He'd seen them. Takanashi was not only going to get himself killed he was going to get his men killed. Kawamori was not going to be happy. Maybe he should have stopped them from leaving.

A loud bang made him look towards the city. The sound of a cannon. Maybe. He shifted his eyes a bit to the right but the fires to the dock had yet to be set. If he went anywhere that's where he'd go.

Takanashi walked into a raging inferno. The flames that besieged the houses licked the air around him. Squinting and shielding his eyes he moved along the sides, avoiding the flames seemed almost impossible. Coming into an open street he paused. But then so did the others.

"Mimawari-gumi." The voice said in an accusatory tone.

"Shinsegumi." Takanashi said with venom in his tone.

The sound of swords unsheathing echoed in the night for a moment.

"Not dressed as a cop I see." Tanaka's cheerful voice caught his opponent.

"Neither are you." Takanashi responded.

Tanaka took a stance Takanashi was not too familiar with. He frowned in confusion. The kid was not going to fight with the Hirazuki.

Tanaka smiled. He ran and then blurred. Takanashi collapsed on the floor, lifelessly. Tanaka signaled the other Shinsegumi to attack. He turned his back on the fight, only faintly hearing the sounds of steel clashing against steel. "Where are you?" He asked the wind. "Where are you Saitou?"

He turned back to see he was minus two though now there weren't any more Mimawari-gumi. He turned his back and began to walk further into the city.

*************

Kaoru put the old woman to the side before she doubled over coughing. She had just made it out before the roof came down. Misao sat on the side of the street coughing her lungs out. She had stepped away from the house in front, unable to help anyone. She had been too late.

The snow seemed to melt before it even hit the ground. The flames seemed to have engulfed everything. "Come on Misao." Kaoru's voice was hoarse from coughing. The smoke had done a number on her.

Misao stood up and began down the street again. They walked around carefully. They had to or the people with them might accidentally be burned. Misao looked up at the sky. It was hard to tell what time it was. They had left the Inn some time after twilight. But that had been hours ago. So it should be about midnight.

"Stay here." Misao yelled at the people following them.

She ran in to the burning house right after Kaoru. A wall crashed in after them. The flames raged and burned. A moment later they reemerged with a woman their age and a child of about two.

Misao wiped the face of the baby. For the most part the baby seemed fine either way they would know soon. They had enough people and would be going back to the clinic.

Kaoru helped the woman down. Small burns covered the mother from where she had tried to escape the flames on her own.

"Thank you." The woman said hoarsely.

Kaoru patted her back and stood slowly. They had too many people now. She would have to make another stop at the clinic. She saw new flames engulfing another sector of the city. It looked like the docks. She turned back to her group. "Can you walk?" She asked the most recent rescued.

"Yes," the woman responded.

"All right, back to the clinic Misao."

The walk back was longer this time. Perhaps because they had twice as many people.

The doctor was ready when they arrived. The new people were led into another room in the clinic where they would be tended to.

"Are you covering your face with the wet cloth like I told you?" The doctor asked Kaoru.

Kaoru looked guilty. She didn't have to answer for the doctor to know she hadn't. The doctor shook his head as he walked away. When he came back he had two nice buckskin water bags and two dark scarves. "Here you take one each and use them." He told them.

"Thank you." Kaoru said to him. He was a kind man. The man looked flustered for a moment before he left. Mumbling something about 'age' and 'luck.'

"Let's wash a little before we go back out Misao." Kaoru said finally feeling the soot on her face. Misao nodded and followed her.

They were out in the heat of the night moments later. Walking down the streets eating a small sandwich which had been prepared for them. "I forgot we were about to eat when this started." Misao commented.

"Ah," was all Kaoru said in agreement before she tossed the last bite into her mouth.

"Do you think we'll find more people?" Misao asked cleaning her hands on the back of her onmitsu uniform.

"I really hope so." Kaoru said. They rounded a corner and stopped. Out in the open square was a woman laughing. Kaoru's eye narrowed, she matched the description.

The woman turned abruptly at the presence of the two newcomers. Both women were dressed in similar if not identical uniforms. Dressed in black the only thing visible was their face. They could have been sisters. They shared similar characteristics. Jet black hair and even from here she could tell those eye were blue. "What do we have here?" She said jumping down from the fountain she'd been standing on. The floor was littered with policemen as well as men dressed in a similar fashion to herself. "Aren't you pretty?" She sneered as she got closer to them. She pulled out her sword and swung at them. Kaoru had just enough time to deflect the blow with her escrima sticks. She'd pulled them out of the side-pockets in her pants. She had similar ones in the dojo but these had a steel plate around the middle, better for fighting against an opponent with a blade.

Kaoru deflected the blow with her right stick and hit the woman with her left.

Mahisti drew back surprised. She held her side for a moment. Her breastplate had absorbed most of the blow. "Impressive." She said swinging her blade around like sling. "Now lets see how you do when I stop playing around." She moved her hands in cutting moves, adding more power to each blow. Kaoru was able to deflect them all but missed the punch to her lower lip. Mahisti stood over Kaoru. "If you had been born in my country we would have recruited you." She said. She raised her sword and dropped it a second later.

Misao stood crouched with two kunai still left in her hand.

Mahisti looked at Misao then at the blades. She pulled a kunai out of her hands and two more out of her ribs. She pulled another swords from her back and positioned herself. Misao threw two more kunai, which Mahisti deflected.

Kaoru had used the distraction to roll away. She stood again and took a defensive stand. Mahisti gave a cry and charged. Kaoru was pushed back with each blow she took. They stood in the middle of the square under the light of the moon. Kaoru kicked out and Mahisti dropped to one knee. Kaoru took the opportunity and kneed her right under the chin, knocking the woman back several feet.

Mahisti shook her head and got up again. She'd been lucky enough to have been knocked near her first blade. She picked it up and swung both of them in a synchronized movement. "I think I will like killing you."

"Kaoru!"

Two shouts.

From two different directions.

Kaoru turned her head to the right. While Misao turned to the left. Mahisti took the time to advance on Kaoru bringing down her blade with fury.

A sense of shock ran through her body as she was knocked back. Her body registered pain all over. "Kazuki." She looked up to see a curtain of red strands.

"Kenshin." She said surprised but he was already off her.

Mahisiti had drawn back and was holding her left side. Kazuki stood in front of her, his blade dripping blood. Kaoru stood up slowly. She placed a hand on Kenshin's shoulder trying to steady herself but her legs gave out. He'd had his back to her when he felt her going limp. He'd turned and caught her in his arms. "Koishii." He was furious with her but his concern always beat out his anger.

Kazuki and Mahisti stopped moving and turned to look at them.

The battoussai cradled her head against his chest. Her face tilted slightly upwards, looked up at him. "Are you all right?" He asked as he looked down at her. "I think so." She responded. At least she hoped so. He'd knocked them back too fast and with too much force. Usually he might have turned so that he would take most of the weight but he hadn't this time. A momentary lapse in judgment due to his anger.

"That's your wife?" Mahisti said looking at them with envy in her eyes.

Kaoru turned her face to look at Mahisti. "Yes, I'm his wife." Her body might feel weak but her voice was strong. This is the woman who'd openly flirted with Kenshin. She pushed away from Kenshin standing on her feet.

Kazuki looked at them. "Kaoru?" What was there to say? He had hoped, even though he knew better. He'd only just met her but already she had moved him. "I thought . . ."

Kenshin glared daggers at Kazuki feeling an overwhelming sense on jealousy. 'I was with someone.' Isn't that what she'd said when he'd asked where she was the day before? His hand tightened on her waist. Kaoru wouldn't do that to him. She wouldn't.

A dart flew across the square aimed for Kaoru's neck. Easily deflected by the battoussai's katana. Kazuki moved as soon as he realized what Mahisti had done. His blade cut into her, digging through the side of her breastplate and embedding itself in her heart.

"NO!" Kaoru screamed for him to stop. But his movements had been too quick. Mahisti's body hit the ground. "No." She cried out. "You didn't have to kill her." Kaoru shook her head. Tears already threatening to shed.

"She would have killed you given the chance." Kazuki turned to looked at her. She had to understand. "She would have."

"Kazuki!"

Kawamori stood about a hundred feet away. His eyes locked on the enemy, the battoussai. Kawamori took his blade out. The Ishin Shishi had taken so much from him already. He couldn't . . . . No he wouldn't let them have Kazuki as well.

Kazuki heard his name. Knew who called him. "Kaoru." He wouldn't be able to see her after this. Even if they won and the battoussai died. She wasn't for him but that didn't keep him from wanting her. "Goodbye Kaoru." He turned and began walking away.

Kenshin moved and Kaoru gripped him hard. "No Kenshin."

"He's from the Mimawari-gumi." He pushed her to the side but she refused to let him go. "Please don't." He pushed her again, this time succeeding. She slid to the floor and began to cry. The image of her sobbing on a dirt road came back to him. It was too much like before. He steeled his heart and left.

Kaoru cried softly on the side of the street. She hated war. Hated what it did to people. The battoussai's sense of right and wrong. His sense of justice. It was right and it was wrong. Her shoulders shook with her small cries.

"Kaoru." Misao said hugging her tightly. She tilted her chin making her look at her. "He ran the opposite way."

Kaoru had a blank expression on her face. "He?" Comprehension was almost there though.

"He ran the opposite way." Misao repeated.

Kaoru let a shuddery breath leave her. Kenshin had gone against himself, for her. Always for her. New tears sprung to her eyes. He loved her so much. It would take her two life times to show him how much she loved him.

"Kaoru?"

Kaoru looked up at Misao. "I'm all right. I'm sorry I worried you." She gave Misao a weak smile. "Come on. One more trip. We should try to get home before dawn."

Misao nodded and helped her up. They walked quietly into the city, searching for others to help.

*************

The battoussai ran through the streets. He needed to put her out of his mind. He needed to be like he was before. He had to be that way to get through this job. This last job. After this there would be no more.

He ran faster pushing down the conflicting emotions and focused on the damage done to the city. This is what the Mimawari-gumi had done. Revenge is what had driven them to this, to hurting innocent people. He felt anger taking over. He had to stop them. To protect those who could not protect themselves. The Mimawari-gumi would be stopped.

Masashiko stood at the docks waiting with the remainder of his group. He looked at his pocket watch then at the moon. It was colder here. Even though they were close to the water. Probably because they were away from the flames. The sound of blades unsheathing made Masashiko turn away from the water to look back at the city.

The battoussai skid to a stop in front of them. He took one breath cleansing himself of all thought and all feeling. "I will deliver Tenchuu." And he did. Masashiko watched the numbers on his side dwindle to nothing. Then it was just him.

"The Mimawari-gumi will rise again one-day battoussai." Masashiko said as he drew his blade out. "You cannot erase what has happened." Masashiko took his stance. "This will inspire someone one day . . . ."

His words were cut off.

" . . . . They will bring down the Ishin Shishi." His words trailed off as the blade struck through his throat. What he once was faded into darkness.

The battoussai slashed the air angrily. And headed back into town. There couldn't be many more left. He'd kept a rough estimate as to how many men had fallen and by all numbers there should only be about twelve to twenty-two left. At most.

*************

A shadow fell into the camp. Minami looked up and stood right away. He knew they shouldn't have lit a fire.

He looked around anxiously, there were only twenty-nine men with him. That wasn't enough to kill this man but it was enough to hold him off. "Run!" He ordered, then ran. The camp broke into a crowd of frenzied men running in every direction. Minami ran into the woods. He could hear the shouting of some of his men. The sound of steel on steel. He should have stayed and fought. It's what he had been trained to do. It's what he had been raised to do. But fear kept him from turning back. So he ran. He felt a prickling sensation in the back of his eyes. He took a sharp left and ran back into the city. He couldn't run off with out Kawamori. He ran and ran, feeling Mibu's wolf on his heel. He ran as fast as he could turning corners and jumping walls, he headed for the docks.

He made it, tripping over a body as he tried to stop. They were part of Masashiko's unit. He looked at the rest of the bodies. Masashiko. He knelt down beside the body. It was cool to the touch. Not warm and not stiffly cold. It had been moments, perhaps an hour. He glanced down the dock, the Black Ajah were still here. Maybe they would help.

Scuffling sounds made him look left. Moments later the scuffle became footsteps. They were running. He drew his katana and waited.

Kawamori and Kazuki turned a sharp corner. "Minami." Kawamori was surprised to see him. He was supposed to be in the outskirts of town. That could only mean his men were dead. "Run." Kawamori yelled at Minami.

A shot was fired, hitting Kawamori on the shoulder and knocking him over with the force. Kazuki knelt down to help him up. Shots were fired again and again.

Minami dropped to one knee, his katana shaking in his hands. It took all his effort to remain in that position holding his blade. "Go." His words were faint. "Go." He yelled. The clicking of guns meant they were done reloading.

Kazuki knew what Minami was doing, he didn't waste anytime getting Kawamori to his feet and urging him to run.

"I wanted to save you Kawamori-san. Like my father. I wanted to save you." Shots fired, piercing flesh.

"Minami." Kawamori spoke his name with loss. Kazuki urged him to run. They ran fast almost blurring in their speed. Three men with katanas stood in their way further down the street. Kazuki unsheathed his sword cutting them down were they stood. They pushed through; they were so close to the boat. The police reemerged on their left shooting without warning. Kawamori's body shook. "Go Kazuki." He held his blade in his hand. He was a master swordsman; he could kill them all. "Go."

"No, I won't leave you." Kazuki felt the chill of winter's night envelope him. The clicking of guns made Kazuki stand.

"I order you to run." Kawamori stood on his feet. His michiyuki was stained with blood in several spots. But he remained upright. He remained strong.

"I won't. You're like my father. I won't run and leave you." Kazuki felt like a child again, angry with Kami for taking his father when he was so young. He'd barely been able to speak then but he'd understood.

This man, Kawamori, was his father. He'd raised him, trained him, and loved him. No, he would rather die then to leave him. He ran at the police. Rage and grief blinded him. Fires were shot but they were heard only in the far distance.

Kazuki landed on one knee, hand and katana out stretched. He turned quickly, maybe too quickly. Kawamori dropped to one knee before he dropped to the floor. Kazuki ran to him, picked up the body before he took flight. He felt numb. This wasn't supposed to happen. Not this way. This wasn't supposed to happen.

Kazuki reached the small boat, ordering the men to take them away. The small boat set course for the larger one. It would take them to China. It had been a backup plan Kawamori had never mentioned. Not until they'd begun running from the armed men. This wasn't supposed to happen.

*************

Fires burned intensely while the flames threatened to do away with the entire city. The sky was dark with thick frightening clouds. A harsh wind howled through the city. The snow began to fall faster than it had been, covering the floor where the fire was too weak to melt it.

He crouched with his hand on the hilt. He kept killing them but there was always more. The women stood off to the side, watching. They had not interfered since the attack had begun.

With a deep breath he ran. He picked up momentum slashing furiously. His madness hid a deeper pattern. A pattern engraved into his skill. His sword cut upwards and downwards. He turned in a circle cutting through blades, bones and flesh. His blade swung upward, slicing through a man's neck. His blade swung down cutting through a shoulder. His breathing was erratic. So many, there had been so many. He sliced the air splattering blood on the ground.

A cry reached his ears; he spun around to look at where the women had stood. There in the mist of all the bodies. Saitou.

His eerie blue eyes had looked at them with something close to hate. They had ordered all those men to attack. They had wanted to test him at the cost of their men. They were ruthless but he wouldn't have killed them. They were women. His eyes turned a shade of burnished gold at the sight.

"Battoussai." A smirk touched his lips. "It's time we finished this."

"Saitou." The battoussai growled.

Saitou jumped down into the clearing where battoussai stood. "I mean to kill you this time." Saitou said.

"Come." Battoussai gestured towards himself. "Try if you can."

Saitou smiled in anticipation. "Finally, no more of that non-killing bullshit. I've been waiting years for this."

"I don't have time to fuck around. Are you going to attack?" Battoussai's eyes glowed with anger his ki rising the longer he looked at him.

Saitou got into the stance for the Gotatsu. "I'll send you to your grave, battoussai." He matched the battoussai's ki. He held the hilt of his sword with his left hand and the tip of the sword in his right hand between his index and thumb. He leapt towards the battoussai with great speed. His thrust was strong but the battoussai jumped out of the way in time. Saitou compensated by performing a horizontal slash, which missed the battoussai again. He gritted his teeth in agitation.

"You think you can kill me?" The battoussai's voice was deep and dark. Saitou struck out again and this time their swords clashed.

The battoussai drew back and leapt over landing behind Saitou who was already on the move. Saitou lashed out cutting the battoussai along the middle. The battoussai stepped back only enough to perform the Ryu Tsui Sen followed by the Sho Sen. He didn't give Saitou enough time to break free. The battoussai attacked with the Ryu Kan Sen, Kogarshi followed by the Tsumuji and finally the Arasahi sent Saitou through a wall.

Saitou stood from the ruble. As dizzy as he was, it would not deter him. He felt blood oozing down his front trickling down to the floor. Anger rose deep within, the battoussai had only taken one hit. While he was already bleeding. He spit out some blood; his ribs might be broken. He charged with the Gotatsu, this time he held the blade higher almost over his head. The battoussai's blade stopped the tip head on. Saitou drew back. He had underestimated the battoussai. This was not the rurouni. Not the rurouni. He allowed the battoussai to get close enough to attack but rather the getting close the battoussai drew back further.

"Do Ryu Sen."

The battoussai's battle cry gave away his attack. Saitou leapt up avoiding the debris that exploded all around him.

The battoussai leapt into the air and struck out nine consecutive times hitting all the vital points. Saitou hadn't had enough time to dodge the attack or to defend against it. "Kuzu Ryu Sen." Saitou identified the attack. It was taking everything he had to stand. It had never been like this before. He had never been beaten so badly. The battoussai had always taken the beating before it was considered a draw. Saitou centered all thoughts on one point. Slashing the battoussai's neck.

The air whipped around them. Swirling with their ki. They each gave a battle cry and ran at each other. Saitou's sword struck through flesh as it ran through the battoussai's shoulder. The battoussai struck his blade under Saitou's arm through the ribs. His blade stuck out of Saitou's side.

Saitou tried twisting his blade and the battoussai tried pulling his katana out through Saitou's stomach rather then pulling it back out through the opening it had made going in.

They each gritted their teeth. Pain was nothing if they could kill the other. In one lighting fast movement both had their swords back in their hands. They now stood about ten feet apart.

The battoussai felt hate obscure his heart before the feeling drifted away. Nothing else existed. Nothing but Saitou and himself. He jumped, leaping high into the air.

Saitou grinned in satisfaction he knew this move all to well, The Ryu Tsui Sen. He leapt into the air, ready to counter the attack with the Gotatsu, third stance. His anti-air gotatsu.

The battoussai began to descend from the sky, after a moment he began to spin. He used the battou jutsu with the force of the spin. The groundless air spinning battou jutsu.

Saitou took the blow across the back and was tossed to the floor with great speed. He landed on the floor, unmoving. The hitokiri battoussai landed in a crouched position. It was over. There was no draw this time. He'd proven to be the better of the two. There was no reason for Saitou to come after him.

He rose to his full height and walked away. He was surprised to see Shinomori at the end of the street. He hadn't sensed him.

"I think he'll leave you alone for a while." Aoshi said as they began to walk.

"I was hopping he'd just leave me the hell alone." Battoussai responded. He didn't know exactly why, but he'd let Saitou live. "The Mimawari-gumi?"

"We got them all." Aoshi responded. "The black Ajah too."

The battoussai nodded to no one in particular. That was everyone. All they had to do now was wait for the numbers. Confirmation was always best before walking away.

*************

"It's all right." he spoke soothingly to the older man. "Don't move you'll be fine."

The older man had trouble swallowing his mouth was dry. Kazuki noticed right away. He helped Kawamori up to a sitting position and gave him some water to drink.

"Where are we?" Kawamori asked after a moment.

"We're on our way to China." Kazuki answered. Kawamori yawned as he nodded. His lids were already drooping close. "I will keep you safe, I promise." Kawamori's words were slurred as he drifted into sleep.

Kazuki felt tears roll down his cheeks. He blinked in surprise. He hadn't cried since he was a child. He'd been so close to loosing the one man who'd been a father to him. The control on his emotions had slipped. He looked at the older man for a long moment. What would they do now? There was no hope of reviving the Mimawari-gumi and if they tried, it would take them years. Time and money.

He would do what he was asked though. He owned him that much.

"Nozomi, Don't cry." Kawamori turned in his sleep mumbling words as he rested his cheek on the futon. "Safe . . . . give him a good life . . . . no more fights . . . . promise . . . I do. "

Kazuki stared at Kawamori for a while. He was probably delirious. He couldn't be talking to his sister. She'd been dead for more than a decade.

Still if Kawamori kept his promise to his sister, even if it was just a dream, Kazuki felt he'd be able to live without looking over his shoulder. He stood to look out the small window. It would be hard. They would both be facing a whole new way of life. They would need to find purpose. A whole new purpose.

He was sure it was morning even if the sky was still dark. Dark blue, like her eyes. 'Kaoru,' he thought. But that was something he would have to learn to forget as well. He felt his muscle protesting as he moved back to Kawamori's side. He should sleep. He'd been shot at as well though not as bad as Kawamori. He leaned against a wall, yawing as he propped himself up against the cold wood. It would be too much to hope to wake up to how things were, back when he was still a child. He closed his eyes. Too much to hope for his father spending time with him without trying to insert a lesson.

*************

Kaoru paused in front of the window. She had been up all night pacing the floor. Where was he? He had said he was going to be home by the usual time. She squeezed her palms together. Deciding she needed the company she went back down stairs, she'd wait with Misao.

She made her way across the hall to wait in the chair by the fire. Misao had fallen asleep on the chair across from her. She felt tense. They had seen so much. Too much.

Doors opened letting the frosty air into the room.

Kaoru's head snapped towards the doors. Misao woke up startled. "Whah . . . What hap . . ." Misao rubbed the sleep out of her eyes, were they home? She noticed Kaoru was already half way across the room.

"Kenshin." Kaoru squealed as she leapt into his arms, squeezing him tightly. She was so happy she began to cry softly into his neck. "I was so afraid." Her voice was a whisper; hoarse from all the smoke she'd inhaled. She felt his arms encircle her waist. "I love you so much. I love you so much." She repeated into his ear. His arms tightened around her waist.

Misao had run right behind Kaoru but had stopped short of throwing herself at Aoshi. "I was worried." She said as she stood in front of him. He nodded his head. "I . . . I . . ." Her words trailed of and tears sprung to her eyes. "You're hurt." Her voiced wavered. Her hands shook when she touched the deep gash under his arm and the one alongside his neck. She turned her head to the other Oniwa-banshuu. "You were supposed to protect him, you swore to me you would."

Aoshi gripped her shoulder. "I'm fine." He turned her face upward to look at him when she didn't do it on her own. "It's only a scratch."

Misao opened the long trench coat. Blood made it stick to his arm. "This is not just a scratch." She accused reaching for his good arm. She grabbed his hand and began pulling him along. Aoshi allowed the small woman to pull him. He was tired and odds where so was she. She had waited for him. She would always wait for him as surely as the sun would rise at dawn and settle at dusk. He knew that now. She truly cared for him, despite what he'd done. He knew it was time to let go. Just let it go. He would cease her waiting, her longing. He squeezed her hand lightly smiling when she turned to look at him. Misao tripped on the step unable to believe what she'd seen. He'd smiled. He'd done it before from time to time. Always when they were alone but those smiles had never reached his eyes, not like this one. "Aoshi-sama."

He smiled down at her. She still called him that sometimes. Mostly when she forgot. "Misao." His injured arm raised and his hand caressed her cheek. He watched her swallow anxiously. He leaned down and her eyes widened. He kissed her nose and her eyes closed. A smirk played on his lips before he kissed her slowly. He drew back a moment later aware that everyone was watching. Well almost everyone. Himura and his woman were the only ones not paying attention. Misao opened her eyes, showing him all the love she felt. It touched him, making his heart constrict painfully. After all he had done. "Misao." The name alone was and endearment to him. She smiled at him and began pulling him along again.

"Shsh, Koishii. It's all right." He murmured softly into her hair. "I'm all right." He pulled back to look at her face. Tears slid down the corner of her eyes rolling down the side of her cheeks. He swallowed the lump in his throat.

"I'm so glad." She said faintly.

She pulled back and watched horror cross his features. She looked down and noticed the crimson stains on her robe. Her fingers shook as she touched them. It was wet. She looked at him with the same horror in her eyes but she saw he looked relieved.

"It's mine." He said. "?It's mine," for a second . . . . For a second he had thought it was hers.

"Ken - shin?"

He smiled at her weakly.

"You're hurt." Her voice was pained. She touched his shoulder and he winced when she got too close to the cut. "Kenshin-baka." She cried pulling away and running off.

He couldn't believe she'd run away from him. "Koishii wait." He overcame his shock and ran after her.

He ran upstairs to their room but she wasn't there. He stepped back outside to see her pulling an old man along. "Hurry Sato-sensei."

Kenshin stepped back into their room as she pushed the old man through. He was aware the old man was a doctor from her having called him sensei but he'd never seen him before.

"Sit." She snapped. "Not you Sato-sensei." She said pulling him up.

Kenshin sat in the middle of the room, next to their futon while his injuries were treated. His eyes focused on her face as they treated the many cuts. He'd been fine until he'd met up with Saitou. He was the one, who caused the most damage. 'Who's the pathetic one now, Saitou?' He thought grimly. 'I'm the last one standing.'

He was surprised to see the doctor standing. He must have zoned out.

"Twice a day will do. You know where to find me." With that the doctor bowed and left. Kaoru had bowed in return and walked out into the hall with him.

When she came back she was clean, free of the blood and wearing a clean yukata. Kaoru stepped into the room closing the door quietly. She came in with a wash cloth, a bowl and a pitcher of water. "Kenshin," she said as she made her way over to him.

She dropped on her knees in front of him and began cleaning his chest. The warm water was soothing. And she was careful to avoid pressing too hard around the deep cuts. "You broke your promise to me."

He looked at her questionably for a second. In the next moment she had taken his katana and tossed it to the side. Was he that slow today? Had he really been that affected by the blood loss?

"You let them hurt you."

He couldn't think of an excuse. He had forgotten.

"Kenshin-baka, you'll be punished when we get home." She said as she pushed him onto the futon. She placed her things to the side and rose to close to the window. She blew the light in the lamp and made her way back to him.

"Punished?" He said as she pushed back onto the futon again. That was just absurd. He was a man. The hitokiri battoussai. People were afraid of him. The name alone frightened them.

"Yes, once you're better." She said laying down beside him. She covered them with a thick blanket. "I will think of a good punishment." She said as she curved herself around his body, providing him body heat.

"Punishment?" He repeated in the darkened room.

**************

Kaoru splashed her face with water, she felt queasy again. They had stayed in Yokohama a whole other month. Aoshi's birthday had come and gone. And they were still here. She'd written to Yahiko and Tae at least six times each. She wanted to go home. It'd be different if they were all together, then she wouldn't have to worry but they weren't. 'Kenshin-baka,' she thought as she dried her face.

"Why the sour face?"

She turned to look at him. "Finally, I've been waiting for an hour. There are some things I want to buy?" She said getting to her feet.

He nodded as he helped her up. He hated shopping with her. Men always stared and he was helpless against his anger. Still he'd never let her go alone. If he could, he'd go by himself.

They walked down the street side by side. The weather was chilly but not freezing. People had begun to reconstruct. It would take them a while but they'd do it. They'd move on. They walked down the familiar streets to her favorite bookstore. Tetsuya's, it was a warm little store. She walked in greeting Kaede. Kaede waved and moved from around the desk she usually sat at. She handed Kaoru a brown paper package. "I just got this in."

Kaoru opened the package. "Dark Times: Blood Bonds," she read. A small smile touched her lips. She knew what it meant. Kazuki was alive. She opened the book three quarters of the way, where a note lay.

I found another copy here. So I sent you this one. I hope you like it.

Kaoru turned the paper but there was nothing else written on it.

He stood in front of her, shielding her from their eyes. His hair, red as blood, blew in the breeze. They had tried to hurt her and for that they would die a most gruesome death.

Her large sapphire eyes were opened wide in fright. She clutched the silk cloak she wore. He'd come out of nowhere. Demon. That's what they called him. Not because it was his name but because of how he fought.

"For daring to touch her, death is the price." He moved beyond her sight. She crouched down, closing her eyes and covering her ears. Her mid-night colored hair served to block the sight. She would never get used to his ruthlessness. His sense of justice.

Kaoru closed the book. The book trembled in her hand. This . . . She didn't know how to describe it but . . . .

Kenshin had read over her shoulder. The passage described them. "Koishii."

"Kaede, how much do I owe you?" Kaoru asked cutting him off.

Kaeded waved her off, "It's yours."

Kaoru nodded and left with Kenshin close behind. They walked in silence for a good while until he spoke. "Do you think I'm a demon?"

She turned abruptly. "No." Her answer was firm, strong in her belief. Her voice softened. "No Kenshin-baka." She smiled at him before they began to walk again. He felt his step a little lighter and his mood a little brighter after hearing her answer. The air carried the sweet aroma of meats and spice. Fried noodles and other delicious foods. Kenshin smelled the sweet aroma as they neared a restaurant. They had skipped lunch so they could go out shopping.

Kaoru gagged at the smell. She leaned against the wall to support herself as she heaved her breakfast onto the street.

"Kaoru." He said alarmed. She was sick and he didn't even know. He had spent too much time worrying about the outcome of Yokohama when he should have been paying attention to her. He held her by the arm until she was done. As soon as she was he pulled her away from the wall and began walking. She seemed too slow in her movements, swaying in her step. He picked her up and carried her the rest of the way to the Inn.

"Doctor. Koji." Kenshin ordered as he made his way across the hall. He heard running footsteps followed by the slamming of a door as he made his way up the stairs.

"I feel fine. It was just the smell of the food. Kenshin I'm fine." She had been repeating that as soon as the dizziness had left her but he refused to listen. He eased her onto the floor, sitting her in the middle of the room while he laid out the futon. Once it was set he tried to lift her onto to it but she slapped his hands away.

"I can get on." She said agitated.

She sat on it and waited. After a long time she watched him move towards the door. He opened it to reveal Koji with his hand up, ready to knock. He quickly moved aside and let the doctor in.

"Sato-sensei." Kaoru exclaimed surprised.

"Kaoru." He greeted. "I hear you're sick." The doctor responded as he began looking her over.

"Himura."

Kenshin turned to Yamagata. "I need a word with you, please."

Kenshin left reluctantly closing the door on his way out.

*************

Kenshin made his way back to the room, stopping long enough to talk to the doctor as he came down the hall. "Is she all right?"

The doctor smiled brightly and nodded, "She needs to rest and to eat a little. She'll be just fine. If you'll excuse me I promised I'd fetch her someone to bring her food." With that Sato moved around him and left.

Kenshin frowned and continued to their room. He opened the door to see her sitting on the futon, staring out the window. Her gaze was unfocused.

"Kaoru."

She turned to look at him. She held a sad smile. A nock on the door made him turn from her. He took a tray of food from a young girl, closed the door and walked over to her. He brought it close and nausea seemed to come back as soon as he brought it close. He stepped away from her and placed the food by the door. "What's wrong?" He asked.

She turned around to look at him. "Lay with me." She said stretching her hand to him.

He didn't like where this was going. The only other time she had done this was after she'd had a bad nightmare. This time he came to her without questions and without hesitation. She wrapped him in her arms and held him as soon as he'd been close enough. She was making him nervous.

She withdrew from him slowly. "What's wrong?" He asked, scanning her face. She sat a bit more comfortably and patted her lap. "You are ill. Is it serious?" He questioned. He was aware he was repeating himself but concern filled every corner of his soul. Worry flashed across the twin pools of blue.

So without another question he did what she asked. He placed his head in her lap. She smiled sadly at him before she undid the tie in his hair and began to comb it with her fingers. Kami, it can't be that serious. She can't be so sick. His face became a mask as he fought through the panic.

Her hand trembled as it moved through the strands. "I found something out today." She wasn't looking at him. "I'm afraid of how you will take this. I hope . . . ." She frowned for a moment. "I hope you see it as something good."

He wouldn't be able stand it she told him she was dying. His breath caught when she looked down at him. "I'm with child." His mouth parted in astonishment. Standing up and drawing away before he realized what he was doing. "What?" He asked her.

She bowed her head and looked down onto her folded hands in her lap. "I had hoped . . . ."

He stared at her in surprise.

". . . because you liked children when you were the rurouni . . . . I thought you might want . . ."

He crushed her in a hug. Squeezing the breath out of her. "I'm, speechless that's all. I didn't expect it." He tilted her face to see she'd started crying. "Kaoru-baka." He chided. "I thought . . . you were dying." He laughed and it sounded odd to her ears. "Kami I couldn't be any happier." For all the death I've caused, he thought. He just couldn't believe it. "I never imagined, I didn't think." He squeezed her again. "Kami." He held her face in his hands. "I love you more than life and I will love the baby just as much."

Her lip trembled. "I thought you didn't want the baby." She said brokenly while he kissed her face. He pulled away slightly. "Why wouldn't I want our child?" He asked her.

She shook her head unable to answer. She was so confused.

His eyes took on a faraway look. "I hope it's a girl. She'll look like you. We'll go shopping before we leave for Tokyo. She'll need clothes and toys." She caught him off when she made him face her. She held his face in her hands. Smiling for all the world. "What makes you think it's a girl?" She asked him.

He looked stunned.

Sometimes, he acted out of character. She had always expected for the battoussai to be ruthless, nothing but a cold-blooded killer. He fought for his believes in an aggressive manner and changing his mind seemed almost impossible. He was very stubborn, not to mentioned temperamental. Sometimes though she saw traits of the rurouni. What he was. Well what he'd be, his personality hadn't developed that far yet.

*************

We're on our way home. Kenshin is still a little odd. He doesn't have his memory back but he'll behave. He's promised. I have a lot to tell you. I can't wait to see you all.

- Kaoru

Tae, placed the note back into her kimono. Today was the day. She began placing the treats onto small trays so they'd be ready by the time they got home.

"A carriage is coming." Yahiko said as he crossed through the kitchen and out into the yard. He opened the gate in time to see a blur of red.

"Yahiko!" Kaoru yelled. She squeezed him until he almost collapsed. "I missed you. I missed all of you." She drew away from him and began walking into the house.

Kenshin stood behind hiding a small smile. The boy was still on the floor. "Yahiko." He called to the boy.

Yahiko was able to move his head enough to look at him.

"Help me carry these inside." Kenshin had stayed long enough to address the boy before he moved into the house. His arms full of packages.

Yahiko picked himself off the floor. Hiding a small grin. He loaded his arms with packages and made his way inside.

" . . . missed this place so much." Kaoru said grinning. Her voice grew fainter as he made his way to her room with the packages. "One more trip." Kenshin said as he passed him by in the hall. Yahiko hurried his pace, placing the packages on the floor and running back out to the carriage to help Kenshin.

"Kenshin and Aoshi were amazing. Though to hear all the glorious details of Aoshi in battle it's better to hear it from her." Kaoru said laughing. "I have something to tell you guys and I should wait till Kenshin is here but I just can't wait." She said excitedly. "We got married." Large gasps followed her statement. Kaoru couldn't wait for them to get over the shock though. "We're also having a baby."

Tae fainting on the floor made her rise from her seat. "Tae! Tae!"

Tae was slow to come around. "I can't believe it. Ken-san and a baby." Her words grew loud, as she became fully aware. "A baby." She said hugging Kaoru. They squealed while everyone else watched. They were all still speechless.

When Kaoru turned back they congratulated her. She smiled happily.

Yahiko was stunned but he hugged her just the same. "Congratulations." He said to her. He knew how much she cared for Kenshin. And if she was happy, well that was all that really mattered.

Yahiko noticed Kenshin walking through with more packages and ran out to finish helping.

Sano waited till Kenshin had gone into the room before he approached Kaoru. "Is he still the same?"

Kaoru turned her face towards him. "Kenshin is . . . ." How to put it into words. "Very protective of me and maybe a little easier to anger but other than that Kenshin is still Kenshin." She said smiling brightly.

Sano looked at her happy face. "Will he accept the rest of us?"

"Yes." Kaoru said firmly. They had all been friends before and she would make him be their friend again. He would just need a bit of coaxing.

Tae noticed Kenshin coming back into the room, followed by Yahiko.

"All right, everyone is here. Let's eat."

Kaoru ran to help Tae and Megumi. They brought things out pretty fast; soon they were all sitting, eating, drinking and laughing. Kenshin sat in his usual spot quietly as everyone around him enjoyed themselves. Kaoru's presence was strong next to him. She laughed with the others squeezing his hand from time to time. As a reminder and assurance. He was where he belonged. Here he would lead a whole new life. A peaceful life. A life his rurouni counterpart had created.

His gaze fell on his wife again. He realized, 'where life started and where life ended didn't really matter if he was able to spend the time in between with her. A dojo, an Inn, a hut or a palace. It didn't matter. Home was where ever she was. He had done all he could for Japan, to save the Meiji. He had done his duty. Now he would be able to live rather than just exist. His shadow would be engulfed by her light. Not destroying it or trying to alter it. Merely holding it, surrounding it. He smiled and she turned, sensing it. She smiled at him and drew closer, ebbing away his heavy thoughts.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Epilogue

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Five years later . . . .

"Ne, Kaoru?"

Kaoru turned to look at Yahiko. She knew he was nervous. "Yahiko, you will do fine. You have spent all these years training. I think you're ready." She pushed him into the hall. He would be teaching his first class today. She watched him make his way to the front of the class. He was walking stiffly. She shook her head in amusement before stepping back.

She walked back to the front of house, to the porch where Kenji watched his baby sister. "She sleeping?" Kaoru asked him.

Kenji, her first child was the spitting image of his father. His hair was long and shaggy, always held in a high ponytail. His deep purple eyes focused on his mother. His eyes were her weakness; he had learned that early on. He always got his way with his mom just like his sister always got her way with their dad. "Mama," He started as she sat down next to him. "My birthday is coming up."

Kaoru smiled knowingly.

"And I was thinking that since the circus is coming . . . ."

"You want us to take you there for your birthday." She said patting his head, running her fingers through the scarlet locks.

He nodded his head. His large eyes looking at her with so much hope. Kaoru blinked back a surge of emotions. "All right, we'll go then."

The five-year-old boy leapt to his feet and hugged her quickly before he ran off to play. She smiled at his tactics.

"Papa!" The little girl huffed in anger. Kenshin turned to look at her; she had inherited her mothers temper as well as the deep sapphire eyes. The little girl looked at him with a frown on her little face. He bent down and picked her up. Her anger melted away almost immediately. She threw her arms around his neck. "Papa I want to buy a present for Minoru and Hideki."

Kenshin frowned a bit as they walked down the street. It wasn't that he didn't like Aoshi's children. It was just . . . Aiko was too young to be looking at them. Those boys looked too much like Aoshi and Misao had fallen in love with him at an early age. He was glad they lived in Kyoto. Though Misao insisted they visit every summer and so Kaoru insisted they go. It was a bad cycle.

"Papa, you're not listening."

"Maa, maa." He said in a soothing gesture "Papa was just trying to remember what your mother wanted."

"Papa," She squealed pulling on his hair. "Will you buy me that?" She said pointing to a necklace. He walked closer to the stand and bought her the necklace. Her happy voice continued chattering in his ear as he walked around the market finding the items on his list.

He set her down for a moment. "Don't wonder off." He said as he took out the money to pay for the tofu.

She stood by him for a second before she wondered off. A little puppy wagged its tail as he passed her by. "So cute." She breathed as she followed it.

Kenshin turned to see her running after a dog. Not again. If she gets dirty, Kaoru's going to kill me. It won't matter that I'm the one who does the wash, he thought as he chased after her. He ran after her reaching for her shoulder, stopping her from running off.

"Battoussai." There was surprise in the voice.

Kenshin's eyes turned up quickly from his daughter to the man in front of him. Hand already on the hilt of his sword. His eyes turned a silvery purple. His ki rose making Cho step back.

Katana-gari, Cho stepped back, hands in the air with a large grin on his face. "Shit." He exclaimed. "I was just passing through, I didn't know you still lived here." He wanted to laugh at the situation but he was aware of what the battoussai could do when he put his non-killing philosophy to the side.

Kenshin's demons stirred for a moment. A thunderous expression crossed his features even as Cho disappeared into the crowd.

"Papa?" The meek voice snapped him back. She seemed on the verge of tears.

He smiled at her and picked her up with one arm, shifting all other things to his other arm. "Aiko." He said softly as they walked back home. "I've told you not to wonder off." He said sternly.

"I'm sorry papa." She said in a heartbreaking voice.

Kenshin sighed. She was too much like Kaoru. She was making him guilty when she was at fault. "Just promise papa you won't wonder off." He said looking at her seriously. She nodded her head enthusiastically; happy he wasn't mad at her. The four-year-old was a handful sometimes. He kissed her forehead and let her down as soon as they were inside the dojo walls.

"Mama!"

Kaoru's head popped out. She stepped out the whole way when she saw them. "Okarei." Kaoru called out. "Lunch is almost done." She said picking up Aiko.

"Jo-chan, this kid is killing me." Sano's voice rang from inside the dojo.

Kaoru half turned to go back inside. "Coming?" She asked him.

Kenshin smiled and nodded. He closed the door with one hand. And made his way into the house. Life had turned out well for him, better than he'd ever dreamed off.

- Owari

Well it's finally done. Yay. It took a long time. Longer than I thought. Sorry. Work was interfering. I think I made everything pretty obvious but just incase . . . . check out the small notes.

Small Note:

Yokohama burned. The army stationed there was reduced to nothing. Kaoru and Misao ran around trying to help people while Aoshi, Kenshin and the Kihei-Tai tried to find the Mimawari-gumi.

The Mimawari-gumi captains:

01. Kazuki, first captain and Kawamori's adoptive son. Only surviving captain. He escaped with Kawamori to China, where they were going to start a new life.

02. Minami, second captain. Killed by the police in Yokohama while shielding Kawamori with his body.

03. Masashiko, third captain. Killed by the hitokiri battoussai near the docks in Yokohama.

04. Takanashi, fourth captain. Killed by Tanaka in Yokohama. (Saitou's friend and fellow Shinsegumi member.)

05. Izubuchi, fifth captain. Killed by the hitokiri battoussai back in Kyoto.

The Black Ajah, completely destroyed by Yokohama forces. Mahisti, the one who encountered the battoussai in the beginning of chapter 14 was killed by Kazuki. All other captains were killed by Saitou.

Kenshin Vs Saitou

The battoussai won out over Mibu's wolf. He didn't hold back like he often did when they fought. He was not afraid to kill Saitou but in the end he let him live.

Aoshi and Misao started there relationship in Yokohama. Towards the end we skip five years, where we find out that they still live in Kyoto and that they have two children. Two boys, Minoru and Hideki.

Kenshin and Kaoru had two more children after Kenji. Aiko and Akane both girls.

Kenshin never got his memory back, you should remember she wished for his skill and not his whole memory in chapter 12. While he may not have had all the memories of the struggles he suffered as the rurouni, he did settle back into the role after a couple of years. He became peaceful, using his sword only to protect. He does Kaoru's bidding and loves every moment of it. He values his family above all else and is happy with how things turned out. Though his anger remains a touchy point he doesn't give into it. As you saw with Cho. He just let him walk away when he saw the man meant no harm.

That covers everything that happened. But if you still have questions drop me a line. Thank you all for reading. Please remember to review. With any luck, I'll see you all in the next fic.