Mmm...yeah. I had different author's notes before that were getting onmy nerves so I changed them. Anyway, this is my first Rurouni Kenshin fic and I am praying that I get the characterization right. It's so hard to start writing about a new series when you've been doing a different one for so long. Hope you enjoy and this is a DARK themed fic. Heh heh, yeah.

THIS IS A MAJOR BATTOUSAI FIC (eventually)

Summary: With the advancement of a dangerous corruption in the government, Kenshin is forced into reincarnating his alter ego in order to save the government he once killed for. However, corrupt citizens within the Meiji have another plan for Kenshin that could cause him his sanity and the lives of his loved ones. It's a story about love, honor, and loyalty, but more than anything it's a story about indomitable hate. Plus an either Kaoru/Kenshin coupling or Kaoru/Battousai. Which will it be? (if you really want to know you have to read)

Disclaimer: I do not own Rurouni Kenshin or any of its original ploys.

A Bittersweet Elegy

Prologue: Never Again

"Warnings unheeded often leave misery in their wake."

He twirled the receipt nervously between his fingers twitching the item from side to side in an anxious display of uncertainty. He hoped she liked it. There had been a point when he knew for sure she adored and cherished the gift, but now it was different. Now it was for real. This time he knew undoubtedly what the precious symbol meant. This time he intended it to have that meaning. This time he wondered if she would accept it. The shopkeep had told him to return for the item the next day so that he could have a chance to size it accurately and prepare it properly for the rurouni. Kenshin had agreed without another word only risking a stray glance back to the source of his newfound worry. He would wait for it, he wanted it to be perfect for her. She deserved it to be perfect.

He sighed as the short paper crinkled in his hand as he creased it and tucked it into the fold of his haori. What would he do if she denied him? The thought stung in his mind and he lifted an arm to stroke his fingers listlessly through the red mats of his hair. He'd already thought that far ahead. It wasn't a matter of what he would do, but a weight of his conscience about what he had to do. The seasoned swordsman sighed again as a shoulder pushed past him through the street pulling his hand from his hair with a slight tug. He just prayed it never came down to that.


Another night. Another letter. Another boding torrent of unease. He stared at the white parcel situated neatly on the top of his futon with a daunting gaze. This rose the number to fourteen. Fourteen requests, and, so far, thirteen denials soon to be fourteen if this new letter proved to be as tiring as the last. He speculated the note carefully noting the red, wax seal stamped with the Meiji symbol on the crease of the paper. It seemed like a simple letter from the government much like the many preceding ones he had acquired from Yamagata in the past year or so. But there was one easily overlooked detail that induced his suspicions...

Kaoru had never mentioned getting a visit from an officer or a delivery service person for nearly three weeks. Kaoru always informed him of such visits.

Always.

A muscle near his eye twitched as he continued to stare heatedly at the parcel before setting himself on the floor and extracting the menacing item from his sheets. The paper was thick and weighted in his hand as he examined it meticulously before finally breaking the seal and roaming the expanse of characters on the sheet. A deep frown creased his brow as he read.

Himura,

Your presence and assistance are vitally needed toward the government in order to insure the safety of the people and the Meiji era. We cordially request your presence at the noon meeting tomorrow at the Tokyo Capital Building. Gv. Yamagata will be there to escort you among the company of some of the most powerful politicians of the Meiji government. You have already been informed of our need for you. We highly advise you to attend this event. It's imperative, Himura.

There was no signature. It didn't need one. He knew already who it was from and what the aforementioned party wanted of him. The question was: would he give into their requests and revert back to being a chained and controlled dog held at a tight leash and snapping at anything his captor's fancy didn't catch. No. Never again.

He'd die first.

Swiftly, the paper was crumpled within his hands and moved over the reach of his candle's flame scorching and burning the mass until it sifted to ash and fluttered from the man's delicate hand to dance in the patterns of the wind entering the room.

Never again.

His crystal gaze watched the gray movement of ash fade to the floor as a new breeze pressed against his back from the same direction the first had travelled. Slowly, he regained his feet and padded to the door of his room and widened the exit before silently slipping out and making his way along the excess route of the house mindful to not make any noise incase he disturbed the sleep of one of his companions.

A sudden warmth hit his side to quarrel the chilly drift of the slumbering night causing him to turn toward its source. A candle was still lit within Kaoru's room, but the soft, even sound of her breathing met his keen ears through the crack in her door. He glanced about himself as though someone were watching before quietly entering the room and striding to the girl's unconscious side. Although she was not dressed in her loose sleeping attire, she still lay atop her futon curled into herself to shield her body from the incoming cold, one hand held across her neck and shoulder under her chin while the other splayed in front of her holding her writing devise absently between the pages of her disregarded journal.

Kenshin eyed the journal warily briefly lapsing from thought to thought about the abilities a woman's journal could have. Journals had the power to drive people insane when read unwarranted, especially those written by the hands of women. Then again, he'd never known Kaoru kept a journal. He snorted shortly at his own idle thoughts before moving forward once more to crouch beside her, flinching when the boards beneath him creaked ever so slightly with his added weight.

Reaching out one hand, he carefully moved the book away and slid her utensil simply from her small fingers. He heard her groan softly as she retracted her hand back into her body and released a slight quiver into her chin. A sullen smile met his lips as he watched her sleep, pulling her bedding's blanket up to her chin and tucking the sides slightly into her figure for warmth. Her quivering ceased almost instantly as she melted into the added weight, snuggling into its new comfort. He smiled again running a finger gently across the contour of her cheek to brush a cascade of ebony from her face and tuck it safely behind her ear. The ends of her mouth twitched slightly as the girl quietly sighed in her sleep. Quickly, Kenshin extinguished the candle and made his way silently out of the room and back onto his path toward the entrance of Kaoru's house.

Once he was alone in the street about a block from the Kamiya residence he stopped his trek and turned to the barren lane, a cautious glare situated calmly on his features as he fiddled his thumb on the lacings of his sword.

"What is it, Saitoh?" he said to the silence of the street glancing about for the first sign of his pursuer.

"Took you long enough," a deeper, sarcastic voice called nonchalantly to his left.

Kenshin instantly turned his gaze upon the dubbed officer, watching every move the man made from his position against the wall of the alley, a half-smoked cigarette clutched between two fingers as the older man took another drag of his addiction. The after smoke billowed from the man's mouth a moment later as Saito exhaled and grinned at the former hitokiri.

"What do you want, Saito?" Kenshin repeated not finding anything about the situation amusing even in the least.

The older man took another quick drag of his smoke before flicking the butt to the side and pushing himself away from the wall to stand upright. "It's not about what I want, not in the least."

Kenshin deepened his glare.

This caused a satisfied grin from his opposition, his golden eyes twinkling like hell in the dull illumination of the street lamps. "It's not really about what the government wants either. They have no power over it." He paused a moment and closed his eyes, crossing his uniformed arms across his chest almost defiantly. "You need to make a choice Battousai..."

"I told you to never call me that," Kenshin quickly retorted, becoming more unsettled by the minute.

Saito nodded sardonically. "Of course. I apologize, I almost forgot... but you should really become more acquainted with the name once more before the end of tomorrow. You'll be hearing it as your daily addressment."

Violet eyes averted themselves to the side settling to look at a decorated pole standing there instead. "I've already informed you all, you and the government, that I refuse to return no matter what the principle is they give me. I've given that life up."

Mibu's wolf released an interested grunt, opening his eyes to meet his fellow swordsman's once again. Amber met gray, a war of similar yet opposite forces.

"You do realize they're desperate to have you? Almost insane with this desperation you've caused them? You realize that, right?"

Kenshin made no move to speak, just continued watching the taller man through slowly slitting eyes.

"You realize that the Meiji are not strong enough to defend against this new up rise, don't you?" His voice remained eerily calm and detached as he continued. "They're utterly weak against the hoards of samurai and professionless fighters advancing on them wanting some kind of retribution. The government hardly even realizes that their opposition is really the corruption amongst themselves. You realize that they're practically condemned without your help?"

"I never said I wouldn't help them. I just refuse to act as they wish me to; I refuse." Himura Kenshin sighed deeply. "The revolt is organized, once the government finds its core, the entire organization can be brought down easily. They have no real use for me."

"But..."

"Never again, Saito." Kenshin bit out forcefully pressing his eyes shut for the moment. "Not for this cause." He lifted his gaze back to the wolf meeting the deadly man's carefully controlled stare.

"They'll condemn you. Just like you would them. You're fully aware I'm sure." Amber eyes flickered briefly watching the younger man closely.

But his eyes failed to hold those of his brief companion, failed to gauge whatever emotion may have lurked or dwelled deep in those luminate, emotional eyes being held stagnant for a moment's sake.

With a shrug, the tall man turned and began down the alley away from Kenshin briefly waving a hand behind him and calling back to the red haired rurouni, "Alright. Do as you will. Just remember that you can't win here. You won't be able to keep it all, Battousai... They won't let you."

And then he was gone in the hush of the alley's shadow away from sight and sound.

Kenshin continued to watch where he'd disappeared absently reminiscing vaguely about their conversation. Mindfully, he pressed a hand against his chest and felt the slight crinkling of his receipt. He thought about Saito's last words and he clutched the indention tighter. Somehow, he knew the other man was right. Somehow... it made him very nervous.


Next update:

Chapter 1: Never Say Never

(A/N) Heh heh, hope that was ok. The next chapter's pretty long so if you like the scenarios being built so far I'm sure you'll love having a first chapter that's around 4500 words. The others of you are probably like "Oh my god no". Anyway, please review. It's the only thing you can do to assure me that anyone is interested in my fic. PLEASE review. nearly cries

Slight teaser: Something very interesting happens to Kaoru in the next chapter that changes the entire group, particularly Kenshin. Is it good? or is it devastatingly bad? To find out, look for the next update!!