In Innocence

A Rurouni Kenshin fan fiction by Hitokiri-san

A/N: Authoress squelched Disclaimer into a bloody pulp, while a band of terrorists with white wig threatened to break into the house if she wouldn't open the damned door. I think minna-sama got the message


He glanced around at the group of worried warriors kneeling beside the futon, dark eyes landing finally on a specific sapphire-eyed girl that the baka had cherished so much. He blinked; feeling almost sympathetic.

Almost.

The lot of them were depressed enough without one more person to go hysterics, the man decided. Pulling the mantle over his broad shoulders he stood up, and without another word slid open the shouji.

"Hiko-san, must you leave now?" the girl inquired quietly, seemingly afraid to wake the person beside her. As if any amount of shaking or shouting would bring him back to this world of the living.

"Yes." A terse, simple answer. "You need not worry too much. My baka deishi doesn't have a habit of dying so easily." With that he departed, white mantle fluttering ever so dramatically behind him.

Arrogance. The least he could do was keep his arrogance up. They need not share the doubt he was feeling now, those little friends of his baka deishi's who looked up to him with all-too-idealistic hope. They were innocent, yes, and to a certain degree even naïve.

Hiko alone knew the truth.

There was nothing called invincible. Invincibility appeared only in fairy tales, myths, legends...but not in living legends. Living legends have a habit of dying off the earth's surface and becoming real legends.

The baka wasn't helping, either. Since his return from Shishio's hideout with the wind knocked out of him, he had been lying there motionless for a whole six days, deprived of any signs of life. And Hiko couldn't do anything to help.

With that, the 13th master of the Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu had even more reasons to be doubtful.


Frowning slightly and making sure that not a soul was around to see the arrogant smirk wiped off his face, Hiko trudged down the stairs of the Aoiya. His handsome face was set in a pensive sort of way as he subconsciously traced his way back home, a jar of sake dangling off his left hand.

Had it been a mistake that he had taught the ougi to his baka deishi? Hiko remembered, for a fleeting second in his hut, that he had truly thought of denying his redheaded deishi the ougi. It was time that he stop minding things that were, essentially, none of his business. It was time that he stop putting the whole world onto his shoulders.

It was time for him to separate dreams from hard, solid reality.

Dreams were in constant conflict with reality. That was the way the world went...

Bump!

The swordsmaster stared, shocked, as a little girl clad in a red kimono ran headlong into him, tangling in the folds of his mantle. He bent down, picked up the confused child in one clean motion, and set her down beside another green-clad girl who was apparently her sister.

"Be careful, kid."

Once out of the tangles of the white fabric, the red-clad girl grinned up at him warmly; innocently.

"Gomen nasai, samurai-nii."

Samurai-nii? That was a new one. Hiko returned the smile half-heartedly, planning to continue on his silent reflections alone.

A soft tug at the edge of his mantle. Hiko swirled around, not quite in a mood to mess around with kids.

"What is it?"

The green-clad girl looked up at him with wide, trusting eyes. "Samurai- nii, have you seen Ken-nii?"

"Yup yup, he carries a sword around too, so you may know him," the other chirped up, confident in her own logic.

"I see. Why are you looking for him?" replied Hiko, expertly evading the question. He was starting to be interested in the two little girls now; with their apparent knowledge of Kenshin they might as well be his friends.

The older one tilted her head to one side. "Megumi nee-chan said Ken-nii is staying here to visit a friend of his. The fellow has a funny name," she declared, trying to remember the so-called "funny name".

"Shi, shi, O!" exclaimed the younger girl.

"Yatte, Shi, shi, O!"

Both girls broke into fits of childish giggles as though Shishio was nothing different from Jelly-O to them. Hiko wondered if Shishio was having a fit in his coffin right now.

Hiko sighed at their display of naiveté. Quite abruptly, he found himself understanding why his baka deishi had tried to retain the innocence of his company so much.

Naiveté. It was a wonderful sensation.

I will protect their happiness with these hands

I will create a world where the weak can live.

I will...

...protect their happiness.

He could hear his deishi's voice again, young and persistent as he always had been. Stubbornness had always been Kenshin's most annoying personal trait. Then again, maybe the boy had learnt it from him. They had both been obstinate idiots; impossible to persuade once they had made up their minds, and more so when it came to ideols. Who was he, to judge his student?

I really will.

"Ayame-chan, Suzume-chan! Where have the two of you been? You've made me worry." A woman with raven hair and beautiful black eyes appeared out of an alley, panting lightly. Noticing Hiko, she bobbed a little bow and took the girls' hands.

"Ja ne, samurai-nii!"

"Ja ne." Hiko found himself smiling upon the trio's retreating backs.

And a hint of a smirk appeared on his face as they disappeared off the corner.

"Well, baka deishi, maybe you didn't mess things up that bad after all."