Katsura looked at the boy walking beside him, he was glad Kenshin had agreed to come back and fight for the revolution, no matter the reason. As they walked away from the burning house he tried to think of a way to introduce this boy-man to the woman at the end of the road. "Who is she?" Kenshin asked, his voice devoid of emotions.
"Her name is Leena, she will be your new partner."
"I need no partner."
"And I don't need one either, but Katsura-sama says, we will work together. So work together we shall." Leena sniffed at the boy, he smelled of death and fresh blood. She asessed him carefully he was maybe seventeen, but his eyes were the cold eyes of a man much older that had seen and dealt death many times. From Katsura, she knew he had been the assaisn in the shadows for the Chosu syndicate for two years until the trouble in Kyoto had sent him to this remote area to hide six months previously. From Hiko, she knew he had not completed his training, all that remained was the final technique. Through narrowed green eyes she watched him study her as well. She smothered the growl growing in her throat, allowing the examination.
"Is she to be my new sheath?" Kenshin studied the woman before him. She had an aura of such power he'd never encountered. She vibrated with an almost animal ferocity.
Her hand went to the hilt of her sword. "Feh. I am no one's sheath little boy. If not for Katsura-sama, I'd feed you your own...." They began circling each other, hands on hilts ready to attack.
"Silence." Both stopped circling the other and looked to their employer. "Kenshin, I said she was to be your partner. She will guard your back. Leena, you will not insult him. You have given your vow all ready" he reminded her.
Two heads nodded, one with silver hair and one with red. And their voices in unison "Hai, Katsura-sama."
With their master between them they walked on away from Otsu. After a short distance Katsura gave an exasperated sigh then his voice broke the silence. "Leena, you may stop growling now."
"Welcome to the Akabeko." Tae said to the three strangers entering her restaurant. A silver haired man with golden eyes kept his hand on the arm of the green eyed, silver haired woman beside him. Behind them walked a red headed man with laughing aqua eyes. Her curiosity getting the better of her she asked the red haired man the question bugging her. "Excuse me, I can't help but notice that you have red hair. One of my regular customers also has red hair and it's such an unusual color. Are you by any chance related to Kenshin Himura?"
"K-K-K-Kenshin?" came the strangled response from not the red haired gentleman with aqua eyes, but instead the silver haired woman in emerald green. "He's... he's in Tokyo?"
"Why, yes." Tae continued puzzled. She wasn't the only one looking strangely at the girl, both her companions had turned to stare. "He's staying with Miss Kaoru at the Kamiya dojo. Do you know him?"
"Uncle, I have to go... I've got to see him." The silver hair girl turned to leave but froze at the sight walking towards the Akebeko.
Kenshin, Yahiko, Sano, and Kaoru were heading towards the Akabeko for dinner when he sensed a presence he hadn't felt in years, wild, untamed, animal. Narrowing his eyes he saw her standing in the door of the Akabeko. His former partner. Leena. "Kenshin Himura!" her voice called across the distance of time and space. Cautiously he stepped forward, placing himself between his one time partner and his new friends. She walked towards him with all the deadly grace he remembered. He stepped forward to meet her, not with the stiff controlled gait that his friends were use to, but with the deadly, swaggering grace of the Battousai. Behind him he felt Kaoru reach for him and Sano pull her back. The one time fighter-for-hire knew that there was danger in the air and that Kenshin had for some reason decided they needed the Battousai, not the Rurouni.
With practiced ease he assessed the two that she traveled with now. The silver haired man bristled with the same untamed animal aura as she did. The sword at his hip was as much a part of the man as the Sakabatou was of him. That this man had dealt death on many occasions was never a question in Kenshin's mind. His eyes fell to the red head he was not by nature the predator Leena and her similarly white haired companion were. Not that he couldn't be. However, both men seemed willing to let her handle the situation if not slightly puzzled by it. He returned his attention to her, coldly evaluating the threat she possessed. Her kimono would be a hindrance, the long sleeves and train would slow her down. Then he remembered the fighting outfit she always wore under her kimono and the natural weapons she could and had used. The sight of the black bodysuit had cost more than one man his life. His forgetting that could have cost him his, he reminded himself. Her claws would make removing the kimono quick and effortless. He knew she was faster, could leap higher, stay in the air longer than he but his swordsmanship should still defeat her, it always had in sparring matches. Finally his eyes met hers, no anger shone from her emerald eyes only relief to see him and a mischievous gleam, he allowed the Battousai to slide away. This was not Amatsuotome, this was Leena and she wanted to play. She ran at him, her kimono gone within two steps, her katana in hand by the third. He too moved pulling his sword. They met in the air swords clanging together, then spinning away only to leap at one another again.
From their vantage points their companions watched with interest as the two combatants leapt and whirled their swords flashing. Walls, rooftops, even the ground became springboards for their leaps. Faster and faster the attacks came, soon only her companions were able to follow the movements so great was the speed.
"Shippou, have you ever seen her fight before?" The kitsune only shook his head. "She's good." Inu Yasha said to his companion.
"Yea, she's way better than you Inu Yasha and as fast as Sesshoumaru, but I don't think she's using her full speed. See, like that attack, she's used it against you before only faster. She holding back a bit. Do you think she doesn't want to hurt him? He's good too. Damn he's so precise with his attacks."
The fight continued neither giving ground until a sudden yelp pierced the afternoon air. When the dust settled the spectators could see the fight was over. Kneeling on the ground with her hand clutching her head the silver haired girl looked at the red headed man standing before her. "Damn it Kenshin, that was my ear!"
Instantly contrite, Kenshin knelt beside her. "I'm sorry Leena. I didn't mean to hit your ear. Let me have a look at it." He moved her hand and could see the blood staining her hair and even as he watched the spot grew, but the damaged ear was not visible. "Drop the illusion, so I may treat your ear, please."
"Feh. I'll live. I've missed you." She leaned in her lips brushing his softly. She went with the movement of the hand yanking her backwards, rolling back onto her feet and she stood katana at the throat of her attacker, the livid dark haired girl standing before her. "Why you...."
"Miss Kaoru, that was a foolish thing to do, that it was." Kenshin stepped quickly between the two, chastising the assistant master handing the silver haired girl the remains of her kimono. "Behind you is Sano, and Yahiko our friends."
"And behind you Kenshin, are my Uncles Inu and Shippou." She snatched the kimono from him and roughly shoved her arms into the sleeves. "We were just about to get some lunch, would you like to join us, Kenshin." She made it clear by voice and body language that she meant only him.
Kaoru was about to make a rude comment when the red haired man behind her spoke. "Leena, stop being childish. They may all join us if they wish." Walking up to Kaoru, Shippou extended his hand. "Miss. Kaoru was it. My name is Shippo, the silver haired man there is Inu Yasha and this rude young lady is our niece, Leena. Please, as an apology for her behavior I insist you and all your friends join us." Turning to the silver haired male Shippou spoke again. "Inu Yasha, I think you need to say something to our niece."
In all the years he'd known Leena no one save Katsura had ever chastised her, with out her temper showing itself. Yet, here she stood head bowed to this red haired man before her. The silver haired man, Inu Yasha, snatched her arm and pulled her away. Kenshin knew she was being lectured, but the language being used he didn't understand, it was a combination of snarls and growls. He didn't notice the one called Shippo had led his friends into the Akabeko. Wondering if he should intervene he took a step towards the two. At her familiar hand signal he stopped where he was. Moments later he watched as Leena tilted her head, exposing her neck to the man. His head bent and he lightly nipped her neck drawing blood. He started forward again, the Battousai within him rising, he would not see her hurt. Twinkling aqua eyes blocking his path.
"She was punished for being rude. I somehow think you know what they are. Don't worry Inu Yasha would never hurt her, he cares to much for her. It is hard for him to even discipline her. But she is still such a young pup." Aqua eyes smiled at him. "Now how do you know our little Leena?"
"Young? Little?" Kenshin would never have used those words to describe Leena. Not knowing how much Leena had revealed to this man, and embarrassed by his own past Kenshin told a half truth. "We met outside Otsu about twelve years ago."
"Ahhh so that is where she disappeared too." The red head smiled showing his fangs. "I've often wondered about those years. So what exactly did you and our Leena do after meeting outside of Otsu?"
"Uncle Shippo! What I was doing outside of Otsu and what Kenshin and I did after we met is none of your business. How many times must I remind you that my life is my life and not open for inspection." Leena had silently rejoined them along with her Uncle. She was more subdued but Kenshin still felt the wildness that was hers alone, the wildness that the Battousai within him responded too.
Inu Yasha noticed that his niece had turned a lovely shade of pink . He also noticed a change in the young man. A dangerous and deadly aura that he hadn't noticed previously now surrounded him. "We have dinner guest I believe." He reminded the gruffly, and led the way into the Akabeko.
~ ~ ~ ~
Hours later Leena sat on the roof of the inn, a habit she had picked up from Kenshin. The only difference was tonight she was not alone on her left sat Inu Yasha and on her right Shippo. The two had finally given up trying to find out how she had met Kenshin and what secret about their past she hid. She knew her kitsune uncle had still one more question he wanted to ask and turned to him. "Ask all ready."
Shippo blushed slightly and stuttered "W-w-well, I mean he does have red hair and he's so fast is he...."
"Spill it Shippo" Inu Yasha growled.
"Is he kitsune hanyou?"
Leena threw back her head and laughed. Calming herself she answered, "No he's just human." A scent on the evening air caught her attention, blood. Kenshin's blood. Standing she leapt calling her katana to her.
Shippo and Inu Yasha watched as the katana raced through the night air into her outstretched hand. Suddenly the two were alone. One instant she had been between them and now there was no trace of her, even her scent was gone. "How the hell did she do that?" they asked each other at the same moment.
Leena moved through the night, making her way from roof top to roof top. Every few houses she would stop and sniff the air adjusting her course as needed. Finally she saw the sign for the Kamiya dojo. The scent of his blood was strong and anothers blood scent mixed with it. Saitou. Hajime Saitou, leader of the third squad of the Shinsen Gumi. She quickly circled the dojo ensuring that no other Shinsen Gumi members were surrounding it. Satisfied she leapt to the ground and walked into the dojo through the hole in the wall. Her green eyes narrowed as she took in the scene. Kenshin held in the air by Saitou, a shirt around his neck. The woman, Kaoru on her knees crying, the boy Yahiko watching, Sano was being supported by some woman in a doctors outfit. She moved forward with blinding speed her claws slicing through the cloth breaking the hold. Spinning she wrapped her arm around Kenshin and leapt away setting him down gently she gazed into his eyes and was relieved to find her Kenshin, the Battousai his eyes glaring his anger as he took deep ragged breaths, not the Kenshin, with his unworthy one comments, she had met that afternoon staring back at her. He nodded and she turned to face Saitou.
"Who are you?" Saitou asked the woman stalking towards him.
"I am Amatsuotome." She growled at him. "Surely you, Hajime Saitou, have heard that name. I'm quite sure that I killed enough of your squad for you to have heard it." She halted before him allowing him to remember. Drawing her sword she allowed the moonlight to catch along it's length. "Now face me wolf cub." Kenshin's hand on her shoulder stopped her next move.
Her ears twitched and she heard the carriage approaching, she nodded her understanding, lifting his hand gently to her lips she renewed her vow. "With my life, I guard yours." She ignored the gasps of the four who had stood watching the fight at her vow. Moving to the opening she offered a promise to the Shinsen Gumi before her. "Another time."
His voice reached her. "Let's finish this." She knew they wouldn't for all ready the police man was running towards the dojo. From her perch on the roof she heard the entire story, her decision was made, even if his was not. Once again she would don the mantle of death maiden and protect him. Slowly she headed back towards the inn to gather her belongings and say her good-byes.
Amatsuotome = celesital maiden