The Parting of the Ways

A/N Sadly, I have not done a disclaimer in quite a while, so Taani said I ought to, seeing as it's the polite thing to do. I do not own Rurouni Kenshin/Samurai X or any of its characters.

EDIT 12/11/08: I decided to read this one day after listening to my Samurai X soundtrack, and I wondered how this story would have turned out if I had actually been a better writer (mind you, I was five years young than I am now, but...). I do still think that this story has a decent plot, and I think it would turn out nicely if I ever got around to continuing it. But before I even attempt to do that, I figured that it couldn't hurt to touch up the first two chapters. So, without further ado, I give you the revised and/or rewritten chapter one.

- - -

Chapter One: Arriving in Tokyo

Otsu, 1878...

"They still haven't delivered the medicine to us." She looked at Kenshin with a look less surprised than what he had been expecting. Her eyes never showed much emotion, but he guessed that that was what he loved about them. "We'll need to travel to Tokyo to buy some more if we're to survive this season," he added.

She let down her blue-black hair and began to stroke it with a brush. Looking at her reflection in the mirror, Tomoe tied her hair in a tail that looked rather slack-ish. She fluffed her bangs, turning away from her reflection when she heard a quiet knocking at the door.

Kenshin started, instinctively reaching for the sword he kept tied at his waist. He had just come from outside, that's how he had known that his medicine shipment was another day late. He hadn't noticed anyone following him, and who would bother? He had been told to play the role of a simple pharmacist because it was a trade that would not attract much attention to himself or Tomoe.

As quietly as he dared, Kenshin tip-toed his way to the door, his right hand cautiously gripping the hilt of his sword. He lifted the straw curtain that acted as their door and looked out. The air had grown colder and the snow had started falling in sheets.

"There's no one here...," he said relaxing his stance.

"What's that?" Tomoe asked as she ran her fingers through her ponytail. "At your feet."

Kenshin turned his gaze towards and ground, grabbing for the small package lying at his feet.

- - -

"You never told me what you found in that package," Tomoe said, raising her voice just a notch so Kenshin could hear her from his place in front of her. He turned around to smile at her.

"It was a bottle of saké and some dried food--I'm guessing it came from Iizuka-san. I brought it along so that we can conserve our money for the supplies."

They had just arrived in Tokyo, after four long days of continuous travel. Both were exhausted from their trip and neither of them were in the best of moods because of it. Nonetheless, they had come here for a reason and Kenshin would not rest until he had gotten that taken care of.

As they walked down the main road past some of the many expensive restaurants and shops, a few passersbys would stop to listen to them speak, and by hearing their accent, realized Kenshin and Tomoe were not from the Tokyo region, or rather anywhere near it. People were rather nosy in this area, but whenever Kenshin went to ask someone for directions to the nearest pharmacy, the townsfolk either ignored him or shuffled off in a different direction.

They both knew that it was Kenshin's sword that really got the people's attention. Since the end of the Genji Era, only those permitted by the government were allowed to carry swords, and those people usually consisted of peaceofficers and no one else.

Tomoe spotted a flyer posted at the front of one of the buildings. It advertised a nearby dojo that taught kendo. She called out to Kenshin, saying nothing and simply pointing at the flyer. A dojo would be a good place to ask directions from someone who shouldn't have a fear of swords.

- - -

The female instructor turned to face the entryway, bamboo shinai still in hand. She seemed rather young to be the master of this dojo, like she was only seventeen or eighteen.

A fiery-headed man looked at all the students who would be learning swordsmanship. They all stared at him, dumbfounded. There was one boy who stood out amongst the rest. His complextion was darker than most people in the Tokyo region, and he had dark brown, almost black hair. His fierce brown eyes bore into Kenshin, totally unafraid.

"My wife and I sell remedies out in Otsu and we haven't gotten this month's shipment. Do you think you could show us to the nearest pharmacy?" Kenshin asked, bowing politely.

The instructor looked down at the sword hanging from the newcomer's belt. It was nothing like the shinai or bokken she kept at the dojo; this one was the real thing.

"You have a r-r-real sword?" she stuttered, instinctively taking half a step back.

Kenshin smiled at her. "Only for protection. Do you think you can help us?"

The young instructor shook her head, regaining her compsure. "Sure," she said, blushing out of embarrassment. She turned back to her students and said, "Class, we'll continue where we left off next time. Don't forget to practice." As the class began to file out, all still staring, the girl added, "I'm Kamiya Kaoru by the way."

- - -

"So, it was Kenshin, right? Isn't it against governmental policy to be carrying around a sword like that in broad daylight?"

"I thought I told you already, Kaoru-dono; I use this sword merely for protection."

From her place beside Tomoe, Kaoru walked forward so that she stood in front of Kenshin. Kenshin stared, aghast. Although somewhat afronted by her disrespectfulness, Kenshin couldn't help but like how bold the young instructor was being (1).

"Have you ever killed anyone with it?" Kaoru asked, still ogling the sword.

Tomoe looked up from the ground, answering for her husband. "He is a former manslayer. He was once known as Hitokiri Battousai." Kaoru's face faltered as she stared at the two newcomers in shock (2).

She couldn't believe that this nice man she had just met used to be the legendary Battousai. She had heard that name somewhere else before, but where? Battousai was supposed to have a successor after he had refused to kill anymore. The more she looked at Kenshin, the more Kaoru saw how cold and ruthless he looked. Although he tended to smile, Kaoru realized that his smiles never met his eyes, and it ran a shiver down her spine.

She saw Kenshin reach back for his wife's hand. She took it, running her delicate fingers across his palm. Kaoru continued to stare at the exchange before falling back into place beside Tomoe.

"The pharmacy's just up this way," she said quietly.

- - -

"Where's Megumi-san?" Kaoru asked once they reached Genzai's pharmacy. The two toddlers looked up and grinned. Megumi was an assistant doctor that worked with Dr. Genzai, the grandfather of Ayame and Suzume.

"Auntie Megumi went to help another patient," Ayame said, struggling with the last part.

"Patient, patient!" squealed Suzume. It was just then that the girls had noticed Kenshin and Tomoe's presence. "Who's this, Auntie Kaoru?" question the younger sister.

Just then, a woman stepped into the room from another part of the house. She looked to be closer to Tomoe's age, than to Kenshin's or Kaoru's, but her age did not deter her beauty.

"Ah, Megumi-san," Kaoru started. "This is--"

"So, you're Himura Kenshin and Himura Tomoe? The children told me you were here," Megumi said bowing her head. "It's a pleasure to meet the two of you. What can I do for the two of you?"

Kenshin sighed before he beginning his story. He was never one for repeating things, but if he and Tomoe were to survive the winter in Otsu, then he would have to tell Megumi why they were here and what they needed.

He explained to Megumi where the two of them were from, what his occupation was, and why they had come to Tokyo.

"You've come all the way from Otsu? You must be exhausted from your travels!" Megumi said, raising her hand to her face in an exaggerated manner. "I'm afraid it's Dr. Genzai that knows where most of the supplies are, but when he returns, I'm sure he'll let you have whatever you need."

"Here's an idea," Kaoru chimed in. "Why don't we all head out to the Akabeko for dinner?"

Kenshin looked over at her. "Unfortunately, we only brought enough money for supplies--"

"That's okay; we have a few tabs at the Akabeko anyway. Won't you join us, just for tonight?"

- - -

A/N There's the end of chapter 1. Hmm, I should probably explain some things too...

(1) - It's a certain custom that the women in Japan show respect for the men. Walking behind a man is polite, just as walking in front of one, is very rude.

(2) - I know I kinda made Tomoe sound rather rude to Kaoru, but it wasn't intended. Tomoe speaks in a rather sulky voice, therefore making her sound impolite.

Review for me, okay? If you don't Taani will be very upset because she helped me so much; as did Badiyannu for lending ideas in future chapters.

EDIT 12/12/08: feels so weird reading and writing from a different point of view. What I mean is, when I was writing "Last Time of My Life", I was writing from the point of view (per se) of the Shinsengumi, which were bakufu. Now, with this story, I'm going to be doing the total opposite. Kenshin fought for the Choshu--the Shinsengumi's enemy! I learned a lot about the Shinsengumi and how they fought to keep the Shogun in power, but now I find myself researching the Choshu and Satsuma to learn about how they did things to get the Emperor into power. It's crazy, but at least now I'll know both sides of the story. :)

Also, just as a reminder: this is an alternative universe (AU) fic, so bear with the fact that some things about the story will be changed. Roughly, the ages for Tomoe and Kenshin are as they were in Samurai X, and Kaoru's age is just a few years young than Kenshin...which I think makes her seventeen-ish. Anyone else mentioned in the story will have the age as what's mentioned in the Rurouni Kenshin manga.