Disclaimer: I regret to inform all of you that I do not own Rurouni Kenshin or its characters, although I do own any created characters that my imagination comes up with.

Author's Notes: This chapter is told in Kaoru's point of view.

Chapter 8 – Tryouts

From the moment I saw her today, I knew something was wrong. She did not have the same sparkly glimmer in her eyes as she always held whenever I saw her. But instead, they were eyes of fear, eyes that were downcast. 'What happened?' I wondered.

The class was talking amongst themselves as Saitoh was checking over the class attendance as he normally did. I shrugged and simply thought that she probably wasn't feeling all that well today.

"Miss Himura!" I heard the familiar voice of Saitoh call out.

"Yes, Hajime-sensei?"

"Has your brother decided to come in even later than his usual tardiness today?" From what I could fathom, Saitoh didn't like tardiness at all. What surprised me even more was the fact that he let Kenshin come in late as he usually did.

"No, sensei. He's not feeling all that well today and decided to stay home."

'Kenshin, sick!' He seemed perfectly fine to me yesterday at school. And he didn't seem like the type who would get sick easily. I don't know why, it's just what I feel about his aura and all.

"I see…" was all Saitoh muttered, with a sadistic smile for some reason as he placed a mark on the attendance sheet.

"But he told me to tell you that he'll be at the tryouts today. He just didn't want to take the chance of falling ill before them, that's why he's taking it easy." Misao stated back in a matter-of-factly kind of tone. For some odd reason, when she said that, she wasn't all too excited. And here I thought that Misao wanted Kenshin to get involved with the school.

"I see…" Saitoh muttered once again. "Well, be that as it may, we need to speed up in class. We'll start where we left of the other day where the Western European nations were starting to make their way towards the Eastern countries of China and India, seeking spices and riches that………"

Saitoh voice soon went into one ear and quickly out the other as my thoughts wandered over to Kenshin. Sure, I had a better view of the blackboard, but…I don't know, I guess I kind of got used to staring at the unusual red-head in front of me. Well, at least the back of him anyway.

"Kamiya!" I heard a familiar voice call out my name.

I gulped and at the same time, rolled my eyes. Yeah, kind of a strange combination but with Saitoh, it really doesn't matter. Now the important question was whether Saitoh wanted me to answer a question or just called out my name to make fun of me for daydreaming or something like that.

"Yes, Hajime-sesnsei?" I replied back in a way that I pretended to be frightened, just so Saitoh would think I was afraid of tone.

"The answer to the question on the board!" he commanded. I got the feeling that if I got this question wrong, I'd be looking at a week's worth of detention for not paying attention in class for the millionth time.

I quickly scanned the board and read the question. Luckily, I remember reading something of the sort a few nights ago. "The problem with the Japanese government back then was that they did not allow any foreign traders, especially merchants from the European countries, into Japan to trade with them. Therefore, since they cut all communications with the outside world, Japan was both technologically and economically backwards." 'Hehe…bet you Saitoh didn't expect that coming from me, now did he?'

My answer seemed to suffice Saitoh as he just glared at me for a couple of seconds before continuing on with his lecture. 'I better pay attention or one of these days Saitoh will actually get me.' I smiled to myself…that day won't be coming anytime soon. Once again, I decided to leave the mystery of the Himura siblings for a later time and concentrate on Saitoh's lecture. If I wanted to pass the country-wide exam, I better get my butt in gear now.

The morning went by as usual, with Saitoh giving out his boring lectures, Kanryu-sensei trying to explain to us why investing in his company would be beneficial to both us in the future and for the rest of mankind. Is the world really ready for a device that allows you brush your teeth, comb your hair and clean out your ears all at once? I highly doubt it.

Anyway, lunch time finally arrived…thank god…and I sat down where I usually did with Sanosuke and Megumi. I wonder what chit-chat they had to talk about today.

"So you hear, that this year our Swordfight team might actually have a chance of winning a few matches."

"Really now!?" Megumi asked, quite shocked by Sano's revelations. I rolled my eyes. Did they not see me right here?

"Yeah, with Aoshi joining the team, it could be possible."

'Aoshi, trying out!? When in the world did that happen?!......and how come I wasn't told of this!?!?!?'

"Wow…it's about time he did something productive with the skills he has."

"WHERE DID YOU HEAR THIS!?" I yelled out to them. And yeah, it was pretty loud because before you know it, everyone in the cafeteria was staring at me…again.

Both Sano and Megumi looked at me with a strange look.

"WELL!" I whispered violently to them and everyone went back to there one business.

"Chill out Jou-chan. You'd think I would leave you in the dark?"

"Yes!" I replied back. He always did too.

Sano chuckled in return. I was about to beat him up when he finally started talking. "I heard Beshimi talking it over with a couple of other people awhile ago."

Well, that figures why Sano heard it before I did. I'm always the second to know things…after his group, which kind of sucks at times, but I live with it. However though, this seriously got me thinking. 'Why exactly is Aoshi trying out for the team? I mean, is it because of that day when he and Kenshin had to stay after with Saitoh? Did something happen then? Or is there another reason? A more personal reason?' I decided to ask him myself. However, as soon as I got up, I spotted Misao, sitting alone at the table she usually shared with Kenshin. I don't know why, but instead of heading over to Aoshi, my feet took me over to Misao.

The closer I got, the more it pained me to see her. Something was really wrong. Her facial expression was way too melancholic to not be feeling well. "What's the matter Misao?" I asked as I took a seat next to her.

My presence seemed to startle her as she kind of jumped off of her seat a bit before settling down. "Huh? What? Oh, hi Kaoru. Nothing's wrong…just feeling a bit tired, that's all. Anyway, what brings you here anyway?"

I smiled sadly. 'The denial factor. I've used that method too much to see it actually work. Well…I guess if she doesn't want to tell me, it's not my place to force her into it. It's not like we are the best of friends or anything.' "Ohh…nothing really Misao. You just looked a bit lonely over here without Kenshin and thought that you might want to sit over with Sano, Megumi and I. That is, if you want to……"

Misao eyed me strangely and then took a glance over to where Sano and Megumi were sitting down at. "Are…are you sure your friends won't mind?" she asked hesitantly. "I mean, I really don't care where I sit."

I smiled as I took her lunch. "Nope. Now, if you don't come, I guess you won't be eating lunch today." Misao smiled and finally got up.

Sano and Megumi looked at me, then Misao and without a second thought, welcomed her warmly…to my relief. "Misao…I'm guessing you already met Sano." Sano gave his signature nod and toothy grin. "And this is Megumi Takani."

"Nice to meet you Misao." she said as she gave her a nod of her own before continuing talking about who knew what go Sano.

I sighed as I shrugged to Misao who gave me a thoughtful look and then giggled. "What's so funny?" I asked. Really, what was so funny.

She continued giggling and finally caught Megumi's and Sano's attention, who also wanted to know what exactly was so funny. When she realized everyone was staring at her, she stopped. "It's nothing. Relax. You guys just reminded me of something I've seen before. That's all. Now, if you don't mind, I'd like to start eating before Hajime-sensei tells us the lunch ends half and hour earlier than usual.

"You too?!" Sano questioned with delight.


I laughed. Well, at least Misao seemed to be returning to her old, cheery self again.

However, as the day went on, Misao seemed to again become overly solemn and worried about something. It nagged me to no ends………for some weird reason. I knew it wasn't my place to ask, but after Hennya-sensei's lecture on the importance of Newton's laws, I just had to ask.

I saw her alone at her locker. 'Finally, a chance.' I thought. However, as soon as I started walking over to her, she quickly banged her locker shut and ran towards the direction of the gym. 'Why'd she go there?' As far as I remembered, there were not after school activities planned for today.

Then it struck me like lightning. 'Swordfight Tryouts!' I couldn't believe I almost forgot the most important thing I always looked forward to in school. However, I still didn't get it. I thought Misao wasn't trying out for the team. I shrugged and decided to put her on hold in my mind for sometime. I had other things to do. Like some mental preparation for the tryouts!

Thirty minutes later, everyone who wanted to be a part of the team, was in the gym in different assortments of training or fighting attire. Aoshi was wearing blue pants along with a loosely worn blue shirt. I was wearing my traditional blue shirt with my gray hakama. Don't even start with my fashion statement!

Anyway, as I scanned the people around, there were more people trying out than I thought there would be. If you want figures, let's just say last year we barely had five people trying out – I had to convince a freshman that it would be fun to fight for you school in competitions. People would respect you…look up to you…………………….ok, fine. I gave the kid some money to join. But this year was different. There had to be at least fifteen people who wanted to join. Too bad only seven would make the team…the two extra would be for backup. I guess since Aoshi was trying out…and most likely going to make the team, people probably thought we actually had some kind of a chance to win a few matches. 'What the hell was I then?'

It didn't hit me till I noticed the gym was much more crowded that it should have been. There were actually people sitting in the bleachers!! What had the world come to? Did Aoshi's skills actually make people want to watch the tryout? Ahhhhh! Suddenly there was this little voice in the back of my head that kept on telling me to kill Aoshi in his sleep so I would start getting the attention I very much deserved. I mean, I've been loyal to this team since I was a measly freshman! It's not fair.

I spotted Misao sitting way at the top…the last row of the bleachers. She kept on glancing towards the doors to the gym, as if expecting someone to walk through. Who else needed to be here?

Again, another thought struck me like lightning. Toma-sensei wasn't coaching the team anymore. 'Then who was?'

My answer walked through the doors……and my worst fears came to life. 'Why him? It could have been anyone in the whole entire world. Hell, I would even let a five year old kid coach the team…but why in the world did it have to be Saitoh?

Dejectedly, I formed the line Saitoh commanded the prospects to form. Everyone else who wasn't trying out was ordered to sit in the bleachers.

Saitoh stared down at the fifteen of us like a general would to his army in training. He then looked up at the clock attached to the gym wall. Tryouts were supposed to start promptly at 4pm…and it was already 3:58pm. Another two minutes, and then we would see Saitoh's methods of seeing who exactly the best of the best were.

The clock seemed to slow down as the minute hand worked its way towards the twelve. The second hand was working its way around once more. I don't know what I was waiting for more……the second hand to finally reach the god-forsaken twelve or a bead of sweat to drop of my chin!

And then the gym doors opened as a figure walked……or rather, limped over to the line. At first, I really didn't know who exactly it was. Given the fact that I was at the other side of the gym, I really couldn't see over other people's head. It sucks being short! But I wasn't clueless for long.

"Nice of you to join us, Himura." Saitoh's curt response was to his late entrance. You know what they say, being early means your on time, being on time means you're late and if you're late, then don't even show up. I don't have to tell you that Saitoh took that to the heart.

"Yeah, whatever" was Kenshin's reply as he gradually got into line. Before I even had my own impressions to rely upon, whispers…well, at least I thought they were meant to be whispers, were around the gym in no time. From the bits and pieces I received, before Saitoh's menacing glare shut everyone up, I heard injury and is he serious.

'What the hell is going on?' However, I didn't have much time to delve into an answer as Saitoh began giving out what would be his way of doing things around town.

I watched silently as Saitoh surveyed the bunch of us wanting to make the Swordfight team this year. It's strange…but as I look at him, I find myself thinking that this year, with Saitoh as our coach…that maybe…just maybe, we'll actually have a chance of doing remotely well in our matches. Despite how much I despise the guy, I have a feeling Saitoh knows how to pick out the scrawny competitors from the ones that have the guts and determination and willpower to fight their heart out. I knew Toma-sensei, despite the fact that there were never many people trying out for the team, would only pick his favorites over skill. That was evident last year when Soujiro tried out for the team. In my eyes, he had some skill during tryouts, but when it was time to make a decision, Toma-sensei picked some cocky-ass senior who was on the team for his four years, but it was clearly evident that Soujiro surpassed him in every way, shape or form. Hell, when the two had a practice match, Soujiro didn't even have to move and he would have won. But again, what do I know, right?

Eh, we'll see what happens this year.

Saitoh finally begain. "This year is going to be a hell of a lot different than what you weaklings were subjected to when you had Toma-sensei as your coach." Go figure. "This is your last chance. If you punks want to leave, then get out of my sight. I can already tell there's a bunch of you that's pissin' in your pants right now."

Now this surprised me. I never would have thought that Saitoh would actually given people a chance to run away. Usually he would savor in seeing students quiver in fear of him. I suppose swordfighting is something Saitoh takes pretty seriously if he doesn't want to waste time on people who need it.

Not surprisingly however, there were a few people who actually left. I shook my head. If they didn't have the commitment to stand up to what they wanted to do, why were they here, wasting our time in the first place? If there's one thing that really gets me ticked off, its people who talk big but when it comes right down to the wire, they cower in fear and run away.

This left twenty or so people who wanted to make the team.

Saitoh smiled. "We'll have five brackets, each with four competitors. The winner of each bracket will make the team. The winner from each match will be determined by who scores three points first. And to determine what rank you'll hold on the team, you'll each face me one on one. But I'll save that fun for later. As for the reserves, I'll have the liberty of choosing them myself."

I nodded, along with the rest of the group. This was definitely different from last year. All Toma-sensei made us do was practice swings and drills and then one or two practice matches and then he'd pick who was on the team. I always did question that method of choosing. I guess that probably was part of the reason we didn't win any matches against other school.

'Mou! That means I'm not a shoe-in. I was the captain of the team last year! What the hell?! Did Saitoh not believe in my abilities!? The nerve of him!'

Saitoh posted something on the easel board behind him and I could only fathom that was probably told who was in which bracket. I found out that I was in the first bracket along with three other names I recognized from last year – they were all on the team. 'Well, at least I know it's not going to be extremely difficult making the team.' No offense of any of them, but I was the captain for a reason.

Aoshi was in the third bracket and I was able to make out Kenshin being in the fourth bracket when Saitoh told…rather commanded us…to get to our places and start the matches. 'Ah! I still haven't gotten a good look at Kenshin!' I was able to see him limping over to the far side of the gym for bracket four.

As I was walking over, I saw Aoshi trying to avoid me, purposely walking in a crowd of people rather than walking alone, as he usually would do. I would have confronted him right then and there as to why I wasn't informed about him trying out for the team, but if I knew Saitoh (and I believe I do pretty well), he would probably toss out anyone who didn't follow his orders.

My first match was with the third ranked fighter on our team from last year, a girl that went by the name of Sakura. All in all, she's a pretty nice person, always trying her hardest. Unfortunately for her, she wasn't gifted with the sense of coordination, meaning she wasn't the most balanced of people. However, I really don't know too much about her. I mean, we weren't the best of friends, or hated each other guts or something of the sort. I guess you could call her an acquaintance.

"How have you been doing, Kaoru?"

I blinked. From what I could fathom, she really never talked to me outside of the team. I mentally shrugged that off though. "Pretty good. And you?"

She smiled. This confused me. "Well, you know. I've had my ups and downs of course. But I'm pretty sure I'll be in a good mood soon."

"Why?" Really. Why in the world is she asking me these meaningless questions.

"Cuz…" And it didn't hit me…literally…till she landed a hard, direct blow on my right shoulder with her wooden sword. "I'm already up one point and on the verge of victory."

I fell to the ground with a thud and could hear groan around me from the onlookers. I clutched my shoulder. 'Owwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!' Of course, I would never say that out loud, but it hurt like hell. I slowly got up and grinded my teeth.

Pain – something I never could get accustomed too, but writhing from my shoulder. I rotated my arm but found that if I lifted my right arm above my head, it burned even more. Clenching my right hand in a fist, I took a couple of deep breaths before setting both hands onto my sword and got into formation.

'What a lying, deceiving, bitch!' I smiled nonetheless. If there was another thing that ticked me off, it was dishonorable, cheating people like her. Although I don't know why she pulled of a stunt like that…I mean, I never remember her doing a trick like that last year, but I guess time changes people.

"What's wrong Kaoru? Can't stand the fact that someone is better than you?"

I sneered. "Oh yeah, soooo much better. We didn't even bow to each other. You started illegally."

I guess rules really didn't have an effect on her. And since there was five matches going on at once, Saitoh didn't see it. And if he did, I would of loved to seen the look on her face when Saitoh kicked her sniveling butt out of here.

"If you can't take the heat, might as well admit defeat Kaoru. And before you know it, I'll be captain of the team. Hehe."

I ignored her last comment. "Ready when you are, bitch."

This seemed to tick her off and she immediately charged at me with the sword pointing straight for my throat. 'Heh…too easy.' I effortlessly knocked the sword out of her hands and smacked my sword against her left thigh. She fell to the ground.

I sighed as she got back up and instead of getting back into position as you would usually do, she charged straight at me again, trying to catch me off guard. Using the same move as before, this time, I hit her right leg.

This time, she took her time getting up. I guess my blows were doing a number on her legs. And she was also breathing pretty hard. Needless to say, she also didn't seem to keep in shape.

I wanted to end this quickly, so this time I charged at her when she got into position. She didn't have a rat's ass of a chance as I struck her sword away for a third time and attacked her shoulder, just for revenge.

Smiling at victory and hoisted my sword over my shoulder. "Sorry Sakura. Seems like you had forgotten about my three imminent points I was going to make." And with that, I left the mat and a stunned Sakura and took a seat at a nearby chair, waiting for the next match in my bracket to begin. I would have loved to see what Aoshi was doing, but my questions were answered when I heard "ooohh's" and "aaahhh's" come from the third mat, where the third bracket matches were taken place. One could only guess what stunning display Aoshi put on for his onlookers. Plus, I needed to see who my next opponent was going to be: the senior, Kei or the junior, Taichi. Both were pretty decent, but I knew I could easily take on both. But with my shoulder as it is, I would rather face Taichi than Kei, Kei being the number two fighter on last year's team.

And as fate would have it, Kei easily won with three straight hits on Taichi. 'Go figure.'

As I started to warm up for my next match, I overheard a couple of onlookers talk about a certain person who, as recently, was always in my mind.

"Did you see what the guy with the red hair did?"

"Yeah, the trick he did with the sword, one handed?"

"Uh huh! It was totally awesome! I thought only someone like Aoshi could pull that off."

"I don't know about that, but he's kinda cute, don't you think?"

"Definitely! Let's go watch his next match!"


'Kenshin, one-handed trick? Compared to Aoshi? ………cute?' Cute did him injustice. More like downright hot as hell!

"Kaoru…uh, your up, you know, right?" I heard a voice behind me bring my out of my reverie.

I turned around to see it was Taichi. "Huh? Oh, yeah, right. Thanks."

'Mou! Now IS definitely not the time to be thinking about that Kaoru. And plus, Kenshin isn't THAT hot………'

I shook my head to bring my back to where I currently was. With this win, I would be on the team. It was definitely all or nothing.

"May be best person win." I heard Kei say as she bowed.

I smiled. If there was someone on the team I could call a friend, it was definitely Kei. "Definitely." I bowed in return.

I usually would always let the opponent attack first, see the flaw in that particular step and find a way to counter it. So I decided to attack first, since I remember I told Kei that little quirk of mine. However, I was met dead on with Kei as both of our swords clashed against each other in a tight battle. If this was a battle of strength, I knew I wouldn't stand long, for Kei was definitely stronger than me. However, what I lacked in strength came in agility and speed.

Kei forced my sword away from me and I was wide open for an attack. However, I was able to dodge to the left from Kei's thrust, saw my chance and attempted a swing at Kei's hip. That's when my right shoulder froze in pain and I soon found myself thrown side ways from Kei's attack.

I inhaled sharply and clutched my left side. First my shoulder, and now my hip. Damn, I was out of shape.

"That makes me up one, Kaoru. I know you can do better than this."

I took a couple of deep breaths and got up again. Kei was right. I was better than this. Ignoring the pain coursing through my body, Kei and I clashed once again. And again, she easily overpowered me and was able to force away my sword, once again, leaving an opening in my body. This time though, I was ready. As Kei made an attempt at me with a thrust, I used my free left hand to push away the sword and attack her left arm with an attack of mine.

"You don't have to remind me, Kei" I said as I watched her rub her arm where I hit her. Swordfighting was definitely a contact sport, if you want to call it that.

Kei and I again went through the same routine as she took the next point and I took the one after.

Fatigue started to have its effect on my body. I need this next point, or else I would not make the team. I couldn't lose!

Kei was good, I had to admit that. But I was better, and I knew that instinctively. As both of us positioned ourselves for the final point, I found Kei charging towards me with her sword aimed at my chest.

Just as she was going to hit me, I stopped her sword with the hilt of mine, with my hand supporting the back of the hilt. It was an old trick that Aoshi had taught me. Despite Kei's power, the hilt of the sword was the densest area. If applied with enough pressure and pinpoint accuracy, you could stop an attack thrust pointed towards you. Luckily, I knew Kei would hold back her true strength, seeing that I was injured as I was. It was her nature to fight fairly or not fight at all.

I kicked away Kei's sword, rammed her to the ground, and then delivered the final blow to her as I lightly tapped my sword on her head.

I smiled as I pulled my sword away from her and tossed it aside to help Kei up. As I did, I saw her smiling as she gave me a brief hug, which I gladly returned. "Good job Kaoru. Next time, it's going to be me."

"Just next time, don't hold back."

The look on her face was a look of surprise. I guess she didn't expect me to know she was holding back. "Heh, you bet!"

It wasn't until then did I realize the impact of the hits I had taken. Everything started to have its impact all at once as my shoulder really started to ache. 'What the hell did she hit me with? I metal baseball bat or something? Why is it hurting so much?'

I glanced over at the adjacent mat to see that matches there were done and so were the ones taking place at the third mat. You didn't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that Aoshi had won the third bracket, as everyone this side of the gym was talking about how easily he managed to defeat the two fighters he fought. However, apparently the match that still remained was the fifth bracket final match. Nodding to myself, I walked…rather limped awkwardly over there to find it surrounded with people.

Somehow, I managed to squeeze myself to the front to notice Kenshin standing at the far end of the mat. I recognized his opponent. Sanada Touckimichi. An arrogant fellow who, unfortunately had really good looks. 'But nowhere near Kenshin.'

It seemed Kenshin was up two points to zero, I found out after asking nearby onlookers. I spotted Misao at the other side of the mat, half relieved, half scared and half pissed off…if you could have three halves to a person. Hehe.

Sanada, in all his arrogance, charged full speed towards a Kenshin………who looked, injured!??!? 'What in the world happened to him? Why does he have fresh scars all over his face?' So that's why everyone was whispering when he came in. He definitely was in no condition to fight. I found it surprising that he was even in the final match, up two points.

Seriously, I had accidentally blinked, and before I knew it, Sanada was on the ground, knocked out cold. 'Ok, maybe it's not so surprising for him to be there.' What in the world did he just do?

I guess Aoshi was right with the god-like swings he was talking about when he was referring to Kenshin's swordfighting skills. I honestly did not see that attack or counterattack or defensive maneuver…or whatever you want to call it.

With Sanada completely looking knocked out ice cold, Kenshin slowly walked off the mat and into the guy's locker room. Talk about a lone wolf warrior. Slowly, the crowd started to disperse back into the stands as they were talking about all the matches held and the winners.

I spotted Aoshi in the corner. Heh, I took the opportunity and walked over to him.

"Kaoru. I see you won."

"Aoshi, don't try to change the subject. I want to know why you're here when you never came before despite my constant begging. Huh? Huh?" I'm going to make sure I get to the bottom of this.

"You'll know in time Kaoru. For now, just be happy that your "team" actually has a chance of winning this year."

And with that, he walked away.

……………………..What the hell was that?! 'Actually have a chance of winning? My team? Know in time!?' AHHH!!

"Hey Kaoru."

I turn around to find Misao look expectantly at me. I quickly regain control of myself and put on my usual cheerful self. "Hey Misao. How's it going?"

"Pretty good. And congrats on you making the team. You're pretty good."

"Heh, not as good as Aoshi…or Kenshin for that matter as well."

"Yeah, I saw Aoshi's first match. I never knew there was someone as good as Kenshin out there."

Now this got me intrigued. I'd really like to see a match between Kenshin and Aoshi, if what Misao says of Kenshin is true. If he's really that good. "Yeah, same goes for Kenshin as well."

"Yep yep. By the way, are you okay? I a bit of your first match and saw that huge hit to your shoulder. It looked kinda painful."

I smiled at her thoughtfulness. "Nah, its fine. I've felt worse."

My answer didn't seem to suffice her enough, but luckily, she left it alone. "Well, if you say so."

My curiosity was getting the better of me. "What happened to Kenshin? He seemed kinda tired and injured…with those bags under his eyes and scars on his face and arms."

I wasn't expecting Misao to cry before me, but her eyes were brimming with tears. "I'd like to know that myself." She wiped away a couple of lone tears before continuing. "He was out so late and then came back last night………and he had a high fever…and was limping……and was injured. I……just don't know……he wouldn't tell me……"

By the end, Misao was definitely on the verge of crying. I truly empathized with her. I knew exactly what she was feeling. The only thing I could do for solace was hug her, and I think that's all she needed because when I let go, she smiled.

"Thanks Kaoru."

"Anytime Misao."


"Yeah Misao, whats up?"

"If you don't mind…can you not tell anyone about the conversation we had…with Kenshin."

"Of course. I'd want it the same way."

We both smiled as Saitoh blew his whistle, signaling the end of the matches and probably another one of his speeches.

"See you in a bit?" I asked Misao. For some reason, I felt a strong connection to her…like I we were similar in many ways. I wanted to get to know her a bit more.

"I dunno Kaoru. I still gotta yell at Kenshin for coming here in the first place cuz of his injuries and then probably treat his injuries. But we could hang out after school tomorrow?"

"Cool! Then I'll see you in school tomorrow."

"Yep." With that, Misao skipped along. She seemed to be in better spirits now. Saitoh blew the whistle a second time. If he reached a third time, everyone in the gym would probably receive detention, despite it being after school and everything.

After everyone had settled down, the five winners of the brackets lined up in front of Saitoh, with everyone else behind us in the bleachers.

Saitoh merely glared at us before smirking. "That was the easy part. Now the hard part comes with training. Our first match is in less than a month…twenty-five days to be precise from looking at your skills, I can tell you punks need training, and a lot of it too. The reserve position fighters will be posted up tomorrow before school hours in the front office. For those of you who didn't make it, I advise you to check there. Either than that, I want you five back here next week for your ranking matches with me. Dismissed!"

With that Saitoh left, leaving the five of us. As I looked who made it, I saw Aoshi, Kenshin, Ray, the number four ranked fighter from last year and a girl that I……well, didn't even know attended this school. I wonder who in the world she is. Well, with me, that made five.

Author's Notes: Hehehehehe…ok, so it's almost been a year and a half since I last said I would update…but I did!! That alone is cause for celebration. I know this chapter isn't up to the usual caliber but I hadn't written in so long and I guess, I have forgotten how to write……to an extent at least. So bear with me as I regain my rhythm again.

As for this chapter, you wouldn't think I would reveal what happened to Kenshin so soon? Heh, it'll be something big later on, but rest assured, I'll reveal what happened to him………eventually – given that I update.

I can't ask for much except for a review from you guys, telling me what you want and what I should improve on. I know there's a lot for me in that category .

I hope to update once more before my winter break is over and then again during Spring break, but who knows what'll happen. Time is a mystery.

Till I update again, I love you all! You guys keep me alive. Rest assured, this fic won't die.