Chikara Kokoro (Strength of Heart)

by: Miss Battousai-Noelle

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Disclaimer: I do not own rurouni kenshin, that i do not.

MissBattousai: "Hello friends. This is my first ever pure-RK story. It is a Kaoru+Kenshin/Battousai story if you didn't know. The first several chapters are going to take place during the Bakumatsu, then later on i'll shift the story right to where the anime/manga begins, with a few altercations of course. (If you would like to know exactly what the altercations will be, then you'll have to be patient and wait for later chapters. ^-^) Well, i hope you enjoy my newest creation. ^-^x"

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Chapter 1: The First Encounter

The night was pitch-black, although lit by a few candles inside the tents set up ahead of her and the beginnings of a camp fire. Luckily she was well hidden amongst the trees in the forest she occupied. If her father ever knew that she had followed him from Tokyo to Kyoto during the Bakumatsu... She shuddered at the possibilities of what his reaction might be.

She knew she was strong enough to take care of herself, although she was only fourteen years old. She was the proud heir of the Kamiya Kasshin Ryu, and, right before her father had left for the war, had mastered the style. Her father was proud of his only child for mastering the family style at a fresh fourteen years of age. Kaoru was heartbroken when her father had told her that he would be leaving her alone at home to fight in the war. Since her mother had died when she was still young, she had no one to stay at home for, and she wanted to be able to protect her father if the need ever arose. So here she was now, hiding in a forest, watching the Ishin Patriot's camp where her father, and about a dozen or so other patriots were staying until an attack plan could be derived.

She thought, " I wonder what plan of attack they'll use this time..."

Then she sensed some people making their way through the forest towards her. She soundlessly jumped up into the nearest tree. Just as she had expected, a small group of three men walked through a small clearing.

The first two were quite tall. One had brown hair tied back in the traditional samurai high ponytail. The other had short black hair; both were dressed in a green gi and tan hakama. The third, however, was not much taller than her. his hair was a vibrant red tied up in the samurai ponytail; he was dressed in a blue gi and white hakama. She watched him as he walked through the forest with both eyes closed. She couldn't help but notice how surprisingly handsome he was... Just then he opened his eyes to reveal them to be a violent amber. And to her utter amazement, he seemed to be looking right at her.

She was petrified by his gaze. She clutched her hands to her heart as she silently prayed that he wasn't looking at her. She closed her eyes for a few moments, only when she opened them, the red-haired man had left the other two and disappeared. She sighed in relief. "He has probably just gone ahead of the other two men," she thought.

Suddenly, the branch that she had been sitting on cracked and broke off. She fell to the ground and landed hard on her back. She groaned slightly, then brushed the sticks and leaves off her white gi and blue hakama. She glanced at the fallen branch and began to study where it had broken. She gasped. The branch had not broken at all. It had been cut down. She had been discovered.

She tried to stand up, but was immediately pushed back down with great force. She closed her eyes and winced as her head collided with the ground. Then she felt someone position themself on her and put their hand on her throat. She opened her eyes to see a pair of furious amber eyes penetrating her sapphire ones. It was the red-haired man she saw earlier, and he had his sword drawn. She gasped and he removed his hand from her throat to place it firmly over her mouth.

She tried to call for help, but to no avail; the only sounds she made were completely muffled by his hand. She tried to break free from him, but he only brought his sword closer to her head. She gave up trying to break free and whimpered, begging him to let her go.

He grinned. Then brought his face closer to hers. He whispered, "I know what you want. You want me to let you go, don't you?"

His voice was piercing.

She whimpered and nodded in response. He chuckled.

"Well I'm sorry to disappoint you Miss, but I just can't do that."

He sheathed his katana, then sat up atop her legs, thus removing his hand from her mouth. She gasped for air, his hand had been blocking most of the airflow to her lungs. She assumed that that was the only reason why he removed his hand from her mouth. When she reached a hand up to rub her throat, he grabbed both her wrists and held them to the ground. She swallowed hard.

"What are you doing here hiding in these trees." He was interrogating her.

A few tears escaped her eyes as he glared at her.

"I... I came here to watch over my father; he's fighting for the Ishin Patriots and is camped here." she admitted.

Somehow, he knew she was truthful, because he continued by asking, "Well then, why are you hiding out in the woods?"

"Well... you see.. he uh, doesn't know I'm here..." She blushed slightly at her own blind honesty. She didn't even know this man, and here she was, telling him exactly why she was here... but strangely, she felt as if she could trust him......

He stood up, and held out a hand offering to help her up. She blinked out of surprise, then took his hand. She felt his firm, yet gentle grip as he pulled her into a standing position. She noticed that his eyes were no longer amber; rather, they were a deep amethyst...

He said, "Well then, I suppose it's time that your father learns that you are here."

She could do nothing but nod in response as he led her through the forest towards the camp. After a minute of walking, he asked her, "What's your name?"

She was taken back a bit, but answered, "I'm Kamiya Kaoru."

He chuckled at the familiarity of her last name. "So, you are Kamiya-san's daughter. Well, now it makes sense why you were carrying a bokken with you as your only weapon."

She was surprised. "What? Is my father the only one that doesn't fight with a katana?"

"Yes," he responded, "And everyone is quite surprised that he's lasted as long as he has, using only a bokken to fight. And it is my assumption that you hold the same beliefs he does am I right?"

"Yes of course."

He laughed. "Well, I doubt you father will last much longer; and I'm guessing you are no stronger than he is, and you probably won't last too long either."

She winced at the thought. He laughed again, then put a hand on her shoulder.

"Don't worry Kaoru; you just stick with me and you'll live."

He walked on ahead of her. She jogged to catch up, then walked at a pace equal to his.

"And why is that?" she questioned him.

He chuckled. "You'll find out soon enough." His eyes had become amber again as he glanced at her briefly.

He grabbed her wrist as they exited the forest and entered the campsite. There were about a dozen men congregated around a campfire, surrounded by tents that were placed in a circular pattern around it. Some of the men noticed the hitokiri and the girl entering the camp.

"Hey everybody, check out what Himura brought with him!" one man yelled. Then, all the men around the fire turned their attention to the pair. Most of them snickered or leered as she and the red-haired man passed. She could see desire and hunger in all of their eyes. The red-head that she now knew as Himura, didn't seem to notice this, but kept leading her toward the largest of the tents.

Once they reached the tent, he opened the flap, and pushed her in ahead of him. Somewhere in her peripheral vision, she noticed him shoot an amber glare at the men outside. She thought, "So he did notice." She smiled to herself. "Wow, this guy may be really scary, but he sure is nice if you get on his good side. Maybe he's a friend of my father's... No, he doesn't seem the type. But he does seem to have respect for my father. Well, that's something at least..."

He glanced at her. He could see happiness in her beautiful sapphire eyes; a happiness derived from the fact that she would no longer be alone. He couldn't help but smile to himself. "What is it about this girl..." he thought, "Why am I being so kind to her? And why does her presence make me want to smile?" He shook his head. She noticed his sudden movement and looked up at him.

"What is it?" she asked, with slight worry in her voice.

"Nothing." he replied coldly.

"Okay..." she said softly.

He hastily changed the subject. "You're father should be up ahead, just beyond the next tent flap. I'll take you in there." He pointed ahead of them before grabbing her arm and guiding her over to the flap. He tapped the floor with his foot. The people beyond the flap heard the noise, and immediately stopped conversing. Then, the flap opened. The tall, brown-haired man Kaoru saw in the woods emerged for the room beyond.

"Oh, it's just you, Himura." he said; then he noticed Kaoru. "And who is the girl?"

Whisper's erupted from the room ahead. The red-haired man looked into the room, spotted Kaoru's father, then spoke, "Stand down. I need Kamiya-san to come over here."

The man at the doorway looked slightly taken aback for a moment, but then resumed his spot along the wall. Then, Kaoru's father walked towards the entryway.

"What is it Himura-san?" he began, then he saw his daughter standing behind the hitokiri. "Kaoru?!"

Her eyes lit up. "Father!" She broke free from Himura's grip and hugged her father.

Kamiya looked at the hitokiri for an explanation.

"I found her in the woods. She explained herself to me, and I brought her here." replied the red-head, walking into the room past Kamiya and his daughter. Kamiya cleared his throat, then spoke to the men inside the room. "Continue the meeting without me."

Several of the men argued this. Kamiya sighed. "Alright, Kaoru, you wait right here for me. I'll be out as soon as the meeting is over." She nodded in response and sat down at the edge of the tent. Her father then turned around and re-entered the room. Kaoru sat there with nothing to do but become lost in her own thoughts.

Back inside the meeting room, the meeting proceeded for where it left off. Yamagata cleared his throat and continued from where he had left off, "As I was saying, I will be leaving tomorrow morning with three escorts, so that I may report to Okubo-sama what we have learned here. Until I am able to return, I will be placing Kamiya-san in charge when I depart." No one showed any argument against this.

Kamiya bowed graciously. "I thank you sir. I shall not let you down." Yamagata nodded. "This meeting is concluded. Go to your tents men, and rest." Five of the seven other men nodded and left. Only Kamiya, Yamagata, and Himura remained. Yamagata turned to Kamiya. "Call your daughter in. I would like to meet her." Kamiya nodded. "Kaoru?"

She walked in the doorway. "Yes father?" He gestured toward Yamagata. "This, Kaoru, is Yamagata Aritomo. He is one of the leaders of the Ishin Patriots. He will be departing early tomorrow, and will be leaving me in charge of this camp until he returns."

She nodded. Then Yamagata spoke, "Miss Kamiya, when your father is in charge starting tomorrow morning, he will most likely be extremely busy and will not have time to watch over you." He glanced at Himura, then turned his gaze back to the girl. "That is why I have decided that Himura-san will be the one to look after you while your father is unable to." He turned back to Kaoru's father. "Kamiya-san, you, your daughter, and Himura-san shall all share your tent. And I want you awake bight and early to see me off." Both men nodded. Then, Kamiya began to walk out. Kaoru slowly turned and began to follow her father. Himura put a hand on her shoulder and followed her out.

When they exited the main tent, only a few men were still outside, and the fire had been put out, and so had all but a few candles.

When they entered their tent, Kaoru noticed that there were no futons, just blankets. She shrugged it off. She had been sleeping at night sitting propped against a tree without even a blanket. She took off the bag that she had been carrying, and laid it down in one corner of the tent. Her father distributed blankets to her and Himura, then they all laid down to sleep, the two men on either side of her.

Her father fell asleep uickly, and alhtough Himura seemed to be asleep, she could sense that he was still awake. She rolled over to face him. She whispered, "Hey, Himura-san." No response. She tried again, "Himura-san, I know you're still awake, I can sense it."

He turned to face her, hten opened his eyes. She could tell that he was annoyed with her. "What?" he whispered.

"Well, I was just wondering why everybody seemed kinda...afraid of you." she whispered back.

"That's because they all have good reason to be."

"Why?"

"Because I'm the strongest man here."

"And why is that?"

"Because I am the Hitokiri Battousai."

Her eyes widened in shock. "Wow... I've heard stories and rumors about the Battousai, but I never thought he really existed... but you're him. Wow... And Yamagata-sama assigned the most powerful of the Ishin Patriots to protect a girl like me? He must be crazy..."

The red-head smiled. "Well, whether Yamagata is crazy or not, I still have to protect you." She nodded. "And you don't have to be so formal with me. My full name is Himura Kenshin. You may call me Kenshin if you like." he added. She smiled, "Really?" He nodded. "Okay," she responded.

"Good night Kenshin."

"Good night Kaoru." After that, he watched her fall asleep before going to sleep himself.

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A/N: i hope you liked! reviews are always welcome!

-peace and love

--Miss Battousai ^-^x