Battles of the Heart
Chapter 1: The Plan
Disclaimer: I do not own Rurouni Kenshin.
Kaoru stared at the retreating back of Kenshin and fumed silently. That baka Kenshin! One day, he'll figure it out, even if I have to pound it into his head! she thought angrily. Yet again, Kenshin had proved either to have amazing self-control or to be amazingly stupid. Kaoru had just acted extremely sweetly, and any other man would have understood, but he was different. Maybe that's why she loved him so very much.
Kaoru Kamiya was a young eighteen-year-old with long black hair falling past her butt, with long bangs reaching the tops of her eyes. Most of the time, it was tied in a low ponytail with a ribbon, but sometimes she would let it stay loose. Her smooth skin contrasted greatly with her ebony hair and accented her deep sapphire eyes. Usually, she wore bright flowery kimonos with a matching ribbon. Kaoru's mother had died of disease when she was a young girl, and her father died in the Meiji Revolution when she was in her mid-teens. Her family had owned a dojo for generations, and it was passed down to her when her father died in the war. She trained relentlessly, mastering the family style: Kamiya Kashinryuu. It was a sword style her father developed that was used to save lives, rather than take them. It used techniques that hurt and injured, but did not kill. She suffered much from her neighbors and fellow villagers because she was a woman learning swordsmanship, and at that time, a woman who did anything but clean and cook was considered 'unmarriable'. When she trained, she changed out of her usual kimono and into a creamy white training kimono with a matching ribbon tied around her head to keep her bangs out of her face. She was skilled with a bokken, a wooden practice sword, and had never used a real sword before, as her sword style used these bokken because no matter how hard you hit with them, they will not kill like a sword.
Kenshin Himura was a twenty-six-year-old wanderer with a strange love to do laundry who was staying with Kaoru in her dojo. He had long crimson hair to his lower back, which he wore in a low ponytail with a blue hair tie. His bangs also reached the tops of his eyes. His eyes were a warm, bright violet. His most prominent feature was the large cross-shaped scar on his left cheek. He always donned a pink kimono shirt, wide baggy white kimono pants held up by a white belt, and brown rope sandals. Kenshin was one of the most skilled swordsmen in the country, and he used the most deadly of the styles: Battoujutsu. His specific style was known as Hiten Mitsurugi, one of the most accurate and difficult to learn. He was so skilled with Battoujutsu that he was hired as an assassin during the Meiji Revolution by the Imperialists and was known as the Battousai, or the Assassin Who Uses Battoujutsu. Battoujutsu was a swordsmanship style that attacked while pulling the sword from the sheath. It required agility, accuracy, and great speed. He killed many men from the age of fourteen, when he was recruited. Kenshin saw his actions in a new light when a series of tragic events caused him to accidentally kill his wife and left to wander about, repenting for his sins in the form of assisting and saving the helpless without killing. His sharp deadly blade was traded for a reverse-blade sword, or a sword with a blade that cannot cut. The name Battousai was respected by many and feared by all. He shed this name, but many still recognized him by the scar on his cheek. When he was the Battousai, his eyes were a cold amber, and when he reverts back to this inner demon, his eyes also revert back to their icy amber.
The Meiji Revolution was between those loyal to the current emperor, the Emperor Tokugawa, and those who wanted a new ruler. The Tokugawas had been in power for three hundred years, closing Japan off from the rest of the world, and allowing a great rift to form between the poor and the wealthy. The weak were constantly oppressed, and many wanted a change. They rose up against Emperor Tokugawa and his regime, planning to put a young man named Meiji in power. Meiji planned to close the gap between the classes and open up Japan to the world. He believed Japan needed to if it wanted influence in the world. Those who remained loyal to Tokugawa were known as Shogunate, and those supporting Meiji called themselves Imperialists. The two sides battled fiercely in the shadows, man against man, corps against corps, never meeting in the open in a conventional battle. Political compromises were reached and numerous attacks were mounted on leaders by hired manslayers. Everybody was sucked into its dark void, whether willingly or unwillingly. Finally, the ideals of the Imperialists shone in victory and Meiji replaced Tokugawa as emperor. The former emperor was imprisoned and heavily guarded.
All of a sudden, Misao sat up straight, startling Aoshi, and although he didn't show it, his teacup trembled very slightly. "Aoshi-sama, could we please have a summer's end festival? Like a party, I mean. Just us and Kaoru-san and Himura-san and everyone. Please? It would be so much fun! We could cook the food and set up everything in the back of the Aoiya and close it for the day! It wouldn't cost that much, just for the food!" Aoshi sighed. He hated it when she had big ideas like this. Whenever he said 'no', she would pout, or worse, give him that dejected and disappointed look. He hated that oh so much! It apparently had the potential to kill him from the inside out. Her big pleading eyes stared up at him and he finally gave in. He nodded, not speaking. "Oh! Arigatou, Aoshi-sama, arigatou! I love you so much!" If only you knew how much I really mean those words, she thought. Her delighted shrieks filled the room as she hugged her beloved Aoshi-sama happily. Realizing what she was doing, she let go hastily and anxiously looked up at him as she apologized quickly, a blush spreading across her cheeks. "Gomen nasai, Aoshi-sama!"
She's so kawaii when she blushes! Aoshi thought, letting the slightest of smiles creep up upon his cold features. Misao, being as obsessive as she was about him, didn't miss it, and smiled back.
Misao Makimachi was a young sixteen-year-old ninja who was the head of the Oniwaabanshuu, a ninja group whose days of espionage were waning slowly due to the peacetime. They ran a small inn in Kyoto, and the seven of them that made up the Kyoto faction had become a family. Misao was the leader, or Okashira, of the Kyoto faction, taking over after Aoshi resigned. She led her six companions, Kuro, Shiro, Omasu, Okon, Okina, and Aoshi in the rare operations they took part in. The Oniwaabanshuu, however, had once consisted of eleven members, but four, Beshimi, Hyottoko, Shikijo, and Hanya, were lost in an operation with a drug dealer named Kanryuu Takeda. Misao's long black hair was tied in a braid that reached all the way to her knees. Misao always wore her ninja outfit: a navy sleeveless shirt that wrapped across her chest, forming a V-shaped neckline. The shirt had wide dark-periwinkle borders and tucked into a light pink sash-belt that tied in a bow in the back. The belt held up a very short pair of navy shorts with the same wide periwinkle border at the bottom. They reached about a third of the way down her thighs, showing off her long legs. She wore navy armbands stretching from her elbows to her wrists with thin border of periwinkle at the edges, and circular navy hand guards over the backs of her hands, with a periwinkle border around the edges. She wore white socks with navy sandals, which were held to her feet with navy cloth that wrapped around her feet and halfway up her lower leg. Her weapon of choice was always her set of ten kunai, little throwing daggers. She could throw them were amazing precision and speed. She held them between her fingers, giving the impression that she had claws.
Aoshi Shinomori, aged twenty-four, was the Okashira of the Oniwaabanshuu, and had been since age fifteen, until four of his comrades died while under his leadership during the Kanryuu operation. He spiraled into depression, guilt, and anger until it consumed him, turning him into a demon rivaling the intensity of the Battousai. He turned on everyone he knew, including the Oniwaabanshuu, nearly killing Okina in a fight, and joined the side of the enemy in a conflict with an evil swordsman named Makoto Shishio. He wore a dark royal kimono tied around the waist with a sash-belt of the same color. Completing the image were a pair of creased pants of an identical dark royal blue. To add some contrast, he wore his trademark cream trench coat. It was tan-yellow on the inside, and it showed as the large collar and the edges of the front were folded over. Finally, he donned a pair of dark royal blue fingerless gloves. His black hair was short, only as long as the back of his neck, and his long bangs curved over his face and fell just past his steel eyes.
Kuro, Shiro, and the two sisters Okon and Omasu were all members of the Kyoto faction of the Oniwaabanshuu. They had served under Okina, Aoshi, and finally, Misao. They all wore the same uniform as Misao's, being the ninja uniform of the Kyoto Oniwaaban members. All were loyal to the Oniwaabanshuu, to their 'family', and to their leader. Kuro was a big man with such dark hair that it was easily mistaken for black. It was very short and he wore a dark royal headband around his head. He had small brown eyes and a round face that often sported a wide grin. Shiro was a smaller, leaner man with dark brown hair that could have reached his ears if he didn't spike it all the way up. His eyes were a dark brown, matching his hair. Their uniforms differed only in that the shorts were longer. Okon, the elder sister, had long flowing brown hair, which she kept out of her face with a dark royal headband. Her eyes were a light brown, as were her sister's. Omasu, the younger sister, also had brown hair, but she wore it up in a tight bun at the back of her head with her bangs hanging over her face and held back with a dark royal headband. The two sisters had a slightly different uniform from Misao's because they did not wear the short shorts that Misao preferred, but instead short dark royal skirts, ending mid-thigh. This also allowed for more movement. Okina was an old, lean man, who had been the Okashira before Aoshi. It was said nobody could best him in a fight, and he only handed leadership over to Aoshi so that he could retire peacefully. Even then, his pupil, Aoshi could only beat him after he had stopped fighting for many years. His took in Misao when she was orphaned and together he and the Oniwaabanshuu raised her together. Okina became her surrogate grandfather and the two became very close. He wore a cream inner kimono and a reddish-brown outer kimono to his ankles with a matching cap, but also owned a ninja suit similar to Shiro and Kuro's. He wore white socks and brown reed sandals. His silver-grey hair, which had receded, leaving the top of his head bald, curved outward in two chunks at the nape of his neck. He had a goatee as long as his neck and a bristly moustache beneath his nose, both of the same color as his hair. The goatee was tied near the end with a small purple bow. His wrinkled face was often seen with a stern expression, a dreamy expression, or a kind and gentle expression.
"Kenshin! Come here! Quickly!" Kaoru called out. Kenshin came running, noting the excitement in her voice. "Guess what? Misao-chan and Aoshi-san are holding a party at the Aoiya in a week and we're invited! If we're going then we'd better leave soon or we won't make it in time!" Kenshin smiled at her enthusiasm and hurried off to pack. Kaoru did the same. Having heard the conversation, Sano walked off to go find Megumi and tell her the news.
Sanosuke Sagara, a nineteen-year-old who preferred to be known as Sano, was a tall brown-haired street fighter and an ex-fighter-for-hire. His hair was stuck up at all sorts of odd angles and in all directions, giving him the nickname 'rooster-head'. He wore the same outfit everyday: a pair of white pants to his ankles held up by a white karate belt, bandages around his legs from about halfway up his lower legs to his toes, flat black shoes, bandages around his torso, bandages wrapped around his left hand, which he shattered in a fight and never let it completely heal, a short red armband on his left wrist, and a red ribbon tied around his head with the ends flowing down his back. Finally, he wore a white jacket with black along the edges, on the cuffs, and black stripes on the sides. He wore it open most of the time, exposing his chest, and it had a big Japanese symbol on the back, saying 'Bad'. Sano was an orphan who was taken in by an army group. He was once part of the Sekihoutai, a Shogunate army corps that roamed freely during the Revolution, fighting the opposition, rather than marching with the rest of the army. Its captain, Captain Sagara, was Sano's father figure, mentor, and role model. They were betrayed and ambushed by their own side and murdered senselessly for crimes they did not commit. It proved easier for their leaders to place the blame on the Sekihoutai, rather than those who truly committed the felonies. Captain Sagara was murdered and this sent Sano into a world of despair and bitterness. He and his best friend, Katsu were the only two to survive. He took his idol's last name as his own and became a fighter-for-hire, angry at the world.
Megumi Takani was a sly twenty-two-year-old, earning herself the nickname 'kitsune'. She was the sole survivor of a fire that killed her entire family during the Revolution. She came from a long line of successful doctors, but she suffered much verbal abuse because she was trained as a female doctor. Kenshin, Kaoru, Sano, and Yahiko saved her when she was kidnapped by Kanryuu Takeda to make him opium. Like Kenshin, she killed many through her opium, wished to repent for her sins. However, the path she chose was suicide, but Sano showed her suicide would do nothing, and staying alive to save others would be better repentance than death. She had long black hair to her lower back, which she wore loose, and bangs the same length as Kaoru's. Her brown eyes contrasted with her pale skin. She always wore a thin white inner kimono, a pink outer kimono, and a periwinkle blue jacket-like kimono that was not wide enough to button in the front. Instead, it was held together by a wide piece of fabric of an identical hue that tied to the jacket with white strings in the upper corners and buttoned to the jacket with two more pairs of white buttons, the first about four inches from the ties, the second about the same distance from the first pair, and the second pair about six inches above the bottom of the fabric. This piece of cloth covered her from the top of her bust to halfway down her thighs. The rest left the plain pink kimono exposed, leaving a pastel mix of periwinkle and light pink. White socks and brown sandals covered her feet. Megumi's life dreams were to become a successful doctor and to find her family.
All eight members of Kaoru's 'family' had gathered at the Kamiya dojo for dinner that evening: Kaoru, Kenshin, Sano, Megumi, Yahiko, Dr. Genzai, Ayame, and Suzume.
Dr. Genzai was an old doctor who had taken care of Kaoru after she was orphaned. He was an old friend of Kaoru's father and had become akin to a grandfather to Kaoru. He had two young granddaughters, Ayame and Suzume, around nine-years-old and six-years-old respectively, who were also orphaned, and Kaoru helped take care of them. He ran a clinic for the sick and injured and took Megumi in as his assistant. He wore a white inner kimono and a red outer kimono. Over it all was a light blue doctor's jacket similar to that of Megumi's, except it was wide enough wrap around him like a peacoat would. The right side wrapped over the left side and tied to the jacket with a white tie. It was about as long as Megumi's jacket. White socks and rope sandals covered his feet, and his grey hair was tied back in a short ponytail. His head was covered in a light blue cloth that tied under his ponytail like a head bandana.
Yahiko Myoujin was the youngest inhabitant of the dojo, only thirteen-years-old, and Kaoru's own prodigy. He was the son of a samurai who died in the Revolution. A drug-dealing ring took him in and tricked him into becoming a slave for them. Finally, after years of abuse, Kaoru and Kenshin rescued him and took him in. He wore a tight long sleeved-white shirt and a yellow-tan kimono shirt with brown dash-like marks all over it, giving it a distorted cheetah pattern. He wore baggy pants in a similar style as Kenshin's but they were a dark olive green. Finally, he wore white socks and brown sandals. He had big dark brown eyes and wild spiky black hair that stuck up in even more directions than Sano's did. He was very focused on training to become a strong swordsman. He was learning Kamiya Kashinryuu under Kaoru, but we secretly watched almost all of Kenshin's battle, putting together his own style, a hybrid of Kamiya Kashinryuu and Hiten Mitsurugiryuu.
Dinner was finished and Kaoru spoke up. "Ok, we've been invited to a party at the Aoiya. I'm assuming you all want to go, so I've decided we will be leaving tomorrow. After dinner you should all pack your things. Megumi-san, will you be coming?"
"Of course, baka tanuki," she smiled.
"Don't call me a baka, kitsune!" Kaoru yelled back.
"I'll call you what I want."
"No, you won't."
"I'm older than you!"
"So? I'm stronger!"
"You're not smart, you're just sly!"
"No, I'm smart. But you're not, you're just a little naïve girl."
"Just as much as you are!"
"Now, now, we shouldn't be fighting, should we?" Kenshin interrupted smiling nervously, trying to break up the argument.
"Ken-san!" the two girls yelled in unison.
"You're right, Kenshin. So it's agreed. We're all going. Sugoi!"
Dr. Genzai smiled. "I'll take care of the dojo for you, Kaoru-chan. And I can watch over the clinic while you're gone, Megumi-chan. Have a good time!"
"Thanks!" the two girls chorused in unison, yet again.
"Oh! I forgot! It's supposed to be a party for couples!"
Kenshin, Sano, and Yahiko's eyes widened and they began to sputter. Kaoru and Megumi laughed.
"I'll go with Kenshin!" exclaimed Kaoru brightly.
"I'll take tori-atama," sighed Megumi in mock disgust.
They all looked at Yahiko. He waved his hands in front of his face. There's no way I'm asking a girl anywhere!"
"Ok, guess you're not coming, Yahiko-chan," said Kaoru pityingly.
"Don't call me -chan!" Yahiko yelled in frustration.
Sano smirked, "You're -chan 'cuz you got no girl to go with. Get a girl and that '-chan' will only be there out of the Jou-chan's sisterly affection."
Yahiko grumbled, then brightened, "At least I know who I can ask."
"Good," grinned Kaoru, "I'm sure little Tsubame-chan would love to come!" Yahiko blushed bright red.
Tsubame Sanjou was the same age as Yahiko, a thirteen-year-old girl who was very shy and didn't speak much. When she did speak, her voice was small and quiet. Her short brown hair fell to her chin and matched her warm brown eyes. She wore different kimonos, like Kaoru, but preferred plain block colored ones. Often, she wore a white inner kimono with a pastel pink outer kimono. Its collar was navy and a lime green sash tied around her waist. On top was another wide purple sash that tied in a bow in the back. A thin yellow ribbon also tied around her waist in the center of the purple belt. The kimono reached her ankles, and from there, white socks and brown sandals took care of the rest. She had a short, slight figure that jus screamed out her timidity. She, too, was orphaned and taken in by a criminal ring, but her guardians were thieves rather than drug dealers. Yahiko saved her all by himself and it proved to be his first, and successful, application of the swordsmanship skills he had acquired up until then from Kaoru.
Misao grinned even wider than Kaoru, and her eyes glinted mischievously. This will be so much fun! I can't wait! She began to make plans for the best party ever.
Everybody arrived the day of the party, and Misao was found jumping up and down as she greeted her guests. "Hey Kaoru-san! Hey Himura-san! Hey Megumi-san, tori-atama, Tsubame-chan, Yahiko-chan!"
"Hello Misao-chan," they smiled back.
"Hey, itachi-chan!" Sano replied, and she kicked him in the head.
"Hey Misao-chan!" Yahiko cried. Misao kicked him, but he was smart enough to duck it.
Morning eventually became afternoon and the last two guests finally arrived.
"Hey Soujirou-san!" The young wanderer smiled back.
Soujirou Seta was a complicated character. Years of tragedy had morphed his gentle, timid character to that of a cheery, confused assassin. His parents died and his aunt's family took him in to keep up their image. He became their personal slave, and they whipped him whenever he cried. He finally learned that when he smiled, they would leave him alone, and he started to smile at everything, despite how he felt inside. An evil swordsman planning to take over the country took him in and trained him to become the perfect assassin. Soujirou murdered his foster family and ran away with his fugitive rescuer. He was trained to lock away all of his emotions so he was a mindless killer, but Kenshin brought them back to the surface and this drastic change was his downfall. Together, Soujirou and the evil swordsman worked to control the country, but Kenshin foiled their plans in an epic battle. Soujirou followed the same steps as Kenshin, wandering about to find himself and the way to repent for his murder sins. He had brown hair to his ears and brown eyes to match. He wore a white, long-sleeved, collared, button-down shirt with a sky blue outer kimono shirt on top. Its cuffs, collar, and edges were light blue. His wide pants were a slightly darker blue, and he wore white socks and brown reed sandals. He was very skilled in a different style of Battoujutsu from Kenshin's. His favored attack was called the 'Shukuchi', a powerful attack requiring light feet, incredible speed, and the ability to run swiftly around an attacker and slice him in the back in the space of less than a moment's time.
Yutaro Tsukayama was the thirteen-year-old son of a wealthy landowner. His father was a skilled swordsman, but he and his wife died, leaving a huge estate to his young son. Yutaro searched for a teacher as skilled as his father, but in vain, until he found a man preparing to take over Yutaro's estate and start a new revolution. Yutaro shattered his wrist in a battle against his new teacher, and was sent to his uncle in Germany to have it healed. He had brown hair to his ears, which was a little unrule, but not nearly as wild as Yahiko's or Sano's. He wore a sky blue kimono shirt on top of a white inner kimono, and a pair of darker blue baggy pants tied with a matching belt at the waist. He wore a pair of laced-up brown shoes that could only have been obtained overseas through his vast wealth. Yutaro was an only child with everything he wanted, and as such, he became a spoiled brat who expected everything his way and only his way. Yahiko, through fights and arguments, finally showed Yutaro how to be kinder, and the two became very close rivals, each preparing to beat the other in a duel someday.
"Alright everybody, let's get this party started!" she cried enthusiastically. Just then, black storm clouds appeared out of nowhere and burst upon them, showering them with heavy rain. Everyone stared at the sky sadly for a moment.
"Everybody, come on and we can eat dinner inside. Hurry!" Omasu yelled out to the group and everyone scurried inside to avoid getting soaked. The food was delicious and everyone had a great time, despite the disappointing weather. The party finally ended very early the next morning, and they all stayed the night in the guest rooms of the Aoiya.
The next morning, Misao skipped over to Kaoru. "Kaoru-san? I just got the best idea in the world! Quickly, get Megumi-san and Tsubame-chan!" When the four girls were gathered at one of the tables in the dining room, Misao outlined her idea. "I was thinking: it would be so wonderful to make Aoshi-sama confess his undying love for me. But yeah, I know, like that's ever gonna happen. Anyway, it would be priceless to see him get jealous, right? I know you feel the same way about Himura-san, Kaoru-san. And you like tori-atama, Megumi-san. And we all know you like Yahiko-chan, Tsubame-chan. So, let's make 'em all jealous."
"But we can't have them figuring out our plan," Kaoru reasoned, "And who are we going to court instead?"
Misao thought for a moment, then answered, "We'll have to make it look like we have feelings for these new guys. None of us have shown any of our feelings to the guys yet, so it shouldn't seem too suspicious."
"You're right. But, like tanuki-chan said, who are we gonna court?" Megumi asked.
Misao smiled brightly, "Well, I know Aoshi-sama doesn't like Soujirou-san, so I'll take him. It doesn't seem too odd, does it?" She looked anxiously from one friend to the other to the other.
"Not at all," Kaoru smiled.
"I'll take Yutaro-san. He's Yahiko-chan's rival so it'll work really well, I think. Right?" They all nodded approvingly at Tsubame.
"Who is Sano jealous of?" Megumi wondered.
"Does Kenshin actually care enough about me to get jealous?" Kaoru worried.
Tsubame put her hand on her friend's arm, "We should meet here again tomorrow at the same time. You two could go to the market. Maybe you'll meet some one." She giggled and Kaoru blushed. Megumi's cheeks tinted slightly pink.
Author's Notes: Please R/R ppl, it would make me so happy!