The Eyes of a Hitokiri

I've decided to de-preteen-ify my account slightly, so this story has been edited a bit from its original version.

Disclaimer: I own Rurouni Kenshin. Just kidding.

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"What's your name, boy?"

"Himura Shinta."

"Shinta, hmm?"

"Mm-hm."

The man scoffed. "Shinta? What kind of a name is that? That's no name for a swordsman. From now on, you will be known as Himura... hmm, what's a good name? Ah, I know. Kenshin. You are now Himura Kenshin. Got that?"

"Mm-hm."

Himura Kenshin, Himura Shinta. It sure didn't matter to him. In fact, he almost preferred it that way: a new name for a new life.

It's not like it mattered to anyone else.

Anyone who might have had an opinion on the matter was dead.

He should know; he dug all their graves.

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When I walk down a street, I get different reactions from people. Some of 'em congratulate me on a job well done, even though I didn't do anything except teach him how to hold a sword. Others condemn me, blaming me for creating a monster with yellow eyes.

Of course, his eyes weren't always that color. When I first met him, they were a deep purple, sometimes tinged with gold.

Sometimes, though, when I practiced with him as any instructor should, his eyes would change to those amber beacons that so many people saw as they drew their last breath.

It scared me the first time I saw those eyes.

Hell, it still does.

But it was scarier coming from a little boy.

He was incredible. His first time to hold a sword was barely 9 weeks ago and I was already running out of things to teach him. And I'm no amateur. Amazing.

Today was probably one of the last lessons I would be able to give the boy. It was time to find out exactly how proficient with a sword he really was. "All right, Kenshin. I think you've made a lot of progress, and I think it's time to finally test your strength on your instructor, man to man."

"Right." His face seemed several years older than his body, unsmiling and impassive, as he readied his stance.

And his eyes... I shall never forget them.

His usually hyacinth eyes swirled with the violence of a hurricane as his frighteningly strong killing ki grew. His irises were tinged with gold; I could feel his battle aura from here.

"Let's go."

He whipped out his sword, parrying my downward stroke at his shoulder. I quickly swung, aiming at his right side. He parried this stroke as well. Changing the direction of my swing, I aimed for his lower legs, trying to catch him off guard. He dodged it easily. Again I swung; again he either parried or dodged.

Was this all I taught him to do? Defend against an opponent? Maybe he was not as advanced as I had thought... Thoughts like these crossed my mind several times during the beginning of the fight. I swung again, this time aiming at his shoulder. Then, at the last possible moment, I quickly shifted directions to aim for the left side.

For a brief moment, I thought I had at last caught him off guard. But no, he parried again. My guard started to go down. He must be intimidated, the poor boy. He's only blocking, I thought. My movements became more and more lazy. I struck again, not bothering to feint. Again, he blocked the thrust with a swift motion. The increased strength of the block should have warned me of the upcoming strike, but I was too unfocused to notice. I had already raised my sword for another strike before I noticed his attack. He thrust his sword at me, aiming straight for my painfully open right shoulder. Cursing my stupidity, I vainly tried to bring down my sword fast enough to parry his strike. But his speed was too much for me.

I looked into the face of my student, who had outwitted me... my eyes meeting his.

Suddenly, two frightening amber orbs glowed intensely from the face of my opponent.

They bored into my very soul, shaking it to the core. Timed seemed to slow immeasurably. For a moment I was...

Afraid.

For those eyes...

Were the eyes of a hitokiri.

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He could not explain why he had almost killed his instructor.

He remembered fighting him. He remembered wearing him down, getting him to lose focus, by constantly defending. It was a good trick, and it assured the user's control of the situation.

But even from the beginning, he felt as if his mind was not his own. It was not the first time this strange feeling of having a neighbor in his brain had occurred; it happened often when he trained. More often than not, this "neighbor" helped him accomplish things he would have been unable to do on his own.

But toward the end...

It was if his "neighbor" had moved in. He was still aware of what he was doing. He could even control some of his movements if he wanted to. But this neighbor was the one with the real power. His arms seemed to thrust the sword at his sensei on their own. A dark corner of his mind whispered equally dark thoughts: a sword covered in the dark red blood of his instructor, dripping on to the floor... he had defeated him...killed him...

He shook his head, trying to erase the memories of the bizarre thoughts that had been conjured up when he was fighting. Never had he felt so angry, so... bloodthirsty. And why? The old man was just a teacher. It wasn't as if they were really enemies. While in practices he was grateful for the presence of his neighbor, the troubled crimson-haired boy wasn't sure the invader was welcome during that fight.

In fact, thinking about his thoughts then, what he almost did... he was almost...

Afraid.

Was it true, what they said?

Was he perfect for this job they were training him for?

Did he really have the eyes of a hitokiri?

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The Hitokiri Battousai sat in a dark, blood-covered alley, leaning his back against a wall as he allowed himself a much-needed moment of rest.

Corpses littered the area; the bodies of those he had slain moments ago. A barbed arrow of pain jabbed his heart as he looked at his dark red hands, as he felt the metallic taste of others' blood in his mouth. The yellow in his eyes receded slightly, for once letting through the violently storming purple depths of his natural eyes.

Why had it come to this? Why did he kill hundreds of people every week, every day, every hour, minute, second of his life? Where did it start?

Did it reach back to his first teacher? Was it simple coincidence that the swordsman saw a red-haired, tired little boy dragging the bodies of the only family he knew into poorly made graves on a hillside? Was his entire life molded from that one moment when that man saw his young self and thought, 'That boy's strength... he'd make a fine hitokiri."?

Or...did it go back further?

Someone had once told him, "Once a hitokiri, always a hitokiri."

Was he a hitokiri, even when he was young? Did he not always have that neighbor, that killer, that hitokiri with him in his mind?

Had he been born a hitokiri?

The sound of a footstep in the night echoed through the alley, scattering the Battousai's thoughts. Ready for anything, especially an enemy, he grasped the hilt of his katana. Two alarming amber orbs glowed from underneath red bangs.

The eyes of a hitokiri.

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Thanks for reading the story! As I said earlier, I wrote this a while ago, and I'm way too lazy to edit it too heavily, so if you see any glaring errors, please let me know! Thanks!