Epilogue: More than a Paper Cutout

'Ha, and you people thought it was the end! Didn't you! Admit it! Unlike my insipid alter ego I know you're watching.'

'Well it's not, not until I have my say. Now, I know what you people are thinking. "Aww, he's gone all soft and told Kenshin to stay with Miss Kaoru". That's so not what I was aiming for!'

'You know that saying, "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer"? Well, apply it to one cranky badass that resembles a praying mantis. Yeah, that one. No, not a wolf, he's a bug. A bug with a triangle head and some big ass pinchers.'

'Don't look at me like that, I'll start to doubt your intelligence. Anyway, he's a real threat. Well, him and the horse girl's cooking. See, el stupido con man was nothing. Heh, at least he had taste in women. Even so, I knew there was something completely off about that jerk. You have to admit that he fooled all the people in this town… wait, that's nothing to brag about now is it.'

'Hmm, there's an added bonus to living here. Hiko can be watched. Yes, the man is a walking disaster, yet Kenshin puts more faith in him than me! Imagine.' Battousai sighs, 'Of course, I haven't slipped off leash for a while. Maybe it's time to pay the man a visit. After my rant of course. You guys want to hear this I'm sure. No? Too damn bad. Shut up and sit your ass down.'

'Ah shit, good thing Kenshin's occupied. Too bad that means the weasel chick has to show up. I don't know what sticks 'n' bones is up to inviting them all over. But she's got to be the absolute worse. She loud and obnoxious and tactless and illiterate and bouncy and cheerful… how that dumbass Sano puts up with her I'll never figure out. Then again, look at Kenshin.'

'Speaking of the dumbass, here he comes. Now don't get me wrong, I think the kid has lots of potential to be an excellent henchman. He's loyal yet none to bright and packs a punch.'

'I hate children. They stink and they make noise and they demand so much attention. Yes, you guessed it, I'm talking about the spawn of horse girl. The little hellion has some serious issues. Aside from happily yanking his father's hair whenever he can he such a momma's boy. Now, I know, you're going he's two! But that's not the point. What kind of man hangs off his mother's skirt? If he were my son he'd have learned a thing or two about life. Little pansy.'

'Before you go off on me saying that pansies are actually incredibly tough little flowers consider the kid floral. Kind of like Tokio, well, except her's live in the garden. Does being pregnant mess up something in females' brains? Ever since having a mini-roach, she spends most of her time there. I don't think she's picked up a rifle in ages. And Lobo, he's getting old. Still doesn't like Butch.'

'Butch is the best dog though. Absolutely hates Hiko. Too bad he's not mine. We could do some serious damage together.'

'But if I really wanted a dog all that bad I should just go talk to Sanosuke. The kid could learn a lot from me.'

'I suppose you want news of the couples, you bunch of sappy romantics! The whole thing disgusts me. At least Megumi could play around, the sly fox. Not that I'm interested in leftover from Cold and Sterile. Shit, she could kiss too.'

'Well, Tokio could too. Heh, I'm one lucky bastard. In fact, if I could get hold of Yumi I think that would cover all the hot women in town.'

'Couples, right, sorry. Anyway, Kenshin and Kaoru have their hell spawn Kenji. What a stupid name. I suggested Jason, but Kenshin said I was nuts. Dumbo, no taste. The bug and Tokio are still together. I can't imagine why since when we first arrived they were ready to kill. Can you see what a spectacular duel at high noon that would be? She's sharp shooting. They have the original pissant and there's another one in the oven if you know what I mean. Maybe kids do save marriages on the rocks. Personally, if I had to put up with Hiko for so long I'd either take care of him or get the hell out.'

'For those with weak stomachs, please skip this explanation. It's utterly disgusting and the two of them deserve each other. Kamatari and Yumi have come out in the open. Thrilled? I guess, if only to rub it in Kenshin's face all the time. He's so unobservant. The shit has to be up his nose to notice it. That's why he's no good with affairs and intrigues. He takes no pleasure out of being bad, the goody two shoe. It was worth the town's reaction though. They still have no idea that Yumi and Chou were married. Well, the whole crew of bimbos don't have a clue about anything else either. How they live in a small town is revealed! No sinful desire to ferret out secrets. Boring. In any other town the two would have been found out the second day tops. More evidence that the people here are brain dead.'

'Hmm, who else? Oh, Rooster. He's officially courting Misao. Well, as much as he can with his limited caring and attention span. She doesn't seem to mind, also having a goldfish memory and the attention span of a gnat. I think the two do more playing than anything else. Puppylove. God, can you imagine the offspring if they were serious? It's enough to scare even me.'

'Now, don't get yourself all upset. I haven't forgotten the other pairing. It's not like they write me letters stating everywhere they've been and everything they've done. Okay, actually, Kamatari likes to chat. And since Soujirou is his brother he's got the inside. And since the only one he can yap to is Kenshin I get updates.'

'Well, it seems one of the pair has some intelligence, I'm betting on Foxy. Then again, it's always the quiet ones who are liable to snap. Anyway, Aoshi and Megumi are still one step ahead of the law. As far as I know that's not too hard. Chou hardly seems bright he married Yumi after all. Soujirou, he just creeps me out. A lot. What's with the live burger obsession?'

'So much for the long arm of the law. What was the bug doing the whole time those two were in town? Minding his own business I guess. On a lighter note, the jail was repaired, only to be broken again. It wasn't Katsu this time. Actually, it wasn't anyone's fault. Doesn't that suck? Saitoh had no one to blame. I bet it pissed him off! But unless he was going to call down Mother Nature and chew her a new one he's screwed.'

'The church is all fixed up also, but you knew that. What would these mindless sheep do without religion? Want to know the scary part? Yahiko leads the congregation. Terrifying, I know. The kid is like fourteen tops. He does a decent job, which leads me to believe the church truly could be in the control of a bunch of apes bent on taking over the world. Bow to us pathetic humans!'

'Sano could be one of them. One of the not so bright varieties I'm afraid.'

'Katsu and a few others are mining. I guess since the steam engine has gained so much favor that stages are obsolete. Newspapers have never been lucrative either. Every so often you'll hear a boom and see one of the mountains rise in a puff of dust. I can only hope that one day they will make a mistake and bury this hellhole.'

'Is it really that bad you ask? I'll answer in two very descriptive words: Hell yeah! No action, just stupidity. I can't wait for the next bad guy to stroll along. Either that or the government will realize that maybe they do need Kenshin's help again.'

'Look on the bright side you say? Well, you tell me then. I'm stuck with a man who can barely breath without his wife's permission, he's so whipped. His wife is a wisp of an adolescent girl with a temper befitting an elephant. My alter ego's best friend has nothing going for him but an early grave and is going out with a weasel. My rival has settled into family life, although he's still sharp as ever. My alter ego's son is an absolute horror, taking after his mother and everyone she was ever related to. I have to put up with the rest of this sad town as well as Hiko. Well, the latter is not all bad. Not after what I have planned tonight. Still think it's great? Have a fun time in the land of bunnies and straight jackets. I live in reality baby.'

'Take some mind altering drugs why don't you? Anyway, the dinner is winding down. No one has died yet, a pity. The cooking might actually have been considered edible. After five years of cooking lessons you'd think the chick could get it right. How hard is it to make mash potatoes? Don't answer that.'

'Shitfire, you'd think that Kenshin could do something, anything, to keep in shape! He's going to get fat and lazy. One fine day fate is going to feel like having some fun and bite him in the ass! I can't get his body if he dies on me.'

'Oh, now we get to the good stuff. I hope Kenny isn't feeling amorous tonight, because I've used enough sleeping powder to take out several weasels. Those two act so… ugh! At least it's down to twice a week. At first the two were making up for that half year of hesitation and were humping like rabbits. I generally try to meditate, but I really could use some tips. If they weren't so damn loud…'

'Oh, nope, too bad Kenny. She's going out like a light, no pleasure for you. And no rest either.'

'You see, he doesn't know this so you better not tell, but I can control his body when he's asleep. The ultimate form of sleepwalking! I don't do it often. One time, I was in the middle of… well, none of your business. Let's just say the recipient wouldn't be happy when they woke up. I was almost done when that red haired brat popped up! He was all sleepy and,' Shudder, 'Cute. There was a stuff critter of some sort clutched in his hand and his fist was rubbing his big violet eye.'

'What did I do you ask? Well, I conked him over the head and hid the body. Hey, I'm not so low as to kill a defenseless kid. Even if the brats do carry germs and are nothing but trouble. It seems you people have totally the wrong idea about me. Well, it will take Kenshin a bit to fall asleep. He has to repent every night. Ridicules. So I will tell you.'

'Sure I don't mind violence and occasionally implement it to achieve an end, but that's all it is! A tool. So are people, but I'll get that. This world is so complex and stupid people rule the world. I'm serious. It's up to people like me. The ones who see the world for what it is without trappings. The ones who love to read and learn from history's pitiful mistakes, the ones who could make some good changes. Now, I could do all that. Really. If Kenshin would let me.'

'First thing I would do as president of the United States would be to get rid of that pathetic Democratic system. It serves no true purpose or justice. President is just another word for King. I promise you that. The checks and balances system? Utter bullshit. I would implement a stronger system with appropriate punishments to suit the crimes. An eye for an eye. An excellent ancient law.'

'What do you mean, have I broken any laws? Of course I have. Numerous times. Part of the purpose of rules is to know them enough to bend, or even break them. The other part? Not getting caught. What did you expect? There are two types of people: the sheep and the shepherds. As one of the latter I feel it is my duty to steer my flock towards order.'

'Don't look at me like that. I know, I know. I've given the impression of being cold, cruel, sadistic, sardonic, cynical, and heartless. I'm seen as a man who lusts only for power and blood and sex. Let me dispel some of that for you. I'm not a cardboard cut out. I have feelings, opinions, and unique ways. Not that I'd let Kenshin know of course. Since this is his story, or was should I say, you only got to see one side of me.'

'I was birthed by war and circumstance. Blood and gore is of no consequence to me. Why should it be? My flesh was carved from that of others and my bones created of those that lay discarded on the battlefield. My morals were taken from that of those around me and my integrity was forged from the metal and gunpowder. Don't get me wrong, senseless violence is hardly worth it. People always have ulterior motives. It is the nature of a human. Some are better than others.'

'Power is definitely something I lust for. I'm no doormat. I take what is mine by right and God help whoever gets in my way. I'm not above swatting insects if they become tiresome enough. The thing is, those idiots, the ones that drool over power. They have no idea what it entails. I may seem harsh, but I'm general fair. When I'm not heckling Kenshin anyway. He shouldn't take the things I say to heart.'

'Lastly, I'm not the sex fiend that I pretend to be. Flirting and playing is one thing. Hell, even recreational sex is fine. After all, what else can you do once the sun goes down? Candle and lamps are all fine and good, but they can get rather expensive for a long haul. Deep, meaningful love making? Not happening for me. Especially not with horse girl. So what if I'm not above making lewd comments and noticing what a woman's got. I am a guy after all. An yes, all my parts are there and in working order.'

'Oh good, are you satisfied? Okay, so maybe I'm all the things I was accused of to a degree. But without intelligence it gets me nowhere.'

'Easy does it now. You need to shut up for a moment. Yes, I'm going to allow you guys to accompany me. I know you are either for or against Hiko. Try to put that all aside and just enjoy the beauty of the night. I planned long and hard for this moment so don't screw it up for me or I might consider you a bug.'

'All done. Kenshin won't wake up until morning and when Hiko comes storming in he'll be properly clueless. I can't wait!'

'So you won't be startled, I had to get some help for this. It involved a lot of puppet mastering but I wrangled Katsu and Saitoh in. Did you know that Katsu is a cousin of Tokio and Hiko? Amazing isn't it. Then again, this is a small town everyone is related somehow. He's providing a few fireworks. I think it was because of that crack Hiko made on him in the con man's office. It's Saitoh's job to get the man out. Kenshin would know it was me if he turned up dead from smoke inhalation. Just as I can make his life a misery he can make mine hell. It works both ways.'

'Here goes. Even if he's a puffed up windbag, Hiko does have some serious skill in detecting and dealing with intruders. Like a donkey or a goose or something I guess. Okay, so the roach did his mission properly. I guess I could count on that. Warrior's respect and all.'

'I'll just put this pretty blue firecracker here and this red one there. Add some white and you'll have the American flag. How lovely. I just have to make sure I'm clear when the fuses blow and the house learns to fly. If I get so much as one scratch Kenshin can link me.'

'Okay, no, don't stand there people. You want to die by dismemberment? That's right, back it up a few yards. Who knows the potency of those suckers. Katsu always did things right. There is no such thing as overkill.'


'See? A grand show! Oops. Here comes Saitoh and Hiko. Better hide. Here, follow me. I'll get us some front row seats to the blow out. If Saitoh hadn't wanted to get the man back so badly he might have thought this through a bit more before jumping in. Oh well, he'll survive… maybe.'

"What is the meaning of this? You come and rudely knock on my door in the middle of the night. Then when I step out my house blows up! You really are rotten and no good. I can't believe my sister insists on staying with you. You're better off in a well, with a bullet between the eyes! I see how you could be jealous of me having her affection, but I am the better man!" Hiko ranted, "And now I have to stay at your place."

'Hehe, damn straight. Can't say I didn't plan it.'

"Absolutely not. Stay with Battousai, he set this up."

"My stupid student couldn't organize a flea circus. If he is involved it's because he foolishly listened to a plan you proposed!"

'Yeah, like Kenshin would listen to Saitoh if he suggested something like this? Yeah right! He thinks the man is a God. All the more reason for me to peg him.'

'The two disappear into the night and I swear the only way it could get better is if Hiko manages to convince Tokio that Kenshin was involved. Then she's blame Saitoh for dragging him in. All in all it's been a good night. Hiko's shack is again demolished, we got a lovely firework presentation, Saitoh realized he's been duped, Hiko has to live with them, Kenshin will be blamed by both Hiko and Saitoh for something he didn't do, and best of all? You good readers have heard my side of the story. What are you still standing around for? Shoo! I bid you farewell and ado. I have to return my rental body before it's missed.'

A/N: That's it ;__; You know what amuses me most? I was watching 2 Fast, 2 Furious when I thought Saitoh would look good as a cowboy O__O Those were the origins of this fic. Proving that random thoughts are dangerous! Look, it only took me a forth of a year to finish 150+ pages *gulp* I had so much fun with this epilogue, you people have NO idea! It was even more fun than Aoshi's mediation of the family matters ^_____________^ That was my crack at the current gov't of the USA. As you can tell, I'm not pro-Bush (he's an a-hole to put it in the words of my family). But, MissBehavin there's your revenge on Hiko, you know I couldn't let him get off scot-free. On a lighter note (or darker for me, more work), Responsiblities' sequel [Strays] is *finally* being posted! And of course I'll keep going on BSR. I've also started another one called Shoulder Angels, but I may not post it O__O;;

fyyrrose: Have a nice week so far? It's been boring on this end, but I imagine you're doing everything in your power to make your life interesting (your poor family and classmates). Here's a plus. Friday night I was in a "mood". I listened to country for three hours straight, read a fic called Cabana Boy, played neopets, and wrote on Shoulder Angels. Hoji wasn't quite so lucky as you ^_____^ Now I'm the one hiding O__O Alex is coming over for cooking lessons. She's not as bad as Kaoru, but I told G-ma I'd be up in my room studying psychology and if the kitchen explodes come tell me.

Shihali: Wow, people do read my blurbs O__o The title is "Hell-bent" and the author is Kagato Akara. It's in the crossover section [R]. Hope that helps and enjoy reading it! It's long, just warning you.

lady mistress: ^^; I'm not sure how much of a western it turned out.

MissBehavin: Hehe, not really. As you can tell, he's a good "man" underneath it *coughrighthack*. Let's just say when you live with your alter ego 24/7, you want them happy. It could get messy otherwise. Tsk tsk, so harsh *grins* Apparently this has never been a problem for you, but Kenny's afraid of commitment. Living near Hiko and Saitoh, not to mention everyone else, would be pain, but I don't think he minds overly much. Fyyrrose wanted more screen time for him[Seta] O.o I'm such a pushover. Se-qu-el... O__O *starts backing away* On what pray tell? *switches subjects* Or a Saitoh in a frilly pink apron? *look of terror* It burns, it burns! The bleach, I need some mind bleach!

Wistful-Eyes: LOL! I've not heard that term since I was teasing my brother with the word kuso (don't ask). Aoshi had to do something, but it makes you wonder if Saitoh knew anyway.