Author-chan's notes: Hey everyone! Chapter 27 here! I was rather shocked that no one guessed that Akimoto was actually female…I'm used to my "surprises" being kind of obvious. (I have mastered the jutsu of "Foreshadowing with a Sledgehammer"! Muhahahahahahaha!)
I have been told that the way Kenji screamed when he found Hiko's body was girly. Well, in martial arts, "KYAA!" can also be used as a yell in an attack/block, though I will admit, "KYAA!" is normally seen being used by girls in manga…Err, Kenji's a girly martial artist? Gets whapped by Kenji's sakabatou. Oro…X.X
'thoughts that can only be heard by thinker, a.k.a. private thoughts'
/thoughts that can be heard by thinker and spirits, a.k.a. telepathy/
qpqpqpqp indicates scene/time change
Like Father Like Son
(Chapter Twenty-seven: Yakuza)
Myojin Shinya wandered through the streets of Kyoto before slipping into a shady little store. Yesterday, Shinya had discovered the small shop when he was venting his rage against his father. The store was a front to Kyoto's thriving black market, selling everything from tiger livers to illegal weaponry. If anyone could tell him about the sakabatou, they would be in this store.
Shinya entered the shop, searching around for the storekeeper he had met the other day.
"Hello again," a whispery voice rasped out, as a hunched form appeared behind the store's counter.
"Oji-sama," Shinya nodded to the old man politely, knowing better than to be rude. This man helped run the black-market, and likely had contacts with the local yakuza. Shinya wasn't stupid enough to cross the yakuza.
"Well, boy, are you going to buy something from me this time?" the old man asked, before spying the long shape of the sakabatou, "Or are you here to sell?"
"I'm here for information," Shinya replied stiffly, laying the sword on the counter.
"This the sword you told me about before?" the old man asked, "The one your father wouldn't allow you to fight for?"
"Young people these days," the old man sighed, "No respect. But I'll give you what you want…for a fee."
"I'll pay," Shinya shrugged, knowing he could just send the bill over to the Aoiya.
"Very well," the old man nodded before unsheathing the sword. His bushy eyebrows shot up once he got a good look at the blade, "Sakabatou?"
"Quite rare," the old man muttered to himself, "Not many would make something like this and fewer would buy. But among art collectors, it would fetch a fair price since it's so uncommon. Despite its uselessness, it's good quality. Do you know when it was made?"
Shinya shrugged, "According to my sensei, it belonged to his father. So, maybe around the Bakumatsu?"
"That's very likely," the old man nodded, turning the sword over in his hands, testing the reversed edge with a thumb then hissing in pain, his eyes widening in respect. "Who made this steel?"
"A fine edge on that blade," the man murmured, more to himself, "And good steel too. This sword was made by a master, most certainly."
"But which one?" Shinya asked, fully interested. He knew the sakabatou was mysterious, but even so…
"Which one indeed," the old man chuckled, "If this sword was indeed made in the Bakumatsu, there were very few sword-smiths who would bother making it. This sword was made to be harmless. During those turbulent times, most sword-smiths strove to make their blades more deadly, not the other way around!"
While he had been speaking, the old shopkeeper had been disassembling the hilt carefully to look for any sort of marking on the blade. Once the hilt was placed aside, what met his and Shinya's eyes was not a maker's mark but a poem engraved on the blade.
I have trained countless blades.
My son reviles
But for my grandson,
"Nani?" Shinya blinked. The shopkeeper carefully turned over the blade to see a maker's mark engraved into the blade.
"Arai Shakku…" the old man whispered, his eyes wide as he recognized the mark.
"Eh?" Shinya blinked again, "Who is that?"
"One of the most famous sword-smiths of the Bakumatsu," the old man replied reverently, "He was a bit of a rebel, you might say. He created swords that not only cut, but excelled at killing. A strike from any one of his swords was devastating. Some of the most famous killers of the Bakumatsu cared his blades, including Hitokiri Battousai."
"You've never heard of him?" the old man asked, astonished.
"I've heard of him," Shinya assured the old man, "But only briefly. My family and my sensei disliked hearing the stories of Battousai. Used to mutter that the tales were all wrong."
"Not surprising," the old man nodded, "Battousai was a demon, a nightmare. Even nowadays, people are afraid to mention his name."
"So Arai Shakku made the sakabatou, and yet he also made the swords for legendary killers," Shinya muttered, "What a paradox."
"Hn," the old man agreed, looking down at the sword between the two of them, "I think I know what this sword is all about. Rumor has it that Arai-sama was so ashamed of what he did for a living that his last creation was supposed to be the exact opposite of his earlier works."
"In other words a sakabatou," Shinya nodded, "That makes sense."
"Not just a sakabatou," the old man snorted, "Arai-sama's killing swords were not just bloody blades, but cursed ones as well. After all, they were in the hands of insane killers and were bathed in the blood of hundreds. In contrast, Arai-sama's last work was rumored to be a holy sword and placed into a temple."
"Then the sakabatou is not Arai's last work?" Shinya blinked.
"I wouldn't say that," the old man snorted, "You know how they make a holy sword, right? The sword-smith creates at least two swords. The best of those swords is given to the gods. The lesser swords are either given away or squirreled away."
"So this is a lesser sword?" Shinya concluded.
The old man snorted, "Not so hasty boy, I'm not done yet. According to rumor, Arai-sama made only one copy of his final work, which was given away to one of his customers. Of course, his final work was placed in the temple. However, they say that Arai-sama never expected the sword to stay in the temple forever. He told the man he gave the inferior sword to come back if ever the inferior sword was to break. Arai-sama planned to give the god-sword to that man once the other sword had broken."
"Isn't that a slight to the kami?" Shinya asked, stunned.
"You would think," the old man agreed, "Anyway, a few years after Arai-sama's death, the sword he had given to the temple mysteriously disappeared. When his son, Seiku, was questioned about the god-sword's whereabouts, the boy simply replied that it went with who his father wished it to go."
"In other words, the man who Arai gave the inferior sword to," Shinya realized, his eyes wide, "Does this mean…"
"It could," the shopkeeper nodded, "There's only one way to be sure; Arai-sama gave the sword to one of his customers. Most likely a Choshu Ishin Shishi patriot. Maybe even a hitokiri. You said your sensei's father was the original owner of this sword?"
"Aa," Shinya answered, "But an Ishin Shishi? Impossible. I've been told that my sensei's father was the gentlest person, hence why he carried a sakabatou to avoid killing. My sensei abhors war; his father, more so. My sensei's father would have never participated in the war as an Ishin Shishi soldier, much less a hitokiri! You must kill in war, and he never killed. Heaven forbid if the name Himura ever was connected to a murder!"
"Hi-Himura?" the old man whispered, his lined face pale.
"Yeah, Himura," Shinya nodded, "That is my sensei's family name."
"Himura…" the old man whispered, his face paling further, "In my hands…Himura's sword?"
"Tell me does your sensei look like his father?" the old man demanded.
"From what I've been told," the young kendo student nodded, "Himura-sensei strongly resembles his father, right down to the red hair."
"Red hair…" the old man whispered, his hands shaking as he reassembled the sword's hilt, "Then there is no mistake. This is the last work of Arai Shakku-sama."
"Eh?" Shinya blinked, before a greedy look came over his face, "How much is the sakabatou worth then?"
"It's priceless," the old man whispered, "Especially considering its history…"
"Good!" Shinya replied, an unholy look of glee on his face, as an idea of payback against his sensei and his father blossomed in his mind, "Hey, Oji-sama, can I sell this to you?"
"NO!" the old man shouted, all but thrusting the sword back to Shinya, "That sword…it was made by Arai-sama, used by Himura…"
"What does that have to do with anything?" Shinya snorted.
"That sword is cursed!" the old man howled in accusation, "It rivals even the famed Muramasa!"
"That can't be," Shinya shook his head, "It's only a sakabatou…"
"It is weighted with guilt!"
"I—" Shinya protested, before looking down at the sword.
'It, it is unnaturally heavy,' Shinya admitted to himself, 'And Himura-sensei did mention something about his father always looking for atonement. But that wouldn't make the sakabatou cursed, would it?'
"If you want to sell that sword, see Hamano Genji of the yakuza," the old man huffed, his eyes still wide in shock, "He's the only one in miles willing to buy a sword such as that."
Kyoto: HQ of Hamano Genji, yakuza
Genji sneered down at the three forms before him. After capturing them, Genji had his men tie up Yukishiro, Akimoto, and the Himura brat and drag them down to headquarters. It had been several hours since then, and the three of them were currently under the scrutiny of the yakuza boss, each of them tied to individual stakes and locked up in an underground room.
"What am I going to do with you?" Genji sighed mockingly, "Such naughty children should be punished."
Kenshin and Enishi choked at being called children while Akimoto simply glared.
"Anyway," Genji shrugged, "you all are going to stay down here for quite awhile."
"There's more to it than that," Enishi growled.
"Of course," Genji smiled, "I'll be setting up the arrangements for your…punishments. Sachiko-san, dear, I believe you already know what's going to happen to you. Your mother would be so 'proud' to have you following in her…profession."
"Bastard!" Akimoto snarled, forgetting her normally cool demeanor, "And no one is allowed to call me Sachiko!"
"Then perhaps Sachi-chan?" Genji grinned evilly, "That's very cute. Unless you simply want to be called whore…"
"Genji!" Enishi and Kenshin snarled, both of their faces speaking of outrage.
"Don't worry, boys," Genji laughed, "You'll have your turn to be punished too. Now lets see, Himura Kenichi…I remember you. You were a very annoying brat as a baby."
"What do you want, Genji?" Kenshin asked, his eyes narrowed.
"Several things," Genji grinned, "Thanks to your father, I haven't been able to walk without a limp for nine years. You, my dear little child, will be bait for my trap. No doubt that your father would come looking for you, but his little rescue mission will be cut prematurely short. A swordsman, no matter how skilled, can be crushed with enough numbers, especially since your father uses that silly sword style that 'protects the weak'."
"O-Otou," Kenshin whispered, his violet eyes wide.
"And that's not even the half of it!" Genji laughed cruelly, "Yes, having your dead father at my feet will only be a mere appetizer."
"Don't you dare harm Otou-san!" Kenshin snarled, golden eyes glaring at Genji as his protective nature roared to life, "People have died for lesser sins than you are willing to commit!"
"Perhaps," Genji chuckled, unfazed by the angry child as he knelt down in front of Kenshin and grabbed a handful of flame red locks painfully to jerk the pale face to meet his, "Cute trick with the eyes, kid. I suppose the rumors are true then; your family is descended from the legendary Hitokiri Battousai."
"Scared, Genji?" Battousai hissed, golden eyes boring into the yakuza boss'.
"Never," Genji smirked back, "I've met more horrifying shades than that of Battousai."
"Your buyer, for example," Genji leaned close to whisper into the boy's ear, "Even if Kenji was to somehow get past my trap to you, you won't be here. Within minutes of you coming here, one of my clients offered to buy you. After all, slavery isn't illegal in the black market."
"You wouldn't!" Kenshin cried, as his mind flew back to the past, to his first childhood, remembering the chains, the whip of the slaver, and the cries of the dying women, "Do you have any idea?"
"I'm a business man," Genji shrugged, "While it is fun and all to get my revenge on Himura Kenji after all these years, it's not as important as making money and building my empire."
"Shut it brat," Genji hissed, emphasizing his order with a sharp tug to crimson locks. Without a word, he pulled out a knife and cut a lock of that red hair and stuffed it away. Then he turned to Enishi.
"Don't think that just because you are older, that you won't be punished," Genji mock scolded, "Your defiance of me will be your last mistake, old man."
"Do tell," Enishi growled.
"Execution," Genji stated smugly, "Don't worry, White Tiger, it'll be very painful."
"Are you even human?" Akimoto hissed coldly, her reddish eyes narrowed to burn like flames, "Would even hell take your damn soul?"
"Who knows?" Genji laughed, the sounds of his chuckles echoing throughout the room, "Well then, children, I shall leave you."
And with that, Genji exited, make sure to lock the western style door shut. Soon, the three locked inside couldn't even hear the footsteps. They were alone.
"What are we going to do, Yukishiro-sama?" Akimoto asked as she leaned against her stake. Even if they could open the locked door, they were all still lashed to those poles, and none of them could reach the other to untie each other's bonds.
"We are going to get out of here, de gozaru," the calm tone of the Rurouni answered.
Then, to the shock of both Enishi and Akimoto, Kenshin stood up, the ropes that bound him falling away with ease.
"H-How?" Enishi blinked. Kenshin chuckled and rubbed sore wrists as he went over to untie Enishi.
"Dislocated your wrists," Akimoto realized with a blink of understanding.
"Old trick from the Bakumatsu," Kenshin shrugged as he finished untying Enishi and started to work on Akimoto, "One of the few useful things…"
"Impressive," Akimoto smiled as her bonds fell loose. She looked over to Kenshin, who was blushing as red as his hair.
"Anou, Akimoto-dono?" Kenshin coughed as he averted his eyes, "Please fix your yukata, de gozaru yo."
"Eh?" Akimoto blinked, looking down. She flushed red when she realized that after Genji's fondling and the rough handling she got when getting tied up, her clothes were opening up enough to be revealing.
"T-Thank you," Akimoto blushed as she hastily fixed her outfit. When she looked up again, she noticed a very serious Enishi staring at her face.
"Why didn't you tell me?" Enishi asked quietly.
"I did not think it was important," Akimoto lied.
"You should have told me," Enishi muttered, "I wouldn't have sent you on such dangerous missions if you had told me."
"In case you have forgotten, Yukishiro-sama," Akimoto said stiffly, "I chose to do what I did. I have no regrets. Serving you to the best of my ability is what makes me happy, Yukishiro-sama."
"We can worry about this later, Yukishiro-sama," Akimoto reminded her boss, "We need to find a way out of here."
"The door's locked," Enishi reminded her, "And we don't have anything to pick the lock, unless you're hiding a hairpin."
"Oro?" Kenshin blinked as he lifted his sleeves. He was still wearing the oversized western shirt from that morning, the one Enishi had pinned back. The others blinked in shock.
"Himura!" Enishi grinned, picking up his miniaturized brother-in-law and twirling him around like a kid.
It seemed like all the ghosts from the Bakumatsu (plus a few from the Meiji Era) were trying to kill Hideki. Hideki, being the stoic ninja he was, took it like man, without any cries of pain or for mercy.
Though he was considering it since the shrieks in his ears were getting rather annoying.
At the moment, Kaoru was strangling the poor ninja. Kaito and Takumi had stolen all of Hideki's weaponry (including his prized chain swords), and a few of the Shinsengumi, Mimiwarigumi, and Ishin Shishi put aside their differences and started taking turns stabbing the ninja in the back.
Obviously, they were all very angry that Hideki decided not to tell them about Shinigami's plan to make Kenshin an active hitokiri again.
While the ghosts found out that Battousai had sliced Hideki in half vertically (to quote Kaito: "So THAT'S why he never shows off his battle wounds) and were trying to pull the two halves of his body apart to torture him some more, a new ghost wandered over to the Aoiya rooftop unseen.
"Please don't touch that," Hideki sighed calmly as Katsura Kogoro, leader of the Choshu Ishin Shishi, put a hand into the wound in Hideki's chest that was slowly lengthening as the ninja was torn in two different directions by other ghosts.
"How dare you be so calm!" Kaoru snarled as she pulled out her trusty bokken to whap Hideki over the head.
"Perhaps we should let Kaoru-san finish this, eh?" Katsura suggested to the other ghosts.
"But I wanted to use my sandantsuki on him," Okita Souji pouted as he sheathed his sword.
"Let him use the technique, Katsura-sama," one of the Ishin Shishi ghosts suggested, "It's very painful."
"And how would you know?"
"Okita-san, this is not the first time we met."
"Oh," there were a few blinks, and a tint of a blush, "Anou, gomen…"
"AHEM?" a loud voice interrupted the ghosts.
Slowly, one by one, the ghosts faced the caped figure standing on the roof with them.
"SHIMATTA, IS THAT?.!"
"DAMN IT HIDEKI, WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL US ABOUT THIS?.!"
"I did, ahou."
"Will you all stop squabbling like little kids?" the new figure sighed.
"You're Hiko Seijuuro!" several of the ghosts yelped.
"The Thirteenth!" another ghost added, "Cause, you know, all the other Hiko Seijuuros are dead already…"
"Damn," Kaito whistled, "When did you die, Hiko-san?"
"Who the hell are you?" Hiko asked, his eyebrow twitching. Hiko was pretty sure he was a hermit. How the hell did all these people get to know him? Sure his supreme skill with the sword was famous, but still…
"Ah, Hiko-san!" Kaoru cried out, pushing her way forward.
"Tanuki-chan?" Hiko raised an eyebrow with a smirk, "It's been awhile."
"You're dead," Kaoru blinked, noticing the very prominent slash wound on Hiko's stomach.
"Same to you," Hiko snorted as he sat down and began drinking sake.
"Sake!" Kaito drooled, a stupid expression crossing his features. Takumi sighed. Kaito could get drunk just by looking at alcohol.
"Shouldn't that be leaking out of your stomach?" Kaoru asked, knowing that was the case with Takumi who was also slashed in the stomach.
"Only if he wants it to," Takumi shrugged, "The laws of reality don't apply to ghosts. I like the taste of sake, but I'd rather not get drunk like Kaito-ahou, so I just let it seep through my wounds."
"That makes sense," Kaoru nodded, "Explains how Kaito gets drunk all the time even though his neck isn't connected to his body."
"So what the hell is going on?" Hiko interrupted, "Unless nothing is going on and you are all just acting like idiots."
For a moment, the ghosts were silent. Kaito opened his mouth to respond, but Takumi simply kicked him off the roof before he could say anything embossing.
"Um, well," Takumi coughed to break the silence, "Hiko-sama, we all know you care very deeply for Himura-kun…"
"Says who?" Hiko snorted
"We've been dead for a very long time, Hiko-san," Katsura chuckled, "In the Afterlife, there's not much to do…"
"So once we all decided to go on a fieldtrip and find out about Himura-san's life outside of the Bakumatsu," Okita put in, "It was very interesting…The Spirit World Library even has these film reels of people's lives. So we know that in the inside you're all tender…"
"You're making him sound like cooked meat, Okita-san," Katsura murmured.
"I suppose you're right," Okita sighed, giving up to the Choshu commander before smiling brightly, "But he does look like raw meat!"
"Oi!" Hiko growled.
"So how did you die?" Kaoru interrupted before the conversation could deteriorate further, "It was not your illness…"
"What an obvious observation, tanuki," Hiko snorted, ignoring Kaoru's fuming, "Shinigami-sama told me to come over here. I'm supposed to officially announce myself as a member of the PBKB Club."
"NANI?.!" came the chorus of ghostly voices.
"T-That's not possible!" Kaito sputtered, "No one's joined the PBKB since Toba Fushimi! And Hiko-san can't join! Battou-kun wouldn't kill him, right?"
"He feels like a PBKB member," Takumi pointed out, "And I can recognize battoujutsu wound when I see one."
"Kami-sama," Kaito whispered, "Do you know what this means, Takumi?"
"The bloody rain has come back to Kyoto," Hideki answered.
"Not just that," Kaito said shocked. Then suddenly a bright smile stretched its way over his face, "WELCOMING PARTY! BRING OUT THE SAKE! AND MOCHI FOR EVERYONE!"
"You got to be kidding me," Kaoru deadpanned as most of the ghosts around her broke out into a cheer.
Kaoru sighed and turned away from the others who had just started bringing out the sake. The bad feeling in her gut seemed to multiply as she let her worry wash over her.
'Anata, please, be alright…'
Kyoto Police Station
Chou and Sai groaned almost simultaneously. They had gone to work when they had come up with nothing on the search for Kenichi or Shinya. They did, however, asked (read: threatened) a few other officers to go off and look for Kenichi or Shinya in the meantime.
The duo from Tokyo were still trying to find hints on what Genji was up to, but so far, there were no breaks. Boredom was quickly descending upon them, and when ex-criminals got bored, bad things tended to follow (read: explosions, sharp pointy objects, and many moving targets/police officers). Luckily, for sanity of the police station, new information game barging in.
"Lieutenant Chou! Officer Sai!" a shout cried, just as the door banged open and a young police officer hurtled inside.
"Oi!" Chou growled, "What do ya think yer doing?"
"In-Information, sir!" the officer panted, saluting smartly, "We captured one of Hamano Genji's men. He was carrying a letter."
"Where is it?" Sai asked. The Kyoto officer pulled out a slip of paper and offered it up.
"Leave," Chou barked. With another salute, the officer disappeared.
"What's it say?" Chou asked, looking over his assistant's shoulder.
"It's addressed to Red," Sai blinked, handing over the paper.
The restaurant Yuki.
The stakes are high.
Blinking a bit, Sai unfolded the last crease on the bottom of the paper, hoping there would be more to the message. To his surprise, something light and feathery fell out.
A lock of red hair.
"Shimatta!" Chou whispered as he picked up the hair, "Himura-han is gonna flip…"
"That stupid bastard," Sai whispered, "Challenging Red like that. There won't be any mercy. We should head back and tell him about this. Knowing Red, he'll kill us if we don't tell him."
"Aa," Chou nodded, "I got a back up plan too. Knowing Genji, he'll have somethin' up his sleeve."
Kenji stumbled into the Aoiya, completely dazed and confused. His mind was reconfiguring the world he had known, over and over again. Kami, ghosts, death…
"This is not happening," Kenji groaned as he quickly sat down at one of the tables of the Aoiya.
Kenji looked up to see Chizuru standing across from him. Seeing her husband's stressed features, she simply sat down and wrapped her arms around him, crooning to him softly.
"Don't worry, anata," Chizuru murmured, stroking his hair, "We'll find them. They'll be alright."
"Hiko-sensei is dead," Kenji deadpanned.
"Anata!" Chizuru whispered, drawing away slightly, her eyes wide, "He…today? On top of everything else?"
"Hai," Kenji answered gloomily, his eyes haunted.
"It was his time," Chizuru murmured.
"He was murdered, Chizuru!" Kenji cried out, unwrapping himself from her embrace and standing up, "It was not his time! Someone killed him! Tore open his stomach with a katana and then had the nerve to cover him as if they cared! I had to bury him myself!"
"Kenji," Chizuru whispered, as she grabbed his hands. The pale hands were dirty, bloody, and slightly scratched. However, the scratches on his hands couldn't account for all the blood. The crimson liquid even stained his clothes. Chizuru was surprised she didn't realize it before.
"I can't," Kenji whispered, closing his eyes and leaning against her, "I can't do this anymore. I don't understand anything. Tell me what's happening, onegai."
"It'll get better," Chizuru whispered, kissing him softly, "The others went out to look for Kenichi and Shinya. Chou-san and Sai-san went to the police station. Just rest, anata."
"Sssh," Chizuru murmured softly, gently kissing her husband. Slowly she traveled down his cheek and placed butterfly kisses around his throat, making him purr softly. Chizuru just smiled against his neck and pulled out his hair tie, letting the crimson silk flutter all around her. Just as her attentions to him became fiercer, someone barged in.
"OI, RED!" Sai yelled as he entered the Aoiya, "I think I —OH CHIKUSO!"
Sai stared at the scene he had obviously interrupted. Chizuru and Kenji were in each other's arms. Chizuru had her lips firmly on Kenji's throat (Sai could see that there were already a few red love-bites on the swordsman's pale skin) and Kenji's hands were poised over Chizuru's complicated obi.
"Oi, Sai-ahou!" Chou yelled as he two entered the room, "What's taking ya —Oh damn."
"Oro," Kenji sighed as he and his wife broke up, both of them flushing madly at being caught.
"Um, aw, Shimatta," Chou cursed as he tried not to stare at the red marks on Kenji's throat.
"We have a lead on Kenichi," Sai coughed, trying to ignore the awkwardness that was dispensed around the room.
"Tell me everything," Kenji said determinedly as turned to face the two officers.
"It's not good," Sai sighed as he handed over Genji's letter to the redhead.
Sai could feel the tension around Kenji as he read the letter and fingered the downy lock of hair that accompanied it. He tried not to step back in fear as he watched the redhead's frame shake in rage. He had always known that Kenji was strong, but the red-haired swordsman had never been so frightening.
"Lieutenant," Kenji murmured in a calm voice.
"Yea, Himura-han?" Chou blinked.
"Anata, please, what's going on?.!" Chizuru cried out. Kenji ignored her.
"GIVE ME A KATANA, DAMN IT!" Kenji roared, snapping his head up to glare at the police officers.
For the first time in his life, Kenji's eyes were not the blue of his mother's. Hot rage had drenched them with amber fire.
Author-chan's notes: So here's chapter 27! A-chan is wondering when did Genji become such a slimy bastard. Sure he was bad before, but not as much as the past two or three chapters.
Yes, I flinched Arai Shakku's poem straight from the manga. (Don't hurt me please!) As for Battousai being one of Arai's customers, we never knew who made his katana, and he and Arai did know each other. And obviously Arai knows how to make regular katana, not just his special masterpieces. So we can assume (or pretend) that the katana Kenshin used during the Bakumatsu was made by Arai Shakku.
Kenji's going psycho! It seems to me that Genji always makes Kenji go psycho…I mean the last time Genji was in the story, Kenji almost went on a killing spree and the only way he was stopped was because he was using a bokken…no bokken this time. Oops!
Will Kenji go crazy and kill everyone? Will Shinya actually sell the sakabatou to Genji? Will Kenshin, Enishi, and Akimoto escape from Genji's clutches? Will the PBKB ever stop partying?
Omake next! (Inspired by Shirou Shinjin's parody Out of Time Chapters 27½ and 27¾. If you haven't read it, or SiriusFan13's Out of Time do so now! And, Shirou Shinjin, you cannot expect me to NOT raise to the bait after having the PBKB referenced like that, my friend.)
Bad Naming (a.k.a. Rips in Time-Space/Fanfiction)
Kamiya Dojo, Meiji 36 (1903) one year earlier than current timeline
It was an ordinary day for the eight-year-old Himura Kenichi, also known as Himura Kenshin, who was actually much older than eight. Of course, according to the snickering of one Myojin Shinya, little Ken-chan looked no more than six. Luckily for Ken-chan, he had a big brother/cute grandson to bokken the idiotic Shinya. Sasuke took strongly after his grandmother. Kenshin didn't know that within a years time, he would be nine-years-old (well, he did know that part, sort of) and in Kyoto being captured by yakuza and sharing a cell with his former brother-in-law and his cross-dressing female employee. Right now, he was more concerned with making breakfast for everyone in the dojo since he was the only one who could boil water without igniting the place.
Also unknown to the red-haired former hitokiri, he was being watched. He had been trailed for quite some time, in fact, for around him was the confederation of ghosts that had made up his (long!) victim list back in the Bakumatsu.
The PBKB. The Poor Bastards Killed by Battousai.
Or at least a small group of them, since there were too many to have all of them tracking the young boy 24/7. The group who had been assigned to watch Kenshin on that day consisted of one Kiyosato Akira, one Sakurazawa Takumi, one Hideki, and one Nakamura Kaito. Luckily there was only one of Kaito. Heaven forbid if there was a second one. Takumi had prayed to every god in existence that Kaito had died before he had reproduced, or else the world would have been eternally doomed (or at least, constantly annoyed). Now, only Takumi and the rest of the PBKB were eternally doomed (or at least annoyed) by the beheaded ghost (but it was mostly Takumi).
"So, Takumi-kun, what's Battou-kun doing now?" Kaito whined, looking over to the redhead they were invisibly stalking. They were ghosts after all. If they stalked people, they would be discrete, damn it! That plus due to rules they didn't quite understand, they weren't allowed to make contact with their killer at the moment despite the fact that they had been talking with him for years now and that, due to Kenshin's status as a forced reincarnation, the invisibility trick should not have worked on him. While Kiyosato, Kaito, and Takumi were confused about this, since the rules of the Spirit World were obviously being broken, Hideki had just muttered something about a "baka A-chan, not even following her own rules" before getting jolted by a slight static charge.
"You have eyes too, you know," Kiyosato sighed, "You're not like Inoue-kun. He was the one who got slashed across the eyes then stabbed in the throat."
"…Good point," Kaito sighed, looking back to the ghosts' red-haired charge, "Hey, is Battou-kun making usagi-onigiri? Battou-kun's usagi-onigiri are the best! I want some!"
"Idiot, you're dead," Takumi deadpanned, "You can't eat."
"Can too!" Kaito protested, "I eat all the time!"
"That's Spirit Food, Kaito-kun," Kiyosato sighed, "That's different than real food."
"Spirit Food, bah," Kaito snorted, "Who came up with a lame name like that? It's as bad as 'Spirit Focus' and 'Spirit World'. Very lame."
"Don't look at me," Takumi grumbled, "I just work here, I don't make up names or anything like that."
"Then who does?" Kaito asked.
"I believe they are called fanfic authors," Hideki intoned, speaking for the first time.
"Fa-nu-fi-ku?" Kaito tried (with some success) to ask.
Somewhere, in the back of Kaito's mostly unused brain, a feeling of deja vu or something similar. He had the funniest feeling that it wasn't him who was supposed to say that, but rather a different version of the living redhead in front of them was.
But there was only one Battou-kun, wasn't there?
"Fanfic authors?" Kaito tried again, this time, miraculously, able to get the pronunciation correct.
"Fanfic authors," Hideki, the secretive ninja that seemed to know much more than he let on most of the time, nodded, "They're very…disturbing. What they do is take already existing characters from already existing stories to make their own stories."
"I'll say," Takumi snorted, "They must be very stupid if they can't make their own characters or think up decent names. Uncreative, idiotic, and…"
"Oh so powerful and forgiving!" Hideki butted in, slamming a panicked hand over Takumi's mouth, "Very forgiving and kind! And not evil. Nope. Not at all. No one heard him. No one at all. Heheheheh."
"What the hell has gotten to you?" Takumi hissed, pulling Hideki's hand away.
"Shut up and grovel," Hideki hissed back, before looking up at the heavens, "I swear, he has no idea what he's saying! Don't write him out of existence!"
"Eh?" Kiyosato blinked, "You're talking like fanfic authors are kami…"
"They're worse!" Hideki whispered fearfully, completely out of character, "They can make characters do things they don't usually do. Like now, I'm all OOC…Oh kami-sama, now you've done it Takumi! The fanfic authors are mad! First I'm going all OOC, then before you know it the weather will get all bad…"
Suddenly it starts to rain.
"Oro," Kenshin blinked, surprised at the sudden rainfall, glad that he was inside the dojo.
The ghosts weren't so lucky.
"See!" the now soaking Hideki cried out, "The fanfic authors are coming to get us!"
"Rain?" Kiyosato blinked, pushing soaking bangs away from his face, "But we're ghosts! We shouldn't get wet from rain! Plus, we're inside!"
"We will if a fanfic author decides we can," Hideki muttered, "We're in a fanfic. There is no escaping their wrath…They control everything in a fanfic."
"Okay, this is getting weird," Kaito muttered, "If we're in a fanfic and a fanfic author controls everything in a fanfic, does that mean they control us?.!"
"SHIMATTA!" Kaito yelped, as he began running around in circles, "We're doomed! Our lives are not our own! Where is the free will?.!"
"Kaito, we have no lives," Takumi sighed.
"Kuso, does this mean that our names were chosen by fanfic authors?" Kiyosato asked, his eyes wide.
"Well, not yours or Himura-san's," Hideki shrugged, "Only OCs. You're not an OC. As for Takumi and Kaito…"
"You mean, my name wasn't given by my mommy?" Kaito hiccupped.
"NO FREE WILL!" Kaito wailed, and then paused before he added something, "AND BAD NAMES TOO!"
"What do you mean, bad names?.!" Takumi growled, "I do not have a bad name."
"Well, apparently, our fanfic author is very bad at naming things," Hideki shrugged, "Notice how most of the OCs' names are similar to the existing characters. Change the K in Kaito's name and you get Saito. Change the G in Genji's name and you get Kenji. Sasuke can mutilate to Sanosuke. Sai to Saito. Shou to Chou. Then there's the Spirit World, Spirit Focus, Spirit Food, etc. And I'm apparently named after a character from a sci-fi anime who is not only a complete wuss, but a pervert to boot."
Wisely, no one commented, though Kaito was very tempted to ask what anime was. It sounded interesting and he suddenly got the urge to go sparkly eyed at the word. Hideki muttered something about Chobits and Chi.
"…Then where did Takumi come from?" the disemboweled Mimiwari asked.
"A Japanese name generator," Hideki replied with an evil smirk.
"Somehow, that makes me feel very low," Takumi sighed.
"Don't worry, your family name, Sakurazawa was intentional," Hideki soothed, "I believe the Sakura part refers to an anime about a ten-year-old girl with magic who collects cards and loves pink."
Kaito giggled as he suddenly got an image of Takumi dressed in a frilly pink dress caring a bird-head wand with a stuffed animal with wings on his shoulder singing a song that went along the lines of "Catch You Catch Me".
"So all in all, we all have terrible names," Hideki shrugged, "Except for the already existing characters like Himura-san and Kiyosato-san."
"Lucky," Takumi grumbled, glaring at the all too innocent looking Kiyosato.
"Being saddled with bad names is not the worst part," Hideki soothed, "Imagine if we were in a time traveling fanfic! Time travel is so much more complicated than the paranormal. You can do anything with the paranormal, and there are mostly dead people involved, so nothing bad really happens if something goes wrong. With time travel you have to keep two timelines straight and try not to mess up the future unless you want it messed up. Some times in time travel fanfics, holes appear and then the Brown League of Temporaility Society has to come in."
Kaito blinked as a weird feeling came over him again as he was affected by another fanfic far, far away (hopefully not too far!). The beheaded ghost suddenly exclaimed, "BLTs! We shoulda gone with BLTs! That's so much better than Poor Bastards Killed by…"
Suddenly Kaito stopped, blinked again as the feeling stopped.
"Uh, guys, what was I saying? Something to do with our bad names, right? Or was it about sandwiches with vegetables and crispy bacon? Hmm…food…plush toys…food and plush toys!"
It took a moment for everyone to stop being shell-shocked by Kaito's statement.
"KUSO!" Hideki swore, "It's baka A-chan! She's messing with the story again!"
"Not my fault!" a voice from the sky muttered, "Someone else's fanfic overlapped with this one. Don't worry, it's fine. I'll e-mail them for ya, Hideki-kun."
"You better," Hideki muttered crossly. Then he was shocked by lightening.
"Fanfic author?" Takumi blinked at the electrocuted ninja.
"Fanfic author," Hideki coughed, "See why you don't get on their bad side?"
"Hey, Hideki," Kaito blinked, recovering from his strange experience, "How do you know about this. I mean, I find it kinda weird how you know what's going on all the time and don't tell any of us right away."
"Kaito, we're in a fanfic," Hideki sighed.
"Fanfic authors control what's in a fanfic."
"I'm in the fanfic."
"Ahou," Hideki sighed, before looking over to Kenshin, "Look, Himura is finished with his onigiri. Go and ask him if he'll give you one."
"Yay!" Kaito cheered, bounding over as the PBKB turned visible to Kenshin's eyes, "Onigiri! Hey, Battou-kun, since we were almost BLTs instead of the PBKB can you give us an O-R-O?"
"Were we not just invisible to Himura-san?" Kiyosato blinked. Hideki sighed.
"I said it once, I'll say it again," the ninja sighed, "Fanfic author."
And in some twisted way, it all made sense.
Author-chan's notes: Yes, I know. Crazy ne? Several references to Shirou Shinjin's Out of Time Chapters 27½ and 27¾, so read that to make sense of some of the jokes. (Also much thanks to Shirou Shinjin for acting as my beta.) Also, there are some references to Clamp's Chobits and Card Captor Sakura.