Author Note: As usual, RK and/or its characters do not belong to me. They belong to Watsuki-san, which is why I was so very mean and put him in this story. Ahem. Do not sue, please!

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ Chapter 1: A Cataclysm ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

There must be words stronger than 'hate'.

Loathe. Loathe is a good word, It indicates a searing force within the body, a silent gnashing of teeth, a feeling so powerful it can drive a person mad.

But, even that -wasn't- quite the word that Saitou Hajime needed.

He'd indexed a whole catalogue of words which he wished to ascribe to his most notorious enemy. Seriously. He had them in a rolodex in his desk. Just waiting, waiting for the moment he would be without the proper word.

Revolting. That was a good one. Pathetic. Moronic. Delusional. Obnoxious. Weak. He liked 'weak', that one seemed to get under Himura's skin pretty well. He was low on words beginning with "B", but that was quite alright, since he could just say "Battousai" to the man and watch his eyes twitch.

Of course, he also had a rolodex for the rooster-head. Yes, Sanosuke had his own private catalogue of words. It contained only one card. "A" is for "Ahou". "A" is also for "apathetic", which is, in Saitou's opinion, how he felt towards Sano. An even worse insult than the entirety of Battousai's rolodex.

Saitou, contemplating new and extraordinarily difficult-to-pronounce words to call his nemesis, also happened to be walking. He was a very talented man. A man who could think and walk at the same time.

(Somewhere, across Japan, Misao Machimaki ran into a lamppost. "Itai!" She rubbed her head and pouted. 'Why does this always happen when I am thinking about Aoshi-sama?)

Ahem. He was walking, for he was a cop, a policeman, a flat-foot, a pig, the fuzz. He was the Law. Which, Saitou decided, was a very good thing to be, especially when you had a penchant for sniffing out crime. Sniffing out crime and then squashing it flat. Like a bug underfoot. No, more like a grapefruit underfoot, because crime was acrid like a citrus fruit, and had seeds. Or maybe more like squashing a squash, which seemed appropriate, since it was named 'squash'.

Perhaps 'squashable' could be added to the rolodex. But, no. That might give someone the idea that he'd want to -hug- Himura Battousai. And that, indeed, was something he definitely would not do, not even if Okita asked him with his dying breath, not even if Kondou-san ordered him, not even if Tokio...

Ah. Tokio. He'd completely forgotten the tofu. She'd be upset. Perhaps even upset enough to hide his cigarettes. Or, worse, she'd hide them in his soba. That was not a pleasant evening, as he recalled.

Saitou changed directions. Not morally, or idealistically, he just physically did an about face and headed back to the market. Why Tokio couldn't get her own damn tofu, he'd never know. Oh yes, he did know. She had a strange horrific fear of men with only one eye. And, it so happened that, coincidentally, the tofu vendor had his eye torn out at the battle of Toba Fushimi. Which, while tragic, did give Saitou the brief idea to be thankful that he'd survived the war without injury.

Except. Ahem. For that -one- injury. Saitou winced. If the Battousai ever knew about that, he'd have to add 'deceased' to the rolodex. And then perhaps, he'd have to step up his descriptions into full-blown phrases. Phrases like, "Dissolved in a vat of acid", or "Eaten alive by psychotic bloodthirsty koi", or even perhaps, "Scalped in front of a tanuki".

No. No one knew about -that- injury. Except, of course, for Tokio. Tokio, who currently needed tofu.

(How was he to know that Himura Kenshin -also- needed tofu right-that-moment, due to the fact that a squabble between a certain wild-haired kid and his instructor had upset the last bucket?)

"Ah, come again for the tofu, have you, Fujita-san?" The one-eyed tofu vendor named Watsuki said with a chuckle. "Tokio-san still afraid I'm going to eat her?"

"My deepest apologies, Watsuki-san, perhaps if you had drawn her into the manga, she wouldn't be so upset with you."

But, actually, Saitou said:

"Hn. Aa. The tofu."

And, just then, a voice that Saitou abhorred above all others piped up and said, "Sessha will take tofu, too, de gorazu."

Nails on a chalkboard. Or perhaps, katanas on rocks. Except, they could both cut through rocks, so lets just say perhaps, Misao on a crying jag. Really, it was even more unnerving than that. Saitou was pretty certain that the rurouni's voice could not aptly be described with any words that actually existed. He'd have to come up with new words for this. Words like "screeching-stupidity", or "seppuku-inducing-girly-warble", or even "Lost-his-testicles-in-the-Bakumatsu And-now-He's-Japan's-Most-Obnoxious-Castrato."

The last one almost made Saitou smile. Almost.

"Battousai."

"Saitou."

"Sent on errands again, I see?"

"You fare better, do you?"

"Don't tempt me, I can still haul you to jail for the night just for wearing that sakabatou, you know."

Kenshin said nothing to this, and turned his attention back to the tofu vendor, Watsuki. "How much will that be?"

Grr. Taking the high road. Damn Battousai. He was...he was sooo....

Argh. Need. Rolodex. Now.

While Kenshin was counting out the money to pay for his tofu, and Saitou was bemoaning his lack of appropriate adjectives, a cataclysm had been set into action. Actually, the cataclysm had been set into action earlier in the day when a small black cat had walked past an old woman carrying a bushel of oranges. Well, I suppose you could say that the cataclysm was set into action the moment the cat, or the women, were born, but this isn't that kind of story, and I have no time for your philosophical arguments. At any rate, she had mistaken the cat for Buddha, being as that the old woman was both completely senile and certifiably blind, and had nearly tripped over herself in an attempt to bow, causing oranges to fly everywhere. All of these were later picked up when she discovered that the benevolent Buddha had assumed the form of a small black dog. All...save one, which had rolled into a cranny at the side of the tofu vendor's shack. However, at this moment, a subtle gust of wind had dislodged the fruit, sending it on a mild downhill wobble into the path of a man who had just made a visit to the nearby knife-vendor hut. Yes. Knife vendor.

The man carrying the knives went flying into the air, a dangerous situation, since the knives -also- went flying into the air.

Himura Kenshin, and Saitou Hajime, being generally alert men, and really both good citizens, went into action. Though, you could say, that Saitou wasn't exactly a citizen, being a policemen, but why you always have to make such arguments is beyond me. Can't you just be satisfied with my explanation?

Good.

They went into action. Kenshin jumped into the air. He jumped so high that he was immediately nominated to become Japan's next entry into the Olympics as High Jumper. Once there, he caught the knives, juggled them, composed a poem about Kaoru's beauty which the Battousai within him immediately emerged and tore to shreds, did the laundry, made a prank phone call to Yukishiro Enishi and asked to speak to his sister, decided -not- to participate in Seisouhen, and then landed.

Saitou, on the other hand, lunged forward, with Gatotsu-like swiftness, intending to save the one-eyed Watsuki from the impending collapse of his hut. For, you see, the man -holding- the knives had -not- been caught by Kenshin, and he was about to land on top of the fragile tofu stand. Tossing the man out of the stand proved harder than Saitou had imagined, since, it seemed, Watsuki had put on a bit of weight since the battle of Toba Fushimi, or, perhaps, he had glued his feet to the ground. But, what really is the sense in gluing your feet to the ground? Who would do such a thing? Only, say, someone who drew manga for a living and was so plagued with insomnia that he could barely stand, only someone like -that- would glue their feet to the ground.

Watsuki was summarily tossed into the street.

However, Saitou was not so lucky. The man who had been carrying the knives landed on the tofu stand, squishing (squashing? Is Saitou squashable?) our legendary ex-Shinsengumi Captain underneath.

A cataclysm.

"Saitou! Saitou!" This is what the rurouni yelled as he tore away the debris in an attempt to find the fallen man.

Watsuki scratched his head and shrugged. He never wanted to be a tofu vendor, anyway. He wanted to be a taxidermist. And with that, he wandered down the street in search of roadkill, which, as you know, wasn't terribly prevalent in the days of the Meiji era. So, our beloved tofu vendor is going to be wandering for a while. I'd say just about ten years.

Kenshin, however, had forcibly torn apart the remains of the tofu stand, and finally found a broken man underneath. Well, not all -that- broken, but he did have quite a few bumps and bruises, most of them located in the head area.

"Saitou? Can you hear me?"

"Unnnnghhhh," Saitou replied, which is injured-man speak for "Verily, I am in quite a bit of pain at this point."

"Saitou?"

Blink. Blink. Who was this little red-haired girl and why was she screaming at him? And for that matter, who was he? No, not in a philosophical 'What is the meaning of the life and who am I?' sense, but in a very real, 'What the hell is my name?' sense.

Blink. Blink.

Finally, the man who couldn't currently remember his name said, "Salmon gum and night, a few good parsley's healthy hands."

"Oro?"

Squinting, he tried again, "I'm gonna be alright, if you could possibly help me stand."

Kenshin extended a hand to the man who, quite frankly, proclaimed himself to be his enemy, and helped him up. Saitou stood, but was a bit wobbly, wobbly like a dog with three legs, wobbly like Soujiro on sake, wobbly like a sentence which you end a preposition in.

"Say, um, young...lady, thanks for your help. Might you know...which way...my house is?"

"Oro? You don't know where your house is?" Kenshin's eyes grew wide before narrowing once again. "And Sessha is not a lady. Sessha just has refined features."

"My apologies. Anyway, I'm afraid not. In fact, I can't remember much at all. Do we know each other?" Saitou scratched the back of his head, all the while wearing an amiable smile which, quite frankly, gave Kenshin the creeps.

"Yes. Sessha is Himura Kenshin. You're Saitou Hajime. We fought in a war, we did. Don't you remember?"

Saitou appeared to be searching the database locked within his skull. Finally, he held up one finger and declared, "I remember Toba Fushimi!"

"Good."

"One question, though."

"Eh?"

"What's Toba Fushimi?"

"Orororoorooorooo...."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

In Our Next Chapter: Oh my. Saitou has amnesia. Will Kenshin help him out? Will Tokio come looking for her husband? What will the rest of the Kenshingumi think?

I'll be updating this, maybe, but only if people ask. If no one is interested in the story, why bother? I LIVE TO SERVE. I AM YOUR CLOWN. DANCE, ANGRYBEE, DANCE!