CHAPTER 1: Out of many, one

"Having a good time, Saito-san?" Okita asked, a childish smile on his face. The noise in the room was extremely loud and made it hard for side conversations.

"No." Saito replied shortly. "Why did we have to come here anyway? There are only a bunch of women with no honor at all at this party. It is making the Shinsengumi look like worthless dogs."

"You always have to think about things in the negative, Saito-san," Okita grinned. "Oh well. There's nothing better to do than to talk to them, right?" He headed over to a table filled with chattering women and sat down. One of the girls pinched his cheek.

"Isn't he just DARLING?" the girl asked her friends. They all laughed.

"Ahou," Saito muttered, pulling out a cigarette and lighting it. He walked out of the full house and into the chilly night air. Winter was approaching and it could be felt. Saito started walking down the street to nowhere in particular. He stared at the dark sky and thought about his battle with the Hitokiri Battousai this afternoon. His body was still tired from the battle, but the battle turned out to be a draw. He turned a corner and barely dodged the girl who came around at the same time.

"Hey!" Saito yelled after her; she hadn't made a move to avoid crashing into him. The girl didn't reply; she just kept on walking. He ran over to her and saw that she was reading a book. He pulled it from her hands and made a move to smack her face with it. She put up her hands defensively and pushed it away.

"What was that for?" the girl snapped.

"You almost ran into me and ignored my calls." Saito spat back. He chucked her book into the wall and turned on his heel.

"HEY!" the girl's voice called. Saito turned around and was hit by the book.

"Ouch! What was that for, you ignorant fool?" Saito asked her, catching it before it fell.

"You were going to hit me before. I thought I'd tell you that that's no way to treat a lady!"

"Humph! A lady? You? Don't make me laugh," Saito snorted. Unconsciously, he tucked the book into his robes. "Where were you going, anyway? Little girls like yourself shouldn't be allowed to walk the streets at night alone."

"I'm not a little girl!" she protested, balling her fists and clenching her teeth. "And why should I tell you where I'm going?"

"Because I asked," Saito sighed. This girl could be so annoying. "I was thinking of being kind to you and getting you there unharmed, but." he let his voice trail off.

"Fine. I'll tell you. I'm going to a party that should be just down the street, though I'm not quite sure where it is," her face softened as she admitted that she didn't know where she was going. His face also lost some of its intensity.

She's actually quite pretty. Saito thought to himself. "Is the party being hosted by the Shinsengumi?" he asked.

"Yes. I think." she said. "My friend, Myu should be waiting for me there."

"I just came from there," Saito said, surprised that this proud girl would go to a kind of party like that. "I wasn't enjoying myself."

"Oh. Well, I personally don't think I'll like it either, but my father thinks I should meet an honorable man to marry, so I have to go," the girl said. Why am I telling him all this? I just met him a few minutes ago, but I feel something. no. I have to get a hold of myself! The girl shook her head. Saito looked up. It had begun to drizzle.

"Hurry up," Saito said coldly and grabbed her arm, walking back to the party. As he pulled her along, he began to think about her, how he had just met her and yet felt like he could trust her: maybe even more than he trusted Okita. They stopped right outside of the house. Laughing, voices, and the clinking of chopsticks on bowls wafted out of it. He took a long drag from his cigarette, which had hung, forgotten, from his thin lips.

"Thank you, Mr.." the girl said, realizing now that she didn't even know his name.

"Saito Hajime," Saito said.

"Takagi Tokio. Thank you again, Mr. Saito," the girl introduced herself. She pushed a wet chunk of hair from her face and stepped closer to him. She pulled the cigarette from his mouth. It was driving her crazy the way he had been puffing on it the whole time they had been talking.

"Miss Tokio," Saito said, angrily, after getting over the initial shock of having his cigarette taken from him. "Get inside before you get all wet!"

"I am already soaked," Tokio said. She dropped the cigarette on the floor where the flame went out immediately. It was raining heavily now.

"Come inside. This house must have at least one extra kimono in it. I don't want you getting sick from wearing damp clothes," Saito muttered. "Let's go in the back way. They won't see us."

"Thank you Mr. Saito," Tokio said. They walked around the house in the rain and Saito opened the back door. Tokio stepped in, Saito following her. He began to paw through the clothes in the closet.

"Hmm." he pulled out a kimono. "Not small enough." He tossed it aside and continued to dig through the clothes.

"Mr.. Mr. Saito?" Tokio asked.

"What?" Saito growled, tossing another silky kimono aside.

"Why were you in the party? Are you a member of the Shinsengumi?" she stared at his back, shivering. The dampness of her clothes was beginning to get to her.

"Yes," Saito said, stopping his search for a kimono for her. "I am the leader of the third squad."

"Captain Saito, then." Tokio gasped. Saito smirked to himself. He had enjoyed her reaction.

"Here. This one should fit pretty well," Saito said. He threw the cloth at her. It was light pink with flowers embroidered in red. "And you'll look even prettier in it, Miss Tokio." Tokio felt her face turn red and she turned around to hide it.

"Thank you." Tokio gulped. Quickly, she proceeded to take off her wet clothes.

"I'll see you in the main part of the house," Saito turned to leave.

"Wait! Captain.?" Tokio turned to stop him. He did.

"Yes?" he asked without turning around.

"Please stay. I. don't know my way around the house yet." Tokio said, sitting with her back to him.

"Fine. I'll stay. Just hurry up, okay?" Saito turned and immediately turned again. Her back was turned to him, but she didn't have any clothes on.

"I'll be quick," Tokio pulled the kimono on her thin frame and fastened the obi. Then, she stood up, barefoot.

"You can't walk around like that," Saito commented, noting her feet.

"I'll be okay," she said.

"Just wear your sandals. Wet feet are better than bloody ones. Let's get going," Saito turned and strode out of the room. Tokio followed close behind. They stepped into the lively room, trying to stay on their feet in the crowds. A woman walked up to Saito wrapped her arm around his shoulders. She reeked of alcohol. Tokio stared.

"What's your name?" she asked, smoothly, her hand gently caressing his cheek.

"Get off me," Saito snarled at her. He continued walking forward. She however, didn't. She pulled her head closer to his and brought his lips to hers. He pushed her mouth away from his with his hand and shoved her into a crowd. She glared at him and turned to one of the other girls.

"What was that all about?" Tokio asked.

She really IS ignorant, isn't she? Hasn't she ever attended one of these mating parties before? Saito thought. "When these ahous get drunk, they'll go to anyone just to get some love. Not like it's much different when they're not drunk," Saito replied. "Where is your friend anyway? You said she'd be here."

"I. I don't know," Tokio said. She pulled herself closer to Saito as a drunken man shot her a greasy smile.

"We'll just have to find her, right?" he walked over to a table and slammed his hand on it to get the peoples' attention. "Any of you named Myu?" he asked harshly.

"No. Now either sit your butt down next to me or get outta here," a woman with heavily caked on make-up said, patting the seat next to her.

"I'll take the latter," Saito said, sarcastically. He walked over to another table and did the same.

"Anybody named Myu here?" Saito asked.

"I am," a lady with a flushed face said. She slurped some sake straight from the large jug. "Would you like me to keep you company?"

"Tch. NO. I was just trying to find you because Miss Tokio was supposed to meet you here and she couldn't find you," Saito snapped. He was getting really tired of all these love-searching drunken women.

"Oh! Tokio! I- I completely forgot!" she said, hiccuping. "I found the perfect guy for her!" She jabbed a finger toward the man sitting next to her. He had long, greasy, dark hair and his eyes were glazed. He was obviously drunk.

"Where's my new bride-to-be?" he asked. Saito glared. He really didn't want to leave Tokio with this sleaze, but he had no other choice.

Besides, he thought, her friend wouldn't let anything happen to her. "Miss Tokio!" Saito brought her over. "Here's your friend. I must leave you now." Tokio looked at Myu and the man.

"But. Captain.sir.I-I-I," Tokio's words slipped in her mouth. "Goodbye." She hugged Saito and he could do nothing because of shock. He hadn't anticipated that. Sadly, she broke away from him and sat down in the empty seat next to the man. He wrapped his arm around her and made a move to kiss her. Saito turned away from them, feeling strange and lost.