Sentiments of gip-k: -Dear friends and dedicated readers, the long-awaited finale to the Meet Tokio story is here! I never could bring myself to complete it before (although there wasn't much left to occur) but now something inspired me and I think I can do it. )


Disclaimer: Rurouni Kenshin belongs to Watsuki Nobuhiro only- I am simply borrowing his characters.


---Chapter 11: The Conclusion---

Tokio paced back and forth furiously within the confines of the Kaoru's dojo, her mind fraught with worrisome thoughts concerning her husband and the people that had gone to fight on her behalf. The beginnings of the plan had worked out extremely well. Kaoru Kamiya had entered the dojo disguised as a delivery girl…

FLASHBACK

Tokio was shaken out of her depressed reverie when the door of her tiny room opened. Her temper instantly flared at being disturbed- and also the individual's failure to knock! She stood up abruptly so that she could face her uninvited guest. A girl dressed in a ridiculous pink button-down delivery dress with yellow trimmings and a train-conductoresque hat to match stood before her.

"Be gone you!" Tokio snapped. "I don't want anything."

The girl pulled the hat off of her head and flowing raven dark locks were quickly revealed.

"Miss…Kamiya?" Tokio was the absolute picture of incredulity.

"The others and I thought up a plan to make you safe," Kaoru whispered, her dark blue eyes filled with gravity.

Tokio looked Kaoru up and down and wondered exactly what that plan might be.

"You'll…have to wear this," Kaoru gestured to the dress she was wearing.

"Are you kidding me? I'll look like a glass of pink lemonade!" Tokio snapped in disbelief.

A bit of anger flashed across the younger woman's features and then she spoke as though she had not heard what Tokio had said.

"After changing you will leave the police station and head immediately to the dojo through this route," Kaoru retrieved a paper from one of the pockets of the dress and handed it to Tokio. Tokio snatched it from her fingers with obvious irritation and scanned it over, scowling. Kaoru continued. "You will be unescorted but please don't worry- Misao and Sanosuke will be looking out for you."

The route was long and twisting and Tokio was instructed to take several frivolous stops along the way- in the rain- but she assumed that that was for her safety.

"Yeah, yeah," She grumbled in a dismissive tone without glancing upward. "And where will you be?"

"I will be here, pretending to be you," Kaoru replied. Tokio glanced upward sharply, startled, but the girl's face showed no apprehension or emotion. "I'll be acting as bait for the assassin tomorrow so that your husband and my friends can draw him out and the danger he causes eliminated- hopefully by negotiation."

Tokio felt as though someone had just slapped her in the face.

"Are you crazy?" She exploded. "You could get yourself killed!"

Kaoru's face flushed slightly.

"Please don't think me unable to handle this situation, Miss Saito," Kaoru said in even tones. "I trust Kenshin and the others to be able to keep me from harm, and I'm fully able to defend myself if the need arises."

Tokio did not notice the subtle jibe at her own strength- she was in too much of a state of bewilderment.

"Okay," she felt her voice trembling slightly. "I will participate in the foolish plan of yours."

END OF FLASHBACK

Tokio felt sudden tears stinging her eyes. They were all fools, the whole lot of them! They were risking their lives for her and what had she ever done for them?

Tokio's heart jumped at the sound of one of the training hall shoji sliding back. It opened to admit the red-haired warrior, who was followed by young Yahiko and the rambunctious white-coated Sanosuke. Tokio could not help released a sigh of relief when she saw them.

"You're all alright," Tokio rubbed a tear away from the corner of her eye with the edge of her finger. Then she frowned, suddenly realizing something was amiss.

"Where is -?"

Tokio let out a scream when arms wrapped about her suddenly from behind. She was about to scream until she recognized the familiar feel of them.

"Saito you old fool don't startle me like that!" Tokio said, partially laughing, crying, and growling at the same time.

"First of all, of course we're still alive!" Yahiko snapped, his red-brown eyes shouting outrage. "If you thought some pathetic assassin could've even laid a finger on any of us then you're terribly wrong."

"You are safe, Miss Saito," Kenshin announced, his tone and face serious.

Then they all heard the sound of Misao's high-pitched chatter getting closer to the door, and she entered soon after, Kaoru trailing in her wake.

"Kaoru is unharmed," Tokio was unable to hide her relief at seeing the young woman in one piece.

Misao quickly grew silent when her eyes fell on Tokio. Tokio ignored her apprehensive stare and gently wriggled out of her husband's arms and rushed up to Kaoru, clasping her hands in hers.

"Thank you so much for everything that you have done for me," Tokio said emotionally. "You risked your own life for my own, and you have also been an extraordinarily patient and considerate hostess to me during my stay here."

Before Kaoru could reply, she turned to Misao, who looked unsure of quite what to expect. Her hand tightened on one of her kunais. Tokio struggled with this one a little but she knew it would be wrong to withhold her thanks.

"I would like to thank you as well," Tokio said. "You and I are hardly on amiable terms as everyone in this room knows-" Misao's face flushed and her eyes filled with exasperation. "-But you did not use that as an excuse to refuse to fight on my behalf." Misao's face brightened considerably and she managed a sheepish grin.

"Aww, it was nothing," the sixteen-year old replied modestly.

Then she shifted her gaze once more, this time to Sanosuke.

"To be obvious- as I always am- I truly thought you were just a useless joker," Sanosuke looked utterly insulted. Tokio glanced at Saito with a half-smile before continuing. "My husband had spoken a number of things about you at one time, and meeting you did nothing to dissipate my pre-generated opinions-" Sanosuke glared at Saito, who simply stood there looking smug. "-But now I see that you can…be…truly honorable when you do try."

Tokio turned to Kenshin.

"I will get straight to the point with you as well," Tokio spoke in the same gruff tone she had used with Sanosuke. "I distrusted and disliked you a great deal because of your rivalry with my husband. Now I understand why he considered you worthy enough to even make it up to the level of a rival."

"Uh, thank you Miss Saito," Kenshin's eyes appeared confused, as though he were not sure whether to receive that as a compliment or an insult.

Tokio then slapped Yahiko on the head, to the shock of everyone in the room.

"If you get yourself killed- if you get yourself killed-" Tokio gave up and just hugged the boy. Releasing him abruptly she spoke to him seriously. "You take good care of yourself or else I'll skin your hide you hear? And you listen to that master of yours!"

"Okay, mother," Yahiko said smirking.

Tokio was struggling very hard not to cry and failing miserably.

"See what all of you fools have done!" The tears coursed freely down her cheeks as she berated the group. She turned to her husband. "Look at what they've done to me, Hajime. I demand that you- you eliminate them all immediately!"

Saito chuckled and thumbed the tears away from his wife's face.

"I think the change is for the better, my dear," he said.

"What do you mean it's for the better?" Tokio's tears seemed to evaporate immediately. "You don't like me the way I am?"

"The dragon girl's back," Sanosuke remarked with a grin.

"It's the Tokio we all know and love," Yahiko added with equal amusement.

Seeing that she had been tricked- and mocked- Tokio folded her arms in front of her chest and put on the darkest of faces.

"One of the shameless hooligans in this room will be throttled if this doesn't all end in the next few minutes," she said warningly through gritted teeth.

"I wouldn't doubt her," Saito told them, also amused. "Thank you all for your…assistance," he added the last coolly as if he were chagrined to admit he had gotten aid. His face became more serious. "I think now I should be placing my wife on a train back to our home immediately-"

"I'm not going home without you," Tokio said seriously.

"A shame on you, after all she's been through just trying to send her home without a word!" Misao defended Tokio's case as though she were a lifelong friend.

"I think you owe this to her, Saito," Kaoru said.

"Yes, you did nearly let me die," Tokio's voice was hard and bitter.

"But you're alive and well right now and I think my good service to you was killing the assassin," Saito's expression declared it was obvious that he felt he was caught between a rock and a hard place. The women all stared at him, and the pressure mounted.

"Fine," he finally declared, speaking in a tone that made it seem as though the decision was all his. "I will come home with you, wife, but only for a very short amount of time."

Tokio smirked. She had won at their little game for the first time in a long time!

Later…

Kaoru worked in the kitchen, Kenshin working alongside her, chopping vegetables and over-seeing her seasoning and stirrings.

"The atmosphere feels quite different now that Miss Saito has left, does it not?" Kenshin said, smiling.

"It really does," Kaoru returned the smile. She turned back to the pot, staring deep into it as she stirred. "It's really strange. I actually kind of…"

"Miss her?" Misao finished for her as she entered the kitchen. "I do too and it really surprised me, because I really hated her you know? But I think really, really, REALLY, REALLY deep inside she's an okay person." Misao liberally dipped her finger into one of the pots and licked it. "Mmmm this is really good Kaoru!"

Kaoru laughed.

Yahiko entered the kitchen soon after Misao had, looking very confused.

"I just don't get it," he mused. "As hard as I try I really just don't get it. I mean, it makes no sense whatsoever."

"What don't you get?" Kaoru asked. She was slightly concerned. Yahiko and Tokio had been pretty close and Kaoru figured he must have taken her departure very hard.

"How could someone like that marry Saito? She's so out of his league!" Yahiko commented.

The others in the room all mumbled their agreement. Then they all at once burst out into peals of laughter.

THE END


gip-k's Post Chapter Statements: -Hey, so that's the end of the story everybody (after nearly a year) thanks to all my loyal ragging-me-all-the-time-to-finish-the-freaking-story fans. ) Love you guys, seriously. Anyway, I'm about to give out my special thanks. There've been a whole lot of comments so I'm hoping not to forget anybody here.

Season of Mists

Glad you liked it. I really enjoyed spinning Tokio's char as well, I think that might've been my favorite part of the writing. )

c-tesshin

I appreciated that rough motivation. Ha ha, I am a girl. gip-k does stand for "girl in purple kimono" after all.

ShadowVixen

Saito and Tokio don't go crazy about their romance? You don't say! XD Thanks for reading.

Also thanks GreeneyedFloozy, Moronicus, assassinatorgirl, legolasEstalar, Bubblyboo and any other loyal fans I might've forgotten. Thanks much for reading.