Disclaimer: blahblahblahhhh, you know the drill. I don't own Rurouni Kenshin or the characters or probably this idea (someone else has probably used it already, I thought it seemed pretty common). And all that crap that really bores me (disclaimers really are a pain to right, aren't they? Grrrrrrr).
You always were different.
Laughed while I cried,
Sang while I lied,
Lived while I died.
You always were different.
Himura Kenshin was standing in a cold, abandoned warehouse, wearing his usual uniform. The informant was late, which was unusual. He said he was bringing information that might interest the Battousai, which wasn't so unusual. Many people came to him, hoping to please him with useless tidbits of information heard on the grapevine about some petty jewel or another. Kenshin had to find interesting work that challenged him and his gang, Sin, which was a difficult task indeed. Sin had grown stronger and the prey easier. Instead of decent fights with a lot of bloodshed and a good prize at the end of the game, there was a lot of fake stories to be told and cheap silver to be sold. Kenshin was tired of the many informants rushing to talk to him in return for a token or, maybe, a place in Sin. But there was something about this one. He seemed so casual, so smug to talk about it. So confident about the information, so sure his prize would be great. Kenshin had to meet with this one, face to face.
Now, the informant was late. Kenshin hated waiting, and chances for this man were growing slimmer by every second that ticked off the clock. Kenshin's glare grew steelier, and his patience deteriorated. Would this man even show up? If not, Kenshin would have to waste time finding and killing him, a task he didn't feel like completing.
But then, whaddya know, the door burst open and in walked a small, thin, weasel of a man. He seemed rather calm for being late for a meeting with the Battousai. The man just waltzed right in and leaned up against a wall, taking a long drag on a cigarette. Kenshin was almost mad. This man had the nerve to be late, now he was just standing there…smoking? The feared Battousai felt his hand drift to the shaft of his sword as he let the feelings of anger grow deeper…and deeper…and deeper…
"My patience is short. What do you want?" Kenshin finally succumbed to curiosity. When he had first heard the news of the informant, Aoshi offered to go instead. Even Sano tried to convince Kenshin not to go himself. But there was something about this man's attitude that made Kenshin think he might actually have something interesting to say. Something that might actually be worth his time, something that he wanted to hear with his own ears.
"Simply to inform you," the man snickered in an oily voice. He couldn't see the Battousai in this terrible light, but he could faintly make out that famous red hair pulled back into a high, messy ponytail…and those glittering amber eyes.
"Let me start with this. Have you ever heard the story of The Maiden, Battousai? It is a well-known fable amongst thieves. In fact, I find it's story quite popular and believe you yourself have heard it many times before." The weasel looked up, his eyes darting devilishly.
Kenshin's breath slowed until he was holding it. Did…did this man have information on The Maiden? If so this meeting was more than worthwhile. It was mandatory. He leaned forward, an obvious sign to encourage the oily man to continue with his story.
"I'll refresh your memory. There once was a girl born, with long raven hair and a different heart then all of the other young girls. A weak heart, at first. Then, on the night of her first birthday, her parents were murdered. At once, bathed in the blood of her purely kind parents, the girl's heart grew stronger then anyone's heart in the entire world. Strong enough, in fact, to light the girl with a strange, powerful aura, located somewhere in her body but where exactly, no one knows. The aura gave the girl one power of light to protect herself. She needed this protection because, of course, she was doomed to have men fight for her aura, which is said to be beautiful, exceptional, with no equal. Priceless in its worth. Men have given their lives for the finding of this…aura. Men have gone mad looking for it. And yet, it still has not been found. And The Maiden was never located, or proved to have ever existed in the first place." The weasel bowed gallantly, snickering under his breath.
"I know the story," Kenshin said through clenched teeth. "But it is only a myth."
"It was only a myth," the man corrected, making Kenshin steam. "Until now. Battousai, leader of Sin, I have proof that The Maiden exists."
Kenshin couldn't believe his luck. Throughout all his life, ever since he first heard the compelling tale, he had been searching for The Maiden. True, his search had deteriorated slightly when he became more involved with Sin; when he was tired of endless searching with no prevail. But Kenshin ordered himself not to show emotion. How could he have searched for years and not find a thing and this slimy man finds it instantly? It seemed almost too good to be true.
"My network, as you may know, are quite compelled by the Internet. No, obsessed is a better word. We spend most of our hours reading through endless files of urban legends to find a connection to the real world. We talk to reliable sources, search through sights of assassins, that sort of thing. This was when we worked out the logic behind The Maiden. It's quite simple, really. If you take-"
"Don't bore me with irrelevant details. Get to the point." Kenshin let his blade catch a bit of moonlight, and the slimy man didn't miss the glinting steel.
"Right," the weasel laughed nervously. "Of course. No irrelevant details. Well, basically we figured out that The Maiden exists in our time period. We have even figured out the name of this mysterious woman-like-no-other-women." The weasel bowed again. "Thanks to my genius." Kenshin stared at the man, doubtful. The Internet? Reliable sources? Exists in their time period? Kenshin's stare turned cold, angry.
"You must have spent hours planning that. You know that I must find a difficult task for Sin, and you cam up with one that you guessed might interest me. That babbling about urban legends was simply spewed to mislead me." Kenshin's eyes narrowed as he pulled out his sword. "I do not like being tricked, weasel."
The informant knew his life was on the line here. He had to prove his information true or get that sword through his chest.
"No, I swear its true! The Maiden's name is-"
Kamiya Kaoru was exhausted. She had hardly gotten any sleep last night and had spent the day running errands, buying groceries, paying bills. She sighed, and rubbed her head, just getting up from a nap. There was never enough money, was there? Even as a little kid Kaoru had to fend for herself, being an orphan. It was the same now, except now she had the bills to worry about.
Kaoru also always had trouble finding jobs. It seemed every place she went to turned her down, probably because she was "weird". Finally, Kaoru managed to get a job at Mokubunji, a popular restaurant. But that was only because of her looks, her body. It was a well-known fact that Mokubunji catered to young men, and that all their waitresses were good looking and, well, "adequate". Kaoru wasn't proud of working there and hated the tiny outfits they had to wear, but hey, work is work. She reached down to stroke her tabby cat, Ritz, who barely noticed her touch.
Kaoru glanced at a worn out digital clock near her pile of blankets on the floor. Time to get ready. Undressing quickly, Kaoru pulled the short blue dress, outlined in red, over her head. It ended right below her bottom and had two slits going up the side of her thigh. The top of the dress was off the shoulders with a very low neckline. Finishing the look by pulling her hair back and letting two pieces fall forwards, Kaoru tied her hair with the mandatory long, thing red ribbon. Looking in the mirror, Kaoru looked more like a hooker than a waitress. When asked why she had to wear so…little, her boss always replied with the same "Sex sells". If Kaoru could have worked for any other place, she would have. But a job is a job is a job, and Kaoru was thankful to at least have one.
Kaoru sighed and looked at the clock again.
"FIVE O SEVEN?!?!?!" Kaoru practically screamed, running out the door and putting on a light jacket at the same time.
"I'm sorry Ritz, I'll be home after my shift and feed you!" Her shift started at five and it took ten minutes to get there walking! She practically flew down the
steps of her apartment and ran like a mad woman down the city sidewalks, trash blowing away as she zoomed past.
She had no idea someone was watching her.
"Hello and welcome to Mokubunji. I'm Kaoru and I'll be your waitress tonight. Would you like anything to drink?" Kaoru said the same thing to every table, keeping that fake cheesy grin on her face and that chipper sound in her voice. Mokubunji was filled with young University and highschool students, and TONS of boys. Nowhere in the restaurant could Kaoru see s single child or "mature" adult. Kaoru sighed as she heaved a huge tray and balanced it on her shoulder. No matter what anyone said, waiting tabling tables was hard. Two full-to-the-brim trays balanced in each hand and avoiding wandering fingers (men didn't miss a chance to try and grope her) took a lot of concentration. Kaoru was proud to say she was pretty good in Kamiya Kasshin Ryu style fighting, a form of defense focusing on life. She remembered practicing for hours on the city streets, beating up the boys who called her a "city bum". Who knew that hours of practice would result in the perfect waiting career? Not exactly where Kaoru had hoped to be at her age, but who could complain? It kept her in shape.
"I was wondering, miss…" a college boy grabbed her arm as she was passing by and grinned stupidly. "…How much would it cost to order you?"
Kaoru almost gagged. She must have heard that pickup line ten thousand times a day. Men never were creative and thought of something intelligent to say. What happened to conversation? Catching her attention by knowledge? Instead Kaoru was bombarded by cheesy pickup lines offered by horny boys with nothing better to do. She was sick of it all. But despite the obvious dislike of him, Kaoru brightened up her smile like he had just said a really funny joke.
"Way too much for you to afford, sir. Anyway, I'm not on the menu."
Kaoru quickly made her way as far from that table as she could, blushing madly. As familiar as she was with the drunken teenage boys of Mokubunji, she would never get completely used to it. Being a shy girl by nature Kaoru was still slightly shell-shocked when men flirted with her. She quietly pulled Kagura, another waitress she was slightly friendly with, and asked her to cover that table for her.
The night wore on, and after hours after hours of "Can I have another beer, please?" and "Let's see the dessert menu", Kaoru was finally done. She quickly collected her tips and her paycheck, changed into a pair of cut-off shorts and a worn tee, and was out the door.
The cold midnight air pricked her skin as Kaoru briskly slipped her jacket on and made her way home. Her mind wasn't on the unusually quietness of the city, or the fact that ahead there was a dark figure in front of a suspicious alleyway; things she should and would have noticed. No, Kaoru was thinking of the money in her pocket and the things she would have to spend it on. Kaoru was thinking about poor Ritz, who was probably lonely and hungry and scratching her door like a mad-man (an annoying habit Ritz had developed whenever he wanted something). Sighing guiltily, Kaoru picked up her pace and felt the frigid air against her bare legs. Her thoughts slowly drifted to things she shouldn't have thought about. Her life. What was she going to do with it? She didn't want to spend the rest of her time on this planet working in a molesting restaurant, barely being able to scrape by, coming home to an empty house and a lonely cat. Of course, her thoughts were rudely interrupted when she was punched in the stomach. Kaoru felt the pain sharply in her lower abdomen and tasted the blood in her mouth. What? What was happening? She looked up weakly at the spiky haired figure looming above her.
"What…what just happened?" she managed to murmur, her head feeling oddly light. The figure laughed, obviously male. He bent down, making Kaoru feel foolish and childlike.
"What just happened, missy, was that you got you ass kicked." He yawned and stretched his arms. "I don't usually like to beat up the girly type, but boss's orders, and unfortunately for you I'm a loyal kinda guy. So, now that we have the whole authority thing settled, I suggest that you-" The man was interrupted as Kaoru's feet hit his shins, knocking him over.
"Asshole," Kaoru muttered, not registering the fact that this was fairly serious. She realized when a hand hit the back of her neck, her pressure point, and blackness started to lace her vision that she was in trouble. Real trouble.
"Who in the gods' name are you?" Kaoru shouted, her knees starting to crumple underneath her. The man grinned widely, hoping that she would ask that question so he could show off a little bit.
"The name is Sanosuke. But you, my dear, may call me Sano. And don't you forget it."
I won't, Kaoru promised herself as she drifted into unconsciousness. No one even noticed as she was dragged away.
Misao looked at the girl, checking her out. She didn't look special. What could the boss want with 'er? Black hair pulled up into an untidy ponytail, regular clothes, with a white sort of face. The female ninja bent down, as to look closer. Personally, Misao didn't have a clue why the Battousai was wasting his time with this whole Maiden junk. Abducting a girl off of the streets wasn't her style, also. That's why she had asked if Sano could go instead of her. Kenshin had understood, of course, Misao had learned a sort of honor while working with the Oniwabanshuu group. Not nearly as important as the honor of Aoshi-sama. At his name Misao felt a ditzy smile take over. He was there when she was with the Oniwabanshuu, but had left halfway through her stay. When she was accepted into Sin, he had showed her the ropes. And that cold stare…oh, one look into those steely black eyes and she was his forever!!!!! Aoshi-sama really knew the ways of melting a girl's heart. If only she knew a way to melt his…
"Misao, are you done inspecting the girl? We should move her somewhere safer, where she can't get out…I heard she gave Sano some good bruises." Aoshi entered the metal room, adding an icy feeling to the already chilly area. Misao's heart fluttered.
"Oh yeah, of course I am. Did we get any orders yet?" she asked, trying to remain calm.
"No, I am acting out of reason. If this woman can fight then we should move her to a place where she cannot retaliate." Aoshi picked up The Maiden bridal style, and Misao got up from kneeling on the ground. The boss would probably want to see everyone anyway. At least, she hoped he would. Maybe he could clear a few things up. LIKE WHY THE HELL THEY WERE DOING ALL THIS!!!!!
"Don't get impatient, Misao. Kenshin will reveal his reasons for all of this in the end." Misao stared up in wonder, hoping to catch Aoshi-sama's eye, but he had already moved on and was a few steps ahead of her. Misao scurried to catch up and skipped away, chatting partly to herself and partly to him, hoping he would give her some feedback.
"She's ugly," a young voice shouted from behind a couple of boxes.
"Have you even seen her legs yet, kid? She's got these really sexy legs." Perverted thoughts filled Sano's head. Yahiko turned away in disgust.
"I did see her, rooster. She's the ugliest thing I've ever seen," Yahiko mumbled loudly enough to be heard. Sano looked up at the boy mischievously, his eyes glittering dangerously.
"You're still stuck on Tsubame, aren't you, kid? You little ladies man, you! I never knew you were such a playa," Sano laughed heartily at his own joke until Yahiko hit him over the head.
"Asshole," Yahiko groaned, the second time that night someone had called Sano that name. And you know what? It fit him well.