The Wolf Awakens
Jess McDaniel

Saitou leapt backwards as he felt the familiar cut of a blade run through his skin. The pain was nothing new, it was just rare that he was wounded in battle, he was in his prime and had experienced many battles. He thought for a moment as to how he could have flawed so much to let a kid such as Aoshi Shinomori sink a blade into his fair skin. He could no more than fifteen or sixteen years old. Saitou was at least nineteen.

He had encountered his rival in an old ally behind a few deserted dojos' he often used as a means of ambush. The leader of the Oniwaban group had been mildly surprised to see him there, though both had immediately taken up the chance to fight one another without intrusion.

Lost in thought for that brief second, Saitou failed to notice the young warrior raising his other kodachi for another attack. His eye caught the glint of the blood-covered blade and he just managed to avoid a fatal blow to his side.

Saitou raised his katana just in time to catch the blade and fling him to the side, blades grinding against one another. Aoshi made an X by crossing his kodachi's so he would not be wounded and he could keep the leader of the third squad of the Shinsengumi from flinging the blades out of his hands. Saitou slammed Oniwaban leader into the ground by tilting his own sword downwards against the kodachi's and throwing all of his weight into the air against the blades as Aoshi went flying, causing him to be pushed down when he was expecting to fly to the side.

The leader was caught completely off guard and was unprepared for that maneuver. He was slammed into the ground in full flight and was cut by both kodachi's in the process. All of the wind was knocked out of him as he looked up in surprise. He felt a knee being pressed into his midriff and a leg be thrown over his own legs. Long, glistening black hair blocked his view of the night sky. There, in the midst of all that hair, was a pair of the most unforgiving and terrifying eyes in the world...looking down upon him.

For a fleeting second, all he could feel was terror as he stared into the face of death itself and the cold steel of his own weapons sinking into his skin. There was no pain, no warmth of blood, no anything, only the realization that he had failed in his mission to kill Hajime Saitou, leader of the third squad of the Shinsengumi.

Saitou had the blade against the two kodachi's and was pressing down only enough to pin him, but it was an assurance that the boy below him was not going anywhere. Yet, for reasons that he could not explain, he hesitated. His instinct was yelling at him to stop...that this was only a boy. But his brain was telling him to complete the mission he had created within himself. Saitou was being torn in two.

For the time that he was debating, the Shinsengumi leader had let up on the pressure, though only slightly. Aoshi, in his state of rare panic, attempted to push him off but Saitou was over a fourth his size and weight. "You won't be going anywhere, Shinomori." Saitou told him in a cold, emotionless voice.

Aoshi could only struggle in vain as the leader of the Shinsengumi pressed the blades still further into his pale throat. He felt the cold, death-ridden steel grow ever closer to the all- vital vein that fed him life.

"This time, you're mine-" Saitou was interrupted by the blast of a piercing whistle. He jerked his head up in mid sentence and a look of shock spread over his face.

He was looking in a direction over Aoshi's head, so Aoshi was not able to see what he was staring at. He tried to crane his head around to see, but he was at serious risk of allowing the blades to penetrate the most important vein in his entire body, so he chose to remain still.

"You!" shouted Saitou. He was glaring menacingly at someone at the end of the alleyway. Aoshi heard the soft, yet unmistakable, sound of a pair of sandals fleeing and the sound clothing ruffle as someone turned. Distant cries and screams of men followed.

Saitou suddenly abandoned his victim, jumped over the man's head, and ran to the end of the alleyway. The Oniwaban leader was stunned for a moment at the fact that he had just evaded death by the second most feared person in Japan.

It took him a moment to regain his senses before he could finally stand up. He quickly looked around to make sure that it was safe, well as safe as it ever would be anyways. Seeing that there was no man laying in wait to lash out and kill him, he turned in the direction his opponent had fled. There seemed to be no sign that anyone was there. He began to turn around and return to the dojo he was stationed at, when he heard a nearby cry of someone charging at either an opponent or an object. Curious and pumped for some more action, Aoshi leaped onto a roof and began jumping from roof to roof towards where the sound was coming from. When he finally reached his destination he crept quietly to where he could hear two men battling. He flattened himself against the roof because he was not ready to be seen until he could find out who he was up against. His heart began to pound so loud from the excitement that he was sure the other two could hear it even above the clang of their swords. Aoshi was pretty sure that one of the fighters was Saitou, the other must be an enemy of his. He was not fully sure if he wanted the opponent to win or not. It would mean the end to one of his goals if the opponent did succeed and he wouldn't even be the person that had slain Hajime Saitou. On the other hand, Saitou would be one less opponent that he'd have to deal with. Aoshi decided to ponder over these questions on a later date, should Saitou live to see another day. He cautiously looked over the edge of the roof of the dojo that he was on. The sight that met his eyes made his heart stop completely...

to be continued

(R&R please. I will continue this when I figure out the next events. I am open to any and all opinions on the story, some ideas might be of help too. See ya ASAP!!)