To Reveal All
Chapter 1: Revealing Beginnings
Disclaimer: I don't own Rurouni Kenshin, or the characters therein. Wish I did, but don't. However, I own the plot of this fic, and any characters I happen to invent as part of it! W00t!
Author's Notes: This is my first ever multi-chapter fic. It's actually the result of a bet from a friend that I couldn't write anything H, or at least R-rated… Kekeke. How wrong they were. I know it's pretty tame compared to some of the other stuff here, but anyway… it's the thought that counts /wink!
This is very definitely an AU fic. It's in a similar world, i.e. 11th year of the Meiji (1876), Tokyo, Japan, but there's significant differences – you'll see one of them the moment you read the first paragraph! I like AUs, they allow you freer rein with the timelines. Sorry if you don't like that sort of thing.
I love KxK stuff, so that's the base coupling. I may bring in some SxM, but that's only if I feel like it…
I warn you: some… okay, most, of the characters, are OOC. I've tried to keep those characteristics which show best what we love (or hate) about them all. This isn't easy! Please bear with me – and remember: this is an AU fic, and environment alters character, so I may not have interpreted the characters the way you like them to be!
Er… have played with ages a little. Yahiko's is the largest change, so that he's seventeen in the body of the fic.
About the title, and the chapter names: The title, 'To Reveal All' was from a moment of inspiration halfway through writing the second chapter (most of which is written /embarrassed laugh/). I realised that this fic is mostly about the revelation of feelings, and Kenshin's identity as the Battousai. It seemed right that the chapters should agree, and also be 'Revealing'.
Anyway, enough of my rambling! Read the fic!
Language Notes: I don't do fangirl Japanese… except for Kenshin calling Kaoru 'Kaoru-dono'. I left that because it's hard to translate, and Kenshin calling Kaoru 'Lady Kaoru' just didn't fit.
Bakumatsu – The revolution which removed the power of the Shogun, and transferred it back to the Emperor. Also called the 'Meiji Revolution' or 'Meiji Restoration'.
Sokatana is an invented town, but is modelled after various hot springs towns.
A danna is the patron and prime client of a geisha. He pays her living expenses, and may give her gifts of jewellery or kimono. This means that he can claim not only primary rights to a geisha's entertainment, but can claim sexual favours from her also.
All thoughts are in italics.
Warnings: Presently rated PG-13. May be R for sexual situations/scenes and violence in later chapters. No language warnings.
It was the 10th year of the Meiji Era.
This era was founded in fire and blood, during the deadly Bakumatsu, the Revolution. This was a turbulent time when the Imperialists and the Shogunate fought for the future of Japan. Ultimately, the Imperialists won, bringing an end to the legend of the samurai.
With the end of this legend came the downfall of many samurai, reduced to poverty by the fall of their lords and the loss of their livelihood as warriors. Many proud samurai were forced to work as mercenaries or bodyguards, and many women, the blood of generations of warriors in their veins, became of necessity prostitutes or geishas, women to entertain the increasingly prosperous merchant class.
Such was the case of young Kamiya Kaoru. Her family, of the Tokyo samurais, had never been rich, just modestly endowed, and the end of the Bakumatsu saw them in poverty. Kaoru's mother had died during the Bakumatsu, caught in the middle of a street battle. Her father had died in the 6th year of the Meiji, in an epidemic of influenza.
Though a good man, Kamiya Koshijirou left considerable gambling debts, and, to recover the money lost by his death, his creditors sold his children. Kaoru, then thirteen, was pretty, and the mistress of an okiya – a geishas' house – had decided that she might have potential as a future geisha. Yahiko, at eleven, was a precocious child, but he was selling for a cheap price, and Kaoru refused to let go of him, so she bought him too, as a kitchen boy for the okiya.
The mistress' hope had paid off. Kaoru did indeed have promise. She progressed fast in her lessons, and at fifteen, she became a meiko, or apprentice geisha. Megumi, an older geisha who lived at the same okiya, had taken her on as a 'younger sister' – she would guide Kaoru, introducing her to good clients, teaching her tricks of the trade, and generally assisting her, for which she would be paid a portion of Kaoru's earnings.
The early morning was quiet and still, dawn barely risen, and an almost-cloudless sky promising a clear spring day. Kaoru was relaxing in the expansive hot springs that the town of Sokatana was famous for. Her 'elder sister', Megumi, had been invited here by her danna, to come to a banquet he was hosting in the town. Naturally enough, he had extended the invitation to her 'younger sisters', Kaoru and Tae. They had accepted, and now the three of them were enjoying the sights and luxuries of the hot springs.
Or we would be, if the others weren't still in bed… thought the eightenn-year-old to herself, smiling fondly at the picture the other two had presented when she left the room. Tae had been curled in a tiny ball on her side, and Kaoru had smiled in recollection at the wonder on the younger girl's face when she saw the magnificence of the hotel that their party would be staying in.
Megumi had been sprawled over her futon, covers everywhere, but still managing to keep her head on the high pillow, and hairstyle intact. Kaoru had always envied Megumi's hair – the waxed hairstyles of the geisha, that remained in place for days, had always seemed to be flawless on Megumi, where they went wonky, or unstuck, on Kaoru.
Kaoru's occasional air of slight untidiness had put off some clients. They wanted a geisha to be perfect – witty, graceful, and accomplished, and not have one hairpin lopsided, or a chignon out of place. Other geishas had frequently mocked her for this, and no matter how she tried, she hadn't been able to rid herself of the stigma of being the 'Messy Girl'.
And what's worse than mocking me for being untidy, they mock me for my love of the sword. At one of her first parties, Kaoru had impulsively made the unpardonable mistake of letting slip that she practised the sword. While this enchanted her client, it put her forever at risk of being labelled as 'too masculine' or 'too coarse'. Megumi hadn't spoken to her for days after this major faux pas.
With a weary sigh, Kaoru let her shoulders slump, feeling defeated, but still, she was determined to continue with the sword. I can't let our family's style die.She owed it to her father and ancestors to practice, and maintain, the Kamiya Kasshin style. Kaoru could not abandon it, merely because she was a woman or a geisha.
Her father had begun teaching the Kamiya Kasshin sword style to both his children almost as soon as they could walk, so that by the age of twelve, they both knew all the techniques associated with it.
Well, it does no good to dwell on something you can't change, Kaoru thought, sighing. She stood up, rising from the steaming waters of the outdoor bath, a goddess wreathed in mist. Her wet ebony hair, let down and washed prior to a visit to the hairdresser's, swished heavily to one side. Then, with a shiver, she ducked back under the water. It's far too cold to get out yet.
Behind her, unnoticed, the sliding screen that blocked the view of the men's changing room slid open, and a towel-wrapped man stepped down into the water. He paused as he saw Kaoru's naked form in the mist, then, with an appreciative grin, slipped down to sit on a nearby rock, watching her.
As she slowly breast-stroked across the pool, the man continued to watch her. The clear spring water did little to hide her form, but as she thought she was alone, she paid it no mind. She didn't get to swim often, and she sighed in pleasure at the sheer freedom of the water's caress.
As she came to the edge of the pool, and turned to stroke back across, she saw the man watching her. Realising with a flush how exposed she was, she sunk into the water, until only her face was exposed above the warm surface. The man hopped off the rock and began wading towards her.
He was handsome. Tall – too tall for her tastes, but never mind – with a shaggy rooster-comb of dark brown hair, and dark eyes. His body was fit and well-muscled. Hmm. A fighter, then, thought Kaoru. It was easy to tell the men that were fighters, who were in training, or who had never touched the floor of a dojo in their life.
"Good morning, sir. Are you well this morning?" she asked, in the smooth, feminine tones that she had been practising for the last three years.
"Yes." The man's reply was brief, but the smile that accompanied was genuine and warm. He seems nice enough, thought Kaoru.
"I am Kaoru, a geisha of Tokyo. Would you like me to entertain you at a teahouse of your choice tonight?"
"Yes, that would be – " The man was interrupted by a shout.
"Sano! No geishas! We cannot afford it!" A brief glance at the source of the shout revealed another man wading towards the two. He was shorter than his friend, just above Kaoru's height. But that wasn't what Kaoru noticed first – it was the thatch of brilliant red hair that adorned his head and flowed over his shoulders, and the unusual cross-shaped scar on his left cheek. Unlikely luminous violet eyes shone, and his grin was infectious. A towel was wrapped around his waist, but what Kaoru could see was chiselled and smooth except for some minor scars, even more perfect than his friend's. A flicker of interest and attraction shone in Kaoru's heart for a minute before she banished it.
"I am sorry, Miss, but this one has the purse strings for our party, and Sano would spend it all if this one did not restrain him." The man's voice was cheerful, and slightly teasing as he directed the last half of the sentence at his friend. With a swish of water, he slid into the water by the two.
"Then would you like to join me tonight?" smiled Kaoru, trying to use the gentle, seductive voice that she knew few men could resist.
The teasing grin was wiped off the redhead's face, and was replaced momentarily by a flash of what Kaoru thought was desire. Then the smiling face returned, and the man replied, "This one is afraid that that is not possible, Miss…?"
"Kaoru, Kamiya Kaoru," replied the geisha. She had seen that sudden desire – or was it sadness? – she couldn't be sure of it now – and she knew that it might be a chance.
"This one is Himura Kenshin, and this one's friend is Sagara Sanosuke." The redhead replied. He bowed, and Kaoru returned the bow in the water, smiling tantalisingly.
Kaoru rose from the bow slowly, keeping the charming smile in place. Well, if he's the one holding the purse strings, he's the one I need to pay attention to, she reasoned.
"So why are you gentlemen in Sokatana?" she asked, directing her gaze at Himura.
"We are merely travelling through," he replied, smiling gently. "We are headed for Tokyo, though. We intend to start a dojo."
"Ah!" Kaoru smiled. It was unusual to meet people who were starting a dojo – most were already established. "What style?"
"Hiten Mitsurugi Style," replied Himura. "Do you know something of swords, then?"
"I'm a fully trained swordswoman. In the Kamiya Kasshin Style." This statement produced incredulous looks from both men, and a sudden realisation – You've done it again! You've mentioned the fact that you practise swords again! STUPID!
"You're a fully trained swordswoman, and you're working as a geisha?" said Sagara, his scepticism apparent on his face, and apparently too shocked to notice the fact that she had committed a blunder.
"You can't live by the sword these days," sighed Kaoru, sadly, yelling at herself internally, "And a woman couldn't, anyway."
Sagara fidgeted, embarrassed by her air of quiet resignation. "Alright, sorry, sorry…"
Himura seemed more interested in the sword style. "Kamiya Kasshin Style? This one has not heard of that."
Perhaps I can salvage this situation! Kaoru thought, a little relief showing through the panic in her mind, caused by her mistake. "It is not very well-known. It was created by my great-grandfather, and has been passed through generations to my brother and myself. It is 'The Sword That Protects', and is based on the protection of others as its ultimate goal."
" 'The Sword That Protects'. A good idea, that it is," said Himura, smiling charmingly. "This one would like to live by such a code, also." Kaoru returned the smile, thinking, A common interest – maybe I can secure him as a client – there's nothing men like better than to talk about their interests!
Kaoru never got to carry out her plan of snaring Himura as a client, because she was interrupted by a sixteen-year-old ball of energy galloping into the water, splashing clumsily over to the group, tripping on an unseen rock, and cannoning into Himura.
Yahiko had been taken on this trip as a basic servant – to carry bags, go on errands, and generally do anyone's bidding at any time. Under threat of violence from Kaoru, he'd promised to behave. So far he'd managed to keep out of trouble.
Apparently this promising trend was now broken.
Yahiko's momentum had knocked both him and Himura under the water. As they surfaced, spluttering, Himura grabbed Yahiko.
"What did you think you were doing? You could have killed yourself, that you could!"
"I was only coming to see ugly!" replied Yahiko, indignant, and pointed at Kaoru.
"Who are you calling 'ugly'?" Kaoru fumed. No-one knew better how to annoy her than her little brother, but she quelled it rapidly. It wouldn't do to worry a possible client. "And Himura's right, you could've killed yourself, and him too!" She waded over to him, seemingly concerned about his potential injuries, but her glare at Yahiko, unnoticed by the two men, promised extra practise tonight.
"You know I'm fine, sis!" Yahiko grinned cheekily at her, and dove under the steaming water.
"Yahiko…!" Kaoru waded after the barely-visible shadow under the chest-high water.
Suddenly Yahiko erupted from under the water, and dragged his sister under. The water was still again. Seconds ticked by.
Sagara looked over to his friend, "Are they alright in there?"
"This one does not know…" replied Himura, his tone uneasy. "Oro!"
Sagara gasped in shock as something beneath the water knocked his friend over, and he too disappeared. His frown deepened, and he began searching for the three that had disappeared under its surface.
A rush of water announced the re-appearance of Kaoru and Himura. They clung to each other, gasping for breath. Yahiko resurfaced a second behind them.
Kaoru caught her breath again, and looked up at Himura's face. "Thank you. I was running out of air there."
"You're welcome," he replied.
Then a rapid blush stained Kaoru's face. Somewhere along the way, both of them had lost their towels, and now they were both naked as the day they were born.
As if pulled by a magnet, Himura stared down at Kaoru's body. She was beautiful. His gaze skimmed up her smooth legs, around the rounded hips and flat stomach, resting momentarily on the full breasts, and trailed up the shapely neck and the midnight hair that swirled damply around it. Then he looked into her face, and the becoming blush on her cheeks reminded him that she could see every inch of him – above the hips, anyway – and could certainly feel every inch.
His face assumed the same colour as hers, and he let go, stepping away with alacrity.
Kaoru's blush deepened as she saw that he had realised the position they were in. Unless it's because he's naked… He shouldn't be ashamed, though – He has such a beautiful body – NO! Bad Kaoru! Don't even think that! Looking left and right frantically, she tried to focus on anything other than Himura.
"Kaoru? Kaoru!" Yahiko's voice gave her a welcome alternate focus, and the slightly-annoyed look on his face indicated that he could, to some extent follow what she was thinking. Throwing a glare at him – this was his fault after all.
Kaoru ducked under the water, and before the men could react, came back up armed with a sopping towel. Remaining submerged to her neck, she wrapped it securely around herself, then allowed herself to sit higher up in the water. "Gentlemen, I have to introduce my younger brother, Yahiko. Yahiko, these gentlemen are Himura Kenshin and Sagara Sanosuke."
"Call me Sano," said Sagara. "You really gave us a scare there, kid."
"I'm not a kid! I'm sixteen!" said Yahiko, indignant.
"A fine young man you are, this one can see," said Himura, smiling at Yahiko's annoyance. "As Sano said, call this one Kenshin."
"Why do you say 'this one', instead of 'I'?" asked Yahiko.
Kenshin's face became tight. "It is a long story that goes back a long way, that it does."
"Oh." Yahiko knew a dismissal when he heard one. Kenshin obviously didn't want that particular issue spoken about. He changed the subject quickly. "So, where are you from? Where are you going?"
"We're travelling to Tokyo, to start a dojo, kid," said Sano.
"Don't call me 'kid'!" snapped Yahiko, but then his enthusiasm for swords took over. "Really? I'm trained in the sword, too!"
"Yes, your sister said, that she did. When the dojo is started, feel free to visit. This one would welcome another friend."
"That would be great!"
Author's Notes: I didn't know how to end it/sweatdrops/ But I hope you liked it, anyway.
I'm sorry, historians. Historical accuracy was rather thrown out the window here. Geishas were generally chosen by the time they were age seven, so Kaoru's definitely too old! I had to leave the extra years, so that she had time to become proficient in Kamiya Kasshin (which will figure in later chapters).
Yes, I know that bathing arrangements were generally gender-separated. But I know that some hot springs simply had separate changing facilities, and one large pool. This first chapter wouldn't exist without this, so please forgive me! Sorry! Gomen nasai!
You may find my writing style unusual: I like big, descriptive words, so I'm sorry if you came across things you needed a dictionary for!
I'm not actually sure if it's a good idea to finish this, so if you want me to continue, please tell me. Otherwise… I'll leave it unfinished. (Despite the fact that I've written most of the second chapter anyway. Meh.)
Review! Please! Onegai!
(Author's Notes is the only time I bring out the fangirl Japanese! )