A/N: Hi! Author Zig-zag here! Just got a little something to say before I let you get to the story. This story has been posted once, then it was removed because someone thought there was too much violence for a PG-13 rating. I was gong to re-post under PG-13 and then change the rating to R when the violence came into play, but it got removed again. This time I'm just starting out posting it as R.
I guess I was too violent and kill people. Because you know… the setting is during a war. I mean God forbid anyone should die during a war. Nothing mean or nasty every happens during times of war. Or... you know... the Fanfic adminsters responding to my emails... god knows they can't give me a chance to defend myself and my story. I would never give them two thumbs up on the job they're doing... I give them two fingers up instead... -walks off grumbling-
Please read and enjoy my story! And if you've already read it once, I hope you enjoy it again. Like last time the first two chapters are written a bit fast still… but! This time around I have a beta or two! Yay! So thanks to Melimsah for beta-ing this chapter for me!
Chapter 1 - A Fateful Night
In a dark alleyway at night in Kyoto during the Bakumatsu was not a place one would want to find himself. This doubled if you were seven-years-old. Neko clung tightly to her mother's and father's hand as they quietly walked down the dark alleyway. The little girl let go of her father's hand to brush a lose strand of her dark black hair out of her emerald green eyes. In that instant her world would change forever.
"Stop right there," a calm and threatening voice called out to the three.
Neko felt her mother push her into her legs as her father's hand went to the sword at his side. "Who's there!" Her father yelled out to the two men who had suddenly stepped from the shadows. One was tall and slender. His narrow, frightening eyes made Neko shiver as she stared into them. The other seemed no more than a young smiling boy but the presence that surrounded him suggested differently. "You're… you're members of the Shinsengumi!" Neko's father's voice faltered as he breathed the words.
"I am Saito Hajime," the taller one stated.
"And I am Okita Soushi. You are Midori Kojima, an Ishin Shishi supporter." Saito unsheathed his blade and stepped forward.
Midori pushed his wife and daughter back as he also drew his blade. He let out a yell and charged at Saito. Saito was unimpressed. "Weakling…" He muttered as he easily avoided Kojima's attack. Kojima gasped in surprised at his missed attack then cried out in pain as Saito's sword slid through his back. Kojima fell to his knees, blood trickling down the corner of his lips as his life slowly drained from his body.
"NO!" Neko's mother screamed and threw herself onto Saito. Saito was momentary surprised by the woman throwing punches at him. He grabbed a fist full of her black hair and tossed her aside. Saito carefully and slowly pulled his blade from Kojima's corpse. The woman screamed at seeing her husband's blood and pulled a small dagger from her sleeve. She charged Saito again.
Saito turned and grabbed the women's wrist. "Don't throw your life away." He pushed her to the ground. He turned to leave but as he did she jumped back up on her feet and ran at him. She raised the blade, but before she could strike she found Saito's blade being pushed into her stomach. She lost her grip on the dagger and it clanged nosily to the ground. "Foolish women." Saito sneered as he freed his blade. She whimpered then fell next to her husband, never to speak again. It was over in a matter of seconds.
Saito and Okita turned and left and Neko was left alone. "Mommy? Daddy?" She asked the corpses as she neared. "Mommy! Daddy!" She felt her heart beat against chest as realization slowly began to sink in. "MOMMY! DADDY!" She screamed into the night shaking her father's lifeless body. "I'll go get help! Wait here! I'll get help! You'll be okay… I just need to get help," she said as tears streamed down her face. She ran out into the street looking for anyone who could help her.
"Help me." She whispered so quietly she barely heard herself. No one was in site except for a young man. Her heart lifted and she ran over to him. "Sir! Please! Please hel…!" Her voice caught in her throat when she met his amber eyes. For a moment she was frightened. This boy reminded her of the demon that her next door neighbor's son had told her about. Red hair, cross shaped scar, and evil soul sucking eyes.
"Are you alright?" the boy asked looking Neko over with those eyes of his.
Neko snapped out of her stupor. "My mommy and daddy! They need help. Help them. Please help mommy!"
The man nodded. "Where are they?" Neko grabbed his hand and gently pulled his arm, beckoning him to follow.
Neko lead him all the way back to her dead parents. "Please help them! Please help Mommy and Daddy!" she pleaded as she gently tried to shake her mother awake. "Please…" she whimpered.
The man with long red hair softly placed his hands on her shoulders, knelt down next to her, and looked her in the eyes. "I can't help them. They are dead."
Neko shook her head even though she knew it was true. "No. No. No, no, no, no, no." She began to sob slamming her head into the boy's chest. "NO!" She screamed hitting her tiny fists on the man's body. "Help them! Help them!" she sobbed.
The boy held her until she quieted. "I will help you dig their graves." He said as he gently picked up her mother. The two carried the body to a nice quiet area and using just their hands the two dug a hole in the ground. Neko tried her best not to cry as they repeated the process for her father. She did a good job at holding the tears back until the work was complete and the sun was just beginning to rise. As she stood next to the stranger, overlooking their work she fell to her knees and cried. Everything seemed so unreal and it was all happening so fast.
To her surprise the man knelt down and rubbed her back trying to comfort her. Neko looked up at the man and saw that he too looked as if he was about to cry.
"What's you're name?" She whispered.
The man seemed hesitant to answer. He looked down at his feet and murmured so softly that she almost didn't hear him. "You don't need to know my name."
"Thank-you, nice man." The boy laughed. "What's so funny?" she asked.
"Nobody has ever said that to me before."
The boy took Neko to an inn. For awhile he spoke to the innkeeper before coming back to her. "I have to go." Neko looked panicked. "But I will be back in three days, okay? Until then you will stay here. Do you have any aunts or uncles?" Neko nodded. "I want you to try to reach them while I'm gone okay. If you haven't gotten a hold of someone you can stay with I'll come back for you, okay?"
"Yes sir." Neko answered sadly. The boy patted her head before handing the Innkeeper some money and leaving.
That night Neko slept fitfully, always awakened by nightmares of her parents' death. The next morning Neko awoke early and was trying to brush her long midnight hair when the innkeeper entered her room with another man right behind him.
"Come here, kid," the tall, black-haired man behind the innkeeper instructed. He had a black mustache and a hard set face. There was something about this man that frightened Neko, so she quickly did as she was told.
The Innkeeper, a slightly older, balder, and fatter man clasped Neko's shoulder. "It's just like I said. Some boy just dropped her off here last night saying both her parents died. Now, I have no use for some snot-nosed kid. What do you think?"
The man with black hair leaned over and grabbed Neko's chin. He moved it from side to side and up and down looking her over. "She has pretty eyes." He tilted her head down and rubbed his hand through her hair. "Soft hair, she's quiet. Yes, I think she would be useful to me." He let go of her face and rummaged through a pocket. He handed the Innkeeper some money.
The greedy Innkeeper took the money. "You will want to leave right away. The boy said he would be back for her in a few days." The man nodded in a agreement and grabbed Neko's wrist.
"Come with me," he ordered but Neko stood firm.
"No! The nice man said he was coming back for me! I have to wait here for him!" she said, tears suddenly falling from her eyes.
Both men laughed at her and the one that held her arm pulled harder. "Yes, that is why we must leave now. You are a slave now and must do as your told." He quickly scooped Neko off her feet and began to carry her away. Before he left he nodded to the Innkeeper. "Pleasure doing business with you." He then left, with a kicking and screaming Neko in his arms.
As he had promised, the boy returned three nights later to check up on Neko. "There was a little girl that I brought here a few days ago. Where is she?" he asked the Innkeeper.
"Oh, it's you," the innkeeper wiped some sweat off his forehead. "She left earlier today with an uncle. She wanted me to thank you for her." The boy looked forlorn. "Hey, at lest she's not your problem anymore."
"Yes, I was just worried about her. I'm glad she is alright." The boy bowed to the Innkeeper. "Thank you for taking care of her."