Disclaimer: I don't own anything in this story.
To give credit where credit is due, the reasoning behind why Kenshin and Hiko were able to switch bodies was the original idea of Unseen Watcher. To make the story interesting, it won't be explained until later chapters. However, it was Unseen Watcher's brilliance that made the writing of this story possible. Thanks for letting me borrow your idea!
Also, this story takes place after Mnemonic, but it is not mandatory that you read that story first.
Steel clashed against steel, the sound being heard clearly over the splashing of the waterfall. Kenshin jumped back, his sword gripped tightly in his hands, breathing hard. He hadn't pushed himself this hard in a long time, and he knew he wouldn't be able to last much longer. His harsh breathing was echoed by his opponent, although the latter didn't seem as worn out as Kenshin did. Well, we have been going almost non-stop since noon, Kenshin thought, glancing up at the full moon, partially obscured by clouds. Kenshin had lost track of the time, but --judging by the moon's position-- he guessed the sun to have set a little over an hour previously. He returned his gaze to his opponent.
Across from Kenshin, standing on the rocky ledge protruding in front of the waterfall, stood Hiko Seijiro XIII. He held his katana in front of him, his mantle moving slightly in the breeze. He stood tall and impassive, looking as though he had just begun the fight, as opposed to having been fighting half the day. His breathing, however, indicated otherwise.
This is the first time I've actually been a challenge for him. I'll bet that's annoying him to no end, the rurouni thought, allowing himself to smile. He noticed Hiko shift his weight slightly, preparing to attack. Kenshin did the same, planning to meet his master halfway.
Their blades clashed together again as Kenshin blocked Hiko's katana. Pushing Kenshin back, Hiko quickly sheathed his sword, taking the stance for battoujutsu. Counting on his superior speed to save him, Kenshin quickly mirrored his master's stance and was beginning to draw his sakabato when Hiko's boot hit his left side. The force of the attack knocked Kenshin to the ground, effectively stopping his battoujutsu. Instinctively, he curled protectively around his injured side, although he maintained a firm grip on both his sakabato and sheath.
Hiko stood slightly hunched over, his hand gripping his left side. He looked down, confused. I just kicked Kenshin's left side, so why does mine hurt? I must have pulled a muscle, or something, he thought. He waited for the pain to subside before speaking. "Baka deshi, how many times do I have to tell you this? You rely too much on reading your opponent's moves. Just because I have a sword in my hand doesn't mean I am going to use it."
Kenshin pulled himself to his feet using his sheath before replacing it in his belt. I can't believe I fell for that again, he thought, berating himself. Just once, it would be nice if I had the advantage in size and strength!
The wind blew softly, pushing the clouds until they were completely obscuring the moonlight. Hiko was more tired than he'd like to admit, and he hadn't thought to bring any sake with him. He could use a good drink right about now. I think this sparring match has gone on long enough. Since the clouds are covering the moon, he can't see my stance, so I think I'll use a Ku-zu-ryu-sen.
Kenshin sighed, tiredly. He was ready to call it quits, but he wasn't going down without a fight. This will be my last attack. I need something that is totally unexpected. Give up and walk away? Kenshin shook his head, imperceptibly. Unexpected, yes, but not quite what I'm looking for. He'll be expecting me to use one of the techniques, so that's no good. I could try feinting with my sword and using my foot like he did, but I'm too light for it to have much of an effect against him. But what else is there? Kenshin's eyes widened slightly as he got an idea. Ki! We haven't used any ki-intimidation yet. It won't do much good, but it'll definitely surprise him, perhaps enough to throw him off. Who knows, maybe I'll win, for once. Now, what attack should I use?
Silently, Hiko shifted his stance to that of Ku-zu-ryu-sen. He could tell Kenshin was thinking about what his next attack would be. It would really annoy Kenshin if I catch him off-guard two times in a row. Now, what would take him by surprise? he wondered, flipping his sword so that the blunt side would hit Kenshin. I've got it. I'll use my ki to intimidate him while I'm attacking. He certainly won't be expecting that, and I will be able to humiliate him completely. Perfect.
Kenshin could tell Hiko was about ready to attack, and thought fast. Okay, I want to take him out, if I can, so I'll use the strongest technique I can. I'm not sure I would be able to time it right for an Ama-kakeru-ryu-no-hirameki, so I'll use a Ku-zu-ryu-sen, Kenshin decided, quickly and silently changing his stance.
They lunged toward each other simultaneously, both flaring their ki. Their swords crashed together, the sound seeming deafening in their ears. There was a strange sensation, as if they were each falling, before they were flung apart, both landing on the ground.
The wind ruffled his black bangs as Kenshin stared up, watching as the clouds parted, allowing the moon to light the landscape once more. Well, I lost. Not too surprising, really, but I had hoped that would work... his thought trailed off. Feeling a little less tired than he had a moment ago, he decided he could fight for a while longer. He started to move his cloak so he could put his hand on the ground to push himself up when he realized he didn't have a cloak. Looking down, he saw Hiko's mantle sitting on his shoulders. "Oro?!"
Hiko was stunned. He beat my Ku-zu-ryu-sen. That's not possible. How could he have beaten my Ku-zu-ryu-sen? There is no way I could have lost-- I have the advantage in both size and strength-- it's just not possible that I could have lost! Hiko was brought out of his thoughts as he heard an unfamiliar voice say, "Oro?"
Not having detected anyone approach, Hiko quickly sat up, casting out his senses. He looked around for the intruder, irritably shaking his red hair out of his eyes. He couldn't feel the presence of anyone else but Kenshin. He turned to his deshi, opening his mouth to speak, but the words caught in his throat. He could sense Kenshin's ki, but it was his body that was staring back at him. Looking down, Hiko realized that he was looking at Kenshin's body.
"Shishou?" Kenshin asked, timidly, in Hiko's deep baritone voice.
Hiko looked up again, his eyes flashing amber. He replied in Kenshin's light tenor, almost musical voice. "Baka deshi! What have you done?!"