Author-chan's notes: Hey everyone! I was so glad at how everyone liked the PBKB Club from my other fic "Like Father Like Son" and supported that I do this side story. Don't worry, I'm writing this fic so that you don't have to read "Like Father Like Son" to understand it. (And yes, "Like Father Like Son" is a higher priority fic than this one. I'll only be working on this when I get either a) a hard to get rid of plot bunny or b) writer's block.)
This fic takes place in the middle of the Bakumatsu (1867 to be precise), rather than the Meiji. That means, of course, that some of the PBKB that didn't die until later on in the Bakumatsu and in Toba Fushimi, such as Yamada Minoru, won't be appearing.
Disclaimer: Rurouni Kenshin is owned by Watsuki Nobuhiro, not by poor little A-chan. All hail Watsuki-sama!
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The PBKB Club
(Chapter One: From Death)
Kyoto, June 1867
It was raining. The sky was pitch black, the clouds covering the fearful stars and moon as the heavens wept upon the Earth and humanity. The city of Kyoto, with its dark secrets, tainted ideals, and bloodied streets was wept upon most of all. If any city needed heaven's tears, it was war-torn Kyoto.
Within the city, most of the darkened buildings seemed to be cowering in fear of the approaching night, but there was one in particular that was lighted.
The Shinsengumi Headquarters.
Shiro Yukio, a member of the Shinsengumi's third patrol, was reading a letter, the faintest hint of a smile tugging at his normally serious features.
I await your return to me each day. I pray for your safety. Come back to me. I shall be waiting for you tomorrow at the usual place.
Yukio tucked away the letter, smiling softly to himself. Chiaki was a wonderful woman, one that he hoped to marry. Soon, soon though…
"What are you smiling about, Yukio-kun?" a teasing voice asked. Snapping his head up, Yukio glared at his friend, one Hara Jiro from the second patrol.
"None of your business, Jiro," Yukio muttered.
"Got another letter from Chiaki-chan, eh?" Jiro asked, "Let me see!"
"No!" Yukio yelled as he danced away from Jiro's questing fingers.
"Come on! I bet she's asking you to meet her, right? At the usual place, right?"
"Shut up, Jiro!" Yukio growled, glaring at his friend.
"Aw, come on, Yukio-kun," Jiro whined, "I just want to see!"
"And I said no!" Yukio snapped, "We've got patrol in a couple of minutes anyway, so come on."
"So mean," Jiro sighed as he followed his fried to the courtyard.
The courtyard was cold and wet, and the rain continued to fall down. Both the second and third Shinsengumi patrols were out in the wet, their light blue haori becoming heavy with water. Both Yukio and Jiro had lined up with their squads, waiting from orders from their captains.
"Everyone here?" Saito Hajime, captain of the third patrol questioned, looking around for any empty spaces and finding none, "Good."
"Hope everyone brought their weapons today," Nakagura Shinpachi, the second patrol captain, quipped with a smile, "You're going to need them today."
There was a faint titter among the ranks at Nakagura's joke. It was easier to deal with the fun loving Nakagura compared to the stoic Saito.
"Ahou," Saito snorted, effectively killing the merriment faster than if he had done it with his katana, "This is no time for laughing. Our spies have confirmed that there will be a meeting among several of the top Ishin Shishi leaders at the Akabara inn tonight. Among them will be Katsura Kogoro."
Another murmur ran throughout the courtyard. Katsura, leader of the Choshu Ishin Shishi would be there! Katsura was infamous for slipping away from the Shinsengumi's hands, easily evading them to live another day.
"As you can understand, this mission is very important," Nakagura continued for Saito, his former humor fading, "We need to capture Katsura at all costs, and this is the perfect opportunity. The Akabara only has one exit point. If we cover it, the Ishin Shishi will be trapped like rats. Understand?"
"Let's move out."
The Akabara inn
Katsura Kogoro yawned, completely tired. The talks were long, each side fighting over little details. As he glanced at the clock, he felt a hand on his arm. Glancing over to its owner, he met the cool gaze of his bodyguard and raised an eyebrow to ask what was wrong. The silent guard jerked his head to the door just as Katsura heard the tip-tap of running feet.
"Katsura-sama!" a gasping voice of the innkeeper cried out as the fusuma was thrown open, "The Shinsengumi! They're here!"
"Already?" Katsura cursed under his breath, "Which unit?"
"Second and third."
Katsura cursed again, "Nakagura and Saito."
"They've already begun to surround the building!" the innkeeper cried frantically.
"Do you want me to take care of them, Katsura-sama?" the cold voice of his guard asked, his notable features barely concealed in the dim light.
The innkeeper shivered slightly as he got a good look at Katsura's guard. Cold golden eyes, blood-red hair, cruciform scar…the innkeeper recognized that description. Hitokiri Battousai was in his inn asking the leader of the Choshu Ishin Shishi for permission to kill.
"Is there a back door?" Katsura asked the innkeeper, ignoring Battousai for the moment.
"Y-yes," the innkeeper nodded, "There is a secret passage that leads out to the street, but it is very narrow. We would have to go one at a time. If the Shinsengumi knew that it was there, they could easily cut us down one at a time as we came out."
"Then I'll go first," Battousai replied logically, his hand unconsciously going towards the hilt of his sword.
"Let's go," Katsura agreed, "It's the best chance we have."
"Everyone, into position!" Saito roared over the men, "Surround the place! Don't take any chances! No one is to leave this inn without us knowing!"
"Saito," Nakagura called to the other captain, "Katsura is in there. Don't you think Battousai will be there with him?"
"He better be," Saito growled under his breath, unsheathing his katana.
"We better be careful," Nakagura murmured so that only Saito could hear, "Red has cost us too many men. If we lose more than thirty men tonight to him, it will take forever to recruit more."
"I'll handle Battousai personally then," Saito smirked. Nakagura shook his head.
"I knew you were going to say that."
As the men took their positions, Yukio couldn't help but feel a little bit apprehensive. There was something about the Akabara…
"Something wrong, Yukio-kun?" Jiro, who was right next to him, whispered.
"Aa," Yukio nodded, "There's something about this place, but I can't put my finger on it."
"Why?" Jiro blinked, "Have you been here before?"
"Hai," Yukio murmured, "I was with Chiaki. She and her sister used to worked here and she knew this place pretty well…all of its secrets."
"Yeah," Yukio nodded, "She even showed me this one…Kami-sama!"
"Eh?" Jiro blinked as his friend turned rigid.
"Jiro, get the captains," Yukio ordered, "There's a secret passage that leads out to the street a block from here! It's by the apothecary!"
"Kuso!" Jiro cursed. Suddenly he noticed Yukio heading down the street, "Where are you going?"
"To the passageway's exit," Yukio replied over his shoulder, "If the Ishin know about it, I have to hold them off until you bring the captains over!"
The two split off in separate directions, each racing for time.
Inside the secret passage
The Ishin Shishi along with the inn's staff walked in a single file following one Himura Kenshin. They carried no torches, since the smoke from them would just stifle the escapees within the small space.
"Do you see the exit, Himura-san?" Katsura asked the silent hitokiri turned bodyguard in front of him.
"I can hear the rain," Battousai answered neutrally, "We should be close."
After walking a few more feet, Himura exited the passageway and entered the darkened alleyway.
"Stop right there, Ishin scum!" a voice yelled into the darkness. Himura turned slowly to face the single Shinsengumi, gesturing to the others behind him to wait.
"Stay where you are!" Yukio ordered the barely visible form of the Ishin Shishi soldier that had emerged from the secret passage, "Keep your hands away from your swords, or we'll attack!"
"We?" the ghostly voice of the Ishin soldier asked, causing shivers to run down his spine, "You are alone, Miburo."
Yukio cursed quietly. He had hoped that the Ishin wouldn't have noticed that and would have gone by the fact that the Shinsengumi always worked as a unit and assume he had backup. Damn it, but he was given no time to get any of the others to come and help him!
"I can still fight you," Yukio spat, readying his sword. The Ishin simply cocked his head and stepped forward so that Yukio could see him.
Yukio all of a sudden felt completely detached from the world, from his body as that one Ishin Shishi stepped into the faint pool of moonlight. He should have know, he should have! Katsura Kogoro was at the Akabara; it only made sense that his infamous hitokiri turned bodyguard would be there as well.
"Hitokiri Battousai," Yukio whispered, feeling a wave of dread overcome him. No one, save the captains, had fought Battousai and lived. And even some of the captains came home nursing wounds that, if they had been a touch deeper, would have been fatal.
"Come," Battousai whispered, crouching down into his favored battoujutsu stance.
Yukio's eyes narrowed in determination. He had to hold Battousai and the other Ishin Shishi off until the captains came. He didn't have to fight Battousai to the death, just exchange a few blows. If he could keep the Ishin Shishi there for a minute or so, everything would work out. Swiftly, he brought his sword up in ready position.
"Let's go," Yukio hissed, launching himself forward.
To Yukio, his mad rush at the famed hitokiri was slow, the distance between them taking forever to bridge even though his body screamed that he was pushing it to its physical limits.
The gap began to close between the determined Shinsengumi and the stoic Ishin.
Then, out of nowhere, Battousai moved.
"Sou Ryu Sen!"
In a blink of an eye, Yukio's chest was carved open with a blindingly fast battoujutsu, causing his mind to blank out at the last moment. He didn't even feel Battousai's iron sheath slam into his side, breaking a few ribs.
Yukio lay on the ground, his vision fading. His chest was gaping open and one of his broken ribs was poking out of the grisly wound. The Shinsengumi member was going into shock, his thoughts becoming incoherent. He barely felt the pain, barely understood what was happening.
'I don't want to die!' Yukio fading mind screamed, 'W-what will happen to Chiaki if I die?'
A few tears trickled out of his eyes, mixing with the rain and his blood.
The bloody, bloody rain.
Yukio's last vision was that of Battousai bending down over him, the hitokiri's quiet voice surprisingly clear over the roar of rain.
"May you find happiness in the next world."
Then, Shiro Yukio, age nineteen, died.
Author-chan's notes: And there you have it! Obviously this isn't the end, so just read on!
Yeah the chapter is kind of short, but all my first chapters are short. The next ones will be hopefully longer. And yes this chapter was a bit dark. Those of you who read "Like Father Like Son" know that when dealing with the PBKB Club, it won't stay that way for long.
But look forward to more of Battousai, the Shinsengumi (especially Saito), and the first official appearance of the PBKB Club.
Next Chapter: Comes Life, Sort Of