Disclaimer- I don't own Rurouni Kenshin.

AN: The second in my Truth series. I'm pretty sure Kenshin had sake before that part in the OVA, put just play along.

Hitokiri Battousai hated public places. They made him wary and on guard, even here, in an Ishin friendly restaurant, he could never fully relax, and let his guard down.

Such was the life of the rapidly becoming infamous Hitokiri.

The waitress set a cup of sake down in front of him, to go with his meal. He paused... he had never partaken of sake as of yet. But, he wanted to be gone as soon as possible, and would drink what was given.

As he lifted the drink, he paused, and looked into the clear liquid, which shimmered in the light.

It reminded him of Shishou... of the way his master never let go of his beloved jug of sake, and was always simonizing its properties.

He had never understood his master's love of the rice wine, nor Shishou's explanations of the importance of the drink. To Shinta, water had been water, and all liquids were under the same generalizations. To Kenshin, water had also been the source of suffering, as he continuously was knocked by his master into the freezing river.

Shishou had said that sake could explain your mood... if it was bitter, there was something wrong with you.

"You'll someday taste sake. When the time comes, let's drink it together."

Kenshin felt a slight pang of regret and sadness. Another broken promise to his master...

And even if he could share it with Shishou, would his estranged master even want to share sake with a murderer?

Murderer... yes... that was what he was. A sword, a tool for politics...

How had it come to this? Where did it all go so wrong?

He had come to protect people, to use the Hiten Mitsurugi to protect people... and instead he was a Hitokiri, an assassin... a murderer.

This was not the ideals his master had taught to him.

Killing to protect the innocent, to bring justice... those were the ideals of Hiten Mitsurugi.

Not to bring a new world, not to overthrow a government, however corrupt.

Shishou's words came back to him... that the Mitsurugi sword was a free sword, one that could not, should not be controlled by others.

To do so would be a murderer in place of a protector.

Was it Katsura to blame? Should he be angry with the man, for turning him from a protector to a murderer... no... a monster?

No. He made the choice... it was his decision to become a Hitokiri, it was his decision to reject his master's orders...

The only fault, the only blame lay with he, and he alone.

Kenshin resisted the urge to sigh, almost setting down his drink, the irrational urge to throw the drink away barely suppressed, as if it would banish the terrible memories and choices made in his mind.

Indecision plagued him for a moment, darkly amusing him that a single cup of wine would make him this agitated.

In the end, Hitokiri Battousai drank the rice wine.

The sake was bitter.