Cloth to the floor, Airisu ran down the hall, her cleaning as energetic as everything else she did. A good and bad thing, that: she or her brothers were often sent over to work off a punishment, as her parents were very particular and cleaned their own home themselves. And with the way those children caused mayhem, Kaoru had hardly cleaned in months.

A quick turn at the far end, and now Airisu was passing by again - but from this side, the furrowed brow was obvious.

"Airisu-chan?"

Airisu stopped, and stood, wiping her cheek with the back of her hand. "Yes, Kamiya-sensei?"

Kaoru stepped out into the hall, leaving her bedroom door open. "What's wrong? You look upset."

Airisu hesitated - and wasn't that unlike her? The eldest of the Himura children was always bright, confident, and eager to learn; marking her as one of several likely future masters of Kamiya Kasshin Ryu. What was unsettling her?

"Is everything alright?" For all their squabbles, the Himura children rarely hurt each other's feelings, but there was always the possibility.

"Father's worried," Airisu finally blurted.

Confused, Kaoru tilted her head. "About what?"

Airisu shook her head, chin low, her bangs and the end of her high ponytail brushing her face. "Things at work, but we're not supposed to know. Father says to be careful," here she hesitated again, then confided, "He even started wearing his katana instead of his sakabatou."

Eyes going wide, Kaoru straightened, utterly shocked. If someone that good with a reverse blade felt the need for a katana's faster draw ... well. It said a lot about possible opponents. "Did he say anything else?"

Airisu started tugging the cloth in her hands. "Just - not to go out a lot. And he's thinking about asking if we can stay here for a little while."

Kaoru was shocked all over again. "He wants to stay here?"

Airisu shook her head, briefly. "No, I think just mother and me and Sasuke and Yahiko. But I don't know why he wants us here."

It wasn't too hard to recognize why, Kaoru thought. If you feared your family's safety, where better to have them than surrounded by those who practiced fighting for a living. Though a lack of officers on protection duty implied no one was available to guard the family, so what was keeping every officer in the city that busy?

"Father just says it might be better if we weren't home when he goes to Kyoto."

"Kyoto?"

"Yes, a - a visitor said he should go."

The stutter did not go unnoticed, and Kaoru wondered if their visitor had something to do with the rumors of Okubo-sama being seen in town. This was worrisome; Himura-san being called to leave for Kyoto, of all places, and carrying his katana.

Likely best just to ask what to prepare for, and start moving the family here quietly. Considering Himura-san's assignments, they probably couldn't know more than that. And there was no way she was going to leave her students in need and unprotected.

Kaoru smiled at Airisu, attempting to calm her. "Of course you can all stay here, why wouldn't I look out for three of my students? Can I visit this evening when you go home?"

Relieved, Airisu nodded, and Kaoru gestured toward the floor with a small smile. "As soon as that's done, we can go." Sheepishly, Airisu hurriedly resumed cleaning, while Kaoru stepped back into her room, mentally listing the actions she needed to take. She had to speak with the Himuras, and plan when and how they would move in. Of course, that meant she'd have to pull the spare futons out of storage, and clean out the extra room.

Come to think of it, tomorrow she'd have Sasuke to help her do so.


This is set around - March 1878-ish. Y'know, down the line I could see Yahiko becoming a policeman, Sasuke ending up as part of the Oniwabanshu, and Airisu not quite meeting her goal of mastering every sword style in Tokyo but instead teaching Kamiya Kasshin Ryu.

I posted two of these at once, so if you clicked that little last chapter link thing, you missed one. Well, now it's the last one; it's been fun, but I am DONE. :)