Disclaimer: Nope. Nope. Still don't own Ruroken... Man, I'm getting to the point where I wish I owned it, just so I wouldn't have to constantly write these little disclaimers!


The tall swordsman sighed, walking slowly through the dark streets of Kyoto. Night had fallen, and he was on his way home to drink his sake.


Another reason to be angry. Before that baka had left, he'd never cared if he was alone. Hiko's eyes were dark.

No. I won't think about him. He's sold his soul. I don't even know if he has one anymore.

Perhaps that last thought was a bit cruel. Could Kenshin really have fallen so far? Wasn't it possible that the rumors weren't entirely true? It wasn't as though Hiko had seen this "demon" for himself...

He shook his head and kept walking. The sooner he got away from Kyoto, the better. The peace and quiet of his home would help him think...

But all thoughts of peace and quiet were immediately dashed from his mind as a mass of approaching ki drew his attention. Aggressive ki.

He snorted. Great. Bandits, probably. Here to make his day complete... And with no moon, it was going to be nearly impossible to see. Meaning, he might even take a hit. Kuso. He'd have to waste good sake on treating wounds...

Carefully, he set his freshly bought sake jug down near the base of a large tree. No point in ruining his purchase. And after a night like tonight, he was probably going to need it, anyway.

Turning, he faced the ki. As he turned, he felt another ki, this one much stronger, coming up behind him.

Hiko furrowed his brow. But that one felt different... Dangerous, but not threatening...

He wasn't given time to think on it. There was a shout as he was attacked.

He assumed it was his cloak that made them think he was wealthy. Made them stupidly throw away their lives for money. They saw something different and assumed he was a worthy target.

They were all bakas. Dead bakas.

His sword was out. "Get back," he commanded, giving them a chance. Just one. As he always did. As he'd taught Kenshin to do.

Not now. Don't think of him now.

But it would have been kind of nice having him here to fight at his side. Maybe this time he'd have even had a kind word for him. One small regret. He'd never had the chance to tell the boy how impressive his skills actually were. The boy had left thinking he was nothing more than a baka deshi.

Not now...

The bandits didn't listen to his warning. One. Two. Three. A clash of metal. Spurts of blood. The tearing of material. Of flesh. They all blended in his ears as he sliced the bandits down.

It was over as suddenly as it had begun. The fools had been easy to kill. Why hadn't they just listened?

Why don't they ever listen?

He wiped his blade. He didn't even hear the one come at him from behind until a moment too late. His dark eyes widened in surprise. This was what happened when his mind wandered. He became a target...

His sword was partially raised, when the mysterious ki he'd read earlier appeared again, in the form of a dark form from the shadows. There was a quick slash of a sword. The shadow moved lithely, neatly cutting the bandit in two.

Hiko just stared. The swordsman was skilled. But who was he?

The lone figure was only a dark shadow in Hiko's vision. "Who are you?" he asked, surprised. His voice was sharp, but he wasn't used to being taken by surprise. It discomforted him.

He tried again when the man didn't answer. "You're a fine swordsman."

The man hesitated a moment and nodded his head before disappearing into the shadows.

Hiko stared after him. What had that been about? Who the hell was that? He shook his head, clearing his thoughts, and picked up his sake jug, to continue on his way out of the city to his home in the mountains.

Why the hell do all of the weird things have to happen to me?

From the shadows of a building, the dark figure watched the swordsman vanish in the night. It had only been a coincidence that they'd crossed paths. That his target had only been one street away. But it was a coincidence in his favor.

He brushed his red hair out of his eyes, straining to watch the outline of the man who had been his shishou.

He finally turned and walked away, back to Katsura-san, and those who would call him demon.

He preferred fallen angel.

His shishou's words came to mind once again. A fine swordsman? A rare smile touched his lips.

Or perhaps he preferred baka deshi after all...

Author's Note: What a weird little fic. This idea has been bouncing around in my head for soooo long. I don't know why. But I like the idea of having Hiko bump into the hitokiri without knowing it. I could see Kenshin in Battousai's mindset having a different ki than Hiko would be used to... Heh... poor Hiko... Anyway, this was written very quickly, very spur of the moment, with very little editing. But I just wanted to post it as-is, because I'll nitpick otherwise, and this really isn't high enough quality work to spend that much time nitpicking over details...

Well, thanks for reading. Please review!

Dewa mata!