Disclaimer: I do not own Rurouni Kenshin, which belongs to Watsuki-sama. I am simply borrowing his characters because, at the moment, I'm too lazy to come up with my own. X3

Warnings: The use of tarot/oracle cards; language.

Chapter One

Unable to even think, Kaoru did what instinct told her - she screamed...

...only to stop her vocal cords in their...er...tracks...when someone else managed to out-scream her. Her eyes snapped open of what seemed to be their own accord and she stared at her "captor," who was obviously not the fearsome phantom she'd expected but rather the loony grandfather she hadn't.

A balding head shone even in the dim lighting of the hallway, warped only by the diminishing gray hair that was combed over there. Wrinkled and pale skin hung from a square skeletal structure and sagged around his wise, if surprised, old eyes.

Kaoru supposed that in all her (supposed) grandfather's stunned glory, she must look as shocked as he, but managed to top off the discord by stammering out: "W-who're you?"

The old man blinked at her, obviously taken aback by her rather unanticipated question, before snatching his hand back from her wrist and giving his palms a good rub-down on his sweater, knobbly Adam's apple bobbing noticingly. He seemed to recover slightly thereafter and glared at the blue-eyed girl before him.

"You've gotta lot of nerve to ask me that in my own house," he snapped, crossing his arms and tapping his foot in a way reminiscent of her mother. There was obviously a genetic relation there.

Kaoru crossed her arms too, her irritation growing at an alarming rate. "Oh, do I now?" she demanded, glad that the old man was short like her so she didn't have to look up into his eyes. It lessened her intimidating appearance, she knew from experience, and she wasn't in the mood nor the disposition to take the extra time to back up her proverbial challenges with the sneaky act of lifting herself up on her tiptoes to increase her height. It was low, she knew, but she'd had to do it countless times back home when she'd been "teased" at school or on the way home from it to be taken even the least bit seriously.

Biting remarks were all well and good, but imposing height would have been preferable.

"Indeed! I believe you do! It's impolite to avoid naming yourself before asking the name of someone you aren't in the acquaintanceship of! Tsk, tsk,youngsters these days - so uppity!"

Kaoru had the overbearing temptation to retort with something that would have granted her grandfather a much larger shock than the one he'd previously experienced, but she managed to bite most of it back and instead blurted out the second thing that came to mind - "Yeah, well you're the one that pulled me into your house without asking!"

"Well, you are Kamiya Kaoru, my new granddaughter, aren't you?" he demanded trifily, fluttering his hands about in front of him as though his question was rhetorical but he expected a response anyway.

"Bleh, last time I checked I've been around the past seventeen years - you just haven't gotten off your lazy old ass to come say hello, you bastard!" is what Kaoru wanted to say, but she had to take into consideration that if she wanted (not really, but anyway) this to be her next place of residence, then it might not be the best idea to use that for audible reply.

"Yeah," she mumbled angrily under her breath instead, secretly proud of herself for not spouting every curse word in the book.

"Then follow me, I'll show you to your room if you aren't otherwise occupied staring at the front of the house. I can let you go back out, but I warn you that I won't be opening up the door again until ten o'clock tomorrow morning. Your choice."

Suddenly "grinding your teeth is bad for you" slipped Kaoru's mind and she found herself doing just that. "Thank you," she managed to say before strengthening her grip around the handle of her suitcase and starting up the long staircase after her grandfather at the end of the hall.

There had to be an upside to this place...right?

Sorry that it wasn't extremely long, but now we know her grandfather's a jerk, right? Please review, it's one of my favorite motivations. Tanky. BTW, I'll reply to reviews in the next chapter.

- Midi