Disclaimer: The characters of Rurouni Kenshin are not mine. I am using them without the permission of their owner. By writing and posting this story I am in no way gaining profit.

Line Breaks are changes in view, time and/or scene.

:: Words :: in colons dictate setting.

Words in Italics are thoughts and emphasis.

Words in Bold are sixth sense perceptions. (i.e. ki sense.)

Words in Bold and Italic are the inner speech of Hitokiri. (i.e. Battousai talking to Kenshin)

Author's Note: Please pay attention to the dates. They're there for a reason. Story rated for some moderate to hard language. Thank you. —TS

:: May 15th ::

:: 11.18 pm ::

:: JE 394 ::

Sight and sound blurred into something unrecognizable, feeling vanished in a haze of numbness. Smell exploded across his senses, a horrible mix of smoke, metal, and the unmistakable sulfur of the Touched. He stumbled, only aware of it on an unconscious level. Pain flared in his right shoulder, knees giving out from under him. When he hit the floor everything snapped back into focus with a terrifying clarity.

A knife was coming at him.

Kenshin watched as his partner paled, stumbled, and fell. A sharp breath escaped the boy, color returning and eyes coming into focus. Kenshin dodged an incoming attack, and turned to see a knife flying at the kneeling Agent.


As if heading his call, Sanosuke looked up. Too late Battousai whispered in his head, and Kenshin knew it spoke the truth. He could not get there in time, and Sano's human reflexes couldn't save him. Just when hope drained from the Hitokiri, Sanosuke's aura flared with a brightness he'd only felt in Touched. And then the boy moved, a jerk to the side that should have been clumsy and slow, but was executed with the quick grace of an animal. Sparks jumped in his vision, and Kenshin lost his partner in the fight.

Uh-…What? Agent Sanosuke Sagara of the Sekihotai First Division looked down at the corpse spread at his feet. Knew the Lamia was dead, just as surely as he knew he was the one that killed her. Not that he could actually remember the act, everything after the pain in his shoulder was vague feelings and images, and a bone-deep knowing that this vampire was dead and he had done it. Another bodyguard came at him, human this time (not quite sure how he knew that, but was too busy fighting to think about it) and so easy to dispatch. Sanosuke could see Kenshin across the room, the glint of his sword just a flash as he took down three attackers with one swing. The head of reddish auburn hair was just visible through his own crowd of attackers, thankfully not the pure scarlet of Battousai. He didn't think he could handle that right now.

Sword still sheathed at his waist Sanosuke lunged at the closest figure, dodging a swipe and delivering an uppercut that threw his attacker's head back with a crunch of broken vertebrae. Not even pausing, Sano turned to the next. This strength was normal for him, even if it wasn't for other humans. When he'd joined Aku Sentou, a division of the police that dealt with the Touched, all kinds of tests had been run to try and figure out what the cause was; to see if maybe one of his real parents had been Touched. Fortunately for him, Sanosuke was 100 percent pure human.

Eventually the gang was taken down and their leader was arrested. Sanosuke snapped on handcuffs made of special alloy and pushed the Touched man into the grasp of Sweeper Agents. He was exhausted; strange, because usually he's hyped after a fight and only getting drunk will put him to sleep. Sanosuke shook it off, absently rubbing at his right shoulder.

"Sano," It had hurt really badly earlier. He wasn't sure why, Megumi had said the wound was healing nicely. "Sano?" Damn! That got him thinking about that bastard Saitou. He really should challenge him to a fight. Hand to hand, no swords. Stupid he may be, but Sanosuke wasn't that stupid. "Sanosuke!" Sano's head jerked to the left, eyes falling upon Kenshin's worried face. "What's wrong?"

"Nothin' man. Just tired is all." Kenshin smiled and nodded his head. Sano's partner would accept that, because while he knew Sanosuke had a drinking problem, he didn't know why. It was the only way he could get to sleep at night.

"Well then, you'd better get home. Come in early so we can give our report. Sleep well." Sanosuke yawned. Yeah, he'd sleep well. As he was walking out the door Kenshin called to him again. "Oh, and Sano? It would be wise to get Megumi to check your shoulder again, that it would."

Well damn!

:: March 31st ::

:: 1.08 pm ::

:: JE 394 ::

Sanosuke frowned at Kenshin's empty apartment. He had told Kenshin he was coming over, right? Damn, the guy was probably out to lunch. He could have bummed a free meal. Not to mention, the fact he was even here in the first place was because Kenshin had borrowed his sword; something about proper maintenance and inept partners. And Sanosuke had no idea where it was.

Startled out of his contemplation by a knock, Sano opened Kenshin's door to a salesman. He was clean cut in a pressed Navy and gray suit, not expensive but presentable. His hair was slicked back, long strands falling into his face – probably in an attempt to dissuade the picture of superiority that the hairstyle usually tried to portray. The salesman started talking, opening a kit to display the brand of painkillers he was selling. He smiled at Sano pleasantly, eyes closed as if to say 'look at me, I'm sincere, please buy my stuff.' It really bugged him.

So Sanosuke, being himself, spit out the rudest thing he could think of.

:: May 16th ::

:: 6.32 am ::

:: JE 394 ::

Sanosuke yawned, propping his feet up on Kenshin's desk. When he'd walked in on time this morning the receptionist at the front desk nearly died of shock – she did fall out of her chair. Myers had spilt his coffee, and Tomoe had dumped hers out in a conveniently placed potted plant, muttering something about coffee, Americans, andnever again. When he'd walked into the office that he and Kenshin shared, however, all he'd gotten was smile and a Hello Sano for his trouble. Damn Hitokiri, never startled by anything. It was that ki sense of theirs, sensing people before they were even in sight.

Unluckily, (or luckily, depending on the situation) the Battousai strain of Hitokiri was one of the stronger ones, thus his unbelievable ki sense. It was why Kenshin was here, working with Sanosuke. The infection had been purposeful and malicious, Kenshin Himura a civilian child who had been in the wrong place at the wrong time and with the wrong people. And Battousai had really taken to Kenshin, who was already a master of the sword and whose DNA was just too compatible with the virus. Then there was the incident with Jin-e Udo; Udo, while not very powerful, was a particularly nasty and vicious Hitokiri strand, and unknown Battousai infected Kenshin Himura had been the one to, incredibly, deal with him. The Shinsingumi had lost a good man when the virus took Kazuma Jin-e.

So Aku Sentou, not willing to let such a dangerous Battousai infected run free, had 'offered' Kenshin a job. Sanosuke, being from the Sekihotai division, had been assigned as his partner. The Sekihotai were specifically trained to be the human partner for the Touched that worked at Aku Sentou. While Sekihotai watched, grounded, assisted, and protected their partners, their most important job was to kill their partner if the Touched ever posed a threat or looked like they were going rouge. Kenshin knew this, of course; Sanosuke had insisted Kenshin be there when he'd Pledged it. Kenshin had just smiled and thanked him. It was the first time they met.

"So of those twenty six I took down, three of them are dead." Kenshin said aloud as he marked which people he'd apprehended last night by identifying their photos. His smile was gone, probably adding those three to his mental tally of people he killed. Sanosuke didn't say anything – had nothing to say, considering he had his own tally. And Kenshin's sum of dead people was a lot lower than his.

One word: pacifist.

"The rest must be mine then, let's see . . .-" Sanosuke traced his finger down the list of names still left, saying them out loud absently.

"What!?" Kenshin's head shot up from his report.

"What?" Sanosuke asked. Kenshin had a strange look on his face.

"Tell me that last one again."

"Uh . . . Yumi Minamino, why?"

"Sano, Yumi is a powerful Lamia; a legend for her hypnotic abilities. Aoshi would have had trouble standing up to her, if only because humans are so susceptible to her power. I'm sorry, but there is no way you could have taken her." Kenshin's words made Sanosuke stop and think. Sure, he'd never been normal (well, maybe when he was really little, but that wasn't relevant) and spells and such generally had a lesser affect on him than most humans. But the way Kenshin was explaining this vamp made this different . . . and disturbing, as the memory of the female Lamia at his feet came to mind.

"I remember her." Sanosuke said thoughtfully. "Black hair, colored contacts, slutty dresser? Yeah, I remember. Problem is I don't actually remember killing her." There was a pause, Kenshin's violet eyes watching intently, and waiting. "Do you . . ." Sanosuke started, frown pulling at his lips. "Did you see when I stumbled?" Kenshin nodded. "It was like, a dizzy spell. Everything got fuzzy, and my shoulder started to hurt like crazy. There was something after that, I can't remember well. Then it was like I woke up from sleeping or something and Yumi was dead at my feet. That's all there was." Kenshin had that look on his face again, his eyes troubled.

"Sano, why don't you go get us some donuts from the lounge and I'll finish up this report." Kenshin smiled at him pleasantly, the look on his face saying he needed to think.

"Sure, Ken." Sanosuke stood and left the office. He needed to think too.

I know the fight scene at the beginning was dull, but that was intentional. I can write fight scenes, to an extent, but it was supposed to convey that the whole raid was easy for Sanosuke and Kenshin. Also, Sano's absentminded thoughts as he fought were important background information.

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