Disclaimer: No matter how much I want it to be otherwise, it's not mine. Not of it is…except for this story…and even that must come to an end…

The Way it Is

Time dragged to a stop as Kenshin's mouth went dry, seeing Shishio holding Kaoru hostage. He forced his mind to clear, trying to detach himself from the situation enough to work it out. Around him he heard the others talking, but didn't understand any of it, his attention focused only on the two figures in front of him.

"Shit." The single explanative was all Sano could say, as he glanced at Yahiko, the younger man also just as alarmed.

"Dammit…too late." Saitou muttered.

The young officer so bent on arresting Kenshin was frozen, slack jawed. 'Rookie' Yahiko thought in disgust.

Aoshi spoke quietly into his radio, trying not to make too quick a movement, his voice lost among the sounds from the cars. "Hostage situation, I report we have a hostage situation at 1039 Sunset…"

The other officers all were still as well, the confrontation only lasted moments, but for those standing there it seemed to stretch on for hours.

"Drop your weapons." Shishio's voice rasped out, breaking the silence. For a moment no one responded, and he dug the gun deeper into Kaoru's throat, making her cry out suddenly. "I said drop them!"

Kenshin moved slowly, nodding to the others to do it. Sano, Yahiko, Saitou and the young officer slowly moved to pull their guns, and to drop them to the ground below them. Kenshin wasn't sure what was happening with the officers behind them, and didn't dare look.

"Let her go." Kenshin started carefully. "I'm the one you want, she has nothing to do with this!" his voice was desperate.

Shishio sensed that, and it delighted him. "Don't worry, I will kill you. When I'm ready to." Another twist of the gun barrel.

Kaoru looked at Kenshin, terror clear on her face. "Kenshin please…" she managed to get out.

"Let her go." Kenshin repeated. "Take me…but leave her be."

A general up cry went up around him. "Kenshin!" "What the hell do you think you're doing?" "You idiot what are you doing?"

He ignored them, focusing in only on Shishio. "What do you say? I'm worth more to you then her." He hoped he could sound convincing.

Suddenly the door next door slammed open, and Dr. Genzai peered out, with Ayame looking out from around his legs. Yahiko was closest and saw this, spinning to face them. "Get back inside!" He barked.

As they turned back inside quickly, Shishio made his move, suddenly shoving Kaoru away from him. With another sharp cry she stumbled off the step as Shishio swung his gun on Kenshin instead. Kaoru saw this in just a split second.

"No!" she threw herself at Kenshin, hitting him and knocking him to the ground as Shishio's bullet ricocheted off a tree in the front yard, before breaking a window out of one of the patrol cars. At exactly the same moment Aoshi had his gun out, and Saitou recovered his own dropped weapon, both bringing them up and firing at Shishio. He dropped to the ground, even as he bled out on the pavement he let out a low, maniacal, guttural laugh.

"Battousai…you won…but I'll see you…in hell!" He wheezed out, as though somehow he'd still come out winning, before he slumped against the pavement, lying still and silent.

Everyone stood still for a moment, only the flickering of the patrol car lights breaking the stillness. Saitou put away his gun with the air of someone finally finishing business. Sano and Yahiko picked up theirs as did the young and still stunned looking officer. Around the corner came the cry of more sirens, too late to finish the situation but in time for the cleanup.

Kenshin slowly moved to sit up again, wrapping an arm around Kaoru who was still on top of him. Kaoru looked at him, he looked at her. After neither were sure who moved first, but they found themselves locked in a kiss brought on by two people both relieved to be alive, and to find the other alive. The others looked on, the threat was passed, but there was still the aftermath.


A few days later found Kenshin and Saitou again at the office.

"Interesting what happened…the reports say they found the bombs still on his body, he didn't even get the chance to plant them in your house." Saitou commented, earning a nod from Kenshin. He didn't want to think about the possibilities if they hadn't caught him before he'd had the chance to plant them.

"As to that woman, Yumi she's being transferred to a high security prison, but they're watching her. They said she just about went crazy when they told her about Shishio. That she claimed all she wanted was to help save him, to finally be able to do something to help him." Saitou shrugged as he continued.

Kenshin nodded slightly. "I remember her, she was always around him…incredibly loyal, no matter what he did…"

Just then Sano and Yahiko walked into the room, laughing about something. Sano walked over, nudging Kenshin in the side with his elbow, a little harder then the redhead had expected.

"So you and Kaoru are an item now? Told ya, didn't I?" Sano teased.

"Sano…shut up. It's not like you have room to talk." Yahiko retorted, laughing at his friend.

"Yeah well, Megumi did agree to go out with me after all. Especially after I went through the whole phone book and found her a carpet shampooer…and even arranged it for her! She said any guy thoughtful enough to do something practical for her might not be all bad!" Sano smirked back.

"You are quite the determined one." Kenshin laughed.

The others laughed with him, then Yahiko sobered slightly. "I still can't believe this is our last day together, as a unit."

Saitou looked up at Kenshin and spoke again. " Did you talk to Seijuro again? What did he say?"

Kenshin shrugged. "He offered me my job back…seeing as how I was right about this after all that. But I turned him down. I've been doing this for over 15 years, and I'm ready to do something else…I have other things I can do." He looked at the others. "What about you guys? What's gonna happen to you now?"

Saitou nodded, satisfaction obvious on his face. "I've been moved back to special operations. Detective Shinomori has asked for my help on a few of his cases as well, he needs people to help with the 'footwork'"

Sano was once again eating a donut, as he grinned at the others. "I'm gonna work with the K-9 program. It's what I wanted to do originally…"

"I'm being shifted to another unit, Unit 34. I've heard they see a lot of action." Yahiko looked pleased at this prospect as well. "Yeah, Seijuro made some comment about not needed to keep 42 any more…something about having proved ourselves or something…."

Sano grinned wider. "About time he saw that. Though…I am gonna miss you guys. I'm even gonna miss jazz in an empty parking lot at 4 am…" He laughed, trying to make light of it.

"We'll still see each other, that we will. It's not like we're leaving to go far away…" Kenshin gave his usual soft smile.

"Still, it's been good working with you." Sano stood up to shake hands, first with Saitou, then Yahiko reached over and gripped their hands, Kenshin reaching over finally and putting his hand on top of the pile. "Yeah, you guys too. At least I wasn't just another dumb rookie to you guys." Yahiko half smiled.

After a moment the four let go of the handshake, no one else saying anything. There really was nothing more to be said.

"Kenshin? You coming?" a new voice cut into the silence. Kenshin turned to look at Kaoru, smiling from the doorway.

He smiled back. "Yeah…I'm ready." He nodded to the other three, then caught up to her, wrapping an arm around her waist. The others exchanged knowing looks, before making their way out of the room as well. Maybe this chapter had closed behind them, but there would be more to come, and they all knew that eventually, their paths would all cross again.

The End?

And it's with defiantly mixed and bittersweet feelings I reach the end of this story. It's the longest piece I've ever written (and actually finished!) on my own, and I have to say out of anything I've done the piece that I've had the most fun with. Believe it or not this was all inspired by two things, first was a ride along I did with the local police department, which was really eye opening to how things are really done, verses what we see on TV, and secondly…the weird yet persistent image of Sano…in a cop's uniform eating a donut. I decided I had to come up with some kind of story I could use that in…and this grew…. and grew…and grew into what my sister refers to as a 'Plot Godzilla'…a long, involved story that moves far beyond 'plot bunnies'. I want to thank from the bottom of my heart everyone who's read and enjoyed this story. This story has gotten the most hits, the most reviews, and is on more favorite and alert lists then anything else I've written! Its that interest and love from you that keepscrazy fanfic writers like me doing this, without any of you, why bother sharing our stories? Thank you all again, and see you around again soon!