(# 16 Present, Reward, Jackpot.)

Summary : (AU) Hijikata Toshizo (Peacemaker Kurogane)/Setsuna Meiou

The air of mystery she held was ever so tempting, and yet made him cautious. So, it all balanced on the hand that was currently being played.

Royal Flush

He sat with crossed legs before the dark-haired woman, his eyes measuring as she sipped the last of her tea. Things in the Shinsengumi had been abnormally quiet since the last successful raid on the ChÇshã clan hideout. It had made him uncomfortable, and restless, not knowing what his enemies maybe planning while he rested. That's why when the next mission to Okinawa came up, and he went instead of sending his bumbling page on said mission. It had been a month to this day that the mission had started, to find another spy for the Shinsengumi. A subtle shift had his attention back on the woman who shuffled the cards with an elegant hand.

Her olive tanned face was blank, her ruby eyes betraying nothing as the cards were dealt between the two. She had been the second one he had spotted that would be worthy enough to become a spy for them. However, she spoke very little, and every action was measured with accuracy. He had no background to go on, and the vice-commander was about ready to forgo this one as well, if not for the deal she had just agreed too. She kneeled before him with half-closed eyes, observing, and yet, seemingly unaware as she brushed her dark hair back. Picking up his hand, he mused over his cards while keeping one eye on the female across from him.

Setsuna absently reached for her dormant powers, she would be reborn back into her home world soon. She felt her other self reaching for her beyond the gates of time, waiting for their soul to conjoin again. A stroke of movement across from her had her eyes sliding to the male. He had come into the small gambling house every night for the past month. Though he offered little in the way of explanation, Setsuna knew all she needed. Judging by the way, he studied everything with sharp black eyes noted him to be a dangerous swordsman. Though his physical attributes mark him to be the "Shinsengumi's Demon," a Japan-renown slayer. Setsuna had also not missed the admiring, and measuring gazes he had given to her from time to time when he thought she was preoccupied. She was meant to guide this world on a fairly well off path, except for the part she was to play, she was meant to become a spy. As her senshi duty was to guide the world, and not to interfere she was a bit unbalanced with the course Cronus had ordered her to take. Setsuna glance at her hand with an established eye, though she really shouldn't bother she was fated to loose.

"Remember, you are to become my spy if I win." His voice was supple and rich as he reminded her of the prize. Setsuna only gazed him with a ruby spectacle before setting a card face down by the deck. She tilted her head a little as if to instruct him to continue and he flicked a gaze back to his cards. Shrewdly he tossed four cards down and flicked a glance toward her as if daring her to say something, but she merely dealt him four new cards.

Setsuna picked up a card for her self and placed it in a certain position in her hand before looking back to her opponent. "Dealer has high straight." She spoke crisply while placing down her five cards. Hijikata flicked a eye at her cards before laying his down, the royal family glaring up from their position.

"Royal flush." Hijikata spoke evenly and Setsuna nodded while standing up gracefully. He followed the example and led her to his hotel to wait out the night. She followed quietly behind, saying nothing and if not for her breathing Hijikata wouldn't have even known she was there. Sliding his eyes to the left to gaze at her, he knew that he made no further of a breach into her defenses.

"Why did you agree to the deal?" He asked cautious of the woman who was to become his spy. From what he gathered she was not apart of any clan before now and he was only accepting her based on the other vice-captain's word about her credentials.

"It benefits both of us." She answered while staring at a wall. Hijikata had to admire her tact and beauty, but you couldn't take any at face value.

"I do not see how the deal benefits you." Hijikata spoke, as he was going to leave her alone after tonight if she had agreed to the deal.

"It is for someone special." Setsuna said giving away nothing but a morsel of information.

"Did you lose a guy to the other clans?" He inquired, countenance tight, he had enough clan members who only joined for revenge.

"No." Setsuna stated, cold and untouchable while attempting to sit down without being rude. Hijikata shrugged then out of questions he could press, but tonight would be the one that reveals if she is trustworthy or not. They turned to sleep, however he set himself to stay awake to watch the woman. She either didn't notice, which he doubted, or didn't care and fell into a silent sleep.

Hijikata spent this time to observe the tan woman with a shrewd, and at the same time leering eye. She was beautiful, too beautiful, which caused him to stay alert because beautiful women tended to be deadly. Observing the woman was deep into sleep, he stole over and ran a quick check of any hidden weapons. Surprisingly he found none, which caused him to relax, Sannan had given him a good spot of information. Not that were too many spies to pick from any more and he needed someone other Susumu because having only one spy tended to tax their information circuit.

Well, even if she didn't work out as a successful spy she could take the position of the cook of the Shinsengumi. After all, she was his reward, his prize, and in this day and age that held a lot of power. He settled back falling into a half-sleep that he was cursed with, his eyes never leaving her form. What a nice little prize she was indeed were his last thoughts as he fell into dreams.