The usual disclaimer: I do not own anything in the kenshin universe, as much as I'd like too. But sadly do not. So all credit goes to Nobuhiro Watsuki.

Steel soul

Smile, nod, wave. Smile, nod, wave. I do as I am told. Always listening to the man

In front of the procession. I want to please him. I honor his wishes

He has made me feel useful. Not just endless training day, after day.

I need to help those like me, the ones who do not have the pleasure of riches and

privileges. I eagerly do as he commands.

One day he takes me aside and asks me a rather startling question. "Kenshin I need

you to become a protector. I look at his calm face. "I need your sword to be my arm of

justice."

"I need you to kill, can you do that?"

I nod, mildly shocked. I am glad he has asked me personally to do this thing. The

one thing master warned me about.

There is a lump of sadness lodged in my throat, remembering how mad he had been

the day I left. He turned his back to me, saying it was pointless to talk to a howling dog.

How that rejection still stings.

Sometimes I wonder if I should have stayed. Master would have been happy, but I

would not. I guess in some strange way I feel better that we are both miserable.

I have no trouble killing. The path of the sword is the path of death. The sword is a

tool that I use, making me an extension of the tool. So I am also a tool. An unfeeling,

lethal tool.

My problem is I do feel, down in the deepest pits of my soul. A little red headed boy

is looking back at me with tears staining his delicate face.

I maintain my control of him. He dare not escape. That is the old me. I am no longer

that miserable child. I have a purpose. I am a tool used to kill, nothing more then cold,

hard steel

With each death I become swifter, a blur before death. My soul hardening stronger.

I must become harder then steel.

The child in the pit cries harder with each death. I shove him further down. That

child, I need to keep him safe. He just does not understand. I have kept him hidden

since I was sold to the slavers. It seems my life was meant to be a tool of some kind.

I surround him in softness, but still he cries. I can no longer sleep because of the

crying, from inside and outside. Ah well! a tool does not need things like sleep.

Each passing year I grow stronger, harder, the child becoming a memory. He makes

no sounds, at least I do not hear him. I get a little peek once in awhile, but close him

back up.

There is one point that he is able to sneak out. I have been told to hide until further

notice. They send the woman that I saved to act as my wife.

It is otherworldly how calm my life has become. The child escapes and is pleased

with way things are going. I need to keep a watchful eye on him. The world still has

hidden dangers.

Is this the way I could have been? Happy, content, falling in love? I still do not let

my guard down all the way but allow my gentle side to prevail. We can relax. Shinta and

I come close to being one person.

Again I feel the sting of rejection and this time betrayal is mixed in.

The child is in agony. I must lock him away to protect him.

Do I kill her or do I forgive her and find happiness once again?

I walk like death. I am numb, hard steel fills me up.

I am moving on impulse alone.

I hear her cries over the clash of metal.

I feel her weight as she falls against me, dying.

I have unwittingly killed my love, my soul shatters.

I accept the touch of her blade on my face. It is all I can do for her. One small kiss

of death.

I take her now lifeless body home, clean and dress her. Ready for the death ritual.

I want to die also. She would not like for me to do that, so I do not.

The boy and I are both in tears.

How can anything mend such a broken soul?

I have been asked to return to war. I agree, but to my terms alone.

Only I will know when that time is. Or is it Shinta who will know?

I find that I am walking in a strangely quiet world. The cries of steel are a distant

The boy and I try to come to some agreement. I have so much to make up for.

Each night the spirits of the dead haunt me. I must do what I can to help others. My

atonement will not be easy.

I have a long debate with myself about returning to my master. I do not think it

would go well, so I do not travel that road.

There is so much I can and need to do to begin to mend our soul.

We have agreed I will protect and he will cherish. Each suited for this task.

He hides in the face of danger, and in return I let him play

He is still so child like. His presence is like the brush of a butterfly's wing. Taking

in all the wonders of the world.

We are becoming a part of each other.

Wide eyed Shinta and I, the former demon of Kyoto.