D/C: I don't own Rurouni Kenshin.

Hello!! I'm back with a new S X M fic!! Did I take long to update this one? I'm sorry, but I really wanted to have a few chapters (three) written first before I can submit it; it makes things so much easier for me; this was I won't have to juggle between my writings and my studies, and gives me enough free time of my own (Yes, I do have a life, you know!). Well, anyway, I'll stop babbling now and let you get on with the first chapter, okay? Enjoy!!

Chapter 1:

The subway station was an ideal place to hide if you were running away from a couple of gangsters...or at least, that's what the movies always said. Clutching her bulging stomach, Megumi Takani made her way down the stairs that led to the subway station. Panting, she merged into the crowds of swarming people, hoping to lose herself in them. She looked frantically around her shoulder to see if she had managed to shake off her tails, but to her dismay, she saw them making their way through the people towards her; the two guys dressed in black suits. Those two had been chasing her around for a while now, but no matter where she went, she just couldn't seem to able to lose them.

She was already feeling on the verge of tears, and was getting more tired by the minute; her feet just couldn't carry her and her baby around anymore. She looked down at her belly, and touched it fondly. Her seven-month-old baby...the unborn baby who seemed to be the cause of all her troubles. Many times she had thought of going and getting herself an abortion, but she had always held herself back just in time. For the hundredth time that month, she wished that she hadn't even gotten pregnant in the first place.

Shaking those thoughts out of her head, she hurried to the tickets' booth and bought herself a ticket. She ran out onto the platform, and almost couldn't believe her luck when she saw a train waiting there. But then, she was filled with dread as the doors started to close. She ran towards the train; she just had to make it inside. Her whole life, and her baby's, seemed to depend on getting onto that subway train. She rushed towards the nearest closing door, but she was just too slow...

I can't make it!!!

-

Sanosuke Sagara looked up as a raven-haired woman stepped into the train just as its doors closed. The bulge in her stomach could only mean that she was pregnant. Even as he watched, she turned around and looked through the windows, and was able to see the look of utmost relief that came upon her face. Then she turned around and looked for an empty seat, and he found himself doing the same, and he saw that there was no empty seat left. He looked back at the woman and saw that she was looking pretty worn-out. He picked up his bag from the floor and stood up, and went over towards her.

'Um...excuse me?' he said, uncertainly, and she turned to look at him. 'Hey. Listen, you look tired...why don't you have my seat?'

'No...I couldn't possible take your seat...' she replied, and trailed off as he shook his head and smiled. She found herself smiling back. 'Well...if you insist...thank you.'

She sat down on his seat. Sano searched in his bag for a bottle of water and handed it to her. She accepted it gratefully, unscrewed the lid and took large gulps out of the bottle. He frowned quizzically at her as she drank. 'You look like you've been running a marathon or something,' he said, and was surprised at how disapproving he sounded. 'It's not healthy for a pregnant woman to be running around...am I right?'

'No, it isn't...thanks for the water,' she added, as she returned the bottle to him. She pulled a handkerchief out of her handbag and wiped the sweat off her brow. She smiled at him. 'But if you had been in my shoes, running wouldn't have been your greatest problem.'

'Oh,' was all Sano could say; he was far too busy appreciating her good looks to think of a better reply. Raven hair that framed a heart-shaped face and fell down to her waist, pretty hazel eyes, high cheekbones and rosy cheeks, and a small pink mouth. Sano thought it was pretty rare to find a woman who looked this pretty without the help of make-up, but here she was, sitting right in front of him. 'Right.'

She waved a dismissive hand. 'Thanks for your concern, really,' she told him, smiling earnestly at him. 'But I'm fine...and so is my baby; I mean, I can't feel any contractions, so that should be good, don't you agree?'

'Erm...' he started, a blush creeping onto his cheeks. He rubbed the back of his neck. 'I...I wouldn't know.'

She laughed. 'Never had a baby before with anyone, then?' she asked, and he shook his head. Sano saw that she was studying him thoughtfully, and after a few moments she extended her hand forward. 'Megumi Takani. Nice to meet you.'

Sano shook her hand. 'Sanosuke Sagara...nice to meet you, too,' he replied. He held her hand for an extra moment before finally letting go.

They didn't say anything to each other again for the rest of the ride; after all, what could two people who barely know each other talk about? And Sano, seeing as she was pregnant, older than him and probably married or with a boyfriend, didn't really think it was appropriate to be making a conversation, just in case she thought he was hitting on her. Offering her his seat would be enough to make assumptions in normal situations. So, when the train reached its next stop, they both left it. They stood facing each other on the platform for a few moments.

'Well, take care of yourself,' he finally said. He gestured at her stomach. 'And of course, take care of your baby. No more running. If you have to run around doing errands, tell your husband to run around for you, okay?'

He noticed that her expression had drooped slightly when he mentioned the word husband and he wondered why. However, she just smiled and nodded. 'Okay...thank you so much for your help, Sasuke...' she said.

'Sanosuke,' he corrected her.

Megumi blushed. 'Yes, right, I'm sorry, Sanosuke...' she murmured, averting her eyes from him.

He chuckled. 'It's okay; easy to make the mistake,' he told her, although he really didn't think so. 'You can call me Sano, if you want; everyone calls me that.'

'Sano,' she echoed, and nodded. 'That's much easier, yeah. Well, anyway, I have to be going now; there are some things I have to be doing. Thanks again for your help...and you take care of yourself, too, alright? Good bye.'

She gave him a small wave and walked away. As Sano watched her departing figure, he found himself wishing he had at least made some move one her. Who knew? Maybe she'd go for the punk that he was. Sighing, he reached into the pocket of his jeans and dug out a small slip of paper. His brow creased as he studied the address on the paper; of course, not being a local had its disadvantages. For instance, how was he supposed to get to that address on time?

-

Megumi walked down the unfamiliar streets of the town she had came to. When she had climbed onto the train, the only thought in her head was to get away from those two guys who had been following her, but now that she was here, she really didn't know what she should be doing. She didn't know anyone here, or in anywhere else, at that. When she had gotten married, her husband had brought her from Japan and here to the States. She had barely been living here for a year, and really hadn't had the chance to forge that many friendships...which in her current situation, proved to be a great disadvantage. Sighing, she started asking around for a cheap hotel where she could at least spend the night.

She also needed to buy herself some stuff. When she had left her apartment, she had only taken her handbag with her, and nothing else. Thinking back, she realized that was a good thing, because a suitcase would've definitely slowed her down, seeing as she had no car in which she could take it around with her. She looked around for a clothes' store, and located one at the end of the street. As she stepped inside into the world of clothes, with their new-clothes smell and their plastic hangers and their many shelves, she felt tears spring to her eyes. She knew she was being silly, but this was the world the old Megumi belonged to. This was the world the old Megumi who didn't have a care in the world belonged to. But that entire world had crashed when that bastard...

'Um...excuse me?'

Megumi was getting an odd feeling of déjà vu, but as she looked around she realized it was only a fragment of her imagination, for the saleslady standing before her wasn't the same sweet guy who had helped her on the train. Sanosuke. Shaking his image out of her head, she smiled at the saleslady. 'Hello,' she said. 'I was wondering if you had a maternal section in your shop.'

'Yes, of course we do, ma'am,' the lady said pleasantly. 'If you'll follow me please...'

Half an hour later, Megumi had left the shop holding a creamy carrier bag. She knew this was not the time to be shopping, but there were some necessities a pregnant woman had to have. She stood on the pavement so she could stop a cab. She looked around...and after a moment, her eyes widened. She felt her heart constrict with fear as she saw a man in a black suit heading in her direction. She looked around again, and saw another man coming at her from the opposite direction. She backed away from the pavement, and then turned on her heels and ran away in another direction. She kept looking back over her shoulder, and there they still were; the pair of them.

She ran down the street, one hand tightly gripping the cords of her carrier while the other clutched her stomach. She didn't dare ask anyone for help for fear of what had happened the last time she had asked for help being repeated again. She saw the opening of an alley way headed of her and she hurried towards it, hoping that she'd be able to lose them there. But to her horror, the alley way was blocked by iron bars. As she turned to leave the alley way, she saw that the two men had closed in on her. She dropped her handbag and the carrier she'd been holding, and flattened herself against the gate as they slowly approached her.

She finally found her voice. 'Help!!! Some one help me, please!! They're going to...!!' she screamed.

But a man had come forward and slapped her across the face, cutting the rest of her words. She fell to the ground, gasping for breath. 'Shut up, you silly bitch,' he hissed. 'Didn't we tell you not to run away? Didn't we warn you about what might happen to you if you tried to run away? We would've spared your life, dammit! We'd just get you an abortion and then you'd never had heard from us again! But, no! You wanted your baby!!'

Tears streamed down Megumi's cheeks as she fondled her stomach. 'What would you know, anyway? He's not your baby,' she choked. 'Don't you have pride? Forcing a woman to have an abortion...it's not ethical...'

'I don't care about your stupid ethics, alright?' the man snapped. 'You were a bad girl, Megumi, and you're gonna be punished for that. You and your damn baby.'

He drew back his hand and extracted a gun from inside his jacket. Megumi shuddered as she felt the cool metal of the gun against her forehead. This was it. All that running away was for nothing. She was going to die now. She and her baby.

'Hey!! What do you think you're doing?'

All five of them looked around, and Megumi gasped when she saw who it was. Sano!! He was standing in the opening of the alleyway, and was looking angrily at the two men. 'No, Sano! Go away! It's dangerous!' she screamed.

'You bet it's dangerous! What the hell do you think you're doing, pointing your gun at her like that?' Sano shouted. 'Leave her alone!!'

The man who was holding the gun against Megumi smirked. 'You talk big, kid,' he told him. 'I suggest you leave before you start to regret it...ouch! Hey!!'

Megumi blinked in surprise as the gun he was holding fell out of his hand and dropped to the ground with a loud clutter. She quickly scrambled forward and grabbed it. She staggered up to her feet and pointed it at the man, who looked really livid now, and then she glanced at Sano, who was grinning and tossing up a couple of small stones in his hand. She had to fight the impulse to laugh.

'Oops, sorry! It slipped out of my hand!' he said in mock apology. He flicked another stone into the other man's face, and as he doubled over, grumbling in pain, he turned to Megumi and beckoned her towards him. 'Megumi...come here, quick!'

Megumi nodded. She bent down and picked up her handbag and carrier, and then, gun still aimed at both the men, she started to retreat to Sano's side. When she reached him, he took the gun out of her hands, and pointed it at them. Then, he placed one arm around her shoulders and started to pull her out of the alleyway. The two men watched them quietly, neither of them making any move to catch them, which scared Megumi even more; why weren't they attacking?

'We'll be back for you, Megumi,' the second man hissed. 'You mark my words. Today you were lucky, but next time...'

Sano led her away onto the main street, and the rest of the man's words were drowned in the city noises, but she was still able to see the slicing motion he did against his throat, and she gulped. She found herself leaning against Sano, who still had his arm around her, where as the gun had been tucked away inside his clothes. She knew they were coming back for her, and it was only a matter of time before they found her again, and then...she didn't think there would be another Sano to help her.

'Sano, thank...' she started.

His arm tightened around her shoulders. 'Shush,' he said, smiling down at her. 'You only thank God that I was around in the neighborhood, that's why you should do...we'll talk when we get to my apartment...'

Megumi blinked. 'Your apartment?' she repeated.

'Well, I can't possibly leave you alone after what I saw in that alley way back there,' he said simply. 'You obviously can't take care of yourself well enough; I mean, I left you for barely an hour and you get yourself landed in trouble, and anyway, it doesn't seem like you have anywhere to stay tonight, right?'

Megumi looked away. 'No...you're right; I don't have anywhere to stay,' she murmured.

Sano nodded, as if it's all been decided. 'Okay, so, we'll go to my apartment, call the police, and get you the proper protection...and then, if you want...' he said, and let his voice trail off. He rubbed the back of his neck. 'Erm...'

Megumi frowned when he wouldn't complete his sentence. 'Yes?' she prompted him.

Sano chuckled and let his arm drop back to his side. He shoved them deep into his pocket. 'Never mind; it was just a stupid thought. Shall we go take the train back home now?' he asked her, and she nodded. 'Good.'

'By the way...' she said after a moment. 'That was some pretty cool stone flicking back there.'

Sano grinned. 'Wasn't it?' he said happily. 'Comes from flicking marbles all my childhood; my fingernails have a permanent dent in them.'

Megumi laughed, and as she and Sano walked back to the train station, she couldn't ignore the feeling which told her that things were going to take a positive turn from now on. She looked up at Sano; at his spiky brown hair and his warm chocolate-brown eyes...those eyes that told her that everything was going to be okay. She patted her stomach. Sweetheart...don't worry; we're going to be okay...

-

A/N: Yay!! I'm done!! So, how was that for my first chapter? It was pretty cool, wasn't it? When I started working on it, I couldn't get myself to stop and ended up writing till 3 a.m. Hehe. Well, that's what a good story does to you. Well, then, if you liked it, then could you please review? And if you have any comments on the plotline, I'll be glad to hear them as well, so...fire away!! Btw, things will clear out more in the upcoming chapter, so don't worry! Wait for my second chapter!

- S. N. B.