A/N: Yup, Zig-zag is back with a new fic. I don't think this one will be too long and I'm not sure how fast I'll be updating, but please read, enjoy, and review! Reviews make me feel all warm and gooey inside!

Chapter 1 - A Helpful Hand

Kenshin shouldered his pack as it began slipping down his shoulder. As he did his long hair became caught between the strap and his shoulder. With a hiss, he raised his shoulder to take the pressure off his hair and let the pack fall to the ground. He took the red strands in his hand and stared dully at the ripped ends.

With a sigh, he tossed his hair behind his back and picked up his pack again. He had only begun traveling a month or so ago and his hair had already started to take a beating. It no longer had that nice dark red sheen to it. He could see by his new split ends that his hair seemed to be fading from all the sunlight. Not that he minded; some of the soldiers had teased him by how dark his red hair had been. Perhaps this was an improvement.

Not that a wanderer really needed to worry that much about his hair. He had other things to think about, like where to sleep, when was he going to eat… what was he going to eat? These worries crept their way into his mind even as part of him said he should have stopped for the night in the last town.

He picked up his pace. The next town shouldn't be too far away if the directions he had been given were correct. They often were, but some days what some people called a short distance seemed to take days to travel. He slung his pack back over his other shoulder, this time mindful of not getting his hair caught.

As he carefully picked his way down the path, mentally counting his funds to see if he could afford a decent dinner, he heard a shout. His hand automatically went to his hilt as he listened quietly, eyes darting back and forth. It had sounded like a fearful yell; not a threat to him, but if that was indeed the case then there was probably someone in trouble.

He heard another yell and ran off the path towards it, hopeful that he could help whoever was shouting. He listened quietly and ran silently as he realized it was a male's voice, and it was getting weaker with each cry for help.

He soon found the owner of the voice down the road and just off the path. It was a man who at first glanced looked to be in his early thirties. Kenshin didn't take time to take in the man's appearance. Instead his eyes locked on the wound the man was trying to keep shut on his abdomen.

"Help me," the man pleaded weakly, "I-I was robbed."

Without hesitation, Kenshin knelt beside the injured man. "It's all right, don't speak. Save your energy." Gently he pushed the man's hand, slick with blood, away from the injury to assess the damage. A wound in this area would most likely be fatal, but as Kenshin took a closer look he saw the injury wasn't too deep. If he could get the man to a proper doctor, then maybe…

"Where is the nearest village?" he asked, swiftly pulling some bandages out of his pack. He began to bandage the injury to slow the blood flow until he could get the man to a doctor.

The man was fading in and out; Kenshin wasn't sure if it was from the rapid blood loss he had suffered or shock. "Just up the road," he finally managed to say as Kenshin carefully positioned the man onto his back so that he could run.

"Hang in there. I'm going to get you to a doctor."

Kenshin jogged as fast as he dared, not wanting to shake the injured man more than necessary. As they made their way into town, Kenshin attempted to keep the man awake by asking him questions, but it was no use; before Kenshin could even see the top of the first house, the man had passed out.

Teeth clenched, worried he was too late, he ran down the rocky road shouting for anyone to help him. He spied two farmers, on their way home from the fields, and ran towards them. Surely they'd know where the nearest doctor was? But as he approached them, about to ask about the doctor they stared at him with looks of fear and hatred.

"It's Battòsai!"

Oh, crap.