A/N – What Kenshin believes, he believes with all his heart. Even when his beliefs are contradictory. Warnings for late night, drunken philosophy. The title is Latin for "the just war".

Disclaimer – I don't own Ruroken, alas. Don't sue.

Jus Bellum

There are some things in this life worth killing for.

During the Bakumatsu, willing tool of Ishin zealots, he had believed it absolutely. He still believed it now, albeit with a much greater understanding of the cost; if he did not, he would never have followed Saito to Kyoto, would never have acted to save young Iori-kun, drawing an unknown sword and striking to kill.

That he had not sliced Chou the Sword Collector in two was an act of merest Providence.

There are some things in this life worth dying for.

Hiko did not teach him this. Peasant child, farmer's son, he had come to this particular knowledge late, influenced by Takasugi-san and the Shinsengumi; the lesson was hammered home on that terrible winter's day in Otsu when, with nothing left to lose, he had gambled everything on one last, suicidal charge.

But it was Tomoe, and not he, who paid the price.

There are some things in this life worth living for.

This was the last, greatest revelation that so many people had tried to teach him. Kasumi-chan, Sakura-chan, and Akane-chan, who had died to protect him. Hiko, with his cryptic musings on sake and cherry blossoms, and the more practical offering of the ougi. Tomoe, who taught him the true value of individual human life.

And Kaoru-dono, who showed him what it was to belong, who offered warm, unquestioning acceptance and a mismatched family he had come to love.

Living, learning, and loving took greater strength than killing and dying ever would.