I don't own squat. Excepted maybe the plot. I hope.


As the bullet slammed into my thigh knocking me to the ground I couldn't help but think that my life had taken another distinct turn for the worst. My bar was dark and this late at night, any people outside wouldn't hear the sound of the suppressed gunfire anyway.

"No smart comments this time Mr Battosai"

Another soft "tick" from his gun another flash of pain. I had to stay conscious! I had to get behind the bar! The man stood there laughing at me. Two feet to go. One foot to go. My vision was blurring.

"What's the matter Mr Battosai? Not enjoying being on the receiving end?" The man said as he walked behind me.

He shot twice more. This time, not aiming to hit me, but to smash the optics above the bar. Sending alcohol and glass showering over me. It hurt almost as much as getting shot in the first place.

My hand scrabbled for what I knew was hidden under the bar. I had to find it!

"As much as I've enjoyed meeting you Battosai I feel that we must part ways."

My hand found metal! I grasped the handle of the gun and freed the safety.

"Good bye, Mr Battosai" The man said, raising his gun to perform the cu-de-gars.

"The name, is Kenshin!" I pulled the trigger. The glock fired from its hiding spot under the bar, hitting the man in the ankle. Forcing him to the floor. The second shot ensured he wouldn't get up again.

Dragging myself up against the bar and assesses my injuries. Gunshot wound to the leg, in and out missing the bone. Painful but treatable, guess I won't be walking without help for a while. A second shot in the shoulder and ... no exit wound. That was bad. I couldn't go to a hospital because it would be reported, and I didn't have the money to pay for a more ... private doctor. Looking around for something to use as a bandage I saw the tea towels I used for polishing the glasses. With a bit of electrical tape for strapping they became a serviceable field dressing.

Since my life was no longer in immediate danger I took stock of what happened. I had been locking up, when a blow came from behind knocking me back trough the door. I sighed to myself, that had been sloppy. Time was no one could have gotten within ten feet of me without me knowing. Still, when I said I was out I meant it. I just didn't realise how hard that would be.

I glanced at the slowly cooling body. I didn't know him. That was disturbing because he knew me. I'd have to search him, and that meant moving, which would painful. Still, might as well get it over with.

His pockets were empty, save for a spare clip for his gun and a photo of me, ... a recent photo of me ... DAMN! On the back, there was my hated nickname, my real name, and the address of my bar. I sat down for a wile and considered my options. At least it meant I could stop dyeing my hair, I never liked the black anyway.

I was in no position to drive and I needed out in a hurry. I made a phone call to a man that I hoped would consider me as a friend. I just prayed he wasn't drunk or fighting. Either way I'd have to think of a story to explain this mess really quickly. Although I think the story of nice barman just went out the window. It was a shame. I liked being humble and even for a bit.

But before all that, I still had to deal with Mister Smith on the floor. I figure out of sight, out of mind, so behind the bar it was.

--- --- ---

The door banged open five minuets later "KEN! Where are you!" Sano never did know how to enter a room quietly. I lowered the silenced weapon and hid it behind my back. My own gun was concealed under my coat on my hip.

"Over here" I said "behind you"

Sano spun round, "Jesus Kenshin, you gave me a heart attack! What are you doing behind the door?"

I felt that telling him "so I could shoot uninvited guests in the back" would not be a good plan so I when for "I didn't want to bee seen."

"Well that's a good thing. What happened here? You said you were shot. Why didn't you call the police?" Sano said as he looked at the smashed glass and the blood smears along the floor.

I figured that the nearer the truth I was the more believable the lie would be therefore "I was attacked by a man with a gun."


"I don't know. I was locking up and I was hit on the back of the head. He shot me as I got to the gun I keep behind the bar."

"You have a gun? Never mind that why don't you want to go to the cops?"

Again, another near truth. "I'm not here ... legally"

"What happened to the guy? There's a lot of blood here."

And now for an out right lie. "I don't know, I think he ran off." And a quick change in topic "Can we get out of here Sano, I'll deal with the mess tomorrow." Not the most original conversation but the best I could do at short notice at short notice. Besides leaning against the wall was making me feel faint with pain.

"Sure my car's outside"

I went to take a step forwards and collapsed as my leg bucked,


Sano grabbed my arm as I went down and I managed to hold back a cry from the pain in my shoulder.

"Jesus Ken, when you said you were shot you said it was a graze!"

No point lying now, the blood was soaking through my clothing. "Leg and shoulder. Please, just get me to the car."

I lent on Sano to his car, an old beat up ford pickup that was kept running by love and rust. "you know this would be easier if you were taller Ken." Sano said as he held me. "We could almost look like a couple"

"Don't start that again." I said with a rye smile. While behind my bar I had been hit on five times by guys mistaking my gender and twice by guys mistaking my preference, much to Sano's amusement. The topic broke the ice between us. Sano had been coming in regularly for weeks and saying nothing to anyone save to order his drinks when he saw two heavily drunk men wander in and begin to chat me up. Back when I was known as the Battosai, I would just glare at them and that would send them hopping, but as a bartender, I couldn't exactly threaten instant death. I was at a loss.

Sano watched with growing amusement at my inability to cope before finally stepping in with the immortal words. "She's spoken for." To which the guys, under his six foot gaze, finally backed down.

You can't really be saved by that and not get talking. I am ashamed to say that most of the stuff I told him was a lie, but, as I said before, The closer to the truth, the better the lie. He, on the other hand, had told me that he had been a drifter for most of his life, dropping out of collage due to finical issues, and until he came to town worked as a hired hand, bouncer, or inforcer, what ever was required. He'd offered his services to me a few times when the bar looked like it was about to get rowdy.

He was as close to a friend as I allowed myself and, right now, was my only means of getting out of my former bar and out of town.

But first, as I hissed in pain, I had to deal with these bloody bullet wounds!


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