Summary: Kenshin was content living his life as the unidentified sidekick to Enishi, the great hero Shikku. At least until Kaoru came into the picture, destroying the delicate relationship between hero and sidekick…and it wasn't just them that were affected…
A/N: This was supposed to be a oneshot…but it got horribly out of control.
Standard disclaimers apply.
"Wow! Look at him! He's unstoppable!"
"Yeah! It's like Shikku knows what that guy's going to do."
I would like to tell you that they were referring to me, that I was kicking some serious bad guy ass on top of that building in front of thousands of people. But…I wasn't.
I was that guy in the shadows, watching the fight like every other spectator on the ground.
But my mind was whirling a million miles a minute, hundreds of input and output signals making my brain pound against my skull. With Enishi repeating the mental messages I sent him, the villain's disturbing thoughts, and the incoherent yet loud thoughts of the people below me, my mind is not my own. I'm a conduit.
Side slash, but his feet follow, I read from the villain's mind and projected to Enishi, which he repeated in his head before giving the final blow.
When I couldn't hear the villain's thoughts, I sighed loudly. Finally, my mind was my own. But my head still hurt horribly. As I slipped away as Enishi took in the glory, I wondered how many pills I should take for my headache today.
I double-checked my ski mask to make sure it was covering my face and then I climbed down the fire escape with mastered ease. When I touched the pavement, I ran through the alley until I found a dark corner where I took off the mask and calmly joined the rest of the crowd.
I stared at Enishi, who grabbed the villain by his shirt and flew him down to the police. I wondered if he noticed me in the crowd.
I didn't stay very long this time – my head was splitting in half and I couldn't tell who was speaking out loud and who was just saying pointless things in their heads. Stumbling through the crowds, I tried to make it back to my apartment without crashing head first into the pavement.
I ignored my landlord ranting something about the rent and slammed my door shut, reveling in the silence. My pills were always in my bedroom, because normally when I took them, I would pass out onto my bed.
It was a lovely process.
Especially the passing out part.
Some life, right?
I had taken the last two pills, and I needed to get more, which meant that I had to go to the pharmacy, which meant an awkward confrontation with the pharmacist.
I hoped it was Sakura just because she knew.
But with my rotten luck, it ended up being a new guy.
So I waited behind five other people, feeling the beginning of another headache coming on. Everyone was silently screaming his or her impatience.
Will this dumb fuck hurry up? I swear to God some people have LIVES…
I have to pick up Suki from ballet and then I have to rush home to walk the dog and drive Shiki to soccer and then I have to get ready for the dinner party with the Nakamuras…
Why do I have to pick up grandma's prescription? It's so annoying how I have to travel downtown to get it…
UGH! This is taking forever!
I tried to block off everything, but I managed to bring it down to a murmur. I sighed and looked behind me to see how much further the line was backed up. There were three people.
That girl that came once a month to refill some sort of prescription for her grandmother.
I never tried to read any civilian's mind on purpose. But a lot of the times, people scream their thoughts and I ended up hearing things. But with her, I could never immediately read her thoughts. With her mind, it was more vague emotions. When I tried hard enough, I was able to hear it, but it still made her somewhat of an anomaly.
After a good fifteen minutes (by this time my head was splitting in half again), it was my turn. His eyes shot up when he realized how large my prescription was.
"No, it's not a mistake, trust me," I said tiredly, pinching the bridge of my nose.
He narrowed his eyes at me in a suspicious manner. They always thought I was some sort of drug addict.
"Look, just call your damn boss and ask for yourself, I come here twice a month," I snapped, glaring at the ridiculous pharmacist.
He glared back, but he reached for the phone by the wall all the same.
"Jesus Christ can't get some fucking service…" I muttered.
I heard a snort behind me and I knew it was That Girl. I never did try and find out her name, since it took more effort to search through her brain and usually when I was in line getting my prescription, I usually had a monstrous headache.
"…Are you…? Oh…alright…g'bye." The pharmacist hung up the phone and shot another dirty look at me. "I'll be back." He left and took my prescription with him.
I thought I'd take four when I got home.
"What do you get?"
I looked behind me to find That Girl looking at me expectantly.
"My prescription?" I clarified.
"Yeah. Every time I come here, you're always in line, and it always causes a reaction from whichever pharmacist."
She had big blue eyes. Almost like a doll, save for hers were a darker shade of blue, like a sapphire stone.
"Honestly? You'd think I was a drug addict if I told you."
"Honestly? I already think you are."
I raised an eyebrow at her. "It's a painkiller. I have chronic headaches."
She winced. "Oh. Sorry."
I shook my head. "It's alright. I've learned to put up with it."
The pharmacist came back with my large container filled to the brim with pills. I slapped down my cash and gave him a grin. "Thanks!"
I immediately opened it and took one for the walk back to my apartment. But before leaving, I took one last look at That Girl.
On Sunday morning, I opened my apartment a crack, grabbed the paper before my landlord realized anything, and locked it shut. I took a seat in my uncomfortable wooden chair in my dinky kitchen and looked over the front page, which had a photo of Shikku impressively fighting the douchebag on the building and…
There I was! Toward the left of the page. It was rather small and blurry, but it was the best coverage I had seen of me.
I opened the paper eagerly, scanning through the usual stuff (The city's hero, Shikku, managed to save ten people from possible death…The man responsible…didn't have a chance…).
I stopped to read this paragraph:
Witnesses at the scene also noticed a third man on the building, watching the fight "intently," as one onlooker remarked. This masked figure, this unidentified sidekick, has been seen with Shikku a few times, but he has yet to show any ability.
Unidentified sidekick. Perfect. Just how it should be.
My phone vibrated from my nightstand. I slammed my hands holding the paper onto the rickety wooden table and groaned. There would only be one person calling my phone: Enishi, the hero, the Sky Strider, Shikku.
I got up slowly and casually walked to my room. One missed call. Unknown.
I sighed as I opened the phone and dialed his number.
I hung up and took a pill before getting dressed. I brought two extra and put them in my bag before running out of my apartment, dodging my landlord who screamed, "YOU BETTER GET ME MY RENT, DAMNIT!"
For our secret rendezvous, we would meet at an old dojo; it was a nod to the past we had, to the root of our friendship.
I went in through the alleyway entrance, passing an empty classroom and a class in session before I reached our meeting office.
Enishi was already there, of course, sitting in the swivel chair in his thousand-dollar suit, sleek sunglasses, and polished shoes. And there I was, in my torn up jeans from high school, my worn canvas shoes, and the shirt I had slept in.
"You look like shit," he noted.
I shut the door behind me. "Well, that tends to happen when you wake up in the middle of the night, hearing the tenants upstairs mentally and physically yelling at each other."
He nodded, allowing himself to sympathize for a few moments. After he was done with that, he stood up. "The paper."
"The Daily Word?"
"What about it? You have a kick ass picture of yourself on it."
"While that's true…you're also in it."
"I know…I'm the 'unidentified sidekick.' Nothing to worry about."
He removed his sunglasses and tried to pierce me with his bright teal eyes. "Kenshin, you know you can't be seen. The fact that you even have a title, as vague and unremarkable as it may be, isn't okay."
I snorted. "Please. Nobody gives a rat's ass about me. I've been tagging along with you saving this damned city for almost two years and now they're noticing some freak in a ski mask is watching you like all the other millions people in this city?"
Enishi sighed and nodded, comforted. "Okay, just be more careful, will you?"
I took a peak in his head: Can't have anyone finding out about you – I won't be their hero anymore! Who will save the people then?
I sighed. "Okay, I will."
He grinned. "Great." He reached into his pocket and pulled out an envelope.
"No," I said flatly.
"Come on, Kenshin, just take it."
"Please, I insist. Your landlord is riding on your ass right now, I don't have to be a mind reader to know that."
"I'm getting by fine."
"You are not. A half-time job is not enough. Take the money."
I looked at the envelope with a little longing. I did really need cash – it was bad enough skiving off my rent just so I can eat. Slowly, I reached out and took the envelope. It was heavier than normal.
"Enishi…" I started.
"Not another word about it. How's work, speaking of your job?"
I shrugged. "Whatever. It pays me."
We then stood in an awkward silence and it made me sad. Once upon a time we used to be close friends. What happened?
"How's Tomoe?" I asked.
He smiled. He was very fond of his sister. "She's engaged."
My eyes widened. "Really? To that guy? Akira?"
"Yeah, but keep that on the DL – we're alerting the press about it tomorrow."
I smiled. Tomoe gave me my first kiss way back when. I hadn't seen her in person since around that time.
"What about Natsumi? Are you still hooking up with her?"
He shrugged flippantly. "We fought the other day. But we'll make up again…"
For a moment, I was extremely jealous. I hadn't been out with a girl since…right before Enishi approached me two years ago with that life-changing proposition in my third year of college. There was never any time. After all, I wasn't Enishi.
"What about you?" he asked.
I didn't bother to smile. "Same answer as it always is."
He gave me another look of sympathy. "Sorry."
This time I shrugged. "Well-being of the city and whatnot. Comes before me."
Sadly enough, I actually believed it. With every bone in my body.
He left when he got a call about some function he had to buy tables for. Walking past me, he continued to yell at the poor guy on the line. I went over to the swivel chair, sat down on it, and began spinning like Enishi did earlier. I didn't think – I just swiveled and looked at the organized shelves and coffee-stained desk.
"Do you want to spar?"
I looked up and found Hiko, the owner of the dojo, staring at me.
I shrugged. "I don't know."
"Shut the fuck up, Hiko."
He crossed his large, muscular arms. "Right to privacy. And don't you curse at your teacher."
I stopped spinning. "You're practically screaming your thoughts, I don't even have to try. Besides, you're no longer my teacher."
"I'm your elder."
"I thought you didn't like being referred to as old."
He gave me a death glare while I smiled innocently. He then sighed, bringing his face in his hand to rub his eyes. "It's true, Kenshin. You can't do this for your whole life."
I looked down at a particularly dark coffee-stain. It was almost a perfect circle. "Probably not. But I'm doing a lot right now, which is all that matters."
"Your body is going to fail on you. You can't keep popping those pills like candy."
I shrugged. "They work the same as Advil would for you."
"It doesn't make it right. Not to mention the fact that you're living in an apartment without a full-paying job."
"Enishi pays me."
"It's despicable, he should just give you a job at his company. You would just be another low worker in his large network."
I stood up. "You know I can't work there – any connection we have can compromise us."
Hiko shook his head. "Whatever. It's none of my business, is it?" He didn't bother to wait for my answer. "I'm going to do some katas. Want to join me?"
I snorted softly. "You know, sane person that knew of my ability wouldn't want to fight me. I can read your mind. I'd know your every move, regardless of the technique you taught me."
He looked at me hard. "Yes, but I'm the only one that knows your weakness."
I raised an eyebrow.
"You can't read people's minds and simultaneously fight them for a long period of time. Your headache will get too painful. You'll pass out."
I inhaled and exhaled slowly. True.
But since I didn't have much of a headache, I followed him out of his office.
When shit's going down, Enishi would alert me and an obnoxious ringtone would come on.
"Sorry, I better take this," I said in the middle of a meeting, practically running out of the room.
I grabbed my bag and rushed out of the office and down the stairs, because the elevators took too damn long. Dialing Enishi, I began pulling my tucked in shirt out of my pants.
"43rd and Smith."
"Damn it, that's –!"
"Just get there!"
I hung up and ran out of the building, fumbling with my black jacket that I had to put on before running twenty blocks to the scene.
I never needed to go and workout, which I supposed was a positive aspect.
This time when I climbed down (actually, it was more like I stumbled…my head was hurting worse than usual) the fire escape, there was someone waiting for me.
But this time she wasn't dressed casually like I normally saw her. Instead of jeans, she wore a black pencil skirt. And instead of a blouse or a t-shirt, she wore a black blazer with and a white collared shirt underneath.
She looked so professional.
"Hi, I'm Kaoru Kamiya, would it be okay if I asked you a few questions?"
I froze. "What?" My voice was unrecognizable it was so high with shock.
She continued to stare at me with those piercing eyes of hers. Kaoru Kamiya.
Seeing that I clearly wasn't going anywhere, she opened her small notepad to a page and her pen was propped, ready to start jotting down notes.
Now that I had finally calmed down, I was, surprisingly enough, thinking rationally. I couldn't talk in my normal voice because she already knew what I sounded like. She probably wouldn't recognize it at first, but it would be an itch in the back of her mind. And now that I knew she was a reporter of all things, I had to cover my tracks carefully.
I used the first accent that popped in my head.
"I can't discuss with you about anything regarding Shikku."
A British accent.
She shook her head. "No, I want to ask questions about you."
Now that I wasn't expecting.
"Yes. You're known the public as the 'unidentified sidekick.' How long have you actually been with Shikku? The entire time? Recently?"
I finally knew why Enishi had such a problem about my finally being indentified.
"I…I can't talk about this. I'm not supposed to exist. I'm a nobody," I stuttered, starting to back away from her.
But I was down the alleyway and mixed in with the masses.
Something told me that this wasn't the end of Kaoru Kamiya. But I didn't know whether to be exasperated…or something else entirely.
A/N: I hope you enjoyed it or are at least are somewhat interested. From here on out the chapters are going to be in Kenshin's, Kaoru's, and Enishi's points of views.