I do not own Rurouni Kenshin

What a shock, not

The Master's Decision

On an isolated mountaintop, a certain swordmaster's mood soured when his gaze landed on an innocent flower. It was red, the exact shade of his deshi's hair. It had been almost five years since Kenshin had run off to join the revolution. In retrospect, Hiko knew he could have handled the situation better, not that he would ever admit that aloud. But, they both had tempers.

In some ways, Hiko thought he was lucky, at least in comparison to some of the others who knew people involved in the fighting. He didn't have to worry about his student getting himself killed. He had taught the redhead better than that.

Oh well, the past was the past. It could not be changed. The future however, that was something else entirely. Soon the war would be over and Kenshin would come . . .

Hiko paused, a saucer of sake halfway to his lips. No, Kenshin wouldn't come home. His idiot apprentice probably thought he had been serious when he said not to come back. For such a smart individual, the redhead could be pretty stupid sometimes. The mushroom incident came to mind.

A soft groan escaped the dark haired man's throat and he rose to his feet. "I suppose," he murmured aloud. "I will simply have to go and fetch him." Hopefully the years since they had last seen each other hadn't left too many scars on his student's soul.

Some time later, a pair of dark eyes surveyed the scene in front of him with disgust. Things like this were exactly why he had sworn off politics in the first place. Blood and steel flew as the men of the Ishin Shishi and Shinsengumi clashed. Hiko sighed. This would not do. How would he get his answers if his sources of information were busy killing each other?

Ki roared as the tall man released his swordsman's spirit. It wasn't his full battle aura, but it was more than enough to gain their attention. The fighting stopped almost immediately. "Much better," he stated in satisfaction.

Cautiously, the leaders of the two sides approached. They had no idea who this man was, only that he was powerful, and the pair had no idea which side he was on.

"Can we help you with something?" Saitou asked at last.

"As a matter of fact," the swordsmaster said. "You can. Some years ago," Hiko elaborated. "My ward decided to join the revolution. After due consideration, I have decided Kenshin is much to young to be involved in such an affair, and so have come to retrieve him."

Kenshin, the Ishin commander rolled the name around his mind. For some reason it sounded vaguely familiar, but he just couldn't place it. "How old is he?" the man asked.

"He recently turned eighteen."

Eighteen, Saitou considered, barely more than a child, and if the boy had left years ago. "Are you certain he is still alive?" he questioned. Perhaps it was a little harsh, but the wolf was just being realistic.

Hiko smirked. "Quite sure. He has a distinctive appearance."

Meanwhile, on a nearby rooftop, the object of their conversation stood frozen in disbelief. What was his master doing here? A pang of regret shot through his heart as Kenshin remembered their last conversation.

Silently the hitokiri debated. His orders had been to interrupt the battle, giving the Ishin forces time to retreat. Technically, Kenshin reasoned. The battle had stopped. Slowly, one foot slid backwards.

He hadn't made it a single step before Hiko's head snapped up, his sharp gaze scanning the rooftops for any sign of his errant pupil. "I know you are there Kenshin," he announced. "Show yourself."

The redhead hesitated.

A pair of dark eyes hardened. "If I have to hunt you down I will be most displeased." His master's words held a subtle warning.

The slender figure dropped to the ground, making not so much as a single sound as he landed, before stepping into the light. He smiled weakly. "Hello Shishou."

Hiko's firm gaze swept over the young man he had raised, lingering over the cross shaped scar. He would have to find out how that happened later. Finally the swordmaster sighed. "Dare I hope you have learned something from this experience baka deshi?"

The various forces all stared at his. Idiot? Battousai? Then the other words hit. This guy was his Master! As for Kenshin, he winced before looking away, unable to meet the other's eyes. "Perhaps," he admitted.

"Excellent," Hiko nodded in satisfaction. "Now come," he ordered. "We're leaving."

Eyes more violet than gold widened dramatically at this proclamation. "But Shishou," he protested. "I swore to Katsura-san I would serve him as long as I was needed. I can't just break my word."

One aristocratic eyebrow rose. "Funny," Hiko commented. "I don't recall saying you had a choice." He paused, considering the matter a moment. It would be better if his student came willingly. "But if it will make you feel better I will make you a deal."

Kenshin regarded his master warily. "What kind of deal?" he asked with suspicion. The teen was right to worry.

"Defeat me," Hiko offered. "And you can stay."

The redhead swallowed hard. "Can't we talk about this Shishou?"

Hiko's only response was to drop into a stance all present recognized, battoujutsu. Idly he wondered what new tricks Kenshin had picked up before disregarding the thought. It didn't matter. No one was a match for the master of Hiten Mitsurugi Ryuu.

That belief proved true. Over the next five minutes Hiko tossed Kenshin around like he was a rag doll. The younger man didn't stand a chance.

A pained groan escaped Kenshin's lips from his place on the ground. He blinked a few times, looking up into the face of the Captain of the Third Squad of the Shinsengumi. Funny, he hadn't thought Saitou had a brother. The amber-eyed man actually looked concerned. He held up several fingers. "How many Battousai?"

"Somewhere between one and five," Kenshin answered dizzily as he staggered back to his feet. Gathering himself he charged at the older man with all the speed he could muster.

At this point Hiko didn't even bother to use his blade. Instead he sank one powerful fist into the redhead's midsection. His student crumpled, not that he fell far. Carelessly the swordmaster swung Kenshin's limp form over one shoulder. He wasn't even breathing hard.

"Now that that's settled," he stated calmly to the horrified observers. "My deshi and I are leaving." His dark gaze swept over the crowd. "Unless of course one of you is planning on stopping me." Unsurprisingly, no one took Hiko up on his offer.

Finis

I wonder how long it will take Hiko to pound some sense into his student's think skull

Oh well, someone else can write that one