Title: Days to Remember
Author: Mi-chan
Rating: R
Series: Rurouni Kenshin (AU, Modern-day)
Pairings: Hmmm... read and find out. =D

Part One: Fall in April


His favorite time of the year; not to hot, not too cold. Just right for rampaging around the streets of downtown Brooklyn City without a coat, but not quite warm enough for taking a dip at the Coney Island Beach. The only thing he missed were the yearly Sakura trees that bloomed every April as they did in his homeland; America had it's upsides and it's downsides, he guessed.

Sighing, Himura Kenshin adjusted the black Fedora atop his head. America had been a blessing in disguise. After his father-by-adoption discovered his involvement with the Japanese Yakuza, the yearly vacation to Japan to visit relatives had turned into a full blown immigration, complete with sending Kenshin off to the military at eighteen. He had a long, hard time to ponder his crimes. And, without the harsh punishment with loving intentions that his father had administered, Kenshin would not be where he was now.

It was kind of ironic; he had become something that only a little over a decade years he considered his worst enemy: A cop. A detective, even, and a damn good one at that.

Kenshin fixed his gaze at the Bagel Point Cafe, they're favorite meeting place, and smiled. "She's waiting for me, that she is. I hope she's not angry." Kenshin stopped abruptly in his tracks, laughing to himself as he thought, Uhm... but Kenshin, when is she ever not angry with you?

Kenshin hated being punctual. It simply was not in his nature; one of those bad habits he had acquired in the past that took way too much persistence for his peace of mind to break. Entering the cafe, he recognized the young woman sitting in the booth back in the corner, cradling a halfway demolished cup of latte and watching the door impatiently for her companion.

Kenshin greeted her with his most genuine smile, though he did not feel it. He knew what was going to come next.

"Kenshin," she growled, flames erupting in those dark eyes. She grabbed for hair and pulled, rising a yelp of pain mixed with terror from the man. "How many times have I told you?! You can't be late anymore for lunch!"

The redheaded one sighed, taking off his Fedora and running a hand through his newly trimmed hair. He bitterly growled low in his throat; what had compelled him to allow Kaoru to come within ten inches of his head with a pair of scissors? He sighed, his face wearing a faux smile at the memory. Now he remembered. He hadn't exactly been sober that night.

"Miss Kaoru, I apologize. I know how your work limits you these days," he soothed, sliding into his seat. Brushing a red lock out of his face, he waved down the waitress to order his lunch. "Speaking of which, how are things at work?"

Kamiya Kaoru, forgetting her companion's late arrival, fixed her gaze out the window. "It's... alright. It's hard, you know. I mean... I've been at this job for the past five years. I know what those kids have been through, having been orphaned by our late father myself... it's difficult, you know."

"Yes. Yes, I know all too well. You and I, we aren't much different in that respect, that we are not," Kenshin spoke to no one in particular, joining Kaoru in her gazing out the window. The people on the streets passed them by, busy little bees in this much bigger beehive, this huge country full of opportunity and freedom.

Kenshin thought of the different families he had been a part of then. To be more particular, he was thinking of the one that adopted him back in Japan when he was fourteen... He had been the black sheep of that family. He hated them all with bitter passion at first, until the loving persistence of one Kamiya Kaoru bestowed upon him love and kindness he thought only capable in stories. She had brought him out of his shell, shown him the life he could lead, if only he so desired change. But was it really possible, with Kenshin's past constantly coming back to haunt him?

His true parents were murdered when he was only six, marking the instance of his first 'adoption' into a new family: The Yakuza. The root of his problems, his bitterness towards authority.... his sorrow. And the beginning of his criminal record.

Kenshin sipped his water, forcing back the memories. His eyes wandered to Kaoru's briefcase on the floor. It was true, Kaoru was a lot busier nowadays. What with the crime rate on a constant rise, and the number of abused and orphaned children increasing, it had taken all of Kaoru's energy just to keep up with it all. Being a social worker was not much different from the job he himself had taken up. Instead of saving misfortunate children, he was putting the bastards causing said misfortunes behind bars. Thieves, rapists, smugglers, drug dealers, child abusers... all punishable by the law. Kenshin felt no remorse for treating these people with the same "courtesy" that they had bestowed upon others.

And yet... he hated the system. He hated it all. After all, he himself was a reformed criminal. If the system let someone like him change their ways, there was hope for everyone, he supposed. That in itself made him feel somewhat remorseful--but the law was the law. And he couldn't help but regret having to enforce such a hypocritical system.

"How is Yahiko?" Kaoru spoke up, smiling prettily. Kenshin had to admit, she was cute when she showed her concern.

"Well, he's staying in school," Kenshin reassured, thanking the waitress when she brought him his usual raspberry/blueberry frappuccino. "And he's been studying very hard, that he has. Just last week, he aced his Geometry test."

"Wow," Kaoru blinked. "What an improvement. A month ago he couldn't even write his own name. I felt so bad for him back then... I think bringing him to America was the best thing we could have done for him."

"Yeah... at least the Witness Protection Program can keep an eye on him and keep him safe from his 'ties'," Kenshin said, sipping his frappuccino with utmost care. He savored the fruity taste, wondering how he could have survived his younger years without knowing such blissful commodities.

"You know... if he ever becomes too much trouble for you, the offer still stands," Kaoru whispered, casting her eyes away to nothing in particular. "I can always take him in for you."

Kenshin smiled, admiring the woman's strength--and a bit annoyed by her stubborn nature. He knew that, quite frankly, neither one of them had the time to take care of a child. Kaoru even more so, ever since she started working double time. And yet, she still insisted.

"It's alright, Miss Kaoru. Yahiko and I are getting along just fine, that we are," Kenshin informed cheerfully, a sheepish grin spreading across his thin lips. In fact, that was a modest statement. Yahiko downright idolized every fiber of his being and worshipped every bone in his body. And while he wasn't quite content with the notion of a child looking up to someone who once masqueraded around the streets of Kyoto as a thug himself, he felt somewhat... touched. He truly loved the boy, like his own son.

But... Kenshin was horrible at math. The aced Geometry exam had been entirely Yahiko's doing. Surely, that was a good sign. The boy could hold his own, and he was changing because he chose to, not because some lame-brain cop and flighty social worker forced it upon him to conform.

Kaoru nodded; she loved the boy just as much. She knew Kenshin would be a great influence on Yahiko, despite his flaws; the boy had seen and been through way too much, replacing his mind with the mentality of one three times his 15 years.

Kaoru thanked the waitress as she was handed the bill. Reaching for her purse, Kenshin gently grabbed her hand. "No, Miss Kaoru. This one's on me."

A slight blush crept all the way up to the roots of her bangs at the contact; her older brother-by adoption still had that effect on her. Mentally shaking it off, she scolded herself. Kaoru had long thought herself rid of those emotions. Kenshin was family, for Christ's sake. She'd known the red-head since she was seventeen...

"Why, Kenshin?"

The scar-face redhead renegade-turned-good-guy cocked his head. "Oro?"

"You know you don't have to call me 'Miss'. It's so... formal."

Kenshin scratched his head. He had never truly thought about that one... so he did his best to do so now. "Well... it's because I respect you, Miss Kaoru. Ever since both your--err, our parents died... you've managed to pull your own weight, no help from me. I... admire that, that I do."

"And it has nothing to do with the three years of military Dad put you through?" Kaoru teased, thrusting a finger onto the tip of his nose.

Kenshin chuckled, rubbing the back of his head with a nervous hand. "You wouldn't believe some of those female drill sergeants I had. They could yell so hard, the thatch work would fly off the rooftops."

Kaoru laughed a bit, the first genuine laugh he'd heard from the woman in ages. Throwing down a few dollars for a tip before Kenshin could protest further, she grabbed her step-brother by the arm and led him outside.

* * *

From a nearby alley, a man dressed in a freestyle Cerruti 1881 suit carefully puffed away at a cigarette. He watched as the red head detective exited the Bagel Point Cafe, his dark-haired sister clinging to his arm. They seemed to be happy, their faces lit up with laughter as Himura Kenshin entertained his companion with goofy expressions only his physique was capable of.

"Now's as good a time as any," he muttered, putting out the cigarette on the bottom of his shoe and tossing it aside. He knew the news he bared would be hard on the girl...

Hajime Saitou grinned his most evil grin.

* * *

"I can't believe you did that!" Kaoru laughed. "You actually let him have a taste?" She had to admit... sometimes the crazy antics of her brother made her question his morality.

"He was so insistent that he could handle it, that he was," Kenshin chuckled, shrugging his shoulders. "How was I to know he's never had sake before?"

"He's fifteen, you moron," Kaoru smacked him playfully on the arm. "And just because he was a thug at one time doesn't mean he was an alcoholic as well."

Kenshin nodded. "You're right... but you should have seen the look on his face just before he passed out, that you should have." The two reached the crosswalk, where he continued: "I'll tell you this much; I am never making that mistake again. He spent all next morning sick as a dog, praying to the Porcelain God, that he did."

Kaoru giggled some more. "It's too bad he likes you so much. I don't think I could take him away from you even if I tried."

Hajime Saitou popped up beside Kaoru then, tapping her on the shoulder. Instinctively, utilizing her training in marital arts (one could never be too careful when walking the streets of downtown Brooklyn), her foot when flying for the man's face, only to be caught in his iron grasp.

"Now, now, Miss Kamiya. Is that any way to greet a friend?" Saitou scolded, fixing his cold gaze on Kenshin. He knew that he couldn't have pulled that same stunt with the ex-criminal. Kenshin was too damn good for that.

Kaoru relaxed, bowing slightly, a habit embedded deep into her psyche due to her Japanese upbringing. "I'm sorry!" she apologized sheepishly, sweat forming on her brow. She never did like Saitou that much; maybe it was how scary he was, with his hair slicked back and eyes that could pierce cold steel.

Kenshin sighed. "Is lunch break over already?"

"The Chief just informed me of a new case," Saitou smoothed, sticking his hands in his pockets and joining them as they trekked across the street towards the police station. "A big one... one that might require some travel."

"Oro?" Kenshin raised an eyebrow.

"To Japan."

"Japan?" Kaoru asked, a little shocked. They were Brooklyn cops; their jurisdiction wasn't valid in other countries. "What business could you two have in Japan? I mean--"

Kenshin cut Kaoru off with a gentle hand gesture. "What's all this about, exactly?"

"I'll tell you when we get to the station," Saitou said, lighting up and puffing away at another cancer stick. "It's too... big to talk about out here. Someone may hear us."

Kaoru glanced at her watch and yelped in terror. "Yikes! Damn, I'm gonna be late!" Giving Kenshin a quick pat on the back, Kaoru took off down the street. "I'll give you a call tonight to find out what's going on, Kenshiiiiiin!"

Kenshin blinked as a cloud of dust trailed the dark-haired woman in her wake. He shook his head, and focused his attention on the solemn man beside him. "You couldn't say anything around her, could you?"

Saitou frowned. "She worries about you too much.... if she knew that this case involved all those skeletons in your closet, she'd never let you out of her sight. And you know what could happen to her if she gets in the way."

Kenshin nodded mournfully. "Yes. I know."

* * *

Back at the station, Kenshin handed Saitou a cup of coffee and plopped down at his desk. "Well, go ahead and spill. What's the Chief got you all more serious about than usual?"

"It's about that kid of yours... Myoujin Yahiko," Saitou said, sipping a bit of the brew. He sat back in his chair and crossed his legs.

"You mean... it's the Yakuza."

Saitou nodded. "Yes. But it's the Shishio Clan this time," he said rather bluntly.

Kenshin's heart froze at the sound of those words coming out of his partner's mouth. "Shi... shio?" He couldn't believe his ears... not again, not again! When would the ghosts of his past stop coming back to haunt him?

"I know how you're feeling right now, Himura. I was there, too, or have you forgotten?" Saitou deadpanned, closing his eyes in some long-forgotten memory. He was a cop then, too, the first time he met--and fought--Himura Kenshin. Funny, Saitou mused, how things can change.

Kenshin silently wished he were as strong as his scarred exterior portrayed. He trembled a bit, swallowing hard. "So... what exactly does the Chief expect us to do? If they're breaking Japanese laws there's nothing we ourselves can do about it, that there is not."

"Himura, when I mentioned before that 'someone' might overhear us if I were to speak to you about this in public, I wasn't just talking about Miss Kamiya," Saitou said rather coldly. "The Yakuza is here."

Kenshin lowered his frightful stare to the floor, his red locks curtaining his amethyst eyes. "And... Chief wants us to handle this case, I take it."

Saitou nodded. "We are the only two cut out for this case, Himura. We know first hand how the Yakuza works," he paused to set his coffee cup on his desk. "And you especially. You once worked for the Shishio Clan, did you not?"

"Yes," said Kenshin, his voice lowered beyond a whisper. Saitou had to strain his professionally trained hearing to catch it.

"Then you're perfect for this case," he said. "Now, as far as Yahiko goes--"

Kenshin finely tuned his own hearing. If Yahiko was in danger, he couldn't be careless. "Yahiko," he cut in. "Yahiko... had nothing to do with Makoto Shishio and his clan. Why--"

"Yahiko has ties to you, Himura. That's enough for him to be used as bait to conveniently lure you into whatever trap they've got set. If you value that kid, I suggest you keep him under lock and key until that rat bastard is behind bars," Saitou lit up another cigarette, fogging up their tiny office. Kenshin blanched at the smell. If there was anything worse he hated than Makoto Shishio himself, it was those damn cancer sticks that Saitou lived on.

Saitou grinned at his partner's discomfort, and continued. "Word has it, Shishio has sent someone here to America after you. A dangerous man--a freelance Yakuza."

"Do we have any leads--a name? A description? Eyewitnesses?"

"A name--" Saitou said between puffs. "--a dark fellow." Handing Kenshin a folded up paper, Kenshin's heart caught in his throat as he read the name aloud.

"Sagara... Sanosuke."

to be continued....

Notes for part one:

Kenshin's hat is a Fedora hat made out of 100% beaver from Nathaniel's of Colorado and costs $535.00. No, really. I researched this too. ^_^ Look it up online sometime.

The Bagel Point Cafe really does exist in Brooklyn. Where at exactly, I have no idea (I've never been to New York .). I just wanted a sense of modernism in my fic, since that's when it takes place, so I searched for real-life places and things. After all, Watsuki-sensei did the exact same thing when he created Rurouni Kenshin. And remember, this *is* AU and I have the freedom to mess around with ages/places and whatnot. ^_^

There are two types of Yakuza: 1) clan, and 2) freelance. Sanosuke, in my story, is a freelance-Yakuza. Often times freelancers are hired by clan-Yakuza. However, sometimes the clan-Yakuza will tip the police off on crimes a freelancer may have committed.