Author: Arashi (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Author's Notes: I debated whether or not to actually post this... Don't tell me that you don't get the urge to write stupid stories when you're in the middle of writing an epic! This one is actually a crossover with another anime called Fruits Basket. But it doesn't matter if you've heard of it or not. (I'm only borrowing the idea, none of the characters) And I've only seen up to episode 7 so I'm not trying to stay too accurate to the anime. I'll make sure its nice and easy to understand for all you people who've never even heard of Fruits Basket. The concept is just really cute, unfortunately I don't get into it in this first chapter. Don't worry, this is no epic! Maybe 4 chapters, depending on the responses I get. I just really need a break from my big stories, ok? Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I don't own Rurouni Kenshin or Fruits Basket. There, I've said it... what more do you want from me??
"I don't like this Kenshin" Sagara Sanosuke narrowed his eyes suspiciously as he glanced around the spacious antechamber. The tall man wasn't notorious for his intelligence, but Himura Kenshin trusted his friend's judgment and ability to pick up on dangerous situations. At any rate, the red-haired man was feeling the same sense of unease as they stood waiting.
"If we only do things you like, we'd spend all day gambling and drinking." Saitoh Hajime's cool exterior was unshakable. He procured a cigarette and a match and began doing one of the things he particularly liked to do.
Sano scowled in his direction but somehow refrained from retorting. Perhaps it was the strange echoing sound their voices made in the large room that kept his mouth locked shut? Or maybe it was the sense of foreboding that seemed to hang in the air? The lanky ex-gangster only dug his hands into his pockets and stalked off towards the rest of the group, silently fuming.
"Saitoh" Kenshin's shook his head in disappointment. The former Shinsengumi wasn't making things easy for any of them. "Don't forget that we're here to help you out. Making Sano angry only sews more dissention in this group Can we try and hold it together until after we're through here?"
A pointed glance at the other ten members of their team elicited a sigh from Saitoh. "You're right for once If we're going to survive this I suppose we had better try and get along."
Kenshin let just a hint of a smile cross his face as he nodded and walked toward the rest of their companions. The youngest members, Myoujin Yahiko and Tsukayama Yutarou, were inspecting the elaborate wall paintings. Depicted in the ancient art were nature scenes and each screen displayed a particular type of animal. Kenshin ran a critical eye over the art and realized that each screen was actually a sliding door. There were twelve doors stretching to the end of the large room.
Remembering their strange instructions, Kenshin surveyed the scene, counting his fellow warriors. All together, there were twelve of them. It hadn't been easy to round up twelve people they could trust. At the end they'd grown lax and began recruiting people who's fighting skills they could trust, but not specifically their personalities. Though in the back of his mind, Kenshin knew some of the least trustworthy men were the ones who'd come to them for help in the first place.
"Hey Sano, look! It's you!" At fifteen, Yahiko's voice and body had matured but his personality had not. Pointing to a large painting of a rooster, Yahiko and Yutarou were almost doubled over with laughter as the indignant ex-gangster threatened their lives and limbs.
"Sagara-san you shouldn't let something like that get to you." The quiet voice of reason emanated out in the deep bass of Yuukyuuzan Anji the fallen monk. Standing with his powerful arms crossed, the man dwarfed the rest of the twelve-man team. After five years in prison, the fallen monk had been released for good behavior. It had taken a lot of convincing, but the man had agreed to assist in the upcoming fight.
Beside the fallen monk stood the ex-gangster's long time friend and former Sekihoutai member, Tsukioka Katsuhiro. He grinned and glanced up at the giant of a man. "Sano can't help it Anji. You know he's an idiot."
"Dammit Katsu! Shut the hell up, ya moron!" Sanosuke dropped Yahiko back to the ground and stalked over to his friend angrily.
"Yare yare" Popping the cork off his ever-present sake jug, Hiko Seijurou eyed the noisy ex-gangster. "Can't everyone just shut up so I can enjoy the last of my sake in peace?" He chugged the last of the clear liquid and then pulled the bottle away so he could inspect the inside sadly. Not a drop escaped the ceramic confines, much to Hiko's disappointment. "I knew I should have brought more alcohol"
"Master" Kenshin sighed and let his shoulders slump. "Are you sure you should be drinking before a fight?"
It was a rather stupid question, but Kenshin still felt indignant as the ceramic bottle shattered against his head and sent him "oroing" to the floor.
"Stupid pupil! How could I have taught such a stupid pupil? Have you learned nothing from your years with me? If you have trained as much as I have, there's nothing a little sake can do to decrease your fighting ability! In fact, I find that it releases my tension and allows me to focus on my opponent more clearly!!"
Saitoh slowly covered his face with his hand. "Morons I'm surrounded by morons"
Saitoh peered through the cracks in his fingers at his blonde underling but refused to remove his hand. "Morons everywhere I look"
"Shut da hell up Saitoh, ya bastard. Who ya calling a moron?" Sawagejou Chou rested his hands angrily on his hips as he eyed his superior officer with his disdainful one-eyed look. "What's going on here? Nobody's come and confronted us yet and we got here just when they told us ya think they chickened out?"
"Definitely not." Saitoh pulled his hand away so he could get his smoldering cigarette to his mouth where it belonged. "They wouldn't trick us here They've got too much honor for their own good. Be patient, they'll show."
"Hmph They're probably spying on us right now, laughing their damn heads off Battousai's making a damn fool of himself with his damn friends." A moment of silence passed between the two secret police officers as they watched the strange assortment of warriors bicker.
"Yes well" Saitoh exhaled and tapped the end of his cigarette, watching the ashes fall to the floor. "Just keep in mind that it's Battousai and his 'damn friends' who have pulled us out of the mess we were in. Just between you and me, we should be kissing their asses right now." Saitoh gave Chou a very pointed look with his cold amber eyes. "You make sure and keep that to yourself, understand?"
Chou waved away his commander's concern. "Ya ain't gotta tell me twice. Like I'd admit something like that to these losers." With his thumb, he roughly indicated their companions. "I just wish the fightin' would get started, cause I'm bored as hell and sick and tired of listening to them yappin'."
A voice behind them caused Chou to jump involuntarily. The two police turned to regard the happily smiling man who had interrupted them.
"Dammit Soujirou-kun! Da hell you doing sneaking up on us and listening in on our conversation?"
"Ah, sorry Chou-san. I was just wondering what we were supposed to be doing?" Seta Soujirou continued to smile as he regarded Chou and then Saitoh. Soujirou the Tenken had been the hardest member of the team to locate. The young man had reluctantly agreed to put his ten-year wandering on hold to assist when the urgent situation had arisen.
"We're just waiting for them to show, Seta. Until then we wait here." Saitoh watched calmly as the god-like swordsman nodded his understanding and bounded off happily to mingle with the rest of the group. Saitoh noticed, with some measure of distaste, how well the former assassin seemed to fit into Kenshin's group of annoying friends. "That boy had such potential"
"Yup" Chou agreed. "Kinda sad ain't it?"
"If I'd have got to him first, I think he'd have appreciated my 'Aku, Soku, Zan' Pity the Battousai had to go and fill his head with nonsense" Saitoh flicked his cigarette stub to the floor. "Oh well"
In the middle of the room, Kenshin had just succeeded at calming down his master when Sanosuke grabbed him by the collar of his gi and pulled him off to the side.
"Dammit Kenshin That bastard Saitoh and the broom-head are talking crap about us. Look at them standing over there all aloof-like I can't stand that man! Why the hell did we agree to work with him again?? All he gives us for our trouble is a pile of shit!"
"Relax Sano Saitoh obviously wouldn't have asked us if he had any other way out of the situation. He needs our help but it's not for his sake that we agreed. Japan and innocent people would be in danger otherwise."
"Hmph well that doesn't mean I have to like it When this is over I'm thinking about kicking his ass once and for all."
Kenshin nodded but couldn't keep the exasperation from leaking into his voice. "Hai, Hai do whatever you want, Sano"
Sano marched off to chat with Anji and Katsu, leaving Kenshin alone to his thoughts. Glancing to the far wall, the least social members of the group were slowly inspecting the rest of the spacious room, and getting as far away from the others as possible. Shinomori Aoshi picked a corner and sat cross-legged on the floor. He closed his eyes and began to meditate, passing the time in a civilized fashion.
The last member of the team began pacing back and forth like a caged animal. His hand drifted to the large Chinese sword slung across his back, but the man restrained himself from drawing it. It seemed he was simply looking for the security the weapon provided. As the white-haired man turned to pace back in the opposite direction, Kenshin noticed that his lips were moving. If he was actually saying something, it was too quiet for anyone to hear, but the agitation on his face was as readable as a book.
Kenshin hesitated before he began walking toward the man. If there was a problem, he knew he'd have to be the one to deal with it. The last member of their team had been his idea, after all.
"Enishi? Are you alright?"
Yukishiro Enishi startled out of his own private musings. "Battou" He caught himself and shook his head at his half uttered mistake. "I mean Himura what do you want?"
"I just wanted to make sure you were alright, Enishi you seemed troubled."
The white-haired man smiled ironically. "I am troubled but there's nothing you or I can do about it, now is there?"
"I just" Kenshin took a step toward his brother-in-law, wanting desperately to find some level of understanding between them.
Enishi held up his hand. "Save it for the weak, Battousai I don't need your pity or your help or your friendship I've agreed to offer my services and nothing more when this is over I'm leaving."
"I understand" Kenshin bowed his head. "Thank you for your help."
Before Kenshin could return to the group, a loud booming voice echoed through the room.
"Welcome gentlemen! We've been waiting for you for a long time."
Sano swore and Kenshin could sense what the tall ex-gangster was thinking. They'd been the ones made to wait almost half an hour in the large chamber. The strange voice was mistaken.
"Each fight will be one on one!" The rumbling voice continued. "A single opponent waits in each room. All battles will take place at the same time." Suddenly, the twelve sliding doors with the animal paintings slid open. "Choose your room! We are waiting"
The twelve warriors gathered together.
"So whatta we do, Kenshin?" Sanosuke asked cautiously as he glared at the suspicious sliding doors.
"The Battousai isn't in charge of this mission, moron." Saitoh stepped in front of the group and drew everyone's attention with his assertive tone. "I am"
"I don't see why I'm not in charge. I've obviously got more brains than the rest of you." Hiko Seijurou the thirteenth stood from the place he'd been sitting with a smirk. His mantle swirled around him, giving him an impressive air that the rest of the group completely ignored.
"Master" Kenshin didn't have anything else to say on the matter so instead he turned to face the Wolf of Mibu. "So what's the plan, Saitoh?"
"We do what they said. One on one fights at the same time that means each of us will be on our own. When you've defeated your opponent meet back in this room and that's that. Is that simple enough for everyone?" It was fairly obvious who the comment was aimed at.
"Shut the hell up, Saitoh" Sanosuke growled low in his throat, causing the former Shinsengumi to grin wolfishly.
Kenshin interrupted everyone before they were able to disperse. "Remember! There's no need to kill your opponent. Just defeat them, alright?"
Saitoh rolled his eyes. Kenshin's stipulations had been clear from the beginning. The former Hitokiri would help, but only on the condition that none of the men were to be killed. It was always the same, but it was a situation Saitoh was prepared for. He was particularly happy to find that they'd be fighting separately. How could the Battousai stop something from happening when he wasn't there?
"That goes triple for you, Saitoh. I'm quite serious about this. NO killing." Kenshin read the former Shinsengumi's thoughts easily.
Saitoh simply raised his hands in defense. "Of course, Battousai. Am I the kind of man to back out of a promise?"
Kenshin narrowed his violet eyes and Saitoh found himself wishing he were staring into a pair of angry amber ones.
"Saitoh please control yourself And you Chou" Kenshin turned to Saitoh's subordinate. "Just because you work for Saitoh doesn't give you an excuse to kill defeat your opponent honorably."
"Whatever let me worry about myself, yeah?" Chou marched off into the first of the doors and the screen shut behind him mysteriously. An angry wild boar painted on the sliding door seemed to bar their way.
"Good luck Kenshin." Sanosuke gave the red-haired man a confident thumbs up. "And don't worry, I won't be killing nobody. I've got all the control in the world when it comes to fights. Instead of my obliterating punches I'll just use my shattering ones."
"Obliterating?" Saitoh almost laughed, causing Sanosuke's grin to disappear from his face. "Isn't that word too big for you, moron?"
"Shut yer damn face, SAITOH!!"
"I wish we could control the volume of your voice like you claim to be able to control your punches."
"Maa maa come on you two" Kenshin held up his hands in defeat, urging the men to shut up. "Let's just get this over with, alright?"
"Yeah, c'mon Sano" Yahiko appeared out of nowhere and steered the ex-gangster toward one of the doors. "No sense fighting before the real fight, right? You and Saitoh can punch each other out after we're finished."
"Yeah I suppose" The ex-gangster was still bristling with anger but he tried to remain civil. Right before he disappeared into one of the doors he pointed back at the Wolf of Mibu. "After this I'm kicking your ass, Saitoh! Our rematch has waiting long enough!" Sanosuke stalked off into the dark hallway. The screen door shut behind him and Yahiko and Yutarou couldn't help but laugh once again. They'd tricked Sanosuke into choosing the 'rooster' room.
Kenshin watched as each of the men chose a
room and stepped inside. The remaining doorway stood open, and
its empty blackness seemed to lure the red-haired man toward
it. It was a strange feeling, but somehow Kenshin knew he would
have chosen that room even if he'd been the first to enter.
As he began walking down the dark corridor the sliding door closed
behind him, blocking his escape with painted scales and teeth.
The ancient painting of a proud dragon bared its fangs and twisted
around itself menacingly.
In case you're wondering, this really isn't going to be action/adventure. The romance and humor part of it will come in the rest of the fic. I just had to set some stuff up with this and let you know what characters I'm going to include. I hope you guys like this... If not, I'll be sure and NOT write any more of this nonsense. Your choice, k?
As for timeline stuff, this takes place sometime after Sano returns from his world travels, but you'd have to pretty much throw out my epic "Run to You: Tales of Meiji 16". Nope, they don't fit together... this is just so much nonsense... like one of those bad filler arcs after the Kyoto Arc... *sigh* But hopefully it will be funny!
Next Chapter: The entire gang is CURSED? How horrible! But I bet... you won't wanna miss it!