Author's Note:

Okay… so this is my first attempt at a RK AU fic. The other one seems to be going pretty well and I finished outlining so I just have to finish writing it. Of course, I had another idea while I was writing it.

Anyway, I'm trying to stick with the actual personalities of characters but to set things up, there may be a bit of OOCness here. As an added bonus, because this is AU I can build all the canon pairings relationships from scratch.

Meaning tons of angst, fluffiness and the like. Sigh… well, here is goes. Read and review if you like it. If you want me to tell you when it's update, let me know too!

* * *


Kaoru Kamiya carefully balanced the tray of coffee and food as she made her way through the diner. The little pink uniform she was wearing swished as it brushed against the chairs. At least the skirt was done to her knees, she got enough catcalls from the diners here with it covering this much.

"Okay," she said cheerfully, high ponytail bouncing as she did. "Here's two number fives, two cups of coffee and a slice of pie. Enjoy!"

She turned around and let out a sigh, bringing the tray back to the counter and letting it drop there. Looking up, she saw Tae give her a half smile. Kaoru returned it, knowing it was the owner's fault that the three other waitresses hadn't shown up for work today. It was Kaoru's own doing that had kept them out this place today.

She turned around and rested on the counter, looking through the glass door. She glanced at the clock, watching it slowly edge towards 9 o'clock. They were late. She frowned, thinking about how much she had wanted to be back home by 10. There she could take a bath, burn this dumb outfit and then call Megumi to go out and dance the…

The glass door opened and three masked men walked in, two of them holding shotguns. One shot at the ceiling and everyone in the restaurant was on the floor, cowering under their tables.

"Everyone stay down!" the lead gunman called out. "And no one will get hurt! Consider yourselves lucky to witness the twentieth robbery of the Black Fox Gang!" The two other gunmen let out a cheer.

Kaoru stood up slowly, sniffling loudly. "Please don't hurt me," she cried standing up and walking towards the lead one. "Please, I don't want to die."

"Hey girlie," he said looking her over, "just sit tight and…"

Kaoru's foot lashed out and she connected with his wrist. The gun went up and Kaoru's hand snapped forward getting him the gut. She grabbed his wrist and pushed it back, breaking it and getting the gun. The man behind him barely had to react as the butt of the shotgun hit him in the temple of the head and sent him to the ground unconscious.

The third guy bolted and Kaoru frowned, turning back to the fallen two men. "Can you…"

The two undercover officers, have since left the order of two number fives on the table, had the two suspects on the ground. They nodded at her and Kaoru took off. She got outside, just time to see a van speeding off. Taking aim, she fired the shotgun but missed the wheel and only got pavement.

She was about to head in and call for backup when she heard the motorcycle engine headed straight for her. With a small smile, she dropped the shotgun and caught the helmet as it arced in the air towards her. The cycle slowed down just enough for her to get on and grabbed onto the driver.

The bit of his black hair poked out from the bottom of the helmet and his trench coat danced in the wind as he pushed the throttle of the bike all the way to the max.

"What happened?" he asked.

"There were three of them," Kaoru said with a frown. "The third one bolted and got into the escape van." She reached down and pulled the hem of her skirt up a bit, grabbing the gun strapped to her thigh. "Think you can catch them?"

If the driver had been anyone other the Aoshi Shinomori, then they would have cracked at smile at the thought. There was no way a black 1995 Chevy Astro was going to out run his Yamaha YZF-R1. But this was Aoshi and he merely concentrated on the road, tipping the bike at a precarious angle as he took the corner.

Shots ran out and Aoshi wavered, trying to avoid the bullets from the van. "Shoot out the tire!" he yelled back to Kaoru.

"There are too many people," she yelled back. "Try to get him into a side street."

The motorcycle's engine revved again and Aoshi brought the cycle to the right side of the van, out of reach of the passenger's gun range but edging towards the driver.

"What are you doing?" Kaoru cried, as he approached the van's driver.

"Getting them on a side street," he said coolly. Before Kaoru could say another word, he had shot forward to the driver's window and stuck his hand in the open window. Grabbing the wheel he turned it left, forcing the van into a side street.

Kaoru squealed as Aoshi let go at the last second and let the van scream forward. As soon as the van was clear, he gunned the throttle again and continued the pursuit.

"Don't DO that!" she yelled pounding him on the back.

"Take the shot," he answered back.

With a frown, she brought the gun up and tried to steady her hand as she took aim. A second later she fired and the van's tired exploded. The van swerved and finally ran off the road into a lamppost. The passenger side door opened and the masked felon took off.

"Take the driver," Aoshi said, put down the motorcycle's kick stand and drawing the gun from his holster. He took off leaving Kaoru to walk around the side and pull the unconscious driver to the ground.

Aoshi ran after the crook as he darted into an alleyway. The tall buildings loomed above him but Aoshi kept his eyes straight ahead. If his luck held out, the crook wouldn't see the subway station.

Turning the corner, Aoshi found he was alone. He quickly jumped down the stairs of the station, he reached the bottom and then jumped over the turnstile, barely hearing the security officer call out to him. He could hear the train coming and if he wasn't fast enough, he would lose the suspect.

"Freeze, Tokyo Police!" he said, raising his gun as he broke through the crowd. Most of the people dropped to the ground, letting Aoshi finally see that the train had already left the station.

He turned and came face to face with the security officer from the turnstile. "Call ahead to the next station and tell them not to let anyone off the train." Reaching into his pocket he pulled out a radio and called into the HQ.

* * *

Kenshin Himura held the sword in the air, watching the blade waver slightly in the air. Tightening his muscles, he watched it slowly come to a stop and was perfectly still. He held it there for a moment in perfect silence before he heard the door lock click open. Swinging it around, he brought straight at the face of the intruder.

Sanosuke Sagara let out a curse as he saw the blade pointed at him. Kenshin smiled a bit before letting the blade drop.

"Sorry," he said softly.

Sano cuffed him over the head. "How many time do I have to tell you! Don't point that thing at me!!"

Kenshin nodded and gave Sano the once over. The man was completely covered in soot and his clothing was in tatters. "What happened to you?"

"I was crawling through the subway," Sano said grimly. "The freaking cops caught us before we even ask for anything. First day on the job too."

"How did you miss the police?"

Sano frowned. "It was a chick undercover as a waitress. She took the first two of the guys out before I could even blink."

"And you ran?"

Sano glowered. "I would have stayed but she was holding a shotgun. Can't really attack someone when they have a twelve gauge pointed at you." Sano sighed. "So much for that job…" He paused and looked over at Kenshin.

"No," Kenshin said suddenly.

"Come on!" Sano cried. "I don't get you at all!"

"Sano, I have explained this to you many times. My relationship with the Hiten yakuza is over."

"But you could be leading part of it right now if you wanted!" Sano interjected. "And if you hadn't left…"

"But I did leave," Kenshin said firmly. "And I not going back. You should be glad that you never had anything to do with them."

Sano threw up his arms. "That's fine, really. I mean, we can just keep leaving in this cesspool that you call an apartment and eating canned beans while you stomp around trying to find… I don't even know what the hell you do all day!"

Kenshin frowned. He looked around the one room studio he and Sano shared. It wasn't that bad. Sure, there was the occasional horde of rats and the constant rattling of the train as it passed by. And they barely had room to sleep, let alone relax to watch TV or even eat at a table but it was home. And it was the first home he had earned without killing anyone.

Looking over at Sano, he shrugged and held up the classified section of the paper. There were several red circles on it. Sano grabbed it and shot Kenshin a look. "Piano mover?"

"Sure," Kenshin replied.

Sano looked at the shorter man. "That thing would flatten you if you tried to move it."

"Well, you could always…"

"Feh," Sano said tossing the paper behind. "Like I'd ever take an honest job." He walked over to the small bathroom. A moment, later, Kenshin heard the shower turn on.

With a sigh, he bent forward and picked up the paper. Sano tried to play it tough, but Kenshin knew he wasn't as bad as he wanted to be. Ever since he had met him as a young punk trying to get into the Hiten yakuza, Kenshin knew he was cut out for that lifestyle. Sano never took a job where the gang was known to kill people and he never carried a gun.

But the honest life eluded them both, no matter what they tried. Kenshin's string of odd jobs barely paid the rent on this place and it wasn't like he could hand a résumé to a company. If he used a fake name, they'd find out pretty quick. And if he used his real name, they'd probably arrest him on the spot.

Well, maybe not right away. But somewhere, there was a police record with his name on it and his statute of limitation was still about five years from expiring. He had managed to elude capture for 10 years. He didn't want to mess it up now. Besides, these ten years living in squalor were as much of a penance as he could do for the crimes he committed. Twenty-seven drug dealers, five police informants, two politicians and one…

One innocent. He frowned and tried to shake the image of her from his head. The way her black hair suddenly exploded when he fired the shot. The way she crumpled to the ground so quickly, before he could even move his hand from the trigger. The…

"Hey!" Sano called out, standing in a towel. "Are you moping again?" Kenshin frowned at his friend. "Oh that's it! I've had a crappy night, there's no way I'm putting up with this now. Let's go get blasted and forget about this whole mess of a life."

* * *

"Come on, Megumi!! Dance with me!!"

Kaoru raised her head above her hand and let her long black hair whip around as she shook her head. The strapless red top meant it hit her bare shoulder like a whip so she stopped after a moment. She stomped her sandaled foot, barely visible from beneath the long flared black pants.

"Listen to me," Kaoru said, grabbing Megumi's arm from where she was seated. "I have spent the last three weeks undercover working as a waitress and living in a dingy apartment over a strip joint. I want to have fun and you are going to have fun with me!"

Megumi's eyes flickered down to where Kaoru had gripped her arm. The green silk fabric was crumpled there and Megumi gently pulled her hand away, letting it rest on top of her black skirt.

"Kaoru, I know you are excited but you have to understand, I just put in a full shift at the ER. I'm really not up for doing anything more than sleeping," Megumi said with a yawn.

"You are so impossible!" Kaoru cried. "I don't know why I'm friends with you! All you ever do is mop around or work. I just want to have fun," she whined slightly.

Megumi raised an eyebrow at her younger friend. "Really Kaoru, you sound just like a child."

Kaoru's temper flared and she clenched her hand in a fist. "Megumi…"

Megumi yawned. "Besides, why would a loud place like this. Really, this is such a crass place."

Kaoru got angrier. "This happens to be the hottest place in Tokyo right now. Do you have any idea how much trouble I went through to get us in here?"

"Well, it was a wasted effort," Megumi said standing up. "I think I'll go home and watch some TV."

"MEGUMI!" Kaoru cried, finally letting anger get the better of her. Megumi turned around and let out a cackle.

"Oh, Kaoru, you are so easy to tease," Megumi said. "Come on, let's see why this place is so popular."

Kaoru's anger broke into a smile. She should have expected that. She had known Megumi since they were in high school, though the raven-haired doctor had been a senior at the time and Kaoru, a measly freshman. It was an odd friendship at best but a truly developed and strong one. And Kaoru was glad to have one person in her life she could depend on.

Well okay… there was Yahiko but he was only fifteen and still living with foster parents. Kaoru frowned remembering how unhappy he had sounded when she called. She knew that he wanted to move to Tokyo with her but there was no way she could pull that off spending half the year undercover as she did. Maybe… maybe this year, she could pass the detective test and get a more regular job.

"Kaoru!" Megumi called out, waving her over into the middle of the dance crowd. "I'm only staying for one song!" And on cue, the song ended and Megumi smiled, heading off the floor.

"No way," Kaoru said dragging her back with her.

Across the bar, Kenshin sat stirring his drink absentmindedly while Sano proceeded to hit on the two girls sitting next to him. A second later, Kenshin heard a slap and the two girls quickly departed. He tried to hide his smile.

"What!" Sano called out. "I was only saying…"

"Sano," Kenshin pleaded. "Let's not get kicked out of here."

Sano smiled. "Like that would happen. I know the bouncer here." Looking over he frowned at Kenshin's drink. "That iced tea better have some alcohol in it." Kenshin pulled out the stirrer and took the rest of the drink in one shot. Sano waited for a few moments for any sigh of intoxication to appear.

"I should have known you'd wuss out," Sano said with a frown. "What's the point of coming to place like this if you aren't going to drink or pick up chicks?"

"I don't know," Kenshin said softly. "Maybe to get deafened by the loud music."

"That's it," Sano said gruffly, picking his friend up by the upper arm. He pushed him towards the dance floor. "Pick one, right now or I will pound you to a pulp in the middle of this bar."

Kenshin tried to smile but Sano looked too serious to let up on this one. He sighed on looked out at the crowd. It was like they had all been replicated from the same source. They moved at the same rhythm, they wore almost identical clothes.

Except for one girl. She stood out from the crowd. Her long black hair bouncing in the air. Her blue eyes glistening with laughter. And movements that could only be described as…

"Is that girl having a seizure?" Sano asked, pointing at her.

"I don't know…" Kenshin said. Then suddenly she stopped and started laughing, gripping her sides as she did. There was a taller woman next to her who looked somewhat amused but trying to look serious.

"Well, at least her friend is hot," Sano said. He paused and looked at the smaller girl again. Nah, it couldn't be the same chick from this morning. "Let's move."

Kaoru was trying to find words in her laughter and finally managed to gain control. She looked up at Megumi and saw the laughter she was trying to hide back.

"If you don't start laughing, I'll do that again," Kaoru said, preparing to continue her dance routine. "And then everyone will stare at you and wonder why you are hanging out with such an insane person."

"I think they're staring at you Kaoru as you are the only insane one here."

Kaoru stuck out her tongue and that broke Megumi's cool. She started to laugh and then looked up, watching a tall man with spiky brown hair approaching her with a smile. Megumi raised an eyebrow and elbowed Kaoru.

Kaoru looked over and saw him approaching with someone else, though all she could see was a tuff of red hair from behind Sano's massive form. She smiled, knowing exactly what Megumi was thinking.

And then her heart stopped. From his right, Kaoru saw a blonde man headed for him, a red bandana around his wrist and something shiny in her hand. Kaoru tried to call out but the man reached Sano first.

Sano felt someone push into him and looked down to yell at the guy. Which was the exact moment he felt the pain in his stomach. Grabbing it, he pulled his hand away and found it was covered with blood. "What the…" he managed to say before he pitched forward right at Megumi.

Megumi watched in shock as he passed out in front of her. She barely had the strength to catch him and bring him to the ground. She felt the warn blood on her hands and everything in her mind clicked into place. Turning him over, she looked at the spreading pool of blood.

"He's been shot!" she called out to Kaoru but the younger girl was already gone. She had pushed her way through the crowd and tackled the guy to the ground, pinning arm behind his head with one arm and holding his gun to his head in the other. Kaoru held onto the gun while she fished her cell phone to call for 911.

In Kenshin's mind, it had happened in the blink of an eye. One moment he was thinking of exactly how he was going to get out of this, wondering if he even wanted to get out of it. The next Sano was on the ground bleeding.

His heart was pounding in his ears, dampening out everything else. What happened? How did… how did he miss seeing someone hurt Sano? Had all the years in idleness so dampened his skills that he couldn't sense the presence of another killer? That he couldn't protect his only friend?

The girl trying to help Sano was yelling at him. Suddenly, the noise rushed back into his head. The music had stopped, people were talking as they watched the scene and somewhere, someone was yelling for an ambulance.

"I need your help to stop the bleeding!" Megumi screamed again. And this time it clicked in Kenshin's mind and he knelt down on the ground. Following Megumi's instructions, he used his shirt to press against the wound. He looked up and saw Kaoru, holding the guy down and yelling into her cell phone.

"This is Officer Kamiya, requesting immediate assistance. I need an ambulance and officers down here now… It's a yakuza hit. The guy I have pinned is definitely a Juppongatana lackey… just one injury. There's a doctor on the scene…"

The rest of her conversation faded. Kenshin looked down at his friend. Juppongatana… a rival yakuza to Hiten family.

Which is when the last bit of violet faded from his eyes and was replaced by gold.