I do not own anything to do with Hakuouki. Just the OCs...well sort of.

Chapter 17

~Gone; The Oni Complex~

The members of Umarekawaru left the house they had been living in for the past several months late that night with no intentions of ever going back, a certain conference call still very prominent in each of their minds.

"We at Amalgamated Records are so pleased that you have decided to sign our contract." Their new manager had cheerfully announced the night after the radio broadcast. "As you know, the contract stated that you would abide by any rules or regulations that the company decided to apply to you, and I am calling to acquaint you with some of them."

"Alright," Shinpachi had been enthusiastic and exuberant in his high mood. "Let's hear 'em!"

"Well, to start, you may bring two people with you on the road. We will be sending a tour bus your way on the ninth, which gives you the chance to play in one more battle. Make sure you keep the lights on this time though, let everyone get a good look at you."

"Just two? That would have to be Kondou-san and Chizuru." The members had all agreed, though Souji and Saito had looked a little downcast and concerned.

Seeing those looks Hijikata had clapped each man on the back and said simply, "I am sure you can get Ryane and Cat to do some sort of long distance relationship with you two."

"That brings me to the next rule, actually." The manager had piped up officiously. "You are to cut ties with any people you are not taking with you, or that are not in the entertainment industry."

"What?!" Souji had roared, beyond pissed.

"What would the media or your fans say if you were with, or associating with, people who are basically nobodies? No, you will burn those bridges before they come back to bite you in the ass. And if you are, or rather were, in a relationship you will deny it." After a pause the manager offhandedly offered, "Really it's for their protection too."

"Protection?" Saito asked, confused.

"You never know what a fan will do out of jealousy." The stupid company toad sounded way to chipper about it.

"But Ry-" The purple haired samurai turned rocker began.

"It's an order." Hijikata sounded reluctant and half broken giving the command, because he knew that Hajime Saito never disregarded an order given by his superiors. It was an ingrained part of who he was, and how he had been from over one hundred fifty years ago. No matter his own opinion of the imperative he would follow through. No matter how bad it hurt.

Even Shukke, who had been in the room during that call, knew as much, and even she had looked at the crumpled man with sympathy for his coming heart break when he had affirmed in a tired voice, "Yes, sir."

The tour bus that Amalgamated had sent was beautiful, modern and spacious, with a small seating area that managed to fit nine seats around the bus's front section and nine bunked beds with curtains that could be pulled over the front of each for privacy, a small cubby like bathroom, and a locked room for the manager in the back. There was a large screen plasma T.V and a couple laptops supported by the Wi-Fi onboard and a couple different game consoles.

Saito knew he wasn't the only one noting the difference in the seating opposed to patched, under stuffed fake leather and finding the new setting lacking. That and the driver was patient and stoic, not prone to laughter and smiles and cussing like the crazy road raging girls they were used to.

The manager, a broad shouldered man with a small soul patch and sunglasses, even though it was well past midnight, was standing between the sleeping area and the seating area waiting for them to get on. Once everyone was on board he handed them each an IPhone with eight numbers programmed into them. "These are your life-lines." He informed them with a toothy grin. "Add the numbers of celebrities you meet and producers and directors you like. My cell is in there, as are your band mates'. Now what's with the swords? You know what don't answer that, they are cool. We can come up with a story later. Keep em!

"Now I got news that Break Free Records is looking into signing a new act so let's get you to New York to record ASAP. We need your debut album done yesterday." The manager then locked himself in his room, leaving the Shinsengumi to themselves.

"This is not how I imagined things going." Souji admitted as the bus started up. His usual smirk had given way to a frown and there was a lot of darkness in his eyes.

Just when he was actually starting to look happy. Saito thought, annoyed with what was happening and how it was happening. Just when I was starting to be happy.

But it was clear to the whole band that Amalgamated Records did not care overly much about their bands. They just wanted the most record sales possible out of mindless music machines.

It was with this in mind that Shinpachi and Harada exchanged a look before erasing the number the manager had given them for his own cell and added a different number as the house they could never return to quickly disappeared from view.

The Oni Complex:

Kazama had a plan. And as he stood outside of Break Free Records headquarters in the ever bustling city of New York he thought to himself, This ought to be fun. He had even bought a suit for the occasion. And so walking in with head held high the Oni headed for the elevator after a quick glance at the directory on the wall.

"Hey... where do you think you're going with that?" A man in a security uniform tried to make a move towards him, like he would dare detain him.

"Oh, this?" Kazama gestured to the sword at his belt, "It's just a reminder of my past, a relic older than anything you could hope to own, and more valuable than your life. I don't intend to cut anyone with it today. You see I promised my band mate, Amagiri, that I would keep the scenes to a minimum."

"That's it, you're coming with me. What hospital did you escape from?" The guard asked unkindly. Kazama waited, and as the man came towards him, slowly, cautiously, the guard blinked and Kazama was gone; using flash steps to get away from the situation and up the stairs.

He's lucky Amagiri is a pacifist, for a protector of the peace he was quite rude. And with that thought, Kazama continued up the stairs to the top floor of the building and right into the boardroom where the CEO was holding a meeting. Ah, perfect.

"What is the meaning of this?" The CEO demanded. "Someone call security."

A large woman with brown hair and way too much gold half stood, reaching for the call button in the middle of the table. Kazama just drew his sword and slashed the button and the box it pushed into, destroying the hope of help. The woman screamed.

"Now now, I promised I wouldn't kill anyone, and killing the lot of you would be counter-productive to my needs. So… Who here knows anything about Oni?" Kazama's red eyes scanned the people seated around the mahogany table that took up most of the room and scoffed at their terrified expressions. "Well this will be enlightening for you then.

"Oni are demons. Oh you laugh, but it's true. They originate from Japan, actually. Now-a -days you think Oni are trolls with red skin carrying iron maces and bring bad luck. But that is far from the truth. I am here today to tell you, Oni look like man. But are faster, stronger, better. I don't suppose I should be telling you this. But I have use for this company, and as such I feel it should be out in the open. Saves me from answering questions later on."

"Are you trying to say that you are an Oni or whatever?" The CEO asked at the head of the table.

Kazama flash stepped the length of the room and stopped right in the man's face. "You tell me." Again the woman screamed. "Now," Kazama slowly gave in to his true form transformation, his eyes turning yellow and his hair white. Small horns poked through that now white hair. "To really blow your mind. My companions and I are all Oni. The four of us came through time and space from Japan 1879, ten years after a certain Oni female brought a group of Shinsengumi officers forward to Rochester, New York. One of them is Hakuouki, a man I plan to destroy even now. I told him I would fashion a modern day duel with him, and you see…that is where you come in. He and his men formed a band, Umarekawaru. So we formed one too, and our goal is to sell more records then them, to win this duel. You are not to release any of this information to the press. We will deal with them. If you do, well... the Douji-giri Yasutsuna is rather thirsty, perhaps I shall pierce your flesh with it and let it feast on your blood. Have I made myself clear?"

"So you only want a record deal?" The CEO looked confused but there was a gleam of greed in his eyes that humans could be counted on.

"At least." Kazama acknowledged with a nod. "Or at least we can start with that."

"What do you call yourself?"

"The Oni Complex," the Oni informed the room, horns slowly receding as his coloring went back to normal. He calmly adjusted his sword at his belt and walked to the door. Reaching into his pocket the blonde threw a card at the CEO, who flinched in fear. "This is where you can reach us, if I don't hear back from you in, oh, two days? I will know where to find you. It would be wise to not keep us waiting."

Walking the few short blocks to the penthouse suite he and the other Oni were renting, Kazama had time to think about how severely he just broke the laws of his kind. Then again he had been disgraced in his quest for dominance over Hakuouki before, this was not anything new. And he viewed it just as necessary. All things considered, though, Amagiri would not approve.

The press of people walking down the New York street was impressive, and Kazama could not help but marvel at the new heights of society in this era. The people, the trends, the technology. It was all fascinating to him. But while fascinated, Kazama could not help but compare. And he found he missed wilderness and dirt roads through markets. He missed clashing swords as well. Now any chump with a gun and decent aim could become a killer, and with so many people in the streets a randomly fired shot could create death without much opposition; not like walking the streets of Kyoto knowing that if you had to start something there was someone there who could finish it.

To Kazama, it was not so new, to be honest. Not many humans could cross blades with him and live longer than a pass or two, so having a weapon to counter with was more often than not superfluous. But this new way of street killing seemed unfair to the average mortal.

Kazama took the elevator in the building he was staying in to their rooms, sighing at how slow it was when he could step much faster to where he needed to be. Drumming his fingers along the hilt of his sword, the blonde Oni pointedly ignored the attendant's attempt to make conversation after he told the idiot what floor to push.

Finally getting annoyed with the attendant's stuttering babble, he fixed the man with a glare, sizing up how little effort it would take to shut him up. He was surely the most simple-minded individual Kazama had laid his red eyes on since coming forward, so a simple, "Silence," sufficed.

The elevator, which was quite the fascinating contrivance in its own right, stopped at the top floor and opened its doors swiftly releasing both Oni and terrified human from the cloying atmosphere the fear oozing off of the attendant had created. There was only one door in the hallway and Amagiri stood in it waiting to receive the leader of their small group.

"You kept the dramatics to a minimum, I hope." He said by way of greeting.

"I did what I had to do," Kazama drawled.

"You always do," Shiranui said with contempt, "And we end up paying for your audacity."

"Don't encourage him." Amagiri warned.

"Did it work?" The purple haired Oni asked, ignoring the large fist fighter.

"They will be calling in the next two days. I threatened to go back if they don't comply."

"You didn't kill anyone did you?" Amagiri asked, a slight hint of disapproval already creeping into his voice.

"An Oni always keeps his word." Kazama replied laconically.

"And you promised not to, I understand." Amagiri bowed slightly at the waist before moving out of the doorway and letting the aloof leader in.

It was then that the phone rang.

Ryane's Point of View:

I didn't want to get out of bed ever again. I couldn't face either of my housemates, but for two separate reasons. Shukke because I was so mad at her I might slice her with the sword I still found in my possession, and Cat because it was all my fault that she was in pain.

Shukke had known, for however long, that the members of the Shinsengumi were leaving. She knew and had chosen to keep it to herself for whatever reason. I was so mad at her I couldn't think about her without seeing red.

Cat, on the other hand. She had been scared of the Shinsengumi from day one. But somehow I had decided to make it a point to foist them upon her. Memories of that first night crept back, and those damning words I had spoken to her as we huddled to discuss that the swordsmen would be staying with us.

You know, Cat… If you give them a chance you might even like them.

And she had liked them…one of them in particular. And he had acted like he liked her. I had been so sure he had. Remembering that first anguished scream, I realized my push had landed her too far into his world, and now he was gone. If I hadn't tried to get her to talk to them, to him, this parting would be met with relief. It was my fault…her pain, that scream…all my fault.

My door creaked open and Cat's haggard form walked in. "You know what the last thing he told me was?" She sounded so desolate. I didn't get the chance to answer before she told me, "He told me 'Even if this was my last night on earth, it would not be my last night with you, Cat'. And then the stupid drug he put in my drink took hold of me and I couldn't ask what he meant, or say anything at all."

Shukke was standing behind her, looking miserable as well, like she was about to say something that she really thought would be a bad idea to say. "He didn't drug your soda." She told her softly, causing my pain-struck friend to round on her, "I did."

Cat's immediate response was to punch the other woman in the face, but once she started pummeling Shukke, she didn't stop.

"Cat," I called sounding uninterested in my own ears. "Cat, get off her."

Shukke had her arms over her hard, covering her face, and was curled in the fetal position. I got around to dragging myself off my bed when Cat started kicking. I pulled my distraught friend off the traitor reluctantly, because I knew I really wanted to join in instead.

"Why?" Cat shouted, her anger boiling over as she struggled in my arms. "Why would you do that?"

"Because I promised. It was the only way we could think of, and I can't explain what is going on but trust them… trust me." Shukke said hoarsely from the punch she had taken to her throat.

"Why should we?" I asked trying not to sound as hurt as I really was. "Why couldn't he have just told me what was wrong. What? I wasn't worth his trust? But you were?"

"Because he had to protect you." Shukke croaked, hand still on her throat.

"Pfft" I sounded off rudely. "This is protecting me? Breaking my heart? Funny!"

"You don't have any idea how hard it was for them, so don't act like…" Shukke fired up.

"Oh yeah, so hard to drug me so I can't say goodbye! So he doesn't have to tell me properly!" I shouted, equally heated.

"What was the last thing he told you? What was his promise? Did he tell you that secret which he kept from everyone else as his heart was breaking? Think back on that and tell me he doesn't love you, Ryane." Shukke shouted at me, furious as my doubt.

"If he loved me, he would have said it properly." I seethed. "He would have said goodbye properly before going off and doing whatever he is doing. What is he doing anyway? Or can you not tell us that either?"

Shukke surprised me by answering. "They got signed. The radio broadcast was a test run to see what the public would think of them. I…"

"Who cares?" Cat interrupted, punching my wall in frustration. "I guess they just didn't need us anymore."

Cats Point of View:

I was so done with everything. I was tired of feeling, I was tired of Ryane pretending she didn't feel, and I was tired of Shukke sticking up for those bastards like they could feel. I pushed past the lying bitch and made my way back to my room. There I flopped on my bed and read the words Souji had left for me. These I wouldn't share. Somehow they seemed sacred.

If I am unable to move,
Then the Darkness shall separate
Flowers and Water

I didn't know what the poem meant, but his next words meant the world to me, even though I was so mad at him I could barely hold it in.

Begging isn't in my nature.
But just this once,
Please wait for me,
So I can tell you how much I love you…
Face to Face.

Okita Souji.

I will give you a while. I thought when I read that. But only a while. And I will work on Ryane too. Saito is your best friend after all.

The poem in Souji's note was written by the real Okita Souji shortly before he died of Tuberculosis in 1868 in Osaka. He was 22 or 24, no one really knows what year he was born. I thought I would add it.