DISCLAIMER: Yeah, I don't own the characters, nor do I claim to have any authority on the "technical" stuff. Accuracy was not my prime directive, but I tried to keep the characters true. This IS my first RK fic, so be nice, but don't be afraid to say something. I should also warn you, many of this was written between class periods, between sleeping periods, and late at night. Every now and then I'm sure I slip into the wrong tense or the writing becomes choppy…sorry. It just happens. It has taken forever to get anything written at all! I hope you enjoy!
Oh yeah. I should warn you that this takes place after the whole Kyoto arc and Shishio thing. The Kenshin-gumi already knows that Saitou is alive, but they still don't particularly like him.
The Wolf's Mission
By Leila Winters
"Saitou…what brings you here?" Kenshin asked as the police officer walked into the dojo. He looks better than the last time I saw him, Kenshin thought, watching him shake snow from his hat. The last few weeks have been kind of him.
Hajime Saitou smiled into Kenshin's eyes and said, "Just a little business while my wife is in town shopping."
Kenshin visibly started as his entire face paled. "Y-your WIFE?"
The officer seemed unperturbed by Himura's shock. "Well, naturally, Battousai. Tokio is capable of taking care of herself. But since I'm doing some work in Tokyo, it seemed cheaper to bring my wife here instead of keeping up a home in winter. Besides, she may prove quite useful later on."
Kenshin held back the flare of anger that came often when dealing with the wolf that was Hajime Saitou. "You would use your own wife as bait?" There was an undeniable harshness to his voice.
Something flashed in Saitou's eyes as he coolly regarded the smaller man before him. "Do not underestimate me, Battousai. My wife is no liability to me, but I would not deliberately endanger her."
"Oh, really?" A familiar voice piped in. "I guess that's a real shocker since you'd be willing to do just about anything else," Sanosuke said as he leaned against the doorframe behind Kenshin.
"I don't see what business it is of yours."
Sano gave Saitou a little smirk before replying. "Easy. Anything that involves Kenshin includes me. You want Kenshin for a job, you better start planning for two."
The conversation obviously below him, Saitou turned away from the fighter. "Hmph. I don't have time for this. Moron."
At that, Sanosuke's temper got the best of him. "OH YEAH?? WELL, WHO'D WANNA MARRY A HEARTLESS BASTARD LIKE YOU ANYWAYS—"
The three men turned to see a beautiful woman in the doorway. She smiled kindly and her gentle eyes traveled from Sanosuke to Kenshin and finally rested upon Saitou.
Kenshin couldn't take his eyes off of her. Her hair was up in a neat little twist at the back of her head, while a few wisps of hair framed her face. She had on a dark blue cloak to keep the snow off and a warm kimono with a high neck. There was a trace of mud at the hem of her cloak, and as she reached a hand up to tuck away a strand of hair, he noticed there was a small tear in her sleeve. Somehow it just seemed out of place with this woman who looked so neat and tidy. The woman smiled apologetically.
"I'm sorry. I ran into a little trouble at the market and then I couldn't remember the exact directions to this place. You'll have to write it down for me sometime, Hajime-san." With that, the woman removed her cloak and hung it on a nearby coat hook on the wall.
"Kenshin…who's here?" Kaoru asked as she popped her head into the room and stopped short at seeing Saitou.
Kenshin gave a little cough and said, "Well, Saitou just stopped by and this is…" he paused, knowing the answer and not believing it.
"Forgive me for not introducing myself sooner," the woman said as she gave a small bow. "I am Tokio Fujita—or Saitou if you prefer."
The sound of Sano and Kaoru hitting the floor echoed throughout the room.
Sano recovered first. "WHAT?? YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME!!"
"T-Tokio?? Hajime Saitou's WIFE??" Kaoru croaked.
"Hey, what's going on?" Yahiko asked as he and Megumi walked into the dojo, shaking snow from an umbrella.
Kaoru pointed a shaking finger at the woman. "T-that's Saitou's WIFE, Tokio!"
It took a fraction of a second for Yahiko to respond. "YEAH, RIGHT! YOU THINK I'M STUPID, KAORU??"
"Oh my…" was all Megumi said, a hand covering her mouth.
Saitou coughed uncomfortably. "Yes, well, anyways…I believe I had business to conduct with the Battousai."
Tokio smiled at her husband. "Of course. I'm sorry for creating such a disturbance."
Kenshin approached the mysterious woman. "I hope you didn't have too much trouble at the market."
The woman chuckled a little. "Oh no, not at all! I just seemed to have ripped my sleeve sometime when I was out. Is there a room I can use to repair it? I'm afraid I do not have anything proper beneath this to fix it out here."
"Oh, that's no problem!" Kaoru said, "I'm sure I have something that'll fit you while you fix your kimono!"
The woman bowed again. "That would be most generous of you Kamiya-dono."
Kaoru stopped in her tracks. "How did you know my name?"
Tokio blinked in confusion. "Why, I know all of you. My husband speaks of you often. Kaoru Kamiya: you run this dojo and helped fight the Juppongottena in Kyoto. Kenshin Himura: Battousai the Manslayer turned wanderer. Sanosuke Sagara: fighter for hire who…fights. Yahiko Miyojin: the boy with samurai blood. Megumi Takani: the talented doctor from Aizu. I'm surprised to see all of you here under one roof. Are Misao Makimachi and Aoshi Shinomori still in Kyoto?"
All anyone could do was nod.
Tokio gave an embarrassed smile. "Oh, well, that's too bad. I was hoping to meet them. Kamiya-dono, may I have the extra clothes you spoke of? I know it's just a tear, but I don't want it to get any worse."
Kaoru immediately brightened up. "Of course, Tokio-san! And don't call me Kamiya-dono. It sounds much to formal. Kaoru will do just fine."
Everyone was seated around the table: Tokio next to her husband, and Kenshin, Kaoru, and Yahiko across from them. Megumi and Sanosuke sat at opposite ends of the table.
"Hey, Saitou," Yahiko said as he stuffed his mouth with fish. "I guess you're pretty lucky to show up today. Megumi's cooking is really good. Kaoru's would probably kill a weaker man."
"WHAT. DID. YOU. SAY??" Kaoru fumed behind clenched teeth.
"You heard me. I'm surprised no one's gotten sick off of that stuff. We'd all be better off if you took some cooking lessons from Megumi."
The foxy doctor set down her cup of tea. "You say that as if I have nothing better to do than teach some girl how to make decent meals!"
Sanosuke swished the sake in his cup. "Aw, c'mon, Fox. Have a little heart. You have to eat her food every now and then. Being a doctor, can't you just tell her her food is unfit for human consumption?"
"SHUT UP, YOU FREELOADING JERK! I'LL NEVER LET YOU EAT HERE EVER AGAIN!"
"Aw, c'mon, Missy."
"That's what you get for insulting an ugly, raccoon girl like her!"
Kenshin, Tokio and Saitou merely sat quietly while the others continued to argue. Tokio finished sewing her kimono and placed the fabric on her lap. Kenshin noticed a fresh paper cut on her right hand. He couldn't think of what was disturbing him so much about this woman.
She's such a careful woman, he thought. Why do these small things seem so out of place?
Tokio still had on the high collar while Kaoru's clothes hung loosely around her shoulders. She looked up and smiled kindly when she noticed Kenshin observing her.
"My skeletons are not nearly as dark as yours, I assure you, Himura-san."
Kenshin looked away, embarrassed at having been caught. "I didn't mean to imply…"
"It's all right. It is I who is the wife of Hajime Saitou. He has enough skeletons for the both of us—as you know, I'm sure." Tokio placed her hand on the floor to assist in shifting to a more comfortable position.
Saitou gave his wife the merest of glances before returning to his food. "I am sitting right here, you know."
"I have not forgotten."
Megumi had quieted down and was now calmly sipping her tea. She silently watched the odd couple behind her cup.
"It would be a shame if my own wife talked about me in such a way when she thought I wasn't around." And with that, he placed his hand on the floor to reach across the table for some extra vegetables.
Megumi smiled secretly to herself. So, Hajime Saitou has a soft spot, she thought.
Kenshin noticed this seemingly casual gesture as well. Saitou's hand had rested on top of his wife's—which was still on the floor beside him. Kenshin felt something soften in his chest. Who would have thought that the former captain of the third squad of the Shinsengumi would harbor tender feelings for his wife?
"Hajime –san, why don't you tell Himura-san about the upcoming job?" Tokio looked prettily at her husband.
He remained as cold as ever. "It is not a habit of mine to involve women or children."
"That's no excuse. You KNOW that the others will find out eventually. This way, we not only save our breaths, but we also save the rain forests." Tokio calmly reached for the teakettle that sat in the center of the table.
Saitou never let her hands touch the kettle. His hands casually brushed hers away in mid-air and poured the tea—first for his wife and then for himself.
Sano watched this gesture with narrowed eyes. The bastard won't even let her do anything on her own. Being married to that guy is going to kill her someday.
"Since when do we use tree paper? I believe in this Meiji Era, we use rice paper from our own fields."
"Well, then, you'll just be saving our rice paddies, then won't you?"
Saitou looked directly into Tokio's eyes. "Don't argue with me, woman."
She looked right back at him, an eyebrow cocked. "I wouldn't think of it, Hajime-san," her voice never lost it's gentle lilt.
The couple had everyone's attention now.
"Hmph. You have a funny way of showing it," Saitou grumbled while lifting a match to his lips.
Tokio's hand shot up and wrenched the cigarette from between his lips. Her soft voice rose above the collective gasps from around the table, "If you will not listen to me, then you certainly will not smoke."
"Give me my cigarette."
"I will not."
The air seemed to be charged with electricity. No one breathed.
Sanosuke was preparing for battle. No way in hell am I letting this asshole touch her.
Kenshin braced himself for a fight.
As fast as it had come, the tension broke. Saitou gave Kenshin a wry smile. "I hope you remember that married life isn't easy, Battousai." And in resignation, he contented himself with placing a toothpick between his thin lips.
The shock of what had just transpired hit everyone else like a bulldozer. This soft-spoken woman had just defied Hajime Saitou and lived to tell the tale!
Yahiko stared in awe and asked what everyone else was thinking, "Are you just going to let her get away with that?"
Saitou fixed the boy with a strange look, "Well, what would you prefer me to do? Gotatsu my own wife against the table?"
Yahiko gulped a few times. "What I mean is…well…what I MEANT…"
Kaoru jumped in before the boy could finish. "What he MEANT to say is that we're glad things could be settled peacefully and we really would prefer it if NO ONE got Gotatsu'd today—ESPECIALLY inside the dojo." Beat. "Please?"
Saitou regarded Kaoru with a cool stare. Abruptly, he dismissed her words, focusing his attention on the redheaded man in front of him. "I suppose Tokio has a point. Knowing you, everyone here would find out within a week."
Tokio slipped the cigarette into his breast pocket. "You may have that one later tonight, Hajime-san."
Saitou's mouth twitched in a slight grin, but other than that, showed no outward sign of acknowledging his wife's words. "The job is relatively simple: infiltrate the enemy's main base and apprehend key players."
Kenshin looked skeptical. "What do you need me for?"
"Well, for years we have suspected men on our own force of aiding the prostitution business. It wasn't until recently that the head chief has become a suspect in pulling the strings in this filthy operation. They like to grab young girls off the street, tie their hands above their heads, and sell their bodies off. After a while, the girls are allowed to be unbound, but any refusals or escape-attempts…and the girls are subjected to brutal gang rapes followed by death. Those aren't only young girls selling their bodies—but women of all ages and young boys as well."
"What makes you think the chief is involved?"
"Not only do the slaves taken into custody mysteriously disappear or are found murdered, the guards placed in charge of them are somehow or another one of Chief Arigotowa's men." Saitou pulled out a picture from his breast pocket. "This is a picture of Arigotowa. The operation begins next week. Are you in or out?"
Kenshin considered this man's words. Finally, he levered himself up with his sheath and replied, "I am sorry to have brought you all this way for nothing, Saitou, but I really have no intention of getting into that business again. However, I sincerely hope that your mission is successful.
Saitou also got up, using his katana to aid him. "I'm afraid it isn't that simple. After telling you all of this, I'll have to ask you to reconsider…" he slowly unsheathed his katana. "Or die."
Kenshin's eyes narrowed. So that's how it's going to be, now is it? The smaller man poised himself for batto-jutsu, his feet braced. "I do not wish to fight you, Saitou. However, if you continue, I will have no choice but to defend those in this dojo."
"Wait! Hajime-san, you will regret this," Tokio stood and wrapped her arms around her husband's waist.
A hand went to her wrist. "Let go," with a whirl, Saitou had disengaged her hands and gave her a push that sent her slamming into the wall.
"BASTARD!" Sano growled.
"Tokio-dono…are you all right?" Kaoru and Megumi materialized by her side.
The woman panted and looked relatively calm, despite the rough treatment from her husband. "Megumi-dono…"
Saitou's leg snaked out and kicked the table out of the way, overturning glasses in the process.
"Megumi-dono…did you cook the curry in alcohol?" The woman's eyes kept a wary lookout for her husband as he regarded his opponent.
Megumi thought for a moment. "Yes, I cooked it in brandy, why?"
Kenshin positioned his hand above the handle of his sword. Saitou crouched low and positioned his body for Gotatsu mode.
Tokio held her head up, a determined set to her jaw.
In a flash, the men raced toward each other, swords ready. Their eyes spoke of a promise of death.
"NO!" The older woman's voice cracked on the single word.
"Tokio!" The onlookers watched helplessly—horrified—as the small woman dashed toward the two men.
Kenshin and Saitou froze simultaneously, there faces mirroring the other's shock.
Kenshin's mind struggled for words. Amazing. Such speed…
Eyes watched Tokio as she leaned a heavy hand on the wall, her breath panting and ragged. In her other hand…was Saitou's katana.
"You mustn't fight here…" her head slowly rose, revealing determined eyes. "If you are going to fight…you will fight outside…
The katana clattered to the floor. The woman's body pitched forward, into Saitou's arms.
^_^ That's all for now! I'm still typing the rest of it…still, it's not finished. I'm hoping to add a little more comedy. Hope you enjoyed it! Thanks for reading!