I'm sorry for not getting this chapter up sooner. I was running on about 12 hours of sleep all last week, and I almost collapsed at work a few days ago from sleep deprivation. It was my fault though. I procrastinated earlier, and I paid the price for it. Anyway, about this chapter, it didn't really turn out the way I wanted it to, and I'm not particularly satisfied with it. Hopefully you guys find it okay though!

luvJeasusInHeavn: haha, well, it is a drama.

Hikiri: hopefully I can add more Saito scenes in here. He and Okita are best friends after all. Idk if Okita will be going to him for any more love advice though.

AmazeBallsWomp: no, it's not bad at all. I personally love Okita. I find him to be a very tragic person, and I don't envy his life at all.

Ainhoa11: thank you! I'm happy you liked the party scene, and that you like Takumi!

gozita444: I don't know. She might come to love Takumi...but this is an Okita x Oc story!

lunar9ueen: you're welcome. Yeah, it had to be Kondou. If it were anyone else, I doubt Okita would listen.

yukiko: ummm...thanks? I'm glad you liked it more than my first story...I don't know if you saw the warning in my A/N, but I did say that I would be following the anime route. I'm not going to make any excuses for myself, and I doubt you care, but it's the first time I've written anything of this caliber, and truthfully, that's the easiest way for me to build my foundation. I won't say my writing is anything spectacular, I feel that it is mediocre at best, nor will I say that I have a plethora of imagination, I actually feel like it's something that I lack, but I'm not going back to change my first story. I'm done with it. I'm sorry you disliked it, but in all honesty, I have no idea why you read it if you disliked it so much. The only thing I will focus on is making this story better.

i hope you guess like this chapter more than I do, and please remember to review!

Chapter 8

Yukiko stirred and rolled over in her futon so that she was facing the sliding door. She strained her ears, listening to the sounds of the quiet house. There was a creak, followed by a small shuffling noise. Frowning, she slowly threw aside the covers and slid rather reluctantly from the warm mattress. After she had pushed open the door open a crack, she peered into the dark hallway. Her eyes captured the faint image of a back floating down the hall.

"Takumi." She whispered to herself before silently shoving the door out of her way and tiptoeing to the front door. She warily followed Takumi down the empty, moonlit street; her heart pounded, and the pit of her stomach dropped down to the dusty ground when she realized where he was headed towards. "What the hell is he doing here?!" She thought to herself in horror and disbelief. "He's been gone for a week. Is this where he's been staying at?!" She hid herself behind one of the large columns of the grand gate and watched as Takumi entered and was immediately accosted by two, beautiful, young women with golden hairpins in their elaborately styled hair. She scowled as they grabbed Takumi's arms and tugged at him teasingly.

"Koyama-han!" They trilled in high-pitched, lilting voices. "You promised you'd come play with us!" Their lower lip stuck out in a pout.

"Yes, yes, alright, you two." Takumi chuckled and leaned down, kissing the pale, porcelain cheek of one girl, then the next. The ends of his shaggy, black hair playfully skimmed the collars of their similar, scarlet kimonos. The girls blushed and tittered behind elegant hands.

Yukiko's teeth clenched together so hard it felt as if they would shatter at any moment. With burning eyes, she ran back to her house, away from Shimabara, the red-light district, away from Takumi. Right before she could enter the old, dilapidated building that was her home, she collapsed right in front of the door. Her fists were trembling with fury. "That bastard! He disappears for a week without any word. Has he been playing around with those whores all that time?!" She sighed and leaned her head back against the side of the house. Feeling drained, she tried to control her tears, and slowly, her eyelids drooped shut.

"Boss, boss! Hey! Wake up! What are you doing out here?!"

Her eyes fluttered open, and she could barely make out a blurry image standing in front of her. The morning sun seemed too bright, and she groaned. "Ando, is that you?" She croaked.

"Did you sleep out here the entire night?" He asked aghast. "It's January!"

She shook her head to rid the ringing in her ears. "About that..." Exhaustedly, her eyes closed and she felt her body heavily tilt to the side and a pair of strong arms catch her. A large hand pressed itself against her forehead.

"Hey, boss, you're burning up with a fever! This is what you get for sleeping outside in the middle of winter!"

Yukiko groaned, too unfocused to respond.

Ando lifted her up and carried her back into her room, tucking her into her futon. "Where is that Takumi? He's been missing for so long." He griped. "I'm going to go find him. Get some sleep."

Yukiko grabbed the bottom of his hakama. "No, don't."

He shot her a disapproving glance. "Don't be stupid. Sleep. I'll be back soon." Carefully, he shut the door behind him.

Yukiko didn't know how much time had passed when she felt someone placing a cold, damp rag on her forehead. She stirred. "Takumi?"

"I'm sorry." He whispered.

"I thought you were with those girls at Shimabara."

There was a pause, but the silence seemed to drag on forever. "You saw?"

She nodded, coughing slightly. "I followed you. Why? I thought you said you loved me."

Takumi scoffed and looked away. "Do you love me?"

She struggled to sit up. "Yes, of course, I-"

"But your love and my love are two different things."

"What do you mean?"

"You've only ever seen me as an older brother."

Yukiko leaned forward. "I don't-"

"Because the one you love is Okita."

Her jaw dropped open. "Don't be ridiculous!" She snorted. "Me? Love that guy? Are you senile?"

"I've seen how you look at him, from the very beginning. Do you know how hard it is for me, knowing that I could never be anything more than a sibling?! The first time you laid eyes on Okita, it was like you had known him for ages! You've never looked at me like that before!"

"You're spouting nonsense."

"It's the truth."

"How long have you loved me?"

"Since the moment I was told we had to give you up. That was the moment I knew for sure."

"That was years ago!" She coughed and swayed, her cheeks flushed.

Takumi pushed her down rather forcefully. "Go to sleep. I don't want to talk about this anymore. Let's just forget about this and go back to how we were before I told you."

Yukiko reluctantly sank back into her pillow. "I'm sorry. I don't know if that's even possible though." She sighed before her eyelids closed again.

When he was sure she had fallen asleep, Takumi exited the room, only to find Ando waiting for him in the dark hallway. The large man stepped forward and punched Takumi in the face. Clasping a hand over the wound, Takumi braced himself against the wall, trying to muffle his cry so that he didn't wake the girl resting in the room.

"What was that for?!" He hissed in indignation.

"You know very well what it was for, and you have no right to say you didn't deserve it." Ando responded. "Really? Playing around in Shimabara? I've almost lost all of my respect for you. I don't know what's gotten into you, but you need to pull yourself together." Sniffing, he turned on his heels and stalked away.

"I know!" Takumi whispered with a strained voice. "I know that! You don't have to tell me!" His fingers curled into fists, and his eyes tightened.

A few days later, Ando opened the door to Yukiko's room, bearing two cups of tea. He handed one to the girl in bed, and the other to the man kneeling next to her.

"How are you feeling?" He asked her, sitting down next to Takumi.

"Better, thanks. It was just a slight fever." Yukiko responded.

There was heavy thumping in the hall outside, and Ando whirled around just as Murata burst into the small, cramped room. "B-boss!" He gasped, his eyes wild with a mixture of fear and confusion.

"What is it, Murata?" Yukiko's brow furrowed.

"There's a guy from the Shinsengumi here! He says he wants to see you!"

"Who is he?"

"I don't know! He's got green eyes and light-brown hair!"

Her eyes widened and she threw aside the covers. "Okita-san! What does he want?" She quickly leapt out of the room.

Biting his lower lip, Takumi raced after her, pausing only to grab the katana she had forgotten in her haste, still propped against the wall beside the door.

Yukiko pushed the front door out of her way to see the Shinsengumi's first division captain standing outside, framed by the bright, morning sunlight. "Okita-san!"

"Yo, Yuki-chan." He greeted, grinning.

"What are you doing here?" She stepped out into the tiny garden. "And I thought I told you not to call me that." She added, frowning.

"I came to talk to you about several things." He replied, completely ignoring her last comment.

"Um, okay?" She backed up slightly, for the glint in his eyes had turned slightly dangerous.

"If I were to ask you who you'd protect, given the choice, would you choose to protect your family, or the person you loved?"

Yukiko's eyes narrowed. "Okita-san, what's going on?"

"Just answer the question." He snapped.

"Fine." She hissed, her eyes flickering to the house and back to the man standing several paces in front of her. "My family, I guess."

Okita smiled and relaxed slightly. "I thought you'd say that. So your choice is the same as mine. Well then, don't hate me too much for this, okay?" He smirked.

Yukiko's breath quickened as she saw Okita draw his katana menacingly. "What the hell is going on?!"

"I told you, I'm protecting my family." With his katana raised, he charged at the girl.

With wide eyes, she fumbled for the katana strapped to her left hip, only to realize, too late, that she had left it in her room. There was a blur of motion as she twisted her body, trying to dodge the blow, and she heard the clang as Okita's blade met someone else's. "Takumi!" She screamed.

"I thought I told you to always keep this by your side!" He growled at her over his shoulder. With a grunt, he shoved Okita off of him.

The man's green eyes sparkled with excitement. "You plan on fighting me?"

"You bastard! What's the meaning of this?!" Takumi sank into a fighting stance.

"You can ask the girl over there." Okita nodded at Yukiko. "I don't really feel like explaining it again." Smirking, Okita lunged at Takumi who parried the attack with shaky sweep of his sword. Elegantly, the green-eyed man circled behind the auburn-eyed man and stabbed at his mid-back. Sucking in a large breath of air, Takumi turned and the point of Okita's sword passed just centimeters from his waist.

"You two, stop this at once!" Yukiko snarled. "Okita-san, if you're here to arrest me, or whatever, I'll go with you, just please stop this insanity! Someone could get hurt, or die!" She rushed forward to try and break them apart, but was halted by Takumi's intense glare.

"Stay where you are!"

Okita chuckled at the other man. "How brave of you to protect someone else when you can barely even protect yourself."

Takumi's teeth clenched together and he charged forward with a snarl.

Cocking an eyebrow, Okita dodged the attack easily and kicked the man in the stomach with a raised foot. With a cough, Takumi fell to the ground heavily, but even though he was at a disadvantage, he still looked up mockingly at the man standing over him. The green-eyed man scoffed, his sword held loosely by his side in his right hand. "You're techniques are amateurish at best. No matter how many times we fight, the outcome will still be the same."

Takumi glared at him with loathing. "Do you plan on killing me and Yukiko, just like you killed my family three years ago?"

Okita looked taken aback for a moment. "I killed your family?"

Takumi spat. "You bastards in the Shinsengumi have no sense of right and wrong! You forced me to watch as my family was slaughtered in front of my eyes! And now you plan on killing Yukiko as well! I won't let you kill her! This time, I will protect her!"

The man from the Shinsengumi stroked his chin, frowning down at the black-haired man on the ground. "I think I vaguely remember that incident. Did you live down near the river, on the other side of town?"

Takumi nodded angrily.

Okita smirked. "Do you want to know why we killed them? I can't say anything for myself, but Kondou-san would never order us to kill anyone without a good reason. He's too kind for that. Sometimes I tell him there's no need to be so kind, but he never listens to me."

Scoffing, Takumi's light-brown eyes narrowed. "So you say."

Okita's face darkened. "Watch it. Don't say anything bad about our Commander, our you'll die before you find out the truth." They glared at each other before Okita relented. "Did you know your parents were meddling in illegal business?"

"What?! What are you talking about?!"

"Well, it seems like you don't. Your parents were smuggling in weapons illegally and selling them to rogues and the likes. You know it's illegal to import and sell weapons without a license. Unfortunately for you and them, someone ratted, and we had to take care of it. It is our job, after all, to keep the peace in Kyoto, and selling weapons to rogues is definitely not keeping peace."

"You're lying! I don't believe you!" Takumi hissed, his hands were shaking with anger at his words.

Okita shrugged. "I couldn't care less if you believed me or not. But I think it's about time for you to die!" He raised his katana up and brought it down quickly. Takumi managed to get his sword up in time to block the attack. Pushing back, he managed to gain a few seconds to scramble back up to his feet.

"I know my parents! They would never do that sort of thing!" He shouted.

"Apparently you didn't know them well enough." Okita sneered. His katana glinting in the bright sunlight, he lifted it up to chest height and charged at the man.

Her mind whirring, Yukiko stared at the scene unfolding before her, hardly able to comprehend what was going on. Takumi's parents illegal smugglers? The wonderful parents that had raised her for as long as they could? Okita here to kill her? Something in her mind clicked, and as she saw the sandy-haired, green-eyed man rushing at Takumi, she instinctively leapt forward, throwing herself between the man and the sword slicing through the air. She heard a gasp and a shout, and time seemed to slow down as the sharp, deadly point of Okita's blade inched near her pale, exposed throat.