Disclaimer: If I owned RK, you'd know it ^_- This is just non-profit, good ol' fun!

Ascendance Into Heaven
* * * * * * * * * * * *
blue
blueweber@hotmail.com


So here we are again, he thought, drawing his sword out slowly. Some part of
me must have realized that this day would come. He almost snorted out loud at the
thought, of course I knew this day would come, knew it the day I saw the idiot
standing in that field of the dead, knew then that this was the boy who would one
day become a man, a man he would want to face, a man he would want to be the one to
take his life.

That is the gift and curse of the Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu, though the students did
not always know it. Ah yes, the former masters always accepted that this was the
way things are. To find the final path of the sword, one must kill his master, one
must learn to pay the price of obtaining the ultimate sword technique.

Of course, his baka deshi had left before he could learn the greatest lesson
remaining. The sword takes life and no ideals could change that. You may delay it,
but to take up the sword one will eventually end up using it for reasons that may be
noble but in the end an act that had no real honor in it. It was a hard lesson and
a painful one. If his baka deshi had stayed he would have learned the lesson
through one trial in the moments after his shishou's death, but instead it took him
years of killing to finally find the truth.

To protect life one will end up taking another's. That is the true philosophy
of the katana, and no pretty words or lofty beliefs could change that.

No matter what his baka deshi believed in, if he wanted the succession
technique, if he wanted to win, he will have to take at least one more life.

The life of Seijiro Hiko, Himura Kenshin's own Shishou.


* * * * *


"Baka deshi!" Black eyes blinked as raven hair, damp with water swayed as he
lifted his head swiftly. "If you stand there any longer like the baka deshi that
you are, I'll have to remind you who you're facing here. You're lucky that your
Shishou-sama is in such a generous mood." The arrogant man before him smirked at
those very words as he spoke them.

Breath escaped from between his lips, the sound harshly gritting in his ears,
even overriding that of the waterfall smashing down onto the rocks.

"Finally got your attention, eh?" The man before him grinned, muscular arms
flexing as the other stretched out his sword arm at his own, formidable height. "For
a moment I thought you had fallen asleep, and if I weren't so merciful, I'd have cut
you to pieces by now. After all, how could you ignore your great master like that?
It's such a disgrace to do so after all that I've taught you, baka deshi!"

Glaring defiantly, he tightened his own grip on his katana.

"Aa, now we're angry. What did I tell you about anger, baka deshi?" The
voice mocked yet the question was serious.

Anger clouds the mind.

Anger has no direction if one allows oneself to be driven and controlled by
it.

Anger is an emotion that should not be tempered with when wielding the sword.

Anger is the katana that shall cut into the one who wields it.

He charged uncaring, screaming at the top of his lungs as the muscles in his
legs bunched, pushing, pulling, allowing him to be a blur and no more as water
splashed outwardly with every blinding step he took. His arm pulled back, skin
stretching against sun tinted skin as long, black locks flew behind him from the
ponytail he sported. His hakama was soaked more thoroughly now, a heavy burden but
it did not seem to hinder him any more than the water beneath his feet.

Anger is a passion uncontrollable.

Anger is a demon, a wild, consuming beast.

"Impetuous as ever, baka deshi, for anger will get you killed!" His master
sidestepped his attack and brought down the flashing steel of a similar katana. The
blade winked beneath the bright skies overhead and had he been any slower he would
have had taken the death-blow.

It had taken him four years to learn to not allow the water to hinder him, and
though he was fast now, he still find himself not fast enough as a few strands of
his hair met an end at the sharp edge of his master's katana. Slowly, a long, thin
slit between his naked shoulder blades began to appear, a crimson line against pale
skin where the other's sword had cut. He growled frustrated more so by the scratch
as he came to a sliding halt upon the slippery rocks, having already whipped around
to face his master before he had come to a complete stop where his earlier momentum
had carried him.

"You broke my grip last spring, but I see you still haven't gotten it through
your thick skull how to control those emotions of yours. It'll come, but you're not
ready for the succession technique if you're this stupid and careless when you fight
an opponent you know to be stronger than you, baka deshi."

He lowered his sword, but not in defeat. "No," he answered softly, steel
within his voice. "Today. Today is the day! It's not over yet!"

Brown eyes met his black ones, sad and stern. "You do not know what you ask
for, baka deshi," the older man scolded. "But if you choose to proceed upon this
path, then so be it, but not today. Today you will find nothing but defeat or death
or both, since one hardly proceed far beyond the other when it comes to the fate of
one who wields the sword."

Gritting his teeth he bent his knees, ready to attack. In the blink of an
eye, his master met him in the midst of his sudden charge, having long anticipated
the move. He realized that too late as he felt the butt of the sword hilt connect
to the back of his head. "Baka deshi, you never listen to advice. When will you
learn?"

Those were the last words he heard before his world crumbled into nothingness
as the roar of the waterfall overtook him completely. And with it his consciousness
was swept away just as easily as a man swapping away a fly.

The succession technique was put off for another day.


* * * * *


"You're getting slow, baka deshi," he smirked as he looked down at the red-
head facing him. "Is it because you're getting old, too? But don't think I'll let
you get away with that excuse!"

The other crouched and got ready to attack him again, as the arrogant light in
Hiko's eyes brightened. Maybe he's never said it, but Kenshin's purity and
determination was something Hiko was very proud that his baka deshi possessed. Even
though it had caused him great pains to see the idiot run off to the war, making
Kenshin's and his own life miserable, he could not really fault the boy for it.
Actually, he could but it would be pointless since it was that same stubbornness and
purity that made Hiko choose the idiot to be his student those years ago.

"If you think you can defeat me with that puny attack than you really are an
idiot, baka deshi!" He snorted, giving into the earlier urge. Finally, a work out,
but still, he really would prefer a cup of sake right now to celebrate these last
moments, or have the feel of clammy clay beneath his hands. For awhile, when
Kenshin had gone, he almost believed that he'd die with the taste of sake on his
lips and slouched over his work table some long years later, but the idiot's woman
came and asked him to help Kenshin.

If it weren't for her, I'd not have taken that baka deshi back! He thought to
himself. A weakness for women, bah! Well, at least that was what he told himself.
And though Seijiro Hiko rarely ever lied about anything, especially not to himself,
his pride made him unwilling to admit that Kenshin was about the closest thing to a
son he'll ever have.

Bah! He snorted again; I'd never produce such a baka!


* * * * *


Blue and white haze.

He came to and groggily rose from his futon, lying on top of the covers. He
was surprised that Shishou was considerate enough to bring him back to the house,
much less drop him in a ridiculous heap on his beddings. Well, one must be thankful
for the little surprises and miracles that populate one's life.

The memories of how he ended up there without his knowledge in the first place
was already rising onto the surface of his memories. He grimaced and his fist
bunched, twisting the material between his fists till his knuckles were white before
he forced them to relax, realizing that he was going nowhere with his frustrations.
Slowly, he raised his limbs till he was sitting cross-legged, looking down at the
same tense hands that now rested on his knees, palms opened upwards and facing him.

"Weak," he spat out disgusted as his long, raven hair masked his face.

"Wallowing in self-pity now, baka deshi?" The voice boomed in the one-roomed
shack. Well, what else can you call the dingy place? The boy wondered as he looked
up, glaring and angry.

"What the hell do you care?" He snapped.

The older man rolled his eyes in disgust, "Baka deshi, you're going to inherit
the Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu one day and I'm not going to be around to mother your little
prick of a hide. Why do you think I gave a damn about you, anyway? You think I do
it out of the goodness of my heart? Keh! Then you really must be a baka deshi to
believe that!"

"Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu... ka?" He blinked in the dim light of sunset at the man
before him. The years finally began to dawn on him, and the glory of gaining the
succession technique left, leaving reality to fall onto his shoulders with such a great
force that he physically swayed at the pressure he felt from within.

"Now the idiot realizes it!" The older man sighed in exasperation.

A million questions, and he wondered desperately if he could really cut the
man who had taught him all that he had learned. The only family he considered to be
true and as much as the arrogant, old dodderer made fun of him, his Shishou never
failed to watch his back and was always there to help him and give him helpful --
painful -- advice on many things.

"Shishou," he looked up to search the brown of his master's eyes, his own dark
ones bright with questions and slightly anxious of the answer he would get in
return. "Is there another way?"

The man before him paused, surprised by the question, or at least seemed to
be. The serious atmosphere, tension filled and silent suddenly broke as his Shishou
bursts into laughter, changing the young man's frown of worry into one of annoyance.
"Oh kami, my boy! I'd never thought I'd see the day when you looked like that!
My..." the man gasped for breath, "I don't want that expression on your face again,
you hear me?" The sudden change in demeanor made him blink at the other in surprise.
"If you want to succeed then you must realize that to complete your training, I will
be your enemy from this day forth. One week, baka deshi, I will give you and then I
will return. When I do, I expect that you are ready, and if you're not..." a feral
grin settled on those weary lips, always ready to give a sharp retort. "Then you
die."

Before he could agree or say anything more, the other was gone, leaving him to
stew in the silence. Black eyes looked down to his large hands again and knew not
how to appease the dread within him when he realized what he must do. One of them
will die, and Shishou was not giving him a choice about it either way.

In the coming darkness of the empty hut, he sat in contemplation as a strange
memory came back to him with nostalgic meanings that it never used to hold.

"Baka deshi, when you are ready, you and I are going to drink sake together!
Then maybe have a few go at women since no real man can do without those pesky
little beasts. And when you're good and drunk of both of those, then you'll be a
man for your wonderful Shishou-sama, eh? I expect lots of gratitude then, baka
deshi!"

Shishou, he looked to the ceiling, I wonder if we'll ever be able to do that
together now. But all he could hear was his master's cynical laughter in answer and
his Shishou's challenge to the death.


* * * * *


There comes a point in one man's life when he is truly satisfied and happy and
ready to face Death without blinking an eye; this would be one of those moments. If
Seijiro Hiko had a nice bottle of sake to complete the picture, then he would have
nothing to complain about.

Those amethyst eyes before him were filled with determination, suddenly
strengthened by a realization, the realization of life, of living and through
living, protecting those that lived. The baka deshi would have realized this a long
time ago if he had stayed and trained, but he had to put himself through all those
pains just to arrive at the same point where he began years ago. Well, maybe he's a
little different than before now, Hiko admitted to himself with an inward grin.

But finally the point will be driven across. The true meaning of the katana
is death, whether or not you can save another does not change its purpose. To wield
a blade, one must kill, that is the end of it. The preservation of life, to be able
to live for yourself as well as others, that is the true meaning of the Hiten
Mitsurugi Ryu. To the weak, one must realize that all humans are weak, even the
ones who wield the strength of the sword. Hence, to protect any one thing, one must
first protect oneself. After all, it's all good you want to save the world but you
sure as hell will not succeed by dying.

And it's taken this long, thirty years really, for his baka deshi to realize
this fundamental fact. Kenshin really was an idiot, Hiko thought with a heavy sigh
inside. Why did he have to be the one to be stuck with this baka deshi as his own?
Surely Shishou never had to deal with him being like this!

Then again... maybe this was what it had been like on Shishou's side all
along. This reluctant affection in knowing that the swordsman you are about to
create will be the most deadly of all, but that he would finally realize the extent
of his powers and the sad truth of real humanity.


* * * * *


Shishou found him sitting cross-legged with a jug of sake and two ochoko next
to the waterfall after a week's pass. "Ah, it seems my baka deshi has finally
figured something out!" The older man chuckled at the indigent glare the younger
one sent him. The other ignored him and took a hold of one of the ochoko, glancing
at it with a critical eye. "What's this? You made it?"

He shrugged as he uncorked the jug, "Onagare-o-itadakimasu," he said with ease
as he looked to his amused Shishou who was raising a brow of amusement at him.

"When did you learn manners?" He did not answer the question as his shishou
lazily handed him the ochoko, watching with lidded, critical eyes as he poured the
sake into the small ochoko.

"Arigato-gozaimasu," he said as he handed it back. Snorting, the older man
sniffed the sake as the other gave him a steady look over the rim of the ochoko.

"What? I'm not going to poison you!" he growled in irritation.

The other grinned at his annoyance, "No kidding baka deshi, you don't have
enough brains for that and too much pride to even try." Slowly the other took a sip
from the cup, watching him fill his own. "Who taught you how to pour, boy?"

Obviously, his shishou didn't even consider that he had learned it from the
other. "You do it all the time, and I had a father once."

"Aa, so you were born with sake in your veins, eh, baka deshi?" He took an
arrogant sip of his own and nearly spat out the contents as his Shishou laughed
uproariously at his red face, laughing as he sputtered and gulped down the liquid
painfully.

"Let's get started then," he said suddenly as his Shishou gave him a look.

"Why did you buy the sake, baka deshi?" His Shishou asked though he had a
feeling the other already knew the answer.

"I thought you would appreciate dying with sake on your lips." He answered,
"It is the least a humble student can do for his master on the last day of his
master's life."

"Humble?" His Shishou snorted, "I doubt that will ever be a trait you
possess, baka deshi."

His only answer was a smirk as he drained the rest of his sake, wiping the
last drop from his reddened lips with the back of his hand as his Shishou watched
him with calculating eyes. "Isn't this what you are about to teach me this day,
Shishou? To be humble."

The man only smiled as he finished his own and set the ochoko aside. "Today I
teach you the most important facts of life and of the Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu. If you're
smart enough and strong enough, it will be our last lesson together."

He nodded as he put away his own ochoko. "I shall remember this day forever,
Shishou."

"As if it matters," the older one said grimly. "Death has no care for human
sentimentality."

And without another warning, the battle began.


* * * * *


He should be dead now, Hiko grimaced as he looked up at the blue skies but he
wasn't. The pain told him so and he was more than annoyed at the feeling that he
had not experienced for sometime. The feeling after another swordsman defeating you
and breaking more than a few bones while he was at it. No one had touched Hiko for
so long that he was most amused to discover that, in the end, it was his own baka
deshi who did the damages.

"Should have been dead," he said loud enough for the red-head to hear him.
"Couldn't even do that, eh, baka deshi?"

"No," the younger man shooked his head. "I've learned my last lesson,
Shishou, but I refuse to pay for such a lesson at the cost of your life."

"Baka deshi, at least get a more decent doctor here if you're going to say
that," Hiko growled.

"Maa, maa," the cheerfulness seeped back into Kenshin's voice as the other
came into view, drying those caloused hands on a wash cloths. "You'll be fine, I've
seen Megumi-dono do this plenty of times!"

Hiko rolled his eyes in exasperation at his baka deshi, who was indeed a baka
now. Well, he could have done worse, he could have picked someone like that
annoying Shishou of his.

Dark memories and darker days came back to him then.

"Baka deshi, you still haven't learned a thing." Hiko grumbled as those
memories asailed him. He guessed that he was extraordinarily amazing now, having
been the first to ever survive the right of succession, the Amakakeru Ryu no
Hirameki.

"The sword is meant to kill," Kenshin agreed. "But I made a promise to
myself, and to Kaoru-dono that I will not kill again. You taught me to live for
myself, for today and everyday from now on, and I thank you, Shishou. But I will
not ever kill again; I have people to return to and who are waiting for me. I too
have promises to keep."

Hiko snorted, though inside he was quite proud at the conclusion, no the
compromise that Kenshin made with himself. "Sentimental idealist," was his answer
though, "you haven't changed a bit."

Himura Kenshin, 14th Master of the Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu, only grinned at the
gruff pride in his own master's voice.

"So be it," was the other's answer, not as different as it had been those
years ago. "But I will not live with your blood on my hands, Shishou," violet eyes
shown with a determined light.

Black eyes stared up into the blue skies above, wishing he could say the same
for himself.


* * * * *


The waterfall pounded as he stood in the pink waters, eyes vacantly staring at
the body before him. In those last moments, his Shishou still wore an arrogant grin
on his face, satisfied. There was no fear, no regrets, just that same, arrogant
grin that greeted him the first time he met his Shishou those long years ago.

And now the other was dead, his first kill.

Strength, he realized, was not just in the body but also in the mind and the
spirit. In the end, if he could not handle this, he would have gone mad with the
guilt. But he could practically hear his Shishou's cynical snort if he ever gave in
to that temptation.

"The sword is meant to kill," he repeated it with the memory of another's
voice in his mind. And from this day forward he would protect others by protecting
his own life, by being both selfish and selfless.

This was the balance of the Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu.

In the end, all Shishou's must have been selfish for the last step was the
most painful thing he had ever experienced. And all Shishou did was grin. Wetness
trailed down his cheek and he wasn't sure if it was blood or tears or a mixture of
both.

He glanced down at his reflection in the waters, shadowed by the length of his
loosened hair, its tie cut when Shishou had initially attacked him. A drop fell
into the pink waters as the roar of nature pounded into his ears.

Blood and tears, slowly spreading and diluting into clearness.

"The eye-lids of the samurai knows no moisture," his father's favorite saying
but it was Shishou's words that brought him back again from the depth of his guilt.
"Baka deshi, I trained you better than those sword-wielding whelps, if you can't
do better than them then you aren't worthy of the Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu."

"It's better than screaming insanely, Shishou," he joked to the corpse but
there was no reply and he sobered as he turned his gaze to the sky.

Now I am alone.

He moved the pieces of the body back to shore, toasted to it by the slippery
rocks as he drank another cup of sake. He had buried his Shishou by sundown and
stood with sake jug in hand as he poured it onto the dirt. "A waste of sake, you'd
tell me, but then I thought you might need a little something to get you on your
way. Though you haven't taught me anything about women," he said before snorting at
the idea. "As if you even knew, you old fart." Gentleness came over those black
eyes that were older now than it had been when he had opened them that morning, "But
I'll remember our last drink together, Seijiro Hiko... Shishou."

I won't ever forget this day, and it's not as if you'll let me by making me
take your name and your technique. Smart enough, strong enough, keh! As if that
made any difference in the end.

His blue shirt ruffled in the wind as he took the katana his Shishou had
wielded in the last few moments of his life and unsheathed it, plunging it into the
earth.

He stood there for but a moment longer, remembering the past and with a smirk
crossing his lips he silently agreed with his Shishou for once that he would never
learn humbleness. With that, he turned and left the mountain and the grave. It
would be years later that he would find himself on a similar mountain, with a
similar waterfall, and a similar shack.

In that time, he would be teaching his own baka deshi and waiting for the
proud day that the other would be able to cut him down as well. But that time had
yet to come and he had a life to live for both himself and others.

To give and take, to be selfish and selfless, to be arrogant and... well,
perhaps not so humble. With a shrug of his shoulders, Seijiro Hiko, 13th Master of
the Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu left the mountain that was once occupid by Seijiro Hiko,
12th Master of the Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu, to begin a journey of his own making.

A new beginning and a new life.


* * * * *


Life, death, love, marriage, and birth, a continuing cycle in the human
life. They need it to survive and move on. Beneath the autumn moon, and the
sakura blossoms of spring, beneath the verdant leaves of summer and the cold snow
of winter, humans continue on in their hardships that is their life.

Men learn many things but it takes real pain to see the truth, the regrets,
the past, and the meaning of the sword that the era lives by. Nothing in life is
cheap or free, many times we cannot pay the things that we wished to gain and only
realizes too late how much the cost is and how much we will be changed by the debt we
owe. Even still, Man will live on for himself or for those that he love and for
those that he hate, one way or the other. It is finding that precarious balance of
both that is the hardest task of all. Because we must learn that only when we can
achieve that balance will we be able to fight to our fullest potentials, not just
for dreams or a worthless, fleeting prize, but for something that we are worthy to
both fight for and to keep. Life with all the good and bad experiences in it, only
when we embrace all of it will we be able to appreciate it in the end and give to it
all of ourselves.

Guilt, longing, atonement, ideals, and youth, those were things that he never
held much appeal for. But he didn't need it now, he had a baka deshi to fulfill all
of those things for him and his baka deshi had a strong woman who kept the other on
his toes.

Lucky idiot, probably because he at least had a master to show him the
wonderful world of women! Hiko thought with annoyance at his own master's lack
of participation in that field. What would that baka deshi do without me?

But it wasn't as if he was complaining. He was alive after all, and
breathing, and his baka deshi finally did something right for once.

Now, if only that idiot doesn't screw it up...

He looked to the city at the foot of his mountain and sighed. Perhaps the
kami had use for him yet, since his baka deshi obviously had no tact with women
whatsoever, even after having such a wonderful Shishou like himself! And anyway,
he wanted a grandchild sometime before the next century, and maybe then he'll
finally have decent student who wasn't so stupid.

Yes, nothing could keep Seijiro Hiko down for long!

Hmm, I wonder if Kenshin will regret not having killed me when he had
the chance. Hiko smirked at the thought and hoped that he lived up to Kenshin's
hellish expectations. Well, if not, he'll make sure to do so! His baka deishi
broke the rules and he will definitely pay!

The 13th Master of Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu widened his smirk as he sipped his sake
contentedly with a new life lesson to teach his baka deshi already forming inside of
his head. After all he would have to teach his baka deshi how to Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu
himself a real woman (or at the very least, keep the one he has)! And with that,
Seijiro Hiko, 13th Master of the Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu left another mountain for a far
more daunting task than any he had ever faced before. And though it was definitely
not out of the kindness of his own heart, still he will make sure he succeeded!

With that Hiko once again found himself a new beginning and a new life, this
time not caused by death but rebirth. With that the old dragon took to the great skies
once again.



The End


.blue.
.blueweber@hotmail.com.

This is dedicated to dementedchris, cos she's such
a sweetheart!

I couldn't help myself. Hiko is just so awesome!
Anyway, I thought he'd inherit the whole arrogance
and "baka deshi"ing from his own master.
What? Don't look at me like that! If you haven't
noticed, I had to give SOME explanation why those
Hiten men have no REAL relationship no matter how
many women drools over them -_-;; *giggles inanely*
This was fun to write!

This is definitely inspired by Unseen Watcher's fics,
they are so funny!


Aa - Yes
Ochoko - small cup; sake cup
(From Jeffrey's Japanese-English Online Dictionary)
Baka deshi - idiot pupil
Shishou - Master
Hakama - man's "pants" back then
Onagare-o-itadakimasu - used to get an older person
to offer one their sake cup. It's the polite
thing to do.
Keh - Sort of like, "Hmph!"
Kami - god(s)
Sakura - Cherry blossoms
Arigato-gozaimasu - Thank you very much


The whole sake-mannerism is from a site called
Manners for Sake Party (since there is a certain
way you should drink your sake) If you're interested
for a more detailed description of what to do and not
do with sake, here's the site's address:
http://www.kikumasamune.co.jp/shuseki/index-e.html

"The eye-lids of the samurai knows no moisture," is from
the book called The Daughter of A Samurai. I'm quoting
it because it's one of my favorite books ^_^v

(Hiko... now a matchmaking Shishou... HAHAHAHAHA! Ho boy!
Poor Kenshin! LOL!)

Hoped you enjoy my first one-shot vignette for Rurouni
Kenshin. And just as a self promotion since you're here
*grins* Ookami no Kiba is my first Rurouni Kenshin series
fic. Feel free to check it out ^_^v hehehehe! Ja!

.blue.
.blueweber@hotmail.com.