I honestly can't say where the inspiration for this one came from, but I know I'm very excited to be writing another fanfic for Rurouni Kenshin, this time in a non-canon world. In the event that you like this chapter and wish to read more, please review and tell me so. I do have the first few chapters planned out, but I'm most certainly open to new suggestions! In fact, I definitely encourage them. Thank you so much for reading, and have an absolutely wonderful day.
*UPDATE* : Unfortunately, I have committed a stupid. When I was editing chapters and re-uploading them, I accidentally replaced chapter two with chapter one. The mistake has since been fixed. Thank you to the anonymous person who pointed that out! The things that happen when I don't pay attention...
Disclaimer: I do not own Rurouni Kenshin, or any of Shakespeare's brilliant plays.
Chapter One: The Game's Afoot
"But, soft. What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the-"
"Stop Kenshin, please. I'm begging you. I can't take much more of this."
"You were the one who wanted me to practice your lines with you." Kenshin smiled down at me from his seat on the bench, strands of red hair framing his face. I was on my back next to him, the top of my head just brushing his thigh.
I sighed. "That was before I realized your default voice is monotone."
"And now you know why I'm in Kendo and not in Drama club, Kaoru." He dropped my script on my face none too gently, and I scrabbled for it with a short cry, limbs flailing everywhere. A strong set of arms grabbed me before I could fall off the small wooden bench, and I breathed a large sigh of relief as Kenshin hauled me back up and into a seated position.
"Thanks so much," I said dryly, snatching the offending script off the ground.
"No problem!" He grinned, entirely too cheerful. "You should probably head to rehearsal, or you're going to be late."
I jumped up, scrambling for my things in a hurried frenzy. "Oh shoot you're right! Tell Sensei I'll be there at six, alright? Crap crap crap I can't be late AGAIN!"
Kenshin laughed as I stumbled on through the courtyard, only partly pulled together as I shoved things in my paint-spattered messenger bag and yanked my hair back into its signature ponytail. "Good luck, Kaoru! Don't embarrass yourself!"
"Oh shut up!" I scoffed, pulling open the door closest to the theater. "You may be a master swordsman, but I landed the role of Juliet without even trying – so HA!" I slammed the heavy metal door behind me to emphasize my point, ignoring his continued chuckling as I jogged away.
Everyone was still lounging around on stage and in the first three rows of red velvet seats when I arrived, and I let out a long breath I hadn't even remembered holding in. I had made it on time, and now Hiko, our director, couldn't reprimand me for it. As I glanced around, I realized that he wasn't even in the room. Typical, hypocritical Hiko. He only ever ran late when I got there early.
"Kaoru." Megumi waved me over to where she and Sano were sitting, stifling a yawn with her other delicate, pale hand. I shook my head as I weaved my way through the ancient theater seats, knowing exactly what had her yawning at three in the afternoon.
"Another all-nighter, Megumi?" I chided, shaking my head. "What was it this time, Advanced Biochemistry?" Honestly, her fancy honors classes took up so much of her time that I wondered if she ever slept.
She grinned in her own little cheeky way, flashing a suggestive glance at Sano. "Hmm... I suppose you could say that. And maybe a little human anatomy as well."
"Omigod no!" I cried, squeezing my eyes shut and plugging my ears in repulsion. "That is so nasty! Way, way, WAY too much information, Megumi."
She chortled then, pulling herself up into her typical haughty pose as she laughed about her own distasteful comment. "I was only kidding, Kaoru! I had you for a moment there, didn't I?"
"Me too..." Sano muttered, face downcast as he rolled his eyes. "God you're cruel, making comments like that and not even URK!" A sharp elbow to the stomach silenced him. Megumi just loved to abuse him. It was a wonder Sano hadn't beaten her up yet, considering he took crap from no one.
Well, no one except Megumi.
"Oh, go talk to Anji, why don't you? Megumi preened, shoving Sano off in his direction. "I'm sure he needs some help with his lines."
"He's Friar Lawrence!" Sano exclaimed, grabbing his script anyways. "He only has, like, three total. I'm Tybalt! I have a million and two!"
"You have no idea how wrong you are, idiot," I sighed. "Have you even read the script?"
"Then maybe he can help you with yours," she smiled brightly. "Now shut up and go away. Kaoru and I have some girl talk we need to sort out."
"We do?" I asked, suddenly nervous.
Sano narrowed his eyes. "You're just going to talk about me, aren't you?"
Megumi chuckled. "Of course not, darling. Now shoo." She made the motion with her hands dismissively.
"Ugh, Whatever," Sano huffed, scuffing his feet on the floor as he shuffled away. I couldn't help but feel a little twinge of pity just looking at him. Sano was Megumi's bitch, no doubt about it. She had him at her beck and call, wrapped around her pinky finger to use at her convenience, and he was more than happy to comply. It was true love, alright.
I joined my friend up on the edge of the stage, filling Sano's vacated spot. "So are we really going to talk about him?"
"Psh." Megumi brushed me off. "No, we're going to gossip about that delicious piece of man meat that is Romeo."
"Oh God," I sighed. "Yukishiro Enishi is not a delicious piece of man meat. We've had this discussion before."
"Oh he is." She smiled dreamily across the room at Enishi, who was crouched in a heated argument with Katamari. From the faint strains of conversation I could catch, I realized they were running through a scene as their respective parts, Romeo and Mercutio. "You are soooooo lucky, Kaoru. Now I'm jealous you were cast as Juliet and I as the nurse, because let me tell you, the things I would DO to that boy if I had your part."
"Don't be ridiculous," I said flatly, glaring at her. "Besides, you have Sano. He'd beat Enishi up in a heartbeat if he so much as looked at you funny."
"It's not like he could do that if it were for the play, you know. Hiko wouldn't stand for it. It'd be the perfect excuse. Also, totally not fair that you get Sōjirō too."
"Excuse me?" My strangled expression grew even more distorted. Was all Megumi could talk about boys? I knew she was shallow, but-
"He's playing Paris!" she exclaimed, grabbing my shoulders and leaning in. "He HAS to hit on you. It's literally part of his character. It's required and all that stuff. Why do you get all the hot guys, Kaoru?"
"You know Hiko assigned these roles for us, right?"
"That's beside the point."
"Everybody here?!" Hiko's loud voice echoed throughout the theater, announcing his arrival. A few murmurs of affirmation followed his booming question, and he spotted me. "Glad to see you aren't dragging your ass on your way here anymore, Kamiya," Hiko jibed. The loose association of students giggled, and I rolled my eyes. "Alright, everybody up on stage, move it, move it, don't dilly-dally. I said MOVE IT, Yumi! Kindly drag yourself off your boyfriend sometime today and get your ass up here. I swear to god if I see you and Shishio sucking face again, you're both leaving early. Tae, Katsu, same goes for you."
A few chuckles rippled through the crowd. "You know they aren't even dating, right?" asked Cho, scratching the back of his spike-covered head with his script.
Hiko looked at the two blushing college freshmen, standing a good five feet away from one another, and sighed. "We all know it's only a matter of time. Showmances and all that."
"Showmances?" Katamari giggled, covering his – or her? – mouth with a dainty hand. "You mean like show romances? Like when people start dating after they've been cast as a couple? KEYOOOOOT!"
Hiko just stared at Katamari in bewilderment, then down at the stage, and then back up towards the ceiling. "Dear God almighty, what the hell have I gotten myself into?"
"What if you and Enishi had a showmance?" Megumi whispered in my ear, and it was my turn to elbow her in the ribs.
"Back off," I hissed, because Enishi was literally ten feet away and I was pretty sure he had excellent hearing.
Hiko clapped his hands together. "Right then. Capulets on stage right, Montagues on stage left. We've got some cheesy team-building theater games we've gotta do because it helps us be better people or some shit like that. The faster you move, the faster you can be done with this!"
"Sensei, what do Aoshi and I do?" Cho whined, throwing an arm around the ever-stoic Ice King that had somehow landed the part of Prince Escalus. It honestly astonished me that, as bad of an actor as Kenshin was, Hiko had preferred Aoshi over him – Aoshi, the one whose expression never changed. "It's not like Benvolio or the prince have a side!"
The look on Hiko's face screamed, 'How are you even alive with that much stupidity in your possession?' "Cho, have you even read the play before? Not even in my class this year, when it was assigned reading?" A sheepish, guilty grin spread across Cho's face, and Hiko slapped a large palm to his own forehead. "You're Romeo's cousin, dumbass. Get over there." He pointed to stage left, and Cho sauntered off to the rest of his crew. "And as for you," he motioned to Aoshi, "join the Capulets. They look like they could use all the help they could get."
"Hey!" Sano protested, and Megumi and I crossed our arms for added emphasis.
Hiko promptly ignored us. "The rules to this game are simple. Capture the flag. The playing field is the west end of the campus, where we are now, and the dividing line is the main courtyard."
"Sensei?" A deep, rich voice queried, raising his hand above the sea of teammates on his side of the stage. From the white-bonde hair, multiple piercings, and hipster glasses, it was so obvious who it was. "Sensei, how is this a theater team-building exercise?" Enishi asked.
"I was getting to that, twerp," Hiko sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. "The catch is that every single word out of your mouth has to be in Shakespearean language."
"Ready?" Hiko bellowed, holding his massive arms out wide. "THREE! TWO! O-"
"STOP!" I cried. "What the hell are we using for flags?!"
"Well, since you asked so nicely," Hiko chuckled, sticking his pointer fingers out at each team, "You two."
"Me?!" Yumi and I exclaimed simultaneously, glaring in outrage at the offending hands gesturing in our separate directions.
Hiko went back to his countdown without hesitation. "THREE! TWO! ONE! GO FORTH AND FLEE FOR THY LIVES!"
And boy, did we flee.