A hand tapped to my shoulder. It was Ikehara. At least, it had to be him, I told myself. He was the only one who dare go to the bathroom while I take a bath and check out how I feel. That was because my illness had become quite awful - I had frequently gone with fever and I cough blood more often which leads to my running out of breath, and this sends Ikehara so damn knocked over with anxiety. That was why whenever I take a bath and he hears me coughing, he immediately runs over and nags me about how I feel. At first, I was really furious and slapped him across the face, but I got to it that Master Tan and his clan couldn't be the clan of perverts, and so I agreed that Ikehara was just really worried.
"I'm ok," I told him. Although I really wasn't . So that was a lie which Ikehara didn't appeared to have bought, since his hand didn't lift from my bare wet shoulders. That was pretty unusual, because he knew I could react to it and knew the consequence that could follow.
"I said I'm ok. Now will you get lost !"
Quite aware I was that Ikehara was already used to my sharp-edged tongues and it might not do anything to him, but I also want to show him my annoyance . On the first place, no one bursts in the bathroom while I take a bath and still able to live a minute. Except him that is.
He didn't move. Angrily, I clenched my fist to control my temper. "Leave now, pervert!" loudly I shouted without turning around as I sat on the tub filled with water. I thought he was going to live, but instead he laid another hand on my shoulder. Now, that was beginning to get to me.
"You idi -- "
My eyes widened as my head froze. I was going to turn around when a knife came welcoming my face.
"Still, lady," he said to me.
I coughed. The voice sounded pretty familiar, but I was convinced that it wasn't Ikehara's.
"Now, stay calm. Don't worry. I have no intention to hurt you, just do as I say," he purred. Quietly, I racked my memory over and over again about the voice, at the same time thinking of a way out. My eyes played around me , until it fell on the window. The night wind was blowing, and to my - to very much of my aghast - a familiar shadow of a figure atop a tree. The mystery was on once again.
I couldn't believe it. I was in Kyoto, several months after the disaster with the Yakuza. I had assumed I was living quietly with Ikehara on little hut his family had left for him, with no more troubles and worry except of how to make my life more normal everyday. I had thought that the mysterious man had vanished and never to be seen again in the civilization of mankind and in my life. Now, what in the world, for heaven's sake, was he doing up the tree ? Was he never going to let me rest in peace, if he wouldn't?
I guess the sight of my good ole chum took my mind off the pervert caressing my neck with the blade of his knife. He had to repeat what he had said twice in that irritated manner of his before he caught my attention. "I said stand up!"
Are you out of your fucking nuts? I wanted to ask him, but instead, a cough came out. My dagger was in the pocket of my trousers, and my trouser was scattered beside the corner and the corner was some three feet away. Oooops. From the way I saw it : I , naked, unarmed and vulnerable, and he, clothed, armed and impenetrable, it was all on his dominion.............darn! "Well, hello it's not like I'm taking a bath --."
"Do as I say!"
"But you have to close your eyes -"
"Just do it, ok?"
Quickly as I rose, I splashed water on his face, then ran across the room to my clothes. However, he had immediately regained himself and had his eyes cleared when I was only able to wound some piece of fabric around my fair white body. Nevertheless, I was so shocked to see that the man was no other than --
"Shinomori ?" I asked, bewildered. He was the last person I expected to see.
"Yeah, right," he answered, wiping his face . He came nearer, while I retreated, feeling the wall against my back. My eyes lingered around. looking for some ways to escape, but that Shinomori knew what was on my mind. With his calm eyes, he walked forward, meaningfully stepping on my trousers where he knew my dagger was hidden. Until finally, he was so close to me I could feel his breath right on my face.
do you want?" I demanded, before he got any closer.
He spanked the wall with his hands, looking down at me. I gritted my teeth. "Come with me," he answered, his voice still calm.
"Why?" I asked at the same time trying to find a way out. I still hadn't given that up.
Aoshi's eyes lifted from mine to concentrate on the wooden wall, clamping his fists. I thought I saw a fire on his eyes again and it , somehow, terrified me. The way he was staring at the wall was like he wouldn't let it stand one more minute. Maybe that guy had gone nuts. After all, why would he want me to come with him? Besides, I thought we were already friends. Why would he do something as that and hold a dagger right before my very face? What in the world is going on? Then, I thought again. Oh. The mysterious man was there, so everything was quite possible....
for breath, I gathered my might and pushed him hard on the chest. I guess
it was enough to send him falling on the ground. He had gotten pretty occupied
with his mind, and it was one point up for me. "What is going on, Aoshi
?" I demanded.
My hit probably cast him back to my world, right in Ikehara's bathroom, since he tangled his leg with mine and yanked it. I fell on the floor and he got on top of me and held my wrist against the floor . Hard. "Come with me," was all he said.
I rolled my eyes at him. He was getting to be really annoying this time. "Why? What for?" I asked him sarcastically.
His eyes went away again. "Just come with me, I say," he mumbled. He gripped my wrist tightly.
I had no intention to give in, but he was grasping my wrist so tightly that he stopped the circulation of blood and I had to bit my lower lip to keep myself from screaming out loud. He had to stop or my wrist would fall off. .
"Ok, I don't really want to hurt you, so you better do it."
Finally I agreed.. That is ,for one condition : he lets me dress up and closes his eyes as I do so. Then we headed off.
wasn't so late, maybe just around eight or so, but the night wind
was cold enough to send me shivering. However, that was no reason for me
to admit it, especially to Shinomori.
went out and headed to I-don't-know-where. It was night and I was
shivering with cold, but was way too "tough" to to admit it
, especially to Shinomori who didn't seem to be slightly affected by the
cold night breeze. We were walking side by side for some time, me feeling
really all that bad and high with fever, and he not caring for the world.
Exhausted, I asked him about where we would be going. After all, it seemed
like we were walking for what seemed like hours now. But the bastard remained
to be silent as though he didn't hear a single word that I said.
Suddenly, i fell face forward as a rock tipped my foot. Shinomori barked
orders for me to stand up , that ass**** like he had the right to, while
I retort as hotly that I will.
" Keiichi?" I called out , opening my eyes lazily. My eyes were greeted by the an empty dimly lit room. For a moment, I was so lost and no remembrance came to me, but later, after being able to open my eyes wider and getting a clearer vision, I remembered. Keiichi wasn't there. He wasn't supposed to be, because I was with Aoshi, as far as my memory was concerned. The room I was in was quite small, had walls which were painted with solemn colors, and should I say, very neat for a guy to be living in. However, no one was in sight, not even Shinomori. At least, I thought so at first. Where could he be ? I thought irritably. He was nowhere in sight. "Aoshi ?" I asked weakly. I was feeling really terrible and I felt my whole body heating up with fever. The only form of security I could have during those kind of experiences was seeing Ikehara watching me. I guess I had really learned to count on him, after all this time.
"So you're awake now," said a voice, which I had suspected belonged to Aoshi himself. My senses were no longer to be trusted.
"Aoshi's out. He left you in my care. "
Oh. So it wasn't Shinomori. I frowned, looking to the source of the voice. It was a smiling guy . He might have been my age, older or younger, it was hard to guess with his smiling face. His hair was brown and he stood quite tall. but I wasn't so sure, since I was really feeling bad. One thing I couldn't forget was his smiling face. It didn't change, even when he saw me and spoke up. He seemed pretty friendly and appeared to be gentle.
is he?" I asked, with that attempt to rise up. The guy was some feet away
, leaning on the wall. It was hard to see him when I was lying down.
He just watched me, the happy grin never leaving his face. "He's out to finish up something, but don't worry. He should be back by an hour or so."
raised a brow. "What thing?"
He shrugged. "I don't know. " He chuckled. "But who cares?"
My fists balled in annoyance. Why did that Shinomori left me in this kid's care, anyway? With a other attempt, I stood up, wishing to force something out of the kid's mouth. But instead, with legs so weak to support me, my body collapsed back to the mattress.
The guy went on smiling, that really sort of badgered me. "Don't try it now. You're too weak to stand up, so better lie down."
"Would you stop smiling?" I growled at him, pouting.
"And why not?"
"Where is Aoshi?"
"I do, kido and .........STOP SMILING! Don't you have anything better to do than that?"
"I said I can't. Why? Don't you like it that I always smile?"
"No! You look pretty stupid and idiotically dumb to me "
He laughed again. "Thanks."
I put both of my hands to my ears. "Nooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!" I groaned, shaking my head. The kid was nuts. Absolutely 100 %. At least, driving me nuts. I just insulted him and he thanked me for it. Why the heck am I here anyway?
After some time, I resolved just maybe to lie down and go back to sleep. The kid was absolutely driving me insane, and if I go on talk to him, I will be mad the next hour. He didn't seem to mind my impoliteness, because whenever I sneak a glance at him, he was still grinning. Rats. He didn't seem to have been an inch insulted. I guess my sharp tongues was not of any help to me right then. I couldn't provoke him, at least, to leave me alone.
The soft creaking of the door caught my attention. Pretending to be asleep, I didn't stir, until I was quite assured the idiotic sunny-faced guy was out of the room and I could keep Shinomori to myself. They exchanged some words, then, the door shut after someone, who I hoped was the smiling guy.
"So ," Shinomori began . "You were looking for me."
I shifted around and sat up. He knew I was awake. "What am I doing here, Aoshi?" I was doing my best to sound really bossy , but my voice came out sickly and pleading.
He didn't reply, staring out somewhere out of the room thoughtfully, leaning against the wall. Frustrated, I ran up to him and clutched on the chest of his shirt and shook him shouting oaths. That got his attention.
"We've got business to do."
I grunted with disgust. "Aoshi! I hate to admit it, but I'm feeling really bad and -- " I coughed. I had to hold on his shirt to keep from falling back tot he mattress.
The door burst open before I could continue with my complaint. One guy, who, fortunately wasn't the smiling one, entered and whispered something to Shinomori. He was a tall guy with whiskers and those little lethal eyes. Shinomori nodded without a word, then, made an effort to waggle me off, but I clutched harder.
wanna go home --"
"Would you get your hands off me?"
"I wanna go home!"
"Would you --"
"Take me home!!"
"Take her away !"
The guy who had arrived to disturb my complaint took hold of my shoulder and pulled me away from Aoshi. Then, they both exited, Aoshi leading the way.
After a minute or regaining my breath and hopefully, strengthening myself, I headed for the door. I was pretty sure that the guy didn't lock the it. I was hell right. When I went out, I was greeted by this hall with low roofing, as low as that of in the room I had been in, and the wall was pretty much the same -- painted with dull colors. It was long and narrow and almost after every other feet or two , there as door that got me really curious. There was no trace of Aoshi or the big guy there, so I decided to maybe get in one door. But I hesitated, watching the door to my right. But as I was going to open it, on the side of my eyes was that dark shadow that immediately energized my whole body. However, it dashed off quickly in such a speed that could make you think you were only seeing things. It was on the other end of the hall , running to somewhere to the left. But I was quite sure I just caught a glimpse of my old time amigo -- the mysterious man. In seeing him, I instantly forgot about my discomforts and ran after him. I veered left to the dead end and after several yards, I was met with another door. There was no other door, so I figured out he might have left through that exit. opening it, I ran out and was very pleased that I had found the way out. But no trace of the man.
It was completely dark when I walked out ,but the plants around was discernible for my eyes. It was garden, I presumed, beautifully designed that for a while, I had forgotten about the mysterious man. PLants formed a circle, enclosing the passage. A sight of a figure standing beside a tree caught my attention and my mind back to what I was running after.
I ran to it, but it didn't move. Recognizing it was no other than Shinomori himself ,I was wholly disappointed.
are you doing here?" he asked without turning around.
Gasping fro breath, I held on my knees. "Did you see him?" The -the - the-
But he wasn't listening. After catching up my breath, I stood up straight and followed the direction of his gaze. The plants was acting like a barrier but I was able to see what he was looking at. I was so shocked with what I saw. It was Ikehara with a dark-haired girl whose hair was tied in neat braids ,and they were busy battling muggers who were attacking from all sides.
"Kei -- "
Shinomori pulled my arm and motioned for me to be silent. I noticed how his eyes burned and how tightly he was clamping his hands that his knuckles turned white. I followed his gaze once again and fell silent. Whatever was going on, I could ask Shinomori for that later on. As for now, I had to watch the two battle their opponents.
Shinomori was looking straight at the girl in braids . It wasn't easy to describe, since - oh, you know how Shinomori is - he wasn't so much into exhibiting his feelings, but the way his eyes were focusing on the girl put a smile on my lips. If Shinomori would have looked at me that way, I would have kicked his ass and slapped him across the face. It would make any girl feel naked. Well, at least I think so. Or I could have been mistaken, since his eyes were also focusing on Ikehara. I realized I was more engaged in watching him than watching the fight. Crazy ideas soared into my head and I was really very intrigued about the girl, so I decided to watch her too, instead of getting Shinomori to believe I was in any way interested in him by gaping at him like that. The girl might be a ninja or something and she used darts for her opponents. She seemed young, maybe even younger than me and the first time I saw her, I thought I already know her by seeing the way she fights and dresses up. I mean shorts ?! But, hey, it was cool, since it was rare to see a woman in shorts those days. However, she didn't seem to be the type to catch Shinomori's tastes. She seemed .......................... too young.
"You like her, don't you?" I asked with a knowing smile. I had really got carried away with my ideas that I could no longer hide it. Then my eyes centered on Ikehara. It was the second time I saw him fight, and the first one seemed so long ago in Tokyo. Yet, I was pretty surprised he was that good. He could fight in bare hands or with a sword, but whenever I was with him, he didn't show ay signs of his turbulent side. Unless of course he had to. which wasn't frequent. Now, who was that girl beside him? Ikehara never mentioned her to me, and that sort of brought me annoyance.
Shinomori didn't react to it. He must have not heard it, but the following statement told me he heard me all right. "And you like him," he said coldly.
I don't know it, if I turned red or what, but my first reaction was denial. Getting Ikehara more than a friend was ............" No, I don't."
"Of course you do," he went on. "You were crying out his name in your sleep."
"Look at you now. You hate her, don't you? You're burning with jealousy."
I narrowed my eyes at him. i never took it that the annoyance I was feeling was actually jealousy. After all, moir? Jealous? Nah! But Aoshi was provoking a fight....... "Aw, you look at yourself. You're the one who's burning with jealousy!"
Silence followed, as we both concentrated on the fight more intensely. It was pretty weird that I was just watching and not doing anything to help the guy who had been a big help to my life. Then I comprehended that maybe Shinomori was right. I wasn't annoyed. I was jealous. Hey! I was sort of hoping they would lose. I'd hate to think that Ikehara would find that girl a better pair than me. I wonder if Shinomori was thinking the same thing. By the way, what the heck was he doing just watching the fight? Was he behind all of these?
Darts pierced the ground suddenly. Some inches from my feet. Although it was dark and I was sick, that wasn't an excuse for me not to notice the presence of chum. Judging from the dart's position, it came from the east, and so I spun my head to the east. And yeah, there was the bastard, up a tree, his large straw hat almost clouded behind the night.
More darts followed. I hid behind the tree. Although the desire to catch him incited, I was aware that another attempt, especially with regards to my condition, will be only doomed to a failure. Besides, I was watching something else, so he better just bug off.
"Aoshi, he's --"
"Cut it out, Take."
Take? Wasn't that name of my first *lover*? My eyes went to the man. Another blade stuck between his fingers gleamed wickedly.
"You know him?" I asked, stepping out of my hiding place.
He didn't answer. The bastard let out another set of darts, one of which hit my arm. I grunted irritably. I was missing many scenes already. That probably irritated Shinomori as well. He spun his head at the man and I took the opportunity to hide behind him., sinking down to the ground
"Cut it out, Take!"
I was going to tell him the man wouldn't listen, but to my astonishment, the man disappeared. What's up, anyway? Things were either annoying me or surprising me. Then, I decided to just go back to Ikehara. I was beginning to doubt that Shinomori, so I scrambled up.
"And where are you going?"
I paused. "I'm going back."
laughed a little. "Oh, so you think they'd take you back? I'm telling you
that Ikehara has found someone better than you are."
I looked at him in disbelief. Ikehara wasn't something like that. "What made you think of something like that, Aoshi? it's absolutely crazy."
His face, already grave, grew even more grave. "You think so? " He turned to me. "Yeah. Me too. That was how I thought I am to her. But can't you see-"
I shook my head. "Aoshi, you never know how she feels about you unless you ask her yourself. "
"You're stubborn, you know that?" He turned his head back the the battle. "Didn't you know action speaks louder than words?"
I shut up, apparently at loss of words. What he was saying made some sense every minute, but I faltered in believing it. Then, it came to me that he might try to do something really insane if I leave , so , conceiving that the fire in his eyes was meant for Ikehara, I stayed and chose to watch the rest of the fight with him.
"Promise to me one thing, Aoshi," I began. The austerity in my own voice startled me. He replied not a word, so I went on. "Don't try anything crazy, especially to Ikehara, and I won't plot anything against her."
"Understood," he muttered.
That night, it was really weird , but I spent my night with Aoshi. The bastard refused to speak anything about the man (Take), so I just whimpered around. But at least, being with Aoshi was far more safer for my mentality rather than that smiling guy, who I haven't seen since the last time of our previous encounter. The whole building seemed really empty, but Shinomori was around to put a leash on my neck and prohibit me from sniffing the whole place out. I felt a lot better that night, but somehow, my condition worsens every time something reminds me that another girl was with Ikehara, and the more my condition worsens, the more I wish I hadn't made a promise with Aoshi, which, seemed very silly that time.
The next morning, I woke up to find Shinomori gone. The whole structure was empty. Well, I woke up pretty late, maybe around three pm in the afternoon. But you know how it was - the night was long and I was only able to get sleep this morning. On the room, Shinomori (well, at least I'd like to think it was him) made sure he left food for me, some fruits and other edibles that I hungrily dove into.
It was three in the afternoon and I never felt any better. My being solitary told me I could have all the freedom to explore the whole structure myself, and so I set forth to do so.
When I went out to the garden where I went out the night before, I saw the figure of my amigo. He was up a tree, the same tree where he had stood aiming at me, and his large straw hat rested smugly on his head. Immediately, this sleeping desire to catch him once again trigger, and, with the confidence of being energized with rest, I sought after him. I didn't know where he where we were heading and I knew it could be nothing but a decoy or something or he might be leading me to my burial place, but I made no form of retreat. I will have to finish our affair, once and for all.
It hit me that he might the one who poisoned Shinomori's mind, but I also grasped that Shin was a man of higher intelligence and he couldn't be completely brainwashed by that bastard. If not the man, then who?
The place he had me into was quite far from civilization, as ordinarily usual. I had managed to go up a roof and ease myself with straining efforts I commonly encounter when I was after him. That is, of course, i f there was a roof, but in any case there was none, I stick to the ground. But of course, I brought with me some fruits and kept it on my chest. You never knew when you'd get hungry these days.
I had been chasing him for quite a while that sometimes, I would stop, hold on my knees and catch my breath, and the bastard, really annoying, would stop and wait for me, crossing his arms. He didn't seem to be the type who'd get tired after running a hundred and twenty two miles an hour. But it was neat of him, because at times, I would pause and took a bite of the fruits I got with me.
He stopped somewhere up in a really high tree where he knew I couldn't follow and I had to stop on one of the roofs and check my whole surrounding for any sort of access to him. He was making me think, shit him!
There was some sort of fight going on below, but I refused to acknowledge and chose to believe it was a mere coincidence that wherever I go was trouble. However, the sight of a familiar figure caught my attention. Shinomori.
man skipped form tree to tree again, but this time, some feet before the
fight. Gulping for breath, I ran down, hoping to get to him. There was
no other choice but to go by the ground. I saw Aoshi standing silently
behind a tree, not joining the fight. I figured out that those thugs surround
tacking a young man who was in hood was Shinomori's men, and Shinomori
came silently to check out his subordinates' activities or capabilities.
"What are you doing here?" he demanded without turning around.
Several trees were lined up , enough to shield him from the sight of those in the battleground. Shin, already walking away, didn't seem to be have any interest to whatever I had to say, so didn't continue what I was going to say. He was walking closer to the battleground. I looked up, feeling the man's presence. I had a hard time scanning him and when I did, he was up another tree and was aiming at Shinomori with his darts. It happened so fast ,a and I guess I was in some kind of panic that I wasn't able to think of anything else but to shout a warning and to throw a fruit at Shin as I ran toward him. It hit Shinomori on his left and since he spun his head to look at me, he missed the man's darts.
"What the -"
But my blood was boiling. Although I couldn't see the man's face, he seemed to be smiling as smugly as his straw hat was sitting on his head, and the thought was enough to make me really irritated. I ran after him as he skipped form tree to tree. the time, I didn't care, but I was passing right the center of the battle ground.
"OUT OF THE WAY!" I yelled. The man stopped by a branch of a tree right opposite the ground where I as running. With some flips of his hand in such a remarkable speed, he sent darts to my direction, which I successfully missed. However, in my attempt to miss one of those, I stumbled to the ground and fell face forward. Darn Just what I need.
It took me a moment before I could recover myself. Raising my body with my hands, the first thing I did was look up, but there was no mysterious man in sight. He was gone, as swift as the wind. Still on my knees, I shook my head, somewhat wishing it was just a hallucination, but I was so disappointed. The battle had stopped for a minute , maybe because of my interruption and some thugs gaped at me as fruits slipped down to my chest, while other who didn't see anything watched me with either surprise disgust or annoyance. Even the guy in hood stopped.
"Hey!" Shinomori cried out. he walked out of the trees and headed to me .
"What are you doing here?" the guy in hood asked. He was shaking his head and so his hood fell off.
"Keiichi ?" I asked in bewilderment.
behind him appeared two other figures, one was the girl in braids who I
hadn't seen join the battle and the other one was --
"Kenshin ?" Various theories came to my head as a sort of temporary explanations to whatever was going on, but one thing that remained dominant was that it could be that Shinomori was plotting against Ikehara, since, right before my eyes, I ahd seen thugs tack on him. So ,Shin had deiced to ignore our deal ? Damn!
I felt Shinomori behind me and I thought he was there to help me up, but instead leaned down to me. I was more than ready to shout curses on him . "Aoshi, what is the meaning of this?" I asked gravely staring at him straight in the eyes.
He didn't answer my question. I was so shocked by what he did next - he came to me, pulled my shoulders and gave a long kiss on the lips. I guess I was just way too shocked to do anything , even push him off. My eyes were just wide and I became as motionless as a rock.
Ikehara and the girl in braids became speechless, even Kenshin himself. Shinomori's men gasped.
When I finally got to myself, Shinomori was still kissing me and, angrily, I pushed him off. "What in the world are you doing, Shinomori? "
Ikehara started to us, but Shinomori briskly pulled out - hell, my dagger - and pointed it at my neck. Ikehara stopped. The man was there, despite the fact that I couldn't see him, I could feel his presence. I was pretty certain that if I move to resist, a dart would strike from somewhere to hit Ikehara, if not Kenshin or the girl in braids or me or Shinomori. It was way too tough. I didn't know what to do and what to think. Who are my comrades, anyway? I was getting confused, and even as I Shinomori dragged me along with him , I was thinking, speechless, of many things . One minute, Shinomori was kissing me , the next he was pointing a dagger at my neck.
"So," Shinomori began without standing up. "You're here, Himura . I knew you'd come. " Turning to Keiichi, he went on. "And so are you, Ikehara. I'd like to fight you. And after you, I'll go with you , Himura. I want a real battle with you. "
The girl in braids walked closer, shaking her head. "Aoshi! Why are you doing this?" she asked. I was still wondering what her relationship to Aoshi was.
For a moment, Shinomori's eyes fell on the ground ,I noticed. When he looked up again, his eyes were calm, but stern. That got my curiosity even more. "Don't look at me from now on, Misao."
So, Misao was her name.
The girl stepped forward, clasping her fists. "No, Aoshi! What has happened to you? "
But Shinomori was dragging me along with him. The fight was cut off, and all I could do was stare at Ikehara blankly or to Kenshin questioningly. Somehow, the sight of Kenshin gave me new hope.
The thought of them made me really all that sick, although I was really sick. Let's just say I felt sicker. I was locked right in that room with those solemn walls that seemed to have those eyes that watch my every move. That, was, however, not figurative. I meant my amigo.
A couple of minutes ago ,I was so engaged in beating up the door and shouting at whoever was on the other side (I supposed Shinomori) to let me out or else I will........However, that was only a threat and the thug on the other side, if there was any, knew that, and was quite thankful I wasn't as strong as I normally am (ahem....hey! I'm strong too!) to break the door. But I got tired and my throat was dry ,s oi reslted to sulking. I was getting hungry, and I comprehend I should be saving uo my energy for another fight instead of wasting my strength on some stupid door. If force fails, patience might succeed, as they say, and peculiarly, I was thinking. I guess we all have this tendency to cling on to something that is more comfortable to cling to when time comes.
The door did open, and the big guy with whiskers and lethal eyes came in bringing a tray of food. I didn't move and instead, sank my chin deeper into my arm as it hugged my leg.
He sneaked a glance at me, precisely startled for my calm behavior. He was expecting a lion, I know.
"Here's your food, " he said in his hoarse voice. "Shinomori-san ordered me to bring this to you. You should be thankful."
Not moving my head to look at him I replied. "Thank you," I muttered. I hope he distinguished the sarcasm, if he wasn't too stupid. But by golly, he should have! I am the best actor/pickpocket I have ever known in all of Japan.
Then he left. I was going to move closer to the food, but I heard the door creak so I abruptly stopped myself.
It was Shinomori. He came in and the door was locked behind him.
"Now," he began. "Tell me what is wrong with you."
Lifting my chin from my arm, I raised a brow at him. What kind of a question was that, anyway? Was that meant to make me laugh or insult me? "Aoshi, I wanna go home. Why are you locking me up? "
His eyes didn't change. "You know you can't do that. We have a business to finish."
I threw out my hands in frustration. Who was he kidding anyway? I knew all he intended was to use me. "What business? You plotted against Ikehara and broke our deal. That's enough to let me know you never instead something nice of me. Now I'm sick and all I want is a rest. "
"You are resting," he commented dryly.
"But I --"
" Besides," he gave me a meaningful look, before beginning to pace around. "Nobody asked you to go there and be part of the fight. Why did you go?"
I rolled my eyes. "It's because of you're friend." I made sure I gave an emphasis on the word "friend."
He paused on his strides and looked thougthful. "Oh, yeah." Then, he resumed his walking.
"You sold me to him, didn't you?"
He didn't answer. Of course he did sell me. That was a kind of question you would only have to look up the face of a guy to know that answer. Men weren't such good liars.
"And," I continued, pretending not to notice his uneasiness. "Why did you kiss me? You could get contaminated you know that?"
"Heck, you do know why."
Of course I do know. All he wanted was to get the girl jealous.
" And if you really didn't like the idea, you should have refused it right away, " he went on.
He had a point. That moronic point I hated to admit all along. I guess I wanted to make Ikehara jealous as well. After all, he had made me really jealous when I saw him and the girl Misao together.
"Fine. You win. Now won't you let me go?"
"I promise I'll let you go."
I looked at him dubiously. I didn't know whether to trust his word or not. But I chose not to. Trusting can be really fatal sometimes, and you have to pay for it your whole life.
"By the way, where's my dagger?"
"It's with me. I'll give it back to you later."
Then he headed for the door. Before he exited, however, he spun to me. "If you feel like taking a bath, just tell me or my men. Somebody would have to guard you, though."
The he left. I ate up all my food hungrily and made sure I pretend to be asleep when anybody comes in to get the tray. The looks they'd be giving me could be really embarrassing.
The smilng guy's back was turned to me, as I took a bath. Although getting acquainted with water could be lethal at times like that time that I shivered at a drop of water, as Megumi had told me and warned me , I decided to disobey her order for just once. There was nothing to do and this could be an opporutunity to freedom.
Shinomori had permitted me to do so, but unluckily with the guidance of the jolly guy whose expression never seemed to change. He was very obedient that he decilned to turn around even when I begged for him to do so or else I would cry to Shinomori that he was pervert, but he just wouldn't listen to me , so I cried out to the hallway like a lunatic for Shinomori and demanded that I have my privacy, until we had an agreement that the smilng guy could come with me but he doesn't literally watch me take a bath and at least be a gentleman and not to be a pervert.
I don't spend so long in baths, but that time, even when my teeth was chattering with cold, I decided to spend more time in doing so. The smiling guy seemed really far from being a pervert and in fact appeared to be rather too polite, because even when his back was turned to me, I knew he was smiling. He was driving me nuts, even when his back was turned to me.
Just then, some loud clamor came from outside. The guy stood up and walked to the door as I snatched whatever little piece of cloth in sight that could serve as a cover. Sliding his head out, he peered left and right then went back in, grinning still.
"What the heck's going on?" I asked.
"Oh, nothing," he answered. Then, he threw something near the tub. It produced smoke , thick ones, that I couldn't see. I had no idea where he was, but I knew he was there, even when he didn't dispel any ki . I shouted for him and for Shinomori, but all I heard was the clamor from the otuside. I realized it was sleeping gas (ooooh, I should have known!), but it was too late and my eyelids became really heavy that even against my will, it dropped. however, I managed to catch a glimpse of something balck at the corner of my eyes, and I knew there was more to face..................
Figures circulated on my eyes and I had the tendency to shut my eyes again, or believe it was a dream. but the intense pain on my wrists told me it was reality and I had to wake up, so lazily I opened my eyes. I didn't feel the tub flooring beneath my feet anymore, not even the soft mattress and , in fact, I didn't feel anything beneath my feet at all. Maybe I am dead, I told myself, yawning. If I'm dead, well, let me stay dead and let me rest in peace.
"You're not dead!" a blastering female voice shouted, loud enough to wake the dead - and me.
I conceived I had said it all out loud about my presumptions of my being dead. "I'm not?" I asked. The pain in my wrists made me wish I was one now. I opened one eye. It was a big effort for me. My eyes was playing tricks on me, because of what I saw, I was floating, some 50 meters above the ground and beneath my feet was a crazy fight . "I am dead." And I shut my eyes again.
"No you're not!" the voice yelled again. "Open your eyes!"
I did again, and extended my patience. It took some time before I realized I wasn't floating 50 meters above the ground ,but only maybe about 20. Oh, and one more thing - I wasn't floating. My wrists was tied and I was hanging. Oh gosh. What a dream.
"What's going on? I asked weakly, yawning.
'WAKE UP!!!" the voice screamed.
I rotated my head, searching for the source of the voice. It was the girl in braids, and she was floating as well - oh, tied, rather. "Stop shouting! " I snapped irritably. If it wasn't for her, I would have been still sleeping ."What's going on anyway?" I dropped my eyes to the ground below me. There was a battle going on, but my eyes was too blurred with sleep to distinguish the swordsmen. When I watched myself and the girl a question came to me. "Why are we up here?" It was pretty unfair that we get to hang up while they battle on the ground. Those people on the ground deserve a little rest, sometimes.
The girl - yeah, her name was Misao, I remember now - looked at me irritably. "We were abducted my the Juppon Gatana -"
"You idiot! Wake up! Why sleep at a moment like this?"
"Well, I'm sleepy, for one thing. The smiling guy gave off sleeping gas -"
"Yeah. That one is Soujiro and he's a member of the Juppon Gatana and he is the one who turned you in ."
"Stop shouting, you baka!"
"You are the baka!"
'Will you let me sleep now?" My eyes fell again. At least, sleep was the only thing that could take off my mind of the pain in my wrist.
"NO! Didn't you know Keiichi is already dying to save you?"
My eyes popped open. "Keiichi? Where is he then?"
Her eyes dropped to the ground. I didn't stop staring at the ground until my eyes became clearer, clear enough to distinguish Ikehara and Kenshin. And, yep, there was Keiichi's valiant figure and Kenshin's inverted blade remarkably slicing through. The place we were in wasn't a typical Japanese building. In fact, it appeared rather westernized and some stocks of boxed almost everywhere. The walls were made of cement and the ceiling was high. it might be a storage room or something of that sort.
Her eyes went far away. I thought she became really cuter and cuter each minute, and if she'd blush she'd lose that "kiddie" impression I had on her. She must be something, after all, since Shinomori wasn't the kind of man that would fall for a screaming air head. But she didn't blush or anything and her dark lively eyes became something grave. "Aoshi's become evil, you know ."
"He had?" I raised a brow at her.
"Yes. He's obsessed in being the strongest now and craved to defeat Kenshin. He has become really headstrong and joined forces with the Juppon Gatana to beat Kenshin."
"So, you mean he's behind our kidnapping?"
"I don't know, but it's possible now. Aoshi's become bad and I can't bear it anymore. I have to fight him and finish him off before he gets more and more evil. "
" I don't think Shinomori was that coward. Something might be up." It sent me thinking and I ended up forming different solutions to one puzzle. After all, I know one man more evil than Aoshi or the leader of the Juppon Gatana - and that was the mysterious man. After I minute if thinking of my dagger, I apprehended that I was wearing a loose white robe and nothing underneath. Aw fuck it
"I thought so too at first. But I know he has become different," the girl replied thoughtfully. Outside, she maybe a kid, but the way she was replying told me that she was no longer just a kid inside.
"Where is he anyway? I don't see him anywhere."
"He's not here, but I should say it seems like he's winning. Maybe it's his men down there. We have been up here for more than an our now. It is only now that Kenshin and Keiichi have arrived, and he just used us to lure them here. What a real gentleman he has become."
After a while, I saw a dart fly across the wall. it missed the rope wither because I wasn't still or the aggressor meant it. It was my chum.
"Oh, I should have known!" I yelled angrily. He was standing on a somewhere that leveled me to him, some sort of balcony that allowed a view of all corners of the room.The dart on his hand gleamed. It ws his smug smile, I just know it. Quickly, he let out darts that I managed to miss, except for one that hit my arm slightly. I gritted my teeth.
"YOU!" I cried out angrily. Irately, I waggled free from the rope in vain.
Misao, seeing everything made a face. "Just ignore him ,ok?
I spun to her. " That's easy for you to say, filly, because he wasn't aiming at you," I retorted. And with that, I gave my attention back to my amigo, grumbling. "I will get you idiot. I will get you!! I WILL!!!!"
"What's going on here?"
The door of the humoungous room opened to reveal the familiar figure of Shinomori. I sent Misao a question look. Aoshi seemed innocent of what was going on. The fighting paused, but only to resume quickly. Aoshi was immediately drawn to the fight and some thugs attacked him from here and there. My amigo vanished. After some time, a voice boomed.
"Alas, Shinomori! You're here !"
It came from the balcony. A man, wrapped in clothes like a mummy came booming in a thunderous voice. Beside him was the smiling guy and on his other side was the big guy with whiskers.
fight below had stopped.
"That idiotic moron !" I cried at the smiling guy. His smile seemed to widen at the sight of seeing me hang like a blockhead. "'
'Would you stop calling names ? The last thing we need is to make them madder!" hissed Misao .
"Shut up, ladies!" the mummy roared but it was Misao's stiff glare that shut me up. The mummy cleared his throat importantly. " Now now now. Let's get started --"
"What are you up to, SHishio?" Shin cried from bellow.
"Well," the mummy began." Since you're too slow and all that, I decided to pull away from our confederation and go on with my plans. I had decided to join forces with your good ole friend Take, who is also getting quite bored of you . And, my my , his plans are working. He knew so well and by just having these ladies in our hands, we were getting the dominion . As for you, Himura, I want to beat you up, so be prepared. And, now, let's start the session. "
indeed, with his last 6 words statement, which was like a match thrown
to a gas, the fight did begin. I as much as i hated it, I became that damsel
in distress. I wasn't so used to that, but I guess there was no choice.
I don't know about it, but I had the feeling , even when they're outnumbered,
that my team would win. Kenshin, Aoshi with Keiichi fought against the
Juppon Gatana. Kenshin was a magnificent warrior alone and he could take
up a dozen, so what I did, I went back to sleep. Trust Kenshin to do it.
He will succeed I know. besides, if I waggle free .my robe would
fall off, so I had to keep still. It was a mere nightmare that when I woke
up, I know a beautiful dream would welcome my sight. And hell, when I did,
I was so right.