Chapter 4: Saitoh Hajime and Jinai Takahiro
Saitoh jumped back a distance from his wife. "You know, Hajime, I'll be at a disadvantage. I *am* wearing a kimono."
"Not to worry, Tokio. I only want to demonstrate defense."
"Sou ka. In other words, I just stand here while you punch at me?"
"Feel free to hit back," was Saitoh's snide reply.
Kenshin watched as Saitoh rushed forward. It seemed effortless on Tokio's part, as she either dodged the hit, or blocked it. I've never seen him fight this well before. Even when he fought against me all those times. He's faster right now than any of those times. Faster, more accurate in every way...what could be the driving force that makes him so much better now? Kenshin was at a loss for words.
Saitoh gave a mighty growl as he lunged forward once more. Tokio merely sidestepped to the left. But then something happened that nobody expected. Her right fist plunged into Saitoh's stomach.
The scene froze as Kenshin and gang could not believe their eyes. Saitoh went wide-eyed and coughed up blood.
Tokio caught her husband, as he went limp from the hit.
All of them rushing forward caused Tokio to look up. Kenshin still couldn't believe what he just saw. Sano was looking floored, as was Kaoru and Yahiko.
"You...you see what a good defense can do?" struggled Saitoh, who managed to hold himself upright. "No matter how many times you try, or how accurate you are, if your opponent is defensive enough, you will never get through."
"Saitoh, daijobu ka?" asked a worried Kenshin, ready to help him stand.
"He's fine, Kenshin. I didn't hit him that hard," said Tokio, cheerily.
"FINE!? You just...you just..HIT SAITOH!" yelled Sano.
"Ahou ga. Obviously she hit me. But I'm fine." Saitoh dusted off his clothes.
"Tokio-dono," Kenshin looked at her with eyes only someone who lived through the Bakumatsu could have. "Who are you? It is impossible for you to be such a good fighter and not have been involved in the Bakumatsu. Shikashi (however), I do not recognize you, nor do I know who you are," he put his hand on his sword. "What have you been hiding from us? What is your true purpose here? It is obvious to me now that Saitoh has involved you for a reason." Kenshin ended his soliloquy by turning his eyes onto Saitoh.
"Observant as always, Himura." Saitoh glanced over at his wife, who had also dusted off her kimono. He always liked how she looked after a fight. Her hair was a little disheveled, her eyes sparkled more than usual, there was a glow in her cheeks, and altogether, that drove him almost mad. He was wishing Kenshin and his friends weren't there. Interrupting his thoughts, Tokio spoke.
"Hajime. I think maybe today we should tell them about...about...me. Who I am. Or, who I was." Uncomfortably, Tokio looked down at her feet.
"Aa. Let's all spend the rest of the day on our own. We'll meet at dinner time." Without waiting for the response, Saitoh turned around and headed back into the house.
Kenshin narrowed his eyes as Saitoh walked away. For once, he couldn't tell what the wolf was thinking. Tokio was a mystery as well. From the moment he met her, he knew there was something she was hiding. But, he could never tell what it was. Her smiling face hid everything from him. Almost like Seta Soujirou... Though her movements betrayed her at times, her emotions never did.
"Feh. I'm off. Ja." Sano turned and walked away.
"Me too. I'm going to take a walk." Yahiko strapped his shinai on his back and strode after Sanosuke.
"Kaoru-dono. Please excuse me. I have some thinking to do. Oh, and Tokio-dono?" asked Kenshin.
"I trust you will not hurt Kaoru-dono?"
"I would never dream of it!" exclaimed Tokio, a little hurt by the question.
Smiling, Kenshin replied, "Of course. Mah, mah. I'll see you all a little later." And with that, the former Hitokiri Battousai walked away.
"Well, looks like this laundry will have to be done again," frowned Tokio, scratching the back of her head. "It got all dirty again."
"Ano...Tokio-dono...did you want me to help?" offered Kaoru meekly.
"If you'd like, sure."
"How did you..?"
"We'll talk about that at dinner time, won't we? Hajime and I will explain everything.
* * *
Kenshin walked through the streets aimlessly, his mind racing. He knew she had something to do with the Shinsengumi no Akuma, but what? Names...he tried to remember names. Saitoh had mentioned that one of them was named Harada Koji. But the other one. What was the other one's name? I've heard it before. Long ago, during those fateful times. That's how I knew of the existence of them. But I always thought they were just a legend. I can't have forgotten those legendary names. 's it! Kenshin stopped where he was. The trees around him were beautiful, and the wind rustled through them.
"Jinai Takahiro. The two Shinsengumi no Akuma. Harada Koji and Jinai Takahiro."
Well, there we go. That chapter's done. Kinda in a rush frame of mind, though. I don't really like it. Maybe I'll change it for now, this'll have to do.