"And if this one refuses?"
"Then we will have to take you into custody. Beside torture you will face the death sentence of course. I'm very sorry, Himura-san."
"I see.. Nonetheless, I'm no longer hitokiri, so I can't kill for you."
"Too bad.. We have no choice then."
Kenshin felt his eyes narrow on their own. He'd known it was a trap, he'd known he was being set up, still ran into the situation like an amateur. Right now, he looked every bit the bloodthirsty murderer, standing next to her dead body, his sword drawn, shaking from head to knees. All he had wanted was to find her killer and bring him to justice.
Instead, the police chief now held him suspect instead. Suspect of having slain Kaoru Kamiya, owner of the Kamiya Dojo, and her only student, Yahiko Myojin. Being the head of the police force, he couldn't do much about it. He had to do his duty and arrest the culprit before there was any more damage. Of course he knew about Kenshin's past, which didn't do much good to the redhaired young man. Somewhere deep inside the chief felt actually sorry it had to come this far. His men were armed and ready to fire at his command, even if they were quite unlikely to hit the mark. Even with the odds against him, the chief wasn't about to let a murder suspect get away. His glasses did their best to hide the short glance of regret, failing badly at the attempt.
Without needing the command of their superior, two police men closed in on Kenshin, who stepped back slightly, his left foot touching the cold body, making him flinch and look down for about half a second, just enough so his enemies started charging him, trying to take advantage of the rurouni's split moment of attention lack.
Of course, they were too slow. From Kenshin's point of view, they moved in slow motion, so he easily stepped aside as they jumped him, trying to seize him like the fools they were. It would be so easy to get rid of them once and for all, right here, right now. Wasn't he a murderer in their eyes? Shouldn't he live up to his name, being Battousai the manslayer?
What was he thinking?
Just a moment ago he'd claimed to never kill again! Slaying these dutiful men who risked their lives to stop the murder series wouldn't be right and he'd be condemned not only for sure but he'd also be perfectly fine with it!
When he stopped moving and gave a side glance, he still saw the men fall and heard them bump to the ground with heavy sounds, just as he looked away. The chief was barking orders now, telling his men to attack as a whole. Yeah, that would work much better. Especially since they still stood in the Kamiya Dojo's backyard, the great double door being the only thing to separate the parties from each other. They'd never get through it all at once, which gave him time to escape. As the group started rushing in, he stabbed the sakabato into the ground and threw a doryusen at them, the first men coming in being hit by smaller – and less small – rocks, knocking them out and blocking the entry. A large fog of dirt covered the line of sight, but Kenshin hadn't stopped to watch. By the time the fog settled, he was already gone, leaving the police men stupified.
"We've got to find him! Look everywhere!", the chief then barked and stepped aside so his men could swarm into the place.
Sanosuke stared at his friend as he chewed on his fish bone, thoughtful, which was a strange state of mind, at least for him. It wasn't normal for Kenshin to come visit him, usually it was the other way around. So seeing the rurouni sitting in this part of the rowhouses was a sight to behold. Of course Sanosuke had heard what had happened. Impossible not to with the rumours spreading like a wild fire. Soon even his neighbours had started talking and Sanosuke could vaguely guess who would be the next topic; that strange man with the spiky hair and the most noble taste in clothing.. well, most likely not the latter part, he thought sourly and shook his head free of the cynic thoughts to turn his attention back to Kenshin, who'd been sitting across the room, not saying a single word, obviously waiting for Sanosuke to start the conversation.
"So..", the ex-fighter-for-hire began, scratching his head, unsure how to continue. "Are they.. you know.. chasing you?"
"I take it, you didn't kill Kaoru?"
At that, Kenshin flinched almost unnoticable, but replied another 'yes'. Sanosuke sighed. He knew how his buddy felt. Having his most cherished person killed by someone and then being chased for a reason that bared any truth to it to begin with. He would help his friend, sure. The big question was only; how?
"Do you think, this one should turn himself in?", Kenshin suddenly asked, this time Sanosuke flinched and gave a 'tsk' to hide it.
"Don't even think about it, man. It wouldn't change their freaking minds. We also need to find Kaoru's murderer, right? And bring him to justice, right?"
"I know, I know. No killing and all. No use proving you innocent if you killed the culprit."
For a second Sano thought he saw a glint of amber in Kenshin's eyes, but then shoved it off as a trick of light. He decided to change the topic in any case.
"Where will we go now? I know a few places where we could.."
"This one..", Kenshin emphazised these two words. ".. will probably go into the woods until things have settled down.. that he will.."
"What makes you think I'll let you fight these bastards on your own, oy, Kenshin?"
"This one doesn't want to involve you into his problems. They will be after you, too."
"I don't give a... tsk, nevermind. I'll go with you, if you like it or not."
"Sano.." A warning tone. Sano smirked.
"Don't even try to change my mind."
Now Sanosuke was stupified and just stared at his friend, who sat there, his head lowered in true gratefulness, his thick red hair covering his eyes. An awkward silence settled in and once again Sano found himself scratching the back of his head in sheer lack of anything else to do.
"Let's go to Osaka. I know a man who could help us board a ship to Shanghai. Nobody will chase us there."
"Shanghai? Are you sure that's a good idea?"
"If they try to find us as we're on the ship, it will involve lots of innocents.."
"Don't give me that, man. The police won't shoot bystanders."
"Just us then?", Kenshin smiled at that. A slightly cynic smile that irritated Sanosuke.
"Oh, fine! Do you have a better idea?"
"This one supposes you don't want to do ten years of wandering?"
"Damn right, mister rurouni."
"We could visit Shishou.."
"Your master? Doubt he'll take us in with open arms."
"We need sake.."
"What, you're thirsty..? Oh.. wait.. I get it.. nevermind. You think that'll help?"
"If he can't, who can?"
"True. So, Kyoto it is?"
"Yes..", Kenshin said, taking a deep breath, then let it out slowly. "Again."
"We couldn't find him, chief. He's gone."
"As expected from hitokiri Battousai. If he's not here, he must be closeby. Take a group and scout the area. Don't go closer than neccessary."
He looked after the leaving men. Knowing Himura, he wouldn't give them as much as a scratch unless they tried to arrest him, given they even found him. If Himura decided not to be found, they would have a very hard time doing so. Thus the chief didn't put much hope into the group he sent out, but if he didn't do anything, his men would grow anxious. No use having nervous men around.
And also.. come to think of it.. How could a man as good as Himura fall low enough to kill a woman? And a child too? Of course, ten years ago, as hitokiri Battousai, he had killed lots of people. Thousands if the rumours were to be true. But these days, he'd been a peace loving person, at least on the outside. Had the lust for blood finally taken its toll? They said, once a hitokiri, always a hitokiri. Could a man really stop killing once they took their first life?
As the chief pondered over this, something jumped to his eyes. He went closer, knelt down and looked at the offending object on the ground. A white hair, very strange indeed. Too thick to be of an old man. Who was it from? Who had left it there?
He decided to follow this lead. Maybe he could prove Himura innocent after all..