AUTHOR'S NOTES: Okay, so the title of this fic is not so great, but I can't think of a good one, so this will stay ^^. Anyhoo, if most of you have read my Saitou/Tokio fic, "The Raven and the Wolf", then you should know that Tokio's character is a former hitokiri. So, still stuck with this idea, I had the mood to write a new fic with her in it. I was rewatching the long battle between Shishio and Kenshin for the millionth time and got this idea: what if, after Saitou's fall, Tokio stepped into the fight? What if she was able to successfully kill Shishio without even having Kenshin to reawaken and intervene? Well, here is this attempt at trying to create that thought...R&R!
DISCLAIMERS: Of course I don't own Rurouni Kenshin. If I did, then I wouldn't be here writing this pathetically lame fic ^^.
Rurouni Kenshin ~ Changing Roles
He couldn't believe it. First Kenshin, then Saitou. They were defeated so easily, almost too easily...
Sagara Sanosuke clenched his fists angrily. Damn you, Kenshin! You promised Jou-chan... The fate of Japan was now resting on his shoulders. He knew he didn't have a chance, but...he had to try. He had to try for everybody's sake.
"SHUT UP!!!" he bellowed out, ceasing Shishio Makoto's mocking laughter that was ringing in his ears.
The man looked at Sanosuke as if he was a nobody. The look made him even angrier. Sure, he was a fighter not up to Kenshin or Saitou's caliber, but he was still an opponent to be reckoned with.
"Do you really think you can beat me, rooster head?" Shishio asked, unconcerned. "Go home. This fight is over."
"This fight is far from over," a voice called out of nowhere.
Everybody looked around in confusion, trying to find out where the voice was coming from.
"Who's there?!?" Houji demanded.
"Someone that you wouldn't know," the voice replied, "yet we've crossed paths countless of times before."
Sanosuke turned around, startled to see a ninja behind him. He, or rather she as Sanosuke looked more closely, was clad in black. A half mask hid her face and her midnight hair was tied in a ponytail. Strapped on her side was the traditional dai-sho of wakizashi and katana. The hilt of each weapon was ornamented in the coils of a silver dragon gleaming brightly in the sun. Everything about the ninja-ko seemed ordinary except her eyes. Something about the ninja-ko's eyes made her more than just a typical ninja-ko.
Shishio smiled, completely unconcerned. "Oh? I suppose that you're one of those people that the government sent to kill me? I'm impressed that you were able to pass through unharmed."
"Hmph," the woman said, drawing her katana from its sheath. "Your arrogance is going to prove your downside if you treat strangers like they're nothing. My orders don't come from the Meiji government but they do have the same agenda."
Instinctively, Sanosuke stepped aside, the muscles in his arms loosening. Who is this chick?
"Oh? We'll see if we can prove your words," Shishio said and launched a Homura Dama attack.
The flames engulfed the ninja-ko's body. Houji watched in excitement. "A clean Homura Dama! Where has your courage gone now?"
Sanosuke's eyes narrowed. No, you idiot. She's still alive.
Indeed, the ninja-ko made a clean block much to everyone's surprise. Her blade had caught on fire as their blades met, but none of the flames nor his prized sword struck flesh. Her eyes narrowed in pleasure.
"Oh ho, I forgot to tell you one thing, Shishio," she said. "Like you, an attack that I've seen once before won't work against me."
Shishio uttered a low growl.
He tried to follow up his attack with a horizontal slash, but she nimbly leaped away behind him. He turned around to face her, his eyes narrowing in anger. Has she been watching this fight until now? The woman leaped off the roof, hurling her katana at him. He turned the sword aside with his own but was shocked to see his own blood spray in the air. He gritted his teeth in pain and tried to back thrust the ninja-ko behind him. However, she easily avoided the thrust and did a backwards flip, her foot connecting with the bottom of his chin that sent him staggering backwards. She grabbed her katana on the floor and landed on her feet with both wakizashi and katana in her hands.
The others watched in shock as Shishio glared at the ninja-ko, clutching at the pain in his chest.
She injured him... Sanosuke thought. Not even Kenshin...
Not even Battousai nor Saitou Hajime could land a blow on Shishio-sama, Houji thought along the same lines.
Yumi glanced down at her watch. Ten minutes, fifteen seconds...Shishio-sama...
"What's wrong? Tired already?" the woman taunted.
Shishio stood up straight as the pain subsided. He glanced down at his bloodied bandages. It's just a light scratch...he realized. However, the impact felt that it was much worse. He looked closely at the woman's stance. Her stance...it's nothing like I've seen. It looks familiar to the ni-kodaichi, but it's not...Masaka?
"You're from the Niten-Itto School," he said after a few moments. "Aren't you?"
"Hmm...not that many know that I am," the ninja-ko replied in mild shock. "You're one of the few."
"The Niten-Itto School. What's that?" Sanosuke asked.
"I remember reading about it....The Niten-Itto School was a legendary school that died out at the start of the Bakumatsu," Yumi responded. "Most say that it didn't even exist."
"It's the sister school of the Hiten Mitsurugi," Shishio added. "While the Hiten Mitsurugi specializes in godlike speed and the mastery of battoujutsu, the Niten-Itto specializes in a speed used to elude their opponents and the two handed technique of katana and wakizashi." He allowed himself a small smile. "Am I accurate?"
"So you are," the woman said. "You're the second to know. The one who knew before you is the one that you just struck unconscious."
Unconscious? Sanosuke thought, surprised.
"I've underestimated you then," Shishio said. "So I guess we should go to round two, then."
"Fine by me," the ninja-ko replied.
The two opponents stood at a standstill for a moment as time narrowed the fight to just the two of them. Sanosuke didn't even dare blink, not wanting to miss a single move. This chick's good, real good. But who is she? He thought back to the previous conversation.
The one who knew before you is the one that you just struck unconscious.
Chotto, Saitou knows her??
"Here I come," the ninja-ko said and charged forward.
Shishio stayed in his position, anticipating for her attack. The Niten-Itto School was not something that he had ever gone against, but Shishio knew that every person had to have techniques that they favored. His eyes still focused, waiting for the ninja-ko to use one of the school's techniques. Opening! He cut horizontally, taking the ninja-ko by surprise. She barely avoided his blow by a hair's breath and blocked his next attack. Shishio continued to pummel his opponent with all the attacks that he knew, but the ninja-ko perfectly evaded and blocked. Shishio smiled inwardly to himself, chuckling. She's in my reach now.
So focused on her parries, the woman almost missed the sight of Shishio's gauntlet sliding across his sword. Her eyes widened in shock and tried to react when Shishio's second secret sword revealed itself.
No! Sanosuke thought. The woman's figure slid across the floor, but she was still standing with her arms covering her face. The smoke had cleared soon afterwards. The ninja-ko slowly opened her eyes and lowered her arms. Her weapons were scattered halfway across from each other. Shishio, on the other hand, smirked.
"Oh? You're the first to survive the Guren Kaina," he commented with mild amusement.
She took on a full blast of the Guren Kaina, which defeated both Battousai and Saitou Hajime, Houji thought in horror. Yet, instead of dying, she still survived. Who in the world is this woman?!?
"Hmph. Not bad," the woman replied as she flipped back her ponytail into place. Her half mask fell to the ground in two pieces.
"Whoa..." Sanosuke couldn't help but murmur in awe.
"Oh? So my assailant is a woman who hides her beauty behind a mask," Shishio complimented.
Yumi eyed the woman cautiously, eyes widening in surprise. I remember her from somewhere...
"Looks can be deceiving, can't they," the woman replied, smiling. "But now that you have seen my face," she fell into a martial arts stance, "I really can't let you live now."
"If it wasn't for your stubbornness, then I'd offer you to join me," Shishio said.
"I would have refused anyway," the woman replied. "Unlike you, I don't intend on taking over Japan. I value life as it is."
I could have sworn I've seen her somewhere... Yumi thought deeply. She glanced down at her watch. Oh no!
"Shishio-sama!" she shouted.
The two opponents ignored their audience and continued to attack. Yumi ran over to Houji, grabbing the sleeve of his coat.
"You have to stop them!" she shouted to him.
"Nani?" Houji asked in surprise.
"Don't you remember? The majority of Shishio-sama's sweat glands were destroyed when he was burned alive! He had a temperature higher than any normal person!" Yumi explained frantically.
Houji's eyes widened in shock. He began to remember Shishio's words to him when he was first initiated. Smoldering heat from hell...
"Shishio-sama," he whispered as he turned to look back at the fight.
"From what the doctors say, he can only fight at full strength for only fifteen minutes! It's past his time limit now!" she continued.
Houji gritted his teeth in a mixture of frustration and fear. His right hand clenched tightly onto the shotgun hidden in his coat. So that's why...that's why you created the Juppon Gatana despite having such great strength!!
Meanwhile, Sanosuke continued to watch the fight, his eyes barely keeping up with their speed. Geez! Even without her weapons, she's still...His thoughts were cut short when he felt a familiar ki behind him. Startled, he turned around.
"Shinomori Aoshi!" he exclaimed.
Aoshi glanced at the fight for a moment, then at Saitou and Kenshin's still bodies, then back at Sanosuke. "What happened?"
"Well, after beating Soujirou, me an' Kenshin were led up here to fight Shishio. Most of the time, Kenshin was overwhelmed by Shishio's attacks and got knocked out by an explosion from Shishio's gauntlet. Then Saitou came in, surprising Shishio, but it didn't work. With the Gatotsu foiled, he was taken down by the same attack that took down Kenshin. And then...well, this chick came along..." Sanosuke explained in a nutshell.
"How long have they been fighting like this?" Aoshi asked as the two looked back at the fight.
"For a while, I guess," Sanosuke replied. "But the chick's got an advantage over Shishio. She seems to know his every move."
"What's wrong? You seem to be avoiding my every move!" Shishio shouted. "Attack me!"
"Hmph," the woman grunted in reply, ducking beneath Shishio's sword arm. "You're too confident in your strength!"
"We'll see about tha---"
Time seemed to stop as he felt the familiar feeling of sword plunging itself into flesh. Somehow, the woman managed to grab her katana and thrust it into Shishio's abdomen. A part of the blade crept out on the other side of his body.
"Ga...Gatotsu..." Shishio stammered.
The woman smiled. "What? You think that I would use the Niten-Itto's techniques against you? It's natural for anybody to think that, but that is the weak point of every swordsmen, including yourself."
She twisted her katana to the side, creating the Hirazuki and pushing her blade free. Blood sprayed out from the wound and continued to pour out as Shishio fell to the ground. The woman stood up, looking down at him.
"You were right that the Niten-Itto School specializes in the mastery of a speed that eludes their opponents and the specialization of the two hand technique of wakizashi and katana. However, that's not our strength," she explained. "The school's strength is using techniques that aren't part of the Niten-Itto style. Even though you parried the Zero Gatotsu from Saitou, you didn't expect one coming from me which is why I was able to use it effectively."
"Who...are you?" Shishio asked.
"I was once a hitokiri like yourself during the earlier stages of the Bakumatsu no Doran," she replied, smiling cruelly at him. "One of two whose identity was never discovered and followed the rule of Aku. Soku. Zan."
Shishio's eyes widened in realization. "Hito...kiri...Kae...."
He would never finish his words; the woman's identity still remained secret. The ninja-ko wiped off the blood on her katana in one swift move and sheathed it back into place. Yumi, her eyes clouded with tears, dropped her watch. It clattered on the stone tile floor, never to be picked up again.
"YOU!" Houji shouted, revealing his shotgun and aiming it at the woman. She quickly reacted by throwing a kunai hidden in her sleeve at the barrel, jamming it shut. Houji immediately dropped the weapon, trembling in fear.
"Those tricks won't work on me," she said. "And don't blame me or the Meiji government for his death. He should have died when he was burned alive."
"He has had a careful eye kept on him since his miraculously ten years ago. It was a grave mistake that the current Meiji government hired him in the first place. Why did you think that it was so easy for you to gain all those weapons? Was it because you had a good underground deal? Ie, it was because we LET him, just to see what you all would do with it. The Riskbreakers society doesn't let anyone who threatens Japan's existence alive," she interrupted. "Just accept the fact that Shishio Makoto is dead and will never rise again."
"I won't....I CAN'T ACCEPT THAT!!!" Houji shouted and ran out towards the entrance.
Aoshi and Sanosuke were about to give chase, but the ninja-ko stopped them.
"Let him go. He's not a threat." She went over to pick up her wakizashi. "Oi, rooster head," she tossed Sanosuke a small vial of liquid.
"What's this?" he asked.
"Medicine," she replied. "Give that to Himura-san. That should wake him up."
"...Wake him up?" Sanosuke muttered.
"So you knew that they were only unconscious?" Aoshi asked, surprising Sanosuke.
"NANI?!?" he exclaimed.
The woman smiled warmly at Aoshi and nodded. "An explosion like that can only give somebody a concussion, not kill them."
"So Kenshin's alive???" Sanosuke shouted with hope glittering in his eyes.
"Like I said, give that medicine to him. It'll wake him up."
The woman glanced over at Yumi who had knelt down beside Shishio's body, cradling his head in her lap. The woman walked over to her, kneeling down beside her.
"You knew that this was going to happen eventually," she said softly to Yumi.
Yumi sullenly nodded, letting her tears fall. "But why? I don't understand..."
"I know you tried to hide him from us, but you knew that this was going to happen.
"Tokio-san...would you kill your husband if you were ordered by them?"
"......Hai, I would, but then I'd kill myself afterwards," Tokio replied after pondering the question for a while. She then left Yumi alone and walked over to Saitou, gently lifting him up.
He stirred in her arms, muttering, "I thought I told you to stay at home."
Tokio chuckled. "If I did, then you wouldn't come back home, anata."
Aoshi sharply turned his head at hearing this. Sometimes, he wished that his ears weren't so good at hearing. In the meantime, Kenshin too was starting to reawaken after Sanosuke had given him the medicine.
"Oi, Kenshin," Sanosuke prodded.
"...Sano?" Kenshin asked, his eyes rolling back into place. "W...what happened?"
"The woman over there fought against Shishio and killed him," Aoshi replied, still looking suspiciously in Tokio and Saitou's direction.
"Nani de gozaru?" Kenshin asked in amazement as he sat up. He followed Aoshi's gaze to Saitou and Tokio.
"Yeah, she whooped his ass," Sanosuke added. "Barely got a scratch on her."
"Where's Tetsuko and the boy?" Saitou asked, able to walk without her support.
"They're at my sister's," Tokio replied. "I thought that it might be nice to finally see her after so long. And since they lived in Kyoto, I thought it might be nice to check on you, anata."
"Hn." Saitou grunted, sighing in defeat. "You can't stay in one place, can you?"
"Of course not, dear," Tokio replied with a charming smile on her face.
MORE AUTHORESS NOTES!
Okay, it does sound kinda weird for Tokio to be so strong. But, hey, since she's a character that I can play with, I made her this way so booyaka =P. I like to think of her as a warrior who learns from trial and error to get stronger, not only sly. This fic is not, in any way, to bash Shishio but an idea that needed to be let out of my head before it'll haunt me for the rest of my writings. Anyhoo, please R&R! I love to hear some feedback! ^^