The Circle Game; A Rurouni Kenshin Fanfic
by Kitty Woolfson
First draft of The Circle Game, 5/2000.

"Aoshi-kun, were you planning on coming to club tonight?" Gisuke asked. He pushed his cowlick out of his eyes and looked up at his friend expectantly. "I’ll go if you go, but if you can’t make it, I’ll just stay home."Aoshi nodded. He set his bag under his desk as he said, "Yeah sure. I’ll go. Just don’t forget; you stay until I leave."

"Right, right," Gisuke said amiably, waving the reminder away. Aoshi shook his head. Gisuke was such a flake. Sort of like that girl Chiho. And both of them had friends that tried in vain to help them change their bad habits.‘Strange coincedence,’ Aoshi thought carefully before the enterance of the teacher interrupted him. He pushed his day dreams to the side and focused on the school day ahead.The weather and had turned worse by the time school was out. It was raining big, fat drops that filled the gutters with rain in minutes. A thin mist clung to the tops of the surrounding buildings and drifted low over the streets.

"Such crummy weather," Misao said as she passed a window. The rain ran out of the gutters and splashed onto the sidewalk two stories below. "And I was going to walk home, too!"She sighed and turned away. The girls’ locker room was empty except for her and two girls in the back that were trying to figure out whose uniform was whose. Misao pulled on her leotard and soft dance shoes, then slipped short, baggy shorts on over her tights.She shouldered her dance bag and trotted down to the gymnastics gym. As she passed the wrestling hall she heard the loud smacking of shinai.

‘Oh! The kendo club! I’d forgotten they practice in here!’ Misao paused at the doorway and glanced in. Rows of boys and girls lined up facing one another with hakamo, gi, and shiani. A young man at the end of the row closest to the door was speaking to the club members as they practiced."Fifty strokes!" He shouted firmly. "Go!" Loud voices called out the numbers as they swung at the air. The boy turned around and saw Misao in the door.‘It’s that boy again!’ She thought with a gasp. She bowed quickly and scurried off.

Aoshi watched the girl go. Had she been watching him? A small warm feeling wormed its was into his chest. He turned quickly to Gisuke and whispered to him, "I’ll be right back. This shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.""Right," Gisuke nodded. His cowlick stood up straight on his head with sweat.Aoshi followed the sounds of the girl’s footsteps down the hall to the gymnastics gym. He saw her take an empty place in a circle of girls and begin to contort her body with stretches. A chart on the wall outside the door listed when which groups used the gym.‘The dance club,’ Aoshi read. ‘They get out just thirty minutes after kendo club. I can’t belive I never noticed that before!’

He turned away and hurried back to his own club before the young teacher noticed him hanging around. ‘The last thing I need is an over-protective femi-nazi accusing me of being sick-minded,’ he thought with a small mental grin.

Misao zipped her jacket shut and settled her bag over her shoulder. Shutting the door behind her, she headed down the that led to the back of the school. She wove around garbage cans, old school equipment and blocks of concrete from the original building. The only illumination in the alley was from an obnoxious orange-tinted street light that hung high above her head. Clusters of moths fluttered in a panic around its light like ghosts at the edge of heaven.The sounds Misao made echoed down the narrow alley. The scuff of her large, loose boots, the swish of the fabric, the scrape of her bag against her coat, the sound of her breathing. She took a deep breath of the cool, fresh night air and held it. The wind smelled like rain, flowers and a faint hint of dust.

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