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

 "Um, Misao?" She looked up happily. "I was wondering if you'd like to, maybe... well, I was thinking of eating out tonight 'cause my family's gonna be busy, so, would you like to come with me?"

Misao beamed. "I'd love to!" Enishi thought he'd died and gone to heaven. "But I've got dance practice tonight, then I have to meet with my math tutor so I can get caught up. I've haven't spent as much time on school work since Chiho got sick. You should visit her soon!" Misao suggested to the crushed Enishi. "She misses all her friends."

"Uh, okay..." Enishi muttered. "Well, bye." He smiled and waved over his shoulder at Misao as Aoshi and Gisuke returned. As he walked off he heard Aoshi asked Miso a question.

"What's got him down?" The question didn't sound as friendly as it could have.

"Oh, he invited me to dinner, but we've got to study."

'"We've!?"' Enishi thought furiously. 'We? Is Aoshi her tutor!?'

"Oh, shoot. I nearly forgot! Misao, your teacher gave me a mock-test for Chiho. Don't let me forget to give it to you tonight."


Enishi felt himself go stiff with rage. 'Aoshi's got Misao in the palm of his hand! This is getting out of control! Misao's got to realize what a jerk that Aoshi is before she turns into him! I couldn't stand seeing her pretty face never smile again!'


The night was cold and damp. The sky was hidden by clouds and the smell of rain hung in the air. In the Yakihata parking lot only a few cars remained, sparkling with the crisp feel of winter and a few drops of rain, quickly turning into ice.

Aoshi stood in the parking lot, lounging against his car door. His breath hung on the air in a cloud around his face. He checked his watch quickly and sighed. 'Late, as usual. Oh well.' When he looked back up he saw a figure running across the courtyard towards him. The person was tall and wore light pants with darker stripes down the sides. Glasses glinted in the obnoxious glow of the lights. Aoshi narrowed his eyes.

'Yukishiro Enishi. What's he doing here.'

As he approached Aoshi could make out Enishi's face. His mouth was tight at the corners, and his eyebrows tipped down. "What's up, Enishi-kun?" Aoshi said politely as he slowed to a halt a few meters from his car.

"Nothin'. Just out jogging," Enishi replied with the same stiff formality. He jerked his chin at the car behind Aoshi. "That yours?"

Aoshi glaned over his shoulder and replied, "No, I just stand here and pretend it's mine." He waited for Enishi to get the joke, then nodded curtly. "Yeah."

"Did'ya buy it yourself? I heard they were pretty expensive."

"Yeah, it was. Took me nearly three years to save for it."

Enishi fell silent. Aoshi finally stood away from the car and began to strip off his gloves. Enishi unzipped his jacket and tossed it on the ground, dropping his scarf carelessly on top of it. Aoshi shrugged his coat off and lay it over the car's hood. Both boys faced each other in loose jeans and tight T-shirts. Enishi popped his knuckles and balled his hands into fists.

"Why are you so keen on beating me up?" Aoshi asked casually.

"You've got something I want," Enishi replied in a snarl.

"I figured that from the beginning. Misao?"

Enishi nodded and lunged at Aoshi. The older boy stepped to one side and brought his knee up into Enishi's gut. He was surprised when Enishi merely grunted and pivoted with the blow to face Aoshi again. The series of punches he threw had similer effects.

'This is pointless!' Aoshi thought angrily as he dodged Enishi's punches and kickes. 'Enishi trained in hand-to-hand combat, and I need a bokken to fight. Without my weapon I'm useless. But...'

He recalled the moment behind the school, when he had first seen Misao. He had defeated six men with no weapon, why did he need one now?

'I just have to tap into that part of me that remembers kenpo!' Enishi fell back for a moment, cheast heaving with Aoshi's. Their breath came in painful gasps as their lungs were seared with the freezing air. Aoshi pulled himself out of stance and closed his eyes. He exhaled in a puff of steam and turned his eyes inward.

He felt himself falling. He saw years flash before his eyes like cells of a movie. In moment he was standing in a hall filled with black-clad boys older than him. A young man stood before him and demonstrated a punch, then a kick. More years flashed by, this time going forward, and he saw the black-haired, blue-eyed boy defeat kids twice his size. His muscles slowly began to remember their old patterns and just before he opened his eyes he saw a little girl with blue eyes watching him in wonder from the side of the room.

He opened his eyes in time to see Enishi lunge at him. He blocked the bunch deftly and threw his entire body into a punch to his left shoulder. Enishi staggered back, his left arm cradeled briefly by his right. Both boys gritted their teeth and waited for the other to make a move.

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