RENEWING OF A DREAM
(GW/RK Crossover)

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DISCLAIMER:
I don’t own the beautiful bishounen here! Don’t sue me! Any comments, however, are appreciated! This is alternate timeline, you realize, for both series. It’s supposed to happen after the battle with Shishio but it doesn’t follow the anime after that. And there are warnings of OOCness! Not to mention, a lame attempt at light-hearted humor to balance the angst fics I’ve buried you guys under. Read at your own risk! ^_^
NOTE:

1. Grading system is based on the Canadian one, using percentages.

2. I’d add ‘Xena: the Warrior Princess’ as part of the title because it is where I got the idea of the ‘Chronos Stone’ but I only added that one tiny thing so I didn’t bother.

3. Okay, a year and a half have passed since the start of the war and it’s still going. We’ll see what happens next, ‘kay?

FIRST DRAFT: Sunday, November 28, 1999
LAST REVISED: Sunday, April 30, 2000

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CHAPTER 3: RETURN

Sagara Sanosuke sighed as he watched a beautiful redhead wash in a nearby stream. He longed to caress that slim form, taste that deliciously wet flesh. However, the redhead proved highly resistant to his charms.

He growled, thinking over the two days they had set aside for the fishing expedition. Sanosuke had high hopes of seducing the older man, relieved to be out of Kaoru’s eagle eyes. Unfortunately, Kenshin had suspected his intentions and fielded his moves expertly. On the bright side, they had managed to catch several fish, more than enough to last them for a month, salted and cured.

“Kenshin, are you really in love with Jo-chan?” he murmured to himself, turning away from temptation.

“Sano, you said something?” The soft voice at his side startled the tall man. “Kuso, Kenshin! Don’t startle me like that!” Sano moved to his feet, grabbing the buckets of fish. “Ready to go?”

Kenshin nodded. His wide violet eyes were filled with an old pain as they stared at the tall streetfighter. :Infatuation, Sano, nothing more,: the sakabatou-toting samurai thought. :Sometimes you need to be cruel to be kind.:

Yet, Kenshin’s own heart ached. The other man thought he didn’t return Sano’s feelings, but he did. The only thing that held Kenshin back was fear, fear of being an illusion, a temporary relief.

The walk home was made in uncharacteristic silence, each lost in their thoughts.

@~~~@

The sight that greeted them had both Kenshin and Sanosuke blinking in astonishment. Two unfamiliar boys, a few years beyond Yahiko’s age, were in the courtyard. A young man with a long braid was scrubbing the floors, alongside Yahiko. On the steps below, another young man, with disheveled dark hair, was sweeping, his movements brisk and efficient. All three looked up as they heard the footsteps.

“Kenshin!” exclaimed Yahiko, dropping the rag to run to the swordsman’s side. He peered into the buckets and grinned. “Sugoi! That’s a lot of fish!”

“Umm, Yahiko,” Kenshin tried to remind the boy of the two strangers. Sano, ever his blunt self, merely bopped Yahiko on the head casually. “Oi! Who’re they?”

“OW! Watch it, rooster-head!” snarled Yahiko, rubbing his sore head. He turned and gestured towards the two boys watching. “Kenshin, Sano, meet Duo and Heero. They’re from America.” The foreign country’s name sounded strange pronounced in the staccato syllabic nature of the Japanese language. “Duo, Heero, this is Himura Kenshin. The rooster-head’s Sagara Sanosuke.”

The long-haired boy smiled cheerfully and introduced himself. “Duo Maxwell, at your service. And this is Heero Yuy. Don’t mind him, he doesn’t like to talk.”

“Hn.”

Kenshin felt the two pairs of eyes, one violet, one blue, examine him minutely. The foreign-looking boy, Duo, was subtle, making it look like a normal, cursory glance. The other boy, the one with the distinct Japanese appearance, was more blatant, raking him over coldly, then switching his attention to Sanosuke. Moments later, he turned away and went back to his sweeping.

“Kenshin?” Kaoru’s voice echoed from within the house. Soon, the door slid open and she rushed down the steps to stop a few feet away from the swordsman. The redhead smiled gently into her worried dark eyes. Kamiya Kaoru would always hold a special place in his heart, even if not as a lover. She was the wind of gentility and peace that his tormented soul thirsted for.

“Sugoi!” she echoed Yahiko’s early statement. “That’s a lot of fish! Oh!” She turned, remembering her two guests. “Have you met Duo and Heero?”

“Hai,” Kenshin said. “Good morning, Maxwell-dono, Yuy-dono.”

The one called Duo snorted. “I’m not so old as to be called by my last name, Himura-san. Please, just call us Duo and Heero.”

“Very well. You can call me Kenshin.”

“Hn, the fish will rot if they stay in the sun any longer.” Everyone jumped, turning towards the Japanese pilot. He merely stared indifferently back at them.

Kaoru tittered nervously. “Oh, of course! Yahiko, Sano, you can help me cure those fish! Kenshin, Ayame-chan and Suzume-chan should be coming by soon.”

“Hai.” The rest of the group watched as their compatriots argued good-naturedly amongst each other, each carrying a bucket of fish, except for Sano, who still carried two.
Kenshin turned back to the newcomers.

“So you’re from America?” he asked gently, sitting down on the front steps.

Duo nodded his head. Satisfied that his work was done, he stood up and wiped his forehead. “The ojousan’s quite a taskmaster,” he remarked, plopping beside the swordsman.

Kenshin smiled. “Oh yes, Kaoru-dono’s of the philosophy that one should never have idle hands.”

“So you’re a swordsman,” Duo said casually, gesturing towards the handle of the katana at Kenshin’s side.

Both pilots noted the redhead’s instinctive stiffening. Heero, though still sweeping, kept a sharp ear cocked towards the conversation. He had the feeling that, of all of them, the redhead provided the most threat. There was something in that gentle mask that didn’t fool the pilot the least. :He’s like Duo,: Heero thought. :Harmless in the outside, but hiding something dark and sinister inside.:

“Well, not quite,” Kenshin replied, smiling ruefully. He slid out his sword, displaying the reversed edge. “This is called a sakabatou, a non-killing sword. It’s used only to protect. Much like the Kamiya-Kasshin-Ryo, protection without death.”

With a slight nod from the redhead, Duo took up the sword and held it reverently. “A non-killing sword,” he murmured, raising his head to meet Heero’s eyes. After a moment of heavy silence, he returned the sword, manic grin in his face once more. “Very nice!”

“Duo.” Heero had replaced the broom back in its place. He was standing in the middle of the courtyard, arms crossed at his chest.

Standing up, Duo bowed to the swordsman. “Heero and I thought that it would be a good idea to take a look around town. I hope you don’t mind.”

Kenshin smiled. “Not at all.” He watched the two boys walk casually out of the yard, the braided one chatting excitedly, while the other merely grunted a reply now and then.

:Those two are much more than they seem,: he thought.

@~~~@

Two hours of wandering yielded no work for the two young men. They finally stood in front of a small restaurant, tired and a bit frustrated.

“Man, who would have thought it would be so hard to find work in this town?” groaned Duo.

“Hn, baka. We’re strangers---of course, they won’t let us work in their places,” Heero answered, looking around at the myriad of shops.

“But, we have to find a way to thank Kaoru-san for everything! It’s not like they’re rich or anything!”

“I know that. Just be a little more patient, Duo.”

Duo slung an arm around his lover’s shoulders. They both froze as they saw people turning to stare at them. The braided boy immediately dropped his arm and smiled disarmingly at the bystanders.

“Duo, be more careful!”

“Sorry!”

Off they went, on another round of job-hunting.

@~~~@

It was dusk by the time they came back, still with no luck.

The Kenshin-gumi was waiting for them at the front porch. “Well, did you enjoy your day in town?” Kaoru asked, smiling from where she was sitting on the steps beside Kenshin.

Duo merely groaned dramatically as he slouched onto the lowest step. His partner snorted and sat beside him. “Well, it was an experience. One good thing, though, are these.” With that, he brandished several kunai daggers proudly.

“Wow, they’re just like Misao’s! Where did you get them?” Yahiko asked, grabbing one and studying it.

“Oh, here and there.” Duo winked at Heero. Neither felt the need to explain a now-traumatized bandit and a grateful old woman.

“Oooh, very nice,” Sanosuke complimented, testing the sharpness of the edges. “However, I don’t think kids like you should use such things.”

Kenshin nodded. “I have to agree with Sano.”

Duo grinned, before grabbing all the kunai back. He tucked them back into his borrowed clothes. Yahiko had been less than happy to lend them his clothes but they were the only ones that fit. “Don’t worry about that, minna. Me and Heero can take care of ourselves. Ne, Heero?” He nudged his silent companion, who merely grunted a reply.

The gang merely stared at each other, then shrugged. Sanosuke stretched his arms. “Man, I think I’m getting rusty! I haven’t had a good fight in ages!”

Heero turned his head from the dark sky to stare at Sanosuke. “Fight?” There was curiosity in his voice, alleviating the monotony. Duo was looking with interest at the tall man as well. “One on one?” Duo asked casually. “Bare hands?”

The streetfighter grinned. “Of course. But I’m not up to fighting with kids. You might get hurt.”

Duo cracked up. “Heero? Get hurt?” he gasped. “You have the wrong boy!”

Kaoru frowned at the cackling teen. “Sanosuke’s right. Fighting’s not for children. Even Yahiko stays away from fights.”

“I do not! But I do have a weapon.” He patted the wooden sword at his side.

Kenshin, for one, stayed silent, eyes wide as he watched the argument. The initial eagerness in Heero’s face had vanished and he turned away from the group. Duo had gotten into a good-natured argument with the others on the evils of fighting.

“Daijoubu, Heero-kun?” he asked gently. The blue eyes that stared back at him was incongruous with his Asian features, the mark of his half-breed ancestry. Deep, roiling emotion was shadowed in those blue eyes.

“Aa, daijoubu,” the boy replied.

“Are you guys hungry?” Kaoru asked. Both Heero and Duo nodded. “There are still some leftover fish and pickles in the kitchen. Enjoy yourself!” The two vanished into the house.

@~~~@

Kenshin didn’t know what had awakened him. Squinting, he looked at his open window and saw the deep darkness beyond, signaling the soon-coming dawn. He grabbed his sheathed sword and padded out of his room, the ‘swish’ of his door rather loud in the silence.

He could hear faint noises coming from the dojo. Warily, he moved towards the spacious room and was surprised to find the boy, Heero, sitting cross-legged before the shrine at the head of the dojo.

The boy had heard him come in, turning to nod a greeting. Kenshin was impressed. He had long since mastered the art of sneaking around in plain sight, yet this child had sensed him swiftly.

“Can’t sleep, Heero-kun?” The swordsman knelt beside the boy, his sword at his side.

“I was just thinking at how fortunate you are,” Heero replied. His tone was softer, more vulnerable. An age-old weariness that struck a chord in the twenty-eight-year-old warrior descended upon his slight figure.

“Fortunate in what way?”

“Peace. Everything is so peaceful here. People can walk to and from their houses, without fear of being caught in a battlefield. Children are playing outside, playing at being samurais, when they are lucky that they would never be called to war.”

Kenshin was silent. He remembered the dark, blood-stained days of the Bakumatsu, where his sword had eaten the souls of many. He remembered the cheerful innocence in young Iori, the baby that was one man’s hope of redemption. There would always be conflict ahead, fearful crises that would arise to menace him and his newfound family. But for now, there was only peace.

“Is America so full of war, Heero-kun? Is that why you had fled?”

There was a harsh bark of laughter, the first Kenshin had ever heard from the fifteen-year-old. “Our arrival in Japan was an----accident. But yes, where we came from is at war.”

:Ah, souka. Kindred spirits, indeed.: “Wars do end, Heero-kun.”

“I hope so.”