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New Years Wishs
Part 1

Kamiya Kaoru stood on the dojo porch, pacing back and forth with excitement. She was mumbling under her breath about all the things that needed to be done, or things that they would all do once everyone arrived. It was only 10:00 in the morning, but she was already about to burst.

Occasionally she would glance out into the yard to make sure Yahiko was still practicing. He would in turn glare back at her and mutter under his breath about how he had to practice swinging on such a day... New Year's Eve, of ALL days! Finally, fed up with what he was doing, and tired of Kaoru not doing anything, he decided to ask her if he could stop and get ready for the festivities.

"Hey, UGLY!"

"YAHIKO!!" Kaoru stopped in mid-pacing and glared. "What did you just call me?!

"Can I stop practice now?! I've been at it for two hours already!"

Kaoru frowned. "Twenty five more swings for calling me ugly! And then you can stop and go take a bath!"

Yahiko grumbled, but hurriedly made twenty five more swings and shouldered his wooden sword. "Alright! I'm done!"

Kaoru had already resumed her pacing, so she simply waved towards him and ignored him as he ran off for the bath house.

"You certainly are excited, Miss Kaoru."

Kaoru snapped out of her thoughts and turned, coming face to face with Himura Kenshin. "I AM excited! We'll all be together for this! I sent out invitations a week ago, and I really want everyone to come! It's going to be so much fun, Kenshin!"

He smiled at the brightness in her eyes. "Yes, I'm sure it will be. By the way, you never told me who all you invited, Miss Kaoru."

"Ah ha, because...It's a surprise!" she giggled.

"Oh?" Kenshin didn't lose his good-nature. He could already guess that Kaoru's list of guests for the New Year's party included Sanosuke and Megumi, Dr. Genzei and his granddaughters, Misao and Aoshi, and Tae and Tsubame from the Akebeko. "Well, I'm sure everything will be fine. You'd best go get ready. Your guests will be here soon, don't you think?"

Kaoru nodded. "Yes, I'm sure they will be! Yahiko's taking a bath right now, but I had one last night. I'll go change my kimono though! I bought a new one just for New Year's!" She turned and hurried towards her room. Skidding to a stop in front of the door, she turned back to Kenshin. "Don't you think you should change too?"

Kenshin smiled. "I'll find something to wear." He watched as Kaoru's door slid shut. He hadn't celebrated New Years in a while. Not while he was a rurouni, at any rate. It came, it went...he hardly ever kept track of the years going by. But now, since he was officially a member of the Kamiya dojo, he knew he'd have to start keeping track of the time. He stepped inside his quarters, debating what to wear. He finally decided the blue gi he'd recently bought would be fine. Besides, it was only New Years. And everyone expected him to wear something open and loose.

Three hours later, there was a knock on the dojo door. Kaoru was the first to skid to a halt in front of it. She gracefully smoothed her silver kimono out before opening the gate. "Megumi-San! Sanosuke!"

Megumi smiled and stepped inside the dojo, her normal medical smock replaced by a long, flowing light pink kimono with embroidered red flowers over it. "Kaoru, I must admit, you look very nice! Silver is such a pretty color on you, especially with the blue flowers on the kimono."

Kaoru blushed at having received ANY sort of compliment from Megumi. "Thank you...You look very nice too, Miss Megumi!"

"Hey, want about me?" Sano grinned from behind Megumi.

"You didn't change clothes from your normal attire, so I don't see why YOU should get any praise or compliment." Megumi snapped.

Sano rolled his eyes. "It's just New Years, for crying out loud. What? If I wear nice clothes I'm supposed to have good luck or something stupid?"

"HA!" Everyone turned to see Yahiko snickering on the dojo porch. "Sanosuke's never had any good luck in his life, so he might as well not bother trying on New Years!"

"Hey punk, did Jou-Chan force you to dress up? I didn't know you could wear nice clothes."

Yahiko nearly exploded. "At least I wear 'em better then YOU could!"

"WHAT WAS THAT?" Sano started to stalk across the yard, but he suddenly stopped before he reached Yahiko. "Damn that lightening speed of yours." he muttered.

Kenshin smiled up at him. "There's no reason for you to beat up on Yahiko today."

"Aw, KENSHIN!" Yahiko whined. "Did you have to step in the middle of this?! I could have taken Sanosuke out with one blow of the Kamiya Kasshin style...mixed with a little Hiten Mitsurugi!"

"Yea, a twelve year old punk like you? Get real!" Sano growled.

"Both of you!" Kaoru felt her face grow red. "Stop this right now! It's New Years, and I won't have any fights here for the next two days during the festivities!"

"I agree." Megumi stood taller and proper, glaring particularly at Sanosuke. "Calm down and get over it."

A second knock at the gate made everyone turn and forget the small arguement. Kaoru hurried back over. "Oh! Dr. Genzei! And Ayame and Suzume! Come in!"

"Well! It certainly was nice of you to invite us over for New Years Eve!" Dr. Genzei beamed. Both girls bounced up and down and giggled.

"Uncle Kenny! Are you going to watch the fireworks with us?"

Kenshin smiled happily. "I guess I will, since you both want me to!"

"YAY!" Both girls tugged on his arms and giggled some more.

Kaoru smiled at Megumi and Dr. Genzei. "Hopefully the other guests will be here before nightfall." She dropped her voice to a whisper. "I haven't told Kenshin who all I invited. I'm sure he's guessed all of you, but I've got a few surprises for him!"

"Oh?" Megumi looked interested. "Who else did you invite?"

Kaoru smiled slyly. "Oh, just some other friends, to liven up the party of course!"

"Miss Kaoru, what are you whispering about?" Kenshin smirked at her.

"Nothing! I just told Megumi was hoped the others would arrive by nightfall!"

"Well, we're here!" Tae and Tsubame appeared at the gate and stepped inside. "I decided to close the Akabeko early." Tae smiled. "Besides, we didn't have many guests!"

Everyone said their rounds of 'hellos' - well, except Sano (who asked Tae if she'd erase his bill in New Years generousity, to which Tae said a flat NO) and Yahiko, (who blushed and smiled at Tsubame, who shyly returned the attention).

The rest of the afternoon was passed in general conversation, the girls on one side of the yard talking about kimonos and such, and the men on the other side watching Kenshin play with Ayame and Suzame.

The sun was low in the sky when another knock was heard on the door. Kenshin stood up and headed for it. "I'll get it, Miss Kaoru. Don't bother to get up."

Kaoru's face paled. "I hope it's Aoshi and Misao..." she murmured.

Her face regained its color when Misao's cheerful voice filled the yard. "HIMURA!" she hugged him tightly and then bounded towards Kaoru, hugging her. "Miss Kaoru!! Thank you for inviting us! Lord Aoshi and I didn't have any plans at all!" Kaoru was surprised to see the young ninja wearing a pretty aquamarine kimono. It was definitely different from her normal ninja outfit.

Aoshi stood silently by the gate, his eyes absorbing the dojo yard, dressed in a nice suit.

"We're glad you came, Aoshi." Kenshin smiled.

"Hmm. Like Misao already said, thank you for inviting us." Aoshi's voice hinted no emotion. "We saw someone else on the way over. He should be directly behind us."

Kaoru's face paled again.

There was another knock on the dojo gate - this one much louder and obnoxious then any of the previous. Kenshin's eyes narrowed. "Miss Kaoru, who all DID you invite?"

"Open the damn gate, Kenshin!" the voice on the other side snapped.

"KAORU..." Kenshin's voice was at a warning level.

"Oh, fine! I'll get it!" Kaoru darted past him and opened the gate. "Welcome, Seijuro Hiko! I'm so glad you got my invitation..."

"It was nice of you to invite me. I don't get out much these days." Seijuro Hiko stepped inside the dojo, his long cape flying out behind him.

"That's the damn truth." Kenshin muttered. "I suppose Miss Kaoru invited you, did she?"

"What was that?" Hiko snarled. "If she was nice enough to invite me, then you should be nice enough to accept me for New Years! Besides, I bought all the sake!"

"And you're going to SHARE?" Kenshin asked sarcastically.

His response was getting knocked across the yard. Sanosuke caught him. Kenshin glared at Hiko. "That wasn't very nice of you."

"Then we're even."

"I can't believe I have to spend New Years Eve with the most arrogant ass in Japan."

"I can't believe I'm going to have to put up with the stupidest pupil in all of Japan."

"I can't believe you came off your Almighty Mountain to mingle with normal people."

"I'll have you know-"

"Both of you, hush!" Kaoru groaned. "You're as bad as Yahiko and Sanosuke, you know!"

Hiko forced a smile. "I suppose I'll try to get along with him for the next day or so."

"Hmph. We'll see." Kenshin twitched.

The sun sank beneath the horizon and twilight hit - rather suddenly. Kenshin's attention instantly switched from Hiko to something, or someone, beyond the dojo gate. "Someone's coming..."

Everyone in the dojo yard blinked and waited. A hard knock hit the gate. Kaoru hurried over, smiling. "There's only one more guest, and it MUST be..." she swung the door open. "Welcome..."

"Hmmm...Spending New Years with Battousai and all of you...At least it'll prove more interesting then staying at home tonight. Sorry we're late. I had some paperwork to finish."

Kenshin almost exploded. "KAORU! I need to talk to you inside...NOW!"

Kaoru blushed. "I'll be right back everyone..." She allowed Kenshin to drag her inside.

He slammed the door shut. "Kaoru..."

"Now Kenshin, try to get along with everyone! This is a fun time of year! No one's going to try and kill you!"

"I can deal with Hiko." There was a long pause. "Maybe." He drew a deep breath. "But SAITOH?! Kaoru, what were you THINKING?!"

"Oh, I invited his wife too! Tokio wanted to come along! Besides, she might can keep him in line." Kaoru pouted. "Kenshin, we all saved Japan together...I thought getting together for New Years would be a nice reunion. Saitoh isn't going to try and kill you."

Kenshin groaned. She had a point. They had all saved Japan together, and that did bring them closer...well, as close as he WANTED to get to the Wolf of Mibu, at any rate. Which, for Kenshin, was NOT very close.

Kaoru smiled. "Come on, Kenshin. The fireworks are going to start in a couple of hours and so is the parade! Let's go...Everyone's waiting for us."

Kenshin smiled back, weakly. "Well, alright...I'll TRY. Since you wanted this party so badly, Miss Kaoru." He inwardly twitched as she pulled him back outside to the cluster of guests...

~*~

The group soon found themselves walking through downtown Tokyo towards the river. Kaoru, Misao, Tae and Megumi were all talking excitedly - and had all accepted Tokio into their conversation, who seemed happy to talk to some girls for a change. Yahiko and Tsubame trailed behind the entire group, trying not to look at each other and both WANTING to look at the other. Dr. Genzei and his two granddaughters bounced in front of the group, pointing out all the colors in passing parades and other groups. Sanosuke, Kenshin, Aoshi, and Saitoh all seemed to cluster together - with Kenshin in the middle. Hiko walked by himself.

"So, this was all Jou-Chan's idea, was it?"

"Moron. Of course it was."

"Would you stop exhaling on ME?" Kenshin snapped.

"Oh, does it annoy you?" Saitoh grinned wolfishly.

"And stop calling me a moron!"

"Moron....."

"I HEARD THAT." Tokio turned and glared at her husband. "Can you be nice for ONE evening?"

Saitoh blinked. "I haven't really DONE anything......yet....."

"Don't you make me come over there!" she replied. The girls giggled. Saitoh grumbled, but he hushed and tossed the cigarette onto the road. Sanosuke snickered, and Kenshin forced back a smile. Aoshi said nothing.

Kaoru smiled at Tokio. "I'm so happy to finally meet you. I had no idea Saitoh was married...until I got ready to send the inviations out."

"Yea, when I found out," Misao bubbled, "I was SO shocked. I couldn't IMAGINE a guy like Saitoh being married and all!"

Tokio smirked. "Well, I can say...it takes a LOT to control THAT man."

"No one controls the Wolf of-"

"SHUT UP." Tokio glared back at him once more.

"Mibu." he finished coolly.

Tokio groaned and shook her head. Megumi smiled at her. "It must be like trying to put up with a lug like Sano."

"At least Kenshin's nice." Misao pouted. "He's the perfect man when it comes to a husband."

"I can see that." Tokio mused. "He's a lot quieter then my husband is, that's for sure!"

"Yea, well he's still a baka." Hiko appeared behind the girls, who had distanced themselves from the boys a bit.

Kaoru gasped. "Hiko-San! I thought you were with the men!"

"I was, but they're getting boring. I thought I'd be nice and walk with you ladies."

"Now, that's a gentleman!" Tokio winked.

"I heard that, Tokio."

"Yea? Well that was a lame comeback, and you know it, because YOU never do stuff like that!" she sang out over her shoulder.

"If you ask me," Hiko smiled mischievously, "You've all get man problems."

The girls stopped dead in the center of the road. The boys passed by and glared at them, before moving on ahead. Once they were out of hearing range, Kaoru managed to stutter, "What?!" The other girls looked as dumbfounded as she was.

Hiko only smirked. "I can tell; after all, I'm a man. And I'm 45, that should account for SOMETHING. Should I point out these problems?" The girls exchanged glances with each other. Seijuro Hiko, master of the Hiten Mitsurugi style, was about to point out their love life problems??

"First of all, let's take you, Weasel Girl."

"WHAT'D YOU CALL ME?!" Misao nearly lunged at Hiko, but Kaoru snatched her back, hissing, "Calm down, Misao!"

"You're Lord Aoshi obviously cares for you, and everyone in Japan must know how YOU feel about him..."

Misao blushed bright red. "Oh? I didn't mean for everyone to..."

Hiko ignored her and continued. "But you two never admit it to each other. He feels as though he's not good enough for you, and you could probably care less about that. However he's not just going to fall into your arms, you know."

Misao blinked and stared.

"Megumi-San... As much as you lash out against that man, Sanosuke, it's obvious you care about him."

"That's the biggest lie I've ever-"

"And he likes you a lot too." Hiko shrugged and ignored her as well.

Megumi blushed. "How do you know that?"

"You're blushing." Hiko said flatly. "And I can tell!! Now, as for you..." he looked at Tae, who blushed for no reason. "I don't know you... Uh...Miss Kaoru..."

Kaoru stared at the ground. What would he say about Kenshin? Probably something mean.

"You care deeply for Kenshin. I knew it the moment you came to Kyoto to find him. And, he cares deeply for you. There's a lot of potential there...but he has this mindset that he's not good enough for you. And you don't ever let your feelings go."

Kaoru said nothing. Hiko was right about that. And, she was surprised he hadn't bashed the rurouni like he usually did.

"And as for you, Tokio-San..." Hiko turned and started to walk off, "I have NO idea what to tell you. Hajime Saitoh is a person I don't try to figure out."

"WAIT!" Kaoru cried. Hiko paused and looked back at them. Kaoru blushed. "Excuse me, but...after telling us what the problems ARE, you aren't going to help us?"

For once in his life, Seijuro Hiko was left without an immediate response. The girls stared hopefully at him.

"I'd do anything to be with Lord Aoshi..." Misao whispered.

"And I wish with all my heart to be with Kenshin..." Kaoru sighed.

"I wish Saitoh were a lot more loving. But, that won't happen." Tokio shrugged and snickered. "I don't expect him to change. But a little appriecation now and then would be nice..."

Megumi twitched. "I guess...Sano's not that bad."

Hiko slowly smiled. "Well, New Year's Eve is all about making wishes, right? I'll see what I can do...maybe, we can form a little plot to make them notice you girls. I'm sure you all can be cunning."

"But wouldn't YOU fall for something cunning?" Tokio smirked. "I'm sure if you did, the other men would too."

"Good point." Hiko sighed. "Those other guys will too...well, maybe not Kenshin, he's such an idiot sometimes. But if we play it right..." He looked towards the boys, who had stopped some distance ahead and were staring back.

"What's he talking to them about?" Kenshin frowned.

"Who knows?" Saitoh lit up another one.

"It can't be good..." Kenshin muttered. "I know Master. He's probably embarrassing me."

"Deal with it." Saitoh shrugged.

Kenshin glared at him. "You're wife is back there too, you know."

"I know. That really doesn't bother me though."

"I can't believe he's *married*." Sano shuddered.

Saitoh blew a puff of smoke into Sano's face. Aoshi groaned. "Well, let's keep going, alright? Those fireworks will be going off in a minute, and we need to find a good spot to watch them."

"Shinomori wants to watch the fireworks?" Saitoh snickered.

"Shut up. Misao wants to see them." Aoshi kept his eyes forward.

"You like Miss Misao, don't you Aoshi?" Kenshin asked.

"Hmm."

"You like that Kamiya girl, don't you Battousai?" Saitoh mimicked.

"Yes, but I'm not good enough for Miss Kaoru."

"Yea, and I'm not good enough for Megumi, either." Sano sighed.

"You aren't good enough for anyone, moron."

"What'd you call me?!" Sano raised a fist.

"Calm down." Aoshi muttered.

Kenshin turned when he heard laughter coming from behind them. "Oro?" The girls were catching back up with them. Kaoru smiled - almost impishly. Kenshin frowned. What HAD Hiko been discussing with them?

"We should really hurry to the bridge to see the fireworks." she giggled.

"Yes!" Misao looped her arm into Aoshi's. "You promised you watch them with me, Lord Aoshi!"

"I know." Aoshi replied in monotone.

"Let's get going, shall we?" Hiko grinned broadly at the boys, who all looked rather intimidated, except for Saitoh, who simply flicked the ashes of his cigarette towards the ground.

~*~

By the time they'd reached the main bridge, more people had come out to watch the fireworks and the parade. Luckily, Dr. Genzei had saved them a good place to watch. Everyone crowded up to the railing. The water below glistened brightly and reflected the stars, and people were cheering and talking happily. It was obvious the air was full of excitement.

"I can't see very well!" Misao whined. "I hate being short!"

Yahiko started laughing. Tsubame blushed. Hiko winked at Misao. She grinned back at him and turned to Aoshi. "Lord Aoshi, will you please lift me up on the railing, so I sit there and watch?"

Aoshi blinked. He was about to say, 'You're a ninja. You can hop up there yourself.' But when everyone glanced at him, expectantly, he sighed and wrapped his hands around Misao's waist. "Alright." He gently sat her down on the railing. Before he could remove his hands from around her waist, Hiko spoke up.

"Really, Shinomori. Don't you think you should hold onto her, so she doesn't fall off? It's a long drop to the river."

Aoshi blushed - just enough to be seen for about three seconds. "She's an Oniwaban Ninja. I doubt she'll fall."

"She's also clumsy." Yahiko piped up. It took all of Misao's posture and training to remain where she was, and not jump up and beat him.

"Please Lord Aoshi?" She looked over her shoulder and smiled sweetly. "I don't want to fall...and I am a little clumsy..."

Aoshi sighed deeply and put his hands back around her waist, not bothering to reply. He forced himself not to blush. He hadn't been expecting to hold Misao down for a fireworks show. Hiko tried his best not to snicker. His plan for Misao was working great so far. He really was a great master, he proudly thought.

Kenshin gazed out over the river. It was a beautiful night. The sky was perfectly clear, and there were hundreds of stars out. Everyone was happy and carefree - it all reminded him that THIS was exactly what he'd fought for during the Revolution. A night exactly like this.

Beside him, Kaoru was blushing slightly, knowing her plan was up next. She bit her lip and glanced at Kenshin, who seemed completely absorbed in the sites around them. Slidding a little closer to him, she shivered. Kenshin turned, feeling her movement so close to him. "Miss Kaoru? Are you alright?"

"I'm just a little cold, that's all." she said shyly.

Kenshin smiled. "It's not that cold tonight, though..."

"I said I'm cold!" Kaoru snapped.

Hiko groaned and decided to intervine. "Kenshin, if she's cold, just wrap your arm around her or something. Just because YOU aren't cold doesn't mean that everyone feels that same! There you go again, being way too greedy!"

Kenshin snarled towards Hiko, but quickly returned his attention to Kaoru. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to sound rude..." he blushed.

She giggled. "It's alright..."

"Here." Kenshin politely put his arm around Kaoru's waist. He gasped when she leaned against him. Hiko inhaled slowly. Megumi was next - but Hiko knew her moves would be more subtle then Misao's and Kaoru's were. He watched as she stood still besides Sanosuke, who was a good foot taller then her.

"Hey Fox, can you see okay?"

"Yes." she replied.

"Just checking."

"Moron."

Tokio elbowed her husband sharply. "I swear...you're never nice to anyone! Half the time you aren't nice to ME!" She flipped her long black hair over her shoulder and turned away from him.

"Tokio-Chan...I was just playing around!"

Everyone turned in shock. Kenshin was the first to sputter - "Saitoh is...begging?! For forgiveness?!"

Saito glared at him. "Aku, Zoku, San..." he reached for his sword.

"No fighting on New Years." Hiko eyed him from his obvious hieght advantage. Saitoh released his sword, but not without a good deal of aggravated grumbling first.

Tokio smirked over her shoulder. "Aw, poor baby. Can't even fight on New Years. Not like you haven't had enough fighting in your lifetime to last for TEN lifetimes, you know."

"Tokio, please..." Saitoh groaned. "I'm..."

"You're just a fighter. You used to have a sweet side to you, though." Her voice was a little wistfully - on purpose.

"A sweet side?" Sanosuke turned grinned devilishly towards the Wolf of Mibu. "You've gotta be joking!"

"Humph." Megumi glared at Sano. "You're never sweet either. Tokio, why don't we stand over HERE, away from the mean men?"

"Sounds fine to me!" Tokio huffed. She brushed past Sanosuke and walked with Megumi a few feet away.

Sano and Saitoh blinked, completely dumbfounded. "What...just happened Wolf?" the former thug of Tokyo sputtered.

"Looks like both of you got shunned." Aoshi filled in, expressionlessly and in monotone once more. Inwardly, he felt like grinning - he still had his hands on the girl he secretly loved.

Saitoh and Sanosuke looked at each other for a split second before quickly looking away from each other, both muttering, "Moron" under their breath.

Tae noticed some of her friends nearby, and excused herself from the group. Dr. Genzei was busy with his granddaughters, so no one saw Yahiko stand a little closer to Tsubame.

All of a sudden, an explosion of color filled the sky. Everyone's mouths dropped as they stared upward, watching the fireworks begin.

Misao's eyes sparkled when she felt Aoshi's hands tighten around her waist. She leaned back against his chest to stare at the sky better, but found the warmth of his body just as enticing as the beautiful colors above her. Aoshi took a sharp intake of breath as Misao leaned against him, but he managed to remain fairly expressionless.

A bright explosion of red lit the sky. Misao stared. "Aren't they beautiful, Lord Aoshi?"

"Hmmm." he responded.

A blue firework burst before them, and Aoshi paused as he watched the colors fade into gold as they cascaded towards the earth. "They really are beautiful." he managed to mumble, letting his bangs hide his icy eyes. Misao sighed happily as she leaned back against him even more, and his arms tightened slightly over her waist.

Kaoru boldly decided to lean more onto Kenshin, who gasped at her sudden move.

"Miss Kaoru? You're still cold?"

"A little..." she lied.

His arm tighten around her waist as well. "The fireworks are very lovely, aren't they?" he forced himself to say. He could feel his throat drying and his heart start to pound faster.

"Hai... I like the gold ones the best."

"Really? I like the green ones, I think." Kenshin paused before scanning the scenerio around them. Saitoh and Sano were grumbling, not really even paying attention to the display in the sky, while Tokio and Megumi were whispering back and forth. Misao and Aoshi seemed oblivious to everything except the sky, and Hiko was still grinning like he always was when he was scheming and planning stuff. Kenshin frowned. "Miss Kaoru, perhaps we could see them better from the bank."

"Down there?" Kaoru blinked.

"Hai..." Kenshin smiled. He gently tugged on Kaoru's arm as she slowly followed him off the bridge and through the crowd of people towards the river bank below, which was reletively unpopulated. Hiko only smiled broader as he watched his former pupil escort Kaoru away from everyone else.

"Things are working just as I planned." he mused to himself. "But, then again, *I* planned them, so of course they'll work right!" He chuckled confidently to himself.




Just a story I decided to start about a month ago, without any real thought as to where it was going to go or anything like that. However, I like the idea a lot now, so hopefully I'll finish it soon. This is also a pretty rough draft, even though I've read through it a couple of times, so C/C would be nice. :-)

Oh, and the rating is subject to change. I had thought about doing multiple lemons for this story, but I'm not sure if I just want to imply them or actually write them. I'll decide as I go. Any feedback about that would be nice too... ^_^x

Author: Sher
Email: dmgw195@yahoo.com
Disclaimer: Rurouni Kenshin doesn't belong to me. Eh, you know this routine.