"Oh, Saito!" Shinpachi said as he followed suit as Heisuke came running behind him with a smile. "Hajime kun? Dang, it's been ages! I didn't think you'd come to Kyoto!" Heisuke said, excitement brimming in his voice.

"When'd you get here?" Shinpachi asked as everyone filed into the room. The lively atmosphere filled Rin with bubbles of happiness as she joined the rest in the room and seated herself next to Souji.

"It has been a while, hasn't it?" Saito said with one of his rare smiles.

"Got that right!" Shinpachi answered.

"Hey, Hakime-kun. Since it's been a while, why don't we spar?" Souji asked.

"It's always sparring with you, isn't it?" Rin muttered with a smirk. "He just got here. Let him relax a bit."

"Souji here started to act all mopey when you quit droppin' by Shiei Hall," Sanosuke said.

"Eh? Not you too Sano-san. Hajime-kun just arrived! Let him rest a bit-"

"Very well, then," Saito said.

"I'm being ignored again, aren't I?" Rin huffed to herself. "Where have I seen this before..." [*flashback to the first time she met Saito in Edo and the exchange between Souji and Saito as they completely ignored Rin*] "Of course..." Rin muttered.

"Don't get carried away. Rin has a point," Hijikata said calmly.

"Oh? So I wasn't ignored," Rin commented monotonously.

"I know!" Souji said, his smile remaining unaltered.

"As for Shinpachi, Harada and Heisuke. Leave immediately and run patrols around the entire capital."

"Oh? So we're finally making a move?" Rin asked Hijikata, her tone of surprise not going unnoticed by anyone. He nodded in reply.

"You sure it's okay to patrol the place without permission?" Heisuke asked.

"Even if we do eventually manage to get some clan to sponsor us, it doesn't hurt to stack up some merits."

"Ah, makes sense," Heisuke said, his grin returning.

"If the rogue samurai are too much for you, why not just kill the scum?" Souji asked with amusement.

"You keep quiet," Hijikata ordered, earning a snicker from Rin as Souji's face fell into a frown.

"Welp, we might as well take a quick look 'round," Shinpachi declared as he got up.

Eventually, the three of them left the room, leaving Hijikata, Saito, Souji and Rin in silence.

"Well...If you'll excuse me, I need to go do some personal work of mine," Rin drawled as she stood up.

"Oh? And what kind of work are you referring to?~" Souji began, his usual amusement returning to his voice.

"Nothing you need to know," she imitated Souji's amused tone.

"So we're keeping secrets now, are we?~"

Rin shot him a tight, sarcastic smile. "If you absolutely must know, it's some girly business...a monthly one that occurs," Rin said, obviously implying something. The statement caused Souji's eyes to widen as his lips sealed shut. Hijikata and Saito sat there calmly, trying to to be affected by the statement. "If you still insist on knowing everything, Souji, then I'm fine with that~" Rin chuckled with mirth as she left the room.


The only secluded or remotely private area in the mansion was her own room...and maybe perhaps the rooftops at night. Here, Rin was certain she could read the Asai clan's book without being disturbed or interrupted as she had been last time. And that was just as she had gotten to the bit about the Kitsune too.

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