Standard Disclaimers Apply.
"I don't have to listen to you! You're not my mother!"
"No, I'm not! But I am in charge of you. May I remind you that you are living in my home and eating all my food!"
"Argh! I hate you, ugly!"
"Get back here, Yahiko! Yahiko!"
Kaoru threw down her broom and raced after the enraged teen. Unfortunately, he was faster than her and it didn't help that her kimono was restricting her movement. Yahiko burst through the gates before she made it halfway through the yard. She stopped at the gates and yelled after him. "That's it, don't come back you stupid brat! I've had enough of your ungratefulness. I hope you..."
It was right then that she noticed the presence of another person. She lowered her head to hide the dark blush that had covered her face. She was completely mortified that she was caught displaying such horrible behavior. She looked up, praying that it was either Kenshin or Sanosuke.
She mentally groaned. It was neither Kenshin, nor Sano, but a young man, sporting a completely bewildered look on his face. He looked to be not much older than her, dressed in tattered blue clothing, his dark hair just reaching the bottom of his chin.
The first thought that ran through her head was that he reminded her of someone.
Taking a deep breath and swallowing her embarrassment, she greeted him. "Hello."
The young man's eyes widened and he took a step back, wary of the girl who not more than a minute ago had been livid and screaming curses. "This is the Kamiya dojo, correct?" He asked timidly.
"Yes!" Could it be a new student? It had been so long since Kaoru had a new student. A huge smile covered her face. "Are you interested in taking lessons here?"
"Umm...no....actually, I was wondering if I could speak with Kamiya Kojirou?"
The smile left Kaoru's face, and was replaced with a look of confusion. "Kamiya Kojirou has been deceased for many years." She informed him in a low voice. He looked away from her, but she noticed the disappointment that spread across his face. Something clicked in Kaoru's mind at that moment. 'Could it be?' She gasped at the thought. She tried to tell herself that it might not even be him, but she could feel her heart begin to beat heavily in her chest.
"Oh, I'm very sorry for bothering you." He said quietly, "Thank you for your help." And with that he turned to leave. Kaoru watched him for a few seconds before calling out to him. "Wait, please come back." It just had to be him. He seemed to be the right age, and it would explain why he looked so familiar. "Why are you looking for him?"
"I was told that I was related to Kamiya-san and I was hoping to meet him." He replied in a quiet voice.
Kaoru's stomach gave a great lurch and she fought to keep her face passive. "How are you related to Kamiya-san?"
He took a nervous breath, and uneasily looked into her eyes. "Kamiya-san was my father."
Right then a brilliant smile covered Kaoru's face. The young man's eyes widened in surprise. "My name is Kamiya Kaoru, the daughter of Kamiya Kojirou." She said happily. "I'm happy to finally get to meet you, Soujirou."
To say Soujirou was stunned would the an understatement. What has just happened was certainly the last thing he had expected. Not only had Kamiya Kaoru welcomed him happily into her home, she had also known who he was. It was as if she had been expecting to meet him.
They entered the house and she motioned for him to sit at the table. "Would you like some tea?" She asked excitedly. "Yes, please." He answered politely. She hurried through one of the doors and Soujirou sat himself down at the table. He was at a complete loss of what to think, so he occupied himself by examining his surroundings.
The house was clean and well kept. It had an aged feel to it and he assumed that it had housed many generations. He could smell the lingering scent of incense, meaning that there was most likely a shrine in one of the nearby rooms. It had such a warm atmosphere to it, much unlike the places he had lived in during his life. He tried to imagine what his childhood would have been like if he had grown up in these walls, surrounded by a loving family. It pained him to know, that had his life been a little different, that is what he could have had.
A few minutes later the she returned, not only with tea, but also a dusty old book. She placed everything on the table and proceeded to prepare the tea. He watched her quietly, a million questions running through his mind that he wanted answers to. It soon became too much so he broke the silence.
"How did you know who I was?"
She looked at him for a few seconds, examining him in barely concealed joy. "I want to show you something." She said. She picked the book up off the table and began flipping through the pages. She searched for a few minutes before she came to the page that held what she was looking for. Then she set the book in front of Soujirou. He looked up at her in confusion. "It's his journal." She explained. "Read it." He felt a bit odd reading something so private, but he complied.
March 16, 1862
I have made such a mistake. Ikue came to me today, begging for help. She has given birth to a child and she tells me that I am the father.
His name is Soujirou.
I want to deny it. I have a family now, and something like this could ruin everything. But I know, without a doubt, that this child is mine. I knew the minute I looked into his eyes. I felt bound to him in that instant.
I asked Ikue why she was so desperate for help, but she won't tell me. I fear that she is ill. She talks as though her time is limited. She doesn't know about my wife yet, but I agreed to let her stay. I don't know how to tell her. Our relationship was left so unresolved.
I told Eri that she was just a friend of the family, looking for a place to stay. I fear her reaction to the truth. Especially with our marriage being so new and her with child. But I can't turn my back on Ikue. Not after what I have put her through. And I can't turn my back on this child. He is my responsibility now.
Soujirou looked up at Kaoru and she motioned for him to continue reading.
March 21, 1862
They are gone.
Ikue took Soujirou and left last night. I searched the city early this morning, but I could not find them. All she left was a note. She wrote that she was grateful for my kindness, but that she didn't want to become a burden for me and my new family.
So she found out. I wish I would have told her in the beginning, and assured her that it would all be okay.
But it's too late now, and I may never see them again. She left no indication of where she was going, and I can't just leave my family to search for them.
Does that make me a horrible person for giving up so easily?
I feel like I have failed Soujirou. I had only been with him for a few days, but I became so attached to him. It is amazing that I could feel so much love for a child that I have only just recently learned was mine.
Someday, I will find him, but for now I can only hope that he lives a happy life. I pray that he can forgive me when the time comes.
Soujirou sat there for a few minutes, absorbing everything that he had just read. He felt a lump form in his throat and chest ached. He took a deep breath and cleared his throat. "So, this is how you found out?"
"Actually, I knew way before I had even read that. My father had told me when I was little."
"He told you?" Soujirou thought it odd that a man would tell his children about his past mistakes, especially ones that resulted in bastard children.
"Do you mind if I tell you a little story." Kaoru asked quietly. Soujirou shook his head and she continued. "When I was little, after my mother died, I was so lonely." She explained. "I used to beg and beg my father for a brother or sister to play with. He always laughed at this, though I could tell that he wasn't happy. Then he would tell me that I had a brother, but just needed to find him. I became so excited that I would wake up every morning and check the house to see if he was there. And whenever father would leave town, he would promise me that he would bring my brother back with him. But every time he would return home, without my brother, and I would get so angry with him. Eventually, father became too sick to travel. So one night, he pulled me aside and told me the whole story. I think I was fourteen at the time. He told me that he would be so broken-hearted every time he returned home without you. He wanted to find you so badly. He wanted to make up for all the mistakes he made, and everything he put you and your mother through. He wanted us all to be a family."
Soujirou heart ached at hearing all of this, and when he look up at her, he could see the tears in her eyes. He could feel his own eyes stinging as well. Kaoru wiped at her eyes and gave him a warm smile. "He would be so happy to know that you finally came."
"I'm happy that you finally came."
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