by : T-chan
I didn't know for a fact what happened, But somehow, rumors spread easily. I didn't even trust my own eyes, but I was certain that I left him alive. Then, three days later, I heard about burials ceremony and funeral. I closed my eyes, watching the blue sky slowly frown its face darkly..
Kenshin. That name. How could have I?? As far as I know, I wasn't the same blood thirsty killing machine as I was 8 years ago. I had resolved to change, didn't I? He had to be alive. He had to be.
Curiously, I decided to find out for myself. But answers didn't come as easy. I stopped dead in tracks as I walked nearer the small house, watching a woman standing outside. Though it was dark, I was somehow sure of what I saw. And I just couldn't bear it.
Kaoru. She was outside in her kimono. Solemnly, her eyes were directed to the skies, her hands folded in a prayer like manner near her bosom. I hesitated. Maybe it wasn't mere hesitation. It was guilt. I killed her husband. Well, at least her sorrowful look somehow gave me this idea of widow. I looked down at the ground, then back at the poor lady.
She saw me from some meters away. Or maybe she didn't, because she didn't run to the house to get a weapon for the murderer of her husband. She fell down on the ground, holding her face in her hands. Sobbing.
I heard that she was the master of Kamiya Kasshin Ryu. What a fine young lady. Her father died some years ago and she met Kenshin while battling for the dojo which was claimed by scoundrels. Then, she asked a complete stranger, who was Himura Battousai to live with her. Talk about life.
I must admit, Himura was lucky. Luckier than most people. I have only been an assassin for 8 years, yet, no one would trust me. No one would look at me without shaking in fear. Maybe because I defied the government and carried swords around. But Kenshin ... ? He was a lot worse than I was, yet what did he get? A woman. That wasn't the consequence I was expecting from a ten year assassin who began his killing affairs when he was barely fifteen. That was luck. People gave him a chance. Perhaps that was what I needed. A chance.
I stepped forward, but faltered. I didn't know what to do. Comfort her? Me, the murderer of her husband? I don't think so. I didn't have the face to look at her straight in the eyes. I was guilty of something. Nevertheless, I decided to walk nearer. I know it would look rather sarcastic , but at least, I did try.
She looked up at me when I wasn't a meter away, tears streaking down her face. I didn't see any wrath as I had expected, but instead eyes so full of yearning. She looked at me as though searching for the answers. Answers that I held.
"I'm sorry," I said, meeting her eyes. I knew it sounded lame, but believe it or not, I really was sorry. I expected her to draw out a gun or some sort to shoot at me. But even though, I will make no move to save my life. I deserved it.
She shook her head trying to stop herself from crying but in a vain attempt so that her face fell down once again on the ground to hide her tearful face. Suddenly, I didn't know why and how. I felt like stabbing myself with the katana that hung on my waist. The way she looked at me.....her eyes were actually asking....
I didn't know why either. I had asked myself that question six years ago, but nothing came to my mind. Until that very moment. I didn't know why. All I know was it was the way life was. The life with a sword. To be able to live, one must learn to kill. At least, animals were like that. That was the way the symbiosis in the ecology worked. But people.....they were supposed to be higher than animals. But why....... ?
"I'm so sorry....... about your husband," I went on solemnly.
"He's not my husband," was the frail answer. "Yet. "
So they were getting married. I walked to her nearer, feeling much and much terrified of myself. It was really weird , but all those years that I killed, I never gave a damn to what people felt. I cared only about to myself and that those people I killed were getting in the way and they were making things harder for me. That was why I turned them to dust. But this woman......I suddenly cared. What was I thinking when I battled Himura Battousai?
I remembered the time when we had our last confrontation. I was so furious at that time and maybe I didn't know what I was doing. Or maybe I did. I was just too furious. I wanted revenge, and it blocked my mind from thinking clearly.
It wasn't for me. It was for my dear sister, as far as I could remember. I searched far and wide for my former brother-in-law, the Hitokiri Battousai , who was also responsible for my sister's death. He killed her and I loathed him with all my heart. The following years, all my life was dedicated to the fulfillment of the dream I had planted on my mind - the execution of the revenge. I was going to kill him.
Though in the battle, I didn't. I couldn't. At least, I thought so. I didn't even have fun as I had anticipated. Whoever advised not to count the chickens before they were hatched was wise. In fact, doing the work was a burden, I hated to admit, and I had forgotten the reasons behind it all. If it did still have reasons.
We talked as we fought. He tried to explain to me everything, but I didn't listen. I didn't want to listen. I was totally blinded by my boundless hatred. He tried to be patient at first and did his best not to hurt me. But for me, it was an insult . It was no game and I had no need of his patience so I did all that I could to trigger his anger. Then, finally, he got me down. At the mention of his friends, his body discharged such immense strength and his sole ki alone could bring me down. In fact, it was the one that did. I stumbled down, feeling the katana slipping out of my grasp. I was pinned to the ground as he stared at me with those dark ferocious eyes that scared me. He was going to kill me.
However the years of being an assassin and being faced against so many hazards taught me to be calm when danger comes. I didn't show a single trace of fear. I didn't even show helplessness, though at that moment, I was, after a long period of time. I didn't want him to feel sorry for me. I was defeated and only death could bring back the honor that I lost. I wanted to die.
He didn't kill me. Instead, he turned his back on me and advised me to "leave and start a new life". For a moment, I admired him for his self-control but I was still angry and his show of mercy didn't change anything. My fury which didn't leave me, increased even more, soaring in the infinite heights. He had no right to tell me what to do. I wanted to make him see that showing compassion was a mistake. While his back was turned, I stood up weakly to withdraw a blade which I hid on my footwear. With one stroke of my hand, it hit him flat on the back. It was a show of cowardice to have done that, and immediately, my mind cleared. To have won the way I had wasn't in my family's code of ethics and my honor wasn't in a way revived by my treacherous victory. My sister, wherever she was at that time, will be definitely ashamed of me. So, without hesitation, I walked to his fallen body , pulled my blade out and stuffed it back to footwear. I felt his pulse. Still alive. It was only a scratch on the back, I had anticipated. He was conscious.
"Till we meet again, Battousai," I hissed to his ears, limping away from the scene. I knew he could hear me. I knew he was alive. I even made that sure. So how come he died?
I went nearer the lady and knelt close to her. She looked up weakly and met my eyes. I didn't know what to say. After a second of deafening silence, I held her shoulder without withdrawing from her gaze. "I --"
She cried even before I had the chance to say the words out. Instead, I pulled her close to me and laid her head on my shoulder. She didn't resist. For a while, I wasn't so sure if she really did recognize me, because if she did, she was being very............. civilized. I suddenly understood Himura and all that he said.
It still bothered me how Himura Battousai could have died. So, feeling Kaoru relax in my arms, I pulled the blade off the footwear and, lifting it to the moon, gazed at it. It glinted proudly when the beams reached its silver blade. Almost the same moment, Kaoru's friend came out, worried, then furious in seeing me. Immediately, the already grown-up boy whose name I remembered as Yahiko demanded :
"What are you doing here ?" The boy's fists balled.
His shout alerted another friend who burst out instantly . Sagara Sanosuke, the husband of the so-called miracle lady Takani, came out, enraged to see me holding Kaoru. Their behaviors were what I was so used to, so Kaoru's unexplainable response to me struck me astonished. However, before Sagara's power fist could reach my face, Kaoru spun , stood up and protected me with her outstretched arms. She didn't recognize me at all, I concluded to myself. On the other hand, she witnessed me holding the blade but made no move to withdraw her outstretched arms.
Both Yahiko and Sano stopped, staring in surprise at their friend. "But Jou-chan........." Yahiko began.
She shook her head. "Violence begets violence. It will never end."
I left immediately after that, never to be seen again. Never, I vowed to myself. As I wondered away from their residence, I wondered. how could Himura die? Why? And Kaoru......she gave me a chance to live and didn't alert the cops about my presence. There must be a reason.
Silently, as I stood by the grove, I took out the blade again and gazed at it. It was given to me by my sister. Ironically, she wished it would never be used, much more, stained with blood. But if it had not been stained with blood, then it was deprived of its use. And what was a blade for if it was never to be used? It was like existing but not living. So I used it to kill, going against my sister's wish.
I brought down the blade and felt it with my finger. I watched my own blood run over my reflection that was staring back at me. I saw the blade. I saw myself. I saw the resemblance.
That single blade couldn't have killed Himura, I thought. Maybe Kaoru spared me for a reason and gave me what I needed : a chance. A chance to realize my mistakes. And now that I had, it was time to pay the prize - with honor, finally. As I thought, I grasped the blade with one hand.
It didn't take an hour before my body begin to numb. My breathing was taking a heavy pattern though I haven't even began to stab my chest yet. Only my hands were bleeding but I was so used to that, I knew it couldn't kill me. Inhaling deeply, I watched the blade and wondered. It couldn't have killed Himura.
By time, I comprehended something. The handle - it was filled with venom. That was why it killed Himura. And it was going to kill me. But why....and how come?
The blade was fulfilling its last task when I understood everything. My sister - she could be the only one to have put the venom within the handle. That was why it killed her husband. And now her brother.
It was her all along.
But this time, I knew why.
Author's note : Hehehe..I..well..I modified Tomoe's and Einishi's characters, but I didn't really specify that the "sister" is Tomoe and the "brother" is Einishi. It somehow suggests that Himura remarried again after Tomoe (not Jou-chan, of course, since Jou-chan is his third wife), and her second wife also has a brother almost similar of Einishi..So that kind of implies that history repeated itself and Himura was dumb enough to let it happen again....but oh well........any way can go:) Let's just say Einishi's been something like that to make it easier......
- Owari -
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