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12/01

Zosocrowe

Chapter 2


"Kenji chan, give me that towel," Kenshin pleaded to his son from inside the tub. He tried to make his face as stern and parent like as he could, but once again only succeeded in making the tiny boy laugh at him.

Kenji perched himself near the edge of the tub, his own hair barely dry from his bath. He whipped the only clean towel Kenshin had left precariously close to the water's surface. He squealed in glee each time Kenshin made a desperate swipe for the towel, pulling it away at the last minute, and moving quickly to the other side of the tub.

"Kenji, we donít have time to play games," Kenshin begged, "Your mother will be angry if we miss the train!" He knew his words were lost on the young ears and his efforts to persuade his son to give in to his wishes were in vain. The game of cat and mouse was far to entertaining for his son to give up, and Kenshin had a sneaking suspicion the boy realized his father was in a dire position. With out that towel, Kenshin would be forced to drip dry and spend half the trip in wet clothing. The samurai mentally kicked himself for not foreseeing this event and properly stocking the bathhouse.

"Kenji," he stated, making another lunge for his sonís arm.

The sudden movement and sound of his fatherís voice caused the toddler to jump and panic, tossing the towel into the water.

The two of them watched as the towel slowly sank to the bottom of the tub, a fine film of bubbles covering the surface of the water. "Uh oh," Kenji whispered, his pale violet/blue eyes widening, "All wet."

Kenshin sighed and ran a hand over his wet hair, picturing himself sitting on a train, in wet clothing and listening to Karou rave on about how late they were due to this incident. This day was not starting out to be a good one, and it didnít look like it would get any better any time soon. He gave his son a defeated look, "Yes, all wet," he muttered, fishing the soaked cloth out with his foot.

Kenji regarded his father quietly for a moment, then knelt down before him at the edge of the tub. "What is it Kenji chan," Kenshin asked, moving closer to his son, afraid he may have frightened the boy with his exasperation.

He was surprised when the small boy took his face into small hands and peered closely into his violet eyes. The tiny fingers moved slowly over the ridges and creases of Kenshinís features, tickling the bridge of his nose, the arch of his brow, and the line of his lips. The hands came to rest flat against the scar on his cheek, and pale eyes met violet again in an innocent question. "Owie," Kenji breathed, tracing the scar with a small finger, his brows furrowed with worry. Frowning, the boy leaned close and softly kissed the center of the X shaped scar, and rested his cheek against his fathers wet hair.

Kenshin swallowed against the lump in his throat, his body frozen by his sonís intimate gesture. He closed his eyes, his heart swelling with love for his remarkably compassionate child, "Not anymore Kenji chan," he whispered into the boyís ear, "Not anymore." He pulled away from the boy and took his face into both hands, planting a kiss on each cheek.

Little Kenji suddenly giggled at his fatherís affection and threw his arms around the manís neck. "Better! Better!" he cheered, completely unaware his sudden movement caught Kenshin completely off guard and threw off his balance. Kenshin slipped in the tub, his arms protectively clasping his son into his arms as he lurched backwards into the water.

Kenji sputtered as he swallowed some water, clutching his fatherís neck desperately. "Uh oh," he repeated, holding up a wet sleeve of his new kimono.

"I know, I knowÖAll wet," Kenshin sighed.



***********

Kaoru gave both son and father a dirty look as she settled herself onto the train. She could hardly believe how much trouble the two of them could manage to get into with out proper supervision, and sometimes considered hiring a babysitter for them. She was one woman, living in a house full of men, and in her mind she had four children, a three year old, thirty three year old, twenty two year old, and a fourteen year old. Each one was strong willed and stubborn, courageous and bold, but none of them were capable of taking care of themselves all alone, at least not properly. They relied on Kaoru to give them the attention they craved, as a wife, big sister, little sister, and mother. Though that thought touched her heart, she still could not believe how much trouble they could be sometimes.

"I swear you two," she muttered, eyeing both father and son, "Always playing games at the most inappropriate times."

Kenji clung to his fatherís new black gi, his hands knotted into the collar tightly. He stared at his mother with wide, blameless eyes, his head cocked to one side in question, "Oro?"

Kaoru shook her head and Kenshin laughed, putting on his best rurouni grin. Trying to tell him the truth about what happened in the bath would only seem like an excuse and it was best not to argue with his wife right now on what actually constituted a game or an accident. "Aa, itís okay kioshii, we made it with some time to spare," he offered and hoping she wouldnít give him anymore hassle about how wet his clothes still were.

Kaoru rolled her eyes, "Whereís Yahiko, he should have been here by now!" Her irritation was growing with the absence of her student, though she knew he was saying goodbye to Tsubame at the Akabeko.

Kenji stood up on his fatherís lap at the mention of his pseudo-brothers name, "Yako!" he shouted over and over again, bouncing on his fatherís thighs in excitement, his pale eyes dancing.

Kenshin grimaced as the jumping became more intense, his muscles beginning to protest the abuse, "Maa, maa Kenji chan," he groaned, trying to still the boy.

As if on cue, the dark haired swordsman appeared, throwing a knapsack into an empty seat next to Kaoru and sitting down with a loud thump. "Hiya squirt," he said, ruffling Kenjiís red hair and allowing the boy to crawl onto his lap.

"Where were you," Kaoru snapped, glaring hard at the young samurai.

Yahiko returned her dark look, "I had stuff to do. I made it here on time, so why donít you shut up and enjoy the ride busu," he retorted.

Kenji looked back and forth between the pair, his little mind working quickly, "Bu-su?" he repeated, liking the way the word fell from his lips. "Busu!" he shouted suddenly, causing people to turn and look at the small family, "Busu! Busu! Busu!" His voice became louder and louder, drawing more and more attention.

Kaoruís face turned a dark red while Yahiko roared with laughter, "Iím surprised he didnít pick that one up sooner!"

"Mou!" Kaoru cried, taking her son from her student and shushing him.

**********

Kenji sat staring out the window of the train, trying to take in all the sights and sounds as the world whizzed by him. He was frightened at first, when the train lurched to a start, crying out to his mother and hiding his face in her neck, but as the trip continued, his fear gave way to curiosity, and he found courage in his adultís reassuring smiles.

Kenshin leaned back, his hands tucked into his gi, smiling softly as he watched his sonís curiosity perk here and there at this new experience. He never tired of watching his son, content to bath himself in the purity and innocence that embedded itself deep in the pale violet of his young eyes. With each angelic giggle or cherub smile, Kenshin could almost feel himself growing younger, his entire past forgotten by the light he saw in his childís eyes. Never in his wildest dreams could he have imagined feeling so at peace with himself, nor could he imagine knowing such happiness.

Kenji squirmed in his motherís lap. He made a small sound, almost mouse like, and yawned big. His eyes began to droop, shutting occasionally, only to have them snap back open in attempt to ward off the sleep that threatened him.

Kenshin chuckled to himself as he watched his son battle against the lull of the train. He was actually surprised the boy made it this far, out lasting both Yahiko and his mother, both long since napping softly in their seats. Still, curiosity was a good companion to insomnia, and little Kenji was obviously intrigued by everything that was going on. Kenshin felt his own eyelids grow heavy, his families peacefulness and contentment infecting him. He waited quietly, observing his son through lowered lashes, until he was certain the boy had fallen asleep. Only then did he let himself doze off.



 

 

 

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