AN: You know what sucks so much? Having this epilogue almost finished, and then my original computer crashes (with anti-everything installed in it!) and I lose all my work. Not just this final chapter, but also my other RK fan fics in the works. I swear I'm cursed, because this happened to me five times. (Sigh) So, this epilogue is not as long as it was going to be, but I made it go the same way as I imagined it. Also, I hope it doesn't come out too cliché, and I will explain why it went the way it did at the end of this final chapter.
The early morning was cool to feel with a slight fog covering the growing city, making the air wet. The sun was coming up in the eastern horizon, so the fog was almost dissipated, but it still lingered. As the fog continued its presence, a lone figure sat on the embankment next to the city's river. He sat with one leg bent upright, the other leg was straight, and he rested an arm on the upright bent leg. To say the least, it was the exact same position he sat in when he was in the Fallen Village, with his mind and spirit broken.
Yukishiro Enishi had much to ponder and the seclusion of the embankment, away from the hustle of the city, was an excellent place for a person to gather their thoughts.
He had been married for a year and three months to his wife, Yukishiro Koishi, and it had been a good year, with the extra months involved. Enishi had kept his promise and he had worked with Saitou, Chou, and when an investigation demanded it, even Battousai. Uramura had been correct when he thought of Enishi as a valuable asset, because the former mob boss had worked with corrupt officials, so they trusted him more due to their acquaintances. He did, however, take much precaution when he informed of officials' corruption, so as not to expose himself to those individuals.
Of course, no matter what was involved, he always kept Koishi separate from his work life. While the Chinese mafia seemed to have dismissed the identity of "Himura Koishi" as useless to pursue, there was no need to attract unwanted attention, which was why he basically hid her away. Their house, newly built on the old Yukishiro property, had a decent amount of foliage surrounding it so one would either have to know where it was, or be guided to it by those who had knowledge of its location.
The house was traditional Japanese, complete with an engawa surrounding the house, and a connecting engawa to the bathhouse behind it. The house itself was two bedrooms, with a dining room and kitchen. It was a small, simple house on an ample amount of land, very different from his mansion in Shanghai, and Koishi insisted she preferred it that way.
She did not know it, but Enishi had sold off the Shanghai mansion six months ago and put the large sum acquired from it in a locked account so that Koishi would be able to live comfortably for the rest of her life, upon his own death.
Enishi sighed hard when he thought of that, and inwardly shook his head. He and his wife had an argument earlier that morning, just as the sun was starting to rise. His whole life, all his plans, if he had any, had been turned completely around with the break of dawn when his wife uttered a few simple words. He remembered he felt panicked at the unexpected news, unprepared, and just did not know how to handle it. When he was in such a state of mind, his mouth ran ahead of his brain, and he said something he knew he should not have. She left him there, on the engawa, and he followed.
When he saw Koishi only went to the Kamiya dojo, he stayed behind and sat on the river's embankment. He never once set foot on the property, not since they were married, and that was a whole year ago. Tokyo was in the middle of the sakura festivals, but he never went to the hanami picnic with Koishi; he only saw her safely to the group and stayed away. Her family did invite him, but he did not want to attend simply due to her family's friends and the looks they cast his way, especially from the woman doctor. Not only that, but the sapphire eyed woman still did not approve of their marriage, and even though she was polite enough, he did not want to cause discord among everyone, so he stayed away.
Koishi did, however, spend much time with her family when Enishi's investigations took him all over the county of Japan. He did not mind it, of course, for it sometimes took a few months for him to come home, and he did not want her to be lonely. It was that time, three months ago, however, that put him into the position he was currently in; it took three whole months for him to complete the investigation he was on, and it took him all the way to his first year anniversary month.
Enishi did everything he could, but he could not get back to Koishi before their first year wedding anniversary, and on the very day, he finally made it home, but only in the late evening. She did not complain, as gentle-hearted as she naturally was, and she was happy to see him, to have at least the evening together. That night…
Damn it; he knew that boyish voice, and he honestly did not want to deal with him right now when he was on the verge of a mental breakdown. In an argument between spouses, the parents always side with their own child, and no doubt, the redhead would be on his daughter's side of the disagreement.
"I thought that was you." Kenshin commented as he also sat down on the embankment, and Enishi had to wonder what level of intelligence the redhead had; it was not as if there were very many spiky, white-haired men around with a youthful face.
Battousai placed a bamboo container next to himself and readied the bamboo rod with a string at the other end. He dropped the string part into the water, and he smiled as he explained, "The early morning is the best time for fishing because the fish are more eager to bite. This is also a great place to gather your thoughts and calm your mind. I used to take Kenji and Koishi here often, when they were younger."
"How was she this morning?" Enishi inquired.
Kenshin glanced at his fishing companion as he raised his rod, only to see it was still empty on the other end. He frowned in disappointment and he put the string back down as he answered, "She got sick this morning. She also said she saw Megumi-dono yesterday."
Koishi had been rather sick after Enishi had gotten back after a half month investigation. He insisted she saw a doctor, and even settled for "that woman," meaning Megumi. He even promised that if she did not see a doctor about her sickness, he would throw her over his shoulder and carry her all the way to any doctor's office.
He knew she would do it after he told her that, for it would have caused a scandal. They were always known as the neighborhood "odd couple," and when they got married so quickly, the gossiping hags talked of Koishi being pregnant; but when her abdomen failed to grow, that rumor was laid to rest. Then there were some policemen who did not know how to separate their work lives from their personal lives, and those who knew, informed their wives that Enishi was Koishi's father's brother-in-law. Not only that, but also that Koishi was, at one time, sold as merchandise.
The rumors spread like bees to honey, and some even twisted the details around; she had been forced to marry him, and another was, she had willingly sold herself to an in-law.
Koishi tried to be peaceful and not cause a scandal, so when Enishi told her he would carry her off to see a doctor if she did not see one by the time he returned from a minor investigation, she took it seriously and saw the woman doctor. He returned home late that night, and she was asleep, so the next morning, that morning, he asked her if she saw a doctor; she said she did, and that was when he got the shock of his life.
"You're really quiet." Kenshin commented as he raised his fishing rod to see the line empty yet again.
He was not going to tell his…father-in-law his personal problems. They should remain between himself and his wife.
"Koishi is pregnant." Enishi blurted out before his brain could stop his mouth, and when he said the words, it made it that much more real.
"Uh-huh." The redhead simply said.
"She told you already…" The white-haired man did not question, but stated.
"No," Kenshin corrected. "Kaoru and Sessha figured it out ourselves a week ago when she came for another visit. She smelled the cooking fish and she got sick; after she threw up she felt better, ready to eat, and that was when we suspected, even before she considered it."
Enishi inwardly sighed again. He knew Battousai would side with his daughter on this matter, but he still admitted, "I don't…want this."
With a solemn face, Kenshin raised his fishing rod again, and again, he placed the empty end back into the water. He then cautiously stated, "You're married; pregnancies are to be expected. It's practically every man's wish to have an offspring before they pass." Still cautious, he asked, "Why would you not want this?"
"To start," Enishi answered, his eyes still on the peaceful river. "I think I'm passed the age of having children."
"Wait… how old are you again?" Kenshin asked, and when the white-haired man gave him a sufferable look, the older man then reminded, "Some men have children older than you. I've known a few men who already have grandchildren and they still have children with their much younger wives."
"Yes, I know; but remember, this is personal."
"Okay; good point."
The silence filled the air once more, and Enishi started to drift away in his mind. He knew exactly when it happened; the night he came back on their first year anniversary. He had always been cautious when they coupled, even before and after they were married, and if he was not sure if she was close to her month, he would always spill his seed outside of her. That night, however, after two months absence from each other, he threw all caution to the wind; he held her to him as he grind their hips together with soft moans and cries filling the air. And he spilled his seed inside her many, many times.
That was three months ago.
"Do you think that woman might be wrong?" Enishi suddenly asked.
"Megumi-dono?" Kenshin confirmed as he dropped his empty line yet again. "She doesn't like to give a…what's the word she uses…a diagnosis unless she's absolutely sure herself. So, Sessha thinks she's more than likely correct about Koishi."
Damn; he was afraid of that.
"Second reason," Enishi started again. "The large age differences between Koishi and I."
Of course Battousai would give a confused look, for their age differences never stopped Enishi before, and even after he knew that Koishi is the daughter of the man he once hated, it still did not stop him.
"I don't know why," The white-haired man explained. "For Koishi's peers, it's easier for the young men to marry a widow without children than it is for them to marry a widow with children."
Realization dawned on the redhead's face, and then he said, "That's because the young men Koishi's age are just that; still young. Once they're older, Sessha is sure that they will change their minds. Not to sound egotistical, but Koishi is a very beautiful young woman."
"I know." Enishi agreed matter-of-factly.
It still irritated him to no end that, despite Koishi always wearing a "I am married" kimono, men still looked her. She never noticed it before, and she still never noticed it, but she did catch many men's eyes, especially when she smiled and those duo-colored irises lit up, locking all the light around in them. That was when they looked her way. Some men just glanced, like admiring a beautiful work of art, and then some men lingered with desirable eyes. That was when Enishi threw them a dangerous look so they knew to look away, so they all knew she belonged to him and she was not for the taking.
"So," Kenshin started again. "The second reason you didn't want children was to give Koishi ample opportunity if something happens to you."
"I don't mean to pry…but is there anything else?"
"Aa…" Enishi practically hesitated. "My mother died giving birth to me. After that, my father was hardly around. That's the third point I'm trying to make; Koishi might die during childbirth."
"…Yes," Kenshin agreed. "There's that possibility. Of course, it's the factor of life; childbirth is always dangerous to women." He cast his empty line into the water again. "What else is there?"
Enishi sighed hard, for this was the biggest factor of them all, and he admitted, "The word 'father' doesn't exactly have a positive meaning for me. After my mother died, my father was hardly around. My guess is, he just could not stand to see the face of the son who caused the death of the woman he loved."
The redhead nodded in understanding and he comforted, "That was your father. You have a different choice if that happens. You don't have to be like him."
"We still receive our examples from our fathers." Enishi pointed. "What was your father like?"
Kenshin blinked in surprise at the question but answered, "Oh, um, he worked hard to grow crops for selling. When I was old enough, we worked the field together…And then a sickness came to the village I lived in, and both my mother and father died from it. Almost a year of living alone, the village was attacked and I was taken away by slave traders. The group was then attacked by bandits and I was saved by a man who adopted me, gave me a new name, and taught me Hiten Mitsurugi Ryuu."
"Wait…he gave you a new name?"
"So, what was your original name?"
"Shinta." A silence fell between the duo, and Kenshin continued, "The point is—"
"You're name was Shinta?" Enishi repeated as if he could not believe it.
It was rare for Kenshin to grow annoyed, but he gave a sufferable, annoyed sigh before he answered, "Yes, my name was 'Shinta' as a boy."
"Did you know you just completely destroyed that whole 'Battousai' image with that name alone?" He then started laughing, and then mocked, "Shinta the Battousai!"
"The point I'm trying to make is," Kenshin interrupted. "Just because you didn't have a good father to begin with, doesn't mean you'll turn out like him, or treat your child the same. If I thought like that, I would never have Kenji or Koishi. Of course, I can empathize with your other fears."
"You were fearful when your children were born?" Enishi asked with disbelief.
"Mostly when Sessha found out about Kaoru's pregnancy with Kenji." The redhead answered, his violet irises held a distant look in them. "Sessha didn't let Kaoru know it, but he was very scared. Sessha wondered, what sort of father a destructive man would make. What had he done to deserve such a blessing? More importantly…Sessha didn't want the child to grow up to be like him."
Enishi glanced at Kenshin, for that was exactly the way he was feeling, but he did not know if the redhead could understand it.
"Everything I had done…" The former assassin continued. "Sessha didn't want his son to have anything to do with that. Sessha was…cautious, or perhaps, too cautious, and he didn't mind Kenji being a swordsman, but when he started to pick up all techniques he heard about, Sessha grew more scared. When Kenji got older, Sessha could see so much of his younger, Battousai self in his son that he grew petrified. We clashed so much because of that unsettled fear. Finally, Kenji ran away to the mountains close to Kyoto, where Sessha's master lived, and he finally understood what Sessha had been trying to teach him."
"He's a good boy now." Enishi agreed.
"Yes, he is." Kenshin agreed, fondly. "Although he's not so much a boy now; he and Chizuru-dono are going to be married within a year."
"Do you think…?" The white-haired man hesitated, but completed his request any way. "Do you think you would care for the child, if anything happened to Koishi and I?"
"We're family, so of course we would take the child in. What made you doubt us?"
"My family." Enishi answered honestly. "After the Bakumatsu, no one in my family took me in, and that's another reason why I ended up in Shanghai."
"Don't worry," Kenshin reassured. "Even if your child had no immediate family, our friends would still step in and care for him…or her. We knew what it was like to take care of ourselves as children." He yanked up his fishing line, and finally there was a wiggling fish at the end of it. "Ah! Sessha finally caught one!" He placed it in the container he brought with him, and he again reassured, "Everything will be fine once you see your child for the first time, that it will. You'll see."
Enishi simply nodded once and stood up to head towards the Kamiya dojo. He needed to fix the dispute between himself and his wife.
Yukishiro Koishi set her chopsticks down on the food tray with a soft sigh. Her appetite just had not been what it used to be; half of it was her pregnancy, and the other half was discouragement. She did not like arguing with her husband. It just put an unsettled feeling in her stomach, even before her current condition, which was why she rarely argued. Even before they were married, they only had one explosive argument when they were in Shanghai. Disagreements were abound, of course, but never yelling arguments.
This morning was one of those rare occurrences. Maybe she should have just bluntly told him, just like Enishi complained about…
"Would you reconsider children, or perhaps, just one child?" Koishi asked.
"No." Enishi firmly stated with his arms crossed in front of him as he leaned against the engawa post.
"You reconsidered marrying me when you made it a ground rule, in the beginning of our relationship, that you would not be making it legal." She reminded with a rather offensive attitude.
"Yes," He agreed, but then countered. "However, I would've eventually married you, even without everything else that happened, because I wanted to."
"I would never reconsider it, so don't ask again." Silence fell between the couple, and he then asked, "What brought it up anyway?"
"I'm pregnant." Koishi flatly stated.
It was as if Enishi had become a human statue, and when his frozen body could finally move again, his arms simply dropped to his side and they hung uselessly. A cold chill swept through him, and all he could sputter was, "W-What?"
"I'm pregnant." She repeated.
He was sure it was a dream; yes, maybe he was still asleep, for that could be the only explanation as to why his brain could not form a coherent thought. Through the numbness, all he could mumble was, "Oh…shit…"
Enishi could practically see the fire explode in Koishi's eyes as she immediately went on the defense and demanded, "Is 'oh shit' all you're going to say?!"
"Well, what else could I possibly say?!" He yelled back, and even though he had become more reasonable with his wife around, he just lost it all and his mouth took over in place of his numb brain. "I already confirmed that I wasn't going to reconsider the children issue, and then you tell me the news of the century!"
She stood up to her feet on the engawa and yelled, "I had to know the truth!"
"And I hope you're happy with it. Just do me a favor next time and stop pussyfooting around the issue, and just tell me straight instead of setting me up to make an ass out of myself!"
"You can 'make an ass' out of yourself just perfectly without my help! I just know that there's nothing we can do about it now!"
"Exactly!" He agreed with embitterment. "We just have to accept the little brat!"
Enishi did not mean to say it and he had not even been thinking it, but his mouth got ahead of him and the words came out. As soon as they were out, he had deep regret for saying them, and he knew he could not take it back, even though he wished he could. Especially when Koishi's beautiful eyes filled and shimmered with unshed tears, and then she left him on the engawa to go towards the dojo…
Koishi once again sighed and cleared the food trays. She deposited them down next to the water basin used to wash dishes and proceeded to silently wash all utensils. As she washed, she heard whispering around the engawa, followed by a feminine giggle. It was then she knew it was her brother and soon-to-be sister-in-law.
Chizuru had a hard time in the beginning, regarding her relationship with Kenji. Her grandfather very much disapproved of his granddaughter marrying a mere dojo heir, and he forbade her from seeing the young man. The young woman fought her grandfather on the issue very hard, and she even caused a community scandal by sneaking out to see the young redhead.
After some time, the grandfather had enough of Chizuru, and he basically did not allow her to go back home. That was when she came to live at the Kamiya dojo, and was employed as an assistant to Megumi-sensei.
"Hey, imoutou-chan!" Kenji greeted. "What're you doing here?"
"I just came to eat breakfast here." Koishi answered as she continued to do the dishes.
"Yukishiro-san is not at home?" Chizuru inquired, hanging on to her fiancée's arm like a decoration.
The young woman stilled at the mention of her husband and she simply answered, "He's home, but he's the reason why I'm here."
"Oh, you two had a lovers' spat?" Kenji laughed.
"You could say that…" Koishi cautiously agreed.
"What was it about?" He continued to tease. "Let me guess, he still had those Western shoes on when he stepped up onto the engawa."
"I wish it was that simple." The young woman muttered. "No; um, oni-san, how would you like to be an uncle?"
Kenji blinked as Chizuru smiled, for she already knew about it, working with Megumi and all, and all the young man could stupidly say was, "So, you're…pregnant?"
"Oh…my little sister is going to be a mommy."
Koishi smiled at that, for it sounded appealing to her for some strange reason. Then big brother requested, "I want to hear you say it!"
"Say what?" She asked, genuinely confused.
"About a year ago," He explained. "You said you're not going to have children, and then I said 'slip ups can happen.' I want to hear you say it!"
Not having any more argument left in her, Koishi simply agreed, "You were right, oni-san."
Everyone could practically see Kenji's ego inflate and a satisfied smile graced his lips. Then he asked, "So why is Ani-san the reason why you're here?"
"Enishi didn't…take the news too well." Koishi answered as she stood to her feet, now done with the dishes.
"Why not?" Kenji asked with obvious confusion.
"Ano…" She hesitated, not knowing if she wanted to tell her brother about her premarital relationship. "We agreed not to have children, even before we got married."
"So, then why're you pregnant?" He continued to interrogate.
She gave a hard sigh, and simply answered, "It was just a miscalculation."
"If it's a 'miscalculation,' then he shouldn't be angry at anyone but himself." Kenji noted.
"Maybe he is…" Koishi mumbled with realization. "Although, I don't think I should've been so sensitive."
"And there it is." Big brother said with annoyance. "Ottotsuan's self-blaming personality comes out in you."
The two siblings jumped, along with Chizuru, and turned to see their father stood with a fish crate in his hand, as well a fishing rod in the other hand. The slightly annoyed look on his face told everyone that he overheard what Kenji had said.
"Oh," Kenji chuckled. "Ottotsuan is back…or should I say, Ojii-chan." (Ojii-chan = Grandpa)
Kenshin ignored his son, turned to his daughter and said, "You have a visitor waiting for you at the front gate."
Koishi simply frowned, for everyone knew she no longer lived at the Kamiya dojo, but she simply nodded and headed towards the gates. When she passed through, she saw Enishi standing against a tree with a solemn gaze and crossed arms. He then straightened up as they met each other half way on the dirt road.
"I think," She admitted her previous confession. "I think I was being oversensitive."
"You're pregnant." Enishi simply dismissed. "I was informed that you'll be more emotional than usual."
No doubt Koishi was relieved to hear that, and she immediately wrapped her arms around him. Enishi stiffened for a fraction before he relax, uncomfortable with public display of affection, but he did not push her away, either.
"I think we have much to discuss." She said after she pulled away with a smile. "We should go home."
He simply nodded and they walked the dirt path together.
A few months passed by very quickly as Enishi adjusted to the idea of being a father. He still had his doubts, obviously, but he never voiced them to his wife. Koishi had been beautiful before, but he noticed, during her pregnancy, she was absolutely stunning. It was as if there was some sort of ethereal glow around her that made her more attractive.
After her sickness passed, her appetite increased, which was to be expected. Half way through the fourth month, her lower belly started to grow in the lower region. It was a small bump, easily hidden under the few layers of a kimono, but definitely noticeable when she was nude. He did not know why, but her more feral appetite also dramatically increased during the fourth month; not that he was complaining.
When the fifth month began, Koishi made it a point to keep herself clothed, even in front of Enishi, which confused him greatly. After a few times, he got fed up with it, and he opened her yukata for her, and she flinched, trying to cover herself back up, and she started crying that she was getting fat. He raised an eyebrow at her, telling her not to be ridiculous, which only made her cry more.
By the sixth month, Koishi was a canon who could explode at any moment. She grew angry at even the littlest things; a stain that would not come out of a piece of clothing, the engawa would not shine like it used it, and she especially grew angry when she found out the men in her life, being Sano, Yahiko, Kenji, and even Shinya, were placing bets as to the gender of the child.
She found that out when at the dojo, Shinya and Kenji did not know she was there, and they asked the students of Kamiya Kasshin Ryu if they would like to place bets on the gender of Koishi's unborn child. She then threw a fit, got a bokken, and proceeded to whack every single person who dared to even place a bet.
Koishi tried to keep her schedule as much as possible, even with her growing belly, but it irritated her that people would rub her very swollen midsection as if she was a Buddha statue and they were making a wish. One of her schedules was helping Bao relearn Japanese. Bao had to remain in jail for two years for killing Huang, but she only had a few more months to go.
During a lesson, Bao mentioned she would like to seek out her parents, but she did not know where to start. Koishi mentioned that she knew some people in Kyoto who could help her with that, so she sent a letter to Misao. She did not make it a letter of request, at first, but told her Kyoto aunt how her life was, and that she was married to Yukishiro Enishi, and expecting a baby. Then she made her request.
It took three weeks for Misao to respond, but when she did, she congratulated Koishi for her successful life, and said she would help Bao to find her parents. She also sent a letter to Kaoru, asking if it was the same "Yukishiro Enishi" they knew. Kaoru had to respond truthfully, and she tried to explain it the best she could, but she lacked the details.
She then got angry at her daughter for it, and that was when Koishi knew her mother never told anyone outside of her close circle of friends that she married Enishi. She then got angry at her mother in return and yelled, "Are you ashamed of the man I married?!"
It caused a spat between them, and after that, for a whole week and a half, Koishi refused to go back to the dojo, no matter how lonely she got when her husband was away. When Enishi found out about it, he encouraged her to go back to see her family. He knew how Kaoru felt about their relationship, but he did not want them arguing over it. She remained stubborn about it, but when her father stopped by their house, and asked if she was alright, Koishi decided to set aside her anger towards her mother, and she went back to the dojo continuously.
Enishi did not mind his wife's irritability as long as it was not directed towards him, and when it was, he simply remained silent and stayed away from her until she calmed down. More months passed by, and even Enishi was beginning to wonder when the baby would come, because he did not know if he could handle Koishi's irritation and crying spells any longer. It was like he was on an emotional ship during a typhoon; he did not like it one bit.
On a cold, rainy winter day, Enishi worked late into the night with Saitou on a developing case of smuggling. After unsuccessfully searching ships at Yokohama harbor, he returned home to Tokyo in a rather bad mood, just hoping to get some sleep, for it was close to dawn. By the time he got to the city, the rain had pretty much dissipated, but the dark clouds still lingered, even though they could not be seen due to the darkness of the night.
Enishi was about to pass through the gate but he stopped when he heard women's hushed voices inside. He cracked the wooden gate door opened and peered through. He heard the small wail before he saw the source, but he saw that woman cleaning up an exhausted looking Koishi as her assistant, Chizuru, helped the young woman get a yukata on to cover her nude body. It was Koishi's mother, Kaoru, who sat close to her daughter as she was being cleaned up, and in her arms was a wrapped, wailing bundle.
He knew, without being told, to stay outside the gate because births were considered a woman thing, and in their culture, men were never involved in the least. The only ones who attended a birth were the women in the birthing mother's life, and in Koishi's case, her mother. Still, he could not help but worry about Koishi, to wonder if she was alright. That woman, the doctor, did not seem too worried when he kept peering through, so his guess was his wife was just fine.
Finally, after Koishi was cleaned up and clothed, she relaxed and sat with her back propped up against one of the wooden engawa beams. It was then that Enishi realized his wife gave birth on the engawa, which was strange to him, for he always thought women gave birth in the bedroom. Maybe, due to the lack of men on the property, the birth was not limited to the room.
Kaoru smiled down at the wrapped bundle in her arms before she carefully passed it off to her daughter, and the young woman ever so gently cradled it with one arm. She moved the blanket away just a bit, and a small head could be seen lightly covered with very dark hair. Koishi's eyes filled with amazement and wonder as she smiled down at the little one in her arms.
It was then that the woman doctor smiled and bid goodnight, for it was very, very late at night, maybe just a few hours before dawn, and her and a very tired Chizuru headed towards the wooden gate's door. Enishi moved to stand a ways away from the gate, and the doctor made her exit. She stopped when she saw him, and gave him a stare then asked, "How long have you been standing there?"
"Not long." He replied. "It's too late for women to be walking the streets."
It was a hint, possibly an offer, but Megumi indicated with her head and replied, "There's a man waiting to walk me home."
Enishi looked over and saw that street fighter with half-lidded eyes, and then he asked, "The girl?" meaning Chizuru.
"I'm also walking her home." The street fighter, Sanosuke, said.
The white-haired man nodded once, and knew Kaoru would be staying in the house's second bedroom for a few nights, for the mothers always helped their daughters, and even daughter-in-laws, after births. That meant there was no need to walk the woman home at such an hour. He turned and finally walked through the wooden gate just in time to see Kaoru helping Koishi to the bedroom.
The new mother stood in the room with the bundle in her arms as her mother rolled out the futon for her. The young woman then smiled gratefully and carefully sat before placing the bundle down gently so she could slide in between the covers. She laid down next to the baby, and Kaoru exited the room, sliding the shouji door closed.
When she turned around she slightly jumped to see Enishi standing in the middle of the front yard. She then pursed her lips and whispered, "Now that there's a baby involved…my grandchild, I was hoping we could start spending more time together…as a family."
Enishi knew what Kaoru meant; she just accepted his marriage to Koishi, because there was now a child involved, and the new grandmother did not want to be without the grandchild. He understood it that way, but he did not want to deny her the right to be a grandparent, so he settled the matter between them with a single nod of his head.
Kaoru seemed to brighten up more and she gave a tired smile before she turned to walk towards the second bedroom. Before she walked around the corner of the engawa, she whispered, "Congratulations. I hope you choose a good name."
Of course; it was the father's right to name the child he sired. Unfortunately, he had no names in mind, but at least he had seven days to think of one before the Oshichiya Meimeishiki, or Baby Naming Ceremony.
Enishi put such thoughts out of his mind as he used his feet to take off his Western shoes before he stepped up onto the engawa. He sighed in a single rush and then silently opened the shouji door and stepped inside. He slid it closed again, noted that only one lantern was lit for the night as he set his watou up against the wall and proceeded to disrobe.
He silently walked on the tatami mats beneath his feet as he walked around the futon to see the bundle lying next to his wife. He sat beside the futon and very carefully picked up the baby with one hand supporting the head. The bundle wiggled in protest for a moment, the face scrunched up, and ready to cry before it found itself resting in strong but gentle arms.
Enishi observed the wrapped baby with its thick set of black hair on top of the head and chubby cheeks with pouty lips. The baby opened its eyes, blinked, unable to see, until those topaz-blue eyes focused on him. They both stared at each other and the sire could see the shape of his eyes on the little person he held. He breathed in wonder; never in his entire life had he seen something so beautiful, including Koishi.
He felt whole, complete, as he stared at his offspring, but simultaneously, he felt insignificant, inaccurate. He wanted to be everything for this child, and he knew that if the child would ask him, he would do anything. This beautiful baby…
"What do you think of our handy work?"
Enishi looked towards his right very slightly and saw Koishi was awake. Her mother instincts must have woken her up, informing her that her baby was not lying next to her. He was mute to her question as he looked back at the beautiful baby. He did not know why, but he felt like he always wanted to look at the child.
"…Beautiful…" Was all he could whisper.
"Yes, he is."
Enishi swallowed hard and confirmed, "He?"
Koishi allowed a breathy, quiet laugh as she answered, "Yes; we have a son."
A son…a beautiful son…
He did not want this innocent creature to know pain and suffering the way he had known it. He wanted his son to know nothing but happiness, and even if it exhausted him, Enishi wanted his son to succeed in everything he wanted to accomplish. He inwardly shook his head at himself, for he knew Japanese parents were strict, but they loved their children more than anything in the world, and they spent all their time and energy on their children, which was why most of them did not have a long line of offspring like some Westerns.
Yes, he could already tell he was going to be soft with this boy.
"What is it?" Koishi suddenly asked.
Enishi wondered what expression he had on his face that would cause his wife to ask such a question, but he only answered, "I hope he has your kind, big heart."
"Was it bad?" He asked to change subjects. "I mean the birth."
"It wasn't easy." She answered as her eyes drifted closed. "I got through it, though." She then hissed as if in pain, and she added, "I just wish Okkasan would've told me that birth is not the end of it. Afterwards, we cramp and bleed."
"Oh that's a beautiful image." Enishi replied with playful sarcasm. He gently placed his son down next to his wife, placed a light kiss on his wife's lips and whispered, "Goodnight, my little rabbit."
It was very early morning; the sun had not yet risen, although the light could be seen on the horizon in dark pink hues. Enishi stood outside on the engawa with the seven day old bundle in his arms. He had started a habit of taking his son away from Koishi for an hour or two so she could get some sleep. The baby nursed quite often; at least once every two or three hours. His wife never complained, but he knew she needed help, and even though her mother was always there, he did not expect her to stay with them for a long time. So he decided to take it upon himself to help out somewhat, even against the cultural norm.
Enishi looked down at the sleeping baby in his arms and thought of his other problem: he still had not figured out a name for his son, and today was the day of the baby's Oshichiya Meimeishiki. Everyone Koishi and her family knew were to attend, and after the temple, where the baby would be named, the party was to be at the dojo where everyone would give their gifts to the boy; like a reverse Western baby shower.
Although his face was always passive, Enishi's eyes were very soft while looking down at his son. He whispered aloud, "Nee-san, if only you could see your beautiful nephew."
Even though he had not seen or even heard his sister since the time he was in jail, and he decided to live on with Koishi, he still thought of his sister a few times; when he married his wife, he wished she could be there, and now with a son, he wished she could see the baby. No doubt she would have spoiled the boy to no end.
"…It is time to forgive him for what he had done. You no longer hate him, yes, but you never forgave him; and now that you have Koishi, you need to forgive her father."
He could still hear his sister's words loud and clear, even though she was no longer with him. He knew that part of his reason for staying away from Koishi's family was not just to prevent discord, but also because he had not yet forgiven the family patriarch.
It was such a strong, powerful name and everyone, during the Bakumatsu in Kyoto, would shiver in fear upon hearing it. The name "Kenshin" was also an excellent name for a swordsman, but a swordsman can often struggle with what they have done wrong, and Enishi knew that man had done much struggling and suffering, but with it, he found the answer to his crimes as a hitokiri; to keep living for those who are also suffering.
The man had given his son, Kenji, a good, strong name, as well. He had given his daughter a cute name, because he wanted her to choose her own fate, to make her own choices; and that was what Enishi wanted for his son. He wanted his son to be his own person with his own interests with his mother's kind, big heart, unlike the grandfather who never had a chance at his first name, before he was renamed by the man who adopted him.
The baby in his arms then started to stir with a scrunched up face as he made little choking cries. The boy needed his mother's milk so he quickly went back to the room, and Koishi sat upright as soon as she heard the wailing. The father passed the baby off to the mother and she quickly fed him. Thoughtfully, Enishi stared for a moment at his nursing son and he knew, then, what to name him. There was also a sense of genuine forgiveness towards the grandfather, not because he felt obligated, but because they both needed it.
The couple both dressed for the Oshichiya Meimeishiki, and the new mother dressed the boy up in a baby yukata. For the special occasion, Koishi wore a yellow-colored kimono embroidered with blue cranes all over the fabric, while Enishi simply wore a black kung fu suit with gold dragons embroidered on it. Then the couple was off to greet the rest of the participants at the Kamiya dojo.
Koishi carried the infant boy as they walked and when they got to their destination, she was surprised to see her brother and father outside the gates as if waiting for them. Then her surprise vanished when she realized the two men had never laid eyes on her son for the seven days since he had been born. They were probably eager to see him.
Kenji was the first to walk up and look down at the bundle of joy in his sister's arms, and he then proclaimed, "Oh, he is cute!" He then turned to his brother-in-law and said, "Looks like you listened to me." When Enishi slightly frowned, the young man explained, "Before, I said we're a good-looking family, and you need to make sure you also have good-looking children. You did it; the boy qualifies."
"Yea," Enishi stated sarcastically. "I just made sure I put that in with the order before the baby was born."
Kenshin dared to chortle, but Kenji remained oblivious as he cooed at his nephew. Then the young man said, "Imotou-chan, our mother doesn't want to ask you, but she needs help with a few things so we can get the ceremony started."
"Alright." Koishi agreed and then passed her son off to her father, who expertly cradled the baby's head with one arm and supported the rest of the body with the other arm.
When the two siblings left, Kenshin finally saw his grandson for the first time, and Enishi could see the fondness plainly on the man's face as he smiled with a bright, beaming smile. The white-haired man allowed the grandfather his moment, but it was the grandfather who chose to break it.
"Did you think of any names for him?" He asked.
Enishi cleared his throat, for he knew it was going to sound cliché, but he answered, "I have a single, fitting name in mind, and I think you should hear it first, because the reason behind it is personal, between you and me."
"Okay…" The redhead said with prompt.
"I decided to name him Shinta." It was not unexpected to see the man blink, and it was not surprising to see his violet eyes widen. Then the explanation came, "The kanji for 'Shinta' is 'entrusting heart,' and I want him to be like that in life…although not painfully entrusting." Kenshin then frowned slightly, for it sounded like the other man was hinting at something. "And also, I will name him 'Shinta,' because I want you to know that I forgive you for what happened to Nee-san…and I think it's long overdue."
Kenshin did not utter a word or sound, even after the given explanation. Even so, he looked immensely relieved as it seemed a few years were taken off his face, and he nodded his gratefulness for it seemed he was too choked to speak.
"Sessha…" He tried, and finally said, "Sessha thanks you more than you could know."
Enishi nodded once and they both went onto the dojo property to begin the naming ceremony…
"Shinta," Koishi called as they walked down the dirt path. "Don't go too far."
The four year old boy slowed his half running pace as he impatiently waited for his parents to catch up to him. After a very wet winter, the ground had been saturated enough to bring an extraordinary, amazing spring. There were cherry blossom pedals literally everywhere and they kept falling down as if it were snowing pink.
Shinta was very eager to play during the family hanami picnic, although the Himura family already had one, this time it was just the family of three. The boy had shed his toddler years, and was now growing into a young boy. He had boundless energy and even his mother had a tough time keeping up. Often times, he would practice kenjitsu at the Kamiya dojo. Enishi did not like the idea, at first, of his son learning swordsmanship, but when he found that it was a good, productive way for the boy to burn off energy, he consented.
Besides, the father did not mind that practicing at the dojo meant giving his uncle a hard time. The boy found the most unique places to hide, and it kept Kenji on his toes. The redhead did not know that children could be so tenacious, and due to his newfound knowledge, he put off having children with his wife of four years, Chizuru.
The young woman, Chizuru, was more patient with Shinta, but even she had her limits. Even the grandmother, Kaoru, had clashes with the boy. The only one who could really control him at the dojo was his grandfather, Kenshin. His patience knew almost no limits, but due to the boy's adoration of his "Jii-chan," he made sure not to upset the old man too much. Shinta respected his mother enough, but only Enishi could control him at home.
The sire had to take some time adjusting to parenthood, as everyone usually does, and he learned to remain stern but fair. The boy had so many features of his personality; he was very thoughtful, when he wanted to be. He was very kind, when he wanted to be. He obeyed the rules, when he wanted to. He was incredibly stubborn, but his father was equally so, and they often had same personality clashes.
Despite that, Enishi never harmed his son, and just to raise an eyebrow at the boy made him stop his mischievous behavior and remain a good boy. There was only one time he really got angry at Shinta, and that was when the boy picked up his father's watou resting against the wall. It was not so much the fact that he touched the sword; it was more of the sire extremely worried the boy would hurt himself. After that, he was cautious enough to hide his weapon away from wandering hands.
"Where're we going?" The boy asked, always full of questions.
"We're going to a very special place." Koishi answered as she carried their small portioned food in a cloth sack. "It's a place that's very secret, so you can't tell anyone, not even Jii-chan, okay?"
"What's a 'secret'?" Shinta asked with wide, curious topaz-blue eyes.
"A secret," Koishi patiently explained. "Is when you know something, but you don't tell anyone."
"Oh!" The boy exclaimed as if he came to realization. "Like when you accidentally ripped Ottotsuan's favorite changshan, so you threw it away and never told him?"
Koishi winced as Enishi gave her a sharp look, and she said, "See? Now it's no longer a secret." To her husband, she asked, "Are you sure he can be trusted to know the location?"
Enishi shrugged and answered, "I'm sure he'll learn."
"Let's hurry, then." Shinta said with an impatient frown.
The father of the boy inwardly winced when he saw himself in his son. It was not just the personality quirks, but the boy seemed to favor him with looks as well. He had the same eye shape, face structure, and spiky hair, only it was a very deep ebony in color. Then again, Enishi's hair was also black during his childhood, so that factor might be part of him, too.
They finally got to their destination, and the three of them went through very thick foliage in order to get there, but when they got to the clearing, even Enishi had to pause in awe. It seemed the wet, endless winter rain made spring that much more beautiful, for the cherry blossom trees in their secret place had sakura practically growing on every inch of the branches. The ground was littered with pink and the wonderful scent of sakura was everywhere.
It was Shinta who broke the spell as he darted forth, running through the clearing as a wind blew by and swirled cherry blossom pedals around him as if they were in a dance. He played like that for countless minutes before he ran up to his parents, who took their place at the base of a cherry blossom tree. Koishi had fallen asleep as the afternoon wore on, her head rested on Enishi's shoulder, but he remained awake.
The boy frowned as he found something out of place, and he asked, "Ottotsuan, why do you have white hair?"
The man blinked at the question, but he fairly answered, "I was lost after something bad happened."
"You were lost?" Shinta repeated. "But you're here now. Who saved you?"
"First one to save me was your grandfather," Enishi explained. "The next one was your mother."
"Okkasan saved you?" The boy once again repeated with surprise. "How?"
"She saved me with happiness."
"Huh…?" The boy said as if it was the most absurd answer he ever heard.
Enishi smiled and roughed his hand through Shinta's spiky, ebony hair. "I know you don't understand right now," he stated. "But you will; in time, you will."
There was no room for dark memories with such beauty before them. That was all Enishi wanted in his life; good, happy memories to erase the dark ones, and he did just that.
AN: I know Enishi and Koishi having a child was a bit cliché, as I hinted at in the story, but a child between the two of them was the only way for everyone to come together; the only way Kaoru would accept their relationship, and the only way Enishi would find a way to forgive Kenshin. Of course, Enishi was already trying to find a way to forgive Kenshin, but a child with Koishi made it easier.
Well, that is the final end for Twisted Fate, but I have other Rurouni Kenshin fan fictions in the works. Hopefully I can start posting it before the year 2015 is over; please be looking for it. I had a wonderful (at times, frustrating) time writing this, and I enjoyed every part of the journey; I hope everyone did, too. Thank you everyone!
"Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle; like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon one can neither resist, nor fully comprehend." -George Orwell