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The Meiji Teachings
Food of the Strong - Seta Soujirou
Akai Kitsune

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\\ "In this world, the flesh of the weak is the food of the strong." //

\\ "The strong live, the weak die. No matter how hard you smile, you can't run from the truth." //

I've always believed those words. The words spoken to me by Shishio-san, when I first met him. It made so much sense.

The family I lived with were so strong compared to me. They would push me down, hit me, yell at me, even when I had done nothing wrong. They were strong. I was weak.

The flesh of the weak is the food of the strong.

Somehow, it seemed right. They were taking advantage of me, eating away at my loyalty and obedience. I was too weak to fight back. I couldn't even try.

It was so easy for them, to hurt me. To treat me as if my life was worthless.

Maybe it was.

After all, the strong live, and the weak die.

That is the one truth, the only truth.

But... did I really want to believe that?

When Shishio-san handed his wakizashi to me, I was grateful for the gift, but... something felt... wrong.

He had given me a weapon.

Weapons are for killing.

Killing is for the strong.

The strong live, the weak die.

I was weak.

A killing weapon does not belong to one who is weak.

Yet... he gave it to me.

Why would he give something strong to one who it weak?

Was he testing me?

He gave me a killing weapon, so I used it to kill. I slaughtered my adopted family, all of them. In one fight, I became strong.

... but... it didn't feel the way I thought it would.

I smiled as I killed them. I made them suffer for what they had done to me.

The strong live, the weak die.

I killed them. They died. I lived.

They were weak. I am strong.

I smiled as I killed them.

... but... I cried, too.

I cried.

It didn't feel the way I thought it would.

  \\ "No matter how hard you smile, you can't run from the truth." //

The truth... the truth is, it didn't feel good, to make them suffer. To hurt them. To kill them.

It almost... it almost hurt me, too.

But... wouldn't that make me weak?

What is so wrong about being weak?

But... if you are weak... you die.

The strong live, the weak die.

... but... maybe... maybe...

I cried. I smiled, and I cried.

Maybe... maybe it's not the only truth.

Maybe... Shishio-san's truth doesn't suit me.

But then, who's truth does?

Who should I follow?

Himura-san... protects. He is strong, but he doesn't feed on the weak.

I thought that made him weak.

But... he was too strong for me.

Does that make me weak?

Should I believe his truth?

... but...

  \\ "The true answer comes not by fighting but by living your life, as you atone for your sins." //

Atone for your sins. What is the path to atonement? What is the path that I must take, in order to find my own truth? When my path ends, will I find Himura's answer, or Shishio-san's?

Or will I find something... different? Something of my own, unknown, that I can follow without relying on anyone?

Will I someday need a sword again, or can I live on without it?

Is there life without the sword?

It is all I know. All I have ever known.

But... could there be something more?

Could there be something worth living for... besides fighting?

And... if I found that worth, would I have to fight for it?

Or would it accept me without fighting?

Could I fight again, and not kill, like Himura?

Is life worth living, without the one thing that I have poured my heart into for years now?
Will I have the courage to find out...

I think I will. I must try, otherwise, I will never find my truth. And I will go on living, not knowing... and without knowing, I will die...

I can't live like that. That is not living. There must be some answer on the road ahead.

I will follow it, until I find it.

I want to find the true me, the person who has hidden in my heart for so long.

That will be the answer I will seek.

Once, there were two men... they walked the same road, but after ten years they discovered completely opposite truths. One believed his truth until his death, but the other lived, and still believes it now.

I thought I could believe one or the other. But...

  \\ "The true answer comes not by fighting but by living your life, as you atone for your sins." //

Life is not just black and white. There are shades of grey within, shades that are hidden from the heart and soul, that can only be found at the end of the road, along the path to... to...

Atonement?

Perhaps.

Perhaps something different. Something more.

It may be hard. Dangerous.

I'm not afraid.

Well... maybe...

Maybe I won't like what I find. Maybe the true me isn't someone I want to know.

But... I have to. I have to know. I can't live without knowing who I am, who I could be.

And no matter what comes before me, I won't run away. I can't run away from the truth.

Running is too easy.

Easy... is not what I desire.

It is not my answer.

The path I choose does not come easily, but it is the path in which I will find my own truth. I won't follow anyone's shadows. From now on, I will go where the wind takes me, whatever road it wishes to travel.

No more running.

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Author's Notes: Wow, writing Soujirou is fun. ^_^ A bit complex though. He's one of my favourite character though, and he's so much like Kenshin, it's no wonder. His character sketch was a bit more complex to write, but just as enjoyable. I don't know how much of a series this will be and how long I'll make it, but as long as the ideas come, I'll write them. And as long as people read them, of course!

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Akai Kitsune
Written February, 2002

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