This story is based on characters and situations created by Watsuki Nobuhiro and his colleagues, especially the first OVA. I'm not really sure why its title came to mind, but it seemed like the right thing at the time and is loosely inspired by the title of another fanfic story by Firuze Khanume.


Frost Flowers in the Sun

by wombat

As a young hitokiri in Kyoto's dark streets, Kenshin had rarely spoken. When he had, his words had fallen like flurries of snow: soft, cold, and vanishing in the wind. Now, years later, his voice was warmer but still had the same quiet authority, unlike the harsh shrieks of the seagulls wheeling above the shore. The fight was over, even if the young man in front of him wouldn't admit it. "Enishi, it's time for you to release Kaoru," Kenshin said.

Still trying to struggle up, Enishi snarled defiance. He reached up, trying to drag down his opponent by the ankle, but a swift whirl wrenched it out of his grasp. With his weapon shattered and his pride broken, he shook the sand out of his hair and stalked off into the trees. Kenshin laid his hand on Kaoru's shoulder as the third member of their party came up to join them. "All right, jou-chan, let's go home now," he said.

"But Enishi--" Kaoru protested.

"I'm sure he won't try anything foolish after this," Kenshin reassured her. "Come on, Yahiko will be worried about us."


By the time Kenshin and Kaoru reached the familiar surroundings of the dojo, it was nearly dark. As he tried to usher her in through the gate, she srubbornly repeated, "Are you sure Enishi will be okay?"

He sighed. "Very well, I'll go look for him. But not before you and Yahiko have had dinner and gone to sleep." It didn't take long to assemble a simple meal with the skills he'd learned from Tomoe; once the dishes had been emptied and cleared away, he made sure that the other two were settled into their futons before he set out again. Despite his words to Kaoru, he didn't seek out Enishi right away. First he wanted to go to the funeral stone where he'd left Tomoe with an armful of white chrysanthemums.

It was appropriate that the symbol of the new Meiji era should also be the flower of the dead, he thought somberly. To be certain, the common people fared better now than the wretched peasants crushed by the Tokugawa regime, but Kenshin still regretted all the deaths he'd caused, especially that one terrible moment that changed his life forever. But the familiar sounds of evening soothed his nerves as he walked through the streets. Shop owners nodded to him as he passed their closing booths. From their windows, sake bars spilled out warm squares of light and friends' invitations to join them. He declined politely and moved on, pausing only for a moment when the happy laughter of children rippled out from one house's walls.

When he reached the funeral marker, the faint moonlit mist of evening swirled around it, over the scattered white foam of chrysanthemum petals. A tall, slim figure stood betore the stone, turning at his approach to greet him. "Good evening, husband."

After so many years, Tomoe still spoke to him with the utmost formality whenever they were in public, though he knew better than anyone how different she could be when they were alone. Kenshin smiled and took her by the arm to escort her home. "You and Enishi are always walking around at night. At least with you, I know you'll come back to me."

"He's always returned by morning, but he's been staying out later and later. Has he run off again after another fight?"

Kenshin didn't even need to tell her the answer to that, because it was always the same. "I'm glad he's trying so hard to match his skills with Kaoru, but he takes it so badly when he loses. Perhaps things will change when he catches up, but for now, she still has the advantage of five more years of growth and training."

"If only she would listen as closely to my lessons as to yours. Sometimes I think that you have more household skills than she does." Tomoe smiled ruefully at him, well-accustomed to the quirks of their only daughter. "She was so quiet and sweet when she was a little girl."

He smiled back. "Ah, but our jou-chan needed to learn defensive tactics once the boys were born. And speaking of them, it looks as if our lost lamb is lurking over there." He pointed to the next street over, where Enishi was sulking against a wall without noticing them yet. Quietly, Kenshin left Tomoe's side and moved through the shadows, step by step, until finally he leaped forward and sacked the young man across the back of the knees.

"Ow! Dad, that's not fair!" Enishi complained.

"Perhaps he wouldn't have considered that to be necessary if you had acted differently last time," Tomoe chided their older son. As he and Kenshin scrambled up, she patted dust away from both sets of hakama, allowing family affection to override her rules of decorum. "Have you eaten anything yet?"

Enishi shook his head, wincing in embarrassment as his stomch growled in confirmation. However, this edged toward smugness as his father echoed the noise. Apologetically, Kenshin said, "I prepared some food for our other two and shared it with them, but if you'd like to supplement that with your own cooking, I won't complain."

The three of them began the long journey back to the Himura dojo. As they left the walls of Otsu, Kenshin thought about the person who had saved his life. Anyone might have been enraged by the cruelties which Tatsumi had inflicted on Tomoe, but not everyone would have been brave enough to act upon it. If not for the distraction of that desperate attack, Tatsumi surely would have killed them both.

After that, they'd returned to the house they'd lived in, the house where they lived now. They built a pyre together, and when the ashes had cooled, Kenshin set out to kill Iizuka and tell Katsura of the man's treachery. Tomoe stayed behind to make arrangements in Otsu for a grave to bury the bones, the one which lay there now with the namesake of their first son. The grave of her brother, Yukishiro Enishi.