DISCLAIMER: All copyrighted characters belong to their respective owners. No money is being made out of this fanwork. Please do not distribute without permission.

WARNING: Spoilers! Please read at your own risk!

WITH DUE CREDIT: This fic was loosely spun off from two fics - "Over the Sting" by sasori and "Chronicles of a Rurouni", one of my earlier fics.

Yesterday's Shadow is Tomorrow's Twilight

"Kenji... I'm sorry..."

His mother never got angry. At least, never at him. She never screamed, or gave everybody on the scene a black eye - like so many people told him that she used to do.

"Please... don't go..."

Sometimes he wondered if he would have been more fond of his mother had she been the same person she was so many years ago. The fiesty master of the dojo everybody spoke of with respect and warmth. And a twinge of nostalgia.

"... this place makes me feel sick."

It wasn't that he didn't love his mother. It wasn't that he disliked the place he grew up in.


But every time he saw his mother cry. Every time she apologized for nothing with a glazed, faraway look in her eyes.

"... I don't belong here."

He knew. That he no longer was important. No longer wanted. No longer even needed.

"... no..."

Perhaps. He had never been, in the first place.

"Where do you think you're going, Kenji?!"

And when his surrogate brother got mad, he got all riled up. No longer would he be the cool swordsman master of the Kamiya Kasshin style, just standing at the sidelines dishing out commands. He would rise above you like a looming shadow of doom, waiting to lash out - waiting to strike.

"None of your business."

Yet, he never did.

"Kenji! KENJI!!"

"Shut up! I've had enough! I know what you're thinking! For the last time!

"I'm not my father's replacement!!"


I wasn't sure what happened after that. The details were sketchy. All I remembered was that, as I ran, I kept thinking to myself.

Being my father's son was the worst thing that had ever happened to me.

Because nobody cared. And nobody bothered. Nobody saw me as myself.

All they ever saw,

was that I was my father's son.


Kenji's eyes snapped open.

He sat up slowly, arms still folded across his chest, against the wall of the crumbling old hut behind him. It was still dark. So dark that he could hardly see the path before him. The rain, soft but steady, added a veil to the already hazy surroundings. And the pattering sound it made as it fell against the muddy ground cancelled out any noise anybody in the region would have made.

The hunched figure of Kenji remained as it was.

A hand removed itself from it's position across Kenji's chest and lowered itself so that it clasped against the brittle wood of the hut floor. Kenji squeezed it, eyes hooded. "That dream..." he whispered etheareally. "... again..."

He shifted again and rubbed against a splinter the wrong way, wincing in pain. As he nursed his wounds he examined his surroundings with a clear mind for the first time in a while, realizing that he had fallen asleep amid a heap of ruins - perhaps somewhere near Tokyo. The wooden walls of the hut were already decayed with age, and the rain washed over the hollow structure to paint it as sullen brown.

Kenji scoffed, struggling to sit upright. He did not know how far he had walked, nor did he care to know. All he did know, was that he felt free. Freer than he could ever have been back at the dojo. Freer than when he had that protective rooftop over his head.

And freer, definitely, even though he would have preferred that hot broth his mother would prepare for him during such turbulent weather over his so-called newfound freedom.

A bitterness rose from within him when he remembered the person he knew as his mother. Shaking his head, he fought off thoughts which had surged to the front of his mind, promising warmth with the people he had determined to stay away from. When he finally opened the eyes he had squeezed shut again, he sighed a sigh of relief mixed with frustration.

Because no matter how much he thought, he couldn't deny the fact that he was hungry. And boy, was he hungry.

Noticing for the first time the little creature of pristine white fur seated beside him, sharing the shelter, Kenji regarded the fox with lazy suspicion. In turn, the fox stared at him with its curious golden eyes, keeping its tail wrapped tightly around itself to prevent as much rain as possible from falling on it.

Thus Kenji wondered, not for the first time that night, how fox stew would taste like.

to be continued...

NOTES (just my personal opinions!):
Based loosely on the Seisouhen (which, incidentally, I have not watched, nor intend to - I have merely heard allusions to it, sorry if I get some facts messed up!). Elements from the manga will reign later. The only thing I've kept from the Seisouhen is Kenshin's death. Although I don't really agree with the Seisouhen's method of death for Kenshin, I do believe that Kenshin would not have lived for _very_ long after having Kenji, based on Megumi's words when she discussed Kenshin's condition with Sanosuke in one of the volumes. She knew then that Kenshin had gone way past his limit, and anything might spark his eventual demise. Who am I to argue with the professional, right? ;D

About Kenji:
He doesn't appear for long in the manga, and not much about his character is revealed. We do know, however, that he seems to prefer his mother and dislikes his father. That is not uncommon in many families. However when I pondered about Kenji in the Seisouhen, he appeared to be a rather bitter child. For good reason, too. His father had seemingly abandoned his family to serve 'the greater good out there'. And his mother, instead of protesting, had allowed his father to go. A child of that age would never really understand the reasons behind his parents' deeds. If anything, it would leave his morals in downright confusion.

If truly, Kenshin had died before being able to explain his travels to the young Kenji, then it would be no wonder that the boy became bitter. After all, ancient culture dictates that a son must play the father's role after the father goes, but a son who had lost respect for his father would most likely not do this well. Add to the fact that perhaps he was confused and indignant that his mother had allowed his father to go without a word of complaint, and then could not forget his father when he eventually did die.

I say it was only a normal reaction that Kenji would want to escape from it all.

But! Then again, as mentioned, all of the above are mere speculations I based the premise of this fic on. This fic will _not_ put Kenji in a bad light. I hope, though, that I can explore the darker sides of human actions and reactions without wallowing too deep into angst.

Cheers, and thanks for reading!