Disclaimer: Rurouni Kenshin and company ain't mine. There's no grounds for sueing, and besides, who would??
Second disclaimer: The fanfics quoted within these chapters are by no means mine, and I claim no credit for writing them or the ideas they contain. The chapters themselves are written by me, of course, but nothing else.
Note: This is a fanfic collection somewhat reminiscent of Kendo no Go, only this time the source is not a novel, but stories I have found over the years online that have inspired me to write something related. (Before anyone asks, no, this is not Kendo's sequel. That'll come later, ^_~)
Why the title, though? I wanted something that would show impact, to show that the fic that inspires each chapter is special and unforgettable in its own way. But water? There's no such thing as footprints in water. I know that. But these stories are ripples, echoes of what was written before. So I take only partial credit.
In each one-shot, I will be quoting another fanfic that made the chapter possible. In the case of chapters that could possibly take place in or after the story it's based on, I will ask the author's permission before I post. If the scene is simply inspired by a fic related to the situation, I will quote the author's fic.
If any authors object to seeing themselves quoted, I will remove it, of course.
'Tis all. Suggestions (mostly for good fanfics) would be most welcome, ^_^
Footprints in the Waters
First Print - Stitches
"You've said yourself what your purpose in life is, many times. To protect instead of destroy. I don't think you need this gi to remind you of that anymore."
~ Kaoru, An Inn In Hokkaido by Calger459
Kenshin studied his opponent, eyes narrowed in determination as the upcoming battle loomed before him.
I will -not- get sentimental, he told himself sternly, raising his weapon to strike.
And lowered his arm, a soft sigh escaping his lips. Placing the small knife on the porch beside him, he reached down and picked up his gi, inspecting it with with a tight frown upon his face.
From the corner, the dojo cat watched him, wearing a bored expression. After a moment, she meowed loudly.
Kenshin turned to look at the animal, disapproving. "Don't you start, either," he mumbled. "Kaoru gave me enough trouble about it already."
The cat merely flicked her ear in amusement and looked away, so Kenshin turned his attention back to the shirt he held.
Okay, he thought guiltily, I -shouldn't- get sentimental. It's just a shirt.
Just a shirt.
He had done many things in the old gi, in the year he had lived at the dojo and beyond. It had become over time a companion as familiar as the sakabatou, its thin material keeping him warm, its faded colour both detestable and well-loved.
Just a shirt!
But he couldn't fool himself. It wasn't just a shirt; it wasn't just anything. It was an intrinsic part of himself, something he couldn't just throw away.
I'm not throwing it away though, he reminded his more pessimistic thoughts sternly. I'm giving it to Kaoru.
I'm making her a new ribbon.
So why is it so -hard-?
Picking up the knife again, he pressed the blade against the newly washed fabric and slid it across, the point catching on an already-tearing seam and pulling it in a rough line.
Well... that wasn't so bad...
Shoving his guilty thoughts aside, he continued to work, tearing and cutting the gi into long, thin strips, weaving through patches and stains that were too old to remove no matter how hard he scrubbed. Most of the fabric was no longer its original colour, having faded from bright magenta into a pale, almost peach shade. He couldn't help but notice how horribly pathetic it looked, sitting there in his hands. His fingers traced each familiar scar in the material; on the sleeve, where the Kurogasa had caught his shoulder and stained Kaoru's blue ribbon... across the chest, where Aoshi's blade nearly took his life... dozens of tears, burns, and bloodstains from the battles with Soujirou and Shishio... the uncountable stitches from where Enishi's sword had met it's mark...
It's a wonder there's anything left. I don't know how I was able to put it back together every time...
... except now...
Yes, he'd had he gi for a long time, but it was clear the shirt had had enough. It was only cloth, after all; one of the most easily destroyed materials in the world.
He lay the salvaged strips in front of him, smoothing them out and considering each one. A soft brush of fur against his knee warned him of the cat's approach, who was always seeking attention when she could. He reached over to scratch her proffered ears.
"Am I being foolish?" he asked aloud, smiling wistfully. "Should I even think about it?"
The feline volunteered no answer, curling up into a contented ball beside him. He sighed, turning back to his work.
He chose each piece carefully, trimming the torn edges and tugging free the stitches from past repairs. He picked up a needle and threaded it, knotting it into the first strip and making the first stitch.
Here goes, he breathed deeply, feeling curiously like he had begun a very difficult battle.
As the ribbon took shape, though, he began to feel a little better. In the growing light of morning, the colour seemed a little brighter, the fabric a little softer. The selected pieces were not perfect, certainly, but he had chosen only the best of what was left, and as he used it to create his wife's new hair piece, it really didn't seem so bad anymore.
Only the best for her, he smiled, spreading his work and adding a new piece. I always wanted to give her the best, if I could...
He laboured till morning, when finally the ribbon was completed. He placed it across his lap, running his fingers along the worn material, a small smile playing across his lips. Kaoru had been right; he knew what his purpose was... he knew what he was living for. He didn't need a gi to tell him how to live.
He heard her footsteps behind him, and after a moment her arms were around his shoulders, her chin resting beside his neck to gaze down at the finished work.
"Oh!" she exclaimed, her voice pleased. "You finished it already!"
"Do you like it?" he asked quietly.
Kaoru smiled, reaching down to touch her new ribbon, then clasped his hand in her own.
"I love it," she replied honestly, and despite it's ragtag appearance, he believed her.
He looked back at the ribbon, and the tattered leftover fabric the cat was still sleeping on. He leaned his head against hers, closing his eyes. "I'm glad."
I don't need it anymore... I don't need it to tell me anything...
I have her. And she will always be enough.
Many thanks to Calger-san for allowing me to use her fic as a reference. If you haven't read it, go do it now before you are lynched. (Just kidding, but seriously - it's awesome.)
Next print is currently undecided, but I do have a couple ideas, ^_^ Here's hoping it doesn't take too long.
As mentioned above, suggestions are both welcome and wonderful!
Thank you for reading.