Disclaimer: I don't own Rurouni Kenshin.

Notes: Not sure if this is going to be part of Shirakawa Yofune. It probably will be: I added way too many allusions. This one takes place one year after Jinchuu. There are at least three sequels/companions planned/being written. Tentatively titled "outsider," "old man's regrets," and "fly." All Aoshi-centric. :D (Take your Aoshi obsession to a whole new level!) All grammar errors are intentional (inspired by some old Final Fantasy 8 fics I've read). Um, have fun? XD

~drums~

he sees nothing but emptiness

no more pain. no more anger. no more sadness. no more rain. no more blood

just... memories. sometimes

twenty-seven years. (one moment, an eternity --) so young. so old. half of his life. flown past. like dry leaves of autumn in the bitter wind of winter. turned to dust

But oh, how he's tried.

(tried too hard?) perhaps

Oh, how he's tried.

to laugh. in the sunlight. once more. to dance. feel. his hair. blowing. in the breeze. free. (emptiness = freedom?) to smile. for her. because she cares. he knows. he tries. (empty smiles. why not. she is happy.)

he tries. to let go of the past. (like himura) but

the past. will not. let go. of him. (himura knows nothing)

he wishes he could remember. his mother. too young. she had died. so his mind is blank -- her face. empty.

but he remembers. her song. her voice. soft and low and soothing. a quiet woman. (like her son -- cold?) but she is dead. the sound of silence. empty

and it really is better now. really. now. because there is no more pain. no more anger. no more grief. no more hate. and he smiles. sometimes (empty)

it makes her happy. all that matters. he always tries to make her happy. (is he happy?) even in his memories. always. he tried. because the sun should not cry. tears are the rain. not for the sun. not for shining wide jade eyes. he hates rain. he hates it. he hates the rain. (...) empty

he thinks, sometimes too. (often) of the woman. in the great cold mansion. fox -- fox = trickster. long black mane -- mantle of night. red lips -- blood. fire. (rain) a year. since he last saw her. but she is in aizu. far away.

three women. (past present and... future? no. no future. all in the past. he lets go.) there were more, he has known, in his life. but these Three... are different. Because he... (loved them) He doesn't know why.

he needs to let go. start over (too old)

they all say that. that's what they all tell him.

he knows they're right. (right?)

but

but i

I

All my life, I've been chasing a dream... wasted years, tossed away my heart, lost my soul for a dream that died and left me broken and now I have nothing and they tell me to let go and begin anew but I've forgotten, I've forgotten and when I try to remember I think of broken dreams and blood and rain and all I've ever lived for but everything I've ever lived for is nothing but a foolish dream that died and died and died and died but still I try and I try and I try and

Oh -- how I try

(worthless) empty

a monk came. just the other day. to the aoiya. begging. food, not money -- the monk would not take money. food = survival, money = temptation and greed, said the monk. he understood that too. (kanryuu = fool) it was one of the only things he had ever understood.

how many monks had fallen before his kodachi in the past? he wondered. monks = human. (funny?) he wasn't sure. had he ever met one before?

houshi-sama, i... would like to ask a question. never admit. you need help. (crazy) too proud.

you see, once. he had felt. pain. rage. sorrow. now, there is nothing. emptiness. (abnormal)

Nothing is everything. Everything is nothing. Though you think that there is nothing but emptiness, you are really overflowing.

(overflowing? with what? broken dreams and dying hopes and forgotten lives...)

what do you mean? too proud. to admit. he understands. (monks never kill. they know nothing.)

I... Sumimasen. I am not sure how to explain. he saw then. the monk. so young. he recognized. (himself?) I myself am only in training, and therefore I am not as well-versed as my Venerable Master. (monks = human) If you like, I can take you to him. He may be able to answer your questions, and even such an unworthy one as I can see that you have many questions you want answered. Or perhaps -- would you like to leave home as well? There are many of us.

leave home? he recognized. that boy. monk. old comrade? not Oniwaban. former enemy? everyone was one. or the other. anyways. but. this boy. monk. so young. too young. to have lived. and died. through the darkness. of the bakumatsu. (so he has. killed too?)

You could join us, and become a monk yourself. explaining.

silence.

what about you? curious. why did you choose leave home? (so young)

I... I fought in the Bakumatsu. And I have seen too much. (not so young?) And I... I too searched for answers.

silence. (emptiness?)

that was three days ago. the monks leave. tomorrow. their home. is in edo. tokyo now. twenty-seven years, he thinks. and all he's ever done. crumbled. into dust. long ago.

there is nothing left for him.

as long as there had been something left for him to do, he had never been empty...

but nothing now.

three choices: stay. leave. die. (once again)

why should he stay? if there is nothing. only one -- she will cry. if he leaves. again. but this time. she'll know. (he'll tell) before. and she'll understand. (maybe) because she's grown. she's old enough. to take care. of herself. of the old man. and to understand. he thinks. but she will cry. he knows. (don't they all?)

but he wants answers. he cannot find. she cannot give. nor can the old man. they want him. to let go. like everyone else. himura. saitou. the old man himself. (if they can. why can't he?)

he is not himura. he is not saitou. he is not okina. he is aoshi. and he is tired. of people. thinking they understand. making choices. for him. when all his life. they have forced. responsibility after responsibility after responsibility. on him. he has sacrificed. his whole life. and then. they tell him. to let go. (too late) and start over. (too late)

if he stays. he can already. predict his future. he will. expand business. take care. of the aoiya. (he doesn't care) and her. (he does care) let the old man. die happy. let her be happy. (he is not stupid. he knows. but what can he say? to her. when he. doesn't think. he feels. quite the same. what can he say? what can he say?) while he. himself. withers away. cold empty shell. empty (not like last time. when he knew. he could have stayed. and the men too. but he was stupid. and afraid. he is still stupid.)

he doesn't want. to die. because she will. find his body. he knows. and there is no honor. (running away = yoshinobu = coward) and the woman. in aizu. would laugh. (aoshi = hypocrite) and. the dead one. would be silent. (already silent)

so he will leave. empty

Oh, how he's tried

and the red leaves. they fall

owari

I started writing this miniseries of funky shots because I was getting sick of reading horribly two-dimensional (or else OOC) depictions of Aoshi, and I wanted to explore some facets of his personality that no one ever touches. I hate all the stupid stereotypes about him, especially the following two: he never talks (Read the manga! He has a lot of dialogue! Just because a person's not talkative doesn't mean he's mute!), and he never smiles (He does! It's a creepy smile, but he does!). Another characterization that bothers me is coldbastard!Aoshi. (I mean, come on. Go read/watch the end of the Tokyo arc or something.) One that often goes with coldbastard!Aoshi is the suddenlymeltingintoagushypassionateromantic!Aoshi. o.O (Because, you know, he really is just a complete sap deep inside, he's just too afraid to show it.) And I could go on into a looooong rant of other STUPID assumptions people make about him when they don't understand his character AT ALL, but I won't. Heck, even I don't understand him completely, and I actually resemble him quite a bit, personality-wise, which makes it easier for me to relate to him. (And who says Aoshi can't laugh and dance?... XD)

I'm thinking either "old man's regrets" or "outsider" will be out next. "old man's regrets" features Okina prominently and is the least weird of the miniseries, as well as a direct sequel to "drums", while "outsider" takes place only a little while after Jinchuu, so a few months before "drums". I guess it's sort of a prequel. "fly" is just completely, utterly, absolutely random. It's even weirder than "drums", imo, if that's even at all possible. XD "fly" takes place a little before Jinchuu, and is just a companion to the other pieces.

And WHOOHOO!!!! LoTR won Best Picture!!!!!! XD (Everybody celebrate!!!)