Disclaimer: I don't own Rurouni Kenshin.

Notes: I am currently pissed at ff.net because they ate my reviews. I can't read any that I've received since February 27th - I didn't even receive them in my email, even though my alert is turned on - and believe me, I am NOT HAPPY. Grrr. Hitomi. Is. Not. Happy. *kicks ff.net* Grr. GRR. GRRRR.

This is the sequel to "drums." Which you should probably read first, though it's not absolutely necessary. Both are part of a miniseries within a series within a series. Um. The miniseries is currently untitled, but it's part of "Fumimayou", which is a part of Shirakawa Yofune. (Yup, I finally decided to include it - See my profile for more details.)

All grammar errors are intentional, except when they're not.

~ old man's regrets ~

old man = fool

That is what he thinks, sometimes, when he looks at the cold shell of a man he once knew. But that was years ago, when {[cold man] - [darkness + anger + grief]} = {quiet + [serious/driven] + [boy/prodigy/genius]}.

He no longer knows the man, though he still knows the boy.

Sometimes he forgets and thinks boy = man. (man = boy?)

He just wants the boy (man) to be happy. Just as he wants the girl to be happy.

(old man = selfish?)

But the man (boy) is not happy.

(old man = fool, but old man != stupid)

It has been more than a year since the boy (man) returned. They had welcomed him back then, though he had betrayed them before, and almost killed them. (wonders: boy/man = guilty?) And the little girl ([little girl] - little = [little girl]: old man's mind thinks = [little forever]) had been so happy. (boy/man != happy. why? why not? ... old man != stupid)

He knows why the man (boy) is not happy. (really) Because {[boy prodigy] + responsibilities} = {leader - boy}, and {[leader - boy] - followers} = 0. He knows that. (old man = guilty?)

But it has been a year. More than a year. And {[boy/man] + friends + sunshine + love} should equal something more than zero. He knows this too because he has met Himura. And he has seen that {[Himura - Battousai] + friends + sunshine + love} = {[happy Himura] - regrets + [bittersweet memories]}, and bittersweet memories do no harm.

old man = fool, but [boy/man] = [bigger fool].

There are footsteps outside, approaching his room. Who? (boy/man. who else? why? why not? old man != stupid)

Come on in, Aoshi, he says. I have been expecting you. (damn monks. why did they come? why? why did they come?)

okina, says the boy/man. i am leaving. (why? why not?)

I know. (old man != stupid)

boy/man = surprised. Did he expect a different answer? Probably.

i... i am going to become a monk.

... I thought so. (a monk! of all things, why a monk? ... why not?)

boy/man = confused.

aren't you... going to stop me?

(yes!) Iya. It is your decision. (don't leave, baka!)

Silence. boy/man thinking?

But, he adds at last. Have you thought carefully over this, Aoshi? (pointless question: boy/man thinks carefully about everything.)

...

No answer. (unspoken accusations)

(old man = guilty?)

She will cry, you know.

...

No answer. (boy/man = guilty?)

Aoshi. Quietly. (gentle.) She loves you, you know. (old man's secret, foolish wishes. boy/man + [little girl] = happy. two birds in one stone, and old man can rest in peace. old man's wishful thinking. old man = naive. old man knows.)

...

No answer. (i know. i'm not blind, old man! i know she loves me. i'm not stupid. i know. i love her too. but not the way you want me to. not the way she thinks she does. i'm not stupid. i know. i love her. but...)

Think about it, Aoshi. Don't forget, we do care. He knows that boy/man knows that they care, but he says it anyway. He knows too that the girl doesn't really love him though she thinks she does and she does love him but still, what is love? (love != love) They can marry without loving each other, because they love each other anyways, and who knows? Love can develop from love, right? (right?)

(old man = selfish)

... i... i will stay. boy/man leaves the room. old man smiles though old man = guilty.

boy/man != happy

why? why not? ... old man != stupid

It's nothing, he whispers. Nothing, but a foolish old man's regrets.

owari

What's really scary is that I sometimes actually do think like this: Hitomi = stupid. (no, really.) [Hitomi - sleep] = !GOOD. (crazy)

^_^

Next up will be "outsider," which is sort of a prequel to both "drums" and "old man's regrets". Also planned is a companion piece called "paper cranes." (I was thinking about calling it "fly" but I changed my mind.) "paper cranes" takes place only a bit before Jinchuu. I might also write another sort-of sequel, taking place right before the cherry blossom story in the Kenshin Kaden artbook and before my other piece "Seiya no Kinen," but I don't really have a definite plan for it yet.

(Hitomi + reviews = happy)