I hope anyone who takes the time to read this will enjoy it.
Spoiler: This part has a bit taken from Manga Volume 2 or Anime Episodes 6 and 7. (Okay, so I try to be really dutiful in my spoiler notes even when they are probably not necessary.)
Acknowledgements: Please see notes at the end.
Kokoro - Heart, Mind and Soul
By Jade One
Time Frame: After Jin'eh, before Shishio.
The wind whipped the branches of trees, ripping loose leaves to be shredded in the air. The clouds raced over head, making the light from the moon flicker, creating dark shadows. But the windows of the house were tightly shut against the gathering storm and warm, golden lamp light spilled out, gently illuminating the houses grounds. But this was unnoticed by the owner.
Tani Juusanrou sat in his over stuffed western style
armchair. He couldn't move. It wasn't that he didn't want to move, it was
that he physically couldn't move. He couldn't even shout for help. His
short pudgy fingers dug deeply into the arm rests. It hurt but he couldn't
release his grip. His eyes were wide and his body was sweating and trembling.
His eyes looked around the room wildly as he recalled that the reports
he had just read, detailing attacks on other various government officials,
had stated that the attacks had started like this. There were no fatalities,
and the supposed 'victims' had reported afterwards only the memory of the
question, "Where is the Hitokiri Battousai?"
Attacks without damage, injury or death? He had dismissed the reports as the fanciful imaginings of the officials in the wake of that psycho Jin'eh's attacks. But, he struggled to breathe, not even Jin'eh's grip was this strong.
"Jin'eh?" the wind seemed to whisper. "Jin'eh was a baby compared to my level of power." It was definitely a voice this time, accompanied by a footfall. Behind him. Tani's iris' strained at the corners of his eyes, seeking to see the being behind him. "Still, I do not believe you could of evaded him by yourself. That you're alive implies you had help." The voice was soft, sweet. There was nothing threatening about it except the fact that it was there and was holding him tight. "But that is not my concern."
Tani's thought's swirled like the leaves in the wind. "What? Who?" his mind screamed. Who is this man, that he dismisses Jin'eh with such a note of contempt?
"Ah?" the voice held confusion. "Oh, you have my apologies Tani Juusanrou. I have been extremely rude. I know who you are but you do not know me. Allow me to introduce myself." The man did not move from his position. "My name is Niijima Akihisa of..." he paused. "Of a School you have never heard of and could never understand, even though you are feeling the effects of its teachings.
"Now that you know who I am, I can tell you why I have come. I am looking for someone Tani. And you, who survived the revolution and wars as a member of the Choushu Ishinshishi, may hold the answer to my question. Where is the Hitokiri Battousai? Where is the user of Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu?" The voice hissed and Tani could feel the figure leaning down over him from behind, feel the gentle tickle of air across his ear with the question.
Hitokiri Battousai...? A memory... A sword descending in a shining arc, terror clutching his heart, and the thought, Ishin's not worth this. A loud clash, and a slender figure stood before him, between him and his blue coated attackers, head slightly turned towards him. The sword was whipped diagonally across his protectors body, blood splattered on to the ground, its distinct sound muffled by the slump of the body of the one who had sought to take his life. A cold voice questioned and ordered "Are you injured? I will handle them, return to safety." The gleam of a yellow eye, turning away, the flow of long red hair, held high.
"Very good, Tani... But that was the past. I am interested in the present." The person moved around the chair, coming to stand before him, leaning over, hand resting on Tani's shoulders. Tani could see the person holding him. The Bakumatsu, Jin'eh, none of these had made him feel so cold as this individual did. The man was tall and of a medium build. He carried a diasho and wore a long tan manto, which concealed light armour. The clothe beneath was of a fine weave and intricately patterned. His calf length boots were soft and made no sound against the tiled floor unless he choose otherwise. His hair was long and hung in thick locks to the middle of his back. An earring adorned each ear. He was both an imposing and handsome man. But his lips were curled in a some what sardonic smile and his eyes...
Tani looked into the eyes, just inches from his own and was lost in the darkness. The voice repeated, lips moving sensuously with the motion of speech, still soft, still gentle, but more insistent. "Where is the Hitokiri Battousai?"
Memory... The door had moved, and a slight figure had come through it. He spoke softly, confirming the words just spoken and adding his own. He looked innocent, his eyes wide, yet he always did know exactly what to say for the maximum effect.
"Where is the Hitokiri Battousai?"
Memory... The whistle of the police, the sound of the window thrown open and the deep single chime of the clock. He remembered. The arrogance of the men who had sworn to protect him and the calm presence of the Battousai. The blood and Jin'eh's laugh. The count, the disappointment of the assassins voice, a growled order, the charge, the blood and the fall of bodies. It was then that Jin'eh struck. The terror of your body no longer yours to command. The clash of sounds, the scent of blood, of death. The words, the challenge and the assassins eyes fell on him. His charge and the thought of death. The shattered blade and statue. The scent of blood and the clash of swords. The challenge and the assassin was gone. A body free once again.
"I could almost believe that you are protecting him, but you are not that type of man. No, Tani, you are grasping, small minded and petty. But you have just enough intelligence to realize the importance of the Hitokiri Battousai, and to know the power it would give you, to have him after ten years missing. So where is the Hitokiri Battousai? You know where he is, you can not hide that fact from me. Where is the Hitokiri Battousai?"
Two figures knelt facing each other in the darkness.
A storm was gathering outside. "It has begun." The elder spoke.
"Aa. I felt it also Shishou. Should we move now?"
"Uun. We have time yet to keep this contained. There are forces moving beyond his control. He will have to wait for them to pass before he can act."
"Iya. Niijima Akihisa is my mistake, my shame. The others need never know."
The younger man sighed. He had had this argument many times before. It was not his master's fault. "As you wish, Shishou." He inclined his head, respectfully, preparing to leave his master to his meditation.
"However, we should find but not contact, those who hold the power equal to our own. We will need them if we can not stop Akihisa alone."
"Hai. I will see to it immediately." The voice brightened as the man rose, bowing once again before leaving.
The old man sighed after the younger had left. "Akihisa is my shame, my pride, Masujiro-kun. And I pray we do not need those your search will find..."
End Part 1
1. Thank you to Tatsuko for helping to create the names of some fighting schools, even though they are not mentioned yet!
2. Thank you to Serizawa Kamo, Tatsuko and Sarah Williams for giving me the translations of those words I asked for. Thank you also to Elizabeth, Larraine Lage, Serizawa Kamo (again) and Sarah Williams for answering the other question on Kaoru. It will become clear in the next part.
3. Thank you to P. Rico for asking about Japanese names just as I was about to and to Tatsuko (again), Reform School Girl (Julie Anna) and Madam Hydra for responding with such wonderful suggestions. (Anyone think I should just create a shrine to Tatsuko?)
4. My apologies in advance since this fic will take some time to get started but I hope it will be worth it in the end.
I think that's enough notes otherwise they will end up longer than the fic. C&C is always appreciated!