Only Time


Himura Shinta walked alone. It was after school, so most of the kids his age were either at home doing homework or off at an arcade, a mall, a park, or some other fun place. He was nowhere. It was just a lonely, abandoned road, out of the way. No one ever went this way, and Shinta liked to explore ways no one ever went. He wasn't pretending to be Indiana Jones or suppressing excited giggles as he whispered to his comrades, but simply walking quietly alone on a dirt road through districts even the kids found boring. He walked, silently taking pleasure in his exploration, feeling the sad aura of the place. It would drive away most eight years olds, but Shinta had an odd fascination with melancholy places like this. There was a run down shack here or there, a building that maybe once held a thriving business, but no one still lived or did business there, it appeared.

There was an old movie theater, the box office empty and dusted with cobwebs. A sign said "Closed for Repairs," but Shinta guessed those repairs had never been done. Most of the places, if they had signs at all, had dismal ones like that, stating they were out of business or had moved on to more prosperous areas of town. Shinta kept walking, as he always did, and saw something that surprised him. An old dojo, perhaps in need of a repair or two, but at least clean, stood out as better kept than any building around. It must have shut down more recently than the rest. The sign still said "Open."

Shinta pushed the door open, seeing that this place was well-kept up, and though old, was in great condition. An entrepreneur might open up shop here tomorrow, if he or she didn't mind being surrounded by decay. That was what this street was doing- decaying, although this one building seemed to hold out against it quite well. Shinta explored, expecting as always to find the place empty, but thinking perhaps there were a few possessions left behind that would be of interest, would tell a story about the last humans to inhabit the place.

Shinta heard a muffled rustle of cloth and almost turned to go, but pressed on; it was probably only a rat anyway. He turned a corner into the room where he'd heard the noise, ready to leave if the place was indeed rat-infested, but found the source of the sound was not vermin, but a man. It was, as a matter of fact, a huge man. He must have been the biggest man Shinta had ever seen, including ones on TV. No one was that tall, and no one that wide unless they were extremely fat, but Shinta could tell this man and fat had very little to do with one another. He was all muscle. His pinky finger could probably beat Shinta up. His pinky finger could probably beat Shinta's dad up. Shinta froze on the spot, afraid to let the man know he had trespassed.

"Don't act so scared- the sign said 'Open.'" The man said in a deep, resounding voice without turning to look at Shinta. Shinta gathered his courage then, having been quasi-invited to approach. As he got over his fear and shock, he saw that the man was cleaning a traditional Japanese sword. It was nothing like the imitations made in modern times- it must have been ancient. An eight year old mind like Shinta's would not have been the least bit surprised to find the sword was magic, although in reality it was no such thing. It was simply a well-crafted weapon. Shinta thought of asking the man if he were the master of this dojo, but that struck him as a stupid question. Besides, if there was a person greater than the man before him, Shinta wasn't sure he wanted to meet that person. He stood silently and watched the man clean his sword, and when the man finished, he spoke.

"I am Seijurou Hiko the thirteenth, master of this place. Who are you?"

"I-I am Himura Shinta, sir."

"Shinta? What a wimpy name. Do you have a middle name?"

"Kenshin, sir,"

"That's better. Kenshin, do you want to become my student here?"

Shinta… or he guessed Kenshin, now… was shocked at so direct an offer. He would love to learn martial arts, but he'd have to ask his parents, and they'd have to see if they could afford it…

"I'm not sure my family could afford it, Sir," he replied, not wanting to refuse and make it look like he wasn't interested.

"There's no charge. Just come here tomorrow after school and your training will begin."

That was the first day of the rest of Kenshin's life.

Author's Notes

A veryshort prologue, I know, but promising, I think. I've done more planning on this than on any fic I've ever written, and I'm glad to get into writing it.

This story is going to encompass damn near Kenshin's whole life. You just saw him meet Hiko as a child of eight, and you will next see him as a teenager. He will progress through school into adulthood and on from there to the thirtyish Kenshin we know best. You'll see him turn forty and some beyond even that.

While I appreciate reviews no matter what they say, I prefer that you discuss the story with me. If you say it was good, tell me why it was good. If it was bad, what was bad about it? Did a particular word or phrase interest you? Did you find anything funny? Did the story remind you of anything? Want me to fix a grammar error? Is something confusing? Is there something you'd like to see me do, like make a particular character's feelings more clear, explain an event in more detail, or give info about a character's past? These are what I most like to hear, but I appreciate anything you want to tell me regarding the story.

And yes, the title is alluding to the Enya song.