"Ends and Beginnings" Version 2.0
Disclaimer: Yoroiden-Samurai Troopers is copyright © Sunrise.
Author's Note: This was first posted over at Amanda Swiftgold's Ronin Warriors website a few years ago. However I decided to revamp it a bit and post it here. Hardcore YST fans will recognize the Ice Masho Toryuki from the Suikoden drama CD.
Mouri Shin checked his watch and realized how much time had passed. He'd sat on the park bench for nearly an hour as he watched the lone man over by the tiny frozen pond. Dressed in a warm coat, pants, boots, and mittens Shin was not worried about catching a cold any time soon.
The lone man, however, was dressed in a sleeveless black shirt and black slacks. His long, ink-black hair hung just above his hips with bits of snow clinging along the silk strands. His pale, flawless skin almost matched the color of the pure white snow that fell from the gloomy, gray December skies. His sharp blue eyes were fixed upon the surface of the frozen pond that sat before him.
It has to be him, Shin thought positively to himself. It's the same as it was when Ryo, Seiji, and I encountered him... But I thought he was dead! He died, didn't he?
Shin blinked and rubbed his eyes with the back of his mitten covered hand. Yet, as he opened his round blue eyes, he discovered that the man had vanished!
Rising to his feet, Shin quietly made his way to the spot where the mysterious man once stood. There were no footprints in any direction to indicate that he ran away. In fact, there were no footprints, besides his own, to indicate that the man had been standing there in the first place!
"Almost like a ghost," Shin whispered under his breath. "Could it really be him?"
"Not entirely," a deep voice spoke from behind.
Whirling around, Shin nearly fell backwards as he found the man standing before him. As he managed to catch his footing, the Samurai Trooper realized that the man was indeed who he speculated to be as he cried out.
"The Ice Masho... Toryuki?!"
"You've been watching me for a while now," the youja observed amusingly. "I'm not a ghost, as you say, but it is I."
Shin remained in place as he adjusted his mittens. "What are you doing here?" he asked gazed curiously at his former enemy. "I mean... I thought I defeated you back at the lake."
"You did beat me," remarked Toryuki, "and I did seem to die before you and your fellow Samurai Troopers. My element simply took me back into the deep abyss, where I slowly regained my energy."
"The water helped you recover?"
"That's right. Surprised to see me alive? I admit you are strong, Suiko, but don't let it get to your head. I still care about my home and how it will be affected by humans."
Shin turned away and suddenly felt guilty. He knew that all Toryuki wanted was to preserve his lands from destruction, and to be left alone. Though he was a youja, he was nothing like the late Arago; Toryuki was like Kenbukyou in a sense that both were not out for the destruction and annihilation of human kind. Toryuki's home was in the Ningenkai and like any protective homeowner, he didn't like trespassers on his property... especially humans who liked to pollute the nature around them.
"Is this where you live now?" Shin asked casually as Toryuki took spot place beside him.
The Ice Masho kneeled down and touched the pond's solid surface with his fingertips. Shin watched in awe as the youja's touch caused a rippling affect along the pond, as if the ice would shatter into its liquid state. He quickly glanced about to see if anybody else in the park noticed. Fortunately, there weren't too many people about, and those who were nearby didn't seem to notice anything out of the ordinary.
"I grew to love more than just my lake," Toryuki said as he drifted his eyes shut. "After I recovered from your attack, I realized that our battle was fated. You were to beat me if you were to beat Arago. If not, he would've taken over the Ningenkai, no matter if fellow youja were living here. He might've forced us to work for him and destroy our homes... I'm glad you beat me, Suiko, because it proved that you cared a great deal about this world."
Shin couldn't help but smile at his former nemesis. Suddenly, a tiny shrilled voice cried out from behind.
Toryuki rose to his feet at the sound of the child's voice. Shin turned around once more and watched as a little boy, no older than three years old, scrambled toward them. He had short black hair and sparkling blue eyes. He was dressed in a thick blue hooded sweater and matching pants and boots. Shin watched, dumbfounded, as the little boy ran into Toryuki's open arms.
"You are 'Papa'?" Shin asked, clearly surprised at the notion of the youja being a father to this human looking child.
Toryuki stood upright with the boy in his arms as he calmly glanced over at Shin. He blinked innocently and asked, "Why are you looking at me like that? Haven't you seen a human child before?"
"W-well, of course I have!" Shin stammered. Afterward, he couldn't help but chuckle behind one of his mittens. "Papa, huh?"
Toryuki nodded. "Yes."
The little boy held a part of Toryuki's shirt in a tight fist. He shyly observed Shin for a few moments before he buried his face into his father's shoulder. Toryuki smiled lovingly and patted the child's smooth black hair.
"This is Yuki," Toryuki introduced as he placed the child's hood over his head. Yuki rubbed his nose along Toryuki's shirt but still didn't look back at Shin.
The Samurai Trooper beamed and shoved his hands into his pockets. " 'Yuki' means 'snow', doesn't it? What a fitting name for a child who belongs to you," he teased. Suddenly, his tone changed into earnestness. "Is he aware of what you are?"
The youja faced the small body of frozen water once more and sighed deeply. "Not yet. I don't know how to tell him, but he will know eventually. He is a rare individual: one born of human and youja blood. When the time comes, however, I will show him the gifts he was given at birth. I will open his eyes further to the world of nature and its beauty."
Shin nodded in agreement as he shivered slightly at a cold wind that seemingly blew out of nowhere. "You're lucky to be given a second chance. I admit I thought you were admirable after our fight. "Your ray of hope really shone through."
"Three rays," Toryuki abruptly said. He looked at Shin and offered him a rare smile. "My wife, my son... and you. The strength of your armor and your friends aided you in our battle. You were fortunate."
Shin grinned, just as a petite woman cautiously approached them. She had short dark brown hair, soft brown eyes, and a gentle smile. She was dressed warmly and appropriately for the winter occasion. From the way she looked at Toryuki, eyes filled with love and fondness, Shin knew she was the youja's human beloved.
"I was getting worried about you," said the small woman as she stopped beside Toryuki and Yuki. She placed a tender gloved hand upon her husband's bare arm.
"Forgive me, Michi," Toryuki replied as he shifted Yuki in his arms. Apparently the boy was fast asleep. "I was catching up with an old... acquaintance of mine."
Michi blinked curiously "Acquaintance?"
Peeking past Toryuki, she spotted Shin and immediately, her face lit up. She moved around Toryuki and once she stood before Shin, she bowed deeply. Shin was taken aback by this gesture. Wordlessly, he returned the bow, unsure of what exactly was going on.
"You must have been the one Toryuki spoke of," said Michi as she stood upright with a kind, sincere smile upon her lovely face. "I can't thank you enough for what you've done for him."
"Well, I'm... It's a little difficult to say what I did for him," Shin admitted sheepishly. He rubbed the back of his head and added, "I thought I destroyed him, and thankfully I didn't, but...!"
"You needn't explain yourself," Toryuki interrupted as he took his place next to his tiny wife, their son still asleep in his arms. " I told her what happened."
"If it wasn't for what you've done to my husband," explained Michi, "we wouldn't be the way we are today. We thank you."
"Thank you for being with Toryuki and showing him human love and compassion," Shin replied softly. "Especially giving him the gift of a handsome-looking boy like Yuki-kun."
Husband and wife blushed as they turned and looked at each other. Shin lifted his head and watched as more snow began to fall from the skies above.
Everybody deserved new beginnings. Even when Shin and his friends thought their days as Samurai Troopers were over and done with, they eventually came back stronger than ever. The same could be said for the Ice Masho Toryuki. The power of the human spirit was clearer than ever.