So here's the epilogue. Thank you so much to everyone who read and reviewed this story. I must say that it is one my favorites of the ones I've written. Please don't forget to review for this chapter as well.
Epilogue: Times Of Peace
Epilogue: Times Of Peace
"Oh, stop it, Tsutomu." Katsumi giggled as she pushed playfully on her husband's shoulder. "You act as if your father is some horrid beast, you know that?"
"I only act that way because he is one."
"Your father is a pushover." She leaned into him and blew his few thin bangs briefly away from his face. She giggled again as he stiffened and blinked at her several times. "Just like you," she said as she poked him in the chest. "Neither of you are really as scary as you think you are."
"I'll show you scary," he growled as he wrapped his arms around her.
"Please, I'll laugh myself sick." He growled again as he placed kisses along her neck. "We'll be late for the party! Momma's gonna get all upset and if she does then Daddy will too and I know you don't want to deal with him today."
"Your father? Now that man's a pushover if there ever was one."
"And you're still afraid of him," she said with a confident nod as she stood and straitened her kimono.
"And rightly so. He was the Hitokiri Battosai."
"Was, Tsutomu, was. He doesn't kill anymore, you know that. How many times have we had this discussion?"
"It still doesn't change the fact that he was once and he still possesses those skills. Besides, it doesn't hurt to tread carefully around the father-in-law that has never accepted you."
"What makes you think that? Daddy loves you!"
"That's what he says, but inside he hates me."
"What reason could you possibly concoct in that stupid little brain of yours to think that my father hates you?"
"Because of my father."
"Here we go again."
"No, seriously, think about it. His daughter married his arch-enemy's son."
"And he doesn't care! Daddy and your father are . . . well, they're not exactly friends, but it's not like they still try to kill each other on a daily basis."
"But they used to and old habits die hard."
"You sure this is my father, we're talking about, not yours?" He nodded. "Because for some reason I seem to remember that Daddy was rather excited when we told him about the engagement whereas your father went out and got so drunk he had a hangover for two days."
"That's beside the point."
"Is it now?"
"Hai. Now can we please go before we're late?"
"Akiko!" The two girls rushed to each other and hugged tightly. "I missed you!"
"Me, too! How was your trip?"
"Wonderful!" Katsumi let go of Akiko and wrapped her arms around her brother. "Hi, Kenji!"
"Hello to you, too." Kenji reached one hand behind Katsumi's back and her husband took it in his large one. "Tsutomu."
"Kenji," he said with a nod. "How are you?"
Kenji managed to break free of his sister's grip. "Just fine."
"Where are your brats?"
Kenji smiled. "Mother and Father are watching them today. Where's Tokutaro?"
"We had planned to take him on our trip with us but my mother kidnapped him. My parents are bringing him with them."
Kenji laughed. They opened the gate into the dojo and walked inside. Katsumi and Akiko went off to find Kaoru and Misao, leaving their husbands at the gate. "I'm sure Tokutaro will be happy to see you when he gets here."
Tsutomu pointed off to Kenji's left. "Speaking of . . ."
"DADDY!" Two identical squeals resonated through the yard as the five year old twins ran to their father. They tackled him, knocking him to the ground with an "Oomph."
"Keitaro, Akeno, where is your grandfather?"
"He's in the garden," one of the redheads said.
"Yeah, he said you were here," said the other. "Did you miss us?"
Kenji smiled before kissing each of his son's on top of their head. "Of course I missed you, but I've only been gone for a few hours." He was able to get out from underneath his children and stand. They each took one of his hands. "Let's go find your grandfather, okay?"
"Okay!" they said together.
"Are you coming, Tsutomu?"
"Um, no, I need to ask your mother something."
"Hey, where is everyone?" Sano said as he and Megumi walked through the gate with Sozo right behind them.
"Probably in the kitchen trying to conjure up enough food to feed you and your son."
"Aw, come on, Mom," Sozo said as he hugged her. "I don't eat nearly as much as Dad or Uncle Yahiko."
"Speaking of Uncle Yahiko, do you think they're here yet?"
"Oh, anxious to see Chiyo are we?" Sano said, teasing his son.
"Shut up, Dad!"
"Oh, come off it. We all know you're going to propose soon. Just get it over with."
"Mom, make him stop!"
"Don't whine, Sozo. Now calm down, your face is as red as your father's bandana." She turned to her husband. "Leave him alone. Sozo, go find Kenji."
"Hai, Mother," he said before kissing her on the cheek and leaving them.
"You coddle him too much."
"And you tease too much."
"What can I say, it's my nature."
"And it'll be my nature to poison all that food I feed you if you don't do as I say."
"Woman, I'm your husband and you obey me."
"Are you still not over Maeko getting married?"
"What's that got to do with anything?"
"You only started harassing Sozo about Chiyo once Maeko got married."
"Yeah, well, I just wasn't ready."
"Daddy's little girl is all grown up and he's jealous. How cute."
"Yeah, well, she got married to old ice-block's son. How can he be a good match for her?" Sano had an ugly look on his face when he said this.
"Because he acts more like his mother than his father."
"I still don't like it."
"Don't like what, Daddy?"
Sano's face immediately lit up. "Maeko! You're here!" He said as he pulled her into his arms.
"Hai, Daddy, but can you let me go—I've grown rather fond of this thing called breathing."
He dropped his arms with a sheepish look on his face. "Sorry, baby." She swatted him on the shoulder before hugging her mother.
"Sagara-san," Mikio said as he bowed to Sano.
"Daddy, be nice."
"I'm always nice."
"It's fine, Maeko. I'll win him over someday."
Sano gave him a look that said "I seriously doubt that."
Mikio smiled, clearly not affected by his father-in-law's lack of affection. "Do you know if Akiko is here yet?"
Sano pointed across the yard. "I just saw her chasing Akeno. Or maybe it was Keitaro. It might have even been Tokutaro." He threw his hands up in frustration. "I don't know which one it was but she was chasing a mini-Kenshin that way."
"MOMMY!" Tokutaro yelled as he ran entered the room before throwing himself in her lap.
"I missed you, too!" Katsumi said as she hugged her son. She stood and turned to where her in-laws were standing at the entrance to the room as Tokutaro ran to where his other grandmother sat. "Saito-san," she said with a bow in their direction.
Tokio laughed before walking into the room and hugging her. "No need to be so formal, dear."
Katsumi laughed as well. "Was he any trouble?"
"No more than Tsutomu was when he was younger."
"That's not quite the answer I was looking for."
Tokio laughed again. "Well, if you must know I could hardly keep him away from Hajime. They almost burned the house down once."
Katsumi gaped open mouthed at the tall man standing beside Tokio. "You didn't!"
"So what if we did? It's my house; I can set it on fire if I want."
"Well give the rest of us an advance warning the next time you decide to. I don't want to be anywhere near your wife when you do that."
"Hmph. Girl, where is your father?"
"He was in the garden, but Akiko said that Keitaro and Akeno were playing with him so who knows what condition he's in. Tsutomu went to find Kenji a few minutes ago. I'm sure they're all together."
"Very well." He turned to leave the room, but stopped at the door. "Tokutaro, come. It isn't good for you to be around so many women."
"Hai!" The red-haired six year old jumped up and grabbed his grandfather's gloved hand before the exiting the room with him
Katsumi and Tokio sat down, joining Kaoru, Misao, Akiko, Megumi, and Maeko. Katsumi turned to Tokio. "Your husband thinks he's so tuff."
"Oh, you should have seen him this week. He spoils your son worse than I ever could."
"Nowhere nearly as bad as my father, I hope?"
Kaoru laughed. "Katsumi, I don't think that's possible."
"You're just as bad, Mom."
"I know, but it's my privilege as a grandmother."
"Your mother's right, Katsumi. Look at the way Aoshi behaves with your nephews," Misao said.
"Now that's a funny sight." Megumi laughed before turning to her daughter. "You're married now and I want grandchildren of my own." Maeko blushed silently.
"Hai, I won't complain about receiving more."
Akiko joined Maeko in blushing at her Misao's comment. "Well, Mother, think you can wait five more months?" Misao and Kaoru looked at her. "I'm pregnant!"
Kaoru and Misao squealed and hugged her tightly. "Finally!" Kaoru said.
Akiko giggled. "I'm just glad its not twins again. I was already showing by now with Keitaro and Akeno."
"Well it does run on your father's side of the family."
"I know, but it's exhausting."
"Tell me about it. You and your brother gave me no peace."
Kaoru noticed her daughter's face fall. "Katsumi, are you alright?"
Katsumi quickly put on a fake smile, another trait inherited from her father. "I'm fine, Mom."
Akiko hugged her sister-in-law. "Oh, Katsumi, I'm sorry. I forgot."
"Why are you sorry? It's not your fault I can't have any more children."
"But it was still inconsiderate of me."
"Stop it. This is a happy time and I won't ruin it."
"I didn't say you couldn't have any more children," Megumi said. "I said you and Tsutomu should just remember the damage that happened to your body from your first pregnancy. It's not that you can't have another baby, you should just consider the risks."
"Which is as good as saying that I shouldn't."
"No, Mother. This discussion is over." She turned to where Maeko was sitting, staring at the floor and playing with your hands awkwardly. "What's wrong, Maeko?"
She looked up at her friend with wide eyes. "Huh? Oh, um, nothing?"
"Don't give me that."
"Oh, well, um, I don't know if Mikio wants anyone to know yet, but I'm pregnant, too." She smiled sheepishly and was tackled by her mother.
"Oh, I'm so happy!"
"I'm glad you are because Daddy's going to throw a fit when we tell him."
"He'll get over it."
"Sano still doesn't like Mikio," Misao asked with a hurt face.
"Oh, he likes Mikio just fine. He's just an overprotective father who lost his little girl before he was ready to let go."
"Are you happy, too, Misao-san?"
She hugged her daughter-in-law. "Am I happy? I'm ecstatic! I'm getting two more grandchildren, why shouldn't I be happy?"
"I'm happy for you as well, Maeko," Katsumi said with a genuine smile on her face.
Akiko gave her sister-in-law a playfully push. "How come I didn't get a smile?"
"Because your kids going to look exactly like your other two and mine. We need some variety."
Megumi laughed with Kaoru and Misao. "Sano was saying earlier how he couldn't tell all the mini-Kenshins apart. You and Tsutomu should have another baby just to confuse him more."
Kaoru hugged her daughter. "I really wish you would try again." She turned to her doctor friend. "How dangerous is it for her?"
"If we're careful and she takes it easy for the entire pregnancy then there shouldn't be any problems."
"Katsumi, listen to your mother. You really should try again. Hajime and I would love another grandchild to spoil," Tokio interrupted.
"What about Eiji's kids?"
"We treat them as our own, but it's just not the same." She smiled at the younger woman. "And I know for a fact that even though Tsutomu won't say anything, he would love another child."
"I know he would. And I do want Tokutaro to have a brother or sister."
"Then try again, whenever you're ready."
"Yeah, but can you three try for girls this time? We've got enough men to take care of already," Kaoru said.
Just then the shoji slid open and Tsubame and Chiyo stepped inside. "We're here," Tsubame said with a smile as she sat next to Kaoru. Chiyo crossed the room to sit silently by Maeko.
Kaoru hugged her friend. "Where are Yahiko and Shinya?"
"In the yard with the rest of the men. They wanted me to ask what time we're eating."
"Whenever Tae gets here with the food. They can wait." They both giggled. "Who all is out there and what are they doing?"
"Well, Kenshin and Hiko were playing with Akeno, Keitaro, and Tokutaro."
"Hiko showed up?"
"Yeah, he got here just before we did. Um, Saito and Sano were arguing about something and Sozo and Tsutomu were watching. Aoshi was talking to Mikio and Kenji."
Sano was standing next to Kenshin who had recently broken up the fight between him and Saito. Saito took out a cigarette and lit it. Tsutomu and Kenji watched as their sons attacked Hiko.
"Come on, Shinya, don't be so shy," Yahiko said as his young son stood behind him.
"No thanks, Dad."
"Hey, Shinya," Sozo said. "Come see for a sec."
He looked to his father who nodded. "Alright," he said before walking towards his friend.
Yahiko shook his head and Aoshi asked him what was wrong. "He's too much like his mother. Chiyo's shy, too, but not nearly as much as he is."
"I hear form Mikio that Chiyo and Sozo have a romance blossoming."
Sano had escaped from Kenshin to greet Yahiko. "Yeah, he should be proposing any day now."
"It's good to see you, too, Sanosuke."
"You too, brat. Aoshi." Sano nodded to the taller man.
"Sagara why were you so set against our children getting married?"
"Doesn't anyone else think it's weird that all our kids hooked up together?"
"We don't choose who we fall in love with, Sano," Kenshin said as he placed his hand on his friend's shoulder. One of the twins walked over to him and tugged on his hakama, causing Kenshin to bend down and scoop the smaller redhead into his arms.
"I guess not." Sano tousled the child's hair. "We better be careful or Japan's gonna be full of redheads before too long." He and Kenshin laughed. "I guess if you're okay with Katsumi marrying Tsutomu then I've got no reason to hold a grudge with Mikio."
"Who said I was okay with sharing my son with Battosai's daughter?"
"Oh, come off it, Saito," Sano snapped at him. "Who else's daughter would have been a worthy match for your son?"
Tokutaro wrapped his small arms around his taller grandfather's legs. Saito stared down at him before answering. "I have no problems with Katsumi, she's a smart girl. It's having my grandson resemble Battosai that I can't stand."
"You can't stand me, Grandpa?" the boy around his legs asked.
Saito picked him up. "No, I can't stand your other grandfather."
"Why? I love Papa. You should, too."
The other men had joined them now. Kenji's other son was perched on Hiko's shoulder, towering above everybody. "Baka deshi, how many more of these things are there going to be," he said pointing at the boy on his shoulder.
"According to Kenji, Akiko is pregnant again, so at least one."
Aoshi turned to Kenji, shock on his normally stoic face. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"I just told my father not ten minutes ago. We just found out last week and planned on telling everyone today."
"Oh." Aoshi noticed his son was fidgeting nervously. "What is it, Mikio?"
Mikio stepped closer to his father before answering. "Maeko's pregnant, too."
"WHAT?" Sano roared, an enormous grin on his face. Mikio tried to duck behind his father but Sano was faster and pulled him into a tight hug. "I'm gonna be a grandfather!"
"You're not mad?"
"Why would you think that?"
"Sano, you're strange," Yahiko said as he let go of Mikio.
"Congratulations, Aoshi," Kenshin said.
"Dad?" Mikio looked into his father's face, waiting for approval.
"Well it's about time, son. Your sister is keeping the twins here in Tokyo and your mother and I have been waiting for this so we can have some new blood at the Aoiya. Sorry, Sagara."
"Aw, Megumi'll make enough excuses to come visit." He wrapped his arm around his son. "Besides Sozo here will be getting married soon enough and he'll be staying in Tokyo if he knows what's good for him."
Sozo blushed. "Dad!"
"So when are you planning on marrying my daughter?"
"Um, I was planning on proposing tonight."
"Bout time," Yahiko and Sano said in unison.
They all laughed.
"What's so funny?" Kaoru asked as she rounded the corner. Kenji took his son from his father's arms so he could go to his mother.
"Nothing." He wrapped his arms around her and kissed her cheek.
"Like I believe that. I just wanted to let you know that Tae has arrived with the food."
"Get the boys washed up before we eat," she said before turning around and leaving them.
I hope that you were entertained. I felt like I could have kept going with this forever. I might revisit it someday and do a sequel. I've got to finish my other stories first.
I do hope that everyone liked my interpretation of how all the children would have acted and I just thought it would be fun if all the Kenshingumi's kids got together. For those of you that would like to flame my pairings, please do. Also, I know that a lot of the dialogue was convienent and I hope that you will forgive me.
Please review and tell me if you liked the ending.