YEARS

Greetings, dear reader! Though I've written fanfic before, this is the first one I've published. After watching the Seishouhen, my hopes and dreams for Kao and Ken were shattered, so I decided to go back to volume 28 and investigate. This tangent is pretty much pointless (as mentioned in the summary), but I tried my best to make it come to life in writing. Though the majority of the text is directly based on the 28th volume of manga, I fooled around with some things (like order of events) to make it flow better without the accompanying pictures. I advise that if you haven't read Jinchuu yet, don't read this story, because there's a lot of spoilers and it's much more exciting to read in the actual manga! I'm a new writer here, so constructive criticism is always welcome. Thank you!

DISCLAIMER: As always, I revere Watsuki-sensei, RK's wonderful creator, because, no, sadly RK isn't mine.

SUMMARY: A fairly pointless tangent concerning the tentative peace following Enishi's defeat. Volume 28, Acts 250 255 (Finale). SPOILERS!

. . . .

Y E A R S

1. One Week Later

"So, how's the investigation going?"

The small glass fusen chimed as a breeze flitted past. Summer was well underway, the noonday sun shining down from a pastel blue sky on Kamiya dojo and its occupants. Peace, in its way, had quietly settled over the dojo since the traumatic events of a week ago. Just a single week ago, life itself had seemingly been shattered after Kenshin's violent past had been revealed as it began to catch up with him. Yukishiro Enishi, his own brother-in-law, had murdered Kamiya Kaoru, the dojo's master, and Kenshin, broken, had disappeared.

"There is no change. Yukishiro Enishi is still missing." Aoshi, standing in the dojo's courtyard with Sanosuke, Misao, and Megumi, reported. "Even though he is nowhere to be found, the main objective of disabling the black market weapons organization has been achieved. However, the police are still looking for him as a matter of pride."

And yet—despite all evidence—Kaoru had lived, and Kenshin had rallied with his allies and defeated Enishi in battle. Kaoru was safe and sound, but Enishi had disappeared. Kenshin, however, finally seemed at peace within himself, and a tentative happiness was allowed to bloom in the aftermath of Enishi's disappearance. Now Enishi was the broken man.

"…Saitou Hajime," continued Aoshi, "says 'Yukishiro Enishi does not have the strength to kill a fly now. It's a waste of manpower to look for him.' and is planning to move to a new assignment."

It was the sort of thing Saitou would say. The tall, cynical man was merciless, but he was right, as usual. As a policeman, the cold justice of the Shinsengumi lived on in him and had no evidence of ever leaving.

"Maybe…" said Misao, who was eating her way through a large slice of watermelon, "He's already dead? He jumped into the sea trying to escape and drowned!"

Sanosuke spit out his share of watermelon seeds. "I don't really care, as long as he doesn't go crazy and attack us again."

"AAAARGH!!" Misao looked over her shoulder in alarm as the sliding door behind her was thrown open. "Why are you two eating our watermelon?!"

Yahiko, steaming and covered in bandages beneath his yukata, made his appearance. Looking very worried, Tsubame appeared a few seconds later, wearing the vertical red stripes of the Akabeko's kimono and a frilly apron. "You shouldn't move around yet!"

"Where's mine?!" he yelled, completely ignoring Tsubame.

"There's none left." said Misao, nonchalantly finishing off the last piece. "Why would there be?"

"WHAT?!"

"Please stay quiet…" pleaded Tsubame. "Your wounds will reopen…"

"You just woke up," chided Sanosuke, "And you're already being so loud."

Yahiko ceased his tirade for a moment. "Wait, where's Kenshin?"

"What are you talking about?"

"Himura and Kaoru-san went to Kyoto." said Misao through her mouthful of watermelon.

"Oh, yeah."

"Himura-san never ceases to amaze me." continued Misao, now indicating Yahiko. "This little guy—"

"SHUT UP!"

"—collapsed when we got back, but Himura's already out and about. He's a practitioner of Hiten Mitsurugi-ryuu, so he must be built differently."

Unnoticed by the lively party squabbling over the watermelon, Megumi watches them, worried.

That's not true. It's actually the opposite…

. . . .

I'm sorry. That was a pathetically short chapter, I know. Please bear with me; the next chapter will be longer and have lots of juicy Ken-Kao-Tomoe discussion. See you in chapter 2.