Enishi sat back frozen in the past, reliving moments that he had often relived before… but not with this point of view. In the depths of his mind he knew that he had been wrong the whole time, but it hurt. It hurt to think that his sister could love the person who killed her fiancée, it hurt that his sister likely hated him for the part he played all those years back in the snow… It had been a small part, but here in the slums of lost humanity, he had come to accept that his sister would never smile for him. Surrounded by sunlight and humid sticky air, all he felt was the biting cold, and all he saw was white, marred with the spreading stain of blood.
She laughed at him, laying deathly pale on the snow, all her color drained out beneath her turning the ground to a pinkish slush. Her empty eyes had smiled faintly then, as they did now, but behind that faint smile she was laughing. Enishi clenched his fists, his hands going white with the tension. He bowed his head over his shoulders and did something he hadn't done for years. He cried.
Kaoru walked out into the cold night air. She was restless; Kenshin had changed. He was tired, and he seemed to be catching up with his age. She sighed as she settled atop a hill looking out into the stars. Nothing was the same anymore, not that she wanted everything to be the same she corrected herself abruptly. Life was good without constant attacks by people from Kenshin's past, and the government likely wouldn't bother Kenshin anymore now.
Somehow it didn't quite seem like the end though, she thought absently. There was something that seemed unfinished as of yet. She paused in her thoughts, it still hadn't been explained to her what had happened while they had thought she was dead. The others had told her that Kenshin had fallen into a slump, and was impossible to talk to. He had eventually dragged himself out of it, but what sort of place was it where one could fall like that and other people would defend their silence at the cost of bodily harm.
It sounded intriguing to her, Rakuminmura, retreat for those without a life. Kaoru had a feeling that there was something she needed to find there.
Kaoru waved to Kenshin happily before taking off down the road. He hadn't questioned her when she packed a big box of food, actually asking for help, before leaving. He hadn't asked where she was going either, as she had gone out the door. She almost wished he had, but it was of no consequence now, she supposed.
After further hearing about Rakuminmora, she had come to the conclusion that if she brought some food with her, they'd be less likely to attack her, and perhaps they might even invite her in. She hoped so. She didn't know what she was looking for but she knew she'd find it there, whatever it was.
Arriving at the gates of the ramshackle town, she was amazed at the dilapidated look of everything, although she hadn't expected any differently. Standing in front of the entrance, she looked ahead once more only to find people almost literally crawling out of the woodwork. There were so many of them! She blinked and looked down at her box of food, afraid that she likely wouldn't have enough. She sighed, about to either turn around or say something, she wasn't quite sure, when someone spoke up.
"Have you come for the new one?" he asked. Kaoru looked up at the man's disheveled appearance, he looked sincere. What he said though was the same words that had been told to Yahiko. Did they mean to chase her away? Her fears were put to rest as he continued on, yet more questions were raised at the same time
"He's not one of us." The man said simply, as if he had read her unasked questions "He's too young, it's not his time." The man finished looking at Kaoru expectantly. A weak warbling voice spoke up in question afterwards.
"Have you come to help him?" it asked hopefully. "I had people once, and I outlived them," he spoke "But the boy looks like he hasn't a hope left in the world" Kaoru felt choked up at the thought of being alone. She knew what that was like once, and she would never wish that on anyone. At her silence and expression, other people felt allowed to speak up
"He just sits there, all the time" one said, "Like the man with the cross shaped scar did" He finished. Kaoru's head perked up at the mention of Kenshin.
"Yeh, and he eats food that you give him, but I don't think he really notices what he's doing" another finished.
"We'll let you in if you promise to help him" another demanded. A few of the, cheered at the suggestion, but then all grew quiet as they watched her, waiting for an answer. Kaoru stared at the ground. She wanted to help, but what if she couldn't. She frowned at herself and swallowed determinedly as she spoke in response.
"I'll try" she said firmly. "I promise that much" The men nodded; satisfied that she'd do all she could, moving aside for her to pass.
Kaoru strode forward and went as one of them had directed her afterwards. She figured that the first thing she would do is feed the boy, whoever he was, maybe find out what happened to him and his family or whatever the case may be. She turned around the corner and stopped abruptly as she gasped. It was not a young boy as she had been led to believe. It was Enishi!
Her surprise faded as she looked at him, she had to admit though, he looked broken, hands resting on his knees, as he dejectedly looked up at the sky, sightless. He looked at least five years younger than he likely was. Kaoru could feel her eyes tearing up, not with pity but with genuine remorse. The man who had kidnapped her less than four months earlier was gone, and in his place was a broken little boy.
As it was likely Kenshin that had caused this, she now felt more obligated than just by the promise she had made to help him. The whole time she was on the island with him he had been at least cordial with her, and never untoward. She sighed. It was likely her fault. She hadn't thought of Enishi as a person but just another obstacle between her and Kenshin. All she had been thinking about was escaping. She hadn't really considered Enishi as a person at all.
Then she recalled the whole battle between Enishi and Kenshin, realizing he had been screaming out in pain the whole time, everything he had to protect, everything he had to live for, taken away by Kenshin. She chewed on the side of her lip, wondering if perhaps she wouldn't be able to help him, if she'd only be making it worse. She shook her head at herself. She had to try, consequences be damned. She'd never forgive herself if she walked away now.
She closed the rest of the distance between them and kneeled besides him, looking at his face, only to find dried trails of tears there. She was tempted to wipe them away and gather him into her lap like she would a small child, but something warned her to be cautious as to how she went about doing this.
Opening the box that contained the food she had prepared for the occupants of this town, she looked at it, then up at him.
Enishi's snow-filled nightmares were changed by a taste that he could easily recognize. The stained slush faded to white walls, warm air and a girl in a bathrobe. He looked at her painfully; as yet another aspect of his past come back to him. She had nothing to do with his revenge, yet what had he done to her.
Kaoru watched as he ate her food mindlessly, they had been right about his withdrawn state. She didn't know if she could reach him. She looked at his face abruptly as he paused in the middle of eating. She could almost swear he mumbled something about it tasting bad, but the thought was forgotten as he said something more audible.
"Kaoru" she heard him whisper brokenly, much like she had often heard him whisper Tomoe's name in the silence of the night back on the Island. Kaoru was at a loss for what to do. She looked down at her hands and then back up at his face.
Right then, something inside her broke. A tear slid down Enishi's face, damp and heavy, falling down his chin and slowly down his neck. Kaoru forgot all of her misgivings and wiped the tears away, pulling his head to her lap. He didn't seem to realize any change, but relaxed almost imperceptibly. He cried there for an hour until he finally fell into a restless sleep.
Kaoru got up and placed him against the wall once again, using a blanket one of the residents had to cover him. It was best if she left him to sleep here for now, she thought to herself, still wondering what could possibly be running through his mind. She would come back tomorrow. And the next day, and the day after, hopefully she would be able to make a difference.She glanced back one last time before heading home to the dojo.