~Reverse / Rebirth~
An Enishi x Kaoru fiction
Synopsis: Four years after the end of Jinchuu, Yukishiro Enishi is unable to comprehend why his deceased sister, Tomoe, continues to frown upon him. A chance encounter with Kamiya Kaoru at Tomoe's gravesite may provide the remedy to allow his sister to smile once more.
Standard disclaimers apply.
Chapter 1: Reappearances
It had been four years since he had last set foot in Kyoto, but those years felt like decades. The city had not changed much, but he certainly had. As he walked down the road, people's eyes followed his path, their whispers of "foreigner", "he has a sword", "wonder who he's visiting with those flowers" trailing him as he brushed past. However, he paid the villagers no mind, too lost in his own thoughts to care. His eyes scanned the area as he searched for his destination, finally locating it to his left and heading in that direction.
Yukishiro Enishi stopped in the gateway of the cemetery, his expression hidden behind his circular sunglasses. In one hand, he clutched the broken remains of his watou; the other held a bouquet of white chrysanthemums. The wind ruffled Enishi's snow-white hair as he slowly made his way to her, his dearest sister.
After four years of trying to create a new life away from crime, away from the Chinese syndicates who wanted nothing more than to have his head for abandoning his position as one of its most dangerous and respected leaders, he felt that it was finally time to confront his sister face-to-face. He knelt in front of her tombstone and tenderly placed the bouquet against its base, observing a moment of silence before he opened his mouth to speak.
"Tomoe… beloved sister..." Enishi began slowly, removing his sunglasses and laying them at his feet. He stared at the kanji engraved on the slate in front of him, turquoise eyes laden with sorrow. "Four years ago…when I last visited you here, I was a man possessed by rage, hatred, and vengeance. You smiled for me at my lowest points, and without you, I could not have made it this far." Enishi paused, moving a hand to pick up his sister's hairpin. He was unsure as to how it made its way there, but he had his suspicions, most of them centering on an elderly face wrinkled with gentle laughter and wisdom. At the moment, Enishi did not care; he was glad that there was something tangible to represent her. A tear coursed its way down his cheek, leaving a small dark stain on the ground as it landed.
"Dear sister… Right now is the time that I need you most, and yet you still do not smile for me…" Enishi continued hoarsely, his voice cracking under the weight of his despair. "Tomoe…" He brandished the remnants of his watou, aiming it almost accusatorily at Tomoe's gravestone. "I ceased my descent into complete insanity when you did not smile during the final battle of Jinchuu; when the decisive strike would have been made, your expression showed no joy." Enishi's expression softened considerably as he kept speaking. "I offer this to you as a sign that I am not the man that I once was, and that I will never return to that path again."
With his spoken vow, he plunged the broken watou into the ground beside Tomoe's grave marker. An image of Tomoe appeared before him then, and he was surprised to find that her gaze, while no longer burdened with sadness, was still not quite pleased with him. Enishi gaped at her specter, unable to comprehend what he was doing wrong. The unadulterated shock and confusion on his face readily gave way to a deep-seated anguish that made him want to wail until it shook the heavens. Instead, Enishi lowered his head, his body shaking with suppressed emotion as silent tears streamed down his face.
"So that is how it shall be, sister… I reach out to you and you do nothing for me," he said after a while, lifting his head and chuckling bitterly. "Why? What will it take to please you…? What do I have to do to –" Enishi abruptly stopped and stiffened as he sensed the presence of another person. It was familiar, and yet he could not turn away from Tomoe and risk exposing his current state of weakness. As the person got closer, Enishi's eyes widened as realization dawned on him. It couldn't be…!
"E-Enishi?" a soft feminine voice inquired hesitantly behind him. At the sound of his name tumbling uncertainly from her lips, Enishi forgot his prior resolve and whirled around, facing none other than his former captive. Tomoe's apparition slowly dissolved into nothingness as Enishi focused on the very real woman before him.
"Kamiya…" he whispered breathlessly, stunned beyond reason. The surprise on Kaoru's face surely must have mirrored his own. Even more astonishing was that she was holding a bouquet exactly like the one that Enishi had laid on Tomoe's grave.
"Ah… h-hello," Kaoru managed to respond, her cheeks burning with embarrassment. She couldn't believe that she would see him ever again, much less so soon after the entire Jinchuu ordeal. Instinctively, Kaoru clutched the bouquet of flowers she held a little tighter. Noticing the chrysanthemums already at Tomoe's grave, she smiled nervously and added, "Oh, you already brought flowers. I guess these would be too much. Sorry to intrude on your personal time with your sister…" With those words, Kaoru quickly bowed and turned on her heel.
"Wait." Enishi quickly rose, unsure as to why he was doing so. He just felt that he needed to stop her. Kaoru made no indication that she would walk away, but she did not turn around either. "… You may lay them here," he added tentatively. Kaoru turned slowly, her eyes wide with amazement. Sapphire met turquoise as she tried to understand what was happening. Enishi was the first to look away, trying to maintain some sense of composure. He bent down to pick up his sunglasses and replaced them on his face, relishing in the guard that they offered to his expression.
"…You've changed, Enishi," Kaoru said gently, an understanding smile crossing her features. At that, his expression hardened and he managed to glare at her.
"That doesn't mean I cannot harm you. Do not test me, Kamiya," Enishi retorted automatically. Kaoru only smiled in response as she turned to fully face him. Without saying anything more, she laid the flowers that she had brought by Enishi's own, knelt down, and closed her eyes in prayer. Enishi's expression softened as he watched her, mentally reliving the time she was under his watchful, if not somewhat hostile care.
The time where he lived as a man obsessed felt so long ago. Ten years of his life virtually flushed down the drain, all under the idea that he was avenging his sister's death, finishing the job that he thought she could not complete by chasing after Himura Kenshin, the legendary Hitokiri Battousai. This man, who Enishi thought his sister loathed for taking away Tomoe's first happiness, had unknowingly replaced it with another. She loved him, and, although it would not deter Enishi from hating Himura Kenshin, he could at least respect it, if anything else.
Kaoru's sudden movement caught Enishi's attention as she slowly stood, dusting off her purple kimono as she did so. He quickly steeled his features into a cold mask of indifference before she could see any more vulnerability in him. It was bad enough that she had caught him off guard earlier; he would not make the same mistake twice. Kaoru turned to him once more, then bowed deeply. "Thank you," she murmured, her voice nearly inaudible.
"I did nothing deserving of your thanks, Kamiya," Enishi replied sullenly, glancing at his sister's grave. It was true, she had no reason to thank him; after all, he kidnapped her, treated her harshly, and generally caused her a great deal of grief.
"You let me come to talk to you sister without killing me," Kaoru answered gently, straightening and tucking a lock of hair behind her ear. "I think that definitely calls for some degree of appreciation." Enishi furrowed his eyebrows. He was unsure as to how to respond to her gratitude; it was foreign to hear such words from anyone. Kamiya Kaoru was the last person he expected to hear that type of expression from. Instead of worrying about that, Enishi decided to ask one of the questions that had been plaguing his mind ever since she arrived.
"Why are you here?" he asked bluntly. Kaoru frowned.
"I came to pay my respects, obviously. I have just as much right to be here as you, Enishi," she huffed, somewhat annoyed at his tone. "Don't worry, I'm not staying any longer." As Kaoru began to walk away, Enishi knelt down once more by his sister's grave, his bangs creating a shadow over his eyes.
"Why is he not here with you?" he asked suddenly, knowing that Kaoru was still within earshot. She tensed then, and he realized that he had somehow struck a nerve. Curiosity caused Enishi to chance a glance at her, and he noticed that Kaoru hesitated for the briefest of moments.
"Girl talk," she responded finally. Enishi raised an eyebrow. Her failed attempt at a joke covered her true feelings. Gauging from Kaoru's reaction to his words, she was lying terribly and she knew that he knew it.
"Why is he not here with you, Kamiya?" Enishi questioned once more, his tone softer. "Of all people, he should be here visiting my sister." A latent rage threatened to push its way to the forefront of his emotions at the thought of his hated brother-in-law, and it would have were it not for the words that Kaoru spoke next.
"Kenshin…he…he is dead to me."
Watou – Enishi's weapon of choice during the Jinchuu arc. The description best fits that of the wodao: "a Chinese sword influenced by Japanese design, it bears a resemblance to a tachi or odachi in form" (taken from Wikipedia after double-checking other sources).
Author's Note: Huh. This looked a lot longer in MS Word. Anyway. Enishi may seem a bit out of character, and I'm sorry for that. My reasoning is that he's still trying to realize his true character – one whose actions aren't determined / motivated by revenge. Please bear with me, and I hope you enjoy the chapters to come. Feedback, particularly constructive criticism, is greatly appreciated.