It's been a while since I've finished anything.

So, I saw Sword of the Stranger for what seems to be the fifth time ever, and I decided to write a fanfic. It's short and it's split up into individual... scenes. Yeah.

Summary: What happened after the credits? I demand an epilogue!

Well, here's that epilogue. Hope you guys enjoy.

Disclaimer: I could never own such a magnificent anime.

Kotarou was a good kid.

Nanashi watched the boy's trembling hands wrap the bandage around his side. The tiny fingers brushed against his scars and tensed nervously, as if the puckered stripes were still fresh wounds. The ronin's eyes flickered down to where the little dog was licking insistently at his ankle.

"If you keep shivering like that, you'll make me bleed more," Nanashi said dryly. Kotarou gave him a glare, and the ronin shut his eyes. Snow was soaking into his trousers, numbing his legs and feet. The little dog had paused in his licking to lay his fluffy head on his front paws, staring plaintively at the coagulated blood on the ronin's ankle. Sometime before they'd stopped for the night, the bleeding had slowed. It would be hard for anyone to find them in the dense cover of the forest.

A snowflake landed on Nanashi's nose, and he lifted his hand to rub it away. Kotarou gave him an impatient look.

"You'll open your wound. Stop moving," the boy grumbled, though Nanashi could hardly take him seriously when his teeth were chattering so violently. "Tobimaru, I need another one." Kotarou held out his hand towards the little dog. Tobimaru didn't understand his master's exact words, but nonetheless, he stood and bounded over to the pack by the horse's side. Strips of fresh bandages trailed out of the bag, and the dog grabbed one to bring to Kotarou.

"Can I ask again why you must be the one to do this?" Nanashi inquired. His throat stung from the cold air, and he hissed the breeze in through his teeth as the boy began to wind a bandage around his ankle. "Careful."

"You're hurt," came the boy's simple answer. Nanashi sighed.

"What a stubborn boss," he muttered, grunting as Kotarou made the special effort to tie the bandage tightly on purpose. The boy rubbed his hands into the clean snow behind him.

"I'm hungry," Kotarou stated, sitting back on his heels. Nanashi flexed his hands, then felt along the clumsy wrappings on his side. "I wish we could've stopped at that village to eat, but you fell off."

"You act as if I meant to." The ronin couldn't help but chuckle. What a boss.

He was dozing again. Nanashi disliked when Kotarou dozed on the horse. Somehow, he always managed to do some sort of damage to himself.

The boy was hunched over, his chin pillowed on his own thin chest and his hands slackened in the horse's reins. Nanashi could feel the boy's heavy breathing through his back, and he wondered just how old this kid was. Children slept quite a bit, and Kotarou was no adult. Eight years old seemed to be pushing it.

"Hey," Nanashi said, nudging the boy. Kotarou didn't move. "Kid. Hey." The ronin slid his hand over the boy's face, checking for a fever. His forehead was a bit warmer than usual. "Great," Nanashi sighed, dropping his hand to take the reins. If the boy fell off, he wouldn't be able to catch himself like he usually did.

The ronin slowed the horse to a walk so that it was safe to have his hands free. Carefully, he slid his hands under the kid's arms and lifted, turning him. The boy's head lolled against his chest as he took up the reins once more.

"Better not be faking," Nanashi mumbled, nudging his heels into the horse's sides and bringing them back into a slow gallop. Kotarou pressed his face against the cloth of the ronin's shirt, whining something about the wind chill. "I can't do anything about that, kid." There came a more insistent whine. "What a troublesome boss."

Nanashi was rudely awoken when a small fist found its way into his nose. With a surprised grunt, he sat up, hand cupped over his bruised nostrils and his irritable eyes glaring down at the kid. Kotarou was thrashing about in his sleep, his usually stoic expression warped into a grimace. The little dog was whining and pawing miserably at his master while glancing up at Nanashi as if he were the cause.

"Nightmare?" the ronin wondered aloud, all thoughts of smothering the boy being replaced with curiosity. Kotarou whimpered loudly, then parted his lips in a terrified wail. Nanashi's eyes darted around the clearing, hoping that no one had heard the boy. "Hey, wake up," he hissed, prodding the boy in the side. Kotarou wailed again, drawing his arms over his face as if shielding himself. His face still burned from fever, and Nanashi became worried that the boy was going to push himself too far. "Kotarou!" he whispered fiercely, physically shaking the kid by his shoulders.


The ronin fell back with an audible 'oof!', holding his stomach and coughing air back into his lungs. Kotarou had just punched him. Punched him. With the impact, however, Kotarou had awakened, shaking and already calling for the ronin. Nanashi regained his correct resuscitation, leaning over with his hand clasping his stomach.

"Here," he panted, "I'm here, you violent boss." The boy made no hesitation in clambering over the ronin's legs to huddle against his chest. He was whimpering again. "The hell's your problem?"

"Shut up," Kotarou snapped through his shivers, his hands moving to clutch Nanashi's shirt. "Stay still. You'll open your w-wounds."

"I healed over at least two days ago," Nanashi reminded the kid begrudgingly. Kotarou stayed in his lap all the same, sobbing out his fear until he was unconscious once more. Without argument, Nanashi decided that it was safe to stay up for the rest of the night, well out of the boy's reach.

"You're a good kid."

Kotarou looked up from the rice pot with a questioning scowl. "What're you talking about?"

Nanashi shifted on the cold steps of the abandoned temple, his finger rhythmically running through Tobimaru's fur. The little dog dozed contentedly. "I mean, you're a good kid. You've got heart."

"I thought that doctor told you to take the medicine every six hours," the boy replied, stirring the rice with a shaved stick. His ragged hair fell into his eyes, marring his vision until it was brushed away by his free hand. Carefully, he sprinkled strips of fish into the pot. "Weren't you asleep?"

"The food woke me up."

"Hmph." Kotarou lifted the pot from the flames and deposited it onto the cool ground. A bowl of the fish porridge was slid over to the ronin. "Eat well."

"Thanks for the meal," Nanashi said before scooping the rice into his mouth with the makeshift chopsticks he'd been whittling before night fell. "This is good."

"Good," Kotarou said through a mouthful of hot food.

"Good kids make good food."

"We're leaving after this. Hurry up."

"Heh. What a boss." Nanashi smiled and flicked a stray grain of rice from the stairs, watching it tumble onto the sand below.


Nanashi seems a little out of character. Sorry. D: Review, please. Oh, and tell me if I should continue any of the scenes in a real fanfic. This was... a prototype of sorts.