It was a Saturday and Tomoe need not teach the students on weekends. Her father had gone to visit some friends while Enishi was out to help out in the shop. Kenshin was out of the house to attend to matters, which he did not specify but she guessed it was related to the dojo he used to stay in.
She had cleaned up the house and brought in the laundry which Kenshin had washed. He has been doing the laundry since he moved in. Neither did Kenshin complain nor did Tomoe said anything about it.
Taking a look at the western clock, she changed her clothes and went out to the temple. Today was her mother's death anniversary. Her mother's grave was destroyed during the war and every year she would come to the temple to pray instead. Although her mother had passed away over twenty years, she could still remember her mother's scent and warmth.
After giving her offerings, she wrote an ema and hanged up at the shrine. She glanced at stacks of wooden plague, which were hanged up, forming a collage. She noticed one with a samurai riding on the horse and knew it was her father's for he always chose that design every time he came to pray. He must have come to the shrine that morning. Curious, she flipped the ema over to see what her father had wished for this time. It was the usual blessings of the family but this time, Tomoe found the addition of Kenshin's name on the plague. A smile formed on her face as she removed her hold on the ema and made her way home.
In the later night, as her family retired to sleep, she sat on the corridor watching the moon. After a short while, she felt the presence of someone walking towards her direction and knew it was Kenshin. He did not make a sound but sat down beside her, leaving a polite space between them.
"Today is Enishi's birthday and also my mother's death anniversary," Tomoe said. Whether he was surprised or he was listening to her at all, she could not tell for he did not make any sound or movement.
She continued, "My mother died soon after giving birth to Enishi. That was why our family do not celebrate Enishi's birthday. And to be fair, we did not celebrate my father's or my birthday since then."
She remembered on the fifth birthday of her brother, Enishi asked her many questions.
"Sister, why don't we celebrate my birthday?"
"Because… it has always been the way."
"Sister, why did mother leave us?"
"Because…God has come to fetch her."
"Sister, was it because of me that mother left?"
She wanted to tell him the truth for she knew her mother was already very weak before giving birth to Enishi but in the end, she said, "No, it was because mother loves you more than anything else."
Even though, Enishi never spoke about their mother, Tomoe could tell that her brother knew about the reason behind their mother's death.
That night, Kenshin's hand clasped over hers. She did not flinch away.
There was a kenjitsu competition held in the central dojo in the east district of Tokyo. Kaoru and Yahiko had come to represent the Kamiya dojo. Despite his age and small build, Yahiko won a couple of matches, which made Kaoru very proud of him. They were waiting for the next competitor of Yahiko.
"He is good," commented Yahiko as he looked at the competition seriously. The man's movements were fluid and fast.
"What is his name again, hmm, Yukishiro Enishi from the Ryotoken dojo," said Kaoru as she flipped through the pages of the competitors. Somehow, she felt she had seen or heard of the name before.
In the next minute, the opponent was knocked down to the floor and the referee declared, "The winner goes to Yukishiro Enishi."
Enishi did not showed any sign of happiness and his face set in a stoic expression throughout as he bowed to his defeated opponent.
"Well done, Enishi kun," said his teammates from Ryotoken dojo and Enishi merely nodded.
The next match was between Yahiko of the Kamiya dojo and Enishi of the Ryotoken dojo.
The referee called their respective names and both stood at the competition field facing each other.
Enishi took a look at Yahiko, then he turned his head away and said in disdain,"Feh. I do not want to fight a weakling."
"What did you say?" Kaoru was the first to exclaim.
Enishi titled his head and looked at her, "This is no child's play, woman."
"How dare you, birdhead," she rebuked.
She knew the Kamiya dojo was small dojo compared to the others and this time they only manage to send one representative who is not even of age yet. But that does not mean he could look down at them without even fighting. After all, Yahiko had proved himself and won a couple of matches. "Yahiko, show him what you can do," Kamiya instructed her student.
"Yes," Yahiko replied and stared at his opponent with determination.
The two opponents bowed to one another and took their stance. Without having time to blink, Yahiko saw Enishi moved swiftly and manage to block his attack. But for only a brief moment, he felt himself no longer pushing against any force, then he felt a sharp pain on his shoulder before he felt his leg lost their balance and he tumbled to the ground. How did he do that? Yahiko thought and tried to stand up but failed.
"Yahiko!" Kaoru cried, worried for her student.
Enishi looked down at his opponent and relaxed his posture,"Well, that's hardly a challenge."
"The boy is brave though, no harm trying," someone whispered beside Kaoru, then she heard the referee announcing the winner of the round.
Enishi snorted and walked back to his teammate.
The referee continued, "Well, then this will mark the end-"
"Wait! I will represent Kamiya dojo," Kaoru said as she stood up with her wooden sword at her side. She would show him the Kamiya Kasshin ryu, which Yahiko failed to perform.
"Kamiya san," the referee looked at her surprised and then at Enishi.
Enishi turned around and stared at Kaoru before giving the referee a nod. He walked back to the competition field and asked Kaoru, "Any handicap?"
"No need," Karou replied as she prepared for the match.
"That birdhead. How could he? I will show that Yukishiro –" Kaoru rumbled when she was back at the Kamiya dojo, venting her frustration at no one in particular. She had lost the match after a mere three minutes when Enishi hit her shoulder with the wooden sword after she tried to struck him with the Kamiya Kasshin ryu. She accepted her defeat but she could not forgive Yukishiro Enishi for belittling her and the dojo when he spoke those insults after the match.
"Did I do anything?" Sanosuke asked as he backed away from the furious Kaoru and looked at Yahiko.
"No, she's not referring to you. She's talking about Yukishiro Enishi from the Ryotoken dojo," Yahiko explained.
"I see," Sanosuke said, then he exclaimed, grabbing Kaoru's attention. "Hey! Isn't Kenshin's wife's maiden name Yukishiro?"
"Yeah, so?" Yahiko replied.
"Then this Yukishiro Enishi you are referring to must be Kenshin's brother-in-law."
"What?!" both Kaoru and Yahiko exclaimed. "You can't be serious."
After a moment of pause, Karou said, "Well, he does have similar hairstyle as yours," looking at Sanosuke.
"Yeah, I met him at the festival with Kenshin. That must be him," Sanosuke said and nodded to confirm his view.
"Isn't that great?" Kaoru said when an idea came to her mind. The two boys looked at her, not sure what made her mood lightened. Kaoru explained, "We could meet up with Kenshin and then show that birdhead the consequence of insulting the Kamiya dojo," she emphasized the last few words and clapped her hands together, satisfied with the plan.
Sanosuke and Yahiko looked at her, then at each other before they nodded in silent agreement.
"I think I ought to have dinner at the Akabeko," said Sanosuke as he prepared to leave the dojo.
"Me too," Yahiko said, reasonating Sanosuke's thought.
"Hey!" Kaoru exclaimed and ran after the two. "Wait up."