Watsuki owns them

I just borrow for a while

No harm intended

Many thanks to Maigo-chan for her translations. (Bringing Art to Life)

When She Smiles

Chapter 1: Rakuninmura


Oibore: What have you lost to wear you out so much…I have no intent at all of asking such a thing. You didn't throw it away, so it seems you are also like him. Without becoming a resident of this place, once again, a time to stand up is coming. Until then…Think of this also as somehow being a chance meeting.

Oibore had been sitting in this place, Rakuninmura, for a long time. First with Kenshin, now with Enishi. He would leave to go get food, to fish, to feed the birds, to talk with the other residents, but always he would come back to this same spot. Enishi had been sitting silently for almost a week. He had eaten very little, even though Oibore left water and small bits of food for him every time he left. Enishi had no desire for anything except to sit and grasp Tomoe's journal: the last connection he had to his sister.

Oibore had waited long enough. There were no visitors coming to see Enishi. No one was seeking to help him discover his way out of Rakuninmura. It would be entirely up to Oibore to help, if anyone could. He knew he had to wait until Enishi was ready, but he couldn't wait too long or Enishi's body would not be able to recover from the deprivation he was enduring. Oibore despaired of waiting any longer.

He took the vial from his pocket and opened it. The familiar scent of white plums filled the air. Oibore had purchased it on his last visit into Tokyo proper; hoping it would bring Enishi the strength to stand again.

Enishi: "White Plum? That scent . . . please take it away . . ."

Oibore:"White plum scent always brings back memories. So it reminds you of something too? (He sets the uncorked bottle beside him.) They say white plum has the power to soothe the heart. Why don't you try to put up with it for a while."

Enishi began to dream. In his dream the armored ship of Shishio was raising cannons to fire on Tokyo, raining death and destruction on the city, leaving a red wake as it left to got to other harbors, other cities, other places of peace to destroy…And in each city he would find Tomoe. Always Tomoe in a place of destruction, always out of his reach to help, and always, she was frowning.

After the destruction Enishi would hunt in the debris, search in the burning ruble and ashes for his sister. He was unable to find her. No one answered his cry; no one heard his anguish. The scent of White Plums roiled over him. In his dream, it gave him hope. Again he would search the ruble, crying her name…

Enishi: " Tomoe…Tomoe… Tomoe…."

It pained Oibore to hear him calling out Tomoe's name over and over in his sleep. He went off to fish, to take a respite from his own anguish at the smell of white plums and the fear that even this attempt to reach Enishi would fail.

The scent wafted around Enishi and kept him wrapped in the throes of his nightmares. The more he inhaled her scent, the closer he felt to finding her. At last, he rounded a corner to look in yet another bombed out portion of the city. It was a graveyard. He recognized it as her graveyard. Here, maybe he could find her here. Enishi knelt at Tomoe's grave, begging her to answer him. He prayed for her response. Enishi had never prayed at Tomoe's grave before, but now it felt like he must or the dream would go on forever.

He prayed for forgiveness from her. Forgiveness for his childhood petulance. Forgiveness for loving her too much yet not allowing her to love anyone else. Painfully asking her forgiveness for causing the worst tragedy of her life – the confrontation that had cost her everything. He told her she had been right, he should have returned to Edo. His work for the shogunate so long ago seemed meaningless. His eagerness to punish the hitokiri a usurpation of her place. His misguided efforts to protect her had yielded only pain. He needed her to respond. He needed her to tell him how to ease his pain. What did he have to live for now that his Earthly Justice had failed? Her journal left no doubt as to her true feelings, for him, for Kyosato, and for the hitokiri.

Tomoe's scent overpowered him. He was lost in it and the nightmare of his pain. But Tomoe was not deaf to his need in his dream. There, she appeared to answer his pleas. She smiled her encouragement to his request for forgiveness.

I forgive you. I will always stay with you. I have always loved you. I'll help you go on with your life. But you must discover your own way in the world, your own penance.

Remember what I told you in Otsu….

Oibore had returned from fishing. He had already given away most of his catch, saving only a little for himself and Enishi. Enishi was still lost in dreams, but the nightmares were abating, and his rasping voice no longer called out for Tomoe. Oibore heard a new utterance, an encouraging one:

Enishi: "Edo……father……return to Edo…..father……"

Oibore: "A time to stand up is coming. Perhaps we've no more need of this for the moment."

Oibore placed the stopper back in the vial and put away the scent. He knew where to place this vial. He had already left one vial there.

The scent was fading, and Tomoe's vision and voice were fading along with it. Enishi was awakening at last. He opened his eyes and stood up.

Enishi: "Father, shall we return to our former home in Edo? Can we rebuild our lives there?"

Oibore: "Perhaps. But first, we must go to Kyoto to visit her. I wish to lay this vial at her grave and perhaps there is something you wish to leave there as well."

Enishi: "Perhaps. Shall we begin our journey?"

Author's Note: So I was writing this little fluffy parody for the RK Monthly writing challenge when Enishi just sort of crawled under my skin and refused to leave until I wrote this. Hope you like it.

And no, this doesn't mean I have abandoned my K&K fic, I'll decide if it's done when I exorcise Enishi.

p.s. did you SEE that RK challenge picture?! It was just sooo wrong.