AUTHORESS NOTES: Hello all you lovely people out there! Sorry for taking so long with the next chapter ^^. I know....I left off at a horrible ending, but...well...my life has been mixed in with a combination of projects (gar), tests (double gar), and just plain laziness on my part *laughs sheepishly*. Anyhoo, along with at least seven different fics, I've been in a "write me!" mood. So, here ya go! Enjoy, no da!
Oh yes, before I forget, italics are thoughts and bold are for other voices, like ghosts.
Chapter Seven ~ Aftermath
The first thing that Enishi saw when he regained consciousness was bright light. He hissed at the throbbing pain that it gave him and covered his eyes to shut it out.
"Oh? You're finally awake," came a familiar voice.
Enishi dug through his memory bank to search for a match for the voice. He slowly opened one eye. Everything around him seemed to be a blur.
"Ugh...Ruri?" he murmured.
The young doctor smiled down at him even though she knew that he was partially blind at the moment.
"Welcome back to reality, Enishi," Ruri replied cheerfully. She felt his damp forehead. "How're you feeling?"
"Like crap," he simply replied. He tried to turn to his side but winced as a searing pain shot through his ribs.
"Oi, take it easy," Ruri ordered him as she took her hand away from his forehead and began to rustle through jars of medicine nearby. "You just broke your fever. Personally, I'm surprised that you pulled through at all, being conked out for three days. That was some dose of paralysis poison you inhaled."
Enishi broke into a small smile at the doctor's sarcasm. Three days?!? Then concern overwhelmed him. "Ruri, where's Ran and---"
"They're playing outside with their grandmother," she answered his unfinished question. "You're lucky that she found you all in time. That woman sure amazes me sometimes."
Enishi arched an eyebrow as his vision was beginning to clear. "You know Miya-Myung, Ruri?"
The young doctor smiled as she prepared a mixture of herbs. "Maa, I know Yumiko more than you think. We've been best friends ever since childhood."
"You know, prodding questions about my past isn't going to restore your health," she interrupted as she poured in some hot water into the cup of grounded herbs. She handed him the cup. "Here."
Enishi slowly sat up on his elbows, gritting his teeth as he did so. He realized that bandages were wrapped tightly around his ribcage and a couple more were around his right forearm and shoulder. Hmph, no wonder. He gratefully accepted the steaming drink and carefully sipped its contents. He grimaced at its bitter taste.
"It's bitter, I know, but it eases the pain around your ribs," Ruri said as if she had read his thoughts.
"What's in this?" he couldn't help but ask.
Ruri gave him a cunning smile. "It's my secret recipe. Now drink."
"No wonder you don't cook," he mumbled and received a light smack on the head. Although it was light, it was enough to create a small migraine. "Ow! What was that for?"
"You better watch what you say or else you're going to have to face living hell with me," Ruri replied dangerously as she got up. "Drink everything in there and you'll be able to move freely without any pain in a few hours."
Enishi took another sip as he watched her about to leave the room. "Ruri."
She paused in between the doorway and turned, waiting.
She smiled sadly at him and shook her head. "You can thank me once you're better, and you two are together again."
With that, she slid the door closed, leaving Enishi alone with his thoughts.
<Ruri's clinic ~ front room>
Ayeka sat on a small bench, deep in thought, while she watched her mother entertain Yumiko's children. She thought it amazing that after just one night of fear, the twins were back to their usual selves. She shook her head as they were running away, chased by her mother.
"Kids will always be kids, huh?" came Akito's voice behind her.
She shifted in her seat, being careful to not move her left arm too much. She had separated her left shoulder and broke the forearm in the process the night before when an invasion of ninja broke in. Her arm hung limply in a sling with a board strapped on the side to keep the bones in place.
"I guess so," she murmured. Her almond-shaped eyes glanced at her brother. "How is he?"
Akito couldn't help but scratch the bandage on his cheek as he met his sister's stare. "Ruri-sensei said that he's awake. A bit groggy, though. He's moving, if that's what you wanted to hear."
Ayeka gave a curt nod and continued watching the children play. Silence echoed in between the siblings as Akito took a seat next to his sister.
"You know, you don't have to be so bitchy about it," Akito finally said.
"Bitchy about what?" she asked.
"You know what I mean, Aya-chan," her brother replied, using the name that he usually called her whenever he wanted to get a point across. "It's not Enishi's fault."
"I know it's not his fault," she said, keeping her eyes glued on the children. "That's why I won't kill him. I'll just throttle him."
Akito sighed. He knew that his sister would never learn. "You'll never accept him, will you?"
"What do you mean?" Ayeka asked, tearing her gaze away from the children.
"You've vowed yourself to not trust any man after what happened to oneechan three years ago," Akito explained, "but you know perfectly well that Enishi's a lot different from the others. Give him some slack."
She didn't reply. Instead, she looked back at the children and wished that she, like the, could forget everything that happened.
<Inside ~ Enishi's room>
He stared down absentmindedly at the image the small pool of liquid in his cup reflected. Enishi frowned at himself before dousing down the remnants of the medicine Ruri had prescribed, leaving a bitter taste in his mouth. The taste reflected how he was feeling right now.
Dammit, he cursed to himself, crushing the porcelain cup in his hands. Drips of blood seeped out in between the cracks of his fingers. He had to figure out a way to get Yumiko back. Yoji was an opponent that was hard to defeat, despite his advanced and sometimes abnormal abilities. A part of himself felt lost without her, the woman who settled in a solid and comfortable position in his heart.
A gentle breeze swept through the open window, and the familiar scent of white plums drifted in the room. Enishi instinctively looked up from his bloodied hands to see someone he had not seen in a very long time.
"Oneesan," he murmured.
Himura Tomoe knelt down in front of her brother with a mixture of concern and determination on her face. She looked no different than before her death. Her kimono was starch white without even a stain of blood on it. Her face was still young but lightly traced along her left cheek was a faint scar. When Enishi's eyes began to focus on his sister, the scar began to bleed. He closed his eyes and shook his head furiously like a child.
"Ie! I'm NOT going to ask that bastard, not even go NEAR him, oneesan!" he shouted.
Tomoe just stared calmly back at her brother. "You know you have no choice."
"I can take care of it myself; I don't need his help," Enishi grumbled.
"And what if he kills her?"
Enishi remained silent, not knowing what to think. Yoji's final words kept echoing in his head: Pay your price....Pay your price....Pay your price....Pay your price....
He buried his head in his hands in agonizing defeat, not caring for the blood nor the porcelain shatters on his lap.
"Kuso..." he muttered.
If anything happened to Yumiko, he knew he would go completely insane. Tomoe leaned in closer and wrapped her arms around her brother in a hug even though she could no longer touch.
"He will understand," she whispered in his ear. "You know that he will."
"I don't want to understand," he mumbled sleepily in reply.
"Yet you do," his sister pointed out. "He will help. He always does."
"He didn't help you," Enishi replied as his eyes began to close without resistance.
Tomoe watched him fall asleep, waiting for enough time to go by when she said, "He did help me, my little brother. He taught me how to forgive and remember love."
As the next breeze swept in, she disappeared with only the faint scent of white plum remaining.
<a few hours later>
Ayeka roughly tapped on the door with her working arm, impatiently waiting for the millionth time for it to slide open.
"Oi, Enishi, are you awake?" she called out, rapping the door again. She frowned when nobody answered. Didn't Akito say that he was awake?
Not one who respected one's privacy, Ayeka went ahead and slid the door wide open. Enishi stirred and lifted his head. The look in his eyes made Ayeka totally forget what she was about to say.
Instead came this, "What the hell happened to you?"
He blinked at her and then glanced down at his bloodied hands. He realized that when he had fallen asleep sitting up, he had put his hand in the mass of blood. Shit...
"Oh," he said as if he hadn't noticed it until now. He looked back at Ayeka and lifted his cut hand. "I broke the cup."
It was Ayeka's turn to blink a few times. Broke the cup? "You better clean yourself up before Ruri or the kids see unless you want them to freak."
Enishi nodded and forced himself to smile. "I know."
Ayeka turned to leave, giving him one last look before shutting the door. She walked to the front room in a stupor, forcing herself to not throw up this morning's breakfast. The sight of blood, especially the amount that she saw, made her queasy.
"Never, never am going to do that again," she grumbled. "What the hell was he doing in there anyway?"
With all the speed that he could muster, Enishi cleaned up the room he was inhabiting. He searched through the room for some spare bandage wraps, which he quickly wrapped his cut hand with. Then he rummaged through the room searching for some clothes. He found some, eventually, assuming that they belonged to Gen because they fit him perfectly.
After changing into a fresh pair of clothes, he headed back to the futon and wrapped the bloodied blanket into a bundle to keep the porcelain shards from falling out of his grasp. Making sure that there was no one around, Enishi made a dash back to home through a secret path connected the clinic to the home. Once he reached the kitchen at Yumiko's...no their home, he let out a heavy sigh. He tossed the bundle to the ground and headed over to the basin where he washed off the dry blood from his hands and face. He glanced outside and realized for the first time that it was quiet. Too quiet.
If Yumiko was here, she would be right in the very place where he stood, cooking or washing the dishes. The children would be playing outside while he would do the hefty work.
Enishi paused in mid wash. The dried blood slowly disappeared from his hands as the water beat against it. He shook his head and continued to scrub. The bandage on his hand suddenly unwrapped itself and released the pressure on his wound. Cursing to himself as the water began to turn red, he quickly took his cut hand out of the water and grabbed a clean cloth nearby to stop the bleeding. He then used the cloth as a bandage and dumped the filthy water outside. The rustic smell of his own blood filled his nostrils. He fought to keep his anger down and stormed back into the home.
The others would be wondering where he was, but Enishi had to sort through his thoughts alone. He had a lot to do today--at least the remainder of it. First thing was to find his nihontou and get it repaired. Ever since he met Yumiko, he didn't find much use of the weapon except for the time when she almost got raped again. He had even thought of throwing it away, but the weapon was too valuable for him to lose.
The second thing was to find where Yumiko actually was. He had a faintly vague idea where Yoji stayed for the two had similar minds. Enishi couldn't go to the police or else he'd be arrested immediately, so he had to rely on his darker sources for information even it he had to beat the crap out of the idiots to get the information he needed.
The final thing was the one thing he dreaded the most. Talk to Battousai. Make him aware of the current situation. Enishi slackened his pace. What would he say? He knew that the man wouldn't be alone in the house. He'd have to deal with his woman and his friends: the roosterhead and the loudmouth kid. Enishi tied the knot on his bundle tightly and sling it over his shoulder despite the aching pain it made rubbing against it.
Battered, bruised, and somewhat broken inside, Enishi made his way back to Ruri's clinic from the way he came. He had to get Yumiko back.
"Now I know how he felt," he muttered reluctantly to himself.
"Where the hell is he?" Ayeka muttered, sitting back down on her cushion. She winced at the pain the movement gave to her arm.
"What do I look like to you, a mind reader?" her brother asked. "I thought you went to go talk to him."
"Well, I DID go talk to him," she retorted as the other looked at her. She stared down at her hands. "Well, I tried to."
"Tried to," Ruri repeated sarcastically. "Since when was the last time you 'tried' to do something, Ayeka?"
"Oi, I really did! I had everything I wanted to say to him, but when I just looked at him....I couldn't think of anything to say."
"So, now you know that Enishi is a very nice young man," her mother replied. Both Rikku and Ran were in her lap. "Not to mention handsome as well but that's beside the point."
Akito put his hand on his forehead. "Oh god."
"He's a lot different from the others that your sister unconsciously lured in," Myung continued, ignoring her son's comment. "He was lost, dead; and your sister brought back the life into him."
Rikku tugged on Myung's sleeve. "Obaachan, is 'touchan going to come home?"
"'Touchan's already here, Rikku-chan," came Enishi's voice from the back door.
Rikku immediately jumped out of her grandmother's lap and ran towards him. Enishi swooped the little girl in his arms with a big smile on his face.
"I'm surprised you found the spare clothing," Ruri commented on his clothes.
"I...had to look around a bit," he replied sheepishly.
"I could tell by how you left the room."
He glanced around. He had to get his plans started before his time would run out. He looked at Rikku then at Ran. "Do you two want to go somewhere with 'touchan?"
Their faces brightened. "Hai!!"
He forced out a light laugh. Kids will always be kids. "Yosh, let's go."
"Where are you going?" Ayeka asked, her eyes following every movement.
Enishi shifted his things, wincing slightly at the pain, and stopped in mid-sentence when he saw a very familiar police officer coming towards the clinic's entrance. He then turned back towards the back door.
"Out," he said as he and the twins walked outside.
"Matte, Enishi, I'm coming with you, too," Ayeka announced.
"Then hurry up because I'm not going to wait for you," he said, disappearing round the corner.
Ayeka quickly followed just as the police officer entered the rundown clinic. A nihontou was strapped on his side.
"Konnichiwa," he greeted amiably, tipping his hat. "My name is Fujita Goro. I came to investigate the burglary that had happened last night."
Akito stared at the wolf-like officer and back at where Enishi and his sister disappeared. Why did he walk away from the police?
Enishi quickly walked though the bustling streets of Tokyo's business district, ignoring all those around him and giving cold stares to those who dared say anything to him.
"Enishi, where exactly are we going?" Ayeka finally managed to utter out as soon as they passed the crowded areas. When he didn't respond, she frowned. "Oi, Enishi! Did you just hear what I said?"
The twins gazed worriedly from their aunt to their father as they walked along. The two knew from the earlier conversations that their beloved guardians did not particularly get along very well.
Ayeka waited for a few more minutes for an answer. When none came, her temper began to reach its limit.
"My...brother-in-law's," Enishi replied emotionlessly. He kept his anger well inside of himself as he said the words. Glancing sideways at Ayeka, he also added, "I also want to find Gen so he can repair something for me."
Ayeka glanced at the bundle slung behind his back.
"Is it what's in that bag?"
"And you think that your brother-in-law can help us?"
Enishi didn't reply. Ayeka glared at him and then looked in a different direction, huffing out in frustration.
"I guess it's too early to ask about your past," she mumbled to herself.
It was seemingly a peaceful day once again in the household. Despite a few ripples in society, nothing seemed to plague the Kenshingumi in their daily routines.
Kenshin hummed happily to himself as he listened to Kaoru and Yahiko's daily bickering. Things were so calm, now. He felt as if he could live as a normal...
Ie, he shook his head. Even during these peaceful times, there is always something going on.
The air around him suddenly went still. Kenshin stopped in his washing as he caught a glimpse of a white petal sweeping through the unfelt breeze. The petal split into two, each marked with the same scar that was etched across his left cheek.
"Tomoe?" he murmured.
The vision soon faded and timed resumed.
He snapped out of his reverie and turned around, giving the voice's owner a charming smile.
"W-what is it, Kaoru-dono?" he asked.
Kaoru stared at him with concern. She rested her right hand on her hip with the other holding her bokutou.
"What do you mean, 'what is it'?" she said. "Daijoubu? I've been calling you for the past couple of minutes and you just kept on staring into space."
He couldn't think of anything to say as an excuse. "Sessha..."
There was no need. Two figures caught his eyes from afar. Kaoru and Yahiko also turned to look without question, and Kaoru gasped. The one person she could recognize was someone she had feared for return, and he was heading straight towards their home.