AN: Sorry for the long wait, everyone! Been busy with real life stuff.... And thanks to AyanamiChan for constantly telling me to update ^^. Kinda blase chapter, but oh well. It's the best I can come up with ^^. R&R!
Chapter Eight ~ Forgiveness
Darkness. There was always darkness around her. A small, dim light was occasionally lit, but it was too far to grasp it. With her wrists bound by chains, it was hard for Yumiko to grasp anything. All she could do was hope, hope that he would come...
"Yukishiro...Enishi," Kaoru murmured as she and the others watched him approach.
"Oi, what the hell is he doing here?" Sanosuke, who had just arrived from the back gate, growled. He would have attacked if it wasn't for Kenshin stopping him.
"Maa, matte, Sano," he instructed calmly.
"But Kenshin!" the younger man protested. "What if he comes and---"
Squinting his eyes, he did as he was told. Behind Enishi was another man with his left arm in a sling. He guessed it was one of Enishi's men who got injured, but there was something odd about the man's behavior that gave Sanosuke the idea that the two did not agree with one another. Looking even more closely, he saw what was absolutely unexpected.
"Nani? Kids?!?" he exclaimed.
"Aa," Kenshin said.
"Hey, that's Rikku and Ran!" Yahiko exclaimed.
"Rikku and Ran?" Kaoru asked.
"They're Yumiko-san's kids..."
Ayeka, Enishi, and the children continued to walk in silence. Ayeka had tried to initiate any conversation topic that had popped into her head, but they all stopped at a dead end with one word answers from Enishi. She gave up all together after some time, wondering how in the world her older sister could stand him. Yet the more she thought about it, the more her mother's reasoning made sense.
To come to think of it, he didn't act this way when I first met him, she thought.
"Enishi, what brings you here?" asked a voice, snapping her out of her thoughts.
Her eyes strayed to the owner of the voice who was a man with red hair and an X-shaped scar etched on his left cheek. Behind the man was a woman around her age and a boy with a shinai strapped on his back. Held back by the man with red hair was a younge rman with a rooster head. With the exception of the man with red hair, all had a look of fear in their eyes. Ayeka frowned inwardly.
What are they afraid of? she asked herself. Of Enishi? Naze?
"Battousai," Enishi addressed. "I...I need your help."
Ayeka stared back at Enishi, unused to the tone in his voice. Enishi took in a deep breath, not even bothering to make eye contact with Kenshin. Ran and Rikku watched with a mixture of slight confusion and fear as he let go of their hands.
"I'm sorry for...causing suffering upon you," he looked up, "and your friends. The more I think about Jinchuu, the more idiotic it seems to me...now."
He paused for a second to let his words sink in, and it made him realize how true his words were. Since the time he had met Yumiko until the day she was kidnapped, he had not one single thought of the past. Not one single thought about his deep hatred towards the man who no longer called himself Battousai had crossed his mind since he had let Yumiko into his heart. He glanced at each person before him, their eyes showing disbelief.
"I know it's not that easy to accept, but..." he waved his hand towards Ayeka and the twins behind him. "I have an understanding. However, that doesn't mean that I forgive you for my sister's death. It's..." Tomoe's smiling face flashed before his eyes, "...just died down. Forgive me."
A few moments of silence lingered between the two groups before Kaoru stepped forward hesitantly. If nobody was going to say anything, it might as well be her. She noticed something different in his eyes since the last time they had seen him.
"Anno...daijoubu," she said, smiling. "I'm ready to forgive, and I'm sure Kenshin has as well."
She looked back at Sanosuke and Yahiko who both slowly and reluctantly nodded. She then turned back to Enishi.
"What's passed is in the past. Nothing can change the past, of course, demo it's what's in the future that people should look forward to."
Enishi stared back at Kaoru in utter disbelief. "Am I...forgiven so easily? After all what had happened?"
"People make mistakes in their lives, but they can always fix them no matter what."
"Kaoru-dono is right, Enishi," Kenshin said. "There is always a way to atone."
Enishi glanced at Kenshin. Kenshin smiled. I was right...he has changed.
"Besides, you needed some help about something?" Kenshin asked as he sat down on the dojo's front porch.
He will help,Tomoe's words echoed in Enishi's head. He always does.
"Aa," he replied, the tenseness in his joints beginning to relax.
"Does it deal with something related to a woman named Yumiko, de gozaru?" Kenshin asked. Noticing the look of surprise on the younger man's face, he added, "Yahiko here told us that he saw you in the morket one day with a woman named Yumiko, de gozaru."
Enishi glanced at Yahiko for a moment before returning his gaze at Kenshin. Damn, should've known that I've seen the kid somewhere...
"Yumiko is..." Enishi wondered to himself, hesitating. What WAS Yumiko to him? His lover? The woman he had been staying with for the past two months? Ie...he thought. She's much more than that.
"Yumiko is...very important to me in a lot of ways," he continued. "She was kidnapped by a man named Fukihara Youji, the man in charge of the organization that I was working for."
"Nani? I thought you were the head?" Yahiko asked.
"I only ran the Shanghai border since I was the only other one fluent in Japanese. The organization's much bigger than you think," Enishi replied.
"By how much?" Kaoru asked meekly.
"As big as China itself," he replied. "Youji's father was as corrupted as Shishio Makoto, but Youji is much worse. He plans on controlling the entire world economy through Japan's increasing military stronghold. Foreigners who have tried to exploit him have died trying."
"So, what does that have to do with you?" Sanosuke asked impatiently. His eyes still burned with fire.
"Hey, what the hell is up with you?" Ayeka growled back in anger. She stared at him with an equal furiosity, her fist clenched tightly in a ball. "He apologized for whatever he did to you guys, so can't you just accept it?!?"
"Oi, do you know WHAT he did to us?!?" Sanosuke shouted back.
"Do I really care?? Like what that other girl said: what's passed is past. I don't care what Enishi did before, I only want to get my sister back!"
"That's Yumiko's younger sister, Ayeka," Enishi continued as he and the others ignored them. "And these two," he patted the twins' heads, "are Yumiko and Youji's children."
"Nani?!?" Kaoru and Yahiko exclaimed.
"Three years ago, that bastard Youji took away oneechan," Ayeka explained angrily, still glaring at Sanosuke. "When she found out that she was pregnant with the twins, otousan disowned her and Youji left her. No one wanted to bring her in for work because she was a mother-to-be out of wedlock, but the Rakinunmura did. She's been there ever since."
"Yumiko's family returned a few days ago," Enishi added.
"And you were attacked by this man named Youji, de gozaru ka?" Kenshin said. "Which would explain your wounds."
Everyone stared at Kenshin in surprise, but he just innocently smiled. "Even though I haven't killed, I am still sensitive to the smell of blood."
Only Enishi understood. "I'm asking you, Battousai...can you watch over Ran and Rikku?"
"Chotto matte, Enishi!" Ayeka protested. "My mom can---"
"Where can Myung take care of them, Ayeka?" Enishi cut her off. "I know she can take care of them, but what if they come back to attack your home again? With the exception of her, we're all injured."
"I can still fight with just my right arm," she said.
"But then who will protect Ran and Rikku?" Enishi pointed out. "Sure, they know more than your average two year old, but bastards like Youji attack the weakest point first."
Ayeka stared at him for a moment before accepting defeat. "Wakkata. But can okaachan at least stay with them? Akito and I don't want her to get deeply involved. She's getting old..."
"That's okay," Kaoru spoke up. "It's nice to have guests once in a while and Ayame-chan and Suzume-chan can play with them."
Ran tugged on Enishi's pantleg. He kneeled down to their height.
"Are yoo goin' to leave us here, 'touchan?" he asked.
"Is 'kaachan going to come back?" Rikku added.
Kaoru, Sanosuke, and Yahiko stared at one another and mouthed "Otouchan?"
Enishi smiled at the twins, patting their heads. "Aa, otouchan's going to let you stay here with my....brother-in-law." Kenshin's eyes widened in shock. "I'm going to go get okaachan back, too, okay? So be good."
"Obaachan's going to come as well," Ayeka added.
"Please take care of them," Enishi said to Kaoru.
"Don't worry, we will," she replied, smiling.
Ayeka and Enishi looked one last time before heading towards the gate.
"Matte, Enishi," Kenshin called out.
Enishi stopped in mid-step, half looking back.
"You probably don't know where Yumiko-dono is, right? Why don't I send a letter to Aoshi and Misao-dono to see if they heard anything and go to the police to ask Saitou if he has any clues?" Kenshin suggested.
Enishi gritted his teeth. "I don't want your friends involved, Battousai. This is my own problem."
"However, Aoshi, Misao-dono, and Saitou are fairly good at getting information," Kenshin pointed out.
"We could use any help that we can get, Enishi," Ayeka added softly.
Uttering a low growl, Enishi replied, "Fine, Battousai. You can ask, but I don't want them to know that I'm here. If you can find anything, you can find me at the Rakinunmura in Ruri-sensei's clinic or the port, Battousai."
"Kenshin," Kenshin corrected him.
Enishi paused again. Kenshin's smile had never faded. "I am not a hitokiri anymore, Enishi. My name is Kenshin. Himura Kenshin."
"Kenshin," Enishi repeated slowly. He nodded and he and Ayeka left.
"I...don't believe it," Sanosuke muttered. "He acted...normal."
Kenshin nodded in agreement. "Aa. I think this Yumiko-dono has made him realize to forget the past."
"Ne, are you two hungry?" Kaoru asked the twins.
They looked up at her smiling. "Hai!!"
"Yosh! I'll make something for you guys to eat!"
"I don't think that's a good idea," Sanosuke muttered. "You want to poison these poor kids already?"
He received a good whack on the head.
"Maybe Kenshin should make the food," Yahiko added. "I don't want them to die of your cooking at such an early age." He too received a good whack on the head. "Oi! I'm telling the truth, busu!"
"If you guys hate my cooking so much, then why do you stay here?" Kaoru asked angrily.
The twins watched in amusement, clapping everytime Kaoru was able to get a hit in. Kenshin chuckled, staring at the spot where Enishi had disappeared. I guess people can learn to change after all...