Chapter 11: A Ribbon and Selfishness

Copyright© 2011 by Murasame

The next morning. Kenshin and Sanosuke are walking home.

Kenshin: Six badly injured, three less so. The Black Hat affair has begun with some small damage. One cannot face nine casualties with a calm face.

Sanosuke: You're expecting too much. Nobody died--that's pretty good. The Black Hat ... Udou Jin'eh, huh. Originally a Hitokiri and completely psycho to boot. But we've got the strongest of all on our side (slapping Kenshin on the back) so why worry?

Kenshin: Not really. (That hurt.) In the ten years since the new era began, I took a vow never to kill again, but he's done just the opposite, continuing to kill. As Hitokiris, the difference is great. I don't know when or where Jin'eh mastered the Nikaidou Heibou, but when he appeared in Kyoto at the beginning of the Bakumatsu, he was the head of the Shinsengumi.

Sanosuke: The Shinsengumi--the best of the Bakufu's companies of swordsmen. So he's an old enemy of the Ishin Shishi?

Kenshin: Actually, he killed many of the Ishin Shishi, unnecessary deaths. In the end, he fled the Shinsengumi after internal conflicts turned the unit against him. From then he appeared many months later among the Ishin Shishi as a hitokiri.

Sanosuke: So he doesn't follow the principle of loyalty to the Emperor.

Kenshin: Jin'eh has only the desire to kill. Since he is motivated only by this desire, he is an exceedingly dangerous Hitokiri.

Sanosuke: This guy ... I know I don't have any part in this, but--

Kenshin: I am his only target, and I'll be his only opponent. But there's something I want you to do for me instead.

(At the dojo, Kaoru has dozed off sitting on the porch.)

Sanosuke: Sheesh. Look at that face. She must be getting old, sitting there drooling in her sleep.

Yahiko: I don't think she slept a wink last night.

Sanosuke: Oh yeah? Hmm. (patting her cheek.) Hey, girl, wake up. (stretching her mouth open.) Hey, wake up.

Yahiko: Ah--ha ha ha!!

Kaoru (breaking a shinai across his head): Welcome home.

Sanosuke: Nice to see you too.

Kaoru: I--huh? Where's Kenshin?

Sanosuke: Kenshin's not coming back. This time, the killer's after him. He was afraid he'd get you in trouble, so he's not coming back here for a while. While he's gone he wanted me to look out for you.

Kaoru: But where did he go?

Sanosuke: He said he was gong to the riverbank. (remembering Kenshin's words: "A Bakumatsu Hitokiri had to be able to attack easily and run easily. Many acted from a base near a riverbank. If I'm by the river, Jin'eh will find me.") I guess.

(Kaoru starts running.)

Sanosuke: Hey--hey, where are you going?

Kaoru: I've made up my mind. I'm looking for Kenshin!

Sanosuke: Idiot! Jin'eh is not your average opponent! Do you have to see him to understand? If you go after him you'll just get in the way and make trouble! If you just wait here quietly it'll be better for everyone--

Kaoru: So after he fights Jin'eh, what if he doesn't come back? What if he goes off wandering again, what do we do then?

--Since I am a vagabond, I never know where I'll be when-- Kaoru: My father died. Kiheh betrayed me. If Kenshin leaves ... if I'm going to be left alone again, I'd rather meet the danger face to face!

(She runs off again, and this time no one tries to stop her.)

Sanosuke: She can't stand being separated from Kenshin. She really is selfish. Well, you can't separate selfishness from love, so I guess there's nothing you can do, huh? Although you probably don't care. (You don't look like you mind being left alone.)

Yahiko: Whatever. There's nothing you have to do. The opponent is Kenshin. The best in Japan. (pointing at himself) By the way, I'm the second best! (Got that?)

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