Chapter 73: Meeting in the Forest (End)

Copyright© 2011 by Murasame

(Sanosuke, drenched in sweat, punches a rock set atop a boulder. It breaks in half.)

Sanosuke has begun training to learn the Futae no Kiwami.

Sanosuke: Damn. This isn't working. No matter how quickly I hit the rock the second time. This is supposed to be easy and I just can't do it.

It's already the third day.

Anji (appearing behind him): To say is easy. To do is hard. You knew how difficult the Futae no Kiwami was. Are you beginning to think it's impossible in just a week?

Sanosuke: Yeah, right. I still have four days. If I pissed from here, it'd reach the sea in four days.

Anji: What kind of proverb is that.

Sanosuke: I'll look forward to you deciding if I can do it or not in four days.

Anji: This is like chanting sutras to a horse. All right. You had a week. There are four days left. After that, if you still can't do it--

(He punches the boulder to his right, crushing it to smithereens.)

Anji: You'll die.

Sanosuke (grinning): Great!

Fourth day

Sanosuke (breaking rock after rock and thinking): If I could have achieved strength like this without risking my life, I wouldn't have needed this at all. What I want, what I'm searching for--

Fifth day

Anji: Such useless effort. The Futae no Kiwami was the product of ten years of training. To attain it with sheer determination alone will not be easy.

Sixth day

(Sanosuke's right hand is bleeding; he is exhausted and covered in sweat.)

Sanosuke: I still... (sinking to his knees) I still have time before dark ... I crushed all the rocks here into gravel. I'll have to go get some... (thinking) Shit. Even if I had time, I don't have the strength ... In this place I don't even know, I'm finished...

Sagara: Sanosuke...

Sanosuke: Captain ... Sagara? I must be dreaming, or it's a phantom, or... (rubbing his eyes) Aughhhh!!!! (He doesn't have feet--!)

Sagara: It's all right, Sanosuke. You've done enough. You've pushed yourself to the limit. When you recognize defeat that man will take your life. The impossible things you've done up till now are no guarantee on your life. Forget everything and rest. This is the command of your captain.

Sanosuke: I'm sorry, captain. But I can't obey. When your head was displayed, I hated the new government with all my heart. But the truth is, I hated myself just as much. The person I most respected was mercilessly killed and I couldn't do a thing about it. I despised myself for being powerless. For ten years ... I festered like that until a good man woke me up. Maybe I would have died in some fight if he hadn't. (He stands up) I don't want to go through those ten years of hatred again. And I don't want to put anyone else through then. That's why I have to be strong now. I'll fight against unjust violence with all of my power, with this fist... !

(He walks past Sagara.)

Sanosuke: Whether you're a dream, or a phantom, or a ghost ... I was glad to see you, one last time.

(Sagara smiles.)

(The next morning, Anji finds Sanosuke stretched out on the boulder, a rock still clutched in one hand.)

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