Chapter 252: The Passage of Time

Copyright© 2011 by Murasame

Sanosuke's arrest and his sudden flight. We heard all about it from that Uramura guy. That was probably the first we heard of Saitou's transfer. Then a week went by without hearing from Sanosuke.

Yahiko: We can't help him if he doesn't get back here!

Kaoru: The police haven't caught him. He hasn't been back to his longhouse. It's like he's just disappeared.

Yahiko: What do they want him for anyway? Sanosuke wouldn't attack a stranger for no reason. They should find out what's really going on here!

Kaoru: The chief's tried, but it's not easy. A lowlife gambler is one thing, but when an Ishin Shishi's been assaulted, there's not a lot he can do ... I wonder why Sanosuke didn't tell us?

Kenshin: This was Sano's personal business. If he had told us, we would have done something. I'm sure he wouldn't have wanted that.

Kaoru: But...

Kenshin: If I had traded on the name of Hitokiri Battousai, I could have settled this with a word ... but then I would be no different than Tani.

Kaoru: I see ... Sanosuke wouldn't have liked that.

Kenshin: Collusion and conspiracy was what Sano hated most. If he thought they were in the wrong, he would strike out at anyone, even me. He had to settle this himself.

Yahiko: I guess that's the kind of man he was. But you wouldn't have any mercy on him either.

Kenshin: That's true. He's a grown man. But, maybe it's because he was my only true friend. I never liked fighting, and he hated the Ishin Shishi, but despite all that, we were able to spend our time together. I've had many comrades who shared my beliefs and faced death with me, but there was never anyone like him.

Yahiko: Hm...

Sagara Sanosuke ... where have you really gone?

Voice: Hey...

(They turn. A man is standing behind the dojo fence, looking around nervously and gesturing for silence.)

Kenshin: You're a friend of Sano's--

Man: Shh ... Follow me quietly. Sano's waiting.

(Farther in the distance, hiding behind a tree and watching, is a policeman.)

(Sanosuke is waiting for them, standing in a little boat at the docks.)

Sanosuke: Yo. Been a while.

Yahiko: Sanosuke!? What the hell are you doing in a boat in the middle of the night?

Sanosuke: Should be obvious. I'm taking a boat out of here.

Yahiko: You're going to sea?

Sanosuke: Thought this was a good chance to say goodbye to lil ol' Japan and see the big wide world.

Yahiko: You're going to take that little boat to a foreign country?

Kaoru: You're so stupid! You'll die! Forget it!

Sanosuke: You're the fools. There's a ship waiting for me offshore.

(The sound of police whistles. Two of Sanosuke's friends race up.)

Friends: They found us! The cops are coming!

Cops: Find him! He's on the docks somewhere!

Yahiko (unslinging his shinai): All right, I got one--

Kenshin: No, wait a minute--

(Chief Uramura points the way--in the wrong direction.)

Uramura: There he is! This way! Charge!

Yahiko: --Say what?

Kenshin: Oro?

(Uramura glances their way and puts a finger to his lips.)

Kaoru: Chief...

Sanosuke: What's wrong? They aren't here yet? Couldn't they see me?

Kenshin: No, the chief made a "mistake."

Sanosuke: Mistake, huh ... Well, guess everyone makes mistakes. Then it's time for me to get going.

Kaoru: Hey ... are you really leaving?

Sanosuke: Yeah. But I'll make sure this isn't goodbye for life. Just be sure you got a couple of kids to show me when I get back.

Kaoru (blushing furiously): Wh-wh-what are you saying?!

Sanosuke (laughing): Don't act so innocent. Yahiko, you'd better give those two some privacy and get out of the dojo. I'll give you my longhouse.

Kaoru: Stoppit!

Yahiko: ... What am I supposed to do?

Sanosuke: What?

Yahiko: You're just going to run off with your tail between your legs and let them have their way? What if Tani hasn't learned his lesson? What if he tries something again? What is that "evil" on your back for, anyway?

There is more of this chapter...

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