Rurouni Kenshin Fan Fiction ❯ Baka Deshi ❯ Training Begins ( Chapter 3 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Over the rest of the week, Hiko continued to feed Kenshin a high protein diet to get some flesh onto the boy's thin body. He was pleased to notice that within three days, Kenshin looked more like a real boy and less like a waif of the world. His eyes were brighter and the hollow spots on his face and frame were beginning to fill out. His skin was still pale, but perhaps that was normal.

Hiko introduced Kenshin to his regular chores which included: chopping the firewood, gathering water from the river, washing the dishes and cups, dusting, sweeping, scrubbing the floor, and doing the laundry (since he seemed to possess a knack for getting yellow stains out of bed sheets).

"New rule. Nothing to drink for two hours before you turn in," said Hiko on the third morning of Kenshin's stay at his cabin as he watched the boy scrub yet another bed sheet.

Kenshin could only nod in agreement.

Hiko also decided to teach Kenshin how to cook when he thought the boy could be trusted not to burn the cabin down.

In addition to those chores, Kenshin would be responsible for maintaining his training clothes when he got them.

"You'd better not tear them or lose them because they're all you're getting for six months," said Hiko. He would have made it a year, but he knew boys this age grew.

Looking up from washing the latest sheet to be stained, Kenshin gulped and nodded.

"When you're finished with the sheet, we'll go and see if they're ready," said Hiko.

After Kenshin hung the sheet out to dry, he followed Hiko down the mountain to the village. When they came to the tailor shop, they went inside and stepped out of their sandals before stepping up into the store. The seamstress recognized them immediately.

"Ah, yes, they're all finished," she chirped. "Wait here and I'll get them for you."

Hiko nodded while Kenshin stood still beside him, violet eyes again admiring the pretty fabrics.

The seamstress returned with the clothes folded in a pack with a string tied around them so they could be carried easily. She made to hand them to Hiko, but he stopped her.

"They're not mine," he said, gesturing to Kenshin.

The seamstress handed the pack to Kenshin who took it in his arms. Hiko paid the seamstress, then turned to Kenshin.

"Well, she made them for you. Aren't you going to say something to her?" he asked.

Kenshin bowed.

"Thank you for the clothes, madam," he said so softly he could scarcely be heard.

"You're most welcome, little one," said the seamstress, not believing Kenshin any older than eight.

Kenshin's cheeks turned scarlet at being called "little one", but he decided it prudent not to rebuke her in his master's presence.

"Kenshin!" called Hiko as he turned and headed to the genkan.

Kenshin followed Hiko out of the shop, stepping into his sandals as he went. Back up the mountain they went, Kenshin finding it quite difficult to navigate with the clothes in his arms, but not daring to drop them, nor to ask for help.

Finally, blessedly, they reached the cabin. As soon as they were in, Hiko turned to his apprentice.

"Alright, Kenshin. I want you out of those rags and in your training clothes in five minutes. Your week of leisure is up as of today," said Hiko.

Kenshin frowned. He hadn't found the week too leisurely, what with Shishou making him do chores nearly from dusk till dawn. Hiko turned and strode from the cabin.

Laying down the pack and untying the string, Kenshin lifted the clothes out. There were white juban, three gi-- one blue, one gray and one dark green-- and three monpei, all the same shade of gray. There were also three pairs of tabi, which matched each of the gi in color. Kenshin selected the dark green for his first day.

Quickly, the boy stripped down to his fundoshi and slid his arms into the juban and tied the sash. This done, he picked up the dark green gi and slid his arms into the sleeves and folded the left flap over the right, then stepped into the monpei, pulled them up and tied them. Next he pulled the tabi onto his feet as far up as far as they'd go. He then stepped outside the cabin, stepping into his sandals as he went.

Kenshin walked down to the training ground, conscious of how different he felt in these clothes. He'd never had new clothes in his life, having worn his brothers' outgrown clothes as a peasant and rags as a slave.

Ah, there was Shishou by the large training posts. Kenshin stood before him.

"About time. I was beginning to think you didn't know how to tie your monpei," teased Hiko.

Kenshin flushed scarlet with indignation.

"Sh-shishou!" he cried.

Hiko snorted, then looked Kenshin over with a critical eye.

"Hmmm, you still look like a stray puppy with that ponytail. C'mere," he said.

Kenshin stood before his master, who turned him around, pulled his hair out of the ponytail, smoothed it down a bit, then caught it and yanked up into a high tail.


"Quit yelping. I'm almost done," said Hiko, binding Kenshin's hair in its tie. "There. I'll teach you how to do it yourself tonight."

Kenshin reached up and felt his hair, now pulled up in a high pony tail on the back of his head, just like the samurai. It gave him a queer feeling.

Hiko pulled a pair of wrist guards out from his cape. He held them out to Kenshin who took them slowly and slid his hands into them.

"They were mine as a boy. They'll serve you well," said Hiko.

"Thank you, Shishou," said Kenshin softly.

"Now, just one more thing," said Hiko, again reaching into his cape.

Hiko pulled out a sheathed katana and held it out to Kenshin. Skin turning paler than usual, the boy quailed and took a step back. Hiko blinked.

"Well, what are you just standing there for? Take it," he barked.

"A real sword?" asked Kenshin in a subdued voice.

"Of course a real sword," snorted Hiko. "What did you think you'd train with, a stick?"

Kenshin nodded dumbly.

"Baka deshi," said Hiko.


Hiko glared.

"What does 'oro' mean anyway?" he asked.

"I don't know. Everyone in my village said it," explained Kenshin.

'What, were you inbred or something?' thought Hiko.

"Look Kenshin, I'll tell you this once and only once. Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu is satsujinken, a killing sword. Practicing it with shinai, bokken or anything besides a katana will defeat the purpose. As a warrior, you will be hurt and face death many times. You might as well know that at the start," said Hiko, again holding out the katana.

Kenshin reached for the katana, but his hand began to tremble so violently, he had to pull back. He looked at Hiko with shame in his face. What kind of deshi was he when he couldn't even hold a katana?

"You're thinking of those girls," said Hiko.

Kenshin started. How did Shishou always do that? Mutely, he nodded.

"That memory can either destroy you or make you stronger," said Hiko.

"I want to be strong," said Kenshin, meeting his master's gaze.

"Then use that memory as your driving force. You will get stronger so you can prevent what happened to those girls from happening to anyone else you see," said Hiko.

Kenshin nodded, eyes blazing a bit.

'Good,' thought Hiko.

"Enough talk. Training begins!" said Hiko, again holding the katana out for Kenshin.

'It's heavy,' he thought to himself as he took the sheathed weapon into his hands.

"Well, are you going to spend the day marveling at it, or actually begin learning to use it?" asked Hiko impatiently.

Kenshin looked up at his master and nodded, all the doubt gone from his eyes.

'For Kasumi-san, Sakura-san and Akane-san,' Kenshin thought as he slowly drew the polished blade from its sheath and slid the sheath into his obi.

"Now the first thing is how to hold the sword. Do as I do," said Hiko, gripping Winter Moon with his left hand at the bottom end of the hilt and his right hand at the top, just below the base of the blade.

Kenshin adjusted his grip and held the katana tightly. Hiko gave Winter Moon a few basic swings and Kenshin followed suit. Although he was clumsy as any beginner would be, Hiko detected definite ability. Kenshin just needed proper training and he would go far with the blade.

For the rest of the afternoon, Hiko did the basic forms and Kenshin mimicked him. Sometimes he caught on right away, sometimes he needed some coaching.

"Not like that, baka deshi! Do it again and get it right this time!" barked Hiko.

"Yes, Shishou," said Kenshin.

He repeated the move and looked to Hiko for approval.

"Acceptable," he said while quickly moving on to the next form.

With an inward sigh, Kenshin continued. He put more strength and determination into each swing as he went. With each movement, Kenshin overcame his fear of the blade and instead began to embrace it as his way to get stronger. One day, with a sword at his side, Kenshin would defend the common people from the tyranny of stronger. His strength would be theirs!

When Hiko was certain Kenshin wasn't looking, he nodded his approval. He could sense the determined spirit in the boy's ki. With each swing, the shackles of slavishness fell away, revealing Kenshin's true spirit.

Their practice continued even as the sun slipped toward the horizon. As the sun set and the birds and woodland creatures returned to their homes, Hiko carried an exhausted Kenshin back to the cabin. The boy would get stronger and would be a worthy successor in a few years. It would be an honor for Hiko to pass the Hiten sword onto him, then he would be able to rest at last.