Rurouni Kenshin Fan Fiction ❯ Maternal Expectation ❯ Snows of December ( Epilogue )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

The first snows had come, bringing with them the bone-chilling winds that nipped at nose and toes and made one grateful for the hearth. For Kenshin, the snow as always brought bitter memories of his parents and Tomoe. A great deal of the sting had disappeared from this day because he no longer had to face it alone as in his younger days, but to him this would be a day of sadness to his grave.

The sound of the wind howling outside kept Kenshin from sleep. He tossed and turned, but try as he might, he couldn't find the elusive slumber. He looked enviously at Kaoru who slept without a care in the world. The sound of Kenji's tiny voice alerted him. Reaching for the lantern and matches, he quickly lit it and walked over to the baby's cradle.

Setting down the lantern, Kenshin looked into the cradle to see a pair of huge, blue eyes staring up at him. Now that Kenji was older, he could actually focus his eyes on one thing instead of seeming to look through one. Kenji wasn't crying. He seemed to be having a bit of trouble sleeping too. Smiling to himself, Kenshin reached into the cradle and pulled the little boy out. Sitting back against the wall, Kenshin held the baby, carefully supporting his head and looked into the boy's eyes.

"You can't sleep either, huh?" he said softly. "I used to hate this time of year with all my heart."

He paused and thought for a second.

"It still hurts a bit, but not like it used to," he said softly. "As a child, I never got the chance to romp in the snow, build a snowman or have a snowball fight. I'm looking forward to doing those things with you when you're a little older. I'll make certain that you have the happy childhood I never did. Does that sound good to you, Kenji?"

The baby cooed in response. Kenshin smiled and leaned in to plant a kiss on his son's forehead.

"Oro?" he yelped quietly as he felt a sharp yank.

Kenji's wee fingers had entwined themselves in Kenshin's hair and gave a good tug. Laughing softly, Kenshin gently extracted his hair from the baby's hands, which immediately made after it again.

"Kenji, is that the right thing to do to your own father?" asked Kenshin teasingly.

Kenji laughed again and if Kenshin didn't know any better, he thought he saw mischief in the baby's eyes.

'Can't be. He's only a baby,' he thought to himself.

Kenshin laid Kenji back in his cradle and rocked it gently until the little boy's eyes were sealed shut in sleep. He meant to just sit and watch the boy sleep for a few minutes, a pasttime he found strangely soothing. He never noticed his eyelids getting heavier and heavier.

In the morning, Kaoru found Kenshin curled up next to the cradle, fast asleep. With a smile and shake of her head, she draped a blanket over him.