Rurouni Kenshin Fan Fiction ❯ The Lost Hatchling ❯ Revenge ( Chapter 7 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
The Lost Hatchling, a Rurouni Kenshin fanfic by Raberba girl
Chapter 6 - Revenge (ROUGH DRAFT)

Kenshin was not sure what had awakened him. He was not even aware that he had fallen asleep, but he opened his eyes and knew that someone was watching him with hatred. He was on his feet at once, hand at his hip before he remembered that his sword was gone.

Golden eyes were glowing in the darkness. Kenshin stared, not realizing what he was seeing for a minute, and then a shiver went down his spine. "Who are you?" he whispered.

There was a glint of teeth - a smile? Then a soft voice drifted ominously through the darkness. "I am Battousai."

His flesh creeping, Kenshin edged forward and nearly froze again at what he saw. A ghost from the past, himself, dressed in the same clothes as that never-forgotten hitokiri, the same scar, the same hair....

It was an effort to come back to reality, but when he did, Kenshin felt like he had lost his breath all at once. This was no supernatural apparition. "Kenji."

Alarmed, the boy backed away when Kenshin was suddenly as close as he could get, stretching his arms desperately through the bars. "Kenji!"

"Don't touch me," the young assassin snapped.

"Kenji...please...we thought you were dead. Please."

"I don't see why you should have lost any sleep over that," Kenji said coolly. As Kenshin stared at him, speechless, Kenji said slowly, "I came here to kill you, I think. I thought...it was so convenient, you getting locked up-- I wanted to look at you." He paused. "You're actually pretty pathetic. I..." He hadn't expected that. He had expected the cold warrior of that night, not this desperate, wide-eyed figure, so slight and shabby-looking. "I'm pretty disappointed, actually."

"Will you come back to us?" Kenshin whispered. "We don't care, Kenji - it doesn't matter what happened to you, or what you've done. We want you back. Please. Go to the house, find your mother; I will get out of here as soon as I can--"

"Shut up." Kenji stood utterly still, radiating waves of fury. That this man, this excuse for a father, would tell him exactly what he longed to hear, convinced him that it was all utter lies. It hurt and disgusted him, and any lingering respect he might have had for Himura Kenshin died.

"I meant to kill you here, but...I think I'll wait." He visibly calmed, and Kenshin's mouth came open in dismay as he realized that his son had retreated behind a wall of arrogant reserve. Kenshin knew about walls. "Kenji--"

"I don't," Kenji snapped, "want to hear anything else you say. I don't want to have anything to do with you, actually, except to watch you die - and I think that will be more...interesting if I wait until you're not locked up."

"Lend me your sword," Kenshin said in a low voice. "Then I will free myself, and we can talk."

Kenji smiled coldly and bowed with great sarcasm. "See you later, Himura Kenshin." He turned and walked away.

"Kenji! Kenji!" Kenshin flung himself against the bars and stretched his arms through them as far as they would go, reaching desperately for the son he was once again losing. "KENJI!"

o.o.o.o.o

Saitô's calm expression and unhurried pace seemed odd next to the half-panicked nervousness of the men who trotted at his heels. He could have been taking a leisurely stroll rather than heading to the location of a dangerous prisoner whose current behavior had put the whole building on high alert. "C-Captain, this way please," one of the men stammered, obviously restraining himself from adding, 'Please hurry!'

Saitô nodded, his pace unaltered. The shouting had grown louder and louder as they approached, and Saitô now stood watching the scuffle, almost deafened by the noise. The small red-haired figure was difficult to see, crushed under brutal hands and angry voices; at the moment Saitô was able to get a good look at him, he raised a bloodied face, mouth half-open in a snarl, eyes blazing, managing even while half-drugged to avoid being bound with a limited degree of success.

"Let him go." No one heard him at first. Saitô continued to wait, and was pretty disgusted when the prisoner noticed him before any his own men did. Kenshin stilled, eyes fixed on Saitô, and the men yelled triumphantly, seizing their advantage. A few more then noticed Saitô and quickly saluted; this drew the attention of their companions, until the noise had died away. Kenshin knelt in the hush, unable to move his arms and making no attempt to, ignoring the ring of guns trained on him, golden eyes till fixed on Saitô. Again, this time in a voice ominous with displeasure, "Let him go."

"But we just got--!" The protest cut off abruptly. After a long, uncomfortable pause, someone stepped forward and uneasily worked to release Kenshin, soon joined by another to help. Kenshin did not move when he was free, ignoring the guns still trained on him as he gazed at Saitô. Then he said, very quietly, "Another?"

Saitô did not think it was any of Battousai's business to know that, indeed, another assassination had been performed, meaning that Himura Kenshin could no longer be held. He was not the only slight, scarred, red-haired killer around. "You will be happy to learn," Saitô said ironically, "that you are no longer a primary suspect for the 'Hitokiri Battousai' murders. If you will step right his way, we can process you out of here."

Kenshin's jaw clenched, the only sign that he must be upset over the crimes of his son. However he said nothing as he got gracefully to his feet and followed Saitô out.

o.o.o.o.o

The sound of a key unlocking the front door sent Kaoru into a panic. She and the girls were halfway out one of the back windows when Kenshin's voice echoed through the house. "Kaoru-dono?"

Kaoru froze.

"It's Daddy!" the girls cried joyfully, but she hushed them.

"Stay here," she whispered, and crept back to the bedroom door. Peeking around it, she gasped when she saw her husband right in front of her, reaching for the handle, his eyes wide in mutual surprise. "Oh-- it really is you," she gasped in relief, wild scenarios from movies and TV collapsing from her imagination.

They hugged for a long time, Kaoru too happy to speak, the girls chattering and patting his face and hair to reassure themselves, Kenshin smiling though his expression was troubled. Kaoru knew better than to ask until the children were asleep and they sat watchfully in the bedroom doorway with cups of tea. "What is it?"

He stared down into the steaming liquid as he answered. "Did you...hear about the latest assassinations?"

"The targets are all people involved with dragons in one way or another," she said gravely. "It has something to do with Enishi and Shishio, doesn't it."

Kenshin was silent for a minute, still not looking at her. Then he said softly, "I was arrested...because the assassin...looked like me. Even though I didn't do it. And I was released because the same person struck again when I was locked up and couldn't have done it." He raised his eyes to hers at last, his face full of anguished hope. "Do you understand?"

Kaoru was crying so that she couldn't say 'Yes,' but he knew, and reached to comfort her.

"We can't let the police get their hands on him," she whispered fiercely. "I will not lose him again."

"My thoughts," he murmured, his eyes golden, "exactly."

o.o.o.o.o

A week later, Himura Kenji performed his last assassination, though he did not realize it at the time. Everything seemed normal when he got back - until he was attacked the instant he stepped into Shishio's office to report in.

He was too well trained to be taken entirely by surprise; however, the fact that the assailant was his master caused him to hesitate, and the next moment he found himself standing red-faced and stiff with shame as Shishio held a sword to his throat in what could have been a killing strike. "You were followed, my stupid apprentice," Shishio said coldly.

Kenji's mouth dropped open. "What?"

A burst of gunfire in the distance made him blink, and he turned as Shishio sheathed the sword and ambled out of the room. Kenji and Yumi followed him to the main entrance passage, and watched as policemen found cover and shot at dragons armed with swords and fire. Kenji's was amazed at the amount of blood - he was used to seeing it up close, from one or two people, as a result of sword wounds. Seeing so many gunned down or slashed open or burnt to cinders, hearing the screams of so many wounded or dying men all at once, seeing so much blood flow as carelessly as if it had no worth....

"Does the sight of it bother you?" Shishio asked scornfully.

Kenji straightened his shoulders. "No."

"Even though this is all your fault?"

Kenji went cold. "I...." He had let the police find Shishio's hideout. Shishio was losing men and resources because of him - these people were dying because of him. "Forgive me, Shishou," his whispered.

"What you need more than forgiveness," Shishio said conversationally, "is to prove to me that you're still worth keeping. Yumi and I are leaving now. Come find us, or die, one way or the other. I'll leave it to you."

Kenji did not watch Shishio walk away. His eyes were fixed on the chaos ahead, and the knowledge of what he had to do. 'I am...an assassin,' he thought uneasily. 'I am meant to kill....' One or two targets, dangers to his kind. He had never gone up against a huge group before, even though he had been trained for it. He wasn't looking forward to massacre. 'But...what else is there?'

Kenji's eyes narrowed. 'This is who I am now. No looking back. There is nothing left to look back to.' He pushed Megumi's face from his mind and resolved to clean out his master's enemies.

Before that, however, there was one very important matter to take care of. This might be his last chance.

Kenji turned aside and began to hunt for his prey. He had been preparing for this, quietly, for a long time.

o.o.o.o.o

Shishio was obviously done for, or at least this location was. Enishi avoided pockets of fighting, his blood slowly boiling, knowing that Tomoe and her husband had run straight into the arms of the invaders. He had to...get her back...but if she didn't want to come, would he have to hold her prisoner? What kind of life would that be for either of them? 'She belongs with me.'

Enishi's attention was caught by the small figure that burst out of a nearby doorway and then froze upon seeing him. Enishi gave whoever it was an annoyed look, then grinned. "Oh. It's you."

The boy sucked in a breath and backed away, frightened eyes fixed on him. It was irresistible. Enishi stalked slowly toward him, relishing the creature's obvious fear. "What's wrong, hatchling? Not so tough now that your claws are gone?"

The boy held no sword, his clothes were torn. "Please...please, I just...want to get out of here...." He yelped and tried to dodge as Enishi lunged at him, but couldn't get away. Enishi pinned him, growling. "You really think I would let you go? Not a chance."

Kenji waited until the hands had closed around his throat. Then he struck.

o.o.o.o.o

The last of their leads had proved to be yet another dead end. They had decided they might as well run some long-neglected errands, so Kenshin went for groceries while Kaoru took the girls clothes shopping. He was the first one home that evening; the lights were all out and her car was still gone when Kenshin pulled into the driveway. He loaded his arms with bags and headed up to the house, but as he was standing in front of the door, struggling to fit his key in the lock in the darkness, he was suddenly pulled out of his what-shall-I-cook-for-dinner musings.

For a moment he stood frozen, unable to believe his senses at first. But it was true.... Someone was waiting for him inside. Someone whose identity he was certain of, since there was only one person he knew who could have that much hurt and shame mixed in with such anger. Kenshin closed his eyes and took a deep, steadying breath.

Then he finished unlocking the door and stepped inside, grumbling good-naturedly at the awkwardness of the shopping bags. Carefully keeping his eyes away from a certain corner of the living room, he began to hum as he flipped on lights and started unloading the food.

The whole time, he kept most of his attention fixed on the presence which had hesitated, then crept silently toward him, growing angrier and angrier with each movement. Kenshin was sad, but did not waver in his charade as he continued to feign obliviousness. It was only when he had put away the perishable items and closed the refrigerator door that he paused - Kenji was now so close that there was no way Kenshin could pretend not to see him when he turned around. So he sighed. "I'm glad you're here, Kenji," he said softly. There was a small spike of emotion in the ki behind him, but otherwise no reaction.

Kenshin turned around - then gasped, not having realized that Kenji was wounded, with blood staining his clothes and dripping in a trail on the floor. The boy smiled, mistaking the gasp for a reaction to the sword he was holding threateningly close. "I was thinking...that I'd probably regret it if you died not knowing what hit you."

"Kenji," his father said softly. "Now that you've come...will you please stay with us?"

Kenji's eyes narrowed. "I think you're misunderstanding the situation. I've come to kill you with this." He touched the sword testingly to his father's throat. Kenshin didn't move, reaching for him with his eyes. "Kenji...I saw what Enishi told you. It was a lie."

Kenji shook his head violently, though he lowered his weapon.

"We wanted you back...we wanted you so badly--"

"Shut up!" The sword flashed and thrust; Kenshin choked back a groan of pain as he was pierced through. Kenji's breath came rushing out of him in a stunned gasp as he saw that he had just done in reality what he had only done in his dreams and nightmares for so long. "I...." I've surpassed you. I'm better than you. I don't...need you anymore.

It didn't feel particularly good, not like this. He felt like he had been lonely, and had come close to somewhere warm, and with this act he was going away into the cold again. 'I'm supposed to be alone,' he thought, but was unable to convince himself.

He was surprised when Kenshin slowly pushed himself along the sword's length, trying to get closer. The man's trembling fingers reached to touch his son's face as Kenji stood frozen. "Then...let my blood...be the last...that your hands ever spill." He had to pause for more breath. "Set your crimes...on my shoulders...and...be free." Kenshin's legs were unable to hold him anymore. They buckled and he sank to the floor, half-lying in the pool of his own blood. Kenji had somehow been drawn down with him, staring at him.

Kenshin was losing consciousness. He did not react much when his cell phone suddenly went off, except to cry out in pain when Kenji jumped at the unexpected noise. The tune was a scratchy recording of a love song that had been assigned to one of Kenshin's contacts. "Kaoru-dono," he murmured. At that his hand moved feebly toward his pocket, out of a vague desire to hear her voice again before he died. He gasped in pain when Kenji shoved his hand aside and fought to get the phone out of his pocket, the task made difficult because of trembling fingers.

Kenji stared at the tiny screen, reading the name on it over and over again. Then he slowly put the phone to his ear.

"Kenshin? I said I'm on my way home, did you hear me? Kenshin? Hello?"

"I think," Kenji whispered into the phone, "I did something bad."

There was silence. Then, confused and frightened, "...Kenshin? Who is.... Hello?"

"Come here!" Kenji suddenly screamed at her. "Hurry and come back, before he dies! Come back, come back, please!"

He looked down at Kenshin, whose eyes were closed. Kenji's mouth opened. "........" Nothing came out. He didn't know what to call him. He finally swallowed and forced the word out of his mouth. "Dad?" There was no response. The phone slipped from his hands and Kenji bent over his father, tugging helplessly at his shoulders. "D-- Batt--" He swallowed. "...Dad?"

Nothing, still nothing, and suddenly Kenji was pounding the floor and shouting. "Wake up! I didn't mean-- I did mean it, I hate you, but I-- Wake up, I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I-- but now-- please don't--! Dad! Dad, Dad, Dad...!" Then he just crushed his fingertips against his skull and screamed without words. If he had been alone, he would have thought of driving the blade through his own heart, because for the first time he let himself realize how much he hated - not Enishi, not Kenshin, but himself.

o.o.o.o.o

Tomoe stared at the body for a long time. She could not speak for a while, though she had recognized the corpse instantly, even with half its face burned and its body scored by claw marks and the slashed hole where the heart had once been. "Yes," she finally said. "It's him." Saitô nodded, a little mollified that at least one of his prey was dead, even though the other had escaped.

Tomoe reached out and very gently touched her brother's hand. "It was when you started to love your revenge more than you loved me," she whispered. "Good-bye, Enishi."

to be continued...

Author's Note: In my other stories, Enishi usually redeems himself in some degree by the end. However, both of us wanted to try a different fate for him here, in keeping with the darker tone of this fic. (Strangely enough, although he didn't trust me before, he started liking me when I made the decision to let him go all-out and then kill him off. Heh, I think he prefers that to the frustrated little whiner I made him be in Faerie Chronicles.) I find it interesting that the range of his potential is so broad, and I've got a lot of (much nicer) stuff planned for him in future fics.