Rurouni Kenshin Fan Fiction ❯ The White Rabbit ❯ The Blizzard ( Chapter 2 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Suddenly he realized that something was terribly wrong. While he and Kenji had been talking, the sky had been steadily darkening. Only now had he noticed it. A blizzard was moving in! Without a word, Kenshin picked Kenji up in his arms and started running as fast as he could. He couldn't summon the godlike speed again so soon, so he would have to go as fast as he could without it.

"Daddy?" asked Kenji.

"There's a blizzard coming in. We have to hurry home," said Kenshin simply. Kenji held onto Daddy for dear life.

It was too late! The snow came blowing in on bone-chilling wind. It wasn't too bad at first. Kenshin ran as fast as he could, hoping to beat it before it got stronger. His hopes were dashed as it quickly strengthened into a whiteout so thick that Kenshin couldn't see even one foot in front of him. From his past experience wandering, he knew it would be foolhardy to try and find their way back to the dojo in the whiteout.

Kenshin groped about blindly for some kind of shelter, something to lean against. He was relieved when his hand brushed up against the unmistakable texture of tree bark. He squatted down underneath the tree, set Kenji against it and shielded the boy with his body to keep the wind from hitting him and causing frostbite.

"Daddy, are we going to die?" asked Kenji.

"Not if I can help it, Kenji," said Kenshin, holding the boy as close to him as he could.

The storm continued for what seemed like an eternity. It buffeted Kenshin's slender body, robbing him of body heat despite his winter clothes. Kenshin was losing feeling in his legs. His red mane was frozen and coated with snow. Kenji watched in horror as his father's naturally pallid skin started to turn blue. He touched Daddy's left cheek and felt how icy it was.

"Daddy, I'm sorry," said Kenji, tears welling in his blue eyes.

"W-w-what f-f-or?" stuttered the shivering Kenshin.

"I shouldn'tve run away from you. We got caught out here cuz of me," said Kenji, who was remarkably perceptive for such a young child.

"D-d-don't t-think t-that. N-nobod-dy's f-f-fault," said Kenshin with great difficulty.

Kenshin could feel his consciousness slipping. He knew that if he fell asleep, all was lost. He needed something to keep him going.

"Kenji. I-I n-need you to do something for me," he said.

"What?" said Kenji.

"W-w-whenever you see my eye c-c-close, I want you to y-yank my h-hair," said Kenshin. "Will y-you d-do this?"

"Yank your hair? Isn't that bad?" asked Kenji.

"N-not here and not now. I need t-to s-stay a-w-w-ake. Don't l-l-let me g-go t-t-t-to s-s-sleep," said Kenshin.

Kenji didn't understand the situation totally, but somehow his four-year-old brain connected Daddy's going to sleep here with the white rabbit lying on the snow. He didn't want Daddy to end up like the white rabbit.

"Don't go to sleep Daddy!" he shouted.

Over the next half hour, Kenji did everything in his four-year-old power to keep his father awake. He sang songs, said rhymes, and told funny stories. Whenever Kenshin's eyes started to shut, Kenji would yank Daddy's hair as hard as he could until Kenshin's eyes would snap open.

"G-ggood arms, s-s-son," he complimented, earning a grin from Kenji.

After what seemed like an eternity, the wind died down. It continued to snow, but not as thickly. The world, which had been blotted out by a screen of white, came into view again.

"Daddy, I see the trees!" said Kenji.

Kenshin's brain was almost completely dead from the cold. He could barely function. The only thing keeping him from dropping was the need to get them both moving, get Kenji home to Kaoru. Summoning all the strength he had left, Kenshin sat up and rubbed his hands on his arms, trying to get the blood circulating again. His arms had some feeling because they hadn't been directly exposed to the wind, but his legs felt like deadweights.

"I can't feel my legs. I need you to help me rub them so they warm up," said Kenshin.

Kenji got to work, rubbing Daddy's legs as hard as his four-year-old hands could. Thanks to Daddy acting as a barrier between him and the wind, Kenji hadn't suffered too badly from the cold. Slowly with the vigorous rubbing, Kenshin began to feel tingling in his legs as his circulation slowly returned to them.

Bracing himself against the maple tree, Kenshin managed to get to his feet. He had to hold onto the tree to gain his balance for a few minutes. Then he pushed off, his body crying out for warmth and sleep. Kenshin's swordsman's training and survival instincts knew that if he listened to his body, he'd die out here.

"Kenji, keep talking to me as we walk. Keep me awake. Keep me moving," said Kenshin as he stumbled along.

As they headed back the way they'd come, Kenji ran around yelling, laughing and singing. A couple times, Kenshin sank to his knees from exhaustion. Kenji sharply yanked Daddy's auburn hair till he got to his feet and got moving again. Finally, the back gate of the dojo was in sight. Kenshin willed his body to go on just a little farther. Kenji grabbed his dad's right hand and tugged at him.

"C'mon Daddy. We're home! We're home!" squealed the little boy, earning a faint smile from Kenshin.

Just as they reached the back gate though, Kenshin's strength gave out and he collapsed. Kenji looked back when he heard the thud and was horrified to see his father lying face-down in the snow, his crimson hair splayed out in all directions. He wasn't moving. An image of the white rabbit appeared before Kenji's eyes. Was Daddy dead?

Kenji approached his father slowly and touched him. His body was stiff and cold.

"Daddy?" he asked in a timid voice, receiving no answer. Daddy was dead! Kenji felt his heart drop out of him. He'd made Daddy die!

Kenji raced into the dojo to find Mommy. Mommy always took such good care of Daddy. Maybe, just maybe, if she could go to him in time, Mommy could save Daddy.

"Mommmmy!" wailed Kenji, in tears by now. Kenji seldom cried even at such a young age, but this was too much for his little heart to bear.