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June, 1883

Kamiya Dojo

Kenshin walked out into the front yard, scanning it for any sign of his boy. His eyes looked for any hint of a sky-blue kimono or flash of copper hair. Everything was still and there were no signs of the boy having been there. Kenshin was startled by the feeling of something lightly hitting the back of his head.

"Oro?"

"Sorry, Daddy!" came the squeaky voice of the five-year-old.

'Oh no...' Kenshin looked up and surely enough, there was Kenji standing on the dojo roof, where Kaoru had sternly forbidden him to go only yesterday.

If she saw him up there, father and son would both be on the line.

"Kenji, you know what your mom said about climbing on the roof. I need you to come down right now," called Kenshin, trying to keep his voice even and quiet so Kaoru wouldn't hear from the training hall.

"OK," called Kenji, bending his knees and balling up his body in preparation for his descent.

"Oro! Kenji, don't..." called Kenshin, but it was too late.

Kenji sprang from the roof into the air, then disappeared as gravity pulled him down.

SPLASH!

Kenshin ran around to the other side of the building just in time to see the dripping wet Kenji jumping out of the koi pond and going after one of several hapless fish that had been displaced when he had hit the water at his high velocity.

"Oroooo...."

"Daddy, knocked the fish outta the pond!" exclaimed the copper-haired child as he fumbled with the flopping fish.

"So I see," said Kenshin as he joined his son in a desperate attempt to collect the fish and get them back into the water before they died.

The fish were wet, slippery and wriggly, all of which gave Kenshin and Kenji a devil of a time picking them up and tossing them back in. Just when one thought he had a fish securely in his grip, the stupid thing would twist and wriggle and fall back to the ground in a shimmering golden streak.

"Orooooo!" cried Kenshin as one of the fish smacked him in the face with its tail fin before he unceremoniously dropped it into the pond. 'Ingrate!'

Kenji had a hard time catching one very wilful fish that kept flopping just out of his reach. Even with his lightning fast reflexes, he wasn't quite able to catch up with the fish.

"Let me help," said Kenshin as he and Kenji grasped at either end of the flopping fish.

"Got him!" declared Kenji, gripping the fish's tail fin.

"Let's hurry," said Kenshin, firmly holding the fish's head.

Kenshin and Kenji hurriedly tossed the fish back into the pond. Unfortunately, some of the other fish didn't make it because they had been out of the water too long.

"I killed them," said Kenji softly as he stared at a fish lying still in the sunlight.

"Why don't we bury them under the cherry tree so their souls can be at rest?" offered Kenshin.

Kenji mutely nodded and helped his father collect the four that had died. After burying the fish, Kenshin and Kenji raised their right hands to their mouths and mumbled the Namida prayer for the fishes' souls.

That was the end of Kenji's roof diving days, for a while.

~Owari~

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