February 1880

Kamiya Dojo

The night air was cold, so cold that a glass of water would freeze in five minutes flat. The snow raged outside in a blizzard, buffeting the dojo's strong walls. Wise folk stayed inside and close to the hearth fires on nights such as this. One of such was Himura Kenshin, who lay half-awake, listening to the sound of the storm raging outside, glad to be inside and warm on a night like this. Well did he remember spending many a cold, dark night outside, clad in rags, trying in vain to keep a small fire burning as his only source of heat. If the fire died, he would surely have died. He had nearly died a few times. Always though, it seemed like luck was on his side. He would be found by a kindly stranger, taken in and nursed back to health.

It never lasted though. In the end, he always left to wander again. The people who took him in usually bade him farewell and wished him luck on his journey. One or two had even asked him to stay on with them, but during that turbulent decade, he couldn't. As a young wanderer, he was still confused, still hurting, still running from the darkness of his days as Hitokiri Battousai, and as the killer of his beloved Tomoe.

Kenshin gazed into the fire burning in the brazier that kept the room warm. He was glad that those days of sleeping out in the cold were done forever. After so many years of wandering, he'd found the home his soul had craved with his second wife, Kaoru, the first person in years to accept him just as he was with no reservations.

To unconditionally accept seemed to be Kaoru's very nature. She opened up her dojo without question to an assassin, a freeloading street brawler, a foul-mouthed pickpocket and an opium maker. In the Kamiya Dojo, there was no judgment, only a second chance at life. Although it had been Kenshin himself who had plucked each of these people off the streets and set them on their new paths, it was Kaoru who had provided them with a safe hide away from a world that still saw them for who they had been. If Kenshin was the one who formed the group known as the Kenshingumi, Kaoru was the red thread that bound them together.

Kenshin glanced at his wife of nine months, sleeping blissfully by his side. He smiled at her, captivated by her beauty and innocence. She looked like an angel when she slept. Kenshin's eyelids grew heavier and heavier. Sleep was calling to him. Kenshin stretched out comfortably and snuggled close to Kaoru, answering sleep's call.



Ginger and Jasmine