July, 1859

With a sigh of disgust, Hiko reeled in the line with the worm still squirming on it. Not a single fish had bitten that day. Hiko glanced over to where Kenshin stood a few yards away, dutifully practicing his kata, almost to the last swing. The swordmaster decided that since the fish weren't coming to him, he would go to them and perhaps show the boy something new in the process.

"Nine-ninety-nine. One-thousand!" concluded Kenshin as he finished his last swing and sheathed his wakizashi.

Famished after his workout, Kenshin looked over to Hiko, anticipating a big, juicy fish and was disappointed to see that the basket was empty.

"Weren't the fish biting, Master?" he asked as he walked over and sat down next to Hiko.

"Not a single one," answered Hiko.

"I guess it's just rice and vegetables tonight," said a disappointed Kenshin.

"Like hell! I want fish and I'm getting it one way or another," said Hiko, standing up and shedding his white cape.

Kenshin watched as Hiko walked out into the water.

"What are you going to do, catch them bare handed?" asked the boy.

"Something like that. Now shut up," was Hiko's answer.

Kenshin closed his mouth and opened his eyes as Hiko waded slowly out into the lake until he was up to his thighs. The swordmaster stopped, raised his arms and waited. For what seemed like an interminable length of time, Hiko was as still as a statue. Kenshin watched from his spot under the tree, breath caught in his throat.


Before Kenshin could guess what had happened, Hiko thrust his arms into the water and yanked out a large, wriggling fish, which he promptly tossed in the boy's direction. Kenshin snatched the fish out of the air and dropped it into the large basket.



Kenshin hadn't seen the other one flying right behind it and had to struggle with this fish as it tried to flop its way back into the water. He jumped on it and tried to hold it, only to have it keep wriggling from his grip. Finally, he was able to pounce on it with his whole body and holding it close to his chest, brought it back to the basket and dumped it in.



Kenshin snagged another fish out of the air and quickly dropped it into the basket to be ready for the next one Hiko caught shortly thereafter.

Things proceeded like this for the next eight minutes until they had caught six fish. Hiko slogged out of the lake, water dripping from his tunic and monpei and picked up his white cape.



"Do you think I could learn to fish like that?" asked Kenshin.

"You might someday. Right now though, you're far too awkward and have too much wasted motion to be able to do it," answered Hiko.

Kenshin nodded sadly. He knew he was rather clumsy at times, but he felt like the sword training was beginning to rid him of that. The boy trotted into the forest and found several medium sized sticks that would do for a fire.

After Kenshin returned with the sticks, he watched as Hiko set them up into a serviceable campfire and lit a flame with quartz rocks.

That evening, master and student dined on roast fish before the setting sun.


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