August 1, 1878

Kamiya Dojo

Sitting in front of the small shrine in the dojo, Myojin Yahiko huffed impatiently. It was time for his training, but that ugly broad was nowhere to be found.

'How am I supposed to get stronger if that crone doesn't get her ass in here and train me?' thought the 11-year-old.

The sound of the hikido sliding open caught Yahiko's attention.

'About the hell time,' the junior swordsman thought to himself, turning to look.

His chestnut eyes nearly bulged out of their sockets when instead of Kaoru, he saw Kenshin standing in the doorway with a shinai over his shoulder, staring directly at him with eyes so intense, they made shivers run down the boy's spine.

Wordlessly, Kenshin turned and headed out to the yard.

Yahiko wondered if his eyes weren't betraying him. He stood there slack jawed for a full 30 seconds before his brain started to function again.

'Pull your jaw off the floor before he reconsiders, idiot!' Yahiko's brain screamed in his head.

Yahiko charged outside, stopping only to step into his sandals and faced Kenshin, his own shinai at the ready. The two stood facing each other for what seemed an eternity. Realizing that Kenshin would not make the first move, Yahiko began.

"YAAAAAAAAAAAAH!" cried the boy as he charged forward and swung at Kenshin with all his might.

Holding the shinai in one hand, Kenshin easily blocked Yahiko's attack, sending the boy flying back a few feet, landing on his backside. Yahiko instantly sprang to his feet and barreled forward again. Swinging down, he hit Kenshin's shinai with a jarring force that Kenshin felt through his body. The redhead moved no part of his body except his right arm as he parried and blocked Yahiko's hits with the same ease with which Hiko had blocked his attacks during the training years, sending the boy flying back to the grass each time he repelled his attack.

Just back from visiting with Tae and Tsubame at the Akabeko, Kaoru slid the front gate open.

'That brat better be ready for his training, or he's polishing all the bokken,' she thought to herself.

After changing into her gi and hakama, Kaoru slid the hikido open and peered into the dojo, which she found empty and still.

'I knew it. He's probably off stuffing his face at some noodle stand again. His stomach rivals Sanosuke's for title of bottomless pit,' Kaoru thought as she slid the hikido shut with unusual vim. 'Well, we'll see about this.'

Kaoru headed out to the backyard to get some water for tea so she could wait for her errant pupil to return home so she could route him. As she got closer to the backyard, the sounds of yelling and cracking shinai reached her ears. What the hell was going on?

Kaoru rounded the corner and nearly dropped her shinai when her eyes fell on the last thing she would have thought she would ever see: Yahiko swung his shinai at Kenshin, who blocked it, easily repulsing the boy's attack. Yahiko was sent flying backwards, but was able to maintain his footing instead of wiping out. Shinai raised again, Yahiko charged forward, battle cry on his lips.

In the past, Kenshin had always refused to have anything to do with Yahiko's sword training outside of the minutest bits of advice dropped here and there. The realization of what Kenshin's newfound willingness to train Yahiko meant hit her full in the heart as she stood there watching this scenario that would have been an impossibility before the Kyoto battle.

'No doubt about it, Kenshin has truly come home,' Kaoru thought happily to herself as she walked away and left the two to their spar.