“I'm not lost, just my emotions are”
“The Strong Live, and The weak Die”
Soujiro sat on the ground, hugging his wound. His face was pale and his eyes in shock.
“What . . . did I do that would hurt you so much?” He chocked.
Chiaki scoffed, “Hikari momono, she was a very important government figure at the time of the Meji restoration. Sadly, she was assassinated on her 23rd birthday. By you. She was assassinated because of a law she was going to pass, one that would cripple Makoto's planning, if you will. It was a law that would exile all swords man to one island. Not many people liked it but others gladly supported. I think Makoto Shishio was a bit worried. So you killed her under his orders. You never noticed the small geisha behind the rice paper that saw you swiftly murder her. Slicing her throat with that heartless smile. The one you still wear to this very day.
After you had left in such a speed that was un-human I tumbled out and buried her. Everyone thinks she just went missing, or she ran away. The truth is . . . you, Sojiro the Tenken, Sojiro the Heaven's Sword, killed my Hikari-Onee-Chan.” Tears streamed down Chiaki's face as her hands started to shake. Her lips turned to a frightened smile.
Sojiro hid his face from her, his bangs over his wavering eyes. He looked up at her, smile on his face along with frightened blue eyes. His hands grasped together and his body shaking.
“I'm sorry . . .” He said with a frowning, “I was so. . . blind.”
“Well now you will suffer like she did.” Chiaki stood to her feet. Grabbing his sword. “I'll go to tokyo myself.”
“Will you ever forgive me? Even if. . . I do die?” He frowned, looking back at her teary face.
She frowned, a shadow coming along her face,“ The real truth is . . .” Tears started to pour down her face and her voice cracked under pressure, she continued with a gasp, “I would love to . . . yet sadly, I-I can never forgive you for what you did.” She whispered. “I almost fell in love you with you, Sojiro. But I had to stop myself.”
She slowly sunk to the ground, his blue eyes watching her in a cold stare“Do you believe in love at first sight?” She continued in a gasp, looking at his dieing face. He swallowed and tried to speak yet sound was lacking from his words. His mouth stopped.
“How could you . . . kill someone . . . you loved? Even if . . . your love was secret?” He asked with gasps of air. There was something other then the knife, there was poison in his veins.
“How would you ever know anything about love?” she scoffed in her tears.
Soujiro smiled, “I used to know nothing. Everything in life was a blur. It was all about the strong living and the weak dieing. All about death, all about how many different ways I could end ones life. I was consumed by Shishio-sama's rule. I had no mind of my own.” Soujiro took a shaky breath, “But two years ago I woke up from what had seemed to be a long gray nightmare. I breathed the air for the first time, and I loved for the first time. I wield a sword today because of what happened. Although I have only had my emotions for at least two years . . . I know allot.” He sighed, laying his head against the cold ground. Chiaki stared at him like a ghost.
“I-I'm sorry!” She fell over his body in a fit of tears and gasps. She hugged him close and gathered up his dieing body in a heap. She stroked his hair and kissed his face. She looked at his face, he was smileing.
“A smile is your last defense, Sojiro?” Chiaki asked fiddling nervously with his thick black hair, “I-I wouldn't have to do t-this, but you killed Onee-chan. I-it's revenge, you should understand that.” She smiled for a moment, but it faded to soon, “The least I can do is let you die in my arms!” She hugged him tighter.
He looked up at Chiaki with big eyes and a smile, tears streaming down his cheeks to match her own face. She closed her eyes, not looking at him. Shaking her head she laid it on his. Running her hand up on his chest she scooted him closer.
“T-the poison is a slow working one, its all I had the money for. It was originally for self defense against those debt collectors. It will take awhile for your whole system to shut down. I'm . . so sorry I had to do this.” More tears ran down her face and onto his hair, her voice shook and her lips quivered.
Sojiro's mind was fogged as he stared at Chiaki's teary face. Half of him was mad and surprised at how easily he let his guard down. The other half was happy to be with Chiaki during the last moments of his life, although he did have a small . . . crush . . .on her, he would never admit it. He was neutral toward Chiaki now, although he was angry for her actions, he also understood her pain.
His body started to cool down. He could feel his system giving up as the poison pulsed through his skinny body. He started to gasp for breath as his chest tightened up. He managed to grasp onto Chiaki for life, the knife slipping out of his stomach.
The day started to take it's course, the afternoon turning into evening. The two's tears started to dry as the poison took more and more effect on Sojiro's body. Chiaki reluctant to help him, instead just hold him tighter. Leaves danced around them as the day started to close. The heat pounding down on their dry bodies.
Deep inside, Chiaki was confused. She had to kill the Tenken or Hikari would never rest in peace. Hikari would never sleep in silence until her murder was killed. Chiaki knew that with all of her mind, yet her heart wanted something else. Sojiro was the only man that had showed her respect as a geisha. The only one that had smiled for her, protected her, cared for her just the least bit. She had fallen in love with him, she had loved him, she wanted to hold him in her arms more then once. Yet if this was all that could be done, if this is the only time she could hold him without any regrets, she would be happy. Although the pain in her heart of killing her first loved one was almost unbearable.
She shifted to look at his face, his eyes slitted open, a relaxed smile on his lips. His face was cold and blue tinted, his eyes dark and almost lifeless.
Chiaki gulped, not able to hide it anymore and hugged him tighter and started to cry. Her voice growing in volume as she dug her head into his hair, sobbing.
“I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I love you, Sojiro! I really do! I didn't want fate to be this way! I should have let go of the past!” She lifted his head and kissed him, holding on tight to his torso so he wouldn't fall over. Placing her lips by his ear she spoke, “If I could stop it now I would, sitting alone here with you has brought out my true emotions even when I didn't want to acknowledge them myself. I see now what is truly in my heart. I had held onto Hikari-Onee-Chan too long, and it brought my love to his death.” She laid his head onto the ground, laying him out slowly. She took off her shall and wrapped it around him.
“Even though this is my doing, I feel like I can't give up without trying. . . I'll go get help!” She sat over Sojiro, looking into his slitted eyes. Looking up at her, his smile grew wider. Tears fell onto his face from hers. Chiaki nodded, standing up she tore her kimono and took off towards HakuChi's house. She was a doctor and the only doctor around for miles. Even if Chiaki hated the girl, she was the only one that could help now.
Running as fast her legs could take her Chiaki whipped through trees and brush, dodging branches and rocks, tears following her fast run. Soon Hakuchi's house came into view. Yelling, Chiaki came upon the property in a whirl.
“Takahashi-san!” She yelled, trying to reach the gate in time. Sojiro had roughly 30 minutes to live.
“Takaha-” Chiaki was cut off by her body flying forwards, She tripped and stumbled to the ground. She held her stomach which had been struck by a large rock. Tears poured out as she noticed she was unable to move.
“Ta-Takahashi-san . . .Taka . . . hashi . . .” She cried out with a small voice, gagging in pain. Large dark blurry forms started to appear above her as her vision started to fade. She was able to voice out one more cry, “Help . . Sojiro . . The Tenken. . .” And her world faded to black.
* * *
“Sojiro . . . You weakling. Getting stabbed by a mere girl.”
“Er . . . What?” Sojiro heard the words being spoken to him, yet his mind was so fogged he couldn't understand them. He rubbed his eyes and shook his head. Sitting up he opened his eyes. Light filled his head as a dizzy feeling overcame his body. He shook it off and was able to take in everything around him.
Before him sat. . .Shishio . . . but only Shishio. Yumi and Hoji were absent of his presence. Sojiro at first, couldn't believe his eyes. Shishio had died, he had burned to death. Sojiro had watched the building collapse from afar. He knew Shishio was dead . . .wasn't he?
Sojiro decided to take another approach to this. Maybe he had died and was now in hell with Shishio. He started to look around, and bluntly discovered this was DEFENTELLY not hell. No, it was a lake shore. The sun was out and the birds were chirping. Sojiro sat under a large shady tree that faced the water. Shishio sat towards the water sitting on the edge of the dock, his feet and ankles submerged by the crystal liquid.
“Mr. Shishio . . .” Sojiro stood and started to walk over to the man. Shishio lifted his head to look at Sojiro. Taking his sandals off, Sojiro let his feet fall into the cold crisp lake, “What is this place?” Sojiro asked.
Shishio looked over and met Sojiro's gaze, “Your dreams, kid.” He smirked.
“My . . . Dreams?”
“Don't be ridiculous, your not dead yet.” Shishio left Sojiro's gaze and looked back at the cool calm water.
“So . . . Your not real, nor this lake . . .or this place? And what your saying is things I already know but don't pay attention too?” Sojiro smiled.
“You really know how to crush moments, don't you, Sojiro.” Shishio glared at the 20 year old. Sojiro laughed rubbing the back of his head.
“Sorry about that, Mr. Shishio.” Sojiro looked down at the clear water, fish swimming around the two's feet, “Mr. Shishio . . . I'm going to die, arn't I?”
“Only if your little girlfriend can't run.” Shishio laughed looking down at some loose bandages around his leg.
“She's not my girlfriend.” Sojiro stated bluntly.
“Heh. Okay. Sojiro, you've abandon all I've taught you. Was is easy?” Shishio shot a cold gaze at the young man. Sojiro flinched.
“No, it was not, and I guess I haven't abandoned all of what you taught me, either.” Sojiro looked down at the sword fastened to his hakama. Memories of his many assassination missions and killings running through his foggy head. Taking out the sword from its sheath Sojiro looked it up and down. Blood ran from top to bottom, eternally stained on the sword.
“I have been meaning to tell you . . . I was crying in the rain. I really was. That and . . .I never wanted to kill people. I never wanted to stain this blade I . . .”
“Before you start getting emotional, remember I'm just your consonance.” Shishio smiled a mischievous grin. Sojiro lightened up at this statement, laughing.
“I'm sorry, you and the real Mr. Shishio look so alike.” He joked.
Shishio looked up at the sky, letting out a deep sigh, “Sojiro. You know that the weak die and the strong live. Yet, you let that weakling of a girl live. You protected her with your sword. That used to confuse you. It's a shame you've softened up.”
“No, Mr. Shishio. I haven't softened up. I fought for Chiaki because she was an innocent girl that had done nothing in this world to be involved with those men.”
Shishio chuckled, his red eyes coming over to Sojiro, “Your starting to sound like the Battousai. Your not Himura. Your Sojiro Seta. Did you ever consider that the truth I taught you may be the same truth your looking for?” He looked back at the clouds, “Anyways, your time is up here. It looks like that little girlfriend of yours is to late. Looks like your going to really join me.” With that Shishio shattered like glass, along with the peaceful scene of the lake.
Sojiro was surrounded by darkness. He could hear his own heart beat, his course breathing and gagging for air. He was dieing, this was the end.
* * *
“What? Huh?” Chiaki shook her head looking around. Her senses coming to. She finally caught all the faces that surrounded her. It was the debt collectors. And she wasn't near Hakuchi's house . . . she was in a small room. Most likely at the men's hide out. She gulped, looking at the evil faces around her.
Chiaki . . . had been kid napped.
“We can all fight till the world ends, but no amount of fighting will bring our loved ones back.”
Chiaki stared down at her sandals, her muddy kimono dragging near her feet. She knew the man that walked steadily by her. She knew him by two names . . . the first name she had heard when her Onee-Chan was murdered . . . The Tenken. The second name, she had not recognized him at first . . . He was older, more handsome and mature, but one she saw him wield his sword she knew that this Sojiro Seta he claimed to be . . . was the same Murder. The Tenken.
Chiaki looked over at him, blushing a little bit remembering the other night. His kimono almost all the way off, exposing every thing up to his thighs and every thing up from his waist. She was amazed by how fit he looked. His legs very strong and sturdy, his torso also toned and muscular. Yet looking at him now in his Hakama and kimono, he looked like a flimsy Asian kid.
Blushing harder she turned away from his focused face. Finally catching some of her movement he turned to her, stopping his hasty step.
“Um, Okibata-san? What is the matter?” He asked, smile upon his face.
“Areh . . . Arah . . . *Nandemonai . . Nothing at all.” She pushed, trying to stop blushing wildly. She wasnt trying to be attracted to him, it just happened . . . that was normal, right?
Sojiro laughed and started walking once more. He was so gentle, and quite. To Chiaki he was almost a completely different person from when they first met. She remembered him clearly, large innoucent blue eyes, a childish face and rosey cheeks. He had been wearing a Green Gi and a black Hakama when he had killed her Onee-san, she could remember every detail. His hair had been kept clean and short, and his sword was so fast and clean, not one drop of Hikari's blood landing on him. Chiaki shook her head, fighting off tears. She looked up at him again, even if she had been blushing at the image of him undressed, that was all just childish thinking. He had to be killed.
The sun was starting to rise, the beams of light glimmering through the fresh green leaves of the forest. The air was fresh and and warm, the ground soft and crunchy. It was the perfect picture of summer. Chiaki distanced herself from Sojiro, letting out a long yawn. She stretched her arms out above her and spread her legs out further with each step trying to act natural but letting her manners slowly slip away due to weariness.
“I don't think they'll find us for awhile, okay Okibata-san?”
“Okay . . . Thank you, Seta-san, for all your help. Is there anyway I could ever repay you?” Her eyes reflected on his handsome face. Her lips quivering. He was a murderer, a murderer of her Onee-Chan. He killed her Hikari.
“Oh no Okibata-san, I just want to help you, truly.” He giggled, “So, Okibata-san, how did you come along with this debt again? You need to repay it as soon as you can, I just don't want you to be enslaved by those men. Note; that's the only reason I'm taking you along.”
“My mother owned a debt to those men and their fathers. She died in Child birth, so she was never able to pay off her debt, so it moved onto me. It was a huge amount of money, and it has taken most of my life to get it to this point . . . I just need 14,000 more yin.” She raised her fist in front of her, her dancing blue eyes falling upon it. “14,000 more. . .”
“I'm sorry, Okibata-san. I gave you all I had and I-agh! . . .”
“Whats the matter, Seta-san?” Chiaki looked up in ceriousity. He was standing stiff with a embarrassed face.
“I-I-I gave you all I had. . .” His face fell into his hands, “I was so stupid. . .” He said in low voice.
“S-Stupid? Why? I'm not sure I'm following.” Chiaki started to panic.
“Shishio-san taught me better then this!” he mumbled to himself, “Okibata-san, I have no money for food . . .” He mused. An embarrassed smile upon his face. He scratched the back of his head as she started at him in disbelief.
“Well, you have your sword, cant you kill and cook something?” She asked bluntly.
“Hm. I guess we could, Okibata-san.” He perked up.
“That will not be needed.” A monotone voice came from the trees. Sojiro jumped, grabbing his sword's handle, he twisted to find the intruder. Looking between the trees, he found a small girl.
She was very short, her white hair drooping down around her body and down to her knees. She was dressed in a plain torn Kimono and had a sword by her side. She was not Japanese, nor Asian. She looked British, but she had no apparent accent. She had crystal red eyes that reflected no light it seemed. An emotionless face sat upon her features.
“Why hello there, Who are you?” Chiaki asked sweetly. Smiling at the young woman.
“My name is Hakuchi Takahashi,” She bowed toward Chiaki, then toward Sojiro. Sojiro, seeing no current threat, lowered his hand from the swords handle.
“I will give you two food in exchange for information.” She stated, her hand creeping over a dagger she held
“What kind of information?” Sojiro asked, eying the young woman.
* * *
“Mm! Mm! This is wonderful, Takahashi-san!” Chiaki savored the sweet beef that she chewed, enjoying ever bite she slipped in with her chop sticks.
Sojiro was enjoying it also, but was pre-occupied with what information Hakuchi wanted. Looking her over he would have never even guess she knew of Shishio.
“So, Seta, When did he die?” She asked, putting her food down. Sojiro looked up from his nearly empty bowl in shock, his blue eyes large and frightened.
“W-what?” He asked, speechless.
“Makoto, he died didn't he? When?” She was cold and heartless, “I gave you food, you must tell me.”
“Shouldn't we wait for Chiaki to finish and talk about this in private.”
“No need.” Hakuchi shot a devilish glance at Chiaki, “That girl . . knows.” Chiaki looke up from her soup and glared back.
“T-two years ago. In a fight with the-”
“-Battousai?” Hakuchi interjected.
“Yes.” Soujiro looked back down at his bowl.
Chiaki listened in intently. Putting her empty bowl to the side.
“Then why did you ask?” Sojiro looked suspicious.
“Have you met up with Toshi since Makoto died?” She asked intently, her eyes brewing up some deep thought.
“Toshi? Who is that?”
“So Makoto never told you about Toshi . . . Well, I guess that is for the best. You'll find out sooner or later, forget I mentioned it.” Hakuchi smiled.
“Takahashi-san, I find that very rude.” Chiaki didnt like Hakuchi and oozed with hate towards the girl.
“It's best not to tell you. You'll meet him one day. Just watch out for him.” she turned back to Sojiro, “Do you know what Makoto said before his death? Is that Yumi woman and that Hoji still alive?”
Sojiro hesitated, “How do you know all of this?” He looked up into her red eyes, lost.
“I have helped Makoto before. I am a doctor, Sojiro. Dr. Takahashi. I have treated Makoto's burns and injuries. I was very saddened when he died, Sojiro. . . I was on his side.”
Chiaki stayed silent, tears coming to her eyes, “Shishio Makoto . . . that man was behind the assassination of my Onee-chan. . . And tried to burn my home town to the ground . . .” She looked up at Hakuchi with determination and hatred, “And you are an ally of him!?” She started to raise her voice.
“And for the good of the government, too. Okibata-san.” Hakuchi retorted,“I repeat, Sojiro, Do you know what he said before he died? ” Hakuchi kept a calm face. She seemed very logical and intelligent, no wonder she was good friends with Shishio.
“No, I wasn't there . . . Please Takashi-san, I do not want Okibata-san to hear anymore of this.” Sojiro whispered to the Doctor. Hakuchi raised a brow.
“Why? This little Geisha of yours already knows everything. In-fact, she's plotting to kill you once you get to Tokyo. . .” She announced out loud, tossing Chiaki a sour look.
Chiaki froze, blue eyes growing wide and tearful. Suddenly all manners and composer broke, “H-How did you know?” She asked in a small voice.
“Your wide open like a book waiting to be read. I can see it in your eyes.” Hakuchi looked over at sojiro once more, “She knows you are the Tenken, and she will stop at nothing to avenge her relative.
“Oki . . .Bata-san. . .” Soujiro was crushed.
Chiaki shook her head in anger, “Yes! That's all right! Soujiro No Tenken, you killed my Onee-chan!” Suddenly she pulled out a dagger and stood from her chair, tears coming to her eyes, “You will pay!”
Jumping forward she went strait toward the boys heart, but in a flash he was gone. Chikai stood, eyes wide and face white as a ghost.
“Wh-what?” She shook her head.
“He left.” Hakuchi smirked, “Go after him and get your revenge, girl.”
Chiaki nodded, “I will taste that boys blood yet!”
“Wait.” Hakuchi stopped the geisha with a hand.
“What? Why are you stopping me?” She held up her dagger ready to strike.
“You are too weak to fight him with such a blade. Take this.” Haku chi grabbed a sword that hung by the table, “Bring his head to the grave of your loved one.” Hakuchi smirked.
* * *
Chiaki ran fast trying to track the Tenken. Her kimono was torn to shreds and sweat poured down her face. The sword was tight in her grip. She was ready to become a killer. A killer for the one she loved.
Coming to a clearing she stopped to take a breath. She bent over, hands on knees her wet hair tangling all around her. She had left her nap-sack at Hakuchi's house, so she had nothing to help her.
“Okibata-san . . .” She heard the small innocent plea in front of her.
Her head shot up at the voice, her face muscles tensing. At first all she saw was a blue kimono, then a sword, and then a face. It was him. Standing up strait she put the sword by her side, ready to draw.
“Okibata-san . . .you have a sword. . . why?” he asked. He was trying not to smile, his voice filled with sadness and confusion.
“I . . . I have come to kill you Tenken. To take revenge for my Onee-chan. Your head will be the flowers on her grave! She didn't deserve such a death!” Chiaki charged forward, swinging the sword at the Asian boy. She missed as he seemed to dance out of the way and behind her. But he didn't swing. She turned on her heal, swinging again. He dodged to the side. Twisting around she swung at his shoulder, he easily blocked it. She was able to look at his face, he was in tears.
“Why so sad Tenken?” She hissed.
“Such a beautiful lady should not be burdened by the blood on a sword. She should not dance with the weight of death on her shoulders, or pour tea with the hands of a slayer.” Soujiro spoke softly. He slid his sword down hers and flipped it around, gabbing her in the bosom. She shrieked and stumbled backward, holding her sword awkwardly.
“You demon.” She spat.
“Okibata-san, you don't know what your doing. You dont know how to weild that and the most you could do is only hurt yourself. Please! Put your sword down, I never ment to hurt you and I promise you know I will never try and hurt you again. If you would understand I was lost when I killed your loved one. I have changed!” He plead.
Chiaki's heart skipped a beat. She looked down at the ground, her sword lowering.
Tears came to her eyes, pictures of Hikari flashing before her, “Never . . .I will never forgive you!” She screamed, leaping into action she charged and clashed with him, pushing him back in the dirt. Blade to blade and face to face again she started to scream, “No matted what you say you will never be forgiven! I hate you!” With that she lundged her whole body at him ackwardly. He stumbled but held her up.
She backed up breaking the grind. Turning around she jumped at him, trying to stab him. It all happened in a flash. Their blades struck up, tears flew, Chiaki suddenly felt a sharp pain in her arm and she fell to the ground. Red everywhere.
It was black for a moment. Then she came too.
Soujiro sat beside her, wrapping her arm in bandage. Behind him was his sword, clean. And infront of her was her sword, bloody and in three pieces.
“I told you Okibata-san.” he was frowing, “All you can do is hurt yourself.” he said coldly, “This needs to stop. Now I'm going to take you to Tokyo.” He picked up his sword and sheathed it. Then placed an arm under Chiaki and lifted her into his arms.
“Tenken.” Chiaki's hair hid her face from his. He looked at her.
“What?” he asked, not mad, but somewhat. . . irratated.
“I wasn't done yet!” With that she yanked out her dagger and stabbed it into his stomach. He dropped her, curling into a ball by the sudden stab.
“I will kill you” she spat, smiling as he went down, “or die trying.”
Tenken: Heaven's Wanderer
By Sophia Jane
“Geisha No Kyoto”
“When I found my way to Kyoto after two years, I never thought that the same place that seemed to be living hell, would bring me a long lost family.”
The warm August air blew through the boy's black hair, his deep blue eyes looking upon the tranquil scene that lay in front of him. Below his tattered sandal-ed feet sat Kyoto, a city of pleasant and bitter memories, a city he did call home for a small time, a city he vowed never to come back to. Looking off at the setting sun, he knew he would have to break that vow today. If he continued through the night, it could be dangerous.
Sighing, He accepted the fate of ending up at this place, and started down to the growing city. It had been two years since he had been here. He was now 20 years old, not allot had changed. His hair was starting down his lower neck and onto his shoulders. On top his head he wore a small rice-farmer hat. His face and body seemed more mature but still held that childish tint to it, but the most critical change was his smile. . . it still lay on his face, yet there was a different feeling behind it. This smile lived with purpose.
Entering the town he started to look around with cation. No matter how many times he forgot, he would always be that wanted Tenken, and more people would recognize him in Kyoto. Many inns were open for costumers and Kyoto was a large city so he thought it would be easy to find a place to stay and still not be caught. Walking up to the first inn he found, he started to talk to the owner.
The poor young girl that ran the Inn was scared to death by his sword, and hastily shut the doors to the dark haired wanderer. Breathing a deep sigh, he turned to find another source of comfort, but whatever Inn he turned to, the doors were shut because of his reliable weapon. Again and again, the doors flew shut in his face, his hair flying back with every gush of wind. With every point at his sword his smile grew wider, with every word about his looks, his smile was stable, his eyes wavering with doubt.
Coming to the conclusion he should head into the forest anyway, he started down that way. Deciding not to scare anymore people and to avoid being seen by the police, he took some back roads to the outskirts. He had his sword, he would just have to bare the hard way. After all, sleeping outside was nothing new to the wanderer.
Flash backs of his childhood spun through his head, leaving a sour feeling in his mind and stomach. It seemed to be all flushed away, all put back in the past, but now that he has set out on his own . . . it seemed so real and exposed. The faces of his family flickered before his thoughtful eyes, their terrified looks engraving themselves on his heart. It wasn't that he cared about them, they never cared about him. Why would he go through all the trouble? But something about killing them made his stomach upset and his heart sink. They were blood related.
Shaking it off as he had every other time, he turned his attention to the streets around him. They were ragged old streets, a few restaurants and inns here and there. Geisha walked down the streets in bundles and back to their homes, a couple here and there also went back to greet their waiting relitives and some even an elder man or two. A few single men entered the dark strip of buildings. Many bars and shacks also interlaced with the better looking buildings. The boy laughed a sigh, smiling as he looked up at the now dark sky. I think I'll fit in here better then in with the rest of Kyoto. He thought, starting to come upon the outskirts of town.
“Sir!” A voice called out in the middle of the dark, the sound of wooden sandals clanking up from behind followed. The boy spun around one heel.
“Ahhh! Sorry sir!” It was a geisha, jumping at the wanderer's sudden turn. The boy laughed at the young woman, scratching the back of his head.
“Sorry, Ma'am. It was my reflexes,” He said a little embarrassed, “Can I help you?”
The geisha bowed deeply and started her request, “Yes! I saw that you were heading out of town, am I correct? It is dangerous to be out there in the dark, even with a sword!” Her gaze was caught by the weapon at his waist, “I have a little room in the top of the restaurant that I work in, the owner always keeps it open for rent. We would be happy to have you if you have the money. And dinner would be free, plus some entertainment. So please come, sir!” She raised her head to face him, a worried look on her smiling face.
“Oh? That does sound nice, how much would it cost?”
“2,000 Yin.” She stated, almost scared.
“I'm sorry, I don't believe I have that much.” The boy coughed at the outrageous price.
“How much do you have?” The geisha asked, looking rather scared, her crystal blue eyes filling up with doubt.
“600 Yin . . .” He replied, somewhat suspicious.
“Okay! That will do, sir!” She nodded nervously, showing the way to the small restaurant behind her with her hand.
“Well, okay.” He was a little bit nervous, but he walked toward the restaurant with her and into the cool comfort of the a place to stay.
Once entering the small place, the boy was taken to a room and seated to deiced what to order while the geisha told the owner of the place what had happened. He looked a bit disgruntled, most likely because of the price change, but he agreed. A waitress went over to take the dark haired boy's order. The geisha entered the room on her knees.
Sitting down to the side of the table at the entrance to the room she bowed deeply till her nose was touching the tabi mat.“Thank you for joining us!” She said softly. Then then rose to her knees and stood to pour his tea.
“Thank you so much, sir. This place isn't that much, but it's a nice place.” She said as she tipped the tea pot lightly.
“Oh no, thank you for taking me in.” he smiled at her. He started to take a good look at her. She was skinny, very short though. She had sparkling blue eyes along with thin fine brown hair. Although the make up hid it very well, he could tell she was lighter then most Japanese. She had small lips that were like rose petals, and when they slipped into a smile it seemed as if heaven was opening up. Her hands were small and delicate wrapped around the tea pot. She was well endowed, but still looked like she could support her own. She wore a silk white Kimono with *Sakura petels on it. Her obi was stripped with dark pinks and blacks. Other patterns of black square outlines with a dark pink background were also on her Obi. The kimono was trimmed in jet black which matched her *tabi as well.
She looked up nervously at him, noticing the long stair that had been on her. Sweating a bit she took a seat across from him, painting on her smile once more, “My name is Chiaki Okibata. It's nice to meet you. . . “ She paused and let a frown tug on her face noticing she did not know his name.
“Sojiro . . . My name is Seta Sojiro.” Sojiro answered with a smile, hoping she wouldn't know who he was.
“Ah, then! Seta-San . . .” She smiled.
“So, how long have you been a geisha, Okibata-San?” he asked, watching the brown color swirl in the cup.
“Well, I have been in the actual profession since I was 11 years old.” Chiaki said.
“I see, you are very graceful. Very much like a geisha.” he smiled, nodding toward her tea pot.
She bowed her head, “Why thank you, Mr. Seta. I bet when you use your sword, your much more graceful then I am.” She nodded toward his sword. Soujiro blushed a little.
“Haha, I haven't used this sword in a year. I doubt I am as wonderful as you.” He laughed.
“Well, what do you do for a living, Seta-San?”
“I'm a wanderer.” He spoke, looking up at her with a smirk.
“A wanderer? That's nice, do you enjoy it?” She strained to keep a pleasant and enjoyable atmosphere.
“It was rather rough the first year, I was scared at first. But now I know how to cope with it.”
“You seem like a very strong man, Seta-san. I like that.” She looked upon his tattered clothes then faced him with a bright smile and blue sparkling eyes.
“Haha well . . .” Soujiro looked down at his hands, wrapped around the tea cup. “Thank you.” Soujiro hated being called strong, he didn't know why. It just brought back too much of Shishio. Soujiro's blue eyes started to cloud over.
“Ahh!” Chiaki bowed quickly, seeing she brought up something that hurt him, “Seta-san, do you enjoy song?” She asked, leaning in a little bit.
Soujiro's head shot up, looking at her painted face and large blue eyes, “Ah it is okay. . .” He smiled, fiddling with his sleeves, “Ah, I must thank you for letting me come in here, Okibata-san. I know usally Geisha tea houses are overly expensive and-”
Chiaki laughed, covering her small red lips, “Oh! Seta-san, you don't have to thank me. I was simply doing a favor for a handsome man.” She chirped. Soujiro blushed again, “Besides, it seems you were troubled In your search for a inn. It's only natural for me to help a young man out.” She nodded at his empty tea cup, “More, Seta-san?”
“Ah!” Soujiro hadn't noticed he had been drinking it, it had been an automatic moment, “No thank you, Okibata-san.”
“Ah, well, that is fine then.” Chiaki nodded and straited out her long sleeves.
“I'm sorry I'm not requesting much, I know this is your job to entertain me and all . . .” soujiro looked at her smooth form. He was sure at each tea she went too she would dance and sing and maybe even-no, that was unlikely. Hopefully she didn't expect that from him.
“Are you not fond of Geisha, Seta-san?” she asked as the waitress came in with Soujiro's food.
“Well, I have never met one before.” He smiled sheepishly.
“Well, that is understandable for a wanderer, you have so much in your life already!” she made sure to keep a smile on.
“Well, I did used to live in Kyoto. So it's kind of weird that this is the first time meeting a Geisha.”
“Oh, no! It is absolutely fine, you don't seem like the type of boy to be around these kind of places anyway. An honest and kind wandering swordsmen.”
“Okibata-san. Please stop.”
“Arah?” She cocked her head, a befuddled landscape on her white face.
“Stop flattering me, I don't like fake conversation.”
Chiaki laughed a little, “Seta-san, this is my job. My career. I live to do this.” She said in a low voice, “I must keep all of my costumers happy and content. They must leave feeling better then they came in!”
“Then answer this question, were you forced to do this?” He asked, looking up from his food.
“Seta-san, I rather not-”she paused, looking at his large matching blue eyes, “Well. Yes. When I was 2 years old I was sold to a Geisha house. But I do enjoy my career!” A smile jumped to her face once more.
“Hm.” Soujiro nodded, “That's nice. I'm glad you enjoy doing such a thing.”
“What is the matter, Seta-san?” She asked, leaning in again.
“Ah, you just remind me of my Masters spouse.” he smiled and laughed a little.
“Your master?” She looked confused, “Sensai, as In Battojustu sensai?”
“Ah, you could call him that. He was in love with a beautiful Orin.”
“I remind you of an Orin?” Chiaki jumped, surprised.
“Oh no, Okibata-san! Yumi-san was very pretty and very kind. She had the touch of a mother.” Soujiro nodded.
“Oh . . . well, why did you leave then?” She asked.
“Well, I was always leaning on someone else's truth, my master's truth . . . so, two years ago I decided that would have to stop. So I left that place, setting off to find my own truth.” Sojiro looked down at his tea, his thoughts lost in a whirlpool of memories as he spoke. Pictures of Shishio, Yumi, and Himura flashed through his head. Pictures of the time when he fought Kenshin, the time he was shown the other side of the light. And then as quick as lighting, times of hardship and training with Shishio, times of discipline, and then a sliver of some pleasant joke that was shared between the two, “I had said I lived in Kyoto, I had left here.” His voice fell almost ghost like.
“Here? Kyoto?” Chiaki seemed understanding, but wonder flickered in her large eyes
“I have probably told you to much, though. I'm sorry, getting all deep and stuff! Haha.” He smiled, his voice perking up as he laughed.
“Ah I see, so it must have been hard coming back here . . .” Chiaki reflected.
“Ah, It was. Although, Okibata-san, I have never been in this part of town before!” his voice seemed very mischievous in a way. Chiaki flinched as it seemed like a rush of pain and agony transferred from him to her. She shook it off, trying to regain her composer to answer his statement.
“This is the Geisha district of Kyoto. Most Geisha work here. I used to live in the local Geisha house down the block, but I moved here for a bit. Up stairs.” She pointed at the back of the restaurant, “Um, Seta-san. . . May I ask you something personal? I know as a woman, or a geisha for that matter, it is not really my place to get into your personal life anymore than I have but I have just been wondering . . . “ Chiaki looked down at her shaking hands.
“No, Okibata-san, You can ask me. What is on your mind?” Sojiro watched his wording with the sentence.
“What is your opinion of the attempted attack two years ago on Kyoto? I was informed that Makoto Shishio from the Revolution was involved. I was thankfully out of town so I was in no danger, but I wanted to know if you were in Kyoto at the time? I know since you had a bad experience in Kyoto you probably weren't here in Kyoto, but I would still like to see your outlook on it.” She smiled.
Sojiro froze, his eyes locking onto hers. Smiling trying to keep his emotions under control he started to speak, “No, I was out of town also . . .” He told the truth, gritting his teeth, “I think it was a cruel thing to put the city through, but I'm glad it didn't happen.” He faked.
“Oh, I see then.” Looking up at the waitress who was taking Sojiros dishes, she smiled.
“Well then, Seta-san. I'll show you to your room now.” Standing abruptly she started off toward the back. At first Sojiro paused, thinking he upset her. Shaking it off, he strode after the woman. To the back of the restaurant they went, finding a small case of stairs. Chiaki made it up in a huff, a worried expression seemed to grow off her suddenly.
Coming up to the top of the stairs, Sojiro spotted three doors. They walked upon onto the floor boards, the ground creaking as their weight was added. Walking in front of the nearest door, Chiaki smiled, “This will be your room, Seta-san.” She opened the door and walked in, Sojiro followed suit.
It was a small room, a futon by the open window. A lit lantern sat by the head pillow along with a small book of maps. Sojiro smiled at the small room. He liked it. Setting his sword down near the wall he bowed to the geisha.
“Thank you so much, Okibata-san.” He spoke lightly.
“Your very welcome. Bill please?” She seemed anxious. Laughing, Sojiro took out the yin from a wrapped bag in his sleeve. He unwrapped it and handed her the 600 yin.
“Thank you.” She smiled, “*Dakara . . . I sleep in the last room to the left, if you need anything you can come and ask me. Don't bother the store owner though, he's a little cranky.” With that she bowed again, leaving the room in a nervous fashion.
Sojiro sighed, laying onto his back. He started to untie his Hakama, glad to be able to relax. Kicking the clothe off, he sat upward. He folded the navy blue garment and set it by his sword. Continuing to undress he straitened out his kimono and started to undressing process.
The door slid open at a fast flash, Sojiro jumping at the figure that appeared suddenly in front of him. “Seta-san I for-” Red. That's all He could see on Chiaki's white painted face. Her blush was glowing right through her make up. She stood there clueless a moment looking at the half naked Sojiro up and down. She was completely silent. Sojiro was too, startled by her appearance. Suddenly, all heck broke loose as Chiaki let out a ear shattering scream, dropping the blankets that had been in her possession and running outside the room and around the corner.
Sojiro laughed as her heavy breathing bounced through the hall.
“YOU IDOIT!” She snapped, her face as red as a sun burnt rutabaga.
“I'm so sorry, Okibata-san. . .” He started, giggling, “But I . . I didn't know you were coming back!”
“No, No, It's my fault, I should have knocked . . .” She said starting to cool down, “Your blankets are on the floor there, its supposed to be cold tonight. . .” She paused, looking over at the shadow of his partly undressed body. Blushing even more she started up again, “Good night! Seta-san!” And with that she slammed the door shut.
Sojiro laughed as her sandals clanked all the way down the hall. He crawled over to the blankets, scooping them up in his hands he set them at the foot of the bed. sliding off his Kimono he grabbed the Nemaki that had been in the pile of blankets and dressed in it gingerly. He then slipped into the futon, ready for bed. He sat up, looking at the book of maps.
Where would he go next . . . that was the question of everyday. Looking upon the maps he found a nice location. It was Tokyo . . . Hopefully he wouldn't find Battousai-no- he wouldn't find Kenshin himura there. Studying the map before bed, he blew out the lantern and slipped into the warm sheets, falling into dream land as soon as his head hit the pillow.
* * *
“HEY! Let me go! Stop it!” The screams shrieked through the air. Sojiro flew up in his bed, looking from side to side. It seemed like the yells and shouts were coming from all directions. Stumbling out of bed he grabbed his sword and slid the door open. He ran first to Chiaki's room
“Okimata-san?” He asked pusing the door open. It was empty, just a small futon and a desk littered with makeup. It seemed she wasn't even done when she left. His ears adjusted and Sojiro was able to locate the yells. It was behind the shop. Soujiro shut Chiaki's door and ran down the stairs in a rush, hearing the Owner's foot steps behind his.
“Come on now, little lady! You owe us your money.” A young males voice came.
“Yeah, come on Chi-Chan, fork it over.” A higher voice of a male came this time, a slap and a yelp following his high pitched voice.
Sojiro ran to the back, finding the scene. There was Chiaki, her long brown hair down and falling around her waist. Her make up was lacking, and her deep blue eyes were filled with fear. Her arms and legs were shaking, yin clenched in her hand. All around her were men of all sizes and shapes, all looking 45 years or younger.
“Here! Here! This is all I have, I collected it from a costumer that is staying here!” Chiaki yelled, thrusting out the money to a larger man that stood in front of her. He smiled as he snatched the money.
“Good . . .” He started, fingering through the yin his smile turned to a frown, “Aww, poor Chi-Chan, your missing 1400 yin!” he said, pushing her down onto the ground. She yelped as she hit the floor.
Sojiro was staying hidden, watching things over. So that's why she needed 20,000 yin . . . and acting so nervous. He thought.
“Hey! You there! Whaddah you want?” One of the men spotted Sojiro, pulling out a sword to challenge him. Sojiro smiled emerging from his hiding place.
“Seta-san! Please stay out of this! Please!” Chiaki begged.
“Oh? So you know this nice young man?” The larger man asked with a snarl. He crunched the yin into his pocket, walking over to Sojiro. Looking down at him, the large man smirked.
“What could you do to help, runt? Pay of Chi-Chan's debt for her?” He laughed at himself, like some sick joke. Sojiro just stood there , his smile fading at this remark. No one saw his hand part his sheath and sword. Grabbing the handle of the sword he ducked as the man through a punch, launching the hilt of the sword into the man's gut.
“Agh!” The man yelled, falling to the floor. All the other men shot glares at Sojiro, all drawing their swords. Soujiro laughed and smiled like he had done nothing wrong.
“Please, I don't want to continue to fight right now. I'm sure this can be worked out.” he smiled.
“You think your so tough, Smiley?” The higher pitched man yelled, running toward Sojiro. Sojiro jumped, dashing to the side he flipped over his sword. Waiting till the man noticed he had missed his target, Sojiro then struck the man's side with the hilt of the sword. The man fell to the ground in pain. Many other men charged toward Sojiro, each getting taken out in a matter of seconds.
Chiaki watched from the side in amazement, her eyes not wanting to believe. . The . . . Tenken . . . She thought. After a few moments, Sojiro was the only one remaining on his feet. Walking over to the larger man, he fished out the yin.
“I believe this is yours, Okibata-san.” He smiled.
Chiaki stood to her feet, walking over to Sojiro.
“Seta-san . . .” Chiaki started, her eyes tearing up, “Seta-san, thank you . . .Although . . .” She walked over to the man and slipped the yin back into his coat, “That yin is rightfully his. I am In debt. . . Hopefully I can pay him the rest later.” she bowed.
“But Okibata-san. . . that's all the money you have, am I wrong?” Sojiro smiled a little embarrassed.
“Well, yes. But I'll make more tomorrow. . .” She sighed, letting her head drop, “Well, actually, tomorrow is my birthday. And it's my 22 birthday . . . I was supposed to have my debt paid off by then but since I am short 14, 000 yin, I must work for those thugs . . . and who knows what they'll do to me.” She mumbled.
“Tomorrow is your birthday?” Sojiro was shocked, tomorrow was someone else birthday also . . . Makoto Shishio's 31st birthday. He sighed, this was too painful. Grinning he bared it with a twitch. Looking into Chiaki's deep blue eyes, he breath slowly.
“Hey you two, what's going on out here?” A man showed up by the ally entryway.
“Haraushi-san! This is not what it looks like, Seta-san was protecting me!” Chiaki shook her hands in front of her in defense, shooting a unseen look toward Sojiro.
“Hm? He was fighting off those *bouryokudan that come to see you every week?”Harashi asked.
“Well, Yeah It seemed like she needed it.” Sojiro laughed.
“Good catch there, Chiaki-san. Maybe you should keep this one around.” Haraushi winked, “come inside you two, its getting cold.”
“Hai!” The pair's voice rang.
“Okibata-san . . . I have a plan.” Sojiro smiled as the two walked back.
“A plan?” She asked.
“Yes, we could head out tonight and make it for Tokyo. I could take you with me . . . but. . .” A picture of Kenshin flashed through Sojiro's eyes.
“Once we get to Tokyo I'm leaving you with some friends of mine, you got that?” Sojiro's face was no longer smiling, he was serious.
“Ah, yes Seta-san. Thank you.”
“There you can pay off your debt, alright?” He asked again. She nodded and bowed.
“We'll leave in a bit, please gather your things and inform Haraushi-san.”
* * *
Chiaki sighed as she retired into her room. She had to pack for Tokyo. It was a good plan, and at least Sojiro would be there to protect her. She smiled as she packed up her less extravagant *Kimono and laughed.
At least I will have . . . I chance for revenge. I know who you really are . . .Seta Soujiro . . . Is Sojiro the Tenken. The one who killed Onee-san. She packed a small knife into her nap sack, hiding it in her kimono. You will pay.
*bouryokudan= Gansters, Thugs, ECT.
*Dakara=and so. . .
Alright you may have noticed Cho's sudden name change. Chiaki is her Geisha name. When a Girl becomes a Meiko, her name is changed. Her birth name was Cho. Now it is Chiaki. You may also notice that not allot of emotion is displayed in either Sojiro or Chiaki. It's because they are just meeting and at this point in time they would only try to be polite and nice. And I have allot more to explain Sojiro later on. That's all. Enjoy the re-vamp!