Sano stared at the broken swordsman once again and cursed. He was sick of it. He abruptly pushed up and strode over to Kenshin and backhanded him for, well he'd lost count by now.
Kenshin still didn't respond. With a long string of muttered curses, Sano flung Kenshin over his shoulder, not surprised at all when he got no response. Grumbling he marched over to a small housing district not unlike his own and called out at a door. The door slid open less than two minutes later, and Sanosuke marched right past a surprised looking young man with long dark hair, somewhere around the same age as Sanosuke.
"I've gotta do something about this damned piece of living carcass here" Sanosuke said flinging Kenshin to the ground. Kenshin blankly sat up and scooted against the wall, leaning over his sword once more. Sanosuke glowered at him. "I can't leave him like this. It's been a month, and although I thought about waiting a year I don't think things are going to change, or Enishi is going to leave him alone. I've got to do something with him." The longhaired man looked at Kenshin thoughtfully for a minute, and then started to clean up his inks and rummaging through a stack of papers in the closet. "Do you have anything Katsu?" Sano asked.
"I just may, hold on let me rummage it up" Katsu continued through his stacks of papers until he found a box. Lifting the box out of the mess, he carried it over to Sanosuke and set it down.
He opened it facing Sanosuke and Sano's eyes widened in amazement.
"You mean, you…" Katsu nods.
"The syndicate here in Japan has tentacles all over the place, Including China. I'd suggest you take him there, the last place Enishi would look. If nothing else it'll buy you some time. With this you can get their help in any situation." Katsu lifts a small silver chain with a symbol affixed to it that was ornate yet at the same time simple, out of the box and hands it to Sanosuke "Just stay with him." Katsu lifts a fake bottom out of the box and takes out a few papers. "Here's information on who to contact, it's coded in the usual." Sanosuke nodded.
"Thanks Katsu, if you need anything…" Katsu shook his head.
"No, but I'll be sure to contact you." Sano nodded and left without another word.
The whole month oversea, Kenshin said nothing, but after a little coaxing from Sanosuke, he blindly traveled after him, like a stray dog with nowhere else to go. When they arrived in china, no questions were asked and no visa required, but Sano still had to find a place for them to stay, and he still hadn't any idea what to do about Kenshin.
One of the four bodyguards of Heishin approached Enishi late into the night. Enishi looked up from his usual spot on the balcony.
"What is it, If you've come to tell me the girl is crying again, I already know that." The huge man shook his head.
"It's about Kenshin. Heishin's been keeping it from you but he disappeared two months ago." Enishi cursed.
"Are you certain? Is there no trace of him?"
"Heishin sent word to the network. You know he's slowly trying to take over." Enishi nodded.
"And there's been no response?" he asked seriously
"None, but he's obviously no longer in Japan." The bodyguard said. Enishi narrowed his eyes in thought, and after a while responded,
"We'll wait for a few months longer and see if he's going to make a move." The informer nodded and left. Enishi sat thinking for long after that, wondering what Kenshin was up to… and if he'd gotten over his woman yet. Then he stood, and walked down the hallway, pausing by Kaoru's room. Kaoru was curled up on the bed hugging a blanket to her chest in her sleep, shivering as another tear escaped down her face. Without realizing what he was doing, Enishi entered the room and walked up to the bed, looking down at her, thinking to himself she was so young. He pried the blanket out of her hands and covered her with it. She stopped shivering quite so much; Enishi raised his eyebrow as she snorted out another sniffle in a very undignified manner. Chuckling to himself the thought of how unlike his sister she was… then his mood dropped once more to a heavy silence as he stalked out of the room, his hand running down her face coming away wet with tears, he shook them off. Nothing would get in the way of his justice, especially not this girl of Kenshin's
Sano collapsed into the couch at the rather expensive Inn. He sighed. Once again he was resorting to hiring out his services, yet it seemed to pay a lot better here, and no names were ever exchanged. He looked over at Kenshin who was sitting at the foot of the couch hunched over a walking stick Sano had earlier snuck in place of his sword. The sword was too conspicuous. Kenshin hadn't seemed to notice at all. Sano stared at Kenshin. The vagabond was so much older than him yet he looked like so much a little child now, especially with the bandages Sano had wrapped about his cheek and eye. As Sano was contemplating his makeshift disguise, trying to decide weather to change Kenshin's hair as well, a gasp came from the doorway.
Sano looked up and was surprised to see one of the most delicate, yet beautiful women he'd ever laid eyes on. She was staring at Kenshin with a look that he couldn't quite read. Tears formed up in her eyes ah she just whispered one word.
"Shinta…" she whispered in what almost sounded like a heartbroken plea. She rushed to Sano's feet and hugged his legs as she spoke further, the same tone in her voice.
"Where'd you find him, what happened to him all these years, she was so sure that he was alive and now here he is but it's too late and I don't know what to say but I'm still so glad to have-" she blurted out in a speedy desperate babble before Sanosuke cut in.
"Whoa, whoa Jo-chan, wait up. Calm down and explain yourself, we aren't going anywhere." The girl looked up at him with tear-filled eyes and nodded.
"I…It was probably about 20 years ago… Muh…My Family… or at least what became my family, she took me in though I had been abandoned. She was in Japan though, during the war. In front of her, her older sister was cut down protecting a small boy that they had known. Shinta was his name. The rest of her sisters were killed as well, but she had been hiding the while time, and she knew he was alive because she saw him crawl out from under their bodies and afterwards bury them all by himself." The woman, probably somewhere around 22 herself smiled crookedly as she continued, "She had finally got the courage to come out herself, but a huge man came and she was frightened into hiding. He took Shinta away, and she followed, but after days of travel, she fainted. When she woke up next, she was in China. A prestigious family took her in as a …..pet," The woman said the word with fury in her voice. "They kept her only because she looked so childlike and her eyes were so strange. Knowing they would get rid of her soon, she taught herself how to perform poems and draw on command, in fear of being killed or thrown out." A sob broke the conversation, and the woman seemed too overwrought to go on. Sano pulled her up onto the couch and hugged her whispering that it would be alright and other nonsenses. After a while the woman calmed down and continued her story.
"After a few years, she collected the few things that they had given her, mostly precious ornaments that she could wear, and ran. She was 16 at the time, having spent 10 years with that cold prestigious family. She knew so little of people outside of politics though and was alone and vulnerable on the streets of China. Sooner or later a whorehouse scoped her out and recruited her." The woman paused, taken with emotion. "Her genteel manner carried her high in the field, and in a manner of a few years she had accumulated quite a bit of wealth. She bought her own townhouse, and could have lived on what she had left, but a horrible thing happened." The woman sobbed again for a few minutes. Sano was still absorbing the story, surprised that no matter where Kenshin went, something from his past always caught up with him. "I.. In her field, my…I guess you could call her my older sister, she wasn't old enough to have been my mother. But.. She had become addicted to opium" The girl whispered out, seeming so much younger in that second. "She continued working at the whorehouse, which I am somewhat grateful to, since she saved me from a similar fate. But if it would have saved her I'd rather I be subjected to the same fate. She died. Last year, she was so frail, and then she just didn't wake up, she was so young!" she cried out "Barely a decade older than me!" She looked of to the side for a moment before going on "Anyway I'm straying from the point aren't I. Ever since she…Mai was her name, was free of the family's imprisonment, She'd been searching for Shinta, through the underground information ways. The last information we had received before she died was that he had fought in the revolution in Japan as an assassin by the name of Battousai, and that he'd disappeared shortly after."
"That's an incredible story." Sano said after a while "Kenshin, no Shinta, has had the most… interesting past, no matter where he goes it always chases after him." Sano went silent in contemplation. "I wish I could say you've found him. But Shinta is no longer the man your …sister knew. Or that anyone knew for that matter." Sano shook his head "His past has finally gotten to him, horrible as it was and he's just an empty husk" The woman looked down at the ground after he had said that, Thinking. Suddenly her head snapped up.
"I know! You can come live at the townhouse! I'll try to bring Shinta back it's the least I can do to repay Mai for what she's done to me. I'll erase the past!" Sano smiled at that, after these tiring few months, he finally felt like there was some hope.
"May I ask your name?" he said. The woman gaped at him, just realizing she hadn't introduced herself.
"Wei Li" she said smiling. Sano then stood and flung Kenshin over his shoulder.
"Well then let's get going Wei Li, It's late and we should be home."