Anime/Manga Fan Fiction >> Rurouni Kenshin
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The White Rabbit
Disclaimer: Rurouni Kenshin and all original characters are the property of Watsuki-sensei, Viz,
Shueisha and Sony (baka-tachi!). I'm just a little blip on the radar screen. No money goes into my
wallet for what I type.
Author's Note: Due to the way the Japanese counted people's age up until 1902, the characters are a
year younger by Western standards than his Japanese age. Thus when I say Kenji is almost five, in
our culture he would be almost four.
Meiji Jidai: Year 17, January 1884
Tokyo, Kamiya Dojo
Kenshin and Kenji were as alike as father and son could be. Both were small in stature and delicate
in build. They had the same high cheekbones, the same long red hair pulled back in a pony tail and
the same love of swordsmanship. The only major difference between them was the color of their eyes.
Kenshin's were a deep violet, while Kenji had inherited his sky-blue eyes from his mother.
Winter had once again descended on Tokyo. The snow kept falling and falling. Already there was half
a foot of it on the ground. Kenshin had no great love of the season in and of itself, but did love
to frolic in the snow with Kaoru, and now that he was really getting big enough to, with Kenji.
Kenshin decided to take his son out with him to give Kaoru a day to herself, as Kenji could be quite
a handful. Kaoru looked out the window at the falling snow and was dubious.
"What if you get caught in a blizzard?" she asked in her worried-wife tone.
"Don't worry about that. Don't forget, I survived ten winters with no roof over my head," said
Kenshin good naturedly.
"Well promise you won't stay out too late and that if the weather changes, you'll come back," said
"We'll be home in time for dinner. It's a promise," said Kenshin, kissing his wife on the forehead.
"I'll have dinner and hot tea ready for both of you when you get back," said Kaoru. "And thanks for
giving me a day to myself."
"You can thank me in bed tonight," said Kenshin with a wink.
"Hentai," hissed Kaoru.
Kenshin was helping his four-and-a-half-year-old son put on his haori and scarf. As with most
children his age, Kenji wanted to do it himself, but got frustrated with tying the obi. When he was
about to yell in frustration, Kenshin gently slid his hands over his son's.
"Here, let me show you," he said in the very quiet voice that he only used with his little boy.
Kenshin guided Kenji's hands through the motions of tying the knot and then tying the two ends into
a bow. Kenji smiled up at his dad. To the toddler, it seemed like Father knew everything. Kenshin
smiled at Kenji, and then moving with his godlike speed, scooped the youngster up and held him
upside-down, face to face.
"Hah hah! Daddy's upside-down!" squealed Kenji gleefully.
"Oh I am? I can't go outside upside-down or I'll get snow in my face," said Kenshin. Quickly he
flipped Kenji over. "Am I still upside-down?" he asked solemnly.
"No. You're OK now, Daddy," said Kenji, still laughing.
"Thank you koshishi," said Kenshin as he lifted Kenji onto his shoulders. Gripping the little boy's
legs so he wouldn't slip off, he started out the door.
Kenshin and Kenji stepped out of the back gate and into the forest that was behind the dojo. Kenji
squealed with delight at the softly falling snow, his voice the only sound in an otherwise silent
world. Kenshin walked with swift and sure steps, never once losing his footing on the treacherous
ground. Kenji locked his fingers in Father's warm auburn mane, having never been quite broken of his
babyish habit of yanking Daddy's red locks.
Kenshin smiled at the tugging. This time last year, Kenji had had a dislike of him that no one
understood. Whenever Kenshin would approach Kaoru, Kenji would scowl at him till his face was
pinched like a nutcracker. He would scream and try to wriggle out of Father's arms when Father tried
to hold him. And whenever Father was knelt over the washtub doing the laundry, Kenji would come up
silently behind him and yank as hard as he could on his dad's ponytail, almost tempting Kenshin to
cut it off. He would've if he hadn't been afraid Kaoru would beat him black and blue for such a
Over the past year, with patience and persistence, Kenshin had been able to win Kenji over. Kenshin
spent as much time as he could with his little guy, playing with him, reading to him and helping him
swing his tiny shinai around. Kenji came to see that Father was a fun man to be around and wasn't
trying to take Mother away from him. Kenji began helping Father with the gardening and laundry to
the best of his ability. After a year of this, no father and son could be closer.
"Daddy, where does snow come from?" Kenji asked presently.
"Snow is what rain turns into when it gets very cold in the sky," answered Kenshin.
"Snow is water?" asked Kenji.
"Hai," said Kenshin.
"Can I drink it?" asked Kenji.
"If you like," answered Kenshin with a smile.
"Put me down. I wanna drink the snow," said Kenji.
Kenshin lifted Kenji off his shoulders and set him down in the snow. Kenji picked up a handful of
the white stuff, ignoring the cold, and put it on his tongue. Evidently he liked it, because he
sailed into it.
"Oi, Kenji. Leave some of it on the ground," said Kenshin firmly. "Let's walk some more."
Father and son walked on in silence for a long while, going deeper into the countryside. Kenji
walked behind Kenshin and tried to step in his footprints, which wasn't easy because he was so
small. Kenji overstepped and fell facedown in the snow. Kenshin paused and looked over his shoulder,
observing his son. Instantly, Kenji stood up, dusted himself off and continued onward, unfazed.
Kenshin started forward again, a smile on his face.
Kenji was walking under a large maple tree when some snow slipped off a branch that was just over
him and landed with a plop on the boy's ruddy head. Kenji looked up at the offending branch and
shook the snow off with a scowl. That stuff was cold and startled him! Then he looked at his dad who
was still walking ahead and got an idea. Kenji wanted to startle Father the way the tree branch had
After gathering up as much snow as his little arms could carry, Kenji hurried to catch up with his
father. As soon as he was in range, Kenji lobbed a lopsided snowball at Kenshin, hitting him square
in the back.
"Oro!" went Kenshin as he turned to face his little boy, who was staring at him with that impish
little smile of his, blue eyes shining with mischief.
A smirk spread across Kenshin's face. Quick as a cat, he dug his hands into the snow and lobbed it
back at Kenji, hitting the lad on the chest. Kenji squealed with delight and did the same thing back
to his father. Soon they were engaged in a madcap game of snow-flinging, the forest ringing with
Kenji was dodging another of Kenshin's snowballs when a movement in the corner of his right eye
caught his attention. Kenji turned and saw a white rabbit hopping over the snow. If the rabbit
hadn't been moving, he wouldn't have noticed it. Forgetting the game, Kenji started chasing the
"Kenji!" called Kenshin, not wanting the boy to get out of his sight.
Kenji was too wrapped up in chasing the rabbit to hear Father calling him. The white rabbit dodged
in and out of the bushes and around the trees. Kenji who had inherited his father's speed and grace
followed it, though he wasn't able to catch it.
Kenji disappeared around some large trees and out of Father's sight, causing him to panic. Kenshin
summoned his godlike speed, which wasn't as easy for him to do at 34 as it had been at 15, and
charged after his boy.
Kenji saw the white rabbit jump high into the air and then land on its side in the snow. It was no
longer moving. Kenji approached the still rabbit slowly, or would've if he hadn't been scooped up
into his father's arms just then.
"Put me down, Daddy. I wanna see the white rabbit," said Kenji squirming a bit in Kenshin's tight
"Kenji, you must never leave my side like that again without telling me first. That frightened me
badly," said Kenshin, almost in a whisper.
Kenji stopped squirming. He'd frightened Father? How was such a thing possible? Father feared
"I frightened you?" asked the toddler, blue eyes as large as saucers.
"Hai. I was very frightened because I couldn't see you," said Kenshin, gazing solemnly into his
"I'm sorry, Daddy," said Kenji quietly, wrapping his arms around his father's neck.
"That's alright son. I know you won't do it again," whispered Kenshin, returning his son's hug.
"Daddy, look at the white rabbit. It was hopping and then it just jumped in the air, and now it
doesn't move. Why won't it move?" said Kenji pulling back from the hug and pointing to the rabbit
lying in the snow.
Kenshin set his son down and knelt to inspect the rabbit. The white rabbit was unquestionably dead.
In all likelihood, it had died of malnutrition due to the harsh weather. Kenshin sighed. Kenji
couldn't be protected from the realities of life forever.
"I'm sorry, koshishi. The white rabbit isn't moving anymore because it died," said Kenshin in a very
Kenji's blue eyes widened. "Died? What does that mean?" asked the little boy.
"When something dies, it no longer has life in its body. When the rabbit was alive, it was able to
see, hear, feel and hop. Now its life is gone. It can't see, hear or feel anymore. It will never hop
again. Everything that has life will eventually lose it and die," said Kenshin.
"Even us?" whispered Kenji.
"Hai. Even us," said Kenshin. "We're born, we grow up, we live our lives and then we die."
Kenji looked again at the still form in the snow. Why? Why did something that was alive have to die?
It didn't seem fair.
"That's not fair," he said, looking into Father's eyes.
"Life is not always fair, son," said Kenshin, glancing absently up at the sky.
Suddenly he realized that something was terribly wrong. While he and Kenji had been talking, the sky
had been steadily darkening. Only now had he noticed it. A blizzard was moving in! Without a word,
Kenshin picked Kenji up in his arms and started running as fast as he could. He couldn't summon the
godlike speed again so soon, so he would have to go as fast as he could without it.
"Daddy?" asked Kenji.
"There's a blizzard coming in. We have to hurry home," said Kenshin simply. Kenji held onto Father
for dear life.
It was too late! The snow came blowing in on bone-chilling wind. It wasn't too bad at first. Kenshin
ran as fast as he could, hoping to beat it before it got stronger. His hopes were dashed as it
quickly strengthened into a whiteout so thick that Kenshin couldn't see even one foot in front of
him. From his past experience wandering, he knew it would be foolhardy to try and find their way
back to the dojo in the whiteout.
Kenshin groped about blindly for some kind of shelter, something to lean against. He was relieved
when his hand brushed up against the unmistakable texture of tree bark. He squatted down underneath
the tree, set Kenji against it and shielded the boy with his body to keep the wind from hitting him
and causing frostbite.
"Daddy, are we going to die?" asked Kenji.
"Not if I can help it, Kenji," said Kenshin, holding the boy as close to him as he could.
The storm continued for what seemed like an eternity. It buffeted Kenshin's slender body, robbing
him of body heat despite his winter clothes. Kenshin was losing feeling in his legs. His red mane
was frozen and coated with snow. Kenji watched in horror as his father's naturally pallid skin
started to turn blue. He touched Father's left cheek and felt how icy it was.
"Daddy, I'm sorry," said Kenji, tears welling in his blue eyes.
"W-w-what f-f-or?" stuttered the shivering Kenshin.
"I shouldn'tve run away from you. We got caught out here cuz of me," said Kenji, who was remarkably
perceptive for such a young child.
"D-d-don't t-think t-that. N-nobod-dy's f-f-fault," said Kenshin with great difficulty.
Kenshin could feel his consciousness slipping. He knew that if he fell asleep, all was lost. He
needed something to keep him going.
"Kenji. I-I n-need you to do something for me," he said.
"What?" said Kenji.
"W-w-whenever you see my eye c-c-close, I want you to y-yank my h-hair," said Kenshin. "Will y-you
"Yank your hair? Isn't that bad?" asked Kenji.
"N-not here and not now. I need t-to s-stay a-w-w-ake. Don't l-l-let me g-go t-t-t-to s-s-sleep,"
Kenji didn't understand the situation totally, but somehow his three-year-old brain connected
Father's going to sleep here with the white rabbit lying on the snow. He didn't want Father to end
up like the white rabbit.
"Don't go to sleep Daddy!" he shouted.
Over the next half hour, Kenji did everything in his three-year-old power to keep his father awake.
He sang songs, said rhymes, and told funny stories. Whenever Kenshin's eyes started to shut, Kenji
would yank Father's hair as hard as he could until Kenshin's eyes would snap open.
"G-ggood arms, s-s-son," he complimented, earning a grin from Kenji.
After what seemed like an eternity, the wind died down. It continued to snow, but not as thickly.
The world, which had been blotted out by a screen of white, came into view again.
"Daddy, I see the trees!" said Kenji.
Kenshin's brain was almost completely dead from the cold. He could barely function. The only thing
keeping him from dropping was the need to get them both moving, get Kenji home to Kaoru. Summoning
all the strength he had left, Kenshin sat up and rubbed his hands on his arms, trying to get the
blood circulating again. His arms had some feeling because they hadn't been directly exposed to the
wind, but his legs felt like deadweights.
"I can't feel my legs. I need you to help me rub them so they warm up," said Kenshin.
Kenji got to work, rubbing Father's legs as hard as his three-year-old hands could. Thanks to Father
acting as a barrier between him and the wind, Kenji hadn't suffered too badly from the cold. Slowly
with the vigorous rubbing, Kenshin began to feel tingling in his legs as his circulation slowly
returned to them.
Bracing himself against the maple tree, Kenshin managed to get to his feet. He had to hold onto the
tree to gain his balance for a few minutes. Then he pushed off, his body crying out for warmth and
sleep. Kenshin's swordsman's training and survival instincts knew that if he listened to his body,
he'd die out here.
"Kenji, keep talking to me as we walk. Keep me awake. Keep me moving," said Kenshin as he stumbled
As they headed back the way they'd come, Kenji ran around yelling, laughing and singing. A couple
times, Kenshin sank to his knees from exhaustion. Kenji sharply yanked Father's auburn hair till he
got to his feet and got moving again. Finally, the back gate of the dojo was in sight. Kenshin
willed his body to go on just a little farther. Kenji grabbed his dad's right hand and tugged at
"C'mon Daddy. We're home! We're home!" squealed the little boy, earning a faint smile from Kenshin.
Just as they reached the back gate though, Kenshin's strength gave out and he collapsed. Kenji
looked back when he heard the thud and was horrified to see his father lying face-down in the snow,
his crimson hair splayed out in all directions. He wasn't moving. An image of the white rabbit
appeared before Kenji's eyes. Was Father dead?
Kenji approached his father slowly and touched him. His body was stiff and cold.
"Daddy?" he asked in a timid voice, receiving no answer. Father was dead! Kenji felt his heart drop
out of him. He'd made Father die!
Kenji raced into the dojo to find Mother. Mother always took such good care of Father. Maybe, just
maybe, if she could go to him in time, Mother could save Father.
"Mommmmy!" wailed Kenji, in tears by now. Kenji seldom cried even at such a young age, but this was
too much for his little heart to bear.
Inside the dojo, Kaoru's stomach was knotted with worry and panic. The blizzard had hit so suddenly
and Kenshin and Kenji hadn't come home. She paced all over the house, frequently going to the back
to see if they were coming in through the gate. Had they been trapped in the blizzard? Were they
able to find shelter? Were they even still alive?
The sound of her son's crying voice and the sudden appearance of the little boy brought Kaoru to her
feet. Kenji's skin was pale, his eyes were wide and he was CRYING!
"Kenji!" cried Kaoru, throwing her arms around her son. Her relief at seeing Kenji was quickly
replaced by worry. Where was Kenshin? Why wasn't he following Kenji in?
"Mommy, I made Daddy die!" wailed the little boy.
"What do you mean? Where is Daddy? Show me," said Kaoru, trying to keep her voice even to avoid
upsetting the child any more.
"He fell down outside by the back gate," sobbed Kenji. "He's not moving, just like the white rabbit.
I made him die."
"Kenji-chan, you go to your room and change into some dry clothes. I'll go get Daddy," said Kaoru,
giving the little boy a hug.
"Make him alive again, Mommy," said Kenji tearfully before disappearing to his room.
Kaoru ran outside as fast as she could without bothering to put on a haori. She was horrified when
she saw Kenshin lying on the snow.
"Kenshin!" she almost screamed. Wasting no time, Kaoru latched onto Kenshin's arms and started
pulling him toward the dojo. Kenshin weighed only a little more than Kaoru, so it wasn't too hard
for her to move him. Adrenaline borne of fear helped a lot too.
Kaoru got Kenshin inside the dojo and then into their bedroom. Laying him down on the futon, Kaoru
put two fat logs in the fireplace and got a roaring fire going. She had to get Kenshin warm. Time
was of the essence. Once she had the fire going, Kaoru went over to the futon, dragged it and
Kenshin over near the hearth and began undressing her husband.
Once she had him unclothed, Kaoru covered Kenshin with the blanket, trying to get him warm. Her
efforts were rewarded when she felt just a little bit of warmth starting to emanate from Kenshin's
body. Kaoru decided that Kenshin needed to be warmed on the inside as well as the out. After tucking
him under the blanket up to his chin to keep him warm while she was gone, Kaoru ran out to the
kitchen and poured some of the tea she'd set to steep into a cup, then hurried back into the
Cradling Kenshin's head in her right hand, Kaoru poured the hot liquid into his mouth, being careful
not to spill it onto his bare skin. Kenshin swallowed the tea automatically. Kaoru kept making him
drink it until the cup was empty.
Kenji entered the room just as Kaoru finished giving Kenshin the tea. He'd changed into warm, dry
clothes and was really quite alright considering what he'd just been through. Kenji walked over to
"Is Daddy alive?" he asked.
"Hai, Daddy's alive, but he's very cold. We need to warm him up. Let's both get into bed with him.
The more people with him, the faster Daddy will get warm," said Kaoru as she unfolded the blanket
and motioned for Kenji to climb in next to his dad.
Kenji climbed in and snuggled up against Father. Mother climbed in on the other side and tucked all
three of them under the blanket. Kaoru and Kenji snuggled with Kenshin on both sides, trying to warm
After what seemed like an eternity, Kenshin's body began to warm up noticeably. His skin started to
revert to its usual pallor instead of the unsightly blue it had turned to. Kenshin's brain started
to function and he gradually became aware of lying under a soft blanket next to a hot fire. His
violet eyes opened and saw Kaoru and Kenji's anxious faces watching him.
"Daddy!" cried Kenji, hugging his father as tightly as he could.
"Tadaima," whispered Kenshin, smiling at his wife and child.
"Okerinasai," whispered Kaoru, relieved to see her husband awake again.
For the next two hours, the three laid together on the futon, neither Kaoru nor Kenji wanting to
leave Kenshin's side. Kenshin gradually woke up and became more aware. His color was much better
now. Finally Kaoru was of the mind that they could use some food.
"Are you hungry, anata?" she asked softly.
"Starving," said Kenshin with a sleepy smile.
"I'll get some food for all three of us and we can eat in here. I'll be back in half an hour tops,"
said Kaoru, getting up and exiting the room.
Kenshin saw the look of sadness on Kenji's face. He stroked his son's titian hair for a minute. Why
was the little guy so distressed?
"Why the long face?" asked Kenshin.
Kenji's lower lip was trembling. He didn't want to cry in front of Father, never in front of Father!
He wanted to be strong and brave like Father. But now he just couldn't help it.
"I'm sorry I made you die," said Kenji, tears rolling down his face.
"Made me die? What are you talking about?" asked Kenshin, fighting back the urge to laugh at his
son's very serious distress.
"At the gate. You fell down and didn't move, just like the white rabbit," said Kenji.
"No, koshishi. I wasn't dead. I was just very cold and tired," explained Kenshin. "You did a great
job of keeping me going. I would've died if I'd been trapped in the blizzard and you weren't there.
You saved my life, son."
Kenji seemed to feel a bit better hearing this. "Really?" he asked.
Kenshin drew his son into his arms. "Really," he said. "You're a very brave boy. You'll be a fine
man one day."
Father and son spent the next half hour just lying together, enjoying the quiet of the room with
each other. Finally the shouji slid open and in came Kaoru, carrying three plates of steaming rice
and grilled fish. Kenshin and Kenji sat up and accepted the plates, thanking Kaoru. The three sat
down to eat together, Kenshin with the blanket wrapped around his shoulders for warmth.
"Itadakimasu," said Kenshin before all three tore into their food.
After Kaoru had tucked Kenji into bed in his room, she returned to their room where the fire created
eerie, yet romantic shadows on the wall. Kenshin was lying on his side, staring into the fire. It
felt great to be warm again, although his muscles were very sore from having slogged through the
"How do you feel?" asked Kaoru. "Be honest."
"I'm alright. My muscles are a bit sore though," said Kenshin, wanting to be honest, but not wanting
to unduly worry Kaoru.
"I have just the thing for that. Roll over on your belly," said Kaoru. Kenshin did as he was told, a
smile gracing his features. Kaoru exited the room and returned with a small pot of oil, which had
been warming over the hearth in the living room. Megumi had given it to her and explained that when
rubbed on sore muscles, it helped to relax them. This was just what the doctor ordered.
After pealing the blanket back, exposing Kenshin's nude body to her, Kaoru poured the oil onto his
back. Kenshin sucked in his breath through his teeth. The oil felt surprisingly good. Slowly, deeply
and thoroughly, Kaoru pressed down into Kenshin's sore muscles, working the oil in. She could feel
tense muscles relax and turn to jelly as she rubbed them. Kenshin let out deep guttural moans of
pleasure. Kaoru smiled, pleased that she could elicit this kind of response from the normally
Kaoru rubbed the hot oil over Kenshin's lower back and shoulders, working it in very thoroughly on
his shoulder blades, then out over his arms, to the very tips of his fingers. Having finished with
Kenshin's upper body, Kaoru turned her attention to the lower part. She rubbed the oil onto his
smooth, round buttocks and then his legs, which were very sore from walking through the deep snow.
"Ooooh, woman what you do to me," moaned Kenshin, forcing Kaoru to bite back a giggle. Finished with
the legs, Kaoru helped Kenshin to roll over onto his back. She rubbed the oil all over Kenshin's
torso, starting with his belly and working her way up over his chest, and out along the upper sides
of his arms.
Kaoru slid her hands down over Kenshin's torso, not wanting to break contact with him as she worked
on the front side of his legs. She rubbed the hot oil onto Kenshin's thighs, knees and then his
calves and feet. Kenshin's mind was floating, lost in the pleasure of the experience. His brain was
melted to warm goo by the oil and the semi-erotic touch of his wife spreading it all over his nude
body. Needless to say the soreness was completely gone, having been replaced by feeling like yokan.
Kenshin wouldn't have been able to walk now, even if he'd felt the inclination to move, which he
most certainly did not.
Kaoru set the pot aside and replaced the blanket over her husband. She quickly got undressed and
then slipped under the covers beside Kenshin, who promptly wrapped his arm around her. Kaoru rested
her hand on her husband's oily chest.
"Feeling better now, anata?" she whispered.
Kenshin smiled languidly and nodded.
"Thank you for giving me the day off, even if it didn't turn out as planned," whispered Kaoru.
"You're welcome, but could we wait till summer for the next one?" murmured Kenshin.
"Ano, Kenshin. Kenji mentioned a white rabbit. What was that all about?" asked Kaoru, absently
stroking Kenshin's chest.
Kenshin sighed. "He saw a white rabbit die in the forest today," he answered, still not opening his
"Oh..." said Kaoru. "I guess he had to learn about that sooner or later."
"Hai," said Kenshin. "He's a very brave boy. The spirit of a warrior..." Kenshin's words trailed off
because he was exhausted. Kaoru stroked her husband's scarred cheek.
"We can talk in the morning. Get some sleep," she ordered gently.
Kenshin turned over on his side, buried his face in Kaoru's breast and let out a contented sigh.
Kaoru stroked Kenshin's gorgeous mane and stared into the fire for a while, thinking about how
blessed she was that she had two such wonderful guys in her life and how she'd almost lost them
today. She was very glad that they hadn't ended up like the white rabbit.
haori - winter coat, worn over a gi or kimono
itadakimasu - something said before eating
koshishi - lion cub
yokan - dessert with the consistency of jello
okerinasai - welcome home
tadaima - an announcement that one is home
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