This fan fiction is based on the Rurouni Kenshin manga. Rurouni Kenshin characters are the property of creator Nobohiro Watsuke, Shueisha, Shonen Jump, Sony Entertainment, and VIZ Comics. This is a non-profit work for entertainment purposes only. Permission was not obtained from the above parties.
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What a Dream Is

by amamiya ::: 24.Apr.2003

Kenshin found himself in the valley of bones yet again. Human bones they were, skulls, femurs, ribcages, toes, fingers, all arranged in large piles that spread for miles and miles and crunched under his feet as he walked. His hands were warm, and as he looked down, he realised that they were dripping with blood. The blood-scent was everywhere; in his hair, in the air; it pervaded into his very soul.

Horrified, Kenshin realised that his garments – a navy blue gi and grey hakama – were soaked with blood.

"It was you," said a thin voice suddenly, accusing and full of hate. "Hitokiri Battousai, the murderer. You slew me without even blinking." One of the skulls on the top of the pile was talking to him; its jaw was moving up and down in a hideous imitation of life. Normally, Kenshin might have found the thought of a talking skull a little absurd, however now, for some reason, he looked at it with near-terror in his eyes.

"Murderer…" echoed Kenshin, consumed with guilt. The skull jumped a little in indignation, and glared at him with its empty eye sockets.

"Don’t pretend that!" snapped the skull, outraged. "The blood is on your hands now, Battousai. You can’t change the past."

"I’m… sorry… I’m so sorry." Tears were starting to form in Kenshin’s eyes; tears of grief and remorse. The skull quivered in anger and then lost its balance, and rolled off the pile of bones with a clatter.

"I don’t care!" It screamed, now lying on its side, on the ground. "I’m dead! What the hell do I care? I’m dead because of you!"

"My… fault…"

"Yes! It’s all your fault! Blame yourself! Blame blame blame blame…"

Kenshin put his face into his hands then and wept, for the souls of all those whom he had killed. They however, being cold and remorseless, would not accept his tears.

"Foolish Battousai," one of them sneered. "It is done; set in stone; you cannot change it. Let this be your tenchuu."

Tenchuu… The single terrible word echoed inside Kenshin’s head, damning him. TenchuuTenchuuTenchuu.

A skeletal finger, attached to a skeletal hand, which in turn was held up by a skeletal arm, rose to point at him in accusation. Kenshin could not bear it any longer. He turned his face, only to find more skulls, peering at him with dreadful empty eye sockets. He whirled again and started to run, to try and escape from the blood-smell; from the terrible white skull-faces. But his clothes were soaked in blood and heavy, and Kenshin found that they were slowing him down; how heavy they felt.

"No!" he shouted, half in guilt, half in indignation, and still he tried to run, but he found himself quickly tired, and suddenly he skidded to a halt, breathing heavily. He had come out of the valley of bones, and now, around him it was snowing, and there streaking the snow were drops of red blood which had been splattered violently in a gruesome abstract pattern. As he walked, his dread mounting, he kept his eyes on the ground, and the blood-pattern seemed to thicken and solidify, until he was not walking on snow, but on frozen blood that was icy and hard under his feet.

That was when a terrible fear crept into his heart.

"Hello, anata," said a cold voice suddenly, and Kenshin looked up, afraid. Before him stood his wife, clad in a kimono of white silk, her ebony hair swaying slightly as a cold wind blew between them.

"To… moe…" Kenshin froze where he stood and stared at her, stunned by her pale, icy, terrifying beauty. Eventually he looked down and saw that she held something in her slender hands. To his horror, he recognised his old sword; his killing sword. Expressionless, her eyes hard, she held it out to him.

"Yours," she said, offering him the hilt. Wordlessly, Kenshin took the sword. It was as if his arm had acted of its own will, for he had not wanted to take the blade at all.

"Now, anata." Tomoe smiled slightly, and to his horror Kenshin realised that there was warmth in her eyes.

No… not like this… again…

"Do it." Her words were a whisper, barely heard by Kenshin as he lifted the sword. It felt light even to him, and he screamed even as he brought the sword down upon her, slicing diagonally from shoulder to waist. A spray of blood hit Kenshin in the cheek and all of a sudden the sword felt incredibly heavy. It weighed him down and he fell to his knees, still unable to let go of the hilt.
"That is your burden." Tomoe was now lying on the ground, and her dark eyes were staring at Kenshin with hatred in them. "Now carry it, anata. You will not let go of it for as long as you live. It is your Tenchuu."

And with that whispered word, she died, and Kenshin howled with pain and grief and guilt. Sorrow filled him, and he remained kneeling on the cold ground, weeping. He could not bring himself to lift the heavy sword nor could he cast it away. For Kenshin, it was as if all time had stopped and he was trapped in his own despair.

After a while however, he stopped crying, as he realised that there were eyes upon him. He looked up and stared into those eyes.

Deep, dark, fathomless eyes, which were black, but not the black of nothingness. In fact, as Kenshin met that gaze he could feel that its blackness hid depths greater than the dark of the night sky, which held the stars. He found that he could only stare into these eyes for a second, before looking away.

So he glanced away, and found that the owner of such eyes was austere and beautiful and distant; tall and thin with skin as pale as the winter and a long, smooth mane of black hair that was as long as Kenshin’s own, but untied. His face was unlined, and gaunt, all sharp angles and planes, yet not unpleasant to look at. The man was wearing a silk black kimono that had been embroidered with an intricate pattern too fine for Kenshin’s eyes to see.

And as he beheld this figure, Kenshin reached out with his senses and saw that it was no man, but something else that he had always known. As the realisation struck deep down within the core of his being, his eyes widened in awe, and he spoke aloud one word.


The man looked at Kenshin distantly, but there was perhaps a little warmth in his gaze, and then he spoke.

Yes. I am Dream.

To Kenshin it was as if the voice had echoed in his ears, yet he also heard it in the back of his head, in his heart, and in every fibre of his mortal being. It was a mesmerising, spellbinding kind of voice and Kenshin looked up at the stranger with renewed awe.

"But… why?" asked Kenshin in confusion, and as he spoke the words a single, inescapable truth came to him. He was dreaming. This was not the land of reality, but one of his many horrible nightmares. For a moment Dream looked at him, and Kenshin found himself unable to move, caught in that infinite gaze.

You are perceptive, mortal, he said, with some curiosity. However I was not seeking you. I am merely passing through…

"But…" And then Kenshin fell silent, for it seemed that the tall, gaunt man was thinking. Morpheus, Prince of Stories, King of Nightmares, Lord of Dreams, surveyed the scene around him, and then he slowly turned to Kenshin, and Kenshin was startled, for the thought that he detected a hint of pity in Dream’s eyes. Kenshin shook his head. He must have been mistaken, because Dream had no time for pity.

Or perhaps without Dream, there was no pity…

It seems, Dream opened his palm and Kenshin realised that it was full of shimmering, glistening sand, that you have a little too much of the nightmare-stuff. He then picked up a single grain of sand and cast it into the faintly howling wind of Kenshin’s dream.

Goodbye, little man, said Morpheus then, and Kenshin knew that he was not referring to his height, but to his size in the overall scheme of things, and all over again, Kenshin felt an immeasurable sense of wonder. Then he looked up to the sky in mild surprise, realising that it had started to snow. The flakes that hit his face were as soft as powder and not unpleasant, and Kenshin saw that they were starting to cover the blood-stain on the ground. They were also beginning to hide Tomoe’s body, and as it continued to snow, Kenshin wondered if those two terrible things had ever been there at all.

Eventually, the entire ground became nothing but an endless plain of whiteness, and Kenshin stood there for what seemed a long time, thinking. All of a sudden, it occurred to him that he still held the killing-sword in his hand, but it had become light again, and with disgust he cast it away from him, so that it landed on its side. Kind snowflakes began to cover it, and Kenshin started to walk away from that place, as if in a trance.

After a while, Kenshin saw that the landscape around him was beginning to change; it was as if the seasons themselves were changing, for where he had trod on cold, wet snow there was now grass, and it was beginning to get warmer. Soon he heard the sound of rushing water in the distance, and as he drew nearer, he realised that there was a clear, shallow stream in front of him. The sunlight glistened off the water, which sluiced itself between rocks and over pebbles, creating intricate crisscross patterns that looked like fine glass.

Kenshin was tempted to sit down on the banks of that cool, mesmerising stream, however the events of before still weighed heavily in his heart, and he felt, strangely, that he wanted to go back to the desolate valley of skulls. He thought that perhaps he didn’t deserve to be finished with that place just yet, and as he realised this, the sky started to grow dark, and clouds rolled in from nowhere, growling softly, echoing his disquiet.

But then Kenshin felt something soft and warm grasp his bloody hand, and as he looked down he saw a mirror image of himself, only much smaller, and much younger. Kenshin gasped in surprise, wondering if this creature was perhaps some kind of dream-incarnation of his childhood self, however as he looked closer he realised that it wasn’t so, for it seemed to him that the child had something of Kaoru in him.

"Hey ‘tousan," said the boy then, and all of a sudden Kenshin realised that his hand was bloody. Violently, he wrenched it away, ashamed. The child looked at him, confusion making his violet eyes wide. And then…




Then Kenshin woke, and realised that outside, it was raining softly. For a while, he simply lay on his back, silently staring up at the dark ceiling. Then he shook his head slightly.

"Just a dream," he whispered softly to himself, before rubbing his eyes. They felt gritty; full of sleep-sand.

All of a sudden he heard someone speak. Foolish little man. Kenshin was not sure if he had heard the voice or if he was still dreaming, or simply imagining things. Don’t you understand that dreams have made you, Himura Kenshin?

But Kenshin would be unable to recall later on whether he had actually heard those words or not, for he had already slipped away, back into the land of the Dreaming.

I had a little soundtrack to this; two songs, the first called ‘Red Right Hand,’ by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, the second, an awesome little thing called ‘Eclipse’ by Pink Floyd. I only got the idea for this story after reading ‘Fables and Reflections,’ book six of Gaiman’s Sandman series I think… Just thought it would be interesting to chuck Morpheus into one of Kenshin’s nightmares y’know… although I’ve taken a few liberties with the character, because I don’t think that Gaiman’s Sandman would actually care that much.

Hmmm. Anyways, enough of this. I really shouldn’t be doing this right now; I have an exam in a few days. *sighs* But then again I’m a born procrastinator, so I guess it can’t be helped.
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