Watsuki-sensei owns Rurouni Kenshin.
'Hanami' literally means flower-viewing in Japanese. It is the name of an old Japanese tradition celebrating the blooming of cherry blossoms.
Be forewarned of spoilers from the Seisouhen OVA it was beautifully sad and intense; this story is written as a tribute to it.
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Hanami: Chapter 1 - Scalpel and Spring

by Heartsea ::: 08.Oct.2004

Scalpel and Spring

It was a warm afternoon, one that tied itself gently to spring days like a long, endless golden ribbon. I was familiar of days like these, it coursed through my veins. Laughter rang in the air and sunbeams spilled softly through the umbrage of trees lining the streets. These roads, they formed a labyrinth, weaving its way gently through Tokyo. Every turn was a busy row of shops, men selling their wares calling out to passersby, women bustling by exploding with chatter. The blooming of the sakura blossoms fringed this moving minuet, so at home with spring that the infinite clusters of it poised on dark branches high above our heads became the sky.

A flushed, ivory pink sky, a pool of memories.

The scent of the blossoms wafted everywhere, it calmed the people. It quickened the pace of children and carved melted smiles on frozen faces, before descending from the wind and settling into the earth, reincarnating into the fresh soil of summer. These times were a temporary relief from war, disease, poverty.

It was stifling where I worked, the back room of my grandfather's clinic. The hot air was heavy, and it weighed down my eyelids. I kept my hands working, scrubbing hard at the instruments I was to sterilize. I had to be careful. Spring would bring forth faded memories I resented as I worked alone, catching me off guard.

They ripple through my sea of thoughts in white, foamy waves, these memories; at times rough and broken, at times still and clear as the water in the wooden bucket in front of me. Blood runs through these memories but blood I am used to, it is omnipresent in my daily routine. The blood deep in them is different, haunting, thick and a burnt maroon, echoing pain and bitterness in form of the voices I loved.

I close my eyes hurriedly, and open them again, struggling to erase the images corroding my mind. I do not want to ruin this beautiful day.

Daijoubu, Ayame-chan?


It's time to let go.

"I am trying." I whisper fiercely. "I am trying."

A fine struggle it is, coaxing a reluctant body to heal, but weak I am. Always, I end up succumbing to these dark memories. The arrival of warm days like these offered comfort, but if I was not careful of where I treaded, I would tumble into that searing pain in my heart that I held back, tried to free but failed, in form of a large, ominous black hole beckoning me, pulling my green kimono, calling me forth. Like demons.

I close my eyes again. My stiffened fingers loosen and float to the surface of the warm water.

Before, whenever I was consumed by this cold, bottomless quicksand, I groped for closure, but I never once found it. I gave up, retreated into daily meditation to keep both my heart and head clear as a last resort, blocking the hissing dark pool with strong albeit fragile determination, a chipped stone wall that I hid behind.

Evidently, the heat had melted this winter paddock I found refuge in. I knew all this would resume its destructive course within the coming week, continue its steady butchering of the little sanity I had left. I sighed inwardly, feeling the empty void where the pain once tossed and turned. Tumbling, tumbling again...

All of a sudden my braid escaped from the bun I had gathered loosely on the nape of my neck. It whipped forward like a lash, shattering the thick air around me, swinging heavily from my right temple. My braid, it is who I am, the tug on my scalp like a birthmark. It had rung in my muted fog of thoughts like a slap. I open my eyes immediately, finding myself gasping for air, the same voice speaking again and again in my head, each sentence overlapping each other at an excruciating speed.

What happened to your usual hairstyle, Ayame-chan? Why have you tied only one braid today?

I see, you wanted to change how you look!

Ah, for your birthday?

My eyes focus to the neglected chore in front of me and I realize the pads of my fingers are wrinkled from being dipped too long in the warm water. I pull them out with a quiet slosh, fishing along the last remaining scalpel in the bucket, balancing it carelessly between my thumb and my index finger.

It glints weakly in the dim interior of the room, pale afternoon shadows lit by the sunlight pouring through the shoji, like a small katana.

My, you are growing up, that you are...

"You sang to me and imouto-chan before we went to bed. And then you left the next day," I whisper, like a prayer, desperate for that voice to hear, letting the tears welling up in my eyes slide down my cheeks.

"You left the next day."

It had begun. And I had fought so hard for an answer, battled brutally with myself to contain the bleeding when it did not come. I wondered when the pain would set in again.

This was a challenge to write. I was plagued by the idea of writing a post-Seisouhen piece from Ayame's point of view for a few days, and I finally gave in unaware of how much toil it required the Japanese research I had to do, wording the emotions so uncomfortably familiar to me, straining to remember minute details laying out the foundation of the Rurouni Kenshin world, which should be kept intact and accurate at all costs. Being a perfectionist as well, I had to edit this more times than Sanosuke swears in a day. This is my first Rurouni Kenshin story, let me know what you think of this particular chapter and how I can improve!
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