Through the Cracks Ch4 bit – Stalking Horse

“One thinks,” Kenshin said mildly, scarf about his neck, Kaoru’s grocery list tucked into his sleeve and pole with buckets slung over his shoulder, “a Companion must have better things to do than to follow this one about, that you do.”

A horse-shaped patch of whiteness detached itself from the blaze of sunlight it’d been trying to hide in. :Nope.:

“Sano.” Kenshin kept walking, trying to ignore the chime of silver hooves behind him. It was harder to ignore the odd looks from passers-by; worried and uneasy from Yamato, puzzled – and sometimes, oddly enough, amused – from the Valdemarans in this part of town. “You are making this one obvious.”

:And the pink gi doesn’t?:

“It’s not pink.”

:Sure, sure….:

Just one thump, Battousai pleaded. Just one? We know his head can take it.

No, Kenshin thought, once again. I will not harm him simply because he is… annoying.

Though that was a mild way to describe how the Companion’s constant presence had grated on his nerves these past few days. In the dojo, in the streets; waking, sleeping, even when he was trying to meditate – Sano was just constantly there. A bright blaze of ki amongst quieter humans; spiritual brightness, like a miko’s, that ningen turned toward like flowers seeking sun.

It was sending the youkai side of him into snarling fits.

Tearing firewood apart – not enough. I need to slip him. Just for a little while. I need….

To hunt.

Thought and action blended as he rounded a corner; Kenshin leapt, buckets and all, touching down on a two-story roof.

:Hey! What – where-:

Eyes closed, Kenshin pictured one of the most silent kata he knew; not of Hiten Mitsurugi, but one he’d picked up amongst the Ishin Shishi. Meant for a guard, in the night, who could see nothing yet suspected something was very much there.

Darkness. Silence. Move forward and right into low stance, soundless, blade sheathed; tap the end of the saya against the ground to draw your enemy there. Soundless back, battou-jutsu stance, and strike-

:Yeow!:

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38 thoughts on “Through the Cracks Ch4 bit – Stalking Horse

  1. And on that day Sano learned that it’s best you give Youkai and Hanyou their space when they ask for it. Particularly when you are unconsciously blazing away with spiritual power that says “I’m going to exorcise you” constantly. Though to be fair to the Companions, they have no idea (yet) what they feel like to Youkai kin.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. >Not yet. They’ll find out.>
      Hopefully a Companion and/or Herald sends a infant Hanyou into a panic attack. Because said child will probably have sprouted claws and fangs by that point and would lash out at the big scary things..

      Liked by 2 people

      1. it’s also the favored route of Valdemar’s thieves and spys. Add in his natural trouble magnet abilities and you can bet he won’t just have a reputation with the Heralds.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Now granted it is difficult for anything that looks like a pure white horse with silver hooves and big blue eyes to be inconspicuous . . . they’d show up against anything that is not freshly fallen snow . . . unless they have got some kind of “notice me not” ability we haven’t heard about it.

    Either Sano is not even trying to be subtle or isn’t nearly as subtle as he thinks he is. Of course, if he wants a better look at Kenshin’s energy, he might be trying to annoy him on purpose. Because he can pick up on subtle cues and might have picked up that Kenshin is uncomfortable around Companions . . .

    A bright blaze of ki amongst quieter humans; spiritual brightness, like a miko’s, that ningen turned toward like flowers seeking sun.

    If it’s like a miko’s, I think Inuyasha proved that your youkai side can get used to it.

    Youkai side is probably snarly because it usually is about threats and spiritual power like that can hurt and even kill them.

    Hmmm . . . I wonder if Companions can learn to dampen their ki. If Sano is going to keep following around Kenshin, especially he Choses him, he is probably going to have to. Or he going to constantly have to deal with Kenshin ditching him because “might as well announce to our opponents ‘here I am!'”

    Liked by 1 person

      1. … *snrk*

        All I can think of is that scene from Serenity, where the Operative is meeting Mal face to face and says something to the effect of ‘You can’t annoy me’ or something and Inara’s just ‘Ohh yeah he can.’

        Because Kenshin is /very patient/. Saints envy Kenshin’s patience, but Sano is uniquely gifted in that he can try even Kenshin – even when he’s /not/ trying to. So this? Is frankly /funny/.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Sano is trying to annoy Kenshin

        I think it’s working.

        He’ll learn.

        The line between the annoyance Kenshin will patiently endure, perhaps with gritted teeth, and annoyance that will make him display just how well he can disappear even in broad daylight?

        Because he can totally disappear. He was red-haired assassin in a country with no human red-heads and if the fact that his red hair is so iconic of Hitokiri Battousai (it’s one of the few things they get right when describing him through the part where its that color from the blood of his enemies isn’t right . . .) is anything to go by, probably the only prominent red-head in Bakumatsu – and THEY COULDN’T FIND HIM WHEN HE DIDN’T WANT TO BE FOUND.

        With one major exception but there were other factors involved in that and besides, Kenshin doesn’t like to talk about it. Really, doesn’t like to talk about it.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. *G* All very, very true. You should hear Saitou blister the air sometimes about how can they not find one redhead in all of Kyoto?

        Although to his sort-of dismay Kenshin had no problem finding them.

        …Sort of, because Kenshin had opinions on honorable opponents and not kicking an enemy when he’s down and going to lose.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. …Sort of, because Kenshin had opinions on honorable opponents and not kicking an enemy when he’s down and going to lose.

        True.

        But most of them didn’t know that.

        That he could find them whenever and wherever he wanted was probably unnerving to most all by itself. The ones that realized that will not and rather not is not the same as cannot.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I wonder if Companions have to put black shoe-polish (or equivalent) on their hooves to help dampen their “feels like purification”? Since it’s been noted that their hooves are one of the key points the energy accumulates…

      Liked by 2 people

  3. A lot of Companions really do have a notice me not ability, especially when they’re hunting down their chosen. (The funny thing is, if Kantor actually is Sano’s father, he spent several months pretending to be a regular horse to get the chance to carry off his Chosen). And Skif’s Companion did the same, and it’s been noted they can sneak fairly well when needed.

    So, I think it’s just Sano being Sano. *amused*

    Liked by 3 people

    1. A lot of Companions really do have a notice me not ability, especially when they’re hunting down their chosen.

      Good to know.

      I’ve only read two full length novels and a short story collection, and the all the Chosing in those took place within Valdemar’s borders so the Companions didn’t exactly have the need to be subtle about what they were doing.

      But I’ve read there are moments where they have fooled people into thinking they were an ordinary horse. Even the Karsites, who’d you think would be extra-cautious of white horses considering their (former) opinion of Companions and Heralds . . .

      Maybe it’s hard to think of them as inconspicuous in any shape or form because of the aforementioned very noticeable against almost every background coloration . . . and the fact that Heralds themselves refer to their whites as “Oh Shoot Me Now” clothes. Or as one character once put in their narration “Of course, you now realize that your new name is Target.”

      So, I think it’s just Sano being Sano.

      Aye. Me too.

      Sano is capable of subtle. But his preferred method seems to be right between the eyes.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. It’s also been shown that it is entirely possible to dye a Companion – it’s just that the dye wears off pretty quickly. I also seem to recall being told that the more a Companion has to “work at something”, i.e. the more magic they have to channel, the faster the dye bleaches out. So if you could convince your Companion to quit it will all of the magic, no seriously, cut all of that out, you might be able to hold dye for a week or two. With enough dedication, it can be done! (Most Companions aren’t interested in putting that much effort into hiding, though, because a fair bit of the magic use is nearly instinctual.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This is because of the type of energy the Companions use. If any of you have read any bits of the books the Tayledras/Hawkbrothers appear in, and/or the Last Herald Mage trilogy, you know that using the “node” energy bleaches their hair white and their eyes blue (unless they’re Vanyel or certain descendants, who have silver eyes). It’s exactly the same thing for Companions – from the Horse’s Mouth, so to speak.

        No idea why/how the Firecats manage to retain the red in their coats. (If it’s said, I don’t remember it.)

        Liked by 1 person

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