Ow. Ow. Ow…. Sano shook his ringing head, wincing as a clumsy shopper dropped a pot in a clang of steel. That swift smack of Kenshin’s energies against his – yow. Feels like I ended up on the wrong end of Kaoru’s bokken.
:Are you all right?: Megumi asked.
:Just sore,: Sano answered sheepishly, moving out of the way of a team of chestnut geldings drawing a cart of cloth bolts. Right now he was doing his best to pass as “horse, ordinary, not worth paying attention to”. No matter how much his head hurt. :I think I’ve pushed it past “Companion, treat with kid gloves”, through “odd friendly acquaintance”, and into “annoying horse-shaped idiot”.:
:You really think irritating him will work?:
:Best plan we’ve got so far,: Sano shrugged. :Either he’ll get used to me and relax his guard the way Yamato do with family, or he’ll get ticked as hell and draw his ki all the way so he can thump me a good one.:
:Or he’ll bounce blunt steel off your skull again,: Megumi pointed out dryly. :One fight on the riverbank wasn’t enough?:
:Hey, I didn’t say it was perfect.: But his ears flicked back guiltily. :How’s Kaoru holding up?:
:I’ve managed to siphon off a lot of that… fury, before it dragged us both in.: Megumi’s shudder echoed through her Mindspeech. :It makes us both cranky, but we haven’t killed Yahiko. Yet. Kenshin’s calmed down, though. For now.: Unease rippled through her thoughts.
:He’s calmed down?: If Sano’d had eyebrows, he would have raised them. He couldn’t read Kenshin’s feelings; the ex-hitokiri had too much control to leak anything. Which meant the only window they had into what was going on in Himura’s head was the subtle pulse of emotions filtering through Kaoru. Emotions she’d finally agreed to pretend to be clueless about, once they’d explained their evil scheme – ahem, well thought-out and reasonable plan. So far as they could tell, Kenshin had handled his very real fear of being attacked (by his enemies) or disposed of (by his supposed allies) by diligent efforts to look utterly, entirely, ridiculously harmless.
A harmless facade Kaoru could now see through like a pane of stained glass, sensing what that clueless smile hid: a mind as tactically aware as any Weaponsmaster, that could never – quite – stop calculating how to kill.
Though he came close. With the children, surrounded by a quiet garden… he came close.
Still, if Kenshin had any idea Kaoru could feel him as easily as he felt her….
He’d bolt, Sano knew. Probably wouldn’t stop until he hit Lake Evendim. If then.