Yahiko clapped a hand to his forehead. Idiot. I’m an idiot.
Look for Kenshin? Might as well try to track a hawk through the sky.
This is the day Ayame and Suzume play with Aletha Candle-maker’s kids! And she just had her third a few weeks ago; I heard Gensai-isha say she’s still more tired than she thinks. That’s where Kenshin will be.
Yahiko took off, dodging through carts, riders, and pedestrians, keeping an eye out for the Guard. Chief Tostig wasn’t an idiot; he might not know Kenshin the way Kaoru did, but he was definitely bright enough to figure out some of the places Kenshin might be.
Bet he hasn’t figured out to start checking roofs yet, though, Yahiko thought smugly, craning his neck up to search for a flash of red among flapping laundry or potted greens. Not that he really expected to see Kenshin, unless the hitokiri wanted to be seen….
He dragged his eyes back down just in time to dodge around a young Valdemar swordsman sweating in light blue. The young man didn’t seem to see him, which was fine by Yahiko; there was an air around the older boy of someone looking forward to a fight, and not too fussy about who he picked it with. Not good, Yahiko thought. Scanned the crowd, street-savvy eyes picking out more blue-clad teens and young men, mostly clumped a few stoops down from the one he wanted. Really not good. “Aletha-san!”
The blonde matron rocked her youngest in her arms, wiping sweat from her brow, dark circles under the eyes watching Ayame and Suzume spinning tops with Jasenna and Tianne. “Yahiko? No, girls, you can’t make the tops fight.” Aletha glanced away from the impeding child brawl, sighing tiredly. “What’s wrong?”
“It’s a long story,” Yahiko gasped. Why is everybody sweating? It’s hot, yeah – but it’s nothing like Edo in summer! His eyes cut sideways as a cobbler’s quiet argument with a half-shoed customer turned to yells and shaking fists. A gaggle of goose-girls verbally shoved the shyest of their number away, reducing her to tears. A carter snapped his whip at his horses, drawing blood. The whole street seemed on-edge, roiling with inexplicable anger. It itched at Yahiko, dragging insults to the tip of his tongue. The boy shook it away, but a queer impatience still jangled down his nerves; the broiling threat of a brawl about to break loose. Something’s wrong. Something’s really wrong.