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June 3, 2014
"You can't catch me," the girl said in a sing-song voice as she ran down the snow-covered street, brushing past a man in a simple blue tunic.
"Nana, come back!" Another girl chased after her, dodging around the same man. "Give me my necklace!"
"You'll have to catch me, Lyre!"
They both picked up their pace, barreling down the ice-covered street, but Lyre made a misstep and slipped on the ice.
Nana turned around as she heard her sister scream, only to find her on the cold, hard ground. The younger of the two clutched at her right arm, and tears began to fall down her cheeks.
"Lyre..." Nana rushed over, recoiling when she saw the odd angle at which her sister's arm rested.
"It hurts!" She cried loudly. "Get Mommy! It hurts!"
Nana looked around. "Spirits..." She'd heard both of her parents utter that word often enough. "Someone help!"
As cold and bleak a day as it was, very few people walked the streets of Republic City. Only the man in blue turned to look at them. His eyes were also blue, but they were brighter than his tunic. His hair was long and black, and he had a full goatee. He approached both of them.
Nana shrank back, wary of his gaze. Her parents had warned them to be careful around strangers, but she didn't have much choice.
"What happened here?"
"Well..." Nana glanced at her sister, who grimacing in pain, and winced. "We were playing around, so I took her necklace. Lyre...I didn't mean to..."
The man knelt down and gingerly placed two fingers on Lyre's right arm. He narrowed his eyes and frowned, but something else appeared in his eyes, a realization.
"It's certainly broken; she'll need to see a healer."
"Mommy...take me to Mommy..." Lyre said weakly.
Nana nodded vigorously. "Our mom is a healer; she can do it!"
The man blinked several times before nodding. "Right. I'm going to pick you up and carry you, Lyre. It might be a little jarring."
As he lifted her up off of the ground, she groaned and gripped her arm. The man glanced at Nana.
"Where is your mother? And why were you two out here alone?"
"We live just a block from here, so we...we thought it would be okay..."
He frowned. "Let's get your sister some help, Nana."
Moro was closest to the door when she heard the knock; she smiled and shook her head. "Shen, did you lock the kids out again?"
The Airbender poked his head out from the hallway. "I most certainly did not! At least...I don't think I did."
She grinned as she approached the door. "Always so forgetful."
When Moro opened the door, she immediately noticed only one thing: man holding Lyre in his arms, with Nana by his side.
"Mommy..." Lyre glanced over at her and smiled weakly. Her right arm was slumped over her body, and Moro could see the bone's odd placement.
"Spirits! What happened?"
"They were playing on the iced-over street," the man replied. His voice caused Moro's head to snap up to his face.
"Hello, Moro," Kenshin said.
The Spirit of Ice didn't know what he expected. He certainly expected hostility, but Moro's gaze simply held the venom and hatred in. She took Lyre out of his arms and ushered Nana inside. Shen came and stood in between him and the three of them, but his stare was one of supreme curiosity, not hatred.
Once Moro had gotten Lyre's arm iced and in a sling, she turned to Shen. "Can you take both of them to Doctor Li for me?"
He nodded. "You sure you don't need my help here?"
Her nostrils flared as she glanced at Kenshin. "I'll be fine."
"Alright. We'll be back as soon as we can."
As they left, Moro moved to the sink and turned on the water, using it to immediately form a dagger of ice. She whirled to face Kenshin, who hadn't moved from the threshold.
"We need to talk, Moro."
She gritted her teeth. "No. You need to leave. Now!"
The Spirit of Ice glanced down at the threshold. "May I come in?"
Her turquoise eyes bore a stare of pure hatred, and she tightened her grip on the dagger. "What did I tell you, Spirit of Ice? If you came near me or my family—"
"I have lived!" Kenshin cried out. "Not as a spirit, but as a man." He sighed, and Moro noticed that his shoulders sagged. "I am worn from my weakness, but I have learned much in ten years of wandering this earth."
"I don't care."
"Please..." Kenshin steadied himself on the doorframe. "I was no manner of father to you or Kyrie, and I was an absolute monster to your mother. I..."
Moro approached quickly. "You...destroyed us. You think ten years of "soul searching" even begins to atone for the things you've done?"
He took a step back. "I...I suppose not."
"If you come back, I will kill you, Kenshin."
He shook his head, and for once in his life, the Spirit of Ice felt a lump rise in his throat. "Please...let me atone for my mistakes, Moro. Let me be a grandfather to my grandchildren; let me—"
She pressed the knife to his throat in an instant. "Do. Not. Go. Near. Them. Nana and Lyre do not need you in their lives; I do not want you in their lives! What would I tell them? 'Here's your grandpa, girls. He's responsible for the way your grandma is.'"
Kenshin felt sick to his stomach. "How...how is...?"
"She will never be the same. You took her children from her and gave them up to be the mindless puppets of an evil spirit!"
"I am sorry, Moro! What more do want?! I cannot change the past! Oh, how I wish I could! How I wish I had Noulaq's courage, his love! How I wish more than anything that I could've stood against Susanowo on behalf of my children, but I cannot go back! All I can do is beg and plead for your forgiveness." He took another step backward. "Forgiveness, it seems, I'll forever be denied."
Moro threw the dagger into the sink. "Get out."
"Yes...I think I've overstayed my welcome."
Though it was not real, Kenshin felt a dagger in his heart as he heard the door shut behind him. If only it was...
The Spirit of Ice walked down the street as snow began to fall softly to the world below. His breath came out in a vapor, and his legs felt weak.
"What a fool I was..." He chuckled, but it lacked mirth. "To think she'd even listen to me."
"Things didn't go well?" The voice caused Kenshin to glance behind him.
"Spirit of Dawn...what are you doing here?"
Lu Ten fell into step beside him. "I'd heard that the Ice Man—"
"That Kenshin was in Republic City, and I came to make sure you weren't going to cause trouble."
Kenshin sighed. "A valid assumption, but wrong nonetheless."
"Oh, I know, but now I'm curious. What, with your rambling, it sounded like you actually attempted to apologize to Moro."
The Spirit of Dawn shook his head. "I could've saved you the trouble."
"I wouldn't have listened," he replied. "I needed to see it for myself; I need to at least ask her for forgiveness."
"What changed you, Kenshin? What did you see?"
The Spirit of Ice frowned. "Plenty. Ten years of wandering has shown me much of a world I once considered beneath me. To tell you the truth, my hesitation began when I watched a man beat his daughter in an alleyway in Ba Sing Se. He called her a disappointment and a failure as he brought his open hand against her again and again."
Lu Ten glanced at him.
"As she," he continued before his throat caught, "as she screamed...I became confused."
"Because I could find no reason to condemn the act. I discovered I had no right to condemn that man, terrible as it all was. Worse, I've seen the opposite. I've seen a man who sacrificed everything for his daughter, and now Noulaq enjoys the honor of her love and respect. What have I but Moro's poisonous hatred?"
The Spirit of Dawn shoved his hands in his pockets. "You could go back to the Spirit World; the portals are open, thanks to Koh."
Kenshin chuckled mirthlessly. "What remains for me there but Susanowo's shadow? No, this is my penance; I'll walk this world until I can atone for what I've done."
"You know what Moro considers atonement, don't you?"
"I've already asked for forgiveness, Lu Ten," the Spirit of Ice replied tersely, "any further atonement made will be on my terms, not that it would matter to Moro."
"So, what's next?"
"I don't know..."
- Kenshin's character arc might seem a tad strange, but a decade is quite a long time to wander. Who knows, maybe I'll write more about what he saw and did during that time.
- I was originally going to write the scene of Moro and Kenshin to be more...happy. But then I realized that not even ten years would dull Moro's edge of hatred. Maybe somewhere down the line she can forgive him. Who knows?
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