Author: fireblazie PM
Sanosuke asks Megumi why she never smiles.Rated: Fiction K - English - Romance/Humor - Megumi & Sanosuke - Words: 7,954 - Reviews: 42 - Favs: 26 - Follows: 4 - Published: 06-15-03 - id: 1384500
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: I don't own Rurouni Kenshin.. .
"A Smile" (Sanosuke asks Megumi why she never smiles)
It hurt. So badly.
Megumi watched him out of the corner of her eye, pretending to be engrossed in bandaging her current patient's leg, while he just sat there, staring up at the ceiling, unaware of her eyes on him. His right hand was bruised and obviously injured, despite all the warnings and lectures she had given him on keeping it safe. Soon she finished up with her current patient, and put away the rest of the gauze.
"There, you're all done for now. Be careful with that leg of yours, and try not to walk around on it too much. It should be healed soon if you do what I say."
She turned to the last remaining patient in the waiting room. Sanosuke.
It still hurt. Maybe even more now.
And why do you think that is?
"Well, hello, chicken-head," she said in a tone neither one could read. "Back so soon?"
A sheepish grin made its way to Sanosuke's lips, and he raised up his right hand, which was injured.
Megumi rolled her eyes. "Come here. Let me look at it."
He obeyed, and walked over to her. He sat while she examined his hand with a critical eye. She shook her head, muttering under her breath about his hand.
"It's all bruised up . . and it's bleeding pretty badly, too. What did you do?"
" . . got into a fight."
Sanosuke shook his head. "Nothing much."
"You sure got your hand beat up pretty badly over nothing much," she commented. "You sure you don't want to tell me about it?"
Sano didn't reply, but instead watched as she got out a green bottle of some sort of medicine. He wasn't sure what it was, but he knew it well enough to know that whenever she applied it to his injuries, it hurt like hell. He pulled his hand out of her reach.
"What?" Megumi furrowed her brow, baffled at the action.
"That -- that stuff," he said. "That stuff hurts."
Megumi chuckled. "Of course it does. If it didn't hurt, it wouldn't be medicine, would it?"
Sanosuke glared at her. "I know that. But you always put a lot of it on purpose."
Megumi smiled innocently at him. "Who, me?"
"Yes, you. Don't give me that innocent look." He kept his hand away from her reach.
Megumi sighed. "Fine, fine. I won't put too much of it. Just what you need."
Sanosuke eyed her warily, still keeping his hand away.
"Baka," she scolded him. "If you don't let me treat it, your hand may never get better."
Sanosuke still eyed her with a wary look. "You -- you promise -- you promise you won't put too much?"
Megumi found herself stifling a laugh at his childishness.
"Of course I promise," she told him.
I would never hurt you on purpose . . .
It seemed Sano believed her, for he finally let her look at his hand. Megumi was careful to put only the amount of antiseptic needed, and no more. Even so, she felt him flinch, ever so slightly.
"Well, well," she said, grinning playfully at him. "Who would've known that the great Sagara Sanosuke's weakness is this?" she brandished the green bottle at him.
Sanosuke let out a growl of warning, watching carefully as Megumi put away the bottle and got out a roll of white gauze. Megumi felt his eyes on him, and tried hard not to let out the blush that was threatening to show. She kept her eyes on unrolling the gauze, never on Sanosuke.
She began to bandage his hand carefully, stretching the gauze tightly.
Why do you always hurt yourself like this? Don't you know it pains me to always see you get injured?
Within minutes, she was finished, and she put away what was left of the gauze and the rest of her medicines, herbs, and tools. Sanosuke lingered, watching her.
"I guess I should tell you," he said gruffly. "About why I got into the fight . . ."
Megumi had almost forgotten about her unanswered question. She looked up at him, giving him his undivided attention.
"All right. What was the whole fight about?"
Sanosuke paused, not sure if he should go on. Megumi eyed him.
"Well?" she persisted.
"It was about you," he finally said. "Some guys . . some guys were talking about you."
"Oh?" Megumi wasn't sure what to expect.
"About . . about how you weren't fit to be a doctor. About how you're a woman, and women aren't supposed to be doctors. They said you weren't supposed to be a doctor."
"I see." Megumi bit her lip. That was old. She always heard about that.
"Well, then I got pissed off . ." Sanosuke scratched his head, unsure of how to go on. Megumi, despite the seriousness of the scene, found this unbelievably cute.
"And you fought them," she finished.
"And you got hurt."
He nodded again.
"And all of that for me."
It took a little longer before he nodded his head.
She hugged him.
A very surprised him.
She hadn't been sure what she was doing. But she did it. She half-ran up to him, wrapping her arms around him loosely.
"Thank you," she whispered. "That means a lot to me."
Sanosuke did not reply. He was too shocked, and Megumi still had her arms around him.
He might not realized it, he might have realized it, but that one little statement had actually let slip the true feelings she had for the ex-gangster.
"And you . . . I can't believe you did that . . you're such . . you're such . . ."
Sanosuke remained silent.
"A baka . ." Megumi finished.
Sanosuke pulled away from her hug, frowning at her.
" 'A baka'?" he quoted.
"Yes!" she said loudly. "Sanosuke no baka! You got hurt and you got your hand injured just because of that?!" Her pride suddenly overcame her. "I -- I can take care of myself, you know."
She watched as he froze for a brief moment, and then recovered himself, rolling his eyes. "I don't know about you, but I used to think that when somebody did a heroic and saintly deed, they got thanks and gratitude, not 'You're such a baka!' " he stated, still eyeing her, not exactly sure what to make of the whole scenario. Just moments ago, she had been hugging him. Now, she was insulting him.
Megumi glared at him. Yes, she was grateful, she'd admit that, and she'd also admit that the fact that he was willing to get beat up for her meant a lot to her, but at the same time, she felt that he was such an idiot for doing that. And, as her pride had forced her to say, she could take care of herself without his help.
"I -- I -- I can -- I can take care of myself," she forced herself to say.
The slightest hint of a hurt a downcast look swiftly came and went across Sanosuke's face. Megumi didn't miss it, and inwardly, she cursed her pride. Sanosuke didn't say anything. She bit her lip.
"I -- I'm sorry," she said softly. Without thinking about it, she took his newly bandaged hand and let her long, slender fingers run across the gauze. "But -- well --" she sighed. "Th -- thank you. For -- for doing that."
Sanosuke looked at her. "Megitsune," he began, using his nickname for her. "It's no problem. Not really. Those guys were all talk, anyway. Took me less than three minutes to beat them up."
"Oh?" Megumi arched an eyebrow. "Then why so many bruises on your hand?"
Silence, and then a small scratch of his head. "Erm . . ."
Before she could control herself, she felt herself blush at his cuteness. She tried to make it go away. She stared at him with laughing eyes.
"Thank you," she finally said, and Sano knew she was being sincere.
"You're welcome," he grinned broadly at her. "Let's just call it even, okay? I get beat up for saving your reputation, so I get my hand fixed up for free. All right with you?"
Without waiting for an answer, he had walked out the clinic door, leaving a partly stunned and partly confused Megumi.
She stared at the closed clinic door.
"That baka . . "
And even then, her heart still hurt.
You love him.
A nagging voice. An annoying voice. A voice she wished would leave her alone.
You love him. You know you do.
Megumi frowned, opening her eyes. It was nighttime, and she was desperately trying to get some sleep. But a little voice in her head just wouldn't leave her alone.
You love him.
A soft sigh escaped her lips. She couldn't sleep. That stupid little voice wouldn't let her.
"I don't love him," she whispered so softly she could barely hear herself.
Oh, but you do.
I don't . . the onna-sensei shut her eyes tightly, trying to drown out the voice inside her head.
Then why do you care about him so much?
I don't care about him.
Yes, you do.
Maybe I do, but that's only because he's one of my patients. I'm a doctor. I'm supposed to care about my patients, and he's one of my regulars, what with him getting his hand beat up all the time. . . She turned over, burying her face in her pillow.
You're a horrible liar.
Megumi turned back over, so that she was lying on her back.
"I don't love him," she said, slightly louder this time. "I don't. I can't."
But you do.
Megumi threw off the covers. Stop it, she ordered herself. Stop thinking about that stupid rooster-head. Stop thinking about that baka. Stop thinking about him!!
But she couldn't. She just couldn't. She tried and tried and tried, but memories and thoughts of him flooded her brain, ignoring her pleas. Soon, she found herself lost in all her recollections, and in the end, surrendered, and stopped trying to resist . . .
"Megitsune, you ever thought about smiling?" he had asked her one day as she, for the millionth time, was treating his hand.
Megumi had looked up at him, momentarily forgetting about his injured hand. "What?"
"Smiling," Sanosuke had replied. "You never smile. A real smile."
Megumi had furrowed her brow, staring at him defiantly. "I smile. What are you talking about?"
Sanosuke had shrugged nonchalantly. "I dunno. You never really seem to smile for real. You only have those little small smiles. Forced smiles. And you don't really laugh either. Except for your annoying 'Ohohohoho's, I guess. But I don't think that really counts as a real laugh." He paused, and looked at her confused, yet bold face.
"I smile," she repeated.
He shrugged again. "Aa."
"No, really, rooster-head, I do too smile."
"Fine, you smile."
"You don't believe me." A simple statement.
"Sa--no!" Megumi glared at him. She didn't really know why she was making such a huge deal about this unimportant little argument. After all, why would she care if he thought she never really smiled from the heart? Why should she care? She knew that she smiled. Right?
You care because you know he's right.
Megumi had frowned, a little bit because of Sanosuke, and a little bit because of that damned voice in her head.
"It was just a question," Sanosuke told her, still calm. "Just forget about it."
Megumi had stared at him, annoyed, but had agreed. She continued to treat his injured hand, and they had never brought up that subject again, her not smiling.
However, she couldn't help it. Long after she had finished bandaging and fixing up his hand, and even longer after Sano had left the clinic, she couldn't help but think about it. Was he right? Did she really ever smile? For real? From the heart?
Frustrated, she stood up, and walked up to the nearest mirror, staring at her face. At this moment, it looked bitter and unhappy and frustrated. She forced a smile onto her face, and gazed at her reflection. Immediately, she stopped.
"He's right . ." she whispered.
And he was. She really never did smile, except for those small forced ones, the same one she was making in front of the mirror at this very moment. She tried again, but to no avail. It was still a forced smile. It wasn't one that came from the heart.
She sank back down into her chair.
"I hate him . . . I hate him . . . he reads me like a book . . . I hate him . . ."
Megumi put the covers back on, feeling the chill air. She still remembered that moment a couple of months ago. It had stung her, though she was not quite sure why. Why should she care if she never smiled? It shouldn't matter. She was a doctor, and doctors didn't need to smile. All they needed was good, strong, stable medical knowledge and talent, and that would satisfy her duties. Smiles were not needed.
It was always him. Always him. He was always the one who was there . . he was always the one who helped her with her medical duties, even after everybody else had fallen asleep . . he was always the one who took care of her, no matter what . . he was the one who caught a knife in his hands to save her life . . he was always the one who was able to read her like an open book, no matter how hard she tried to hide her feelings . .
It was always him.
A bright blush slithered over the doctor's face, only now realizing this. She felt her face heat up, and once more threw off the blankets.
Oh, God. I think . . I think . .
The blush grew brighter and redder.
. . I think I love him . .
It was a dark, overcast day the next day. Clouds covered the entire sky, and the sun was completely hidden. A frosty breeze was in the air, and small droplets of rain fell from the sky, landing in Megumi's hair. Inwardly, she cursed herself for not having brought an umbrella.
"I saw the dark clouds, I saw that the sun wasn't out, I heard a little thunder, but I still didn't bring an umbrella," she mumbled to herself. "And now I'm going to get soaked."
As if on cue, the rain seemed to get stronger. Drops of rain started falling, faster, faster, faster, and cooler, cooler, cooler. The wind began to pick up as well, and thunder was heard in the distance.
"Great," Megumi muttered sarcastically. "Exactly what I need."
The rain fell steadily harder, cold drops against her pale skin and long, dark hair. The rain was starting to soak through her clothes.
She picked up her pace, hoping to make it back to the clinic before the rain grew even worse. Her shoes clacked as she walked, almost ran down the road. Even so, she knew that she was nowhere near the clinic, and her clothes, by now, were utterly and completely soaked.
"No," she whispered, staring down at herself. She looked like a total and absolute mess. Her hair was wet and damp, sticking to her face, and her clothes were drenched, clinging to her body. Nevertheless, she still walked as fast as she could down the road, praying that the rain wouldn't get even worse, if that was possible.
"Kami-sama," she cursed under her breath. "I'm wet, cold, hungry, and tired. Could things get worse?"
"Oi, Megitsune!" a familiar voice called out to her.
She froze. Apparently, it could. Slowly, she turned around, and saw Sanosuke standing a few feet behind her, grinning at her like he always did, with an umbrella clutched in his left hand, shielding him from the cold, harsh downpour. He stared at her in disbelief.
"You're a mess," he stated bluntly, starting to walk towards her.
"Tell me something I don't know, why don't you," Megumi snapped.
"Che, I'm the one with the umbrella here, onna-sensei," he chided her, giving her a smug little smile.
"So?" asked Megumi boldly, a surge of pride overtaking her. "I don't need an umbrella."
"Oh?" an eyebrow raised unbelievingly.
"I don't need an umbrella," she told him stubbornly, starting down the road again. The rain fell harder, and a particularly cold breeze blew by, sending shivers down Megumi's spine. Before she could stop it, she had shivered very obviously, and she found herself sneezing . . once . . now twice . . She found herself stopping in the middle of the road, wrapping her arms around herself, desperately trying to keep warm, using her hair as a shield to keep the rain drops from splashing onto her face, her eyes tightly shut. She then found that the rain had stopped hitting her, and that a strong, lean, warm arm was around her shoulder. Her eyes widened, and she turned to the man now standing beside her, holding an umbrella over both of their heads. She noted that he carefully avoided her eyes, deliberately staring at the road ahead of them. However, she could tell that he knew she was looking at him. Except for the soft dropping of rain drops, there was only silence.
"Che," he finally said. "Onna, you'll be the death of me."
Megumi remained silent. Why was he doing this? After her stubbornness, her rudeness . . he still protected her from the rain and kept her warm?
She heard him sigh. "You're soaking wet, onna. And you're cold, too." He pulled her closer to him. "Don't get any ideas," he warned. "I just don't want you getting sick."
She felt her face heat up, and she inched closer to him, trying to stay warm. She felt him stiffen, and she looked up at him with innocent eyes. "You don't want me getting sick, right? I need to stay warm, then."
He rolled his eyes.
"What are you doing with an umbrella anyway?" Now that she was warmer, she felt some of her former arrogance, pride, and tongue taking over. "A brute like you . ."
He rolled his eyes again. "Maybe I am a brute, but I'm smart enough to bring an umbrella when there's one hell of a storm, like this." He grinned annoyingly at her. "Unlike some people."
Megumi looked away, scowling.
"There you are, scowling again," Sanosuke said lightly.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Megumi furrowed her brow.
Sanosuke shook his head. "Nothing, fox, nothing."
"You meant something, chicken-head, I know it." Realization suddenly hit her. "The -- the smiling thing."
Sanosuke avoided her fierce glare, starting to walk faster. Megumi matched him stride for stride, the glare still on her face.
"I told you," she began, beginning to pant slightly from having to walk so fast, "I do smile. And -- and -- and even if I don't, it's -- it's none of your business anyway."
"That's where you're wrong then, Megitsune," Sanosuke replied, still avoiding her eyes. He slowed down his pace, noting Megumi's flushed face.
"What's that supposed to mean this time?" Megumi sighed, exasperated. Was everyone speaking in code?
He shook his head. "Nothing. You wouldn't get it."
Megumi stopped walking, forcing Sanosuke to stop as well. "What is it?"
"I told you, onna, you wouldn't get it anyway."
"Try me." A resolute stare.
"It's -- it's -- it's a guy thing," lied Sanosuke.
Megumi stared him down. "Liar."
Sanosuke still didn't say anything. Frustrated and angry, Megumi began to walk again, without Sanosuke and the umbrella. Pretty soon, she was freezing and soaking wet for a second time.
"Fox!" Sanosuke was at her side in an instant, holding her close to him, putting the umbrella over her head. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"
Despite her anger and frustration, she felt herself blush when she felt his arm around her. At first she struggled, trying to slip away from his grasp and walk off again, but he only held her tighter, and closer. In the end, she surrendered, her face beet red. When she was fairly certain that her face wasn't so red anymore, she looked up at him.
"I hate you," she said in a tone neither could read.
"Maybe so, onna," Sanosuke replied coolly, "but I don't want you walking around in a storm like this without an umbrella. You're gonna get sick. Then who's gonna treat my hand for free, hm?"
A small part of Megumi felt flattered, yet the majority of her felt hurt. That was why he was doing this? Just because she treated his hand for free? Realization sunk in, slowly breaking her heart. That was all he saw in her . . merely another doctor. A woman doctor, yes, but just a doctor. Only a doctor. Just a doctor. Just a doctor who treated his hand for free . . and she never even wanted to treat his hand for free anyway, he was the one who would make excuses or escape before she could corner him for his medical bills. But still . . was that really all he saw in her? Just a doctor? Only a doctor? Merely a doctor? Before she could stop herself, she found herself asking him the question she was thinking.
"Is that all you see in me?" she asked him quietly.
He suddenly looked down at her. "Huh?"
"That's all you see in me . . ? That's all?"
"What are you talking about?"
She could feel Sanosuke's curious, confused eyes on her, even though she was looking down at the ground and using her hair to keep him from seeing her face. Immediately, she had regretted ever asking the question, and she tried to hide her sudden quietness and seriousness.
"Nothing," she quickly said, forcing a smile onto her face. "It's nothing, really . ."
He didn't reply. She didn't dare speak.
"Mm," he finally said.
"Really," she repeated firmly. "It's nothing." But her thoughts begged to differ.
I wish it was just nothing . . .
At long last, they made it back to town, but Megumi was forced to stay in the Kamiya Dojo. Kaoru had insisted that she stay there. The rain still wasn't getting any better, and it seemed Megumi had come down with a cold.
"Ah-choo!" she sneezed, not for the first time. She saw Sanosuke looking down at her with scolding eyes.
"See, kitsune? You're sick. And you were going on about not needing an umbrella, too."
"Shu -- shut -- ah-choo!" Megumi sneezed again, glaring at Sanosuke. She took a handkerchief and dabbed her nose with it. She felt chagrined, being told off by that baka chicken-head, and knowing that he was right. She hated this, being sick. She was the doctor, for crying out loud! She wasn't supposed to get sick. She was supposed to be the smart, practical, sensible one, the one who never got sick.
Sanosuke shook his head. "Don't talk, onna. Your voice sounds like crap."
Megumi shot him a sharp look, but didn't talk, for she knew he was right. Besides the fact that she was sneezing every other minute, her voice also sounded terrible, hoarse and rough, nothing like her regular voice. Genzai-sensei had dropped by an hour ago to check on her, and he had affirmed that she was indeed sick, giving her some medicine to take. He, like Kaoru, had insisted that she stay at the dojo for the night, so she could get some rest.
"This is pretty good," Sanosuke said, smiling broadly. "The fox lady can't talk. Ah, I won't have to listen to her voice for at least a day . ."
Megumi whacked Sanosuke's arm, and, as an afterthought, pinched it with all the strength she could muster. His howl caused her to grin her trademark kitsune grin.
"Onna --!!" Sanosuke rubbed his arm, eyes shooting daggers at the sick doctor.
Megumi merely smiled innocently at him. She tried to stifle a yawn that was coming, but failed. She swore she saw Sanosuke's eyes soften when he saw this.
"It's getting late now, Megitsune," he told her. "You should rest."
She shook her head, not sleepy. "I'm not sleepy," she said, her voice raspy.
But Sanosuke shook his head as well. "You're sick, fox. You need rest. You're sneezing every other minute, and you sound like hell. Sleep."
Megumi shook her head stubbornly. "I'm not sleepy," she repeated, her voice hoarse and very unlike Megumi.
"Megitsune!" Sanosuke sighed in exasperation. "You need to rest."
"I'm a doctor," she coughed out, "I know how to take care of myself. I don't need to rest --" she broke off, coughing and lowering her head. Her body shook with every cough. She looked up to see knowing eyes. Scolding eyes.
"Sano --" she began, trying to convince him again that she didn't need to sleep just yet. It was barely nine o'clock. But he shook his head firmly.
"You need to sleep," he told her resolutely. "Sleep."
"No," whispered Megumi stubbornly.
"You're acting like a three year old!" Sanosuke said, exasperated.
"I'm not sleepy!" A cough.
"You need to sleep, or else you'll never get better!"
"I told you, I'm a doctor --" a sneeze, followed by some coughs, "I know how to take care of myself!"
"If you know how to take care of yourself, then get some sleep, and quit making a big deal out of it!"
"I don't need to sleep just yet!" Four sneezes.
"Yes, you do!"
"No!" she told him determinedly.
"Goddammit --" Sanosuke took both his hands, placed them on her shoulders, and pushed her gently down so as to lie down on her bed. Megumi looked up at him with surprised eyes.
"I'm not gonna doing anything!" he said, annoyed. Megumi took this chance to sit back up again.
"Goddammit --" Sanosuke repeated frustratedly, and repeated the process of pushing Megumi down to lie on her bed. Quickly, he walked out and turned off the light. " 'Night, Megitsune. And SLEEP." he said before exiting and shutting the door behind him.
For reasons she did not know, Megumi didn't sit back up or walk out the door or yell at him. Instead, she merely lay down on her bed, staring up at the dark ceiling.
Why does he care?
Why did he care? The arrogant, conceited, self-centered ex-gangster . . why did he care about her getting enough sleep? He could have just let her stay up late and let her get even more sick. But, no. He didn't do that. He wanted her to get better. He wanted her to sleep. He wanted her to rest.
"Mmnnh," she made a muffled sound, placing her right hand on her forehead. It felt slightly warmer than it should have been. She cursed herself. Now, she even had a little fever.
Great. Just great.
You like that he's giving you attention.
Her face heated up, and Megumi had a feeling that it wasn't just because she was sick. Inwardly, she gave in. Yes, she did like that he was giving her attention, even though she didn't show in the best way possible.
"Ack . ." she mumbled, feeling her forehead get hotter. "I need to sleep." Her voice was still hoarse, rough, and raspy.
Soon, she succumbed to her weariness, and, at long last, fell asleep.
The next morning, Megumi awoke to the feel of a warm, slightly sweating hand on her forehead, apparently feeling and checking to see if she had a fever. Her eyes widened, alarmed at the gesture. Her eyes widened even more when she saw who was doing it.
"Sano . ." she managed to say. Her voice at last sounded better, but not by a whole lot.
"You're burning up," was his morning greeting. His eyes met hers, and there was some emotion in them Megumi couldn't figure out. Concern? Worry?
But why would he be worried about me?
Megumi coughed slightly, her body shaking with every cough. She felt Sanosuke's eyes boring into her back.
"Onna-sensei . ." she looked up to see him shaking his head at her. "You're the doctor, aren't you? Why can't you take care of yourself?"
Megumi glowered at him. "Just because I'm a doctor doesn't mean I never get sick."
"That should at least mean that you can help yourself get better when you are sick," countered Sano, picking up the medicine Genzai-sensei had left for her yesterday.
"I can help myself get better," retorted Megumi. "At least I'm not the one breaking my hand all the time."
"Mm." A small grunt, and he turned around. Megumi watched as he took a glass and a pitcher of water. She continued to watch as he poured some water into the glass. He gave her the medicine, and held onto the glass. With a slight air of 'I-can-take-care-of-myself-without-your-help', Megumi put the medicine in her mouth, and took the glass of water Sano offered her. She drank, and swallowed.
"Bitter," she complained.
A small laugh escaped Sano's mouth. "You're the doctor, onna-sensei. You should know medicine better than I do."
A slight smile twitched at the corners of Megumi's pale lips. She felt a bit ridiculous. She was, like he had said, the doctor. Yet he, the ex-gangster, the brute, the idiotic chicken-head, was taking care of her. Like she was a little kid.
He's treating me I'm just a little kid . . .
He placed the pitcher, glass, and what was left of the medicine down on the floor. Then he stood back up.
Although Megumi would rather die than admit it out loud, she felt . . well, glad that Sanosuke was going through all this trouble just for her. She felt . . special. Inside, she felt butterflies inside her stomach.
"You smiled a little bit," he said mildly, catching Megumi off guard. He saw her startled look.
"You smiled," he said again. "Just a little bit. Not a big smile. But it was still a smile. And I was pretty sure that it was a real smile. A smile that came from the heart."
Megumi immediately frowned. "This again?" she asked him.
Sanosuke shook his head. "Never mind, onna."
"No . ." Megumi shook her head too. "I remember . . you told me yesterday . . it was your . . your . . your business to make me smile . . ."
Sanosuke shook his head. "And I remember I told you it was nothing."
Megumi stared up at him, frustrated. "Why don't you just tell me?"
"Because you wouldn't understand anyway."
"Tell me," her eyes pleaded with his. "I want to know."
"Megitsune . . it's -- it's none of your business, okay?"
Megumi froze. Well . . it never occured to her that way. It was about her smiling, wasn't it? So wasn't it her business in some way? She never expected him to actually tell her that it wasn't her business straight to her face. She felt like he had slapped her on the face. His words rang throughout her head.
"None of your business . . none of your business . ."
" . . . then don't tell me. You -- you don't --"
She didn't finish. She couldn't finish.
She didn't know why, but she felt like her heart was broken into a million fragments. It felt like he didn't care about her. He didn't trust her. He wouldn't even tell her a little thing like what she wanted to know.
I want to know what goes through his mind . . .
She felt stupid. She felt ridiculous. She felt like an idiot.
"Meg -- Megitsune," she vaguely heard him say. "Daijoubu? You alright?"
"Y -- Yes . ." she trailed off. She gathered what remained of her dignity and looked up at him. "Sorry," she finished coolly. "It's none of my business. You're right. I was being nosy. You don't have to tell me."
He seemed to sense the tension in the air. "Meg --"
"Really, you don't have to tell me!" Tears started to form. She cursed herself for being so weak, for being so emotional. She was making a total fool out of herself, and in front of . . in front of him, too!
"I told you, you don't have to tell me," she spat out. "Just . . just . . just go!"
She felt him lingering there, hesitating and uncertain of himself. That was quite un-Sanosuke.
"What?" she looked up at him, annoyed. She sneezed.
"You're sick," he said flatly. "I have to take care of you."
"It's none of your business if I'm sick or not," she told him coldly. "Or is it your business too, the same way that it's your business to make sure I smile from the heart? Huh?"
She saw the hurt look on his face that came and went in the blink of an eye. Instantly, she regretted her words. But he had hurt her, too!
He bent down to his knees to pick up the medicine, pitcher, glass which he had placed on the ground earlier. He stood up.
"I always thought it was your business to make sure that the person you love is taken care of, and that she smiles straight from the heart," he said in a tone Megumi couldn't read. He avoided her eyes.
Then, he left.
It took about five minutes before the words Sanosuke had said to her sunk in.
He . . he loved her?
No, no, no, that couldn't be. She shook her head rapidly. She was sick. She had a horrible fever. She had a cold, she was coughing, and her voice was hoarse. She must be delirious, too. Yes, that had to be it. He couldn't . . no, he couldn't actually love her . .
"Baka . ." she mentally slapped her head. Why did she care so much over him? This was Sanosuke we were talking about. Sagara Sanosuke. Conceited, arrogant, idiotic, stupid, careless, reckless . . the very same guy she had dubbed "chicken-head." She was going insane over him?
"Why . ." she mumbled. "Why? Why? Why?"
She stood up shakily, walking slowly to the door. She paused for a moment, holding onto the door, staring down at her feet. Could she do this? Would she be able to do this?
"Baka," she repeated, scolding herself. She noticed that she seemed to be scolding herself more and more often now. And ironically enough, she usually did so when it had something to do with Sanosuke.
Can you do this?
What are you going to do anyway?
She stopped in the middle of sliding open the door. She froze as she saw Sanosuke's back to her, the "aku" on his jacket fluttering, his red headband swaying. Even if he wore the character for "evil" on his back, she knew inside that Sanosuke never had, and never could be, truly evil. Despite his swearing, drinking, gambling, and other bad habits, Sanosuke was not evil. He was the man who had made her feel feelings she had never felt before. Feelings that she never thought she would feel. Feelings that she didn't want to feel. He was the one who had melted all the barriers she had created to shield her heart . . without even knowing it . .
"Why are you here anyway?" Megumi stared at him fiercely. She was walking to the Kamiya Dojo, after being invited there by Kenshin and Kaoru. She hadn't expected to run into Sanosuke on the way. But she had. It was as if fate enjoyed playing cruel tricks on her.
He shrugged nonchalantly at her. "I'm on my way to the dojo. To get some free food. You're going there too, so I might as well go with you, right?"
Annoyed, she didn't reply. Neither one said a word, and when Sanosuke finally did, the question he asked unnerved Megumi greatly.
"Do you think my hand will ever be healed?"
She looked up at him, surprised. She certainly had not expected that question from Sanosuke. He was almost acting like he actually cared about his injured hand. She frowned. Well, if he really was concerned about his hand, then why didn't he show it by taking care of it and not using it so recklessly?
" . . yes, I guess . . if you stop using it so carelessly, anyway," she replied, trying to keep her surprise from showing in her voice.
"Why?" she asked, unable to keep it in.
He shrugged. "I dunno. I mean, what kind of fighter would I be? I guess I could make do with my left hand, but then I'm probably gonna break that, too."
Megumi sighed. Typical reaction, especially from the baka chicken-head. Only caring about getting his hand to heal so that he could fight some more.
"But then . . when I really think about it --" he paused for a moment and frowned, annoyed at the mock surprised expression on Megumi's face, " -- it's not just because of the fighting. I guess it would be because people would exclude me . . I mean, you know how people treat the sick ones. They banish them . . they ignore them. They'd probably treat me the same way, if I had a lame hand." He shrugged again. "Forget I said anything. It's stupid."
Megumi blinked. Was this really the same Sagara Sanosuke she had known?
"No . . it's not stupid . . It's kind of surprising that you care, since this is Sagara Sanosuke we're talking about . ." she smiled playfully at him, "but it's not like everyone will exclude you. There'll always be Kenshin, Kaoru, Yahiko, Ayame, Suzume, Genzai-sensei . ."
He raised a cocky eyebrow. "I didn't hear your name in that list."
Megumi's face colored. "What?"
He grinned in that way that made Megumi half sigh in exasperation, yet half made her blush. "I never heard your name in the list. If my hand never heals, will ya still be by my side?"
The way he asked the question made Megumi's face flare up. She purposely avoided his eyes, staring at the ground below her, becoming extremely interested in the concrete.
"Well?" Sanosuke insisted. It was clear that he wasn't going to give up anytime soon.
Yes . . you know you'll stay by his side no matter what.
I'll never leave you . .
"Go away," Megumi muttered. Her face was still red, she could tell, and she could feel the heat currently radiating from her pale-skinned cheeks.
"Will you?" Sanosuke asked.
Megumi remained silent, her face growing hotter and hotter by the second.
"Megumi," she heard him say. "Answer me."
She stopped walking, as did he. She knew that he rarely addressed her by her real name, and that when he did, it was for something important.
"Why would you care anyway?" she asked, still not looking at him straight in the eye.
"I need to know," she heard him reply. To her surprise, there was not one drop of sarcasm or unseriousness in his voice.
She sighed, and looked up at the sky.
Yes . . yes, yes, yes . . you know you will.
She looked back down to the ground.
"Yes . ." she whispered, so faintly she could barely hear it. But apparently, Sanosuke had heard it, for he grinned broadly, and let out a loud exclamation of satisfaction. Megumi's face was still red, even if the redness had lessened.
"Okay, you got me, you embarrassed me," she mumbled, voice dripping with coldness. "Go on, laugh, make jokes."
But he didn't. Instead, he gently tipped up her chin so that they were looking straight into each other's eyes.
"Arigatou," he said softly.
As quickly as it had happened, he had let go of her chin, and was now at her side, and they were once again walking to the dojo in silence.
Sanosuke wasn't just an ex-gangster, a cocky, witty, yet dense kind of guy. Deep inside, beneath all of his masks and façades, he had a different side, a softer side. Why else would he care about if people would exclude him if his hand didn't heal?
"Sano . ." she began uncertainly, not knowing how to go on. Her voice was still slightly hoarse from her sickness. He kept his back turned to her. She stared at the large kanji on his back. He showed no sign of hearing her.
"Sano," she repeated, slightly louder this time.
He raised his head, turned, and looked at her. Their eyes met. Megumi gulped nervously.
"I -- I --" she stuttered. Inwardly, she cursed and swore at herself. "I . . I'm sorry."
There. You said it.
But he didn't say anything. He merely stared at her, with a blank look in his eyes. Megumi shrank back.
What?! Why is he looking at me like that?
"Sano," she said again, biting her lip. She didn't know what else to say.
He turned back around, breaking eye contact with her. She was again faced with the "aku" on his back, the ends of the long, red headband he wore touching her hand lightly.
What else do you want me to do? I know I hurt your feelings . . I know, I know, I pushed you away . . but . . but . . I don't deserve this!
"Sano . . please . . you know I didn't mean it . ." she pleaded.
It was only one word, but it did it. He had spoken.
Megumi took a deep breath. Against her mind's wishes, she walked slowly to the ex-gangster, and sat down silently beside him. He showed no sign of acknowledging her presence.
"I said I'm sorry," she said. "I'm sorry."
He only nodded.
Megumi flared up. "Sa-no! I said I was sorry! What else do you want me to do? What do I have to do for you to forgive me? Why can't you forgive me? I don't like it when you're mad at me!"
As soon as those words escaped her lips, she fell silent, and turned away, again cursing at herself. Why did she never think about her words before she said them?
"If I forgive you . ." he spoke at last, but he still didn't look at her. " . . then you're going to hurt me again."
Megumi felt like he had hit her. "Wh -- what?" she barely got the word out.
He didn't say anything. He was silent, and unusually serious. His sudden change of attitude unnerved Megumi, and at that moment, she would have done anything to get the old Sano back.
Before she knew what she was doing, she had moved so that she was looking straight at Sanosuke. Sanosuke shifted his position slightly, trying to avoid her eyes, but that only gave them more direct eye contact.
"I wouldn't hurt you," she said softly. "Never. Not on purpose."
"But you did."
Megumi felt her heart being ripped in two. "But -- but --"
Against her will, Megumi threw her arms around Sano's neck.
"Don't treat me like this anymore . . please . ." she whispered.
What are you doing?
I . . I don't know . . I don't know anymore . . .
She pulled away, blushing immensely. "Sorry," she apologized. Now she was the one avoiding eye contact.
Sanosuke looked up at her at last, as if just realizing that she was there. He watched as she tried, and failed, to stifle a cough. She broke into a coughing fit.
"Fox," Megumi heard him mutter in exasperation. She continued coughing. When she was finished coughing, she looked at him for some kind of reaction.
He stood up, took her hand, and began to drag the sick doctor back to her room.
"Fox . . you're sick," he reprimanded her lightly. "You should be in bed."
Megumi followed him, surprised. He was acting like nothing had ever happened.
But why is he acting like nothing happened? . . then . . then I guess I should act like nothing ever happened, too.
He physically guided her to her bed, and laid her down. When Megumi looked at him with stubborn eyes, he shook his head stubbornly right back.
"Rest," he ordered her. "If you had been resting, you would be well now."
Megumi's lips twitched into a scowl. She watched as Sanosuke knelt down beside her bed, put his arms on the side of the bed, and laid his head on them.
"I'm going to be right here, onna," he told her, grinning the old Sanosuke grin, "to make sure that you rest and sleep. When tomorrow comes, you better be healthy again."
Megumi tried to sit up, but Sanosuke pushed her down so she was lying down again.
"Sleep," he told her. "Or lie down and rest, at least."
Megumi shook her head in exasperation. "You're too strict," she whined.
"I'm going to stay here," he said again, resolute. "And I'm going to make sure that you rest and sleep and lie down at all times. So you get better by tomorrow." He placed his arms on the side of the bed, and laid his head down again. He closed his eyes. Just as Megumi was about to try and sit up again, one of his eyes opened.
"Don't even try it," he warned. "I'm going to make sure you rest."
"Because it's your business to make me feel better?" She smiled teasingly at him.
"Exactly." The straightforwardness of his answer made Megumi blush slightly. "It's my business, and mine only." He closed his eye.
Megumi closed her eyes as well.
You're with me now . . and with me only . .
At long last, Megumi smiled.
Thank you, Sanosuke. You finally got me to smile.
~ Owari ~ The End ~
baka: idiot, moron, jerk, dummy, etc. "All around affectionate insult."
Sanosuke no baka: "Sanosuke, you idiot!" (or something similar..)
Megitsune: Sanosuke's made-up nickname for Megumi. Combines her name, and the word "kitsune"
onna-sensei: doctor lady, lady doctor
daijoubu: I think it really means "all right" as in "healthy" all right ... but I meant it as in, "Are you all right?"
onna: girl, woman, lady
aku: it can be translated as "evil" or "wicked" or "bad". Sano wears this character on the back of his jacket as
a reminder of the Sekihoutai. I'm not going to explain his whole story ....
A/N~ ^__^ Yay, I finished my second Sano/Megumi one-shot. I know, this is the first one published, but it's still my second Sano/Megumi one-shot... you'll never be able to read my first one, though, because I've deleted it.. -::sticks tongue out::- It wasn't..."good" enough for me... it was too cheesy, so I just deleted it... this one I'm satisfied with... anyhow, R+R!
Started and finished on April, 2003 (I'm not sure about the exact day....)