|A Job for Sanosuke
Author: Shirou Shinjin PM
Sano owes Tae money... lots of money... a truly frightening amount of money. So what happens when Tae decides to call Sano's tab in? More importantly: will Sano survive a day as Tae's pet slave? Completed!Rated: Fiction T - English - Humor - Chapters: 9 - Words: 26,756 - Reviews: 106 - Favs: 39 - Follows: 16 - Updated: 04-21-06 - Published: 09-18-05 - Status: Complete - id: 2583923
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A Job for Sanosuke
Chapter 2 – The Nightmare Begins
By Shirou Shinjin.
Disclaimer: I have not, do not, and most likely will never own Rurouni Kenshin, or its characters. They belong to various evil corporations, and the wonderful Watsuki-sama. I'm just going to borrow them for a bit, k?
Blinking the sleep and a few jugs worth of sake from his eyes, Sano engaged in a pitched battle with gravity. At first gravity, being a nice stable physical constant and not a haphazardly swaying young man, seemed to have the upper hand. It was a brutal fight, neither side giving or losing ground, but eventually Sano's persistence won out and he successfully defeated gravity and pulled himself into a sitting position.
'Ha!' gravity seemed to taunt him; 'you may have won this round, but you've still got to stand up!'
After a few more minutes of blearily fighting the combined forces of inertia and gravity, Sano managed to get to his feet without falling over. Pulling his pants and jacket on, a thought crossed his mind. 'Maybe I shouldn't drink so much sake right before bed... naah.' He grabbed a random fish bone from the pile, slid open the door to the blinding light outside, and made his way down the road to the dojo for breakfast.
As Sano sauntered through the early morning light, he had a lot of time to think about the coming day. He knew Tae; she was a friendly, caring and generous woman. She would never take advantage of the kindness of others.
Nor, he hoped, would she take advantage of free loaders who owed her staggering amounts of money that would make any inner-city accountant weak in the knees.
No, Sano thought to himself, he had nothing to fear. He'd likely spend the day hauling coal or assisting the men in the kitchen with the fires, or carrying the hot pots Tsubame was having trouble lifting (assuming Yahiko didn't beat him to it).
Yeah... today would be fine. He put on his best cocky grin, spun his fish bone, and strode up to the dojo gate.
Pulling his hands from his pockets, he pushed the gate open and walked inside, craning his neck around the corner to check for incoming projectiles (which could be anything from a tofu bucket to Yahiko)—Sano had learnt to be careful. Satisfied that he wouldn't be getting a concussion just yet, he made his way to the kitchen where Kenshin was predictably preparing breakfast.
"Yo." Sano was a master of language. He could puts words together and everything.
"Good morning, Sano. Breakfast will be ready shortly, if you would like to wait in the dining room," the rurouni replied softly.
Sano grunted in response, and went off to secure his spot at the feeding trough, err... table. He always found it somewhat amusing that despite Kenshin being such a quiet and reserved man, it was usually the rurouni who contributed the bulk to their conversations. At least, the conversations they had before 9 am.
Yahiko was already seated at the table, looking like he'd died during the night and had clawed his way up from the grave just so he wouldn't miss Kenshin's cooking. His hair was a mess, and Sano wasn't entirely sure if the kid was conscious or not. "Hey, Yahiko-chan, you awake or what?"
Seconds later, a very awake and very annoyed Yahiko was attempting to gnaw Sano's scalp off. 'Definitely awake,' he mused to himself.
It wasn't long before Kaoru walked in looking like the emperor's wife in comparison, and demurely seated herself at the table. She was wearing a colourful blue kimono, and an equally fetching magenta ribbon in her hair. Sano thought she looked very nice and had to wonder some mornings why Kenshin didn't just tell them both to get lost and jump on her.
Yahiko thought she looked very pretty (in a younger brother to older sister kind of way), and told her this in the only way he knew how. "Hey busu, you trying to impress someone or something?"
Kaoru predictably brained him on the head with the nearest solid object, which just happened to be a small, and thankfully empty, water bucket. "How dare you, Yahiko-chan!"
"Don't call me 'chan'!" he fumed as he recovered from the blow to his head.
"Don't call me 'busu'!"
"I just call it as I see it, busu!"
"Then you're obviously blind, Yahiko-chibi-chan!"
"What was that!"
"Breakfast, everyone!" Kenshin called from the kitchen. In the blink of an eye, Yahiko was sitting patiently like a little angel complete with fake halo and a manic grin at having gotten the last word in before Kenshin intervened. Kaoru was still glaring at her student, but was comforted by the knowledge that by the time she was finished with him tomorrow, he'd think once before calling her "busu" again.
And so breakfast proceeded as normal—Yahiko throwing the odd insult at Kaoru who either responded in kind, hurled something at him, or thwacked him with a bokken she seemed to keep hidden under the dining table for this very purpose; Yahiko throwing the odd insult at Sano who responded with a jibe so scathing that the young kendo student had no choice but to launch himself at the older man, with an intent to sever his head from his shoulders; and Kenshin calmly sitting there like some Buddhist monk peacefully sipping his tea.
"So Sano, what are you doing today?" Kaoru casually asked him when she had finished her breakfast. Sano very nearly spat his Miso straight back into the bowl and all over his face. There was no way he was going to answer that one truthfully!
"I'm, er..." he said, desperately stalling for time. "...not doing a whole lot, that I'm aware of, Jou-chan." It wasn't a lie, precisely: he honestly didn't know what Tae was going to ask him to do.
Kaoru beamed. "Good! In that case, you can come to the markets with me to help me carry things back. We need salt, soy sauce, miso, rice, more wood for the bathhouse and kitchen, an extra shinai to replace the ones Yahiko broke..."
"Hey, busu!" Yahiko shouted indignantly between double mouthfuls of food. As such, it came out more as "Hrrugh, boofu!"
"...some new tiles to fix that broken section of the roof, and there's this fabric I saw yesterday that I wanted to..."
This was getting out of hand. "Umm, you know I'd love to help ya, Jou-chan, but I'm, uh..."
"But you just said you weren't going to be busy—are you lying to me, Sanosuke?" Kaoru looked like she was getting angry. Not good.
"I said 'not that I'm aware of', and I'm not... hey wait a second—I thought you two went shopping yesterday? Don't tell me Yahiko-chan ate everything already!"
Yahiko pegged Sano in the side of his head with a chopstick, and went back to gorging himself.
"I'll have you know we never got to finish! We went to visit Tae-san." Kaoru crossed her arms over her chest in a huff.
'Tae? Bah... they visit each other all the time.' "So are you helping or not, Sanosuke?"
Sano put on his most placating and apologetic face. It didn't look much different to his normal expression, but it was the thought that counted. "Jeeze, Jou-chan, you know I'd love to come help..."
Kaoru's gaze spoke of death and suffering. "Hmmph! Fine then. I suppose I'll carry it all by myself, then!" Kaoru looked half angry and half hurt.
"Maa, maa," Kenshin said, placing a calming hand on her arm. "This one will be happy to come assist you, Kaoru-dono. I am sure that Sano has his reasons." Most people were fooled by Kenshin's rurouni act. Sano wasn't. Kenshin very clearly just said "Forget him, baby. I'm not an insensitive jerk who abandons his friends; I'll help you. Then afterwards, we can ditch these losers and sneak off somewhere... private."
Well, ok. Maybe the first and last parts were a bit iffy, but the "insensitive jerk" bit was definitely there. Probably.
Thankfully, Kenshin's offer seemed to satisfy Kaoru. She smiled brightly at the rurouni, before turning to glare daggers at Sano for a few moments more. Kenshin remained seated and had a warm, satisfied smile on his face.
Serene, smug bastard.
A moment later, Kaoru rose from her seat and wandered off back to her room to, Sano assumed, do "girl things." Soon after, Yahiko was up and leaving to, Sano assumed, do "Yahiko things."
"Well, I'm off to the Akabeko," he mentioned as he made his way out the door to the veranda. "I promised Tae I'd help today."
Wait a minute... Yahiko was going to be at the Akabeko today? 'It's... it's probably nothing to worry about,' Sano assured himself, not entirely believing it.
"And you, Sano? Are you heading off now as well?" Kenshin inquired as he cleaned away the breakfast dishes.
Sano realized that the sooner he got to the Akabeko, the sooner he could get this day over with. Once again, Sano is completely wrong. "Yeah, you know—things to do..."
The rurouni just smiled at him and nodded once before leaving for the kitchen to take care of the washing up. With a full belly and only a slight sense of apprehension, Sano made his way from the dojo and down the street towards the Akabeko.
However, as he walked along the bustling streets of Tokyo, he couldn't shake the nagging feeling that something awful was going to happen. It was like he could hear the thunder and see the shadows, but every time he turned to look the storm clouds had disappeared from sight. He didn't like the feeling.
But really, how bad could it possibly be?
When Sano had walked into the Akabeko (much to the surprise of Yahiko), he had expected to be fixing the roof, or lugging rice around, or some other physical, menial task.
It was, he later noted, with a look of pure satisfaction and glee that Tae led him into a small room in the upper floor of the building which looked like some kind of office. It was with even greater satisfaction that Tae finally revealed what Sano would be doing.
He didn't even hear her words as she held forth his uniform.
Sano felt sick. Not in the "got a bit of a cough and a runny nose" kind of sick, but in the "I can feel my intestines attempting to evacuate my body" kind of sick. This reaction was entirely prompted by the hideous uniform before him.
The few parts of his brain not engaged in coming up with new adjectives to describe the pure revulsion he felt towards the garment, idly noted that this explained just why Tae seemed so cheerful the day before.
There was nothing in his past experiences to tell him how to react to this. He wanted to scream, run away, hide, burn the vile thing, anything but put it on. It was, to put it simply, the most gruesome, nauseating, monstrous and disgusting thing he had ever seen in his life.
It was an Akabeko uniform—it had a white apron running down the front, and was long enough to reach halfway down his calves, making him look like a cross-dressing housewife. This was not the worst bit.
The kimono had the most hideous black stripes he had ever seen running up its length, which hurt both his eyes and his (admittedly primitive) sense of fashion. This was also not the worst bit.
The very worst thing of all was that everywhere that was not black and stripy was pink. Bright pink. Not a tasteful, manly "magenta" like Kenshin's gi, but bright, "princess" Sakura pink.
Sano felt a small part of his masculinity dissolve just from being in the same room as it.
"No." Really, what else could he say?
"But Sanosuke-han, I went to a lot of trouble to make you a uniform for today!" Tae pleaded, putting on her best kicked-puppy expression.
"I had to get someone in just to make it long enough to fit you!"
"No. It's pink."
"But of course it's pink, Sanosuke-han."
"Then why," he asked, finally dragging his eyes from the atrocious kimono, "isn't yours pink?"
"Well, that's because I changed the colour of the kimono a few years ago. This was the only other spare one I had lying around, and since it was such short notice..."
"And what, exactly, is it you want me to do while I'm wearing that... that... thing?" Sano practically spat the last word out, desperately hoping it would suddenly burst into flames.
"Why, work in the restaurant. You know; taking orders, bringing food out, serving customers."
God no. "No. Way."
"Oh come on."
"No. Absolutely not! I am not doing it!"
"Pleeeeeeease, Sano-han?" Tae now had the look of a three year-old daughter who had asked her parents very nicely if she could pretty please have a pony this year for her birthday because she'd been ever so good and if she couldn't then she'd kick and scream until child welfare came and locked them up...
"What kind of a man do you think I am?"
"But... you promised you'd do this for me..." Tae's expression was slowly changing from pleading to demanding.
"Anything else, Tae—anything!" It was Sano's turn to plead. "Suppose Jou-chan found out, or... or the kitsune..."
"Sanosuke, it's either this or the money. Then again, there's always the alternative involving handcuffs..."
Sano broke down. "I'll do it naked—I don't care! Anything but that!"
He had no choice. There was no way he could pull the money together, and he really didn't feel like spending the rest of his natural life eating the only food he knew for a fact to be worse than Jou-chan's...
"Fine," he said bitterly.
At this, Tae visibly cheered up, and ushered him behind a screen. "Quickly—strip out of those so we can get started!"
Sano, however, would not go without a fight. No way was he succumbing to his pinky fate this easily. "I don't think this is going to work, you know." He announced from behind the screen.
Tae arched an eyebrow. "Oh, and why's that?"
"I'm too big."
This, Tae could well imagine. "Rubbish. It should fit like a glove."
"I'm telling you," he replied as he started making grunting sounds, "I'm too... ugh... big... ugh."
"Oh stop being a baby—just try harder." She could now hear him hopping up and down in a vain attempt to... what was it was trying to do, exactly?
"Can't... get... head... through..."
Tae idly wondered just how he was trying to put it on, or if he even knew how to put a Kimono on in the first place. "Just push a little harder, Sano. It's not going to bite you."
"Wouldn't surprise me," he mumbled under his breath before adding with a thick layer of sarcasm, "I'd hate to tear anything..."
"That's sweet of you to say, Sanosuke-han, but it should be more than flexible enough to put up with a little stretching."
"Damn," Sano swore under his breath. With a quick jerk, he popped his head through the kimono. He couldn't help a slight surge of satisfaction at having overcome the blasted uniform. After all, he'd never put a kimono on before in his life! "I'm through!"
"Very good, Sanosuke-han. That wasn't so bad, now was it?"
Sano had to admit, the fabric really was quite comfortable. "Well now that you mention it, it's... hey! Yes it was! And it's still pink!" He huffed and hoped she wouldn't come up with some clever retort, because he really was all out of insults by this point.
"Yes, yes... are you coming now, Sano?" Tae just wanted to get him downstairs and put him to work.
"Yeah, yeah..." he muttered as he came out from behind the screen. With every passing second, he felt his male confidence shrinking.
"Sano!" Tae exclaimed happily, grinning madly. He looked absolutely adorable. All he needed was a nice pink bow in his hair instead of that tatty old red bandanna! Fortunately for him, Tae was all out of pink bows.
Sano glared daggers at the restaurant owner. "Let's get this over with," he grumbled as he made his way downstairs.
Sano glared at the unconscious boy. "When you wake up, you are so dead."
Tsubame was a little less aggravating. She just kinda stared at him like she couldn't quite believe what she was seeing. Sano glanced back unhappily.
Tae meanwhile had walked back into the restaurant, throwing a quick "I'll be back for you soon, Sanosuke-han!" over her shoulder before she disappeared.
"Sanosuke-san..." Tsubame quietly began.
"... your uniform is very... pink."
"Yeah, I know kiddo. I know."
"Sorry." Tsubame tried smiling weakly for him.
"Thanks," Sano replied, giving her a quick pat on the head as he smiled for the first time since he'd laid eyes on the hideous kimono.
A few moments later, the silence was broken by Tae's exuberant cry of "Sano! Customers!"
Sano gave a small sob, and walked out into the restaurant.
Aah, finally I get to reveal what Tae's got in store for Sano! Believe it or not, it actually does get a whole lot worse as the day wears on.
This chapter is also where the real test for my characterisation of Sano and Tae begins. The majority of the interaction in this story from here on will be between Sano and Tae, with some occasional interaction between Sano and Tsubame.
My primary concerns are basically Sano's language, and Tae's disposition. I'm trying to give Sano that "lovable street thug" feel in the way he talks and deals with people, but I'm not sure it's coming across right. As for Tae, I am making her a bit more vindictive than you're probably used to, but I do plan to temper her vengeance with kindness—like I said, she's not an evil woman... she's just getting a little payback.
The next chapter (and the one after that) are where things really start to get fun. You're all going to hate me once Chapter 3 goes out (smiles to self).
2nd October, 2005
The title for this chapter is taken directly from the first episode of Invader Zim, which I felt was quite appropriate...
To Author-chan and SiriusFan13 for proof-reading this chapter. The kimono was originally going to be described as "hot pink", until Author-chan pointed out that they didn't have "hot pink" back then. Well, apparently, anyway.
Update (23rd February, 2006)
Finally fixed up the somewhat nonsensical "Kami no". I'd promised myself I'd keep my 'Animeisms' to a minimum... Also, many thanks to the reviewer who pointed it out to me—my apologies that I can't remember who it was :P