|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 4 – Welcome To My Parlor
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?
This day just kept getting better and better...
"I'll go clear the table, and you help him bring it inside." With that, Tokio retreated inside the house, leaving the rooster to the mercy of the wolf.
"This is an unpleasant surprise, isn't it? Did you lose a bet with Battousai, and have to wear his clothes for a day?" Saito asked, a snide grin plastering itself over his face.
"Although, I doubt even the Battousai would wear something that ridiculous. He's always been a bit strange in the head, but I'd never consider him a cross-dre..."
"Shove it, Saito," Sano snapped, irritably. The last thing he wanted right now was to deal with the wolf and his taunts.
"My, my... aren't we touchy today? Maybe I was wrong... maybe you're wearing the Tanuki's clothes as well as her personality..."
"Are you going to help me with this or not?"
"I'd really prefer not to... I have no idea where you've been."
"Aarrgghh! Then just let me in already so I can put this damn thing down!"
"Oh, I don't think so. Someone might see you walk into my home, and I'd hate to have them get the wrong impression."
Sano now resorted to glaring at the wolf. "I hate you; so very much."
"The feeling's mutual, rooster-head."
"Hajime! What's going on out there?"
For a split second, something seemed to cross Saito's face, before he stepped back from the opening to give Sano room to enter.
Sano made a mock bow. "Why, how courteous of you..."
"Any time, miss," Saito replied, his grin widening.
"...you arrogant, oily haired moron," Sano whispered under his breath.
"I heard that."
Instead, it was sparsely, but tastefully decorated. It could have passed as an absolutely average Japanese home... if it weren't for the utterly evil owner, and his perplexingly angelic wife.
Sano wandered down the hall until he spotted the dining room, and entered. He carefully sat the crate with the sukiyaki wok in it onto the floor (without any help from the sniggering wolf whatsoever) just as Tokio reappeared.
She looked disapprovingly at her husband. "Didn't you help him with that, Hajime?"
Saito just smiled narcissistically. "I held the door open."
Sano couldn't help but admire the woman for the look of pure malice she was giving the wolf. Saito returned the glare, and the two held it for almost half a minute before Saito's gaze flicked to the side for one brief instant.
Tokio smiled in satisfaction, and turned to help Sano unload the wok. "Well then, if you won't help him, then I guess I'll have to."
"Fine by me."
Sano may have been slow, but he wasn't stupid. Someone had just won themselves a night sleeping on a tatami mat...
A few moments later, the meal was laid out on the table, and Sano got ready to leave. "Well, I'd better get back to the Akabeko. Tae'll have my head if I take too long."
"Oh no, you must stay for a little while!"
"Huh? No, I couldn't do that..."
"You're absolutely right there, rooster."
"Oh ignore him, he's just having one of his cranky days. There's easily enough for three here, and if Tae-san gives you any trouble, I'll sort things out."
"I wouldn't stay if I were you, rooster... bad things could happen."
Amazingly, the wolf shut up. Sano really wasn't comfortable with the looks Saito was giving him, but the way this delicate, demure woman was ordering around the arrogant Wolf of Mibu fascinated him. Plus, it looked like the wolf was even less comfortable with him staying.
"Well, I suppose I could stay for a little while."
"Oh please... I need a cigarette."
"Hajime... what have I told you about smoking in the house?"
"Do it any time I please since it's my house?"
"You know it leaves that awful smell in the rooms."
"I happen to rather like it, myself."
"And how embarrassing it is to have you smoking when we have guests?"
"I wouldn't really consider him a guest..."
"And how you'll be cleaning the house top-to-bottom if you don't put that out right now?"
Saito glared at his wife for a few moments before grinding the butt into a nearby ashtray. He then busied himself with lunch in an attempt to ignore his wife.
"So, how do you and Hajime know each other?"
"Well, I don't know what Saito's told you about..."
"Rooster-head made a nuisance of himself back when I had to go find the Battousai. If I remember correctly, he made rather an... impression at the time."
"Hey! I was..."
"And again in Kyoto, where he proved himself to be a completely useless, annoying ahou."
"HEY! I blew up that ship thing!"
"'Ship thing'? That was pure luck, ahou. Besides, you weren't even the one responsible for the explosives... you didn't even have any idea how much damage they would do."
"Like you could have done any better. 'Oh look at me, I'm going to attack a ship with my sword!' What were you going to do? Viciously poke at it until Shishio gave up? At least I actually did some damage."
"Bah. The only reason you got within half a mile of Shishio was because the Battousai and I had to distract him for you."
"Distract? I seem to remember someone standing there trying to look all 'dangerous' while Shishio's goons tried to fill me with lead!"
"I'll take that as a compliment."
"Pansy? Did you run out of insults that quickly? I'm rather surprised, even if this is you..."
"Yeah, well Shishio totally kicked your arse!"
"I seem to remember getting three strikes in. And how many did you land? Oh that's right—one attempted punch, and you were lying bleeding against a wall with your hand crushed. Very effective, rooster-head. I'm sure your three second delay of Shishio really made a valuable contribution in the end."
"You and Hajime must be very close friends," Tokio quietly observed.
Sano and Saito both had the same opinion of this statement. "WHAT!"
"Well, Hajime only argues like this with his close friends."
"What rubbish, woma—"
"Uhh... well, what does he do to people he doesn't like?"
"Well, he usually just scares them off. Or if that fails, impaling usually works."
Sano paled a few shades, and decided he best leave whilst Saito's wife had him on his leash. "A-anyway, I should probably get going. Work to do, and all that stuff."
"Are you sure? You're welcome to stay."
"No he's not."
"No—I really should be getting back."
"Well, it was so nice to meet you," Tokio said as she smiled warmly at him. "Feel free to drop by whenever you like."
"If you come anywhere near this house again, I'm going to hunt you down and kill you in the street."
"Oh don't listen to him—he's only kidding."
"Of course, dear. It'll be a back-alley, and I'll leave the body so mutilated that when the real police find it, they won't be able to work out if it was a person or not..."
"Nonsense. He wouldn't dare do that, because then I would be disappointed in him," Tokio said, placing a great deal of emphasis on the word 'disappointed', and sending a glare in his direction.
Sano stood deathly still, and wondered if he could get out of the room without being seen.
"Anyway, we've kept you long enough. Hajime will show you to the door. Won't you, Hajime?"
The wolf paused for a moment. "It's only a door. I'm sure he can find it himself."
"Won't you, Hajime?"
"... yes, dear," the wolf replied in apparent defeat.
With that, Saito stood in one swift motion, and left the room without so much as glancing at his once more smiling wife. Sano took one last glimpse at the goddess, smiled somewhat shyly, and walked after Saito. A few moments later, he had brushed past the furiously scowling man, and was standing outside.
"Well, Saito, it's been fun; but I gotta go," Sano smirked, throwing caution (and his bodily safety) to the wind.
Saito was unimpressed. "You breathe one word of this to anyone, and you will wake to find yourself missing your extremities one morning."
Sano did just that.
None the less, a few minutes of people pointing and sniggering soon reminded him why he was so loathe to come out in the first place, and quickly made his way back to the Akabeko before anyone else he knew recognised him.
Sneaking in the back way, and throwing a quick wave to the kitchen staff, he crept around the back rooms, hoping to find somewhere out of the way to hide from Tae.
"Sanosuke-han, you're back!"
Too late. "Hey, uh... I was just coming to find you..."
"Nice try. You're seven minutes overdue," Tae smirked, holding out a western-style pocket watch. It wouldn't have surprised Sano if she had bought it especially for the occasion.
"Cut me some slack! She wanted me to stay!"
"Didn't you say no?"
"Of course I did! But then she asked again... like, really nicely, and uh..." Sano couldn't quite work out how to diplomatically word the phrase, "my hormones kinda took over."
Tae smiled. "Well, I suppose I should believe you. She has that effect on men, I suppose. Such nice people, the Fugita family, don't you think?"
'"Fugita family"? But that would mean that Tae had no idea who Saito really was...'
He decided to play along. "Yeah, I guess so. Husband seems a bit snarky, if you ask me..."
"Goro-kun? Snarky? But he's such a nice, pleasant man!"
Sano wondered how Tae would react if he told her that the 'nice, pleasant man' had once skewered Kenshin... and chose not to find out. "Anyway, I take it you've got something else unpleasant for me to do?" Sano asked with an air of despair in his voice.
"Not really, you've worked hard this morning, so I think you've earned a lunch break." With that, she handed him a bentou box, and headed back into the restaurant.
Sano looked down at the box in his hands. 'Lunch break?' he thought incredulously. Up until now, he had been under the distinct impression that Tae was trying to punish him... make him break down and cry, even.
Then again, he'd said it himself that morning: Tae was a good-natured woman at heart. This was undeniably revenge for all the bills he'd passed on, but that didn't mean she wanted him to suffer unduly.
Sano stared after her for a few minutes before finally digging into his lunch.
Sano chuckled a bit at that. He needed a good laugh. Dropping the box back in the kitchen, he gave the cooks a quick "thanks" before heading back towards the front of the restaurant.
Cautiously, he peeked his head out of the doorway, checking for anyone he knew. Apparently, the peanut gallery had dispersed sometime while he was out and about, probably because the entertainment had mysteriously disappeared. He supposed that since things couldn't get any worse, they were slowly starting to get better.
Satisfied that no one he knew was around, he stepped into the restaurant...
...and immediately dived for cover as if someone had thrown a grenade at him. He stood on shaking legs as he pressed his back to the wall, hiding himself from the restaurant. He mentally cursed himself for using the "can't get any worse" axiom, and tried to bring his breathing under control.
Now, if he was lucky, he had been seeing things. It wasn't her. It was just some other random woman that looked exactly like her. He peered around the corner.
Nope. No luck, after all.
It was her.
Megumi had come for a visit.
'Ok,' he said to himself, now things can't get any worse.' What a tragic mistake that was.
"Megumi-san! It's so good to see you," he heard Tae exclaim from the restaurant as she spotted the young doctor. "Do sit down—it's been ages since we've had a chat. Service to table five!"
The blood drained from Sano's face. He was on table five.
"He's an idiot; a complete and utter moron who wouldn't know intelligent thought from a bowl of noodles."
"Yes, yes... have it your way. Speaking of which, when are you going to invite Battousai-san and his wife over for dinner?"
"One: she's not his wife—she's his landlady."
"Oh rubbish. He's been living there half a year now. According to Tae-chan, they're just running around each other... it's only a matter of time before one of them makes a move..."
"Two: it will be a cold day in hell before he sets foot in this house."
"I imagine the engawa gets very cold at night if you haven't got any blankets..."
"... I'm not inviting him, or his little circus troupe."
"... or clothes."
Silence descended over the couple.
"Next weekend, Hajime?"
"I'll get you for this, woman."
"No you won't—I'm your wife."
Four months to the day. Wow. Talk about slack. In my defence, I had a fairly hectic holidays, and I really needed the rest. None the less, to those of you that stuck around to read this chapter, my thanks.
As for this chapter, it was really quite hard to write. I had a lot of trouble fleshing out the scene with Sano, Saito and Tokio. I hope I made it believable, without being too corny.
Also, parts of this chapter were written on a plane, so any spelling mistakes should be attributed to my already poor handwriting made worse by the turbulence.
And for everyone who pointed it out, yes it was Saito, and yes it was blindingly obvious... next time you won't get ANY clues as to who it is...
...I'll just tell you outright :P Yes, this chapter finally sees Megumi show up. What, you didn't seriously expect me to let Sano off without making him face the Kitsune, did you? Things should get crazier in the next chapter, as Sano resorts to desperate measures.
I should also point out that I made a few changes to previous chapters, fixing spelling, grammar, etc. I did make one other alteration to chapter 3: I added a bit of dialogue from Tae, telling Sano which tables he would be working at. Normally, my policy is to always keep one chapter in "buffer" so I can introduce plot points surreptitiously if I need them. But since I took so long to get chapter 3 out, I posted it before started chapter 4. Thus, the bit of sneakiness on my part. I don't think it detracts from the horror of having Megumi there... it just ties the two chapters together a little more neatly.
I'm also warning you that the next three chapters are the least... "fleshed-out" of the story. I know what I want to do to poor Sano, but the details aren't really fixed yet. Hopefully, Chapter 5 won't take four months to write.
23rd February, 2006
This chapter's title is, of course, from an old rhyme/tale. I can't for the life of me remember what it's called, or how it goes. I just remember the phrase: "'Welcome to my parlor', said the spider to the fly." Seemed appropriate.
...once again go to Author-chan for proof-reading this for me.