|Green Tea and Haiku
Author: Umeko PM
PMK RK Crossover. An unlikely friendship between a Shinsengumi captain and a hitokiriRated: Fiction T - English - Drama - Kenshin & Okita S. - Chapters: 13 - Words: 17,822 - Reviews: 100 - Favs: 64 - Follows: 20 - Updated: 03-17-06 - Published: 11-13-05 - Status: Complete - id: 2658652
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: I do NOT own RK or PMK.
This is sorta weird… but you may look at this as a side-story to the New Kyoto Post. It is Okita-Kenshin fluffies. Yes, friendship is a beautiful thing indeed. At this point, Okita and Kenshin do not know each other's real identities yet. One-shot
Kyoto, spring 1864
The day was unbelievably bright. A young man carried his pet piglet as he strolled with his companions. One of his companions was tall, with massive shoulders from fighting with a spear. The other was a short redhead with a ready laugh and a deadly speed on the battlefield. This morning, they were at ease with the world around them, a world that is deceptively calm above the treacherous undercurrents.
At a crossroad, the young man stopped and ran his fingers through his long dark hair. He looked up into the clear blue sky reminiscent of the bright shade of their uniforms. A breeze tugged playfully at his white yukata and hair.
"Hey, Souji! Aren't you going back with us?" his shorter companion guffawed.
"I'm out of candy. Maybe I should go get some for the children…" Okita Souji, the First captain of the Shinsengumi replied to his colleague, Nagakura.
"See ya later then," Harada the spear-wielding captain of the tenth patrol waved as he and Second captain Nagakura continued on their way back to the barracks. Okita watched the pair until they disappeared into the bustling crowd.
Okita let out a sigh as he turned right and continued down a busy market street. Sometimes he just needed to get away from it all… away from the killing, the blood and more blood. At the next crossroad was the Kyoto family restaurant Umeya. It made surprisingly good candies and cakes. The children would love them.
No matter how he tried to escape by playing games with the orphans at the Mibu Temple School, now matter how often he played the fool with his friends. He can't forget the blood he spilled… Saizou… you are so lucky that pigs do not have to wield swords. He tickled the pig's chin and got a squeal of contentment from his pet.
"Ah, good morning, young sir!" The middle-aged widow who ran the restaurant hurried out to greet her regular customer. "What will it be today? Sakura cakes or candied oranges?"
"I'll like some soft orange sweets to go, and a plate of red-bean cakes." Okita sat down at a table. It was too early for the children to be playing games. They'll be at lessons now. He could picture his young friends struggling to wield their writing brushes, their faces scrunched up in childish concentration.
The woman clucked as she almost tripped over Saizou the pig. "Right away, Sou…" Her eyes twinkled with mischief. "I have some scraps to fatten your little piggy for the pot…" Saizou squealed a protest at the suggestion. Okita laughed good-naturedly.
"Sorry Umeko-san, I have no intention of cooking Saizou-chan."
They laughed. Umeko bowed slightly and hustled back to her kitchen to whip up those cakes. Okita's eyes hardened as she went off. It was an irony. The widowed Umeko's maiden name is Katsura. She is blood-kin to the Choushu leader Kogoro, his sister for crying out loud. Her accent was undeniably Choushu under the quaint mix of Osaka, Kansai and Nagasaki slang. She had travelled far with her late husband. He should be checking to see if she has been keeping in touch with her brother. She was one of the most successful businesswomen in Kyoto. She made the best desserts and candies…
In the kitchen, a redhead teen wielded the kitchen knife with the skill of a master chef, slicing the cucumbers into wafer-thin strips. His eyes were a clear violet. Umeko called out to him as she passed.
"Kenni-kun, is that nasty cut still bothering you?" Kenshin instinctively touched his cheek. That cut he received some days ago still refused to heal. "Maybe you should try this new ointment…" Umeko bustled about the kitchen. Kenshin grinned to reassure her. "It's alright, Umeko-san."
Umeko sighed. "Kenni, you really shouldn't be tiring yourself out…" she dropped her voice a few notches. "Considering you need your rest after my bro's work…"
"Umeko-san, I can't stand it cooped up all day in Kohagi Inn, with everyone treating me like a hitokiri…" Okami was nice to him, treating him like a son almost. Still, alone in his room, he was tormented by the faces of those he killed. At least in Umeya, he had the kitchen chores to take his mind off his real work.
"What about the young lady you met? She sees beyond the hitokiri. "
"Umeko!" Kenshin blushed red. Umeko laughed. Kenshin was still a child. What was her fool of a brother thinking asking a half-grown lad to kill for his ideals?
"Green tea for the young man at table 5," Umeko thrust a tea tray at Kenshin. Few who saw the true identity of Battousai lived to talk about it. Hence, Umeko had no qualms about letting Kenshin work openly at her restaurant. Kenshin took the tea and walked out into the restaurant. The young man at the table looked familiar. That piglet at his feet, that long hair… He turned and their eyes met.
"Sou?" Okita recognized that youthful face with the red hair. That plaster was still stuck on his left cheek.
"What are you doing here?"
"I work here!" Kenshin lied. He had met Sou one day while playing with the orphans. Okita motioned Kenshin to sit at the table. Umeko emerged with the bean cakes.
"Ah, Kenni-kun, nice to see you have a friend your age…" Umeko placed the cakes on the table before the duo. "You may chat with Sou, until I need your help in the kitchen." With that, she went to attend to her other customers. The older youth smiled as he watched the young redhead pour out the green tea.
"Sou, what do you work as?" Kenshin asked. "I thought you were a teacher, but since you aren't teaching at the school…"
"I don't want to discuss my job," Okita stiffened. He had come here to forget about his work. Kenshin nodded in understanding. Saizou nipped Kenshin's ankle. Howling from the pain, Kenshin fell out of the door. "Gomen-nasai!" Okita exclaimed as he snatched Saizou up before more damage could be inflicted. Tomoe glided past the restaurant on her way to market. Okita smiled as he noticed 'Kenni' looking at the vision of tragic beauty that was Tomoe.
"If the flower and water stay still, they'll be separated…" Okita mused. Kenni's violet eyes looked at him in puzzlement. "You remind me of my shishou speaking that way. Can't you just say it in plain words?"
"If you like her, tell her!" Okita giggled as Kenshin blushed awkwardly. "Sou, you must be kidding! What will she see in a short shrimp like me?"
"Mou, maybe you should try writing poetry. Know any good haiku?"
"Only what my shishou blabbers when he is enjoying his sake."
"You like sake?"
"No." Kenshin reflected that all sake tasted of blood to him now. "Neither do I," Okita assisted Kenshin back into the restaurant. Umeko grinned at the surreal exchange between the dreaded hitokiri Battousai and the Shinsengumi First Captain. Some might say it was a friendship that should never have been. To Umeko, it was a rare meeting of two young dreamers, kindred spirits who lived their lives by that they believed in and have been hurt by the swords that they were forced to wield at too young an age. For now, even if they were to meet tomorrow as enemies, it was good for both their wounded souls to forget the bloodshed in their lives.
"In spring time the sakura, for its fleeting beauty…" Kenshin recalled a haiku from his master and happier days as the petals danced in the wind.
"A plum blossom is still a plum blossom…" Okita quoted from a certain vice-chief's personal haiku collection. A stray petal landed on his tea. It was great to be at peace with the world of nature and your fellow men.
"Fleeting are the flowers, but will the flowers regret blooming?" Umeko murmured as she patted the sleepy piglet at Okita's feet. She left both youths wondering at her words. The pair chatted well into the day with talk on the weather, swords and poetry. No politics or mention of the unrest.
Finally, Okita reluctantly stood up. It would be time for his patrol and he must go back to the barracks to ready his men. "I guess we'll continue another time, Kenni."
"See you then, Sou," Playing the part of a waiter, Kenshin cleared up the tea cups and plates. Okita carried Saizou and strolled out. He stopped at the door. "Kenshin, if you must go out at night, please be careful. There is a deadly killer on the loose." Kenshin was bent over the table, engrossed in cleaning it.
"You mean the hitokiri Battousai?" Himura's eyes turned a dangerous gold. "Hai." Okita replied.
"Sou, you ought to be careful yourself. How good a swordsman is this killer you speak of?"
"He is phenomenal. His speed, his attacks… if possible, I wish to cross swords with him…"
"I see." The gulf opened up between both friends. They had sparred in mock battles before for the entertainment of children. All show, thunder and no serious strikes. Kenshin knew Sou was not speaking lightly of duelling with Battousai. For kami's sake, don't go hunting for your death. Sou! He turned, the words on the tip of his tongue.
Sou was gone. Kenshin went back into the kitchen. There was a black envelope under his door this morning again. Someone to kill again tonight. Fleeting are the flowers, will the flowers regret blooming? Fleeting is friendship in these days, will you regret being friends with me, Sou? Will you regret being friends with Hitokiri Battousai?
Back in his quarters, Okita regretted his last words to Kenni as he changed into his uniform. He had spoken as the captain of the First Patrol. He had allowed the mask of a friendly big brother to slip, and reveal the demon within. Maybe tonight, their paths will cross with Battousai's. Crimson blood spilling in the moonlit Kyoto streets, both Miburou and Choushu. Kenni, will you regret befriending a Miburou?
His men will be waiting… Okita Souji threw on the brilliant blue and white haori of the Shinsengumi and stepped out into the night with his men.
"If the flower and the water stay still, they will be separated by the darkness." This is an actual haiku written by Okita near his deathbed.
"A plum blossom, even one, is still a plum blossom." This haiku was written by Shinsengumi Vice-chief Hijikata.
The other snatches of poetry are mostly from this poor authoress. I like the blooming flowers line. It has 2 meanings, it refers both to the Kenshin-Tomoe romance and the Sou-Kenni friendship. And no, there are no Shonenai hints. It is just referring to a deep platonic friendship between two very similar young men. The notion of Okita and Kenshin being friends is so irresistible!