A/N : I just realized that I never responded to the guest reviews from the prologue, so that's at the end. Please read Gintama fanfiction from a considerable distance in a well-lit room (or however it goes, because I'm too lazy to look for an episode with the exact quote).
Chapter 2 : First Dates are Like First Impressions. If the Other Guy Looks Confident and Lacks the Awkwardness We All Hold Dear to Our Hearts, That Guy's Gonna Turn Out to be a Grade A Asshole.
Kagura had no options; she could find a way to Kabukicho, but then what? She'd still be stuck in the past, right?
And there was no telling if Gintoki would be there by now. Judging by the mini sadist, she was about ten years in the past, give or take, and if she recalled correctly there was some war being fought, and Gintoki was in it.
Also, there was no guarantee Gengai would help her out by building a new time machine. He didn't know her in the past. And didn't he say something about returning to her own time on her own?
So that's how Kagura found herself kneeling awkwardly at a table that was only made for four. They had introduced themselves by now, three of them being the tax robbers, and one of them being a woman Kagura hadn't met, but heard of from Gintoki; she didn't know much, other than she was dead in the future, because that's all that Gintoki would tell her and Shinpachi about the topic when they had found his stash of photos from behind the "Sugar Content" board over his desk.
The other four seaters would sneak glances at her when they thought she didn't notice, but she most definitely did notice. Mitsuba and Kondo only seemed to be curious, but Hijikata and Sougo were suspicious. Hell, at least it was a free dinner, so Kagura pretended not to notice and continued scarfing down her food.
Mitsuba was delighted to see someone not making a fuss over her putting so much tabasco sauce on her food. She decided to try and make conversation. "So… Gurako-san was it? I had trouble hearing your name earlier."
Kagura looked up at Mitsuba, her cheeks puffed out with all of the food she stuffed in there; she was about to correct her, but remembered her alibi and nodded before returning to her meal.
"Are you sure you wouldn't like a change of clothes?" she asked kindly. "Your attire is still rather wet."
"I'm fine," Kagura replied uncaringly, but it sounded more like, "Umf onn."
The Gorilla across from her laughed that loud, obnoxious laugh of his. "I guess you're a heavy eater, huh?"
To no response, the other four began to eat at their own pace. After a few moments of silence, Mitsuba asked, "So, Gurako-san… What were you doing out so late?"
"Nothing in particular," Kagura answered truthfully between bites. "I took a ride in a DeLorean and found myself here to get two youngsters together, uh-huh."
Mitsuba giggled. "My, what a unique sense of humor." Her eyes drifted to Kagura's hair. "I'm sorry again about Sou-chan ruining your hair ornament…"
"I have lots more at home, uh-huh," she assured her.
"Where is your home?"
Kagura actually put thought into this. "Kabukicho."
"K-Kabukicho?" asked a surprised Kondo.
"Oh my, that's so far away! How did you manage to get all the way here?"
"I took the midnight train going anywhere, uh-huh," Kagura said confidently.
"What happened to the DeLorean?" asked straight man Hijikata, but was ignored like all straight men are. "Do you even know where the Hell you are right now?"
Kagura wiped her mouth with the back of her wrist and sighed happily, her dinner completely obliterated. She stood up and went to leave. "Thanks for the meal, uh-huh."
"You don't mean to go out at this time, do you..?" Mitsuba asked worriedly. She turned to the shoji that Kagura had opened. "It's still raining. You have an umbrella, but it's so dark out… You can barely see a thing."
"I can manage, uh-huh." Kagura was about to leave, but she was interrupted.
"I was worried sick when Sou-chan didn't come back on his own," Mitsuba confided. "Bushuu is that kind of place; I wouldn't have been surprised if something did happen."
"I'm capable of protecting myself, uh-huh," Kagura assured her. "I've dealt with the yakuza and my god father before, so some country boys playing with matsui sticks should be no problem, yes?"
Kondo noticed the bracelet on Kagura's wrist. "Gurako-san, maybe you'd like to spend just the night here," he suggested. "If you're really not familiar with the place, it's hard to navigate in the dark."
"Kondo-san, is that really okay?" Hijikata rejected fervently. "I picked this girl up in seclusion; Hell, Sougo may jump on anyone like a mosquito on the verge of death, but he was still attacking her and she didn't look like she was going to hold back."
"She found my secret hideout!" Sougo bitterly tried to justify his reason for attacking Kagura.
"Brat! That's no reason for you to pull on my hair, yes?!"
"It wasn't such a secret… Everyone knows where it is," mentioned Hijikata.
"We'd feel better if you waited until it was bright out to leave," agreed Mitsuba as she took Kagura's hand in her own. She turned to Hijikata and smiled sweetly. "What's the worst she can do, right?"
Hijikata looked away and scratched his head.
Kagura then thought back to her initial thoughts of following the Shinsengumi back to Mitsuba's place, and realized she had nothing past actually leaving the establishment, so that would probably mean she'd live like a hobo until she was magically teleported back to her own time.
Mitsuba sensed Kagura's reluctancy. "I'd be delighted if you could stay over, Gurako-san," she said with a kind smile.
Sougo frowned and began tugging on his sister's sleeve. "What good can she staying do? These guys already come over every day for dinner. We don't need another freeloader, right aneue?" It was almost as if he was begging her to think it over.
Kagura smirked. "Freeloader? Heh, what do you think you are, you brat?" she shot back. "I've been a freeloader my whole life, and I have no plans at stopping here."
Sougo puffed his cheeks with irritation and grumbled something she couldn't hear.
Mistuba and Kondo smiled. "We don't have a big house, but we'll try to make it as comfortable for you as possible!"
Gintoki looked from side to side. He had only blinked, and suddenly his surroundings have changed.
It was dusk; the sanguine sky was playing tricks on Gintoki's vision. The field of wheat he was standing in hurt to look at with all of the red glare reflecting off of it.
Gintoki bent down. '... This isn't wheat,' he realized and stood back up. 'Just a field of dying grass.'
So was his younger self around somewhere? He looked behind him and saw another person sitting in the grass, almost buried by it, and breathing heavily.
'Zura?' wondered Gintoki. 'No, Zura never had a ponytail that high… Hell, do I even know anyone with a ponytail like that?' He looked at his surroundings one more time before deducting that no one else was around. Well, whoever the Hell this was would probably give him a hint to where he was in his timeline; there weren't too many people that Gintoki familiarized with.
Gintoki started walking towards the figure until it flinched. Within the next second, the alarmed person had shot up and put his wooden sword up. His eyes were livid.
Gintoki halted. He didn't recognize this boy; he assumed it was a boy and not a man due to his height.
The boys breaths didn't cease; they were so heavy that his shoulders rocked up and down. There were a few cuts on his face and exposed skin.
"Who are you?!" the boy demanded. His voice was raspy and somewhat strained. Also familiar. It was fair to say that his voice did not match his body though; he sounded like a middle-aged chain smoker. Oh well. Maybe he was just a baby-faced midget.
Gintoki placed a hand on his own sword's hilt. Unexpectedly, the boy lunged at him. Gintoki took a step back and almost tripped. There was a brief look of shock on his face, before he wielded his sword and took up a stance. Gintoki's eyes narrowed.
The boy glowered; he really hated when people were able to dodge so easily. "Where are you from?" he demanded. "I didn't see you earlier, so what? Are you from someplace else?"
Gintoki didn't answer. Really, what would he answer with? He didn't know what the Hell this boy was talking about.
"I asked you a question, damn it!"
"Well what kind of person responds kindly to the boy who attacks him without even saying a word, huh? You bastard."
"..." The boy seemed to contemplate lowering his guard, but still stood strong. His eyes drifted to the wording etched into the sword. "'Lake Toya?'" With that examination, the boy relaxed his muscles, but still didn't sheath his sword.
Gintoki, sensing that the danger was gone, reattached his own sword back to his belt.
"Get the Hell out, outsider," warned the boy as he too put his training sword away. "You're clearly not from a dojo, and loners like us always get picked off."
"My stick isn't rotting! How old do you think I am, huh?!"
The boy ignored his remark and began to walk away with his semi-hunched, leaving Gintoki to watch him while remaining clueless as all Hell.
Gintoki scrunched his eyebrows, irritation unfaltering. "Tch… Damn kid. What the hell was that all about? Really..." Though this boy made him rather curious; that and he was the only sign of life within the vicinity, and therefore was the only hint to Gintoki's whereabouts. 'That old man... ' he thought, referring to Gengai. 'That junk closet better have not sent me to the unknown.'
Sougo couldn't believe his whereabouts, so he just stared front, aloof. Blinked a few times. Went to see if anything changed. Not at all.
"... What the Hell?"
That little child did not just embed his body into the stone ground. Hell no.
With that same deadpan look, Sougo looked up at Kamui.
Kamui looked down at him menacingly with an odd smile. "I'll kill you."
"..." Sougo had no response to that, so he just stared at Kamui, aloof. Blinked a few times. Went to see if anything changed. Not at all.
Knowing very well that superhuman strength was fiction, he decided to go all Conan on this case. The two children were carrying around umbrellas. Another glance proved that they had really pale skin. And the super strength. They had to be yatos. There was no other explanation. Well, damn. He knew that they were a warrior race, but he didn't expect mere children to hold such a prowess.
Kamui grabbed Sougo by his hair and pulled him out. Sougo dusted himself off like nothing happened.
The girl crept from out of the doorway and pointed a finger at him. "You're alive."
"No shit, little girl."
She dashed at Sougo and was about to have at him, if it wasn't for her mother interrupting.
"Kagura!" Although her voice was for the most part soft-spoken, it was enough to make the little girl stop in her tracks.
'Kagura...' Sougo looked at the girl. His pupils dilated. 'Oh Hell no.'
Kagura was right in front of Sougo and looked up with him, stretching her head back so much that it looked like it might pop off of her neck.
"Kamui… Take your sister away for now," their mother demanded.
"Mother, you don't even know this man," Kamui pointed out.
"Nor do I know what you've been doing," she shot back. "Come back in a few minutes, alright?"
Kamui looked somewhat irritated but did as he was told, taking hold of the cloth on Kagura's shoulder and hauling her out. The whole time, Kagura stared back at Sougo with an expression that indicated she couldn't decipher how the man was still standing. When the two left the door, the woman in bed tried to stand up.
"... Don't bother," interrupted Sougo as he welcomed himself into the small closet of a room and sat down, legs crossed.
The woman didn't respond, but at the very least sat up if she couldn't stand. "..." She didn't know how to start the conversation.
"Your kid set me up to take the blame for some looting," Sougo began. He pointed a thumb at the hallway, where the bunny umbrella was.
She sighed. "I'm… sorry for whatever Kagura's done."
Sougo spoke quickly. "Before you go on, I'd like to clarify something." He didn't wait for an answer. "Her name is Kagura, and your husband's name is Umibozu?"
The woman nodded.
"Umibozu the alien hunter?"
Suddenly, the woman looked somewhat cautious, but nodded again.
'There are two possibilities for this...' Sougo thought to himself. 'Either that alien hunter sleeps around, has multiple families, and has a thing for the name 'Kagura,' or...'
"... If you'd please accept my apology," the woman interrupted, "I'll use the best of my ability to make it up to you. I don't know what's gotten into them lately."
Sougo was snapped out of his thoughts. "So you didn't send them out to do that?"
"Of course not," the woman said; she almost sounded disappointed. "You see… recently, my children have been acting strange," she explained.
"That's not my problem." Sougo was still miffed about a little girl having one over him, although he'd never admit it.
"It shouldn't be," she agreed, a sincere look of apology on her face. "Although if I could stop them I would, but you see… I have these spells where sometimes I'm fine, but at other times I have to be bedridden. I'm afraid I can't take any action in this state. I can tell them to stop what they're doing, but I have no way of actually…" the woman's voice trailed off.
Sougo dug out his badge from his jacket. "I'm no bad guy here, but I'm no chivalrous gentleman; I'll drag those brats down to the station unless I find a reason not to."
The woman blinked, confused, then looked at the badge. "Edo..? Policeman?" She looked confused for a brief moment. "Earth..?" She sounded slightly alarmed. "You're really from Earth?"
"Where else would I be from?" challenged Sougo.
"I don't know..." the woman pursed her lips. "But what station are you talking about? It's not like there's any police stations around here. Any ones in use anyway…"
The woman sensed Sougo's dubiety. "... You do know you're not on planet Earth right now, don't you?"
Sougo barely contained his surprise. "What do you mean?"
"If I told you where you were, you probably wouldn't be familiar with the place anyway; this is a completely different planet."
Sougo was about to object, but then he realized that his surroundings haven't resembled any place he'd been to in his whole life. It could easily be a different city as opposed to a planet, but something about the sky seemed different. Almost duller, like it got less sunlight than most places.
"There really is no police here," the woman explained. "If there was, do you think that this city would be in such disarray? Therefore, you have no actual authority. Not that I don't respect your rank, but I'm afraid if you touch my children, I'll accuse you of kidnapping." The woman's voice didn't sound any more threatening despite the remark, but her warning gaze at Sougo was message enough.
Sougo was just a bit surprised at the woman's sudden offensive. "No police, huh?"
The woman looked away. "If there were police, or any kind of justice system, do you really think this place would be so gangly?" The woman held a hand to her forehead. "My children are turning into thieves… just to bring home dinner..." She shook her head. "That shouldn't even be necessary. Umibozu always sends money."
Sougo, deciding that the woman would go on a tangent anyway, led the conversation into the direction which would get him answers related to the identity of the little girl. "So Umibozu isn't here often?"
The woman sighed. "He used to only leave for about a week, come back… But ever since a few months ago, he hasn't been back since."
The woman shook her head. "Something happened, but… My children won't tell me what. In fact, Kamui has gradually gotten more distant… The only face I've seen him with since is this unearthly smile. And Kagura… she's become so expressionless." She seemed to notice her ramblings. "I apologize for going on about my own problems. Umibozu should be coming back soon; he sent a letter. If you'd like, I can tell him to send you to Earth," she offered, "but how did you end up here anyway?"
"I wouldn't know," Sougo answered plainly. "Some jackass must have knocked me out and thought this would be a hilarious prank. I'd like to see how much that guy'll laugh when I come back and rearrange his innards."
The woman looked uncomfortable but said nothing by it.
"So that's how it is; that'll be your token of apology," replied Sougo. "Get me home and I'll leave you to tend to your children who'll probably fall into the hands of some sympathetic gang member."
He decided not to be so difficult since he really had no clue about his surroundings. Also, the little girl intrigued him. There was no possible way that could have been the yorozuya girl, but she shared the same name, the same face, and almost the same voice. If this was some kind of vivid dream, Sougo would curse the gods for giving him such a nightmare, and if it wasn't, he could claim to cracking time travel and make a fortune; of course, that was only if this little girl was the same little girl he knew.
"Then I have one more request, Mr. Policeman," the woman proposed; it was as if she gave Sougo credibility just for being a cop, even though badges could easily be forged. "During your stay here, watch over my children and make sure they don't do anything they shouldn't."
Sougo could have argued, but this could be his excuse to constantly trail the little girl without being mistaken for a creep. He stood up. "Fine. I'll go make sure they're not up to no good right now."
"And one more thing… You're aware of their strength, yes?"
Sougo looked at the woman over his shoulder. "You're yatos."
"Then I don't need to explain myself," the woman said as she slipped back under the covers. "If you know enough about yatos, you know that they can't survive long in sunlight; it's been raining for a while now, but please bring that umbrella to her just in case." The woman turned over.
Sougo was somewhat irritated that she was this comfortable around a complete stranger. He just broke into this woman's house and she was already telling him to watch her kids. 'I suppose that's desperation then...' Instead he fulfilled her request, swooping down to get the child's umbrella, and then left through the door, off to find wherever those brats ran off to.
Mitsuba's dwelling was rather small; it was more apartment sized if anything, yet it had a deck like any typical countryside house. Kagura was staying in Sougo's room, as he was to sleep with his sister for just this night.
The room was slightly smaller than the average size of any normal room, but it was a comfortable size for Kagura, considering that she couldn't remember the last time she didn't need to sleep in a closet.
She didn't feel tired at all yet, so she opened the shoji, at first just to get air into the room, but then decided to sit down at the porch's ledge and look at the sky.
"I guess it's true what they say. There are more stars where there are less city lights, yes?" she inquired to herself.
The shoji to the room next to hers opened and Kondo and Hijikata stepped out. "Are you sure you don't want us to stay here, just for tonight? You still don't know this girl."
Mitsuba's voice came from inside the room; Kagura could see her silhouette through the shouji. "Yes, I'm sure we'll be perfectly fine," she assured him. "Gurako-san may not be as formal as most, but she doesn't seem to have any ill intent."
Kondo waved and Hijikata nodded before sliding the door shut. They turned and saw Kagura watching them. Hijikata walked a bit more before saying, "Good, you're already out. We're going to have a talk."
Kondo didn't look worried, more so out of the loop. "Toushi?"
Without warning, Hijikata began to unsheathe and then jabbed in Kagura's direction.
Kagura didn't expect the surprise attack and so turned her shoulder to miss the blade's direction. She was about to counter when she realized that the blade was wooden; nothing but a training sword. The hilt of the sword stopped right before where Kagura's face had been. Even if she hadn't moved, she wouldn't have been hit anyway.
Hijikata sheathed his blade. "So it appears you really aren't defenseless, hm?"
"But I told you that earlier, yes?!" Kagura spat back irritably. 'I just mind my own business and this tsundere comes at me.'
Hijikata looked down at her with a glare. "Listen up; I don't think you're up to anything, so you better not change your mind on that. You put a finger on them and I won't hold back, even if you are a woman."
"Right back at you, girl with the sleek black hair," Kagura said with a vein popping out of her forehead.
Hijikata clenched his teeth, irritated, but simply made a sound of annoyance and walked away.
"Y-You'll have to forgive Toushi…" Kondo said awkwardly as he sat next to Kagura. "You see, he's very protective."
"Protective of what?" inquired Kagura as she scooted away a little, the thought of being so close to the Gorilla disgusting her.
Kondo ignored the question and looked at her bracelet. "Gurako-san, tell me… Do you know who Tom Cruise is?"
"Sure do," Kagura responded as she looked up at the sky and kicked her dangling feet, "but I prefer Brad Pitt, uh-huh."
Kondo leaned back a little and looked up as well. "Is that so?" He paused. "You see, before Toushi joined my dojo, he was more of a lone wolf; he has the vendetta of many dojos around here, and then some. He was a dojo buster," he explained. "It didn't help that this place was full of thugs and ruffians in the first place; Bushuu may be out of the way of the war, but it's by no means a safe place."
Kagura noted that the war was happening during this time after all. "So after the Mayora joined your dojo, everyone started coming after you all, yes?"
Kondo turned away for a brief second. "'Mayora?' Toushi, even strangers are put off by your weird habits!" he muttered to himself. He cleared his throat and turned back to Kagura. "Not everybody," he corrected. "In fact, our dojo's growing prowess was partly due to Toshi, which attracted more members. But yes, for the most part anyone within our affiliation gets targeted, which is why Toushi is so protective over Mitsuba-san, since she can't fend for herself."
"Hm?" Kagura hummed, raising an eyebrow. If Kagura didn't know any better, she would have thought that Hijikata and Mitsuba had some pretty strong unresolved sexual tension, considering how distant Hijikata seemed from women in the present.
"The only reason he isn't suspicious of you being up to no good is because you seem lost here, therefore have no specific goal around these parts, and it seems Mitsuba-dono has taken a liking to you." Kondo stood up and looked back at her. "It's only for a day, but if you don't mind, please return the favor of Mistuba-dono letting you stay here."
"How? I have as much money as you get when children throw coins into your cage for you to do tricks, you Gorilla."
"G-Gorilla?" Kondo looked back at her, a face of bafflement.
Kagura tilted her head. 'I guess he doesn't really look like a gorilla at this age, yes?'
"How could she possibly have known about-" Kondo cleared his throat and pretended he didn't hear the insult. "Mitsuba-dono isn't in good health, so we don't like her to move around a lot… Not only that, but she is always surrounded by us men, so I think she was excited to see another girl her around her age stroll around these parts," he explained. "If you could please just keep her company, I'm sure she'd be ecstatic." Kondo gave her a winning smile and then continued on his way. "It'd be really appreciated!" he called back as Kagura watched his fleeting form.
Kagura just stared blankly. She didn't know if she wanted to try and befriend a woman she knew was dead in the future; heck, she didn't even know how long she'd be stuck in this time period. Maybe going to sleep was like holding the reset button on a game console. Maybe she'd open her eyes just to find herself back in that capsule.
Kagura leapt up and was about to head back inside, but from the corner of her eye she saw half of Sougo's face glaring at her; he was peeking from the door.
Kagura tediously picked her nose. "Yeah? What do you want, uh-huh?"
Sougo was alarmed at being caught and so hastily closed the shouji door, disappearing back into the other room.
Kagura flicked her pickings and stared back at the now-closed door with mild annoyance. "If you're going to eavesdrop, do a better job, yes?" she said to herself and headed back into her room to get some shut-eye and hopefully wake up back at Gengai's.
A/N : Not much going on this chapter, sorry. (Trust me it all goes downhill from here, the only thing I actually planned out in this fic is the ending, I'm just winging everything before that). Next chapter Shinpachi shows up though, so any of you with glasses, look forward to your kin. Also, Gintoki's segment was rather short this chapter, but the next one will be longer. And expect older Sougo to interact with mini Kagura more.
I also apologize if anything here seems rushed or abrupt, but throughout my fanfiction history I noticed that I lacked consistency, so I'm trying to keep the wordcount around the same per chapter.
Overdue Prologue Guest Review Responses :
Guest : For now I won't be giving up =P Thank you for the compliment, and simplistic name that doesn't mess with my half-asleep mind at this hour.
Matsuki Sakata : I agree, Gintoki's past is one of the most interesting ones in Gintama, and I'll even go as far to say he has one of the most interesting ones within the characters presented here; it's just that I'd then have to send Hijikata to his past. Yeah, there would be some really feely interactions, but for the most part Hijikata wouldn't have anything he can give to younger Gintoki, nor could younger Gintoki teach Hijikata anything he doesn't already know. I mean, if you're that desperate for Gintoki's past, there was Hijikata's dismembered arm over the Shiroyasha's shoulder =P Thanks for reading.
NOTICEME : Cool indeed.
Chapter Guest Review Responses :
Ganbatte : Good indeed.
SkyHana : Thanks for voting =) But it seems you were outvoted, haha. Yeah, it seems to be agreed that "Anueue" is the better choice for the reasons you listed, so thanks for the input, and for reading. (Great? Ohoho… We'll see… .)
Sasha : Why thank you =P Vote acknowledged, but Chibikata was still beat out =/ Sorry, but I'll try to make ol' Thorny worth your while =P But to be honest, if I did send Gintoki to Chibikata's past instead, he would've been sent to a point in time after the incident; recent enough that Hijikata still seemed haunted by it though. Thanks for reading and reviewing~