My second RK installment after Only the Strong. It's been a while, so be kind.
Disclaimer: The characters of Rurouni Kenshin belong to Nobuhiro Watsuki-sensei. If he ever decides to disown Aoshi, please give Aoshi-sama my address, will you? =P
Archives: On ffnet, my pad Poetry in Blue, pinoyfanfics ml, fanfics.org. Anyone who'd like to extend a home to the fic is welcome.
This has been an on-and-off project that I just had to post something online to get it kick started. This is, by no means, a rip-off of haku baikou's Recovery, since I've worked on this way before Recovery was posted, and you'll see this deals with something else differently. Hope you give this story a chance.
By Shinomori no Kami Daiji
Anyone who knew her might have mistaken her for someone else if they saw her that moment. She still did carry the dignified bearing of her profession: from the smooth blue frock over her kimono to the strong, but delicate fingers that clutched the medicine box. She still walked in sure steps making her way briskly through the train station. A doctor's apprentice, but people are still willing to put their trust to the young woman with striking beauty and caring hands.
But the eyes betray all. And at that instance, one wouldn't say it belonged to Takani Megumi. Because nobody ever saw anxiety and fear pass those warm brown eyes.
The moment she received the letter from Kyoto, she practically flew to prepare for the journey. The message was short, but Megumi didn't need to read it all. When the words 'Kenshin, 'Sanosuke', and 'injured' stood out from the small parchment in her hands, she gave no second thought and went straight to Genzai-sensei to take her leave for Kyoto. With permission granted, she sent back a reply to the messenger saying she will leave by the first morning train.
As the train jerked to a slow run, Megumi checked and counterchecked her list with the equipment she had. She needed to do something to take her mind off the apprehension she was feeling. Megumi felt like slapping herself. She was really acting like a novice intern. Could this be enough? I shouldn't have left those. I hope they can get what I need.
She sighed, forcing the tension out of her system. She told herself, over and over, to never get emotionally involved with her patients. But she couldn't help it, and this was different. She was on her way to Kyoto to save the life of a man who first saved hers.
Ken-san, please wait for my arrival.
She knew something like this would happen. In a way, she was thankful that she would be doing in return for the kindness of Ken-san and the others. Megumi took some calming breaths. She thought of Kaoru. Who knows how much trauma she's going through! But she was sure Kaoru will have the support she needs from friends there.
Megumi caught sight of the Imperial Palace over the fleeting treetops and roof houses. Moments later, the train began to decelerate, coming to a halt at the Kyoto station. She declined the porter's offer with a smile to carry her medicine box as she got off the train car. She scanned about the crowd for Kaoru or Yahiko. It's as if nothing happened here, she noted distantly seeing the normal bustle about her. These people might not have an idea of what happened in the past few days, still going about their daily lives.
"Megumi! Over here!"
Kaoru's voice reached her ears. She turned to the direction of the voice; she saw the girl waving to her. Megumi broke into a smile of her own as she approached. Kaoru's enthusiasm seemed a little encouraging, until she drew nearer. Looking over the younger woman with a trained eye, Kaoru bore the signs of having been in a fight. A girl stood beside Kaoru, perhaps no older than Megumi herself. She also had the same light scratches on her neck and cheek. Her short-cropped hair was tied by a silk blue ribbon. The light yellow kimono complimented her tanned lithe form.
"This is Omasu," Kaoru introduced the young woman, who bowed genially. "She and her friends helped us while we were here."
"A pleasure to meet you," Megumi said, returning the gesture.
"And you," Omasu responded. "Kaoru has told us much about you, Takani-sensei."
"Please, just Megumi," she said with a demure smile. So Kaoru told about me, eh? She wanted to turn on the girl with some clever retort, but held back her tongue. Now wasn't the time to waste time. She came on a professional capacity, and especially, as a friend.
"Pardon my rudeness," Megumi continued, "but, what happened to the two of you?"
Kaoru and Omasu glanced at one another before the former answered. "Their establishment was attacked by Shishio's men," she said. Her eyes looked about. "We'll tell you more when we get back. We're staying at the Shirobeko. It's not so far."
Megumi nodded and followed the two. Shishio. That faceless creature that caused it all. She wondered what kind of mayhem he brought upon the city; but, then again, she'd rather not ponder about it. In her opinion, the world would be better off without the likes of him and Takeda.
She was expecting the restaurant to be closed due to the siege, but found it teeming with customers for the day. Megumi gave an acknowledging nod to Sae who was engaged with a customer. Omasu excused herself to help around the kitchen as Kaoru and Megumi moved on to the rear of the Shirobeko.
"Now, Kaoru," Megumi began as soon as they settled themselves in the receiving room, "tell me, please. How are the others doing?"
The girl's eyes dimmed. "I can't exactly say," she confessed. "Omasu saw to Kenshin and Sanosuke. They were hurt badly, but they assured me they're going to be all right."
Megumi felt the unease melt away slowly. "Was anyone else hurt during the attack here?" she wanted to know.
"Yahiko was quite hurt during the battle as well," Kaoru admitted, looking away momentarily. "Everyone was in trying to protect the Aoiya. But we're alive, and we're thankful for that."
"I would imagine so," Megumi murmured. It disturbed her that Yahiko was thrust into the conflict too early. What was that boy thinking?
"I'd have to see the worst injured first," she announced with conviction. "Would you take me to them, Kaoru?"
"Certainly." Kaoru led her up the next floor, to a hall to their right. She opened the shoji panel near the end of the corridor. A woman was sitting near one of the two invalids in the room. Almost instantaneously, the tousled red mane caught her Megumi's attention. Her heart sank.
"Oh, you've returned," the woman greeted, flowing ebony hair swaying as she turned to face them. Her short dark outfit outlined a well-defined figure. She was sitting by Sanosuke's senseless form.
"Have they waken up yet, Ochika?" Kaoru inquired as she sat on the tatami by Kenshin's futon.
The woman named Ochika shook her head. When her eyes rested on Megumi, Ochika's face looked relieved.
"Hello," she said, "you must be Kaoru's doctor friend. Welcome to Kyoto."
"Please, I'm just a doctor's assistant," Megumi demurred. "But I'll do my best to help. Were you the one who took care of them?"
She nodded. "We did our best to stop the bleeding," she answered as Megumi took her place beside Kaoru. "Ochika and I cleaned their wounds and tried to make them comfortable. I'm afraid it was the only thing we could do."
"It's good enough a start," she remarked as she began a cursory examination on Kenshin. She didn't like what she discovered. He was just worse than a tattered rag doll. Megumi fixed her attention to the medicine she was taking out before either Kaoru or Ochika noticed her glistening eyes.
What are you doing to yourself?, thought Megumi as she began undoing Kenshin's bandages. She sorely wished he stopped being so helpful for his own good. He saved Japan from a madman. But what about his own life? Who would look after him?
She stole a glance at Kaoru, saw the anxiety mar her youthful face. She was probably the sole reason Ken-san even came back alive. She hoped Kaoru knew how fortunate she is to have him. Bear up, Kaoru. Ken-san needs you.
"Could you help me with this?" asked Megumi as she handed the fresh bandages.
"I'll get some hot water for you," Ochika volunteered as she stood up.
"Yes, thank you, Ochika," Megumi said as the other left for the task. "Are Ochika and Omasu sisters?" she suddenly asked.
"I don't believe so," Kaoru answered. "But they both worked at the Aoiya inn."
"Now why would this Shishio be interested in destroying an inn?" she wondered.
"We received information that Shishio planned to burn Kyoto. The people at the Aoiya warned the citizens and helped them prepare for an imminent attack. When they learned that an opposing force foiled their attempt, Shishio concentrated his men there."
"Here it is." Ochika arrived with the small tub of water and some clean cloths. "I have to leave you two again to see to breakfast. Excuse me." She grinned at them before shutting the door.
"They seem quite resourceful for innkeepers," Megumi commented, picking up the thread of their conversation.
"They ought to be," came Kaoru's quiet reply. "Megumi, I need to tell you something really important."
Megumi looked up from applying balm over Kenshin's burns.
"You see, Ochika, and Omasu," she went on haltingly, "and their friends are Oniwabanshu."
Megumi felt she missed a heartbeat at hearing the word. The group she feared. Their leader she dreaded.
She inhaled slowly, careful not to shudder as she did. "I see," she said as she went on her task.
There was silence before Kaoru blurted. "Is that all you're going to say?" She couldn't see her face, but she was sure the girl was blinking in disbelief at her.
"What else do you want me to say?" she asked, her eyes still averted to her task.
"I'm just surprised you're taking this news calmly, that's all," Kaoru said candidly.
Megumi paused from her work to look Kaoru in the eye keenly. "I bear no grudges against people I just met," she stated coolly. "And I have no intentions of dredging the past. Now, help me finish on Kenshin so I can start working on Sanosuke."
"It's… about time I get some service around here."
Both women turned to see the twinkle in Sanosuke's tired eyes.
"Sanosuke!" Kaoru exclaimed. "How are you feeling?"
"I've seen better days," came his raspy reply. His gaze fixed on Megumi. "So you're here, megitsune."
She sighed inwardly in relief. "Sanosuke, you idiot," she chided gently as she sat by his side. "What have you gone and done this time?"
"Oh, just helping Kenshin save Japan," he answered in his usual careless way.
"Hmph, I hardly believe there was a need for your head for that," she retorted as she tapped on Sano's bandaged brow.
He winced. "Oi, megitsune," he answered. "Striking while I'm down? That's beneath your lofty standards, ne?"
"You should know about standards," she said archly, then her features sobered. "You got this from fighting Shishio?"
Sano nodded gingerly. "And from a fighting monk called Anji. Do you have any more of that ointment? I'm starting to feel where he hit me."
"Right away." She wanted to scold him for plunging headlong into a fight, which she knew he had done. Maybe when he's well enough to bear the brunt of her fury…
"I can't believe you and Kenshin acquired this much injuries in fighting one man," she remarked as she began applying the balm.
Sano's face turned serious. "I only fought Anji and Shishio. But Kenshin… he fought three of our most powerful enemies. If he hadn't fought Soujiro and Aoshi at the start, he would have beaten Shishio easily."
Her hand stopped midway. Aoshi. "He fought Kenshin?" she managed to say calmly.
He stared at the ceiling. "He got a lot stronger since they last fought. He almost beat Kenshin again because Kenshin was trying to talk him out of fighting."
"What for?" Megumi sounded surprised.
"Aoshi was really intent on killing him that time," Kaoru explained. "He betrayed the rest of the Oniwabanshu just to get to him. But Kenshin promised the group he'd turn him around."
Megumi couldn't believe her ears. What saving grace is there to be found for a cold, ruthless man? "Why would Ken-san do that?" she voiced out.
"Aoshi and the others left Aoiya eight years ago," said Kaoru. "Kenshin promised someone he'd bring him back."
Once more, Megumi felt the ice down her spine, just like that time she saw Aoshi in the dojo. "He's—he's here?"
"Yeah," Sanosuke responded. "Kenshin beat him with his secret technique. I was shocked when I saw him again during Kenshin's fight with Shishio."
"Don't tell me he helped that madman beat Kenshin!"
"He did the opposite, actually," Sanosuke mused. His eyes narrowed slightly at the recollection. "I kind of remember hearing him and Shishio fighting. When I woke up, Aoshi was on his knees. But Kenshin was already up, so they continued their fight."
Her mind was reeling with one revelation after another. She and the last man she wanted to see were in that same place. Megumi couldn't deny the fact that she would see him again eventually. What she didn't expect was she might see him again at any moment.
"Aoshi got hurt from his fight with Kenshin and Shishio," Sano's words reached her ears. "I don't think you'd bump into him in the hallway, if that's what you're worried about. And you don't have to see to him. That is, if you don't want to."
She was held silent for some time. "Thanks for your concern, Sanosuke," Megumi spoke. "But I can't deny my services at my own discretion. If anyone needs my help, I'll give it."
She nodded, then turned to Kaoru. "Do the others know this particular information about me?"
"We've only told their elder, Okina, so far," Kaoru supplied. "Is that all right? We haven't told the rest of them."
"It's fine," Megumi answered as she began clearing her things. "Besides, I don't want them to feel uneasy around me." She patted Sano's arm. "And you get some rest."
"Yes, doctor," he drawled playfully, then closed his eyes.
They moved to the adjoining room where Yahiko rested, Megumi was glad to learn on examining him that he suffered no serious injuries.
"Thank goodness for that," she remarked as she arranged the boy's bedclothes. He was staring up at her with twinkling eyes.
"You should have seen me in action, Megumi," he said proudly. "I beat some Juppongitana scum! You would've been proud of me."
"I'm sure I would have enjoyed you trying to get yourself killed, you foolish boy," she answered wryly.
The boy's demeanor softened. "Aw, come on, Megumi, lighten up!" he told her. "At least, we're all back alive."
"I know," she responded. "Now, be quiet and get some rest."
The young women stood to leave as Yahiko settled to sleep.
"What about you?" Megumi asked as she turned to Kaoru. "Don't you need to get looked over?"
"Oh, I'm all right," Kaoru assured. "Don't worry about me."
"As you say," she responded. "Now, who else?"
Kaoru paused in thought. "Okina might need to be examined. But," she paused again, staring at Megumi, "are you sure you want to? He is Oniwabanshu."
"Silly girl," she answered in slight exasperation. "Of course, I will! What good are my services if I can't serve everybody? Now, lead the way."
Megumi didn't see the need to explain her situation to Kaoru. Her duty demanded that she refuse her services to no one, be they rich or poor, friend or foe. From all indications, in the way these Oniwabanshu helped Kenshin and the others, they were allies.
Okina's quarters were situated four rooms away from where Kenshin and Sanosuke's room was. Megumi stopped in the middle of the hall when a thought occurred to her.
"I'd like to speak to him in private, if you don't mind, Kaoru-san," she announced.
Kaoru stared at her at length, then nodded. "I understand," she said. "Well, I'll see if I can help the others downstairs. I'll be in the kitchen if you need me."
Megumi nodded in turn, idly wondering what good the girl would do there. She dismissed the cheeky thought as she stood in front of the old man's door. She knocked on the doorframe and waited for permission to enter.
The man Okina was sitting in front of a low writing desk, hands clasped over the table. He smiled up at her as she entered.
"Good morning, Takani-sensei," Okina said. "I trust you had a good journey?"
"Good morning, Okina-san," Megumi returned with a quick bow. She moved to sit across from him. "Yes, it was a good trip. How are you feeling?"
"Still a bit sore," he admitted, "but these old bones can weather out anything."
Megumi grinned. "No doubt that you can. Have you been in a fight as well?"
"Oh, yes," he answered. "It was quite a hard one."
She decided not to press further when she noted the sadness in the old man's eye. She asked him to remove the upper portion of his beige yukata, and was aghast at that she saw.
"Your wounds are very serious!" she exclaimed as she carefully removed the old bandages. The lacerations were very deep. She was sure Okina must be in great pain. "You must have good karma to have survived."
To this the old man grinned. "I'd like to think so."
"Do you feel any lingering pain? Any numbness?" she asked as she probed gingerly for any further injuries.
Okina winced slightly. "The pain comes and goes. But I can manage."
"You're not supposed to bear it," Megumi said, frowning. "Especially at your age."
"Young lady," Okina began to say, "I'm as fit as any youngster that I can keep up with them any day."
Her lip turned u p slightly. "I'm sure you can," she assured him. "But not any time soon. Do you have any difficulty standing up?" She began applying a sweet-smelling herbal balm over the stitched wounds.
"Sensei, I oversaw the young ones when they confronted the Juppongitana." He glanced behind him. "Nothing can keep me in my bed very long, not when a battle is brewing."
"You can call me Megumi, Okina-san," she corrected gently.
"You come from a line of excellent doctors," Okina said. "You'll be one in time."
She smiled gratefully. "Thank you for thinking so. I see that Kaoru-san has… told you all about me?"
"Yes, she has," he acknowledged with a nod. "And I've heard of your family years before. Let me just say I'm grateful that you are doing this despite the circumstances." His features sobered. "You do know he's here."
She found herself breathing deeply. "I am." It was considerate of Okina not to mention his name. They both knew who it was.
He nodded approvingly. "Not a lot of people will do what you're doing," he said.
Megumi lowered her gaze, unable to withstand the elder Oniwabanshu's warm one. Her only response was a small acknowledging smile as her eyes fixed on the ointment in her hands. She was tempted to ask just how much Okina knew of her association with his young comrade. What she told Ken-san and the others was a suppressed version of the utter degradation she suffered at the hands of Takeda Kanryuu.
But then, Okina-san, this is what I've done for so long, she thought bitterly. Doing things against my will.
"I'm just doing my job," she murmured instead, another smile plastered on her lips. She took out a new batch of bandages and began to redress his wounds, working in strained silence.
"So, what is Shinomori-san's condition?" Megumi asked after a while, sounding as casual as possible.
Okina drew back slightly, surprise evident in his good eye that wasn't covered by bandage. She was also surprised at her own spontaneous question. It is a natural thing to ask, after all, she told herself, considering they've all been in one battle or another.
"As far as we can tell, his injuries are not that critical," he said thoughtfully, stroking his gray beard. "We couldn't tell the extent of the damage on him since he turned down further treatment after that night they returned."
"What an obstinate man," she commented with a slight frown. She half-expected that of Aoshi. Megumi was reminded of that one time when his henchman, Shikijo, got wounded in one of their outings in Tokyo. Their leader never commissioned neither Kanryuu's doctor nor herself, but let Beshimi treat his wounded comrade. How could he stick by his pride even when he knew he needed help?
"I know," Okina put in. "Aoshi always had been independent. He always had a way to work things out on his own."
The young apprentice caught the wistful tone in the gruff voice. "How long have you known him?" She helped Okina into his yukata.
"Almost all his life," he revealed.
"You raised him?"
"To be more precise, the Oniwabanshu raised him."
Megumi leaned back, staring abstractedly at the man's back. His evasive answer didn't claim anything regarding his relationship to Aoshi. He might have deemed her questions impertinent. Or he was protecting his own for some untold reason. Megumi just let the matter drop. The less she knew of the man, the better. It would be easier to let go of the weight of the past she still carried.
She returned to her seat, taking out several packets from her medicine box.
"These are for the pain," she instructed, laying down three brown envelopes on the table. "You may mix it with your tea. These you mix in water to drink every six hours to prevent any infection." She set down three red packets, and pushed them across the table in front of Okina. "To be doubly sure, you can pour saké over your wounds."
Okina grinned widely. "Ah, the good old remedy."
She looked at him keenly. "Not for drinking, Okina-san," she added hastily, "or your stomach will suffer for it."
"Oh, don't you worry, lovely lady," Okina assured suavely as he drew his yukata front closed. "I'll do just as the doctor ordered." He bowed effusively. "Thank you, Megumi-san."
"It's nothing," she responded as she returned the gesture. "I'll be by later to check on you. Who—who else might need to be tended to?"
"Misao. She might have broken her ribs during a fall." Okina didn't seem to have noticed her hesitation. "I'll take you to her room."
"No need to exert yourself," Megumi said, holding up a restraining hand. "I'll find her myself. Where is her room?"
"It's the first room at the corner," Okina informed. "Please take good care of our okashira."
"I will," she said slowly, "once I see to Misao-san…"
His smile was an indulgent one. "I was referring to Misao," he explained. "She took over Aoshi's position when he sided with Shishio for a time."
Megumi nodded in comprehension. It would be logical to depose Aoshi for having turned his back on his old comrades. But, as she stepped back to the hallway and closed Okina's door, Megumi was more and more intrigued with these Oniwabanshu. She blew out a breath. So much for not caring.
"Misao-san?" Megumi called out after knocking. "It's Takani Megumi, Kaoru-san's friend from Tokyo. Can I come in?"
"Sure! Come in!" said a young female voice from inside.
Megumi slid the shoji aside in time to see a slight of a girl sitting on the futon adjusting her obi. She wore a short dark outfit almost the same as Ochika's outfit. Her hair was also different, with a long pigtail running down her back. From the youthful energetic face to her slim build, Megumi judged her being no older than a child.
This is their okashira?, she asked herself. Megumi held herself in check. She ought to look past appearances. If they elected her predecessor at a very young age, why shouldn't she qualify? But this one carried herself differently from Aoshi.
"Good morning, sensei," Misao greeted with a smile. "Anything I can do for you?"
"Nothing, really. I wanted to see how you're doing. Call me Megumi, please."
Misao's grin widened, adding sparkle to her ocean-blue eyes. It was disconcerting for Megumi to see it and be aware of her position. They're very different, indeed.
"Okina-san told me you might have a broken rib," she went in as she sat on the tatami. "Do you feel pain when you move?"
Misao paused in thought. "Not that I'm aware of," she answered. "It doesn't bother me very much, as long as I don't do big movements."
"May I?" She lifted the girl's gi slightly. A large purple bruise formed just below the ribcage. Megumi pressed two fingers around the injury.
"There doesn't seem to be any fracture," she announced after a while. "But I recommend a quiet week. No strenuous activity." She took out a round lacquered case containing ointment. "Did a doctor see to all of you?"
"No," she answered. "It was really late, and we didn't want to add to his list of patients. But Okina was treated by him. And, besides, were can look after our own. We're a fighting group, so we're used to this."
Megumi winced inwardly, reminded again of Aoshi. "Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?"
Misao tilted her head, regarding her seriously. "Go ahead."
"How long have you been with Oniwabanshu?"
"All my life! My grandfather was okashira before Aoshi-sama took over from him."
"Aoshi… sama?" Megumi echoed, trying to sound uninterested.
Misao nodded. "Okina recommended him for the post. Both of them took care of me when my grandfather died."
"Ah," Megumi responded. "Isn't it hard for someone like you to grow up in such dangerous environment?"
"Not at all!" was Misao's gamely reply, then her features softened. "They've all taken good care of me, especially Aoshi-sama. He was the best." She sighed.
Megumi stared at the girl, perplexed. Was she referring to the same Shinomori Aoshi she knew? The cold, calculating man who worked for that despicable Takeda Kanryuu? That same unreadable face set in flint that hid the ruthlessness underneath? How was it possible that this same person was capable of caring for another?
"So… what happened that you had to take over him?" When the thoughtful look faded, Megumi hastily added, "I'm sorry. That was rude of me. I shouldn't have asked…"
Misao shook her head with a smile that didn't quite reach her eyes. "No, it's all right," she protested lightly. "I mean, now that it's over, I think there's nothing wrong talking about it."
Megumi nodded once as she began applying the balm.
"You see, Himura and Aoshi-sama crossed paths months ago," she began. "Himura was trying to save a friend of theirs from a man Aoshi-sama worked for."
Megumi felt like the air was growing thin. "Go on."
"Four of our friends were killed when their employer went mad and tried to kill Aoshi-sama." Her eyes grew dim. "Aoshi-sama was furious. He wanted to take it out on Himura. He wasn't heard from for a couple of months, until we heard he joined Shishio's group."
"Now, why did he do that?" she asked, swallowing a parched throat.
Misao shrugged. "Most likely, to get back at Himura. He wouldn't join Shishio just for any reason," she defended.
"Just like his reason for working for his previous employer?"
Youthful eyes flashed briefly. "Don't get him wrong," she said. "Aoshi-sama must've had a very good reason why he stayed on the way he did."
"You have such big faith in him, Misao-san."
"I do," she asserted. "He was the best person I've ever known. Deep down, he really is a good man."
Megumi was mentally shaking her head. Such blind loyaltly. "But people can change, Misao-san," she pointed out gently.
Misao shook her head, resolution in her face. "If he did," she said, "he wouldn't have come back with Himura and Sano. Himura said he'll bring back the old Aoshi-sama. And he did."
"Have you spoken to him?"
Misao bowed her, her face flushed bright pink. "No," came her slow reply. "We thought it best that he rest." She looked away, fingers playing at the hem of her shorts.
"And I suggest the same for you," Megumi stated as she put away the medicine. "I must be going now." She stood up.
"Will you be looking after Aoshi-sama, too?" Misao asked. "Omasu said he refused to see her yesterday."
Megumi looked away. "I'm not so sure he'd want to see me…"
"Please?" She caught the supplicating look in the girl's eyes. "And please tell him that—we're glad he's back, and that we're worried about him." Misao smiled at her sheepishly.
Megumi's own smile faded the minute she was at the other side of the closed door.
"Trust me, Misao-san," she murmured, "I'm the last person he'd want to see."
futon - Japanese quilted mattress.
gi - uniform
megitsune - I think it's a derogatory version of "woman" since I heard a character from a different series call someone that.
ne - 'isn't it?/isn't that so?'
oi - 'hey'
okashira - 'honorable head'
saké - rice wine -sama - honorific, meaning 'great'
sensei - loosely, 'teacher'; a title given to teachers, writers, or doctors.
shoji - sliding door found in Japanese houses.
tatami - Japanese straw mat
-san - mister, miss...
yukata - robe used as summer wear. Used to be worn when going to bath houses (I think).
Just went back to make a few corrections, specially that Owari part. ^_^;; I have this planned for a couple of chapters, because the story preceding it is slated to be longer.
Thanks for those who reviewed! m(_ _)m