Disclaimers: Nope. Not yet.
Welcome to the most original blanket scenario! You aren't a hardcore coupling fanatic until you've written one of these babies. This'll probably be three (short) chapters long.
Do review. Make your Sanosuke/Megumi preference known to the world. *wink*
And now for something completely different... enjoy!
By: Karina Kineshi (firstname.lastname@example.org)
"What the hell..."
Sanosuke shook his head in disbelief, anger, and frustration all mixed up at once. He ran his fingers through his hair to wipe off the beading sweat on the back of his neck. The glare I was shooting at him did nothing to alleviate the prickly heat, even though it was cold as ice. "Err... we got lost?"
We... got... lost?!
I blinked once, then blinked again at the sheer absurdity of the situation. I was fighting back the urge to choke Sanosuke. I think he knew that I was this close to killing him, he was oddly subdued. The strongest fighter in Tokyo leveled by a murderous glare. I seethed, "Are there even deserts in Japan?"
The man beside me stooped over, scooped some up some sand and let it slide in between in his fingers. "We're in a desert," he mumbled. I don't think he believed it either.
"I know this!" I roared. Sanosuke shrank back in fear. No one who dared cross me lived to tell about the tale. I cursed Hippocrates for coming up with that damnable oath. It stated that I as a doctor could do no harm. Not even when it was justified, like right now. Sanosuke had better be thanking that man for that promise; he was a dead man without it. "The sand makes it painfully obvious that we are in a desert!"
"It's not like I did this on purpose, fox!"
"You had to have! This has to be your fault in some way..." With trembling hands, as if the situation just now presented itself, I pulled down the collar of my kimono. I didn't know it could get so hot in a desert. Underneath my kimono and make-up, I felt like I was broiling.
"The carriage... it was him..."
I nodded and sank down to the sand, not really caring that it would ruin my expensive clothing. It's not like I'd need it now anyways. "What, did you forget to tip him?"
"Um... I forgot to... pay him?"
I sighed. This was not news to me. "If you needed money, why couldn't you just ask me for it?"
Sanosuke plopped on the sand beside me while his shoulders shrugged in defeat. I was too tired, too overwhelmed, to push him away. Plus, the added bonus of him being taller than me shaded my face from the scorching heat. I was silently thankful for that. "If I asked you for money, you would have thought I couldn't take care of it myself," he stated quietly. "I wanted to do this right."
I felt pretty bad at that point. You could tell that he actually tried, and that gave him a sort of bumbling but endearing quality. I suddenly remembered why I said yes to him in the first place. "Sanosuke, you ruined our first date."
"Hey," he pointed a finger at me, "you were the one who owes me a date, remember?"
"Yeah..." My head rocked back and forth sideways. "But at least when I ruined our date, it was because of circumstances beyond my control."
This conversation was going nowhere fast. I cursed myself for wearing such nice clothes. I thought that we'd be going on a nice little dinner complete with carriage ride, just as Sanosuke promised. I grinned in victory when I saw the look on his face earlier today. It was the slightly opened mouth that told me I looked great.
I knew I looked great.
Hey, forgive me for being vain. It's just that I never spend any time on how I look, so when I want to spend time, it's going to be the best yet. The bad thing was that I didn't have any nice looking kimonos except the magenta one that Sanosuke had already seen. I thought that maybe that thing was bad luck, so I went out and got a new one two days later. This one was a deep red with silver embroidery. The sleeves were typical for a woman of my unmarried status, large and almost trailing on the ground. It matched the color on my lips perfectly. Add to that an assortment of bracelets and a single dazzling necklace...
I jingled when I walked.
After about a half an hour of debating with Kaoru, she tied the obi behind me into a simple Nagoya style. I protested that I wasn't married, so having the long sleeves and the obi like that would be contradictory. She smiled sheepishly and said that she didn't know how to do it any other way. I asked her how she got her stupid obi tied then. She said that Genzai-sensei did it for her.
I was ashamed that I, a woman, had to go to a man to tie an obi. I kept telling myself that it wasn't my fault I couldn't work behind my back, I knew how to do it perfectly well. Just not on myself. Genzai-sensei tied it into a blooming rose, faster than I've ever tied that particular knot. It looked just as good too.
"Fat load of good that does now..." I mumbled.
Sanosuke looked around the landscape. I wanted to tell him not to bother; I didn't see anything in sight. My hair was slowly falling out of its pinned arrangement because of the sun beating down on my head. I thought it was only a matter of time before my hair would burst into flame. "Do you see any stones anywhere?" he asked suddenly.
"Stones?" I echoed. What did the moron want with stones? I answered him with a sarcastic look and a shake of my head. "If you really want stones, you can use your spit and bind the sand particles together."
It was his turn to look confused. I saw a bead of sweat trail down his forehead and into his left eye. He flicked it away with a finger and stared at the sun. I bet he was wishing that he had worn his bandana. Me, being the perfectionist I am, insisted he remove it if he was to be seen in public with me.
He reached into one pocket of his dyed red gi and deftly took out a long strip of cloth I recognized all too well. Sanosuke tied it around his head and crossed his legs. "I was looking for stones because moss is supposed to grow on the north side of them."
"Um, Sano? First of all, we're in a desert. Moss can't grow in this heat, even if there were stones to grow it on. And second... we don't even know where we are. We can't go traipsing about the desert if we don't even—"
"I get the message," he sighed. "I really screwed this one up, but at least I've got something that make this all better..."
I quirked an eyebrow at him. It had to be nothing short of an inflatable house complete with bathhouse to make this all better. By the look of excitement on his face, I was starting to wonder if it was. "What is it?"
"Don't you think it's funny how we can't remember anything before this?"
"— and that the last thing both of us remember is that damned carriage?"
I nodded, trying to understand what he was getting at.
"Well..." he continued. "When we woke up, I found something."
"What?" My curiosity was killing me inside. "What is it?"
With a dazzling smile, he procured something from his back that made me jump back in surprise. It looked like a giant, furry animal. He must have noticed the fear and dropped it into his lap while holding his hands up. "It ain't an animal, Megumi."
"Then what the hell is it?" I tried to make sense of the object in his lap. Brown, furry... but oddly flat. It looked like it was folded. A foldable animal?
I was losing my mind; it was definitely the heat. Imagine my face when Sanosuke stood up and threw it open. It inflated to almost ten times its size and blotted out the sky. I immediately saw that it was some kind of...
"A blanket!" he announced triumphantly. "I don't know where it came from, but when I woke up, it was right here beside me!" From how he said it, he found a puzzling secret of existence.
I felt like I was losing my control. It was made worse when the gust from the blanket trailed over the sand and blew it into my hair and face. I was too hot to care. "What good is a blanket in a place like this? A giant, furry blanket?"
"It's an animal skin."
I threw my hands up. "Oh, even better!" Feeling angrier now, and slightly exasperated, I lurched to my feet menacingly. "Honestly Sagara Sanosuke, I thought you had a little bit more sense in you. We're probably going to die in this God-forsaken place and all you can be excited about is some stupid blanket!"
Sanosuke dropped it to the ground and pointed an accusing finger at me. He was beginning to look angry. "Can't you give me a break? You know, I worked my gangster ass off to get enough money to do this for you!"
"Yeah, if you count gambling as working your gangster... butt off!"
"You get money any way you can! I'm sorry we were all not given the chance to become respectable doctors like you!"
Ouch. That was below the belt. I held up my hands to placate him but he didn't show any signs of letting up. I was angry, yes, but more at myself than him. I couldn't believe the circumstances, and the nearest available outlet was usually him. This time was different; he was yelling back. "Sano—"
"We all didn't get your opportunities in life..."
"We all didn't have as great a past as you did—"
"Now just wait here Sanosuke! I'll have you know that my past is just as shady as yours!" I fumed. "I've had it ten times worse than you ever will..." I was treading on dangerous ground, but I kept plodding along as my nature was. His eyes glinted treacherously in the sun. "Don't you dare talk to me about my past, I won't stand for it one minute, do you understand?!"
We stood in silence for the next few moments, glaring at each other as hotly as the sun was beating down on our heads. The sun's heat was fueling my anger. My impassioned outcry made the pins in my hair come completely undone, and a few strands hung over my face, trembling with rage. It was times like this I was reminded of how much I hated the man.
"I hate you, Sagara Sanosuke!"
The moment those words flew out of my mouth, I knew it was the biggest mistake of my life. I slapped a hand over my lips and stared in shock at his reaction. He looked just as surprised as I was. Before storming around and grabbing the blanket with both hands, I caught a profound look of sadness. "Well, I hate you too." He turned around and started to move from me. "By the way, I've heard that because there's no vegetation, the desert is scorching hot during the day... and freezing cold at night."
Then he walked away.
Was it pride? Was it the disbelief? Maybe it was a mixture of both that kept me rooted to my spot on the sand. I didn't want to move, but I wanted to go after him. I didn't want to admit he was right but I also wanted to admit my wrong. It was pride; it couldn't be anything else. I opened my mouth to apologize. "Fine then!" I shouted back. "I don't need your lousy pity!"
That's not the way an apology is supposed to go Megumi!
I don't care!
I whirled around and started walking the opposite direction from wherever it was Sanosuke was going. I shoved the damnable pins into my sleeves, letting my hair fly freely. It was getting hot and my hair was starting to stick to the back of my neck. Damn damn damn! Damn him! Damn myself! Damn...
What kind of sick freak would leave us in the middle of a desert? Didn't that carriage man know what a human life was worth? And how come I couldn't remember anything? Nothing?
What was wrong with me?
I was pushing away the only person that could help me now. The only person I'd want to die with if I were to die. I felt like the other part of my soul was being torn away from me.
Okay, maybe that's the heat talking. It sounds ridiculous, but... something told me I had to be the one to make amends this time. It was always him running to me, why couldn't I be the one to give in for once? After all, I could just say that it was the heat talking. My feet already felt like they were chafing and the more I walked, the more painful it got with each step. If I had known that my first date would turn out to be a death march, I would have put on more comfortable shoes.
I had to apologize. With a newfound resolve and an excuse to go along with it, I slowly turned around. I saw that I had walked a good hundred feet and my footsteps receded into a mirage wasteland.
I had the second biggest shock of my life. He wasn't there.
What? He can't have disappeared on me that quickly! No!!
My God, I'm going to die in this desert. I don't want to die just yet; I've got work to do! There are people I still have to say goodbye to, children to have, a husband to marry... but not necessarily in that order. The only person I'd even dream of marrying was out of sight forever.
This day certainly ranked as one of the worst.
A deep voice startled me from my lunatic ravings inside my mind, therefore succeeding in giving me the biggest shock of my life. "Miss me, fox?"
"I already know, don't talk."
He hadn't disappeared. Sanosuke was here, right beside me! He must have been standing beside me the entire time... but that's not possible. I swear that I didn't see anything when I turned around, but how...
An odd look flickered across his face. "I didn't mean for you to take that seriously."
"Take what seriously?" I asked.
The man was still carrying that blanket, hunched over it like it was his duty to protect it. He grabbed my arm and skidded me to a halt. My feet hurt when the zori dug into the sand. "I don't think it's good for us to be walking in this heat."
Talk about stating the obvious.
He continued while unwrapping that blanket. "I think I've got an idea, but I need you to do me a favor." I don't think I got settled over the shock that he had forgiven me (or maybe it was the other way around). "You have to promise me something."
"Well, two things, actually."
I rubbed the back of my neck and tried a faint attempt at humor. "Now you're just pushing your luck." If it weren't so real, I'd be finding this situation grimly hilarious. You hear stories like this all the time and you laugh, but if you yourself were stuck in the same circumstance, well...
He looked at me for the longest time and scrunched his eyebrows together. "First, no matter what I do, the reason I do it is to get out of here. So don't get mad at me, okay?"
I nodded. That didn't seem too hard. "Our top priority is survival. Do whatever you need to do." What could he possibly do that would make me mad? "Unless you're going to argue with me again, I don't think that will be a problem—"
"Everything I do. Say it."
"Everything you do," I repeated. Sanosuke looked like he still didn't believe me, as if he were waiting for another outburst like earlier. He actually looked sort of scared. You know, that look where you want to make it seem like you don't need reassurance, but it's the most important thing to you. I see it in the eyes of my patients all the time. "I won't get mad at you again. I'm sorry for before."
He shrugged. "It's the heat talking."
"I'm sorry too. I didn't mean to... well, y'know." Sanosuke smiled. I never really appreciated the way his mouth can twist into so many different ways. It was like each smile was unique. He has a very expressive face, just like a little boy.
I lifted my mass of hair from the back of my neck and cringed when I felt stands sticking. Thankfully, a hot draft of air swept across the arid sand and came into contact with the cool sweat. I was given temporary relief. This was bad, no, horrendously bad. I could feel myself drying out with each minute I spent in the sun. With no water... and no food... and a giant furry blanket in the middle of a desert, I came to one conclusion.
Sanosuke started to leave my side. I followed, but he stopped me with a wave of his hand. "Stop right there. Don't come any closer," he ordered. He nonchalantly walked to the side of a giant sand dune that we happened to be beside. How \did we get here? I shrugged. Winds can pick up dunes and move them in a matter of minutes, but is that how it got here? Was I really losing my mind? The top of the giant hill formed a sharp crest, like a sand ocean with waves breaking.
He looked up into the sky, shielding his eyes with the back of his hand. The other one pointed directly at the ground. I realized that I was holding the blanket. He must have shoved it into my hands. That thing was God awful heavy...
After a moment, he walked counterclockwise around the dune and stopped, the whole time looking up at the sun.
I instantly realized what he was doing: trying to find us shade. I had a complete renewal of faith in him. My heart sank when it also struck me that it was midday; shade wouldn't be coming for a few hours. He pointed at the ground again and made a shadow with his finger.
"Time to make do on that promise, fox."
I didn't get a chance to answer. Over the thunderous din of a giant sand tidal wave crashing towards me, I heard a faint cry of "Futae-no-Kiwami". Once that fact registered in my mind, the wave of sand roared at me to get out of the way. Oddly enough, I found that I couldn't. That blanket was too heavy for me to drag, but too valuable to lose. If what Sanosuke said were true, this furball would be the only way we'd stay alive at night.
"Sano!" I cried.
Almost as quickly as it started, the sand beast fizzled out and fell to the ground harmlessly, not ten feet from where I was standing. It sounded like rain on an April afternoon, the small drop and shower kind of rain. The bulk of it plummeted, but a respectable minority was still in the air.
Flying sand. It got everywhere, my hair, my face, in between my obi and my kimono...
I came to the conclusion that sand was one of the most despicable things ever created.
I yanked the blanket out from its own thin blanket of sand and coughed once. There was a small hill where there used to be no hill. I could see Sanosuke, standing triumphantly with his hands to his sides, grinning at the ground. Even though every bone in my body wanted to run to his side and slap him, I remembered my promise. And then regretted ever opening my mouth.
Wordlessly, I climbed over the tiny hill and drug the blanket beside me. None of my hands were free to pick out the sand that clung to every part of my body. I could only shake my head rapidly while a spray fluttered from my hair. I was getting madder now that he didn't even bother to help me with this thing, but instead stood there smiling like a lunatic.
Mustn't damage the male ego.
I got closer to him and saw that the object of his affection was... a small crater in the ground. At this point he noticed my efforts, but didn't make a move to help me. I dropped the thing to the ground in weariness. I brushed off my sleeves and stood beside Sanosuke, trying to figure out what it was he was so proud of. The same time, I was seething.
"It's... it's a hole."
"Nope," he grinned. "It's our home."
"You... you... you made me get sand all over me for this?!"
"Hey, you promised you wouldn't get mad!"
I rubbed my temple with my sleeve. The lining was made of silk, and incredibly cool to the touch. "You... you did that Futae thingy again, didn't you? Didn't you!"
Sanosuke nodded happily. "Yep. Time for promise number two."
I blinked. Takani Megumi: idiot extraordinaire. Was I missing something here? 'It's a hole in the ground!' I wanted to scream. And now the idiot was asking for another promise? "What is it?" I ground my teeth to powder while outwardly remaining as calm as I could.
Looking a little bit fearful now, he held up his right hand. The bandaging was in tatters. "Fix me?"