Now, if you're just reading for the omake, skip on ahead to the big bold letters that say Omake of Doom. ;p
My guilty confession is that I sat down and started writing this one day, and to begin with I was only thinking a couple of chapters ahead at most. I always seem to tell stories this way; don't know if anyone else does the same, but I'm really bad at sitting down and plotting things out. My writing tends to sort of … write itself, after a while, with my brain nodding wisely in the background and occasionally throwing in the odd idea…
Some scenes and story elements I didn't end up including because the story took an unexpected sharp left turn from where it was going. Calger-san informing me that the dock was in Osaka and not Kyoto was one; found that out in Chapter 14, ack! Originally Kenshin was going to cheerfully fake being drugged until they took him onto land and then attempt to escape from there, but that doesn't work nearly so well if they have to transport him for at least another day after that. But that worked out in the end; if Calger hadn't informed me of my geographical ignorance, there wouldn't have been the mass combat scene on the boat, which was painful to write, but an incredible amount of fun despite that.
The other major change I ended up having was at the end of Chapter 24. Originally, the Kenshingumi et al weren't going to be stopped on their escape from the grounds, and they'd run off with Kenshin so that he could recover somewhat. There'd be a small downtime, the Oniwabanshu would investigate and find out what Yamato was up to and attempt to stop him, Yoshida would track down Kaoru and uh … 'have words' about his broken fingers … and in the end, Kenshin would sigh, get dressed, and sneak back to Bayushi's estate voluntarily to say 'look, here I am, you didn't have to kidnap me, now let's sort this out.' Insert confrontation.
And I couldn't make it work, in any way that wasn't ridiculously anticlimactic. ( -- So sayeth the wise Calger-san, also.) Too much information, too much plot, and frankly once Kenshin was rescued the tension would be gone anyway. So the plot was streamlined back to the rescue … and then I had so much fun writing Chapter 26. (No really, I did. Despite the wails my housemate could hear at three in the morning.)
In any case, all the plot threads matched and were resolved bar one. With the plot streamlined, it meant that the small side issue of Yoshida was left by the wayside. Technically, this still makes sense – a swordsman wouldn't try for a rematch unless he could actually hold his sword, and given the timing of events, he really shouldn't be coming back until the beginning stages of Jinchuu… and honestly, I think Kaoru (a fit, non-limping Kaoru) would find Yoshida a challenge, but she could win. So I thought: is it that important? Kenshin would worry about it; he's Kenshin, that's what he does. In the end, I think Tanabata Jasmine stands by itself as a story even with that small part unresolved.
And it's not like I don't have (vague) plans to resolve it. Some people have asked if I've considered doing a sequel to TJ to play with the characterizations I've set up, and the short answer is: yes. Not a sequel, as that implies something on the same scale as this story, and anything I write will be much smaller in scope … but a chance to play with relationships, characterization and romantic tension, using a minor threat as a catalyst? … so if you're disappointed Kaoru and Yoshida (and Yahiko and Yoshida, for that matter) never got the foreshadowed rematch, I do have ideas, but it's low on my list of priorities right now. I will write it given enough interest, however.
Anyway, that's the major point that I needed to explain. Some people might have forgotten Yoshida existed, but I know some are a bit disappointed he never showed up again. I haven't forgotten him.
Some people did have questions. So … obligingly, I have answers.
Random questions. Look, I answered them all!
I still don't get why Aoshi was holding back. Was it out of respect for Kenshin?
Pretty much. Kenshin earned a great deal of respect from Aoshi in the Kyoto arc when he showed Aoshi that there was another way forward in life other than self destructive bloodshed. Given that Kenshin has a vow not to kill, Aoshi isn't likely to leave a trail of corpses leading up to Kenshin's cell door. It's a rescue that Kenshin would not have appreciated very much, I'd imagine…
What flowers does Kenshin buy for Kaoru?
Uh … blue ones:sweats: Probably violets, definitely not irises. Absolutely not irises. (I sort flowers the same way I sort cars, by the way: by colour. Hehe.)
Exactly what did it mean (far beyond the simple act of bringing a valued possession back) to Kenshin when Kaoru challenged Aoshi for the right to carry his sakabatou?
It wasn't specifically Kaoru challenging Aoshi; more than that, the single-minded determination Kaoru showed in dragging that sword everywhere she went for a chance to give it back to him gave Kenshin a better insight into how much she actually felt for him. Made him feel all warm and gooey inside, hehe. (Er. In a manly samurai sort of way, I guess…)
For those of us who've read this fic and reviewed it, our view of your efforts is in plain sight but in the end, we write for ourselves. So I wonder now you're done, are you pleased with it was it worth the journey?
Absolutely! I had a great deal of fun. TJ was more a learning experience for me, too … I started remembering how to write again! You can tell – there's a huge difference in style between Chapter 1 and Chapter 28. (Well, I did warn people I'd start off shy…) We do write for ourselves, and TJ is no exception, but I have to say that a lot of enjoyment I got from this was the reaction from the reviewers to some of the things I wrote. If you people hadn't been so encouraging, I might not have been so fast, LOL. Didn't want to disappoint …
If, by any chance, I was inspired to write a fill-in scene or some other such addendum for this fic, would that be permitted?
:chokes on her drink: O.O;; Sure! Be my guest! … That honestly wasn't a question I was expecting, but I've got no problem with other work being done with/for/about TJ as long as I know about it…if you actually get inspired, just email me with details and such. Should I mention I find that really flattering? Hehe.
Lastly, after all that, I have a bunch of thank yous to give.
First and foremost, to my housemate Undead Gamer, who to date hasn't read TJ, but has shown a strange fondness for reading my reviews. He's had to put up with my random screeching and frustration, and he's helped me go through the physical motions of most of these fight scenes to make sure they work. He's a neverending source of niftiness, and it's his computer I wrote it on. Heh.
To BakaBokken, for offering to beta and then doing a pretty nifty job of reassuring me that what I just sent her wasn't a pile of trash …
To haku baikou, for putting TJ up on her site and giving me so many more readers…
To Regan84, for being my very first reviewer (not to mention the 750th, hehe.) And for the email conversation circa Chapter 14 in which she helped me come up with ideas for the boat fight…
To Calger459, for stopping me from making a pretty hefty geographical error, giving me advice on some of the later chapters and breaking my horrid writer's block on Chapter 25. (not to mention the nifty, nifty fanart!)
To Sekihoutai for the fanart of Aoshi and Misao. (Thanks!)
To the guys at the club, for the day we all sat around in the front room and discussed the logistics of Pistol Vs. Rice Bowl.
To those who gave me feedback on random different chapter sections along the way: BakaBokken, Calger459, MrAbyssal, Clueless Nu, xZig-Zagx, misaoshiru, padawan-travina, Jane Drew, JackSlack and others.
And of course, to the rest of you, for just reading my work. Because I'm hideously insecure, and so constant reading and reviewing helps to remind me I'm doing a decent job, hehe.
That's all I have to say. I talk a lot, you know.
One last bit on being insecure ;p … I make no apologies for the omake, it was written either while I was sick, or while I was sleep deprived. It really is just a bit of mockery, but your sense of humour might be totally different to mine… either way, hope you find at least part of it funny …
:sneaks off to her rock while nobody's looking:
OMAKE OF DOOM!
Kenshin: I think this author missed the memo. Assassin of the revolution, fastest battoujutsu master in the west? Er, east? So where's my sword?
Kenshin: … I'm so going to smack you down for that if we have a sequel.
Senzo: There's a sequel now? Am I in it?
Kenshin: In a jailed, flashback kinda way, sure.
Kaoru: Much as I really shouldn't be the voice of reason, this isn't how the story started, you know.
Kenshin: Hai, Kaoru-dono, but it started with you trying to cook, and we all know—
Kaoru: DON'T say it. -brandishes bokken- And bring me my tofu!
Kenshin: Eek! Hai, Kaoru-dono! -scurries off and never returns-
Sano: I'll do the gallant thing and go look for him.
Yahiko: Don't be stupid. This is Kenshin we're talking about. It's not like he'd accept candy from strangers or anything…
Senzo: … that was easy.
Yoshida: Now can I say 'yoink'?
Senzo: Not until you've chased him dramatically through the pouring rain and given the author a good excuse to leave all that pretty red hair down for the rest of the story.
Yoshida: Psh. Fangirls.
Sano: Well, your options are either that he ran away, or he's in a lot of trouble with bad guys.
Kaoru: I can't think of a single reason for him to run away on Tanabata night when I'm cooking. Look, let's ask that innocent merchant who lives in the woods.
Senzo: Hello, innocent merchant at your service. There are absolutely no redheaded samurai around here, particularly not snoring on a futon on the other side of this carefully closed door.
Kaoru: Okay. -leaves-
Senzo: … that worked?
Sano: I can't believe it, either.
Kaoru: Oh, shut up. Just for that, I'm going to delay you pounding answers out of Senzo by twisting my ankle.
Sano: Seeing as you oh-so-conveniently fell next to the tree Kenshin nearly got skewered on, I'll forgive you.
Kaoru: Well, at least by the discovery of his hair tie we now know something very important.
Sano: His pretty red hair is down?
Kaoru: … you sure there's not something you're keeping from us?
Sano: Not in this fic. So what's the plan now?
Kaoru: How about I go home and give Yahiko a massive guilt trip while you go back to the innocent merchant for the predictable confrontation and ambush?
Senzo: You forgot to mention the predictable 'run away while you get stabbed' bit…
Sano: I hate you.
Yoshida: Whee! -skips through the marketplace- I have a sword!
Yoshida: Hey, that's my line! Wonder if strangling a kid puts this past a PG rating?
Yahiko: Oh, well, guess I had the spotlight for a couple of pages. Kaoru! Tag, you're it!
Kaoru: Hyaaah! Eat splintered bokken!
Yoshida: -runs off crying-
Yahiko: NOW we can go get Kenshin! The guy's nothing without his sword after all!
Kenshin: Do you mind?
Kenshin: Mental note to self – learn to hold alcohol. Mind telling me where my gi has gone?
Senzo: Had to take it for medicinal purposes.
Kenshin: …any reason I couldn't have had it back afterward?
Senzo: None that I can think of. Oh, your sandals are gone, too. For uh … orthopaedic purposes.
Kenshin: … I think there's a fangirl at work here somewhere…
Senzo: Actually, I discovered this thing called E-Bay.
Kenshin: You're selling my clothes?
Senzo: Don't get tetchy! Anyway, you're nothing without your sword.
Kenshin: Eesh, each and every person … well, this chair leg says otherwise!
Senzo: EEK! -crumple-
Yoshida: Give up! You're nothing without--
Kenshin: Oh, shut up. Scuse me while I make an impossible-but-dramatic leap off your ship to safety.
Yoshida: How come nobody else can do that?
Yamato: He's the hero. Overwhelming odds and ridiculous breakage of the laws of physics are his specialty.
Kenshin: Oh yeah? How come you get to smack me in the head with a rifle, then?
Yamato: Because I'm the new character being established as the villain everyone loves to hate.
Kenshin. Oh. Darn. -falls-
Senzo: Well, that was a job well done. I have my money, what could possibly go wrong? Hmm, horoscope reads "You will be rescued by a tall, dark and handsome man." … ew.
Senzo: EEK! Curse Yamato's sudden yet inevitable betrayal!
Aoshi: Well, I suppose I'll save you.
Senzo: My hero!
Aoshi: Where is Himura Battousai?
Senzo: ... do you always begin conversations this way?
Aoshi: Pretty much.
Senzo: Huh. Well, I uh … don't know.
Okina: I have a tray of nasty pointy things.
Senzo: Oh, you mean that Battousai. Here, I'll give you directions.
Bayushi: How come my deep and meaningful conversation was skipped?
Kenshin: We already covered that at the bottom of Chapter 20.
Bayushi: Oh. Well … that was yesterday. I'm going to kill you again.
Kenshin: No you're not.
Bayushi: Why not this time?
Kenshin: Because my friends won't get here for another half an hour, and it won't nearly be dramatic enough.
Bayushi: Oh, good call. -leaves-
Yamato: Bad call! Get back in there and kill him!
Bayushi: But I haven't had my dark and brooding moments alone!
Yamato: Fine, I'll do it.
Kenshin: Geez, can't I finish my rice first?
Yamato: No. I'm evil like that.
Kenshin. You sure are. The audience is just gonna love it when you die off.
Yamato: Pft. I won't die.
Kenshin: Will too.
Yamato: This gun says otherwise. Besides, you're nothing without your sword.
Kenshin: Oh, for—what is it with you people? Where does it say I can't be good with my hands?
Yamato: I'm going to pretend there's no double meaning to that. Die, Battousai!
Kenshin: Shan't. Try the rice, it's delicious.
Kenshin: Want some water to go with that?
Kenshin: Strange, think I hear the sound of cheering from somewhere.
Misao: Hah! The guards have fallen for my cunning plan! Now that I've lured them out with my clever distraction, Kenshin has a clear run to freedom!
Misao: Shut up.
Kaoru: Ack! Gunshots!
Sano: This calls for a swift entrance! … after you, brat.
Yahiko: That's the second wall I've been thrown at this story.
Sano: It's screen time, isn't it?
Kaoru: Is it just me or did it get awfully chaotic all of a sudden?
Sano: Actually, if you listen real hard you can probably hear the author sobbing.
Kenshin: Sneak, sneak, sneak
Guard: No point sneaking when you smell of blood, you know.
Kenshin: Nine days without a bath and you think it's the blood you can smell?
Guard: I wasn't gonna go there.
Kenshin: No-one else did either. Oh yeah: BOO!
Guard: Gasp! You're Battousai!
Kenshin: No, I'm some other half-naked guy with long red hair and a cross scar. Nice to meet you, gotta run.
Sano: Kenshinnnnn! Here, boy!
Kenshin: If I wasn't being monkeypiled by a lynch mob right now, I'd slap him for that. Gah … medic?
Misao: Don't worry! I'll save you!
Kenshin: And thus the last shreds of my pride are stripped away by genki rescue.
Sano: You think that's bad, just wait until I have to carry you home.
Kenshin: Ick, you're right. Any chance we can have a dramatic showdown with the enemy so I can get some of my self-respect back before then?
Guards: Stop or we'll shoot!
Kenshin: Thank you.
Bayushi: Okay. Now I'm going to kill you. : Okay. I'm going to kill you.
Kenshin: No, you're not.
Bayushi: This again! I'm beginning to suspect you're delaying me from killing you on purpose.
Kenshin: Can't think why.
Bayushi: Well, your clever words won't work this time! There is nothing you can say to deter me from killing you!
Kenshin: How about the words 'honourless' and 'scumbag'?
Bayushi: ...okay, you might delay me a bit.
Kenshin: In light of the fact that the two of us attempting to have a duel in our condition would be just plain laughable, want to call each other names instead?
Kaoru: Did we just get reduced to the peanut gallery again?
Sano: With three seasons of anime, you should be used to that by now.
Aoshi: Speak for yourself. Fear my ninja math skills!
Misao: You know, if you count my mistake a little earlier, this is actually the third time I've saved Kenshin's ass in the last hour.
Kenshin: And let us never speak of it again.
Kenshin: Well, now all is said and done, I've decided to drop by and tell you how much you suck.
Senzo: What? Just because I lied to you, drugged you, had my evil minions break your collarbone, drugged you again, locked you in a dark room for days then sold you to your enemies, you're going to sulk?
Kenshin: You forgot the general insults, playful threats and sword stealing, not to mention your livelihood comes awfully close to an activity that strikes a chord with my angst-ridden past.
Senzo: Pfft. Baby.
Kenshin: Well, I'm a better man than you. I won't hold it against you.
Senzo: I got twelve thousand for your sandals.
Kenshin: Changed my mind. Rot in hell!
Aoshi: So, how do you feel?
Kenshin: Like some rabid fangirl came up with an intricate plot just so she could strip me half naked for twenty chapters.
Aoshi: Don't forget how she got all your pretty red hair down.
Kenshin: That seems to happen more often than not in stories these days…
Aoshi: Well, it's over now. Not like you have to go through this again, right?
Kenshin: Not unless I go on another tofu run. Funny, that white-haired lunatic in the glasses over there seems to be giggling insanely at me.
Aoshi: Eh, ignore him. What would he know?
Kenshin: Point. -checks manga script- Let's just go home and get ready for Jinchuu. Huh. Wonder what that's about…
Lines shamelessly lifted in places from such works of art as Princess Bride and Firefly. Have a good year, guys. Don't hurt me. My sense of humour is twisted.