Author-chan's notes: Tsk, tsk, tsk. Here I was saying earlier that I wouldn't be making "Taste" into an epic, but here I am making a companion piece to it. sigh Oh well. It's just that I've been getting great ideas for vigilantes lately. Face it, Rurouni Kenshin is a great anime to do vigilantes on. Now a fic in the POV of everyone's favorite tori-atama...
Disclaimer:A-chan does not own RK. If A-chan did own it, we would see more scenes of Sanosuke as a little kid. Chibi Sano is so kawaii! Same thing with Chibi Kenshin!
(Spoiler Warning: Takes place after the last OAV)
I was in a gambling hall, betting on dice. Now I know what you are thinking! I, Sagara Sanosuke, do not have an addiction to gambling! I just happen to like it...a lot. Besides, I was in China and this was the first dice game I had seen in days, if not weeks!
The dice spun in lazy circles, kinda like how Jou-chan did when she was drunk. Or like how Kenshin's eyes used to swirl whenever Jou-chan whacked him over the head. Finally, the white and black cubes stopped twirling to land on a six and a four.
Chikuso! And I bet on odds too!
I watched as the last of my cash was torn (not taken, torn, damn it!) away from me, and I tried not to kill anything. I was glaring. Angrily too. I was glaring so hard I could have burned a hole strait through the wall. Kenshin's "Battousai Death Glare" was nothing to my glower, and Saito would have gotten the shivers if he saw my glare!
Or maybe I'm exaggerating.
Yep, I'm exaggerating.
How can't I exaggerate? I mean, have you ever seen Kenshin's "Battousai Death Glare"? Damn freaky I tell ya. Especially considering the fact that the man is normally a wide-eyed, smiling, laundry-obsessive rurouni. And Saito, that freak doesn't even know the meaning of shiver! You could ship that guy off to the most northern spot in Hokkaido in the middle of winter and he'll act as if it's a warm summer day even if all you gave him to wear were those kami-forsaken tight Western pants. And, just to piss you off, Saito would be smirking that damn smirk of his with his ever-present cigarette in his mouth.
Kuso, where does he get those things?
Why doesn't he chew on something simple like a twig or a fishbone like I do? Why be an idiot and spend all that money on some stupid white cylinders that spit out smoke? I bet those things are cursed too, just like those steam engines. Well, if Saito ends up being cursed or dead cause of those things, I won't cry for him. Why does he smoke those damn cigarettes?
Smoking them make him look even freakier and eviler that he is already.
I look back at the dice game in front of me. I had lost my last coin to those cubes. I wonder if the dice are fixed. I cannot, I will not, lose!
But I already have.
But I need that money! I really did this time! And I'll be damned if I didn't get it. So I stuck my fishbone into my mouth and began to make preparations.
Heh, my fishbone.
I really can't say that. I shouldn't. That fishbone belongs to others before it belongs to me. Just like the jacket on my back belongs to others before it belongs to me.
Isn't that right, Captain Sagara?
I suppose it's a memoir to my past. No, I'm not talking about the jacket; I'm talking about the fishbone. Well, actually they both are memoirs. It was these two things that reminded me of my past ever since I left Japan, fifteen years ago, running from the government. Damn, you just beat up one freaking official and then all of a sudden you have a price on your head!
I had been wandering all over the world since then. France, England, America, Mongolia, Africa, you name it, I've probably been there. Like I said earlier, currently I was in China. It had to be at least five years since I last visited Japan. Most of the time I'm wandering. Or maybe I'm running. Running from the past.
But that doesn't mean I forget my past.
The jacket goes out to the Seikhoutai.
And the fishbone goes out to the Kenshin-gumi.
The Seikhoutai and the Kenshin-gumi, two groups that I had been part of, two groups that had been made up of more than my friends; they were my family. The Seikhoutai and the Kenshin-gumi had changed my life forever; made me into the person I am now.
I had already told Kenshin and the others the story behind my jacket. Just as the Seikhoutai, whose purpose and ideals were clean and good-hearted, were branded with the dark tarnish of evil, so was my pure white jacket marked with the kanji for evil.
They never asked the meaning behind the fishbone though. I guessed they just brushed off as one of my odd habits or something like that. Kenshin might not have. He might have seen my habit as something more. I swear, the guy can see through everything.
Damn hitokiri perceptiveness.
Knowing Jou-chan and Yahiko though, they probably did just brush it off as a habit. The fox most likely did the same thing, never knowing the true purposes behind my odd little habit.
I feel a twinge of pain, an echo of longing?
Che, just thinking about Megumi hurts.
Kitsune, did you know that I still love you despite all these years? That I still care, even though I'm stranded here in China, and you're back home in Japan? Do you think of me, as I think of you?
Probably not. A beautiful woman like you probably moved on, found a husband, created a family, and became happy. You probably didn't think of me.
After all, the fox and the rooster are a match that is doomed from the start.
Kuso, I shouldn't be having such gloomy thoughts. But how can I not think of such dark thoughts, especially after that?
NO! I can't think about that now! There are more pressing things to be dealt with. Things such as how in the seven hells was I going to get the money I needed? What could I pawn off or use to bet with to get me some fast cash. Working was out of the question. I needed money quickly, and working would take too long. I needed money fast.
It was for a ticket to a boat ride home.
After all these years I was going back to Japan, back to the home that held so many memories for me, both good and bad.
Happiness. Despair. Pain. Healing. Lost. Found. Friends. Enemies.
Heh, memories, aren't they great?
Perhaps I had run away from my past for too long.
Thinking about it now, I did what most wanderers do. Running from the past, but never forgetting it. Kenshin did the exact same thing. When he started wandering, he tried running from his past as Hitokiri Battousai. He never forgot about it though.
It's kinda hard to forget about the past when it keeps following you.
I guess I had it better off than Kenshin did. At least my past didn't try to follow me as I ran.
I shake my head. It's best not to think about that. Just thinking about that?
Damn. I'm doing it again.
I chew my fishbone a bit harder this time. Heh, my fishbone. My memoir to the Kenshin-gumi. I wonder if any of my friends can figure out how a fishbone helps me remember them.
I bet not.
Jou-chan probably doesn't remember, but the first meal that she had ever served me was grilled fish. Horrible tasting fish, but fish never the less. That was my first meal as an official member of the Kenshin-gumi. I was also eating fish when I first met Kenshin and the others at Tae's restaurant...along with everything else on the menu. Then Kenshin, that little red-haired idiot, went and served fish when he cooked for the entire Kenshin-gumi (Jou-chan, Yahiko, Megitsune, and me) for the first time.
It had to be some sort of sign.
Besides, the best meals that I ever had were when I was in the Kenshin-gumi.
But only when Kenshin cooked. Jou-chan on the other hand fed me the worst food I ever had.
With those sort of extremes what else could be a better memoir than something to food? And a fishbone was the best choice.
Besides I had to pawn off my chopsticks a long time ago.
Hey, why else do you think I always went to eat at the Kamiya dojo all the time? It's kind of hard to eat without something to eat with.
Not to mention, I never had anything to eat at my place most of the time.
I chewed on my fishbone a bit harder as I tried to figure out a way to get back my money along with a bit of surplus. I mean, China is nice and all, but I don't think I want to be stuck here all my life. I have things to do.
Damn. All this responsibility and guilt is suddenly weighing down on me. It's so damn heavy. And to believe Kenshin felt like this all the time?
No wonder the guy was short. All that emotional weight had to be dragging him down.
I looked down at the dice game before me again. Those little cubes had the power to bring me home if only...if only...
I think of the irony of my life. After spending so much time trying to run from my past, now I'm doing everything in my power to get back to it. I want to see everyone again.
Everyone in the Kenshin-gumi. Kenshin, Kaoru, Yahiko...Megumi. Hell, I wouldn't even mind seeing the psycho wolf or that stupid broom-head lackey of his. I wanted to see them all. Because if I didn't see them all soon I might...I might...
Never see them all again.
Before I always thought that no matter what, every member of the Kenshin-gumi would be fine, even when I was away. I thought all of them would last forever, being happy, getting on with life.
Then I saw Kenshin again.
I saw him in China, away from everyone else back home. Away from Jou-chan, his wife. Away from Yahiko, the son he had practically adopted, and away from Kenji, his son I had never met. And he was sick.
Really sick. As in half-dying sick.
And it scared me. It scared the hell out of me. Ever since I had known him, I had always seen Kenshin as strong...the most powerful. He was one of the few people ever to defeat me. And when I saw him, half-dead, with most of his mind gone, I felt terrified.
And it hit me just how mortal humans were.
If Kenshin was dying, then I guess that means, anyone can die.
I knew Kenshin couldn't die here, on this foreign dirt. He had to get back home, back to Jou-chan. So I pulled a couple of strings, called up a few favors, and got Kenshin aboard a ship heading to Japan. I knew his strength was fading, but as soon as he stepped into that boat I knew that he would make it back to Jou-chan.
I just knew.
When Kenshin left, I started thinking about things that I had never thought about. I thought about what if I was the one dying. Would I have been able to get back home to Japan? Or would I die in a country that was not my own, to be buried in soil that was not home, and to be mourned by no friends or family? Was I fated to die alone, in a foreign country?
I needed to go back to Japan. I didn't want to die so far away from home. And there was some unfinished business in Japan. I needed to meet Jou-chan and Kenshin's son. I needed to finish up my old score with Saito. I needed to see how grown up Yahiko had become. I needed to see Megumi one last time.
Just like Kenshin needed to see Kaoru one last time.
I smiled faintly at that. The fox and the rooster, who would have thought? But I wanted to see Megumi again. Even if she was married. Even if she had forgotten about me. I needed to see her again. And maybe?and maybe?
Maybe I'll tell her that I love her.
I no longer need to run from my past. I needed to run towards my past. No. That's not right. I needed to run towards my future. If I let my past dictate my life, then I would never be able to live with myself.
Even Kenshin ran towards his future, his future with Kaoru.
But if I go back, the government might still want to arrest me. But then again, I doubt it. It had been fifteen years since I punched that slimy, good for nothing, traitorous government swine...
...Then again that stupid corrupt Meiji government always held pathetic grudges.
I still wanted to go home though...
...Even if I got arrested...or executed.
But how to get back? I had used up my favors when I got a ship for Kenshin, and I didn't have any money for a ticket, and I couldn't swim back to Japan. So I sighed, put my fishbone into my jacket pocket, and got up and walked out to the gambling hall.
I didn't go far. I found a small alley with plenty of stray crates and junk in it. In a matter a seconds, all of it was ash and splinters.
Futae No Kiwami plus a few inanimate objects equals a perfect way to blow off steam.
And the fox-lady didn't think I could add.
"Very impressive," a voice using accented Chinese commented from behind me. I turned around quickly, surprised. I recognized that accent! The man was Japanese, just like me.
The man I faced was older than I was, probably somewhere around Saito's age or Kenshin's age. His face had a few lines around his hazel eyes and his dark hair was streaked with gray. He, like me, had a few traces of stubble around his chin. His build wasn't too different from my own, making me guess that he had experience with hand to hand brawling, but when I squinted my eyes, I noticed the calluses on his palms, the kind you can only get from handling a weapon. Was this guy a swordsman?
"Who the hell are you?" I asked in clear Japanese, distrustful of the man. I wasn't quite sure who he was, and I'm pretty sure I've never met him, but you can never be too sure. He might be one of my old enemies from back home...or one of Kenshin's.
The guy gave a blink of surprise. He must have been surprised at hearing his native language here in China. Suddenly the man laughed good-naturedly, a friendly smile crossing his face.
"Sanosuke," the man said, continuing to grin.
"How the hell do you know my name?" I snarled, glaring at the man. The guy blinked in surprise...again.
"No, that's my name," the man said slowly, looking confused.
"My name is Sanosuke," I told him. The man laughed again.
"Who would think that after all this time I would finally meet a fellow countryman who happens to have the same name as I do!" the man laughed, shaking his head in disbelief, "Don't worry. I'm not here to cause trouble."
"Oh," I blinked. This guy's name was also Sanosuke?weird.
"So what's the problem, Sanosuke-san?" the other Sanosuke asked, adding extra stress and a grin to my name, "I'm guessing there is something wrong that would cause you to slaughter poor defenseless crates."
I told him about my problem. I didn't know why I was so open with him. Maybe it was the fact that I had met someone from my own country after all this time. Maybe it's because we shared the same name.
Or maybe there was something about him that reminded me of someone.
After listening to me the man laughed.
"Well if you need money for a ticket, that's easy to fix," the other Sanosuke said, "I can give you some."
"Why would you do something like that for me?" I asked, slightly suspicious, "We just met."
"Yeah, but you remind me of someone," the other Sanosuke answered, "And besides, maybe by helping you out, I can gain some good karma. Maybe atone for my past sins. But if it makes you so uncomfortable getting money for free, I'll ask for some payment from you."
"And what is that?" I demanded.
"Your jacket," the other Sanosuke answered, "The kanji on it reminds me of a phrase that I like."
I looked at him in shock for a while. Sell my jacket? But I've had it for years! And it means too much to me?But then again, what's waiting in Japan means just as much.
In a matter of moments, I had a full wallet, and a bare back.
Gomen, Captain Sagara, I hope you can forgive me. It was for a good cause, promise.
Just as the other Sanosuke was about to go, I called out to him.
"Oi!" I yelled, just as he was about to exit the alley, "What was the phrase my jacket reminded you of? Maybe I heard it before."
"Aku Soku Zan," the other Sanosuke answered with a smirk. And then, he disappeared.
Did he just say?
Note to self: once I get home, strangle a certain creepy-eyed wolf for answers.
Before too long, I was on a ship back home. The money that Shinsengumi Sanosuke gave me was enough to pay for a ticket and buy a shirt. At least I wasn't going to freeze before I got back to Japan.
I stood on deck, thinking about all the things that I wanted to do when I got home. Before I knew it, my hand started searching my pocket for my fishbone.
What the?It wasn't there! Kuso, what could have happened to it?! It's not like a fishbone could get up and walk away...Unless.
I left it in my jacket pocket. The same jacket I gave to that Shinsengumi with my name!
Damn. It's not like I can do anything about it now. Besides, maybe it's time I gave the fishbone up, just like I gave up the jacket.
It's good to remember the past, but you can't cling so tightly on to it that you forget the future.
Well, wherever my fishbone and jacket are, they're probably serving that other Sanosuke better than they helped me.
I mean, as a Shinsengumi he's got to have lots of problems.
Just look at Saito.
Grinning to myself, I head back to my quarters. I just needed to wait until we got to Japan and saw everyone again.
Hey, kitsune, did you hear that?
Sagara Sanosuke is coming home...
Tori-atama-"rooster head"; Sanosuke's nickname, referring to his hair
Chibi-little person (particularly talking about the squashed up form that anime characters often go into)
Jou-chan-"Little miss"; Sano's nickname for Kaoru
Chikuso-all-purpose curse word (A-chan's second favorite phrase to yell at her computer!)
Battousai-Kenshin's nickname when he was an assassin; refers to the fact that Kenshin is a master of battoujutsu (sword-drawing techniques)
Hokkaido-Northern island of Japan; it is renown for being very, very cold
Kami-"god" or "gods"
Kuso-all-purpose curse word; shorter version of "Chikuso"
Seikhoutai-army made up of mostly farmers and merchants; it was betrayed by the government and used as scapegoats; most of the members were killed, Sanosuke is one of the survivors
Kenshin-gumi-"Group Kenshin"; contains Kaoru, Kenshin, Sano, Yahiko, and Megumi (sometimes Aoshi, Misao, and even Saito are considered members)
Kanji-Chinese characters used for writing
Che-all-purpose curse word; not as strong as Chikuso though (I think)
Kitsune-"fox"; Megumi's nickname
Dojo-martial arts school/training grounds
Futae no Kiwami-"Double Level Limit"; Sanosuke's main attack taught to him by Anji; nearly anything hit by the attack gets turned into dust
Aku Soku Zan-"Kill Evil Instantly"; motto of the Shinsengumi
Shinsengumi-"Newly selected corps"; a police force that served the shogunate during the Bakumastu; they kept order in Kyoto and had 10 squads (at its height, it had about 300 members); their headquarters were located in Mibu causing them to have the nickname "The Wolves of Mibu"
Shimatta-all purpose curse word (A-chan's first favorite phrase to yell at her computer! )
Author-chan's notes: Finally! Finished! Hope you like it! I'm currently working on a Saito vigilante. I need to get off my but and finish it though...I'm such a lazy bum...
Oh, if anyone is wondering who that guy who Sanosuke met up with was, it was Harada Sanosuke. Harada Sanosuke was the 10th captain of the Shinsengumi. Unlike many of the other captains, Harada used a spear in battle. Harada is accepted to have died in the Ueno War during the Boshin Wars, but legend has it he was able to escape to China and become the leader of a bandit army. Sagara Sanosuke is based off of Harada, so I thought it would be fun if our favorite tori-atama met up with his namesake.
You know, I've been thinking. Since our tori-atama is based of a Shinsengumi captain, and Saito is a Shinsengumi captain, and since Shinsengumi captains had to work together and get along (and likely become friends/comrades), does that mean it's possible that Sanosuke (our favorite tori-atama) and Saito might become friends? O.O Well, stranger things have happened. Next thing you'll know, the most infamous assassin from the Bakumastu will be washing laundry and playing with little kids...Wait a second. That's already happened in RK...Oro.
Well, please R&R!!!