Author's Notes: RuroKen characters are not mine. They belong to Watsuki-sama... I like borrowing them though. I like hearing your comments so please review or send me an e-mail at Thanks for taking the time to read this. I appreciate it.

Protecting What's Mine

Chapter One: Clearing the Clinic

By: magawa

"Che kitsune-onna! Do ya gotta tie it so tight?" Sano yelped wincing.

"Of course I do tori-atama. How else am I going to discourage you from getting into fights?" Her tone dropped teasingly, flirtatiously, "Kami-sama, if I didn't know better I'd say you get into fights just so you can see me everyday!"

It's a good thing she doesn't know better, Sano thought impishly allowing a broad grin to cross his handsome features. "And if I didn't know better I'd say you enjoy seeing me everyday," Sano teased back.

Good thing he doesn't know better, Megumi thought sourly her face turning pensive for the barest fraction of a second before a rowdy yell from outside the clinic broke her train of thought. Megumi rolled her eyes exasperatedly.

"Friends of yours?" Sano asked wryly.

"Hardly," Megumi snorted. "Just baka patients I see almost as often as you," Megumi answered disgustedly. "They never want Genzai-sensei and they're always drunk," Megumi ranted heatedly. "The first time there was NOTHING wrong with them – so I sent them away. They came back twenty minutes later all busted up and they never pay! I just want to strangle them!"

"How many?" Sano asked in a low voice that made Megumi's stomach drop and her blood run both hot and cold alternatively.

"About seven." Megumi answered quietly, all her fight gone as she watched Sano get angry on her behalf.

"Hey what are you getting all upset for?" Megumi asked as light-heartedly as she could manage. "Aw... Sano-kun must be jealous!" she laughed, fox-ears appearing instantly.

"Uh...I'm not jealous or upset or anything," Sano said quickly. "I think I smell a fight thought – across town," he added quickly after glancing at her doubtful features. "Well see ya later kitsune-onna!" he called cheerfully.

Gotta get out, gotta get out, he chanted in his head, before I beat the shit out of them myself... on second thought, his mind turned, I think I'll stay and listen a little... Sano swiveled and marched back inside. Genzai-sensei met him inside and nodded knowingly while Sano muttered some excuse about needing to lie down and rest. Genzai-sensei showed him the room next to the one where Megumi was examining her 'patients.' Sano quietly slid open the shoji that partitioned off the two rooms so he could eavesdrop easier. Genzai-sensei smiled and left quietly.

Sano inched closer to the crack in the partition so that he could hear better, which really wasn't necessary since the occupants on the other side were drunkenly loud and obnoxious.

"Aw c'mon Megumi-chan. Don't be so cold!' on voice cried in false pathos.

"This is rally more than bakas like you deserve," Megumi bit out.

"When you gonna marry me Megumi-chan?" another said, "I need a fiery woman like you in my bed."

Sanosuke growled softly on the other side of the partition. Let her handle it. Its not like they've touched her or anything...

Megumi bit back a harsh fox bark. "Like I'd ever marry you Jinenji! I bet you mother threw you to the wolves! Pity the wolves threw you back," she said scornfully amid the howls of laughter of the other men.

Good hit kitsune-onna! Sanosuke cheered silently.

"Yes, well, I was hoping for a fox, not a wolf..." Jinenji trailed in mock, yet suggestive seriousness before another of his friends broke in.

"Megumi-chan when are you gonna let me play doctor on you?"

"Play doctor? Is that what you think I do?" Megumi snapped angrily.

"Hai! Who ever heard of an onna-sensei?" another jumped in.

Sanosuke could practically feel the blood in his veins burning and knotted his hands together to keep them from moving of their own volition. They were just itching to get around some of those necks.

"I bet you're really a geisha aren't you, Megumi-chan?" one of the earlier voices laughed amid much approval.

"I bet I could pay you better than the old man does..." the one called Jinenji added slyly.

"I am no geisha," Megumi began hotly. "And even if I was," she continued, "I'd have better sense than to go off with you!"

"Aw, Megumi-chan that's mean!" Jinenji pouted reaching out to touch Megumi's backside as she turned to get another bandage.

Megumi's short shriek and the word "hentai" were instantaneously followed with Sano's presence.

"Sanosuke," Megumi breathed both grateful and afraid of his being there.

"Gentlemen..." Sano ground out a little too politely to be sincere. "I have some business with you all, but particularly with Jinenji..." he said suggestively cracking his knuckles, "which one of you would that be?" he asked arching a brow and glaring at each one in turn.

The drunken men paled instantly, Zanza, the fighter for hire, had a reputation as a bad-ass, not someone you deliberately get into fights with. Six unsteady hands pointed towards and even unsteadier hand pointing anywhere but at himself.

"Good." Sano said with deliberation. "I'll take care of business with you all later. This isn't exactly the place for the business I had in mind," he said coolly with only a hint of the deep threat in his voice. His words were more than threat enough.

His next words were gentle and directed at Megumi. "Are you finished with these losers?"

"Hai." She said, fox-like gleam returning to her once frightened eyes at the thought of her own mini-revenge. "Except for Jinenji... I hadn't finished with him..." she trailed.

"Fine," Sanosuke said firmly. "I want the rest of you to pay up and get the hell out."

Jinenji sat frozen watching while Megumi received payment for services rendered. One-by-one, Megumi's torturers backed out of the clinic under the unforgiving eyes of Zanza the fight merchant. Sano never turned his back on the retreating scum but the kanji on his back seemed to burn right through and was as plain as day to any that had eyes to see.

Visibly trembling, Jinenji sat awaiting Megumi's attention. Megumi silently finished bandaging Jinenji while Sano watched disinterestedly glaring daggers at the now sickly looking man.

"Eh Megumi-sensei," Sano started, using, perhaps for the first time, her respectful title, "Your patient is looking a little pale, perhaps he needs some of your medicine too..."

"You're right Sagara-san," Megumi replied returning the respect. She reached for a small jar of pills from off the shelf. "Take two of these tonight with dinner – no sake – and then take one with each meal until you run out of the pills. Oh and would you do me a favor?" Megumi asked sweetly.

With Sano watching on, Jinenji just gulped and stammered, "Sure Megumi-chan, er.. –san, er... -sensei! I'll... uh, do my best to uh, help you with whatever you need!"

"Oh good," Megumi cooed, tone artificially sweet before hardening dangerously. "Tell your friends not to come back unless it's an emergency. You're not going to pull any more stunts like this, not you or your friends. I'm sure Zanza here will see to that. That is," she added considering, "if his business with you allows second chances at all..."

By this time Jinenji was past pale and swiftly turning a jaundiced yellow. Sanosuke's slight movement was more than enough to get Jinenji to remove himself from the clinic. Sanosuke, eyes still blazing made to go after him, but was stopped by Megumi's gentle touch.

"Baka." She said softly. "I just patched him up and if you go and rip him to pieces then he can't warn his friends to stay away," she reasoned, gently tugging on his jacket.

He turned and grinned wryly seeing her pleading expression.

"Sumanu for scaring away your customers, kitsune-onna, but those guys were pissing me off and I..." Sano dropped off when he saw Megumi eyeing him speculatively.

"And just how did you know the exact moment to burst in?" Megumi asked in the same dangerously sweet voice she had used with Jinenji.

"Well, uh... I, uh, was feeling woozy so, uh, Genzai-sensei showed me the room next door and they were loud enough to hear everything!" he ended, more confidently than he had started.

"Is that so?" Megumi quipped. "Then why didn't you break in when they were making fun of me as a doctor?!?"

"Che! Easy kitsune! I didn't want to step on your toes! You can usually handle yourself just fine. You don't need my help to prove a point." He laughed remembering Megumi's threat to Jinenji, tears beginning to come to his eyes.

Megumi poked him in the side viciously, "Eh, tori-atama I don't think I have medicine for the mental illness you're displaying... Kami-sama, what's so funny?"

"You," Sanosuke laughed, "threatening that poor man unmercifully..." Sanosuke continued doubled over laughing until Megumi was grinning too. "I thought he was going to wet his pants..." Sano finished, wiping the moisture from his eyes.

"It wouldn't be so funny if I were threatening you, now would it?" Megumi countered, laughter sparking in her eyes.

"Oi, kitsune – you and I are alike – all bark and mostly no bite, ne?

"Hai, hai," she laughed. "Well, I suppose I owe you dinner, at least, ne?"

"Hai. Dinner sounds more than fair."

"Okay then, let's go. It's about time to close up the clinc anyway. I don't think Genzai-sensei will mind. I bet he already knows what happened. He knows a lot more than he lets on anyway," she added, more to herself than for him to hear.

"You go on and close up and get started for home and I'll meet you there. I told Jou-chan I'd be around for supper tonight but I think I'd be safer eating with you..."

"Okay, okay," Megumi laughed, letting him leave. She puttered around the clinic preparing and stocking for the next day, all the while considering what to feed her tori-atama.

To be continued....

Appendix of Japanese terms

1. –sama – equivalent in respect to "Lord" or "Master" – utmost respect

2. che – Sano's particular curse word – rather like "Hell!"

3. kitsune-onna – literally "fox-woman" or "fox-lady." This is Sano's name for Megumi

4. tori-atama – literally "rooster-head." Megumi's name for Sano.

5. Kami-sama – God

6. baka – idiot / moron

7. –kun – used for younger boys or men one is familiar with. Megumi uses this ending to tease Sano

8. –sensei – this is generally added to the end of someone's name, this means doctor or master

9. –chan – this is generally an endearing term used for small children or girls/women someone is friends with. When Jinenji and his friends use it, it is insulting because it is too familiar.

10. onna-sensei – lady-doctor

11. geisha – courtesan or prostitute

12. hentai – pervert

13. hai – yes

14. kanji – a character in the Japanese system of writing

15. sake – popular alcoholic beverage in Japan – rice wine

16. –san – equivalent in respect to Mr. or Ms.

17. sumanu – a more masculine form of "I'm sorry"

18. ne – generally means 'right' – it is usually asking for affirmation.

19. Jou-chan – Sano's name for Kaoru, affectionately "missy"