Beef Bowl Love

Summary: Who said a person, over the age of twenty-six, couldn't find anyone to love? Well it seems unlikely for Tae to find that someone, until a mysterious man, with an equally mysterious past, walked into the Beef Bowl House.

Chapter One

DC: I don't own Kenshin

The Akabeko was running smoothly. It had been at least four years since the whole restaurant blew up, but everything seems good and in place. Business was thriving, people still came in and out, and the same people still worked there.

They were only just a little older now.

Sekihara Tae greeted more costumers in, and got them seated. Tsubame carried more trays of soup around, and Yahiko cleaned up a messy table. There wasn't really a reason for Yahiko to actually be there. But it was a lunch rush, and Tae did need extra hands.

"Yahiko! Stop with the table for a moment. We need a bowl of Soba!" Tae called over the madness of people calling out orders.

Yahiko stopped, halfway through, and nodded. He quickly headed back into the kitchen. Tsubame rushed out with three cups of sake. She set them down on the right table, and then started to finish Yahiko's half done work.

It was just in time too, because yet another person came in. He was an average height man, with black hair pulled back into a low short ponytail, and squinty green eyes. His face was kind of long, and his skin was very pale. He had a nice little smile on his face, which made Tae want to smile too. Tae quickly seated him, and waited for his order.

"Ah, just some tea would be nice, Miss." The man said. It seemed he was very polite too.

Tae nodded, and went into the back.

Yahiko brought out the soba, and handed it to the person who wanted it. He looked around and finally saw everyone was set and ready. There was just mild talking here and there. He wiped his brow, and went to help Tsubame bring in something's from the back.

Tae came back out with the man's cup of tea. She handed it to him. "Here you go sir."

"Thank you."

Tae looked around. So far everything looked okay. Well that was until some one had to start a fight. Two drunken men, with swords, started to yell, and get into each other's face.

Now the Akabeko had a policy. Basically it was you couldn't fight inside. It just gave the restaurant a bad look to it. You either had to stop, or go outside to fight.

So she rolled up her sleeves. She marched over to the closest one, and tapped his shoulder.

"Listen. No fighting inside. You have to go out!"

The man looked at her dumbfounded for a moment, but then got a little angry. He pushed her a little. "You don't tell me what to do!"

"I can, and I will!" Tae retaliated. She almost didn't want to say that.

The man got angrier, and stepped up to her. He seemed to tower over her. By now the Akabeko was quiet, and all eyes were on them. Well almost all the eyes.

"Wha' you say?" The man said. He temporarily was forgetting the other man behind him, who was just watching with interest. "You're just a low life woman. You can't tell me what to do!"

Tae took a step just a little to far. She stood up as high as she could, and stared at him in the eyes. "I can tell you what to do, and I currently am! Get out!"

The man looked taken back, slightly. The Akabeko was quiet still. No one was making a sound.

"I'm done miss. May I have some more?"

The man with the tea looked up to the two glaring at each other. It seemed he was too wrapped up in his tea to even notice the little argument going on. The drunken man looked fairly angry, and Tae looked ready for anything, or at least almost anything. The man with the tea could see the angry man's fists. They were slowly clenching up. The other was lying on his sword hilt.

The man, with the tea, did know what was to happen if the drunken man went any farther. He quickly got up, the empty teacup still in hand, and walked up to Tae's back. Right when the man lifted up his hand, readying it to swing, he grabbed Tae from the collar of her uniform, and pulled her back just in time.

The hand swung at the little table separators, breaking that one instantly. Luckily the table behind the, now broken, wall was empty. The drunken man blinked a few times. Tae looked surprised, and the Akabeko was still silent. By now Yahiko and Tsubame had come back in, and were watching. Both were too stunned to move.

The man with the tea held up his cup. "If you would excuse us. Miss, you were serving me next, am I correct?"

Tae blinked. The drunken man scratched his head, and Yahiko finally stepped up. He told the two men to leave, as nicely as he could, and made sure they walked out a few meters before they continued on with their fighting.

The man with the tea sat back down, with another little smile on his face. Tae stood looking at the damage. Soon the Akabeko was slowly coming back to life with chatter. Tae turned to the tea man, and angrily crossed her arms. No smile came to her face, this time, when she saw him smiling back.

"Why did you step in? Now you have to pay for the damages!" She said.

"But, Miss. I haven't done anything wrong." The tea man said, holding his hands up in defense.

"Those two men left, so you damaged my restaurant. You're paying for it!" She said defiantly.

The tea man laughed nervously, and pulled out whatever money he had in his pockets. It wasn't nearly enough to pay for the damages, and it was hardly enough to pay for the tea.

"Umm… Is there anyway you could wait?" The tea man asked.

Tae learned from rain checks, and I.O.U.'s. She's had enough with Sanosuke not paying his food bill either. She shook her head.

"You'll have to work for it then."

She turned around, and told Yahiko and Tsubame to watch the tea man to make sure he didn't leave. She went to the back and got her broom. There was no use in letting the mess sit there. And even though she didn't make it, it was her responsibility to clean it all up.

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People started to leave. It was nearing late afternoon when everything was settling down. The Akabeko was closing down early that Sunday evening. The tea man sat in the booth with Yahiko and Tsubame watching him intently from another across from it. It has been at least two hours since Tae left from cleaning the mess, and now she was cleaning other messes in the kitchen. It didn't mean that she forgot about the tea man though. She wasn't going to just let him leave after all of that.

"Umm…" The tea man said.

"What?" Yahiko asked.

"May…I use the bathroom?" He asked nervously. Those two cups of tea he had were really coming back at him.

"Not until Tae comes back." Yahiko said.

"Yahiko-kun, isn't that a little harsh?" Tsubame asked.

"But what will Tae do if she comes back and he isn't anywhere to be seen?" Yahiko replied. "Not even on the toilet?"

Tsubame thought he was right. The tea man sighed, and rested his head in his hands.

Finally, after another five minutes later, Tae emerged from the back.

"Alright Yahiko, you can go home. Me and Tsubame can finish up." She said.

Yahiko hung up his apron thing, and said his goodbyes. He then headed down to the dojo. Tsubame got the broom and started to sweep the floors.

"I had a talk with my father." Tae said. "He said you would have to work for three weeks."

"That's…reasonable…" The tea man was starting to get a little antsy in his seat now.

"You promise not to leave on me?" Tae asked. The tea man nodded his head. "Good, because if you do decided to run I have friends here who could hunt you down in a day."

The tea man just nodded his head nervously and painfully.

"You start tomorrow."

Tae got up, and let him leave. He got up and bowed low. "I am truly sorry about all of this. Miss…"

"The name is Sekihara Tae." Tae said.

The man lifted his body up. "Oh! And my name is Ikezawa Kiyoshi."

He bowed again, and quickly left. Tae watched him leave, and then turned to Tsubame.

"Let me guess, you took away his bathroom privileges. I heard you guys talking about it."

"Well…it was Yahiko who suggested it." Tsubame said.

Tae shook her head, and looked at the damaged wall once more. She sighed, and started to clean off the table where Ikezawa had just sat. It had been a long day, and all she really wanted to do was to rest up.

She wondered if tomorrow would be any better.

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Megumi: Hello! Yet another RK fanfic, but this time with a different character! I'm used to making Kenshin and Kaoru fanfics or Sanosuke and Megumi fanfics, but I've never tried anything else.

And Tae was a weird choice.

Anyway review if you like.

Love to all Good and Evil!

Megumi