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A Bowler In the Sun

By

Rem-chan

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There were some things Yahiko never thought he'd do. Quite a few, actually. Lose a fight (nowadays, anyway), wear a kimono (already broke the apron rule when he was ten, sadly), put sugar on fermented soybeans (that would be far too anachronistic, even for him), shave his head, etc. He liked to think that he was set in his ways but changeable, provided that he had the chance to review all changes beforehand, and properly steel himself for what was coming. After all the chaos and upheaval in his early years – and even in recent years – he was a man (yes, a man, age 20, thank you very much) who liked to be in control of his life.

What really bothered him was that he was pretty sure he'd lost control sometime this morning. After all, why would he, he, so feared in Tokyo now, be sneaking through the back alleys and side streets, slinking through the shadows like some dirty thief? It just didn't enter his realm of thinking, yet here he was, huddling behind a water barrel as a fish monger ambled by, toting his stinking wears. Truthfully, Yahiko was grateful that the merchant of the sea was distracting the sparse smattering of people on this particular street. If he could just inch a little bit further, he might be able to clamor up those boxes and onto a roo—

"Oh, excuse me, sir! Sir! I was wondering where you could direct me to the port? I'm afraid I've gotten lost."

oh no, not again.

Grimacing, Yahiko slowly stood up straight, turning to face the distressed person who had addressed him. It seemed it was an older man, all pasty skin and somewhat limp blond hair. Great. Another foreigner. What Yahiko just could not understand was WHY they kept asking him for directions. Did he look like he spoke whatever language they were speaking!

Okay, okay, so the suit was misleading. The newest fashion – in Europe, anyway – all neat and trim in beige and brown, lapels freshly pressed – whatever that meant – and a pert little bow tie nearly strangling him. The loafers were tight and uncomfortable, the fine gloves irking and strange, and the slick bowler hat nearly falling off his head every time he moved. Seemed his hair didn't go good with Western headwear, not that he would care in any other case but this.

Yahiko figured he was going to make it to the Akabeko in one piece and with his dignity intact or die trying.

"I can't help you," Yahiko said flatly, wishing there was some universal way to say 'leave me alone'. He wasn't a standoffish or snappish person – at least not anymore – but this was getting very, very annoying. "Try someone else."

The man blinked at him for a moment, what Yahiko had labeled the standard response. However, he started sweating directly after, eyes flicking around as he obviously tried to think, and think quickly.

Here it comes…

"N…Nihon…go…gâ joo…jôzu desu…ne…," the man seemed to mull over this a moment, then smiled brightly, nodding his head and beaming at Yahiko as if he'd just managed to perform a Ryuu Tsui Sen without any practice at all. "Nihongo gâ jôzu desu ne! Quite excellent, I have to say. Now where might the port be?"

Yahiko covered his face with his hands.

However, utter despair was not the way to deal with this. If he was going to be wearing this kind of…stuff occasionally, he had to learn proper way to get foreigners off his back. Or at least, some way that did not involve a sword, or whatever blunt object might come to mind. He would master this clothing, and all the trials and tribulations that came with it.

Why? Well…let's just say that the more Yahiko saw of Tsubame's new Akabeko uniform, the more he liked it. 'Liked' didn't even begin to describe it, really. Tsubame had always been cute, sweet, strong, innocent…so many, many things. But add the frilled black dress, and the pristine white apron, and the also-frilled gloves, and…something just clicked in Yahiko's brain.

As well as…something downstairs.

So, as a kind of deal, Tsubame would wear the uniform more often, and usually in private, for…specific reasons. In exchange, Yahiko would wear this, which she also seemed to find appealing for some odd reason. He thought he'd heard Megumi mumbling something about a 'fetish', but not knowing what that was, he had decided to ignore it. All that mattered was that if he made it to the Akabeko wearing this, Tsubame would come home in the prototype of the little cap they were thinking of adding to the dress.

In only the little cap. And maybe the gloves. Yahiko rather liked the gloves. Especially the way they felt when Tsubame…yeah.

Needed to get to the Akabeko.

"I. Can't. Help. You." Yahiko said as slowly and clearly as he possibly could, gesturing for emphasis. While it was something of a white lie – he did know where the port was; at least he assumed it was the port the man was asking about. He kept making fish faces… – the time it would take to explain, or more than likely show him the way, would make him late. And a late Yahiko meant a Yahiko who did without cute dresses on even cuter girls. Women. Yeah. He had his priorities. "Go. Away."

The man only stared blankly back at Yahiko, causing the teen to fidget from foot to foot, wondering if he would just make a break for it. Then the man frowned deeply, apparently angry now, glaring at Yahiko as if he were at fault.

"You are certainly a very rude fellow! Honestly, travelers like ourselves should stick together! But you're obviously of a very bad sort."

Yahiko resisted a sigh, and, against his better judgement, just nodded. Maybe if he agreed with the man he would shut up and go away.

"Oh! Admitting to it then, are you? You loathsome lout! I bet you have nothing but nefarious designs in this fair country!"

Nod nod. Would he ever shut up?

"Criminal! Fiend! You are in the slave business, aren't you? Opium smuggling? ILLEGALLY IMPORTED CORN FOR THE PORNOGRAPHY TRADE!"

Great. He was yelling now. And attracting an even bigger crowd than before. Yahiko nodded more fervently, smiling as brightly as he could. Was the guy getting the message or not?

"…I KNEW IT. I'll have you arrested, you filthy, filthy corn molester! I know what you do with it! I KNOW! You'll be arrested before this day is out, mark my words!"

With that, the man turned and ran off, but not before Yahiko gave another hearty nod and cheerful smile, shooing him along. Finally! Now he could get back to going where the real action was…ehem, going to see his dear lady friend. Yes. That sounded right. Ignoring the various horrified, confused, disgusted, and disbelieving faces around him, Yahiko started walking once again, a jaunty bounce in his step, bowler hat shining brightly in the sun.

It was only later, after his arrest, that he found out what corn was, and what some very odd people did with it.

…Fin…

Could this actually happen? Probably not. Do I care? Not really. :)

Rem-chan, 24th of December, 2005