A/N Alright then! First thing first-
Disclaimer: I own nothing recognisable
Secondly; I'd like to thank everyone, including Nick M. for reviewing my first MegumiXSanosuke fic, 'Warmth'. You have been very wonderful to me and I promise I'll TRY to lengthen my fics a bit. However, all good things don't necessarily need to be long. He he. Thank you for taking the time to read a amature's fics. Sessha is very greatful! Arigatou once again and enjoy!
Gentle voices broke the cool silence of a summer's night.
'Are you sure you've got enough food? I don't want to hear Megumi the lady doctor complain about how badly I received her favourite patient.'
Himura Kaoru was smiling knowingly at the tall man, who grinned and looked away.
'You won't hear her complain.' He replied, his serious brown eyes studying the muddy ground.
'Oooo,' laughed the black haired woman and leaned against the doorframe. 'You naughty Tori-atama…'
Sagara Sanosuke groaned and blushed. 'Iie, Jou-chan! It's not like that! I was talking about your food. You see… If I have your food, Kitsune will have more reason to complain than when I won't.'
He flashed her a goofy grin and added: 'Ja ne, Jou-chan!'
Quickly, while his best friend's wife processed the words, he began walking away from the Kamiya dojo. His long brown hair and red bandana swayed with the speed his long legs carried him and he started to count down. 'Three… two… one-'
'Kyyaaa? Chotto! Get back here, you baka! I am not done with you!' screeched the woman's voice in the night and she thrust her fist in the air. Sanosuke's laughter could be heard long after he was gone.
'Ano… Which way… That way? No... Not that way… Kuso! Where is that damn clinic! Kuso… No, not there I've already been there…'
Mumbling to himself, Sanosuke paced through the streets of Aizu, in search for the doctor's clinic. He had been never one to find his way in an unfamiliar place. He spotted an old lady, carrying several bags walked over to her. 'Excuse me, ma'am?'
'Ano?' she looked up to him. Upon registering him, her eyes widened and she stepped back and exclaimed: 'Itai! Don't hurt me!'
'No, no, no!' He waved his large hands apologetically, 'Gomen nasai! I didn't mean to scare you, ma'am. I just wanted to have you tell me the direction to Takani-sensei's clinic? I'm kind of lost…'
The grey old lady's eyes flickered. 'Takani-sensei's clinic, you say?'
'Very well, then!' she said cheerfully. 'I live opposite her! I'd love to bring you to the clinic, on the condition that you carry my bags.'
Sanosuke couldn't believe his luck. 'Arigatou! I'd love to carry your bags, ma'am!' exclaimed the man enthusiastically and took her burden. She began trotting down a street. Her small steps were incomparable with his long strides. And she wasn't quick either. Sanosuke sighed. This was going to be a long morning.
'Are we there yet?' he asked wearily.
'Just a few steps more, young man. Ah, here we are.' They halted in front of a small house and Sanosuke looked around expectantly, feeling slightly – okay, very light-headed upon the fact that he was, after six years, going to see the lady doctor again.
'Does Takani-sensei live here?' he asked, confused. He put the bags down.
The old lady chuckled. 'No, you silly young man! I live here!'
'You mean, you don't know where she lives!' he exclaimed, flailing his arms exasperatedly. 'Mou! I already thought it was too good to be true.'
'Don't be impatient, young man!' The lady smiled and him knowingly. 'The clinic is over there.' She pointed towards the other side of the street, where a couple of buildings bathed in the sun. One of the buildings was a clinic and its sign read: Takani Megumi – lady doctor.
Sano grinned and began striding to the place where his heart wanted to lead him to, but the bossy voice of the old lady interrupted him. 'And where do you think you are going?'
'Onna…' muttered the 25 year-old man darkly and he spun around. 'Aa?'
The granny was tapping her foot demandingly. 'What kind of man are you? Now, help me carry these bags in to the house!'
'Aa, ma'am,' he sighed sheepishly, knowing that "helping her carry the bags" meant "carrying and emptying all the bags".
One hour later, he sat down on the floor at the table in front of a bowl with miso soup.
'Arigatou,' sighed Sanosuke to the lady and waited for her to sit down.
'No problem at all, young man,' smiled the grey-haired woman. 'Tuck in and tell me something about yourself.'
Sano blinked at her sudden interest. 'Ano… What would you like to know about me, Hikaru-dono?'
'How you've met Takani-san, what you are doing here …' she trailed off, eyeing him expectantly.
After emptying the bowl, he cleared his throat and said: 'Kitsune, that's my nickname for her, and I, we are… friends. We befriended about seven years ago. She came rushing in once, when I was on my winning streak during gambling-'
'Gambling?' she interceded with a frown.
Sanosuke nodded. 'I was young and foolish. Still am, but not as foolish as I used to be. Anyhow, she was in trouble and my friends and I saved her, and then we… became sort of friends. We had a habit of insulting each other, calling nicknames….' He laughed as he gave in to the memories. 'She reminded me of a fox, so sneaky and conniving. I reminded her of a rooster, with the spiky hair I used to have and the skinny appearance. So I called her Kitsune-onna, while she called me Tori-atama. I used to get in to brawls quite often, because I didn't like to see how some people could be so … hypocrite.'
The man shook his head, his eyes flashing stormily with discontent and loathing. He closed his eyes. When he opened them again, they had returned to their normal chocolate brown. 'When I got hurt, Kitsune took care of my wounds, all the while scolding at me and insulting me. But then, one day… I was forced to leave Japan, for the sake of being alive. I kind of… left Takani-san without saying goodbye. I had said goodbye to everyone else, but it was so hard for me to say goodbye. As if I would never see her again, y'know?
'Six years have passed, hoping every day that I would someday get the chance to see her again. To get scolded again by her. Can't believe she's only a short distance away from me…'
He sighed and a ghost of a smile danced on his face as he gazed at the empty bowl. Hikaru chuckled and said: 'and now you're back to say hello to her…? I must say, Sagara-san, you are lovesick!'
Sanosuke blushed, but grinned nonetheless. 'Aa. And I need a doctor to cure me.'
After a last wave at the old Hikaru, Sanosuke practically ran to the clinic. Upon arriving, the butterflies that had been fluttering in his stomach seemed to want to create a tornado with their fragile wings. The nervosity that had been silently sitting on his shoulder had ripped his chest open and penetrated his heart.
'Kuso…' he groaned, when he realised something. 'What am I going to say to her!'
The clinic looked inviting. Birds were singing their well-practiced song, and the leaves of the trees rustling silently in the wind. It was a cloudy afternoon in Aizu. When Sanosuke strained his ears well enough, he could hear a gentle voice on the other side of the clinic's wall. A small window was in the wall, high enough for Sano to peer through. The ex fight-merchant jumped when it was opened.
'I hope you don't mind me opening the window, Usuze-san. It's rather warm in here.'
Sanosuke felt his knees grow weak at hearing Takani Megumi's voice so clear. It was as if she were standing next to him, whispering the words delicately in his ear with her soft, gentle voice.
His mouth went dry at the memory of her appearance. He had severely missed her pale face, with those beautiful almond-shaped eyes, her adorable nose and those ruby red lips that always had a lingering smile. The smile that had caused him to lie awake for countless nights. He also longed for the touch of her soft, slender hands, when she would take his hand in hers to check for injuries or to clean the wounds. She would always have a stack of bandages ready whenever he would come. She would scold at him…"Tori-atama no baka!" ... And then she would smile at him when she thought he wasn't looking. She would carefully caress his skin, but wrap the bandages tightly and he would wince and say… "Itai… Kitsune-onna, that hurt!". She had been always strictly professional when it came to touching him, even though it wasn't the case with him. Her apprehension didn't keep him from being mesmerised.
Sano had painfully admitted to himself that she haunted his nightly visions. In her fox-like manner, she would snoop in with her gorgeous curvaceous figure and laugh him awake. In other dreams, she would whisper: "Why did you come back, baka?' You didn't expect me to wait for you for six whole years, did you? I am married. And happy… Without you." And then, with a flick of her hair, she would disappear while he screamed to her to come back. He would awaken, screaming "CHOTTO!"
But there were also other dreams; dreams he preferred having. Megumi would suddenly sit next to him and her hand would be linked with his. She would be wearing a midnight-blue kimono, instead of her usual lavender one, and her hair would be up in an elegant bun, revealing her white neck. Then she would look up to him, squeeze his hand slightly and whisper seductively: "What took you so long, you baka?" After that, she would lean up to him, coax him in a passionate and the dream would become highly rated. Very highly rated.
Sano shook away the blush and swore. 'Mou…' He crossed the deserted street and sat down on the fallen tree opposite the clinic. While a grim look crossed his features, a grim thought crossed his mind.
What if she's married and has children and has forgotten about me?
He shook his head. Nah, I'm being bloody paranoid. 'Else Hikaru-san would have told me so… But then why hasn't she moved on yet? A lumped formed in his throat and again, his mouth went dry. Maybe she is really waiting for me…
He looked up to the sky. There wasn't even a single cloud in the sky, while not to long ago; the sky had been filled with them. He decided to go for a walk, to clear his mind and to weigh his chances. But he needed to remember how to reach the clinic again. He checked the pockets of his clothes for something to write with and to write on. He found nothing, but he needed something now, to remember where the clinic was. He gazed around, in search for something sharp.
Whistling tunelessly, he strolled down a crowded street. Merchants and stalls could be found everywhere, selling all types of food, clothes, toys and many other things. All sorts of people were shopping and the colourful sight reminded him of the twinkle in his object-of-affection's eyes. He had become such a sap lately, thinking such things. Carefully, Sano added a cut to his underarm. I know I am being stupid; cutting the route to Kitsune-onna in my skin, but I'd do anything to find her. And she will definitely scold at me for being such a baka. Can't wait! He he. Maybe she'll hit me, so she won't be angry with me for not saying hi to her for the past six years.
He grinned lopsidedly, waiting for the thin line of blood to dry and gazed around again.
Okay. Let's take this step-by-step. She is alive and so am I. Hurray! All right. She is here in Aizu. I am here in Aizu. She is single and so am I. I have matured and she… has always been mature… with the emphasis on the physical part… Again, he grinned fondly.
She has a job as a doctor and I have two (!) jobs; as construction worker and as a bodyguard. Yahiko, Jou-chan, Tae, hell – even Kenshin the Girly Man - have encouraged me to visit her and sweep her off her feet. She is presumably waiting for me to visit her and… to sweep her off her feet. Hopefully… All right! I have convinced myself to confess my feelings to her. Easy. Next thing is to confess my feelings. He he. NOT easy.
Now how am I going to do that…? Storm in and kiss her? He he. Nope. Pretend to be seriously diseased? No, that would be cruel, even for me. Send her flowers? Nope. I know nothing of flowers. I'll end up giving her flowers that mean that I am mourning, or something like that… Doesn't have much appeal…"I am dying… TO SEE YOU!" It's a good joke… I will pull it on Yahiko one day, but not on Kitsune… 'Cause I know what her reaction will be… Slap!
He rested his hand on his cheek for a moment and sighed. Well, I guess I'll have to knock and come in and say: "Ohayou, Kitsune-onna, how have you been? After six years, I've finally found the guts to tell you that I love you and want you back in my life. So how about it? Oh, and got something to eat?".
He bought something to eat and, after ten minutes of pondering, a box of western candy. The candy was quite expensive, but he was certain that it would make her happy. On his way back, he found little white flowers growing on the side of the road. He plucked one.
Did white mean death or pure love? I could not have known that the crap Jou-chan used to emit about Ikebana actually would come to use one day… Ah, well.
He strolled his way back to the clinic with a box of candy in one hand and a flower in the other, glancing every once in a while at his underarm. He saw a little girl with long black hair playing with a boy. Well… playing? She was laughing at the fuming, brown haired boy. The boy had fallen on his bum and was rubbing it, shamefaced. Her laughter reminded Sanosuke of someone. He quietly prayed that that little girl and that person in question were not related. Then he continued down the street.
'Kuso!' Sanosuke had dropped the flower somewhere along the way. Still, he couldn't afford to lose any more time, so he didn't stop to search for it. After a while, the clinic came in view and he sighed, relieved. Relieved that he had found his way so easily; he was never one to find his way out.
He sunk down on the fallen tree and once again gazed at the clinic. Suddenly, the door opened and he jumped. A patient of hers stepped out of the building.
'Arigatou, Takani-sensei,' the man said to the woman hidden away from the ex fight-merchant's view.
'Dou itashi mashite,' replied a soft voice, 'I am a doctor, it is my work.'
The man walked away and the door closed again. Sano sighed again and noticed how he was doting. I shouldn't be doting like this! I am Sagara Sanosuke! I do not dote… Takani Megumi will be mine very soon…
The patient had been probably her last, because he heard a soft singing. He stared at the small window in amazement. I didn't know Kitsune could sing! It sounds rather pleasant… that song sounds so familiar…
Unnoticeably to himself, he yawned and stretched his muscled body. He had been up all night and all day. The sun had hidden itself behind a fresh sheet of clouds, colouring them yellow with a delicate, golden rim. Megumi's singing lulled him to a slumber. I need to take a small nap… Just for five minutes or something like that…
He yawned again and slumped down on the fallen tree, her voice guiding him to dreamland.
Sanosuke's brown eyes flickered open. 'Ano…? Where am I?'
He rubbed his bleary eyes and peered around. He had been lying on a tree. In front of Takani Megumi's clinic. The singing had stopped.
'Aa…' He had taken in his surroundings and realised his mission again. 'I still have to sweep her off her feet.'
He sat up and noticed something fluid and lukewarm trailing down from his chest to his toned stomach.
'KUSO!' he exclaimed. 'I have bird-poo on my hot bod! Curse you birds! CURSE YOU!'
He wiped the white-grey goo off stomach with a disgusted face. He cleaned his hand and the victimised body part with a leaf and smiled eased when he saw that the box of western candy was still in the same place where he put it. Then he gazed up at the sky. It had turned purple, because of the sunset, even though the sun was hidden behind some massive clouds. It's going to rain. Then I'd better head in, before I get wet.
His stomach, now poo-free, was churning with the intensity of nervosity. He had to go in now, or else he would be too late. For dinner, that is.
He stood up, grabbed the box and strode to the door. He extended his hand to open it, but suddenly pulled it back. He remembered that things had changed. This was not a visit to have a check-up. He couldn't just storm in after six years, without even knocking. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
I'm going to knock any moment now.
He flexed his arms.
Any moment now, I will knock…
Then he flexed his legs.
Just loosening up a bit.
He briefly massaged his neck.
A bit more.
He took a deep breath.
He tidied his hair.
Yep. Just a few more seconds. Then I shall knock the door! All right! Now!
On the spur of the moment, when he decided to stop procrastinating and reached out to knock, thunder crackled and rain began pouring down. He was not in the mood to get soaked. A small trail of rain ran from his forehead down to his torso. It didn't stop him from, finally, knocking.
There, he had done it. He had knocked on the door. He couldn't help but to smirk arrogantly. I have knocked, he thought proudly, now she only has too open the door… And it will open any moment now. Open. OPEN. Onegai, open?
He waited for a moment, and then knocked again. It was a great deal, really, for Sagara Sanosuke to wait so patiently. He didn't know what had happened to him, either. Maybe it was the nerves. Or the way his head swam. Or maybe it was the increasing rain, which had caused his clothes to soak. He didn't like that.
The clothes were sticking to places where the sun didn't shine all too often and made him feel uncomfortable. He didn't like that either.
But even if something would cause him to wait patiently, patience wasn't one to stick around when it involved Sano. So, sick of waiting, he banged the door and yelled: 'Oi! Kitsune-onna! Megitsune! Open the damned door, I'm getting soaked!'
As soon as these words had left his mouth, the door opened a bit. Sano forgot that it was raining. He forgot to blink. Hell, he even forgot to breathe. From the small gap created, a pair of brown eyes stared up at him. He swallowed nervously, but did not break the eye contact. He couldn't, even if he wanted to.
The door opened fully and revealed a woman in her late twenties, with straight black hair and a beautiful, flawless face. She was wearing a dark blue kimono with white embroidery and her usual blue haori over it.
Nothing has changed, he thought. She is as beautiful as she was before, maybe even more… Sano, you old sap! Say something, you baka.
'W-what took you so long!' he demanded abruptly. 'Didn't you notice that it is raining outside, Megitsune?'
She blinked. He had broken the ice.
A smirk formed on her lips. She replied: 'oh, you know, Tori-atama… Aizu is filled with nasty men-'
His eyes widened. Nasty men in Aizu! Now I'm sure I've never should have left her!
'-So I preferred not opening the door after the visiting hours. But you…' She raised her chin haughtily and poked him in his as-always-bare chest. He blushed at the touch.
'You just had to destroy my door!' She pointed at the door, which had several indentions in it – because of him, of course. 'Look! Look what you have done, you baka! If I didn't open the door, you'd break it down completely.'
Sanosuke grinned broadly. Even after six years, she still knows how to turn me on…
Megumi had stopped her scolding and was, once more, gazing up at his tall figure. Her eyes were brimming with tears. Sano felt his heart break at seeing her in this state. The woman echoed his question. 'What took you so long?'
'I…' He faltered and looked at her, guilt-ridden. 'I missed you. Too much for me to bear.'
A tear rolled over her cheek. She broke the eye contact, which hurt him a bit, but before he could savour the bittersweet hurt, something else happened to him that hurt a lot.
His eyes widened when he saw a fist flying to the middle of his face. A split second later, pain soared from his nose and howled loudly. 'ITAI!'
'Oh, shut up, baka!' she hissed and pulled him inside. 'You are going to wake up whole Aizu if you keep howling like a dog!'
Clutching his boo-boo nose, he stumbled in and sank down on the tatami, at her feet. He released his nose and asked in child-like innocence: 'don't you mean, howling like Notaro?'
Megumi smiled and sat down next to him. 'I miss him.' She was gazing at him again. A hard stare, as if she wanted to tell him something.
'I miss him too,' he replied meekly and after a second his eyes narrowed. 'Why did you punch me in the face?'
She raised an eyebrow and said calmly: 'you deserved it. That's why.'
'Then what did I do!'
'You took too long!'
'Excuse me!' he said sourly. 'If I came back earlier, the police would have caught me and I would be in jail now, instead of here, sitting next to you!'
Megumi huffed. 'You really are a baka, aren't you?'
'W-what?' Stuttered Sano. He didn't know how to reply on that.
The lady doctor smiled and reached out to his face. She gently caressed his nose with her sleeve and a light blush appeared on her cheeks. He blushed too.
'Don't think I don't know why you had to leave us, Sagara-san. I know why you travelled the world for six years.' She smiled sweetly at his bemused face. 'So, I am not talking about the previous years. I am talking about today…'
Sano inhaled her fragrance deeply and smiled dazedly. He was also enjoying her soft touch. His nose didn't hurt anymore, but he wasn't going to tell her that. 'Then what are you talking about, Takani-sensei?'
'I saw you sitting on that fallen tree with a pensive look. It was late in the morning. I watched you leave and hoped you would return soon. I was delighted when I saw you had come back. So delighted, that I started singing. Do you know what song I was singing?'
He racketed his mind. 'No.'
She stopped caressing his nose and he couldn't help but to pout disappointedly. She sat back again and leaned into him, slightly. 'It's obvious you can't remember. You were severely wounded once and had fever. I came to check up on you, if everything was fine. You were trashing about, shaking your head fast. I put wet cloths on you and started to sing a bit, to calm you down. It helped, but you opened your eyes and gazed at me for a moment. Then you fell asleep again.'
Once again, he was at loss of words. Megumi didn't mind though, she kept talking, her eyes on his.
'Anyhow, you fell asleep too, on that fallen tree. You were so kawaii, Tori-atama! You should have seen yourself!' She winked foxily at him and continued. 'I watched you sleep for about five hours and I never got bored. I did get impatient, though. You have spent the whole in front of my home. But did you enter? NO!' Her face had turned slightly upset and she poked him in his side.
He smiled apologetically. 'I guess I really am a rooster-head.'
'Indeed!' she exclaimed, but quieted down. 'But now you are finally here.' She smiled dotingly.
Dotingly? Doting? He blinked and grinned. She doted. For me.
'Now I am finally here.' He confirmed and stared at her, dotingly. He felt delighted at having her so near. He felt complete, with her so close to him. She pulled him closer to whisper something in his ear. He shivered in delight.
'I missed you, too.' She said.
'Do you…' he hesitated, but continued, tentatively. 'Do you love me, too?'
She gasped, surprised. 'O, Sanosuke…'
Sanosuke felt his head resemble a tomato. Nonetheless, he continued gazing at her, pleadingly. And he did feel very happy when she loudly said: 'Sanosuke no baka! Of course, I love you, Tori-atama.'
Beaming widely, she pulled him in a tight hug and buried her face in his chest. It didn't stop him from hearing a few words. 'What took you so long?'
He was instantly reminded of his "pleasant" dream. Will she kiss me like that?
In matter of fact, she did, but when she wanted to continue kissing him, they were, sadly enough, interrupted.
'TAKANI-SENSEI!' exclaimed a young voice. Sano and Megumi sprang apart and made them presentable just in time when the door fell open. It revealed the boy Sanosuke had seen being laughed at by the girl. The girl was there too. To be precise, the boy was holding the girl, who seemed wounded.
'Touya-chan! Keiko-chan!' gasped Megumi and she flew to their aid.
Megumi glanced at the broken door. Then she glared at Sanosuke, who grinned sheepishly. 'I'll fix it. I'll fix it. Don't worry.'
'Keiko-chan,' told Megumi to the boy, 'Touya-chan will come any minute now to take you home again, all right?'
The little girl nodded. Megumi had kept her the night at the clinic, to watch over her. Sano didn't like that, but she had glared at him when he had told her that. Now it was morning again, and Keiko's friend would come with his father to take her back home.
'Keiko-chan?' The brown-haired boy stood in the door opening with his father.
'Touya-chan!' said Keiko, delighted.
Touya offered her a little white flower and she accepted it, with a blush.
Megumi nudged Sano. 'You see that flower? He cares for her! Isn't that adorable? Why didn't you bring me any flowers?'
'I did! The same flower, to be precise, but I lost it on the way!'
Megumi gave him a little shove. 'Whatever.'
A/n: Thank you very much for reading the ramblings of a teenaged amateur! I've reposted this fic after changing minor things and doing a grammar/spelling check.
On request, I've tried to lengthen the story and I hope I didn't ruin it (-.-'). I'm planning to write OR an epilogue OR a sequel on TYTBHU. Review and LET MAGGIE KNOW which one you prefer. Also, I have made a start on a Misao/Aoshi fic called The Unbeknownst Liquid. It's a one-shot, maybe a two-shot… We'll see.
REVIEW…! REVIEW AND GIVE YOUR OPINION…