Disclaimer: I don't own any characters, fictitious or real. Edison belongs to himself, while Sanosuke belongs to Nobuhiro Watsuki. Simple.
Dear Megumi: I'm still
The nights are so cold here in America and I'm still broke. Surprise, surprise. How is life these days? Your practice is doing well, I suppose. I would be a real moron if I didn't ask about your life before telling you about mine. Right now, I'm smiling as I'm writing this letter because I can see your fist and assorted choice words spoken to this paper. Namely bad ones, like "You idiot!". Ah well, I know you'll forgive me in the end.
You always do.
Now I've got you out of the way, let's talk about me. Hey, wait! Don't crumple this! I had to spend one of the last pennies I earned to write this to you, so don't even THINK about throwing this away. It may amuse (or even infuriate) you to know that I am still dirt poor, but this time, it isn't from gambling. These joints in America are; how shall we say... non-existent. The only way to have some fun around here is to join a gang and kill people. You know I'm not into that anymore, so instead, I'm working odd jobs.
Hmm, working odd jobs is certainly a step up from no jobs at all.
Along with my incredible (ha ha) sense of direction, I somehow got stuck in a place called New Jersey. Traveled from California across the mountains, of course with all my adventures along the way. You know that rebel country that just had a major war about twenty years ago? United States? Yeah, here I am. New Jersey is like a partition of the States. Some boring, high-pitched guy tried to explain to me that it's a part of the U.S., but it has its own government.
I just kept on nodding my head. Didn't understand what the fuck the guy was saying until now.
Stop shaking your head at me. I admit; it was stupid of me to come to a strange country where I don't even know the language, but better here than Japan. It actually doesn't take that long to learn a language, now that I know you're going to ask me that. Once you submerge yourself in someone's culture for about six months, you become readily fluent in their language and customs. At least I like to think I'm fluent. I've been to Canada and learned a bit of French, now I'm tackling English. The only drawback to learning all these foreign affairs is the sheer power. I must have slept at least 10 hours a day because the task was just so exhausting.
Wow, reading over what I just wrote, I sound incredibly smart. Now, don't be jumping up exclaiming what a genius I am. Here's the real reason I mailed you: Thomas Alva Edison. Does the name ring a bell? He's a famous inventor here in America. I don't know what all the hype is about, but it seems that the man made this one device that can make music by spinning a black disk on top. Didn't catch the name, but all I know is that it's all the rage here in Menlo Park. He's been hailed as the "genius of the century" and the "shining star of New England", receiving world acclaim as a really famous and well educated man.
He's a swindler and a fraud. I hate the bastard.
I swear, if I ever see him walking down the street in town, I'll punch his lights out. Not only did he steal my fortune, he also forgot my name! The nerve! I was the one most instrumental in helping him invent his damn lightbulb...
Here's the story. I landed here in the Americas almost immediately after I had left Japan, about six months later. I decided that I'd rather see America first before anywhere else. Everywhere I went, there was always something that pissed me off to no end. New York had too much filth in the streets; Pennsylvania people were too righteous and stuck up, and Maine was too cold. I finally settled down in New Jersey, the people were laid back but not to the point of total laziness.
Kinda like me.
Anyways, I was walking down the street trying not to make eye-contact when someone ran smack into me. Of course, I didn't fall over or move much because I'm so tall, but the person who ran into me fell over onto the sidewalk. His papers splayed everywhere as he tumbled onto his back, glasses flying off his head and out of my line of sight. He looked like the average studious doctor, he did... just like that one man who tried to explain to me what a state was...
I just stood there and stared at the man on the ground as he hastily tried to compose himself. He stooped over and tried to grab all his papers while trying to keep his bowler on his head. They were being blown away by the wind.
Now, I would be a total jerk if I didn't stop to help him. C'mon, I'm not totally heartless. But he's the one who ran into me first! So there... No I'm starting to wish I had never met him.
He frantically scooped up his belongings when his hat finally wrenched free from his fingers. I easily caught it in my hand as his eyes slowly traveled up my torso. Man, I must have looked intimidating to an old man hunched on the ground. He just stood there for a couple minutes in awe (of course) while I tried to figure out what to say to him. Hell, I didn't know English as well as I would have liked, but I still had to say something to him. Even though he didn't look that important, it's always nice to defer to your elders.
Even though it was his damn fault.
"I'm... apologize," I said.
He just sat there stunned. I started to fear that I had said something wrong. I said I was sorry, didn't I? I tried another tactic, but this one didn't involve words. I offered my hand to help him up, a huge grin plastered to my face.
Man, I would have given anything for a gun to my forehead at that point, I felt so fake.
Apparently though, he thought that was the best thing in the world. He beamed and jumped up without my aid. Once I gave him his hat back, he gripped my hand with an enthusiastic force and started shaking it. These Americans... why won't a simple bow do? He was positively ecstatic, and if I hadn't been so scared of this old man I would have ran away. He had so much life and vigor in him that if I had tried to run, he could probably outrun me.
Me! Sagara Sanosuke!
"Thank you so much for your help sir! Yes, I'm so very sorry that I ran into you! I was thinking about what I'd have to do with about this current predicament of mine. Yes, it seems that every time I try to get it to work it just ends up blowing up on me? Guess I should be more careful next time. That's what Mary is always telling me to do, you know, lay back Thomas and don't rush things, but I never listen... yes, thank God someone snapped me out of my thoughts before I ran into the middle of the road! Hi, and who are you?"
Needless to say, I just stood there and kept on grinning. I did not catch one word the man just said, but I understood the basic direction of it. He wasn't angry, or else he wouldn't have been smiling. I had been here long enough to know English a bit, but not enough to hold a decent conversation. There we were, two grinning idiots shaking each others hand like it was the happiest moment of our lives.
If only you could have seen me.
I pointed a finger to myself and said my alias. Hell, it seemed like a good idea at the time. "Tall Stowaway. Tall." It was something the men on the boat kept referring to me as. I thought it would make a good nickname; I sure couldn't use my Sagara Sanosuke name. People always screwed up the pronunciation anyway...
He seemed to understand and shook my hand with even more vigor, if that was possible. "Ah, Mister Tall! Yes, I'm Thomas Edison. Thomas." This man had an odd mannerism that I noticed (other than the constant use of "yes") after he'd been doing it for the entire duration of our introduction: squinting. I realized that when his large eyes opened in shock and he felt his face. "My glasses!"
What a weird little man. He can see enough to shake my hand yet he does not notice when his own glasses are off his face... I saw them about twenty feet from where we stood. I hurriedly ran over, bent down, and ran back to the man with those lenses clutched in my hands. "Here."
Thomas blinked for a couple minutes and squinted at his spectacles. He sighed and tried to rub off the dirt. I'm no expert in things like that, but there were a couple of scratches on the lens that might hinder sight. Plus, one of those ear hook things was bent out of proportion, like they had been stepped on. I doubted that they were supposed to be like that...
Hey, do I look like I know about glasses?! Stop giving me that look!
Anyways, he tried to buff those scratches while bending the frame and holding his papers at the same time. Well, at least he wasn't shaking my hand anymore. I felt so dumb, and although he was the one who ran into me, I couldn't help but feel sorry for him. I've only been in America for one month and already I disrespect an elder...
"Yes, yes. Looks like I'll have to get Mary to fix these."
I had to say something. "I'm... deeply emotional."
Gods. Looking back, now I know why the old man laughed. I sounded like a idiot. "That's quite alright Mister Tall..." But everything didn't look all right. He kept on squinting as if he couldn't see in front of his face. Something told me that whatever I had said earlier didn't help the situation, so I chose to resort to action. After all, that speaks louder than words.
I reached into my pockets to try to compensate the man for breaking his glasses. Even if it was his fault... I found a couple of nickels, some pocket lint, and a short black stick of something. Don't ask how it got there; even I don't know. Ever find stuff in your pockets where you don't know where it came from? Yep, that was one of those things. Except, it wasn't your normal twig. It was really hard and looked like coal. I shrugged in embarrassment when Thomas looked up and saw the contents of my outstretched hand.
I never felt so poor in my life.
He cautiously placed his glasses on his nose and inspected my offering. Even through the cracked and scratched lenses, I could see his eyes grow wide with excitement. I involuntarily took a step back away from the growing lunacy in his eyes. Thomas seized my palm and screamed, "This is perfect! Yes! Perfect!!"
I closed my eyes. Here some crazed madman would take my entire life savings and not even leave me with the lint in my pockets. After a couple of moments, I opened my eyes again. To my shock, I still had two nickels and some pocket lint in my hand. What was gone was the weird black stick. Another shock was the sight of that man running away from me, papers flying behind him like waves a ship makes on the sea. He called to me over his shoulder and held his fist up in the air, "This is perfect! Thank you so much Mister Tall!"
Needless to say... yeah, I was about as confused as you probably are. I didn't dwell too much on it though, a lot of other strange things happened to me before. As I slept in a tavern that I had paid for with my final 10 cents, my thoughts kept wandering over to you. I wondered if you were thinking about me as often as I was about you. Then again, when you've got nothing to do like me, you have to think. No doubt you're busy. No doubt you haven't looked back once.
I wish that I was like that.
Two days later, I was walking down the street again, trying not to make eye contact as usual. The guy at the bar handed me a giant basket of fish and told me to haul it down to the store a couple blocks away. At least, I think that's what he said. I was pretty sure that's what he was trying to tell me, especially since he kept on pointing and making wild gesticulations with his arms. He'd given me five cents for it. I was minding my own business when suddenly, out of the clear blue sky, something slammed into me from behind.
Dammit. Can't a man get any respect around here? Trust me, you don't want to visit America. People are so rude here.
I was about to turn around and dump the fish on the intruder's head when I saw the happily ecstatic face of... "Mister Thomas!" I exclaimed in my garbled English. The man's enthusiasm was contagious and I felt subject to it.
"I finally found you, Mister Tall! I've been looking for you on and off for about a day now and I was fearing that you had already left the country. No offense of course, but you just don't look like you are a native of America and I wanted to thank you before you skipped town." He pressed a roll of papers into my hand, along with a leather drawstring pouch. "That carbon rod that you gave me was indeed quite what I needed. Just what I've been looking for to complete my invention. Yes, yes I have searched far for it, yes. You might not know the mechanics, and you don't seem like you are too fluent in English, but here's something that you can remember me by."
My words failed me as he bounded off in the direction of the rising sun, two fingers pressed to his forehead under his bowler. A salute. "Goodbye Mister Tall! Yes, I'm off to the patent office!" And the weird little man left my sight, but never my thoughts. A long while later when I became more fluent in English and was able to actually read it, I saw what the man had been talking about. Printed in a bold headline were the words, "The Shining Star of New England does it again! Lightbulb!"
Under that, in the article, it said, "Thomas Edison, the genius of the century, has finally perfected the first incandescent electric light. As you all know, Edison has tried fruitlessly to find the perfect filament for his lightbulb. He tried blades of grass, flowers, and even hair off his assistant's beards, but to no avail. Yesterday, history unfurled itself as Edison triumphantly announced the perfect filament, a piece of carbonized bamboo from Japan. Given to him by a certain tall stowaway, this miracle wood burns longer and did not burst into flame as with the other test filaments. Now we can safely heat and light our homes without fear of fire! Rally America!!"
The date was October 17, 1879.
I admit, I was a little peeved when they didn't capitalize my supposed name. After all, I wanted just a bit of credit for my "idea"... even though it wasn't deserved. I also cursed myself for not giving out my real name, maybe that way I could prove to you that I'm not as worthless as you think I am. "Tall Stowaway"? I'm laughing as I'm writing this, of course you know where that came from... hey, a man can't always pay the ridiculous fare boats charge! That little pouch that Edison gave me? It contained twenty-five U.S. dollars and a small, hand scrawled note from the man himself. It said, "You may have an odd name, but I will always remember it. Yes, thank you very much Mister Tall. It was not I who invented this contraption, but truly, it was you."
Signed, Thomas Edison.
My unfounded anger over not getting international fame and recognition disappeared after about two seconds. Who could stay angry with that man? And, who wants international fame? Just because I could have been rich, could have had social standing, could have... well, let's not go down that road. Something tells me you're not exactly the kind of person who wants a famous husband anyways.
Yeah, you read correctly. I swear Megumi, if I make it back out of here in one piece, I'm coming home and I'm going to marry you. Whether you like it or not. Even if you are already married, hell, I'll do it anyways. All that I ask is that you wait for me, although you might not. Don't think of this as a marriage proposal, but more of a door opening. I've mulled this over so many, many nights, gazing at the black night sky on the ocean. You never see a sky so full of stars in Japan like that. The beauty is unrivaled, except, only by you.
I left Japan was because of lack of respect. I know, I know... I had to go because those damn cops were being paid off to track me down. I had to leave to protect the ones I loved. Namely, you and jou-chan and Kenshin... but mainly because of you. If I had stayed, you would have been in danger because of me.
But when I left, I realized you will still be in danger. How? No doubt, as we speak those bastards are mercilessly grilling them. I mean them at the dojo, since you are no doubt in that clinic in Aizu. "Where is he? When was the last time you saw him? When did he leave?" They wouldn't dare do that in front of Kenshin; they're too scared of their own shadow to add one more enemy to their list. But... have they gotten to you yet? Since I know that this will probably be read, I have to make this short. Then again, maybe since you are so far away from Kenshin and where we used to be, they might overlook you.
I've only been gone for six months, but it feels like an eternity without you. I never thought that I could harbor feelings for you. I mean, you! Takani Megumi, the cold hearted ice queen. I call you that because although you may act flirtatious and friendly with everyone you know, inside there's just a scared girl. That's what drew me to you in the first place. You might not return my affection, but I will just keep on loving you. Whether you like it or not.
I left Japan because of lack of respect, but I'm coming back because of you. "You may have an odd name, fox lady, but I will always remember it. Yes, thank you very much, Takani-san. It was not I who got me to start feeling this way, but truly, it was you."
Signed, Sagara Sanosuke.
There's no way she'd ever believe this. Probably think I was going soft.
Shaking his head in disgust, the man known as Sanosuke took all ten pages of his carefully written letter and crushed it into a ball. He instantly felt a twinge of regret knowing that he would have been the only one to appreciate the stationary it was on. Feeling a little nostalgic, he paid 50 cents of those twenty-five dollars to get something special for her. Those papers had a letterhead at the top with a fox roaming through a forest. Letter writing had become something of a hobby since he left Japan; not only did it help outline his whereabouts, it also helped keep his mind straight and make him that much more rooted in Japanese. He didn't want to lose all of his memories.
Che, what a waste of money...
Another five dollars of that was used to bribe a sailor to sneak him onto a ship bound for somewhere else. England. The boy, David was his name, said London would be a paradise compared to America. So Sanosuke decided to just up and leave. He had nothing to stay for, anyways.
Well, at least I don't have to learn a whole new language...
Sanosuke never understood what it was about the sea that made people so queasy; he felt right at home on it. The low creaking and groaning of the ship's floorboards underneath his feet agreed with his thoughts. This was one of the only times he could get out of the hold for a brief moment of fresh air: at night. The sailor he bribed had the middle watch of midnight to 4:00 in the morning, but Sanosuke would rarely stay out for the entire duration of the four hours.
"I'm going to kick myself later..." Sanosuke remarked as the white paper fluttered to the roaring sea below. As soon as it hit the water, it disappeared from sight as the sea swallowed it whole. He shook his head and leaned over the deck railing again, trying to spot the speck underneath the frothy waves. No such luck. Sighing, he turned around, flashed a sign to the sailor, and smiled. "See anything David?" Sanosuke climbed up the ratline to the captain's deck where the sailor sat.
The boy shook his head, "Nothing, Tall." Sanosuke had come to enjoy the time spent with the young man; he looked to be no older than sixteen. He was young and naïve age wise, but at the same time hardened from his voyages. Sanosuke found they had a common bond when he saw they had both lost their mothers. He said he ran away from home to become a sailor because he loved the sea.
They sat in companionable silence until David pointed above him. "It's wonderful. Every time, it never fails to amaze me."
"What?" Sanosuke asked.
The boy's voice got faraway and he laughed a little, as if embarrassed. "The sky. You never see a sky like this in the big city. It's funny how beautiful things strike you after you left something behind, y'know..." Sanosuke gave David a funny look that he couldn't decipher, so he tried to stammer an explanation. "I mean, I never looked at the sky when I was in New York. I didn't know what I was missing y'know..."
A small smile finally came to Sanosuke's face and David relaxed. "Yeah, I know." Without another word, the man got up and climbed back down, going back to the home he called for one week already. "I know what you mean."
The nights are so cold here in America.
Author's notes: I decided to do a "World Travels Challenge" as posted by Arashi. Edison invented the lightbulb the same year that Sanosuke would have left Japan, so if he left early that year he could have met with Edison and helped further scientific progress ^_^This fic also ties in with M.Kasshoku's "Within The Shadows" London fic. You might recognize that from the very end. If you haven't read it, go now! Many thanks to Arashi for beta reading this and to you readers for... well, reading it again. Do leave comments; I want to improve. Keep on writing!