Disclaimer*: No, I own it, I swear. Tomoe was my idea, and Enishi, too, and Kiyosato. In fact the whole Kenshin universe... And the Bokumatsu, and Western Imperialism... in fact, I'm God.
IMPORTANT Disclaimer - companion fic to Istoria's "Streets of Tokyo." I asked her if I could write a fic based on the events of that fic and she said yes!!! :D It's *very* peripheral to the main storyline of that series, though... There will be very little of mention of Kaoru, and less of Kenshin.
Martial arts practice finally ended, allowing Enishi to go home. He would have just left early, no big deal, but Tomoe had this thing about responsibility...
She was already in the kitchen, tending her pasta sauce, when he burst through the door to their apartment and started throwing questions at her. "So how was it? What was the office like? Did you meet Councilman Kiyosato? Did they have you shred documents or alter paperwork to let you see what you're getting yourself into?" His voice took on a sneering tone, as it always did when he implied things about politics.
Tomoe spoke without turning away from the stove. "Ask your questions..."
"After I clean up. I know."
She watched as he stored his bag in its customary place, then disappear into the shower. He didn't argue with her anymore, didn't whine or glower at her like he would have when he was younger. Enishi had been acting like an adult for a while now... In his last year of high school, he was on the verge of truly growing up.
"Pour the noodles out into the colander. And I thought we'd have wine tonight, but no more than a glass for you."
She was stalling, and he knew it. She didn't want to admit that he'd been right about her taking a job in the councilman's office. He would let her have her few minutes to work out how to say it. "Sure, Tomoe. You want me to get the candles, too?"
"That would be nice." She put the last fork in its place. Her expression betrayed no anxiety, no emotion at all.
A bit more shuffling around their small kitchen/dining room and then they were both seated, the table bearing steaming plates of pasta, glasses of red wine, and tapered candles. They were ready. The interrogation could begin.
"So... did you meet the councilman?"
Silent for a moment as though contemplating the question, then, "Yes, I was introduced to him. Briefly."
"And how did he seem?" He had a strange gleam in his eye as he shoved a forkful of noodles into his mouth, chewing lustily. He expected a good answer.
Her eyes slid away from him, away from the table. "Kiyosato-san seemed very... kind..." Rich brown eyes, infinitely compassionate, something almost... searching... in them. "...And rather overworked." Only afterward did she realize she had seen more of his face - the handsome features, the laugh lines, the wrinkles in his brow that spoke of stress rather than age.
"But he seemed earnest, right? He seemed like he would like to talk to you and be your best friend."
He must have been smiling at her. She had felt a pain in her heart, something like joy and sadness and her face had been as still as a Noh mask. "Yes... Something like that."
"HA! I knew it! I've been watching this guy on the news; that's exactly how he works. He acts like the most honest guy in the world. Everybody loves him; the media can't get enough of him, his rivals haven't been able to dig up any dirt on him... He's a genius, could be a world leader if he manages to stay on top." Enishi had completely forgotten about his pasta. He had completely forgotten about Tomoe, delving into the subject that fascinated him. "...Gonna be hard, though. He's got to be deeply involved in some seriously illegal business to have gotten this far. The whole anti-corruption thing, it's brilliant, and going after the yakuza... Of course, he must be on their payroll. ...Oh! I bet that's part of the reason for the latest war... One gang is playing along with him, while the other is really getting screwed..."
Something warm in his gaze, something more important than business or politics. His eyes haunted her after that. He had looked as though he was asking something from her, and she didn't understand... "He didn't seem like someone who had to worry about deceiving people." Tomoe looked up from her pasta to see Enishi staring at her, dumbfounded.
"Tomoe..." he finally breathed. "I always knew you were naive about the government... but my own sister...!" He slowly began to smile, tender indulgence replacing the shock in his eyes. "It's ok. That's why you have me around." Almost as soon as he spoke the words, his smile died.
Tomoe knew what thought had crossed his mind, deflated him - University next year. She had had to convince him to accept the scholarship, convince him to leave her. It would be hard, for both of them... but he had to grow. He had to accept that nothing was truly secure, not even whatever illusions they created in their home. He had to learn to live without her constant guidance and support.
"Eat your supper," she reminded him quietly. He hadn't touched his plate since he fell silent. "You may be right about Kiyosato-san. However, since I doubt I'll ever handle anything important, at least not without a major promotion, it's just another clerical job."
"So you might quit it..." Rapidly switching demeanors once again, Enishi sat up straight, all his sulking vanished. When he glanced at her, an eager flame of hope burned within his eyes. "And then you could find work closer to my school."
She looked at him in silence for a moment. He knew better. "I feel comfortable working with the people in this office. The woman I work for directly, Mrs. Sakamoto, was very welcoming toward me. The atmosphere is... friendly." Kiyosato-san arrived and everyone smiled warmly when greeting him. His simple presence lifted the mood from dull and utilitarian to joyful, productive... "The employees seem glad to be working for Kiyosato-san. They are busy but happy."
"But what about your English lessons? You'll be looking for a better job..."
She considered reminding him that no one knew the future, but Enishi would think she was patronizing him. She settled with something more ambiguous. "It's presumptuous to think so." She got up to clean the dishes, effectively ending the conversation.
She knew Enishi was unsatisfied, but she couldn't help it. He didn't want to accept the fact that they wouldn't be living together any more, and he wouldn't understand her other reasons... She hadn't been lying when she had said that she liked the people, that they had welcomed her. For the first time she could remember in a working environment, Tomoe didn't feel different, didn't feel like she was being strange and anti-social just because of her silence, her inexpressive face. She hadn't sensed any coldness or resentment. And Kiyosato-san... he had greeted her and she couldn't smile back; she was frozen... Nothing but kindness in his eyes, and a question she couldn't understand, couldn't answer...
Title - death! I always associate death with Tomoe, and this is a Tomoe fic... And if that's not reason enough, there was this website I went to once that talked about all the flowers associated with Tomoe in the OAV, and it suggested that the red flower Akira gives to Tomoe is a pomegranate bloom. Ah, so appropriate...
Characterization - ehh... For weeks, I gave myself headaches trying to figure Tomoe out. Right now I'm just kind of going with the flow of the story, not thinking about it too hard. Trying to just channel detached-but-not-cold. If I botch it too much... sorry... And Enishi... I think he's a little easier to write. He's certainly is more forgiving in terms of random mood shifts. At least that's what I tell myself....
Direction - dunno. your guess as good as mine. could get real dark, get real light, could get sexy, could get asexual... i mean, i have a target ending but the middle is primordial soup, anything could crawl out of it. one hint, though - AKIRA!!! :D (the dead guy, not the obscenely confusing anime)
*Disclaimer - all lies :-O i know, it's shocking... (the IMPORTANT disclaimer's true, though. see? i can be an honest person.)