to be or not to be
part six: the oops! experience

Takani Megumi made her way slowly through the early morning-crowd at the market place. She had sent Tsubame ahead of her, asking her to tell Kaoru that she would follow as soon as she had dealt with an acute case of food poisoning. Her patient had a great love for exotic food. He had eaten, he told her gleefully even as he writhed on the futon, cats, dogs, field mice, alligators, tarantulas, etc., etc. In short, anything edible in Japan and beyond. Megumi had glared at him and told him that an 'anything goes' diet was VERY bad for the health. Her patient had retorted that he had never, and make that a never with a capital N, gotten sick before from eating. Only now. It must be what he ate which was the problem.

And just what was it that he ate? Megumi had asked.

Oh, one of those little buggers with cute rings around their eyes.

*blink* WHAT?!

The patient had snorted at her ignorance. Wasn't it obvious?

*blink* *blink*

The good man had given a deep sigh and snapped at her not to keep pinching his belly (which she had been massaging with ointment before he had begun his suspenseful tale) like that.

She had pinched even harder as she repeated, What?!

When the answer came, she had nearly torn the man's belly from his incredibly bloated body.

RACOONS, he had told her impatiently. He had eaten racoons. Damned critters.

Megumi smiled at the memory. 'Ara,' she thought. 'What will Kaoru say to that?' She'll probably skin the man alive then and there and have HIM for breakfast.' Megumi wondered just what Kaoru wanted from her, and so early in the morning, too. What was that girl up to now?

Just as she crossed the street, a cart with a driver from (in her opinion) hell came careening down the road. Muttering a curse, Megumi jumped back to keep herself from being dragged all the way to Kyoto looking like she had just been exhumed from the ground. She winced in pain as her back protested from the sudden action. Ouch. Gods, she still hurt all over. And her hand was swollen, what with pinching grumpy patients' bellies and, her gaze darkened, sending chicken-heads flying to the moon. That Sano. Grr...

He had made his usual cracks about Miss Foxy. While she bristled at the 'insult,' she had decided to ignore him, preferring to concentrate on her dinner. But when he had started saying that foxes were cuddly creatures, with the cutest ears imaginable and the most delightful tails, and to make matters worse, told her that her ears were SO cute, too, while making tweaking gestures with his hands, and, oh please Foxy, may I see your-- tail? The nerve! She had retorted that he should keep his libido to himself and the idiot had smirked at her and said that that was her lust speaking. Kenshin had started carrying the little girls from the room then, she remembered. Her face red, she had screamed at Sano that he was an impotent fool. Well, he probably took offense to that one because, in his next breath, he dared her to prove his 'impotence.' Fine. And is that red headband a symbol of your virginity? she had asked with all the sarcasm she could muster. And Mr. Sanosuke Sagara, with a wink, answered that she shouldn't be talking about virginity and stuff like that when she was still wearing bibs. And the ball just kept rolling from there.

Megumi sighed as she entered a relatively quiet side-street. Anyway, she must have done him enough damage to keep him from opening his mouth for a day or two, she thought with an evil little smile. Maybe she should ask Kaoru if she could do bedside duty for Sano. Heh. Then he'll see just who would be wearing bibs and nappies by the end of the day.

Cheered by the possibility, she walked a bit faster. As she approached a small barber's shop (owned by Jin whats-his-name, another Sano crony, she frowned), she heard a VERY familiar voice and it sounded awfully near. Megumi looked up quickly and... speak of the devil.

The chicken-head himself. Alive AND healthy.

Megumi scowled. So much for baby-sitting. Oh, well, maybe some other time... But what was he doing up so early in the morning? She was about to call out to him when she saw that he wasn't alone. There was someone standing beside him on the street outside the barber shop. Megumi caught a glimpse of delicate features as the other person turned slightly towards her. Megumi's eyes narrowed suspiciously. A girl? A redhead, to be more exact.

She crept slowly towards the couple. She saw that Sano was yammering (as always) with the girl listening to him intently and interrupting him every now and then. Megumi sighed impatiently as she made her way closer so she could hear what they were talking about. Suddenly, the girl inclined her head in Megumi's direction. Megumi flattened herself against a nearby wall, her heart pounding, ready to cut and run if she had to (tin: yeah, I know, i'm exaggerating ^^). After a while, when it seemed that the girl didn't see her after all, Megumi took deep calming breaths and found, to her delight, that she had found the perfect hiding place. She could hear Sano's voice clearly. Now if only the girl would speak...

Which she promptly did.

Or maybe it should be which he promptly did. Megumi gasped. "Ken-san?"


A few moments earlier...

"I still can't believe you ended up wearing something as boring as that, Kenshin," Sano grouched.

Kenshin rolled his eyes, "Maybe what you meant to say was you still can't believe I took Jin's advice instead of yours, Sano."

Sano snorted, "As if I care."

"Right," Kenshin said ruefully. He indicated himself, "Well? What do you think?" As Sano opened his mouth, he cut in hurriedly, "And please do NOT expound on the merits of pink, I beg you."

Sano glared at him. Kenshin was wearing a gi in deep violet and a light-colored hakama. Pretty sober. And, in Sano's private opinion, dull. Well, it suited Kenshin anyway. But he still believed Kenshin would look a hell of a lot better with the orange gi. Or even the one with the pink elephants. Kenshin had told him he had no intention of dressing up like a dancing girl. Sano had rolled his eyes at that. Where did Kenshin get his ideas? Dancing girl, indeed. "You look OK," he muttered grudgingly.

Kenshin smirked. "I hope so." He smoothed his right sleeve gently, "I'm glad Jin lent this stuff to me."

"Jin who?" Sano huffed.

Kenshin glared at him, "You know. Jin. The guy who saved your life. I swear, Sano, if he didn't step in and interfere..."

"Kuso! Who's scared of you, Himura?" Sano retorted challengingly. "'Sides," he grumbled, "I thought Jin was my friend. Hell, we had so much alike!"

"I'm thankful he differed from you when it came to clothes, Sano," Kenshin muttered dryly. "If he had offered me that last kimono you had... with that print on it..."

Sano frowned, "Hey, that was pretty cool." Kenshin snorted, "If you call YOUR face cool. Gods, Sano, how could you ever think I would wear a gi with your face, of all things, emblazoned on the front AND the back?"

"It's not my fault YOU have no fashion sense," Sano snapped. When Kenshin glared at him, he muttered, "Can we just get off a boring topic?"

Kenshin raised his hands in mock-surrender, "Fine. Now, what do we talk about?"

Humph. It ain't over, till it's over, buddy, Sano thought with an inward grin. Just you wait... Oh, you've got the clothes. But I think about everything. The footwear... The accessories... There was a pair of gold slippers he wanted Kenshin to try out. Gold with pink stripes, of course. Gotta stay in sync with Kenshin's character, right? Heh. "OK," Sano cleared his throat. "Next item on our agenda is..." With a flourish, he took out a crumpled piece of paper from his sleeve. Kenshin gave him a suspicious look which he ignored. He squinted at his 'plan of action.' "Your... SPEECH!"

"Speech?" Kenshin said incredulously. "Sano, what are you saying?"

Sano smirked at him, "Listen, Kenshin. We agreed that you're gonna sweep Jou-chan off her feet, right?"


"It's gonna be a whirlwind courtship, right? Give her NO time to think!"


"So, you tell her your feelings tonight!"

Kenshin choked, "Oro? Tonight? But, Sano, isn't that pushing it?"

"Of course not!" Sano snapped. "You've wasted enough time already. Think about it, Kenshin. What if she met Oda Nobunaga's reincarnation tomorrow? Then you'll go 'bye, bye, dojo!' buddy."

"But..." Kenshin protested. "I don't want to rush her!"

"Aaarrghh!!!" Sano groaned in frustration. "Kenshin, are you telling me that you wanna take it slow and steady?"

"Yeah," Kenshin replied hesitantly.

"Then," Sano continued, "are you willing to have your hair done like that everyday?"

"Oro?!" Kenshin said in horror. His hair? Like this? EVERYDAY? He immediately felt a headache coming.

Sano shook his head at him, "It's either now or never, ol' buddy."

Kenshin groaned, "Oroooo...."

"Well?" Sano waited expectantly.

Kenshin sighed miserably. He meant what he said to Sano. He didn't want to rush Kaoru. He wasn't sure if she felt the same thing for him, anyway. Plus, a tiny part of him wanted to make sure that should she ever like-- no, love him back, it wouldn't be totally because he looked like -- Oda Nobunaga. Or some other dashing guy. But if Sano was right, and Kaoru wanted more from him... Besides, he didn't want to spend months or even years with his hair looking like Mt. Fuji. "OK," he nodded.

"Yatta!" Sano cheered. "That's the spirit, Kenshin."

"This had better work, Sano," Kenshin muttered.

"Of course it will!" Sano said loudly. "OK. Now, let's practice..."

Kenshin stared at him, "Huh?"

Sano sighed impatiently, "Kenshin, if you're gonna tell her..."

"Practice WHAT?!" Kenshin cut in, his voice rising.

"What you're gonna say to her!" Sano retorted. "Didn't I tell you that from the very beginning?!"

"Sano-- Sano, that's private!" Kenshin protested. "If ever I tell her what I feel, that's between Kaoru-dono and me ONLY!"

"Kenshin, we had a deal," Sano told him. "'Sides, I can't let you do it without any prior consultation with me," he continued with a superior air. "You'll probably end up spewing 'oros and 'de gozarus' all over the place. Practice makes perfect, Kenshin. Any declaration of love should be -- polished. I KNOW I can give you a few ideas..." He grinned. "Remember? I'm THE Sanosuke Sagara..."

"I won't tell you!" Kenshin snapped at him. "And that's final!"

With a muttered oath, Sano suddenly reached over and grabbed Kenshin's shoulders. "I'm trying to help you here, you idiot! Now say it! Say it, say it,


Zooming in to the present... ^^

"...say it, SAY IT!!!!"

Megumi, leaning over, for a better look, saw Sano yanking Kenshin towards him, and uttered a strangled squeak of surprise. What the hell's going on?!


"Come on, Kenshin! You can do it!" Sano urged. "I just want the best for you!"

She felt, rather than saw or heard, Kenshin take a deep breath. "All right. I don't want to ruin our friendship..." Kenshin's voice lowered drastically.

Megumi frowned. What did he say?!


"by killing you..." Kenshin muttered.

Sano glared at him.

"Fine," Kenshin said in a louder voice, "I'll do it..."


NOW she could hear him. Megumi inched closer. And wished she hadn't. Kenshin was standing awfully close to Sano, his violet eyes somber. And Sano was staring back at him just as seriously. Megumi's eyes widened to unbelievable proportions.

"I want you to know that you're the most special person in the world to me," Kenshin said in a gentle yet firm voice.

Breathe, Megumi, breathe!!!

"I'm not very vocal about it but I care very deeply for you. In fact, I'll--" Kenshin cleared his throat. "I'll do anything for you."


Another deep breath. "And so..."

Megumi's gut clenched in horrible suspense.

"I want to say..."

Stop, Ken-san! STOP! Think about Kaoru! Think about me! Think about the children! Think about... Just THINK, damn it!

"...that I..."

Megumi wanted to run, snatch both Kenshin and Sano away, and throw them both to the deepest recesses of hell. But she couldn't move. Not when she was dangerously close to hyperventilating...

Kenshin's voice deepened huskily, "I love you."

NOW she was hyperventilating. Megumi reached out with a trembling hand to steady herself against the wall. Her vision was blurring. "It can't be," she muttered tearfully.

And then she heard a throat being cleared. Sano.

Time, for Megumi, froze as she waited for Sano's reply. He's gonna tell Ken-san, "Ooops, sorry Kenshin, I like foxes more..." Whatever.


Oh gods. Was that Sano's voice sounding so -- touched?

"I'm so touched."

Damn. She hated it when she was right.

And then, she heard what sounded suspiciously like...

*sniff* *sniff*

Oh no. Sano was-- crying?

That was Megumi's last thought before



Sano looked up sharply in surprise. "Hey, did you hear that?"

Kenshin frowned as he glanced around, "Yeah." "Sounded like something heavy fell to the ground." Sano rubbed his nose. "Probably that damned cat of Jin's. I swear, Kenshin, I've never seen such an OVERWEIGHT cat! And the biggest butt on an animal you've ever seen..."


Somewhere to their right, even as she lay spreadeagled on the ground, Megumi's left eyebrow twitched.



I know I overdid it this time ^_^ But again, I couldn't resist. Anyway, this is an OOC 'fic which I wrote just for the heck of it. And for the laughs, of course. Besides, this is just a 'transition' chapter ^^ (whatever that means). Again, sorry for the spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, etc. I was on a drinking binge when I wrote this. Coke. Gotta have Coke... ^__^

Next part: it's Kaoru's turn!!! ^^

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