I do not own Rurouni Kenshin. I don't own Sanosuke, Kenshin, Kaoru, Yahiko, or anything or anyone else related. In fact, I'm not even sure if I own the computer I'm typing this on. But I think so. Hmm. . . now that's something to ponder awhile.
Okay, I'm sure this is way out of plot. I never believe the plot to be set in stone. I keep some parts that I think suit the story, but I'm not afraid to change some parts of it as well. Please don't flame me for plot reasons.
Heavy alcohol use and some strong language.
Author's page ::: Post a review at FFnet ::: Main fan fic index

Been There and Back

by Draconian Elflord ::: 17.Jul.2003

Reflection . . . of nothing. That was it . . . nothing. A big, sandy haired jerk who couldn't even get one thing right. A big oaf who could do NOTHING to save the man he owed so much. He swallowed the dregs at the bottom, his throat far from stinging from the sake, and slapped his cup back on the bar.

'Notherone,' he called to the barkeep, his words slurring terribly. Through his double vision, he could just make out the uncountable number of strikes on his tab. How long had he been here? Sano asked himself. Seemed like forever, or maybe just a couple of days. He couldn't tell. Every time he woke up again, it was always the same time: sake time. Then somehow he'd wake up on the couch without a single memory, and he'd drag himself back to his barstool, sometimes barely able to balance, and start all over again.

Suddenly, the voice of the little miss amplified itself on his drowsy ears . . .

"What in hell do you think you're doing? Get off your ass and get back here!" Yeah, that's probably what she'd say, now that he thought of it. After that, she'd probably slap him around a bit and then storm off to her room for hours at a time, leaving him without food until he came begging on hands and knees, dying of hunger.

The barkeep came over to him and asked, in a grouchy voice, "What da poison?"

"Sameding," he motioned toward the glass, nearly tipping it over in the process.

With a wry smile, he shook his head, saying "I don't think so, Mac."

A look of puzzlement came into his reddened, crossing eyes. "Whadja mean?"

"Look here, Mac," the tender held the tab up in front of his face, "can you count how many marks on this paper here?" He nodded no.

"Too many. Pay it and get out."

"Aww, don'tdothat da me!"

"Rules, buddy. You DO have money, don't ya?"

"Dunno," he muttered honestly, pulling his money purse from his belt. "Dat enough?"

About a dozen or so coins jingled out. The tender sighed and looked him straight in the eye.

"Son, you got a place to go tonight?" he put the coins back in the purse and gave it back to him. "If you can think of anyplace, I suggest you go there now and sign your name on this thing 'til ya got the dough. 'Cause Mac, I ain't wanted to tell you this, business and all, you know, but you look like death, son."

Sanosuke took up a pen and started to sign, but he couldn't seem to focus. The tender grabbed the pen easily out of his hand.

"How d'ya spell it?"

"S-a-n-o-s . . . um . . . gimme a minute . . . either u . . . or do ya skip right to k?"

"Sano's good enough," he started to lead him toward the door. "You do have a place to go, don'tcha?"

"Maybe . . . if I cun find it . . ."

"Hey," the tender called to the rest of the bar. "Anybody know Sano here?"

No answer. Nobody here knew him.

"Be careful, San'" the barkeep led him outside. "I don't want anything to happen to ya, okay? Just go home, wherever that is, you understand?"

"Sureding," Stumbling away. The bar door closed and he was alone in the empty street on the backstreets of Tokyo.

Sano laughed, half to himself. He wasn't going home. He might never go back to the dojo. And why would he? Kenshin was the only reason he'd come in the first place. And now he was gone.

'Jesus, Kenshin, why'dja have to die?' he thought to himself. 'Son-of- a-bitch gone and got himself dead by a frigging mummy. 'Least ya killed him, too. And now what am I 'sposed to do? Huh? What the hell am I 'sposed to do now, Kenshin?"

Nothing he could do to save the man who had saved him time and time again. Fate was so twisted sometimes. Life wasn't fair. And now nothing to do but find someplace where he still had credit for more booze.

Suddenly, he tripped over something in the dark, which gave a little yelp. Sano stumbled to the ground, cursing.

"Watch where you're going, you frigging bas-"

"Who you callin' a bastard, you bastard? You're the one who ran out!"

Sanosuke squinted, trying to get his bearings. Who was he talking to?

"Who dahell you?" he asked.

"Who do you think, idiot? It's me!"

"Who 'me'?"

Suddenly, a match was struck. Sano blinked in the fierce light, still trying to get his bearing. The figure before him . . .

"Yahiko?" he asked, amazedly. "Whatchya doin' out this time night?"

"Come to find your ass," the match spluttered out. "Been looking all day. Get up. Let's go."

"No," he answered. "I ain'tgoin' back to-" he had to take a pause to vomit, doing his best to miss both he and Yahiko.

"Eww," the boy exclaimed. "Whatsa matter with you?"

"I dunno. I think I had a lil' . . ."

Blackness . . .

* * *

The sun attacked his eyes like so many knives. He groaned, and groped for a blanket to cover his face, but couldn't' find one. Where was he, anyways? Last he remembered, he got thrown outta the bar. Then he met up with someone . . . and it was . . . wait a minute. With a cry of agony, he opened his eyes.

The dojo.

'Jesus Christ, why'd you have to bring me here?' he thought to himself. His head was splitting with pain. He was so tired . . . Suddenly, he felt the rumble come up from under his stomach into his throat. No place to do it cleanly . . .

"GLAAAAAAAAAAH! Aww, that feels better!"

"You son of a bitch!" a voice suddenly broke through the silence, cracking his skull open. "How the hell am I 'sposed to keep clean with you around?"

Kaoru . . . how did he know?

"Good morning," he grinned, eyes crossed.

"Don't you good morning me, mister!" the red-faced girl screamed, taking out a mop and rubbing fiercely at the mess. "You run off for two whole days and all you can say is 'good morning'?!?"

"What else am I supposed to say?" he asked drowsily.

"Oh, don't gimme that!" she suddenly grabbed him out of the mat he'd been sleeping on. "Do you know how worried we've been? What were you thinking?"

"You're not the boss of me," he cried. "I'm a grown man! I go where I want when I want."

Kaoru couldn't argue with him, so she just turned away and started mopping insanely at another bit of floor, growling under her breath.

"Sure," she muttered under her breath. "You're a grown man and you can do whatever the hell you want."

For a few minutes, she didn't speak to him, just mopped savagely and looked away from him. She was obviously biting back insults were building up her throat.

"Sorry," he admitted finally. "Kinda went off the wagon, didn't I?"

"Thank you, Mr. Understatement," she grumbled. "I 'spose the ocean's just a big lake, right?"

"I said I was sorry!"

"You think one measly sorry is gonna change things?" she shouted. "You think it's make a difference?"

No answer. Nothing for him to answer at all, as the answer, at this time, anyway, he couldn't answer. He wanted to hold on to what ego he still had intact. Kaoru had stopped mopping now. The mop had fallen from her hands as she stared out the paper screens to the sunshine outside.

"Yahiko brought you home all by himself last night," she said in a distracted way. "He's getting so strong. He's already out there practicing. He'll make a fine heir for the Mitsourugi style."

Heir of the Mitsourugi . . . Kenshin's style. It suddenly occurred to Sanosuke that he wasn't the only one who had been hurt here. Kaoru herself, more than anyone else, had been hurt. It was no secret that she'd loved Kenshin very much, very likely her first love. Though he was several years older than she, it was plain to see love crossed that barrier for her. Sanosuke thought of his own first love . . . and how bad it had hurt . . .

What about Yahiko himself? Maybe it was an unspoken agreement, but he looked up to Kenshin, almost like a sensei. He'd studied Kenshin's style, and, now that he thought of it, had learned awfully well. Now that sensei, that sacred bond, was gone . . .

And of course, those little girls. They'd been so used to having him around, they even called him 'Uncle Ken.' When he'd left, they could be found crying, waiting for him to come back.

Heck, Megumi was probably crying herself, though only into her pillows. But under the ruse, everybody knew that Megumi had felt something for Kenshin. After all, he had saved her from a life that she abhorred and gave her something to live for. It was likely she loved Kenshin just like Kaoru had, but with the view of a more mature woman. That might make it hurt all the more.

All these people had gone through the same or worse pain, and all this time, he'd only been thinking of his own anguish. In drowning his own sorrows, he'd completely forgotten about everything, and, so it seemed, everybody else. He'd been a selfish bigot and he hadn't even known it!!!

"Jeez," he muttered under his breath.

"What?" Kaoru asked.

"Oh . . . nothing," he muttered back to her. Some things oughtn't to be said aloud.

More silence.

"I'm sorry, Kaoru," he sighed.

"I know you are," she answered. "I'm sorry too."

"You . . . what for?" he asked. "I thought I was the one who screwed up."

"No . . . no . . . I shouldn't have yelled at you!" she shouted at herself.

"Doesn't' matter," he answered. "I've been yelled at a lot in my time."

"I don't care," she continued. "That doesn't make it right."

More silence.

"I guess I should just let you sleep," she stood up and walked out of the room, dragging the mop behind her. "I'm making soup for lunch today."

"Sounds good," he yawned, lying back down on his pillow. "I'll be there."

She wasn't so bad, he decided as his eyes closed, still sore from the two-day binge. Now that he thought of it, she wasn't bad at all. After all, she'd taken in a regular bum without question and let him stay, even though she really couldn't afford it. Sure, she might not be perfect, but she was always there no matter what, and that was a nice thing to count on.

Now that he thought of it, no one had ever been there for him before the dojo. Sure, he'd had friends, but they weren't really friends, more like someone who was a friend when they needed something from you. And for a long time, that had been just fine by him, as most of the time, he had nothing to give anyway. The lonely life suited him just fine.

But then again, that was before Kenshin and everything . . .

Kenshin actually died very gracefully, he thought before he started to fall back into dreams. He'd have never wanted everyone to carry on like this. It just wasn't his style. Most of all, he hated making Kaoru cry. That was the last thing he wanted to do. But some things can't be avoided.

How many tears had she cried in these last few days anyway?

With a sudden shock, Sanosuke realized something. Now that Kenshin was dead, he was now . . . well . . . the man of the dojo, so to say. Yikes. Kinda a big responsibility, that one was. Now it was his responsibility to protect Kaoru, Yahiko, and the little girls. Perhaps it was kinda sexist, but he'd always been taught that it was the man's role to protect the women. And as much as he wanted to be, Yahiko wasn't quite a man yet. Maybe in a few years. But until then . . .

"Sounds like I got some work cut for me," he muttered to himself as his mind drifted off the warm rift into the soft ravine.



Author's page ::: Post a review at FFnet ::: Main fan fic index