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06 December 2005 @ 10:11 pm
Jan 1, 1858 - Morning  
It's still dark when Hotta-san and I leave the inn at the last village along the road before it winds its way into Edo. The Old Man walks in front with the lantern to light the way. It's so cold I can see my breath and I wrap my red haori a little tighter around me. The wind seems insulted by the gesture and tugs bit more insistently at the edges of my clothing.



Gradually the day grows lighter and I can see the shrubs and grass along the edge of the road are covered in frost. Damn, why did we have to go all the way to Yokohama now? I scowl at Hotta-san's backside. Really, the Old Man is too much trouble sometimes.

It takes us a good hour to reach the outskirts of the city. Despite the cold, I see signs of the city stirring to life. A festive attitude hangs over the many dwellings and inns we pass and a few people are even already out and about, excited to greet the new year.

"Well Toshizo, this is where we part ways. Give everyone at the Shieikan and your family my greetings!" Hotta-san says with a wave, then turns off down a narrow sidestreet.

"Alright, I will. And stay out of trouble, Old Man!" I holler after him with a slight laugh. He just waves again over his shoulder and keeps going.

Shifting my medicine box a bit, I head off toward the Ichigaya area of Edo. Fortunately it's not far away and so only a short time later I am stepping through the front gate of the Shieikan Dojo. The fact that it's open is a sure sign Gen-san is already up and about, probably helping to get things ready for the big event today.

Speaking of the big event, I wonder where the guest of honor is hiding?

I quietly enter the house and head off towards the guestroom, or as some call it, the "freeloaders' room". There's a couple of students still lying in bed when I enter and set my stuff down in the corner where I always sleep.

Exiting the room again, I walk back out into the kitchen to see about getting some tea to warm myself up with...
 
 
 
gen_san on December 7th, 2005 03:57 am (UTC)
I glance up from preparing where I'm preparing trays for the morning's meal when I hear someone enter the room. I grin when I see who it is.

"Ah, Toshi! So you got back in time after all. Come, come! Sit here. I'll get you some tea," I offer. He looks like he could use a warm drink right about now and I don't mind getting it for him one bit. I love to help out. Makes me feel like I'm doing something useful with my time.

I already have some water heated so it only takes a few seconds to prepare it as he has a seat by the firepit. Coming over to his side, I sit down next to him and offer him a cup. "So how was everything in Yokohama?" I ask gravely. I wish he wouldn't go to that place anymore! I keep hearing that foreigners are calling there these days...
Hijikata Toshizo: Shieikan Toshitoshi_hijikata on December 7th, 2005 04:14 am (UTC)
I gratefully take the tea from Gen-san and sip a little of it before I answer his question.

"It's about the same as ever, for the moment anyway. The people living there are starting to get nervous of course. There's a lot of folks talking about taking things into their own hands and running the Merikans off when they try to move in if the shogunate won't do anything. I think it's just talk though. I don't think any of them will be brave enough to actually start anything."

I take another sip of the tea, trying to warm myself back up. "I haven't seen any foreigners yet. I keep hearing there are some around, but there must not be a lot of them. I don't know if I'll keep going back if a bunch of them gather there though. I don't spend my time around a bunch of people who smell like cows."

Finishing off the tea, I set the cup back on the tray. "Thank you," I say. "It was very cold this morning. It looked like it might even snow before the day is over."
gen_san on December 7th, 2005 04:23 am (UTC)
I shake my head as Toshi-kun tells me about the situation in Yokohama. If the emperor approves that treaty... Well, I don't blame the folks living there for being upset. I don't want the foreigners this close to Edo either.

"Well, if they do come then it would be best if you didn't go back. We want you here anyways," I assure him with a small laugh.

I put away the tray and cup, then grab the breakfast trays. "Well, if you'll excuse me. Kondo-sensei and his wife will be wanting their morning meal so they can get to the temple early. We have a lot to get done today."

I glance out the kitchen window though, to check the weather for myself. The low clouds make me shake my head. "I'm afraid you might be right. I hope this doesn't delay the genpuku ceremony..."

Shaking my head again, I leave the kitchen.

(exits thread)
Hijikata Toshizo: Shieikan Toshitoshi_hijikata on December 7th, 2005 04:28 am (UTC)
I sigh as Gen-san leaves the room. That's right. The brat is fifteen today. I wonder what time they're planning on doing that ceremony?

I lie back, tucking my arms behind my head for support. It feels too good by the fire to go anywhere else at the moment.
沖田総司: kid 2okita_sojirou on December 7th, 2005 04:42 am (UTC)
"There you are!" I say, peering down at him with a grin. "Where've you been? And so early, too! I thought you weren't a morning person..."
Hijikata Toshizo: Young Toshitoshi_hijikata on December 7th, 2005 04:56 am (UTC)
I have almost dozed off when I hear that familiar, cheerful voice: "There you are!"

I open my eyes to see Souji's grin right above me. "Where've you been? And so early, too! I thought you weren't a morning person..."

"Hotta-san had to go to Yokohama suddenly. I couldn't very well let the old fool go alone. The roads are so dangerous these days. And it wasn't my idea to be out this early. He dragged me out of the inn before daybreak, because he wanted to get home and see his grandchildren."

I yawn. "So today is the day, huh?" I reach up and give one of his long, whispy bangs a slight tug. "I don't know how I feel about them cutting all this off though. I just might not recognize you anymore," I tease.
沖田総司: kid 2okita_sojirou on December 7th, 2005 05:54 am (UTC)
Hotta-san had to go to Yokohama suddenly.

"That far? But it's freezing out! Too bad you don't seem to have caught any frostbite." I wrinkle my nose at him, poking his forehead with a finger. "How is Hotta-san's family doing?"

So today is the day, huh?

"Uh-huh," I nod bobbing my head as he twiddles with my hair. "I'm positively buzzing! Ugh. I think I'm going to be sick..."

I don't know how I feel about them cutting all this off though. I just might not recognize you anymore.

"Wouldn't that be a blessing?" I tease back, pulling at -his- hair almost roughly. "No shaving my head, you hear?"
Hijikata Toshizo: Shieikan Toshitoshi_hijikata on December 7th, 2005 06:32 am (UTC)
"That far? But it's freezing out! Too bad you don't seem to have caught any frostbite." He wrinkles his nose and pokes me in the forehead to finish making his point.

I just smirk in response and shrug. "That's because I have the good sense to bundle up when it's cold, unlike some people I could name."

"How is Hotta-san's family doing?"

I sigh. "I didn't see them this time, but they're well from what he says. I think his daughter is almost over that fever now." I scowl suddenly. "I still don't see why her husband or someone else couldn't tag along with the Old Man though. Don't they know how dangerous the roads are these days?"

Well, I guess they do know. Maybe they have a good reason for letting Hotta-san continue on in such a dangerous job all on his own. It's really none of my business I suppose.

Souji nods when I mention his upcoming genpuku. "I'm positively buzzing! Ugh. I think I'm going to be sick..."

I glare up at him then. "Get sick on me and you die," I warn him.

"Wouldn't that be a blessing?" I'm surprised when he reaches out and tugs my hair just a little more firmly in response to my tease about cutting his bangs off. "No shaving my head, you hear?"

I grin. "You shouldn't worry. Even if I did, no one would mistake you for a monk," I assure him.



沖田総司: kid 2okita_sojirou on December 7th, 2005 06:48 am (UTC)
"I'm glad, then, that they somehow manage. Stability is hard to come by lately. Don't worry, Hotta-san is capable of taking care of himself, I'm sure. He wouldn't have taken the job if he isn't."

Get sick on me and you die,

I had to laugh at this.

You shouldn't worry. Even if I did, no one would mistake you for a monk,

I narrow my eyes at him--"That so, huh??"--and pretend that I was going to barf on him, making disgusting, sloppy sounds while I'm at it. "I look more like a monk that you will ever be!"
Hijikata Toshizotoshi_hijikata on December 8th, 2005 01:19 am (UTC)
"I'm glad, then, that they somehow manage. Stability is hard to come by lately. Don't worry, Hotta-san is capable of taking care of himself, I'm sure. He wouldn't have taken the job if he isn't."

I only grunt in reply. I don't understand Hotta-san's reasons myself, but I have a feeling that he really needs the money. That's why he keeps at it even when he knows it would be wiser for him to quit being a peddler. And that just adds to my own problems...

When I set out to become a peddler, it was my intention to use that as a way to study swordsmanship since I couldn't enroll in a dojo full-time. It made me stronger at fencing as I had hoped and I've learned many things I might not have if I had only learned from one master. The only problem is that there is no one who would view my mixed swordstyle as anything but an abomination. I'll certainly never be licensed at this rate!

It's not that I don't have another route I could pursue. I've been told that I could stay here at the Shieikan and study Tennen Rishin Ryu if I want to. But there's a catch. Kondo-sensei told me I would have to start over from scratch. Dammit, but I'm a bit old to be starting again as a novice!

I've never known as swordsman who started any later than his late teens. At the rate it would take me to learn Tennen Rishin Ryu, I'll be an old man before I'm finished. What the hell good is that going to do me? Still, it's better than the alternative I suppose.

But then there's Hotta-san... If I quit peddling, he'll be out there on the roads all alone. I haven't mentioned it to any of my friends or family, but we've had men try to rob us twice just in the last six months. Fortunately the two of us together were able to fend them off both times, but I'm not at all optimistic that our good luck can continue that way. The next time one of us might get hurt. So how could the Old Man possible be expected to do it all on his own?

Just the thought of abandoning him like that makes me feel guilty. And feeling guilty pisses me off, because I know better than to bring personal feelings into a business arrangement. And that's all our partnership ever really was. We traveled together because there is safety in numbers. Hotta-san taught me the tricks of the trade and a good bit about people. I carried the heavier loads for him. It benefitted both of us. But now that I no longer want to be a peddler, the arrangement is no longer useful to me. That should be the end of it. So why isn't it?

Of course it's hard to really reflect on these things and try to come up with any answers when someone is leaning over you, pretending they're about to be ill. I scowl at Souji, then close my eyes to let him know I have every intention of ignoring him.

"I look more like a monk that you will ever be!"

One eye flies open again as I give him a hard look. "I don't think that's something you really want to brag about. I for one am very glad no one could confuse me with some stuffy old guy who just sits around drinking tea and meditating all day."

Yawning, I stretch my tired muscles. "Were you planning on visiting one of the temples today? I was thinking of breaking with tradition myself. It's not like it's done me a lot of good in the past," I mutter almost bitterly.




沖田総司: kidokita_sojirou on December 8th, 2005 03:29 am (UTC)
"You know, Toshi-nii, if you so insist on scowling like that, you might as well work in the fields as a scarecrow." I lean back on my hunches, looking as cross as I can.

I don't think that's something you really want to brag about. I for one am very glad no one could confuse me with some stuffy old guy who just sits around drinking tea and meditating all day.

Speaking of tea, I came here to make one.

"Well then if that's the case, you're perfectly fit for the job after all!" I grab a cup from the cabinet then join him at the table again. "You're stuffy, you can almost pass as an old man will all those creases in your face," I tick off my arguments on my fingers. "you sit around drinking tea...okay, so maybe not all day but more often than any man I've known..." The look he gives me is not letting up; if anything, it gets deeper. "Three out of four, you see? That has to amount to something."

The warmth that radiates through the ceramic is a godsend. "Ummm..." I credit him, however, for having good taste when it comes to tea.

Were you planning on visiting one of the temples today? I was thinking of breaking with tradition myself.

"Actually, I was hoping you'd come with me." I'm not one for religious ceremonies either, but I suppose this is one landmark in my life that the gods will be looking closely at. The last time I paid any temple a proper visit was when I asked the gods to give our neighbor a hernia for bullying me. Mou, I wonder what became of him...

It's not like it's done me a lot of good in the past.

"Then won't this be a perfect opportunity to settle accounts, Toshi-nii?" Realization hits me that I will no longer be calling him that after today. It's not...manly. I let it roll on my tongue for a while as I watch the tea swirl around in my cup. "Toshi-nii, Toshi-nii... Y'know, I'll miss calling you that because I know you sorta hate it."

I suppose I'll miss a lot of things...But not like I had a proper childhood anyway...
Hijikata Toshizotoshi_hijikata on December 8th, 2005 03:15 pm (UTC)
"You know, Toshi-nii, if you so insist on scowling like that, you might as well work in the fields as a scarecrow."

"Hmph!" I ignore that remark.

However the argument about who is more like a monk continues as he makes himself some tea...

"Well then if that's the case, you're perfectly fit for the job after all!"

I glare at him, daring him to finish his remark. He does...

"You're stuffy, you can almost pass as an old man will all those creases in your face," he says, counting off everything he lists as he goes, "you sit around drinking tea...okay, so maybe not all day but more often than any man I've known..."

What the hell...?! I am not stuffy! And there's no way I look old! Maybe there's something wrong with Souji's eyes... And why shouldn't I drink tea? Would he rather I sat around drinking sake all day? How would I be able to peddle medicine or practice like that? I have my reasons, dammit!

"Three out of four, you see? That has to amount to something."

"Monks are docile and forgiving and all that crap. When have you ever known me to be any of those things?" Then I give him a smirk. "And I've never been accused by any woman of being "stuffy" and "old". They always..."

Suddenly I look him in the eyes and my words trail off. I find myself shrugging instead and looking up at the ceiling. It's funny, but it's been like this for a while now. I can't really talk to Souji about women for some odd reason.

Perhaps I'm just afraid of being a bad influence on him the way some folks say my older brother, Tamejiro, was on me. I know what some folks say about me and my dealings with women and it's never bothered me. But still... Maybe I just don't want Souji to be like me in this respect. Maybe because I have far too much personal experience with what sort of trouble a man can get himself into, I don't want him thinking that the things I've done are okay or, worse yet, trying to follow the bad example I've been setting.

Yeah, that must be it... In any case, I simply drop it and answer him another way.

"I dare you to suggest to any of the other students here that I'm anything like a monk. They'd laugh you right out of the dojo and tell you I'm closer to a demon than a saint."

Apparently Souji isn't ready to give up on the notion of converting me into a monk just yet though. When I mention that I don't plan to go to the temple today, he prods me to reconsider.

"Actually, I was hoping you'd come with me."

I glance over at him. Well, I guess that shouldn't be surprising. It is a big day for him...

"Then won't this be a perfect opportunity to settle accounts, Toshi-nii?"

Settle accounts? What for? I've been asking the gods to help me become a samurai for so long now... I don't really believe that they're listening to me anymore. Someone like me, I have only myself to rely on in this world. I have to make my own good fortune. Going to a temple is just a waste for me.

But then Souji speaks again...

"Toshi-nii, Toshi-nii... Y'know, I'll miss calling you that because I know you sorta hate it."

Hmph. I never have liked being addressed that way. It just sounds too... old or something. But I suppose that in a way... I'm going to miss it too.

Souji will be a samurai after today. But I... I'm still just a medicine peddler from Tama. Our being friends was fine while he was a child. But how long can friendship last between a samurai and a peasant?

Hell, I know there have been lots of times that Souji only tried so hard because he thought it would please me. And I pushed him because I wanted him to succeed in things I would never be allowed to. I guess I'm guilty in a way of trying to live my dreams through him. I pushed him more than anyone and I know he missed out on a lot of things because of that. I just hope he doesn't hate me for it someday.

Yet even if he doesn't, I guess I can't really push him anymore. Like I said before, that might have been okay when he was a child. It's not going to be okay now that he's a man. Whoever heard of a samurai taking orders from a medicine peddler?

Damn. Now I'm regretting things. I hate regret... "Fine, I'll go to the temple with you."
沖田総司: kidokita_sojirou on December 12th, 2005 05:33 am (UTC)
And I've never been accused by any woman of being "stuffy" and "old". They always...

Always...what? Mou, there he goes again! It's like he could never talk about women around me. Why is that? Because he thinks I don't know anything about women, perhaps? He should know better than that. I've had enough "visual education" than any proper fifteen year old should have had thanks to Harada-san. Those scrolls are utterly scandalous...I've never really had a taste for them that's why one pass is enough. Nevertheless, I tuck my questions at the back of my mind for later.

I dare you to suggest to any of the other students here that I'm anything like a monk. They'd laugh you right out of the dojo and tell you I'm closer to a demon than a saint.

I just might. Why don't I set up a poll? But of course I don't tell him that. Personally, though, I do think he'd make an impressive oni. He's got enough menace to fit the position.

He takes a while to make up his mind about coming with me to the temple, but concedes anyway. Hmm...I wonder what went on between that minute inside his head? What's he thinking this time?

"Is ane-ue coming today?" I ask. I want my sister to be there, too..."Kondo-san would have liked her to be here." Didn't he take a liking to ane-ue before?

The steam from the tea is thinning, and again I feel nostalgic. "After today, I'll no longer be Soujirou, will I? Do you have any idea what my new name will be? I don't. I haven't really thought about it." There's no point asking him that but... Oh well. I can't imagine myself to be a different Me...In a few years, I'll look back and see Soujirou the boy looking back and me and I'm scared of not being able to remember who he was. I'm worried I'd forget.

"You won't forget Soujirou, will you?"
Hijikata Toshizo: Medicine Peddlertoshi_hijikata on December 13th, 2005 02:29 am (UTC)
"Is ane-ue coming today?" I hear Souji ask. "Kondo-san would have liked her to be here."

I give him a puzzled look, wondering why he would think Mitsu-chan would miss such an important event. "Of course she'll be there. I doubt a horde of bandits could keep her away," I assure him. However I'm not sure if he's listening to me or not...

"After today, I'll no longer be Soujirou, will I? Do you have any idea what my new name will be? I don't. I haven't really thought about it."

I really must look confused now. Something about the way he asks about his new name suggests to me that something is bothering him, but I have no idea what it could be.

"You won't forget Soujirou, will you?"

"'Forget Soujirou?' Why would you ever think such a thing?" How could I possibly forget you, Souji? If anything, I'm the one who should be worried about being forgotten...



沖田総司: kid 2okita_sojirou on December 13th, 2005 03:33 am (UTC)
The look of utter cluelessness blossoms on his face. "It's me being silly, is all." I shrug nonchalantly. Like that would help parry another string of questioning...

"Look at me," a sudden change of mood is in order. "I'm fretting over the smallest things. It's not like I'm getting married!" Nor, if I had been, I'm not exactly the right gender to be worrying about the intricacies of such ceremonies.

Which reminds me..."Speaking of which, Hijikata-san, what were you supposed to say earlier when you suddenly zoned off on me again? Something about women?" I replace my worries with a grin. This should make for an interesting conversation...
Hijikata Toshizo: Medicine Peddlertoshi_hijikata on December 13th, 2005 10:46 pm (UTC)
"It's me being silly, is all."

Souji asks me not to "forget" him out of the blue and then thinks I'm going to settle for this as the reason why? I frown.

"It doesn't sound like you're just "being silly" to me," I mutter. However he's already trying to cover up whatever is bugging him.

"Look at me," he says. "I'm fretting over the smallest things. It's not like I'm getting married!"

My frown only deepens, but he carries the conversation off in another direction entirely before I can say anything.

"Speaking of which, Hijikata-san, what were you supposed to say earlier when you suddenly zoned off on me again? Something about women?"

I close my left eye and just stare hard at him with the right one in what my sister fondly refers to as my "what-the-hell" expression. "It's not anything that important. I shouldn't have brought it up at all actually. Let's just say that I don't think your sister or anyone else would like it very much if I got you involved in the same sort of affairs with women I get myself mixed up in. The less you know about that, the better off you'll be."

Sighing, I get up and go make myself some more tea. The last thing Souji needs is for me to introduce him to the hedonistic lifestyle of the floating world.

As I sip my drink, I glance out the window and note that I was right about it snowing today. Large, fluffy flakes are already falling from the sky and are quickly covering the ground in a thin blanket of white. It must have started after I spoke with Gen-san...

"What was with the sudden worry over your new name and this "being forgotten" deal?" I suddenly ask. I can't help but feel more than a bit concerned by his strange questions. Why would he think that I would forget him? Unless...

All at once my fears that his status in life could change our relationship for the worse someday seem a bit more immediate. What if it's already started? What if Souji knows something about his future that he's not telling me? "Souji... You're not leaving the dojo... are you?"
沖田総司: short hairokita_sojirou on December 16th, 2005 03:09 am (UTC)
I shouldn't have brought it up at all actually. he says as he gives me that infamous look. Let's just say that I don't think your sister or anyone else would like it very much if I got you involved in the same sort of affairs with women I get myself mixed up in.

Correction, -torrid- affairs from what I've heard. Honestly! I can't even see myself carrying on such clandestine relationships as he does. Soujirou the womanizer. It just doesn't fit.

The less you know about that, the better off you'll be.

I can't help but feel a little disappointed. Betrayed even, if only I was the moping type. I trusted him all these years with my education... and I suppose with everything else in between... But then why can't he trust me? Sure he takes it upon himself to be the protector of my morals, but there has to be some reason behind his stubborness...ne? He's suspiciously defensive--not to mention that recent habit of his of looking at me then trailing off at the slightest insinuation of a 'woman'--is not helping matters at all either. All I can do is stare at him wide-eyed and act the clueless, innocent "brat" that he wants me to be.

He makes some tea and, while doing so, he reverts to the second best thing he does: change the subject.

What was with the sudden worry over your new name and this "being forgotten" deal?

That's a good question, Toshi-nii. Why did I bring it up in the first place? I really don't want to dignify that with an answer...Because I have none.

Well, I suppose I have...But is it even appropriate to tell him that? Lately I've been thinking a lot about where I'm headed. I am too aware of where this life will take me; what will consume me down the road.

"One who is Samurai must before all things constantly keep in mind, by day and by night, the fact that he has to die.


Daidouji Yuzan-sama once said that two centuries ago. I read it from one of Shusuke-sensei's books that I stole borrowed with a pretense that Yamanami-san wanted me to read it.

I has not left my mind since. Although after persistent reassurances from my mentors, a foreboding still makes itself unignorable whenever I think about it. As best I can, I try to keep it at the back of my head anyway. Certainly not a thought that a child like me should fret over, ne?

"I just want something to anchor myself with as the years pass by, I guess," although by no means did I spend my time being "Soujirou" a conventional one. "and if I forget, I want you to remind me of it." I hope he understands that I'm entrusting more of myself to him this way. "Just don't die on me before I do." Not you nor anyone.

It's a cold, gloomy day. I am wistful, reflective, romantic. Like a child panda watching snowdrops clutch on bamboo leaves from a damn cave he calls home.

"And no," I snort at his question about me leaving. "Don't be ridiculous. I'm not leaving even if you wanted me to." What's he talking about? Of course I'm not about to withdraw myself from the one other family I know!

"All of you would miss me too much, and that would be such a pity. Tell me, who'll give Gen-san a run for his money or remind him to take his medicine for his rheumatism? Or slip Kondo-san his kuro-ame when nobody's looking? And who'll Tadaji-san massacre in jujitsu, and Yamanami-san pester with calligraphy, arithmetic and geography? But most importantly..." I grin. It feels so good to be back to my usual cocky, annoying self. Well, as far as Hijikata Toshizou is concerned. "Who'll teach me to fraternize with women as well as I know you will," I try on my best impersonation of a jewel-eyed geisha, coquettishly batting my eyelashes with a tilt of my head. "Hi~ji~ka~ta-saaan?"

Should I run?...
Hijikata Toshizotoshi_hijikata on December 17th, 2005 12:42 am (UTC)
"I just want something to anchor myself with as the years pass by, I guess," he says, "and if I forget, I want you to remind me of it."

I raise an eyebrow at this bit at this. So that's what is with him today. Hmph. Believe me Souji, I would do anything I could to keep you just as you are now...

"Just don't die on me before I do."

I give him a scowl which clearly says, and why would -I- want you to die before me?! Selfish brat...

"And no, don't be ridiculous. I'm not leaving even if you wanted me to."

At least that is a relief. I couldn't even begin to imagine life around here without Souji. As he too well knows...

"All of you would miss me too much, and that would be such a pity. Tell me, who'll give Gen-san a run for his money or remind him to take his medicine for his rheumatism? Or slip Kondo-san his kuro-ame when nobody's looking? And who'll Tadaji-san massacre in jujitsu, and Yamanami-san pester with calligraphy, arithmetic and geography? But most importantly..."

Oh no, here it comes...

"Who'll teach me to fraternize with women as well as I know you will, Hi~ji~ka~ta-saaan?"

I frown. He looks disturbingly feminine when he batts his eyes and tilts his head like that. No boy should be able to mimic a geisha so well. But even more disturbing is the fact that I notice just how well he mimics one...

I force my attention back to his words. "Fraternize with women?" I give him a scowl. That last thing I have any intention of doing is teaching him that. Perhaps I should tell him just a bit, so he'll understand... "Alright, you want to know about the floating world? I'll tell you. But I promise it's not going to be very nice, so decide now if you really want to know, because it might just change how you see me."

That's not really what I want of course, but it's better than having Souji follow down the same path I've taken in life.









ane_san on December 19th, 2005 02:56 am (UTC)
[ coming from here ]

...it was the problems between Toshi and Kiroku-san that I was referring to. Though I'm sure that, whatever it is, Tamejiro-san will manage to be right in the middle of it.

"Bottom line is, Gen-san, is that the Hijikata brothers are such a handful!" I just have to shake my head at it and laugh.

Oh, it seems that my little Shrimp is wide awake and up and running already! That's him I definitely hear chatterin in the kitchen. And where the Shrimp is, the Pickled Radish is sure to follow. Just like a well-prepared bento box. If that baritone isn't his, well... I must be getting old and hearing things.

And it must be so because it sounds like Toshizou-san is talking about... the Floating World?...!

So, Mitsu-chan, here we are! I'll get you that tea now.

Gen-san announces a little too loudly just when I'm about to barge in and demand that Toshizou hold his tongue. My brother doesn't have to hear this from him!

"Tea would be just grand, Gen-san. Thank you. Hello, Soujirou." I lavish him with a cheeky grin before I turn and pin down the youngest Hijikata sibling with a firm, expectant glare. "Now Toshizou, are you gracious enough to share with us what you have been filling my brother's head with?"
Hijikata Toshizo: Shieikan Toshitoshi_hijikata on December 19th, 2005 04:02 am (UTC)
Before Souji can say anything, I hear Gen-san asking in a very loud voice if Mitsu-chan would like some tea. Obviously it was meant as a warning, but he was far too late.

Souji's sister comes into the kitchen and gives him a warm greeting before turning her attention to me. "Now Toshizou, are you gracious enough to share with us what you have been filling my brother's head with?"

Oh damn...

"It isn't what you think Mitsu, I swear! I was just going to tell him what a horrible place it is so he wouldn't want to go there! Honest!" I move over beside her and say in a voice low enough so that only she can hear. "He was asking about women earlier. I thought it was better to give him some sort of answer, rather than letting him stay curious and maybe getting the idea to find out for himself."

Yeah, like that's going to save me...

沖田総司: wided-eyed (b&w)okita_sojirou on December 19th, 2005 03:40 am (UTC)
"Ane-ue!" I all but manage to keep myself from flying straight at her. I'm very much entitled to, anyway. Well, at least not until the actual ceremonies; until then, I won't have to act like a man and be so...stiff.

"Got me anything? Huh? Huh? Didja? Didja?"

ane_san on December 19th, 2005 04:57 am (UTC)
"Women, huh?" I quirk an eyebrow at Toshizo-san. "And I wonder who would give him that idea?" Of course, I'm just trying to be cheeky. Any self-respecting young boy on the verge of manhood would be interested in women. Just to what extent, I don't want to know. But my brother is too cloistered for his own good; he would do well to hang around "learned" men.

Okay, so maybe not too much. I can trust Toshizo-san to take care of my little brother, can't I?

"Just keep him curious," I whisper. "He's smart enough to discover things on his own. But be warned that he's going to ask a lot of questions."

No sooner do I blink that I find myself facing huge, very expectant eyes it's almost comical.

Got me anything? Huh? Huh? Didja? Didja?

"Oh I got something for you, alright. A good whipping and, oh look," I dig into the small furoshiki I brought along with me while tugging at his hair. "Shears."
Hijikata Toshizotoshi_hijikata on December 19th, 2005 08:41 am (UTC)
I'm relieved to learn I shall live for another day. Mitsu-chan fortunately is more rational than my sister about these things.

"You have my word on that," I tell her with a grin.

But then, in response to Okita's excited questions, she pulls out some shears. I frown. "So, you're all really planning to cut his hair?" Okay, a silly thing to be worried over, but still...
沖田総司: wolf pupokita_sojirou on December 20th, 2005 05:12 am (UTC)
What are these two talking about?

But my interest in their very grown up conversation is cut unfortunately short when ane-ue takes out a pair of shears. Terrible, menacing, glinting shears. At the mere sight of it, it's like being doused with cold water and pinpricked by a thousand needles down my back.

"NOOO!" I dive behind Toshi-nii, hoping that his shadow will be enough to hide me from my horrific fate. "I said no cutting my hair!" My hands begin to feel clamy around a bundle. Discretely, I wipe it off on Toshi-nii's kimono.

"Ane-ue becomes possessed with those in her hands!" Yes, I am vain! I admit it wholeheartedly! Anything but the damn hair!
ane_san on December 20th, 2005 07:21 am (UTC)
So, you're all really planning to cut his hair?

"Snip snip." Ooh joy. These are the precious moments that I live for. It's not everyday that I get to terrorize the Shieikan's prodigy. If only our living situation were a bit different, I would have turned him into a poor, skittish mouse. Alas, I'm not as fortunate.

He hides behind Toshizou with a squeal. NOOO! I said no cutting my hair!

"Oh come now, Soujirou," Snip snip. "That hair of yours will fetch us good money if we sell it to the hairdresser. Besides, it would pay for all preparations I did for your genpuku." Soujirou's hair had always been fine like a babe's; even I tend to be jealous sometimes. And I'm supposed to be the woman here. "Just think of the geisha who'll wear it on stage. She'll be the star of Gion on the sole virtue of her hair alone. You're doing a...civil duty."

Snip snip. My amusement deepens as he cowers behind Toshizou-san even more. Sigh. These ARE the good old days...
Hijikata Toshizotoshi_hijikata on December 20th, 2005 01:58 pm (UTC)
"NOOO!"

The next thing I know, Souji is hiding behind me in a vain effort to avoid the shears.

"I said no cutting my hair!"

This would be amusing, except that I feel clamy little hands being wiped off on my kimono. Oh well, at least I haven't changed yet. This one is filthy from my journey to Yokohama anyway...

"Ane-ue becomes possessed with those in her hands!"

"Oh come now, Soujirou," Snip snip. "That hair of yours will fetch us good money if we sell it to the hairdresser. Besides, it would pay for all preparations I did for your genpuku."

I think I cringe nearly as much as Souji does as Mitsu-chan toys with the shears.

"Just think of the geisha who'll wear it on stage. She'll be the star of Gion on the sole virtue of her hair alone. You're doing a...civil duty."

Civil duty, hell! Like Souji, I prefer his hair on his own scalp. Time for a distraction...

"But Mitsu-chan! Don't you think Souji should at least wash it first? They don't pay as much for dirty hair after all. Here, I'll make sure he gets it good and clean."

Before she can answer, I turn about and grab him about the waist, then toss him over one shoulder and rush towards the door. "If you're going to the temple, meet us out front in a bit!" I holler over my shoulder before leaving the room.

Damn, but that was close. She might have clipped it right then and there! We need a plan...

And I actually do need a bath at least. I'm sure I stink from being out on the road so long and my clothes are a mess. As we come to the door of my room, I set Souji down on his feet again.

"Don't worry about it, Souji. I'll think of something while I take a soak in the tub." I look him over and see he now has my travel dust on him. "And you had better get cleaned up again or Fude-san will have a fit."

Shaking my head, I walk into my own quarters for a moment to grab some clean clothing...

(Toshi is now exiting the kitchen thread and will be exiting to a new one. Souji can follow him into that one if he wants to.)






沖田総司: wided-eyed (b&w)okita_sojirou on December 22nd, 2005 05:59 am (UTC)
The next thing I know, I'm being hauled around like a bushel of rice. The indignity! But I'd rather this than have Mitsu-nee have too much fun with my hair. It's not really such a big deal, but I've grown used to it; besides, its weight keeps me balanced. It's probably only a psychological thing, but it helps.

If you're going to the temple, meet us out front in a bit!

Right, I did say I wanted to go to the temple today. Hmm, what shall I ask for the gods this time? Ah! I know! How about a non-violent sister? That's worthy of a prayer, if not an entire miracle.

Don't worry about it, Souji. I'll think of something while I take a soak in the tub.

Toshi-nii always to my rescue...

"Oh, so you're taking a bath already?" Good. Because he smells like pickles and...what is that...ginger? Ho-hum. Good thing I already took a bath before dawn even peeked over the hills. Yes, that's how much of an early bird I am. "Be quick because I want to get there early...well, considering. I have a few other things in mind for today."


[ follows Hijikata to the bath house ]
gen_san on December 20th, 2005 02:14 pm (UTC)
While all the ruckous over Souji's hair is going on, I'm preparing Mitsu-chan some tea. It seems we got here just in time. There's still some hot water left.

Just as I'm putting another pot of water on to warm up, Toshi takes off out of the room with Souji over his shoulder. He's babbling something about taking a bath. I should hope he does. He smells worse than a wet dog at the moment!

I carry the cup over to Mitsu-chan. "Sorry about that. What is it they say? Boys will be boys..."
ane_san on December 22nd, 2005 06:42 am (UTC)
I can not control the fit that comes my way. Oh Soujirou, you little darling! He hasn't changed at all, has he?

"No, -I'm- sorry you had to see that, Gen-san," I nearly choke. "It's not everyday I get to see my brother mentally shaken like that." This is too precious. "I have to take every change I get!"

Love him as I do, I -am- his sister. And being such, I have certain privileges.

While Gen-san prepares another batch of tea, I busy myself with mental notes for today. Get Soujirou's clothes, be at the temple by noon, oh...give the priests some indulgences...and make sure Sachiko-san prepares the room before one one-thirty. So much to do, so much to do...

"Has Soujirou mentioned about other plans after the actual ceremony?" I'm not even sure he knows what he'll be doing then... "I have to take him to the cementery to pay his respects from mother and father..." That, at least, he should have remembered.
gen_san on December 22nd, 2005 07:10 am (UTC)
"Has Soujirou mentioned about other plans after the actual ceremony?"

Mitsu-chan's question makes me look back up from my task.

"I have to take him to the cementery to pay his respects from mother and father..."

I shake my head. "Sorry. He hasn't said anything about any plans to me. I'm sure he'll remember though..."

Yes, I'm sure he'll remember. Unless Toshi gets him completely sidetracked...

I start poking around the kitchen to hide how uncertain I am. "So, would you like something to eat Mitsu-chan? How about some sweets?" I ask as I offer a tray to her.
ane_san on December 23rd, 2005 03:30 am (UTC)
So, would you like something to eat Mitsu-chan? How about some sweets?

"That would be heavenly, thank you." I put all my belongings down on the table, and put my parasol in one unobtrusive corner. "Oh, would you like me to help you?" Must make myself useful after all.
gen_san on December 26th, 2005 09:47 am (UTC)
"Oh, would you like me to help you?"

"That would be nice, thank you. Would you mind..." Suddenly I stop and stare in horror. Somehow the big calico cat that lives on the dojo grounds has managed to get into the kitchen! What's worse, it's managed to get one of the lids off one of the containers of food and is eating the contents!

"Hey, hey you! Get away from there!" I run after the beast, but it darts off to the side before I can grab it...
ane_san on December 27th, 2005 04:36 am (UTC)
The cat zooms out the door, and to any fast eye, one can catch a glimpse of food between its mouth. "Poor thing, must be really starving..." And then a thought hits me. "You think it has a litter somewhere?"

I start fixing us a helping of treats on a plate. "How has been my brother doing as of late? I mean, training-wise?"
gen_san on December 28th, 2005 04:00 am (UTC)
"Poor thing, must be really starving..."

I nod as I set the ruined dish aside from the rest of the prepared meals. And if that cat does that again, we're the ones who will be starving, I think to myself.

"You think it has a litter somewhere?"

"I hope not. It would be sneaking around here all the time and that would definitely upset Fude-san." No one enjoys it much when Fude-san is upset...

"How has been my brother doing as of late? I mean, training-wise?"

I beam in replay. "Ah, he's doing very well. You should be proud of him, Mitsu-chan. Souji is going to be one of the greatest fencers in all Japan, mark my words!"


ane_san on December 28th, 2005 06:31 am (UTC)
He makes a comment about how Fude-san will burst her top if she only knew about the cat, and the mental image of that will live through infamy in my head.

"Fude-san that much of a tempest, ne?" Much like me. Oh no.

Ah, he's doing very well. You should be proud of him, Mitsu-chan. Souji is going to be one of the greatest fencers in all Japan, mark my words!

"What? That little shrimp?" I say with some mock-disgust. "He can barely wield a laddle!" And that's how proud I am of my little brother...

Sigh. "Father and mother would have been very proud of him..." I can't help but feel a bit nostalgic. Father always reminded me to take care of him--guard him with my life, teach him all that I can, and pave the way to his success as a samurai. Today he becomes one, and Gen-san is telling me that he will be the greatest someday. As his sister, it makes me mighty proud.

"Does he still..." I'm about to crack a joke about Soujirou wetting his futon, but decide against it. Instead, I mean to ask about what I heard from Kondo-san some time ago about a sudden...change in him during training. "change during practice?"
gen_san on January 11th, 2006 07:04 am (UTC)
"Fude-san that much of a tempest, ne?"

I give Mitsu-chan a look that says she's making an understatment. Fude-san has a temper to match Mt. Fuji itself!

"What? That little shrimp?" Mitsu replies to me other observation. "He can barely wield a laddle!"

I grin. I doubt she's ever seen Souji when he's wielded a laddle against Toshi! Of course Toshi pretty much always has it coming...

"Father and mother would have been very proud of him..."

I can only nod my agreement. Souji makes us all proud. Even Toshi, though I doubt he'd ever admit it openly.

"Does he still..." I pause in what I'm doing to glance around. "change during practice?"

Sighing, I put the tray I'm holding away. "Yes... Yes, he does, I'm afraid." But then I give her another smile. "I'm certain it's nothing to be concerned about though. He's just very focused in the dojo. That's probably all there is to it." Or at least I hope that's all there is to it...

ane_san on January 15th, 2006 07:32 am (UTC)
Yes... Yes, he does, I'm afraid.

I can't explain how suddenly...crestfallen I am. I don't understand it myself--this "condition" Soujirou has whenever he's too concentrated on his training. It's as if he's a different person altogether. An all too dangerous person. Blade and blood...I fear for him, truly.

I'm certain it's nothing to be concerned about though. He's just very focused in the dojo. That's probably all there is to it.

As much as I like to believe him, I just cannot bring myself to do so. Some instinct in me says my brother is headed down a road he cannot turn back from; it will consume him completely.

"I do hope so, Gen-san. He is young and needs discipline and wisdom," My fingers knot themselves together like ribbons. "The kind only you can give him."
gen_san on January 15th, 2006 08:35 am (UTC)
"I do hope so, Gen-san. He is young and needs discipline and wisdom,"

Mitsu-chan is right about that. The boy -does- need guidance...

"The kind only you can give him."

I give a little yelp and almost drop a tray. "M-me?! I... Well, I can see what I can do, but to be honest... I wonder if I have any influence over him at all?"

Souji is a good kid. He really is. But sometimes, I don't know that he really listens to either Kondo-san or myself. Hm. I wonder...

Just then I hear someone announcing themselves at the entrance to the main house. "Ah, that must be the folk from Tama. They said they would be here today."

I head for the door to let them in...

(Exiting to here.
ane_san on January 15th, 2006 09:28 am (UTC)
M-me?! I... Well, I can see what I can do, but to be honest... I wonder if I have any influence over him at all?

I almost laugh at how that left him quite frazzled. What, he doesn't believe that I trust him that much? And then there comes a call from the gate.

Ah, that must be the folk from Tama. They said they would be here today.

"Must be Toshi-kun's family..." I shrug, watching Gen-san leave. Like the good girl that I am, I stay for a while in my seat before I decide to snoop around the contents of the various bowls and boxes on the kitchen counter. Oooh, biscuits...


(happily munching on treats in the kitchen. anybody's free to catch her picking the cookie jar clean!)
ane_san on January 29th, 2006 05:35 am (UTC)
...So maybe it is not so wise to pick the goodie jars clean all by myself. Today of all days. Gen-san wouldn't be pleased, and the awful lady of the house, too. Fude-san's wrath rivals that of a scorned cat. But I cannot say that she doesn't have her good points either. If anything, her stern, austere, and iron-willed qualities make her a good wife, mother, guardian. Sometimes I wonder if I should be the same, just so I can keep a tight rein around my unruly brother...at least whenever I'm around to catch him flirting with mischief anyway.

Speaking of my brother...isn't it about time we leave for the temple? Of all the things I hate, it's being tardy that tops the list.

"Sojirou no Kaneyoshi! You had better not be stalling today of all days..." I mutter under my breath as I head out to look for him.

...but not without snatching a ball of mochi...or two.


(Mitsu exits thread)