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11 January 2006 @ 01:36 am
Jan. 1, 1858 - Morning - Hallway outside of Toshi's room  
Damn it! Could my luck be any worse today?! First I almost drown myself in a bathtub and then I have to run across the courtyard in the freezing cold in nothing but my fundoshi, and now Fude-san is reorganizing the shelf in the corridor outside my room! I hide around the corner to prevent her from seeing me in my current state of undress.

It seems to take forever, but finally she moves on off down the hallway. I give it a few seconds to make sure she's good and gone before slinking out of my hiding place and heading for my door. I get there without further incident and slid it open. Yet just as I'm about to set foot inside, a shrill shriek rings out.

Great! Busted...
 
 
 
Misc. Mibu People: Kondo Fudemisc_mibu_ppl on January 11th, 2006 07:11 am (UTC)
Kondo Fude - Warg3791
"What are you doing?!" I shriek at that sneaky little farmer-peddler that Isami and Souji insist on bringing around the dojo. How can they associate with someone of such low character?! It's not proper! "Why aren't you wearing any clothing?!"

He starts to try to spout some explanation about an accident in the bathhouse and Souji getting wet, but I don't really have the time to listen to such nonsense. Today is a big day for this dojo and I won't have this nobody ruin it!

"Nevermind about that! Make yourself presentable at once!" I holler at him and storm off down the hallway. Impudent peddler!
Hijikata Toshizotoshi_hijikata on January 11th, 2006 07:36 am (UTC)
Fude-san gives me a scolding, then storms off down the hall. Well, that went better than I would have thought. Now if I can just get through the rest of the day without any more trouble.

I enter my room and shut the door, then find another clean kimono to wear...
沖田総司: kid 2okita_sojirou on January 15th, 2006 09:32 am (UTC)
(coming from here)

Uh-oh...Busted! No doubt Toshi-nii gave Fude-onisan an eye-full...Quite a tantalizing sight I imagine, especially for an old crone like her. It's amazingly hilarious!

Mou...She's such a character, this Fude-san. There's never a dull day with her around. Although mainly antagonistic in nature, I imagine she's all sugar and spice underneath those wrinkles. I'm getting used to her myself; and with all the candy she's putting out for me like a honey trail, I like to think that she's being excessively indulgent. Not that I'm complaining, of course. I'm not the type that bites the hand that feeds me.

I pop my head out into the hallway and put on my brightest smile. If she only wouldn't break if I canon-balled into her, I'd do just that.

"Seeing a lovely nighttingale outside on a bleak morning such as this? My day is already complete. Ohayou, Fude-san."
(Deleted comment)
Misc. Mibu People: Kondo Fudemisc_mibu_ppl on January 15th, 2006 07:56 am (UTC)
"Seeing a lovely nighttingale outside on a bleak morning such as this? My day is already complete. Ohayou, Fude-san."

And of course where that Toshizo is, Souji-chan usually isn't far behind. I turn around and give him a good inspection, then nod my approval.

"Well, at least one of you can remember how to make yourself presentable. Now if you could just teach that farmer some proper manners. Why do you hang around with such a low character? It's beneath you!"

I sigh and shake my head. "Nevermind. I suppose you'll be going to the temple this morning? Remember not to take too long there. This is an important day for you!"

Well, I can't have him forgetting that his success is also our success, now can I? So perhaps my little reminder will keep him from letting himself be dragged into mischief by that... that peddler... before the ceremony later today! At least until then!

"I will see you at the ceremony, Okita-san," I say, calling him in an adult manner for the first time.
沖田総司: kidokita_sojirou on January 15th, 2006 09:43 am (UTC)
Why do you hang around with such a low character? It's beneath you!

"Now now, Fude-san, you mustn't let your heartstrings get pulled too taught over this...You'll get a heart attack! Besides," I walk over to her and pretend to fuss over a small, insignificant crease on her sleeve. "even if Toshi-nii is a farmer, I don't mind it at all! I like...variety." Of course I wouldn't tell her the real reason...She'll be all over it.

Nevermind. I suppose you'll be going to the temple this morning? Remember not to take too long there. This is an important day for you!

"I won't." Charming doesn't even begin to cut it as I shake my head, feeling the off-setting weight of my ponytail swish this way and that.

I will see you at the ceremony, Okita-san.

It comes to me as a shock, really. I almost didn't know what to respond to that. It's as if I don't even know who I am anymore...

Offering her a bow and a meek "As I you, Fude-san.", I back up and head over to Toshi-senpai's room, feeling not like myself more than ever.
isami_kondou on January 15th, 2006 10:23 am (UTC)
I walk over to my mother, so stern with everyone but whom she considers her family; thank Kami above that includes her actual son, or otherwise known as me. “You’re so nice to Okita-san and so cruel to Hijikata. Couldn’t you give the boy a chance?”

She's such a softie inside. I mean, she always had to be tough on the outside and so prim and proper but what else would you expect from a dojo owner's wife? But if you could spend some time with her, and see her when she was like when she's not having to deal with some crisis, for instance, having to deal with Hijikata running commando across the yard.

All in all, she's a good mother.
Misc. Mibu People: Kondo Fudemisc_mibu_ppl on January 15th, 2006 10:39 am (UTC)
Kondo Fude - Warg3791
As I watch Souji move away, looking oddly dejected for some reason I don't understand fully, I realize someone else is in the hall. Glancing around, I see my son, Isami.

“You’re so nice to Okita-san and so cruel to Hijikata. Couldn’t you give the boy a chance?”

I tsk my tongue at him. "Isami, he's just a peddler! He's rude, he's frivilous with women, he gets Souji into trouble... He's beneath the two of you! The boy doesn't know his place in this world and it's going to cause you all a lot of grief someday if you insist on associating with him..."

Sighing, I glance back toward Souji. "He's a bad influence on Souji at the very least. You know some of the boy's... problems... in the dojo is because of that peddler. To be honest, he frightens me. He is the type who will resort to anything to get his own way. Even if it means betraying the trust of a naive little boy. He's not to be trusted, especially not around such a young, impressionable young man as Souji..."

I give Isami a sharp glance. "Or around someone so goodnatured that they refuse to see people for what they are," I add. Really! Sometimes Isami is too kind-hearted for his own good!
isami_kondou on January 15th, 2006 04:24 pm (UTC)
Re: Kondo Fude - Warg3791
"Hijikata is an honorable man, he says what's on his mind, Souji adores him and Souji's not all wrong about that while I'm on the subject."I saw firmly but respectfully.

I saw that look on her face: "You're just too trusting for your nature, Mr. Isami".

"He's a man of the future and he's going somewhere, Mother, and he won't let his place dictate his lot in life. And man like that is never beneath me. Souji's also a teenager becoming a man and he would be making plenty of mistakes even if Hijikata wasn't his friend. To blame Hijikata for that is a little prejudiced, don’t you think?”


“As far as Shimibara, Toshi’s on his own…”

Some things are better left unsaid…especially to one’s own mother.
Misc. Mibu People: Kondo Fudemisc_mibu_ppl on January 19th, 2006 09:00 am (UTC)
Re: Kondo Fude - Warg3791
"Hijikata is an honorable man, he says what's on his mind, Souji adores him and Souji's not all wrong about that while I'm on the subject."

I want to sigh and roll my eyes. Yes, that's just the problem. This Toshizo does say whatever is on his mind. He simply doesn't know his place and it's going to get him into trouble. Which means he'll be dragging Souji and Isami into trouble with him. But I can never seem to make anyone understand this. It's always "Hijikata this" or "Hijikata that". These men!

"He's a man of the future and he's going somewhere, Mother, and he won't let his place dictate his lot in life. And man like that is never beneath me. Souji's also a teenager becoming a man and he would be making plenty of mistakes even if Hijikata wasn't his friend. To blame Hijikata for that is a little prejudiced, don’t you think?”

Oh, now I really want to scuff. The only place that little baka is likely to "go" is straight to the execution grounds! But I do suppose he's right about Souji, so I decide to drop that matter for now. I'll find a way to show these men sense after today's ceremony is safely over. I just hope that baka peddler doesn't do something to ruin it all!

“As far as Shimibara, Toshi’s on his own…”

Well, thank the kami for that at least! That's one bit of trouble he can't manage to involve the others in!

"If you say so, Isami. I just hope you have no cause for disappointment in him down the road." And with that I turn and walk back toward my own quarters to freshen up for the genpuku...

(Exits thread)
Hijikata Toshizotoshi_hijikata on January 21st, 2006 02:20 pm (UTC)
Poking my head out the door, I see Fude-san vanishing around a corner. Turning to Souji, I give him a questioning glance. "Is she gone?"
沖田総司: kid 2okita_sojirou on January 22nd, 2006 05:06 am (UTC)
With Fude-san's last words still burning inside my head, I barely register Toshi-nii talking to me. Or should I start calling him "Hijikata-san" from this moment on? Well, I have to get used to it sometime...

Is she gone?

Putting on an amused smirk, the least I want to do is give him a hint of my thoughts. "Two miles back that way, Hijikata-san," There, that wasn't so bad, was it? "Why, gave her a run for her money again, did you?"

And I suppose in my apparent distraction, I also fail to notice Kondo-san's presence just...hovering around the corner. I bow and greet him cheerfully. "Ohayou!"
isami_kondou on January 22nd, 2006 06:25 am (UTC)
"Ohayou, Souji-kun." I say, a grin distorting ahem! gracing my large face. "Well today is your big day, you little rascal, you're becoming a man....Kami, that's a scary thought." I said, my eyes bright and not completely dry. "Now Toshi-kun, try not to traumatize him with a first-time visit to Shimabara right after today...."
沖田総司: kid 2okita_sojirou on January 22nd, 2006 06:42 am (UTC)
Well today is your big day, you little rascal, you're becoming a man....Kami, that's a scary thought.

"I'm sure your mother had the same thoughts when you had your genpuku, Kondo-san." I giggle. "But I'm sure to have more women than you did." Ooh I don't think Tos--I mean, Hijikata-san, is going to be too happy about that. Heh.
Hijikata Toshizo: Shieikan Toshitoshi_hijikata on January 24th, 2006 01:30 pm (UTC)
"Two miles back that way, Hijikata-san," Souji replies. To say I'm a bit caught off-guard would be putting it mildly. Hijikata-san he called me... It feels strange and alien hearing him address me like that and I suddenly don't like it. I wonder, what other sort of changes can I expect between us? I can feel my earlier fears Souji growing distant from me returning...

"Why, gave her a run for her money again, did you?"

I'm so lost in these gloomy thoughts that I barely register the joke. By the time I think to respond, he's already greeting Kondo-san. I shake my head. I didn't even see Kat-chan there.

"Well today is your big day, you little rascal, you're becoming a man....Kami, that's a scary thought."

In more ways than you can possibly realize, Kat-chan...

"Now Toshi-kun, try not to traumatize him with a first-time visit to Shimabara right after today...."

I cringe, then give Kat-chan a mournful glance that plainly says, Didn't I promise you I was giving that all up to study the sword seriously? *sigh* Why is it that no one ever believes me about that?!

"I'm sure your mother had the same thoughts when you had your genpuku, Kondo-san."

Now that almost makes me want to laugh. Almost...

"But I'm sure to have more women than you did."

I think my jaw just hit the floor. "Souji?!" And for a moment I'm not sure what disturbs me more: The impertinent remark addressed to Kat-chan or the fact that the thought of Souji being with a woman of that sort bothers me so much...


isami_kondou on January 24th, 2006 11:31 pm (UTC)
"I'm sure your mother had the same thoughts when you had your genpuku, Kondo-san."

"More like a two hour speech on how I would not dare to dishonor the family name, as though I ever would....I love her but she's dogged at times." I shake my head wearily. "This is my mother's time to thrive...she lives for these events, Souji-kun. But enough of her, this is your moment."

"But I'm sure to have more women than you did."

Where in all of Japan did that come from? Souji is most definitely coming into his own. I shake my head, absolutely bewildered.

"Souji?!"

Toshi looks like a ghost.....it must haven't have thrown him for the loop too. As I steal a quick glance, I see a stark sadness in Toshi's eyes that makes my chest hurt a little. Souji's growing up, Toshi-kun, and he's making the two of us feel old....

"It'd serve you right if I dealt with your tongue in the training halls...." I say jokingly but somehow the mirth isn't totally there. We just lost something today...whether we've gained something or not has yet to be decided.
沖田総司: Cat!okita_sojirou on January 25th, 2006 12:54 am (UTC)
"I'm sure all mothers are like that, Kondo-san. You're fortunate to still have yours..." I smile not only for Kondo-san, but for me as well, trying not to be consumed by a sudden inexplicable emptiness. I don't remember much of my mother, which, I suppose, is just as well.

This is my mother's time to thrive...she lives for these events, Souji-kun. But enough of her, this is your moment.

I wish otou-san and okaa-san were still around to see this day... "With all due respect to your mother, Kondo-san, you make her sound like she was a fungus." I scrunch my nose at him playfully. Well, that's not such a hard image to picture, actually.

Souji?!

Now I'm certain that that remark about me having women is never to be repeated again. To--I mean, Hijikata-san--looks like...I don't know...overcooked broth. Not that overcooked broth looks anything remarkable. But one just -knows- that it's churning inside with kami-sama knows what and it doesn't taste pleasant in the least. Sour like bile.

"Don't worry...Hijikata-san, I'll leave some for you." I don't think that came out right...

It'd serve you right if I dealt with your tongue in the training halls....

A small "eep" escapes me and my grin spreads full-force on my face, belatedly noting that there's a...dullness in his eyes today. I fairly have an idea what he's thinking. "I'd be happy to prove to you my point, Kondo-san. But we all have to grow up some time, ne?"
isami_kondou on January 25th, 2006 03:05 am (UTC)
I'm sure all mothers are like that, Kondo-san. You're fortunate to still have yours..."

Oh Kami, this would be one of those times I would love to shove BOTH fists into my big mouth. I feel like a heel for bringing it up. Souji hides it so well but there were times when I first started training him that he would come to me with nightmares....it haunts him, the mother he never had.

With all due respect to your mother, Kondo-san, you make her sound like she was a fungus.

"Dear Kami, Souji, I would be very careful saying fungus and my mother in the same sentence!!" I say, cringing internally. Yeessh, I don't even want to think about that woman's potential rage. "She'd hang you up by your toenails and whip you with a cane." I saw no reason to mention the fact that the aforementioned scenario would only occur if my mother was feeling that there was an element of remorse...otherwise, you would wish that was all that happened to you.

I'd be happy to prove to you my point, Kondo-san. But we all have to grow up some time, ne?

"Prove your point, eh? Come 'mere you!" I shout, grabbing him into a bear hug and giving him a full-fledged noogie. Hey, you can't outgrow some things....



Hijikata Toshizo: Shieikan Toshitoshi_hijikata on January 25th, 2006 06:08 am (UTC)
"Don't worry...Hijikata-san, I'll leave some for you."

I almost choke this time. Leave some for me?! What the hell...?! I look at Souji as if I've never seen him before. Where did this sudden interest in women come from?! And... why does it make me feel so annoyed?

But Kat-chan answers him before I can. "It'd serve you right if I dealt with your tongue in the training halls...."

Souji makes a little squeak at that, but then recovers with another little jest. "I'd be happy to prove to you my point, Kondo-san. But we all have to grow up some time, ne?"

"Prove your point, eh? Come 'mere you!"

Kat-chan responds to the remark with his usual goodnature, but I... I can't help feeling a bit horrified by it all. Souji's last remark reverberates in my memory: But we all have to grow up some time, ne?

Suddenly I feel sick with my entire being. There is a horrible truth and finality to those words that strike me at my very core. Yes, Souji has grown up. But what if growing up means he also starts growing away from me? How could I ever possibly stand such a thing? It makes me want to find a way to halt time just as it is, so that I may keep him a child forever...

沖田総司: wided-eyed (b&w)okita_sojirou on January 25th, 2006 11:34 am (UTC)
"ACK!" Next thing I know, I'm drowning in Kondo-san's overwhelming suffocating affection. Boy, does he have big arms! How can he stuff his fist inside his mouth when his wrist alone is as big as a trunk??

All right, so I'm exaggerating...

He releases me and that's when I notice how quiet...Hijikata-san is.

"Mou, what's wrong with you?" Was it something I said? I reach up to poke his forehead, but not quite reaching it so easily. "You should cheer up, you know. Today I turn fifteen; you should be damn proud!" Trying to be crass isn't my thing...I don't think I'll get used to -that- part of growing up so easily...
Hijikata Toshizotoshi_hijikata on January 28th, 2006 04:23 am (UTC)
"Mou, what's wrong with you?" And the next thing I know Souji is poking me in the forehead again. Of course I'm so much taller than he is that he's having a bit of trouble reaching so high.

"You should cheer up, you know. Today I turn fifteen; you should be damn proud!"

I sigh, then force a slight smile on my face. "I am proud of you. I just was a little lost in my own thoughts. It's nothing to worry about." Well, it's nothing for anyone but me to worry about anyway. "You know, if we're going to go to the temple, we should probably leave soon. We've already wasted a good bit of the morning. It's probably going to be crowded now." I grumble out the last part...

isami_kondou on January 29th, 2006 06:00 am (UTC)
"You know, if we're going to go to the temple, we should probably leave soon. We've already wasted a good bit of the morning. It's probably going to be crowded now."

I had completely forgot the time, thank Kami I was actually in appropriate attire for Souji's genpuku. This was going to be one to remember. In many ways, much more so than my own genpuku. I viewed Souji as a son, he had come a long way under my tutelage and there wasn't a whole lot I felt he couldn't accomplish once he set his mind. Of course, that meant he would have to focus on more than his sweets or his precious hair, but hey...no one's perfect.

As for Hijikata, I was still very worried. I could read his uncertainty and pain like a book and it scared me. But he will come to terms with Souji's coming of age. I just hope he will be a better man for it.

"Toshi's right," I said, straightening out my kimono, "we've got a genpuku to attend."
沖田総司: kidokita_sojirou on January 29th, 2006 07:43 am (UTC)
I am proud of you. I just was a little lost in my own thoughts. It's nothing to worry about.

I never thought that Tosh--darn it!--Hijikata-san would be. We didn't start out like this at all. He hated my guts when I first came here; said I looked like a girl and acted like one by letting adults step on me and order me around especially Fude-san who clearly wanted to get rid of me, saying I was a dull, clumsy fool of a samurai-child. Being a bit of a recluse then--and all too naive and imperious--I answered him without batting an eyelash, "People must have said you look like a girl, too, when you were little. Please don't call people things you wouldn't like others to call you."" And to nail the lid on the coffin... "I dislike people like you."

Years later, he says he's proud of -me-. Whatever could I have done to earn this respect? I suppose I -have- become a far cry from the boy that I was...

Toshi's right, we've got a genpuku to attend.

And this day proves it, ne? There's no telling why I'm so fixated on knowing what Hijikata-san is thinking... Or Kondo-san, even. Or for that matter, the people around me. Maybe Souji isn't as confident in himself as he thinks he is, now of all days when he is about to step beyond the divide that separates childhood from the blurry beyond that is adulthood. Souji wonders what he will become in the future... But he sure knows that as all samurai, he must...

"But first," Suddenly, my thoughts are cut by another, altogether more persistent one. "Where's my sister?"
Hijikata Toshizo: Medicine Peddlertoshi_hijikata on January 30th, 2006 02:37 pm (UTC)
I can't help but stare at Souji for a moment as my mind suddenly takes me back to that day. The day I first saw him standing there by his sister, clutching her hand almost desperately.

What was it about him that attracted my attention that day? Normally I wouldn't have given the brat a second glance, especially not with such a pretty girl as Mitsu-chan around to focus on. But there was something about him that made me notice him. What was it?

Ah, I remember now. Those eyes. There was something about them that compelled me to look. Something about them that was just so... haunted.

Heh. I wonder if Kondo-san recalls my blunder that day? The comment I made as Mitsu-chan led him away from us? Then how about the other one? The kid beside her. I just know it... In five years that kid'll grow up to an exquiste woman...!

I smile to myself, remembering my embarassment when Kat-chan laughed and told me that "kid" was in fact her brother. Well, in my defense, I was half-right anyway. He did grow up to be exquiste in many ways...

"But first," Souji's voice draws me back to the here and now. "Where's my sister?"

I snort at that. "Probably lying in wait by the door so she can pounce on you with those scissors again," I remark as I head off down the hall toward the front entrance. I can already hear Hiko's familiar drunken voice drifting down the corridor toward us, causing me to wince. "It looks like the Tama congregation is here already. And, to judge by the lousy singing, brother has been hitting the sake already."

I glance back at Kat-chan. "Want to place a friendly wager on who is the most annoyed with him right now? I place 50 mon on Kiroku."

isami_kondou on January 30th, 2006 09:53 pm (UTC)
"But first, where's my sister?"

Excellent question, Souji. Where is that knockout of woman you call your sister? I thought I saw Mitsu when I was cleaning and making preparations for your big day but that may have been wishful thinking on my part.

Perhaps I should explain, Mitsu is a fond crush from a long time ago, and occasionally I think of her as I would in my younger days but maturity prevents me from dengerating mentally into some of Toshi's more base instincts...but that's not very fair, I know he's working on changing that.

But anyway, Mitsu's become this part of my family, so much so that to continue feeling what I did all that time ago would just be wrong.

But that doesn't mean the thought of her doesn't put a smile on my face every now and then.

"Probably lying in wait by the door so she can pounce on you with those scissors again."

Oh Dear Kami, that's so........true, in fact. I wouldn't actually, now that I think about it, put it past her to keep a pair of scissors stashed away in that kimono of hers so that she could pounce on poor little Souji at the most opportune moment.

"It looks like the Tama congregation is here already. And, to judge by the lousy singing, brother has been hitting the sake already."

Oh someone take me out back and cut me down, please.

Dear Kami, did I offend someone in a previous life? It's bad enough we have to make a public display out of this instead of personally and privately honoring this special day with Soujiro, but now I have to listen to the great singer who wasn't? But it must be even worse for Souji....

"Want to place a friendly wager on who is the most annoyed with him right now? I place 50 mon on Kiroku."

God I hate friendly wagers, especially from a friend who makes a wolf look foppish. He gets this smile in his eyes that let you know you've lost before you've even begun....which really throws me.

"Not on your life, Toshi. Remember that friendly wager that ending up with me streaking through Shimabara with but a mask of cloth over my face?"

Oh screw it if Souji knows....Toshi was going to tell him at some point...he has issues keeping quiet about things when he has had too much to drink.
沖田総司: kid 2okita_sojirou on January 31st, 2006 04:52 am (UTC)
Probably lying in wait by the door so she can pounce on you with those scissors again.

Gck.

My opinion of Hijikata-san hasn't changed much after all. I still hate him.

"Or waiting for you. Might I remind the gentleman that Souji isn't the only one with long hair. If anything, Hijikata-san's is even longer and more easier to grab and subsequently chop off." To stress my point, I reach behind him and give his ponytail a firm tug. The sign of the samurai that he will never be...he will never cut it, as I hope he doesn't.

The noise outside grows even more unignorable. Want to place a friendly wager on who is the most annoyed with him right now?

Not on your life, Toshi. Remember that friendly wager that ending up with me streaking through Shimabara with but a mask of cloth over my face?

All my sense of grace instantly flies out the window with a gleeful cackle. Followed by my seemingly unfazable respect for Kondo-san. "You didn't!" I gasp in between chortles. I cannot and WILL NOT imagine Kondo-san in that situation. Frankly, it's horrifying!

I turn to Hijikata-san, almost painfully as I try to compose myself again but finding it extremely difficult. "You haven't changed much in all those years since I was nine, have you, you miserable troublemaker? Now there's no wondering where I got my mean streak." And how.

"Mou, I thought we were supposed to get going?" I say at length, and also noting how many people have already arrived. I turn up an impish grin. "My audience awaits."
Hijikata Toshizotoshi_hijikata on February 3rd, 2006 05:47 am (UTC)
"Or waiting for you. Might I remind the gentleman that Souji isn't the only one with long hair. If anything, Hijikata-san's is even longer and more easier to grab and subsequently chop off."

I give Souji a glare as he tugs on my ponytail. "Perhaps, but I'm not the birthday boy here. She can plead tradition when she whacks yours off at least." Not to mention that there will be long and terrible suffering for anyone foolish enough to come after my hair! Even a blind man could bear witness to how proud I am of my appearance. Just ask Tamejiro!

"Not on your life, Toshi. Remember that friendly wager that ending up with me streaking through Shimabara with but a mask of cloth over my face?"

I'm caught between shock and laughter as he brings that particular incident up. Laughter because I still can't believe he actually took that bet. Shock because I'm a bit surprised that he's bringing that incident up in front of Souji. I guess things really are changing...

"You didn't!" This day is just going to be full of surprises it seems. I never thought to see Souji laugh at Kat-chan of all people!

"You haven't changed much in all those years since I was nine, have you, you miserable troublemaker? Now there's no wondering where I got my mean streak."

I give him a smirk. "Why should I change? I get by just fine as I am. And if you hadn't gotten at least a little bit of a "mean streak" from being around me, you would have turned out so sickeningly sweet that no one could have stood to be in the same room with you, brat! You should be thanking me!" I counter.

"Mou, I thought we were supposed to get going?"

I sigh, looking toward the end of the hall where I can hear the voices of my family. As much as I want to see the rest of them, Kiroku is probably out there as well. I just know he's going to have something negative to say about my joining the dojo. I frown, not really wanting to have that confrontation now of all times...

"My audience awaits."

"Maybe we could slip out the back without them noticing us? Gen-san will make sure they get to the temple on time. I really don't want to have to deal with him right now." Not today of all days.