Chapter 16: Megumi, Kanryuu, and so...
Copyright© 2011 by Murasame
(The sun is setting. Kaoru and Yahiko are training outside.)
Kaoru: They're out late.
Yahiko: They must have either won big or lost big. Maybe he lost it all. Maybe he's coming back in nothing but his loincloth.
Kaoru (looking at his mental picture with disgust): We didn't need to see that. That's not pretty.
Kenshin: We're back.
Kaoru: Kenshin! Welcome home--?
(She sees Megumi standing between them.)
Kenshin: I'm sorry we're so late.
Megumi: It's a very old house, isn't it? Is this a kenjutsu dojo?
(Kaoru is pointing and making question mark noises.)
Kenshin: Oh, this is Takani Megumi. The truth is, there was a little trouble at the gambling hall and--
Sanosuke (stifling him): We won, but the guy couldn't pay up, so we got the girl instead. Sorry, but we'll have to keep her here for now.
Yahiko: I see. So they did win big.
Kenshin (aghast): Sa--no--
Sanosuke (under his breath): If we tell the truth we'll have to tell them about the opium. We should keep that quiet for now.
Kaoru (fuming): Kenshin, is this true?
Sanosuke (whispering): You don't want to get her involved in this, do you?
Kenshin: It's true.
Kaoru (punching him out): I can't believe you!! (beating him up) I can't believe this! That's like slavery!! I could understand it from Sanosuke, but you--!!!
Sanosuke: What's that supposed to mean?
Kaoru: Um, Miss Takani ... I'm sorry. You're free to return home.
Megumi: Oh, I have no intentions of going home. (picking him the dazed Kenshin) I like this man very much. I wouldn't want to leave his side for a moment.
Megumi: I'm much better than that sweat-stinking little girl, aren't I, Ken-san? Yahiko: Oh ho. Go Kenshin!
Kaoru (to Megumi): S--stop that!
Megumi: Oh ... I wonder what's wrong. It doesn't seem like you're Ken-san's lover. Is it really your place to say what he does?
Sanosuke: I wouldn't tease her too much. The girl is incredibly naive.
Kaoru: Get out--!! Everyone get OUT!!!
(They're all sent tumbling out of the gate.)
Kenshin: I give up.
Sanosuke (to Megumi): This is all your fault for speaking before you think.
Megumi: Oh, when I said I didn't want to leave his side, I meant it. Even though he's fantastically strong, he's a good man. If he's nearby, even if Kanryuu's men attack, I'm sure he'll protect me. Himura Kenshin ... you're the man I want for my bodyguard.
Kenshin: I'd like to hear more about the situation first, at the very least.
Sanosuke: I agree. We don't know a thing about you. Like why you're running from Takeda Kanryuu. Why he's after you. And this! (holding up the opium packet) How and where'd you get this?
Megumi: Only a brute would ask questions about a lady's past.
Kenshin: Now, now...
Sanosuke: Well, fine. I'll just follow you. Eventually I'll find out where it came from. That stuff killed my friend! If anyone's putting that shit on the streets here, I'll crush them!
(Megumi says nothing.)
Kenshin: We don't want to pry into your personal life. Just tell us the details of your involvement with Kanryuu. I think he's probably behind the opium dealing, but...
(A man from the gambling hall rushes towards them.)
Shuu: There you are, Sano! I've been looking all over the place.
Sanosuke: Shuu? What's wrong? Weren't you taking Gin and the others to the doctor?
Shuu: They're fine. They're going to pull through.
Sanosuke: That's good.
Shuu: It's something worse than that. Come with me!
(a crowd has gathered to see the two bodies the police have fished out of the river.)
Sanosuke: Aren't those Kanryuu's men from before?
Kenshin: It's terrible.
Megumi: He doesn't tolerate those who fail him. He cuts them down. This is how Kanryuu operates...