Chapter 226: A Man's Back 1--The Street Fighter Returns
Copyright© 2011 by Murasame
(Inside a gathering of people stand Sanosuke, a young girl, a street tough and his leader, a heavyset man named Fudozawa. Sanosuke has just laid out another tough on the ground.)
Underling: Who're you?!
Sanosuke: What does that matter? You gonna fight me, or not? These days I just can't settle down. I don't care anymore. I just wanna get out of this bad mood.
Underling: You little punk... !
Fudozawa: Wait. (to Sanosuke) You must not be from around here if you think you can talk like that in front of me. Fine. I just hired some new bodyguards. Let's see how the strangers fare against each other. (looking towards another sake shop) Hey! You're up!
(The brothers Kihei and Gohei appear in the doorway.)
Kihei: Our turn already? It's that easy to make the Demon-Killer Fudozawa nervous?
Fudozawa: This is just something that's not worth my time. Show me those skills you keep bragging about.
Gohei: So who is it, some country nobody that wants to be rust on my sword--
(They catch sight of Sanosuke.)
Kihei and Gohei: Za-za-za-Zanza??
Sanosuke: Who the hell are you?
(A frozen moment.)
Gohei: You mean you don't remember us?
Kihei: We hired you to fight Battousai!
(See volumes 1 and 2.)
Sanosuke: Oh, right. What was that, four and a half years ago?
Kihei: It was only six months! (Four and a half years?)
Sanosuke: They ran you out of Tokyo, and now you're playing bodyguard for some hick yakuza. Seems about right, don't you think?
Gohei: What do we do, brother?
Kihei: Settle down. This is nothing to lose your head over. Take a good look at him.
Gohei: I see. He doesn't have the zanbatou with him! (Charging and drawing his sword.) All right, Zanza! I'll pay you back for this scar on my nose!
(Uki covers her ears with her hands.)
Uki (thinking): Oh, people are always fighting around me! (Mistake) Because I'm so cute! (Self-flattery.) But what should we have for dinner tonight? We're so poor it's hard to make ends meet! (Confusion and escaping reality.)
About a second after she finished thinking--
(Kihei and Gohei are sprawled on the ground.)
Kihei: That was awful.
Gohei: They even cut our fight scene...
Sanosuke: That didn't take me long.
Fudozawa: Hm. You fight well for such a slim build.
Sanosuke: Who's slim? M-Baldy.
(Fudozawa's exaggerated widow's peak is in fact m-shaped. Uki stifles a giggle.)
Fudozawa: I like you, kid. (turning to go) We'll meet again.
Underling: Mr. Fudozawa!?
(They walk off, leaving Sanosuke with an admiring crowd.)
Uki: Wow! That was soooo cool! You're so tough! Who are you? When'd you get here? Where are you from? What are you here for? Do you have a girlfriend? You don't, right?
Small voice: Uki...
(A little boy is peering out from the alleyway.)
Uki: Outa! So that's where you were hiding. I'm so glad you're safe! It's all right, come on out. (turning back to Sanosuke) Oh, sorry, I haven't introduced myself. This is my little brother Outa, and I'm U--
(Sanosuke kicks Outa.)
Uki: What was that for!
Sanosuke: Your sister's in trouble and you run off and hide?
Uki: Of course! Outa's just a little kid! I told him always to hide when there's trouble!
Sanosuke: A man always comes out fists first. If you have to hide that, then turning your back and running is worse than showing yourself to the enemy.
Uki: First you save me and now you yell at us! Whose side are you on?
Sanosuke (turning to go) : I'm not on anyone's side. I don't know what your deal is. I just wanted to kill a little time. Sorry for the misunderstanding, half-head.
(Uki's bangs cover precisely half her forehead. She storms as the crowd murmurs around her.)
Crowd: Another roughneck in town. Half-head ... She really is a half-head. As if Fudozawa and Higashidani weren't enough. Storm's a-brewing there. I get it, half-head...
Uki (breaking down): Shut up! My father's nothing like him! (And quit it with this half-head stuff!) Outa, we're going home!
(Later that night.)
Proprietor: Sir, we're about to close.
(Sanosuke is sprawled out in a booth at a restaurant, a number of empty sake bottles at his side.)