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(fic) Another Old Lang Syne by Ruth (Samurai Champloo) - Not a rock, I'm just Ruth
All Me, no apologies
just_ruth
just_ruth
(fic) Another Old Lang Syne by Ruth (Samurai Champloo)
Title: Another Old Lange Syne
Author/Artist: Ruth
Fandom: Samurai Champloo
Pairing: None
Rating: PG - 13
Warnings: Violence, anachronisms, spoilers for the end of the series.
unbeta'd - all mistakes my own
**********


“More dumplings!”

“Coming!”

Ten years ago I was a waitress on the north end of the Narrow Road made so famous by some wandering poet I never heard of. I left to journey to Nagasaki in search of my father, a samurai who smelled of sunflowers. I came to relieve my anger at his abandoning my mother and me. I found him frail and dying and even though I had prayed to Kami-Sama for the opportunity to punch him if I ever found him - I could not do it. He was slain by the shogun’s assassin for being a Christian.

In his death, I found I lost my anger and perhaps that meant that Kami-Sama answered my prayer after all.

“Tea, please.”

“Yes, of course.”

Not long after that I began to work at Momotaro, a dumpling shop. I thought the name fortuitous because my dear little squirrel, Momo had left me for life in the forest after my journey. It was run by a young couple with their daughter. I’ve always been good at being in the service industry. I was Momotaro Koji and Haru’s Fuu-chan for about three years.

“This bill is too high!”

“The prices are right there. You ate the dumplings.”

Five years ago, Haru died giving birth to a little boy who died before he could be named. Shinori was ten, and she started calling me Stepmother Fuu. Maybe I should have let the little old priest of the Christians in hiding marry her father and me, but I was afraid of being discovered. The old man told me Kami-Sama would understand.

Less than a year after Haru’s death, Koji began to cough. The cough killed him slowly.

“Saki!”

“Coming right up!”

He had been dead a year. Shinori was fifteen, a strong and handsome girl. I had been working too hard to do more than pray to Kami-sama that my companions of the road; proud, silent Jin and noisy, violent Mugen were happy wherever they were. I was happy and I gave prayers of thanks when I wasn’t tired. Of course, now that the new police captain was being a pain in the neck, I didn’t have that many chances for not being tired.

“Please excuse me. . .”

“Yes! Welcome!” I turned. He was a tall man, dressed in the yellow robes of a monk with a ringed staff and string of beads around his neck. His bald head had a touch of dark stubble and a pair of glasses perched on the bridge of his nose. He gave me a secretive smile that seemed so familiar, but three customers were signaling for me.

“Forgive me, Madam hostess,” he bowed. “I have traveled very far. Might I trouble you for some tea?”

“Oh! Yes! Please sit here!” I found him a small table to the side and brought out tea. I told Azami to watch over him.

“Yes, Stepmother Fuu,” She wasn’t a step-daughter anymore than Shinori was. Azami was the daughter of a prostitute. The madam of the brothel thought she was too ugly to work there. I took her in when she was seven as kitchen help. She was fifteen now, as sharp and prickly as her name. Next time I looked, she had brought out a bowl of miso and was talking with him. It was almost closing time so I didn’t scold her like I usually would have.

“Stepmother Fuu!” Kichi really isn’t a stepson either, I caught the scruffy, brown haired street orphan trying to steal from the kitchen six years ago, so I made him stay and work it off. He decided to move in. “Stepmother Fuu! There’s a pirate ship that’s come in from Ryuukyuu!”

“That’s nice dear, go help Shinori wash the plates.” I think he’s sixteen, but he’s so bony it’s hard to tell.

“There was a guy with a red coat who was beating the hell out of the harbor police.” He said as I loaded his arms with dirty plates.

“I’m sure they deserved it - go!” I shoved him towards the kitchen. A red coat? No, it wasn’t possible; Mugen would never come here.

The local curfew drove out the customers early. I counted at least five portions of dumplings left. The only customer left was the monk. I sighed.

“Please excuse the inconvenience, reverend sir,” I said to him, “but the local captain of police has set a strict curfew and I must ask you to leave.” Azami gathered his bowl and cup and I shooed her back to help Shinori and Kichi with cleaning. Almost as soon as she went in, I heard an argument start. I went in and broke it up. I came back to find him leaning on his ringed staff.

He gave me that quiet, familiar smile again. “Stepmother is a name that becomes you, Fuu-san.”

I blinked. A thousand little things that had been picking at the back of my mind became clear.

“Jin-san!” I yelped. Of all the dumpling shops in all of Japan, he had to come walking into mine. . . I had to sit down. He had been like an unattainable dream; a tall, cool swordsman in a blue robe. “I can’t believe you’ve become a monk.”

“You do not approve?” he raised a graceful eyebrow.

“No,” I said bluntly, “You’ve cut off all your beautiful hair.”

His shoulders twitched in a silent chuckle. “To attain enlightenment, one must forswear vanity.”

“Why have you come here?” I asked.

“You cannot climb the path to heaven if you have stones in your shoes,” he adjusted his glasses. “And it seems, I have very great stones in my shoes,” he paused. “I am glad to find you happy.”

Call it fate, call it karma, call it Kami-sama’s sense of humor, I closed my eyes a moment and my door flew open with a crash.

“Hey!” The rough, bristling red-coated pirate pointed right at me. “I want dumplings!”

“We’re closed!” I snapped. “Didn’t they tell you there’s a curfew in this town?” Mugen and Jin in town at the same time; disaster had to be right around the corner.

“They tried,” he swaggered in and stood his straight sword against the wall, “and you still owe me a hundred dumplings for keeping that asshole from cutting your hand off.”

I slammed my hands on my hips. “That was ten years ago and what part of CLOSED are you not getting?”

Jin shook his head. “He was always a blockhead.”

“Hey, who’re you talking to, Baldy?” he snapped. His jaw dropped open. “You!”

“Indeed,” his shoulders shivered again in silent laughter.

“Holy shit,” Mugen sat down. I ran into the kitchen and grabbed the leftover dumplings. I dropped the tray in front of him.

“There, damn you,” I cried. “These were going to be /our/ dinner, but if I let you eat them, maybe you’ll go away.”

“I’m hurt,” he said, filling his mouth with three at once. “Is this the way to greet an old friend?”

“Friend?” I quickly shut the blinds. “Since when?”

“Stepmother?” Shinori came to the door of the kitchen, clutching a broom, her eyes wide. “Who are these men?” Azami was right behind her, holding a kitchen chopper.

“He’s the guy who was beating up the harbor police!” Kichi grinned. He was carrying the beat-up shinai he’d found behind the police dojo.

“They’re the men who came with me to Nagasaki ten years ago,” I explained. Mugen was stuffing his face and Jin still leaned on his staff.

Mugen swallowed the dumpling in his mouth with an audible gulp. “These aren’t your kids!”

“They are now,” I said.

A fist hammered on the door. “Police! Open up!”

“Oh, damn,” I groaned. Before I could move, one of the officers kicked the door down. Captain Tashiro came in the lead of a group of about eight other men.

“Mistress Fuu, you are in violation of the curfew. . .” He began smugly.

“They aren’t customers,” I said sharply.

“Oh, I suppose he isn’t eating dumplings?” Mugen looked at him, grinning. He popped a single dumpling in his mouth and chewed it insolently.

“He didn’t pay for them,” I clenched my fists. “I had the closed sign out! If I decide to have dinner with two old friends who have come into town. . .”

"Oh, now I'm a friend?" Mugen snickered.

“You can just tell it to the magistrate.”

“You’re just doing this because Stepmother Fuu won’t have sex with you!” Azami shouted.

“Be silent you little brothel-brat!” He turned red and a couple of the older men coughed and looked away. The younger ones shifted and looked uncomfortable.

“Azami! I’ll handle this!” I turned to her. She scowled. Captain Tashiro grabbed my arm.

“Let her go!” Kichi stepped in front of the girls with his shinai up and ready.

“Boy,” Jin leaned on his staff, looking at the policemen with an indifference. “You need to have your feet further apart.”

“She’s under arrest for breaking curfew. . .” Captain Tashiro began.

“I don’t think so,” Mugen stood up, he picked up his sword and balanced it across his shoulder.

“You’re the criminal who attacked the harbor patrol,” Captain Tashiro shoved me to another officer and drew his sword.

“/Run!/” I mouthed at the children. They stared at me.

“You interrupted my meal,” Mugen grinned, “that’s bad for my digestion, you know that?”

I kicked the officer holding me hard in the shin. I ran for the children. Tashiro yelled and swung at my back. I heard his sword clash on Mugen’s. Jin brought his staff up and knocked a charging officer over a table. I grabbed the girls and we ran into the kitchen.

“Azami! Grab as many dried rice cakes as you can!” I shouted as I emptied the cash box into a pouch. “Shinori! Get a couple blankets. Azami! Leave that chopper! Get out the back door, we’ll have to run if what I think is going to happen, happens. . .” I snatched the chopper from Azami and went to grab Kichi out of the fray I knew was going on.

The room was in the process of a wreck. Tashiro was holding his own against Mugen; Jin was tossing officers left and right with his staff. Kichi was trying to block a young policeman’s sword. The shinai splintered.

I screamed and threw the chopper. The officer howled as it went into his arm. I grabbed Kichi by his collar and dragged him out the back door of the kitchen. I herded the girls ahead of me.

“But Stepmother Fuu!” wailed Shinori.

“I’m sorry, darling,” I said. “We’ll go back unless. . .”

Flames shot up the back wall of the restaurant. “No, they did it again.”

“Again?” Azami put up her eyebrows.

“They have a habit of burning down people’s buildings,” I sighed.

“They are so cool,” sighed Kichi.

I snorted. Jin burst out through the flames dragging Mugen behind him.

“Here we go again.” I raised my eyes to the stars and appealed to Kami-Sama.

I wonder where I’ll end up this time?

-fin-

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Comments
ginalin From: ginalin Date: August 27th, 2006 11:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, that was fun. Those two would be like gum on your shoe, I suppose.
just_ruth From: just_ruth Date: August 28th, 2006 09:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Just when you least expect it. . . :)

Glad you enjoyed it!
2 comments or Leave a comment