manaika: (Shinpa/Sano hekketsu)
[personal profile] manaika
Name: Shinsengumi Family
Title: Episode 3 – Just a random day of routine. Except it totally isn’t.
Author: [livejournal.com profile] manaika
Fandom: Hakuoki
Word count: 6924
Rating: General audiences this time.
Warnings: same as before. Gender swap, questionable education methods, cursing...
Notes: Yet another chapter of the wonderfully dysfunctional Shinsengumi family. I know I should be writing Price, but all it took me was to read chapter 4 and Interlude 45 of Reimeiroku Harada route and I’d been writing this. (And besides, that piece is coming along quite well, too.) I hope you enjoy. And if the aforementioned route isn’t hint enough: It starrs Ryuunosuke x333
Summary: His boss uses Shinpachi as a babysitter. The Shinsengumi kids get entangled in a romantic triangle. Sango falls in love (Well, more like she gets her fair share of entertainment, but that’s not the point now).

Disclaimer: Doth not own. Doth not make money using thus. Doth own the idea. Doth own the swap. Doth want to die (Except totally not).

EDIT: After getting up today and scrolling through the chapter, I decided that I needed to rewrite and edit a few parts. I’ve worked on it the entire day yesterday and at the end of it, I didn’t have any more energy left to edit it. Maybe I shouldn’t have posted it then, but I guess I was too ecstatic, that I wrote another part of the Shinsengumi family, that I couldn’t not post it. Forgive my enthusiasm?

Previous parts
EPISODE 1
EPISODE 2


EPISODE 3

It was yet another sunny day in the fictive, small town of Hakuouki, busy as every other workday was, but slowing down gradualy, as lunch approached.

In the Shinsengumi household Sango was finishing preparations for lunch, enjoying herself in the quiet of the house, as everyone was at school, working or studying, leaving her alone at home. Shinpachi was at his own house, getting some work done, but as every workday, he’d come over 12 o’clock sharp, precise as a clockwork, and they’d have lunch together.

„Hmm, is this pepper still good? Ah who cares. There.“

It was now shortly before twelve and Sango just turned off the stove, finished with cooking. Still having a little time left, she decided to gloss through a few articles in the newest issue of her favorite sports-magazine. But as the clock ticked by and no one came, she didn’t even notice how she made it through half of the magazine, until suddenly her stomach churned.

A surprised look at the clock revealed that it was edging close to 1 pm and her brother was nowhere in sight.

„What the hell?!“

Shinpachi never missed lunch. No, actually Shinpachi never missed any kind of meal, period. This was highly unusual. Something had to be amiss.

Without sparing it another thought, Sango stood up and headed to her brother’s house.

x*x


Shinpachi answered a few moments after the second ring, but not before a few crashing and tripping sounds could be heard from behind the closed doors.

„What is it...Sango!“ The blue eyes of her brother looked at her in mild surprise. „What are you doing here?!“

Sango eyed him with a deadpan face.

„Lunch? It’s almost three quarters to one.“

„What?!“ Shinpachi’s eyes darted towards the grandfather clock a few steps from them. „It’s already this late?! I’m sorry! I didn’t notice...“

He gave her an apologetic smile, but Sango only frowned. This was more than unusual, this was downright concerning. Shinpachi’s stomach worked like a clock, knowing exactly when it was time for lunch, dinner, breakfest, brunch and a snack. Consequently, Shinpachi missing a meal meant something was fundamentaly different, if not wrong with her brother. Slightly worried now, Sango tried to steal a glance inside the house, to see if she could find any hints for the cause of this strange behavior, before eyeing her brother suspiciously.

„Is everything alright?“

Shinpachi waved his hand. „Yeah, yeah, fine, I’m just kinda busy. I’m behind schedule with work and Serizawa will have my head if I don’t get some stuff finished ’till Friday. And then there’s...“

But before Shinpachi could get any further in the explanation, from behind the living room doors a mop of blue appeared, and suddenly each and every of Sango’s questions were answered.

„Anooo...Nagakura-san...? I’m hungry.“

She would have recognized that adorable little pout among a millions.

„Ryuunosuke-kun!“

Impossibly huge amber eyes, even huger than Heisuke’s, or Saigo’s turned to look at her confusedly and Sango crouched down while Ryuunosuke approached her with slow, careful steps.

„Hey, don’t you remember me?“

Finally recognition flashed through those huge eyes and a tiny finger, not unlike Heisuke’s, pointed at her.

„You’re that hot wench who hit me in the head for telling the pigtail girl, that she was a boy after she punched me!“

With ’pigtail girl’ he probably meant Saigo and Sango was about to correct that little detail in the little boy’s recollection of the last time that Serizawa-san had left his son in Shinpachi’s care, when her brother cut in.

„Ryuunosuke, what did you just call my sister?“

Huh?

Sango had to go back in the conversation a little, before she understood what Shinpachi was getting at. She hadn’t even noticed the pejorative word, completely used to such expressions.

Ryuunosuke didn’t seem to realize it himself, as he looked with confused eyes at Shinpachi, before the man elaborated.

„You just said ’hot wench’, didn’t you?“

Ryuunosuke didn’t look even remotely close to sorry. „Is that bad?“ he asked. „Because Dad called her that too. He said Nagakura-san’s sister is a hot wench and when I asked him if that meant that she’s on fire, he said no, it meant she was attractive. I thought that’s a good thing. I asked him if that meant that Oume-san’s also a hot wench, but he just told me to stop asking stupid questions and go do whatever.“

Sango couldn’t help it, she just had to laugh.

Go figure, that Serizawa-san wouldn’t hold his tongue even in front of his son! And the adorable pout that accompanied Ryuunosuke’s explanation, along with the priceless expression on Shinpachi’s face were simply too much to bear at once.

„Hey, nee-san, what’s so funny?“

Sango couldn’t hold back, simply couldn’t.

„Shinpachi’s face kinda is!“

Ryuunosuke looked up at the man and nodded, pout not leaving his face.

„Yeah, you’re right nee-san, it is.“

Shinpachi’s expression turned even funnier.

Finally, with one last chuckle, Sango decided to spare her brother further nerve wreckage and stood up.

„You didn’t tell me that you had Ryuunosuke-kun over again.“

The first time had been during summer break, when Serizawa-san had been away from town for business and Oume-san couldn’t afford to take a week off from work, to look after Ryuunosuke the entire day, so Shinpachi’s boss had unceremoniously announced to Sango’s brother, that he’d be taking care of Ryuu during daytime and no, that didn’t mean he wasn’t supposed to keep the deadline.

Sango had taken pity on her brother then and took Ryuunosuke in, so he could play with her kids the entire day.

He’d had a rather fun time with Saigo.

Well, at least untill Ryuunosuke had been careless enough to say that Toushi looked like a devil and he could ’already see the horns coming out’.

Saigo had punched him then.

And Ryuunosuke told Saigo she punched like a boy.

Which wasn’t entirely untrue, but the sad look that suddenly appeared in Saigo’s eyes after Ryuu had said that, made Sango act without thinking first, as so often. Before she realized, that it was the son of her brother’s boss in front of her, she’d chucked him over the head and bellowed at him to apologize.

Shinpachi had been on the verge of a heart attack when he’d heard about the incident, but Serizawa-san didn’t seem to care much, saying that the brat had probably deserved it.

But that aside, it had been a nice day and one pouty look from those amber eyes was all it took for Sango to be head over heels with Ryuunosuke. And if Sango was entirely honest with herself, the kid reminded her too much of how she used to be, when she was his age. Bratty and full of smart remarks, pouting at the unfairness of the world and why had she have to be the only sister and the youngest sibling at the same time.

Needless to say, Ryuunosuke had made quite an impression.

It was Shinpachi’s voice that brought her back to reality.

„I didn’t have when to tell you. Oume-san had been here just this morning, saying that Ryuunosuke’s class was on a field trip, that Serizawa-san didn’t allow him to go on and that she couldn’t keep him at the tailor’s shop and her boss didn’t give her the entire week off, and since everything went so well the last time, Serizawa-san said he could stay with me while she worked and she hoped it wasn’t too much of an inconvenience, and that she was sorry she didn’t inform me beforehand, but Serizawa-san had shared it with her just an hour ago, and so on. I couldn’t really say no. And since then everything had been upside down and I didn’t have the time to even call you.“

Sango nodded.

„That’s fine, I get it. Sounds like your boss expects Himalaian tasks from you again.“

Shinpachi looked like he was near tears.

Sango smiled.

„Look, how about this? I take Ryuunosuke, while you try to get as much work done as humanly possible. It’s no problem for me, the house’s empty. I only have to pick up the twins in two hours and then we can go to the playground. Souji and Chizuru won’t be home ’till after four, Toushi ’till six. I can even bring you your lunch over and you can eat it whenever you feel like you’ve got the time.“

Judging by the relieved look Shinpachi made, her brother agreed with the plan 100 %.

„Oume-san wanted to pick him up at five.“ Was the only reply he gave, before he gently nudged Ryuunosuke towards her. „Ryuunosuke-chan, you’ll stay with Sango for a while now, yes? You’ll behave and you won’t call her anything....anything your father calls her, is that clear?“

Ryuunosuke nodded.

Shinpachi smiled and ruffled the blue top.

„And I’ll let you in on a little secret.“ he bent down, while Ryuu’s eyes sparked with interest. Then Shinpachi whispered secretively, making Sango supress another chuckle, pretending she didn’t hear them. Boys. „Sango has tons of food cooked.“

Ryuunosuke’s hand was in Sango’s before Shinpachi finished the sentence, huge eyes shining with hope.

It took only a few more moments for Shinpachi to get Ryuu’s stuff together that Oume-san had left with the boy that morning and then they were headed to the Shinsengumi household.


ox*xo



As promised, Sango brought one share of lunch over to her brother’s, before returning home and fully engaging herself to fooling around with the adorable boy. But mostly Ryuunosuke just kept quietly drawing, only occassionaly looking up to ask Sango something, or another. He was also very supple, doing what Sango asked him to do, even if he more often than not voiced he’d be rather doing something else. But he still did what he was asked.

While he was completely adorable, he was a strange boy, Sango thought.

He rarely smiled.

A while later they went to pick Heisuke and Saigo up from the elementary. Heisuke seemed ecstatic that Ryuu was visiting again and even Ryuunosuke seemed to cheer up a bit, as he saw his friends.

Neither of the boys noticed the slight flush that appeared on Saigo’s cheeks.

And since Saigo didn’t have kendo today, they went home right away.

After eating their regular portion of the lunch, the twins sat down to do their home work and Ryuunosuke settled for drawing again. After doing quick work on the dishes, Sango tried to peak at the picture, but Ryuunosuke noticed her and covered the sheet with his tiny body.

„It’s not done yet!“

Obviously not having any other choice, Sango surrendered, holding up her hands and smiling to herself. She then settled for helping the kids with their homework.

Saigo was finished first.

Then the little girl silently sat down next to Ryuunosuke – who was still endorsed in drawing the obvious masterpiece – and...well, it was hard to determine what she wanted, but to Sango it seemed like she was waiting for something.

Maybe she wanted Ryuu to speak first?

But Ryuunosuke didn’t.

He just kept stealing, what were probably supposed to be secret glances at Saigo, while the little girl just silently sat there, helplessly red.

Sango had the feeling she’ll melt, if this continued any longer.

Thankfully Heisuke was soon finished with his homework and they could go to the playground. Sango needed a little air, from all the cuteness.

Saigo’s albino bunny, Ryuunosuke’s ball and most of Heisuke’s stuff secured in a duffel bag, they headed out.

There weren’t many kids on the playground yet, so Sango sat down onto her favorite spot, one of the old swing that have been there for the last twenty years (and they still held out her weight), while she watched the kids play animatedly.

„Ryuu, you can borrow this one!“ Heisuke, ever the game-maker, announced as he gave Ryuunosuke one of his cars. „And Touko can start the race!“ Saigo’s ears perked up, at the mention of her snow bunny and Heisuke quickly explained. „In cool movies girls always start races! They have to stand between the two cars and wave!“

It seemed that Souji had been watching ’Fast and Furious’ with Heisuke again. Sango made a mental note to give her oldest son a small piece of mind, once they got home. Saigo however relented and Touko got to be the one to start the race.

Sango watched them for a long time, as she remembered the days when she had been their age and she didn’t even notice how she started comparing them to the kids from her childhood. She didn’t even notice how a man approached them, before a thin scarf wasn’t dangling in front of her face.

„Here. As a thanks for taking care of Ryuunosuke-chan.“

Said the familiar voice and Sango looked up to smile at her brother.

„Shinpachi. I thought you were working.“ She took the piece of cloth and regarded it. It was thin and light, soft to touch and the pattern went just so with a blouse she bought recently. „Thank you. It’s beautiful.“

Shinpachi sat down on the swing next to her, while she wrapped the scarf around her neck right away, then turning to her brother for compliments.

„You’re welcome. I know you like accesories and to dress up and it wasn’t too expensive.“ He regarded Sango for a moment. „Nice. It suits you. I saw it as I went to buy myself some coke.“ He held up the bottle witht he dark liquid. „I’ll need the drink later. But for now I’m taking a small break and I thought I would come to see how you were faring. I didn’t find you at home, so I figured you were here.“

Sango smiled. „We’re just fine. The kids are ecstatic that Ryuu is over again.“ She chuckled amusedly. „You should have seen how Saigo blushed.“

„Must have been incredibly cute.“

„You missed a lot.“ They watched how another girl joined the round and hugged Ryuu, before Sango turned to her brother. „So, how’s work?“

„Fine. If I pull an all-nighter, I can prolly catch up with the schedule. That’s what the coke’s for.“

„You could have just made coffee, you know.“

„I needed the break. And I wanted to check on Ryuu, see if he was sprouting bumps on his head yet.“ Shinpachi looked at her pointedly and Sango laughed.

„None yet.“ She said. „If you want to, I can take him during daytime, so you don’t fall behind again. The kids will be happy and it’s no problem for me.“

„’Bro, that would really rock.“

Sango smirked. „It’s a deal then!“

They watched the kids some more. The small girl who joined them earlier was merrily chatting with Saigo, while Ryuu just sat pouting with an oblivious Heisuke.

„You know what?“ Shinpachi spoke suddenly.

„What?“

„Ryuunosuke-chan keeps reminding me of you a lot. Same pout, some defiance, same brattiness. He could seriously be yours. Only difference, the when someone upsets him, he doesn’t use his fists.“

„No, we already have Saigo to do that.“ Sango replied, not letting Shinpachi in, that she had thought the same thing mere hours ago. „But suppose you’re right.“

„You used to be like that. Stand-offish, bratty, always arguing with everyone, getting into fights...Wanting nothing else than to prove to everyone, that you aren’t a crybaby and that you aren’t a girl.“ Shinpachi snorted. „I think you broke Mom’s heart there. She’d attempted five times to have a girl she could dress-up and go shopping with and the only girl she ever had, ended up being more boyish than any of the boys.“

Sango laughed silently, memories flashing through her mind, while Shinpachi continued.

„But you liked it, didn’t you? Dressing up. And shopping and being all girly and nice. But you never showed it, afraid of what we’d say, or what the boys on the playground would think. That you were just like any other girl.“ Shinpachi smiled fondly. „But you never were. I always though it was the coolest about you. You never cried, never threw a tantrum when you were hurt...you were always so strong. And your right hook had been really cool. You always stood out.“

The smile on Sango’s face gained a sad quality, as she recalled the less pleasent memories from her childhood.

„Yeah, I stood out, alright, being the only one playing alone, because everyone feared me...“

Shinpachi smiled understandingly.

„Sitting on a swing, all alone, trying your best not to cry, so that no one could call you a girl, on top of everything.“

Sango chuckled lightly, remembering that.

„And then you’d come, demanding why I look like I was about to bawl, like some stupid girl and who did that, because they were gonna be sorry.“

„You never wanted to tell me...“

Sango smiled crookedly, finishing instead of her brother.

„But you ended up pulling it out of me anyway. And then you’d end up in a fight, hopelessly overpowered and I’d have to help you. Then we’d both end up beat up and aching and Mom would fret over us. And still no one would play with me.“

„I did.“

„You were my brother, you didn’t count.“ She looked into those kind, blue eyes. „It wasn’t only until later I found out, it was all that counted.“

They smiled at each other.

„I never told you, Sango, but I have always been really proud to have a sister like you.“

A moment of silence passed between them.

„Sis’?“

Sango startled slightly at the rare nickname.

„What is it?“

„Your eyes are wet.“

With a start Sango realized, that they indeed were. But there was no way, she was admitting that not even to her twin.

„You must be imagining things. Me? Crying? I thought we’d already established I don’t do crying. It’d totally smear my make-up.“

Shinpachi smirked, but said nothing, turning his gaze to the playing kids instead. But out of the cornner of his eyes he caught his little sister subtly wiping at her eyes, not to let the nostalgic tears fall.

For a while there was silence between them, untill Sango spoke.

„Heisuke’s like you.“

„Huh?“ Shinpachi asked stupidly, the context of their earlier conversation not coming to his mind immediately.

„Out of all my kids, Heisuke has his genes entirely from our side of the family. He especially resembles you. He even looks like you, save for the aqua eyes.“ Sango elaborated. „He’s got the same grinn and playfulness too. A small bundle of energy, just like you used to be.“ After a second of thought, Sango corrected herself. „Like you still are.“

Shinpachi laughed. „Is that so? Hmm...“ He thought about it for a few moments. „But Souji on the other hand, is your carbon copy. His eyes might be a bit more green and his hair a bit more auburn, but his personality is exactly like you.“

Sango smiled. „Not exactly. He has several streaks that remind me of his father so much it’s almost eerie.“ Sango thought for a second. „But if Souji is like me, then Saigo is like her father. She looks like him and acts like him. It’s like having a chibi female version of my husband at home, it’s almost too cute to bear.“

„Oh, but she has a lot of your behavior patterns.“ Shinpachi said contemplatingly. „Sometimes she just gets this peculiar look, or a gesture she does and it’s like I’m looking at you. The way she throws punches is also a lot like your style.“

Sango hummed. „She’s the exact opposite of Souji in this. Maybe that’s why they get along so well!“

They both laughed.

„Chizuru’s the black sheep.“

„Oh?“

„Yeah, she completely takes after her grandmother, from her father’s side. I saw some old photos of okaa-san, it was like looking at Chizuru.“

„In other words, she’s just like Heisuke, just from the other side.“

Sango thought about it. „You’re right!“

Shinpachi smirked. „All in all, I think Ryuu would fit perfectly into our family.“

„You think your boss would mind if we adopted him?“

„I’m not gonna ask him.“

Sango laughed at Shinpachi’s definite tone. „Hey, you can’t blame me! Ryuu’s too cute for his own good!“

That was when Heisuke’s voice carried over to them and they started paying attention to their surroundings again.

„Hey Saigo! Saaaaaigooooo! Aw maaan, what’s with you?!“

Instantly on alert, they both looked at the direction of the youngest daughter, but what they saw, was one of the sweetest sights that ever presented itself to them.

Saigo was sitting on the ground, lifelessly playing with the albino plushie Touko, while Ryuunosuke was a few feet away, talking quietly to the girl from earlier, their faces burning, both of them doing ther best not to look at each other, but stealing ’very subtle’ glances every now and then.

„Aw will you look at that? We’ve got out first love triangle and it’s not even Chizuru who’s involved.“ Sango pursed her lips at the cuteness, while Shinpachi was snickering quietly beside her.

„How horrible.“ he said, mock serious. „At this rate Saigo’s heart will be completely shattered.“

„Who’s that girl anyway?“ Sango wondered out loud. „Ryuu’s friend?“

„I think that’s Kosuzu-chan. Oume-san mentioned her a few times, said she was Ryuunosuke’s friend.“ He smirked. „She never said how serious it was.“

Sango smiled sideways. „How tragic.“

That was when Shinpachi’s cell-phone went off and a brief look at the called-id put an expression of slight shock on his face, before he hurried to pick it up.

„Yes, Oume-san!“

When Sango heard that name, her eyes shot to the watch around her wrist, which confirmed, that yes, it was indeed shortly before 5 o’clock.

„I’m sorry, I didn’t realize how late it was, we’re on the playground nearby.“ She heard her brother say. „It’s down the street and across the park. You’ll see us when you get to the memorial.“

He hung up and not five minutes later, he was waving at the blond woman, who appeared at the white marble pillar, in the middle of the small park.

Sango had met Serizawa-san’s girlfriend on occassions, but she never ceased to be amazed by the sheer elegance and beauty of the other woman. Where Sango was tall, Oume-san was petite. Where Sango was full of flesh and sharp curves, Oume-san had delicate lines. Where Sango was chiselled like stone, Oume-san was a flowing frame, like a gentle current.

High cheekbones on a round face, sensual lips pained a gentle pink, purple eyes framed by subtle eyeshades and long lashes, blond hair tied in a loose, but perfect knot, a few strands hanging sensualy into her face, shading her features with a touch of mystery. A subtle lavendel blouse, the top two buttons undone, letting them catch a glimpse of the silver necklace gracing her pale skin, and a long lilac skirt to compliment her figure and elegance.

If there was one thing that could not be denied about Serizawa Kamo, it was his perfect taste of woman.

Oume-san reached them and they both stood up, and Shinpachi bowed.

„I’m sorry for the trouble. I guess, I wasn’t looking at the clock much today.“ He said, scratching the back of his head embarassedly.

„Oh, no, Nagakura-san. I have to apologize for the trouble. In Serizawa-san’s name too.“

„Ah, please.“ Shinpachi waved it off. „I ended up dumping it on my sister, anyway.“

Sango nodded in greeting and Oume bowed again.

„It seems I have to thank you too.“

„Oh, not at all. Ryuunosuke-kun’s a darling, I did it with pleasure.“

Oume-san smiled with thanks and called after the little boy.

„Ryuunosuke-kun!“

Ryuu looked up and as he noticed her, she waved at him. The little boy ran over to them and came to stand right in front of Oume-san, looking indecisive, like he didn’t know how to talk to the fine woman, but Sango supposed it was natural. Kids needed time before they could determine where to place a person. Especially if the woman that was dating one the father, wasn’t their mother, Sango thought.

„Hi!“

„Hello...“

But Oume-san seemed to be doing everything right. She wasn’t too clingy, leaving Ryuu the space the boy needed, but at the same time she was nice to him, showing the kid that she was no threat.

„Did you have fun today?“

Ryuu brightened at the question and nodded a bit hesitantly, but with a small, happy smile on the round face and Oume patted is hair affectionately.

„You seem spirited today. I’m glad...“

„I’ll go get his stuff, to save you the trouble.“ Shinpachi announced and Sango handed him the keys.

„Living room.“ Was all she said and her brother nodded.

Then they noticed Ryuu eyeing them with huge, concerned eyes.

Shinpachi caught on right away.

„I swear, I’ll handle your drawings with the utmost care.“ He said, holding up his right hand in an almost ceremonial oath. „There won’t be the tiniest crease on them, I promise.“

Ryuu eyed him for a moment contemplatingly, before nodding.

With that Shinpachi sprinted off and Oume-san let go of Ryuu.

„Go say bye to your friends.“

Ryuu padded off, leaving the two woman to themselves.

„I’m sorry again, for the inconvenience.“

„It’s really nothing.“ Sango smiled. „It’s fun looking after Ryuunosuke. If you allow me to say so, he’s one of the cutest children I’ve ever seen.“

Oume-san smiled gently.

„Yeah, he is. He’s so cute, it makes me almost envious, that he isn’t mine.“ She looked at Sango with those amethyst eyes and chuckled lightly.

Sango returned the smile. „Personally, I’d say he’s more your’s than you think.“

Oume-san smiled. „Thank you, Sango-san, you’re very kind.“

They watched for a while as Ryuunosuke was trying to string a sentence together, while talking to Kosuzu.

„Oh, will you just look at that.“ Oume-san whispered. „They’re so sweet together, it almost hurts.“

Sango chuckled. „Oh, they are. I’m afraid he broke my daughter’s heart.“

„How cruel. I’ll have to chastisize him thoroughly.“

Sango snickered underneath her breath.

„Nice scarf.“

She turned to see Oume-san regarding the piece she recieved from Shinpachi only a short while ago.

„Thank you, my brother bought it for me.“

„Oh, I so wish I had a brother to buy me things. Kamo never does.“

Sango smirked. „Maybe you should get yourself a secret lover, who’d shower you with nice presents.“

„What a fantastic idea! I’ll have to give it some serious thought.“

They both giggled at the thought. Everyone, who knew Oume-san, also knew she’d never cheat on Serizawa-san, even in spite of how gruff and insufferable that man could be. Not many people understood why a woman like Oume stayed with a man like Serizawa Kamo, but Sango guessed she had her reasons and it wasn’t her place to judge it. After all, not many people understood either why Sango left behind her proffessional carreer in favor of family life.

„But really, Sango-san, you always look so fashionable and sexy. Even my boyfriend thinks you’re hot.“

Sango smiled. „I’d say Oume-san, Serizawa-san still thinks you’re hotter.“

First an expression of surprise appeared on the beautiful face, before it went over to a smile that was almost wicked. „Thank you!“

They both shared another giggle.

„Unbelievable. I leave you two for five minutes and all you do when I return is giggle like girls.“

They turned around to see Shinpachi grinning with amusement.

Sango smirked, turning to her brother.

„In case my breasts aren’t clue enough for you – I am a girl.“

Shinpachi sent his sister a look, that was a strange mixture of sharp and horrified, while Oume-san quietly chuckling into her hand, accpeted the bag the man was giving her.

„Ryuunosuke-kun!“ she called him over and Ryuu scurried back to her again. She reached out and he grasped her hand. „It’s time to go.“

Ryuunosuke pouted. „Do we really have to? I don’t wanna go yet!“

Oume-san smiled at him. „You can come back tomorrow. And the day after that. And the entire week and anytime you want, you just have to ask me. But for now, please come with me. Your Daddy is surely waiting for us already.“

Ryuunosuke still didn’t look convinced.

„And I’m sure that Sango-san and your friends will leave soon too.“

As if on cue, Sango nodded.

„I have to cook dinner after all. The ’Devil’ will be coming home soon.“ She winked at Ryuunosuke and the boy giggled as he obviously realized the small inside joke.

„Okay...“ the boy relented finally, before he dislodged himself from Oume-san. „But I have to do something first.“ he announced, before he begun rumaging through his bag.

„Alright, but hurry, yes?“

„Yeeees.“ Ryuunosuke sung, before pulling out two of his drawings. Shinpachi had kept his promise, there wasn’t a single crease on the sheets of paper.

The boy ran over to where the girls were standing and handed one of the papers to Kosuzu, with his face burning from embarassment and apparently stammering. Sango heard the excited gasp the little girl gave from across the playground and then Ryuu was assumably dying, or spontanously combusting, as Kosuzu, from the sheer happiness of recieving a gift from the boy, hugged him.

Ryuunosuke quickly dislodged himself from the girl, muttering something, that made Kosuzu’s lips pull into an ’o’, before she giggled.

Then Ryuunosuke turned to Saigo, who untill now had been watching quietly from afar, obviously very sad, that her friend seemed to have forgotten all about her. But then Ryuunosuke handed her the second sheet of paper, still red, but a bit less embarassed and said something that Sango couldn’t hear from the distance, but it put a smile onto Saigo’s face that brightened her features with happiness and made the little girl look like an angel. Heisuke and Kosuzu were next to her in a moment, looking at the picture and, Sango could hear even from the distance, saying how nice it was. Sango swore she heard Heisuke say, that it looked nicer than what Kosuzu got, which made the brownhaired girl regard her picture a bit sadly. But then Saigo must have said something that cheered the girl up, because at the next moment they were hugging each other.

Sango was almost happy she didn’t hear the entire conversation, because already the visuals were sheer cuteness.

Then Ryuu waved at his friends for one last time, before running over to Oume-san and taking her hand once again.

„Ready?“ Oume-san asked, eyes shining down at Ryuunosuke with gentle affection, while the boy only nodded resolutely.

With that Oume-san bid goodbye to the siblings, waved at the kids and then they both left.

Sango watched their retreating forms for a while, noting that from the distance they really looked like mother and son, before turning to her own rascals.

„Heisuke, Saigo! Get your stuff together, we’re leaving! Tou-san gets home soon and I still have to cook dinner!“

x*x


They were halfway through collecting all of Heisuke’s stuff, when a boyish voice called out to them.

„Kaa-san!“

Sango turned around to see her two remaining children approach the playground.

„We’ve come to pick you up!“ Chizuru waved at them and the youths sprinted towards them.

Heisuke ran up to his big immediately, dropping instantly all of his stuff, giving the girl an affectionate hug, which Chizuru returned lovingly.

„Nee-chan!“

„Heisuke-chan!“

Souji meanwhile held his arms out for his little sister, who was a moment later in her older brother’s embrace.

„Hey there, Saigo-chan.“ Souji patted the dark hair and Saigo nuzzled her face into her brother’s chest.

Sango regarded her kids with mild surprise from where she was picking up one of Heisuke’s cars and turned to her oldest son.

„What gives?“

Souji shrugged.

„Nee-san thought it’s getting late, so she thought she’d go and see what’s keeping you. I tagged along.“

With one look at her watch, Sango nodded.

„Have you eaten?“

„Nee-san wasn’t hungry, so I ate the rest of the stew. It was good. The peppers tasted weird, though.“

Only Shinpachi saw how Sango’s shoulders stiffened, as she heard that.

„But I’m getting hungry again.“ Souji however, not noticing the slight discomfort he’d put his mother into, added then.

Sango smiled. „We’ll go home, just as soon as we finish collecting Heisuke’s...collection.“

„I’ll help you.“

„Thank you.“ Sango smiled, but as soon as Souji was within reach, she grasped one of the boy’s ears and tugged slightly, but enough to make the kid wince. „But if I catch wind of you watching action movies with Heisuke ever again, you’ll be grounded for a month. Without internet, playstation, gameboy and cell-phone!“

„Gotcha Ma’am!“

Sango let him go, smiling sweetly.

„There’s a good boy.“

Souji pursed his lips and rubbed his ear, but other than that he didn’t say anything else and returned to searching the ground for his younger brother’s stuff.

x*x


Five minutes later they were on their way home, Heisuke lead by Chizuru and Saigo carried by Souji, while Sango and Shinpachi carried the bags, listening to their youngest talk animatedly.

„And then Souji, you know, you know, Ryuu gave Saigo a picture and Saigo was very happy and blushed and thanked Ryuu and Ryuu blushed too!“

„Really?“ Souji asked, his eyes narrowing to slits. „That’s mighty interesting Heisuke. What happened then?“

Heisuke, completely unaware of the dark aura surrounding his brother, continued his story, while Sango watched with a fond smile on her face. Not many people knew it, but Souji had a very protective streak, when it came to either of his sisters. Just another of the quirks he had from his father. Right now, he really resembled Toushi, when the older man caught wind of someone flirting with Sango.

„Then? Uhm...Then Saigo and that other girl got really girly, you know weird like sometimes girls get and then they hugged-“

„Ryuunosuke and Saigo?“

Souji’s look was so menacing, that Sango had to supress a laugh.

„No, I’m telling you, Saigo and that other girl and then Ryuu had left.“

„I see.“

Souji seemed really relieved.

„Hey, Souji, are you alright?“ Heisuke asked. „You got a really weird face.“

„I feel fine, thank you Heisuke.“

For a few moments there was silence.

„So you’ve been with the brat again.“

„Don’t call him that.“ Sango admonished. „He’s a nice boy.“

„Oh, yeah, sure.“

Sango chuckled and only shook her head at the antics of her son. She supposed there was very little that could prove Ryuunosuke worthy in Souji’s eyes, now that he knew that the little boy was crushing on one of his sisters.

They reached Shinpachi’s house and came to a halt.

„Alright then.“ Shinpachi said and Sango turned to her brother. „Back to work.“

„I take it you won’t be coming over for dinner.“

Shinpachi shook his head, blue eyes sad and regrettfull.

„You now I’d love to bro’, but higher powers...“

Sango waved it off. „That’s fine. I’ll just bring you your share over.“

„Bro’, that’s really not necessary, I’ll just make myself a sandwich, or whatev-“ he started waving his hands in front of himself, but Sango cut him off.

„Nonsense. There’ll be enough left for you and I’ll feel better knowing you’re eating something adviseable.“

Shinpachi eyed his sister for a small moment, before muttering, so only she could hear. „I’m not sure about adviseable, if it tastes anything like the peppers earlier, but if you insist...“

Sango shot him a murderous, outraged look, before sneering back at him. „Oh, I do. I insist. No one will suspect me of murder, if you die of food poisoning.“

With a smile on his face, Shinpachi shook his head. Little sisters...

Sango meanwhile calmed down again. „I can also bring you a thermos bottle of coffee.“

„Just don’t forgett to add salt.“

Sango decided to ignore the statement, that was a wink at another...’Sango-and-the-kitchen incident’ dating few months back. „I know you’ve got coke, but coffee will keep you warmer. And you can alternate.“

Shinpachi eyed his sister for several moments, like he was contemplating whether it made sense saying no to Sango, before his shoulders heaved with defeat, as he muttered underneath his breath something about little sisters and bossy girls.

„Fine, fine, alright. Go and poison me all you want. I’ve gotten quite immune against it, anyway.“ Sango’s look was getting a bit offended by now and Shinpachi decided it was time to drop the jokes and smiled at her. „Kidding. If you want to cook for me so much, go ahead. I’m the last one to mind.“ And then he added with a small nod of gratitude. „Thank you.“

Sango’s smirk shone with triumph. „I’ll be over after dinner.“


ox*xo



„So you were with the brat again.“

Toushi said, after he’d gotten home and demanded an explanation as to why dinner wasn’t still ready, maybe not in the same exact words, but unmistakeably with that point.

Men.

Sango then told him about how they had been held up at the playground and those words had been the reply he gave her. Sango eyed her husband with a deadpan face as she heard that, a feeling of deja-vu washing over her. Really. Father and Son. If Souji was pot, Toushi was kettle.

She didn’t share the comparison with her husband though, admonishing him instead with the same words she’d already used on their son. „Don’t call him that. He’s a nice boy.“

„Oh yeah, a very fine boy. Not only is he Serizawa’s brat, he’s after Saigo!“

Sango wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. She settled for smirking at the protectiveness.

„You’re just jealous, because you’ve got competition.“

„Nonsense!“ Toushi cried, but Sango pretended she didn’t hear him, giving her husband a mock sad face.

„Seems like you’re not the only man in Saigo’s heart anymore.“ Then she smirked, her voice returning to normal. „And she’s only eight! Wonder what you’ll do once she’s fifteen and discovering that there are other boys in the world besides her brothers and father!“

Toushi’s face turned from angry to horrified.

„That’s not going to happen! I’ll kill anyone who comes near her!“

Sango laughed. „Oh, if Saigo’s anything like me at all...“ she trailed off, but Toushi got the point anyway, as he screamed, hands clasping his ears tightly.

„No!!! Stop it! Sango, stop talking immediately!!!“

And as if Toushi didn’t believe Sango was capable of doing that, he fled from the kitchen, making sure he didn’t have to hear any of the scary future that awaited him, while all Sango could do was laugh so hard that she doubled over.


ox*xo



„Sango?“

They were after dinner and Sango was just packing her brother’s share into a larger lunchbox, while the coffee was bubbling silently on the herd next to her, as Toushi approached her, a contemplating look in those midnight purple eyes.

„Do you think I’m too overprotective?“

Sango wasn’t entirely sure how to reply to the unusual question.

Was he?

In complete opposite to their high school days, Toushi had become really conservative and a bit uptight, but she guessed any man who suddenly had a couple of kids to feed got like that. While it did scrape at the nerves a bunch of times, it had also been a pillar of massive support to Sango, during that turbulent first year of their marriage. It was kinda assuring to know that she could rely on him, when she needed. And the kids had inherited this albeit annoying, but still wonderful quality from him so...who was she to complain?

But Toushi looked really serious ad he stood there in front of her, expectant and unsure, so Sango, pouring the coffee, that had finished brewing in the meantime, into the thermos, decided to answer him with a joke, to cheer him up.

„Oh, well. A bit maybe, but you still didn’t lock Chizuru up in a tower to keep her from seeing boys, so...“

Toushi eyed her with a blank expression.

„Chizuru isn’t interested in boys.“

Sango almost spilled the coffee as she had to laugh again.

„Anata!“ she finally locked the vacuum bottle and laid it into the bag next to the lunch box. „She’s fourteen! Of course she’s interested in boys! She’s just clever enough not to let you in on that.“ And Sango couldn’t but add teasingly, knowing exactly what she was doing to her husband. „And I must say, she’s got quite the taste.“

Toushi’s eyes widened to the size of sake cups.

„What do you mean with that?“

Sango just smiled secretively at her husband, while she took the bag and headed for the door, Toushi trailing right behind her.

„Sango wait! Sango come back here and tell me immediately what you know! SANGO!“

But Sango was already out of the door, shutting it behind herself right into the face of her husband and whistling to herself over the accomplishment, she made her way over to her brother’s.

As she was walking down the pavement of Shinpachi’s yard, fumbling for the spare keys, the thought came to her, that what had seemingly begun as a quiet, normal day of routine, had come out as unexpectedly entertaining.

Smirking, Sango unlocked the door.

Whoever said, that kids were no fun?

With that last thought, she stepped into the house of her brother and shut the door behind herself.


ox*xox*xox*xox*xox*xo


Notes
I could now talk about why I decided to write some parts of the chapters as I did, but I’m not going to. Instead I’ll just tell you, that whoever wants to see Saigo with pigtails, here’s a link for my livejournal album, where I put stuff/illustrations of the Shinsengumi family. I kinda blew the coloration, but there’s an uncolored image too, so...enjoy!

http://manaika.livejournal.com/pics/catalog/3891

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