Author's Note: This is another ficlet inspired by something that Buffalocatz mentioned. Thanks again!
Waiting For the Audience
I intentionally arrived a little early; I don't know why. Usually arriving at the appointed time is sufficient. One of the servants showed me into a side room and brought me some tea. At least this spared me having to see either of those two morons who profess to be my friends. I would consider myself fortunate if I could escape their presence for the rest of the day. I doubt that I could be so lucky. Sometimes I think that with friends like those two, who needs enemies.
Teru-sama has never missed the opportunity to have amusement at my expense. I find myself disgusted that I let her get away with it so often, but she is the daimyo's sister, so she does deserve a degree of respect, regardless of her behavior. I think back to Aizu before the Boshin War; I have an idea that her attitude toward me was prompted by me questioning Tokio's suitability to be a combatant that first day of training. As I recall, I asked Tokio what she was doing at the training session, because she was Teru-sama's scribe.
My remark sparked quite a reaction in Tokio. So much so, that she even managed to land a lucky blow to my rib cage during naganata practice the next day. Only a foolish man or a very determined woman would have tried to get some retribution for my remarks. Tokio is one very determined woman. When she puts her mind to something, nothing can stop her, even though she might be poorly suited to the task at hand, like that day at the Kurasawa's when she tried to break new ground for planting.
Her reactions during training in Aizu are what attracted me to her in the first place. Most men would not have dared to challenge me like that. That was when I first realized that Tokio was not like most women, and as determined as the best of men. After escaping with my life after the Boshin War ended, I was exiled to Tonami, living in the same household as Tokio. I saw her at her best and at her worst. It was then that I realized, if I were to marry for life, it would be to her and no other.
Tokio. I have refused to allow myself to think about how she might feel about me after three long years. I have to believe that she feels the same as she did the day we parted. I am loath to admit, that to think otherwise, would be too disturbing for me. I am a man who is rarely disturbed by anything or anyone.
Massaging my temples with my fingertips, I feel like lighting up again. I can't believe how many packs of cigarettes I have smoked the past week. It has to be some kind of record for me. The sound of muffled footsteps catches my attention.
"Saitoh-sama," I say as I knock lightly on the shoji. "Takagi-san is waiting for the interview. It is time to go," I tell my brother's friend.
I knew my luck couldn't hold, when I heard padding footsteps, followed by Teru's voice telling me that the time has come. Opening the shoji I merely grunt and nod, then follow her down the hall, stopping at the door she indicates. My fate will soon be sealed.
Stifling the urge to grin, I lead the former third captain to the door to the room where Tokio-chan waits. I would love to know what is running through that head of his. I also wish I could be a mouse in the corner so I could see the expression on her face when she realizes who it is that she is meeting.
But I will have to settle for a bit of discreet eves dropping from the adjoining room. I know that I should give the two of them complete privacy. But I won't. I am going to stay in the room next door, waiting silently, just to make sure that wolf of hers behaves in a proper manner. If he doesn't, who knows what type of retribution I might carry out? This is one reunion that I do not intend to miss.
Author's note: If you would like to read about the meeting between Saitoh and Tokio that happens right after the action in this story, please see my 'one-shot', A Long Awaited Reunion.