A bag of tea again? The cop winced as he wrapped it back up. Two choices, give it to Kawaji or throw it in the trash. Without further ado, trash it was. Closer. -Easier-.
As he dragged on his cigarette, feet up on his desk, his eyes couldn't tear itself away from the garbage bin. He always found it so damn annoying that people would assume something about him, just because of the things he did and the people he chose to associate with. He didn't really expect Hide to be so… -Naïve-. Sure he was a good friend of Souji. Sure he practically lost everything while trying to solve that case to clear Souji's name. Who would've thought so many would still be interested with a dead man, he wondered, but they were. If they couldn't get a hold of Souji, they'd at least smear his name. It really shouldn't matter now but she was so insistent. And the prize was tea. But why in the world tea? Didn't the woman even –think-? He remember distinctly that back in those days he would avoid tea and substitute sake, drowning it like it was water… or –tea-. He wasn't the one with the "illness" after all. Why couldn't she have picked "black" tea instead? Coffee was it? It was the rage in Tokyo.
Another day, another irriting day but now this was a surprise… A bento lunchbox, when was the last time anyone's taken the time to… That's right. –Never-. Speechless, he took the box from her and sat back down. Tonkatsu… Soba… Tempura… Unagi… How many people did she cook for?
"Sit down. I can't finish this by myself." He replied curtly. He was a wolf, so he ate like a wolf and slurped like… Well do wolves slurp?
Done with lunch, he started the customary cigarette. Never mind his guest, he thought. She can leave if it bothered her. Alas! He searched his pockets. He searched inside his drawers. All empty. "Damn it!" With a sigh he replaced the matchbox in the drawer.
"What?" He growled, but blinked suddenly.
"I was saving this for later…" She pushed a carton of cigarettes to him. "I thought… It's not much but I thought it would be a good parting gift." She looked down to her lap, almost shy. And he looked at her, a small smirk creeping up his lips. He shouldn't… She was naïve… She was Souji's woman. Most of all, she was there when Tokio left him. All decent conscience forbade that he step over his bounds, but he was an animal in certain respects. He couldn't help it. The old blood of the old days returned. His days with Aioi… Just one more time he wanted to feel it and hell get back at Tokio.
"I'm afraid a carton won't do Hide…" He laid back to his chair. His eyes narrowed with intent. "How about you offer me dinner as well. Tonight. At –your- place."
Hide looked up, surprised at his stare, a seething look that gnawed at every inch of her skin. She wasn't –that- naïve not to know. She stuttered a reply to the wolf's content but left immediately afterwards. The preying wolf, planned his conquest.
Seduction was it? To get back at that woman who shitted all over him was it? So why as he laid there in her futon that he wasn't feeling particularly satisfied? He started to get up. He'll be late for work. Kawaji will have a fit. But as he tried to do so, he felt a weight on his chest. Hide… He almost uttered the words. What the hell was he thinking?
"I'm sorry, there's no breakfast."
He blinked back his surprise.
"It's fine…" His mind in a bit of a tissy, the words came out unguarded, "How are you.. feeling?" He blinked again.
"Sore." She let him go and rolled on her side of the futon.
"Indeed…" He almost smirked at that. He was still a man of endowment. Stroke the ego shall we?
He got up and dressed. He had no intention of seeing her again of course.
But he did, see her again. He even got her return home to Mibu village postponed. She fitted well in his lifestyle. She would listen when he wants her to and provide the services of his mistress when he wanted her to.
"Maybe you should go with me to Mibu. I'm sure Tamesaburou would be delighted to.."
"See me?" He scoffed and got up from the dining table. "I'm –busy-."
The next day he didn't come to see her. Why in the world not, well that could easily be explained by his shabby uniform and reek of alcohol. To his demise, she came to see him at lunch time as usual.
"I was worried." She finally decided to speak after meeting with his ghastly figure. A woman knows after all, she has instincts, but perhaps she didn't need that. He reeked, but not just of alcohol but perfume that wasn't drowned by the pungent smell of cigarettes either in the room.
"You forget." He chuckled, "Who you're talking to."
"Indeed…" She got up not finishing lunch. If she left right now, she can catch the train straight to Kyoto, back to her home in Mibu. Perhaps she made a mistake of replacing Souji with him. He was after all still married. Separated, but still married. Her fears got the best of her.
And the days passed, he didn't bother to look. Good riddance, he told himself. But hell, he passed by her transient house one night and stood there wondering why the lights were all out. He knocked anyway, telling himself it's his duty as a cop to make sure nothing was amiss. But the house was empty when he broke in, the kitchen stank with spoiled food and a dirty sink. He ran upstairs to her room, her clothes were all there neatly. And he wondered if she walked out on him that very day…
Sitting in the tatami room, he smoked and looked out the window. She might come back. She was kind to him, even when he despaired about his wife. Such a smooth move there ahou… Wailing about your wife to your lover… And he remembered his old friend Souji, "Take care of her Saitou-san when I'm gone", such a foolish friend to even ask that of him.
But Souji was the kind one… While he the crude blood thirsty man in the Shinsengumi. No wonder she fell for Souji first. He puffed even harder on his cigarette, almost burning his gloves. "Damn it!" he muttered.
He flicked the cigarette out the window. Maybe it will burn the house and his short memories of their time together. Why'd she even let him in, in the first place baffled him. She knew he was using her, making her pay a debt she didn't owe to him. It wasn't her fault his life became a mess. Was she that of a fool? And as he sat there till morning, the answer came. It was simple. It was clear.
But he was a stubborn wolf, so eventhough he was able to confirm she was safe in Mibu, he stayed in Tokyo. Never run after a woman. Never. It was too much of a bargain for him. So life went on, he worked harder breaking his back each day. Don't. Never. She's only a –woman-.
Perhaps he had no respect for women. They were easily bought, at least from his experience. Recently he knew they were as fickle as the dress they wore, like his wife and –her-. A visit to Yoshiwara was all he needed and so he did. He drowned himself quietly on sake and joked silently to himself that if Hijikata was still alive, perhaps he'd be right there with him.
Another day. Another irritating day. The sake cup broke as he slumped on the table. Passed out cold. A little voice chiding him, "And this is why you refrained from drinking correct? You fucking idiot." That was it for him.
He blinked as he shielded his eyes from the bright sun. His memory jogged with every turn he took in the narrow streets of Kyoto. Finally he saw the familiar gate, unchanged in the past ten years. Even the nail and sword marks was still there. He stopped. You're making a mistake! The little voice continued, but the wolf knocked anyway. He was dressed in his best kimono, clean shaven and for the most part… devoid of alcohol. It's been how many years since he's returned to Mibu? Too long…
"Saitou-san…" Tamesaburou blinked. "Kami-sama! I thought you were dead!"
He grinned, "Still here Tamebo… Still here."
"Onee-chan come quick! You'll never guess who's come to see us!"
She came and smiled at him. As he was led inside the courtyard, he faintly heard her say, "I knew you'd come. There's tea."
A small smile graced his lips, "Indeed…" He hated tea. He just didn't hate it enough. Some things do change.