Unlikely Love: A Rurouni Kenshin Fanfic
by:Kitty Woolfson
First draft of Unlikely Love, 6/2000.

"Welcome aboard, Yukishiro-sama," he said cheerfully. Enishi grinned back, but not with the same intention. The crew shivered and ran up on deck to put out more sail.Osaka. Enishi hadn’t been to Osaka in years. He was surprised to find that he had missed it. It was probably just being cooped up on that stupid island for months on end that had made him so eager to see the places he had visited as a younger man. Throwing his bag nonchalantly over his shoulder, he strolled into town.

People gave him odd looks, eyeing his sword and strange dress with suspicion, but they left him alone. Enishi wandered the streets with nothing in mind. It was just good to be among people again; people that he weren’t kissing his boots wherever he went.He paused in front of a restaurant, several weeks on the road sharpening his appetite. As he ducked through the doorway, several conversations stopped. He seated himself in the back and waited for a waitress to come. When none came, he glanced up in irritation at the door to the kitchen. A young woman was struggling against her peers, trying to stay within the safety of the back room. Finally they managed to push her out into the main room and she hesitated before walking over to Enishi.

"May I take your order?" she asked timidly. Enishi looked her up and down as he told her. She was tall and lanky, and very skinny. Her long hair was braided down her back in a plait that came almost to her knees. Her big brown eyes darted from Enishi’s to the floor."A bowl of ramen and an order of rice, please," he said, more gently than he had intended to. She nodded and nearly ran back to the kitchen. Enishi stared at the tatami of the booth, thinking hard. He must be imagining things. When he looked at the girl his heart did a strange jump in his cheast. It must have been because he hadn’t spoken to a stranger in so long.

His eyes traveled up and peered discreetly into the kitchen. He saw the girl reach for a pot of rice, scalding her hand on the hot steam pouring out from under the lid. She twitched back and rubbed the injured hand on her apron, glaring at the pot. She glanced up at somebody further back in the kitchen, then wrapped her hand in her apron before picking up the pot. While she was scooping the rice into a bowl, she glanced up at Enishi, saw him looking at her and glanced back down.

Enishi almost blushed. Had he really been staring at her? He felt so weak, almost like a normal man. Did every man go through this when they saw this girl? He glanced up when she brought his meal, mumbled a thank you at her, then focused once again on something besides her. It felt so strange thanking somebody. He wasn’t used to doing it and the words felt funny in his mouth.

"After he leaves, then you can go," a woman’s voice said. Enishi’s sharp ear picked it up and honed in as the conversation continued."But I got off almost ten minutes ago!" Enishi listened closer. It was the pretty girl. "Why can’t I go home?"

"Because that man is your customer and you stay until he leaves," the woman replied, her voice growing harsher. "Now make yourself useful." There was a grunt, presumably from the girl, then she woman squawked indignantly."I’ll stay only if I get paid for the extra time I’m putting in," the girl stated in a completely differently voice. Enishi grinned into his ramen. Good for her! There was a pause, then the woman snapped something about insubordinate help. Enishi smiled again.

Otomi replaced her apron and began to wash dishes in the sink. She couldn’t afford to waste time by sitting around doing nothing. If she was going to stay late at work, she would have to get paid. Her braid fell into the water and she shook her head, spraying soapy water over her coworkers. Their cries of alarm were immensely funny, seeing as all of them were already covered from head to foot in sweat and grime. Some soapy water would do them some good.A small snort of laughter reached her ears. She glanced up and saw the strange man with the colored glasses trying to compose his face. He looked back up at her and began to laugh again. Feeling very silly she quickly finished the dishes and moved to the back of the restaurant and began to clean vegetables. She would rather be getting sticky juice all over her hands than be laughed at by that man. Why did she care so much about what that man thought about her? Hundreds of people had laughed at her before and she had never turned a hair. Why did this man make her so nervous and bubbly inside?

"Otomi! Come clear this table!" She jumped about a foot in the air and jerked her hands in surprise. Her breath hissed between her teeth as she watched the blood well up out of the cut she had made on her fingers. She wrapped them hastily in her apron and rushed to answer the call."Which table?""Yours, stupid," the girl replied, pointing at the strange man. Otomi grimaced. "Hurry up, stupid!" A shove was planted in the small of her back and she stumbled out into the main restaurant. The man glanced up at her. He must think she was completely clumsy!

"Hi, How was your meal?" She asked conversationally, picking up the empty dishes."Just fine, thank you," he replied, smiling up at her. She smiled back. Suddenly his smile disappeared to be replaced with an angry expression. "What happened to your hand, miss?" he asked sharply. Otomi tried to pull her hand away as he reached for it, but he moved too quickly. One moment his hand was resting on his knee, the next he was turning her hand over to inspect the long cut across the pads of her fingers.

To her surprise, he reached for his bag and pulled a strip of fabric out. She was even more surprise when he expertly bandaged her.

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