The Ikedaya Incident

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While Chizuru went with Okita's group, Sumiko went with Heisuke's, hoping they might have a better chance of finding her father if they split up to cover more ground. Unfortunately, Sumiko didn't seem to be having much luck. Everyone she asked either had no idea what she was taking about or hurried away to avoid talking to her because they had seen she was with the Shinsengumi.

"You guys aren't very popular, are you?" she asked Heisuke, smiling wryly.

"No. Unfortunately some stuff happened, and we ended up getting a bad reputation because of a few rotten apples," he explained, sighing.

"Must be tough," she said sympathetically.

"Ah! My baby!" a woman suddenly cried. They immediately stopped and whipped their heads around to see what was wrong. Heisuke didn't see any baby, but Sumiko must have, because she took of like shot, diving in front of a speeding cart, and rolling out of harm's way just in time as she scooped  something small up off the ground and cradled it in her arms.

"Phew!" Sumiko said, sighing in relief. "That was dangerous..." 'I guess some things never change no matter what era you're in...' she thought, smiling wryly.

"Here you go, ma'am," Sumiko said with a charming smile,  handing the sweet little calico kitten in her arms over to the frantic  woman that came rushing over to reclaim her 'baby'.

"H-How cool..." Heisuke said as he and his men stared at her from across the lane with wide eyes. It was a little extreme to go that far for just a cat, but that didn't change the fact that it had been pretty damn impressive. "... So manly."

Sumiko waved goodbye as the woman thanked her and walked away.

"What...?" she asked, stopping short when she noticed how they were all staring at her.

"Can we call you 'Aniki'!?" several of the men asked excitedly.

"Huh?" Sumiko asked, feeling extremely confused.

"You guys!" Heisuke shouted indignantly on her behalf. "Get back to work! We're supposed to be patrolling."

"Uh, what just happened?" Sumiko asked hesitantly.

"I think you just turned half of division eight into your followers," he said, sighing as he shook his head.

"What? Why!?" she asked, flinching in shock.

"You're too manly for your own good," he told her, patting her sympathetically on the back.

"That's quite the accomplishment," San'nan said once they had all returned to headquarters and gathered together for a discussion. And, no, he wasn't talking about Sumiko's daring rescue of the cat. Apparently, Okita's group had gotten into a tussle with some rough characters on their side of town. Hijikata was in the process of interrogating the guy they had arrested as they spoke. "You confiscated the ammunition that had been transported to the shop, and captured Shuntaro Furutaka, Choshu spy and crime boss."

"We really got lucky, huh?" Okita asked.

"It's no laughing matter," San'nan said seriously. "You received word the shop owner was a Choshu spy, yet you continued to let him be, did you not?"

"You don't think bad about Shimada-kun and Yamazaki-kun?" Heisuke asked, pointing the two men sitting just behind himself and Shinpachi.

"Please, pay no mind to us," Yamazaki said.

"We'd kept up our watch over the store, but things were at a standstill," Shimada added. "It  was thanks to Okita-san and the others that we were able to catch Furutaka."

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