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Love through Dimensions
The Journal of a Fujoushi
Hakuouki fanfiction - Hijikata/Saitou: "Poem for you", part 4 
9th-Feb-2013 08:43 pm
the PUSH
Title: Poem for you
Author: manaika
Series: Hakuouki, between Reimeiroku and Shinsengumi Kitan
Pairing: HijiSai, with a bakatrio threesome and hints of Kondo/Okita and past Tani/Sano on the sideline.
Rating: PG-15 and up. Varies between chapters, but only one is really for Mature Audience, I’ll warn you in time. (IMO 17 and 16 years old would cope, but there are actually rules for rating, that I have to follow.)
Genre: humor and romance, written for the purpose to amuse
Warnings: sexual scenes, language, male/male relationship, graphic depictions of sexual intercourse, my attempts of imitating Hijikata’s haiku-style in english, bakatrio threesomeness, meddling Okita, fluff?
Summary: Sano, Shinpa and Heisuke decide it’s time for their vice commander to take some action in regards of a certain taciturn left-handed swordsman. Written for tokio_fujita, because she is as devoted to HijiSai as I am to ShinpaSano and because Reimeiroku is full of Saitou moe.
Disclaimer: I do not own Hakuoki and neither am I making money writing this. But it is still my work.

Set in the months between the end of Reimeroku and start of Shinsengumi Kitan.


Poem for you, the plan
Poem for you, the first try
Poem for you, the second try
Poem for you, the third try



POEM FOR YOU

PART 4 – the third try



„Shinpachi, whatever it is you’re trying to achieve, stop it.“ were the exact words Saitou used right away, when he paid that afternoon Shinpachi a visit.

The sturdy male had just been enjoying a cup of sake and was, unusually, all by himself, so Saitou used the oportunity to politely, but sterny reprimand his friend. Shinpachi just looked at him, eyes impossibly blue and smiled a smile that was both gentle and mischievous at the same time.

„I’m sorry, but I can’t do that.“

Saitou eyed him with a look in those dark eyes that was a mixture of curiosity and indignation but Shinpachi didn’t waver and took another sip of his sake.

„Unless you finally go to Hijikata-san and make it clear how you feel for him.“ Something needed to happen here and if Saitou wasn’t going to do anything, he was.

Saitou’s eyes narrowed a fraction.

„May I be blunt?“
„Go ahead.“
„Excuse me, but I don’t see how it’s any of your concern what I tell and what I don’t tell Vice-commander.“

Shinpachi downed the rest of his drink and locked his gaze straight with Saitou’s, as azure pierced through nightblue, in it’s entire harshness and rough honesty.

„It concerns me as your friend.“

For a small moment something similar to surprise flashed through Saitou’s eyes, before the look turned ureadable again, but Shinpachi’s gaze stayed steady, never averting his glance, as he spoke.

„I understand that you do not wish anyone interferring with your private matters and that’s only natural. If you don’t wish to solve them, that’s also your prerogative. I respect that, but you also need to understand, that once your private problems start interferring with your actions, skills or duties, they stop being private. For a while it was kind of adorable, but it’s been going on for too long and it stoped being funny some time ago. To honor bluntness with bluntness, I worry about you, Saitou, and if you aren’t going to do anything against your ongoing depression, I will.“

Shinpachi’s voice was devoid of mockery and jokes, his voice was the epitome of seriousness and complete honesty. It startled Saitou, since he knew for a fact that it was something very rare to get that man so serious, but more than that, the words of his friend crashed over him like a wave of freezing water. They suggested, that he’d been not only neglecting his duties, but also wavering and hesitating and concequently letting his sword skills deteriorate.

And the worst thing was, that Shinpachi was right.

Saitou hadn’t realized it, but instead of steadily moving forward, he’d been wavering, hesitating in one place for too long, untill it reflected in his sword skills he had trained so hard for, and what was imessurably worse, caused Saitou to neglect his duties and slowly working his way to becoming a nuissance to the one, he wanted to be more of use to, than to anyone else.

And everyone had noticed, but him.

And knowing that, they wanted to help.

Everyone else would have already laughed him out and cast him away, and yet these people, the men he considered his friends had been trying to be there for him and the only words Saitou had for them, were to mind their own business.

No wonder Shinpachi was so serious all of a sudden. His friend had to be really angry with Saitou.

But before he could say anything, the sound of hurried footsteps reached them and a moment later, Sano turned the corner. As soon as he spotted them sitting there, he narrowed his eyes and raised his index finger in a warning.

„You haven’t seen me.“

And before either of them could respond to that, he disappeared into the room, leaving the both of them staring at each other rather dumbfoundedly, wondering what that was all about.

The answer to that turned the same corner a few moments later when suddenly a dark-haired male, with slightly glazed steel eyes and cheeks flushed red, appeared form behind it. Saitou watched the face of his friend pull into a sneer, while he himself felt slight apprehension spreading within him.

It was Tani-san.

As soon as the Soujutsu Master spotted them, he waved enthusiastically, providing them with a view of the bottle of quite expensive sake in his hand and called, loud enough to be heard across the compound.

„Heeey, guys! Wuzzup! Have you seen Sanosukeee?“ There was a slurr in his voice and there was no doubt about the situation anymore. Tani-san was drunk. Again. And he was chasing Sano. Again.

One look at Shinpachi and Saitou knew what his answer was going to be.

„No.“

They said in unison and the combined force of their resolute answers, made Tani-san take a startled step back.

„Yo, chill man! Was just a question...Well, if you see him, tell him to see meee! I have something that he’ll liiiike...“ He said in a voice that was a strange mixture of sing-song and a purr, grinning from ear to ear. Then he waved with the bottle again and finally swaggered away.

Only after it had been quiet for several moments, did Sano reappear.

„Is he gone?“

Shinpachi nodded at him and the red-head breathed a sigh of relief, before sitting down next to his lover.

„I swear this will kill me one day. He keeps chasing me like a fucking dog, thinking that I’ll definitely give into his advances if he just pushes hard enough! He just doesn’t acknowledge that I’m not the boy he once taught, anymore.“

Before Sano could continue the rare rant, Shinpachi, whose face had meanwhile turned from annoyed to amused, interrupted him. „That’s what you get for bedding idiots.“
Shinpachi said and gave Sano a spare cup, pouring some of the bargain sake into it. Sano wrinkled his nose, but accepted the drink nonetheless. „I guess you’ve got a point there.“ Sano gave his lover a pointed look while Shinpachi just snickered.

„And only to add to it,“ Sano continued, „Hijikata-san is going for my head too, after that...“ he cast a glance at Saitou, before he finished. „Unlucky incident. Obviously he thinks I had something to do with it.“

So Sano had also been through some trouble while trying to help Saitou and the taciturn male couldn’t help but wonder who else he had inconvenienced with his hesitation and indecisiveness.

And yet, he had to admitt that his friends were probably right and that he had to finally get a hold of the situation and move on, whatever the direction. Maybe it was the direction that this could head into that had him hesitant. Maybe he was scared of what he subconsciously felt would unevitably come to pass.

Saitou came to the decision that he owed his friends an apology for the trouble his stupidity had put them through.

So, before the issue got swallowed up and avoided again, Saitou gathered his resolve and spoke.

„I apologize for the inconvenience.“

And he bowed.

There was silence for a long time and when finally Saitou raised his head to look at his friends, he was greeted by the sight of two dumbfounded and startled faces.

„What are you apologizing for, Saitou?“ Sano asked. „It’s not your fault that Tani-sensei is a jerk and that our vice-commander has his days.“

„Maybe I’m not responsible for the former, but I do blame myself for the latter. It has been my ignorance of the matter that caused this situation to arise.“ Sano already drew a breath to protest, but Saitou had already turned to Shinpachi. „Please forgive my insulting words earlier. I understand if you are angry with me.“

Shinpachi waved his hands frantically.

„No, not at all. I should be the one apologizing. I was annoyed and let it get the better of me. It was your absolute right to tell me to mind my own business.“ Shinpachi sounded apologetic and it brought a feeling of comfort and reassurance to Saitou, but he knew he couldn’t let it drop like this. Saitou knew, deep inside his heart, that with everything Shinpachi had said, his friend had had a point.
„Perhaps. But that does not change the fact, that you were completely right about everything.“ It was finally time to move on. „That’s why I’m kindly asking your advice now. I’m in love with Hijikata-san and I need your help to show him my feelings.“

There, it was out in the open, his secret was exposed, for everyone to see.

Saitou inhaled deeply, feeling the sense of relief spreading through him and he allowed himself a small smile. He felt kinda better now, that he had admitted it to someone.

Even if neither Shinpachi nor Sano looked like they should give him an answer soon, staring at him with blank expressions. The first indication of a response was, as they turned their heads to exchange those infamous looks with each other and Saitou could read surprise in their eyes, along with something that closely resembled worry. All in all, it was a very serious look, not one to appear often on either of their faces.

Finally they turned to him and Sano smiled one of his gentle smiles, as he spoke.

„You’re pretty serious about Hijikata-san, huh?“

The unexpected question startled Saitou, but he still answered it.

„Yes.“

Shinpachi smiled too, and closed his eyes in thought. „It won’t be easy though.“
„I’m aware of that.“

The two of them turned serious again.

„We’ll be glad to help you Saitou, but you’ll have to let us.“
„And in the end, all the help and advice won’t matter, if you don’t take the necessary steps.“

„I understand." Saitou nodded. „What do I have to do?“

x*x


Hijikata-san was in his room, working on another stack of papers, when Saitou approached him, twisting the knot of anger that had settled in the vice-commander’s stomach since shortly after lunch into a knot of embarassed nervousity. After that regrettable incident with the bath tub, that Hijikata just knew that Harada had his scheming fingers in and the demon vice was personally going to make him pay for it, the vice-commander had done the only dignified thing he could have done in such a situation: He barricaded himself behind paperwork and waited for his emotions to settle. He wasn’t sure of he could face Saitou now, without losing face and a great deal of the quiet swordsman’s respect. But Saitou was there, right in front of his office, his steady presence sure and pressing, clearly noticeable once it arrived behind the sliding door and knelt down. Next came a silent cough, to politely alert him, about the new arrival, before he finaly spoke, voice subtle and considerate, not to disturb him in his work. In spite of his embarassment, Hijikata found himself smiling.

„Vice-commander, forgive my intrusion.“

The door slid open and Hijikata laid down his brush, to turn his full attention to the beautiful male. After that regrettable incident, Saitou deserved nothing more of him. Hijikata understood, that Saitou felt the need to talk to him about it and if nothing else, respect and regret were the one things that Hijikata-san owed to him.

„Saitou.“ He welcomed the swordsman with a small, hopefully not-as-nervous-as-it-felt smile. „What can I do for you?“ he asked, even though he already knew what issue Saitou wanted to discuss. After that incident it was inevitable. In spite of their friendship, if Hijikata’s presence made Saitou feel uncomfortable, it was better if they didn’t associate for a while. It hurt to know this, but Hijikata understood the importance of temporary distance and even if it was horrible to be apart from that male, the knowledge that he was making feel Saitou awkward was even worse. Besides, he was sure, that because of their closeness, Saitou wouldn’t be less affected than Hijikata. They were friends, after all. More than that, they were comrades. And no matter what, it would hurt them both to get distant.

And indeed, Saitou pressed his lips together in the same manner he did whenever he was about to talk about an issue that made the taciturn male uncomfortable. It was a telltale sign to Hijikata, one he had noticed during their Shieikan days, when things were less complicated and Saitou closer and more available to him.

„Vice-commander, I...“

But those days were gone and would be no more and Hijikata Toushizou had to face the simple fact, that he and Saitou could never be together in the way, the vice-commander recently realized, he desired.

„I wanted to ask you...“

Saitou’s voice was hesitant and Hijikata valued the male for his consideration all the more. But there was no going around it, no avoiding it. Even between comrades, privacy was important and if Saitou felt, that Hijikata-san had intruded and violated this privacy, it was only justifiable, if he asked Hijikata-san to not approach him for a while. And Saitou had always been a very private person. Hijikata-san had respected that, but obviously, to a certain red-headed, so-called advisor’s fault, he had violated Saitou in a way that was unforgiveable. And now he had to pay. So Hijikata inhaled deeply and prepared himself to be cast away.

„If you could join me to a private dinner in my quarters tonight?“

For a full span of several moments there was absolute silence in the room.

Hijikata was very ware of how undignified he had to look, judging by the way his mouth hung open and how his eyes had to be very wide, but despite knowing this, he wasn’t able to utter a single word, just stare at Saitou.

The male had his eyes cast downward and if Hijikata wasn’t seeing things, there was red tint covering the pale cheeks, looking conspiciously like a blush.

Needless to say, Hijikata Toushizou was stunned.

However, the one thing that managed to tear him out of his daze, was when those clear, dark eyes, raised to look at him, gaze as eloquent as Hijikata had never seen it and full with uncertainity.

„Vice-commander?“

He didn’t know what he felt at that moment, hell, Hijikata doubted he even knew who he was then and there, but as that voice spoke to him, so silent that Hijikata suspected that it was to conceal the tremble, the one thing Hijikata Toushizou knew at that single moment, when he saw Saitou more open that the taciturn, quiet male had ever been, was the one thing there was to do.

So he closed his jaw and relaxed his eyelids and allowed himself a small, hopefully encouraging smile, as he replied.

„Of course, Saitou. I will gladly join you.“

He didn’t know what reason Saitou could have to invite him to such a dinner, he couldn’t make sense of the happenings of the past days, as everything became even more confusing than it had been, but the way that Saitou’s body relaxed and those otherwise unmovable lips, pulled into a small almost-smile, gave him enough comfort and reassurance to be sure, that he was doing the right thing. Whatever it was.

Saitou bowed to him.

„Thank you, vice-commander. I will see you tonight then.“

„Yes.“ Was the silent reply Hijikata gave, as the sudden feeling of relief spread through his chest.

Whatever the cause of this invitation was, it could mean only one thing, Hijikata thought, as the door slid closed behind Saitou.

Saitou wasn’t uncomfortable around him.

Hijikata smiled into the empty room.

x*x


Just outside Hijikata-san’s quarters, Saitou breathed the night air in deeply and allowed himself a small smile.

Vice-commander accepted his invitation.

Saitou didn’t like to draw hurried conclusions, but he couldn’t help but think, that it could mean, that Hijikata-san wasn’t as disapproving of nanshoku as it first had seemed.

A silent whistle broke the silence and Saitou turned to the direction where it came from and couldn’t supress a sigh, as he saw who waited there. There, just behind the nearby tree, Sano and Shinpachi were standing, waving him over. Saitou wouldn’t have followed, but he owed it to their advice, that he could have a few silent moments with vice-commander, so it seemed proper to show gratitude, go to them and see what they wanted.

As soon as he was within earshot, they didn’t waste time and started the questioning almost immediately.

„How did it go?“ Sano’s eyes were sparking like amber flames, as he asked that and Shinpachi’s eyes were wide with interest, as he was nodding at the question, wanting to know what happened, as eagerly as Sano.

Saitou sighed once again, but chose to answer nonetheless.

„He accepted.“ He tried to sound as calm and unphased as ever, but as soon as those words left him, a small spark ignited his heart and he couldn’t stop a small smile spreading on his face and he was sure that his eyes were sparkling the same way, as those of his two friends.

Sano grinned and turned to Shinpachi, landing a friendly jab on the broad chest.

„See? I told you, this was the best way!“

„Yeah, yeah!“ Shinpachi couldn’t get himself to even look annoyed, as genuine happiness about the success was spliting his face in a huge grinn, similar to Sano’s. „Isn’t that great Saitou? Now you only have to convey your feelings to Hijikata-san and it will all be as it should be, at last.“

As Saitou heard those words, a wave of uneasiness washed through him.

„But,“ Sano raised his index finger, „You have to be subtle about it. Clear enough for him to catch the drift, but subtle enough to be proper.“

The uneasiness settled inside of his stomach and suddenly he was very aware of his inexpierience.

„Subtly convey my emotions...“ he mused out loud, without noticing it and caught both, Sano’s and Shinpachi’s attention.

Subtlety was not new to him. He had always been praised for that very quality and it was his skill in it, that sent him on many undercover missions, that neither Hijikata-san, nor Kondo-san, nor Sannan-san trusted anyone else with.

But conveying his emotions was a whole other level of communication, that he knew he wasn’t any master of. He had tried it, not once and it didn’t get him anywhere near the desired effect. More like the opposite of it.

He didn’t catch either the looks or the smiles Sano and Shinpachi exchanged, trying to think of a way how to subtly convey his emotions, when suddenly Shinpachi spoke.

„Yeah. Get our thickheaded vice-commander to understand where, how and how much you want him. Meaning, that you have to sedu-“ before he could finish the sentence, Sano’s hand landed on his mouth. Ignoring the muffled protests, Sano finished Shinpachi’s speach simply.
„What Shinpachi wants to say, you have to flirt with Hijikata-san.“

Saitou, used to the antics of his friends, ignored their actions and focused on the words instead, contemplating them.

Flirt...

Well, it was something more substancial than any vague guess he could have made about how to ’subtly convey emotions’, but it was still uncharted territory.

Flirt...

Saitou looked at his friends in silent question, hoping he looked less unexpierienced than he felt and Shinpachi, free again from Sano’s hold, nodded.

„Yeah. Like...lower your voice to a purr when you say ambigous things.“
„And always sit with your knees facing him. Even if your body is turned away.“
„And never interrupt the eye contact. Eye contact is very important.“
„And speaking of eye contact, lower your eyelids when you look at him. It gives a telltale bedroom look. And let your hair fall into your face, that enhances it.“

„Oh, and batting your eyelashes is very effective too. And sighing and small half-moans...Hey, what’s with that look?“ Shinpachi interrupted his speach, when he noticed the look Sano gave him. Sano raised his eyebrow pointedly and Shinpachi squared his shoulders. „What?! I mean, it worked on me!“

Sano took a deep breath. „Batting eyelashes is something that woman do.“

Shinpachi raised his own eyebrow. „I wasn’t aware it was an exclusively female thing to do when you-“

Sano silenced him with a murderous look. „I did, because it was the only way to make you finally understand!“ he said from behind clenched teeth.

„Says the one who punched me after I ki-“

„I was trying to make up for it back then, you asshole!“

Saitou decided, that whatever that was about, it was probably safer for him to remain unknowing, so he said nothing, as his friends settled to shooting angry looks at each other in an attempt to resolve whatever argument was weighing them down.
Saitou doubted they needed his audience, so he cleared his throat to make himself noticeable, before, for the lack of better word, scraming.

The two hassles finally averted their gaze from each other to look at Saitou.

„Thank you for your assistance.“ Saitou said, before either of them could speak. „Your advice will surely be very helpfull, but allow me now to distance myself-“

„Saitou?“

Sano interrupted him definitely, before Saitou could finish, and he found himself replying to it.

„Yes?“

The answer came from Shinpachi.

„Good luck.“

Two reassuring smiles encouraged Saitou and with a deep breath he nodded at his two friends, before admitting in all honesty.

„Thank you. I might need it.“


ox*xo



The evening came around quickly and it wasn’t long before Saitou had everything ready and was patiently awaiting Hijikata-san’s visit.

Sano and Shinpachi had dropped by earlier to give him some last tips, but they hadn’t stayed for long. Before leaving, Sano had pressed a jar of slimy liquid into his hands with a wink and a „You might need it later.“

When Saitou realizied what it was, it had almost caused his brain to stop. He contemplated throwing the lubricant away, but it seemed of the expensive kind and newly bought and unused, which suggested that it had been intended as a gift for him already when Sano purchased it, so he decided to keep it and hid it in the farthest corner of his closet.

Besides, even if it was really hard for Saitou to admit it, Sano might have been right about him needing it later.

That thought alone caused a rush of blood shoot into Saitou’s face and heat it up, so he shook his head to clear it from such disturbing images.

He had thrown them out of his room after that, which admittedly hadn’t been very polite, but judging by their chuckles, Saitou guessed they didn’t take it too tragically. Shinpachi had then turned to him, and before Saitou could have slid the door shut, said to him.

„One last thing, Saitou. Any flirting is meaningless, if there isn’t any heart in it.“

The words made Saitou halt and look at his friend unreadably.

Sano then, added with a smile. „What Shinpachi wants to say, is that you should let your feelings show. Let them flow into your actions and your words. Don’t hide them. If you want Hijikata-san to notice them, you can’t do that anymore.“

Without any other word they left and since then, Saitou had been sitting in his room, waiting and thinking about those words, that were so simple and yet so wise.

Of course, it made sense, that if one wanted to be noticed, he should not hesitate to make himself noticeable. Subtly so, but enough for the desired effect to set in. And once Hijikata-san knew, the vice-commander could decide about his actions, but not feel the urgent press of things out in the open, hanging between them, but the subtle hints thrilling his senses. And if he decided he would not act upon Saitou’s emotions, nothing would get lost between them, because nothing had ever been spoken out loud and became absolute. No hard feelings. And finally Saitou would know how the object of his feelings stood to the entire thing and, in the case that they weren’t reciprotated, move on. At least, that’s what his friends had said. And Saitou decided to trust his friends with this. After all, Shinpachi and Sano were far more expierienced in the issues of the heart than he was and as far as Saitou could tell, their relationship was fulfilled and happy.

To be honest, Saitou envied them a little.

But soon, if everything went well, he would have such a relationship too.

This thought should have filled him with anticipation and joy, but instead it ignited a spark of doubt within his gut.

Was it even possible for him, him of all people, the deviant and heretic, to have something so wonderful like a person who loved him? Wasn’t it more objective and rational to think that such a honorable man like the vice-commander wouldn’t want anything of that kind from him?

The thought made Saitou clench his fists tightly.

Suddenly feeling strangely out of place and like an alien in his own quarters, the urge to just stand up and leave overcame Saitou. But as soon as it formed, Saitou shook it off and told himself a stern no. He couldn’t go back now, not after the troubles he had put his friends through, but he would not engage in such thoughts again. He would patiently wait for the outcome and accept whatever Hijikata-san’s choice would be.

As if on cue, familiar footsteps sounded and a moment later, Hijikata-san appeared in the doorway.

„Saitou.“ Hijikata-san said, a light smile gracing the handsom face and Saitou couldn’t but return it with a small, barely noticeable smile of his own.

„Vice-commander.“ Their eyes met and to his great surprise, Saitou felt all of his doubts disperse and all that was left in him was Hijikata-san’s presence, so gentle and yet so strong and determined. „Please, come in.“

His own voice sounded alien to him and Hijikata-san’s reply was like from a very far away world, as he said „Sorry to disturb you,“ before stepping in.

„Please, make yourself comfortable.“

The pleasentries they exchanged sounded farther and farther away, and yet at the same time familiar and warm, like an old rite, that had been performed many times, or a popular dance, predictable and yet enticing. It wasn’t unpleasent, it was more like a cover, a layer of politeness filled with a meaning, suggesting somethting hidden beneath it, to be uncovered yet. There was an tingling feeling deep inside of Saitou’s chest, spreading through his body and it took him a few moments to realize that it was anticipation.

Saitou tried to bring back his objective arguments from before Hijikata-san entered the room, but he was surprised to find out he couldn’t. It should have disturbed him, but at that moment, with Hijikata-san sitting across of him, looking at him with those deep midnight purple eyes, it made all perfect sense. Instead of his own arguments, the words of his friends started to flood his mind, the encouragement and kind advice he had recieved along with their endless support and suddenly what he was doing didn’t feel wrong, but absolutely rigth instead.

With this newfound resolve burning within him, Saitou made a decision.

He would fight.

Fight to win Hijikata-san’s heart.

So, turning to the object of his desire, he proceeded with the plan.

„Do you wish to eat right away, or should I pour us some sake first, Vice-commander?“

Hijikata-san looked contemplating, before answering. „I would like to talk with you first, Saitou.“ The vice-commander’s face turned more serious for a fraction of a moment and Saitou instinctively grasped the bottle of sake and offered it to his superior. He could feel that something was weighing on Hijikata-san, just as his doubt had been weighing on him earlier.

„What is it, Vice-commander?“ Saitou asked, while pouring the liquid into their cups.

Hijikata-san accepted the drink and eyed him for a long moment with those fascinating purple eyes, a contact which made Saitou’s stomach tightened and heart spead up, before the vice took a sip. When Hijikata-san laid down the cup and looked at Saitou again, he was back to smiling and the anxious moment was gone. „Nothing, really. I just feel like talking with you. We haven’t done that for a while.“

The statement startled Saitou a little, but he took it as an oportunity to start a conversation. Besides, Hijikata-san was right: They hadn’t talked for what seemed a very long time and Saitou had always found their talks enjoyable and inciting.

So smiling that small smile again, he nodded. „Yes, indeed.“

„So, how have you been, Saitou?“ Hijikata-san asked out of the blue, startling Saitou once again. The taciturn male wasn’t expecting that question. But before he could inquire what it meant, Hijikata-san continued. „I understand, that I haven’t been a good comrade to you. I feel like I was neglecting our friendship and I would like to apologize.“

Now, Saitou was surprised. Why would Hijikata-san be comepelled to feel that way?

„Vice-commander, I don’t-“

But before he could finish the sentence, Hijikata-san interrupted him.

„No, Saitou, there’s no need to be polite. I know you feel it too.“

Saitou blinked confusedly.

„Why else would you invite me to a private dinner, other than spend some time with me?“

Surprise turned into shock as Saitou heard that. Did Hijikata-san think that the only reason that Saitou would ask him for a dinner, would be a simple selfish desire? But in the end, even if the reason was different, wasn’t it just plain selfish desire, that made him invite Hijikata-san, a voice deep inside of Saitou reasoned.

„Not that I mind, though.“ Hijikata-san smiled. „Spending t ime with you makes me relax and forget my worries and give me another wave of resolve.“

But it wasn’t just selfish desire, Saitou objected. Knowing where he stood, would be beneficial to everyone in the Shinsengumi. He had become a burden to everyone, having these emotions and not knowing what to do with them.

„You keep me going Saitou and I want to thank you for that. And I want to return some of that support you always give me.“

Those words struck something deep in Saitou’s heart and he felt his earlier resolve again. It was a wonderful feeling to know how important the vice-commander thought him to be, but it was important to let Hijikata-san know the entire truth. All of it.

Saitou thought for a short moment, then spoke. „Vice-commander. It’s true, that I invited you, because I wanted to spend some time alone with you, but that’s not all there is to it.“

Hijikata-san gave him a surprised look.

„It isn’t?“

Saitou bit his lip and clenched his fists.

„What else is there?“

He could say it now. He had the oportunity to tell Hijikata-san everything, but something held him back, tying his tongue into a knot and throttling him. All of his instincts screamed at him, that this way wouldn’t be right and the advice of his friends came to his mind

„Make him understand, but don’t bring things our into the open right away. Give him the information gradually. He’ll need time to proceed and accept it.“

But it had to be tonight. If Saitou didn’t do it tonight, he won’t be ever able to do it.

Saitou decided.

„Vice-commander, I promise, I will tell you tonight. Untill then, could I ask you not to push the subject? It is very important to me and I need time to find the right words.“

Saitou himself was surprised how very sincere and deep those words sounded even to him and he wondered if this was what people called ’speaking from the deepest bottom of the heart’. But, no matter how it was called, they seemed to reach Hijikata-san, as the vice-commander eyed him again with serious purple eyes, causing Saitou’s heart to flutter again, before finally nodding.

„Alright. I accept your wish. But you will tell me tonight.“

Hijikata-san’s voice was definite, words formed as an order, but somehow it still sounded more like a request to Saitou’s ear and the taciturn male nodded.

„Yes, Hijikata-san.“

The use of his name seemed to startle the vice-commander, but he accepted it with a small smile and changed the subject to more comfortable waters.

„Now, you mentioned some food?“

Saitou nodded. „Yes. I will bring it right away.“

x*x


They spent the rest of the evening in friendly conversation, as they fell into the familiar pace of their discussions, one they had enjoyed many times before. They talked about many things that evening and yet over nothing, their words hollow as smalltalk could be, but still, to Saitou’s great surprise, so many things had been said, just through a simple gesture, or a single look.

The evening was nearing to an end, as they sat facing each other and Saitou was pouring Hijikata-san some sake, both having finsihed eating a long time ago, now simply enjoying themselves, currently chuckling at something mundane that either of them had brought up, when Hijikata-san spoke up.

„Thank you Saitou, I had a very pleasent evening.“

Saitou’s gaze dropped to the ground at the statement, before it locked onto those deep purple hues and the taciturn male smiled a small smile.

„I’m glad you enjoyed yourself, Vice-commander.“

Silence settled between them once again and Saitou realized that with their usual topics all discussed and the dinner eaten, these were the last moments of the evening. His last oportunity. And he realized, Hijikata-san knew it too and waited patiently, just sitting there and looking at him with a gaze that was questioning and expectant at the same time.

It was now or never.

„Vice-commander, I...“

Just say it, he urged himself. Just open your mouth and say it.

But an invisible force, very thick and very strong, wrapped itself arorund his throat and strangled him, not allowing him to utter a single sound, while Hijikata-san just stood there, patiently waiting. And Saitou suddenly, in an unusual moment of loss of words, didn’t know what to say or what to do, his eloquence nowhere in reach.

He felt lost.

In a desperate attempt to regain his composure and save the situation, he reached for the advice he remembered his friends gave him and checked if he’d done accordingly. With a start he realized, that the entire evening he had neglected it. He had been so caught up by enjoynging Hijikata-san’s company and busy gazing at his superior the entire evening, that he had completely forgotten to ’drop the hints’.

And now he wanted to blurt it out, just like that?

His friends had warned him about that.

What now?

The original plan had been to deliver the hints for Hijikata-san to consider. But as that had failed, the vice-commander was now standing there, waiting for Saitou to say what he had to say, bring it out into the open and maybe destroy everything.

A voice deep down in Saitou asked quietly, if that maybe hadn’t been the only option all along, but Saitou shook it off. He didn’t want to loose the vice-commander, he couldn’t even bear the thought of never being comfortable in Hijikata-san’s company again.

There was only one thing left to do.

„Lower your voice to a purr when you talk with him.“

„Vice-commander, I need to tell you something.“

Saitou didn’t exactly know what reaction to expect from Hijikata-san to his ’purring’, but he was fairly sure, that a worried frown was not in the scale of reactions he should have gotten.

„Saitou, are you all right?! Your voice sounded very raspy just now. Are you coming down with something? Should I get you some medicine?“

For a single moment, Saitou was stunned speechless, before the surprise errupted from him in a rare moment of openness.

„What?! No!“ However as he saw the surprised look on Hijikata-san’s face at the unusual outburst, he caught himself instantly. „No, Vice-commande, I’m in perfect health.“ Hijikata-san still eyed him with a certain skepsis and Saitou was painfully aware that the plan was shattering before his eyes and there was little he could do. But he still couldn’t give up that easily, and so, mentally taking a deep breath, he tried to think of a different advice his friends had given him.

„Lower your eyelids when you look at him. It gives a telltale bedroom look.“

So he did just that and added in a low voice, hoping he didn’t sound like a third class prostitute. „Thank you for your worry.“

As that only deepened Hijikata-san’s frown, Saitou knew in the same instant it didn’t work.

„Are you sure? Your eyes are heavy, you seem tired. Maybe you should lie down.“

Saitou was rapidly running out of possibilities. But he almost desperately needed the vice-commander to know, needed to make his leader understand, somehow and so, he turned to the only option left.

„Batting eyelashes are something that woman do.“

If that was so, then it should make the situation pretty clear to the vice-commander.

„Vice-commander, I feel fine. Please, I need to tell you something very important to me.“ And he did it, moving his eyelids up and down in a fast motion several times.

„Saitou, you can’t even keep your eyes open.“

That single sentence made him feel like he had failed his entire life and the feeling of despair spread through him.

„It’s evident that you don’t feel alright. We can talk about everything once you get better, but now I should leave.“ And Hijikata-san turned around to do just that.

It was like a lightning that struck Saitou as a force so strong drove him, that hundreds of the strongest wills alive could never withstand it. He didn’t know what it was, or why, he just knew, that he needed Hijikata-san to stay and listen to him. He needed to let him know and he needed to do it tonight, because he had the feeling, that if he let the vice-commander go now, he would let him go forever. Without ever getting a chance. And that was thought Saitou couldn’t bear, even less than he could bear loosing his superior’s trust and friendship, as he realized in that single breath of a moment. He would forever mourn this oportunity and regret it. Because even if it cost them their friendship, Saitou would not regret having tried to gain so much more.

You had to take the chances life gave you.

And Saitou instinctively felt, this was the last one he’d get.

Before he realized it, in that flash of thoughts and emotions, the force within him moved his body and made him hold onto Hijikata-san, grasp his wrist tightly, to prevent the vice from leaving, one word passing his lips, almost like a plea.

„Hijikata-san!“

It made the vice-commander halt in his step, frozen for a single instant, before slowly turning around, eyes wide and shining with disbelief and something that Saitou couldn’t quite recognize, but bore a strong resemblance to hope.

„What did you just call me?“

Utter disbelief swung in the sentence, but there was no anger, rather surprise from something unexpected, not decided yet whether it was pleasent or not.

Saitou gulped.

„Vice-commander, I...“ he tried, but no sound further than that was able to leave him and he just stood there, in front of his secret crush, staring into two midnight purple eyes, so rich in hues and in depth like the facets of a dark diamond. The look they held was pure affection and worry and the deep voice sounded very far away as it spoke.

„Saitou, what’s it with you? You’re acting strange.“

„I...“

The skin where his hand touched Hijikata-san’s wrist felt like on fire and he could hear nothing besides the pounding of blood in his ears. There was the faint, intimate rustle of cloth against cloth and Saitou realized, that they were now standing chest to chest, even though he couldn’t remember moving.

„Saitou?“

Saitou searched for some clever lines, for the advice he had recieved, but it was all gone. Right now the only thing that existed to him was Hijikata-san’s presence, the feel of that skin in his hands and the heat of those midnight eyes gazing into his, in comparison pale and dull, icy night blue. Somewhere in the back of his mind, behind the pure emotions he was expieriencing in this moment, burried somewhere deep, was his rational mind, that told him he had to say something, do something, because they couldn’t stand there like that forever, even though at the moment there was nothing else that Saitou desired more than that.

But before his mind could come up with anything, before he knew what was there to say, his body did it for him. He felt himself move forward, pressing slowly, not urgent, but still absolute and unmistakeable, erasing the little distance that was between their bodies in one fluid movement.

And his lips were on Hijikata-san’s, pressing into the corner the stoic mouth in a sure, chaste kiss.

A sudden onslaught of various perceptions attacked his senses and all he could do was just to stand there, let it all wash over him and just expierience. The musky smell mixed with sakura flowers, air and something that was just Hijikata-san. The warmth of their breaths, mingling together, carressing their cheeks. The feel of skin against skin, joined in an intimate contact that not many had been granted and the taste of it against his lips.

It was overwhelming.

Then cautiously, carefully, as if afraid to break the contact, they parted and their eyes met once again, the warmth of the midnight at Summer and the icy cold sky of Winter, and for a single, exhilirating moment, everything was perfect.

Saitou felt a real smile tugging at the corners of his lips, honest, wide and face-splitting, one that he had last smiled an entire lifetime ago.

But before that smile could even form, the eyes of the darkest midnight widened in utter shock and bewilderment and the moment of the dream was gone, replaced by harsh reality slapping him into the face, like a bucket of cold water, as he was roughly shown away and Hijikata-san stared at him in horror.

„What the! Saitou! What was-Saitou! Oh...oh...oh NO! I can’t, I don’t, I...damnit Saitou!!!“

And the vice-commander spun around on his heels and hurried away, while Saitou felt sheer panic rise within his chest. With a jolt of realization, that here he was, losing everything that had a meaning in his life, he ran after his superior, calling him.

„Vice-commander!“

As that didn’t stop his leader, he tried one last time, hoping and praying to whatever god was listening, that his plea would be heard.

„Hijikata-san!“

But just then the raven-haired male disappeared behind the corner, and all Saitou could do was stand there and watch as his entire world fell apart.

That evening seeing the ravenhared vice stalking across the headquarters towards his office didn’t sit well with anyone.

It made three young people, cheerfully sipping sake and happily enjoying the evening, suddenly frown in worry.

It made the smirk of one mischievous boy fall and pull into a snarl.

And it made the heart of one lonely, taciturn swordsman shatter into a thousand pieces.


ox*xo-*-*-*–ox*xo


Notes

I was debating whether to set the private dinner in a teahouse (most pressumably Sumiya), or in Saitou’s quarters, but in the end I decided for Saitou’s quarters, purely because I felt better at writing it like that. Even though, Sumiya would have been more realistic and historicaly more accurate. Also, probably a lot more private. But alas, I didn’t set it in Sumiya, so please forgive me this small...mishap on my part.

Just for the record, during their dinner, Saitou had been actually subconsciously flirting with Hijikata, he just didn’t realize it. And that unknown force strangling him was, as you all might have guessed, an uncharacteristic wave of panic, which is only human. I know to many of you, Saitou will seem out of character there, but just think about it. He is also just a human. A young, nineteen years old human, who had been pushed his entire life away from people. And now he wants to be close to someone and tries to act openly with him. It’s a major change and I imagine, that any human with his bad expieriences after a lifetime loneliness, would in such a situation get a minor panic attack. Everyone gets one, from time to time. Even Saitou. It’s the fact that he overcomes it, that makes him strong.

About Saitou’s „Hijikata-san.“ I have noticed, that (at least in the anime) Saitou hasn’t called Hijikata by his name even once. He always calls him „Fukuchou“ (which roughly translates into vice-commander). This fic is set early in the Shinsengumi days, so I thought that it could be the first time in the Shinsengumi that Saitou calls Hijikata, Hijikata-san, something he hadn’t done since their Shieikan days.

As for Tani-san...I can't really justifie that. I just felt this compulsive need to insert him into the fanfic. Besides, he had joined the Shinsengumi around that time and combined with the fact that he's Sano's sensei...The Sano fangirl in me couldn't just let it be. I know, I know, I'm obsessive. Forgive me, please. There will be one more scene with him to resolve the issue.




Part 3 (the second try) / Part 5 (the twist)
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