re-closes his kimono a second time, third, pale hands against a
dark-blue weave. Carabet girls press into his sides, giggle into his
sleeves while he says again, again, /I'd rather you not/.
The night wears on.
Hijikata's disgusted expression wears itself into the crinkles of
his unlit cigarette. His everyday-wear is tied up at the sleeves; a weary, grey-blue
fabric bunched together by thin twine. "You /live/ like this?" he asks
Gintoki, whose eyes (pausing in yet another rest on the criss-cross of
Hijikata's back) slide to the side in some semblance of embarrassment.
s'not usually this bad." Arm raising to scratch himself at the neck, sleeve limp at his waist.
"It's just that we had, y'know, like ten people under that kotatsu for
"Yeah right. You're so poor you don't even have ribbon."
Hijikata bends down, the hesitant tinkle of a neighbor's windchime
filtering through the milky paper of the window. Ever a traditional
family, the Anything-Everythings had yet again given up on affording
glass — and the pale muscles of Hijikata's arms, brushed faint-yellow by
the sunlight, flex slightly as he picks up yet another crumpled comic
The twine presses more firmly into the back of his shoulders.
saw you at the cabaret the other night," says Gintoki, leaning against
the doorway, and on second thought the wall. "So you don't go there for
the women, eh?"
"...You tellin' me you /would/?"
"Hah! Those things're more like monsters'n women." A pause. "Anyway, there's only one woman for me 'n that's Ketsuno Ana."
straightens up, hands moving to press against his own lower back.
"Funny, there's only one woman for me as well, and she's similarly
"What, Hot Sauce Sis? Prob'ly the only chick
you've ever known? Who died without as much as a single sweet word from
your sour liddle lips? As if that's love!"
"You're one to talk!
You say you've got the hots for some two-bit weather girl, but what
really turns your crank is — !" He stops himself just in time, flushing,
looking away. "I mean... well."
"Not that it's any of my business, but even her /name's/ 'ketsu no ana', Gintoki."
"I can't help what she's named; her whole family's naming sense is screwed up. Your point is?"
He watches Hijikata's hands clenched at his sides, the diverted gaze, the curve of his bare ankle.
"...I mean you're probably a little too violet, Gintoki."
He smiles. "You're projecting, Hijikata-kun."
no, I... look, s'not just that. The way you... treat women ain't
normal. Ain't normal for a guy who, y'know, has /those/ kinda thoughts."
He's looking increasingly uncomfortable, patting himself down, thoughts
towards the entryway for his jacket. "Hey, lemme smoke."
"Not in the house — and by the way, there's a reason why I hardly ever visit your goddamn headquarters."
"Fine, but come out with me to the balcony then."
Gintoki moves, just slightly. Hijikata's hands are trembling in front of him.
Gintoki and Hijikata are drinking in the corner of the garden when Ketsuno Ana finds them,