“And in that moment, staring up at darkened clouds cracked by Kintsukuroi twilight, he knew that broken things could be rejoined; maybe… maybe everything wasn’t lost. Maybe hope existed here.” It’s your turn to decide!
Below the following triple line break is the compilation of prompted drabbles from my current Hakuouki fandom work. If you find yourself interested in submitting a prompt, you may find guidelines here. ❤ As I write more prompts, they will be included here and can easily be found on my both my Shoujo Writes Fics page, Fanfiction.net, and AO3! (^^)b
This first drabble prompt is from PinkRedRose2. Rose, I hope that I did this justice. It was honestly pretty difficult, as Sannan hasn’t been given enough time to shine in the anime, and I’ve yet to play Edo Blossoms (soon)! I hope that we can become closer to his characterization in the future and really connect with him emotionally!
The prompt? “The night Sanan’s arm was injured.” Hopefully I can knock future prompts out of the park and live up to your kind praise.
He pretends he doesn’t notice. It’s only fair that a man should weep for what’s been lost, but none should draw attention to a warrior’s moment of weakness.
At least, he thinks, that’s what I’m telling myself. Sannan convalesces at the inn, the doctor only recently departed, and Hijikata’s silent vigil is more a show of support than some prolific nonsense about broken things and Kintsukuro. Maybe it’s simply that he doesn’t know what to say. Maybe he can’t find the words to convince a cracking man that hope—regardless of what some bastard physician spins—is only dead when a person believes it so.
But maybe now he’s lying to himself.
Sannan’s face contorts in memory, and Hijikata represses the urge to place a hand on Sannan’s shoulder, because he knows, Goddamn it. He knows that Sannan isn’t tearing up in pain, even though it burns along the broken lines of limply hanging limbs. But again, that’s what he tells himself, because Sannan doesn’t admit to pain, and Hijikata doesn’t admit to knowing the truth.
Hijikata’s been quite the self-orator lately.
It was almost in slow motion that Hijikata watched as Sannan fell, each moment stretched out until he hit the ground with a thud of muted agony.
For the first memorable time, Sannan’s eyes are clouded. Not dimmed with anything like lust or fear, but with regret. And when Hijikata looks at him—trying not to lose his composure as he lies on the tatami mat, back propped against the wall-he can’t help but get a little misty. He coughs.
He pretends he doesn’t remember that Sannan used to sing—or at least hum—in the dojo hallways, and murmur quietly to himself as he overlooked the students’ training. He pretends he doesn’t realize that, though he’s to all the world unchanged, something shifted dramatically in Sannan when they left Edo. He can’t pin down when it happened, but Sannan stopped his quiet, practiced warbles long ago. And it makes him sadder still.
Finally, Hijikata places a hand on Sannan’s shoulder, a lone gesture of comfort as the lanterns burn down and the night watch takes position somewhere back in Kyoto’s streets.
It’s shaking, but he doesn’t let go.
Maybe words aren’t necessary, but it still feels lacking to Hijikata, who prides himself on being a warrior, yes, but a poet as well.
They sit this way throughout the night, dozing some but wholly occupied by the matter that they face. Sannan doesn’t speak, and Hijikata doesn’t move.
When morning breaks, it casts slotted shadows on the rough-hewn wooden floor. The hostess passes quietly, and Hijikata stirs.
Sannan looks out the window. The birds are chirping. His wounds are burning. He begins humming quietly to himself.
Hijikata, intently watching, is silent.
Ooh, ho ho, Guest. That was a hard one. You requested, “Hijikata and Souji talk about Kondou.” Phew. I tried something new in playing with the tenses throughout, but I stuck to adopting a third person subjective style from Hijikata’s POV. While I could have chosen any moment, I really love the Extra Chapter on Edo included on the Blu-ray of Hakuouki Hhekketsuroku. (For those who haven’t seen it, you should still be able to follow along without difficulty if you know the main series.)
In any case, it really is difficult to write on prompts, because the ramblings aren’t coming from a place and moment of overwhelming feeling so much as by request, but I am having SO much fun challenging myself with this, and hopefully I will only improve! 😀
So… he meant it when he told her they many never see Souji again.
Hijikata watches Souji wheezing into his arm, the younger having fallen to his knees. The older stands, watching him cough and shake—too kind to offer aid and too proud to see it rejected. Chizuru is one thing as she hovers, but this sickly child is also proud, and Hijikata treating him as an invalid will only peak his ire.
“I brought a gift,” he says instead, hanging the turtle by its string. “We can make some good stew with this, so just lie down and wait.”
At least he hasn’t lost his spunk, Hijikata thinks.
They’ve come to see their erstwhile “sword” before leaving Kyoto the final time, and it’s put some strain on Chizuru, who nearly insisted on accompanying him as he left to plead (ineffectually) for Kondou’s freedom. He’d hoped to have better news when he came knocking on Matsumoto-sensei’s door, but still, to hear Souji now, you’d never know he had a care in the world…
…aside from his labored breathing.
A moment before, the boy stood proudly in his western garb, swords at the ready, planning to go on ahead to Ezo with his Shinsengumi comrades. “I never would have thought Hijikata-san himself would come to get me. I’m honored.” He had grinned, forever puckish. Hijikata, admittedly shocked, put a stop to that right quick.
“Stop kidding around! Of course that’s not what’s going on! Why aren’t you sleeping?!”
“You just don’t get it, Hijikata-san,” Souji said as he adjusted his cuffs. He sounded like a petulant child. “Sleeping all alone is just so boring—”
And then a coughing fit drove him to the floor.
These young ones never learn.
So now the Vice Commander’s looking for the chopping block—quite literally.
He holds the knife steadily. In leu of better news, an omission is justified, he thinks as he prepares. Because deep inside his demon’s heart, Hijikata wishes nothing more than to see that little boy’s smile live forever—to preserve soft eyes in memory.
But maybe he’s just being selfish now. Is it wrong, he wonders as he flays the creature, if he wants to remember joy on Souji’s face?
The turtle had begun to squirm—as if knowing it’s life was coming to an abrupt end—when Hijikata mentioned cooking the evening meal. Recognizing how butchery effected the woman still (even if she’d never admit it), he offered to take the soft-shell and finish the job. He sent her on her way with orders to leave the meat at least to him and tend to Souji. Souji was more than happy to tease her for her attentions, and to “keep an eye on her.” So here, alone, he stands.
And as he cleans the turtle, he thinks of that little boy with a chip on his shoulder, the boy who’s been sick since long before tuberculosis fed into him its festering fingers. Souji has been precarious since Mitsu-san abandoned him, and if Kondou wasn’t the only one to shed tears over what the child had become, well, it wouldn’t suit a warrior to mention.
He wonders what Souji and the girl talk about while they’re alone, and if Souji’s grilled his page about their central pillar.
Fleetingly, he wonders why he still looks at Souji as a child when he’s seen Yukimura as a woman for some time. He shakes his head.
He moves on to chopping vegetables, because what the hell. He may as well give the lady a night off. Before he realizes, the meal is finished. Chizuru—because damn if he can glean what his mind deems to call her from moment to moment—helps him arrange the hot pot, and they begin. It’s delicious.
Before long, they’re all laughing. Souji’s eyes are bright with imp and fever. Yukimura is smiling. Hijikata wishes he could stop time just long enough to paint the image. He’d carry it with him as he fought for Kondou’s release, and he’d hold to it on winter nights when he can still hear screaming and the chill seeps straight into his bones.
And then the question comes: “Is Kondou-san doing well?”
Chizuru starts, but Hijikata’s eyes are steady, and he answers with nothing short of conviction. “Yeah. No matter how bad the war may get, that man alone is bright and sunny as always.”
“I see,” says Souji, and the killer’s eyes are soft. “Kondou-san was always that way, wasn’t he?”
(Hijikata pretends it doesn’t bother him that Souji speaks as though his days with the man were numbered from the start.)
“I want to hurry up and get better,” he continues in tones most unlike him. They’re likely brought on by youth and fever. “So I can be by his side.”
And again, he doesn’t hesitate. “He’s waiting for you too,” Hijikata says. “For you to feel better.”
(He sees Chizuru watching him from the corner of his eye, but he doesn’t waver. Kindly or selfish, this is the path he has chosen.)
And as the night proceeds, the resizing Souji gives him puts further life into those eyes. If it gets Chizuru laughing as well… I mean, I guess that’s okay then, the man concedes. He can be a good sport.
But when the goodbyes are all said and he turns to leave a final time… perhaps he moves too hastily.
It’s abrupt. But he can’t bear if it their farewell is tainted by the depth of his lies—what is honestly, even well-intended, a betrayal to a son.
Because that’s how Souji sees Kondou, as a father. And even knowing this, Hijikata can’t bring himself to reveal the truth to a sickly boy who has long since become his own annoying little brother.
“Give Kondou-san my regards.”
So he leaves before the truth escapes.
If Souji’s time is limited—and to think it pains him in places already ravaged by Kondou’s surrender—let him never know that Hijikata may have failed. Let him never know his older brother lost the thing they treasured most in unison: a father and a friend.
The original prompt came from PinkRedRose2, who requested: “Harada and Shinpachi saying goodbye to Heisuke.” This is a prompt that I adore and will probably, at some point in the future, write on more literally and less…oddly. You know, like a normal person.
But this whole series of drabbles has been a place to experiment with perspective and tone, so I’m not at all surprised that, in my current headspace, this morphed into a Heisuke stream of consciousness. So, no, no one is talking. But the talk has been. And I have this feeling that Heisuke thinks a great deal on his friends, his circumstances, and the worth of his convictions quite a bit, especially after the water of life, and especially when Shinpachi and Sano are no longer around.
I make no apologies if it’s hard to follow and weird. It feels right.
Inspired by the song “Toki no Katami.” I *highly* recommend listening to it while reading. It’s on YouTube.
Requests are open! (This piece and others (with the spacing as intended, can be found on my blog- Shoujo Thoughts: Otaku Ramblings.)
Sometimes he blames himself.
He was the first to leave after all, if one didn’t count Saito-san. And everyone knew that Saito-san had left under orders from Hijikata-fukucho, so…
Truthfully, he was the first to leave.
To abandon his post, and those he called family…
For some ideal that he hadn’t managed to grasp before running home,
reaching out for the water of life when it looked his had found its end.
And candidly, he was young. So god damned young.
perforce of youthful optimism and endurance,
sought to understand what drove his comrades,
to find in himself that same warrior spirit buried deep and contrarily
within Hijikata’s eyes and Sanouske’s smile.
He imagined that being a man meant finding his own way in the world, something with which he—
the bastard son of a noble house—
thought himself well-acquainted.
But he was wrong.
And he promised himself he’d never waver again,
never abandon the place—
in which he’d found his family.
If only Sano and Shinpachi weren’t in such a god damned hurry to divest themselves of the shit show their Shinsengumi had become.
If only, in quest to return to the warmth of his brothers in arms and her maiden smile, he hadn’t taken a drug intended for criminals, or lab rats.
He fought for the place where they could be together
and then for imperialism
and then for life.
What is left when a man (does he yet deserve that title?) begins to lose the very thing
that makes his fight mean something?
What happens when a man finally ascertains the worth of his convictions and finds it lacking?
What happens when all that’s left is a feeling of cold,
a few demons
and a farmer’s broken dreams?
The prompt for this drabble comes from Cheerios; they write, “Plz do a Saitou x Chizuru pairing when she demanded to stay with him while he fought the last battle for Aizu.” Cheerios, while I usually consider mainline cannon compliancy to be Hijikata-paring and anime-centric, your prompt offers so much promise that I’m breaking my own rule and writing about it here. X-P Thus, this piece indeed takes place in the Saito route (AU to mainline cannon).
Thank you for reading and for the lovely prompt! I love getting requests! I hope you like it. Sorry that I’m leaving you in angst city, but that’s Hakuouki, right?
Inspiration suddenly found in Ruth 1:16. “But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.”
Also, I recommend listening to this while you read: https://youtu.be/LNyo83Vjn1U?t=146
He’s lowering her onto his futon when he realizes that she’s crying. Chizuru is whimpering in her sleep, her expression a picture of longing despair, and Hajime can’t help but think that only he is to blame.
These are the feelings she hides from him–and, he suspects, hides from herself–in waking hours. The two haven’t much time left, it seems. He knows it, as does she. And as his fingers brush away her unconscious tears, he can’t help but wonder if he’s done the right thing at all.
So many times and places, he considers, so many unfathomable “other” in which they could be together… so why has fate chosen here, now?
Why would it lead him to this woman that he’ll only ever have to leave behind?
Her breath hitches, and Chizuru stirs. Hajime finds himself still staring as she opens her eyes and stares into his, lost within dreams he can so easily imagine. For a long moment, she doesn’t blink, and then, like a spell broken, she gasps. The tears begin afresh.
“I-I’m sorry, Saito-san,” she chokes, rubbing her eyes fiercely. Even now she knows that he will worry, and even now she struggles to reassure.
She’s laughing and crying, trying to compose herself and failing miserably as her cheeks redden beneath her hands and her breathing comes in gasps.
“Saito-san, I’m sorry!” She shakes her head, hair flung about the futon, and he longs to run his fingers through the tangled mane. “Don’t mind me. I must have fallen asleep and I–!”
Suddenly, it’s all too much for Haijme to bear. With reflexes born of Iai, he’s crushing her to his chest, and his mouth is on her mouth and his hands are in her hair and Chizuru doesn’t protest, doesn’t pull away.
She clings to him like a child, and he cannot help but pause to speak the words upon his heart.
To beg forgiveness.
“No, Chizuru, I am sorry.” He inhales against her lips, eyes still closed. “I am sorry that I’m only ever leaving you behind.”
The hands fisted in his Western-style jacket clench painfully, but he continues on, pressing his forehead against her own. “I’m sorry for Ito in Kyoto. I’m sorry for Lord Katamori and the Aizu.” He tucks her head beneath his chin. “I’m sorry for these choices I must make, and I’m sorry that even when I take you along, I can’t promise anything but separation in the end.”
For a long while, they are quiet–two lovers on the brink of desolation, of desecration.
When Chizuru speaks again, her breath is warm even though the ascott atop his collar.
“Where we go, we will go together. In all things, I will be beside you–where you go and where you stay. What that means for our future, I cannot say, but…”
She looks up at him, and her eyes are bright.
“H-Hajime-san, I have chosen you. Day after day and moment after moment, I have always chosen you.” She smiles, and it’s so beautifully Chizuru, so messy, so wet. “I have known your duties and your convictions, Saito-san, and I have always chosen you.”
As he crushes her to his chest again, three words reassure him that, in the end–right or wrong as it may be–leaving her…was never his choice to make.
His heart clenches, and Chizuru whispers…
“Come what may.”