CHAPTER 5: UNSEASONABLE ACTS OF REASON (OR, “A LONGING INVOCATION OF THE CASTAWAY”) — A HARACHI FANFICTION

Summary:

“I wouldn’t call it nothing.”

“Look, nothing I can just… say!” he snaps, but then he sighs again. “I’m sorry, Hijikata-san. It’s been a long few days.”

“For Yukimura’s sake, we’re all going to pretend we have no idea what’s going on. We’re going to let you handle this at home where it belongs.” His voice is stern.

“Yes, Hijikata-san.”

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)




“So, wait, you’re tellin’ me that Chizuru’s actually knocked up?” Shinpachi holds Sanosuke’s eyes, his own brows raised. “Wow, Sano, you sure work fast!”

Sanosuke scowls. “Not so loud! I said, she might be pregnant. Might be. As in, don’t go running your mouth until we know something for sure.” He turns away, glancing over the veranda and past the compound gates.

“I’m just sayin’,” Shinpachi continues, rubbing the back of his head and stepping up to stand beside him, “you seem awfully nervous. Isn’t this a good thing? I mean, if you’re one for all that settling down sort of stuff, anyway. Quick work of starting a family.”

Sanosuke doesn’t respond, but Shinpachi’s not a fool, so he lets the silence linger. Eventually, his friend looks at him again.

“I just can’t believe it’s happening to me.”

“With how popular you are among the geisha,” Shinpachi says, waving a hand, “I can’t believe it hasn’t happened ten times over–iiiipe!”

Sanosuke shakes out his fist and sighs as Shinpachi cradles his skull. “You know,” he bemoans, “you’re gonna give me brain damage on of these days.”

“It’s a little too late for that,” Sanosuke mutters. “And you know what I mean! With the way things are, and we’re leaving for Kyoto t—”

He’s interrupted by a loud crash from the direction of the kitchen. Both men cringe hearing Hijikata’s roar (“Souji!!!!”) echo down the corridor, followed by Souji’s hysterical laughter.

“Damn,” says a voice coming from their left. He, too, stares toward the commotion. “What’s going on over there? Gen-san’s gonna be here any minute.”

“Worried about a lecture, Heisuke?” Shinpachi asks him with a nudge of the smaller man’s shoulder. Heisuke rocks back, swayed by his friend’s girth. He stumbles into Harada, who pushes him fully upright. 

“Hey, watch it, Shinpachi!” Heisuke fumes, “You know how Gen-san can be when he hears those two arguing.” He shudders. “Scary.”

Shinpachi just ruffles Heisuke’s hair with a smile. “Don’t get your ponytail in a bunch, kid. Common, there’s food waiting.” He slings an arm around Heisuke’s neck and pulls him down the hall from whence the yelling originated, Sanosuke sighing and trailing along behind as they bicker back and forth.


The dining room is a stilted affair. Genzaburo lasted all of about five minutes before soundly chastising both Toshizo and Souji, the latter of whom wore his own disgruntlement at being taken to task like a child plain across his face. Souji hums to himself as he eats his rice, amused by the whole situation, as Hajime–sitting to his left–is eyeing the tofu on his tray without expression. The whole group is oddly quiet for once when Kondou clears his throat.

“I’m reluctant to talk of these matters over dinner,” he begins, “but they are pressing if we are to move forward. We leave for Kyoto in two days’ time.”

“Time to kick some Choshu ass,” Souji smirks. Hijikata grunts. 

“The men will assemble pre-dawn; have your units ready with their supplies and ensure they’ve packed proper provisions. Finish your business.” He makes eye contact with each captain before continuing. “This is a big opportunity to prove our valor to the Shogunate. We will show them what the Shinsengumi can do.”

“What of medical provisions?” Hajime’s no-nonsense tone requests prompt clarification.

“We’ve spoken with Dr. Masumoto; he knows we may require his aid upon return. Each unit is to carry the necessary emergency supplies with their rations, as is regulation,” Hijikata commands.

“Yukimura-kun has agreed to accompany us and provide stop-gap medical support,” Kondou adds.

Sanosuke drops his chopsticks on their way to his mouth and Kondou has the grace to look abashed. As Sano coughs, Kondou answers the question in everyone’s eyes.

“She stopped by early this morning to collect some mending, and the subject arose. I saw no harm in allowing it so long as she remains well behind the front. I had assumed she’d discussed it with you.”

Sanosuke wheezes around a bite of tofu. “God-damn–.”

“Sanosuke!”

“Harada-kun!” 

“Sano-san!”

Sanosuke’s coughing as Genzaburo, having come up behind him, rubs his back fitfully. He continues to weeze until the elder’s firm slap dislodges the obstruction.

“Like hell!” Harada insists. He inhales deeply, leaning forward, and when his eyes meet the commander’s, their burning. “Chizuru will not be coming to Kyoto with us. You don’t make plans like that about a man’s wife without his permission, Kondou-san!” He punches the ground.

“I thought she’d discussed it with you, Harada-kun!” Kondou seems truly dismayed, and his hands hover in Harada’s direction. The rest of the captains are looking on, expressions varying in levels of dismay themselves. “It seemed as though it had been well talked-though…”

“God damn it,” he mutters. He rubs his eyes. “No, Kondou-san. It wasn’t. And Chizuru will not be joining us.” He sighs. “I can’t believe it…”

“Sano-san…” Heisuke’s eyes have rarely been so wide, but Shinpachi’s are full of understanding as he clasps Sanosuke on the shoulder. 

Hijikata motions to Hajime, and the latter rises. “I will make tea,” he says in the sudden stillness that has enveloped the table. As he takes his leave, Hijikata continues. “Something you want to share with us, Harada? Unexpected, to be sure, but Yukimura has done this much for us in the past, and your objections were far less vocal after the Ikedaya.” His eyes narrow.

Sanosuke shakes his head. “No,” he says, still rubbing his temples. “Nothing.”

“I wouldn’t call it nothing.”

“Look, nothing I can just… say!” he snaps, but then he sighs again. “I’m sorry, Hijikata-san. It’s been a long few days.”

“For Yukimura’s sake, we’re all going to pretend we have no idea what’s going on. We’re going to let you handle this at home where it belongs.” His voice is stern.

“Yes, Hijikata-san.”


“What is going on?” Heisuke mutters to Shinpachi beside him. Shinpachi shakes his head.




Notes:

I’m sorry I keep having drama at meals I’m sorry I keep having drama at meals I’m sorry I keep having drama at meals…

Is it better to not write until you’re in the head-space to write poetically, or is it better to actually produce some content? I chose the latter!! Anyway, your kind kudos and reviews are reaching me, and I thank you for each and every one. I have the beginning of the story actually plotted out, which isn’t something I normally do, but I’m excited about it. I think it will help me be productive. Timelines are hard!

I hope you enjoy this chapter. 🙂

Next time: What does it look like when Harada and Chizuru clash?? Find out!!

Feature a Character that You will Always Love and Remember (30 Day Character Challenge, Day 30)

I don’t know what I’ve done to my blog. Do I like this layout? Can I abide this? I was playing around (I wanted it to snow on my site!!) and accidentally lost my original theme. I was pretty distraught, but hey, things are what they are, yeah? Yeah.

I think I’d be rather fond of it, if not for the fact that the blogroll page lays out entire posts instead of excerpts. But moving on…

Day 30 of the 30 Day Character Challenge has finally arrived after like 2 years of this nonsense. I’m not sorry to see it go, to be honest. I’m just glad to finally finish it. I thought undertaking the challenge would be motivating, and perhaps it was at one time, but then–having forgotten about it–it just became something hanging over my blog. Now that it’s done, perhaps I can move onto other things without regret.

But the topic at hand has asked me to name a character that I’ll always love and remember. I’m fighting an internal battle against saying Harada Sanos–STOP, BRAIN, WE TALKED ABOUT THIS–or Hijikata Toshi–Okay, Brain, to be fair we didn’t talk about this one but STOP IT.

It’s a challenge not to pick them (or Okita Souji, honestly) because, while there are other shows that I truly enjoy and appreciate for a variety of reasons (MDZS and its live drama adaptation, The Untamed–is my current obsession), I know that I will ALWAYS, ALWAYS come back to certain Hakuouki characters even as the haze of more fleeting obsessions (Yuri, Victor, is that you??) begins to fade.

I honestly don’t WANT to pick anyone else. These characters I will love and remember because they grew so much over the course of the series. They sacrificed so much, and without getting into spoilers, their lives spoke to me on such a deep, emotionally evocative level. I laughed, I cried–who am I kidding? I sobbed–and even now, over 3 years later, I remember exactly where I was and how I felt when Souji… well, when *minor spoilers* movie-Souji met his fate.

So yes, okay, Brain, you win. For this entry, I select:

Harada Sanosuke,

Okita Souji,

and Hijikata Toshizo.

What character or characters will you remember forever? Why have they stuck with you? Let me know in the comments below! ❤

Love, Peace, Geese, and Christmas cookies!

Shoujo❀

CHAPTER 4: UNSEASONABLE ACTS OF REASON (OR, “A LONGING INVOCATION OF THE CASTAWAY”) — A HARACHI FANFICTION

(The entire work can be found here and the complete list of my fictions here.)




 

In the beginning, they guard her ‘round the clock, and Sanosuke takes the early morning shifts. He doesn’t often see more than her shadow against the blinds. He hears her, sometimes. A small sound–the subtle splash of water in a basin or footfalls against the woodgrain of her chambers–is more reliable than the sun by which to predict time. Without fail, Saito shows up only moments after Chizuru’s first stirrings.

 

The first time she eats with the captains, Sanosuke is quick to offer up his cushion to the girl. Partly born of chivalry, to be sure, but there’s something else in his action that he doesn’t wish to ascertain. There’s no room for that dream here, he thinks, and yet… when he finally sees her smile over the hijinks of his friends, he swears to any gods listening that he’ll do ‘most anything to see it again.

 

He starts with flowers, small things found in abundance that carry meaning based on their shape and hue, not that Shinpachi appreciates this fact when he catches Harada strolling beside the gardens after patrol. Sanosuke is no novice to the fairer sex. If Shinpachi jokingly assumes that he’s looking to win a geisha’s favor for the night, well then…

 

No one needs to know just yet.

 

The flowers left on her windowsill have done the trick. When she smiles at him now, it’s with some trepidation, but at least she notices him.

 

She examines him as a child examines a stranger, peering at him from behind porch posts like a girl hiding behind the legs of her father. There’s a tentativeness there, he thinks, in the way she looks at him. Her eyes meet his regretfully, and her cheeks redden as she turns away in renew of some other task, and it bothers him.

 

That’s not to say he’s frustrated with her, or annoyed by her chargine, but rather… he’s curious. So curious, indeed, that he finds himself thinking of her far more than he should. He wonders what it means that she is young and inexperienced, and late at night–but only then–he reflects on the longing in her gaze, that subtle, hidden heat which reminds him that she’s really not a little girl at all.

 

He begins to seek her out at twilight, now that her house arrest is complete and the commanders bid her roam the compound with some impunity. She’s always by the cherry tree, gazing at the sunlight cascading warmly through its branches. At first he simply watches her, but now he will approach, and Chizuru’s cheeks take on a lovely cherry hue of their own when he calls out to her with a smile.

 

Gods, her eyes. They shine.

 

It’s the night of the incident that cements his resolve, because when she comes running right toward him and nearly collapses in his arms, Sanosuke’s heart stops. “The…they’re at… the Ikedaya!” she gasps out, and he wills his hands not to clench her delicate arms as his heart shudders for a different reason…

 

That night, when all is said and done, they kiss for the first time in their compound by an old, weathered tapestry. Neither know what the future will bring, but her lips, Sanosuke thinks, taste like hope.

Fanfiction Friday 7/5/19 — “Would you like to marry me?”

fanfic3FANDOM(S) FEATURED THIS WEEK:

“Hakuouki”

An Unexpected Life

“Hakuouki” — COMPLETED AS OF 6/23/19; 1 CHAPTER

  • “‘Hijikata won’t die, even if you kill him.’ Yukimura Chizuru really believed that. So she is unprepared to face reality when the worst does happen. But she never expected that Saito Hajime would be the one to pick up the pieces of her broken life.”
  • If memory serves, I first read this fic a very long time ago on Fanfiction.net before it migrated to my now preferred site, Ao3. It’s a moving story that doesn’t force anything, and it lends itself as a fairly realistic depiction of what would have happened if Hijikata passed on at the end of his route. Chizuru loves him desperately, and, having consummated that love, now she has to try and make her way alone in a world that looks at a woman in her now rather delicate situation with unforgiving eyes. Luckily, the ever dutiful Saito and she stumble across each other and begin traveling together. Over the course of the next few years, things will change dramatically for the two of them; both old and new friends show up along with way. 


Leave some love when you read, and tell your authors Shoujo sent you. ❤

avatar2

Chapter 3: Unseasonable Acts of Reason (or, “a longing invocation of the castaway”) — a HaraChi Fanfiction

Unseasonable Acts of Reason (or, “a longing invocation of the castaway”)

(The entire work can be found here and the complete list of my fictions here.)




 

“I-is it true?” he asks without preamble, and—response too long in coming—he inquires again. Her hands still in the midst of mending, and his heart is beating faster than it ever has in battle. “Chizuru.”

 

She startles, turning to face him as he dominates the hall doorway. Her profile casts long shadows across the wooden floor from the light streaming through the open wall to her left. Chizuru does so love to slide open the screens and watch the nature of their garden as she works. The gentle caress of summer light makes her look like a goddess, Sanosuke normally thinks, but none of that matters now when the startled seconds spent setting aside her sewing are the longest in his memory.

 

When she speaks, his heart constricts. Her eyes are wide, and blood pools on the hand she’s moved near her heart; she’s pricked herself quite badly on a needle.

 

“Sanosuke-san!” He tears his gaze from her hand. Shock evident from his abrupt and unannounced entrance only moments before, she looks at him in confusion. She tilts her head to the right, blinking quickly. “What is going on?”

 

She moves to rise, but Sanosuke’s eyes alarm her into acedia, and she recognizes the urgency which has not quite died there. She runs the taunt lines of his frame outlined by the open door, scans the stillness of held breath, and her thoughts travel to his previous question. “I-is what true?”

 

And like a spell is broken, Sanosuke shakes his head. He exhales, flushing ever so slightly and looking abashed. “D-damn it, Chizuru. I’m sorry.” He pinches the bridge of his nose between a thumb and forefinger, and Chizuru cannot help for a moment but think of Hijikata after a long patrol. He kneels on the floor, taking her hand in his own. “You’re hurt.” She suddenly thinks–rather untowardly, she feels–that Sanosuke’s manly profile looks all the more so outlined in shadow. But this too is unimportant.

 

“It’s just a prick, Sanosuke-san,” she mutters, peering anxiously up at his downturned face. He continues to examine her hand, mind failing to register an injury before she tugs it away again. “I’m fine, Sanosuke-san, but what has happened? Tell me what’s wrong. Did you run all the way here?”

 

Sanosuke shakes his head again and begins to rise before returning to his knees rather abruptly. His large hands ring each other and quiet again. He releases another shaky breath and laughs at himself, running a hand through his long, red hair. “Y-yeah. Damn it, I’m a mess.

 

“What’s happened, Sanosuke-san?”

 

“Chizuru, are you…” He swallows once, and Chizuru thinks he seems agitated, though she cannot begin to fathom why. “Are you… feeling alright?”

 

It’s Chizuru’s turn to shake her head as she answers him. This conversation has become all too common as of late, and she’s found herself quite tired of it, as it were. “I’m fine, Sanosuke-san.” But then she hesitates, reluctant to go on. It’s true she’d been running a fever today, but nothing overly worrisome, and she’d hate to fuel this particular concern he’s felt for her lately. Not wishing to burden him, she quiets, but Sanosuke notices her hesitation and inquires further.

 

“Chizuru?”

 

“I…” She glances away from him. “I have been running a bit of a fever today, Sanosuke-san.” She hurries to go on as he stills again, peering up at him. “B-but I’m fine, Sanosuke-san. It’s just the heat.” She waves her hands before her. “Too much sun yesterday while doing the laundry. I will be fine if I rest today, so please don’t worry!”

 

“Chizuru…”

 

“I really am fine,” she insists again, putting an end to the conversation. “Have you eaten breakfast yet? I could make some natto and pickled radish–”

 

Harada grabs her by the arm as she moves to rise. “Chizuru,” he says rather seriously. “I need you to be honest with me.” His eyes are hard now, cutting–she feels–like glass.

 

“I-I am being honest with you? H-Harada-san? You’re scaring me.”

 

Suddenly, she’s being crushed to a broad, nearly bare chest, and her face is ten shades of red even as she startles. “Sanosuke-san!”

 

“God dammit,” he mumbles, angry with himself. He nuzzles his face into her hair. “Yes, Chizuru, Sanosuke. Not ‘Harada-san.’ Never that.”

 

“S-Sanosuke-san–” she begins again, fisting her hands into his overshirt.

 

“I’m sorry. I don’t… I just can’t believe this might… I…”

 

“You might?”

 

But Sanosuke is silent.

 

She can feel his mouth move though, muffled against her hair, working to form words which, while necessary, seem so very hard for him. They sit this way for a while as their breathing slows, and Chizuru, sensitive to his disquiet, rubs her hand in slow circles against his back.

 

“Am… am I…”

 

His chest rumbles beneath her. Her hand stops.

 

“Am I going to be a father, Chizuru-chan?”

 

The innocence with which he asks that question speaks volumes of this man she’s grown to love, and so she looks at him, disturbing his hold on her, and when she speaks, her voice is quiet, but strong.

 

“I… am not sure yet, Sanosuke-san. It’s too soon for me to know. But it is… a possibility.”

 

His eyes are so wide, and she thinks it would be endearing if she hadn’t started tearing up, herself. “I… I wasn’t sure. I planned on waiting a little longer to tell you, until I could know. Because I don’t know, Sanosuke-san. But if so… if so, it… one of the nights you… we… after patrol…” She’s stuttering, nearly incomprehensible, and since Sanosuke is looking at her as though she’s grown a second head, she thinks her explanation must be just as disjointed as it sounds.

 

And then he starts to laugh, quietly, softly, and Chizuru is alarmed to see he’s also crying somehow. Only just, but the tears are there and as one escapes, he smiles so wide it hurts. “And–” he wipes his eyes, “And… it’s mine, right? I’m… it’s mine?”

 

“Of course, it’s yours, Sanosuke-san.”

 

His eyes dart toward her stomach, which she realizes she’s begun to cradle without her notice. Releasing herself, she continues. “Who else’s would it be?”

 

He reaches out and gently grasps her shoulders, still somewhat in a daze. “I… am going to be a father?”

 

And with those words–by some means–everything becomes the slightest bit more real. “Maybe. Perhaps.” She smiles.

 

And then, slowly, methodically, as if asking for permission, he reaches down and rests his palm on her lower belly, and his voice is almost reverent has he wonders, “A baby. Our baby.”

 

In the months since they married–and, if she’s being honest with herself, often in the weeks before–Chizuru has been kissed many times. Each kiss brought with it a new and genuine rush of emotion, from heady to chaste and every tenderness between. This one, however, feels altogether different.

 

Summer holds the warmth of its days. As cicadas click beyond the sun-drenched veranda, heat blossoms. Sanosuke’s hand refuses to falter even as the other tangles passionately in her hair. While there is much to consider in his embrace, here and now, he worships her. Though it’s far from certain, she prays that she does indeed carry his child under her heart.

Chapter 2: UNSEASONABLE ACTS OF REASON (OR, “A LONGING INVOCATION OF THE CASTAWAY”) –A HARACHI HAKUOUKI FICTION

Unseasonable Acts of Reason (or, “a longing invocation of the castaway”)




 

It started with the grilled fish, followed by udon. When her favorite unagi became unpalatable, Sanouske grew concerned. And throughout, Chiziru would not but sip her tea as she stubbornly insisted, “I’m just not very hungry today, Sanosuke-san,” putting an end to conversation.

When natto–which she could never stomach–stopped turning hers, he truly though she’d gone around the bend. Suddenly, fermented soybeans took a spotlight in every meal, and she didn’t even seem to find her behavior strange. In fact, the amicable Chizuru grew positively cross whenever she heard the subject mentioned, and Sanosuke learned rather quickly what Hijikata meant when he referred to the female as an “Edo woman.”


 

“I knew Saito was the man for swords,” Shinpachi claims, stretching muscular arms behind his head. They’d returned at dawn from a night patrol, each spent after a long day of training followed by a longer night of vigilantism. Sanosuke good-naturedly kicks his best friend’s shin; Shinpachi mutters an amiable protest (“Heeey~!”), yawns, and spreads his body bonelessly across the floor, much to Sanosuke’s amusement. “Who woulda thought the man could tell ya anything about women.”

“More than you can,” Sanosuke says with a smirk, stretching himself before reclining on the floor beside the fusuma.

“Oh, very nice, Sano,” Shinpachi bemoans, “Very nice.” He sits up abruptly. “You’d think I’d get more women with you off the market now, but no. It’s always”–his pitch shifts–“‘Oh, where is Master Harada? Oh, where did Harada-san go to??’ I swear, it’s enough to drive a man to drink.”

“I don’t think you’ve ever needed drive for that before, Shin,” Sanosuke laughs.

“You’re killin me, Sano.”

The screen door slides open, and Souji peaks in. “You know,” he says, “You guys could talk a little louder. I don’t think the entire building heard you yet.” His tone is lilting, and his eyes are bright.

“Cut us some slack, Souji,” Shinpachi says. “We’ve just been up all night.”

Souji shrugs. “You say that like Harada-san would have gotten any sleep last night anyway.”

Sanosuke lunges toward the door, but Souji is hopping backwards, and his laugh is gleeful, and can anyone even really blame him? Because God knows Shinpachi walked right into that one.

“You’ll be late for breakfast if you don’t hurry up,” he sings, laughing again before impishly strolling away. Sanosuke only stands there. He sighs and shakes his head, some of the indignation falling as he watches Souji’s back turn a corner in the hall.

Shinpachi also stands to watch Souji’s figure retreating. “…Would this be a bad time to say he’s not wrong, you know? OU-OUCH! SANO!” He cups his skull.

Sanosuke takes a deep breath and shakes out his fingers. “Knucklehead.”


 

Their meal consists of white rice, fried tofu, miso soup, and daikon. The men dig in eagerly, but none so much as Heisuke and Shinpachi, who begin to pick at each others’ meals within minutes. The rest maintain some semblance of quiet composure at this time in the morning, but as the meal winds down and they’ve had a chance to rouse themselves, conversation truly begins. “It’s times like this I miss Chizuru’s cooking,” Heisuke starts. Seeming to catch himself, he turns toward Genzaburo, waving his hands in the air. “Not that I have anything against your cooking, Inoue-san! It’s just nice to have a woman’s special touch, you know?”

“I take no offence, Heisuke-kun,” Genzaburo says. “I too agree that having Yukimura-kun around the compound was a pleasant thing.”

Kondou nods repeatedly, eyes closed, arms and legs crossed atop his cushion. “I agree that Yukimura-kun is a wonderful girl, but she’s making a home with Harada-kun. We mussent begrudge them that.” He smiles and looks at Sanosuke warmly.

“You sound like her dad, Kondou-san,” Heisuke inserts, chopsticks roaming toward Shinpachi’s dish. This does not go unnoticed by the latter, who smacks the younger man’s hand away with his own utensils.

“Yeah, Kondou-san,” Souji inserts, not a touch bitter. “I’m sure Harada-san’s taking good care of Chizuru-chan.” His eyes glint mischievously as they pass in that direction.

Hajime, sitting quietly all this time, looks up then, assessing Harada’s countenance. He says nothing, narrowing his eyes slightly as he returns to the tofu he’s saved for last.

When Sanosuke says nothing, Kondou jumps in again. “I remember those days,” he waxes, smiling softly. He gazes off into the distance in a way suggesting he sees something the others cannot. “Otsune spent so much time getting everything ready at our home when we were first married. It took her the better part of two years to organize everything to her liking. I had just taken charge of the dojo, you understand.” He sighs with a wistful expression. “And not long after that, Tama-chan came along.”

Heisuke sputters around a mouthful of rice, spewing grains across the floor as he coughs. “K-kids!?” he gasps, choking just a bit. “You don’t think it’s a little soon to be talking about something like t-that, Kondou-san??”

Souji dispassionately picks a stray grain of rice from his jacket sleeve, flicking it away. “They are married,” he inserts. “I don’t see why it makes much of a difference.” His sharp eyes meet Heisuke’s own.

Heisuke blushes to his roots and stops talking. Souji smirks.

“I’ll tell you one thing,” Kondou continues. “I wouldn’t trade those says for anything. And Otsune was such a wonderful mother from the start.” He grins. “Right from the very beginning, she did everything she could to make our home so welcoming. Nesting they call it, you know.” He glances conspiratorial at Hijikata beside him as though imparting some great wisdom. “And that’s not all they have to deal with.” He nods emphatically to the rest. “Why, I remember how harrowing those times were as well; Otsune never wanted to eat anything, said it smelled awful, until she got hooked on pickled radish and then I swear we had it for every meal…”

And as this unfolds, both Hijikata and Hajime can’t help but notice that Sanosuke has gone incredibly still, chopsticks ceasing their repetitive motion toward his rice bowl. Hajime, ever tactful, narrows his eyes again and says nothing. Hijikata, content until now to listen, has no such qualms. “Something you want to tell us, Harada?” he suggests.

Kondou quiets. Sanosuke pales. For a moment, no one speaks.

“I need to get home,” Sanosuke says. He stands abruptly without meeting anyone’s eyes and moves purposefully toward the door. As he passes behind Heisuke, Souji could swear the younger’s eyes become as wide as saucers.

When the door shuts, Kondou has the grace to look abashed. “Was it something I said?”

 

From the Heart of a Dying Man (or, “In Sickness and in Health”) — Souji’s Journal

sick souji

From the Heart of a Dying Man (or, “In Sickness and in Health”) — Souji’s Journal, Preface




 

There are times in a man’s life when… No, that sounds stupid.

That sounds like something Hijikata-san would write in some harrowing story of his life;

God knows the last thing I’d ever wanna do is sound like that bastard. Let’s try again.

 

Onc

 

If you thi

 

I didn’t expe

 

Damn i

 

God damn it. I didn’t think this would be so difficult. How do you even start something like this?

Yeah, yeah, she insisted. Who would have thought I’d get bored enough to actually do it?

Still, I can’t see how it’s gonna help me. I mean…

 

Okay, fine. You want honesty?  I really, really enjoy the feel of pulling my sword from a man’s gut,

and now I’ll never do it again. There now, that’s better, yeah? Satisfied?

 

I’ll do you one up. The pleasure and power of a blade, slicing through sinew,

opening muscle, organs, skin, blood pooling toward the hilt as it catches under streetlamps…

 

Knowing that I have the power to take, do destroy, to protect

 

Don’t ask me to write about things. I can’t do this! Why am I still laying here? I should be there,

fighting alongside Kondou-san! I should be