gigantomachy: (hakuouki - hijikata)
gigantomachy ([personal profile] gigantomachy) wrote on July 27th, 2011 at 12:34 pm
[hakuouki] beyond the gates
AN: This, I uh ... meant it to be lighter but I've been re-reading Written on the Body and in it there is leukemia and heartbreak.  Parallels, I am drawing them, appropriate or not, because I am a sucker for both tragedy and the relationship Kondo and Okita have in the animu.  Second person.  For the drabble meme fill: Okita/Kondou, convalesce.


Summary: This hole in my heart is in the shape of you, and no one else can fit it.  Two scenes from Osaka castle; Okita, Kondou, approaching the unknown end.


beyond the gates
(their bodies are weathered but their souls are transparent.)


The snow is a whisper as it settles across the winter garden, spangling stone and pine and the very edges of the polished wooden walkway where you sit in seiza, your brush heavy with ink, poised above a pristine sheet of rice paper.  It's been a week since your loyal men brought you -- delirious and half-conscious with pain as you were -- to Osaka, under the professional care of Matsumoto-sensei.

Away from the Shinsengumi, that promising home that you and Toshi have raised ... you think there should be more loneliness, somehow.  (Perhaps you would feel it, were you alone in this convalescence.  Does this say something about you as a commander, as a comrade?  You wish you knew.)

It's easier to sit, today, though the cold makes the tender flesh of your shoulder ache.  You are samurai, now; real samurai, lifted beyond the once-life of a peasant pretender, and you refuse to give in to the pain.  The men you admire most did more with less.  Was it not said that Date Masamune, the legendary dokuganryuu, plucked out his own eye rather than let it become a burden?

You dip your brush, each stroke a ritual, and admire the starkness of black ink on white paper.  One word, to separate yourself from your enemies, foreign and native alike. 

One word, to encompass the life you've built with your own hands.

Makoto.

A violent cough shatters the stillness of this winter morning; you cannot help the surge of guilt that attacks you like a feral thing, burying itself in your unwounded heart.  You've left the shoji open, just a little, greedy in your desire (need) to look upon him at will.  To make certain he is still breathing and fighting and living.

Osaka castle is a fortress.  You should feel safe here.  How do you protect anyone from a danger burrowed deep inside a body?  Bullets may leave scars, but there is blood on his sleeve each morning, and in sleep his breath is heavy and thick. 

Souji's body is the traitor that ignores your strict code, mocking you with every brutal gasp, every splash and streak of crimson at the edge of bloodless lips.  And yet he still insists on being the loyal wolf at your side, screaming defiance with every snap of his fragile jaws, testing his blades when he has the strength to rise at all.

Some days, you think your heart might burst from pride and love.

You wonder, not for the first time, if your selfishness will ever stop being the thing that hurts him most.

You wonder if either of you have long enough to find out.

Snow finds a place on your desk, eating away at the edges of your clean dark strokes.



(myself in your skin, myself lodged in your bones,
myself floating in the cavities that decorate every surgeon's wall.)


Souji's green eyes are luminous in the diffused afternoon light, sunken as they are in the waxy grey of his pallid, sweat-damp skin.  As if the sickness that is killing him would offer an exchange, making some part of him more beautiful for each bit it steals away.  His hair is dull cinnamon, lank and stringy against the snowy white of the futon, but his smile is blinding, a blade of pure light thrust straight through the core of you.

(You remember a boy, yukata rucked up around his thighs -- laughing and splashing as he groped in the muddy waters of the Arakawa for river crabs, his hands yet uncallused, so easily hurt then.)

"Kondou-sa--n."

You blink, dragged back to the present; Souji's brows are furrowing beneath the weight of your hand, his gaze both confused and questioning, vaguely reproachful because he knows what's on your mind.

"I've been calling you, you know.  You're getting old, kyokuchou."

We were never meant to grow old, Souji.  It's been a joke between the two of you since before you answered the lord of Aizu's call, but it's taken a sinister cast now in the wake of ... this.   This thing, eating him from the inside.

If not the Ranmaru to your Nobunaga, he has ever been the Shiryuu to your Gentoku, faithful and true; it burns to know that you are somehow worthless now, the first time he has truly needed help.   Funny, you think -- perhaps even fitting -- that the only one capable of defeating Souji is Souji himself.
 
"Sorry, sorry.  I was just thinking a little."  He makes a face that expresses just what he thinks of that, and your hand slips down the clammy slope of his forehead, skirting the bridge of his nose, your own sword-callused fingers tracing the thin bow of cracked, dry lips.  His tongue darts out, teasing you, impudent even now.  But it's hard to be persuaded these days, when each new morning makes it easier to trace the secret geographies of his body, ribs and spine and other things rising to the surface of his flesh like hidden islands shrugging free of the waves.  You see the narrow wings of his shoulder blades and think they might be almost as sharp as the swords he keeps at his bedside, sharp enough to slice you to the bone.

This body has always been familiar territory to you, one way or another; this inexorable, tectonic shift has knocked something inside of you loose, to flap and flutter in the hot tide of your blood.  "You don't drink enough," you say, and your voice is a stranger to your own ears, hollow and rasping, quietly grief-touched.

"I'm getting better," he says abruptly, and touches his bandages.  You see only pale white knuckles, familiar fingers gone skeletal.  Souji has never been a good liar, not to you.

The pad of your own finger, still damp with his saliva, presses against his lips.  A plea for quiet.  You are navigating unfamiliar waters, here at the edge of the world.  

"I won't lose you."  That's better; conviction fills your words, demanding from him the belief that you can't seem to muster for yourself.  Souji has always listened to you before, holding all your inelegant truths as his law -- what should be so different this time?  "I won't."

And he laughs, reaching up, his hand small and thin over your own, leeching warmth almost immediately.  Curling those pale spider fingers around your palm, pulling your hand away from his face.  Those doll-green eyes are focused on your own and yes, Souji is your most prized blade, finding new ways to cut with every bubbling breath he takes.  "I'll be ready." 

You know what rides unspoken on his wet, warm breath: I am ready

You want to fold around him like origami, seep in through his pores and push this poison from his lungs and his marrow, deny this foreign power its port and reclaim sovereignty.  Souji is yours, body and blade, and you will not let go easily.

But Awa-no-Kami, Katsu-dono himself, has requested your presence this evening; the missive rests in the sleeve of your kimono, folded neatly, and Souji is not your only command.  You will return to Edo soon, you're certain of it -- as much as you trust Toshi, this forced absence has made you restless and uneasy.

Whether Souji will accompany you is yet to be seen.

"I'll fetch someone to bring tea," you say, not waiting for the inevitable protest before you rise (you'd do it yourself, but the last time you offered to serve him he was so incensed he wouldn't talk to you for hours).  "It's time for your medicine, as it is."  And perhaps it's a testament to his current state that he doesn't say anything at all, simply watches you with those great glittering eyes as you tuck your swords into your sash.

"I'll be back soon," you say, offering a smile -- the one he returns is so bright and so sincere you almost believe it.  "With good news, even."

You open the shoji and slip outside quickly, your eyes straying toward the iron grey skies.  It will snow again tonight, will blanket the castle and the city around it in blinding white, no matter what you want.  Nature has never cared much for appeasing your own quiet desires, after all.

Matsumoto-sensei approaches from around the corner, carrying a tray; apparently, you will not have to find someone after all.  He smiles and pauses to greet you, though there's a tightness around his eyes that shows his disapproval that you're up and about -- you won't comment on it.  "How is he?"  He asks quietly, glancing down the hallway.

You reach up, running a hand across your face, grimacing at the stubble gaining ground there.   (Perhaps you'll take a trip to the baths after this business with Awa-no-Kami is done.  Perhaps Souji will be strong enough to join you there.  It's something to look forward to, you think.)

"Still breathing," you say, and the bitterness seeps through. 


- fin 7/27/11

--

Notes: Okay so.  I am a giant history nerd and these things totally tend to crop up in fic, especially when it gets love in canon.  Um.

LIKELY NO ONE WILL CARE BUT history things!  You've probably heard of the Sengoku dudes, so whatever but.  Kondou?  Loves him some RotK.  Shiryuu and Gentoku are the Japanese versions of Zhao Yun and Liu Bei's stylized names.  Think Kotetsu Sangokushi though I think they mixed up stylized and common names all to hell, since iirc Liu Bei became Ryuubi or somesuch BUT SOMEHOW NOT HALF AS GAY? x3  (KS actually might really appeal to all you Hakuouki slashers out there, lol.)  He'd totally make the comparison, and be all up in Team Shu, haha.

Fuuuuuu now I kind of want to see Shinsengumi/3 Kingdoms crossovers.  Kondou/Hijikata/Yamanami are totally bros on par with Liu Bei/Guan Yu/Zhang Fei in this incarnation.  NO WONDER KONDOU LOVES IT SO MUCH.

I haven't written fic in forever, sob.  I MISSED THIS, GUYS.
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