After the war with Shoyou ended, Gintoki changed. He reconstructed his past friendships which he had believed shattered beyond recovery. He became romantically involved with someone - an emotion he never trusted to have. He was still recovering, slowly, and from time to time he needed to escape and mourn his master, but all in all, he was moving on. With the town in ruins and the old government buried in the past, samurai values are stronger than ever in the heart of Kabuki. The Shimura siblings have a lot of work to do to restore their dojo which had been flattened to the ground. He, too, was moving forwards.
Where did that leave Kagura? Alone.
Apartment Nights Alone
At this point in the story, the yorozuya and Edo are in a state that can be described as the closest to peaceful that they're ever going to be. The war against Shoyou and the rest of the universe had ended several months ago, the Shinsengumi were back in full force, and Gintoki? Still a lazy, good for nothing perm. The town was rejuvenating itself. With most of the repairs, the past was being wiped out. Where old fashioned wood had stood tall, skyscrapers were piling taller. Houses made of futuristic, technology-packed space materials were popping up all over the rubble covered city, bringing life between the desolation. Shops and restaurants were growing like plants from the smashed concrete. Electricity lines sprouted roots and lit up Edo once more. It was going to take some time, but Edo was going to rebuild itself. It was going to start again.
Somewhere within the beating heart of a new samurai country was the Yorozuya. At this moment in time, Gintoki was absent from the scene. It was a regular occurrence of recent and according to Hijikata, it was his way of dealing with the painful memories of his previous master, whom he had cut down twice now. He would disappear for a few days, gather himself, and return as normal. It seemed he spent a lot more time with Zura during these absences and even Takasugi, whom he had patched over some of the gaping holes in their once solid relationship with. They were never going to be as close as before, but it was a start. It was assumed by his closest allies that those two were the only people he felt could understand him when the memories of the past were too overwhelming. In the days he ventured off alone, like a magnet he'd be drawn to them. What they did together remained unknown, but no one expected anything good.
In a silent apartment, only one person sat in the room usually buzzing with life. Kagura pulled a pair of knee high boots over her feet and clicked her heel onto the floor. Shinpachi was busy helping his sister literally rebuild the dojo with whatever they could salvage from the wreckage, and someone had to run the yorozuya. There was plenty of work to do nowadays. Every townsman was in need of a helping hand for a low price. Today she was looking for a lost person – and she would do her damnedest not to bump into a certain other individual she knew.
They were arguing. They had barely been together two minutes and already she was pissed and he was pissed and basically they were both pissed but unwilling to compromise. It had started when she had missed their date, something that he had organised to stop her from 'moping around on her period'. Because yes, she had been depressed. Everything she knew had been torn from under her, the safety blanket she had wrapped around herself had been burned to cinders. Gintoki was broken; the town was broken; the yorozuya was broken. She didn't like change. She didn't want to adapt to having to live alone now, because even when Gintoki was home he took to spending the nights with Hijikata at the barracks. And Shinpachi was preoccupied on his end, too. She hated that what she had loved and adored with all her heart had shattered with the pieces flung apart, out of reach. Sougo had noticed her sorrow and made an attempt to cheer her up. He was going to take her out and pay for her, which she had mentioned made her feel sick at the thought – his kindness often came with a catch. But after one hell of a hectic day, she had forgotten. She had slipped off her boots in the doorway of the apartment and never put them back on again, completely exhausted and asleep on the sofa within mere minutes. It was the next day when she woke up and remembered. By then, it was far too late to even partially redeem herself.
If that was the reason for the argument, however, she was sure it would all have been fine. The problem was the argument that arose when she tried to apologise. Sougo was pissed, she got that, and he refused to take her seriously. He gave her the cold shoulder to the point where she felt the frostbite nipping at her chest. So she gave him some time, a few hours in fact, so that he could cool down (or warm up), but instead he blew up in her face again and spat insults. The whole thing had exploded out of proportion and they had both said things they definitely shouldn't have. It wasn't fun and she hadn't slept well at all. Knowing him, it would have been on his mind all day at work, too.
She sighed, dodging a lob of brick collapsing on her right. People were clambering over the remains of a hotel trying to pull full sofas out of the rubble. The makeshift yorozuya they had built hadn't taken long because the damage it had taken hadn't been severe. A few fixes to the roof and a new doorway made out of paper and bingo, fixed. The shinsengumi barracks had taken even less damage since it was a little out of the way and surrounded by towering walls. The Shimura residence, however, had been flattened. It was going to take more than a few months to make it even a shadow of what it was.
Speaking of shadows, a familiar one was up ahead. She glanced up to Gintoki who hadn't yet noticed her. He was walking away from her with his head down, eyes hidden away so that she couldn't tell what he was thinking. She could hazard a guess from his posture, though. Slumped over, feet scuffing the ground and kicking stones like pinballs in every direction. It was the first she had seen of him in three days. She wanted to call out to him, but her voice no longer came out. She couldn't speak to him the same way she used to. She couldn't remember what normal conversation with him was.
And at that moment, Hijikata stepped beside him and matched his pace. Immediately Gintoki looked up, his eyes softened and his step picked up. Kagura stopped walking.
There was nothing she could do for him. He didn't need her anymore. Their family was broken now and Gintoki had found somewhere else he liked to be. He had reinstated his ties with old friends, and turned a new friend into something more. She had been pushed out. The yorozuya was no more.
"Are you crying?" Kagura didn't even raise her head at the voice. She had no energy to fight back. "Don't just cry in the street. Some old pervert will pick you up."
"Like right now?"
" … You still have a sharp tongue even when depressed. Come on, we need to talk anyway."
She let herself be led by Okita Sougo to wherever he had decided they needed to go. There was a part of her that felt relieved that they were speaking again, but she was so drained that she couldn't even embrace it. Eventually, they were at the water's edge of the city's main river. It was a winter's afternoon, so the sun was already setting despite the time. Sougo tugged at her hand to instruct her to sit and did the same once she was settled.
"You're a hormonal bitch and I'm really pissed," he announced. Kagura nodded, encouraging him to continue. "I was looking forward to it."
"I know," she replied, quietly.
"Also, this whole thing with danna … It'll pass." She said nothing and dropped her chin onto her knees. "He needs time to recover and he just doesn't want you two to see him this way."
"Is that what Hijikata said?" She spat harsher than she had meant to. Sougo paused, pensively.
"If you want to create a Hijikata hate club then we can make one together. But I really … " He stopped, thought, then began again. "Give things time. Have you got anything to say to me?"
"Not to a damn sadist." She slipped her hand onto his and leaned into his side. Whispering a barely audible apology, Kagura tried to erase her thoughts and capture the moment there and then. There was a lot that she had to look forward to – her relationship with Sougo was a huge part of that. She could imagine a future now that the war had ended, the loose ends were tied up and Edo was moving on. She had a home; that was enough.
But still …
"I'm still really annoyed though, China bitch," he cursed at her and shrugged one shoulder so that her head jolted.
"And you called me hormonal, damn sadist."
"I waited for two hours."
"I slept really well."
"I can't believe you." Sougo sighed deeply. The sky was turning dark now. They would have to set off back, soon. After the war, all power had been taken out so there were no longer any street lights to guide the way.
"You'll just have to take me out again." She nudged him and he nudged her back.
"There's no way I'm paying for you this time, though."
"You can't make a lady pay." She felt his fingers twirl into her hair. These days, she had lost the energy to tie it up into her usual hairdo. It fell over her shoulders in a messy tangle.
"I wouldn't. But I have no hesitation in making you pay."
"What are you doing off work anyway?"
"I'm not. I was on patrol with Hijikata-san but he ran off to flirt with danna. They haven't seen each other since danna got back." Kagura made a pretend retching noise which Sougo reciprocated. Hijikata and Gintoki's relationship had exploded out of nowhere. The tension between them had been semi-obvious for a while, but all of a sudden it was no longer hidden. Kagura really didn't know how to feel about it, but around the same time she had started getting closer to Sougo so she couldn't really complain.
Sougo got to his feet and brushed down the seat of his trousers.
"Tomorrow night, 8 o'clock," he announced. "You will be there."
"I might," Kagura shrugged, blinking her big blue eyes coyly. She rose to her feet and linked her arm in his.
"If you aren't, I'll honestly kick the shit out of you."
Walking into Hijikata's room and finding Gintoki curled up under the covers with him was enough to put Sougo off eating breakfast. He made a mental note that his days of pranking Hijikata in the mornings were over, unfortunately. If it meant he had to put up with this scene, he'd rather not bother. Gintoki was splayed out of his back, one whole leg facing the cold air outside of the futon, with Hijikata in one arm. Sougo rested on his knees beside them and held Gintoki's nose shut with two fingers. Said samurai spluttered awake and batted at his perpetrator with one lazy hand.
"It's still sleepy time, you bastard." Gintoki squinted up and him and let out a huge yawn. Hijikata began to stir.
"How are you going to repay me for the damage done to my eyes?"
"How is that my fault, you pervy creep coming in here at this time ..." Gintoki rubbed at the corners of his eyes and yawned once more. "Look, if you awaken the dragon he ain't going to be happy."
"I can deal with that," Sougo shrugged. "Anyway, where's my souvenir?"
"I've only been away three days."
"Four days now," Sougo pointed to the date on the screen of his phone. "There's someone you haven't visited yet."
"Since when were you so concerned for her. Don't make it snow, my heating's broken."
"Though it isn't like you stay at the apartment anyway." Gintoki gave Sougo a long, hard stare with narrowed dead-fish eyes. He sighed as loudly as he dared.
"Fine, I'm going, I'm going. You win, my little sadist."
Hijikata was eased off him and re-wrapped in the blanket before Gintoki set about getting changed. Sougo began to gather Hijikata's cigarettes. He removed each from the packet individually and hid them all over the room to occupy himself whilst Gintoki slipped into his yukata.
"Are you the reason why sometimes he wakes up in a bad mood?"
"Never," Sougo replied in the least convincing tone.
A taste of my new fic! I really shouldn't be starting new stuff and I think I say that every time ... But I really like this one. If you're from my other fics, they shall be updated soon! Hang tight! P.S. by request, I'm now on AO3! Search REINDOWN.