Disclaimer: I do not own Gintama

A/N: This idea will not leave me alone, so here you go.

Being known as the Corpse-eating Demon meant that he was not afraid of death. It was far too common for him to give it any attention. Rotting corpses littered every clearing as the crows feasted on their flesh. Some had died from battle, some from illness, and some had died by his hands. He had killed men without hesitation and stolen from their still warm corpses. At times, he had even dealt a mercy blow to half-dead children and took whatever supplies they had left on them. The dead had no need for things other than a grave.

To be kind is to die.

It was far easier to survive as a demon.

Death was a constant companion.

It was always there.

It was the first thing he saw when he opened his eyes in the morning and it was the last thing he saw when he closed his eyes to sleep.

When people cursed him and told him that the dead haunted him, he gave it no thought. The concept of ghosts was foreign to him. What reason did the dead have for remaining in the land of the living? Why should he care for the spirits of strangers? As long as he paid them no mind, he would continue to survive. They could rage and curse all they want, but he could not hear them. He could not hear the endless voices trailing after him.

Then that man came into his life…

Yoshida Shouyou

A man whose smile was too wide.

A man who smiled too easily.

A gluttonous man who was quick to eat any offered food.

A man who had a too kind heart.

A man who trusted too easily.

He was a man that in all rights should have died by another's hand. He should have had his throat slit and his belongings stolen from him. In the world that the demon knew, the kind were the first to die. So why had this man lived? Why was this man so strong?

The longer he spent with the man known as Yoshida Shouyou, the more he came to understand the world he lived in. He learned of a world beyond the one that only contained death. He learned of a man who made it his effort in life to reach out a hand to those in need.

A man who held a demon child's hands.

A man who wiped a demon's tears.

A man who whispered words of comfort.

Even as he learned of the world around him, the concept of ghosts still eluded him. Why did people care so much about them?

The dead have no role in the lives of the living.

He learned to love others. He learned to care for them and laugh with them. For the first time in his life he could touch another child in fondness or in play rather than the brutal motion of breaking a neck. He could run without running away; he could shout in happiness and not in fear; he could eat food that was warm and not stolen; he could do so many things.

He learned what it meant to live…

Then the war came.

Like water rushing past the floodgates, the ghosts that had been haunting him suddenly had a voice. Whispered voices as soft as the night breeze seemed as loud as roaring thunder.









And as he tried in vain to block out the voices, another ghost, one of his own making cut through louder than the rest.

"Protect everyone for me"

It echoed day in and day out.

It haunted his dreams and his every action.

As the list of bodies grew, the voices grew louder and stronger.

"You failed! Why didn't come sooner?! Why weren't you stronger?! I'm dead because of you!"

"You promised you would protect me! You promised! I joined the war for you!"

"It hurts! It hurts! Help me!"

"Protect everyone for me"

"Protect everyone for me"

"Protect everyone for me"

"Protect everyone for me"

Ghosts were always a foreign concept to Sakata Gintoki.

He lived life merely to survive.

It wasn't until he met Yoshida Shouyou that he understood the ghosts people talked about, the ghosts that haunt him, the ones that cling to his shoulders and weigh him down…were of his own making.

The reason Sakata Gintoki had no ghosts was because he had no reason to live…

But now…

Now he has too many…

Too many ghosts…

Too many reasons to live…

Too many chances to fail…

And that scares him far more than anything else in the world.