SUMMARY: What if captain Okita Souji had survived his illness for some years longer? What if a certain dark-haired rurouni happened to show up on his doorstep one day? Okita/Soujiro.

READ THIS, if you don't know who Okita Souji is. He was the uber-cute captain of the First Unit of the Shinsengumi. He was very talented with the sword, and was a prodigy. He also had a very amiable personality: never seen without a (genuine) smile on his face, and he also loved to joke around. Soujiro's character was actually based off of his. Okita was in the RK series for a few moments (in which he looked strikingly like Soujiro with a ponytail and lighter brown hair, and a Shinsengumi uniform), and in the OVA's for a longer time. In the OVA's, however, he looks different: he has black hair, and is drawn differently. I am referring to the RK-series version of Okita in this fanfic. He's so kawaii in that version.

NOTE: Alright, everyone, be warned. This is yaoi. YAOI. If you don't like it, please don't read, and don't flame me either. And it's also slightly alternate timeline. Okita lives, and I've bended his age by a couple of years (five, to be precise) so he won't be a whole 17 years older than Soujiro. Please read and review. Constructive criticism is looked forward to, as are plain compliments :) Please do not review about how much you hate this couple. I don't care, to put it blatantly. And I know, Soujiro's name can be spelled as Sojiro, and Soujirou. I prefer Soujiro, and that's what I'll stick with. Thanks, and now, to the fic!

The Flow of Blood

chapter one: a chance meeting

Strands of short dark-brown hair waved gracefully in the wind, as Seta Soujiro found his way down the streets of Yamagata. The corners of his mouth were turned up into a smile, but something about his demeanor was certainly different than it was two years ago. Some light had returned to his lackluster eyes, a certain softness had come back to his personality. But he still had much to learn.

Looking up into the sky, he caught a glimpse of the thunderstorm soon to approach. The sky was darkening steadily: it was approaching sunset. Thunderclouds were directly above the city. Soujiro gave off a small sigh, and pulled out the bag wherein he kept his dwindling money. Emptying the pouch, he realized that he had no more than two coins overall, which certainly wasn't enough to get him through the night at an inn. This, of course, meant he'd either have to rough it outdoors, or go door-to-door, hoping that someone had a room in their home for a rurouni to stay in for a night. Not that it was a problem, but it certainly was not preferred.

Putting away his remaining money, he noticed that he had somehow veered away from the busy streets, and was now in an alleyway. He noticed that he always did have that nasty habit of not really paying attention to where he was going. Shrugging to himself and still smiling, he walked through the narrow walkway, letting his mind wander.

It had been about two years since he had left Kyoto in hopes of finding a Truth of his own. Two whole years. He was a very mature twenty-year-old, but he knew that in his heart, he was still a young boy. He had supressed his emotions at such a young age, that now, when he had started to slowly discover them again, he didn't quite know what to make of them. There were times that he would feel something, without quite knowing what it was. Anger? Sadness? Joy? Love?

Love. Out of all the emotions he knew about, love seemed to be the most confusing. Soujiro found himself completely unable to grasp the concept of love; he simply could not understand a feeling that some said brought extreme happiness, and others stated, was nothing but a waste of time, and a tragedy waiting to happen. Anger, he understood. Sadness, he could comprehend. Joy, he could vaguely grasp, as well. But this 'love' seemed somehow beyond his reach...

About a half an hour later, he came across a clearing, surrounded by trees, with what seemed like a dojo, safely nestled between the trees. That would be nice, Soujiro thought to himself, to spend the night at a dojo. He hoped that the master would be able to have an intelligible conversation with him about the art of the sword, and perhaps even teach him a little of the style that he used. His hopes skyrocketing, Soujiro walked eagerly to the door, and knocked.

No answer came.

Soujiro knocked again, a little longer, and a little louder. Still, no answer came, but a horrendous coughing echoed throughout the inside of the dojo. Soujiro blinked in confusion. Perhaps, in this part of the country, coughing was a way to let visitors know they weren't welcome? The thought crossed the boy's mind for an instant, before receeding. Or perhaps the man inside really did need help. In the few minutes that Soujiro spent trying to decide whether or not to help the person, the coughing stopped.

Furrowing his brows discreetly, Soujiro backed away from the door of the dojo, turned around, and contemplated his next move. Beside the dojo, there was a shed. A very comfortable-looking shed, calculating in the fact that rain had already began to fall. The roof of the shed extended some, creating enough space for a person to lean up against the outer wall and sleep, perhaps.

Soujiro cast a glance toward the door of the dojo, his vision now slightly blurred by the steadily falling rain. Lightning cracked violently in the distance. Maybe the owner of the dojo wouldn't mind if he crawled up underneath the shed. It wasn't as if he would steal any of it's contents. And he'd make sure to leave by the morning, too. He'd create no inconvenience whatsoever. Peering at the door of the dojo one more time, he took a few steps to the shed, and sat down underneath the roof, curling into a ball. He closed his eyes shut, and attempted to fall asleep to the cold rhythm of the rain.

A drop of bright red fell, thickly, onto a fingertip, and then rolled off, hitting the ground, splashing into smaller drops. Brown hair covered chocolate eyes, brimming with tears, as a the sound of a hacking cough echoed, bouncing off the walls...

The man named Okita Souji found himself on the floor, supporting himself up with his arms only, as blood poured out of his mouth, splattering on the floor. He felt his lungs heave as he tried to breathe between the sharp coughs that escaped his mouth. He felt suffocated, his lungs seemed to be collapsing, his head was sent spinning violently, and he felt the strong desire to somehow just fall unconcious for a while.

It had been a good many years since the Shinsengumi dissapated, since many of his comrades had died honorably. He owned a dojo now, to instruct others of the Tennen Rishin Ryuu, the style that he had mastered at the young age of fifteen. Yes, it was a long time. But he still had his coughing fits, and lately, they seemed to intensify. It seemed that no matter how fortunate he was in life, he could not escape from the powerful flow of blood...

At last, the heavy weight was slowly pulled off from his chest, and Okita started to take slow, shallow breaths. His lungs pained a little, but it would soon alleviate, he knew. His arms began to tremble, as his body weight began to become too much for them to handle at the time. He let out a tiny chuckle at this, and a last drop of blood fell from his lips.

For a long time, he stared at the pool of blood that he had coughed up. He bit his lip, tasting the coppery flavor he knew so well. "I'd better clean it up," He mumbled to himself, watching as the blood-stain began to spread across the floor. Grabbing a spare rag, he mopped up the blood dripping off his face, as well as spots of red on the floor, before placing it beside his futon. He groaned a little as he got up, picking up the bowl of water that he had placed in his room (for occasions like this), and headed outside. He needed to get rid of the blood that stained his mouth, did he not?

His heart sunk as he heard a crack of thunder outside; he had always disliked being outside in the rain, especially in the dark. His body was still trembling a little from the aftershocks of his coughing fit as he opened the door and stepped outside his dojo. Putting the bowl to his mouth, he rinsed the inside of his mouth, and spit out the now pinkish-colored water on the ground. When he was done, Okita turned to run back inside the house before he managed to get far too wet, but in mid-turn, his eyes caught something under his shed.

In the darkness, it appeared to him as nothing but an odd shape, bluish in color. Carefully, he began to take steps toward the object, painfully on-guard. He jumped a little when a giant squall exploded in the sky, and the lightning illuminated the object for a brief second. He blinked and stopped moving, as he realized that the 'object' was a person.

"Excuse me!" Okita projected his voice into the darkness, toward the person curled up underneath his shed. "Excuse me! Why are you underneath my shed?" Another clap of thunder echoed, and he felt a flicker of annoyance at the fact that he was now dripping with water, after being outside for such a small amount of time. Not to mention, he had just coughed up a few liters of blood, and a complete stranger now was sleeping under his shed. That was enough to frustrate anybody.

For a while he got no answer, but he heard some movement from the direction of whoever was gracing his presence, but he finally did hear some words, echoing through the violence of the storm: "Gomen nasai, Sir! I...I'm a rurouni, and I knocked on your door earlier today, with intentions of asking if I could stay at your dojo for the night. You didn't answer, and I simply helped myself to your shed..." Okita listened carefully. The speaker seemed to be a young man, but he could not make out his form clearly in the near pitch-darkness. Apparently, he had knocked on the door when he was having his coughing fit. "...Gomen nasai! I'll leave immediately." The stranger continued. "It was wrong of me to do this without asking for your permission first. I'll leave immediately..."

Okita frowned. It was his fault for not listening to the knock on the door, not the boy's. He loved company, especially when he was living by himself. There was no need to kick him out; he seemed like a very polite and mature young man, also. He said he was a rurouni? A wanderer always had something to talk about. That would make for some good conversation, definitely.

Okita walked closer to the young man, who seemed about an inch or so shorter than him. He could not make out his face clearly, but he could tell that he was grinning, oddly enough. "It's I who owes you an apology. Gomen, for not hearing you knocking on my door. I should have paid more attention." Okita smiled warmly. "If you'd like, you may come inside. You could catch something terrible out here."

The rurouni stared at him for a moment, before widening his smile. "Arigatou gozaimasu!" He bowed politely. "I appreciate your kindness. My name isSoujiro, by the way."

"Nice to meet you, Soujiro-san," He quickly bowed as well. "You may call me Souji." He came out of his bow and laughed. "I believe we have the same name! That could get confusing!"

Soujiro laughed. "I'm sure we'll manage through the night, Souji-san." He continued to smile.

"Well, come inside, then!" Okita walked back to the dojo, and motioned for Soujiro to follow. "The weather here has been quite horrible as of late. We've been having downpours for the last few weeks..." He turned and looked over at the boy next to him. He was smiling, but somehow, it just didn't seem right.

That's odd... Okita thought, as he gazed at the rurouni. There was something odd about him. He seemed amiable enough, but still, something didn't seem quite right. And his name. He vaguely remembered a few events that took place in the city of Kyoto a few years ago. They had to do with a man named Shishio Makoto. He remembered being told of an odd smiling eighteen-year-old boy by the name Seta Soujiro who was his right-hand man...

He shrugged it off. He was probably just imagining things. It was none of his buisness, after all. And besides...after the night, the boy would be gone.