Title: Smoking
Author: Scarlet Pencil
Pairing: Okita Sougo/Hijikata Toshiro
Fandom: Gintama
Theme: #13, excessive chain
Rating: T

Disclaimer: I do not own Gintama or its characters. It is the property of Hideaki Sorachi.

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When Okita was fourteen years old, he read an article in a medical journal about smoking. The article talked about the various chemicals in tobacco smoke and the filthiness of the factories they were manufactured in. It talked about nicotine and its affects on the body. It described in great detail yellowed teeth.

When Kondou finally finished his check up and walked back into the waiting room, he clapped Okita on the back. "It's good to see you educating yourself on the evils of smoking! Remember, prevention is the anti-drug!"

Okita had nodded quietly, and they had returned to the dojo.

The next day, Okita had skipped practice and went to the nearest tobacco store. Upon being told that he was too young to buy cigarettes, Okita proceed to threaten the store-keeper.

Five minutes later, Okita left the store with a carton of cigarettes. The shopkeeper decided that selling cigarettes was a dangerous profession and prepared to change careers before the freaky kid came back.

It was a sore point with Okita; but he had to admit, Hijikata was a better fighter than he was. At the moment, his death plans were being rendered ineffectual as fast as he could come up with them. That was why, when Okita had read the article, he had decided on a contingency plan.

If he couldn't kill Hijikata outright, he would kill him over time.

It was difficult, but Okita finally tricked Hijikata into smoking the cigarettes. After a while, no one even looked twice at the black haired fighter with the mayonnaise shaped lighter. The lighter had been a birthday present from Okita to Hijikata. Hijikata was initially suspicious, as Okita's normal presents were either poisoned or explosive, but he accepted it anyway.

Years went by, and life at the Shinsengumi took on a comfortable rhythm. Wake up, train, stake out terrorist bases, shoot terrorists, fill out paperwork, attempt the latest Hijikata death scheme, go to bed, repeat. In fact, it became so comfortable that Okita found himself actually enjoying it. One day, the thought crossed his mind that, when he did finally kill Hijikata, the entire routine would be ruined. Although everyone knew about his ambition, no one would condone murder. And really, life wouldn't be worth living if not for waking up in the morning with the goal of irritating Hijikata as much as possible.

Okita didn't like that train of thought and forced himself to forget about it.

Slowly though, Okita found himself forgetting about his hatred for Hijikata. He never forgot what Hijikata had done, but the emotion behind his actions was dissipating. Not that he would ever stop trying to kill Hijikata. In some way, he had become a goal. To be better than Hijikata… Okita could do worse for a goal.

So hatred slowly turned into respect. But just as Okita was beginning to become comfortable with that idea, he noticed that Hijikata was changing the routine. It was something subtle, something difficult to pinpoint. The way Hijikata would look at him now, the brusque way he was now treating Okita whenever they were alone… Something was off.

They had continued on like that for a few months. Then, at a crucial point in a year long investigation of a terrorist group, someone bungled communication between Hijikata's and Okita's squads. The terrorist cell slipped away in the confusion, and the mission was a failure.

Hijikata had avoided Okita for a week after that incident. Which left Okita feeling several things he knew he shouldn't. First there was anger. Anger that Hijikata had failed not only the mission, but also to meet Okita's expectations. There was also frustration directed at himself for his part in the blunder. This much was normal, though.

What wasn't normal was the fact that he felt hurt that Hijikata hadn't said anything to him. No apology (not that Okita expected one), no argument (that Okita had expected), nothing. And with that hurt, there was an uncomfortable feeling of worry about Hijikata.

And that was how he had found himself in the Vice Captain's room, and how they had started fighting. To be exact, Okita forced his way in; Hijikata tried to throw him out; and they quickly degenerated into blows. Okita couldn't help grinning at Hijikata, who was standing in front of him, angry and irritated and normal.

The grin seemed to piss Hijikata off even more. He fumbled in his jacket, producing a cigarette and the lighter. "God, Sougo," he spat while lighting the cigarette, "you're the most irritating bastard in the world."

"Perhaps, but that's normal." Okita smirked. He turned to leave, feeling that things were back to normal between him and Hijikata.

"Sougo." Okita paused and looked back. Hijikata was looking at him, that strange look again. It was the first time Hijikata had looked directly at him like this, and Okita felt uncomfortable again. His eyes narrowed.

"What is it, Hijikata-san?"

Hijikata looked as if he was trying to think of a good way to say something bad. After a minute, he gave up. "You're confusing," he grumbled, and leaned forward to kiss Okita.

There were many things Okita was thinking about during that short, clumsy kiss. Thoughts about the past, about how this would change their routine, and about how the rest of the Shinsengumi would take this. But mostly, Okita thought, he tastes like cigarettes.

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AN: I wish I had had more time for this, but I procrastinated and had to run to beat my deadline. XD; So it's not perfect, but good enough, I say.