Author's Notes: Sorry about the change in penname here, but I figured I should make my lj and ffnet accounts correspond, so... Done in an hour and a half. Beware of metaphors gone awry and huge poetic liberties. D: My apologies.

Comments and constructive criticism welcome:D

On a side note, does anyone actually read Kenshin/Saitou? Even I have a hard time believeing that I write it, sometimes. XD

That Which Breathes, and Flowers

There are no words when Kenshin presses him against the wooden floor, none but need and now that scream themselves hoarse in his ear and drum at his consciousness where the past has no place amongst the living. He wears himself down, guttural erratic grunts around the thickness in his mouth. It is too easy to hook a leg over Kenshin's waist and let gravity do the rest. In a moment he is on top and straddling the other man's hips and tugging almost brutally though the limp red hair. "Ready," he says, voice low but not entirely harsh; Kenshin thinks that if he peers hard enough into Saitou there is gentleness that pools there, benignly and without manifesting itself but there nonetheless - in the tongue that wraps itself around his sanity and tugs there is something soft, and unbearably intimate.

Winter is of ghosts, of his and Saitou's, and those that wander the streets or haunt the corners of memories. The saddest are those who have no one to mourn for them- Kenshin think perhaps being hated is better than being lonely. Being alone is not something that that is pleasant in the least, even if in becoming a rurouni it is the fate that he has consigned himself to.

There is nothing calm or sardonic in Saitou as be thrusts forward with a rhythm that is threatening to falter. Darkness clings to Saitou, irrevocably, like it belongs to the creases of his face, in the crook of his elbow, and the hollows of his eyes. Even more so than the simply blackness of the night, this darkness is empty, void and hidden, but laid open for those who can see. And Kenshin can, feel and taste these unfathomable parts, touching their surface softly. He is not afraid of being drawn in, or letting what is within out; he has his own fair share of ghosts (who does not, these days), but there are some things that others have no right to pry into. So this darkness clings, and Kenshin watches, stroking and petting and curling around it, not to make it go away, for that cannot be, but to bring a little of his own light, and darkness to it.

Outside it is white; snowing or raining, or dropping hail but it is so white that sometimes it blinds him when he wakes up in the morning. But now it is night, and the whiteness is no more than brackish grey, patchy with shadows and sullied. There are many winters that he remembers but most are for the wrong reasons. Bare trees with brittle branches scrabbling for hold in the wind remind him of frailness and pale thin arms of a girl who was snow herself, as icy and remote as the sea. When she smiled it was not sunshine and brightness, but a slow, ponderous awakening, slow like the grind of the millet mill. He thinks of hot sake and the warmth of shared blankets, occasionally the softness of her thigh when it was pressed to his. Plum blossoms bloom best in winter when it is bitterly cold and when the winds have stripped all other trees naked and defenseless. The fragrance catches in his mouth and lingers; he thinks of showers of rain and how they bloom even then too. Tomoe laughs in his memory and gives him her enigmatic smiles. Her eyes are dark and luminescent, old and knowing, yet frighteningly young when he holds her close. In his mind they live together in the mountains for a long long time: he spends his day collecting medicinal herbs and dispensing medicine, she cooks and cleans and writes in her diary, and for both of them the village children still come. Tomoe smiles more and tosses the ball with the children, plays charades and ruffles their hair awkwardly but fondly. Enishi stays with them, forever a little boy, not vengeful like he is now. In Kenshin's mind Tomoe smiles, for him and for them both.

Saitou smiles too, but not right now when his face is carefully still from keeping the effort in. Kenshin keeps carefully still and tries to regulate the pace and intensity of his breathing. He does not cry out, although something in him is desperately clawing its way up his throat. Saitou is near silent too, words and expressions choked up and carefully set away. These are for others; Kenshin gives Tomoe these, Saitou to Tokio. When Kenshin reaches out he is met with a blank wall- Saitou is as nonedescript as anyone can be, unspeaking and generic in the darkness. Even the feel of Saitou in him and around him could belong to any stranger.

But Kenshin wants more than moody silences and distant touches- he wants Saitou, wants to feel the heat against his skin and not through a veneer of anonymity. He thinks he almost can. Just a few moments ago it was as though he felt through the frigidity and remoteness had slipped away- there was Saitou, raw and open like a wound, bleeding deep, hot and impatient against him. Kenshin wants words, more than just 'ready' and 'now' and wordless expressions of how good it is for them. He wants Saitou and wants Saitou to want him, except that deep down they both want the past and for Kenshin maybe the present with Kaoru; right now he cannot even begin to define what 'want' means. He wants selfishly and irrationally, not to posses Saitou but to claim, to keep him close like a charm that will ward away his fears but which he realises may be the cause of a good portion of them. He cannot have Saitou in his entirety because Saitou is composed of so many parts and some have already been lost, some are dead, and some are not his to want or keep. Kenshin wants the parts that are alive, the parts that will still fight and keep living, till the end.

The morning light is grey and hazy, indistinct and composed of shadows.The row of houses stretches across the street peacefully, seemingly straight out of a wood print. Kenshin wants to say somethig, to break the ritual of impersonal silence over them. He wants to cry out with sound and with feeling, to reach out to Saitou, because this thing that they do is important no matter how insane and impossible it is. It is tenuous and nebulous and all things improbable, yet he can taste sweat and blood on his tongue as real as can be.

And Saitou is real too, no matter how immaterial he seems, all shifting shadows and hard, drowning eyes. Saitou is all angles and planes, hard jutting edges that are defined in the light. The curve of his spine is snakes down his back in a straight, rigid line, arched into Kenshin. His ribcage is stark through his chest, looking brittle like a wicker basket. Goosebumps are raised on his skin, from the cold, and from Kenshin tracing a finger down his side.

It is chilly, Kenshin thinks. He feels the young tendrils of plum blossoms gently rise from the pit of his stomach, feeding off the fertile soil of his sadness. They stir in the earth and rise, unsettling and parasitic. They settle firmly and root themselves deeply, thrusting their flowers high and up. Kenshin feels them; he is wilting and - becoming dry like the trees that line the courtyard outside. Saitou pushes into him- the heat is searing and all encompassing and enough to split him into two. Saitou leans down, and breathes, enough for both of them- be presses air back into Kenshin's lungs and life back into Kenshin, and then Kenshin ignores the bitterness blooming inside him and closes his eyes, where he knows even if he never manages to speak, Saitou will understand.

Winter is of ghosts, quiet and sullen in his mind. When the wind rattles through the house Kenshin thinks, and is aware of still, silently curling smoke, and the acrid taste of cigarettes in his mouth.

The End