It wasn't like they didn't try. Of course they did. Otae and Gintoki and Hijikata told them they didn't try hard enough. They thought they tried just fine.

For Missa, because she got me into Gintama (that wicked, wicked girl) and Ren, who wrote deep!Shikamaru for me. You guys rock like boulders.

Whatever you may say, I conclude that they are in IC. Just because you can only handle so much crack before you break down into quiet hysterics and wish for seriousness and gravity.

Disclaimer: I wouldn't do Gintama any justice, trust me.

The first few nights, she says nothing. Nothing when he comes in with a repulsive smell dripping on him, his eyes a battered shade of red, his arms hanging loosely at his side.

Because she knows that later that night, at around 2 or 3 AM, he would snake an arm around her waist, and dive his face into her hair, and even though he assumed she was off in her own mind in slumber, she would hear him say that he wanted to see her smile. Because lately, with these late nights, he hadn't seen much of it.

It was written in a code of law somewhere. Somewhere, the rules of romance were scripted down, wrapped in gold, and tucked somewhere where only people who succeeded in climbing Mt. Everest could get to. You might as well compare the two. Mt. Everest and Romance. Both are cold, difficult to climb, and sometimes, dark.

And hell, Okita would find it. He would find this secret book of romance and read it from cover to cover. Because he knew that Kagura was still a girl. And as much as pop culture wants to invent fictional heroines with an unreserved hatred for anything with a penis and a god-complex when it comes to romance, these girls would still stare disdainfully at a couple walking with their fingers laced together and think cruel thoughts. Strongest Alien Race in the Galaxy or not, he knew that Kagura (secretly, secretly) lived for Sunday mornings and heart-shaped chocolate cake.

If only she actually told him that.

If only he could tell her that he wanted to give her that and everything else.

"I don't know. Maybe we're just not one of those people." She says scornfully, blowing lightly on her tea.

Otae sighs, and traces the patterns on her kimono, trying her hardest to avoid her friend's scrutinizing eyes, "I don't exactly know what to say, Kagura." It wasn't a lie. This was not the first time Kagura had come to her onee-chan, telling her about silent nights, grunted conversations, and unconcerned eyes.

Kagura sees Otae trying her hardest, her hardest to tell her friend that yes, Okita loves you more than you know. But it never comes. She questions if Otae just doesn't think it will ever happen,

(the moment when Okita spins her in the air, shouting fidelities and forevers)

Or she just doesn't think they're that kind of couple.

She hopes for neither.

"You guys' aren't exactly conventional, in a sense, so don't worry about it." Otae finally whispers, trying to give as much reassurance as a teammate's sister could.

"I just don't think I know how to do it." Fiddling slightly with his newly-polished bazooka, Okita places a tired head on an even more tired arm, staring blankly at the man in front of him.

Gintoki rolls his eyes. You've seen one confused boy, you've seen them all. "Okita, it's not that hard. It's 'I love you.' It was never meant to be a landslide of every inhibition and worry you've ever had. You've seen the movies, they say it all the time." He leaves suddenly, seeing Shinpachi outside, yelling about a mission and Sadaharu barking impatiently. Where was Kagura? He glances towards the man in front him, and tells himself not to burden the young girl with another pointless mission today.

"Why are you two even trying? You don't have to. Plenty of couples go their entire lives without ever being remotely romantic." Hijikata, of all people, mentions to Kagura one afternoon, breathing out large puffs of nicotine.

Kagura doesn't need to think about this, "Well, Hijikata-san, some people do want to try." She grabs his cigarette and puts it out with the bottom of her umbrella. She hates smokers.

"Well, don't be so stubborn on it. If you want, I think you guys are fine together." Hijikata walks away, leaving her in a state of anger, frustration, and exasperation. She wanted to hit him, just like the Kagura everyone else knows about, but her body wouldn't let her and her heart wasn't up to it either.

Gintoki tells him about flowers. She smiles slightly when he comes behind her one night, a single flower in his hand. She laughs faintly and thanks him for it. It was a dandelion. They don't grow around here, he says cheekily. Oh, so that's why there's only one, she retorts with slighting eyes and a cheerful tone, frustrating him.

Otae tells her to cook. She wearily picks up a frying pan in attempt to make a meal worth eating and doesn't look as revolting as a hair in your pie. She succeeds in doing a somewhat decent job, and rewards herself for it by eating her weight in strawberries, because Shinpachi had given them to her the day before. Needless to say, her meal had been completely forgotten and she had to sorrowfully watch her boyfriend dig in heartily while she pushes away her plate in attempt to cease throwing up.

Hijikata tells her about dates. You should go out more often, he warns, or you might lose the sense of what it was like being together. Okita whines impatiently waiting for the street vendor to finish his brown-goop-on-a-stick. Kagura sighs when she trips over another fallen branch from yesterday's wind storm. Okita attempts to hold her hand but comes face to face with a pointed hard object known as her umbrella. Dates didn't go too well when initiated by the two of the most violent people in Japan.

And the two of them, in their own twisted way, realizes that their friends were completely useless. What did they think Kagura and Okita were? They certainly weren't idiots. And they did not require foreboding messages on giving up and maybe nots.

But they soon come to terms that this wasn't everything movies or their friends or even they wanted it to be. This was something a little more diverse and oddly enough, natural. They knew they've said 'I love you' a thousand times before. And after all this, they really didn't need to defend and question it like they did.

It was their fault, really. They can't blame anyone else.

And Okita never missed a night to snake an arm around Kagura. And Kagura would never cease in smiling for him. Because they weren't aiming for conventionality, praise, or to follow popular culture. They were aiming for something a little more fulfilling.

My system was reeling from Absolute Boyfriend and Aishiteruze Baby's last chapter, so do not slam me as harshly as you might.