A/N: a lot of thanks to my beta who right my wrongs. First PmK fic ever. Please be nice.
It hurt. His chest hurt. He couldn't breathe. He felt his head spin and he started to lose his footing.
Still, he walked in a slow, dignified manner, not showing how much his body demanded him to rush. The yard and the halls were thankfully deserted so there were no curious eyes on him. He didn't know if he could deal with anyone as coolly as he usually did in his current state.
His footsteps softened as he neared his destination. He didn't want to alert anyone of his presence. Anyone but him, that is. For he always seemed to be able to sense his presence, his moods, and his intentions even better than himself.
When he opened the door, he found him sitting silently with a tray of tea in front of him. Not sake to make him forget but tea to make him calmer. He clenched his fists, desperately fighting the urge to lose himself in a sweet embrace.
"Hijikata-san." Souji greeted him with a soft smile. Wordlessly, he gestured Hijikata to come inside and sit on the prepared mat in front of him.
Quietly, Hijikata went inside and slid the door closed behind him, mindful of what the cold night air might do to Souji. He sat in front of the pale young man and allowed him to serve him tea. He stared away, a frown on his face as his heart clenched painfully. He felt Souji's warm and comforting presence so close to him, but still refused to reveal himself.
"Your unit should be ready to attack tomorrow night. The Chosu are getting restless. No doubt their recent victory has fueled their foolish bravery."
Souji said nothing. He watched silently as Hijikata sipped his tea. He took in HIjikata's mussed up appearance, the frown that seemed deeper than usual and the grim curve of his lips. Souji silently waited.
"It shouldn't be too difficult. We aren't largely outnumbered and we are more skilled. Though, we still have to be mindful of the tactic they are going to use."
Souji noticed the darkness that crept into Hijikata's eyes. His hand clutched the white fabric of his kimono on his knees, fighting not to touch the man, knowing the gesture wouldn't be appreciated yet. Souji took a deep breath and waited.
"You and Saito will lead the attack. Shinpachi, Heisuke, and Sanosuke should be ready in case of backup. Yamazaki must stand guard and watch the Satsuma in case they came to help the Chosu."
Hijikata's grip on the cup tightened. Souji flattened his fists on his knees. "Hijikata-san." He whispered.
"There should be no mistake! Yamazaki must infiltrate their headquarters to discover their plan. No detail should be missed!"
"Hijikata-san." Souji tried again, a little louder this time.
"We cannot afford to lose more members. Yamazaki should do his task properly and no one shall escape…"
"Hijikata slammed his cup onto the tatami mat, spilling some of the tea inside as he did so. His body trembled, whether from anger or sadness, Souji couldn't tell.
"Damn." Hijikata cursed himself, his voice venomous, as he never did to anyone else. He frowned at the floor, his hand on his thigh clenched into a fist as he tried to contain the burning rage inside him. And it hurt more than before –much more than before. The pain in his chest intensified until he choked for breath. He clenched his jaw to try to compose himself but to no avail.
A pale hand touched his and Hijkata looked up. Souji wasn't smiling as he scooted closer to him. His beautiful blue eyes were kind and compassionate as he caressed the back of Hijikata's hand comfortingly. Slowly Souji lifted a hand to cup and caress Hijikata's cheek. When he sensed that Hijikata had relaxed marginally, he drew him closer so Hijikata's head was resting on his shoulder. He caressed Hijikata's back as a way to tell him words needn't be spoken between them.
They remained like that for a long time, conversing in their silent language, feeling for each other, understanding each other. Then Hijikata lifted his head and moved back slightly. Souji watched him move in silence, allowing him to do as he pleased, knowing it wasn't anger or disgust that drove him away. A soft smile splayed on his lips when Hijikata lowered his head onto his lap. He stroked Hijikata's dark locks to show his acquiescence.
"Please stay here tonight." He said softly.
Hijikata nodded but said nothing. He closed his eyes, listening to Souji's calming breath, feeling Souji's soft fingers on his hair. His pain diminished completely now, his anguish and grief forgotten. Hijikata slept with a light smile on his face.