Hijikata Toshirou watched the warm sake as it slid around the walls of the cup, watched as it settled with a swirl when his hand stopped moving. He brought it to his lips and tipped his head back, swallowed and examined the now-empty green vessel. The barman poured him another without a word. He sat and stared at the cup until the surface of the sake was still. The evening before a day off brought a good feeling. Tomorrow could be whatever he wanted, but tonight he needed to relax. He slipped his hand into his kimono and brought out his cigarette lighter, relit and drew in a deep breath. Smoke drifted lazily from his mouth, swirling gently towards the ceiling as it caught on tiny air currents.

"Oi, old man! A sake!"

"I'm thirty."

Gintoki.

"What the hell are you doing here?"

"I was here first, bastard."

Fingers up to the lips. Another drag and release. Hijikata eyed the other man carefully. "Where's your entourage?"

"Feh, real men drink alone. With their thoughts. A time to contemplate."

"In your case even 'thought' sounds generous."

The silver-haired man reached for the handle of his wooden sword. "You seem to be in a bold mood," He replied, chin jutting out. "wanna take it outside?"

Hijikata took up the refilled sake cup. "Nah," He said, rubbing a ringer around the edge of the rim. "let's keep it in here. I'll drink you under the table."

Gin tipped his head back and laughed, a boisterously loud sound. "Like hell!"

"Why'd you drink so much, asshole, now I have to support you home."

Gin's arm was heavy, and his gait unpredictable. They walked in mostly silence until they reached the Odd Jobs headquarters.

"There, ungrateful bastard. I hope you choke on your own vomit." Hijikata said, turning to head off in the direction of the Shinsengumi compound.

"Are you a good fuck?"

He stopped. Gin was standing on the stairs up to the Odd Jobs, looking straight at him. All trace of drunken drawl seemed to have vanished. A stillness dropped between them, as Hijikata processed and reprocessed the comment through a haze of alcohol.

Not possible.

"What?"

"I said, are you a good fuck?"

Hijikata could do nothing but stare for a moment. He couldn't take his eyes from the other man's. Then a grin split his face. "Why the hell are you asking me, idiot?"

"Because I want to fuck you. Why else would I ask? You think I have a secret research project?"

What?

"What?"

"If you don't want to, that's fine. I'm just saying, I want to relax a little. And you're the only one here." Gin stretched one arm up and behind his head, and yawned. He looked over at Hijikata. One corner of his mouth pulled up, and he walked up the stairs and into the apartment.

Hijikata stared after him.

He's not shutting the door.

He climbed the stairs, watching his own feet as though they were moving him forward without his permission. His body suddenly felt hot.

I'm not going to.

In through the door, pulling the screen shut behind him.

I'm not.

Sandals off, one foot in front of the other towards the room from which the lamp light was spilling.

I'm not going to fuck him.

At his door.

Hijikata rested a hand against the doorframe and peered in. Gin was undressing with his back to him. First the kimono, folded neatly. Then the shirt that had been beneath it pulled over his head, ruffling his hair. Hijikata watched the back muscles working sinuously beneath the skin, played out in shadows thrown by the lamp light. Gin turned slightly, peering over his shoulder. His pout parted into a knowing smile.

"Shut the door behind you or in front of you, but shut it either way."

I'm not going to fuck him.

The door shut. Gin's smile became a grin. He began removing his belt.

Hijikata expected a trick. A cruel twist. A sudden mockery. But none came. He continued to watch Gin strip. Pants off. Gin turned to Hijikata in just his underwear, hands on hips to display his erection. He removed them and stood naked.

I'm going to fuck him.

Hijikata removed his kimono, shrugging it from his shoulders onto the floor. Then his underwear. They stood naked together, watching each other from across the room. Gin looked him up and down, slowly, then blew out the lamp. Hijikata blinked. Suddenly everything was dark. He was stark naked and hard, with no idea where the other man was. This had been a terrible mistake. He readied himself for an attack.

A touch at his wrist. He went to strike but he was caught. Gin pulled his arm, and he didn't resist it. The direction of the pull changed. Down. Towards the futon. He reached in the darkness with his free hand, and met the other man's skin. He flinched slightly, but Gin's body was still. He was lying down, pulling Hijikata on top of him. Between his legs. The grip on his wrist released, and he felt Gin's thighs spread wider. Hijikata was so hard it was almost unbearable. He handled his cock and felt for the right spot with the tip. When he found it, Gin's body tensed and all self-control evaporated. He gripped Gin's hips and thrust inside, letting his head fall back as he enjoyed the tight warmth and back-arching response in his lover.

Hijikata's hands moved from the other man's hips up his thighs, gently touching the insides and drawing sensitive shudders. Then back down, stroking with fingertips past Gin's erection and across his taut stomach, drifting upwards until he came across a nipple. His hips started moving without his intention, driving him inside. He felt Gin's chest rise sharply with an intake of breath. Hijikata couldn't stand it any more, it felt too fucking good. He thrust hard, eager to satisfy his pounding erection, drinking in the pleasure.

His sight was beginning to return in the faint half-light of the moon drifting in between the slats in the window. Gin was open-mouthed, holding back the noises he wanted to make, arms stretched out above his head so that they were off the futon. Every thrust set off a tiny bomb inside Hijikata's mind, pushing him closer and closer to orgasm. He gripped Gin's hips again and sucked air in sharply through his teeth.

I want to come…I want to come…

The orgasm was overwhelming. He felt it everywhere, as every muscle tensed and pulled, adding force to his thrusting motion. He released his lower lip from a bite and breathed heavily. Keeping quiet had been difficult. He could feel the sweat on his body, and between his body and Gin's as the breeze stole the heat away. He withdrew, and lay back, panting.

Suddenly Gin was on top of him, parting his thighs. Hijikata spread for him. Fingers explored his groin, making him shudder and awaken again. Gin teased him; first one finger then two, reaching places and pressing, stroking. The fingers withdrew and Gin entered him, hard but slowly. Hijikata breathed heavily, feeling his cheeks flush with the sensation.

More.

He reached down to touch the other man, fingers gliding along his firm, muscular waist as Gin began to push.

More…

Palms to Gin's buttocks, pushing down. Hijikata felt the rhythm of the contracting and relaxing muscle beneath his hands, the thrusting and withdrawing of Gin's cock as he moved. The rhythm increased. Hijikata moaned despite himself, and clamped a hand over his mouth to stem the flow. It brought a reaction in the other man, whose thrusts became tight and close, faster and harder. Then he stopped. Hijikata tried to decipher his expression in the darkness. He withdrew. Hijikata sat up to speak but was handled and flipped onto his belly. He felt Gin's hands take hold of his ass and draw it up, forcing inside.

Wait…

The movements were smooth, and faster. He could feel that sensation again.

Wait!

The grip of Gin's hands tightened.

"Stop." Hijikata told him.

The building, rising sense of pleasure.

"Stop!"

He swung an arm to hit Gin but was caught again. The other man pulled on his wrist, thrusting harder.

"Bastard if you don't stop I'll come all over the futon…"

Gin said nothing, but responded by fucking him harder. Hijikata gripped the pillow, trying to raise himself, trying to push back the orgasm. But the other man held him, pinned him and fucked him, and he allowed himself to be helpless against it.

"Ah.."

The rhythm of Gin's thrusts became erratic as he reached climax, snatching breaths between waves of pleasure. He withdrew and lay beside Hijikata. He could make out Gin's shape better now his eyes had adjusted to the gloom. Lids half closed, eyebrows set in exhaustion, breath drawing in through parted full lips and raising his toned chest, then escaping and letting it fall. His eyes flicked towards Hijikata.

"Go."

"Hmm?"

"Out."

Hijikata stood and found his discarded clothes, dressing quickly. He watched Gin as he lay in the same position, his breathing slowing. He slid the door open and paused for a moment. Gin didn't look up.

Hijikata slipped on his sandals and left. The night was still, and cool. He lit a cigarette and drew in deeply puffing it out with a disguised sigh, feeling the heat dissipate from his body. He touched his palm to his open chest.

I can still feel your sweat on me.

~*~

The night lights of Edo were bright. Vibrant neons traced twisted patterns across his vision, flashing and blinking at him with messages he couldn't decipher through drink-blurred eyes. The more he tried to focus, the more the lines decayed into nonsense. It was spectacular, at least. He felt a grin slip over his features, though he wasn't sure why.

Something large and black loomed in slowly from the side and interfered with the display. Gin was not impressed. He wanted to watch the lights some more, and tried to bat away whatever it was that had intruded. His flailing hands failed to connect with anything. A murmur came from the black blob. Then another.

"What the hell's wrong with you?"

The voice was familiar. And irritating. Something held his hands still. There was the smell of cigarette smoke.

"Why are you lying on the floor in the middle of the street?"

"Shaddap…bastar..d." He managed. In his head it was a gleefully witty retort. He felt a hand beneath his back, and the world tipped over. He wondered where the lights had gone. His arm was pulled outwards, and he felt something connect underneath it. The world moved again, and he found himself staring at his feet.

"Are those mine?"

"What?" The voice said. It was close to his ear now. He couldn't remember whose it was, but he recognised the feeling in the pit of his stomach. "Can you at least stand on your own?"

Gin pulled his arm free from the hand grasping it and shrugged off the support of his helper. "'M fine." He muttered. The lights were back, but they were moving around a lot. He put out his hands to help steady them.

"I can't help you back tonight, I'm on duty." Shut up. "You're really in a state though." Soft laughter. You piss me off.

Gin straightened his back and stretched, then held his hands out in front of his face. They were less blurry than before.

"Besides, after last time…" The man's voice trailed off. Last time? What are you…?...Oh. "Well…see ya. Don't drink any more or I'll have to lock you up for the night."

The man walked away slowly, hands in his uniform pockets, cigarette in mouth and katana swinging at his hip. Eventually the crowd swallowed him.

"Like I need your help to get home, asshole." Gin meant to say, but the words stumbled from his mouth in an inaudible mulch. He looked down at his feet again. What the hell are you looking at? Just fucking move already. They obliged.

Somehow, he'd managed to find his way back. He climbed the familiar stairs, taking care to avoid the noisy spots that might give him away to the old hags downstairs.

Just a little more…

He collapsed on his futon. Welcome warmth and darkness took him with open arms, and he prepared to embrace the deep sleep that would take him through to midday. There was just one problem. The sake had made his body hot. Images raced through his mind and wouldn't settle.

He loosened his haori and unbuckled his belt, slipping his fingers beneath.

Ms Ketsuno Ana, beautiful weather temptress and he, the studio chief.

"Oh Gin-san, I long for you. Please take me now, I'll do anything!" She sighed, slipping down the patterned silk kimono to reveal her small, pert and perfectly proportioned brea-The alley was dark. Only the two of them. No crowds, no noise, just he and the Shinsengumi. The other man backed up against the wall, looking at him, eyes pleading, breath shuddering in his chest through open mouth.

"Take me, Gin-san,"

Gin's eyes snapped open.

That was unexpected…

He looked down at his cock, as though it was somehow to blame. He unzipped and eased his pants off, and shifted around a little as though that would shake the unwelcome thoughts free. After all, this fantasy was heavily tested and known to be 100% effective.

His hands at her shoulders, urging her to kneel between his legs. She blushes, shakes her head.

"Oh I couldn't possibly fit it all in at once!" She cries.

The Shinsengumi unzips and steps free of his pants and underwear. His shirt-tails trail on his erection, but he pays them no attention. He comes over and straddles Gin, cheeks full of blush and eyes full of desire. Gin's hand rises into the black hair draped luxuriously over his face. His fingers tighten. He forces the man's head backwards, watching the lump in his throat bob as he swallows. The Shinsengumi's lips part.

"Please…"

The fuck…

He wondered if he should stop again, but it felt good. His erection was hard and slick with pre-come.

Gin felt the weight of her, the warmth of the Shinsengumi's thighs; tight and muscular around him. He brings his forehead to Gin's, and rubs their erections together slowly, gently by moving his hips.

"I want to…I want to fuck you in this chair…"

Gin's hands are up the back of his shirt then round to the front, feeling stiff nipples as they pass. The Shinsengumi in his lap moans gently. He unbuttons the shirt and puts his tongue to the other man's chest.

Hijikata rises up momentarily, taking Gin's erection and manoeuvring himself to be above it. His eyebrows crease as he prepares himself.

Gin slowed the movement of his hands, tightening his grip in just his forefinger and thumb, trying to recall the sensation.

He encourages Hijikata by working his cock and he eases himself down, slowly.

His movements increased again, and he reached down with his other hand to touch behind his balls. He was unaware of the hard breath being drawn in between his lips and rushing out again.

All the way in. Hijikata begins to move, thrusting down over Gin. He feels tight and hot inside. His hands grip Gin's shoulders as his hand moves faster and as Gin begins to add his own rhythm to Hijikata's thrusts.

"Stop…"

Tight. So fucking tight.

"Stop…"

He was almost at his limit, head arching back and brows knitted. His hips were moving in rhythm with his fantasy.

"Bastard, if you don't stop I'll come all over…"

"Then come all over. Fuck, I want you to come all over me."

Hijikata came.

And so did Gin.

Shit.

~*~

It was a bad day to be in a Shinsengumi uniform. The luxurious black jacket, pants and double-breasted waistcoat were perfect for winter. Not so much for summer. In summer, the heat-absorbing quality of the uniform soaked up all the energy of the sun and transferred it happily to the wearer, making a merely uncomfortable temperature unbearable.

It had been Kondo's idea. Trying to make the Shinsengumi more accessible to the people by being on display in one of Edo's more tranquil areas. Trying to reassure them by making their presence felt. It had been a fine idea until the heat-wave had descended, but now most of Edo's police force, its only barrier between reluctant peace and rampant chaos, was wilting. Not exactly the image they wanted to portray, especially after the Chief himself had stripped off to the waist and proceeded to go around introducing himself to everybody. At least it had made his position in the park easy to locate; you just pointed yourself in the direction of the screaming women.

Hijikata sighed deeply and lit another cigarette, then shot a glance at Okita. Bastard wasn't even sweating.

Inhuman…

"You should take it easy, Hijikata-san. You could boil in your own skin in this heat."

"Then why are you offering me gloves, bastard?!" He yelled, batting away the pair of offending woollen mittens. He shrugged off his jacket and slung it over his shoulder. Only four more hours until he was off-duty. Four more hours of hot, bored misery played out to a monotonous score performed by the park cicadas.

Through the heat-haze, he thought he recognised someone in the crowd but they were gone too quickly for him to be sure. Around him, the uniformed horde was dissolving from heat exhaustion. Only he and Okita were able to maintain a professional appearance.

He'd been right, it was him after all. Sitting alone on a park bench not too far away, finger up one nostril scouting vigorously for treasure. Not that it mattered to Hijikata that he was there at all. He turned to glare at the remains of their bedraggled outfit that hadn't already given in and run off for ice cream, taking a careful mental note of those who had. Later, the demon Vice-Chief would introduce them to a whole new level of hell.

He glanced over his shoulder at the park bench. Gin was looking right at him. He felt a sudden jolt in his gut and slowly turned his head back, pretending he hadn't noticed. His back felt weird, as though there was a pressure on it. It was almost the same feeling as the one he got before receiving an expected blow – a sort of tingling sensitivity. He tapped the toe of his shoe in the dirt and lowered his head as though he was inspecting something. He drew an arc with it that caused his body to rotate in the direction Gin was sitting, and glanced up from under his tipped brows. Gin was still looking at him. The jolt in his gut felt different this time, almost like excitement. His body snapped back into position without him meaning it to, and he cursed under his breath.

Hijikata composed himself, drawing in deeply on the cigarette. He didn't quite understand the gut response he'd had, but it didn't matter. He put it down to being eyed by the enemy; enough to make anyone feel uncomfortable. And anyway, if anything the shitty Yorozuya wouldn't be staring at him. He scanned the area for attractive women. All he saw was Shinsengumi.

He left it for a while until he next sneaked a look. Gin hooked his elbows behind the back of the bench and lowered himself slightly, spreading his knees wide.

There's no way…

When he looked again, Gin had obtained a popsicle. A pink one. Which he was licking slowly, from base to tip.

"Excuse me, sir?" Hijikata span around, finding a quizzical-looking woman and her young daughter standing in front of him.

It took him a moment to regain his composure and empty some thoughts from his head. "Yes? What?"

"We're visiting from Osaka. Could you direct us to a dango shop around here?"

He told them and they thanked him. The little girl smiled and skipped off, pulling her mother along. Perhaps Kondo's idea wasn't so bad, after all.

He's gone? Where did he go? Not that it matters…

"Looking for someone?"

Hijikata almost jumped clean out of his own skin. He started backwards, katana half-drawn. Gin looked him up and down with a heavy degree of cynicism. "Don't know what your problem is, I just came to find out why the Shinsengumi are clogging up the park like a turd in the bath."

Hijikata sheathed his weapon and ignored the other man, knowing that if he got angry and they got into a fight, it could easily undo the present public mood.

"Well, whatever." Gin said. "Man, it's hot out today." Hijikata's eyes strayed towards him.

Gin's eyes were closed, his hand at his neck moving smoothly down to his shoulder. His shirt opened a fraction wider, and Hijikata could make out the faint gleam of sweat on his chest. Gin caught him looking.

"That popsicle was great, I could do with another. I'm off to find somewhere cool. See ya."

Threemorehoursthreemorehoursthreemorehours

~*~

Once the shift was over, he'd practically run out of the park. All he'd been able to think about for three hours was that popsicle. Or rather, not the popsicle itself, but what it could have been. Thanks to Gin, he'd been standing in furnace-like temperatures with his hands in his pockets, trying to conceal his arousal like some under-sexed adolescent. Someone owed him, and it was time to collect.

He knocked vigorously on the door. No one answered.

"Oi, open up, asshole." He shouted. No answer. He slammed the door open, almost causing it to come off its slide tread.

"What kind of way is that to treat other people's property?" Gin complained, without looking up from his weekly Shounen JUMP.

"It's not your property!" He shouted, then added a quieter, guilty "Oh…"

"What do you want? Bursting into people's houses for no reason…" Gin crossed his ankles on top of the desk.

"What I want? What I want is-" Hijikata trailed off.

"Eh?"

"What I want is, er," He mumbled.

"What? You're pissing me off, I'm trying to read here."

"I'm pissing you off?! What about that shit in the park?"

"Eh?"

"With the leg-opening and the popsicle-licking and the staring…"

"What the hell are you talking about?" Gin said through clenched teeth, looking up at Hijikata.

"What? I…er…" He faltered. "Fuck you know exactly what I'm talking about asshole. Trying to seduce me on-duty-"

"Did it work?" Gin cut in, staring at the other man.

"Hah! See, I knew it! Wait, what?"

"Good, that's all I wanted to know. Try to close the door more quietly than you opened it. See ya." Gin returned to reading JUMP.

Hijikata stood for a moment, fists clenching.

Asssshooooooole…if you think I'm going to lose you've got another thing coming…

He sat down on the couch.

"I guess it can't be helped." He said.

Gin tipped the JUMP forward so his face was visible. "Why are you sitting?"

"I'll just have to do it here…" He said, ignoring Gin and loosening his belt.

"What sort of thing is that to do in someone else's house?"

"You afraid I'll turn you on?" Hijikata said softly, angling his head slightly towards Gin. Gin gave him a flat look and raised the JUMP again.

"As if I'd want you, bastard."

The sound of a zip and shuffling of clothes, then for a while, nothing. But Gin discovered that if he listened closely enough he could make out a soft rhythmic sound as the fabric of Hijikata's sleeve rubbed against the fabric of his waistcoat. If he listened closer he could hear the other man's breath. A faint "Mm" escaped from between Hijikata's lips. Gin was suddenly aware of a certain tightness to his groin. He realised that he hadn't turned a page in a while and did so slowly, coolly so as not to give anything away.

He thought about it. What Hijikata might look like, masturbating on his couch. And as soon as the thought was in it wouldn't leave his mind, forcing him to imagine it. It wasn't hard, given the noises coming from the other man not five feet away. The only thing preventing him from seeing was the JUMP. He lowered it slightly, so he could see the top of Hijikata's head. Then a little more and a little more, until the JUMP was out of the picture completely and he was essentially just watching. Watching the other man's quest for pleasure and self-gratification, as he looked on. Watching his hand move and his legs spread, his eyebrows furrow and his lips part. Watching his other hand slip down between his thighs. Watching him in his Shinsengumi uniform. Watching was far too fucking good.

He raised the JUMP again, somewhat reluctantly. He'd wait until Hijikata finished, then see him out, composed and uninterested. Then he'd sort himself out.

"Gintoki…"

The whispered word shattered his illusion of self-control. The JUMP fell to the floor, forgotten. Gin vaulted the desk and grabbed Hijikata from between his legs, wrapping his arms around the waist of the half-naked man and hoisting him up. There was no protest as he was carried to the bedroom, and dropped onto the futon. Gin stood, looking down at him. Hijikata smirked.

Then a thought crossed Gin's mind. I haven't lost yet. He lay down beside Hijikata, in the opposite orientation. He pulled the other man on top of him, and slid his tongue along Hijikata's erection. He was satisfied with the delicious jolt in the other man, and felt him pulling at his clothes to remove the barriers securing his own hard cock. Then he felt himself slipping into Hijikata's mouth, surrounded by warmth and wet and tongue.

Haha, you are a fool Gintoki, it's much easier to manoeuvre on the top than it is on the bottom…you've given yourself the disadvantage. You will definitely be the one to come first, even though you started last.

He's so hard and wet, he'll definitely come before I do. It's easier for me to use my hands from down here.

Fuck, that feels too good, I'll have to go faster but

Shit, I gave myself the better view, I can't hold out much longer but

I'll definitely win!

I'll definitely win!

Gin realised extreme measures would have to be taken. He tensed his body and moaned around Hijikata's erection.

Yes!

Not quite…

No orgasm. He'd faked.

SHIT!

Haha, bastard…

The premature release had fooled Hijikata into lowering his defences.

Fuck! Ah fuck…fuckfuckfuck YES

Hijikata had lost. He raised himself, shuddering, and straddled Gin's chest. He was wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, eyes victorious.

"Shithead."

"Like you didn't enjoy it."

Hijikata slipped onto him. The grin faded from Gin's face as the other man rocked his hips slowly back and forth, top-half senior security officer and bottom half deliciously naked senior security officer. Gin's hand wandered up his body as he moved. Every flick of his hips was hot and divine. His fingers touched the man's uniform, and he admired the black material and gold braiding. Up further still, to his neck, above the meaningless ruffles of his collar to the lump in his throat. He could feel the other man's breath.

Bakufu dog.

He pressed gently with his thumb.

Fucking me like you fucked all of us.

A hand reached up to his arm, and stroked firmly along to his hand, fingers mingling with his and bringing them up to his face. Hijikata kissed his fingers and slipped his thumb into his mouth, licking against it with hit hot, wet tongue. There was a pleasant smile on his lips. Gin remembered himself, and Hijikata brought him to orgasm.

~*~

Why does it always come to this? It's like we can't be alone together any more.

Hijikata lay between his thighs, kissing gently at his neck. The weight of a man on top of him was almost becoming familiar. Hijikata's hands wandered under his yukata, pressing at his nipples through his shirt. He traced the tip of his tongue up to Gin's jaw, pushing back silver hair, kissing and biting up to his ear lobe.

I won't complain. It's a welcome distraction in the dark.

Hijikata's kisses strayed onto his cheek, almost to his lips. Gin turned his head away, and the other man returned to his ear, then his chest, pulling down the shoulders of his shirt. He looked up, and went to kiss Gin on the mouth. Gin put his hand across Hijikata's lips.

"What are you doing?" He asked.

"What does it look like?" Hijikata replied through Gin's fingers, puzzled and annoyed.

"Something I don't want, bastard, so focus elsewhere."

Hijikata put his arm across Gin's chest and lay his chin on it, fixing the other man's gaze. "What's so wrong with it?"

"Are you listening to me? I don't want it. Look, just forget it." Gin sat up, pushing Hijikata off. He stood and straightened his clothes, then noticed Hijikata kneeling, watching him. "What?"

The other man stood slowly, pulling his uniform back into place. "You're so fucking melancholy." He said eventually, not looking up from fixing his waistcoat.

"The fuck are you talking about?"

Hijikata pointed a finger at Gin's face. "That." He said. "That look."

"What 'look'-"

"Like there isn't anything in the whole world that would be enough for you to give a shit about."

Gin's expression darkened. "What the hell would you know?" He said. His voice had a smooth conviction to it that Hijikata hadn't heard before.

"The world changes." He replied, levelly. "We just have to get along in it."

Gin turned away. He came up behind him and lay a hand on his shoulder, feeling the muscle stiffen beneath it. "You have to give up being so damn sad about it." Gin's body twisted, propelling a fist into the side of Hijikata's mouth, the force of it slamming him back into the wall. He had been completely unprepared for an attack. Fingers found blood on his lip from it being smashed into his teeth. He wiped it off on his Shinsengumi jacket. The colour was good for hiding blood. Gin was watching him carefully, side-on. No sign of remorse or guilt.

"Get out." He was told.

~*~

The wind was sharp and chill. Hijikata felt its icy fingers drag across his face, and closed his eyes to it. Buffeting gusts played up the arms and front of his Shinsengumi jacket, flapping his collar against his cheek. His cigarette glowed angrily between his teeth, embers of burned tobacco stealing away into the bleak sky. He slid his hands into his pockets and opened his eyes again.

Gin was still sitting there, perfectly still except for the parts moving to the puppetry of the wind – the rippling fabric of his yukuta, his touseled, untamable hair. Hijikata stared at his back and tried to imagine his expression.

"So this is where you've been. Pretty high up." The Vice Chief ventured, flicking his cigarette away. No response. "Y'know, your kids are worried about you…"

Gin stood, and Hijikata had a sudden surge of vertigo. He'd finally found him on top of one of the tallest buildings in Edo, and he was standing right on the edge in the wind. If a stiff gust came it could be the end of him. Hijikata knew well what the other man had been looking at. The immense terminal stood like a dark monolith against the grey, troubled skies, looming impassively over the sprawling human buildings far beneath it.

"What do you want?" He said, without turning round.

"You still sulking?" Hijikata asked, loading his voice with the clipped tones that he knew irritated the other man. It worked, the effects more successful than usual. Gin span on the spot, drawing his wooden katana and lunged at Hijikata. The Shinsengumi barely found enough time to draw his own weapon before the other man's blade would have smashed into his face. The strength of force was immense, and it took all his resolve not to step back from it.

His eyes made contact with Gin's. They were dark with controlled rage, burning viciously beneath his tipped brow. Hijikata felt Gin's boot connect with his gut, and he was forced back a couple of steps. He recollected himself and took a stance, controlling his breathing to hide the fact that the kick had winded him.

Gin's body was calm. He stood straight, shoulders square and katana down by his side. Hijikata knew men like him; knew that they were the ones who were truly dangerous – the ones to whom fighting and bloodshed were as seamless and natural as taking breath. Hijikata was one of them.

The wind picked up again, stirring the detritus at their feet in tight whorls. Gin went for him again, strike aimed at Hijikata's neck. He ducked and moved to the side, bringing his own blade up to drive at the other man's chest. Gin caught it with his palm to the flat and pushed it away, countering with a swift kick to Hijikata's jaw. The Shinsengumi dropped and rolled away, tasting a familiar metallic tang in his mouth. He checked he hadn't bitten his tongue.

He looked up from his kneeling position and saw Gin stepping towards him, katana ready. Hijikata moved deftly, kicking his feet out from under him and Gin fell back, smashing into the roof. The Vice Chief could feel a familiar sensation building in him. A smile split his features, all teeth and venom. He brought his katana up and over his head in a sweeping arc, the blade falling where Gin had been only moments ago. Gin swung at his waist and he dodged it, stepping back.

His foot met with nothing but empty air.

~*~

Hijikata's guts wrenched, and the world slowed. Moments crept past like lifetimes, each one bringing with it a deeper sense of dread and panic as he felt himself tip over the edge of the roof. He began to imagine just how it would feel as his body smashed open on the sidewalk below. Gin lunged forward and grabbed his hand, using his own body as a pivot to fling him back onto the roof.

He rolled over and over on the flat grey surface, coming to a stop with his cheek pressed to the concrete. The cold grit against his face was a welcome feeling.

"You're such a fucking coward." Gin said, coolly. He was barely audible above the buffeting winds.

Hijikata stood quickly and glared at him. "Eh? Explain that one."

"You were a fighter, just like I was. Now you lie down and lick the feet of the Bakufu, the Amanto. You arrest those with the balls to stand up against the occupation. You make me fucking sick."

Hijikata laughed. Gin made to hit him, but he caught his hand and twisted his grip, forcing the other man to the floor. "You're so clueless, stupid asshole." He sneered, straddling Gin's hips so he couldn't move.

Hijikata took up his katana, and half-drew it in front of Gin's face. "What fucking good do you think this is against them? Huh? Against their projectile, explosive and energy weapons? What fucking good is your bushido against those without honour?" Hijikata threw away the weapon, sending it clattering across the floor. "It's nothing! It's all useless!" He shouted.

Gin looked away. Hijikata grabbed him by the collar and shook him. "You think I don't care? You think I don't give a shit that they trample us underfoot, secondary citizens on our own world? While they strip-mine our planet for metals and minerals and oil and water? But what the fuck can we do? Katana are nothing to their technology. Honour and bushido are nothing to their politics. The Amanto are a pan-galactic civilisation you moron. Humans are nothing more than a fly in the soup; an eyesore preventing them from enjoying things the way they really want to.

"Can't you understand it? The resistance is meaningless. A few explosions on a tiny world? When they live on hundreds, thousands! It doesn't even register! And even if your little friend did manage to cause some real damage, blow up the terminal or something…we're on the map. We're on the fucking map. They can travel faster than light, they'll be back here before we're even done celebrating. And do you know what they'll do when they get here? They'll kill every fucking one of us. We're nothing but ants to them. Uncivilised, backwater retards who want to live in the past, back when an individual could define his own existence by effort."

Hijikata stood and walked to the edge, staring out over Edo. Gin watched him as he struggled to light a cigarette and then gave up, lobbing his mayonnaise-lighter angrily into the darkening skies.

"The only thing that stops that happening is us. The fucking Shinsengumi. If we stop the terrorist attacks, capture the rebels, keep the peace and placate the Bakufu then the Amanto won't fly down through the clouds one day with a tiny fraction of their battlefleet and wipe us all from history. We're all there is. We're that thin, red line between order and chaos, between survival and extinction." He turned to Gin, who was still lying on the roof. Spots of darker grey graced the concrete as it started to rain.

"And then there's you." Hijikata said, voice thick with contempt. "You live a dead-man's existence after surviving a war you lost, pissing your life away as you scramble for meaning in it, refusing to accept that things are different now, and they can never go back. Now tell me, who's the fucking coward?!" He yelled.

The other man stood, threading his wooden katana through his belt. "This is how we survive." Hijikata told him, with a weariness to his voice. "We can't resist it, we can't change it, but we can still live. We have to live. As long as we can protect the things that matter."

Gin fixed his gaze, and held it. Hijikata suddenly looked tired, his rain-dishevelled uniform hanging from sunken shoulders and black hair plastered to his face. As Gin approached him he stood straight again, reaching for his katana and jolting when he remembered he'd thrown it away. Gin grabbed him by the soaked ruffles of his shirt collar, and held their faces close. He felt Hijikata's body relax, and watched his eyes close.

Then Gin kissed him.

~*~

Soaked. Dripping wet, both of them. Clothes clung to skin like needy lovers; sodden hair pushed back and away with great annoyance to stem the flow of rain rivulets. Lips met lips and tongue met tongue, both pulling the other into the kiss by shirt or hair.

Gin backed Hijikata up against the bedroom wall, breathless. Hijikata's hands went to Gin's ass, pressing them together. Gin smelled of wet and cold. Eager fingers pulled his yukata down from his shoulder, clasping in it and squeezing some of the rain free from the fabric. It dripped onto the floor mat between them, joining the pooling water that had already fallen from their grasping bodies.

A hard shove to his shoulders and Gin was pushed away, breaking the kiss. Hijikata removed his jacket with difficulty, almost tearing himself free of it out of frustration. They kissed again, hard. Gin pulled off Hijikata's shirt and waistcoat. The back of his hand graced the erection hidden beneath Shinsengumi pants. Hijikata grunted against his lips and ground his hips into Gin's.

Their remaining clothes fell to the floor, discarded one by one. They stood naked, their cold, hard bodies pressing together in the dark, each holding the other as though they might turn and run at any moment.

Hijikata pulled Gin to the futon.

A delicate yellow glow from a street light filtered through the slats in Gin's bedroom window, splitting the quiet dark of the room and resting on the bed-sheets where the feet of two lovers made tiny undulations. The one with the dark hair sat up, and supposed he should probably leave before he out-stayed his welcome. He looked down at the face of the silver-haired man lying beside him, whose arm was slung over his waist. The only sound he could hear was a faint snore. He lay back down, gently so as not to wake him.

~Fin~