Aren't I nice? Here I am with a cold and a feeling as if a truck's ran me over twice and I still update! My masochism aside, I have yet to start chapter 8 (courtesy of exams and the cold right now) but I have a pretty good idea of how to organise the scenes and all that, but it's just a tad difficult on paper. I will now shut up and let you read.

Lesson 7: Beware of the Bermuda Triangle

Hijikata lowered his katana seeing as the man before him was obviously an ally, or rather one of the Yorozuya's many acquaintances. This man looked fairly normal in comparison to the other people the man frequented, but somehow, he was expecting that some other strange personality trait or habit would suddenly pop up.

"Mah, Kintoki, that's cruel don't you think?"

'Kintoki? Wasn't that how his landlady called him earlier this week?' Hijikata thought, ignoring the Yorozuya's blunt reply.

"Sakamoto Tatsuma," the man introduced himself, "Chief of Kaientai, and-"

"The world's biggest idiot." Gintoki finished for him.

"I was actually gonna say 'visiting Earth for business' but I guess that is also true." The man once again started laughing, making Hijikata wonder if those that worked under him never got any headaches, because that laugh was surely giving him one right now. One second too long he had actually thought this man could be of any help. Maybe the gods had finally listened to his prayers and sent him a normal, helpful ally, but alas, as soon as he discovered this Sakamoto-guy was on familiar terms with the Yorozuya, he had immediately dismissed that thought and had thrown away that last sparkle of hope and crushed it.

"What are you doing here anyway, Tatsuma?" Gintoki inquired, or more like, demanded.

"As I said before, I was looking for the bathroom." Sakamoto continued to laugh.

"There is a giant hole in that explanation of yours! How the hell do you expect us to believe that kind of explanation?!" Hijikata had finally lost his temper, and had done the appropriate thing for his character, and that was to tell the man off.

"Well, actually," Sakamoto knitted his eyebrows together, a solemn expression on his face, "I was on my space ship, and suddenly, everything went black. The only thing I remember is a distinct pain between my legs and then the feeling as if I were falling. I think my space ship crashed somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle and that is how I got transported here!" The man finished his sentence with a big smile and his usual laugh, only to get kicked by Gintoki.

"Bermuda Triangle my ass! That ball-kicking female co-worker of yours just kicked you in the family jewels after you got drunk! "

"Mah, that doesn't really explain how I got here, Kintoki."

"I should be the one saying that." Gintoki grabbed Sakamoto by the collar and glared at him. Hijikata realized this was one of the rare times he had seen the man lose his temper. He was usually calm, uninterested, or asleep. He might have gotten angry as well on their many run-ins, but that was only when he was either drunk or sugar-deprived.

Hijikata lit up a cigarette out of habit, and waited until Gintoki was finished. Meanwhile, the black haired man looked around the room a bit; although it was dark, he had already been here a few times this week, so he looked for anything out of the ordinary. Surely, if they had just been threatened by a man with a gun, there should be something either valuable or illegal hidden here. He guessed it was probably both.

The fact that one of them was armed with a gun was also out of the ordinary, really. Most of the tugs he fought were always rather keen on keeping the samurai spirit high, and guns didn't really fit that image. Talking about guns, apparently, those guys in that konbini were their comrades of some sort, and they too had been carrying guns, or there were just some random gunmen walking around the city. Hijikata wondered if they were somehow involved with the Amanto, or they must have a rich guy pulling the strings and supplying them with guns.

"Oi, Suzuki, did you finish those two guys off already?" All three men – or at least two of them, Sakamoto was sort of being stamped into the ground – looked up at the voice.

The door opened.

"Stop slacking off and ge-" Tug Two stepped in, was about to pull out his own weapon when he saw Tug One unconscious on the floor, but Gintoki hit him over the head with his bokuto, rendering him out cold as well.

Hijikata unsheathed his katana and spit out his burnt-up cigarette. "I'm gonna investigate, you two do whatever you want." Hijikata knew this was not a very good idea, but he was dying for some action. He'd been cooped up in those damn barracks, only getting out for patrol, and even then nothing remotely interesting had presented itself. This reeked of interesting.

Gintoki sighed, let go of Sakamoto's collar and followed his charge.

"Why are you following me?"

"If you wanna die, Oogushi-kun, do it outside of my working hours." Hijikata just cursed under his breath, but didn't mind the Yorozuya coming along. It was always handy to have someone with you at times like these. Sakamoto seemed to be still conscious, and just followed them after finding where his sunglasses had landed when Gintoki had uppercut him a few seconds ago.

"Hahaha! Kintoki! Don't be so cruel to Oogushi-san here!"

"It's Hijikata, you idiot!" The demon vice-commander opened the door which Tug Two had used to enter. Gintoki glared at Sakamoto, but didn't comment further.

They stepped inside, arriving in a relatively small room. There was a large table in the middle, a few chairs, and some boxes had been placed on the table.

"There were only two of them?" Gintoki voiced their thoughts. Hijikata nodded, but still kept his katana unsheathed. He looked around the room, and after having checked for any possible hidden passages. He put the katana away.

Gintoki did the same with his bokuto, and as curiosity took over, he went over to the table, wanting to open one of the wooden boxes.

"Don't touch those! That's evidence you know!" Hijikata yelled at him, but Gintoki ignored him.

"Oh come on, it's obvious they have something illegal in here right? Like hell it will explode if I touch it."

Hijikata actually didn't dismiss that possibility.

Gintoki opened the box – although a little more careful than Hijikata would have expected – and peered inside.

"Sugar." he stated bluntly.

"We already know you're diabetic! What the fuck is in there?!"

"Like I said; sugar." Gintoki looked over his shoulder, slightly insulted, at Hijikata who stared back in disbelief. The vice-commander obviously didn't believe the freelancer and took a look himself. The wooden box was filled with some sort of little plastic bags, with a label 'sugar' on them. Hijikata pulled out his katana and made a little cut in one of the bags; like hell they were protecting sugar with arms. He took a bit of the white powder, tasted it, and spat it out.

"Doesn't taste like it in the least."

"You drown all your food in mayo, how do you expect to still taste anything besides that?" Gintoki remarked, earning a glare from Hijikata, a death threat and various other insults. Sakamoto on the other hand, completely ignored the two and also took a peek inside the box.

"Ahahahaha! This is one of the boxes I delivered Monday! How did that get here?"

Both Gintoki and Hijikata turned to him, both of their eyes covered by a dark shadow.

"... Is something wrong?" The man shifted a bit.

"Tatsuma, you do realize you were trafficking drugs, right?" Gintoki asked after a moment of silence.

The tall man scratched his hair. "Mah, it says sugar right? I always trust my clients, even if they ask me to go get a package in the outskirts of the universe in a town with a lot of shady China men, I think it was called 'Shangri-La' or something..."

"Did your brain get separated from you when you fell through the Bermuda Triangle?! Only a brainless idiot would go pick up shady packages like that!"

Sakamoto started laughing again, only to get kicked in the gut by Gintoki who could no longer stand his idiocy. The man doubled over in pain, holding his stomach.

"Ah, that was harsh, Kintoki. Mutsu said it was alright you know. I think I did hear her say something about 'taking over the company when the cops catch the brainless idiot' but I don't really know what she was talking about." He got up again, still holding his stomach but still smiling like usual. "Ah, she's such a great employee. I can always rely on her, although she does kick me a lot sometimes."

Gintoki didn't even want to play the role of the straight-man in Shinpachi's absence, so he didn't comment on how Mutsu was actually planning to overthrow him and take over the company. Hijikata watched as Gintoki assaulted the man once again after he had called him 'Kintoki' , and glanced at the contents of the box again. He briefly wondered if he ought to call for some back-up; surely there were more people behind this than two armed men. The first thing he told new recruits was to never try and be the hero. That always ended in disaster. He wasn't going to discard his own good advice so he searched his pockets for his transceiver, but all he could find was his mayo-bottle-shaped lighter. He dug around in his pockets again. He didn't find the black box, and groaned as he realized he had left it on his desk, seeing as he was only leaving the barracks for a few minutes. The fact that his subordinates were at the other end of town didn't help the situation either.

He cursed Yamazaki for overlooking this. They had been right under his nose, and he hadn't bothered to investigate. He vowed to kill the badminton-playing spy off again as soon as this whole fiasco had been dealt with.

Yamazaki sneezed – hard. The spy sniffled a little. He felt like something bad was about to happen, but he had no idea what exactly. Of course, they were about to roll up a gang of drug-traffickers. There was something wrong with the whole situation in general.

"Oi, Yamazaki, don't go spacing out before we barge in." Captain Okita alerted him, after noticing his dazed look, "You're a ghost so you're gonna charge in first, they can't kill you with objects anyway." He added casually, and unsheathed his katana. All men were ready, Okita and his troops were going to charge in using the main exit, and the Commander was waiting in the back, read to interfere if there were more than they could handle, or if a few of them managed to escape.

A shadow of despair hung over Yamazaki's face. "He…wait, what?!" The undead spy started to panic a little. "S-sir, I don't think this is a very good idea..." He started saying, but was cut off by his superior.

"While they try and beat you up, we can charge in and finish them. If something goes wrong, Kondo-san will be able to interfere with his troops in the back of the warehouse."

Yamazaki still didn't look all that relieved. "I don't think this is going to work out..."

"Ah, don't worry about it, Yamazaki," And Okita put a hand on the terrified man's shoulder, "We'll come in and help you after ten minutes or so."

"But they could have already finished me off in that time!" The man yelled, but it seemed the captain had already joined his troops again, who were hiding as best as they could. Aside from them, the harbour looked completely deserted. Yamazaki gulped and slowly walked towards the warehouse. He looked around him once more, before slowly going inside. The gate was open, so it wasn't really all that difficult to sneak in.

It was dark inside, and Yamazaki wasn't very keen on stepping any further. It reeked of suspiciousness – which wasn't really surprising seeing as they used this place to do their transactions. Who were they dealing with anyway? He had seen those guys and found out they were picking up their cargo here, but who were their partners? Amanto maybe? He wondered if they might be dealing with the Harusame, it wouldn't be the first time.

"Come to pick it up?" It was a female voice, but it was firm and the tone resembled the one their vice-commander used when he ordered them to commit seppuku. Yamazaki felt himself trembling a little, but he had to bluff his way through this – she couldn't see his uniform through the darkness, so he could buy himself some more time.

"Y-yeah, where is it?" He asked, keeping his voice as steady as possible, but failing just a little bit.

'Captain, please come quick.' He prayed in his mind.

"Don't be a wuss, Yamazaki. You're dead anyway, better die the second time like a hero." The spy felt like a bucket of ice cold water had just been dumped over his head as a very familiar voice seemed to come from his jacket. He dug around in his pocket and found a walkie-talkie. 'When did he put that in there?! And moreover, how the hell did he know what I was thinking?!' Yamazaki screamed in his mind, holding the walkie-talkie in his trembling hand, trying not to crush it out of frustration.

The walkie-talkie crackled again. "Hurry up already, Yamazaki. We're gonna barge in in a few minutes."

'Captain! Don't go revealing such information when the enemy is listening!'

"Oi," Yamazaki started sweating as he felt a gun being pressed against his temple, and he raised his hands slowly without the need of a command.

"What do ya mean 'enemy'? Where are the two usual guys?" As the woman was now closer to him, Yamazaki could see her a bit better. She was rather short, wore a hat with a wide brim that covered part of her face, and she seemed to have long hair that was tied. She had gloves that covered part of her hand, and if she wasn't pressing a gun against the side of his head, he was sure he would've been able to overpower her easily. Still, she didn't sound as if she was one to be mock ed.

"Answer." She didn't raise her voice, but she pushed the gun a bit harder against his temple.

Yamazaki held his breath, hoping that his Captain – or anyone, it didn't matter who – would soon come to the rescue.

"Oi, Yamazaki, you're being held at gunpoint by a little woman, this is what you call manly?" Okita's voice mockingly came from the black box that was still in Yamazaki's right hand.

"Captain! With all due respect, this isn't the time to make remarks like that!" Yamazaki yelled, but the box was taken from his hand.

"Oi," The woman sounded quite lethal, "If you're that set on calling me a little woman, come down here yourself, brat!" And with that, she threw the box down and crushed it with her foot.

Yamazaki gulped. He wasn't sure anymore which was the most terrifying at the moment; the woman herself or the gun she was holding. Why hadn't he just stayed home to practice some badminton? The spy felt his arms growing tired, but after a swift glance at the gun, he forgot his tiredness and held them up.

He looked around the room. His eyes had grown adjusted to the darkness a bit – why did people only meet each other in dark places anyway? And he noticed they weren't alone. A few feet in front of him, there were a few wooden boxes stacked. There were also a few men loitering around, but he doubted they were just here for the show. Come to think of it, they didn't really look like drug- traffickers. But then again, drug-traffickers didn't wear a label on their foreheads either.

'They're gonna be here any second,' Yamazaki told himself, not even wanting to think what would happen if Okita would actually get him killed. It wasn't fair actually, why did he have to die twice in one story? 'I'm sure they won't let me get killed.' He convinced himself a last time.

"Oi, Yamazaki, don't go spoiling the mood now by being a coward." Okita's voice could be heard from outside, "We're waiting for your second dramatic death to spice up the story a bit; we haven't had a real *** scene just yet, and like hell anyone reads a story that hasn't 'character death' or 'explicit sex' as a warning."

"Captain! That can't be considered breaking the fourth wall anymore! You've probably reached the fifth by now!" Yamazaki yelled back, a shadow of despair visible under his right eye. "And why didn't you censor that last bit?!"

"Oi, Yamazaki, don't talk back at your superiors, you know. It could cost you your job."

"I don't care for my job at the moment. I'm busy praying for my life!"

The woman cut in. "That brat with you?" She asked Yamazaki, pushing the gun a bit harder against his head.

He quickly nodded.

"They're waiting for your traumatic death?" She asked, raising an eyebrow. She didn't bother waiting for an answer. "Come out or I'll have to return this guy to you with an extra hole!"

Yamazaki sweat-dropped. 'Could you please not say such strange things when I'm about to get killed here?' But he quickly forgot those thoughts as he heard the gun click. His life flashed before his eyes; the first time he had played badminton, one time when he got beat up by his vice-commander, when he had won a badminton tournament, the other time he had gotten beat up the same vice-commander...

A gunshot resonated throughout the whole building.

A few moments passed, until Okita spoke up again.

"You dead yet, Yamazaki?"

Yamazaki continued to stare at the hole the gun had made somewhere in the roof, and was too stunned to answer.

"Oi, Yamazaki, it's not polite to not answer." Okita appeared in the entryway to the warehouse, holding a megaphone in his right hand and a little white flag that said 'don't shoot please' that he was waving around lazily.

"Aww, not dead yet? Pity, we'll lose readers you know..." Okita sounded genuinely disappointed at seeing that the spy was still breathing.

"Why is everyone in this universe set on my death so badly?!" Yamazaki yelled, on the verge of tears.

"You the guy from the radio?" The woman asked again, taking her eyes off the terrified badminton player.

"Yes, what of it?" Okita asked, still speaking through the megaphone that now had no use whatsoever.

The gun clicked again, and she fired right past his head. Yamazaki jumped a bit at the sound and thought about making a run for it, but she quickly put the gun to his head again.

"That was for calling me a little woman over the radio. Now answer my question, this guy with you?"

Harada, who, together with all the other Shinsengumi soldiers, had just joined their captain, answered instead. "Yes, what do you want?"

"I'm asking the questions here, who are you guys?"

"The Shinsengumi, Edo's special police force."

The woman made a sound that sounded like a snort.

"So, what you here for, run out of terrorists to chase?" She said, mockery clear in her voice.

Harada lowered his katana a bit and stared at the woman. "Isn't it obvious?"

She raised one eyebrow, and clicked the gun again, reminding them of the fact that she was the one asking questions.

"One of our sources caught wind of the fact that you are importing illegal drugs into Edo."

The woman slowly got the gun out of Yamazaki's face – much to the spy's relief - and she pocketed it. "No drugs here pals," She said, crossing her arms over her chest, "Just some cargo for our client."

"So you wouldn't mind if we checked those then?" Harada asked, more like demanded as he cast a look at the boxes stacked up behind her.

She stepped to the side. "Go ahead."

Harada glanced at Okita, who just nodded and Harada, together with a few members, stepped forward. They walked over to the boxes, watching the men that were still standing next to them. Harada walked over to the first box he saw and opened the lid.

"Just sugar." He yelled back to Okita, looking at the content.

"Check all of them." He yelled back, eying the woman with his ever-present bored expression. He reached for his pocket and got out his walkie-talkie. "Kondo-san, we've got the situation under control, no need to barge in."

He received a panicked reply. "Eh?! But, Sougo! I haven't even had one appearanc-" But Okita just turned off the transceiver before the reply was even finished.

Harada, after leaving his men to check the other boxes, walked up to them.

"Regardless if we find something or not, you'll be coming with us. For assaulting a police officer, Miss …?" Only now the man realized that they hadn't actually asked her name yet, or what she was doing here exactly.

"Mutsu." She replied, "Those guys behind me are also from the company, and as I said, we're just here to deliver something, I didn't know you guys were Shinsengumi, and when working in my business, carrying a gun isn't unusual."

"Your profession?"

"Deputy Chief of Kaientai, a transport company."

The name rang a bell, but Harada posed one last question, while Okita poked Yamazaki in the shoulder to see if he was still alive, uttering a disappointed sigh as his finger hit the cloth of his uniform instead of going through it.

"And your chief?"

The faintest hint of a smirk was visible on her lips. "We lost him somewhere along the Bermuda Triangle."

"Aren't you going away already? Weren't you looking for the bathroom?" Gintoki asked, annoyance clear in his voice.

Sakamoto laughed, "You're being so funny today Kintoki, there isn't a bathroom here so I might as well go along with you guys, can't I?"

"No, you can't." Gintoki and Hijikata replied in unison. After their little discovery – and after Gintoki was done beating up that brown mop head – Hijikata has suggested – commanded – that they take the guys down to the barracks and hold 'em there for the night. He could interrogate them in the morning. They were still standing in the room, thinking what they were going to do next.

"Who is that guy anyway?" Hijikata asked.

"An idiot that fell from space." Gintoki replied, and after getting a look from Hijikata, he sighed. "Idiot From Space, meet Oogushi-kun. Oogushi-kun, meet Idiot From Space." Gintoki said sincerely.

"It's Hijikata;" The vice-commander grumbled, but Idiot from Space patted him on the back in a friendly way.

"Good to meet you, Oogushi-kun. The name's Sakamoto Tatsuma, I'm…"

"An idiot from space," Gintoki cut him off, "Visiting Earth to deliver some cargo and annoy me along the way."

There was a long pause, and then Sakamoto laughed.

"That's about it."

Gintoki ignored him after sending him a death glare, and Hijikata turned to the door, sending Gintoki a look over his shoulder.

"Stop fighting, you can kill him when we're at the barracks, I don't want to drag a corpse around."

"Idiots can't die, Oogushi-kun." Gintoki stated deadpan.

"Explains your presence then, I guess."

Hijikata pushed open the door to the shop's main room, still looking over his shoulder, eyeing Gintoki to make sure he wouldn't really kill Idiot Fr- the Sakamoto guy. He had said an old friend, but really, he had never actually met some of Gintoki's old friends, and he was almost sure he considered Katsura Kotaro to be someone like that, so he wasn't at all sure if he should be watching his back or not. Hijikata stepped inside, raising an eyebrow as he saw the expression on Gintoki's face change.

"Hijikata-kun," Gintoki's expression didn't reveal fright, but looked a bit troubled, "Instead of watching your back, I think you should look in front of you for once." The man said, pointing his right index finger past him, one of the corners of his mouth twitching up in a painful smile.

"He? Hahaha! Don't you guys have a busy life? I'm envious." Idio- Sakamoto added, slowly getting his hands up in the air, Gintoki doing the same. Hijikata didn't even want to turn around now. This was just getting ridiculous. He swore if he was gonna be held at gunpoint one more time this week, he was gonna snap.

He turned around and was met with a gun.

He wanted to kill Yamazaki all over again.

"You didn't even take away their guns?!" Hijikata yelled at Gintoki and Sakamoto.

Gintoki shrugged. "I figured you had."

Sakamoto just laughed again, but Hijikata sent him a murderous look that shut him up a bit.

One of the two tugs had woken up, and they were just back where they had started.

"Snooping around again, huh?" He didn't seem too happy as he nursed a bruise on his head a bit, "I've seen you guys around here a lot, this whole week, you've been keeping watch on us right?"

Yamazaki was going to have commit seppuku for reporting false information, but first Hijikata wanted to kick himself for not even noticed something, even though he had come here a few times over the past week.

"You found it, didn't you?"

Gintoki hiked his thumb in Sakamoto's direction while keeping his hands in the air. "He's just looking for the toilet."

The man didn't seem amused at his little joke.

"Shut up! You've caused enough trouble as it is, we're gonna end this now." The gun clicked. "You seem to have the luck of the devil," He said, pointing at Gintoki, "So I'll start with this one." He aimed the gun at Hijikata, and the last he heard was a shot.

"Sensei!" One of the students put his hand in the air. The teacher looked over his shoulder, the piece of chalkboard hovering over the surface of the blackboard.

"What?" Ginpachi-sensei inquired.

"I don't think this is an appropriate time to end the chapter, sensei." Kagura said. "It's a cliffhanger."

Ginpachi-sensei turned his head to the blackboard again and wrote down 'cliffhanger' in big sloppy letters. He turned back to his class with the same laid-back expression of boredom.

"A cliffhanger, you see, is not a situation where people are hanging off a cliff as the name suggests." And he hastily made a drawing to go with it and put a cross over it. "Seeing as you are idiots, I felt the need to clarify this detail. Cliffhangers are in in fact a trick invented by mangaka and animators."

He drew two arrows starting at the word 'cliffhanger', and wrote down the words 'mangaka' at the end of one arrow, and 'animator' at the end of the other.

"They use these to make readers buy the next magazine, or force viewers who haven't read the original work to record the next episode."

"But sensei," Kondo said from the back of the class, "Doesn't the next chapter turn out to be disappointing?

Ginpachi-sensei clicked his tongue, "It is quite true that often the events following the cliffhanger turn out to be disappointing, since the reader can just think about it, and might even come up with something better than the writer."

"So why don't we continue, sir?" Kagura asked, not even bothering to raise her hand, "We haven't even had any *** in this chapter yet."

Ginpachi-sensei took out his cigarette – there wasn't a lollipop attached to it this time – and exhaled some smoke. "Just because you got some *** in the previous chapters doesn't mean you'll get some in the following chapters, don't just go assuming things!"

The man sighed and turned to the blackboard again, writing down 'warnings' in bold letters.

"If *** isn't listed in the warnings, it won't be in the chapter. Warnings you see," He announced, facing his students again, "are put at the beginning of each chapter, to warn the reader of the content of the chapter. These warnings can include blood, violence, gore, explicitness etc." He exhaled some more smoke, "Pity for the readers, this story only has useless warnings." He continued, picking up a page from his desk. "For example, the third chapter; ascots, Jump aggression and mayo coffee. This doesn't give the reader a clear picture of the story."

"Sensei!" Kondo said after putting his hand in the air, "We're getting off-topic."

Ginpachi-sensei just stared at him, and didn't respond for a minute or so.

"...Probably, it's the writer's way of killing the tension that isn't there in the first place."

"Sensei!" Kagura piped up again, "Could this be considered a cliffhanger as well?"

The teacher sighed, wiping out the last sentence with his lab coat's sleeve without even looking.

"There, now there's no cliffhanger, you can stop nagging. The chapter's supposed to end here."

"I don't think the end is acceptable, sensei," Hijikata said, getting up from his seat, "Even I don't know what is going to happen, and I am supposed to be one of the most important characters in this story. You can't kill me off."

Ginpachi-sensei muttered something that sounded suspiciously like 'I wish I could' but didn't say anything more and just turned back to the blackboard and added a paragraph.

'After that, there is a fight . And just when the situation looked hopeless, the Shinsengumi turned up.. Hijikata revaeled his fealings, and every thing was all nice and good. The end.'

He wrote 'the end' as big as he could and took up the rest of the blackboard with it.

"There." He said, throwing the piece of chalkboard over his shoulder in a casual manner, "The end."

"Sensei, you went over it too quickly. We didn't get an epic fight or even a *** scene." Sarutobi added, for once sitting at her own desk like a normal student instead of hiding behind the curtain cooing at her teacher. "But your writing is lovely, written by you warm, masculine ha-"

He cut her off. "We got enough of fan service scenes a chapter back or so, although they were only fantasies, it was just shamelessly adding *** in there."

He saw another person about to raise an objection, but he ignored him..

Ginpachi-sensei sighed. "Okay, we're going to vote." He said, scratching his hair. "Who is in favour of ending the chapter here, please put up your hand."

Two hands or so were raised, and Ginpachi-sensei didn't bother to look to whom they belonged.

"In favour of continuing the chapter?" All the other hands went up, and the man felt like changing jobs.

The last Hijikata heard was a shot, and his shoulder roughly came into contact with the wall. The strange thing was, normally, he was sure he wouldn't have missed a bullet hitting him, but he couldn't feel anything at all besides a bruise starting to form on his shoulder. It dawned on him. The Yorozuya had tackled him out of the way, but instead got hit himself.

"O-oi, Yorozuya..." Hijikata said, looking at the man with a shocked expression. Gintoki turned to look at him after hearing his name, holding his left shoulder.


"...You're getting holes in my uniform."

"Be grateful, you damn bastard! I took a bullet for you!"

"Stop to try being a cool bastard, you natural perm!"

"Are you insulting my perm?! Ungrateful jerk!"

Sakamoto didn't seem the least bit surprised and laughed as they glared each other down, and just used them as a diversion to knock out the man again with a kick to the gut.

Gintoki looked up from his small fisticuffs with Hijikata, some blood dripping from his nose where Hijikata had hit him; the vice-commander had gotten a broken lip as revenge.

"Couldn't you have just done that from the start?!" Gintoki yelled at him, "I just got shot for nothing!"

"Haha! I wanted to make sure it was safe." Sakamoto laughed, as he had done for the past hour, and Gintoki just glared at him, giving up his small fight with Hijikata and covering his left shoulder with his hand to stop the bleeding a little.

Hijikata watched the Yorozuya flinch a little as he put more pressure on the wound, and felt something that he could only describe as worry, though he'd cut out his tongue before ever admitting that out loud. He did wonder, had the Yorozuya only done it for the money? Or was there something more behind it?

Hijikata thought it over one last moment.

Planets were born and died. Flowers bloomed and withered. Children were born and grew to adulthood. Hijikata reached a verdict.

It had been for the money.

Semi-long chapter this time, but it has Sakamoto! And yes, to those whose toes started to curl as soon as they read the paragraph Ginpachi wrote down, it was deliberately. An idea from my beta-reader aoi_aka. Also, I suck at drama. I tried to insert it, but I couldn't. I immediately turned it into a comedy-scene, as if it were a reflex. I am now off blowing my nose for the umpteenth time and trying to work out how that Pokéwalker thingy works. I hope you enjoyed, and once again, let me give a virtual hug to all of you who reviewed this story. You guys deserve a Justaway.