A/N: Sorry for the delay! Work has been doing its best to smother me… Anyway, it seems like I've lost some readers due to the switching last chapter. Now, in case you're still reading and wondering if this fic is going to be OkiHiji or still HijiOki, the answer is both. I personally think neither of them will quietly accept being the bottom and it's going to be a constant struggle between them, regardless of whether they enjoy bottoming or not. So, in conclusion, the best thing I can say about the label of the fic now is HijiOkiHiji. However, as I mentioned in the note in the previous chapter, I don't want to focus too much on the sex (because there's a plot here, somewhere, in a corner I've almost forgotten), so I won't write much about who's top and who's bottom behind closed doors.

If you're still with me, then enjoy this chapter (and tell me you're there)! We're getting back to romance! Or I tried to, anyway.

Disclaimer: Gintama is not mine.

Love's Redemption

"Hijikata-san, pass me the remote control."

"I'm watching the show!" Hijikata protested, but passed Okita the remote control anyway. He grumbled as the youth changed the channel a few times before settling for some stupid soap opera. "This show is ridiculous."

"It's a comedy show, Hijikata-san. That's kind of the point." Okita replied without even sparing a glance at the vice-commander. He put the remote control on the table between them, as if challenging Hijikata to change the channel.

They watched the show in relative silence, broken only by Hijikata's complaints that it's stupid and Okita's hums when he found something particularly funny. The dark-haired man inhaled his cigarette deeply, enjoying the taste of nicotine and the warmth in his chest. It had been a while since they had a quiet night like this, usually they're out on patrol or trying to catch some criminal (and subsequently blew up a portion of the city). As much as Hijikata liked action, he still needed to rest once in a while to replenish his energy, especially now that he had more than his job and exercises to keep him busy.

"Well, it's good to see you not try to kill each other!" Kondou said with a grin. He sat down on an unoccupied side of the table, looking at his subordinates happily. "You could get along well after all!"

"For now." Hijikata replied but without venom.

"Don't be like that, Toushi. I'm sure if you try hard enough, you can become good friends!"

"Did you say that based on experience, Kondou-san? How's Tae-san doing?"

Kondou characteristically ignored Okita's sarcasm and started a speech about how their 'relationship' was going smoothly and that they were an ideal couple many should learn from. Hijikata couldn't completely ignore his superior, especially when he looked completely serious, no matter how delusional he was being. He futilely pointed out the fact that Tae-san didn't seem to be fond of Kondou even in the slightest, but the commander claimed that she was merely being shy about it. Hijikata sighed quietly, wondering if and when his superior would come to his senses. A movement from across the table brought his attention back to Okita.

"I'm going to bed." Okita announced.

Others might miss it –Kondou certainly did- but Hijikata caught a lingering look from the captain before he left the room. He knew what that meant and his body quickly reacted to it. He swallowed thickly and looked away, not wanting to give his commander a chance to read his expression. What would he say if Kondou found out that he desired Okita? Or worse, what if Okita knew he desired him back?

Yes, Hijikata admitted that he desired Okita –it was hard not to. He swore he didn't mean to. He was everything Hijikata shouldn't want: a young boy who was the brother of a woman he once loved. But he wasn't blind and Okita did many things to get his attention. He was very attractive, Hijikata begrudgingly admitted. He was smart, mysterious, and well-intentional most of the time, and although he could be difficult to approach and deal with, there's some kind of charm in his aloof attitude and sharp tongue, the tongue that was capable of more than Hijikata dared to imagine…

"I'm relieved."

Hijikata turned to Kondou again in surprise, almost forgetting that he wasn't alone in the room. He hoped his face hadn't given him away. He was sure he was flushed right now and he dreaded the thought of Kondou finding out what was on his mind. "Huh?" He said eloquently.

Kondou exhaled slowly and crossed his arms in front of his chest as a soft smile formed on his face. "Sougo looks so much better now. For the longest of time, he seemed sad, and even angry. I was worried he wouldn't get over Mitsuba's death."

Oh, right. "I guess he's his normal self now." Hijikata answered while trying to light a new cigarette.

"Yes." Kondou agreed, watching Hijikata fumbled with the lighter longer than usual. "I'm glad everything is back to normal."

Hijikata grunted when he finally manage to light his cigarette. "Yes."

"I have you to thank."

"Huh? I didn't do anything!" Hijikata denied, perhaps too quickly.

Kondou chuckled and shook his head. "If you weren't there for him, I'm sure it would take him longer to return to normal. We know what Sougo is like. He will never ask for help, even when he needs it. And this time, especially, he needs help."

Like you, Hijikata heard what Kondou didn't say. He lowered his eyes and inhaled a lungful of smoke. They watched the stupid TV show together for a while before Kondou gave up trying to get a reaction out of his friend and retired to his room. Soon after, not having any more reason to stay around, Hijikata stopped trying to make sense of the show and went to his own room.

Had he really helped Okita? He was sure the boy thought differently, and Hijikata couldn't deny it. There were better ways to help someone grieving. In fact, he could have easily made things worse for the boy, but he hadn't. As far as he was concerned, Okita was almost always his normal self, especially nowadays. The captain didn't try to kill him in his sleep or even bring his sadistic streak to bed, so he must have at least lost some of his anger to Hijikata. Right?

There were a lot to think about, a lot to consider, but Hijikata found his mind shutting down as he neared his room. His body tingled with anxiety, something he had stopped rejecting. There was a countdown at the back of his mind and he knew he wouldn't sleep until he felt a warm body sharing his bed tonight.


Okita ignored the burning pile of rubbles behind him and went to the waiting car. The media and Shinsegumi would be busy today, but he didn't care. It's not like it's his fault the thief was trying to escape by running of the roofs. It's his duty to stop criminals as quickly and effectively as possible and he figured his bazooka was the perfect tool for doing just that.

"Sougo, did you blow up another building?" Kondou asked on the radio.

Okita glanced back at the scene behind him and shrugged. "I guess so."

Kondou groaned long-sufferingly, no doubt thinking of the complaints he would have to deal with from people and his boss. Okita got in the car and ordered his assigned partner to drive off, leaving the other officers to deal with the mess. He had done his job, as far as he was concerned.

"Can you not blow things up for one day, Sougo?"

Okita turned his eyes to the radio. It took all his self-control to not smirk and express anything but boredom. However, he couldn't stop a thrill of excitement for nights he tried not to think of too often. It hadn't been that long since Okita had such a night, but he already missed it. He held himself back. It wouldn't do to make his visits too regular; he didn't want Hijikata to get used to it. Besides, dread was part of the punishment.

"I try, but it's still the fastest way to fight crimes. Do you have any other ideas, Hijikata-san?"

"Yes. You can run after them, catch them, then throw them to jail!"

"I can see how well that works for you. Weren't you the one who led the chase for an underwear thief for an entire day a couple of days ago?"

They bickered for a few minutes (with Okita winning, naturally) before Kondou decided that as a punishment, Okita must double his shift for a week, starting from today. He didn't mind. He was used to run on only coffee and whatever food he could find. If there's something to complain about, it would be that he was very sure he would be bored to death. He didn't actually mind catching petty criminals if that meant doing something, but most of the time, those type of things were assigned to lower-ranked Shinsengumi. Without amanto or terrorist attacks, Okita's job was just driving around the town to occasionally stop drunken fights.

But an order was an order. After returning to the headquarter for a quick rest, he left again with to start his night shift. Kondou looked a bit sorry when he saw Okita left so soon after he came back, but Hijikata seemed completely indifferent. Okita shrugged mentally. Probably the black-haired man was still pissed at their argument today or maybe because Okita insisted on topping last night. That usually put Hijikata in a bad mood no matter how many times Okita made him admit that he enjoyed it. Oh, well. That's none of his problem. He had work to focus on now.

A couple of hours into his new shift, it was raining heavily and sane people were taking shelters inside warm buildings. There were only a few cars on the street, and none of them even had the decency to break the speed limit. Worse still, it was said the rain would last all night. So yes, it was going to be a peaceful night, but also an incredibly dull one. Okita would need a lot more coffee to keep himself awake at this rate, and he didn't look forward to it, not being a fan of the beverage. He really hoped something interesting would happen tonight.

Okita's excitement returned when he saw another Shinsengumi patrol car approaching them. He rolled down the window when the other patrol car was beside them. To his surprise, he found Hijikata in the other car, lit cigarette poised between his lips as usual. He glowered at Okita and his partner, as if unhappy to find them there.

"What's wrong, Hijikata-san?" Okita asked, shouting a little to be heard over the pouring rain.

"Nothing!" He shouted back. "Why don't you take a break?"

Okita raised an eyebrow. "Are you worried about us, Hijikata-san?"

Even though he couldn't hear it, Okita knew Hijikata just growled. Yamazaki winced and leaned away from the vice-commander when he replied. "Don't you remember the meeting last week? We're supposed to save fuel! Take a break! No one is stupid enough to be outside their homes anyway!" Hijikata shouted, face crunched into a scowl.

Okita shrugged and nodded to his partner to indicate him to obey. Obeying Hijikata for once should worth getting out of boredom and cold.

A few minutes later, they were at a ramen restaurant, inhaling warm meal to repel the cold air. Hijikata, as usual, added mayonnaise to the perfectly delicious ramen, which nearly made Yamazaki lose his appetite. Okita, used to the antics, merely gave a sarcastic remark before digging into his steaming bowl of ramen, eager to fill his stomach with something warm and not junk food. No one talked when they're eating, too busy regaining heat to their bodies. Once they were done, Hijikata ordered Yamazaki and Okita's partner to buy some odd item he claimed they needed back at the headquarter.

"Tell me, Hijikata-san, are you worried about me?" Okita asked once their subordinates had left and they were outside the restaurant so Hijikata could smoke in peace.

Hijikata frowned. "I am not!" He denied.

"You could just tell us to 'save the fuel' over the radio, you know."

Hijikata growled in displeasure but didn't reply. Okita let him, knowing that the silence meant that he was right. He looked up at the starless night sky. Okita wasn't looking forward to spending the night in a car and felt a little envious of Hijikata who could sleep in his warm bed. He exhaled quietly, imagining curling up in the bed with another's warm body in a rainy night.

"You skipped lunch today."

Okita turned to his superior, head slightly tilted to the side in question. He actually barely remembered skipping lunch, but he vaguely recalled just drinking a bottle of water to sustain himself while on his shift. "So?"

Hijikata glared at him but somehow managed to prevent himself from yelling. "Don't get sick." He muttered.

Okita blinked, then pulled Hijikata to the tiny, darkened alley between the restaurant and a building. Hijikata grunted in surprise when the youth pushed him to a damp wall and took his cigarette away. He tried to glare, but Okita broke his concentration by pulling him down by his collar and crashing their lips together.

It took a few seconds for Hijikata to respond to the rough gesture, his hands froze on his sides in the beginning. But as Okita continued to press against him, he brought his hands up to hold Okita. Pleased by this, Okita purred and kissed Hijikata harder until he was sure he had the scent and taste of the foul cigarette imprinted on his mouth. The older man kissed back just as passionately, no doubt seeing this as another form of challenge.

Okita broke the kiss when desire began to build up. He liked embarrassing Hijikata, but he knew there was time and place for everything. He was on a shift and Hijikata was… Well, he didn't know what excuse Hijikata used to leave the headquarter, but one thing was for sure. There were two Shinsengumi members who could be on their way to see them. He wanted Hijikata, but not here, not now. He wanted to enjoy him properly, not like drunk teens that couldn't wait to find a room to have their first time.

"Why?" Hijikata whispered, his warm breath teasing Okita.

"Cold." Okita replied with the first thing that came to his mind.

Hijikata looked at him with an odd expression on his face before leaning down to kiss Okita slowly. The sandy-haired boy moaned softly into the kiss and tried to press even closer. One of his hands slid up to hold the back of Hijikata's head so they could kiss deeper. He was a tad disappointed when Hijikata broke the kiss.

"They could be waiting."

They didn't move for another minute until Okita sensed Hijikata was about to lose his control and forget the fact that they really had two subordinates on their way there. He pulled away regretfully and walked back to the front of the restaurant with Hijikata following him. The street was still quiet, their partners hadn't returned.

"You're wet." Hijikata commented suddenly.

"That's something you say to a woman, Hijikata-san."

Hijikata glared at him, then stepped closer to pat his back where Okita could feel dampness seeping through the clothes. "Your uniform is wet."

Okita wanted to argue, but then remembered what Hijikata just said earlier. He took off his uniform jacket and draped it over his arm. His shirt was also a little damp, but he couldn't take that off too in public. Hijikata grunted in satisfaction and then lit another cigarette. They stood in silence for a minute or two until Yamazaki and Okita's partner reappeared. Hijikata commanded Okita to return to his shift while he went back to the headquarter. They had a short banter before leaving to the opposite directions. Okita quietly watched Hijikata's car slowly disappeared from view from the side mirror. He leaned back on his seat, his wet jacket on his lap, the taste and scent of tobacco on his lips.


Where was he?

Hijikata tossed and turned in his bed, trying to find a comfortable position that would help him sleep, but a thought kept him awake. Where was Okita?

Today was the end of Okita's night shift and the boy had obviously intended to catch up on his sleep. Unfortunately, there was a Joui attack in the city that needed Shinsengumi's attention. Okita came to help despite the fact that he was obviously still tired. He was a seasoned swordsman, though, and despite Hijikata's reservations didn't have much difficulty fighting and capturing the terrorists, managing to make it out of the battle mostly unscathed.

It was almost like Okita was determined to show that he was inhuman, Hijikata thought. He snorted a little. Okita was definitely human, prone to conflicting emotions and weaknesses. In a way, he couldn't blame the boy for wanting to appear tough. After all, they were fighting against those who were determined to ruin their country-they couldn't afford to show their weakness if they wanted to live. But still, Hijikata rather hoped the boy knew his limits and didn't push it too far. That's why he was annoyed when tonight Okita volunteered to guard the area where the attack had taken place. He should've left it to other Shinsengumi members, those who hadn't just had a week of double shift followed by an entire day of disarming and then arresting a violent group of Joui. But of course Okita had to be stubborn.

Hijikata sighed in frustration. He should ask Kondou to tell Okita to stop pushing himself so hard. He wanted nothing more than to go and shake the boy until some senses got into his thick skull, but he doubted he would be heard. Plus, he was worried it might lead to other things which had less to do with chastising and more to do with…

All right, that was it. It's too late and he would talk to Kondou tomorrow. Hijikata frowned at the darkness of his room and forced himself to sleep. It took him an hour to fall asleep despite his exhaustion.

A couple of hours later, Hijikata was awaken by the sound of his door opening then closing although it was slightly muffled by the sound of rain. His first instinct was to reach for his sword. He was alert at once and quickly calculated how he could fight his attacker. Who would send anyone to kill him? Where was the assassin and what kind of weapon did he carry? Hijikata's eyes struggled to get used to the dark, searching for bluish shadow of the assassin.

"Hiijikata-san."

"Sougo?" He wondered, recognizing the voice immediately. He dropped his sword then tried to sit up, but Okita slipped into his bed before he moved. He shifted to the side to give the captain some space –his bed was small but it never stopped Okita from trying to make it fit the bodies of two grown men. "What is it?" He asked. His eyes hadn't completely adjusted to the darkness but he could see that Okita had changed into his sleepwear. He was a cold and his hair a bit damp. How long had he been outside in the rain?

Okita snuggled close to him in answer, throwing one arm over Hijikata's abdomen. He made some indecipherable noise before finding a comfortable position with his head on Hijikata's shoulder. The vice-commander wasn't sure what to do at first –usually they were naked minutes after Okita came to his room- but then awkwardly slipped his arm under the shorter male. His hand hovered awkwardly before coming to rest on Okita's shoulder.

"Sougo, what's wrong?" He asked again quietly.

At first there was no answer, although Hijikata was sure Okita was still awake. Then the boy shuffled and he tightened his grip on his shoulder, worried that he might try to go. "The best way to get warm is by sharing body warmth." He answered.

Hijikata sighed but decided not to argue. He shivered a little when Okita's cold feet rubbed against him. "Fine." He said finally.

Okita was asleep within seconds. Hijikata turned his head to the side a little to inhale the scent of rain in the boy's hair, tightened his grip, and fell into a peaceful sleep.

TBC

A/N: Umm, so yeah. I'm not good at romance at all. Anyway, please R&R! I'll see you again the next time I can escape from work!