DISCLAIMER: Totally not mine! Also please read the A/N about the birth of the story not being mine, either.

WARNINGS: T stuff. (o.O) Geez, I knew Hijikata was going to make me do a sex scene one of these days . . . . Also a bit of language.

A/N: I suddenly felt like something sweet, which can't happen in Gintama, so decided to pay a visit to my other favorite Hijikata/Okita pair.

So ages ago, Moonraven very kindly gave me permission to take the premise of the story Come What May and make it into a Hijikata/Okita bone fide romance. Basically, my version just ignores the last several paragraphs of the original (extremely good) story – and if you haven't read Moonraven's work, it's an awesome collection and you should! A couple of italicized lines are from the original, as is the general idea of Okita and Hijikata's last few lines of conversation.

The mature stuff in this part is, believe it or not, not the point of the story! It's just, you know, Hijikata Toshizou . . . . .

Things Worth Changing

It had been a hell of a night . A hell of a stupid, botched up, unbelievably frustrating night during which Hijikata Toshizou had dealt with prostitutes, robbers, and Okita Souji, (the first being interrupted by the third due to the advent of the second) and had, in the course of one very busy evening protected the whores from the thieves while more importantly valiantly refraining from taking advantage of numerous opportunities to, well, take advantage of Souji. It was only too bad that feeling virtuous didn't mean much when you didn't particularly like virtue, which was why Hijikata was currently Japan's most glowering, teeth-grinding paragon of decency.

But Souji was Souji still, unmarked by the thought of desire, though not by the thug's knife, which had been breathtakingly close to a tendon-severing slash across the arm.

The prostitutes had been the point of the night, a dubious birthday present to Souji from Kondou and Yamanami, and himself being assigned as an even more dubious escort. The thieves had been just dumb – would have been, at least, if not for that lucky swipe that had cut a thin line across Souji's arm and turned Hijikata's own vision red with not panic but rage that someone had dared touch his – whatever Okita was. Which was whatever Okita wasn't supposed to be.

So yes, it had been a hell of a night, and even though Souji had been there, he didn't know the half of it.

Hijikata had borne with his duty, had sent Souji down that hall with the giggling girl - away from him – and then there had been those unexpected and deeply unintelligent thieves, trying to rob the house of ill repute. But taking down some dumb thugs was nothing compared to letting Souji walk down that hall, compared to seeing his pale arm dripping hot blood -

Basically, Hijikata's heart (always by preference little-used to exertion anyway) had been taking a beating this night. And as soon as he could find some way to take it out on Kondou, the better.

And then there was the rebound of emotion, even stronger in its own way . . . First finding out that Souji had simply frittered his time away playing card games for candy stakes, the young man sighing so innocently why is everyone so interested in my love life? And him automatically replying what love life, it's only sex; hearing his shy hopes I would want it to be with someone I love, and realizing he wished the same for Souji even as he wished for Souji, was still reeling from the pure panic of seeing the blood on akin that should never be bleeding . . . absolutely, Hijikata was going to pound Kondou into the ground next practice match in retribution of the idiot's putting them through so much.

And then he made some off-hand joke about Souji not thinking he was serious when he said he wanted Souji to be happy, and Souji had turned to him with that smile, the one that turned everything else into a far-off background, and said "I know you do, Hijikata-san. It is very important to me."

And maybe it had been a long, strange night, and maybe Hijikata, too, was allowed his moments of weakness, but something in the soft, unhesitating way Souji said the words was too much. Not for his body, Hijikata could overrule that, it, but whatever part of him wanted Souji safe and protected for all time, just as perfectly innocent as this even as he moved to destroy that innocence, made him stop and put a hand on the younger man's shoulder.

"Souji . . . ." he said, and it was half a sigh, half a question.

Uncertain but always so trusting, Souji stopped walking as well, stood waiting with eyes full of moonlight.

Slowly, half cursing himself, Hijikata moved the hand touching the tensai, to the younger man's smooth face, resting his fingers along the clean line of the jaw, and bent his head down to meet Souji's lips with his own.

It was supposed to be a chaste touch of momentary warmth, just a gentle knock on the door of possibilities, nothing to demand or push, something to instantly stop the moment Souji pulled away. Hijikata was sure he would, duck playfully down and march along the road accusing Hijikata of teasing him.

The fact that Souji didn't pull back, then, might have been the change in calculations that caused Hijikata to deepen the kiss before he even knew he had, instinctively nudging his lips open with his tongue, pulling the younger man closer as their mouths moved silently together. . . .

It was just one kiss, but Hijikata was dizzy by the time he broke the contact. His heart was beating a singsong erratic pitch of arousal and sheer bloody panic and it took all his considerable courage to look back at the tensai. Souji stood stockstill, no disgust or terror on his face, but looking so unbelievably surprised and young that Hijikata felt like nailing himself to a wall somewhere in penance.

"So you can at least say you got a kiss for your birthday," he said hoarsely, not quite looking at the boy he had just partially molested.

"H-hai," Souji said quietly. "Thank you, Hijikata-san."

There was nothing seductive about the boy's tone, but suddenly Hijikata was as glad as any teenager that the night and his dark kimono were covering his reaction to the words. Souji's taste his lingered on his lips, slightly sweet from candy, achingly pure . . . .

"Let's get back," Hijikata managed gruffly, wheeling back down the road before he either begged forgiveness or grabbed Souji again – and he honestly didn't know which the tensai might prefer. "You have practice tomorrow and should get some sleep."

He didn't look around but something anxious eased, and then clenched anew, in his chest when he heard the soft footsteps of Souji following him.

They walked in silence to the dojo. Once inside, Souji seemed to hesitate, stealing a glance at Hijikata for the first time since the road, eyes looking dark and wide through falling hair. "Hijikata-san-" he began hesitatingly.

"Good night, Souji," Hijikata said harshly, cutting the boy off.

Whatever it was, Hijikata didn't want to hear it. He felt bone weary from trying not to panic, from restraining himself from throwing Souji down and having his way with him. He couldn't do any more thinking – if he had been doing any thinking at all – right now.

Souji nodded, expression clouded in a cascade of hair. The figure looked so forlorn that Hijikata had to add, to soften the mess he had created, "We'll talk tomorrow."

He hurried away without letting Souji answer. It was the first time he had ever run away out of fear.

The next day dawned bright and blue and if smoldering murderous angst could have physically affected the weather, Hijikata's self-loathing would have sent up a tsunami in an instant. He hadn't slept, torn between worry about Souji and lust about Souji and the knowledge that very soon something had to happen about what he had done. And somehow this time, everything that had always been so simple for countless flings in the past – either the other person wanted it and so it happened or they didn't and so he found someone else – was in no way simple at all.

He had to work with Souji, he had to see Souji . . . and the worst part of it was that even now, the feel of Souji's mouth, Souji's body against his arms, was burning a path of desire through him that was nearly driving him crazy.

Because, he couldn't stop the tiny hot whisper in his mind, even if Souji hadn't exactly participated, he hadn't pulled away . . . .

Eventually, because when you live in a dojo you can't just spend all day lying on the floor of your room, hard and moaning the name of the young kenjutsu instructor your best friend employs, Hijikata hauled himself up, and staggered out bleakly to meet the obscenely cheerful day.

"Ah, Toshi, there you are," Kondou hailed him briskly as Hijikata stood blinking in the late morning sun. "I was wondering if you could do me a favor and oversee classes this afternoon. I have to run into town and can't do it today."

Hijikata, fighting down the sudden feeling that any instant Kondou would pull out a sword and demand he commit seppuku for molesting the boy he had supposed to have been introducing to whores the night before, frowned as the actual words of his friend penetrated his morose fog of jumbled emotion.

"Why isn't Souji doing it like usual?" he asked, breath suddenly catching at the image of Souji running away in the middle of the night – well, actually, he had been with Souji during the middle of the night – Souji, then, running away in the early dawn, scarred forever by the unwanted advance made from the incredibly stupid man he had once admired-

"Souji wasn't feeling well," Kondou said, frowning a little. "He kept dropping his bokken. Souji did! What on earth did you do to him last night, Toshi?"

Hijikata tensed. "What do you mean what I do?" he demanded uneasily.

"Souji was supposed to be learning the pleasures of intimacy and he comes back with his arm sliced up," Kondou lectured sternly. "Just what kind of place did you actually take him to, na Toshi?"

Oh, that. Hijikata relaxed slightly. How bizarre the world when negligently getting your young charge cut by a thug's dagger was actually the preferable memory. Well, not preferable, god not preferable to that aching sweet touch of mouths, but safer. Much, much safer.

Kondou peered at him. "Are you alright? You look pale. You didn't get hurt too, did you?"

"I'm fine," Hijikata said quickly.

"Did you two have a fight?" Kondou pressed, pursing his lips and studying his friend. "Souji's been quiet all morning and you're jumpy as a cat." He sighed heavily. "I'm sorry, Yamanami and I shouldn't have pushed you into taking Souji to the Red Lily. We just thought he was finally ready for it, but obviously some things come at their own pace."

Hijikata desperately tried to block the alluring picture of Souji cumming at his own pace.

"Uhr mmm."

"What was that, Toshi?"

With an effort, Hijikata cleared his throat. "I'll talk to him," he said reluctantly.

"I'd appreciate it," Kondou said grinning widely with bright, easy, relief. "I wouldn't want him to be mad at us." He clapped a grateful hand on Hijikata's shoulder. "Please take care of him, eh?"

Trying not to visualize taking care of Souji, Hijikata nodded glumly and headed to the kitchen for breakfast.

Souji was in the yard sweeping leaves listlessly when Hijikata finally ran out of ways to procrastinate. The sun was high, signaling the approach of lunchtime, and the yard was quiet, most of the men having gone home for lunch and the others seeking out the shade of the back of the dojo.

For perhaps the first time in his life, Hijikata Toshizou had no idea what to say.

"Hijikata-san," Souji greeted him softly as he made his way over to the younger man.

"Souji," he acknowledged stiffly. "You shouldn't be sweeping with that arm. Kondou-san said you were having trouble with the bokken."

Souji flushed, looking a cross between embarrassed and petulant. "I only dropped it once," he complained. "It was just learning how to compensate."

"Well, maybe if you rest now Kat-chan will let you supervise the afternoon practice. Otherwise I'm stuck with it."

He must have been nervous – hell, he knew he was nervous – thesedays he usually only called Kondou by his old name to his face.

Souji almost seemed to flinch at Hijikata's grumbles. "I'm sorry," he said, voice soft again. "I can do the practices, really. Kondou-san is too protective."

Hijikata cleared his throat awkwardly. "He thinks, uh, you're upset because of the brothel thing. You know, he and Yamanami were just trying to be nice."

"Mm hmm," Souji ducked his head down to study the broom intently. "I'm not upset."

Hijikata really wanted to run away again, say briskly, well okay then, that's fine, see you at dinner; but neither of them deserved that.

"And," he forced himself to say, "about the other thing."

Souji's head shot up. "I told you, my arm's fine!" he protested, clutching the broom possessively as if afraid Hijikata was going to try to wrench it out of his hands.

Hijikata stifled an urge to break that broom over his young dense head. "No," he ploughed on doggedly instead, "I mean the other other thing."

"Oh." A flush of a different kind rose in Souji's cheeks. "Are you . . . angry at me?" he asked plaintively.

Hijikata choked, interrupted from silently chanting must not ravish Souji to himself, by the sudden inexplicable question.

"Angry at—what are you talking about?" he demanded. "I'm the one who damn well forced a kiss on you. If anyone should be angry . . . ."

"But you kissed me because I didn't do my job at the Red Lily," Souji whispered, looking miserable. "I'm sorry my selfishness made you have to feel sorry for me like that."

And that was Souji all over, never remembering that other people were evil, conniving creatures. Never believing that Hijikata, at least, was.

Hijikata fought the sudden urge to sit on the ground and laugh – or cry. "Souji," he said forcefully, "I did not feel sorry for you. You did not make me kiss you. I wanted to kiss you. Hell, I've wanted to kiss you for so long now it seems crazy. I impinged upon you, not the other way around."

Souji blinked. "You wanted to kiss me?" he echoed innocently.

"Oh god Souji," Hijikata groaned. "You have no idea. I'm sorry, I can't even blame it on being drunk but I promise you it won't happen again."

Souji's eyes were as big as the world. "It . . . won't?"

Abruptly, the day seemed to shift yet again. Hijikata felt his heart began to beat faster, like at the start of a match. "Unless you want it to," he said carefully.

"I . . ." Souji looked torn, confused.

"Souji," Hijikata could barely force out the words, "did you like it when I kissed you?"

Souji still looked uncertain. "I . . ." he said hesitantly, "I was surprised . . . ."

"But if I kiss you again," Hijikata said slowly, voice deepening with predatory instinct, "Souji-kun won't be surprised this time, will he? He can decide carefully what he thinks about it, can't he?"

Souji hesitated, then nodded, expression tight but eyes echoing Hijikata's vibrations.

Blood singing a hot, wicked tune, Hijikata reached over and grabbed one hand. "Leave that," he ordered, nodding at the broom, and strode toward the small group of trees by the fence of the dojo, moving so fast Souji had to stumble to keep up.

"Hijikata-san, is this a good place to—" Souji said uncertainly, but Hijikata's quick, barely restrained mouth cut him off.

"It's fine," Hijikata muttered authoratatively when they surfaced again for breath. "No one else can see. We're fine here."

He moved back to cover Souji's mouth before another protest could form – afterward if Souji decided he didn't like it, Hijikata would take the decision like a man. But until then, he was going to use every trick he knew to get the verdict he had dreamed about so often.

At first, as Hijikata skillfully nudged open Souji's mouth, sucking on the younger man's soft lips, pushing in with his tongue to lap up the taste of his mouth, Souji stood passively as he had done the night before, not resisting but not participating either. Then, hesitantly but with quickly growing confidence, he began to kiss back, deftly mirroring Hijikata's actions, leaning into the motion and sending desire surging so strongly through Hijikata that his whole head rang with it.

Not just his head.

Breathing roughly, Hijikata broke the kiss again, grinning ferally at the disappointed expression on Souji's face. Intently, he reached for the shoulder of Souji's yukata and pulled it up from the obi about the younger man's waist, creating enough give that he could push back the material to expose Souji's collar and a healthy expanse of pale smooth chest. Still moving with a deliberateness hard to stop, he bent down to nip at Souji's neck, then as Souji tensed at the unexpected sensation, Hijikata began to work his way down the neck, sucking and biting and teasing with his tongue, over the collarbone and pushing aside the yukata to free more skin, licking gently over one exposed nipple until Souji's reticence was completely broken down and he was whimpering and gasping at each touch, squirming to receive more sensation.

It took all of Hijikata's control not to continue immediately to the part of Souji that he knew would make the soft noises he was making right now turn to full-throated cries of pleasure. But it was worth the pause as he took in Souji's flushed, panting figure, eyes a glimmering purple darkened with the new experience of arousal.

"Well," he whispered huskily, thumb rubbing against the sensual mouth, "do you like this?"

Swallowing, eyes still gleaming, just as Hijikata knew his own must be, Souji nodded. "Yes," he whispered, "please continue Hijikata-san."

Those words were better than all the times he had imagined Souji saying them.

"Uh uh," Hijikata chastized gently, picking up one of Souji's slender hands to caress the fingers possesively. "This time you have to help, too."

Bending in to kiss the boy again, he moved Souji's hand between the folds of his yukata and fundoshi and folded it over Hijikata's throbbing erection. Eyes widening in surprise, Souji instinctively grasped the member and Hijikata hissed with pleasure against the younger man's mouth.

"Like this," he instructed, reaching his own hand into the folds of Souji's own clothing and pressing teasingly against the younger man's arousal

Souji reacted unhesitatingly with wide-eyed, gasping approval, the noises sounding so sweet he hated to drown them out with the kisses he was still desperate for. The very fact that he, Hijikata, had made Souji hard, had made Souji beg for more, was enough to make him cum immediately, but he curbed his desire, breath coming in darts as Souji grew familiar enough with the passionate rhythm to be able to mimic Hijikata's motions, moving against the older man in tandem with Hijikata's own exploration.

It was going too fast – the months of imagination turning into reality were destroying Hijikata's control. To prolong the pleasure of Souji willing and pliable in his hands, Hijikata pulled back, body aching with the lack of contact, and murmuring Souji's name, slid down his knees, pushing back the yukata to expose the younger man's perfect arousal. Even half dressed against a tree, Souji was truly beautiful.

Souji had sighed as Hijikata slipped his hand away from him, but still trusting he didn't move as he watched Hijikata sink to his knees, only shivered slightly as Hijikata ran his hands up Souji's legs, enjoying the smooth flesh, relishing the freedom Souji was allowing him.

And now Hijikata didn't hesitate, let his instincts take over and move his hands, his mouth, letting all of the new sounds he teased from Souji – sounds that belonged to him, that no one would else had ever heard from the tensai - quiver through his body, just as Souji trembled in and against him.

Souji's gasps quickened, his fingers twining convulsively through Hijikata's dark hair, his attempts to speak continually cut off by the next wave of pleasure. "Hiji . . . hijika . . . hi . . . -"

Damned if Hijikata was going to let him time to finish that name.

He was confident in this as he was in any battle, commanding and taking in the tensai's climax with all the triumph of the long-denied victory, as Souji's gasps quickened, deepened, twined up and plunged down into that final low, sweet cry Hijikata had imagined to perfection on many a long night.

Swallowing, Hijikata held on until the younger man had stopped shivering, then raised himself to capture Souji's mouth for a long, satisfied kiss.

"And did you like that?" he asked contently to the dazed boy in his arms.

"Aa, Hijikata-san, didn't it look like I was enjoying it?' Souji asked bashfully, although his happy grin said he wasn't as embarrassed as he seemed.

"In that case . . . . " once again, Hijikata guided Souji's hand toward his desperately needy cock, and felt an extra glow of pleasure when Souji quickly followed with the other hand as well.

Lips locked possessively together, Hijikata let Souji take the initiative this time as the younger man explored with hands and mouth. Hijikata shivered as Souji tugged on his earlobe and delighted with the discovery, Souji began to suck and nibble even more. The pleasure he showed at making Hijikata react was the final straw. With a low, satisfied moan, Hijikata grabbed the younger man and lifted him higher against the tree, pumping through Souji's sweat-slicked hands in a final series of deep thrusts until he came with a body-deep shudder.

The long, contented moment that followed was broken by the bell signaling the beginning of afternoon practice.

"Damn," Hijikata groaned, the sound sounding entirely different from his previous groans. "Practice. I've gotta go."

"It's my job—" began Souji, stepping out of Hijikata's embrace. Before he had taken two steps however, his knees suddenly buckled.

"Souji!" Hijikata lunged to catch the tottering tensai, glancing at the younger man's white face with a frown.

"Shit, we shouldn't have been doing something like this when you were injured, too much strain." Hijikata crouched by him anxiously. "Are you okay?"

"No, I'm fine," Souji insisted, moving to sit down. He glanced up at Hijikata with a tentative, sly smile. "Maa, maybe the stories I heard from the woman are right about Hijikata being a powerful man."

"Idiot," Hijikata swatted at the tensai's head. "Nobody should have sex right after an injury. Now sit still for the rest of the afternoon or I'll get Kondou-san to withhold your dessert at dinner. Na?"

Hastily tidying his skewed clothing, Hijikata hurried across the empty yard. When he paused to look back, Souji was already kneeling to straighten out his rucked up yukata.