Pushing Him Away

Rating: PG-13 (?)
Remarks: Main characters are Hijikata Toshizou and Okita Souji from Peace Maker Kurogane by Chrono Nanae. This was written after reading volume 6 of PMK which was released not too long ago, so there may be some SPOILERS.Also, there's hinted BL (Hijikata x Okita) so if you're against such things, then don't read.

The cold wind blew and the darkness of night enshrouded the quarters. Hijikata had long suspected it ever since Souji's cold had never seemed subside but his fear of the truth kept him from confirming his suspicions. Now, before him lay his pride and glory amidst a mess of blood and sheets, gasping for air between coughs. The sight had confirmed his suspicions and justified his recurring nightmares of distant memories.

"Hi-Hijikata-san... don't... look..." Souji's voice trembled as he struggled to talk through his successive coughs, face crumpled with pain while Hijikata stood their dumbstruck in horror. His mind had flown back to the memories when he was a child.

Hijikata trotted happily towards the paper doors, eager to report the new friend he had made that day. With every step he took, the coughing got louder and louder until he got right to the doorstep. A voice rang out,

"Don't come in! Don't open the door!"

Hijikata's heart froze as he began to consider the possible reasons behind that order

The harsh sound of air hitting his buccal cavity echoed through the room; so consistent that it almost became background noise. Staring down at the struggling Souji, tears welled up in his eyes as he remembered the various occasions he had coldly turn down Souji's invitations to hit the streets or even just taking a walk in the garden.

"Ne, Hijikata-san. You've been at it for the past few days already. Today's weather just great for a walk..." Souji had proposed midway before Hijikata snapped.

"If you have nothing better to do then go practise on your sword skills!"

Souji paused and took a moment to look at Hijikata, who had not lifted his gaze from the scripts even while answering Souji, frowning in his frustration to finish his report, not even realizing the lack of retaliation from the usual lively Souji. The slightest hint of a bittersweet smile showed on Souji's face before he left the room quietly.

He had taken Souji's liveliness for granted; taken his presence for granted. No, he had taken Souji for granted. He knew that Souji respected him and was protective of him to the extent that he would cut down anyone who so much as raised a sword towards him. They had proved this point at the night Sannan-san had "committed seppuku".

Long ago, when Souji was still a child, they hadn't been on such good terms. In fact, Souji had even bickered with him on so many occasions because of that stern face of his, as well as his demonic disciplinary rules. He had not noticed when it started but Souji had began taking the initiative to talk to him and (=.=#) played pranks on him. Thinking about it, Souji may have very well been the one who gave him solace in those difficult times when he could not speak of the matters in concern. Neither did he ask questions, nor did he probe. He simply stayed by Hijikata and took away his troubles by making Hijikata focus on him with his liveliness.

Though he had tried to ignore it, but he knew it was something more than just familiar relationship, or discipleship. He had dismissed the signs that Souji had displayed every now and then while shoving his own emotions to the back of his mind, placing the Shinsengumi's matters in first priority.

This was some time after Sannan-san's death and Souji had finally recovered from his emotional breakdown from having done the deed with his own bare hands. There was a festival that night and the streets were bustling with people; a perfect night to let go of their worries and just enjoy the hustle and bustle of the busy streets. As expected, Souji had came bouncing into his room with Saizo in his arms.

"Hi-ji-ka-ta-saaan~!" Souji burst into the room, shouting. "Hey, tonight shall we-"

Hijikata already knew that Souji wouldn't miss this chance to ask him out, so he had already prepared himself for this grand entrance into his room.

"No." He replied bluntly.

"Che, stingy" Souji replied while pouting. "It wouldn't hurt to go out once in awhile, would it? We haven't been to the streets together in AGES."

Oh yes it would, if were to go with you. There had been rumours among the lower ranks about the two of them being excessively close. Hijikata had pretended not to hear them and tried to keep his distance. So he wondered if Souji was ignorant of the rumours, or had chosen to remain this way despite knowing that they'll bring gossip. It did pain him to deliberately put his distance between the both of them since he really enjoyed being around Souji somehow.

Souji went out grumbling about how Hijikata had been so aloof lately and made the most pitiful yet adorable face. Hijikata looked away, his face turning a slight shade of pink. He knew that if this went on any longer he would, without doubt, give into Souji's pleas. Hence, with a stern face Hijikata had forced himself to say,

"Souji! Though we may not be engaged in a battle right now but we are by no means free to be out relaxing. We are still in face of imminent war! How would the people see the Shinsengumi if we were to appear so lackadaisical?"

Even as the words left Hijikata's lips, he couldn't help but feel guilty for reprimanding Souji.

"Ah... that's true, isn't it? Sorry, I got ahead of myself..." Hijikata could see that Souji was hurt as his face was totally crestfallen. "My apologies for disturbing!" Souji had said quickly before making himself scarce.

Outside, Souji stood at the door quietly. He was dejected enough by Hijikata's harsh words to not want to see Hijikata for now, but not enough to leave his side, especially since he knew that there were truth in his words. Moreover, it was his own insecurity and fear of the cruelty of time that made him so eager to seize every chance that he had. He knew that he couldn't tell Hijikata-san the truth- about his health as well as his feelings - so he would have to endure the apathetic reactions. Even if it was through a door, Souji had still want to be near him.

Hijikata knew that Souji was still there and sunk his face into the palms of his hands.

Why? Why did I bother about the rumours and gossips. Why didn't I treasure him more? Why didn't I just acknowledge his feelings? MY feelings?

As Hijikata was caught up with his own thoughts, Yamazaki dashed into the room, pushing Hijikata aside. Hijikata fell to his knees, tears trickling down his face, as he watched Yamazaki busy himself with alleviating Souji's pain.

p.s. I haven't written fics in YEARS so I'm really sorry for the lack of descriptives and more elaborate narratives