So like. I told someone that I would be updating my Gintama fic after I updated the kurobasu one. But my friend is taking forever to tell me her opinions and so I wrote this on a staying-up-late high in 4 hours and I'm making myself sad in writing this. So because I'm not entirely done with my kurobasu one and I'm done with this one, Ima just post this one up first.
It's the last chapter guys! Hope you enjoy it!
Disclaimer: Don't own Gintama
Gintoki's head was throbbing. He shifted uncomfortably, although wherever he shifted, the pain in his head didn't move. He opened his eyes and was blinded by the sheer white of a hospital room. He raised a hand to see if massaging his head would make the pain go away but his fingers touched bandages. When he put slight pressure on them, he winced. It hurt too much, so he gave up on the massage.
Blinking several times, he scans the room and spots Kagura and Shinpachi sitting in the chairs that his room had. He spotted a huge ball of white fluff and assumes that it's Sadaharu. He was, of course, right when Sadaharu peeked over and saw his open red (confused) eyes and started yipping. He rose on his hind paws and stretched his front paws across Gintoki's legs.
Shinpachi woke up to Sadaharu's yipping and saw the abnormally huge dog half-sprawled across the awaken Gintoki's body and shook Kagura awake.
"Kagura-chan! Gin-san is awake!"
Kagura rolled off the chair while struggling to wake up and jumped towards Gintoki. "Gin-chaaaaan!" Kagura squealed as she gave Gintoki her biggest smile. Shinpachi had his head out the door, calling Kondo, Otae, Hijikata and Sougo.
The 3 Shinsengumi and sister rushed into the room and suddenly it was full of high energy and Gintoki is frozen on the spot because he has no idea what the hell is going on. Everyone was speaking at once and there was so much action and Gintoki just shut down and stared blankly at everyone while not registering anything that they were trying to say. When they realized that nothing was sinking, they slowly calmed themselves down.
"Gin-san, you were gone for a very long time you know," Shinpachi said, worried as usual.
"Really? Couldn't tell the time in there," Gintoki replied.
"You couldn't send us some kind of message?" Kagura asked, "Like in a potato or a paper aeroplane?"
"This isn't the spy movies that you watch, Kagura," Gintoki chuckled, "They didn't let me know anything and when you're in a cage in the middle of some room you can't exactly do much."
"Did they feed you well?" Otae asks.
Gintoki stares at her and says, "I'd rather eat your tamagoyakis."
Suddenly, everyone knew how bad the food was, because nothing was worse then Otae's tamagoyaki, but that really wasn't it. He just missed them, that's all.
"Why were you hitting your head against the bars," Hijikata softly asks.
Gintoki turned to look out the window with an expressionless face. "Was the only thing I could do to relieve the stress of being caged up."
Everyone remained silent now, not sure on what to say, not sure if they even wanted to speak anymore.
"We should leave those two to catch up," Kondo breaks the silence and pats Hijikata on the shoulder before leaving, everyone else following him out.
Silence continued on in the room with the two people. Hijikata shifted the chairs from where they were to beside the bed and sat down.
"Hey, long time no see," Hijikata softly mumbles, looking down at his feet. He doesn't really know what to say.
"Not really," Gintoki mumbles.
Hijikata blinks, "'Nice to see you again', was what you said the other time too. I don't understand how you could have recently seen me, because I haven't seen you."
"But you're just like all the others right?"
Hijikata frowns. What's he talking about? "What?"
"The others, you're just like them."
"The others in the dreams."
"I can't believe I have to explain this to you again."
Again? Hijikata's eyes were wide. What's happening? Is there something wrong with his brain?
"I would have dreams. If would always feel very real, but I wouldn't call them hallucinations."
He continued, "It would always start happy. I was with everyone, and everyone was with me. I would be in Kabuki Cho and not stuck in some stupid cage. I would be feeling the sun down my back, the rain against my face, the wind blowing through my hair. I would feel all that happiness, allow myself to fall into that dream, and I would wake up in this cage. The cage that was so grey. Grey."
Hijikata stared at him for a few seconds, unsure on what to say. He had let Gintoki be taken for so long, and he had to go through all this suffering, so it was his fault that he's like that isn't it?
"Hey," Gintoki snaps Hijikata out of his thoughts, "When I wake up, I'm going to still be in that cage right?"
Hijikata shook his head; "We got you out a few days ago. Piko and his men are all locked up now, they won't be escaping a second time."
Gintoki chuckles but has a sad expression on his face, "How cruel Hijikata-kun. You told me that the last time I saw you. You already know you can't play the same thing to me."
"No!" Hijikata stands up and shouts, "It's true Gintoki! We got you out of that cage, we found you! You're not in that cage anymore!"
"But when I wake up, that's exactly where I'm going to find myself in isn't it? You're cruel that way Hijikata-kun, always telling me that I'm out when I really aren't."
"Listen to me!" Hijikata screams, tears rolling down his cheek. This isn't the Gintoki he knows. This isn't the Gintoki anyone knows. Gintoki is deceiving himself into thinking he's still in that cage. Kondo and Sougo rush in when they heard the shouts and they pulled Hijikata away from damaging Gintoki anymore than he damaged himself already.
"Was I really that late?! Did I really find you that late?!" Hijikata sobs as he sags in Kondo and Sougo's arms, barely supporting himself to stand up. Gintoki just looks at him with expressionless eyes. He wasn't going to be drawn into this dream. Not again, not ever. He wasn't going to fall into the trap that his brain made up. Not anymore.
Kondo and Sougo bring Hijikata out and he flops lifelessly into the waiting chairs.
"What happened?" Shinpachi asks, and Hijikata takes a shuddering breath before saying, "He thinks he's still in a cage and this is all just a dream."
Shinpachi frowns, "Maybe if we just talk to him about it…"
"He's stubborn, remember?" Hijikata sadly smiles, "He won't listen."
"If you don't try, you won't know," Shinpachi says as he stands up, "Come on, let's go, Kagura-chan."
The two go in to convince Gintoki that he's not in a dream and its all real, but Hijikata knows that they're going to fail. He wonders if Gintoki will ever become normal again.
Doctor Kanna's black ears twitched and she looks up, as there was a knock on the door. "Come in," She says as she puts her pen down. Dark-haired woman was doing some paperwork at the moment, which she was relieved to put off for at least a short moment.
Hijikata quietly sits down in the seat in front of her. "Hijikata-san," She greets, "Is something wrong with Sakata-san?"
"Yeah," He shakily says, "He thinks he's in a dream."
"He thinks this isn't reality."
She gives him a sad smile, "That's really nothing wrong physically, you know, I checked his brain scans. It's mental damage that you're looking for, so you're talking to the wrong doctor."
"I know, I just…" Hijikata lets out a shaky sigh, "I just want to talk to someone who doesn't know him."
She smiles, "I see. I don't think you'd want to hear about his wounds then."
"What about his wounds? They were caused by him banging his head against the bars right?"
"Well, yes. But the reason on why he was banging it is rather… painful to hear."
"He told me," Hijikata says softly, "That it was the only option to relieve his stress."
"It's something like that. You see, now with this whole cat-thing, we're more animal then ever correct? Although we were animals to begin with."
Hijikata nods, understanding what she's talking about.
"And do you know what happens to animals in cages?"
Hijikata shakes his head.
"Well, animals aren't used to cages, they're used to roam free, so when they're put in a cage, they feel restricted. After a while, they pace. Sometimes when you go to the zoo, you see the animals pacing, and that means that they are under a lot of stress."
"But what has that got to do with…"
"Ah, I was just getting to that. When they feel very restricted, they cannot move freely, and it drives them crazy. And because they're going crazy, they start banging their head against whatever they are being kept in, perhaps as a way to try to escape."
"How do you know?"
"I had a project once, in high school. It was a project on bear bile and illegal animal parts used as fake herbs. We went for a lecture, and it was about the bears being kept for their bile. They were kept in very small cages. Some of the bears hit their heads so often and so hard that they have scars on their foreheads."
"So while he was in that cage, he was trying to escape in his own weird way?"
"I suppose you could say that," She smiles, hoping that she managed to make him feel better.
"Do you suppose he will have scars?"
"It is likely, since his wounds kept reopening from being hit on bars, but he could always cover it up with a fringe."
Hijikata smiles but still sadly. "As long as he's back to normal, scars are the least to worry about," He says as he stands to leave. Doctor Kanna shakes his hand and they exchange brief goodbyes before he leaves and she is left with her paper work.
Hijikata returns to the waiting area outside Gintoki's room to see that Shinpachi and Kagura are back. "So how did it go?" He asks.
Shinpachi sighs and Kagura shakes her head. He noticed that Otae was gone and figured that she was probably inside talking to Gintoki. He sends the kids home, not wanting them to camp out in the hospital and returns to his room in the headquarters.
He thought that it had ended when he found Gintoki, but apparently not.
He went back the next day, bringing Gintoki his strawberry milk as a gift. He smiled as he went in, not wanting to tell Gintoki that he was actually rather sad.
"Got you some strawberry milk," He says as he sits down beside Gintoki's bed and hands him the milk. Gintoki takes it, but doesn't drink it. "Thank you, Hijikata-kun, but I won't be drinking this."
"Why? I thought you liked strawberry milk?"
"The last time you gave me strawberry milk, I was drinking it halfway and I woke up to the cage."
"But what If I told you that it was different?"
"I don't see how it would get any more different."
"What If I told you that nothing would happen when you drink it and it will just stay like this?"
Gintoki laughs, "What are you talking about? It always happens. You always promise me these things and I always accept them too quickly. Why are you so eager to get me back in that cage?"
"Then why aren't you so eager to believe that you aren't in the cage anymore?"
Crimson eyes stare into serious blue ones. "You look like you haven't slept in a few days."
"Yeah," Hijikata sadly smiles, "How can I sleep when you're out there, missing, having god-knows-what being done to you."
Gintoki sighs, "Its really nice to know that you're looking frantically for me."
"But I've already found you."
Hijikata looks at Gintoki as the albino looks out the window. "The next moment you know, I'd be in that cage again, hoping that you'd come. It's really stupid how I can't get myself out."
"That's why I came to get you."
Gintoki turns back to Hijikata and smiles, "No you haven't."
"How can I prove it?"
"It's usually when I'm the happiest. The happiest moment in the dream."
"When everyone is laughing, enjoying themselves. When I'm with you."
"I'm with you now."
"But I'm not the happiest, not yet."
"I'm not going to tell you, because I don't want to fall again."
"I'm not telling you!" He shouts as he claps his hands over his ears and shuts his eyes tight. "I don't want to fall again," He whimpers.
"Okay, okay," Hijikata tries to calm him down and reaches to touch his hand but Gintoki jerks away, "Don't touch me!"
Hijikata is left stunned at the sudden outburst.
"Don't touch me," Gintoki repeats as he looks down at his blanket-covered knees.
"Because physical contact is… I'm not telling you."
"But you were close to spilling, might as well say it."
"No!" Red eyes turn back up to look at Hijikata and the officer can see the fear in those eyes. They looked like the eyes of a kid being bullied. Pressing his mouth in a thin line, he nods and leaves before Gintoki gets even angrier and hurts himself. I'll try again tomorrow, Hijikata thinks to himself.
Gintoki watches Hijikata leave and looks down at the small carton of strawberry milk.
"Idiot," Gintoki mumbles, "It's not even cold…"
Hijikata, Shinpachi, Kagura, and Otae visit Gintoki daily. They try to convince him, but after awhile, they stop and just tell him what had happened while he was gone. They told him what they did, what they didn't, what they didn't do when they were supposed to and what they did when they weren't supposed to. They told him all the events on when Catherine had gotten herself a boyfriend again but it ended up really weird.
Gintoki finally laughs and smiles, but no one can stop him from believing that this isn't a dream. They can't get him to believe that this is reality, because they had let Gintoki have the dreams too many times.
No, not they, Hijikata. Hijikata had taken too long and let Gintoki be more exposed to the dreams. It was his fault that he's like this, and much as to how he'd like his Gintoki back to normal, he's currently stuck in place like everyone else.
He hears his name on the way to the hospital and turns. Shinomiya was running down the street. "How is Gintoki-san?" He asks in between pants.
"Still the same," Hijikata sighs. Shinomiya says a small 'oh'. "I should have gone to you earlier…"
"Well, late is better then never. If not for you, he wouldn't be with us right now."
"That's…" Shinomiya blushes at the compliment.
Hijikata raises an eyebrow, "Are you procrastinating from your community service?"
Shinomiya squeaks, "Eep! Of course not!"
He quickly dashes off to sweep the floors of Kabuki Cho, and Hijikata continues on his way to the hospital. He stops in front of a supermarket, wondering if he should re-try the strawberry milk. It had been 2 weeks, and Gintoki was going to be discharged soon. He had to solve Gintoki's mental issue before he gets discharged or it would get very annoying and complicated, so he decides to quickly purchase the milk and be on his way.
"Hey," Hijikata greets. Gintoki cheerfully greets back, and so do Kagura and Shinpachi.
"You kids are here early," Hijikata mumbles as he grabs himself a chair.
"Well, Gin-san is getting discharged in 3 days, so we're excited," Shinpachi smiles.
Hijikata chuckles and Gintoki feels all warm and fluffy seeing Hijikata's smile.
"I thought I'd try again, but I don't think you'd accept it again," Hijikata says as he hands Gintoki the strawberry milk.
"It's cold this time," Gintoki laughs as he opens the carton and drinks it. "It's been awhile, strawberry milk!" He says happily.
"So are you convinced that this is reality?" Hijikata asks and Gintoki's smile stays in place. "About halfway though. There is only one thing that will seal the deal."
"And what's that?"
Gintoki's smile disappears, "It's too much of a gamble though. If it works out, then it's very good, but if it doesn't then it's very bad."
"Why is it very good?"
"Because that means I'm finally out of the cage."
"And then why is it very bad?"
"Because that means that I got my hopes up but ended up in the cage again."
"Wouldn't you want to take the risk?"
Gintoki looks at Hijikata sadly, "You were always the one to make me fall, you know that?"
"Yes. You would always tell me what I wished to hear, but then you would betray me and I would end up in the cage."
"But what if I told you it's different?"
"It will never be different. You have cruelly made all my dreams into loops, to start happy, and end torturous."
"You're already half-believing this reality, Gintoki."
"Out of everyone, you always made me wake up to the harshest reality."
"This reality won't be harsh at all, I promise."
"Really? What will you do if it's all a lie?"
"I'll commit seppuku."
Gintoki laughs, "I guess it's fair enough. We'd both be dead then."
"So what do you need to do?"
"You mean what you need to do."
"I have a feeling that we're unwanted and have stayed in this room for too long, so I'll leave you two guys at it," Shinpachi says, pulling the protesting Kagura out with him, giving the two men their privacy, "Tell us how it goes, okay, Hijikata-san?"
Hijikata nodded as the two headed out.
"Well, Shinpachi didn't really need to do that."
"But I feel more comfortable to do whatever that you want me to do now."
"Is that so?" Gintoki chuckles.
"Hey! There are shy people in this world!"
"Yeah, just not you!" Gintoki giggles.
"Look can we get this done and over with?" Hijikata mumbles, flushing slightly.
"Okay. What you need to do is to kiss me."
"What?" Hijikata raised an eyebrow.
"That's what you did before. And that was also when I fell back to reality from the highest level of the building. It was the most cruel joke ever played on me, Hijikata-kun."
"You want me… To repeat the most cruel thing done to you in the cage?"
"It is when I'm the most happiest."
"But wouldn't that mean that I'm going to make you even more hurt if it turns out that you are still in that cage?"
"Are you saying that I am still in the cage?"
"N-no! I'm just… Going along with your stupid belief."
"Then it would be a lesson for me to learn from."
"Well… if it's okay with you then…" Hijikata mumbles as he leans in and touches his lips to Gintoki's. The black-haired male closed his eyes and let it last for a second before opening them and moving back. Gintoki's eyes fluttered open and Hijikata asks, "So is this still a dream?"
"No," Gintoki smiles, "If it were, I would be in the cage when I opened my eyes."
Hijikata smiles, "I told you so."
"Can I have another one?"
"Greedy asshole," Hijikata joked before leaning back down and giving him another kiss.
Gintoki opens his eyes to stare at the ceiling of the cage, breathing in the smell of dust and dried blood, hearing the absolute nothingness, and touching the cold steel of the cage floor.
"No," He breathes, "No, no, no, no! He promised me! I was out of this hellhole!"
He stands up and circles around the cage before gripping and punching the bars. "You promised me!"
"Why are you always so cruel to me?!"
"How much do you want me to suffer?"
Gintoki's body springs forward to sit upright and eyes snap open to see Hijikata's face and his room. He's panting and sweating and feeling an adrenaline rush.
"Hey, I'm right here," Hijikata frowns and gives Gintoki a hug.
"I had that stupid nightmare again," Gintoki mumbles into Hijikata's chest.
"I could tell, you punched me in the stomach."
"Oh, I did? I'm sorry Hijikata-kun," Gintoki laughs as he snuggles closer to Hijikata.
"I have to go to work you know."
"Can I come?"
"Don't want you to leave me."
Hijikata sighs and pulls Gintoki's head from where it was against his chest, looks into those crimson eyes before dry lips touched equally dry lips.
"Hey, I'm right here," Hijikata repeats, "And I'm not going anywhere."
Hijikata chuckles, "I'll commit seppuku if I ever did, but if I die in my line of work, then it would probably be the equal to seppuku."
"You can't die and leave me here."
"I'm not planning of dying anytime soon."
"Good because I plan on being with you until we're wrinkly."
"I don't think I ever want to be wrinkly."
"This is a fact of life, Oogushi-kun," Gintoki grins before pouncing on the officer and tickling him.
"Hey! You two going to come out and eat breakfast or what?" Shinpachi shouts from the living room and the two giggling men emerged from Gintoki's room.
The four of them sat down for breakfast and they ate like a family.
Gintoki is more then halfway back to normal, although no one was that normal yet, with the whole cat-ear-tail thing, but Hijikata is only thankful that Gintoki doesn't believe that reality is a dream anymore.
He's thankful that Gintoki is now back with them, which is the same with Gintoki, because the whole of Kabuki Cho is his family and he doesn't want it to be taken away from him ever again.
Thanks for reading guys, haha C:
Frankly I thought it could be longer, but my writing skills aren't that high yet so this is the best I could do haha. Hope you liked it C: