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Whispers in the dark

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"Damn!" Hijikata curses, panting. "We just had him! Shit!" He pulls a cigarette out of his front pocket and lights it up as he runs, trying to inhale properly while panting. The officers running close behind him cough at the sudden smoke invasion of their lungs, and others nearby give them pitying looks.

"It's okay, Toshi, we'll get him soon, He went to the right, lets follow him there," Kondou says beside him, barely breaking out a sweat after all the chasing Otae-san he does.

"It's all your fault, Hijikata-san. Shouldn't have stopped to clean your shoes," Sougo's irritating voice says monotonously beside him.

"You were the one who put mayo in them!" Hijikata angrily snaps back. "Go commit seppuku and die, you bastard Sougo!"

"Fall of a cliff and die, you bastard Hijikata-san."

"Drown to death in your tears, you bastard Sougo!" He yells back angrily.

Before they could start playing a game of 'you die' 'no you die' 'no, you die' for hours like they always do, Kondou intervenes.

"Calm down, you two! Katsura is heading towards the Kabukichou district, we'll be able to catch him if we spread out on the rooftops," he says, before commanding the officers beside them to spread out. "You two, come with me."

Sougo and Hijikata give each other the stink eye, disliking how they have to work together. However it is Kondou making the request, and they can't refuse him.

"Fine, Kondou-san, but if this cocky brat does anything to get in my way I'll make him commit seppuku," Hijikata snarls.

"Calm down, Toshi! We'll just--"

"Hey," Sougo interrupts, and Hijikata is about to smack him for interrupting Kondou, when he continues. "Isn't that Katsura heading towards the Yorozuya house?"

"Wha-?" The mayo addict and gorilla turn to confirm it and yep, that is the empty headed long haired idiot running up the Yorozuya steps.

Sougo pulls out his bazooka and loads, aiming at Katusra's moving head but Kondou holds out a hand to stop him.

"Wait a moment, Sougo, don't be so hasty," he pulls out his binoculars, and the two of them do the same.

"Yeah, maybe we can catch him planning Jouishishi rebellions or something with the perm head, the we'll have evidence to send them both to jail," Hijikata says eagerly, ready to throw that permy good for nothing in jail anytime.

The three of them watched Katsura enter the house without knocking, and they spread out. Sougo keeps watch on the door, Kondou the bedroom and living room windows, and Hijikata the back.

Kondou motions for the both of them to turn on their radio transmitters.

"Any motion on your part?" Sougo asks while fixing his bazooka to his desired setting.

"Ah, the bedroom window is open so I can see in," Kondou comments while adjusting his goggles. "Sakata-san is asleep, but. . . what? Is he moving? Oh, Katusura came in the living room, he's looking around, now he's walking," he states suddenly.

Hijikata jumps over buildings and runs across roofs as does Sougo to get to where Kondou is.

"What's this? Are the two of them lovers or something?" Sougo snickers gleefully, being the gossip loving, blackmailing sadist he is.

"Hey, are you sure you should be leaving your area? What if he suddenly leaves through the front door?" Kondou asks, concerned.

"Don't worry, I have my bazooka set up. I click this button and it will shoot right at the door," he expressionlessly says, showing a little button thing. Hijikata and Kondou look to see that he had some how, some time managed to get it set up on a stand and everything.

"Ah, if he leaves through the back door, well, we'll be able to see it from here," Hijikata informs his superior, and Kondou nods in acceptance.

"Damn, if only we could hear what is going on," Hijikata mutters scornfully. "We might be able to find out if they are having any Joui meetings or some thing."

"Ah, that's right, I had these made," Sougo remembers, fishing something out of his jacket. "Little microphone bugs," he throws them at the windows and passes his two superiors little ear buds. 

The two put them on and there was a screeching noise for a moment while Sougo adjusts some settings, before they hear what sounded like footsteps. The trio adjust their binoculars and watch and listen carefully.

 

 

 

 

"Gintoki? Are you here?" Zura asks as he walks though the Yorozuya household. "Ah, are you out drinking again? Gintoki, you shouldn't do that. It's not good samurai behaviour, and it's bad for your body," he lectures to no one, sounding like a nagging wife.

His feet pad though the house lightly, muttering something about his leader being asleep as he saw Kagura's closet. Finally he makes it to Gintoki's bedroom, and opens the sliding tatami door.

"Gintoki? Gintoki are you. . ." he stops as he sees his former comrade shaking on the ground. His usual idiotic look is quickly replaced by a much more serious look.

"Gintoki?" he calls lightly as he made his way to the shivering frame. He crouches beside him and calls again. "Gintoki?"

Gintoki is sweating, his breath coming out harshly in pants and pained heaves. His hands are clutching the futon with a grip so tight it could bend steel, and his body is shaking like a naked man in the north pole.

Zura shakes Gintoki gently with one hand, and the other calmingly strokes his messy permy silver hair. "Gintoki, wake up, it's me, Katsura," he coaxes, ruffling his hair a little.

When Gintoki doesn't respond, he tries another tactic.

"Look at you, Gintoki! You're a shame to all samurai. How can you lie there so unsophisticatedly? Button up your night shirt properly at the very least!" His voice takes on his normal tone, though it was a smidge softer and quieter. 

Gintoki's eyes twitch, and after a moment, they shoot open while he shoots up.

His eyes are wide saucers, his heart is thumping at a speed faster than a Gorilla running away (or to) Otae-san, and horrible, awful memories are being played repeatedly in his head. He shakily lifted his arms to cover his ears to stop the goddamn screaming, even if he was the Shiroyasha he couldn't save them all, he was just one man, so please stop it, he--

"Honestly, Gintoki, you shouldn't be having nightmares at your age! You're a grown man, not a child!" Zura says, just for the sake of saying it and letting Gintoki hear his voice. Gintoki's eyes focus a little.

"Zu. . .ra?" He asks, voice as shaky as his body.

"Its not Zura, it's Katsura!" he quickly replies back, and Gintoki's body is now trembling only a third as hard as it was before, which is still a lot. Whatever he dreamt about, Zura can sympathize, though he doesn't want to know what it was about or think about it.

Gintoki shakily grabs one of Zura's hands, and Zura lets him, encouraging him even.

"Zura, you. . ."

"I'm here Gintoki, you're here too, and we're okay," he says while staring at Gintoki as normally and Zura-like as he can, adding the last 'we're okay' part because sometime after bad dreams a scar will begin to hurt as you relive the memory of it coming into existence, phantom wounds, but Gintoki doesn't seem to be in any physical pain. Mental pain, however. . .

"There is also Shinpachi-kun and Leader and Otose-san and Catherine and Tama and Elizabeth and--"

"I get it, I get it, I'm at the Yorozuya," he tries to snap back normally but couldn't find it in him, the retort sounding weak and more like a cry for help.

How Gintoki's hand unconsciously squeezes his does not escape Zura's notice.

"That's right, you're at the Yorozuya, I'm at the Yorozuya, Sakamoto is in space with his Kaientai and Takasugi with his Kihetai, and--"

"Damn you, Zura, shut up!" His voice isn't as shaky any more, he was trying to hide it. Though he said for Zura to shut up, they both knew the banter helped him regain himself, his surroundings, which was why Zura went along with it.

"Its not Zura, its Katsura," he reminds Gintoki, but he shuts up after that.

They sit in silence, Gintoki holding Zura's hand while Zura sits there and tries to help his close friend by being there for him. Finally after a few long silent moments Gintoki lets go of Zura's hand.

Though he was still shaking, Zura knew he'd be okay now, because the shakes were no longer a gut wrenching fear taking over him, immobilizing his body, but just the tremors and aftershocks of a horrible nightmare, and Zura knew that because he used to have them after nightmares too.

Which is why when Gintoki lied back down, Zura spoke to distract him, because too much silence was bad after a nightmare that left you shaking like that.

"You still have them?" They both knew what he was talking about

Gintoki doesn't meet his eyes. "Yeah. But they aren't as bad anymore."

Zura frowns. "Mine stopped after I met Elizabeth and started leading the new peaceful Jouishishi."

Gintoki doesn't respond to that, staring up at the ceiling and Zura continues.

"Takasugi's stopped when he met that Bansai fellow and started the Kihetai, though he has other disturbing dreams of destroying things, and Sakamoto's stopped some time after he built his Kaientai with Mutsu."

Gintoki took the words in, also eager for the distraction but didn't say anything.

Zura finally says what he wants to.

"I thought you'd stop having them when you met Otose-san and formed the Yorozuya. Or, at least when you met Shinpachi-kun and Leader."

Gintoki has no words for that. "Guess not," he mutters eventually.

Zura frowns, his distraction is making things worse. He drops his hand near Gintoki in case he wanted to have something to hold onto, and Gintoki placed his hand on top of Zura's, wanting the comfort and warmth his friend offered.

They sit like that a long while, Gintoki trying to shop his after shakes and failing while Zura tries to think of whatever he can to help.

"What was it about?" he finally asks, because that was what Elizabeth used to ask, and it helped him.

"The raid a month after Takasugi's eye," he says quietly after a moment, and Zura tries but can't not flinch.

"That was a bad one," he says after a moment.

"Yeah."

"Tell me?"

Gintoki sighs. "It was pretty much the same thing as the real one. The Amanto, the deaths, Takasugi's eye, but. . . as I was leaving the battlefield. . . there were screams, all our fallen were screaming, begging and yelling me to save them, and then all of a sudden all of our dead comrades were around me, asking me why I wasn't helping them, why I didn't save them, cursing Shiroyasha for not being there in their every breath and yelling, and. . . I can still hear it, if I listen. The voices never shut up sometimes."

Zura isn't shocked. This isn't the worst but is terrible for the mind and heart. It weighs you down with the guilt, every scream of 'why didn't you save me' another ton, until you feel like you're being squished and can't breathe, and--

"Zura?"

"Yes, Gintoki?"

"Why are you here?"

"Oh!" That's right, he forgot his purpose of coming there after seeing Gintoki in that bad state. "The Shinsengumi were chasing me again and I needed a place to hide."

"Don't come freely into my house! Sheesh, you're such a pain," Gintoki grumbles.

"I should be going. Elizabeth is waiting for me at the okama bar," he says after another moment, because he knows Gintoki would be okay when he started spitting out his usual comebacks and remarks.

"Yeah, whatever." But none of them move their hands, enjoying the heat, warmth, and care coming from the other.

 

Finally, Gintoki removed his large hands from on top of Zura's slim and feminine ones.

Zura gets up and heads toward the door as Gintoki rolls over, body still slightly trembling. He stops halfway and stands there for a moment before speaking.

"Gintoki, you know you can come to me anytime--"

"Yeah, yeah, now leave, I don't want wig-heads in my room."

"It's not Wig-head! It's Katusura!"

"Yeah, yeah, now leave."

 

 

 

 

Hijikata, Sougo and Kondou don't move even as Katusura leaves the house. Hijikata at least tells Yamazaki via radio transmitter to head to the okama bar to capture Katsura, but they continue to watch Gintoki's trembling form as he tries to act okay.

"Shit," they hear him mumble.

It's strange, seeing someone so strong. . . not strong. Gintoki having a nightmare, trembling and holding onto Katsura, for unknown reasons it makes Hijikata's heart clench a little.

It must be pity, he thinks, because he isn't attracted to the bastard. At all. Uh huh.

It is another quiet moment, before they hear a door slam and jolt a little. Who would be entering the Yorozuya house this late? Is is a robber? As officers of the law, they can't ignore a thievery right in front of them, and using that reasoning they stay.

 

 

 

 

"Gin-san?" Shinpachi lightly calls out.

He stumbles in, hoping Gintoki isn't wasting their hard-earned money on booze again. After dropping off the few bags we was carrying into the kitchen, he goes and checks on Kagura, who is muttering about Papi flavored sukonbu  -- Shinpachi doesn't want to know what kind of dream she must be having to mutter about pickled seaweed that tastes like her dad.

He then checks on Gintoki, and is relieved to see he is there, but after a moment his happiness turns into worry because Gintoki's shaking again.

Quickly, he turns around and shakes Kagura hard, urgently, and she wakes up.

"What is it Pachi-boy-aru?" She mutters angrily as she gets out of her closet at his request. "Do you know what time it is-aru? Why are you even here at this hour-aru? Go home-aru."

"I had on Otsuu-chan concert and went grocery shopping after," he replies but his voice is faint, and it catches her attention.

"What's wrong-aru?"

Her question is answered when she sees Gintoki shaking.

Her immediate reaction is to fly to his side and cuddle into his arm, and Shinpachi sits beside them. He strokes Gintoki's hair, and Kagura tries to offer comfort by cuddling.

"Is it a nightmare-aru?" she whispers sadly, and Shinpachi shakes his head.

"I don't know, I just got here. I thought he was over them, he was doing so well. . ."

"He must have been faking it for us-aru," Kagura whispers back.

"I thought we were hiding the fact that we did this so well, though."

"Yeah, but this is Gin-chan. There's so much about him we don't know-aru." Kagura's voice sounds so childish, but yet at the same time so mature.

Shinapachi lies down on the other side of Gintoki's shaking body. "I hope he gets better soon," he whispers as he lies on Gintoki's arm. 

"Me too-aru."

Though they both intended to stay by Gintoki until he stopped shaking, they both quickly fall asleep.

Gintoki sighs, pulling up the blanket on his two children, shifting so that they can lie on him peacefully.

 

 

 

 

The Shinsengumi trio leave, feeling like intruders during a family issue. The way Gintoki looked at his kids, the way he shook at night by himself, they knew they'd never see him as just a lazy perm head again.

 

 

 

For the first time in the night, Gintoki is finally still, kid on each shoulder.