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In the Wake of the Battle

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Gin couldn’t stand it, the filth. It reminded him too much of the past.

He had just returned home from a job that had turned violent. He had been hired to investigate a shady company by the Shinsengumi because they needed someone they could trust who couldn't be recognized as part of their organization, but would be competent enough to handle a situation that went bad. They knew their unrecognizable members weren't capable, and even most of their higher members were useless in these types of investigations. They couldn't handle the pressure.

Gintoki knew he could handle himself. That had never been doubted in his mind or others, but now that the adrenaline was gone and he was all alone, his mind wandered. It went back to his days as the Shiroyasha. To all the lives he ended, but mostly to all the lives he failed to save.

After all the battles, when everything was quieted in a hush of mourning and somberness, he could feel the blood and dirt caked into his clothes and hair, and his skin was dyed with what once was. He hated the aftermath of battle. It was when he was forced to acknowledge what he did and saw, and who hadn't make it out.

He walked further into his apartment, still numbed from his thoughts of the past. He was like the ghosts who still haunted him. He thought of how they must be waiting for him to join them. But what if they turned in disgust from him for not saving them, he could have saved them. Why was he here when they weren't?

He should have saved him, Shouyou was the reason for his existence. He was the one who gave him a life, the first one to treat him like a human, and what had he done in return? Taken his life because he wasn’t strong enough to kill those who sought kill the ones he loved.

He had tried to separate himself from love. Otose had picked him up from his lowest; he was forever grateful to her for that. His kids latched onto him, and wouldn’t let him go. He hoped to give them a better life than the one he had, he deeply cared for them and their happiness. Still, he remained detached form love. This however changed upon meeting Hijikata.

Hijikata was an overly brash, hotheaded authoritative figure. The exact type of person Gintoki felt the need to rebel against. But as time progressed, he began to see that Hijikata held those he cared for dearly close, and that he too was plagued by his past. He had weird obsessions just like him, and that self sacrifice was the only way they knew to show others that they cared. They were made from the same thorny bush. They were so different yet similar, and worked so perfectly together. Hijikata had made him love again, and it terrified him. What if he lost another person he loved? Gin knew Hijikata was strong, but that didn't make him invincible. He couldn't stand to lose anyone else.

A knock on his door drew him from his thoughts. He knew the kids were away at Otae's house for the night, and it was too late for a job request. He slowly shuffled to the door, dragging his feet with exhaustion. When he opened it, Hijikata stood there, looking mildly disheveled from the stress of the case, and said, "You never reported back to anyone, and I got worried when I couldn't find you."

"I was tired so I thought I'd go home, " Gin said still not fully present, "I needed to be away from all the chaos."

"You don't look fit enough to handle any of those idiots right now. Is there anything I can do for you?"

He thought for a moment before pointing over his shoulder towards the bathroom, "I need to get this stuff off me, I feel disgusting."

Gintoki went to start a bath, while Hijikata went to get Gin a change of clothes. When Hijikata entered the bathroom to set the clothes down, Gintoki had already rinsed his body and was laid out in the bath with his head resting on the edge of the tub with his eyes closed. Hijikata took a seat on the stool by the bath, and asked "Want me to wash your hair?"

Gin looked up, nodded, and shifted so his back was to Hijikata. Hijikata started to spread soap throughout Gin's hair, massaging his scalp as he went. With every rinse, the blood dried in his hair was cleaned off, and Gin could feel himself coming back to the present, being freed from the filth of the past that weighed him down. No longer were his thoughts on his failures, but on the one behind him treating him gently. He leaned into Hijikata's touch, he needed this, he needed Hijikata.

Hijikata made him feel at peace. They both struggled with their pasts, but being together allowed them to focus on the here and now and simply find comfort in each other's company. Hijikata pulled him from his darkest places through his simple gestures, and that made Gin love him all the more.

Gin reached back and grabbed Hijikata's hand before he could put more soap into it, and held it to his lips, cherishing the warmth of the body he held close to him. Seeing this, Hijikata leaned down and kissed the top of Gin's still dripping curls. They both treasured the love the other gave them. Gin smiled into the hand he was pressing against his face. He couldn't imagine another person making him any happier.