"Kondou," said Katsura.
They were loitering on their hotel room fire escape, waiting for the sun to set and enjoying the warm summer breeze. So far their conversation had been safe.
Kondou braced himself. The thoughtful look on Katsura's face was never a good sign.
"Do you think I'm really that attractive?"
What's 'that'? What's 'that attractive'? Kondou wondered irritably. You compliment the guy one time and, geez, straight to his head! "You're attractive," he said, deciding to forgo the sarcasm he felt boiling up within him. Katsura knew he was attractive. There was no point encouraging him with a dramatic reaction.
"I mean... do you think I'm the kind of attractive that even a normal man couldn't resist?"
"Well, yeah," said Kondou frowning. "I'm living proof."
Katsura stared at him for a moment. "You're not normal."
"Oi! I am too normal!" said Kondou unable to keep from defending himself. Katsura's non-confrontational, matter of fact tone annoyed Kondou even more than the patronizing one Katsura usually used on him.
"But you're a gorilla," said the jouishishi. Katsura wasn't tactful, and offensive ill thought out questions and commentary was really a forte of his.
Kondou sighed. "Who are you even talking about?" he asked by accident. "Do we even know any 'normal' people?"
Of course just ignore the fact that your lover is standing right there in front of you, go ahead and discuss the people you wanna seduce. Kondou grit his teeth. Don't encourage him, don't encourage him, don't encourage him any more, he kept telling himself.
"Well... no one in particular really," said Katsura. "But say... someone like Gintoki."
"Oh," said Kondou flatly. "In what universe is that guy normal?"
"He's surprisingly well adjusted."
Kondou frowned. "So you want him to notice you, huh. That's nice."
Katsura narrowed his eyes at him. "Are you upset? I can't tell."
Do you WANT me to be upset? Kondou's frown deepened. Katsura had a habit of doing this - saying outrageous things and sitting back with that ridiculous impassive look on his face waiting to see a reaction. Stop, Kondou told himself. Just stop. Don't encourage him...
"No, I'm not upset. You can like whoever you want, I'm not your master."
"Hmm," said Katsura, his head tilted inquisitively as he eyed Kondou with appraisal. "He's an old friend so it's natural that I'd be curious. Especially since he's quite attractive himself."
"Yeah, completely natural," said Kondou. There were good, romantic, serene days, and there were days he just wanted to shoot the bastard. Of course, that was exactly the kind of reaction Katsura wanted from him. He liked to test Kondou. He liked to make Kondou sweat, one way or another. Everything turned into an experiment with Kondou as his willing lab rat. Lab monkey. Lab gorilla. A small grumble of discontent escaped Kondou's throat before he could silence himself.
Katsura's mouth turned up very slightly at the corners. "I wonder if I should ask him. It's been on my mind lately, ever since we started doing these things. What that might be like. With him."
"It's been on your mind? Do you think of him while we're doing it, too?" said Kondou, jumping to all kinds of conclusions before he could stop himself, voice slipping a bit on the sarcastic front. He wasn't known for self-restraint. Even knowing Katsura's master plan, Kondou always fell for it. Invited it even, he knew, with his complete inability to ignore certain egg-headed long-haired criminal elements.
"Don't be stupid. There's no way I could, you're nothing like him."
Why did that feel like such an insult. "You have the most insanely vivid imagination of anyone I've met, so yeah, I think you could," said Kondou. There was definitely a tremor in his voice, damn it.
"Even if I do, you have no right to complain," said Katsura, frowning.
Kondou bit his lip. "How do you figure?"
Goddamn it! "I don't think of Otae-san like that. Anymore." Much.
"There's no way I would believe that. You're obviously the one who started this."
No. He hadn't brought up Otae for weeks! And even if Kondou did occasionally reminisce about his past love, Katsura wasn't privy to that fact, and therefore it absolutely didn't count. This sudden tension wasn't his doing; it was all Katsura.
Kondou took a deep breath, the kind one takes before running a 400m dash. "Oh yeah? Ikumatsu."
"Hijikata." Katsura glared at him.
"I do not have a thing for Toshi!!" said Kondou. "Takasugi!"
"How dare you!" said Katsura. "I have nothing to do with that bastard!"
"Yeah, right! An evil, pretty-boy psychopath just waiting to have his heart moved and rehabilitated by his noble and heroic childhood friend? Like you could resist that. Drama queen!"
"At least I'm not pretending to be simple and kind-hearted so all my subordinates moon over me while I still get away with being a shameless Stalker!"
"What about you pretending to be some charming clueless idiot for attention! Nobody could really be that stupid! Admit it! Admit you're not a moron!"
"A person CAN be that stupid! You're proof!" said Katsura. "You admit you're not a naive pushover! You're actually pretty competent, right? RIGHT?"
"Shut up! Hypocrite!"
"You shut up! Masochist!"
"Go rot in prison! Terrorist!"
"Go commit seppuku! Traitor!"
"Standby Side Character!"
"Top Ten Drop out!"
"That poll was rigged! No way was I beaten by some Okama!"
"This okama's beaten you three times already! Go suck bananas in Hell! Gorilla gorilla gorilla!"
"Go suck salad-flavored Nmaibou in Hell! Zura zura zura!"
"It's not Zura, it's Katsura, you degenerate! You're a gorilla and no one will ever love you! You're just a low-grade gorilla!"
"Oi! That's low-LAND gorilla! Just die! Your stories are too long! And BORING!"
"Shut up! They're metaphors! Incompetent pants shitting samurai!"
"BORING metaphors! Go write yourself some more fan letters, publicity whore!"
"Go shave off that beard, middle aged wannabe!"
"Me?! Go shave your head! What's with that stupid old fashioned long hair!" said Kondou. "Sensei Complex!"
Katsura gasped. He also slapped Kondou hard across his right cheek. A slap from Katsura was like a left hook from most people. Luckily, Kondou was more masochistic than most people, so it wasn't much of a punishment. Additionally, Otae's merciful tutelage had rendered him immune to most forms of physical violence.
"Ow!" said Kondou, nevertheless, holding his face. Before he could think up a good reason to slap the young jouishishi back, Katsura moved in on him.
"Stupid Cockroach! Perverted Geezer! Afro ass! Walking Petri dish! Government Puppet! Tax Thief! Bakufu Dog! Country bumpkin samurai trash! Shinsengumi has been!" said Katsura really getting into it now and giving Kondou's shin a nice hard kick for accompaniment. And then another.
"OW," said Kondou. Katsura always went for the shins, probably because not only was getting kicked in the shins painful, it was also really annoying. "Fine! Sorry! I'm sorry! Stop it!"
Katsura glared, his hands still folded into angry fists, though the kicking did stop. "You're dead to me."
"Okay, sorry, sorry," said Kondou. Going way too far was right in Kondou's wheelhouse, and like usual he'd taken that pitch and knocked it out of the park once again. Katsura's hair was off limits as was his 'tragic past' of which Kondou still knew only the most basic of details (meaning he definitely shouldn't have gone there). "Don't go killing me off. Come here." He boldly reached out and pulled Katsura into a hug because over the years Kondou'd found that his hugs fixed anything (except with Otae-san where they just got him pleasantly murdered).
He sighed, relieved that the upset terrorist seemed to be accepting his affection (since for Katsura, assassination was always an option). Geez, Kondou was the one getting beaten up, why did Katsura get to be comforted?
Not that it was bad. It was too late to get revenge on the slapping front; he might as well get a nice rare cuddle out of it. Katsura was a busy man and always on the run, so Kondou really did appreciate the times he could grab hold. He squeezed the jouishishi tighter, breathing in deeply the scent of chocolate Nmaibo and gunpowder.
"Gorilla lover," Kondou muttered into Katsura's hair.
"Hn," came Katsura's muffled reply. "Hopeless idiot."
Kondou sighed, a small smile working its way onto his face. "Yeah."