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Today’s just one of those days.

Not like several of the ones Gintoki’s had in the past, where he wakes up to find that he’s mysteriously switched bodies with the dog, or accidentally smashes the clock that controls the space-time continuum or anything like that. Rather, it’s the opposite—one of those once in a blue moon days where everything just seems to be going right.

First of all, he’d found 500 yen at the bottom of his boot this morning when he went out to buy more toothpaste—Kagura had accidentally squeezed lube onto her toothbrush, and Gintoki had never snatched anything away from her so quickly before in all his days. Thank god she was still half asleep and didn’t have the capacity to look at him with those big, innocent eyes and ask “Gin-chan, Gin-chan, what’s that you’re hiding?”

And then on the way home from the convenience store, he’d passed by a display window for a diner that was having a buy one get one free sale for parfaits—parfaits! So of course he’d rushed straight there right after throwing the tube of toothpaste into Kagura’s snot-bubbly face and spent his lucky 500 yen, which, incidentally, was all the money in his wallet at that moment. It’s fine, it was 500 yen well-spent.

Not to mention later that night, when he’d had enough of Shinpachi’s scolding and Kagura’s complaining and headed out to wander, penniless, through the streets of Kabukicho, he’d stumbled upon Hasegawa-san passed out in the seat of his booth at the pachinko parlor they frequented. And being the good friend he was, Gintoki had shoved him out of the chair—Madaos are familiar with floors anyway, it’s fine—and taken his place. And whaddya know, Hasegawa-san’s sacrifice had ended up paying off after all, because Gintoki leaves the parlor that night with his wallet fatter than it’s been in ages.

So it’s only natural that he wants to draw out the rest of his luck, right? Ketsuno Ana’s horoscope for Libras this morning hadn’t been anything particularly fortuitous—”Remember to stay hydrated today!”—but still Gintoki feels as though she’s blessed him, specifically, with her good graces on this fine day in history. Such a benevolent and loving woman!

Speaking of women, Gintoki’s already planned out his next destination, too. The first thing that had come to mind when he’d thickened up his wallet was booze. There may have been some fleeting thoughts concerning rent, salaries, food—but those all go out the window once he sees an advertisement board for a hostess club, and then he’s sold. Really, it hadn’t been hard, just a glance at the sign and a “oh right, those exist” was all it took. And it’s not Snack Smile either—he’s absolutely certain that Otae would either wring his neck, literally, for blowing all his money and not paying Shinpachi and Kagura, or would sic her girls on him and wring him absolutely dry.

It’s only when he’s already seated and surrounded by a boothful of women that he notices he’s not alone here tonight.

Well, no—he is, technically. And there are other patrons, too, but that's not what he means either.

There's a certain someone there, sitting alone in a booth, absolutely surrounded by hostesses waiting on him. And he doesn't look too happy about it, either. His arms are crossed irritably, he has a scowl on his face, and a cigarette between his lips.

Well.

They do tend to run into each other a lot, Gintoki begrudgingly admits, but he can't say he'd really been expecting to see Hijikata here of all places. He's never seemed like the hostess bar-going type.

But the women—dear god, they're forming a small crowd around him, offering Hijikata various bottles and sweets and snacks, all starry-eyed. Gintoki narrows his eyes a little bit in disbelief, squinting at the scene—the hell? He's not even doing anything! He's just sitting there looking like an asshole!

Whatever. He's not going to let Hijikata ruin one of his days again, so he turns back in his seat and holds up his empty cup for the hostess that had been attending to him to refill, only—

She's gone.

Gintoki swivels his head around, about to call for her until he notices her on her way over to...no. No! What's that? Where is she going! Oi, come back! Don't yell "Hijikata-han!" like that! Gin-san's right here—!

It's too late.

She's gone.

In fact, all the hostesses in the vicinity have abandoned their clients in order to crowd around Hijikata-han. What a ripoff! What's so good about that guy, anyway, Gintoki thinks while he blows an annoyed puff of air up into his bangs and squints even harder, scrutinizing the scene before him. Hijikata isn't saying anything, but he's looking as pissed off as he always is, like the stick shoved up his ass had been there since the moment he'd been born into this world.

Seriously, what does he have that Gintoki doesn't? Why don't hostesses fall at their feet to wait on him like that? It's just unfair!

Well, now that he looks a bit closer, he guesses Hijikata has pretty nice hair. It's the type that pisses him off to no end, all straight and silky-looking, falling neatly into that recognizable V-shape between his eyebrows. It must be so manageable. And soft, too, by the looks of it.

And Hijikata's body isn't bad, either, especially for all that garbage dog food he shovels into his mouth. They're around the same height, he and Gintoki, right? And maybe it's just the fact that the Shinsengumi uniform is admittedly pretty cool looking, but it especially seems to suit the Vice Commander. Although, Hijikata isn't even in uniform right now—he's wearing the yukata he usually wears when he's off duty, though Gintoki isn't really sure how he's come to know this piece of information either. But even still, he doesn't look bad, it still suits him. The low-cutting collar of the outfit shows off some of the definition on his chest pretty well, too.

Hijikata raises his glass then, tips back whatever drink he’s drinking, and it’s like suddenly Gintoki has super vision. He can see the imprint of Hijikata’s lips around the rim of the glass, the exact bob of his throat as he swallows, Adam’s apple moving enticingly with each gulp. This is it—1080p...no, 1440p. Hijikata swallows, and so does Gintoki.

And then there's those eyes. Gintoki can even picture them in his head, they're so striking. Cold, steely blue, sharp, intelligent—sometimes Gintoki feels like he's being pierced—in fact, it almost seems like Hijikata's looking right at him—

...

...

W.

Wait.

Um.

Oh no.

Oh no no no no no. No no no no no no no no no no no no no no nonononononononono. No. No.

He stands abruptly, knocking his leg on the edge of the table and sending a half-empty bottle of sake tipping over. No one notices, however, too busy fawning over their Hijikata-han to pay attention to one clumsy patron.

Is it just him or is this place getting a little warm? No, it's definitely not him, it's definitely this place. In fact, he needs to get out of here Right Now. Right now!

He does so, scurrying out of his booth, practically tripping over his own boots in his haste to high tail it. He spares one single glance back before he's out the door at the man who has, once again, ruined his night. Sitting at his side now is Kondou, which explains why he'd been there at all; Gintoki also notices that since the gorilla's arrival, the crowd of women surrounding the booth has thinned considerably. Someone even notices that his drink's been spilled and that he has, in fact, fled without paying.

That's his cue to leave—actually, that's like his 10th cue that he needs to get the hell out.

The panic starts to settle as he makes his trek home; it's probably still early enough for Kagura to be up, if she hasn't gorged herself on rice from downstairs and fallen asleep on the couch. Yeah. He'll just go home and everything will be fine. The horrible thoughts can't catch him in his own home, right?

But even with all the typical bustle on the streets, the singular question can't stop hammering against the inside of his skull, incessant and unyielding and absolutely, completely, unwelcome.

Since when has Hijikata been so hot?

 

 


 

 

He really hadn't been expecting to be forced to confront his, uh, problem this early on.

So last night, he'd gone home, completely sober, and immediately passed out in bed.

Yeah. That's definitely what happened.

He definitely didn't opt to take a long, long shower in which some other, uh, long things were also taken care of. Definitely not. He really quite refuses to think that it had happened at all—what? What's that? Nothing happened?

That's right. Nothing happened.

Anyway, the next morning—or afternoon, really, he'd absolutely refused to get out of bed that morning no matter how hard Shinpachi had mother-henned at him—was surely not supposed to happen like this. He'd resolved to himself earlier that night, safely burrowed into his futon with his head underneath the pillow, that he was just going to have to avoid the Vice Commander from now on until...well, forever.

This musing really had taken quite some time, because Gintoki kept getting distracted while reflecting back on exactly how and why his traitorous, traitorous brain had decided to take this route of interpretation, and that only led to him thinking back on what Hijikata looked like in the numerous times they've encountered each other. And each time, the best summation of his observations is: good. Except maybe that time he'd dressed up as a giant mayo bottle and pretended to be the prince of Mayo Land or wherever the fuck. And any other time the gorilla mangaka had decided to toss his character, good looks and all, into the trashcan—primarily with the mayonnaise thing.

But other than that, good. Yeah.

Which really only led to even more panic setting in—why? Why did this have to happen? Gintoki can't even remember the last time he's had an infatuation—Ketsuno Ana doesn't count, either.

Which ultimately leads to the resolution that Gintoki's just going to have to never see Hijikata's face ever again in all the time he plans to remain alive, which doctors tell him isn't very long due to his sugar intake, but screw them! He's going to live a long, happy, Hijikata-kun-free, sugar-filled life, dammit!

But all that internal monologue, those few hundred words spent describing his exact thought process in making such a conclusion, turn out to be an utter waste of time the very moment he steps out of his apartment and into the street, where Hijikata just so happens to be on patrol.

Ah, there's that face again. That devastatingly attractive face, cigarette hanging out of mouth and all.

Gintoki's not a nervous guy by any means at all. He says what's on his mind most of the time—more like blurts it out, really, regardless of the consequences, but at that moment he slaps a hand over his mouth in order to stop himself from saying "Looking good today, Hijikata-kun."

Why?

So instead he stands there looking like a fool, staring at Hijikata while trying to maintain his usual dead fish eyes. He has no idea whether it’s working well or not, because Hijikata is giving him a strange look, but that in itself isn’t so out of the ordinary.

“You got somethin’ to say, perm bastard?” Hijikata says around his cigarette, looking pissed already.

God, since when had his voice gotten so sexy too?

Damn that uniform looks good. Damn it all.

Wait...what's that piece of advice he's often heard about for situations like these? Something like...

Don't be intimidated, Gin-san...try to imagine him in his underwear!

...Boxers with mayo bottles printed on them. Other than that—a body he's sure is basically rock solid—

Oh no, he's hot!

So much for that.

“Nothing, tax thief,” he shoots back casually, peeling his hand from his mouth and shoving his pinky finger up his nose. Definitely not the wisest choice, considering the situation, but it’s like a reflex at this point. It doesn’t matter; at this point, his image really can’t be ruined by a couple of stray boogers picked every now and then.

He moves past Hijikata, waving a careless hand behind him in farewell, making sure not to look back even though he thinks he can feel eyes watching him go. This is hell, he thinks as he walks, making sure to maintain his leisurely pace. This is my personal hell.

He’d had a plan, dammit, but now the entire thing’s been dashed. He just had to go and see Hijikata’s stupidly attractive face first thing in the morning, huh? If there’s a god out there, he is certainly not looking out on Gintoki’s behalf. Because now, there’s a new plan formulating in his head already—one that deviates in pretty much the complete opposite direction from the one he’d thought of last night.

One look was all it had taken—one look at Hijikata in those stupid form-fitting pants and that stupid cravat around his neck and his stupid V-bangs and his stupid cigarette and his stupid eyes.

Gintoki wants him. Dear god does he want him.

He needs fuel to consider this more carefully, so his feet find themselves walking in the direction of the diner before his mind has a chance to catch up with it.

He’s actually forgotten his wallet at home today, which is ironic considering he did actually have the money to pay if he had just brought it along. But the great thing about restaurants is that they only bring you your bill after you’ve already eaten; the idea itself sounds foolish, as if it were made to attract people like Gintoki. After all, this is an occasion that most definitely calls for a parfait. (So what if he already had one yesterday? Every day is an occasion for parfait, you bastard.)

So he sits down in the booth that the waitress foolishly offer him, digs into the parfait that is foolishly brought to him, and begins to think.

...How exactly does this work again?

It’s been forever since he’s tried to actively pursue a specific person, okay! In fact, he doesn’t think he’s ever done it before—wait, okay, that’s a lie. He has, once. And it’d worked out, hadn’t it? So Takasugi’s barking mad now, but they’d had it pretty good back in the day, right? Also, Gintoki realizes this means he technically has a success rate of 100%—a solid bet if he’s ever seen one. He can totally do this! No one’s ever been able to resist the charm of a main character anyway—how else would he get by more than 300 episodes of picking his nose on camera while still having fangirls who keep screencap folders of him and draw smexy art of him and call him d*ddy? It’s his foolproof fallback.

And soon, Hijikata will join the masses of those thirsty Gintoki fans. He’s going to make damn sure of it.

(Gintoki vehemently avoids thinking about how, in fact, he’s already among the legions of thirsty Hijikata fans. Who’s thirsty? Not him, nope! Perfectly hydrated over here, thank you very much!

He takes another huge bite of parfait and immediately begins choking.)

 

 


 

 

"Where are you always wandering off to these days, Gin-san?" Shinpachi questions, arms crossed as he raises his eyebrows and observes Gintoki. "Are you looking for jobs? Because we really haven't had any work—"

"Oi, oi, Patsuan," Gintoki says carelessly, waving a hand as he leans back in his chair, feet propped up against his desk. "What else would I be doing? I, the responsible adult here? Of course I'm looking for work! In fact, do I have to do everything around here? Can't you two go try to find jobs while you're at it?"

"...Why do you sound so suspicious?"

"You wound me! Of course I care very much about the livelihood of our business! It's not like I'm wandering around the streets all day doing nothing! If there's work to be had, I can guarantee you that we'd be having it," Gintoki replies, putting a hand to his chest in mock hurt. Shinpachi doesn't look too impressed.

"Maybe Gin-chan's found himself a girlfriend!" Kagura pipes up from where she's lounging on the couch.

Gintoki begins choking on his spit; he has to sit up properly in his chair, beat a fist against his chest to clear himself up. Shinpachi and Kagura are both staring at him now with critical looks on their faces—god, don't these kids have anything better to do than stand there? It's the middle of the day, dammit! Go outside! Let Gin-san choke himself to death on his own spittle in the peace and quiet of his own home!

It totally doesn't have anything to do with the fact that Kagura's not completely off the mark with her interjection that he stands up and grabs his bokken and pulls on his boots.

"Yeah, Kagura, that's exactly it," he responds eventually, as he's in the doorway. "Gin-san's got a real nice lady to serenade—I'm off to see her now, actually. Her name's Pachinko-san."

And then he slides the door shut behind him.

Wandering around the streets all day doing nothing—so what if that's exactly how he's been spending his days lately? Only, he's not exactly doing nothing.

Why is it that when Gintoki would have been perfectly fine with never running into Hijikata once, he sees him everywhere, but the moment he actually goes out looking, the damn bastard is nowhere to be found?

Okay, yeah, it's not like he's memorized the Shinsengumi patrol routes or anything—most of their encounters honestly do happen by chance. So aside from literally loitering around the Shinsengumi headquarters waiting for a pair of V-shaped bangs to make their appearance, the most he can do is frequent the spots where he and Hijikata have come across each other in the past.

Which, as it turns out, is really fucking random. So most of the time he ends up walking up and down the same couple of streets a few times, maybe ducking into a shop every now and then. Even the local diner they both frequent sees the vice commander missing in action, and Gintoki would never admit it, but he's getting a bit tired of having sweet azuki beans over rice for lunch every day.

Anyway, he really ought to be actually looking for jobs—the money he'd miraculously come by last week is all but gone, blown on too many visits to Pachinko-san. Kagura's probably going to start going stir-crazy soon, though for now she seems to be content with lazing around all day sucking on sukonbu and pestering Otose for extra servings of rice. The job should come first, right? Yeah. Yeah, it should. He's a grown man and he's basically responsible for two children—he should have a little more discipline, right?

He sees Hijikata across the street at a tobacco stand out of the corner of his eye and—discipline who?

"Hi-ji-ka-ta-kuun," he drawls out, waving an arm in greeting. Hijikata looks up from where he's purchasing a new pack of Mayoboros and gives an annoyed little tsk when he sees Gintoki. How rude, but Gintoki's willing to brush it aside—he'd looked good while doing it, hair falling partly into his eyes and the shade of the roofing above the stand falling over his face in a way that makes the parts that the sunlight hit seem to glow.

"Oh, it's you," Hijikata says, a note of irritation in his voice, like just the idea of seeing Gintoki and having to speak to him is bothersome. Rude, indeed.

"Haven't seen you around lately, Mayora," Gintoki says, casually draping himself along the frame of the rooftop in a way that he's sure is enticing. Gin-san is a catch, after all, of course he is.

"You stalkin' me or some shit?" Hijikata asks, shaking a single cigarette up out of the new box to put between his lips. Gintoki's eyes follow the movement for a fraction, watching as those lips part to take stick between them.

"Don't compare me to that gorilla commander of yours," Gintoki retorts, only a beat late due to his distraction. Hijikata doesn't notice, shoving the cigarette cartridge into his breast pocket as smoke drifts up in curling wisps from the end of the one in his mouth. "I'm just observant, that's all."

Hijikata looks up at him, disdain clear on his face. "Then quit sayin' weird shit like that," he mutters. "You want somethin'? Don't you have a bench to sleep on or whatever?"

Yeah. Yeah, Gintoki sure does want something. He takes another look at Hijikata's mouth—yeah. Yep.

"Oi, don't compare me to that sunglasses guy! In fact, your characters hardly ever meet! I'm way better than him," is what Gintoki says instead of voicing his real thoughts. Ah, yes, it seems he's forgotten; other than being smoking hot, Hijikata also has a penchant for pissing him off at every turn.

"I don't even know who you're talkin' about," says Hijikata, blowing out a plume of smoke and holding his cigarette between his index and middle finger. "Anyway, if you're done wasting my time, I have a patrol to get back to."

Gintoki doesn't stop Hijikata as he moves past him, out from under the shade and into the warm afternoon sunlight. Hijikata disappears from into the throng of people within a few minutes, and Gintoki remains in the shade, watching the direction Hijikata had gone in until the clerk at the stand starts shooing him away.

 

 


 

 

It’s strange how, directly following their short conversation at the tobacco stand, Gintoki suddenly begins bumping into Hijikata a lot more regularly.

Not like it’s a daily occurrence, but it happens often enough now for Gintoki to notice the change. Sometimes, he’s alone, other times he’s with Sougo or Kondou or perhaps Yamazaki. Gintoki’s not always alone, either—the lack of work eventually drove Shinpachi and even Kagura to the point where they’d demanded something be done about it, so the Yorozuya were out and about once again, picking up small jobs and favors here and there. Nothing too involved, mostly repairing old furniture or broken windows or chasing after lost cats. Which—seriously, how many people lost their cats on a weekly basis? Take better care of your pets, dammit!

But the rate at which they see each other most certainly increases, and Gintoki ought to be happy about it, but if anything Hijikata seems more despondent than ever. It’s only when it’s just the two of them does Gintoki try anything, but it’s hard when one: they don’t really have much to talk about in the first place, and two: Hijikata becomes so closed off whenever they speak, answering in short, one word replies or not at all.

They aren’t usually like this around each other, right? Usually the both of them are a lot more—a lot more. They get angry at each other, throw insults, get in each other’s faces, but everything’s always dynamic, moving, never standing still like the way it has been with Hijikata’s curt replies.

And yet, they still run into each other—Gintoki doesn’t even have to go out of his way to try anymore, it just happens now like Hijikata’s taken up residence in Kabukicho or something. But in the end, he can only chalk it up to coincidence.

Something’s gotta give, sooner or later. Are his methods not working perhaps? Then again, he doesn’t really have any “methods” to speak of—his goal as of late has been to wrangle more than five words out of Hijikata’s mouth at a time. So actually, zero method. All he does is talk at him, try to make pleasantries masked in their usual insults, but it’s obviously not doing anything for the way of progress. Why is this so hard?

He comes across his solution on a Monday, when he’s at the store picking up the newest Jump.

Most of the time, he ignores all the other selections in the magazine section of the convenience store, but this one in particular catches his eye. The cover, printed in hot pink font and bold lettering, reads: 10 WAYS TO SEDUCE YOUR MAN.

Discreetly, Gintoki shuffles his way over to the magazine—Edopolitan—while holding up a copy of Jump in front of his face so as to not attract too much attention (and also to shield his face) and glances down at the magazine before quickly snatching it up, folding it in half, and sticking it between the pages of his Jump (which of course, he doesn't pay for—250 yen, in this economy? You're asking way too much of him, here! He had used up the last of his lucky money last night on drinks with Hasegawa-san, anyway).

The magazine burns a hole in his chest where it's tucked safely away in the folds of his kimono while he's on the way home. He doesn't know what he'd grabbed it like it. Impulse, perhaps, which seems to be the large motivating factor behind at least 80% of all his actions, so why not? Only this is a little different from all the other times he's just followed his gut or whatever. For one, the kids would absolutely not let it go if they ever found out about the magazine's existence. Kagura especially...Gintoki can already picture the snotty little smirk on her face, the devilish gleam in her eye. He'd be subject to her bidding for at least a good two months! This is prime blackmail material here!

He makes sure to scurry straight into his room, ignoring Kagura's greeting (or rather, inquiries about dinner) and deposit the Jump, with the copy of Edopolitan bulging unnaturally out of the edges, between the folds of his futon in the cabinet so that no one would find it.

It's just a backup plan. That's all. There's no harm in doing a little background research, right? He just wants to regain his footing a little bit here, get the upper edge back. And if he has to take tips from a trashy magazine...well, then, so be it. Hijikata's not going anywhere, after all, and neither is Gintoki's infatuation with him, apparently. So this is where he's at in life right now.

 

 


 

 

"Gin-chan, what's wrong with your shirt?"

Gintoki freezes where he's halfway out the door already, blood quickly turning to ice in his veins. This again? He's getting a little tired of Kagura ragging on his outfits all the time, to be honest, especially when she wears glorified jock straps as her hair ornament thingies.

"What are you talking about, Kagura-chan?" he says stiffly, trying his best to keep his tone light and conversational.

"Is the zipper broken or something? Why is it open so much?" she continues heedlessly, coming over to poke innocently at the exposed patches of skin right around his sternum. Except, an innocent poke from Kagura actually means a painful jab that makes Gintoki choke for a second—yeah, that's definitely going to bruise. She didn't break any ribs, did she? And why did she have to call him out like that? Why? He really, really didn't want anyone to notice, except for maybe Hijikata. Best case scenario, Hijikata gets an eyeful of his chest and abs and immediately goes wild for him, they run off together to a love hotel, and the rest is history.

Yeah, that's the plan alright.

Or at least, that's what Edopolitan had told him. "Want to catch the eye of your man? Make sure to wear something extra low-cut around the chest, lean in real close when you talk to him, maybe bend over to pick something up. He'll get an eyeful he can't resist!"

And since Gintoki doesn't really have any variation in outfits aside from what he occasionally wears in the winter sometimes—why was there an episode about his winter fashion anyway when he clearly does change it every 10 or so episodes out of 300, by the way?—but he figures wearing his black undershirt unzipped down far enough will have the same effect, right?

Except now Kagura is looking up at him with innocent concern in her eyes, like a mother who is worried her kid is secretly the loser with no friends at school. "If it's broken, you can tell me, Gin-chan," she says, her tone grave and nodding sagely. "You don't have to go out in public looking like that. We'll find the money to mend it, I promise!"

"It's not broken!" Gintoki snaps, pulling the zipper all the way up to ends of the collar with a single, quick zzzip motion. And then he turns and marches out the door, the red-lined fabric turtlenecked up around his chin uncomfortably.

So much for that.

It only takes him a couple seconds to realize that he looks like a fucking idiot right now with his undershirt zipped all the way up, so he unzips it until it's back to how it usually is. Damn, but now he's in a mood because of the whole thing. And here he'd been excited to try it out too.

Maybe he just won't even try to find Hijikata today. Maybe he'll actually look for some work to be done.

Maybe the dango stand over there is calling his name.

It definitely is, so he heads over and places an order, though the lady at the stand gives him a suspicious look—ah, his reputation precedes him.

It's at that moment where the voice he absolutely wants to hear the least sounds right next to him.

"An order of plain dango, please."

Gintoki whips his head around to see Hijikata standing there behind him. Hijikata barely spares him a glance, just narrows his eyes a little in Gintoki's general direction before picking up his skewer of dango, which he of course proceeds to coat with an ungodly amount of mayonnaise.

This is sick. It's absolutely sick. Right here in front of his very eyes, a perfectly good sick of dango is being absolutely disrespected, and yet all Gintoki can care about is the path it takes into Hijikata's open mouth. There is something terribly, terribly wrong with him.

He looks at his own stick of dango and a thought crosses his mind.

Is he really willing to go that far? Has he become the kind of person who would sacrifice a stick of perfectly good mitarashi dango in order to impress someone?

The answer is yes, apparently, and Gintoki has to live with the battle of self-disgust vs. thirst-slash-desperation as he surreptitiously unzips his undershirt a little bit, turns towards Hijikata, and pretends to accidentally drop his stick of dango on the ground.

Time seems to slow down as the dango falls, as if it's suspended in midair. Gintoki can see every last droplet of soy glaze, every minute detail as it falls and falls and falls, lonesome and tragic along its path. He almost wants to cry.

But he doesn't...he made the choice. This is who he is now. And he must live with it.

"Ahh, my dango!" Gintoki cries, leaning over to look at the sad stick of dango, now coated with dust, lying on the pavement. Hijikata's not saying anything, but Gintoki can't quite bear to look up at him to try to gauge his expression either. Instead, he bends over slowly to pick up his fallen snack.

"My dango is everywhere," he laments, even though there's really only one stick, but that's the line the magazine had told him to use, so he just sticks with it. He makes sure to linger over for a couple more seconds than necessary, hopefully giving Hijikata a good view—if he's even looking, Gintoki doesn't really know, because by the time he straightens up, soiled skewer of sweets in hand, Hijikata is gone.

Gintoki's eyes go dead and he drops the dango back onto the ground listlessly. If there were a camera around, he'd stare directly into it.

 

 


 

 

He only has one more trick up his sleeve from the Edopolitan advice column, but the conditions need to be just right for it to work. First, he and Hijikata need to have an actual conversation for anything to bear fruit.

And it's exceedingly difficult when Hijikata seems to have vanished from Kabukicho once again. On top of that, clients have begun to coming in once again with various requests, and they really can't be choosy with what jobs they decide to take right now, so Shinpachi ends up accepting all of them right away.

It's just barely noon when they've finished up their most recent job—seriously, how many cats are going to get out of their houses per week? Kagura and Shinpachi have headed back to the dojo for the afternoon; apparently Otae had brought groceries but had to run out to fill in for another girl at Snack Smile, so Shinpachi had wanted to quickly use them up before they could be ruined, and of course Kagura tagged along for the free food.

Gintoki doesn't particularly feel like eating some kind of variation of an egg dish—he's a gourmet after all—and so he declines to join them. It's been awhile since he's had his trusty Uji Gintoki bowl; after eating it every day for, say, two weeks or so, he'd grown sick of it.

But that was before, and the sweet azuki beans would most definitely hit the spot right now, so off to the diner he goes.

Only, sitting exactly two seats down from his usual spot at the counter, is a head of straight, black hair that Gintoki recognizes immediately—it's been haunting his thoughts day in and day out for weeks now, after all.

"I still don't know how you eat that cat litter," Hijikata says after Gintoki's order arrives. He's sitting in his usual spot with his usual bowl Hijikata Special, only this time he's looking at Gintoki out of the corner of his eyes, face still angled frontwards.

Gintoki snorts. "And I still don't know how you eat that dog food. What's it like to have shit taste?"

Surprisingly, Hijikata doesn't get mad this time like he usually does. He just rolls his eyes and returns to his food, suspiciously quiet. And he keeps glancing at Gintoki out of the corner of his eye every so often, too. Gintoki, for all the failed attempts at flirting over the past few weeks, isn't sayimg much either. Half of him is at a loss, not really knowing how to act, and the other half is still preoccupied with how hot Hijikata looks, even when he's shoveling that shit into his mouth. He's in uniform, meaning he's on duty, but his jacket's off and his sleeves are rolled up, exposing his forearms. Gintoki definitely doesn't get distracted from his food by the way the skin is taut over the subtly shifting muscles there as Hijikata holds his bowl.

"Haven't seen you around lately, Oogushi-kun," he speaks up. It's practically the same line he'd used all those weeks ago, but whatever.

"Idiot," Hijikata mumbles under his breath with a short, amused exhale. "The Shinsengumi has patrol schedules. I'm only around Kabukicho every two weeks or so."

Oh. While Gintoki hadn't been expecting a straightforward answer like that, it's certainly informative. And it also means he'd wasted two weeks of pretty much doing nothing.

"Aw, but you're back now? You missed Gin-san that much?"

He's toeing the line and he knows it; any moment now, Hijikata's going to blow up and start yelling and cussing in his face and then probably storm off.

"Hah. You wish," Hijikata mutters, staring intensely at his bowl of food.

Oh. That's unexpected too.

And certainly not unwelcome, because—is this just Gintoki's imagination? Is this real? Is Hijikata actually flirting back with him?

Well, if he is, Gintoki's certainly not going to stop here.

"You know, I saw something interesting the other night," he says. "Someone told me that you were out and about in a hostess bar one night a while ago."

"Wow, really wonder who told you that," Hijikata says sarcastically, which means—oh. He actually had been looking at Gintoki that night, then.

Gintoki swallows.

"You seemed real popular there, Hijikata-han," he says, using the same teasubg tone he likes to use when he's trying to rile the other man up, each syllable of his name stressed and drawn-out. "I wouldn't have expected it."

Hijikata looks mildly affronted before shooting back, "Pff. How did a beggar like you even get into a place like that? Didn't know they doubled as a soup kitchen."

"Ah, actually, my boyfriend recommended the place to me, so I thought I should check it out."

Ah, right. His boyfriend.

...

He doesn't have a boyfriend.

Why did he say that? What in this entire god-forsaken, destitute world had possessed Gintoki for him to say those worse just now?

Ah, right. Edopolitain.

"Casually mention a (made up, of course) lover in front of him and watch him turn green with envy!"

Hijikata's grown quite still. His chopsticks are resting on top of his bowl, and his hands are resting against the table, palms flat against the surface, and his expression is blank.

"Your boyfriend," Hijikata says, and—cold! It's ice cold, his voice! This was a big mistake!

"Y-Yeah," Gintoki continues, his voice up several octaves. "Um. You don't know him. He goes to another school."

"...Uh-huh."

God.

Hijikata suddenly stands, the feet of his chair scraping noisily against the wooden flooring. He tosses a couple bills onto the counter and then wordlessly exits the restaurant, grabbing his jacket from the back of his chair rather aggressively before ducking out of the entrance.

Gintoki glances at the bowl Hijikata’s left behind—the food’s barely been touched, and the bills thrown carelessly next to it are enough to cover for Gintoki’s meal as well.

 

 


 

 

Gintoki doesn’t know what else he can do at this point.

He’s used up all the applicable tips that he’d found in the magazine, and the scene from yesterday replays in his head, leaving a sour taste in his mouth whenever he remembers it.

What does it mean? He doesn’t want to read too much into the situation, but Hijikata had definitely been upset, right? After all, why else would he leave so suddenly?

Any other time, Gintoki would have waved it away and attributed it to the preternaturally bad attitude Hijikata has pretty much all the time, especially around him, but something about that yesterday was different. There had been that fleeting thought that Hijikata was flirting back, responding in kind to Gintoki’s subtle advances. And then there was all the secretive glancing, though the looks themselves didn’t have much meaning that Gintoki could decipher. Though that was probably something Hijikata was regulating himself—it’s hard to read him, sometimes, and even more so when Gintoki’s preoccupied with trying to keep his own thoughts in line, and how those thoughts translate into action.

He hadn’t done a very good job yesterday, had he?

Thinking about it puts him in a mood, and also makes him dwell a little bit on the whole thing—is this worth it? He has an image to maintain, after all, but he seems bent on crumpling it up and throwing it in the garbage all for the sake of a blue-eyed Shinsengumi officer.

He doesn’t know anymore, and normally he might just leave it and move on, but Gintoki’s wasted weeks on this, dammit! That’s time that could have been spent drinking, gambling, more drinking. And perhaps spending a day or two in with Kagura and Shinpachi—they’ve grown suspicious of him too, but Gintoki has a feeling that Shinpachi knows a little more than he lets on, since he’s always shutting Kagura up about the subject whenever she opens her mouth.

Ahh, now he’s gone and made himself all annoyed.

Might as well get started on that list of things he wasn’t able to do over the past few weeks, then, starting with the drinking part, followed by more drinking.

He ducks into a small bar off the corner, waving a greeting to the proprietor before seating himself and ordering himself several rounds of “whatever’s cheapest.”

What’s so good about Hijikata anyways, he thinks as he tosses back his drink, letting the alcohol slide down his throat and leave behind a burning warmth at the base of his chest. What does he have to make Gintoki want him so badly? What is it?

Well. This is question he’s asked himself several times already, and Gintoki’s pretty sure if you scroll up a couple times, a few hundred words are there that describe exactly what Gintoki sees in him.

But it’s not just that—and this is the part Gintoki doesn’t like to examine too closely. But he knows there’s more to it than just looks; he just doesn’t want to think about it or acknowledge it. But since he’s already drinking, there’s not really any control over that, and so he ends up musing while gazing into his cup anyway, as if it might magically tell him the solution to all his problems.

Gintoki can look at anyone on the street and think they’re objectively attractive and not pursue them. It’s just a passing thought, an observation.

But Hijikata’s another thing entirely. Maybe it’s because, whether they like it or not, both of them have affected each other’s lives in ways larger than either of them are willing to admit, ever since they’d first crossed blades on that rooftop. A lot’s happened since then, and Gintoki’s witnessed a lot of things too—he knows Hijikata’s strength, he’s seen glimpses into his past, he knows what Hijikata fights to protect. He’s a respectable man, when it comes down to it; Gintoki’s always thought so.

And really, it’s not like Gintoki can’t see. He knows the man is attractive, has known it from the start. But something about that one particular night had set something aflame—a realization that not only is Hijikata incredibly good looking, which he knew already, but that Gintoki’s attracted to him.

It’s that knowledge, that epiphany, that makes everything different. If he thinks back on it hard enough, he can probably even make the jump and say the attraction began well before that night at the hostess bar—Gintoki had only just realized it then.

And then there’s just the fact that it’s…Hijikata, the man with whom he’s constantly quarrelling, constantly getting riled up against.

God, he needs another drink.

And so he gets one, and then another, and another, until he’s well on his way to being completely wasted.

And he’s not planning to stop there; he raises a hand for a refill, but someone stops him before the bartender notices.

“I think that’s enough for tonight.”

Hijikata’s suddenly there, standing over him with a critical expression. He’s wearing his yukata again, though the trademark cigarette is absent.

“Ooh, if it isn’t Oogushi-kun,” he says, delighted. The object of his angsty reflections, come to torture him once again. “What brings you here tonight?” His words slur, but only slightly.

“I could ask the same thing of you. This ain’t Kabukicho.”

“Had a job, went for a drink. Tha’s all.” He hiccups around some of the words, and the room is glowing and bright. Hijikata is glowing and bright.

Hijikata gives a long-suffering sigh, and grabs him by the back of his collar to haul him up out of his seat. “Let’s go, Yorozuya. You’re drunk.”

“Oi, hey—” Gintoki protests, but it’s hard to fight back with his inebriation, so he lets himself be tugged out to the entrance of the bar until they’re in the street, which is mostly empty by now. “I’m n’t done! Let go of me!”

“Quit yellin!” Hijikata snaps, and then drags them into an alley next to the bar. “You’re being a nuisance.”

“You have a stick up your ass, I get it!” Gintoki whisper-yells, and then he turns sharply to head back out into the street, and hopefully back into the bar.

Only he miscalculates both his step and how drunk he actually is, because his boot catches on a crack in the pavement and he stumbles and grabs onto the nearest thing to catch his balance, which happens to be Hijikata.

He pulls, still staggering backwards, and Hijikata lets out a noise of surprise as Gintoki’s back hits the opposite wall of the narrow alleyway just in time. Hijikata’s arm shoots out, palm slapping against the brick on one side of Gintoki’s head, and the other is gripped onto Gintoki’s opposite arm.

Gintoki’s breath catches in his throat when he realizes their position, mind still too sluggish to come up with a proper witty remark that he’d normally have ready at the tip of his tongue. They’re the same height, but like this, Hijikata seems taller, and he’s looking down at Gintoki, too, with an unreadable expression. His hands are still fisted into the fabric of Hijikata’s yukata and, god, they’re so close.

And Hijikata’s not shoving away either. He’s standing stock still, looking down at Gintoki with that stoic look.

He can’t help it; he tilts forward and lets his forehead rest in the crook of Hijikata’s neck and shoulder, exposed where Gintoki’s pulled the cloth away in his clenched fist. Hijikata’s skin is cool to the touch against his face, but maybe that’s because he feels like he’s so hot his brain might melt soon. He can hear Hijikata’s pulse like this, but he can’t focus enough to determine whether it’s any faster than it should be. Gintoki’s own pulse, however, is loud in his ears, rushing and heady.

“Hijikata,” he breathes. He can smell the alcohol on his own breath. He can also smell the scent of Hijikata’s skin, all depth and smoke. “You don’ even know.”

“Know what?” Hijikata’s voice is too quiet, too serious, too close.

How much I want you.

“...Nothing,” Gintoki mutters, picking his head back up. He makes the mistake, then, of looking into Hijikata’s face for the first time since they’ve been backed up against this wall. His eyes are sharp and blue and intense, looking at Gintoki in a way that he’s never seen them before—but his mind’s too muddled, and the only word he can think of for those eyes is overwhelming.

“Hijikata-kun,” Gintoki whispers, leaning forward even more, crowding into Hijikata’s space even more. They’re so close now, it’d be the simplest thing to continue the distance, press their lips together. It’d hardly be a couple of centimeters. Hijikata’s eyes flick downwards for a moment, landing on Gintoki’s lips. “Do you…”

And then Hijikata’s gone, pushing off the wall and away so quick that it makes Gintoki slightly dizzy, though that’s probably mostly due to the drink.

He’s dazed, as Hijikata turns his back to him and retreats to the mouth of the alleyway. He can see him going through the motions of taking out a cigarette and lighting it up, embers at the tip glowing in the dark of the night. Hijikata turns his head back, blowing smoke out between his lips.

“Go home, Yorozuya.”

 He does.

Gintoki goes home, and the first thing he does after he slides the door shut and holes himself in his room is shove his hands into his pants, wanting relief from where his dick is straining nearly painfully against the clothing.

Impatiently, he shoves his pants and boxers halfway down his legs so that they’re mostly bunched up around his knees as he leans against the wall, some part of his brain still aware enough to keep quiet so Kagura doesn’t wake up. He bites into the knuckles of the hand not currently working on his cock.

Why does Hijikata have to be so—so

He comes, hard enough to leave sparks glittering on the inside of his eyelids.

This has to be a new level of desperate, Gintoki thinks as he slumps against the wall, right hand sticky and warm.

He’s gotta do something. Soon.

 


 

This is a dangerous plan.

It’d actually been one of the first things he’d thought of, but then immediately ruled it out after considering it further. Okita-kun was too volatile of a variable; Gintoki couldn’t trust him with something as sensitive as this. It would most definitely blow up in his face and turn into some kind of blackmail scheme in the long run.

But he’s seriously desperate now—after the other night, he’s made up his mind. He won’t stop until all avenues have been pursued, including asking Okita-kun for his help.

The phone rings only twice before Okita picks it up, a lazy “hey, Danna” coming from the other line. “I’ve been wondering when you’d finally call me.”

“Okita-kun!” Gintoki says in that voice he uses whenever he’s trying to get people to do something for him. “You—wait, you have?”

“Sure,” Okita says, chewing on gum while he speaks. “I know all about it.”

“...You do?”

“Obviously. Who do you think I am? I keep tabs on Hijikata-san at all times.”

“Ah, right.”

“So you wanna know how to get in his pants?”

“...”

“...Right. Anyway, Danna, it’ll be easy for you.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, Hijikata’s like super gay for you anyway. So it wouldn’t take much.”

Wait.

What?

“What exactly do you mean, Okita-kun? Like, he…?”

“Like, he says your name while he jacks off in the shower. I have evidence.”

“...Oh.”

The rest of the conversation goes a lot different from how Gintoki had expected a conversation like this with Okita would go. He hangs up the phone a few minutes later, feeling rather dazed, like the whole thing had been an out-of-body experience.

...was that it? Was it that easy? Why hadn’t he gone to Okita-kun for help earlier?

(Probably because Gintoki can’t think of a good way to approach the kid and just casually go, “Hey, you know Hijikata-kun? The Demon Vice Commander? The one you have an enormous hatred for that actually stems from deep-rooted issues originating from your childhood? The one you try to kill on a daily basis? That one? Yeah, I’ve actually got a massive hard on for him. Any advice for that?)

Well. It had worked out spectacularly in the end anyway, hadn’t it? No skin off his back, either—just Hijikata’s. Which is something he can definitely deal with, especially with what he’s getting out of his end of the bargain. Okita-kun’s too perceptive for his own good, anyway, he would have figured it out sooner or later regardless.

 


 

The love hotel that Okita had told him to be at, 3pm Friday afternoon, is a bit crappy, but Gintoki can’t be picky right now. The directions were to wait in the room for Hijikata to arrive, and then—well.

And Okita was willing to arrange such a meeting in return for the simple knowledge of what would soon be Hijikata’s deepest, darkest secret—a little too convenient, really; Gintoki suspects that might come back to bite him in the ass later, but for now he’ll take it.

At 3:05 on the dot, or at least what the shoddy digital clock on the nightstand reads, the door busts open and Hijikata, complete with his sword drawn, enters.

“Long time no see, Oogushi-kun,” Gintoki drawls, sitting on the bed with his hands leaning against the mattress.

“What. What are you doing here,” Hijikata asks, but the question comes out flat and deadpan. He sheaths his sword, thankfully, while he’s at it, and looks around suspiciously.

“Well...this is a love hotel. What do you think? What are you doing here, Oogushi-kun?”

“There were reports of Joui activity here—Sougo said—”

He stops mid-sentence, realizing his grave mistake as Gintoki watches with a half-grin. “Fuckin’ Sougo!”

“No,” Gintoki hums, rising from where he’d been sitting on the bed and approaching Hijikata a couple steps’ distance. “I don’t think that’s what you’re here to do. How ‘bout me instead?”

“Wh—” Hijikata splutters, taken aback. “What the hell are you doing?”

“Oh, come on now, Hijikata-kun. Don’t play dumb. It’s a bit obvious what’s going on here.”

“No, I don’t think it is,” Hijikata grits, backing up until he’s against the wall. “Care to explain?”

“Remember this?” Gintoki says, jutting an arm out to lean it against the wall next to Hijikata’s head, a reverse of their position from the other night outside the bar. “We almost kissed, that night.”

“I don’t know what you’re talkin’ about.” Hijikata’s glaring at him with those fierce blue eyes, hands curled into fists at his side.

“I’m really tired of this, Hijikata-kun,” Gintoki says, leaning forward slightly. And it’s true—weeks of sheet thirst has really done its number on him, and now that he knows Hijikata feels the same way, all his inhibitions are just gone. He’s fed up, dammit! He could have had this so long ago if he’d just tossed aside those fucking useless tips and gone straight to the main event—he just hadn’t thought Hijikata would be receptive to it.

And even though Hijikata’s shooting daggers at him through his eyes, Gintoki can tell there’s a part of him that wants it too—he’d seen a glimpse of it that night behind the bar, and he’s seeing it again now. Plus, if Hijikata really wanted to leave, Gintoki’s sure he’d have been socked across the jaw by now and Hijikata would be gone in two seconds flat. Instead, all he does is glare with that glare of his, intense and blue.

“I want you,” Gintoki says simply. “And I have it on good authority that you want me, too.”

“Who’s authority?!”

“Who do you think?”

Hijikata’s eyes narrow, and he looks off to the side for a moment. “Fuckin’ Sougo,” he mutters once again, savagely.

“...I’m on patrol,” he says quietly after a few moments, but his resolve is clearly weakening.

“Not right now you’re not.”

“I have to get back to work!”

“You don’t.”

And with that, Gintoki finally, finally, presses their mouths together. Hijikata, for all his feigned hesitation, responds almost immediately, parting his lips and curling aggressive fingers into Gintoki’s collar.

Hijikata tastes like cigarettes, as expected, but Gintoki doesn’t care—not when he’s been waiting so long for this. He slides his tongue along the seam of Hijikata’s lips, hot and wet and open as he presses them closer together still against the wall. His hands are in those stupidly straight black locks, and he’s dimly aware that Hijikata’s arms have wrapped themselves around his shoulders; it’s hard to pay attention to anything other than the wet heat of their mouths against each other.

There are way too many clothes right now, Gintoki decides, and he pushes Hijikata’s jacket off his shoulders. “You should wear less,” he mumbles, trying to undo the cravat around Hijikata’s neck.

“Speak for yourself, bastard,” Hijikata responds, struggling with one of Gintoki’s belts. In the end, they do it themselves, and tumble back onto the bed in various states of undress. Gintoki has his undershirt unzipped all the way, while Hijikata’s just in his trousers. Gintoki takes the liberty of pressing his palms flat against Hijikata’s torso, feeling out the hard planes of muscles for himself, those muscles that had long since invaded his every nighttime thought and dream. And now he finally has the ability to run his hands along them, all the way down to the line of Hijikata’s hipbones and back up again.

He reaches and then pulls Hijikata up so that he’s sitting on the edge of the bed. Then he moves so that he’s on his knees before him, kneeling between Hijikata’s legs.

“Yorozuya—what are you—” Hijikata starts, but he’s cut off when Gintoki tugs sharply on his pants, pulling them down with his boxers in one go. His cock springs out, half-hard already, and Gintoki doesn’t hesitate to take it into his hands, press his thumb against the slit at the tip. Hijikata hisses through his teeth, color high on his cheeks.

“I’ve wanted to do this for so long,” Gintoki murmurs against Hijikata’s thigh has his hand works up and down, enough to make Hijikata’s cock swell even further. “You really have no idea.”

Hijikata seems to be at a loss for words—all he does is pant, breaths coming heavily as he stares down at Gintoki. But he gasps and gives a choked sort of moan the moment Gintoki opens his mouth, runs his tongue along the thick vein winding up the length of Hijikata’s dick, and takes it into his mouth.

God, even the taste of him is something Gintoki can’t get enough of—it’s earthy and almost bitter, but in a way that’s so overwhelmingly Hijikata that he curls his tongue, presses it against the tip, and tightens his lips as he sucks. The weight of Hijikata’s cock against his tongue and around his mouth, too, makes another rush of blood go southward to his own painfully hard erection.

Above him, Hijikata’s giving these short, breathy moans with each bob of Gintoki’s head. A hand has curled its way into Gintoki’s hair, the other resting on his shoulder, nails digging into the skin with blunt pressure. His hips buck, and Gintoki lets it happen, relaxing his mouth and letting Hijikata fuck into it.

There’s a bottle of lube in his pants pocket—incidentally, it’s the same on that Kagura had nearly mistaken for toothpaste—but at this rate, Gintoki doesn’t think they’ll be getting around to using it. Weeks of frustration builds up a lot of tension, and he’s close already just by listening to Hijikata’s reactions.

With a wet pop, he releases Hijikata’s dick from his mouth and stands, undoing his zipper while Hijikata pushes his pants all the way off his legs. And then he’s shoving Hijikata back on the bed, sitting close to him so that he can press their cocks together and wrap a hand around them.

The precum leaking from the tips is enough lube for this, so he slicks it in his palm and slides down once, twice, keeps going until Hijikata’s moaning into the skin of Gintoki’s neck, where he’s pressed his face.

“Yo—ro—zu—ya,” he chokes out, voice pitched higher with pleasure, each syllable staccato and in time with a twist of Gintoki’s wrist.

“That’s not my name,” Gintoki says lowly, breath coming heavy as Hijikata picks his head up to meet his eyes. He’s looking as indignant as ever, like he’s angry or something, but there’s a flush on his cheeks that looks better than Gintoki could have ever imagined.

“Bastard, then,” he mutters between hot breaths, pressing his forehead against Gintoki’s and reaching a hand up around the back of Gintoki’s neck.

He’s close—they both are, Gintoki can tell, and the hand around their cocks speeds up, urging them both towards a blinding finish. Before he falls off the precipice, though, Gintoki leans forward, latches his teeth onto the juncture between Hijikata’s neck and shoulder, and bites down just before he comes.

And Hijikata—Hijikata goes wild, letting out a stream of moans intermingled with curses, starts thrashing in Gintoki’s hold as he orgasms, white strings spurting from the tip of his cock and leaking all over Gintoki’s hand.

He lets go once they’re both finished—there’s an angry red mark with small, teeth-shaped indents left on the skin there, and Gintoki honestly can’t help but to think how good it looks on Hijikata.

Hijikata, however, seems to think otherwise, shoving Gintoki away as he catches his breath and wipes the sweat from his forehead. “Bastard, why’d you bite me?”

“You liked it,” Gintoki says, and Hijikata’s brows furrow like he’s pissed.

“Shut up. Who would like that?” He grabs the box of tissues on the nightstand and tosses a couple to Gintoki.

“I can think of at least one person.”

A pair of pants are tossed into Gintoki’s face.

When they’re getting dressed again—Gintoki had wanted to stay longer, but Hijikata did actually have a patrol to get back to—Gintoki begins laughing.

“The hell’s so funny?”

“Nothing,” Gintoki says between chuckles. “Just that if I had known it would be so simple, we could have hooked up ages ago. How long have you liked me for, exactly, Oogushi-kun?”

“I don’t like you, perm bastard,” Hijikata bites out.

“Sure you don’t. That’s why I just sucked your dick.”

“Shut the hell up!”

And then when they’re fully dressed again, ready to part ways at the doorway, Gintoki finally asks: “When do you think you’ll be free to ‘not like’ me again, Officer?”

Hijikata lights up a cigarette, eyes obscured by his bangs. He looks different now, proper and put together now that his uniform’s in place. No less attractive, for sure—but Gintoki likes the other Hijikata better. The one who screws his eyes shut and can’t keep his voice down when he comes.

“I might be free next Thursday.”

Ah.

“Next Thursday it is.”