Defense

Saitou leaned against the side of the building, his eyes following the young man wandering around the restaurant’s entrance waiting for someone to buy him food. Both the watcher and the freeloader knew someone eventually would.

God knows what he would do if he realized how much I watch him. Even more so if he knew why. Sometimes Saitou liked to pretend he didn’t know why himself. It certainly wasn’t particularly edifying or entertaining… just absurdly riveting. And I still haven’t been able to determine what it is about him…

By chance Sano finally noticed the cop’s presence and, naturally, broke into a scowl. His greeting as he immediately approached was, “Getting kinda sick of running into you.”

He never realizes it’s anything more than coincidence. He doesn’t see through things, doesn’t pick up on things. He just assumes we meet so often because I’m constantly having to deal with his fellow lowlifes. Idiot.

“You won’t have to worry about that from now on,” Saitou told him.

“Good.” After a moment Sano added curiously, “Why?”

Why does conversation with him feel so natural in spite of everything? Despite the fact that Saitou knew how things were, how they must always be. “This is my last day in Tokyo.”

“Oh, great!” Sano grinned. “I won’t have to smell your nasty cigarettes anymore.”

Note he doesn’t ask where I’m going or why. Not that Saitou had expected him to care.

What Sano did ask was, “So what are you doing here? Last case before you leave?”

Actually talking to Sano was worse than simply observing — having him within arm’s length, watching his lips move… Being reminded of exactly how he feels about me. But Saitou wasn’t just going to leave town without a word to him, no matter how the conversation must turn out. “No. I’m here to say goodbye to you.”

“Heh… right.” It was a tone of amusement that did not even approach skepticism. Sano didn’t take him seriously enough to think such a remark was anything but sarcasm.

Maybe it’s because he never takes me seriously. Everything I do is so serious… maybe it’s a change I’m craving.

“Like you could have known I’d be here,” Sano was adding with a laugh.

Sano thought he didn’t stick to a routine, prided himself on doing whatever he wanted whenever he wanted to. He was wrong about that, as he was about many things. His days were very much the same, and what he mistook for spontaneity was just a predictable roulette of inane pastimes: he ate the same five meals at the same five restaurants, blew money of mysterious origin at the same five gambling halls, and slept over at the same five friends’ homes. Mathematically, that did allow him quite a few possibilities for each day’s schedule, but still, if Saitou wanted to intercept him, he tended to know where Sano would be at any given moment.

He’d tried not to do that too often, but there had been times he hadn’t been able to help himself.

And there were times he didn’t know what to say. He, Saitou Hajime, didn’t know what to say.

“You awake in there?” Sano wondered mockingly.

Saitou’s eyes narrowed as he looked down at him. Yes, here was an idiot — a waste of oxygen and a beautiful face and body with a history of stupidity, worthless friends, no real ambitions, a pathetic life…

And that’s what I’ve…

He’d given up dwelling on how it defied all reason.

He’d given up on pretty much everything.

“Work on your defense,” he said. It didn’t even mean what the words supposedly expressed anymore; it hadn’t for a long time.

Sano looked annoyed. “Are you gonna start on that again after all this– wait… you really are here to say goodbye to me, aren’t you?”

Saitou nodded and simply held Sano’s eyes. The young man’s face went slightly puzzled, and with that change, the last faint hope Saitou had always secretly harbored for this matter slowly faded and disappeared. If there were anything there, any chance at all, it would not be a blank look. It would be anything but that.

No, don’t worry about working on your defense. Your heart’s impervious, isn’t it?

After a few moments, that terrible expression having gradually changed to one suggesting Sano thought Saitou might have something wrong in the head — and was he ever right about that! — Sano turned away casually. “Well, bye, then!” And with a careless wave of his hand, he headed back to the front of the restaurant to resume his food-seeking vigil.

Saitou watched him until it became too painful. “Goodbye, ahou,” he finally murmured. And good riddance. He was speculating on the sourness of grapes he couldn’t have, and he knew it; he’d been doing it for a long while now, and its effectiveness as a defense mechanism was waning. So, committing meticulously to memory the image of the white-clad figure standing nonchalantly there, hands in pockets and a winning smile on his face, for reference over the remaining years of his life, he turned and walked away.



Dedra won the Quote Guessy Game a second time, and this Saitou/Sano request was a bit more specific than her first one: she wanted Saitou “seemingly hopelessly attracted to/in love with” Sano. Cruel as this seemed, I wrote it. It turned out almost brilliantly ironic and depressing. And it’s good to have a parallel to Distraction Sufficient. Well, almost parallel; as I told Dedra, I draw the line at killing Saitou.

Someday there may be a sequel to this.

I’ve rated this story . What do you think of it?

This story is included in the Saitou/Sano Collection 1 ebook. A very poor-quality (and outdated) audio recording is included in the Saitou/Sano Audio Collection.

13 Replies to “Defense”

        1. Yeah, especially when there’s a fangirl in charge! Well, it’s really the wheels of fate, not us, of course… they’re destined by a power greater than any of us to be together, after all :D

  1. Aaaaiiii

    Ouch, that’s beautifully written and thus it hurt like hell to read. Thank you for writing SaitouxSano with such care…you are one of the few *FEW* talented authors I can seem to find that writes Saitou sama. ^_^

    Thank you thank you thank you.

    *cries a little more*

  2. Finely crafted, and an unusual perspective for an author who more often writes Saitou as self-confident and relatively impervious to interpersonal pain or awkwardness. My suspicion, however, is that Saitou is not an individual who is able to leave projects unfinished, and this makes me wonder whether this story does not have a happier ending in store for its two main characters at some point in its unwritten future.

    1. I definitely like to think that there’s a happier ending in their future. I certainly don’t discount the possibility of such. But when that was not what I, as the author, intended when I wrote the story, it’s dismayingly hard to believe.

  3. Ouch. *wince* I hope this never, ever happens. Saitou doesn’t pine for an unrequited love, and Sanosuke isn’t really such an ignorant, hopeless bastard.

    But, as always, beautiful introspective writing. “Work on your defense” is such a haunting line. And I quite like the idea that Saitou’s leaving because he’s been transferred. It’s all about duty to that guy.

  4. Wow, I love the vulnerability in this piece. I’m a big fan of character introspection, especially when it comes to people like Saito who keep their feelings expertly buttoned up. And while Sano’s emotions are fun to explore, the whole mystery of Saito’s is very appealing. Not to go off topic, but this was one of the biggest things that attracted me to Kirk/Spock. Very open emotion VS repressed display of it makes for amazing times, and I think that parallel is one of the things that has me adoring Saisa so much. Their outward personalities clash in the best way, and it only gets better when they’re alone and comfortable enough to let the defenses can fall. *FLAILING*

    But coming back to this story, I think it’s a more common plot device to show Sano being hurt by Saito than the opposite. And while I’d rather neither of them be hurt at all (because they’re TOTALLY in love and happy and everything in the world is wonderful for them. RIGHT? lol), it was a refreshing change to see those tables turned here. I can totally see Saito reacting this way, and Sano sooo close to the surface of getting it…before it all just goes right over his head.

    As always, you did a fantastic job!! Thank you!!

    1. Yes, exactly!! That’s what drew me to the two Gundam Wing pairings I write too! Though Saitou and Sano will always be my favorites, that closed-vs.-open combo is alluring in almost any context!

      And, yeah, in a way — just as you say — it’s actually kinda nice to see Saitou hurt by Sano. OK, those words look totally wrong, but you know what I mean because you basically just said it XD Just seeing Saitou helplessly attracted and Sano obliviously wielding all the power is an interesting change.

      I’ve got a sequel started to this story that may make things a little better if it ever sees the light of day…

      Thanks for reading! And for loving this pairing as much as I do! :D

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