Monthly Story Prompts

April: Open

Here’s how it works:

Once a month until further notice, I solicit a prompt for short fiction of just about any type. If this month is open, leave your prompt as a comment on this post; if it isn’t, you’ll have to wait until the first of next month and try to get in early!

I am willing to write original fiction, fanfiction, pieces related to my own existing stories or to anyone’s stories if I’m familiar enough with them, etc.. I am not willing to write detailed sex. I will consider RK prompts, RPF, or non-fiction/essay, but make no promises.

For none of these do I promise to do any research whatsoever unless I feel like it (which is why I may not accept RPF prompts). No accuracy is guaranteed even for fandoms I’m tolerably familiar with. There may be more fandoms I’m familiar with and just can’t think of. Feel free to ask whether I know something or not.

Movies and TV series I'm tolerably familiar with

Gundam Wing (AU’s are always, always better here); Avatar (more TLA than TLoK); the DC Animated Universe (and I’ve got a decent amount of Batman-related knowledge outside of that context as well); various Disney movies such as Frozen; Disney’s Gargoyles; He-Man and She-Ra; homestarrunner.com (yes, I know Strong Bad said “fiction” is the worst word you can put after “fan,” but I do not care; also, this isn’t TV or movie, but I have most of it on DVD, so that counts, right?); Jem and the Holograms (the TV series; I like the comic, but don’t know it well); Labyrinth; Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon (the original TV series); Shoujo Kakumei Utena (I can work with TV-series-verse or movieverse); The 10th Kingdom; Miraculous (I watch in French, so don’t expect any references to ‘Hawk Moth,’ ugh)

Books and book series I'm tolerably familiar with

The Oz series by L. Frank Baum; the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters; the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling; J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth (though I warn you right now that I hold in my very marrow an all-consuming hatred for fucking Peter fucking Jackson and any and all bullshit he’s come up with); many faery tales as told by Andrew Lang; Watership Down by Richard Adams (not as familiar with the mediocre sequel, but could probably work with that as well); Peter Pan by Sir J.M. Barrie; The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux; Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

Movies and TV series I'm less familiar with

The Boondocks; Cowboy Bebop; Firefly/Serenity; Pirates of the Caribbean (first three movies only); Tiger & Bunny; Weiß Kreuz (anything having to do with the actual overall plot of this show I’m not likely to remember, but I can deal with the characters pretty well); My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (I think I stopped watching in the middle of season 4 or so); Steven Universe (I haven’t seen the very latest episode); Brooklyn Nine-Nine; Star Trek TOS (I’m being very slow about getting through this, and haven’t watched past s3e7 or any of the movies); Star Wars (actually I know Star Wars pretty well, but I’m watching The Clone Wars TV show for the first time right now — I’m on s2e19 — haven’t refreshed myself on Revenge of the Sith in a very long time, and am really just getting started on the new EU); Voltron: Legendary Defender (I’m only on s3e7, so pretty far behind yet here); Castlevania

Books and book series I'm less familiar with

All six of Jane Austen’s full-length novels and Lady Susan; the Sherlock Holmes canon by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; The Princess Series by Jim C. Hines; Les Misérables by Victor Hugo; the Howl books by Diana Wynne Jones; the Mary Russell series by Laurie R. King; The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis; The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer (and I’m willing to be satirical or serious about it); the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith; the Aubrey/Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian (I’ve only read up through the 16th book, and I CANNOT write a SINGLE nautical term); Discworld by Terry Pratchett (I probably know the witches best); the Riordanverse; Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell; Frankenstein by Mary Shelley; Dracula by Bram Stoker; War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Video games I know more or less

Quest for Glory (definitely falls into the ‘more’ category); King’s Quest (the original series); Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (what story there is in this game I know pretty well); World of Warcraft (only it’s slipped from me these days; I stopped playing in the middle of WoD and couldn’t even tell you much of what happened in that one); The Legend of Zelda (I have a general knowledge of how these games go and what the main characters are like, and have played through several of them several times, but probably couldn’t set a fic during any specific story; the most recent one I’ve played all the way through was Twilight Princess, and I’ve probably played Ocarina of Time the most); Skyrim (I’ve clocked probably 120 hours, but haven’t actually finished the game; I’ve not been following the actual Dragonborn storyline much yet, nor made it very far in the civil war, though I’ve joined the Legion; lately I’ve been faffing about on Solstheim)

Ficlet time! (from prompts)

Once I requested ficlet prompts and then wrote some stuff.


hishighnesshiko‘s prompt (“Hiko/kiln”):

Kenshin did not have the temper for true resentment, but had accepted his punishment of an extra thousand repetitions of the move he was supposed to be learning with as little grace as possible. He didn’t think he deserved this, disagreed with Hiko completely on the point that a twelve-year-old wasn’t qualified to criticize a grown man’s fashion sense even if that man was not his kenjutsu instructor (let alone if he was), wasn’t even entirely sure why such annoyance had been occasioned by his remark about Hiko’s cloak, and still thought the thing was very ugly. So he waved his shinai in the prescribed movement with more vehemence than correctness, actually almost hoping to annoy his master further with his carelessness.

Instead, it seemed his behavior had instigated a circumstance that it had also at certain times in the past: Hiko, looking extremely irritated, heading for his kiln and the seat in front of it to do something that would inevitably clear up the invisible thundercloud of distemper that seemed to hover about him when Kenshin had stepped out of line.

What exactly this cheering activity was Kenshin really had no concept. Hiko only did it when he was annoyed with Kenshin, and as such Kenshin was, whenever Hiko did it, relegated to the corner of the yard where punishments were traditionally carried out — from which spot he had no view past the bulk of the kiln. Hiko wasn’t firing anything, for he carried no clay; and he wasn’t drinking, for he carried no jug. As to what else he could possibly be doing there, Kenshin could not guess.

Despite his high level of curiosity, he couldn’t ask… Neither when Hiko was busy doing whatever it was and still in a bad mood nor when he was finished and had somehow put himself into a better seemed a judicious moment — one because it would undoubtedly worsen the situation, the other because it threatened a return of the anger that had for the moment been so relievingly averted.

But Kenshin’s hearing was getting better, especially as far as he was able to use his growing ki-reading ability to augment it, and he hoped this time to be able to discern something more than he had last time — something, perhaps, to give him some kind of clue as to what was going on over there.

His master seemed to be speaking — he usually did while at this pursuit — but, strain his ears as he might, Kenshin could not make out the words. Some seemed to have a good deal of breath in them, others a good deal of vowel, but none were distinguishable. His remaining senses were equally useless; though he stood on tiptoe and craned his neck, he simply could not see the other side of the kiln, and wasn’t good enough yet at getting more than a generalized impression of what someone was about through their ki. So, though his curiosity did serve, in large part, to distract him from own annoyance, yet it went unsatisfied.

Eventually Hiko became visible again, appearing a good deal more cheerful, moving around the kiln and walking toward Kenshin. The latter resolutely did not look at him, and (having abandoned along with his pique any desire to irritate his master further) simply concentrated on doing his practice properly in the hopes that Hiko might let him off the remaining five hundred repetitions.

No such luck, but the man did say in a perfectly equable tone, “Well, you might as well finish after supper. Come inside.” He didn’t smile — he rarely did when he wasn’t talking about himself — but was quite clearly now in a much more amiable mood: the whatever-it-was had had its usual effect. Kenshin was pleased at the prospect of eating before he continued his punishment, but still more than a little curious what activity could wreak such a profound change on his master’s temper.

Well, maybe next time he would throw caution to the wind and just walk over there and see.

Next is fe‘s prompt (“more Yae”):

A relatively decent frame of mind was depressed somewhat when, turning a corner, Yae came upon a corpse immediately in his path. The blood from the gunshot wounds was clotted, and everything anyone could possibly use had already been stripped away, but he got the feeling nonetheless that it hadn’t been there long: the rats hadn’t found it yet. It did smell rather terrible, though; he might have anticipated its presence if he’d been paying attention to that particular sense.

Frowning down at it and reflecting on the rudeness (if it could be called such) of leaving one’s victim entirely choking up one side of the street, he tried to recall what he had done with the last dead body he had occasioned. Well, that body had still had stuff on it for people to take; really it should be the responsibility of the last plunderer to move the thing. And as for this one… well, he was here now; he might as well do it.

He wasn’t about to touch it with his hands; Downside was not exactly clean in general, but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t get more than an earful if Cai ever found out he’d been voluntarily pushing dead people around. After another moment’s thought, he started nudging it with his boot. Once there was room between the body and the wall for him to stand, he braced himself against the latter and put both his feet against the mottled flesh of the corpse. His back sliding slowly down the slimy stone behind him, he caused the body also to slide, leaving a dark, shining fluid trail across the brickwork as it moved. Eventually it toppled over the edge of the walkway into the thick, variegated water with no discernible splash. Standing straight, he watched the viscous liquid swallow it up entirely.

“Why would you do that?” asked a somewhat tremulous voice from the opposite walkway.

Wondering who would ask such a stupid question, Yae looked up and across. His incredulity didn’t last, however, as it was evident at a glance that she was very new. There was an Exit in this sector, he was fairly sure; she might even have made the transition within the last few hours. So he merely shrugged and replied, “No reason to feed the rats.”

Even from across the channel he could see her shudder. She was flattened against the wall, looking bright, clean, and vulnerable. At the moment she didn’t seem even remotely capable of the kind of thing they supposedly sent people Down here for — though he’d long since stopped trying to understand the logic of their system — and would probably be dead by the end of the day, if Yae was any judge. But she was obviously trying to sound brave and disinterested as she said, “I guess it’s a nice thing to do, then… the only funeral anyone ever gets around here.”

Yae nodded, and turned to walk away.

“Wait!” she cried in an almost pleading tone. When he looked back at her, he saw she’d stepped forward nearly to the edge, her fists clenched. “You haven’t tried to kill me,” she said all at once, evidently trying to make it seem light-hearted. “Can you help me?”

The poor stupid things always asked for help when they hadn’t seen him fight yet (if they had seen him fight, they usually just ran). “Could still try to kill you,” he pointed out.

“Well…” Again she was attempting to speak cheerfully, with very little success. “That’s better than having it come out of nowhere when I turn a corner. Please can you help me?”

The next difficulty was, “How?”

Now she looked almost on the verge of tears at being forced to try to think of a way a complete stranger could help her in this miserable place that was beyond help. After a desperate moment she finally said, “Can I walk with you for a while? I’ll… I’ll give you… anything I have…”

He knew that, for the moment at least, she meant it to the fullest extent of the term, though she probably didn’t understand to what unfortunate point he could take advantage of the promise if he were so inclined. He wasn’t so inclined, but neither was he eager to let her walk with him. He always felt bad for them, of course — especially the Fallen, which she rather seemed to be — but he didn’t need Upsiders (or the closest thing thereto) trailing around cluelessly after him.

Unfortunately, he could never bring himself to say no.

He shrugged again. “For a while,” he acceded.

For some reason her expression of intense relief made him feel a little guilty, as if there were something more he could be doing for people like this — people that didn’t have a clean, safe home with a food synthesizer and working showers and lights to go to — and he wasn’t doing it. He knew there wasn’t anything more. They’d tried to do more, once upon a time, and it had just gotten everyone killed.

She was already making her way down the street to a bridge and coming across to join him, noisy and pitiful and grateful. Yae knew she’d be like all the rest: she’d find a protector she preferred to him and leave, she’d get herself killed sometime when he was otherwise occupied and couldn’t prevent it, or he would leave her when he decided he felt like going home.

“And will you…” Which of the three options she considered most likely was evinced by her next request. He thought her continued tone of forced bravado was very badly-done, but preferred it to anything that might inspire him to one of his clumsy attempts at comfort. “Will you push my body into the… water… when I get shot?”

He grunted his assent. That he would definitely promise her; it was what he’d do for anyone.


And honestly I still kinda think the Hiko one is more messed up XD

Then franzeska prompted “Sano and hilarity,” and I was going to do a little ficlet for that, but it turned into an idea for a real story instead, which can be read here.



Random Songs Meme


01. Pick a character, pairing, or fandom you like.

02. Turn on your music player and put it on random/shuffle.

03. Write a ficlet related to each song that plays. You only have the time frame of the song to finish the ficlet; you start when the song starts, and stop when it’s over. No lingering afterward!




Don’t Let Me Down and Down – David Bowie

Saitou had very little faith in human interaction, so, although he was in love with Sano to the extent where nothing could be done about it, he regarded the situation with more wariness than pleasure. Oh, he was happy enough with him, and there was no way of hiding or escaping his love… but he couldn’t help fearing that someday, somehow, Sano must inevitably let him down. And he was just so tired of telling the boy things and being completely ignored that he never bothered to bring it up. He simply held his breath, waiting for something to go wrong and the relationship to fall apart. That it never did did little to change his opinion on human interaction. But he was cautiously pleased.

***

Ego Brain – System of a Down

“What are you doing here?”

“What, you think this place is too good for me? I’m doing the same thing you are, jerk.”

“Somehow I doubt that.”

“Don’t talk like you’re on a secret mission or something. God, Saitou, I know it’s hard for you to admit you’re just a man, not some kind of spirit of justice or walking statue or something, but won’t your ego even let you admit you don’t like getting caught out in the rain?”

“This is a restaurant. If I’m ‘just a man,’ presumably I need to eat. I could be here for that.”

“So?”

“So don’t assume we have the same motives just because it’s raining.”

“Well, maybe I’m here for lunch too.”

“With what money, ahou?”

“Yours. Buy me lunch?”

“Let go of my hand.”

“Buy me lunch.”

“Let go.”

“You gonna buy me food?”

“Fine.”

“Hah! True love conquers all!”

“Shut up or starve.”

“All right, all right.”

***

Epilogue (Nothing ‘Bout Me) – Sting

Sano was unsurprised when the cop that eventually showed up to question him once the doctor had him mostly patched up turned out to be Saitou, given how often they’d “accidentally” run into each other lately.

“So.” Saitou had a tendency not to bother with any actual questions when questioning Sano. “You stumbled across a meeting of a dangerous gang of thieves, all of them paranoid and armed to the teeth, and decided automatically to attack them.”

“Hey…” Sano shook his head. “I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a simple man… but you gotta stop assuming that you know me so well.”

Saitou raised a brow at him.

“You can read all the police files you want… ask everyone in town to tell you everything they know… hell, you could even search through all the shit in my house — I’ll be here for a while, so I won’t even notice… and after all that, you still won’t know me.”

“I assume this is leading up to some suggestions on how I could get to know you better,” Saitou interjected a little dryly.

“Yeah, I got a bunch of ideas,” grinned Sano. “First–”

“Actually, why don’t we save it until you’re less torn up,” Saitou interrupted again, “and get back to the story of what the hell you were thinking tonight.”

“All right, fine,” Sano allowed. “So I stumbled across this meeting of some group of thieves, and decided to attack them…”

***

Spooky – The Puppini Sisters

It was somewhat worrisome that, whenever Sano showed up at the station in the evening just as Saitou was leaving work and asked if he wanted to go somewhere stupid like out drinking or just for some pointless walk through some trashy neighborhood, Saitou could never say no. Even when he managed to say no at first, Sano’s repetition of the question would bring about an immediate reversal of that answer.

It was almost frightening, actually; it made Saitou wonder whether he was slipping, becoming less intimidating or less respectable… or perhaps just going crazy… The latter really did seem to be the case at times, what with the confusion and the self-doubt and the… dreams… dammit, why was he dreaming about Sano? That was what pushed it over the edge past almost. It was downright scary what Sano was doing to him.

Saitou had never been a coward, and there was no way this particular fear was going to force him to run any more than any other in his lifetime had. Still, he didn’t really feel like admitting anything he was feeling just yet. Maybe if Sano showed signs of getting tired of him he might, if only to make sure the boy stuck around. But right now? He was content with saying no first and giving in second.

***

I’m Just Talkin’ About Tonight – Toby Keith

It made sense that Sano was wary. They didn’t exactly have the friendliest history, which rendered the idea of going home together after a chance encounter a little strange. But Saitou had seen the looks Sano had (perhaps unconsciously) been throwing him lately, and something needed to be done.

“I’m not asking you to move in with me, ahou,” he said impatiently as Sano’s expression continued to fluctuate from eager to reluctant and back.

“Well…” Sano still hesitated, but now Saitou was a bit wary — because in response to his words, the eagerness in the boy’s eyes had returned, along with a flash of some deeper related desire that the cop was definitely not prepared for. All he really wanted was to clear away some of this sexual tension and see what was left.

In part because he was growing more impatient and annoyed by the moment, and in part to escape that seriousness sparking in Sano’s glance, Saitou turned. “If you’re coming…”

“I guess…” Sano muttered. “Just for tonight…” And his following foosteps sounded behind Saitou up the street.

***

Simple Life – Toto

Sano was a man of simple pleasures. Food and drink, lack of boredom, pleasant companionship… that was really all he asked. So he wasn’t sure why he had, somewhere along the road, decided he needed a lover that had cost him nearly everything he had, everything he was, to obtain.

Of course, having paid that price and gotten his hands on Saitou’s heart, he’d found that a simple life was a thousand times better when he lived it with someone he loved more every day, someone who fulfilled or replaced everything else he wanted or needed. Days felt longer and years felt shorter, Sano got older and changed from the man he had been, but he never regretted the road he’d walked or where it had led him.

***

Summertime – Al Jarreau

One of these days…

One of these days Saitou was going to snatch Sano away from his tedious life at that dojo and show him something more interesting… One of these days, he was going to pull the boy right out from under the noses of all his insipid friends… the overprotective Battousai and the vapid Kamiya girl… and teach him to fly (in one sense or another)…

One of these days…

He knew he was being transferred sometime this summer. Maybe he would take Sano with him then; he doubted the roosterhead would protest. Until then, Sano could just keep freeloading over there, get more and more bored, working up (whether he knew it or not) a healthy appetite for the big changes that were going to take place one of these days.

***

Getaway – Earth, Wind & Fire

Sano wasn’t sure if Saitou was aware of just how much he watched him. Day in, day out, in to work, out of work, house to station and back with only samey investigations here and there to break the routine and every great blessed once in a while an assassination. And he wondered whether Saitou still had a sense of fun in there or whether it had completely atrophied.

He’d offered. Several times, actually. Saitou kept refusing, but Sano kept offering; he figured that the aforementioned sense of fun, if it existed, must eventually break the shell of mediocrity that had coated Saitou’s life and accept in spite of the man’s other sensibilities. If it didn’t exist… well, Sano would just have to share his own, wouldn’t he?

***

You Don’t Have to See – Debbie Gibson

Kenshin’s audible sigh as Sano said goodbye brought the younger man up short with a frown.

“I just do not think this is wise…” Kenshin murmured when he saw that Sano had stopped.

“I know you don’t,” Sano replied, not turning, “but, seriously, Kenshin… and I didn’t really wanna say this, but you’re kinda forcing me here… no offense… but it’s none of your damn business.”

Kenshin sighed again. “I know,” he said wearily. “I am sorry. He is… I know that in some ways he is a good man…”

“Hey, don’t bother,” Sano said, finally facing Kenshin again and trying to keep his tone light. “It’d be great if you could accept this, but you don’t have to try to force yourself to understand why I’m in love with him. Hell, if you could see what I see in him I’d probably get jealous.”

Kenshin smiled weakly in response.

“Just stop tearing him down when I can hear it, all right?” He forced his mouth into a grin to show Kenshin that there really were no hard feelings. “See you later.”

***

Crash and Burn – Savage Garden

It was something he could never say, only prove. He would have liked to say it, but he just wasn’t the type.

Sano lived a life of reckless stupidity; Saitou had accepted that. Everything he did, he did precipitously and impetuously, and it was a wonder he didn’t fall more often. Saitou wondered how many times in the past he had fallen with no one around, no one to catch or at least comfort him after his foolishness got him into trouble.

Well, he was no longer alone. Saitou was here now, and, if he had his way, he would be here forever more. Sano could be as wild and incautious as he chose; he would never again face the fire by himself. Yes, it was quite a task to stand unconditionally beside someone who was that careless, but in accepting Sano Saitou had accepted that duty as well.

It was something he could never say. Only prove. But he wasn’t afraid of that.

***

Vediamo un po’! – Pietro Mascagni

“What the fuck are you listening to?” Sano demanded incredulously from the doorway.

Saitou glanced briefly from his work and replied placidly, “Pietro Mascagni’s L’Amico Fritz.”

Sano advanced a few steps into the room, the expression on his face still disbelieving. “No, but, seriously, what is it?”

“Opera, idiot.”

With a look of bafflement so strong it bordered on a loss of cerebral functionality, Sano just stared. When Saitou finally glanced at him again and raised an eyebrow, Sano managed, “You… are… so… gay…

“Was there something you wanted?” Saitou demanded in slight irritation.

“Yeah… well… maybe you like this guy who’s singing better, but I was just checking to see if you wanted to have sex with me right now,” Sano replied.

“Yes,” answered Saitou in the same tone as before.

“Notice he doesn’t even pause before he answers,” Sano chuckled. “How gay.” Taking Saitou’s hand and pulling him from his chair he added, “Come on, you fag.”

Saitou rolled his eyes as he allowed himself to be led away from Pavarotti’s swelling voice.

***

Sound of Your Voice – Barenaked Ladies

The letter had been in his pocket since China, unsent because he just couldn’t think of anything more to write. Or perhaps because what it read so far was a little embarrassing. He wondered how he could possibly say something like that to Saitou; he wondered to the extent that he almost couldn’t believe he’d really written even as much as he had.

Neither of them had ever pretended their relationship was more than a convenient way to have regular sex, and when Sano had decided to see the world, Saitou had made no move to stop him… so why was the middle east not distracting enough to keep the officer off the traveler’s mind?

It was worst in the mornings, he’d found. Saitou didn’t really say things like, “good morning,” or, “did you sleep well?” …but somehow Sano missed the “get up, idiot” and “are you going to lie around all day?” (at 7:00 AM) more than he missed anyone else’s friendlier greetings. The most picturesque inn in Greece was somehow lacking when he woke up alone, and although Europe had more than its share of attractive people, somehow he just wasn’t interested. By the time he reached Spain and was looking for a way to earn passage to America, the truth was beyond denying.

Well, he had a while before he’d be back in Japan; he might have forgotten by then that he’d even mailed the thing. Or it might get lost. At least, that’s what he had to tell himself to get himself to send it; inside he was torn between praying fervently that it reach its destination swiftly and safely and wanting to tear it apart and never admit to having written such a thing. Then he skipped sleeping, fearing that the feeling of incompleteness that haunted him every morning would be worse than usual the next day.

Saitou – I miss you; I think I love you – Sano

As he watched the coast disappear behind the wake, he wondered what Saitou would have to say about that.



1sentence challenge

I decided to do the 1sentence challenge for Saitou and Sano. This is a challenge to write fifty stories, each one sentence long, each based on one theme from a set, about your pairing of choice. So each of these sentences here is a separate “story;” two of them parallel each other, but the other 48 are stand-alones.




Sano wondered if he was the only one who’d noticed that Saitou’s attack stances recalled sexual motions; one of these days he’d just go up to him and ask if it had been deliberate. (#01 – Motion)

Sano actually liked it when Saitou greeted him a little coolly, as that just challenged him to see how far and how fast he could warm him up. (#02 – Cool)

Relative age was an inconsistent thing these days; sometimes it seemed that Saitou was far too old to be doing this, but at other times Sano made him feel like he was locked in his prime and utterly invincible. (#03 – Young)

He said, “Ahou ga,” and I screamed his name, and everything exploded between us — but since he’s always got to have the last word, I assume we’ll be meeting again. (#04 – Last)

It was not pleasant to realize he’d been so completely, stupidly wrong about something, especially something as meaningful as what he felt for someone, but the first kiss almost entirely made up for the embarrassment. (#05 – Wrong)

Saitou was gentle like lightning was gentle, but when the result was an orgasm like thunder, Sano had little to complain of. (#06 – Gentle)

He’d heard it said that there really is no such thing as a lone wolf, that they are pack creatures by nature and cannot change — so perhaps the thing with Sagara was, after all, inevitable. (#07 – One)

There were a thousand reasons Sano absolutely loathed Saitou, and a thousand reasons he adored him, and the problem arose when he tried to add them up: somehow he only ever managed to come up with a thousand reasons total. (#08 – Thousand)

“If you keep trying to use that ‘But I’m the king of the world’ line to convince me to let you top, ahou, I’m going to burn that paper crown.” (#09 – King)

He’d thought Sagara too simple, too shallow to offer him any surprises, but once he relented and allowed himself to look with a little less bias, he found there was something new to learn about the boy every time he ran into him — which, now that he realized how much he enjoyed this unexpected education, was happening more and more frequently. (#10 – Learn)

The memory of their first time was a hot blur of sweat and friction and the taste of cigarettes, a hazy line of pleasure like their bodies entangled so that his mind could not unravel it — but it meant more to Sano than the clearest recollection ever could. (#11 – Blur)

Sano stepped to the edge and shouted defiantly out over the ruin, “If you’re still alive, bastard, you’d better show up pretty quick, ’cause you know I don’t have much patience, and I ain’t waitin’ for your sorry ass forever!” — then, turning away, wondered if that line would fool anyone, let alone Saitou. (#12 – Wait)

Saitou took every opportunity he could to reiterate that Sano was a thoughtless, foolhardy, immature ahou, by which he meant, “Never change.” (#13 – Change)

Anything Saitou told Sano to do was spoken in an authoritarian tone that was a catalyst for instant perversity; but, really, daily life probably would have been a good deal less fun without all the violent refusal and insistence. (#14 – Command)

Such a restless, sprawling sleeper as Sano was made the brief spans when he lay still and Saitou was able to hold him without struggle that much more dear. (#15 – Hold)

Saitou had thought he could break things off before interest became obsession and want became need, but the transition was so unobtrusive that it had taken place long before he realized; and of course by then he was entrenched in the belief that Sano deserved a dedicated lover anyway, and couldn’t regret it. (#16 – Need)

Sometimes Sano would wake up warm and comfortable and find Saitou staring at him with what he could swear was a fond smile; he probably needed to get his vision checked. (#17 – Vision)

Just to know that he’d really gotten his attention this time, just to see him walking back this direction toward the cell and its decimated door, made that whole damn week worth it — death threats, bloody knuckles, and bittersweet sightings of the dead entirely notwithstanding. (#18 – Attention)

Sano wished there were some way to tell Saitou that he belonged to him, body and soul, without making it sound like some kind of sappy dramatic confession or kinky bondage suggestion; on the other hand, the latter didn’t sound too bad… (#19 – Soul)

He knew it was stupid to be jealous of a dead man, and even stupider to be jealous of a picture of a dead man, but sometimes the way Sano looked at that nishiki-e was enough to drive Saitou crazy. (#20 – Picture)

After a while it ceased to matter whether or to what degree Sano was a fool, as long as he was Saitou’s fool — which, perhaps, made Saitou the greater fool, but that ceased to matter at about the same time. (#21 – Fool)

Sano spent all day trying to decide whether it would be better to profess his mad adoration and see what happened then, to entice Saitou into mad sex first and confess his feelings afterward, or just to admit that he’d gone completely mad falling in love with someone like that in the first place and have himself committed. (#22 – Mad)

Sano’s careless living habits and reckless attitudes often made Saitou feel like he had another child, a very young son, but, as that would have been extremely incestuous and pedophilic, he tried not to think about it in those terms. (#23 – Child)

Saitou’s life was usually very well ordered, but often when it came to his impetuous and impatient lover, logic had to give way to spontaneity and in good time to now. (#24 – Now)

Saitou did not approve of any public display of affection, and Sano did not approve of hiding anything; eventually they reached the compromise of ducking into the deepest nearby shadow when the need for kisses arose outside their own home. (#25 – Shadow)

I said, “Ahou ga,” and he screamed my name, and everything exploded between us — but since neither of those was really a proper goodbye, I assume we’ll be meeting again. (#26 – Goodbye)

It took so much energy hiding it from themselves and each other that they had little left to spend on the rest of the world, which was why Kenshin always looked politely skeptical and Tokio always rolled her eyes whenever one mentioned the other; for a very long time they were deliberately blind to these reactions as well. (#27 – Hide)

What with the ahou’s excessive eating out, impulse purchases, and general carelessness, Saitou had never actually noticed the salary increase he’d gotten at around the same time Sano had moved in; he’d also never even thought to consider it a bad trade. (#28 – Fortune)

There was a kind of safety that had nothing to do with physical threats or circumstances beyond his control and a lot to do with his heart and happiness and the future of these: a kind of safety that Saitou would never have thought existed, nor that he would need or care at all to have; something that Sano unexpectedly provided and made invaluable. (#29 – Safe)

Saitou would chide Sano about his belief in the supernatural; at which point Sagara-taichou would inquire, again, what, exactly, Sano liked about Saitou; at which point Sano would tell Sagara-taichou to stop being a pervert hanging around in their bedroom; at which point Saitou would ask Sano who he was talking to; at which point the entire thing would start all over again. (#30 – Ghost)

Saitou answered dutifully when asked how to spell “asshole,” “bastard,” “arrogant,” and “antennae,” but when Sano announced he was writing a romance novel about him, Saitou took the paper away. (#31 – Book)

Saitou was giving him that eye that sometimes meant I’m going to kill you and sometimes meant Time for sex; and trying to guess which it was before the actual deed was almost as much fun as when it turned out to be the latter. (#32 – Eye)

Now he would never defeat him, as he would never see him again — not that it mattered, as he could never be good enough for him anyway, never have the kind of strength or be the kind of person who could capture his interest — but he would never forget him, would never love anyone as much, or in the same way; and he would never know why it had taken him so long to realize… (#33 – Never)

Sano couldn’t carry a tune in a sake jug, though he tended to try to carry both at the same time; Saitou only wished there were some way to make him understand, once he sobered up, just how bad he was, in order to blackmail him into elaborate sexual favors. (#34 – Sing)

When Saitou first told him he loved him, it struck Sano as being simultaneously sudden and unprecedented, and also something he’d been waiting for not merely since they’d met, but his entire life. (#35 – Sudden)

Saitou’s reply of “Ahou” to Sano’s question, “When are you going to stop calling me ‘ahou?'” was the same answer he gave to, “When are you going to stop loving me?” — so Sano was satisfied. (#36 – Stop)

When it started to seem like there just wasn’t enough time during their accidental encounters to say everything he wanted to say or give his eyes their fill, Saitou reflected it might be about time to start running into him on purpose; and when it seemed to Sano that there just wasn’t enough time during these ever-more-frequent, carefully unorchestrated meetings to do everything he needed to leave satisfied, he reflected it might be about time to move in. (#37 – Time)

The only problem with bathing together was that by the time they got finished with everything washing each other led to, they needed another bath; on energetic days, this cycle could continue indefinitely. (#38 – Wash)

Saitou couldn’t help thinking it just a little inconvenient that he found himself torn every single morning between getting to work on time and giving the snoring young man at his side some good wake-up sex. (#39 – Torn)

He’d known for quite some time that this was more than mere infatuation, and now that things had calmed down and he wasn’t required to run around the country chasing this or that corrupt or megalomaniacal lunatic, it might be a good time to say something — but, whether it was the sword through the shoulder or the carriage roof or the cold manner of parting and lack of contact, or some other aspect of their somewhat dubious history, something always held him back until eventually the intention to speak turned into nothing more than a secret dream. (#40 – History)

Sano was deeply conscious of the great responsibility that rested on his shoulders — being almost the only thing in all existence that could drag Saitou Hajime away from a hot bowl of soba and keep him distracted until it cooled was not a power to be taken lightly. (#41 – Power)

After a few years, Saitou was no longer much bothered by even the most immature of Sano’s foibles, nor Sano by the most callous of Saitou’s — but neither ever bothered to inform the other of this. (#42 – Bother)

His apparently one-sided infatuation was getting so maddening that Saitou at one point considered trying to locate a shrine to the god of roosters and offering up a few prayers there. (#43 – God)

There was undoubtedly a wall between them, and whether it was made up of the stubbornness of one, the austerity of the other, or some combination of these and more didn’t much matter — they were evidently determined, if only subconsciously, to get through or over or around it somehow, in which endeavor the stubbornness of one and the austerity of the other might actually prove rather useful. (#44 – Wall)

Saitou never left the house on the rare occasion when Sano was doing laundry, because Sano washed all the clothes he owned at the same time, and Saitou simply couldn’t get through an entire workday with that thought in his head. (#45 – Naked)

Sano had an intense drive to improve himself, in some part so that Saitou would like him; this was actually one of the things Saitou liked about him, but to say so seemed a trifle self-defeating. (#46 – Drive)

Even pain they caused each other was pleasure: neither of them let many people close enough to hurt them, so in a way it was just further proof of love — and beyond that, the make-up sex was always good. (#47 – Harm)

Knowing he would only be mocked for it, Sano didn’t mention out loud that there could never be gold so precious to him as what he woke up to every morning. (#48 – Precious)

The hunger of an unrelenting and single-minded wolf is not easily sated; the one who feeds him must be strong, persistent, resilient, and good enough tasting to keep him coming back for more. (#49 – Hunger)

He’d thought that the sight of the charred and chaotic wreckage of the battle platform below would break his heart, but found now, looking down, that he was almost smiling — because he simply didn’t believe it. (#50 – Believe)



Coke Machine


“What are you doing?”

Sano had been so busy kicking the vending machine’s ass, he hadn’t noticed the man’s approach. “Tryin’ to get this damn machine to give me the damn Coke I paid for!” he growled.

“On coke now, are we?”

Sano finally turned to look at the cop, and realized it was the same that had been in and out of his apartment building lately on some drug case: pretty much an arrogant bastard, though they had had a somewhat amusing conversation about potheads and the smell that never really left the side entryway. “Coca-cola, asshole,” Sano replied, and resumed shaking the machine.

Disconcertingly enough, the cop, instead of inhibiting him or questioning him further, just stood there and watched. As soon as Sano noticed himself giving more attention to not paying attention to the man than what he was actually doing, he stopped and turned. “There a problem, officer?”

This guy would have been immediately identifiable as a cop even without the badge, as his eyes were very arresting. “I’m just waiting to see if you can get a drink out of that thing,” he was replying, looking entertained.

“Why?” Sano asked warily.

“Maybe I don’t believe you actually put money in it.”

Sano stuck his tongue out. “Well, maybe I didn’t. What would you do then?”

“I’d have to wrestle you to the ground and search you.”

“For shakin’ a soda machine?” Sano snorted. “And, search me for what?” he added. “You know I don’t do drugs.”

“I’m sure I could think of something to search you for,” the cop smirked.

Sano wasn’t sure why he shivered just then; it wasn’t particularly cold out.

“What’s your name?” the older man said next.

“All that time you were around here and talking to me about shit, you never figured out my name?”

“Do you know mine?” replied the officer coolly.

“Well…”

“Saitou.”

“Sagara,” Sano replied, just a tad surly. “Why?”

“How old are you?”

“Nineteen.”

“So you are legal.”

“Legal for what?” Sano found himself shivering again.

Saitou shrugged.

Sano was minorly weirded out. “Why are you around here, anyway? Thought you were finished in this crappy neighborhood.”

“I’ve been assigned to this crappy neighborhood. You’ll probably be seeing a lot of me from now on.”

“Best new I’ve heard all night,” Sano said sarcastically.

“I can tell you’re going to be very cooperative.”

“Cooperative with what?”

“My investigations, of course.” Saitou looked him slowly up and down with an expression Sano didn’t quite understand.

He resisted the urge to squirm under that look, which reminded him very much of… well, he didn’t know what. Something that was going to get him. “Are you here to question me, then? Is that why you’re buggin’ me?”

Saitou stepped suddenly forward, still smirking, and reached out his hand. Sano, though of course he didn’t flinch, tried to keep his eyes from widening as the police officer ran just the very tips of his fingers through the younger man’s hair, but this was seriously creepy. It got about a hundred times worse when Saitou, still with that uncannily smug expression, trailed those same fingers down the side of Sano’s face and Sano was struck with the sensation of… kinda liking it.

Yeah, that last part was the weirdest.

He backed away abruptly until he came up against the Coke machine, demanding as he did so, “Are you a total pervert, or what?”

“Yes,” the cop replied calmly.

Well, there was no way Sano was going to stick around for that, despite having maybe enjoyed part of the display of it (or… maybe especially because he had), so he took off across the parking lot — not running; he hadn’t done anything wrong — after informing Saitou, “Well, not me!”

Perverted he might not be, but perverse he certainly was, and he couldn’t help turning when he was some distance off and shouting back defiantly, “And I didn’t put any money in that stupid machine!” Then he took off running, pleased with himself.

He got twenty steps before Saitou was on him.



Elica, upon stumping me in the Quote Guessy Game, requested a Saitou/Sano story, “street rat versus wolf, but in our times,” and thence came this ficlet. It’s quite pointless, possibly the most pointless thing I’ve ever dared to call a story (which is sad when it’s a gift for someone), but whatevs.

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

This story is included in the Saitou & Sano Collection ebook:


Rainfall

I’m sitting on the edge of the porch, and with the angle of the wind, the storm is coming down right into my face. Hell, I’m looking up into it, and only closing my eyes when I seriously can’t stand it.

He just got home, I think. I should really go inside to him. Pretty sad when you don’t even welcome your own lover home, isn’t it? But I don’t want to talk to him. I don’t want to see him. I get like this sometimes… it’ll pass. Sex will help… though that requires me to actually go in there…

He and I have been together for a long time now… ever since Kenshin got married. That same night, actually, was our first time. But he wanted me for a long time before that. Good to see someone has what he wants, I guess. I should add it’s good to have exactly what I need, too… but in this kind of mood, the kind where I’d rather sit out in the rain than go in and pretend any more, I just can’t.

He’s perfect for me. He’s strong, he’s energetic, he’s smart, he’s loyal, he’s good. He keeps me in line and inspires me to be a better person. He always knows exactly the right thing to say to me at any given moment, especially if I’m being stupid or stubborn; he’s unfailingly logical and practical. Sometimes I hate him for that. But I respect him too much to really hate him. I like him too much.

But I don’t love him.

Fuck knows I’ve tried… tried my damnedest to give up, to forget, to move on, to let this be the perfect match it should be, that he wants it to be… but giving up, forgetting, and moving on are a few things I’ve always been particularly bad at. And someone else was there first.

The back door slides open and he steps onto the porch. “What are you doing out here?” he wonders.

I look over at him, and I can’t think of anything to say. I may hate him sometimes, but I would never want to hurt him. Not like that, anyway; not that much; not anymore.

“Sano, are you all right?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” I finally manage. “Rain’s just a little depressing, is all.”

He rolls his eyes. “Then don’t sit out in it, ahou.” And he gestures for me to come to him.

See what I said? Logical, practical, always knows what to say to me, even if he might not realize the decision he’s telling me to make is about more than just the weather. If the rain’s depressing, don’t sit out in it, ahou: it’s that simple. And I bet it would be just that for him: a decision, and a simple one. If the rain’s depressing, make the choice not to sit out in it, not to be depressed by it. He has that kind of will power. As for me… well, I thought I was strong, but…

“Yeah, you’re right,” I reply, standing up and shaking water from my hair and stepping toward his outstretched hand.

As for me…

I accompany my lover inside.

Even if I don’t sit out in the rain, that doesn’t stop it from falling.



This story is included in the Saitou & Sano Collection ebook:


Wrestling

“I can’t figure out why you’re here,” Sano said as he leaned up against the wall next to Saitou and took a long drink from the jug in his hand. “You don’t like parties, you don’t like any of my friends, you don’t drink…”

Saitou nodded.

“You sure as hell aren’t enjoying standing here against the wall.”

“If you’re asking me to come socialize with you, the answer is no.”

“See, what’s the point coming to a party if you’re not even gonna have fun?” Sano laughed as he pushed off and walked away.

The gold eyes that followed were much steadier than Sano’s tipsy gait.

“I don’t understand you two,” Megumi said, glancing over at the police officer when Sano appeared at her side.

“Nobody much does,” Sano replied with a grin. “Not even me, really. I’m just glad jou-chan finally said it was all right for him to come.”

“Well, most of us do hate him,” the doctor reminded him with a skeptical shake of her head, “and as a consequence think you must be crazy.”

Sano shrugged. “Yeah, well, I am.”

Megumi chuckled. “Why did he come, anyway?”

With another grin, this one somewhat craftier, Sano replied, “Now that I actually do know.”

She waited a moment before demanding impatiently, “Well?”

“Just wait ’till I get drunker… you’ll see.”

She looked briefly over at Saitou again, very curious.

Saitou had watched the exchange meticulously, too far away to hear what was being said that made the doctor keep looking at him like that. It didn’t matter, though, as long as she kept her hands off.

Next Sano wandered over to talk to Kenshin, but the rurouni was not to be tempted into a drinking match any more than Saitou was — he’d learned his lesson already about challenging Sano there. Kenshin did seem to be curious about one thing, however: “Why is Megumi-dono watching you like that?”

Sano laughed. “Ain’t important,” he replied. “What you’sh’d really be worried about,” leaning down and saying softly into Kenshin’s ear, “is why Shinomori’s watchin’ you ‘like that.'”

Kenshin barely managed not to appear too startled or to snap his head around to find out if this was true — which was good, as if he’d done so he probably would have knocked Sano over or at least given him a good solid hair-whip in the face.

Over by the wall, Saitou twitched almost visibly as he saw Sano bend and put his mouth so close to Himura’s ear. But it was over too quickly to think about. Much.

Sano was by now a little too muddle-headed to be quite sure how the arm-wrestling got started. He didn’t usually bother arm-wrestling people, mostly, because his general acquaintance couldn’t beat him, and it was a pointless victory for those that could, as they had already beaten him in more meaningful ways in the past. He thought, in this instance, Kaoru might have had something to do with it, as she was his first opponent. She was also half drunk; sober, even Kaoru must recognize the futility of this venture. But now, red-faced from sake and a consequent, disturbing mixture of determination and pointless anger, she plopped herself down across the table she’d had somebody less inebriated drag in (she wouldn’t be pleased tomorrow that it had been used for such a purpose), pulled her sleeve back, and wiggled her fingers in a manner he thought perhaps was supposed to be challenging.

“C’mon, tori-atama,” she growled.

“You’re on, tanuki,” he growled back. He thought they might have been trading more complicated insults just a bit ago, but couldn’t quite remember.

As the Kamiya girl’s hand curled around Sano’s, Saitou scowled and stood straight, his own hands kept very carefully at his sides by sheer force of will.

Somehow, after soundly besting Kaoru a full five times in a row and sending her ranting over to Kenshin, Sano had succumbed to the glory of the moment (victory was sweeter when drunk) and allowed several other challengers to approach him. They were mostly his friends from around town, graciously invited here tonight by the kenjutsu instructor he’d just triumphed over, and they should have known better, but they were all as intoxicated as he was… which by now was quite a bit. The very first one proved what the trend would be, and at the third they all decided to gang up on him — obviously not realizing that even when they all pushed on the opposing hand, the pressure against his grip didn’t really intensify, and he threw the lot of them just as easily. The table cracked, and somehow it was suddenly an actual wrestling match, five to one.

Saitou watched Sano’s stupid game turn into a good-natured tussle, and that was the last straw. They were on top of him, which was something Saitou couldn’t laugh about the way Sano (and just about anyone else watching) was.

Sano found himself suddenly, unexpectedly (well, not really), expertly extricated from the mini-brawl and pulled to the door before being set upright again. “We’re leaving,” a narrow-eyed and very tense Saitou intoned in his ear.

“But–” Sano began, and was cut off as Saitou opened the door without waiting for his protest and dragged him from the dojo. The last thing he saw before the room and the party were out of his line of vision was Megumi’s grin of understanding.

Saitou basically had to support the roosterhead as they walked; the line of the cop’s jaw suggested he was more than ready for any complaint Sano might have about their hasty exit, but Sano wasn’t actually planning on making one. The night had gone exactly as anticipated: plenty of fun at the party, good sake he hadn’t had to pay for, and adorable jealousy from his boyfriend.

“Y’know, ‘fit bugs you so much, I’n wrestle you too,” he said, and spent the next moment trying to figure out exactly what had happened to the logic of the remark between brain and open air.

Saitou only said, “Hn.” Taking this as a ‘go right ahead,’ Sano jumped on him, and they tumbled down.

The wolf couldn’t really be annoyed at this; it didn’t take much ‘wrestling’ to get the drunken idiot pinned, panting, and disheveled on the ground between his legs, looking up at him with bright eyes from a flushed, grinning, expectant face. Sano knew who he belonged to, after all, and only needed occasional reminding. Saitou smirked; bending and pushing the black and white gi aside, pressing his mouth to his lover’s neck, then shoulder, then collarbone, then chest, he began the customary process of marking his territory.



LadyAmes, when she won the Quote Guessy Game, wanted a possessive Saitou, so for her I wrote this item. I’ve rated it . What do you think of it?

This story is included in the Saitou & Sano Collection ebook:


Defense

It didn’t even mean what the words supposedly expressed anymore; it hadn’t for a long time.

As he says goodbye, Saitou makes a final subtle appeal for Sano’s attention.


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 ebook:


Compromise


It was only a routine patrol around a trouble area; it shouldn’t have been so difficult, so life-altering. But every time this particular kid was involved, things just couldn’t go smoothly, couldn’t be normal or easy.

“What are you doing standing around out here at this time of night?” Saitou wondered as he approached, eyeing the young man’s clothing with vague apprehension.

Sano whirled, scowling. “Hey, fuck off, OK? I ain’t doing nothing.”

“It’s my job to be suspicious of scantily clad people standing around on street corners apparently doing nothing. You look like a prostitute.”

“You’re always harassing me,” Sano replied — a little too quickly, Saitou thought, and, if he wasn’t mistaken, fighting off a blush. “I know I’ve always been your favorite street-bum to pick on, but you can even search me — I got nothing on me.”

“You’re loitering.” Saitou did not like the look of that blush.

“Do you see any ‘No Loitering’ signs around here?” demanded Sano.

“There are ‘No Loitering’ laws, you know,” Saitou reminded him.

“Yeah, well…”

“Now, tell me honestly… what are you doing here?”

Sano looked away immediately, the expression on his face more than just embarrassed; it was bitter, ashamed.

“Sanosuke,” Saitou said, very softly and seriously, feeling his heart drop for no reason he could guess at. “Prostitution is only legal in specific parts of town, and this isn’t one of them.”

“I… so, what, you gonna arrest me?”

“Why are you doing this?”

“Why do you think, jackass?” Despite much of what Saitou said enraging Sano on the best of days, this anger seemed out of place, almost as if Sano were fighting to keep it up. “Gotta make money somehow.”

“And a regular job isn’t good enough for you?” Why, Saitou wondered, did this seem to matter on a level much closer to home than that of abstract social philosophy? Sure, he’d known this kid for a while, had even actually arrested him once, had more often than that let him off a little too easy… but still…

“You think I can live off what they pay at shitty fast food restaurants and mall stores?” Sano growled. “Hell, even those places’ll barely hire me, with my record… anything better’s a million years out of my reach. So I figured it was about time I started using what I got to make some real money; that’s all.” He still hadn’t looked Saitou in the face; it was very evident how he felt about the decision he’d made. And why was that so painful to the police officer?

“Isn’t there anyone…” Saitou knew he would be treading dangerous ground with this. “Don’t you have any friends or family who could help you?”

Sano’s expression darkened visibly. “Would you just fuck off?” he demanded. “Or arrest me already; quit talking my ear off.”

Saitou stifled a sigh and asked professionally, “When did you start this?”

“Tonight.”

“Have you had any clients yet?”

“No. I didn’t know… this wasn’t the best place for it…”

Why should that relieve Saitou so thoroughly? This was absurd. “I’m going to seriously suggest you rethink this. There are better ways to live your life.”

“No way in hell. Not in this city there’s not. Not for people like me. Took me long enough to decide on this in the first place. I ain’t going back now.” It appeared Sano had just revealed more than he’d originally intended; he was looking away and blushing again, seeming almost horrified with himself. “Go ahead and arrest me if you want,” he finished up, a little more quietly. “Won’t change a thing.”

Saitou nodded slowly. “I’m not going to arrest you,” he said, just as softly, “but I think you’re an idiot.” And turning, he started to walk away, more than dissatisfied with the exchange but not sure there was anything more he could do.

“Hey!” Sano retorted in a more animated tone than before. “I may be an idiot and a fucking whore, but at least I’m making my own way.” His voice rose into a shout as Saitou drew further and further from him. “Nobody can say I didn’t take care of myself on my own!”

The officer’s steps slowed almost against his will, his frown deepening and seeming to turn abruptly to stone. It was always that fierce independence, that absolute, uncompromising determination… Still without the full consent of his better judgment, he retraced his path. Sano actually backed up a pace, evidently afraid Saitou had changed his mind and planned to arrest him after all. But Saitou only pulled his wallet from his pocket, extracted a couple of large bills, and held them out with a stiff arm.

Sanosuke’s face darkened. “I don’t want your charity, cop.”

“I’m not offering charity,” Saitou replied in an equally dark tone.

As Sanosuke realized what he meant, reaching up slowly to hold both the money and the hand offering it, he looked into the officer’s face with eyes that seemed, against all odds and expectations, warily hopeful. “You said this is illegal around here,” he whispered.

But Saitou didn’t waver. “Come on,” he said, letting go of the money and turning. “My car’s just around the corner; we can use the back seat.”


This story is included in the Saitou & Sano Collection ebook: