Pattern


Saitou removed his gloves, briefly massaged one of his temples, lit a new cigarette, and settled in for another perusal of this seemingly random collection of evidence. It was his fourth cigarette and his sixth perusal; when each was spent, and he richer by no significant insight, he sighed and slumped a bit.

Rustling sounded behind him, and presently Sano’s strong warm hands slid down over his collarbones. As the young man’s body pressed against his from behind, as closely as possible with the back of the chair between them, Sano half yawned in his ear, “I shoulda known better than to expect you any time soon.”

Saitou let his head fall against Sano’s shoulder with another exhalation. He’d been concentrating so hard that the unrelated rest of the world had gone out of focus, and now Sano’s warmth against him restored his awareness abruptly. He hadn’t even realized how long he’d been sitting here; it was probably three in the morning by now.

Sano’s hands roved slowly across his chest in an almost massaging motion, and now he was leaning forward to look at the desk. “You’re not even actually doing anything, are you? Just going through those same notes.”

“There has to be a pattern,” Saitou muttered, sitting up straight again and forcing his eyes back onto the papers in front of him.

“No, there doesn’t,” replied Sano flatly. “There isn’t always a connection between shit like this.”

“There is here,” Saitou stated. But the notes on the desk were blurring.

“Sure there is.” Sano pressed closer against him. “Guy gets assigned boring criminal shit whenever he’s not investigating dirty politicians, and he usually gets through it about twice as fast as the other cops because he’s some kind of crazy genius or something. So obviously this guy’s gonna want to get all his cases done twice as fast so everyone keeps thinking he’s some kind of crazy genius or something.”

Saitou gave a brief, dry laugh and murmured, “Ahou.”

“What?” protested Sano. “It makes perfect sense!”

“There are other reasons I might want to wrap up a case quickly. Don’t assume I’m as frivolous as you.”

I don’t think trying to keep up your reputation is frivolous.”

“No, I’m sure you don’t.”

“And I know this is an Aku Soku Zan thing too,” Sano went on in a more serious tone, “but you gotta sleep sometime.” Saitou looked down at his papers again, but Sano persisted before he could speak. “Come on, man, it’s not a murder case! Sure, these guys are all organized and getting away with expensive shit, but it’s not like anyone’s dead.”

“You’ve been reading my notes,” Saitou remarked in some surprise.

“I gotta find something to do while you’re busy,” shrugged Sano.

“There are quite a few more useful things you could be doing.” But Saitou couldn’t help smiling as he made this remonstrance. He stood, pushing the chair aside and turning into Sano’s embrace.

After a warm, leisurely kiss Sano said, “Here, let me help you,” and attacked the buttons of Saitou’s jacket.

Helping Sano ‘help’ him, Saitou chucked low in his throat. “And here’s the real point of all your persuasion. Don’t you ever think about anything else?”

“Hey!” Sano gave him a (mostly) facetious glare. “I’m looking out for you, trying to make sure you don’t work yourself to death, and you make me sound like some horny kid!”

“I’m afraid you’re going to work me to death one of these nights,” Saitou smirked.

“That would be a way better way to go.”

Saitou had to agree.

Sometimes all he really needed in order to solve a problem was to step back and think about something else for a while. Sometimes he forgot this in his single-minded pursuit of evil. Sano’s intervention might not have done much to compel Saitou to rest, since dawn found him again seated at his desk in full uniform, but now as he looked at the collected information all the pieces of the pattern were falling into place almost without effort.

As he gathered up his things, ready to head to the station and initiate a plan of action he’d been miles away from even forming just hours before, he threw a fond smile over at his sleeping lover. His involvement with Sano had more benefits than merely his own perpetual happiness.


This fic is dedicated to TsukiNekoSama, an old friend from DeviantArt that used to like this pairing too.

I’ve rated this story . Short and sweet.

This story is included in the Saitou & Sano Collection ebook (.zip file contains .pdf, .mobi, and .epub formats).


Vicissitude


Why the hell am I here, again? It’s fucking raining.

Well, it’s drizzling, anyway — enough to make me damp and uncomfortable. And it’s a shitty walk. I mean, it’s a nice enough neighborhood and the roads are all right, but all of this last bit is uphill. In the rain.

I don’t know why I even come here. Half the time I can’t get his attention anyway — I swear I spend my whole life trying to get his attention — and then it’s a long walk home. Well, sure, today he appears in the doorway the moment I set foot on his property, but usually…

Look at that look he’s giving me. Stupid eyebrow; why am I even here? He’ll probably refuse to fight me, too. All right, well, he’s tugging his gloves tighter and stepping down from the porch, which means he is willing to fight me today, but that damned eyebrow of his is still wondering why.

“I had a real shitty day,” I announce in answer.

“And I will never understand why my beating you up always seems to make you feel better,” he replies.

See, he doesn’t even understand me. Why am I here? But at least he’s giving me what I want.

Not that I’m really sure why I want it. Bastard’s right… why do I seem to enjoy getting my ass handed to me like this? Well, only by him, though. But it’s not like I’m improving or anything — not that I need to!! — except, I guess, sometimes I feel like maybe I’m learning how to deal with the ‘Asshole’ style of fighting a little better. And it’s not like he would ever acknowledge my improvement even if I somehow managed to totally beat him. Not in a million years.

Well, all right, today one time after he knocks me down he does say, “Keep working on that move and you might actually dodge one of my hits one of these years.”

Jerk. Why do I do this?

“Fujita!” That’s the wife. Why am I here?? I still can’t believe he’s married. I mean, I know she does her own thing and lets him do his, and she really is a fun person, but I still can’t get over the fact that he’s married to her. “Fujita!” she yells from the house again. There’s about a million other things she could call him that would make more sense, but I guess ‘Fujita’ is less disturbing than ‘anata.’ “Is that Sano out there again? Stop kicking his ass and bring him in for supper!”

So Saitou reaches down and grabs my hand to drag me to my feet, and before he lets go pulls me up against him and kisses me hard. What a weird moment to choose to do that.

Well, but I can feel most of what’s left of my frustration from the day just draining out of me, and I can’t help grinning a little as we go into the house.

Why the hell am I here, again?

Oh, I remember now.

I’ve rated this story . It was the one and only story I wrote while navigating the dreadful city bus system to and from school for a year and a half, where I thought I’d get a lot of writing done and then mysteriously didn’t.

This story is included in the Saitou & Sano Collection ebook (.zip file contains .pdf, .mobi, and .epub formats).


Magic



Chou’s temper hovered on the fiery brink when Sano showed up at the police station, so, although he didn’t know why Sano was here again, he was glad to abandon his task for the moment and come sit on the edge of Saitou’s desk for another meaningless conversation with the roosterhead.

“So how’s it going?” Sano asked.

Chou gestured toward his corner and rolled his eyes. “Fuckin’ paperwork.”

“As usual, huh?”

“Not as much lately,” Chou acknowledged. “But I still hate it.”

“Where’s Saitou?”

Shaking his head slowly, as he’d found himself doing quite a bit recently when the senior officer came to mind, Chou replied just as slowly, “Dunno…”

Sano caught at the gesture and the tone. “What?”

“Well, the boss is…” He couldn’t quite figure out how to put it.

“Something wrong with him?”

“No… more like just the opposite, actually.”

“So something’s right with him?”

“I guess. It’s weird.” Observing Sano’s curious look, Chou scratched his head and wondered where to start. “It’s not like he’s really different or something,” he finally began. “It’s just, for maybe a month or so, he’s been…”

“Been what?” The prodding rooster seemed inordinately curious now.

“Well, nicer,” admitted Chou, then quickly amended, “just a little.”

“Really?” Sano suddenly had a strange grin on his face. “Nicer how?”

It took a moment for Chou to come up with a concrete example. “This one time before when he caught me sleeping on the job… uh, at his desk, actually… he thought the best way to wake me up was to hit me really fuckin’ hard on the head. Woulda been almost funny if he’d knocked me out trying to wake me up. But then it happened again the other day, and he just slammed his sword down on the desk really hard and startled me half to death.”

“I guess that’s nicer…” Sano’s grin had turned slightly skeptical.

“It ain’t just that,” Chou protested. “He’s just… in a better mood… all the time. Before, he’d come into work already pissed off and ready to bite my head off at practically anything I said. Now it takes a while for him to get to that point, sometimes all the way ’til lunch time. Oh, and he lets me have a lunch break, too. He never did that before.”

Sano was watching Chou with that same inexplicable little grin, pleased and amused and maybe somewhat surprised. “Really…?” he said thoughtfully. “And how long you say this’s been going on?”

“I dunno how long it’s been, really,” the blonde shrugged. “I just started to notice, so I’ve been looking back and trying to guess when it started. Maybe a month, but that could be way off.”

For a long moment Sano kept silent, apparently wrapped up in whatever thoughts were bringing that odd expression to his face… or perhaps just having a hard time imagining what Chou was describing. Finally he said, “So Saitou’s been happier lately, has he? For about a month, you think?”

“I know it’s hard to believe,” Chou agreed.

“What else does he do?” asked Sano, an almost eager curiosity still marking his tone.

Wondering more than ever why his companion was so interested, Chou enumerated the further examples he’d managed to call to mind. “Well, he doesn’t hit me nearly as much in general — not just when I’m doing something I know I’m not supposed to like sleeping at his desk, but just when I annoy him or whatever. And he stopped doing that thing where he completely ignores me when he feels like it. Course that just means he tells me my ideas are dumb that much sooner, but at least I don’t have to repeat myself. Oh, and he doesn’t intentionally scare the shit out of the rookies half as much as he did before.”

Sano, who’d been chuckling through this entire speech, picked up quickly on the last point and asked, “So it’s not just you he’s being nicer to?”

“No, it’s everyone! I’d think he was maybe just getting used to me or something, but he even had a whole conversation with the chief the other day without completely antagonizing him!”

“I should send Kenshin up here sometime and see how Saitou treats him,” Sano suggested with a crafty smile.

Now it was Chou’s turn to chuckle. “Somehow I don’t think the magic works that well.”

“So you think it’s magic, huh?” Sano grinned.

“What the fuck else could make Saitou be that nice?”

Sano shrugged. “Well, I hear getting laid can put a guy in a pretty good mood. Maybe he’s found some decent ass.”

At this Chou laughed outright. “Are you crazy? Not even magic could make that happen.”

“Well, next time you see him–” Sano hoisted a brow suggestively– “look for hickeys and stuff.”

“No fuckin’ way,” Chou reiterated, still laughing.

Grin widening, Sano jumped up. “Well, this is good news. If it means your job’s not sucking as much anymore, I mean.” Clapping Chou on the back, he added, “You’re a good guy, houki. Let’s go drink sometime; my treat.”

The sword-collector was slightly confused at this, not having thought their often-dubious friendship had progressed to going drinking together, nor that he’d said anything today to push it to that point… However, it wasn’t an offer he was about to refuse, so he just grinned back and said, “You mean your tab’s treat?”

“Yeah, something like that,” Sano agreed, stuffing his hands in his pockets and ambling toward the door. That mysterious smile had returned to his face, and he already seemed a mile away, at least in thought.

Chou couldn’t help it. “What’s with you?” he demanded.

Glancing back, “Good-mood-magic spreads,” Sano said with another shrug, and was gone.

Chou gave a baffled laugh, and found his own smile still remaining when that was finished. “I guess it does,” he muttered, and returned to his work in a much better temper.


I was in the middle of playing video games on a sick day when I thought I wouldn’t get anything done when this story suddenly decided it wanted to be finished. And who was I to argue? Technically this is the nice story I promised Chou after How Chou Got Fired, which is part of why it starts out very much like that one did.

Anyway, this was for 30_kisses theme #2 “News; letter,” except that I completely ignored the “letter” part. It’s also a companion to Responsibility and Corner of the Eye. I’ve rated it .

This story is included in the Saitou & Sano Collection ebook (.zip file contains .pdf, .mobi, and .epub formats).


More Than Just His Scent


Saitou had an excellent sense of smell, especially when it came to things that were important in his life, such as blood or Sano. Thus he could easily discern that Sano had been wearing his uniform. Why Sano had been wearing his uniform was something he couldn’t begin to guess, but Sano’s distracting scent suffused the material covering his body and made it nearly impossible to think of anything else all the way to work. Sano was going to pay for this.

The younger man’s dogged independence prevented him from officially moving in with Saitou, despite the condition of his own quarters and the fact that he spent more than half his nights at the officer’s house anyway — so it hadn’t been entirely surprising not to find Sano there when Saitou returned home from his business trip… but had the purpose of Sano’s absence been to escape punishment on the eventual discovery of his uniform-borrowing trick, or to worsen the latter by forcing Saitou to smell him all day when he hadn’t seen or touched him for a week?

Immediately inside the door to his office, Saitou bent his head and brought the unbuttoned collar of his jacket to his face, inhaling deeply. He couldn’t describe it — it wasn’t particularly similar to the smell of anything else he could recall — and, really, he had very little inclination to try; but it was more or less intoxicating.

Sano couldn’t have done anything particularly strenuous — or even, most likely, what Saitou would have expected (taken a nap, that is) — given the still-relatively-crisp state of the clothes when Saitou had pulled them from the closet; actually Saitou was a little surprised the careless young man had managed to refold them so neatly in the first place. But what had he done? Saitou could just imagine Sano strolling around town dressed as a cop… Sano, with his tenuous grasp of legality and occasional tendency to vigilantism. If he’d done anything stupid in public wearing a police uniform, he was really going to get it.

With a sigh Saitou dropped into the chair at his desk and, unconcerned with the effect this might have on the garment, dragged a handful of the black shirt under his jacket to his face. The shirt smelled even more heavily of Sano; whatever he had or hadn’t done, he must have been wearing it for some hours. Saitou was inconveniently curious.

It did occur to him that Sano might have put the uniform on for the same reason he was sitting here smelling it now — if the thing reminded him of Sano after presumably only a few hours, the memory of the man that wore it every day probably never washed out. And the thought of Sano wishing to surround himself with his lover’s scent while Saitou was far away brought a hot, happy feeling into the wolf’s chest as images of his roosterhead arose in his mind. If he had Sano here right now, he would give him more than just his scent.

Even his gloves smelled like Sano. Saitou’s eyes drifted shut as he breathed it in. Yes, if he had Sano here…

He knew perfectly well he might be making more of this than was actually the case. He had an excellent sense of smell, it was true, and definitely did detect Sano’s aroma in his clothes, but wishful thinking born of his week-long absence might be exaggerating it. He didn’t care; the remembered and anticipated sensations of Sano’s body against his were not something he wanted to dismiss just yet, whatever their source.

“Uh… boss?” Confusion and amusement warred in Chou’s voice, and for good reason: Saitou had been stationary for at least a minute with his hand to his face, eyes closed and mind far away. And somehow he hadn’t noticed he’d neglected both to lock his office door and Chou’s presence. Damn that distracting boy of his. He was definitely going to get it. Which, Saitou considered as he chased his grinning subordinate from the room, might have been Sano’s only intention all along.


I’ve rated this story .

This story is included in the Saitou & Sano Collection ebook (.zip file contains .pdf, .mobi, and .epub formats).


"I Love You Too"

It was a phrase he’d always hated, even before this Sano thing had started, back when he’d thought he had no use for love.

There’s a certain phrase Saitou dislikes, but the one he’d rather say gives him even more trouble.


It was a phrase he’d always hated, even before this Sano thing had started, back when he’d thought he had no use for love. Tokio’s sweetheart would say, “I love you,” and Tokio would reply, “I love you too,” and Saitou would get annoyed. Of course they were women, and women said incomprehensible and irritating things, but this one bothered him more than many.

“I love you too.” It was something people said like a greeting, a polite reply that was expected of them, and after time it started to come out as thoughtlessly and as much by default as the quick positive response to “How are you?” It was a second-place phrase, an admission made only by those who couldn’t get to “I love you” first. It was a pressured phrase, one that was demanded by “I love you,” however sincere it might or might not be. How could the first speaker ever take it seriously? How could anyone ever be sure that “I love you too” was anything more than a meaningless, automatic answer — forced out, tossed out, rendering the “I love you” less significant?

Nevertheless it was a phrase Saitou found himself using more and more frequently lately, because the alternative was to let Sano believe he didn’t love him, which thought he couldn’t stand. Or to come up with something more meaningful (and consequently more romantic), which he didn’t think he was capable of. Or… to somehow get “I love you” out first. Which he was working on.

There was a rigmarole of contemplation involved in this effort that was almost as bad as leaving it at “I love you too.” For instance, Sano only mentioned love about once a week (on average), and Saitou didn’t want to bring it up too soon after Sano had. But wait too long and Sano would say it again. Then, it was usually after sex when Sano said it, and Saitou spent far too much time wondering whether or not to uphold this tradition. Would it seem strange if he didn’t? He wasn’t afraid of the fact that their relationship was becoming this serious, but did he really want to be declaring love at any old moment? But if he said it after sex, might that not seem to imply his love was based mostly on sexual attraction? Not that he interpreted Sano’s words thus…

It was irritating to be thinking so much about this. Yes, Sano was important enough to him that he wanted at least once to make the statement on his own terms in a way he would consider meaningful… but why did that require so much attendant deliberation?? Saitou generally wasn’t the type to overthink things; it was a rare occasion when he didn’t immediately know exactly how to behave. But being annoyed with Sano for effecting this change was just a little counterproductive.

Eventually he decided to do things by the book (as it were), and took to waiting for the opportunity to arise. But days were passing, and always some circumstance unfitted the moment for his purpose, and he came gradually to realize that the overthinking might be a defense mechanism, or at least a way to soften a trial that was really incredibly hard for him. Scorning “I love you too” for being too easy didn’t make “I love you” any less difficult.

But that it was such a struggle made it all the more crucial to him that he manage it, and, of course, finally, he did. One night with Sano in his arms, their pulses calming as they settled in for sleep in perfect warmth and contentment, Saitou took a deep breath and said it before he could find an excuse not to: “I love you.”

Sano would never know how much work had gone into this, or how much more it meant to Saitou than their usual exchange, and Saitou wasn’t sure he wanted him to. As Sano snuggled more thoroughly into his arms and replied, oblivious, complacent, “I love you too,” Saitou was satisfied to note that hearing it wasn’t so bad.


I’ve rated this story .

This story is included in the Saitou & Sano Collection ebook (.zip file contains .pdf, .mobi, and .epub formats).


"Make Me!"

It was one of those days when the sun was too hot and the breeze was too cold and the alternation was too annoying. In the still air, Sano’s gi was heavy and sweat-inducing; when the wind picked up, he pulled it tight around him and scowled. He’d taken the thing off and put it back on about twenty times so far.

He was bored as hell, and consequently ambling slow circles outside the police station. He’d been doing it for almost an hour in the hopes that at least one of three things would happen: he would get arrested for loitering and get to make a huge scene; Chou would appear, and they could fight about something or nothing; Saitou would decide not to be a workaholic for one day in his life, leave early, and fuck Sano’s brains out for the rest of the day and the whole night. These could happen in pretty much any order, except that the Saitou one always had to be last.

None of them had happened yet; he kinda wondered what was taking so long.

He glanced up at the window to Saitou’s office. The sun’s glare on the glass made it impossible to see anything within, and he wondered if the old mantis knew he was out here. It was unlikely he didn’t; half the precinct knew Sano was out here. Trying to imagine what they guessed he was doing made him chortle.

He took off his gi again.

They thought he was a less official version of Chou: some weirdo Saitou ordered around that wasn’t exactly a cop but wasn’t exactly not. And that was pretty much true, only Saitou didn’t sleep with Chou.

Where was Chou, anyway? Sano wondered as he put his gi back on and began restlessly digging a hole in the ground with his foot.

A junior officer emerging from the station’s main doors and heading purposefully toward him was a heartening sight. Sano straightened and waited with a hopeful grin to see if the guy would try to tell him off. No such luck, but the flunky did have a little folded packet to deliver. Evidently assuming the latter contained orders that didn’t need to be discussed, the blue-clad peon didn’t speak as he handed it over, only nodded to Sano and disappeared again into the station.

Sano put his gi back on — he didn’t even remember removing it this time — and unfolded the note. Why don’t you go home and wait for me instead of giving my coworkers a strip show? it said in imperative language. A single small piece of candy in shiny blue paper had been folded within. Sano wasted no time getting this into his mouth. Just the candy, not the paper.

So he thinks he can bribe me, huh? Well, on a day when he wasn’t so intolerably bored, it might have worked. Today there was no way in hell Sano would be willing to ‘go home and wait’ like the good little wife he wasn’t. And the fact that he’d already pushed Saitou far enough for the cop to offer a bribe at all was very encouraging.

He stood back and waved vigorously at the glowing window above — not that he really thought he didn’t already have his lover’s attention, but he wanted to make sure. Then he blew a kiss extravagantly upward and called out two defiant words before, backing away a few paces, he slid his gi slowly off his shoulders and began a semi-erotic dance against the gate-post.


This story, which I’ve rated , was for 30_kisses theme #23 “Candy.”

Bored Sano is great, and devious bored Sano is even better. I can just imagine Saitou inside getting all annoyed and turned on and trying not to look.

This story is included in the Saitou & Sano Collection ebook (.zip file contains .pdf, .mobi, and .epub formats).


No, More Pretending

Pirika was the one who’d gotten him to this point; it seemed like betrayal to question his relationship with her.

Horohoro realizes and comes to grips with the true nature of his feelings toward his sister.


From a recumbent position that wasn’t likely to change any time soon, no matter what happened or who insisted that breaktime was over and they should all get back to their training, Horohoro watched languidly the interaction of a trio of figures not far off. The largest — standing solid and unperturbed by the heat as usual — was not particularly interesting; the other two — the slender, elegant woman and her scowling brother — held the teenager’s attention now as they often did.

Ren was so clearly excessively devoted to Jun… It had surprised Horohoro when he’d first noticed it, and had not ceased to fascinate him since. Ren, who didn’t seem to care about anyone other than himself, think about anything other than his own pursuits, or (understandably) feel even the smallest connection to his odd family, yet appeared to put everything second to his regard for his sister. It made Horohoro grin, among other reasons because it proved that Ren had decent emotions and the capacity to be concerned with something that relatively normal human beings thought about; additionally, it reminded Horohoro very much of himself and Pirika.

He’d been gloating up until now that Ren wasn’t as different from him as the pointy team leader would like to think… but gradually, as he lay watching them over there, his grin faded. For the more he observed the way Ren and Jun interacted, the more he saw that they really weren’t much like him and Pirika. Despite the curtness that Ren showed even to her, it was obvious that his esteem for Jun bordered on worshipful, that he wanted to protect her above all things… Horohoro couldn’t think that Ren’s mental images of Jun were consistently naked, or that they’d ever shared a bed.

This, of course, forced the Ainu very seriously to examine his attitude about his own sister. He sat up, crossed his legs, and frowned.

It was not entirely strange that he’d never thought about it before, as he’d apparently been pretending all along that he’d forgotten they were related — and therefore his potentially questionable feelings for her hadn’t raised any objections in his mind. Whether he objected now, he wasn’t sure. The shaman fight was designed, among other things, to hone the participants who lasted by making them face themselves as well as others, question the way they lived… but Pirika was the one who’d gotten him to this point; it seemed like betrayal to question his relationship with her. On the other hand, she must have understood that, and had sent him nonetheless; and if she accepted that he must question, was willing to risk it, it almost seemed cowardly not to question.

He growled and tugged on his hair. He was twisting himself into knots here! What use was it questioning whether or not he should question?? He was already questioning! Should he face the fact that his feelings for Pirika might not be entirely appropriate, or keep on pretending that their relationship was perfectly normal?

Kororo landed on his shoulder, wondering if he was all right, and Horohoro realized he hadn’t stopped pulling his hair. “Sorry,” he mumbled, patting her. “I don’t mean to make you worry… just thinking about some stuff.”

She hugged his face and flitted off, and he had to smile. It faded quickly, though, as he considered that to make one of his dreams come true, he might well have to give up another. And was he man enough to handle that? Oh, but why should he?! Why couldn’t he have both? …because it wasn’t normal to pretend your desire for your sister was innocuous, all the while wishing out loud for a girlfriend but knowing subconsciously, complacently, that you’d never get one because you didn’t really need one. It wasn’t right.

But couldn’t the Shaman King determine for himself what was normal and right?

This was still a stupid and frustrating debate, especially since he wasn’t really considering the real issues. He turned and looked again at Ren and Jun as a sort of distraction. An inneffectual one, though, as they were what had brought this to mind in the first place. A little bitterly, he projected his dilemma onto them: what if Ren had……. that same kind of feeling for Jun? (No, Horohoro could not define it clearly just yet; that was part of his problem.) What if she returned it? Well, Ren never let anyone else dictate the way he should live, so the two of them would surely act on those feelings. Horohoro wasn’t assigning a concrete definition to that either, that action, but there was no denying that the idea made him feel… good… warm… happy. It was a sweet concept, and didn’t seem at all wrong. Was that because his thinking was warped by his own situation, his selfishness? Was it time to admit his weakness and stop pretending?

But his earlier reflection, that Ren didn’t and wouldn’t let others tell him how to live, now hung before him like a challenge. Was he to be repressed by a world that he already wanted to change? Was he to let even a hypothetical Ren live more freely, live better, than he did? Was the future king of all spiritualists to let his destiny be guided by a blind and arbitrary code?

No, more pretending was fine. Because he shouldn’t have to define it at this point, but he shouldn’t have to give it up either. So until things took their natural course — until he faced and admitted what he wanted, or until it faded, or whatever the case turned out to be — he would pretend, and he wouldn’t regret, because the world was big enough for things like that.



No, there is no mention of the potential Yoh/Horo implied in the first story simply because Horohoro is utterly oblivious to that possibility XD

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



How Many Days


“You need to learn the difference between persistence and stubbornness,” Saitou half sighed, dropping the butt of his cigarette and grinding it underfoot before turning to face the young man approaching him through the dusk.

Is there a difference?” Sanosuke wondered, his tone an interesting mix of dark determination and joviality.

Saitou couldn’t believe the idiot had managed to keep this up for so long. “One evidently too subtle for you to grasp,” he replied at a murmur, undoing the top two buttons of his jacket.

“Fuck subtlety,” was Sano’s growled retort as he hurled himself forward to attack for… yes, Saitou believed, this really had to be the thirtieth time.

“Your personality in two words,” the officer marveled as he jerked aside, dodging the kick Sano aimed at his shoulder, and, turning, slammed a solid blow into his face.

Sano had no reply for the quip other than to wipe vaguely at the trickle of blood now issuing from his nose, clench his fists, and come back for more.

“Eventually you’re going to have to realize,” Saitou admonished patiently as he blocked a few punches and returned a few, rather idly, of his own, “that it can take just as much strength to admit defeat as to keep fighting a losing battle forever.”

Sano staggered back and slowly regained his balance. “You’re so sure I’m never gonna get anywhere with you.”

“You’ll never defeat me,” agreed Saitou, waiting for the next charge.

“Che…” Sano rubbed absently at a growing bruise on his right forearm before making it. “Even I know that by now.”

“You’ve attacked me every evening for a month, and barely hit me a handful of times.” Saitou caught the fist flying toward him, twisted to dodge the other, slammed his own hard in Sano’s ribs, and threw him back again. “If you know you can’t beat me, what can you possibly hope to gain from this?”

Coughing and stumbling, his face a grimace of pain, it was several moments before Sano could answer. “Proof… that you’re not… invincible.”

A black eyebrow rose. “If you haven’t figured that out by now, I don’t see how my beating you up every day will help.”

I already know it.” Sano’s breathing was labored from the last blow, his growl considerably subdued. “I wanna prove it to you.”

“If I were under that impression,” Saitou wondered as he sidestepped entirely the roosterhead’s next attack, “and you did somehow manage to disillusion me” — spinning and elbowing Sano in the back of the head — “what makes you think I’d admit it to you?”

But there was no answer, as with the crack of contact between arm and skull Sano fell limply to the ground.

Saitou stepped back, brushed off his jacket and refastened the top two buttons, and stared at the unconscious figure as he pulled out a cigarette and lit it. “Ahou,” he muttered, though not to any particular purpose. After a few moments, he crouched at Sano’s side, flipped him easily over, and examined briefly the wounds inflicted by today’s bout. These were difficult to distinguish from yesterday’s wounds, but it seemed he’d actually broken a rib with that punch. He sighed; to the doctor, then.

He’d altered his route home to take him past a clinic when it had become obvious that this new hobby or fixation of Sanosuke’s would not relent for a while, and the young man had timed things well enough this evening that it was only a short walk there with the extra weight.

Again, Fujita-san?” asked the doctor in a despairing tone as the officer entered.

Saitou, laying Sano’s slack form down on the table as usual, shrugged. “It makes just as much sense to me,” he replied, drawing from his pocket, as usual, enough money to cover today’s treatment. “I believe he has a broken rib this time.”

The doctor sighed, taking the money and stepping into the next room to retrieve what supplies would be necessary to patch Sano up yet again.

Saitou looked down. “Ahou,” he said softly once more, shaking his head. “How many days will it take you to find something better to do with that energy of yours?” He snorted and added in a very dry and quiet tone, “As if I would admit it to you.” Then quickly, briefly, he bent and brushed his lips against Sano’s. “I was invincible.” He went to the door, turning to glance back once before he exited. “See you tomorrow.”


This story, which I’ve rated , was for 30_kisses theme #16, “Invincible, unrivaled.”

A Strong Bad quote comes to mind here: “It’s like… even when we win, he wins.” Yet even when Sano’s one-up on Saitou, he’s still the one unconscious with a broken rib. I love it when he manages to win something, though. All it took to show Saitou was a month of getting his ass kicked XD

This story is included in the Saitou & Sano Collection ebook (.zip file contains .pdf, .mobi, and .epub formats).


Prescription

“As a doctor, I cannot recommend strenuous sex so soon after an injury.”

Sano is closer to recovering from his recent wound than Megumi thought to find him, and Saitou is curious.

Unique to this story: something like voyeurism.

“Oh… oh… oh…”

Megumi’s raised hand paused near the doorframe and did not knock. She’d thought to check on Sanosuke and that wound of his she’d dressed the other day — not that she had any reason to concern herself particularly over an idiot that never went to a doctor except when he was dragged in unconscious, but he happened to be on her way home this evening. But it was evident from the noise within that he was in something like decent shape by now anyway.

A moan sounded clearly through the thin door, and Megumi found herself blushing fiercely. From what she remembered of the single other time she’d visited Sanosuke’s apartment, there wasn’t too much further inside to go… but it really did seem like they’d gotten down to business immediately within the entrance.

Megumi moved to depart, to the sound of, “I’ll try, but if you keep doing that I’m gonna come right now,” but then as Sano cried out more loudly, “Oh, god, Saitou!” she stopped and with wide eyes turned back. The moaning within continued, for a while entirely inarticulate.

She knew she shouldn’t be listening, but that unexpected name held her. She would have thought that for those two to become involved was an entirely hopeless business, something she would have bet money against; indeed, only proof such as this would have convinced her of it at all. Which didn’t justify her eavesdropping, but she was too overcome with curiosity to move.

“Stop teasing me,” Sano was gasping; “just put it in already!”

Accompanied by some thumping, the sounds of pleasure intensified. So did Megumi’s blush. She really should go.

“New hobby, sensei?”

She jumped, squeaked, and spun to face the very last person in all existence she could possibly have expected to catch her at this. As she stammered and blushed, quickly rethought her assessment of things, and tried to get hold of herself, Saitou glanced at the apartment and asked with a smirk, “And who are we spying on?”

The doctor, as was her talent, was swiftly recovering her presence of mind, and the amusing fact that Saitou didn’t even know where Sano lived, let alone… well, that helped. “Sanosuke,” she replied almost calmly, though the blush had certainly not gone. But her growing entertainment as the reality of the situation struck her more thoroughly added a whole new dimension to her reflections — especially as she saw Saitou, at her answer, throw another glance, seemingly inadvertent and much more interested, at the run-down building.

He gave a brief, disdainful laugh.

“I was going to check on his wound from the other day,” Megumi continued with composure, “but from what I’m hearing, he’s better than fine.”

At just that moment, as if in deliberate support of her statement, a rapturous groan burst out that must have been loud enough even for Saitou, not nearly as close to the door as Megumi was, to hear. His eyes narrowed as he took two steps forward, regarding the entrance, and he murmured darkly, “They should wait until they’re out of the doorway to do that.”

Megumi noticed he didn’t step back. By now completely in control of herself and thinking she comprehended well enough how things stood, she restrained a smile and said, “It isn’t a big room.”

Saitou shook his head and muttered, “Ahou.” He still did not step back.

Nodding, Megumi agreed gravely, “Yes; as a doctor, I cannot recommend strenuous sex so soon after an injury.”

She drew extreme satisfaction from the expression he could not quite keep off his face. All he said, though, in a slightly forced tone of sarcasm, was, “And therefore you feel vindicated listening at his door.”

“Of course,” replied she in the same serious manner. “I need to know what to prescribe when he hurts himself in there.”

“You must be an excellent doctor –” the sarcasm coming more naturally this time — “to determine that much just from listening to something like this.”

“Oh, I know exactly what he needs,” she said blandly.

Just then they were startled by a much longer, louder moan — almost a wail — from within. Megumi blushed again, and Saitou growled, apparently without even realizing he was saying it, “Who is he with in there?”

Megumi smiled wickedly. “Let’s find out,” she said, and, raising her hand once more to the door frame, knocked loudly.


This story, which I’ve rated , was for 30_kisses theme #26, “If only I could make you mine.”

This story is included in the Saitou & Sano Collection ebook (.zip file contains .pdf, .mobi, and .epub formats).


"Video Games"

Sano paused his game and pulled the buzzing cell phone from his pocket.

“Oh, good, I hoped you’d still be up,” was Kaoru’s greeting.

“Yep, just playing video games,” Sano confirmed, wedging the phone between ear and shoulder and resuming the aforementioned. “What’s up?”

“I just needed somebody to talk to. You don’t mind, do you?”

“‘Course not. Why would I?”

“Oh, I was just worried you might not be too excited just to chat with me when I kinda stole your best friend…”

“Aw, don’t worry about that… it’s pretty normal for a guy not to hang out with his friends so much after he gets married.” Well, Sano had been a little annoyed at first, but had eventually found other sources of entertainment. “So is everything OK?”

“Yeah…” She sounded hesitant, and Sano restrained his urge to chuckle as he speculated she had some kind of girly problem she wanted to discuss but he was her only acquaintance likely to be awake at one in the morning.

“Everything OK with Kenshin?” he prodded.

“Well…”

“C’mon, you called me,” he laughed; “don’t make me guess what you wanna say!”

She laughed a little too. “It’s silly, though.”

“Then I’ll definitely never guess it. C’mon, spit it out!”

“Well, I’m waiting for Kenshin to get back from his business trip. He had a late flight and then that long drive from the airport, so it’ll still be a while before he gets home.”

“So?”

She sighed. “He told me not to worry about waiting up for him because he’d be so late, but I’m doing it anyway.”

“The old anxious wife routine, huh?”

“Yeah, I thought people only did that in romance novels and country songs.”

Sano laughed again. “Nah, I figure that’s probably pretty normal too for someone who’s only been married a few months. It is cheesy, though.”

“I know… it’s not like I’m really afraid something’s going to happen to him… like his plane crashing or him getting robbed at gunpoint or something…”

“But you still mention ’em,” Sano chuckled; “way to be paranoid.”

“I know, I know,” she answered somewhat irritably.

“You should be worried about what happens if he accidentally drives through a time/space portal and ends up in, like, ancient Japan or something! Or what if aliens landed and he got tangled up in this big government conspiracy and had to disappear and change his name and shit?”

“Oh, great, thanks, now I’ve got more things to think about! But, seriously… when I’m worried not about anything real, just… worried… I come up with real things like car wrecks and robberies, kindof as an excuse for how I feel, even if I know they’re not really likely to happen.”

“Shit, girly, you got it bad! Good thing Kenshin’s job ain’t dangerous, or you’d have problems even when he just worked late! Maybe you should be reading romance novels instead of calling me.”

“Now, just a minute ago you said it’s normal!”

“I’m just giving you hell. You’re a perfect match for Kenshin, you know that?”

“I’m not sure how you figured that out just from this,” Kaoru replied, smile evident in her tone, “but thanks anyway. And thanks for listening to me.”

“No problem.”

“I should let you get back to your game.”

“I been playing this whole time! I’m skilled like that.” Actually he’d died twice. “But if you wanna go listen to some country music until Kenshin gets home…”

Kaoru laughed. “Now you’re never going to let me forget this, are you?”

“Probably not,” confirmed Sano.

“Well, I’ll talk to you later.”

“See ya.” Sano yawned and stretched, and, after glancing at the time, shoved his phone back into his pocket and returned the greater part of his attention to the TV screen.

After another half hour or so, there came the sound of a key turning in the door. Sano glanced up from his fictive destructive efforts with a smile, then went intently back to them. The door opened and in came Saitou. He locked up behind him, then stepped over to Sano and looked down. Glancing at his watch and back at the young man, he smirked, “You’re going to be even more useless than usual at work in the morning.”

“Oh, shit, I didn’t know it was that late!” Sano set his controller aside and crawled over to turn off the TV.

“And didn’t you already clear that level?” Saitou began to remove and put away his gear.

“Huh? Oh… I wanted to find a secret area I missed.”

Saitou rolled his eyes.

“So, how many shootouts did you get into today?”

“As many as usual.”

“Knife fights? Djyou get to break up any of those?”

“I barely made a single arrest, actually.”

“What kept you so late, then?” wondered Sano in surprise that hid his relief rather efficiently.

“Paperwork.”

“Oh, your favorite thing!” Sano beamed.

Saitou, closing the closet door on his bullet-proof jacket and other accouterments, moved to seize the young man and kiss him. “Bedtime for little boys,” he said when that was finished.

“Yeah,” said Sano, sounding neither regretful nor penitent as he accompanied his lover into the next room; “I can’t believe I lost track of time like that…”


*__* Check out the awesome fanart Avek did for this story:

I’ve rated this story .

This story is included in the Saitou & Sano Collection ebook (.zip file contains .pdf, .mobi, and .epub formats).


No More Pretending

It wasn’t that he wouldn’t come back at all. It was just that he wouldn’t come back her Horohoro.

Pirika knows that her close relationship with her brother can’t last or become what she wants it to be.


The brush snagged, and she yanked it down with a barely-restrained growl that might have been anger at the occurrence, might have been pain occasioned by her violence, and might have been… something else. She glared at the tool and the tangled strands of blue that had come away with it, then tossed it onto the counter and left the bathroom in a huff.

He often brushed her hair. Granted, he wasn’t very good at it — there was a reason he kept his own so short — but it was a gesture that was never lost on her. He would put one hand on her shoulder and brush away with vigor, chattering all the while about what he was going to do that day or the dreams he’d had while they’d slept; her eyes would be locked on his in the mirror, and she would smile.

And that was all she wanted! To keep him beside her, against her, to stay close to him, to know she was first in his thoughts. Was that too much to ask?

But how long would a boy brush his sister’s hair, really? How many years? They were getting so old — he was almost seventeen already! — and eventually, no matter how much she did for him, he was going to realize that she was just his sister. Could never be anything else to him. That he could be brushing anyone’s hair, holding anyone in his arms at night, and that someone who wasn’t blood would probably be more appropriate for that purpose anyway.

The awareness of this inevitable realization was something she tried to ignore, and often managed to, but then it would creep up on her in the dark — those evenings when he could sleep and she could not — and she would fight it off by pressing herself against him, laying a hand on his bare chest to feel his heartbeat, putting her face to his shoulder, and pretending… pretending this was how they would always be.

There was no possible way she could do that now. No more pretending. For one thing, they’d slept in separate beds for the first time she could remember. As she sat on the one and stared at the other through a filter of tears, she wondered how anyone could ever sleep alone. Cold hotel beds and brushing her hair alone in a tiny hotel bathroom, she thought, must always be a symbol of growing apart, of loss, of hatred.

Because, for another thing, he was gone to America, and he would never come back.

No, it wasn’t that she thought he was likely to be killed or defeated. It was just that he had left behind his primary protector against those who might… distract him. It wasn’t that he wouldn’t come back at all. It was just that he wouldn’t come back her Horohoro.

She’d never thought that they would be separated during the course of the fights. Why should they be? Not like this, at any rate. But, having chosen to remain a shaman trainer rather than become a shaman herself — having opted to support him with her entire being rather than pursue her own course — she had unconsciously driven in the wedge that would eventually tear them apart. And she could not protect him now, could not keep his eyes from straying.

There had always been people who looked at him the same way she did. People he looked at the same way. He never realized it, of course, and it had never caused any trouble before — because she’d always been there to keep him on track, keep him where he belonged. But now… now there was a wide ocean, two hotel beds, and a pair of headphones between them. And nothing she could do about it. Not even pretend that what she’d already seen hadn’t happened, or that what she foresaw wasn’t going to happen.

Pirika was not blind.

There was more than one reason she hated Asakura Yoh.


Though I don’t get a similar vibe in the manga, I was just enchanted by a couple of scenes with Pirika and Horohoro in the anime — when they were cuddling in bed, and when he pictured her naked to motivate himself during a particular battle — and immediately determined there must be incest going on or at least contemplated.

I’m a little unclear on how old everyone is at different points in canon. My guess in this piece with the statement that Horohoro is almost seventeen when he leaves for America is based on the fact that at one point in the manga during the Shaman Fight, Amidamaru remarks that it’s been something like three years since he first met Yoh.

Anyway. This is a nearly pointless fic, though there is a follow-up from Horohoro.

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



Autosite

“What’s with that look?” Sano wondered as he slid into the booth across from the scowling man and immediately stole his nearly expended cigarette.

Used to this, Saitou snatched it back before Sano could take more than half a drag, and asked in reply, “Are you aware of how fast you came into the parking lot?”

“Yeah, so?”

“I can give traffic tickets, you know.”

“You would, too, wouldn’t you? You live to make my life difficult.”

“Is it really that difficult to follow the speed limit?”

“Yeah, it is! It’s fucking frustrating! People get all up on your bumper like ‘Hurry the fuck up!’ and then they roar past you and’re gone.”

Saitou smirked. “And then you turn on your lights and siren and watch them twitch because they didn’t know you’re a cop.”

Sano gave him the finger and in the same movement snagged the new cigarette Saitou had just lit. “Yeah, I bet you do enjoy that,” he said, trying to keep the stolen item away from the officer and smoke it at the same time, and failing at both. “But some of us aren’t cops, in case you forgot.”

“So ride with me.”

“You better be careful what you’re offering, pig! Your car’s a lot nicer than mine; I might never wanna drive myself anywhere again.”

“You’d better be careful what you’re calling me, idiot, or I might retract the offer.” The cigarette dodged Sano’s pursuing fingers as it made its way back from the ash tray to the officer’s mouth. “I’ve seen the kind of trash can you make your car into, after all, and you’re not doing that to mine.”

“I could probably not throw shit on the floor…” Leaning back and putting his hands behind his head — mostly in order to look innocent — Sano finished with a grin, “if I got to choose the radio station.”

“And make me suffer that senseless noise you call music?” Saitou sniffed.

“Well, I guess we could throw in some of that whiny ‘classic rock’ shit you like sometimes too,” the younger man shrugged, “when I’m feeling nice.”

“I’m not a chauffeur. You’ll have to wash the car every week, and taking it through a cheap car wash won’t do. It’ll need waxing, too.”

“Fine, but I ain’t pumping gas; I hate the way that shit smells.”

“I wouldn’t trust you with it anyway.”

“Hey, how do you think I get around now?!”

“I don’t like to think about that.”

“But you’ll really pull people over so I can laugh at ’em?”

“Remember who you’re talking to.”

Sano grinned broadly. “I could handle not speeding forever, in that case.”

“Good,” said the cop with a smirk.

At an unexpected darting movement from Sano, the cigarette changed hands again. This time, though, the contented Saitou just brought out another one and lit it, trying to trace the conversation back to the exact moment it had stopped having anything to do with driving.


An autosite is the opposite of a parasite, and, though I can only find that the term is ever actually used in reference to conjoined twins, I didn’t think it was too much of a stretch to use it here and get a good play on words out of it at the same time. I’ve rated this story .

This story is included in the Saitou & Sano Collection ebook (.zip file contains .pdf, .mobi, and .epub formats).


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 .

This story is included in the Saitou & Sano Collection ebook (.zip file contains .pdf, .mobi, and .epub formats).


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.



Geez, what a sad story. It’s like the end of He Can Be Taught went horribly wrong. I wrote it because imillien beat me at the Quote-Guessy Game and requested “Sano in relationship with Saitou but not necessary in love with him. Like sometimes we are with people we know are good for us and we respect them but not always in love with them.” I’ve rated this fic .

This story is included in the Saitou & Sano Collection ebook (.zip file contains .pdf, .mobi, and .epub formats).


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.

I’ve rated this story .

This story is included in the Saitou & Sano Collection ebook (.zip file contains .pdf, .mobi, and .epub formats).