Silly and Pointlessly Difficult

After work, Saitou found Sano had taught himself how to leap up and perch on the top of the tallest vertical slat of the bridge near home, standing still high up like a long-leggèd crane or posturing ninja. He looked absurd, his gi and bandanna flapping in the evening breeze. But he jumped down, as Saitou began to cross, with a satisfied grin.

Of course Saitou must mock him for devoting so much time and effort to so silly and pointlessly difficult an undertaking, but even as he did, he realized the exercise was not only one of balance, which could benefit future combat, but it let Sano catch sight sooner, from that elevated situ, of Saitou’s figure coming t’ward him and the house they shared as of late through the growing dusk. It seemed meaningless, but the superficial hid unexpected depth.

Such too was Sano: an exterior often foolish and aimless screening intentions and a depth of character admirable and even delightful. This unexpected treasure in mind, somewhat to the bemusement of that same young man so complex and yet so simple, Saitou took his hand as they walked along, and said, “I love you, ahou.”


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Constructive Nostalgia

— with that piece of junk? — I found it at my folks’ house while I was there; trashy-looking, ain’t it? — Why are you recording? — I used to spend hours recording stupid shit on this thing! — I have no doubt you did — It was awesome! I’d pretend to be a DJ introducing a song, and then record some random thing off the radio… or I’d make up my own song and sing it as loud as I could and bang on random stuff for drums. Or I’d fill a whole side of the tape seeing how loud I could belch, and then laugh my ass off at it and… hey, quit rolling your eyes, bastard! I was a little kid! — You’re very entertained by something you admit to be childish — Well, normal people enjoy laughing at shit they did when they were kids. You can’t tell me you didn’t do any stupid stuff when you were little — I certainly never belched on tape — But you did something. Don’t even try to tell me you sat around reading cop handbooks when you were ten — I read Tom Clancy — You did not — I did — Not when you were little! — I read The Hunt for Red October when it first came out — OK, fine. But that wasn’t all you did when you were a kid. Come on, what kinds of games did you play? — Why is this important? — Because you made fun of mine — We played Capture the Flag — ‘We?’ — The other kids in the neighborhood and I. We played it obsessively. Almost every day after school, and all weekend, until I got into paintball as a teenager — Hah! I’m not surprised. I bet you guys snuck out at night so you could play in the dark — Yes — And wore camo and face-paint! — Yes — Heh heh — You never did explain why you’re recording — Oh, yeah. I just wanna make sure it still works. I figure if I liked it as a kid, your kids might like it too — Oh, yes, please pass your immaturity on to my children — If you were really worried about that, you wouldn’t live with me — Hmph — Hey, at least I ain’t teaching ’em to defy authority. I never snuck out at night — Idiot, do you expect me to believe that? When do you ever respect authority? — Depends on what it’s telling me to do — Come over here — Yes, sir! — Turn that thing off first, moron. I don’t want our —


This story is for 30_kisses theme #14 “Radio-cassette player.” Unusual formatting, but I think it’s pretty cute. I envision it as taking place in the same continuity as Fourteen Strange Looks.

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It’s Enough



He hears his own voice, rough and harsh in the burning air, unexpected even to himself: “Shinomori, take him.” He doesn’t have time for surprise at the lucidity, in enunciation and purpose, of the command. His arms are freed of the weight they bore even as he starts to move.

Suddenly there are other voices crying out, telling him… something… but he barely hears. There’s no room for anything in his mind but that absolute necessity to get across, to get to him. He’s running, raging forward with burning legs and lungs until he can push off the jagged edge.

He’s flying, the flames licking at his feet, in his heart no doubt he can make this distance. Then he hits, grunts with pain, spatters blood over the chaotic stone as he half-crumples, and staggers forward.

He’s caught before his unsteady inadvertent steps can fail entirely. He’s shaken, and that means he’s shaken.

“Ahou! What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

He clings to him, and Saitou does not disengage. “Bastard! Do you really think I’m gonna let you die without me?!”

“You absolute idiot.” It’s an intense, bitter, adoring expostulation as Saitou crushes him in his arms.

He shakes his head at Shinomori, and the sight of the Okashira fleeing through the shattered door with his red-headed burden is the last they see.

For, as they pull each other close for the first and final time, the world fades around them — the heat of the fires, the choking atmosphere, the memory of horror… even the pain occasioned by their contact… it all dissolves.

It’s the perfect mixture of hopelessness and contentment for escaping reality. The task is complete, freeing them from the need for further action except to save their lives… which, by now, seems impossible — and why bother, when the disaster has brought about the concession they might never otherwise have made?

All is calm as eyes close and lips meet — indeed, it’s a placidity they would probably never otherwise attain — and they simply concentrate on what they can only wish they had adequate time for. It isn’t a fantasy, denying what’s happening around them. It isn’t a speculative dream, dwelling on what might have been. Simply admitting what they’ve been reluctant to confess until now…

That there is no pain in this, because they are together…

That they can let go in each other’s arms…

It’s enough.


Back in 2006, I wrote this with the intention of its being the narration for a comic. At the time, I actually started drawing the comic, and I’m sure some of that crappy art is still kicking around somewhere. Of course I never got farther than a tiny, tiny bit of the way done with it and then stopped, because comics and I rarely get along. Then this sat in my Saitou and Sano folder for seven years unposted because I assumed it wouldn’t make sense on its own. Eventually I read it again and went, What? Yes, it would! So here it is.

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Do It Yourself


He wasn’t much surprised that Sagara had absolutely no shame, but he would have expected a former hitokiri to be a little less of an exhibitionist. But ever since those two had admitted their long-repressed feelings for each other (or whatever the case was; Saitou didn’t care enough to pursue), they’d been doing things all over the place regardless of the time of day. Saitou could swear that a shift didn’t go by without his coming across them in some absurd location — bushes or recessed doorways or even mostly unconcealed as long as the street was empty — while he was on patrol.

The truly sad thing was that the rurouni didn’t seem to know what he was doing. Sad, but not particularly shocking: Himura was about the last person in the world Saitou would expect to know how to get the optimal reaction out of a fresh young man. This wasn’t something that would normally occupy the officer’s mind for more than half a derisive minute, but due to the aforementioned exhibitionism, the issue intruded on his consciousness with irritating regularity. One of these times he was going to arrest just Himura and claim it was on charges of being bad at sex.

But much as he would have loved to see their responses to that, he didn’t think it would actually solve the problem. Of course it wasn’t his problem to solve, but half-hearted moans from someone normally as loud and passionate as that boy were almost incitingly irksome.

So that was probably why he found himself at the idiot’s door one evening after having overhead a particularly unenthusiastic-sounding sexual encounter earlier that day. Disliking Himura or liking Sagara really didn’t have much to do with it. Rather, he wasn’t fond of waste, and had always held with that tried and true maxim, If you want something done right…



I love this story because, while it’s almost the shortest piece here, it manages to raise so many amusing questions and ideas. Is Saitou obsessive-compulsive or what, to do something like that with disliking waste and wanting things done right as his only motive(s)? Or maybe he’s in denial and he really does like Sano. And is Sano actually with Kenshin because he likes him, or to get Saitou’s attention in just that way? If the latter, is Kenshin in on the plot or is he being used?

Whatever the case, I’d love to see how Sano will act when he realizes it’s Saitou at his door and exactly what he’s there for. And I can totally picture the brusque way Saitou’s likely to handle the situation. All this extraneous story is what makes a vignette a vignette, of course, and therefore I am rather pleased with myself for this one. I’ve rated it . What do you think of it?

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Breakfast in Bed

“Sano. Sano, wake up.”

“Hmmphnn.”

“Sano!”

“Gthphkawaytstooearly.”

“Sano, wake up now.”

“Rightallrightall right, stop poking me, I’m awake. Shit, man, the sun’s not even up — how can you be?”

“Why do you have to sleep in such absurdly sexual-looking positions?”

“Maybe because I just got done having sex with you four or five times, what, three hours ago? Izzat what you woke me up to say?”

“I’m saying that this is your fault and I cannot be late for work today.”

“Well, what do you expect me to do about it?”

“What do you think, idiot?”

“How much you gonna pay me for it?”

“Don’t talk like a whore.”

“It doesn’t have to be money.”

“I don’t have time for this.”

“Well, if you don’t want my services, I’ll go back to sleep.”

“Fine, then. I’ll do it myself.”

“Yeah, too bad that’ll take you three times as long.”

“Arguing with you will take four.”

“Well, whatever. Good night. Have fun going into work like that or being late.”

“All right, you idiot, what do you want?”

“Just for you to agree to something.”

“Agree to what?”

“You have to do whatever I want when you get home.”

“And that will be…?”

“I’ll tell you after.”

“Why?”

“Because you won’t like it. Now get over here. Damned horny earlybird cops and their stupimmnnnnm…”

“Sano…”

“Mm?”

“Sano, I love you.”

“Mm-hmm?”

“I love you.”

“Mmm.”

“I love you.”

“Mmmmm.”

“I… uhnnhh…”

“Mmm, well, it’s nice to hear you actually tell me that for once, but don’t think it gets you off the hook for tonight.”

“What do you want?”

“I’ll tell you when you get home. Wouldn’t want it distracting you during your important investigations.”

“Sano–”

“Better get going.”

“Sano!”

“You’re gonna be late!”

“Hn. Fine. Goodbye.”

“Bye! . . . Shit, three I love you‘s! Heh… He musta thought I had something fucking awful planned for him! I’ma have to come up with something really evil to live up to that! Good thing I got all day to think of it…”



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Greedy

It wasn’t enough, was it, that I admitted you’d been of some use, despite what I’d thought that made it quite a concession to say you weren’t entirely worthless? No, you demanded I respect you on top of that. Outright respect! From me!

It wasn’t enough that I admired you, was it, acknowledged to myself disinterestedly how beautiful you were? Of course not. You insisted I actually lust after you as well. Objective appreciation just wasn’t sufficient; for you it had to be this distracting physical attraction.

It wouldn’t, naturally, be enough that your loud and obnoxious presence dominated my attention whenever you were around. No, you required that I obsess over you even when you were gone. You had to have some part in every second of my contemplation.

It couldn’t be enough that I gave up my peace of mind, my tranquility, my solitude, to be with you, could it? Then you demanded I give up my unhappiness too. Change my entire way of life and the feelings of each moment solely for you!

And now I’m sure it isn’t enough that I lie here with you in my arms having thoughts like these totally inconsistent with my character. You’re going to insist I say it aloud in no uncertain terms, aren’t you? Compromise my dignity as always by making some kind of silly statement like…

“I love you.”

“Tell me how much.”

Hn. Greedy boy.

What am I going to do with you?


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Saitou’s Secret Fetish


Two men in a slightly darkened room.

An air between them of surprise, tension, secrecy.

A worried tone.

“You swear you won’t tell anyone?”

A look.

“I swear.”

The shaking-out of folded garments; the rustle of fine cloth.

A floral pattern, sparkling gold stitching. Crimson and gilt.

Eyes widen. Disbelief that he’s actually going to put that thing on.

“It’s pretty, isn’t it?”

A dumbfounded nod.

The black yukata goes before, the sable obi and golden sash after.

A box is opened by precise gloved hands; one of the men gapes. “You’re not seriously…”

A silencing look.

Cool white cream smooths over warm skin, hiding all natural coloring.

A whisper. “‘Jime, I can’t believe you’re actually doing this.”

Rouge.

A young man by now very much discomfited. “I had no idea you were into this kind of stuff.”

A black pencil around already-dark eyes.

“I mean, you of all people…”

A harsh look, a remembered agreement.

A sweep of gemlike scarlet across puckered lips.

Finished.

A mirror held up in satisfied gloved hands.

A tori-atama actually trembling. “I don’t believe what I’m seeing.”

An amused reply. “You look lovely; besides, you agreed to it, in exchange for–”

“Yeah, yeah, I know… but when do I get to wash this crap off?”

“After we’re done.”

A licentious look. “Fine. But is this what I gotta let you do to me every time I wanna top you?”


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Just Ten More Minutes

…these last minutes seemed to drag by like the long years of eternity.

A young woman is unbearably impatient.


Just ten more minutes.

It was such a hot, beautiful day. Waiting was hot, but waiting was not beautiful. At least there were only ten more minutes, which was something to be able to say after the many days and hours. Still, these last minutes seemed to drag by like the long years of eternity. She drummed her fingers nervously, pressing her ear to the ground to catch the vibrations as each fingertip made contact with floor so close beside her face. Ten… more… minutes…

Araki had been so excited to go to the fair — begged and begged for days when the news of its coming had hit town. Had, in fact, begged too much.

Nobody liked her now.

She was so impatient to get going, she almost screamed. Seven minutes left.

And what a fair! The guards were out in force, naturally, so there was no loitering. Everyone who was not buying and selling was just staring. Araki had been so eager to see it all.

She wanted to be the one staring. She would be staring soon. Five more minutes. Bubbling with joy at the thought, she grinned and looked around impatiently, ceasing her nervous drumming for just a bit. Then she sighed.

The endless begging really had been too much, hadn’t it?

She had crossed the line from aggravating to being seriously in the wrong. Still, there was no reason to feel this guilty, right? Everyone had wanted to kill Araki after about an hour’s complaining that chores too look long and they should leave for the fair now.

Everyone had wanted to kill Araki. Some of them, their patience worn out with the endless talk, talk, talk about the fair, had even threatened to.

What reason could they have to wish her dead?

Maybe they felt differently now, she reflected as she lay, silent and impatient. Two minutes.

She turned to gaze up at the ceiling. She couldn’t help the increasing pace of her heart as she counted down the last seconds. The huge clock, out there in the town square where the fair was taking place, began the lesser chimes. Her ears strained as the last seconds ding-donged away, strained and hungered for the eventual twelve notes — she couldn’t remember whether the strike of the hour was the highest or the lowest tone the clock possessed. Twelve, eleven, ten — ah, it was the lowest! — six, five, four — ah, high noon! The reverberations of the deep tolling faded. Finally! Finally! Finally!

The hooded guards arrived on cue. “Any last words?” one of them asked.

She shrugged. “It was Araki’s fault,” she said, briskly stepping out between them. “If he hadn’t begged and complained so much, I wouldn’t have killed him.”


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