Genre: Humour / Slice-of-life
Characters: Hijikata Toushirou, Sakata Gintoki, Kagura, Yamazaki Sagaru
Pairing: Gintoki/Hijikata, if you squint
Disclaimer: Sorachi owns. I only play. You do not sue.
Length: 1500 words
Summary: Hungover Hijikata has valid questions.
Beta: None. u_u
Concrit: Always welcome and appreciated.
Hijikata woke with his face mashed into a foreign-smelling pillow and his lower body twisted sideways inside an oven.
Oven? No, normal people didn't sleep in ovens, and Hijikata certainly did not sleep in ovens, so he had to be under a kotatsu.
Why am I under a kotatsu? I don't even have one.
Something bumped his shin, eliciting the logical but disquieting conclusion that he was not alone under the kotatsu. Then something else bumped his foot. He had not slept under a kotatsu in a very long time, but he had not yet forgotten the fierce space negotiations that had to happen when more than one person wished to use a regular-sized kotatsu.
Even if I am under a kotatsu, why am I not alone? Where the hell am I?
He vaguely remembered accompanying Kondou-san to a drinking party in Kabukichou -- laughter, loud music, stumbling to a vending machine for some cigarettes, arguing about the Joui war with someone very annoying at an oden stand, arm-wrestling atop a kotatsu... Probably the very same kotatsu he was under right now. Details were a blurry nothing, and Hijikata's head hurt like a motherfucker.
"Gin-chan, the weather report!" cried a young girl, and a fierce kick to Hijikata's shin made his eyes water.
Despite the pain, Hijikata managed to stay still. That China girl's voice: Kagura. And Gin? He was at the Yorozuya place.
"Where the hell is the remote?" Gintoki's voice, querulous.
"Sadaharu, fetch the remote," Kagura said. The floor shook under what Hijikata presumed were the footfalls of her gigantic white dog, and then the weather report jingle floated through the room.
"Now where's my toothbrush?" Gintoki muttered. "No, don't fetch that, Sadaharu, I don't want your dog drool on my toothbrush--"
The weather girl began to natter on about how it was going to be a sunny day full of wind and rain, as usual, and Hijikata tuned her out, wondering how the fuck he was going to get out of here without the stupid duo noticing he was ever here.
"Here it comes, here it comes," Gintoki said, and the weather girl's voice got louder.
"If it's your birthday today, your lucky number is eleven! Scorpio owners of giant white dogs, beware of toasters."
"Feh, I'm not a Scorpio," Gintoki complained, and something pushed against Hijikata's foot, followed by a brief frisson of cooler air. Hijikata stretched his legs out slowly; much better than being crumpled up.
"I'm a Scorpio," Kagura replied. "Gin-chan, do you think this means there will be a flying toaster attack after all?"
"We've talked about this, Kagura-chan; flying toasters aren't real."
"But if I have to beware toasters, then you should fix breakfast because I can't go in the kitchen, where the toaster is."
"We don't even have a toaster, what's wrong with your head?"
"Shinpachi isn't coming today, so you should make lunch too," Kagura continued as if Gintoki hadn't spoken.
"Hey, Mr Policeman, how long are you going to pretend you're asleep?" Gintoki asked. "Don't you want any breakfast?"
Hijikata composed his face into a mask of complete disregard for his somewhat compromising position and flipped his pillow over to hide the drool-spot. He sat up and found Kagura seated to his left and Gintoki standing by the TV, scratching his butt.
"What the hell am I doing here?" Hijikata asked.
The girl regarded him with something like pity. "Oh, don't you remember?"
"Well, that's a shame," Gintoki muttered, and something about his facial expression made Hijikata's stomach feel slightly queasy. Probably just the hangover.
"My mommy always said that people who pretend they don't remember things the morning after are the worst," Kagura opined, reaching for the bowl of tangerines.
Gintoki rolled his eyes. "Your mother's had a real hard life, hasn't she?"
"Gin-chan, that line isn't even funny any more."
"Well excuse me, it's not like we're on air."
Kagura threw a tangerine section in the air and caught it between her teeth. "What if the anime got cancelled because your jokes got old? You're the main character, take responsibility."
"I don't want to hear that from a brat like you! Besides, the anime is just on a break."
Hijikata wasn't sure if he was pleased or irritated at being completely ignored, and besides, he needed to take a leak anyway. "Where's your bathroom?" he asked, addressing no one in particular.
Kagura gave him a look full of disdain. "You don't even remember that much? Gin-chan, this guy will make a terrible boyfriend, you should just dump him."
Gintoki appeared to pretend not to hear her, for which Hijikata was duly grateful. "It's out in the front hall, but don't you dare take a dump. We're low on toilet paper."
Kagura reached for another tangerine. "You forgot to buy it again? The time sale for toilet paper isn't until Tuesday, you know."
"It's not my fault somebody spent all the grocery money on sukonbu last week," Gintoki shot back.
Hijikata got to his feet and made his way to the toilet. After taking care of business, he scrubbed his face with cold water, listening to the two of them bicker indistinctly in the next room, trying to remember the last time he'd been around such carefree people in the morning. He was also doing his very best to ignore what Kagura had just implied.
The kotatsu's heat had already dissipated from his legs, and Hijikata was halfway across the hall to get back under it when he remembered he wasn't at home and that he needed to get back to Shinsengumi headquarters. Besides, it wasn't like he was interested in the company of those two; it had just been so warm under the kotatsu.
He found his overcoat hanging from a peg on the wall and smelling like it had been soaked in really cheap booze -- which it probably had been, considering Hijikata's physical and mental states. As he picked up his shoes, Gintoki walked out into the hallway, tying an apron around his waist. "Sneaking off already?"
"I'm not sneaking," Hijikata said, jamming his foot into the wrong shoe and cursing under his breath.
Gintoki crossed his arms with an unbearably annoying superior look on his face. "So you were going to tell us you were leaving?"
"Sorry to have intruded," Hijikata mumbled, avoiding Gintoki's eyes.
"What happened, Gin-chan?" Kagura called. "Did Hijikata drown in the toilet? More importantly, where's my food?"
Gintoki made no reply, and Hijikata glanced up at him only to find that disquieting dead-fish stare, the kind that made you feel eight thousand times smaller. He stared back, wondering if he should ask about the boyfriend thing, if only to be polite. He was certainly not going to acknowledge anything he didn't remember. Besides, fuck being polite to the likes of this guy.
Gintoki blinked first. "I'd ask you to stay for breakfast, but you wouldn't even if I did, would you?"
Hijikata regarded him with a frown. "Why are you trying to be nice to me? What did we-- you-- do? Why did China say--"
"You need to take it easy more, Oogushi-kun," Gintoki interrupted him. "Not everyone has an ulterior motive, you know."
Hijikata snorted. "I'll believe that about anyone except you guys. See ya."
He walked out into February air and hurried down the stairs, tugging his overcoat tighter around himself. He flagged an off-duty patrol car a little ways down the street and was back in his quarters and in his uniform well before the breakfast bell. No one had noticed that he hadn't spent the night at Headquarters, and that was a relief. If Sougo found out where he'd been, soon the entire Shinsengumi would think God knew what about Hijikata's private life. Not that anything at all was happening in said private life.
As he read through the day's agenda over breakfast, it occurred to him that he couldn't remember the last time he had eaten breakfast not at a long mess hall table but in a family-like atmosphere. Not since he'd followed Kondou-san to Edo, probably. Those days had seemed ever fainter to him since Mitsuba had died. Stop it, you moron, he told himself. You're not seriously regretting not having breakfast at the Yorozuya.
An hour later, he was in his office finishing the rewrite of one of the Commander's chicken-scratched reports in preparation for the shogunate auditor's visit. Through the walls, he heard the men drilling in the practice yard. He didn't know what they were drilling, but they sure were noisy.
"Yamazaki!" he yelled in the general direction of the window.
There was a yelp, a sound suspiciously like a badminton racket hitting the ground, and then the door slid open, admitting a dishevelled and bright-eyed Yamazaki.
"What are you so excited about?" Hijikata demanded, narrowing his eyes.
"Kazumoto was just telling me flying toasters have invaded Kabukichou, sir."
Scorpios with giant dogs, beware of toasters. "Who's checking it out?"
"Captain Okita, sir."
Hijikata's headache returned without warning. If Kagura told Sougo about Hijikata sleeping over... "I'd better head out there. Take this to the Commander for a signature," he said, handing over the corrected report. "Oh, and Yamazaki?"
"Requisition me a kotatsu."