This is such a random post.. but I felt like sharing one of the fan fiction I enjoyed from the first time I got on this fandom and some stories have gone as some of the authors have deactivated their accounts..
"What then is your duty? What the day demands." - Johann Goethe
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And so he'd attempted to draw his reticent friend out as best he could, clumsy and awkward in trying to manuever the conversation around someone he'd never lied to, never misled...except where his health was involved. But it was all right. Saitou didn't know. Saitou didn't need to know. Kondou-san had suggested, and Hijikata-san and he himself had immediately agreed, that the tuberculosis that had taken a dangerous turn for the worst after yesterday's battle and freezing night should be kept a close secret. The Captain of the First Troop was respected and admired by the entirety of the Shinsengumi. Word of his impending death would be dangerous to morale, and they could afford no weaknesses or distractions.
But there was something that he wanted to communicate, still, apart from the death and dying. Not anything that he could put into words, or even describe clearly to himself...but it was something he wanted to share. His Captain and Vice-Captain shared now in the knowledge of his death. He wanted someone to know of his dreams for life.
The idea of a future had for some time now been redefined for him. Before, it was a vague idea...now, it was an impossible vision. The physician he'd seen had predicted that Okita's remaining winters could be counted on one hand. And just like that, suddenly snow and ice had seemed achingly beautiful. He looked forward to watching the thick, feathery flakes come down, but also dreaded them in some secret part of his soul...because each new season was one less he had to look forward to.
Having fallen silent for some time now, Okita wondered how to begin the conversation anew. And what words could possibly serve him in trying to pass this nebulous idea on to his friend? There was a concept he wanted Saitou to understand, without understanding the facts that drove it. He knew that he was able to read the man far better than anyone else...better than Saitou sometimes knew. Okita turned his face back towards the other man and wondered wistfully if the reverse was the same.
Amber eyes glanced over at him while he was peering thoughtfully upwards, and then Saitou repeated his own question of a few minutes ago back at him. "So, what chased you out of sleep this morning?"
In any other instance, the appearance of mind-reading capabilities in his friend would have amused him, but memories of the conversation that had kept him from sleeping at all were still too fresh and forceful to leave room for lighthearted humor. However, the question did provide a nearly perfect opening.
"I was doing some useless thinking," he replied, making light mockery of Saitou's sensible, logical, and utterly unimaginative answer from before. Without waiting for any further prompting, which he wasn't sure would come, Okita explained, "I was imagining how I would order my life, if I had the ability to choose."
Gripping the railing of the wooden bridge, Okita said firmly, "I want to win this battle. Soon. Wipe out every single revolutionary and then put away my Shinsengumi haori forever."
Saitou raised an eyebrow at this last statement, and his companion replied to the dubious expression immediately.
"Do you really want to spend the rest of your life killing people?" Okita asked, his tone of voice protesting the very idea. "There are those who don't feel complete without their katana in their hand, but I am not one of them. I want a life beyond this one. I want to be able to walk down the street without having to wonder if every single person I pass is on our side or not. I want to go back to my room one night and not need to clean blood off of my katana."
As if to push the bloody visions away, Okita turned to painting a picture of the life he dreamt of instead, his voice softening as he spoke. "I want to go back to the Shieikan and resume my duties as a shihandai...to teach all those young boys the ways of Tennen Rishin Ryu, so that they can defend themselves and fight for the life they want to live. I want to find a wife...the mother of my children..." Okita's lips curved in a tender smile, as if he saw before him not a river turned bright gold with the rising sun, but a cluster of small children tumbling over each other in play. "Beautiful little girls to raise into charming young women...sturdy little boys that I can pass on my skills to and hope that they won't need to use them."
He paused for a moment, and then looked down into the water that flowed lazily below them. "I want to come back to this bridge in the winter and watch the ice form and break and form again. And in the spring I want to stand in a grove of cherry trees and let the wind create a snowstorm around me. I'll build a small pond for koi and let the sight cool the heat of summer...and have maple trees around my house that will turn the place into a bonfire every autumn." Suddenly, his face took on a darker determination, as if the pleasant visions he were weaving had suddenly taken on the weight of a burden or solemn duty. "I'll tell my wife she's beautiful and spoil my daughters shamelessly. And I'll visit the graves of my friends...bring my sons with me and have them help me arrange the chrysanthemums and ivy...and tell them what truth and loyalty really mean."
One hand slipped from the railing and Okita turned to face his friend. "That's a life, Hajime." He saw a flicker of surprise in Saitou's eyes at the use of his first name. Best friends they might be, but they hardly ever fell into such casualness, since formality and politeness were part and particle of them both. But Okita wanted to make certain that he had the man's attention, and that he drove his point home as well as he could.
He spoke no further and looked at the other man expectantly. After a long moment of simply watching each other, Saitou let out a brief breath that was almost a sigh and said, "That's the life you wish for yourself. Why tell me all of that?"
Okita pressed his lips together for a moment and then said, "Because I want you to understand it. 'Aku, soku, zan' will guide you for the rest of your days, and defines who you are more than anything, but it's not what makes a life. I want you to know that...to see all those things that don't exist, but are real and true and good all the same. Look forward to spring. Get married. Have a son to train in your ways. Visit a grave...and think back, and look forward. Live."
Okita stressed that last word and made it a demand...insistent and commanding. Live. Live your life. Enjoy the seasons that I'll never see. Have the sons that I'll never raise. Visit my grave. Remember me. He practically glared at his friend, searching those golden eyes intently for a reaction.
Saitou stared back, trying to keep his unsettling thoughts from reflecting in his expression. There was a part of him that knew now, with a cold, sinking feeling, that his best friend was dying. Why else would he be pressing his dreams upon his friend, unless as a legacy? The only will that he would ever write, passed on so that he could face his death with serenity, knowing that the future that had been taken from him would not die along with him.
But he looked upon that sickening knowing with the same angry disdain as he'd felt for his morbid fancies and the persistent unease that clung to him hours after his nightmare had ended. He shook away the haunting memories of that late night coughing and the visions of bright blood falling from his friend's mouth and filled his eyes instead with the reality that stood in front of him. The reality of Okita standing up straight and strong and absolutely vibrant with this strange intensity in his eyes as he searched Saitou's expression.
Refusing to support his pessimistic suspicions by taking Okita's rather sentimental speeches too seriously, Saitou snorted lightly and replied, "You think too much, Soushi." His use of his friend's given name was not of the same tone as Okita had used, one claiming the intimacy of a tried and true friendship. Instead, he used it as an additional means to dismiss the persistent foreboding that refused to quiet down within himself.
He watched Okita's eyes widen, and he wondered briefly whether his friend was shocked at Saitou's flippant reply, or at being called Soushi instead of Okita-kun, as usual. But then Okita suddenly shook his head, laughing in a slightly pained, very resigned manner, as a parent does at an impossible yet adorable child. The laughter died down after a minute or two, and after a few calming breaths, Okita said in an almost fatherly manner, "Hajime."
"What?" the older man asked rather flatly, wondering what odd thing his friend would say next.
A smile marring the serious, grave look on his face, Okita said, "Just...nod, all right? And tell me that you understand, and that you'll remember what I said."
With a short sigh, Saitou complied. He nodded once, very deliberately, and then promised, "I understand, and I'll remember what you said." And he would...the upset, fearful part of him that wondered what the Shinsengumi would be like without his best friend would never let him forget.
Satisfied, Okita gave him a much brighter, more familiar smile and said simply, "Thank you." Then, with a quick glance at the fully risen sun, he added, "We'd best head back to the inn. Another day has started."