Disclaimer: Rurouni Kenshin is the property of...wassis face. I'm so fucking bad with names.
Funny how you can still hear sails even when there are no boats to be seen anywhere.
The wind screams angrily as it battles against the water battling against the black outcropping of jutting stones they're balancing precariously on. Hiko turns to the man who stands behind him just a little more than an armswidth away with his back straight, cigarette dangling from thin lips, impossible cheekbones slashing across his pale face. Saitou. So beautiful it makes Hiko's eyes hurt to look at him.
"Let's try this again." Hiko flashes a broad grin, jaunty toss of hair. He can smell, nearly taste the bitter smoke that escapes parted lips, a lazy cloud seeping out like some demonic death mist. Like the other man is some strange otherwordly creature that has chosen to momentarily grace this realm with his dangerously feral presence. Arrived in silence to wreak messy havok onto the denizens of the earth only to vanish again just as silently. He likes that. Likes the implied power in that.
Hiko's grin grows wider and both his eyebrows flick upwards. Saitou silently tilts his head in acknowledgement.
A small flick of an eyelid and both of them are sliding into a ready stance, foot forward, hands at scabbards, expressions shuttering closed. Standard, but it's as good as a begining as any. There was not much that could be done on such slippery footing.
Long moments stray past that are marked only by the incoming tide and the call of the large white birds wheeling about overhead. Like spinning ghosts streaking across a grey and strangely cloudless sky. They stay there for countless moments, frozen, staring at each other.
A bird's cry slices through the tension strained air and they're moving.
Legs uncoil like spring locks.
Flash of teeth.
They snarl forwards, thrusting, broad sweep of sword. Grating clash as metal smashes against metal and arms strain painfully against locked hilts to shift the balance in either direction just one small inch. But it is a losing battle. As strong as Saitou is, his body simply does not hold the same strength that Hiko's bull-like body has.
In the second it takes for both of them to realise this, Saitou is already swinging his leg in from the side and bringing his knee with rib cracking force into the other man's torso. Hiko twists wildly and just barely manages to redirect the kick into his gut. He staggers backwards a few steps coughing.
Hiko shakes his head and laughs. He may have the advantage in the arms, but Saitou's were his legs and the sharp faced man was a bit more nimble on the slick rocks than he'd anticipated him to be.
Saitou shows his teeth in return and drops his stance, slides a foot foward and pulls his sword back with his left arm. Hiko tosses his pontail back over his shoulder and blinks. Gatotsu? Very well.
He resheaths his katana and falls into a defensive stance. His hands hang losely at his side, feet spaced shoulder width apart. Saitou's lip curls back as he notes the passive position that Hiko has chosen to take. Hiko doesn't blame him. He'd had very much the same reaction when Kenshin had chosen the same route with him. But every stance has it's place and purpose and he would play this one out. He hopes. If he can manage it. His own footing is not nearly as sure as the other man's.
And he is feeling rather ill. Challenging Saitou is probably one of the singularly most idiotic thing he's done since the last...idiotic thing he'd done. Which was not so long ago that he is willing to recall it again. It isn't because he thinks he will lose, because he is quite certain that as good as Saitou is, he is only at the same level as the bakadeshi and as Kenshin's master, he is undoubtably superiour.
No, it is the fact that he has no intention of actually fighting Saitou. And if he isn't killed outright, then Saitou will certainly notice his lack of...interest and will definately kill him for the insult. Try to anyway. Perhaps. Too late as it is. He'll beat himself over the head about it later.
Saitou is growling, and Hiko lets out a breath as his knees dip, coiling tighter. Half a blink later, he can almost smell scourched something from the nearly burning trail Saitou leaves behind him. Another half of a blink and his sword would be spearing him through his chest.
Hiko is moving almost before he himself realizes it. Ducking down, slight twist to the side and Saitou's katana wooshes past his ear with a distressingly sharp hissing sound. Long arms reaching to grab and wrap around Saitou's shoulders, waist. Unbalance.
They both tumble into the ocean, white foam and gnashing waves swallow their bodies with great relish.
Proof that perhaps he should take the time to think things through a little before acting on it. Like the time he brought home a small wide-eyed orphan boy without once considering what would be needed to even begin caring for a such a child. Like when he spent precious time running all over Kyoto looking for one single inn/restaurant/place because it had simply not occured to him that he should have asked for directions, or a name at least.
Like his damned cape.
Big and ostanatious, The-Extremely-Annoying-and-Often-Cursed-About-Cape that has been passed from generation to generation of great Hiten Mitsurugi masters, usually a source of both intense aggrevation and near hysterical sort of dramatic posing. The cape that is now tangling his limbs, binding his arms and legs within its folds. The cape that he probably should have taken off sometime before falling into the ocean. His iron shoulder weights sinking him as surely as if he were holding a boulder in his arms. Which in retrospect, it is not so disimilar.
Fire raging from the inside.
Icy cold burning from the outside.
Bubbling silence surrounding him.
He lets himself sink at first, perversely enjoying the hollow emptiness floating past his ears. A gentle chill works its way down from his finger tips and the toes of his westerm boots, slithers up through his arms to curl deep within his chest. But the chill sparks and all too soon becomes a burning that grows stronger and stronger until he realises that he really does need to breathe sometime soon.
He soon finds himself reflexively kicking upwards--or at least he hopes it is upwards--in the watery freefloating darkness, he's completely lost his sense of direction. The damned cape is in the way again, nearly alive as it twists, twines, drags him back down.
Forgets himself momentarily and precious air bubbles from slackened lips.
He feels something that could almost be panic, if it wasn't for the fact that he never panics.
And his body is jerking, twitching of its own accord, more air escapes from his clenched mouth.
Then suddenly something gives, and he is free and something is pulling at him insistantly. He kicks again.
They surface, Hiko clutching at the hand that holds his head above the water by his hair, gasps hungrily for breath, an arm wrapping around his chest and Saitou is slowly swimming for the shore with him in tow.
At first Hiko tries to help, but his thrashing only results with him accidently kicking the other man and sending them both back under. So, instead, he waits patiently, spitting up salty liquid, hoping that his own great heavy mass has some bouancy in the ocean.
They crawl panting to the shore and flop down, simply content to lay there next to each other at the crooked line where sand meets white foam and water. Hiko shivers and turns his head wearily to the side, sees that sometime during the not-quite-fight or his own near drowning, Saitou has lost his cigarette and is vaguely patting at his pockets for another. He reaches out and catches the wandering hand in his own. Saitou irritably pulls away.
That was a good sign, right?
Hiko stares up at the darkening sky for a long moment before summoning the energy to heave himself up and over, throwing an arm, leg and most of his body over the other man. Saitou glares up at him, his face is a translucent sort of white, unearthly eyes glimmering malevolantly under a hooded gaze. He pulls his lips back.
"Baka." He murmurs. "Aho."
Hiko takes this as an even better sign and grunts as reply. He drags tingling fingers through Saitou's wet hair. He likes the way the shorter strands feel. The way it tangles tightly around his fingers as he tugs lightly on it, only to be released after a brief moment of resistance. Saitou shifts. "What were you thinking?!"
Hiko's gaze flickers to meet Saitou's momentarily, then he is focusing his attention elsewhere again. He shrugs. "Nothing, really. I can't rightly say."
Saitou closes his eyes and sighs. "It was utterly stupid. You know I wasn't going to kill you. Not all the way, anyway."
Hiko buries his face in the crook of his neck and murmurs his agreement against a tensed cord of muscle. He breathes in deeply and fancies that he can smell something tangy and strong and Saitou under all the murky salt and ocean. His head is tugged back and away by a gloved hand with a firm and slightly painful grip on his hair.
Saitou shakes him for emphasis. "You are a big, stupid aho." Hiko supposes that he should be angry at least, or even slightly irritated, but he is fully occupied with staring back at him with a hungry hopeful expression. There have been women that called it his puppy dog look. The one he uses when he wants. The one that is begging and starved and heated all at once. The one he is turning on Saitou with every once of "Please?" that he has in his body.
Saitou shifts again and looks away. Half heartedly tries to wriggle free but Hiko is sprawled across him like a big soggy sack of rice and he's a little too tired to try very hard at moving him. He'd nearly drowned trying to do the proper police-type thing and saved a life. That counts for something, right? Though he's not entirely sure what general policing had to do with anything other than exhausting his single good deed of the week.
Whoever heard of leaping into the ocean with eighty pound shoulder weights anyway? And while dragging his audience down with him? He sighs, disguising the sound as an annoyed huff. Stupid man. But while this one is missing his intellectual faculties, Saitou certainly isn't. He isn't blind either.
Hard to be blind trailing along after multiple farcical challenges that lead inevitably to one sort of interruption or delay after another. Even harder to miss the poorly hidden... desparate, needy expression on said opponant's face.
And it hasn't escaped him that on his part, he hasn't even attempted to hit or beat on the wet lump of a man that is sprawled across him. It doesn't take a member of Japan's Secret Police to put two and two together to get fried lemming, after all. He must be getting old.
Saitou shakes his head and meets Hiko's eyes once more.
Quirks an eyebrow.
Hiko needs no other invitation.