Ties That Bind

*******

by nekojita

*******

Souji squeezed Tetsuís shoulder as everyone left dinner. "Itís a lovely evening, Tetsu-kun. Do you have any plans for tonight?" he asked, pitching his voice loud enough to attract attention of the men gathering around them.

Tetsu, in the middle of trying to free his right arm from Tatsuís grasp, looked up and frowned at Souji. "No, Okita-san. After today, I think Iím just going to get some rest. Iím pretty tired." His expression clearly blamed Souji for that state.

Well, maybe it was his fault but it was for a good cause and he wasnít going to let the boy lose momentum now and go back to sulking. Noticing that Shinpachi, Sanosuke and Heisuke were wandering toward them, Souji smiled and tugged Tetsu away from his brother. "Tetsu-kun! I canít believe that someone as young as you could be so tired! Whereís that boundless energy we all know so well and admire?"

"Eh, Puppy-kunís tired after a little sprint like that?" Sanosuke asked as he sauntered over to join them. "We need to train him harder then!"

"As if you didnít come back gasping for air and collapsed on the floor after your little Ďruní with the Fukuchou," Heisuke pointed out as he nudged his friend in the ribs.

"Yeah, you even used your Ďexhaustioní to get out of helping me peel and chop all the vegetables for my stew!" Shinpachi folded his arms over his chest and glared up at Sanosuke. "You saying that was all an act, you lazy bastard?"

Souji tightened his hand on Tetsuís arm since the boyís over-protective brother was still trying to pull him away. "Ah, Tetsu-kun," he said, quick to interrupt the budding fight between Shinpachi and Sanosuke. If those two started, theyíd be at it all night.

He bowed slightly, a fleeting smile on his lips that vanished before he straightened. "Youíll have to forgive me for overestimating your stamina like that. Iím very sorry. I felt certain you could handle it because of your arduous training."

"Feh, Iím not that tired, Okita-san. Really," Tetsu reassured as he patted Soujiís arm. "And now, after thatÖ," his eyes glanced over at Shinpachi, who still looked rather annoyed, "Öwonderful dinner, I feel much better. Good enough to even spar with you!" Tetsu bounced on his toes in excitement while his brother made a choking sound.

"Maybe tomorrow," Souji covered his mouth with his hand as he laughed. "I think I need some rest before Iím ready for that match. However, I do owe you an apology for today. I didnít intend for you to get in any trouble with Hijikata-san." He bowed again, much deeper this time. "Iím very sorry. Hold out your hand." When the young boy did so, he placed a small coin pouch on Tetsuís palm.

Tetsu appeared torn between accepting the present and not wanting to blame him. "Itís all right, Okita-san. Iím always in trouble with the Fukuchou anyway." Shinpachi, Sanosuke and Heisuke chuckled at the comment. Tetsu glared over his shoulder at them before his curiosity soon got the better of him. "What is this?"

Standing up straight, Souji smiled and closed Tetsuís fingers around the purse. "Itís some coins for you to spend tonight. Go and have some fun! I believe your friends are planning to go into the city tonight so Iím sure youíll find some treats to buy." He glanced over at the shortest of the three samurai. "Isnít that right, Shinpachi?"

As Shinpachi looked at him with a puzzled expression, Souji lowered his eyelids for a second and tilted his head to the left, in the direction of Hijikataís quarters.

"I donít know if itís a good idea for Tetsu to go out tonight," Tatsu said, worried. "I think he should stay in and get some-"

"Tatsu-nii! I want to go! You never let me have any fun!" Tetsu complained as he clutched the purse and glared at Tatsu. "Why do you always think Iím always going to cause trouble?"

Before Tatsu could answer that, Shinpachi suddenly smiled and interrupted the two brothers. "Donít worry, Tatsu-san," he said as he rested an arm over Tetsuís shoulders. "Weíll take good care of him. We werenít planning on doing anything more than wandering around a bit and I have to be back in a few hours for the night shift, anyway. I promise to bring Tetsu-kun back with me and to keep him out of trouble." Sanosuke and Heisuke appeared confused at the change of plans for their night out but followed their friendís lead and quickly reassured Tatsu that nothing would befall his innocent brother.

Tatsu didnít look entirely convinced but Souji knew heíd give in. Sure enough, after a few minutes of begging and reassurances, Tatsu sighed wearily and nodded his head. "All right. But I donít want to hear that youíre too tired to do all your chores tomorrow!"

"I wonít be!" Tetsu gave his brother a crushing hug and quickly stepped back to follow his friends. "Youíre the best, Tatsu-nii! Thank you, Okita-san! Why donít you come with us?"

"Thatís all right, I already have plans for the night. Enjoy yourselves." Souji waved goodbye at the exuberant youth who was being teased by Sanosuke about his over-protective brother. The sound of their squabbling quickly blended into the evening sounds of chirping birds and insects, now audible as the city traffic slowly died down.

"What are you up to now, Okita-san?"

"Hmmm?" He turned to face Tatsu, who was watching him closely. "Ne, Tatsu-san, you worry too much! I donít have anything planned other than ensuring that your brother has some fun tonight. Shinpachi will watch over Tetsu-kun and have him back on time." He smiled at the stern, young man and sighed when the expression wasnít returned. Really, Tatsu needed to lighten up or heíd be old before his time. Such a serious, kind young man.

Tatsu continued to study him for a few more seconds. "I just hope he doesnít end up in trouble with the Fukuchou again. I know you meant only the best for Tetsu earlier today but you could have gotten him kicked out of the Shinsengumi."

As if Tatsu would truly mind if that happened, Souji thought but he didnít say anything. Instead he smiled broadly and laughed. "I would never let that happen, Tatsu-san. Donít worry, I promise that Hijikata-san wonít remain upset with your brother about today." He gave the frowning man a wink and sauntered off, smiling.

No, Hijikata wouldnít be upset for much longer. Soujiís plan involved more than returning Tetsu to normal. He hoped to do the same for his concerned lover as well. Seeing how the first part of his plan was such a success, he hoped his luck continued for the rest of the night, and laughed in anticipation.

*******

Souji made certain that everything was in its proper place. The sake set was waiting on the low table, the futon removed from the cupboard but folded on the floor, the comforters beside them. Smiling at the sight of everything being just *so*, he reached over to adjust the cloth bag by the table so its contents were visible. Finding kumihimo in the exact shades of their uniforms had been a bit of luckÖ. He felt a thrill of anticipation as he thought about how well the day had gone. Now, if only Hijikata would show up soon.

The gods must be trying to teach him patience because it was almost a half an hour before his lover returned. Obviously, Hijikata had already indulged in some sake, he swayed slightly with each step and his eyes appeared unfocused. Souji frowned and hoped Kondo-san kept his promise about ensuring that Hijikata wouldnít get too drunk tonight. Yes, it had been aÖ trying day for the Fukuchou but his plans would be ruined if the man was too drunk to do anything other than fall asleep before even noticing him.

"Hijikata-san!" he exclaimed as he clapped his hands, causing his lover to flinch ever so slightly. "Youíre home! Would you like some more sake?" Hijikataís attention was now focused on him, an expression of anger crossing his handsome face. Souji couldnít help smiling - his lover *wasnít* too drunk to notice him. "Or would tea be better? I can go fetch some." He made to stand as Hijikata slowly approached but found himself pushed back onto his knees, Hijikataís right hand tangled in his hair. For a moment he closed his eyes and breathed in deeply, sweet tension building at the familiar scent of sweat and smoke. For the first time in too long, he was beginning to feel alive. "Or maybe not," he said, his voice a mere whisper as he looked up.

"You!" Hijikata growled, his pipe clamped between his teeth and his eyes still slightly unfocused. "Where is it?" His hand tightened in Soujiís hair, making the strands stand on end and a shiver of pleasure course through Soujiís body as he flushed with desire and adrenalin. After a moment, he realized that Hijikata repeated the question, his deep voice all but growling with irritation and anger.

"The tea?" Souji pretended to think for a second, a small smile curling on his lips when Hijikata growled in earnest. "I imagine itís with the rest of our supplies. Oh, and the water for it is in the well, of course," he continued as he arched his neck to look up at his lover. "Are you sure you donít want any?" He assumed not when the hold on his hair tightened and his head was tilted back further. As much as the darkness inside him purred at the thought of fighting Hijikata, he reminded himself that wasnít what he was trying to achieve tonight. Hijikata would never forgive himself if they fought in earnest and Souji wasnít sure if he could hold back that dark part of himself. It was so long since it had an outlet.

His brows furrowed, Hijikata made a sound of annoyance and leaned closer. "My book! The one you stole from me!" He jerked Souji upward, forcing him to rise up on his knees. The actions electrified his senses and he had to prevent himself from nuzzling his loverís arm or bridging the small distance between them for a kiss. Unwanted or not, the threat of violence made his body tight with desire and his senses snap into crystal clarity that revealed the slightest detail, such as the bead of sweat running down the left side of Hijikataís face, the flexing of the fingers in his hair, the scent of his lover beneath the odor of smoke.

"Your book?" Souji teased, eager to draw the moment out as long as he could, almost quivering in anticipation. It had been so longÖ. For his plan to work, he needed Hijikata to stop thinking, to no longer consider the consequences of their actions. He was tired of being treated like a fragile doll, being told to remain in the compound when off duty and avoid any sword fights. "I thought Tatsu-san returned it to you-"

Hijikataís fist tangled further in his hair, bending his neck until his back was bowed. He was completely at Hijikataís mercy and now couldnít help but quiver, both in eagerness for what was to come and the need to stop himself from striking back instinctively. "You know that wasnít the right book. I want *my* book, Souji." The man possessed such a delightfully one-track mind. Now, to have it focused utterly on him and not some stupid poetry. "How dare you show it to Ichimura?"

Souji couldnít help it, he whimpered slightly as his hands pressed against Hijikataís chest. The fury left his loverís face as Hijikata realized what he was doing, released his hold and knelt on the floor, appearing ready to apologize. This wonít do at all, Souji thought, exasperated with himself for not containing his eagerness better. "I only wanted to make him smile, Hijikata-san. Your haiku definitely did that. You saw how much he laughed after reading them." Ah, he struck home with that comment as Hijikataís face flushed again in anger. Now, hopefully, there wouldnít be any needless concern about him being Ďhurtí, only making him pay for his audacity earlier today.

But his lover retained some discipline this time, damn him. No matter how much he tried, Souji couldnít make him completely lose control. "Souji, Iím going to ask you nicely," Hijikata said, his voice almost calm as he straightened out his robes and set his pipe aside, his eyes intent on Souji. "Where is my book?"

"I canít tell you," Souji said with great delight and had to bite back on a smile when Hijikataís jaw clenched and his right eye twitched. No, never completely - but just enough to have Hijikata do whatever he wanted.

Taking a deep breath and then another, Hijikata balled his hands into fists and leaned closer. "Donít tell me you lost it," he choked out. The furious look in his eyes would send any of the Shinsengumi running in terror. Anyone but Souji, that was.

He gave in to the impulse to smile cheerfully. "Of course I didnít lose it. Not something so precious to you. I made sure it was safe before I went shopping today." He chose to ignore Hijikataís snort of disbelief. "Oh, I wanted to show this to you!" he exclaimed as he reached for the kumihimo, deftly changing the subject. "I found the perfect braid for our uniforms and weapons! I bought all of it I could find, it wonít nearly be enough but Iím sure theyíll make more if we askÖ" He found himself suddenly yanked halfway onto Hijikataís lap, his body tensing as if he was being attacked but he forced himself to relax. He was definitely getting very close to what he wanted, he thought as he draped himself over his loverís muscular thighs.

"Where. Is. It?" If Hijikataís patience had been short before, it seemed perilously close to reaching its end just now. He rested his head against Hijikataís firm stomach and breathed in the scent of sweat and smoke to center himself. He had to remain in control a little while longer.

Smiling at his lover, Souji lifted his head to press it against Hijikataís chest and rubbed his cheek against warm, taut skin. He couldnít stop himself from touching his lover, not when he was so close to him. "I told you, I canít tell you that. I know how concerned you are about the book so I hid it away somewhere safe and swore to myself that Iíd never tell another soul." He leaned away, his head tilted to the side to expose his neck, his hair pooling onto the floor beside him. Heíd made sure to wear his kimono loose so the garment slid down his shoulders. "Donít worry about it any more." Hijikataís eyes dilated but Souji couldnít tell if it was from fury or desire. Hopefully, it would be a mixture of both. Whatever the emotion that filled them, they followed his right hand attentively as he trailed it up his chest and along his shoulder to toss back a lock of hair.

"Tell. Me. Now." Hijikata was through with asking nicely and was now ordering him. Souji smiled blithely and shook his head to infuriate his lover even further.

"No," he said, the only direct order of Hijikataís heíd ever deliberately disobeyed. He reached blindly for the braided silk rope and pulled out a coil, his eyes intent on his loverís. "Now, what do you think about this, honestly?" he asked as nonchalantly as he could. "I thought the blue was a little too dark at first but Iím now convinced itís the perfect match." He held up the rope for his lover to examine, his hand shaking with need and expectation.

Hijikata snatched the thin cord with an equally shaking hand. "Souji, Iím not playing here," he snapped as he wrapped the cord around his hand. "Tell me where you hid the book." He paused for a moment, his dark eyes intent. "*Now*."

Senses honed by years of fighting warned him that the moment he sought was close. "No," he said succinctly. "I swore an oath not to do that. Itís safe so stop worrying." Now, it was time to see if heíd pushed his lover too far into anger for there to be any pleasure tonight. For a moment he regretted having to resort to such trickery but heíd had it with Hijikata fussing and worrying about him, not even allowing him to fight because of his damned Ďconditioní. At least he wasnít the one sitting here with a brilliantly red face, looking ready to have a fit at any moment. That couldnít be healthy. Maybe Hijikata should see a doctor sometime-

"You." The one word was laden with enough disbelief and anger that Souji wanted to laugh. Hijikata never sounded that uncertain, never. "How dare you disobey an order?" He was actually growling now. "You should know better, Souji." He yelped in surprise when he found himself yanked fully onto his loverís lap and held there. "Tell me now or youíll be punished."

He didnít think Hijikata would make him commit seppuku but still felt a shiver of fear run up and down his spine. His lover looked so furious, his dark eyes glowing with anger, his handsome face tight with the emotion. This was the Shinsengumiís demon he dealt with now and, again, Souji felt his body ready itself for a fight. He could only stare at Hijikata for a few seconds as he wet his dry lips, torn between desire and the need to strike out. "No, I wonít," he dared to push once he found a balance between the impulses.

Hijikataís nostrils flared and his eyes narrowed. He grabbed Soujiís arm in a tight grip. "Well then, youíll be punished until you do," he said, the slight slur from the alcohol now completely gone. "I canít have you thinking you can ignore me with impunity." He gazed around the room for a moment before a slight smile crossed his face. "Yes, that will do."

Souji found himself pushed roughly onto the tatami mats. As he sputtered at being dumped off his loverís lap, there was a sharp tug on his kimonoís belt. "Hijikata-san!" He feigned shock at the action and tried half-heartedly to brush aside the large hand undoing the knot.

"I warned you earlier what would happen if I didnít get my book back," Hijikata replied, his tone now calm and slightly smug. "Iíll stop as soon as you tell me where it is. If you donítÖ youíll pay for your disobedience."

He sounded as if he was looking forward to meting out the punishment, yet Souji doubted that his lover would do anything to truly hurt him. As he was being stripped, he had no problem with facing a little punishment. Not as long as he got what he wanted. Still, he couldnít let the man figure out how he was being manipulated or the fun would end so Souji whimpered softly and attempted to hold onto his garments with false modesty. "ButÖ but itís safe now, Hijikata-san," he whimpered, his eyes averted and his cheeks flushed, his body quivering at each brush of Hijikataís hand. "I promise no one will ever find it."

"No one should have known about the book in the first place, especially Ichimura, Shinpachi and Sanosuke," Hijikata pointed out, his voice rough with anger once again. "That was your fault, Souji." Naturally, he won the tug of war for the kimono and under-robe and tossed them aside then quickly stripped Souji of the rest of his clothes, holding onto his wrists with one hand when he continued to Ďstruggleí. "If you donít want to be punished, tell me where it is." They were both silent for a moment and then Hijikata sighed in annoyance. "Iím serious here, Souji. Donít think Iím just playing to scare you. Youíve caused me a lot of trouble today and Iíll only be too happy to make you pay for that."

Souji whimpered and continued to thrash against his lover, his body delighting at the contact. "Iím sorry, Hijikata-san, I just wanted to make Tetsu-kun smile. I donít know why youíre soÖ shy about people reading your poems." He almost groaned when his arms were jerked behind his back and felt himself start to harden. He hoped that Hijikata didnít notice but then he felt his lips curl into a contented smile as he suddenly realized that he wasnít the only one in that state. His lover might be angry with him, which was never a good thing, but he was also enjoying this just as much.

Hijikata snorted and tightened his grip on Soujiís wrists. "So that wasnít you laughing with Ichimura and telling him to run off with my book?" Holding him still with one hand, Hijikata held up the kumihimo and examined it closely for a few seconds. "This should do." He pulled the multi-colored cord from the bag and quickly measured it out. Once it was folded in half, he pulled Souji close and actually smiled. "Stop struggling or Iíll punish you even more."

He hadnít even started with the punishment yet, Souji thought in annoyance and immediately stilled as the cool, silky rope wrapped around his chest. Hijikata bound him slowly with the kumihimo, tight enough for him to feel the braided pattern bite into his skin, for him to feel the cord constrict around him, feel each loop around his chest and back, feel the diamond pattern creep down his body. He stared at his loverís face as he was bound, noting the concentration and amused smile. Hijikata was so sexy when he smiled like that, the sight rare and to be treasured. Souji shuddered with fervent desire when a knot was pulled tight. Now he was what Hijikata focused on now, not some book of poetry, not his coughing and not the damned Chosu.

Soon, he was encased from his shoulders to his waist, his upper arms trapped against his body. Hijikata shifted to the side and bound his hands behind his back with the same care as the rest of the knots and loops. The rope was tight enough to bite slightly into his skin but the breath he mostly held kept them from being too constrictive. He heard a knife drawn from its sheath and moments later it sliced through the remains of the kumihimo.

Hijikata settled in front of him and brushed back his hair, which heíd left unbound. Now he could see the lust in his loverís eyes, causing him to moan softly. "You, wrapped in Shinsengumi colors." For a moment Hijikata appeared sad but then he ran his hand down Soujiís chest, tugging at various knots. "Are you going to tell me now?"

His throat tight with desire, Souji could only shake his head. Hijikataís eyes narrowed again but he smiled wolfishly as he pushed Souji to lie on top of his lap face down. "Well, you were warned. Itíll be more enjoyable to do this to you than Ichimura any day."

The first slap against Soujiís backside startled him and prompted the memory of his lover shouting something about a hundred spankings. Oh, this was turning out better than heíd hopedÖ as long as there really werenít a hundred spankings. He had other plans for tonight that a sore bottom would interfere with. "Hijikata-san!" he squealed while squirming on his loverís lap and couldnít help but moan at the wonderful friction of his erection rubbing against Hijikataís cloth-covered thigh.

"Yes, Souji? Do you suddenly remember where you hid my book?" Hijikataís tone sounded amused as another stinging slap landed. Lying on top of his lover like this, the braided rope pressed against his skin from the weight of his body and his inadvertent wiggles with each blow, a slight discomfort tingled through him, offset with growing pleasure. He took a deep breath, as deep as he could with the bindings and felt a familiar lassitude creep through him. Each ache, each discomfort reminded him of the pain of learning the way of the sword, of forcing his body to become a weapon. So longÖ it had been too long since heíd felt this way and he relished the focus it gave him. He lost himself in the sensations and building lust. Yes, it had been too long since heíd been pushed anywhere near his limits. He detested being coddled.

Even the growing sting across his buttocks and the burn in his arms and shoulders was to be savored. He was no stranger to pain or discomfort but, more importantly, Hijikata was treating him as an equal, as someone who could take the abuse. He moaned and rocked his hips forward, away from the forceful smacks and against the silk of his loverís robes. This was his most intense battle in several weeks and he planned to enjoy it a little longer before giving in to his Fukuchou.

A good way into the promised hundred smacks, his backside tingling in pain, Souji jerked at a particularly harsh hit. He tossed his head up, his hair falling onto his face and leaving him half blind, a small sound of discomfort startled from him as his body sought to fight back. Hijikataís hand settled on his sore bottom and massaged slowly as if to soothe him, helping him to beat down the ingrained impulse. He felt torn between enjoying the caress and shifting away from the pain it stirred.

"Youíre so damned stubborn, Souji." He found himself gently rolled on his side onto the mats while Hijikata rose to his feet and crossed the room. Unable to see what his lover was fetching, Souji soon figured it out when he smelled cedar and aromatic herbs.

Hijikata settled beside him, a small box in his hands. He gave Souji an even look as he removed the lid and revealed his supply of medicinal oils and herbs. "Well? Are you going to behave now?" he asked as he brushed Soujiís hair away from his face.

Knowing silence would serve him best, Souji remained quiet and forced himself to remain still. Hijikata grunted and opened a bottle of oil which he poured onto his hands. He warmed the oil between his palms and set his hands on Soujiís bottom. "Too stubborn for words." His touch soothed the pain of the spankings, cooling the burn. Souji sighed gently as his body relaxed, the hurt fading but the adrenalin remaining, keeping his nerves abuzz with energy and anticipation.

"Iíll get nothing from you through pain," Hijikata said as his hands drew away. "Not you." There was a hint of sadness and reproach in his voice. Souji snuck a glance at his lover and noticed a far away look in the dark eyes. Then Hijikata shook his head and reached for the remains of the braided cord. He rubbed his slick hands along Soujiís tense thighs for a moment before he pressed Soujiís right ankle against his thigh.

"Youíre probably wondering why I chose to tie you up."

Feeling his ankle being pressed against and tied to his thigh so his leg remained bent in half, Souji blew a strand of hair off his face and looked up at his lover. Heíd put a lot of thought into this plan, had considered carefully how Hijikata would react. All he said, though, was "yes".

"Hmph." Hijikata tied Soujiís other ankle and yanked him onto his knees, a steady hand holding onto his bound wrists as he swayed back and forth and adjusted to the new bindings. He could feel the tatami matís weave biting into his naked knees and his hair sliding down his body, catching on the braided cord and his oiled bottom.

"Youíd never break under pain. We taught you better than that." Hijikataís voice was rough with suppressed emotion, a contrast to the gentle touch along Soujiís aching backside. "Though I couldnít resist giving you some of the punishment you deserve. No, the ropeís there for my benefit. Youíre like a spoiled child, Souji; you only learn when something you want is taken away from you. This will be much more enjoyable than forbidding you any sweets."

Souji had to moisten his lips before he could speak. "What are you planning, Hijikata-san?" He leaned back against his lover and relished the feel of the hard body holding him upright. Fourteen years of knowledge, of experience, fourteen years of being HijikataísÖ he knew his lover so very well, much better than Hijikata knew him. There was nothing in his lover that frightened or appalled him.

"Donít you know, Souji?" Hijikata whispered in his ear, the hot breaths of air making him shiver. For a moment he feared that his lover knew just how much heíd orchestrated this whole day. Strong, calloused hands skimmed down his body, rasping against rope and skin. "You have such an active imagination, canít you guess what I would do to you when youíre bound like this?"

His breath hitching, Souji moaned as he laid his head against Hijikataís shoulder. "You wouldnít be that mean, would you, Hijikata-san?" he said, his tone abject and his eyes lowered.

"Just how mean should I be, Souji?" Hijikata asked, his hands grasping Soujiís hips harshly as he bent his head, his mouth pressing ever so lightly against the sensitive skin of his neck. "To the person who stole my private property for his and othersí amusement, who disobeys my orders? Are you going to tell me now?"

And forgo this? Never. "Hijikata-san," he whined and let out a moan of frustration as the hands left his hip. "Iím sorry."

"No, youíre not," Hijikata murmured as he pulled away. Souji heard glass clank together from the direction of the medicine chest and a moment later an aromatic aroma filled the air. Hijikataís left hand returned to his hip as slick fingers slid down the small of his back. They teased around his entrance, pushing in slightly and pulling away. "Youíre never sorry, unless itís about being caught. Where is my book?"

"Not tell- ah!" he exclaimed as the fingers finally pushed inside. He savored the feel of them inside him, warm and solid, ever so slowly pushing in deeper and deeper. It took him a moment to notice the tingling sensation that gradually developed. "Ah!"

"No, itís no use punishing you with pain," Hijikata continued, his voice now amused. "Lovely Souji, always so eager. What will you do for your pleasure? Will you listen to me for once?" The fingers twisted, sending a new, more potent tingle through his body.

Gods, how heíd missed this, missed Hijikata treating him like this, as if he wouldnít shatter at a mere touch. Ever since the cough startedÖ but now, his lover was distracted and infuriated enough to forget all about his health, to take him firmly in hand and bring him to heel. "No," he whimpered, his body shuddering with each twist of those fingers, his mind growing fogged as the maddening tingle continued to build. He focused on his breathing, on pulling enough air into his constricted lungs, the bite of the ropes helping to center him.

Hijikata sighed, sending shivers through Soujiís body as the hot breath washed over his neck. "So damned stubborn. Iíll break you though, I always do." The fingers pressed deep inside him, wringing a gasp from him as his vision darkened with pleasure. "Breathe, Souji."

He listened to his lover, who gave him a moment to catch his breath. Yes, Hijikata always broke himÖ that was what made this so enjoyable. Being brought to the edge of pleasure at Hijikataís capable hands, dragging him along for the rideÖ. He moaned when a calloused hand slid along his hips to his arousal, the touch making his hips buck. There was a wicked chuckle and he was left achingly empty, the warmth behind him vanishing for a few seconds only to quickly return, pressed against his back as two long, muscled arms wrapped around his waist. Oh, how he loved the feel of Hijikataís lean, powerful body against his, so warm and hard.

His hips bucked again at a gentle, teasing touch along his cock. The finger trailed from root to tip and back and then something wrapped around its base and was tugged tight. He moaned at the new restraint, his cock twitching as the cord was knotted. He was completely in Hijikataís hands now.

"Tell me where the book is and Iíll untie you," his lover whispered in his ear, voice once again rough but this time he could hear the desire. He gasped as he thought about what was to come, his breath catching in his throat for a few seconds. Hijikata tilted his chin up so they looked into each otherís eyes and he saw the concern on his loverís face. "Can you breathe, Souji?"

No, he wasnít about to let needless worry take away his fun. "YouÖ you should write a haiku about this, Hijikata-san," he teased as he forced his breathing to become even. The concern in the dark eyes faded and was replaced by anger and determination.

"But I need my book to write it down in, Souji." Hijikata pulled away again, this time to drag one of the folded futon toward them. Once that was done, he wrapped his arms around Souji and with a short grunt lifted him onto the soft bedding. "Tell me where it is."

Souji didnít say anything as he stared evenly at his lover. Hijikataís face darkened at his insolence and he was left alone as Hijikata tended to his pipe, tapping it empty to refill and light it, the scent of smoke soon overpowering that of the oils. After a few puffs he settled in front of Souji.

His hands, so large and rough, capable of such strength, traced feather light down Soujiís body, along the twines of cord, the knots and patterns. A burning sensation was left in its wake, a new delineation of where the kumihimo was pressed against his skin. Souji wanted to pant at the touch but knew he couldnít, forcing himself to breathe in and out slowly as the delicious torture continued. His nipples, trapped between coils of rope, were gently circled for endless minutes. He leaned his body into the touch, needed more of it, more pressure, more coverage, moreÖ. His gaze fixed on his loverís.

Hijikata stared back at him, all signs of inebriation gone and steely resolve left in its place. Yes, his lover was very determined to break him. Souji licked his lips in anticipation and moaned in pleasure when Hijikata set aside his pipe and leaned in for a kiss filled with all the passionate emotions he normally hid, a stark contrast to the soft touch.

He wanted to rise up on his knees and press against his lover, to tangle his fingers in the thick, dark hair that fell about him, a tormenting curtain against his sensitized skin. But he couldnít. Oh yes, the rope was indeed denying him pleasure and it felt so good. Heíd given himself completely to Hijikata years before, this was just an affirmation too long denied.

Hijikata dominated the kiss, completely ravished his mouth until he had no choice but to gasp for needed air. His loverís lips trailed down his jaw, onto his neck where they pressed hard against him again, sucking and nipping until he swayed in bliss, his bound hands clenching and unclenching with the need to grab ahold of his lover. After a minute, the kiss continued downward as those wonderful, strong hands grasped his hips, long fingers stroking against his skin as they held him steady.

"Ah! Hijikata-san," he moaned as that warm, teasing mouth latched onto his left nipple, still sensitized from the gentle touch earlier. This time the attention was harsher; teeth sank into the tender flesh and tugged until he arched his back. Hijikataís hand wrapped around his aching cock, a teasing counterpoint to the demanding mouth that sucked and nibbled on his flesh. A finger flicked against the head of his cock, pushing back the foreskin and swirling around the small slit for a second before trailing back down its length.

He whimpered and writhed as best he could, bound and held steady by his lover, utterly lost in the pleasure. If he could have, he would have come when that tormenting mouth, after placing a kiss in the center of each diamond pattern down his chest, wrapped around the tip of his cock for a quick suckle before kissing its way downward to his tight balls. He gasped out his loverís name as the aching mounds were nuzzled and nipped, his fingers desperate to bury themselves in Hijikataís thick hair. Oh, what he wouldnít give to touch the teasing bastard right nowÖ.

His breath caught in his throat when Hijikata abandoned tormenting his poor balls and took him again into his mouth. Souji gasped, the sound sharp, his hips trying to thrust forward into the warm, moist cavern but all he could do was to lean forward slightly and bow his head, his eyes locked on the back of Hijikataís head as his lover pleasured him. It was utterly maddening, the need to move, the tingle along his skin and deep inside, the building urge to come, hard, into that talented mouth. He wanted to touch Hijikata, to stroke him and pleasure him and push him onto his back; onto the mats so he could do the same to him, take him deep down his throat, so salty and hot and thickÖ.

Hijikata looked up at him, his mouth still wrapped around the tip of Soujiís cock, smug satisfaction and urgent need glowing in his eyes. Souji stared back, his lips moving but no sounds other than soft whimpers escaped. He *ached* so much to return the pleasure. "Hijikata-sanÖ please," he whispered.

His lover ignored his plea for a few more seconds before pulling away, wiping his mouth, his lips curving in a smug smile as he shrugged out of his robes. He took a quick puff on his pipe and set it back on the table before he returned his attention to Souji. "Are you giving in so soon?" he asked as he stroked Soujiís hair, brushing it off his flushed face.

"No." What he wanted was to drive Hijikata just as wild with bliss. It wouldnít be as enjoyable if he didnít share the pleasure with his lover. Swallowing, he offered Hijikata a shaky smile. "Have you thought of a new haiku yet?"

For an answer he was kissed ardently enough to make him shiver. He tasted himself on his loverís lips, felt Hijikataís arousal press against his. Arms wrapped around his chest, pressing the braided cord deeper into his flesh but he didnít complain. Not even the ache in his shoulders and wrists bothered him. It was a familiar and comforting pain.

"So. Damned. Stubborn," Hijikata gasped minutes later, his eyes hazed with desire.

"YouÖ taught me that," Souji responded, his head falling to rest on his loverís shoulder.

"Hmph." A gentle touch ran along his cheek, down his jaw and neck and across his right shoulder. Hijikata squeezed his shoulder and shifted behind him. "I also taught you to obey an order."

He sighed in happiness at the feel of a warm body pressing against him, Hijikataí cock settling in the cleft of his ass for a moment before he leaned away. "But I made a promise, Hijikata-san." The scent of oil cut through the fog of smoke and those wonderful fingers were back again, along with the maddening tingle. He eagerly rocked back his hips as far he could, wanting so much for them to be inside as deep as possible but Hijikata was taking his role as a teasing bastard much too much to heart. The torment was exquisite and wonderful, better than he remembered.

Hijikata started nibbling on his right ear as two fingers suddenly pressed in as deep as possible and then pulled out. "Should I make you tell me where the book is now? What will you do if I stop right here?"

Even though heíd thought about that, Souji shuddered in need and dread for a moment before regaining control. Heíd give in if he had to but that wouldnít nearly be as much fun - for either of them - than lasting until the end. He sighed as he leaned forward, his body bending as much as the ropes would allow and his bound, bent legs spread as much as possible, his ass exposed and offered to his lover, who he knew was just as caught up in the passion and pleasure as he was. "Have I really been punished enough?" he asked as he looked back at Hijikata, his hair falling onto his face.

Hijikata stared at him for a few moments and then chuckled softly. He sat on his heels, his large erection jutting up between his thighs and testament to the fact that at least one part of him wasnít ready to put a stop to things either. He leaned forward, his length of hair tumbling down his sweaty chest. Souji delighted in the sight of his loverís naked body, of defined muscles shifting with each movement.

"Of course you havenít." Hijikata pulled him back up, his hand falling into Soujiís lap to fondle his cock. The touch reminded him of the desperate need to come and he shuddered again at its denial. There was another chuckle before Hijikata brushed aside his hair and kissed him on the back of the neck.

He couldnít hold back the moans that the caresses wrung from him so he offered them to his lover, a symphony of desire and pleasure prompted with each stroke and kiss. The need and bliss kept building higher and higher, reaching impossible heights as his hips rocked back and forth, rubbing against Hijikataís arousal. As lost as he was, Souji wanted to drag his lover down with him, wanted so much more. He gasped Hijikataís name as his fingers scrambled at the toned abdomen pressing against them, extended down to brush against crisp, curly hairs.

"Souji," Hijikata breathed, his voice rough and low. The scent of more oil as something rolled across the floor was the only warning Souji had before he was swiftly entered, filled utterly by the sharp thrust that he felt all the way up his spine. He shivered in bliss and drew in several short, shallow breaths as his body adjusted, the small ache of being invaded almost too quickly fading beneath more tingling and wonderful pleasure.

Behind him, Hijikata panted as his hands flexed on Soujiís hips. "Souji, did IÖ?" he asked, concern heavy in his voice.

"Iím fine," Souji said quickly, not about to let his lover stop now. "OhÖ so good," he purred as he rocked his hips back.

"Hmph." Hijikata pumped his bound cock, wringing a groan from him that was half pain and half pleasure at the contact. He felt ready to burst at any moment. "You donít sound like a man being punished."

"Then untie me," he said, a hint of pleading creeping into his voice. It wasnít the growing ache and strained muscles that were wearing him down as much as the need to hold his lover, to touch him and drive him mad with pleasure. He forced his resolve to harden and pulled away the slightest bit, only to be jerked back onto Hijikataís cock.

"No, I like you tied up. I donít have to keep such a close eye on you." He nuzzled Soujiís ear and thrust forward. "My book?"

"OhhhhÖ that," Souji sighed. He took as deep a breath as possible to center himself and shook his head, his hair flying about. "No."

"I didnít think so." Hijikata pulled back, almost coming completely out of him before snapping forward. Souji couldnít help but gasp in pleasure and again as his cock was squeezed, his sight going dim for several seconds. "Tell me where it is and Iíll untie you," Hijikata said, his voice growing ragged.

He was prevented from saying anything by another squeeze to his over-sensitive cock and then Hijikata leaned heavily upon him, pushing him downward. He again bent forward, his legs splayed as much as possible and cried out as Hijikata shoved deep inside him, hitting his sweet spot. The world around him faded at the bliss coursing through him with each of his loverís sharp, forceful strokes. Strong hands clutched his hips and pulled him back, onto each thrust for even deeper penetration.

It was almost too much. He wanted to come so very badly, wanted to be able to move but the bindings deprived him of his freedom. The pains and aches bled into the ecstasy, heightening everything to an impossible intensity yet served as a reminder. He couldnít give in, not yetÖ. He cried out Hijikataís name as the pleasurable assault continued, the thrusts growing more and more frenzied.

"Souji." Hijikata pressed his head against Soujiís back, pressure against the ropes, strands of hair tickling his exposed skin. He moaned, words growing beyond his means as a particularly sharp thrust had stars bursting across his vision. It was getting difficult to breathe, the ache in his chest joining with all the others but he wouldnít stop this for all the world.

His lips and throat grew dry from his panting and cries, his hair plastered to his face with sweat and it all felt so incredible. Heíd have come ages ago but for the tie around his cock that trapped him on the edge of bliss and oblivion for so long it was starting to hurt. Everything fell into sharp relief, every little detail there to be savored. The weave of the rope and the futon pressing against his skin, the aches of his body and the amazing pleasure, all of it.

The strong fingers on his hips spasmed, biting deeper into his flesh as the sweaty thighs against his backside started to tremble. He noticed the hitch in his loverís breath, the way his name was stuttered and knew that the time had come. He managed a shaky smile as he tossed back his head. "Toshi-sanÖ," he capitulated, only to find that he couldnít form the words to tell his lover where the book was hidden.

Hijikata understood, though. He barely repeated the name before his lover slowed for a moment, his right hand sliding along his sweaty skin and brushing against his cock. He cried out loudly at the almost painful touch, his head falling forward as he gave up the last of his control. The powerful thrusts resumed, making him sob at the pleasure and then it was too much, the pressure was gone as the tie was released and he couldnít stop himself from coming if he tried. It all became a blur of pure bliss and whiteness.

He came back to himself, his body still shuddering in orgasm and his lungs burning for air. It was hard to calm down enough to remember to take shallow breaths, not with Hijikata still thrusting inside him, wracking his tired body with even more pleasure. It was only a few more seconds before his lover came and, exhausted as he was, Souji was pleased that heíd timed it so well as he felt weight settle across his back, pressing him down onto the futon.

Hijikata gasped out his name and trembled against him with each pulse of warmth that filled him. After a minute Hijikata took a deep breath and slowly pulled away, his hands on Soujiís hips. They caressed his skin for a moment and then started to untie the kumihimo.

With each coil unwrapped and knot undone, Souji felt a thrill of pleasure and relief. It only took a few minutes until he was free. The first unhindered lungful of air tasted so sweet. He sighed in happiness as he was pressed against his loverís chest and Hijikata started to massage his sore wrists and arms.

"The book is hidden underneath your uniform," he told his Fukuchou with some regret. His plan had worked and been more amazing than heíd thought possible but he still felt a small pain that it was over. Now, Hijikata would go back to treating him like a breakable heirloom and there would be no more moments like this.

Hijikata inhaled sharply. "Underneath my uniform? You hid it in my own quarters?" he asked in disbelief.

"Hmmm, I did tell you that I made certain it was safe, didnít I? Where better than in your own quarters?" Souji teased as he leaned out of his loverís slack embrace and picked up the barely still smoldering pipe. He thought Hijikata might need a smoke right about now.

"It was here the entire time," Hijikata growled as he snatched at the pipe and pulled him back so they looked at each other. "You sneaky little bastard."

Souji smiled at that and brushed back his loverís bangs with a shaky hand. Hijikata noticed the tremors and frowned. "Iím sorry," he said as he cradled Soujiís hand between his.

"Donít be," Souji said, his voice sharp. No, just a little longerÖ. "I didnít break, Hijikata-san," he said in defiance. "Donít treat me like I will."

He was stared at evenly for a few seconds and then Hijikata exhaled to the side a cloud of fragrant smoke. "No, you didnít." Hijikata smiled and chuckled. "You even held out longer than I thought you would," he said as he caressed Soujiís face.

"I wanted to enjoy this for as long as possible." Souji hummed in happiness and tilted his face, enjoying the gentle touch. "Itís been too long."

"Is that why you took my book?" Hijikata asked. At Soujiís smile, he grunted and pulled awayÖ to set his pipe aside and unfold the other futon. He yanked Souji down onto it and stretched out beside him. "Youíre too damned sneaky for words at times."

"Well, you wouldnít listen to me so I had to try something new," Souji said as he curled against his lover. He moaned in appreciation as Hijikata started to rub his sore shoulders and skimmed a hand down his sides, feeling the impressions left in his skin from the bindings. "To think that you call *me* stubborn. Iím fine, Toshi-san. I can still fight and I can still take whatever you dish out," he said in challenge.

The room was silent, save for the occasional moan from him as the tension slowly left his aching shoulders and arms from the massage. "You better stay that way," Hijikata rumbled. "Or else one of these days, Iím really going to be upset from one of your pranks and you wonít enjoy your punishment."

"But not tonight," he gloated as he pressed his face into the crook of Hijikataís neck. He loved how warm his lover was, loved his earthy smell and the way he felt engulfed when Hijikata hugged him close.

"No." Hijikata rubbed his chin along the top of Soujiís head. "Only because I honestly thought that Iíd stop before things went too far."

He could hear the faint chagrin in his loverís voice and had to smile. Poor Hijikata, it really wasnít his fault he didnít put a stop to things like he planned. "See, itís been too long for you, too. Thatís why you chased poor Tetsu-kun around the city like a madman. You really need a better outlet for all that energy," he teased.

Hijikata was quiet for a moment and then Souji found himself pushed onto his back, his lover straddling his waist and looming over him. "A madman?" Hijikata asked in indignation.

"Yes, a madman." He laughed and rocked his hips upward, slightly distracting the poor, ruffled man. Hijikata and his silly pride. "The men spent the day debating if a demon could be possessed by another demon as they had no logical explanation for your actions." He laughed again. "Just how many times did you run around the-?" He found himself silenced with a very thorough kiss and decided that was enough needling.

It was a few minutes before Hijikata pulled away, short of breath and his face flushed. "What the hell did I do to be saddled with you?"

"Hmmm, Iím not sure but it had to have been something very, very good." He smiled at the fierce scowl his lover gave him. "Donít you agree?"

"What did I say about pushing me too far, Souji?" Hijikata asked in evident exasperation. "Maybe I have been too careful with you if you have enough energy to cook up a scheme like todayís. You could do with more wearing out."

Finally, the man was making sense. "Imagine what I can think up if you keep deciding Iím too delicate for these games," he said, a wicked grin on his lips.

Hijikata shuddered, his eyes closed and his brows furrowed as if contemplating some vision of horror. "I donít want to imagine. Itíll only pale before the real thing, Iím sure." He opened his eyes and glared at Souji. "If youíre not careful, youíll be more trouble than youíre worth."

Souji wasnít frightened by the threat, heíd heard it many times over the years but decided it might be a good time to change the topic. He got what he wanted and needed to leave his prickly lover with some pride. "So what do you think about the kumihimo? Should we buy some more for the men? Iím sure we can salvage some of it but it wonít be enough for everyone."

That earned him another angry look. "The uniforms are fancy enough. Besides, Iím keeping what you bought today." The look faded to one that was predatory in nature. "I think Iíll find a use for it in the future." Hijikata leaned down until their mouths were scant millimeters apart. "You look beautiful bound in those colors. So pale and fragile and utterly mine for the taking. Like a precious gift for me to open."

As the gap was bridged and they kissed, Souji wondered if there wasnít going to be poetry written about tonight after all. Heíd make certain to keep those poems private. Tatsu would never forgive him if he shared them with Tetsu. Then, he decided that thought was overrated and just enjoyed himself, of being treated as an equal by his stubborn fool of a lover. He could wait until morning to try and figure out a new way to get into trouble. After all, he could take the punishment just fine.

*******

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