...Yes, I did write this, I promise. Enjoy!
Title: Out of Line
Disclaimer: Samurai Mode isn't mine!
Warnings: Violence, bl if you want there to be (I'm not kidding-- there's more blood than boys doing anything romantic with one another o__o;)
Author's Note: I wanted to write a piece about Saiga and Shisui when they were young, and this is what happened. XD; Somehow, it came out... generally lacking in much BL! That's so bizarre for something from me...
There were many things that Shisui found incredibly aggravating about Saiga. He could write a lengthy list, an essay, even, about all the traits and habits he found incredibly annoying in the other young man, and would have been perfectly willing to, if it wasn't so incredibly inappropriate. In fact, it was inappropriate, he knew, for him to say anything about them at all, because that simply was not how a young man of his station behaved, and so he was forced to grind his teeth and look the other way and ignore the fact that there were times that he would very much have liked to wring Saiga's neck.
After all, Shisui and Saiga were third cousins, both of highly respected branches of the Ina clan, and even at fifteen, they were expected to act as adults. Both would certainly become head generals in the Ina clan's militia, just as their fathers had before them, and as such, they spent their time studying and practicing and preparing themselves for the responsibilities that would soon fall on their shoulders. But while Shisui took this all very seriously, devoting all of his attention to the pursuits of a young samurai, Saiga seemed to think it was a lot of fun and games, and was rarely serious, be it in swordsmanship training, historical and geographical studies, or even practice of the finer things like calligraphy and poetry. He was, in Shisui's opinion, honestly a disgrace to the name of the Ina clan and to their generation, bringing some truth to his father's harsh lectures that boys Shisui's age took everything for granted, and Shisui hated him for it.
And to make matters worse, Saiga was closer to the head of the family than Shisui. Saiga's father was the brother of the head of the Ina clan, which meant that Saiga's cousins were directly in line to run the domain. Shisui, on the other hand, was from a much more watered down end of the bloodline, and while it wasn't that he was jealous, he was absolutely appalled that Saiga behaved the way he did when he was supposed to be setting an example for those beneath him. But yet, when he was supposed to be sparring, Saiga was goofing off, and more than once, Shisui had caught him skipping practices to nap off in the shade, or else to play around with the muskets that Saiga's father kept despite the fact that using them was highly frowned upon and against the rules for most of the Ina retainers. But Saiga was blood, of course, so Saiga was special, and despite the fact that Shisui longed to give him a good smack upside the head and force him to act his age, it wasn't allowed, and so he was forced to stand by and watch at Saiga behaved like an utter fool.
But the worst of all was when Saiga didn't ditch practice or goof off or act like a clown, the worse of all was then Saiga's and Shisui's fathers (good friends that they were, much to Shisui's pleasure) came to watch their sons spar. At times like these, of course, Saiga was required to behave, and though Shisui often wondered if he even cared of adults' opinions of him, he had never seen Saiga act blatantly out of line in front of his father. And so, every once in a while, the two men would survey their sons' practices, and of course, it was at these times that Saiga actually fought, and it was at these times that always, as certain as clockwork, Saiga beat Shisui beyond even the shadow of a doubt.
It wasn't, of course, for Shisui's lack of trying! Shisui had always been faster than average, to the point that some claimed they couldn't even see him when he would slip behind them and knock them over from the rear with his wooden sword, but it seemed as if Saiga always was one step ahead of him, like Saiga could read his mind or see into the future. "It's foresight," Saiga had once informed him knowingly, "I can see what you're going to do before you do it," but that was a load of crap, in Shisui's opinion, and so he hadn't paid it much mind. Yet, refusing to believe that Saiga had superhuman powers made it all the more humiliating when Saiga beat him in duels again and again and again.
And the worst of it all was that Shisui was almost positive that Saiga wasn't fighting seriously the majority of the time that they sparred. He was fighting well, certainly, and using his head, but there was always a smile on his lips and a flourish in the way he swung his sword that led Shisui to believe that this was all fun and games to him. Which, of course, made it all the more infuriating when Shisui was the one who did things right and Shisui was the one who practiced diligently and Shisui was the one who slaved away of sword fighting theory manuscripts and Shisui was the one who took everything seriously and took everything responsibly… and so why did Saiga get to be the one who looked good, the one who always won? It drove Shisui practically insane, but since there was nothing he could do, he was left with no choice but to endure.
And just to put the metaphorical icing on the cake, since Shisui and Saiga's fathers were friends and Shisui and Saiga were just about the same age, it seemed like they had to do everything together. When Shisui was sent to deliver a message to a clan member who lived a few miles away, Saiga always appeared along with the horses, and when Saiga was sent on an errand in town, Shisui was somehow always dragged along. It was absolutely miserable, and Shisui hated it, but when it was what his fathered ordered, there wasn't a whole lot he could do about it. And so he was simply forced to endure long trips into the countryside with no peace of mind and nothing to listen to but Saiga rambling on at him without fail.
It was during one of these trips that Shisui finally snapped-- Saiga had decided that day to take a detour in their planned route that ended up taking far longer than the original route would have. Saiga seemed to think this was all very funny, but Shisui knew he'd be scolded upon his return home, that he'd look irresponsible and lazy, and the fact that Saiga couldn't even be bothered to care was simply unbearable. He'd lashed out at Saiga verbally, calling him all sorts of foul names (rude, stupid, dishonorable, a disgrace), to which Saiga had the gall to laugh. Of course, when Shisui then challenged Saiga to a duel, Saiga proceeded to clean the floor with him.
"Tell you what," Saiga had said with a laugh, offering Shisui a hand to help him up from the floor. "When you beat me, I'll do whatever you say. How about that?"
Shisui hadn't answered, and he hadn't accept Saiga's hand, either, but he had sworn to himself that one day, he would win, and then Saiga wouldn't have a choice but to do what Shisui told him.
However, years passed without much change. Even as, side by side, they became trusted members of the Ina clan's armies, Saiga remained playful and high spirited, and Shisui continued to spite him for it. And yet, still, despite how much more hard work he put into it, despite how much he strove and how much he cared, Shisui was never able to defeat him in a duel. It was maddening, to watch Saiga grin down at him and tell him better luck next time, as if it was only luck upon which Shisui was relying, not years and years of tireless training. And yet, it seemed, all that training was useless when he faced Saiga.
It was a predicament that Shisui could not seem to escape no matter how hard he tried, but there wasn't much he could do besides keep at it. There had to be a point at which his hard work would outweigh Saiga's innate skill or sheer luck or whatever it was that allowed him to win every time, and Shisui was determined to reach it. But until then, he was stuck listening to Saiga babble and watching him shoot holes in dead tree branches with disturbing accuracy and going on long trips into the countryside with him.
It was the trips, really that were the worst, because when there were other people around to distract him, other responsibilities to occupy him, Shisui could find a way to ignore Saiga somehow. But when it was just the two of them and a pair of horses for a day-long trip into the countryside, Shisui always came so much close to snapping, had to try so much harder to keep himself from doing something out of line. And over the course of being forced so close to him for so long, Shisui's patience wore so thin, and even the smallest things made him want to snap.
Even now, as they were riding along side-by-side, all Saiga was doing was humming to himself off-key, and it was enough to make Shisui want to hurt him. It wasn't something that he should have let get to him, it wasn't something that mattered in the slightest, and yet, since it was Saiga, it was grating on Shisui's last nerve. It was getting to the point that all he could think about was how much he hated Saiga, how much Saiga drove him absolutely insane with aggravation and how he was definitely going to draft a long letter to his father about why he simply couldn't do these things with Saiga anymore when, all of a sudden, he noticed Saiga tense out of the corner of his eye.
"You ready?" Saiga asked, his voice low, and Shisui didn't understand. He was trying to find a good way to ask without betraying his confusion when, without any warning, six armed men rushed from out of the bushes, surrounding them.
Immediately, Shisui was on guard, cursing himself violently for letting his attention slip in the first place. The men were dressed commonly, not bearing the crest of any of the neighboring daimyo, but Shisui didn't put it past any of them, particularly their closest rival, the Hanyuu clan, not to send unmarked assassins after them. His hand twitched at his side, ready to pull his blade at any instant, but for a moment, they remained at a standstill, until, suddenly, one of the men lurched at Saiga, and then Shisui was off his horse and with his blade drawn in an instant.
They had to be assassins, Shisui discovered a few moments into the fight, there was no way common thieves could be this well trained. Shisui had been confident that, between the two of them, dispatching three men each shouldn't have been a problem, but it became too clear after the first few exchanges that they were overpowered. His heart pounded in his chest, stomach knotted as he met blow after blow, constantly on the defensive against his multiple attackers; he had never felt this much on the line for his life before, and if he had really thought about it, he was terrified.
He managed to get one of the men in the side finally, sending him toppling over to an untimely demise, but it was at the expense of a nick to the arm by one of his other attackers, knocking him off balance and upsetting his state of mind into one closer to panic. It was then that he made the mistake of lashing out in fear rather than with calculated forethought, and it was then that one of his assailants managed to knock him to the ground.
To be completely honest, Shisui thought he was going to die. It came as a surprise when he didn't-- but then there was Saiga in front of him, his sword slicing cleanly through Shisui's attacker... and another assassin's sword buried in his shoulder. There was blood-- lots of it, soaking through Saiga's kimono sleeve and dripping down his fingers-- but Shisui couldn't be distracted, not when this might be his only opening. Using Saiga's distraction, he scrambled forward, ungracefully ramming his sword through the man's stomach, causing him to stumble, dislodging his sword from Saiga. It was easy, then, to take advantage of the state of shock the remaining three were in, and though he suffered a few more minor injuries, Shisui managed to take them out.
A sense of relief washed over him as he watched the last man lay dying, his belly cut open, and he felt numb, his limbs tingly with exhaustion and his nerved ravaged by adrenaline. Somehow, though, he had survived, somehow he had pulled through. It was only after this thought that he turned to realize that Saiga had fallen where he had stood protecting Shisui and hadn't gotten up.
It felt like hours, but somehow, Shisui managed to get him back home in a matter of minutes, slouched against Shisui's body in front of him on his horse. The whole ride, Shisui kept one arm wrapped tightly around his middle, as if, if he let go, Saiga might slip away on him-- but in Shisui's defense, by the time they got back, Saiga was barely conscious, and he might have. Shisui was a mess, words coming too fast and somehow evading him at the same time as he tried to explain to the doctors what had happened. Luckily, it was fairly obvious, and in the end, Shisui's mother was forced to escort him back to their own home and try to get him to calm down, but it was of no use. Shisui paced his bedroom for the rest of the evening, refused to eat, and was completely unable to sleep.
After all, it was his fault, in the end, wasn't it? He had been so distracted by something so stupid that he hadn't even picked up on the fact that they were being followed, hadn't been ready for the fight. And it was to save him that Saiga had gotten so badly wounded, it was because of his deficiency. As much as he had always hated Saiga... Saiga was a part of his life, Saiga was a constant that Shisui had never imagined would disappear from his life... and now, because of Shisui, perhaps he would be gone forever.
It was another two days before Shisui was finally allowed to see Saiga. For the sake of his family, he tried to act reasonable, for the sake of his own mental stability, he practiced day in and day out to keep his mind occupied, but when he was informed that the doctor was allowing Saiga visitors, everything fell away, and he was at the Saiga estate in moments.
The doctor was sitting in the next room over discussing something with Saiga's mother when Shisui arrived, but waved Shisui in. Inside, Saiga lay on his back on his futon, dressed in a thin yukata, eyes closed, and Shisui couldn't help but wonder if it really was all right for him to be here. He looked so frail, skin white and body limp, but as Shisui slid the door closed behind him as quietly as he could, Saiga's eyes opened, and even now, a smile slid across his face. "Hey."
Shisui felt another wave of guilt wash over him; Saiga's voice, even, sounded weak, and he tried to swallow back the lump in his throat as he nodded, moving to sit seiza beside Saiga's futon.
When Shisui didn't speak, Saiga shifted slightly, but winced in pain a moment later and fell back on his back with a bit of a strained chuckle. "I totally saved your ass back there. You should have seen the look on your face." It was clear he was trying to make light of the situation, but it felt like a stab to Shisui's gut, and he looked away, gritting his teeth. "I... I deeply apologize," he replied, bending to press his forehead to the tatami mats in apology. His tone was formal, but somehow, even the overly-humble apology didn't feel like enough after what Saiga had done for him.
Saiga surveyed him for a moment before shaking his head, his smile falling into a small, wry one, clearly devoid of any humour. "No, I'm sorry," he replied quietly. "Looks like you won't get a chance to beat me, after all. I wouldn't be much of a challenge, anymore."
"Don't say that," Shisui replied a little too sharply and a little too quickly, tensing. "You'll heal. We'll fight again."
But Saiga only laughed, a laugh that made Shisui's stomach drop, and he knew what was coming before Saiga replied, "My shoulder's ruined. I'm never going to lift a sword again."
He knew what was coming, and yet, somehow, the words felt like yet another blow to his stomach, and his heart squeezed painfully in his chest as the implications of that sunk in. Never lift a sword again... for people like Shisui and Saiga, that practically meant death. What was left to him in such a situation? The sword was their livelihood, their life... and though Saiga was morally acquitted from being required to kill himself, since the two of them had technically won, he would be looked down upon, talked about... all because of Shisui.
He couldn't bring himself to meet Saiga's eyes in shame and guilt, but it was then that something caught his eye-- the glint of something metallic on one of the shelves off to the other side of the room. It took Shisui a moment to realize what it was, but before his thoughts had even finished forming, he was rising, making his way over to the shelf and taking the item down before returning to Saiga's bedside and presenting to to him.
Saiga looked at him, perplexed, as he carefully lifted his good arm from beneath the covers and gingerly accepted Shisui's offering: a pistol. He gave Shisui a look of confusion, but this time, it was Shisui's turn to smile, confidence somehow swelling inside of him despite everything. "You don't need a good shoulder to fire a gun."
At this, Saiga gazed at the item for another long moment before meeting Shisui's eyes again. "...well, I guess you better be prepared for me to kick your ass again."
Shisui did not respond, but stayed by Saiga's bedside through the evening--for far longer was appropriate, really. But for all the times Saiga had broken the rules around him... he figured, it was probably all right for him to step out of line once or twice, too.