title: 静かな賀宴 (shizuka na gaen; a quiet banquet)
pairing: Shisui/Saiga (Sano Daiki and Washio Noboru’s characters in Samurai Mode)
word count: 2,080
author’s note: This is set about a year after the end of the Vol. 15 Samurai Mode saien from 2016 (which is subtly different from the original 2008 version). Most of the backstory in here is just my personal headcanon for the saien, so my apologies if it’s confusing. The title is a play on the kanji that I chose for their names (since *pnish* has never given kanji); in my heart, Shisui is 静水 and Saiga is 才賀 . The saien really just stole my heart, so I wanted to write a little something about one of my favorite *pnish* pairings. ♥
summary: Saiga doesn’t think it’s immaturity that finds him coming back here night after night, and he doesn’t think Shisui would say it was either, which is, perhaps, what makes the current state of affairs so complicated.
The overgrown path around to the back of the temple, shadowy and moonlit now in the dark of the night, is familiar and welcoming now, Saiga thinks as he lets himself through the side gate and through the leafy plants and tall grass that have grown unhindered around the stone steps that form a walkway towards the private garden that Saiga knows lies ahead. This area is technically closed off to the public, but Saiga isn’t just anyone, and besides, he’s been back here so many times before that it would be laughable if anyone at this temple made any effort to keep him out at this point, anyway. The plants close in behind him as he passes through, almost like a curtain, falling into place in the doorway to the outside world behind him, and while Saiga has never been very good at poetry, he can’t help but smile a little to himself at the romantic metaphor. This place is like a bedroom, a private space to him anyway, so it’s fitting.
Eventually, the overgrowth subsides into a row of bamboo trees, the farthest edge of the forest around the temple, and when Saiga steps around them, he’s greeted with a familiar sight. But no matter how many times he’s here, no matter how many times he sees this view, it will always draw a smile to his lips and a warmth to his heart, and so he pauses a moment to fully appreciate the sensation before schooling his expression into a more characteristic grin and raising an arm to wave at the solitary figure seated on the veranda before him and calling out, “Oi~ Shisui~!”
He knows Shisui has known that he was here since long before he spoke; Saiga isn’t exactly the sneakiest person on the earth when he’s not putting his mind to it, and it doesn’t take Saiga’s level of foresight to be able to predict that Saiga will come the same time tonight that he does almost every night, like clockwork, ever since their paths parted ways for the first time in their lives a year ago. It’s a complicated topic that Saiga doesn’t really like to think about, but at any rate, the routine of the thing is nice and comfortable, just like the fact that Shisui always waits to acknowledge Saiga until after Saiga has spoken. Shisui has never been a particularly vociferous person, but becoming a monk has possibly made him even more quiet, and so he doesn’t speak in response, but opens his eyes from his formerly meditative stance and regards Saiga in what, to any other person would probably be an unremarkable gaze, but Saiga has come to learn is nothing short of loving.
He smiles and meets Shisui’s eyes for a moment before approaching, holding up the bottle he’s brought with him. “I brought your favorite junmai-shu to help you relax after a long day of… what is it that monks do again~?” he teases as he makes his way to Shisui’s side, kicking off his sandals and joining him on the veranda. Shisui looks at him in that way he always has when Saiga makes bad jokes but says nothing; it’s a sign of how much Shisui loves him, Saiga likes to think, that he never complains. He’s technically not supposed to be indulging in alcohol, either, but Saiga knows that Shisui will make an exception for him, just as he does almost every day.
He pours the sake in comfortable silence; despite being a generally boisterous person himself, Saiga couldn’t possibly have come almost twenty years in a relationship with Shisui if he couldn’t handle silence. When they were younger, sometimes it made him uncomfortable, made him want to laugh and talk and prompt Shisui more than ever to fill the void, but now he can tell what Shisui is thinking without words, now he knows that sometimes Shisui’s silence can convey more love and affection than words ever could. They’ve both grown up into themselves and their relationship since their volatile teenage years, like two adjacent trees that become one over time, Saiga knows that his and Shisui’s personalities and thoughts and emotions are, at this point, irrevocably intertwined… which has made the past year so difficult, even if, when they’d come to the decisions that led them to where they are now one year ago, they’d both thought they were adults who could certainly handle following their own path and moral compass. But Saiga doesn’t think it’s immaturity that finds him coming back here night after night, and he doesn’t think Shisui would say it was either, which is, perhaps, what makes the current state of affairs so complicated.
“You’re well?” Shisui asks at length after they raise their cups and drink in silence, but Saiga knows that it’s not simply a formal greeting, and even if he hadn’t felt confident in that fact after all his years with Shisui, the warmth in his gaze as he looks at Saiga out of the corner of his eye says it all, really. He knows that Shisui, now out of the danger of battle, worries about him underneath it all, but right now, it’s not fear of injury or death that plagues him.
“Well…” Saiga replies, at length, and then immediately feels a little guilty when Shisui’s gaze locks onto him, hot and intense at the implication that all is not well with Saiga. It’s not that anything is wrong, but things aren’t exactly right, either, and even Saiga, usually so confident and assured, needs a moment to collect his thoughts before continuing.
And so, “I can’t complain,” he assures, smiling at Shisui for a moment before turning his gaze to the temple’s back garden, staring out into the bamboo and the small pond and the rocks all awash in moonlight, “But… I’ve been thinking that maybe it’s time for me to retire.”
He can tell by Shisui’s carefully restrained lack of reaction that Shisui is surprised; he says nothing for a long moment, but Saiga can practically feel the confusion, equal parts worried and hopeful, radiating off of him no matter how much Shisui struggles to tether in his feelings. But this is how they’ve always been, this is how they’ve always communicated, and so he waits it out until Shisui finally asks, his tone deliberately calm, “What will Hanyuu Ryoumei do without his most trusted general?”
Saiga laughs; there’s just something about being with Shisui, in all of his indirectness and stiff self-discipline that just makes him happy, happy to have spent his life with Shisui, happy to have come to understand Shisui, happy to be the one for whom Shisui will make exceptions without a word. He supposes if he were better at poetry, he could write a waka about it, or something, together in the moonlight and steadfast as the stone steps, but he’d much rather simply enjoy love for what it was than attempt to contrive words to broadcast it to the world, and despite how much crap Shisui had given him for not paying more attention to the finer pursuits of being a samurai when they were younger, he thinks that now, Shisui would agree.
But perhaps in the future, they actually will have time to do things like that together in a way that Saiga had never imagined in his youth, and so he takes another sip of his sake and sets the cup back on the wood of he veranda before replying, “There is that… but I was thinking, you know, Namikiyo is getting to that age where he could probably take on more for himself…”
He’d started the sentence looking out into the garden, but he can’t help but turn his head a little to glance at Shisui by the end, and he’s delighted to find that Shisui is smiling just the tiniest bit, in a way that probably no one else would notice, but to Saiga, it’s glaringly obvious. Shisui knows that Namikiyo is almost like a son to Saiga, after Saiga had saved him from a battle with the Hanyuu where Saiga had been forced to kill both of Namikiyo’s biological parents, Saiga had, in some part, raised Namikiyo practically from infancy, and while Shisui’s relationship with him hadn’t ever been as intimate, Shisui had always listened attentively when Saiga had gushed about Namikiyo’s accomplishments, and Saiga knows that Shisui is happy for him whenever something good comes Namikiyo’s way.
Of course, Shisui is also a realist and a pragmatist, and so Saiga hesitates a moment, halfway expecting Shisui to comment that Namikiyo is only a teenager and isn’t ready to take over to Saiga yet, but no such admonition comes. Perhaps because Shisui knows Saiga knows everything about Namikiyo and Saiga’s own situation better than Shisui possibly could from afar, or perhaps because Shisui is confident in Saiga’s ability to set his parent-like pride and emotion aside and assess Namikiyo’s skills without letting his feelings get in the way, but whatever the reason, he simply looks out into the garden before replying, “And what will you do when you retire?”
Saiga knows they both know what Saiga has in mind, but while Saiga has always loved to cut to the chase and speak for Shisui when he knows what Shisui is thinking, Shisui’s way has always been to let Saiga speak for himself, and while sometimes it feels frustratingly roundabout and inefficient, at the end of the day, it’s just another thing about Shisui that Saiga loves. And right now, it feels right, somehow, to say it out loud, to announce his intentions personally, and so he shrugs and looks out into the garden as well before replying, “I was thinking it might be kind of nice to become a monk.”
It’s a ridiculous statement for a plethora of reasons; for one, Saiga has never been one for silent reflection or meditation, and for another, he’d been born a samurai, spent a lifetime as a samurai, and had always intended to die a samurai, but they both know that it’s not really about the career choice even in the slightest. When Saiga glances to the side at Shisui, he’s surprised to find that Shisui is looking back at him warmly, and he can’t help but drop the pretenses of nonchalance and grin back. Perhaps Shisui is getting soft in his post-samurai years, or perhaps he’s missed Saiga’s constant presence more than he’s let on in the past year, or perhaps he, like Saiga, feels equally that there’s no point in dancing around their emotions at this moment, but frankly, Saiga doesn’t really care. The feeling that swells in his chest at the loving look in Shisui’s eyes is both as intoxicating as the sensations he’d had around Shisui as a teenager and as all-encompassing as the unwavering love he’d felt in their last years as generals together, and a large part of him wants to throw all decorum to the wind and kiss Shisui like they used to kiss back when they were younger and wilder. But no matter how freeing the admission that maybe he was wrong, maybe his decision a year ago hadn’t been right for him after all, these are still different days, and so he simply smiles and feels his heart burst into a thousand poetry verses inside of him as Shisui replies, “We’ll welcome you with open arms.”
“I’ll be looking forward to that, then,” Saiga replies, unable to fight the stupid grin off his face, “And to the wild welcome party with lots of booze and loud music that comes along with it, right?”
It feels good to watch Shisui roll eyes eyes with a smile on his lips at the horrible joke, just like things are normal, just like things are right. And, Saiga thinks as he leans closer to rest his head against Shisui’s shoulder, fitting neatly into his side like a puzzle piece, perhaps they are.