Although this story draws from my semi-AU The Teachings of Demons, it is not really necessary to have read that story (which has now grown to about three books in length). The only quirks I would note in advance are as follows: all Oni and many part-Oni have at least basic telepathy and empathy, although it tends to be limited to close physical proximity; (happily) married pairs tend to be closely attuned; Saito and Chizuru's twins are being raised as Oni.
To those who are reading ToD: this is an AU to my AU and not a definite glimpse of the future!
Written in response to a request for a story about Chizuru eventually admitting to Saito how much she liked how he looked with his short hair and western uniform. Thank you to the anon for the idea! Of course, like so many of my stories, the whole thing got out of control...
The Danger of a Man in Uniform
Chizuru woke to a gentle touch on her cheek and blinked open heavy eyelids. Her first thought was that it was unusual for her not to have awoken with her husband; however, he was kneeling beside her fully dressed, and she could tell that he had been up for some time. Her second thought was that her husband looked even more handsome than usual today, and only a strong sense of duty—and a slight, shy reserve that persisted even after four years of marriage—prevented her from ruining his neat neck-cloth by pulling his face down to hers for a long kiss.
"You were sound asleep, so I fed the twins and made sure that they were settled—for a little while, at least. Unfortunately"—and he did sound regretful—"I have to leave soon. There are a number of meetings scheduled for today…"
A glance out the window told Chizuru that although she still felt tired, it was significantly past when she normally woke up. She had a strong suspicion about the reason for her unusual fatigue, but she would know for sure in a few more days. For now, she could only be embarrassed that she hadn't been able to look after things this morning when Hajime obviously had a busy day ahead.
"I'm sorry—" she began, before being silenced by a firm kiss on the lips. Strong hands helped her to sit up—as if she couldn't manage on her own!—and dark blue eyes laughed down at her. Others might find Saitō Hajime to be a stern, even cold man, but his doting wife and children were frequently allowed to see the quiet humour that lay below the impassive exterior.
"It was no trouble, dear one," he told her, claiming a second kiss. "You obviously needed to sleep. Besides, somebody had already made sure that my clothes were in perfect order; I am quite capable of making breakfast; and you know that Chieko and Toshi are rarely difficult with me."
"They're never difficult with you," murmured Chizuru, allowing her husband to draw her to her feet and into a very pleasant embrace. "You're mussing your clothes."
This comment was apparently deemed unworthy of comment, and for a few minutes Chizuru forgot her fatigue, the slight—but telling—trace of nausea that she'd noticed upon awakening, and her various obligations for the day. She was unable to repress a faint sigh when a polite treble voice announced that mama's breakfast was ready and could she please come soon. At least the twins no longer entered their parents' room uninvited, although sometimes they would sit just outside the door and chat, which could be disconcerting.
"Try not to overdo things today just because you slept in a little this morning," Saitō told her a few moments later, as he deftly straightened his white neck-cloth and tugged on his fitted black jacket. His cheeks were rather flushed, but he wasn't so distracted that he failed to restore his raiment to perfect neatness. On the other hand, he made a point of helping his wife to arrange her obi, and his fingers brushed the curves hidden by her kimono in a way that suggested she was not alone in looking forward to the quiet hours of the late evening when the day's work was done and the children (gods willing) were asleep.
"Toshi! Come help me put the futons away while Chie-chan gets breakfast for mama."
"Hajime…" Chizuru shook her head at him. Apparently he harboured the same suspicion as she did about her possible condition—he was annoyingly observant at times—and she could only hope that he wouldn't fuss as much as he had with the twins.
"The children should be allowed—and expected—to do as much as they can as soon as they can," Saitō said loftily, nodding approvingly at four-year-old Yukitoshi as he struggled to roll one of the two futons into something resembling the appropriate shape for daytime storage.
"Yes, dear," responded Chizuru, forced to stifle a giggle at the sight of Saitō calmly instructing and assisting his miniature duplicate to complete his allotted task.
"Mama?" The small girl in the doorway might have dark indigo hair like her father and brother, but her deceptively soft brown eyes were identical to her mothers'. At the moment, her expression was stubborn, rather than gentle. "I am ready to get your breakfast like papa says an' I don't want the food to get cold."
Chizuru set aside an almost overwhelming desire to gather them all up into her arms and hold them close, but Hajime needed to go, and a small part of her didn't want to add more evidence to the checklist she could already picture in his mind. Unusually emotional? Tick. She couldn't resist dropping a kiss on Toshi's head on the way out, however.
By early afternoon, Chizuru was ready for a short rest. It was frustrating, but she knew better than to ignore what her body was telling her. If nothing else, the children would betray her to Hajime, who had raised them in the belief that mama was to be cherished and looked after at all costs, especially by Toshi. It wouldn't be so bad, except that they were very perceptive for their age, and regarded their father's word as law. Consequently, not long after they had eaten lunch, Chizuru and the twins set out a futon and settled down for a nap.
Trying to nap beside the twins was as futile as Chizuru had expected. They had all the inborn strength and stamina of the Oni, and only courtesy to their mother and duty to their father kept them more or less still for any length of time during the day. After ten minutes of listening to them whisper and giggle and make plans, Chizuru told them that she would nap and they could spend the time in the main living area with their toys and pictures.
"This is an experiment," she told them gravely. "I need you to sit quietly for half an hour. You are not allowed to go outside or into the kitchen. If you can follow the rules, then maybe you are old enough to decide how you want to spend your afternoon rest period in the future."
Human parents would no doubt think she was crazy, Chizuru reflected wryly; after all, they were only four. Then again, surely other mothers had been in her position before? While in most cases there would be mother-in-laws, sisters, and cousins to help with young children, there had to be other cases where women had raised families in more isolated circumstances.
For some reason—perhaps the sight of Toshi's short pony-tail, or the fact that Hajime had worn western clothing this morning—Chizuru dozed off reminiscing about her husband's formerly long hair, which she had always admired. She remembered how upset she'd been about having to cut it off… until she'd discovered how handsome he looked in his new uniform, with his short hair curling slightly around his ears and collar. The close-fitting clothes and soft, clipped locks had looked very, um—sexy, whispered Chizuru's mind, echoed in a not-so-subtle way by Chizuru's body.
I'm a married woman with two children and probably another one on the way. I'm allowed to think of my husband as… very attractive. He'd looked especially good in just trousers, shirt-sleeves and vest—which was what he'd been wearing earlier. The simple black and white lines emphasized his lean, muscled figure and beautiful eyes, and the way the trousers and vest had moulded to certain aspects of that figure had been—very sexy. Stop it. Count sheep. Count days. No, don't count days, it's not like you could figure out whichday this one was conceived given how often you manage to— Chizuru took a deep breath of cool early autumn air.
When they had been living with the Shinsengumi, early in their marriage, they—especially Hajime, she suspected—had taken quite a lot of teasing about how fond they were of each other. Somebody—probably Okita-san—had apparently said that he didn't object to how fond they were, the problem was how frequently fond they were. All very normal, her Oni relatives had assured her. A strong bond will produce strong children and maybe more girls. Hajime had borne the teasing stoically, of course—though he did tell her once that Hijikata-san had said that if Saito couldn't take it, he'd have to leave. It hadn't helped that the twins had been born significantly sooner than nine months after their marriage, but they'd dealt with that too. Those who mattered had known the truth of it.
Chizuru opened her eyes and stared at the ceiling. She was tired. The twins were playing happily and moderately quietly in the next room. The air was cool without being in any way cold. She should be peacefully asleep, not contemplating how her husband looked in his perfectly-tailored western clothing (Chizuru had been the tailor, most recently). She closed her eyes again, determined to rest.
She remembered one evening, not long after the switch to the western style, when Hajime had been out later than usual on Shinsengumi business… He'd returned about an hour before dawn, coat over one arm and collar already loose. She'd woken up as soon as he'd come in and seen him toss coat and cravat onto the writing desk. The next moment, or so it had seemed, the light blanket of the futon had been pulled back and he'd been kneeling between her legs, his hands sliding briefly up and over her thighs before working at the tie of her sleeping yukata. By the time that he'd pushed the thin cloth out of the way and started to run slightly calloused palms over her breasts, she'd been completely caught up in the moment—the silence, the faint light of the night sky beyond the window, and the beloved figure in the monochromatic, tight-fitting clothes with dark hair floating around his face and neck. She'd been the one to drag his lips down to hers, her other hand reaching up to work feverishly on the buttons of this vest.
Too many buttons, as she recalled. Buttons on the vest, on the shirt and even on the trousers. But he'd encouraged her the whole time with his hands and his mouth—although without words. It had been unlike him, in fact. She hadn't cared at the time. Once she'd managed to free him of his vest and shirt, and had loosened the over-snug trousers, he'd finally pulled his mouth away from her skin and whispered, "Chizuru, please."
Chizuru sat up with a groan, chagrined at having lost herself so far in nothing but a memory. She didn't need a mirror to see her red cheeks. She did her best to ignore the more obvious signs of arousal and tried to calm her mind. Hormones and that damn uniform, she decided, embarrassed.
She felt the red flush go from her cheeks to her ears and probably everywhere else when she heard her husband speaking to the twins in the main room of their modest home. I thought I'd stopped doing this years ago… In the past, she hadn't realized that he could hearwhat she was feeling at certain times, and she hadn't always been able to shield it very well. Mortified, but also puzzled—because she could have sworn that she hadn't been that far out of it—Chizuru tried to look as dignified as possible when the door slid open to admit Hajime. He was flushed, but he seemed to be… laughing? Well, laughing for him.
"I'm sorry about the boots… it seemed to be urgent," he told her, quickly kneeling down to unlace and remove the offending footwear. Naturally Saitō wouldn't wear outdoor footwear in their home except in an emergency.
"I'm sorry, Hajime, I don't know what—I mean I—I know you were working!"
Having rapidly divested himself of his footwear, Saitō sat down beside his blushing wife. "The timing could have been much worse. Please don't worry about it. All I know," he cuddled Chizuru against his chest, "is that somehow I was having a very, ah, pleasant daydream and then it seemed imperative to come home because you wanted me. Or at least wanted to see me." He pressed a lingering kiss to Chizuru's lips. "But I think it was the first."
"Oh, they're pleased I'm here. They heard you calling out for me, you see." There was an unusually mischievous look in Saitō blue eyes. "In fact, when I arrived—in something of a hurry, I might add—the twins were debating whether it would be worse to break the rule about not going into the kitchen—Toshi thought that tea might help, since that is mama's remedy for most ills—or the rule about not bothering you while you were resting—Chieko thought that you must be having a nightmare to sound so upset."
Chizuru had buried her face deeply into Saitō's jacket. How could she have forgotten how unpredictable her last pregnancy had been? And would she ever be able to stop blushing?
"But how was Toshi going to serve me tea without coming in here?" she asked instead, her voice muffled by fine black wool. "I meant, he was going to end up breaking both rules wasn't he?"
"Yes, dear one. Chieko was trying to make that point—I think—when I arrived."
"Oh… that's good." Chizuru still couldn't bear to look up.
"Chizuru. I'm not expected back. The afternoon meetings were cancelled. I've sent the twins outside to play in the yard and you know how well protected it is."
Strong hands moved her back a little, and she could tell that Saitō was shrugging out of his coat. When she still wouldn't look up, he murmured, "I had the distinct impression that you… approved of… this particular attire. Did I misunderstand?"
"I find you very beautiful, Chizuru. Also, I want you very much. I am at the point of discomfort right now and you won't even look at me."
Carefully, Chizuru raised her eyes. Soft indigo hair that seemed to beg to be touched and wound around her fingers—it was easier to play with now that it was short, although it had delighted her when it was long as well. Blue eyes, no longer laughing but intent. A warm flush high on the cheek-bones. And, of course, the clothes. A crisp white shirt with a high collar. The fitted vest. The trousers… which did look suspiciously tight.
"Will I do, Chizuru?" He slid a hand under her thin clothing and gently caressed one breast. The nipple, already hardening, became taut, and he pinched it, eliciting a soft moan from his wife. The hand slid down from her breast to her belly, warm and possessive. "Well? Another child, you think?"
"Yes, I think so. Are you pleased?" The last time—the first pregnancy—had been… complicated.
"I am very pleased. Also a little smug, even though I know that you will have to do all the work." He indulged himself with a long, deep kiss, and Chizuru squirmed slightly, feeling the heat coil even more tightly in her lower belly and between her legs.
"Hajime… it's still afternoon…" Her fingers were working on his vest buttons almost of their own volition.
"We have next to no neighbours and the twins won't bother us for a while yet. It's a little disturbing, but I believe that they're rather perceptive for young children." While Chizuru struggled with first the vest and then the shirt, Saitō allowed his hand to wander lower. Despite the awkward angle, four years of practice had taught him how and where to touch. The pad of his thumb found a rounded bundle of nerve-endings and Chizuru's breath caught with a whimper.
"I've changed my mind," she muttered, panting. "I hate these clothes." She managed to push the vest and shirt off Saitō shoulders and he managed the rest.
"Do you need help?"
"Probably. Maybe. I don't know. Damn buttons, what's wrong with ties anyway? There." Triumphantly, Chizuru pushed the black trousers down over Saitō's hips, and was rewarded with a murmur of pleasure and relief.
Wordlessly, now, Saitō discarded whatever remained of their undergarments, his hands caressing his wife and ultimately pinning her to the futon. Then he started to rub himself against the wet—the now very wet—slit between her legs. Before long they were both gasping, and the skin between them was damp with perspiration.
Saitō stilled Chizuru's movements under him for long enough to explore her other breast, both tongue and teeth eliciting soft cries of pleasure. When she started to grind upward against him, he pressed his lips against one ear and repeated a question that he'd asked much earlier in their marriage:
"Do I please you, Chizuru?"
"Yes—yes—always, I swear."
A quick thrust down and in between slick folds of skin, then a slow withdrawal that made Chizuru hum in frustration. She had wound her fingers through his hair now, and was kissing him almost desperately, hips lifting to try to compel him to return, to move faster, to go deeper.
"Please, Hajime, please…"
This time the thrust was rougher, and her lover's hands behind her pulled her onto him, making her gasp. Saitō said only her name, as he started to move faster. Feeling her inner walls starting to shudder against him, he moved one hand from behind her hips up to her breast and pinched the nipple almost painfully. Chizuru jolted against him, and her head rolled back a little, breaking their kiss. Saitō used weight and leverage to regain her lips, forcing his tongue deep into her mouth. She whimpered against him.
"Hajime… please… Hajime—ahhh!"
She wasn't going to be able to stop now. Saitō made a point of changing his angle slightly so that his weight pressed harder against her already over-sensitive nerves. When he felt her tighten convulsively around him, whispering his name, he finally let himself go, shaking with the release. "My gift to you," he'd told her once, "to see me so completely undone."
Dinner was a peaceful affair. Saitō and Chizuru had spent the last of the afternoon with Chieko and Toshi, much to everyone's satisfaction, although Chizuru could feel Saitō's eyes on her, watching for the first sign of fatigue. Naturally, the twins picked up on their father's concern, at least at some level, and Chizuru could only hope that she wouldn't have all three fussing over her for the next seven and a half months. It was a faint hope, she suspected.
Toward the end of dinner, Chieko turned to her mother and asked politely if she was feeling better now. She had already asked earlier, but hadn't seemed convinced.
"I feel very well, Chieko-chan," Chizuru told her, keeping her tone serious and ignoring the trace of a smirk that lingered—most improbably—on her husband's lips.
"That's good, mama. Um." She exchanged a look with her brother and then squared her shoulders in a way that Saitō knew only too well—in fact he glanced involuntarily at his wife, who was still watching their daughter. "We were just wondering… will it be a boy or a girl? Auntie Sen says we don't get to choose."
A/Note: I hope that you enjoyed this story. I'm afraid that I've become rather fond of the twins... As always, your feedback is appreciated!