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36 - sordid
The new recruit's name is Yamazaki Sagaru - Sagaru written with the kanji meaning retreat, withdraw, retire, resign, repel, expel, reject - and Hijikata does a double-take at that, thinking, "What the hell kind of sordid life did this kid's parents expect him to have?!"

09 - war
They asked him at his interview, "Why do you want to join the police?", and Yamazaki had replied truthfully, "I'm a war orphan, so I don't want any others to end up like me; I'm a samurai, so I want to protect Edo with my sword," and that was when the man smiled and lit up his world.

04 - wonder
The rookie keeps following him around, saying "Hijikata-san" this and "Hijikata-san" that, and "Hijikata-san is so cool"; contrasted with Sougo's disrespect, this behavior is just as strange in the opposite direction, and Hijikata has come to the conclusion that he doesn't get teenagers at all.

20 - bane
Yamazaki chuckles nervously as the other members of his squad say, "Man, Yamazaki, since the vice-commander keeps picking on you, he must be the bane of your existence, right?"

31 - smirk
The man they call the Shinsengumi's "Demon vice-commander" has a distinctive look on his face when he's going in for the kill - pupils dilated, a nasty upward lifting of his lips that is more of a rictus than a smile - that Yamazaki finds as utterly fascinating as it is frightening.

27 - jester
He knows that he should be practicing his swordsmanship rather than going off on his own to play badminton, but sometimes Hijikata-san needs something silly to get worked up over so that he'll stop being so hard on himself for just a few seconds.

37 - soliloquy
The day he discovers that he's in love is just like any other - Hijikata comes screaming at him to get back to work, Yamazaki runs for the hills, his internal monologue pounding along just as fast as his feet, but then somewhere along the line, between tripping on a rock and Hijikata's arms coming down on him in a choke-hold to drag him back to base, the voice in his head sighs, "Ah, love hurts... literally, because I think I'm going to need a chiropractor after this."

22 - quirks
Women used to fall at his feet before they discovered his raging obsession with artery-clogging condiments; Hijikata humphed and didn't expect anyone, much less one of his subordinates, would ever be attracted to him despite that (delicious) flaw.

03 - wishes
He wishes Yamazaki would stop bothering him and find a giggly teenage girlfriend or something, but of course this wish has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he's too bitter and bloodstained for a good kid like that.

40 - solitary
The Shinsengumi work in teams and squads, but everyone knows that Yamazaki, and only Yamazaki, while technically a member of the first squad, is really Hijikata's spy, under Hijikata's direct command.

45 - natural
Yamazaki is a natural spy, able to fit in anywhere and having the kind of pinpoint intuition that's so important for delicate intelligence work, so, with that level of observational skill, it's no wonder he knows so much about the notoriously close-lipped vice-commander.

43 - nuance
Hijikata-san's left cheek twitches when he's annoyed, his mouth sets a little more firmly when his mind is on an upcoming mission, his teeth start to grind when he hasn't had any nicotine for approximately 3 hours and 15 minutes, and when his hand strays into his pocket, more often than not it's to fiddle around with his lighter - the one shaped like a mayo bottle.

18 - balloon
Someday, Hijikata knows that this tenuous string of hero worship will snap, and the kid will float away from him, disenchanted.

46 - horizon
The words rush out of his throat before he can claw them back down, "It's not hero worship because we know about all of your faults, Hijikata-san, but you're still the one whose hard work keeps everything running as smoothly as it does, the one straight and steady presence keeping us on task, and I feel so proud just being able to work with you."

05 - worry
Yamazaki hopes the vice-commander will let more people help shoulder his burden in the future, but he supposes it's good enough for now to be the only one Hijikata-san tells about some of these things.

35 - sarcasm
Oh, no, it's not disconcerting at all to have another man looking at him with genuine adoration even after finding out about the mayo, the chain-smoking, his past love life, his violent side, and even his embarrassing otaku side, no, not at all.

47 - valiant
But it really, truly, honestly doesn't make him feel good to know that his subordinate would die for him with no regrets, in the same way he would die for the commander.

17 - belief
It's a chain reaction starting from the top: Kondo believes in an idealistic world, Hijikata and Okita believe in Kondo, and on the bottom rung, Kamiyama just believes in Okita and Yamazaki just believes in Hijikata.

12 - blessing
He's just run out of smokes when Yamazaki slides open the door to his office and quietly hands him a fresh pack before settling down to help with the paperwork, and maybe, just maybe, he thinks, maybe he's extremely lucky to have this loyal idiot.

13 - bias
The Shinsengumi is splintering before his eyes, and when Yamazaki shouts to one of his (former?) comrades, "The vice-commander would never lead us astray!" the vehement responses he gets are, "You're biased!" and "Hey, since you're Hijikata's lap dog, does he let you suck his cock after you suck up to him?"

25 - quitting
Itou's faction is gaining power, aiming to take down Hijikata, but no matter how many men defect to that side, and even if Kondo-san himself abandons the vice-commander, Yamazaki will still cling on as the first and last member of Hijikata's faction.

44 - near
He's staying after again to help file more reports (but with an ulterior motive), and while they're sitting on the floor looking at the documents, his heart is pounding as he hopes against hope that Hijikata-san won't slice his hand off at the wrist when he surreptitiously scoots over and lets their fingers brush.

08 - whiskey and rum
It's a rare moment of weakness that Yamazaki catches his commanding officer in, hiding in his room with only drink and self-deprecation for company, but at the same time, he's strangely happy to be someone Hijikata-san isn't embarrassed to have helping him unload his guts into the toilet.

24 - quarrel
Yamazaki would never refuse a direct order from a superior, but it's a tense day between them when he finally snaps at Hijikata to reconsider pressing charges in a particular case, because he just knows the crime was committed by the group they're investigating.

26 - jump
So Yamazaki was suddenly surprisingly grown up, if he was able to shout back at his commanding officer, but Hijikata refuses to acknowledge that he can't glare down anymore when giving the slacker another stern lecture, because who gave that bastard permission to have a late growth spurt?

19 - balcony
They're in the castle, on bodyguard duty for the shogun, and Yamazaki has finally (finally, finally) worked up the courage to confess, so he shakily makes his way to the balcony where Hijikata is out for a smoke, but is only able to get out, "," before Hijikata mumbles, "Don't say it," and brushes past him, leaving Yamazaki alone with a trail of smoke dissipating like dreams.

14 - burning
Scooting out of Hijikata's office, Yamazaki looks both ways and tries not to blush or lift his hands to touch his lips in disbelief, but all his secrecy is for naught when Captain Okita sneakily sidles up to him and sniffs him once, then grins evilly and saunters over to see Hijikata himself.

11 - birthday
Sougo the Super Sadistic Brat walks in a few minutes after Yamazaki leaves, but before Hijikata can bark at him, he chimes in with a way-too-amused look in his eyes, "Ahh~, Hijikata-san, have you seen the new TV drama where the vice-president of a company has a mid-life crisis on his birthday and so starts an affair with his secretary?"

48 - virtuous
Yamazaki smiles and nods innocently at his "companions" as he flashes hand symbols behind his back; before the terrorists know what's coming, lights have flooded them on all sides and Hijikata is shouting, "This is the police!"

29 - jewel
There's no diamond in the rough here, only a plain black coal, but that suits Hijikata just fine, since pretty diamonds stick out too much to make damn useful spies.

23 - question
"I'll be going undercover soon - will you miss me?"

38 - sojourn
He's already been away from headquarters for two weeks, and still no sign of suspicious activity from the targets, and still no sign of Hijikata's ambiguous reply, "Just get your ass back here ASAP," leaving his mind.

15 - breathing
The inevitable happens and Yamazaki, idiot idiot idiot, gets himself discovered while smuggling out the terrorists' documents and is stabbed in the chest, because Yamazaki, moron moron moron, keeps skipping out on training and can't hold his own in a swordfight against that many people, and now Yamazaki, bastard bastard bastard, is barely breathing, and there's nothing he can do but watch helplessly as that complete and utter fool drowns in antiseptics and white walls.

01 - walking
Being laid up like this is a pain, so Yamazaki decides to take advantage of Hijikata's guilt... uh, make the best of the situation and asks, "Hey, Hijikata-san, it hurts when I walk, so can I lean on you?"

49 - victory
YES!!!, he wants to shout, I just had SEX with HIJIKATA-SAN!!!

50 - defeat
"Wipe that annoying grin off your face, Yamazaki, it's just sex and it's not like you were a blushing virgi-- shit shit SHIT!!!"

28 - jousting
Yamazaki is overly excited the first time he tops Hijikata-san, because it's gekokujou!, or so he thinks until Hijikata takes a drag of his cigarette and nonchalantly says, "I let you top because I like switching, all right?"

30 - just
Hijikata-san is having one of his "fits", so, naturally, Yamazaki takes this opportunity to just be with his lover without being punched in the face.

39 - share
When Hijikata wakes up, he's lying fully clothed on top of a sleeping Yamazaki, with a Tomoe 5000 limited edition figurine clutched in his hand and the horrible sinking feeling that Toshi has been up all night talking and sharing his feelings.

21 - quiet
Yamazaki's mouth falls open in silent horror when the vice-commander, the insensitive bastard, calls him "Jimi" in bed...during sex...during the climax...on their first day of vacation together in over a year.

16 - breaking
"I'm breaking that racket up your ass if you ever come near me with your badminton fetish ever again."

10 - weddings
In a state of frightened selfishness, Hijikata had practically begged Yamazaki to go with him to a dinner party so that the ambassadors from the Slug Planet wouldn't try to hitch him up with their slimy princess.

02 - waltz
That was how the vice-commander of the Shinsengumi and his tall and rather flat-chested, but otherwise very super-duper-uber-plain wife, Jimiko, ended up frowning at each other on the dance floor.

07 - waste/wasteland
Yamazaki is here again, in this room again, in this life - this killing ground known as Hijikata Toshirou's life, and as Hijikata runs his fingers through the curling ends of the sleeping man's hair, he can't help but whisper hoarsely, "Did I drag you down into hell with me?"

32 - sorrow
Black eyes flicker open, and they're too average-looking to glitter like onyx and too bloodshot to be anything even vaguely romantic, but there's love in them as the sleepy voice whispers back, "I chose to be here with you so I could help take away some of your pain."

41 - nowhere
"Does it bother you that our relationship is going nowhere, or that I can't fully commit myself to you?"

42 - neutral
Yamazaki shrugs, "I can't say I like it, but I accept that your priority will always be the Shinsengumi, and... well, isn't part of the reason you're with me because I'm in the Shinsengumi?"

06 - whimsy
For a moment, he flashes back to Mitsuba's smile and her gentle but carefree love, and then he thinks that he has no regrets about his choices, because Mitsuba's pure life, no matter how short-lived, could not be tainted with his bloody hands, while Yamazaki is a trained killer, too.

34 - serenade
"Hijikata-san, I wrote this for you:

Your eyes, they glint with killing intent,
Upon my head, your fist makes a dent,
But all through the night,
You fight the good fight,
Bringing peace to the city 'til the morning bell,
And I find that sexy as hell."

33 - stupidity
"Yamazaki, you do realize that I'm going to have to bash in your idiot head for that, right?"