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Adoption is a Serious Business

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Adoption is a Serious Business

 

It’s always been there, at the back of his mind, but it’s something that he’s learned to ignore. Being friends with a man as great as Gintoki, as the Shiroyasha of the Joui war, as the well-loved leader of the Yorozuya, it seems only natural to harbor some sort of admiration. It doesn’t have to mean anything more. And it’s not like he ever had the time to indulge when they were younger, students of Shoyo-sensei and only concerned with how to get stronger, or when he was a teenager in the midst of a war torn Edo even if he and GIntoki had spent countless nights sleeping next to each other on scratchy bedrolls in too crowded tents.

 

After that, they went their separate ways and Katsura had to focus on building up the Joui and learning the gears to solely leading his own faction. He’d been too busy until recently.

 

It’s really only now, when he can just come to GIntoki’s door, say hi, and force his way into his life without necessarily having any other agenda than to bother the man that he’s had the time to recognize the signs.

 

Waking up shaking early in the morning, he knows where his feet will lead him. Soon, he’ll be in front of the wooden doors of the Yorozuya. He would have thought it was simply a case of needing to find a familiar face who shared a very specific part of his past, but then when he finds himself wanting to see curly white hair and dead fish eyes looking at him at the end of a tiring but regular day of training his troops and coming up with plans to bring down the bakufu, he started questioning his intentions.

 

So he began making excuses to bump into Gintoki, to visit him, and to know his clients and his missions so he knows just when exactly he could show up and lend a helping hand as well as to give himself chances to explore himself and his feelings for his long-time friend.

 

Somewhere along the way, he finds out that not only is his attraction the real deal, but that leader has seen right through him.

 

Wearing his favorite apron and stirring noodles at Gintoki’s kitchen letting the calm of domesticity settle on him and a rather revealing contentment filling him at the knowledge that Gintoki is just in the other room, he is unsurprised when Kagura walks to his side and peeks at the food.

 

“Fear not for you will not be hungry, oh fearless leader. It’ll be done in just a few.” he says with a small smile which Kagura returns.

 

“Such a reliable minion,- aru!” she exclaims.

 

Expecting that she will leave and go back to her leisurely position at the couch, he becomes curious when she remains standing there, now with a calculating look on her face.

 

“You know,” she says. “I wouldn’t mind having you as my mom. I’d even sign the papers.”

 

Katsura chuckles. “I don’t think Gintoki would approve, leader.” he replies as he adds the spring onion into the pot.

 

Kagura sniffs the air appreciatively. “Don’t worry, Zura. You won’t have to take me away from Gin-chan in the dark of night and bring me to the countryside to eat goat cheese with Cedie’s old man. Even if it’s delicious…” she pauses, saliva forming at the sides of her mouth as she imagines the taste. “You just have to marry Gin-chan! You like him anyway.”

 

Katsura sputters although he makes sure that he does so away from the food so none of his spit goes into it.

 

“I hear that the Amanto made it into a law that anyone, even two men, can marry, so you two won’t have any problems. It will even be legal and stuff, aru.” Kagura looks like she’s just solved the problem of world hunger with her sharp teeth showing in her grin but all it does is give Katsura serious palpitations and a serious case of blood rushing to his face.

 

“Leader…” he mutters, not knowing what to say to the child that looks honestly hopeful with her suggestion.

 

The sound of the flush interrupts their conversation and out comes Gintoki heading straight for the kitchen as if called by the salty and savoury smell of the cooking ramen.

 

“Oi, Zura, what’s taking so long?” he asks with a hand scratching his ass cheek and a finger up his nostril. Really, it’s a wonder Zura feels any attraction to this man at all.

 

Well, not really.

 

Katsura opts to ignore leader for the moment as he cannot find any suitable answer that wouldn’t corner him into lying or into prematurely preparing for an engagement proposal.

 

“It’s Katsura, not Zura. And if you want your noodles cooked properly, Gintoki, then it’s just taking the right amount of time.” He fakes an offended sniff and turns back resolutely to the pot trying to mask the redness of his face as the result of the heat when really, all that talk plus Gintoki’s messy hair and droopy eyes are what’s causing him serious problems. 

 

Kagura gives him a knowing look but retreats at the couch beside Gintoki and starts pestering the man about buying her the new caviar flavored sukonbu she saw being advertised on t.v..

 

His thoughts are scattered and he doesn’t understand how this could happen when he’s been in Gintoki’s presence for years. Even with the new realization, he should at least be able to control himself and be dignified about it.

 

And then it hits him.

 

He grips the ladle hard, his hands shaking because leader said she wouldn’t mind. He bites his lip because leader says he likes him. His breath turns erratic because she knows and he’s too obvious. His heart pounds fast and he can’t hear anything else because Gintoki might know it too.

 

A hand clutches his shoulder and his hand jerks making the soup splash hard, some of it managing to hit him on the face. He hisses at the burning sensation, stepping back and into the chest of the person behind him.

 

Another hand lands on his waist, trying to balance him and Katsura freezes because it could only be Gintoki.

 

The man growls at him and forcefully turns him around to face him.

 

“Shit, Zura! What’s up with your stupid head? You’re hyperventilating.” His eyebrows knit together and Zura cannot look at him in the eyes.

 

“You burned yourself.” Gintoki mutters lifting his fingers to gingerly touch the stinging spot on Katsura’s cheek. It tingles but Katsura isn’t sure if it’s because of the scalding soup or because Gintoki’s caressing him gently like he hasn’t been slashed and stabbed and punched and thrown down roofs during the war.

 

Maybe it’s both.

 

“It’s nothing.” he says, and although he tries to make it sound lighthearted, he knows that he failed because Gintoki is frowning.

 

“This,” Gintoki presses on the red skin and Katsura gasps. “is nothing. Why you have this is something.

 

What should he say? He’s not yet ready to propose after all. He’ll never be ready.

 

He tries to step back, laughing awkwardly. He opens his mouth to say some excuse about how thinking of Gintoki’s eating habits was what was making him tense but Gintoki’s hand on his waist tightens and he’s telling him without saying anything that lying is a moot point because Gintoki knows him and when it matters, Gintoki won’t let go.

 

Unless Katsura wants him to.

 

Katsura doesn’t want him to.

 

“I want to adopt Kagura.”

 

He hears choking noises coming from behind Gintoki where said girl is lounging. She probably hadn’t thought he’d actually ask.

 

To be fair, he hadn’t thought he would too.

 

Gintoki’s mouth opens and closes, which, in combination with his eyes help make the perfect impression of a fish.

 

“What the fuck, Zura?!” He exclaims after a while but he still doesn’t let go. “What would you even do with a monster of a daughter like that? How will you even adopt her without her papers?!”

 

These were all silly questions he’s not exactly expecting answers to because Gintoki doesn’t believe him. Katsura answers him nonetheless.

 

“I’ll take care of her. And I’ll marry his father.”

 

Katsura’s face is deceptively still because regardless of the burst of insanity, he still doesn’t actually know where this will go. Nevertheless, he’s somehow chosen this battle and no matter how cold his stomach feels and how hard his teeth grind, he will have to push through.

 

“You know the law allows it now.”

 

“Damnit, Zura! Are you serious?!” Gintoki’s voice is disbelieving but his eyes are holding an intensity that goes beyond that, the harsh line of his mouth ready to give him the scolding of his life depending on his answer because somehow, his answer matters.

 

Katsura smiles thinly and his hands that had been caught in between them them rise up to hold Gintoki’s shirt in a white knuckled grip. “I’m always serious.”

 

Gintoki lets out a low chuckle. “I didn’t think you have a thing for bald guys.”

 

His heart clenches and Katsura’s mouth turns down without his permission. He tries to step away because he should have known. This had never been part of his plans for a reason, and now he might have lost something important he could have kept all his life just because he wanted something it could never have been.

 

Gintoki doesn’t let go.

 

It’s cruel because he should have just let Katsura begin trying to lick his wounds after the rejection. He’d even leave them the noodles and they’re almost done now. Something good to remember him by because while he’ll always be there to help, he doubts they’ll ever be the same.

He hears a soft exclamation after a few considering seconds.

 

“Oi.”

 

Katsura flinches.

 

“I won’t let you go marry a bald old man. Giving him a wig will make him lose all his character. Heh.”

 

He breathes a soft, “Okay.” because he just wants this to be over. In his head, nothing goes through but ‘letmegoletmegoletmego’.

 

Instead, Gintoki pulls him in until Katsura’s chin is firmly on his shoulder, his chest pressed flat on the black of the other man’s shirt, and he’s not sure but there seems to be double his heartbeat as something else is drumming on the other side of where his heart should be.  

 

He nearly jumps when chapped lips brush the side of his ear and Gintoki whispers in an almost conspiratorial tone although his voice is unsure. “I hear that she has this other father though...less bald but with hideous curly hair...”

 

“I love curly hair.” Katsura gasps as his right hand finds Gintoki’s strands and slightly pulls.

 

Gintoki’s hold tightens and he groans.

 

“Call me when dinner’s ready!” Kagura shouts and bangs the door to the bedroom close.

 

Both of them get startled into moving the few inches so that they could look at each other’s bewildered, disbelieving faces.

 

“...uh...I love your straight hair, too.” Gintoki mumbles as he finally moves away and scratches the back of his head, awkward after the moment’s gone.

 

“So…” Katsura begins but Gintoki is suddenly looking at him in panic.

 

“Wait!...I know we’ve been talking about marrying Kagura’s father… I mean me...I mean -- agh! You know what I mean! But....maybe we should like...you know...date first?” he asks nervously.

 

Katsura stares at him until Gintoki is squirming and spouting nonsense about not rushing into things and doing it properly. And then he laughs and laughs until he’s hugging his belly that’s now full of warmth. Gintoki is shouting at him to shut up and to stop laughing but soon enough, he’s joining him. It was all so ridiculous after all.

 

When they’ve caught their breaths, they’re both smiling.

 

“Of course.” Katsura says.

 

Gintoki looks at him and in a second, he has his lips on and off Katsura’s.

 

Katsura is dumbfounded but then Gintoki is asking him. “Is dinner ready yet?” with a small blush and a smile he’s obviously trying to restrain.

 

He turns to the pot, red again but with no need for an excuse, and checks to find out that it’s just finished. “It’s done.” he says.

 

Gintoki walks to the table, plops down and shouts. “Kagura! Food’s ready!”

 

Her footsteps thump against the floor and she peeks at them through the doorway. “So...I have a new mom?” she asks, eyes bright.

 

Gintoki’s elbow hits the table, his face cradled in his hand. “From now on, you better say the food’s delicious or else you’ll receive a spanking.”