Katsura woke up. He could feel his stomach where he was cut, and he grimaced. He looked around. He saw Takasugi lying next to him, still breathing, in some sort of barracks. He looked at his other side, and he saw the blood stained Gintoki lying propped to the wall, the sword hold reminiscent of how he always hold it during classes.
Katsura tried to get up, but the pain was quite strong. This will take a while to heal. He could feel the hand on his shoulder.
“You should rest.” said Gintoki, as he slowly pushed him down. Even thought his grip was firm, there was not a lot of pressure applied, but it was still enough that Katsura was not be able to resist. He must have been hurt more than he imagined.
“This blood…” Katsura started.
“Is not mine.” Gintoki said.
Katsura looked around now. They were in what looked like a barn. “Where are we?”
“Barn. The farm and the village nearby were all burned down.” Gintoki said, as he stood up, and went to pick up the bucket. He came closer and Katsura noticed that it was full of water. He took some of it, and helped Katsura get up a little, so he could drink it, before playing him back down.
Gintoki looked at Takasugi, who had yet to wake up.
“Is he alright?” Katsura asked. “What about the rest?”
“I would say a couple of broken ribs, two back slashes and a dart in the left leg. But he will live. Probably.” he said. “He was still conscious when I came.”
Katsura noticed that he refused to say anything about the rest of the people there, so he could already imagined what happened. He hoped that Takasugi will also pulled through.
Katsura’s stomach growled, and Katsura grabbed it. Sure, he might have been stabbed in there, but he guessed that it does not negate the effects of hunger.
Gintoki looked at him, then took the sword. “I will go check if there is something eatable around.”
Before he gave Katsura any time to protest, he already left. Katsura looked up. Not like his protests could achieve anything now.
He did not know how long was he lying there, until he noticed a subtle moving next to him. He turned and noticed Takasugi opening his eyes and looking around. He tried to get up, but he could not.
“Takasugi.” Katsura called, and Takasugi turned his head to the side, their eyes meeting.
“Katsura, you are alive.” Takasugi said. “What about Gintoki?”
“Went to get something to eat.” Katsura said.
“I see.” Takasugi said. He put one hand up, and covered his face. “Katsura, do you ever wonder why he continue to stay in the war?”
“For teacher?” Katsura replied, but he knew that this is the wrong answer. “I never know what is going it that head of him.”
“He should not have come.” Takasugi said. “But he did.”
Katsura started to wonder what Takasugi was talking about. Did something happened on the battlefield that he does not know about? “But that is who Gintoki is.”
“Yes.” Takasugi said. “I guess you are right.”
They were in silence for a couple of minutes, when Gintoki came back. As soon as he came, hands full of plants and rabbit, he noticed Takasugi. “You awake?”
Takasugi rolled his eyes, but he was quiet. He noticed the blood on Gintoki’s clothes. His eyes narrowed, but he had not said anything.
Gintoki came closer, and he put his hand on Takasugi’s forehead. “It seems like the fever went completely away.”
“Fever? What fever?” Katsura asked. He now did sit up, no matter the pain.
“What does it matter now. It is gone, right?” Takasugi replied. Katsura would be the one being hurt the most by that truth, and he did not want to tell him now.
Katsura looked at Gintoki, who just shrugged and went to make a fire.
He then found another mental bucket, and preparing the fired rabbit and what looked like some sort of vegetable soup. He ended up putting the rabbit in the soup anyway.
They were both watching Gintoki at his work. Since they started the war Gintoki always surprised them with the practical knowledge. Where to find food. What to use instead of a more traditional medical practices. Where to hide. How to quickly kill people.
Gintoki eventually took the three bowls from the ‘pile of stuff’ in the corner, and three spoons. He filled two bowls, put the spoons in them, and then helped Katsura and Takasugi sit up, making them lean on the wall. He then put the bowl in each of their hands, before making taking his portion as well.
They were all eating in silence. As always, Gintoki’s cooking wasn’t bad. Even with the lack of ingredients.
They were all on their third bowl, when Katsura smiled at him. “We are quite lucky to have somebody like you, Gintoki.” he said.
Gintoki looked down at his bowl, taking another spoonful.
Katsura and Takasugi both looked at each other. It was quite unusual for Gintoki to not have a comeback for things like that. Then Takasugi asked: “Where did you learn all of that?”
Gintoki stopped eating, and he seems to be just looking at the bowl in his lap now. They spend more than a minute in a tense silence like that.
“You don’t have to tell us.” said Katsura, as he tried to laugh. But the pain was not conductive to that. “As long as you know it now.” He looked at Takasugi, but he just looked at him, since he did not know what to do.
“The first memory that I have is of me killing people.” Gintoki started. He still did not look up, but that does not mean that the two pairs of eyes were not putting on their intention in him. “I don’t even remember why. Could be because they wanted to take my food away. Or because they thought I was a alien spy. Or a human one, it did not really matter.”
Gintoki talked in a nonchalant voice, but his body was tense. Both Katsura and Takasugi knew that he will stop talking as soon as he was interrupted. But it also seems like he need to tell it, so they stayed quiet.
“You quickly learn stuff like that.” Gintoki said. “What you can eat. What you can drink. How to stop others.” Gintoki now laughed, but there was no happiness in the laughter. “I met Shouyou when he went and checked the rumors about a flesh eating demon. I still don’t know why he offered me to come with him.”
Gintoki then looked up. "But that is the past, so why be bothered by it.”
“Gintoki.” Takasugi said.
Gintoki looked at him, but Takasugi only indicated with his head to the left.
Gintoki came closer. “What do you want now, midget.” He keeled down, looking down, but then he could fell two heads on his shoulders.
“This is no way to talk the the patient, Gintoki.” Takasugi said. “It can slow my recovery.”
“I am tired.” said Katsura, and he tired to act as a drama queen. “I am quite unsatisfied that I need to continue sitting.”
Gintoki glanced at both of them and he sighed. “You two are way too much work, you know that?” he said.
He helped them both lie down, but when he wanted to go to clean the dishes, the two pairs of arms pulled him down. They both put their head on Gintoki’s shoulder, and they looked up at him.
“You two realize that there is still fire burning, right?” Gintoki asked.
“It is not like it will kill us.” Katsura said. “We have battled a lot stronger aliens, there is no way a fire will defeat us.”
“It is that attitude that will get you kill by something weird.” said Gintoki. “You will see, one day you will be killed by a huge white penguin-like monster.”
“Something like that doesn’t exist, Gintoki.” said Takasugi. “And it is not like we plan to fall asleep.”
Gintoki relaxed, as he figured out he can’t win.
Gintoki, the one person that never says anything about his past to the people not in the know is going to start explaining to Katsura and Takasugi about the times before he met Shouyou? But Takasugi did know (last frame on page 15, chapter 520 shows that). So then I needed to write this, so I could make some sense into it (and I still could not).