Title: Beyond the Fog
Characters: Ishida Mitsunari/Shima Sakon; various other cameos
Rating: Slightly NSFW, no specific warnings
Word Count: ~2,600
Summary: Having won the land, Mitsunari and Sakon make themselves at home in Ieyasu's fallen stronghold.
Context Notes: A very belated birthday present to cherrytruck. ♥ Alternate history is go! The fic is based almost exclusively on SW2 canon: Yukimura's Dream (because it includes both the victory at Sekigahara and Sakon's gun accident) and Mitsunari's Dream (contains the siege of Edo and his unique fan). Well, I had to add Sakon to the latter level here. I never let him die at Sekigahara in the game (once it happened and I got so furious I replayed the level immediately TO MAKE IT GO RIGHT, and I assume he survives in such a case and Koei was just being careful about putting him in a later level in case the player doesn't salvage him). Seriously, my favourite part of SW2 is messing with that part of history and making these guys win instead. XD Any feedback would be great!
Disclaimer: The Samurai Warriors series belongs to Koei.
“So, what do you plan to do now you've won it all? Not give yourself up to pleasure and lose all sense of direction, I hope.”
“Coming from the man I had to bribe into abandoning just that kind of lifestyle”—Mitsunari smirked, aligning himself more closely with the other man, catching his breath—“that is quite the bold statement to make, Sakon.”
“Was that just bribery to you? I'd consider it an arrangement that has resulted in benefit on both sides. A sound strategical decision.”
“Mmm.” Being so close to Sakon was enjoyable, but also utilitarian—snow had blanketed the castle, in places still tarnished with the debris of battle: broken arrows, gunpowder, blood. Of this last element there had been entirely too much until now, as they'd fought to ram home the victory that, by all estimates, should never have been theirs to take.
Mitsunari closed his eyes, still seeing the treacherous faces that had come to the forefront during the past years whenever he wasn't expressly focused on something in the corporeal world. And yet, the darkness let him feel out his own vital signs in a way visual stimuli only detracted from. Then he concentrated on the wind howling muffled around the castle, his own heartbeat, and lastly on the expanse of patched-up skin of Sakon's torso. Mitsunari ran his hand over it, blindly yet carefully.
“My lord, you're dreaming again.”
“Shut up,” Mitsunari countered benevolently, snuggling up closer, not opening his eyes as he pressed the side of his face to Sakon's cheek. He wasn't wearing his headpiece now, of course; the fact that Sakon's hair was still tied back in his customary style made Mitsunari feel more exposed by comparison than he would necessarily have liked. He ran his hands up Sakon's back, up to his hair to loosen it, threading through the strands as soon as they fell free.
Sakon sighed, leaning into the touch. “Charming as always. And there I thought you'd be celebrating tonight.”
“Aren't I?” Mitsunari's tone was just a touch dangerous in that way only his friends had really learned to decode.
Mitsunari pulled away, looking properly now. “This is a celebration by my standards. I apologize for the lack of drink and music girls.”
He rather suspected that Sakon shared his tastes this time, only wouldn't give him the gratification of making that conjecture fact. Like it or not, the man was still recuperating, and when Kanetsugu and Yukimura had both declared they would spend the night feasting on any provisions available—Kanetsugu making a teary-eyed mention of Lord Kenshin and how much he would have enjoyed the wine, Yukimura promptly joining in with lofty salutations to Lord Shingen—Mitsunari gave each of them a genuinely-felt embrace and pleaded tiredness. It hadn't been a lie, not quite. He hadn't specified whose tiredness it was that needed attending to.
As soon as he had excused himself, he'd found Sakon sitting on a flat tree stump with the persistent snow covering dusted off, looking every bit as exhausted as Mitsunari had claimed to be himself.
“Sorry,” Sakon had said without preamble. “Fighting's not quite the same after you take a bullet to the gut.”
So they were celebrating on what amounted to a sick bed, adamant though Sakon was about calling it anything but. He'd helped Mitsunari undress with a kind of reverence that he only permitted himself to show when he thought Mitsunari would not notice once they had made it to a private chamber in Edo castle's main keep, and refused when Mitsunari made to do the same for him. Some kisses and a benign struggle later, they were finally holed up under some hastily-found covers on the fancy tatami. Compared to their earlier sojourns in the much less ornate rooms of Sawayama castle, this was undeniable luxury, even though they had no idea where anything was and couldn't be bothered to find out before dawn.
With a covert smile, Mitsunari pondered the idea of luxury not being limited just to decoration.
Sakon thought similarly, it seemed. “So what now? Are you going to give me this castle?”
“You mean you've changed your mind about rewards? Oh, just give it to someone else,” Mitsunari intoned, as Sakon gave a chuckle, “like something as unimaginative as a castle was all I planned to give you when I said that. I'm glad you were misunderstanding—well. You better have been.”
“Oh, Mitsunari, I'm sure the whole land is dying for your kisses. They taste like acid and overdone ambition.”
“Sakon!” Mitsunari restrained himself from jabbing the smug bastard in the ribs, suddenly hating long-forgotten Kuroda for depriving him of that satisfaction for all these bickerings to come when he fired those rifles Sakon's way and left him with a chronic ailment. But what was done was done, and so he settled for a well-placed smack on the head. It wasn't like he was endangering anything in there.
“Hey, hey.” Sakon caught his hand, pulling it to the side. “My apologies.”
“You're lucky I think you're worth more in one piece.” Mitsunari remembered the day Lord Hideyoshi had used a similar rhetoric of benevolence—affected or genuine, it was ever hard to tell with him—to accept a surrender that would benefit them in the long run. That was strategy, but Mitsunari could hardly dismiss his continued affection for Sakon as just that. Hideyoshi hadn't been such a fool. “You know the saying, after all,” he continued, stroking Sakon's hair, “about the two things greater than Mitsunari himself. The castle I could do without, but you, Sakon—”
“Actually,” Sakon trailed his hands up and down Mitsunari's spine, “the real saying concerns the two things Mitsunari doesn't deserve.”
Mitsunari's hand stilled. “You never quit playing around, do you.”
“On my honour,” Sakon declared, sounding like a poorly-executed parody of Kanetsugu but no less earnest than the real deal, “it's just that I never corrected your misapprehension when we were still struggling for power. You know where your head would have gone if I'd told you then. But now we've come out on top, it's time for you to learn the truth. My lord,” he added hastily, though failed to conceal the smugness in his voice.
Mitsunari fixed him with a stare that could have dispelled what little warmth they had in the room altogether, wondering where on earth Sakon had learned to turn his voice subtly derisive just so. Not to mention why he hadn't set a bomb on his blasted face yet. There was only so much patience a man with a temper could exercise. “And you tell me this now so I know I've won a land that laughs the moment our backs are turned?”
“Well, my lord”—Sakon smiled this time, pressing the palms of his hands against Mitsunari's shoulder blades as if anything so understated could soothe that burning passion—“it seems you'll have your work cut out for you. Prove to them we're both where we belong.”
“That may be difficult,” Mitsunari replied without missing a beat, climbing on top of Sakon as he spoke. “How do I prove someone as headstrong and arrogant as you belongs under anyone else?”
“Why, someone so headstrong and arrogant could only belong under someone who blows his own rudeness and arrogance out of the water.”
“You enjoy pushing your luck, strategist.”
“It's what got you this far, my lord.” They both laughed. Further exertion was not worth it for now, but Mitsunari would be damned if he didn't make the best of whatever he still had the energy for after this endless day. So much he'd brought about by sheer force of will. He closed his eyes and actually managed to relax this time as Sakon returned a kiss, the verbal ripostes momentarily forgotten. There were more indulgent ways to settle a score.
And it would have been worth it, after all. No one else would have been so uncompromising about having Sakon saved after he had been shot half-dead at Sekigahara. No stranger to going to extreme lengths, Mitsunari had begun his reign straight away; having won that decisive battle, there were no doctors he couldn't talk, intimidate, or bribe into devoting the care they would otherwise have not bothered to give to his indispensable strategist.
He propped himself up on his elbows so as not rest his whole weight on the other man, letting their lower bodies align in a smooth slide of skin and cloth. Another kiss and both were panting a little, though it was nothing compared to being winded from running outside in command of an army. Mitsunari looked up just at the right angle to appreciate his last spoil of war: beside Sakon's head, with stray wisps of hair softening its edges, lay a gilded fan so beautifully crafted that he had wasted no time jumping into the heat of battle for it, just to be able to carry it out of the castle in victory. He reached out and ran his fingers along its contours; this object was truly marvellous.
Sakon's hushed voice drifted into his ears. “Careful.”
“Think it's too good for me?” Mitsunari returned wryly, snapping the fan open just next to Sakon's head; the fine metal made a sound as it singing. Sakon's eyes met his over the cool edges that were perfection, before Mitsunari laid the weapon down beside Sakon's head on the mat. He surveyed both, his eyes sliding half-shut, smiling a little again despite himself.
Willpower and reward. He had salvaged his luxuries, where no one else would have been so stubborn.
Sakon's stare on him was tangible as the man replied, altogether too calmly, “No. I was just worried for a moment I have outlived my usefulness.”
“Idiot,” was all Mitsunari could spare, more hissing than saying the word as he braced himself above Sakon more securely, hands and knees planted firmly on either side. He was encouraged when Sakon took the cue to begin caressing him, up and down, and soon Mitsunari was lowering his posture further, using his elbows for support as his hands slid into Sakon's hair, under his head to lift it slightly into another kiss. A little longer and he'd be drunk on that. He started rocking back and forth, unable to keep himself from resting more and more of his weight on Sakon's body directly, and he wondered how much of his dignity it would cost in light of their previous bickering if he asked Sakon to just flip them over. To compromise—for once—he shifted on to his side next to Sakon, pulling the other man over to face him. The haphazard covers they had heaped on themselves before were beyond hopelessly dislodged by the time their legs tangled together instead.
The heat they were generating themselves was enough to be glad for. Mitsunari took up the fan again and folded it, then pushed it farther away from their spot on the floor. He almost didn't snort when Sakon looked up and asked in a conversational tone, “Precautions?”
“You'd smudge it up,” Mitsunari quipped without explaining how.
“With my hair? Come on, it's not that awful yet.”
“What about that smell of gunpowder, grease and gore?” And now of Mitsunari's fingers as well, retaining, under all the grime, the barest hint of a whiff of tea.
“At least it's poetic.”
Mitsunari ignored the comment in favour of Sakon's neck. He kissed it, followed by a light bite, all the while balancing himself precariously on one side, though he was sure that sooner or later, Sakon would tell him off for being so fussy. He gave up briefly to use one had to smooth the much-criticized hair back from Sakon's face and focus his gaze there.
He'd never asked about that scar before, and wasn't going to now. Instead of a finger, he traced it with his lips. Between him and the floor, he could discern slight tremors.
“We all need our secrets, I suppose,” Mitsunari said then, as though extracting a conclusion.
Sakon shook his head. “Aw, there's nothing much to tell.”
Mitsunari's fingers dug into his side slightly as he spoke, “I shall trust you to be the judge of that.” Hey, he'd never claimed he wasn't possessive. The only reason Sakon's habit of flirting around failed to bother him was the fact that Sakon turned into a babbling fool who could hardly hold any of his unfortunate victims' attention for five minutes whenever he launched one of his ludicrous pick-up lines. So Mitsunari let him indulge without reproach, secure in the knowledge that Sakon's ability to pick up women was far inferior to his ability to fascinate him.
What that said about himself, Mitsunari scarcely wanted to ponder. This same man was a strategist he'd been willing to give up half his stipend for. Not to mention he was one of the few people in whose company Mitsunari delighted. (He wasn't going to say delighted the most, because the number of those he felt any delight with could be counted on the fingers of one hand, in itself enough of a distinction.) Whether Sakon was even truly trying when it came to his ostentatious but almost uniformly fruitless flirting was a question well on its way towards puzzling Mitsunari for the rest of his life.
They kissed again, gliding together slowly. Sakon was the one to speak up next in a hushed voice, “Well, look at you. Turning me away from a life of indulgence to a life of early rest and tea. My lord, sometimes you make me wonder.”
Mitsunari chuckled, felt rather than heard his own voice crack with pleasure. “We can have a tea ceremony in the morning.”
“That's what you call a—”
“You have a problem with my idea of a good time?” Mitsunari supported that with a long shove of his hips against Sakon's, riding the ambiguity. He'd never say out loud how amazing it felt to be able to do that without an immediate danger looming over them; maybe it didn't need to be pointed out at all, anyway. He was closer to finishing than Sakon, that he could tell, but there was no way he'd hold back from anything—not tonight, not anymore. Lifting himself on one elbow to relieve his weight a little, he kept grinding, pressing closer until even his face was nuzzled into Sakon's neck. At least no one else was ever seeing him like that.
He came gasping, and before he knew it he was taking advantage of his position to kiss everywhere he could reach without moving, not to mention lending his free hand to Sakon, as it were. Mitsunari slipped to the side, keeping only one of his legs draped over Sakon's thighs; it may have been uncomfortable to remain twisted in such a way, but now he wouldn't abandon that post for the world. Good thing Sakon's body language was so straightforward. He listened to the way Sakon's breath grew ragged as his own hand picked up its pace and, for a while, that was enough.
This was enough.
Lying together moments later, both lulled into a state of exhausted insomnia that should not have been as comfortable as it was, Mitsunari allowed himself a remark that didn't cross his lips often.
“I owe you my thanks.”
And the land around them slept.