Title: A Bit of Luck
Summary: Banri's visit shows all is not as it used to be.
Word Count: 2173
Disclaimer: Not mine, yada, yada :(
Note: Beta by the super-quick car_jack. Written for the Take it outside Challenge.
"I've missed you, man," Banri slurs. He's peering over his beer bottle at Gojyo, his eyes sliding over his face without ever quite reaching his eyes.
Gojyo looks back at his friend, trying to sense the different meanings and emotions coming through with that simple statement. But he's too drunk and his mind gives up, so he just shrugs and mumbles that he missed Banri too - because he does, or did. Seeing Banri again has made him remember how much he used to miss him and the alcohol has blurred the fact that recently, Gojyo hasn't really missed Banri at all.
He and Banri always work better together drunk; it takes the edge off things. When they're sober, they know they're two losers clinging together because at the end of the day, it's better than being alone and there's a greater chance of survival in numbers. But when they're drunk, they're a team that can take on the world and not give a shit. They're brothers in arms.
Gojyo smiles fondly, lights two cigarettes and passes one to Banri - a celebration for old time's sake. Being together with Banri brings back the memories of the stunts and cons they pulled to make a few bucks. Banri had taught him how to play cards and showed him all the tricks.
"You should play poker with Hakkai, man," Gojyo says, suddenly caught by the idea of seeing his two friends play each other, the natural and the trickster.
Banri's face distorts into a sneer. "Fuck that."
The derision in Banri's voice sobers Gojyo somewhat. He feels a pull in his stomach, a surge of protectiveness over his housemate. He looks at Banri, who's looking deep into his beer. But Gojyo doesn't want to feel pissed off, not now, not when he's with his best friend, hanging out and getting drunk, so he lets it slide.
Gojyo can never stay angry with Banri for long; even when he used to disappear for days on end, leaving Gojyo to defend their turf. Banri always came back. He always had a good excuse and some money in his pocket to share with Gojyo. Because that's what they did: they shared. They had a gang of miscellaneous hangers-on, but none of those ever stayed long. He and Banri were solid; together they ran their little part of town.
Both of them were cast-outs, street punks, used to relying only on themselves. For the first six months, Gojyo had kept part of his winnings back, hiding it in the sole of his boot, ready for the time Banri would double cross him, so he could split.
But Banri stayed with him and after a while Gojyo had gotten used to it - not being alone. One night they were drunk and Banri had told him how his father used to smack him around when he was young. Banri's father had kicked him out when he was ten, too poor to feed both his alcohol addiction and his son. The alcohol had won; Banri hadn't seen him since. Gojyo hadn't said anything, but he knew Banri knew they were in familiar territory, even though Banri had never asked him about his own family. He didn't need to. They had known each other for what they were instantly and that's what made Gojyo love him. Gojyo had gone and taken the money from his secret stash and put it on the table. Banri had laughed and told him to keep it. Gojyo had; years later he had used it as a deposit for his apartment.
Gojyo looks around him, letting the memories come full circle. Banri raises his bottle to Gojyo and grins widely, as if he has read Gojyo's thoughts. He always used to be uncanny like that. "To you and me, mate," Banri says and Gojyo repeats it, clinking his beer bottle to Banri's.
Neither has said anything about Banri's final disappearance - the time he didn't come back. Gojyo had waited for him for months, until one day he got a note signed by Banri, saying he had some big scam going on that was going to make him rich and get them both out of the slums. Gojyo had waited another few months before moving on, switching towns and starting over again - on his own. Neither of them had said anything about how much that had fucking hurt him.
Because Banri has come back. Maybe not filthy rich, but still, he is here and it's like it used to be. Gojyo lets his head fall back and relaxes into the warmth of the beer muddling his senses in comfortable mellowness, blanking out the last year.
"Looks like you've got a good thing going here," Banri says. The words bring Gojyo back to the present. He follows Banri's gaze around the room and imagines seeing it as Banri is seeing it - for the first time, not as a natural accumulation of all the moments he has spent without Banri, making his own home. It's small and in need of maintenance, but it's a home and it contains his life - a life without Banri.
And then there are the more recent touches. Now that he pays attention to it, he can see Hakkai's influence all around him: the neatly stacked magazines, the washed curtains, little things that have integrated into the picture postcard of this moment in time.
"Yeah," Gojyo says, not capable of adequately expressing the sudden sensation of time-warp as the changes in his life seem to hit him all at once. "It's been all right."
He looks back at his friend, who raises one of his eyebrows. "I wouldn't mind some of thatů" Banri smirks suggestively, conveying unspoken signals that Gojyo used to understand instantly. But right now, the meaning is left hanging in the air and Gojyo doesn't respond. Like people separated for generations will develop their own dialect, he feels he and Banri have lost their common reference that founds their bond.
The feeling runs through him like cold water and he looks away to his beer, distracting himself and shaking off the unease, reminding himself half-heartedly that escape into the past is nearby, foaming lightly inside the bottle. He downs what's left, letting it flush out the cold.
When he puts the bottle down, Banri has moved to his side of the table. He doesn't look at Gojyo, his eyes fixed on the hem of Gojyo's tank top. "Does he fuck you?" he asks.
The question is to the point, like Banri usually is. "No," Gojyo answers, honestly. It's not as simple as that, but Gojyo doesn't have to time or the willpower to try and explain it to Banri. Not when Banri is pulling up his tank top rough enough to tear a seam. Maybe he too needs to flush out the last few years.
Automatically, Gojyo raises his arms to oblige. This is part of what they are, of what they have together. Fucking is simply another thing that binds them, Gojyo has always told himself. As soon as Gojyo's top is off, the pace becomes frantic. The chair falls over as it's pushed back, nearly tripping Gojyo as he stands up. He can't suppress a giggle as he balances against the table to stop from falling over; it's a nervous laugh, masking the awkwardness that shouldn't be there. Banri smiles knowingly - possessively. Gojyo stops laughing abruptly.
In that moment he knows for a fact Banri doesn't know him at all. Their worlds have split and they're just playing pretend, some fucked-up reversal of playing house. But that doesn't change the fact that Banri's hands are familiar on his body and he succumbs quickly to their lure. He turns around and leans over the table, pulling down his trousers, shutting off the feeling that he's making a mistake.
Banri's fingers are stretching him. It's been a long time and Gojyo has to grind his teeth through the discomfort. Gojyo's mind is distracted and he loses track of time. He cries out when Banri pushes in to him but Banri doesn't stop or slow down. He's probably too far gone. Banri can't find a good rhythm, shoving into him erratically. He swears and pushes in hard in frustration. Gojyo's body protests but he ignores it.
Banri keeps on swearing, cursing Gojyo and Hakkai and a lot of other things that Gojyo can barely make out. Drunk and fucking, the pretence is breaking. What should have been a comforting reminder of what they were is turning into a display of what they aren't anymore. Gojyo closes his eyes and lets it wash over him. He lets his body take Banri's abuse while his mind takes Banri's curses. It's the best he can do. He's not even hard, but Banri doesn't pay it any attention so neither does Gojyo.
He has moved on. He has his own apartment, his own life, and in a way he doesn't quite understand yet, he has Hakkai. It's still shit on occasion, but it's something. It's something Banri doesn't have. He got lucky and the Gods have yet again proven they're not fair.
Finally Banri pulls out, the fuck having lasted only a few minutes. Gojyo turns around and watches as Banri pulls up his fly. Banri is very poignantly not looking him in the eye. The tension between them flows back and forth and Gojyo suddenly feels sorry. It was a pity fuck and they both know it now. Gojyo sits back down at the table and lights a cigarette, giving Banri his privacy and himself a distraction. His hand is shaking, but he tries to ignore it, pulling hard on his cigarette.
After a good while Banri sits down across from him, a grin on his face like nothing has happened, and reaches for the last bottle of beer. The last few months living with Hakkai has given Gojyo a whole new appreciation of facial expressions and he knows a fake smile when he sees one. It hurts recognizing it on Banri now; he wonders how many times he has missed it in the past.
There was a time they'd shared everything together - money, food, sex, security. Gojyo has lost count of the times Banri has saved his life. Gojyo wishes he could kiss his friend properly for once and let him know there are chances out there; that good things sometimes happen to shit people like them. He knows he has a good thing going with Hakkai. Somewhere in his mind he even knows he will fall in love with him. Not yet, but at some point in the future. Gods only know why he knows this, but he feels it as the truth. It's as if he has known it the moment he met Hakkai's eyes from beneath the tangles of blood-mated hair.
Now, drunk on alcohol and sore from the fuck, he feels it more strongly than ever. Banri finally looks at him and Gojyo feels the accusation of betrayal. It's not sexual jealousy. Gojyo hasn't even contemplated sleeping with Hakkai, even when he knows that someday it will happen. Or maybe it's because of this certainty that Gojyo hasn't felt the need to make any moves in that direction towards his housemate.
The fact that he can have sex with Banri so casually only reinforces the fragile basis they have between them. It never used to matter, because they both knew it was all they had. Misfits like them didn't get to play house, so they scammed and hustled and fucked each other, giving the big metaphorical finger to the world for all the shit it had put them through.
Except that sometimes, the world forgives - unexpectedly and randomly.
Banri puts his bottle down hard on the table. It's topples over, its contents spilling over the table unto the floor. Banri doesn't seem to notice.
"Fuck it, I need to crash," Banri mumbles.
"You can sleep on the couch," Gojyo says, his voice soft. He still loves Banri and he knows his friend is hurting and this time, he can't share it.
"Thanks, man. I know I can count on you."
Gojyo doesn't know if the words are meant to be deliberate. "I'm gonna-" Gojyo stops. He wants to say he's going to wait up for Hakkai, but he swallows the words, knowing even in this state he would be rubbing salt into wounds. Banri's eyes tell him he knows what Gojyo was going to say and for a moment there is hatred there and Gojyo's hair rises on the back of his neck.
But the moment passes and Banri smiles. He gets up and stumbles towards the couch. He turns away from Gojyo and pulls the blanket that Hakkai has put out earlier over himself.
Gojyo sits until Banri's snoring tells him he's asleep. He will stay and watch Banri's back, just like old times. It's the least, and only thing, he can do.