Chapter: 1 - Ace of Wands
Author: Aeneus (aeneus111 (at) hotmail (.) com)
Summary: Cho Gonou enters Sanzo's life, turning it upside down. Sanzo needs to cope with the aftermath.
A/N: Written for the 78_tarot LJ community. Betas: lirannutian and darkfire_blade <3
Wands in Tarot represent the element of Fire and signify passion. It stands for ambition, career, creative endeavors, religion and/or philosophy. Anything a person might put their energy and soul into, such as teaching and leadership. It is something that burns inside of you and you need to act on it.
The Wands will be represented by Sanzo.
Disclaimer: All of these characters belong to Kazuya Minekura. This is written purely for my own entertainment and hopefully that of others. Tarot cards can have complex meanings. I've picked the elements that best suited the characters and storyline.
Sanzo awoke with a start. His heart was beating fiercely and his skin was sticky with sweat. He tried to breathe slowly to get himself under control. He concentrated on the ache in his body - willing it to subside. But the dream still lingered, distracting his efforts. The image of Cho Gonou burned in his mind. He threw the tangled blankets off the bed and shook his head angrily. He knew he had an erection, but stubbornly chose to ignore it.
He sat up and coerced his legs to fold under him. Maybe meditation would help. He'd done it enough times before, he could do it again. He breathed in deeply and tried to force his mind to clear. But his mind wasn't in the mood to cooperate. Nor was his body as his erection throbbed pitifully, begging for attention. The surge of desire turned the priest's stomach. Sanzo scowled and doubled his efforts. He wasn't going be defeated by his own unruly thought processes.
It took a long time; much longer than usual for his body to finally comply. Once Sanzo was convinced it was safe to move, he carefully unfolded his legs, grateful to find that his erection had dutifully subsided. There was no use trying to go back to sleep. Besides, he needed a cigarette.
The priest climbed out of bed and effortlessly found his pack and lighter in the dark. He sat down by the window. The clouds obscured the light of the moon, leaving everything outside in pitch black darkness. The tip of his cigarette reflected sharply in the windowpane every time he took a drag. He was tired but he didn't want to go back to sleep. He sighed and closed his eyes. Why couldn't he get Cho Gonou out of his head? The mass murderer had him puzzled. Sanzo remembered the look in his eyes: a man haunted by the things he'd done; a man ready to die. Gonou might have survived long enough to return to Hyakugan Maoh's castle to search for his sister's body, but Sanzo wasn't convinced Gonou had truly regained his will to live. Sanzo wouldn't be surprised if the Three Aspects ordered the youkai's execution, Gonou himself wouldn't object.
Even though Sanzo knew that possibility was out of the question, the mere thought of losing Gonou filled him with sudden overwhelming dread. If there was one thing Sanzo didn't like, it was feeling overwhelmed. He shook his head again and angrily took another drag from his cigarette. Why should he care? He looked outside, but the darkness offered no distractions.
The first time Sanzo had laid eyes on the criminal he'd been caught off guard. The unidentified surge of emotion had startled him. Enough to lose his fucking gun and end up floored by that empty headed half-breed. Cho Gonou hadn't been at all like Sanzo had envisioned a murderer would look like. But then again, Sanzo wasn't really in a position to judge.
Gonou looked….kind. Almost…vulnerable. Sanzo groaned and lit another cigarette. He questioned yet again why the Three Aspects had sent him on this mission. Did they have anything do to with his sudden turmoil? If they did, he sure as hell would never forgive them.
He hadn't spoken much with the criminal when he escorted him back to the temple, putting all his efforts in pretending not to care. He hadn't even dared to look Gonou in the face. He couldn't stand the heat he felt when Gonou's eyes looked back at him. Even when those eyes looked dead. It made him wonder how his own eyes looked; what Gonou thought of him. So he had looked away instead. When the monks had put shackles around Gonou's wrists, he had asked them not to. Even though he knew it was procedure. Had he betrayed himself then? Could anyone tell the sight of Gonou's hands made him wonder: had those hands really killed a thousand youkai? What would it feel to have those hands touch his skin?
Sanzo shivered. He'd never had those thoughts before. When he'd kneeled before the Three Aspect and had pleaded Gonou's case, had they known? Was it written on his face? He wanted Gonou to stay. Near him. He had to find out why he was feeling this way. Gonou hadn't pleaded for himself. Merely recounted the facts of what he'd done. Sanzo had sat there listening. Hearing how Gonou had taken his sister as his lover and he couldn't help but think: what was it like to be loved by a man like that?
He heard how Gonou had killed all the villagers; then the entire Hyakugan Maoh clan and he couldn't help but think: what had it been like to see that beautiful face in such a rage? By right Gonou deserved to be punished. But no one knew how long it would take before the Three Aspect reached their verdict. In the meantime Gonou was confined to the temple. Sanzo thought of the other man asleep in the temple's temporary prison cell. The longing to see him made Sanzo's throat burn.
This couldn't be real. It shouldn't be real. A woman maybe, he could understand. He knew these things happened. It simply hadn't happened to him yet. But no man should trick his body into such a yearning. And Gonou was just a man, Sanzo reminded himself. And a criminal as well. Sanzo had no need for desire. It was a distraction. He shouldn't care.
But then why did he feel this burning need to save him?
Loud knocking on the door woke him. Sanzo had fallen asleep in the window seat. A dead cigarette bud was still clutched between his fingers. A neat pile of ash was on the floor next to him.
"Sanzo! Is it time for breakfast yet?" Goku's voice sounded through the door. Ignoring the monkey's pleas Sanzo stretched his legs and padded over to the bathroom. Early morning light illuminated the room, dispelling the unrest of the previous night. Sanzo could almost make himself believe it had all been a dream. Just a dream. He took a leak and splashed water on his face.
"Come on, Sanzo! I'm hungry," Goku's voice continued. The familiar routine soothed Sanzo's nerves. He pulled open the door, freezing Goku in mid-knock.
"Calm down," Sanzo grumbled. "You'll wake up the whole temple with your racket." Goku bounced into the room, as always oblivious of Sanzo's morning temper.
"Wait here while I shower."
Goku plopped down on the bed. "Will we see Gonou today?" he asked as Sanzo closed the bathroom door once more. The name flared through Sanzo's body. He turned on the shower, drowning out Goku's voice and cooling the sudden heat from his skin. There was no reason for him to see Gonou. Not until he was summoned back to the Three Aspects. Sanzo had brushed off the redhead the day before. He had enough to deal with without that idiot hovering around.
Sanzo finished his shower and took his time putting on his robes. Maybe it was for the best he didn't see Gonou. Now that he thought about it, he was sure he simply needed some peace and quite to calm his thoughts and surely everything will turn back to way it was. Before Gonou.
He exited the bathroom. Goku already had his mouth open for another question or comment, but Sanzo held up his hand to stop him. "Lets get you some breakfast," he sighed. Goku immediately broke into a smile and happily followed Sanzo to the dinning hall.
The rest of the day continued uneventfully and Sanzo could almost convince himself he had imagined the whole thing. It wasn't until later in the evening that a monk called on him. Gonou had asked to see him.
Sanzo breathed deeply and followed the monk. Surely his earlier confusion had subsided sufficiently and he could deal with this normally. Of course he could. So he told himself all the way through the temple, until they arrived at the prison cell. He was shown inside the small room and saw Gonou sitting on the bed; the only furniture in the room.
Gonou looked up as he entered. Sanzo froze. A dizziness rose up from his stomach and he had to force himself to keep on breathing. Thank Heavens Gonou looked away, giving Sanzo a precious moment to get himself under control. His skin felt hot and he hoped feverishly he wasn't blushing. "You wanted to see me?" he asked as he fumbled for a cigarette.
Gonou smiled. "Yes, I'm sorry if I've inconvenienced you."
Sanzo lit his cigarette and waved his hand dismissively. The room was small, leaving little distance between them. Sanzo leaned against the wall, focusing his eyes on the floor.
"You see, I wanted to thank you for pleading for me yesterday. I wasn't sure if I would see you again. I don't know what will happen next. Frankly, I can't say I really care."
"That's stupid," Sanzo grumbled. He didn't like hearing the defeatist tone in Gonou's voice.
"What ever happens, you've got your life. You might as well live it."
Gonou remained silent for a moment. Sanzo's eyes crawled up Gonou's legs and settled on the youkai's hands folded neatly in his lap. He noticed the long delicate fingers. That was it. Gonou did have a sort of delicacy about him. Maybe that caused his body to be confused.
"I guess I should expect an answer like that from a priest."
Sanzo made a dismissive sound, hiding the tightening feeling in is chest. Right now he felt less of a Sanzo than ever before.
"You must disapprove of my actions."
Sanzo didn't know if Gonou was referring to the incest or the killing. He wasn't about to ask for clarification.
"I don't care about that." Sanzo meant it. He didn't care what this man had done up to the moment he first saw him. Truth be told, he didn't care about much of anything besides being less than four feet away from this man and wondering what it would be like to be even closer. "You've got to live your life the way you see fit. It's no use trying to live it by somebody else's standards. Believe me."
Sanzo's eyes had finally made it up to Gonou's face. The man looked pensive.
"Have you ever been in love?"
Sanzo choked on a bout of cigarette smoke. Al least the subsequent coughing fit hid the flush of heat spreading over his cheeks.
"My apologies. That was too forward of me. It's just that, maybe then you would understand what it's like to lose all you've cared for."
Even though the youkai's facial expression hardly changed, Sanzo felt the wave of sadness. Far in the back of his mind it occurred to him most people would offer some form of comfort in situations like this. He might possibly put his hand on Gonou's shoulder. Or maybe even sit next to him and put his arm around him. But the possibilities paralyzed him. He'd never done anything of the sort. Not even with Goku. He didn't like to touch people.
But Gonou didn't know him. And there was no one else here to see them. Maybe he could try be that kind of person. He imagined reaching out his hand and touching him. Probably the shoulder would be best, though his mind quickly jumped to imagining touching Gonou's cheek, running his finger along his jaw line and up to his lips…
Sanzo leaned slightly forward, the muscles in his arm twitching in anticipation.
"I'm sorry if I've offended you," Gonou said as he looked away and barely noticeably composed himself. When he looked back his face was a blank smile.
Sanzo dropped his arm.
"You haven't," the priest mumbled. "Get some sleep." He knocked on the door and was let out.
It was two days later when the call came that the Three Aspects had reached their verdict. It that time Sanzo had spoken with hardly anyone. Except for Goku, everyone had sensed his foul mood and stayed clear.
"Can I come with you?" Goku pleaded when the monk had come to summon Sanzo.
"No," Sanzo responded tersely while he murdered his cigarette stub in the astray.
"Please, I wanna see Gonou. He's been really nice to me," Goku whined.
"Shut up, stupid monkey," Sanzo cursed.
Miraculously, the monkey stayed quiet. It wasn't till Sanzo was half way across the temple that he realized he'd forgotten to hit Goku with his fan.
Gonou was waiting for him at the entrance of the Hall of the Three Aspects. The first thing Sanzo noticed was that his wrists were shackled again. Sanzo didn't comment on it this time and simply nodded to the monks guarding Gonou that they could leave.
"Here we are again," Gonou remarked. His smile hinted at an attempt at lightness, but Sanzo was hardly fooled.
"Don't worry about it," Sanzo mumbled, wishing he could light a cigarette. But even Sanzo wouldn't go as far as to smoke before the Three Aspects.
"Oh, I'm not," Gonou replied. Indeed the youkai looked quite relaxed. A lot more than Sanzo felt that moment. The sight of Gonou waiting patiently next to him only made the knot in his stomach tighten uncomfortably. Quickly Sanzo looked away and opened the doors to step inside.
Sanzo had given up trying to figure out the Three Aspects long ago. He simply kept his head bowed and listened to their decision. It was more lenient than he'd expected. It would mean he'd stay in contact with the man. A thing that filled him with both gladness and terror. He was very aware of Gonou's presence next to him and wondered what he was thinking. Was he happy or disappointed with the verdict?
As always there was nothing to be read on the man's face. As they exited together Sanzo was still trying to order his thoughts. He removed his crown and put it back inside his robes. He didn't like wearing it in front of Gonou.
"You're a free man," Sanzo said, since Gonou hadn't spoken a word yet.
"Under your supervision," Gonou added.
"Tsk." Sanzo didn't quite trust himself to comment on that particular arrangement; afraid any answer would be exposing too much of his inner turmoil. "You'll need somewhere to live," Sanzo said to change the subject.
"Ah yes, right. I'm sure I can find something in the village. It's not like I have many possessions to move."
"I can stay at the inn till that time," Gonou continued. "I still have some money saved up."
Silence stretched between them. Sanzo tried to think of anything else to say. "Goku would like to see you before you leave." For the first time Sanzo thought he detected a genuine smile. It almost made him smile himself, but Sanzo stopped himself just in time.
"I'd like that," Gonou answered.
It was only after another moment of awkwardness that Sanzo realized that Gonou's hands were still shackled and he didn't have the keys. Sanzo kicked himself mentally for not getting the keys before dismissing the monks. It took a while before he'd rustled up a monk to bring him the keys.
Sanzo practically yanked the keys out of the hands of the unfortunate monk to finally bring them. He turned to Gonou who silently put his hands forwards. Sanzo took one of Gonou's hands and fumbled with the key. Were his hands shaking? Gonou's hand rested calmly in his. Sanzo imagined he could feel the warmth through his skin. He forced his hand to steady and insert the key without scratching the lock. Was he breathing too fast? It took a long time to get the damn lock open.
There was a faint red mark along the inside of Gonou's wrist were the manacle had pressed into the skin. For a fraction of a second Sanzo let his thumb run across the line. The moment he caught himself he pulled back. He looked up terrified, but Gonou didn't seem to have noticed. Quickly Sanzo repeated the procedure on the other side, this time trying to keep physical contact to a minimum.
A monk appeared to lead Gonou away, leaving Sanzo feeling uncomfortably empty.
That night Sanzo stayed wide awake, rubbing his fingers together and recalling the touch of Gonou's skin. His erection was hard, and had been so for a long time. But Sanzo didn't want to meditate. For once he didn't want to clear his mind of the images of Cho Gonou.
He finally stopped fidgeting and reached down, taking hold of his attention-starved erection. It was quick and messy - almost painful. Afterwards Sanzo felt only slightly better. It felt base, and crude. Things Sanzo didn't like associating with, even when he couldn't deny the physical release it brought. Maybe it was something he simply needed to get use to; to get it out of his system.
At a loss for options, Sanzo closed his eyes and waited for sleep, praying that whatever madness had gotten into him would pass in time.
A/N: Ace of wands: the root, a new spark, raw energy.
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