Title: Wands

Chapter: 4 - Four of Wands

Author: Aeneus

Email: aeneus111 (a) hotmail (dot) com

Website: http://www.geocities.com/aeneusfiction

Rating: PG

Pairing: Sanzo/Hakkai

Summary: Cho Gonou enters Sanzo's life, turning it upside down. Sanzo needs to cope with the aftermath.

A/N: Taking some liberties with the sequence of events in Hakkai and Gojyo's Burial Arc. Written for the 78_tarot LJ community. Beta'ed by Car Jack and Sanzo Chama <3

 

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 benefited the characters and storyline.

 

Four of Wands

 

"So you're really thinking of going back to work as a teacher?" Sanzo asked.

 

Just like the week before, both men were sipping tea around Sanzo's desk. Sanzo hadn't heard anything from Hakkai during the week, which only had increased his obsession. Their last conversation still played in his mind. The subtle, unexpected cracks in Hakkai's composure had fired a desire to slip between them and feel everything the man wasn't telling. Every night he had dreamt of taking Hakkai away from everything and of replacing whatever Hakkai was missing with himself. In his dreams, Hakkai would come to him and Sanzo would heal any pain with his touch. In a way, these new dreams were even more unsettling for Sanzo. Lust had been an overwhelming and irrational response that had thrown his comfortable life in sudden disarray. But now - now he was starting to care.

 

But of course, in real life, such thoughts were only misguided. Hakkai might think of him as a friend, but that didn't mean he actually thought Sanzo could be of any help, or any use. Sanzo's mind had obviously read too much into their last encounter, as Hakkai sat stoically across from him. It should be a wake-up call, Sanzo realized, before his mind got carried away from him. But still…it hurt.

 

Hakkai had hardly touched his tea and had been unusually quiet, leaving it up to Sanzo to create an opening to find out what was bothering the man. Sanzo had tried to re-establish the connection they seemed to have made last week, but sitting here on opposite sides of his desk sipping cold tea, the atmosphere felt stifled and closed off. Hakkai seemed distracted and Sanzo could only assume his issues were still unresolved, whatever they might be exactly.

 

Hearing Sanzo's question, a flicker of emotion crossed Hakkai's face. "I think I would like to," he said thoughtfully. "I suppose, really, I should."

 

It was said without a smile, raising Sanzo's suspicions immediately. "You don't have to do anything you don't want to," he said, unsure what was playing in Hakkai's mind right now. Hakkai was still tutoring Goku without any objections and Sanzo supposed at some point he would want a source of income. It seemed a logical option for Hakkai to get back on track. But not even Hakkai could hide his reluctance behind his practiced pleasantness.

 

"No, I want to start my life again," Hakkai replied, making a short-lived attempt at sounding optimistic. He looked at Sanzo, his eyes full with unspoken thoughts.

 

Sanzo shrugged, uncomfortable with the unspoken communication that he seemed unable to interpret. His feelings were torn between prying and retreating to the safety of his personal distance. "You don't like the tea?" he asked instead, nodding towards Hakkai's full cup of tea.

 

"No, the tea is lovely." Hakkai quickly took a sip, apparently oblivious of the fact the tea was, by now, stone cold.

 

Sanzo lit a cigarette and smoked quietly. If Hakkai only needed him there to listen, then that's the least Sanzo could do. It was up to Hakkai to do the talking.

 

Hakkai finished his cup before he said anything. "I just don't know if it would be too much like -- before. I don't think I could do that. If it would remind me too much…" Hakkai's voice trailed off.

 

Sanzo looked away, not wanting to picture the man before him with the sister he'd never seen. "You can't keep living in the past," Sanzo said. At least that was one piece of advice he could freely give.

 

"The past has a tendency to follow you around, doesn't it?" Hakkai's long fingers adjusted his monocle in a gesture Sanzo wasn't sure the other man was even aware of. The earlier hint of sadness in his voice was now joined with something new; something almost like anger.

 

Sanzo's attention was now piqued and he studied Hakkai's face for traces of this new emotion. "What makes you say that?"

 

But Hakkai's face had gone back to its familiar impassiveness. "Nothing."

 

---


The afternoon with Hakkai had left Sanzo with a restless feeling of uneasiness. And on top of that, he got a summons from the Three Aspects. His initial feeling that they had a hand in the situation he found himself in right now was still in the back of Sanzo's mind.

 

"…the fact that Cho Hakkai is a sinner will not change. Do not forget that…"

 

Why had the Three Aspects felt the need to remind him of that? Did they know something? Sanzo couldn't help but feel that their warning was connected to his last conversation with Hakkai and the strange emotions he had felt hidden behind Hakkai's words. Or were they warning him against his own sins? Sanzo found that hard to believe; the Three Aspects had never before taken an interest in his vices. The fact they might take a particular interest in this one was an unsettling thought. It was hard enough dealing with those three wise heads without them meddling in his private affairs. And Sanzo had a sneaking suspicion this whole business of temple robberies they had settled him with was some sort of ruse as well.

 

But at least this gave him an opportunity to go into the village and visit Hakkai and Gojyo. The whole day had filled Sanzo with an unfocused sense of foreboding that wouldn't go away until he saw Hakkai again.

 

The next morning he set out early from the temple, after having to almost physically restrain Goku from following him. Whatever it was that was going on, Sanzo had a feeling it was best Goku stayed out of it. The monkey thought the world of Hakkai and Sanzo didn't want to take the chance there was anything going on that might change that. He smoked all the way to Hakkai and Gojyo's house and chided himself for feeling nervous about seeing Gojyo again after their last conversation.

 

Sanzo had been so lost in thought when he finally arrived that it took him a moment to realize what was wrong. Then it dawned on him that the last two times he'd been here, there had been a front door instead of a gaping doorway. The splinters along the side of the doorframe made it clear the door had been 'removed' with some force. Sanzo called out Hakkai's name as he carefully stepped inside and was greeted with more disarray. It was obvious Hakkai's attempts at cleaning the place up had been completely abandoned. Gojyo was slumped over one of the chairs and began to stir with a pain-filled groan that spoke of a major hangover. Hakkai emerged from one of the bedrooms, looking apologetic and immediately began clearing some of the empty bottles and full ashtrays. The amicable atmosphere that had been there on his last visit was painfully absent and replaced with a lingering hostility that was almost chilling.

 

For the first moment Sanzo was frozen in his spot. He couldn't imagine what had taken place here. Did Hakkai and Gojyo have a fight? Sanzo had a hard time picturing Hakkai having a fight with anyone. But he remembered the Three Aspects' warning and the underlying anger in Hakkai's voice and Sanzo couldn't stop a chill going down his spine.

 

He took the beer Hakkai handed him and smoked through the expected initial pleasantries. Gojyo had roused himself somewhat and was nursing the coffee Hakkai had made. Sanzo didn't miss that when Hakkai finally sat down it was on the other side of the table, away from either of them. But Sanzo wasn't there to be relationship therapist. Nor was he there only to spy on Hakkai. Though he had to admit, he wasn't exactly put at ease by what he had walked into.

 

It had been quite a while ago, but Sanzo hadn't forgotten what it had been like to carve out a new life when it feels like all purpose for it is lost. For him, it had been Jikatu who had finally sat him straight. Sanzo had no illusions he had all the answers for Hakkai, but he might be able to provide a catalyst to break Hakkai's mood. Of course, he didn't bother denying to himself that his own reluctance to get involved with some tedious criminal investigation didn't play a part in delegating this business of the temple robberies to Hakkai and Gojyo. But then, the Three Aspects surely would have known that, so in fact he was only acting according to their expectations.

 

His own reluctance for the job was clearly reflected in both Gojyo and Hakkai. But Sanzo wasn't going to let it go so easily. He spoke to Gojyo when he said it wasn't too late for people to change, but it was directed at Hakkai. He could see his words hurt Hakkai, but being gentle wasn't going to cut it. And besides, it wasn't Sanzo's style. If Hakkai wanted a quiet life, he was hanging with the wrong crowd.

 

As he left he could only hope some good would come out of it at the end. It was a chance, but Sanzo was getting use to taking those lately. Walking away from Gojyo's apartment, Sanzo at first didn't pay much attention of the figure coming the other way. Only till it was clear it was heading to the very same apartment did Sanzo stop. He looked warily at the youkai sauntering up the path towards him.

 

"What do we have here?" the youkai drawled as he looked him up and down. Sanzo has seen that kind of look often enough to be instantly sickened by it. His fingers curled around his gun hidden in his sleeve.

 

"Gojyo sure keeps strange company nowadays," the youkai said mockingly.

 

Sanzo raised an eyebrow as he stared back. "You don't say?" Sanzo could only assume this youkai was a friend of Gojyo's. He did seem like the typical company Gojyo would keep. And it would explain the excessive number of beer bottles and cigarette butts he had seen. Did it also explain Hakkai's edginess? The thought that this youkai was a guest in Gojyo's house was disturbing to say the least. Hakkai's attitude to his own transformation was fragile at best. Sanzo knew he considered it part of the punishment for his Sins. He wasn't sure how well Hakkai would handle the presence of a full blooded youkai so close to him. Did he think he was still being punished? Or worse, did he think he still deserved it?

 

The thoughts tasted sour in Sanzo's mind as he watched the youkai continue on his way to Gojyo's apartment. A part of him wanted to go back and make sure everything was alright. But instead Sanzo sighed, lit a cigarette and continued on his way back to the temple. Hakkai had to deal with his new life sooner or later. In the end everyone had to fight his own battles and Hakkai needed to deal with this on his own.

 

---

 

"Can I get you anything?" Goku asked hesitantly. Sanzo looked up from his beer to see the monkey watching him expectantly. Sanzo hadn't been very good company even by his usual standards and, annoyingly, Goku was picking up on it.

 

"No," Sanzo grumbled and took a swig from his beer bottle. He had enough on his mind worrying if he'd done the right thing with Hakkai to be bothered with Goku.

 

"You need another beer?" Goku asked with a persistence that had already proved immune to years of Sanzo's ignoring.

 

"No," Sanzo insisted. He could do with another beer but more than that he wanted to be left alone. Goku rocked on the balls of his feet, obviously reluctant to leave. Seeing Goku worry was making him feel self-conscious. "I'm gonna go to bed," Sanzo lied, if only to see Goku relax.

 

"Sure, okay," Goku mumbled, looking like he had to put effort into convincing himself everything was indeed okay. Sanzo ignored the pang of guilt as Goku finally left him and drowned the last of his beer. He reached for his last cigarette and found a full pack he was sure hadn't been there before. Damn Goku…

 

He lit one and exhaled slowly as he watched the sun set from his window. He thought about Hakkai and Gojyo and the unknown youkai stuck together in Gojyo's house. Sanzo had an uneasy feeling about the strange youkai and the more he thought about it the more restless he became. As the last of the light faded it started to rain, making Sanzo even more on edge. This was one night he could do without the memories to top things off. He had smoked through half his pack when the rain had thankfully ceased. Maybe it was better to really go to bed, he thought gloomily. There was nothing he could do anyway.

 

He didn't know how long he'd been in asleep when he became aware of a presence in the room. He had his gun out before he was even fully awake, but the presence didn't move. It was sitting on the chair facing away from the window.

 

"Sorry to wake you," Hakkai's voice sounded from the chair.

 

Sanzo put his gun away and turned on the bedside lamp. He squinted for a moment as his eyes adjusted to the light. Hakkai still hadn't moved, sitting with his hands folded in his lap and his eyes cast down. Sanzo followed his gaze and saw the traces of blood on Hakkai's clothes.

 

"Please forgive my appearance. I forgot to change."

 

Sanzo swung his legs over the side of the bed and lit a cigarette. This was sure unexpected. Or maybe it wasn't. Sanzo wasn't sure he was awake enough to make the right judgment on that. This whole week had been pretty strange so far and Hakkai paying him a sudden midnight visit covered in blood might just fit right into it. At least Hakkai didn't appear to be injured himself, which filled Sanzo with a disconcerting amount of relief. He realized he couldn't care less whose blood it was, as long as it wasn't Hakkai's. "What happened?" he finally asked.

 

Hakkai's chuckle bordered on manic, sending a shiver through Sanzo's body. Sanzo knew all too well about the things Hakkai had done that had led to his sentence, but never before had Sanzo felt the threat so closely present. Maybe it was better to care after all whose blood that was.

 

"I'm not sure," Hakkai said when he had composed himself. He finally looked up and met Sanzo's eyes. "I never wanted any of this to happen -- I didn't want to do it…"

 

Sanzo's blood ran cold through his veins. Not that he was afraid of anything Hakkai might do to him, but afraid Hakkai might have done something that was beyond the Three Aspects to intervene. Something that would separate them forever. "What did you do?" Sanzo forced himself to ask.

 

"I killed them all," Hakkai replied quietly. His eyes became unfocused, drawing Sanzo into a surreal moment where he couldn't tell whether Hakkai was talking about the villagers and youkai he had killed in his sister's revenge, or something much more recent.

 

"I couldn't tell Gojyo. Banri was his friend, but I hated him so much." There was both resentment and regret in Hakkai's voice.

 

Sanzo guessed that he was referring to the strange youkai he had met outside Gojyo's house. He wasn't sure how it all fitted together yet, but it didn't surprise him that youkai was involved in it somehow. "Did you kill this Banri?" Sanzo asked, hoping deep down the answer would be yes.

 

"No," Hakkai shook his head. "The ones who were holding Gojyo. They were going to kill him."

 

Hakkai had now completely lost him. The whole situation was turning stranger by minute, but Sanzo didn't want to care. Having Hakkai sitting across from him in the half dark gave it all a dreamlike quality. For once the usual barriers of formality between them felt suspended and Sanzo felt unexpectedly empowered by the shift. Whatever had happened, Hakkai had come to him. The realization clung to Sanzo. Hakkai had come to him.

 

"Gojyo wouldn't understand…" Hakkai got up and crossed the few feet to Sanzo's bed and grabbed his arm. His fingers dug into Sanzo's arm almost painfully. "Please, don't say I came here." Hakkai knelt in front of him in an uncomfortably similar way Sanzo had seen him in many of his dreams. The bedside lamp reflected of the startling green eyes, the pupils quickly contracting in the light.

 

"Okay," Sanzo mumbled, still not sure what the hell had actually happened or why exactly Hakkai was there. But none of that mattered as he put his hand on Hakkai's shoulder and pulled him closer. The gesture would have been unthinkable even hours ago, but right now Sanzo couldn't think of anything to stop him. He wasn't used to so much physical contact and his hold on Hakkai was awkward. He had to close his eyes and concentrate to stop the shivers running through body as he felt Hakkai's head resting close to his chest. He never thought this could really happen. He never thought he could do this.

 

Sanzo immediately stiffened as he felt his body respond with a sudden overwhelming urgency. He couldn't suppress a moan as his erection hardened under his robes. Shocked by himself he pushed Hakkai away, praying the man hadn't noticed. Hakkai leaned back, creating some distance between them. His face was flushed, but Sanzo couldn't tell whether it had anything to do with him or not. The whole thing had gone beyond Sanzo's understanding.

 

"I'm sorry," Hakkai repeated, echoing the thought in Sanzo's mind, and slumped down on the floor. "It's been a long day and I fear I'm not thinking straight."

 

"Why don't you start at the beginning?" Sanzo suggested and picked up his discarded cigarette to take a long drag. His hands were shaking, betraying the confusion inside his body as he desperately tried the steady his mind. It would seem they were both out of their emotional element.

 

This time Hakkai took his time and related the events between Gojyo and him, and Banri and his gang. Sanzo stayed quiet and tried to keep focused on Hakkai's voice. His mind pictured Hakkai in his youkai form; it was hard to imagine the amount of power restrained by those three little clips. The tale left Hakkai shaking as well. The rift in his feelings was painful to hear.

 

Sanzo wished he could go back to holding Hakkai, but now that Hakkai was sitting away from him, Sanzo couldn't make himself go to him. He had been betrayed by the craving of his body before; he didn't want to risk it again. Not with Hakkai in the state he was in. Vulnerable. The idea pressed painfully on Sanzo's chest. Looking at Hakkai still sitting dejectedly on the floor in front of him, it was so close to Sanzo's dreams he had to shake his head to remind himself this was reality. If he touched Hakkai now, it would be taking advantage. The realization burned in his mind and cooled his body.

 

"You're not Gonou anymore," Sanzo stated emptily, needing to fill the silence and anchor him back. As he said it, Sanzo found his own mind adjusting to the reality of the statement. In front of him was not Gonou; the wounded man who had pulled Sanzo into a whirlpool of new desires. It was a new creature with the same alluring features, but healing himself into a new man; a man Sanzo desperately wanted to know.

 

"I know that," Hakkai said pensively. He looked at Sanzo and seemed to know everything Sanzo wasn't saying: that he was sorry it had to be this way; that he wanted to say something more comforting but didn't know the words; that he was dying to hold Hakkai. "I know that now." He gave a small smile, which looked to acknowledgement of everything that wasn't said.

 

Sanzo felt himself blush and nodded without thinking.

 

"It just takes some time getting used to," Hakkai sighed. "I didn't want to let go."

 

"A person can change," Sanzo repeated what he had told Gojyo before.

 

Hakkai reached out and touched his knee. Sanzo didn't dare move. "Thank you," Hakkai said genuinely. He got up and straightened his clothes. "I really should go back. I have disturbed you enough and I don't want Gojyo to miss me."

 

Sanzo sat up straight in response, feeling the moment of unspoken intimacy finish.

 

"By the way, we solved your temple robberies," Hakkai said as he stood by the door.

 

Sanzo chuckled humorlessly. "You can send me the bill."

 

---

 

Sanzo shook his head as Hakkai presented him with the bill the next day. Hakkai looked relaxed and comfortable; more so than ever before. Sanzo looked suspiciously at Gojyo; he naturally blamed him for the whole mess Hakkai had been put through and Sanzo promptly refused to pay for his treatment for injuries sustained. He let the broken door slide, knowing it would make Hakkai feel better to have it repaired.

 

In the light of day, it was hard to match this content looking Hakkai with the emotional and troubled version he had briefly held in his arms last night. So much so it seemed like another of his disturbing dreams. But still, Sanzo felt something intangible had changed between them. Some of the ever-present tension Sanzo had felt with Hakkai had ebbed away, but he had no way of knowing if this feeling was only one-sided.

 

They sat together, silently eating the oranges Goku had given them; Hakkai peeling away each piece before carefully dropping it into his mouth. Sanzo tried not to stare. He had sent Gojyo and Goku away to get food. He figured between the two of them, they would take their time getting back.

 

Hakkai licked his lips after he'd swallowed the last piece of orange. He cleared his throat before turning towards Sanzo. "I do apologize for last night. It won't happen again."

 

"It doesn't matter," Sanzo replied and took a deep breath. "I'm glad you came." He looked sideways at Hakkai. "I mean, I'm glad I could help."

 

Hakkai gave a small smile, accepting what Sanzo was trying to say. "I do have a new life now," he said. "A different one." For once Hakkai didn't sound sad when he said it.  "I think I might give a shot at living it."

 

Sanzo lowered his eyes and picked at his orange, the bright color forever associated with his own loss. "Remember you asked me if I ever loved someone?" he asked quietly.

 

"Did you?" Hakkai's voice didn't show any surprise he might have at Sanzo's sudden question; only genuine interest.

 

"In a way." A peaceful image of Koumyou leaning against a tree, smoking his pipe and looking contently at the clear sky, formed before Sanzo's eyes. It was the way he most liked to remember him. "When I lost him, I thought I had lost everything."

 

Hakkai nodded silently, letting Sanzo talk without prying for details. Sanzo didn't know whether it was right to bring up those painful memories right now, for both of them. But Sanzo felt the need to tell Hakkai; to let him know something of his own past now that he knew so much about Hakkai's.

 

"I was ready to die."

 

Hakkai looked at him, his eyes understanding. "So was I."

 

"Something will come along to keep you going." Sanzo thought of Jikatu and Goku and all the other things that had changed his life and kept him going. Then Gonou, now Hakkai.

 

"I'm okay now, I think," Hakkai said calmly.

 

Sanzo wondered what things Hakkai was thinking of. "I don't doubt you."

 

Hakkai smiled at him warmly. "I realize you've put your trust in me. I can never thank you enough for that; for giving me the chance of this life."

 

Sanzo felt the warmth spread through him. "Just don't betray me."

 

Hakkai nodded. "I won't."

 

TBC…

 

 

A/N: Four of wands: foundation, stability, rest.

For a card representing rest and stability, this chapter turned out quite turbulent :D

My interpretation is that the foundation for Sanzo and Hakkai's understanding is laid here. And I guess you need a storm first before you can appreciate the calm.

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