Chapter: 6 - Six of Wands
Email: aeneus111 (a) hotmail (dot) 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. 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.
Sanzo awoke half-slumped against the door of his office. For the first five minutes he refused to move. Moving would be to acknowledge he was awake, and that would mean he had to face the rest of the day, and then the rest of the week…
He had been awake for most of the night, listening to the silence beyond the door. Gojyo had finally given up at some point, after that there had been nothing; no returning footsteps, no whispered pleas. How could he have messed up so badly? The events were on constant replay in his mind; the sickening instant he believed Hakkai had let him kiss him unwillingly. And the thought behind it was even worse, that Hakkai had thought him capable of demanding such an act.
In that instant his fragile confidence had broken. He had panicked and let the old fear take over; that his desire was wrong, that no man would suffer it willingly. For hours he had tried to reassemble his emotions until exhaustion had finally forced him into restless sleep.
The sun's light indicated it was already a good few hours into the morning. His stiff muscles ached as Sanzo finally moved to sit up straight. Lose fragments of dream still lingered - the image of Hakkai, of course, and their kiss. Only in his dream it didn't stop. In his dream, Hakkai had responded eagerly, whispering his name…Just like Sanzo had last heard Hakkai's voice.
The apologies still echoed through his head, insisting on their sincerity, as clear as if Hakkai were standing behind the door right now. A shudder went through him, but he was out of tears. He was dying for a cigarette, but his packs were in his room and he didn't want to go back there yet.
Sanzo touched his lips as his senses remembered every detail of last night. Hakkai hadn't stopped him. He was certain there had been no resistance. Sanzo couldn't believe a man like Hakkai would let himself be forced into something like that out of a sense of obligation. Or had he misjudged the depth of Hakkai's guilt? No, Sanzo shook his head, these last few days Hakkai had been beginning to accept his life. Surely, he didn't look to be punished in such a way.
His thoughts tangled and rewound themselves. He hadn't given Hakkai an opportunity to explain. The hurt in his eyes before Sanzo had turned away had been real. But whatever had made Hakkai say those words, Sanzo might never find out. Sitting on the hard floor of his office in the cold morning light, he grew more and more certain he had been wrong. Hakkai had been truly sorry, and Sanzo had shut him out.
A knock on the door startled him, his heart pounded as he envisioned Hakkai standing behind the door, giving him another chance.
Sanzo released a breath at hearing Goku's voice. The sound of familiarity, a sure sign that life went on inside the temple. He groaned softly; last night's events couldn't possibly have gone unnoticed. How much did Goku know? And how much of it did he understand?
The knocking continued and Sanzo knew there was no way the monkey was going to let up. Sanzo resigned himself and moved enough to open the door. A quick peek past Goku showed him there was no one else in the hallway. Thank the Gods for small mercies.
"Can I come in?" Goku asked.
Sanzo simply shoved the door a little wider and waited for Goku to enter. Sanzo was still sitting on the floor in a last ditch effort to ignore the fact he had to face the day. Like it was nothing unusual, Goku sat down next to him. Sanzo waited tensely for the monkey to open his mouth and start asking questions.
"You and Hakkai have a fight?" Goku asked after they had sat for a while.
Sanzo shifted, his fears were proven right and at least some information about last night had gotten through to his charge. "Yes," Sanzo said flatly, dreading to have to explain anymore. He didn't feel he had the energy to fight off Goku's curiosity this moment. Goku stayed silent for a while, maybe waiting for him to say more.
"Will he be back?" Goku asked simply.
Sanzo didn't want to think about that question. He sighed and raised his head up to lean against the door. He hadn't felt so completely drained in a long time. "I don't know," he admitted in a half-whisper to himself as much as to Goku.
"I think he will," Goku said with enviable confidence.
Sanzo didn't know if Goku was only saying that to make him feel better, but he felt grateful that Goku was next to him saying it nonetheless. Sanzo shook his head and sniggered cynically at the sappy sentiment. Damn, when he had suddenly began to feel so lonely? He reached out and drew Goku towards him. There was a flash of question in Goku's eyes, but Sanzo felt too tired to say anything more. Wordlessly, Goku turned on his side and let his head fall on Sanzo's knee.
When Goku was younger, just after Sanzo had found him, the kid would fall asleep in his lap all the time. For practically the whole first year, Goku had been close to panic whenever Sanzo left his sight. But at some point it had stopped. Sanzo couldn't quite remember when or why. Goku had simply gotten too big, too old and moved to his own room.
Sanzo's fingers stroked the long, soft ponytail, allowing himself to find some calm in the memories of a time before all of this had happened - before so much had changed.
But time passed on and Sanzo knew he couldn't stay here forever. He shifted slightly, letting Goku knew he was getting up. Without a hitch, Goku moved away and re-established their distance. Sanzo tried not to feel disappointed. Goku hadn't even asked for breakfast yet, Gods only knew how much effort that had taken.
"Get out of here," Sanzo grumbled without much conviction as he swiped at the wrinkles in his robe. He really should change and he needed a shower too. Not to mention that cigarette he'd been craving. He watched Goku go and took a moment to steel himself before making the walk back to his room.
His hand touched the door of his bedroom, remembering the night before. Sanzo took a deep breath and went in. The room looked empty and cold, giving Sanzo a momentary shudder. He started picking up the empty or half-finished beer bottles, knowing which ones had been Hakkai's and which ones his, and put them aside. After a shower and a change of clothes, Sanzo finally sat down on his bed to smoke, gratefully letting the kick of the nicotine distract his mind.
Days went by and neither Hakkai nor Gojyo made an appearance. Sanzo's foolish belief in Goku's reassurance began to waver, but the monkey still seemed as convinced as ever. Sanzo couldn't face going to Hakkai himself. He didn't dare invite the rejection, not to mention Gojyo's wrath.
A full week had passed. Ever since breakfast Goku had sat near the gate, looking out towards the road. The usual hour came and went. Goku was clutching a notebook: his homework, Sanzo realized as he watched inconspicuously from the temple. In the end, the waiting became too much and Sanzo hid away in his office, trying desperately to find some work to distract himself.
He sat down in front of his papers, his back poignantly towards the window so he wouldn't be tempted. He lit a cigarette and began flicking through the pages. With half the pack gone, Sanzo still hadn't moved. The same papers were still in front of him, but he hadn't managed to read any of them. He gave up and pushed them away.
He got up to sit in the windowsill, looking out over the empty road. He told himself to resign to the fact Hakkai wasn't coming. Hold nothing, his Master's words kept floating in his mind. He had let go of so many things, why couldn't he let go of this? But the nagging pain in his chest told Sanzo it had gone too far, too many things had changed and he now knew that he could never go back to the way it had been before.
The knock on the door surprised him, making him drop his cigarette. Sanzo grumbled for the uninvited guest to come in while retrieving the burning stub from the floor. He looked up and met Hakkai's glimmering green eyes.
Sanzo froze. His vision widened and took in Gojyo standing behind Hakkai, his arms folded and a look of contained thunder on his face.
"Can we talk?" Hakkai asked, his voice going right through Sanzo and stirring him back into motion.
Sanzo straightened and dropped the stub in the astray. "Of course," he mumbled, eyeing Gojyo and wondering if the Kappa was going to stick around. But Hakkai turned towards Gojyo and whispered something to him. Gojyo's look became even more foul for a second, but then he turned around and left, leaving Hakkai to close the door.
Hakkai stood awkwardly in the middle of the room. "I wanted to apologize for -- for what happened," he began. "I didn't mean to upset you." He took a few tentative steps closer to Sanzo, looking as if he was worried the priest might attack him.
Sanzo cleared his throat and tried to relax. "No, I should apologize. I didn't mean to…" his voice faltered. How could he possibly explain how far out of his depth he felt right now? He looked up at Hakkai, imploring him to understand. He remembered all the times he had tried to figure Hakkai out, trying to understand what the man was thinking; now it felt their roles were reversed and he was hoping that Hakkai would be the one to understand and to make everything clear.
"Please," Sanzo whispered, looking in Hakkai's eyes and feeling suddenly lost in the face of the need that had grown inside him and the terror of his own ignorance to deal with it. "I'm sorry."
Any more possible words from Sanzo were swallowed because right then Hakkai was kissing him.
Hakkai's hands held Sanzo's head steady and his lips pressed hard against his. Sanzo could have cried from relief. His hands twisted in Hakkai's shirt, making sure the man would stay close. Sanzo knew nothing more than letting their mouths touch, replacing any need for explanations.
He felt Hakkai's tongue swipe along his lip. He backed off a little, shocked by the new sensation.
"Please," Hakkai whispered near his ear, "let me show you this -- let me show I mean this."
Hakkai's words raised goosebumps along Sanzo's skin. He still didn't know if he was ready for this. He clung to Hakkai, securing himself in the warmth of another body so close to him, and tried to relax as Hakkai let his tongue slip across his mouth again. Sanzo slowly parted his lips and waited both nervously and expectantly. The sensation was strange and a bit uncomfortable at first. Sanzo couldn't help being shocked by the sheer intimacy of the gesture. No matter how many times he had dreamt of this, nothing compared to the real sensation. For all the things he'd seen and done in his life, he felt so damn lost in this, leaving it to Hakkai to set the pace and letting Hakkai be the one who finally pulled away.
"This is really what you want," Hakkai said, not as a question this time, but as a wondrous statement.
Sanzo let his hands rest on Hakkai's arms, amazed that he could touch the man without retribution. "I think so," he said honestly. "Do you?"
Hakkai bowed his head and looked to the floor. "Last week, you took me by surprise," he said, staring at his feet. "For all this time, I've been so confused. I was never sure what I was feeling. You have to understand, so much had changed that I felt overwhelmed." He looked at Sanzo, his expression close to pain. "I didn't know how to deal with it -- I was afraid; I couldn't believe that you would really feel for me; that I deserved…"
Hakkai stopped under Sanzo's glare. The priest didn't want to hear Hakkai talk about what he did or didn't deserve ever again. "This had nothing to do with debt," Sanzo said clearly.
Hakkai nodded. "I know. I shouldn't have doubted you."
"I shouldn't have doubted you either," Sanzo conceded, looking at a smiling Hakkai and trying to keep the whirlwind of emotions going through him in check.
Carefully, Hakkai took a few steps back "I should go," he apologized. "I don't want to keep Goku waiting any longer."
For the moment Sanzo had completely forgotten about Goku's lessons. He looked at the door, remembering who was waiting behind it. "I think Gojyo might want to kill me," he reminded Hakkai.
Hakkai looked at Sanzo contritely. "I was upset, he didn't know what had happened."
Sanzo wasn't sure which was worse, Gojyo misunderstanding the situation or Gojyo understanding the situation too well.
"I explained it wasn't your fault," Hakkai continued. "but he can be -- oddly protective."
Sanzo snickered. That was one way of putting it. "Will you come by later?" Sanzo asked, his hand lingering over Hakkai's as they stood by the door.
"Of course," Hakkai smiled. He opened the door, revealing Gojyo waiting in the hallway, his arms still folded and looking grim. Sanzo glared at him, hoping he hadn't been listening at the door. Hakkai simply nodded to his friend and continued along the hallway to Goku's room.
Sanzo was about to go back into his office when Gojyo's hand grabbed his shoulder in an iron grip.
"Hakkai said I couldn't hurt you, so as a favor to him, I'm not gonna punch your lights out right now," Gojyo said threateningly as his fingers dug into Sanzo's robe. "But if you ever pull something like this again, I'm not gonna care what Hakkai says, understand?" He let Sanzo go and took a step back.
Sanzo brushed off his robes before looking calmly back at Gojyo. "Since you're Hakkai's friend, I'll forego shooting you -- for now. But this is none of your business, understand?" Sanzo said defensively.
Gojyo slumped against the wall and pulled his fingers through his hair. "I don't know what's going on between you two, but please, for everybody's sake, just work it the fuck out already."
Sanzo's good mood prevailed over the momentary annoyance of Gojyo's threats and he managed to give Gojyo a reassuring shrug. Gojyo rolled his eyes, shook his head in mock desperation and then thankfully left.
Sitting around his desk, drinking tea, it was hard to believe everything had changed. Hakkai had return from Goku's lesson and the two of them sat sipping their drinks as usual - the only difference being their hands casually touching across the desk. Sanzo still couldn't quite get his head around it. He drank his tea in silence, not knowing what to say now that the attraction he had fought and hidden for so long was out in the open.
There was so much he wanted to ask, so much he wanted to do, but the unexpected magnitude of possibilities left him unable to do any of it. He'd never been in quite a situation like this before.
As he met Hakkai's eyes across the table, the other man seemed to understand and Hakkai snorted in sudden amusement. "God, I still can't believe this is really happening," Hakkai smiled and squeezed Sanzo's hand. He shook his head and turned serious again. "After Kanan's death, I didn't think I could ever feel again."
Sanzo shivered at the hint of cold in Hakkai's voice. It also reminded him of the fact this might be new territory for him, but it wasn't for Hakkai - the man had loved another before. Sanzo swallowed to clear his throat. "What changed?" he asked.
Hakkai sighed deeply and gave a weak smile. "Remember when we were at Hyakugan Maoh's castle, all four of us, and you read that sutra?"
Sanzo nodded to show he remembered.
"I knew then that I could let her go." Hakkai looked lost in the memory "I didn't know how yet; I was still grieving too much, but it was no longer the bottomless pit I had stared in for so long. Deep down, you had made me accept that she had moved on; and so would I."
Sanzo stay silent, not wanting to interrupt Hakkai's thoughts.
"Gojyo showed me I could be my own person - live on my own terms."
Sanzo shifted at the mention of Gojyo's name but didn't interrupt. Hakkai gave the lightest of grins at Sanzo's apparent discomfort of his housemate. "Really, Gojyo is a good person," Hakkai insisted. "Once you get to know him…"
Sanzo shrugged and waved his hand to move away from the topic of Gojyo. Hakkai breathed in deeply and looked as if he had to look for the right words to continue. "I took me awhile to realize…what I felt for you. I loved Kanan as a sister. I admit I loved her as a lover too, but the feelings were so close I never had the need to separate them."
"At first I thought I felt merely grateful to you for saving my life, in a way. Your intervention before the Three Aspects let me build up my new life -- but in time, I knew it was more than that. But still, I was uncertain."
Hakkai looked away embarrassed. "I have been raised to believe these feelings are wrong. I would never have believed others could experience the same feelings. And besides, you're a…" Hakkai actually blushed and waved to Sanzo's robes, "you know."
Now it was Sanzo's turn to blush. The sudden attention to his status made him fluster, making Hakkai burst out in laugher.
"You have to remember, I was raised by nuns," Hakkai reminded Sanzo. "I don't think I could say enough Hail Mary's for the thoughts I've been having. Impure thoughts about a priest probably rank even higher than impure thoughts about your sister."
Sanzo shrugged off his earlier discomfiture. "I'm a Buddhist priest, what do they care?"
Hakkai's laughter finally died down and he pulled Sanzo closer to give him a quick kiss. "I certainly don't care," he said softly.
Sanzo barely suppressed a smile of his own. Kissing Hakkai felt good; better than he'd ever expected; but a whole new mountain of uncertainties had opened up with it. He didn't know what Hakkai expected of him.
"You know, I've never…," Sanzo began hesitantly, looking at Hakkai and trying to gauge his reactions. Hakkai's face told he understood what Sanzo was trying to say.
"Another thing we have in common," Hakkai said smiling. "We'll just have to figure it our for ourselves then."
Hakkai had left with Sanzo's promise to visit him the next day. Grinning to himself in disbelieve, Sanzo let the day replay in his head as he sat on the windowsill, looking out over the moon-filled gardens and smoking his last cigarette before going to bed.
He had heard the door to his room open, but didn't move. In the window's reflection Sanzo could see Goku standing next to him, smiling.
"How did you know?" Sanzo asked after a moment without turning around.
Goku shrugged. "I just knew," he said, meeting Sanzo's eyes for a moment via the glass before looking away as if he was self-conscious. "Like I knew you would come for me when I called you. I knew Hakkai would come for you."
Sanzo tsked and flicked the stub of his cigarette into the ashtray at his feet. What kind of babble was that? Stupid monkey. Goku didn't duck to avoid the half-hearted swipe of the fan, smiling instead and leaving Sanzo to get back to grinning to himself.
A/N: Six of Wands: solution, equilibrium, victory, symmetry, balance, harmony
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