- Title: Ready?
- Author: Gonou's Girl
- Pairing(s): GojyoxHakkai. Brief discussion of HakkaixKanan and a very, very, VERY tiny hint at SanzoxGoku XD You get a cookie if you spot it! ^_^
- Rating: PG-13
- Summary or description: Hakkai is ready for a new life, and a new love, at long last.

- Disclaimer: All characters owned by the magnificent Minekura-sama *bows down in reverence*
- Email: elphame_lives [at] msn [dot] com
- Comments: Anyone who's read my fanfic "Obviously!" will recognize the first 2/3 of this story, but I changed the ending quite a lot coz I wasn't happy with it. I hope you too will appreciate the new ending ^_^ Enjoy!


A calming breeze ruffled the long grass on the cliff top as dawn began to stretch its pale fingers across the sky. Hakkai sat amongst the green, hands linked around his knees. His usually poker-straight back was relaxed and slightly hunched. He closed his eyes slightly, basking in the beautiful warmth of those first rays of sunlight. A contented smile stretched across his peaceful features.

   It had become more or less a routine to slip out every morning before the others had awoken and take an hour's quiet reflection. It had been Gojyo who had suggested it. Kanan didn't have a grave and Hakkai didn't have anything she'd owned to make a shrine, and it bothered Hakkai that he had nowhere to pay his respects to the woman he had loved so dearly. But Gojyo, as always, came to the rescue with a simple but pleasant alternative: why not make the beautiful outside world her shrine?

   It had been a wonderful idea. Kanan had always loved the outdoors, and somehow Hakkai felt he was closer to her when he could hear the birds or the wind in the trees. And of course, once they had started their journey, the idea became even more practical than either Gojyo or Hakkai could have ever predicted. Now Hakkai could make a shrine to her wherever he was, and whenever he felt the need to do so.

   And so today, Kanan's grave was temporarily on this cliff top, facing out to the wide open sea. Having spent most of the journey up in the mountains, it was a rare sight, and Hakkai was enjoying the sparkle as the sun's light refracted on the waves, the call of sea birds and that faint taste of salt in the air.

   That faint taste of Hi-Lite as well?

   A familiar thump of footsteps approached him and Gojyo flumped down in the grass beside him, dangling his legs over the edge of the cliff and swinging them like a child. He leant back on his hands to stare up at the sky, his cigarette glimmering in the faint light. "Hmm," he murmured thoughtfully. "Kanan's got herself a nice place today."

   Hakkai, who hadn't shown any sign of acknowledging Gojyo's presence, felt a smile creep across his lips. Trust Gojyo to know exactly why he was out here. His eyes were still closed so that he could better enjoy the feeling of the soft breeze on his skin. "Mmm," he agreed. The sun's warmth seemed quite cold compared to the warmth radiating from the man sat beside him.

   Gojyo let them sit in silence for a surprisingly long time before he asked, "Do you still miss her?"

   Hakkai opened his eyes and stared out to sea, now bright with sunlight. The slight contented smile still played on his face. "No, I don't suppose I do," he said softly. He turned to Gojyo with his usual exaggerated smile. "Is that terrible of me?"

   "Shit," Gojyo said, partly because Hakkai was using that damn smile again and partly because he seemed to think Gojyo could tell him right from wrong. "She's been dead for three years, hasn't she?"

   "Indeed so," Hakkai responded, which made Gojyo wonder if maybe his answer hadn't been very tactful. He was an insensitive shit sometimes.

   "Nn," Gojyo said. He took a drag on his cigarette and followed Hakkai's gaze out to sea.

   "Gojyo," Hakkai began tentatively, as though he'd been considering starting this conversation for a while but now that his mouth had started forming the words he wasn't sure he wanted them said after all. "There's something I've been meaning to tell you."

   "Yeah?" Gojyo prompted, interested. Close as they were, it was very rare for Hakkai to volunteer information.

   "I, ah... I always thought that I would only ever be in love with Kanan," Hakkai said, a little out of breath. He really couldn't remember actually deciding to talk to Gojyo about this but now that his mouth had started, his mind couldn't work out how to stop it. "But, well I'm not in love with her anymore. I love her, of course," he said quickly, "and that's why I come out here every morning, to pay my respects. But when I'm out here, I... I find my thoughts are... elsewhere. You see, Gojyo, I... I'm in love with someone else."

   Gojyo had been watching Hakkai very intently while he said this, even though Hakkai's gaze was still fixedly out to sea, but now he let out a very low, impressed whistle. "About bloody time too," he grinned, slapping Hakkai genially on the back. Hakkai's eyes shot wide from the contact but he regained his composure before Gojyo looked at him again. The redhead took another drag on his cigarette and then bit his lower lip, looking at Hakkai as if he couldn't quite believe it. "So go on, then, who is it?"

   Hakkai opened his mouth to say, but at last his mind stepped in and stopped the name from reaching Gojyo's ears. He looked down at his knees, flushing slightly. Gojyo registered this display of shyness and felt his lips twitch. Cute.

   "You don't have to tell me if you don't want, I guess," he said, although half of him was really curious to know.

   "No, I..." Hakkai looked instinctively up at Gojyo before looking down at his hands again, still blushing slightly. He wished he could hold back that blush; it was most uncharacteristic. "I want to tell you..."

   Gojyo laughed slightly. He'd been right; Hakkai was only going to volunteer so much. It was habit by now to gently coax the information out of him with the right questions. "Alright," he said, still smiling. "Anyone I know?"

   "... Yes," Hakkai responded slowly, half of him trying very hard not to say it. "Quite well, in fact." He flushed again. He was feeling very vulnerable and obvious and was very glad he had his masklike composure to hide behind.

   Gojyo's face split into a leer as he leant on Hakkai's shoulder, considerately pulling the cigarette out of his mouth before doing so. He knew Hakkai hated smoke. "It's that Yaone girl, isn't it?" he teased, knowing how well the supposed enemies got on. Half of him thought it might actually be the truth. "That chick that fights alongside that jerk Kougaiji?"

   Hakkai laughed; he hadn't even considered that Gojyo might suspect him of having feelings for her. "No, no," he chuckled amiably. "It's not Miss Yaone."

   "Ah," Gojyo sighed, as if pleasantly disappointed he'd got it wrong. He moved back from Hakkai and took another drag on his cigarette. "Shit. Then I can't think who it could be. We've hardly met any decent women since Sanzo dragged us out on this frickin' wild goose chase."

   "Mm, you're right," Hakkai murmured, his heart in his mouth. "We've hardly met any women."

   Something about the way Hakkai had emphasised the word 'women' made Gojyo's stomach flip over. Maybe there was a chance... "A guy?" he said, surprise etched across his face. His cigarette dangled loosely between his lips as though he'd forgotten it was there.

   "... Do you think less of me?" Hakkai asked. His knuckles were white where his fingers had interlocked far too tight.

   "Shit, of course not," Gojyo said sincerely, making as if to squeeze Hakkai's hand in reassurance but changing his mind and lightly slapping Hakkai's knee instead. His face was serious, careful to show Hakkai that he meant it. "Like I'd ever judge you for that."

   He watched Hakkai for a few moments, but Hakkai didn't say anything. Gojyo hoped that silence was appreciation, although he wouldn't be surprised if he'd said something wrong. He breathed in deeply, drawing on his courage. Now or never.

   "Well, come on then," he half-laughed, "you still need to tell me who the lucky guy is!" He hadn't meant to say 'lucky guy' but his mouth, as usual, was working far faster than his brain. He was struck by a sudden horrible thought. "It's not Sanzo, is it?" he cried suddenly, appalled. "Please tell me it's not Sanzo... everyone's in love with Sanzo..."

   Hakkai couldn't help but laugh at Gojyo's appalled tone. "No, it's not Sanzo, no," he assured Gojyo, who quickly said, "Good!" before sucking on his cigarette again. The red light flared and died, the last trails of smoke drifting up into the atmosphere. "Shit," he mumbled automatically and rubbed the end of the cigarette into the dirt on the other side to Hakkai.

   "Gojyo..." he heard Hakkai begin. He turned round to face him and jumped as he realised that Hakkai had leant into the space between them, an imploring look on his eyes. At first Gojyo thought he was trying to kiss him, but then he remembered that Hakkai was far too polite and restrained to do something like that. He relaxed. "What?"

   "Promise... promise you won't laugh, Gojyo?" Hakkai said, worry clearly shining in his emerald eyes. He seemed to be begging Gojyo to take this seriously, which slightly annoyed Gojyo. He'd been taking this seriously all morning.

   "Of course I won't laugh," said Gojyo, sounding a little hurt that Hakkai'd thought he would. "What is it?"

   "It's you, Gojyo."

   Hakkai's eyes flickered as he said it, as if his body was making a last-ditch attempt at stopping those words getting out. But he seemed resolute; his eyes were still locked onto Gojyo's, a slight mournfulness about them, and somehow he wasn't shaking, in spite of himself. Gojyo's eyes had shot wide at Hakkai's words, shocked by how straightforward and honest they had been, how simply and easily they'd come out of Hakkai's mouth. He was so taken aback by Hakkai's openness that it took him a few seconds to process what had actually been said, but once he figured it out his face split into the widest, broadest smile he'd worn in a long time.

   "You're laughing," Hakkai accused plaintively, turning away from Gojyo to resume the position he'd sat in for the previous hour. His face fell and it was an effort to bring it to its normal deadpan state. He felt distinctly wounded, hurt and a little angry that Gojyo had broken his promise.

   "Aw, Hakkai, come on, I'm smiling," Gojyo implored, the smile audible in his voice. He reached out and laid a hand on Hakkai's shoulder. "It's different to laughing, you know?"

   Hakkai conceded to look down at Gojyo's hand on his shoulder, trying to fight the emotion from flooding his eyes. Please, he begged inwardly. When Gojyo rubbed his hand from side to side, firm, warm and reassuring, Hakkai at last looked up at Gojyo shrewdly as if trying to detect a lie in Gojyo's far too beautiful red eyes. His breath caught in his throat as he saw the warm concern in Gojyo's expression, and the slight smile refusing to be pushed out of sight; he could barely hold Gojyo's gaze for even a second, the feeling was too intense, he was just too... scared. He dropped his gaze, blushing deeply and starting to tremble.

   "Shit, man, I've never seen you so nervous," said Gojyo in a deep, serious voice Hakkai had never heard him use before. Hakkai's heart was constricted as though an invisible hand was slowly, grindingly crushing it beneath his chest, but Gojyo could hardly restrain the sunlight flooding through his veins. At last... at long, long last...

   Hakkai snorted as if he thought the comment as inconsequential as talking about the weather. He glared up at Gojyo and instantly regretted it. His shoulders softened and sagged, and he let his old smile creep onto his face. "Well, I – I'm a little afraid that you will – reject me."

   He waited a few moments to observe the impact of his words.

   "I haven't waited four years to say no."

   Gojyo had said those simple words in the same deep, serious voice, steady and sincere; his eyes had not left Hakkai's and he had barely even blinked. And at the same time, the hand that had been gently stroking Hakkai's shoulder traced up to wrap around Hakkai's neck, fingers intimately caressing Hakkai's hair where it met his neck.



   Gojyo had said those words.

   And Gojyo had meant them.

   "...W-waited?" Hakkai stammered, one hand over his mouth in a subconscious effort to quell the painful, relieved emotions bursting forth from him. His eyes were somewhat brighter as he gazed at Gojyo. It couldn't be... it just wasn't possible...

   "I needed to make sure you were over her first," Gojyo said softly. "Make sure you were ready. I would never use you, Hakkai, not ever. And I..." Gojyo's serious demeanour melted into an equally unusual soft, warm – pretty smile. "I want to be the only one in your heart. Since you're the only one in mine."

   Hakkai gasped, his eyes shining as he bit down on the back of his hand to suppress the cry of joy yearning to escape him. All cautious doubt obliterated by Gojyo's consideration and affection, Hakkai flung his arms around Gojyo's neck and shoulders, hugging him tightly, trying to stop the relief from carrying him away completely. Gojyo, feeling that after four years a kiss would be a much more appropriate reward, nonetheless hugged Hakkai back, wrapping his arms protectively around his waist and nuzzling Hakkai's soft, smooth neck. He breathed in deeply, eyes closed, savouring each second. At last... at long, long last...

   Hakkai's face hovered before his for only a few seconds before he felt Hakkai's hands on his cheeks and, suddenly feeling all his experience slip from him to be replaced with an unfamiliar weakness, he watched Hakkai's eyes close.

   The sun had been rising out of the sea just a few minutes ago, but Hakkai was sure it had fallen out of the sky and taken up residence in his chest. He tried not to compare Gojyo to Kanan, but, he thought with a wry smile, he was fairly confident Kanan had never kissed him like this before. Deeply, passionately, surprisingly hesitant and gentle; overwhelming.

   Gojyo, his arms trying to touch all of Hakkai at once, felt the need and desperate longing that he'd borne ever since he'd first seen Hakkai's blood-soaked, rain-drenched smile explode within him. He moaned plaintively into Hakkai's mouth, that mouth that tasted so good, that felt so right. He had been right to wait, he would wait all over again just for this one kiss, this one moment of perfect connection, perfect synchroniza—


   Was that a tear?

   No, no, no, pleaded Gojyo, pulling away from Hakkai immediately, fearful eyes searching for a comforting answer. Hakkai merely leaned into him further, a somewhat mischievous smile beside the single tear-strain on his cheek.

   "Stop," he murmured gently, voice deep and soft, "and I'm afraid I'm going to have to kill you."

   Gojyo smiled broadly as he gave up trying to understand his friend – his lover – that tragic and emotionally screwed beauty he'd wanted for so long. He let Hakkai push him gently back down into the grass, his dark hair tickling his face. Braced over him, Hakkai resumed the kiss with increased intensity, incensed by the sounds of heavy breathing, leaving Gojyo's mouth to trace his way down Gojyo's neck, pushing Gojyo's shirt up and stroking the taught muscles beneath, feeling Gojyo arch beneath him—

   At last... at long, long last...

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