- Title: The Best Medicine
- Author: Gonou's Girl
- Pairing(s): GojyoxHakkai
- Rating: PG-13
- Summary or description: Hakkai's tired from overuse of chi – AGAIN – and Gojyo sees the chance he never thought he'd get…
- Disclaimer: All characters owned by the magnificent Minekura-sama *bows down in reverence*
- Email: elphame_lives [at] msn [dot] com
- Comments: This was originally really angsty but I fixed it and now it's more fluffy ^_^ Enjoy!

 

When Hakkai woke up it took him a while to get his bearings. He was lying under a few loose sheets in bed, but he could see out of the window that it was really quite bright outside, probably mid-afternoon. An odd time of day to be waking up from a good night's sleep, at any rate. He supposed he must have blacked out again from using too much chi since he couldn't remember anything after the youkai attack – and evening meals with his three friends were always more than memorable. He sighed slightly, letting a very private smile creep across his features. Gojyo was always telling him off for using his chi so much, but he couldn't help it; it was in his nature to care for people.

   It was a good thing that someone had thought to open the window for him, since it looked quite hot outside. Just looking at it made Hakkai feel uncomfortably warm so he turned back to the calm, cool shadows of the room. The other bed was, unsurprisingly, empty, but that meant that his roommate for the night (something that seemed quite unpredictable) was unharmed, at the very least.

   Although, Hakkai thought, it was rare for him to wake up from such exhaustion and find himself in an empty room – there was normally someone (normally Gojyo) keeping an eye on him. He never really understood why it was so, since his condition never worsened once he lost consciousness. But nevertheless, the lack of companionship was beginning to worry him. If no one was here, then perhaps – even though one of them, at least, seemed unharmed – one or both of the remaining two may have been injured after his collapse. Hakkai was not injured per se – just exhausted – so it made sense if his roommate was taking care of those injured.

   He smiled lightly to himself. He was, of course, only jumping to conclusions. As always, he was worrying too much. But even so, he was perfectly aware that if he didn't check on the others, he would simply worry more, and in his weakened state that was the last thing he needed. So, under the pretext of improving his health, Hakkai sat himself up in the bed and reached for the monocle on the side table.

   It was then that Gojyo walked in. The kappa's rather wearied expression split into a wide grin when he saw Hakkai, sat up and clearly well awake. He bit his lip as he grinned and shook his head in amusement, his eyes sparkling at Hakkai. "Hell," he laughed, one hand instinctively rubbing the back of his head. "Trust you to wake up in the five minutes I'm not here."

   Hakkai smiled his mask-like smile, although this time he really was quite pleased. He hadn't missed the implication that Gojyo had been waiting at his bed side all the time he had been unconscious. He rather liked it when his friend took so much care over him.

   "Aha, my apologies, Gojyo," Hakkai said kindly. "How long was I out?"

   Gojyo snorted, his loose hair drifting on his breath. "Two days. Nearly three," he said, an odd edge to his voice. His hand reached absentmindedly up to his mouth before he started, realising that he didn't have a cigarette in his mouth. He always tried not to smoke when Hakkai was ill. "You really outdid yourself this time."

   Hakkai laughed mildly. "Well, I must admit there were a great many people injured. I'm afraid I have no choice but to help them."

   There was a certain sternness in Hakkai's voice, a warning, but Gojyo continued anyway. "There's always a choice," he shrugged. "Besides," he continued, moving to stand a little closer to Hakkai to give his own little warning, "if you carry on using up your chi like this, you won't be fit to help anyone at all."

   "Don't be ridiculous, Gojyo," Hakkai replied crisply, although he still wore that cheerful smile. "Fortunately, I am always knocked unconscious before I can do myself any real damage."

   "But that's not the point, is it?" he said, bending down as if trying to force his point into Hakkai's space. They locked eyes for a few seconds before Gojyo broke away and sat down on the opposite bed. It was very uncomfortable as there were still large groves in the mattress from where he had sat so long, watching over his friend. Hakkai never seemed to understand the danger in what he was doing. It was all right for him. It wouldn't matter to him if he never woke up.

   Hakkai watched Gojyo carefully, wondering what was going on in his mind. He seemed a little on edge, and this generally meant that something was being kept secret. He'd forgotten, temporarily, about his worry that one or more of the others might be hurt, relieved, he supposed, by the knowledge that Gojyo at least was in perfect health – although all those Hi-Lites surely begged to differ. Now that he thought of it, though, it was harder to shake his worry.

   He made a move to stand up, but his legs seemed to be slowing him down. Three days was apparently too long for blood to keep circulating in stationary legs.

   "Hey, hey, hey!" Gojyo said quickly, leaning forward and keeping Hakkai down with a firm hand on his shoulder. He leaned forward with a determined look in his eyes. "And where d'you think you're going?"

   Hakkai shrugged his shoulder out from Gojyo's grip but sat back down on the bed all the same. "I was just going to check on–"

   "They're fine," Gojyo said quickly. He knew that it was in Hakkai's nature to worry but it still irritated him that he couldn't, for once, put himself first.

   Something of Gojyo's quick response must have been unconvincing because Hakkai, watching his friend for a moment as if calculating the level of Gojyo's honesty, started to stand up again. All he wanted to do was make sure – make absolutely sure – that neither Sanzo nor Goku were hurt. Surely that wasn't too much to ask?

   "Shit, man, what? You don't trust me or something?" Gojyo said, raising his voice. He didn't really mean it but there had always been an underlying fear in his mind, a demon in his thoughts always pointing out how little Hakkai actually let him see of his true self. "I said they're fine! Now sit down!"

   Hakkai met Gojyo's determined eyes with his usual unreadable expression and judged that the best idea would indeed be to sit down. "I do trust you, Gojyo," Hakkai said swiftly, allowing his voice to really sound sincere. "I apologise for making it seem otherwise. You simply give me a hard time believing you when you are clearly keeping something from me."

   Gojyo stared at him for moment, wondering how Hakkai could be perceptive enough to see the question needed asking and yet not perceptive enough to see the answer. "Shit," he snorted, "I'm not keeping anything from you." He paused. "Not as such, anyway."

   "Gojyo, please do not hold back when you are talking to me. I did think we were closer than that."

   Fine, Gojyo thought, and leant forward with his elbows on his knees, again using his body to force the point into Hakkai's well-guarded space. "You wanna know what I think?" Gojyo said. "I think you should stop healing everybody. You're putting yourself in danger–"

   "Gojyo, we've been through this," said Hakkai, quietly but sternly.

   "What if next time you don't wake up?"

   He hadn't really meant to say it like that, but it seemed to have got through Hakkai's shell, at least. He stood up abruptly, taking Gojyo a little by surprise with his sudden movement, but he had only just reached full height when the blood pounded into his head. His vision the most bizarre kaleidoscope of images, he fell completely off balance. Gojyo rose up to meet him halfway, catching him as he began to tumble to the floor and forcing him roughly down onto the bed. He stood over Hakkai, an irritated disbelief sketched on his features.

   "What are you, suicidal?" Gojyo demanded. "You don't have any energy left! Sit down, dammit!"

   Gojyo breathed heavily through his nose, looking at Hakkai as though he really didn't know what to do. He knew he'd never be able to stop Hakkai from healing people but that didn't stop him from trying. He couldn't tell Hakkai the real reason he sat by his bedside whenever he was ill – that even though he knew in his head that Hakkai'd be fine, he was always sure that his heart would give up the ghost, seeing Hakkai so fragile in the cusp between life and death. It was too terrifying for words. Gojyo wasn't sure he'd be able to go on living if Hakkai never woke up.

   Not that he'd ever say anything so sappy out loud.

   "Hakkai, come on, I'm asking you as a mate." Gojyo's tone was carefree but his eyes had developed a pleading shine. "Don't heal any more."

   "I have to, Gojyo."

   Gojyo flinched as he tried not to let his frustration show. Hakkai could be so damn stubborn. It was probably why he hadn't registered how much Gojyo cared for him. "That's bullshit and you know it," he murmured. "Hell, Hakkai, what is it really? You think that if you save a thousand humans you'll turn back into one?"

   "Of course not, Gojyo," Hakkai responded, his narrow eyes still trying to read Gojyo. "I would never try to atone for my sins in such a base manner."

   Gojyo met his eyes as if testing Hakkai's honesty. Hakkai seemed to pass the test because he lowered his eyes and snorted gently. He supposed Hakkai never would think something so stupid; Hakkai was rational, it was Gojyo who was the stupid one.

   "Hell." He breathed out quietly. "Hakkai, I'm sorry, but I'm asking you as a friend" – as more than a friend – "to take it easy on the whole healing thing. I'm not saying to stop, but... start putting yourself first. Alright?"

   Hakkai said nothing, staring expressionless at Gojyo. That lack of expression made Gojyo want nothing more than to take his fist and smash Hakkai's pretty mask. As always, he ignored the urge. He'd spent the past two or three years wishing he could see the real Hakkai; it didn't look like it was ever going to happen.

   "Hell, Hakkai," he said, looking at Hakkai with an expression of bemused and despairing disbelief. "You just don't get it. I know you're not really gonna die. I mean, yeah when I'm sat here for three frickin' days waiting for you to wake up I get scared that you might not – but – well, that's not what really gets me, you know?" Hakkai was watching him intently but he still wasn't saying anything. Gojyo took a deep breath and carried on. "It's that – it's that you don't seem to care. You... I know you. Even if you didn't black out when you reach your limit, you'd still keep trying to heal everyone. Shit," he said, incredulous laughter tweaking at his mouth, "even if you'd die from healing just one person, you'd still heal them. I know you, dammit, and I'm sick of it!"

   Hakkai blanched at the sudden emotion Gojyo had injected into this statement but Gojyo quickly reined himself in, continuing quite calmly. "I'm sick of seeing you put other people's lives above yours. You're so willing to throw your life away, as if it doesn't matter..." His gaze dropped, unable to keep melancholy out of his voice. "As if there's nothing in your life that's worth keeping compared to the life of some anonymous asswipe who means jack shit to you."

   "I am not going to stop healing, Gojyo," Hakkai said quietly, although Gojyo did think he heard some genuine sympathy in that deadpan voice. "I am sorry to disappoint you."

   "It's like you don't even listen," Gojyo growled resentfully, swallowing yet another lump in his throat. He didn't see how he could make his point any more explicit without running the risk of spoiling his friendship with Hakkai, and he was damned if he was going to do that. No matter how obstinate Hakkai could be, no matter how much he still kept himself from Gojyo, he was still a million times better than no Hakkai at all.

   "This kind of talk is getting us nowhere, Gojyo," Hakkai said kindly. He pushed himself up with his arms, thinking to break the tension by leaving, but immediately felt Gojyo's strong hands forcing him back down again.

   "Yeah, and nowhere is exactly where you're going, pal!" He couldn't believe that someone who made healing his profession could be so difficult to look after. "So sit the hell down!"

   Brushing Gojyo's hands aside, he stood up again. "I'm only going to see Sanzo and Goku–"

   "Hakkai, for god's sake, they're fine, you're the one who needs rest!" Gojyo stressed, pushing Hakkai down once more. He was more forceful this time and Hakkai fell onto his back on the bed. "Take your own damn advice for a change." He glared angrily down at him. "Don't make me sit on you."

   Hakkai, feeling distinctly threatened by Gojyo's persistent invasion of his personal space, uncharacteristically reached up and pushed Gojyo away, trying yet again to rise.

   "Goddammit, man, lie down and stay down!"

   Gojyo panted – it was quite an effort to restrain Hakkai against his will, even in his weakened state. It was then that he realised just what a situation he'd got himself into. Hakkai had been successfully forced to lie back on the bed, but it was Gojyo's position that was the problem. His hands were wrapped in vicelike grips around Hakkai's wrists, forced out to the side so that Hakkai was stretched out like a crucifix. Gojyo hovered above him, his legs having somehow managed to straddle Hakkai's waist in the process of making him lie down; Hakkai's own legs were twisted awkwardly beneath him. And Gojyo's face, though still at least a foot away, was directly above Hakkai's, and his hair cascaded down to tickle each of Hakkai's cheeks.

   Shit. This was the kind of scenario that Gojyo had only ever entertained in his wildest fantasies. In those, however, both he and Hakkai were wearing seductive, mischievous expressions, and the undertones were affectionate and sexual rather than frustrated and semi-medicinal. Even so, Gojyo felt a heat rise in his flesh and had to swallow down hard on something that he was afraid might turn out to be a whimper.

   He just wanted Hakkai so goddamn much.

   He suddenly found himself wondering how the hell he had managed to live with something this intense; how he had managed to live for three years alongside a man who knocked the breath out of his body with every look he shot at him, whose every slight accidental touch was like electricity, causing fire to course through his veins. A man who hid himself away behind that perfect mask like a porcelain doll, so fragile and yet so hard to break through, in spite of all Gojyo's tortuous efforts – and yet – wait a second –

   Hakkai's mask was down.

   He must have been surprised at the force behind Gojyo's movement, and even more surprised at the way they'd ended up, because he'd clearly forgotten all about the fact that his eyes were supposed to be empty and that his smile was supposed to be cheerful but blank – he'd forgotten that he didn't give his emotions away. But all that was different now. Hakkai's soft-looking mouth was slightly open in shock and his eyes were wide. And yet it wasn't even this that had Gojyo's stomach leaping up in to his chest – it was the look in Hakkai's eyes, Hakkai's beautiful, hypnotic green eyes. Sure, there was surprise in them, but there were two other things that Gojyo recognised from the scarlet eyes of his own reflection, so often hidden from the world by his long hair. He was sure that at that moment, his eyes were screaming the exact same things back at Hakkai.

   One of those things was a hopeless, empty loneliness.

   The other was longing.

   He started to lean down before he could give himself a chance to doubt what he'd seen, before he gave Hakkai the chance to put his mask back on – before he gave himself the chance to wonder whether he wasn't simply jumping to conclusion, Gojyo took the chance he had right here, right now.

   And so he kissed Hakkai, right then and there.

   He wasn't sure why he was doing it, wasn't sure whether it was a sensible thing to do or not, but he carried on doing it anyway. The look in Hakkai's eyes was the answer that Gojyo had been searching for – for almost three years – the answer to the question that Gojyo had never dared to ask. And right now he didn't care if it turned out he was wrong about this. He didn't care if, after this kiss, Hakkai kindly but firmly told him he was mistaken. Dammit, he'd been living for this moment for too long to waste it now – living for the moment when he'd believe that Hakkai was as much in love with him as he was with Hakkai, living for a moment of happiness that no one would ever be able to take away from him.

   And so he kept kissing Hakkai, releasing his wrists as his hands automatically floated to Hakkai's cheeks, slipping round the back of his neck to pull him up closer to him. He let his fingers gently find their way through Hakkai's soft brown hair, swallowing hard. His lips were pressed up to Hakkai's desperately but lovingly, feeling his immense yearning for Hakkai overwhelm him. He kissed him harder. Hakkai was like a rag doll in his arms but he didn't care, this was more than he could ever have hoped for.

   But he should stop. Hakkai's friendship was worth more than his stupid dreams and he'd risked enough already. Tears were starting to well up and he knew that he wouldn't be able to hold his emotions in check for much longer. If he didn't stop soon, he didn't think he'd be able to stop at all. He just wanted Hakkai so goddamn much!

   And so he released Hakkai's soft lips, letting his hands and their precious cargo fall back down to the pillow. He bowed his head, hiding his face with his hair so that Hakkai couldn't see the tears in his eyes. Although he wasn't sure what good hiding his soul would be after he'd put it so horribly on display.

   Hakkai just stared out to the side, struggling to catch up with what just happened and find the strength to put his mask back on. Gojyo had kissed him, out of the blue. And another second in Gojyo's embrace and – he would have kissed Gojyo back.

   His eyes snapped back to Gojyo when he felt a tear splash onto the skin of his neck.

   "Shit, Hakkai," Gojyo choked. "You make this so hard."

   Hakkai stared at Gojyo's trembling figure with an intensely sharp pain in his chest. He couldn't believe Gojyo was crying – Hakkai had never imagined that Gojyo could cry. And yet, here he was, tears leaking unchecked down his cheeks.

   "Gojyo, I'm sorry," Hakkai tried to say, although a lump of compassion had risen in his throat that was resisting all efforts to force it back down. He wasn't really sure what he'd done to apologise for but felt the need to do so nonetheless. He was very conscious of the fact that Gojyo was still straddling him, although his hands had moved from the nape of his neck to his shirt.

   Hakkai's words seemed to make things worse. Gojyo threw back his head and looked desperately at the ceiling. He couldn't believe that a minute ago he'd been so sure that Hakkai felt the same; it now seemed a ridiculous idea. Hakkai was being kind to him but it sounded painfully like a rejection. "Shit, man, there's nothing to apologise for. You couldn't have seen..." He shook his head, apparently not aware that he was still holding Hakkai's shirt. Or perhaps he was. Perhaps it was the only comfort he had right now.

   "I'm sorry I kissed you," he said quietly, bravely looking Hakkai in the eye for a few seconds before gazing at his hands. "It was a stupid thing to do, I..."

   "It's all right, Gojyo," said Hakkai, just as quietly.

   Gojyo closed his eyes as if in great pain and gripped Hakkai's shirt even more tightly. He had almost forgotten about the look of loneliness and longing in Hakkai's eyes that had given him the conviction to kiss him, but now the thought made him terrified to look at him for too long. He had been so sure he'd read that look right, but now doubts were choking him. It could have just been a trick of the light playing on Hakkai's beautiful eyes from the window; it could have just been wishful thinking on his part. God knows he'd wished long enough to see Hakkai's eyes unmasked, screaming that they longed for him. Dammit. Stupid Gojyo. It had just been his goddamn imagination.

   "Shit. I just got so damn scared that you wouldn't wake up," he choked, dipping down suddenly to kiss Hakkai's forehead keenly, desperately. Then, all in a rush, he released Hakkai's shirt from his clutching fingers, leapt off of him and tore out of the room.

 

---

 

Gojyo shut the door behind him and leant against it, struggling for breath. A few extra tears were streaking down past his scars. Shit. Why was he even out here? You don't just kiss someone and then run away. He brushed his tears away awkwardly – it wasn't a movement he was used to. You didn't just run away. That was the cowardly thing to do. But he couldn't help it; the idea of staying in that room for even a second more had terrified him. Hakkai had just been gazing at him with those beautiful sparkling green eyes and Gojyo had felt his grip on self-control slipping. He'd been afraid of what he might do if he stayed.

   At least this would give him time to clear his head, he thought, closing his eyes and leaning his head back against the door. He breathed deeply to try to calm himself down. It would give Hakkai a chance to get his head around what had happened too. Hakkai... Gojyo tried not to imagine what he might be thinking but he couldn't help it. What did Hakkai think of him? He cursed himself as he ran his hand distractedly through his hair. No way would he believe that Gojyo was actually in love with him – after all, since when did a Gojyo kiss mean love? He grunted angrily, kicking himself. This time it had meant love. It was different to all those anonymous one night encounters. But would Hakkai realise that? Did he really want Hakkai to realise that?

   "Hell." Of course he wanted Hakkai to realise that.

   There was another thought nagging at Gojyo's brain – could there be a chance that Hakkai felt the same? Of course, he wasn't getting his hopes up; he knew that would just be stupid. Hakkai had given him no encouragement whatsoever – but thinking about it, he hadn't pushed him away either. And he'd been remarkably calm about the whole thing, almost as if on some level, he'd expected it.

   Come off it, Gojyo thought, shaking. You're just his friend. Right?

   He let Hakkai's handsome face hang before his mind's eye, weighing his chances even though half of him was still sure it was hopeless. Hakkai – he was always there for Gojyo, with Gojyo; he revealed more of his thoughts and feelings to Gojyo than to anyone else. There was no denying that they were extremely close friends. But did it go further than that? He closed his eyes and tried to remember the look in Hakkai's eyes before he'd kissed him. Could that really be nothing more than wishful thinking? He'd been so utterly convinced. And surely, surely, that couldn't come from nothing?

   Gojyo stopped trying to fight it. Hope was dangling in front of him and he was damned if he wasn't going to take a hint. There was a chance Hakkai felt the same, and whatever the odds, the prize was sure as hell gonna be worth the gamble. He didn't have to tell him straight away, he could give Hakkai time to get used to the idea – but he was gonna tell him that he loved him whether he wanted to hear it or not. He was going to put his heart on the line for Hakkai and maybe, just maybe, he'd get Hakkai's heart in return.

   Confidence swelled in his veins and he even felt a smile break across his face. Now that he had a plan he couldn't afford to be nervous. He wiped away the last of his tears, slapping his cheeks lightly to pull himself together. This was for Hakkai – this was for everything. He breathed in deeply and reopened the door.

 

---

 

Hakkai lay there on the bed, one hand on his forehead, watching the door in a slight state of shock. He wasn't sure what was going through his mind but he knew that each of his thoughts focused around one person – Gojyo. At first he'd been afraid that Gojyo was never coming back, but, as he reprimanded himself firmly, that was a ridiculous notion. Of course Gojyo was going to come back. He would never get so emotional over this. Over a... a kiss...

   Gojyo had kissed him, and he had been about to kiss Gojyo back. His first thoughts had been why should Gojyo have done that, and why should he have been about to reciprocate, but he'd soon realised that the answers to those questions were so obvious that to debate them in his head would have only been disrespectful to the closeness he shared with Gojyo. The kiss had not been at all motivated by sexual desires, that much had been clear from the tenderness of his fingers at the nape of Hakkai's neck and the unhurried yet desperate way he kissed Hakkai whilst inflicting himself upon him as little as possible. Had it been merely sexual, furthermore, Gojyo would certainly not have broken the kiss to start crying. There would have been a sheepish, lopsided grin, and a "Woah, sorry, Hakkai. Don't know what came over me," and a little laugh. Not tears and an admission of fear – an admission of weakness.

   And why Hakkai had been about to return Gojyo's physical attentions was also incredibly obvious. As shocked as he had been at Gojyo's sudden advance, there had been plenty of opportunity to stop Gojyo from kissing him, and yet he had not done so. He couldn't explain it away as 'getting lost in the moment' either because no matter how many times he considered it, he knew that if it had been Sanzo or maybe Goku who had kissed him – or even a woman, Miss Yaone for example – he would most certainly not have been tempted to kiss them back. In fact, he would have resisted from the start. He'd made a decision long ago to restrain himself from forming a close attachment to anyone. But Gojyo had broken that promise for him, first in friendship, and then – then with a kiss.

   Gojyo had kissed him because he cared for him. And Hakkai had been about to kiss him back because he cared for him just the same.

   Hakkai sat up slowly and let a little smile permeate his worried features. He would have assumed that such revelations about himself would have scared him, as used as he was to being so perceptive. But whilst he could not believe that he had missed something quite so enormous, he felt the knowledge seeping into him like the warmth of the sun. Who would have thought that loving Gojyo could feel so... wonderful.

   The door opened and Hakkai leapt to his feet, trying not to let it show that his head was swimming from the sudden movement. Gojyo sidled around the door, a sheepish expression of pleased embarrassment on his face. So much for not being nervous. He smiled somewhat apprehensively at Hakkai. "Shit, man. How many times have I gotta tell you to sit down?"

   Hakkai's face broke into a beautifully genuine grin and he sat down without complaint. It amazed him that he'd never managed to notice how much he loved the way Gojyo cursed so lightly, the way his words hung in the air as if he didn't have a care in the world. And the way Gojyo's eyes looked up at him through that waterfall of scarlet hair, life so bright in them that it made him wonder why he always tried so hard to force emptiness into his own.

   Gojyo seemed to be thinking along similar lines, gazing at Hakkai. A genuine Hakkai smile was a rare treat and it made Gojyo forget what he'd come into the room for. It made him feel so at ease, as if nothing really needed explaining; that all he needed to do was to take him in his arms and kiss him again. But he stayed stood near the door, careful to give Hakkai enough space. He didn't want to push him. Even if his hopes were right, Hakkai could well be confused and scared right now, and Gojyo was gonna have to watch where he put his feet.

   It was Gojyo who spoke first. "Hakkai, I'm sorry I was such a drama queen just now," he grinned, waving his hand vaguely towards the door. "I guess I really am shit with emotions."

   Hakkai smiled more broadly. As if he cared that Gojyo had left; Gojyo could leave a hundred times over and returning just once would be enough to earn forgiveness. "It's quite all right, Gojyo," he said, unable to take his eyes off him. "It gave me time to think everything over."

   Gojyo had to fight really hard not to ask Hakkai what he'd concluded. He had to remind himself that he'd decided not to push him, and trust that Hakkai would tell him when he was ready. Any attempt to force information out of him would just push him back behind his mask.

   Hell it was good when that mask was gone.

   "Gojyo," began Hakkai thoughtfully, his head tilted slightly and his eyes inexplicably on the corner of the wall. Without moving he flicked his eyes up to meet Gojyo's. "I'm afraid I have to refute something that you said earlier."

   Gojyo knitted his brows, confused. He couldn't think what Hakkai was talking about, but 'I'm afraid' didn't inspire him with much confidence.

   "You seemed to think that there is nothing in this world that I hold dear," he continued quietly, not letting his eyes leave Gojyo's. They really were beautiful. "I must assure you that you were mistaken. There are a number of things – and, ah, one in particular... that are worth much more to me than some 'anonymous asswipe'."

   Gojyo's stomach flipped over to hear Hakkai use his own insults. It was just so unnatural to hear Hakkai say anything abusive and it somehow made him even more irresistible. It had almost distracted him from the 'one thing in particular' that Hakkai held dear – almost, but not quite.

   It had been on the tip of his tongue to ask just what that was, but Gojyo decided it was still best to give Hakkai more time and let him set the pace. He looked out of the window, basking in the pinkish glow from the sunset. Trust him to have the bad timing to make this scene romantic, of all things. What on earth was he coming to? he thought happily.

   "So you feelin' any better?" he asked Hakkai, more for something to talk about than out of concern for his health. After all, there were far more important things looming around the corner.

   "Ah, a little," Hakkai admitted. It had been almost instinctive to say that he was fine but now that Gojyo had brought him out from behind the mask he was rather enjoying the liberation of being able to say what he felt. "It is a little difficult to stand, still."

   "Told you you should have stayed put," Gojyo grinned, flushing a little at the memory of what had happened last time he'd tried forcing Hakkai to rest. Focused on the possibility of his feelings being returned, he almost forgotten that he had actually kissed Hakkai – he'd kissed those soft lips, held that supple body in his arms...

   It was really difficult to keep that joy to himself.

   "You're quite right," Hakkai agreed congenially, as Gojyo turned away to hide his reddening face and ridiculous smile. "I should listen to you more often... Gojyo."

   He couldn't help it; the way Hakkai said his name made his heart leap into his throat. The softness he put into it, it was almost as good as a confession of love. The intoxicating warmth of Hakkai's eyes pulled Gojyo in and he forgot all about his plan. He swallowed, blinking as he found himself no longer able to restrain the sentiments that he'd carried with him for almost three years. And Hakkai just stood there, in the beautiful sunset half-light, a tempting smile curling his mouth. And Gojyo couldn't think straight. At least, that was the only reason he could give for the words which all of a sudden burst quietly out of him.

   "Hakkai," he said softly, as if unaware he was speaking, "I'm in love with you."

   The silence stretched between them. Shit. It suddenly struck Gojyo that he had just told Hakkai he loved him. Shit. So much for not pressuring him. So much for letting him set the pace. So much for –

   "You are in love with me? That's quite convenient, as I am in love with you too."

   Gojyo's eyes shot wide as he took those words in, and he whirled around to face Hakkai, leaning against the door for support. Those words had left his knees feeling very weak. Say that again? Gojyo thought disbelievingly, but there was no need to say it. Hakkai's radiant smile, those dancing, sparkling eyes, the rise and fall of his shoulders as he breathed in deeply; Hakkai's words had said he loved Gojyo, and his body was screaming it too.

   Something similar to a whimper escaped Gojyo but he didn't even begin to feel ashamed. Hakkai loved him. He hadn't been wrong.

   Grinning more broadly than he could ever remember doing, blind to the pain it was causing in his cheeks, Gojyo moved swiftly over to Hakkai. Hakkai rose to meet him and their lips brushed gently, beautifully. It was barely a touch but for Gojyo it was heaven. Hakkai's knees gave out and he began to sink down to the floor, clutching wide-eyed at Gojyo's shirt. Gojyo's strong muscular arms wrapped around him, holding him and pulling him up so their eyes were once again level. "Shit, man," he murmured through his smile, "you're lucky I'm always here to catch you."

   "Mmm," Hakkai agreed, his eyes shining as he stared openly at Gojyo, revelling in the fact that he no longer had to hide from himself. He wasn't so sure any more that his weakness was due to over-use of chi. He gently kissed Gojyo again. "You might be right."

   This time their lips met fully, firmly, Gojyo still holding up Hakkai's weak body. But Hakkai's kiss was far from weak; it was needy and desperate, but it didn't make him seem pathetic – it only made Gojyo want him more. Hakkai pushed relentlessly into Gojyo, leaning his whole body in as far as he could, and Gojyo hugged his arms tighter, pulling Hakkai ever closer into him. He didn't want to just be kissing Hakkai – he wanted to be Hakkai, be one with him... he supposed that was what this whole being in love thing was all about, he thought with a smile. A smile that Hakkai could feel as he eased his tongue tenderly into Gojyo's mouth.

   Hakkai, with some difficulty, extricated his arms from where they were pinned to Gojyo's admittedly lovely chest and threaded them around Gojyo's neck. He found his fingers stroked Gojyo's soft hair of their own accord, and as the red silk slid through his fingers Gojyo gave a moan. Hakkai knew what that red symbolised, and yet he still wanted to touch it. Gojyo held him even tighter into him.

   After a while they broke the kiss, Gojyo hunched over to hug Hakkai, whose legs still hadn't recovered. Hakkai smiled into Gojyo's shirt, revelling in the warmth and closeness. Maybe he just couldn't remember properly, but he didn't think that it had ever felt this right with Kanaan. And he realised, right then, that he wanted this to be better than with her. He wanted Gojyo to be the only one in his heart; he wanted to give Gojyo everything.

   And, able to feel Gojyo's heart thumping by his shoulder, Hakkai knew that Gojyo was the only one.

   "Gojyo," Hakkai said warmly, stroking his arms to assure Gojyo that his words would be of love and not rejection. "I just wanted to reiterate what I said earlier. You were, I'm afraid to say, absolutely wrong about me when you said I didn't mind dying. I must assure you that I most certainly do not want to die. My priority is very much on remaining alive. No matter how often death tries to take me, I intend to fight it with everything that I have." He kissed Gojyo's shoulder, and then did it again because it felt so wonderful. Gojyo was smiling down at him as if they'd always been together. "In fact, I'll make that a promise to you, Gojyo. That I will never give up on my life here, with you."

   Gojyo closed his eyes, nuzzling Hakkai's soft hair. He kissed his scalp lightly. Hakkai was just so damn cute that he thought he might die from sheer happiness.

   "And besides," Hakkai continued, conscious of the warmth of Gojyo's arms wrapped around him. He thought of all the times Gojyo had saved his life even when he himself had given up. "Even if I should fail, you are always here to catch me. Isn't that so?"

   Gojyo laughed heartily; trust Hakkai to put words of love into his mouth. "Right, so together we're invincible," he said, his lips still against the top of Hakkai's head.

   "Quite," agreed Hakkai, rather liking the sound of that. Gojyo's words made him recall his own from a few months ago – 'Next time I am with someone, she has to be invincible.' 'She' had certainly turned out differently to what he'd expected. He wondered if Gojyo had remembered his words, held onto them; he wondered if Gojyo had been in love with him even then. The thought made his smile even wider.

   "Although for now," Hakkai said with a rather more mischievous smile, "I still feel quite tired. Maybe I should get some more rest." He looked up through his fringe, his eyes pouring into Gojyo's, daring him to take the hint.

   He was not disappointed. Gojyo bit his lip, as though he couldn't quite believe how seductive Hakkai's eyes had suddenly become, and he laughed lightly. He matched Hakkai's look with the sexiest smirk he could muster, although it was tough when he was already smiling so much that he thought his cheeks would split. "Hell," he breathed in Hakkai's ear, his voice as low as he could make it, "you're the healer."

   He pushed Hakkai back down on the bed, straddling his waist as he had done before. He carefully took Hakkai's wrists in his hands and gently pulled his arms out to the side. The long waterfall of scarlet hair tickled Hakkai's pale cheeks and he smiled up at Gojyo, whose face was directly above his. For a moment, all they did was gaze into each other's beautiful eyes, transfixed by the sheer intensity of their feelings for each other. Letting his eyelids start to close, Gojyo leaned down to kiss Hakkai, and this time Hakkai arched his neck to meet him halfway.

   Well, Hakkai thought with a smile. Now this was more like it!

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