Aftershock

 

Author : lillypuff 

Email: lilly_puff22 (at) yahoo (dot) com

LiveJournal: http://lillypuff.livejournal.com

Main Pairing : Gojyo x Hakkai

Rating : NC-17

Warning(s) : post-character death, angst, naughty language, alcohol abuse, explicit sexual content (m/m &m/f), violence/self inflicted wounds

Summary: Gojyo tries to live in a world without Hakkai

Sequel To: Stay

Disclaimer : Sadly, Saiyuki does not belong to me.  I wish it did =)  Just having some fun.  Don't sue me, I don't have any money anyway.

 

  

   

 

The sound of a door slamming shut rang through the inn hallway, followed by the sound of heavy, uneven footsteps. Goku nervously stroked Hakuryu's back as he listened to the footsteps disappear down the hallway. He looked up at Sanzo who seemed not to notice anything was amiss as he diligently read his newspaper.

 

"Sanzo?"

 

Sanzo peered over his newspaper, "What is it Goku?"

 

"Is…is Gojyo OK?"

 

"He will be."

 

"But Sanzo…"

 

Sanzo pulled the paper down past his face, "Look Gojyo, I have no intention of butting into his personal business right now. So just be quiet and go to sleep."

 

Goku let his silence speak for itself.

 

*****

 

Getting to this town hadn't been easy. They had been hungry, weak and tired and made poor time on foot. None of them had come close to being properly healed or rested before they left the woods. They were alert for another attack, it would have been the perfect time for one, but none had come.

 

As tired and hungry as he was, Goku really hadn't been too bothered by the walking, at least not nearly as much as he was bothered by the silence. From Sanzo, it was OK since, in general practice, the monk was a man of few words. But the silence from Gojyo was, well, defining. He just walked when they walked and sat when they stopped to rest. For awhile Goku noticed there was rarely a moment where Gojyo was not puffing on a cigarette. He didn't know how Gojyo could smoke that much normally, but in his current state it was even more baffling. Farther along their trek that day, Goku would notice that Gojyo had stopped smoking, though he was pretty sure it was only because he had run out of cigarettes.

 

When they stopped for the night, Goku helped Sanzo clean out the wound on his stomach, just like Hakkai had taught him. He took care of his own wounds and Hakuryu's as well, and tried to make sure Gojyo was OK too, but the half breed would not allow him to look at his back up close, where Goku thought his worst injury had been. 

 

The next day, all were worse for the wear, except for Hakuryu, whom Goku had carried the previous day. They had to drive, there was really no other choice, and so they did.

 

Gojyo drove, which was something Goku supposed he'd have to get used to. Secretly he found himself liking the idea that he'd have the back of the Jeep to himself now, but any joy that would have bubbled up from his new found freedom to stretch out was quickly crushed by the thought of why there was now extra room in the Jeep. He found himself unable to take advantage of the extra space and he left it unoccupied, perhaps out of respect for their recent loss.

 

Riding in the Jeep relaxed everyone and they made good time, even with Gojyo stopping every now and then to allow Hakuryu to rest. They arrived at the next town early that evening and as Goku got out of the Jeep he found himself full of conflicting needs. He wanted to shower, he wanted to sleep, he wanted to make sure everyone was OK, but above all, he wanted to eat.

 

Sanzo got them rooms at the inn - he and Sanzo would share one, Gojyo would get the other. Goku took a quick shower, as did Sanzo, and they made themselves as presentable as possible in short time so they could get food into their systems. Goku stopped off at Gojyo's room as they headed to the inn's restaurant. He knocked on Gojyo's door. No answer. He knocked again.

 

"Gojyo?" Still no answer. "We are going to get food, I know you must be hungry, come eat with us."

 

Again, no answer. Goku sighed and walked over to where Sanzo stood impatiently. They continued to the restaurant in silence, where they ordered and ate enough food to feed an army. Goku ate the most, as usual, but he noticed Sanzo also packed away a fair amount, as did Hakuryu, for a creature of his size at least. 

 

When they had finished they returned to the room, Sanzo to read his paper, Goku to hopefully sleep. Goku stopped to sneak a glance at Gojyo's room as he entered their own, causing Sanzo to bump into him, then push him the rest of the way in. 

 

Goku scurried to his bed, making sure Hakuryu was comfortable before settling himself in to the lumpy but oh-so-comfortable bed. He knew he needed sleep, but it would not come to him. His thoughts kept going back to Gojyo, alone in his room, wondering what he was doing. As annoying as the water sprite could be, Goku was still worried about him.

 

 

*****

 

 

It had been about thirty minutes since Goku had heard Gojyo leave his room, and he couldn't take lying around any more so he got up and headed to the door. 

 

"Leave him alone Goku," Sanzo almost snapped, again looking over his paper. 

 

"I just want to make sure he is OK, that's all."

 

"I can guarantee you that you aren't going to like what you see," Sanzo replied through an annoyed sigh. 

 

Goku wasn't sure what Sanzo meant by that, he had seen Gojyo is a vast array of moods in their travels. The comment did not detour him from wanting to check on the half breed.

 

"Well, I still want to check on him, he is after all, our…um…" Goku wasn't sure if he should continue this.

 

"Our what?"

 

"Our friend…"

 

Sanzo replied with a rough "Ch." As he went back to his printed world.

 

Goku sighed and left the room.

 

 

*****

 

Goku didn't think finding Gojyo would be difficult. As he left the inn, he spared a quick glance in the inn's restaurant and bar, not expecting to see Gojyo there but checking anyways. He was not disappointed, these places were too quiet for Gojyo's taste as far as Goku knew. He made his way out of the inn and into the quiet, calm night. He glanced around for signs of a bar and having located one, walked there at a fairly quick pace. Before stepping inside he took a deep breath, he had suddenly become nervous. 

 

Goku stepped to the side of the entrance once he entered, trying not to be seen and he immediately spotted Gojyo, but it took him a few moments to understand what he was seeing.

 

Gojyo was sitting at the bar. That's normal. He was smoking again. Normal. Drinking. Also normal. He was drinking heavily from the looks of it. Not exactly normal, but not surprising. Someone was leaning against Gojyo and the red head had his arm around their waist. That was pretty normal, Hakkai often accompanied Gojyo... 

 

Wait…back up a second…

 

That was not Hakkai. Of course it wasn't Hakkai, he was dead. Goku guessed out of habit or perhaps denial he had placed Hakkai standing next to Gojyo. He closed his eyes to gather himself and when he opened them, he really saw what was going on.

 

There was a woman leaning against Gojyo. A woman of fair bust as far as Goku could tell, and she wasn't just leaning on him, she was touching him, kissing his neck, and running her fingers through his hair. Gojyo wasn't returning the attention in kind, but he wasn't stopping her either.

 

Sanzo, as always, had been right. Goku did not like what he saw, and more to the point, he didn't understand it. He couldn't watch anymore. He turned to leave, determined to go back to his room to sleep away what he just saw. He walked away, not knowing Gojyo watched him leave.

 

 

*****

 

Fucking monkey, Gojyo thought as he downed the most recent shot served by his bartender.

 

He was distracted from further thoughts by his new found lady-friend.

 

It was impossible not to be distracted.

 

Every time she touched him, it felt like he was being burned.

 

Every time she kissed him, it felt like he was being jabbed at by a needle.

 

Every time she ran her fingers through his hair, he wanted to scream.

 

It was the worst thing he had ever felt, and he didn't want it to end.

 

 

*****

 

 

Sanzo heard quiet footsteps approaching his room. He continued to read his paper. He heard the door open. He glanced to look at Goku without moving his head. The young man was white as a ghost, wide eyes wet with tears that had not yet begun to fall. Goku closed the door and stood staring at Sanzo.

 

Sanzo sighed and put his paper down on the table next to him. He shouldn't have let him leave, but what was he supposed to do? The fucking monkey had to learn that things were going to be different now. Sanzo didn't like it on multiple levels, but he accepted it. Goku would learn to accept it too, he hoped. He didn't need to ask to know what Goku had seen, it was written all over his face, the sense of betrayal, disgust and utter confusion almost leaping out at him. Gojyo had fallen back to his old, pre-Hakkai-fucking routine, much as Sanzo had expected.

 

"Go to bed Goku, you need sleep."

 

Goku nodded, barely, and walked to his bed, into which he almost collapsed. 

 

"If you want to, you can bombard me with questions in the morning."

 

Goku didn't respond. After a moment of silence, Sanzo returned to reading his paper, ready for whatever tonight might bring. He tried to lose himself in an article but he couldn't get deep enough to block out the sound of soft crying.

 

 

*****

 

 

Gojyo hadn't planned to pick up a woman at the bar. For the first time in a long time sex was the furthest thing from his mind. There was only one thing he wanted and that was to get drunk. He wanted to drink to forget and he hoped that if he drank enough he would forget it all. Forget his eyes, forget his voice, his touch, his lips, his smile. Especially his smile. His smile haunted him. Every time he closed his eyes he saw it there. The one he had first seen years ago. The smile that said hello, do you mind if I bleed to death here at your feet?

 

Perhaps that's what he really wanted to forget the most. He had carried Hakkai into his life bloody and dying and somehow he had saved him. And now he had lost him. He had died in his own arms, bloody…and smiling. That fucking smile.

 

And so, after cleaning up, he went to the first bar he saw and sat down at the first available seat and began to order drinks. He was sickeningly hungry, so he ordered some food too, but just enough to calm his stomach. Too much food would get in the way of his ultimate goal tonight.

 

He ate and he continued drinking, and he was suddenly surprised by the feeling of warmth at his side. He longed for that sort of warmth and he smiled. He turned to look at the provider and when he saw it, he suddenly became cold.

 

She stood to his left, light brown hair, lovely blue eyes. She smiled and asked if he was alone and if she could join him.

 

He didn't want to say it, but before he knew it, the words were out of his mouth, "Sure sweet thing, have a seat."

 

She asked his name, and he told her, the words almost sticking to his tongue as he forced them out. There had been a time when he would drawl out his name in a way that would make women melt, but those days were long gone, first because he'd met a man no woman could match, and now because he'd lost a man no woman could replace.

 

She said her name was Atsuko. He didn't want to know her name, but he smiled and said it was pretty. She asked him if he was ok, because he looked sad and he said he was fine. She said she could make him feel better and asked him if he would let her try. His only response was a sigh as he lowered his head slightly, closing his eyes. He felt her hand on his shoulder and another on his cheek. Then he felt her breath on his neck before she kissed him. He hadn't said yes, but he hadn't said no, and Gojyo guessed that was good enough for her.

 

She ran her fingers through his hair, and he wanted to scream at her to stop. He had always hated it when people brought attention to it. Hakkai had been the exception but he never really knew exactly why. The first time he had done it Gojyo had wanted to scream then too, but he hadn't and he had let Hakkai continue and after a few minutes he began to enjoy it so thoroughly that he never understood why it bothered him in the first place. But he thought he understood now. His hair had been like a inside joke for the two of them. Not one that made you laugh, but one that made you want to cry. And sharing that joke with someone else was pointless, they'd never understand.

 

But he let her continue, just as he had let Hakkai continue, and he held back the screams. She kept touching him and kissing him and it took all his self control not to flinch every time.

 

At some point, out of the corner of his eye he had noticed Goku standing near the bar's entrance. Goku, with a look of sorrow and confusion on his face. If Goku knew what was going on, then it was a sure bet Sanzo would know soon, but somehow Gojyo had a feeling Sanzo already knew anyways. The fucking monk always knew. Goku left quickly and quietly and Gojyo had another drink, the liquor burning his throat on the inside while Atsuko burned his neck on the outside.

 

Gojyo wondered when this woman would ask for a return of her attention to him, but she seemed content to play the lead in this sick little play. And becoming more and more detached from the world around him, Gojyo was content to let her do just that.

 

Eventually she asked him if he wanted to go somewhere more private. Gods, how many times had he heard that line uttered from beautiful lips before? Too many times to count, he knew that for sure. She said her apartment was a few block away, but Gojyo insisted they go to his room. He wasn't sure why, perhaps he just wanted this to be done with as soon as possible and his room was closer then her apartment. He settled his tab, purchasing a couple bottles to take with him, and once they were before him he saw that old habits really do die hard. Without even thinking he had ordered what he always did, a bottle of whiskey for him, and a bottle of Sake for Hakkai, who was no longer in a position to be concerned with things like booze and lovers.

 

Gojyo led the way, a bottle in each hand, his arm wrapped around Atsuko's shoulder, her arm around his waist. She walked while looking up at him, smiling a little girl smile even though Gojyo was pretty sure she was several years his senior.

 

And as Gojyo walked, he had to concentrate fully on the task at hand. Every step was a challenge, and not just because he was drunk, but because he didn't want to this to happen but he knew it would. His heart was pounding in his ears, telling him to stop, but he didn't listen. The time for listening to his heart, as with many other things, was gone.

 

When they got to his room, he opened the door for Atsuko and let her walk in.

 

Gojyo hadn't planned to pick up a woman at the bar. He had simply gone there to forget. And perhaps he had forgotten something because here stood a woman wanting to be loved.

*****

 

Sanzo had moved to his bed by the time he heard Gojyo returning from the bar.  Gojyo made no vocal sounds, but the monk knew it was him because he could hear the heavy thump of boots and the light clatter of high heels.  Sanzo was suddenly glad that Gojyo's room was at the end of the hall, his own room being it's only attached neighbor.

 

Sanzo lit a cigarette.  He wasn't sure if the monkey was asleep, but he was no longer crying.  He wasn't snoring, but Sanzo just hoped that meant he was too exhausted to put forth the effort. 

 

The monk sat against the wall, knees pulled up towards him, his arms resting on them.  In one hand he held his cigarette, in the other he held his gun.

 

He sat and he waited.

 

 

*****

 

 

Gojyo let Atsuko pull off his jacket and shirt.  He watched as they fell to the ground, knowing that would be where they stayed until he picked them up.  She began to kiss his chest, walking him backwards to the bed.  Gojyo slid his hand under her shirt, resting them on her slender waist, his hands searching for firm muscles that were not there.  He brought one of his hands to her stomach and in his mind he remembered what it felt like to run his hand over the scar that he longed to feel. 

 

He sat down on the edge of the bed and Atsuko sat on his lap, facing him.  He thought of how many times Hakkai had sat that same way.  How he had sat there and stared into Gojyo's eyes, touching and moving his body against his growing hardness.  Atsuko did the same thing now and even though his heart had run for shelter and his mind was somewhere else, his hardened dick was in this for the long run. 

 

She began to kiss him on the lips, the first time she had done so, and Gojyo leaned back onto the bed, almost as if trying to get away.  When she released the kiss her blue eyes fixed on his red ones, but he never saw blue, he only saw green.  She sat up, leaning against his hard dick, an action that made him want to moan with pleasure, but he held it back.  He didn't want to admit he was enjoying this because he wasn't enjoying it, the moan was an after effect of the pleasure felt by a part of his body that held no allegiance and never grew attached.  It knew only one thing and it knew it wanted it.

 

The woman who straddled him removed her shirt and Gojyo stared at her bare breasts.  It had been a long time since he hand see a naked woman, hell, it had been a long time since he even glanced at a woman for more then a couple seconds.  He took her into his hands, feeling the softness of her skin and the hardness of her nipples as he brushed his thumbs against them.  He pulled her back down close to him and allowed himself to lick and bite one of her nipples.  Oh how he longed for something else though.  Not large breasts but small, firm pectoral muscles that tensed under his hands, with small nipples that were so wonderful to bite at and play with. 

 

Atsuko made a purring noise, finally getting a return of the attention she had given and Gojyo had to fight back a scream again.  She had a lighter more feminine tone, but otherwise she sounded so much like Hakkai that if Gojyo's heart hadn't already hid itself away he may have died right there, from longing or heartache or just pure unrelenting pain.

 

Gojyo felt her begin to fumble at his pants with what almost seemed like urgency and maybe it was, maybe she was beginning to understand in some way that he wanted this over with.  He gave her a hand and began to pull off his pants as she stood at the edge of the bed for a moment to remove her own skirt.  Gojyo pushed himself back further on the bed so his long legs didn't dangle off the edge as much. 

 

Atsuko began to crawl back on top of him stopping just short of where she sat before.  She gripped his hard cock with one hand and Gojyo almost jumped out of his skin.  She leaned forward and began to lick and kiss and suck, and the only way he could keep himself from pushing her away was to think of someone else.  To think of lips that were rougher then hers, to think of green eyes that would stare up at him, watching his face as pleasure washed over it.  He thought of short dark hair as he grabbed her longer lighter hair, and instead of feeling her long nails which began to scratch at his side he thought of shorter, blunt nails that had so many times ripped flesh.  And as he held back from calling out her name, in his mind he screamed for Hakkai.

 

After a few minutes, she seemed to know that it was time, and Gojyo felt the familiar feel of rubber sliding over his pulsing cock as she rolled the condom, with practiced know how, down his shaft.  He hadn't even know she had taken from it's package, that's how lost he was.  She moved up his body again until she was straddled above him, his hardness pushing against her softness.  He allowed his hand to gently play with her for a moment and was surprised to find she was rather wet, in spite of the fact that he had barely done anything to her.  He guessed the ol' Sha Gojyo charm was still alive and well even if the man himself felt dead.

While he played with her, she began to adjust herself and he could feel the tip of his cock sliding inside her.  He closed his eyes, still attending to her needs as he began to thrust deeply.  She moaned and part of him wanted to moan back, to let her know her actions were not for nothing, but he didn't do it aloud, only in his head.  Somehow he thought that if he vocalized the pleasure and the pain it would be the final betrayal, though to who he wasn't sure.  To her, for he was using her even if she had brought this on, to himself for denying what he wanted and taking what he needed or to Hakkai, for jumping into bed with another. 

 

But now more then ever, as he pushed himself deep into her and she pushed back, he wanted it to be over. He quickly opened his eyes and found blue (green) eyes staring back at him.  At first she looked a little shocked, perhaps even a bit scared, but she seemed to know exactly what he wanted to do.  He was finally ready to take control.

 

She slowly slid off of him and waited for him to direct her, and that's exactly what he did.  He positioned her on her hands and knees and (probably to her surprise) Gojyo planted kisses down her spine until he positioned himself behind her, taking a firm hold of her waist.  He entered into her again slowly at first, then deeper and harder until he was breathing hard from his excursions.  Atsuko moaned and purred and moved with him.  He grabbed her long light brown (short dark) hair in a fist pushing her against him and her moans grew louder but still he was silent.  He closed his eyes and he remembered.

 

He remembered what it was like to be inside Hakkai.  To feel the man's warmth around him.  To claw at his back or pull on his hair.  He remember biting the tender skin on Hakkai's back and listening to the healer as he moaned, crying out his name as he pushed as deep as he could, Gojyo returning his lovers words, through heavy breath and trembling voice.  He held onto that until he felt his release and with his sexual release came the release of everything else.  He finally produced moans as he came, they couldn't be held back any longer and he felt the betrayal that rode along with it.

 

On the inside he was screaming.  He screamed at  Atsuko for touching him, for wanting to touch him.  He screamed at himself for having ever left his room that night.  But most of all he screamed at Hakkai - for leaving him, for abandoning him as he had been abandoned by so many before.  He knew that wasn't fair, this wasn't Hakkai's fault and Hakkai certainly hadn't forced him into this position - in fact Hakkai never had to force him­ into any position - but knowing and wanting were to different things.  He knew it wasn't the healer's fault but that didn't stop him from wishing it was, because there was only one other place to put the blame.  Silently, through the last of his spasms, tears began to fall from Gojyo's eyes.

 

After a moment of silence, Gojyo pulled out of the woman before him who was trembling slightly.  He hoped she had been able to get herself the rest of the way as he'd feel bad if she had to put up with him and not gotten her full pleasure out of it.

 

After discarding the used rubber, Gojyo sat on the bed with his back against the wall and lit a cigarette.  He hoped the woman could not see his tears in the darkness.  Only one woman had ever seen him cry.  If she noticed, she didn't say anything as she walked into the bathroom, presumably to freshen up.  Gojyo just sat their smoking and when she returned she began to dress and Gojyo tried not to watch, but she did it so perfectly he couldn't help keep an eye on her.

 

She said nothing to him as she walked to the door after she had collected all that was hers, but she paused as she placed her hand on the door knob and Gojyo heard her take a breath before she spoke.  He wished she wouldn't say anything, but he didn't voice that opinion.

 

"She must have been special." She said in a gentle voice, as if she understood everything that had just happened.

 

Gojyo was too shocked and still too overcome by grief to respond with more then a "Huh?".

 

"The woman you were thinking of while we fucked.  She must have been special."

 

In the back of his mind he noted that he had never heard the word fucked ever sound so gentle.

 

He tried to collect himself before he spoke, "It was a he, not a she."

 

"Hmm, I thought it might have been.  Hakkai sounded too masculine a name to belong to a woman."

 

Had there been a light on the room she would have seen the wide eyed look of shock on his face, and he was thankful that it was dark in here. 

 

"He must have been a lucky man, Sha Gojyo."

 

Hearing this caused the tears to flow harder from the red head's eyes and it took every ounce of his control to keep from sobbing.

 

"No.  His luck has run out," Gojyo replied in a steady voice that was threatening to crumble, "it was me who was lucky."

 

Atsuko opened the door then, and light from the hall flooded in.  Gojyo lowered his head so she wouldn't see his tears, but he had a feeling she knew anyways.

 

"Until we meet again Sha Gojyo," she said as she walked out the door, closing it behind her.

 

 

*****

 

 

Although he hadn't wanted to, Sanzo had listened intently for sounds coming from Gojyo's room.  He wasn't sure what he was waiting for, but he thought it best to be vigil.  He couldn't imagine the half breed to be so stupidly drunk as to abuse a woman, but he waited for it none the less.

 

He heard the occasionally feminine moan and was pretty sure things were going to be ok, but still he listened.  And even if he hadn't been listening on purpose, he probably would have heard what came next anyways.

 

He heard Gojyo call out Hakkai's name, and it startled him, but for more then the fact that Gojyo had just called out the name of his dead lover while fucking a woman.  There was so much anger and pain in that voice that Sanzo couldn't help but feel bad.  The feeling was very short lived though and Sanzo wondered with amusement what Gojyo's lady friend had thought of his cry.

 

Sanzo still listened once Gojyo had gone silent, but he could not make out the conversation that followed before he heard the woman walk out of Gojyo's room and (Sanzo hoped) out of his life.  It just wasn't what they needed right now.

 

Sanzo put his gun aside but he still sat up listening incase anything else happened.  He didn't really want to be prying in Gojyo's affairs, but right now they couldn't afford the consequences that would follow if Gojyo did something stupid.

 

Sanzo tried to stay awake to listen, but the exhaustion and the stress and the strain of the last few days was catching up to him and he fell asleep still sitting up.  His sleep was far deeper then normal and he did not wake to the sounds of sobs coming from the room next door, nor the sound of breaking glass.

 

 

*****

 

Gojyo sat and chained smoked for a little bit after Atsuko left.  At some point during the blackening of his lungs he had stopped crying, though Gojyo thought it was simply because he had no tears left to cry.

 

He felt the sudden need to piss, and never one to ignore the call of nature, Gojyo went to the bathroom to relieve himself.  After having done this, Gojyo stood in front of the sink staring at the mirror.  His eyes were red.  He had to laugh at this thought because it sounded like he was stating the obvious, but they really were red.  The whites of his eyes were bloodshot, mostly from the booze he knew, but the tears had done their part as well.  His eyelids were swollen and red as well and he could also see thin lines of black on his lids from stress and worry.

 

He began to stare intently at the scars on his cheek, the scars that Hakkai had said on many occasions that he loved so much.  And it wasn't weird to Gojyo because he too had loved Hakkai's own scar.  In the beginning they had both been scared men who found comfort in each other's pain.  Gojyo rested a hand on his belly, right where Hakkai's scar would have been.  He wished he could feel it now.  He wanted that more then anything.  But the thought of scars left him to think of another wound, the one he had received a few days before.  The one that Hakkai had tried to heal before moving on.  He hadn't tried to look at it yet, hadn't had the courage, but he wanted to see it now.

 

He pulled his hair over his shoulders so it ran down his chest and he turned around, looking back into the mirror.  He knew Hakkai hadn't had the energy in him nor the time to heel it fully.  He knew that from a practical stand point but also from the fact that he was still able to feel it there.  He could see a thin line stretching from his right shoulder blade to his lower mid back where the skin still hadn't fully healed, though it was close.  It might scar after healing, but it might not, he couldn't be sure.

 

Looking at the wound made him think of those last moments.  He remembered the warmth of Hakkai's Chi, he remembered wanting to scream at Hakkai to stop, but even if he had, it would have done no good.  But most of all he remember the smile on Hakkai's face, the smile he had so badly wanted to forget.  And then he remembered knowing Hakkai was about to leave for good, and he remembered that he couldn't watch it and he had closed his eyes so he didn't have to see it…

 

And before he knew it, Gojyo had turned around with lightning speed, slamming his fist into the mirror with force he rarely used on anything other than a tough youkai.  The glass shattered around his fist, the cracks splintering off to cover the entire mirror.  Small pieces of glass dug into his hand and he began to cry tears he thought he had run out of.  The tears were not those of physical pain, Gojyo rarely felt physical pain that made him even think of crying, let alone actually doing it.  But these were tears of pain none-the-less, the emotional sort, the kind that he feared above any others. Gojyo's heart had come out of where ever it had gone to hide while he had been with Atsuko and every beat hurt him, enough to make him gasp for breath as he pulled his fist away from the mirror to the sound of falling glass.

 

He grabbed one of the larger fragments of glass from the sink and held it firmly in his hand.  He felt it pierce the skin of his palm and he felt the warm blood start to flow.  He stared at the blood, thinking that if he wanted to, he could end all the pain now, it wouldn't be that hard and he found that he was very much enjoying the sight of his blood dripping onto the white porcelain of the sink.  He dug the glass deeper into his hand and the blood began to flow faster.

 

He backed up until he was against the wall opposite the shattered mirror and slid down to the floor of the bathroom, the tiles cold against his bare flesh.  He brought the piece of glass he held against his firm abdomen, so close to where Hakkai's twisted scar had begun and he felt the sharp end pierce his flesh deeply, though not so deep that it would be that dangerous.  He banged his head back against the wall as he felt the blood leaving his body then he leaned forward as he pulled the glass from his flesh, the tears that still flowed dripping down to mingle with his blood.  And strangely enough, in this protest against life, Gojyo began to feel alive again.  It was comforting at first, but in being aware of things about him, the pain in his heart was only that much clearer.

 

He tossed the glass across the small bathroom and pulled himself up using the sink as support.  He stumbled out of the bathroom, his blood dripping down his body and onto the carpet as he walked.  He sat on the edge of the bed and lit a cigarette then reached for the bottle of Sake he had purchased at the bar.  He held it in his hand, thinking of all the times he and Hakkai had drank away the night, lying in bed, or on the floor or where ever they decided to plop down.  He opened the bottle and took in the scent of the Sake and it reminded him of Hakkai's breath and the taste of his lips. 

 

Gojyo searched his reeling brain for something proper to say, and thought back to a night in his old town when he had been at his favored bar listening to a group of guys who where mourning the loss of a friend.  And by mourning the loss of a friend that meant they were drinking and being rowdy and loud and generally having a good time because they were men and men don't get emotional, or whatever.  Several of them had provided goofy toasts so they could mask their pain with their humor, but one of them had made a toast that had sounded rather profound, especially in comparison to the ones that had come before.  Gojyo recalled it now and spoke it to the empty room.

 

"Hakkai, my friend, you lived respected and died regretted."

 

And to that he drank.  He drank to the memories, he drank to the lonely nights ahead, but mostly he just drank.  Half the bottle gone, he finished his cigarette, then finished off the remaining Sake, launching the bottle across the room when it was gone.  It shattered loudly against the wall, shards of glass going this way and that. 

 

And then Gojyo laid back on the bed, the one he would have shared with Hakkai, but instead he had shared with Atsuko.  The blood was still flowing from his side, though his hand felt like it had stopped bleeding.  He was light headed but he wasn't sure it was from loss of blood or from the Sake or the drinks before.  He felt queasy and he had a feeling it was a combination of all. 

 

He closed his eyes and concentrated on the life flowing from his side.  He wondered, if he fell asleep now would he wake up in the morning?  He wasn't sure and he didn't really care.  He wanted to escape, even if only into his dreams or his nightmares.

 

He shut his eyes tighter and let the darkness take him.

 

 

*****

 

 

It had to be a dream.  He knew it was, but he didn't care.

 

Hakkai was lying next to him, smiling that Hakkai smile.  They were on their sides, facing each other, only a scant breath of air separating their bodies.  Hakkai was running his hand through his blood red hair.  He was running his hand down Hakkai's side, feeling every line, every muscle…

 

And then he felt something hot and wet and sticky.  He tried to push the thought from his mind.  He tried to pretend he didn't know what it was. 

 

He tried to pretend he didn't hear Hakkai screaming…   

 

 

*****

 

 

Gojyo awoke to knocking at the door to his room.  He opened his eyes.

 

Fuck!

 

He closed his eyes.  The light coming in the window was blinding, his head was pounding, and he was pretty sure he was still drunk. 

 

The knock came again.

 

"Go away," Gojyo groaned.

 

"But Gojyo…"

 

Goku, of course.  If it had been Sanzo, he wouldn't have just been patiently knocking. 

 

"Leave me alone monkey."

 

Silence.

 

Gojyo slowly opened his eyes again, allowing them to adjust to the light.  He surveyed the room.  Broken glass littered the floor.  He saw a few smears of blood as well and was at first a little frightened by it, he tried to rack this thoughts to figure out where it had come from.  He was pretty sure it was his own, but he wasn't positive until he felt the throbbing pain in his hand and on his side.

 

He was roused from his thoughts by the sound of a turning doorknob.  He hoped like hell he had locked the door, but he heard it squeak open a crack.  Guess not.

 

"Goku, you are walking on shaky ground."

 

"I just…I just wanted to make sure you were ok."

 

"Well, I'm not.  Now go away."

 

"But…"

 

Gojyo sat up in the bed, tangled in the bed sheet.  He was loosing his patience.  He stood up, sheet wrapped around his waist, he noticed blood on the sheets as well.  He suddenly felt a sharp pain in his foot.

 

"Aw, fucking Hell," he cried out, more out of shock then anything else.

 

"Gojyo, what happened?" Goku cried as he pushed the door the rest of the way open.

 

Gojyo saw the look of shock that immediately covered Goku's face.  "Watch out Goku, there's glass on the floor."

 

Gojyo sat back on the bed and pulled the piece of glass from his foot.  It was just a tiny piece, barely left a mark, but damn had it hurt.  He reached over to where his boots were sitting and grabbed them, putting them on quickly.

 

He heard Goku take a step forward.

 

"Don't come any closer Goku."

 

"But there's blood on you…" Goku started to say as he took another step.

 

"I said don't come any closer you fucking deaf monkey." Gojyo practically screamed the words. 

 

Goku froze.  Gojyo was pretty sure he had never outright yelled at the monkey like that before.  He almost felt bad.  Almost.

 

And then Gojyo hear the sound of a door being flung open.

 

 

*****

 

 

After he heard Goku leave the room, Sanzo sat up in bed.  He knew where the monkey was going.  The thought of Goku becoming the new Den Mother of the group made him cringe.

 

He could hear muffled words as he put on his robes.

 

He heard Gojyo's startled cry and a quieter cry from Goku.  He tensed.

 

And then he heard Gojyo's scream and he was jerking the door to the room open before he knew he was doing it.

 

Sanzo's mind was whirling with images of what he'd do to the stupid half breed if he laid a hand on the monkey.

 

He stormed into Gojyo's room, pushing past Goku who stood stock still as if he were a statue.  Sanzo looked around the room.  There was glass everywhere, and he saw the blood.  He glanced in the bathroom and saw the broken mirror and more blood. 

 

Jesus Fucking Christ.

 

"What the fuck were you thinking you stupid water sprite?"  Sanzo made no effort to keep his voice low.

 

"Fuck you monk."

 

"Sanzo…I can help Gojyo clean it up." Goku offered meekly.

 

"Shut up Monkey, you are not the new Den Mother." Sanzo's voice was slightly calmer as he addressed the young man.

 

"Oi Sanzo, why not," Gojyo mused as he walked up to the monk, his voice sharp like a dagger, "might as well let him, seeing as how Hakkai is gone."

 

There was something about the way Gojyo said gone that really bothered Sanzo.

 

"Shut up Kappa.  We were spoiled by our good fortune of having Hakkai around.  We'll have to learn to take care of ourselves," Sanzo looked at the wound on Gojyo's stomach, "a task which looks like it will be easier for some then others."

 

"Shut up Monk, just because Hakkai is gone it doesn't mean I can't take care of myself."

 

"Stop it!" Sanzo barked at the red head, who stared back at Sanzo, "Hakkai isn't gone, Gojyo."

 

"What the fuck is that supposed to mean Monk?"

 

"It means exactly what it sounds like.  You talk about Hakkai like he's gone to the Market to get supplies, like he'll be coming back any minute.  He's not coming back Gojyo."

 

Sanzo watched the anger build up in Gojyo's eyes as he fixed the monk with a glare that, frankly, unnerved him, though that was something he would never admit.

 

"Ah, I see," Gojyo's voice was trembling, "Well, what did you want me to say then, hmmm?  That he's fucking dead?  That I couldn't even bare to watch him die in my arms?  That I saved him once but couldn't save him again?  That his last fucking act was to heal me even though I couldn't do shit for him?  Is that what you want to hear?"

 

"It's a start…"

 

"You fucking asshole," Gojyo screamed as he swung out at the monk with amazing speed, hitting Sanzo square in the nose.

 

Goku gasped as Sanzo stumbled backwards, some how managing not to fall on his ass.  Sanzo focused all his attention on Gojyo.

 

"Got that out of your system now?"

 

"Not in the least bit, I'm just getting started."

 

Gojyo lunged at Sanzo, giving the monk a chance to display his own incredible speed as he drew his gun.  Gojyo put on the breaks, managing not to crash into Sanzo, drawing up right in front of Sanzo's gun, the muzzle of which now rested lightly against the half breed's forehead.

 

Sanzo thumbed the hammer back, "Is this what you want, Gojyo?"

 

"Sanzo, what are you doing?" Goku almost screamed.

 

"Shut up Goku!" Sanzo snapped back.

 

"Well, Kappa?" Sanzo noticed Gojyo flinch at the playful way in which he had pronounced Goku's taunt which had somehow become Hakkai's pet name for the half breed, "Is it?  If it is just say the word."

 

Sanzo accented his words by pushing the gun harder against Gojyo's forehead, causing him to step back.  For each step Gojyo took backwards, Sanzo filled the gap with a step of his own.

 

"What the fuck is your problem?"

 

"Me?" Sanzo almost laughed, "I don't have a problem.  I am trying to show you that you have a problem."  He applied more pressure to the half breed's forehead.

 

"Fuck you Sanzo," Gojyo practically spat the words out, "What did you expect?  I fucking loved him and now he is dead."

 

Gojyo amazed Sanzo then by actually pushing his own forehead harder against the gun's muzzle.

 

"What I expected was exactly what you've done.  I expected you to turn into a ball of self destructive rage." he paused, staring into Gojyo's blood red eyes, "But what I hoped for was that in all that time you spent with Hakkai that you would have grown.  Fuck, at some point I thought you actually had.  I was apparently wrong."

 

Gojyo only stared back at Sanzo, a small tear trickling from his eye.  Sanzo had never seen the man so utterly dumbstruck.  He had also never seen the man cry.  He'd seen him close, but never over the edge.  It was unsettling.

 

"There is one last thing you need to hear, and I'll only say it once: It. Wasn't. Your. Fault."  Each word again accented buy pressure applied to the gun resting against Gojyo's forehead as if he was trying to shoot the words in to the half breed's brain.  Gojyo stumbled back until he came in contact with the wall behind him. 

 

"I'll do you a favor now, I'll give you a choice.  You can either drop this self-destruction bullshit or I can put you out of your misery and give you a chance to catch up with Hakkai."

 

Sanzo glared up at Gojyo and for a brief moment the red head looked as if he had given up.  In the farthest reaches of his mind, Sanzo thought that seeing that look on Gojyo's face was almost devastating.  Sanzo had no real like of the half breed, at least not in the way that Goku seemed to have, but he did secretly admire the way Gojyo lived, carefree, in the moment, no regrets - for the most part anyway - and to see that man look like he had given up made Sanzo want to slap him until he regained his senses.

 

Seconds passed.

 

Sanzo closed his eyes, waiting for a response.

 

"Like I'd give you the satisfaction of killing me."

 

Sanzo lowered his gun with out saying a word and watched as Gojyo sank to the floor, never taking his eyes of the monk.

 

Satisfied, Sanzo turned and gave Goku a good looking over.  The young man was in utter shock.  He just stood their staring. 

 

"Come on Goku, the water sprite needs to be alone for a bit longer."

 

His words roused Goku out of his statue like appearance. 

 

"Help me get cleaned up and we'll go get breakfast."

 

The mention of food brought Goku almost completely back to normal.  "OK Sanzo."  He spared a glance at Gojyo, who looked away, then closed the door behind him.

 

 

***** 

 

Once back in their room, Sanzo stormed into the bathroom to check out his new injury.  Blood was dripping down his face, it wasn't pouring down, so that was at least good, but he could tell by how quickly his nose was swelling that the injury was bad enough.  It hurt like a bitch.  He turned on the water in the sink and grabbed a towel so he could begin to clean himself up.  As he ran the towel under the water, he called out to Goku.

 

"Goku, go tell Hakkai I need his assist…"

 

Fuck!

 

"Sanzo…?"

 

"Just shut up monkey.  Don't say a word."  Sanzo threw the towel onto the floor, then rested both of his hands on the edge of the sink letting them support his weight.  He closed his eyes.  Apparently Gojyo wasn't the only once having trouble adjusting.  He had just told Gojyo they were going to have to take care of themselves and still he had called for their healer.

 

"I can help you Sanzo."  Sanzo turned his head to look at the young man who had grabbed the towel from the floor. "I'll help you clean up and then we can see if there is someone who can take a look at your nose."


Sanzo sighed and nodded.  "Hold on there is something I need to do first. Go stand in the bedroom."

 

Goku looked at Sanzo with a mixture of fear and curiosity but he obeyed.

 

Sanzo took a couple deep breaths, closed his eyes, then placed his hands about his swelling nose.  He inhaled again, holding it in the time.  Then he applied pressure to his nose and face.

 

Both Sanzo and Goku heard the sickening pop that followed.

 

Mother fucking son of a bitch.  I should have killed that fucking kappa.

 

Blinded with pain he punched out at the first thing he could, which happened to be the bathroom mirror.  The mirror cracked around the spot where his fist had connected, a few pieces falling into the sink.

 

God damn it.  Now I'm gonna have to pay for two mirrors.

 

"Sanzo?" Goku cried out meekly from the bedroom, "Are you ok?"

 

"Yeah yeah, I'm fine, get your ass in here and help me out."

 

 

*****

 

 

It. Wasn't. Your. Fault.

 

Sanzo's words rang through Gojyo's mind.  It was hard to find comfort in them.

 

But I saved him once.  Why couldn't I do it again? 

 

And from deep in the back of his mind Gojyo heard another voice, a voice he would never forget.

 

Silly Kappa.  There was nothing anyone could do.  It was just time.

 

Gojyo surprised himself by speaking out loud as if Hakkai were standing before him instead of just being a voice he had conjured in his head,  "But I wasn't ready.  We wasted so much time.  Dammit, I wasn't ready."

 

I know.  Neither was I.

 

"I loved you.  I love you still."

 

There was no response from the voice, but Gojyo didn't need one.  He wasn't so insecure that he needed a fake voice in his head to tell him Hakkai had loved him.  He smiled and picked himself off the floor.

 

 

*****

 

 

Sanzo sat quietly at the table watching Goku shovel down food with less vigor then usual.  He never expected the monkey to have been this badly effected by Gojyo's actions.  Oh, he expected Goku to be hurt by the loss of Hakkai, but his genuine concern for Gojyo was astounding.  Then again, the two seemed to have a real brotherly connection that Sanzo often had trouble understanding.

 

Sanzo sighed, then winced as the action reminded him of his nose.  Goku had helped him clean up, then they visited a local doctor who examined him and said that his nose should heal, though perhaps not perfectly straight.  He gave him some pain killers that Sanzo doubted he would use.

 

Sanzo continued picking at his food and smoking a cigarette and suddenly Sanzo noticed things had become oddly quiet.  He looked at Goku who had stopped eating and was staring behind him, so Sanzo adjusted himself to see what had grabbed the monkey's attention.

 

It was Gojyo.  The red head stood behind Sanzo, he looked showered and clean, his tan skin almost shining.  His hair was wet and pulled back in a ponytail.  His hand was bandaged and Sanzo assumed that he had also bandaged his stomach.  He stood their not really smiling, but not frowning either.

 

Goku suddenly broke the silence, "Are you ok Gojyo?"

 

God, he sounds like a broken record.

 

"No, not really Goku, but I will be."  As Gojyo spoke he walked to take a seat next to Goku, ruffling the young man's hair as he did so.

 

"Oh, well, I guess that's OK then."

 

Sanzo "Hmph'd" and returned to picking at his food.

 

"Oi, Sanzo," Gojyo spoke after he had ordered some food, "after this we should go for a ride."

 

Sanzo's raised his eyebrow, "What for?"

 

"I'm gonna teach you how to drive." Gojyo paused, gauging the monk's reaction, "You drive like shit and if something happens to me, you're probably not gonna want the monkey to be your chauffer."

 

The half breed had a point there.

 

"Hey, I could drive…if someone taught me."

 

"Shit, you probably couldn't reach the peddles."

 

"Shut up you stupid water sprite."

 

"Make me you hairy ape."

 

Gojyo and Goku began to bicker and Sanzo tried to tune them out.  He thought it was a shame Hakkai had died before passing on the secrets of how he ever managed to tune out these two children.

 

"You're just a pervy cockroach who…HEY that was mine."

 

Sanzo watched Gojyo smile as he popped a piece of pilfered food into his mouth.

 

Why did he have to leave me stuck with these too.  I would trade both of them to get him back in a heartbeat. 

 

Sanzo's smile went unnoticed by his two companions.

 

 

*****

 

 

They stayed in the city for another night, Sanzo having decided that since they had already wasted so much time, one more night couldn't hurt.

 

Gojyo did take Sanzo out to drive, an event that consisted of a lot of swearing from Sanzo & Gojyo, terrified and amused screams from Goku and chirps of displeasure from the poor abused Jeep, whom after having enough torment for one day had simply transformed, dumping his passengers on the ground and forcing them to walk back from the city's outskirts where they had gone to practice.

 

When they left the next day Gojyo drove, though he was adamant that Sanzo was not yet done with his driving lessons.

 

They headed west.  Always west.

 

 

***Epilogue***

 

 

 

It is a beautiful day.

 

There is a town and on the outskirts of the town, there is a house.  It is not a large house, but it is a nice house, one that any small family would be happy to live in. 

 

In the front yard there are two children, a girl of about four with blonde hair and blue eyes and a boy of about six with brown hair and hazel eyes.  They are sitting in the grass, playing with a white dragon who's beady red eyes shine in the daylight.       

 

The children giggle and jump about, enjoying a day where they'd have no lessons to sit through and no schoolwork to finish.

 

From the side of the house walks a tall shirtless man, his long red hair seemingly on fire as the rays of the sun highlight it.  His red eyes match his hair color perfectly.  His skin is darkly tanned, except for two scars on his cheek and scar on his belly.  He seems fairly young, but there is something in his eyes that says he has seen far too much to ever feel as young and free as he once did.  He remembers those days all too clearly but it keeps him grounded, and it somehow keeps him sane.  Remembering makes him appreciate what he has even if it also reminds him of what he has lost.

 

The red head watches the two children at play and smiles, though the smile is somehow sad.  He seems to push away whatever thought has popped up from his mind and walks to a hose connected to the house and uses it to wash the sweat from his body.  And as he stands under the hose and turns, his hair falls to the side and for a moment we see another scar on his back.  It is very light and very thin, but it is there, a white line against his darker flesh, and then it is gone, covered again by wet strands of fire red hair.  He shakes off the excess water, some of which lands on the children who giggle and yelp playfully.

 

And as the man stands in the sunlight, already starting to dry in the day's heat, he see two figures walking from the nearby trees.  He knows these men all too well, he's spent too much time with them to ever forget, even if they had changed as time went on.  One walks with bounding steps, still like a kid, even though he was no longer the child the red head had first met.  The other wears the robes of a monk and walks with a noticeable limp, but even as he limps he gives off an air of dignity, as well as a feeling of "don't fuck with me or I'll shoot you where you stand".  But that was always how the monk had been and the red head didn't think that would ever change.

 

The red head smiles and waves and the younger of the two waves back and then he calls to the two children, telling them to go inside to wash up and they do, the dragon flying protectively behind them.

 

The two men arrive and pleasantries are exchanged (if rough housing, name calling and profound remarks such as "ch" and "hmpf" can be called pleasantries), and the group of three friends (though the monk may be slow to admit that's what they were) walk into the house and out of sight.

 

There is a town and on the outskirts of the town there is a house.  In the backyard behind the house there is a tree and in the ground at the foot of the tree's trunk there is a plaque.  It is small and almost hidden by the grass around it.  One might think it is a marker for a grave, and in a way it is, though no body lies beneath it, but instead far to the west.  The plaque bears no name, but it doesn't need to, those who know it's there know who it's for and they know the six words that are engraved upon it are all that need be said:

 

Bound to many, loved by one.

 

 

Yes, it is indeed a beautiful day.

 

 

 

The End

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