Title: Zang Fu Theory, Part 2: Pericardium (Heart Protector)
Email: ladylotusmoon (a) hotmail (o) com
Summary: Sanzo and Hakkai are called away in the middle of the night to help a severely injured farmer and Gojyo is left babysitting a dragon.
Warning: Language, Sexual Situations
Notes: I hate the monocle, so in this fic Hakkai wears glasses. There's a glossary at the end for those of you who are dorky like me...
Zang-Fu theory is a concept within traditional Chinese medicine that describes the functions of the organs of the body and the interactions that occur between them. The organs are associated energetically with the five elements of wood, fire, earth, water and metal. The Pericardium (Heart Protector) defends the Heart from dangerous external influences and is associated with Fire.
Gojyo had loudly praised the gods when the group had arrived in the town the day before and discovered its proximity to a hot spring meant an onsen ryokan, an inn with a public bath. It was wholly unexpected, especially after driving past so many impoverished-looking farms. He was sure they'd end up in some shit hole, or camping out again.
As he shimmied out of his narrow jeans in the deserted datsuijyo, changing room, the redhead was almost grateful enough to burn a stick of incense for the local water deity. Naked, he kicked the crumpled pile of denim closer to the wall and dropped the big folded bath towel onto the bench.
Carrying the small towel and the ikkou's communal bath bag into the equally empty araiba, Gojyo sat on the stool next to the only full bucket in the washing area. It was the knife's edge of dawn, and he'd been lucky enough to catch the innkeeper's daughter in the kitchen starting the day. A little of the old Gojyo charm, and he had the blushing girl heating water and lighting lanterns for him. If he'd put in even a bit of effort, he could of had the cute little thing scrubbing his back, too, but he wasn't in the mood for a sudsy slap and tickle.
Taking a breath, Gojyo grabbed the edges of the bucket and dumped half of the warm water over his head. With a gasp, the redhead shook himself, then dropped the washcloth into the bucket and bent over to retrieve the bar of rice bran soap from the bag. Soaping up the washcloth, he began vigorously scrubbing his chest and stomach.
Gojyo's leanly muscular torso had been spattered, smeared and soiled by various types of body fluids on the battlefield and in the bedroom, but this was the first time in his life he'd washed off dragon spunk.
"Fuck," Gojyo muttered.
When he left Hakkai and Sanzo's room, Hakuryu had been curled up in a sleeping ball on the foot of the bed. Gojyo had done some kinky shit, but bestiality hadn't been on the list. He had no freaking clue what had gotten into the little guy. Gojyo unstoppered the bottle of shampoo and poured a generous amount of the dark yellow liquid into the palm of his hand. As he worked the shampoo through his shoulder-length hair, the sweet smell of the camellia oil started soothing his frazzled nerves.
Hakkai used camellia oil in the medicinal creams he made for sunburns, scrapes, rashes, bug bites and other various annoyances the ikkou managed to collect on the road. The scent clung to the healer; particularly his hands, the herbal aroma wafting around the glowing tendrils of chi when he healed...
Gojyo felt his penis stir between his spread legs and frowned. Since when did thinking about his best friend give him a dick twitch? Closing his eyes and holding his breath, he dumped the rest of the bucket water over his head. Slicking his hair back with his left hand, he snagged the washcloth with the other as he stood up.
"What're ya thinkin', pal?" Gojyo asked his penis, now suitably limp after the dousing of cooled water.
Nipples hardened and tanned skin goosebumped from the slight breeze generated by his long-legged stride across the room. Gojyo pushed aside the blue and white noren with his forearm, his unusual height forcing him to duck anyway as he stepped into the yokujyo, the bathing room proper. Warm, humid air smelling like damp cedar mixed with burnt matches and salt, wrapped around his nakedness as he glanced around the room illuminated by the soft glow of the single paper lantern. Three rectangular, wooden tubs set into slight recesses in the wooden floor framed with black rocks lined the wall. Gojyo padded over to the closest one, dark water shimmering in the lamplight.
Gojyo eased his right foot into the steaming water. A smile lifted his face even as his toes curled involuntarily. The bath water was only a couple of degrees shy of a crab boil. Just the way he liked it. The redhead slowly eased himself in, an occasional pleased hiss escaping from him as his body adjusted. Scooting his ass down, Gojyo raised his knees up out of the water to drop his shoulders in. As usual, the tub wasn't long enough to accommodate his six foot frame.
"Ow!" Gojyo flinched when he sunk in up to his chin and a sharp sting pricked his neck. Sitting up, long fingers probed the sore spot. The redheaded lothario had borne his share of passion marks, but none of them had smarted as much as a dragon love bite.
"Fuckin' flying rat," Gojyo grumbled.
He dunked the washcloth, wrung it out, and laid it on top of his head to keep the chill away from his wet hair. His pleasure at the sensual experience of the hot bath dimmed. The whole incident with Hakuryu was pretty embarrassing, and the free-spirited Kappa did not embarrass easily. There was no way in Hell he was going to be able to hide the bite. He could lie to the monkey, the monk wouldn't give a crap even if he deigned to notice, but Hakkai would know what it was the second he saw it. Then Gojyo would be forced to tell him what happened.
Cupping water in his palms, Gojyo absently poured the hot liquid over his exposed knees. Well, maybe he didn't have to tell Hakkai all the specifics.
"I was just pettin' the little guy," Gojyo spoke slowly, testing out the lie, "and I must've gotten too rough."
Gojyo pictured Hakkai's frown, the glint of glasses as the head dropped to show disappointed brown eyes in an impassive face. That's right. Gojyo was supposed to be looking after the dragon. Plus, the hanyou had never "accidentally" hurt anyone. Which Hakkai knew. Because Hakkai knew everything about him. Gojyo splashed water with the flat of his hand.
"Shit." There was no way he could lie to Hakkai. He was gonna have to tell him the truth.
Gojyo closed his eyes and desperately wished for the pack of cigarettes left in the room.
* * *
One heartbeat Sanzo was asleep and the next he was fully awake. It was always that way with him. He never understood lazing about in bed. A lifetime in the temple waking at dawn for morning prayers and traveling on the road had trained his body to be so. Without opening his eyes, Sanzo's senses assembled his surroundings almost instantly; the quickening dawn rising up through the broken door and pinking the inside of his eyelids, the smell of camellia oil brushing softly under his chin, the steady heartbeat under his hand.
Sometime during the turbulent night, Hakkai had shifted so his back was pressed against Sanzo's chest. The front of Hakkai's tunic and Sanzo's robe had come undone during the wrestling last night, so the blonde's hand rested on the healer's long-sleeved black undershirt made of karami ori, sha silk, as was his own. Sanzo's thumb lightly stroked the soft material. As an young acolyte, Sanzo had sat and watched a master weave the karami ori. The old monk had explained as his gnarled but nimble fingers moved, thin body bent nearly double to bring his watery eyes close enough to the loom to see his work.
"The secret of karami ori," the weaver had explained in a voice as light as the shifting silk, "is the twisting of the warp threads in pairs. The weft thread is inserted between the twists, forming an open weave both strong and beautiful..."
It was the image of the two black threads twisting together that had come to mind when Sanzo worked with Hakkai on controlling his chi, carefully wrapping chants around the newly-turned youkai's wild energy, guiding, coaxing. In the garden outside Sanzo's quarters, the pair would sit in lotus position facing each other so closely their knees would brush when one shifted. Once the image of the twisting threads had come to him, Sanzo had ordered a karami ori shirt for the healer. The protest had been instantaneous and loud.
"But, Sanzo-sama, the karami ori is only for the most pure and holiest..."
"... for the most sacred ceremonies..."
"... appearances in the royal court..."
"Urusai!" Sanzo barked.
The snap of his robes was loud in the shocked silence as Sanzo spun around and stalked off. The next morning, carefully wrapped in rice paper, a black, long-sleeved karami ori shirt was left outside his door. Having won that battle easily, Sanzo was again irritated when the healer attempted to decline the shirt.
"Che. Suit yourself." Refusing to argue with his grown student, Sanzo narrowed his eyes and tossed the shirt in the air.
Hakkai deftly caught the silk before it fluttered to the ground. Green eyes met purple. In a sudden capitulation, the healer calmly folded the shirt against his chest and bowed deeply before turning and leaving the garden. The shirt and power limiters were the only objects Hakkai took away with him when he finished training and departed the monastery.
Sanzo shifted between the worn blankets on the hard dirt floor so his cheek brushed Hakkai's ear, the cold metal of the limiters bright and sharp. The three ear cuffs were charged and placed on Hakkai's ear by Sanzo's own hands. This close, the monk could detect the slight buzz of power, feel the echo of his own chi signature. He recalled with perfect clarity Hakkai's expression when he slipped the cuffs on; a devastating mixture of fear and trust, hope and despair. The tender flesh had been cold, and to this day Sanzo was unsure if it was Hakkai or his own fingers that had been shaking.
Frowning, Sanzo flattened his hand against Hakkai's chest. He should have been able to easily feel the other man's body heat through the loose weave. Hakkai's skin was still colder than it should have been.
The monk channeled a small amount of chi into the morning chant, Atta Dipa, to banish the lingering effects of the fire oni. It wasn't a true healing like Hakkai performed. Sanzo never spent much time practicing the healing arts despite various attempts by older monks to persuade him to do so. He had focused his time and energy on what would best serve his purpose. Battle Chants: attack, deflect, cast out, barrier break. Healing required a tedious subtlety, a compassion to forge the connection with the afflicted.
Sanzo was neither subtle nor compassionate. He was not Hakkai.
"You are the light itself
Rely on yourself
Do not rely on others.
The Dharma is the light
Do not rely on anything other than the Dharma."
Hakkai awoke on the first "light"; Sanzo could feel the quickening of the heart beneath his palm, the change of rhythm in his breathing. Other than those two subtle signs, Hakkai kept still until the chant was finished. Sanzo wondered what the healer was thinking. In that regard, the two men were complete opposites. Sanzo said exactly what he thought, did what he wanted, and took the straightest path to his goal. He was like a bullet shot: abrupt, direct, and sometimes fatal.
Hakkai was enigmatic. Every word, every silence, had multiple meanings that had to be interpreted like haiku.
"Thank you, Sanzo," Hakkai said quietly.
"Che," Sanzo snorted softly. "I need you healthy."
Time seemed to slow as purple eyes widened in surprise. For a moment, Sanzo watched the dust motes swirl in the beams of light slanting over their heads in the otherwise dark shed. When Sanzo had said 'I need you', Hakkai's heart thumped hard beneath his palm, and the healer's breath had caught slightly before evening out. Such a tiny event, it was barely detectable. But, Sanzo had once spent an entire day with his master counting the shades of pink in a cluster of cherry blossoms. A lesson in observation.
The cherry blossoms had opened the door to a world of vibrant beauty so painfully intense, Sanzo had to walk through the garden with squinted eyes for weeks.
The catch in Hakkai's breath opened an entirely different kind of door. The rhythm of the healer's breathing became more forced, and Sanzo saw the pulse jump in the slender neck above the black shirt. Hakkai knew he had noticed.
Sanzo remembered the feel of Hakkai's lean frame pressed intimately against him; the taste of his mouth. The blond felt his morning erection harden. He wondered what a cigarette would taste like after Hakkai.
In the span of time it took one of the dust motes to spiral through the light, the decision had been made.
Sanzo had always taken the most direct path.
* * *
Hakkai woke to soft chanting in his ear, making the limiters buzz slightly. Green eyes snapped open, and there was an instant of blurred disorientation from the false one, before the dim interior of the farmer's shack came into focus. He had a moment to register how hot Sanzo's palm felt on his chest, even through his shirt, then the monk's chi manifested in the chant.
It felt as if an invisible fist gathered up icy cobwebs laying over Hakkai's skin and abruptly jerked them away. With a conscious effort, Hakkai kept himself from flinching. Sanzo's chi was not gentle.
The hand on his chest cooled. Or, to be more precise, Hakkai's body temperature rose to normal, so the difference between them became negligible.
Skin. Flesh. The same tongue currently engaged in chant, thrusting into his mouth and sucking so hard the healer thought he was going to draw out his soul. Hakkai cleared his throat.
"Thank you, Sanzo," Hakkai said.
"Che." A soft snort stirred the hair on the back of Hakkai's neck.
"I need you healthy," Sanzo said in his ear.
The sound of the monk's voice, so intimately pitched, sent a jolt through Hakkai's system. He quickly got the breathing under control, hoping Sanzo hadn't noticed. There was nothing he could do about the hardness between his legs, but fortunately, he was facing away from the other man.
A slight intake of breath behind him, too small to even be a gasp, and Hakkai knew Sanzo had noticed. The healer closed his eyes. Albeit during a possession, Hakkai had still attempted to initiate physical intimacy last night. That incident, taken with his involuntary reaction just now, could be misconstrued by the monk as sexual interest. Hakkai was mortified.
"Sanzo," Hakkai began, then stopped abruptly when the pale hand on his black silk shirt slid down to his waist.
"What are you doing?" Hakkai asked in his best no-nonsense tone, spoiled by the raised pitch at the end.
"Verifying," Sanzo responded.
Fingertips slid over the rough fabric of his trousers, firmly outlining the shape of his erection. To Hakkai's acute embarrassment, his member grew under the touch. Sanzo removed his hand, and Hakkai relaxed fractionally in relief, until the monk started undoing the fastenings.
Hakkai startled at the cold touch of the arm glove ring on Sanzo's middle finger. The ring slid down along the side of his penis, an odd contrast to the warm, silken glove. All the blood seemed to drain out of his brain into his groin, making the healer feel slow-witted.
"Wait," Hakkai breathed. He grabbed Sanzo's wrist, which the monk ignored. "I believe you may have misunderstood. Ah!"
His hips bucked forward involuntarily when Sanzo grasped his erection and squeezed firmly. At the same time, Sanzo scooted closer, pressing their bodies together tightly. Even through the double layer of their trousers, Hakkai could feel Sanzo's erection pressing against the small of his back.
"I-it's merely a physical response to..."
"Be quiet." Sanzo's left arm shifted under Hakkai's neck and two slender fingers were thrust into his mouth.
Green eyes widened in surprise and Hakkai froze. With his youkai strength, he could easily break free of Sanzo's demanding hands. In the entire ikkou, the human monk was the most physically frail. It was that very vulnerability that kept Hakkai at his back during battles, watching out for him, throwing out chi shields.
Yes, Hakkai could free himself of this entanglement in an instant.
The youkai became aware that Sanzo's right hand had stopped moving, as if the blond man were waiting for something. Hakkai tasted the fingers in his mouth with the tip of his tongue. Salt and smoke. His mouth watered. Closing his eyes, Hakkai pressed the flat of his tongue against the digits and began sucking on them.
His hand let go of Sanzo's wrist and dropped to the ground almost of its own accord. Sanzo's right hand started moving up and down, faster on the upstroke and harder than Hakkai himself did when he masturbated. The monk's hips pushed forward, grinding his erection into Hakkai and forcing the healer's hips forward as well.
The only sounds in the shed were the soft slapping of flesh and the harsh breathing of the two men.
Caught between Sanzo's grinding hips and relentless hand, it didn't take long for the tingling to start at the base of his penis. Hakkai tried to be efficient when taking matters into his own hand, so to speak, but this was quick even for him. However, it had been a while since he'd been touched by another intimately. Almost a year; on Gojyo's birthday. The mischievous redhead had insisted no best friend would force a guy to visit a brothel alone on his own birthday.
The thought of Gojyo caused an unexpected pang of guilt. With Gojyo's warm smile in his mind, and Sanzo's hot breath on his neck, Hakkai's balls tightened, and he orgasmed. He gasped at the release, hips locked forward.
Sanzo removed the fingers from his mouth, stretching his arm across Hakkai's chest to grip his shoulder like a vise. The blonde's grinding became harder, hip thrusts sharper. His hand continued to pump as semen spurted out across the coarse blanket and dirt floor.
Hakkai twitched when Sanzo's hold on his sensitized member didn't let up. The sharp hip thrusts became irregular, and Sanzo pushed up tight against him.
"Nngh," Sanzo groaned, pressing his face into Hakkai's neck.
Strong, slender fingers unwound from Hakkai's softening member and slid up to rest on his hip. The left hand gripping his shoulder released him and fell to the floor along Hakkai's own outstretched arm.
For a moment, the two men lay still until their breathing slowed and quieted. Then, Sanzo slid his arm out from underneath Hakkai's neck and the hand on his hip vanished. The healer felt the monk roll away from him and cool air rushed in to fill the empty space.
Hakkai sat up on his knees, keeping his back to the monk. Using the blanket, he cleaned up and tucked himself back in, straightening his clothes. Behind him, he heard rustling fabric and assumed Sanzo was doing likewise. When the rustling stopped, Hakkai turned around and began gathering the blankets, carefully folding the wet spots inside.
Sanzo was sitting with one knee raised and the other bent under his now closed robe. The growing light filtering through the broken door fell across him, turning his hair gold and his skin almost translucent. Hakkai was reminded of the pictures of saints in the illustrated books the nuns let him read at the orphanage. One of the books had been so precious it was kept on a stand and he had to wear gloves to touch it.
"You wouldn't want to dirty something so beautiful, would you, Gonou?" the nun had asked.
Hakkai looked down at his hands and a small, mocking smile twisted his lips. Feeling eyes on him, the healer looked up into an impossible purple. A pale eyebrow rose in question. Hakkai shrugged.
"I wonder if there is a special place in Hell for seducing monks," Hakkai's smile almost hurt, and the joke fell flat.
Sanzo fished inside a sleeve and drew out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. He tapped out a stick and stuck it in his mouth.
"I don't believe in Hell," Sanzo said around the cigarette.
Purple eyes lowered as he lit the cigarette and rose again when the pack and lighter disappeared back inside the sleeve.
"And I can't be seduced," Sanzo added.
The monk swiped his thumb across his tongue and took a deep drag on the cigarette. Hakkai frowned. It must have been a trick of the light filtering through the swirling smoke, but for a moment, it looked like Sanzo had smiled.
onsen ryokan: onsen = hot spring and ryokan = Japanese inn.
datsuijyo: changing room.
ikkou: troupe, party
araiba: washing area.
noren: short curtain hung in doorways, often at shop entrances.
yokujyo: bathing room
karami ori: aka Sha Silk is a member of the elegant Silk gossamers of the gauze family.
Atta Dipa: Buddhist morning chant. Atta Dipa is chanted with the voice starting low at the beginning of each line and rising for the last two syllables...