Title: Zang Fu Theory, Part 3: San Jiao (Triple Burner)
Author: Lotus
Email: ladylotusmoon (a) hotmail (o) com

Pairing(s): Sanzo/Hakkai
Rating: R
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.

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 San Jiao (Triple Burner) is a yang organ paired with the yin organ, the Pericardium. The San Jiao is said to be a metabolism mechanism that creates energy for accomplishing a task and is associated with Fire.

 


The dim hallway had the muffled stillness that meant most of the inn's occupants were still asleep. Gojyo rubbed his wet hair with the towel as he walked barefoot and shirtless toward the ikkou's rooms. He'd check to see if Hakkai and Sanzo were back yet. If not, he'd enjoy another one of the monk's cigs, sneak a clean shirt out of his room, then see if the daughter was still in the kitchen.

A little healthy flirting would be the perfect distraction. Not that he intended on taking her to bed, but it always gave him a boost to see a little blush or smile and know he put it there. It felt good to be wanted.

Gojyo paused outside Hakkai and Sanzo's room, fingertips resting on the latch. No voices or sounds from inside. He felt a small pang of relief and disappointment. He was relieved he didn't have to have the horny dragon chat with his best friend, but he also missed him.

It had been a long friggin' night. He felt twitchy, almost like right before a demon ambush or something. He turned the latch and opened the door.

Not even the hanyou's cat-like reflexes were fast enough to dodge the big, soft white trajectile that hit him smack in the face. He automatically caught the pillow before it fell to the floor.

"Where's Sanzo?" Goku demanded.

Gojyo slung the pillow back at the young man sitting cross-legged on the monk's unmade bed. His hair was uncombed and he was still wearing the over-sized sleeping shorts and t-shirt that always made him look about twelve years old.

"Brat," Gojyo retorted. He padded over to the night stand for a cigarette.

"Where's Sanzo?" Goku repeated.

"Hakkai and the monk went to go help an injured farmer," Gojyo muttered. He flipped a stick up into his mouth and thumbed the lighter.

"Why didn't he take me?" Goku frowned. His tone was part hurt whine, part suspicion of all information relayed via Kappa.

"'Cause you're a pain in the ass - ow!" Gojyo almost set his nose on fire when the pillow knocked against the arm holding the lighter.

"Dumbass monkey," Gojyo grumbled.

"You're the dumbass," Goku countered, bouncing off the bed. "They didn't take you either, did they?"

The redhead blew out a long stream of smoke. Yeah, that had bothered him, too, but he wasn't gonna whine about it.

"Hakkai wanted me to look after..." Gojyo paused and glanced around the room. "Where's Hakuryu?"

"Went out." Goku flapped a hand at the open window. "Hey, I'm hungry."

"So what else is new?" Gojyo leaned against the window frame, eyes automatically following the road the wagon had taken last night. If Hakkai wasn't back by the time they'd finished breakfast, he was going after him.

"Gooojyo."

Crimson eyes flicked over and down to meet ridiculously large golden eyes raised in a kicked puppy stare. Goku was twisting the front of his sleeping shirt, one bare foot rubbing the top of the other.

"C'mon, I'm starving," Goku insisted.

Gojyo took a deep drag to keep from grinning. He looked totally pitiful. The kid could probably pull as many chicks as him with that routine. Almost. Gojyo whipped the towel off his head and tossed it in the general direction of the room's single chair.

"Go get dressed, monkey, bring me a shirt, and we'll-"

"Holy shit!" Goku rose up on his toes and leaned in close enough for Gojyo to experience his morning breath. "What's that thing on your neck?"

A square-tipped finger reached out to touch, and Gojyo batted it away.

"Nuttin'." The hanyou shook his head so some of the damp hair fell forward over his bare shoulders.

"Like Hell it's nothing!" Undeterred, Goku pulled back the hair and stared. "Is that some kinda... hickey?"

Unable to resist, Gojyo slouched against the wall and jutted his slim hips forward, eyes half-closed.

"Some of us have better uses for beds than just sleeping," Gojyo purred around the cigarette.

"Ew. You're such a pervert!" Goku's nose wrinkled, and he turned away.

When the disgusted monkey stomped out of the room, Gojyo found his gaze drifting back to the road.

 

* * *


The family shrine was as humble as the farm. Set on a low, rickety table, it consisted of two rough blank wood tiles, one with a faded ribbon tied around it, a small bowl filled with dirt instead of sand, and a battered pot sealed with wax. Hakkai assumed the pot contained the ashes of the dead mother.

For the funeral rites, the boy Wan Tu had placed a slightly shriveled orange, a bowl of rice and azuki beans and a handful of homemade incense sticks on the table.

Apparently the boy had done his grieving in private. Although his eyes were shadowed and red, they remained dry as he bowed before Hakkai and Sanzo. When he straightened, he held out something to Hakkai. It was a crudely whittled charcoal stick.

"Please, sensei, if you could write my father's name," he asked quietly. "I would be grateful."

"Of course, Wan Tu," Hakkai responded.

He schooled his face into a mask of polite sympathy as he took the charcoal stick.

"What was his name?" Hakkai asked, stepping up to the altar and picking up the blank tile.

He wasn't surprised Wan Tu was illiterate. He had seen countless children and young men like this one during the journey. The only son of an impoverished farmer, he'd probably been working the fields as soon as he could walk.

Education was a luxury.

Hakkai drew the lines with a teacher's precise hand. Finished, he respectfully replaced the wood tile.

"What was your mother's name?" Hakkai murmured.

The boy looked startled, then responded with a single whispered word. Hakkai nodded, then picked up the tile bearing the ribbon.

Behind them, Hakkai could hear Sanzo shifting his feet impatiently. Refusing to be rushed, Hakkai wrote the second name with equal care and returned the tile to its place. At the slight huffing sound from the monk's direction, Hakkai glanced back. Purple eyes narrowed and slid away.

Hakkai picked up two sticks of incense, handing one to Wan Tu. Out of the corner of his eye, Hakkai saw Sanzo's hand automatically go toward his sleeve, then stopped as the monk checked the movement. It was after all Sanzo's lighter. Well, technically, it was the lighter Sanzo had appropriated from Gojyo a couple of weeks ago in the childish game the two insisted on playing. Hakkai felt no remorse in borrowing the pilfered item.

Gojyo had commented once that Hakkai's light fingers made him wonder if in addition to being a gambler, Hakkai had been an occasional pickpocket in his former life.

As the incense drifted between himself and the silently grieving boy, Sanzo began chanting.

"Yatha varivaha pura paripurenti sagaram.
Evameva ito dinnam petanam upakappati..."

(Just as the full flowing rivers fill the ocean,
even so what is given from here accrues to the departed...)

His former life.

Hakkai closed his eyes against the sting of the impure incense and remembered when Sanzo had chanted at his funeral. The monks had burned Cho Gonou's old clothes, still bearing visible blood stains although they had been washed, and locks of his hair.

It was a surreal experience being at one's own funeral. There were no oranges set out for him because there had been no one to mourn for him. Afterward, Sanzo had looked him straight in the eye and told him: "Cho Gonou is dead. You are Cho Hakkai."

Through the intervention of two then strangers, a hanyou and a monk, Hakkai's life had been saved twice. At first, Hakkai thought God was forcing continued existence on this earth as an ironic punishment. After coming to know the two diametrically different men, the healer realized that they had saved him because they could not save themselves.

Hakkai endured the pain and guilt of living because he was needed.

* * *


Sanzo was relieved to be walking up the short, stone-lined path to the ryokan. As impatient as he was to pick up the idiots and get back on the road, they were going to have to tarry a bit longer at the inn.

After the massive expenditure of chi curing the healing and subsequent possession by the fire oni, he and Hakkai needed to eat. And, he needed a bath in the worst way. The robe covered the stain, but his seed had dried on the inside of his trousers and was starting to make his balls itch.

It had been worth it.

The monk took a drag on his cigarette, nostrils flaring at the faint musky odor that clung to his fingers and soiled silk arm glove. The scent made his cock twitch. Sanzo's eyes narrowed as he blew out a stream of smoke, considering. This was the first time he had been aroused by the smell of a person.

Sanzo was far from celibate. When he was tired, he slept. When he was hungry, he ate. When he was thirsty, he drank. he took care of bodily functions in an efficient, matter-of-fact manner without guilt. Raised in a community of boys, it wasn't surprising that all of his sexual experiences were with males.

There were certain areas in the monastery that were unofficial meeting places for clandestine encounters. Young Koryu had stumbled across one such place accidentally when returning the rake to the garden shed after cleaning leaves in the courtyard. He had watched the two young acolytes jerk each other off, then clean up with fistfuls of grass.

It took persuasion because the boys his age tended to be wary of Koumyou Sanzo's favored pupil, but eventually Koryu had his own clandestine encounters. Mutual hand jobs and one boy who took his cock into his mouth and sucked him off. Koryu refused to kiss or indulge in any of the caressing foreplay some of the others liked.

Sanzo didn't start fucking men until years after he left the monastery. He had never had a parter or a lover. He had... encounters.

Hakkai moved over on the narrow path to allow a woman carrying a bundle of kindling on her back to pass. His left shoulder bumped Sanzo's. Even walking together, they had automatically imitated the positions of driver and passenger they sat in every day in the jeep.

Murmuring an apology, Hakkai tilted his face. Sanzo caught a flash of bright green before the light reflecting off his glasses obliterated the healer's eyes.

"I thought you were going to offer to stay and help burn the body and pick out the bones with chopsticks," Sanzo muttered as they continued walking.

"He is alone," the healer said in mild reproof.

"Everyone is alone," Sanzo replied.

"True enough, I suppose."

Hakkai gave that soft laugh that wasn't actually a laugh at all. It always sounded like a cough to Sanzo, as if the brown haired man was choking slightly.

Hakkai leaned forward to part the noren across the inn's entrance for Sanzo. The monk had barely passed through the hanging cloth when he was attacked.

"Sanzo!" Goku whooped and barreled into him, pushing Sanzo back against Hakkai.

"How come you were gone so long? Why didn't you take me with you?" The childish upturned face contradicted the inhuman strength in the long arms pinning Sanzo's elbows to his waist.

"Let go," Sanzo commanded.

"Geesh. Okay." Goku complied, his nose wrinkling. "Hey, Sanzo, you smell like beans. And dirt, and smoke, and incense, and ox and..."

Just when Sanzo was reaching inside his sleeve to fetch the harisen and beat the monkey into silence, Goku stopped. The gold eyes widened in surprise and looked past Sanzo's shoulder at Hakkai. Good. The healer had probably given Goku one of his "be quiet now and avoid bloodshed" smiles.

Without looking back, Sanzo stepped into the common room. First, a bath, Second, breakfast. A flash caught Sanzo's eye, and he spotted Gojyo lounging on a bench under the window. He had just lit a cigarette and was trying to look casual instead of like a little lost chick waiting for mother hen Hakkai to come home.

Sanzo felt a stab of irritation at the thought. His eyes narrowed as he realized the pack of opened cigarettes on the bench next to the Kappa were his brand. The annoyance blossomed into anger. Sanzo darted forward and snatched the cigarette out of Gojyo's mouth.

"Sanzo!" The warning in Hakkai's call was clear.

Hand automatically reaching for his gun, Sanzo started to spin around towards Hakkai and whatever was attacking the group. He had a moment to register that the only figures at the door were Hakkai and Goku before he was struck in the chest.

The wooden frame of the shoji screen snapped like brittle bones, and torn paper fluttered around him as Sanzo fell backwards. His right wrist was clamped in a vise when he reached across his chest to draw the banishing gun. Time seemed to slow as he looked up, vision partially obscured by his own hair and the billowing sleeves of his robe.

Red hair flared out around a face gone pale enough to make the parallel scars on the left cheekbone vivid. Fierce crimson eyes burned into his through the flying debris.

Air whooshed out of Sanzo's lungs as he landed flat on his back on the hard wooden floor, unable to roll and disperse some of the impact. He just barely managed to tuck his chin enough to prevent striking the back of his skull. Sanzo didn't bother with the indignity of squirming beneath the weight of the larger man. He knew from the experience of their first meeting and subsequent observation that the hanyou was an expert wrestler and could maintain a pin even on a larger opponent once he got a good hold.

"Get. Off. Now," Sanzo gritted through clenched teeth.

From the ferocity of the unprovoked attack, there was a chance that It had finally happened. The Minus Wave had claimed the hanyou. The monk gathered his chi and prepared to chant the Sutra.

The vise on Sanzo's right wrist turned out to be Gojyo's fist as the redhead raised the imprisoned hand. Sanzo felt hot breath on his knuckles as Gojyo opened his mouth slightly and...

Smelled him?

"The fuck?!" Sanzo yelled.

Gojyo slammed Sanzo's wrist down on the floor by the side of his head, close enough that his own thumb jabbed his cheek.

"What did you do to Hakkai?" Gojyo demanded.

Sanzo's eyes widened briefly in surprise before narrowing dangerously. Tilting his head to see past Gojyo's rigid shoulder, he glared through the hole in the screen. Still standing by the inn doorway was a very quiet monkey and a red-faced healer.

 


GLOSSARY:
ikkou - troupe, party
hanyou - half-demon/half-blood
azuki beans - a small, red bean traditionally cooked with rice in Japan for auspicious occasions
sensei - literally means teacher, but also used for authority figures in general or as a sign of respect for someone who has achieved a certain level of mastery in an art form or some other skill
noren - short curtain hung in doorways, often at shop entrances
shoji screen - is a room divider or door consisting of translucent paper over a wooden frame

"I thought you were going to offer to stay and help burn the body and pick out the bones with chopsticks..." Most Japanese funerals involve the body being cremated. Afterwards, the relatives or people closest to the deceased pick out certain bones with chopsticks to place in the urn. The bones are always picked up jointly, by two people, never by one person, as that is considered very bad luck. This is also why if two people are eating together and accidentally pick up the the same piece of food with their chopsticks, it is considered a bad omen.

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...

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