Title: Zang Fu Theory
Part 4: Jinzou Root of Life
Email: ladylotusmoon (a) hotmail (o) com
Summary: P1 - 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. P2 - Hakkai is possessed by a fire oni, & the oni's attempt to draw heat results in a sexual situation. P3 - Upon Hakkai & Sanzo's return to the inn, Gojyo & Goku realized what happened & Gojyo attacks Sanzo. P4 - Hakkai attempts to be peacemaker.
Warning: Language, Sexual Situations
Notes: Jinzou (The Kidney) is home of the Zhi (Willpower). The Jinzou store Essence, govern birth, growth, reproduction & development. They also produce the Marrow which fills the brain & controls the bones. The Jinzou are often referred to as the Root of Life.
Hakkai had made a mistake.
Such an occurrence was rare, and he usually caught and fixed his own errors so they passed unnoticed by others. However, on the rare occasions when a miscalculation or oversight slipped past him into the world, the consequences tended to be immediate and rather violent. Bloodshed was usually involved.
Hakkai was witnessing such a consequence play out in front of his eyes right at this moment.
He should have sent Sanzo through the breezeway straight to the baths, then come in himself to retrieve the toiletries. Yes, he would have Sanzo's scent on him, but that would be expected from camping out. It would not have been unusual. However, Sanzo didn't just have the "close contact" smell; he smelled like sex.
During the entire cart ride back, Hakkai could scent his own seed on the monk. Every time those slender fingers lifted the cigarette, the musky odor wafted toward the healer. He could also detect the blonde man's arousal, but Hakkai politely ignored it. And when his body refused to follow his mind's example, he bent his legs and casually held his knees to hide the erection.
With the limiters on, Hakkai's youkai senses were about on par with Gojyo's. Goku's senses were those of a full-blooded youkai, and the saru's sense of smell notoriously acute. Allowing Sanzo to walk into the inn had been a grievous error. Now, it was time for damage control.
Hakkai glanced around the inn. Mercifully, it was almost empty. One guest, a traveling merchant from the look of him, was staring at the scene, chopsticks halfway to his mouth. Even as he watched, a piece of egg plopped back down into his bowl. The merchant became aware of Hakkai's stare, and his wide eyes shifted in his direction. Hakkai smiled and bowed slightly without breaking eye contact. The man's stare faltered, then dropped and he became instantly immersed in his breakfast. The other guest chose to leave discretely via the stairs toward the rooms.
"Goku," Hakkai said softly.
The young man ignored him. Hakkai squeezed Goku's shoulder, increasing the pressure until a pair of startled eyes blinked up at him.
"Goku, ask the innkeeper to prepare a private bath for Sanzo, please," Hakkai said, releasing the shoulder.
"But - Hakkai?" The sheer bewilderment in Goku's voice and face stung.
"Everything will be fine," Hakkai said brightly, smiling through his guilt.
He patted Goku's shoulder and walked toward the destroyed shoji screen. To his immense relief, Hakkai noted immediately that Sanzo hadn't managed to draw his weapon. He had no idea if his chi shield would stop a bullet fired from a banishing gun.
"Gojyo," Hakkai said, "Let go of Sanzo, please."
"I can't," Gojyo replied, voice strained.
"Whyever not?" Hakkai kept his tone reasonable.
"'Cause he'll shoot me."
Crimson eyes slid up to meet Hakkai's, and the healer was relieved to see a lopsided smile from the redhead. Goku's hurt bewilderment was predictable, as was a certain amount of over-protective behavior from Gojyo. However, Hakkai could count on one hand the number of times he had witnessed his good-natured friend truly lose his temper. Hakkai was still somewhat shocked Gojyo had actually tackled Sanzo to the ground. He squatted down next the redhead.
"You do seem to have the tiger by the tail," Hakkai observed.
His quiet comment earned him an angry flash of purple before Sanzo returned his glare to Gojyo.
"I am going to fill your worthless, skinny ass with lead," Sanzo growled.
"Hey, whose ass are you callin' skinny, you bony monk?" Gojyo's tone was much closer to its normal warm humor.
Sanzo's lips twisted open, but before he could spit out a retort, Hakkai interjected.
"Now, now," Hakkai soothed.
He kneeled forward and grasped Sanzo's trapped wrist above Gojyo's white-knuckled grip. Two startled looks were directed at him, which he ignored.
A corner of his mind noted that although Sanzo's skin was warmer than his own, Gojyo's felt like he had just been outside in the sun. For a moment, Hakkai was caught by the image of Sanzo's white fist, his own slightly darker fingers, then the back of Gojyo's brown hand above his. He suddenly became hyper-aware of all the places their three bodies were touching and felt his heartbeat speed up. He forced himself to take a deep breath and let it out slowly. He had to take control of himself and this situation.
"There. Now you can let go, Gojyo," Hakkai announced.
The redhead raised an incredulous eyebrow at him. Hakkai held his smile until the eyebrow lowered and Gojyo looked down at the glowering monk with the same expression usually reserved for peering down into a pit of vipers. One tanned finger at a time slowly unwrapped from the slender, pale wrist. The white finger marks quickly turned red, and Hakkai's healer eye knew Sanzo would be wearing a bracelet of bruises in the morning.
Knowing he was at the edge of the little extra bit of patience the monk afforded him, Hakkai needed to remove Gojyo from the immediate vicinity.
"Gojyo," Hakkai said pleasantly, keeping his eyes locked with Sanzo's. "If you could please have them send breakfast to our room, I would appreciate it."
"Yeah, sure, 'Kai." Gojyo rolled back onto the balls of his feet and straightened up with the lithe grace of a stretching cat.
"I'll get Kana to cook somethin' and I'll bring it up myself," Gojyo's hand, which had just been imprisoning Sanzo, gently clasped Hakkai's shoulder. He could feel the heat from the fingers through the layers of tunic and the sha shirt.
"I'll be waitin' for you, 'kay?" The lilt at the end made it sound like Gojyo wasn't so much making a statement as he was asking for permission.
"That would be perfect, Gojyo." Hakkai broke the stare with Sanzo long enough to give Gojyo the reassurance he needed. He was rewarded when Gojyo's hesitant smile blossomed into a grin.
Hakkai watched the tall, slender man saunter toward the kitchen, unsurprised Gojyo knew the name of the innkeeper's daughter.
"You had better keep that idiot out of firing range."
Hakkai looked down at the man sprawled beneath him. The fist had loosened, and the coiled tension in Sanzo's body dissipated. Instead of looking like he had been thrown to the ground, the monk made it appear he had just decided to rest there for a moment, perhaps even take a nap. Hakkai smiled.
"I will, Sanzo-sama," he said, releasing the slim white wrist as he sat back up.
Sanzo captured Hakkai's retreating hand and followed him up. To an observer, it might appear Hakkai had pulled the other man upright, but the limber monk required no such assistance. Sanzo leaned in so close, Hakkai could feel his breath when he spoke.
"Don't encourage any ideas about switching rooms," Sanzo said.
Goku's hurt eyes and Gojyo's uncertain smile flashed through Hakkai's mind.
"Surely, under the circumstances, the rooming arrangements should be reconsidered," Hakkai objected.
Sanzo bent his left knee and leaned forward, pulling Hakkai's right arm straight and down between their chests. A slight twist locked Hakkai's elbow. It was an artfully executed Aikido move that could be extricated from painlessly if Hakkai leaned into it and turned into Sanzo's arms, pressing his back into the monk's chest. It would also dislocate his shoulder if he resisted the hold and pulled back violently.
Hakkai chose to remain still.
"It is not up for a vote," Sanzo said quietly.
Purple eyes locked with his and Sanzo's left hand vanished into Hakkai's blind spot when he grasped his right shoulder. Hakkai felt the knowledgeable fingers pause briefly over the pressure point that would numb Hakkai's arm, before sliding over the collar and up the side of his neck. The tips of two fingers rested on the bundle of nerves behind Hakkai's jaw that could force his mouth open if pressure was applied, and the pad of Sanzo's thumb rested on the edge of his bottom lip.
Hakkai lost track of time as the two men sat facing each other. He waited for the anticipated push on the pressure point that never came. With his arm locked between them, right side pressed against Sanzo's raised knee, his blind side held firmly in the monk's hand, Hakkai was physically immobilized. And completely free to choose.
Hakkai parted his lips. Sanzo pushed the pad of his thumb inside and without hesitation, Hakkai touched it with the tip of his tongue. Sanzo's pupils widened, darkening his irises from lavender to almost indigo. The effect was startling, like an artist dipping an ink-laden brush into the center of a bowl of water.
The thumb withdrew and pressed gently on Hakkai's tingling lips once before Sanzo's hand fell away from his face.
In the space of a heartbeat, the monk had released Hakkai's arm and risen gracefully to his feet with a swish of robes. Hakkai heard rustling, the click and snap of a lighter, then a deep inhale and release. The smell of cigarette smoke drifted down.
"I'll deal with Goku," Sanzo said, and then he was gone.
* * *
Gojyo leaned against the kitchen's back doorjamb, alternately blowing cigarette smoke out into the courtyard and watching the blushing Kana make Hakkai's breakfast. A craptacular night had overflowed into an even shittier morning. Blowing out a stream of smoke, he watched the chickens pecking at the ground. Peck, peck, peck. Cluck, cluck, cluck. Fuck, fuck, fuck.
Closing his eyes, Gojyo banged the back of his head lightly against the wooden beam. He had fucked up. Again. It was like the word had been invented for him. He was either fucking, being fucked over, or fucking up.
Why did hell had he fought with Sanzo? All that did was piss off the monk and disappoint Hakkai. If Sanzo had just strolled in smelling like sex, sure Gojyo would have razzed him, because that would have been just too sweet an opportunity to pass up. But, it's not like he'd really care one way or another. Hell, if the monk got his rocks off every now and then, maybe he'd be less bitchy and a little easier to get along with. But Sanzo had come in smelling like sex and Hakkai. Hakkai for fuck's sake!
Something in him had just snapped, and before he knew it, he had Sanzo pinned to the floor. If Hakkai hadn't played peacemaker, he'd probably be healing a bullet wound right now.
"It's ready, Gojyo-san," Kana announced.
Eyes opening, Gojyo looked down at the tray Kana held out. A fresh bowl of rice, miso soup and a pot of tea were arranged neatly in ceramic bowls, with chopsticks tucked in a folded napkin. Pushing off from the doorjamb, Gojyo quickly dropped his cigarette outside and ground it out beneath his boot. Turning, he took the tray from Kana and gave her a genuine smile of gratitude.
"Thanks, sweetheart," Gojyo said, giving her a wink.
She covered her face with small, work-reddened hands, but the almond eyes peeking between the fingertips were smiling. Gojyo sighed as he left the kitchen and headed toward the sleeping rooms. At least he managed to make someone smile today.
Gojyo toed his boots off in the hallway and stood listening for a moment in front of the door to Hakkai and Sanzo's room. Balancing the tray on one hand, he carefully opened the door, slipped inside and pushed it shut behind him with his foot.
The room didn't have a table, so Gojyo walked over to the twin beds and settled on the floor between them. After he set the tray down, he immediately pulled his socks off and tossed them toward the chair, where they landed near the towel from earlier. He hated socks, and hadn't worn them much until Hakkai started buying them for him and pointedly leaving them folded on the foot of his bed every morning.
The door opened and Hakkai slipped in, wearing the black shirt untucked over his slacks and the inn's guest slippers. As the healer passed the chair, he scooped up the socks and towel and dropped them into the wooden seat without breaking stride.
"Yo," Gojyo greeted him.
"Hello, Gojyo." Hakkai smiled. "I was just washing up a bit."
Elbows propped on the edge of the bed behind him, Gojyo watched Hakkai sit cross-legged across from. The hair around his face was damp, and he wasn't wearing his glasses. Somehow, without his glasses, Hakkai looked oddly vulnerable.
The silence was punctuated by soft clattering as Hakkai lifted ceramic lids, poured tea, then re-arranged everything on the tray. Twice. It was when the brown-haired man started re-folding the napkin that Gojyo stretched out his long legs and nudged Hakkai in the hip with his toe.
"Hey," Gojyo said gently.
The elegant fingers stilled, then laced together and rested on top of the napkin in Hakkai's lap. Green eyes raised to meet his.
"All you gotta do is answer one question for me," Gojyo took a deep breath. "You don't have to tell me anything else, okay?"
Hakkai's head tilted questioningly, eyebrows drawing down into a slight frown.
"Did he force you?" Even the question made Gojyo's guts churn.
"No!" Hakkai's eyes widened in shock, and his usual placid expression fell away. "Oh, no. No, Gojyo. It wasn't like that. There were... extenuating circumstances."
Gojyo watched the flush creep up over the edge of the black collar and rise up into Hakkai's cheeks. Even as the sick feeling in his gut went away, his heart sank. Gojyo was glad his best friend hadn't been hurt, but...
But, this meant the most important person in his life had chosen someone else. A brief memory of his mother pushing him aside to hug his brother flashed through his mind.
Shit. Gojyo stomped on the memory. He needed a smoke. Averting his eyes from the silent Hakkai, Gojyo flipped his hair back and lifted his hips to dig his cigarettes out of the front pocket of his pants.
"Then that's that." Gojyo kept his eyes on his hands as he tapped out a stick and pulled it out of the pack with his lips. "Quit torturing your breakfast," he said around the cigarette, patting his pockets for the lighter. "The miso's pretty good."
"Gojyo," Hakkai said in his ear.
"Shit!" Gojyo jumped, unlit cigarette falling out of his mouth. "You're like a frickin' cat!"
Hakkai was the only person he'd ever met who could sneak up on him like that. He hadn't even heard the breakfast tray being pushed aside. Gojyo looked into green eyes suddenly less than a foot away. Hakkai reached out, and Gojyo felt a cool, feathering touch on his neck. Instantly, his skin goosebumped.
"What's this?" Hakkai asked quietly.
"What's what? Oh. Crap." Gojyo closed his eyes and let his head fall back onto the bed. Right. The dragon hickey. He decided to keep his eyes closed. There was no way in Hell he was gonna be able to look Hakkai in the face while he told him.
"Well, I was watching Hakuryu for you, and he decided to get friendly. Really friendly." Gojyo wished he hadn't dropped the cigarette. "Then, he kinda latched on and had at it, y'know?"
A snort escaped him, and Gojyo opened one eye to peer up at his friend. Hakkai was staring thoughtfully out the window.
"You don't sound all that surprised," Gojyo pointed out.
"I believe Hakuryu reacted to one of the, ah, side effects of my being temporarily possessed by a fire oni," Hakkai explained.
"What?!" Gojyo sat up. "What the Hell happened at that farm? What fire oni?"
"I thought you said I only had to answer one question," Hakkai teased, green eyes smiling.
"Screw that." Gojyo grabbed Hakkai's arm where it was draped over the edge of the bed. He looked his friend over carefully, really looked, and saw the circles under the eyes, the ashiness the healer's normally clear skin developed when he used up lots of chi.
"Are you okay?" Gojyo felt like an ass for not noticing Hakkai's condition before.
"I'm fine." Hakkai moved his arm from under his and reached for his neck again. "Let me examine the bite."
"It's okay." Gojyo intercepted the hand. "I'm not gonna let you use chi on me after you've been through a battle, 'Kai."
"Then I won't," Hakkai assured him.
Gojyo gave his friend one last warning look, then released his hand. With a reassuring smile, Hakkai reached up and tilted Gojyo's head to the side and brushed back his hair. Hakkai's fingers snagged at a snarl, and stopped instantly.
"You forgot to comb your hair after bathing again, didn't you?" Hakkai scolded mildly.
"Er - yes?" Gojyo admitted.
Hakkai's sigh sounded more like a smothered laugh. Gojyo felt the pad of the healer's thumb brush lightly across his right temple.
"What am I to do with you?" Hakkai asked.
"Comb my hair?" Gojyo responded hopefully, batting his eyelashes.
This time Hakkai did laugh, and Gojyo's heart lifted. When he could make Hakkai laugh, really laugh, not those crappy fake ones, it was like giving himself a present.
Hakkai's fingers slipped out of his hair as the healer stood. Stepping over Gojyo's outstretched legs, he picked up a comb from the night stand. Hakkai returned to his spot on Gojyo's right side and sank gracefully to his knees. Gojyo shook his head slightly when he realized he had actually forgotten to comb his hair. Usually he "forgot" on purpose. Hakkai nudged Gojyo's right arm still draped on the edge of the bed. He moved it so Hakkai could scoot in closer, letting his hand drop on his friend's knee. Nimble fingers separated his hair into sections, Gojyo's scalp tingling as Hakkai began combing from the bottom.
There was a time when the idea of someone touching his hair, let alone combing it, would have made Gojyo queasy. He couldn't even remember the number of times as a child he had woken up being dragged out of bed by his hair, his mother's face a twisted mask of rage and disgust. The regular girls at home knew better than to talk about or touch his hair, even in bed.
Then Hakkai came. Not only did the green-eyed man look at his red hair, and talk about it, he actually touched it. Dared to comb it, even.
The morning after a literal roll in the hay, Gojyo had woken up with the worst snarls ever. Dunking his head in the sink had made it worse. After a rueful check in the mirror, he decided it would be easier to cut out all the ensnarled bits of hay. He actually had the scissors in hand when a shocked Hakkai stopped him.
Before he realized it, Gojyo was sitting in a kitchen chair while Hakkai fetched his comb. Gojyo's shoulders were almost hunched to his ears with tension, anticipating the stinging pulls, the ruthless jerking on his tender scalp. Instead, he was surprised by the painless ministrations under the patient, methodical fingers. As the tension drained away and Gojyo actually relaxed, he found having Hakkai brush his hair was a pleasantly sensual experience.
After that discovery, Gojyo "forgot" to brush his hair more frequently.
"Mmm," Gojyo hummed in pleasure.
He scooted his narrow hips forward on the tatami mat, draping more of his forearm across Hakkai's knees. The healer had moved past the de-tangling and was now brushing Gojyo's hair in long, even strokes, left hand smoothing down a trail behind the comb. Eyes closed, Gojyo leaned into the strokes, enjoying the familiar touch. Under Hakkai's devoted attention, he drifted into the relaxed state that was almost like the languid, mildly buzzed feeling he got after half a dozen cups of sake.
Fingertips firmly began massaging small circles on his scalp, and his dick stirred at the extra physical contact.
"Mmm, shit, yeah," Gojyo moaned.
He was definitely getting the Hakkai special. No one could do massages like the knowledgeable healer. Gentle pressure encouraged him to tilt his head into Hakkai's left palm, and Gojyo willingly complied, offering up his exposed neck in complete trust. Hakkai's right thumb kneaded a line down the back of his neck until the healer's fingers rested on his collar bone. The pad of Hakkai's thumb traced a light circle around the dragon bite, sending a shiver down Gojyo's body. He shifted open his legs to make a little room for the growing interest. It wasn't unusual for him to get semi-hard from a lot of physical contact; he loved being touched, craved it. Maybe when Hakkai finished off the neck massage, Gojyo could slip out for a cigarette and a quick wank.
"I'm sorry I hurt you, Gojyo," Hakkai whispered, his breath tickling the fine hairs on the nape of his neck.
"S'kay," Gojyo responded automatically without opening his eyes.
He squeezed Hakkai's knee. It wasn't 'Kai's fault the dragon got all horn dog. What was he apologizing for? He knew 'Kai'd never hurt him intentionally. He was his best friend. He loved him. Gojyo snorted at himself. Even his thoughts were getting a bit muzzy like he really had been drinking.
"What is it?" Hakkai asked.
"Just thinkin' I'm getting drunk on you," Gojyo managed to lift a couple of fingers off Hakkai's knee and waved them. "Like really good sake."
Silence. Gojyo suddenly realized what he just said probably sounded like a cheap pick up line.
"Shit. I didn't mean-" Gojyo opened his eyes and started to straighten up, jerking his hand off Hakkai's knee like it was going to burn him.
Cool lips pressed lightly against the dragon bite. Gojyo froze, left hand braced on the tatami mat from when he started to push himself up, right hand hovering above Hakkai's knee. He felt the damp tendrils from Hakkai's freshly-washed face as the other man sighed and rested his forehead against Gojyo's shoulder. Hakkai's left arm dropped to the bed behind Gojyo and his right hand fell to the mat like a white, broken-winged bird.
"Gojyo," Hakkai spoke so softly, the name was almost more air than sound. "I didn't choose Sanzo over you."
Gojyo's heart thumped at having his earlier thoughts spoken out loud. Unbidden, his eyes darted to the monk's still unmade bed. An echo of his earlier anger passed over him, like cloud shadow over a still pond. The monk had taken Hakkai away from him once, the night the youkai had gouged out his own eye. He wasn't taking him again.
His mind made up, Gojyo scooped up Hakkai's hand, cradling it to his chest. Even as Hakkai lifted his head from Gojyo's shoulder and started to sit up, Gojyo turned in the open circle of Hakkai's arms. The green eyes that met his were uncertain, but accepting. Hakkai had always accepted him. When Gojyo stared long enough, he could see his own reflection in the pupils, like a red flame against the night.
"Did he kiss you?" Gojyo asked.
The flush that rose up in the healer's cheeks told Gojyo the answer before the curt nod. Still loosely clasping Hakkai's hand to his chest, Gojyo reached out with his right hand and cupped the side of the other man's face. The cool flesh quickly warmed beneath his large palm.
"Then, before you choose, you've gotta give me an equal chance, right?" Gojyo gave Hakkai his best bedroom smile.