Title: Zang Fu Theory, Part 7
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. P5 - Sanzo & Goku have a chat in the bath. P6 - Gojyo uses his special brand of persuasion. P7 - Battle in the bath house.
Warning: Language, Sexual Situations, Violence
Notes: I have no idea how Hakkai and Hakuryu are "connected" or how much they understand each other, so I took liberties.
Hakuryu struck Hakkai's shoulder in a flurry of white leathery wings. Talons cut into flesh easily through the sha shirt until the dragon found his balance. Wincing, Hakkai petting the furred tail wrapped loosely around his neck as he sorted through the images and emotions spiraling out of the little creature's mind. The emotions were simple because of their basic purity, like primary colors. At the moment the color was fear.
The complex part was interpreting the images to find out why Hakuryu was afraid. The images lacked the clarity of pictures and were closer to being visual impressions. The dragon did not see in the same color spectrum, nor did his brain process images in the same manner as a human's. So Hakkai was only able to translate the common points of the visual impressions, let the rest go, and then attempt reassembling what he had into something his own mind could recognize.
Hakkai had once described the process to Gojyo akin to watching an elaborate fireworks performance. The colors and patterns of light seemed random, then one burst would create an image seconds before dissolving into a falling shower of sparks. Then, you closed your eyes and tried to see the after-image on the inside of your eyelids.
Thus, the meaning behind Hakuryu's visual impressions often eluded Hakkai. At the moment, he was "seeing" fire under water.
"Hakkai?" Gojyo's tone was cautious.
Hakkai blinked and focused on the concerned face in front of him. With his right hand, Gojyo tucked errant strands of red behind his ear that had blown forward from Hakuryu's entrance. His left hand was cupped over Hakkai's, still pressed to the center of the hanyou's chest.
"I believe Sanzo and Goku are being attacked in the onsen," Hakkai answered.
"By what? A rubber ducky?" Gojyo joked, but stood up as he spoke.
"I'm not sure." Hakkai couldn't help but notice that when he rose, Gojyo lowered their hands from his chest, but did not release him. Hakkai turned toward the door, stopping when Gojyo tugged gently. He tilted an inquiring look at the redhead.
"This way'll be faster,"Gojyo explained.
Before Hakkai could stop him, Gojyo pulled them over to the window and side-kicked the night stand. If fell over with a crash, scattering its contents over the tatami mat.
"Gojyo," Hakkai protested, "was that really necessary?"
"Wanna tell the monk we were late to the party 'cause we were rearranging furniture?" Gojyo hopped up onto the ledge of the open window, facing the room. "Hey, c'mere a sec."
Gojyo pulled Hakkai forward so he was standing between the redhead's knees, bracketed by long legs. Apparently, he hadn't stepped close enough, because one of those long legs hooked around his waist and tightened. Hakkai stumbled forward the last foot, pelvis flush against the wall and Gojyo's lean thighs clamped him into place.
"Rrrp!" Hakuryu lost his balance at the sudden move, and there was another shoulder stab and brief flurry of wings as the dragon adjusted.
"Oi." Crimson eyes narrowed playfully at the dragon. "I don't want any crap from you."
Hakkai felt the long snout push into his hair as the little dragon tried to hide. Crimson eyes turned to him, and Hakkai's heart beat faster.
"'Kai, I need you to hang on to something for me, okay?" Gojyo asked.
Surprised, Hakkai answered automatically. "Of course, Gojyo."
The redhead ducked his head and kissed Hakkai firmly on the mouth.
"There," Gojyo whispered, touching foreheads. "I'll be wanting that back later."
"Oh." Hakkai blushed.
He became intensely aware of the intimacy of their position. He could feel the heat of Gojyo's thighs against his waist through trousers and shirt, the slight pressure of the bare heel against the small of his back. Undistracted by talented mouth and hands, he could actually smell the hanyou's arousal. Hakkai knew without a doubt, that if he allowed his gaze to drop, he would see physical evidence of it. His breath caught, and his eyes fluttered close as he tried to re-order his mind.
The other man's warm breath vanished from his face, and Hakkai was suddenly released. Eyes snapping open, Hakkai looked up at Gojyo, squatting on the window casing. With a wink, the redhead pivoted and dropped the ten or so feet to the ground, landing neatly. Flipping long red hair over his shoulder, Gojyo grinned up at him.
"C'mon!" Gojyo called.
As Hakkai climbed onto the windowsill, Gojyo ran off barefoot down the path like they were children playing a game of tag. Hakkai swung his legs over the edge, Hakuryu launching himself into flight as he fell. Bending his knees to take the impact, Hakkai landed with a soft grunt and started running. The house slippers were an immediate impediment, so doing an awkward hop-skip, he kicked them off as he ran.
Endurance-wise, he could outlast Gojyo and his smoker's lungs running or walking, but the long-legged hanyou had the advantage in sprinting. Hakkai lost sight of Gojyo almost immediately as the graveled path twisted through the dense sakura trees. Just as he turned into the arbor of dead branches, Hakkai saw a flash of red disappear through the flapping noren at the onsen entrance.
Ignoring the jabs of stones and twigs under bare soles, he summoned a burst of speed in an attempt to catch up. The noren brushed across his face as Hakkai entered the datsuijyo. Catching sight of the sutra neatly rolled on top of Sanzo's vestment on the bench, Hakkai paused. He turned to the white dragon hovering in the entrance way.
"Hakuryu, stay here," Hakkai commanded.
"Chrr." Hakuryu glided low to land on the bench, folding his wings.
Satisfied that both the dragon was out of harm's way and could fly the precious sutra to safety should the need arise, Hakkai ran into the araiba. He slid to a stop on the slick floor. The ikkou's toiletry bag was on the ground next to an overturned bucket and a stool. He nudged a discarded towel with a toe as he glanced around the empty room between the entryway for the private yokujyo and the public onsen.
"Oi, monkey, it's me!" Gojyo called out in indignation.
Hakkai sprinted to the onsen, bare feet slapping on the wooden floor. As soon as he cleared the noren, a firm hand grabbed his left forearm.
Gojyo squinted around the room. It felt more like a sauna than an onsen; the steam was almost as thick as fog, and it smelled wrong. He took a deep breath. The mineral odor of the natural hot spring was almost overwhelmed by the smell of ozone and burning. And there was something else, like rotten eggs...
Tilting his head, Gojyo heard the soft slapping of Hakkai's bare feet in the araiba behind him. Just as the healer passed the noren, he reached out and snagged his arm.
"Careful," Gojyo said, pulling the brunette close, "the monkey's swinging at everything that moves."
He watched Hakkai frown and taste the air as he had. The arm tensed beneath his hand.
"What is it?" Gojyo whispered.
"The fire oni," Hakkai replied.
"I thought you and the monk killed it." The hissing steam suddenly sounded ominous.
"No, Sanzo just exorcised it from my body," there was an odd tone to Hakkai's voice that Gojyo didn't like.
"Goku!" Hakkai called out.
"Hakkai?" the saru's voice broke, and Gojyo knew Sanzo had been hurt. So did the ikkou's healer.
"Where is he?" Hakkai asked, summoning a tiny ball of chi as he stepped forward.
The small amount of light almost made it worse, causing flickering shadows in the coiling mist. Gojyo's gut tightened.
"Here! Hurry, Hakkai! He's not breathing!" the young voice was full of anguish.
"I'm coming, Goku. Stay there." Hakkai took another step, and Gojyo squeezed the arm he was still holding.
"Hang on," Gojyo whispered in his friend's ear. "I'm coming with you."
He stretched out his left hand and his shakujou appeared practically before the thought registered. The chi shift that manifested his weapon was almost subconscious from years of summoning it. Holding the shakujou blade forward, Gojyo kept a firm grip on Hakkai's arm as they moved forward like two blind men. Gojyo heard Goku before he saw him; the monkey's breathing was harsh and uneven. Then there was a small break in the mist and the other two were at his feet.
"Shit," Gojyo muttered.
He released Hakkai, and the healer instantly dropped to his knees next to Sanzo's prone form. Sanzo lay sprawled pale and naked on the wet tile, Goku crouched next to him, equally naked, nyoi-bo held in his right fist. Gojyo squatted next to Goku, holding his own weapon upright. The monk did not look good. Somehow, his closed eyes seemed sunken, and his pale skin was tinged blue. Worst of all, his chest was flat and still.
Hakkai quickly stuck two fingers in Sanzo's mouth, then tilted the monk's head back and pinched his nose shut. Hunching over the unconscious man, the healer breathed into Sanzo's mouth. Sanzo's chest rose slightly, then deflated.
"What happened?" Gojyo whispered to Goku.
Goku didn't respond, so Gojyo tore his eyes from Hakkai's resuscitation efforts to look at him. The monkey may have been breathing, but he didn't look so hot, either. There were burn marks all over his upper torso, like someone had dumped a bucket of hot embers over him; his hair was even charred in spots. But it was the paleness beneath the tan and the glassy eyes that concerned Gojyo. When he reached out to touch Goku's hand white-knuckled around his weapon, it was cold as ice.
Hakkai had taught Gojyo some basic first aid stuff, and Goku was showing signs of shock. Hakkai said being in shock was like being sick, and it had to be treated. Carefully setting the shakujou down, Gojyo quickly unbuttoned his shirt and stripped it off. When he draped it over Goku's shoulders, he realized the saru was shaking.
"Here, monkey," Gojyo tried to keep his voice low and soothing, "put this on."
To his surprise, Goku slipped the shirt on without protest, keeping his eyes on Hakkai, who was still breathing into the unresponsive monk's mouth.
"Hey." Gojyo reached out and gripped Goku's chin, forcing the younger man to look at him. "What happened?"
Gojyo wasn't curious so much as desperate to distract Goku, and himself, from watching the unnatural movement of Sanzo's chest from the forced breaths. Besides, Gojyo was gonna have to know who to kill if the monk didn't wake up.
"Something pulled Sanzo under the water," Goku whispered in a flat voice. "I got him out, but he wasn't, he..."
Goku's eyes started to drift back to the still man on the floor. Gojyo reached out again, this time covering the left side of Goku's face with his palm, blocking his view of Sanzo. The saru's skin was cold and clammy.
"Was it a fire oni?" Gojyo leaned closer.
The saru frowned, large golden eyes re-focusing on Gojyo. "Fire oni? Yeah, it was throwing fire balls, sparks everywhere, like fireflies..."
"Where did it go?" Gojyo pushed the damp hair back from Goku's temple.
"It... disappeared," Goku said, leaning into Gojyo's hand like a sleepy puppy.
"What? Back in the water?" Uneasily, Gojyo shifted on his haunches, peering over his left shoulder at the pool, hidden under a thick blanket of steam.
The damp air moved across the bare skin of his chest like dewy cobwebs, making it goosebump. Gojyo shivered, straining to hear something besides Hakkai's failing labors, but there was only the burbling of the spring and dripping moisture from the walls. Something was in here with them. Gojyo could sense it. his toes were curled with tension against the wet stone, and the back of his neck was tingling. He started to reach for the shakujou where it lay on the ground, but Goku gripped his wrist. Gojyo looked back at him, surprised when the young man pressed his face into his hand.
"I'm cold, Gojyo," Goku whined softly.
"Yeah, you're like an icicle, kid," he acknowledged.
Gojyo shifted closer, pressing his left side to Goku's right to share body heat. The monkey had curled up against him plenty of times in the back of Jeepu when it was chilly. Gojyo was known as the hot-blooded member of the ikkou for more than one reason. Goku wrapped an arm, lost inside the large sleeve of the borrowed shirt, around Gojyo's waist.
Just as Gojyo reached for the shakujou again, he startled as Sanzo sat up halfway, coughing up water. Hakkai supported the monk as the wiry frame was wracked with violent retching and barking gasps for air.
"Hakkai, you did it!" Gojyo grinned.
The relief in the green eyes made Gojyo realize the healer had thought the worst.
"Hey, monkey." Gojyo shook the form huddled against his chest. The wet, spiky head moved under his chin. "Look, the monk's gonna be okay."
Gojyo froze. He felt the soft wetness of what could only be a tongue licking his neck. And sneaky monkey paws were working their way under the waistband of his pants where they gapped in the back.
"Goku?" The name came out several octaves higher than normal.
Gojyo shot a confused look at Hakkai, and the green eyes widened. The healer straightened and a chi ball appeared above his open hand.
"Back away, Gojyo," Hakkai said in the forced calm tone he used when a particularly poisonous insect had landed on someone.
The tone made Gojyo tense up, but also stay still. "What?"
"You're an idiot," Sanzo rasped.
Before Gojyo could even begin formulating a retort, the monk's foot lashed out and kicked him hard, knocking him over. Releasing Goku in surprise, Gojyo grabbed the shakujou as he let the momentum of the hit turn into a backward summersault, rolling up into a fighting crouch.
Despite having been mostly dead a few moments ago, Sanzo started chanting. Goku leaped at the monk with a growl, and hit the chant like an invisible wall. Sanzo kept chanting as Goku curled up into a whimpering ball. Heart tearing with pity, Gojyo automatically took a step toward the suffering kid when Hakkai reached behind Sanzo to grab him.
Suddenly, Goku threw back his head and howled. A blast of hot wind and sparks exploded upwards out of his torqued body, and there was the sharp stink of burnt flesh and hair. Instinctively, Gojyo raised his forearm to shield his eyes.
"Holy shit!" Gojyo spun out the blade on the shakujou, but it passed harmlessly through the fire oni.
A split second later, Hakkai's chi ball struck it, and the entity was briefly outlined in flickering blue. There was a sizzling sound and Gojyo could swear he saw a hovering flame inside the rough shape of a man. Even as he watched, the oni absorbed the chi, flaring brighter. The air crackled with energy, standing every hair on Gojyo's body on end. He felt like he was standing in a big flat field in the middle of a lightning storm.
"Uh, I think he ate it," Gojyo pointed out.
"Yes, it appears to feed on chi as well as body heat," Hakkai responded. "Gojyo, please get them out of here."
Gojyo glanced down and realized Goku and Sanzo were both unconscious. Great. He hoped the monk was still breathing, 'cause no way in hell was he doing that mouth-to-mouth shit. And as far as the monkey went...
"Now, please," Hakkai stressed.
"I ain't leaving you," Gojyo argued.
Just as Hakkai turned to him, mouth opening to respond, the oni threw a fire ball the size of a human head straight at them.