Title: Zang Fu Theory, Part 8
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. P8 - Gojyo remembers Jien's magic beans.
Warning: Language, Sexual Situations
Notes: I have no idea how Hakkai and Hakuryu are "connected" or how much they understand each other, so I took liberties.
Disclaimer: Kazuya Minekura's beautiful boys. If they were mine, there'd be more stops at onsens, secluded woodland bathing pools, shower scenes and overall general nudity. And fewer female wait staff.
Gojyo's eyes shifted over Hakkai's shoulder, widening as they locked on the fireball hurtling towards them. Before he could move or call out a warning, Hakkai read the danger in his face. Time seemed to stretch out like a long trail of cigarette smoke slowly unraveling in an airless room.
Hakkai lightly touched Gojyo's hand on the shakujou, which meant "don't move", then twisted around. The brunette raised his left palm and the bluish white shimmer of the chi shield appeared in mid-air seconds before the fireball struck. Gojyo had pressed his free hand against his friend's back in a gesture of support, so he felt the impact.
The fireball exploded against the shield, and a soft grunt escaped the healer, like he'd been punched in the gut. Gojyo watched the flames arch up and out around them, could smell and feel the scorching wind pass by. When the last embers skittered off into the mist, Hakkai dropped the shield and turned back to him.
The hand over his tightened, and time snapped back into place as if a window had been thrown open, sucking out the smoke. Green eyes pinned him with urgency.
"Please, Gojyo," Hakkai said tersely,"get them to safety. I'll follow you."
This time he didn't argue. With a nod, Gojyo patted Hakkai's back and turned to the rest of the ikkou. Opening his hand, Gojyo released the shakujou and the weapon vanished as he walked with long strides to the unconscious pair. He noticed Goku's nyoi-bo was already gone; their weapons couldn't remain without consciousness.
Gojyo squatted next to Sanzo first. He knew from experience the bony monk was the lightest. Grabbing the thin wrists, Gojyo hauled Sanzo into a sitting position then leaned forward so the limp body fell forward over his shoulder. As a hanyou, Gojyo could easily carry Sanzo around like this for a couple of miles. Problem was the saru. Goku, the seemingly opposite of Sanzo in so many ways, was the heaviest one in the ikkou. His compact frame was packed with dense muscle. Swiveling on the balls of his feet, Gojyo turned Goku onto his stomach, then tugged the saru onto his thigh, rolling the dead weight up to his waist.
Taking a breath, Gojyo braced his feet and stood with a grunt. He shifted Goku like a big sack of rice, jutting out a hip to get leverage as he clamped him against his side. Staggering a moment for balance, Gojyo jostled Sanzo closer to the crook of his neck, literally placing the naked monk cheek-to-cheek with him. In the midst of their dangerous situation, Gojyo was struck with the impulse to turn his head and bite that lily-white ass.
Chuckling to himself, Gojyo walked with heavy steps through the araiba. He'd love to see the monk's expression when he tried to figure out how he got a bite mark on his holy butt. The thought was wiped from his head when Gojyo ducked under the noren to the datsuijyo and got a face full of dragon.
"Hakuryu! Back up!" Gojyo shook his head violently back and forth, to try to clear his sight, only succeeding in getting his long hair tangled in talons.
"Shit!" Bracing his knees against the bench, Gojyo slid Goku down the side of his body to the floor. Losing the counter-weight, he almost fell over, and ended up sitting down hard on the bench. Reaching up, he pulled the tangled snarls of hair free and shooed the dragon away.
"Cheee!" Hakuryu was so freaked out, his red eyes were rolling.
"I know, I know. He's coming," Gojyo tried to reassure the frantic dragon. He was never sure exactly how much language the little guy understood, but generally the dragon seemed to catch the gist of things.
Gojyo lowered Sanzo off his shoulder into his lap, cradling the monk's damp head against his bare chest. Shit. Blondie was even colder than Goku. Gojyo's free hand fumbled for the monk's robes on the bench, bending his head to peek under the noren. With relief, he saw the lower half of Hakkai's body as the healer backed into the araiba.
"Hakkai! Move your ass!" Gojyo called out.
"I am trying, Gojyo, but-" There was a flash of light and Gojyo's gut clenched until Hakkai resumed speaking. "But it appears to be following me."
Gojyo draped the robe over Sanzo's still form. They were in deep shit. No one won a fight playing defense, and they couldn't run with two of them out cold. Gojyo's eyes fell on the sutra sitting rolled up on the bench. The way he figured it, they only had one chance.
"Hey, monk! Wake up," Gojyo shook the limp form in his arms. No response. "Yo!" He shook Sanzo harder, and something fell onto the top of his bare foot. Shifting the monk, Gojyo craned his neck to peer down. Rocking lightly from the fall next to his big toe, was a bean. For a moment his brain couldn't process the presence of the legume, then Gojyo remembered what Hakkai had said moments ago in the hotel room.
"The kid was right," Gojyo murmured. "I smell beans too."
Hakkai managed a weak laugh. "Sanzo and I slept on the floor of a storage shed."
Gojyo moved Sanzo out of his lap and lay him on his side on the bench. He reached down to pick up the bean, holding it between thumb and forefinger as he examined it. It was a soy bean.
"Fuku mame," the words popped out of Gojyo's mouth before he knew he was going to speak.
Gojyo was quickly lost in the moving sea of adult legs and kimonos, and the roar of voices pressed down on him until he felt like he was drowning in noise. A spur of panic hooked his chest, and his eyes stung. Why hadn't he listened to his oni-san and stayed by the meat bun stand? It seemed like he was always doing something stupid and getting in trouble for it.
Suddenly, hands grabbed him under the arms, and Gojyo's feet flew out from under him as he was scooped up and for one dizzying moment, hanging above the crowd. Then he was settled on a broad pair of shoulders, and he grabbed a double fistful of spiky black hair.
"Oi! Don't pull so hard, ototo-san!" Jien protested, reaching up and squeezing Gojyo's wrist.
With a laugh, Gojyo released Jien's hair and rested his hands on top of his brother's head. His fear fled immediately, happiness and relief rushing in so quickly he almost felt dizzy. Jien had found him. Jien always found him.
Jien's tall, broad frame easily navigated through the rowdy festival crowd. From his vantage point, Gojyo saw men and women, grown-ups and children, human and youkai. He automatically scanned for red hair or red eyes as they passed people laughing, drinking and eating their rice balls and meat buns, but he only saw shades of black and brown.
"Here," Jien held up a small bundle wrapped in cheap silk, tied with a red ribbon.
Gojyo took the bundle and immediately opened it, expecting a treat. Instead, there was a handful of ordinary roasted soy beans.
"Um, thanks, oni-san," Gojyo tried to keep the disappointment out of his voice. "They look delicious."
He felt Jien's shoulders shake with laughter.
"You're a terrible liar, ototo-san," Jien said. "Don't eat them yet. Those are fuke mame."
"Fortune beans?" Gojyo held up the legumes in front of his nose and examined them more closely. They still looked like ordinary soy beans to him.
"Yes," Jien assured him. "Today is Setsubun. We're going to go to the temple for mame maki," a long, muscled arm rose and pointed up the slight hill."
"Bean throwing?" Gojyo laughed. He pictured the mean monks who called him "unclean" dodging roasted beans.
"Uh-huh. And when you throw them, you shout as loud as you can, oni wa so to!"
"Oni wa so to," Gojyo repeated. He looked up the hill at the small crowd that was gathering around the temple. "Get out demons."
"And then," Jien paused as he stepped aside to let a woman with a child strapped to her back pass, "you say fu ku wa uchi."
"Fu ku wa uchi," Gojyo said softly. He waved to the black-haired baby in front of them, who gurgled and waved back. "Come in happiness."
"Hakuryu, outside! Transform!" Hakkai's shout pulled Gojyo out of the memory and drew his attention back to the bath house.
"Chrrr!" The white dragon was flying in agitated circles in the small space, scraping his wings against the walls.
"Now, Hakuryu!" Hakkai's voice had that tone of finality that made Gojyo's guts feel like they were tied up in barbed wire.
He watched the dragon fly outside and saw him transform into Jeepu on the path under the curtain. He knew what he was supposed to do; what Hakkai meant him to do. He was supposed to haul the monkey and monk out there and hightail it outta town.
Gojyo didn't exactly have a rep for doing what he was supposed to do.
"What the hell," Gojyo said out loud, clenching the bean in his fist.
Before the idiocy of his own actions could sink in, he stood and ran into the araiba. Hakkai was on his knees, hands at his sides, face resigned. The fire oni was almost on top of the green-eyed healer, and to Gojyo's horror, Hakkai was making absolutely no attempt to defend himself. Shouting from every fiber of his being, Gojyo threw the bean.
After Gojyo's footsteps faded away behind him, Hakkai counted silently to ten, then began backing away from the pool. Hakkai was a firm believer in retreat as a viable battle strategy; if one's opponent allowed the employment of such a maneuver. He barely took half a dozen steps before he had to raise the shield against another fireball. Even though he locked his elbow, his shoulder jarred with the recoil.
Moving as if he were trying not to provoke a stalking animal, Hakkai continued the slow, steady backward steps. The noren brushed the back of his head. Not daring to duck or turn around, Hakkai stepped back, letting the split curtain slide around his face and shoulders, temporarily blocking his vision. Whether through coincidence or cunning, the fire oni chose that moment to release another fiery missive. With no time for shielding, Hakkai threw himself onto his back as the noren burst into flames above him. He rolled away from the falling patches of burning linen and quickly found his feet.
"Hakkai!" Gojyo's voice called out from the datsuijyo. "Move your ass!"
Hakkai watched the fire oni pass through the cascading curtain of fire. Around the burning center, a man-sized figure shimmered, like the distortion of rising heat on a desert horizon.
"I am trying, Gojyo, but-" he paused.
The oni's center flickered, and Hakkai raised the chi shield as a fireball shot out of the oni. His wrist, elbow and shoulder joints groaned in protest as they absorbed the impact.
"But it appears to be following me," Hakkai finished.
It was indeed following him. It appeared that the fire oni was not going to allow a retreat. When the realization came, Hakkai stopped backing up toward the datsuijyo. Doing so would only bring the danger closer to the others. Watching the oni's slow advance, Hakkai turned the situation over in his mind like a Japanese puzzle box. Sometimes the solution was a series of small movements, sometimes it was a single move.
Another fireball drove Hakkai to his knees. His body ached and he felt slightly dizzy from the chi drain. He wouldn't be able to fully deflect another attack. If he fell, he knew Gojyo would abandon their unconscious companions and come to him. He couldn't permit that. Four lives would be lost instead of one.
The puzzle box sprung open, and Hakkai saw the solution.
"Hakuryu, outside!" Hakkai called out. "Transform!" He sent a mental image of the white jeep speeding away with Gojyo, Sanzo and Goku inside.
"Chrrrr!" The distress in the dragon's cry was clear.
"Now, Hakuryu!" Hakkai commanded in his hardest tone.
Knowing his final order would be obeyed, Hakkai faced the fire oni, hands dropping to his sides in surrender. He hoped the oni would come into him as it had before. It would be temporarily contained while it consumed his chi and body heat until Hakkai's body burned out like the farmer's. That should buy enough time for Hakuryu to get the others a safe distance away.
As the fire oni approached, Hakkai struggled to keep his eyes open against the waves of heat washing over him. A flash of red to his right diverted Hakkai's attention, and to his dismay, he saw Gojyo run into the room, yelling and waving a clenched fist. The oni's approach halted.
"Oni wa so to!" Gojyo shouted, then with a grunt, he threw something at the oni that looked like a pebble.
When the pebble hit the oni's shimmering aura, the burning center flared, and there was a terrific snap and roar, as if a damp log had been thrown onto a bonfire. Hakkai reflexively shielded his eyes with his forearm as the flare licked toward the ceiling, chasing gibbering shadows madly around the room. The sharp smell of a thousand matches simultaneously struck precipitated a vast whooshing sound. Hakkai's ears popped, and he struggled to breath in a room that suddenly seemed to have all the air sucked out of it.
Just when his lungs were fit to burst, the air flooded back in. Hakkai greedily gulped it in through nose and open mouth. He didn't realize he was laying on the floor until the cold wetness started seeping through the sha shirt and backs of his trousers. Hakkai could swear he could feel his heart pounding into the stone through his back.
"Well, fuck me," Gojyo breathed.
Hakkai opened his eyes just as the redhead flopped down next to him, long limbs splayed wide.
"Can't believe that worked," Gojyo's voice was full of wonder.
"What did you throw?" Hakkai turned his head to look at his friend.
When Gojyo faced him, the redhead was wearing a big, sloppy grin.
"A bean!" he announced.
Hakkai stared at the other man and waited for an elaboration that never came.
"A bean," Hakkai repeated.
"Yes," the redhead confirmed. The crimson eyes narrowed. "By the way, if you ever try to pull that self-sacrifice shit again, I'm gonna kick your ass."
Reaching around his waist, Gojyo pulled Hakkai on top of his bare chest and squeezed him hard enough to drive the air out of his lungs again. Hakkai could feel the mad triphammer of the hanyou's heart beneath his cold cheek.
"Yes, Gojyo," Hakkai said softly.
"Hey," Gojyo's voice rumbled through his chest. "While we're in here, wanna take a bath?"
Hakkai raised himself up on his arms to look down into Gojyo's face. The cheeky redhead winked up at him. Despite himself, a breathless laugh escaped Hakkai. Moments ago he had resigned himself to a horribly painful, disfiguring death, and now he was laying atop a half-naked, flirting Gojyo.
"Gojyo, you really are quite-" Hakkai was going to say "incorrigible", but the redhead interrupted him.
"Handsome?" The teasing light in the crimson eyes warmed to sensual. "Sexy?"
Hakkai tried to straighten, but Gojyo's clasped hands at the small of his back held him firmly in place. His arms started to tremble, muscles still tired from the recent battle. Gojyo's hands slid up and pressed down on his mid-back. Hakkai's arms gave out and he collapsed on Gojyo's chest.
"Fuckable?" the redhead whispered in his burning ear.
fuku mame - Good Fortune Beans or Happiness Beans. Bean Picture
oni-san - older brother
ototo-san - younger brother
Setsubun - Holiday celebrated in
mame maki - scattering/throwing beans
oni wa so to - get out ogre/oni/evil
fu ku wa uchi - come in happiness