Title: "Seven Nights of Solace"

by Lycotheia

Pairing: 53

Rating: MA/NC-17

Summary: While Sanzo recuperates, he and Gojyo discover a new side of their relationship.

Disclaimer: I do not own Saiyuki or any of its characters. I jut own this original plot, title, and the dialogue.

Warnings: VSDL, of course! Mild violence, sex, drug use, and--drum roll please--Gojyo's potty mouth. Also, this hasn't really been edited, so if, for some ungodly reason, I split an infinitive, please don't sent me to the stockades.

Length: ~11,000 words/ 21 pages

 

Night One

 

I had thought for sure that this time, it was the end. He'd been wounded before, dozens of times; it was expected, with what we did, how we lived. But not like this. I'd never seen his skin so pale—and the blood. Gods there was so much blood.

            We hurried him up the stairs, his cold, limp body folded in my arms far too agreeably, head balanced against my chest in defeat. I could hardly feel the warm pulse of life at his core, or the brush of his breath at my neck. Frantic prayers escaped me, and to gods I had never acknowledged before, addressing whatever merciful entities might exist in the universe. Please, please don't take him away from me.

            Hakkai ripped the covers from the bed in a flurry of white, helping me ease the monk onto the virgin sheets; I watched in mute horror as Hakkai, drained though he was, proceeded to close deep gashes running the length of thighs and arms, twisting across a narrow stomach. Somewhere in the background, Goku was pacing and sprinting between us, pathetic keening sounds escaping him as he pleaded with me, demanding reassurance, wanting to hear that his sun was going to be alright. I remember what he said now, but at the time I'd hardly heard a whisper in passing.

 Soon the bedclothes were soaked, and the tips of long, bloodied fingers were twitching madly at the amount of ki being transferred into his body. Hakkai was doused in sweat, thin shirt clinging to his narrow frame, body trembling. I knew I should tell him to stop, to back away and let me finish binding and suturing the wounds, but I bit my tongue selfishly. As a healer, he knew his limits, but was prone to pushing them for the sake of his motley little "family."

The deepest of the wounds were closed, though it was not unlike the attack on Goku months ago, when the saru had almost lost his life. When room was made at the bedside, I joined, shooing Goku off without a word and busying myself with tattered clothing and bed sheets. Somewhere in the heat of things, I sent Goku to fetch decent bandages; my eyes were glued to the gaping wounds beneath tattered robes and an impeccable, untouched sutra. Hakkai was starting to pant, energy he didn't have pouring out of him in great green-tinted waves. When I saw him grow paler than his patient, a hard hand clasped his shoulder.

            "Enough. You're going to hurt yourself."

            "He's--"

            "Help me bandage him." I said instead, relieved when the request was obliged, watching Hakkai's neat, slender hands make quick work of his wounds. Goku was back shortly with wrappings, declaring that he called for the local healer as well. When he stepped into the light, I saw dirty tear stains on his wide face.

"He's gonna be okay, right Hakkai?" Callused fingers wrung together, and he spoke again, voice cracking. "Sanzo's going to be okay, isn't he? Isn't he?

 

It was raining out, and Sanzo had been gone too long for comfort. He never left when it rained, and that should have been my first hint. But I was pleasantly buzzed, and content not to have things thrown at me by an irritated, unholy monk. It wasn't until Hakkai, scooping up a pile of plastic chips between us as he won yet another round, addressed the man's absence that I became concerned.

Goku was dozing on the bed, stuffed from a delicious meal the hostess had prepared for us. Hakkai and I were in the large, single room we all shared (everything else was booked, much to Sanzo's exasperation) and playing a few rounds of poker before bed.

"The corner store must be closed now, and I can't imagine buying cigarettes would take so long."

"Maybe he stopped to take a piss."

"He's been gone half an hour."

"Did you see how much he drank?" I jested, tossing my cards down in a fold before Hakkai could fan out his full house or whatever the hell he had. Four of a kind. Oh. He was good.

"I think something's wrong." He stood, his easygoing smile and relaxed eyes vanishing as though they had been merely an act.

"How do you know he didn't get sidetracked?" Maybe I was a little nervous, just then, though I never would have admitted it to Hakkai. I had been experiencing some entirely inappropriate (and improbable, besides) feelings for Sanzo, and in order to repress them, I was spitting more venom at the monk than usual. If I willed myself to hate him for long enough, maybe I could go back to that easy way of life.

"He doesn't get sidetracked, Gojyo. That's you you're thinking of."

"Huh. So it is…" I rose to follow, making sure to voice a few token gripes, in case the healer thought I was going soft, and in a moment we were outside in a downpour.

"Are we seriously gonna wander around in this mess lookin' for him? I bet he's holed up in some bar and laughing his ass off, thinking we'd do just this. Prick."

"I sense youki."

My hair stood on end, and I felt like a lightning rod for an instant, skimming the surrounding area with my limited senses, and growling in frustration when I failed to pick anything up.

"Where?"

"Come with me. Hurry." Hakkai sounded nervous. Hakkai never sounded nervous. It scared me, and little tremors of apprehension gurgled through my bloodstream, stopping my heart every once in a while and blotting my vision. It wasn't the whiskey; panic had burned that out of my system the minute Hakkai gasped and broke into a run. I pursued blindly, slapping damp branches out of my way and ripping up the roots my sneakers became entangled in as I went.

I knew we were getting close when bodily remains and the smell that accompanies them after a rain began to appear in the nearby foliage. The first few corpses had bullet holes and broken limbs, and blood was splattered messily along a makeshift trail where crashing bodies had torn the natural copse away. I saw fragments of a familiar, cream-colored fabric hanging on sharp thorns, caught beneath clenched claws.

Trees bent away from us as we neared the clearing; Hakkai pushed back a water-laden branch, revealing the small circular refuge within the thick woods. Most of the bodies were incinerated, as though they had been burnt up with sorcerer's magic. I recognized the work of the Maten Sutra, by now.

But at first, we saw nothing else; the moon rested behind a cloud, and we breathed easily in ignorant darkness. I could feel the tension seeping from the body nearest mine. The stench of blood prevailed, dominating all else; Hakkai murmured hopefully, "Well, he's taken care of them."

I don't think the moon has ever struck greater horror into a viewer than it did me, at that moment. Pulling out from behind shady clouds, it beamed down in harsh shafts of silver, reflecting off of every crystal bead of rain in sight.

 There was blood all over the ground.

A sharp gleam of light on wet metal caught my eye. It was nestled in the crook of a tree, between fat, moss-slicked roots arching up from the mud. The banishing gun.

The familiar rustling of the long, writhing sutra drew our attention to a fringe of trees, where a figure in white lay crumpled, stained with blotches of poppy red and surrounded by a coiled scroll. The paper shuddered in the breeze, useless while its guardian was unconscious. Tangled amongst his limbs, the powerful ward did nothing to deter the last of the youkai, a blood streaked monster leering at the monk like his next meal. I approached, and the writhing papyrus recoiled at my presence, slithering back like a paper snake, but with enough power in it to incinerate me with a glance from its guardian.

My shaku-jou took his head in a single blow, and Hakkai was at my side in an instant, kneeling in the mud and pulling Sanzo over with a small grunt of effort. I don't remember it, but Hakkai told me later that I let out a long, guttural groan, as if in mourning already, when I saw him that way, slicked in mud and blood, face tense even in his state of unconsciousness. The thought that he had tried to defend himself, alone, and failed, seemed so out of character and threatening to my conception of reality that I felt the burning itch of tears behind my eyes for the first time in years. Sanzo wasn't supposed to lose.

"We have to get him back, Gojyo!" Hakkai's strong voice snapped me out of it; he was still tired from the fighting we'd done earlier that day, but it was he who first acted, binding Sanzo's deepest wounds and drawing them together with what chi he could summon. I scooped him up, taking off towards the direction of the town, the inn, and clutched the suddenly frail figure to my chest in desperation. Those curious, nameless feelings that had been circling me all day, all week, in the jeep, suddenly snapped into focus. I wanted Sanzo to be okay. I needed him to be. I loved—

 

Night Two

 

            Gojyo had been pacing the length of the room all day, between much-needed naps. He was doing it again, guarding Sanzo like a lion, snapping at Goku if he came too close, or jostled the bed or bandages. It didn't occur to me then as anything more than a fanciful comparison, but Gojyo reminded me quite a bit of how a full-blooded youkai might behave if his mate were wounded.

            And Sanzo certainly qualified for one, if not both, of those descriptions. He had almost died, and at that time, I still wasn't sure that he wouldn't. He had lost a lot of blood, and been exposed to the damp and the cold for far too long. The fact that he hadn't awoken also stirred feelings of doubt within me; the man had hardly moved. The only sign of life within him was the characteristic wrinkle in his brow, as if he were plagued by duty even in sleep.

            When the local healer had come in with a poultice, Gojyo had permitted it (I say this because he hovered protectively the entire time), but when the physician asked to see the wounds, intrigued by how a holy man's body might heal, Gojyo chased him out. I never expected such devotion from him, especially towards Sanzo, but perhaps he has a soft spot for the wounded.

            He hadn't left his bedside once, but sat perched in the rickety old chair near the head of the bed, changing bandages as I had taught him, and checking for infection. If Sanzo shivered in his sleep, the kappa would draw blankets up to his chin. If he started to sweat, he would roll them back, bathing his forehead with water from the tap.

We had been given another room, which Goku and I shared for the time being, though all three of us spent more time in Sanzo's than any place else. When I had spare chi, I would pour it into his body, hastening the healing process as best I could. Gojyo seemed sensitive about my getting close to him, or tending to him outside of healing. He insisted that he would do it, and often shooed me from the room.

            I couldn't figure that part out yet, though the stitches he made once I had procured the proper materials couldn't have been neater. He knew what he was doing, so I let him take over, though it upset Goku that Gojyo maintained the coveted role as Sanzo's protector.

            The chairs screeched as we dragged them across the floor to the small table by the window. Goku was sleeping in the other room, and I had just managed to draw Gojyo from the bedside. He was shuffling cards between strong fingertips, claret gaze locked on the motionless form in the bed.

"Gojyo."

"Huh?"

I smiled, a genuine one this time, one he couldn't mistake, and pressed my hand over his, stilling the useless motion of the cards. We both knew we weren't going to play. "He's very strong."

"I know that."

"You've been worried for him."

"Haven't you?"

"Yes. I suppose that came out wrong. What I meant was that you've been worried for him in a way I didn't…expect of you." I chose my words carefully. "I couldn't have foreseen your taking such good care of him."

"Yeah well, he's kind of a requirement for his trip, you know?" Gojyo shrugged; his hand wriggled free.

"Yes, he is," I agreed softly, trying once more. "But you've never acted this way around him before. I was only wondering if…"

"If what, Hakkai?" He snapped impatiently; I generously attributed it to the lack of sleep and frayed nerves.

"Nothing." A smile. "I was only thinking of how, even in sleep, he looks very put out, anxiety-ridden." Gojyo must have noticed the furrow in the fair forehead as well, and the tensed expression of his face, as if he had been embalmed. It made him shudder.

 "I should go to bed. Call for me immediately if anything happens." I brushed his shoulder on my way out, offering a tentative smile. Before I had shut the door, he was back at Sanzo's bedside. In the morning, when I found him, he had fallen asleep on his knees, face pillowed in the narrow space between the priest's arm and the edge of the mattress. That was when I started to suspect.

 

Night Three

 

I've never been as scared in my life as I was watching him, willing him to wake up and fearing he never would. What if he just slipped away in his sleep, without even giving us the chance to say goodbye? He was such a bastard, he just might do it.

So I started talking to him. Not a lot at first; it was just a warning here or there, threatening him to keep him from fucking us all over with his death. But after that, it turned into encouragements here and there, nudges and brushes of my hand over the unscathed parts of his body.

It was evening, and Hakkai had left after splitting half a bottle of vodka with me; I was just buzzed enough to be unable to fall asleep, so I waited up. Sanzo lay in the narrow bed beneath the open window, moonlight making his skin and hair glow like some chryselephantine statue, meant for a museum. I had cracked the window because he seemed hot to the touch, and I kept tabs on his temperature so that I would know when to close it.

"You know you're such a priss. I have to do everything for you." I nudged the edge of the mattress with a bare foot, wriggling my toes against the cool fabric. "But I don't mind it so much. I'd mind it less if I knew you were gonna wake up. Prick." 

Silence responded, and I felt a pull in my chest. Where was the harsh retort, the threat of the harisen? "You might not believe this, but you know, you really scared the shit out of me back there. I thought you were…well never mind what I thought. I'm just glad you're breathin', man." A stroke of my hand brought feathery blond hair behind his ear. I thought he looked beautiful, even like that. I made the mistake of mentioning it aloud, and blushing to the roots of my hair despite the returning silence.

"I ugh, didn't mean it the way it came out, ya know. You're just a pretty guy is all. Too bad your personality doesn't exactly match up with that." I snorted in laughter, mostly forced, and found my hand resting over Sanzo's left arm.

"Look, idiot. Just wake up, okay? You're scaring everyone. That stupid pet monkey of yours is even crying. You gotta get up, even if it's just for him, and to smack me with your fan."

As the night drew on, and I finished off that bottle of vodka Hakkai had left behind, I became more and more comfortable talking to him. A Sanzo that didn't sneer or threaten violence was a surprisingly good listener. I told him all sorts of shit that I'm embarrassed to recount now, but somehow or other, it all led up to my telling him how I felt. It makes my skin crawl now, to think of the risk I ran. What if he had woken up just then? It'd be worth it, I suppose, to get beaten senseless, so long as it was by a conscious Sanzo.

"When I say you're scaring everyone, I'm not lying. But you're really scaring me. I never thought I'd say this, but I miss you, ya bastard. I could do without the harisen swinging at me all the time, but I want you back."

A long moment of silence stretched between us, and I heaved a sigh. "This may be the alcohol talking, but I really…look. Lately--lately I've been feelin' kinda weird about you. A mix of all kinds of stuff that I can't sort out. And I can't exactly go to Hakkai with it—it's not his problem, he's got his own, and hell, it's personal. It's about you, but I can't go to you—not 'cause you're unconscious, but 'cause you're a prick—so I've just been shoving it back into my head, and hoping it'd go away. So far, no such luck. So since you're here…I might as well tell you." That was definitely the alcohol talking. I've heard of it giving men a touch of brazenness, but never of it turning anyone suicidal.

"I like you. Okay? I mean." And I let out a frustrated growl. Hakkai was so much better at this sort of thing than I was; he always knew exactly what he wanted to say, and how to express himself. "I really like you. Like, I wouldn't mind kissing you, sometime." I blushed even though my audience was out cold.

"And before you start bitching at me, know that it's not just a sexual thing. I mean sure, you're…you've got…an appeal," I admitted haltingly, "but it's the whole package I'm interested in. And I'd never, ever tell you this, no matter how drunk I was, if you weren't dead to the world."

His fingertips twitched, and I nearly fell off of my chair.

"Sanzo!"

He let out a small sigh, unmoving, and I kept my mouth shut the rest of the night.

 

Night Four

 

I remember the fight, and I remember going out. But after that, I was unconscious for a while, I think. Long enough for that stupid hanyou to go crazy and kill the other two, leaving me, unconscious but comprehending, in his possession. That's all I could deduce, given the evidence he produced. I didn't hear the others' voices when I woke, and Gojyo was rambling stupidly about some "problem" of his that he felt he had to share with me and the rest of the waking world. I wanted to open my eyes, and my mouth to curse him, but neither obeyed, so I sat in anxious, irritated silence.

That he thought I was a prick didn't surprise me. That he wanted to get into bed with me (he's not as subtle as he thinks) was no real shock to my system. That he claimed to have some sort of feelings for me was revolting; I could feel hot bile rise in the back of my throat at the thought of it. My hand ached so badly for the harisen that it actually twitched. Good. Some progress. When I was able to move, I would beat him senseless, and then consider shooting him. This insult was one I couldn't forgive.

But the night after, it got worse. He wasn't totally smashed—maybe he'd had a couple more beers than usual—but he was definitely not sober. Not that that excused him. I heard him enter, murmuring a goodnight to Hakkai—at least he hadn't killed him—and set something, a glass bottle, probably, down on a table. I strained my eyes, but they refused to obey. Everything hurt, and I was too exhausted to do more than listen.

"Hey how are you?" He asked as if I could answer. I felt him gently touch my shoulder, giving it a light squeeze. "Good. I hope you wake up real soon, Sanzo." I heard the chair screech on the floorboards. He sat.

"Hakkai n' me played poker at the local bar. I bought you some cigarettes; you can have them if you wake up," he promised, placing something on a nearer table. Maybe the pack of Marlboros.

"Worrying about you, Sanzo-sama," He drawled, pushing hair behind my ear. I made a third mental note to shoot him upon waking.

"I hope, if you can feel, that you're not in pain. I wish there was a way to know. Hakkai's still working on healing your wounds, though he says most of them are coming along pretty well. He says you're asleep because you drained so much of your energy using the sutra that you're still recuperating."

I had figured out as much on my own; I'd done this a time or two before, though never upon receiving multiple lesions and broken bones. And that stupid kappa wouldn't leave me alone. He told me everything about his night out, Hakkai's winnings, Goku's usual appalling appetite, and every amusing thing he thought he'd said to a passing waitress or patron in a short skirt.

"She was real pretty too, Sanzo. Even you would've looked. Don't think I don't see," I could hear the smirk in his voice as he continued on, "that you look at a pretty girl now and then too. And guys, I've noticed. That's one of the things that attracted me to you, ya know?" He wriggled about on his seat.

"You don't discriminate between the sexes; you like what you like, and you don't care who he is. You're that way with your friends, too, you know. Oh sorry." A dry chuckle. "Your servants. But really," and here a serious tone emerged, setting my nerves on edge, "it's a good quality to have. I wish I had been more like you a long time ago, in that regard. I've missed a lot of chances with some really good people, and thrown away a lot of romances that might've turned into solid friendships." He paused in thought, and I silently willed him to fall over dead on the floor, and spare me this humiliation.

"But even if I had, I'd still be here, now, with you." He must have convinced himself that the prostrate body before him was incapable of comprehension, I reasoned. There were no other circumstances that would permit him to speak thus.

"Besides, if truth be told, none of those women—even the hottie in the pink dress—could hold a candle to you. An' you're even wounded n' everything." I heard him chortle in the back of his throat, and felt the smooth brush of his hand over my own. It twitched in response, and I could practically feel him beaming at me.

"Can you hear me?"

Yes, moron. Now shut up.

"Sanzo, if you can hear me, please try to wake up. I've got Marlboros right here…"

That was playing dirty. It had been too long since my last smoke—I was dying for sweet long corrosion and the tart flavor of nicotine on the back of my tongue. I pushed my body further, feeling my hands twitch and, shortly, sensation returned to my legs as well. Gojyo gave out a jubilant cry, and I lay still. I'd rather do this when that idiot isn't around—but when did he leave? Every time I became conscious, I could sense him beside me.

"Sanzo."

Shut up.

"Please wake up."

Shut up.

"You're close…" His hand was on my arm, gently touching the tensed muscle through the fabric of my robes.

"I said shut the fuck up!" I rasped, eyes forced open by sheer aggravation. I managed to sit up, gasping with a dry throat and clutching at the sharp pain in my chest. "Fuck do you ever stop talking?" I hissed, directing my discomfort at him, though I was disarmed by his wide grin and faintly flushed complexion.

"Gods you scared the hell outta me man," He murmured, moving forward to push me back into the bed, insisting by gesture that I lie still. I realized my throat and mouth were like cotton, and I could barely rasp my next command.

"Get me a beer."

He brought a glass of water to the bedside, an arm sliding behind my shoulders as he tilted the glass against my mouth. I growled at him and slammed the sharp point of my elbow into a strong set of ribs, snatching at the sweating glass and downing it easily. I spat most of it back up—on him, at least—and he just sat there grinning like the idiot he was. It was impossible to evade his gaze.

"Stop it."

"What? Can't I get something for you? Anything, Sanzo. You've been out for days."

"How many?"

"Four."

"Shit. We're even farther behind schedule." Wriggling uncomfortably atop the sheets, I snatched at the packet of Marlboros on the dresser, demanding Gojyo's Zippo with an outstretched hand. He obliged.

"It's important that you heal. Then I can ask you why the fuck you were out alone in the middle of the woods."

"That doesn't strike me as your business, dumbass." I lit up, almost coughing in my haste to suck the tart flavor of smoke down my throat.

"It is my business. We're a team here, remember? All four of us. You coulda gotten killed."

"I don't have to tell you where I'm going, you stupid kappa," I hissed. "Now you'd shut the hell up if you knew what was good for you."

"You almost died Sanzo!"

"And your presence would have lessened the risk?!" I snapped back sharply, hands digging into the mattress with frustration. My head spun, and yelling wasn't helping. "The sutra couldn't take them all out—what makes you think you could have?"

"I didn't say I could, but I at least coulda helped protect you! Sanzo, you can't do this to us anymore. I know I don't have room to talk--"

"That's right you don't," The attempt to end it there fell flat.

"But," He continued stubbornly, "you got hurt. Sanzo. Real hurt." Were his eyes glistening? I sneered in silence, pulling back from his proximity.

"I don't…want to have to go through that again. I don't want to risk losing you. Please don't do it anymore," He said quietly, in a soft tone that almost constituted a plea. Gojyo never begged. For anything. His hand snatched at mine, pressing dry lips to the back of it.

"That almost killed me, to find you like that. Gods I can't tell you what went through my head…"

"I don't want to hear it." The trembling tone must have been the result of pain and disorientation. Whatever he felt, it didn't matter. "And you had damn well better keep that to yourself."

"Could you hear me, when I tried to talk to you? While you were in a coma?"

I couldn't decide whether I should tell the truth, or lie, and the unusual pause in thought explained everything. He smiled tiredly, a streak of red uncertainty between his lips.

"I did mean it, you know. I really care about you." Cheeks blushing brightly, he stood, pacing the length of the room like a caged beast. "I didn't know how to tell you—I sure as hell didn't expect to have to do it like this. I kinda thought I'd just wait it out a little longer. I mean—it's not like you were going anywhere. We're in this thing together."

"Are you finished?" I asked crisply, wanting very much to stride from the room with the few remaining shreds of dignity I had.

"Yeah." He breathed, sitting at the edge of the bed. "I think so."

"Good." I rose, brushing past him with a slight limp, but made it no farther than the nightstand before collapsing into a pair of strong arms, conveniently placed. He knew just what I had planned, and was quick on hi s feet.

"Careful, Sanzo-sama," A warm breath fluttered about my ear; he eased me into bed. "You're still badly wounded. Let me get Hakkai."

 

 

Night Five

 

I was pleased to see Sanzo up by the fourth night, and snarling insults and threats from his bed by the fifth. Gojyo was still rather protective of him, but I skirted the issue, simply appearing and disappearing as required in order to change bandages, heal wounds, and bring in meals. Something went on between them while I wasn't present that I didn't quite understand. Sanzo was as recklessly violent and headstrong as he always was the first night, but by the second, what passed between the two did something to sooth his frazzled nerves, smoothing back his hackles.

Sanzo let Gojyo stay with him, and in return, Gojyo was quiet.

That particular evening I walked in with dinner for the two of them on a tray, and found Gojyo sitting very close to the edge of the mattress, and Sanzo on his side; they were dealing cards in silence, both smoking like chimneys and playing jenga with an overflowing ashtray. They both seemed very intent on one another, eyes locked, though I doubted either was attempting to penetrate the other's poker face. I had to cough to get their attention. Sanzo was the first to draw back

"Dinner," I said pleasantly, placing the tray on the nearby table and clucking at Gojyo for letting the ashtray pile up. "It's a filthy habit."

"So is over-eating, and yet the monkey never gets yelled at."

Goku had been up twice that day to visit Sanzo, but I had lead him out, insisting that the monk needed rest, after half an hour or so. With the lure of ice cream or fish kabobs from the market, it was never terribly difficult.

They thanked me, and I left, though I made a point to return before bed and bid them goodnight. Gojyo seemed to know right away that such niceties weren't my true motive. I opened the door to find them looking closely at each other, as if they had just paused in conversation. Sanzo moved a bit away when I stepped over the threshold, and Gojyo leaned back in his chair. I am not in the habit of eavesdropping, so I persuaded myself that doing laundry in the small nook outside of their room was perfectly acceptable. And if I forgot to close the door all of the way, well, such things happen.

"You haven't shot me yet."

"The night isn't over." His voice hitched for a moment in pain, and I suspected he was moving around on the bed.

"You promised to think about it," Gojyo wheedled, and I heard a derisive snort from the priest.

"It was completely pathetic."

"See how far I'm willing to go for you?" I could hear the grin in Gojyo's voice. "It doesn't have to be romance, first, Sanzo. Not if you don't want," He murmured, and I sensed the thick silence between them. "I'll wait."

Sanzo made a noise of aggravation, and soon I heard the crisp snap of playing cards, and silence reigned the rest of the evening. At least until my laundry was done.

 

Night Six

 

            I think it's safe to say, regardless of what the future holds, that the sixth night after Sanzo's injury was the happiest night of my life. It started out, however, appearing to be one of the worst.

            Sanzo was in a foul mood because his pain killers had worn off, and Hakkai had forbidden me to give him any sort of alcohol, insisting that it would be dangerous to mix that and heavy medication. Easier said than done; Hakkai wasn't the one who had to stay up all night with that miserable monk. Not that I really minded; he was cute when he was sullen, though he kept me on my toes. Someone had left his harisen a little too close to the bed, and he had recaptured it. I'll bet anything it was that damned monkey. Even Hakkai wasn't cruel enough to do that.

I had been drinking at the bar while Hakkai tried to persuade Sanzo to eat more substantially. The priest would have none of it, for one reason or another, (probably just to be a stubborn asshole) and sat there smoking defiantly, knowing Hakkai hated it, and would leave shortly. I only sat at the bar long enough to get the faintest buzz; I wanted to be able to move quickly if necessary, and be there for Sanzo that evening. It's worth mentioning that I was afraid he'd smack me across the room with that harisen if he was able to smell vodka on my breath; he was as nasty deprived of alcohol as he was when he was drunk.

Upon returning, Hakkai brushed past me in the doorway, giving my shoulder a quick pat with a murmured, "Good luck." I snatched at his sleeve, barely managing to catch him before he disappeared into his and Goku's room. His eyes widened, like a hare's who was startled at being caught. Closing the door with a squeaky click, I drew him aside into a little nook meant for laundry.

"What's up?"

"Nothing. He won't eat. He needs to, if he wants to heal in due time." Hakkai looked exhausted, and I realized he must have been using his chi to close more of Sanzo's wounds. He wrung his hands together, the knuckles whitening with effort.

"I'll try. But I didn't have time to join a game downstairs; if he gets too pissy, he might hold out on us with the gold card. I better start working on some backup funds."

"I have a bit of my own," Hakkai assured me, "you won't starve."

"I wasn't worried about starving—who's gonna finance my cigs?"

"Oh, well you're right there. I'm not paying for the destruction of your lungs." And then a spark flickered behind his good eye, and he smiled faintly, the corners of his lips pulling upwards in the smallest of gestures. "But, if you can get him to finish the meager dinner I left in there for him, I'll owe you a pack."

"You know I can't resist a bet."

"Good luck," Hakkai teased, bidding me goodnight as he vanished quickly behind Goku's door. I heard the monkey whine at him for food, or money for the vending in the lobby, and then clicked the lock of our own room.

"I hear houshi-sama won't eat. Do you intend to starve yourself?"

"I'm not hungry, baka. Were you just drinking?"

"You've gotta good nose for a human," I made a gesture as if to tip my hat to him in congratulations.

"It's not the smell, idiot."

"Then how did you know?" I glanced at my shirt, as if expecting to find a dark stain there, or some other stray sign of the Absolut Vanilla I had been working through downstairs.

"Your face."

"This is totally not my drunk face, Sanzo." I peered into the mirror, hearing him heave an irritated sigh behind me, as if he were talking to Goku. Not to feel insulted was impossible.

"Your cheeks are flushed," He elaborated, and I noticed the faint red on the tops of the arched bones. A rather minute detail to be noticed by someone who affects total disdain. An intimate detail, one might say.

"So they are," I agreed, taking the tray from the top of the dresser to Sanzo. "Gonna eat now?"

"Are you deaf?"

"No. Just hopeful. I want to see you heal." He was silent, so I tried another tactic. "So Hakkai fixed you up some more today?"

"Yes."

"That's good. Can I see? The wounds, I mean." I plucked at his sheet, and he snatched it away from me, a faint blush to match my own tinting his fair complexion.

"Back off, erokappa."

"I just wanted to see if they looked any better!" I held my hands up in defense, backing off. "Sorry, sorry. Blame a guy for worrying why don't you?"

He snorted in annoyance, and I tried the food again, and was bluntly refused. I noticed he hadn't used the harisen yet, but was casting longing glances at it with increasing frequency. Holding up a well-worn deck, images of vintage pin-ups on the backs, I offered, "Cards?"

A grunt of assent, and we had a little game of poker going. Sanzo ended up with two pair, and I with double aces. Following, I had a lucky flush—deuces were wild—and he folded with a pair of kings. A half hour passed, and favor flipped between the two of us, alternating so that, had we been keeping track, only a small number of chips would have been continually exchanged. I started considering how to broach the topic of my offer the night before. He acted as if it never happened, neither instructing me to stop, nor acting passively aggressive out of anger or annoyance. He was just being Sanzo.

No particular introductory phrase or witty joke came to mind, and I was almost resolved to let the matter lie, when I exchanged a single card in the hope of an inside straight. I didn't get the five, but rather the king of hearts. It wouldn't help my hand much, but it gave me a sudden bolt of courage, jarring my tongue so that the words almost tumbled out too messily to be useful.

"So did you—think…on what I mentioned, last night?"

"What?" He asked blankly, laying out his hand, three fives—that's where they all were—and waiting for me to reveal my own. I forgot I was holding them.

"What do you mean 'what'? Don't pretend you don't know, or that you can't remember anything that happened. Sanzo—I meant what I said. And I wanna know how you feel. That you didn't put a bullet between my eyes is sending me a message."

"Do you want me to correct that?" He growled, snatching at the drawer handle where his pistol lay. I grasped his wrist, gently, and drew his hand back. Dry lips brushed the back of an ivory hand.

"No. I want you to clarify. Tell me if you want it. What you want," I corrected, doing my best to avoid giving him the sensation of being cornered.

After a long silence, I stood, frustration building. "Why the hell don't you trust me, huh?" I demanded angrily, fists clenching out of habit. "I've saved your ass in battle plenty of times, and you've guarded mine. You know I'm the one who carried you back here, put you in the bed?" The details, or perhaps a feeling of debt, made his complexion darken further. "Why the hell can't you just let me in a little? I'm not asking you to marry me, idiot, I just want you to give me something! Some kinda hint—let me know, once in a while, what's going on in that head of yours."  I hadn't realized until it was too late that I had served the first insult in what would quickly become a serious game of verbal ping-pong.

Sanzo rallied, pushing himself up, but not rising from the bed, to my surprise. "You're pushing too fast," He grated, jaw clenched tight enough to crack a bullet. "Maybe I'm not as desperate for a fuck as you are." His retaliation stung; it was acknowledged that I wanted sex—a lot, even—but that he thought that was my only reason for pursuing him made even my insides flush in resentment.

I let out a growl of indignation, fist slamming neatly against the wall with a solid clunk; I didn't feel the pain, and wouldn't, until the next morning. "What the hell is wrong with you! I told you, it's not about that! It's about you letting me, about trusting me!"

"It came out of nowhere! Why the fuck should I just start pouring out the contents of my head for your amusement? Why should I trust you?"

"Because I love you dammit!"

And there it was. Out in the open. I hadn't been planning on saying it, or working up towards it anytime soon. I thought "like" was a strong enough word for the present.

There was a long stretch of silence between us, settling gradually like a shroud. It felt like hours. Finally, Sanzo managed shakily, "What?"

"I…--look I just want you to trust--"

"No. Say it again. What you just said."

"For a moment it stuck in my throat, too heavy, too significant a word, to come out. "I—I love you." My face has never flamed like that since.

"You don't know what you love." Sanzo dismissed me with a sigh, turning over on the bed and ashing his cigarette against the side of a clear glass tray. "Turn out the lights; I'm going to bed."

That was the last response I had expected.

"No. No way in hell—I just said I love you, and I deserve a response!" A part of me withered in regret; he didn't trust me enough to even explain why it was he couldn't love me back.

"I don't owe you anything," Sanzo hissed back, more defensive than he otherwise might have been, given his wounded condition, and the circumstances surrounding it.

"I think you do," I growled back, anger and some degree of humiliation giving me courage. "You could at least trust me enough to look at your wounds!" I muttered, snatching at the sheets and taking him by surprise. "You know I helped put you back…together." I breathed, dropping the sheets from where I had torn them off of the bed. Sanzo's chest and left thigh were covered in bandages, and nothing more. No wonder he had been so touchy about it, I thought somewhere in the back of my head.

But shit he was gorgeous, sitting up against the headboard with his legs nudged apart, all wiry muscle encased in scarred, veined marble. I noticed his chest turn pink as the outraged blush spread from his face down his throat and torso.

"Sorry…" I whispered, not sorry at all, and, without thinking, my body lunged forward, a knee digging into the mattress at Sanzo's side as I leaned over him arms set to tangle about his shoulders, fingers in his hair, my head tilted to the side. But his eyes made me stop. Widened to an unnatural degree, I watched the dilated pupils twitch. I knew that expression; I'd seen it in countless faces, sometimes even my own, but not his. Panic.

 "Sanzo…"

He seemed frozen for a moment, and my hand hovered over his cheek, the other near his temple, a hair's breadth from the fringe of his mane. He was afraid? Of me? It didn't seem like Sanzo at all to have fear, much less show it. And of me? My insides twisted with the insult.

"Gods…Sanzo…" and I was hovering, using every ounce of self control to hold back as he steadied himself on the inside, scrambling for reasonable purchase against what appeared to be a deluge of indecision and uncertainty. "You gotta understand, I don't want to see you hurting. I just want you to let me in."

"I carry--"

"Nothing." I smiled faintly. "I know. But I was thinking, maybe you could let me carry you?"

With this suggestion, I nudged my face forward shakily, lips brushing against his with moth-like delicacy. I was afraid he would flee, the way his heart was thudding madly in his chest, eyes almost black in their dark observance. His fists clenched at his sides, tendons tight as a bow string all around. I met his gaze with my own, and dark, callused hands cupped his face like the most delicate of porcelains, smoothing backwards into a tangle of silky hair. I felt it immediately; the tension snapped between us, like a damn breaking, and Sanzo sighed, as if in relief, as he let me pour over him like water.

His back arced, and I rose to my knees; trembling hands slid down my chest, between the folds of my shirt, stroking naked skin as I coaxed a response from his lips. I could tell he'd never been kissed before, though not for any lack of technique. He was rather natural at it, but the way he moved against me, uncertain of where to rest his hands, how to tilt his head and let me lead, told me this was entirely foreign territory. I wasn't exactly a native myself; I kissed, yes, but passion of this intensity was not easily attained.

I smoothed my hand along his nape, and down the expanse of his back, fingers tracing the little knobs of his spine. He arched into each caress, breath catching in his throat when my tongue slid cautiously along the seam of his perfect mouth.

A moment's pause, and he opened his lips for me, vibrating against my tongue in a low-throated moan. Buttons popped on my shirt as he pushed it open, sliding it down my arms very slowly, trying to concentrate on the kiss. It was endearing, to see him put so much effort into something he clearly enjoyed; I cradled his head in response, tongue delving into warm heat. He tasted of nicotine, the tart Marlboros he smoked so much, and very faintly, cinnamon.

A quick, panting gasp for air separated us, and before either could still his whirling thoughts, we were entangled in one another again, Sanzo's arms locked about my neck this time, and mine around his waist. Suddenly I realized I could smell him; a sweet, musky odor beneath the clean scent of soap tormented my youkai half. I found myself wanting to bury my nose against the source, lave my tongue over the damp flesh rising between his thighs. He didn't seem to detect it, being so preoccupied with my mouth, and the way my hair slid through his hands.

When we drew apart for a second breath, chests heaving; he took notice and turned a darker shade of red. One hand reached for sheets that were still crumpled on the floor, out of reach, and I quickly handed them over, afraid that more might become too much.

"You okay?" My voice was husky, rasping against my throat.

He nodded, covering himself. I could see the sheets dampen where they settled against his lower half, and he bit back a small sound of delight at the sensation.

"I'll…just…give you a minute," I murmured, resisting all urges to touch and taste further. He was still shaking, and I didn't want to lose him.

The hall was infinitely cooler, and I leaned into the wall near the laundry nook, looking down at the shallow nail marks on my chest that the monk had made when I'd startled him with my tongue. A wide grin spread over my mouth; a mixture of relief and intense desire flooded my insides. He kissed me back. He let me touch him, while he was vulnerable.

My senses sang in elation, and I waltzed back into the bedroom after a good ten minutes, just as Sanzo was coming out of the adjoining bath, his jeans half-buttoned and clinging low to his hips.

"Hey…" I smiled almost bashfully—and here I'd thought I'd forgotten how to do that—and stuffed my hands into my back pockets, feeling like some awkward teenager after his first kiss. How did the damn monk manage to reduce me to his level of experience with a single kiss?

He was a little pale, and just as I was thinking that the strain of standing up for so long, and while being involved in rather…demanding…activity might have upset his wounds, he stumbled on his way back to the bed. I caught him just in time; a belated tension washed over my body.

"You okay?"

"Fine." He pushed himself up and slid into the bed, chest rising and falling steadily. He didn't ask me to turn off the lights, so I sat.

Eventually, I asked, "Hey, how about that dinner now?"

 

Night Seven

 

I smirked around a Hi-Lite, nodding my thanks to Hakkai, who had broken some personal code of honor by indulging one of my "nasty habits." He asked me how I had managed to get Sanzo to eat the entire dinner, and I shrugged it off.

"Just hadta get him to open his mouth is all."

Hakkai looked confused, and I held back laughter.

"Hey how's Sanzo doing?" Goku met us in the small lobby, where we were eating breakfast. Sanzo was still asleep, and Hakkai must have gone in while I was in the shower to work on his wounds. It was easiest when he slept, so he wouldn't complain about it.

"He's much better," Hakkai smiled. "His wounds are healing nicely; Gojyo, you've done a very good job of keeping them clean. His bandages did come a bit unraveled—does he toss in his sleep because of fever?"

"You could say that."

Hakkai shot me a curious glance, but Goku interrupted. "So he's gonna be okay? When will he be all better?"

"Well I'd give it another two to three weeks, though he should be fit to travel, if he continues healing at this pace, within nine to ten days."

"He heals like a youkai," Goku marveled, and I reminded him that it had been Hakkai's energy that promoted such a speedy recovery.

"Yeah Hakkai's real good at that," he said around a mouthful of English muffin.

"He's gonna want to leave the minute he wakes up you know," I mused aloud. "How do you plan to stop him?"

"Stop Sanzo? I wouldn't dream of it. I just hope he has sense enough not to try to ride until at least another ten days have passed. Before that it would be very dangerous, and painful besides."

"Well you know our little masochist."

"I thought Sanzo was Buddhist," Goku interrupted, earning an indulgent smile and short explanation from Hakkai. I drifted in and out, watching the foggy light pour in through the window, and thinking about the night before.

I had kissed Sanzo. It had taken guts, a whole lot of courage, and a bit of liquor besides, to get me that far. But what left me shell-shocked was that he kissed me back. I played the scene over and over in my mind, testing it from different angles, wondering if Hakkai had given him some sort of medication, or if he had somehow managed to snag a drink of vodka. It didn't seem likely, and even if he had, I don't think he would ever let it affect him on such a level.

And it hadn't been just a kiss, either. He'd let me touch him, his hair, his back and sides. And he's responded in kind. I still had to sew the top two buttons back onto my shirt, come to think of it. Or have Hakkai do it.

"…do you think?"

"What?"

"Ditzing much, kappa?" Goku snickered, and Hakkai politely repeated his question.

"Sanzo has sense enough to wait if I so advise him, don't you think?"

"Enough sense, but not enough patience. You forget who we're dealing with." I rose, taking a last sip of coffee before going to the door. "I'm going out. I'll be back by nighttime, to watch him."

"Hey!" Goku barked. "Bring me back some candy!"

 

I returned a little after nine, feeling guilty for having kept Hakkai penned in, probably missing his dinner. A small boxed meal in hand, and hard candy for the ape, I tapped at the bedroom door. "Sorry I'm late. Got into a game at the bar, and I didn't even notice the time." I saw Sanzo blush faintly as I stepped over the threshold; Hakkai had been working on his wounds, but he drew the sheets farther up over him in modesty.

"I'm guessin' you brought Baldy something from the lobby?" I asked Hakkai, hoping Sanzo had eaten that night.

"Yes. I've already eaten too, actually." But he was smiling at my afterthought, and accepted the package, assuring me Goku would probably still be hungry.

"Well I'm rather tired, and I think I'll go to bed now, if you can stay?"

"A'course," I shrugged, tossing Sanzo a grin. "I'll watch after our little monk."

"Piss off." Sanzo grumbled irritably, but shut up the instant I slipped him a pack of Marlboros under the bed sheets. Hakkai waved goodnight and vanished. I lent Sanzo my lighter.

We sat in awkward silence for a moment, both smoking; our hands met at the ash tray, stabbing out half-finished cigarettes in unison. I edged my chair a little closer to his bed.

"So how're the wounds?" I shifted, the fronts of my knees grazing the mattress.
"Fine."
Hesitantly, "You need anything?"
"No."
"Want me to look at your wounds again?"

He shot me a strange glare, though it softened when I hastened to explain. "Just to make sure they're okay 'n all. I know I'm not a healer like Hakkai, but I've done my fair share of stitching."

Sanzo grunted his assent and nudged the covers back, never letting them slip below his waist, though I knew he wore jeans this time.

I peeled back the bandage on his stomach, wincing at the sight, though I was pleased to find it still uninfected. Of course Hakkai would have made sure of that. Clipping it back with the narrow safety pin left over the thick material, I was startled to find Sanzo's hand pinning mine to the fringe of the wrappings, so that my fingertips rested against his skin.

Glancing up in question, I found a piercing pair of amethystine navettes focused on my profile. His grip tightened incrementally, and drew my hand gradually up his chest, pressing it to rest at the center of his collar bone. I got the hint.

Abandoning my chair, the mattress squeaked under our combined weight, giving way as I stretched out beside Sanzo, mouth brushing over his.

I was afraid to speak, as if that might shatter the fragile tension of the moment. I didn't want Sanzo think it was a mistake, and turn me away. To think I was a mistake.

And then he kissed me.

It was a novice kiss, a bit sloppy, very needy, and absolutely perfect. His hands were in my hair, on my back, pulling me closer with these irresistible little grunts of pleasure and effort. I managed to slip a leg over his uninjured thigh, wanting to lie flush against him, but knowing better. He was still healing.

Hands smoothing over his skin made him hot, and I abused the advantage, laving my tongue over fevered, flushed skin in the way of feather light brushes. He writhed, drawing me closer and snatching at my hands, pushing them down against him with little moans of satisfaction that translated into the most erotic sounds I've ever heard anyone produce. The intensity of the shock doubled when I reminded myself that it was Sanzo making those noises—our snobby, spitfire, tight ass priest. The latter thought made my loins ache in anticipation, though it was hardly fair to assume Sanzo wanted what I was already considering.

"Sanzo…" I gasped his name when we drew apart, hips working against the muscle of his thigh so that he knew exactly what he was capable of doing to me. The influence he wielded must have been a turn on in itself, because he kicked the covers back in an instant, nudging the button of his denims open. I tried not to drool and ruin the effect perspiration had on slick, bronze skin.

It was with this thought that I stripped from my shirt and fumbled with my wide belt, jerking the buckle open and slipping out of the baggy pants to press the muscled, naked length of my legs against him.

Breath caught in his throat; he let an arm rest over his head, fingers toying with his own silky hair for a brief moment as he looked me over with interest. I had gone without underwear, not for the day, but for the sake of easy access later this evening. Not that I expected this—but rather thoughts of this, that would cause other issues to arise (double entendre totally intended) later.

But here he was, this gorgeous, renegade holy man who I thought hated my guts, writhing at my touch and pulling me down over him, kissing me without pause, drinking from my mouth.

I groaned as I was forced to draw back (before him, notably) for air. "Are you—have you…?"

"Kissed?" He filled in, and I shrugged.

"Yeah, that and…everything else."

"I've fucked," he answered briefly, the admittance drawing a wide pink line over his cheeks and nose. I kissed a trail across it.

"But not kissed?"

"No." He answered, drawing me back to touch him, my mouth to his. No wonder, I thought, he was so turned on by such a simplicity. I couldn't imagine who he had been with, or how it had happened, but whoever it had been didn't deserve him. Not if they couldn't even bother with foreplay. He was clearly fond of it, and his body responded like a virgin's.

"Do you like it?" I asked, a small smile pulling at my lips.

"What the hell do you think? Now shut up," the monk growled at me, thin lips swollen, bruised from a bite, as he jerked me by my antennae back onto him. Strong arms about my neck, hand sliding down my naked back, and I remained.

"Do you want more?" I whispered, feeling him pause, nails briefly skimming my spine.

"Yes."

I obliged, gently drawing his jeans down, my eyes never leaving the junction of his thighs. Sanzo snorted in laughter, though perhaps partially to cover his own embarrassment—he was blushing brightly beneath his ivory exterior—at the way my tongue swiped over my lower lip in anticipation. I couldn't quite help myself; bending forward, before Sanzo could tell me no, I flicked my tongue over his tip, groaning softly at the taste.

The reaction was instantaneous; he jerked his hips up with a cry, fist going to his mouth in surprise, biting down over his knuckles as a harsh breath hissed out between damp lips and clenched teeth.

"Good?" I teased, fingertips tracing his arousal and my own. "Tell me how you want it, Sanzo. I'll do anything you want."

"Just do it." I thought that was rather unromantic, but not surprising. Fumbling for my pants on the floor, I plucked a thin tube from the deep front pocket, dousing myself in the faintly scented oil—Hakkai would never miss it; he had plenty—and spending too much time in the process. The monk lying before me growled his impatience, though it was evident he was appreciating the view.

"You sure?"

"I said do it, didn't I?"

"Bossy," I whistled, smirking to him and leaning close for another kiss. "Kinda hurts at first."

"I'm aware, baka." And then, after a pause, "Go slow."

"I'll be gentle," I swore, hands stroking his arms and chest, fingertips flicking at the sensitive, dusky rose of his nipples. Nearly inaudible breaths of appreciation floated on the air just above us, giving the gasps and pants between us a sharp, staccato undertone.

I spent a good while stroking the sensitive, tense place between his thighs, teasing the slicked opening with a fingertip, then two, until I felt the tension gradually ebb from his body at a steady, scissoring motion. He was writhing in a way I never imagined, hips bucking into mine, neck arching to push a flushed chest upwards in a neat arc. Even my own fantasies hadn't been this good.

"You have no idea how fucking sexy you look doing that," I purred, laving a hot tongue across peaked nipples. He whimpered. Sanzo whimpered. That shot a bolt of heat straight to my groin, and I finished with the preliminaries in an instant, mouthing him and panting against his ear, "Okay?"

A quick nod, and I found myself buried between hot, wet velvet walls, groaning and growling like an animal against his chest. He was tighter than a vice, clenching fiercely about me and stabbing at my back with blunt nails as he scrambled for purchase. Heels slid against the mattress as he wriggled beneath me, chest heaving with great effort. I noted the tense, pained expression on his face, and thought perhaps I had moved too swiftly. He looked hurt, but he'd never admit to it.

"Y'okay?" My thighs trembled in attempt to still my hips; the muscles of my arms strained, and I pushed damp hair back from a glistening face, kissing his temple and jaw line with a low purr. "Baby you gotta relax…" I palmed him a bit, fingernail pressing at his slit, and he twitched in a cry, the combined sensations too much.

"Gojyo…" He was adjusting now, finally, and I twitched inside of him.

"Yeah?"

"Don't call me baby."

"You got it, angel."

Before he could open his mouth in further protest, I withdrew, and pressed back into him, moaning through clenched teeth at the pure sensation suddenly setting my veins aflame. I must have hit that special sweet spot, because Sanzo opened like a flower beneath me, suddenly responding to the minutest of touches.

He was glorious in the heat of it, head flung back so that fair hair scattered over the pillow; his amethyst eyes, half-lidded with pleasure, were glazed in a frosty violet. His lean chest and stomach heaved in sharp breaths, managing only breathless moans and strangled, choked back cries of gratification as he struggled to keep the pace. I couldn't take my eyes off of that rose-tinted ivory, sweat-slicked and scar-studded, a life-like masterpiece who had consented to share his bed for the night. I was grateful.

Any sentiment I might have had was quickly torn away by Sanzo's knowing growl; he yanked viciously at my hair in wordless warning. Grinning to him, I offered to make up for the slip with more appropriate, casual bedroom banter because I couldn't change the way I looked at him.

"Oh fuck yeah," I gasped, slamming my hips into his again, careful to angle myself just so, that I might nudge the tight bundle of nerves that made the uptight monk lose control. He did. Multiple times, even, clinging to me and jerking at my hair with fierce demands for more. Sanzo didn't mind rough, and even seemed to appreciate it as he neared his climax, canting his hips forward to meet mine each time.

It appeared I was in control; I was on top, after all, teaching him how to properly make love, and able to set him off with a casual brush of my finger. But he had reserved some small part of himself for the sake of control that I had freely given; it was clear, to anyone between us, who was leading this dance. And I didn't mind one damn bit; Sanzo was a fantastic dancer, after all. 

His endurance was remarkable, for someone who wasn't sexually active anymore. That I knew of. He climaxed first, with impressively little stimulation on my part, and I followed suite, matching his muffled moans with a sharp cry: his name.

Creaking beneath us, the mattress finally settled as I slid off to the side, drawing Sanzo close for a lingering kiss. He permitted it at first, a palm resting on my cheek, then my arm as he drew away.

He didn't go very far, only moved to catch his breath, and a breeze from the cracked window near the bed. Pushing it open farther, he sighed into the midnight air, glancing down at his bandages, some loosened or dampened by our activity.

"You okay?"

"Fine."

I wasn't in the habit of asking my lovers whether it was good or not, but I felt strangely compelled to do so with Sanzo, despite the evidence slicking my stomach. I bit my lip, knowing he wouldn't appreciate that particular dose of idiocy this evening, and kissed his nape instead, silencing myself.

"Mnng…still warm."

Sanzo made a quiet sound of agreement.

"Stay here." Sliding from the mattress with regret—I could still smell the thick musk between us, and my body was immediately interested—I strode to the small bathroom, dampening a washcloth to wipe both of us down. The monk seemed to appreciate it, one arm resting on the pillow above his head, the other straight at his side. Fingertips brushed my elbow as I lay back, a thin sheet floating down atop us.

"C'mere." With a gesture, he obliged, letting me wrap my arms about him in sleep, kissing his forehead and temples until I felt his breathing steady, and his body slacken in my grip.

 

Morning

 

Sanzo was gone from the bed by the time I woke up, though his scent still lingered. I heard a sharp knock rattle my door, and the priest's stern voice, "Five minutes, kappa!"

That we were leaving wasn't such a surprise—he was a stubborn bastard, after all. And he had managed sex without breaking anything open last night, so he was surely fit to ride. Hakkai put up his token protests, and Goku bitched about missing breakfast, but no one really attempted to forestall the monk. Everyone knew he would get what he wanted in the end anyways.

After lengthy persuasion, Hakkai bought Goku a ten minute breakfast, and endeavored to feed Hakuryu at the same time. I found Sanzo smoking out on the veranda, the new pack I had bought him. He barely glanced up at me, but nodded his equivalent of good morning. I grunted my response, leaning into the wall beside him and snapping my lighter beneath a Hi-Lite.

So did this mean nothing had changed? Would we do that again? Could we? I had to find out, and asking him point blank wouldn't get me anywhere. He'd call me an idiot at best, and ignore me. Sanzo was a man of few words; his actions revealed more.

So I posed my question in his language, and drew an arm about that narrow waist until I could feel his chest close to mine. The kiss was swift, so that he had no time to deflect it, and I could taste the smoky Marlboros on his lips, and behind them, a damp sweetness like honey that made me think of that tea he drinks.

To my great shock, the hand rising to press against my breast halted at a gentle touch, not pushing me backwards (and through the veranda railing as I expected) but rather stroking me through the thin fabric of my shirt. His left hand found my hair, and shortly I had him up against the wall, mouthing those perfect lips with little grunts of appreciation. He was affectionate in return, obliging me with a tilt of his head and slight part of his mouth.

The screen door to the lobby rattled, and Sanzo's fists were on my chest before I could even draw a breath. We were separated, but the faint blush on Hakkai's face told me he had already seen enough. The walk indoors was awkward, and Hakkai turned to us, appearing uncertain of what to say. He stuttered out an apology, right hand adjusting his monocle, and all the while managed to appear smug about it, as if he had figured out our secret, rather than stumbled upon it.

"I'm sorry to have…ah…interrupted. Should I give Goku another ten minutes for breakfast, then?"

Sanzo, walking towards the stairs to the second floor, flicked his hand subtly in a gesture he knew I would not miss. "Better make it twenty."   

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