Title: Trouble Wears Heels
Words: About 9,400
Warnings: AU, violence, a bit of gory detail that many might find disturbing
Summary: "I'm sitting at my table in my skivvies. Hakkai's playing doctor. It's hard to believe that we only met twenty-four hours ago."
Disclaimer: Saiyuki characters are the property of
Minekura Kazuya. I make no profit from
Author's notes: Written for Nouvellebrielle on the occasion of her
Also, my deepest thanks to Jedishampoo and Sharpeslass for their beta help. I touched the story last, however, so all remaining mistakes are mine.
Email: samsarapine [at] yahoo [dot] com
Trouble Wears Heels
I'm sitting at my table in my skivvies. Hakkai's playing doctor.
"Tshhit," I hiss. "Watch it."
"Sorry," Hakkai says. He keeps working on the fucking bullet hole in my shoulder.
It's hard to believe that we only met twenty-four hours ago.
I make it my business not to get in anyone else's, to play it cool. So the first night that I'd heard high heels clicking across the floor in the rooms above mine, and a little later I'd heard a man's tread, I ignored it, put on my coat, and went to the bar to hustle enough pool to buy some cheap whiskey and a newspaper and read about the war.
No. I'm not a soldier. And it's none of your fucking business why.
My life revolves around the pool halls, the gambling joints, cheap booze, cheap women, and bad coffee. Twenty-two years I've been on this rock, and likely to keep going another forty if drink or smokes or an angry mark doesn't kill me first.
I live in a boarding house that's one step up from a dive and five steps down from respectable. Besides me, there's the old puss on the ground floor who makes a living telling fortunes and ranting about past lives, while a bald guy with long moustaches lives on the floor below me. He and the lady on the first floor are in each other's back pockets, as in, 'he's under her thumb like a tack.' Across the hall from me is another guy, a redhead like me. We call him 'Prince' because he never leaves his rooms unless he's wearing a suit that was probably spiffy ten years ago but now has cuffs so over-sewn that he's taken to stuffing his hands in his pockets. Prince has a sometimes-friend, a big guy with eyes that remind me of my mother's, though the look in them is less 'homicidal hatred' and a little more 'cool but friendly stranger.' They never say anything and I never ask, but they're quiet, so no harm, no foul.
And then there's upstairs.
They're the new kids on the block; they just moved in about a month ago. Every once in a while I'd see one or the other on the street or in the hall, and we'd nod and go our ways. They could have been twins from what I could see, so I suspected that they were related, but my gut and my sense of self-preservation told me to ignore it, so I did. They looked like once upon a time they might have come from a better class of people than most of the rest of us here. Real polite, quiet, the kind that wouldn't look out of place sitting at the opera if they had the green for it. The kind that, if they go bad, might get caught skimming the books or playing a shell game with the goods.
Not murder, though. I had 'em pegged.
She was almost painfully shy, hardly ever coming out of the rooms that I saw, though me being asleep while most other folks are awake and vice versa may have had something to do with that. Once she was coming in while I was going out and I held the door for her. She dropped her purse fumbling for her key, so I picked it up and gave it back. She thanked me, blushing. For all her lowered eyes, though, her voice was the kind that a guy wouldn't mind hearing first thing when he woke up in the morning.
is why I couldn't have been more the hell surprised last night when I put on my
coat to head out to the pool joint and opened the door and found her leaning
against the wall just outside, wearing a classy black velvet evening gown, one
hand clutched to her bloodstained coat and a pistol dangling from the
other. Her hair dipped and swept over
her eye, just like
She smiled, polite and apologetic. "I'm sorry to have disturbed you."
Then she fainted.
I got her into the bedroom and stowed the gun in the nightstand, just in case. I'd just started to take off her bloody coat when those long lashes started fluttering and opened.
I found myself staring into the biggest pair of emerald green eyes I'd ever seen. My heart started pounding like a jazz drummer's beat and I felt my dick take an interest.
Stupid. Not over a dame, I told myself. Not over anybody. I shrugged it off best as I could and lifted her a bit more. "I'm trying to get this coat off you, sweetheart. Could you shift a little?"
She sat up in the bed, shaky enough that I kept an arm around her, and just kept staring at me with those gorgeous eyes. I saw that there was a rip in the velvet and the area around her stomach was soaked with blood.
I swore and tried to figure out a way to keep her from dying if it was as bad as it looked, or to save what was obviously an expensive dress if it wasn't.
"The blood isn't all mine," she said, her voice deep and sexy.
"That means some of it is," I replied. "We need to get that dress off so I can see how bad it really is."
"You can cut it off. I don't need it anymore."
"Kanny down on the first floor might be able to save it. She's good with sewing."
"No. I won't wear it, ever again."
Something in her voice convinced me, and I got out the scissors. "Where's your brother?" I asked, starting to cut open the front of the dress and trying not to be fresh about it.
She paled and looked away. "He's… he's not here right now," she said.
"Look, I'm going to leave the top bit for you," I tried to reassure her. "And by the way, the name's Gojyo."
"Gojyo." I'd never heard my name spoken so quietly; usually people shout or sneer it. "I killed a man tonight."
I froze a second, then peeled back the pieces of dress to expose a white stomach stained red. "Should I be worried?"
She blinked and then a slow smile crossed her face. "No." She closed her eyes and started to laugh. "No, you don't need to be worried."
Someone suddenly started pounding on the front door. "Police! Open up!"
Her eyes popped open. We stared at each other, my thoughts racing like a Thoroughbred.
"I don't want to get you into trouble," she said. "I'll turn myself in."
I shook my head and toed off my shoes, kicking them under the bed. "Turn around," I said, starting to unbutton my shirt. "No reason to offend your delicate sensibilities."
She laughed again, sounding a little hysterical. "Ahaha! Sensibilities? I just murdered a man."
"Yeah, well, leave me some pride, then," I said. "Now pull the blankets up and keep quiet." I risked a glance at her. "Sorry about your reputation. But it's only the cops. The rest of us could give a rat's ass."
She stared at me for a moment with those big, jewel-green eyes. "Thank you, Gojyo," she said in a funny, breathy voice, and pulled the blankets up.
My coat and shirt were all over blood, so I stripped them off along with my undershirt, wiped my hands on them and kicked them under the bed, too. Then I slipped out of the bedroom and closed the door behind me, giving the place the once-over to make sure that there wasn't a neon trail of blood leading through the room. My trench had protected my trousers, thank Christ. I took a deep breath and put on my poker face.
The pounding got louder. "Open up!"
"I'm coming!" I yanked the door open, pulling my suspenders over my bare shoulders to make it look like I'd just been putting on my trousers. "What is it? I'm trying to sleep in here."
"Have you seen a young lady tonight? We have a witness who saw her enter the building."
I bluff with the best. "The only young lady I've seen tonight is waiting for me in there," I said, motioning with my head and glaring. "I hate to let her get cold, if you catch my drift."
"She been with you long?" the cop asked, all suspicious-like, though his neck and ears started burning red.
"Not long enough." I gave him the eye.
The blush spread to his cheeks as well. "Just keep it down, smart-ass," he said, stepping back.
"I think the young lady might prefer if I keep it up," I retorted.
Before the flatfoot could say anything else, I closed the door and bolted it, then pressed my ear to the wood. I listened as another cop came up the stairs. The two talked for a second and then pounded on the Prince's door. The Prince was out, so they got no glory from that and headed down the hall.
I heard them doing the same upstairs, then it got quiet. I padded across the room and pushed back the cheap curtains just enough to see the two cops leave the building and head down the street. There was a flash of white hair under a streetlight and the cops stopped to talk with a guy who pointed to our building. I recognized him: he was the priest from the derelict church down the street, a creepy, smarmy fellow who made sure that you knew just how much better he was than you, and who preached every Sunday about the demons of drink and sex to people who'd wandered into the church to sleep off the effects of both. Grouse, his name was.
He should have been called Pigeon.
He and the cops walked away, towards the church. Another movement in the shadows of the street caught my eye, so I pushed the curtain back a little further.
A man in a fedora and trench coat stepped out of the shadows and lit a cigarette. Then he looked straight up at me. Just before I dropped the curtains, I had the impression of a sharp glare, like I'd pissed the guy off or something.
Cursing, I ran some hot water into a washbasin and grabbed some old towels before I went back into the bedroom.
She was curled under the blankets, facing the door, blinking up at me while I pulled the chair next to the bed and put the basin and towels on it.
"Did you hear them?"
She nodded. "You were quite adept with the truth."
I snorted and shook my head. "Practice."
She shifted in the bed and winced.
"Sorry for being so familiar, darlin'," I said and pulled back the covers. "But I need to take a look."
She had a long, shallow gash across her right side. It was bloody, but didn't look deep. I dipped a towel into the water. "This might hurt some."
She nodded and closed her eyes, lying back on the pillow, biting her lower lip as I started to clean her up.
There was a lot more blood than should have come from the shallow wound snaking across her skin. It really wasn't much more than a deep scratch; it might scar a bit, but it didn't need stitches. I pulled the towel back, and brushed against something cold and slimy.
A bloody hand suddenly gripped my wrist, but I'd already pulled the thing from where she'd been trying to hide it. I swallowed hard, then carefully wrapped the heart in a towel and set it aside.
She studied my face, her grip not loosening. It was amazingly powerful for such a slender woman. "I told you the blood wasn't all mine," she said quietly.
"None of my business," I replied, keeping my voice steady. "I've got to bandage that," I added, nodding my head towards her middle.
"Sweetheart, I can't do that unless you let me go." I tugged gently.
"Oh." She released me and glanced at the lump in the towel before turning back to me. She lay quietly while I wiped the wound with some of the black-market Zephiran that was floating around, snagged by shysters making a profit from green kids in khaki. "You're quite an extraordinary man."
"I've always had a weak spot for a pretty face." I taped some gauze over the wound. "That should do it. I'll get you some aspirin for the pain, then you'd better get some sleep. It's getting late."
"He raped and murdered my sister," she said out of the blue. The hatred in her voice made my skin crawl; I glanced at the towel and its lump, too.
"I won't get rid of it. I promise."
"Thank you, Gojyo."
By the time I got back with the aspirin and a glass of water, she was asleep. I left the pills and water on the nightstand beside her, picked up the towel with its grisly contents and left the room, turning off the light and shutting the door behind me. I put the heart in the icebox, towel and all, and poured myself a whiskey, throwing the first one back before I poured a second and took it over to the beat-up wingback chair.
Shit. I sat down heavily, sloshing the booze. I put the glass on the end table and rubbed my face, too drained to even roll a cigarette.
Bloodthirsty little vixen. I thought of my family. Would I have ever killed someone in revenge like she had?
It didn't say much for me that I didn't think so. I'd never had anyone like that, anyone I loved. Banri was probably the closest, and I'd known from the start that bastard wasn't any good. No, I wouldn't have cut out a guy's heart, not for Banri.
I drained the glass and shoved it aside before I reached for the ragged afghan hanging on the back of the chair. It wouldn't be very comfortable, but I'd slept in worse places in my life. I wedged myself into the chair, draped the afghan around my shoulders, and closed my eyes.
It occurred to me just as I nodded off that I still didn't even know her name.
The smell of coffee woke me up.
Getting out of the chair was like trying to leave an iron maiden. My muscles were stiff and shrill when I moved, so I took it slow.
I heard a footstep and looked up. She was wearing my ratty bathrobe, one arm clutched across her chest while she held out a cup of coffee.
"Thanks." I took it from her and took a couple of gulps, feeling the heat run through me and loosening up the tight spots. I looked up. "It's good. Thanks."
She smiled, both arms clutched over her chest. "May I wash up?"
"Sure," I said, nodding towards the sink.
"Perhaps I could get a little privacy?"
Still half-asleep, it took me a second to figure out why. "Oh. Sorry. I'll just– " I waved towards the bedroom.
I paused in the kitchenette to pour myself some more coffee, then went into the bedroom and closed the door. I pulled together clothes for the day, thinking that I'd wash up after she was done, when my bladder started cussing me out.
Shit. I'd missed my morning piss. I tried ignoring it, but my insides were insistent, so I finally put my hand over my eyes, opened my bedroom door, and dashed past the kitchenette to the can.
"Sorry, I'm not loo–" I pushed open the door and ran into someone. I couldn't help it; I opened my eyes.
She was standing at the john, pissing.
Standing. While pissing.
With a dick.
Speechless, I backed out of the bathroom and closed the door, leaning against it with my eyes closed. "I didn't see what I thought I just saw," I muttered.
I didn't believe me.
"Fuck." I pulled a chair out from the table and slumped into it, waiting.
He came out a few moments later, still in my ratty robe, and went to the sink to wash his hands.
"What's going on?"
"I'm sorry for deceiving you," he said, his back to me.
"Fine. Apology accepted. Now what the hell's going on?"
He turned around and leaned against the sink, his eyes meeting mine. "Everything I told you last night was true."
"So, your sister was raped and killed by a guy, and you turned around and dressed up like a girl and killed him and cut out his heart."
"Essentially, yes. May I sit?"
"What's your name?"
"Hakkai Cho. My grandfather was Chinese. My mother never married," he explained, probably because I was looking at him like he was crazy.
He was crazy.
Shit. I needed more coffee.
"Look, Mr. Cho– "
"Sit down, for fuck's sake." I pushed his coffee cup over and got up to grab another one from the shelf as he took a seat at the other side of the table. "Pour and talk." I settled in to listen.
He poured us each fresh coffee, but instead of drinking his, he held his cup between his hands, staring into it.
"My sister and I grew up in separate orphanages," he said. "When we got out, we managed to find each other. I had a scholarship, but it wasn't enough to start school, so I found a job as an accountant; she found a job as a waitress. We found a little flat and moved in." He smiled, so sad it might have broken my heart if I had one. "It seemed like everything was going to be perfect."
"Sorry, but that's a fool's game." I pulled over my cigarette papers and tobacco, offering it to him. He shook his head, so I rolled a cigarette for myself and lit it while he kept talking.
"You may be right. Kanan came home from work one night a little over a month ago, upset. A man had come to the restaurant and had been very – lewd – with her." He looked up and seemed to be making some decision. "You don't appear shocked by that, but Kanan had lived a sheltered life, and I suppose I had, too. The next day, I went to her workplace with her, intending to speak to the man if he came back in. He did. With several bodyguards, all carrying guns."
I had a bad feeling about Hakkai's mystery guy. "Whose heart is it?"
"Fuck!" King Centipede was the biggest mob boss in the city, and at the center of an all-out mob war, if the papers were right. The past few weeks his guys had been turning up dead all over the city. "So you need a fall guy." I tried for cynical, but gave him bitter instead.
"No. Gojyo, no." He laid those pretty eyes on me, and, fool that I was, I was ready to believe him, no matter what my sense of self-preservation was screaming in the background. "I plan to turn myself in. I just need… I need time. There's one last thing I've got to do. You were the only person I could think of who might help me."
"Wait a second. You said that this guy came after your sister a month ago. So when was she killed? I mean, I saw her just the other day, when I was coming in—"
"That wasn't Kanan."
Suddenly it hit me like a sledgehammer. "She was dead before you moved in here, wasn't she?"
Shit. There were never two people upstairs. Just him. "Then why the hell did you think I'd help you? The most I ever did was to pick up your purse for you and hold the door open!"
"It's more than anyone else has ever done for me." He closed his eyes. "You're right, though. I hadn't thought it through. I don't want to place you in danger."
"It's dangerous crossing the street or sinking your last solid before the other guy." I took a risk. "Look, it's a good story. Maybe the police will believe it, even. But I know better. You said you're an accountant. For which mob?"
Hakkai looked up, a startled expression on his face. "I beg your pardon?"
"Which mob are you working for?"
"None of them. This truly is revenge for my sister's murder."
made no sense. "Then how the hell
did you get into King Centipede's hideout?
With the other mobs going after him, I figure he must have been sealed
up as tight as
"You saw how I got in. He thought – he thought I was Kanan's twin sister, coming to blackmail him. I knew he'd think that was amusing enough to let his guard down." Hakkai pushed his coffee cup away and folded his hands in front of him, looking down at them as if they were somebody else's. "And there is no mob war."
"You haven't been reading the papers lately, then. His boys have been getting picked off all over town the past month or so."
He raised his gaze to mine, the expression in his eyes sharp and bright. "There is no mob war," he repeated, in a voice as low and flat as death.
"That's insane." Who the fuck was this guy? "You mean to tell me, you're the one who's been killing off the King's gang?"
"Shit." I stood up and started to pace, running a hand through my hair. It was getting long. Banri's favorite saying came to mind: make sure you leave a pretty corpse. I barked out a sharp laugh. Yeah, I better stop at a barber's before they killed me.
I stopped in front of Hakkai. "You know how dead we are?"
"There's no one left to hurt us," Hakkai said. "I made sure of it."
"Who the fuck are you?"
His voice was quiet. "A brother. Mourning his sister."
"You're a fucking looney-tune!" I slumped into my chair and buried my head in my hands. "I've got fucking King Centipede's heart in my fucking icebox. Shit!"
He didn't say anything for a long time, while I tried to wrap my head around the deep shit I was in. I nearly forgot he was there until he spoke.
"Have you ever loved someone, Gojyo?"
I sighed. The guy might be nuts, but he seemed honest. "Maybe. Once. But probably not."
"Was she pretty?"
Ha. The bastard wasn't the only one who could pack a jolt. "No. He didn't have any eyebrows." I raised my head to watch his reaction.
"Oh." Hakkai looked surprised, but not disgusted. "Thank you," he added, looking back at me, his eyes thoughtful.
"For telling me the truth." He smiled a little. "I suppose it should shock me."
Hakkai shook his head slowly. "I'm sure you'll find him, someday. You've got a good heart, Gojyo."
I didn't know if he meant that good-for-nothing Banri or someone else, and I didn't ask, just nodded. Hakkai seemed to be just the sort of romantic fool who'd never understand that you couldn't find love if you don't know what it is.
"I loved her." A speculating look settled on his face: not like he was trying to pull one over on me, but like he wasn't sure if I could handle what he was about to say. "Like a lover."
Christ. The day was full of fucking surprises. "You got me beat there. Though the Bible-thumper down the street would tell us we're both going to Hell, so it's hard to say one's worse than the other."
Hakkai smiled. Damn, he was pretty when he did that. I couldn't help but grin back.
I suddenly remembered looking out the window the night before. "Speaking of the preacher-man, he was talking to the cops after they left last night. He pointed here, but the cops didn't come back. Do you know him?"
Hakkai shook his head. "Perhaps he's the person who told the police that he'd seen me come in here."
"What's your plan?"
He glanced at the front door, like it had the answers. "There's still something I have to do. Tonight."
I sighed. "Stay. At least for the day."
"Gojyo, I can't– "
"What's done is done," I interrupted. "It doesn't matter if you leave now or not. If they find out you were here, I'm in the slammer either way. Besides," I grinned, "you kept me from going out last night to hustle some pool. The least you can do is let me beat you at poker. I've gotta make rent, you know."
I spent the entire day smoking, drinking coffee, and being annoyed by Hakkai's knack for poker. I'm good – I've used it a few times to make some money, though pool's my real game – but he was better. And it's not just that he was better at bluffing. It seemed like the cards were in love with him, like all he had to do was to touch them with those slender fingers and undress them with his emerald eyes and they'd do whatever the hell he wanted them to do, just to keep his attention.
I threw down my losing hand. A full house, damn it.
He had a straight. And just to rub my nose in it, a fucking royal flush.
"You should go pro." I started sprinkling tobacco on a paper.
"Ahaha!" Hakkai gathered up the cards. "I'm afraid I've always had that kind of luck. Though it doesn't hurt to remember where the cards are," he added, his eyes wicked.
I nearly snorted the tobacco off the paper as I started to roll it. "Never let the guys in the gambling joints know that you watch the cards like that."
Hakkai sobered. "You're right, of course," he said, his voice quiet. "You lead a dangerous life, Gojyo."
I finished licking the paper and sealing the cigarette before I smirked. "Doesn't hold a candle to yours, cupcake." I lit the cigarette and let the sweet smoke do its work.
He glanced at the clock. It was , nearly the witching hour. "I should leave."
"I'm not stopping you." I blew out a stream of smoke. "But are you going out wearing my robe?"
"Haha. No, I suppose not." Hakkai looked at me and I sighed.
"Right. Raid the wardrobe."
He came out a few minutes later, wearing some of my old clothes. Funny. He wasn't much shorter than me, but because I'm all leg and shoulders, he still looked like a woman dressing in her husband's clothes, the trousers and sleeves cuffed neatly to a length that wouldn't get in his way. He was holding an older pair of my shoes in one hand.
"Do you have any newspaper? They're a bit big."
I couldn't help it. I started laughing. "There's one that's a couple of days old over there by the radio. Help yourself." I tucked my shirt into my trousers and pulled my suspenders up. By the time he was finished putting the shoes on, I had my suit jacket and hat on. I held a cap out to him. "None of my jackets will work on you, but maybe if you use this cap, people will think you're a dock-worker or something."
He put on the cap. "Why are you dressed to go out?"
"I'm coming with you."
"Gojyo, no. I can't let you put yourself in any more danger."
I patted down my pockets to make sure I had some money and a few smokes. "According to you, there aren't any mob guys left to make trouble."
"There are the police."
"The cops will be looking for a woman in a velvet dress. Ready?"
Hakkai stared at me a moment longer and then went to the icebox and took out a paper bag. "Yes."
I had no idea when he'd bagged up the towel, but obviously he'd been thinking ahead. So had I. I patted my pocket again, to make sure that the gun I'd taken from him last night was still there. Then I held the front door open and we left.
I wondered if I'd ever see my rooms again. Not the sentimental kind of wondering – the place was a pigsty – but the kind of fatalism that falls over a guy who's about to do something that will make or break him. It didn't help to know that the man walking so calmly by my side might be the one to do me in. There was something about him that let me know he was on a hair-trigger, and I had the feeling that when he snapped, he'd snap big time.
Though I supposed there were worse things than looking into those green eyes as I gasped my last breath.
Outside, the air was chilly enough to make me hunch my shoulders in my jacket, though Hakkai didn't seem to feel the cold at all. It was too late for the streetcars to be running and I didn't have the dough for a cab, so we walked, which warmed me up. I kept close to Hakkai, smoking and thinking.
He was as focused and intent as if I wasn't there.
Yeah, he was dangerous. Shit, yeah. And yeah, he was the kind of guy who would break hearts without even knowing it, mainly because I suspected his heart was locked up tighter than a debutante's knickers. But something about him made me trust him.
Funny, how things work out. There I was, walking beside probably the most dangerous man I'd ever known, someone I'd never even met until the day before, someone who was carrying somebody else's heart in a paper bag, and I trusted him. I'd walked beside Banri for years, a man who had taken me off the street and taught me how to hustle and showed me what it felt like to have a man's dick up my ass, someone who had picked me up when I was in the gutter and who would toss a cloth at me when I was puking my guts out after a bad bender, yet I'd never felt any trust whatsoever for him. There was just an empty "I told you so" that my head told my stupid, delusional heart after he left me to chase after a mobster doll with fur coats and diamonds and fucking huge knockers.
Of course, I'd known Banri was a bastard from the first time I'd seen him. I hadn't found out that Hakkai was a bastard until the morning after I'd put him to bed thinking he was a damsel in distress.
Ha. Hakkai wasn't any sort of damsel in distress. He was every kind of mixed-up crazy badness that haunted a guy's nightmares after he'd drunk too much. The fact that I felt comfortable around him let me know just how crazy mixed-up I was, too. I pulled out another cigarette and lit it, and grinned when Hakkai glanced over at me and smiled.
Yeah, I was fucked.
The further we went, the more the back of my neck started to itch. I glanced over my shoulder from time to time, but I didn't see anyone. The part of town we were walking through wasn't exactly the Champs-Elysées at the best of times; at , the streets were empty as a ghost town. But that didn't mean that the place itself was empty, and I knew that we were being watched from behind the broken glass and wood slats that covered what few windows there were in the derelict buildings we passed.
It wasn't until we reached the gates that I realized where Hakkai had led us. We were at the fucking pauper's graveyard.
Shit. This must be where they'd buried Hakkai's sister.
He glanced over at me and I nodded to let him know that I understood, and it was okay. He smiled, just a little one, then lifted the latch on the gates.
"Hold it. Hands up, nice and slow. If either of you moves, the redhead gets it."
I raised my hands. Hakkai did too, after a moment. I heard someone come up from behind and then a hand was patting down my clothes. The guy pulled the gun out of my pocket and cuffed my hands behind my back before he turned his attention to Hakkai.
"Put the bag down."
Hakkai stiffened. "No."
The guy suddenly shoved me and I fell on my ass. I looked up to see the barrel of a .38 Special shoved in my face. I caught my breath and glanced at the guy holding it.
It was the creep wearing the fedora from the night before. "He's been watching us," I said to Hakkai. "I saw him last night on the street."
"Sam Spode, FBI," the guy said. "Now put the bag down, or Red here gets it."
"A fucking G-man?" I stared at him in disbelief. "What's going on here?"
"I don't know," Hakkai said. "And I'm very sorry, Mr. Spode, but I'm not putting the bag down."
Spode eased the hammer back.
"There's nothing in the fucking bag that he can use as a weapon, all right?" I snapped.
"Gojyo is right," Hakkai said. "But it's very important." He hesitated, his tongue flickering across his lips. "I need to finish something. I won't harm anyone else, and I'll come in quietly and confess to everything I've done. Just, please, let me do this one last task."
I had a pretty good idea of what Hakkai was planning to do. "He means it," I said to Spode. "Take me along as a guarantee if you want, but he'll do what he says. Just – just give him a few minutes, all right?"
"Why should I believe that holding you would make him keep his promise?"
"Holding me won't make him do a damned thing," I said. "But he gave you his word, and he's someone who does what he says he'll do. Besides, if he makes a run for it, you still have me to take in. I'm not going anywhere with this jewelery on me."
Spode cursed, then leaned down and yanked me to my feet again. "Five minutes," he said. "And I'm coming with you."
Hakkai lowered his hands. "Thank you." He looked at me, but his words were for Spode. "He hasn't done anything. Don't hold him responsible for my actions."
The damned romantic, naive ass. No matter what he said, I was headed for a federal pen for aiding and abetting a criminal. I'd be lucky if I didn't get framed for some of the murders myself, just so that they could throw away the key.
Still, it meant something that he said it. "Thanks."
Hakkai smiled at me and something inside twisted. God, he was beautiful.
"Four minutes, ladies," Spode snapped.
Without another word, Hakkai turned away and opened the gates, and we entered the cemetery.
I'm not superstitious… oh, hell, who am I trying to fool? Shivers were running up and down my spine as he led us through the graveyard. Spode's hand gripped my arm like a vise, but in a strange way I appreciated it, because it was hard to see in the dark and I kept tripping over the little flat grave markers buried in the earth. With my hands cuffed like that, I'd have fallen on my face a half-dozen times.
The smell of fresh dirt got stronger, until Hakkai knelt in front of a low mound of earth, still uncovered by grass or a marker. There were another couple of mounds of dirt past the one that Hakkai chose, and I wondered how he knew this particular one was her grave. Beyond the other two fresh mounds lay a gaping pit.
I shivered again. An open grave, waiting to be filled.
Spode and I watched as Hakkai opened the bag and pulled out the towel. I elbowed Spode in the ribs.
"Hey, G-man," I whispered. "Take my damned hat off for me, would you?"
He glared at me, but took off my hat and dropped it on the ground. Then he took off his fedora and held it at his side. I felt better for the little bit of respect we gave her, lying there cold and alone in the ground like that. She should have had better than a pauper's grave, and Hakkai all alone with his anger and despair.
Hakkai unwrapped the towel, tugging a bit where it stuck to the thing inside. I heard Spode draw in a harsh breath as he realized what it was.
"I'm sorry, Kanan," Hakkai said. "I'm so sorry I couldn't get there in time. But I brought you this. I knew you'd want it." He laid King Centipede's heart on the mound.
Beside me, Spode suddenly gave a kind of grunt and fell to the ground. Before I could turn, I felt an arm around my neck and the cold muzzle of a gun jammed into the back of my skull. Shit. I was going to die in a fucking pauper's graveyard. I knew that damned open grave had meant something.
"Hakkai Cho," a voice said in my ear. The arm tightened and I choked as Hakkai whirled and stood.
"Let him go."
"I don't think so." The guy's voice purred in my ear. "He's quite the pretty thing, isn't he?"
"Fuck off, bastard," I managed to say. If I was going to die, I wanted to go out with some kind of fight, and I couldn't do much else with my hands behind my back and him choking me.
"Your business is with me," Hakkai said.
"And I think this one is your business," the man replied. "You took my family from me. It seems only fair that I take him from you, no?" The gun slid from the back of my skull to my cheek, where it rested. "A little at a time, just like you did to me."
The gun roared in my ear and I shouted as white-hot pain engulfed the side of my face. My knees buckled from the shock of it, but the bastard didn't relax his grip around my throat, so I forced my legs to hold me up so I wouldn't choke to death for real. His grip loosened, just a bit, but enough that I could catch my breath.
"Fuck!" I shouted. "You'll make me go God-damned deaf, you crazy bastard!" I looked over at Hakkai, who was white as a sheet, and felt blood trickling down my face. "How bad is it?" I demanded. "And who's this crazy fucker?"
"It's a… a crease," Hakkai said. "On your cheek."
"You can call me Retribution," the guy said. The gun stroked the crease and the pain flared.
"He's King Centipede's son," Hakkai said. "I only ever heard them call him 'the Fortune Teller'."
"You killed how many of my father's men? Thirty? Fifty? It seems I have some more payback that I owe you," the Fortune Teller said.
I barely had time to brace myself when the gun went off again. My legs did crumple this time, pain roaring through my face and my ear deaf and ringing. The Fortune Teller knelt with me as I fell, his arm tightening hard around my throat again.
God, I was sick of being a fucking hostage! I braced myself and shoved backwards as hard as I could. The gun roared again and this time, I knew I'd bought it because my chest exploded and everything went black as I fought to remain conscious. I was aware of the Fortune Teller trying to push me away, then Hakkai was there.
There was a sound like a branch breaking, then I felt hands pulling me up. I struggled against them as best as I could.
"…-jyo, Gojyo, it's all right, it's me."
I stopped fighting. "Hakkai?"
"Yes." I felt him press something to my shoulder and I hissed with pain. "You're badly hurt."
"Did you get that Fortune Teller bastard?"
"You don't need to worry about him anymore."
glanced to the side. So that's what the asshole
looked like, all twisted and rat-faced and gray. His neck was bent at an impossible
angle. I tried to sit up but the world
swam around me and I slumped back again.
"Don't move, Gojyo. You've lost quite a bit of blood already."
He was right. I wasn't going anywhere. I closed my eyes. "Is the Fed dead?"
"No." I heard Hakkai moving around, then he was back, his hand on my forehead. "I'm going for help."
"Hakkai." I opened my eyes. He was bent over me, looking down at me with those gorgeous eyes of his. I couldn't see the green in the darkness, but I could imagine it. "Go. Run. Spode can take care of me when he wakes up. Just get going, while you have the chance."
Spode stirred next to me.
Hakkai stood, still staring down at me.
"Do you think I doctored you up last night just to see you go to the pen? Or worse yet, the chair?" I said, my voice hoarse and cracking. "Get going, you stupid bastard!"
He backed up a couple of steps.
"Stop where you are." Spode was sitting up. He had a hand pressed to the back of his head. "And give me my God-damned gun back."
Hakkai looked down at the gun in his hand, then slowly pointed it at Spode. "Help him," he said.
Spode barely glanced at me. "If the idiot dies from a gunshot wound to the shoulder, it's because he's weak," he said dismissively.
"Fuck you," I snapped at him. I tried once more to push myself into a sitting position, this time using my good arm. "Get out of here, Hakkai!"
There was an explosion of movement from behind Hakkai. He started to turn, then suddenly he was flying through the air, Spode's gun spinning in the opposite direction. He landed next to his sister's grave, but a second later he was on his feet and crouched like a fighter.
A scrawny runt in a suit and fedora that matched Spode's was grinning like a madman, equally ready to fight. "Should I take him down, Spode?"
"Tch. Don't bother." Spode stood and retrieved his gun, putting it in a holster inside his trench. He picked up his hat and brushed the leaves and dirt from it before putting it back on his head. "Let him go."
"What?" I asked, not getting it at all.
Spode glared at me. "He saved me the trouble of cleaning up this gang. He saved the government a hell of a lot of money that would have been spent on a bunch of useless trials with juries that would have been bought off or murdered. All in all, I'd rather save the state the expense of the electricity that they'd use to fry him when he's convicted."
"Shit." I looked over at Hakkai. "I'm surrounded by lunatics."
Hakkai got up and walked over to kneel by my side. He had a pretty good-sized shiner starting from where the crazy kid had hit him. "Thank you," he said, turning to Spode.
Spode grunted and tossed him something. "Give me back my bracelets, would you?"
Hakkai smiled a little. "All right," he said. He pulled me up until I was draped over his shoulder, then unlocked the handcuffs with the keys Spode had tossed him. I immediately went to rub my wrists, and nearly passed out from the pain in my shoulder when I moved.
"Can you help me get him back to the boarding house?" Hakkai asked, cradling me with one arm as he rubbed one of my wrists soothingly.
"I'll get the car," the other Fed said brightly, then bounded away.
"Don't fucking drive it over the graves!" Spode shouted after him. He turned back to Hakkai. "We'll drive you back so you can patch the idiot up. But once I've got this mess cleaned up, expect a visit from me. I need to get some information from you."
"I understand." I felt Hakkai's arm tighten around me. "I'll be waiting."
Then he tried to lift me up and everything went black.
The Fed gave us a ride back to the boarding house. He didn't bother to offer to help us get upstairs to my fucking rooms, just dropped us off at the curb.
Prick. His partner rubbed salt in the wound, dangling like a monkey out the sedan window and waving at us as they drove away.
Hakkai pretty much dragged me inside. Kanny, the old puss, came out of her rooms, saying something about me needing some spice in my life, while Moustaches Man, who'd stumbled out after her dressed in one of her lacy robes, looked horrified. The blood, I suppose. The noise brought down the Prince, followed by his consort, who took one look at me and scooped me up like some kind of princess, carrying me up both flights of stairs and waiting for Hakkai to open the door before depositing me in my chair at the kitchen table. He helped Hakkai pull my clothes off, too, the Prince supporting me because I was weaving like a drunk every time they tugged, then, once I was stripped down to my shorts and undershirt, they left.
The big guy gave me a wink as he closed the door behind them.
And that's how I got where I'm at, sitting in my skivvies at my table with a bullet hole in my shoulder and an unrealistic hope in my heart, while Hakkai's bandaging both.
"He drilled me good." I can't move the fucking shoulder without things going grey around the edges, so I keep still and let him deal with things.
"I'm afraid that the bullet scores on your cheek might leave scars."
"What about your eye?"
"It just needs a beefsteak. You can help me with it once we've got you bandaged up." Hakkai rips the spare set of sheets into strips and starts to wrap them around my shoulder and arm. With this damned hole in me I'm going to have a hard time hustling the tables for money to replace the sheets before the landlady finds out, but I don't care.
"Oh, Gojyo," Hakkai whispers. He ties the bandage and smoothes his hand over it, his touch soft. Then he bends forward and brushes his lips across my collarbone, right next to where the bandage stops.
I swallow hard and freeze.
"You're so beautiful," he whispers next. His lips are warm against my neck and he shifts closer.
Christ. Like he has to pay me back. "Hakkai, you don't need to– "
He puts his fingers across my lips. "You're so beautiful," he repeats.
Then we're kissing.
Hakkai tastes of coffee and cinnamon, bitter and spicy and warm all at once, his tongue sliding against mine, and all I can think about is that wet heat around my dick except that he tastes too good to stop kissing long enough to push him down there. Without breaking our kiss, he crawls into my lap and cups my chin in one hand, tilting my head up and pressing close, and my dick feels like an iron rod in my shorts, pressed against his ass. He reaches down and rubs me, not letting go of my face or my mouth, until I'm moaning and I can't stop my hips from thrusting up against his clever, deadly fingers.
"Hakkai, don't," I whisper into his mouth. "No pity fucks."
"I want you, Gojyo," he murmured back. "Feel me."
I slide one hand up from where they're glued to his ass – when they got there, I haven't got the foggiest – and grope his crotch.
He's as fucking hard as I am.
Then he shifts and accidentally bumps my shoulder, and I see stars.
I must have passed out for a minute or two, because I don't remember how we got to the bedroom, but we're here and he's taking what's left of my clothes off, laying me out just like I laid him out last night, when I thought he was his sister. "This is just too fucked up."
"Sshhh." He undresses, and it's the first time that I've seen his whole body, not just face or hands or stomach or dick. He's slim and pasty white, with a long, slim dick that's already glistening with pre-come and bobbing against his stomach. His legs are darker; he must have used that stuff that women use now that nylons are so hard to find, even on the black market.
Other than his head and groin, though, he's smooth. I reach out and touch his skin. It's soft and fine. "You're gorgeous," I say. "Come here. I want to taste you."
"Lie back. I don't want to hurt your shoulder again." Hakkai straddles me on the bed, carefully inching up my chest until his dick rubs against my lips.
I open my mouth and let him in until my nose is buried in his curls and all I can smell is his heat and desire for me.
He fucks my mouth gently, doing all the work, while I suck and whirl my tongue around his hot, hot dick. God, I've missed this. Banri always topped, always, and it was good, but to me, sex never gets better than when I have a man's hard dick in my mouth and I can look up to see his face and chest flushed with heat and know that I'm the one making him feel like that.
This time when I look up, Hakkai's looking down at me, and the expression on his face is so possessive and tender that my heart falters in my chest.
Oh, fuck. No. Not now. I can't be stupid enough to fall in love with a fucking mass murderer.
Then he slides in deeper and I don't care if he's Pretty Boy Floyd, I just know that I want to taste his spunk so bad it hurts. I suck hard and moan around his dick and he pulls out.
"I want to be in you," he says. His chest moves with his heavy breathing. "Gojyo, please."
I nod and turn carefully until I'm lying on my good side. No way can he fuck me from the front – too much for my shoulder – but he gets the idea quick enough and slips behind me.
"I don't want to hurt you."
"There's lotion in the nightstand." I hear him open the drawer, then a few seconds later I feel his finger smearing cold liquid across my asshole. He doesn't bother sticking his finger in – maybe he doesn't know to do it – but I don't care. I want to feel the burn when he pushes in.
And I do. Oh, Christ, it's been so long, and it hurts, but then he's pressed hot against my back, breathing heavy in my ear, and he's kissing my neck and throat as I feel his hips start to move.
"Oh, God. Gojyo."
"Fuck me. C'mon. Fuck me."
He leans his head between my shoulder blades. "We're going slowly," he says. "I won't cause you any more pain. Not ever," and it sounds like a vow, he says it so fiercely, and then he's moving with slow, smooth strokes. The burn in my ass starts feeling good, not bad, and I push back against his thrusts as much as I can.
I can't reach my cock because my good arm's bracing me, but suddenly I feel a cold, slippery hand close around my dick and start slowly pumping it, while he drives his dick in deep and pulls out easy, only to push in deep again.
"Christ, you're killing me," I moan.
He laughs and kisses the nape of my neck, then tightens his grip on my dick. Oh, God, it feels so good. He feels so good, so good in me, so good plastered against the length of my body, so good tight around my cock. Banri was all about the rough sex – "save the romance for the ladies," he'd say, pounding hard into my ass – but this, this almost hurts more, because Hakkai's not just fucking my body, he's loving me, too.
I start breathing hard, as I feel the heat build inside, my feet burning first, before the flames begin to lick up my legs and center in my balls and dick.
"Hakkai. Oh, God, keep going. Keep going. I'm gonna come– " He moves a little faster. His hand's so fucking hot and slick, better than pussy because it's so tight, and I can feel my balls start to scrunch up. God, so close…
"Do it, Gojyo. Come for me," he whispers into my ear, then bites it, and just like that I'm coming so hard that everything goes black and I can hear myself saying stupid things like, 'love you' and 'God' and 'never stop fucking me' while I jerk and thrust into his hot, slippery hand and feel his teeth and hear his panting breath in my ear, and oh, God, it's never been so good and I never want it to end, I want to keep coming until the fucking world ends, as long as this man's cock is inside me.
I collapse, limp, and he lets go of my softening dick and slips his arm around my chest, holding me up and snapping his hips forward once, twice, then I feel him stiffen behind me and he lets go of my ear with his teeth, only to moan my name as he gives twitchy little thrusts against me, emptying his load deep inside.
When he's finished, somehow he manages to support both of us, wiping my ass with the top sheet and then pushing it off the bed and laying me down so gentle, until I'm cushioned by the pillow and his warm body behind me. He pulls the blanket over us and kisses my neck.
"I won't leave you," he whispers. He pulls me closer. "You're mine, Gojyo. I take care of what's mine."
Right. So, what does that mean? If I get killed by some loser after hustling his money, is Hakkai gonna go out and start murdering pool marks until he gets the right one?
Maybe. The thought makes me grin, even as it terrifies the shit out of me.
His breath evens out and he's fully relaxed against me. Damn. I'm such a sucker for a pretty face. God knows, whether Hakkai stays with me or not, I'm probably in for a hell of a ride while he's here, given what's happened the last couple of nights. Trouble with a capital 'T', for sure.
He's not just a pretty face and jewelled eyes, though. He's good in a pinch, and smart, and loyal, judging by how he avenged his sister. I've never been around a person who's got all that going for him. It's kind of nice.
It suddenly hits me that the shoulder wound doesn't hurt half as bad as the one to my heart will one day. Because there's no such thing as happily-ever-after. Things just don't work out that way.
But I'll take what I can get for as long as I can get it. And if he makes a mess of my heart someday, well, it's a pretty messed up organ to begin with.
But I think, maybe, I might have a little better idea what people mean when they talk about love.
Nouvellebrielle's request: "Hakkai/Gojyo (or whichever you prefer if the story contains smut, which isn't necessary but is most welcome), Film Noir AU. With Hakkai in a black velvet dress, for some reason or another. And I'm not sure if it's possible to love you any more than I already do, but I will certainly try if somewhere in there, you include a fedora."