Title: Three By Five
Author: Sept. Rose (http://www.fanfiction.net/~aseptemberrose)
Warnings/Notes: Angst, a bit of fluff. Koumyou and Kouryuu appear as major characters.
Summary: During a smoke break, Gojyo finds an old photograph.
I also go by the name "saruzake" on LiveJournal. (http://saruzake.livejournal.com)
Without even having to ask, Sanzo saw the flicker of the lighter's flame as it was extended to him. Gojyo stood a foot or so away, cigarette dangling from his mouth. The two were both looking through the window of their room at the drizzle outside. The rain had fortunately held off until they'd reached the latest town, but that now meant that no member of the Ikkou could leave until the storm was over.
This mostly affected the redhead, in Sanzo's opinion. The priest was perfectly satisfied with burying himself under some blankets and pretending that the weather outside didn't exist. But with Gojyo standing right next to him, it would take a little extra effort to kick him out of the room and get everything in order. It was easier to wait until the kappa left of his own accord.
That irked Sanzo presently as well. Why had Gojyo chosen to come smoke in his room? They could've met in the hallway, risked the rain on the nearby balcony, or done it in the other man's room.
He twitched. That last part hadn't sounded right at all.
He decided to at least vocalize something. Maybe speaking up would remind Gojyo he was a guest – and a quite unwelcome one at that – and make him hurry up. Sharing one lighter between the both of them sucked beyond belief.
"Perhaps you've forgotten, but you have your own room as well. Why don't you go look out the window in there?" Sanzo made his tone as flat as he could. If there was one thing he was good at, it was articulating his dislike for most of humanity in the rudest way possible.
Gojyo shrugged, taking another long drag. His Hi-Lite was almost gone. "What's the point in having my own room if there aren't any beautiful visitors coming over? I get lonely all by myself." Sanzo glanced sideways just in time to see a wink directed his way. "But then, I guess you wouldn't understand."
There he went again, Sanzo thought, shaking his head in disgust. Gojyo was always assuming he knew nothing about sex or desire or anything of the nature. What a ridiculous notion. Sanzo was human, after all, and male on top of that. He'd be an even bigger idiot than Gojyo if he were to claim that he'd never had any feelings on the subject.
He let it slide. There was no point in broaching that topic. "You must be desperate, then, if this is your only alternative to loneliness."
That grin was going to drive him crazy. When Gojyo failed to respond and a few more moments elapsed in silence, Sanzo decided it was a lost cause to get him to go away. The blond coughed all of a sudden, the tobacco irritating his lungs. The spasm passed as well, but Gojyo made no mention of it.
The rain continued to pour.
Sanzo lifted up the pack of Marlboro, tapping it a few times for a fresh stick. Nothing happened, so he tapped a little harder, peering inside the small opening. Empty.
"Ch." He tossed the package to the floor, knowing that another was lying in the mess of robes he'd left on the floor. Sanzo moved to the pile, feeling Gojyo's eyes on him the whole time. What kind of game was that bastard trying to play? Whatever reaction he wanted, Sanzo wasn't going to give it to him.
The priest successfully located the new pack and allowed himself a smirk of triumph. He stood up, rustling the items on the floor and heard the flutter of something light like paper falling to the ground.
He turned to pick it up, but all of a sudden, red blocked his vision. Gojyo had bent down as well, catching what appeared to be a small 3x5 photograph. It was torn and faded, as though it had been through much wear and tear, but the figures in the picture were still visible.
Gojyo stared at the front, trying to see who the people were, but Sanzo snatched it up in a flash. "Did I say you could touch my things?" he snarled, holding the photo tightly against his chest. As ridiculous as it was, his heart was pounding from the anxiety of Gojyo getting a glimpse at something very personal.
"Sorry, just like to pick stuff up when it falls; bad habit a' mine," the other man drawled, standing back up.
Sanzo was still crouched down, looking up at him. Gojyo seemed very distant from this angle and Sanzo didn't like that. 'Wait, why would I care?'
Gojyo turned back to the window, lighting up his next cigarette. "Cute kid," he remarked, seemingly to himself.
Sanzo sprang to his feet, a heated gaze in his eyes. "What?" His voice was a challenge, ice dripping from one single word.
Gojyo tapped off the ash and tilted his head back to see the priest out of the corner of his eye. "The guy dressed like you was holdin' a kid. Cute lil' brat, I think." The way he kept grinning was almost insinuating that he knew something he wasn't supposed to.
Sanzo's eyes lowered to the picture, which he still held against his chest. Pulling it back a little, he focused on the figures. This represented one of his earliest memories, one of the clearest since being pulled from the river.
It had been a very clear, sunny day in early spring when that photo had been taken. Kinzan was surrounded by newly blossoming trees and everyone in the temple wanted to be outside. A photographer from the nearby town had come to visit, offering portraits of any of the monks who wanted it, as long as he could take landscapes.
Three-year old Kouryuu had been fascinated by the huge professional piece of equipment and had taken to following the photographer around the temple grounds, peering curiously into the little 'windows' and giggling whenever the button was pressed and a clicking noise was heard, followed by a flash of light.
The photographer had every right to be annoyed with the little golden-haired child tagging along behind him, but for some reason, the man wasn't. He attempted to explain, in the simplest terms he knew of, what you had to do to take a good picture, when the flash was used and how to focus and zoom in with the lens. Kouryuu felt grown up when the man let him hold the camera all by himself and take his own shaky, tilted photos.
Finally, the photographer and his 'junior assistant,' as Kouryuu had been dubbed, returned to the central building of the temple and were greeted by Koumyou Sanzo. Kouryuu bounded up the stairs to hug the priest around the legs, a mess of Polaroid photos in his hands.
"Daddy! Look at what I did!" He bounced up and down, excitedly showing off his handiwork.
Koumyou bent down to his level and extended his own hands for the photos, flipping through them with great interest. "Wow, Kouryuu, these look great," he remarked with his usual warm smile, tone showing that he was indeed impressed. He ruffled the child's hair and looked back up at the photographer. "I hope he wasn't too much of a bother."
"Oh, not at all," the man said, adjusting the strap where the camera hung around his neck. "It's always a treat to see those who are interested in such a great hobby." There was a small pause and Kouryuu looked up at the man, who then smiled as if he'd just been hit with a great idea.
"How about, instead of Kouryuu-kun taking his own pictures, I take one of you two?"
Violet eyes widened. "Me an' Daddy? You're gonna take a picture of us?"
Koumyou laughed, pulling the boy back into his arms. "I suppose we can do that. Kouryuu, would you like to pose for the nice man?"
"Yeah!" The child gladly allowed himself to be lifted in his father's arms as they chose a spot near the Zen garden. He snuggled against Koumyou's shoulder, looking right into the front of the camera like the photographer had told him to… like a good boy.
Being on the other side of the flash shocked him. He didn't realize it was so bright and as a result, ended up closing his eyes. When the man handed the photo over to them, Kouryuu saw that his eyes were shut tight and his face had scrunched up a little.
"Is it okay?" he asked, still wide-eyed, hoping he hadn't made a mistake.
Koumyou was still holding Kouryuu in his arms and gave him a reassuring squeeze. "It's perfect. Thank you," he told the man.
Kouryuu clutched on to the photo when Koumyou set him down. "You can hang on to this, all right? I'd probably lose it."
Kouryuu nodded, pressing the picture to his chest. "I won't ever let it go!"
Ten years later, on that day when the temple was still reeling from the death of their master and Kouryuu had become Genjyo Sanzo, he took precious little with him from the temple. His master's remaining sutra, a brand new silver handgun, a few other small trinkets that he ended up losing the first few times he was attacked, and that photo. The same one that resided in an inner pocket of his robes to this day, continually getting more faded with every battle or river or the few times Sanzo had forgotten about it and let it get washed. Somehow, it still survived mostly in tact, unlike both of the people it contained.
Gojyo's heavy footsteps broke Sanzo from his revelry. "Sorry to freak you out, man," he offered, crushing out his cigarette in the ashtray lying on the bed. The thing was almost full, since both of them had been smoking pretty much nonstop. " 'S none a' my business what you carry around. We all got sentimental items."
Sanzo snorted, once again tucking the photo away into the safety of his jeans pocket. "What do you have? You're the one who's always talking about not living in the past."
"Maybe so." Gojyo shrugged. "I don't have photos or nothin' like that… kinda wish I did." His voice suddenly became wistful. "Just a few little things that don't mean anythin' to anyone else."
Sanzo raised an eyebrow. "Like what? Some useless knick-knacks from some girl you used to like?" The photo felt heavy in his pocket and Sanzo looked outside to see the rain clearing.
"Oh, hopefully nothing that cliché," Gojyo replied with a laugh, lighting up and gesturing with the smoke trailing off from the tip. "If you absolutely must know…" He winked. "Which, by the way, proves that you're at least marginally interested in my life…"
"Oh, please." Sanzo rolled his eyes. "Go be a drama queen somewhere else if you're going to drag it out like this."
"A ribbon." Gojyo said it so quietly that Sanzo almost missed it. "That's all I got. I think it's a lot more pathetic than a photo."
On Gojyo's right, Sanzo moved to grab the lighter from him and shuddered when their fingertips brushed slightly. What was it about this encounter that was making him so nervous? It had to be because he was sharing a part of his past. That was the only explanation. After all, the only other person Sanzo had ever told was Hakkai and that was just because Hakkai found everything out sooner or later and he'd figured it better to just get it over with.
"It's probably worse to carry around a picture of a dead person than a piece of ribbon."
"Even if the ribbon is all you have of that dead person?"
Sanzo felt even worse. Of course there had to be dead people in Gojyo's past; they all had their literal skeletons. "A woman, though. It has to be, considering you."
"Yeah," Gojyo agreed, letting out his next breath in an "O" shaped smoke ring. "Someone I never got the chance to know."
There was another silence and Sanzo's hands twitched, needing something to do. Looking down, Gojyo reached over subtly and gave Sanzo's hand a quick squeeze. He pulled back just as quickly, but the priest had definitely noticed.
"What the hell was that for?"
The redhead smiled, though this one looked tired… forced. "We can't really escape the past, no matter how we try. You're frozen in time and I'm tied down. Hakkai's frozen too… still carries around that damn pocket watch even though the thing hasn't worked in years… and Goku's still choking on the silence." His cigarette abruptly burned out.
Sanzo looked over. Since the rain had stopped, the moon was breaking through the clouds, casting Gojyo in an oddly melancholy light. His hair was pure silk and his eyes blazed like he was from another world. The blond shivered. Something was wrong with the both of them.
"I've never heard you talk like that before," he commented, inhaling a little too hard and coughing as a result. "If you're not careful, someone could mistake you for a philosopher."
"Not likely," Gojyo said, tension lifting a little from around his eyes. "I'm not one for the life of an intellectual. I'll settle for being a romantic, though." That leer was back.
Sanzo shook his head and put out the cigarette. "Fine, you do that."
Sanzo barely had time to react to the heavy hand being placed on his shoulder when he felt himself being spun around to face the kappa. The other hand settled around his waist and he was drawn closer.
'No. This isn't happening!' He knew he should pull away.
Sanzo really wanted to pull away when Gojyo's lips touched his. This was wrong. This shouldn't be happening. This shouldn't feel so… The lips pressed down more insistently and Sanzo closed his eyes.
Both of Gojyo's arms were locked around the blonde's waist, embracing him. Unconsciously, Sanzo had draped his own arms over the other man's shoulders, entire body going slack. He initiated this time, pushing closer to Gojyo's face, capturing his lips for the first time.
'How the hell did I end up like this?' he wondered. As an afterthought, he cursed mentally, 'But who the hell cares?'
Frozen in time though he was, he knew Gojyo was real. Gojyo was warm and heavy and firm and there. The thought was an anchor keeping Sanzo in the present. One pale hand slid up Gojyo's scalp, feeling the fiery hair glide between his fingers.
Gojyo shuddered against him and their lips met over and over again, until neither could breathe. 'What's come over us?' Sanzo's mind raced, but he wasn't about to stop. This was too much and not enough.
Finally, they reached a silent agreement and pulled away, gasping.
Gojyo's hands were the last things to be removed and he stroked his fingers up Sanzo's abdomen regretfully before putting his arms at his sides. "That was probably… my fault."
"Probably." There was no proper response. There was no way that could work. The two rubbed each other the wrong way ninety-nine percent of the time and had way too many difficulties between them. Nothing could ever come of this.
Nothing must ever come of this.
Should anything ever come of this?
"It's supposed to rain tomorrow, too." Gojyo had hastily changed the subject, but the kiss still hovered above both of them. "If it does… I'll stay and smoke in my own room. How's that sound?"
They were still standing next to each other. Sanzo cleared his throat. "Do what you want, but sooner or later, you're going to have to show me that ribbon. If I have to be embarrassed by mementos, you do, too."
"Oh?" A red eyebrow arched. "Is that your way of inviting me back?" Gojyo's head tilted down just a little towards Sanzo.
A shiver went through Sanzo's entire body at the implications of that question. Purple eyes looked up slightly as Gojyo stepped back, shifting his weight onto his right foot and turning to him.
Yes, he wanted more.
Gojyo's lips twitched, fighting a smile. "In that case…"
The doubt and the curiosity battled it out in Sanzo's brain, so much so that he barely heard the remark.
No, it was a huge mistake.
He came back to the present when he noticed the expectant look on Gojyo's face. 'I'm not frozen, I'm not,' he insisted.
Under the watchful gaze of the moon, he let the kappa kiss him again.
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