Title: Awakening 3/3
Author: TJ Dragonblade
Pairings: Hakkai/Gojyo. Peripheral Gojyo/OFC, Hakkai/Kanan, brief speculation on Goku/Sanzo.
Setting: Erm...early-to-mid-journey, summertime. Bearing in mind that I have no real idea what season they set out in. Probably fits better with the anime timeline, pre-Homura.
Summary: Gojyo's luck with the ladies one night leads Hakkai to the discovery of an inexplicable jealousy and Gojyo to the discovery of an equally inexplicable emptiness...
Warnings/This Fic Contains: Yaoi. Mild angst. A bit of sap. Scattered language. Mention of het with brief nudity. Men kissing while shirtless. Brief flashes of fantasy that could warrant a stricter rating. Mention of various events that could amount to spoilers in relation to Hakkai and particularly to his history with Gojyo...oh. And a brief moment of mild Hakkai fan-service.
Disclaimer: The many incarnations and characters of Saiyuki were created by the wonderfully talented Kazuya Minekura--may she be forever blessed and properly deified for sharing her vision with the rest of us. I venture onto her playground in the name of entertainment and maintaining my sanity; in so doing I mean no disrespect or copyright infringement.
Hakkai hadn't planned on kissing Gojyo. He hadn't even planned on telling him anything just yet. The newly-realized depth of emotion he was discovering this night was just too fresh and unsorted to be adequately conveyed to its focal subject.
Gojyo, however, had a way of opening him up that Hakkai had often found both pleasant and comfortable; tonight, it proved to be his undoing. Gojyo's befuddled disappointment at the lack of deeper meaning to his physical conquests hadn't helped things, either, inciting the desire within Hakkai that he should be the one to fill the lonely emptiness to which his friend had roundaboutly confessed.
Watching Gojyo pace languidly about the balcony in nothing but his trousers and his sex-mussed hair had only heightened Hakkai's newfound physical attraction to the man, further distracting his sensibilities. Gojyo's efforts to talk him through his mood and cheer him up were renewedly endearing; Hakkai soon found himself with little hope of keeping his revelations to himself. Gojyo's mere presence tugged at something deep within him, something that had always been there and was only now being recognized and acknowledged as more than simple friendship or camaraderie. He was drawn inexorably to Gojyo, compelled to lay bare his discovery despite his misgivings; yet still he hesitated, caution and wisdom dictating that he break the news carefully.
He failed in that as well. The gentle touch of Gojyo's hand covering his had startled him in its casual unexpectedness; compulsion surged within him and before he quite realized what he was doing, Hakkai found himself leaning over the rail and pressed lip-to-lip with Gojyo.
There was only a brief suspended second in which they both registered the act and its significance before Gojyo jerked away, back-pedaling.
"Hakkai--what the hell--!" Gojyo's arm lifted reflexively and he wiped at his mouth with the back of his fist, eyes wide in shock, heart pumping madly beneath his ribs as adrenaline surged into his system.
Hakkai blinked, more surprised by the fact that he had actually kissed his friend than anything else and yet a little hurt by Gojyo's all-too-predictable reaction; the smile he offered up was slightly sad, slightly bitter, and very, very small.
"Well. It seems that I can't keep secrets from you after all."
Gojyo took one last swipe across his lips and lowered his arm, shock still written plainly all over his face. He opened his mouth, fully intending to ask some mostly-rational question on the order of 'What the hell do you think you were doing?'; but all that came out was a soft, hoarse croak of disbelief.
"I'm afraid so."
Gojyo shook his head, still trying to wrap his brain around the idea that he was the subject of the affections they'd been discussing.
"Hakkai...you kissed me." It was almost an accusation.
Gojyo's lips were still warm with the brief pressure of Hakkai's against them; the adrenaline was still racing in his blood. That Hakkai...that he...it was the most bizarre turn of events he could imagine.
And part of him was excited by it.
He shook his head again.
"You fucking kissed me!"
The tone was angry and confused, with just a hint of sympathy underneath; Hakkai sighed inwardly upon hearing it. Not that he'd had much chance to think on the subject, but he wouldn't really have expected Gojyo to respond any differently.
"Yes, I kissed you," he affirmed mildly, his insides winding tighter. "Please, do forgive me for being so forward, but it's been rather a long night by now and I'm not at my social best." The words carried just a little bite of sarcasm; for all his understanding of what must be going through his friend's mind at the moment, the horrified reaction still stung. His arms slid unconsciously around his stomach.
Goyjo shook his head again and reeled away from Hakkai, stumbling to the open face of the balcony, clutching at the railing before him. He stared down toward the ground two stories below with wide eyes, breath harsh in his throat. Unthinkable--it was unthinkable that one little act from his best friend could turn his reality so far on its ear this way.
Hakkai. Hakkai...had...was...with him?
It was so outrageous, so completely insane, that he couldn't even form the thought coherently.
And yet at the same time, on some deep subconscious level, it somehow made perfect sense.
He closed his eyes and forced a slow, deep breath in and out of his lungs. He had to get a grip on himself, to master his shock and reign in his knee-jerk reactions, or he was going to make a real mess of things. He could feel Hakkai's gaze boring into his naked back, unrelenting, waiting, and he couldn't help feeling just a bit guilty. Here was Hakkai, baring his soul quite unexpectedly, and Gojyo had responded by scrubbing at his mouth and all but spitting to rid himself of the kiss.
That flat-out rejection had to have hurt; he didn't want to hurt Hakkai, not ever, but...
Really, what was he supposed to do? Profess his undying affections in return?
That would be stupid, now, because he didn't feel the same way about Hakkai. He couldn't. Hakkai was a man, after all, and...he just couldn't.
Behind him, Hakkai heaved a quiet sigh. Really, this could have gone so much better, but there was no help for it now. He'd come straight out and kissed his friend, and Gojyo did not seem particularly receptive to the admissions being made.
His arms wrapped more tightly about his middle, and he wished in vain that he hadn't so casually discarded his shirt before leaving his room. He felt entirely too vulnerable, now, in so many ways.
Perhaps it would be best to simply excuse himself and give Gojyo a chance to come to grips with the blow he'd delivered.
And yet...he couldn't honestly blame Gojyo for his reactions; this whole affair was so horribly unexpected, so sudden...
"It's not as though this is easy for me, either," he spoke up at last, half-defensive and half-sympathetic. "I never had any intention of coming to care this deeply for you. I had no intention of caring so deeply for anyone, ever again. But...this evening has drawn me down a path of discovery, and I can't ignore the things that it's led me to realize."
Gojyo said nothing, did not acknowledge his words in any way, the heavy pause between the two of them underscored by the soft unhurried rushing of the rain.
"I...perhaps...I'll leave you alone, then," Hakkai said softly, a note of defeat in his tone. "Only..." He sighed, distractedly combing a hand up under his bangs in a gesture of helpless futility. "Please, Gojyo...give it some thought?" He had no real hope that Gojyo would be any happier with the news after thinking about it, but what else was he supposed to say? "I won't push...and in fact, I won't even mention it if you prefer. I'm not at all willing to destroy the friendship already between us."
He turned from the center railing, melancholy descending on him once again as he moved for his room.
At the outer rail, Gojyo's thoughts were still screaming blindly into one another, his composure scattering in circles before them.
This was nuts, absolutely nuts. He wanted to deny the course of the last few minutes, to deny that Hakkai had confessed to...to caring for him; to deny the warmth welling in his chest as the notion sank in, to deny the realizations trying to surface.
But he couldn't.
Hakkai had kissed him.
And that brief, fleeting contact had been more electric than any kiss he'd had in a very long time.
Admitting that to himself scared him more than anything yet.
Was it really possible? Could...could Hakkai be what he needed to fill that subtle emptiness that only seemed to yawn wider with each one-night conquest he landed? Hakkai, with his drowning-deep eyes and soft voice and sunny smiles and warm laughter? Hakkai, who was never too busy or too tired to lend him a sympathetic ear, who routinely nursed him back from his worst hangovers with no complaint?
Hakkai, who cheerfully reminded him that Tuesday was laundry-day and that trash went out Thursdays and that the bills must be paid by the first, who weathered his attempts at cooking with brave amusement and gallantly volunteered to go for take-out when those attempts turned disastrous...
...Hakkai, who had challenged his entire perception of worthlessness, had stepped in with quiet force to pick him out of the last mess Banri had dragged him into...
...Hakkai, who'd silently offered a shoulder and a sheltering embrace when he broke down in drunken tears that one night and spilled the whole tragic tale of his brother's sacrifice...
...Hakkai, who time and again doused Sanzo's wrath and ran interference with the priest on his behalf...
...Hakkai, who even now asked nothing of him but consideration and never mind the personal repercussions...
Could it be?
He had only seconds to choose his course of action--let Hakkai go, and let the frightening possibilities fade with the night, or call Hakkai back, and give him the chance he hadn't quite asked for...
Gojyo's hands clenched on the railing. He was scared, hell yes he was. Scared out of his mind--there were avenues that he had never imagined trying to open before him, doorways that would drastically change his life if he chose to walk through them.
It was beyond frightening.
But damned if Sha Gojyo was going to let himself be ruled by fear.
The low voice stopped Hakkai at his doorway, drew him back a step, made him turn even as he quelled the faint flutter of hope stirring deep within.
Hakkai blinked, pausing, unable to quite hear what his friend had murmured so softly. He moved a step closer. At least Gojyo was speaking to him; that was almost certainly better than nothing. "I'm sorry; what?"
Gojyo's bare back was tense; his head was still lowered, face hidden by the fall of his hair, an intense flare of rich burgundy color against the darkness of the night beyond.
Slowly, he turned and lifted his chin, meeting Hakkai's resigned-yet-perplexed gaze.
"I said do it again, wouldja?"
Hakkai's heart stumbled, disbelieving, even as Gojyo moved to where he stood, putting them face-to-face. There was fear in those sunset eyes, fear and foreboding and uncertainty backed by determination and just a hint of wonder--
Hakkai didn't question the request.
It was more than he would have expected from Gojyo so soon.
He swallowed, mouth dry, inhibition taking hold of him suddenly--the first kiss was spontaneous and almost reflexive, not really realized until it was done. But to kiss Gojyo deliberately...
His heart thumped markedly beneath his ribs.
It was very, very different.
Palms sweating, he leaned in; hesitated; gave his friend the chance to back out; leaned in again; tilted his head...
...and closed his eyes, breath bated as his lips touched Gojyo's, and pressed them softly...
His hands he kept to himself, gripping the polished wood of the rail tightly, resisting the desire to touch Gojyo's face, to trail his fingertips across those scars on his friend's cheek and down that shadowed neck. It was enough that Gojyo should let him take a real kiss, that Gojyo had asked it of him.
And then Gojyo's mouth moved against his--hesitant, careful, but unmistakably responsive, and sunlight flooded softly through Hakkai's veins.
It felt...it felt as though some forgotten memory long buried had come to light at last; as though every cell in his body sighed with the knowledge that this was how things were supposed to be.
He meant to keep it brief, he truly did, but Gojyo's awkward return of the kiss somehow bypassed his intentions completely and he found himself lingering, willing the moment to continue indefinitely while he savored each sensation. He'd never kissed anyone but Kanan; Gojyo felt so utterly different and yet still just as right, so much so that the hair at the back of his neck stood on end, and he shivered.
If he'd had any clinging doubts about what he really felt for his longtime companion, they vanished without resistance beneath the surging emotions that welled in response to the kiss being shared.
He would give his very life for Gojyo, without hesitation or remorse; would kill for him as he had for Kanan, and the consequences be damned.
Gojyo, for his part, felt as though he'd somehow channeled a raging thunderstorm into his blood and lightning now ran in his veins. The way that Hakkai kissed him--it was simple, and chaste, and utterly devoid of carnal motivations, and it turned him completely inside out. He had no choice but to reciprocate, any qualms about kissing a man momentarily swept aside by the realizations blooming deep within him.
Hakkai...Hakkai was so close to his heart, was dearer to him than any woman could ever be, that diffident kiss more deeply intimate than anything the sultriest temptress could hope to offer. Gojyo found himself falling, caught in the moment, needing Hakkai in a way he'd long ago given up hope of ever feeling.
It shook him to the core.
He kissed with an awkwardness he hadn't battled since he was a young teenager, all his prior experience somehow useless in the face of the fact that this was Hakkai rather than some random woman he was trying to seduce into bed. And the physical differences, the sameness in their height, the distinctly masculine shape of Hakkai's mouth, the firm yield of his lips, the lack of any girly perfumes--all of it only served to underscore the significance of this kiss against anything that had come before.
He reached clumsily for Hakkai, lost and overwhelmed and falling apart at the seams.
The fumbling touch of Gojyo's hands to his bare shoulders brought Hakkai back into the awkward reality of the moment. It was not clear if the other meant to push him away or simply to steady himself, but the kiss had lasted far longer than had been intended and Hakkai drew back, apprehension stealing over him now that the deed was done. He met Gojyo's gaze squarely nonetheless, and caught his breath at the look in those stunningly crimson eyes.
He could see the disbelief and denial and self-definition crumbling as Gojyo faced the irrefutable evidence presented by his own heart; could see the fear and the wonder and the shock racing through his dear friend's mind.
Gojyo stared back at him wordlessly for a long instant, clearly floored.
When he spoke at last, his words were very quiet.
A soft hint of a smile twitched at one corner of Hakkai's mouth; he could hardly have summed things up better himself.
Gojyo blinked and shook his head, hands lifting to his temples as though to hold his skull together and his sanity intact.
There was more force behind the expletive this time, but Gojyo couldn't help it. Something akin to panic was beginning to slither up his spine and seep into his brain; he whirled from the railing and stalked the brief length of the balcony, breath shallow and rapid, trying unsuccessfully to stay one step ahead of the turmoil within. Kissing Hakkai--it had been better than kissing that waitress, better than the last girl he'd landed a month or so before, better than any woman he'd kissed in a very long time--
He couldn't dismiss it or explain it away, couldn't do anything but accept it, and he couldn't deny the flood of emotion that followed that acceptance.
Damn. Shit! I...Hakkai...I-- Damn--Hakkai...when...how--why? Ah, shit--
His thoughts chased helpless circles around one another, refusing to sort themselves into any real coherence; that sense of panic rose stronger and stronger by the second, riding the rapid beat of his hammering pulse, swirling him into one last-ditch effort at denial in a futile attempt to calm himself down.
Love was not a concept with which he was at all well-acquainted; it was utterly ridiculous that he should suddenly have the word resounding in his head because of one little--
The firm warmth of Hakkai's lips against his swarmed to the forefront of Gojyo's mind and he shook the sensation away, panic and denial rising another notch.
This connection, this powerful surge of emotion incited by and focused on Hakkai--surely it was only because the kiss they'd shared was the soft and stirring kind, not the kind of hot-blooded passionate prelude-to-sinful-delights that he was used to bestowing on the women he bedded. Surely, then, if he was to kiss Hakkai in that fashion, this frightening intensity would fade and somehow life would return to normal by the time the sun rose.
He knew that it was faulty logic--weak, disjointed, and utterly backward, but desperate to cling to the last crumbling bits of his comfort zones, he acted on it regardless. He strode back to the rail in three long steps; before he quite realized what he aimed to do he had seized Hakkai by the upper arms and crushed the other man's mouth fiercely beneath his own.
Hakkai's startled exclamation was lost in the meeting.
And Gojyo kissed Hakkai, kissed his closest friend, hard and ravenously, and the unbridled perfection he'd tasted the first two times returned ten-fold, swamping his senses and dragging him under. He had no choice but to admit defeat at last and accept that he was lost. His heart and his soul belonged completely to Hakkai and had since the very beginning, from the moment he'd found the beautiful green-eyed youkai blood-soaked and gutted and dying in the rain that night, and it had taken him until now to recognize it.
Hakkai could not suppress the shiver that ran through him at the taste of Gojyo's mouth and the grip of Gojyo's hands against the naked skin of his biceps; his friend was kissing him with an aggressive desperation that he couldn't have so soon anticipated and it took him completely by surprise, flooding swiftly through his body in a warm rush of life, lighting every nerve with tingling electricity and tugging softly at his groin.
It's not just me...oh, heavens, he feels it too--
The thought sparked briefly in a flash of glad relief, and Hakkai surged into the kiss, needing to give just as much as was being poured into him.
Their epiphany lasted only a moment and then Gojyo broke off, letting go with a jerk, stepping back, making them separate once again. He turned away, tremors running through his body.
When wordsmiths speak of romance, they speak often of trembling--in fear, in anticipation, in desire. Gojyo was not trembling. He was outright shaking, the look on his face somewhere between wonder and shock with a visible wisp of hysteria underneath as he wrapped his arms around himself and fixed his friend with wide, panicked eyes.
"...Ah shit, Hakkai--!"
He took a shaky step back, and then another; then, wooden and numb, he fell to his knees, hands still locked in a death grip around his arms.
He looked like he was trying to hold himself together, keep himself from completely falling apart.
"Gojyo..." Hakkai swung up onto the railing and paused, compelled to go to the shell-shocked redhead but hesitating nonetheless, not sure quite what he ought to do. He wanted to slip down and kneel beside Gojyo, calm him, reassure him, kiss him again; somehow, though, he feared that doing so would only serve to spook his friend further. Yet just standing on his own side of the balcony, feeling so far away despite the boundaries that were fast fading in their relationship, seemed rather foolish.
In the end, he settled for remaining seated on the rail that had been between them, leaving the physical barrier eliminated while still giving Gojyo his space.
Gojyo paid him no heed, huddled stiffly in on himself, lowered face hidden by the vibrant fall of his hair, shock churning its way through him with relentless intent. It defied every dismissal he attempted to form, left him raw and defenseless in its wake as he struggled to simply accept.
Hakkai cared for him, far beyond the bounds of simple friendship.
And he, for all his shameless boasting of the women he seduced, cared just as deeply in return. There was no dismissing it, no laughing it off, no explaining it away. He cared.
He cared. For a man. For Hakkai.
Life was never going to be the same.
At long last, when the reality of the path he had stepped onto tonight began to settle from blind-sided shock into quiet resolute acceptance, he found sanity beginning to return; gradually, his borderline-hysteria began to fade and his shaking to calm. Loosening a little, he drew a few slow, deep breaths and, after several long moments more, finally relaxed the vise of his own embrace. Hesitantly, he lifted his head to look on Hakkai with haunted, wondering eyes.
Hakkai gazed back down at him, saying nothing, his face open and sincere and hopelessly affectionate, the softest hint of a fond smile lingering about his lovely mouth.
I...love him. The thought drifted unbidden into Gojyo's mind with quiet conviction, gentle yet firm, silencing the last of his doubts despite his long-held opinion that words like that had nothing to do with him.
His eyes fell away self-consciously; distracted and still a bit uncertain, he glanced aside at the softly falling rain, focusing on that natural calm a moment or two before letting his gaze return to Hakkai.
Hakkai said nothing still, giving him all the time in the world.
Gojyo found himself wondering how he had ever overlooked the bond between them, how he had managed to dismiss it as simple friendship, how he had ever mistaken what Hakkai meant to him as anything other than what he now recognized it to be. "How...how did I not see this?" he asked at last, quietly, raking his hands back through his hair in an absent, distracted gesture.
Hakkai shook his head slightly, that hint of a smile broadening the tiniest bit. "You had no cause to look for it," he answered gently, captivated by this all-too-rare unobstructed view of Gojyo's face. "We had no cause. The possibility never occurred to me, either, but tonight...it...well, somehow, it's become quite unavoidable!"
Gojyo stared at Hakkai a moment more, then released his hair and dropped his hands with the faintest shake of his head. "I had no idea I was so blind," he said, mostly to himself, a pale hint of regret in his tone. He shifted, rocking back on his heels and rising smoothly to his feet, arms folding loosely across his stomach as his gaze slid sideways to the rain again. After a brief moment, he turned and leaned once more against the rail, still watching the summer downpour, and shook his head. "Damn. All my years bragging about the ladies and it turns out I fall for a man--Goku's never going to let me live this down."
Hakkai couldn't help a chuckle at that, even as something melted within him to hear Gojyo--Gojyo, of all people--admitting to emotional attachments aloud. "Perhaps...I think Goku does not necessarily need to know, if that would make you more comfortable," he offered. "Nor anyone, for that matter, really..."
Gojyo shook his head again, the corner of his mouth quirking upward. "No sense sneakin' around in secret, really--he's a smart little monkey; he'd figure it out soon enough. Not much that gets past Sanzo, either--we'd just piss 'em off if we tried to hide it."
"Ah. Yes, you're right," Hakkai agreed, amused, turning his head to follow Gojyo's gaze out to the soft patter of the rain. He considered sliding down, moving to stand next to his friend, bring them comfortably closer; he remained where he was, choosing to let Gojyo be the one to dictate the pace of acceptance.
As if on some unspoken cue, Gojyo found the nerve in that moment to turn and face him at last.
Hakkai looked up, and met that somber gaze, and fell into those singular dark crimson eyes, eyes that reminded him less of blood these days and more of...of a fine red wine, rich and intoxicating...
Tentatively, Gojyo reached up, not quite touching Hakkai's face; then, carefully, he slipped the eyepiece gently out of place and tucked it into his own pocket.
"It's you, y'know. You're...what I was missing..."
The tender, hesitant wonder in Gojyo's voice sent a shiver of quiet contentment down Hakkai's spine; his lips curved softly in a warm smile of shared discovery as he spoke in return.
"And you have given me...the most agreeable memories to attach to this rainy night, and I truly..." He searched for the right words, words that would express what he felt without sounding clingy or sappy, even knowing that Gojyo would understand the significance regardless. "I do appreciate that."
Gojyo cocked one eyebrow, a hint of the usual lascivious mischief returning to his tone. "Maybe next time it rains, then, I can...ah, give you more to appreciate..." It couldn't be helped that he tripped over saying it, unaccustomed as he was to making such blatantly propositional remarks to any man, much less Hakkai.
But he found, as Hakkai stilled and looked at him, coloring faintly in return, that he meant it wholeheartedly.
Hakkai blinked at last, the blush fading. "Ah...well! There's no rush," he said lightly, and flashed that sunny smile, a thread of amusement laced beneath his tone. "But I think that I would like that."
"Heh." And for once, Gojyo didn't know what else to say.
And maybe, he thought, as Hakkai gazed down at him, and lifted a hand to gently run the pad of his thumb along the scars on Gojyo's cheek, maybe there really weren't any more words that needed to be said.
Hakkai lingered over the touch, indulging the compulsion to lavish tender kindness on the badges of tragedy that marked Gojyo's face, grateful that the other should let him do so and finding himself wishing absently that Gojyo would cut his hair as he had done before and stop hiding that lovely countenance from the world.
And then, finally, there was nothing left to do but kiss him again and Hakkai lingered over that as well, letting his fingertips slide softly down beneath Gojyo's ear, threading them into the scarlet silk they encountered as they curved behind that slim neck and tilted Gojyo's face up to his. He savored the touch of those full, willing lips, the warm taste of that mouth, lost himself in the newborn wonder of friendship-turned-deeper that twisted his stomach in an entirely delightful manner and made him feel more gloriously alive than he had in a very long time.
Hakkai's perch on the rail gave him the height advantage, but Gojyo found that it really didn't bother him as he would have expected it to. Nothing about Hakkai made him feel girly in any way; the hand cradled behind his neck was comfortable, gentle, and utterly welcome, somehow adding to the soft beauty of the lips tasting his. Somewhere deep down, he could almost feel that subtle hollow ache that had been growing unnoticed for so long within him beginning to fill and fade, supplanted at last by the desires and emotions that Hakkai had revealed with his confessions and his kisses.
Gojyo kissed him back, matched his unhurried affection, settled warm hands at the curve of his hips to pull him marginally closer; together, blissfully oblivious to the world beyond their balcony, they embraced the changes wrought by the night, softly devouring one another's mouths while the rain pattered blithely against the roof overhead.
And in the darkness of Hakkai's abandoned room, Hakuryuu watched sleepily through the still-open door as they ended the kiss at last, as Hakkai's arm curved to hold Gojyo's head close against his chest, as Hakkai's head bowed and his lips came to rest softly against Gojyo's hair, as Gojyo's eyes closed in an expression of contented weariness and Gojyo's arms slid that much closer about Hakkai's waist.
With a satisfied air, the little dragon blew a soft snort of drowsy amusement through his nostrils and laid his head down again, scarlet eyes blinking closed as he settled in to truly sleep at last.
All in all, it really was high time that the two of them should have figured things out.
EDIT: Updated 5/12/05 - scattered revisions resulting from spending a year in the fandom
EDIT 5/26/06 - More scattered revisions for character etc. from two years in the fandom! ^_^;
Go to || part 2 || Home