- Title: The Gamble
- Author: Torre85
- Pairing(s): Hakkai/Gojyo
- Rating: NC-17
- Summary or description: Hakkai has a secret that'll change everything
- Disclaimer: I do not own Saiyuki.
- Website: http://www.fanfiction.net/~torre58 or http://torre85.livejournal.com/
- Warnings: spoilers volume 8 and 9
- Note: Thank you sharpeslass for the beta!
Hakkai had a secret that he desperately wanted to tell Gojyo. He'd been meaning to tell him, ever since the ikkou went to retrieve him from Kami-sama, but the opportunity never presented itself. After nearly losing their lives to confront Kami-sama for the second time, Hakkai was determined to tell Gojyo his secret the first chance he got. Unfortunately, both he and Gojyo were worse off after the second confrontation, and they stayed in separate rooms. On top of all that, Hakkai had a fever probably due to infection. Sanzo was his roommate and had initially played his nursemaid, since his injuries were the least serious. Although, Hakkai was grateful for Sanzo's generosity, he was not his first choice as a caregiver. Sanzo was neither the gentlest nor the most attentive person he knew. He would kick the bed to jolt him awake early in the morning with a curt, "Wake up. Dressing change." He would then proceed to roughly unwrap and rewrap bandages as if Hakkai were a turkey trying to escape from the chopping block. Then he would sit back on his bed to smoke, read the newspaper, or stare out the window for most of the day, often forgetting to feed himself and the others.
Whenever Hakkai mustered enough energy to remind him that nourishment was also a necessary part of recovery, he would always returned with the same thing; bland rice gruel from the inn's kitchen. It was a relief when Goku took over his care a few days later. Although the dressing change was just as rough, if not rougher, than Sanzo's, he received plenty of food with much more variety, since Goku preferred to buy food from the local restaurants. It was when Goku had gone to buy lunch one day that Hakkai attempted to leave the room and see Gojyo. His efforts were immediately curtailed by Sanzo who stood towering and glaring above him.
"You're the worst off of all of us, and I need you to heal so we can go," reasoned Sanzo.
Hakkai couldn't argue with his logic or the wave of dizziness that came over him as he tried to stand. He lied back down, turned to the wall and fell asleep, exhausted by his over exertion.
He dreamt he was underwater, the sound of roaring current working against him echoing in his ears. Gojyo walked in front of him as if he were on land, his hair dull and soft looking underwater. Hakkai struggled to reach him against the current, but when he was within grasp; he disappeared only to reappear further upstream. Each time Hakkai got close, Gojyo disappeared. This went on for some time; when he was sure he would go mad from the futility of his efforts, there was nothing. No Gojyo or water or river floor, just darkness and a voice whispering his name. Gojyo's voice, he realized, and it overwhelmed him with a tremendous sense of joy. He felt a different set of hands on him and knew instinctively that they were Gojyo's, handling him as if he were something precious. His presence was so near, it surrounded him, rich and sensual. It was intoxicating, and it lulled him into a dreamless sleep. When he regained consciousness, the redhead was there to greet him.
"Hey, sleeping beauty. 'Bout time you woke up." Gojyo was sitting, shirtless, straddling a chair as he leaned over its back. He grinned warmly and then took a drag from his cigarette.
Hakkai's heart skipped as he propped himself up on an arm that was still shaky and weak. "Gojyo!"
This was my chance! he decided, but he discovered that the words wouldn't coming out. He was nervous, he supposed. His secret would most likely change everything, and although he was prepared and ready for this, change, good or bad, was enough to make anyone nervous.
"God dammit, Kappa! I told you not to wake him." Sanzo's curt voice startled Hakkai and pulled his attention to the rest of the room. Sanzo was wearing his reading glasses and sitting in the chair at the far side of the table with a newspaper in his hands. Goku was sitting on the other bed with Hakuryuu on his lap. Dirty dishes lay upon the table and it was dark outside. They must have just finished dinner. The light from the oil lamp flickered and cast long shadows across the room and along Gojyo's smooth, tan skin, which pulled and stretched as he flicked ash into the empty plate on the table.
"Hey, awake is good. And his fever's gone. So how 'bout a 'thank you, Gojyo, for keeping him alive'? You assholes had him at the brink of death before I came along," Gojyo retorted.
Sanzo raised the newspaper between him and Gojyo, letting out an irritated "tch."
"Thank you, Gojyo," offered Hakkai and smiled genuinely.
Gojyo turned to regard him; his eyes seemed to sparkle in the dim room. "No problem, man. Reminded me of old times." He patted Hakkai on the knee. It felt good, and he wished for more.
Maybe a dressing change? he thought mischievously; however, when he looked down at himself, he realized that the gauze had been removed and his wounds had already healed. He must have been asleep for a long time.
Gojyo slipped on the leather jacket hanging behind a chair across from him. This alerted Hakkai and he jolted upright. "Where are you going?" he asked, hurriedly.
"With you all better, the slave driver will want us out of town tomorrow morning and who knows when the next town will be. Gonna see if I can get a date," Gojyo responded as he stood.
Hakkai opened his mouth to protest, but Sanzo beat him to it. "We've been in this town long enough, and I don't need you inviting more trouble. Goku will go with you."
"What?!," protested Goku and Gojyo at the same time.
"I can't pick up chicks with the kid around. It's so uncool," Gojyo explained
"Like I'd want to watch a perverted kappa pick in action!" Goku exclaimed, standing up from the bed abruptly, causing Hakuryuu to fly up.
"You're sleeping here, tonight. Like I said. No more trouble." Sanzo said the last part slowly as if he was speaking to a child then pulled up the newspaper, ending the discussion. Gojyo stood and gawked at him.
"Gojyo," Hakkai pleaded softly but firmly. "I agree with Sanzo. Just for tonight. Okay?"
Gojyo turned and regarded Hakkai again, pausing as if to make a decision. "Fine! Whatever." He strode to the door. "You guys are hampering my sex life, you know. Come on, Monkey."
"This blows! And don't call me that, Kappa!" Goku reflexively retorted. He turned to Hakkai before leaving. "I'm glad that you're all better, Hakkai" he said, and then followed Gojyo, the door closing softly behind them. Hakkai studied the door for a moment. It was fortunate that he had not recklessly blurted out his secret with Sanzo and Goku as an audience. It would be best if he spoke to Gojyo privately.
It was just as he was wondering when his next opportunity would be that he felt like he was being watched. "You're planning on telling him, aren't you?" Sanzo commented, gravely.
"How-?" Hakkai started then thought, Of course, Sanzo knows. He notices everything. He looked away from Sanzo's gaze and studied the bed sheets in front of him. The flickering light over the smooth surface reminded him of the dunes during sunset. "Yes," he whispered.
Sanzo folded his paper and placed it on the crowded table and set his glasses on top of that. "And what do you hope to accomplish?"
Silence answered him, because Hakkai couldn't. He wasn't sure himself why he needed to do this. After all these years, why now? "Do you think it'll keep him from running off, again?" Sanzo continued.
Yes, Hakkai thought. He wanted to believe it, at least.
"Idiot," snapped Sanzo. "It will only succeed in pushing him away."
It was a harsh reality, and Hakkai flinched at Sanzo's words. He was right, of course. Hakkai had known it all along, which was precisely why he hadn't told him after all these years. But it had tormented Hakkai when Gojyo had left on his own to meet with Kami-sama. He wondered if Gojyo would have acted so recklessly if he had known how Hakkai felt about him. "I need to do this, Sanzo," he resolved.
"Are you so selfish? You said it yourself. We need all four of us to accomplish this mission."
"I am, Sanzo." And then he smiled to himself. "I always have been." Would he be endangering the world with his simple, selfish act? If he was, so be it. He looked up at Sanzo, who had not averted his intense gaze. "Are you forbidding me?"
The edges of Sanzo's lips lifted. "Che." He picked up his glasses and settled them on his nose before snatching up the newspaper and opening it with a snap. "Do what you want. I'll be going to India with or without you morons."
The next day after breakfast, Hakkai asked if Gojyo would go shopping with him, to which he agreed quickly. Gojyo was bored and the bars weren't open that early in the morning. The sun warmed his scalp as he strolled with Hakkai through the market. The scent of fresh meat and produce was heavy in the air. Hakkai was acting oddly for some reason, tense and distracted. When Gojyo asked him about it, he denied that there was anything wrong. But there was obviously something wrong. Most anyone else wouldn't have noticed, but Hakkai wasn't fooling Gojyo. However if Hakkai didn't want to talk about it, he wasn't going to push it.
Instead Gojyo observed the people around them. The market was crowded with women carrying their babies, vendors advertising their goods, and the drone of chatter. Gojyo enjoyed it. He loved being around other people, and in this little journey he had come across a lot of interesting ones. Gojyo spied a group of men, cheering together next the wall of a restaurant. It must be a game of chance.
"Hey, Hakkai," he said. "I'm going over there. Come get me when you're about to go, 'kay?" He was about to turn and leave when he noticed something in Hakkai's expression. It was the expression he wore right before he faced a deadly opponent or when Gojyo neglected to put his shoes away. He wondered which side of the spectrum it would be this time. "What?" he asked, concerned. "What is it?"
They stood there for awhile, neither of them saying a word. Hakkai was underneath the awning of a vegetable stand; gnats lazily circling behind him as a breeze ruffled his dark hair and silk shirt. He seemed to be struggling with something, and Gojyo wished he would just spit it out already. Whatever it was, he knew they could figure it out together. Then, Hakkai suddenly smiled and chuckled to himself. "Nothing," he reassured Gojyo as he shook his head. "Go enjoy yourself." He then dismissed him by turning to study a stack of ginger roots.
Gojyo stood there for a moment, hoping that Hakkai would change his mind and tell him anyway, but Hakkai just continued to ignore him. Gojyo shrugged. "Okay," he said hesitantly before turning to join the game.
It was a three card shuffle. A rough-looking man with a bandana and sparse facial hair growing around his lips shuffled three cards on top of a wooden crate. The object of the game was to guess which one was the jack. The guy was quick, but Gojyo discovered how he was able to misdirect the audience as to its location. It was crowded around the man, with everyone vying to be the next one to guess. By the time Gojyo reached the front to throw his money down, Hakkai was tapping him on his shoulder.
"Come on. Sanzo will be worried." Gojyo was pretty sure that Sanzo would not be worried. More like pissed if they took too long, which was worse, so he didn't protest. Gojyo picked up the shopping bags that Hakkai handed to him and then followed him through the crowd back to the hotel.
Nothing much happened after that. The four of them packed and were soon on their way. Being on the road was even more uneventful. No demons attacked them nor did they discover any damsels needing help, just an endless stretch of dry, packed dirt and craggy, towering rock formations that looked like they were about to topple over. It was boring. So, to pass the time Gojyo teased Goku as usual, which soon turned into a brawl that ended with gunshots and a paper fan whack from the front seat… as usual. However, what was unusual was Hakkai, who did say a word throughout the whole exchange. Gojyo could tell that something was still bothering him, and he wondered if he should start getting worried. Gojyo didn't really care what it was that was bothering his friend, but he wished he would talk to him about it. Seeing Hakkai in such a state was starting to make Gojyo feel uncomfortable.
By sunset they had reached a cool, dark forest. Hakkai parked Jeep by a small creek that was bubbling over its stony bed. It was a nice area with very little overgrowth, some bushes and a patch of grass by the water. Gojyo and Goku set up the tent on the grass. Hakkai started a fire and made beef stew and rice. After Gojyo and Goku finished with the tent, they played cards to pass the time while the food was cooking. Hakkai handed Gojyo a steaming bowl, and he ate it quickly so that he could help himself to another serving.
After washing the dishes, they sat, satisfied, by the fire, smoking and talking. It was a quiet, windless night. Even the forest creatures were unusually silent. It was on the cooler side, but not yet chilly enough to be called cold. Gojyo offered a game of cards and Goku and Hakkai agreed. Sanzo turned himself early, as usual. The three of them played a few hands of poker, being careful to keep it down for their sleeping companion. However, Goku's inability to control his energetic outbursts would occasionally cause Sanzo to yell obscenities their direction. After a while, Goku tired himself out and retired to the tent. Gojyo was getting tired himself and stood to join Goku.
"Wait, Gojyo. Are you really satisfied with leaving as the loser?" challenged Hakkai. With Hakkai's skills and luck, there really wasn't any other choice, but Gojyo stifled a yawn and sat back down again.
"I see you're looking for an ass whipping, pretty boy. Okay, then. Just don't start crying when I take away all your money."
They played for hours, and each time Gojyo lost but he did noticed that there was something different about Hakkai now that they were alone. He seemed distracted. His normally unreadable facade was breaking, and Gojyo caught a hint of him maybe bluffing. He needed a few more rounds to confirm what he thought he was seeing. If he could recognize it when Hakkai bluffed, then he could accomplish the impossible; he could finally beat Hakkai at something! He had lost all his money a long time ago and was now betting chores. Hakkai already had him doing dishes for the rest of his life, but he could feel the win coming any minute and when it did he was going to bet it all.
"Full house," Hakkai announced, showing Gojyo his hand by the light from the campfire.
"Dammit!" exclaimed Gojyo. "Another one. I almost had you that time."
"Okay," responded Hakkai as he picked up the cards and started to shuffle. Hakkai handed him his cards, a pair of jacks and the rest were an assortment of hearts. One of the jacks also fell into that suite, which meant he was only one card away from a flush. He could play it safe and keep the pair, but Gojyo was never one that played it safe. He was about to trade the other jack but hesitated. If the card he received was not a heart, he would have nothing. The hesitation was brief, barely a minute, but it made him nervous for some inexplicable reason. He handed Hakkai the jack, and Hakkai gave him his card; a heart. Yes! He had a flush.
He concealed his expression and studied Hakkai's. And that was when he saw it; the iris shook a little as if he was forcing himself to keep their gaze. Was he bluffing? Hakkai placed his bet. Deciding it had to be a bluff, Goyo bet it all.
"Flush," Gojyo announced, showing Hakkai his cards. This was it, the final hand. There was nothing left to lose.
"I'm sorry, Gojyo," Hakkai apologized, not looking regretful at all. "Full house, again."
Gojyo blanched. That was it. There was nothing left. He sighed and sat back. "Dammit, Hakkai. I just can't tell when you're bluffing."
Hakkai picked up the cards and started shuffling. "Maybe this is the wrong game for you, Gojyo. You're pretty obvious."
"No. I can fool others, just not you. But you might have a point. We should play something else." Gojyo started to think of his strengths and Hakkai's weaknesses. What would Gojyo be able to beat him at?
"What about blackjack?" Hakkai suggested.
"No. No more card games," said Gojyo, thoughtfully. It needed to be something where luck wouldn't be a factor. And nothing that would require intelligence either, like riddles and shit. Hakkai would eat him alive in that department. Gojyo was good at grappling. They could wrestle like he did with Goku. He looked over at the man sitting properly, even on a log with his monocle perched on his nose. No, he couldn't ask Hakkai to do that.
"Then what? We need four players to play mahjong."
"I know!" Gojyo declared. "We can race!"
Yeah! With Gojyo's long legs, he could easily outrun Hakkai, no problem. "The edge of the forest is what? About half a mile east, right? The first one there wins. If I win, I get everything back, but if you do you can have…" What? He had nothing left, except for... "…my pride!" he announced.
"Gojyo, I don't think-"
"Ready, set, go," called out Gojyo and he bolted up and started sprinting.
"Wait! Gojyo!" Hakkai's voice was already muffled by the rush of air as Gojyo headed down the packed dirt road. It felt good to let go and give it his all. He felt alive. "Gojyo! Please!" he heard Hakkai yell behind him. Gojyo grinned to himself. There was no way Hakkai would win if he wasted his breath yelling.
Hakkai ran like his life depended on it. Just once, he wished Gojyo would think before he did these things. Running down a deserted forest road in the dead of night was far from well thought out. There could be demons. There could be crazy humans who prayed on idiotic hanyous who had apparently lost their minds.
"Gojyo! Please!" he tried again, but his words only seemed to make Gojyo run faster. The full moon lit their path and made the forest seem haunted and dead as if he was running in the spirit world, chasing after a red ghost with his hair flying behind him like a dying flame. Gojyo had gained so much distance, it was only a matter of time before the night completely snuffed him out and he was out of sight. No, Hakkai couldn't let that happen. He reached for his limiters and paused briefly before pulling them off and dropping them onto the dirt road. He felt the surge of power course through his body. He felt his legs start to fly as if they were made of light. The distance between them started to close and the redhead's figure became larger and larger.
Right before the opening where the forest met the desert, Hakkai leaped and tackled Gojyo. He heard the air rushed from Gojyo's lungs at the impact as he hit the ground and the dust floated to settle on their clothes and hair. The trees thinned out and the flat wasteland of dry earth stretched out beyond. The rock formations silhouetted against the night sky. They lay there for a moment, Hakkai poised over Gojyo, their chests straining to catch their breaths.
"Geez, Hakkai. I didn't say tackle me," Gojyo finally complained.
Hakkai roughly turned Gojyo over and straddled him. He grasped his upper arms and started to shake him. "What were you thinking?! You could have been attacked!"
Gojyo's eyes widened and his jaw dropped. "Ah, Hakkai, why did you take off your limiters?"
Hakkai didn't hear him. It could have been the moonlight or the fact that he wasn't wearing his limiters, but Hakkai was overcome by the sudden need to engulf Gojyo. Gojyo's scent surrounded him, a mixture of fear and lust, and Hakkai was captivated by it. His heart was still beating quickly, and Hakkai touched Gojyo's chest with a clawed hand.
"Hakkai?" Gojyo tried again, his voice shaking.
Hakkai tore his gaze from Gojyo's pulse to stare at his face. His skin was so smooth in the moonlight. Gently he reached out his hand and touched the rough ridges of Gojyo's scar. Hakkai was falling into him, and before he knew it he was kissing his soft lips. He felt Gojyo tense with surprise before relaxing into the kiss. Gojyo's arms encircled his torso, and Hakkai sunk deeper against him, probing his warm mouth with his tongue. He tasted like cigarettes and something else, something he was sure was uniquely Gojyo.
Gojyo groan underneath him, and it broke all his resolve; he needed to have more. He pulled away from Gojyo suddenly. "I'm sorry," he said quickly before his claws tore down the center of Gojyo's shirt. Pushing the fabric away, Hakkai started to lick and kiss Gojyo's bare chest, feeling the hard muscle and soft skin beneath his lips, tasting his salty sweat with his tongue. Gojyo moaned, deep and resonating in his throat. Hakkai worked his way back to the hollow of Gojyo throat, and Gojyo lifted his chin to give him access.
"Oh, God, Hakkai," moaned Gojyo, his eyes half closed. Hakkai pulled back just enough to meet the fain silver of red showing through thick lashes. They were a little brighter now with passion, looking more like a rich red wine than the crimson they normally were.
"I love you," Hakkai breathed as their lips closed in for another kiss.
Gojyo froze suddenly; his muscles tensed and twitched as if wanting wanted to recoil. Hakkai caught the reaction and paused above him, unable to move. He toyed with the idea of taking it back, laughing it off as a mistake, but decided against it. This was what he wanted. He was prepared for it. He felt Gojyo's hands firmly on his upper arms as he pushed him off. Hakkai let him, and they sat across from each other on that dirt road, Gojyo, a lone figure against the sparse desolation of the desert landscape behind him. Hakkai resisted the urge embrace him and pull him into the cool safety of the forest.
"If you need someone to have sex with, I'm your man," said Gojyo carefully. "I'll do anything for you, Hakkai. But… I don't deserve your love." Hakkai saw him then: the boy behind the man with the large red eyes and the band-aid on his forehead, standing alone in a darkened room, the boy that begged for love, but got only cuts and bruises in return, the child that was left behind with his mother's corpse, because the only one in the world that loved him didn't care enough to stay when he needed him the most. "I… can't accept it. I'm sorry."
Hakkai had known that Gojyo would say that, but it still stung to hear it. Hakkai swallowed hard and focused on the next task at hand. It was important that he choose his next words wisely, since this was the point where Gojyo might start to run. Hakkai inhaled softly, relaxing his muscles so as not to make any sudden movements. He wished he hadn't dropped his limiters somewhere back down the road. Hakkai knew Gojyo was nervousness. Even without his heightened senses, he would have recognized it, and he knew his appearance was only making it worse.
He smiled at his friend, keeping his lips sealed so as not to show his fangs. He said, "I understand."
Gojyo watched Hakkai warily. He started to button his leather jacket over his exposed chest. "So…" he wondered, hesitantly. "What now?"
Hakkai stood and offered Gojyo his hand. Gojyo hesitated as if trying to decide something before taking it. He stood and began patting the dust from his clothes. His arms then fell to his sides, as he looked around uncomfortably, as if there was something important he needed to get done. Hakkai watched him silently put himself back together, waiting until the other man had nothing left to search for in the dust dirt before he spoke. "Gojyo, will you continue to accompany us to India? I know it will be uncomfortable for you, but I don't think we will be able to do this without you," Hakkai asked. He needed to know Gojyo's intentions. He wouldn't be able to stand it if Gojyo decided to disappear without a word, which he knew he would if he didn't ask.
"That's really not a good idea, Hakkai. I would like to, more than anything, but…"
"Gojyo, if you're concerned about me, you don't need to worry. I'm very good at controlling myself… Just with my limiters off it's a bit challenging at the moment."
Gojyo grinned. "Well, I am hard to resist."
Hakkai laughed and hoped it sounded convincing. Gojyo seemed to relax as a result. "So, will you stay with us?" Hakkai asked hopefully, resisting the urge to add "with me."
Gojyo paused, looking at the ground. "I need time to think about it."
Time to think. This was something unexpected. Gojyo never thought. It wasn't that he was stupid just that he always made decisions quickly. The fact that he needed to think meant something. Maybe they still had a chance, after all. "Of course," Hakkai responded in kind, maybe a little too eagerly.
They started walking back down the road, the forest a dark guard on either side of them. The sun had not yet risen over the horizon, but the sky was already starting to lighten. Hakkai hoped he could get at least an hour of sleep before he needed to drive again. Gojyo kicked at a rock and watched as it bounce in front of him.
"Um, Hakkai," he spoke, hesitantly. "Did I win?"
Hakkai smiled sadly as he watched the shadows disappear from their path. "Well, I certainly didn't."
Hakkai only had a couple hours of sleep, before he decided to wake up and start his day. Gojyo and Goku were still sleeping. Goku's arm was flung across Gojyo's face and he looked irritated at this even in his sleep. Hakkai gently moved Goku's arm. Goku gave a snort, and Gojyo turned to his side, causing a lock of his hair to fall over his nose. Hakkai moved it and studied the gentle lines of his face. Gojyo really was a handsome man, and he had to resist the urge to touch him.
Hakkai sighed. Maybe someday there would be nothing to stop him. He stood up and pushed the front flap of the tent to the side. Sanzo was already awake, sitting on a stone and staring at the ashes of last night's fire with a cigarette in his hand. "Good morning, Sanzo."
Sanzo grunted his response and did not look up as Hakkai walked by him to the stack of wood that Goku had chopped the other day, short bricks of wood. The short, roughly chopped chunks scratched his palm as he selected a few pieces and brought it to the fire pit. He took the time to dust his silk shirt clean after dumping the load.
"Did you consummate your undying love, last night?" asked Sanzo, dryly.
"If only that were the case," said Hakkai. "No, I was rejected."
"Che," he scoffed as he blew out a puff of smoke. "You can do better."
Hakkai stacked the logs one by one into a pyramid and studied the ashy bark. "I'm not sure I want to do better." He stood up to look for yesterday's newspaper to use as kindling.
"So, will we be dropping the kappa off in the next town?"
Hakkai found the paper in Jeep. He took a page of it and rolled it up, bringing it to the fire pit. "I don't know. He said he needed time to think about it." Hakkai poked the paper at the base of the pyramid then reached behind him to take the lighter that Sanzo was offering him. He lit the newspaper and watched the fire eat it up.
"Hm," commented Sanzo and blew out another cloud of smoke. He fell silent and remained that way for sometime but that didn't mean the conversation was over. Hakkai could feel his violet eyes boring into his side. "Was it worth it?"
Was it worth it? Endangering the friendship that he had come to rely on, to depend on, literally, as a life support? To enter the future uncertain for the slight possibility that he might someday have Gojyo completely, without their pasts interfering with what they could have? Was it worth it?
"Yes, Sanzo. At least he now knows I love him, and that's a start."