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Gojyo had smoked his last cigarette. The pack was forlorn and empty, with only the barest shavings of tobacco lodged at the bottom. It was a sad thing. He was sober and sore and without nicotine to temper the condition. So he lay back and tried to take a nap, with the sound of soft rain pattering on the roof and the throbbing ache of a headache pounding behind his eyelids. Nothing like being headshot to make sleep come hard. Drunk and sated, he'd fallen asleep right easily last night. Sober and uncomfortable, every time he shut his eyes the room rocked. He cursed Sanzo under his breath and stared out the window. Well, maybe he ought to ease up on the curses. Sanzo might have shot him, but he'd damned sure eased the twinge between Gojyo's legs as a result. It felt good not to be aching for it. To be sexed and satisfied and redolent. It had been a long time.
He languidly ran his hand down between his legs, rubbing his thumb along the soft flesh of his cock. It responded a little, the blood rushing down the length in anticipation of a little hand-induced indulgence. He slipped his fingers between the slit in his boxers, visualizing Sanzo's blonde head bobbing between his legs.
It had been a brave thing on his part, Gojyo half grinned to himself, to let Sanzo's teeth anywhere near his most precious of body parts. But bravery in the face of danger paid off. He snickered, amused with himself and thought about going down stairs and seeing if he could bum a smoke off of the innkeeper or one of the girls. He didn't think they sold cigarettes, only booze. The booze wasn't a bad idea, either. If he couldn't find the one, the other might do.
So he got up and pulled on his pants and walked downstairs bare footed and shirtless. It was almost supper time and the smell of something simmering in the kitchen filled the main room. There was one other patron sitting sipping beer by the low burning fire. An peddler by the look of him. The girls were sitting at the table closest to the kitchen door peeling root vegetables, chatting amongst themselves. They didn't have a hell of a lot of reason to be friendly, considering that Sanzo had had them thrown out of their room in the middle of the night, but Gojyo decided to amble over anyway and try his charm.
He was halfway there when the door burst open, letting in rain and wind and a group of wet men. Gojyo gave them a cursory glance then turned away, more interested in scoring a few smokes. He almost missed the tell tale youkai features. It sort of occurred to him in an after image - - the long pointed ears and the glinting red eyes. He kept walking over to the girls and leaned against the table, glancing back under the fall of his hair to take a closer look at the newcomers. Just because they were youkai didn't mean they were necessarily trouble. If he started thinking like that, he'd be as bad as Sanzo.
Only honest youkai didn't usually burst into a place with the hilts of knives in their belts, or that feral, dangerous look that hinted they were on the hunt. They didn't usually leap across a room and jam the business end of a pike into the stomach of an unsuspecting peddler doing nothing more provoking than sitting on a bench sipping beer.
The girl's started screaming. The youkai did, as they filled the room, pulling the blades in their belts and lunging towards Gojyo and the two serving girls. Gojyo picked up the closest thing on hand, the bowl of peeled root vegetables, and flung it in the face of the nearest youkai. The ceramic bowl shattered, vegetables went flying. The youkai howled and batted them away, bleeding from the nose. The shaku jou was upstairs, which just sucked royally, since there were about a half dozen frenzied youkai between him and the stairs. He hefted a chair instead and slammed it into the face of an attacker, screaming for the girls at the same time to make a run for the kitchen, praying that the youkai hadn't come in the back way as well to cut off possible escape.
He kicked a big, shaggy haired youkai in the nuts and shoved him over into his comrades when he doubled over in pain, then scrambled to follow the girls into the kitchen.
"The door!" he cried, pressing his shoulder against it in desperation. "Find something to block the door!"
The old innkeep was standing there over his stove, wide eyed and frightened, with a butcher knife in one hand and a onion in the other.
"Damnit!" Gojyo hissed as somebody tired to kick in the door from the other side. The impact of door against his back, made his gunshot shoulder hurt like hell. Somebody stronger tried the door and Gojyo was almost jarred away from it. He uttered the foulest curses in his vocabulary. The two girls weren't being much help, huddling together in a corner and the old man still hadn't made a move.
"Fuck." Gojyo hissed and abandoned his post, leaping over a counter and snatching the knife from the old man's hand, spinning even as the door burst open and lunging back towards it, swinging the blade in an arc that took out the throat of the first man through. Blood spattered. A youkai staggered in, clutching his gaping throat. Gojyo buried the blade to the hilt in the gut of the next one in, shoving backwards with all his strength to free himself and the blade up for the next one. He was a little too slow. The blade lodged in muscle or bone and in the precious seconds he had to fight with it, a body slammed into him, and bowled him backwards. At least he kept his grip on the knife. He got it up between them in time to parry a strike from a wicked, curved dagger. He saw the shape of another one coming up behind the one straddling his hips and maybe another one behind him.
Perfect. Just fucking perfect. He wasn't up to this. His head hurt too much for this. The wounded shoulder wasn't affording him enough strength to throw the youkai on him off. He figured he was about to get skewered.
One of the ones coming into the room made a move to help the one atop him - - and quite suddenly slammed headfirst into the shelving beside the door. That action was directly related to the knob headed staff that had crashed into the back of his skull from behind. In the moment of surprise, Gojyo jammed the hilt of the knife up into the throat of the one on his chest, then kicked the gagging youkai off. The last one that had entered the kitchen was staring past him, through the open kitchen door and into the main room, with wide, suddenly frightened eyes. He should have been frightened. What had been a room full of youkai on the rampage was now a roomful of dead or unconscious youkai. That last standing one made a wise decision and took off for the back door.
The wielder of the knobbed staff gave Gojyo an eager eyed, questioning look. Gojyo swept out a hand towards the back door.
"Be my guest. Knock yourself out."
Goku grinned and surged after the fleeing youkai. Gojyo sat there, sprawled on the bloody kitchen floor for a while longer, trying to gather the energy to get up. The girls and the old man were cowering in a corner. Hakkai had padded through the door from the main room, with a faint, worried smile on his face. There was nothing else moving behind him.
"Are you all right, Gojyo? You're bleeding." Hakkai's short, dark hair was wet and plastered to his head, a testimony of the rain outside and how recently he had come in out of it.
"Am I?" Gojyo lifted a hand to his face and felt the trickle of warm blood. He didn't think any of the youkai had gotten in that hit. More than likely he'd just broken the weak scab over the bulletwound that had grazed the side of his head. "What? This? Talk to the monk. Where's he at?" he craned his neck to see behind Hakkai even as Hakkai was offering a hand to help him up.
Hakkai frowned at him, pulling him up. "Don't you know?"
Gojyo blinked, thinking very much that something was off here and trying to get his wits about him enough to figure it out.
"I got him." Goku came bounding back into the kitchen, tramping mud and water. "Is that stew I smell? Where's Sanzo?"
Gojyo blinked again, slowly. Fuck. Looked around at the scattered bodies of youkai that had come here deliberately looking for something. They'd might not have had to come at all, if he'd have been in the shape to go with Sanzo. That innocuous little peddler in the main room might have lived to enjoy his supper, spend his night in the inn and travel on his way on the morrow. Fuck.
"You never sent that little bastard with a message." It wasn't a question. Hakkai stared, the gears clicking behind his eyes. Hakkai was sharp. Hakkai picked things up from the barest scent - - Goku, he wasn't so perceptive all the time. Oh, he was smart - - he was just easily distracted and right now there was food cooking in the kitchen and fresh bread on the counter.
"What message?" Goku wanted to know. He had a piece of bread in hand, his jaws working to grind up the half of it that he'd stuffed into his mouth. "Where's Sanzo, Gojyo?"
"In deep shit."
Awareness came back, like pieces of a puzzle slipping into place, one by one by one. Consciousness was proceeded by dull, centralized points of hurt. The one that Sanzo became aware of first, hovered behind his eyes. A throbbing symphony of pain that rebounded inside his head in time with the beat of his heart. The second started at his wrists and spiraled down to his shoulders. It made breathing come a little hard, that second pain, and it took his fogged mind a few moments to realize that difficulty sprang from the fact that the entirety of his weight hung from wrists and shoulders. First impulse was to gather his legs under him and relieve that stress. Caution made him hesitate and take account of his surroundings first.
He was inside. It was dry and relatively warm. There was the smell of wood smoke mixed with cigarettes. The strong odor of whisky and of sweat. There was the murmur of voices, the shifting of bodies. It sounded like a game of dice was in progress. He could make out the clatter of the die as they were thrown against a wall.
He tested his legs. Found that his feet reached the floor, but not flat-footed. Subtly, he gathered them under him to take the weight off his wrists. Gods, but his hands were numb. It felt like his wrists were gouged to the bone. He shifted them a little, to get a feel for what he was attached to. Cuffs, he thought with a grimace. Metal cuffs that were hooked through a rope or a chain thrown around a beam in the low ceiling. Rough wood floor under his feet. Rough panel wall facing him. A beat up, much patched couch against it. A wood stove in a corner, up on a rustic platform, with a pile of firewood strewn in disorder about it.
He didn't have his robes on. It took him a moment to register that. Didn't have his robes or his sutra or his gun - - damn. One of his sandals was missing, which pissed him off more than the missing robes.
He twisted one of his wrists a little, to see how much leeway he had in the cuffs and froze when a hand skimmed his back from behind.
"Can't fool me." A voice hissed in his ear. "Playing dead doesn't work, human, when I can hear how fast the very blood pounds through your veins."
Close enough for Sanzo to feel the heat of the breath against his hair. He slammed his head backwards, aching lump or no aching lump and felt it smash with a satisfying crunch into the face of the person behind him.
There was a curse and the sound of a body staggering back just a little before strong fingers tangled in his hair and jerked his head back so hard it felt like his neck was likely to snap. He found himself staring, upside down, into the face of a tall youkai. Long braids slithered about the youkai's neck and shoulders. Rings pierced his ears in a half dozen places and one more graced his nostril. A bit of blood trickled down from the corner of his mouth. His sharp teeth were smeared with it. The fingers in Sanzo's hair twisted, pulling hard enough to make him see stars.
"You stinking, youkai bastard - - I'll kill you." He hissed, pulling ineffectually at the cuffs. It was a bad position to be in, stretched back with his hands bound above his head, a pissed off youkai at his back and three more that he could see from the corner of his vision, padding towards him.
"You think, human?" The youkai with the braids let him go, smashing the palm of his hand hard up against the back of Sanzo's head as an afterthought.
The stars turned to dark points in his vision. It took a moment to refocus, to lift his head to see the circling forms of four youkai circling like wolves. The one with the braids moved in close from the front, not quite touching, but licking his lips in anticipation - - or maybe he was just getting off on the taste of his own blood.
"You humans are so fucking fragile. One little tap and we didn't think you were ever going to wake up. We thought we'd broken you. Would have been okay though. That's what we were paid to do. Break you. Kill you and your friends. Good money, too."
"Then why am I alive, asshole? Can't do anything right can you, stupid youkai prick." Sanzo sneered and spat and Braid's eyes widened just a little at the utter audacity, considering who was in what position here. A fist slammed into his kidneys, stealing his breath and sending lightening bright fingers of agony through his body. Oh, gods, gods, kidney punches were right up there with knees impacting with balls. Almost, at any rate. He lost his footing and hung there desperately for a few precious, gasping breaths trying to get his vision back under control and his body functioning again.
Braids was on him before he could, claw-like nails raking into his back as the youkai yanked him close, pulling his body diagonally away from how it wanted to hang from the cuffs, snaking a hand between his arms to press his fingers into the flesh of Sanzo's face.
"You're alive," Braids hissed, forcing Sanzo's head backwards, "Because you're a monk and we've never had a taste of a monk. Because you've got this pretty face and this pretty hair - - and it would be a damned waste to leave it all for the maggots without having a piece for ourselves, no?"
"Fuck - - - get your fucking hands off me!!" Sanzo growled, trying to bring a knee up between Braid's legs and not having the angle or the leverage to make much of a dent.
The others were closing in. He could see them pacing from the corners of his vision, could feel the closeness of their bodies and the heat of their gazes and their fetid breath. Predators. Hungry ones who wanted his blood and his flesh in one form or another.
Hands on his back and teeth grazing the soft flesh of his under arm between the gap of his arm warmers and his shirt. Teeth that pierced skin and drew blood, making him gasp and twist and kick out desperately, catching somebody in the shin, until one of them crouched down and wrapped an arm around his thigh, keeping the one let in check, while Braids sandwiched the other one between his own legs while his sharp nailed hand slid down the front of Sanzo's jeans in exploration.
Sanzo cursed to the full extent of his very elaborate vocabulary and hissed and twisted, but it was damned hard to get out of the grasp of four of them. He wanted his hands free and his gun within reach so bad he could envision the bullets ripping through each and every one of their faces.
"He's got a foul mouth for a monk." One of them observed. Maybe the one that had slid his hand up under Sanzo's top and was raking nails across his ribcage hard enough to make bloody furrows. The one on his knees before him rose up to try and lap the blood trailing down from those scratches.
"No!" Braids hissed, shoving the shaggy-haired, thick-browed youkai back and lunging past Sanzo at the other two in a sudden bout of what could only be called animalistic greed. "Back off! You get him afterwards. I don't share and I want him in one piece until I'm finished."
At which the others reluctantly backed off, growling and sullen, but obviously beta to Braid's alpha. Even though they outnumbered him, they'd prowl around the edges while he got his full of their prey then scramble in when he was done and clean up the scrapes. Fucking delightful notion.
"Everything about you humans is fragile, I see - -" Braid's had his hand down Sanzo's pants and those damned rough fingers were biting into the very distressed flesh nestled between his legs. A man had second thoughts about twisting to get out of that tight grasp though. A man tried not to move much at all in fear of youkai strength inadvertently ripping frail human flesh. Braids laughed, appreciating the upper hand. Amused by Sanzo's patently deadly glare. He dragged Sanzo's black top up, leaving oozing furrows of his own as he did, wrapping an arm about Sanzo's back to keep him immobile while he bent his head to sample the free flowing blood.
It hurt, when the teeth broke the skin. It made him writhe in the reflexive attempt to escape - - it made him that that it wasn't going to be a simple rape after all, but more a feast of blood and flesh and bone gnawed clean of both. It made his heart beat so hard and fast in his chest as Braid's teeth tore a new wound and Braid's mouth sucked up the welling blood that it felt like a frantic bird battering itself against the bars of its cage.
He'd rather the rape. Really, he would. That he could probably survive - - that he could pretend hadn't happened after he'd gotten himself out of this infuriating mess. Being ripped to shreds by a pack of youkai gone just a little too animalistic for comfort - - that was another thing altogether.
Goku wasn't taking this well. Goku was frantic and scared and damned pissed off. Frantic and scared over Sanzo being led into a youkai trap and pissed off that Gojyo had let him walk into it alone. Little matter that Gojyo was injured and only partially mobile himself. Getting bitched at by Goku was only slightly less irritating than getting bitched at by Sanzo. At least he expected recriminations from Sanzo.
"Stupid, stupid, fucking kappa, you shouldn't have let him go out all alone."
"Fuck you, you gibbering ape." Gojyo muttered. His head hurt too much for a full throttle yelling match with Goku. "He wanted to go. His choice! Not mine. If he hadn't shot me, we wouldn't have had this problem."
"He should have shot you, dumbass." Goku cried.
"Somebody ought to shoot you - -"
"Gojyo, please." Hakkai stepped between Gojyo's slouched figure and Goku's nervously pacing one, holding up a hand towards each combatant. "This isn't helping. Really. Its not Gojyo's fault, Goku. Even if they'd both gone, they still would have walked into a trap, if what this fellow says is right." Hakkai inclined his chin towards the bloody, unconscious youkai that had survived Goku and Hakkai's arrival and even more astoundingly survived Goku and Gojyo's interrogation.
Gojyo still had blood on his hands. The kid looked like he wanted to smash skulls in a bad way. Hakkai's smile was seriously strained about the edges.
"Gojyo, if you don't feel up to it - -"
Gojyo glared at Hakkai, then waved a hand to negate the sour look. "I'm up to it. We're just wasting time here." He felt considerably better since Hakkai had been at him. Not completely healed, but whole enough to want to stomp out and kick some youkai ass. Not to mention a few well-deserving humans.
That was a sentiment Goku could agree with. So out into the rain soaked night they went, heading in a direction gleaned from questioning a youkai who's word might be debatable at the best of times. They might be too late anyway. The objective had been simple murder. For greed's sake. The youkai had been paid to drive the human landowners out, so that the land might sell cheap. And when they had come into town and been asked to help with the growing youkai problem, they'd become targets as well. And all this violence and murder on the order of a human. Gojyo couldn't wait to rub that in Sanzo's face. It wasn't the evil, corrupt to the bone youkai that had perpetrated this - - it was a normal, mundane human man and those youkai who were doing his bidding were no worse than any human ruffian out to accomplish the same task - - only scarier to superstitious, pious human farmers.
He hoped he got the chance to spout that irony. Hoped very badly that he'd be able to get a bit of hostile and possibly dangerous response from it. Better that than the possibility of Sanzo actually being dead. A body didn't want to fathom that, no matter how much a body might have wished such a thing on previous occasions while enduring the brunt of Sanzo's ill-humor. But, not really. Hard to wish grave misfortune on something a man regularly used as masturbation material of late.
It was miles and miles down the muddy track that served as a road in Hakuryuu before they were rewarded with the lightening struck trunk of a twisted old tree that signaled the path into the forest where the ambush on Sanzo was to have taken place. On foot after that, with Hakkai swinging the beam of a halogen flashlight across the forest floor. There was sort of a path, but it was more of a derelict game trail than anything else. It was a long ways in before Goku exclaimed and pounced towards a pale bit of something half buried in the mulchy ground cover.
"Look! Look!" He snatched up the muddied, torn remnants of what looked like Sanzo's priestly robes. It was hard to tell in the dark whether all the stains were dirt or if some of them might have been blood.
"It's his. It's Sanzo's." Goku exclaimed, pressing the wet cloth to his nose. The kid had better scenting capabilities than the most adroit of blood hounds, so a body had to trust him in that.
"And here." Hakkai crouched and picked up the beaded ornamentation that Sanzo wore over the robes. A little further on was the sodden, crumpled length of the maten sutra, which left no room for doubt that these youkai were of the ignorant backwoods variety and working for nothing more than monetary gain. No youkai connected to any higher, more devious scheme would have discarded the sutra so carelessly.
They found a few other of Sanzo's things as they progressed, as if the youkai had gone through the pockets of his robes, looking for loot and thrown aside what didn't interest them. There was no monk though. It was clear that Sanzo hadn't gone anywhere on his own. Not with his belongings scattered about the woods. If they'd simply killed him, there was little enough reason to drag the body off, which meant - - very hopefully meant - - that he was alive, if not injured, and in youkai company. Of course he was injured - - they wouldn't have managed to cart him off otherwise, which left a acrid, unpleasant taste in Gojyo's mouth.
Goku claimed he could scent the faint trail of blood through the woods, so that was the desperate thread that they followed into the night.
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