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Cruel Intentions

by P L Nunn

 

Chapter Eight

 

It was damned morbid, sitting downstairs and watching the hollow eyed fear in the faces of the few townsfolk who hadn't gone home to protect their loved ones. Listening to the talk of demons and curses and death. It was even more dark and morbid in the company of the monk, who was pissy and brooding and not willing to say much of anything on any given subject. Even Goku slunk away from his company like a dog kicked once too many times. So the three of them sat in Gojyo and Hakkai's shared room, playing games of chance and finishing off the last of what Gojyo considered sacrificial food. Like the milk and cheese left on the doorstep by farmer's wives to keep the yardspirits happy. This was the same thing - - offerings to the only holy man this town had seen in more than a decade in hopes that it would turn the tide of their luck. As if Sanzo was holy. Or cared, when it came right down to it, for anything save the all important journey west.

Gojyo smoked, his back to the wall, next to the partially cracked window that let in the moist, cool air from outside and let the smoke out. Goku and Hakkai generally didn't complain - - being cooped up in rooms all too often with billowing clouds of the stuff when both Sanzo and Gojyo were in the midst of nicotine fits - - but sometimes a body remembered consideration and manners and put a little effort into practicing the both.

They weren't talking much about what they'd seen at the old woman's daughter's house. The kid hadn't gotten an eyeful of it, not tagging along with the handful of villagers who'd gone, in favor of staying and making sure the monk was all right. It was just as well. You'd never think one decrepit old lady could have wrought the damage she had. You'd never think a middle aged woman and her husband would have had so much blood inside them. Hakkai said she'd been possessed. Hakkai had stood in the center of the kitchen with his arms around himself and shivered, looking nauseous and pale and whispered that it felt the same as that cabin in the woods where they'd chased down Sanzo after the youkai had captured him. And then Hakkai had gotten the hell out of there and leaned against the fence surrounding the small yard and dry heaved a little before he regained his composure and reattached his wan, placid face for the world to see.

Even the rain hadn't really been able to wash off the stench of death. A nice long scrub at that bathhouse across the street might have been nice, had any of them wanted to stray that far from each other. The kid had his back to the wall separating their room from the monk's, his sharp ears tuned for the slightest sound of trouble there. Gojyo had the feeling that any trouble that went looking for Sanzo tonight, would get a bullet between the eyes.

The kid heard the creaking of the floorboards out in the hall before Gojyo or Hakkai did and was halfway to his feet before the door to their room opened and Sanzo stood there, sullen eyed and frowning and mostly dry. So he'd gotten tired of sulking all by his lonesome in the other room and come to grace them with his presence. Wonderful.

"You okay, Sanzo?" Goku hovered at his elbow, just asking by his invasive presence for a nasty comment or a smack on the head. Sanzo didn't react. Sanzo's eyes looked bruised, faint purple circles beneath making them seem deeper and larger than they really were. Making the whites whiter and the violet more brilliant. Gojyo might not have noticed so delicate a detail, had the monk not stood there a moment staring directly at him - - like he had a spider crawling across his face or something equally fascinating.

"Come in." Hakkai urged when the monk didn't make the move on his own.

And when Sanzo still didn't move, Gojyo asked. "What do you want?"

"You need something, Sanzo, huh?" Goku added, with much less sarcasm in his tone than Gojyo had managed.

That did it. Sanzo's eyes narrowed, his lips thinned out a bit and he snapped.

"Its late and I don't want you bumbling in and disturbing me when I'm trying to sleep. So either stay here or go to bed."

"Umm, okay, Sanzo. I was getting sleepy anyway." Goku managed a sheepish grin. He slipped past Sanzo and padded down the hall to the next door. Sanzo kept standing there, his hand hovering on the outside door knob. His eyes drifted back to Gojyo, then away.

"Well, I think I'm going to go downstairs for a while and maybe pour of cup of that tea they've got warming by the hearth." And Hakkai stood up, softly calling the dozing Hakuryuu, who fluttered over, twining about his neck and shoulders until the little dragon found a comfortable position and went back to sleep.

Gojyo narrowed his eyes, drawing a nice long drag off the remains of his cigarette and slowly releasing the curls of smoke through his nose. Oh, Hakkai had a purpose, as sure as the sun would rise tomorrow on muddy, miserable streets. Hakkai thought he was smooth, but Gojyo saw right through him and wasn't sure he liked being played - - for whatever reason. He wasn't sure he wanted the monk's company without the buffer of other people at the moment, the all too clear memory of their last conversation still bitter in his memory.

"Sooooo, what are you standing there for? I thought you were tired." Gojyo took another drag, casual and lazy and letting the sentiment drift into his voice, because to act any other way would give the monk the satisfaction of knowing that he was just a little spooked.

"I may have been - - hasty - - in some of the things I said to you this morning."

Gojyo blinked, utterly floored and trying to hide it. If he didn't know better - - that almost sounded like some sort of - - apology? No, not exactly that. More a sort of reluctant retraction of - - what? The only things they'd talked about at all that morning had revolved around sex - - or the lack thereof.

"Which things, exactly? Just so I'm clear on what we're talking about here."

A muscle in Sanzo's jaw twitched. He looked away, staring blankly at the wall, eyes narrowed to dark rimmed violet slits, thinking god knew what.

"Never mind. Forget it."

"No no nonono!" Gojyo was on his feet and across the floor before Sanzo could entirely retreat from the room. He got a hand on the doorframe between the hall and the monk and braced himself, staring with something that might have bordered on animosity in his eyes. "You came in here looking to say something - - so say it. You chased away the kid and Hakkai took the hint - - so spill."

"No hints from me. What did you tell him?"

"Who? Hakkai? Like anybody has to tell him anything."

"Bullshit. You told him that you and I - - - ?"

"Fucked? No. I told him I wanted to beat the shit out of you. Not the same thing. Anything he figured out, he did it on his own. He's sharp like that you know. Not like the kid. Not like me, huh, cause we all know what an idiot I am."

"Fine. You're an idiot. Get out of my way, I've changed my mind."

Sanzo shoved at his arm and Gojyo shoved back, got his weight behind it and forced the monk back just enough to get the door slammed shut and his back to it. "Changed your mind about what, Sanzo?"

Gojyo laughed, suddenly utterly certain about what Sanzo had come sniffing around for. "What'd you come here for? Something Goku or Hakkai can't give to you. You decide I'm not so Tedious and unpleasant after all."

"You're entirely tedious and unpleasant."

"What makes you think I would, after how you treated me, no matter how much you beg?"

"BEG?" Sanzo's eyes got round a split second before they narrowed to icy slit of merciless disdain. "Fuck you!! FUCK you, you deluded prick. I don't beg anyone for anything, least of all you and that useless piece of meat between your legs. Asshole!"

"Oh, so it was my meat you wanted?" God, but he was actually taking pleasure out of this. Like the idiots who thought it was great sport to taunt a cobra and bet on who might manage to avoid the deadly fangs. The fact that Sanzo wasn't reaching for his gun was just miraculous.

"Get the fuck out of my way."

"Okay."

Sanzo waited and Gojyo didn't budge. Sanzo's face grew a little red. There were things brewing under the surface, building pressure and preparing to erupt.

"Does it ever occur to you that maybe asking nicely would work a whole lot better than trying to bully people with your god-awful temper and your holier than thou attitude?"

"I didn't ask you for anything. Why aren't you moving?"

"Yes you did." Gojyo reached down and adjusted himself, just to make it clear what was in the offering. Sanzo's lip curled in a snarl.

"And look, he's even a little excited about the prospect, no matter what an inconsiderate, dirty monk you are. You maybe talk dirty to him some more and get him really worked up."

"Fuck you."

"Yeah, like that - - -" Gojyo rubbed his palm over the outline of his sex, and just knew Sanzo's eyes followed the motion.

"You do not," Sanzo ground out, murderous intent a little less obvious in his tone. "Have a name for it."

"Well - - not in so many words - - but it does sort of have a life of its own - - so I'm guessing he deserves a little acknowledgment."

"Stop calling it 'he', you moron."

"What do you want to call it?"

Sanzo opened his mouth, then snapped it shut, quite surprisingly flustered. Gojyo reached behind him and turned the lock on the door.

"Come over here and put your hand on it."

"What?" Offended. But not that offended. Gojyo realized with a certain amount of wry amazement that the bickering - - the down and dirty verbal fighting - - had served as some bizarre, masochistic foreplay.

"You want something from me, then put your hand on it, Sanzo."

Sanzo met his eyes, refusing to flinch from the challenge there. Absolutely refusing to back down. Hakkai was absolutely right. Part of the allure of fucking Sanzo was that once you had him under you with his legs spread and at that oh, so difficult to argue disadvantage - - then a body reveled in overcoming the challenge. In making the unshakable tremble. It didn't matter how pissed off he might be at Sanzo, as long as he impaled Sanzo's flesh and Sanzo acknowledged it.

Sanzo walked towards him, stopping close enough to feel the brush of his robe. Gojyo moved his own hand, making room for the monk's. And there, the graze of fingers over the cloth of his pants, feeling the length of him under it, pressing firmer so that Gojyo felt the intense heat of his sex tight against his lower belly. Then Sanzo was deftly unbuckling his belt, and releasing the buttons of his trousers and his cool hand dipped inside, finding hot flesh and stroking it, curling his fingers and squeezing so hard it hurt.

Gojyo jerked him forward, hands on either side of the monk's head, fingers biting into his skull, trading hurt for hurt. Sanzo's mouth opened, pink lips, pink tongue, even white teeth. Gojyo leaned down and kissed him. Nothing gentle and sweet, most certainly. There were teeth and stabbing tongues involved and that ever present battle for dominance. Sanzo's fingers spasmed on Gojyo's erection, then tightened again, not quite so hurtfully, hauling backwards, step by step towards the closest bed.

Sanzo's knees hit the edge of it and they paused, Gojyo yanking his shirt over his head and hastily kicking off his pants. All Sanzo had was the robe. Nothing on under it, just pale flesh framed between pale cloth and Gojyo impatiently pushed that off his shoulders, sliding his hand down to find Sanzo's own half rigid sex, which belied the coolness of his skin with its heady warmth. It was soft skinned, like the rest of the monk. Lily white and rose petal delicate, as one would expect of any high brow monk from a wealthy monastery that hadn't lifted his finger to do a bit of honest work in his life. Sanzo didn't have calluses on his hands. Didn't have rough pads on his elbows or wrinkles on his skin from exposure. He felt like a woman, skin to skin, save that he was hard with lean muscle and flat in most of the places that really counted. But on the inside he'd feel the same. Tight and hot and welcoming, once you got past the initial, reflexive resistance.

A body remembered just how good he felt and had to fight the urge to simply get right to it. Especially if a body wanted to prolong the pleasure.

"What are you - - doing?" Sanzo's hands tangled in his hair, preventing him from dropping down between Sanzo's legs. Gojyo looked up, chin at Sanzo's flat, white tummy, hands on his narrow hips.

"What's it look like I'm doing?"

"I don't want that. Just do it!"

It was not an invitation oft heard. Gojyo didn't think he'd ever had a partner who turned down an offer of good old fashioned oral satisfaction. Which only added to his list of reasons why the monk was a major, fucked up pain in the ass. It also got his back up. Damned if he was going to jump at Sanzo's command.

Stick it here. Pump. Grind a little. Ejaculate. Now get off and pass me a smoke. Right. In Sanzo's dreams.

"Just shut up and enjoy it." Gojyo shoved hard enough to topple the monk. Sanzo's back hit mattress with Gojyo's arms around his thighs and Gojyo's weight on his knees and Gojyo's satisfied smirk leering up at him until Gojyo dropped his head and swallowed the tip of Sanzo's sex.

He got reaction from that. Sanzo's fingers curling in the blanket, the muscles of his thighs tightening, his back arching up off the bed in a wash of sensation.

He was clean and he tasted good, his skin lightly emanating whatever subtle scent had been in his bath. A man stopped holding grudges in situations like this, with naked flesh under him and an erection so hard between his legs that it was painful. A man just let that second head take charge of things and stopped thinking much at all.

"Ahh - - fuck - - -" Was the most intelligible of what Sanzo got out, but Sanzo's body spoke eloquently enough, wanting more of what Gojyo was offering, hips thrusting upwards trying to envelope all of himself inside the warmth of Gojyo's mouth.

"Faster." That came out pretty clear and Gojyo grinned around his mouthful of flesh and pulled back to Sanzo's dismay, one hand moving up to grasp the base of his erection.

"Oh, baby, I like it when you beg."

"Oh - - fuck you. I wasn't beg - -" the priest stifled a groan when Gojyo slithered upwards, the weight of his body pressing Sanzo's sex between their stomachs, Gojyo's cock sliding hot and hard alongside his. He bent down for a kiss and Sanzo's fingers curled in his hair, halting his progress.

"Just get on with it." His eyes were so dilated that the black almost obscured the violet, but there was honest passion there. And desperation and a man had to figure - - no matter how much a man's ego might like to think otherwise - - that it wasn't merely longing for Gojyo's skillful mastery between the sheets. Sanzo had been - - gods admit it - - reduced to this tonight because of something. Maybe because of what had happened this evening - - because of things he wasn't talking about no matter that the only people that were willing to help out he was keeping in the dark. Sanzo was like that. Not a real sharing sort of guy. Which put all of them at a disadvantage now and then.

Hakkai would have asked. Gojyo was pragmatic enough to know that even if he did, he'd get shot down and probably run out of bed to boot. So he kept his silence and pried Sanzo's fingers out of his hair, pressing his hands to the bed beside his head and ignored the command, bending down to press his lips over the monk's anyway. He ground his hips, rhythmic and hard and Sanzo groaned into his mouth, matching the motion, the both of them so damned hard it was almost painful to draw it out.

"Okay . . . okay . . ." Gojyo broke away, past his endurance, and reached a long arm out for his pack at the end of the bed, spilling its contents out on the floor in a fit of desperation before he found the tube of lube that a man kept on hand - - just in case. He got a dollop on his hand and smeared it over himself and his fingers alone likened to set his nerves ablaze, and then reached back for Sanzo, who wasn't touching himself, who was lying there with his white thighs spread and his blushing cock hard and twitching against his belly, his breathing fast and hard and his lashes trembling against his cheeks. He looked wanton as hell, like some expensive pale skinned courtesan who got off on the sensation but really didn't like the sex enough to do more than lay there and take it. Which was what he'd have you believe, that it didn't matter - - that it was an ends to a means, but Gojyo knew better, being present during those moments when the facade slipped and disinterest got eaten away by lust. An no matter how fast the monk pulled the first mask back on once they were done, Gojyo had seen behind it and knew - - just goddamned knew - - that there was heat behind the ice.

He dove in while he had the chance, getting a leg up over his arm and positioning himself. Sanzo's fingers tightened on the sheets, he shifted his hips, demanding and Gojyo complied, the head of his lube slicked cock forcing its way past reflexively clenched muscle. No matter how Sanzo might want it, his body saw things differently and attempted to repel the inevitable. Gojyo slid his free hand down and stroked the length of Sanzo's erection, following the big vein on the underside with his thumb, squeezing the rosy head in his fist hard enough to make Sanzo gasp and his eyes fly open in shock. And in that moment, Gojyo got past and in, sliding into all that welcoming heat in one slick stroke.

"You - - prick - -" Sanzo breathed, shuddering, moving with Gojyo's movement, skin flushed and just beginning to perspire.

"Yeah, and you're a dirty, nasty monk. So - - fucking - - nasty - - " He got his rhythm, his feet splayed on the floor, one of Sanzo's legs over his shoulder, the other one sprawled against his hip, the monk's back curved off the edge of the bed, the bed itself squeaking and rocking back and forth against the wall. Thank all the gods it wasn't the wall connecting this room with Goku's - otherwise they'd have the kid busting down the door to see what the ruckus was and amusing as that might be - - listening to the monk trying to explain it - - he'd rather not have the interruption.

He lost track of things like thought and consideration towards the end, simple animal instinct taking over, the grunts issuing from his throat guttural and savage as he drove himself into Sanzo for all he was worth. Sanzo finally had to give up the facade - - finally let the wall crumble enough to reach for his own abandoned erection, working it with one hand while he braced the other against the wall Gojyo had pushed his head up against. All the control was gone from his face, lids half-masted and eyes gone glazed beneath them. Gojyo spurted into him, balls tight against his ass, buried as deep as he could get and wanting deeper. The tension drained from his balls and he went a little slack, leaning hard against Sanzo's leg, his body casting its shadow over the monk's, the ends of his hair tickling Sanzo's chest.

"Get - - off." Sanzo gasped. Gojyo blinked, coming back to himself a little. He pulled out and collapsed on the bed next to the monk, both their heads touching the wall, both their legs hanging off the side. There were clear droplets of ejaculate on Sanzo's pale stomach. His sex lay flaccid, nestled in its thatch of dark golden hair.

"So - -" Gojyo levered himself up onto an elbow, a grin twitching at his lips. Sanzo lifted a hand, without bothering to open his eyes and look.

"Don't."

"Don't what?"

"Say whatever moronic thing that was about to come out of your mouth."

Gojyo thought about being offended, but his body felt too damn good to put out the effort. He let the grin come on in full instead, leaning his head on his elbow and letting his other hand drift out, fingers trailing across Sanzo's flat belly, smearing the cum and making pale, pale skin glimmer. Sanzo didn't object, though his skin shivered, like a horse reacting to a fly.

"I was gonna ask, if that was good enough for you?"

"You don't have much staying power." Sanzo said dryly, eyes still shut, one palm still flat against the wall.

Gojyo blinked. Oh, that was a low blow, but there was a lazy curve to Sanzo's lips that hinted that just maybe - - possibly - - at the far reaches of chance - - it might not have been meant as a mortal insult. Gojyo leaned closer, his hand running down between Sanzo's legs, bypassing his limp cock and cupping his oh so soft balls.

"I have all sorts of staying power. I was just thinking that you couldn't take much more."

Sanzo sniffed, lashes fluttering, eyes slitting open to meet Gojyo's amused gaze. "There's nothing you have that I can't take."

"Ohhh, that's right. You are such a bad assed, nasty monk."

"Stop calling me that."

"What - - monk?"

Sanzo's slender fingers tangled in Gojyo's hair, jerking his face closer. "You know what I mean."

"Oh - - nasty monk?"

"Fuck off."

"Oh, admit it. You like it when I talk dirty to you." Gojyo squeezed his balls and Sanzo yanked his hair hard enough to loosen strands. They both winced, mutually pained.

"I like it when you don't talk at all."

"Too bad. So . . . you wanna do it again?"


 It must have been the youkai in him that allowed Gojyo the ability to recover so swiftly. And Sanzo had to admit, albeit reluctantly, that it hadn't been half bad this time - - what with Gojyo striving to prove a point. Very adamantly strident in demonstrating that he was neither tedious or unpleasant between the sheets.

So Sanzo agreed to it and got a bit more comfortable, shifting about so that they actually utilized the bed length wise instead lying across the side of it. By the time they finished the second bout, a body had to admit that the remark that Gojyo lacked in staying power had been blatantly false. Or maybe it was another case of simple determination to prove Sanzo wrong. Regardless, by the time they collapsed, shoulder to shoulder on the bed, Sanzo had little fear of restless, dream filled sleep. A smoke would have been nice, but he didn't think he could keep his eyes open long enough to finish it and dying in a burning bed was not his ideal deathwish. At the very least he ought to tell Gojyo to get up and make use of the other bed - - but even that required more energy than he had left to him, so he shut his eyes and drifted.

And came awake in a tangle of sheets and limbs as the door rattled like it was about to come off its hinges and Goku's loud voice reverberated through it from the other side.

"Sanzo, you awake? You okay in there? Why didn't you come back to our room, Sanzo? Sanzo? Sanzo?"

"Fuck." Sanzo shoved Gojyo's arm from across his shoulders, shoved the rest of Gojyo for good measure and scrambled over his lethargic, long limbed bulk to get out of the bed. He found his robe crumpled up in the pile of their mutual clothing and snatched it up. He shrugged it on and looked for the sash. Sunlight streamed through the window, casting every one of a million dust motes into stark relief.

"Sanzo? Why's the door locked, Sanzo?" The knob rattled.

"Shut the fuck up. I'm coming." Sanzo finally had to snap, and the rattling ceased, but one could just sense Goku's presence hovering on the otherside of the door, wanting in to see for himself that everything was okay. Goku and his warped sense of protectiveness could be goddamned annoying. And where the hell was that sash?

"Want this?" Gojyo held it up, having fished it out from the tangle of sheets. Sanzo glared and snatched it from his hand.

"Get dressed." He suggested and Gojyo lifted a casual brow and grinned.

"Why? The kid knows I sleep in the buff. You think he'd figure I'd change my habits just cause you were sharing the room?"

"You don't always." Sanzo snapped, trying to recall if that were the case or if the idiot were pulling his leg.

"Well, not on the road, Sanzo."

Sanzo glared and Gojyo grinned, lying back in bed, crossing his arms behind his tousled wine-red hair.

"Better go and mess the other bed." The halfling suggested as Sanzo was stalking towards the door. The monk hesitated, annoyed at himself for overlooking the obvious. Goku might be naive, but he wasn't stupid. And thinking that, Sanzo became even more pissed off by the simple fact that he was going to the trouble at all.

He took a breath and another and spun on his heel to pull the sheet and the blanket off the bed. He cast a glare at Gojyo, warning against comment, and the halfling shrugged and grinned. Sanzo flung the pillow at him and it hit dead on evicting enough of a satisfying grunt to ease some of the monk's irritation.

"So why'd you stay here last night, huh? You get drunk and pass out or something?" Goku crowded past Sanzo the moment the door was unlatched.

Sanzo ground his teeth. "No, I didn't pass out."

"Well you did, sorta." Gojyo interjected helpfully, pushing himself up, long legs dangling off the side of the bed, back the wall, pillow strategically positioned in his lap.

"Hakkai said you guys were talking. Talking about what?"

"About grown up stuff, ape. You wouldn't understand." Gojyo drawled.

Goku bristled, eyes going wide in offense. "Don't call me an ape, you lousy kappa. I'm not an ape. Sanzo tell him to stop calling me that."

"What? You walk like an ape and you smell like one, and you've got ape ears - - -"

"SHUT UP - - - " Goku howled and launched himself.

Sanzo took a breath and walked past the scuffle, not caring how many bruises either one of them got. But one had to admit, Gojyo had deftly enough shifted the focus of Goku's attention. He stalked down the hall to his room and his now dry clothing, shed the robe which smelled suspiciously like sex - - or maybe that was his imagination - - and pulled on jeans and his black top, shoved the revolver in his waist band and went downstairs, called by the driving need for coffee and a smoke.

The main room was blessedly empty, save for Hakkai by the hearth and those three decrepit, creepy old men in the far corner, doing whatever it was that men that old did to occupy their time. He sat down across from Hakkai and asked for coffee and something bland and simple for breakfast when the girl came out of the kitchen to refill Hakkai's cup.

The other two members of their party ambled downstairs before she came back, looking not much the worse for wear, and evidencing none of the scowling hostility of two people who'd just been exchanging blows. Typical. The both of them were so easily distracted it was laughable. It was a wonder they ever got anything done.

The girl brought Sanzo's coffee and a bowl of porridge. Goku and Gojyo asked for more hearty stuff, being in staunch agreement that breakfast ought to consist of as much food as they could stuff into their faces. Unfortunately that was also their philosophy on lunch and dinner. It was surprising that the both of them could fit into their clothes. They started bickering soon after though, about some nonsense that Sanzo automatically tuned out, concentrating on sprinkling just a dab of brown sugar on the porridge and mixing it in to his liking.

"So Sanzo," Hakkai asked over the argument. "Did Gojyo tell you about the bones?"

Sanzo looked up, frowning. "Bones?"

"Did you say boner?" Gojyo lifted a sly brow. He thought he was amusing as hell. Goku did and laughed, oblivious to the leering look Gojyo gave Sanzo. Sanzo gave Gojyo a narrow look. Hakkai took a sip of his coffee and waited patiently.

"Naw," Gojyo finally said. "We didn't get around to - - ah, talking about that. I forgot."

"What bones?" Goku wanted to know.

"Human bones." Hakkai said. "Dug up with one of the last rune stones to be unearthed. Someone was apparently buried under it or next to it."

Sanzo ran his fingertips about the edge of his coffee cup speculatively. "And were there bones around any of the others?"

"Not that we saw." Hakkai said.

"But," Gojyo added, serious now. "People could have taken them for proper burial - - or more likely animals dragged them off. The only reason the ones we found were still there was because they'd only recently been dug up."

"If there were - - bones by all the stones, it would make sense." Sanzo said slowly. There were things that the church didn't condone anymore, rituals and ancient tradition that were frowned upon - - things that required sacrifice - - things that bordered on the dark arts. He recalled flashes of what he'd seen in his dream. Of men around stones - - of the glint of a blade - - of the spatter of blood.

"There are certain magics - - or warding rituals that might be made stronger by sacrifice." He said slowly.

"Stronger still, priest," A voice said from behind him, accompanied by the scrape of a cane. "If the sacrifice is willing. Altruism can be the strongest catalyst of all, in some things, no?"

Sanzo blinked, half turning to stare at the old man narrowly. The three of them were shuffling towards the door. Their sagging, dark eyes unnerved him.

"How would you know that?" Hakkai asked, smiling, but there was a tenseness around his eyes that said that he was disquieted as well.

"You live as long as we have and you'll pick up a thing or two as well."

"They are starting to weird me out." Gojyo muttered.

"You're late picking up on that vibe." Sanzo watched the old men's retreat from under his lashes, the hair on the back of his neck standing on end.

"You know, they're old enough to have been around when those stones were made." Gojyo said. "Bet they know whose bones were buried under them and just aren't telling, them with all their cryptic remarks and whatnot."

Hakkai blinked, looking up and meeting Sanzo's eyes. "You know," Hakkai said slowly. "That wouldn't surprise me. Perhaps we haven't been asking the right questions of them."

"Fuck them." Sanzo said. "I'm beginning not to care what the hell happens here. Let them take care of their own mess, because we've wasted enough time here."

"It wouldn't be right," Hakkai said softly. "To abandon them to whatever evil those runestones were warding against."

"We've got business elsewhere. I'd just as well be out of here this afternoon."

Hakkai didn't look happy with that, and Sanzo couldn't give less of a damn. He was tired of strangers trying to touch the hem of his robe and staring at him like he had personally come to save them, he was tired of his nerves being tied into knots and tired of the nightmares. Why the hell couldn't people learn to take care of their own problems?

Because people are weak. And you're weak, so its probably for the best if you run. Fast and far and the problem will melt away.

"Sanzo?"

Sanzo shook his head, trying to focus on who was speaking and what it was they were asking of him. Goku had fist full of bacon and had paused in the process of bringing it to his mouth, waiting for Sanzo to answer some question that Sanzo had blatantly missed.

"What?"

"I asked if we were gonna stay for lunch, or should I get something packed up?"

Sanzo blinked. He'd missed that entirely.

"Sanzo, are you okay?" Hakkai asked.

"Yes. Yes. Get something packed. We're not staying for lunch."

 

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