Cruel Intentions: 1

Darkness. Rain so hard it hurt when it drove against bare skin. The blinding flash of lightening followed close by thunder that likened to shatter eardrums. A forest assaulted by the tumult. And youkai coming out of the woods at him like rats fleeing a sinking ship. Ready to claw each other’s flesh to shreds in order to find some sanctuary. Only they weren’t fleeing – – they were quite adamantly not fleeing anything in their storm driven madness. They were quite seriously bent on destroying him. And he was quite firmly on the road to unwelcome panic as bullets ran low and himself separated from half his group and the one that was supposed to be backing him up disappeared into the night.

He pressed his lips tight, but the occasional curse slipped past. A few denunciations hurled at Gojyo’s sorry self for that abandonment. Another bullet into the darkness at a heavy youkai body that came at him claws first. Another came at him from behind even as the one before him fell and there was sudden weight on his back and hot breath against his neck as the thing tried to sink his teeth in. Sanzo stumbled under the burden, almost went down; swung an elbow back hard into an unprotected ribcage and felt the grip about his torso slacken a little. Slammed that elbow back again until the mouth trying to fasten onto his throat drew back and howled. He brought the gun up then over his shoulder and shoved the muzzle under that thick jaw – – pulled the trigger and felt the body jerk and fall away.

Lightening flared with thunder that he couldn’t hear on its heels. Deafened from the gunshot in his ear. The world inside his head ringing with the echoes of it. His eyes seeing things that weren’t there from the too close lightening hit. Panic that for a moment he couldn’t control, himself deaf and blind in the midst of an ambush that had come unexpected.

All he registered was the shadowy slide of movement to his left, quiet enough to startle him into swinging the gun around with both hands and loosing two bullets in quick succession into the creature unfortunate enough to try him. It went down with an audible thump and he stood there, gun still hot and heavy in his hand, waiting for more.

None came. His vision slowly cleared. There was a head at his feet bereft of body. The torso lay sprawled a few yards away, a spiked club still clutched in its hand. He hadn’t seen that one approach. He certainly hadn’t beheaded it.

He swung his gaze about, blinking water out of his eyes, wiping furiously at too long bangs clinging to his face. There. A glint of silver and a body, face down in the soggy mulch. Dark hair, dark vest – – all the colors obscured by night and rain. Recognizable though.

Sanzo stood there, breathless long enough for his lungs to burn – – then drawing in air with a short, shuddering breath.

“Fuck.” He said softly. “Fuck.” Louder.

He scrambled forward, skidding to his knees on the wet ground, shoved the prone body over wondering dismally how good his aim had been, blinded by the storm. Good enough it seemed to cover half Gojyo’s face with blood – – or was that hair? No, not all of it. A good deal of blood running translucent pale with the rain.

“Stupid son of a bitch.” He railed, angry. “Come up on me in the dark when I’m shooting at fucking youkai – – you deserve to be shot. Idiot. Idiot!” He shoved at one shoulder and got no response. Slipped shaking fingers under a slack jaw and felt for a pulse. Couldn’t feel much of anything what with the ground trembling from all the thunder – – maybe his own hands shaking – – maybe not. He liked to think not. He shoved at Gojyo again, demanding response and his hand came away bloody from his shoulder.

Two shots. Two hits. Genjo Sanzo hardly ever wasted bullets.

“Fucking idiot.” Where was Hakkai when he needed him? Off with Goku, chasing rumors up the south fork while Gojyo and Sanzo had headed north after similar tales. He knew he should have opted to pair with Hakkai. Hakkai was sensible enough not to come up on a body when a body was stressed and facing numerous youkai in the dark. But they’d decided that Gojyo and Goku did not make the most reasonable of pairs. That saner heads needed to be among each pairing. So he’d gotten Gojyo somehow – – Gojyo had just sort of slithered up to him as if it were decided in the tavern in Ho-goh village, a little tipsy from more beers in the morning than he should have imbibed, a little inclined to ease up on the grudge he’d been carrying for – – oh almost a month now – – since the whole hideous affair at the monastery. Not that Sanzo cared a whit about Gojyo’s grudges. It was a boon to him that Gojyo wasn’t talking to him. One less set of lips spewing inane nonsense. It annoyed him a little that he wasn’t rubbing it in – – annoyed him that he wasn’t making it obvious – – wasn’t acting like a spoiled kid out to prove a silly point. Somehow the quiet snub was more irritating. The quiet snub meant that it was a bit more serious – – a bit more heartfelt. Not that he cared. Not that he would ever take back a word he’d said, because those words had only been the truth. Wasn’t his fault if the mongrel son of a bitch refused to see it.

The blood on his hands made his lip tremble a little bit, though. Made something catch in his throat that was unwelcome and unbidden.

“Wake up, damn you.” He yelled and slapped Gojyo’s cold cheek with the hand not clutching the gun.

Gojyo’s eyes fluttered. Right arm came up reflexively in defense. He blinked dazedly past hair and blood and rain. Focused on Sanzo looming over him.

“Fucking – – Asshole – – you shot me.”

Sanzo took a breath. Another and fixed his scowl back into place. “Serves you right. You heard me shooting. Ever occur to you to call out?”

Another set of slow blinks as Gojyo tried to collect his thoughts. “Yeah, an that would have warned the thug coming at you with the club.”

Sanzo pressed his lips tight and glanced involuntarily back at the decapitated body. Gojyo’s work.

“Next time, I fucking let you get brained – – stinkin’ monk.”

“Shut up. Get up.”

Gojyo lay there and ignored him, lifting a hand to his head, gingerly prodding through his wet hair, then his hand slid down his body to his left shoulder. He winced and glared up at Sanzo.

“You shot me twice! Twice. Once wasn’t enough?”

“For you? How about three times? Get up.” There were still things out in the darkness that wished them ill.

Gojyo tried. He really did. Managed to make his feet with Sanzo’s assistance, slouched there, wavering alarmingly until Sanzo put a hand under his elbow and hissed through the clamor of the storm.

“Pull it together.”

Gojyo managed a few steps and his knees gave way. Sanzo almost went down with him, and stood fuming over him while Gojyo quietly laughed, one hand pressed to the side of his head, red wetness running over his fingers.

“If this kills me – -” he was beginning to slur. “I’m gonna haunt you for the rest of – – your miserable – – life. Maybe into the next.”

“Its not. You whine more than any grown man I’ve ever seen.”

“Fuck you.”

“Don’t be a baby. Get up and walk back to the roadhouse.”

“I – – don’t think – – I can.”

“Well, I can’t fucking carry you, you lanky oaf!! Its only a mile or so.”

Gojyo gathered breath. Muttered darkly things that Sanzo couldn’t understand and didn’t care enough to inquire about. He managed his feet and gave Sanzo an angry, victorious glare at his accomplishment. Fine. Make a challenge of it. As long as Gojyo was walking on his own two feet, Sanzo would let him think he’d proved something.

He kept the gun out as they walked. Gojyo was leaning on his staff like an old man, his eyes hidden, shadowed pits beneath his dripping hair. Hard to see if he was coherent enough to be of any use if they were attacked again. Probably not. Probably concussed, which was a pain in the ass since Hakkai was days away at least. They shouldn’t have split up and he still couldn’t understand why Hakkai had insisted. Hakkai’s opinions on such things were generally not so – – tenacious. Which was why Sanzo had agreed – – grudgingly. Hakkai tended towards good, rational sense that the rest of them sometimes lacked. Himself included, which was a grudging and severely fluctuating admittance at best.

“Look.” He saw the road and pointed it out through the rain and the darkness to Gojyo. “See, I told you it wasn’t far.”

Gojyo muttered something shitty, which Sanzo ignored in favor of trudging ahead towards the flickering light of the roadhouse. His pounding on the door woke the old man who ran it and that cantankerous elder let them know exactly what he thought of them waking him up at this hour of the night.

Sanzo flipped him a silver coin and shut the old man up. “We’ll need our rooms again.”

“You said you wouldn’t be back for a day. I’ve already put up travelers for the night.” Came the cranky, irritable reply.

Sanzo opened his mouth, shut it and glared at Gojyo as if it were all his fault. Gojyo leaned against the wall, staring elsewhere, long wet hair striping his face, one hand over the bullet hole in his shoulder.

“Well, its raining and this idiot’s injured. We’re not going back outside.”

“You can stay in the shed with the sheep.” The old man snapped, eyes glittering with glee over that prospect.

Sanzo ground his teeth, contemplating shoving the gun under the old man’s nose. Instead he said. “I’ve got a piece of gold here that says we’ll get a dry room tonight and our old one back tomorrow.”

On old eyebrow twitched. A tongue flicked out and licked shriveled, dry lips. Greed won out over getting even for the rude awakening. “The girls can sleep in the shed. You can have their room for the night.”

“Fine. Have them bring some water and cloth before they go. And some ointment if you have it.”

The old man nodded and tottered off to oust the inn’s serving girls from their room.

“Well, that was shitty of you.” Gojyo muttered.

Sanzo swung a baleful glare his way. “What the fuck are you complaining about. You don’t have to spend the night out in the rain.”

“Better that than kicking some poor serving wench out of her bed.”

“Fine. Go sleep with the sheep. I couldn’t care less.”

“Guess not. I know what you think of me anyway.”

“What I think of you – -? Oh, you’re still on that, are you? Stubborn, blockheaded moron – – -” He was so irritated by Gojyo’s refusal to let the whole affair at the monastery go that he was momentarily robbed of adequate words. How many weeks and Gojyo still couldn’t drop it? As if what Sanzo personally thought about the state of youkai civilization – – if you could call it that – – had some bearing on Sha Gojyo himself.

He crossed his arms, back against the wall, ignoring Gojyo’s sullen stare. Gods, but his robes were so heavy with the rain that it felt like he was wearing armor, and wet jeans under those made his skin crawl. Made him want a hot bath and an hour’s quiet badly. Very badly.

“Fucking monk.” Gojyo whispered, his own back to the wall on the other side of the door, his own clothing soaked with more than rain. His arms around himself to prevent the shivering – – which came anyway. Probably as much from shock as cold.

“Shut up.” The old man came back out, with two sleepy eyed girls on his heels. They were inept at hiding their displeasure. Sanzo ignored them. He followed the old man to the back, not bothering to see if Gojyo followed on his heels or not. If Gojyo wanted to slid down the wall and sleep in the tap room – – well that was fine with him. Only he’d probably bleed out on the floor – – and that might cause Sanzo trouble – – so he glanced over his shoulder to see if the half-youkai was coming.

Gojyo was. Laboriously. He’d pushed himself off the wall, leaving a wet, bloody spot in his wake, and was staggering in Sanzo’s footsteps. If they’d had stairs to climb, he wouldn’t have made it. As it was, the staff bedroom was a little box to the side of the kitchen. Barely bigger than a closet, with a single lumpy bed and a wardrobe that had seen better days. There was a spindly table with a basin of water and a pile of clean rags.

Gojyo plopped down on the bed, slouching there sullenly with his back to the wall. Sanzo eyed the water and the rags, figuring if he could just stop the bleeding, Gojyo could last until Hakkai and Goku got back.

“You’re getting the bedsheets wet, idiot.” Sanzo said.

Gojyo gave him a look. “What? You wanna strip down, get naked, snuggle up in the buff in this little cot? Might be interesting.”

“Fuck you.” Sanzo slammed his gun down on the table, his moment of charitable thought fled. The bastard could bleed himself dry, for all he cared.

Gojyo snickered, working at pulling off his vest and the shirt under it. Trying to peer at the seeping hole in his shoulder. He prodded around the bloody edges gingerly, making a grimace. He looked back up at Sanzo sourly, blood glistening on his fingertips.

“Could have been worse, huh? You could have been on mark and I’d be in deeper shit than this. What’sa matter? The storm freak you out and fuck up your aim.”

“My aim was fine.”

“I’m alive.”

“I can fix that.”

“Yeah. Guess you could. Throw me some of those rags, monk.”

Sanzo sniffed and grabbed a handful of the cloth strips and dumped them on the cot beside Gojyo. He dug in his robes for a cigarette afterwards; lit it up while he observed Gojyo try and bandage his shoulder. The half-youkai was making a mess of the job, wincing and hissing when he’d twist the shoulder the wrong way or press into the bullet hole with his big hands.

“If you want help – – all you have to do is ask.” He took a drag of the smoke and offered up that bit of advice. Damned if he wouldn’t make the fool work for his assistance if he needed it badly enough. Damned if he’d make the first move of reconciliation.

Gojyo looked up at him, through damp, dangling hair that clung to his face and neck and bare shoulders. Those red eyes of his narrowed thoughtfully, speculatively, as if he were gauging the validity of Sanzo’s statement. As if he were gauging Sanzo, which pissed Sanzo off to no ends, being summed up inside Gojyo’s brain.

He was on the verge of saying ‘fuck off, Forget I said anything’, when Gojyo sort of half shrugged and inclined his head.

“Okay, Monk, I need your help.”

He didn’t want to give it then. Absolutely did not want to walk over there and fix Gojyo’s bandages because in the back of his mind, he’d gotten the notion that Gojyo had managed to come out on top of that little verbal, mental, ethereal battle. He didn’t know exactly how or why – – it was just a sense he got.

Of course, maybe it was him being overly sensitive. The storm had his nerves on end. He hated being close enough to lightening to feel the ground shudder from the strike. He hated the feeling of being rain blind and helpless to do anything about it. He hated the fact that Gojyo had had to take out the youkai that would have split his skull while he was busy taking out Gojyo in its stead. Stupid and incompetent of him. Yeah, he hated that most of all. His own incompetence. It happened rarely enough that when it did, it galled the hell out of him.

He went over and did it anyway, and wasn’t particularly gentle about it, but Gojyo didn’t complain, other than a few grunts and a wincing jerk of muscles when Sanzo pressed a folded wad of cloth against the wound as a compress. He was a little pale afterwards, a little shaky when he reached for a cigarette out of the pack in his pocket.

“You know,” he said, taking a long drag off the smoke, “that old man had a couple of bottles of whisky behind the counter last time we were here. Wanna spring for one?”

“Not particularly.”

“Better than sitting here stone sober all night.”

He had a point there. A painfully valid one. Sanzo flicked ash on the floor and shrugged, figuring the old man wouldn’t mind getting up one more time in the night for the price of a good bottle of whisky.

Sanzo left and Gojyo took advantage of the moment of privacy to bend over and clutch at the aching wound in his shoulder. Damned hard handed monk to treat a man so, prodding and poking and cinching bandages tight enough to cut off circulation. Damned if he’d admit the hurt. Not to Sanzo. He’d whine to Hakkai later. Complain about the cruel treatment, but Sanzo wouldn’t get the satisfaction.

He kicked off his boots and contemplated shedding wet pants – – contemplated how uncomfortable that might make the monk – – considering. Considering Sanzo had been avoiding him in certain situations lately, ever since the monastery. Sanzo was embarrassed or in denial or whatever – – Gojyo didn’t rightly care, in view of what a royal prick he was. In fact, if Gojyo hadn’t been pissed himself – – he’d have gone out of his way to remind Sanzo of – – the incident. But Sanzo could make a body want to distance itself with gusto when he put his mind to it. Sanzo could be a fucking, bloody bitch when he tried and the main problem was, Sanzo hadn’t even really been trying when he’d managed to set Gojyo’s teeth on edge, he’d just been stating the simple fact of his beliefs. That youkai – – all youkai – – whether they were the rampaging, feral sort or the decent one’s who were just trying to make a life for themselves in a world that didn’t want them – – were little more than animals and deserved whatever unjust treatment upstanding, moral humankind thought to impart upon them.

Fucking hypocritical bastard. It wasn’t like Hakkai and Goku weren’t youkai – – it wasn’t like Gojyo wasn’t half a one. He felt his blood pump hard and furious just thinking about it and out of sheer perversity kicked off his wet pants and settled back on the bunk in only slightly dryer boxers, waiting for the monk to get back with the bottle.

Sanzo did, and only hesitated a little a few steps into the room when his eyes lit on Gojyo’s shirtless, pantsless form. He had a bottle of whisky in hand and a pair of shot glasses.

Gojyo held out his hand for a glass and Sanzo tossed him one, then handed the bottle, neck first to him while he sat his own glass on the table and turned his back to take off the sutra and roll it up, then his sodden outer robes. He didn’t go farther than that, though and came back to sit down on the floor by the bed in damp jeans and shirt and arm-warmers. He held out the glass for Gojyo to pour without meeting his gaze. Gojyo downed his own first shot and let the empty glass tumble to the blankets between his crossed legs, then leaned forward to pour for Sanzo.

They had the simultaneous notion of lighting up. Sanzo’s pack was marginally dryer, protected in the folds of his robes. His matches were not the sodden things Gojyo’s turned out to be.

“You know,” Gojyo mused, a handful of shots warming his belly and making the pain of the gunshot wounds fade. “That was a damned lot of youkai in the woods tonight. I thought there was just a few rouges out there that had been hitting the farmers round abouts?”

Sanzo shrugged, noncommittal.

“What, you take four or five? I must have gotten about that number. That’s like ten or so youkai. What’s up with that? Did we just get lucky or is it more than that old village mayor thought?”

“Obviously there were more.” Sanzo said dryly.

“Wonder if Hakkai and the monkey ran across any trouble or are we the only mad youkai magnets of late?”

Sanzo snorted at that. Flicked ash on the floor since there was no handy ashtray and canted his head to look back at Gojyo. “I took out about – – lets see – – had to reload once – -” he did a little mental calculation in his head and deduced. ” – – seven. I think I took down seven of them.”

“Seven? Seven youkai and me? You were on a roll tonight.”

“They didn’t get back up.” Sanzo reminded him.

“You’re soooo fucking dangerous.” Gojyo snickered, feeling a tad lightheaded. The monk scowled at him, couldn’t hold the glare and shrugged, pouring himself another shot from the half empty bottle and downing that instead.

“You shouldn’t have come up on me like that. Remember it next time.”

“Yeah.” A body had to admit it was a lesson well learned, though Sanzo was generally more precise with his targets. Gojyo supposed it was the storm that had confused the issue.

“Won’t much forget it.” He lifted a hand and gingerly touched his head. Sanzo frowned at him, fine brows drawn almost buzzed enough, Gojyo thought, to let a little bit of guilt slip through the facade.

“You know – – an apology – – even a little, ‘hey man, sorry I shot you’, or a ‘geeze, was that my bullet that tore through your skull? Sorry about that.’ Would be the decent thing to do.”

Sanzo’s brow went up. His eyes narrowed and the cigarette went back to his lips. No such apology issued forth.

Instead what he got was, “That would mean I was sorry, wouldn’t it?”

A body had to laugh at that, since a body wasn’t up to getting up and kicking Sanzo’s ass at the moment. The laughter surprised Sanzo, who’d probably expected something snide and equally nasty in return. He downed another shot to cover it. And another, which took the bottle down to its last inch of amber liquid.

They sat in silence, listening to the tumult of the storm outside for a long while, not willing to finish off the dregs of the whisky, because then there would be none. Thunder crashed and the walls shook. Sanzo flinched a little and scowled blackly afterwards.

Gojyo sucked on his cigarette, wondering where Hakkai and Goku were in this storm. Weathering it out somewhere if they were smart. He could wring Hakkai’s neck though, for finagling this – – for pushing him to make amends with the damned monk when it wasn’t his fault things had gotten out of hand anyway. Well – – not completely. But Hakkai was tired of the strain of two grudges held and Hakkai wanted desperately for a happy company – – or at least as happy a company as they could manage with the conflicting personalities they had within it. And when Hakkai wanted a thing badly enough – – it generally happened.

Go and talk with him. You know how he is. What he said and what he really meant might not be one and the same. That’s what Hakkai had said, as if Sanzo went to the efforts to hide his elitist bigotry. As if Sanzo ever sugar coated his insults. Right. What Hakkai had really meant was get over it, Gojyo, because Sanzo’s not going to change or apologize so its up to you to find a middle ground. And maybe – – just maybe, Gojyo was tired of the grudge, too. Maybe he wanted things back the way they had been, and short of himself just forgetting it – – well, Sanzo had be to confronted. Might not change his attitude, but it would make Gojyo feel better to get it out in the open.

Of course, he hadn’t had the chance. Hadn’t had the time to do much of anything before the storm hit and the youkai came out with it. And here they were now, too drunk to have a proper conversation and himself too hurt too initiate an improper one. He laughed at that, too. He might have been pissed enough and offended enough for the past few weeks not to want to talk to the damned monk – – but thoughts of doing other things to him had crossed his mind. Especially at night, or early in the morning when his body demanded satisfaction – – or when Sanzo shed the monkly robes and padded around in that tight black shirt that bared the white flesh of his shoulders, and those low-hipped jeans that gave teasing view of the skin of his lower belly. A man had to wonder if he did it apurpose. If he knew how damned hot he looked – – Gojyo figured that he did know – – he just didn’t particularly give a damn.

“What the fuck are you looking at?” Sanzo wanted to know.

Gojyo shrugged and winced as the movement pulled the wound in his shoulder. “Nothing.”

The monk sniffed, not convinced. He twisted about to lean his elbow on the side of the bunk, rested his chin on the back of his arm and stared with narrowed eyes at Gojyo. He stayed that way for a long moment, the mostly charred cigarette dangling from the hand hanging over the side of the bunk.

“It was your own fault, you know.”

“What? You shooting me?” Gojyo lifted both brows, then thought he’d really get Sanzo’s goat and said. “But its okay. I forgive you. Guess as far as that whole karma thing goes, that puts me one up on you, huh?”

“Fuck you.”

Gojyo took a drag from his cigarette and leaned his head back against the wall, shutting his eyes in satisfaction. “Yeah, I’m feeling, really, really generous today.”

Sanzo didn’t say anything. Gojyo felt him shift a little, heard the intake of breath as he took a drag from the smoke-stick, then the tiny thud as he flicked the butt onto the floor.

“I don’t owe you anything.”

Gojyo smiled beautifically and agreed. “Sure you don’t.”

“Shut the fuck up.”

Weight on the edge of the bed made the thin mattress sag. Gojyo opened his eyes in surprise as Sanzo’s hand slid up the inside of his leg, his palm flattening out as his fingers slipped under the edge of Gojyo’s boxers. One daren’t say anything that might shatter the mood, as Sanzo wormed his way further up onto the bed, his shoulders forcing Gojyo’s legs apart, his warm, warm fingers sliding up alongside Gojyo’s oh so sensitive nuts inside the underwear. He looked down, almost suspicious and Sanzo’s narrow eyes glared back up, determined and purposeful, despite dilate pupils and that slightly slack mouthed expression he usually wore when he was dead drunk.

“I don’t owe you anything.”

“Ahhh – -” He wasn’t sure if arguing the point right now would be in his benefit. Not with Sanzo’s thumb rubbing up the length of his quickly lengthening cock, not with Sanzo pressing his mouth down over the cotton of Gojyo’s shorts, outlining the heated length of it with his lips. Oh, god, god, god, not with him pulling it out of the slit of his boxers and running his tongue from root to head in one long, leisurely sweep. He caught the throbbing head of it between his lips, using teeth ever so teasingly before he ran his tongue across the slit, then again, hard enough to make Gojyo wince. He circled the shaft with his hand as he tantalized the head with the hot, wet insides of his mouth – – traced the throbbing blue veins with his fingers, squeezed the tight sacks of Gojyo’s balls. He slipped the whole thing in his mouth then, shifting a little to get the angle he needed – – almost to the root of it, but couldn’t quite take it all comfortably. Not that it mattered. Not that Gojyo didn’t see bright dancing stars – – not that the pressure in his groin was so intense that he threatened to spill his seed then and there. He dug his nails into his palms trying to stave it off. Arched his hips up reflexively to drive himself further down Sanzo’s damned luxurious throat. Sanzo pulled back a little, gagging just a bit, in no wise the old hand at deep throating another man’s cock. But he was good regardless. Amazingly, mind-blowingly proficient at the work.

Gojyo’s hand went to his hair, fingers tangling in soft golden locks, pressing him back down when he would have gone back to the lighter, teasing touches. It was past teasing now. Instinct said ram himself up into Sanzo’s mouth and let go, but he restrained himself enough to only tighten his fingers in Sanzo’s hair to keep him where he wanted him. His balls tightened and he drew hissing breath, spurting hot and wet and so so satisfying into Sanzo’s mouth. Sanzo jerked, pushing back with his nails biting into Gojyo’s thighs in his efforts to disengage his mouth from the spitting erection.

He glared, leaning across Gojyo’s leg to spit over the side of the bed.

“I didn’t tell you to cum in my mouth, asshole.” He snapped, wiping the his mouth with the back of a hand.

Gojyo sighed and smiled, blissful and willing to be contrite. “M’sorry. Sorta didn’t expect that.”

“Yeah, sure. We’re even now, got it. I don’t owe you anything.”

“What, a blowjob for a bullet hole?” Gojyo shrugged. It wasn’t a half bad bargain, only problem was he wasn’t sure he’d survive getting shot too many times by Sanzo to reap the reward. “But,” he drawled. “That’s only one. You shot me twice.”

It took Sanzo’s whisky fogged brain a second to do the math on that one. His eyes narrowed to hard violet shards and he hissed. “Fuck you.”

“Yeah, that would be acceptable, too.” Gojyo smiled and slid a hand down the side of Sanzo’s shirt until his fingers found a swath of bare flesh. He slid his body down the bed until his stomach was pressed to Sanzo’s back and Sanzo let him slip his hand inside the lip of his jeans. Sanzo let him press his palm hard against Sanzo’s soft cock, let him pull the shirt up until his small pink nipples were exposed, then Gojyo pulled him onto his back so he could get a leg over his thighs and keep his hand where it was and still manage to fasten his mouth over one baby soft nub. It hardened up soon enough, going pebbly and tight under the ministrations of tongue and teeth and cool air against wet skin. The flesh under Gojyo’s hand did as well, thickening and lengthening, making it a tight fit inside Sanzo’s jeans with both Gojyo’s big hand and his suddenly swollen cock.

Sanzo groaned, biting his lip hard enough to draw blood, reached down with the hand not trapped between their bodies and undid the button on his pants. He lifted his hips then, attempting to push the jeans down one handed and Gojyo had to stop what he was doing to help; let go altogether and half sat up to yank the jeans off Sanzo’s legs and pull the shirt over his head. He pulled his own boxers off hastily and laid himself back down, the length of his body pressing down heavily upon Sanzo’s, his already stiffening cock hard and tight against Sanzo’s belly, Sanzo’s erection pressing against his thigh.

There were no words between them. Nothing that needed saying. Just desperation and lust and need. Gojyo smothered Sanzo’s mouth with his own, hard and rough and needy and Sanzo thrust back, his fingers digging into Gojyo’s back, into his shoulders – – which hurt was only a vague and distant thing at the moment. He broke the fierce kiss and pressed Sanzo back into the mattress when he rose to pursue it – – grinned and slid down his white body and between his long, hard thighs. He swallowed his cock without preamble, taking the length down his throat and digging his fingers into the soft flesh of Sanzo’s ass as he half came up off the bed at the sudden sensation. Gojyo slid off the bed, pulling Sanzo’s legs with him, and knelt there on the floor working Sanzo’s flesh in his mouth, his own eager, demanding cock twitching and leaking pre-cum against his tummy. He ran his hands up the hard planes of Sanzo’s stomach, up his ribs, over his hard little nipples and to the long column of his throat. Back again down the same circuit of flesh and muscle until Sanzo’s body shuddered deliciously and his hips jerked up spasmodically and hot fluid filled Gojyo’s mouth. He wasn’t so picky as the monk. He swallowed most of it, spat out a little and grinned in utter anticipation as he straightened, leaning over Sanzo and pressing his lips, cum and all over Sanzo’s mouth.

“My turn again.” He murmured into that mouth when they parted. “Face up or face down?”

Sanzo didn’t answer, just brought up his knee to get it past Gojyo’s body and flipped over onto his belly, which left his beautiful, white ass hanging over the edge of the bed and his knees spread wide on either side of Gojyo’s. Pretty, pretty picture. Damned if he didn’t have the most alluring curve at the small of his back. The most sensuous line of spine and shoulder blades and sloping shoulders. Gojyo had to run his hands down the line of that back, had to dig his fingers into the flesh of that perfect ass just to see the flesh dimple from the impact of his fingers. He spread the cheeks with his thumbs, baring the puckered pink entry to the warmest, most welcoming part of Sanzo. He shifted his hips forward and rubbed the tip of his cock against the tight little mouth, leaving a glistening film of pre-cum. Sanzo jerked a little and his breathing became harsher – – more impatient.

Gojyo pressed harder and felt the ring of muscle protest, grimaced and forced the issue even as Sanzo pressed his face into the sheets to muffle his cry. It didn’t matter, Gojyo was inside and happy about it. Surrounded and compressed and hotter than the sun. Gojyo pressed himself tight, buried to the root, wanting to go further, but stopped by the barrier of flesh and bone and muscle. So he backed out and did it again, finding pace and tempo as he rocked to and fro.

Lightening struck close to the roadhouse and the walls trembled. Sanzo started, shocked momentarily out of the rhythm. Gojyo paused in his, buried deep inside, leaning down and running his palms up Sanzo’s ribs, across his back and to his shoulders.

“What is it about storms – – that gets you so on edge?”

“- – – Nothing – – nothing – – just shut up and move.”

A body could appreciate such a command. A body could greatly regret the absence of regular sex – – because then a little bit more control might have been present. A little bit more restraint – – instead of the building head of pressure that he couldn’t quite get a handhold on before it burst loose and he orgasmed pressed tight against Sanzo’s back not quite five minutes after he’d started.

Embarrassing. Damned embarrassing. He pulled back and sat down with his hands supporting him on the floor at the edge of the bed, suddenly feeling the pain in his shoulder and the pain in his head that had been suspiciously absent before.

Sanzo rolled onto his side, pulling his legs up onto the bed, propping his head on his hand and staring down at Gojyo. “That’s two.”

“Yeah – -” if he didn’t mention it, maybe Sanzo wouldn’t either. He put a hand up gingerly to his shoulder, a subtle reminder that he was walking wounded here and couldn’t be expected long stretchs of endurance.

Sanzo didn’t. Sanzo was uncharacteristically gracious. He leaned over the side of the bunk and fished in his discarded jeans for his pack of smokes and lay back down at the head of the bed to savor it.

“Cards?” he asked, like they’d just been discussing the foul weather of late instead of fucking. Gojyo had to grin. Had to press a hand to the back of his neck lower his face so Sanzo wouldn’t think he was laughing at him – – Sanzo tended to be touchy about such things. Especially a Sanzo who’d just gotten out of a comprimising situation that Gojyo dearly hoped to be able to manuver him into again.

“Yeah, cards.” He agreed, managing a straight face.

They played into the early morning, Sanzo in his unbuttoned jeans and Gojyo in his boxers – – until exhaustion and whisky took their toll and they dropped off, Sanzo’s back to the wall at the head of the bunk and Gojyo sprawled across his legs.

It was daylight when one of the girl’s they’d ousted from the room came pounding on the door, a sour look on her face and the declaration that a real room had been made for them. They pulled on enough clothing to be decent and gathered the rest to tromp upstairs where the half dozen rooms for rent the little roadhouse boasted were located. This one had two beds and a window that let in grey, rain shrouded light. The patter of it was a constant barrage on the roof overhead.

“They should be back this afternoon.” Gojyo said and Sanzo shrugged, sitting in the cill, lighting a cigarette and staring out into the grey day.

The afternoon wore on. Gojyo’s shoulder ached horribly – – his headache went away after enough nicotine and whisky.

“Soooo – – you wanna – – you know – -?” He inquired once, bored with playing solitare and drunk enough to be bold. Sanzo had initiated the last time – – and drunk or no, there was no declaration that the event couldn’t be recalled. It was there. It had happened and Gojyo was damned sure that the both of them – – at one point or another during the scope of the thing – – had gotten off.

Sanzo had looked up at him, those dark rimmed eyes of his aloof and just a little ridiculing and said simply. “No.”

Well, a man couldn’t very well beg. Not and keep a shred of dignity. And it was more boredom than desperate need that had prompted the inquiry anyway. He could do without. Probably better if he did, as bad as his shoulder was aching and as quesy as the crusty lump along the side of his head was making him feel.

He dozed until late that afternoon when a tentative knock came at the door to their room. If it had been Hakkai and the kid, they wouldn’t have knocked. Gojyo slitted his eyes and exchanged a wary glance with Sanzo, who shrugged and rose, padding silently to the door in jeans and bare feet. He opened it and a young man stood there, broad faced and expectant. Gojyo half recognized him from the town a day back down the road. The town who’s mayor had set them on this particular path with tales of a band of rouge youkai terrorizing the local farmers and making a general nuscience of themselves to honest, hard working humans. Yeah, right. Well – – he could buy into the story – – it was just that sometimes it grated on his nerves to hear it spouted so self-rightously. It hadn’t bothered him so much before the monastary and the particuarly eloquent youkai he’d met there and as much as he knew that that youkai had been powerful enough to twist a man’s mind – – well, it was still a sore subject.

He thought this kid might have been the town mayer’s son. He couldn’t remember exactly. Didn’t really care, truth be told.

“What do you want?” Sanzo asked, not bothering to ask the kid to step into the room.

“I’m Gangi – – from town.”

“Yeah, so what?”

“I’m here to deliver a message. The one named Hakkai said to tell you they won’t be back tonight. That they’ve found something at the old mine south of here and if the two of you would go out there he would be appreciative. The other one – – the young one – – said to – – uh, bring something to eat.”

Sanzo sniffed. Gojyo rolled his eyes and settled back into the lumpy pillow.

“What did they find?” Sanzo wanted to know.

The boy shrugged. “He didn’t say. Youkai camp maybe?”

Sanzo sniffed again and glanced out the window at the darkening sky. “And he wants to do something about it tonight? Wonderful. Is it raining again?”

“Umm — it looks like it might start soon.”

“Fucking wonderful. They can wait until tomorrow.”

“The monkey might not be willing to wait.” Gojyo said, pushing himself up. Oh, his head ached. It made his stomach churn. He had to lean over his knees to quell it.

“You’re not going anywhere tonight.” Sanzo said flatly.

“Just give me a second. I’ll be okay.”

“I’m not picking you up when you fall down, idiot. You’re not even leaning on me – – so sit your ass back down.”

Gojyo glowered, embarassed to be dressed down in front of the flat-faced, wide-eyed kid. “Well, you guys don’t need to be taking on any camp of youkai without me.” He grumbled.

Sanzo gave him a look that clearly said Gojyo’s presense wouldn’t make that much differnece one way or another – – but he shrugged and said as he was pulling on his monk’s robes. “Whatever. I’m not crazy about doing it in the rain. I’ll bring them back here and when its dry we can go back.”

Ah, capitulation, even though it was clothed in disinterest. Gojyo smiled under the curtain of his hair, then pushed himself back to recline on the bed again. “And don’t take all night about it.” He instructed.

He got another sour look for that, a snort and Sanzo was striding past the mayor’s son, robes, sutra and all, not bothering to give Gojyo a backward glance.

Gojyo didn’t mind the sleight. Not really. Despite being shot and aching because of it – – he’d gotten laid and had the prospect of it happening again. Really, he had a good feeling about that last. Being between Sanzo’s legs somehow reduced the grudge he’d been holding for the past couple of weeks, so he felt rather decent, all around.

Sanzo was tired of being wet. He hated the feel of heavy, clingy, wet robes surrounding his body. Wet jeans were even worse. The kid in front of him didn’t seem to notice. Didn’t ever lift a hand to wipe water out of his eyes, or shake it out of his hair. Didn’t flinch and grimace at mud oozing into his sandals. Sanzo was getting more pissed by the minute.

At least it wasn’t storming. He didn’t need lightening strikes and the deafening reverberations of thunder to make this afternoon complete. He’d rather have stayed warm and dry in the inn and let Hakkai figure out for himself that they weren’t coming tonight. Hakkai was smart like that – – he would have pieced it together and laid low and either come back to the inn looking for them, or waited until they did show – – but Gojyo was right about Goku. Patience was not a virtue he possessed. Sanzo didn’t need the two of them getting into something they couldn’t handle – – then he’d have three fucked up comrades to deal with. He could barely tolerate the one.

Soooo – – you wanna – – you know – -? Like Gojyo thought he was going to make it a regular thing – – fucking him. Like Gojyo thought he’d enjoyed it enough to want to repeat it on a regular basis.

Well – – maybe parts of it – – and maybe that had been partially due to the whisky – – but Gojyo’s warm mouth around him had been very nice – – nice enough to almost make him dismiss the pain of Gojyo’s damned big cock forcing its way into his body. But – – the pain was okay, too, he supposed – – little enough price to pay for letting himself get fucked by a man. Twice. No, three times, if you counted that night when they’d both been so drunk they’d neither one of them really realized what they were doing or who they were doing it to. And he’d been on the bottom of those encounters each and every time, which made him crinkle his brow and frown and wonder why he’d let that happen – – and try to remember whether he’d even thought about reversing those roles at all during the act – – or if it was only afterwards – – after the lust had died that it occurred to him.

“We’re cutting through the woods?” The kid had veered off the road and was weeding his way into the underbrush adjacent to the forest. It was late enough in the afternoon for the shadows under the trees to be deep and foreboding.

“It’s the quickest way if we want to reach them before full dark.”

At least the mild rain wasn’t so noticeable under the trees and the forest floor wasn’t muddy. It was spongy with fallen leaves and mulch. Sanzo folded his arms within the sleeves of his robe, pressing his fingers over the smooth grip of the gun. The longer they walked, the darker it got.

“I thought we’d get there before dark.”

“Its not much further.” The boy assured him.

Sanzo snorted softly, shaking damp hair out of his eyes, the shadows making him wary. And then the shadows moved, proving the validity of his feelings and several figures melted out from the trees.

The boy froze. Sanzo casually slowed to a halt, a pace or two in front of the kid, the gun still within the folds of his sleeves.

They were youkai. Very clearly youkai from the long, pointed ears and the sharp teeth revealed by parted lips. Red eyes glinted faintly even in the shadows. He felt, more than saw the movement behind him of more of them moving in to circle him like a wolf pack surrounding prey.

“Where’s the other one?” one of them asked and it took Sanzo about two seconds to figure out he was asking it of the mayor’s son. The boy took a breath and cast a guilty look back at Sanzo.

“Injured. The other one is injured. He stayed back at the roadhouse.”

Sanzo’s mouth twitched in something not quite classified as a smile and he pulled out the gun, having every intention of putting a hole in the kid’s head, only the youkai on his left attacked first and he had to send the first bullet that way.

Bam. The youkai staggered backwards without a sound, a ragged red hole in his forehead.

Bam. A second one went down, howling, clutching at the bullet hole that had torn through his throat.

Bam. One more that almost made it within a foot of where Sanzo stood and died with a hole in his chest.

The kid was gone, running like a rabbit into the woods. Sanzo cursed and shot another one that came in by his right. He missed the flash of movement from the left. Missed the hand holding the limb that crashed into the back of his skull. The gun tumbled from fingers gone suddenly numb. He staggered one step before his legs went rubbery and gave out. Rolled onto his back and blinked up with fast dwindling vision at the silhouettes that gathered above him. His tongue was too thick in his mouth to even form the words to curse them.

“Go find the other one at the roadhouse and take him out. Don’t fuck up.” One of them said, bending down just a little to study Sanzo. Long, beaded hair slithered past the youkai’s ears to hang over his shoulders. He reached a sharp nailed hand down and swiped a finger across the hollow behind Sanzo ear. It came away bloody. The youkai stuck it in his mouth and grinned.

“One down.” He said softly. “Three to go.”

If he said anything else, Sanzo didn’t catch it. The world went dark and silent and blessedly pain-free.

* * *

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.