Lost Faith: 1

The room was rented. By the week. It hadn’t been much to start with, a single bed, a rolled mat for additional sleepers, a sideboard table, a chest of drawers and wonder of wonder actual electricity supplied by great creaking water wheels run by the ever rolling source of the river. The electricity supplied a single weak lightbulb on the ceiling. It flickered constantly, its power source erratic at best. An oil lantern was preferable.

The lightbulb was one of the few things – – being safely out of reach, that hadn’t been shattered, broken or ripped in the night’s endeavors. The room was in a shambles and there was the faint scent of blood in the air, but it dissipated quickly, borne away by the sluggish air from the open window and replaced by the stench of a large town. A city really, by the standards of the towns and villages recently passed. The biggest collection of humanity seen since they’d left the civilization of the east. They’d been here close to a week, the journey westward halted for no other reason than that Sanzo hadn’t pushed them to move on.

Sanzo wasn’t pushing now. He’d stopped fighting about two minutes past, legs sprawled over the overturned edge of the bed, shoulders and head on the floor where the former had hit with a painful sounding crack. The blood was Gojyo’s. A result of Sanzo’s knuckles across the sharp bone of his cheek. They were both breathing hard, Sanzo’s eyes a little glazed from the meeting of head with floor, Gojyo sprawled against the wall a few feet away, head hanging, eyes stinging as his body took the time to register the individual hurts of this strange ritual. He didn’t come away with this much pain from youkai battles – – but, then again, he didn’t get to fuck the youkai afterwards.

The monk was another matter. The foreplay might be hell on a body’s endurance, but the price was worth it – – generally. Gojyo had had more sex in the last five days here in this water powered city, than he’d had in the last two months. And he hadn’t even had to initiate half of it. Granted, the monk’s notion of ‘come hither’ looks were insults and physical violence, but the end result was the same. They ended up between the sheets or on top of them, or on the floor or sprawled in the wreckage of what used to be furniture. Gojyo thought Sanzo was still uptight over the thing in Ho’gah, with the evil spirit messing with his head and seeping into his dreams. He still had them, if the disturbed murmuring in his sleep was any indication. One hoped it wasn’t from lingering evil influences, but more the simple recollection of them. It had not been a pleasant entity.

Gojyo didn’t ask though, and most certainly didn’t mention the night time murmuring – – Sanzo wouldn’t have relaxed enough to fall asleep in the same room if he even suspected he was giving up secrets in the depth of night. And Gojyo found to his vast surprise that Sanzo relaxing enough to just lay there after sex and breathe, cooling skin touching cooling skin – – tension draining out of bodies like water from a sieve – – was simply – – nice.

Having finally caught enough of his breath to act, Gojyo bent over, an elbow on the floor, the other curling around the monk’s head and stared upside down into Sanzo’s violet eyes. Long lashed, heavy lidded eyes at the moment and devoid of rancor, anger and the threat of death or scorn.

“You realize,” Gojyo said. “We’re gonna have to pay for that table.” And the basin that had been on it.

Sanzo’s eyes flicked that way, then back. “You knocked it over.”

“You shoved me into it.”

One narrow brow lifted and the corner of Sanzo’s mouth twitched, accepting that blame. He tangled his fingers in Gojyo’s dangling hair and pulled him down.

It had been a very good week. Gojyo hadn’t entirely expected the – – he hesitated at the term “good fortune”, thinking he had a few too many bruises for that to apply – – and settled on ‘change in circumstances’. He’d have bet money that Sanzo would have shrugged off the night in Ho’Gah village – – Sanzo had said as much – – but when they’d reached Tinto the monk had as much as propositioned him. Had just come up that first night with a few drinks in him – – but not enough, mind you, to have him staggering drunk – – and initiated the argument which had turned into the brawl, which had turned into the sex. Damned crafty monk, if you asked Gojyo, to be so adept at getting his way without seeming to actually ask for it. But Gojyo understood. Appearances had to be maintained, after all.

The mattress got pulled onto the floor next to the overturned bed and the two of them atop it, wriggling out of clothing on the way. There was biting involved and nails digging into flesh and tongues swiping trickling blood – – and God, if that didn’t feel just damned – – erotic. It made Gojyo stop what he was about and shudder and Sanzo made an amused sound and did it again, warm, wet, velvet across Gojyo’s bleeding cheek, down his neck where Sanzo’s nails had gouged a set of lines.

“Are you trying – – ” Gojyo said, breathless, grinning a little idiotically. “- – to get fucked?”

Sanzo was not so easily deterred. Sanzo never was. “If you can manage to get it up – -”

Gojyo’s grin widened. “Oh, it’s up. It’s up.” He ground the ‘it’ in question against Sanzo’s thigh and Sanzo bent his knees, a blatant invitation. He was impatient as hell when it came to sex. Wasn’t much for foreplay, if it didn’t involve insults and blows. Gojyo rather liked it – – at least had become accustomed to it in his numerous female relations. Women liked the effort. It frustrated Sanzo and Sanzo frustrated tended to have a short fuse.

“Next time,” Gojyo swiped a dollop of lube over the head of his cock and accepted Sanzo’s solicitation, easing himself between those hard, lean thighs and into the monk’s internal heat. “We’re doing this without the blood or the bruises or the fractured ribs.”

Sanzo thrust upwards, impatient with Gojyo’s leisurely penetration, his fingers biting hard into Gojyo’s shoulders. “Who says there’s going to be – – a next – – time?”

Which was becoming his mantra. Arguing the point now was a lost cause, Gojyo’s attention fixed solely on the job at hand. Words became foreign things, swallowed up by sensation. Pressure grew and grew and eventually had to give before a body’s heart burst wide open – – and it did with a great ball-draining shudder and a few desperate, forceful thrusts. For a moment his arms lost their strength and he collapsed on top of Sanzo, belly pressed against the stickiness on Sanzo’s stomach. Sanzo let him for a few breaths before he pushed at his shoulder to get him to move and Gojyo rolled over obligingly to lay half on, half off of the mattress.

“The kid is getting damned suspicious about all the noise and the cuts and bruises.” Gojyo picked up where he’d left off and Sanzo frowned up at the ceiling, having a care what Goku thought whether he’d admit it or not.

“Just because we’re having sex, doesn’t mean you have to go through this whole ‘punish the both of us before hand for the sin’ thing every time.”

Sanzo’s eyes narrowed. “What the fuck are you talking about? That sounds like Hakkai talking. That is Hakkai talking. What do the two of you do when I’m not around, sit there an try to psychoanalyze me? Morons!”

Okay, so Sanzo had hit that nail on the head. That little line had come straight from Hakkai’s shrewd mouth and Gojyo should have figured if he brought it up, Sanzo would figure out who’s brain had spawned it

“Forget I said anything. Geeze, touchy bastard.”

Sanzo sniffed. “Pass me a smoke.”

Gojyo leaned over and ruffled amongst their varied clothing for the most available pack. Came up with it and tapped out a cigarette, caught it between his lips and lit it before passing it on to the monk, then doing the same for himself. They lay there, not quite touching, immersed in the darkness of night.

“So, how long we gonna stay here in Tinto?” There was no pressing business here, nothing that had particularly demanded their time and yet Sanzo had gone against his most strident habit of obsessively pushing westward.

“I dunno.”

“You don’t know? Why?”

“We need a rest. This is as good a place as any.”

Gojyo flicked ash on the wood floor, mulling that over. Not voicing his observation that Sanzo had never cared if they needed a rest or not before in this quest. At least not unless somebody was gravely injured and even then his impatience to be off ate at him.

“You’re freakin’ inconsistent, you know that?” he finally muttered, having to say something.

“Unh.” Sanzo grunted, not arguing that. Damned agreeable now that his body had been appeased.

“Not that I care, particularly – – but what happened to the all important journey West and all?”

“Nothing happened to it. It’s still there. It’ll be there tomorrow and the next day.”

What did you say to that? Not a damn thing came to mind. Gojyo took a drag and watched the smoke lazily drift towards the window. Sanzo finished off his smoke and flicked the butt across the room where it landed on bare wood floor. His breathing evened out.

Sanzo came awake with Gojyo’s lanky form half sprawled across his own. Light spilled through the window and with it the smells of Tinto Town’s morning aromas. There was a fried noodle stand almost under their room and the odors drifted up. His stomach growled quietly, reminding him that he hadn’t had much of an appetite last night and had given his share of supper to Goku. It wasn’t enough impetus to make him move quite yet. There was comfort to be had, this early in the morning with the humidity of the night past and just a little pleasant chill to the morning temperature. The mattress, even off the bed was soft enough and the sheet that had found its way over most of his body held the warmth in and the feel of human flesh next to his was not – – unpleasant – – not when it was redolent with sleep and unaware of his appreciation. He lay there and let himself indulge for a little while, until the ever present urge to be on the move started to nag at the back of his mind. Irritated, he shoved it away, foul thoughts directed towards the Aspects and the quest they’d maneuvered him into. Manipulated him into and Sanzo hated to be manipulated with a vengeance. That thing in Ho’gah village might have been an evil, murdering spirit, but there had been a certain truth to some of the things it had said. A terrible, hurtful truth that just made too damned much sense when Sanzo thought about it, too pass off as lies.

Sanzo frowned, wanting up of a sudden, wanting distance from the dubious warmth of human limbs and human comfort. He shrugged out from under Gojyo without waking the halfling, and fished amongst the tangle of clothing for suitable clothing. Not the monk’s robes. Not the sutra. Not anything at the moment to remind him of his master and the aspects and his mission. Jeans and a pullover shirt that was loose enough to hide the gun tucked into the waist band of his pants. Black and black, which was his mood when he’d hit the shops a few days ago and purchased them. He went downstairs and found Goku up and pestering the girl who made up the rooms for breakfast. Goku was always up first, driven by the call of his never ending appetite. He saw Sanzo and his eyes brightened.

“Sanzo, you’re up early – – can we go get breakfast? I’m so hungry I feel faint.”

“Fine.” Sanzo kept walking towards the door and Goku happily fell into step beside him.

“You’ve got a bruise on your neck – – or are those teeth marks? Were you and Gojyo fighting again? It sounded like it. Maybe you shouldn’t room together if you’re going to fight all night.”

Sanzo lifted a hand to his neck, half recalling Gojyo’s mouth there. There had been teeth involved, but the violence had passed by that time and they’d been on to other things.

“Do you want noodles or something else?”

“Oh, noodles and something else.” The question successfully diverted Goku’s attention. “Let’s go to the restaurant by the tattoo shop – – they have the best dumplings!”

Sanzo was game. Sanzo had soup and dumplings and sat there after he’d consumed them watching Goku devour half his weight in breakfast. He got bored with the show at the fourth course and flipped a few bills on the table and told Goku he’d be outside browsing along the row of shops. He observed the tattooist apply color to a dragon on a man’s arm, one prick at a time. When the girl the next booth over beckoned, holding up a ring of jingling earrings, he went over, trailing a finger over the display of her wares, small loops, big ones, studs with chips of glass and a few with semi-precious gems.

“Today, for you only, two for the price of one.” She urged, smiling broadly. In a fit of rebellion he nodded, and her grin widened as she ushered him to a stool and pulled out a sharp silver needle, passing it through a flame before asking what earrings he wanted.

“Gold rings. Both in the same ear.”

“Of course. To match your hair.” She brushed aside said hair and jabbed the point of the needle into his lobe without warning. He hissed, clenching his teeth until the sharp pain passed. Then she did it again, quick and precise and held up a hand polished mirror afterwards for him to see the two small gold loops dangling from his earlobe. There were smears of blood. He reached a thumb up and wiped them away, paid her and wondered back onto the row.

Left to his own devices, he bought a few more things before Goku finally reemerged from the restaurant.

“That was really good. I feel much better.” Goku was content and Sanzo wouldn’t have to hear complaints about his empty belly for at least another hour. “What are we gonna do today, Sanzo?”

“Whatever you want.”

“Are we gonna start moving again?”

Sanzo frowned, tired of the question. “Why? Don’t you like the food here?”

“Well, yeah. The food’s great here – – but – – but I thought we had an important job to do.”

“Stop thinking, then.” Sanzo suggested. “And stop jabbering at me, I’m starting to get a headache.”

“But Sanzo – – ”

“Shut up!”

“Well look at that. The stuffy monk with the jewelry. Did you have a bottle of whisky for breakfast?”

Sanzo gave him a look and Gojyo smirked, leaning in close with the intention of brushing hair away to see the loops. Sanzo’s look darkened, pointedly suggesting that to do so would be a bad decision. The fact that they were fucking behind the privacy of closed doors did not mean that Sanzo was prepared to let Gojyo take liberties in public. And truth be told, Gojyo didn’t really – – at least not any more than he had before.

“He did it while I was finishing breakfast.” Goku offered between mouthfuls of his after dinner snack. “And he only had tea to drink.”

Sanzo dark look transferred to Goku, who was oblivious to it. They sat about a round table, the four of them, in a smoky crowded bar, the sounds of the patron’s drowning out the three man band that attempted to make music off in one dark corner. Hakkai and Gojyo had been absent most of the day, only showing up at the dinner hour to take advantage of Sanzo’s money to fill their stomachs. He didn’t ask what they’d been up to. There were numerous entertainment’s to be found in Tinto and rumors of even more risky fun down river in Tinto’s sister town Ruvan, if one cared to go for a boat ride and risk one’s life in a place rumored to have a relatively large youkai population.

“Gin.” Hakkai laid down his hand of cards and Sanzo’s attention drifted back to the table and Hakkai’s winning cards. It figured. At least they weren’t playing for money. A smart man never played for money when Hakkai was involved. Gojyo had yet to figure that out. Sanzo tossed his own cards down and finished off the last of the luke warm beer in his glass.

“That’s it. I’m through for the night.” He rose, not waiting for response, or expecting any really, leaving them to their own designs while he left the bar and walked back towards the inn. He lit a cigarette on the way and had sucked it down to the filter by the time he got there. He flicked the butt on the street and went upstairs. The maid hadn’t been to the room, or if she had, she’d immediately left in disgust. The side table was still in pieces under the window and the mattress was still lying on the floor under a tangle of sheets. He scowled, calling Gojyo a few choice names for being a slob and not at least righting the bed and getting the sheets up off the floor to keep whatever bugs lived in the walls from crawling in.

He’d gotten the mattress on the wooden bed frame and shaken out the sheets when Gojyo sauntered in. He hesitated at the open doorway when Sanzo fixed him with an accusatory look, then shrugged and smiled, attempting innocence. Gojyo did not do innocence well.

“Sorry. Hakkai was all eager to get out on the town this morning and you know how he gets – -”

“No, how does he get?”

Gojyo had to think about that. “Well, you know, sort of bossy – – oh, wait that’s you – – excitable? No, that’d be Goku. Well, he asked nicely and I’m just not used to folks asking nicely so I had to drop all the housekeeping and go with him.”

Sanzo snorted, flinging the sheets out upon the bed and making a cursory effort of smoothing them over the ends of the mattress.

“So – -” Gojyo leaned back against the door, a sly look in his long eyes, a slight smug quark to his lips. “There’s nothing really left to break, less you want to start borrowing stuff from Hakkai and Goku’s room.”

“Not tonight.” Sanzo said, feeling just a touch of stubbornness curl upwards and wanting that vaguely superior look off of Gojyo’s face. As if simply because Sanzo had allowed things to happen between them the last few nights it was a given that it there would be a repeat of it tonight. “You should have stayed out.”


“I’m going to the baths.”

One thin, dark brow rose in interest above blood red eyes. “Oh? I could do with a bath.”

“No doubt. You’re not taking one with me.”

“I thought they just had the one here.”

“They do. You can wait.”

Gojyo shrugged, and moved aside when Sanzo wanted out the door. And when he’d finished his bath, Gojyo was waiting politely outside with a clean towel over his bare shoulder and an amenable smile on his face. He’d probably picked the expression up from Hakkai who had the same false civility plastered across his lips most of his waking hours.

Goku and Hakkai came back while Gojyo was still in the bath, and Sanzo was smoking the last cigarette of the night. Goku bounded in through the unlocked door and perched on the end of Sanzo’s bed, telling about the barely avoided fight that he and Hakkai had almost engaged in with a group of drunken brawlers on the way home. Hakkai had talked their way out of it and left them scratching their heads wondering how they’d been diverted. If Gojyo or Sanzo had been with them, Goku was certain, there would have been blows exchanged, neither of them as tolerant as Hakkai over insults.

Hakkai stuck his head in the door with that same patient smile Gojyo had been imitating and told Goku he was going for a bath and perhaps Goku ought to take advantage of the same before he went to bed.

Goku wrinkled his nose, not as enamored of the idea of weekly, much less daily baths as Sanzo. “Do I have to? I just had one last week.”

“You’re starting to stink. Take the bath.” Sanzo directed.

Goku held up his arm and sniffed. “I can’t tell the difference from how I usually smell. Its the clothes.”

Hakkai’s smile widened a little, his eyes crinkling in amusement. “Well, maybe we’ll see about having them cleaned tomorrow.”

“But then I won’t have anything to wear.” Goku cried, aghast.

“Then you can run around buck naked like the rest of the monkeys in the forest.” Sanzo snapped and got a requisite denial of Goku’s heritage for the comment.

“We’ll find you something to wear.” Hakkai promised. “Come on. Let’s find towels and go see if the water’s still warm.”

He unfolded the wrinkled edition of the Tinto Daily news he’d picked up downstairs and idly scanned the articles, preferring to read by the oil lamp on the floor by the side of the bed, rather than rely on the inconsistent flickering of the electric lightbulb. Nothing of import caught his eye. He refolded it and snuffed out the light, wondering what had distracted Gojyo for so long – – then scowling at himself for it. It didn’t matter to him what Gojyo was doing or who he was doing it with. It wasn’t as if he’d started to look forward to their little nightly bouts of – – what to call it exactly – – exercise. It wasn’t as if it weren’t just a healthy extension of the body’s needs that he’d denied himself for far too long – – Gojyo just happened to be willing and handy and easy enough to maneuver into doing what Sanzo wanted him to do, even if it was the direction Gojyo was leaning towards anyway.

Sanzo was still awake, lying in the dark, listening to the quiet sounds of late night Tinto, when Gojyo came in finally. He smelled faintly of the homemade soap from the baths and stronger still of smoke. He stood a moment, letting his eyes adjust to the darkness, then went over to the corner where the rolled mat was and began unfolding it.

“Where were you?” Sanzo had to ask it, irked at being ignored.

“Humm. You awake? Met Hakkai and the monkey at the baths and we had a few rounds of sake in the steam room.”

“You didn’t let Goku drink – -”

“No, mom. No booze for the kid.”

“Hummph. As if you’re trustworthy enough to keep him from it.”

“I didn’t want to have to carry him back to his room. Are you trying to start a fight? If you wanted me to come over there, all you had to do was ask.”

Sanzo narrowed his eyes, not certain if that had been the point of his last snide comment or not. Maybe it had. Damned if he would admit it. “As if. I told you not tonight.”

“Sure. Whatever.” Gojyo stretched out on the mat, shaking the folded sheet out over his lanky form. The disinterest grated at Sanzo’s nerves. The agreeable attitude did. He muttered something unsavory under his breath.

Gojyo laughed. “You just can’t ask nicely, can you?”

“Fuck you.” Sanzo said.

Gojyo laughed again and there was the rustling of sheets and the shifting of weight on the floorboards, the soft footpads of a body crossing the floor. Sanzo tensed, ready to lash out and prompt the violence that would smooth the way to acceptance of something more personal. Gojyo didn’t touch him. He sensed, rather than saw, Gojyo crouch at the side, caught the very faint glint of the red in Gojyo’s eyes.

“Don’t sit there and stare at me like a damned dog begging for scrapes.” Sanzo hissed, jamming a palm out to shove Gojyo backwards. Gojyo’s night vision was better than his. He caught Sanzo’s wrist before impact and held it between them.

“Who’s a dog? And who’s begging? I told you we weren’t fighting the next time. But you know, it just might be beyond you.”

A nerve twitched in Sanzo’s jaw. It was frustrating not being able to break Gojyo’s grip on his wrist. Even more so not to be able to break the calm the halfling had slipped into. “So what do you want?” he forced calm into his own voice. He would not be outdone by Gojyo.

Gojyo shifted his grip on Sanzo’s wrist, loosening the hold, sliding his thumb up to stroke the curve of Sanzo’s palm. Long firm strokes that bit into the meaty part of his palm and stretched out the tendons of his hand. It sent little shivers of pleasure up his arm. Gojyo’s hand moved up his arm, strong fingers digging into flesh, pressing at the juncture of muscle and sinew hard enough to just verge on pain – -but not quite.

“What do you have on under here?” Gojyo murmured, fingers sliding over Sanzo’s shoulder and down across his ribs under the sheet and meeting nothing but bare skin. The mattress depressed from his weight as he leaned his hip onto it. Sanzo’s first instinct was to push him back. It was unnerving, the lingering trail of hands, the implication of sex without the actual getting right down to it. The foreplay smacked too much of lovers and not enough of simple sex partners.

Gojyo’s fingers splayed out across his stomach, lazily drifting lower. Sanzo ground his teeth and reached down to catch Gojyo’s wrist, stopping the descent, damned and determined not to loose the modicum of control he’d tried to maintain between them during these sessions.

“If you want to fuck me, then fuck me. Pretending I’m a woman you’re trying to woo is just boring.”

For a second he thought he had him. Gojyo’s hand tensed, his body did, his head dipped, as if nodding in assent. He drew back the sheet and slid between it, the weight of his body replacing its warmth over Sanzo. Gojyo was long limbed, lean muscled, heavier than he looked when he draped himself across Sanzo. He used a knee to spread Sanzo’s legs and situated himself comfortably enough, the heat of his erection slick and hard against Sanzo’s thigh, the silken tendrils of his hair tickling Sanzo’s face and shoulders as he bent down and pressed his lips against the hollow of Sanzo’s throat, then proceeded to move lower. Lips and tongue over his skin made Sanzo shudder. Teeth latched onto his nipple and his balls tightened. He arched upwards fingers clutching at Gojyo’s shoulders. The biting melted into suckling, which provided no less sensation – – simply a different sort.

“I told you – – just to get – – it over – – with.” Sanzo gasped and hissed when the teeth took hold again and pulled. Gojyo’s hand found his semi-rigid sex and worked it into full awareness, then slid further down, palm pressing Sanzo’s balls as his fingers stroked the skin behind them.

Sanzo had been about to complain about the lack of progress in this endeavor – – the words dried up on his tongue, replaced by a moan of surprise. It hit him to his core, the shock of that sensation.

“You like that?” Gojyo sounded smug, but Sanzo couldn’t quite find the incentive to be annoyed when the blood was pounding so adamantly inside his head. Gojyo lifted himself up a little, relieving Sanzo of some of his weight, leaning over to kiss him. A playful teasing of the lips, a light brush of tongue, a hint of the flavor of smoke. His hands had drifted back up, away from the throbbing between Sanzo’s legs, nails trailing lightly along skin on one stroke, then the firm pressure of palms and fingers on the next.

“I like them.” Gojyo whispered against his ear, gently mouthing the lobe with its two new rings.

“I didn’t do it for you.” Sanzo gasped, shutting his eyes against the warm intrusion of Gojyo’s tongue inside the cup of his ear. No one had ever dared to stick their tongue inside Genjo Sanzo’s ear before. It was presumptuous and he really ought to call Gojyo on it. He really ought to cut this short now, since Gojyo wasn’t following his directions, and send the annoying half breed back to his mat on the floor.

“Turn over.” The tongue removed itself, replaced by the breath of Gojyo’s whisper.

Well, if it would speed things up – – Only Gojyo didn’t fall atop him like he usually did, insistent and eager to get to the heart of the matter by this point in the game. He slid down Sanzo’s body, leisurely trailing the line of his spine with lips and tongue. That was as bad as the tongue in the ear. It made Sanzo’s skin twitch and his fingers curl into the mattress.

“Gojyo – -”

“Shut up. You’ll like it.”

He spread Sanzo’s legs and his mouth fastened onto the inside of his thigh. One hand wormed it way under his hips and teased his trapped erection. The pressure of his own weight – – of Gojyo’s fingers – – of the mattress beneath him was intensely disconcerting. He pumped his hips forward, wanting hard and fast friction – – wanting release from building pressure that was starting to verge on discomfort. Goddamned Gojyo anyway, for drawing this out – – and then Sanzo opened his mouth and cursed again – – but he couldn’t quite put a name to it, or gather much vehemence in the utterance, as Gojyo swiped his tongue across the tender skin behind Sanzo’s balls.

Oh – – GOD – – he was seeing stars again, short of breath and beginning to loose any semblance of rationality. He pressed his face into the pillow, biting his lip to stifle a groan of sheerest pleasure. Annoyance went the way of his other thoughts, right out the hole in his brain and down towards his groin. Gojyo hadn’t done ‘that’ before. Most certainly not. Sanzo moaned and pushed back, against Gojyo’s warm tongue and clever, clever fingers and Gojyo very well might have laughed at him, deep in his throat, the sound muffled by what he was doing with his mouth – – but honestly, Sanzo couldn’t work up the indignity to care.

Gojyo worked his way back up Sanzo’s back, skin hot and damp, one hand still between Sanzo’s body and the mattress, the other one sliding up Sanzo’s ribs to the pit of his arm, lingering there a moment, fingertips swirling, teasing, before moving up to clasp his hand. He asked something, his voice a hazy murmur against the pounding of Sanzo’s blood.

Sanzo only halfway comprehended it, talk not being high on the things his mind needed to keep track of at the moment. An answer seemed to be the way to get Gojyo on track, so Sanzo gave him one – – and again when prompted, which seemed to make Gojyo happy, for he levered himself up and guided himself inside and began that satisfying rhythm that he really was rather good at.

Sanzo came and Gojyo paused, groaning a little and tightening his grip on Sanzo’s body as Sanzo’s body spasmed around his – – then picked up his own pace, drawing it out a little longer than he usually did, while Sanzo lay beneath him, trying to gather the edges of his scattered wits.

He had them back by the time Gojyo finished. He wanted a smoke in a bad way and pushed Gojyo off as soon as Gojyo left his body to fumbled around in the dark for the pack on the floor by his bed. One left. One lone cigarette, which meant he’d have to go out early and buy another pack if he wanted to soothe the nicotine craving he usually woke up to.

“Bum a drag?” Gojyo asked, after Sanzo had lit up and sucked down a lung-full of smoke. Why not? He was feeling unusually generous. He passed the smoke over and the tip flared orange as Gojyo inhaled. He handed it back.

“Told you.” He said after a while, once he’d voided the smoke from his lungs.

“Told me, what?”

“No blood and bruises.”

Sanzo blinked up into the shadows, not getting it. “That means something?”

Gojyo lifted himself onto an elbow and Sanzo could practically feel him grinning in the dark. “I told you we weren’t going to have the blood and the bruises and whatnot the next time we did it.”

Oh. That. He did vaguely recall that.

“It wasn’t so bad not kicking each other’s asses beforehand.”

Sanzo shrugged. “Tolerable.” He’d admit that much.

“Tolerable, my ass. I had you begging for it.”

Sanzo blinked again – – slowly assimilating that claim. “Fuck off.” Genjo Sanzo didn’t beg.

“All’s you gotta do is ask.”

“Are you sleeping here tonight?”

“You want me to.”

“I could care less. The operative word there was Sleep. I don’t care where you do it, as long as you shut your mouth and get to it.”

Sanzo damned well had begged for it. Though it was only some perverse need to Gojyo to prove to himself that he could make him do it, that had spurred him to require it.

Do you want it?

Pant. Pant.

How bad do you want it, monk?

Pant. Pant.

Do you want it, Sanzo?


Ask – – nice.

– – – please.


PLEASE – – –

He replayed that over in his mind happily, and again. Very proud of himself. Utterly pleased with his self-control. He hadn’t been practicing a lot of that lately, with no women to impress. Women demanded a certain finesse – – or he demanded of himself with them – – that just didn’t seem quite as important with a man. Though Gojyo had to admit that he had a lot less experience with men than women. Sanzo wasn’t exactly his first – – Gojyo had been around way, way too much for that – – but he was certainly a learning experience. He was the prettiest, though. Damn sure the prettiest man that Gojyo had ever slept with or fucked or had a ten minute grope and grind with in some dark alley behind some nameless tavern. Hell, he was prettier than a good deal of the woman Gojyo had been with over the years and that was a damn lot of women to compare. Bitchier than most of them, but like most really beautiful things, he could get away with it most of the time. People that weren’t out to kill him let it slide, sort of looking at him with that awe that was half due to the fact that he was an honest to god Sanzo in their midst and half due to the fact that he was just freakin’ gorgeous. Gorgeous with an attitude and a gun and those three combined made a damned dangerous package.

Not that Gojyo was intimidated by him. Well, not much at any rate. Not unless the muzzle of the gun was pointed his way – – because he honestly didn’t trust Sanzo’s self-control when he was in one of his moods enough not to worry about life and limb. It was damned gratifying though, to watch the monk in action against somebody he didn’t much care for.

Nicer still when he was relaxed and half asleep, when his breathing had gone all slow and even and he didn’t protest a body slipping a little closer to share heat. Shame that it took either the onslaught of orgasm or unconsciousness to get his defenses down. But there was only so much that Gojyo could complain. A body had to learn to take what it was given or go without. He’d never much cared for going without.

It was raining. Hard. Torrential downpour like the onset of a monsoon. And like blood gushing out from a savaged major artery it was hot and thick.

Somewhere in the back of his mind, Sanzo knew it was a dream – – just knew it – – and still he was caught up in it, breathless and uncertain and running towards a grisly scene that he already knew the outcome of. He’d seen it all before. A hundred times before in his nightmares – – it was only recently that it had taken on a different slant. Only recently since the Beast at Ho’ga had slithered into his head that the nightmare had began to alter.

Himself reaching that room. That meticulously ordered room that smelled of jasmine and incense and more subtly of Komyou’s own unique personal scent. Sliding back the door and seeing Komyou’s serene, open smile. All his perceptions of what was good in the world centered around that wise, patient smile. It wasn’t like Hakkai’s smile, that hid layers and layers of guilt and grief. It was honest and welcoming and it hid nothing, only revealed the wisdom and the generosity of the man who wore it.

At least that’s what Sanzo had always thought. He saw the falsehood tonight, as Komyou welcomed him in with a graceful motion of his hand. There was no sound but the rush of the rain. No sound from Sanzo’s lips as he tried to warn of what was coming. At least that was the same. No matter how the dream went, he never could manage to stave off the inevitable.

They weren’t alone. Sanzo looked up and saw the ghostly outlines of watchers – – not human certainly. Gods. Or the minions of gods who at the very least had foreseen this – – if not had a hand in it. Because without it – – Sanzo’s life might have taken a different path.

He turned to look at Komyou, to see if he noticed the apparitions – – but his master – – his beloved master and teacher – – was staring with serene acceptance at the door that Sanzo had not quite securely shut. Like he knew. Like he expected the mad youkai to come charging into the room with a sword that had already tasted innocent blood clutched in its hand. If the beast had been right, he had known. Had accepted and gone along with the atrocity because the gods had told him in some dream or some vision or even perhaps straight up – – as they communicated with Sanzo on occasion – – that it was his destiny. Just one more way to manipulate Sanzo into doing what the gods insisted was his destiny.

Well, fuck the gods and fuck their machinations in the dark. And damn, damn, damn if he couldn’t almost hate Komyou for accepting it – – knowing how much it would hurt Sanzo – – he had to have known – –

The youkai burst in, ripping the door of its track, snarling and wet and wild eyed. Sanzo screamed in rage/fear/denial, but he made no sound. Helpless. Helpless again and again and again. He hated it. He hated them. Hated Komyou at that moment as much as he’d loved him, even as the man pushed the boy aside to shield him from the killing blow – –

“Nooooo!!!” Sanzo screamed it and this time the sound reverberated in his ears and this time he was damned and determined to put a chink in the all important destiny. His. Komyou’s. That wretched youkai killer’s.

With single minded desperation he called on a power that he shouldn’t have had then – – and the sutra responded, springing forth, rushing past Komyou and enveloping the youkai – – –

– – Something hit him. Hard. And Sanzo blinked in confusion, the tendrils of the sutra residing. Himself crouching in the center of a room that was nothing like Komyou’s – – that was vaguely familiar and in more of a shambles than it had been when he’d last seen it. The window was shattered, the last remaining furniture overturned. Gojyo was sprawled in a corner, tangled in sheets, one leg over the upended bed, eyes wide with fright. Sanzo looked down, numbly focusing on the boot at his knees. That’s what had hit him. Gojyo’s boot. He could still feel the hollow pulsing of the impact against his cheek. The sutra was in a puddle on the floor nearby, inert and placid now that Sanzo had come back to his senses. He’d never summoned its power before in the throes of nightmare – – at least he didn’t think so. He was surprised that he could.

“Sanzo – -?” Gojyo sounded shaky. Rightfully so, rudely awaken by such a thing.

“I’m sorry.” Sanzo murmured.

“What the fuck – -? That just – – up out of nowhere – – Goddamnit!” Gojyo was a little too scattered for proper sentence structure.

“Are you okay?” Sanzo peered through the dim light at him. Hurting Gojyo in the throes of his own personal nightmare did not sit well. The numbness was fading, leaving weariness in its wake. He reached for his robe.

“Yeah.” Gojyo admitted, untangling himself from the snarl, all long limbs and lean, hard body and hair turned to inky darkness in the shadows.

The door burst open without the benefit of a proper knock. A very hastily dressed Hakkai pelted in, with a wild eyed Goku hot on his heels. Goku had his bo in hand, looking for enemies to smite. Sanzo pulled the edges of his robe together and went to the window, careful of glass, letting Gojyo assure the other two that there were no enemies presently that needed pummeling.

“What happened, Sanzo?” Hakkai asked, carefully approaching.

“Watch out for the glass.” Sanzo said.

“Sanzo?” Hakkai was not so easily distracted.

“Nothing. Just a bad dream.”

“It must have been a particularly awful one.” Hakkai said carefully. “For you to call on the power of the sutras.”

“How’d you know he did that?” Gojyo asked, the sheet twined about his hips, sitting on the edge of the overturned bed.

Sanzo didn’t bother to second the question, knowing full well that Hakkai’s perceptions were disturbingly sharp. Hakkai would damn well know what it was that had come rushing up to disturb the night.

Sanzo shrugged. He would not speak of it. Absolutely would not.

“Sanzo?” That was Goku sensing things were afoot and not knowing what to do about it, other than seek assurance from Sanzo that everything was fine and that no – – Sanzo’s seams were beginning a slow unravel. The concern was utterly wholehearted, Goku’s intentions, unlike everyone else in the world that had ever had an interest in Genjo Sanzo, being entirely for Sanzo and having nothing to do with himself. Even Komyou, when you got right down to it, had ulterior motives, pure though they might be – – or, if Sanzo were to believe the urgings of his sub-conscious – – those intentions might have been spurred on by the fate that he’d seen for his disciple.

It was damned hard lying to Goku sometimes. Hard to look in the face of all that genuine, honest concern and come up with a bald-faced fabrication. “Everything is fine. I’m just going to have to pay for a window now, along with – -” he cast a glance around at yet another piece of shattered furniture. ” – – the other stuff.”

* * *

It had to be a record. It was a week now. Hell over a week in a few hours when dawn rolled round again – – and Sanzo still wasn’t pressing to move on. He hadn’t sat still in one place so long since they’d began this journey westward.

Sanzo was in a sulk. A depression. A mood to end all moods, if Gojyo were any judge. It was beginning to piss him off. It hadn’t gotten really bad until the incident with the nightmare and the sutra’s going all crazed in the middle of the night. After that, if you could manage to get even a word out of the monk, it was a grand accomplishment. He spent a lot of time out in the city alone. He came back more often than not drunk and barely coherent. But the sex was good, even though it felt like a man was taking advantage of a monk that could hardly recall his own name. He didn’t feel bad enough not to keep doing it. Sanzo was particularly open to experimentation when he was smashed. Sanzo was pretty much willing to let Gojyo do what Gojyo wanted on such occasions. He gave the most amazing head when he was drunk and left Gojyo’s cock smelling faintly of whisky or sake or whatever it was that Sanzo had been swilling, in the process.

If the monk hadn’t been deep in the midst of some personal dilemma that he absolutely refused to talk about and suffering because of it – – well, this would have been as close to nirvana as Gojyo could have imagined a body could get this far out into the uncivilized lands.

He and Hakkai talked about it during the day when Sanzo had gone sulking off to start the cycle all over again and Goku moped around the city, dreadfully depressed over Sanzo’s odd behavior. Well they didn’t talk about the sex – – for the most part – – but about how long this streak of Sanzo’s was going to last and what they were going to do about it if he didn’t snap out of it soon. And the cause.

“He dreams about his old teacher a lot.” Gojyo said, sitting on the grass in one of Tinto’s small parks. Hakkai sat with his back to a tree across from him, stroking the sinewy white neck that draped around his own. A soft, content purring rose from the sleeping dragon.

“And he’s cursing the gods, which sort of freaks me out a little, him having a more direct line to them than most folk. I don’t relish having one of them send a bolt of lightening down or something to smite him for his disrespect with me sleeping in the same room.”

“Not to mention Sanzo getting charred crispy.” Hakkai reminded him with a smile.

“Yeah. Not to mention that.” Gojyo took a long drag off his smoke, uncomfortable. It was one thing – – a damned big thing, to be honest – – to admit to Hakkai he was screwing the monk – – it was quite another to admit that he gave a goddamned what happened to him. You got protective and soft hearted over women – – not over men. No matter how sweet they felt under you or how hot their lips around your cock felt or that they swallowed and didn’t complain about it. Well, that last he figured was only thanks to the liquor. He didn’t imagine a stone sober Sanzo would appreciate a mouthful of cum. He rather imagined he’d be rather violently put out.

“It all goes back to that demon in Ho’gah village.” Hakkai said. He’d theorized on that before, on just how badly that dark, vengeful spirit had messed with Sanzo’s head. Sanzo wouldn’t speak of it. Sanzo wouldn’t speak of any of the things that really mattered to him. Like somebody else knowing or even – – god help him – – trying to help out, would make him weaker.

“I don’t know if it’s that.” Hakkai said thoughtfully. “But maybe. I think Sanzo is scared and that makes him angry, but he doesn’t really have anything to take it out on – – so he’s finding other outlets.”

“Scared? Sanzo? Like hell. And what do you mean no outlet. He bitches at us all the time.”

“Its not the same. Its really not the same.”

Sanzo scared. That made him think. Maybe it was true. He hadn’t called up the sutra’s that night because he was feeling comfortable. So his nightmares were terrifying him and he couldn’t shake it. That was understandable. Gojyo had experienced quite a few horrifying nightmares himself – – and had sometimes been grouchy the day after – – but he hadn’t just given up. And that’s what it seemed Sanzo was doing. Giving up the journey, loosing himself in any escape he could find. Using the booze. Using Gojyo. Gojyo didn’t like it, but it made sense.

It came to a head that afternoon. Sanzo returned early from his haunts, not as drunk as he had been the last few nights, a faint scowl on his face, but overall calm and cool and focused. He showed up at the end of their table during dinner and Goku’s face lit up like he’d come bearing gifts or something. The kid’s memory was short enough, Gojyo thought, that it must have seemed eons to him since Sanzo had sat at a table with them, instead of days.

“Sanzo! You going to eat dinner with us? We’re having the house specialty and noodles and – – ”

“Shut up, Goku.” Sanzo said, not looking at him. Not looking at any of them really. Goku did, happy enough to take the abuse over nothing at all.

“The mission is over. I’m not doing this anymore. The gods can find somebody else to slay their demon. Hakkai, take the sutra back to the temple. I don’t want it anymore.”

Hakkai stared at him, mouth open, caught so badly off-guard by that proclamation that he lost all grip on his usual bland expression.

“What the fuck does that mean?” Gojyo was shocked, but not into silence.

“What the fuck did it sound like? Was I speaking in tongues?”

“But – – Sanzo – -” Hakkai was still trying to get his wits together. Sanzo could not have said anything more shocking to them. Not a single thing came to mind that would have been more out of character.

“Are you out of your freakin’ mind?” Gojyo stood up, palms flat on the table. Pissed off. Righteously furious at that matter-of-fact announcement. “After dragging our assess all the way out here, you can’t just up and quit!”

“Stop me.” Sanzo said simply, and turned on his heel to walk away.

“Sanzo,” Goku spoke up, voice small and frightened. “What are we going to do?”

Almost, Sanzo hesitated. Almost his step faltered and he came close to looking over his shoulder, not able to shrug off Goku as easily as he could Gojyo and Hakkai, but with an effort of will he managed it. “Whatever you want. I don’t give a fuck.”

It took them all night to calm Goku down and even then it was only a temporary fix. The kid was so upset that he lost his appetite and for Goku that was a major thing. The kid didn’t understand. He couldn’t wrap his mind around the fact that Sanzo was throwing in the towel. Oh, he knew the monk was upset, but he knew less about why than Gojyo did and would have understood less than that if anyone had taken the time to explain it to him. Hakkai tried, in terms Goku could comprehend. The kid wasn’t stupid, he was just a little blind when it came to the damned monk. God knew why, when Sanzo never went out of his way to treat him kindly. Well, take that back, sometimes Sanzo surprised hell out of them and did show the kid consideration, but generally only when Goku was down and really needed it. Thing was, Gojyo didn’t think those rare acts of kindness came that hard to the monk, it was just he hated letting on that he was capable. It was like he was afraid somebody was going to start expecting it of him and then his reputation would be fucked good and proper.

He wasn’t in such a mood this week. Gojyo didn’t see him for two nights after his little announcement in the restaurant. If he came back to the room, he did it after Gojyo was asleep and left before he awoke. Personally Gojyo didn’t think he did and lost a few hours sleep wondering where in hell he was sleeping. Not jealous per say. Not really – – it wasn’t like the monk went out of his way to make new friends – – and who was Gojyo really, to complain if he did – – it was only the mood he was in – – he was as likely to be attracted to trouble as not. And though Sanzo was damned good at taking care for himself – – well, a body had to worry a little about a comrade so far off the beaten path.

He went out looking the third night, after Goku had taken all of Sanzo’s absence he could and had stormed off on his own to look for the monk. Hakkai and Gojyo had exchanged wary glances – – having put off too long trying to pin Sanzo down and talk to him themselves. It needed to be done and badly, it was just neither of them had particularly built up the fortitude to face him and do it. Not that it wouldn’t be on Hakkai’s shoulders eventually, since Gojyo and Sanzo’s conversations of late generally led to more physical endeavors than issues being resolved.

Hakkai went off after Goku, not wanting the kid loose in the city with that wild look in his eyes, and Gojyo went off on his own, heading the opposite way, down towards the riverside where the rent was lower and the lights stayed on longer through the night to accommodate the never ending stream of working class folk out to relieve the stress of the day.

There were block after block of bars and taverns, gaming rooms and houses of ill repute. Any vice a man might want was here. Rumor had it there more illicit things still, available down river in Tinto’s sister city of Ruvan. If you didn’t mind mixing with youkai that is. You heard tales in the bars of blood baths in Ruvan, where some youkai had gone blood crazy and rampaged until either the humans there or the other youkai cut him down. Rumor was it was getting worse, but then maybe it was just the poverty of Ruvan overwhelming rational. Ruvan wasn’t near as rich as Tinto, few of the decent factories wanting to stay where there were so many unpredictable youkai. Youkai might work for less, being youkai – – but nowadays, you couldn’t trust them.

Gojyo scowled, listening with half an ear to the talk going on at the bar, while he scanned over the heads of the patrons looking for that one fair head that would stand out among a sea of dark ones. It was the sixth maybe seventh bar he’d strolled through. He’d had drinks in a few of them, all the while asking himself why he was bothering. If Sanzo didn’t want to be found, Sanzo wouldn’t be found. If Sanzo didn’t want to talk to them, nobody was going to force him. Besides, he was getting tired of the slurs.

The folk here, living so close to a town with a healthy youkai population knew the signs of a half breed. After the second comment about the color of his hair and the red of his eyes and the implied insult on his parentage, he was ready to crack a few heads together. He refrained, not drunk enough yet, or offended enough to want to take on an entire bar.

Still, it put him in a fine mood when he finally did find the monk.

Sanzo was playing at dice, at a corner table at the back of one smoky bar at the very edge of the riverside. The smell of old fish and bilge water from the docks not so far away competed with the sour smell of cheap bear and body odor. It wasn’t the sort of tavern Gojyo would have thought Sanzo found appealing. But then, Sanzo was far from sober.

He stood around the table in the company of a half dozen other surly looking characters, black shirt, black jeans, hair a pale, pale fringe over the collar of the shirt. Apparently his luck had been good, for he had a small pile of coin beside him on the table. More so than the other players, who weren’t looking all that pleased with his winning streak.

Gojyo stalked over, stopping close enough on Sanzo’s elbow that the monk glanced over his shoulder with a warning growl. It took a second for those violet eyes of his to focus on Gojyo and a half second more for his mind to put a name to the face. He didn’t say a thing. Just sniffed and turned back to the game. The lot of miscreants around the table looked as likely to stab you as throw a hand of dice with you.

“Well at least your taste in drinking buddies can’t get any worse.” Gojyo commented and got a few dull glowers for his trouble.

“What the fuck do you want?”

“You find a new bed somewhere? Haven’t seen you in a few days.”

“None of your business.”

“Oh – – really? Yeah, why should I give a rat’s ass if you end up dead in the river. ‘Cept Goku would be upset and he’d probably cry and I can’t stand people crying over shit that doesn’t deserve the effort.”

Sanzo glared up at him, pissed off at that. “You fucking asshole – -” He was just drunk enough, Gojyo thought, to actually use the gun he was fumbling for.

“Toss the dice or get out of the game.” Someone barked from across the table, effectively drawing Sanzo’s attention away from Gojyo. The gun came out and there was a collective shying away, a collective ducking for cover and possible grabs for other concealed weapons. Fuck.

Gojyo caught Sanzo’s wrist from behind, wrapping his other arm around Sanzo’s waist and dragging him backwards. Sanzo cursed and made a swipe at the pile of coin with his other hand, managing to gather a little of it and scattering the rest.

“Goddamned you, Gojyo, my money.”

“Fuck your money.” Gojyo had the gun hand down at Sanzo’s side, out of easy view. Sanzo was struggling a little, but not enough to cause much notice as Gojyo forced him through the crowd and outside. When they were on the dark street, Sanzo wrenched his arm away, staggering a step when Gojyo simply let go. He was wasted enough to have to take a second to gather his balance before he spun and hissed.

“I ought to shoot you.”

“Yeah, you ought to.” Gojyo agreed. “Try it.”

Sanzo scowled and brought the gun up, ready to pull the trigger. Gojyo yelped and ducked under his arm, faster by far than a drunk monk, and came up, twisting Sanzo’s wrist hard enough to make him hiss. Gojyo ended up with the revolver and before Sanzo could demand its return, Gojyo smiled and tossed it into the mouth of a dark, dirty alley.

“Shoot me now, monk.”

Sanzo’s eyes went wide with indignant shock. He mouthed a no doubt despicable curse and shoved Gojyo hard, before stalking towards the alley to retrieve his gun. Gojyo sauntered behind, figuring it would be an amusing spectacle watching the monk sift through accumulated garbage looking for it.

Sanzo kicked at a pile of wadded paper, practically growling in his disgust.

“You half-breed son of a youkai bitch asshole.”

“Watch what you say, you might piss me off and you haven’t got your little gun to give you an advantage this time.” Gojyo drawled through clenched teeth.

Sanzo hissed, whirling to swing at him. It was a pretty decent hit, considering how off the monk’s balance was. Gojyo took it on the jaw and tasted blood in his mouth. He hit back and connected. Sanzo reeled back, tripped over a pile of debris and hit the grimy wall of the tavern, legs splayed wide to keep from toppling over completely. Gojyo shoved him back when he tried to push away from the wall and pressed against him, holding him there.

“What was that you called me, dirty monk?”

Sanzo glared at him furiously. “A half -bree – – ”

Gojyo slammed his head back with a palm to the forehead. The back of Sanzo’s head hit the wall with a solid thump and his mouth opened with the beginnings of a curse. Gojyo cut that off too, covering Sanzo’s mouth with his own in a harsh parody of a kiss. Teeth and tongues and lips clashed. It was hard to tell who’s blood flowed the most freely, but both their mouths were hot with it. Sanzo’s fingers clawed at his back, nails biting into flesh even though the layer of clothing.

Gojyo’s fingers tore at the button of Sanzo’s jeans, jerked the zipper down and hinged in the belt loops, ripping the pants down past the monk’s thighs. It bared the sleek whiteness of Sanzo’s groin, the sliver of belly visible through the unbuttoned lower half of the shirt, and the bobbing pink of his erection.

Gojyo pressed his hips hard against Sanzo’s, grinding him against the wall. It had to have hurt, Gojyo’s belt buckle and the coarse material of his pants on the one side and the rough wall on the other and only bare flesh in-between. He raked his hands up under the fall of black shirt, over the hard, lean muscles covering Sanzo’s ribs, to the taught little nipples, hard as rocks under his fingers. Sanzo cried out, slamming his head back against the wall again of his own accord, trying to get to Gojyo’s pants and not able to quite maneuver it, flattened as he was between Gojyo and wall,

“Goddamn you – -” Sanzo gasped and gasped again as Gojyo scraped the front of his trousers forcefully against Sanzo’s livid cock. “Oh – – god – – god – – Gojyo – – just – – do – – it.”

Gojyo grinned, reaching down to push Sanzo’s jeans far enough down to catch them with the toe of his boot. He stepped down, pooling them at Sanzo’s feet, then caught one of the monk’s knees and lifted his leg up and out of them, sans sandal. He leaned forward, pressing all of his weight against the monk, forcing Sanzo’s knee to his chest and his other foot halfway off the ground, fastening his lips to that particular hollow under the monk’s ear that he found so appealing. He thrust again, hard and hurtful, wanting the grimace of pain he got in payment for the half-breed comment.

He unzipped after that, just loosened his fly without even bothering with his belt, pulled himself out one handed, smearing the pre-cum leaking out of the tip of his cock around the head with his thumb. He unerringly found the entrance between Sanzo’s legs and shoved up with a grunt, seating himself down the root.

Hot, tight smoothness welcomed him. Sanzo pressed his face into Gojyo’s shoulder, teeth latching hold of his jacket to muffle the cry. Gojyo thrust again, angry and hard and desperate. Sanzo’s foot left the ground, his back scraped against the wall. He cried out occasionally, gasping little moans that came and went in time with Gojyo’s harsh rhythm. And in between them ragged whispers in Gojyo’s ear. Harder. Faster. Harder.

It was enough to make Gojyo loose his hold on time and place and situation, blanking his mind of everything but the heat that sucked him in, the overwhelming sensations that fanned out through his body from that one central point between his legs. In this dark, decrepit alleyway, under the pretense of violence, a burning blood lust came over him that took away reason. That took away everything but the heat of the body he thrust into. He couldn’t seem to delve deep enough – – if he went any deeper Sanzo would swallow him up and he’d cease to exist.

Sanzo came, wetting Gojyo’s shirt and slicking his own belly, muscles clenching around Gojyo’s cock so tightly that he cried out. It pushed him over the edge and into those few brief moments of ultimate bliss that accompanied his balls tightening up and emptying themselves into a willing vessel. Gojyo thrust rapidly, eyes shut and teeth clenched in orgasm, fingers biting into Sanzo’s hip and leg so hard that his nails left little bloody crescent moon shapes in otherwise perfect flesh. And then he could breath again and think coherently.

Sanzo’s arms were around his neck. Tight. His face pressed against Gojyo’s neck. His cheek was damp. The way he was breathing – – uneven little hitches – – sounded like sobs. Reaction to a damn powerful climax. Gojyo felt it in his own chest. Short of breath and wasted. Gojyo let Sanzo’s leg down, but kept his other arm about his waist. Lifted a hand and spread his fingers out in Sanzo’s golden hair. Soft and silky and cool to the touch, so unlike the fevered heat of his skin. He stroked it, leaning there and trying to catch his breath. And for a few rare moments, Sanzo was dazed enough and drunk enough to appreciate it. And for those few moments, with his hand in impossibly soft, improbably colored hair and Sanzo’s breath warm against his neck and Sanzo’s arms around his neck, he was sorry he’d hurt him – – and he damn well had, no question there – – but then the monk came back to himself with a start and shattered the moment of regret.

Sanzo’s head came up and his hands shoved hard at Gojyo’s shoulders. “Son of a bitch.” He hissed. “Back off!”

Gojyo did, tucking himself back into his pants in the process. Sanzo glared at him, back pressed to the wall, long black shirt covering his now limp organ, but not the lean length of his legs. Nor the trail of blood sneaking down the inside of one thigh or the marks of Gojyo’s fingers.

“Sorry. Sanzo – – sorry.” Gojyo said, meaning it.

Sanzo glared and dropped into a crouch, grabbing after his jeans and sandals. “Fuck off. Like anything you’re capable of could hurt me.”

Gojyo crouched down to be at eye level, then let his gaze swing down between Sanzo’s legs. “I made you bleed. That must have hurt.”

“You’ve made me bleed before.”

“You haven’t cried before.”

Sanzo blinked at him, all the anger washed away in a moment of pure shock. He lifted a hand, touching his cheek, catching moisture on his fingers and staring at it appalled. He opened his mouth. Shut it. Stood up with a grunt and stepped into his jeans.

“Damn cheap beer.” He muttered finally. “I hate cheap beer.”

“Yeah.” Gojyo agreed. “That cheap stuff will fuck you up every time. Must have been the beer.”

“Find my fucking gun.” Sanzo stalked away, trying for all he was worth not to walk like he was in discomfort. He had a smoke between his lips by the time Gojyo caught up with him and a hooded, speculative look in his eyes.

“Should I take the bullets out before I give this to you?” Gojyo inquired.

Sanzo held out his hand.

Gojyo laid the gun across his palm and the monk slipped it into his waistband.

“So where we going?” Gojyo kept Sanzo’s pace easily.

“We’re not going anywhere?”

Gojyo kept walking, until the monk finally glanced askance at him from under the tousled fall of his hair. “To bed. I’m going to go to bed. Alone.”

Gojyo shrugged. “Okay. I’m a little tuckered myself.”

Sanzo cast a glare back at him, eyes hardly visible from beneath the shadows of too long hair. Gojyo knew they must have been narrowed dangerously from the set of his mouth, from the almost visible tick in his cheek that was a damn sure warning that there was a great deal of anger being suppressed. Which was an oddity in itself, since Sanzo usually didn’t go to much effort to actually hold in the irritation.

“You’re not welcome.”

“What? In the room? Why the hell not? You develop a sudden sense of modesty?”

“Fuck off. Sleep with Hakkai and Goku.”

“They’re better company than you, you damn cranky bastard. What the hell is wrong now? Is it that I kicked your ass back there, or that I saw you shed tears?”

Sanzo stopped and took a shuddery breath, fists clenched at his side, a very low growling sound emanating from his throat.

“I – – wasn’t – – fucking – – crying – – asshole.” He had to take another breath. “And you didn’t kick my ass.”

Gojyo snorted. He’d done something to it. “You know, if you’ve got something going on – – some big problem you’re wrestling with – – it wouldn’t hurt to – – you know – – maybe talk to us about it, instead of running off all half-cocked and quitting the mission and all that.”

“The only problem I have is you and if you don’t leave me alone, I swear to fucking god I’m going to shoot you.”

“Okay, then go and talk to Hakkai if all’s you wanna do is fuck me – -”

“Would you shut up?” Sanzo had to have bloody gauges in his palms from his nails by now.

Gojyo ignored the suggestion and went on. ” – – ’cause you know, Hakkai’s really good at listening and hashing things through and he thinks maybe you’re all uptight still about what happened in Ho’gah with that demon getting into your head – – -”

“Would you and Hakkai stop talking about me!” Sanzo snapped. “God, you’re babbling on more than Goku, tonight. What the fuck is your problem?”

Gojyo leaned in close, eyes narrowed and threw Sanzo’s answer to the similar question he’d asked him back to him. “You are, asshole and you’re Hakkai’s problem and Goku’s problem and you don’t give a flying fuck.”

“Just shut up. You don’t know anything about anything, so why are you making noise at me that doesn’t have any meaning.”

“I know you’re pissed at somebody and it isn’t us.” Gojyo snapped, irritated and letting slip things he probably ought not have because of it. “I know you’re cursing the gods at night when you sleep – – and Komyou.”

Mistake. Sanzo drew a hissing breath in between his teeth. Gojyo didn’t get another sound out of him the rest of the walk back to the inn. There was something hostile enough and dangerous enough in that silence that made Gojyo knock on Hakkai’s door without a second thought and take refuge in with him and Goku for the night.

It had gone too far. Sanzo realized that with an unnerving flutter of nausea in his gut. He lay in the darkness and stared at the ceiling, head reeling just a little from the after effects of too much drink mixed with one too many blows to the head. It was a hard thing to admit. If he was loosing control of the situation this badly, then this thing with Gojyo had to stop.

Gojyo was overstepping his bounds, taking liberties that had nothing to do with sex. If it had just been the sex, Sanzo could have dealt with it. The sex was fine – – he just didn’t like the vulnerability. He didn’t like loosing control to someone else – – especially someone as irksome as Gojyo. He’d been waging a running battle with Gojyo for just that since they’d first met. Two assertive, dominant personalities clashing – – it had only turned personal – – really, really personal of late when the sex had come into the mix. And with the addition of that Gojyo thought he had the right to meddle. He thought he had the right to delve into areas that he was in no wise welcome. And somehow Sanzo had relaxed enough to let things slip – – and that was the crux of the matter. It was him – – not so much Gojyo that was the problem. Because no matter how he tried to skew the reality for his own peace of mind – – when the heat of the moment overcame him he forgot all about pretense and barriers and who was supposed to be in charge of who. He liked being slammed against a wall and fucked as much as he liked Gojyo’s mouth between his legs discovering creative ways to make him loose his mind. He liked, for those few brief moments, the closeness of another human being – – even if the human being in question was half a youkai.

Hell – – he liked Gojyo more than he thought he ever would – – certainly more than he’d ever admit – – at least when he wasn’t driving him up a wall fighting with Goku or going out of his way to find Sanzo’s very last nerve and snap it.

When had that happened? Was it a by product of the sex – – or had it happened before that? He honestly didn’t know, but it worried him. The liking of people. Once you started really liking people you were opening yourself to pain. Casual acquaintances couldn’t really hurt you if they ended up dead or if they stabbed you in the back. You could say a few words over their graves or shoot them between the eyes as the situation demanded and that was that. Life would go on.

When the people you loved died or betrayed you – – well life didn’t go on – – not like it had before. Things were always inevitably altered and one more piece of your soul was eaten away by the grief. Wasn’t it really simpler to avoid caring?

But he’d slipped. God knew Goku had wormed his way past defenses – – with his innocence and this utter belief in Sanzo. As if Sanzo warranted it. And Hakkai had sort of eased in without ever really trying, placid and understanding and reliable, with enough turbulent waters under the calm surface to make you go to efforts to figure him out.

And Gojyo – – it was just the sex. It was just the sex. No matter that it was too damned alluring to lie next to him afterwards when he was asleep and enjoy his warmth and the feel of his hair and indulge in a sort of human comfort that had nothing to do with sex and everything to do with weakness.

If he wanted to make a break – – he couldn’t stay here with them. They would meddle and they would pry and eventually he’d be weak enough to cave and all the dirty little secrets would be out. He couldn’t stand the humiliation. He couldn’t stand them knowing how weak he was, to be used so – – to be lied to so easily. He couldn’t stand them wanting to help or god – – god – – wanting to comfort. So somebody had to go.

He figured, as he lay there, fighting the oncoming waves of dizziness and nausea that were the preamble to hangover, that that somebody needed to be him.


“Sanzo, where are you going?” Goku jumped up, knees jarring the table, sloshing Hakkai’s hot tea onto Gojyo’s hand. Gojyo hissed, jerking the member back.

“Watch what you’re doing, clumsy ape.” He snarled, in no good mood himself this morning, having slept on the floor of Hakkai and Goku’s room with only a thin blanket between him and the warped planks of the floor. Goku ignored the insult, more interested in Sanzo’s descent down the stairs than slurs against his possible ancestry. Gojyo wasn’t particularly interested in Sanzo at all, placing the full blame for an uncomfortable night’s sleep on the monk’s shoulder. If not for Sanzo’s foul mood, he could at the very least have had a comfortable mat to sleep on, if not – – if luck and drunkenness were on his side – – a warm body to couple with. But no matter how warm the body, the heart was still cold as a chunk of ice, so Gojyo didn’t lament the loss of the latter to badly.

“Sanzo, what do you have there?” Goku had bounded around the table to confront the monk at the bottom of the stairs. Gojyo looked up from his reddening hand at Hakkai’s in-drawn breath. Sanzo had his travel pack over one shoulder and a look in his eyes that was cold and hostile. He walked past Goku, like the kid wasn’t even there and tossed something at Hakkai. It was the rolled sutra. Hakkai blinked and fumbled for it, staring down at it in shock, then back up at Sanzo.

“Why – -?”

“I told you.” Sanzo said. “I quit. Take care of this. Take it back and let them give it to some other id – – – to someone else. I’m leaving.”

“But – – Sanzo – -” Goku wailed stricken. “You haven’t even given us time to pack. We haven’t finished breakfast.”

“You’re not going with me.” Sanzo looked at the kid, finally, his mouth drawn taught, his eyes narrow. “I’m sick of you all. Go back home. Do whatever. Its over.”

“But Sanzo – -”

“Just shut the fuck up.” Sanzo snarled at Goku.

“The kid doesn’t have a home, asshole.” Gojyo snapped. “What’s he supposed to do, go back and ask to live in your old room?”

“No. No. I’m going with Sanzo.” Goku declared, face set and eyes adamant.

Sanzo stared over his head, meeting Gojyo’s eyes, full of rage and determination and disdain. Like he’d spent the night alone making a list of all the things they’d ever done to tick him off. It was probably a damned long list. But there was a hint of something else there – – panic. And maybe just a hint of fear, but it was so hard to read through the predominant anger and Gojyo never had been that good at catching all the little nuances of expression that hid all those things that went on under the surface. Maybe he’d just never cared enough to make a study of it. Hakkai was good at it. But Hakkai wasn’t opening his mouth, wasn’t putting in the argument that Gojyo had hoped he might and he was the only one of them that might be able to twist Sanzo’s logic around and turn it to his advantage.

Sanzo wasn’t waiting for it. Sanzo turned his back on the lot of them and stalked towards the door. Goku made a plaintive little sound, turning distressed eyes to them for guidance. Gojyo didn’t have a shred of it. Hakkai was still acting shell shocked. The kid ran for the door, ready to dog Sanzo’s heels whether Sanzo wanted him to or not.

“Gojyo.” Hakkai said. “I think we ought to stop him from following Sanzo, just now.”

“Why? I hope he irritates the snot out of the prickly bastard.” As well as keep track of him. Sanzo could cover his tracks, but Goku left a damned conspicuous trail.

Hakkai shook his head, rising and hurrying to the door. Gojyo cursed in disgust and rose to follow. Goku was pelting through the morning foot traffic after the monk, calling his name like an abandoned wife.

Sanzo stopped, shoulders stiff, hands clenched at his sides. He turned after a heartbeat and the gun was in his hand. He didn’t even miss a beat. Just lifted his arm and squeezed the trigger. Goku howled and crumpled, even as the shot rang out. The passerby scattered for cover. Hakkai cried out and ran for Goku skidding to his knees next to the boy, who was clutching his leg above the knee with both hands. Blood seeped out from between his fingers, soaking the leg of his pants. Tears rolled down his cheeks, but Gojyo doubted somehow it was from the pain of the bullet in his leg, but more from the betrayal. That was what shone in those big golden eyes of his. Utter horror – – utter disbelief that the person he loved most in all the world, had just shot him down without batting an eye. Gojyo stood in the middle of a suddenly deserted street and stared at the monk. Somebody was growling. He realized it was him.

“I told you,” Sanzo said. “Not to follow me.”

“You – – bastard.” Gojyo hissed. He wanted to rip that gun out of Sanzo’s hand and pistol whip him with it. Sanzo didn’t give him the chance. He turned on his heel and walked away.