He’d done this before. The first time was when they needed to break the barrier around Kami-sama’s castle. They’d had an audience then and Goku had not been happy or pleased to have Sanzo writing on his body and sticking talismans on it. Goku had taken a swim in a nearby creek as soon as he broke through the barrier in order to wash off the writing as best he could.
The second time was when Sanzo wanted to reinforce the power of the Maten sutra before they broke into Houtou Castle. No one knew what they’d find there and prior experience with the Muten sutra left him desperate for any means of offsetting it.
By then, he and Goku were no longer guardian and charge, but something more he couldn’t explain. Whatever it was, they were alone when he started writing on that warm golden skin again. Goku complained that it tickled and in the ensuing melee his brushwork was totally messed up and he had to begin again. But he had no regrets and felt no recriminations over having to backtrack. For all he knew, they wouldn’t live to see each other again; it was a way of saying ‘good-bye’ without saying the words.
Tonight, though, is just for them. It had even been Goku’s idea, although he thinks he suggested it to humor him.
Before tonight, if you’d told him Goku would willingly stay still while he dips a brush in an inkpot and carefully guides the strokes of the characters onto his body, which is glistening with sweat, he would have told you that you were crazy. But Goku has turned into a willing and helpful canvas who lies still on his stomach when Sanzo starts at the upper right hand corner:Buddhas don't recite sutras. Buddhas don't keep precepts. And Buddhas don't break precepts. Buddhas don't keep or break anything. Buddhas don't do good or evil.
To find Buddha, you have to see your nature.
The brush skitters over Goku’s back as the candles sputter. He writes as if he is practicing his calligraphy like he did for Koumyou all those many years ago, trying to form the characters perfectly.
By the time he reaches the last sentence, he’s nearing the indentation in Goku’s back that ends just above his butt. He touches the tip of the now-drying brush where those inviting cheeks form. Goku’s butt twitches and bucks just a little at the feathery touch. Sanzo leans down and places a kiss just below the final brushstroke.
Now they have to wait for the ink to dry. Sanzo has some blotting paper ready but he doesn’t want to use it too soon. He can’t even kiss or caress other parts of Goku’s body, as there’s too much of a danger that he’ll shift around and smudge the writing, nor can he cover his exposed back either, so he slides in next to him, pulls the sheets and blankets up just below his waist, and slings an arm around his hips, holding him in place and (hopefully) keeping him warm. Goku nuzzles the crook of his neck and then his breathing evens out. The little shit’s fallen asleep on him.
Sanzo stays awake meditating, though whether on the sermon whose words he’s placed on Goku’s back or on Goku himself, he’s not sure. Eventually it all blends in together. That was the point of writing it, wasn’t it? Through the prism of Goku, he sees his nature transmuted and transformed into something better.
He’s not sure how much time has passed, but after awhile he sits up to check his handiwork. He picks up one of the candles and examines his living scroll. He touches one of the characters gently and checks his finger. No ink. He nudges the sleeping form, gently at first and then more insistently. He doesn’t want to startle him when he applies the blotting paper. He’s been hit by those flailing elbows one too many times already.
Goku snorts and lazily opens one eye. “Sanzo,” he whispers.
Sanzo places a kiss on the back of his neck in response. “I’m going to use the blotting paper now,” he whispers into his nape.
Goku moves his head in what is probably meant to be a nod. Sanzo begins placing the paper on top of his back and presses down firmly but without a lot of pressure, flattening the paper on the slightly sloped surface. He does this several times until all the writing has been blotted.
When he removes the paper, dropping it on the floor where they can damn well pick it up later, what he sees is no longer a Zen text but a work of art, brushstrokes and characters s sunk so deep into the glowing skin on that alluring back that it looks as if they’d been etched there. In the candlelight, the words dance.
Goku nods again. He pulls Goku up by the hips and they begin.
A/N The text used is from the Bloodstream Sermon, attributed to Bodhidharma (tr. by Red Pine). See http://www.e-sangha.com/alphone/dmhml-e.html.