Hakkai had never seen Sanzo as bloodied or broken in body and spirit as he was when they found him on that wooded mountain with Ukoku, Hazel, and Gat for company. Sanzo tried to hide it, but one touch and a glimpse of his chi were enough to tell Hakkai that the dark Sanzo priest who was somehow wrapped up in Sanzo’s past and their present had maimed him severely and almost succeeded in erasing any trace of his existence. If they hadn’t shown up when they did...
Hakkai was going to have to proceed slowly and conserve his chi if he were to have any hope of healing Sanzo’s injuries enough to get him out of here in one piece (more or less) without also wearing himself down to the nub. He held his hands out, concentrating first on the neck that had been injured when Goku pulled Sanzo away from Ukoku and tossed him down the slope.
Hakkai thought back to when they embarked on this quixotic quest and how Sanzo had shied away from his touch then. As healing was difficult, if not impossible, without direct contact, he’d had to lecture Sanzo about the need to touch him if his healing powers were to work to their fullest extent.
Sanzo had finally begrudgingly let him touch him when the pain of his cumulative injuries overcame even his strong and stubborn will. Hakkai knew that permission to touch wasn’t granted lightly and made sure he did so as gently and sparingly as possible to accommodate the man’s sensibilities.
Sanzo recalled him to the present by saying, “I wanna take another shot at that fucking bastard when he least expects it,” in a hoarse voice so quiet only Hakkai could hear him, and then only by bending down and listening intently. He could see how much forming each word hurt. “Heal me enough so I can do that.”
“I’ll do my best,” Hakkai promised him in a whisper.
“Whatcha talkin’ about over there?” Gojyo asked. His voice sounded somewhere between suspicious and amused. “Wanna share?”
“Ah ha, no, Gojyo, we’re just discussing Sanzo’s injuries. He doesn’t want to discuss the gory details with everyone.“
“Aw, like I told that creep, we see each other pathetic all the time!” Goku interjected.
Gojyo turned toward him. “I wasn’t asking you, chibi monkey!”
Hakkai sighed. He wanted to spare Sanzo the need to tell these two to zip it, so he had to take care of it himself. “That’s enough!” he said sharply. “We can’t afford to quarrel now. Save your sniping for later.”
Gojyo saluted him with his middle finger, but subsided. They heard a chuckle coming from Ukoku’s direction. “Marvelous teamwork you have going here, little Genjyo,” he smirked.
“Yeah, that’s what makes us so fucking special,” Sanzo muttered under his breath. Hakkai turned to him and shushed him too. Life was difficult enough without his patient adding to his difficulties.
Hakkai took Sanzo in his arms, propping him up so it looked like he was merely holding him in place. He prayed that Ukoku wouldn’t notice that behind the shield of Sanzo’s body, his hands were busy healing his broken arm and as many of his other injuries as he could to enable Sanzo to fire back at Ukoku.
Sanzo’s breath was coming out in short puffs, as if he were winded. Hakkai felt the bones in his chest. Yes, some of his ribs were cracked again. He almost chuckled at Sanzo’s carelessness. He’d long since realized that Sanzo had a reckless streak. He just didn’t know if it was innate or if it was due to pushing his limits to prove he could keep up with his three youkai companions.
Sanzo winced in pain and hissed at some of his touches, even though Hakkai was being particularly careful to be gentle given the extent of his injuries and his obvious bruises. So many yellow, black, and blue bruises blossomed on his skin that less of his usual pink skin tone showed than did the bruises. Nevertheless, the stoic so-and-so didn’t say anything despite his evident pain.
As his hands roamed over Sanzo’s broken body, Hakkai remembered the first time Sanzo had touched him back. It only involved placing his fingertips under Hakkai’s chin, but it conveyed a world of meaning, considering who was doing it. Other more intimate touches had succeeded it until it was no longer strange to hold Sanzo in his arms like this when they were alone.
Hakkai felt a sudden longing to lean forward and kiss Sanzo, but refrained, knowing it was inappropriate under the circumstances. Gojyo interrupted his train of thought by walking over to observe what was going on, chuckling, and saying, “You look pretty comfortable there, Princess.”
“Tch,” Sanzo said sharply, but with a weary quaver in his voice. He tried to look up at Gojyo through his blood-streaked hair, not entirely successfully.
“Rest up, Princess,” Gojyo said, smirking. “Let me and the monkey take care of things for now.”
Sanzo grunted, but it wasn’t clear whether it constituted assent or disagreement. Not that it mattered; he was in no shape to continue to fight.
Gojyo and Goku soldiered on in the struggle against Ukoku with occasional help from Hakkai. At one point, Sanzo and Hakkai taunted Hazel one after another to get him to fight back after Ukoku revealed the source of his power and in his confusion, the youkai that had been inside him all this time took over his body. Sanzo didn’t particularly like Hazel, but he didn’t want Ukoku subjugating him either. Whatever denied Ukoku power helped Sanzo’s cause too.
When Gojyo and Goku tried to rattle Ukoku by taunting and provoking him, his response was to destroy part of the mountain they were standing on. But as Sanzo and Hakkai began to realize that Gojyo and Goku were determined to persevere anyway, Sanzo muttered “Bring it on” under his breath so no one but Hakkai could hear him.
Hakkai surreptitiously caressed him on hearing those words, so characteristic of the man and his stubbornness. Gritting his teeth, he poured more chi out over Sanzo’s body, mending broken bones and healing ripped tendons and muscles. He hoped that when the right moment arrived, Sanzo would be able to retrieve his gun from wherever it was that he stored it when it wasn’t being used.
That thought became moot after Gat was mortally wounded trying to protect Hazel from the effects of Ukoku’s Muten Sutra. Hakkai covertly retrieved one of Gat’s weapons and slipped it to Sanzo. Immediately after Ukoku sent Hazel tumbling over the cliff, Sanzo brought the gun up in both hands and fired, the recoil making both his arms ache from fingertips to shoulders.
Shit. He’d aimed for Ukoku’s temple but had missed. He’d scored a hit, though; from the looks of it, the bullet might have hit an eye. The parallels to Hakkai came to mind. The irony made him chuckle a little until he slumped to the ground, exhausted.
He later awakened to find himself and his three companions sprawled face first on the ground. After a rousing game of rock paper scissors to determine who would carry him out (he won and crawled out on his own steam, body hurting beyond belief but dignity intact), they located Jeep and went on their way, together again.
Slumped over in his seat, Sanzo said to Hakkai, quietly, so the others couldn’t hear, “I wasn’t able to kill that shitty raven this time, but things would have been much worse without your touch and ability to heal.”
Hakkai glanced over at him and smiled briefly. He knew exactly what Sanzo meant by that, as well as what and how much he had left unsaid.