by Helena Handbasket
After nearly two weeks on the road without a village stopover, the Sanzo party arrived at a bustling hamlet, grouchy and squabbling as they secured four sparse but comparatively luxuriant rooms at the local inn. They all stunk to high heavens, and the first item on everyone’s agenda was a hot shower. Even Goku was more interested in bathing than eating, which was a peerless testament to just how badly he smelled. Sanzo, of course, claimed the right of first turn in the single communal bathroom at the end of the hall, Goku nipping plaintively at his heels and begging to go first. Toiletries bundled in his arms, Hakkai watched in amusement as Sanzo spread his fingers wide, placed his filthy hand on Goku’s face, and shoved him bodily from the bathroom, slamming the door behind him.
Goku pouted and plunked to the floor, having to settle for going second, while Hakkai ambled up to take the third position. Gojyo was the last to emerge from his room, towel draped around his neck, and when he saw the queue, he swore.
“What the fuck? This is going to take forever.”
“There’s no helping it,” offered Hakkai consolingly. “There’s only one shower, so here we are.”
“Screw this,” grumbled Gojyo, and stomped away to the melody of Goku’s mocking laughter.
Gojyo hadn’t come back by the time Hakkai’s turn rolled around, but he was too mud-covered and achy to worry much about it. The hot water was long-since depleted, and something about Goku’s creative method of drying himself had left sloppy puddles of water all over the floor. Still, he was grateful enough to have running water and the chance to wash away the accumulated grime of the road. He sighed contentedly under the pounding spray, scrubbing at his face and running his hands through his hair.
In theory, he didn’t have to rush, with the others already bathed and Gojyo off who-knew-where, but he nevertheless limited his time, careful not to let the water pressure drop too low. Gojyo always bitched about the lack of hot water in circumstances like these, but the only time he got really aggravated was when the shower head dwindled to a pathetic trickle, barely enough to wet his hair. Hakkai wanted to make sure that whenever his friend decided to come back, he’d at least be able to achieve that wonderfully clean feeling they’d all been longing for.
Once he felt presentable, Hakkai turned off the faucet and groped for the towel, rubbing it vigorously over his hair as he stepped out of the shower and into one of Goku’s puddles. When the corner of the towel flipped aside, he caught a flash of red in the peripheral vision of his bad eye and froze, then nonchalantly dried down the front of his chest and wrapped the towel around his waist. Looking up, he met eyes with Gojyo, who was leaning casually against the tiled wall.
“Um… what are you doing here?”
Gojyo shrugged, turning to the un-steamed-up mirror to check out his reflection and mess with his hair. “Just waiting for my turn.”
At Hakkai’s questioning glance, he elaborated, “I got bored in the hallway.” He met Hakkai’s gaze in the reflection and smirked.
With a vague nod, Hakkai took up a second towel and recommenced drying himself. “You seem to be in a better mood than you were earlier,” he remarked, frowning awkwardly as Gojyo whipped off his headband and shrugged out of his vest. It wasn’t that Gojyo was usually shy about nudity - Hakkai had spent three years of Sundays contending with a roommate clad in nothing but boxers – but he was usually pretty sensitive about Hakkai’s privacy, and this level of invasiveness was uncharacteristic.
Gojyo grinned like a maniac. “Of course I’m in a good mood. It’s finally my turn in the shower… not that I need it.”
“Here, take a whiff.” Stepping forward as he dropped his shirt to the floor, Gojyo lifted his chin, exposing the flesh of his throat for Hakkai’s inspection.
At first he recoiled, not wanting to be contaminated by Gojyo’s yet-unbathed form now that he finally felt human, but sympathy overtook him and he tentatively obliged – he couldn’t be rude, after all. His olfactory senses were braced for a debilitating reek, but as his nose neared that exposed nape, he found to his astonishment that Gojyo smelled… nice. The aroma was a complex mixture of exotic orchids, underscored with just a hint of pomegranate. It was an alluring scent, if a bit feminine for Gojyo’s style. Hakkai was sorely tempted to press his nose against Gojyo’s skin and inhale more deeply, but he resisted and drew back, eyes narrowed.
Gojyo was still grinning, and Hakkai suddenly recognized that look. It was Gojyo’s patented I-just-got-laid-and-that-makes-me-the-king-of-the-universe look. “Let me guess,” Hakkai sighed. “You decided it would be quicker to seduce some woman and use her shower and toiletries rather than wait for your turn.”
“Nope,” Gojyo replied, looking altogether too pleased with himself. He brushed past Hakkai with a wink and cranked on the shower with one hand as the other unbuckled his pants.
Hakkai scooped up his toiletries and hurried from the room, but he returned a moment later, struggling not to eye Gojyo’s naked body beneath the rushing water. “I’m just going to grab your clothes,” he stammered. “I promised Sanzo I’d do a round of laundry before we head to dinner.”
“Whatever floats your boat.” This response was soon eclipsed by an adamant gargle as Gojyo flung his head back and let the rushing water pour into his throat. Hakkai got the hell out of there because that intoxicating scent was filling the room, and there were certain sights that you just shouldn’t take in when you’re about to venture into a public laundry room wearing only a towel.
* * *
Hakkai and Goku were hanging out in Sanzo’s room when Gojyo reappeared, swaggering in with an air of triumph. He pulled out the chair next to Hakkai and slouched into it, legs splayed so that the towel parted to reveal long stretches of muscular thigh. “Clothes not done?” he casually inquired.
“Not yet,” Hakkai answered, averting his eyes. “They’re still drying. We’ve got another half an hour or so.”
“But I’m hungry now!” exclaimed Goku, lying back on the bed and kicking idly at the mattress, his towel flipping up and down with the motion of his legs.
“Will you shut up?!” Sanzo growled. His face emerged from behind his newspaper to berate Goku, but his gaze was distracted by the sight that awaited him on the adjacent chair. “Oh for fuck’s sake, roach, put that away. None of us is interested in your family jewels.”
Gojyo stiffened, as if suddenly aware of his degree of exposure, and sat up straight, pushing his knees together.
Sniffing in contempt, Sanzo went back to his paper, then lowered it again, eyes narrowed. He smelled the air experimentally. “What the hell is that?”
“What?” Gojyo inquired, still modestly rearranging his towel.
“That… that smell. That godawful flowery smell.”
As the others glanced around, Gojyo lifted a shoulder to sniff it. “Oh. That’s probably just my new cologne. Whaddya think?”
“I think you fucking reek.”
Gojyo smiled and leaned back in his chair, pillowing his head on his hands. “I’m glad to hear it.”
With a prurient raise of his eyebrows, Gojyo replied, “Because it’s not just a cologne – it’s a love potion.”
“A love potion?!” Goku bolted upright in bed, fascinated.
“Yep.” He smiled mischievously at Sanzo. “And it’s only supposed to work on people I want to fuck, so the fact that you hate it is proof positive that it’s working.”
Hakkai shifted in his chair and looked askance at Gojyo. He didn’t believe in love potions, not really, but even so, there was no way he was admitting that he actually kind of liked the smell.
“Tch,” Sanzo snorted. “As pleased as I am to hear that you’re not looking to defile my honor, I don’t want you stinking up my fucking room. Get out.”
Gojyo ignored him, while Goku bounced excitedly on the bed. “Where’d you get it?”
Smiling complacently, Gojyo shrugged. “From some witch in a back alley of the market square. She had all kinds of crazy potions and stuff, but this is her best seller. She said it ‘enhances attraction.’”
“Can I try some?”
“Sorry, monkey. Adults only.”
Gojyo looked sideways at Hakkai and waggled his eyebrows. “Tonight, I’m gonna chase me some tail.”
Rather than responding, Hakkai rose abruptly and said, “I’m going to go check on our clothes.” As he shuffled towards the laundry room, he shook his head at Gojyo’s folly. The alleged love potion was a probably a scam, but Gojyo clearly believed in it. Could he really be so desperate for sex that he would use such an amoral means to ensnare potential bed partners? He sighed. It was Gojyo. Of course he could.
* * *
Dinner that night was barely tolerable, with Gojyo ogling nearly every woman who entered the inn’s tavern. Hakkai tried not to bristle. Gojyo’s womanizing had always bothered him to a certain degree, but he’d never before been so eager and slavering about it. His confident nonchalance had always been the key to his seductive success.
“That one’s pretty hot,” Gojyo remarked, nodding at a young woman who had just arrived.
“Are you kidding me?” Sanzo scoffed. “I thought even you had better taste than that.”
“Since when did you become such a snob?”
“She’s practically deformed. Keep this up and they’ll take away your ‘Hot chicks only’ membership card.”
“No they won’t, because she’s hot.”
“And, apparently, you’re high.”
Hakkai chuckled lightly, hoping to derail the argument. “I believe as long as he’s objectifying women, Gojyo’s membership will remain intact.”
“Thank you, Hakkai,” Gojyo said primly, oblivious to the scolding nature of the remark. He rose and rubbed his hands together. “Now just stand back, boys, and watch the magic.”
As Gojyo strode confidently up to a gaggle of women at the bar, Sanzo pinched the bridge of his nose and said, “Hakkai, can’t you do something about this?”
“Like stop him. Rein him in. Keep him from getting us tossed out of this joint.”
Hakkai watched uncertainly as Gojyo slid deftly between a blonde and a brunette, slipping an arm around each of their waists. “I just don’t think that’s possible. He can be very willful at times.”
“There’s always a bucket of ice water,” Goku suggested.
“He had a cold shower this afternoon, if you’ll recall. It didn’t help.” That was the closest Hakkai would come to chiding Sanzo and Goku for depriving him and Gojyo of a decent shower.
“Well you’ve got to do something,” Sanzo demanded. “Look, that woman just slapped him. I am not giving up the first bed I’ve seen in weeks because that jackass can’t keep it in his pants.” He leaned forward, violet gaze intense. “You’re the only one who can control him.”
Hakkai lifted his eyebrows, strongly cognizant of how much pride Sanzo had had to sacrifice to utter such a remark. He contemplated, watching as Gojyo received a second slap. Well that was something, at least. It seemed this alleged love potion didn’t work on women who weren’t already attracted to him. Still, the tavern bouncer was already watching him keenly, piggy eyes squinting out from his scarred and weathered face.
“I suppose I could go talk to him,” he said with a shake of his head.
“Aw, do you have to?” Goku whined through a half-chewed dumpling. “I think it’s funnier this way.” He elbowed Sanzo and pointed to a woman with long black hair and a scandalously short skirt. “I hope that one slaps him next. Fifty yen, what do you say?”
“Just go, Hakkai. Now.”
Hakkai sighed and rose, straightening his tunic as he strode up to the bar, where Gojyo had found another blonde to hit on.
“So, you’re a singer, huh?” he was crooning. “That sounds interesting…”
Hakkai cleared his throat, exchanging a brief look with the woman. Her eyes weren’t exactly begging for rescue, but they exhibited something akin to pleasure and relief at his arrival. “Gojyo? A word?”
Gojyo’s eyes were already sparkling devilishly, but his smarmy smile broke into a beam. His arm shot around Hakkai’s shoulder to squeeze him to his side. “This is Hakkai,” he told the woman brightly, “my best friend in the world. He can give you a character testimonial if you’d like.”
“Ah, pleased to meet you,” Hakkai stammered, holding out his hand.
The woman took it and lifted her eyebrows in amusement. “Charmed, I’m sure.”
Gojyo grinned and planted a brief, sloppy kiss on the side of Hakkai’s head. It was one of those goofy kisses that drunk guys tended to dole out to their friends after slurring, “I love you, man” about a dozen times, but Gojyo wasn’t drunk as far as Hakkai could tell. It was a stupid, meaningless act, but Hakkai found it a little insulting, and Gojyo’s firm grip on his shoulder and the stretch of warmth as their sides pressed together were making him uncomfortable.
“Excuse us a moment,” Hakkai told the woman politely, extricating himself from Gojyo’s arm and pulling him aside.
Gojyo looked at him in puzzlement. “What’s the problem?”
“You want to cool it a little?”
“Why? I’m just having a little fun.”
“I know, but Sanzo’s getting agitated. You know how he is.”
They both glanced over at the table, where the monk sat glowering back at them. Hakkai noticed out of the corner of his eye that Gojyo’s new friend was following their conversation closely.
“Fuck him,” said Gojyo with a dismissive shrug. “That Holy Shit has no business meddling in my sex life.”
“I know,” Hakkai said patiently, “but you’ve already been slapped twice. He’s worried you’ll get us thrown out.” His eyes darted indicatively at the surly bouncer.
Gojyo chuckled. “No worries. Just a few bad choices out of the gates.”
“That cologne evidently doesn’t work as well as you anticipated.” Here, Hakkai had to forcibly stop himself from leaning in to inhale.
Gojyo threw his head back and laughed. “Oh ye of little faith. Besides, things are going really well with this one. A few more drinks and we’ll be out of your hair.” He glanced over his shoulder to offer the waiting woman a rakish grin.
“Just don’t come on too strong. You know you’re most appealing when you don’t even try.”
Lifting his eyebrows, Gojyo took a step closer. “I am, am I?”
The scent of the cologne was overpowering at this proximity, and Hakkai took an instinctive step backwards. “According to historical precedent, yes.”
Gojyo frowned as if suddenly confused about something, and shook his head to clear it. Then he turned back to the woman and said, “So, my little nightingale, you up for a duet?”
The woman lifted an eyebrow, her eyes darting briefly to Hakkai. “Duets aren’t my thing,” she murmured, “but I may be game for a trio.”
Grin widening, Gojyo leaned against the bar, sliding closer to her. “Oh yeah? You got a friend?”
Her eyes locked with Hakkai’s. “Actually, it was your friend I had in mind.”
Gojyo faltered for a moment, his gaze sweeping the woman’s body before flitting to Hakkai then back to her. After a moment of consideration, he said, “Two guys and a girl? That could work.”
At the woman’s sultry, inviting smile, he turned to face Hakkai, hands gripping the sides of his face. “You’ve got to do this for me, man.” His eyes were wide and pleading. “I know it’s weird, but what’s a couple of crossed swords between pals?”
Hakkai stammered. This was not what he’d had in mind when he rose to obey Sanzo’s directive. “I… I don’t…”
“Not you, Red,” the woman interrupted, her eyes dancing. “I was hoping for this one and that hot blonde number over at the table.”
Gojyo froze, still gripping Hakkai’s face, and stared agape at Sanzo’s sour expression in the distance. “You’re joking.”
“Nope. You’re okay, I guess, but those two are a combo I could really get behind… and in front of… and under.”
“Ah, I’m flattered, but I’m afraid we’ll have to decline,” said Hakkai, speaking with difficulty under the compression of Gojyo’s hands.
She shrugged. “Suit yourself. If you change your mind, just come and find me.” And at that she wandered off.
Gojyo dropped his hands, his head sagging forward. Glancing up at the woman’s retreating form, he muttered, “What a slut.” His disappointment was short lived, however, as he immediately looked up and began scanning for his next target. His eyes alighted on Goku’s pick – the woman in the short skirt. The kid was about to come into fifty yen.
“Now take a hike,” Gojyo muttered to Hakkai, his eyes glued on the woman’s thighs. “You’re cramping my style.”
Hakkai sighed. “Just please take it easy. You don’t want to…”
But he was interrupted by the arrival of the bouncer, a giant of a man whose enormity was outdistanced only by his battle-scarred ugliness.
“We gonna have a problem here, pal?”
Gojyo didn’t take his eyes off of the woman. “Whaddya mean?”
“A few of our ladies have been complaining,” the bouncer grunted. “We don’t take kindly to tomcats around these parts.”
Gojyo uttered a dismissive snort and turned his back to pursue his new prey, but when the bouncer moved to follow, Hakkai waylaid him with a tactful hand on his arm. “He won’t cause any more trouble,” he assured him.
The bouncer narrowed his eyes. “Oh yeah? Looks to me like he’s heading for a heap of it. Our Esmerelda doesn’t go easy when it comes to unwelcome advances.”
Hakkai lifted his chin to fix the bouncer with a look that showed he meant business. “I’ll take care of it.”
Uncertain, the giant’s eyes narrowed. “How?”
His gaze steady, Hakkai said, “I have my ways.”
Few people quibbled with Hakkai when he decided to get serious, and the bouncer was no exception. With a snort of concession, he turned and wandered back to his station. Keeping an eye on Gojyo, Hakkai ordered a bottle of sake and went back to the table.
“What happened?” Sanzo demanded.
Hakkai poured a cup and sipped at it demurely, eyes fixed on Gojyo and the woman in the short skirt. “Gojyo struck out again, and you and I were propositioned for a threesome. I hope you do not think it too presumptuous of me, but I declined the invitation.”
“Ew!” Goku exclaimed, as Sanzo shifted uncomfortably, relegated to a rare moment of speechlessness. He grabbed the sake bottle and poured a glass for himself, throwing it back in one swallow. As the cup clanked down against the table, his eyes shifted from Hakkai to Gojyo and back again.
“What are you doing now?” he asked through a silent belch once he had helped himself to a second cup.
Deep in concentration, Hakkai merely said, “I’m taking care of it.”
Gojyo chatted innocently with the girl for a while, but when his hand reached out to stroke her shoulder, it stopped a few inches away, and he drew back with a hiss, as if he’d been shocked.
“What the fuck?” Sanzo had noticed this too, and he glanced at Hakkai, only then noticing the faint glow cradled in his hand. Hakkai had been practicing projecting his shield from a distance, so he could better protect the others in the field, and this was as good a test run as any.
Confused, Gojyo tried again, this time reaching for her waist, but again he was repelled by a crackle of energy and force. Hakkai risked a brief glance over at the bouncer, who smirked complacently and offered him a faint nod of approval.
Even though Gojyo was unaware of this new manifestation of Hakkai’s abilities, he’d seen that shield enough times that it didn’t take him long to catch on. Abandoning the woman, he stomped toward the table, the energy fizzling in Hakkai’s hand the moment the woman was out of reach. Gojyo grabbed him by the shirt front and lifted him out of his chair. “What the fuck, Hakkai? You don’t want me to get laid?”
“I was merely protecting our interests,” he replied calmly.
The bouncer had leapt off his stool and rushed over to their table, apparently now a steadfast ally. “What do you think you’re doing, asshole?” he demanded, rolling up his sleeves in preparation to throw Gojyo out on his ass.
“It’s fine,” said Hakkai, waving him away as his gaze trained on Gojyo’s. The bouncer reluctantly withdrew, and Gojyo pulled Hakkai closer. Hakkai could feel the heaving of his chest, and again inhaled that potent aroma. Despite the angry tension between them, Hakkai had to resist the urge to reach out, to wrap his arms around Gojyo and pull them tighter still, but his willpower was strong, and his arms remained limp, hanging obediently at his sides.
As they stared at each other, Gojyo’s anger evanesced into confusion. They were nose to nose, and Hakkai felt Gojyo’s heaving breaths pulsing against his lips. Gojyo tilted his head, bowing forward as he pulled Hakkai even closer, his clenched fists the only spacer between their chests. Hakkai had just enough fortitude not to respond, not to enfold him and explore the firm muscles of his back, but he wasn’t strong enough to push him away, and his lips parted slightly of their own volition.
Gojyo tilted his head in the other direction, his lips drawing closer, but when they were a hair’s breadth from Hakkai’s, he froze, his eyes darting from side to side in confusion. Then he released his grip on Hakkai’s tunic, pushing him away, and growled, “I’m going to bed.”
Hakkai staggered backwards into his chair, a bit breathless from the encounter, and watched Gojyo stomp off to the stairwell.
“We need more booze,” declared Sanzo, rising abruptly and heading for the bar.
Goku stared at the empty stairwell, then blinked uncertainly at Hakkai. “Um… that was weird.”
* * *
The three of them stayed out unusually late, and it was after midnight by the time Hakkai trudged back to his solitary room. The bouncer, apparently also the proprietor, had generously offered Hakkai a job, and Gojyo’s blonde had stopped by their table to renew her proposition, but both offers were respectfully declined. Hakkai had just settled in beneath the sheets when he heard the faint creak of the door, his closed eyelids sensing the spill of light from the hallway.
If he weren’t already so familiar with Gojyo’s demonic aura, the scent would have given it away. Images of orchids drifted into his senses, and he felt as if he’d just stepped into an exotic greenhouse, but he kept his eyes closed, feigning sleep. He listened as Gojyo approached and stood over him uncertainly. He could hear his shallow breaths as he knelt down, feel his fingers as they reached out to gently brush the hair away from his forehead and stroke the side of his cheek. His heartbeat accelerated as Gojyo’s hair fell lightly across his face, and he felt the radiant heat of his skin, hovering just above him. Hakkai’s tongue longed to lick his lips, to wet them in preparation, but he couldn’t betray his wakeful state. He wanted to see what would happen.
From the warmth and moist breath, he knew Gojyo’s lips were mere millimeters from his own, and he braced himself, longing for that moment, wanting desperately to feel the press of Gojyo’s kiss amid the heady aromas of an exotic bouquet. But he felt only the soft expulsion of breath at the whispered word, “Hakkai.”
The warmth withdrew, and the only sound was the soft shuffle of receding footsteps. He opened his eyes and lifted his head, just in time to see the door slowly close, the stream of light engulfed in darkness. Head dropping back on the pillow, Hakkai winced, reminding himself of the complications, of the danger, of the inadvisability of placing himself in a position with even more to lose. He drifted off to sleep, miserably secure in the knowledge that he was a true and utter coward.
* * *
They set out early the next morning, despite the fact that Sanzo was obviously hungover, and endured a long but unremarkable day on the road. Gojyo was oddly quiet, but every time the wind shifted, Hakkai caught the scent of his cologne, sweet in the arid breeze. The smell nearly overwhelmed him with thoughts of regret and indecision.
With no villages in their path, they were obliged to camp out that night, so they parked near a tiny oasis, Goku and Hakkai setting up the tent while Sanzo and Gojyo smoked in silence. After a sparse dinner, they called it an early night, with everyone but Hakkai laying out their bedrolls as far as possible from Gojyo’s, apparently put off by the smell. Hakkai lay still, his breathing steady as he tried to will his body into a state of restful calm.
But sleep eluded him, and apparently he was not alone, because he felt Gojyo tossing and turning next to him, and heard Sanzo’s low grumbling and Goku’s occasional grunt of insomniac frustration. Finally, Sanzo swore and snatched up his bedroll, stomping out into the cold desert night as he muttered something about “That fucking stink.” Goku soon followed, groaning in exhausted complaint as the tent flap fell back, eclipsing the full moon and leaving Gojyo and Hakkai alone.
Several minutes passed in silence, but he was even less inclined to sleep, too aware of Gojyo’s lanky form at his back. The agitated tossing had ceased, and he sensed Gojyo’s eyes upon him as he rested on his side. He heard the rustle of blankets as Gojyo shifted closer, and felt a tentative arm extend, hesitate, then drape over his side. Hakkai relaxed his body, allowing himself to be gently drawn backwards, Gojyo’s body resting lightly against his. He felt Gojyo’s chest swell against his back as he heaved a contented sigh, the way he did at the first puff of a cigarette, as if this simple contact was something he needed rather than desired.
Gojyo’s head settled against his pillow, and his steady breathing tickled the back of Hakkai’s neck. The closeness subsumed him in a wave of contentment, but that was not enough, and Hakkai decided, finally, to set his cowardice aside. He quietly unfolded his arms, reaching down to brush his fingers lightly down the length of Gojyo’s arm, leaving a river of goosebumps in their wake. Gojyo’s body remained still, but his hand began to move, slowly caressing Hakkai’s stomach and chest over his shirt as Hakkai continued to trail his fingers gently up and down his arm, hand reversing to slide down with the backs of his fingers, then reversing again to enclose Gojyo’s wrist and travel back up to his elbow.
They continued these slow caresses, bodies still unmoving as if nothing was happening, acknowledgement and denial subtly intertwined. Gojyo’s hand slithered down Hakkai’s torso, then up under his shirt, exploring his hot skin, while Hakkai ventured beyond his elbow, fingernails lightly scraping up to his shoulder. Palm flattening on his bare chest, Gojyo pressed their bodies more firmly together, the heat between them indescribable. Hakkai ceased his ministrations and placed his hand over Gojyo’s, pressing his palm against his rapidly beating heart, their hands separated by a thin layer of fabric. Gojyo’s leg slipped over Hakkai’s and pushed gently, rolling him onto his back.
For an uncertain moment, they gazed at each other, Gojyo’s still hand pressed against Hakkai’s heart, his leg draped over his knee. “You’re awake,” he murmured.
Hakkai didn’t respond, merely offered a sober smile. Gojyo slid his hand out from under his shirt and brought it up to cup his cheek. Hakkai didn’t move as Gojyo bowed his head forward, lips brushing briefly against his. Slowly, Gojyo drew back with expectant uncertainty.
Brows furrowed, Hakkai merely gazed at him, then reached up to cup the back of his head, drawing him in for a longer interlude. The kiss was more substantial this time, not forceful or passionate, but laden with suppressed affection. They were both determined yet afraid, each hesitant about the other’s intent, uncertain in their certainty.
As the kiss deepened, Gojyo rolled forward, covering Hakkai’s body with his own, pressing into him with exquisite weight. They grew more impassioned, breathing hard, but utterly silent in mutual acknowledgement that Sanzo and Goku were just outside the tent. As a tentative tongue crept between his lips, Hakkai inhaled sharply, and he felt Gojyo stiffen against his thigh, felt himself respond in kind, the pair of them experiencing a synchronous, rising urgency amid the sweet smell of orchids.
Suddenly, Gojyo drew back, his expression pained. He dropped his head to rest it on Hakkai’s chest. “I can’t… I can’t do this.”
Breathing hard, it was a struggle for Hakkai to hide his disappointment. “All right,” he said, his voice devoid of inflection. “I understand.”
“It’s not you,” Gojyo hastened to assure him. “Believe me. It’s this fucking cologne.”
“What do you mean?”
Gojyo winced and glanced to the side. “Look, I was happy to use this stuff to seduce chicks, but you? Not you.” Hakkai’s stomach clenched in mortified rejection as Gojyo looked down, then gradually lifted his gaze. “With you, I want it to be real.”
Hakkai shook his head in confusion. “What are you talking about?”
Sighing, Gojyo rolled away. “You’re only attracted to me because of this shit. Because I want to fuck you so badly, and that’s how it works. I’m sorry, man, I’ve tried to keep it in check, and I honestly didn’t think this stuff would affect you. I just wanted to get my rocks off so I could… so I could stop thinking about you. But I just couldn’t control myself, and now I’ve fucked everything up. Again.”
Hakkai laughed then, insensitive as it was to Gojyo’s heartfelt admission. “Gojyo, that stuff doesn’t work.”
“Whaddya mean it doesn’t work?”
“I mean it doesn’t work. Do you honestly believe that you would have struck out last night if that cologne had any kind of magical powers?”
Gojyo frowned in perplexity. “So, then, why were you just making out with me?”
Hakkai offered him a gentle smile. “Because I wanted to. Because I’ve always wanted to, from the very first day I woke up in your shitty apartment.”
Uncertain but hopeful, Gojyo allowed his hand to drift back to rest against Hakkai’s side. “Seriously?”
Hakkai’s responding kiss was passionate and lingering. When he drew back he said, “I promise. That cologne has a nice smell, but nothing more.”
Gojyo chuckled, and rolled to rifle through his pack, drawing out a small glass bottle. “Man,” he muttered. “What a ripoff.”
With a smile of amusement, Hakkai took the bottle and glanced at it, suddenly frowning. “Ah, Gojyo? Did you actually read the label on this?”
“Naw. The witch told me what it did.”
Hakkai cleared his throat. “Well it appears you misunderstood.”
Keeping his voice low, Hakkai read the label aloud. “’This product is designed to enhance the desires and sexual capabilities of the wearer, offering a fresh start at a satisfying romantic life.’ Gojyo, this cologne is designed for middle-aged men with erectile dysfunction.”
“Reading the fine print is the duty of every consumer.”
Gojyo shook his head in disbelief. “Goddamnit. Is this why I was hitting on ugly chicks at the bar? And why I finally lost the resolve to keep my hands off you?”
“Fuckin’ false advertising!” Gojyo snatched up the bottle and flung it out of the tent. They heard a shattering crash followed by a profusion of swearing, then silence.
They froze for several moments until a sleepy voice said, “Um… Sanzo? What are you… Oh!”
Hakkai’s eyes widened in alarm, and he started up, but Gojyo just smiled and pulled him back down. “Leave ‘em be. I think we have some time.” He rolled back onto Hakkai, hand sliding up his side, and beset him with a passionate kiss.