In March, the landlord told them that he was building another room above theirs, and that they had to evacuate for two or three months.
Hakkai put everything they had in three boxes, meager since being on the road had whittled down their worldly possessions, and took a chance to clean the apartment from top to bottom. He found all of Gojyo's porn mags and threw them out.
To add insult to injury, Gojyo ended up carrying the boxes of their crap all the way to the monastery.
The two months seemed like an eternity. Plus, Gojyo missed Miss November.
Living with Sanzo, again, had been a bitch. Sanzo still had that Holier-Than-Thou attitude, and spent all his time folding planes for the amusement of the monkey-brat. Plus, Sanzo smoked all his cigarettes and spent a great time sulking over paperwork, and bitching, with the monkey tagging at his heels. It was just like being on the road, except they didn't smell as bad and hungry youkais weren't trying to, you know, rip out anyone’s spleen or anything.
The only things that really bothered him, besides Sanzo, who was obviously a woman with PMS, were the looks he got when he brought back meat buns for him and the monkey. Apparently, that was frowned on. Right, meat’s not allowed in the land of bean curds and rabbit food.
He hadn't been able to bring any chicks back to the monastery either. Celibacy, and all that. Monks sucked. The one time he tried, he'd had the misfortune of taking home a screamer. Pity, really. He was getting into it until she had opened her big fat mouth. That had led to an extremely embarrassing incident where he nearly got drowned in the pond under the weight of a naked woman.
The monks probably had a party when they left, well, the ones who weren’t still scrubbing out their eyes and muttering “ohmitofu” under their breath whenever they caught wind of him. He had resisted yelling “BOO” at them whenever Hakkai gave him the look, but it was nice to know that a man of sixty, who chose to wear nothing but drapes, turned a bright fuchsia whenever you walked past.
The Head of Dormitories passed them, as Gojyo stumbled out the threshold of the monastery with two boxes in his arm and one balanced precariously on his head, and gave him The Eye.
“Is there something wrong, Gojyo? You have caught a cold from the pond, yes? The muscle over your eye is twitching a little.”
When they moved back, they found that a very nice little couple had moved in.
They seemed to be very quiet. Inconspicuous.
A little too inconspicuous, the youkai in him muttered, I bet they're going to try and kill us in our sleep.
Gojyo, however, knew that there was some truth to that whole "taboo monster" thing, because inherent paranoia was just another part of the half-breed gig. An annoying part at that. So he ignored the voice.
The couple seemed very normal, if a bit wide-eyed. The man was thin and angular and the woman was... well, round. Pretty, too. They seemed normal, happy. They had that “we’re freshly hitched, therefore plotting an untimely death for the other” look. They smiled at the both of them in a waxen way, the same as all the town people. But he didn't like the way the man had looked at his hair and eyes that way, like he knew, or the way the woman had leaned in and whispered something into her husband’s ear.
The uneasy feeling settled deeper into his gut when the woman turned to him, eyes fish-like, and asked “So, are you two... partners?”
It took all of five seconds for him to process the question and tell himself that it wasn’t that people were looking for a beating but that some people were just plain stupid.
It wasn’t unnatural for two men to live together; rent was cheaper, that way. It was just that, people seemed to assume that there was something going on between them because Hakkai was so...
Fragile. Bet he would taste go- Gojyo quelled that thought quickly.
“We’re friends”, he muttered, as Hakkai said “Traveling companions.”
Their answers were greeted with the continued waxen smile, which settled slowly to a more bovine look, and a long awkward silence. The man took one sweeping look at Hakkai, like looking over a horse, and Gojyo could feel the muscles in his hand tighten and his proverbial hackles rising.
He didn’t shake the man’s hand, when he offered it, and he looked over the woman and licked his lips. She backed up, hid halfway between her husband and their door.
Hakkai bid farewell to the neighbors in his usual civil way. He seemed a little paler, but it wasn’t any particular shade to worry about.
Probably just from the draft of the open window. Even if it wasn’t really cold, being May and all, it felt like it was.
Gojyo lit up against the door to their room and blew smoke over his head. Definitely got to kill these people, the youkai in him grumbled, slightly calmed by nicotine, mash up their bones to make bread, bloody idiots.
He ignored the voice and went cruising for pretty ladies instead.
Hey, the Voice stirred as he was shuffling a deck, one-handed, do you ever think about what it would be like to fuck him?
The thought passed by so quickly that it took a minute for the cards to tumble right out of his fingers and onto the ample breasts of the girl in his lap. She shrieked and bounced, giggled a bit, and then got up.
Well, he’d blown it all right. Once you lost your game, it was better to leave quickly.
He felt the human side of him jerk up, pocket his winnings, and blurt out some half-ass retreat. Something about how he wanted to sally forth into the night. Yeah.
The demon half stirred restlessly, cast one forlorn eye over the sea of breasts it was leaving, and made mewling sounds in the back of his mind. Stupid beast, it was his own fault. He could be getting laid right now if it wasn’t for that particular thought.
Well, sulked The Voice, do you?
Of course he didn’t. No one fucked Hakkai. Which brought him memories of a time, on the road, when he had mentioned that no one fucked with Hakkai, because Hakkai had a disturbing knowledge of anatomy and prolonging a painful death through the removal of certain internal organs. Anatomy? And Gojyo squashed that thought with a vicious snarl.
No, he certainly did not think about fucking Hakkai. Hakkai was a friend. ‘Sides, no one got to have Hakkai because Hakkai was the untouchable. Hakkai, who smiled like cracking glass, was like The Ultimate Heirloom Vase. The kind that would make Mother come up behind him and kill him for even thinking about. And he knew it, knew it well.
No one got to touch Hakkai. Certainly not him.
Sha Gojyo was many things: lady’s man, card shark, utterly irresistible... but one thing he was not, was dumb. He left that to the monkey.
You didn’t go around thinking that Cho Hakkai was touchable. It wasn’t allowed. People who went around thinking that Hakkai could be touched were sourly mistaken. Hakkai’s heart was already buried with a pretty girl that Sha Gojyo had never met and you don’t. Touch. Another’s. Property.
But she’s dead.
But she still stayed. He could feel her presence in Hakkai’s eyes, in the early mornings while he sat over tea. She stayed with him.
But that doesn’t mean that he can’t belong to another youkai.
Hakkai didn’t belong to anyone. And definitely not a youkai.
Then we belong to him.
Gojyo breathed in the night, it was warm, humid. It was the humid nights, when the water in the air was heavy, that the parts of him that weren’t human liked to be out the best. Maybe that’s why it was being so persistent. So annoying.
He ignored it, took a left, and dodged a lamppost.
He smells nice, though. Real nice, you know.
He did know.
He’d tucked his nose into the cradle of Cho Gonou’s neck once, while the man had been asleep, and had smelled blood and tears and something that radiated sweet. Like the darkest apples, the ones that exuded fragrance right before you bit into it, sweet and inviting. And Cho Gonou may be dead, but Hakkai, from when he leaned forward in his seat to ask if they were there yet, smelled much the same, if not more of cleaning product.
He could practically feel his eyes dilating at the memory.
Sha Gojyo screamed into the night, howled. Then thought better of it, and swung around to the nearest bar.
He got back home much later that night, well on his way to heading down the long road to sobriety.
He found Hakkai sitting on the edge of the bed, which was weird because Hakkai was usually asleep, or reading, or grading papers and muttering about digging small trenches in the side of the road.
He could be sick, the youkai said, Is he sick? Maybe we’ll get sick too.
Hakkai seemed to be fine though, besides being a little pink around the edges, and Gojyo was just about to tell him that he didn't have to wait up when he heard the first thump. And then another.
"Oooooh, yeeeeessss... Oah, ooooah…"
"...," The cogs and wheels turned briefly before his mouth formed a little 'O'.
"Ooooooh, right there. Yeeeeeeeessss..."
Hakkai turned a little pinker around the edges and started twiddling his thumbs absently.
Gojyo looked at the ceiling, which seemed to be shaking, and now he could clearly here the grind of mattress springs. Hakkai turned another shade darker.
“Oh, god, yeeeeesss…”
His ears twitched absently, but he could hear it better now. That was definitely the thumping of something solid. The ceiling shook possibly harder and if he craned with all his might, his hearing allowed him to pick up the faint sighing and moaning from above.
Hakkai made a faint coughing noise. He was pink. And getting pinker with each creak of mattress.
Hakkai, his inebriated mind reasoned, wasn't someone who should be subjected to this.
Hakkai, was one of those people (YOUKAI, The Voice said firmly) who didn't make a fuss about these sort of things. Who didn’t go up to people and ask them to be a little quieter, please, because he was trying to finish his book. At least, not in the way that normal people (I guess that leaves us out, eh?) could pick up on. Hakkai was the kind of person who used words like “cornucopia” and “sanitary”, for Heavenly Emperor’s sake, Hakkai was the kind of person (youkai) who threw porn mags out of decency’s sake (and out of pure evil, The Voice lamented).
Hakkai wasn’t like Gojyo. Hakkai had pride and a sense of decency and Hakkai was flushed, sitting there, quiet and embarrassed.
Gojyo hated seeing Hakkai like that because Hakkai was a decent person (You~kai, sang The Voice) and, well, it was embarrassing for Hakkai and Hakkai wasn’t one who should be embarrassed. Ever.
Because, Hakkai didn’t do embarrassed. He did solitary. And smart-ass-like. And serene, yeah, definitely serene. But he didn’t do embarrassed. That was for lesser beings.
The beers in him agreed with this principal, and sloshed around through his blood happily.
Hakkai was too delicate to have to endure other people getting it on (They’re rutting, his Voice inputted with a sniff, and there’s no need for them to breed at all). Hakkai was above this, after all, Hakkai was The Ultimate Heirloom Vase. (You keep telling yourself that, maybe it’ll become true.)
No one got to touch Hakkai. No one got to go around affecting him. No one, certainly, spent a night having wild sex in his general vicinity without his say so. He was going to do something about it. He, Sha Gojyo, was going to do something about this so that Hakkai wouldn’t have to be so (tasty) embarrassed.
Besides, Gojyo hadn’t gotten any. He didn’t see why anyone else had to.
It took Gojyo three long strides to reach the broom closet and one to swing the door open and grab the longest broom he could find. He knocked it against the ceiling hard enough to create a loud whoomph.
"Hey! HEY! Keep it down up there! DECENT PEOPLE," youkai, his beer-addled brain reminded him, "ARE TRYING TO GET SOME REST."
He was answered with louder thumping and a long gasp. Gojyo looked back at Hakkai, who was now really red in the face. He knocked against the ceiling harder, hard enough to drive the broom handle through it. Cracked plaster and wood fell down onto his face as he looked up.
"WOULD YOU JUST FINISH UP ALREADY?"
There was a long awkward silence. And then the broom fell down and clattered against the floor.
At least the noise had stopped.
He turned around and faced Hakkai, who had one hand clamped over his mouth and another holding his sides.
“Gojyo,” Hakkai hiccupped between gasping breaths, “you... you, didn’t have to do that.”
“I certainly did to,” he paused at the sight of Hakkai’s neck, “have to.”
Gojyo’s body swaggered forward of its own accord -- he was straying off the road to sobriety, just a little, now -- and bowed low enough so that, through a curtain of slightly oily hair, he could look into Hakkai’s eyes. They flashed emerald, then jade, then a green so deep that it reminded him of an evergreen forest. One dull, one bright, a reminder of the bad times, the good times, the in-between times.
“I had to protect,” and odd, how his voice had suddenly gone husky and low like that, “The Marshal’s virgin ears.”
Hakkai blinked. Slow. Because they were close now, and Hakkai’s eyes were half-lidded and Gojyo was --
“Gojyo,” Hakkai breathed slower, slower still, “I’m not a virgin.”
-- really, really, horny.
And suddenly he was smiling. And Hakkai was smiling. And he could feel the ache between his shoulder blades releasing, and laughter poured out from his lungs from somewhere deep, like a dam being released. Laughter spilling easy, because laughter was meant to be shared among friends, or traveling companions, or partners. Laughter was meant to be shared between whatever the hell they were.
And he was leaning in, slow, and breathing in Hakkai’s scent of lemon, water, salt (apples). Just leaning in. And just... taking. Because this was right, and this was here, and this was Hakkai’s mouth, all open, warm, and inviting.
He’s not a vase, you know, The Voice stated, smugly, He’s a youkai, same as the rest of us. You can touch him. You can definitely touch him.
But he’d been ignoring that voice for as many years as he had lived, and he wasn’t going to start listening now, just as Hakkai’s hands traced down his back, leaving fire in its wake. Definitely not while Hakkai pulled him in, slow, too slow, to run his lips against his jaw line.
Aw yeah, his inner youkai mumbled, Finally. Gettin’ some tonight for sure.
“Why did you call me The Marshal?”
“Dunno. Hey, I have a brilliant idea.”
“Wanna go again?”
“WILL YOU TWO BELOW KEEP IT DOWN FOR THE NIGHT?”
Disclaimer: Sometimes I like to think I'm funny, and that's when I start to run with, what was originally, a hundred-word drabble. Which is to say: I do not own Saiyuki and many people are thankful for that, including me.