X-posted to saiyuki and my own journal; will be archived at Echoes from the West.
Years on the road, and nothing had changed. That was good, though, right?
When things changed...change had never done Gojyo much good.
So they were back, and Gojyo had the house and the women, and Hakkai at home and....
Shit, he couldn't ask for anything more than that. It was nice. A little dull, but all right. And Hakkai seemed content enough-- at least, as content as he would ever be-- and so that was all right. If Gojyo sometimes looked over from the futon and wished for the bed...that wasn't important.
It was enough. They'd saved the world, and that was enough.
When he first saw the girl, he didn't even realize what had caught his attention. She was...she was something, he could tell already, leaning over the table, talking to Mine.
He walked over to get a better look.
"Well," she said, "I was hoping to find--"
"Can I help you?" he asked, leaning over, getting into her space.
And then he got a good look at her face and he knew. Those green, green eyes, and the face, and, well, shit.
Her eyes narrowed and her breath hitched in a little. "You-- you're--?" Her face had something like fear in it now; so strange to see it in eyes so like Hakkai's.
"Kanan?" Hakkai's voice, behind him. Shit. Shit. No way to back out now. He looked over and Hakkai was ghost white, just staring, staring at her, half in joy and half in terror. Gojyo took the market basket from his hands before he could drop it and started them walking, taking Kanan by the arm, though she resisted him.
He could feel his heart pounding in his chest.
Hakkai finally managed to stammer, "How...how can you be alive?"
"Someone found me," she said as they walked. "Oh, Gonou--"
"No," he said. "Not any more."
"Who is--" She nodded at Gojyo.
"My dear friend Gojyo," he said, quickly, and Gojyo could hear the familiar don't challenge me tone sneaking into his voice. "He knows-- well, I wouldn't say he knows all our secrets, but...you are free to speak before him."
She glanced at Gojyo, and he could read the suspicion in her eyes.
"Kanan," Hakkai said. "So...so much has changed. Let's get back to the house, and we...oh, Kanan." Gojyo noticed as his fingers reached up, brushed his limiteres.
Oh, shit. This...this wasn't gonna end well, no matter what happened.
They walked the rest of the way in silence so tense Gojyo almost felt he could reach out and just tweak at it. He let go of Kanan and saw her relax a little, but Hakkai was still painfully tense, carrying it in his back and shoulders. Gojyo wanted to reach out and soothe him.
Gojyo tried, for a fleeting, panicky moment, to imagine life without Hakkai, and it was like looking into an abyss, so he stopped.
"I better leave you two alone," he said. "Take your time."
"Yes," Hakkai said. He wasn't as white as he had been. "I think that would be wisest."
Gojyo set the market basket down on the counter, and he did what any self-respecting man would do in his situation; he got drunk.
Gojyo was very drunk, leaning heavily on the two men from the village who'd been recruited to bring him back.
"He didn't give you too much trouble, did he?" Hakkai asked.
"He was fine. Didn't much want to come back here, though. Everything okay?"
"We'll be fine," Hakkai said, feeling his smile go stiff around the edges as he let them back out. "Thank you for bringing him home."
"Still here," Gojyo said faintly against his shoulder. "You're still here."
"Of course I am," he said, and squeezed Gojyo, balancing his weight to prop him up.
"Where...wher'she?" Gojyo asked. He was drooling against Hakkai's shoulder. It was unpleasant.
"We agreed it would be wisest if she moved on," Hakkai said. "She's staying at Shen's for the night." He'd rehearsed the words so many times in his mind they were easy now. "I'm...I'm afraid I gave her quite a bit of our money."
"'sokay," Gojyo said. "Just money." His arms came up around Hakkai's neck, and Hakkai had to readjust his weight. "Shit, I'm drunk."
"I noticed that, yes."
"It...wasn't unreasonable. I'm afraid it was a shock to all three of us. I'm...afraid I didn't handle it particularly well."
"Don' owe me nothin', Hakkai, you--"
"Don't," Hakkai said. "Come on, let's get you to bed."
Hakkai considered. "I suppose I'm more shaken than anything. It would be absurd to expect...well." He led Gojyo carefully to the futon.
"Thought you'd be gone," Gojyo said. "Couldn't stand it. Didn't want--"
"I couldn't leave you," Hakkai said. "I can't even imagine it any more."
Gojyo, always affectionate when drunk, was taking it to new extremes tonight, holding onto Hakkai as if his very life depended on the contact. "Thank you," he said as he sunk onto the futon. He pulled Hakkai down with him, pressed him close.
"Don't thank me," Hakkai said softly. "I'm being entirely selfish."
"'Sokay too," Gojyo said.
Hakkai waited until Gojyo was snoring in his ear to disengage himself. He got up, turned out most of the lights, and put the kettle on to boil.
He'd planned to make something spicy for breakfast, but now he wasn't sure of the state of Gojyo's stomach.
Perhaps a simple soup....
He put his face in his hands and wept.
Gojyo woke up with a hell of a headache in the morning. Hakkai was already in the kitchen, stirring at something on the stove.
"Special remedy?" Gojyo said.
"Something like that," Hakkai said. Gojyo leaned over his shoulder and pretended that he hadn't seen how puffy Hakkai's eyes were, how dark the circles were underneath them. "I made soup. I thought it would be easier on your stomach...."
Gojyo pulled his pack out of his jeans; empty. "Look. I...I'm sorry about last night. I shouldna cut out on you like that."
"It's...it's understandable," Hakkai said. "And I appreciated the privacy." He stirred the soup. "It should be ready now."
Gojyo went to the cupboard for a fresh carton, pulled a pack out and opened it.
"I knew that Cho Gonou was dead," Hakkai said. "I don't think I'd allowed myself to realize how much Cho Hakkai had changed as well."
Gojyo reached out with his free hand and just touched Hakkai's back, felt him relax into the touch; what he'd wanted to do so badly yesterday. He put the pack down and rubbed Hakkai's shoulders, and Hakkai breathed in deep.
Gojyo followed him, hands still on Hakkai's shoulders, as Hakkai got out the bowls and ladled them full of soup.
He almost dropped the second bowl when he got to the table, and Gojyo was left holding his wrist, supporting the bowl.
"I'm sorry," Hakkai said, as they set the bowl down. "I'm...I'm not handling this particularly well, am I?"
"Guess neither of us have," Gojyo said.
Hakkai turned into Gojyo's arms, and he could feel Hakkai shaking. "I asked her...I asked her what had become of the child," he said, faintly. "I assumed that it had died when she was injured...." Hakkai's cheek touched his. "I was mistaken."
It felt like he held Hakkai for a very long time.
"I gave her a good deal of our money," Hakkai said. Like he wanted Gojyo to be angry.
As if Gojyo could be. "Just money."
"I know...if I had been in a similar situation, back then, my response would undoubtedly have been the same. Perhaps...perhaps that's why I couldn't forgive her."
"Aw, shit," Gojyo said. "Hakkai...."
"I'll be all right," he said. "I apologize...."
"Don't." He kissed Hakkai's hairline.
"I suppose...I've thought for so long I could never...the only time I gave my heart, and...."
That hurt, a little. But Hakkai was still here, Hakkai was warm and broken in his arms, and Kanan was out on the damn road with Kanezon Botatsu only knew how much of their money and she wouldn't be coming back. He realized he was holding Hakkai too tightly, but he couldn't bring himself to ease up.
Hakkai's mouth on his, Hakkai's hands on his body, tight, possessing, claiming, clothes torn and pulled and thrown aside, and Hakkai's hands were rough and he'd never been brutal like this and he was almost sobbing against Gojyo's back, and it was too fast and it burned and Gojyo thought to himself he's mine, he's mine, he's never going to be hers again and relaxed as best he could into Hakkai's clutching fingers. Better to be needed like this than never needed again.
"Gojyo," Hakkai said, soft in his ear. "Gojyo, I--"
"Don't," Gojyo said.
Later, much later, when he'd finally gotten up and lit his cigarette and pulled his pants back on and sat down at the table for some of the soup, Hakkai said, "I couldn't leave." He hadn't moved from where they'd collapsed on the floor; his pants were still down somewhere around his thighs.
Gojyo stared at his soup spoon for a moment.
"This is home," Hakkai said finally.
"By the time I'd heard about it she'd already seen you," Sanzo said. "One of the monks caught up with her, gave her a meal at the temple. She said she had money, but he was worried."
"A woman alone...." Hakkai said.
"I think he caught her resemblance to you," Sanzo said. "He's been here even longer than me. I told her I knew you and it all came out."
"Ah," Hakkai said.
Sanzo took a cigarette out of his pack. "Was that kindness, not telling her you were youkai?" His eyes caught Hakkai's as the lighter flared. "Or cruelty?"
"I'm not entirely sure," Hakkai said. His face felt stiff and artificial, even more than usual.
"Were you like that, when you were human? Because it was fuckin' annoying."
"I suppose I was," he said. "Though I wasn't as...intense. I suppose our experiences pushed us in different directions." He looked over at Gojyo, currently 'augumenting' the snowman he and Goku were making in the courtyard; Goku was alternating between feigning disgust and outright egging him on. "We've certainly seen plenty of fear in the humans we encountered, and her circumstances...were unusual. And unpleasant."
Sanzo was looking at Goku. Hakkai'd caught that look in Sanzo's eyes more and more often as their trip progressed. "Monkey was out fishing," he said. "Spared us all some trouble."
"That...that didn't bother me so much, really," Hakkai said. "But Gojyo...."
Goku shoved a handful of snow into Gojyo's hair, and Gojyo slammed his face into the snowman's...endowments.
"She would never see beyond...she was as stubborn as I, in her own way."
Sanzo's eyes flickered back at him for a moment.
"She didn't take well to Jeep, either," Hakkai said, reaching out and scratching the back of the dragon's head. "I'm afraid it was a disaster all around."
"But it was Gojyo, wasn't it?" Sanzo inhaled, slowly, held the smoke in, blew it out. After all these years around smokers, there was something comforting in watching the ritual.
"I still love her," Hakkai said. "My first love, and my sister...we were so close. And everything had changed, so much."
"What did you say to the kappa?"
Hakkai looked down at Jeep. "Too much," he said. "Not enough."
Hakkai rubbed at his temple. "We're all fools, aren't we?"
Sanzo snorted. "Speak for yourself."
Gojyo's hands were chapped from the snow that night; Hakkai's skin felt impossibly smooth.
"You shouldn't have been out there so long," Hakkai said, but it was more out of habit than a reprimand.
"Worth it to see the look on those monks' faces." Gojyo grinned. "I thought Shin was gonna piss himself..."
Hakkai smiled and pulled him into bed.
Gojyo had thought Hakkai'd want to top again, but instead he stretched out beneath Gojyo, slicked Gojyo's cock himself, guided him in.
All the beer he'd had at Chang An dulled his system, so they took it easy, Gojyo's hand pumping Hakkai with a lazy, slow rhythm. Hakkai said his name, pushed his hair back, murmured beautiful, beautiful over and over. Hakkai kept his eyes open the whole time, even when he came, the green color shining like emeralds as Hakkai's semen coated Gojyo's hand.
Gojyo was putting the fresh sheets on when Hakkai got back from the bathroom. Hakkai kissed his temple and helped him finish.
He was ready to go back to the futon, but Hakkai caught his arm and said, "Stay."
So they did, though they didn't fit well on the bed, Gojyo's thigh looped awkwardly over Hakkai's legs, one of Hakkai's hands caught in his hair.
"I thought," Hakkai said gently, "that we might sell the futon and buy a larger bed."
"We could do that," Gojyo said. He pulled Hakkai a little closer; he didn't want him to fall.
"I would like that." Hakkai's voice was very soft. Gojyo stroked his back, and he fell asleep almost immediately.