Please ignore the plot holes. I'll fiddle with this fic and fix them later.~
.oOo~Kiss the Rain~oOo.
Hands clutched convulsively against the ground beneath him. Sweat beaded on his forehead and cheeks, running in small rivulets down a hardened face. Genjo Sanzo felt like he was dying. Of course, it was very possible that he could be, laying there on the cold ground, so stained with his very blood. Son Goku's voice was still ringing in his ears, crying his name, pleading with him to stay alive.
Groaning painfully, he turned his head and forced open violet eyes, focusing on the weeping boy. He focused on the wide, frightened gold eyes and the tears that flowed from them. "B--bakasaru... stop that... I'm not going to die..."
"Sanzo, don't--..." The boy had to pause to choke a sob. "Don't talk so much! You're hurt badly, and Gojyo and Hakkai... they're probably looking for us, and they'll help you...!" His brow furrowed in anger and worry. "Damn those youkai, attacking like they did! And for hurting you...!"
A shaking, long-fingered hand slipped over Goku's lips, covering his mouth and preventing further protest. "I was careless, Goku... I was an idiot. If I die... I deserve my fate..." He coughed slightly, blood rising and trickling over his thin lips, and he spoke words he never thought he would hear himself say... "...I'm sorry, Goku..."
Goku sobbed aloud this time, shaking his head free of Sanzo's hand and clutching the wounded body tighter. "Iya! You're not gonna die! You're not! You wouldn't leave us all behind like that! You wouldn't leave me alone!"
Unlikely as it may have seemed, the little monkey's passionate words struck a chord with the cold-hearted monk. A smile spread across the darkened face for the first time as the hand that had been preventing his younger companion from speaking moved to a round cheek. "I won't."
And his hand fell.
Sha Gojyo and Cho Hakkai were having even less luck than the monk and the boy. The two were running through dense foliage, a group of youkai hot on their trail. Gojyo was showing the weight of his wounds, his breath coming quickly as a trickle of blood obscured the sight in his left eye. Hakkai stole a glance back at him, his face growing worried. Gojyo wasn't going to be able to keep going for much longer...
Finally, he looked ahead again, relieved when he saw the inn. Not too much further, and they would be free of their pursuers.
Everything happened in an instant. Before Gojyo could even react, before Hakkai knew what he was doing. The healer had lept in front of his companion, an arrow burying itself deeply into his arm, narrowly missing directly striking Gojyo's heart, stopped only by Hakkai.
"Hakkai!" The shout broke the sudden silence as Gojyo's arms caught his companion, staring down with startled rubine pools at the young man, who had taken to trembling. "Hakkai, daijoubu desu ka?!"
"Cho Hakkai! This is only a warning!" Lifting their heads, the two looked around for the voice that now spoke up. "I want you, and only you, to face me! Fail to do as I wish, and all of these men shall die! My proof is the monk I slaughtered before! Face me if you dare... Cho Hakkai!"
Hakkai's eyes flew wide. "Iie...! Sanzo! Gojyo, we have to get back to the inn!"
The room they were staying in seemed abnormally quiet. Gojyo and Hakkai simply sat and stared at the floor as Goku looked out the window absently. He had carried Sanzo back to the inn on his own...
Hakuryuu sat upon the bed next to the boy, occasionally rubbing its soft white head against his arm, kyuuing in worry. Sanzo was still asleep in the other room, unmoving and quiet, violet eyes closed, his chest rising and falling in a broken rhythm that had not steadied, even since Hakkai had finished healing his wounds.
As for Hakkai, the ki manipulator was laying against Gojyo, whose arm was wound tightly about his companion's waist as if giving him support. The fall of red hair that shielded the half-breed's eyes was also falling over Hakkai's shoulder and face as the other worked on falling asleep for a well-deserved rest. Even the pair had been wounded. Gojyo's chest was cut deeply, and a bruise covered his right cheek, still another cut on his forehead. Hakkai had been poisoned by the arrow meant for Gojyo, and was still very weak from his brush with death. After he had been given a proper antivenom and given only a short while to rest, he had forced his way to Sanzo's room, healing him as best he could. He was trying to act strong now...
The ploy, however, was not working. His soft green eyes were focused on Goku, quiet and diligent. "Ne, Goku... daijoubu desu ka?"
"Hn?" Goku lifted his head to his friends. Both the red-haired kappa and the quiet healer were looking at him. "...Daijoubu... ne, Hakkai? Will Sanzo be okay? His wounds... and there was so much blood... his eyes looked so blank..."
A disgusted noise crossed Gojyo's lips as he reached for a cigarette with his free hand. "The worldly monk won't die so easily, zaru. I don't think he'd die, even if you killed him."
Hakkai shook his head a little, that old familiar smile finally crossing his face again. "He'll be all right, Goku. Don't worry yourself so much. He is Sanzo, after all... he would never die without seeing us all dead first." The last part was spoken with a twinge of sarcasm.
There was a slight look of hope in the boy's eyes as he smiled a little, nodding. "Un... he'll be fine..."
Hakkai blinked slightly at the sound of his name, turning from the window Goku had been staring out before, focusing his gaze on a slightly impatient Gojyo. A sigh escaped the half-youkai's lips as he slid down onto the bed next to his companion, looking at him sympathetically. "You're not even sure about what you said, are you? Sanzo... he got the living shit beat out of him. He lost so much blood, and all those internal injuries... There's..."
Shaking his head, Hakkai cut Gojyo off, his hands clutched tightly in his lap. "...a very small chance of survival." Shakily, he removed his monocle, rubbing his eyes with his other hand. "This is a very trying day."
Gojyo was shocked by the strange display of emotion Hakkai was showing. Even through that empty smile, tears were streaming down his face. "Hakkai..."
"Oh... look at that..." The voice was shaky as Hakkai drew his trembling hand away from his face, staring at the moisture gathered on the tips of his fingers. "It would appear that I'm crying..."
Another sigh. Long arms reached out, drawing Hakkai's tremor-wrecked form to his chest, nestling his chin against the soft, thick brown locks. "I've told you before... stop trying to act so tough all the time. Even you can't smile forever... Hakkai..."
For a moment, Hakkai sat shocked, with his face pressed into his long-time friend's neck, the same strong hands that had saved him from the cold rain he hated so much holding him in a tight embrace. "...Gojyo, this isn't necessary..."
The other man huffed, bringing his hand up to Hakkai's chin, lifting the tear-stained face to look at him. "Listen, Hakkai. This is more necessary than you think. I hate seeing you sad. Even if you're just smilin' to make people *think* you're happy... tears don't suit a good lookin' face like yours."
Emerald green eyes flew wide. "G--Gojyo...!"
/It's now or never, Gojyo... if you can't tell him properly, *show* him!/
Taking full advantage of his companion's shock, Gojyo leaned in and captured Hakkai's lips with his own, closing his eyes as if it was just as natural to be kissing this man as it was to kiss any of the women he had before. But... this was different somehow.
Sure, there was the fact that women had much softer lips... the fact that women normally smelled of shampoo and perfume, while men carried a more musky, natural scent that mingled with dust and sweat...
But something about Hakkai, in the way he resisted at first and then melted into the attentions, the way he clutched his slender hands against Gojyo's shirt...
Hakkai himself was surprised by Gojyo's sudden movement, his eyes going even wider as the rough, insistant lips had covered his own, startlingly strong arms holding him tightly. After a moment of resisting from the kiss, however, he began to respond, eyes fluttering closed, hands clutching at his comrade's shirt. This was strange... but he didn't dislike the feeling. Kanan had been different, softer and more delicate, but for the first time, he felt himself taking the feminine role, practically melting in Gojyo's embrace.
When finally they broke apart from one another, both of them were struggling to catch their breath, their faces painted with a blush. "Y'know, Hakkai... you got real sweet lips." The roguish smile lit up his face, ruby orbs flashing mischieviously. "I wouldn't mind tastin' 'em again when we're not so worn out."
Hakkai blushed furiously, shyly turning his face away. "Ero kappa... Goku was right after all."
"So what if I am?" Gojyo puffed a few strands of crimson hair from his face. "Aishite iru, Hakkai... Maybe almost losing you today has made me realize that. I could've died... but you chose to take the poison arrow instead of letting it hit me, knowing very well that you were putting your own life on the line."
A quick shake of his head let Gojyo know that Hakkai was still himself after their passionate exchange. "Iie, Gojyo... I simply couldn't let you get injured... honto aishite iru, Gojyo... demo... I'm still very nervous about this." He then stood, ignoring Gojyo's puzzled look. "This is why I have to find the one who has forced us into such a position and kill them, I'm afraid... you understand, I hope."
In an instant, Gojyo leapt to his feet, grabbing Hakkai's arms while forcefully ignoring his own injuries. "Chotto matte, Hakkai! You can't! You're still weak from the poison! You'll die!"
"Even so..." The same blank, empty smile reappeared as Hakkai shrugged off the restraining hands. "Sumimasen, Gojyo... But... This is the way it must be."
As the door closed behind the young youkai, Gojyo stared incredulously. "H--Hakkai..."
The darkened woods seemed to close in around Hakkai as he trod through slowly, looking around warily for the attacker from before. He didn't recognize the voice, and all of Chin Iisou's clan was gone...
Frowning deeply, he took another look around. Who could be so desperate to kill him as to strike at his friends? He still felt tired and weak from his previous encounter, but he couldn't go back on this. Sanzo was wounded, Goku was too desensitized to anything but Sanzo to fight back, and Gojyo...
Abruptly, a figure dropped from a tree in front of him. This figure, obviously a young male youkai, glared at his opponent harshly. "Cho Hakkai..."
"You have me one up... I'm afraid I don't know your name."
"Tsuneo," growled the youkai. "Remember that name well, Cho Hakkai, for it is the last you'll ever hear!"
Hakkai's numb smile grew a little wider as he closed his eyes lightly. "Yare, yare... that is a dilema, isn't it? I suppose I shall have to fight for my life, then. Shall we begin?"
Grinning now, Tsuneo nodded, crouching and bearing his fangs. "Let's."
So stifling was the silence in Gojyo's room that the half-demon almost couldn't stand to bear it. He kept his hand pressed against the window, watching the rain trail in tiny, intricate patterns down the glass. A shudder wrecked his form from the cold, but even that barely affected him now.
He wouldn't die... would he? Impossible. Hakkai would never be taken down so easily. But those hands, those eyes... so gentle, while still keeping the ability to be a stern father-figure and a determined friend. Could such hands and eyes actually defeat someone so blindly devoted to his cause?
They had to... they had beaten Chin Iisou when the zombie had threatened his companions... this enemy held no exception...
...So Gojyo was hoping...
Hakkai dashed forwards, the same, stoic smile on his face as he brought his hands back, charging, then releasing the pent up force of his light beam. The energy blazed towards Tsuneo, as he barely twisted to the side, gritting his teeth as the fiery blue burned enough to hurt, but not enough to destroy. Hakkai darted closer, his right hand flaring in quickly to strike and follow up his attack.
However, his opponent anticipated the maneuver as he danced further to the side. He grasped Hakkai's passing wrist, tugging him forwards, off balance, as the elbow of his other arm struck into Hakkai's neck.
A choked noise escaped Hakkai's lips as he stumbled foreward from the blow, barely ducking away from the swipe of Tsuneo's following kick. Green eyes narrowed through a fall of dark brown hair as he spun for a return attack, both hands glowing with ki.
"You're too slow, Cho Hakkai!" The youkai hissed, throwing himself foreward to meet Hakkai's attack head-on, slamming into the slim body.
The result was a shattering blow to both parties, the light exploding from Hakkai's hands and engulfing them both. The two combatants flew backwards, Tsuneo skidding some distance on his back before twisting himself to land neatly on both feet, Hakkai tumbling a way and then giving a hefty push with his arms to toss him to a standing position. Landing at relatively the same time, the two stared each other down for a moment before Hakkai frowned darkly. "This is more difficult than I had expected. I commend you, your fighting skills are admirable."
The response was a feral grin as Tsuneo drew his thumb haughtily across his nose. "Ch'. As much as I hate to say it, you aren't too bad yourself."
"Shall we continue, then...?"
The whole world around him was far too bright. Slender hands clutched into blankets that seemed too heavy as he attempted to open his eyes. Still far too bright.
However, at Sanzo's bedside, Goku noticed the movement. He was instantly over the monk, his own face hovering near the other's, waiting diligently for his companion and keeper's next movement.
Lids finally lifted on endlessly deep pools of melted amethyst, shadowed only slightly by the long, effeminate lashes that hooded them. A glimmer of remembrance danced across the surface, recognition rippling through the shielded depths.
However, this was one flower that was about to show its poisonous thorns. A still bandaged hand shot up, whacking Goku upside the head, causing the boy to let out a yelp of shock and pain. "Itai! Sanzo~o! What was that for?!"
"Get the fuck out of my face, bakasaru..." Sanzo groaned pathetically, surprised at how weak his own voice sounded.
The little voice huffed, and Goku grumbled indignantly. "You're lucky to be awake right now, Sanzo... you were bad off, but Hakkai healed you, and he had been poisoned." His voice sounded hurt. He hadn't appreciated that Hakkai had forced himself so. This made Sanzo frown as well, flickering eyes finding Goku's face in the dim light and focusing on it. "It's only been about seven or eight hours since we were attacked..."
For a moment, the monk was thrown off. Had Goku stayed by his side the whole time? He closed his eyes, sighing. Only one way to find out. "And how long have you stayed here? Not the whole time, I hope."
"Actually, I have," retorted Goku proudly. "I was afraid... that you... that you'd leave me alone..."
Finally, realization dawned on Sanzo, and he gave in to Goku's melting gaze. "Bakasaru. You've followed me around for how many years now, and you think I'm going to leave you alone just by a few punches? Not likely. I won't die that easily."
Goku smiled brightly at him, quickly replacing that sad look that struck a bad chord somewhere deep within Sanzo. "Un... I'm glad you're okay."
A wry grin stretched across Sanzo's thin features as he ruffled Goku's hair lightly. "I'm glad I'm okay too. I refuse to die before any of you bastards." Sighing, he rested his arm back across his abdomen, staring blankly at the ceiling now. "Where are Gojyo and Hakkai?"
The question made Goku quiet suddenly, something that bothered Sanzo even more than the depressed look he had carried before. "Gojyo's in the hotel room they're sharing... but Hakkai..."
The rain seemed to be falling harder than it had been before, and Hakkai's whole body was starting to feel the cold as much as it was the strain he had put it through. Tsuneo seemed more than willing to continue the fight, however, not half as worn down as Hakkai and even more prepared for the battle. Hakkai had to find of a way out of this... quickly.
Tsuneo grinned with an almost animal growl, slinking along the ground lightly, glaring at his opponent. "You are tired, Cho Hakkai... very tired... I can smell your fear, now. You know you're going to die!"
"Perhaps..." Hakkai breathed, his hand pressed to his chest lightly. "However, I refuse to die without a fight."
The words were all it took and Tsuneo shot foreward, claws extended and well prepared to slash the killing blow into the man's chest...
Hakkai moved quickly... no matter what happened, he had to finish this fight, and he had to win. Just as Tsuneo reached him, he brought up brightly glowing hands, all the energy he could muster concentrated in them, pressing them flat against the youkai's chest. "Gomen nasai...!"
With those words, the massive concentration of energy exploded from his palms, tearing through Tsuneo's chest like an explosive. The youkai collapsed against him, shaking as he struggled with his last breaths. "Bastard... I'll see you in Hell..."
Hakkai stood impassively, his lips a drawn, thin line. "I'll hold you to that."
Eyes closed as Tsuneo's body dissintegrated into the wind, finally releasing the weight from Hakkai's body. Sighing shakily, he glanced down at his hands, the same hands that had killed so many...
Staggering a little, he finally collapsed into the muddy earth, with nothing more than the rain left to accompany him.
Too long. He had been gone too long. Ever since Hakkai had left hours ago, he had waited. By this point, he had taken to pacing the floor, his long red hair falling softly into his face. Hakkai had to come back soon...
Of course, he had been telling himself that for the past few hours. No sign of Hakkai yet, and he was starting to give up hope. At this point, his options became very limited. He had to find Hakkai somehow, but where could he be?
Finally, resolve set, he picked up his vest and slung it lightly over his shoulder. He'd find Hakkai himself. He wouldn't let him die.
He still hated the rain. Hakkai groaned as he came to his senses, bitterly aware of the cold rain as it beat solemn paths down his already drenched back. The rain never brought anything good. It brought pain, sorrow, and...
Gojyo. A wistful smile crossed his lips. It was in this same cold rain, three years past, that he had found Gojyo. Or more appropriately, Gojyo had found him, laying in the cold rain, injured and on the brink of pneumonia. Those beautiful red eyes and the silky red hair that reminded him so much of the blood that stained his own hands and that taught him how to live again.
Was it wrong of him to die now? To leave Gojyo so shortly after they had finally come to the realization of their affection for one another? It had to be... he could still feel the warm, insistant press of those sensual lips against his own, forcing him to realize that Gojyo wasn't just kidding with him. He would miss that...
He choked back a sob lightly, not allowing himself to feel anything. Death should've been painless... why did it hurt so much?
Somewhere in the back of his mind, he could've sworn he heard shouting. Someone yelling his name, footsteps sloshing through the mud and moving closer. No, he had to be hallucinating.
"Hakkai! God, Hakkai! Answer me!"
No... no, that was definitely a voice. Hakkai struggled to lift his head, trying to determine the direction of the approaching searcher. The voice was Gojyo's... Gojyo had come for him. Lips parted to call for him, but no sound crossed them, an inability to speak suddenly clutching at his throat. Fearfully now, he fought against the tendrils of sweet, black nothing that curled about his senses.
Strong arms soon embraced him, pulling him to a sopping wet chest. Not that it really mattered. Gojyo may have been as equally soaked as he was, but the only thing that truly mattered was his presence there. Forcefully, he opened his lips again and spoke, the words melting over his lips like warm honey. "You came for me..."
"Of course I did!" Gojyo's face was wrought with pure horror, a look Hakkai had rarely seen written in the lines of that slender face. "I couldn't... God, Hakkai, he really tore you up... where is he?!"
"Killed him..." murmured Hakkai, letting his head rest tiredly against Gojyo's shoulder as a slender hand played in his hair. "Would've killed you... Sanzo and Goku..."
Gojyo huffed, bundling Hakkai's trembling body into his arms. "Baka ne..." His lips brushed in a chaste kiss over Hakkai's. "We coulda survived. You're just paranoid." Hakkai murmured something quietly in response as Gojyo's hand again played through his hair. "You taste like rain, 'kai..."
A tiny, soft smile played on the young man's lips before he slipped into unconsciousness.
Consciousness slowly began to return to Hakkai several days later, initiated partially by the warm breath he felt ghosting against his neck. Forcing open his eyes, he looked to one side, one fearful part of him half expecting to find that young youkai that had tried so hard to kill him...
Much to his relief, he found Gojyo there, his upper torso leaning on the bed, one arm and his head resting on the pillow next to him. Smiling softly, Hakkai reached over and patted Gojyo's cheek. "Gojyo... Gojyo, wake up..."
The soft voice was quite enough to startle Gojyo into awareness, bolting upright and staring directly at Hakkai with worried red eyes. "Hakkai, you're awake!"
"Hai." The young man closed his eyes lightly as Gojyo hugged him gently, and it was only then that Hakkai noticed tears beginning to streak that soft face, moistening his own cheek and a bit of his hair. "You're crying, Gojyo."
Gojyo finally lifted his head, glaring at Hakkai through the bloodied silk that almost obscured his vision. "Why shouldn't I? You almost died, Hakkai! The doctor that looked at you said you probably wouldn't pull through... I denied it until my throat was sore, but even Sanzo and Goku had their doubts. I... I didn't..."
For the first time in God only knows how long, a genuine smile graced Hakkai's features, lighting up the normally stoic face and giving Gojyo a look at the man he had so readily fallen for he had rarely seen. "Of course I asn't going to die, Gojyo." His voice was so determined, despite the weakness that laced it. "I have far more to live for now than I ever did before."
"Y'know, 'kai... I swore I was gonna taste those lips of yours again... I'm still gonna." The roguish smile was back. "You mind?"
With a sigh, Hakkai relaxed into Gojyo's gentle touches, loving the feel of softly calloused fingers against his temple, cheeks, nose, lips... "I don't mind at all. You know I don't."
And of course, he found himself smiling again as Gojyo's lips found his. An expert tongue massaged his own, exploring every nook and crannie of the cavern of his mouth, slipping in spots that sent chills down Hakkai's spine. "Mm... 'kai, you still taste sweet." Gojyo's lips brushed Hakkai's all the while, not wanting to lean too far away for fear that this dream would disappear. "Y'know, Goku hasn't left Sanzo's side. Last I checked, he was asleep just like I was. Same way, too. Sanzo was actin' asleep, huggin' Goku like he was, but I could tell he was awake. That ass."
Hakkai chuckled, letting his hands sift through Gojyo's thick hair. "Pulling Goku along by the reigns?"
"In a way. But when Goku wakes up, I think this'll be one time Sanzo won't push him away." For a moment, the two were silent, but finally, Gojyo spoke again. "Why did he want to kill you so badly, Hakkai? That he would attack the rest of us, I mean."
"Apparently, his lover was one of the many I slaughtered back then. His attack was vengence. I wish I hadn't had to kill him. It doesn't feel right. I feel like it was wrong, a habit I've developed... he wasn't fighting because we are his enemy, or even because he's been affected by the minus wave... he was fighting because I took away something precious to him, just like what had been done to me... he was so much like me, it was like... killing myself."
"Shh..." Gojyo brushed his lips over Hakkai's closed eyes, nestling closer to his companion. "Don't even worry about it anymore."
As his arms held Hakkai all that more closely, Hakkai allowed himself another genuine smile, and ceased to think at all.
Sanzo sighed as he stared at the ceiling above him, his arms carefully wound about Goku's immobile form, listening only to the sound of the boy's soft breathing. A long time ago, he probably would've ranted on an on in a position such as this how attraction was foolish, affection was pointless, and love was futile. He would've ranted on about how you lose your loved ones so easily, and about how even those you care about the most will leave you in the end.
His gaze drifted down to the sleeping young man in his arms... not a boy as so many thought... no... He knew about things that adults should, he was -- by age -- an adult...
A smile suddenly twitched at the corners of Sanzo's lips as he gently brushed a kiss over Goku's soft brown hair. No... this time, he had something important to hold onto...
A couple weeks more passed without incident, and soon, the Sanzo-ikkou was on the road again. Hakkai sat cheerfully behind the wheel of Hakuryuu, a smile playing on his lips as he listened to the bickering in the back seat.
"Hey! That was my meat bun, you perverted cockroach kappa!"
"Not anymore, bakasaru! Siddown and shut up!"
"No way! I'll get you for that!"
"ITAI! Damn monkey! You bit me!"
"Serves you right!"
And all the while, Sanzo sat quietly... or at least slightly quietly. His eyebrow was ticking, his arms folded tightly across his chest, his hands clutching his robe so harshly his knuckles were white, a vein showing slightly in his forehead as he gritted his teeth. Just as suddenly as the escapade in the back had started, the monk turned in his seat and gave both of them a fierce whack with his paper fan. "Yamero! Now shut up before I shoot both your asses and lower the idiot population a little!"
Gojyo huffed, leaning foreward on the back of Hakkai's chair, his hot breath tickling the back of his companion's neck. "Ne, Hakkai... how much further to the next town? If we don't get there soon, I think 'Sanzo Houshi-sama' is going to kill Goku and I both!"
Hakkai smiled a little wider. "Not too far, Gojyo... now sit down. You're making Hakuryuu edgy."
"Right, right." Gojyo grinned and flopped back in his chair, staring at the sky.
The bickering between Sanzo and Goku continued, Hakkai kept driving, and Gojyo kept staring...
Life had returned to normal, no matter the mishaps...
Even if certain things would never remain the same.