*smashes head through the wall* I GOT IT DONE! IT'S ABOUT FREAKING TIME!!! *flails* Ugh. Remind me never to write another story with these two that has dialogue in it. Can not do it. *collapses*

But yes. This was supposed to be done sometime last week. And I started it several months ago. Like...back in June or something. And I thought, "I can't do this. Screw it." and gave up. But then, two weeks ago, I found it and thought, "Why not finish it~?" THIS IS WHY! AGH! I. Hate. Writing. Dialogue. At least for this pairing. But on that note, thank you to Cheshiremask. My Hakkai would be nothing without your Gojyo. I owe you soooo much for this one.

Ok! Enough ranting! On with my first 58 story with any length and dialogue~! Here's hoping it's not as bad as I think it is.

PS: My lovely friend Cheshiremask has rewritten this from Gojyo's perspective on her page. Go check it out. Entitled Claim.

"You should sleep."

"I can't."

"Why not?"

"I just…can't."

"That's not a reason." He's never one to just leave things alone.

I try to dissuade further questioning. "Please don't worry about me. I'm just not tired."

He doesn't believe me. "Tell that to the bags under your eyes."

"Please stop asking; it's not helping…"

He laughs at me, though the sound is hollow, lacks true amusement. He's trying to lighten the mood. "You want me to sing you a lullaby instead?"

I can't help but smile at the idea, shaking my head carefully where it rests on my hands. "No, I'd really rather you didn't."

"C'mon, I don't sing that badly do I?" I don't have to look at him to know he's faking a hurt expression.

"Hmm…no. But I'd really rather we didn't get shot at because you wake someone else." It's a valid argument, though I really just don't want to be broken down to little more than a giggling fool, which will be the undoubted result should he try to sing me to sleep. I want to continue in my thoughts. I don't want to laugh.

I watch as his fingers curl around the top of the chair across from me, watch as he takes a seat and stares at me. I'm lost, for a moment, in the captivating crimson depths. But I shake myself out of it. I don't want to think about him.

His hand is in my hair; he's apparently decided to try a gentler approach now. "You look like Hell." Well…at least physically gentler.

"I somehow doubt anyone really cares how I look," I point out, wearing my favored mask, smiling pleasantly out of habit.

"So, what?" he asks, "Does that make me nobody?"

I arch an eyebrow, lifting my head only slightly. I bump against his palm, but he doesn't pull back. "Why, Gojyo, I didn't know you cared so much about my appearance."

He snorts and gives me a light smack upside the head, giving me reason enough to lie back down on the backs of my hands. "If I'm going to be travelin' with a bunch of guys, then I damn well want you all to look good. I hardly want to be seen with sleep-deprived zombies."

Mm…typical answer. I've almost come to the point where I can predict what he's going to say. I haven't been this close to someone since…No. I'd rather not compare them again. It's not fair to either.

"Well then," I try, keeping my voice placid, amiable, "I suppose I'll have to avoid being seen with you. Because, as bad as I may look, I don't feel like sleeping right now."

He shakes his head and glances over his shoulder, no doubt staring out the window. It's smeared with the tears of God, the claps of His sobbing nearly shaking the foundation of the small inn we're currently holed up in. I hate this weather. There aren't tears enough that He can cry that I will ever forgive Him.

"It's the rain, isn't it?" he asks, turning back to me, his face having lost its typical humor. "You never sleep when it rains."

I shrug. There's no reason to answer. He knows me well enough that I don't have to.

A heavy sigh passes his lips and he digs around in his pocket for a cigarette. I'm wearing him down. He'll stop trying soon enough.

"You know, 'Kai, this is just getting silly now." The stick is between his lips, the small fire of his lighter licking hungrily at it as he lights it. "I know it's gotta hurt but this…You're going to make yourself sick."

All I do is smile. I don't want to let go. I don't want to be healthy. I don't want to sleep. I want what I can't have, and I'm just foolish enough to keep trying.

He wants to hit me. He wants to yell at me. I can see it in his face, in his eyes. He doesn't realize how expressive he is. We're always so busy picking on Goku, so busy pointing out how the youngest of our ragtag team reads like a picture book, that no one's bothered to point out how open he is. It's his eyes. And I'm just fixated enough to notice.

"This isn't a fuckin' joke you know," he scowls, doing his best not to sound as angry with me as he is. It's hard, when his mouth has a tendency to work before his brain has any input.

"I'm not laughing."

I can see the muscles in his arms tense. He's losing patience with me. It helps that he doesn't have much to begin with. "No, but you've got that goddamn smile on your face that says you're laughing at me."

I cock my head to the side, blinking in mock innocence. I know how to push him, what will make him angry, what will make him storm out cursing my name. I don't like it when he's mad at me, but right now I just want to be alone. And if he's not mad, he won't leave me be. "Oh? I was just trying to assure you that I'm alright. I'm simply not tired."

"Not tired my ass," he snaps. I can all but see his hands fisting in his lap, resisting the urge to lash out at me. I'm still smiling, and I know he wants nothing more than to wipe it off of me. "Look at you. You're a mess. And you're our driver, asshole. You have to sleep."

"I will, Gojyo, I will." I wave my hand absently. I'm treating him like a child. And I know how much he hates it. "I just need some time."

He's on his feet. He's staring down at me with such fire and passion in those eyes…It suits him. It suits that color.

"You've needed time for the last four, fucking, years. She's dead. I'm sorry to break it to you, but no amount of self-loathing is going to bring her back. Staring at the rain won't make her just appear outside your goddamn room. You don't have to let her go, 'Kai, but you can't let her run your life."

It's a spiel I've heard before. It's been worded differently, said differently, but the meaning is the same. What they want from me is the same. I don't want to state the obvious. I don't want to point out that he's never had someone so dear to him taken from him, that he doesn't understand the depths of my feelings. I don't want to throw it in his face that I was loved and he was not. That's a line I've never crossed, and one I don't dare to approach. There's a limit to my cruelty.

I get to my feet tiredly, brushing myself off in the process. I bring my eyes to meet his, not bothering to mask them with a smile this time. I let the pain I feel bleed through, I let him see how much I hurt, how weary I am. He won't listen to my words, no matter what I say. But he can see.

The anger in him falters. He doesn't break eye contact, but the frustration is fading into pity. I don't want pity. Pity will make him stay.

"I understand, Gojyo," I say, quickly covering the lapse with another practiced smile, "Thank you for your concern."

It's a dismissal. We both know it is. And yet…he doesn't move. He's still staring at me. But I can't read him. His eyes are clouded. There's too much there. I can't tell one thing from the next.

"You don't get it," he mutters, catching me off guard, "That's what you're thinking, isn't it? That I don't understand." He scoffs and violently puts his cigarette out in the once clean ashtray on the table. "Of course I don't fuckin' understand. How am I supposed to when you won't talk to me?"

We've had this discussion before as well. Many times. Usually, he's drunk and sputtering things he wouldn't otherwise say. It's rare that he says it sober, that he'll demand it of me face-to-face. But I know how to handle it.

"I will. Just not right now."

He growls low in his throat but turns away from me, pacing restless lines between me and the door. He's angry with me again. Well…that's what I want.

I sometimes wonder why he tries. I sometimes wonder what drives him to be so concerned with my wellbeing. We're friends; I understand that. We've grown close over the time we've lived with one another, through the things we've survived. But that still doesn't explain – at least not to me – why he tries as hard as he does. Sanzo dismisses it. Goku does what Sanzo wants. Why does he have to put up so much of a fight?

His eyes are on me again. I don't flinch. I don't hesitate. I simply meet his simmering stare with a placid one of my own. Yes; this anger is lovely in his eyes.

"When?" His voice is strangely flat, for all that he's clearly longing to knock me over, to pin me against the wall, to shout at me for answers. Even after this long, he can still surprise me.

"I'm sorry?"

"When are you going to talk to me?" He's stopped pacing. He's facing me. He's even going so far as to step closer. I don't move. I won't give an inch.

Smile; it's what I do best. "Soon."

I expect him to hit me. Or at least give up. But he doesn't do either. He sighs heavily and shakes his head, those wonderful eyes suddenly dull, listless. He looks…tired. Is that how I look when I do that? Is this what he sees? It's no wonder it works so well at deterring him…

"When?" he mutters again.

I don't let my façade break. I don't let my smile fade. I don't look away, regardless of my desire to. I open my mouth to speak but anger flashes in those carmine depths again.

"Don't you fuckin' tell me 'soon'," he snarls, stepping closer still, "I want to know when."

I hesitate, if only for a moment, my resolution faltering. No. It's just another game. And I never lose. I simply need a new approach that doesn't break his rules, but keeps me ahead. "Really, Gojyo, there's not much I've left to tell you. I'm quite sure you know everything there is to know about me."

His hands are in my shirt, pulling me in close. I can feel his breath on my face; can all but taste the cigarette he's only just finished. And I can see into his eyes that much easier. He's so upset…I almost feel bad. He doesn't need to hurt for me. I don't deserve that. No one should suffer for me again.

He breathes his words out angrily, though his voice is low. Each syllable is almost palatable; I feel like I can devour his frustration from our proximity alone. It's an interesting sensation. "If I knew everything about you, then we wouldn't be arguing right now, would we? You'd be asleep like I want you to be. You'd be resting and over this. I'd know why the rain keeps you up, why you won't let go. But I don't. So there's a shitload of stuff for you to tell me. Now spill it."

I tilt my head again, my smile fixed as if it had been painted there. I've denied him before. This is no different from then. I don't know why he tries so hard…I'm hardly worth the effort.

"There's nothing to say," I assure falsely, "It's not something that can be spoken. You know that."

But he doesn't let go. He keeps me close, our noses nearly touching. It's odd, how close I can get to him without feeling even a modicum of discomfort. He's a threatening person sometimes, with his height and his strength. But I know him well enough. He won't hurt me, no matter how much he may want to. And even if he does, I'll deserve every blow.

There are no words. He's staring at me, and I at him. Tension hangs in the air; I can feel it against my skin. We're friends, this man and I, but in this moment, it would be impossible to tell.

And then his hands are on my face, tilting my head at the same time he tilts his own, and his mouth is on mine. My shoulders tense; my eyes widen. This…He's never done this before. Not to me. I've watched him treat women in such a way, I've watched him flirt and do what he does. But never has he turned it on me. And I'm…at a loss of what to do. I haven't kissed anyone since her. I'm not sure I want to.

He pulls away as unexpectedly as he'd kissed me in the first place, though the distance between us is still minimal, still barely a hair's breadth. And, for once, I find it disconcerting.

"Fuck," he huffs irritably, the words brushing against my lips, my body shaking despite my best efforts not to. "Why do I fucking care?!" And he's kissing me again, stealing what breath I've only just managed to recover.

His tongue plies at my lips and I let him in before I can think what I'm doing. The taste of cigarettes, that bitter shock of tobacco. And something more prominent. Something truly addicting that makes me whimper, that makes me lift my hands from my sides to finally touch him. I don't know what it is, but I know this craving. It's been dead for so long, sent to the grave with the only other person who's elicited it from me. Of course he would be able to resuscitate it. He'd dragged me back from the sweet release of death after all.

And then he's gone again, and I'm left panting softly. I can feel the heat in my face. I can feel that my mask has dropped. I can feel my heart against my ribs. And I hate myself. I'm betraying her. She was my one and only. I was to die with her. I was to join her. And, being denied that, I was to wait. I was hers. And yet my hands were fisted in his shirt, my lips craving his kiss, my body craving his touch. I'm disgusting…

He's backing us up, my legs too weak to give any resistance. I find myself pinned between him and the wall and I'm not fighting. My hands are still curled in the fabric of his shirt, against his sides, my eyes fixed with his. His emotions are conflicting again, those enrapturing carmine depths fighting with themselves. He's still mad. But he wants this – I want this –, and it seems like neither of us has the will to stop the other.

I lose contact with those eyes as he ducks his head in, his mouth on my throat, my jaw, words breathed irritably between near demanding kisses. I barely understand them, barely hear them. The sound of my own blood pounding in my ears is all but deafening.

"Why do I care?" He shakes his head, his hands taking hold of my hips, almost painful in his grip. "Why do I try? You keep pushing me away. The fuck do I have to do?!"

A quiet gasp passes my lips as I tilt my head back, feel it knock against the wall. I want to answer. I want to say something. But the words won't form. I can't think. And I don't know what to say. I clutch at his sides, closing my eyes and trying not to think. Kanan…I'm sorry.

The hands on my hips tighten almost violently, and I find myself curtly shaken. I'm forced to look at him again, watching pain and frustration and lust fight for dominance in his features, in his eyes, in his actions. I want to recoil. I want to get away. I don't want to be the cause for this.

"You're thinking about her, aren't you?" He breathes the words softly, bitterly, watching my eyes.

I can't lie to him. Not anymore. Not now. "Yes."

His shoulders fall and his eyes darken, but he lowers his head before I can read him, before I can understand. His forehead is on my shoulder and his hands ease off, though they stay loosely rested on my hips. Silence. The subtle shift of clothing. I can almost hear it when I blink.

"I want you to stop," he mutters against my neck, his breath ghosting across my skin.

"Stop what?"

"Don't fuck with me." He slams one hand against the wall, beside my head. For once, I flinch. "You know damn well what I want you to stop."

"I can't." I whisper the words softly, wanting to placate him but knowing I can't. He wants something I can't give him. He wants me to do something I can't. "I love her."

"She's dead." His voice almost breaks. Almost. I hear the small hitch, and I feel his fingers curling against my sides again. He's upset. I've caused him pain. Why do people always suffer for the sake of others?

"I know. But…"

"But nothing!" He cuts me off, pulling back enough for me to see his face again. The anger and the pain there is too much, and I find myself staring just to the left of him, at the far wall. He seems to ignore it, pressing on instead. "She's dead, Hakkai! Let her stay that way! Do you think she's happy about this? Do you think she's happy that you, someone she loved, is killing himself over not being with her?!"

I smile because I can, hollow and broken. "Yes. She was mine. And I was hers. I belong with her, in life and in death." I sigh, shake my head, but my smile is still in place. "I don't actively try to hurt myself, Gojyo. You know that. I fight to stay alive, just like the rest of you. I just…miss her."

He scoffs and looks away from me. Is he disgusted or just angry? I don't know. I can't see his face anymore. "You don't miss her," he hisses, "You can't miss someone who runs your life."

Before I can think otherwise, I lash out and shove him away from me, though the gesture is met with resistance and ultimately nothing is accomplished. I'm still trapped. But my eyes are narrowed, my shoulders raised defensively. He can't say those things to me. He doesn't understand. And that look on his face…He's mocking me. He wants a reaction.

I calm myself, not wanting to give him the satisfaction of this victory. Not just yet. I let my shoulders ease slightly, though I'm still wary, still angry. "You have no right to say that," I grind out with forced patience, "You don't know how I feel. You don't understand."

"And there it is." He laughs shortly, humorlessly, shaking his head and smiling bitterly. "I knew that's how you felt. And you know what else? I think you're just doing this because you're afraid to move on. You're afraid of the future. Gonou belonged with Kanan. And last time I checked, you were the one who told me he was dead."

I cringe at that name. His name. My name. How can he think that, just because my name is different, I can leave her behind? How can he think that I can just let her go? I fist my hands in his shirt, pushing against his solid chest. "I'm not afraid, Gojyo. If I was afraid, I wouldn't have come back. I'd have insisted that those monks kill me. But Gonou and I are the same person. We share lives. Memories. How he feels, who he belongs to, are the same as how I feel and who I belong to."

"You're wrong." His voice has dropped again, the tone less aggressive. I can actually hear him smiling. His breath is on my neck again, his hands moving back to my hips and holding them tightly. "He lived with her. He looked after her. Now you live with me. You look after me." I feel his smug smile as he presses closer, my breath catching, my face flushing. "You're mine now."

My heart stops. My mouth feels dry. I want to say something, but I can't. I don't know what to say even if I could form the words. He's staking claim. He…wants me. No. That's wrong. He can't want me. I'm broken. I'm tainted. I'm not fit to belong to anyone but her.

I manage a small sound of protest as his mouth lavishes attention on my throat, my jaw. I bring my hands up, plant them on his chest, try to push him away. But my strength is waning, my arms trembling with every swipe of his tongue, every brush of his lips. He has more experience than me. He knows what will work, and what won't. And my body is surrendering to it while my mind screams protests.

I shut my eyes tightly, try to block out the feelings bombarding my body, try to ignore the heat and sensations I haven't known for years as they sweep through my nerves like an electrical current. I try to think of her, to apologize, to remember who my heart belongs to. But I can't. Her smile has been replaced by his, her smell overtaken by the scent of his cigarettes. No. I can't lose her. She's all that's left of that time, that life, my humanity. I try to cling to what I can, try to remember the feeling of her skin, the sound of her voice, anything. But it slips through my fingers like so much sand, leaving me feeling weak, exposed, empty.

His hand is in my hair, when it got there I'm not sure. I can feel his long fingers petting, tugging, using their hold to tilt my head for a proper kiss. A whimper passes from my mouth to his, another shiver running down my spine as the taste of his tongue lingers on my own. My whimper becomes a groan as he presses deeper, closer, my hands no longer trying to push him away as I slide my arms shakily over his shoulders. The tremors in my body aren't from fear, but anticipation. I'm weak. I'm disgusting. And I need him.

We part to breathe and I find myself craving his return, leaning in to feather my own kisses across his face, letting my tongue brush shyly against the marks on his cheek. He pulls away for a moment, the tension in his shoulders telling me that such contact wasn't appreciated. I mutter an apology, the words coming out as little more than a breathy sigh at this point. I've given up. I've stopped thinking. One moment or relief, one night of freedom from myself. That's all I want. And he's the only one who can give it to me.

I meet his eyes as he lifts my hands up above my head, noticing something there that I haven't seen in years. I want to ignore it. I want to deny it. I want to pretend that this is just his venting months of sexual denial, months of having nothing but the company of male traveling companions. But I can't. Not when he can look at me like that.

He pulls my shirt up over my head, careful to remove the monocle on my face beforehand, tucking the small glass lens in his pocket. I want to tell him to rip my heart out and take that too; it's betrayed her memory, betrayed me, all for him. It would be fitting that he possess at least that much of me. But my mouth still won't work. Words still won't come. All I can do is stare, my limbs obeying his commands as opposed to mine.

Fingers trace the edge of the scar on my stomach and I instinctively pull away. I don't want to be reminded of that. Just as he doesn't want my attention on his, I don't want him to linger on mine. Yet his hand follows as I attempt to retreat, fingers morbidly curious as they move over the paler, smoother, skin. I can't look at him through this. I don't want to face the reality of what I am, of what I did, of how I failed. I don't want to think that, regardless of everything, those eyes aren't judging me, that the desire to possess me hasn't left him. I don't want to think that it's alright to be the monster that I am.

Finally, his hands move on. I can feel the calluses on his fingers, so different from the only other hands I've ever let touch me. But those memories are fleeting now, barely there, like the breath of a specter as it leaves me behind. And as much as I want to chase after it, as much as I long to remember her as vividly as I once did, I find myself arching up into his hands, craving his touch over hers. I tug at the hem of his shirt, needing to ask without words, needing to feel him the way I'm allowing him to feel me.

A smile. A kiss. And then his shirt joins mine on the floor. I run my hands shakily over his shoulders, his chest, his sides. How many times have I seen this? How many times have I been allowed this close, if only to close wounds? Why, now, are my hands shaking? Why does it seem…new? He's being patient, letting me take my time, watching me carefully. There's still a smile on his face, his own hands still quietly exploring my skin. He's gentle, as if he thinks he might break me. I feel like telling him he already has.

And then his mouth is on me again, though his attentions are on my neck, my shoulders, my collarbone. I shudder despite myself, my hands clinging desperately to his hips. I tip my head back to let him take what he wants, panting soft, wordless, encouragements. I want this. I want more of everything he can give me. I'm beyond caring anymore; I just want to feel needed. Just one more time.

His leg nudges between mine, one solid thigh rubbing against the center of my need. A sharp cry leaves me before I can stop it, my head snapping back and knocking against the wall. I feel the heat sweep through my body from that point of contact, my hips rolling in an effort to feel it again. I can feel him smiling against my throat as he presses closer, the heat of his skin a stark contrast to the chilled wall behind me.

One of his hands slides in behind me, pulls me against his body, forcing our hips together and driving another lost noise from my throat. His other hand slides up my chest hungrily, touching and stroking every inch of my heated skin. All hesitation is lost. We're not being careful. We know each other too well. We're beyond formalities. Every gesture, every breath, is another silent plea. And permission has been given to fill unspoken requests.

His hands move down. Mine move up. I wrap my arms tightly around his neck as his fingers trace the waistband of my pants. My breath leaves me in a rush as his deft hand slides lower, as he touches sensitive skin hungry for his attention. I all but buckle forwards, my head on his shoulder, and I can feel his smile against my face. I haven't been touched like this, treated like this, in years. And that he's the one who would break that wall…I can't stop the smile that touches my own lips.

My remaining clothes are removed easily, the fabric pooling on the floor around my ankles. Surprisingly the room isn't cold; or, if it is, I don't notice. I feel his free hand skate along the length of my thighs, down the outside, up the inside, tracing along the joint of my hip. A small, lost, noise passes my lips, brushes past his ear. I need this. I need him. And the gradual pace he sets tells me he understands.

I cry out sharply as he touches me, strokes me, those fingers sending electric shocks of pleasure through my nerves. My breath is coming in shorter and shorter pants, the heat in my skin starting to feel like he's set fire to my veins. I tangle my fingers in his hair - that stunning, carmine, hair - and tug, begging him for more with breathless whimpers. He covers my mouth with his, his tongue sliding against mine, and redoubles his efforts.

My knees feel weak. My head is spinning. Every shallow breath I take isn't enough. I have to cling to him to stay standing, my hips moving shakily in an attempt to match the movements of his hand. There's a tightening in my gut, a shudder runs up my spine, and I have to break from his kiss to keep from biting his tongue as my release hits me all at once.

He strokes me throughout, taking me for all I can give him as I all but crumple against him. A small voice in the back of my head mocks me, derides me, but for once I find I can smother it. I can suffocate it. I can give myself this moment of peace.

"Mine." He breathes the word past my ear as he cleans his hand like a cat, licking my seed away as if he needs it to survive. All I can manage is a strangled whimper, my hands still clutching at his hair, needing to ground myself on something.

Slowly, the pleasant haze of my orgasm begins to wear down, my breathing leveling out, my heart no longer straining against my ribs. I shakily remove my fingers from the red strands tangled around them, smoothing them down his neck, across his face, along his shoulders. I meet his eyes and I know. I'm safe here. Wherever he is, I'll always be safe.

His hand moves through my hair, touching gently, carefully, adoringly. A smile touches his lips and he cups the back of my head, resting his forehead against my own. "Penny for your thoughts?"

I can't help it. I laugh. I'm pinned between my best friend and a wall, naked and spent, and I laugh. I stop myself and smile, tipping my head enough to steal a brief kiss. "I'm just thinking about you." I breathe the words into his mouth, my hands sliding down his back and sides as I do.

"Good," he whispers back, claiming my mouth with surprising hunger. I let him have it. I let him have all of me. I've finally found a place that Cho Hakkai belongs.

PS: Haha. I kinda copped out on the end here. Poor Gojyo. This is what happens when I lose interest in writing smut at work. XD;;; Review please?