Zang Fu Theory

BY : LotusMoon
Category: Gensomaden Saiyuki > Yaoi - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 4943
Disclaimer: I do not own Gensomaden Saiyuki, nor any of the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.


Title: Zang Fu Theory, Part 26

Author: Lotus

Pairing(s): Sanzo/Hakkai/Gojyo

Rating: R

Warnings: Language, sexual innuendo

Summary: The ikkou is reunited.



Immense gratitude to my beta,



sharpeslass





, who managed to edit this for me despite being ill. Please send lots of healing thoughts her way!







Despite telling Hakkai he was okay, Gojyo felt off. For one, he was chilled, and he pretty much had to be ass-deep in snow to get cold. He was light-headed and dizzy and it was taking considerable effort to bring things around him into focus. He felt tenuously connected, like dandelion seeds that only needed a breeze to burst apart and fly away. It was taking most of his concentration to act normal. Pressing back into Jipu’s seat made him feel better, more... solid. What Gojyo really wanted, more than anything, was to lie down in the quiet dark with Hakkai, tangled limbs tying him to the earth.



But, at the moment, it wasn’t about what he wanted.



Jipu quickly overtook the running Goku and they barely stopped long enough for him to jump in the back before speeding onwards towards the temple. Pushing his wind-blown hair back from his face, Gojyo snuck a peek at Hakkai through the flying strands.



Something was up. Gojyo had expected his flirtatious advances in the Red Kimono garden to be deflected; after all, it really hadn’t been the time or place. He had just been so happy to see Hakkai, to be alive, he couldn’t help himself. Gojyo had not, however, expected to be so thoroughly rejected. Sanzo might not have said something to Hakkai, but something had changed since Gojyo and Hakkai had slept together. Knowing Hakkai, he might’ve just been over-thinking things again.



“When are we gonna get to the temple?” Goku asked from the back seat.



Hakkai turned to glance back at the anxious Goku. “Just a few more minutes.”



It was at that moment, when Hakkai’s full attention was taken off the road, that Gojyo caught movement out of the corner of his eye.



“Hakkai, look out!” Gojyo shouted just as a girl ran out of the darkness into the headlights.



“Shit!” Hakkai let out a rare curse word as he spun the steering wheel hard right.



Jipu turned, sliding on the crappy gravel road. Gojyo braced himself with his hands on the dashboard, and felt a thump as Goku hit the back of his seat. When Jipu finally skidded to a stop in a cloud of dirt and gravel, they were sideways across the road, Jipu’s headlights pointing out over the barren field. The girl was standing about three inches from Gojyo’s door.



Even though the headlights were now directed away from her, Gojyo could see well enough in the moonlight to recognize the innkeeper’s daughter. She looked like hell. Her hair was tangled with leaves, her clothes were ripped, and she had scratches on her face and arms. Her hands were clasped tightly together over her breasts like she was praying. Only she wasn’t praying; she was crying and shaking.



“Kana?” Gojyo spoke her name quietly.



When she didn’t respond, he reached out and touched her arm. She jumped like he’d slapped her.



“What happened, honey?” Gojyo asked.



Kana blinked rapidly and focused on him. Her eyes widened and she grabbed his arm with both hands. Her skin was like ice, and she shook so hard it made Gojyo’s sleeve tremble.



“I-it was h-horrible,” she stuttered, teeth chattering. “The fire oni killed him.”



“Who?” Gojyo prodded gently.



“The monk.”



Gojyo’s heart sank, and he glanced over at Hakkai, who met his eyes grimly.



“It’s not Sanzo,” Goku said.



Gojyo twisted around to look at Goku, who was leaning on the back of his seat. His golden eyes had a distant look, as if Goku was focused on something far away. For a moment the boy disappeared, and Gojyo saw a glimpse of something else. He patted Goku’s hand.



“I’m sure it’s not our monk, monkey,” Gojyo said gently.



The huge eyes blinked, and Goku smiled at him. “Yeah,” he said.



Turning back around, Gojyo started to open his door, but Hakkai stopped him.



“She’ll be safer if she returns to the inn than if she comes with us,” Hakkai murmured.



Gojyo sighed. He knew Hakkai was right, but it felt wrong to leave Kana by the side of the road in such a terrible state.



“Look.” Hakkai touched his arm. “Other townspeople are returning.”



Gojyo peered out into the fields and saw the bobbing lights of lanterns, then the dark silhouettes of people as they came down the path and out of the woods. Kana wasn’t the only one crying. He could hear snatches of weeping, carried by the wind. Reaching over the door, Gojyo gripped Kana’s upper arms, squeezing until she met his eyes.



“Go back to the inn, honey,” he said. “Okay?”



Kana nodded, sniffling.



“Gojyo,” Hakkai said.



Gojyo released Kana’s arms and Hakkai carefully straightened Jipu on the road. As they drove off, Kana stood for a moment in the middle of the road, then began walking towards town. They rode in silence until the road disintegrated beyond navigation and the trees pressed in so close they scraped Jipu’s sides. Then Hakuryu transformed and they continued on foot.



It didn’t take long for Gojyo to fall behind, despite his best efforts. Hakkai periodically threw concerned looks back at him over his shoulder, but Gojyo waved them away. By the time they reached a crummy little wood shrine at a fork in the road, Gojyo was having to invest a ridiculous amount of concentration into putting one foot in front of the other and not falling over. It was like being completely smashed without any of the fun.



He seriously hoped Sanzo was all right. He wasn’t in any kind of shape for fighting.


 







Sanzo sat in the dark by the temple gate. He shifted on the mat the young monk had given him and pulled out his smokes and lighter. The lighter flared under his thumb and he inhaled deeply before closing it with a soft snick and returning it to his sleeve. He leaned a forearm on the guardian dog’s head as he smoked, enjoying the coolness of the stone. His skin was uncomfortably warm, and was starting to throb in some places where he suspected he’d actually been burned. His eyes still stung, even after rinsing them out with clean water.



“Shit,” Sanzo muttered.



Closing his eyes, he leaned against the dog and smoked. He was tired. He imagined Hakkai’s cool hands touching his skin, siphoning off the heat and pain. Sanzo snorted. All those years he’d traveled alone he’d been hurt worse than this and just suffered with it. Having a healer in the group was making him weak. Still, the thought of Hakkai’s touch wouldn’t leave him. Random images of Hakkai’s healings flitted through his mind, along with the conflicting emotional responses of comfort and unease. At some point, Sanzo’s aversion to being touched had been overcome by his need for contact. Somehow, Hakkai had quietly slipped past Sanzo’s defenses and set up camp behind enemy lines.



When Sanzo had lashed out in hurt anger and declared he would never allow Hakkai back in his bed, it had been an empty threat. It was far too late for that; Hakkai was under his skin. Sanzo craved the taste of him like he craved cigarettes. Sanzo’s fingers flexed a he remembered the feel of Hakkai’s flesh, yielding and resisting at the same time, his voice, hoarse with passion and need, calling out his name...



“Sanzo!”



Sanzo’s eyes snapped open and he jerked upright. He must have drifted off; he’d been half-slumped over the dog, the forgotten cigarette a tube of ash. A ball of light bounced towards him from the direction of the path. Sanzo squinted, but against the darkness of the trees, he couldn’t make out specific figures. Goku had called out his name, and Hakkai was generating the chi ball. Was Gojyo with them? Sanzo’s heart beat a little faster as he strained to see.



Perhaps remembering Sanzo’s human eyes weren’t as effective at night as the rest of the ikkou’s, Hakkai expanded the chi ball. In the circle of light, Sanzo clearly saw Goku break into a run towards him, and Hakkai’s slim, straight figure following at a more prudent pace. No Gojyo.



Sanzo had wondered how he would feel if Gojyo didn’t make it. In the hotel room, he had seen Hakkai recoil when Sanzo had told him the only way to free Gojyo from the talisman was to let him die. Gojyo was strong, but even a half-blooded youkai had his physical limits. Sanzo had known it was a risk and that even Hakkai might not be able to bring Gojyo back. If Gojyo died, Hakkai could blame Sanzo, perhaps even try to kill him, if he fell into the old darkness.



As Sanzo watched Hakkai approach, his inscrutable face a pale oval in the night, Sanzo wasn’t afraid. Instead, a completely unexpected feeling clenched his heart: grief. Grief and regret. He had failed to protect one of his people. The remains of the cigarette fell from Sanzo’s nerveless fingers.



“Sanzo! I knew you were okay!” Goku threw himself onto the ground next to Sanzo, wrapping his arms around his neck, chafing the burns.



“Get off me,” Sanzo growled, but slid an arm around Goku’s shoulders.



Frowning, Sanzo watched as Hakkai paused and looked back over his shoulder. A tall shadow detached itself from the tree line and moved into the circle of light. Sanzo’s guilty grief flared into anger as Gojyo’s lanky form joined Hakkai and the pair walked towards him. How dare the idiotic kappa make him worry just because he was a slow walker?



“Hey, your face is burned,” Goku said.



“Che.” Sanzo watched Hakkai and Gojyo approach. What the hell was Gojyo wearing?



“Hakkai!” Goku yelled next to Sanzo’s ear, making him wince. “Sanzo’s hurt!”



Sanzo dropped his arm from Goku’s shoulders.



“Stop yelling,” Sanzo grumbled.



Hakkai instantly became alert and broke into a jog. Gojyo, the lazy bastard, stayed at a walk, as if he were on a leisurely moonlight stroll. Sanzo’s eyes narrowed. Gojyo was weaving like a drunk. Sanzo’s attention was diverted as Hakkai knelt in front of him, blocking his view of Gojyo. The chi ball hovered near Sanzo’s face, making him squint and blurring Hakkai’s face.



“You have first- and second-degree burns,” Hakkai announced.



“It’s nothing,” Sanzo muttered.



Hakkai lifted his hand. Because Sanzo wanted to feel his touch more than he should, he jerked away.



“Not here,” Sanzo snapped.



Hakkai’s outstretched fingers curled into a fist and he lowered his hand.



“As you wish, Sanzo,” Hakkai said with forced politeness.



Movement to the side drew Sanzo’s eye, and he turned his head just enough to see Gojyo lean heavily against the torii gate’s other pillar. Why was the idiot lurking around over there, away from the group?



The last time he and Gojyo had been together flashed through his mind:



“You fucking prick!” Gojyo shouted.



Even expecting the swing, Sanzo was barely able to duck fast enough to dodge the blow. Gojyo’s knuckles clipped his right cheek hard enough to make his eye water. Sanzo reached out with his right hand and palm-struck Gojyo in the chest, throwing him backward into the room. Sanzo felt his legs caught in a wrestling vise as Gojyo rolled them over. The red eyes above him were bright with fury.




Sanzo sighed. Fishing out his pack of cigarettes, he knocked the box on the palm of his hand and lipped out a stick. Returning the pack to his sleeve, he ignored the lighter that brushed against his fingertips. Instead, he jerked his chin up at Gojyo.



“Give me a light,” he demanded.



Gojyo gave him a surprised look, then smiled. Pushing off the post with a shoulder, Gojyo shuffled over, patting his clothes. He managed to find a lighter and squatted next to Sanzo. Instead of taking the lighter, Sanzo leaned forward, making Gojyo light it for him. The flame trembled, and Sanzo reached out to steady Gojyo’s hand. He was startled at the coolness of Gojyo’s skin; normally Gojyo’s hands felt as if he had just pulled them out of gloves. The kappa was ridiculously hot-blooded.



Sanzo studied Gojyo’s face in the glow of the chi ball. The townspeople had made an effort to dehumanize him with the use of make-up. Even through the artifice, Sanzo could see the weariness in Gojyo’s face, the unusual tension lines around his eyes. He could also sense that Gojyo’s fighting chi was low; it would probably be depleted by summoning his shakujo. Releasing Gojyo’s hand, Sanzo glanced at Hakkai, but his face was still obscured by the glare. Sanzo wondered if Hakkai was positioning the chi ball that way on purpose, the way Hakkai sometimes glinted light off his glasses to hide his eyes. It didn’t matter. Sanzo could sense Hakkai’s chi drain as well. So the talisman had been activated, after all.



Sanzo sighed and used the dog to push himself to his feet. He swatted at Goku’s hovering hands.



“We’re staying here tonight,” he announced.



Three pairs of eyes moved past him to the decrepit temple.











Occasionally, Gojyo’s gambling skills pulled through and he was able to bluff Hakkai for a brief period of time. Gojyo had obviously been bluffing in the Red Kimono garden. Barely ten minutes after they had been forced to start walking due to the narrowing of the road, Gojyo began falling behind. Hakkai generated a chi ball when they entered the darker shadows of the woods, not because he and Goku needed it, but to provide a beacon for the lagging Gojyo. When they reached a little wood shrine at a fork in the road, Hakkai glanced back over his shoulder. Gojyo flapped his hand for them to go on ahead.



Frowning, Hakkai turned right, following the sign that pointed to the temple. Goku was already ahead of him, led onward by his link to Sanzo. Hakkai sincerely hoped Goku’s instincts were correct, and the dead monk was not Sanzo. The devastation this town had suffered at the onset of the Minus Wave would appear as child’s play compared to the unrestrained vengeance of the Seiten Taisei.



Hakkai knew neither Gojyo nor himself currently possessed the strength to stop Goku if his diadem broke. If Sanzo were truly dead, then nothing short of Heavenly intervention would save this town, and the ikkou, from complete destruction.



“Sanzo!”



Hakkai jumped as Goku shouted and broke into a run. Following a bend in the path, the forest gave way to a clearing. In the middle of the clearing was a modest temple, the front courtyard bracketed by a torri gate. His white robe glowing slightly in the moonlight, Sanzo was sitting by the gate, slumped over one of the stone guardian dogs. Hakkai’s breath caught for a moment, then released in a relieved sigh when Sanzo sat up and turned to face their direction.



“Damn.”



The whispered expletive was followed by the sound of breaking underbrush. Alarmed, Hakkai increased the radius of the chi ball and looked back over his shoulder. Gojyo stumbled into sight on the path and gave Hakkai a sheepish grin.



“Lost my footing,” Gojyo explained.



Hakkai raised an eyebrow.



“Seriously, man, I’m okay.” Gojyo walked over to Hakkai, his steps placed with exaggerated care.



“That is obviously not true, Gojyo,” Hakkai chided.



“Sanzo’s hurt!” Goku’s concerned voice rang out in the still night.



Hakkai straightened, then glanced over at Gojyo.



“Go on. Take care of the monkey’s monk,” Gojyo said.



With a nod, Hakkai broke into a run.



Hakkai was relieved that Sanzo’s injuries appeared to be limited to first- and second-degree burns on his hands, face and neck. It almost looked like someone had thrown a pot of boiling water at him. He didn’t question Sanzo’s refusal to be healed. The situation was different from when he had healed Sanzo’s headache earlier in Jipu; they were not alone.



Hakkai tensed when Gojyo arrived, slouching against the far gate post. The last time Sanzo and Gojyo had been together, they had fought, and there was a chance the pair would pick up where they had left off at the Red Kimono. After a charged moment, Sanzo broke the tension by asking Gojyo for a light. Hakkai wasn’t exactly sure why Sanzo had chosen to offer the olive branch, but Hakkai was grateful. He would have to remember to thank Sanzo later. Hakkai was just about to call on Hakuryu to transform so he could return to the end of the road and collect their things to make camp, when Sanzo stood.



“We’re staying here tonight,” he announced.



Skeptical, Hakkai peered past Sanzo at the temple, which was so run-down it appeared abandoned.



“I hope they’ve got food,” Goku said. “I’m starving!”





The monks did have food, although it turned out to be simple rice, much to Goku’s disappointment. Sequestered in the room given to Sanzo, the ikkou ate a meal together for the first time in several days. The room was barely big enough for two pallets to be laid down side-by-side, the only furniture a low table beneath a small window and a floor lantern. Sanzo sat on one pallet, leaning his back against the wall, Goku next to him, and Gojyo sat on the other pallet, lying along the opposite wall. Hakkai chose a neutral spot on the floor between them.



“Sanzo,” Hakkai cleared his throat. “Do I need to plan a trip into town for supplies?”



Sanzo nodded. “We’ll be here a few days. I need to write to the closest temple for a new head priest to be sent here.”



“Aw, man.” Goku noisily scraped the bottom of his bowl with his chopsticks.



Silently, Sanzo leaned over and pushed some of the rice out of his bowl into Goku’s.



“Hey, thanks, Sanzo!” Goku beamed at him.



Hakkai frowned slightly to himself. Sanzo’s habit of eating sparingly always bothered him, and this was a meager meal to begin with. Setting his emptied bowl on the ground by his bare foot, Sanzo leaned his head back against the wall and looked out the dark window. In the glow of the lantern, Hakkai could more clearly see the damage sustained in the confrontation with the fire oni. Sanzo’s eyes were red and puffy and angry red blotches stained the white skin of his face and neck. There were shiny blisters on his hands and forearms, probably from shielding his face.



Sanzo had succinctly described what had happened, and Hakkai knew the injuries were from being splattered with boiling water from the hot spring. The swelling in his eyes appeared more like an allergic reaction - possibly to strong minerals and metals in the spring.



A soft clatter drew Hakkai’s attention away from visually triaging Sanzo. Goku had fallen asleep, empty bowl and chopsticks rolling out of his hand onto the tatami mat covering the floor. Leaning forward, Hakkai plucked a few rice grains from Goku’s chin and put them in the bowl before setting the bowl and chopsticks on the low table.



“Gojyo, are you fin-” Hakkai stopped mid-sentence as he twisted around.



Gojyo had fallen asleep as well, head hanging forward so his long, red hair, still glossy with oil, curtained his face. His long fingers cradled the bowl in his lap. Hakkai lifted Gojyo’s bowl and set it inside Goku’s. Gojyo’s fingers twitched in the empty space as if still grasping for what had been taken.



“Gojyo,” Hakkai said softly.



“Mmm?” Gojyo didn’t move.



“It’s time to go to bed.” Hakkai gently nudged at Gojyo to get him to lie down.



“Mkay,” Gojyo mumbled.



He slid bonelessly down the wall onto his back, and Hakkai covered him with a blanket. Unable to resist, Hakkai brushed the glossy, red hair back from his sleeping face. Gojyo turned into the light touch, nuzzling his cheek against Hakkai’s palm. The tickle of Gojyo’s warm breath on his wrist sent goosebumps up Hakkai’s arm, and he quickly withdrew his hand.



When Hakkai turned back around, Sanzo was straightening from easing Goku onto his side on the pallet. Frowning, Sanzo fished in his sleeves and retrieved his cigarettes.



“He was snoring too loudly,” Sanzo said defensively.



“Of course,” Hakkai murmured in agreement.



He watched Sanzo light up, then wince as the smoke went into his eyes.



“Shall I tend your injuries now?” Hakkai asked. It felt like a huge step backwards, asking permission to heal this far into the journey.



“Che.” Sanzo rested the hand holding his cigarette on his raised knee and faced the window.



Scooting closer, Hakkai gingerly took Sanzo’s free hand, pushing up his sleeve to examine the reddened skin. Careful not to touch the blisters, he spread his fingers and pooled healing chi under his palm, in the space between them. Hakkai pushed the chi down and out, wrapping around Sanzo’s arm. As the redness faded, Sanzo didn’t exactly sigh in relief, but there was an easing in his frame that let Hakkai know some of the pain had been alleviated.



Rising up onto his knees, Hakkai cupped Sanzo’s face without touching it, letting the chi wash away the burns. Sanzo’s eyes fluttered, and his narrow shoulders dropped slightly as more discomfort drained away. Hakkai frowned. Up close, Sanzo’s eyes looked even worse, and eyes were tricky. The swelling in the conjunctiva, the delicate membranes lining the lids, could be reduced, some of the pain firing along the optic nerves blocked, but Hakkai was unable to heal the eyeball itself.



Healing chi required a higher degree of deliberate manipulation than the visceral fighting chi that materialized almost without conscious thought. Battle-sustained injuries were the easiest to heal; even internal damage that used to require referencing the medical textbooks Hakkai toted around had become far less challenging. Illnesses could not be healed, but symptoms could be eased. Since most people only saw the symptoms and not the disease, they were often baffled and angry when Hakkai intervened to help suffering, and a seemingly “cured” person died anyway.



The backlash in one epidemic-ridden town had been great enough that Sanzo had forbidden Hakkai from using chi to heal sickness outside the ikkou.



“If you insist on meddling,” Sanzo had said. “Use conventional methods and teach the idiots how to do it themselves so we can get the hell out. Next time I’ll leave your ass behind.”



Hakkai had quietly complied, although it had been a bitter lesson.



“Is that better?” Hakkai murmured, lowering his hands from Sanzo’s eyes.



“Hn.” Sanzo blinked rapidly as if to clear his vision.



“It’s still blurry,” Hakkai interpreted.



“I can see well enough.” Sanzo waved his hand with the cigarette, weaving a wall of smoke between them.



Hakkai sat back on his heels and folded his hands in his lap. It was time. The crisis was over.



“Sanzo,” Hakkai began, then hesitated, searching carefully for the words that would cause the least damage.



“You’ve made it clear you don’t wish to discuss it, but I must tell you something.”



The purple eyes narrowed and Sanzo’s mouth flattened. Taking a deep breath, Hakkai forged ahead.



“I was selfish, and everyone has suffered as a result.” Hakkai’s fingers squeezed each other until the knuckles were white. “To choose one is to reject the other, and I, quite simply, cannot do that. You are both too important to me. Therefore, I have decided to abstain from a... physical relationship.”



A flash of something - pain? - touched Sanzo’s eyes, then he turned back to the window.



“Whatever,” Sanzo said gruffly, taking a short, hard drag on his cigarette. “Suit yourself.”



Hakkai opened his mouth to speak, but Sanzo abruptly leaned forward and blew out the lantern, filling the room with darkness.




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