?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Title: Down from the Red Hills
Author: opalmatrix
Warnings: (for all parts, taken as a whole) violence, lots of blood, torture, swearing, explicit m/m sex, dubcon
Rating: Part 1 - R (violence etc. only) ; Parts 2 & 3 - NC-17; Part 4 - PG-13 (swearing, adult concepts)
Pairing(s): Hakkai/Gojyo
Spoilers: nothing much
Words: ~33,500
Notes: This started out as a simple hurt/comfort "bedtime story" for myself. Then smillaraaq "adopted" the idea (my notion to help me write longer fics), and I meant to finish it in time for her birthday at the end of August. More than two months later, it's grown into a blessed novelette. Thanks very much to smilla for her support, encouragement, and input along the way, and to her and sanada for beta! Thanks also to vom_marlowe and her Saiyuki Kink Meme and its participants, and to louiselux and emungere and all the good folk at saiyuki_time. All of you have really helped me feel brave enough to write something this huge.
New!   Now with illustrations by danny_sama in parts 2, 3, and 4!
Summary: When a limiter-less Hakkai chases some fleeing youkai into the hills and doesn't return, Gojyo goes after him. The journey back is much longer than he ever expected.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

V.    

Waking with the taste of sick in his mouth was old territory for Gojyo. And there was a smell of broth, and rice cooking, and tea. Gods in heaven, that must've been some crazy shit I was drinking ... Hakkai's going to kill me. He rubbed his crusted eyes, frowning at the stiffness in his left arm, and the way his right shoulder twinged and ached. His eyelids fluttered open.

Rock walls and ceiling, and not the old, stained plaster of their tiny house near Chang'an; evening light and lamplight, not daylight. And Hakkai ... was tending a fire over on the other side of the cavern, stirring things in pots. He'd stripped off his unfamiliar shirt; the light of a small safety lantern shone mellowly on his back and shoulders, showing up the vines on his skin so that it looked like painted porcelain. He'd set himself up a whole little kitchen in the time Gojyo was out, and put together another grass-and-blanket bed several feet further along the wall. Crap. We're ... here. How long did I sleep?

The broth smelled like ... some kind of meat.

Gojyo fought down the sickness again and this time managed to grab the water bottle. He was far too relieved about that to notice, at first, that he was able to prop himself on the elbow of his bad arm – even though it hurt – and hold the bottle in his other hand and drink, without assistance.

Hakkai looked around at the sound of his gulping, then moved the pots off the flame a little and came over to crouch at Gojyo's side as he set the bottle down, gasping a little. "Gojyo," he said, gently, and reached out his clawed hand to feel his friend's forehead. "When did you become nauseated?"

To his dismay, Gojyo wanted to rub his cheek against Hakkai's hand, to reach out and pull him close, to let the feel of him take away all the rotten things that had happened in the past 24 hours. This is so fucked up – I should be totally grossed out by him right now.

He pulled away from Hakkai a little, clenching his hands into fists. "Y-you ate that g-guy, didn't you?"

Hakkai went very still. Only his good eye moved, studying Gojyo's face. After a moment, he shifted his hand down, touched the corner of Gojyo's mouth with the tip of a claw, then sat back on his haunches and sighed. "That's why you were sick ... . not all of him, obviously. His heart, and part of one leg."

"Dammit, Hakkai! How can you just say that like that? You ... shit, you crazy bastard, you just ate – just ate part of a man!"

"A man? With what he was going to do with you? Should I consider him a man? I heard him, Gojyo! I'd found the place where you'd slept. The ground nearby was soaked with blood – your blood. I could smell it hundreds of yards away. And it was so easy to track – you were bleeding all the way to their campsite. Your blood, on the ground – spilled on the sand, the rocks. And I saw as they seized you, and hit you on the head to stun you like a calf meant for slaughter, and carried you up to the rock. And I heard that cruel voice telling you how he meant to kill you. He was enjoying your pain and despair. He was a beast, Gojyo – worse than an animal. It was so terribly ironic that he called me a monster. He owed me. His heart was the least he could give me, Gojyo, to pay for what he did to you. I would have torn it out while he still lived, and eaten it before his eyes, if I had had the time."

He'd never, ever heard Hakkai talk with that much passion. "But ... but –"

"No 'buts,' Gojyo." Hakkai said, firmly. He grabbed Gojyo's hand and pressed it to his cheek, his mouth. "He owed you even more, so much more," he murmured against Gojyo's skin. "If I thought you would have eaten it, I'd have brought his heart back, to share it with you. You should have had his blood to drink."

Oh hell, this isn't happening. I didn't just have my best friend offer to share some bastard's bloody heart with me ... .

Now Hakkai was crouching over him, rubbing his face against Gojyo's, nuzzling into his neck. At last he lay down, his ear against Gojyo's chest, over his heart and the scar that had distracted Guantan, his arms wrapped gently around his lover. Gojyo closed his eyes, and then felt strange, prickly little pressures settling on his arms and neck. "What –?"

He raised his head to look. Little vines were crawling off Hakkai and onto him, holding them together. They were tiny, and warm like Hakkai. Once they stopped moving, he hardly felt them at all. "I hope you don't mind," murmured Hakkai. "I thought you would die before I could get to you. I was so frightened of that, Gojyo."

Gopjyo sighed and let his head fall back. His vision was blurring, but he didn't seem to be passing out again. He felt something wet drip across his temple, into his hair. Hakkai squirmed a little farther up and kissed him there, the tip of his tongue stroking lightly. "Why are you crying?"

He hadn't even realized that he was. "Crap. Hakkai, I should be trying to get the hell away from you – you ate somebody. But I'm only just ... all I want to do is curl up and sleep with you and forget all the shit that's gone down."

"Gojyo ... maybe it's just because you're not human either, not really. No one you really care about is."

"Except Sanzo."

Hakkai lay still for a moment and then shuddered. "Yes," he said, in a very quiet voice. "Except for him."

He sounded so lost that it cut right through Gojyo's own misery. He managed to move his arms enough to wrap them around Hakkai, so that they were just clinging together. Gojyo started to drift off to sleep, but Hakkai was increasingly twitchy and restless. At last he let go and pulled away to sit back on his heels, his vine-wreathed face a calm mask. "You should eat now, Gojyo."

Gojyo's stomach, reminded that there was food available, growled. Shut up, he thought at it, remembering where this whole conversation had started. "What's in the soup, Hakkai?" It was an accusation.

"I would not do that to you, Gojyo. It's the same dried mutton you had before." All the vines let go and ran back into Hakkai's skin. He stood up, smoothly. "You want me, but you don't trust me."

Damn.

Dinner was a silent meal. Hakkai helped Gojyo sit up with a minimum of fuss and served him rice, the soup, and tea. He rinsed the bowls, spoon, and chopsticks with a trickle of water, wiping them dry on a rag that had been part of Gojyo's shirt, then banked the fire and put out the lantern. It was very dark by that point, and Gojyo heard rather than saw him settle down on the other pallet.

"Hakkai?"

Silence.

"Thanks for dinner ... and for savin' my ass."

The silence stretched out again, Finally, Hakkai sighed. "Well. I have a use for it, after all. Your ass, I mean. And I must try to find you something more nutritious to eat. I can't see you recovering quickly on a diet of rice and dried meat soup."

The silence fell again, but it was warmer and not as empty as before. Gojyo lay back down and listened to Hakkai's breathing. He wished he could feel the warmth of his friend's body as well, but he still quickly dropped into a deep sleep.

VI.    

Gojyo awoke to the feel of his hair being gently combed. He opened his eyes and discovered Hakkai sitting cross-legged at his head, gently teasing at Gojyo's hair with his claws. "I don't think either of us was quite himself yesterday. I can't imagine how I let you go to sleep with your hair like this – it's dried all in knots."

Gojyo reflected that Hakkai still wasn't quite himself, but luckily his mouth filled up with a yawn and he didn't say it. He rolled over and sat up to let Hakkai get at the tangles on the back of his head. His shoulder and thigh pulled and twinged, but –

"Whoa – look at this! I can sit up by myself!"

Hakkai wrapped his arms around him from behind, gently, and kissed him firmly on the mouth when he turned his head. "Fortunately for us both, you have a very strong constitution." He continued picking carefully at the tangles. Gojyo slowly drew his legs up to sit cross-legged himself. He could feel Hakkai's shins against the back of his hips, and the contact and the attention made him feel comfortable and relaxed. Yesterday's events teased at his memory like the remains of a nightmare, but he ignored them as hard as he could. Hakkai sounded just like he always did. He was so damn smart. Somehow he'd make things come out OK.

"I need to go out hunting," murmured Hakkai to the back of his neck, when the claws began to run smoothly through Gojyo's hair.

Shit. "Hunting for what?"

Hakkai rested his hands lightly on Gojyo's shoulders. "A goat, probably. I killed and ate part of a young one that first evening, but I wasn't functioning very well at that point, and I didn't think about saving or preserving any of it. I imagine some jackal had a feast ... ."

Gojyo turned around to to look at him. Both eyes were unfocused and pointed somewhere way past Gojyo's head. "So what happened to you, anyway?"

Hakkai blinked and then gave him a pasted-on smile. "The Minus Wave, I think."

"You're kidding."

"Not at all." He squeezed Gojyo's shoulders gently and stood up. "Can you move about the place? Even by crawling? I don't want you to try to stand yet. I'll heal you further after I come back, and we've both eaten."

No one could ever make Hakkai talk when he didn't want to, except maybe Sanzo. Resignedly, Gojyo rocked forward onto his hands and knees and crept toward the fireplace. It worked pretty well, but he felt really stupid doing it. It was almost a relief to look back and see Hakkai watching his ass intently, like a lover and not like a doctor. He winked. Hakkai smiled – a real one, this time. "I'm glad to see you're feeling so much better. Please drink as much broth and water as you can while I'm gone. There's some rice in the covered pot on the left."

He grabbed the little backpack, rolled the boulder across the entrance to the cavern, and slipped out before Gojyo had a chance to say anything else. Gojyo sighed and got himself breakfast. He had wanted to try standing up, but he was feeling a bit shaky just after crawling a dozen feet across that part of the cave.

Hakkai had arranged everything they now owned neatly against the wall a few feet from his makeshift kitchen. Some more clothes, including the stuff Hakkai had salvaged and washed yesterday, a box that was actually a first aid kit, a pack of cards, a small coil of rope, a bottle of liquor, Hakkai's watch, Gojyo's lighter, four packs of cigarettes (one of which, battered and blood-stained, was his own), and a soft leather pouch. The little bag held some dice, a handful of silver coins – and Hakkai's limiters. He must've taken them out of my pocket when he checked me over the first time.

Why didn't he take his limiters with him?

The smell of the tobacco was pulling at him. He wondered whether he was supposed to be smoking. But Hakkai hadn't said not to, and it would have been easy enough to hide the cigarettes someplace where Gojyo couldn't find them. He tucked the cards, lighter, and one pack of cigarettes into the pockets of his hand-me-down trousers and crawled over to a more-or-less flat spot near the entrance, where the light was better.

He sat there for what felt like a couple of hours, playing endless hands of poker and blackjack against himself, using pebbles for chips because there weren't enough coins to work well. As time went on, he found it harder and harder to concentrate on the game, and he had smoked half the remaining cigarettes in the packet.

I'd better stop smoking these. Who knows when I'll get more?

Why did I think that?

Because Hakkai wasn't talking about their companions or about getting back to them. Because Hakkai seemed to be setting up housekeeping here for the long term. Because Hakkai had eaten part of a human being yesterday and didn't seem to think anything was wrong with that.

Gojyo dropped the meaningless cards onto the ground and got slowly to his feet. He felt a little woozy, but he didn't black out. He braced his back against the boulder and pushed as hard as he could with his legs. Hot pangs shot through the half-healed bullet wounds, and his vision went gray and weird and started slipping away. And the boulder didn't move.

He let himself drop to the ground and lay there, panting a little with pain and effort. Then he gathered himself up and crawled over to the kitchen and had some more broth and water, like Hakkai had told him to. And then he lay back down on his pallet to stare at the rocky ceiling until Hakkai came back.

At last he heard footsteps outside. "Gojyo! Are you out of the way of our door?"

Hakkai sounded happy – really happy. "Um ... yeah. I'm lying down."

A pause; then –"Are you all right?" Now he sounded anxious. Gojyo felt bad for worrying him. The boulder shifted and rolled, and Hakkai came through. He smelled of the outdoors – and blood. There was a furry, slightly bloody bundle dangling from one hand, and green leaves were erupting out of the pack on his back. He went over to drop everything in front of the hearth, his eyes on Gojyo.

"Yeah. I just ... tired myself out. I ... . Hell. I tried to move that damn rock."

Hakkai came over and squatted down next to him. He brushed Gojyo's hair back from his face, the claws barely touching his skin. "Why did you do that?"

Because I wondered if I should start planning my escape.

But that wasn't really true. It was more like he just needed to know whether it was even possible.

"I'm goin' a little bugfuck, trapped in here," he lied. And felt his ears burning.

"Well, I hope you just proved to yourself how impossible it would be for you to survive out there right now, if I weren't around." Hakkai ran his hands lightly over the injured areas, his eyes unfocused as he use his chi to see into the wounds. "It doesn't look like you did yourself any serious harm. Hmm. I'm going to have to insist that you eat what I've planned for your lunch. I know you don't like liver, but it will help your body build your blood supply back up."

Gojyo grimaced reflexively. He was both relieved and oddly disappointed that Hakkai didn't seem to have noticed he was lying.

Hakkai got busy with his cooking. It smelled pretty tasty – like real food. Gojyo curled onto his good side and watched. Hakkai seemed to have found a lot of things to eat, which was a little surprising: everything had looked like rocks and sand and weeds to Gojyo. When Hakkai called him to come eat, he got to his feet slowly and defiantly under his friend's disapproving gaze and walked across to sit down like a man, ignoring the pain in his thigh. Lunch was liver with wild onions and garlic (said Hakkai), and greens, and rice. Gojyo was hungry enough to eat all of it, which seemed to put him in Hakkai's good graces once again.

"How'd you find all this stuff? It's the next thing to a desert out there."

"Oh, it's really not that barren. You just need to know where to look. But I do wish I had my botanical guidebook. And we're going to use up what's nearby pretty quickly."

There was a little silence. "No books," said Gojyo, slowly.

"No books," agreed Hakkai, smiling slightly. "No bars. No pretty young ladies to make eyes at you."

"Nope. And no wineshops with plum brandy and shoju. And no spice merchants."

The amused light died out of Hakkai's eyes and he looked down at the empty bowls. "And no market from which to buy an injured friend wholesome food on a predictable basis." He sighed. "I'm going to get these washed properly this time. When I come back, I should be able to make you much more comfortable."

When Hakkai went out to wash the crockery, Gojyo slipped out after him and sat down on a rock near the entrance. He hadn't really taken in their surroundings the day before. They were close enough to the stream to hear the water once he was outside, and perhaps because of that, there were lots of little birds hopping around and chirping in the scrawny bushes that grew out of the weathered red stone. The sky overhead was a brilliant blue, and the air was fresh and smelled like sweet dried grass.

It's still the butt-end of Nowhere.

Hakkai was pissed off when he got back with the dishes and saw Gojyo outside. "What if I'd been another band of those hunters, or some feral youkai? Think, Gojyo! Can you even use your weapon right now?"

That was an interesting question. He stood up carefully. Then he summoned the shakujou and looked at Hakkai smugly. Hakkai set the bowls down between some rocks, and gave him a deadly serious look back. "Try to hit me with it."

"Um, Hakkai ... ."

"I'm quite serious, Gojyo, and I'm not worried at all."

Gojyo wound up and let fly. Hakkai evaded the weak blow easily, and Gojyo staggered with sudden dizziness and sat down abruptly on some unnecessarily hard and pointy rocks. The weapon clattered to the ground and then disappeared again. "Shit!"

Hakkai sighed and went to help him up. "Now I guess I have to examine your rear end as well."

"Yeah, I bet you will, you pervert," muttered Gojyo, but his heart wasn't in it. His arms had felt like an old man's, the shoulder wound had felt like a small knife was going through it, and one little half turn had put him on the ground. He limped back into the cavern, followed by Hakkai with the dishes, and lay down on his pallet without waiting for Hakkai to tell him to do it.

Hakkai spent another few minutes puttering around with his pots and the rest of the goat and some other stuff. Gojyo mostly stared at the ceiling – or whatever you called what was over top of you in a cave. OK. Yesterday at this time, I was flat out unconscious, and he was eating that sadistic fuck's insides bloody raw. Today I can get up and walk and wipe my own ass, and he's cooking and eating real food and worrying about washing the dishes. Things are getting better. This is not so bad.

But the thought of how far he still was from his usual strength was terrifying.

He turned his head to look as Hakkai came over quietly and sat down beside him. "Yeah, you tried to warn me."

"I'm sorry, Gojyo. You simply have to be patient. And stay inside for now. The fresh air would probably be better for you, but if something should attack, you can't fight and you can't run."

Gojyo reached up and pulled Hakkai down next to him. Hakkai let him – Gojyo knew damn well he could have resisted. He was warm and solid and reassuring, and if Gojyo closed his eyes, nothing was different from how it had always been, really. "I hate this, Hakkai. And we need to get back. They're waiting for us."

"You can't go anywhere right now, Gojyo." Hakkai propped himself up on one elbow and traced the outline of Gojyo's face with the tip of one claw, then dropped his hand gently to Gojyo's hip. "Do you feel like anything serious happened here when you fell?"

"Just my pride busted up. I mean, my ass feels bruised, but that's all." He moved a little under Hakkai's hand. It felt good to be touched, even with bruises there. Hakkai pulled back gently and sat up again.

"Lay back, please – completely flat. I need to examine all the injuries again and heal up anything that I couldn't finish yesterday."

Gojyo sighed softly but did as he was told. Hakkai shifted to a kneeling posture, concentrated for a few seconds and then moved his clawed hands across Gojyo's scalp, his injured shoulder, down over his torso to his thigh, and then rested lightly on his hips for a moment, frowning and moving his lips from time to time as though talking to himself. At last he sighed. "Yes, this is all quite repairable. You did tear that shoulder wound a bit just recently. It might have been when I dared you to strike at me; that was terribly irresponsible of me ... ."

"Tch. Forget all that. You're gonna fix it all, so why worry?"

Hakkai gazed at him for a moment, and his frown of worry and concentration eased, and was replaced by a sweet smile. "Hold still for me, then." Again he moved his hands over the injured places, but more slowly. The faint glow and hum of his chi in use was a familiar sound to Gojyo, and equally familiar was the faint prickle in his flesh, followed by gentle warmth, as the injuries were soothed away. On his bruised butt, the injuries were so minor that there was nothing but warmth, and he pulled up his knees to encourage Hakkai to move his hands around onto his ass proper. "You can do that some more, ya know," he said, as Hakkai pulled back his hands and looked at him quizzically.

"I take it that means you're feeling better?" asked Hakkai, primly. Gojyo wanted to laugh, partially because the prissy expression on Hakkai's face was terribly funny for a guy with vines all over and two hands full of razor-sharp claws, and partially because hell yes, he felt a lot better. It was funny how he hadn't realized how much the last bits of pain from the bullet wounds had been bothering him until it stopped. "Yeah," he said, catching Hakkai's eye and making his voice as smoldering as he could. "C'mere, gorgeous."

Hakkai got the strangest look on his face. Gojyo had thought he was getting better at reading past the vines, but maybe not. "Gojyo ... I'm not sure ... ."

"Not sure of what?"

Gojyo rolled on his side and groped one hand up Hakkai's thigh. Before he could get it to his goal, Hakkai dropped his hand on top, pinning him.

"Gojyo –" Hakkai flexed the claws on his other hand. "I don't want to hurt you ... ."

The obvious answer to that was put your damn limiters back on! But something screwy was going on with Hakkai and the limiters. It wasn't like he didn't know where they were, and it made no sense that he hadn't been putting them on inside the cave, even if he felt it was safer to be a full youkai outside.

"Hakkai, look. Have you been gouging yourself when you take a piss? Did you cut me at all that whole time you were carrying me, even when I shifted around? You know how to handle the damn claws, without even trying! I trust you, Hakkai!"

Hakkai still had Gojyo's hand pinned, but he was thinking about it. His breathing was a little faster, the slit pupil of his good eye was open almost all the way, and this close up, even Gojyo's more limited nose could smell the beginnings of his arousal. "Gojyo, you may trust me, but I don't know whether to trust myself. It's not just the claws – I'm a lot stronger now. You have no idea how far gone you were when I finally got to you, and I could hurt you as badly as he did."

"Well, so maybe not fucking – this time. What about a little 69?" Gojyo curled up so that his knees were up against Hakkai's folded legs. "C'mon, I know you're getting hard. I've been feeling like shit, and I wanna feel good again. I wanna see you naked again, Hakkai, now that I can appreciate it. I wanna taste those vines on your dick."

"Gojyo ... ! For heaven's sake –" Hakkai picked up the hand he'd been pinning and slid Gojyo's fingers into his mouth. Gojyo hummed appreciatively, then stopped abruptly as his fingertips encountered the fangs. Damn, they're sharp ... .

Hakkai gently removed Gojyo's hand from his mouth and placed it firmly onto the pallet in front of Gojyo's chest. "You see. I don't want to even think of what might happen." He was trembling – with desire, not fear, thought Gojyo. Or maybe it was a little of both.

Shit ... .

"Dammit, Hakkai, no way in hell am I giving up sex with you just because you don't wanna put those limiters back on! Look, you can just lie back and behave yourself, and I'll blow you! And then you can hold me an' I'll snuggle up and jerk off – it's still better than nothing. Fuck, I'm in good enough shape to give a blowjob, Hakkai! And – and didn't you once tell me, cum is full of all kinds of good-for-you shit? Here you're worrying about getting me the right kinda food to eat –"

Hakkai looked so startled that Gojyo stopped dead. Then he relaxed and started laughing, a full-out, delicious laugh. "Oh, Gojyo ... !"

Gojyo was afraid to say anything, but he snuck his hand back onto Hakkai's knee. Hakkai covered it with his again, clutching it as he doubled up with laughter. "I ... I can't believe you said that," he finally managed to say. His eyes were damp, but they looked happy. "I've been trying to get you to learn the importance of good nutrition for years now – and that's what you remember!"

He lay down full length next to Gojyo and carefully wrapped his arms around him. Gojyo returned the embrace and kissed him, gently and then harder, stroking the tip of his tongue across the crevice where Hakkai's lips came together. Hakkai opened for him, letting him explore the sharp teeth, the tongue felt that longer and more pointed than before. Gojyo worked his thigh between Hakkai's and pressed against him, rocking a little, feeling his hardness. Hakkai broke the kiss and nuzzled his ear: "All right, You win. You're in charge, Gojyo ... ." His voice was hot and breathless.

Gojyo pushed him down onto the blanket and started unbuttoning his shirt. "Gotta get this pug-ugly thing off you ... ." He bent his head and started kissing and licking the vine-covered skin as it was revealed. As he got down to the rough island of scar tissue, the little vines began to lift and stroke his neck and face, grabbing at his shirt buttons. He brushed his lips along one of them, and then took it gently in his mouth, stroking the little leaves with the tip of his tongue. They tasted a little salty, faintly musky, like Hakkai. Hakkai let out a long, shaky breath, and Gojyo released the tendril gently.

"Good?"

Hakkai slipped one hand between his legs, fingers crooked and claws curled away into a loose fist, and rubbed the bulge in Gojyo's pants with the back of his knuckles. "More than good."

Gojyo lowered his head again, licking down the trails of the vines, panting a little. He pulled the shirt-tails out of the ill-fitting pants, and then the button and zipper of Hakkai's pants were right in front of him, Hakkai's erection pulling the fabric so tight on each side, even though the pants were otherwise too big. He slipped the fastenings open one-handed and then paused for a second as he was confronted with an unfamiliar pair of boxers in a gaudy red and blue paisley.

"Don't laugh," said Hakkai, although he sounded as though he was trying not to do that himself. "It was either you or me, and you were injured ... ."

"Heh. True friendship ... they gotta go, they're disgusting." He tugged at the waistband, getting it up and over Hakkai's dick, and – there. "Oh wow," he breathed. As he'd guessed, the vines were larger now, and seemed to be standing out a little, like veins – deep green veins, against the flushed, dusky plum-rose flesh. He tugged impatiently at the cloth. Hakkai shifted so that the trousers and boxers could slide off together.

Gojyo bent to trace the salty, tender vines from the middle of Hakkai's shaft down the the root, where they disappeared into the darkness of his pubic hair, and then back up again toward the moist tip. Hakkai trembled. "Gojyo ... not too much teasing ... I don't know whether I can ... ."

"It's OK," Gojyo murmured against his hot skin, but he opened his mouth anyway and swallowed Hakkai down.

Hakkai sighed, and for a moment Gojyo felt claws pricking against his scalp. "Sorry," whispered Hakkai. When he pulled his hand away, Gojyo started to move, pulling back, and then taking him deep again. After a moment, Hakkai started to move as well – shallow, short little thrusts at first. Then he growled, deep in his throat. tangled his fingers in Gojyo's hair, and pushed in deeply. Claws bit in again; Gojyo nearly gagged and started to panic. Then he got hold of himself and let Hakkai feel his teeth – once, twice. Hakkai froze, released him, and then slowly settled back onto the pallet again. Gojyo could hear his harsh breathing, and the next time Gojyo pulled back, Hakkai gasped, moaned, and came.

Gojyo swallowed, and then licked and kissed him gently until he was soft again. Clawed hands reached down and tugged gently. "Gojyo ... ."

He let Hakkai pull him up into an embrace. "I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to –"

"Nothing happened – just be quiet." said Gojyo, fiercely, and stopped him from babbling out any more silly apologies by kissing him, hard, licking into his open mouth, pressing his own hard length against Hakkai's hip. Hakkai rolled gently, reversing their positions so that Gojyo was on his back, then started to suck and lick his way down across Gojyo's cheek and jaw, onto his neck. "These clothes –" he whispered, tugging at Gojyo's shirt; "Take them off, please. We don't have many to spare, and I don't know if I can handle buttons right now."

"Shit, then you need to get off me for a minute –"

Hakkai rolled aside and leaned on one elbow to watch Gojyo strip down, the youkai eye and the human-looking fake eye watching him with equal attention. Gojyo wasn't so far gone as to try standing up, but he got up on his knees and gave Hakkai a rake's grin as he unbuttoned his shirt, pulled it off, and tossed it aside. Hakkai looked fantastic, sated but far from exhausted, skin gleaming with sweat, tendrils of his longer hair clinging to his face, and his dick still damp from his lover's mouth. Gojyo unbuttoned and unzipped his pants, and got them halfway down his thighs along with his shorts before Hakkai pounced on him, growling softly, licking hard down his neck, his chest, pausing to grasp a nipple gingerly with those sharp, sharp teeth. After the first stunned seconds, some part of Gojyo's mind realized what care Hakkai was taking in all this, and he relaxed, reaching out to run his hands along Hakkai''s sides, down his legs – any part of him that he could reach. The little vines woke and rose up to meet his fingers, stroking against them, twining around them.

Hakkai's mouth licked its way down his belly and into his groin, skated past the root of his dick, and caressed his balls. Gojyo panted and kicked his pants and boxers off, then put his feet flat on the blanket and spread his thighs as much as he could. Hakkai got his shoulder under Gojyo's right leg and pushed it gently toward his chest, rubbing his palm along Gojyo's shaft, and then, with the tip of his tongue, started to tease Gojyo's hole.

Gojyo tensed. "Hakkai .. ?"

Hakkai kissed his pucker and then raised his head. "I thought you said trusted me. Don't worry – you did a very good job, Gojyo. It's all right: I feel quite calm, now."

Gojyo looked down past his own hard-on, which seemed unaffected by his sudden doubts. Hakkai looked perfectly in control of himself. The gleam in his eyes was only the one he'd seen hundreds of times before, just as Hakkai got a great idea that would leave him cursing and groaning with pleasure. Gojyo let his head drop back. "I do trust you, Hakkai."

"Good," said Hakkai. And thrust his long youkai tongue deep inside Gojyo the next second.

"Ahh, shit! That's ... .!" Fucking amazing is what he meant to say, but the feeling that washed up from his ass seemed to disconnect his brain from his mouth. And fucking seemed to be the right word, as Hakkai did it again, and again, and again ... . Gojyo's dick felt like it wanted to fucking explode. He was going to absolutely, completely, totally die of too much sensation. Then Hakkai's palm started to rub along Gojyo's shaft in time to the thrusting of his tongue, and Gojyo really did explode the very next minute, all over his own belly, and things got awfully dark.

A moment later, he felt Hakkai licking gently up over his balls and along his softening dick, then lapping up the come from his stomach and chest. When he got to Gojyo's face, he stopped suddenly, then peered into Gojyo's eyes. "Look at me," he demanded. "Are you feeling alright?"

"Shit," said Gojyo, very clearly. "Blacked out a couple seconds, I think."

Hakkai blinked and then went all Dr. Hakkai for a minute, very serious as he ran his hand through the air just over the side of Gojyo's head. Then he cupped Gojyo's face instead, leaning in to kiss his scarred cheek. "No harm done. You simply still don't have as much blood in your body as you should. Let me get you a water bottle –"

He did so, and then brought over a bowl of warm water and some clean rags to sponge them both off. "I must say, Gojyo-san, that the bathing facilities in this inn leave something to be desired."

"Yeah, we should write a nasty letter to the newspaper and tell 'em we ain't ever gonna stay here again. But at least we don't have to worry about disturbin' His Holiness and the monkey."

Hakkai's face closed up again. He sighed and rose to carry out the dirty water. Gojyo cursed himself for mentioning the others and wrecking the cozy mood. But it was bound to happen. He reached for his discarded boxers, which were ordinary, slightly dingy white cotton. As he put them on, he wondered which of Guantan's hunters had worn them, and which one had been the madman who liked the paisley ones.

Hakkai came back, silent and unreadable, as Gojyo was putting on his trousers, leaning on the wall in case of sneaky blackouts. He stopped, one leg in and one still out, to watch Hakkai dress. He's really amazing-looking like this. He was always so damn pretty, but now ... . Hakkai looked up as he was maneuvering his clawed fingers through his sleeves and, noticing Gojyo's gaze, smiled slightly. "You look as though you like what you see."

Gojyo felt himself flush. "I do."

Hakkai shrugged on the shirt and came over to put his arm around Gojyo, steadying him as he finished dressing. "You should take a nap now. I'll wake you for supper."

"You, too."

"Gojyo, no."

"Look, you healed me of all kinds of crap yesterday, you carried me for miles, you washed me, you ran all the way back ... ." And ate that bastard's heart – He sidestepped the thought as soon as he had it. "– and then here again, with a big pack on. And then today, you got up and hunted and made lunch and healed me some more, and then we screwed around. I don't know how you're still standing, Hakkai."

"Gojyo. I don't think I need ... "

"I'll sleep a lot better."

Hakkai looked completely fed up at this blatant manipulation, and then he just laughed. "You win – again. You're getting your way far too often today, Gojyo."

Score! Gojyo lowered himself cautiously down onto the rumpled, sex-smelling blankets, bending his head so that Hakkai wouldn't see his smug grin. Hakkai lay down next to him and rolled on his side so that Gojyo could spoon up behind him. Gojyo wrapped his arm around his lover, pressed his face against his shoulder, and fell asleep almost instantly.

VII.    

"Gojyo ... ."

This time, as he woke, he felt almost normal. Happy, even. Hakkai was calling his name, and the air smelled deliciously of roasting meat. He rolled over and sat up. Lamplight made the cave look smaller, and cozy. Gawd, Hakkai had even set the table, sort of – there were some wildflowers in a bottle between two place settings laid out on one flat section of the cave floor, and the food was arranged in bowls and pots beyond it. Gojyo felt a sudden pang of nostalgia for the kitchen table back home, where Hakkai could play happy housewife with the nice dishes he'd saved up to buy and a real vase. Even if it was hard to associate that with the rather scary person who was smiling at him now, all long pointed ears and vine-covered skin ... .

"You look well," said Hakkai. "How do you feel?"

"Hungry. Somethin' smells great."

"I'm glad. The grocery situation ... well. Fortunately there was some sugar among the supplies, and salt, and soy sauce, and five-spice powder. And liquor. I made a rather patched-together marinade before our nap. I guess it's rather pointless to ask you to wash?"

"You tell me how, and I'll do it."

That earned a sweet smile. "Come back here, where the roof slopes down – watch your head. Now, hold out your hands ... ." Hakkai poured a little water from one of the bottles over his hands. The water spilled over the rock below and flowed away toward the low rear portion of the cave. Gojyo dried his hands on a bit of rag and followed Hakkai back to the not-quite-table.

There was the spit-roasted goat, and tender vegetable shoots, and plenty of rice. And water to drink. "What about that liquor?"

"Not tonight, Gojyo. If you continue to improve – maybe tomorrow."

He tried to look sad and pitiful. "Yes, doctor."

"That's exactly what I wish to hear from my patient," said Hakkai, dryly. But his eyes were crinkling at the corners, and he looked so damn happy that Gojyo had to grin at him.

"Keep lookin' at me like that, and my head's gonna be as big as the Temple at Chang'an."

"It's just so good to see you looking like yourself, full of sass and angling for a drink ... . Gojyo, what happened to you yesterday? How did you fall into the hands of – those creatures?"

Gojyo pulled out his cigarettes and looked up questioningly. Hakkai sighed impatiently and nodded. Gojyo lit up, inhaled deeply, and blew out the smoke in a long, thin stream.

"Well ... . It started the day before. We patched Sanzo up, and waited for you awhile. His Holy Pissiness said we needed to find a better camp and wouldn't take 'no' for an answer, so we went down the road a few miles and found a stream, and an old farmhouse. But that night, I couldn't sleep for shit. I decided to go back for you. Goku must've been frettin' about Sanzo, 'cause he woke up when I got up to leave. But he said he wouldn't stop me. So I walked for the rest of the night, gettin' back to where we had the fight." He took another drag and continued. "I got there a couple hours after dawn. Someone had piled up all the bodies into a pyre, and done a half-assed job of burning 'em. Fuckin' creepy. I found where I'd last seen you, but by that time, my eyes were crossing like hell, so I found a spot to sack out. When I woke up, those clowns had me surrounded. When the bossman – Guantan – saw my eyes, he told 'em to take me. I killed a couple of 'em, but then he shot me with that fuckin' big pistol of his and knocked me down and out. When I came to, he was questioning me about the guys we fought – he thought I was with 'em. He said he an' his guys were youkai hunters. The way he said it, it was like they aren't the only ones in the area. And I got mouthy back at him, and he decided he needed to make an example outta me, and ... you know the rest."

Hakkai reached across and gently touched the corner of Gojyo's mouth. "... Yes."

It was funny how Hakkai could say stuff without saying it. "I don't really think it would've mattered what I said – he was gonna kill me anyway. He had problems with youkai. Th' minute he saw that I was a half-breed – that was it."

"I'm sure you're right. And I'm very glad that I killed him."

"Yeah. Me too." But you didn't have to eat his heart ... not to mention his leg.

He might as well have said it out loud: it was clear that Hakkai knew what he was thinking. His smile grew a little more fake, and somehow his eyes – hell, yeah, even the false one – seemed to glitter. "You don't sound terribly happy about it, Gojyo."

"Heh ... . The thing is ... sure, we're all better off without him. But some of those guys – I mean, he was good-lookin' and he could really talk. They were stupid. They thought he was somethin' special –"

"They didn't have to follow him. And they were going to help torture and kill you."

Gojyo shook his head, frustrated. Finally, he mimed throwing away a piece of rubbish. "– water under the bridge."

Hakkai stared at him for a moment, frowning, and then his expression softened. Gojyo felt a gentle touch on his bare foot and looked down. A slender vine tendril had uncoiled from Hakkai's ankle and made its way across the rocky floor to loop loosely around his. Gojyo swallowed, then reached down to pat it, awkwardly. "So – what happened to you?"

"Ah. Well ... ." Hakkai rubbed a hand over his face for a moment. He glanced at Gojyo, and then away. Finally, with his gaze on the dimly-lit rock walls behind his friend, he began again.

"You know I ran after those three. This group was clearly much more organized than those partisans of Kougaiji's that we have fought in the past, so of course the reasonable expectation was that they were going to try to get back to him and report their failure and our location. They had to be stopped. I ran up the hill ... . I – This is hard to explain."

He stopped again. Gojyo brushed the tips of his fingers over the little tendril on his ankle and waited.

"Gojyo ... you know I'm a person of words. I can't remember not knowing how to read, let alone speak. But whatever happened as I was pursuing those three – I had no words, no language. I don't even know whether I knew my own name. Suddenly, there was myself, and my prey. Not that I intended to devour them. But I knew they had to die. Once, they looked back ... do you remember, in the cellar, Gojyo? That time you were betrayed? Those criminals were afraid of me, but not like these three. These knew, somehow, that I was stronger, faster. They way they looked at me ... I remember a fierce joy, that they were so terrified. I ran the first one down almost immediately after that. The other two tried to be clever – they managed to elude me for a little while in a small canyon, and had some sort of ambush planned, I guess. It's so strange, I don't properly remember this. All I can see is pictures in my mind, and only now am I putting words to them."

Hakkai licked his lips, as though they were dry. Gojyo handed him his own water bottle. Hakkai drank for what seemed a long time and then continued.

"Well. Their plan didn't work, because I knew where they had left the trail – the tiniest broken twigs, the smallest bit of a footprint, I saw it all, instantly. It was as though I was born to do this. I came up behind them and killed one while he was still looking down from the rocks to where I should have been. The other fought, so I threw him down from the heights. He broke his back, and lay screaming. I went down after him, and killed him, because he was making too much noise and might attract other predators ... it was getting dark by then. I needed water, and food. I found a stream, by sound and scent and landscape, and when I had drunk my fill, I scented a flock of wild goats, and stalked and killed one in the twilight. It was all so easy, and so right, somehow. I ate, and then I searched along the stream for shelter. I found this cave, and curled up, and slept.

"The next morning, I woke, still with no real thought in my head. I needed to assess my new domain, I guess. I went out, and started quartering the territory around my den. After a short time, I scented ... prey, and competitors. Human beings ... Gojyo, I had no thought at all that these were people. It was the band of hunters who found you, of course. I had picked up the trail of their journey to where they found you, asleep. And then I scented your blood. I didn't think of your name at all, but I knew who you were ... I could see your face in my mind, and I knew I had to find you. And then I did. I heard their voices. At first, the words made no sense, but very quickly, with the sound of spoken language in my ears and your scent in the air I breathed, I began to come to myself. And I knew what I had to do ... that's the whole tale."

"What happened after you leaped at him? When I passed out again?"

"Oh, not much. His shot went wide, of course, when you threw yourself into him. Really, in the end, you saved us both, Gojyo. And I hit him dead on, and ripped out his throat. Then I stopped your bleeding and got you into the shade, and dragged the bodies a distance away. And healed you as much as I dared, and you woke up shortly after that. Ah ha ha ... I think sorting their goods was helpful to me at that point. It made me remember who I was. It's odd, isn't it, that I remembered who you were, first ... ."

Sorting stuff. That kind of made sense – very Hakkai. But ... . "Wait. You knew who I was how? If you didn't know my name anymore?"

Hakkai looked at him with the same sort of feisty stare he'd used before, when Gojyo was thinking about how his buddy had been eating people. Except now Gojyo had that little piece of Hakkai wrapped around him, which sort of spoiled the effect. "I knew that ... the scent was that of my mate, you see."

Gojyo felt his mouth drop open, and his ears and cheeks were burning. He looked down at his empty bowl. There were still five or six grains of rice sticking to it. He picked up a chopstick and poked at them. "Y'know, someone could get the wrong idea, hearin' you say that ... ."

"I don't think it is the wrong idea, Gojyo."

Hakkai's voice was clipped and brittle. Fuck. Gojyo felt the loose grip on his ankle release entirely. He reached down and grabbed, hard. "No – don't!"

There was a moment of uncomfortable silence. The warm, living little cord in his hand was almost limp.

"Shit. Did that hurt?"

"Not really ... well. Not much. Don't what, Gojyo?"

"Don't ... let go."

Hakkai moved, suddenly, and was next to him, then all over him. Gojyo was sprawled across the floor, with Hakkai on top, and Hakkai was kissing him, hard, tongue thrusting inside his mouth. Dozens of vines were wrapping around him, firmly. But the hands in his hair, on his neck, were gentle, the claws held back carefully. Hakkai released his mouth and looked into his eyes, hard, his breath warm on Gojyo's face. "I won't let you go. Ever. Is that a problem?"

Scary thought. Fuckin' scary. But when he thought about forever, didn't it always include Hakkai? Making things nice for him? Getting him things to eat? Fixing him up when he got hurt? Could he imagine a life where he couldn't see Hakkai and touch him, at least on the sly? Hear Hakkai's voice saying his name, with that little downward lilt that no one else used? See the back of his neck, in Jeep's front seat, ahead of him for hours on the road, holding the promise of that warm, strong, kinky presence in his bed at night – when they could get the time by themselves?

"Fuck, no."

He was getting aroused all over again, but at his answer, Hakkai suddenly relaxed, his grip loosening, and buried his face in the crook of Gojyo's neck. Gojyo heard a tiny sigh, almost a whimper. The sound made him feel less horny, more tender and protective. He shifted so he could put his arms around Hakkai, and the vines shifted around too and eased their grip to let him. Must have been really tough for him to realize his brain hadn't been working right. I bet he's been so busy taking care of me, he didn't actually think of it until just now, when he told me about it.

"Hakkai?"

"Hmm?"

"You feelin' OK?"

Hakkai laughed, and it was one of the saddest noises Gojyo had ever heard. "Oh, Gojyo ... what a question. No, I'm not. But I'm better than I was." He rolled away a little so that he could clasp one of Gojyo's hands in his. Then he raised their joined hands up to where they could both see them. Vines spilled off his wrist and spiraled around the handclasp. "You really don't mind this."

Illustration of this scene, by danny_sama

It was a statement, but Gojyo could hear the question in it. "Nope. I don't. It's ... they're OK. I mean, they're part of you, you know?" He moved his hand to his mouth, bringing Hakkai's along with it, and kissed the twined tendrils. " I'm gettin' used to 'em. They smell and taste like you. They're soft, and warm. They're kinda cute, like this."

Hakkai just looked at him a minute, his mouth half open, like he wasn't sure what he was hearing. Then he smiled, a good smile, soft and happy. And grabbed Gojyo again and held him tight, tight. "I'm so lucky," he whispered against Gojyo's neck. "I don't know what I would have done if he'd killed you ... ."

Gojyo didn't know either, given what Hakkai had done anyway, even though Gojyo had still been breathing at that point. And he thought about what Hakkai had done last time someone he'd been sleeping with had been killed, and decided it was a really good thing that they were out here in the middle of Outer Pisslick, or wherever they were, and no one was around for miles and miles. He patted Hakkai's hair awkwardly with his free hand, and pressed his cheek against the vines, and wondered whether he could do anything about the fucking big rock that was starting to dig a hole in his back. The parts of Hakkai that were still draped over him felt heavier every minute. Gojyo wasn't surprised when he suddenly twitched and sat up, blinking. "Did'ja fall asleep?"

"Oh! Yes. I'm sorry, Gojyo. We ought to go to bed. I want ... well. If you continue to improve, I'll take you out with me tomorrow. But we should get an early start."

Gojyo rolled off the goddamned rock and sat up, rubbing his back. "OK. But if you think I'm gonna let you get away with sleepin' hell and away over there tonight, you've got another think coming."

"Then I expect you're well enough that you can move my bedding over with yours while I clean up dinner."

That was only fair. Gojyo took several trips to carry Hakkai's blankets and his heap of dry grass over to where his own pallet was, and then fussed around with the double pile a little, trying to make it more comfy. Not that it was really any worse than some of the ways they'd slept since they started West ... .

"Better bring him back, you stupid kappa."

He lay down on his belly and pillowed his head on his hands, watching Hakkai wipe out the bowls with a rag and a few drops of water. It was like his buddy was doing his best to pretend that a bunch of big rocks and some pots stolen from dead bounty hunters were a real kitchen. It was easy to accept Hakkai's vines and claws and ears when he was snuggled in Gojyo's arms. It was harder to think of it as normal or right when he was doing household stuff like this.

And driving Jeep? Taking Sanzo's orders? Shopping for groceries in town?

The pictures wouldn't come into his head. Even though he knew this was still Hakkai.

Hakkai finally had everything sorted out to his satisfaction and turned to him with a smile. "Ready for lights out?"

"Sure."

Hakkai put out the lamp, and Gojyo heard him cross the cavern. He rolled over and opened the blankets, and Hakkai slipped in beside him, settling down to lie curled against and around him, his head on Gojyo's chest. He gave a little sigh, a satisfied, contented sound. Gojyo draped an arm across his shoulders and brushed his fingertips over a pointed ear.

"That feels nice." Hakkai's voice was sleepy already. Gojyo felt rotten about what he was about to do.

"Hakkai?"

"Mmmm ... what?"

"When do you think I'll be well enough that we can go find Sanzo, and Goku? I don't know how long they're gonna wait for us. Sanzo's arm ... it wasn't pretty. They might have to go get help for him."

Hakkai stiffened, then reached up and covered Gojyo's mouth with a clawed hand. "No. I ... not now. Gojyo, I promise we'll talk about this tomorrow. Tomorrow night. Please. Go to sleep."

There was pain in his voice. Gojyo knew he couldn't gain anything by arguing. He patted Hakkai gently. "Yeah. OK."

He must have done a good job sounding like he meant that, because a couple of minutes later, Hakkai was asleep. Gojyo stayed awake for rather a long time afterward, feeling Hakkai warm and heavy on his chest, and finally surprised himself by praying to the merciful goddess to watch out for Sanzo and Goku.

 

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

 

 

Comments

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
geri
Nov. 15th, 2008 10:19 pm (UTC)
Now this part is really getting to the point/heart of the matter even, goyjo keeps thinking on the part were hakkai states that he ate the man's heart because of what he was going to do to goyjo.

Now to an exstinct goyjo is repulse by it, yet it doesn't detract from the fact that hakkai is still himself, inspite of his yoakkai form which he seems to be enjoying being in at the moment. Althrough goyjo has mentioned quite a few times that they need to get back to the other 2 hakkai doesn't seem to be in a rush to do so at the moment. I wonder why that is. anyway i'm quite enjoying reading this story it has everything in it to keep me glued to my chair at the moment. onto pt 3
sharpeslass
Nov. 16th, 2008 08:43 am (UTC)
That was a sexy and yummy chapter! I'm a bit concerned for Hakkai, however. He seems to be going a bit primitive... On to the next.
This is excellent fun!
(Deleted comment)
chomiji
Dec. 8th, 2008 12:25 pm (UTC)


The question of the Minus Wave will indeed be discussed! ANd that's all I will say.



Re Gojyo and his freak-out over Hakkai's choice of dinner that afternoon: I got the impression that it had never been common for youkai to eat human beings in recent times, until the Minus Wave came through. There was the whole "Shangri-La, where humans and youkai live in harmony." For Gojyo, eating of humans belongs to the barbaric past and the recent horrific past, but definitely not in the day-to-day reality of his family and friends. Remember that the Centipede King was regarded with horror by both human and youkai.



(Deleted comment)
smillaraaq
Dec. 8th, 2008 08:05 pm (UTC)
I pretty much had the same impression as Cho -- remember how shocked Gojyo seemed back at the beginning when his youkai poker buddy suddenly went nuts? And we keep seeing all those little villages where people talk about how they used to live side-by-side happily with youkai, humans had youkai friends or fiancees, etc. -- I don't think people would have been so blase about it all, and so shocked once the Wave hit, if the average youkai had been a man-eating monster all around! Violent brutes like Hyakugan Maoh seem to have been the exception rather than the rule -- maybe there was more craziness in the distant past when Gyuma-oh was still running amok (which could explain the lingerng cultural prejudice some humans seem to have against youkai), but in the modern day it seems like the average youkai-on-the-street was perfectly peaceful and civilized.
(Deleted comment)
smillaraaq
Dec. 8th, 2008 09:14 pm (UTC)
*nods* Banri's certainly about as unreliable a narrator as they come, and given his own shifty semi-legal lifestyle, that's probably influenced the sort of humans he's interacted with and the attitude they're likely to have had towards youkai like him. But I'm sure there's more than a grain of truth there -- the conflict over water between Pippi's village and the human town seems to predate the Minus Wave, after all. Fear and prejudice against those who are different is a common enough element of human society, after all...and any past history of violent animosity is not going to be helping matters any.

The folk with the upper hand don't tend to worry about their own morality.

Heh, funny that you just mentioned the prejudice being one of the few things you remember from reading Peter Høeg, because the first thing I thought of upon reading that line was a passage from that same book: "Not one day of my life has passed that I haven't been amazed at how poorly Danes and Greenlanders understand each other. It's worse for Greenlanders, of course. It's not healthy for the tightrope walker to be misunderstood by the person who's holding the rope."
(Deleted comment)
smillaraaq
Dec. 9th, 2008 01:23 pm (UTC)
Heh, now, I'd read the situation with Pippi's village a little differently -- while she certainly had a strong personality, that mostly seemed to be a peasant village with no sign of anybody being powerful magic-users like Kou or Zakuro or Chin Isou. From her comments about what the changes were like, I'd interpreted the situation as there was something of an inital stage of overload/madness/what-have-you when the Minus Wave first hit them, but by the time our boys meet them they've adjusted to this new thing and are now sort of in a second stage of its effects, where they have their higher levels of reason and consciousness back, but still have no inhibition against treating humans as prey. (The ones we've seen going really nutso-animalistic-insane -- Yakumo, the folks back in the village near Chang'an -- are the ones where the Minus Wave seems to be hitting them hard for the very first time, which makes me wonder if they might have reached a state closer to Pippi's villagers if they hadn't been killed off. Even most of the average low-level filler youkai that our boys end up battling with, they're violent but they don't seem totally deprived of speech and reason.)

The Kou-tachi, OTOH, there could be multiple factors there keeping them all sane; they're higher-powered than average, they definitely have the strong wills and sense of self that seem to give some measure of resistance, and between the advanced magic users and Nii's mad science, it makes sense that they'd be taking whatever steps were necessary to make themselves immune to what they've unleashed.
(Deleted comment)
opalmatrix
Dec. 10th, 2008 02:19 am (UTC)

My memory of the situation in Pippi's village matches smiila's -they all went nutty for awhile, then came back to more or less normal mental stability, except that human beings were no longer taboo as food. (Which makes Gojyo's parentage a really squirmy subject. Apparently no one in the village recognizes what he is, and it's probably just as well.)

(Deleted comment)
smillaraaq
Dec. 10th, 2008 08:35 pm (UTC)
It does seem like it would be potentially helpful -- reinforcing that sense of self (and on a purely practical front, giving them the protection of numbers against any human neighbors who are understandably freaked out by the change.)
smillaraaq
Dec. 10th, 2008 11:21 pm (UTC)
Yeah, the whole bit with the boys in the village is the sort of thing that really gets me wondering yet again just how sensitive the average youkai is to chi/smell/youryouki/limiters and so forth. Is it a matter of his scent/youki/chi being sufficiently and obviously non-human enough that they're letting the halfbreed slide since he's in the company of two powerful full youkai, and they can use the extra laborers and fighters anyway? Or does he feel close enough to a limiter-wearing youkai (on the "his human blood is his youkai limiter" theory) that they're assuming he's wearing a limiter somewhere hidden by his clothes, since both of his companions are wearing them more openly? Or is it one of those backwaters where people have largely forgotten what the red hair and eyes signify? I find that last bit the hardest to buy since youkai, especially unlimitered, would presumably have a wider sensory range than the average untrained/non-spiritually-gifted human, so the odds would seem stronger that someone would sense he didn't smell/feel/whatever quite right, even if they'd forgotten about the visual markers because adult hanyou are so rarely encountered...
smillaraaq
Dec. 8th, 2008 08:45 pm (UTC)
Also, as far as Gojyo knowing what would be "normal" for youkai since he's part demon himself -- I think the very sketchiness of his early life would actually tend to leave him potentially rather ignorant on that front. His youkai dad died when he was a toddler, his youkai stepmom was crazy and hated him so much that I can't picture her giving him much of a cultural education, and his youkai brother would probably have tried his best, but was probably so overwhelmed with just simply caring for his helpless kid brother and insane mother that he surely didn't have much time or energy left over for that sort of thing -- plus he was out of poor Gojyo's life at a fairly early age, too. And I've always had the impression that the Sha house was rather like Gojyo's later place near Chang'an -- close enough that you could hike into town for necessities, but still isolated enough that there weren't likely to be any neighbors close enough to catch on to what was going on in the household. Plus with the prejudice both sides tend to hold against hanyou, it's not like either side was likely to welcome the poor boy with open arms; it's possible he might not have been welcomed in any local schools, or stepmom wouldn't/couldn't go to the trouble and expense of getting him enrolled, or he might have tended to skip class as a response to bullying...

Really, it honestly wouldn't surprise me if Hakkai and Sanzo, by virtue of their educations, might not have a broader knowledge (albeit purely of a dry academic overview sort) of youkai history and culture than the kappa himself does. While he's the one with the most direct connection and experience, as a despised orphan halfbreed that very experience is bound to have been rather warped and sub-optimal...
(Deleted comment)
smillaraaq
Dec. 9th, 2008 01:49 pm (UTC)
Oh, I do think Gojyo'd definitely have a fairly realistic attitude about the full spectrum of human and youkai nature. But at the same time, he's basically lived most of his life on the fringes of society, so while he's seen some extremes of individual behavior and character, I think there's a good chance he might not have a very firm grounding in what it's like to be a full participant in youkai culture and society, beyond that micro level of his broken little family. It's sort of an extreme exaggeration of the Third Culture Kid scenario (where your parents come from one country or ethnic/cultural group, but other than that immediate family you're raised in a setting far removed from their source culture), further complicated by his being visibly, recognizably mixed, in a society where neither side of his mixed heritage welcomes such half-breeds. (Doesn't Banri say something about how neither side wants the poor mutt?) So he's really in a bind because even if he wanted to try to identify primarily with either the human or youkai side, many/most of the folks he'd seek to align himself with would reject his attempt at joining their society, and the red hair and eyes are such a visible brand that he couldn't even successfully "pass" as one or the other in anything but the short term. He really doesn't have a culture or race he can call his own -- being both, in Shangri-la, means he's neither one at all.

I've often thought that must be one of the factors in his drifter lifestyle, too -- maybe it started when he was a kid, looking for his brother, and by the time he got older the combo of jealous boyfriends and angry fathers of his girls, and sore losers from the card tables, would all be likely incentives not to stay in one town for too long -- but the longer he stays in one place, the worse the odds would seem to be that sooner or later somebody a bit more observant or better-read than average would realize he's a hanyou, and the stares and whispers, or more overt mistreatment, would kick in. (Heck, he might even have believed the superstition about taboo children like himself bringing bad luck and disaster -- that fits a child's magical thinking that they're to blame for things like parental breakups to a tee, and his life and the lives of his immediate family were certainly filled with enough horrific events to seem like the dire legends were all true.)
(Deleted comment)
smillaraaq
Dec. 9th, 2008 07:42 pm (UTC)
*nod* Hakkai's orphanage upbringing and Sanzo's monastery childhood, while they certainly weren't the ideal of a warm family in a supportive community, were still quite a step up in terms of security and sense of place from the Sha household. Wee Kouryuu at least definitely had a loving father figure, and if we want to buy the anime-only canon then at least a few of the nuns really cared for Gonou and tried to get through to him, even if he wasn't entirely receptive to such gestures. And I definitely get the impression that if those two were somewhat isolated or alienated from the other children, it was very much a two-way street -- the other orphans or novices may have thought they were a little weird or creepy or what-have-you, but even as kids they both also seem to have had such serious, introverted streaks that they would have held themselves apart from their peers. Whereas chibi-Goku in the Gaiden days, like wee Gojyo, was the more outgoing, affection-seeking sort in spite of being widely despised as a taboo creature; but he at least also found his own place and caring substitute family for a little while, before everything fell apart in Tenkai...

As for Gojyo, the Not-Quite-Fitting-In-Anywhere thing, issues with figuring out what "home" really means, yearning for what seems like the simpler, unconfused sense of place and belonging that folks who aren't so displaced seem to have, etc. rings very, very true to me because it's an extremely common thing you see with TCKs. I've definitely got more than a slight case of it myself, exacerbated by my ethnically-ambiguous features making me look kind of like an outsider in places that actually feel more comfortable and familiar to me, while the places where my looks blend in tend to be ones where I feel more out of place. So it's not at all hard for me to imagine that Gojyo, coming first from a place where his childhood home was not a particularly safe and nurturing place, and then presumably being literally homeless and nomadic and not totally welcome anywhere among either humans or youkai after that, would have absolutely MASSIVE issues on that front.

As for story direction...well, I'm not going to spoil your fun by saying if you're running warm or cold here on your speculation. You'll find out soon enough! :)
(Deleted comment)
smillaraaq
Dec. 10th, 2008 01:36 am (UTC)
Mmm, yes, there could definitely be a bit of chicken-and-egg thing going on there. But Goku and Gojyo have that slightly-warped-reflection thing going on there as kids -- Gojyo's reaching out has more of that desperate edge of neediness to it, where he's clearly aware from past experience that making these overtures is likely to be met with violent rejection, but he's just too starved not to risk it. Goku seems much more innocent and trusting, he's got a happier child's expectation that friendly overtures will of course be returned in kind, and is shocked and dismayed when they're not -- he hasn't been mistreated enough to expect that sort of thing as the norm.

And Goku's even got his own physical marker of not fitting into any of the normal categories -- but yet again, it plays out differently because I don't recall if anyone outside of the gods themselves recognize the golden eyes as the mark of a heretical being. And thanks to his sealed memories, he's got no reason to dwell on his appearance marking him as different, and different in a way that's seen as bad. Whereas Gojyo, of course, had that sort of negative message literally beaten into his head as a child. Even if nobody in this latest town recognizes him as a hanyou, he can never forget it because the marks are staring him in the face every time he sees his reflection, and souring the praise he gets from girls drawn to his "exotic" looks.
(Deleted comment)
smillaraaq
Dec. 10th, 2008 08:31 pm (UTC)
*nods* Goku sometimes seems like he's a little bit worried that he must have done something awful to have been imprisoned and memory-wiped, but in the absence of any specific memories or any outside reinforcement of those ideas (I can just see Sanzo huffing "ch, don't be stupid!" if that fear is ever mentioned), that nebulous sort of guilt doesn't seem to hold much sway against his more cheerful, focused-in-the-moment personality.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

Profile

Inami - portrait
opalmatrix
opalmatrix

Tags

Latest Month

May 2017
S M T W T F S
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031   
Powered by LiveJournal.com