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Night Shift (fic; Saiyuki)

Title: Night Shift
Author: opalmatrix
Fandom: Saiyuki
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Horrific dream imagery, swearing, implied m/m, mild Gojyo perviness
Pairing(s): Hakkai/Gojyo
Disclaimer: Saiyuki characters and situations belong to Kazuya Minekura. .
Spoilers: Hakkai's backstory through the Chin Yisou arc; one reference to Burial arc.
Notes: Beta by sanada and smillaraaq. Takes places well after Be There and Burial, probably very shortly before the Journey West begins.
Summary: Sometimes, all that stands between Hakkai and his inner darkness is a pair of cold hands and a warm heart.

It had been a good night, a very good night, with the other players flush with cash and enthusiasm. When Gojyo had said his farewells, it had been 3:00 a.m., and he'd had at least five beers (he'd lost track, because it had seemed more important to count cards than to count beers) and a congratulatory shot of whiskey from the barkeep, who appreciated the amount of drinking everyone had done. He'd come home, pockets bulging with other men's cash, to find Hakkai asleep, as usual on these late nights, and had crawled in beside him. Hakkai had wakened just enough to put his arms around his night-owl buddy, and then Gojyo had tumbled headlong into the smug, snug sleep that awaits a successful gambling man at the end of a hard run.

It couldn't have been much more than an hour later that Gojyo found himself inexplicably awake, and missing the sexy pair of women whose company he'd been keeping in his dreams. He never dreamed about Hakkai, because Hakkai was always right there, and besides, Hakkai could think of crazier things to do to Gojyo in real life than Gojyo's imagination could ever produce. But right now, Hakkai wasn't there. That must've been what had woken Gojyo up. Guess he had to pee, thought Gojyo, muzzily, running his hand over the rapidly cooling warm spot his friend had left. But there was no sound of water or plumbing, and Hakkai didn't come back.

Gojyo pried his eyes open. They didn't want to cooperate, but he finally got them back on the job. He found that there was a light burning in the kitchen. He couldn't think of any good reason for that, and if Hakkai was facing something bad, Gojyo should be there. Reluctantly he rolled over, got out of bed, and went to find out what Hakkai was up to.

Shit, it was cold tonight. The warmth of the whisky buzz that had kept off the chill on his walk home was long gone. He could almost feel the warmth of the bed reaching out to pull him back under the covers, but he was tougher than that. On bare feet that seemed to be rapidly turning into ice cubes, he crept into the kitchen.

Hakkai was sitting at the table, bathrobe neatly wrapped and tied over his winter pajamas. He'd been up long enough to make a cup of tea, which was steaming, untouched, in front of him. And one look at his face told Gojyo that he'd gone someplace where Gojyo didn't belong. But Gojyo was always wandering into forbidden places. He didn't see any reason to stop now.


No answer. Gojyo wasn't surprised. He propped himself up against the cold, hard counter and wrapped his arms around his bare torso for the illusion of warmth they gave and stood watch over his bedmate. Hakkai's eyes were sunken into his head so you couldn't even tell what color they were, and his mouth was a colorless slash. He hardly seemed to be breathing. Finally, he said "I was back there."

His voice was a dry, low, icy monotone, and if Gojyo didn't already know, pretty much, what the words were, he might've missed them.

"The castle? You dreamed you were back in the castle?"

"Yes. That. The prison."

Hakkai picked up the cup. His hand was shaking, and steaming tea sloshed out onto his bare skin. Gojyo winced. Hakkai didn't seem to feel it, but he set the cup back down untasted. Wisps of steam were curling from the cup and his hand, tendrils winding up into the cold, still air.

"She ... was pregnant. Not like she really was. Farther along. Much farther. Swollen with ... it. Except it wasn't it, it was ... . She was in labor. Hundreds of them. Centipedes, scorpions. Legs, venom. Crawling ... crawling out of her ... ."

Hakkai's voice had grown scratchy and painful. His face looked dead, snowy white, and the shadows under his eyes were black and slate green, like bruises.

"She couldn't ... the labor wasn't going fast enough. Even with those hundreds coming out. And she grabbed the knife, and when she stabbed - more of them. From the gash, and from her womb, between her legs. Like some horrible fountain. Just pouring out. Piling up. Covering her. She was screaming, 'Too late, you came too late!' "

Gojyo didn't feel too well himself. He really regretted the beer. Or maybe it was those fried noodle things Jun Li was serving as bar snacks these days. His teeth were chattering too - hard to tell if it was the picture Hakkai was painting or the cold. "Hakkai, b-buddy - it didn't happen like that. What happened - was bad enough. B-but it wasn't like that. You know it wasn't."

He wasn't getting through. He knew he was a terrible speaker. Not like Sanzo who, for all his bluntness, could pick exactly the right word when he needed to. When Hakkai got like this, it was like he'd turned all his enormous willpower, all his mental brilliance, on himself. And whatever was inside the thick skull of Sha Gojyo, street punk, stray cat, school dropout, it wasn't much of a match for Hakkai's brain.

"Thousands ...," whispered Hakkai, as colorless, as dead, and as cold as the air around them. "Over her eyes, in her mouth. They were starting to eat her even as she gave them life ... ."

Fuck, thought Gojyo. He'd just have to get crude.

Hakkai was making another messy and hazardous attempt to do something with the teacup. Gojyo glided over behind him and waited until the cup was safely back on the table (still untasted), then slipped both of his very very cold hands down the neck of Hakkai's pajamas - one over his chest and one over his back.

Hakkai screamed, jumped, and grabbed at him. He managed to snag the hand over his heart and held it there. In the silence after the scream, Gojyo was as still as stone. He could both feel and hear Hakkai's heartbeats, first racing, now slowing, but warm and red and alive, fiercely, hotly alive.

"Gojyo! That was cold! How many times have I told you that you should wear more to bed ... ."

Gojyo drew a long, thankful breath, feeling the cold air grow warm in his lungs. A nagging Hakkai was a pain in the ass, but infinitely preferable to a despairing, self-hating Hakkai. "Sorry, buddy."

"You should go back to bed, and warm up under the covers."

Gojyo bent and leaned his cheek on top of Hakkai's hair, feeling it feathery and warm on his skin.

"Think it's too late for that. Didn't you tell me once, blankets only hold in the heat you already got?"

Hakkai sighed, exasperated. It was such a blessedly normal sound that Gojyo smiled, up there where Hakkai couldn't see it.

"Well, then ... Gojyo, back up. I don't want to hit your feet with the chair. I suppose you're barefoot, too ... ."

Hakkai let go of his hand and pivoted the chair out away from the table. As he turned he caught sight of the forlorn, half-spilled cup of tea, stared, and shook his head. Then he slowly untied the bathrobe and held it open. "Come here."

Now Gojyo let him see the smile. He settled into Hakkai's lap - stupid idea, but the chair felt like it would hold - and Hakkai wrapped the robe around both of them, at least as far as it was possible. It was horribly awkward, but Gojyo settled gratefully into what warmth was available. Hakkai sighed again, sounding just tired now, and rested his head against Gojyo's shoulder. When he spoke, Gojyo could feel every syllable as a toasty little puff of air.

"I guess I woke you. I shouldn't ... you don't need to hear things like that. No one does. They're my own problems."

"Nuh-uh. Hakkai, no. Talk, please. Even if it's horrible. If you don't get it out talking, it comes out some other way. And that gets real messy, real fast. Remember? I think I could've lived my whole life perfectly happy, without seeing an umbrella rib coming out of some guy's ... ."

Hakkai gave a little dry laugh that was closer to a cough. "Point taken. But there should be some other way, that isn't so hard on you."

"Heh. There is - isn't there?" Gojyo demonstrated with a wriggle of his hips and a waggle of his eyebrows. The chair creaked ominously but held together. Hakkai smiled up at him sadly and shook his head.

"Usually, I'd say an offer like that from you could raise the dead. I hate to think what that makes me tonight, but ... no, not now."

Well, if he'd been dreaming what Hakkai had been dreaming, he wouldn't have been in the mood either. Gojyo put the eyebrows to work again. "Hey. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but Sha Gojyo, Sex God, can actually go one or two days without. Maybe even three, if there's a really good reason."

Hakkai's smile got smaller but more genuine. "Really. Well. I didn't know that."

"Yeah. That's how it is. But, uh, don't tell the girls at Jun Li's. They'd be real disappointed."

Hakkai sat up a little straighter and blinked a couple of times. "Ah. I see. They'd become despondent. And then they wouldn't feel compelled to flirt with the other customers as much, which they habitually do, just to attract your attention."

"Yeah. And Jun Li wouldn't sell nearly as much beer, and hardly any whisky."

"And because the amount of money taken in for intoxicating drink at Jun Li's is by far the largest source of tax income in the town, the economy of the town would fail. And thereafter, the economy of the entire region."

"Yeah, for sure. And the whole place would be overrun by no-account youkai from the hills, with no taste and lousy manners. And there wouldn't be any good place to buy silk PJs or jasmine tea. So we're all depending on you, Hakkai-san, to keep your big mouth shut." Gojyo leaned in, nose to nose with him: "Get the picture?"

Hakkai smiled - his proper, smugly satisfied smile. "I've got it," he said, quietly, green eyes looking into red. And Gojyo couldn't be one hundred percent sure what he meant - Hakkai always seemed to be talking about more than one thing at a time - but it seemed to be something good this time.

Gojyo had to look away, then, because he was yawning - with tiredness or with relief, he couldn't say which. Hakkai looked up at the clock. "Heavens, it's a quarter to 5:00, and not getting any warmer. We should go back to bed."

He gently spilled Gojyo out of his lap and picked up the tepid cup of tea as he stood. Gojyo grabbed the dishrag and wiped the spill off the table before his friend could do it. Somehow the cup made it safely into the sink - followed, to Hakkai's disgust, by the dishrag, but he didn't seem inclined to do anything about it just then. They grabbed each other and staggered to the bed, piling in to huddle together in a shivering knot in the middle.

Gradually, the blankets and mattress took on their warmth. Hakkai sighed - a relaxed, comfortable sound this time - and turned on his side. Gojyo curled up behind him, arms around him, and willed himself to stay awake until Hakkai was properly asleep. It felt like forever, but really, it was only moments before the other man's breathing deepened and smoothed out. Gojyo rubbed his face gently in Hakkai's hair, smelling the familiar scent and feeling strangely triumphant. Me. I did this. I'm not as smart as he is, or as good a talker as Sanzo, or as fast or as strong as that little monkey, but I can do this. Me. Sha Gojyo.

Sex God. Heh.

He closed his own eyes at last and followed his friend down into the warm dark.



( 28 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 25th, 2008 05:08 am (UTC)
The mental image of Hakkai's dream was...a bit horrifying. Wonderful story, I enjoyed reading it ^^
Feb. 26th, 2008 02:34 am (UTC)

Ooh, it had to be horrifying, because Hakkai is one creepy guy (even though I love him). I glad you enjoyed it!

Feb. 25th, 2008 05:19 am (UTC)
Spooky dream, yeah. :) Very sweet, nicely written. I loved the beginning, the pacing and the words were so Gojyo. And this line in particular I liked: Hakkai always seemed to be talking about more than one thing at a time; that seems so very Hakkai. He's so disingenuous sometimes, especially when he means to make a point. :)
Feb. 26th, 2008 02:38 am (UTC)

Oh, I'm so glad you liked it! I think it grew out of a remark kispexi2 made, about Gojyo being the "heart" of the group. So, "cold hands, warm heart" - and it hatched into a story. The line you like about Hakkai showed up on the second pass through - the ambiguity of what it was he'd "got" in that moment struck me suddenly.

Feb. 25th, 2008 07:57 am (UTC)
This is very well written and while the dream is, indeed, horrid, the whole fic is so very sweet with a hint of sadness. Very beautiful
Feb. 26th, 2008 02:39 am (UTC)

I'm so pleased you like it! (And I love the icon - poor Gojyo, his heart is so soft.)

Feb. 26th, 2008 11:05 am (UTC)
Hmmm thanks! :D It was one of the first icons I made *proud*

Oh dear, yes. Gojyo is such a sweetheart and a total softie (taking stray kittens home and everything) but he tries so desperately to hide it... I can see why, too. After all, he's had to be strong on his own for many years and that builds the kind of defences that aren't broken down easilly, not even by Hakkai.
Feb. 25th, 2008 11:28 am (UTC)
horrifying dream. goyjo to the rescue!
a warm story ...... that fills the heart
Feb. 26th, 2008 02:41 am (UTC)

Aww, I'm glad you like it!

Feb. 25th, 2008 02:20 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed how you used the physical descriptions of warmth and cold in this. The dream and Hakkai's monotone and icy reaction was very disturbing and very convincing. The warmth afterwards made me smile - the progression seemed very natural.
Feb. 26th, 2008 02:44 am (UTC)

I'm glad to hear you say that, about the hot and cold, because I was beginning to wonder if I was overdoing it. The little banter just seemed to grow - it was fun to write. And I'm very pleased it made you smile - your work has been making me very happy for several months now.

Feb. 25th, 2008 04:29 pm (UTC)
This was great! I really liked the way the whole story seemed to carry these contrasts of cold and warmth. Very sweet and touching, and Hakkai's dream was very realistic (and terrible!)
Feb. 26th, 2008 03:09 am (UTC)

So glad you liked it! I thought maybe I was going overboard with the temperature, but I'm glad it worked. I sort of appalled myself with the dream, but this is Hakkai, after all.

Feb. 25th, 2008 06:08 pm (UTC)
The horror at the beginning contrasted really well with the warmth at the end and offset it in such a way as to make it even better. Gojyo's little spike of self-worth at the end was nice, too. Your fic really shows how these two complete and complement each other. ^___^
Feb. 26th, 2008 03:12 am (UTC)

I'm glad the complement bit came through - I feel that very strongly about the two of them. And Gojyo has such doubts about himself - it felt good to make him happy about something that mattered. Thanks!

Feb. 26th, 2008 01:40 am (UTC)
awww, that was very sweet (and definitely disturbing in the dream description- very fitting of Hakkai). this line was perfect:

Hakkai always seemed to be talking about more than one thing at a time
Feb. 26th, 2008 03:19 am (UTC)

Indeed, Hakkai is one disturbing dude ... the line you like showed up the second time I went through the story. It's funny what gets in there after I have the basic storyline down. I'm glad you liked it!

Feb. 26th, 2008 06:45 am (UTC)
Oh wow, what a wonderful fic. And that dream, wow! But I could totally see Hakkai's mind coming up with that.

You did a beautiful job with this!
Feb. 27th, 2008 02:31 am (UTC)

I'm so happy that you liked it! Yes, Hakkai's mind is a spooky place, but Gojyo will always care about him enough to go there.

(Deleted comment)
Mar. 1st, 2008 05:12 am (UTC)

Goo can be good! I'm glad you liked it! (And the additional comments were both fun and useful.)

Feb. 28th, 2008 09:02 pm (UTC)
::love:: you show such warmth between them <3
Mar. 1st, 2008 05:14 am (UTC)

I feel very strongly about this pair - they really belong together! It makes me happy that you liked it.

Mar. 5th, 2008 07:42 pm (UTC)
I've read so many fics with Hakkai angsting over Kanan that it's an unexpected pleasure to find one that isn't melodramatic and whose imagery is as terrible as what really happened but expressed with different words and ideas, so that a reader can feel as if it's the first time one reads about it.

Very sweet and real Gojyo/Hakkai interaction, too.

As I said, a pleasure to read. Thanks for sharing!
Mar. 7th, 2008 04:38 pm (UTC)

I'm glad you liked it! I've been thinking a lot about dreams, and how they tend to work in symbols that mean something to the dreamer rather than in the literal. So when Hakkai had his dream, I let it go - well, sideways a bit.

Mar. 16th, 2008 02:01 am (UTC)
great creepy dream imagry. I liked this
Mar. 16th, 2008 02:54 am (UTC)

I'm so happy to hear that! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

(Deleted comment)
Apr. 17th, 2008 01:17 pm (UTC)

I'm glad you liked it! That part gave me warm fuzzies as I wrote it.

Edited at 2008-04-17 01:17 pm (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - opalmatrix - Apr. 17th, 2008 08:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
( 28 comments — Leave a comment )


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