Warnings: Worksafe; however, contains violence and disturbing ideas
Pairing(s): Hakkai/Gojyo if you squint.
Notes: Written for Daytripping to the West. Challenge - Write about someone's first time. However, the first time in your story cannot refer to a first sexual experience of any kind. Time allowed for this is up to one hour.
Actual time: 51 minutes, plus 4 minutes more to clean up. No beta. Concrit encouraged.
(Part of this was inspired by the fact that Hakkai later charged Sanzo for "Healing Gojyo's wounds." Presumably, if he'd been capable of doing so on his own with his chi, he wouldn't have had to pay for help.)
Disclaimer: Fandom characters and situations belong to Kazuya Minekura.
Spoilers: Burial Arc (through vol. 4)
Summary: In the aftermath of having removed his limiters purposefully for the first time, Hakkai's thoughts won't let him sleep.
He should not have been able to hear those tiny sounds.
It was a triple clink, off-beat: clink ... clink-clink
He should not be able to hear it now, over his own blood pounding in his ears, and Gojyo's slightly ragged breathing from the futon on the floor. He had only heard it then because his enemies had fallen silent, amazed at his crazed foolishness as he threatened them. Then he'd reached up - so simple, like this - and pulled off the cold little bits of metal that held him together.
Now, whenever he closed his eyes to try to sleep, he heard it, and then he remembered: the ticklish creep of his ears and nails growing, the hair stirring on his scalp as though in a breeze, the dimness of the cellar suddenly as bright as a moonlit midsummer night, the odors of those gathered around who were not his, as individual as their faces, and amidst them all the distinct, homelike scent of the one who was, sharpened with fear and pain. And the hatred that he swore he would never, ever let himself feel again: darker, sweeter this time, because he knew, in every one of his six senses, that they were afraid of him, and that he was more than their match.
He could feel his muscles as they were then, those few hours ago, pumped full of blood loaded with that hate and that dark power. The way that he could now leap, land, and turn, pick an opponent up as though he were a child's rag doll, and throw him against that rough wall. And he could hear that thump and crunch - sickening now, but deeply satisfying then - as the youkai's skull hit and fractured on the stones.
Hakkai sat bolt upright and ground the heels of his hands into his eyes until he saw stars and lightning, even in the bad one. Merciful goddess, never let me have to do that again! Unleash what he had become that night so many months ago, feel his own thoughts blossom so darkly, his body becoming that of exactly what he loathed.
But what if I hadn't been able to do so ... ?
Gojyo's head on the stone floor, a pistol barrel pressed against his forehead, that look of dull, hopeless, apathy on his face: an unwanted baby grown to a child abandoned like candy wrapper, grown to a young thug who operated on the far side of the law - and then grown further, into the roughly kind man who'd picked up the bloody mass of bone and sinew and exposed gut that had called itself Cho Gonou, and brought it home, to re-create him as a human being, coddled and cared for in Gojyo's own bed, that very bed where Cho Hakkai now huddled, trembling.
One moment's hesitation more, and Gojyo would have been nothing but scattered bone and brain, food for the worms.
There had never been any real choice. To hell with it, he'd said earlier in the evening, when he'd decided to leave the house and chase after his errant savior.
To hell. With good intentions, but hell nonetheless.
He dropped his hands and looked down at the futon on the other side of the room. He'd tried to make Gojyo sleep in the bed: there was only so much he'd been able to do about the cracked, bruised ribs on the right side of his friend's chest. They'd have to find a doctor in the morning. But Gojyo had insisted: he only wanted his usual bed, he said. He was alive: that was enough.
Now Gojyo stirred in his sleep and rolled over onto his bad side, and his face creased with pain. Hakkai held his breath, but was unsurprised when the other man's eyes opened. He stared at Hakkai with a face as blankly miserable as a hurt child's, and then suddenly everything shifted - he was smiling.
"Hakkai. You didn' go ... ."
His voice was burred with pain and blurred with sleep: he was still barely conscious, but the happiness was plain. Hakkai felt something warm and a little painful stir in the cold misery he'd been nursing inside. "No, Gojyo. I'm still here."
Gojyo tried to sit up. Hakkai rolled out of bed to crouch next to him, pushing him back down gently. "Gojyo - your ribs ... ."
Gojyo subsided, gasping. Finally: "But you were going."
"I thought I should. That I was making your life - "
A hand on his arm stopped him. "Don' go. Stay. Please."
Everything got very quiet. He could hear his own heart, and Gojyo's breathing, and the small sounds of the night outside. It must be almost dawn: he could hear a bird piping softly in the distance somewhere. He put his hand over the other hand that held him so tightly. "Alright. If you still want me in your house."
Gojyo smiled, his eyes drooping closed again. "Your house, too, now. Owe you one."
Hakkai laughed softly. "Of course you don't. This just makes us even."
The sleepy lips formed "OK," but only a soft breath came out. Hakkai stayed there for a few moments, making sure he really was asleep again, then tucked his friend's hand carefully down along his side.
He rose silently as he could and sat down on the bed again, looking at Gojyo. Really, he should have been able to do more to help, with his chi powers. He had a lot to learn, still. Maybe one of the doctors in town would let him work as an orderly, if not an assistant, so that he could learn more about how injuries felt, and how they knitted together. He lay down, frowning, thinking, smoothing the blankets firmly into place around his body. The only sounds in his ears were his breathing, and his friend's, and the world awakening to the new day. When the first light crept into the room and across the pillow, the face it touched was at peace.