The Woods


   Hakkai woke in the cool darkness, bladder aching and feet a little numb from sitting. He eased himself from under Jiip's steering wheel and climbed over the side, not opening the door in case he woke any of the others. The wind was shaking the upper branches of the trees that ringed the clearing, and the night was full of the shhh-shhh sound of leaves rubbing together. He made his way into the wilder part of the forest with its thick undergrowth, where both sight and step grew tricky; relieved himself under a bush, and covered the spot over with dead leaves. A brief search found him a plant with a little rainwater caught in the center of its broad leaves, and he made do with that to rinse his hands. Running hot water was the thing he missed most about these enforced camp-outs between villages. He dried his hands on his pants and paused, aware of a presence not far behind him. Gojou. He turned as the tall figure came wading in to the darkness where he was standing.

   "You gotta get into the bush just to take a leak?" Gojou grumbled at him, undoing his own trousers.

   "Tidier that way," Hakkai said, as he listened to the splashing on the leaves.

   "Hmph." Gojou shook off and fastened his fly. There was no point in suggesting that he wash his hands, so Hakkai didn't. They walked back through the forest, stopping a little before they came to the clearing itself. Gojou leaned against a tree and lit a cigarette. Hakkai stood beside him, to make sure no stray sparks set off a fire. But the leafmould underneath felt damp and cold, not forest fire material. There was a friendly silence, like the silence they used to share at home in their little apartment.

     "Don't get to see much of you these days," Gojou said at last. "Sharing with the chimp every night, practically, and you up front with Sanzou all during the day."

     "Mmh," Hakkai agreed. "I'll be glad when this is over."

     "When's it going to be over?" Gojou wondered. "We been on the road six months now. I've got callouses on my fanny from sitting there in the back."

     "Saa ne," Hakkai mused. "And when we get there, we only have to stop a tribe of royal youkai from doing what they're doing, and then we can come back home."

   "Stop them," Gojou said morosely. "You know what that means."

   "I hope not," Hakkai said, frowning at the ground. "I hope Sanzou's right about not needing us, and this is something he could do alone with his sutra."

   Gojou gave him a sidelong look. "Yeah well, maybe he is right," he said. Gojou was always so nice. "And if he is, I'm giving him what-for, believe me. Making us pull up and come with him when we'd 'a been a lot better just staying put in town."

   Hakkai looked at the bluish sky over head, still translucent from the recent moonset. The wind in the branches above them made a sighing sound like the sea.

   "Would we?" he asked.

   "You think not?" Gojou asked.

   "You'd never have met your brother if we'd stayed at home. I'd never have met Chin Isou. You'd still be wondering what happened to him and I'd still be--" He didn't finish the sentence.

   "Thinking you might as well be dead as alive," Gojou said for him. "Glad you got rid of that one, yeah."

   Hakkai glanced over at him. "It bothered you?"

   "Some. None of my business so I didn't say anything, but- seemed kind of a waste of a life, you know."

   Hakkai smiled.

   "Yeah, yeah. Who am I to talk? So I didn't talk." Gojou finished his cigarette and ground it out thoroughly among the wet leaves.

   "Sumimasen," Hakkai said, still smiling.

   "Ii yo." Gojou gave him a brief grin. The old old conversation, repeated who knows how many times in the course of their friendship.

   "So this last six months has changed a number of things," Hakkai said thoughtfully. "Wouldn't you say?"

   "Yeah," Gojou agreed. "It has. Some things. Not others."

   "True," Hakkai said. "We're still friends."

   "Yeah," Gojou said. "That we are." Hakkai could hear the smile in his voice, that made the corners of his own mouth want to turn up in a different way from before. "Friends. Roomies. What would you call it?"

   "Friends will do," he said.

   Gojou's nearness was taking on a life of its own, something warm and weighty that tugged at Hakkai's senses like a magnet. No resisting Gojou when he got like this. It was like being pulled down by a big happy undertow. Still smiling to himself, Hakkai looked down at the ground so as not to meet those persuasive catlike eyes. He reached over and took Gojou's hand instead, and brought it to his face.

   "This smells of you," he said. "You really should wash up after."

   Gojou's fingers uncurled to lie along the length of Hakkai's jaw. His thumb moved over Hakkai's mouth. "No water."

   "You could find some." The thumb slipped inside and Hakkai sucked a little at its fleshy firmness. Tasted more of cigarettes, like this. He nibbled gently.

   "Oi," Gojou said, laughing. "That tickles." He moved closer to Hakkai. "Wanna do it?" he asked in a low voice. "Really? Out here in the open and all?"

   "It's been a while," Hakkai said placidly. "I miss you."

   "Anhh." Gojou's other hand laid itself across Hakkai's buttock, just where Hakkai loved to be touched. He caught his breath and forgot about not looking directly at Gojou. And felt himself going soft and helpless inside, as he always did when he saw Gojou like this. Hard-mouthed hard-drinking two-fisted Sa Gojou, so much the man's man-- Just when he ought to have felt most adult and male, when he got turned on and started coming on to you-- that was when you suddenly saw, under the sexual grin, the face of a child looking out at you. A young child, not much more than eight, standing by the roadside with an armful of flowers, hoping to give them to someone who might want them, hoping someone might want them, ready to say he didn't care if no-one did want them because he'd never had any flowers to give in the first place. That sight undid Hakkai every time, as no doubt it undid the women Gojou looked at like that. That was why he had to put both arms around Gojou and hold him close and kiss his wistful mouth so it would grin a real grin like a kid given the run of the candy store. And feel the grin inside Gojou, all through Gojou's body, as Gojou kissed him back.

    Hakkai laughed a little, softly, in the back of his throat as he and Gojou kissed. Far too long, far too long since they'd done this. The violence of the last six months, the constant youkai attacks, the feel of everything gone wrong in the world and the dark sullen thing that squatted on the horizon of their futures- all that began to slip from him in Gojou's body warmth reaching towards him through his clothes. Gojou backed him against a tree trunk, and that let him arch his spine so he could press his pelvis against Gojou's, hardness to hardness.

   "Umnh," Gojou said deeply, between kisses. "Unh- Hakkai-"

   "Ummhh," Hakkai said back. Mouth to mouth, tongue to tongue, crotch to crotch. Gojou's muscles under his fingers, Gojou's fingers clutching his buttocks. "Unnnhhh--"

   "Hey..." Gojou panted in his ear. "I really want you- you mind...?"

   "Unh-nnh," Hakkai said. Gojou always wanted to be inside him. It had been far too long. Gojou's hands were already unfastening Hakkai's pants. Hakkai pushed them down. Prised off his shoes with his feet and kicked his pants from him, all the while Gojou pressed him back against the rough bark of the tree. Hakkai found the odd lacings of Gojou's pants and undid them, quickly and delicately, as they kissed. They slid down Gojou's legs and Hakkai's hands were free to roam up and down Gojou's torso. Narrow muscled back, slender oddly womanish waist, firm round buttocks. Hakkai ran his hands back up, under Gojou's t-shirt and up to his shoulders, and pressed himself close so he could rub himself against the hardness of Gojou's thigh just as Gojou's hardness was rubbing against his stomach. Gojou began to rock against him.

   "Hakkai... ne, turn around... I gotta..."

   "I don't-- want to," Hakkai said between kisses.

   "Hunh--? Hakkai--" Gojou moaned in agony.

   "I want to be able to see you when we do it. Let's lie down on the ground."

   "Lie down?! It's freezing wet! You'll catch pneumonia--"

   "Yes, but--" He held Gojou away from him with both hands. "Wait--" he said, drawing deep breaths and trying to think.

   "Waaait?" Gojou said pathetically. Hakkai smiled at the tone. He looked up behind him. "Over here should do." He moved a foot to his left around the tree trunk. Gojou, following, had to dodge a low branch that nearly scraped his head.


   "Here." Hakkai reached up and caught hold of the branch in both hands close to the trunk. He swung himself an inch or two off the ground. "How's that?" He brought his legs up to grasp Gojou's ribs.

   "Annhh," Gojou grinned. "You're a genius." He held Hakkai's hips in a strong clasp and tilted him up. "Your arms won't get tired?"

   "No. Hurry, Gojou--"

   "Anhh." Gojou hooked one leg over his shoulder. He took a mouthful of spit and put it on himself. "Sorry-" he said, his hardness pushing up against Hakkai from below. "Hope it's enough--"

   "It's fine," Hakkai assured him, concealing impatience. Consideration was nice in its place, but right now what he wanted was Gojou. He lowered himself the inch or so his arms allowed to press closer to Gojou. Gojou, taking the hint, began to push in. Their eyes watched each other. Hakkai matched his breathing to Gojou's. Push- relax- push- relax- push--

  "Unh," Hakkai said deeply as Gojou came all the way inside him. He closed his eyes, beginning to lose himself in the stretchy pain-pleasure feeling. He groaned again as Gojou began to slide out of him. His head went swimmy and he needed--

   --the hand he didn't have to hold onto himself. He moaned in desperation. Someone- please- Gojou's hand encircled him, hot and wet with sweat, and Hakkai groaned in pleasure and relief. Gojou pumped him in front as Gojou pumped him behind, a double symphony of sensation that took his breath and his sight away. Harder and harder as Gojou's climax approached, harder and hotter and burning as Hakkai's mind emptied of everything, only the feel of Gojou around him in him hard hot burning branding his flesh while universes swam inside him and stars passed before his eyes and galaxies exploded nova from the depths of his belly-

  "Awaugh!" Gojou yelped. THUD. Hakkai fell, entangled with Gojou's arms and legs, onto the forest floor. It was, indeed, freezing cold on his bare skin and very unpleasantly wet.

  "Oh-" Hakkai said. "Oh dear." And contemplated the enormity of what he'd done

  "HAKK-kai," Gojou said direly right in his ear.

  "Annh, sumimasen," Hakkai said, getting himself clear of Gojou and scrambling upright.

  "You LET GO."

  "Anh- yes. I'm sorry. Unh- I hope you were finished?" Hakkai painfully rubbed his scraped backside as he picked up his trousers. Tree bark was surprisingly rough.

  Gojou snorted as he pulled up his pants. "Monkeys fall from the trees, remember?"

  "Hey, who you calling a monkey?!" Gokuu demanded as he walked between the trees. "I don't-- what are you two doing?!"

  Gojou gulped. Hakkai goggled.

  "Uhh- anhh- we--"

  "Hakkai? Why've you got your pants off?"

  "Just relieving nature," Hakkai supplied quickly. "Unh- better go over there if that's why you've come."

  "Here?" Gokuu said in outrage. "It's practically in the open. I hope you buried it properly!"

  "Yes, of course," Hakkai said, smiling wretchedly.

  Gokuu gave them both a disapproving look and waded off between the trees, his back pointedly reminding them of camping etiquette.

  Hakkai sighed. "I'm afraid I've lost face with Gokuu," he said as he did up his trousers.

  Gojou snorted, not ill-humoured. "You coulda told him what we were really doing," he said as he lit a cigarette. "Opened his eyes for him."

   "I think he can figure that out for himself." Sanzou's dry voice spoke from behind a tree off to their left. A plume of cigarette smoke indicated which one. Sanzou turned to look over his shoulder at their frozen forms. "If I can smell it on you from here, be sure he got it double." He came out and walked towards them, dropping his cigarette en route and stepping on it firmly. "When you two monkeys need to relieve nature, how about doing it where no-one's likely to see? Oh- and washing after."

   "No water," Gojou said, refusing to be nonplussed.

   "Then try keeping it in your pants till you've got the water to wash in, erogappa." Sanzou gave him his best shark smile, anger dancing in his eyes. "And remember to sit well to the back of the jeep tonight. I don't want to be getting the whiff of your goat's stink till dawn." He too disappeared off into the trees.

   Shrivelled, Hakkai trudged despondently over to where Jiip was waiting. Gojou fumed silently beside him. Hakkai climbed in the front. Gojou got in the back.

   "Fucking Sanzou-sama," Gojou said at last. "Fucking bouzu. Not normal, that one. Still a virgin, wanna bet? Doesn't understand how real men are."

   "But he was right," Hakkai said repentantly. "We really shouldn't have done that there. It was inconsiderate. Uncivilized."

   "Oh, don't talk like an old woman. Who'd have guessed they'd come tromping in like that? Hell, Sanzou doesn't like it, Sanzou can go take his dump in the other direction. It's not like there isn't enough forest around here for all of us."

   Hakkai didn't answer. There was silence for a bit, as the psychic sense of Gojou's annoyance subsided

   "That was good, though," Gojou said eventually. "Really good."

   "Yes," Hakkai agreed, more cheerfully.

   "Do kinda wish we were back home, still. Now more than ever. Travelling's a pain."

   "Mmh. But if we hadn't been travelling, we'd never have got to do it it in a tree," Hakkai pointed out.

   "Weren't quite in a tree," Gojou said, and at the grin in his voice Hakkai smiled. "Maybe, you know..."

   "Yes, maybe," Hakkai nodded.

   "Some day, right?"

   "We won't be out of these woods for a few days yet," Hakkai said equably.

   "You know, I'm glad I got you for a friend," Gojou said.

   "Me too." Hakkai turned to look at him and they smiled at each other. Gojou leaned back again against Jiip's side, stretching out in the empty back seat. There was a peaceful silence. Hakkai leaned against his seat, thinking of this and that- not unpleasant things at all. His eyes began to close.

   Gojou's voice came through the dark, low-pitched.

   "Oi, Hakkai."


   "Taking their time, aren't they?"

   Hakkai opened startled eyes, calculating by his internal clock. "Ah," he said after a moment. "Yes, they are. Do you think--"

   "Hnph." Gojou sounded deeply satisfied. "Gonna have a word with Sanzou-sama, he comes back."


   "You think the chimp's gonna clean up after? On a night like this? In the middle of the woods? No way."


   "I'll give him goat stink." Gojou yawned widely. "I'll give him monkey stink. You wait till they get back."

    Oh dear, Hakkai sighed to himself. But as it happened, both of them were sound asleep long before Sanzou and Gokuu returned to the jeep.





April 2001