'If you meet the Buddha on the road...'
In which Gokuu learns of Nonattachment
Sanzou woke into calm blue contentment, feeling like he'd slept for days. A long long space of time seemed to stand between himself and whatever he'd been doing yesterday, whenever yesterday had been. His forgotten dreams gave him a vague comfortable impression that he'd been somewhere else dealing with different people. It was like having been away on vacation, a pleasant separation from the ordinary. Somewhere in his body there were obscure aches and pains, which might bother him when he was awake enough to notice them, but he wasn't that yet. And there was a breathing warmth at his back, comforting and reassuring, with a hand on his arm as he lay on his side.
"Gojou?" he said, eyes still closed.
"No. It's me."
"Gokuu?" His voice went up in surprise. Opened his eyes to unfamiliarity- brown walls, a wooden doorframe, vague daylight from some source behind him. "How--"
The hand disappeared from his side. "We fell asleep over the game. Hakkai woke me up and Gojou got you into bed."
"Anh." The game. That mahjong game. Memory began tiptoeing back.
"He's in the other room."
"So why're you here?" In my bed...
"Because I wanted to be," Gokuu said. Simple statement, take it or leave it. Sanzou blinked at the brown wall of the inn. It was coming back to him. What had happened. Kamisama- Kamisama's castle- and the nightmare interval after that, and-- that long long mahjong game, and Gokuu saying- Gokuu saying--
What's wrong with wanting to be alive? It's normal, isn't it? I'm not saying stay alive at any cost, I'm not saying there's anything wonderful about that, but--
--we do things *our* way, not *his*.
Sanzou turned onto his back, carefully after the first movement as his cracked and bound ribs shrieked at him. Turned his head to look at Gokuu. Felt something odd hurting him, around the same place as his broken rib, but quite different.
"Anh," he said, and looked back up at the ceiling.
...a kid. Just a kid. A stupid kid, dumb, wide-eyed and witless. And this was what had been calling him all these months? This was what he'd searched so long to find? That voice had become a part of his head, a presence on its own, irritating and dependable. When he lay down at night, gun in hand and instincts tuned to wake him at the merest footfall of night-walking thief or boy-fancying bravo, the voice kept him company. When he woke alone, as he always woke alone, the voice was there to greet him. It angered him, and his anger gave him the strength he needed so badly, and his strength gave him a purpose- find that voice and shut its owner up for good. But this-- was just a kid.
A hungry kid who never stopped eating. A belligerent kid who talked back and argued and whined at him. A bigger kid who loved to fight, a rambunctious teenager growing into and out of his strength, with too much energy to ever stop for a minute and think. An adolescent whose feelings ran away with him, who showed everything in his face and said everything that came into his head, and who fretted and worried by Sanzou's bedside when he thought Sanzou was unconscious and didn't know he was doing it.
"Seven years, isn't it?" Sanzou said.
"Mh? Oh, since we met? Yeah."
"Feels like forever."
You there always. Familiar as my right hand. So much a part of the day's ins and outs I never even think about you. Gokuu, always there- hungry or complaining or whatever- as little noticed as the air I breathe. Until something happens one day to make me look at my hand as if I'd never seen it before, and say It's different. It's changed. Changed to this.
Warm at my back. Holding me in his sleep.
"Oi, saru," he said, not looking at him.
"What's the idea?"
He heard Gokuu's troubled indrawn breath.
"I don't know how to say it." Not resentful at Sanzou asking, not defensive like he should have been, just mulling over the fact of not having the words. And yes, it hurt, for no good reason, hearing the new settled tone under the uncertainty. Bakazaru, where've you gotten to?
"Just say it," Sanzou told him, aware of tension in his gut.
"Nh." Gokuu collected himself, squaring his shoulders even though he was lying down. "At the temple, right? The other monks- some of them, you know? They had their boys. Living with them." He fell silent.
"So?"- not making it any easier for him. It wasn't fair to test him like this, Sanzou knew that. Adulthood always came gradually, one step forward and two steps back, like wading into an unknown stream with uncertain footing. Pushed too far- maybe pushed at all- and Gokuu would turn back into the kid he'd been a week or so ago. But still-
Gokuu took another deep breath. "I'd like to be your boy."
"You want to bend over and stick your ass out for me? You want me to shove my cock up your butt?"
Gokuu gulped. "Yeah."
Amazing, how strong the temptation was. Snap at him, jeer at him, hit him even. Make him angry so they could go back to the way it'd always been-- Gokuu whining and defensive, Sanzou snarly and aloof. He could do it, and he knew he could do it. Keep my idiot monkey with me for just a little bit longer. But he wasn't going to. Not because he was wise and unselfish. He gave a mental snort. Hardly that. Not because he wasn't asshole enough to think Genjou Sanzou could step into the stream and tell the water to stop flowing. Not even because he knew he wouldn't be able to look Hakkai in the face afterwards if he did it, even though Hakkai would never find out about this little piece of cowardice. None of that. It was because the doctrine of nonattachment was practically a part of his flesh now, and he refused to be held by an attachment as false as this- to a past that was ending and to a Gokuu who was turning into someone else. Let nothing bind you, but go forward on your own way...
He could feel the churning feelings happening inside Gokuu.
"You don't do that?" Gokuu asked.
"I don't do that."
"You don't- like it?" The question unspoken behind that- you don't want me?
"Nothing to do with liking. That's how a Sanzou passes the title on."
"Enh--!! **Maji**??" Finally Gokuu was sounding like himself. Sanzou's lips twitched.
"Serious." And remembered briefly that long-ago night, torn between shame and anger and sweetness unbearable; and the strangest kind of regret at this irreversible ending of what had been, because he knew nothing of the more hideous ending that was to come just before dawn.
"Besides," he said, looking at the ceiling, "you're not a boy any more."
"Yeah- well- but-" Gokuu floundered. "Gojou isn't a boy either- and you..." He stopped.
"That's right. I do. And what do you think I do with Gojou?"
"Uh. Oh. He does it to you?"
Silence a long moment. Sanzou waited, aware of hoping but with no idea what he was hoping for.
"You'd let-- me-- do that to you?"
"If you're gentle," Sanzou said with asperity. "And careful of my ribs." His eyes slid over and met Gokuu's- large, golden as ever, huge with amazement but also with thoughts moving in their depths like the shadows of fish at the bottom of a pond. Gokuu thinking, and for once thinking something Sanzou couldn't guess. Regret washed him again, briefly and shallowly, the last vanishing wave of it. He gave Gokuu a wry smile.
You. The one I don't have to think about. The one always here. Become like a part of me when I wasn't noticing, so close I can't even have feelings about you. The others are other, but you're just- here. Easy enough, surely, to make the two of us into one?
Gokuu started to smile back, the sun coming up in his eyes. Oh, yes, he knew. He knew how it was alright. But almost at once that inner knowledge was overrun by a wave of excitement, the shattering adolescent eagerness of someone facing his first time and not believing his luck. Sanzou wanted to laugh at the look on Gokuu's face, but the first movements of it hurt his ribs and he choked it.
"Get the cream," he said.
"Bakazaru," Sanzou said, testy. "Cream. You're not taking me dry."
"Uhh- OK." He hesitated. "Uhh- why not?"
"Because it'd skin you raw and make me bleed."
"Oh." Gokuu patently filed the information away for future reference. "Umm- and where is it?"
Patience, patience. You knew you were dealing with a virgin when you said yes. But damn, couldn't Hakkai or Gojou have told him the facts of life and made it simple for me? And thought right after, they probably did. Just the wrong facts of life. And for no earthly reason, that struck him as very funny too.
"In my bag. Anything slippery will do."
Gokuu got off the bed and went over to rummage in the corner.
"Mmh-hmm. Now get us undressed and get it on you."
Gokuu managed the task of getting Sanzou's jeans off tidily enough, ripped off his own and put the cream on his hard-on. He got on to the bed and knelt by Sanzou.
"Alright," Sanzou said. "I'm lying on my side for this. You'll-" He stopped. Gokuu was staring at Sanzou's body, eyes enormous, and gulping a little.
"Sanzou," he said. "Sanzou--"
Boys from the men? Not ready for this, saru?
"I-- " Gokuu looked at Sanzou with a churning misery in his face.
"No!! Of course I don't--" He stopped. There was silence. "It'll be all different, if I do. It won't be the same any more. You and me."
"It's already all different," Sanzou told him. "You know that. There's no going back now, for any of us."
"Yes- but--" Gokuu wavered, body clearly telling him one thing and mind trying to tell him another. Body would win pretty soon, because it always did, but it'd leave Gokuu unhappy afterwards. Well, tough. Reality always hurt. Gain something and you lose something as payment. Sanzou watched Gokuu's struggle in silence. Another one I learned younger than him. If he's a man, he'll manage this himself. No-one helped *me* through it. And having given his spirit its piece of flesh, he threw out a lifeline to Gokuu.
"Mu-ichimotsu," he said. "'Be attached to nothing, be held by nothing, but boldly follow--.'
"That's crap," Gokuu said. "I never believed that for a second. I just didn't want to tell you."
Sanzou goggled. Then, because he wasn't a total asshole, he turned on his side first so it wouldn't hurt so much, and shook uncontrollably.
"Sanzou!" Gokuu was fluttering above him in something that sounded like panic. "Sanzou- are you OK? Sanzou- say something!"
"Stop shaking me, bakame. That *hurts*."
"Uh--? Oh. Sorry." Gokuu let go of Sanzou's arm. "Are you- does it hurt?"
"Only when I laugh." He registered Gokuu's affronted expression and suppressed another wave of laughter. "Listen. That bastard got it half right. I've been too attached, and we know where that got us."
"No!" Gokuu said at once. "That's not true. Things do matter. I tried to tell you-"
"Will you shut up and let me finish, asshole?!"
"You're right," Sanzou said more calmly. "Of course you're right. Things do matter. Some things. Not all. You have to choose." He looked at him under his eyebrows to be sure he got the point. "So which is more important to you- the way it was before, or the way it'll be from now on? And if you say the first," he added at once, "you can just crawl back into that cave of yours and put the chains back on your legs." And why do I have to keep telling people that one?
"OK," Gokuu said. "OK. But--" He gave Sanzou the oddest smile, happy and sad both together, and so adult it hurt to look at. "---it was nice. Being your bakazaru."
"Yeah," Sanzou said after a moment. "It was nice." He reached a hand up and ran his fingers through Gokuu's thick hair. Without knowing how, the gesture became him pulling Gokuu's head down towards him. And then before he had time to think, Gokuu's mouth was on his own. Sanzou froze in surprise. Gokuu's impossibly soft lips kissed him, unpractised and naïve, not even trying to use his tongue. Warm, firm, wonderful- a touch that shouldn't be feeling as good as it did, couldn't be-- He heard himself making little whimpery sounds in the back of his throat nnh nh nnnhhh but he couldn't give voice to them because he needed his mouth for what Gokuu was doing to it. His lips moved under Gokuu's, Gokuu's mouth moved over his own, he couldn't believe how- how- intimate that little touch felt, more than anything he'd ever done in his life. As if this was where his sex really was, with all the pleasure nerves concentrated in this one utterly unexpected spot. He held Gokuu's head with his one arm as their mouths moved together and it was amazing- wonderful- if only his cock would stop yelling and trying to grab his attention away---
He moaned in frustration; tried to open his legs wide enough for Gokuu to get between them, but his ribs flamed pain at the movement. He couldn't possibly take Gokuu's weight on his body, let alone get both legs up-- Gokuu took his mouth away, leaving him suddenly and amazingly desolate. Looked down at him with worry.
"I'm hurting y--"
"No- but--" Sanzou's mind thrashed in its dilemma, not helped by his cock and a few other parts of him making their own voices heard. No choice. He'd have to let Gokuu's mouth go for the moment. "You'll have to do it from below. I can't bend."
Sanzou got himself settled firmly on his side, where his cracked rib was most comfortable. Twisted his lower body flat as he could and raised one leg to rest across Gokuu's shoulder.
"Can you reach me like that?" It was going to hurt, this position, with someone who'd never done it before. Well, too bad. He wanted Gokuu, and the time was now.
"Yeah- OK-" Gokuu's eyes were wide with concentration as he crouched by the fork of Sanzou's body. One hot dry hand took hold of Sanzou's buttock and held it apart. And then he was there, pushing at Sanzou's asshole, blindly and clumsily thrusting his way in. Sanzou bit his tongue at the initial pain. He was in that separate place in his mind, away from his body for the moment until it was safe to come back, watching his partner's-- watching Gokuu's face with an odd detachment. Gokuu's eyes that couldn't get any bigger had gotten bigger. His mouth was tight, a little desperate, head trying to stay in control while cock threatened to take everything away.
"Sanzou--" he gasped. "Sanzou- I- Sanzou- is it--"
"It's OK," Sanzou said from his vantage point. "Don't fight it, saru. Just let go." The warm feel-good feeling was running up his spine and pulling him back to himself- filled up filled up not empty any more- pulling him back into his body with its stiff happy cock and the stiff hard fullness up his butt and Gokuu arched above him almost within reach but not quite, not this time. Sanzou grabbed the pillow to hold onto instead of Gokuu, keeping his head still turned to watch Gokuu's face that filled all the space in his vision as Gokuu filled all the space inside him. Gokuu's upper body quivered a little back and forth, but the rest was rock-still as if he'd stopped the movement at his waist for fear of hurting Sanzou.
"Move," Sanzou told him. And Gokuu moved.
And after that there was nothing Sanzou could put any words to, only sensation with random emotions flashing in the middle of it. Painpleasure and satisfaction and the sweet half-panic of arousal and impending orgasm, and burning in back drowned out by throbbing in front and Gokuu's huge yellow eyes blazing that Sanzou seemed never to have seen before playing with fire you knew that all along you've always known what he was and far away when the explosion happened that catapulted him into darkness was a single thought distant and sharp as a star, a pin-prick of amazement so this is Gokuu too.
He was awake. He was back in his body, and his body badly needed a wash, but not yet. Gokuu was folded around him, asleep. The way he always slept when the controls were put back on him, fathoms deep. Sanzou didn't need to hold him because Gokuu was holding Sanzou, even drowned in sleep as he was. Sanzou moved an arm and his fingers found Gokuu's hair at about the level of his own collarbone.
Mine, he thought distantly, with an odd wonder. Mine, the way my hands and my eyes are mine. 'Mine', at last. The word I never used, because naming a thing mine attaches me to it, and my goal has been to be attached to nothing. But Genjou Sanzou has finally achieved satori- over a game of mahjong, no less- and renounced attachment to nonattachment. Now I choose to be held by that which holds me. And so?
It didn't feel at all as he'd thought it would. What it felt like- what it felt like- It felt like something collapsing upon him, heavy and dangerous, a mountain crumbling slowly above his head. Sanzou caught his breath in surprise. And then it was there around him, the dull grinding terror that had backgrounded his early youth. When he'd been alone in a universe that hated him. When every man he met was out to take something from him- his money, his ass, his life- unless Sanzou shot them first. When he could have died of simple soul-sickness except that he wasn't going to; he was going to live, though there was nothing to live for.
The oppression weighed on him like lead. What's that doing here again? Fear was something he'd refused to feel so persistently and for so long that he thought it had left him ages ago, like a stubborn suitor who finally gives up. And here it was, pounding on his door again. Anger sprang up, as it always did, the good watchdog that kept him safe. Sanzou stopped. Calmed the feeling with difficulty. Anger hadn't served him very well with Kamisama. Hadn't served him at all. Bunch of broken ribs and his pride in tatters and that was it.
What's that doing here? He stood still and let the fear get nearer, close enough to see its face. Blinked in surprise at what it turned out to be.
He can leave. He can go. What is there to keep him? As long as I was shoving him away he had something to stay for. And now---
Having means losing. Have nothing, you can't lose it. Call it mine and you face the possibility-- Saw moonlight on tatami. Saw blood that looked black in that iron light. Saw impossibly an arm falling all alone to the ground. Panic. The foundation of the earth crumbling beneath him- gone. He was standing on thin air and pretending it was the earth and solid enough to bear his weight when he knew perfectly well that it wasn't. He fought to get his breathing even, fought to assert his Self over that nightmare of loss. Made a space in the darkness and held on tightly to the knowledge of the man he was now.
I am I. I am Genjou Sanzou. I am held by that which holds me, but-- But I will not be attached to the attachment itself. His mind considered the paradox, turning it like a ball in his hand. He knew somehow that whatever safety lay in the universe lay in that. 'The ties that bind you do not bind you to the ties.' That felt right, even if his brain didn't grasp the whole of it yet. Well, it could be his koan for the next little while. If he stays, he stays. If he goes, he goes. What is, is, and what will be, will be. Sanzou's breathing slowed and the world returned finally to normal. Normal was him in his body, that ached in various places as he lay on his side, with Gokuu's sleeping weight curled about him and Gokuu's breath a little ticklish on his chest.
I won't try to keep him with me, at any cost, if he starts to pull away. And- his mouth twitched sardonically, acknowledging his other weakness- I won't try to drive him away if he starts to get too near. That's the way *I* practise nonattachment. I am Genjou Sanzou Houteishi and I do things *my* way.
Got it in one, saru.