The Japanese word for substitute is written with the characters for 'body' and 'take the place of'
Gojou ran through the downpour, getting soaked to the skin before he was a block from Meilin's place. Didn't matter. Gojou felt so warm and good that the rain was probably just evaporating right off him. He'd spent the afternoon in bed with Meilin, rolling around on top of her firm bouncy body, and coming happily, and falling asleep for a bit, and waking again with her little lips nibbling at his ear and her clever little tongue slipping inside it, making him giggle and shiver at the same time, and grabbing her and doing it all over again, and again, and again-- It seemed like he'd had a hard-on most of the afternoon without any of the discomfort that usually went with it. Meilin had to be god's gift to mankind, a woman who just liked sex and was good at it. Better than good. They'd still be at it if she hadn't had to get dressed and go to work.
"Tell them you can't come," Gojou'd said, not wanting the evening to end at seven o'clock.
"Can't," she said practically. "Rent's due next week."
He'd lain smoking in the sweaty sex-smelling sheets while she got into one of her slit silk dresses and fixed her hair.
"Hey- you gonna be able to do it again after an afternoon like this?" he'd asked, wondering. He didn't think he'd be able to get it up for a client now, supposing he had clients.
"Sure, honey. I'm ready to go all night." She pursed her mouth in the mirror, putting on lipstick. "You know what they say- ain't no woman wants it as bad as one who's just had it."
"Heeinh," Gojou said enviously. "Nice for some people."
She gave him a grin. "You weren't so ready to stop fifteen minutes ago."
"That's cause you inspire me, doll." He got up and kissed the back of her neck, and his body gave him little encourage me and I might think about it tingles. But she pushed him away, matter-of-fact.
"Don't muss my hair, Gojou." She stood up and stepped into her heels. "C'mon, lover boy, out we go."
"Aww, have a heart. It's pissing rain," he said pathetically. "I'll stay here tonight."
"I'm going to want a nice relaxing bath and a nice long sleep when I get in tomorrow morning, and I won't get either if you're around." She was opening her large oilpaper umbrella, but she gave him an indulgent grin as she did it.
"Ohh- Meanie," Gojou complained, shoving his feet into his sandals. "Tomorrow afternoon OK?"
"Let me see about it. I've got some shopping to do. You do make a girl forget she's got a life, lover."
"Hey, my specialty." He walked her across the street, sharing her umbrella, and half a block down to the saloon. He kissed her outside the swinging doors and saw her enter into the bright gaslight and the noise and the smell of tobacco. Half-thought about going in too, but figured- nahh, it'd ruin the mood he was in, all those loud types in there. A nice evening at home felt more what he wanted- whatever Hakkai had cooked for dinner and the sports paper and maybe a game of cards or something. He grinned and started running home through the rain, splashing through the puddles deliberately. Hey, the world was a great place to live in.
He banged into their one-room apartment. "Tadaima," he said, and stood in the genkan shaking his short hair like a dog. Hakkai was at the kitchen table with a book.
"O-kaeri," he said, with a startled look. "Oh my, Gojou, you're soaking--"
"Yeah, it's pouring buckets out there." He walked into the room stripping sodden clothes off him as he went. Hakkai got up automatically and picked them up after him.
"You'd better get into the shower," he advised. "A really hot one. You'll catch your death of cold."
"Yeah, shower it is," Gojou agreed, and vanished into the bathroom. He took a long long one, water as hot as he could stand it, and let his mind go blank as it pounded over him. Meilin- those lovely little tits of hers- that nice round little belly he liked to bounce against when he was on top- and the way she bounced up and down when she was on top of him, bottom firm as a rubber ball... He was getting hard again, and he considered a fast jerk-off here in the shower. But no, save it for bedtime, it'd be even better then. He switched his mind to other things, like the races- and he'd had something riding on the three o'clock, he should check that out. The horse was a long-shot but Gojou'd heard the smart money said it was going to win. He might have got himself a nice little bundle there.
He turned off the water, fast-towelled himself dry and wandered out into the room. Right by the bathroom door was a pair of his old jeans and a clean t-shirt. Honestly, Hakkai thought of everything. There was a great smell in the air of beef and vegetables, and over at the table a place was set for him and Hakkai was ladling the stew out into his bowl.
"Mmm, smells good," Gojou said. "Where's the paper?"
"On the dresser," Hakkai said. Gojou went over and got it, folding it to the racing page and the late-return results. He came back and propped the paper up while he scanned the columns.
"Something interesting?" Hakkai asked in his soft voice.
"Mn- yeah." The three o'clock- Big Blue to win, Golightly to place and Tigerlily to show. Damn. Fancypants had come in eighth of fourteen. Oh well. So much for that hot tip.
"What is it?"
"Anh- nothing." Gojou spooned his stew. And who won the fifth race? Brave Warrior. Hmmm... Winning a lot lately, that one. Maybe worth keeping an eye on.
"Is it alright?" Hakkai asked.
"Hunh?" Oh, the stew. "Yeah. Just fine. There any beer?"
Hakkai went and got him a can. "Thanks," Gojou said absently, deep in the shuchu scores. He ate and drank and read through an account of a skirmish between shuchu rowdies over an unpopular call. He finished his bowl, sat back and wiped his mouth. Hakkai was still sitting across from him, above the book he didn't seem to be reading. He was watching Gojou with an oddly anxious look in his eyes.
"Go-chisou-sama," Gojou grinned at him. "That was good." Hakkai gave a small smile. Well, no problem telling him he was a good cook, because he was. And realized--
"How come you're not eating?"
"I ate already. I wasn't expecting you back tonight."
"Ahh, well. She had to work. Too bad." He took the rest of his beer and the paper over to the bed, flopped down comfortably, and started reading about their town's prospects in the boat races next month. Not good. Heinnh, bunch of wimps around here, nothing but. He finished the beer and looked up. Hakkai was immersed in his book again, bent over it with his forehead propped on his hands, poring over the page. That bad eye of his- meant he had to read books close up, poor bastard. Gojou got up and got another beer from the fridge, and went back to the bed to read through the hentai section. Story about someone getting to do it with one of those fancy society dames in a mink coat who was apparently randy as a raccoon when you got her clothes off. Gojou snorted. Yeah, sure.
The room was silent except for the steady thud of the rain on the roof, the heavy all-night rain of September; and below that the little hum of the fridge and the occasional rattle of the newspaper as Gojou turned it to read the lower part of the page. This one was about a guy waking up to find the neighbour's juicy seventeen-year-old daughter has slipped into his bed and is giving him head. Yeah, sure. Well, fun to read, but never nearly as good as real life. Though Gojou supposed there were guys who had to read this stuff cause they never got any in real life, poor shits. Gojou got up and went to take a leak, washed his hands because Hakkai would say something if he didn't, and came back into the kitchen. Hakkai didn't look up from his book. Must be really fascinating, or fascinating to Hakkai at least. Gojou filled the kettle to make coffee and put it on the stove. Something niggled at the back of his mind. He turned on the burner. It made a little fumpf sound as the gas lit. He hadn't heard Hakkai turn the page once in all the time he'd been reading.
Gojou's eyes slid over to him. He was sitting exactly as before, perched on the edge of his chair and bent over his book, face hidden by the bridge of his hands as they supported his forehead. His clenched hands whose knuckles showed white. Gojou turned the burner off.
"Oi," he said in a low voice. Hakkai jumped as if shot. His face came up, blank and panicked for a split second before the usual smile relaxed it.
"Oh, you startled me," he said. "Don't make me jump like--" He stopped as his eyes met Gojou's. The little smile faded and vanished from Hakkai's mouth. Above it his eyes were the same ones that had looked up at Gojou from the muddy ground three months ago, the ones that said Somebody kill me.
Shit, Gojou thought. He put a hand on Hakkai's shoulder. It was stiff as a board and jerked a little under Gojou's touch. Bad, this was bad. Gojou reached a long leg back of Hakkai and sat down behind him on the chair seat, feeling Hakkai's startled breath as he did so and Hakkai's back rigid against his chest. He put both arms around Hakkai in front and Hakkai's arms came up almost like a reflex to cover them.
"Gojou," Hakkai said. He closed his eyes. "I- really I'm--"
Panicky, his body, too tense, quivering a little deep inside as if ready to run. Like a woman who thought she wanted to do it but then gets scared halfway through. Gojou did what he always did with that kind, relaxed his own body, made his mind go blank and warm, thought Safe Warm Solid Steady it's OK it's good to be here because it was always easier to convince someone's body than their brain. After a minute Hakkai began to relax a little against Gojou. He gave a painful smile.
"I'm just no good on rainy nights," he said softly.
"I feel like something terrible will happen any minute. Like I'm waiting for the axe to fall." A little shaking went through him.
"Mmhh." Gojou went on holding him. Warm safe it's OK here, he thought. "You shoulda told me it was this bad."
"I didn't know how. I don't suppose you ever feel this way yourself?" Hakkai was still smiling as if it hurt.
"Not really." Waiting for the axe to fall. In that dark room that smelled of dust and cold and places shut away from the sun- Gojou could see it all quite clearly, the oak floor with the little worm holes in it and the dark carved mantling below the cream walls and the heavy old sideboards while he'd waited for the axe to fall. "Not exactly. Times, yeah, I need someone to get me through the night so I can forget things..." Needed. "Funny. Not recently, really. Not for a while."
"Ah? But you stay out a lot."
"Yeah. Well, I know some nice girls these days. Guess I finally figured what a drag it is doing it with someone you don't much like."
"Mh." Hakkai's arms still rested on top of Gojou's, hugging them to his chest. Maybe this was the point when he ought to say You feeling better now? and start letting Hakkai go. But he didn't think he was going to. Letting Hakkai go just didn't feel right. Or safe.
"You don't really know what I'm talking about, do you?" he asked Hakkai.
"No." And that was what he'd figured.
"Your sister was it?"
"Y'know, Hakkai, you really ought to get yourself someone--" He stopped, because Hakkai was shaking his head silently.
"Annhh." There wasn't anything he could say to that. He'd never known whatever it was Hakkai had. Didn't know what it did to you afterwards.
"Still, you should get out more," he went on. "You stay in all day, every day, cooped up here, so naturally you get a bit---" He bit his tongue on the word. "Nervous, you know? It's not healthy. You should come down to the bar at least. Or, well-" Bars didn't seem to be Hakkai's thing. "Maybe- you know- the library or something like that?"
"I do," Hakkai said expressionlessly. "I go out. But every time I come back I keep thinking I'll find the door off its hinges and the place ransacked and you gone. And every time I find the apartment exactly as I left it, I feel as if I've been reprieved. Until next time."
"Hey," Gojou said. "It's not going to happen. You know that. No-one's taking me anywhere. Even if I might wander off for a few days on my own, you know?" He freed a hand and put it on Hakkai's shoulder and rubbed him a bit for comfort, or to comfort Hakkai, whichever. And saw, down the length of that cold dark room, the door opening onto the sun outside and the only person in the world walking away from him in silence, back turned on him forever. Like that. He caught his breath in shock and pain, and Hakkai half-turned to look at him.
"Hakkai--" He took a deep breath. "I wouldn't do that. Walk out on you. Not without telling you where I was going. OK?"
"Mh-hn." Only of course Gojou almost never did tell Hakkai where he was going. Didn't think he was interested. Oh shit. That's what it was like? Gone... gone... just that one word taking him straight back seven years to the worst day of his life. The door standing open on nothing and nothing left in the cold house but himself and his mother's body and the blood drying on the floor.
"You're right," he said. "Rainy nights suck." He held on to Hakkai tighter.
"Hey," he said, not even thinking who he was saying it to, just that it was what he always said when he felt bad as this. "Come to bed with me."
"Gojou--?" Hakkai sounded both stunned and uncertain. No wonder. He couldn't believe he'd said it himself.
"It's one of those nights." Gone, never coming back. Gave me my life and wouldn't stay to see me through it. "Better not to think. Better to have someone in bed with you, keep yourselves busy with other stuff." His hand reached between Hakkai's legs like he'd reach between his own, just for the comforting feel of it; found Hakkai's cock in the tightness of Hakkai's jeans and stroked him gently, persuasively, through the thick material. Hakkai's breath caught in his throat.
"Gojou--" he said, and then "Yes. Let's." Not a good kind of yes, that. A sad make-me-forget yes like he sometimes heard from women who'd been dumped by a man, and it wasn't the best way to do it, he knew that too, because a woman who'd think that wasn't able to forget and would be remembering all along who you weren't. But Hakkai- Hakkai was a man, and maybe it was different?
"Hakkai--" he said. "I can't be- a replacement. For her. Can't do much more than get you through the night. We're just pals." He stopped, not certain what to say next.
"Just getting through the night is enough," Hakkai said.
"No. I mean, yeah." He gave Hakkai a hug. "C'mon."
They got up. Gojou pulled the string of the overhead light as they passed, sending them into half-darkness except for the fluorescent blue of the street light that came through the frosted glass of the window. Gojou stripped off, dropping his clothes anywhere. Dimly he saw Hakkai taking off his pants, pulling off his socks. He put an arm around Hakkai's naked back and felt him unexpectedly warm and solid in the gloom. A body, like any other body in the night. Hakkai leaned in to him a bit and Gojou held him like that in both arms. Tall, practically as tall as he was. Funny, not having to stoop. All hard and flat, and that was strange too, but still- warm and alive and that was what he wanted. He found Hakkai's mouth and kissed him, and a good thing there wasn't any light cause he couldn't stand to see himself kissing a guy, not that this was a guy exactly, it was Hakkai with a soft mouth and soft lips almost as nice as a woman's. Hakkai wasn't kissing him back, but he wasn't resisting either, and there was something about his passivity that said Go on, keep doing it. And what with Hakkai's length and warmth and the warmth of his mouth all happening together, Gojou's cock stuck its head out a little, hopefully, as if to say Hey, we gonna play, you're gonna play with me?
"Mh," Gojou said, mouth tasting Hakkai's. "Bed."
They fell down onto it and wriggled themselves under the covers. Hakkai's long hard length pressed against his. Hakkai's long hard arms were wrapped about his back. No softness anywhere there, no fullness, all hard like Jien lifting him into the air under his armpits and swinging him around while he shrieked in pleasure and clung to Jien's neck feeling the hard muscles of his brother's chest under his own small body Jien carrying him home on his back half-asleep at the end of a long day warm and hard and strong the shoulders that he leaned against and the arms crossed under his butt
"Mh?" Hakkai inquired, feeling Gojou's stillness.
"Nothing." He ran his hand down the length of Hakkai's side, feeling the bones hard under the skin. Down to where the sharpness of Hakkai's hip stopped his hand and then backwards, and there at least was something that felt familiar, the solid swell of Hakkai's small buttocks. He slipped his hand down back of them and between Hakkai's legs, but there was nothing else he was used to feeling there- just the bulk of Hakkai's balls, and no friendly warm place for his fingers to slip into. There was no way inside Hakkai at all except for (that), and he wasn't going to think about (that) because that was a total turn-off. So, well, so, there was Hakkai's cock unmoving between Hakkai's legs, and at least he could do something about that.
"Hey- lemme get down here a minute-" He made to free himself of Hakkai's arms, but they tightened about his back.
"Don't," Hakkai said in his quiet voice. "Stay here with me."
"Hey, sure." Gojou snuggled closer to him. "This all you want to do? I don't mind doing other stuff---"
"It's alright." The words said nothing but the tension in Hakkai's body said Don't leave me.
"Anh. OK." He put his arms around Hakkai and held him close. Nuzzled his ear a bit. Let his hands wander back down to Hakkai's butt hard and firm like the best kind of breast. He felt over the two rounded mounds while Hakkai's legs held him in front, and his cock liked all that, Hakkai's ass in his hands and Hakkai's smooth legs rubbing against him in front. The feel of all that was making him nice and hard. He found Hakkai's mouth again and started kissing him deliberately, and it was nice, yeah, nice, really nice... for him...
"Hey," he said, letting go of Hakkai's mouth. "Isn't there something I can do?"
"It's alright," Hakkai said again. The dark eyes met his in the bluish dimness. Hakkai gave him his little smile. "No need to look so worried. This is fine."
"Yeah but--" Gojou's hand slipped over the softness of Hakkai's cock.
"I don't," Hakkai said. "Not now. That's over."
"Oh," Gojou said, stricken by the settled tone. That's what love does to you? Can't be worth it, can't possibly. "But- hey, y'know- this was supposed to take your mind off things."
"It does. This is- quite comfortable." He pushed his face against Gojou's neck.
'Comfortable,' Gojou thought, feeling sad. But, well, if that was all he could do for Hakkai then that was all he could do. But he pulled Hakkai even closer, pulled Hakkai's leg up and over his own thigh, and slid a little in and out of the narrow space between Hakkai's legs. At least they could be close. Hakkai's mouth began to work gently against the side of Gojou's neck and up to his jaw. Gojou started giving little nhh sounds of pleasure. Not what he was used to, but not bad either.
"Gojou," Hakkai's voice said low in his ear.
"Do me a favour?"
"Mhh- sure. Anything," Gojou said as his hips moved back and forth.
"Enh!?" Gojou's movement stopped abruptly and his head jerked back. "Take--?" He stared at Hakkai in shock. Hakkai looked back at him. His eyes had that unreadable little look Gojou sometimes saw in there, the one that reminded him that there were areas of Cho Hakkai he knew nothing about and probably wouldn't understand if he did. "You gotta be joking," he said.
"You want--" He couldn't say it. He patted Hakkai's butt.
"I've never done it."
"Yes, I know."
"It'll hurt you." Hakkai didn't seem to be getting the message.
"Yes, I know."
There was silence. All he could see were Hakkai's eyes in front of his, looking at him levelly, unmoved.
"I don't want to," Gojou said.
"Yes. I know."
"I'm sorry," Hakkai said, softly, unmovably.
Gojou stared at him helplessly, thinking I just don't want to.
"Please," Hakkai said, with his little smile. Like it was nothing at all- please pass the bread. Please shove your cock in my butthole. The picture flashed into his head, making him a little sick, but Gojou's cock jumped up like it thought it was a really great idea, like it'd just seen a flash of crotch as someone's skirt blew up. Yeah oh yeah and rarin' to go. Jeez, Gojou thought, distracted, who's in charge here?
"Mnh?" Hakkai said, and his fingers grazed the head of Gojou's cock ever so delicately, making his hardon permanent. Oh yeah oh yeah let's do it!! his cock said.
Gojou took a deep breath, trying to get in control. "You gotta do this?" he asked. He caught hold of Hakkai's terrible hand and pulled it up away from his cock. Hakkai's hand flattened against his, palm to palm, and Hakkai's fingers slipped between his own.
"I'd like to," Hakkai said, and bent his head to kiss Gojou's fingers one by one.
"Why??" Gojou asked, trying not to feel the warm wet softness of Hakkai's lips on his skin, reminding him too much of the other warm wet softness his fingers were used to feeling in bed.
Hakkai didn't answer.
"Okay," Gojou said, giving in. He pushed Hakkai away and sat up. "But I'm using a condom." At least keep clean.
Gojou went and fished the spare out of his wallet and came back to the bed. He got the condom on himself, wondering what the confused thing was he was feeling, if his cock would just let him think straight. He thought he was angry only somehow it felt more like sad instead.
"OK," he said over his shoulder to Hakkai. "Bend over or whatever you're gonna do."
"I'd like to be on my back," Hakkai said. "So I can look at you."
"Hunh?? How? That's impossible."
"Surely-- if I bend my legs back- couldn't you reach me then?" Hakkai lay back on the bed, against the pillows. "At least let's try."
"God--" Gojou climbed over and knelt between Hakkai's legs. Thank god I can't see too clearly. Hakkai tilted his pelvis and pulled both legs up and back. 'He just needs to bend a bit more, maybe,' Gojou thought. He hooked Hakkai's narrow legs over his shoulders and pushed them higher so Hakkai's hips came off the mattress. Just a bit farther back than with a woman... Light dawned.
"Hakkai," he said, "look- you're not a woman. Just because of, you know- that." Hakkai was silent. "Every guy gets that, some time or another. Just, no-one talks about it."
"I know," Hakkai said. His hands circled the back of Gojou's neck. Gojou caught the little sadness in his face, that was always there when he didn't smile to cover it.
"So you don't have to do this, right? There's other stuff we can do--"
"I know. But this is what I want to do." His arms tightened around Gojou's neck, inviting him nearer.
Hakkai was too warm, too close. Gojou's cock told him to stop talking and do what Hakkai wanted. Gojou felt like he was being pulled down into quicksand. Soon there wouldn't be any him left to try and talk sense to Hakkai. But this isn't what I wanted, I never wanted this. He leaned forward and kissed Hakkai, told him with his mouth I don't want to do this and I'm only doing it cause you want it and I don't know why the hell you want it. And this time Hakkai kissed him back, fiercely and passionately like he'd never have thought Hakkai would have done, and Hakkai's mouth was saying please and sorry and I have to do this I need you to help me.
"OK," Gojou said to him between kisses, "OK, it's OK, hey, whatever you want--" Hakkai's body was blazing hot next to his skin and he could smell the hot dark smell of Hakkai's groin, like his own, not at all like a woman's, and it stopped mattering that Hakkai was a guy, he had to get inside Hakkai and there was only this one way. Iron-hard, Gojou found the place that gave when he pushed, and he pushed into it and oh god oh god his mouth opened all by itself it was so tight so tight squeezing all around him so tight nothing ever like this-- And then there was no more him to think, there were no more words, there was nothing but the best the best the best it's ever been and someone somewhere groaning and bellowing like a buffalo in a mud wallow, roaring in the middle of the darkness and the wonderful oh god wonderful oh god ohh god ohhh god ohhhh...
A small sound brought him awake. Smell of hot coffee. Hakkai in jeans putting a cup on the bedside table next to his eyes and going away again.
Gojou sat up. The room had the subdued brightness of just past sunrise. He shoved the sheet off him. The condom was clinging limply to his cock. Gojou took it off. There were dark streaks on it. He grimaced in disgust and then realized the colour was too dark. Blood. He'd made Hakkai bleed. Gojou dropped the condom on the floor and reached for his coffee. Scratched absently at whatever was itching his belly and felt something flake off. He glanced at the end of his finger and realized what that was too. Flicked it off his finger and then sat and looked into space, holding his cup but not drinking. Hakkai's step sounded beside him. Hakkai picked up the condom, disappeared. Running water in the kitchen. Hakkai came back and sat on the edge of the bed, back turned to Gojou, holding his own coffee cup.
Gojou took a sip. Hakkai's coffee, good as ever. He said, "Was that worth it?"
"You were bleeding."
"Virgins do," Hakkai said. "The first time."
"It's not the same."
Hakkai said nothing.
"Was that it?" Gojou asked. "You wanted me to hurt you? That was what you needed to get off?"
Hakkai didn't answer. The silence went on some more. Gojou frowned into his coffee cup.
"You feel like explaining some time, I surely would like to hear it," he said, feeling obscure anger churn his stomach.
He heard Hakkai's little sigh.
"We were twins," Hakkai said quietly. "Before I can remember remembering there was always another me beside me. I always knew what it was like to see the same thing out of another person's eyes and to think the same thoughts in their mind. But I didn't know what it was like to be them in their body." He paused. "You said you couldn't be her. But I could. I wanted to be her last night. It's the only way I could have her back again." That was when he looked up at Gojou. "I owe you an apology, Gojou-san. I was being selfish. I-"
"Shut up," Gojou cut him off. "I hate it when you call me Gojou-san."
"And I hate it when you apologize."
Hakkai was silent. The green eyes had an odd little light in them. Gojou gave him a small grin back.
"It was the best," he said. "Wouldn't ever do it with a guy- do it with another guy- but that, that was the best I ever had."
Hakkai smiled down at his hands.
"You're very kind," he said.
"Heinh, you think?" Gojou frowned. He looked away. "What if I wanted to do that again?" he asked the air. "Would you say yes?"
"Yes," Hakkai said without hesitation.
"Why?" So you can be her? so you can pretend I'm you doing it with her? And where does that leave me, me, Sa Gojou?
"Because you wanted to," Hakkai said. "You did what I wanted last night. Of course I'd do the same for you."
"Anhh." Gojou looked over at the window, sparkling in the unseen rays of the sun. "Pals, huh?"
"Even if it hurts you?"
"I'm sure it just takes time to adjust."
"Maybe, then... We get another rainy night bad as the last one. Maybe we will."
"That would be nice," Hakkai said softly. Gojou finally looked back at him. Their eyes met. Pals. You did things for your pals, if you had them, only Gojou hadn't up to now. No-one that close for the last seven years. Maybe you even gave them all your rainy nights until they got able to get through them on their own. But that was for the future, and right now the sun was shining. He drained his coffee.
"Any more of that?" He held the cup out to Hakkai.
"Yes, of course," Hakkai smiled, and took it.
MJJ March-April 2001