Voice in the Dark


             Gojou lay in bed, stewing. Or rather, he lay in his futon, stewing. Or rather, he lay in the futon, stewing, because it was his week for the futon and Hakkai's for the bed. When Hakkai'd first moved in they'd figured there was no way two full-grown men could go on sharing that twin-size bed on a permanent basis, and they'd bought a futon that could be rolled up in the daytime. At first Gojou had insisted on playing Hakkai for the bed every night, best two games out of three of draw poker. Ten days straight of sleeping on the futon had convinced him that maybe Hakkai's suggestion made sense, and now they took turns, week and week about.

             So now Gojou lay in his futon, listening to Hakkai's soft breathing across the room, and wondered what he was stewing over. Sure, everything in his life was all different, but it had only changed for the better. It'd been like living in a magic house, this last month. When he wanted a cup of coffee he never had to rinse out a mug with scummy rings of creamer sticking to its sides. The cups were always shining clean, lined up in the cupboard. He never had to wear odd-matched socks any more, retrieved from different corners and covered in fluff. Socks appeared in his drawer, two and two, folded into each other, and so did underwear and shirts. He hadn't seen a dust mouse in weeks, or a cockroach or a fly. The bathtub no longer had a ring around it and the basin was no longer peppered with his reddish stubble. Cigarettes seemed to vaporize from the ashtrays once Gojou'd ground them out. Clean sheets appeared on the bed and the futon at the start of the week, smelling of Sunlight detergent. The garbage, always there when Gojou went to bed on Monday and Wednesday nights, was always gone when Gojou woke up on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. The beer cans tidied themselves into a bag by the door that disappeared every Friday. The neighbourhood grannies no longer gave him dark looks and muttering scowls when he dropped the garbage off the night before pickup or even worse on a Wednesday morning, because he wasn't the one who did it any more. Hakkai did.

               He hadn't eaten a conveni omuraisu or a fast-order yakisoba in weeks, because Hakkai always had something cooked and waiting for him when he got home. He hadn't gone mooching out to the bar in search of company even when he didn't feel like drinking, because there was always someone at home to make small talk to when all he felt like was talking. His score with women had dropped to a pathetic level, because he didn't have to find someone just to spend the night with any more. Having Hakkai quietly asleep on the other side of the room seemed to work pretty good at keeping the loneliness and the bad dreams away. Hakkai was the ultimate easy-care roommate- pleasant, low-key, always smiling...

              So what was the problem? If Hakkai had just been a 19-ish blond girl instead of a 19-ish brunette guy, Gojou would have been convinced he'd died and gone to heaven. It was like having a wife, practically- except he didn't want a wife- And in fact what made Hakkai easy to take was the fact that he wasn't a woman and didn't want the things women wanted from him, like attention and pretty phrases and compliments. He tried to imagine how it'd be if Hakkai was a woman and nearly laughed out loud. Nope. Think of saying 'Hey I like your perfume' to Hakkai, or 'Boy you got the sweetest eyes'-- Gojou grinned-- or even 'Man, that was good' after a meal. You didn't have to say all that stuff to Hakkai. Though Gojou did say the last one because it was good, but Hakkai wouldn't sulk if he didn't, and that was what made Hakkai livable with and women not. Hakkai didn't pout or get mad. Hakkai always smiled at Gojou's remarks, or gave a nervous little laugh when Gojou started getting over the top, or said 'Oh my-' in an embarrassed tone but still with that smile to cover the awkwardness. Hakkai smoothed things over instead of looking for arguments, like some women did- yeah, and most guys too. So it was easy to get along with Hakkai. Pleasant smiling agreeable Hakkai.

              Pleasant smiling agreeable Hakkai who'd killed a thousand youkai and half a village.

             Gojou shifted to his other side. You wouldn't believe that, to look at him now. The funny thing was, when they'd first met, back when Hakkai had been Gonou- actually, back when he'd just been 'that guy', because Gojou'd never asked what his name was and Hakkai'd never told him- he might have believed Hakkai'd killed a thousand youkai, or could have, whichever. Gonou was quiet, yeah, and low-key, yeah, but something had been churning around inside him. Anyone could see it with half an eye. Gonou was different from Hakkai. More-- there, somehow. And god knows, he'd just been through hell on three wheels, naturally you'd expect something of it to show on the surface. But... whatever had happened to Gonou in that month he'd stayed in Sanzou's temple, the month that had turned him into Hakkai, it had made him--

              --Gojou didn't have a word for what it had made him. It was like- like trying to grab hold of water. You saw it, you felt it, but if you tried to get a grip on it, it just ran through your fingers. There was nothing to catch hold of with Hakkai, nothing there inside of him like with other guys. Nothing that was- well, him. Tonpuu at the bar worried about not being able to score with women. You knew that even if he never mentioned it. Jen the bar's Master liked being liked. That was obvious just from the way he talked. Gojou himself had this thing about his hair, and had been seriously annoyed at how easily Sanzou'd picked up on it. But Hakkai-- it was like trying to climb up a mirror. Just this smooth shiny surface with nothing to hold onto at all, and no way of seeing what was behind it because all it did was show you yourself. Hakkai smiled pleasantly and the truth of him evaded Gojou completely. He hadn't a clue what was going on inside Hakkai.

             Well, and should that bother him? It was natural, maybe. Hakkai when he'd been Gonou had been like a man without skin- holding himself too carefully, too still, so that nothing would accidentally touch the raw and bleeding parts of him. That very private person had been torn wide open by what'd happened- torn open literally, in fact- and Gojou'd been there to see him with all his guts exposed and hurting. So if Hakkai wanted a little time to himself now, just to sit inside himself with the door locked while he put things back where they belonged, well, Gojou could understand that. He'd been the same after his mother had been- after she'd died and Jien had gone. Smiling, cocky, don't-care on the outside and shrivelled up, aching and inconsolable, within. And, well, it'd taken seven years and meeting Hakkai and Sanzou before the two bits of him had really gotten back together again. It might take Hakkai just as long. Except- except- there were times he wasn't certain there was anything left inside Hakkai. If there was still a real person there under the perennially smiling face. Gojou shifted uncomfortably. The monks- the gods- had they done something to him at that temple? What had Sanzou meant when he said Gonou was dead? Had he meant- had those damn monks- what had they done to Gonou?

             He sat up abruptly, fighting a surge of panic. Dumb, dumb, this was just too dumb. Hakkai was-- He turned his head. Hakkai was lying in the bed six feet away from him. Gojou took a deep breath. He got up and went over to the bedside and looked down at Hakkai's serene face. He was asleep. Sleeping... efficiently, was the word that came to mind. Gojou sat on the bed's edge, and Hakkai's eyes came open. Calmly, not startled.

              "Gojou? Is something the matter?"

             'No' Gojou was about to say, but his mouth said "Yeah. Move over. I'm getting into bed with you."

   Hakkai looked momentarily surprised, but slid over, and Gojou slipped under the covers. Hakkai's eyes were on him, interested, a bit curious, not apprehensive at all. Gojou lay down beside him, propped up on one elbow, right next to him in the narrow bed so he could feel the heat of Hakkai's body. What the hell do I think I'm doing? He looked down at Hakkai, who looked back up at Gojou with a small inquiring smile.

              "Don't," Gojou said. Hakkai raised an eyebrow. "Don't smile. It hurts when you smile." And wondered right after why he'd said something as dumb as that. Jeez, he was rattled...

              The smile vanished. Hakkai was watching him from a face empty of anything but mild inquiry. Gojou waited, somewhere between hope and impatience. If Hakkai'd been a woman she'd never have been able to keep her expression like that. There'd be a crack somewhere, a little sign- a shifting of the eyes, a bit of strain about the mouth, something to say she knew Gojou was there lying right beside her, and why was he lying beside her, and what came next... There was nothing now. There was Hakkai's face, pleasant and unexpressive, waiting without feeling to see what Gojou would say and apparently able to wait forever.

             A small thread of desperation began to tighten Gojou's chest. On an impulse he pulled his undershirt over his head. Hakkai had a pale blue tshirt on over his boxers. "Take it off," Gojou said, tugging at the t-shirt.

              Hakkai's eyebrows creased, but he let Gojou pull it off him. Gojou looked at him, at the narrow torso and the long red angry scar across Hakkai's abdomen. He shifted a little so he was lying half on top of Hakkai, feeling the warmth of him against his heart. Skin to skin, flesh against flesh-- no words, no evasions, just the straight physical fact, and surely Hakkai had to understand that? If Hakkai was in there surely he'd have to react to this? Gojou braced himself on a forearm and looked directly into Hakkai's eyes. Look at me. Look at *me*. Hakkai did. Eyes dark in the semi-darkness of the room, six inches away, looking up into his. Polite, alert, interested-- no more. There was no way to get inside to where Hakkai was. He was a tower of steel with no door in it at all, and Gojou would always be standing alone outside it.

             "Gojou?" Hakkai said in his soft voice. "There is something the matter, yes?"


             "What is it?"

             "You wouldn't understand," Gojou said, numb with despair.

             "Anhh-- You don't-- I mean-" he hesitated, "you can't mean you want to- to sleep with me?"

              "No," Gojou said, outraged. "Of course not."

              "Ahh," Hakkai said, obviously perplexed. There was silence. "Why are we lying like this, then?"

             "I don't know." Gojou rolled off him and onto his side, back turned towards Hakkai. It was gone. That feeling he'd had once-- that wordless unspoken resemblance, connection, whatever it was, that he'd felt between himself and Gonou-- it just didn't exist any more, now that Gonou was Hakkai. This stranger, Hakkai. Gojou lay looking at the darkness, a small sadness lumping in his chest. Better if he'd never had it at all, probably. He could've gone on being himself, Sa Gojou, happy enough, and not been reminded that the thing he'd wanted as long as he could remember wanting anything was never going to be his. Baka da naa, ore, he thought in disgust. Sa Gojou, the complete asshole, climbing into some guy's bed in the middle of the night, looking for a feeling. He sat up and swung his legs onto the floor. Stick to women, at least you know where you are with them...

             Hakkai's hand touched his arm.

             "Gojou. Don't go."

             "Enh--?" He turned in surprise. "Why not?"

              "Because I--" The nervous little smile lengthened Hakkai's mouth. "It's more comfortable like this, don't you think?" He smiled happily, and then, clearly remembering, quenched it. Gojou looked at him a long moment.

             "Comfortable, yeah." He got back into bed and lay down. Hakkai was beside him, close enough to smell. He smelled like clean laundry. Funny. Gonou had smelled like blood, naturally- because of that rip in his belly and because it'd been a good ten days before Gonou was well enough, or even awake enough, to wash properly. But Hakkai smelled like-- a glimpse of blue skies and green leaves and white sheets flapping on the line... Mom pegging out the wash, Jien holding the waving white linen down for her... He blinked and the picture was gone from his head and he was lying in the dark beside Hakkai. Not like lying beside anyone else, really, with their softness and their sweet perfume and the little rustles and giggles. Not even like lying by Gonou, who was always deep asleep by the time Gojou got himself to bed. Different, this. Lying... friendly, yes-- beside someone else in the dark, awake but not talking, there but not in the way. It was- not uncomfortable, he supposed.

             "Do you want the pillow?" Hakkai asked.

              "Nah. It's ok." He put his hands behind his head, felt himself relaxing in the warmth of the bed. Hakkai pulled the covers up to cover Gojou's chest.

             "You'll get cold without your shirt."

              "I'm fine." Jien- for some reason the thought of Jien was in his mind. That low-key presence all through his childhood, that had been like the ground under his feet, taken for granted and unnoticed until the day it hadn't been there any more. Through all the bad stuff and all the sadness, there'd been- something, at least, something he could hold on to. Gojou sighed. Hakkai's hip was just touching his. Gojou moved over a fraction and Hakkai's body became a solid presence buttressing his own body, indefinably comforting.

             "Are you alright?" Hakkai said, tentatively.

             Gojou loosed a deep breath. "Yeah. Yeah, I'm fine. I was just thinking--" Well, never mind what he'd been thinking- "--about my brother."

             Hakkai's silence prompted him. "My half-brother. Name of Jien. He took off seven years ago, after Mom died. Just wondering was he still alive- how's he making out- stuff like that."

             "Your mother died when you were a child? That must have been hard."

              "She wasn't really my mother. My father's wife. I dunno what happened to my real mom. Or my dad, come to that. I guess he just dumped me on her and took off." Gojou sighed. "Left her holding the baby, literally."


              "She brought me up. More or less. Couldn't stand the sight of me. No wonder." The old sadness pooled in his chest. "Used to cry every time she looked at me. Her husband's bastard kid..." He sighed again. "But there was Jien... Eight years older than me. He was the one really looked after me. Kept me in shoes, made sure I washed from time to time, warmed my butt for me when I needed it. I keep meaning to go looking for him some day, if I get the chance..."

              "The chance?" Hakkai asked in his soft voice. And maybe he didn't mean it like that, but to Gojou it sounded like he was saying So what keeps you from going? Like you might miss a game of poker or an evening at the bar?

             "Well- you know. I guess- I've been drifting, these past few years. You get into a rut, you know..." He shifted, uncomfortable. Then lay still. "Thing is, I owe him. Big time. He saved my life." Surprising how easy it was to say that, talking in the dark like this, when you couldn't see the person you were talking to too clearly. "I just don't know-- I don't know what I can say to him, we ever meet again. You know, 'thanks' doesn't quite cut it."

              "It's a place to start."

             "Yeah but- then. Then what? Like, how do you pay someone back when they've saved your life for you?"

             "Tell me, and I'll do it," Hakkai said.

             "Hunh?" Then he understood, and flushed bright red. "Shit. I didn't mean it that way! You don't-- lissen--" and he got up on one elbow and leaned over Hakkai- "you don't owe me for anything. Got that? Not a cent. It was my decision to pick you up out of that puddle and you-- you don't even come into it. OK??!"

              "OK," Hakkai said mildly. "But what makes you think it wasn't like that for Jien?"

              "Unhh--" Gojou felt flummoxed. He lay down to think about it.

              "It was different," he said at last. "Way different. It wasn't just he saved my life. He killed someone to do it." Weird, to be saying this to someone else. The thing he'd never told anyone cause they wouldn't want to hear it. But Hakkai- he'd been there and done that himself. It wasn't strange to him, the violence, the horror. "Mom," Gojou said in a low voice. "She was trying to kill me. That's where these came from." He flipped a hand at his left cheek. "She came after me with an axe," he went on, and even if it hurt it felt good, like someone working a muscle knot out of your shoulder, being able to say what had happened at last and have someone else hear it. "And all I could do was sit on the floor and wait for it to come down on me."

              "Dear God," Hakkai said. He put a hand, brief and warm, on Gojou's arm.

             "Yeah, but- you know, somehow I wasn't even surprised. I think part of me always knew it had to happen. I thought- by then, I thought- hell, why not let her do it. Maybe then she'd stop crying. I hated it that I always made her cry like that. I thought, now she won't have to do it any more. And then she was dead. Just like that, all crumpled up on the floor. And Jien was standing there with this sword dripping blood. I didn't even know he had one." Hakkai was listening, warm beside him. Somehow the words just went on coming out. "And-- you know, I know I should be grateful to him, and I am grateful, but-- Sometimes, I think if I ever find him again, first thing I'll say is, what the fuck did you do that for, asshole? Killing your own mother for the likes of me. I was no loss. I should never have been born in the first place."

             "Why not?" Hakkai sounded surprised.

             "Oh, because," Gojou said, closing up suddenly inside like an oyster shutting. "You know. Bastard kid and all." The reflexes born of long habit-- when you got too close to <that> you just slid away from it. You closed your mind to it and usually nobody was the wiser, cause if you didn't see it they didn't see it either even if it was there right in front of their eyes. But his reflexes were also telling him to cut the conversation short and go. He never liked staying with someone who'd gotten too close to <that> even if they didn't know they'd done it, because somehow just them being near it spoiled everything.

              "Heiinhh," he sighed, sitting up. "I should get back to bed. Night." He gave Hakkai a little sideways nod. Hakkai didn't say anything. He lay there, still in the dimness, watching Gojou from an expressionless face and a hundred miles away inside his eyes. Sadness seemed to hover over him like ground mist. Then he smiled.

              "Good night, Gojou," he said in his soft voice, and turned on his side away from him. Gojou stared at his back. He had the weirdest feeling, like he was Hakkai, looking at this tall red-haired guy who shrugged and smiled and ducked away from you for no good reason. Good-natured Sa Gojou, all easy and laid-back, with this steel wall round his heart that kept you standing on the other side of it, forever.

              "Hey--" he said. Not sure why, not sure what was happening. Hakkai turned back.

             "Yes?" he said, little smile in place like always.

             Gojou licked his lips. It felt funny. Something was moving around inside him, kind of in his belly or his chest. Something moving up his body and going to come out-- not like being sick exactly, though there was the same sort of half-apprehension and do-I-don't-I to it. And even as he thought Do I do it? it was in his mouth and he was saying "You know about my hair? And my eyes, right? You know what they mean?"

             "What they mean...?"

             I can't believe I'm saying this... He could still lie and all his reflexes were telling him to lie like he'd always done before- well, not lied exactly but shrugged the question off or stalled when people said 'What's with your eyes?' But it was different now, this time his mouth was doing the thinking for him, and the impossible words came out of it just like that, "It's the sign of a half-breed. When humans mate with youkai, the kids are like me. Red hair, red eyes. Unnatural." He swallowed. He was in for it now. "Forbidden. We're called the children of abomination. My dad was youkai- and Mom, and Jien. I'm not human. I'm youkai- a half-youkai." He stopped, stomach tight, feeling like he couldn't breathe.

             "Ahh," Hakkai said, unmoved. Gojou felt a huge wave of relief wash over him.

             "You don't mind?"

             "Mind?" Hakkai said. "No."

             "Really?" He'd kind of expected Hakkai might be different from most guys, but it still seemed too good to be true.

             "Of course not. Why would I?"

             "Well, cause--" and then his very slow donkey brain finally kicked in- and it was like a kick in a way, because he half-gasped at the realization- and reminded him what Hakkai was.

             "Anh--" he said, flushing. "Sorry." He felt himself going even redder, and ran an embarrassed hand over the back of his head. "I use it to keep my ears apart," he said helplessly to Hakkai. "Isn't much good for anything else."

             Hakkai smiled, amused. "Don't worry about it. It's not the first thing one thinks of, looking at either of us." He hesitated a moment. "Has anyone ever found out?"

             "Yeah, once or twice. The youkai know about it- old wives' tale and all, but sometimes- somebody'll realize and tell the humans, and then..."

             "And then?"

             "I move on, usually. It makes a difference. People don't know how to handle it."

              "Mhm." Silence. Gojou stretched out again on his back and looked at Hakkai. "How's it feel to you?" he asked. "You haven't been- this way- for long..."

             "No. But..." Silence. "I was always different. Different inside somehow, and I didn't know how. Now-- it's a different difference, but the feeling itself-- it's not unfamiliar."

             "Anhh." Gojou nodded. "Different, yeah." I've always been different. "I never had my own people. People like me. Just-- Jien, cause he didn't care if I was different. And now he's gone."

              "Yes," Hakkai said, and the sadness in his voice was like the sadness in Gojou's chest, and Gojou had to wonder again... Gonou...

             "Ne, Hakkai..."


             He looked at the dark, not at Hakkai. "Just- what- what happened to you, at the temple?" and held his breath, wondering if Hakkai would answer.      

              "Very little," Hakkai said.

              "But- I mean- what did you do, that month you were there?"

             "I raked the gravel in the courtyard."

             Gojou waited. Hakkai didn't say anything more.

             "Uh- that was all?"

             "That was my work," he said. "It's a big courtyard. It took most of the day." He paused. "I looked at the sky a lot. I talked to Gokuu sometimes, but Sanzou told him not to bother me. I think Sanzou wanted me to be alone. So..." His voice trailed off. He too was looking into the dark. Gojou waited. "I raked the gravel," Hakkai said quietly. "Doing that- I understood that Kanan was dead. I understood that I wasn't Cho Gonou any more. I think he must have died too, in the cellars of that castle. I knew there was a reason why I never told you my name when we first met, but I didn't know what it was." He sighed. "And so I turned into Cho Hakkai. And when I was Hakkai, Sanzou said I was ready to leave."

              "Ahh." Gojou thought about that. "It feels different, being Hakkai?"

              "It feels different," Hakkai agreed. "Gonou was-- I don't know how to explain it. Half of a whole. Without that other half-- it's as if I'd woken up one day and found the left side of my body missing. Reason says you can't stay alive like that, but I was alive, and somehow I had to learn to live that way."

              "Hey--" Gojou said, appalled.

              "Well, that's why I needed a month to be alone. To find out what it's like. Being alive the way other people do it. On their own."

             "The way other people do it...?" Gojou echoed. "I always thought it was the other way round. Having people there, that's what's normal. Friends, family-- people who stick around in your life. Maybe even one special person. Being able to say Hey remember when? to them and have them say Yeah, I remember that, and smile. That's the way it oughta be."

             "If you find your brother again..."

              "I can't think of anything he'd want to be reminded of, you know? Maybe he doesn't even want me to find him. When you've done something like that- wouldn't you want to put it behind you and forget that it happened?"

             "If I could," Hakkai said. "Some memories don't go away."

             "I wasn't-- I didn't mean--"

             "I know. But it's the same for me as for your brother. We both did something we're not going to forget. It's part of us now. And- if he's your brother- I don't think he's going to pretend it didn't happen."

              Gojou felt heat in his face. "I'm not as honest as all that. I can lie with the best of them, and I do."

             "Really? I've never known you to," Hakkai said. "When was this?"

             "Hakkai--" Gojou shifted a little on his back. He didn't want Hakkai getting the wrong idea about him. "I'm-- look, you know I don't amount to very much--"

             "No," Hakkai said consideringly. "I don't think I know that."

             "I mean- hell, I'm a gambler. A fancy-man, a drifter... Never did a day's work in my life-- can't seem to settle down with any one woman--"

             "You're going to make me angry," Hakkai said. "Talking like that about the man who saved my life. Saved it twice."


              "Once when you picked me up out of that puddle. And once when you stopped me from letting Ma Shunjou kill me."


             "That man from my old village. I'd have let him kill me for the same reason you'd have let your mother kill you-- because I felt I didn't deserve to live. But what you said made it look different. If I had no right to kill Shunjou's brother, then Shunjou had no right to kill me. And if Shunjou was right to punish me for what I did to his brother, then I was right to punish his brother for what he did to my sister." He smiled apologetically. "It sounds complicated, but I understood it in an instant, the way Sanzou says people achieve satori. I suppose if I'd stopped to think about it, I would be dead."

             "Yeah well- that wasn't me," Gojou said shortly. "That was Sanzou."

             "It was your voice I heard, not his."

              "Look," Gojou said, feeling obscurely like his back was to the wall, "I'm not the Bodhisattva Gojou or even close. I don't do selfless and compassionate. I'm a selfish git, and what I do, I do for me and no-one else."

             "You picked up a total stranger and brought him home, no questions asked, and looked after him till he was better. That wasn't compassion?"

              "Believe it," Gojou said with decision. "People drop bleeding at my feet, it annoys me. Corpses messing up the landscape, guts falling out of them. Talk about littering..."

              "And when you learned who and what I was, you still shielded me from Sanzou and let me get away. That wasn't mercy?"

             Gojou snorted. "Don't be naive. Sanzou got up my nose. Arrogant self-righteous shit. Wasn't handing you over to him just cause he came banging at the door in the middle of the night telling me to."

             "Ahh. I see. You were telling the truth, then."


             "You do lie with the best of them."

             "Look, you--!!" Gojou started, and then saw the gleam in Hakkai's eye. "Fine," he said, falling back on the mattress. "Make fun of me. That's what I'm here for."

             "I'm sorry," Hakkai said. "I shouldn't tease you. It's just that- I haven't teased- anyone- in a long time." He was smiling. It hurt to see him smile.

             "Hey--" Gojou reached over and mussed his thick hair. There wasn't anything to say. Hakkai's smile still hurt because Hakkai still hurt. In spite of what had happened to him at the monastery, not because of it. And if Hakkai was a woman there were things Gojou could do to make him hurt less, but Hakkai was Hakkai and there wasn't anything he could do but what he'd already done. I wish I could make it all alright for him... but Gojou had never been able to make the world alright for anybody. I do what I can-

             "Mind if I stay here tonight? It is comfortable, time to time."

             "Not at all."

             Gojou slid down into the bed and they got the covers arranged OK, pulled up over their shoulders. Gojou turned on his side, an arm pillowing his head, beginning to feel comfy and sleepy at last.

              Hakkai said, not loud, "This is nice." Then, "I always liked being beside you at night."

             "Really?" Somehow that surprised him.

             "That first bit- when I wasn't quite there- I had- not nightmares, but- I don't know what to call them. Blackness, and- horror- and... It was unpleasant. And then there'd be times when I knew I wasn't alone because someone was with me in the dark. Warm and solid, and alive. I could feel them, and it- it made the world steadier. And then I could sleep safely for a bit. And eventually I realized that was you."

             "Mh." He could sort of remember- nights, half waking to the sound of whimpering or little ngh noises of pain. Sleepily putting an arm around the guy's shoulders- sometimes not even registering it was a guy- or across his chest, and then he'd quiet and Gojou'd slide back into sleep again. But he wasn't going to tell Hakkai that.

             "Of course," Hakkai said, and gave his little smile, "practically the first thing you told me when I woke up was that that was the first and last time you'd let a guy into your bed. So I'm grateful..."

             "Yeah but," Gojou said, to that smile more than to Hakkai. "Doesn't mean I never got into a guy's bed myself. Used to go sleep with Jien, there was a thunderstorm or- if I got too lonesome. Then- you know- I'd feel safe. It was nice."

             There was silence. The Hakkai smell, like clean clothes. That small breathing in the night. It felt safe. It was nice.

              "Y'know--" Gojou said. "We could just buy a double bed. That'd solve the problem."

             "Ahh," Hakkai said. "I'd like that."

             "Tomorrow," Gojou said. "Good." And with that he closed his eyes, falling asleep next to Hakkai.




Dec 2000--Feb 2001