The Face You Had...

In which Hakkai learns of No-Mind


            The door moved noiselessly open. Sanzou, brought out of his half-doze, reached for his gun and pointed it in Hakkai's direction.

            "This is my room," he said with his eyes still closed. "Did I say you could come in?"

            "No," Hakkai said as his light step crossed the floor to the bedside. Sanzou opened his eyes and looked up at the intruder. Pleasant expression, mouth curved a little in the indication of a smile rather than the thing itself. Eyes that didn't smile at all, looking intently down at him. Well, well, well.

            "Hisashiburi da naa," Sanzou said.

            Hakkai tilted his head in mute inquiry. Sanzou didn't explain. This was the one he thought of as Hakkai Here, that rare guest who sometimes took the place of the everyday Hakkai, Hakkai Not-Here, with his happy smile and his eyes that revealed nothing and his selfness hidden away where no-one could ever find it. Hakkai's soul was one of those kekkai-like places that was far bigger inside than it was outside. Hakkai could retreat forever within himself until you sometimes wondered if he was there at all. But every so often, as now, the man himself actually came to the front door to greet you. And here he was, gazing at Sanzou as he lay on his back, robes loosened casually about his waist. The sexual implications were not to be lost, and certainly weren't lost on Sanzou.

            "You wanted--?"

            "I thought we might spend some time together," Hakkai suggested, sitting on the bed.

            "The way I do with Gojou?"

            Hakkai nodded. "Mm-hm."

            "And if I say No?"

            "Now why would you say that?" Hakkai smiled, old friend to old friend, but not quite.

            "You figure it," Sanzou advised him. And probably he should sit up to make his point plain, but he wasn't going to. Let Hakkai have the carrot in clear sight, and see what he did with it.

            "I'm afraid I can't. Do you have some objection to me personally? Or is it- surely not?- that you have some-- tender feelings for Gojou himself?"

            Sanzou snorted.

            "I thought so," Hakkai said. "So why not?" and put his hand on Sanzou's thigh. Sanzou shoved it away.

"I let Gojou screw me because Gojou wants to screw me. Desire and action all one, like breathing. But you-" and he gave him a contemptuous look. "Why brings you night-crawling into my bedroom? Is it me you want, or is it just to get what Gojou has?" Hakkai's face went still. Sanzou spoke into its dangerous silence. "Because if that's what it is you can just go away again. I don't need your insults."

            Hakkai's slight frown and narrowed eyes disappeared into a broad smile. "Ah," he said. "You're absolutely right, of course. Sumimasen." He got up to go, and jumped involuntarily at the roar of Sanzou's gun. The bullet travelled past his nose and buried itself in the wall by the door.

            "The next one will hit," Sanzou said. "Don't run from me, coward."

Hakkai didn't turn.

            "Sumimasen," he said again, quietly. "But I am a coward. I run."

            "Sit on it," Sanzou advised him irritably. "You only run in order to get a clearer shot at the other guy."

            Hakkai stood looking at the wall, face invisible. "This isn't a fight. If you don't want to give me what I ask, I've no interest in taking it from you."

            "If your only reason for asking is to get fair shares for all, why bother asking in the first place?"

            "What does my reason matter?" Hakkai asked, turning at last. "You once told me that truth is one but many is error. I've many reasons for wanting to be with you. And what do those many reasons matter beside the one fact that I want you?"

            "Chop-logic," Sanzou said. "Is that the best you can do?"

            Hakkai's face went still with annoyance, or possibly anger, or possibly thought. "Is it that you only want to be wanted the way Gojou wants you? Something that starts and ends with the body?"

            "Lust is honest at least. It sees what it wants and doesn't want anything else."

            "Exactly. It's limited. It's safe. It never goes beyond the body to look at the soul."

            "Then you'd better stick to it, hadn't you?" Sanzou said. "In case someone comes trying to look at yours."

            Hakkai sat down again, frowning at his lap. "Are you the one to reproach me with that, Sanzou?"

            "No reproach. I'm just telling you."

            Hakkai was silent a space, fingers plaiting and unplaiting.

            "It's like one of those koans," he said at last, with the painful little smile on his face. "You can only understand them by not trying to understand them. You want- you allow- only desire, free of the Self- free of thought. And if I think about how to express my desire, then my desire has already been tainted by thought. Pure desire would express itself directly, without thinking."

            He looked at Sanzou. Sanzou neither confirmed nor denied it.

            "Rape, in a word," Hakkai said.

            Sanzou waited.

            "But if I took you, without asking, because I'd deduced that that was the correct way, my desire would still be tainted by my thought. The fault is in me, for thinking and not feeling."

            "You're learning," Sanzou said drily. "Now stop thinking."

            Hakkai's eyes widened in startlement. One saw for a moment how very green they were. Then he looked away again. He sighed.

            "I'll work on it." He got up to go and yelped at the sudden burning across his back.

            "BakaYAROU!!" Sanzou roared, and brought his harisen down hard across Hakkai's other shoulder.

            "Sanzou!" Hakkai gasped, in pain and astonishment, turning to stare at Sanzou as the harisen moved to strike his face. Hakkai grabbed Sanzou's arm, which pushed Sanzou off-balance so that he fell back down onto the bed. But Hakkai's balance was out as well, and they came down together, Hakkai sprawling across Sanzou's body. All that saved him from being flat on his face was the hand on the mattress that broke his fall. He blinked astonishment into Sanzou's eyes from mere inches away. Then he stopped blinking, and put his head down on Sanzou's chest.

            "Get off me, fool."

            "No. I may be slow but I don't need to be told things three times. Here is where I want to be. Here's where I'll stay, thank you."

            "You're heavy."

            "I'm sorry."

            "I don't want you."

            "I'm sorry about that too."

            Irritation and satisfaction warred in Sanzou's breast. "Do something, then. You're as much use as a St. Bernard sleeping on my lap."

            "Oh Sanzou," Hakkai protested. "Unkind. I don't weigh that much. A Labrador at least."

            "Never mind the fucking breed!" he snapped, irritation momentarily uppermost. "Are you just going to lie there all afternoon?"

            "Well, no. Say the word and I'll turn over for you."

            "You'll what?? Just who--" He caught the gleam of Hakkai's eyes. "Are you being funny?"

            "No." Hakkai took Sanzou's hand and brought it to his lips. "Sanzou, either we both pretend or we both tell the truth. But what I won't have is you pretending while I strip my heart bare."

            "Pretending?" Sanzou asked dangerously.

            "Hiding behind your anger and pretending that's all there is of you."

            "The way you hide behind that smile of yours."

            Hakkai's face flinched minutely, but he nodded. "Exactly. If I can't smile, then you can't snap. I do want equal shares for all, and that means you and I can only be ourselves."

            "Let me tell you," Sanzou said, "there's nothing pretend about how I feel. You lot piss me off in spades."

            "But that's not all there is of you," Hakkai pursued. "Maybe Gojou doesn't mind taking your temper in exchange for having your body, but myself, I'd like to see your other face occasionally."

            "You have your nerve."

            "Umm-hmm." Hakkai kissed Sanzou's fingers, one two and three. Gave him a small smile, eyes sparkling. "I'll show you mine if you show me yours."

Sanzou smiled back, with an edge. "So now you expect me to reward you for your cleverness? In a temple stupid disciples are punished till they grow some brains. But you don't get a prize for having achieved enlightenment. Enlightenment is its own reward."

            "But we're not in a temple and I'm not your disciple- and in any case, when have you ever been an ordinary monk?"



            "So I don't screw," Sanzou said matter of fact. "*I* lie on my face. You do the work. Take it or leave it."

            Hakkai nodded. "I'll take it."




Nov 2001