cicer: (O hai)
[personal profile] cicer
Oh, look, it's a [livejournal.com profile] help_japan fic! And it only took me, oh, five months to finish it. *facepalm*

As you might guess, this story gave me absolute fits. I ended up drafting about a bajillion words of backstory for this thing. None of it really had nothing to do with the actual story at hand, but for some reason I couldn't resist sketching out tons of stuff about this universe, and then it turned out that none of that stuff actually made it into the fic. Wah.

Also, I wanted this to be porn-y, and then it...wasn't. It's not even Hakkai/Gojyo, exactly. Face. Palm. It is, however, what [livejournal.com profile] wk_recomend asked for: a mashup of Saiyuki and Inception, and I really had fun playing around with ways to combine the two universes.

[livejournal.com profile] wk_recomend, you are a goddess for having so much patience with me as I thrashed this thing into submission. I hope it satisfies, and thank you again for your donation!




This is how it starts:

He's trying to get home after a night at the bar, stumbling down the back alleys that line the way to his little rathole apartment. The night is very dark, and he’s pleasantly tipsy, but sober enough to keep an eye out for anyone who might want to relieve him of his poker winnings.

It's his neighborhood, down in one of the crappy parts of town, but he knows this isn’t the spot where most of the muggers and pickpockets hang out. Not the smart ones, anyway. The smart ones stick to the uptown districts on the other side of the city, near the hotels and expensive restaurants. Better pickings there.

Gojyo knows this, because he's friends with a few of those muggers.

But that doesn't mean there aren't a few of them still kicking around here, and the ones that hang around here are usually nastier, more desperate, and hopped up on something. So Gojyo keeps a careful eye out, keeps his hands free and hanging loosely near his switchblade, and tries not to trip on the scattered trash and torn cardboard boxes.

He’s ambling along, minding his own business, just trying to get home in one piece with his cash still in his pocket, and it’s right then that he stumbles over the body.

It is not the first time this has happened to him, actually, but it's rare and unexpected enough that he makes an embarrassing little noise of horror, and swears a little too loudly in the dark, stinking alley.

There’s kind of a lot of blood, spattered in puddles across the pavement, and it takes Gojyo a full minute of staring before he realizes that the blood is soaking into his shoes. Which, gross.

It's a guy, obviously, and Gojyo can't see too well in the dark, but it looks like the guy is wearing a pretty expensive suit, which is really weird. Weirder than a body in the middle of an alley, actually, because nobody in this neighborhood wears suits, ever. Definitely not ones with sharp clean collars and little silver cufflinks like the one this dude is sporting.

Gojyo pokes the guy with his foot, contemplatively, and then jumps about twelve feet in the air when the guy makes a little sound.

Oh, fuck, he thinks. Fuck.

It’s one thing to stumble over a dead body. It’s another thing to stumble over a dying body.

The first, he can pretend he never saw. The second...the second he actually has to do something about, which is just not fair, because hustled some great pool tonight and he has a pocketful of cash and the tail end of a really nice buzz, and he does not want to have to deal with some city boy who was picking up a hooker or something in the wrong part of town and ended up bleeding out on Gojyo shoes.

But, Gojyo thinks optimistically, maybe he was imagining that sound. Maybe the guy really is dead.

He crouches down and pokes the guy in the cheek. No response, so he prods at the guy’s neck, underneath that formerly-starched collar, until he finds a pulse.

Fuck. Not dead, then.

Gojyo rocks back on his heels and thinks.

There’s a little Chinese restaurant around the corner. Gojyo knows the guy that owns it, plays poker with him most Wednesdays. If Gojyo drops in, the guy’ll call for an ambulance and not ask too many questions, or tell the cops that Gojyo was the one who found the guy. He can just drop in, tell the owner what’s up, and then make himself scarce before the cops show up.

It’s a good plan, and Gojyo is about to get up and make a run for the restaurant before the guy finishes his mission of bleeding his guts out on a pile of old newspapers. But then something shiny catches his eye.

He has a good eye for shiny things. His brother always used to call him a magpie. Back when he had a brother.

Gojyo shakes that thought off and reaches out to shove aside the trash bag by the dying guy’s left hand.

Underneath, there’s a suitcase so shiny and expensive and formal that it definitely has to belong to this guy. Gojyo isn’t sure how it got under the trash bags, unless the dying guy had made a last-ditch attempt to hide it while he was hemorrhaging blood everywhere.

He pulls the suitcase closer, traces the edge of it. The case itself looks pretty valuable, and if the guy was trying to hide it, it’s not exactly a leap of logic to figure that whatever’s inside it is pretty valuable too.

Gojyo thinks that maybe the contents might be a fair payment for finding the guy and calling an ambulance for him. One good turn deserves another, after all. He finds the clasp and pops it.

The contents are not what he’d been expecting. He’d been thinking stacks of money, bags of cocaine, pirated electronics. Instead, the inside of the suitcase is a mass of wires and tubing surrounding a display screen.

There are little vials of something settled into the case, but they don’t look like anything Gojyo’s ever seen. He touches the velvet lining carefully, and looks at the guy sprawled across the pavement. He sighs.

It’s pretty obvious that whatever the guy has been up to, it’s not the sort of thing that’s exactly legal, and Gojyo knows all about doing not-exactly-legal things.

He knows in particular that it’s very important not to bring those sorts of things to the attention of the police. And if he calls for an ambulance and tells them that there’s a guy lying on the sidewalk who’s apparently been stabbed in the gut, the police are probably gonna want to get involved in that. So: no ambulance.

He could leave the guy here. Technically. He could. If he ever got stabbed, it’s a pretty sure bet that anyone who found him would step right over his dying body and continue on their way. He could do the same with this guy.

Except Gojyo knows that would be a really terrible idea. If he ditches the guy, karma will just end up kicking his ass. He knows that. It’s just the way these things always work.

He’s not religious. Never has been. But there’s something deep down, engraved on his bones, that has always told him that karma was nothing to fuck around with. Because if you fuck around with karma, it’s sure to fuck around with you. If he leaves the guy to die here, he'll probably get hit by a bus or something tomorrow. That’s just the way his life works.

Gojyo rocks back on his heels and thinks. The guy’s expensive jacket might make a halfway decent compress, which would hopefully keep the guy’s internal organs from spilling out while Gojyo drags him back to his apartment.

And there’s a guy in the apartment below his, who’s a decent surgeon when the hospital isn’t an option. He could probably stitch the guy up and hook them up with some antibiotics. He’d want to be paid somehow, of course, but Gojyo can figure that out later.

It isn’t a great plan. Gojyo scrubs a hand over his face and stares at the body.

It’s really, really not a great plan. Probably the guy isn’t gonna make it either way. There’s really an awful lot of blood.

But Gojyo has had the shit-luck of tripping over the guy, and he figures that now whatever happens to him is gonna be on his conscience, whether he likes it or not.

He sighs, and shoves himself to his feet.

***

It’s not exactly easy to drag the guy home.

After some experimentation, Gojyo figures out that he can throw the guy’s arm over his shoulder and keep an arm wrapped around the guy’s waist, to put some pressure on the wound and hopefully stop the worst of the bleeding. But it’s awkward, and the guy is thin, but still pretty heavy. Gojyo gives up on even attempting the stairs up to his apartment, and settles for banging on the Kou’s door.

He’ll owe Kou a lot, he realizes, if he actually manages to keep the guy from bleeding to death.

He definitely doesn’t seem too optimistic when he lays eyes on his new patient. He grimaces, sighs, and casts Gojyo a look that seemed to suggest that he, too, is only doing this to try to keep karma off his back. But then he clears off a space on his kitchen table, and Gojyo helps boil water and sterilize instruments.

The sutures take a long time, and there’s a truly ridiculous amount of blood on the table by the time they’re done.

Kou makes vague mutterings about how a blood transfusion would probably help, but he pointedly doesn’t suggest a hospital, and doesn’t ask what happened. He just stitches the guy up as best he can, gives him a couple shots, and hands Gojyo a bottle full of pain pills, along with the promise that he’ll have work for Gojyo, later.

Gojyo sighs and nods, and lets Kou help drag the guy up to his apartment and dump him on Gojyo’s futon.

After he’s gone, Gojyo studies the body, and hopes that the universe will reward him for his benevolence, and the guy won’t suddenly wake up in the middle of the night and stab Gojyo while he’s sleeping.

Assuming the guy ever actually wakes up again, of course

There’s blood caked under his fingernails and smeared all down the front of his shirt. Gojyo picks at it, and washes up at the kitchen sink before crawling onto the couch and falling deeply asleep.

***

The guy doesn’t wake up the next day, or the next.

Kou comes up to look at him once, gives him a couple more shots, and slips Gojyo a paper with the address of an import shop on it and a vague description of what he’s looking for.

Gojyo doesn’t ask, just jams the paper in his pocket and resolves to deal with it in a couple of days, when his bed isn’t occupied by a half-dead guy who, as Gojyo discovered when he stripped off the bloody clothes, keeps a Beretta holstered at his hip and a serrated knife strapped to his ankles.

Gojyo removes them carefully and stashes them in a drawer, just in case the guy decides to regain consciousness while Gojyo is sleeping, and is less than appreciative of Gojyo’s extravagant efforts to keep him from dying.

And as soon has he has a chance, Gojyo creeps back to the alley and picks up the mysterious silver case.

He inspects it at his leisure, once he has it back in his apartment. It’s pretty obviously some kind of pump that dispenses drugs, but it’s ridiculously fancy, and Gojyo can’t quite figure out why anybody would need anything more sophisticated than a syringe if they want to shoot up.

He thinks about showing it around, trying to see if any of the people he knows might be able to figure out what it is, but after considering things for a minute, he realizes that would be a pretty stupid thing to do.

Somebody has to be looking for the guy, and spreading the word that he’s found a mysterious silver case with mysterious drugs inside would probably just lead them right to his door.

Anyway, the guy can just tell Gojyo about the case himself, once he wakes up. Assuming he wakes up. And assuming he’s in a sharing mood, which Gojyo belatedly realizes is pretty unlikely.

But there’s really nothing else he can do. So he prods at the case, and changes the guy’s bandages three times a day, and waits.

***

“Is this hell?”

Gojyo peers up from where he’d been playing his twelfth rousing game of Solitaire that day.

He has stuff he can do, jobs he can, and should, run, but he’s been kind of leery about leaving the house, in case the guy wakes up and decides to trash Gojyo’s place in some fit of misplaced anger, or spontaneously expires in his sleep.

But it looks like the guy’s finally decided to rejoin the land of the living.

Gojyo gets up, and walks over the body that’s sprawled out on his futon, staring up at the ceiling like he’s never seen one before. He crouches down by the guy’s head.

His color looks better, Gojyo notes. Gojyo doesn’t know much about medicine, but the guy no longer looks like a three-week-old corpse someone had dug up and dropped in the middle of Gojyo’s apartment, and Gojyo figures that’s gotta be a good thing.

But the guy is looking at him like he’s expecting some kind of answer, and it takes Gojyo a minute to remember the question.

Is this hell?

“Uh. No.” Gojyo pauses and reflects. “Not unless you’re, you know, one of those people that thinks that life on earth is hell, or whatever.”

The guy tilts his head awkwardly to look at Gojyo’s face hanging over his. He blinks.

Gojyo decides to take the lack of face-stabbing as a good sign, and pats himself on the back for managing not to be horribly murdered by the potentially-violent potential-criminal he decided to save.

“Oh,” the guy says, after a moment.

Gojyo squints down at him.

He’s not bad looking, not by a long shot, even if he does still look like a zombie from the blood loss and week-long coma.

Still, he’s got incredibly dark hair and sharp features, and the kind of skin that says he hasn’t done any outside labor in his life. And there’s something bright and canny in the back of his eyes that tells Gojyo the he could be dangerous, even deadly, under the right circumstances.

Right now, though, he mostly looks confused. He pats the blankets that lie across his chest, working his way down to his stomach, and when he finds the mess of bandages, he abruptly tries to sit up.

Gojyo automatically reaches out and shoves him back down. He regrets it immediately when the guy’s hand flashes up to grab his wrist in a way that suggests that he knows how to break people’s hands and is happy to demonstrate if Gojyo tries to manhandle him again.

“Hey,” Gojyo gentles his voice like he’s talking to a kid, or a wild animal. “Don’t sit up. You’ll pop your stitches.”

He withdraws his hand carefully when the guy’s grip on his wrist slackens.

The guy returns to inspecting his bandages, after a long, careful look in Gojyo direction.

Gojyo shifts back and sits cross-legged beside the bed. He waits while the guy unwraps the bandages and studies his wound, which is still red and kind of raw, but stitched up neatly and no longer bleeding.

After that, he looks around the apartment slowly, and gives Gojyo a lingering once-over that would’ve been flattering except for how it kind of looks like the guy is trying to figure out exactly how quickly he could kill him.

Gojyo keeps his mouth shut, and waits until the tension in the guy’s shoulders slowly, slowly unravels.

“I see,” the guy says, eventually, like he’s figured something out.

Maybe he has. He’s obviously figured out that he isn’t dead, and he’s not in prison either, so this is probably better than he was expecting.

“I suppose I owe you some thanks…?” he ventures, after a moment.

He has a slight accent, one that doesn’t speak of foreign countries so much as expensive private schools and a posh upbringing.

Gojyo refrains from snorting and making some kind of remark about how they don’t hear many people who talk like that around these parts, and what had the guy been doing down here anyway?

He’s curious as hell, he’s not going to deny that. But he’s learned enough in his life to know that some questions are better left unasked. So he just bites his lip and quirks a smile.

“Yeah, pretty much. Wasn’t a picnic dragging your half-dead ass up those stairs, let me tell you. Also, you’ve been in a coma for almost a week, and you’re taking up my bed.”

Gojyo doesn’t really know what sort of response he’s expecting for that, but it isn’t the one he gets: a long, strange look, like the guy is trying to see through him, and a slow, dreamy sort of nod.

“I see,” the guy says again, and looks around carefully. “My clothes…?”

“Oh.”

Gojyo pulls himself to his feet and heads for the plastic grocery bag on the kitchen counter where he’s been keeping the remains of the guy’s clothes.

They’re bloody and gross, but he’d been reluctant to toss them, in case the guy wanted them for some reason.

He’s checked the pockets already, but there isn’t much in them: a slim wallet with a wad of cash in it, and an ID that’s clearly forged. It’s a good forgery, admittedly, but from his time working as a bouncer, and later making up IDs of his own, Gojyo has gotten pretty good at spotting fakes.

He passes the grocery bag over to the guy, who is still trying stubbornly to sit up, despite Gojyo’s earlier warning.

“They’re pretty trashed,” Gojyo warns, while his guest paws through the bag. “Uh. I can lend you something that’s…not covered in blood and guts.”

He starts to say something more, and then stops.

The guy pretty obviously isn’t listening to him. He’s fishing around in the bag, and Gojyo assumes he’s looking for his wallet.

Gojyo has already prepared an explanation for why there’s slightly less cash in the wallet than there had been when he’d found the guy. Hey, he’s had to buy bandages and stuff, and also he was maybe entitled to a little compensation for all the time he’s spent by the guy’s bedside, making sure he didn’t die.

But instead of pulling out the wallet and counting his cash like Gojyo had been expecting, the guy takes out his jacket and fingers the edges slowly. He runs his thumb over the edge of the cufflinks.

They’re sleek, intricately carved silver pieces that Gojyo hadn’t really paid much attention to when he’d gone through the guy’s stuff. They’d probably fetch a good price at a pawn shop, sure, but Gojyo hadn’t even considered trying that.

Some cash, the guy wouldn’t notice. The cufflinks, he probably would.

If the way the guy is touching them is any indication, yeah, he definitely would’ve noticed if they’d gone missing. He handles them slowly, reverently, like they’re really important, an heirloom or something.

Gojyo shifts from foot to foot uneasily and tries to school his face into an expression that suggests that he’s definitely not the sort of person who would ever think of pawning someone else’s property, no sir.

The guy pops one of the cufflinks loose and studies it very, very intently, like he’s expecting the cufflink to reveal some kind of profound cosmic truth.

Gojyo is about to back out of the room and scrounge for a weapon, in case the guy is completely delusional and about to start talking to the cufflink or something, but then guy finally sets the thing down and looks at him.

Really looks at him, this time. He has a weird look on his face, like he’s just figured something out.

“Thank you. I believe I owe you a great deal.”

Gojyo isn’t sure what to make of that. Isn’t sure he even wants to know, really.

“Uh. It’s cool. I mean…glad you’re not dead. Seriously, your guts were kind of hanging out, man. Lucky there’s a guy downstairs who knows how to do stitches.”

The guy nods at that, like it’s no big deal. Like he gets stabbed in the gut and rescued by strangers every week.

“Excuse me,” he cuts in, just as Gojyo is about to open his mouth to babble something else about blood and guts, to fill the weird silences that surrounded the guy’s staring.

“I’m sorry to trouble you, but…“ he pauses, very briefly. “I had an…item with me. I don’t suppose you…”

He doesn’t seem to know how to finish that sentence, but Gojyo catches on easily enough.

“Oh. Yeah. It’s. Hang on.”

He ducks into the other room and pulls the thing out from under the sofa.

It isn’t a very good hiding spot, but Gojyo doesn’t even know what he’s supposed to be hiding anyway. He’s poked and prodded at it a little bit, but as far as he can tell, it’s just a weird briefcase-syringe thing.

He hauls it out and drops it on the bed next to the guy, who looks visibly relieved when he sees it. He reaches out to pop the top, and then stops and looks up at Gojyo.

Gojyo assumes what he hopes is a reassuring, friendly smile. He knows it isn’t one of his best efforts, but somehow this guy has a way of staring at him that makes Gojyo feel like he’s being quietly dissected.

“Yeah. I…kind of took a look at the thing. I don’t know what it is,” he added hastily. “And, uh. No one knows it’s here. No one knows you’re here, actually, except for the guy downstairs. But you’ve been here for a week, and nobody’s come sniffing around. So, pretty sure you’re safe.”

The guy is staring again.

Gojyo busies himself with tidying the room, picking up dirty clothes and jamming them into the closet. He very carefully does not look at the guy’s face, which is actually really handsome, but also scarily intense.

“You took quite a risk for me,” the guy observes slowly, after a minute. His tone is sort of wondering, and that prompts Gojyo to finally look at him again.

“To let me into your home without knowing who I was or what I’d done…” the guy trails off, and smiles thinly. “I might have been a murderer.”

There a little ring of irony in his voice, something that sort of suggests that maybe he’s actually done some murdering at some point.

Gojyo swallows, and thinks about the gun stashed in his kitchen drawer. He’s starting to think that maybe, just maybe, this wasn’t the most brilliant thing he’s ever done, but he comforts himself with the knowledge that this guy still has a belly full of stitches and, if it comes right down to it, Gojyo can totally outrun him.

The guy looks at him and quirks an eyebrow.

“Do you always take such risks for people you don’t know?”

Gojyo just shrugs. It’s sort of weird, he gets that. He’s seen enough in his life to know that he needs to be careful, and he likes to think he isn’t a sucker, but maybe he’s a little quicker to help people than he should be. Maybe a little more generous than is entirely safe.

Whatever. He’s definitely not going to let this guy give him shit about it, not when he just saved the guy’s life.

“Well, you know. Karma, right?” He toes a pair of jeans into the closet and shuts the door. “Figure if I help people, maybe they’ll help me someday too.”

It sounds stupid when he puts it that way, but the guy gives him a little smile that’s almost approving.

“That’s an excellent philosophy.”

Gojyo shrugs. And then, because he’s generous but also desperately curious, he can’t help but ask.

“So…what’s the deal with that thing?” He nods toward the metal case.

The guy’s hands go to rest upon it carefully, and Gojyo makes a quick easy-there gesture.

“Not any of my business or anything, I know. Just, I’ve never seen anything like that.“ He smiles, a little nervously because the guy’s got that sharp-edged look in his eye again. “Can’t blame a guy for being curious.”

The guy traces the lines on the case slowly.

“No.” He pops the case open again and touches one of the vials inside. “I can’t blame you.”

He tips his head to the side and gives Gojyo another faint smile.

He has really pretty eyes, Gojyo thinks, and then stops that thought in its tracks.

“Perhaps…”

The guy looks at Gojyo again, evaluating, but this time he doesn’t look so much like he’s thinking about how to best go about blowing Gojyo’s brains out. This time, he just looks thoughtful. Considering.

“If I might trespass on your hospitality a bit longer…” he taps a finger on the case. “I’ll show you something very special.”

It should sound creepy, like a threat or a bad come-on, but somehow it doesn‘t.

In fact, Gojyo is starting to think that nothing about this guy looks, or sounds, or even feels like it should. The guy looks at him like he sees something in Gojyo, something Gojyo doesn’t even see in himself, and nobody has ever looked at him that way.

This time, when he smiles, Gojyo smiles back, and it’s not even an act.

***

The guy’s name turns out to be Hakkai, and he’s involved in something totally illegal.

Which Gojyo knew, of course, what with the mysterious case and the gut-stabbing. But when he spent those long, quiet nights making up background stories about his nameless, comatose roommate, Gojyo had been thinking something more along the lines of smuggling, or high-stakes theft, or even syndicated crime.

Turns out, Hakkai’s line of work is more along the lines of espionage. He sketches it out for Gojyo as he convalesces in Gojyo’s bed.

It’s weird, having some guy he barely knows living with him, weird buying takeout for two and finding someone else’s dirty socks in the laundry bin. It’s been a long time since Gojyo had lived with someone else, and the last time had ended kinda bad. Understatement.

So it’s weird, having a roommate again, but also kind of nice. And that sounds horrifically sentimental, even inside his own head, but Gojyo privately admits to himself that he sort of likes the company.

And Hakkai is just…interesting. His voice, his way of speaking, his clothing…what’s left of them, anyway… all make it clear that he’s pretty familiar with expensive shit, and probably had a high-class education and a privileged upbringing.

He never talks about his family, and Gojyo never asks, because he’s smart enough to know that money isn’t enough to make a happy home. But it’s still pretty clear that the guy currently sleeping in his bed isn’t exactly a stranger to the finer things in life.

But he also doesn’t seem to be a stranger to a life of crime, or the gutters that criminals sometimes end up in.

He doesn’t give Gojyo’s leaky ceiling or cheap, stained carpeting any weird looks. And he doesn’t complain when Gojyo brings him new clothes that are probably about one-tenth the quality of his old stuff.

He does grimace over the takeout that Gojyo brings home, but not in a posh way, just as if he’s someone who knows a little something about cooking and can’t bear to see amateurs botch the job.

He doesn’t tell Gojyo where he’s been or what he’s been doing. Not the details, anyway. But he says it has to do with information; it’s his job to get information no one else can, information that’s so secret, so well-guarded, that it doesn’t exist on any computer in the world.

When he speaks, he runs a hand over the sleek silver case that he keeps beside Gojyo’s bed, but he doesn’t elaborate, and Gojyo doesn’t press.

When he finishes telling elaborate-yet-slightly-vague stories about jobs he’s pulled in Morocco and Argentina, Gojyo takes over, and talks about the little cons he’s pulled nearby, the bigger heists he’s helped with.

He glosses over the unfortunate parts, the parts where he’s almost been killed, but he gets the feeling Hakkai is doing the same with his own stories, so that’s all right.

Things settle. They settle with a speed that should be surprising and maybe even a little alarming, but somehow isn’t. It’s something Gojyo keep to himself, the way it’s so easy to get used to Hakkai’s presence in his apartment, Hakkai’s voice telling him stories and chiding him for leaving his socks on the floor or getting careless with emptying the ashtray.

He doesn’t have any particular desire to admit that he likes Hakkai, likes him more than is entirely reasonable, actually, given that he’s known the man for all of three weeks and originally found him face-down and bleeding out in a pile of garbage.

He definitely doesn’t want to admit that having this strange, pale, sharp-eyed man living with him feels right, like something that has been missing in his life has finally slotted into place.

And he really, really doesn’t want to admit that he’s absolutely desperate to know the secret of the silver suitcase.

It’s not because he particularly cares about whatever it was Hakkai had been doing that led him to that alley, but because he wants to know everything about Hakkai, absolutely everything. He wants to know every little detail, wants to hoard that knowledge so that maybe he can make himself believe that Hakkai isn’t going to leave as soon as he gets better, that he isn’t going to be left alone again.

It’s stupid and incredibly humiliating, all of it, and Gojyo keeps these feelings shoved in the back of his head.

He doesn’t even think about saying any of it out loud, because telling somebody you’d just met that you feel like you’ve known them all your life and you never want them to leave is really fucking weird and creepy.

If he actually admits any of it, Hakkai’ll probably bolt for the door. Possibly after knifing him in the gut, or maybe shooting him. So Gojyo keeps it to himself, and lets himself enjoy the company.

He knows it isn’t going to last.

A guy like Hakkai…a guy like him always has other things to do, other places to go, and as soon as he can get up and move around without ripping open half his stitches, Gojyo knows he’ll be gone.

And that’s okay, because then maybe Gojyo will have a nice memory about all this, something to look back on when he’s old and grey…or however old and grey he actually manages to get, which probably isn’t actually going to be all that old or grey, considering his lifestyle.

The point is, maybe someday he’ll get to look back on this and think about that guy who had lived with him for a month, the guy whose last name and birthday he hadn’t even known, but who had made him feel like a light-switch had been flipped somewhere inside his chest.

He can’t ask for anything more.

It’s just how it’s got to be.

Gojyo resigns himself to having nothing left but his memories and the blood-stained, tattered remnants of a suit jacket.

All the same, he’s still pretty excited when Hakkai is finally well enough to get out of bed, and the first thing he does is open up the mystery suitcase to show it to Gojyo.

***

“This,” Hakkai says, with a faint, wry smile that doesn’t really reach his eyes, “this will sound very strange, I know, but please bear with me.”

He taps a finger on one of the vials of clear fluid tucked into the machine.

“This is a compound called Somnacin. It induces an immediate REM cycle, a deep state of lucid dreaming that lasts as long as the compound is present in the bloodstream.”

Gojyo reaches out a hand and, after an approving nod from Hakkai, prods the various parts of the machine.

It doesn’t seem terribly exciting; in fact, it hadn’t even seemed all that exciting when he’d gone over the thing while Hakkai had still been in a coma. It’s interesting because he’s never seen anything like it before, but it doesn’t seem to actually do much.

“It’s a sedative?” Gojyo asks doubtfully, when it seems that Hakkai is waiting for him to say something.

“No.” Hakkai gives him a weird, amused little look, like he knows something Gojyo doesn’t. “It’s more than that.”

He withdraws one of the little rubber tubes. Gojyo notices they have a needle on the end, like an IV line.

“Several people can be given the compound at once, and when they are all hooked up to the same machine, they can actually experience one another’s dreams.”

When Gojyo doesn’t say anything, Hakkai gives him another strange smile.

“They can control their environment, as well as explore one another’s subconscious.”

Gojyo flicks the IV tube with a thumb.

He doesn’t exactly know what to say to that. It sounds like something out of a science fiction movie. Stranger things had happened, sure, but he also isn’t exactly 100% sure that Hakkai isn’t a little bit weird in the head, as fascinating and gorgeous as he might be.

“So…where’d you get it?” he asks, after rifling through a few potential responses in his head. This seems the safest of the many questions on the tip of his tongue.

“Oh, it’s military technology. It was developed for the army, for training purposes.”

“You’re military?” Gojyo feels himself smirk.

He can sort of see it, but he sort of can’t. There’s something rigid and dignified in Hakkai’s posture, something controlled and disciplined in his voice and gestures, but after talking with the man for five minutes, Gojyo had been pretty sure that he was the kind of guy who wouldn’t take orders from anybody.

“For a time, I was,” Hakkai agrees lightly. “Then my superiors and I had a…parting of the ways.”

Gojyo politely does not ask how much blood had been spilled in that ‘parting of the ways’. He doesn’t particularly want to know, come to think of it.

“So, how many of these are kicking around out there?” He nudges the machine.

“A few,” Hakkai says, noncommittal. “Some are still being used by the state. Others are being used for,” he pauses, “other purposes.”

“International espionage?” Gojyo offers.

Hakkai gives him a brilliant smile that contains altogether too many teeth.

Gojyo finds himself equal parts intimidated and aroused. It’s kind of awkward.

“There are many purposes that something like this can be applied to.”

Gojyo nods like he gets it, even though he totally doesn’t.

“The difficulty,” Hakkai continues slowly, after a moment of silence, “the difficulty is in maintaining one’s grasp on reality.”

Gojyo blinks.

“Uh. What?”

Hakkai gives another smile that holds absolutely no trace of amusement.

“Dreams are very real, aren’t they? Once you have discovered how easy it is to experience another reality, it can become difficult to remember whether you’re dreaming or awake.”

“Uh,” Gojyo says again, intelligently. He really, really does not know what to say to that, and finds himself forced to return to his ‘not 100% there’ theory.

“You doubt it?” Hakkai tilts his head, like he’s some kind of professor holding a theoretical discussion.

Gojyo shrugs, suddenly uncomfortable.

“Um. No offense, but sort of? I mean. You know when you’re dreaming.”

Hakkai smiles thinly.

“Do you?”

Gojyo stays silent.

Hakkai reaches over to the side of the bed, where he keeps the neatly folded remains of his bloodied jacket.

“There’s one method of discerning the difference between reality and a dream.”

He pops one of the cufflinks off the jacket and holds it in his palm.

“An object. One that only you know the weight and texture of. You keep it with you at all times, and when you are in doubt, you hold it in your hand.”

He reaches over with his other hand and picks up the cufflink between his thumb and forefinger.

“If the object does not behave the way you know it should, then you know that you’re still dreaming.”

The whole thing is sort of making Gojyo’s head spin. He looks from Hakkai’s hand, to the machine, and back to Hakkai’s eyes, bright and expectant.

It doesn’t make any sense. It doesn’t even seem real.

Hakkai tilts his head again.

“There is another method,” he says slowly. “When one is dreaming, one always enters the middle of the dream. You never remember the beginning of a dream, do you?”

Gojyo shifts uncomfortably, and shrugs. Yeah, sure. He guesses that maybe that’s true.

Hakkai’s eyes lock on his, sharp and ethereally green.

“How did we get here, Gojyo?”

Gojyo stares.

The question makes absolutely no sense. He stares some more.

Hakkai’s expression gentles slightly. “How did we come to be here?”

Reluctantly, Gojyo thinks about it.

They’d been talking. They’d gone into the bedroom, because Hakkai had said…

No, that wasn’t right. They’d been eating dinner, and then. Then…

The ground trembles underneath him.

Gojyo jumps up, and backs away from the bed.

Earthquake? No. No, he’d been talking with Hakkai, and then…and then…

Suddenly, the world caves in, dissolving and exploding all at the same time, and Hakkai is saying something to him, but he can’t hear over the roaring in his head.

Gojyo surfaces, gasping.

He’s lying on the floor of his bedroom, and there is the unfamiliar sensation of a needle in his vein. The room around him is clear and sharp and real, more real than it had been moments ago, but he hadn’t known that, then.

He hadn’t known.

Hakkai’s hand grasps his arm, and Gojyo jerks in surprise. But Hakkai just gives him a calm, measured look, and sets about removing the needle and doing something to the machine.

Gojyo lies back and listens to the blood pounding in his ears. Air seems to drag its way in and out of his lungs, and he feels like he might throw up.

“You did very well.”

Gojyo lets his head fall to the side and stares at Hakkai. He wants to sit up, or do something other than lie on the floor gasping like a dying fish, but he really doesn’t feel up to it.

Hakkai isn’t looking at him, still fiddling with the machine, but his voice is kind.

Reality is slowly trickling back in.

Gojyo remembers now, the way he hadn’t before. Remembers Hakkai talking to him, showing him the machine, having him lie down before tucking the needle under his skin. The darkness swam up faster than Gojyo had been expecting, and the next thing he knew he was in his room, but it wasn’t his room, and everything he thought he knew had evaporated.

His head hurts.

“That’s one hell of a drug you’ve got there,” he croaks, when he finds his voice again.

Hakkai’s crooked smile seems to be a silent apology.

“You did want me to show you,” he says lightly.

Of course he’d wanted Hakkai to show him. You couldn’t go around telling someone that you could hook them up to a machine that could let them share dreams, and not have them want to see for themselves.

Or maybe you could, if that person wasn’t Gojyo. But he’d always been curious, always been a hands-on learner.

Hakkai’s sleeves are pushed up above his elbows, and Gojyo can see faint track marks scattered across the pale skin of his wrist, his inner arm. He hadn’t noticed them before.

“How long…?” he starts, but his throat clicks, suddenly dry, and he has to stop and swallow.

Hakkai seems to know what he’s trying to ask anyway.

“Oh, ages. Actually, I grew up with it, you might say.” His smile is cold, remote.

Gojyo wants to ask; he wants to know. He really does. He wants to know everything about Hakkai, because there’s something there, something hidden inside him that Gojyo recognizes in a way he can’t explain.

But then he thinks about how Hakkai has been doing this for years, when he isn’t any older than Gojyo. He thinks about government lab-rats, and Hakkai’s so-called retirement from whatever state job he’d held. He thinks about the shadows that flicker in the back of Hakkai’s eyes sometimes, the cool, remote way he looks at things sometimes, like he’s thinking about how many people he could kill and how quickly he could do it.

Gojyo doesn’t ask.

He lets Hakkai clean and repack the strange little machine. He’s almost recovered, and Gojyo knows without having to ask that Hakkai won’t stick around much longer. There’s somewhere he needs to be, though he’s never said as much outright.

Hakkai shuts the case with a soft snick, and Gojyo pushes himself up onto his elbows to watch.

Hakkai gives him another smile, this one faint and somewhat wan. “How did you like it?”

Gojyo really doesn’t know what to say.

The pounding in his head has receded, and the nausea and fear that he felt when he first awoke have drained away. Everything has returned to the way it was before, except for a distant, wispy sensation in the corner of his mind, like he’s opened a door he hadn’t known was there.

He wants to try again, and he tells Hakkai so.

Hakkai laughs, dry and humorless.

“You should be careful. This…some people find it rather addictive.”

There’s something there in his tone, something that says that he knows, that he’s seen things go very wrong.

Gojyo sits up fully.

“Well. If it’s so addictive, you probably shouldn’t have let me try it in the first place.”

Hakkai gives him a sharp glance and smoothes his hands over the case. His hands are neat, well-groomed, uncalloused.

Gojyo looks at them and then looks down at his own hands.

“You asked,” Hakkai says, as if reminding him of something he’s forgotten.

“You could’ve said no.”

Hakkai is silent for a moment, and then he stands, nudging the case back against the wall.

“Perhaps I should have.”

“Are you addicted?”

It’s entirely too blunt; Gojyo knows that as soon as the words are out of his mouth. But he asks anyway, because he has to know, has to know if that’s what put the shadows in Hakkai’s eyes.

Hakkai looks at him and then turns away and moves toward the door.

Gojyo thinks for a minute that he isn’t going to answer, he’s going to pretend he hadn’t heard anything, but Hakkai pauses, his hand on the door.

“There are different kinds of addiction.”

***

Gojyo chews that over as he lies on the couch that night, staring up at the water-stained ceiling.

He knows a little something about addiction. More than some…less than most, maybe, but he knows something.

He doesn’t feel any physical pull now. There’s no gnawing sensation in the pit of his stomach, no pulse in his blood that aches for another hit. There are only questions, thousands of them, and when Gojyo tries to forget about them or stuff them back in the box they came from, they just spill out again.

He can’t sleep. Though he wants to, if only to see if it’s any different than it had been before. But it’s too much.

Hakkai is asleep in the other room, and Gojyo knows in some deep-down primal way that Hakkai is leaving, slipping away.

Maybe he’ll be gone by tomorrow morning; maybe he’ll leave the day after that. It doesn’t matter. The point is, he’s going to go away, and Gojyo feels, stupidly, like he’s about to lose a piece of himself.

He thought at first that he could just take this strange guy in, patch him up, and send him on his way; he thought he’d forget about the guy afterward, except for the occasional stray thought sometimes. Like, Remember that guy…? I wonder what ever happened to him.

But now, if Hakkai up and left tomorrow…Gojyo wouldn’t miss him, precisely, not anymore than he’d miss his left arm if someone hacked it off and toted it away. He’d live. But something inside himself would be rubbed out, erased.

Gojyo discovers that he’d gotten to his feet without actually intending to do so. But once he’s up, it seems like a perfectly natural thing to push open the door to the bedroom and slip in.

The case is still there, propped against the wall by the bed.

Gojyo knows, as he edges over to the bed, that this is stupid and weird and a little creepy. He knows he should not be doing this, should not be in here, despite the fact that it’s his own damned bedroom.

Still. If he startles Hakkai awake, the man might actually cut his throat or something. And Gojyo doesn’t even really know what he’s doing here, what he’s looking for.

The case glimmers in the dim light. Gojyo touches it carefully and reaches for the clasp.

Hakkai’s hand locks around his wrist.

Gojyo doesn’t jump or flinch. He expected it, somehow.

He doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t know what to say.

For a long moment Hakkai’s hand grips his wrist. Then, slowly, it loosens and falls away.

“What are you doing, Gojyo?”

He sounds tired, like he thinks he knows the answer to that question. But Gojyo isn’t so sure about that.

“Let me come with you.”

He didn’t mean to say it, and as soon as the words are out of his mouth, he feels his face grow hot. He sounds so desperate.

Hakkai is silent for several seconds, apparently stunned, and then he sighs very heavily.

“Gojyo…no. You can’t.”

His voice is very kind, very gentle, and that somehow make it worse.

Gojyo wishes he could see Hakkai’s face, but it’s too dark.

“Why not?”

He shouldn’t ask, he knows he shouldn’t ask.

It’s pathetic, to keep asking when Hakkai has said no. He should get up, go back to the couch and pretend that this conversation never happened. Salvage some of his dignity, maybe.

But he can’t help asking again, and there’s a horrible pleading note in his voice, like a kid who’s been told they can’t have another piece of candy.

“Gojyo…” Hakkai sighs again.

Gojyo hears him rustling around, sitting up on the bed. There’s a thin stream of light creeping around the edge of the cheap curtains that never quite fit the length of the window, and it casts a shadow over Hakkai’s face.

Gojyo picks at his thumbnail and tries to avoid Hakkai’s eyes.

“There are. There are things I must do.” Hakkai’s voice grows soft and full of steel. “There are debts I must repay. I cannot ask you to help me.”

It’s funny, Gojyo thinks, that Hakkai says it like that, like he was the one asking for something.

Hakkai exhales heavily, like he’s exhausted, like he’s just finished running a marathon. Like it’s hard for him to keep talking.

“I couldn’t put you in that kind of danger.”

Gojyo doesn’t mean to start laughing, but he can’t help it. He feels Hakkai go very still and stiff, and makes himself stop.

“You think I don’t know that? You think I don’t know…”

He muffles another laugh and reaches out to grope clumsily at Hakkai’s hand.

“Look. I’m not stupid. I don’t know what’s going on, but I get that you’re going somewhere, and you don’t plan on coming back.”

He doesn’t say that he knows what that kind of desperate determination looks like, that he’s seen it on the faces of too many people before they went off and then came back in body bags, or not at all.

“Look,” he says again, because it is somehow very important that Hakkai understands this.

“I’m not asking you for…” he falters then, because he doesn’t actually know what it is he isn’t asking for. “Just let me come. Maybe, between the two of us, you’ll have a better shot.”

Hakkai doesn’t say anything. His hand is frozen underneath Gojyo’s, and Gojyo squeezes it hard. He forces another laugh.

“You can’t show a guy something like this,” he kicks blindly at the metal case, “and then expect him not to want another shot at it.”

In the darkness, Hakkai’s voice comes out thin and tight.

“I can’t ask you to…”

You’re not asking. I am.” Gojyo pauses and chews his lip. “And I know what I’m asking, okay, so don’t think you’ve gotta protect me or something.”

He feels, more than sees, Hakkai will start to crumble.

Gojyo traces his fingers up Hakkai’s palm and presses at the soft, faded marks on the inside of Hakkai’s wrist. Some of them are so old, and he wants to know where they came from. Maybe someday Hakkai will tell him. If he gets to stick around.

“Let me come,” he presses. “Just for a while. You can get rid of me whenever you want.”

Hakkai laughs then, and he sounds so sad that Gojyo clutches his wrist with both hands.

“Oh, Gojyo,” he says softly, and rests his other hand on top of Gojyo’s. “I don’t think that will be the problem.”

***

This is how it ends:

It ends with a pile of bodies, and it ends in a thousand minds corrupted, driven mad by a poisoned supply of Somanacin distributed by a chemist with a broken mind and a grudge decades old. It ends when they find him, and put an end to his life.

It ends with the two of them crossing paths with an architect with hard eyes, a face like an angel, and so many secrets Gojyo doesn’t think even Hakkai could pry them out with a dozen vials of Somnacin and a thousand years.

It ends with Gojyo learning how to shape his body like water and change it so he can look like anyone, any thing he wants. It ends with him discovering how to make worlds, beautiful and terrible worlds, and bring them crashing down in an instant.

It ends with the two of them standing on a barren beach together, feeling the raw potential surging around their feet like the tide. It ends with two of them, together.

But none of that is actually the end at all. It’s the beginning.


Date: 2011-09-12 12:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] new-kate.livejournal.com
Oh god, this is amazing. I loved it to bits. Wow.

Date: 2011-09-15 12:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cicer.livejournal.com
Thank you very much! :D

Date: 2011-09-12 05:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] toscas-kiss.livejournal.com
Wow, that was a brilliantand believable interweaving. Loved it. ;-)

Date: 2011-09-15 12:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cicer.livejournal.com
Thank you!

Date: 2011-09-12 11:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wk-recomend.livejournal.com
*bounces all over the place in excitement* EEEE!!!! I cannot wait to read this XD (and if it makes you feel better, I'm still working on my help_japan fic ^^;;;; so no worries at all <3)

I've got some dinner plans I'm heading out the door for and then this will be read as soon as I get back and commented on for real <3 I cannot waaaaaaaiiiiit~! (do I have to go to dinner? I can just skip it, right? *g*)

Date: 2011-09-13 01:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wk-recomend.livejournal.com
*FLAILS*I have no words <3 This was perfect and I love it *hugs* Thank you so much! *goes back to read again*

Date: 2011-09-15 12:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cicer.livejournal.com
Yaaaaay! :D I'm so happy you liked it!

And I'm so glad I'm not the only one who's been taking their h_j fics at an, ahem, leisurely pace. XD I felt really bad about the delay!

Date: 2011-09-13 10:36 pm (UTC)
indelicateink: gojyo (saiyuki - hakkai - peek)
From: [personal profile] indelicateink
This is wonderful! :3 Very well done.

Date: 2011-09-15 12:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cicer.livejournal.com
Thank you!

Date: 2011-09-15 01:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lady-ganesh.livejournal.com
This is fantastic. (Of course Sanzo's an architect.)

If you ever feel like writing more, it'd also be totally worth the wait....

Date: 2011-09-15 02:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cicer.livejournal.com
Thank you! I must admit, I'm terribly tempted to write more. *bites knuckle*

And yes, when I was trying to work out exactly what role all the Saiyuki character would play in Inception-verse, my very first thought was, Well, Sanzo would be an architect. Obviously. XD

Date: 2011-09-17 03:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lady-ganesh.livejournal.com
You made it all work so well!

Hahaha, yes. Obviously.

February 2012

S M T W T F S
   1234
56 7891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
26272829   

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Jul. 24th, 2017 08:37 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios