Gojyo tried to not make important decisions while drunk. It wasn't that doing so in the past had ever led to anything disastrous--the worst things he'd done in his life had had no prompting from alcohol--but it just seemed like the thing to do.
Making important decisions based on the suggestions of other drunk people, he had a lot more experience with, thanks to Banri. Now that he was older and hopefully a little wiser, he tried not to do that, either.
None of which explained why he was walking...well, okay, stumbling home right now with determination in each step, all on the advice of some well-liquored strangers in a tiny, off-the-beaten-path town en route to India.
The townspeople who he'd gotten to know over a dozen friendly rounds of beer--increasingly friendly with each successive round--had been surprisingly willing to listen when Gojyo got in a talking mood. This may of course have been because he'd paid for half of the rounds himself, but Gojyo liked to think there was at least a little more to it than that.
They listened when he talked about never wanting to be tied down before, but how he'd gotten to the point where freedom felt like even more of a burden; when he talked about being horny all the fricking time because doing it with random girls had started to feel wrong; when he talked about how he couldn't ever make a move because he wasn't a fucking coward, all right, but he seriously thought that rejection might kill him.
One of them--Bai Yang, Gojyo thought his name was--had slung a sympathetic arm around his shoulders around this point and said, "You've got a dumbass way of doing things."
Gojyo cut short his monologue, which had drifted towards musing on eyes as green and bottomless as a mountain lake, and squinted at him, trying to decide if it was worth getting offended.
Oblivious to the danger, Bai Yang gestured broadly at one of the men sitting across the table. "Take Dan Xin. He had a girl he was crazy about, and he'd come in here every Friday night and get like you are, and we all figured he'd take another decade before he got up the guts to ask her out. Only then she died, see, and he missed his chance."
Gojyo's eyes darted over to Dan Xin, who only nodded at this callous retelling. "Influenza," he said, almost apologetically. "It was a few years ago, and I've got a wife and all now. But I still kind of wish I'd said something to Mei Li back then."
"Right?" Bai Yang added, slapping Gojyo's back in friendly punctuation.
"Yeah, okay," Gojyo said, just to be polite, and ordered another round of drinks on him.
Half a beer later, he slammed his bottle down on the table and got up.
"You going already?" a nameless guy across the table asked, with the disappointed look of someone who'd hoped to win back some of the money Gojyo'd relieved him of at the gaming table earlier that night.
"I've got an early morning," Gojyo said evasively. He sketched a wave at the rest of the room--most of whom ignored him, though a few waved back--and left.
It was a small town, but the single bar was at the far end of town from the inn. It could've been a bad business decision, but Sanzo's party constituted the sum total of guests at the inn, and, based on the fact that the innkeeper was also the resident blacksmith, the current dearth of travelers wasn't atypical.
So Gojyo could see why the owner of the bar thought it more important to cater to the local crowd. That didn't mean he enjoyed walking home in the misty cold that sank into his bones, especially as each chilly step brought him closer to being sober. He didn't want to think, didn't want to be rational, because then he might talk himself out of...what was probably a really stupid idea, in point of fact.
The pale light of the inn swam waterily out of the darkness, and Gojyo hurried his steps a little. There was no one in the common room downstairs, and he took the stairs quietly so as not to wake anyone. There was a narrow strip of light shining from underneath the door of the room he was sharing with Hakkai, though, so he rapped on it once in warning before opening the door.
Hakkai was sitting on the bed that he'd laid claim to earlier that evening, an open book in his hands and Hakuryuu draped over his shoulders. "Did you have a good time?" he asked politely.
"Yeah," Gojyo said, not bothering to ask himself if he were lying. "You?"
Hakkai smiled briefly. "I'm not enjoying this book as much as I'd hoped," he confessed. "I've already discovered fourteen grammatical mistakes and two historical inaccuracies, and I'm only on page fifty-seven."
"That sucks," Gojyo said, just a bit too keyed up for a literary discussion, for fuck's sake. He crossed the room and plucked the book out of Hakkai's hands and placed it on the bedside table.
"Gojyo--" Hakkai began, frowning a little, and Gojyo leaned in, fast, and kissed him. Hakkai's mouth was soft and wet, and Gojyo tasted it with his tongue for a few sweet seconds before pulling away.
Hakkai stared at him, his mismatched eyes wide and startled, and Gojyo stared back helplessly. His heart was pounding a panicky rhythm in his chest, but there wasn't anything he could do or say at this point; he just had to wait for Hakkai's answer. And then Hakkai leaned forward, a little hesitantly, and kissed him back.
Gojyo's heartbeat didn't slow for a second, but he didn't think it was because he was scared anymore. And then he slid his hands up underneath Hakkai's shirt and had to reassess that thought, because he couldn't keep his hands from fucking shaking. Fortunately, Hakkai didn't seem to care; he arched into Gojyo's touch with soft, decadent moans, and Gojyo had had guys before, okay, but nobody who'd looked or tasted or felt this good.
Hakuryuu had slipped away at some point, as Gojyo noticed belatedly when he eased Hakkai down onto the bed and wasn't impaled by sixteen talons belonging to a dragon who took a dim view of being used as a pillow. And then Hakuryuu became the absolute last thing on his mind when Hakkai twisted his arms around Gojyo's neck and pulled him down to lie on him, tilting his face up for yet another kiss.
Waking up to a cold, empty bed and with Hakkai halfway out the door felt like being backhanded. It felt like being abandoned for the last and worst time.
"Hey," he said, almost before he'd decided to speak, and Hakkai froze.
He didn't turn around, though, just kept looking down at... "Hey, would ya stop staring at your hands all the frickin' time? Creeps me out," Gojyo said, as lightly as he could manage when he wanted to fucking hit something. "What, did that line Goku drew on you finally wash off?"
"No," Hakkai said slowly. "Well, yes, it did after a few weeks. I thought you were asleep."
A cold place opened up inside Gojyo's stomach, because that sounded almost like Hakkai had wanted him to be asleep. Like Hakkai had wanted to do something that he'd hesitate to do while Gojyo was awake. "I was, 'til some guy crawled out of bed and let in all the cold air," Gojyo said like it was all a big joke, glaring at Hakkai meaningfully.
Hakkai didn't answer, and Gojyo swallowed harshly, forced himself to add, "You leavin'?"
Hakkai looked at him for a long moment, their eyes meeting for the first time since they'd fucked. "No," Hakkai said, even more slowly. "No. I was just... thinking."
"Maybe this isn't for me."
The cold place in Gojyo's stomach hurt suddenly, and he flinched without meaning to, his body trying futilely to curl in on itself and protect the tender, raw pain at his center. He managed a smile, though, for Hakkai, because it wasn't his fault. Gojyo should have known better. He did know better, really: Hakkai only ever talked about women and, even more damningly, only had eyes for his dead sister.
"It's not you--" Hakkai began, and Gojyo was hard-pressed to not laugh out loud. For someone with a fairly unconventional love life, Hakkai sure had a good handle on all the best cliched rejections.
So, yeah, okay, it wasn't a problem with who he was; they'd been friends for years, and Hakkai had to like him at least a little. It was just all the things he wasn't, all the ways he fell short of what Hakkai needed: someone pretty and female and fully human. Someone like Kanan.
"Don't make me have to go knock some sense into you," Gojyo said half-heartedly, because Hakkai ought to know better than to pull this kind of shit with him. Gojyo'd always been a rip-the-bandaid-off kind of guy. If something was going to hurt, then let it fucking hurt. As if to underscore the thought, the pain in his gut twisted a little to remind Gojyo of its presence, and he clamped down on the urge to press his hand over it while Hakkai was watching.
Something in what he said must have gotten through to Hakkai, though, because he turned away from the door and came back to the bed. He sat close enough that the mattress dipped and curled them closer together. Their shoulders brushed together, but Hakkai either didn't notice or didn't care.
"Maybe," he said, "...maybe I shouldn't be too happy."
Gojyo blinked, uncertain for a second that he'd heard what he thought he'd heard. And then all his terror and self-recrimination rushed out of his body with a sigh. Apparently, when someone like Hakkai said, It's not you, it's me, he actually meant it. "That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard," he said.
Hakkai nodded. Gojyo seriously didn't know whether he wanted to smack him or laugh or give him a fucking hug. Fortunately, Hakkai took the decision out of his hands and leaned down for a kiss. He was trying to slide his pants off at the same time and totally failing--so much for any faith Gojyo might have had in Hakkai's ability to multi-task--but that was okay, because Gojyo was completely willing to give him a helping hand.