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There are days when he wakes up and is thrown into confusion, his heart pounding and his mind racing and fear tasting black and thick in his mouth, because he doesn't remember and when he sees the empty side of the bed, all he can think is 'where is she?'

There are moments when he's thrown completely into the past -- a smell, a laugh, the sunshine on golden meadows -- and he turns around, reaching his hand out to her, like he always does, and she isn't there.

There are nights when he's in the kitchen, making dinner, and it seems so logical to take the heavy kitchen knife and slide it under the skin of his face and peel away the offending flesh, to cut out his voice and tongue until he's mute, because every reflection he sees and every word he speaks reminds him of who he isn't, mocks him with who he used to be.

But then Gojyo comes back into the room, or jostles his shoulder as he walks past or takes the heavy knife out of his hands, and Cho Gonou is gone again, banished from the body that once was his, Hakkai is back, and the world no longer looks like it's inverted.

"A man is made of more than just his past," Gojyo tells him, a sweet lie that only those who have remade themselves can say. He smiles like cooking oil on top of a puddle, slick and glossy and unable to hide what he really is beneath that sheen, and his tug on the waistband of Hakkai's pants is somewhere between an invitation and a demand; between a pleasure and a need.

He understands.

"We can build him a tomb, if you want."

Hakkai shakes his head, even as he leans in and touches Gojyo until Cho Gonou's voice is nothing but a distant itch inside his head.

The past is tangled with the future, the dead twisted with the living.

This is but another cycle on the great wheel, penance for his sins, and even if it is a little strange to be reborn into the same body, Hakkai has always been strong in all his incarnations.

But as Gojyo's hair slides through his fingers, as his body anchors him into the now, Hakkai can't help but think that his punishment shouldn't be so enjoyable.