I Can Explain but I Won't
They'd passed a promising-looking tavern on their way into town and after dinner, Gojyo made a beeline for it. He really needed to get away from his companions for a while and hopefully, he'd also get laid. He'd gone way too long with his hand as his only nightly companion.
He paused, staring at a churchyard and the gigantic pointy church—one of those western-style, complicated-looking things, complete with graves situated around it. In the dark it was kind of scary looking. Not that he was afraid or anything.
He lit a cigarette and thought about walking past those graves in the dark with the ancient trees looming like sentinels. He shivered. He could see the tavern just beyond the church, but to get there he had only two options: take the long way which would add another twenty minutes to his hike, or walk through the graveyard.
"Fuck it," he said to the wind, focusing on the warm lights of the tavern. He needed beer and women and no scary church was keeping him from it!
He stepped on the path and walked with purpose. Okay, maybe a little faster than usual, but so what?
"Heeeeeeeelp!" a voice cried.
Gojyo felt his scalp prickle and he froze. Just then the wind whispered through the trees, making limbs creak and leaves rustle.
"Is there anyone out there? I'm stuck!"
Gojyo shook his head. Ghosts didn't usually get stuck and zombies usually had more trouble pronouncing S's. "Um, hello?"
"Oh, thank goodness! I'm afraid I've fallen and I can't get out. Could you be so good as to lend me a hand?"
"Where are you?" Gojyo looked over the graves and took a few steps toward the voice.
"I'm down here, in a hole."
The pure dark in the graveyard was overwhelming, but after a moment, Gojyo spotted a mound of dirt and next to it, a freshly dug grave. Well, that made more sense. Probably a gravedigger got too ambitious.
The person in the hole wasn't a gravedigger, or even a member of the church (and it definitely wasn't a zombie, so that was a plus). Actually, it was worse.
"You've got to be kidding me," Gojyo sighed.
"Oh! It's you!" Zakuro gazed up from the hole, disheveled and muddy and hurt. He was relieved to see another human being, even if it was this particular human. "Well, I would've preferred someone who was not my mortal enemy, but in this case, beggars, as you know, cannot be choosers!"
"What are you doing down there? Don't tell me you fell?" Gojyo laughed; he couldn't help it. The rambling nutcase looked ridiculous, with dirty smudges on his face and his arms flapping in distress. Some mortal enemy.
"The Mighty Zakuro did not fall!" Zakuro did not appreciate this Gojyo character looking down on him.
"Really?" Gojyo puffed on his cigarette and gazed longingly at the distant tavern. "So you purposely climbed into the hole?"
Zakuro's brow furrowed as he said, "Th-that hadn't been the Mighty Zakuro's original intention."
"So you did fall?"
Zakuro didn't answer but he did glare magnificently. Too bad the pit was so dark, because it made the full effect of his dislike less noticeable. But the Gojyo character was avoiding eye contact anyway.
The wind caught a wispy cloud of smoke from Gojyo's cigarette and it tumbled into nothingness. "You know that hole is a grave, right?"
"Well, I'm in a cemetery, so I would hope it's a grave!" Really, if Zakuro wasn't in such a tight spot and helpless, cold, and injured, he would've thrown much cleverer insults. As it was, Gojyo happened to be the first person he'd seen in several hours.
"You didn't dig up anyone, did you?" Gojyo shuddered and quickly looked around.
The nerve of the Gojyo character! With as much disdain as a half-frozen and chattering Zakuro could muster, he said, "The M- mighty Zakuro is not into that sort of thing! Th- th- thank you very much!"
"Hey, you're the crazy bastard who packs a skull around all the time. You had to get it from somewhere; why not a graveyard?" The wind returned, rustling louder through the gnarly tree branches. Creepy. "Well, okay then. See you around."
"The M- mighty Zakuro is in a bit of a pickle. His ankle is injured and he can't seem to manage the climb. Perhaps you would be so good as to help me get out?"
"Oh, man, seriously?" Gojyo could see the walls of Zakuro's grave were loose; apparently he'd tried climbing out a few times. The dumbass was stuck in the hole, that much was clear. But Gojyo didn't feel like helping. He usually didn't like people who tried to kill him. Except for Sanzo, of course.
But it was pretty freaking cold and felt like it would get a lot colder before morning. Gojyo couldn't leave him. Could he?
Zakuro held his breath as Gojyo stared down at him. Sure, they were technically enemies, but Gojyo was also a notorious softy. Then again, Zakuro had set him on fire. Well, not really, but you know. Some folks held grudges over that kind of thing. In order to tip the scales in Zakuro's favor, perhaps it was time to make the ultimate sacrifice.
He shook out his arms, rotated his head, and hopped up and down on his good leg a few times. He exhaled; made the saddest eyes he could, and said, "P- please?"
Gojyo sighed. Son of a … Fine. He summoned his shakugetsujou.
"No, wait!" Zakuro threw his arms in the air and flailed a bit. In all fairness, it was a deep grave, just big enough for a body, so there wasn't a lot of room to flail in the fashion to which he was accustomed. Even so, Zakuro was good at what he did, especially if he was allowed to do it dramatically, and being trapped in a freshly dug grave did lend his arm-waving a certain savoir-faire.
Gojyo blinked, watching Zakuro race back and forth in a narrow hole in the ground. Somehow it was both pathetic and hilarious. He blinked again. Sure, it was dark down there, but what he saw wasn't right, was it? He set the end of the shakugetsujou in the ground and waited for another pass from Zakuro.
"D- don't kill me!" Zakuro shouted. "The Mi- mighty Zak—"
"Are you wearing a dress?" Gojyo said, leaning on his shakugetsujou and taking a drag on his cigarette.
Zakuro looked down. Oh, he'd forgotten about that. No wonder the family jewels were in such a state of chill! "Well, yes. You see, it's rather a lengthy stor—"
"Nevermind." Gojyo shook his head. He wasn't up for a long-winded tale; he had a bar to get to. "Don't really want to know."
"Well then," Zakuro crossed his arms. "I believe you were going to help me?"
"Welp, anything for a lady," Gojyo said as he set the shakugetsujou in motion.
"No! Don't!" This time, Zakuro added a blood-curdling scream as he ran back and forth. His life was supposed to end in glory (that is, if he didn't figure out how to live forever. He was still working on that). But dying in a hole in the ground and wearing a dress? Slain by his mortal enemy without a chance? This was not the kind of death bards sang about!
Gojyo actually grinned. For the most part he practiced the old standby of live and let live. He was also big on forgiveness and that kind of shit. But, in this case he actually felt pretty good about scaring the crap out of Zakuro. It was only fair, after all. "Stand still, you freak, or I really will kill you!"
Zakuro stopped and closed his eyes, waiting for the strike. But instead of that wicked blade tearing him in half, there was a solid thunk next to his booted feet (boots with a dress were so last year, but they'd been all he could find in his size). After a moment of silence, he cracked open one eye to see the crescent blade buried into the soft earth next to his feet and the chain drawn tight. He looked up into the amused stare of the Gojyo character.
Smoothing out his dress, Zakuro said, "Ahem. I see."
Gojyo tossed his cigarette aside, looped the chain around his arm, and said, "Come on. I'd like to hit the tavern before closing time."
"Yes. I understand." Zakuro grabbed the chain and tested its strength. "The Mighty Zakuro—"
"Is pissing me off. Just climb the chain already!" Gojyo had really had enough of the guy. "And if you pull any of the mesmerizing stuff on me, I fucking will kill you."
Zakuro smirked. As if the puny mind of Sha Gojyo could stand up to … the chain hurt to climb; the cold metal tore at the soft skin on his hands and he could only use one foot to help with his ascension. But after a couple of links he was close enough to switch out the chain for something more substantial—something that didn't hurt his delicate hands.
That object turned out to be Gojyo's leg.
"Hey, what the fuck, you loser!" Gojyo kicked at him.
Zakuro was breathing hard. He really should endeavor to get a bit more exercise. And he didn't like the way Gojyo tried to kick him loose. Things could go horribly wrong here. He grabbed at Gojyo's leg with his other hand, snagging only fabric, saying, "Just one more—"
Gojyo liked his jeans. They'd been good buds for a long time now. They'd reached that silky softness that Hakkai called the threadbare state, where after a few more washings they'd simply disintegrate. But this pair wouldn't get that chance.
In the silence of the graveyard, the unusual sounds of heavy breathing and some colorful swearing gave way to a new sound—one of well-worn seams tearing and buttons popping.
And then Zakuro was on his hands and knees next to his pit, not in it. And Gojyo really did kick him. Zakuro responded with actions born of years of practice, covering his head with his arms and rolling into the fetal position.
"You fuck! I knew I should've left you in there to rot!"
Eventually nothing else happened and Zakuro looked up. Gojyo was still wearing pants, after a fashion, but they were more just bits of pants. He continued to swear as he futilely tried to put the torn ends of fabric back together to keep his important parts covered. Zakuro took advantage of Gojyo's preoccupation and, leaping to his feet, tried to run.
Gojyo was furious. He'd have to go back to the room and put on the scratchy new pair of jeans that were not the perfect, glove-like fit these were. Not to mention that today was laundry day and he'd had to go commando. The new pair would probably give him—
He caught movement out of the corner of his eye and saw Zakuro try to make a break for it.
"Oh, no you don't, you little shit!" Gojyo stomped on the hem of Zakuro's dress and the entire frilly, flowers-and-lace garment tore in two like tissue paper.
But there was still momentum to account for. Zakuro pitched face first into the grass of the graveyard, rear-end in the air, his dress basically gone and in nothing but some very drafty and not-at-all-covering purple-lace panties.
At the other end of the dress was Gojyo. Although the fabric tore during Zakuro's fall, there was also a sudden release of energy, enough force to pull Gojyo off balance. He windmilled frantically, trying to keep his balance, and stumbling a couple of steps, only to have his pants fall down around his ankles and trip him up completely.
He landed—naked for the most part—on top of Zakuro.
They struggled on the ground, trying to untangle torn bits of clothing and their little remaining dignity.
And that's when the lantern light hit them.
Father Jacob had been at his parish for nearly four decades and he'd seen some grave-robbing and vandalism in the cemetery. When he'd heard screaming, he'd assumed some of the local kids had come out to scare one another—that happened often enough—but he'd grabbed his lantern and cane, and hobbled out to investigate all the same.
He'd expected some horseplay, or maybe a couple of teenagers making out, but he hadn't expected to see this. Two grown men and they were—
"Oh, my sainted aunt!" Father Jacob quickly closed his eyes and crossed himself.
Oh good, Gojyo thought: a priest. "Uh, this isn't—"
"This is a graveyard, a holy site! On church grounds! Have you no decency, you blasphemous miscreants!?"
"Miscreants?" Zakuro could feel the anger swelling inside him and he needed to face his accuser! He tried to push Gojyo away with a backwards kick.
Gojyo was halfway upright when Zakuro's boot connected his thigh, knocking him off his feet. He collapsed, falling on top of Zakuro once again. "Ow! Stop it, you dumbass!"
The full weight of Gojyo landed on Zakuro's back and flattened him. Trying to catch his breath, he gasped as he said, "Miscreants? How dare you judge the Mighty Zakuro! Why, the very idea!"
"Stop it, you nasty heathens!" Father Jacob waved his cane around.
Gojyo rolled his eyes. He regained his balance and managed to pull his naked bits away from Zakuro's silky-clad ass. "Hey, even I gotta admit this does look pretty bad, you know."
Freed from his compromising position, Zakuro leapt to his feet, pushed down the tattered pieces of his dress, and straightened his back. Facing the misguided priest he said, "I assure you, my good man, that although this … this person," he pointed to Gojyo, "was trying to force me into—"
"What?" Gojyo shouted. "I was saving you, you ungrateful bas—"
"Quiet, both of you!" The priest held up his lantern. "Oh, holy father! It's a youkai!"
"Oh, shit," Gojyo groaned. The day just kept getting better.
"Muwhahaha! Yes, I am a youkai!" Zakuro waved his arms around in a sweeping gesture, knowing it was time to act. He stepped up and looked the priest in the eyes. "Look closely and behold the awesomeness that is the Mighty Zakuro!"
Everything went sideways for Father Jacob and he wavered on his feet, suddenly aware he was standing on a pile of skulls. "What's happening to me? Is it heathen magic?"
Zakuro said softly, "I think maybe you're having a dream right now."
Gojyo, on the other hand, had his own problems. He wasn't really trying to look, but those panties of Zakuro's weren't hiding much. He sighed. Man, he really needed to get laid if thinking about ripping off Zakuro's girl-panties was on the menu. Still … Zakuro did have his charms.
"Go home and wake up in your bed, all right?" Zakuro instructed.
The priest nodded and walked off.
Gojyo cleared his throat and said, "Handy." He tried to light a cigarette without having his pants fall to his ankles again. It took a few tries but he finally managed. He noticed Zakuro watching him closely.
"It is handy. But sometimes being the Mighty Zakuro is exhausting." Zakuro yawned. "I'm leaving now."
"Yeah, me too. Can't really go to the tavern without pants, I gotta change first." Gojyo took a long drag and thought asking Zakuro to join him. No, now he really was acting desperate. "Later."
No one moved. After a moment, Zakuro waved a hand halfheartedly and said, "Well, I suppose a 'thank you' is in order."
Gojyo shrugged. "Nah, let's just agree that we never talk about this again. Ever."
Zakuro nodded. "Done."
"Oh, and no more burning off my arm! I didn't enjoy that little trick one bit."
"Agreed." Zakuro sighed and limped away, wondering why he'd wanted to stay.
Over-all, his night had been a fiasco: first, being forced to wear a dress, and then nearly breaking his ankle with his fall, and finally being stuck for hours in a grave. He could've done without all of that nonsense.
But then again he'd been through much worse. And he remembered the sizable touch of Gojyo's private parts on his panty-clad rear-end. That part actually hadn't been so bad.
He stepped into the clearing just beyond the churchyard.
"There you are!" his accomplice hissed. "I've been waiting for hours! Where have you been and what happened to your clothes?"
"Well, a funny thing happened to the Mighty Zakuro on his journey here …"