Goku had never hated mountains more than he did at that moment. They hadn’t quite reached the summit before sunset, and since they couldn’t find a cave, they had taken refuge in a sort of enclosure formed by several large boulders. This high up, there wasn’t so much as a twig to make a fire, and even within the partial shelter created by the rocks, the stronger gusts of wind felt like tiny, frigid knives slicing into the exposed skin on Goku’s arms, legs, and face. He’d tried to wrap his cape around himself, but there wasn’t really enough fabric to cover more than his shoulders and upper arms.
Goku glanced over at Zakuro. The half-moon provided enough light for him to see that the youkai had his arms wrapped around his knees and was watching the widest gap between the boulders. Goku could also just about make out Zakuro’s facial features, including the tight line of his jaw, which was clenched to prevent his teeth from chattering. Goku felt grudging admiration for the guy’s stoic attitude. Zakuro didn’t exactly strike him as the type used to roughing it. But it wasn’t like he had much choice, if he hoped to get back into Kougaiji’s good graces by freeing the prince from the same supernatural prison that held Goku’s comrades.
“You want me to take first watch?” Goku asked. He didn’t really think they needed to worry about being attacked in such a remote place, but he supposed they couldn’t be too careful.
“I do not think we need to fear an attack tonight,” Zakuro replied. “I doubt anything but carrion birds could eke out an existence at such a staggeringly lofty height.”
“Then why are ya looking out that opening?”
Zakuro shrugged. “It gives my mind something to do other than dwell on our precarious predicament, which I dare say is rather dire,” he said, hunching his shoulders and hugging his knees more tightly.
Goku shivered as another icy blast found its way through the spaces between the boulders. “Yeah, we’re kinda screwed,” he said with a shaky laugh. “No fire, no food, no bedrolls and not much shelter. Let’s just hope it doesn’t start snowin’.”
“Nature is savage and unpredictable,” Zakuro muttered into his knees. “Which is why I loathe it so.”
Goku couldn’t help snickering at that. Figures that an illusionist would hate something he can’t control, he thought with a smirk. The notion sparked an idea that made him sit up straight and ask --
“Hey, Zakuro, you can make people see what you wanna and think what’s happenin’ to them is real, right?”
Zakuro raised his head enough for Goku to catch his proud smile. “Indeed I can. I am the world’s foremost master of illusion, after all.”
“Only bad stuff, or good stuff too?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, like right now, I’m hungry and cold and dirty and starvin’ and tired and so, so hungry --”
Zakuro smirked. “Could you repeat that last part once more? I don’t think I quite heard you.”
Goku scowled. “Oh, you’re funny, asswipe. Ha ha.” He pulled his cape more tightly around his shoulders, trying to control his shivering. “Anyway, f’r example, could’ya use yer powers to make me think I was in a nice warm kitchen with piles and piles of meats and dumplings and sweets and stuff? And when I ate them, could I really feel like I was full?”
Zakuro frowned. “I have always used my powers in battle, so my objective has been to inflict pain rather than comfort, he said after a moment’s consideration. “But I am sure a talent as superlative as mine could conjure such a blissful state.”
“You wanna try it now?” Goku scooted closer to Zakuro and arranged himself in lotus position. “I bet you could do it no problem. You’re super-powerful, right?”
“Well, that is true,” Zakuro chuckled. “But I think, my young comrade, that we will need to have our wits about us if we are to survive this night and reach the valley tomorrow, and find the impenetrable and well-hidden kekkai where our teams are being held.”
“Yeah.” Goku slumped a bit in disappointment. “An’ I guess it wouldn’t be fair if I was all happy and comfortable an’ you were stuck being cold and miserable all by yourself.”
Zakuro stared at Goku for a moment, then started laughing. “You are a surprising lad,” he chortled. “We are enemies, yet you concern yourself with my well-being.”
Goku grinned. “Well, ya said y’rself we gotta work together if we’re gonna find the others,” he said. “Besides, I can’t help thinkin’ you’re not such a bad guy. You helped me out of that crevice earlier when you coulda left me behind.”
Zakuro fidgeted and coughed a bit into one fist. “I was simply discharging my debt to you, being that you shared your remaining morsel of nourishment with me earlier.”
Goku fell onto his back. “Man, that meat bun was so good,” he sighed. “I could eat a dozen of ‘em right now. A hundred even!” He closed his eyes and tried to conjure his own illusion, where he was seated by the fire in a cozy inn with Sanzo, Hakkai, Gojyo and a huge platter of barbecued pork meat buns. Well, maybe not Gojyo, since he’d have to fight the kappa for every bite….
He felt something sharp and cold spitting against his cheeks and eyelids, and opened his eyes to the sound of sleet pinging against the rocks. “Shit,” he groaned. “I’m with you, Zakuro – nature sucks.”
He sat up, peering through the darkness that had descended with the ice storm. He could just about make out Zakuro, who looked like he was holding his leather coat above his head as a sort of shield.
“This is madness,” Zakuro said. “We will freeze to death by morning if this continues, yet we cannot move forward in this black night.”
Goku crawled under the scant shelter provided by Zakuro’s coat. “Sometimes we double up on really cold nights when we camp out,” he said. “It’s crowded and annoying, but at least it’s warmer.”
“A good suggestion, lad,” Zakuro agreed.
It took a few minutes for them to work out how best to make use of what scant covering they had, but soon they were lying face-to-face with Zakuro’s long coat as a blanket and Goku’s cloak draped over their heads to keep the sleet off. Goku was a good deal shorter than Zakuro, so his face ended up squashed against Zakuro’s bare chest. The skin there was warm and smooth, and underneath the travel-funk Zakuro smelled like tangy fruit and clear water. Goku was glad that, between his position and the darkness, Zakuro couldn’t see how much he was blushing. He only hoped that he could keep his body from showing more tangible evidence of how pleasant he was finding this sleeping arrangement. Thankfully, before he could follow that thought-trail any further, the increased warmth and the soothing sound of Zakuro’s breathing quickly lulled Goku into sleep.
Goku woke to the sound of raptors screeching in the distance and something hot and thick poking his gurgling stomach. “Sanzo, ‘m hungry,” he murmured, snuggling the warm body pressed against him.
“There is no food.” The low, sleep-blurred voice that replied definitely didn’t belong to Sanzo.
Oh yeah, Goku thought hazily. I’m still with Zakuro and we’re on our way to find Sanzo and Kougaiji and everyone. He supposed they should get up and resume their journey over the mountain, but Goku was reluctant to give up their current bit of warmth only to face hours of hiking against the vicious mountain winds.
He shifted against Zakuro and again noticed the sensation of something prodding him in the gut. He inhaled deeply, and his eyes widened as he identified the musky tang of arousal in the air around them. He slipped one hand carefully between his stomach and Zakuro’s leather-sheathed pelvis, and gave a gentle squeeze for confirmation.
Yep, that’s an erection, Goku thought with a grin. He could feel one of his own starting to develop in reaction to the sleek texture of the leather beneath his hand, and the heat of Zakuro’s hardened flesh within. It was a strange time and place to be getting turned on, but Goku was getting used to that sort of thing. He’d never considered himself a horndog like Gojyo, but as they drew closer to the source of the Minus Wave, Goku’s libido had skyrocketed. It was a weird sort of side effect, but Goku would pick that over losing control over the Seiten Taisei any day.
Zakuro, meanwhile, had gone rigid as stone. “Excuse me, boy, but what exactly do you think you are doing?” he asked.
Goku considered flirting around a bit, but he didn’t really have a talent for it, so he went with blunt honesty. “Feelin’ your hard-on,” he said. “I figured you wanted me to, since you were pokin’ me with it.”
“I most certainly was not!” Zakuro squawked.
“Sure felt like it to me.” Goku squeezed again, a bit harder this time, and Zakuro squirmed.
“It was purely inadvertent, I assure you,” Zakuro said. “Now that the dawn has broken and we have roused ourselves from slumber, we should follow the example of those majestic birds of prey and continue our own hunt --”
“Not yet,” Goku said, releasing the top button of Zakuro’s pants. “Let me take care of that for you first.”
“It… that’s really not necessary.” Goku noticed that despite Zakuro’s protestations, he wasn’t pulling away.
“Maybe not necessary.” Goku worked his hand inside Zakuro’s pants and tilted his face up so that Zakuro could see his wicked smile. “But definitely more fun.”
A few deft strokes was all it took to bring Zakuro over to Goku’s point of view. “You… ahh… make a convincing argument, my eager young comrade,” he gasped. “You may… ohh.. continue.”
“With pleasure.” Goku pumped Zakuro’s cock with increasing speed, interspersing each stroke with a thumb-flick over the tip.
“Oh, magnificent Goku,” Zakuro moaned as he climaxed, making Goku’s own dick practically jump out of his pants with need.
Happily, after Zakuro’s shudders of release subsided, he rolled Goku onto his back and unzipped Goku’s pants.
“As you know, I believe in repaying my debts,,” Zakuro said with a toothy grin.
“I was countin’ on it,” Goku grinned.
It took a couple of hours for them to finally reach the mountain’s summit, but the descent went much more quickly than either Zakuro or Goku had expected. By midafternoon they had entered the valley and were searching for the magical barrier that had ensnared their respective parties. Goku still wasn’t quite sure how Sanzo and the others had gotten trapped in the kekkai, or how he and Zakuro had been transported to the other side of the mountain, or who was behind it all. But Goku figured his energy was best spent on rescuing his friends, rather than dwelling on those details.
Unfortunately, whatever power was behind their troubles was sending out reinforcements to thwart their efforts. The deeper they went into the valley, the more battles Zakuro and Goku found themselves fighting. By nightfall, they were too exhausted to continue their search, and agreed to head back to the stream they’d forded earlier in the evening. They even found some nuts for dinner, which Goku happily gorged himself on.
“Man, those were the best walnuts ever,” Goku declared, rubbing his bulging belly. “You want any more, Zakuro? The moon’s out again, so I can probably see enough to climb up and pick some.”
Zakuro shook his head. “I am quite sated, thank you,” he said, adding another log to the fire. Goku had been impressed to discover that Zakuro actually knew how to set up a basic kekkai, which is why they could have a fire and not worry about giving away their position to their enemies. Unfortunately, Zakuro had to remain awake for the barrier to hold, so Goku decided to keep him company. It didn’t seem right for him to sleep under those circumstances, and besides, Goku was hoping for a repeat of their morning activities. He smiled at the memory. Zakuro had taken his time working Goku over, touching and teasing and tantalizing to the point where Goku was practically begging for Zakuro to finish him off. He’d been surprised he’d been able to hold out so long, given that it had been awhile since Goku had gotten off. And gods knew when he’d get another chance, given how rough their journey was getting, so Goku was not about to let this one go by
Zakuro finished ministering to the fire and came to sit next to Goku. “That should take us into morning,” he said, brushing bits of bark off his hands. “I will be sure the barrier holds, so you may sleep if you like.”
“Nah, too wound up from all the fighting today,” Goku said. “That was awesome, the way you took that last group down with your powers.”
“It was no great effort,” Zakuro said with a dismissive wave. He added with a smile –
“Those fearsome soldiers were already weary from having to face your battle prowess.”
Goku ducked his head modestly. “I guess,” he said. “Hey, Zakuro, can you use your powers to disguise yourself? That would be the coolest thing ever, to be able to look like someone else.”
Zakuro thought for a minute. “Not exactly,” he said. “My power is to convince others that what I want them to see is real, so in that sense I can make myself appear to be someone else. But anyone outside my spell would see me as I am, so it would not be a true disguise. Of course, that by no means diminishes my prodigious hallucinatory prowess, but even the mightiest of us have our limitations.”
“I think I get it,” Goku said.
“Plus, I would have to be intimately familiar with the person whose appearance I wanted to assume,” Zakuro said. “That takes a great deal of energy and concentration, both of which are better served in maintaining my world of illusion.”
“ ’Intimately familiar,’ hm?” Goku smirked. “So you could probably make yourself look like me, then?”
Zakuro cocked his head. “Oh, I believe I would need more study before I could fully manifest your likeness,” he said in a low, throaty voice.
Goku stood up and unfastened his cape and shoulder-plates. “Care to start now?” he asked, dropping the discarded garments and reaching for the hem of his shirt. Before he could take it off, Zakuro rose and slid his hands underneath the fabric.
“I believe class is now in session,” he said, tugging Goku’s shirt over his head.