jedishampoo: (Saiyuki: Sanzo)
[personal profile] jedishampoo
Title: End of the Universe Stuff
Author: [personal profile] jedishampoo
Rating: R-18
Pairing : Sanzo/Sharak, Ni/Gyokumen
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters and make no profit from this fan fiction.
Summary: It's strictly Sanzo business. Really.
Warnings: Language, character death (implied and impermanent)
Author's notes: Written for [personal profile] despina_moon in the [community profile] yuletide_smut exchange! Originally it was to have Hassan join in with Sharak but I am fail and did not get it in there. Thanks to my awesome beta whymzycal, and to Des for the super prompt - I hope you enjoyed, despite the cheesiness!

End of the Universe Stuff



"Really, Ni. I'm not at all sure how I feel about the eye."

"Muh?" Ni pulled his head out of Gyokumen's armpit, then pulled a few strands of her sweaty hair out of his mouth. He leaned in to nuzzle the soft flesh over her ribs and got a taste of his own semen for his troubles. Stress release through sex was fun, but damn, it could get messy.

"Ni!"

Ni gave her ribs a final, slurpy smack, then pushed himself up so he could grin down at her. "Well, since the eye is not in your regal head, Mistress, then you probably don't need to worry all that much about it," he told her.

Gyokumen pouted. "It's rather ugly, though. Wear a patch or something. You might manage to at least look rakish."

"Ahh," Ni said. He would have said something indignant about being treated like decoration, but there were pots and there were kettles. And his good mood borne of relaxation told him that he liked her state of preservation: all pointy in the face, and all rounded everywhere below it. "But if I wore a patch, I wouldn't be able to do this--"

He then proceeded to rub the offending half of his face over her breast, letting her nipple tickle his empty eye socket, which had mostly healed up, after all.

"Ah!" Gyokumen cried, and--

"Ah," Ni moaned at the same time, as something more than a tickle grew in his flesh, a sudden energy that thrummed through him from his scalp to his toenails. It wasn't a physical energy, he deduced by halting all movement and still feeling it regardless; it was something metaphysical. A resonance on the astral plane. Or the sutral plane.

"Ah?" Gyokumen said.

"Did you feel that?" Ni asked, though of course she couldn't have possibly.

"What?"

Sigh. A scientist's work was never done. "I have to go do something," he said, pushing away from her and rolling out of the bed. He found his crumpled lab coat and pants on the floor and yanked them on while she spluttered.

"It seems you think you can get up and leave whenever you wish, but--"

"If I tell you a secret, I know you'll forgive me," Ni interrupted. "We can take the Kouten sutra."

Now he had her attention. "What?"

Ni waggled a finger at her. "A simple plan. If I tell you what it is, will you send your darling step-son out to fetch it?"

Once in the lab, Ni shoved everyone else out and locked the doors. Hwang was a dear when she was PO'd. At least she was back to yelling at him and not giving him the silent treatment, as she had done ever since he'd returned from his vacation with Genjyo Sanzo and friends.

Ni arranged his collection of sexy-hot sutras on the cold metal of the lab bench, naming them as he did so: Muten, Seiten, Uten. Scriptures from the Dawn of Time That Never Shall They Meet, yadda yadda. If the shit was hitting the fan anyway, he might as well have some fun.

"Muten, Uten. You're first," he told them, and began speaking the words.


***


"You gotta minute, Sharak?" Sanzo said.

"Yeah," she said, staring at him. The gathered idiots -- hers and his -- filed out, preparing to get drunk, and still she watched him with her eyelids half closed and a half-smile on her lips. On her the expression wasn't sly.

Her stare told Sanzo that she already knew what it was he wanted to discuss. Though Sanzo had only known her for a short time, a day at most, he already felt that her eyes expressed her utterly. Others might be distracted by the rest of her and her rather showy appearance: her long, wild hair -- Hakkai would probably give his other eye for five minutes with her, a chair, and a pair of scissors; the fierce scar on her face; and the beads, holy artifacts and totems scattered about her person, like the wolf-tail that flew from her belt when she moved. Others might also sew themselves up in those sorts of gaudy things, wearing them like assumed personalities.

But Sharak's eyes were dark and steady, and through them he knew she would deal him directness and sense.

Her retainer, on the other hand, that Hassan guy -- his emotions were plainly expressed in his posture. As he shuffled out of the room, his head drooped, and he shot Sanzo and Sharak once last glance from under lowered brows and over stiffened shoulders. The guy had some sort of issue with Sanzo, at least as far as being alone with Sharak went.

Sanzo sure didn't give a shit. Not his problem.

He and Sharak sagged against the wall, side by side, both of them weary. When the door swung shut behind Hassan, Sanzo spoke. "Today in the town, I activated the Maten sutra with the Makai Tenjyo--"

"At the same time I spoke the protection sutra," Sharak said before he could finish.

"Hn. You felt it, too," Sanzo said.

Sharak lit a cigarette from a holy candle set in a holder stuffed with spent butts, a casual blasphemy that Sanzo appreciated, being a blasphemer from way back. She passed the candle over to him, then spoke from around her cigarette. "Yeah. Just a little, but it felt as though ... the sutras resonated."

Sanzo took the time to light his own smoke before answering. "These sutras. There's no telling what powers would be unleashed if they were combined. They don't only work for positive energy."

Sharak shrugged, sending her robes sagging down her shoulders and exposing yet more scars. It was obvious she was not one to be afraid of the negative.

"There was some distance between us, so ..."

"We were lucky?" Sanzo said. He stifled an amused snort.

Sharak put no such limits on herself. She barked a laugh. "If they were powerful enough to form the world, then I guess there's a good reason Sanzo priests aren't supposed to be buddies."

"It's never stopped them before," Sanzo said, and then cursed himself silently. He'd been thinking of his old master and Ukoku, but realized that it could have sounded like an invitation. Sanzo didn't want more buddies.

Sharak didn't embarrass him by mentioning it. She glanced at him sideways. "But at least we should learn from our predecessors and avoid using the sutras at the same time?"

"So it seems," Sanzo said.

"Huh." She puffed out a harsh breath full of smoke. "Well, I gotta admit, I still kinda want to see what would happen if we did."

"Hah." Sanzo couldn't help but release a laugh at that one.

Sharak turned to face him fully. Her eyes were wide; she could do a pretty mean impression of someone who was without guile. "What?"

"Nothing," Sanzo said. He started to drop his smoke to the ground, then remembered the divine ashtray and shoved his butt into that instead. "You just said it before I did."

"Good to know," she said. She took the candle and pressed her own spent smoke into it. "I just."

Sanzo turned to look at her. "What?"

She tilted her head. "Wanna do it?"

Sanzo let himself look into her eyes, let himself see the impatience in them, the frustration at being unable to fight as she wished. He let himself wonder how she'd become a Sanzo, what she'd endured to earn her sutra. They could compare scars. He almost let himself say yes.

"... No," Sanzo said.

With a blink, all her emotion was suppressed. "A bad idea best forgotten," she said, and then she shrugged her robe back onto her shoulder. Her tone was light as they walked out to join the others. "You're too stolid for your years. You should loosen up--"


***


The world uncreated itself, just a little. Time lost its path, for a very short while.

But time and the world often hit roadbumps and are used to healing themselves. So like an ant sniffing out a broken trail, time eventually found its way and got back to business. There would have to be a do-over.



***


"Ni, you idiot! I'm in the middle of a very delicate experiment!" Hwang protested as he shoved her toward the door. Her heels squeaked on the tiled floor as she tried to halt their progress. "How dare--"

"And I'm about to start one that could be very dangerous. Have you signed this month's liability waiver, hmm? Had all your shots?"

"That is ridiculous. I'm going to have a word with Lady Koushu--"

"You do that," Ni told her as he shut the door behind her and locked it. He could hear her continuing to shout at him through the thick metal, along with a few half-hearted thumps.

She really was a dear thing. He'd missed being insulted by her, truly. He pulled his various sutras out of the waistband of his pants and laid them on the lab bench.

"Hello, my lovelies. Er, again? Anyway. Eeny, meeny, Muten, Uten. You two first."


***


"You gotta minute, Sharak?" Sanzo said.

"Yeah," she said, staring at him. "But ...”

Sharak's dark eyes reflected some moments of indecision. Sanzo said nothing, just watched her and waited, because he knew that she knew what he wanted to discuss -- how they'd activated the sutras simultaneously earlier -- but he wasn't sure how she felt about it. Wasn't sure if she'd felt the same uncomfortable things he had.

The effects of the experience still lingered in his flesh. The sutra had resonated with energy that stirred his bones and fired up his skin like few things ever did. It had felt like a sexual energy, not something he experienced often, but something that was unavoidable when one possessed merely human flesh. And usually, in his case, quickly suppressed or taken care of.

Part of him wanted to try it again, in a controlled situation. And part of him thought that was a very bad idea. The sutras had ... liked it, if that wasn't a stupid thing to think.

They both remained silent while Hakkai, Gojyo, Goku, and her guy filed out, the lot of them preparing to find a promised stockpile of good wine. Hassan, was it? -- he shot the pair of them a look over stiffened shoulders, a look that wondered what Sanzo had to say that didn't involve him. He had some sort of Thing for Sharak. Whether it was plain loyalty or something more, Sanzo didn't know and didn't care. It wasn't his problem.

When the last idiot had filed out, Sharak tilted her head and lowered her eyelids, giving Sanzo a half-smile.

"We do need to talk. But you've had a long day and we've made it longer. Why don't we go have a drink or two, first. Or three?"

"Sensible," Sanzo said.

Sharak laughed and touched his shoulder. Sanzo fought the instinct to shake it off. The touch was brief and warm and, surprisingly, not as uncomfortable as he might have imagined. He'd endured very little touch from others in his life, least of all from women.

"Genjyo, you need to loosen up --"


***


The world hiccuped and time did a double-take. This again? Back on the horse, time told itself. Now, where were we?


***


"Wow, deja vu," Ni told the three sutras on the lab table before him. Others might think that talking aloud to scrolls was a little nutty, but Ni had never thought so. It was almost like they were alive, lying there and just barely managing not to tremble with anticipation, the sexy little things.

What was more weird was the way he'd felt the need to make such an exclamation, the sense that he'd done this exact thing before. It seemed they'd all been here together in the lab, just like this, only recently -- a day or so ago, maybe?

Whatever the case, he had something he wanted to try. "Hello, Lord Muten and Mister Uten," he told them. "Let me see if I can activate the two of you simultaneously, all by myself."


***


Sharak leapt into Jeep's shotgun seat. Sanzo's seat.

"Let's go," she said.

Gojyo laughed and everyone else gaped, but Sanzo just climbed into the back seat. She was carrying a machine gun, after all.

He did, however, shove Gojyo away when he got a little too close, squeezing in between Sanzo and Goku.


***


The universe and time were starting to get a little worried. The first twenty or so times this had happened, it had been an interesting glitch, but odd forces were at work. Still, time would do its job, get back to work as best it could.


***

"Ni, I'm bored. Come to my chamber and entertain me," Gyokumen said.

Ni sighed. Hadn't they done that today already? Er, they had, right? At least, his body was as sore as if he'd porked her a good dozen times in the last twenty-four hours, give or take an hour. He'd probably not be able to get it up.

Probably, he thought, taking a long gander at the abundant curve of her breasts, jiggling indecently under the gaping neckline of her robe.

Today had been very strange and stressful, after all, and some indecency might relax him. But then, there'd been something else he'd been wanting to do very much. Something he felt like he had to do?

"Not at the moment, my regal mistress," Ni said with a last, long look at her jiggling parts and her long, deliciously vicious fingernails. "I have a very important experiment that I need to perform. I'm sure it'll be for your benefit eventually."

Her mouth gaped, showing her lovely, pointy teeth. "Ni, it seems you think you can tell me what you will and will not do--"

"Listen, I've told you how to get the Kouten sutra already, right?" he said to distract her.

"What?"

Perhaps not? Whatever was going on had made things in his head as sore as his body. "It's a simple plan. Call your darling step-son, would you? You'll have a job for him."

Once Ni had set that plan in motion and evicted the lab's other occupants -- ah, sweet, cranky Hwang, who jiggled wonderfully as well but not for him -- he plonked his collection of sutras on the lab bench.

"Your siren song distracted me from a very enjoyable few hours, you," he told them. "So let's get to work. Muten, and Ut-- wait. I feel like I've been in a rut and I wanna go wild. Let's try you out, Seiten. We haven't talked in a while," he said, and began to speak the sutras' special language.


***


"Priest Sharak Sanzo, I have brought the travelers!" Hassan said. Sanzo reached inside his robe, curling his palm around the trusty weight of his Smith & Wesson.

Something about this place tickled at Sanzo's memory, like he'd been in this temple -- perhaps even this very room -- before. Even if everything else he'd endured the last day or so hadn't been enough to unnerve him, that strange sense of deja vu would have done it.

Still hidden by his robes, he thumbed the pistol's hammer and hooked his finger into the trigger. Then he loosened his finger because he wouldn't really need it, after all--

And why had he thought that? The last Sanzo priest they'd met had given him his latest near-death experience. Sanzo could still feel the leftover aches from that battle and the traces of Hakkai's healing chi, doing their lingering best to continue knitting his bones together.

The altitude sickness must be making his thoughts as fuzzy as his stomach. He tightened his finger around the trigger again.

Then Priest Sharak Sanzo strode into the room, and Sanzo's first thought was "oh, that's why."

"A woman?" Gojyo cried, the predictable horny bastard. Yes, she has breasts and everything, idiot, Sanzo thought about saying, but his focus was on her expression, her eyes, how she ignored Gojyo to look at Sanzo straightaway, taking only a split second to examine his robes and his sutra. In the next split second she reached for a weapon, and Sanzo had to pull his piece then, if only to show that he could.

Surely a pair of pistol-muzzles in the face wasn't the politest greeting Sanzo priests had ever given one another, but Sharak smiled the tiniest bit and Sanzo fought the urge to do the same. Her gun was bigger.

"Twenty-eighth of Arhat, Sharak Sanzo," she said.

"Thirty-first of T'ang, Genjyo Sanzo," Sanzo offered.

Sharak hauled her pistol upright. "I welcome you ba-- to the temple of the west, Genjyo Sanzo and party," she said to them all. Then she looked at Sanzo again and her eyebrow quirked upwards. "We should talk."

"Agreed," Sanzo said.

She narrowed her eyes, taking in his obviously weakened state. Dammit. "Medicine first."

It took a few minutes for Sharak's retainers to bring some vile-smelling stuff and a few more minutes to convince them all to drink it. Whatever was in it tasted like some sort of yak effluvia, which it might have very well been. Yaks seemed to enjoy living in the hellish heights.

Sanzo felt better almost immediately, the taste notwithstanding. Sharak was watching him, the muscles in her face relaxing almost as if she could see his color return. She held open the curtain to the room from which she'd emerged. "Consultation, Genjyo Sanzo, Thirty-First of T'ang?"

Sanzo nodded and bent to follow her.

"Should we--" Hakkai began, but Sanzo waved him off.

"I'll be fine," he said. It wasn't only his crew that looked surprised; her guy frowned and Sharak made a tiny "fuck off" gesture. The guy shrugged and looked at Hakkai, who offered one of his creepy smiles. Sanzo shivered and followed Sharak. Whatever happened with those other guys wasn't his problem.

What was his problem was the remaining sense of familiarity warring with newness that this place gave him. Most Buddhist temples of any size had the same sorts of gilt-edged trappings, the same sort of sandalwood and sweat smell, but this place had a buzzing energy that seemed borne of both protection and warning. The hairs on the back of his neck tingled, they way they did when a nasty summer storm was coming on hard.

Sharak led the way to a prayer alcove and a scooted a couple of sitting mats into place with her sandaled foot. Sanzo took a few moments to study her as she had him, to try to decide what he thought of her. He'd never pictured Sanzo priests in general as being the sorts to carry guns and know how to use them. He'd assumed his own violent adolescence had formed that particular habit for himself. He wondered if they also tended, like her, to pile every crap holy item-slash-tool of their trade and wolf-tail about their person. Personally, he preferred to keep his crap hidden.

Still, her dark, steady gaze managed to transcend those things. She was the real deal, no doubt about it.

They sat on the mats, facing each other. Sharak pulled a pack of smokes from her robe, shook one out, and lit it from a holy candle stuffed with cigarette butts. It seemed smoking was a vice that all Sanzo priests managed to share.

He lit a cigarette of his own. He used his lighter.

"The Sanbutsushin told me you'd be coming west," Sharak said by way of an opening.

"Did they," Sanzo said.

Sharak continued. "We know what is responsible for the Minus Wave."

"The experiments to revive Gyumaoh," Sanzo said.

"Yes." She exhaled a long stream of smoke into the air. Her robe slid off her shoulders, showing several nasty scars to match the one on her cheek. Others might think such scars would detract from her appearance, but Sanzo didn't. Coupled with her straightforward, dark gaze, she looked like a wise old warrior in a ... not-old body. Like himself. It was a rotten sort of kinship that they shared. "I would have led an army to Houtou Castle to stop them, but the Sanbutsushin were very clear that I should stay here to preserve the peace in the west. The Kouten sutra I keep rules over--"

"Protection," Sanzo said, feeling the word rise to his tongue without his conscious effort. She raised her eyebrows.

"You are familiar with it?"

Sanzo took a deep drag of his smoke, then exhaled. They'd already had this conversation, or one very like it. He didn't know how that was possible, since he'd only met her minutes ago. But that didn't mean it wasn't real. "No. But I knew it now."

"Something's wrong here," Sharak said. She sighed and slumped back from her formerly straight posture. "Besides the Minus Wave. It's not ... it's like we're rehashing old information. There could be some force confusing our meeting. Someone who doesn't want us to work together?"

"Seems likely," Sanzo said. "But how do I know you're not part of it?"

Sharak's eyes crinkled at the outer corners. "I could say the same, couldn't I?"

"Yeah," Sanzo said and straightened his back. Now that the acknowledgement of the stalemate was out of the way, he could feel free to follow his gut. His gut felt vague about many things in this situation, but it did trust her. "We should proceed as we would if the force was not there. I think ... we're meant to."

"Perhaps enlightenment will come. You're very sensible for your age," Sharak said. Such mild needling he could handle; it was as if she'd jumped into the flow of his thoughts, into the strangeness, steady as a river boulder. He could appreciate that in a woman. A person. Uh, a fellow monk. "What do you know of the other Sanzo priests?"

"There are only three: me, you, and a rogue priest, inheritor of the Muten sutra, who is working with the Gyumaoh faction, conducting experiments at Houtou Castle. He possesses the other two sutras as well, the Uten and Seiten."

Sharak gasped smoke out of her nose and leaned forward. "They don't belong to him. He's dangerous?"

"Very," Sanzo said.

Sharak's gaze was unfocused as she thought. She tapped ash into the holy candle and then absently handed it to him like a silent acceptance. "He could activate them at any time," she said.

And she'd just solidified into a pattern the vague thoughts that had been floating about in Sanzo's brain. He took the candle and utilized it for the same unholy purpose as she had. Ashes were the natural result of flame, after all. "You think they've been activated already?"

"I think it's entirely possible," Sharak said. She propped her elbow onto her knee and leaned her chin into the palm of her hand, her gaze still elsewhere. "Should we try it as well? Pool our own resources, try our sutras together, see if we can--"

"Detect and maybe interrupt the process," Sanzo said.

Except ... something else was going to happen, soon, he thought. He closed his eyes and let his thoughts drift, like in a mini-meditation, trying to grasp the sense of their situation as a whole rather than letting his strange connection with Sharak color his perceptions.

"Personally, I'd like to see what happens," she was saying.

Sanzo let his gut feeling talk for him. "We won't have time. One of your guys'll be in here any minute, telling us about some goddamned emergency or another. They're trying to break whatever protection you have over this place."

"Now I'm really starting to suspect you," Sharak said.

Sanzo opened his eyes to see her gaze focused back upon him. The smoke from her cigarette did not obscure the small grin that curled her lips.

Through the curtain that separated their private talk from the rest of their idiots, Sanzo could hear Gojyo say something about tough women and surprisingly cute expressions. He hated that he agreed. So did her guy, it seemed, and he said so loudly enough for the entire temple to hear. Idiots.

"Bastards," Sharak said, and they both stood, to kick some immediate ass and greet whatever other bullshit was heading their way.


***


Ni laid his four sexy sutras on the lab bench and named them all as he did so: Muten, Uten, Seiten, Maten. One left to go, and he knew just where it was.

But now that he'd killed Genjyo Sanzo, a large part of the game that was his life had been won. Point to the moon, Koumyou! It had been an exciting week. He wished he could relive it. Everything that came after could be nothing short of anticlimactic, surely.

Well, he supposed it was time to get the Kouten and get started on fucking up the world for good. First, however ... he wanted to be selfish, to replay that last move of the game, just to make his life briefly interesting.

"Welcome to the club, Genjyo's Maten sutra. Let's see what happens when you meet Muten and Uten." How would they work together, with the same strength and will behind them instead of his and that of a mere nobody who no longer existed? He scratched his right eye, which was itching something fierce.


***


"Something's wrong," Goku said aloud, though there was nobody there to hear him except the birds. "I mean, of course it's wrong, what with the guys an' ... an' Sanzo. But there's something else."

It must be the Minus Wave, with him so far west. He stood on the very edge of the road at the very pinnacle of the last mountain pass, looking down past ice and rock into a green and terraced valley. Nestled in the center of the valley was a huge Buddhist temple. The rising sun struck its gilt eaves and corners and made it seem to glow red and gold amidst the green.

Maybe he could find help there? Maybe someone could tell him how to find a -- another Sanzo priest?

No. He had to rely on himself, now.

"Guess I should keep going," he said aloud, eventually. His stomach grumbled, but he was still too depressed to eat. "Wish I still at least had Jeep to keep me--"


***

What in the -- this was slightly different.

The world halted for a moment, then took a giant step back to reassess things.



***


Somewhere, the Muten and Uten sutras met intimately in the hands of a naughty man and did naughty things to each other. Ni had too much fun with it, but there had been all sorts of serious sutra-mojo going on, and he wanted to join the fun.


***


"Priest Sharak Sanzo, I've brought the travelers!" Hassan said.

Out of a curtained-off room stepped Sharak Sanzo, jingling with trinkets, her long hair curling around her as she moved.

Gojyo gasped and started to say something, but Sharak interrupted whatever it was.

"This is getting ridiculous," she said directly to Sanzo.

"Hn," Sanzo said, releasing his grip on his pistol before he'd even drawn it.

"What's going on?" Goku said, looking around. "There's something weird, but I can't put my finger on it, ya know?"

"Let's do this, Genjyo," Sharak said, holding open the curtain and gesturing him inside. "Before ... before whatever it is happens again."

"You noticed. Do you know what it is?" Sanzo said, starting to follow her.

"My, are you acquainted with this Sanzo, er -- Sanzo?" Hakkai said.

"Not really," Sanzo said.

"We don't have time for this," Sharak said, making a shoo gesture at Hassan. "Take care of them, will you?"

"But where are you going?" Hassan narrowed his eyes at Sanzo as he ducked past the curtain.

"We have work to do," Sharak said, her shoo gesture turning into a definite fuck off gesture. Sanzo admired that sort of directness in a woman. Person. Monk.

Hassan wasn't his problem. Tamping down the sickness that muddled his head and his stomach was going to be his problem, after they figured out what was going on and how to make it right. Whatever right was supposed to be.

Sharak crossed to an alcove and toed a couple of prayer mats into position. "I don't really know why, but I feel like I should congratulate you on avoiding a dire fate," she said.

"Hn," Sanzo said. He'd felt rather the same, but then his entire life had been pretty shitty and dire. "What are you doing?"

Sharak had dropped her robe and was unclipping and removing the afore-noticed trinkets from her person. "Getting rid of distractions. I've set up a lot of protective spells and receivers around here, and I want to be able to focus on you and the sutras if we're going to--"

"Invoke them simultaneously," Sanzo finished for her. He removed his own robe, being careful not to spill any of his hidden crap out of its hiding places. "Have you ever done that before?"

She laughed as she plopped onto her ass and began to pull off even her sandals and socks. Sanzo wasn't sure he wanted to strip that far; he sat in his shirt and jeans and rehung the sutra about his neck.

"No," she said. "I don't think the Sutras from the Dawn of Time are supposed to meet. But I think times like this call for--"

"Desperate measures," Sanzo finished for her yet again. That in itself was rather uncanny and uncomfortably intimate, the feeling that he somehow knew her well enough to do so, despite never having met her in conscious memory. Hell, he didn't even do that with Goku, and he'd barely spent a monkey-free day in years.

Perhaps they were merely united in purpose. Perhaps other forces had made it so. He didn't enjoy the idea, but like the entire journey he'd been forced to undertake, there wasn't a fuck of a lot he could do about it.

As she disrobed even further, down to her shirt and a pair of tight, calf-length trousers, he noticed that the scars on her face and shoulders were not alone, having brothers and sisters on her legs. Perhaps it was their shit lives that made the two of them rather simpatico? He returned his gaze to her eyes, which were dark and serious-steady but still managed to contain glints of amusement. It seemed an apt expression for her.

"Just like spells in Sanzo training," Sharak said, raising her hands until her palms faced Sanzo. She nodded at them, indicating that he was to do the same. "I think if we keep tight focus on each other, we can control the power or break contact to lessen the effects. My Kouten will be the steadying influence, and you can use your Maten to probe the spiritual plane--"

"I never really did Sanzo training." Sanzo hated to admit that to a peer, but if they were going to fuck with the laws of the universe, it seemed important.

"Well, shit," Sharak said.

Sanzo raised his hands, then let his palms touch hers. They prickled: so rarely did he touch others like this. It felt like he could count the ridges in her fingerprints.

"I do know how to use the sutra, however," he said.

"Good to know. Now loosen up. You're too tense."

Like that was news to Sanzo. They began to chant, both of them in low voices at first, as if keeping the volume down would help control the sutras' power once they were unleashed. But right away he could feel the resonance between them, feel every answering flutter in the Kouten sutra even as he awoke the energy in the Maten. Through their touching skin he could also feel her body, like it was an extension of his own. It was terrifyingly intimate and, he feared, somewhat sexual. Every inch of his skin buzzed with energy, burned like the sheen of sweat on his skin was an oil slick set aflame.

He leaned forward as his voice grew louder, and she did as well, and he could smell the smoke on her breath--

"Priest Sharak! There's a fire in the village of Osk -- what in the name of Buddha are you doing?"

Sanzo tore his hands from Sharak's touch and his voice lost its rhythm. The burgeoning energy between them sparked and then snuffed itself out, a sudden and violent death that manifested in Sanzo's sudden throbbing head and churning stomach.

"Dammit, Hassan! Dammit, dammit dammit. We were almost--" Sharak said, looking at her hands, her sutra, at Sanzo, then glaring at Hassan.

"But there's an emergency and what were you doing?

"Go call the reinforcements. Please," Sharak said, starting to pull on her socks and sandals. Sanzo followed her lead.

***


Some time later, Ni left the voluptuous arms of his unbeloved and went to his laboratory to do an experiment.

A day or so after that, he left those arms again and went to do the same. But this time, before he even began, the sutras began skittering about on the table like excited kittens. Something was happening.


***


"Sharak. You gotta minute?"

Sharak grinned at him so widely her teeth showed. "If you want to do what I think you want to. It'll have to be quick, though."

"Isn't it forbidden?" Sanzo asked.

"A lot of things are forbidden to us," Sharak said. "We do them anyway."

"True."

"You really wanna do it?"

"... Yeah," Sanzo said.

"Keep your cigarettes close. Whether it goes well or not, we'll want them, afterwards."

Hassan gasped.

"Scoot," Sharak said, glaring at him and pointing to the door. Gojyo, Goku, and Hakkai were already gone, off to find the booze. Hassan scooted, though he gave her and Sanzo a drooping sort of parting glance. "Guard the entrance. Don't interrupt us, whatever you do."

Hassan didn't like that at all. But that wasn't Sanzo's problem.

"In the village earlier, when we used our sutras simultaneously, there was a resonance that was somehow familiar. It made me think we'd done this before. We must have failed," Sanzo warned as he followed Sharak into her private chamber. He shed his robe along the way, being careful to keep all his various bits of crap from falling out and exposing themselves.

"Sutras interruptus, you mean?" Sharak had already lost her robe and was yanking off her socks, hopping as she went.

"Hn," Sanzo afforded the lame joke. He did remove his sandals and socks and his armbands, which were only decoration, after all. His cigarettes he set on the floor next to his mat.

Sharak had stripped down to shirt and pants in record time. Somehow, she wore her knee-length trousers tighter than Sanzo wore his jeans. He couldn't help but notice her muscled limbs, fit and strong beneath her scattered scars. He shook out a cigarette and reached for the holy candle.

"We have to hurry," Sharak said, snuffing the candle before he could use it. She also blew out all the other flames within puffing distance. "I remember bits and pieces of our past, but anything that might have happened past five minutes from now is a blank."

"Same here," Sanzo admitted and shoved his cigarette back into its pack.

Sharak was already sitting in the lotus position, arms up, palms facing him. "This is Sanzo-training style, and I have a suspicion you're unfamiliar with it. But just follow my lead?"

"Fine," Sanzo said as he laid his palms against hers, in the near-dark, and felt an accompanying tingle of recognition. What had they done before, he wondered? They could have done this a hundred times, and yet this touching of palms would still feel strange to him, so different from grasping someone's hand to pull them out of some shit or another. This was deliberate and intimate. "You know what you're doing?"

"Hmm. Just remember I'm the elder here," she said. "I'll hold us with the Kouten. You see if you can't find the root cause of our whatever-it-is and stop it."

So she didn't really know, either. Sanzo took a deep breath to gather his focus and strength and began speaking the words of the sutra. Her low voice joined his.

"Ra sati un iss ..."

"On mani hatsu mei ... on mani hatsu me ..."

It took only moments for the sutras to wake and shiver on their shoulders to the tune of their words, which intertwined like poems meant to be read together. A few moments longer, and the sutras began to snap and whorl in patterns that were long-familiar but also new and frightening for being done in harmony, winding together yet never quite touching.


***


"Wow, that's kind of amazing," Ni said as his skin began to warm and tremble with metaphysical power, even though he hadn't spoken a single magical word. The energy was almost ... no, it was totally sexual. And awesome.

"Something's playing a game without us," he said. "Muten, Uten, want to jump in?"


***


A golden glow suffused the space around himself and Sharak. Sanzo couldn't tell if the light emanated from the wildly flapping sutras, from the candles unsnuffed, from within himself or her, or even the ambient energy they'd unleashed, fizzing through every vein and pore and hair in his body.

Probably it was that, everything, the world set afire. Sanzo closed his eyes against the light, but that only intensified the power of his other senses, made him more aware of the breathiness of their words and the scent of sandalwood and skin. He felt his toes flex, and even his cock grew hard. Damned inconvenient time, but then he'd never used this kind of power before. And he'd not even dared to speak the Makai Tenjyo, yet.

Soon, though. They had it, a tiny piece of existence, captured between them. He could feel it. Like his fingers pressed together when he activated his sutra alone, their joined palms channeled each other's chi, kept the flow of their words steady in the maelstrom, two halves working as a whole. He opened his eyes.

He could see Sharak with uncanny clarity, the ridges on her scars cast into shadow, every dark hair that whipped about them like the tendrils of the sutras. He could see every contraction of the dark irises in her eyes. He leaned closer and so did she, so close they could taste each other's breaths, and their lips touched--

"Priest Sharak, something's happening -- what in the name of Buddha are you doing?" Hassan was shouting.

Sanzo yanked his lips away and would have broken all contact in his startlement, but Sharak's fingers clenched his. "No! Don't lose it. We're almost there, I can feel it--"

She began chanting again, and bolstered by the power, Sanzo returned her grip until their fingers were intertwined.

"Fuck off," he managed in a breath between magic words.

"Sanzo business. End of the universe stuff and no lie. Sit down and stay back," Sharak huffed.

Hassan sat, looking glum and excited and terrified all at once.

Sanzo fell back into the pulsing rhythm of the power, reinforced by their clench-knuckled grip on each other, the steadiness and anticipation in her eyes. At one point Sharak spoke the words to activate the full power of the Kouten.

"Makai Tenjyo!" Sanzo said and felt the golden fire burst outwards. Augmented by the Kouten, it burned steady and hot, inside him and through him.


***


The universe held its breath, waiting for everything to go to shit again. When it didn't and continued to not do so, the universe paid closer attention.


***


Ukoku had been sure his experiment would do something, but his words, Muten's and Uten's, were mere drops in a bucket of sutral storm. His void was getting nowhere, merely ramming a wall with a shadow. The wolf was eating the sun, eating till it was fit to burst, and still couldn't extinguish its light.

Fuck, I love metaphor, Ukoku thought. He was totally turned on. Maybe he'd try a bit longer to make something happen, and then go have a good wank to console himself if it didn't.


***


This was unlike any Sanzo business Sanzo had ever heard of, as he and Sharak slid their tongues inside each other's mouths like they were trying to get a taste of each other's brands of cigarettes.

At some point they'd stopped speaking aloud, as if they'd both sensed that further words -- holy or vulgar -- would only have broken the bubble of delicately balanced power they'd created. It cocooned them in a swath of winding sutras.

Common purpose to camaraderie to physical contact seemed a perfectly acceptable progression, right then, and a necessary one to maintain and strengthen their hold on the universe.

The sutras made me do it, Sanzo could say later. If he had to.

Sharak pressed harder up against him, another unwilling victim of whatever they'd unleashed. Or perhaps not so unwilling, since she moaned in the back of her throat and yanked one pair of their joined hands up against her chest until Sanzo could feel her breast and hardened nipple against the heel of his palm. He wasn't very experienced in this stuff but didn't think it meant she was cold.

Unless he was just too hot, with the continued flow of energy burning through him. Somewhere it met a void that seemed familiar, and the energies, light and dark, nuzzled and poked against each other. When Sanzo stroked his hand against her breast, the heat flared in the shared half of the light that was Sharak's, so he did it again. This was powerful stuff.

Sharak's -- their -- other hand mashed down between them until she was grinding the heel of her hand against his cock, over and over, ratcheting the purely physical heat in his belly up to critical status. Somewhere the golden glow of the Maten swelled and pierced the void so vigorously that Sanzo forgot to be embarrassed.

"Grunt," said Sanzo, low against her mouth, trying to tell her either "this is dangerous" or "keep doing that."

She grunted back, saying "shut up, I got this," or maybe "do that again." Either way, it was encouraging.

They found that if they unclasped their hands but just kept groping each other, the sutral-energy-thing they'd created kept working just fine. Her grip was strong, too. Somehow she tugged Sanzo's jeans down his thighs and wrangled him onto his back.

Things were a bit clumsy as she got her stretchy ... things off and straddled him, but Sanzo was beyond caring about that. It was all he could do to focus on the single-mindedness of her gaze, on sustaining the flow of energy with the motion of his hands. The novelty of having his cock ridden by a warm and slick and powerful woman just gave it all a natural rhythm.


***


"Whoa. Serious mojo," Ni said aloud, breaking the spell and ending his experiment. That had all been pretty interesting, if a bit weird. It seemed that something else should have happened. Maybe the universe wasn't up to being fucked with today? He wondered if there were any scrolls sitting in a library somewhere that would discuss the formation of the universe and how to undo it.

Or maybe he'd just screwed it up somehow? Oopsie.

"Well, kids, looks like we can't do as much as I'd like," he told the sutras on the table as they twirled back into rolls and vibrated softly, settling down. "And tomorrow's another day. In fact, I'm going to be interested to see what tomorrow brings, because I have the weirdest feeling that I'm very sick of today."

He left the lab, whistling and wondering if Prince Kougaiji, he of the stick up his ass, had left to fetch his next sutra.


***


Even physical pleasure was not enough to keep Sanzo from noticing that the golden energy was no longer meeting resistance. The cosmic battle had ended, and he was left with a hell of a lot of power and a very happy cock.

Until Sharak's eyes widened and she slowed the sway of her hips. "I think we -- hah-- did it?" she whispered between breaths.

"... Yeah," Sanzo said, running his hand over her hip, which had grown slick with sweat.

The glowy power was waning with their distraction and was probably not needed anyway, but she didn't stop moving and neither did he. His recently healed spine started to protest a little at the way he was arching his ass off the floor and back, but it was worth it.

"Should we finish, at least?"

"... Yeah."

"Oh, good," she said, and he actually grinned at her. He actually ... liked her.

They were both pretty amped up, and it didn't take long. The power spiked once or twice, but when Sharak arched her back and clenched around his cock, the tight knot of purely physical ache in his belly uncoiled with release. They clenched hands again as if by instinct and slowed their breathing, releasing the sutras from the thrall of their combined spells. The glow faded and the sutras fwip-fwipped back into their scrolls.

"Phew," Sharak said.

"That sutra thing was pretty incredible. But you can't tell me sitting like that is Sanzo business, Sharak. You told me that--"

"Shit," Sanzo said, because he'd forgotten about Hassan. He stretched out his arm, trying grab his robe and cover them. He grasped the hem and yanked it, but only managed to spill his crown and his pistol and his fan. Among other things.

Sharak merely released one more "phew" of breath and hoicked a leg to climb off. Sanzo was starting to believe she could hardly be fazed. He could admire that.

"You should know better than anyone that Sanzo priests are called upon to do many strange things, Hassan," she said as yanked her pants up and crawled over for her smokes.

"What exactly were you doing?"

Sanzo realized that the sutras and the energy had probably concealed them. It was a small mercy. He pulled up his jeans as quickly as he could.

"Setting the universe right. That's all," Sharak said.

"Well, it sure feels like something's changed. Still--"

"Shitnnngh," Sanzo moaned, because mercies aside, he didn't want Hassan's Thing to become his problem. He had a feeling it might be sort of Sharak's Thing, too.

"The sutras made us do it. We'll talk later, Hassan," Sharak said. Her gaze met Sanzo's briefly.

"Hn," Sanzo snorted. He handed her his lighter in thanks. She lit the candle first, then her smoke, and then handed the candle and lighter back to him. He lit a Marlboro and inhaled hard, forcing the nicotine down into his aching and still-buzzing body. She'd been right. He'd desperately needed that smoke.

The nicotine fix gave him such charity that he found it in himself to feel pretty good for a few minutes, even if he now had no idea what was going to happen next.

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