:: Adversary ::

Gensomaden Saiyuki

Disclaimer: I don't own Gensomaden Saiyuki, which rightfully belongs to Minekura Kazuya.

Rating: PG

Pairings: Homura/Goku, hinted Sanzo/Goku

Warnings: slight AU, shounen ai, language, mild violence

Thanks to: Nikki for pretty much giving me the idea and helping me make this solid, and helping me immensely with the characterization of Homura-tachi.

Notes: This is a gift for Nikki. Because... well... I think there was a reason, but I forget now. O_O; Anyway, 'tis a gift for her. Because I recently got the newest Saiyuki DVD, and wow... was I not disappointed. I knew I'd love Homura. Love. I love this guy; he just radiates this sort of coolness I'm automatically drawn to. Even just watching the first episode, where he was only there for half of it, I was wondering how so many people here got the idea he's a Goku-rapist. Weird.

Anyway, this was supposed to be angsty, but... it's kinda got that and some humor and a lot of general stuff. o_o And I don't think it's as "blink-and-miss" as my recent 39 fics are, so I'm going to label this as a Homura/Goku fic.

In any case, please feel free to criticize, especially if it concerns anything I've done with Homura-tachi. I'd love to write more fics involving them, but I can do it better if I'm more aware of and comfortable with their characters. Any sort of feedback is appreciated, though. Thanks.

For some reason, Goku found that he had the worst difficulty adjusting to drastic climates. He hated extremely hot places, but ice cold places were no better. Perhaps it had been the five hundred years in Mount Gogyo, trapped for half a millennium in a place that was always just lukewarm. Sure, there had been sunshine, and yes, there had certainly been snow, but inside the cave was rarely more or less than barely warm. When he reached out into the whiteness, past the bars, then his hand would be washed in a frigid coldness, shocking him the first time he'd tried it.

Whatever the reason, he just couldn't adjust easily. And here they were, driving deep into the mountains where there was little more than snow and rock around them. And boy, was there a lot of it! Goku sulked and huddled further into his cloak, the only thing protecting him from the outside cold.

A very familiar boot came in contact with his shin. "Hey, monkey. Move your leg; you're taking up the whole back seat."

Not one to back down from a fight, Goku purposefully shoved his leg into Gojyo's, glaring at the red-haired demon. "You're the one lounging all over the place!"

"A pint-sized monkey isn't supposed to take up so much room," Gojyo retorted. "I need room to stretch out."

Bristling, Goku prepared for the fight to get physical. "Who're you calling pint-sized?! Just because you're--"

"If you two don't stop," Sanzo cut in just as the two were about ready to start throwing punches. "Then I'll make you shut up. Permanently." The loud click of the Smith & Wesson was all they needed as a warning, though all the occupants knew the quiet wouldn't last for too long.

Goku slumped back, clutching at his cloak again and shivering. He tilted his head back; the skies were gray but no snow was falling-- which was just as well. It was cold enough already without having to actually touch the stuff.

He must have been in a daze. In fact, it wouldn't surprise him if they all were; the day had progressed slowly. It was already evening, and after hours of driving for nearly three days on end -- with a few stops in between, when they could -- they were all either restless or bored out of their minds, or both.

Whatever the case, none of them were prepared for three certain gods to appear only feet in front of them so suddenly. All Goku got for a warning was the sudden slamming of brakes, a loud curse from Gojyo, and a split second later he found himself facedown in the snow. Hakuryuu must have turned back into his dragon form to avoid collision.

Sputtering and blinking snow from his eyes, the first thing Goku saw was a pair of shoes. Raising his eyes, he was met with the amused expression of the war god himself. Goku stared.

After a long moment Homura finally said, "I know I've requested for Konzen to throw himself at my feet, but throwing you instead was a bit unexpected." Goku quickly pushed himself back, scrambling to his feet as he glared at the god. Homura's smile hardly changed, though his gaze did briefly flicker to his two companions. Without a word, Zenon and Shien moved aside. However, Homura still had something to say.

"Let's hope you've improved some, Son Goku."

It was his invitation for a fight.

He couldn't turn down an opportunity to squabble with Gojyo, and a bigger, more important fight certainly couldn't be denied either. Even when he knew the odds were against him -- which had rarely been the case before Homura had appeared -- Goku couldn't help but grow excited at the prospect of a challenge. Once the words had been thrown, Goku had felt his blood start to heat, boiling with energy as he summoned his nyoi-bou to his hands with little more than a thought.

"Well, let's hope you're still strong as always," was his retort before he lunged, giving a loud cry as he swung his staff violently. He barely caught Homura's smirk before the man vanished, and a second later he felt something come in contact with his head. It sent him hurtling backward; he managed to land and slide on his feet, kicking snow up behind him. With a quick glance around he found Homura barely meters to his left, and with another shout he attacked.

The only one left out of the overall battle was Sanzo. It made certain sense; being human, he didn't have the demonic strength to even hope to match the gods. He was fast and strong, but in a one-on-one battle with one of these men it was very likely he would just be a burden. That didn't mean he was idle. Sanzo kept a close eye on the fights, mostly the ones between Hakkai, Shien, Gojyo, and Zenon, looking for an opening or opportunity to help out if he could.

He was acutely aware that Goku and Homura were falling farther and farther away from the rest of them, but otherwise paid it little mind.

Preoccupied in his own fight, Goku was also very much aware that Homura seemed to be pushing him back from the others. It made him a little edgy, but despite himself he trusted his adversary not to do anything completely out of line. There was little he could say about the man, but Goku clearly recognized his honor; it shone through, not really bright but very much clear.

In fact, in a way, it reminded him a little of Sanzo...

"Pay attention." The offhanded reprimand came just before the blow, one that sent the boy hurtling back into the nearest mountainside. The impact made Goku cough, gasping for breath as the air whooshed from his lungs. He slumped to the ground briefly; the instant he found strength in his limbs he clambered back to his feet, eyes narrowing at the ebon-haired man before him.

Homura simply smirked, arms spread in familiar invitation. "Go on," he said, infuriatingly calm and smug. "I'm wide open."

Goku growled, falling into a crouch. "Don't patronize me!" With that he launched forward, swinging his staff with deadly accuracy. Even that was all to easy for the god to avoid. Glancing behind him briefly, Goku saw that Homura was right behind him, his one gold eye gleaming in something akin to delight...

"Nyoi-bou!" he screamed, willing it to do as he wished. It shot out, growing rapidly longer. The plan was to catch Homura by surprise, but the war god seemed to have anticipated this; he avoided it easily.

The mountainside wasn't so lucky. The end of the staff hit it before Goku could call it back. The impact was something fierce, actually making the ground tremble. Goku hardly noticed; he hit the ground only seconds afterwards, sending snow flying and getting some of the icy stuff under his clothes. The shock of the resulting impact hurt his legs before they suddenly went numb. He winced.

Homura landed on his feet just in front of the boy, peering down at him through dark bangs. "What's wrong, Son Goku?" he asked, his confident smirk in place. "Why can't you hit me?"

Goku wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, checking for blood. When he found none, he opened his mouth to retort, trying to stall for time until he could get some feeling back into his legs.

A noise above distracted him; he looked up, noting from the corner of his eye that Homura did as well. He had to twist his neck to see, searching for that sound. He wasn't sure why; it had been soft, like when he kicked up snow with his boots... but for some reason it made him anxious, though he couldn't place why.

The snow was making his jeans wet and his legs cold. He started to stand, trying to use his staff for support, but the shifting sound distracted him again. This time when he looked he could see what was going on.

The accidental blow to the mountain must have been harder than he thought, or the shadows in the snow were shifting. Whatever it was, it looked like tons and tons of the white stuff was starting to fall...

Like an avalanche.

Even before his eyes and brain made the connection, Goku had the disturbing feeling that even if his legs didn't feel so numb he wouldn't have been able to avoid it by running. Even so, he was still getting to his feet, but he was still freezing cold and his legs hurt from his sudden, jerky movements, still refusing to cooperate with him until the previous shock wore completely off. They collapsed beneath him, which made him both embarrassed and frustrated.

Distant but distinct, he could hear Hakkai's voice as the rumbling of falling snow grew louder. "Goku!"

Looking up wildly, he saw that the snow had started spilling over the jagged rocks. A spray fell on him, grazing his shoulder. It was just snow, but he'd had enough snowballs thrown at him to know that solid lumps of the stuff could really hurt. He cursed loudly, his only reaction being to bring up his arms in a cross in front of him, bracing himself for a solid impact.

One that never came.

There was a loud crunch, a sound like ice being crushed against solid rock. Goku waited a moment, wondering if maybe the snow hadn't been as close as it seemed, but a small grunt finally made him look up.

Homura stood in front of him, a look of intense concentration on his face as something faintly blue seemed to glow at his fingertips. It reminded Goku of when Hakkai would use his Qi Gong techniques... in fact, it looked a lot like it.

"Homura--"

"It's still falling; don't move," the man ordered. He wasn't even sweating, but he did look uncomfortable for some reason. Goku kept quiet and simply watched.

There really wasn't anything else he could do anyway.

Goku watched as Homura's arms finally, slowly drifted down to his sides. Looking around, it seemed that whatever Homura had done -- put up a barrier, a wall, whatever -- had protected them from the avalanche. The white stuff seemed to have landed solid and compact in a sort of dome shape around them. The space was fairly small.

For some reason, it made it hard for Goku to breathe.

"Okay," he said slowly, looking around. Snow had seeped into his boots long ago, and now his toes were ice cold. "Can you go get help now?" Looking up, all he could see was the man's profile, the pale face turned upward as though searching for the sky. The sapphire eye Goku could see flickered his way.

"No," Homura said calmly. "Don't be ridiculous."

Was the space really growing smaller, or was he hallucinating? Goku sucked in a deep, icy breath, hissing, "Why not?!"

"Think about it," the god said with that infuriating calm. "The barrier is made using my energy and concentration. The minute I leave this spot, it will collapse on you."

It couldn't be getting smaller. It had to be his imagination. But if it was his imagination, it certainly felt pretty realistic...

"Uh... Homura?" The god glanced at him, turning only his head. Otherwise he didn't move at all. Goku tried to sound casual, "You're not making the... uh... thing... smaller, are you?"

Raising a dark eyebrow, Homura replied, "No, of course not. The air is compressed enough as it is."

"Oh." Then... I must be imagining it. Unless he's lying... Goku shivered, unable to shake the feeling that the little makeshift dome was shrinking, trying to trap him forever...

Just like in the cave.

Oh, gods. No. The last thing he wanted, at the moment, was for Homura to see him acting so pathetic. After all, it was supposed to be a bad thing to show your enemy your weaknesses. But Goku found himself sinking to his knees, shivering uncontrollably; whether it was from the cold or simply dread, he wasn't sure. The air felt thick and hot, but he could see his breath coming out in smoky puffs.

It was too much like those five hundred years...

He clenched his eyes shut, trying to banish the thought. No, it was different from back then. It wasn't rock, just snow around them--

Entrapping him in endless white.

Gods, no!

He could feel eyes on him; inquisitive, curious, burning eyes that surely expressed amusement at his inner turmoil. Goku's breath caught. The air was too heavy, too thick, making it far too difficult to suck in a proper breath...

He shot to his feet, darting to one end of their prison and kicking the barrier hard. His foot made contact like it would a stone wall. "Stupid thing!" he yelled, only dimly aware of his voice steadily growing unnaturally high in pitch. "Let me out of here!" He started beating the invisible wall with his fists, flashes of blue appearing where his hands touched. "Sanzo! Sanzo! Where are you?" he all but screamed, close to hysteria.

That lonely, closed-off prison, all alone, up in the mountains, where it could be deathly cold outside, so cold, nowhere near as cold as the bitter loneliness inside, so cold...

Goku struck at the barrier again, this time with an open palm. As quickly as it had come he felt his sudden burst of rage leaking out, leaving him feeling drained and emotionally exhausted. He fell back to his knees, his legs by now numb. His fingers raked along the invisible wall before curling into a fist.

The sharp, almost silent gasp of pain made him look up. He glanced behind him, noting for the first time that his enemy's head was bowed, falling into shadows that didn't quite hide the pain contorting Homura's face. One of the shackled hands was pressed into his stomach.

Despite himself, even knowing that no matter how much honor he had Homura was still his enemy, Goku found himself curiously asking, "What's wrong?" Part of him was eager for a distraction, anything that would take his mind of the damned confined space.

Homura slowly raised his head, a strange smile on his lips. It wasn't his usual confident smirk; it was pained and almost bitter. "Son Goku," he said, drawing out the syllables in a way that never failed to raise the boy's hackles. "I'm going to have to ask you not to do that again."

Goku frowned. "Do what?"

"Hit the barrier."

The brunette's frown deepened. "What? Why?" Even as the question fell from his lips he realized why.

Homura answered anyway, sounding slightly breathless. "Because it hurts and weakens me. I'd rather not have this collapse in on us and hurt you."

It wasn't 'hurt us,' but 'hurt you.' Goku knew Homura was simply saying that because it didn't seem at all likely that a simple avalanche could kill the god of war. Still, the noticeable difference made him shiver, this time not from fear or cold.

Like with Hakkai, the boy suddenly realized. During their last fight he had briefly caught a glimpse of Shien and Hakkai fighting; he could remember his companion putting up a sort of shield using his Qi Gong techniques, could remember Hakkai looking drained after Gojyo had distracted the quiet god for a few moments. Apparently Homura's barrier worked similarly.

I could beat him so easily. Goku turned to stare at the invisible barrier, marveling at the prospect. All I'd have to do is hit it a lot and it would hurt him. It'd be so easy...

And yet he had no desire to even try that. Sure, Homura had taunted him several times by avoiding direct hits, purposefully getting a rise from him with smart remarks, simple challenges, and even just by avoiding the attacks he put so much effort into. The god got under his skin in a way, and half the time Goku wasn't sure if it was in a bad or good way. All he knew was that not once had Homura played a dirty trick on him. Always the fight had been completely fair, played out with no strings attached all through the end. Put simply, attacking his weakness in this sort of situation would feel... wrong.

Goku finally relinquished his nyoi-bou. The staff disappeared with a faint shimmer of light, leaving him just as defenseless as the god was at the moment. The act didn't escape Homura's eye; the man actually smirked slightly. Uncomfortable, Goku just shrugged and looked around, trying to recollect himself. The area seemed to have expanded again, so it seemed he had just been paranoid a few minutes ago.

It was still cold. The air was slowly warming as they breathed in the confined space, but it wasn't enough to even melt the snow beneath their feet.

I'll turn into an icicle at this rate! he whined inwardly, rubbing his arms. He half regretted not keeping the cloak on; meager as it was, it had at least provided some warmth. Gods, it's cold... Words he wanted to say aloud but couldn't bring himself to; somehow it wasn't the same whining when the person you were stuck with actually might tolerate it.

"You're unusually quiet." Goku turned to look at the man, who continued to watch him calmly. "Don't you have anything to say?"

"Don't act like you know me so well," Goku retorted, hugging himself tighter as shivers began to course through his body. There wasn't much room to run around, so he couldn't warm himself through exercise. His hands weren't causing enough friction to warm even his arms, and already his nose was red from cold.

Homura shook his head. He didn't look as pained now as he had moments ago; was he already recovering from the damage the boy had inadvertently inflicted on him? "If I knew you 'so well,' I wouldn't waste my time fighting you and would have figured out a way to coax you to come with me by now," he replied calmly.

"You won't," Goku said stubbornly, trying not to let his teeth chatter. "E-even out here... if I have to f-freeze to death..."

Homura tilted his head to the side, just slightly, simply observing the boy. "You're cold."

Goku shot him a dirty look. "Aren't you?" The strange events were making him feel more resentful than usual. Sanzo... you guys didn't leave without me, did you? No, they couldn't do that... right?

He wasn't entirely certain, not after the incident with Gojyo...

"Hey." Goku blinked, rebuked himself when he realized he'd let his mind wander, and then blinked again when he realized that Homura, still not moving from his spot, was holding out his cloak. When the boy did nothing but stare quizzically, Homura spoke again. "Wear it before you kill yourself."

Goku shook his head. "Wait, th-then you'll--"

"Be unaffected," the god cut in. "I'm a god. Something like weather isn't going to hurt me."

Perhaps he was convinced, or maybe the cold was just unbearable, or it might have even been a combination of both, because Goku eagerly accepted the offer after that, pulling the thick cloth around his shoulders. It was still warm from the god's body heat, and Goku found he was only grateful. It was long, though, and on the small boy it trailed all the way to the snow.

Goku glanced down, pulling the cloak tighter around him. "It'll get wet."

"And it will dry later," was all Homura would say. Goku shut up.

He couldn't stay in one place, though. He was still uncomfortable in the small space and wanted to distract himself from it, but there was nothing he could distract himself with. Sitting down, he found that made the space seem a bit bigger. He continued to look around, his hands idly running over the cloak. It was a heavier material than his clothes, but somehow still soft, entrapping him in comfortable warmth.

"It reminds you of that cave, doesn't it?"

The question caught him off guard. Goku's head jerked up, but Homura's gaze was level. His usual smile, surprisingly, was absent. "I don't know what you're talking about," the boy lied.

The beginnings of a familiar smirk curled the god's lips. "I think you do," he said softly. "And I think being there five hundred years made you claustrophobic, didn't it? It's a wonder you can even ride in that jeep." Goku opened his mouth to retort, but Homura beat him to it with a thoughtful, "Though I'm sure the open top helps."

Goku closed his mouth.

Silence overtook the conversation, but didn't quite settle. A thought occurred to Goku, and he decided to voice it. "If you knew I was in there..." Homura glanced at him, indicating the boy had his attention. "And you knew I was trapped down there, then why didn't you come down and let me out?"

The deity looked amused. "Come now. Do you really think they would have let me do that?"

"You were planning to come down to Earth anyway," Goku reminded him.

"In due time," Homura said patiently. "But you were there for a reason, Son Goku, and another god's interference would have alerted them." He smirked, though it looked somewhat self-mocking. "I'm sure certain people wanted to make sure Konzen was destined to free you, anyway."

Goku frowned. Konzen... that Konzen again... that's what he calls Sanzo. But it can't be Sanzo, and yet... it sounds so familiar... He quickly learned that thinking about it only served to give him a sharp, painful headache. He winced, one hand flying up to grip his skull, then the other. The pressure was sudden; it made his head feel like it was splitting in half.

Dimly he heard Homura's voice say, "I suggest you don't think too hard on it, since it seems to hurt you so much." It didn't sound convincing however, as though Homura half wanted the boy to be in pain...

Or maybe he just wanted him to remember something he couldn't.

"Sh-shut up," Goku managed to get out, trying to glare up at the man but only managing a painful wince. "You... stop acting nice to me! All you want are the scriptures, right?"

"Something like that," Homura agreed, his voice sounding stronger and clearer as the pain throbbing in Goku's skull gradually ebbed away.

Goku glowered at him. "You don't even try to deny it, so why don't you cut it out?"

"I'm not following you."

The man's calmness was irksome. "Stop pretending we're not enemies!"

The flicker in Homura's expression didn't go unnoticed; it even admittedly startled the boy. The mismatched eyes shot toward him, looking genuinely puzzled. When his knuckles started to hurt, Goku realized he was gripping the cloak too tightly. He loosened his grip just as the man spoke.

"What makes you think we're enemies?"

Goku stared. Coming from a man that seemed to collected and together, the question seemed really stupid. It wasn't the same situation as it was with his other adversary, Kougaiji. To him, Kougaiji was just a somewhat constant challenge that he strived to best every time they met, and so far he he'd only lost once. Homura, however...

Homura had never lost. Somehow, to Goku, that made him his enemy. Someone who constantly challenged and beat him was an enemy; he couldn't even touch the god in a serious fight! However, he knew if he tried to explain this it would only come out in jumbled, confused words. So he settled for a shrug and a look of annoyance before turning his gaze away from the man, sulking childishly.

That only seemed to amuse Homura. "You become more like him every time I see you." Goku closed his eyes, refusing to fall for the bait, but Homura went on anyway. "More like Konzen. It's a little disheartening."

The boy frowned, unable to quell that damned curious nature of his that wanted to know what the man meant by that. "What are you talking about?"

"I'm saying that it seems like you're transforming more and more of yourself so that you're not yourself." Goku groaned, desperately wishing he could lash out at the man without fear of perhaps breaking the only barrier keeping them -- or maybe just him -- safe from being buried under feet of ice. He curled more into himself, resting his head on his knees. That, however, just brought his nose to the cloak, which smelled strongly of a scent that was purely Homura. It made him shudder, and not exactly in disgust.

And there he was again, making inner references to reactions Homura made him not quite feel. Goku remembered thinking that Homura and Sanzo were somewhat alike, how they handled their honor, even if they each held a different sort and protected it in different ways. Even so, that was where the personality similarities ended. Goku was comfortable around Sanzo, not including the aftermath of being Seiten Taisei and the few rare moments Sanzo actually got angry with him. Homura, however... he was always on edge, always wary of the man trying to attack him-- or Sanzo. He didn't want the one he cared about most to be taken from him by the god of war...

"That's really why."

Homura tilted his head slightly. "That's why what?" he asked pleasantly.

Goku looked up to face him, looking him determinedly in the eye. "You tried to kill Sanzo before, and that's why you're really my enemy. I can't forgive you for doing that. I don't even forgive anyone who--"

"Badmouths him," Homura finished with him, taking the boy by surprise again. "Just like all those years ago. Maybe you haven't changed that much after all, Son Goku."

"I hate it when you do that," Goku muttered, resting his chin on his knees but not looking away from the god. Homura just looked at him expectantly, so he finished the thought. "Do things that prove you know me, when I can't even remember you before the first day we met." It didn't seem anything could be said to that, and perhaps that was why Homura didn't. Goku closed his eyes, wondering silently to himself, wondering...

He opened his eyes again, gazing back at the god. Homura's eyes were elsewhere now, as though he, too, were lost in thought.

One golden eye, the very same shade as both of his own... it meant this man was half itan, his other blue eye proving he was half human. As taboo as the union between a human and demon... simple facts Goku had slowly learned over time, but other than that he didn't know much about Homura, like why he wanted the scriptures, and what fighting him constantly had to do with his goal...

All he knew were simple facts and that this man was so noble it was nearly ridiculous.

"You're not cold at all?" he asked suddenly.

Homura barely blinked; the boy didn't seem to have taken him off guard at all. "No." At Goku's sigh he gave the boy another one of his smug, amused looks. "Why? Are you still cold, Son Goku?" Goku frowned slightly, and he went on, his voice still offhanded. "Do you need someone to hold you until the cold goes away?"

Embarrassed by the implication, Goku shot to his feet. "Don't treat me like a child," he snapped. "I hate that; you should know I hate that, since you seem to know everything else about me!"

Chuckling, Homura said, "I didn't mean for it to come out that way. I was simply saying that if that's what you need, I can't provide it since I can't even move from this spot."

"You--" His face felt unnaturally warm suddenly, especially in the cold makeshift dome. He didn't get embarrassed easily, but Homura was deliberately putting in the notion of him cuddling the boy-- "Daaah!" Goku's hands flew up to his ears, as though blocking them would keep out the image that still wouldn't go away. Now flustered and angry, he whirled and kicked solidly at the barrier. "Don't say stupid things!"

The moment the words left his mouth Homura's words came back to him: "You become more like him every time I see you." The outburst had been almost a perfect reflection of one of Sanzo's annoyed exclamations...

That was frightening.

Goku quickly turned back to the man, who wasn't even bothering to hide the fact Goku had just hurt him. His hand was pressed to his stomach again, as though the pain were coming from inside and he was doing his best to quell it. Now embarrassed for entirely different reasons, Goku fumbled for an apology. "I... I didn't mean to..."

Homura shot him a shadow of his usual smile. "Yes, you did," he countered, managing to sound calm even if his voice was strained. "I'll have to remember that particular button; it seems to get a very desirable rise from you."

Now bristling, Goku tried to ignore the comment. "How long d'you think we've been stuck in here, anyway?" Anxiety gnawed at his insides. Sanzo wouldn't have left... right? Right? Of course, his own uncertain conscious couldn't answer that.

Homura shrugged, his hand still lingering on his abdomen, as though suspecting Goku might try inadvertently hurting him again. "Not that long, I'd imagine... maybe an hour."

"An hour?"

"Maybe two," Homura said mildly.

Goku stared before groaning, bringing the heels of his hands up to press into his eyes. "No way," he muttered. "No way he would have waited that long..."

"You think Konzen and the others have left you?" Homura asked, for once not sounding amused or smug, simply curious.

Goku scowled. "Sanzo wouldn't want to waste any time because of the mission... they probably think I'm dead, anyway." Without bothering to check...

"They don't," Homura said, in a tone so full of assurance Goku was compelled to believe him, despite knowing he was the enemy. "And a lot of snow fell, so they may get us out in a few hours."

"A few?!" Goku yelped.

"Perhaps sooner, if they started digging us out immediately," Homura went on, not looking perturbed in the least. "So until then, why don't we enjoy each other's company?"

It didn't seem like he had a choice; he could either try to get along with the man or spend the next few hours in tension. Goku nodded reluctantly, sinking into a crouch in the snow. His gaze flitted to the god, who just continued to stand there. The boy frowned. If they'd really been there an hour, maybe even two...

"Aren't you tired of standing there?" he asked.

Homura met his gaze. "I already explained," he said patiently, "that if I move the barrier will collapse."

Goku frowned. "Well... you can move your head and arms and stuff... you just gotta be at the center, right? You could sit down, right?"

The god's expression turned into one akin to appraisal. "Possibly." Goku thought he was being overly cautious when the man took his time kneeling down, but eventually Homura was sitting beside him, not seeming disturbed by the snow at all. it seemed his earlier claims had been true.

It seemed like the seconds dragged into minutes, which dragged into hours. During that time Goku found nothing to say, and he was surprised to realize he was growing uncomfortable. It seemed that whenever he'd talked to Homura before, the man had always had something to say, be it a simple, "Let's see if you've grown stronger," or something strange and seemingly random.

Goku was suddenly aware that, despite the borrowed cloak, he was shivering. He drew the cloth tighter around himself, even shifting so that he was sitting on it rather than directly in the snow, but whatever body warmth from Homura that had lingered was gone. It still smelled strongly of the god, a dizzying reminder every time Goku pressed his face into it, trying to keep his nose warm. It was already red from the cold.

He could feel Homura's eyes on him, and he looked up to meet them defiantly. "What?"

"You're cold." It was a simple statement, not bothered to be turned into a question. Goku was, after all, shivering noticeably by now. He just shrugged in response. "It won't do if you get sick," Homura said, sounding rather thoughtful. "That will make reaching my goal a bit harder, because I'll have to give you time to recover and get strong again..."

Goku frowned, shaking his head; the man was talking nonsense again, nonsense he never elaborated for the boy. "I don't understand."

The gold and blue eyes looked straight into him. The glance was only for a few seconds, but something lurking in the deity's gaze was so strong and powerful that it send a violent shiver through the brunette. Speechless, Goku barely caught the words, "I'm saying that if you keep this up, you'll only make things difficult for both of us." And with that Homura reached over, clamped a powerful hand over the boy's wrist, and jerked him forward.

"Guwah?!" The startled yelp fell from Goku's lips, and a mere send later he found his head resting on a firm chest, covered only by a thin black shirt. He winced as the beads from the god's necklace pressed into his temple just below his coronet. But when he opened his mouth to protest...

"Don't even bother," Homura said lazily, looking down at him with a smirk. "We both know I'm the stronger of us two, so I'll just bring you back." And the space was clearly too small for Goku to get completely out of the man's reach.

However, that didn't mean he was about to give in.

"I already told you," Goku cried, feeling his face flush as he attempted to wriggle from the man's touch. "I hate being treated like a child!"

Homura sighed. "I'm not treating you like a child. I'm trying to make sure you don't kill yourself with your stubbornness." He snorted softly. "It is admirable; I'll say that, even if you do go overboard with it."

"But--"

Homura's grip on his shoulder slackened. "If you want to get sick and become an inconvenience to Konzen, then be my guest," the ebon-haired man said calmly. Goku blinked, not moving but tilting his head to stare at him in disbelief. Not only did he know which buttons to push to get the boy to react dangerously, but he even knew what would effectively cut off all his arguments. When Goku said nothing, Homura smiled. "You understand? Good."

This is way too embarrassing, the boy decided when the god pulled his cloak over him. Goku ducked his head, wishing fervently that his face didn't feel so warm. Homura had surely noticed, and that would be even worse. I've got the god of war trying to cuddle me, when only a couple hours ago he was trying to kill me!

Well... maybe not kill him, but still. Goku shifted, suddenly uncomfortable. Now that he thought about it, Homura had never come for his life. He'd threatened Sanzo's, yes, when Sanzo hadn't willingly handed over the sutras, and he constantly challenged the golden-eyed itan to a few fights here and there... but though Goku had lost every one of those fights, Homura had never attempted to take his life.

If he couldn't even consider Homura his enemy... then why was he even fighting him in the first place? Because he'd tried to hurt Sanzo... though it had only been that one time, and then his attention seemed to have shifted...

Goku blinked, rubbing at his eyes. How long had they been there? Long enough for him to get tired already? "No way," he mumbled.

"What's that?" Homura asked mildly. The question seemed to come from deep within his chest, making Goku shiver as he felt the slight tremors. Gods, does he have to hold me this close?! Still, he couldn't argue that he wasn't warm...

Trying to shake that train of thought, Goku scrambled to explain himself. "I'm just tired... but we couldn't have been here that long; it can't be nighttime already, can it?"

It took Homura a moment to answer; he seemed to be seriously thinking about the question. "Probably not," he agreed. "Though I've heard that the cold can make humans tired."


"Oh." Goku tried to stifle a yawn. "That'd explain it..."

Even without looking, from the tone of the man's voice he could tell Homura was smirking. "Go ahead and sleep. I won't kill you in your sleep, if that's what you're worried about."

"Not really," Goku admitted, surprised to find himself going lax against the man. All the fighting and emotional stress and arguing... it must have taken a toll on him. "I know... you wouldn't..."

He must have fallen asleep, because when he woke some time later, he looked up just in time to see Homura grimace slightly. He looked blearily at the man, not fully awake yet. "Whut izzit?" he mumbled sleepily.

"Someone's standing on the barrier," the man replied ruefully, glancing up. "They'll probably have us out soon."

"Oh..." Still too tired to fully comprehend the full meaning of that, Goku unconsciously snuggled into the man's warmth.

Perhaps enemy was, after all, the wrong word to use for Homura... because surely, Goku wouldn't have felt this safe with an enemy. Adversary, opponent... those might be better choices. Mumbling something unintelligible, he drifted off again, feeling amazingly secure and warm... and, as he usually only felt with Sanzo, completely safe.

Sanzo cursed as he tripped over a snow bank. This was extremely annoying. First there had been those damn gods even showing up in the first place, then that damn monkey causing an avalanche that had caused everyone else to scramble for safety while he stupidly got himself buried (With that other son-of-a-bitch, his mind chose to add) and then, on top of everything, Zenon and Shien had played their oh-so-calm part, saying that Homura would get them both out in no time.

Well, they sure has hell were either under- or overestimating something about their leader, because three hours, several cans of beer, a pack of cigarettes, and various different card games later, the idiot monkey and god of war were nowhere to be seen.

So now they were leaving the conveniently placed, conveniently deserted cabin to look for their comrades.

That idiot probably got himself killed, he thought in annoyance, finally giving up and just standing in one place while Gojyo and Hakkai continued to search. Zenon and Shien had supposedly disappeared some time ago, but Sanzo could see them scouting from the trees from the corner of his eye. Scoffing, he lit a cigarette.

After a good few minutes of smoking, standing there, and inwardly fuming at the idiocy of it all, Sanzo suddenly realized that the snow he was standing on seemed to be... vibrating a little. Frowning, he scraped at it with his sandal -- sandals were not the ideal winter footwear, and already his toes were ice cubes -- and discovered something glowing faintly blue.

He pulled the sleeve of his robes over his hand, pushing at the ice and snow. This eventually revealed more of the blue thing, and then he realized that he could see through it, though it was a bit blurry.

In fact, he was looking straight into a pair of mismatched eyes, the dark eyebrows above them raised high as though the owner wasn't sure whether to be surprised or amused.

"Found them," he said bluntly, his voice carrying surprisingly well.

"You found them?" Gojyo demanded, being the first to react as he hurried over to where the monk stood. A little ways beyond him, Hakkai also looked up and made his way to them.

Hakkai crouched down, sighing with relief as he seemed to note both people being searched for. "Goku seems okay."

"You found them," Gojyo repeated, now sounding disgusted. "You damn monk, you have the most damned luck. You didn't even do anything but stand there!" Sanzo shot him a glare.

"Idiots!" That was a new voice cutting in, a fierce bark that made them all look up in time to see Zenon leaping down from his hiding place, landing on the snow not far from them. Shien followed almost immediately. "Get off that! You're standing on him!"

It took a few arguments, some shouting, and a few quick, peaceful reassurements from Hakkai before the group managed to collect themselves enough to start moving the mounds of snow and ice. Hakuryuu seemed keen on helping, breathing little puffs of fire until Zenon swatted at him, growling that he was only going to do damage if he kept that up. All the trigger-happy god received for that was a sharp bite on his finger.

It took nearly half an hour shifting snow and ice before Homura decided to let the barrier down. By then they had cleared most of the top; the rest caved in, managing to fall just around where Homura and Goku were.

The god stood, dusting snow off from his pants while managing to support Goku, who seemed to either be asleep or unconscious. Sanzo narrowed his eyes and Gojyo opened his mouth to say something, but Homura beat them to it. "He's just asleep," he said calmly, though he didn't move to rouse or hand the boy over.

Sanzo scowled. "You better not have said anything stupid to him." Somehow it irked him far more than it should, seeing the god practically cradling the boy to his chest.

Goku chose that time to stir, reaching up to rub his eyes before he realized he was being half supported. "Ah..." He quickly stumbled to his feet, backing away from Homura, then seemed to realize he was still clinging to his cloak. "Um..." He quickly took it off, holding it out to the man. "Here."

Frowning, Sanzo wondered just what had gone on during the few hours it had taken them to find the two. Goku was acting strangely subdued... less jumpy, almost like he was afraid to start trouble at this point.

Homura accepted the boy's offering, folding the cloth over his arm rather than pulling it back over his shoulders. He stared Goku in the eye, his expression giving away nothing. Goku, amazingly, hardly fidgeted. Sanzo didn't want to admit it, but the silent exchange was making him uneasy.

Suddenly Homura's calm expression broke out into an amused smirk; he closed his eyes and turned away. "We're leaving," was all he said, obviously talking to his fellow gods.

Zenon, seeming ruffled, opened his mouth to protest, but Shien held up a hand, and that effectively quiet him. "Understood," the quieter of the three said, his eyes opening slightly to shoot the Sanzo party a look, one that promised this was far from the end.

"Later," Zenon muttered, waving a hand half-dismissively as the three immortals faded from existence.

Silence hung over the small party left behind, one that gave Sanzo the sensation of being cold-- and he knew that sensation had nothing to do with the weather. He fumbled to light another cigarette, feeling almost relieved when Gojyo finally voiced the question that was burning at him as well.

"What the hell was that all about?"

Goku blinked, turning to look at them, before shaking his head. "Nothing," he said softly, his eyes hardening in determination. "I'll beat him next time. Definitely."

Sanzo stared at the boy for a long moment, trying to read anything past that front gaze, before he turned and muttered, "We've wasted enough time here. Let's go."

So they did.