"So...hungry..." Goku whines, lying with his back on the bed and his head hanging limply off the side of the mattress.
Gojyo has long since stopped replying to the younger man's grievances, lying on his side in the other bed, facing the window. There had been a succession of "Shuddup, you damn monkey!" and "If you're not asleep in the next five minutes, I'm gagging you and tying you to the bed!" along with a few more colorfully phrased insults.
Now, however, Goku is almost certain his red-haired companion is asleep, but this knowledge does little to alleviate his hunger, his boredom, or the fact that he isn't even remotely tired. At least Hakkai makes an effort to humor him when sharing a room, and there is certainly no worry about keeping occupied with Sanzo around. Gojyo, too, is usually enough to rile Goku up, blessedly leaving him aching for a good night's sleep.
But not tonight.
"Baka...ero kappa..." the young brunette grumbles, loudly enough that--should Gojyo still be awake--the choice titles could be easily heard by anyone in the room. Sadly, however, Gojyo doesn't stir.
Huffing in resignation, Goku is about to give up on torturing his friend when something peculiar catches his eye from across the room.
The little Inn the Sanzo-ikkou has found themselves in is small and aged, without central air to keep things circulated, leaving their room unseasonably warm. Seeing no need for covers, Gojyo is conked out on top of them, fully exposed--though still fully clothed, of course--and sticking out of his back pocket is not a wallet or extra pack of cigarettes, but a small, leather-bound book.
Sha Gojyo never reads. Even if he was bored senseless and thought to borrow one from Sanzo or Hakkai, he never would, short of wanting something firm to whack Goku over the head with. So...what could the little book be, peaking so temptingly out of that pocket as if beckoning Goku's small hands to snatch it up?
Turning his head to get a better look, Goku twists on the bed, unbalancing himself until finally slipping and landing with a resounding thud on the hard, wooden floor. "Itai!" he cries through clenched teeth, hoping Gojyo's reputation for being such a sound sleeper will hold true.
Goku sighs gratefully and begins to crawl silently over the floorboards until reaching his companion's bed. He stretches out a hand with great caution, and holds his breath as his fingers grip the worn leather and swiftly pluck the book from confinement without even the smallest moan of discomfort erupting from the slumbering redhead.
Easing into a cross-legged position on the floor, Goku eyes the book carefully, discovering no title or author printed anywhere on the spine or front cover. The book itself is barely the size of his hand, small enough to be carried like a wallet without anyone taking much notice. Unless one of those 'anyones' happens to be a very nosey, very bored monkey.
Goku flips the cover open, discovering a childish though very legible script: Gojyo's distinctive handwriting. (It's a journal.) Goku surmises, rather proud of himself for finding it. After all, who would ever imagine Sha Gojyo as someone to keep a journal? (Man...he'd kill me if he caught me, but...there's no way I can pass up a chance like this.)
Flipping to the end, Goku decides to start with the most recent entry:
/I must write this everyday, but why the HELL did I agree to come along on this cursed crusade, anyway?! The damn bakazaru doesn't know when to shut up, and if that monk points his gun at me one more time, or hits me with that fan, I swear I'm going to murder both of them in their sleep! Who am I kidding, anyway? If it wasn't for Hakkai, I probably would have shot myself with Sanzo's gun during the first week./
Flipping back to the beginning, Goku suddenly feels that he may not have chosen the best place to begin. Considering memories of the ride between the last town and this one are still fresh and not very pleasant in his memory, leaving that entry behind is a very sensible idea.
Back at the front of the book, the first entry dates over three years ago, around the time Hakkai was first staying in Gojyo's house for recovery:
/This is stupid. But if it will get that guy to quit bugging me about being a little more tense than I need to be, I guess I don't have anything to lose. How do I do this, anyway? Hi, my name is Sha Gojyo. I'm 19, with red hair and red eyes, and I'm about as tall as I am skinny. Thankfully, I'm not nearly as skinny as the twig taking up my bed right now. He looks the type to usually have at least a little more muscle to him, but who can blame him for being on the thin side after what he's been through, right? I live alone. Well, I did, before he showed up. I found him lying face down in the mud one rainy night, with his guts hanging out all over the ground. I put him back together, brought him home, and after waking up a little over a week ago, he's still here. He gave me this damn book as a thank you, but I don't see why. He says writing down my thoughts and feeling will help me deal with things I don't know how to face. I figure, if he's so smart, why didn't he do THAT instead of whatever shit he DID do. It doesn't matter, I guess. I'm sitting here worrying about him, and he's normally worrying about me, too, even though we barely know each other. He's napping now, otherwise I wouldn't even think of writing in this thing. Fuck. Hey, it felt pretty good to write that. Fuck. Fuck everything. Especially me. What am I doing taking care of this guy? He's turning my whole world upside down and I don't even care. I don't care. How can I care when he looks at me with those eyes and smiles the way he does--subtle, you know? Just sitting there he can look so beautiful.../
Abruptly, Goku jerks his eyes up from the journal. What was that? Gojyo thinks Hakkai is beautiful? That's absurd. Granted, the pale brunette is strikingly handsome, but for Gojyo, a noted ladies man, to say so in such a...haunted way, it brings up questions and fears Goku never imagined he would have to entertain.
No, it must be his imagination, the boy reasons, flipping a little further through the pages. Surely, a different entry will embellish on one of the redhead's many female conquests, and prove any other speculations wrong. Stopping at an entry dated after Hakkai had returned to live with Gojyo for good, Goku begins to read again:
/God, I hate that monk. I hoped I'd never have to see him again after he brought Hakkai back, but he keeps popping up, asking us for favors and for help on these self-righteous missions. Who does he think he is? And that monkey-boy, Goku, whining every two minutes about food and daring to call me names when he's about two steps down on the evolution chain. I swear I'd never get through the day without Hakkai. He's still teaching in town, whenever we're not on one of Sanzo's escapades, and I'm still making the real money playing cards. I make enough for us both to live on, but I know he doesn't teach for the money. He's so good with those kids. It makes me wonder sometimes what he thinks of me. As far as he knows, I go out every night, play cards, rake in the cash, drink far more than my fill, spend half the night in some whore's bed, and then stumble home so he can nurse my hangover the next morning. Well, he might as well think that, since it's true. Mostly true. The women used to be true, but now that part's just an excuse. Wouldn't want him catching wind of who I'd really like to be sharing a bed with.../
Slam. Goku isn't having very good luck proving himself wrong. But how can it be possible for Gojyo to...? No, it must be his imagination. That's all. Just coincidence and innuendos he's reading incorrectly. Yes, that HAS to be it.
Opening the book once more and flipping further forward, Goku finds an entry dated a few weeks after their journey to the west began:
/It's raining. I hate it when it rains. I used to love it. I remember running out into the backyard with Jien chasing me, and all the drops just melting down our backs as we splashed and played in the puddles. But I hate the rain now. Because he hates it. He told me all about why long before we set out west, and long before he was forced to fill Sanzo and Goku in on it, too. One rainy day he lost the love of his life and murdered a thousand youkai. He turned youkai himself, tried to rip his own guts out, and was brought back to life by yours truly. Quite a tale. But the tale gets better. I guess I was kind of like a knight in shining armor for him, saving him and giving him a second chance. And like in all good stories, this knight fell in love./
Breath. Goku contemplates slamming the book shut again, or at least looking away and not reading the remainder of the entry, but he refrains from giving in to his anxieties, choosing instead to carry through with the passage and discover whatever truths are there for him to know:
/Yeah, I love him. I love Hakkai. I can't count how many times I've written that in here, and I can't even imagine how many times I've thought it. Thought it and said nothing. Written it and said nothing. I'd blame it on the monk and kid, but even if they weren't here, I know I wouldn't confess. Who wants to have their heart broken, right? I'd rather keep dreaming. No one can crush your dreams but you, but your heart? Your heart can get kicked around to Hell and back, and I'm not brave enough to risk that./
The entry ends seemingly empty and unfinished, leaving many others unread as Goku--book still open in his lap--takes a deep, comprehending breath and shakes his head in sorrow. "But...I don't get it."
"You're not supposed to get it, you damn prick! That's why it's MY journal! Meaning you keep your piece of shit mitts off and mind your own fucking business!"
Goku falls back flat to the floor as Gojyo--a most definitely awake Gojyo--looms above and snatches the journal from the younger man's lap. Shoving it back into its rightful place in his back pocket, the redhead throws himself onto the bed again without so much as a glare directed at Goku.
Oh, he is seething, but he hadn't even LOOKED at Goku before returning his attention to the wall.
"Gojyo...shit, I'm so sorry. I know I shouldn't have read it, but...damn. I don't have any excuses, okay. Just...please, don't hate me."
Goku is on his feet by now, but Gojyo makes no indication he has any intention of moving. Right now, the kappa prefers the wall to the sight of Son Goku.
"Aren't you gonna say anything? Yell at me or...or hit me...or...anything?"
"Nothin' to say, ya damn chimp. Leave me alone."
A brief hesitation and the feeling of just how serious his transgression truly is crosses Goku's mind, and he finds himself despising the cold, evenness of Gojyo's anger. Gojyo is the type to get pissed and act out to release it. He screams and punches and gets right in the your face. He doesn't turn away, bitterly biting back comments.
Whatever damage Goku has caused, it is more serious than any he has ever inflicted upon his redhaired companion before.
"I...crossed the line, huh? Majorly?"
"You fuck off! I'm trying to apologize!"
"You wanna make this up to me? Run to the kitchen and stick your head in the oven! To hell with it, do whatever you want, just leave me alone."
As always, Goku's own anger flares...and wanes. He stands defeated, with all his fueled animosity sunken down to the pit of his stomach. With an audible sigh, Goku slumps back to bed and collapses on top of his sheets. He may not be the smartest of the bunch, but he knows when to choose his battles.
Perhaps even better than he realizes.
"Gojyo...just so you know...I don't think it's weird that you love him. It's not like we get a choice in that stuff, ya know? If we could choose, I'm sure you would have fallen for some curvy skirt a long time ago. And...let's just say I'd give almost anything to be in love with someone OTHER than the one I got stuck with. Sanzo never makes things easy."
The air is instantly infused with a thick, electrified silence. Without even meaning to, Goku has made up for his betrayal in the only way he could have.
Rolling onto his other side to face the young brunette, Gojyo scrutinizingly looks the monkey over, debating whether to take that final confession for what it seemed to be. Maybe the boy understands, after all. Maybe Gojyo doesn't have to furiously ignore the damn saru for the rest of their lives, either.
"Goku...did you...mean that the way I think you did?" he asks, maintaining the sharpness to his tone should he decide the younger man is still deserving of his anger.
Lying flat on his back, Goku tilts his head to meet Gojyo's stern gaze. "Like you didn't know." he says in reply, with a painfully forced smile. "Sanzo's the world to me. The sun...and the moon and the stars, too. So...yeah, I was pretty shocked with what I read, but I'd never condemn it. I know first hand what you must be going through."
"And yeah, I know I screwed up by reading your private stuff, okay?"
"Damn straight, ya did."
"Then kill me in my sleep, why doncha? That's what you want, isn't it?"
Gojyo starts. Often his entries are written out of anger or grief, rarely because he longs to impart some hilarious anecdote or memorable triumph. "Bakazaru..." he grumbles, pushing himself up into a sitting position on the edge of the bed. "I was pissed when I wrote that, okay? You and the bouzu get under my skin A LOT, but that doesn't mean I don't want you around...some of the time."
"Some of the time? Then how come ALL of the time you're telling me how much you wish I WASN'T around?"
"Because you're a pain in the ass!"
Goku huffs, crossing his arms, and stares up at the ceiling to avoid Gojyo's gaze.
"BUT...sometimes...you're okay. And...when we get along...or fight an enemy together...or...talk about things that don't set us at each other's throats...I LIKE having you around. Really." Stressing that final admission, Gojyo appears to have overcome the last traces of his anger, and considering how much of a pushover Goku usually proves to be, his vague anger diminishes as well.
"I'm sorry for reading your journal."
"So...you really love Hakkai?"
"You really love Sanzo?"
Pushing himself up, Goku mirrors Gojyo by sitting on the edge of his bed. "More everyday." he states with passionate conviction. "Even when he hits me with that fan or shoots at me with that gun. Coz...every once in a while...he'll be ruffling my hair instead, or even giving me a small smile, and when he does that, suddenly everything seems worth it, ya know?"
A corner of Gojyo's mouth twitches upwards into a half-grin. "Yeah, I know. For me, it's not that Hakkai's ever violent or cruel, it's when he wears that damn fake smile and actually thinks he can swindle me like everyone else. It's that he thinks he needs to that really hurts. But...when I catch one of his REAL smiles...yeah. Anything would be worth that."
The pair shares a warm smile of their own, something they rarely--if ever--get to experience together, and they allow themselves to feel content knowing they share such a bond, instead of clinging to their usual bickering.
So they're both in love with their best friend. So what?
"I forgive you for reading my journal, saru. BUT...if you ever go snooping again, I swear--"
"Don't worry." Goku cuts in, bowing his head with a shameful rush of color to his tanned cheeks. "I promise I won't let my boredom get the better of me. So...we're cool?"
"Cool as two idiot's in an ice box. Though I think it's more like an oven in here."
"You'd be cooler if you weren't always thinking those hentai thoughts, ero-kappa." Goku throws back, smirking with mischief as he easily switches gears.
Gojyo smirks back at him. "At least I know what hentai thoughts are good for. When's the last time you got off, monkey-boy, or don't you know how to do that yet?"
Point for Gojyo; Goku recoils into a mass of bright red embarrassment. "Shut up, you frickin' water sprite! That's just...gross!"
"Don't tell me all that Buddhist shit is going to your head. When a man has urges, he's gotta do somethin' about 'em."
"Fine. Can't imagine how you get by with so much pent-up sexual energy, though. No wonder you're always so eager to start a fight."
Ungracefully sticking out his tongue, Goku retaliates half-heartedly, not in a way nearly bold enough to start any new arguments. The urge to toss himself into the fray is drowned out by a million other instincts leading him to think on an uncharacteristically mature line of thought. He doesn't angree with Gojyo's suggestion, but that idea--the dream of ANY form of intimacy--haunts him nearly as much as the promise of a good meal.
Noticing Goku's apparent lack of interest and suddenly zoned-out expression, Gojyo's smile dwindles, and his defenses begin to claw their way back to the surface. "So...umm...we're agreed that neither one of us is gonna tell the others about this stuff, right? I won't tell Buddha-boy and you won't tell Hakkai. Right?"
Goku's distant gaze does not return to focus, even as he speaks, caught somewhere between deep thought and the promise of that far-off dream. "I felt so alone when I realized I loved him." he begins ruefully, with a somber smile and eyes cast down to the floor. "I figured no one else would understand, and...that no matter what I did, it would never be enough to make him understand me. Now...I know I'm not the only one...but it just makes me feel lonelier, ya know, coz...coz I can't keep loving him like this...from so far away, without being able to tell him..."
"Goku...don't you dare start freakin' out on me." Gojyo breaks in, as if dealing with a trigger-happy bomber about to blow the world sky high. "Yeah, I know the feeling, but it's either live with it, or do something about it, and that's up to you--no one else."
Tilting his bent head upwards to meet the steady, crimson gaze across from him, Goku drinks in all the confidence those eyes are always filled to the brim with, and for the first time since realizing his feelings for a certain violet-eyed monk, he knows what he has to do.
(It's up to me...)
Gojyo blinks, and the next things he knows, Goku is standing in front of him, eyes sparkling with an almost eerie and dangerous determination.
"No, we're not in agreement! We're making a pact, here and now!"
Instinctively falling back, Gojyo holds his hands up in defense, trying to make sense of the monkey's sudden movement and change in temperament. "Whoa...back up there, squirt. What the hell are you talking about?"
"A pact between me and you. Before the end of this journey, we confess everything."
"No, not by the end of the journey." Goku corrects, his golden eyes darting back and forth with the rush of ingenuity. "Who knows if we'll even make it to the west alive? I say we confess before the end of the week!"
Had Gojyo been standing or sitting closer to the edge of the bed, he would have fallen straight away to the floor from shock. "Are you out of your mind!? There's no fucking way I'm risking losing my best friend!"
"So you'd rather suffer, living side by side with him, knowing nothing will ever happen because you were too chicken to say anything?"
Goku admonishes his friend with a loud "Che," something normally attributed to the kappa, actually, and crosses his arms in a way that makes him seem far more like a scolding tutor than a teenager. "I never took you for a coward, Gojyo. I've thought of you as an idiot, but not this much of one. I know I've been one, too, but I've only known I was in love for a year or so--you've had over three years! It's time both of us said something...before it's too late."
Gojyo is all set to release a string of insults and reasons why the monkey is being a complete and utter madman, but dissention immediately dies on his already parted lips. He knows he would regret it his entire life if he never told Hakkai the truth, but the safer choice has always been HIS choice. Risking everything marks a man as reckless.
Then again, never risking anything makes a man a fool.
"If it's a pact...what are the terms?" Gojyo questions, choosing a tone that still leaves him open to refuse.
Goku smiles his widest, monkey-grin, and bounds onto the bed to sit next to his companion. "We both swear to admit our feelings before the end of the week, and if we don't...we accept punishment. So...if YOU don't go through with it...hmmm...you have to give up smoking. Cold turkey."
"Fuck that." Gojyo sneers, leaning back from Goku's close proximity.
"Come on, it's a gross habit anyway."
"If I have to give up cigs, your punishment has to match it. You have to...never eat more than Hakkai at one sitting."
"Hakkai eats like a monk! A non-Sanzo monk!"
"Fair trade or no deal, saru."
An adorably youthful pout plays off Goku's lips, and he considers Gojyo's half of the terms as if greatly strained. Eventually, however, his faith in himself for being able to carry through with the pact outweighs his fear of being deprived of a good meal. Boldly extending his hand, he awaits Gojyo's agreement.
Goku's hand may be a league away considering Gojyo's difficulty in reaching his own to meet it, but meet they do, and with a firm shake, two conflicting friends have sealed their fates--one way or another.
"If this backfires, you little prick, I'm shaving your head and feeding you to Hakuryuu."
"Same to you, kappa."
A/N: Hope you like this and thanks for reading. Please review and I'll do my best to keep pumping out chapters.