Knock. Knock. Knock.
"Wake up, you lazy idiots!!" Sanzo bellows at the door to Gojyo and Hakkai's room. This, of course, is something he has been doing for quite some time now. "It's almost noon, damn it! I want us on the road after lunch no matter what condition we're in, you here me?! So get your good-for-nothing asses--"
"Alright, already!" Gojyo yells in reply, suddenly right in Sanzo's face as he pulls the door open with a look of extreme frustration. He is dressed for the day, but the amount of disarray to his hair proves he has only recently crawled out of bed. "Damn priest." he growls. "Hakkai's in the shower. And before you even start, we're already packed, okay? We'll be out in five."
Sanzo accepts this information, but his characteristic scowl remains plastered in place. "You'd better be." he says, crossing his arms to better assert his authority. "We've wasted enough time here as it is."
"It's been two and a half days, IF that, you dickhead." Gojyo snarls. "Besides...we needed it. We ALL did." he adds, and then pauses to strengthen his smirk before tossing Sanzo a small wink. "You can thank me for the saru later."
Sanzo twitches. "Omae..."
But just then, Goku comes running down the hallway, Hakuryuu perched on his shoulder, and practically rams into the monk as he skids to a stop. The others eye him with varying degrees of amusement and barely contained thoughts of homicide. Goku pays no mind, though, and proudly holds up his whiteboard, which reads 'HAREHETTA' in bold lettering.
"I don't know how he manages to make that more annoying than his voice..." Sanzo begins. "...but somehow, he does."
Gojyo laughs in agreement, Goku sticks out his tongue, and Sanzo, never one to disappoint, rolls his eyes in annoyance.
How he can stand putting up with such fools is almost beyond his imaginings. Of course, when he remembers what he had been doing earlier that morning with one of the fools in question...he stops wondering. After all, he is only human, and the fact that Goku isn't does nothing to deter from the monkey's equally enthusiastic sexual appetite.
"One minute, okay?" Gojyo says, once his laughter had died off. He then, immediately, shuts the door in Sanzo's face.
"And ONLY one!!" Sanzo shouts into the wood, having promptly retrieved his mind from the gutter. "Or I'm leaving you both behind!"
Sanzo looks down, having felt a small tug on his sleeve. 'HAREHETTA' stares back at him.
"Oh, will you give it a rest!" Sanzo pleads in exasperation. The sign is then replaced by Goku's adorable pout, and despite his better judgment, the monk feels his resolve weakening under the force of those liquid-gold eyes. "Fine." he sighs, and then turns his attention momentarily back on the door. "I'm going to feed the animal! Meet us in the dining hall!"
A muffled reply from the other side sounds back and Sanzo takes it for affirmation.
Companionable silence reigns for a few moments as the pair treks down the hallway towards the wafting smell of food, but after a while, Sanzo once again feels that familiar tug on his sleeve.
"Yes, I know you're hungry!" he shouts, before turning his attention on the whiteboard that has been pushed up towards his face.
'I love you.'
Sanzo stumbles in his step. Damn that saru for catching him off guard at every possible turn.
Goku's bright smile peeks from around the sign and he looks up at Sanzo in complete adoration, never once feeling a single shred of fear for rejection or a coarse rebuttal. Well, at least not too coarse a rebuttal.
"Baka." Sanzo whispers, suppressing a smile. He reaches out to ruffle the boy's hair and soon discovers he has a small monkey attached to his arm as they continue towards the dining hall. "I love you, too...saru. Now, quit it with the doe-eyed crap."
Goku laughs--still soundless--and clings to Sanzo's arm all the more tightly, feeling like the luckiest saru in the world.
"Oi, Hakkai! I've got your clothes! The laundress dropped them off after you got in the shower!"
Gojyo is standing just outside the bathroom door with Hakkai's day clothes folded in his arms--along with the monocle, headband, and sash he had collected from the Akaanai's camp. The shower has just turned off and he figures the brunette will be scavenging for something to wear.
The door opens and Hakkai steps out--hair damp and clinging to his forehead, with only a towel wrapped loosely around his waist. He smiles in appreciation at his friend before taking the clothing from Gojyo's arms. "Thank you, Gojyo." he smiles, and just as suddenly as he had appeared, he disappears back into the bathroom.
(Think unsexy thoughts, Gojyo.) the kappa chants, turning away from the bathroom with a very flushed face at the sight he had just been granted. (You gotta survive God knows how many hours with the saru, and the last thing anybody wants is for you to jump the poor kid while Hakkai's still driving.)
Gojyo's thoughts are meant mainly in jest, of course, but the force of his racing pulse is very real.
A few minutes later, Hakkai appears from the bathroom looking as fresh and put together as ever. How he can always manage that, even after so little sleep and such...strenuous exercise...only a few hours earlier, is something Gojyo may never fully understand.
"Was that Sanzo I heard yelling before?" the brunette asks, meticulously packing up the last of his things.
"Who else. He took Goku to get some food and said for us to meet up with them pronto."
Hakkai nods. "We'd better go then." And he slings his pack over his shoulder as he heads for the door.
Gojyo, too, has his pack, but calls after Hakkai before the other man can get too far ahead of him. "One thing..."
"Yes? What is--"
But the brunette isn't granted the opportunity to finish. Gojyo has grabbed him by the shoulders and kisses him within a sudden, sweet embrace. "Love you." the kappa sighs, after reluctantly pulling away.
Hakkai feels dizzy, the whole world spinning deliciously around them. "Dear, Gojyo." he smiles, leaning in to press yet another swift kiss to the taller man's lips. "...love you back..."
A few minutes after leaving their room, Hakkai and Gojyo approach the dining hall. Most of the residents have already had their lunch and seem to be quickly exiting, but certain distinctive sounds indicate there may be other reasons for causing such hasty retreats.
Whack! Whack! "Save some for the rest of us, bakazaru!"
As they enter, Hakkai smiles broadly at the empty room. Well, empty save the blonde and brunette fighting over a particular dumpling. "My, my, it is nice to know things are back to normal." he comments, crossing the room with an almost imperceptible hesitation in his step. He still wears his smile, but it is strained--uncertain.
There is a moment of great tension, as if no one really knows what to say. After all, Gojyo is the only one who has seen or spoken to Hakkai since the brunette woke up. Before that...well, none of them cares to think about the events before now.
Hakkai and Gojyo reach the table, Hakkai's fingers twitching oddly at his sides. Before anyone can think of what to say, someone without the ability to say anything gives exactly the correct response. Goku leaps from his chair and practically tackles Hakkai on the spot, hugging his older friend as desperately as he would embrace a long lost brother.
"Goku..." Hakkai smiles. "...it's good to see you, too." And he returns that hug zealously, cherishing the feel of such caring arms around his waist. "I hope you can forgive me for the way I behaved. I feel...so terrible about the things I said and did."
The younger brunette doesn't even pause to think; he looks up into Hakkai's eyes and nods furiously, all too eager to put everything behind them. The only thing that matters is having all of them together again.
Goku releases Hakkai after that and hops back to his chair to once again attend to the remaining food on his over-flowing plate.
Leaning in close to Hakkai from behind, Gojyo whispers. "What did I tell ya." And then claims his own seat, dishing up as much food as he can before Goku has the opportunity to whisk away any more.
Hakkai joins them, taking a seat beside Sanzo. He tries to get himself to feel at ease, knowing that an apology is the last thing the monk would want for himself, but he soon gives up. "Ano...Sanzo..."
"Don't make me warn you again about saying stupid things." the monk retorts, cutting off any attempt Hakkai might have had at offering what he had meant to say. "Just eat. As soon as we're done, we're leaving."
Not knowing yet how to challenge that, Hakkai stays silent, and soon fills his plate, though he ends up feeding a number of scraps to Hakuryuu from under the table.
The meal goes as any would, with much arguing over food and much pleasant laughter. When they have finally finished--or rather, when Goku finally consents to stopping--the four gather together and pack their things in the jeep, preparing to head out once more for the road.
While Gojyo and Goku wait outside, Sanzo and Hakkai finish checking out.
"Thank you so much for moving us here to help with our friend's recovery." Hakkai smiles warmly at the clerk, handing over the keys to their rooms and lockers. "We had a wonderful stay."
"Oh, it was no trouble at all. I'm just sorry about that sudden youkai attack. Thank goodness no one was hurt."
Hakkai does his best to hide how he flinches at the reminder. "Yes...thank goodness..."
Having retrieved his credit card after paying, Sanzo stands irritably behind Hakkai, and addresses the brunette with obvious impatience. "Let's go."
A quick goodbye and a slight bow later, the brunette is following Sanzo to the door. Before the monk can exit, however, Hakkai grabs his arm, holding him back. "Chotto matte, Sanzo. May I...say something?"
"If it's an apology, you can save it. I don't need to hear one." Sanzo replies, not even bothering to turn and face the man behind him.
Damn. Hakkai's voice is so plaintive, so...needy, IN need of something Sanzo refuses to give. Still, that soft tone is something he cannot ignore. "...what?" he finally concedes, and with veiled eyes, he painstakingly looks back into the emeralds of his friend.
"The last thing I'd ever want is to hurt you." the brunette expresses, having released Sanzo's arm, though the force of his gaze is far stronger than any grip ever could be.
Sanzo sneers. "Oh, really? Well, then I guess the last thing was exactly what you wanted."
There is an awkward pause, electrified by the continued strain of violet and green eyes locked on each other.
Finally, Sanzo has no choice but to give in. "Look...you'd never betray me. I told you that once before."
"Yes. Yes, I know that, but--"
"You healed the damage you caused, didn't you?"
"No, Hakkai." the blonde growls, stamping his foot in frustration. "It's over. It's done. Leave it alone, already."
'It's over, okay? It's done. Leave it alone.'
The similarity in those phrases strikes Hakkai as excruciatingly funny, and suddenly, he is smiling. "You know, Sanzo, you and Gojyo can be an awfully lot alike."
Though almost anyone else would have smiled in kind, Sanzo glares. "You better take that back."
Genuinely and easy, Hakkai laughs, and the slight silence that follows isn't awkward at all. "Sanzo..." the brunette begins, after the quiet had run its course. "...for what it's worth, I am sorry. You mean...a great deal to me."
Rolling his eyes, Sanzo wonders if all this newfound honesty within the group won't someday be its downfall. "Save the heartfelt shit for the cockroach, okay?"
"Oh, I will." Hakkai promises, and Sanzo has no doubts as to whether or not he is speaking the truth.
Pushing out of the bathhouse doors, Sanzo and Hakkai finally begin making their way to the jeep, where Goku and Gojyo are waiting. While they are still out of hearing range of the others, Sanzo suddenly pauses in his step and speaks without turning to look Hakkai in the face.
A moment later, Sanzo is in his usual seat and Hakkai is eagerly climbing behind the wheel with a smile bright enough to rival every one before it. "So...where to, minna?" he asks, starting the engine with a glorious purr.
"Anywhere with a comfy bed." Gojyo drawls, still groggy from such little sleep the night before.
Goku sticks his whiteboard between the seats. 'Anywhere with good food.'
"You know where we're going, Hakkai." Sanzo breaks in, seemingly unamused. "West."
"Hai, hai." Hakkai agrees, and with a rumble of the engine and a slight lurch forward, they speed off into the waiting desert to continue along their journey.
After a few minutes of blissful, tired silence, Goku taps Hakkai's shoulder and once again holds up his whiteboard. 'How much longer til I get my voice back?' it reads, the young man's face utterly serious. His ability to talk--endlessly, in some cases--is something very dear to his heart.
"You will most likely be able to speak lightly by the end of the week." Hakkai explains. "But your voice won't return to its full power for at least two."
"All for the best, if you ask me." Sanzo puts in. "And quit sticking that thing in Hakkai's face. Do you want to get us into an accident?"
Though this is something that once would have caused Goku to recoil or shout in anger, the monkey merely grins and sets his whiteboard down on the floor. Leaning forward, he encircles his arms around Sanzo's seat to grip the monk's chest, and the side of his head presses against blonde hair as he begins to lick at an inviting earlobe.
"Stop that!" Sanzo hisses, though his struggling falls--surprisingly--short.
Ignoring the others, Gojyo leans forward to address Hakkai. "So...any towns up ahead, or are we stuck with the jeep for the next few nights?"
"We should reach a town by nightfall." Hakkai offers.
"Good..." the kappa grins, leaning in closer to whisper. "...coz you make me way too frisky..."
Hakkai shares Gojyo's grin as the redhead sits back, imagining all the ways he can mend that in the future.
"I said, cut it out!" Sanzo yells, at last succeeding in fending Goku off after pulling his gun.
Goku sits back, and Sanzo puts the offending weapon away even after the boy defiantly winks at him. Truthfully, the young brunette is happy to comply as he settles into his seat, because he knows Sanzo enjoyed the attention, and he hopes it will give the monk many evil thoughts to entertain before they reach that next town.
Shaking his head in a mass of rippling red, Gojyo nudges Goku with his elbow. "So...get your rocks off yet, saru?"
Goku replies with a shrug somewhere between affirmation and feelings of disappointment.
"Holding out on ya, huh?"
"I can hear you back there." Sanzo warns, but he is promptly ignored.
"You'll wear him down." Gojyo winks. And, honestly, he believes it.
Reaching down to retrieve his set-aside whiteboard, Goku writes out a simple 'You?' in response, and holds it up for Gojyo to read.
The kappa doesn't say anything, but the grin he answers with is answer enough. "Thanks, by the way." he adds, bending his head to hush their conversation. "This is all coz of you, and I'm not gonna forget it. Hey, I even quite smoking. Don't know how long it's gonna last, but...it's a start, right? And ya know what else?"
Goku watches curiously as Gojyo pulls out that almost forgotten journal from his back pocket.
"I don't need this anymore." And with that said, he chucks the book back over his head to disappear into the clouds of dirt turned up by Hakuryuu's wheels.
Goku gives his soundless laugh, and writes, 'Silly kappa.'
"Silly saru." Gojyo teases back, ruffling the younger man's mess of soft, brown hair, before settling back into a position that suggests he intends to sleep.
Deciding that is probably a very good idea considering how little sleep he, too, got last night, Goku settles in on his own side, staring forward for a moment at the blonde seated in front of him before allowing his eyes to close.
(Yep, I'm silly all right.) he thinks happily. (But this silly saru just made the journey a whole lot more interesting...)
While three fatigued companions drift off for some much-needed rest, their driver continues on, carrying them further and further...into the West.
A/N: Wow. That was one of the most enjoyable fics I have ever written. With so much support and so many different directions I wanted to go, I fulfilled a lot of fantasies for the Saiyuki boys. I really can't thank all of you enough.
Sorchafyre, the review you gave for Ch.14 was so heartwarming. :-) Fanfiction has been my outlet for improving my writing for years, and the cake was much appreciated. Especially since it was virtual, being I'm on a diet. :-P
There are too many people to thank for being diligent reviewers and for such kind encouragement. Also, the way people have corrected me, or given their opinions, or just given good criticism, has been so wonderful. I really do take into account what you say and do my best to improve
Well, as sad as I am to see this fic finished, I am glad at the same time. I hope it ended well for everyone. I believe that all Saiyuki fics should end in the jeep, because almost every ep ends that way. It brings the boys back to who they really are, and that is important to me. Thanks again everyone, and see ya next ficcie, whatever that may be.