Sanzo despised summer. Every single thing about it: The fact that it eternally played host to a myriad of illnesses and insects that would otherwise remain dormant throughout the year; the searing heat that cooked you during the day and made your clothes stick your body at night, and most especially, the way certain people seemed to rejoice in this sickening season. "Sanzo, let's go for a walk! Sanzo, let's go for a picnic! Sanzo, let's feed the birds outside! Sanzo, are you just going to sit there all day?"

"Oi, bouzu, are you just going to sit there all day?"

"Shut up!" Sanzo shouted, firing his gun. Gojyo cursed and leaped to the side, causing the bullet to ricochet off the walls before landing harmlessly in a corner.

"Sanzo, please try to refrain from shooting your gun in here as the walls are made of concrete, and I worry about what that could do." Hakkai said calmly, not even lifting his eyes from the book he was reading.

Sanzo gave no reply to that. He slipped his gun into his robes and walked over to only window that his quarters had. It was closed. In midwinter, he would open it wide and let the piercingly cold air drift into the room, breathe it in and watch it form mist as he exhaled through his mouth. No thoughts. Just the silent blanket of snow on the ground; the quietness with which the tiny ice crystals arrived, and the solitary hush of his own life. He would not have called himself unhappy.

A mosquito buzzed around his ear. Sanzo waved it away in annoyance. He laid his forehead against the windowpane and closed his eyes in temporary relief at the coolness against his skin. He would be spending his winters with Goku from now on. How was he going to stand it?

The rustling of pages behind him triggered a new thought in Sanzo's mind. It wasn't just Goku he had to tolerate now. It used to be, but now those two fools Cho Hakkai and Sha Gojyo had somehow clawed their way into his life. The question was, how long were they going to remain in it?

Hakkai paused in his reading. At my desk, Sanzo thought, irritated. Hakkai looked up after a moment. "Is something the matter, Sanzo?"

Sanzo hadn't realized he'd been staring. "What are you doing here?" He had might as well ask since he was wondering, but that was only half of what he wanted to know.

Hakkai smiled. It was a polite smile. "What do you mean, exactly?" His eyes said, I know you are trying to tell me something and I want hear you say it.

Gojyo looked at him quizzically.

"Why do you come here day after day?" Sanzo was beginning to feel edgy. "Just because I gave you a new lease on life, you think you have to show your gratefulness by visiting everyday?"

Hakkai looked as if he were genuinely considering Sanzo's question. "I am grateful, Sanzo, more than you know. But that's not why I'm here."

"Then," Sanzo looked at the two near-strangers in the room. "Why are you here?" And when are you leaving, he wanted to add.

Hakkai and Gojyo glanced at each other. Hakkai smiled and Gojyo smirked back at the man whom he thought was dead until a couple of weeks ago.

"I don't know, to tell you the truth." Hakkai said. "I've never contemplated the reason behind my coming here. It just feels natural, don't you think?"

"I feel like being here." Gojyo lifted his head defiantly at Sanzo. "So? Are you going to throw us out?"

Sanzo stared at the two men in silence.

The loud thumping of Goku's approaching feet broke the spell of stillness in the room and Sanzo turned his back to them as Goku burst in, bearing a variety of fruits. Their conversation was a background to his thoughts.

It just feels natural. Sanzo laid his head against the cool glass of the window. So true a tongue.

He could not relax that evening. Dinner in a nearby air-conditioned restaurant had been bearable (with Cho Hakkai and Sha Gojyo, whom Goku had begged to come along), but now the dry heat of the day had turned into suffocating humidity. The crickets would not cease their endless symphony. The stray cats that had somehow wondered into the temple grounds seemed determined to drive him crazy with their wailing, and Sanzo was getting tired of his own frustration.

And then there was them.

The three of them, sitting in a circle on the floor, in his room, half-naked, gambling at cards. Sanzo had opted out, choosing to finish reading his newspaper and simultaneously work on preserving his sanity while struggling to cope with the two newcomers' ridiculous presence in his life.

And Goku's life. Goku obviously wanted them here. Sanzo didn't.

But he and Goku, they were sharing a life now.

"Oi bouzo, you were the one complaining all day about the heat. Why don't you take that stupid shirt and those arm things off?" Gojyo asked as he dealt out a new hand.

"Sanzo doesn't like to take them off." Goku said sincerely. Sanzo looked up sharply, his newspaper forgotten. "He always bathes and changes by himself and always wears his clothes, all day. Right, Sanzo?"

"Oooooo." Gojyo's red eyes sparkled, heedless of Hakkai's warning hand on his arm. "Sanzo-sama is so shy. What are you hiding under there?"

Heat and memory rushed through Sanzo like fire, and something else seemed to lift him out of his seat and plunge his fist squarely into Gojyo's face. Ruin his pretty face and see if he wouldn't cover it in a veil. Ruin his life and see whether he wouldn't hide in the shadows.

He couldn't really see what was going on anymore. He was aware, however, of Goku and Hakkai looking at him with concern…and…why was Goku looking at him like that?

He had to get out of here. And heedless of the mess that he was leaving behind or any of the consequence that were to come, that was exactly what he did.

He arranged to sleep in a different room that night. The last thing he needed was to see those idiots. At least the humidity was dying down now. The air was getting cooler, as Sanzo discovered when he opened the window to smoke. A ray of moonlight was the only light source illuminating the room, casting it into shadows.

He was about to leave the room for a shower when someone tried to open the door. It was locked, precisely because he had been determined on avoiding this kind of situation. It could only be one person, since Sanzo only knew one person who didn't know that knocking beforehand was the polite thing to do.

Two, counting himself.

Three, counting Gojyo. Sanzo felt the beginnings of regret tug at him and got off the bed just to distract himself from it.

Sanzo rolled his eyes. Now that tearing the knob off the door obviously hadn't worked, the intruder had finally decided to try knocking quietly.

You can get the idiotic monkey out of the cave…

Sanzo unlocked and opened the door. Golden eyes stared uncertainly at him.

But you can't get the caveman out of the idiotic monkey.

"Nanda?" Sanzo asked coldly.

Goku looked more out of place than ever. "Er. That is, Sanzo…are you feeling better now? And…" He added quickly, seeing Sanzo open his mouth to answer. "Can I come inside for awhile?"

Sanzo stared at him in silence.

Goku's tone became more insistent. "I only want to ask you something, then I'll go away."

Sanzo really wanted to hit something. Instead, he opened the door wider to let Goku in.

He shut the door firmly and locked it again. "How the hell did you find me anyway?"

Goku wrinkled his nose in confusion. "I saw you come in here. But I didn't tell Hakkai and the ero-kappa."

Ero-kappa? "When did you start calling Sha Gojyo that?"

"Don't remember." Goku shrugged, oblivious to Sanzo's guarded manner. "But he really hates it." A short burst of gleeful laughter escaped him.

"Ch. Baka saru." Sanzo muttered as he lowered himself onto the bed, not too near where Goku was sitting.

"Ehhh, Sanzo, stop calling me a saru. Gojyo's starting to do it too."

"I'll stop calling you a saru when you stop acting like one."

Goku gave a huff. He started to pick at Sanzo's bedcovers. "Na, Sanzo." He looked up at him, his former liveliness subsided.


"Hakkai and Gojyo were talking and…you know, even though you're the one who hit him, Gojyo actually wanted to apologize to you. Why would he say sorry when you're the one who hit him?"

"For a reason only adults can understand." Sanzo said curtly, though in truth he had not expected that reaction from him.

"Why did you hit him?" Goku looked at him with genuine, almost painful curiousity. "Why…why did you get so mad?"

Sanzo returned his stare emotionlessly. Goku didn't really think he was going to answer that, did he?

After a moment, he stood up, retrieved his towel, and headed for the door. "I'm going to shower."

When he looked back over his shoulder, Goku was gazing unhappily at the bed.

The problem was that none of them ever said what they truly wanted to say, what needed to be said, until someone's feelings were hurt or someone's face was punched in, and by the time they did, it was most likely too late because the memory would never fully go away.

But it didn't mean that it the other party was left unaffected either.

"I'll never hit you like that."

Sanzo heard a little gasp behind him. He squeezed the doorknob tightly.

"That's a promise. So don't ever let me catch you looking at me in fear like I did today ever again."

He let the door fall quietly shut.

It was a good half an hour before Sanzo returned to his room, cleansed and sleepy. He barely suppressed the urge to scream when he found Goku sleeping on the left side of his bed.

That stupid saru! He was going to kill him in the morning. And he had left the window open. If any flies had gotten into the room, Sanzo was going to make Goku eat them.

A sudden cool breeze brushed against his bare torso as Sanzo pulled the window closed. With no one to see him, his eyes closed in pleasure, feeling the tug of sleep on his eyelids. He glanced at his black leather arm warmers and top hanging on the chair and knew that he'd have the most uncomfortable, sticky sleep of his life if he wore them tonight.

His eyelids fell a little more. He could barely keep his eyes open. Fuck, I don't give a damn. Before he knew it, he was falling into bed and into a deep sleep.

A ticklish sensation on his back caused Sanzo's eyes to flutter open.

He immediately knew it was Goku, and only just stopped himself from crushing the two fingers that were trailing lightly, hesitantly, over the ridged scars on his back. Only just.


Goku's fingers barely grazed his upper back, where Sanzo knew the scars criss-crossed. Goku's fingers which had no business being there.

Sanzo stared at the moon outside and willed his heartbeat to stay even, though he could barely breathe. Had he wanted this on some subconscious level?

Goku's fingers continued their exploration. If Sanzo wanted to, he could close his eyes. He could give in to the gentleness, the near-sensuality of those touches and close his eyes…or he could explode. He could yell and order Goku out of his room and his life. If he wanted to, he could; rage built up in him as he thought of it, he could tear into Goku and lose himself and scream why why why how could you do this why do you need Cho Hakkai and Sha Gojyo why did you look at me like that today you looked at me as if I was a monster is that what you think I am now that you've seen the scars to prove it

Something warm and wet pressed softly onto his shoulder.

Sanzo didn't turn around.

His damn pride would be the death of him.