He knows something's off. He knows it by the strange and sudden itch under his skin. He doesn't know quite how, though, so he tries to act normal until he figures out what exactly is going on. He drops his head forward to look at the front seat where Sanzo is riding passenger. "I'm hungry," he murmurs to the back of Sanzo's neck. "I'm hungry," he says again, louder. Only, his meaning isn't quite the same as usual.
Gojyo smacks the back of his head half-heartedly, then hands him a sticky meat bun from their food supply. Goku stuffs it in his mouth, and only half chews it before whining "Are we there yet?" with his mouth full, as loudly as possible. The itch under his skin is getting stronger. Sanzo spins his head around to snap a rebuke, but the words die in his throat when he sees the look on Goku's face. Goku can't hide anything from Sanzo. The monk hears him even when he's not speaking. One glance at Goku's face is all Sanzo needs to know that something is very, very off.
Sanzo mutters a weak "bakazaru" before turning back around to stare at the road. Only an instant later, Gojyo catches on to the weirdness, his red eyes looking questioningly at first Sanzo, then Goku. "Ne...Goku. Something wrong?"
Goku curls in on himself at the question, snapping his feet up onto his seat and looping his long arms around his knees, ape-like. He's not prepared to answer. If only he weren't so bad at hiding things. "I feel different," he says into his knees.
"Sick? You don't get sick."
He uncoils again, snapping out a foot to hit Gojyo in the ribs. "Different, not sick! Leave me the hell alone, pervert!"
"It was just a question, damn stupid monkey!"
Any further argument is halted by the click of Sanzo flipping the safety off his pistol, and even that seems different to Goku. It's as if he can hear Sanzo's fingers sliding around the metal. He wants...he's not sure what. He wants something, whatever it is.
"We'll be there in another hour," Hakkai says from the driver's seat. It takes Goku a few seconds to realize that Hakkai is answering his original question. The silly question that seemed to leave his mouth without his permission, making him sound like a child barely out of swaddling clothes. He doesn't feel like a child. No, definitely older than that. His eyes drift back to Sanzo. The itch is turning into a burn, sliding down his nerve endings towards his groin. He thinks he might be getting an idea of what it means now.
He swallows the remainder of his bun in afterthought.
A quarter of an hour goes by. Goku can tell he's putting Sanzo on edge with his staring. He wants to stop, but his eyes keep crawling back before he has the chance to look away in the first place. It's just that Sanzo looks so very...no, that's not it. Sanzo looks the same. It's Goku who's changed. Goku wonders if this is what addiction feels like. The comparison doesn't really work. Addiction is just flesh. Sanzo is bone deep.
He finally manages to pull his eyes away and stare at the road. It's a strain. He's not used to exerting this much willpower. He only knows that he can't keep looking at Sanzo if he's going to look at him like that. Feeling like that. Like if he doesn't watch himself he'll end up crawling into the front of Jeep and burying his face in whatever body crevice he can smell Sanzo the strongest.
That's what this is about. He's heard the word before, and understands it better by smell than by definition. He often finds it clinging to that perverted kappa's clothes, or whenever they go past a brothel in town. Now it is rising off his own skin. Sex. Coiling like a snake in his lap. Somehow his eyes have found their way back to Sanzo's nape and his tongue is flicking out to lick suddenly dry lips and he's so very, very hungry.
"Are we there, yet?"
Goku blinks in surprise when he realizes that it was Sanzo who spoke this time, and not himself. Hakkai's usually emotionless countenance registers a moment's shock at Sanzo's uncharacteristically desperate tone before his face settles back into it's usual smile. "I did not realize you were so impatient, Sanzo-sama. Another half hour, at the most."
Gojyo, who has spent the past half hour covertly studying both Sanzo and Goku with half closed eyes, perks up at this news. "When we get there, you two can check in for all of us, ne? The monkey and I will go get some food and catch up with you later."
Another look of shock passes over Hakkai's face, and this time he doesn't bother to cover it with a smile. "Gojyo..."
"The runt and I've got things to discuss."
Whatever Hakkai is about to say, he swallows, turning back to the road ahead. Gojyo turns to Goku smiling that annoying older brother smile. That "I know everything you're not telling me" smile. That "I'm about to give you unwanted advice and tease you mercilessly and you can't do a thing to stop me" smile. Goku sinks dejectedly into his seat. This, like, so totally sucks.
As Hakkai promised, they're in town within half an hour. Goku soon finds himself in the marketplace with Gojyo, Sanzo nowhere in sight. "So," Gojyo grins down at him, red hair falling in his face, "what the hell is wrong with you?"
"Nothing," Goku protests, too loudly.
Gojyo grabs Goku in an arm lock around the neck, licks one long finger, and shoves the wet digit into Goku's ear. Goku nearly knocks a food stand over trying to shove Gojyo away and choke him to death at the same time.
"I'll ask again," Gojyo says, relinquishing his hold. "What the hell is wrong with you? The car? Sanzo's acting even loonier than usual, and you keep looking at him like..."
"...I want to eat him."
Gojyo blinks. Goku stands back and shuffles his feet nervously.
"I keep looking at him like I wanna eat him, right?" Goku says, almost whispering. "Except I don't wanna eat him. But I kinda do. And I can't stop. I can't stop looking at him like that."
Gojyo looks like he's not sure whether to laugh or vomit.
Goku glares at him expectantly. "You know all about this stuff, right? This sex stuff? So now you're gonna tell me what it means?"
Gojyo's face loses all traces of humor so quickly Goku's sure the expression must be fake. "What do you think it means?" Gojyo asks, his voice mild.
Goku ponders this for a second. "I think it's like that thing Hakkai does with you."
Goku bites his lip searching for the words. "You know, that twitch thing."
Gojyo seems confused by this reply. "Hakkai doesn't have any sort of twitch thing."
"Sure he does. Well you probably wouldn't notice anyway you red haired cockroach. He only ever does it when you're not looking."
Gojyo smacks him for the insult and a scuffle ensues, continuing until both are knocked off their feet and left sitting on the dusty ground. Gojyo jabs Goku with his elbow one last time before muttering, "He twitches when I'm not looking?"
Goku leaps back to his feet and lets out a few curses before answering. "Like in Jeep today," Goku explains. "He turned to look at you. Except he didn't turn after all. He just sat still. And his eyes did this flicker thing. Sometimes it's not his eyes. It's his jaw or his hands. They just...twitch. I think it means he likes you. Or wants sex stuff. Or something."
Goku braces himself for another snappy comeback or a kick to his midsection. Instead, all he gets is contemplative silence. Finally Gojyo speaks. "I thought you didn't notice things unless they had to do with Sanzo or food."
"I notice things."
Gojyo raises one eyebrow speculatively.
"What? I notice things! I just don't care most of the time."
His tone is so matter of fact that Gojyo can't help but laugh. He grabs a bushel of tangerines from the nearest fruit cart, pays the seller, and tosses one to Goku before ambling off. The fruit is half swallowed by the time Goku realizes that Gojyo never answered his question.
Goku tracks Gojyo back to a bar, where the half-blood is involved in a poker game. He weaves his way between tables to Gojyo's side and pokes insistently at his shoulder until he turns around in his chair and barks out, "What is your problem?"
"We were talking."
"Huh, really? Well, now we're not."
"Gojyo!" Goku's voice has risen to a whine. Gojyo smiles awkwardly to the other players at his table and turns back to his cards.
Goku smacks the offending playing cards out of Gojyo's hand, bending them in the process and starting up yet another messy squabble that quickly gets the both of them kicked out of the establishment, much to the disappointment of Gojyo's three attending waitresses.
Goku manages to garner a number of dirty looks, not the least of which comes from Gojyo himself. He tweaks Goku's ear painfully before settling back against the wall of the building from which they've been evicted, and fishing out a pack of cigarettes. He pulls one free of the box and slips it into his mouth, where it balances precariously on his bottom lip while he searches for a light.
Goku reaches up and smacks Gojyo in the head, knocking the cigarette out of his mouth in the process. "You told me you'd help me out with Sanzo," he yells.
"Chill the fuck out, would you?" Gojyo eyes his cigarette longingly where it lies dirty on the ground before sighing and pulling another out of his pack. "No need to shout." He lights up and pulls in a deep lungful of smoke, then turns and blows out his breath directly onto Goku's scowling face.
"I just wanted to know what the hell your problem was. I never said I'd help you with it."
"Hey, what you do with your monk behind closed doors is none of my business. If you want to furi-kuri with him figure it out on your own."
"But Gojyo!" Goku stretches the name out, screeching the last syllable at glass shattering decibels. Gojyo groans.
"You're not gonna let this go, are you?"
Goku shakes his head.
"You're a little shit, you know that?"
"Ah, they grow up so fast," Gojyo murmurs to himself before looking Goku squarely in the eye. "Look monkey, this is what you're gonna do. You're gonna come with me back to whatever crappy motel we're checked into for the night. You're gonna tell him what you want."
"But I don't know what I want."
"And that's my problem?" Gojyo smiles mischievously. "Okay, don't tell him. Show him. I'm sure Sanzo will fill in the blanks."
"But I don't know what to do."
Gojyo steps out onto the street and starts walking. "So make something up!"
Meanwhile, on the other side of town, Sanzo and Hakkai finish checking into the local inn which, just their luck, had only one room available. They find a restaurant across the street to have a quiet evening meal. They take a table and tell their respective orders to a waitress. Once settled, Sanzo looks across the table to see Hakkai with a pensive expression.
"It's a lovely day today, yes?" Hakkai asks. Words that innocuous can only preclude more serious questions. Sanzo watches Hakkai warily before replying.
"The weather is nice enough, I suppose."
"Not a bad drive at all, I should think," Hakkai continues.
"You drove for seven straight hours."
Hakkai's laughter would have sounded nervous coming from anyone else. "Perhaps the length of our drive disagreed with you then?"
Sanzo's fingers tighten around each other in his lap. He sends Hakkai a warning look, which Hakkai ignores completely. "It was fine."
"Was it?" Hakkai murmurs. "You seemed out of sorts."
Sanzo taps his fingers impatiently against the table edge, as if he's itching to draw his gun and shoot something. Anything. "Goku was...acting oddly. He spoke strangely while you were driving." Strangely. That's a word for it. Even now Sanzo can feel his skin prickling at the memory of Goku's voice. The low moan hidden underneath the words. I'm hungry.
Sanzo wonders how Hakkai could have failed to notice. He wonders how anyone could fail to notice. How people in every town they passed though could look Goku straight in the eye and be face to face with all that leashed power and not see it. And not want...food. Food. How goddamn long before the food gets served? He ought to shoot the cook.
Mercifully, the waitress chooses that moment to set two plates and two glasses down on the table. Sanzo stabs viciously at his chicken before replying. "Yes, his voice was...off. You were there. You've known him for nearly as long as I have."
Hakkai allows himself a few bites before wiping his mouth carefully with his napkin and continuing the conversation.
"Ah, true. I have known him quite some time. Not nearly as well you, I should think. I sensed something was off with your behavior."
Yes, something was off with Sanzo's behavior. Goku. This was the brat's fault -- acting weird, sounding weird, staring at Sanzo as though he were a particularly delectable lunch dish. Making Sanzo feel as though getting eaten were not such a bad thing.
Sanzo's quickly puts and end to that train of thought, and his expression goes shuttered. He takes a sip of his drink before saying, in his usual manner, "That deranged kappa of yours seems to have the whole situation figured out. Ask him."
"I suppose I could, but I'd rather hear it from you."
Sanzo wonders briefly if he somehow mistakenly asked for a dose of amateur psychology to go with his saki. He stares stonily at Hakkai, who continues, "We're both friends here, yes?"
"Perhaps you should just wait until the situation reveals itself," Sanzo snaps. "It isn't as though being the last to know something is a new experience for you."
Hakkai's face twitches slightly at those words. "Aaah, no. It isn't." He pushes his barely touched plate from him and stands. "Shall we go back to the inn? I shouldn't want to be late for when Gojyo and Goku return. Granted, arriving late for someone isn't exactly a new experience for me either."
Hakkai neatly pushes his seat back under the table and heads towards the exit. Sanzo glowers at his unfinished meal before tossing a few bills onto the table and following. He could kick himself, really. Hakkai will make him pay for that remark later. Sanzo can see it now. Hakkai'll give Gojyo a look just the same as his regular look, only Gojyo will be able to tell something is off because Gojyo is always able to tell when something is off with Hakkai. Two weeks later Sanzo will wake up to find that his hair has been dyed pink, and Hakkai will smile softly and cook Gojyo an extra egg for breakfast and ask Sanzo if he wants to have his eye looked at, as it seems to be suffering from a muscle spasm.
The prospect is almost frightening enough to make Sanzo forget all about Goku.
But not quite.
Hakkai and Sanzo return to the inn when the innkeeper's daughter informs them that their two companions have taken the key and are in the room, currently. The pleased blush on her face causes Sanzo to wonder why Gojyo doesn't just room with her for the night and leave the one room open to the three of them.
Annoyed with the kappa, he follows Hakkai up to the room, where Hakkai pushes the door open just in time for them to hear Gojyo angrily yell out, "Goddamnit monkey, I am not explaining to you the mechanics of anal se...heh...Hakkai! Sanzo. We were wondering when you guys were coming back."
Goku's head snaps around whiplash fast. "Sanzo," he says, a look of near panic on his face. Sanzo imagines he can almost see the sweatdrop balling up on Goku's brow.
Gojyo's initial shock quickly eases into a considering expression that seems rather out of place, given the situation. Sanzo tears his eyes away from Goku and follows Gojyo's gaze to Hakkai, who appears to be looking everywhere but at Gojyo, a slight flush to his cheeks.
Enough of this crap.
Sanzo pulls out his gun and fires off a shot that misses Gojyo by a hair's breadth. "Get out."
Goku's panic recedes at Sanzo's bark. If the monk is pissed off, everything's copasetic. Relatively. Gojyo, on the other hand, is now wearing an annoyed expression. "This is my room too, you know. Where am I supposed to sleep?"
Sanzo's finger twitches against the trigger and Gojyo knows better than to test him. He quickly makes his exit, whisking Hakkai out of the room with him. Well, that takes care of two. Sanzo turns to the third, Goku, whose expression has transformed into something almost predatory while Sanzo wasn't looking. Goku takes a step towards Sanzo, his eyes glowing catlike in the dim lamplight of the room. Sanzo ignores the frisson of...whatever it is that slides up his spine as he stands under Goku's intense regard.
"Baka," he growls in a warning tone. Goku cocks his head as if considering the level of threat in the statement. A few short seconds, and Goku's look of indecision transforms into one of blind determination. Before Sanzo has the chance to bite out a more explicit order, Goku takes another step forward, and another, and keeps walking until he's nearly flush with Sanzo. "I'm hungry," he says. "I'm so hungry, Sanzo." Each word is a bit softer, lower, more drawling than the last. He finishes his statement in something like a purr. "And you smell...so...good."
Sanzo's gun falls to the floor with a loud clunk. The noise is loud enough to startle the both of them and they jump slightly apart. Sanzo manages to get his bearings first, and he gracefully pulls his fan out of his sleeve. "Do you want to get hit?"
Goku shakes his head.
"Then get out of my personal space."
Goku shakes his head again. Goku is an idiot, Sanzo thinks, right before swinging his fan.
His wrist is caught and pinned behind his back. The next thing he knows, Goku is tipping forward, bringing his open mouth up to Sanzo's, flicking his tongue across the closed line of Sanzo's lips and just.
Just. Kissing him. Goku is kissing him. Goku is -- Sanzo blinks -- Goku is back where he was a moment ago, standing a safe foot and a half's distance away, hands folded meekly in front of him, eyes downcast. Goddamn, but the monkey moves fast. Sanzo cringes inwardly at the unintentional double entendre in that thought. His arm is still twisted behind him. His fan is on the floor. His crazy monkey of a traveling companion is standing before him trying very hard not to hump his leg. He can smell the baka on his lips. He figures this must be what shell-shocked feels like. Part of him is unbelievably grossed out that Goku kissed him because it's Goku for God's sake.
Of course, there's the other part of him. The part located closer to his center of gravity. The part that Goku is currently staring at as if he's got x-ray vision. Well, this is unexpected.
He blames nagging curiosity and the tent in his pants for what he does next. It's the smell. By now he's terribly accustomed to smelling Goku in and around his things even if he does lack the heightened senses of a youkai. But having it painted on his lips by Goku's fast sliding tongue is the worst kind of tease. It's so close to being inside his mouth. He just has to know. He carefully slips his tongue between his lips.
His eyes fall shut.
And maybe now it makes sense why Goku is always following him around like a puppy and doing everything in his power to get as close to Sanzo as possible. If youkai senses are so much stronger than humans then smelling must be like tasting, must be like this. He opens his eyes again to find Goku staring at his mouth. He lets his own gaze drop to Goku's mouth, which has fallen open and is very nearly drooling. He wants to be amused by Goku's expression, or better yet, mildly disgusted, but instead he finds that he wants to taste that mouth again. That he's starving for it. That he's never been this fucking hungry in his life.
So he sighs resignedly, though it comes out more like a groan, and grabs the monkey by the hair, and slams their mouths together just hard enough to hurt. And gorges himself.
Sanzo's last coherent thought is that Goku is an idiot. Except when he's not.