Hi, I'm Verity Niwa (or Ver-chan) bringing you the next chapter. This is my first fic attempt, so thankyou to those who kicked my lazy ass into action! You know who you are! ;)

WARNING: rated T for language (not for the little kiddies. Though little kiddies shouldn't really read Saiyuki anyway.)

Hakkai sighed as he flipped through the neat stack of sheets, fingers absent-mindedly tracing over the fabric. Something with a high thread count, right size for the cot, maybe a soothing shade of pink or blue…

His emerald eyes widened slightly and a blush darkened his normally pale face as he realised that he had been sorting through a pile of, not baby-sized blankets, but ladies' summer dresses. And judging from the looks he was getting from the young shop assistant, for quite a prolonged amount of time. Oh dear.

"May I help you, sir?"

Feel like babysitting?

"Um, sir?" She quirked an eyebrow and glanced worriedly at him with large blue eyes.

Apparently not.

"No, but thankyou for the offer of help, miss." She didn't look very reassured, but he left the store anyway. After all, he shouldn't bother shopping if he wasn't going to give it the required amount of attention. Lack of sleep had drained him of energy, and no matter how much thought he gave it, he still couldn't work out a solution.

Gojyo was stuck with a child, and while he had grown quite fond of Mei (and she of a certain incurably irate monk, through a strange twist that not even he could fathom), the situation, particularly with the addition of Mei's adolescent mother, had not improved.

In fact, he was quite sure that if the baby was left solely in the care of Gojyo, Sanzo and Goku, it wouldn't have survived very long. To be honest, he had hoped that his role of mothering loud, argumentative and rather smelly individuals incapable of meeting his personal sanitary requirements would have ended after their journey to and from India.

But it seemed that some sadistic, higher being with a sick sense of humour was taking pleasure from ensuring their lives were far from normal.

(Cue amused chuckle from certain goddess of questionable gender lazily watching lily pond.)

("Indeed, Tenpou.")

If Hakkai had have been paying his usual amount of attention to his surroundings, he may have noticed glances directed at him from those in the little town who knew both Gojyo and himself, ranging from the parents of his students at the local kindergarten, to regulars at the bar. But as it turned out, he was much too enveloped in his thoughts about his current situation to notice, or actually care.


Damn thing. From the moment he met Hakkai, to that God-awful trip to India and back, every time he brought a chick back home and Hakkai left to give them some privacy (always coming up with some polite excuse of course, like laundry or some other homey shit), he just couldn't get a break.

Hakkai didn't help, civil bastard. His constant smiling just made it worse!

Sure, it made him feel good occasionally, but it was always Hakkai who really stirred up certain emotions and thoughts he just couldn't seem to clear.

As much as he tried to reassure himself that it was just because he was living with the other man that it would surface sometimes, he didn't feel any better about it. He was Sha Gojyo! A ladies man, a player. He was used to leaving women and not feeling bad, but with Hakkai it became more personal. He couldn't just leave, say it didn't matter.

He still felt bad about hassling Hakkai.

Fucking conscience!

Gojyo slumped further into the couch. Hakkai was going to so much trouble, feeding, cleaning and buying stuff for the baby. The mother's sister had left earlier, and after getting her panties in a twist and spouting crap about he, Gojyo, being the father.

Damn, he'd always known blondes were too much trouble to be worth it, so why was it that he got dumped with a baby who wasn't even his? Some traveller screws a pubescent chick and he gets the blame!


He glanced down at his leg only to see Mei, who had been gurgling away on the rug with one of the many toys Hakkai had purchased for her (she seemed to have a thing for a teddy bear almost the exact shade of Sanzo's hair… creepy) with a death grip on his pant leg.

He didn't know babies' eyes could be so huge, or such a pretty shade of red.

Heh, just like mine, he thought. Only the size of dinner plates. And getting suspiciously wet. Was her lip all trembly like that before? Is that normal?

Oh, shit.

Hakkai looked up, suddenly alert. He'd left Gojyo with Mei for almost an hour, and was planning to head back, but for a second, he felt a sort of tug of panic in his gut somewhere, almost close to a bad feeling.

Putting it aside, the green eyed man decided to make one last trip, this time to the local market, in order to make purchases necessary unless they wanted to have stale ramen again.

During his time with Gojyo, he had learnt a great deal, but he deemed one lesson particularly important.

Eating Gojyo's cooking, stale ramen from Gojyo's cupboard (or really anything from Gojyo's cupboard that Hakkai hadn't placed there, because that meant it had probably been there since BEFORE they left on their journey) was highly unadvisable.

Turning the corner into the market, Hakkai was glad he had taken the time to grab a coffee in order to wake himself up a bit. The usual bustle of townspeople made their way from stall to stall, and Hakkai smiled as he spotted a meat bun stand. Sanzo and Goku had returned to the temple, but he'd get some in case they stopped by again. Then again, that could be quite some time, judging from the state of Sanzo's robes before he'd washed them. Goku had been just a little too enthusiastic with Mei. The monk had then become very enthusiastic with the harisen. To put it mildly.

Pulling a shopping list from his pocket, Hakkai made his way to the vegetable stand, his slender figure slipping easily through the clumps of people.

Funny, he thought. Do I have something on my face? He smiled politely at the group of staring men, surreptitiously running a hand over his cheek. Nothing… how strange.

The man glanced up at Hakkai before busying himself with a box of fruit.

"Good morning, I'll have a bag of carrots, two lettuces, and- oh! You have apples, I can stew those for Mei, ok, and half a dozen apples. I must say, your produce looks fantastic!"

No reply. Hakkai rearranged his monocle, smiling self-consciously.

The one-sided conversation was interrupted, however, by a familiar high pitched wail, followed shortly by-

"I didn't do anything, I swear! She just started bawling, and she won't friggin' stop!"

Hakkai turned to see the rather unusual sight of Gojyo tearing through the crowd, a panicked expression on his face and holding a screaming Mei at arm's length.

"Please excuse me," Hakkai apologised to the still silent stall-owner, and took Mei from Gojyo, berating him in between making consoling noises to quieten the infant.

"Shh, shh, you're safe now, it's alright- Gojyo, she's not a wild animal. She needs some form of affection when she's upset, just cradle her in your arms, like this-"

Hakkai moved closer to Gojyo in order to avoid being bumped by the many nearby people, and gently tipped Mei into his open arms. For the brief period of time that it took Gojyo to get used to the position, Hakkai kept his arms around both Mei and partially Gojyo, before slowly stepping back.

The noise lessened instantly, to a soft murmur.

"Damn…" Gojyo looked up, grinning at Hakkai.

"See? You're a natural," Hakkai smiled.

The moment was interrupted, however, by a cough from the vendor. Looking around, the pair realised that practically everyone was staring at them, from children pointing and tugging to their embarrassed parents.

"Shh, honey, don't point, come along now-"

Hakkai looked at his friend.

"That's been happening quite a lot recently, I just can't imagine why, though, can you?"

Gojyo, however, wasn't looking at him.

"Gojyo?" The voice remained calm and polite, but Hakkai had sensed that Gojyo knew something that he wasn't keen on sharing.

"Uh, 'Kai, you know what Mei's aunt said when she came over…"

"Well, she was talking very fast, I'm afraid I didn't catch all of the wild accusations she threw at you, no."

Gojyo was… no, was he actually blushing?

"Shit," The redhead muttered, returning Mei to the former foot-length position.

'Well, we live together… and we get a baby, and we both take care of her…"

He swallowed heavily.

"I think some people… well, everyone, really, including that crazy auntie lady…"

Hakkai frowned. He was still failing to see relevance.

"Well, oh fuck, they think that… you and me, you know… are…together…with a baby…" the man trailed off.

Hakkai swallowed heavily.

Oh. Oh…

Oh dear.

Nice, Ver-chan! I love how this story keeps evolving.

Aaaaand, next up on the roster, Shinigami's Wrath ! And I actually know her too! This started out with people I know, and now there are people I know AGAIN! Woots!

Thanks all of you, again, for your interest!