A Gentle Suggestion

They'd stopped for a week in a large town, and that was where the trouble started.

On the first day, Hakkai read a book.

This was nothing unusual (in fact, it took them nearly a week to find out that it was the first day, and by then it was All Over Bar The Shouting – and there was a lot of that); Hakkai tended to gravitate predictably and regularly to the bookshelf or library in every town they visited, and pulling him out of those boring philosophies was nearly impossible, Goku thought. He liked the books on military strategy better; he could understand those, and when he managed to impress Hakkai with a particularly smart comment he could rely on getting a treat at the next meal. So he sidled up to Hakkai and asked him what he was reading.

Hakkai jumped and slammed the book closed rather faster than he needed to and told him that it was just a book on philosophy and psychology, nothing Goku would find really interesting.

Goku agreed, and went out to see if he could ruin another of Gojyo's skirt-chasing attempts. He forgot about the book even before the first headlock/shin-kicking competition.

On the second day, Gojyo didn't go out at all.

This was something unusual – in a place like this, the redhead was normally out after unsuspecting prey before evening. Evening, and then dusk, and night, and Gojyo was still playing cards and chatting with Hakkai as if he didn't have an agenda at all. Sanzo repressed a snort at the idea that Gojyo might finally have grown a brain. Hakkai seemed to notice this, interpreted the snort with his near-telepathic skill and inquired with a rather creepy smile whether Gojyo wasn't seeking his usual company. Gojyo looked vaguely surprised and said no, he wasn't in the mood for that tonight. The creepy smile became even wider – it even began to freak Sanzo out (albeit quietly: Sanzo never admitted that Hakkai had the ability to freak him out) but when he won the next few games with amazingly improbable hands, Sanzo figured that was that and went to bed. Hakkai in a Mood was not something he was willing or prepared to face.

On the third day, Gojyo noticed that Goku had skipped breakfast.

Since this was an omen roughly Up There with sulphur, brimstone and a rain of frogs, the redhead went immediately to Goku's room, expecting to find either a dead saru or a ransom note. In the event, there was neither, only Goku and Hakkai calmly learning basic healing together. When he mentioned that Goku hadn't eaten, Hakkai smiled and offered to make some for Goku. He waved it off, saying he'd eaten the complimentary breakfast earlier. Gojyo said, still worried, that the complimentary breakfast was just about enough for him, which meant Goku would need at least six of them. Goku snapped that he could take care of himself, he was fine, and wasn't Gojyo always telling him he ate too much anyway? At which point Hakkai began discussing the causes and symptoms of diarrhoea, and Gojyo left, because really, there were things about the human body that he didn't want to know. Not at all at all.

But as it turned out, he didn't have to worry, because at dinner Goku ate half the menu and still had enough room to get whacked on the head by Sanzo for stealing from his plate.

On the fourth day, Sanzo stopped smoking.

He did this periodically, and Goku (who had had no appetite for breakfast yet again, and was in a snarky mood) thought it was just to Prove He Could, that not even nicotine had power over Genjyo Sanzo, he of Iron Will and Great Strength despite his girly shoes. But when Sanzo stopped smoking, he usually threw all the packs out the day before (including Gojyo's, which usually caused the kappa no end of grief), and ensured in other ways that he was immune to temptation. Also, a niccing Sanzo was a creature that even Kougaiji's summons beast would have hesitated to go up against hand-to-errr, claw?

But this Sanzo was just the same as ever; his fury levels and the use of the fan were quite normal. Goku had a sneaking suspicion that Sanzo hadn't really intended to quit smoking that day; twice, he caught the blond staring at the pack of untouched Marlboros with a mildly perplexed expression, as if he didn't quite know what he was doing or why.

All day, he didn't smoke a single cigarette. Gojyo had apparently noticed too, and the two of them spent the evening lurking in corners, out of gunshot and fanshot range, waiting for the inevitable explosion of ire. It never came. Instead, Sanzo and Hakkai played eight games of Scrabble. The healer seemed completely unaware of any abnormal behaviour on Sanzo's part as he played with a gentle smile on his face. Goku didn't know whether he was brave or suicidal. But by some miracle, Hakkai escaped intact. Even Sanzo looked puzzled by that, and vaguely irritated by the fact that he wasn't irritated.

On the fifth day, Hakkai had himself a little holiday.

At about nine in the morning, he announced that he was going to take be going out, in that way of his that said You May Argue, But Please Don't Imagine That It Has Any Effect On The Result Whatsoever. He then proceeded to vanish completely for the rest of the day, returning late that evening with a bagful of books, a pretty dark-green scarf and massage oils for migraines from a nearby (expensive) spa, and receipts for a full-body treatment, which he gave to Sanzo before retiring, looking quite pleased with himself.

While he was gone, Sanzo continued to broodingly contemplate his cigarettes, Gojyo went into a stupendous sulk that he hadn't been invited to the spa, and Goku used the opportunity to nick the Gold Card and visit a few local restaurants while the other two moped in the hotel room (interestingly, he noted, Gojyo hadn't gone out at all the last four days).

On the sixth day, Gojyo discovered the book.

Being the tactlessly blunt person he was, he immediately marched off to the common room where Hakkai was reading to demand what the hell he was doing with a book called Practical Hypnosis – the Three-Day Crash Course. Hakkai raised a long brown eyebrow and said why, he was reading it, of course, and that it was really interesting to see the results when it was combined with ki techniques. At which point Sanzo, being slightly quicker on the uptake, fixed Hakkai with an F6 glare and asked him point-blank whether he had anything to do with Sanzo's sudden lack of interest in cigarettes.

Things deteriorated rather rapidly after that.

Goku, it seemed, was the only one who found the idea even a little amusing. When he remarked on this, he was promptly turned on by Gojyo, who said that he was only finding this funny because Hakkai hadn't been doing anything to him. Hakkai protested mildly, saying that that wasn't quite true, and could they be a little more mature about it, it was just a joke, after all. Gojyo and Sanzo roared denial in unison (and for once, they didn't even glare at each other for daring to agree). Goku began to giggle.

The whole thing took about two hours; Hakkai remained politely po-faced and nodded and agreed and accepted at all the right moments with penitence, regret and apology, which was pretty much hooey considering how his eyes were sparkling with mischief.

When they had both screamed themselves hoarse, Hakkai politely excused himself and went back to his room. Sanzo eyed the room, which he had been sharing with Hakkai, and then shrugged and shoved Goku in there instead, muttering something about manipulative treacherous snakes. Hakkai, whose ears had only become sharper since his transformation (in more ways than one), called out sweetly that he was almost to the end of the book and he really would need some time off the next day if he was to figure out how to undo the suggestions, and maybe an extra day of holiday as well, since he thought he could feel a migraine coming on. Sanzo snarled like something large and angry in a zoo being poked by a little girl with a long stick and said he could have it. Hakkai thanked him courteously and a deathly silence fell.

On the seventh day, they rested.

Hakkai, it seemed, did most of his reading in the spa. Sanzo snarled again, but made little comment.

Gojyo sat in what had been his and Goku's room, currently occupied by Sanzo. The priest looked progressively irritated by the smoke that was forming a large cloud around Gojyo, and finally roared at him to go away. Whereupon Gojyo went for a walk in the park, cursing Hakkai for jinxing him and himself for not having any hobbies that could safely be pursued in the daytime.

Goku did most of the 'housework', which he certainly hadn't planned on, and wondered bitterly why he'd found the whole hypnosis thing so rollickingly funny the day before.

Sanzo threw all his cigarettes in the fire in his room, which set off the sprinklers. Needless to say, he wasn't pleased that he had to spend the rest of the day in the sun waiting for the sutra to dry out.

Hakkai spent most of the previous night undoing the suggestions.

Goku had gone right down and had his first decent breakfast in a week, never mind it was nine o'clock at night. He felt he deserved it.

A miasma of cigarette smoke surrounded Sanzo, who looked more contented than he had in years.

Oddly enough, Gojyo didn't go out that night either.

Even Hakkai looked puzzled.

On the eighth day, Gojyo kissed Hakkai.

They looked equally surprised by his action, as did Sanzo and Goku, who had been inadvertent (and largely unwilling) witnesses. Sanzo stalked out of the room with Goku in tow, Sanzo mumbling about idiot perverts, Goku making appropriate noises of disgust. Once out the door, they both waited to hear what would happen.

Inside, Hakkai courteously inquired whether that was merely a side-effect of frustration caused by his suggestion, or whether Gojyo had something more in mind.

Gojyo responded that hell yeah, he was pissed and in serious need of getting laid, but this was something different, and it was all Hakkai's fault anyway.

There was a suspicious pause, after which Hakkai asked whether Gojyo believed that this was another of Hakkai's suggestions.

Gojyo made a flip remark.

Hakkai said something in a low, freezing tone.

Goku couldn't catch the words, but whatever they were, they seemed to have a sobering effect on Gojyo, who then said that maybe Hakkai thought about things too much, and he'd been trying to work up the nerve for a while now.

Hakkai laughed, sincerely, and agreed that maybe he did think too much, but someone had to in this particular group since the three of them wouldn't even know to tie their own shoelaces if it weren't for him.

Gojyo agreed on principle, but noted that only Goku had shoelaces to tie anyway.

There was another silence, this rather different from the previous one, and then Sanzo dragged Goku away by his ear, saying that this wasn't their business.

Goku retorted that Sanzo was listening too, and received a fan to the head for his pains.

On the ninth day, they moved on.

Goku asked whether Hakkai could teach him the hypnosis technique he was using. Hakkai began to agree before Sanzo hit them both with the fan and declared that the next time he even heard the word hypnosis he would have Hakkai sutraed, never mind that he was the only one who could drive without getting them all killed. He then proceeded to hit Gojyo for good measure, which understandably annoyed the redhead and resulted in a protracted quarrel, punctuated by bullets, that lasted nearly an hour.

All in all, Goku decided, it had been a rather strange holiday.

A/N: Inspired by EoS' "Liturgy" in which she suggests that Hakkai knows hypnosis. I simply couldn't resist. He's so squee-worthily evil.