A/N: This list was given to me by A'mael, and is thus dedicated to here. And there is a 232 word sentence here. I'm fairly sure it's grammatical. Maybe.
He dismissed the sideways looks as coincidences, the hesitant words as awkwardness, the subtle touches as friendship, the unhesitating loyalty as some sort of aberrant caring; the kiss, though, he could not explain away as anything other than what it was.
Though many accused Gojyo of arrogance and impertinence, it was Hakkai who was truly arrogant, for all his modesty and unassuming nature – his was the arrogance of the intellectual, the arrogance of a judge.
Kenren had a habit of walking around bare to the waist in his (official) leisure hours, and the first time Tenpou noticed, he walked straight into a low branch while shamelessly ogling him – he blamed his mishap on the book he was holding in his hands, and was moderately relieved when Kenren believed him.
They all knew that Gojyo was libidinous in the extreme, and that he tended to dislike being denied pleasurable company (to use Hakkai's words); still, when the level of gropage escalated as they spent night after night in those damn mountains in cramped quarters, all three of them felt it necessary to yell at him, and his claim that he was suffering from 'Hakkai-withdrawal' did very little to help his case, even though it was most possibly true.
Hakkai had a callous sort of disregard for his own life, and this was perhaps what Gojyo feared the most.
He had come to crave him, this dark-haired man sleeping soundly half under him, blue eyes closed, serene in sleep; and this was a mistake, this was dangerous, but he was already too deep to even think about letting go.
Gojyo had a sensual quality to him that blazed through anything he said or did; how else, Hakkai wondered, could he ever have found a girl while wearing those horrendous pants?
When Hakkai actually listened to Gojyo's instructions to rest without demur, it was a sure sign that something was wrong.
One mealtime had degenerated into a food-fight, impressive even by their standards; 'They say that eggs make the hair grow better, you know,' Hakkai commented cheerily and unsympathetically when an omelette landed squarely on Gojyo's head; this marked a doubly momentous occasion, being both the first time that Hakkai had experienced the fan firsthand, and the first time that Gojyo had been on the correct end of it.
Goku teased him about it, of course, and even Sanzo deigned to lower the ever-present newspaper, raise that ever-immaculate eyebrow and pitch in with a carefully calculated jab or two, and Hakkai, of course, was laughing madly behind his polite façade, which was cracking at the edges (and Gojyo glowered at him, because it was all Hakkai's fault – how was he to know that Hakkai's idea of a forfeit at a poker tournament would take this form, and since when had Hakkai been into putting make-up on him, and who was the resident perv in this group anyway?); Gojyo lasted until breakfast, when he retreated to his room to sulk until nightfall, when Hakkai took him his dinner – Goku accompanied him, having dutifully promised not to tease, rag, roll about in hysterical laughter or otherwise traumatise Gojyo further; when Hakkai placed the tray before the curtain of red hair through which red eyes peered balefully, he leaned over and whispered something in Gojyo's ear that had him grinning madly and becoming inexplicably cheerful for the rest of the evening despite the eyeliner that Hakkai had artfully spread over his eyes – and the next morning, when Goku saw them both slipping discreetly into a clothing chain for women, he decided that he didn't want to know, not at all, at all, ever, nope, because he wasn't interested in being scarred for life.
Nearly everyone succumbed to the notion that Tenpou was playing wife to Kenren, which suited the Gensui just fine; if they saw him as being weak and submissive, it would be that much easier to catch them off-guard because they were underestimating him.
Kenren often found his eccentric superior sprawled asleep on his desk, a sprawling white form in a sea of leather-bound books, and it was as he was half-carrying, half-dragging Tenpou back to his bed, his nose buried in unkempt brown hair and his arms crossed around a thin, muscled chest, that he realised (with a dim sort of horror) that he was attracted to the man.
On days when the constant strain of driving and the glare of the sun were simply too much and his eyes and head pounded relentlessly, Gojyo, without discussion, gently pressed and massaged his head until the pain receded somewhat, and Hakkai relaxed and let someone else be the healer for once.
The daily grind of paperwork and records was Konzen's domain, not his, and he did his work more so he could monitor events than out of any sense of duty; he was therefore vaguely surprised when he found himself taking on some of Kenren's work as well – because really, the man had no sense of organisation – simply because it pleased him when he did it.
It never failed to irritate him when Hakkai turned his Humour The Children face on him, all sweet and indulgent in the most incredibly patronising way, and with his trademark perversity, he went against anything Hakkai said when he did that; never realising that Hakkai knew, and ensured that it happened only when it suited him.
They never did get around to retrieving the other pair of fuzzy pink handcuffs from Goku and Sanzo, because Hakkai deemed it Unseemly To Ask and Gojyo (who took a full two days to recover from the shock of Goku's request, and a week to stop chortling when Sanzo was the one caught rubbing discreetly at his hands) was Told Not To in Most Uncertain Terms; but that was okay, Gojyo decided a couple of nights later, because Hakkai had travelled widely and read more and was innately creative, and one pair was a lot of fun too.
Kenren could count the number of times he had set foot in the library before knowing Tenpou on one hand, for it had seemed a boring place, full of stale and musty things that held no life; but when he watched him come alive there, listened to animated monologues on some strange philosophy or another, he began to see it as his lover saw it – an island of serenity, and an opening to a world as unlike their own as it was possible to be – and it was then that he began to need it, both the world and the man.
Gojyo mentioned that Sanzo seemed a little more irate recently, and Goku looked at him with a mixture of awe and amusement and said, 'Oh gods, you're turning into Hakkai,' and Gojyo looked absurdly pleased about it for the rest of the evening.
'Gojyo, if you insist on trying to convince me that a pack of cards has four jokers just one more time…'
There was a particular spot at the join of Gojyo's neck and shoulder, perfect for resting his forehead on, and sometimes, when he was safely asleep, it was equally perfect to press his lips against.
Tenpou barely noticed that Kenren was left-handed, but there were always little things that brought it to his notice; the way he fumbled with doorknobs when he was drunk, turning them the wrong way, or the fact that his zippers were always (infuriatingly) turned the wrong way for him to get at easily.
The first time Gojyo received the F5-Hakkai-Glare-O'-Doom (which was normally reserved for when Hakkai was really, really pissed off, like when he was fighting shikigami-users and jackass Western priests and occasionally Sanzo's laundry) was when Goku proudly presented a plate of kiwis he had done something exotic (and in Gojyo's opinion, disgusting) with under Hakkai's tutelage; Gojyo began to remark loudly that there was no way he was going to eat something that looked like tha-, when the drill-bit frown hit him square between the eyes and he was actually left floundering in the middle of an unfinished word.
'That,' Kenren wheezed, burying his flushed face in the pillows, 'was definitely illegal,' and Tenpou's large, satisfied smirk went up a few notches as he replied, 'Of course it's not legal – in twenty-three countries, no less – I checked.'
He looked at the graceful man beside him, matured by age and strength, and wondered just where the lanky teenager who'd picked him up off the road had gone.
Hakkai prided himself on being a rational man; he was a man who always weighed his options carefully and cautiously, who thought with his head and never made any rash decisions; he was a man who tried to understand the merits and demerits of every action; he was a man who considered consequences before he indulged himself…
…he was currently sitting on a computer desk in Houtou Castle, arms and legs wrapped around a redhead who was trying earnestly to undo his shirt with his teeth, and largely succeeding…
Sanzo was right; Gojyo was a bad influence.
Even if he hadn't known, he'd still have placed Hakkai as a schoolteacher; he had the teacher-knows-best attitude down pat, and it was with the greatest of difficulty that Gojyo could stop feeling like a misbehaving five-year-old when that disapproving gaze pinned him.
In years to come, after they returned, people would refer to their travels west as a noble quest, and to them as heroes; and while they knew intellectually that that was probably what it was, the sheer unromance of their journey made it impossible not to laugh at it…
…although, Gojyo said, it became considerably less funny once they stopped with the free drinks and started with the 'Rid us of these nefarious criminals, save us from those treacherous bandits, destroy the evil youkai, oh mighty Sanzo-ikkou,' and Sanzo kept telling the two of them to do the jobs because he was 'busy'.
There was something incongruous about Kenren, non-regulation outfit, cigarette, skull and all, strolling through the ornate and decorous halls of the army offices as if he owned them; incongruous, and to Tenpou, endlessly amusing.
When the mood took him, Tenpou talked endlessly about things that Kenren found incredibly uninteresting, chattering aimlessly to distract himself from the tedium of his work; on the one day he finally snapped and threw a pretty black paperweight at his superior's head, Tenpou caught it in one hand and asked him if he knew that obsidian was produced by volcanic activity – whereupon Kenren gave up.
There was a faint tightness, a hidden tension in Gojyo as the youkai children giggled and pranced around him in innocent delight; hidden beneath the affection, there was pain, need for what he had never had, need for what his heritage ensured he could never have, and even if Gojyo thought nobody saw it, Hakkai was there.
The first time Gojyo made a (edible) delicious meal after (weeks) a bit of training from Hakkai was a momentous occasion for the Sanzo-ikkou; 'You shouldn't be the one doing all the work,' he'd mumbled when Hakkai asked him why he suddenly wanted to learn, and although Gojyo's preening after every successful meal was intolerable, Hakkai didn't really mind.
To Gojyo, who had had no real friends in so long, the simplest things that Hakkai took for granted were new and wonderful; the arch of an eyebrow at an in-joke, the casual 'we' instead of 'I', the little quirks that made what was between them different from what he shared with others.
To the casual observer it seemed that Hakkai was the more compassionate, the gentler of the two – but these lasted only so far; he was the one who gave no quarter once those he held dear were at stake, inflexible and utterly merciless.
Gojyo tried to apologise for leaving the night they returned after defeating Kami-sama, stumbling over words and contradictory emotions; 'It's nothing; I would have done the same,' Hakkai said simply, and they never referred to it again.
'Damn it, Tenpou, when you said I needed to learn restraint I didn't think there were going to be handcuffs involved!'
'Ah, yes, I was wondering when you would get to me,' Hakkai said brightly within Gojyo's arms, eyes crinkled shut, mouth tight against pain and body cold and stiff, and the realisation of the depth of their misunderstanding felt like a slap across Gojyo's face.
Being around Tenpou taught Kenren to watch his words; what was mere semantics to others became terribly important once you were habitually with someone who could bend words until they screamed for mercy.
He knew every tone and every inflection of Gojyo's voice, and the resonance of that deep purr through his ribcage and onto Hakkai's mouth as it wandered over him was his favourite.
He was Sha Gojyo, the irresistible sex god, the beast in bed; the wonder of a generation, the boon to all fangirls, the ultimate star; the supreme and wild bachelor, untamed and free; the man nobody could hold down, the man who couldn't be pegged or disciplined; the man with so many notches on his bedpost that it looked like a bomb victim; the man who had seen more booty than a toilet seat and never stayed the night; and it was absolutely impossible for Goku to have suggested that he seemed to follow Hakkai around like a faithful puppy, because that just wasn'–
'Gojyo,' Hakkai said mildly, 'don't you think you've had enough to drink for tonight?'
And as he found himself getting (staggering) to his feet almost automatically, and Hakkai's smug little smirk (which he tried so hard to hide) as he draped himself all over the slightly shorter man (in an attempt to hide the fact that he wasn't entirely sure how far the floor was), one part of him admitted mournfully (although the rest would rather be put on the rack than even think it) that apparently the great sex beast was rather firmly leashed after all.
In retrospect, Hakkai found it fitting that the first time he (remembered) saw Gojyo, he was upside-down in his perspective; everything about Gojyo seemed distorted somehow, seemed something that didn't fit; Gojyo represented a skewed reality, a strange misshapen world where he had inexplicably survived despite his will, despite his fate, despite his love, despite everything.
The more nervous Gojyo was, the faster he talked, and the faster he talked, the more likely he was to wind up chewing on boot; which amused Hakkai no end, of course.
On an intellectual level, Hakkai was always fascinated by the sheer skill with which Gojyo flirted with women; the suave banter, subtle moves, and the sincere, dangerous charm he radiated – all the more deadly because it was real and strangely honest, how deftly he moved and spoke and did at all the right times until they fell into that snare, charmed and dazzled……
On an intellectual level, yes, but sometimes Hakkai was not intellectual, and he rarely stayed long.
Tenpou had long been accustomed to the unctuous grovelings of his underlings and the poorly-hidden contempt of his superiors; it was refreshing to meet someone who took people exactly as they were, and gave as much or as little respect as the person deserved – and after his initial startlement at being addressed routinely as 'hey', he found himself rather charmed by it.
'Vexed? Seriously, vexed? Hakkai, why can't you talk like normal people even when we're having a fight?!'
He'd thought Tenpou was kidding about the little straw dolls at the time, but when Li Touten was limping discreetly for weeks afterwards, Kenren made two mental notes: the first being to confiscate some of Tenpou's more exotic reading material, and second, to never, ever, ever get on his bad side.
Hakkai had the most incredibly warped sense of humour Gojyo had ever known, and he had a gift for phrasing things just so; he was fairly certain he'd never think of the word humidity without feeling mildly revolted ever again.
It was perhaps typical of them that the first thing Gojyo did when they finally made it back to their little house was sling his jacket over the bed and flop down on it, while Hakkai whisked out a broom from his packs and began to dust.
He had always known that Hakkai was possessed of a badly-hidden temper and a catty sort of vengefulness for minor wrongs, but the third time he stepped out of bed hung-over and yelped as his feet plunged into a bucket of cold water that had 'accidentally' been left there by his psychotic roommate, he decided reluctantly that maybe it really was simpler to just take the couch when he came home drunk after all.
He could see why Goku called Sanzo his sun, that glowing mane of hair did evoke that image – which led him to wonder what he could call Hakkai; he regretfully discarded chocolate and emeralds, the one too soft and the other too lifeless, before deciding that Hakkai was Hakkai and the names made no difference anyway.
Ridiculously long A/N: regarding number 46: I know that voodoo is a LOT more complex than sticking pins in things, but hey, literary license. I will leave it to your imagination where the pins were, but considering it was Kenren in charge of the pins there are limited locations imaginable 47 is a reference to Against the Stream. Or Gunlock. Points to those who find the reference to Sanzolocks. #21 (knob) – the comment is true – I have trouble with doorknobs and locks myself (yes, I'm left-handed). #25 Merit kind of references Alphabets, the E chapter, in case you want to know the background (and what happened after). Not trying to plug, but it just…happened.
And so…what are the faves?