Lacking in Manners
A Saiyuki Reload humor fic
A/N: This story doesn't really fit anywhere in the canon timeline. It also has some parts (okay, make that many parts) that are intentionally OOC. Please don't think too hard about either of those things as you're reading--it's just a silly humor fic, after all. Contains minor spoilers for various segments of the 'Even a Worm' story arc. -V.
DISCLAIMER: Much as I would like nothing better than to someday be able to lay sole claim to Hakkai, I have to admit that he really isn't mine (the same goes for the rest of the boys and for Jeep). Hazel isn't mine either...and as far as I'm concerned, Minekura-sensei is quite welcome to keep him.
They met up by chance, in the crowded central market square of the town.
If Cho Hakkai had been paying more attention to his surroundings at the time, he might have avoided the whole incident entirely. Unfortunately for him, he was distracted. He had just finished making arrangements to stop by the market later with the Jeep to pick up two weeks worth of groceries and a quadruple order of meat buns, when he took a step back from a vendor's stall and bumped into somebody by accident.
"I'm terribly sorry," he started to say as he turned. "That was my..." the rest of the apology died on his lips, as he found himself looking down slightly into a pair of familiar pale blue eyes. Gojyo must be rubbing off on him, because a rather undignified swear word was the first coherent response to go through his mind.
"Well, I do declare! It's Mister Spectacles!" Hazel Grosse said, feigning delight. "Imagine running into y'all here, of all places. Who would have expected that!" He looked around ostensibly as if searching for other familiar faces in the crowd. "I don't see any of your little friends about. Don't tell me those companions of yours would ever think of leavin' you behind?"
Hakkai masked his irritation with a pleasant smile as he slipped Sanzo's Gold Card back into his pocket. "Why, no. They all had other business to attend to, and I thought I'd run some errands while they were out." He didn't need to look around to note that Hazel's hulking shadow was conspicuously absent. "It appears that you're missing your traveling companion, also. Is Gato-san feeling all right?"
"Gato doesn't get sick," Hazel said, with an air of matter-of-fact superiority. ...As if it was the keenest thing in the world to have a protector who didn't have any bodily needs, and everyone around him should be jealous that they didn't have one. He gave Hakkai a sideways glance. "I hope y'all aren't having problems with your hearin', since I'm almost certain that I mentioned that before."
"My hearing is fine, thank you for asking." Hakkai was sorely tempted to add that he often tuned out white noise, but he bit his tongue for the sake of propriety. "I have to admit that I'm surprised to see you here in the market, Hazel-san," he said smoothly instead. "I would have thought that you would have had access to room service in your hotel."
"But of course!" Hazel replied with a sunny smile. "All one has to do is look around and count the number of pairs of yellow eyes to know that I'm somethin' of a celebrity here. Gato and I been put up free-of-charge at the best hotel in town. Where did you mention y'all were stayin'?"
"I didn't," Hakkai said easily, "...And if it's all the same to you, I think I'd prefer to keep it that way."
"Mercy. Still clingin' to that persecution complex, I see. I told y'all that I don't have any control over the folks I've revived. If y'all get attacked it's your fault and not mine." He dusted some imaginary lint off the front of his black coat. "No, I'm here in the market on a mission. Seems like my trusty white gloves got a little ole' speck of blood on them in our last encounter with youkai. I'm lookin' for a replacement pair now."
"Good luck with that," Hakkai said pleasantly, and turned to take his leave.
"Now wait up just a second there, Mister Spectacles. There's no need to be in such an all-fired rush. It occurs to me I've got somethin' to ask you..."
Hakkai stopped. Turned to face him again. Tried not to glare, with moderate success. "Pardon me, I don't want to seem rude," he said, letting a distinctly rude note creep into his tone of voice. "But I do, in fact, have a name. It's a rather nice name that I've become quite fond of, and I'd appreciate it if you'd use it from time to time."
Hazel affected a hurt look. "But it's a cute little ole' nickname. And it fits you. Plus, you have to admit that it's better than Four-eyes." He simpered slyly. "Dear me, that would be Three-eyes in your case, I suppose."
"Ah hah hah. Right." Hakkai could feel the muscles of his face fix in that particular oh-so-mild-expression that his usual traveling companions had come to know and dread. "No, thank you. Just plain ole' Hakkai would be quite satisfactory."
Hazel gave a careless shrug. "Well, if it bothers y'all that much...honestly, it's not worth gettin' all bent outta shape." He waved his hand, dismissing the subject entirely. "Now then, what I was meanin' to ask about was that lovely little vehicle y'all use. Am I under the correct assumption that the Jeep belongs to you?"
It did not escape Hakkai's notice that Hazel had failed to use any sort of name at all to address the question. It was surely intended to irritate, and so Hakkai purposefully chose to ignore the slight.
"Yes. That's correct," he replied.
"It truly is a mighty fine vehicle, and handy how y'all never have to worry about findin' a parkin' space, since it turns into a portable little dragon and all. I was wonderin' how much a handy little pet like that might cost."
Hakkai looked at him levelly, remaining outwardly composed, but inwardly fighting a rising temper at the implications of Hazel's statement. Aside from the fact that Jeep was a friend, and that Sanzo would kill him if anything ever happened to their mode of transportation...Jeep had been entrusted to him by someone very close to his heart, and he would never, ever consider parting with the little dragon voluntarily. Not for any money in the world, and never in a million years to someone like Hazel. "Jeep. Is not. For sale."
"Oh dear me, I do understand that. This is purely a question asked out of sheer curiosity. Y'all have places to go, just like we do. It's only reasonable that y'all would be reluctant to part with the vehicle." Pale blue eyes glittered under the brim of the broad black hat. "Of course, practicality aside, it must be nice to own such an eye-catching status symbol. Especially when, apart from the leader of your little expedition, y'all have no money at all."
Hakkai knew, he knew that he should leave at that point. The sensible part of his mind informed him that if he did not stop talking to Hazel immediately and go back to the hotel where he was staying, that his blood pressure would quite likely go through the roof and he would do something he might later regret.
Somehow, that sensible voice was growing fainter by the moment. He found that he just couldn't make himself walk away. Hakkai had been provoked by this man one time too many. Make that about twenty times too many. Enough was enough, he decided. "Well, in that case, I can definitely understand your interest in Jeep," he said placidly. "Walking from place to place or taking public transportation all the time must be getting tiresome."
"Oh, it doesn't often come down to that. Usually after I've raised a few folks with my magic, there are more than enough volunteers willin' to provide transportation in any direction that I might wish to go."
"Any direction?" Hakkai kept his tone light and conversational. "How interesting, then, that you seem to wind up in the same places over and over. I would have thought you'd want to take your little traveling snake-oil show somewhere else. Perhaps you've finally given up trying to save the huddled civilian masses from the looming youkai menace. Nowadays you seem more focused on trailing after Sanzo like a groupie."
Hazel's expression twitched for a millisecond in what Hakkai guessed was genuine surprise. Then Hazel gave him a disapproving look out of the corner of his eye. "You, sir, have been downright uncivil to me ever since the day we first met," he announced. "I am most certainly not a groupie, and I take exception to being called some sort of charlatan. Those thoughtless words have hurt my feelings, and I think I deserve an apology."
"Did I say that?" Hakkai said blandly. "Oh, I'm sorry. As a general rule, it isn't possible to hurt something that doesn't exist. Please rest assured that I'll put more thought into my words in the future."
Hazel's face went carefully blank. Hakkai suspected that he might be struggling with his temper the same way Hakkai was at the moment--but he had no real way to tell. Then Hazel laughed. "I do declare, you really are such a kidder. I was wondering why Sanzo-han kept y'all around. Must be the entertainment value, I swear."
"Oh, I don't know about that." Now that Hakkai was committed, he wasn't about to let Hazel off the hook so easily. "We can also be pretty handy when it comes to disposing of occasional bits of trash."
Hazel's smile didn't waver, but his eyes developed a calculating look. "It's always best to be efficient, when disposing of garbage. If one just lets things go without attending to them right away, there starts to be all manner of terrible smells."
Even though their voices were hardly straying above a normal, conversational level, Hakkai was aware that the people close enough to overhear their words were glancing at them and starting to edge farther away. A small space was forming around them, and the normal market noise in the area began to trail off into an expectant hush.
"I do feel compelled to mention," Hazel said suavely, "That anyone who crosses me, no matter what breed they happen to be, is takin' their life in their hands."
"Thanks for the warning," Hakkai said, in an equally unruffled tone. "It's very sweet of you to be concerned. ...And here I thought that you didn't care about anyone's life except your own."
"Now that's simply not true," Hazel stated. "Gato's life is very important to me. That's why I keep bringin' him back, you see."
"Yes, and I have to admit that I'm impressed. It's very creative to be using other people's souls for reviving humans. Reanimating the dead with plain old lightning is so passé."
"I'm aware of the book you're referrin' to," Hazel said coolly, "And I'd appreciated it if you didn't insult Gato like that."
"I have the highest esteem for your undead servant," Hakkai returned. "It's the company he's been keeping that's the problem."
Hazel looked scandalized. "Gato most certainly is not undead. He has a perfectly functional, workin' soul, stolen fair and square from a youkai who didn't need it any more. Please don't compare him to a common run-of-the-mill zombie." Pale blue eyes narrowed quite suddenly with a distinctly malicious gleam. "...Besides, it's the pot calling the kettle, I would say. Seems I heard a rumor that about four years back y'all were the one who died and was reborn with a shiny new youkai soul of your own."
The amicable smile Hakkai had been wearing suddenly froze in place on his face. "Ah. Ah ha ha ha hah. So you heard about that somehow, did you?"
Hazel smirked and gave a careless wave of his hand. "Of course. You shouldn't look so surprised. I have some most excellent sources."
"I'll just bet. Would that be the same source who sicced you on Goku, perhaps?"
Hazel's expression stayed smooth, but his voice was becoming more clipped he spoke. "I'll thank you not to think of me as some kind of attack dog. I don't follow anybody's orders but my own."
"Nobody likes to admit to being manipulated. It's especially a problem for arrogant, self-important people with vastly over-inflated egos."
That hit. The platinum-haired man drew in an irritated breath. "You, sir, have an over-inflated opinion of your own IQ. ...And a lousy sense of direction; otherwise y'all would have gotten to your destination by now."
Hakkai's eyes narrowed dangerously. He was quite ready to let things get personal. "Your accent's fake. And you fight like a girl."
Hazel growled. As furious as Hakkai himself felt right now, it was gratifying to note that he had gotten under the other man's skin. "How positively intriguin' that you should mention somethin' like that. At least I'm not actin' like a cook, maid, and nanny to a group of bachelor males."
"Oh, how original. Like I haven't heard that one before. No, of course you wouldn't, since it's obvious that you believe in slavery to get your dirty work done instead."
Pale blue eyes flashed as Hazel abruptly dropped all pretense at politeness. "You, sir, are a snide, vindictive, freeloading wolf-in-sheep's-clothing."
"And you are a pseudo-religious, morally-corrupt, dandified snake."
They both glowered at each other. Imaginary lightning snapped and crackled in the distance between them. Outside the widening ring of onlookers, a small crowd was gathering, drawn by the activity. Rather than distracting the participants of the argument, the presence of an audience appeared to make things worse. The noise from the verbal showdown continued to increase in volume by the second.
It was the presence of the crowd that drew the rest of the Sanzo-ikkou from around the market. Goku arrived first, pushing his way to the front of the bystanders, to stop wide-eyed and staring at the two figures who were now yelling at the tops of their lungs. It took a few moments before he dared to speak up. Hakkai in a bad mood was scary.
"Uh, Hakkai?" he said hesitantly at last.
His faltering attempt to interrupt the argument had absolutely no effect at all. The yelling continued unabated.
"Hey, Hakkai!" Gojyo turned up in the crowd beside Goku. "Knock it off, man. You're making a scene!"
His words were also ignored.
The name was delivered in a perfectly normal tone of voice, and it was a wonder that it was even heard over the din. However, the effect was immediate. As if they were mirror images, Hakkai and Hazel both broke off mid-insult and swung around to face the speaker. One began dusting off his jacket front, the other straightening his sleeves, both pasting cheerful smiles on their faces.
"Why, hello Sanzo," Hakkai said brightly. "So nice to see you. Did you finish your business in the market already?"
"Oh, it's Sanzo-han!" Hazel exclaimed. "How very fortuitous. I was hopin' to run into you today!"
Sanzo had his arms crossed over his chest, and was looking less than pleased. "Just what the hell do you think you're doing?" he snapped.
Like children caught out at some prank, the two of them started to offer excuses in unison. After about three seconds, Sanzo interrupted, and firmly told them to shut up. "Never mind. You're idiots, the both of you. If your little public disturbance is quite finished, it's time to get back to the hotel."
Knowing better than to press the issue at this point, Hakkai did his best to look contrite.
With the excitement over, the crowd began to disperse. The last remaining onlookers fell back before Sanzo as he began walking deliberately across the market.
Hazel was quick to follow, settling into step beside him without being asked. "Sanzo-han, since we seem to be stayin' in the same town and all, I was thinkin'..."
"I wasn't talking to you," Sanzo said flatly. "Get lost."
"Mercy. So anti-social. Y'all didn't even get the chance to hear what I was gonna say..."
All it took was a sideways glance of flashing violet eyes. In the face of the monk's wrath, Hazel immediately stumbled to a halt, looking thwarted. As he passed Hazel, Hakkai smirked. He could almost swear he heard the sound of the other man grinding his teeth.
Maybe Sanzo could, too. "Hakkai," he said, without turning around.
"Enough already. Quit fucking around and behave."