Ug. It's been a while, anyway – enjoy the next chapter. Thanks for reading and reviewing!

Chapter 3

"I know it's you, Hakkai." Sanzo snorted as he sat on the bed with his head against the wall. He had run out of cigarettes a few hours ago and had sent Goku out to get more just a moment earlier. The boy still wasn't back yet and that was just fine with him. Sanzo had been spending quite a bit of his time concentrating on the sounds around him, so the soft footsteps and click of the door was a sure sign he had a guest. "And I don't need to see you to know the look on your face. It's obvious it's you. Gojyo wouldn't visit and the monkey can't shut up."

Hakkai smiled genuinely as he approached the age-worn bed where the monk was scrunched in the corner. They had been checked into the inn for two days now and none of their moods had lifted much since. The demon found himself dropping onto the bed next to Sanzo and nearly sighed when the blonde stiffened. Sanzo would never admit it, but Hakkai knew he was having issues adjusting to his new handicap.

However, though Sanzo's eyes may not work anymore, Hakkai couldn't help but think the new color was pretty. The milky color was soothing and deep, almost an all-knowing sort of feeling. There was depth behind his eyes that was more knowledgeable than the previous intimidation his violet eyes had shown so well. Hakkai liked to think it represented reaching nirvana; they had seen everything and so therefore no longer need to see anything.

Hakkai shook his head and laughed to himself at his own thoughts; well at least he laughed in his head. Sanzo needed to get out like the others. Gojyo had been occupying himself with booze and women as he finally figured out that having a disability was a turn on for some ladies. They thought his lack of hearing was 'cute' and were having fun writing him notes and playing charades. Heck, they even found his ever decreasing control of his vocal volume and lisp positively darling. Needless to say, he was making the most of his new situation. Hakkai was doing his best not to throttle the man.

Goku, on the other hand, was doing his best to cope by catering to Sanzo's every whim be it cruel or otherwise. The boy even did so much as to sleep outside the door in the hall when Sanzo yelled at him to get out. He was too upset to have gone to Hakkai and Gojyo's room. The demon looked at his hands as he remembered walking by the room to see the young body sleeping soundly on the floor; he looked like he was twelve again at the temple. The older demon was considering taking back his offer to switch with Goku so the boy could stay with Sanzo. Perhaps some time apart would do them both good. While it made Hakkai feel bad for Goku, at the same time he thought it was a bit nostalgic to think of Goku in his younger days. However, at the moment, Goku was trying to find the right brand of cigarettes and a newspaper.

Hakkai, well, he was having similar issues as Sanzo. The only thing the past few days have taught him, is that his voice was his best defense. A change in intonation, a certain inflection here or there and people got the point quickly no matter what it was he said. Writing things down did not create the same effect. It took him nearly twenty minutes to get a few of the locals to leave him alone when they tried soliciting him goods. And if that wasn't bad enough, he could tell Sanzo was suffering. The man hadn't even left his room for two days. Whether or not it had to do with his lack of coordination as of late, the demon wasn't sure. Hakkai wanted to tell him that things would be okay, and that he shouldn't worry. Or even just tell him that he was making breakfast and ask if Sanzo wanted coffee.

But he couldn't.

With Sanzo, he couldn't even write things down for him to read. Hakkai looked at Sanzo's hand gripping the sheets tightly next to him. The priest was being silent, but Hakkai could tell that his brain must be whirling. This silence had to be making him uncomfortable, if not the proximity between the two of them. Sanzo was never one for physical contact; Hakkai wondered how long it would be before Sanzo physically moved away. But, he could worry about Sanzo's issues with the corporal distance of his peers later. Currently, Hakkai was tempted to just buy a cane and just shove it in the blonde's hands and leave it at that so the man would at least come join them at breakfast. Surely Hakkai wouldn't have to explain a cane.

"Is there a reason you're sitting in here?" Sanzo growled out. Hakkai couldn't talk to him, and even if he could Sanzo did not want to talk to him. The man had no reason for being there and it was pissing Sanzo off. Knowing full well Hakkai couldn't answer, Sanzo continued. "Shouldn't you be off babysitting the water sprite?"

Hakkai frowned. Now Sanzo was just being spiteful. Personally, Hakkai thought Sanzo should be lucky it really was Hakkai here to see him and not some other intruder. The fact they had yet to see another demon attack was a blessing in itself. Hakkai was tempted to just give the man what he wanted and leave to allow Sanzo to sulk. However, the priest wasn't the only one in a spiteful mood. Instead, Hakkai pulled his legs up on the bed and laid down full length with his head nestled just by Sanzo's thigh. Sanzo cursed to himself and Hakkai smiled. He should have just thrown his inhibitions to hell and put his head on the man's thigh.

Sanzo was mentally stewing over the nerve of his demon companion when he heard the door busting open with enough force to have the doorknob clatter against the wall. There was a crinkling of paper among the heavy clunking footsteps. "Goku."

"Hi Sanzo! Oh, Hakkai's with you." Goku noticed the brunette on the bed and blinked momentarily before setting his bag of groceries down on a wooden table in the center of the hotel room. Usually Hakkai was hanging out with the pervert water sprite. Goku squished the bitterness raring it's ugly head that Hakkai was allowed to sit with Sanzo when Goku was continually tossed out and yelled at. Hakkai was Sanzo's friend, too. And he was quieter, so Goku figured it made sense the older demon could sit with Sanzo. Didn't make him feel any better, though. "I got your cigarettes and some canned peaches and stuff."

Sanzo grunted in response and pulled out his lighter. He held his hand out for Goku to stick the pack in his hand. "Bring them here."

"Okay." Goku pulled out the cigarettes and walked over with a slight bounce in his step. Sanzo had gotten much better about his cigarettes over the past few days. He had only burnt himself twice since that first time, but Goku still watched the stick to make sure. So far, Goku had to 'accidently knock into Sanzo' to get rid of a cigarette about to burn him only once. Goku rubbed his arm as he looked down at Hakkai still on the bed. "Is Gojyo still out?" He'd learned to started asking questions that had 'yes' or 'no' answers. Hakkai was starting to get a twitch when he wrote out his notes. "I didn't see him in his room."

Hakkai nodded yes from his place on the bed before throwing a limp arm over his eyes. Hakkai brushed Sanzo's sleeve on purpose with the motion and smirked when the man nearly growled. Though, Hakkai was rather tired, actually. His original intention of coming to the room was to check on Sanzo and go to bed. It was late enough in the evening to go to sleep. Hakkai was tempted to just go to sleep here in Sanzo's bed and let the blonde deal with it. He'd get over it soon enough.

"Ah," Goku mumbled next to the bed. He listened to the click of Sanzo's lighter and backed up a few steps to sit on the other bed. It was quiet and Goku wasn't quite sure what to do with himself now. Was Hakkai staying in this room tonight? That was the normal arrangement, but Hakkai had let Goku stay with Sanzo for the past two nights, so he assumed...Goku bit his lip. Maybe Hakkai was sick of staying with the water sprite for so long. But they lived together before so that can't be it. Goku literally shook his head as he tried to clear his thoughts. Best to just ask. "Are you staying in here tonight, Hakkai?"

Hakkai looked at the boy without removing his arm from his face and considered his options. On the one hand, he was sure Sanzo would appreciate a quiet night. Even Hakkai was aware of the constant chatter that came from Goku when he was nervous for his favorite person. However, staying close to Sanzo was probably the only thing keeping Goku from breaking down completely. Hakkai sighed and shook his head. He pushed himself up and rubbed Sanzo's knee affectionately with his hand as a quick goodnight.

"Ah, bye Hakkai." Goku spoke quickly as he watched Hakkai give him a short wave and walk out the door. It clicked shut softly. Goku heard a rustling from the side and noticed Sanzo pulling off his robes. "Going to bed, Sanzo?"

"What's it look like?" Sanzo snarled as he threw the robe on the floor. The nerve of that man touching him so freely and invading his personal space. It was far worse than the monkey's clinging hands. His knee still felt hot from the touch. "Wake me and I'll kill you."

"Night." Goku sighed and started to unhook his own cape and armor. Maybe things would be better in the morning.

-----

They were laughing, but he couldn't hear them. It was like watching a dirty movie on mute because he didn't want Hakkai to know what he was doing. Gojyo smirked and laughed right along anyway as they pressed their flush bodies against his and moved their hands in all the right places. Of all the senses he could have lost; hearing was probably the least effective. He couldn't hear their pretty voices or moans, but he could still feel the soft skin and see the luscious lips that pouted and pressed. Hanna, Josephine and one other girl who's name he couldn't even begin to pronounce even though she'd written it out for him.

"Ah, now that's not fair." Gojyo laughed out as he saw the pad of paper being hidden behind one of the girls. Josephine, maybe? Either way, the girl feel back onto the bed and the soft sheets with a sly smirk. She was being playful, but it was still a little disconcerting. Her lips were moving, and he was trying to concentrate on the words that could possibly be formed by those subtle movements -but he was coming up with blanks. He had no idea what they were saying as they giggled and laughed.

Where they making fun of him? And just pretending to have a good time or were they still under the Gojyo charm? "How am I supposed to know what you ladies want?" Gojyo smirked and turned to the girl practically sitting next to his side. He snatched her up into his lap with a laugh and a smirk of his own. "Or would you rather I try to guess?"

Hanna laughed and squirmed as the man dug his fingers into her side. She wriggled helplessly in his lap as he applied just the right amount of pressure. "You're so bad!" He smiled at her, but she could tell there was a bit of confusion behind his red eyes. Poor man really couldn't understand what she or her friends were saying; at first they thought he could lip-sync but it was becoming more and more obvious that he could not. The woman dug her hands into his hair as his mouth found its way to her neck and the other two complained about the lack of attention.

At least he was still cute.

-----

"Sanzo?" Goku started quietly. Hakkai was already making breakfast downstairs and Gojyo was in an annoyingly good mood. The only one that was left was Sanzo, who was still sulking in that same corner of the bed. The monkey took a deep breath and tried to smile; you could still hear when someone was smiling or frowning when the spoke. "Um, we were going to go out into town and get some supplies after breakfast. Do you want to come?"

The monk considered his options. If he said no, he was sure to be pestered. The monkey was the one asking now, but knowing his luck that damn demon would be in here soon after. Either way, he'd deal with the monkey whining or Hakkai physically trying of move him out of the bed. Sanzo had spent all of last night thinking about himself and what he could and could not do. The only conclusion that he had come to, was that Sanzo was tired of everything and just wanted to curl up.

Well, his legs were a bit stiff and it wouldn't kill him to get something to eat. "Maybe after breakfast."

If Sanzo could see, he'd notice the practical near-glow that Goku was sporting. Maybe Sanzo was just too tired to be stubborn, but the man was actually getting up and leaving the room! This was definitely a step in the right direction and Goku was more than happy to make sure it kept going that way. "Come on! Hakkai made sausage and stuff with the hotel kitchen."

Sanzo snorted at the excitement in the monkey's voice. Perfect. "Keep your voice down, I can still hear."

"Sorry, Sanzo." Goku bit his lip and waited patiently for Sanzo to slip his feet off the bed and hit the ground. He pushed himself up and stood easily enough, but it was always this pause afterwards that made Goku worry.

Sanzo reached for the side table with his free hand and tapped it. He was trying to remember which direction the door was from this table when he first came in the room. Goku's voice was coming from his left, but he hadn't been paying attention when the boy first came in, so it was almost impossible to tell if he was still standing by the door. His knuckles were turning white from the frustration.

"Sanzo?" Goku started slowly. "Are you okay?"

"Are you by the door?"

The clipped tone startled Goku, but he nodded anyway. He cursed softly before replying out loud. "Yes."

So the door was to the left. Sanzo took a deep breath before taking a step in that direction. Well, he hadn't hit a bed or anything in the way, yet. So far so good. The man continued his shaky steps gaining more confidence as he went. This was ridiculous; it was a hotel room. As long as he got by the beds he shouldn't have anything to run into. Save for the monkey. "What are you doing?"

Goku sighed as he continued to hold onto Sanzo's shoulders. The man sounded angry; but it would have been worse if he had kept going in that direction so confidently. Goku's voice was mumbled as he tried to inform Sanzo as painlessly as possible about his chosen path. "You were going to walk into the doorframe."

"Shit."

"Hey, Sanzo."

"What?" Sanzo's voice sounded defeated.

"Hakkai was writing on his pad that maybe you'd like a cane? That way you could feel what's in front of you?" Goku wasn't sure why he was bringing this up to Sanzo now. It was just something Hakkai had mentioned in one of his note conversations with Gojyo; Hakkai hadn't even really mentioned it to Goku personally. "I think it's a good idea."

Sanzo frowned. A cane? Was he really that invalid? While it seemed possible, Sanzo still refused to admit it. "I don't need a cane."

"But-"

"Just drop it, Goku." Sanzo muttered. "Help me downstairs. I'm too tired for this."

"Okay, Sanzo." The youngest member was upset about Sanzo's depressed mood, but the other half was happy he asked for help. Sanzo must really, really be down about everything if he caved to asking Goku for help. So why was Goku so happy about it? "Let's go, I can smell breakfast from here and it smells so good."

Sanzo just grunted and let the monkey take his arm.

Hakkai was pouring Gojyo a cup of tea as he heard the footsteps coming downstairs. He smiled and waved happily at Goku as he helped Sanzo down each step. Sanzo had an almost defeated look on his face and Hakkai frowned. He had hoped the fact he had come out of the room was a sign he was feeling better. But the look on his face and the use of Goku as a crutch spoke volumes.

"Well if it isn't the monk." Gojyo smirked and licked his teeth. He watched Sanzo's lips as he snarled something at him. He just smiled because he couldn't hear that grating, annoying voice. Probably one of the only perks of his hearing loss. He didn't have to listen to that stuck-up, bastard of a priest. "Sorry, can't hear ya'."

Hakkai rolled his eyes and settled into sit at the table himself before pulling out his pad. He scribbled BEHAVE in large bold letters and shoved it under Gojyo's nose. The man was still smirking, but he shut his mouth in favor of chewing his breakfast. That matter settled, Hakkai filled a plate with rice, sausage and a few eggs before letting the plate clink down in front of the blonde. He discreetly nudged the fork into contact with the man's hand and let him figure out the rest.

Sanzo felt the fork hit his finger and wrapped his hand around it carefully. The monkey was stuffing his face beside him; it sounded even louder and worse than usual. It was almost creepy hearing the gnashing of teeth and lip smacking that came with the sound of an animal eating. If he wasn't sure it was Goku next to him, he'd almost think it was a monster or large animal ripping something apart. Suddenly Sanzo didn't feel very hungry.

"Aren't you going to eat?" Goku paused as he looked at the man beside him. A shiver went down his spine as the man's head turned towards him. Goku had forgotten to look down and his eyes were locked with those milky irises. Gods above he hated those eyes. His voice was rattled when he spoke again. "Do you need any-"

"I don't need help eating." Sanzo snapped. "I'm just not hungry."

"But you haven't eaten very much." Goku paused.

"I'm not hungry." Sanzo slammed his fork down. "I've been able to eat on my own just fine before, drop it."

Hakkai took a deep breath and tried to finish his own food calmly. It was going to be an interesting day if this start was anything to go by. Hakkai only hoped that too many problems wouldn't arise from the tense atmosphere.

-----

"Write a note, smack him in the head, I don't care. Just get that stupid water sprite to shut up!"

Hakkai flinched from Sanzo's snarled order. There was far more venom in his tone than usual and it worried Hakkai. This wasn't his usual grumpy anger; there was real hate edging into his voice. The helplessness Sanzo was facing was making him more bitter than usual and it had time to fester from this morning. he'd gone from depression to rage in such a quick turn around, Hakkai wasn't sure what to make of things.

Granted, Hakkai would be bitter as well. It was obvious Sanzo was not adjusting well, and while it was rumored that when you lose one sense the others become more keen – Sanzo was proving an exception. The only thing Hakkai could tell that was improving was his hearing, and even then- only slightly. Hakkai sighed as he watched Goku start glaring at his backseat companion in Jeep.

Gojyo was not helping the situation. While his lady companions thought the inflections in his voice was darling, it was becoming an increasing annoyance for the rest of the group. His loss of hearing was preventing him from realizing just how loud he was speaking. Hakkai wished he'd just start muttering or something; the yelling was grating. He turned around in the seat and snapped his fingers in front of Gojyo's eyes; the motion caught his attention well enough and interrupted his monologue.

"What?" Gojyo pouted. Hakkai was glaring at him and there were slight lines under his eyes. The monk's foul mood was rubbing off on their driver and in turn put Gojyo in a pretty bad mood itself. It wasn't fair that Sanzo's inability to cope was causing such problems for everyone else. Hakkai and he were dealing just fine with the new situation. Or so Gojyo liked to tell himself, anyway. "I wasn't doing anything, the monkey and I were having a conversation. It's not my fault his handwriting is illegible."

Goku frowned and put the pen to Hakkai's pad and scrawled out in capitals TOO LOUD and shoved it in Gojyo's face. "You're making Sanzo upset!"

"I'm not being too loud!" Gojyo frowned in his seat; he wanted to make a better comeback, but he didn't know what else Goku had said. Not that he really needed it spelled out: Everything was always about the monk. The monk couldn't see, well who cared? Gojyo couldn't hear and Hakkai couldn't speak. There was nothing special about him. Gojyo looked out the side of the door at the scenery flying by. They had given up on the cave and decided to just keep going with the journey. Gojyo wasn't completely sure how they came to that decision, but he was pretty sure Hakkai made it on his own. "Whatever."

Goku huffed as the water sprite turned his back on them. At least he was quiet now. Sanzo in the front relaxed his shoulder slightly and Goku smiled. They'd deal with Gojyo's issues later, but for right now all that mattered was Sanzo was feeling just a little bit better now that it was quiet. Goku stretched his arms over his head before settling into the seat. A nap sounded good right about now. Or he would have liked to have a nap. He felt Jeep come to a stop and looked up past Hakkai and Sanzo and cursed.

"What is it?" Sanzo asked the empty air. The Jeep wasn't moving and he could hear movement in the back from the others. "Goku, what's going on?"

"Demons."