Much like it's predecessor, Keeping Face, this story hit me with a bat and demanded to be written. Thank-you.
A sequel to Keeping Face
"How long does it take to pick something? Hurry up!"
"Oh hush now, Gen. I'm going to wear it all the time so I should at least like it."
"I still don't know why you just can't be happy with the bracelet."
"It's a woman's bracelet."
"That didn't stop you from wearing the earrings."
"Even more reason I should defend my gender by picking something masculine, don't you think?"
"Do I really need to remind you that we're at a black market stand and not in the middle of a shopping row? We don't have all day!"
"That's just an excuse because you hate shopping. You owe me this so just sit and wait."
The stand owner watched as the two customers bickered back and forth. The brunette, the one shopping, was a pleasant looking demon with green eyes and a calm demeanor. His associate dressed in jeans and a black tank top, a blonde demon, was not so calm and collected. The owner wasn't sure at first that they were both demons, but the brunette was shopping for a limiter so he must be. Now the blonde- The old demon would have been sure it was a human if not for those fierce violet eyes. The blonde must just be wearing a limiter where it couldn't be seen. Said demon continued to smoke through a pack of cigarettes like he didn't want to be there while his companion took his time shopping. They were an odd couple to be sure.
"If you don't pick something in the next five minutes I'm going to pick it for you!"
Hakkai rolled his eyes; Sanzo was being particularly difficult this evening. The brunette almost regretted bringing Sanzo with him, but Sanzo was paying for the limiter (since it was his fault Hakkai lost his old ones in the first place) and Gojyo and Goku had been out doing something or another. Hakkai could take care of himself easily even in the shadier sides of town, but that didn't mean that he wanted to. Misery loved company so of course he politely asked Sanzo to join him (By polite he meant taking off his limiter and crushing the man's newspaper when he resisted). "Please, Gen. Be a bit more patient."
Sanzo snorted and crossed his arms. 'Gen' was the nickname Hakkai had chosen as to not let anyone know that the revered Genjo Sanzo was shopping for demon limiters at a little black market stand in the seediest part of a large city. Considering they were in an area that was feared due to the amount of demons spotted there, Sanzo was rather surprised he hadn't been called out for being human. It was amazing that there was a tiny pocket of demons still in this city; they were almost like a gang that committed crimes but never was caught. And that damn shop keep was staring again. "You got a problem, buddy?"
"No, sir!" The demon chuckled and fingered his own earring limiter as an example. "It's just most demons now a days wouldn't be caught dead in one o' these babies. So you can see how it'd be strange to see one shopping for a limiter, let alone two demons shopping together."
Hakkai's hand twitched as he lifted a gaudy ring covered in little gems from the bed of merchandise. That man had said 'demons' with an 's.' He thought Sanzo was a demon; no wonder Sanzo hadn't been attacked yet by those looming around the corners watching them shop. If Hakkai wasn't worried for the blonde's reaction, he might have found it amusing that he was instantly accepted as a demon. That in mind, Hakkai put the ring down and reached over for the limiter he had chosen the moment he had gotten to the stand. Pushing Sanzo's tempter any further might not be in anyone's best interest. "I'd like this one."
"Finally!" Sanzo threw his arms in the air and pulled out a wad of cash he had bartered for earlier. Couldn't buy this thing with credit after all; stupid paper trails. Though, buying something expensive to turn around and sell it for cash had been a pain. Hakkai better be grateful for this! "Let's pay for it and get out of here."
"Ah, that is a very nice limiter. A single gold band, very simple." The shop keep chuckled lightly as he looked at it. He smirked. "Very masculine."
"Enough already," Sanzo huffed and poked at the rickety stand of merchandise. He never in a million years would have guessed he'd be standing here in a back alley of a demon territory bartering over a black market limiter like they were shopping for cakes in a tea store. "How much?"
The demon behind the stand chuckled as the blonde growled at him. Somebody wasn't getting enough calcium in his diet. Maybe he should recommend a good place to pick off humans. "Well, since you made me laugh- how about, say- fifteen-hundred?"
Sanzo groaned and handed over the cash anyway. Hakkai was twitching off to the side, clearly upset by the blonde's lack of bartering but he'd just have to deal. "Take it."
"Thanks for doing business."
Hakkai took the ring from the man and thanked him in return. Before he could walk away however, he was met by violet eyes staring at him, cigarette in mouth. "Yes, Gen?"
"Well?" Sanzo blew a bit of smoke. "You going to put that thing on or not?"
"I figured I'd just wait until we got back to the hotel to switch."
"Psh, hell no." Sanzo poked Hakkai in the chest. "You're getting every penny's worth out of that thing. Its not like it'd be a problem to change it here, now is it?" Sanzo smirked at the store owner.
"Nope, we're all demons here, friend."
"Yes, we all certainly are." Hakkai glared at his friend, though the bit of mischief in Sanzo's eyes declared he meant no harm. Hakkai shook his head and reached down to click off the limiter Ms. Yaone had let him borrow a few months ago and took in a deep breath when he felt all the restrictions of his power leave. After last time's fiasco, Hakkai had taken to removing the limiter once in a while just to get used to the switch more readily. He ran a hand through his long hair and fluffed it a bit as he adjusted. "That's always a rush."
"Yeah, yeah." Sanzo smirked and let his eyes fall on the store keep who was now gripping his stand. It was no secret Hakkai was a powerful son of a bitch without that limiter. You could feel the power radiating off of him just by standing close. He was sure every demon hanging out watching them was now scurrying away from them. It was good to be on top. "Now put on your ring and let's go."
"Patience never did suit you." Hakkai spoke smoothly but placed the ring on his right hand index finger regardless. It reminded him a bit of a wedding band, in an odd sort of way. He flinched slightly when the limiter put a stopper on all of his power once again and he was back to his usual self. "Though, as eager as you are, we still need to get something for dinner."
"Don't remind me." Sanzo shuddered. "I fear what that monkey's eaten since we've been gone."
Hakkai laughed while placing Yaone's limiter in his pocket fully intending to return it the next time they meet. "Have a good day, sir."
The shop keep waved back before closing the top of his merchandise. Sanzo snorted when he placed the fake display of good luck charms on top of the box. Some demons were hunters and others created lures for lost tourists. Hakkai was walking companionably by his side and Sanzo flicked the butt of his cigarette into a trash can on passing. At least now he didn't have to listen to Hakkai complain about the bracelet getting in the way or bring up yet again how Sanzo lost his old limiters.
"At what?" Sanzo pushed his hands into his pockets when Hakkai finally decided to speak.
"That you didn't get upset in the slightest that he assumed you were a demon."
Sanzo snorted. "Hakkai, I've been called a demon, monster, devil and worse since I was a little kid by people who knew I was human." The blonde paused to pull out another cigarette. "Trust me, being called a demon in a situation like that is nothing."
"I see." Hakkai hummed happily. They were slowly making their way out of the demons' section of the city and he was looking forward to getting back to town. "Maybe that's why you're so strong."
"Don't even start getting sentimental on me." Sanzo snorted and shielded his eyes once they made it back to the main street. He always did wonder how back alleys managed to block out the sun completely. "I just bought you a ring and we're shopping together. Get that sappy stuff involved and we might as well just declare we're married."
"We do already have two children to take care of." Hakkai started to laugh. "It'd be only fair to them that we make it official."
"They're too much trouble for that." Sanzo snorted. "Let'em stay bastards."
"Though I would insist on one thing." Hakkai lifted a finger to his lips as he waited for his friend to light his new cigarette. He happily ignored the man's pervious statement.
"And what would that be?" Sanzo mumbled around the lighter.
"I'd be the father."
"Ahh!! I'm dying!" Goku groaned and flopped back onto the plush hotel bed. "Where are they? I'm starving!"
"Shut the hell up!" Gojyo tossed a pillow at the ape that just wouldn't keep his mouth shut and tried to block out the noise. A huge city like this and Gojyo couldn't find a date. He blamed the chimp for following him around. That had to be why there were no foxy ladies flocking to him. "I didn't even know they were going out!"
"I'm going to die of starvation by the time they come back!"
"If they come back."
Goku bounced up from the bed and held onto the pillow. "What? What do you mean by that?"
Gojyo smirked. "Maybe they were tired of your whining and ran off together."
"Jerk!" Goku shouted and gripped the sheets tightly in his fist. Sanzo wouldn't leave him! That was just absurd. "That's not true and you know it!"
"Yeah, I know." Gojyo stretched his legs out in front of him. There was only so far you could tease about Sanzo ditching his monkey before Goku really freaked out. That boy was way too attached to the blonde jerk. Hakkai too, considering they disappeared together. Gojyo still couldn't quite figure out the appeal, aside from the occasional spiritual revelation you got from being around the man. "But it does make you wonder where they ran off to."
"Maybe they went to get us some dinner!" Goku fell back onto the bed and rose his arm up to look at the back of his hand. He was hungry, bored and Gojyo had been no fun all night. "Because I'm-"
"Hungry!" Gojyo shouted. "We know. I am too."
"Think we should go look for them?"
"If they're not back in another twenty minutes, sure." Gojyo rolled over. "In the meantime, I'm taking a nap."
"Where did you even find that place, anyway?" Sanzo asked while biting into a fresh, crisp peach. He and Hakkai had just purchased their produce and fruit from a stand and to be honest, this was the only time Sanzo had any hope of eating said fruit. Those two gluttons back at the hotel made sure they disappeared the moment it hit the table. Especially Goku; that boy had a thing with peaches that Sanzo couldn't even begin to describe. "Or do you always keep up with black market demon stands?"
"Believe it or not I overheard on accident this morning at breakfast when I went to the washroom." Hakkai chuckled and looked speculatively at a meat cart. Goku and Gojyo would appreciate the beef, but it was a bit pricey. "I didn't actually think there'd be a stand."
"Yet you threatened me and dragged me there anyway." Sanzo rolled his eyes and finished off the last few bites of the luscious fruit. He had forgotten just how much he himself liked peaches. "This cheeky phase of yours really needs to die."
"I could have sworn you wanted me to be myself, Sanzo." Hakkai picked the meat up from the stand and waved at Sanzo to produce the credit card. The kids weren't the only ones in the mood for meat. "Are you reneging on me? It's only been a few months."
"Like I'd risk going through that again." Sanzo shook his head and reached for the bag with peaches in them. Hakkai pulled it away swiftly and shook his finger while taking the meat from the butcher.
"You'll spoil your dinner."
"You act like I'll even be able to get one at dinner."
Hakkai chuckled and held the bag at bay while the blonde pouted. Without his robes on, Sanzo tended to behave much more casually. It was like his own limiter was taken off; Hakkai rather liked it. "You do know that if you told Goku you liked peaches he'd make sure you got as much as you wanted, don't you?"
"I could tell him I wanted the moon and he'd go get it, but that doesn't mean I should."
"Touché." Hakkai chuckled and handed Sanzo another peach. "Your logic wins just this once."
"My logic always wins." The priest took a bite from the peach. "I'm the only sane one out of our little group."
"I beg to differ." Hakkai stole the peach from Sanzo and took a bite himself before handing it back. The blonde was scowling at him, but kept eating his precious fruit anyway. "This is nice."
Sanzo nearly tripped when Hakkai suddenly stopped walking. "What is?
"This." Hakkai smiled and lifted his bag of groceries higher in his grip. "Shopping, just the two of us. It's quiet and I don't have to baby-sit anyone."
"I guess." Sanzo shrugged. "The quiet is nice."
"Shame it won't last long." Hakkai sighed as they rounded the corner. "I had forgotten how close this market was to our hotel."
"Even if we stayed out, they'd send out a search party. It is close to feeding time."
"A little after, actually."
"Well, if someone hadn't spent so long at the stand, we'd have been back on time."
"Now we really do sound like a married couple, don't we?" Hakkai laughed and went ahead and bit the bullet; he walked to the hotel doors. "Now, let's stop fussing so we don't scare the children."
"So help me…" Sanzo sighed and walked through the door after the overly cheerful man. This marriage joke was going to get old quickly.
"Sanzo! Hakkai!" Goku shouted cheerfully as the two entered the door. He had finally dragged Gojyo out of the room to go look for them and here they show up! "We were really worried!"
"See? What did I tell you?" Hakkai turned to Sanzo and let Gojyo take the back. The redhead looked like he had thoroughly enjoyed watching Gojyo. Hakkai was suddenly thankful he got to share a room with Sanzo. "They were just about to send out the search party."
"We wouldn't have to if you would have left a note." Gojyo muttered around an unlit Hi-lite hanging from his mouth. "Where'd you two go anyway?"
Hakkai looked over at Sanzo who merely shrugged and pulled out a cigarette since he had put off smoking while he ate the peach. Suddenly sparked by a particularly creative idea, Hakkai held up his hand and wiggled his finger letting the gold ring glisten under the lights.
Gojyo's jaw dropped predictably. "You two got married?"
"What!?" Goku instantly jumped up from rummaging through the bag of groceries he had snatched stealthily from Gojyo (water sprite hadn't even noticed!) at hearing the news. "Can they even do that!?"
"Hakkai." Sanzo grit through his teeth. He was going to kill him. He was going to take a gun to that smirking bastard's head and blow it off.
"Come Sanzo," Hakkai pouted and looked at the ring again. As he though, Gojyo didn't pay attention to which hand it was on and jumped to conclusions as expected. Being in a particularly good mood, Hakkai decided to milk the joke for all it was worth. Sanzo's eminent explosions were always such fun. "You spend all that money on my ring and you still deny it? Oh, what a wretched spouse you are to try and cover up our love."
Sanzo suddenly got a wicked smile on his face. "Well then, since you're so determined to come out of the closet- why don't you be a good little wife and make dinner?"
"Okay, this is starting to get freaky." Gojyo pat them both, before leaning on his arm on Hakkai's shoulder. As much fun as their little prank was, Gojyo had seen way too much of them flirting for one knight. Any more of Hakkai that sickly sweet and Gojyo'd need a cavity check.
"Yeah." Goku nodded before turning to Sanzo. "You two are joking, right?"
"Yes," Sanzo sighed. The fact he had to clarify that was sad. "I'm going to take a shower."
Goku lingered for a moment before following Sanzo. This hotel had public bathing and maybe Sanzo would like a little company! Well, he probably wouldn't want any at all, but like hell Goku was going to leave Sanzo alone in a public bath with rumors of demons in town! "Hey! Wait for me! I wanna' get washed before dinner, too!"
The water sprite and the demon chuckled as Sanzo grumbled and Goku chatted cheerfully. Though, once they were alone Gojyo lifted Hakkai's hand and pointed at the gold band on his index finger. "But seriously, what's with the ring?"
"It's my new limiter." Hakkai smiled pleasantly as he headed for the back of the hotel. If he remembered correctly, there was a kitchen or something he could use to make the stew.
Gojyo followed Hakkai with his hands in his pockets. "The monk finally came through, did he?"
"Well, I did have to drag him."
"Why a ring?"
"It was better than the bracelets, necklaces or earrings."
Gojyo laughed. "All girly looking as sin I take it?"
"It was worse than Yaone's bracelet." Hakkai shuddered. "And not an ear cuff in sight."
"I still think it's funny you care about that sort of thing, actually." Gojyo smirked. "You are probably the most feminine out of all of us."
"Do take that back, Gojyo. I'd hate for your portion of dinner to be dished out to Goku."
"You wouldn't dare…" Gojyo trailed off. "Never mind, it's the big bad demon I'm talking about."
Hakkai started to chuckle, but was cut off by the sounds of a gunshot. That came from the direction Sanzo and Goku had gone off in. "Speaking of demons."
"Jeez, can't they wait until after dinner?" Gojyo grumbled and pulled out his hands. "Well, let's get to it!"
"Let's." Hakkai sighed and followed after his red headed friend. It seems that one or two demons had followed them from the alley. What a bother. Oh well, at least he was still in a good mood.