Ah, chapter 2. I both like and dislike this chapter. So, that's about all I'll say on the matter. Thanks for reading and reviewing!

Chapter 2


The priest muttered to himself in response to his bathing companion. Defeating a hoard of demons before a bath was not Sanzo's idea of a pleasant afternoon. He had finally gotten Goku to leave him alone long enough to enjoy a pleasant soak and demons bust through the wall and attack. Not in the mood to deal with them, Sanzo shot them all while the chimp attacked accordingly.

And now that he could finally relax and take a bath in peace, as he had shooed Goku away in hunt of a snack and Gojyo was out doing the usual, Hakkai decided it would be a good time to join him and ask stupid questions. He was a fool to have believed the man would also enjoy a quiet soak.

"Sanzo." Hakkai spoke more firmly this time when it looked like the blonde was going to ignore him. When that did not work, Hakkai pinched the blonde's arm.

"What?" Sanzo growled. "Is it too much to ask to take a bath in silence?"

Hakkai huffed. "Is it so much to ask for an intelligent conversation once in a while?"

"Fine." Sanzo slunk down against the edge of the bathing tub until his shoulders were submerged. "What's on your mind?"

"Do you ever count?"

Sanzo yawned and shut his eyes. It would be far too easy to fall asleep surrounded by all this warm water and relative silence. "Count what?"

Hakkai almost rolled his eyes. Close to thirty minutes ago, Sanzo had been soaked head to foot in demon blood from all that close contact shooting and he didn't know to what Hakkai was referring. "The demons you kill." Hakkai was met with a raised eye brow and a slice of purple through a cracked eye. Hakkai elaborated. "The whole bathe in the blood of a thousand demons thing."

"Hakkai, up until I met you I didn't even think that legend was true." Sanzo shut his eye again and rubbed his shoulder. It worried him that his muscles were still stiff after soaking for so long. "And by the time I did realize it was true, it was far too late to bother keeping count."

"So you never worry about it, then?" Hakkai found his own statement hard to believe. How could Sanzo not be concerned? "Becoming a demon?"

Sanzo leant his head back on the edge. He should have known Hakkai was going to ask stupid things. "If you're looking for reasons to call me a hypocrite, just stop it."

Hakkai frowned and flicked the water with his finger. While there was some sense to what Sanzo was saying (it would be hypocritical for him to complain about being a demon after that whole fiasco with Hakkai's limiters), but somehow their two situations were different. There was something fundamentally wrong with Sanzo becoming a demon. "That's not what I was doing."

"Then why do you care, anyway?" Sanzo sighed and pulled himself up out of the water enough to sit upright. The cool air tingled on his shoulders. "If it happens, it happens. Not that I'm trying, mind you. What brought on this random topic anyway?"

"After seeing you covered in all that blood earlier, I was curious, at best." Hakkai shrugged and fiddled with the new ring on his finger. He absently wondered if it would rust being in the water for so long. "Actually, I've probably been thinking about it since the incident earlier today. You barely bat an eye at being confused for a demon, but I wondered how you'd feel should you actually turn into one."

Sanzo looked up at the ceiling. "I don't know." The priest turned around to reach behind him into his bath kit for the pack of cigarettes hiding away in the plastic tub. He put the stick in his mouth and lit it slowly watching the embers burn at the tip. After a slow drag, and exhale Sanzo turned back to the now quiet demon. "I'd probably hate myself."

"That sounds about right." Hakkai smiled softly. He was happy Sanzo could admit that; and to him of all people. The demon smirked and raised his finger in a 'tsk tsk' sort of pose. "As you well should."


"You'd completely throw off our group dynamic." The demon pushed up on the edge of the tub to pull himself out of the water. A fifteen minute soak was long enough for a bath. "Our little party isn't special anymore if we're just four demons running around together."

"It's barely special as it is." Sanzo smirked and continued to soak in the tub. He could risk pruning for a few minutes to himself.

"I wouldn't say that." Hakkai pulled on a towel and stared off towards the changing room. "It's far more impressive for a man who hates demons to stand up for them than it is for a demon to stand up for his own kind. It makes you very unique."

With that, Sanzo watched his companion walk away and took a drag on his cigarette. Did he still hate demons? Sanzo really wasn't sure anymore. He probably did somewhere deep down, but having to stand up for them for so long after this Minus Wave trouble made him wonder if that hatred was just buried too far down to remember. It was probably best if things stayed that way.

Goku stood at the stand of fruit carefully deciding which ones Sanzo would like best. His guardian had given him the credit card to go purchase a snack for later. Not Hakkai. Goku. Sanzo had trusted Goku to go food shopping and even if it was just a tactic to get the monkey (not that he was one!) to leave Sanzo alone, it had made Goku unbelievably happy. They had declared it official to have 12 meals a day happy.

But now he had to decide what fruit to buy and how much.

Goku knew that Hakkai was fond of apples, and Gojyo would eat whatever was put in front of him. A stack of ripe, firm peaches were staring up at Goku and were causing him to drool. Goku had always loved peaches and had often gotten him into trouble. Stupid offering tree in the temple yard. What good was a peach tree if you couldn't eat the peaches?

Goku bit his lip trying to remember if Sanzo liked peaches or if Goku was trying to convince himself Sanzo liked peaches because Goku liked peaches. It was all rather confusing and his growling stomach wasn't helping.

"Are you going to buy something kid?" The store owner huffed over the side of his cart. "Or are you just going to stare all day?"

Goku glared at the main but pointed anyway. He'd just pick a variety of things and make sure Sanzo got to pick first. Yeah! That was a good plan. And if he got enough of everything than no one would be left out getting what they wanted! Plan in mind, Goku started listing off his order; anger at the stop keep forgotten over the premise of fruit. "I want a dozen apples, and a couple dozen peaches, and…"

The shop owner's eyes widened and he struggled to start filling the order as the kid continued to list off numbers for each of the fruits on his stand.

Hakkai looked up from his book when Sanzo came in through the door from whatever it was he was doing. Probably smoking out back after dinner, was the demon's best guess. The man walked by him without a word and collapsed onto the bed with his usual "wake me and die" speech. Hakkai shook his head and continued to read his book. Gojyo was unlikely to return until morning and Goku had volunteered to help in the kitchen after he came home with all those bags of fruit. The staff was thankful to have such an energetic lad to help clean up.

Sanzo smelled like soap.

Hakkai inhaled deeply as he sat on the bed. The priest must have scrubbed down a second time after Hakkai left him in the tub. The man's breathing had evened out nicely and his heart beat was steady. Sanzo was most definitely in a deep sleep. Though Hakkai should have realized he was exhausted the moment he walked into the door.

Sanzo hadn't said a thing about Hakkai's limiter being on the table instead of on his finger.

Not that Sanzo cared if Hakkai wore his limiter or not, but usually the priest liked to sneak in a playful jab here or there when Hakkai happened to take it off. It was a very subtle source of humor that Hakkai enjoyed seeing from the other man. The demon sighed when he realized he was no longer going to be able to concentrate on his book with the scent of Sanzo flooding the room and the heartbeat counting off steadily. He reached over to grab his limiter but paused.

Hakkai rather liked the way Sanzo smelled.

In fact, Hakkai had grown to like that smell quite a bit. The earthy, human smell that most would never notice. That same smell he was sure Goku was drawn to every time he clung to the older man. It was strange how much he'd started to cling to the blonde himself. After the incident with his limiters, Hakkai somehow felt closer to the other man. It was almost to the point of attraction, and he wasn't hating it.

Sanzo was a very unique person, to quote himself from earlier. He could empathize with Hakkai while still managing to be strong and hold to his own convictions. He smelled good (Hakkai scolded himself for lingering on one topic, but the man really did smell delicious), and his voice was calming and lovely when the man wasn't screaming.

Hakkai would never forget the sutras Sanzo had recited for Kannon. He was never much of a religious man, but even Hakkai could hear the beauty and power behind that text when spoken by Sanzo. Hakkai often wondered if he'd be shot for requested Sanzo to read others aloud to him. The demon's eyes shifted from his hands and looked over towards the man sleeping soundly on the other side of the room.

Hakkai found himself standing up from his own bed before he could help himself.

As the demon approached the bed and sat a hand down on the edge, Hakkai questioned his own sanity. If Sanzo woke up- Hakkai would be dead. There was no doubt in his mind of that fact, but Hakkai crawled into the bed anyway. He'd just have to sneak out before Sanzo woke up.

Contrary to popular belief, Gojyo was not stupid.

When the redhead walked into the hotel room looking for Hakkai only to find the man curled up on the bed with his royal, bastard highness- Gojyo knew something was up. The friendly teasing, buying the limiter, taking baths together, the late night 'talks,' the marriage jokes...and now snuggling in bed. In his demon form no less! It had all become so clear in the half-demon's mind that he almost cursed himself for not noticing sooner.

His best friend was bangin' the priest.

Gojyo shut the door quietly and started walking down the hallway as swiftly as his handsomely long legs would carry him. What the hell? Hakkai had never shown any interest in that jerk before now? Maybe Sanzo came onto Hakkai. Did the priest have a kink for demons or something? Gojyo growled and started to ruffle his hair as he walked. This definitely fell into the category of 'too much information.' Didn't Hakkai know if he wanted to cuddle with the priest he should lock the door so a certain water sprite's eyes would be spared the torture?

Gojyo was never going to be able to keep this to himself.

But he really needed to. Clearly, Hakkai would have told Gojyo (his best friend) if he was sleeping with the priest unless he didn't want Gojyo to know. Hakkai probably wasn't ready to come out yet or something. Gojyo pulled his Hi-Lite down from his mouth and rubbed his eyes. He needed to be supportive. No matter how much he thought Hakkai deserved the best of the best and way better than that cranky bastard.

Gojyo was so caught up in his thoughts it barely registered when he crashed into Goku.

"Ouch! Watch where you're going you stupid water sprite!" Goku grumbled as he reached over to start picking up the leftover fruit he had dropped. (And at dinner he confirmed Sanzo liked peaches!) "What's the rush?"

"What?" Gojyo looked up and realized he had fallen. He really had been trapped in his own head. "Oh, hey monkey."

"I'm not a monkey!" Goku glared and stood up. All he wanted to do was to give Sanzo the left over peaches and then go to bed.

"Hey!" Gojyo looked over his shoulder as the kid started walking towards the hotel room. Goku did NOT need to see the priest and Hakkai all cuddly. "You can't go in there!"

"Why not?" Goku grumbled.

"Sanzo and Hakkai are sleeping." It was technically true.

"So? I'll just put the bags in there." Goku huffed. "I can be quiet."

"No, they're sleeping." Gojyo tried to emphasize the importance of the monkey not running in and freaking out. "As in together."

Goku's eyes widened just the slightest fraction. "They're what?"

Gojyo just nodded and the monkey dropped the bag of fruit he was holding. That was not a good sign. "Now don't do anything stupid."

No sooner had Gojyo said those words Goku had sprinted the extra few feet down the hallway and stood before the door, hesitating. Gojyo was lying; that was it. This was all just a joke. Goku slipped the door open quietly (just in case Sanzo really was just taking a nap) and peaked around the corner. Goku felt like a stone had just dropped into his stomach.

Sanzo was on his side sleeping softly, his golden hair falling over his eyes rising and falling with every breath. Curled up against his back with a vine-covered arm thrown carefully over the man's side was Hakkai; face buried in Sanzo's neck. The intimacy was enough to make Goku sick. Sanzo never let Goku share a bed with him like that. Not since he was really small. How dare Hakkai have that privilege? It made Goku unbelievably angry for some reason.

Was he jealous?

Goku shut the door softly and stalked back down the hallway towards Gojyo. "Sorry I thought you were lying."

"Hey, Goku." Gojyo started as the boy walked off down the hallway towards the room he and Gojyo were to be sharing. Gojyo hit the wall with his fist; this was not good. "Dammit!"

Sanzo was not having a good morning. From the moment he had gotten out of bed things had just been off about his already annoying companions.

Gojyo was jumpy as hell over every little thing.

Goku was sulking for some unknown reason.

And Hakkai had that damn grin that said 'I got away with something you don't know about" plastered all over his ugly mug.

It was driving Sanzo out of his mind, but he kept quiet for his own sanity. He really didn't want to know what had gotten into his so called servants. Either way, the group of four walked down the street on their way out of town. They would drive out, but the streets were too narrow for Jeep to fit. Sanzo lit a cigarette and hoped that the rest of them would get over it soon so he could have some piece of mind.

"Well, I'll be damned. If it isn't the River Rat."

Sanzo stopped dead in his tracks and turned around to face the voice that dared bring up that old nickname. "Excuse me?"

"And now I know for certain." A man carrying a priest staff smirked from under his wide rimmed straw hat. He lifted it just high enough to see the blonde priest eye to eye. "There's no mistaking those devil eyes."

"Someone you know, Sanzo?" Hakkai took a slightly defensive stance next to the blonde. Sanzo looked ready to murder someone. Clearly 'River Rat' was not a playful nickname.


"Ah, now that hurts." The man held the hand not holding his staff to his chest. "Not that I'm surprised. You always did think you were better than us back at Kin'zan."

"As I've said before, I run in different circles now."

"So I've noticed." The new priest looked over the others who were now glaring him with as much ferocity as the blonde. "At least your company suits you now."

"What the hell are you going on about? " Goku shouted. He didn't like this new guy. He was all stuck up like some of those other losers back at the temple.

"Oh? I just meant it's best for demons to hang out with demons." The man chuckled and the rat's eyes narrowed.

"Sanzo's not a-"


Goku looked up at his master as he was cut off mid sentence. "But-"

"I said shut up." Sanzo's voice was very low and it got it's point across. Goku (and the others who looked like they were going to open their traps) became very quiet. "We're leaving."

The air was so thick Hakkai could swear that he was being smothered. Sanzo was furious enough to walk away from a fight. He prayed that poor fool of a man had enough sense to not press the issue. "Let's go, Gojyo."

"Right." Gojyo nodded as he looked at Hakkai's twitching fingers. Sanzo wasn't the only one who wanted to rip into that pompous monk. It would make sense that Hakkai would want to stand up for his secret boyfriend. Boyfriend. Man that was a creepy thought. "Let's leave this jerk to his own devices."

Goku saw Sanzo turn and walk away but he lingered. First he was angry because Sanzo didn't trust him enough to tell him that he and Hakkai were together. Second, he was angry at himself for being jealous. And now, this bastard had the nerve to call Sanzo a 'river rat' and a 'demon' and no one was going to anything about it!

"Move your ass, monkey." Sanzo turned just enough to glare at the youngest of their group. The brat looked like he was ready to attack and Sanzo was not in the mood to put up with this stupidity. He already was having enough trouble dealing with the memories that stupid nick name had brought about.

"Okay Sanzo." Goku turned and trotted off behind his friends, but continued to glare at the other man. If he so much as thought of following them, Goku was going to beat the living hell out of him. Human or not.

The monk laughed. Sanzo Priest or not, that was the same little punk Koumyou Sanzo had pulled out of the river. No need to treat him any better just because of a piece of paper. "See-you around, River Rat."

Sanzo chose to ignore the man and kept walking. Thankfully his idiot companions had enough sense to keep their mouths shut and eyes forward.

Hakkai lay beside Sanzo in their sleeping bags staring up at the sky. For some reason, Gojyo and Goku had taken their sleeping bags to the other side of Jeep to sleep. Hakkai was suspicious, but appreciated the quiet peace next to Sanzo regardless. Though, while his limiter was on tonight and he couldn't hear the man's breathing or heartbeat, he really didn't need to. It was obvious enough that the man was bothered. "Are you alright?"

"I'm fine." Sanzo muttered into his pillow. "What is it with you and all these personal questions?"

"You've started answering." Hakkai chuckled. When the man groaned, the demon continued in his hunt for more information. "Do you honestly not remember that man, or was he someone you knew to hit you so far below the belt?"

"Stop asking dumb questions. And no, I don't remember." Sanzo looked up. "Save for Shuuei and Master Sanzo, I didn't really bother to learn the other names of the monks. They all hated me equally anyway, so he could have been any of them."

"Sorry to hear that."

"Then go to sleep so you won't have to hear any more."

"Ah, of course." Hakkai chuckled and snuggled down into his bag. He secretly wondered if he could get away with snuggling again once the priest fell asleep. The danger at getting caught was exciting, and besides – the monk looked like he needed a hug.

"How long do you think they've been seeing each other?" Goku whispered as he peered over at Sanzo and Hakkai sleeping close together. He couldn't hear what they were saying, but it was obvious they were talking to each other. "And how come we didn't notice?"

"How should I know? Go to sleep!" Gojyo hushed. He was still semi-creeped out by this whole ordeal and didn't need a reminder that even now as they tried to sleep, Hakkai was over there whispering sweet nothings. The idea of the monk getting all flushed and lovely-dovey was making him confused and angry.

"Yeah but!"


"Fine, be a jerk." Goku huffed and hit the pillow. Goku fell asleep wondering what it felt like to sleep so close to Sanzo and talk quietly into the night. He bet it felt nice.