Disclaimer: I don't own Saiyuki or any of the characters in the manga or anime. That honor belongs to Kazuya Minekura.

"…because, I love you."

Hakkai's whispered confession reached Gojyo's sleepy brain. They had stopped for the night at another run down inn, Sanzo and Goku sharing a room and he and Hakkai sharing the other, Hakuryu in his little bed, in a corner of the room. Hakkai had lovingly made the bed for the tiny dragon months ago. There was only one bed but that ceased to matter years ago. Gojyo only had one bed in his old house, so he and Hakkai had grown used to sharing a bed. The fact that Hakkai seemed unaffected by sharing a bed with Gojyo hurt, but by now, Gojyo was used to hiding his true feelings for Hakkai.

Hakkai snuggled down under the covers more, bringing Gojyo's attention back to the present. He desperately wanted to roll over and look at Hakkai and ask him to repeat what he said, but he lay still, his back to Hakkai and waited for Hakkai to start speaking again.

Hakkai must be thinking of Kanan again. That thought brought a shard of pain to Gojyo's heart as he wondered what Hakkai's dream of Kanan was about. It had been a long time since Hakkai had even spoken of Kanan, let alone have a nightmare about her death. In fact, Gojyo couldn't remember the last time Hakkai pulled out that broken pocket watch that Kanan had given him and looked at it, sadness dripping from his eyes and face.

"I think it was your hair that I wanted to feel first. Not saying that I wouldn't have been content to look in those beautiful eyes all night long but your hair fascinated me. It was so long and looked so soft."

Gojyo remembered that Kanan had very long hair that she kept braided most of the time. Sighing as quietly as he could so he wouldn't interrupt Hakkai's speech, Gojyo wondered if Hakkai had unbraided Kanan's hair at night, smiling as her hair fell into soft curls, surrounding her shoulders as Hakkai threaded through the long locks with those hands of his. Those hands that Gojyo had been imagining on his body more frequently lately. Those hands moving through his hair as Hakkai touched the flaming red locks.

"Your smile. I think that's what I love most about you. When you smile at me, I feel as if I'm loved and cherished and nothing else matters in the world."

Gripping the bed covers, Gojyo clutched the covers to his chest, as if those skimpy bedsheets could stop his heart from shattering into a million pieces. White knuckles seemed to glow in the dim room as Gojyo felt an unwanted tear slip from his eye. Another tear followed the same path as the first, wetting the yellowed pillowcase under Gojyo's head. He wanted to cry out to Hakkai to stop this torture, stop talking about Kanan and what he fucking loved about her. She was dead, dammit! It was time to get on with life and put Kanan firmly in the past.

"I never thanked you for coming to find me on that night."

Gojyo stilled. What night? Oh gods. Was he…?

"When you asked Sanzo to say a mantra for me at those blacken, burned remains of the castle where Kanan died, I think I fell a little in love with you then. I don't think I even realized that in that short month when I was healing in your home just how much I came to rely on you. Not just for food, or drink or even for your help getting to the bathroom." A soft chuckle from Hakkai. "I was mortified to have to ask for your help that first time. I can still see your face as you undid my pants. Your face bright red and you were so uncomfortable! I'm so sorry that I laughed when you started to whistle to cover your embarrassment but I couldn't help it."

Gojyo couldn't help himself. He grinned into the pillow, smothering a laugh so Hakkai wouldn't stop talking. That had to be the strangest experience he'd ever had. It wasn't like he had never seen another guy's dick before. Hell, he and Banri used to pee in the bushes when they were wasted off their asses. But, he'd never shared a moment as intimate with Banri as he did when he helped Hakkai to the bathroom that first time.

A loud yawn from Hakkai interrupted Gojyo from his thoughts. "I'm tired tonight and I think I'm going to try and sleep." Hakkai fussed with the covers for a minute, getting them just the way he wanted them before he stilled for the night. "Goodnight, Gojyo. I love you."

Gojyo lay awake for a long time that night, thinking over everything that Hakkai had said.

The next morning, Gojyo was very quiet. No matter how many times Goku stole food from his plate or called him a perverted kappa, Gojyo didn't take the bait. Picking at his breakfast, his mind filled with the memories of Hakkai's quiet speech the night before, Gojyo didn't even taste his food. He felt Hakkai's eyes on him, his brown furrowed in concern as Gojyo moved his food around on his plate. Gojyo smiled at Hakkai, noticing how soft Hakkai's brilliant eyes went when he saw Gojyo smile. A flutter deep in his belly made his hands shake as he shifted the chopsticks in his hands.

"Let's go. I want to make good time today." Sanzo snatched the bill from the table and took it to the register. Goku made a last grab at any remaining food, shoving it in his mouth as he scrambled to catch up with Sanzo. Rising from the table, Hakkai pushed in his chair and took a last sip of his morning tea. Tilting his head to the side, Hakkai looked at Gojyo, concern back in those fathomless eyes. Gojyo tossed his chopsticks down and got up, motioned for Hakkai to go and then following Hakkai out of the restaurant.

Climbing into Jeep, the four of them left the little town far behind them in just a few short hours. Mile after mile, Gojyo watched the woods fly by but he didn't really see them. Usually, Gojyo would have been bored after the first hour and he and Goku would start picking on each other.

"Are we ever gonna stop for lunch?" Goku was laying over the side of Jeep, snatching up long strands of grass and toying with them. "It's been hours since we had break…"

SMACK!!

"Shut up! I told you we were stopping by a creek and we're not there yet!" Turning back around in his seat, Sanzo once again stuffed his hands up his sleeves.

"Only a few more miles to go, Goku." Hakkai shifted in his seat, rolling his shoulders to ease the cramps that had set in. "I bought lots of food at the last town and we can have a picnic, ok?"

Goku cheered and bounced around in his seat for a few minutes until a glare from Sanzo made him settle down once again. Humming to himself, Goku leaned over the side of Jeep, resuming his game of grabbing weeds and twisting them into rope.

Goku really was a simple creature, Gojyo thought to himself. Give him a couple of meat buns and the kid's happy. Put him in a room for the night with Sanzo and the brat's downright ecstatic. Let him fight the strongest youkai and he won't shut up about it for a week. Smiling, Gojyo watched Goku tug at weeds and thought how much like a little brother the squirt was to him.

The sound of rushing water reached Gojyo's ears. This must be the creek that Hakkai mentioned but by the sound of it, the creek was probably more like a river. Hakkai turned left and went as far into the woods as Jeep could go, stopping in front of a huge tree that seemed to go on forever.

Sanzo climbed out of Jeep, muttering about alone time but Goku ignored him and tagged along with the tired blonde monk. Stretching his arms above his head, Hakkai sighed as his cramped muscles painfully stretched themselves back into their original position. He climbed out of Jeep and began to unload their satchels and food supplies, the signal that Jeep would be reverting to his dragon form.

"Are you hungry, Gojyo?" Hakkai riffed through the satchels, bringing out boxes of treats for Goku that he must have bought in the last town. Crackers, cheese cubes, cut up raw vegetables and other nutritional food. But, he didn't forget the treats that Goku loved. A dozen cupcakes sat next to the raw vegetables.

"Nah. I'm not hungry right now. I'm not like the monkey with an endless stomach." Gojyo lit a cigarette. "I am hot and dirty, though. That inn we stayed at last night was shit." Exhaling out smoke, Gojyo took the largest satchel and placed it under the tree, dried pine needles crunching under his booted feet. "I'm not picky, but hell, even I have standards."

"I'm not very hungry either." Hakkai smiled at Hakuryu as the little dragon tried to pick up the smallest satchel. Unfortunately, the smallest satchel was the size of the dragon and Hakuryu barely got a foot off the ground before he came crashing back down, landing ungracefully on top of the bag. "Here, I'll take that, Hakuryu." Picking up the satchel, Hakkai ran his hands over Hakuryu's head, receiving a tired purr from the creature. "You're tired."

"Poor guy. It's been a rough couple of days for him." Gojyo scratched under Hakuryu's chin. Hefting him up, Gojyo set Hakuryu on his shoulder. "Come on, you two. Let's go check out the creek and see if we can get cleaned up."

"I'll bring the soap and shampoo and a change of clothes for all of us." Groaning as he bent down, Hakkai started to unzip the smallest satchel. A heavy hand on his shoulder stopped him. "What's wrong, Gojyo? Don't tell me you forgot to pack the soap and shampoo."

"No, it's packed." Waiting for Hakkai to stand back up, Gojyo struggled to come up with the right words. "You're always taking care of our needs first and then, you think about yourself. You're tired too. Take Hakuryu and I'll bring our stuff."

A warm smile lit up Hakkai's face, making Gojyo's heart beat a little faster. "Thank you, Gojyo." Turning, Hakkai went in the direction of the creek, talking to Hakuryu in that strange purring language that the two of them communicated in. Soon, Hakkai was out of sight and Gojyo repacked the food, snatched up all of their bags and followed the path to the creek.

Goku had taken off his clothes and was splashing around in the swollen creek, wearing just his boxers. The water covered his legs up to his knees and although the creek was higher than normal, it wasn't dangerous. Grinning as he spotted Gojyo and Hakkai, Goku waded his way to the bank of the creek.

"Come on in! The water isn't cold and it feels really good." Letting out a loud whoop, Goku went back to the center of the creek and sat down. "It's like taking a bath in a whirlpool!"

Hakuryu flew from Hakkai's shoulders and landed in a little pool that had formed about 20 feet away from where Hakkai stood. The little dragon splashed around, getting himself clean. A laugh from Gojyo turned his attention away from Hakuryu. Sanzo had dug out his bathing suit from one of the satchels and was heading behind a large bush.

"What the hell are you doing? Just go in with your boxers, like us." Gojyo had stripped down to his boxers. The black ones. The black ones that hung off of his lean hips, showing the twin dimples on his lower back, just above the waistband.

"Shut up!" Sanzo's blonde head rose above the bushes. "I don't wear boxers."

"Then what do you wear?"

"Nothing."

Hakkai laughed at the look of disbelief on Gojyo's face.

Slinging his arm around Hakkai's shoulders, Gojyo leaned his bare chest against Hakkai's shoulder. "No wonder he's so damn cranky all the time. I'd be cranky too if my dick was always sore." Gojyo went into the warm water. "Come on, Hakkai! Get undressed and get the hell in here." A big splash of water hit him full in the face. Goku had taken a handful of water and splashed Gojyo right in the face.

Gojyo sputtered and wiped the water from his eyes. Goku was holding his belly, laughter bubbling over as he stood in the middle of the creek. Having changed, Sanzo stood at the edge of the creek, his toes in the warm water, watching the two splash each other.

"It's like taking two five year olds out for a swim." Despite his words, Sanzo had a small smile on his face. He waded out in the creek, moving away from Gojyo and Goku, determined not to get involved in the fun.

Hakkai took off his green tunic top and folded it neatly under a tree. He did the same with the black shirt he wore under the green one and also folded it, placing it on top of the green shirt. Shoes and socks were next and then he took off his jeans. Goku and Gojyo's clothes were scattered all over the place. Hakkai gathered them up and folded them, placing them next to his.

Hakuryu finished his bath and flew over to the pile of clothes, laying down for a nap. The little dragon watched with sleepy eyes as Hakkai went to the edge of the creek and dipped his one big toe in the water.

It really was warm but not too warm that they couldn't get cooled off. Watching Gojyo splashing around in just his boxers did something to Hakkai's lower belly. Drops of water clung to Gojyo's skin and his boxers molded themselves to Gojyo's firm bottom. Gojyo reached up and his boxers dropped a bit, his sharp hip bones peeking out.

"Are you just gonna stand there all day?" Gojyo stood in front of Hakkai. His hair was wet and the color had turned to almost a ruby color. "Get your ass in here!" Flicking water from his fingers at Hakkai, Gojyo laughed.

"Don't rush me, Gojyo. I like to get adjusted to the water a bit at a time." Hakkai crossed his arms over his chest. "Some of us aren't water sprites, you know."

"Oh, big talk from a dude whose toes are barely in the water."

Moving forward, Hakkai stopped when the water covered his ankles. "There, happy now?"

"Nope."

In a flash, Hakkai was engulfed in Gojyo's arms. Too shocked to move, he didn't struggle and his mouth gaped open. Walking backwards, Gojyo soon had the two of them in the middle of the creek and was moving to deeper water. With his arms pinned to Gojyo's chest, Hakkai couldn't move his upper body and he didn't want to kick Gojyo with his legs.

"G…Gojyo! Put me down!"

"Nope. If you won't get wet on your own, I'm gonna make you get wet!" Their faces were mere inches apart. "Watcha think about that?" Gojyo's voice had dropped until it was low and seductive.

Letting Hakkai down until his feet touched the sandy floor of the creek, Gojyo still held onto Hakkai's body, his arms still wrapped around Hakkai but not as tightly as they had been. The coolness of Gojyo's wet chest was seeping into Hakkai's skin, making a slight shiver run through Hakkai. He hoped Gojyo didn't mistake the shiver for something else, something passionate. As much as he loved Gojyo, the last thing Hakkai wanted was to drive his best friend away. Although Hakkai considered himself pretty good at reading people, he was blind to Gojyo's feelings.

Their eyes searched each others, darting back and forth, trying to see what the other was thinking. Gojyo's breathing was slightly labored from carrying Hakkai all this way. Being this close to Hakkai, both of them wearing such little clothing, was affecting Gojyo a lot more than he thought it would.

Gojyo's eyes weren't entirely red. That thought flew across Hakkai's mind. He should really be struggling to get away from Gojyo's embrace but it just felt so right, being in Gojyo's arms. Strong arms, arms that would hold the nightmares away, arms that would hold you up when you just couldn't go on anymore. Gojyo blinked and Hakkai refocused on those sunset red eyes. His eyes were mostly red but they had tiny chips of black in the iris.

Gojyo blinked again and drew Hakkai closer to him. Hakkai's hands uncurled and he placed the flat of his palms on Gojyo's shoulders. The palms of his hands were so warm and Gojyo wondered if that warmth was somehow related to Hakkai's chi. That chi that Hakkai used to heal or to harm.

A few weeks ago, Gojyo had pulled a muscle in his back and had asked Hakkai to look at it. He could remember Hakkai's hands, trembling, as they lay lightly on his back, searching for the torn and bruised muscle. While Hakkai's hands were softer than his own, they were no means feminine in anyway. Those hands prodded and poked at his back until, when Gojyo thought his teeth were going to break from him gritting and grinding them together, a sudden warmth moved over his skin, sinking deep into the torn muscle.

He had groaned and immediately relaxed under Hakkai's touch. The chi from Hakkai flowed from his fingers deep into the muscles of Gojyo's back, the sensation almost erotic in it's own way. Gojyo had quickly fallen asleep while Hakkai had healed him.

A drop of water teetered on the edge of one of Gojyo's long eyelashes. Hakkai had a wild urge to kiss that single drop away, to get his first taste of Gojyo's body. The drop fell onto Gojyo's sharp cheekbone and meandered downward, down past the hollow of Gojyo's cheek, past the few whiskers that Gojyo missed when he'd shaved this morning, until the drop of water ended up on Gojyo's jaw. It quivered for just a second and then, it was gone.

"Hakkai?"

The sound of his name brought Hakkai's eyes up to meet Gojyo's again. Gojyo's face was closer to his than it had been a few minutes ago. Gojyo's mouth parted slightly and Hakkai opened his mouth as well. Their breaths mingled as their mouths got closer. Hakkai's breathing got faster as he realized that Gojyo was going to kiss him, really kiss him. A kiss that would consume him, pull his soul out and lay it bare before Gojyo. The kind of kiss that he'd been dreaming of for so long.

The black pupils of Hakkai's one good eye dilated until it threatened to take over the green iris. Gojyo could see Hakkai's pulse throb under his skin at Hakkai's neck and could feel his heartbeat so close to Gojyo's own. If Gojyo didn't know any better, he would think that Hakkai's physical reaction to being held like this was that Hakkai was in danger of passing out. From listening to Hakkai last night, Gojyo knew that Hakkai welcomed this but he didn't know that Gojyo wanted this as well. His back arching, trying to get closer to Gojyo, Hakkai's lips opened wider at the same time, welcoming the kiss that was to come.

"Sanzo! I didn't mean it! No!! No!" Goku's voice broke through the spell that had woven itself around Gojyo and Hakkai. "I wasn't trying to trip you, I swear! Gojyo! Hakkai! Help me!" The younger man's laughter shot through the trees.

Breaking free from Gojyo's arms was easy. As soon as he heard Goku's voice, Gojyo slackened his arms, allowing Hakkai to race off. Shit. If it wasn't for that brat, he and Hakkai would be kissing right now. Sighing, Gojyo dropped to the sandy bottom of the creek, hoping the slightly cool water would bring his raging hard-on down.

"No, it's not me he wants. I'm just a substitute for a woman, a convenient body to slake his lust for the moment. There's no way he could love me." Sinking to his knees, Hakkai covered his face with trembling hands. "No one could love me with my past." The water moved over his body but Hakkai didn't notice. He was too busy trying not to cry.

An hour later, they were back in Jeep. They had eaten, Goku stuffing himself with the cupcakes until his little belly stuck out. Before sunset, Hakkai pulled into the next town and found an inn for the night. The girl at the front desk told them that there were several youkai on the prowl and Sanzo decided that they would double up in the rooms.

"I'm with Sanzo tonight!" Goku scooped up his and Sanzo's bags and ran for their room.

Grabbing his bag, Hakkai said not a word to Gojyo as he left for their room, Hakuryu perched on his shoulder. Gojyo watched Hakkai's back as he walked down the hall to their room. Shoulders back, his back ramrod straight and his steps were quick and clipped.

"Gojyo, if it's all right with you, I'm going to take a shower." He didn't wait for an answer and he still wouldn't meet Gojyo's eyes. If Gojyo had looked into Hakkai's emerald green eyes at that moment, he would have seen pain piercing those beautiful eyes.

After dinner, Hakkai and Gojyo went back to their room. They talked a little but neither of them brought up the almost kiss of this afternoon. Hakkai undressed for bed and Gojyo went in for his shower. The mood in the room was thick and restless, somehow.

"You almost kissed me today."

Half asleep, Gojyo was just about to ask Hakkai to repeat himself but he clamped his mouth shut. His back was to Hakkai and Gojyo waited, trying to keep his breathing even as he feigned sleep.

"You have no idea how long I've wanted to kiss you. How long I've wanted to feel your body next to mine. I dream about it. You've replaced my nightmares about Kanan. I no longer wake up, sweating and shaking, reliving her death over and over again."

A soft rustling of the sheets reached Gojyo's ear. They had separate beds tonight, a single nightstand between their beds. Hakkai must be adjusting the covers.

"Now, I dream of you. I dream I'm touching your hair, letting the ends slip through my fingers. I kiss the twin scars on your cheek, hoping that my touch eases the ache of those scars. In my dreams, rainy nights aren't a torment to me anymore. Instead of sitting by the window, watching the rain run down the panes, I dream that I'm in your arms, our bodies curled against each other as you whisper in my ear that you love me."

Gojyo grinned at the images Hakkai's words conjured up in his mind. Things that he'd been thinking of too. Touching Hakkai's face, removing his monocle as he moved in for a searing kiss. Holding Hakkai, watching the rain pouring down while they talked quietly. Kissing Hakkai, up against a wall while their bodies writhed against each other.

Another sound of the covers, this time longer.

"It's my other dreams I have about you that leave me breathless." The sound of skin against skin. "Dreams that won't disappear once I wake up." Hakkai's voice rose a bit, but it was still very quiet in the dark room. "In one dream, you and I are walking in the woods. You back me up against a very large, very old tree. Your jacket is off, laying somewhere down by my feet and you come closer to me, your eyes shining in the shade of the tree." Hakkai let out a ragged moan.

Gojyo stilled as he realized what Hakkai was doing. He was jerking off to one of his dreams. Just the thought of Hakkai touching himself made Gojyo hard and he snaked his hand quietly under the covers. As quiet as he could, Gojyo wrapped his calloused hand around his cock and began to stroke himself, letting Hakkai's words create erotic pictures in his mind.

"You have one arm on the tree and the other is touching my hair. We kiss." Hakkai moans louder and then stops talking. Was that a sound from Gojyo's bed? Turning his head, he looks but Gojyo's back is all he can see. Perhaps it was the wind or a dog barking somewhere in the distance.

The thought of kissing Hakkai forces a groan of lust from Gojyo's throat and he's pretty sure Hakkai notices. After a few seconds, he can hear Hakkai touching himself again. In his mind's eye, Gojyo sees Hakkai, nude, thrusting up into his hand, pre-come glistening at the head. A shiver goes through his body and he's jerking off harder.

"Our clothes have disappeared and I'm still standing against the tree. You're on your knees, your fingers ghosting over my flesh as you tell me you love me. My head goes back as I feel the first touch of your lips on my erection." His cock is dripping and Hakkai spreads the liquid over his cock and his breathing is labored. "Finally, you take me in your mouth and my knees start to shake. Your mouth is so hot and you're doing things to me I never thought would be possible. My hands go to your hair and I grab handfuls while I hold myself up."

"I'm so deep within your mouth and you swallow around me. I open my eyes and look down and see that you're just as hard as me and I want to taste you, like you're tasting me." The whispered words grow rougher. "You take yourself in hand and stroke your…cock. Oh, Gojyo."

His name is growled out and Gojyo can feel his balls tightening up. It's as if Hakkai knows just what to say to push him over the edge. Tomorrow, come hell or high water, he's telling Hakkai how he feels about him. There's no way he can sleep in the same room with him anymore without confessing.

"Slicking up one finger, you press it against my bottom and before I can think, you're thrusting that digit up inside me. Suddenly, I'm coming, my come spurting down your…throat…oh…oh…ah…." With a gasp, Hakkai comes, spurting come over his hand and onto his belly.

From his bed, Gojyo's toes curl and he follows Hakkai, spilling himself into the palm of his hand. Desperately, he tries to keep his breathing soft and even but he's beyond the point of caring if Hakkai hears him. His body quivers as he comes down from his orgasm and vaguely, he hears Hakkai get out of bed and go to the bathroom.

Gojyo rolls over and grabs a few tissues from the box on the nightstand and cleans up the best as he can. The covers are back around his body when Hakkai emerges from the bathroom and settles down for the night.

"I wish I had the courage to tell you to your face how I feel about you. I wish I wasn't held back by fear." Once he was done fussing with the covers, Hakkai stretched his arms out in front of him, lay them down over his stomach and finally relaxed. "If you weren't who you are, I would have confessed long ago. Goodnight, Gojyo. I love you."

His body tense and his mind racing, Gojyo lay awake for a few hours, Hakkai's last few words banging around in his head.