Disclaimer: Kazuya Minekura owns Saiyuki. I do not.

Warning: The usual. In case there's any confusion, this arc has taken a mild 39 turn. It just snuck in there.

Notes: If Gojyo is beginning to come across as an asshole... Well, he is. XD Also, I go back to school in two days, so I may be updating this more frequently again. Gods know I need something to do in class...



August 2009

Why he had allowed himself to enroll in the same winter Biology class as these three rejects Sanzo couldn't say. He chalked it up to temporary insanity. If he was really honest with himself it was because of the pleading look in Goku's gold eyes. He never could stand up to those eyes.

Beside him, the monkey was amusing himself with what appeared to be a map of the destination for their field trip. Sanzo noted with unvoiced exasperation that the younger man was circling not sites of scientific interest but particularly interesting restaurants in the surrounding area.

A rough kick to the back of his seat jarred Sanzo out of his observations, and he didn't bother to turn and look behind him. Gojyo was no doubt bored and looking for entertainment of his own. Calmly flicking the redhead off over the back of his seat, Sanzo leaned against the window and watched the landscape roll by. It was ultimately bland and boring, but he had a feeling that the next few hours would bear nothing more noteworthy to look at, and his pride wouldn't allow him to stare at Goku that long.

"Oi, Blondie," came Gojyo's voice. When his roommate dropped his scavenging guide onto his lap and turned to acknowledge the roach, Sanzo felt that he had no choice but to follow suit. He turned to rest his back against the window, sliding one leg behind Goku, and glared over the back of the seat.

The redhead was grinning like a son-of-a-bitch, and that was never a good thing. "Whatever scheme you're cooking up back there, keep me and the monkey out of it," he drawled. Goku shot him an annoyed look but didn't undermine him.

Beside Gojyo, Hakkai shook his head and looked away. That sent another screaming red flag up in Sanzo's mind. If his own best friend wanted nothing to do with whatever it was that had Gojyo so riled up, it was best to follow his example. "Y'know the forest we're going to?"

"If you're referring to the giant patch of woods where we're spending the next three weeks without electricity, running water, or civilization, then yes," Sanzo replied archly.

"Yeah, well according to this awesome book I found in the library, that forest is haunted," he grinned, holding up an old, leather-bound volume tauntingly.

Beside him, Goku tensed up immediately, his eyes widening. "Haunted?" he asked quietly.

Sanzo rolled his eyes, cuffing his roommate across the back of his head. "Since when are insects literate?" He lunged across the back of his seat, snatching the book from Gojyo and dodging easily out of the way as the redhead tried to grab it back. Sanzo thumbed to the index, found a listing for their destination, and turned the pages until the name of the forest appeared in bold print.

After several minutes of violet eyes scanning text, Sanzo snapped the book shut and tossed it none-too-gently at the redhead. "It's a bunch of bullshit," he said to Goku. "Don't listen to him."

The monkey didn't look too reassured, though. And when Gojyo started reading carefully-selected passages from the book in a loud, dramatic voice, Sanzo ground his teeth together in aggravation and ignored the other man. It was harder to tune out the nervous apprehension tensing through Goku's lithe frame. The brunette looked terrified. In the back of a crowded university tour bus with Gojyo directly behind them was not really an appropriate place to console the younger man though, so Sanzo stared out his window at the snow-blanketed countryside rolling by.

That night Gojyo was too exhausted to actively torture the monkey. They all were. The class had spent the better part of two hours hiking through icy, rocky terrain to their campsite, then were abandoned by their guide and instructor to set up their own tents. To save them extra labor, Sanzo and his three friends had decided to bring one two-roomed tent. The blonde had instantly regretted that decision when Hakkai announced--too cheerfully for Sanzo's nerves--that the dividing wall was actually a mesh screen that afforded little privacy and absolutely no noise insulation.

All thoughts of Goku-sans-clothing up in smoke, the blonde had set out to forage for firewood, if for no other motivation than to get away from the irritating redhead, who was making ghoulish moaning and groaning noises at every available opportunity in lieu of jumping out of random places and scaring the Goku half to death. At this point Sanzo had no longer cared about random bear attacks or his grade point average--he had to put some distance between himself and Gojyo or risk picking up a murder charge.

By the time he made it back to camp with a meager armload of fire fuel Goku was white as a sheet and Hakkai was daring Gojyo with a frightening look to continue taunting the skateboarder. They were sitting around the crackling campfire, an awkward silence in the air, and Sanzo wondered for a brief moment if braving hostile wildlife and the elements wasn't a safer bet than spending the night in close proximity to these three.

Dinner was a modest affair, roasted hotdogs on sticks and a metal pot of Spaghettios heated over the fire. Stomach growling in protest, Goku crawled into the left side of the tent and passed out. After smoking one final cigarette with a strangely somber Gojyo, Sanzo decided to call it a night, as well.

Only, Goku was definitely not asleep when the blonde climbed into their half of the tent and zipped the flap behind himself. His roommate was wide-awake, laying on his sleeping bag and staring up at the ceiling canvas. "What's wrong?" Sanzo asked quietly, tugging off his boots. "This isn't about that stupid fucking book, is it?"

Hakkai and Gojyo were still sitting outside near the fire, so at least he didn't have to worry about the infuriating roach eavesdropping. He sat down on his own sleeping bag after pushing it up against the monkey's. If asked, Sanzo would insist it was only to share body heat--it was damned near forty degrees out tonight.

Sighing, Goku rolled onto his side and wrapped his arms around Sanzo's waist, burying his face in the man's lean stomach. "Maybe," he said miserably.

The Buddhism major groaned in exasperation. "Goku, I don't know why you let him get under your skin like that. He's just trying to scare you," he hissed. The blonde shoved his roommate away and slid into his own sleeping bag. "Go to sleep."

Goku looked over at him hopefully. "Can I sleep in there with you?" he asked. Sanzo was mildly impressed by his boldness, but ultimately not enough to relent.

"Absolutely not."

Defeated gold eyes looked down at Goku's own sleeping bag before rising to Sanzo's violet gaze. The little shit was being calculating about this. "Please?"

"One more word and you're sleeping outside," Sanzo growled. He shut his eyes, effectively making himself immune to Goku's resolve-destroying gaze, and decided to go to sleep before the monkey could start talking again. He certainly did not reach out and take Goku's hand and pull him closer and unzip his sleeping bag and shift over to make room for the warmth and comfort of his roommate's wiry frame. He definitely didn't let the idiot kiss him. And when Gojyo finally entered the opposite side of the tent and started talking shit about him, under no certain terms did Sanzo kick him in the stomach through the thin mesh dividing wall.

He most assuredly didn't smile when Goku grinned appreciatively against his throat at the howl of pain the redhead let out.