9:00 PM

(Hour theme: Comprehension of universal truth)

Sanzo was experiencing a profound realization. Inspired by Gojyo's T-shirt.

He would have died before admitting this to anyone. He could barely cope with the idea himself. But he was past the point that he could deny it. An article of clothing had just brought about a revelation.

It was because Hakkai was wearing it. Which wasn't unusual-Sanzo had noticed, even before their journey west began, that the most comfortable of Gojyo's clothes tended to make their way (almost as if by their owd accord) into Hakkai's wardrobe. Right now, Hakkai was wearing the T-shirt as a pajama top, which was all normal and good. Except that tonight, it was pissing Sanzo off.

He tossed uncomfortably on his mattress, then stilled himself, looking sideways at Hakkai. He lay quiet in the other bed, no sign that Sanzo's restless movements had disturbed him. But Sanzo knew that Hakkai was a light sleeper, and also perceptive of the moods of those around him. The last thing Sanzo wanted was for him to wake up and ask what was wrong.

Still, it was hard not to give into the impulse to toss and turn as he wondered why, of all things, this particular bit of minutia had gotten under his skin. And then the revelation came.

He was jealous.

A man he happened to know-Sanzo didn't consider himself to have friends, so that was all Hakkai was-had fallen asleep wearing something that belonged to his roommate. So what was Sanzo supposed to feel jealous of? Gojyo's inability to defend his wardrobe? Sanzo had never envied the ability to share space that allowed people to casually borrow from each other. And he would shoot himself before he'd let someone micromanage his life the way Hakkai did Gojyo's.

What was it, then?

Forcing himself to be honest, Sanzo had to admit wearing someone else's clothes could be more than a symptom of living together. It could also be a gesture of intimacy; of possession. Hakkai was wearing another man's clothes, and that man wasn't Sanzo.

Sanzo clenched his fists, fighting the impulse to swear and/or shoot things. This was ridiculous. He would forget about it by morning. It had probably only happened because he was exhausted-they all were, in bed by nine because they hadn't had a night's sleep uninterrupted by assassins in over a week. Exhaustion could do strange things to a mind.

And yet...

As the night wore on and Sanzo was unable to fall asleep, his traitorous memory began to cough up proof that this sort of reaction to Hakkai wasn't actually all that abnormal. Wasn't that why he always maneuvered to have Hakkai for a roommate? Sure, Hakkai could be quiet-which was the reason Sanzo gave for his preference-but he could also be talkative when he wanted to, and it was easier to shut the other two up with the threat of bullets than to ignore Hakkai when he didn't choose to be ignored either. And it wasn't because Hakkai was the neatest of them, which was the other excuse Sanzo gave-Sanzo wasn't exactly a clean freak himself, so why deliberately room with the guy most likely to nag at him for not picking up his socks? Why hadn't somebody seen through his flimsy reasoning yet?

The most horrifying thought yet presented itself. Maybe somebody had noticed, and just valued life and limb too much to say anything. Maybe they all had noticed.

Sanzo's first, panicked thought was, I have to kill them all. Then he slammed his head against the bed in frustration, realizing he had allowed himself to get worked into a homicidal frenzy because of Gojyo's shirt. Pathetic. Pathetic that the thought of Hakkai sharing even the slightest, most ambiguous intimacy with a skirt-chasing buffoon should cause Sanzo to see red.

Perhaps he was making up implications that weren't there. Maybe Hakkai'd had that shirt for so long he didn't even remember it was Gojyo's. No, that was stupid. Hakkai never forgot anything; if Sanzo knew the shirt was Gojyo's, Hakkai certainly did. Sanzo tried again. Maybe Hakkai knew it was Gojyo's, but the reason he wore it was because it gave him a small sense of satisfaction to know he had successfully taken over possession of it. Living together could produce minor ongoing skirmishes like that, and Hakkai was one to express his victories subtly.

None of that matters, Sanzo reminded himself harshly. Whatever Hakkai's thoughts were, the problem was Sanzo's reaction. Searching himself, he realized he didn't feel irritated with Gojyo. Just Hakkai. He wanted Hakkai to... do what? Ditch the shirt? That wasn't it.

He just wanted Hakkai to be closer to him. More than to Gojyo, or to anyone. If Hakkai did something that might indicate, ever so subtly, that he belonged to someone else, it had to be him, dammit.


Even though Hakkai's voice had been quiet, Sanzo's hand shot to his gun. He looked at the other bed guiltily. Hakkai was looking at him intently, his face surprisingly different and open without his monocle. How long had Hakkai been watching him? "Is something wrong?" Hakkai inquired.

Unprepared for the intrusion into his thought process, Sanzo blurted out, "Why do you wear that shirt?"

Hakkai blinked and looked down at himself. "Ah... it's comfortable for sleeping." He cocked his head to one side. "Are you all right, Sanzo?"

Sanzo couldn't think of anything to say that would make his question sound normal. "Fine," he said succinctly.

"Can't you sleep?"

"Not while you're talking to me," Sanzo said pointedly.

Hakkai chose to take the hint and closed his eyes, settling more comfortably against the mattress. Sanzo closed his eyes too, thinking bleakly that tomorrow he would have to see about changing up the sleeping arrangements. Any annoyance the other two could produce was better than this new danger. A lack of proximity would take care of the problem.

He hoped.