Disclaimer: I do not own Saiyuki; that honour belongs to Katsuya Minekura. Warning for Sanzo's language.
Okay, this story is definitely all Vathara's fault. I was re-reading "Entanglements" (great Sanzo/Hakkai story, especially with the weirdness - I recommend it highly!), and I got to the part where Hakkai throws a youkai off Sanzo with a thought of "he's mine"... and my Hakkai!Bunny went, "Ooooh, I wanna do that!" This was the result.
Beta-ed by Vathara.
"You know, the bottle is not going to spontaneously combust no matter how hard you glare at it."
Hakkai blinked and looked up, surprised to see Gojyo standing by the table. Even more surprised because Gojyo hadn't come up on his right; he should have noticed him. "What?"
"You're glaring at that bottle as though you want to slice and dice it into small pieces," Gojyo elaborated, red eyes fixed on him. "Bad sake?"
Hm. Slicing and dicing into small pieces - yes, that did sound rather appealing. Perhaps Goku would be willing to help? It might be an effective teaching aid for the cooking lessons he had requested...
"Earth to Hakkai! You in there?"
Right. Gojyo. "I'm sorry, Gojyo - what were you saying?"
The hanyou growled as he dropped into the seat next to Hakkai. "What is wrong with you lately, Hakkai? You've been distracted, and doing a lot of glaring at inanimate objects."
"At this rate, Sun Yin should have no further objections to your vocabulary," Hakkai offered in an attempt to distract Gojyo. It was fairly transparent, but seeing as how Gojyo could go on for over an hour about all the 'improvements' he was making to himself for Sun Yin's sake, it might just work.
"Thank you, Hakkai, but we're not talking about me - we're talking about you. What is going on?"
Oh well. It had been worth a try. "Nothing important," Hakkai demurred.
"Not going to fly this time, Hakkai," Gojyo retorted. "Come on, talk to me." Then a look of dawning comprehension crossed his face. "Is it a girl?"
So close, and yet so far. But then, the hanyou never had given any indication of having certain youkai instincts. If he had... Well, if he did have those instincts, I suspect he'd know exactly what's 'wrong with me'. Goku does, after all. It's wrong with him as well. "Sorry, Gojyo, but it's not a girl. And even if it was... well, I have been married before." If there was one thing he valued about their journey west, aside from how it had deepened the bonds between the four of them, it was the fact that he could now think and talk about Kanan without feeling the anguish and despair he'd felt only two years ago. He still grieved for her, and always would, but he'd finally been able to move forward.
And then this had happened!
The unlucky sake bottle was the recipient of another glare. It might be satisfying to break it - throw it against the wall, or hit it with a chi blast - but he was the one who would end up cleaning it up, so it wasn't really worth it. Not to mention any satisfaction gained would be only momentary.
Hakkai resumed his daydream about the slicing and dicing idea. He'd have to thank Gojyo for that image... later, though.
"Hakkai! Damn it, you're doing it again! You don't stop it, I'm going to thump you with my shakujou!" Gojyo complained loudly.
He fought back a growl. It was definitely getting too loud in here, and he suddenly couldn't think with the scent of his own anger thick in the room. And he needed to think. If he stopped... Well, the results would likely be quite bloody. Pushing his chair back, Hakkai stood up and headed for the door. "I'm going for a walk."
The closing door cut off Gojyo's call.
It was raining, Hakkai realized, as he stood outside the house. Well, that was fine. It suited his mood. After all, it had been raining when he'd slaughtered the Hyakugan Maoh's clan.
Choosing a direction at random, Hakkai stalked off, needing to move to try and burn off some of his anger.
It was in no way logical, what he was feeling. He knew that. Because while he'd always been possessive, even as a child, he'd never been as bad as this - at least, not before he became youkai. But now... well, to paraphrase Goku, once youkai instincts laid a claim on someone or something, they did not let go. And when Sanzo had recited the sutra for Kanan, then defended him to the Sanbutsushin, Hakkai had very definitely laid claim to him. His instincts had, at least, and he hadn't been inclined to argue. And the Sanbutsushin had solidified that sense of claiming when they'd made Sanzo responsible for him.
All of which meant that as far as his instincts were concerned, Sanzo was his. He was willing to share Sanzo's attention and time with Goku - they'd hashed that out between them during that confusing first week, and besides, Sanzo was Goku's divinely appointed guardian. So Hakkai had managed to accept that Goku had an equal but different claim on the priest.
No one else was allowed, however - and that was where the current problem lay.
Even the thought of the man's name had Hakkai fighting the urge to remove his limiters and go 'play' a little with the arrogant priestling. Just a bit. He wouldn't scar Goku by insisting on the slicing and dicing...
The man had come to Chang'an and the Temple of the Setting Sun a month ago from the south, with the avowed purpose of studying under the revered Genjyo Sanzo; but it had been very clear to anyone with eyes that it wasn't Sanzo's mind that he was interested in - no, he seemed focused on sharp violet eyes and golden blond hair... and he was annoyingly persistent. He obviously felt that no one could resist him for long, and that he had a right to expect that Sanzo would fall for his charms.
Sanzo had provided him with no encouragement whatsoever, of course; he was doing his usual discouragement of ignoring the moron, and going for his gun when Hong Chao got too close. But the priestling didn't seem to be capable of taking 'no' for an answer.
Which of course only made both Hakkai and Goku - but especially Hakkai - angrier. Not only was Hong Chao going after what was his, but he was pushing the issue when Sanzo wanted him to stop.
And to make things worse, the vast majority of the priests in the Temple of the Setting Sun were blind. They didn't see what Hong Chao was really after; they only saw the honour of having a southerner come here to study, because of Sanzo. So they encouraged the priestling. (They ignored the fact that they themselves were terrified of Sanzo - but they seemed to do that most of the time, Hakkai had noticed.)
And thinking about this was only making his temper grow, but he truly couldn't help it. It was the issue on his mind.
Then he noticed where he was walking.
He and Gojyo lived on the outskirts of Chang'an, which meant that the forest that surrounded the city was only a short walk away, and as chance would have it, in the direction he'd chosen to walk. Which meant he had been provided with a perfect solution to his current state of rage: target practice.
Yes, it would be very satisfying to find some dead trees and pretend they were Hong Chao. It might even calm him down some.
A goal now in mind, Hakkai stalked into the forest in search of a target.
"You want me to what?" Sanzo demanded flatly, staring at Gojyo.
"Talk to Hakkai," Gojyo repeated, shoving one hand nervously through red hair. "He's been acting weird lately. He's distracted, and glaring at things all the time. You know Hakkai. He doesn't glare! That's your thing!"
"Your vocabulary improvements are truly impressive," Sanzo stated sarcastically. Fuck. As if he didn't have enough on his plate already, now the hanyou wanted him to deal with a raging, jealous youkai? Goku was bad enough. He really didn't need to be trying to talk Hakkai down on top of that.
"Shut up, monk, and listen," Gojyo snapped back. "He's really losing it. I tried talking to him this afternoon, and I don't think he even heard half of what I was saying!"
"Probably ignoring you," Sanzo said dismissively, turning back to the pile of paperwork on his desk. Maybe if he did that, the hanyou would take the hint and leave him alone. "It's what I'd do."
Before Gojyo could reply to that, the door of his office was flung open and an overly-hyper Goku raced in. "Sanzo, Sanzo, Sanzo! Look at what I found!" his ward said, and thrust his hands in front of Sanzo's face.
It was a stone. Goku probably thought it was pretty - it was an amethystine colour; but it was just a stone.
"What is it, monkey?" Gojyo asked, diverted.
Unfortunately, Sanzo suspected that his diversion wouldn't last long. Not when Goku was acting just as bad as Hakkai, if in a different way.
"None of your business, cockroach kappa. I'm showing it to Sanzo. See, Sanzo?" The stone was thrust even closer to his eyes.
"It's a stone," Sanzo stated. If these two got into one of their typical arguments, they would get loud, raise a ruckus, and that moron would undoubtedly show up - which would get on his last nerve, as well as make Goku even worse.
"But see! It's the same colour as your eyes!"
He supposed it was. But it was still just a stone.
"Oooh, has someone got a little crush?" Gojyo asked, grinning evilly.
No, that's Hakkai. Not that I'd call it 'little'...
"Shut up, kappa!" Goku snarled.
Oh, that will convince him, Sanzo thought in irritation. He could foresee many hours of teasing following on from this. As if their arguments weren't bad enough already.
Gojyo looked taken aback at the ferocity of Goku's response for a moment; then his grin widened. "Someone has a crush, someone has a crush," he chanted.
Sanzo leaned forward and grabbed the neck of Goku's shirt just in time, as the enraged youkai lunged for Gojyo. Not that he would care if Goku beat the hanyou up, but once he came back to his senses, Goku would. "Stop that, monkey!" he snapped, then turned to Gojyo. "If I were you, I'd get out."
"What's with him?" the hanyou demanded instead, pointing at Goku, who was snarling and struggling against Sanzo's grip - though not with his full strength. At least he knew who was holding him. "He's acting as crazy as Hakkai!"
And you're only just noticing this? Sanzo felt like rolling his eyes. The way Goku entered the room should really have been the hanyou's first clue; the monkey wasn't sixteen anymore! For that matter... Gojyo had been around occasionally in the last few weeks - after all, Hakkai was making it a point to visit at least once a day. Hadn't he been paying attention?
This is Gojyo. Idiot, remember? The one who has only just noticed how Hakkai - whom he lives with - is acting? Of course he hasn't been paying attention.
Just then Goku - who had still been struggling - froze, his expression intent as he looked towards the door of the office.
Letting go of the monkey's collar, Sanzo sat back down in his chair and piled the paperwork that had been scattered all over his desk into a tall pile right in front of him. With both Goku and Gojyo there, if he at least appeared busy, Hong Chao should leave him alone.
Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed that Gojyo was looking even more confused. Well, he was about to get some answers - even if he didn't understand them.
The door opened again, and an unfortunately familiar robed figure came in. "Sanzo-sama?"
"Busy," Sanzo growled.
"Yeah, he's busy," Goku said, his tone obnoxious and challenging. If he'd been talking to Gojyo, the two of them would have already been rolling around on the floor trying to beat each other unconscious. Then he appeared to brighten. "Hey, have I shown you my Nyoi-bo?"
Considering that they had yet to find Hong Chao unconscious and beaten to an absolute pulp, the answer to that was undoubtedly 'no'. Just like not finding him burned to a crisp or sliced to ribbons meant that Hakkai hadn't decided to show him how to use chi, or what he looked like as a youkai. Both of which Goku had suggested yesterday. In Hakkai's earshot.
At least Hong Chao was intelligent enough to recognize that as a threat. Perhaps it was the way Goku had greeted him. Or maybe it was the way the idiot kappa was eyeing them. But then, he was a moron, not stupid. If he'd been stupid, someone would have undoubtedly killed him before he made it to the Temple. (Or he wouldn't have been sent at all.) Which would have at least saved Sanzo the headache his presence was producing...
"No, but that's quite all right, Goku-kun," Hong Chao assured him. "I'll stop by when you're not so busy, Sanzo-sama." With a wave, he left.
Sanzo silently resolved to start bugging the Sanbutsushin for another mission. Maybe they might need him to go back to India to see how Kougaiji was doing with the reconstruction?
"Huh. That was that Hung Chow guy, right?" Gojyo asked.
"Yes." Sanzo didn't bother to correct the hanyou's mispronounciation of the man's name. Whether or not it was on purpose, it had Goku giggling, which meant the monkey was no longer ready to go for someone's throat. Which was a good thing. Mostly.
"I can see why Hakkai called him 'smarmy'," the hanyou continued thoughtfully.
And you still don't know what's bothering him? Sanzo stared at him in disbelief. Hakkai never insulted people - unless they were particularly stupid enemies. He seemed to believe firmly that if he couldn't say anything nice about someone, he shouldn't say anything at all.
"Surely you've told him to cut out the '-sama' bit?"
Yes, he had. It hadn't worked.
"And why is he using Japanese honourifics anyway?" Gojyo added, sounding confused. "He's not like Hakkai. I thought the guy was supposed to be from southern China?"
"He's trying to impress with his erudition," Sanzo replied. At Gojyo and Goku's confused looks, he rolled his eyes and explained, "He's showing off his education." Eyeing the paperwork pile for a moment, he decided to leave it. With any luck, it would multiply until he would be officially 'too busy' for the next year to deal with Hong Chao. Once the moron left, he could always dump some of it on the priests here to deal with...
"Funny, I thought he was supposed to be here to get educated," Gojyo commented.
"Supposedly," Sanzo agreed dryly, standing up. "You said you wanted me to talk to Hakkai?"
"Ye-es..." Gojyo appeared somewhat confused by Sanzo's return to the previous topic.
Idiot. "Then let's go."
"Um... Sanzo, it's raining," Goku pointed out hesitantly.
Now that he looked, Sanzo could see the signs that the monkey had hastily gotten dried off - his hair was still wet. That might have stopped him under ordinary circumstances, explaining why Goku had been so reluctant to mention it. But to avoid Hong Chao... "Then you'd better get the umbrellas."
Hakkai licked the last of the blood off his lips as he approached the door to the house, slowly clipping his limiters back on.
Despite the fact that the Minus Wave had been stopped, and the youkai restored to sanity, Hakkai still tended to be reluctant to take his limiters off. For one thing, there was the human fear-inspired backlash against the youkai, because of what the Minus Wave had done - stopping the insanity had only eased that backlash of hatred slightly, not stopped it. For another - Hakkai still had some trouble accepting that he was youkai. He didn't hate that fact any longer, but he still hadn't completely accepted it. (Despite Sanzo's continuing blunt efforts, the effects of the Minus Wave definitely hadn't helped that matter.)
However, he'd had so much anger to burn off that targeting dead trees hadn't helped as much as he'd hoped. Then he'd spotted a rabbit in the undergrowth, and, well... Hakkai glanced ruefully at the load he was carrying in a basket he'd improvised from the leaves of a canebrake bamboo. It seemed likely that he and Gojyo were going to be living on rabbit stew and roast rabbit for a while. They'd have to invite Goku over for dinner a few times.
Opening the door and walking in, Hakkai was surprised to hear Sanzo's voice from the sitting room. What had brought him here? And in the rain, no less, he realized, spotting the two umbrellas by the door. Sanzo still hated the rain with a passion.
"Hi, Hakkai!" came Goku's voice as the youkai poked his head into the room. "Where have you- whoa!" His eyes widened at the sight of the rabbit carcasses. "Did you buy them in the market? You must have spent a lot!"
"No," Hakkai admitted, heading for the kitchen, through the sitting room. "I... did some hunting in the forest."
Gojyo was sitting in his usual chair, the table in front of him occupied with cards. Sanzo was sitting opposite him, a cigarette in his mouth and a can of beer in the hand that wasn't holding his own cards. Both of them looked up as he came in, and Sanzo's eyes narrowed suspiciously.
"Sanzo, it's good to see you," Hakkai called over his shoulder as he entered the kitchen, ignoring the suspicion. "You too, Goku. Are you staying for dinner? I'm going to be making roast rabbit."
"Of course we are," Goku piped up. "Right, Sanzo?"
"Yes," Sanzo said simply. "Sit down. It's your turn, monkey."
"So," Hakkai continued, as he got out the appropriate knife to begin preparing the meat - he'd used his claws to skin them, but that hadn't been the best tool for the task - "what brings you here, this early in the afternoon? Somehow I doubt it was to play poker."
"Oh, his holiness here is escaping from this moron," Gojyo declared. "Name of Hung Chow, or something like that. You're right about him being smarmy, Hakkai-"
Gojyo probably went on, but his words were lost in the rush of red rage Hakkai had last felt when the villagers had told him that Kanan had been given to the Hyakugan Maoh's men - only what felt like a hundred times stronger. The Temple was Sanzo's territory. To hear that he'd been forced to leave in order to escape Hong Chao... Hakkai's hand went for his limiters without a second thought. It was time he showed this upstart what was necessary to earn the title 'thousand-slayer'-
His wrist was grabbed before his fingers reached his limiters.
"Don't you dare," Sanzo growled in his ear from behind him. "Do you hear me, Hakkai?" There was a momentary pause, and then Sanzo's hand tightened on his wrist. "I said, do you hear me, Hakkai?"
The realization that Sanzo was waiting for an answer pushed its way past the red rage. "Yes," he managed to get out.
"Good." Sanzo forcibly pushed his hand down a centimetre or two. "If I let go, are you going to try to remove your limiters again?"
Hakkai snarled, though it wasn't directed at Sanzo. "He's chasing you out of your territory. No one does that!"
Sanzo's hand tightened again - a bit more this time. "I do not need you to defend me, Hakkai," he hissed. "And unless you promise me you will not take your limiters off right now, I'm not letting go."
He could push Sanzo away, so easily. Even with the limiters, he had more physical strength than any human. But... this was Sanzo. He couldn't hurt Sanzo - and if he tried to do anything, he would. Hakkai shivered with the force of the two opposing instincts as he stood deadlocked.
"Are you listening to me, Hakkai?"
"Yes." He couldn't say anything else; everything was locked behind the possessive red rage. But Sanzo was... he was Sanzo. Hakkai could always hear him. To do otherwise would hurt him.
"Are you going to promise me?"
He shivered again. "Can't."
"Hakkai. If you kill the moron, it will be murder. I've had to defend you in front of the Sanbutsushin once already. If I have to do it again, I will be pissed off."
And disappointed, the thought pierced the rage. He saved you once; doing this, forcing him to save you like that again, would be saying that what he did meant nothing.
He could live with the guilt for killing his neighbours, and the result of killing the Hyakugan Maoh's people (even if he hadn't fully accepted the latter yet). But he couldn't live with Sanzo's disappointment.
Hakkai took a deliberately deep breath, held it for a five-count, then let it out slowly, all the while reminding himself that if Sanzo didn't see it as being chased out of his territory, neither should he. Even if it was...
And thoughts like that were not helping him calm down. The recognition of Sanzo's potential disappointment was, however, so Hakkai focused on that.
It took another several deep breaths, but Hakkai finally managed to get enough control of himself to try lowering his hand. The moment he did, Sanzo let go, and came around to face him.
The priest was angry - but it wasn't the type of anger Hakkai feared, just his normal 'pissed off at the world's idiocy' irritation, ramped up a bit. "Idiot. You're just lucky that Goku kept Gojyo distracted," he hissed quietly. "Since you don't seem to want him to know about this."
Hakkai felt himself flush, even as he could suddenly hear the argument that was taking place in the sitting room. Caught in the rage, he'd been utterly oblivious to the raised voices. "It's none of his business," he pointed out weakly. Gojyo was his friend, and an... acquaintance of Sanzo's; that alone made it partly the hanyou's business.
"But it is mine." Sanzo's expression hardened. "Considering it's about me."
His flush deepened. He'd known that Sanzo suspected something, even before what had just happened... but he hadn't known that Sanzo knew why he was acting like this. Though I should have, considering Goku's doing the same...
But he can't know everything - or he'd be shooting. Or running away from you as fast as he is from Hong Chao.
Well, maybe not that last. The problem with Hong Chao was that he was chasing Sanzo - and after Sanzo had made it quite clear that he was not interested, to boot. Hakkai had him. And if it wasn't in all the ways he was interested in... well, that was fine. He still had Sanzo. But yes... he'd probably be shot - hopefully somewhere non-fatal - if Sanzo knew about everything he wanted.
"The reason Gojyo even met the moron was because he came to the Temple this morning to ask me to talk to you about this," Sanzo continued. "I was going to say no... but it's obviously needed."
"Talking... won't help," Hakkai admitted. "It's not something I have much control over."
He should probably be irritated with Sanzo for that - and in any other circumstances, Hakkai knew, he would be. But right now, he couldn't. His instincts - the same ones that said that Hong Chao was trying to take Sanzo away from him - wouldn't let him do anything that might make Sanzo decide to negate his claim. Except be ready to kill Hong Chao, of course.
"It's instinct," he explained - or tried to, at least. But Sanzo wasn't youkai, and didn't know how powerful youkai instincts really were. He couldn't.
"That much is clear. It has both you and Goku acting like idiots, while the hanyou doesn't notice a thing." Sanzo scowled. "Until this morning, when your behaviour evidently became too obvious to ignore. So, what do you suggest we do about it, since the moron is - unfortunately - not going to go away?"
"I don't know what can be done about it," Hakkai returned. He was not going to bring the possibility of killing Hong Chao back up, since Sanzo had essentially forbidden it. Nor was he going to mention some of the other possibilities his mind had jumped to. That would get him shot. "I... emotion and instinct don't respond to logic."
Sanzo's frown deepened. "I'm talking about something practical, that will keep you away from the moron. Goku I can control, even if his 'twelve years old again' act is getting on my nerves. You?" He shook his head. "What just happened was a closer call than I like. I was starting to think I'd have to stand there holding your wrist all night."
Hakkai hesitated in answering for a moment as he suddenly realized that the red rage was actually ebbing. He'd been merely holding it back, with the points Sanzo had made and the breathing exercises, but now it was starting to disappear.
And why not? came the thought. Right now, Sanzo is focused entirely on you.
That... was a good point. Hakkai had tried to get that result with his recent daily visits to the temple, but perhaps he'd been going about things the wrong way. After all, Hong Chao was at the temple, which meant that he was making the classic mistake of bringing the fight to the enemy on the enemy's choice of ground. They'd done enough of that on the trip to India. Maybe if he changed the rules of engagement...
"Perhaps you could come here in the afternoons," he suggested. "After all, Goku has requested cooking lessons. And it will serve as a ready-made excuse to help avoid Hong Chao." Hakkai couldn't help but snarl at the man's name, but he figured Sanzo wouldn't mind that.
Sanzo nodded thoughtfully. "A reasonable idea," he approved. "You think it will help you maintain control?"
Hakkai nodded. "Yes, I suspect so."
"Sanzooo!" came a wail from the sitting room.
Sanzo's hands clenched into fists. "Agreed. The cooking lessons start now." He stalked into the sitting room, and a moment later Hakkai heard the thwack of Sanzo's harisen hitting two hard heads.
Goku came hurrying in a minute later. "Sanzo said we're going to start my cooking lessons!"
"Yes," Hakkai agreed. "The first one will be roast rabbit with braised vegetables and mochi for dessert."
"Yum!" Then Goku gave him a more serious look. "Sanzo says we're going to be coming over every afternoon for them."
"It gets him away from Hong Chao." Hakkai headed over to the cupboards and pulled out a roasting pan.
"And into your territory," Goku added seriously.
"Yes," Hakkai admitted.
The other youkai looked thoughtful for a moment, then nodded. "Good." Then he looked around the kitchen. "So, where do we start?"