Disclaimer:  Minekura Kazuya owns all that is Saiyuki.  Well…at least this version of it.  Moral of the story is that I don't own any version, not even the really old one where Hakkai is really a pig. 

Warnings:  Swearing, spoilers for vol.7 of the manga, and second season of the anime.   

Beneath the skin

Bouzu made it pretty plain from the start of this whole "West Quest" thing that at whatever inn or temple or whatever we stopped at that had indoor plumbing, he had first dibs on the bath.  No if, ands, or buts.  Hey, buts…butts…baths…heh heh…good one, Gojou.

That's always the way with the monk though.  All preachy and mighty and me first.  Hi, I'm Sanzou.  I have this mark, see, right here smack on my fuckin' forehead, and this mark, see, makes it so I'm waaaaaaaay above all you other people so that means I get to sit up front with Hakkai, and look like I'm smelling a bad fart all day long.  That, and always always the first fuckin' bath, no matter whoever stinks worse. 

'Course this time, it was Hakkai who stunk the worst.  Poor Hakkai was covered with shit, blood and guts, and…other stuff I don't even want to know about.  Even before Sanzou started to make his "I'm going to go bathe now so fuck off" face, Hakkai was halfway to the door, halfway out with his shit and his blood and his guts.  The innkeeper's face was classic though, when Hakkai asked in his always Hakkai way, "Excuse me.  Where would I find the bath?"  There he was, all covered with crap, and still polite enough to meet your mom.  Then off he went.  Didn't even ask bouzu.

I thought we'd just go upstairs then.  Goku was next to useless.  Kid was falling asleep on his feet.  But Sanzou gave me his "I'm going to go bathe now so fuck off" face, and headed after Hakkai.

"Oi, Hakkai's in there now."  I yelled. 

"Was I not in the room just now?  I know he's there.  I'm going in too."

"But you hate being with other people.  You always say that."

"Yeah, but Hakkai's not me."  Sanzou turned and started to leave.  "You of all people should know that." 

I knew that.  What the fuck's he talking about?  "What the fuck you talking about?" 

Bouzu gave me his usual glare and pointed at Goku.  "Get him upstairs before he falls and breaks something and we have to pay for it."  Then he was out the door.  The innkeeper yelled something after like, something about, "being too small for two."  I don't know.  I was too pissed to listen.  Too pissed to do anything but pick Goku up and drag him to our room and drop him on the bed.  Kid was gone.  But then, we all were.  It was a pretty fucking awful day. 

"Oi," I poke him, and he rolls over.  "You're gonna be sore if you sleep in your armor and shit."

"S'okay…" is all he says.  His voice is muffled underneath him.      

"Not if I have to hear it in the morning."  I dump his bag by his bed.  "Get changed then hit the hay like a normal person." 

He started to get up then.  He removed his shoulder armor, then his shirt, all really slow and sleepy.  I just kept pacing the room which was pretty easy since it was so friggen' small.  Four strides one way, four strides back, and then four back again.  I didn't know why I felt the sudden need to circle the room.  Just felt like it, so I did it. 

"What's wrong with you?"  Saru asked.  He was pulling on his T-shirt, and was doing a bang-up job with his arm hanging out the hole for the head. 

"What's wrong with you?"  I ask back.  I take his shirt and pull it off.  "Just…hold you head still for crying out loud."  For once he does something I ask without yelling back.  I slip it over his head and then hold up the sleeves.  "See these things?  You put your arms through them." 

He gives me this cross-eyed look.  "I know that."  And to prove his great dressing know-how, he shoots his arm through, and doing so, smacks me in the face.

"…wari, Gojou."  He looks down. 

He did look sorry, sorry and sleepy.  I just rub my cheek and throw him his shorts.  "If ya can't figure out those, yer outta luck, got it?"  Saru just nods and works at his pants. 

"So, what's wrong with you?"  He asks again.

"Nothing's wrong…"  I stop pacing and make a face at the door.  "I just want to take a bath and go to bed, but I just have to wait till the others are done."

"Just go."  Goku slipped on his shorts. 

"I have to wait until they're done."

Goku just shrugs and lies back down.  "Just go.  You stink." 

"I stink?  Listen you-" I turn around, but then just stop.  The kid was useless.  He was already asleep.

"Well, you know what?"  I said, pointing to the snoring saru, "you- you- "  Dammit, I was tired.  I can't even fucking name-call Goku.  I need to go to bed. 

I did stink though.  I felt it all over.  Stink and blood and just…sore. 

Just go. 

Fine.  I'll go. 

I grab my towel and sponge.  Just me, myself, and mine. 

And if he ain't done yet, well, too bad so sad.