- Title: Goku's Birthday
- Author: Gonou's Girl
- Pairing(s): GojyoxHakkai, SanzoxGoku
- Rating: PG-13
- Summary or description: It's Goku's birthday, but this year it seems that everyone's getting a gift…
- Disclaimer: All characters owned by the magnificent Minekura-sama *bows down in reverence*
- Email: elphame_lives [at] msn [dot] com

- Setting: Sometime before they set off on the journey, because they're still living in Gojyo's house.

- Comments: This one took me over a week to write, which for me is LONG!

- Dedication: A HUGE arigatou gozaimasu to my sister, Gojyo's Girl, for suggesting I introduce a SanzoxGoku plot to the story – it SAVED the fanfic! You are the best ^_^

"Gojyo, could you pass me the cream and the strawberries please?"

   "For you, Hakkai? Anything."

   Gojyo passed the items across to Hakkai with a wink and Hakkai gave him the sort of disapproving look that made no effort to hide his amusement. He began adding the strawberries and cream to the cake, the final touches to what was going to be the centrepiece of the birthday celebration. Gojyo returned to what he'd been doing previously, desperately trying to untangle streamers and blowing up balloons, but he was doing a pretty shitty job of it. Most of the balloons were already looking wilted and certainly not up to party standard. Hell. At least the only guests would be Goku and Sanzo. Sanzo wouldn't give a shit about balloons – hell, he'd probably be happier if there weren't any balloons at all – and Goku would be far too interested in the food to even notice the decorations.

   Speaking of food, Gojyo abandoned the twisted streamers and let his gaze fall not-so-discretely on Hakkai. His long slender fingers were slowly and carefully smoothing down the cream, making sure it was perfect before he added the strawberries. Hakkai knew Goku had never celebrated a birthday before, and even though none of them had any idea when Goku's real birthday was, Goku had insisted one random day last year that it was his birthday and refused to be persuaded otherwise. Hakkai supposed it must have been the anniversary of the day Sanzo had freed him from the cage, although he had never verified this suspicion with Sanzo – he didn't think Sanzo would be very happy about the suggestion that Goku considered his birthday to be the day Sanzo had come into his life. The very thought of something so sentimental would probably be enough to make Sanzo drag Goku back to the cage simply to prove a point.

   Smiling to himself, Hakkai carefully placed the last strawberry on the cake and stepped back to admire his handiwork. The cake certainly looked delicious, but even though he had spent the last few hours baking it to perfection, he doubted that his effort would make much difference once it entered Goku's mouth; which it was sure to do extremely quickly.

   He looked up absentmindedly to where Gojyo was sat, and felt a pleased but embarrassed smile cross his features – Gojyo was, as he so often seemed to be, staring right at him. More to divert Gojyo's attention from himself than anything else, he put his hands either side of the cake. "Well, Gojyo – what do you think?"

   "Mmm. Good enough to eat," Gojyo replied, although he didn't seem to really be looking at the cake.

   "Well, that is the general idea, yes," Hakkai laughed lightly, feeling a slight heat rise in his cheeks. He lowered his gaze, grinning stupidly, and wandered over to where a large birthday banner that they'd made earlier was lying on the floor. It was still spattered with paint at one end where Gojyo had tried to initiate a paint fight. He was behaving even more childish and playful than usual, and it was most endearing. Hakkai supposed he had been infected by the birthday energy.

   Gojyo forced his gaze back to the bedraggled balloons with a child-like grin on his face. Good enough to eat... He chuckled. It was a good thing he was such a flirt or Hakkai would not have let such a blatant come-on go unnoticed. Not that Gojyo would complain if it had been noticed...

   Unable to keep his eyes on his work for even that short time, Gojyo dropped his hands to the floor and the balloon he'd been expanding gave a rather feeble squeal as what little air was in there hissed out. He didn't care. He was watching Hakkai again with that contented smile on his face. Hakkai had the banner stretched out between his hands, extended wide like some ridiculous crucifix, staring at the ceiling in thought. He lowered his arms, looking around him for a chair.

   "Want some help?" Gojyo called from amongst the still-useless decorations he'd failed to prepare.

   "I'm all right, thank you, Gojyo," Hakkai answered, his back still to Gojyo as he glanced around. "I just need a chair so that I can reach the ceiling..."

   Gojyo pushed himself to his feet and started to walk over to where Hakkai was standing. "C'mon, I'll lift you up."

   "No, Gojyo, really, it's fine, I just need a chair," Hakkai responded quickly, sounding very doubtful that it was a sensible idea.

   "Nah, it's quicker this way."

   Hakkai had only just started to turn around when Gojyo suddenly ducked down and grabbed Hakkai's legs. Hakkai yelled out in surprise and not a little alarm, his fingers tightening on the banner. Grinning mischievously, Gojyo wriggled his head through Hakkai's legs and heaved upwards with his shoulders, lifting Hakkai clean off the floor. His surprise melting into amusement, Hakkai laughed and fell forwards onto Gojyo's head, one hand wrapped around the redhead's forehead and the other cupped around his chin in a desperate and obvious attempt to not fall backwards onto the floor. "Gojyo!" he cried, half-laughing.

   "More fun this way, too," Gojyo grinned, his face obscured by the banner.

   "If you say so," Hakkai laughed, shifting his position so Gojyo could see again. It always warmed Gojyo's heart to hear that rich, genuine laugh that only he seemed able to extract from Hakkai.

   "You're pretty light for a guy your height," Gojyo commented, raising his eyes and leaning his head back so that he could look at Hakkai.

   "Thank you, I suppose, just, please don't drop me! It looks like quite a way down from up here." Hakkai grinned down at Gojyo, eyes sparkling, before raising his eyes to the considerably-closer ceiling. He looked back down at Gojyo. "Could you pass me those pins, Gojyo?"

   His left hand tightening his grip on Hakkai's thigh, Gojyo reached down with his right and picked up the pins. Hakkai smiled his thanks when he took them, his fingers unafraid to brush Gojyo's. Again, Gojyo failed to hold back that childlike grin. Hakkai gingerly let go of Gojyo to push the tacks through the banner and then, more confident as Gojyo replaced his right hand on Hakkai's thigh, raised his arms above his head and a little in front, trying to position the banner properly. He had to admit that it was more fun putting up a banner this way – sitting on Gojyo's shoulders, his large hands warm, firm but gentle on his legs. He was starting to think that he should throw more parties if all of them were going to be like this.

   Gojyo certainly wasn't regretting his method of helping either. He loved to touch Hakkai, and every legitimate excuse to do so was jumped on the moment it appeared. He ran his thumbs slowly in gentle circles over Hakkai's thighs. "Mmm. That's nice," murmured Hakkai absently, and Gojyo glanced up blindly through his hair. It was hard to tell from this angle whether Hakkai had been talking about the banner or Gojyo's tactile affections.

   Hakkai leant forward again, crossing his arms gently over Gojyo's head and resting his chin on them. "What do you think?" he asked softly, and Gojyo's hands squeezed involuntarily as he felt Hakkai's breath waft through his hair.

   He leant back automatically to see the banner properly, but as he did, Hakkai's weight started to slip back over his shoulders. "Oh, shit! Fuck," Gojyo cursed as he tried to hold onto Hakkai, who had flung out his arms in an attempt to stay upright. Unfortunately, this only threw Gojyo even more off balance, and he tumbled over, Hakkai slamming rather painfully on the floor with a yell.

   "Shit," Gojyo said again, laughter punctuating his concern. He untangled his arms from Hakkai's legs and pushed himself to his feet, brushing off his ass unnecessarily.

   "I asked you not to drop me," Hakkai groaned, one fist loosely clenched and draped over his eyes, shading them. His smile still shone through, though.

   "Shit, man, I'm sorry," Gojyo said sheepishly, a hand raking through his hair. He gazed down at Hakkai, concern gentle in his eyes. "Are you okay? You're not hurt, are you?"

   "No, no, I'm quite alright," Hakkai answered, his arm still covering his face.

   Gojyo extended his hand, crouching slightly. "Lemme help you up."

   "No, no," Hakkai said again, as if helping him up would give Gojyo too much trouble. "I think I might just take a break and have a bit of a nap, if you don't mind."

   Gojyo laughed and grinned, his eyes sparkling mischievously again. "Alright. Mind if I join you?"

   Hakkai shifted his arm fractionally so that he could fix his eyes on Gojyo and smiled. Gojyo took that to mean 'yes' and carefully laid himself down just close enough to feel Hakkai's heat radiating from his body. Hakkai lowered his arm and together they gazed up at their handiwork.

   "It looks a little wonky from down here," Hakkai said dubiously, looking somewhat crestfallen.

   "Ah, who's gonna notice?" Gojyo said, batting Hakkai with the back of his hand – to prove a point, and (more importantly) to touch him again.

   "I suppose," Hakkai conceded, although he still looked doubtful. He unconsciously touched the spot where Gojyo had just hit him.

   Gojyo smiled up at the ceiling, recalling the feeling of Hakkai's warmth onto his shoulders and imagining that it was still there. That had to have been one of his more brilliant ideas; he'd been so close to Hakkai, breached Hakkai's carefully placed boundaries, and – and this was what brought that shy-teenager smile onto his lips – Hakkai had let him in easily, naturally, without complaint. He let his eyes flick across to his companion, tracing Hakkai's slightly effeminate profile, the smooth curves of his cheeks and the slight twist to the edges of his mouth. Gojyo lingered longer on Hakkai's eyes, sparkling droplets of emerald beauty, only looking away when Hakkai's eyes flickered in his direction.

   Again, he had been caught looking. Gojyo stared determinedly at the ceiling, but his expression began to sober and he let out a slow breath through his nose. He wondered if he'd ever have the right to look at Hakkai...

   Hakkai too was feeling a bittersweet after-taste start to fill his mouth, the same after-taste that always plagued him. He hated that after-taste; Hakkai would be perfectly happy with simply being with Gojyo, lying beside him like this – parallel, close, together, but not touching. He was fine with that – they were both fine with that. But somehow that bittersweet feeling weighed down deep in their hearts. As good as things were, it wasn't enough.

   "Hakkai..." Gojyo began softly, and Hakkai inclined his head slightly, looking up at Gojyo to show he was listening. But Gojyo was staring at the banner still, and not Hakkai.

   "Yes, Gojyo?"

   "Have you ever met anyone who... who made you feel like... you want nothing more than to be with them?" He paused, that slight smile still playing on his cheeks despite the sour taste in his mouth. "Even though sometimes it feels like that's not enough?"

   At last he turned to look at Hakkai, his expression a soft mix of contented joy and sorrowful longing. Hakkai, unsure of his response, opened his mouth, shut it again and licked his lips thoughtfully before answering. "Yes, Gojyo," he replied. "But there has only been one person who makes me feel that way."

   A slight aggrieved look haunted Gojyo's eyes for a moment, but then the smirk spread wide across his lips. "Kanan, right?"

   "No, not Kanan," Hakkai replied, feeling a little guilty that he could say that. He should have felt that way about her, but he knew what Gojyo was really talking about. Gojyo was talking about soul mates; that one person who you knew you wanted to spend your life with, even though spending your life with them could never be enough. And it was only after meeting Gojyo that he had realised Kanan had never been that person.

   Hakkai wasn't really sure what made him do it. He hadn't consciously chosen to do it, and rationality had clearly had no part to play or else he would have realised it could have been a very foolish and dangerous thing to do. But regardless of the reason, he reached out a hand and took hold of Gojyo's, the gap between them suddenly – finally – breached.

   Hakkai stared at the two hands between them, Gojyo's larger fingers clasped warmly under his own long, delicate ones. He was holding Gojyo's hand. He half-expected Gojyo to wrench his hand away, but despite initially tensing, Gojyo's hand relaxed, fingers curling around Hakkai's in return. Hakkai stared at the ceiling, trying to feel encouraged but still terrified that Gojyo might reject him.

   "...Me?" Gojyo said, as if to make absolutely sure he'd got this right. Hakkai at last looked across into Gojyo's eyes – his beautiful, beautiful red eyes – and felt relief and confidence wash over him. A broad smirking grin had split Gojyo's face almost in two and his eyes sparkled with childlike vigour as he squeezed Hakkai's hand warmly.

   "Yes," Hakkai replied, his own expression undergoing a miraculous transformation as felt himself mirroring Gojyo's delight. An immense warmth seemed to rise within him. He could hardly believe that just seconds ago he'd seriously thought Gojyo might reject him.  "You."

   Somehow, Gojyo's smile managed to grow even more. "I fucking love you," he growled, his usual playfulness flooding back into his system as he reached out for Hakkai, wrapping his hands around that perfect face and drawing it towards him.

   "... I know," whispered Hakkai, heart pounding, eyes now so gentle with love that Gojyo wondered how he was ever going to be able to look away. Supporting himself with an elbow, Hakkai rolled closer; and leaning over Gojyo, with his dark hair tickling his forehead, he kissed him at last.

 

Sanzo was really not in the best of moods. He was freezing his ass off, he was on his last smoke, Goku was yammering about food at his elbow and to top it all off, he was on his way to spend an evening with Mr Smile and shit-for-brains. He gritted his teeth and tried to ignore Goku as his conversation – correction, lecture – turned from all his favourite types of ramen to how much he liked yakisoba. Goddammit. He was going to fucking kill Hakkai for this. Gods only knew why he had dragged them out this late, insisting that they come to his house.

   Sanzo had tried to resist, of course, spouting the usual lines of resistance such as "I have better ways to waste my time" and "over your dead body". But if there was one thing Sanzo hated about Hakkai, it was that he always seemed to know how to manipulate people into doing what he wanted them to do – and it was this ability that had proved so fatal that afternoon. Sanzo's mouth curled subconsciously in distaste as their earlier conversation echoed in his ears.

   "Have your own damn party."

   "But it's for Goku, Sanzo. If he isn't there then the whole thing is rendered rather pointless."

   "So take him, I'm not stopping you. It'll give me some peace and quiet."

   "Come now, Sanzo, I'm sure you don't mean that. Goku has never celebrated a birthday before – think how much this will mean to him."

   "He won't give a damn who's there as long as there's food."

   "Fine. But I know that you do in fact want to be there. You simply prefer not to admit it."

   "Tch. And what's that supposed to mean?"

   Sanzo was suddenly broken out of his reverie when he realised that Goku – who, incidentally, was completely oblivious to all the birthday planning – had stopped a few paces back. The silence suddenly seemed quite deafening. He turned round, taking the cigarette away from his mouth. "What is it?"

   Goku was staring down at the floor, shuffling his feet in the dust, his hands linked behind his back. "'M sorry..." he mumbled, looking utterly dejected.

   Sanzo had no idea what Goku was apologising for, and he had no intention of finding out. He sighed. Goku was much easier to deal with when he was talking about food. "Feh. Apology accepted. Now let's get going."

   He turned back to walk down the path towards Gojyo's house, and sure enough Goku materialised at his elbow, trotting slightly to keep up with Sanzo's long purposeful stride. But he was still unnaturally quiet, and Sanzo began to feel unnerved. "Goku..." he said in a warning tone that clearly said, "If you don't tell me what's wrong or go back to normal in the next three seconds you're getting a paper fan to the head."

   "'M I a pest to ya, Sanzo?" Goku asked quietly, still looking at the ground in front of his feet. Sanzo was taken aback. "I mean, you're always callin' me a stupid animal and, and well the people at the temple always treat me like I'm some kinda vermin..."

   "Stupid monkey," Sanzo muttered, breathing out a long, slow stream of silver smoke. He looked at Goku calculatingly for a moment before returning his gaze to the sky. "You're not vermin. I'd say you're more of a treasured family pet."

   He cringed inwardly. Treasured? This was why Goku irritated him so much. The kid always managed to make him so goddamn sentimental.

   So he really didn't know why he had to make it worse and go and touch the shitting monkey. But as he gently ruffled Goku's hair, Goku's wide Cheshire-cat grin stretched across his features once more and he chuckled warmly. When Sanzo quickly removed his hand he looked up, beaming, into Sanzo's forever-sour face.

   "Thanks Sanzo," he said brightly.

   "Feh," Sanzo said, heading off down the path again. Intimacy was just not him. Even so, his tone softened slightly. "So go on. What were you saying about yakisoba?"

   "You care for Goku, don't you, Sanzo?"

   "Don't be an idiot. He's just a kid."

   "I see. But it is a shame, Goku will be very hurt to know you couldn't be bothered to come."

   Sanzo let his mind return to the present as he let the sounds of Goku's ramblings wash over him. Damn that Hakkai. He really knew his weaknesses.

 

And Sanzo really, really did not like parties.

   "SURPRISE!" yelled Gojyo and Hakkai together as Hakkai opened the door, welcoming Goku and Sanzo into their home. Goku's face was bright with joy as he looked around the brilliantly decorated room, the HAPPY BIRTHDAY GOKU! banner suspended from the ceiling – still slightly wonky. Gojyo bounded around him, letting off party bangers until Goku and a very, very irritated Sanzo were covered in multicoloured streamers.

   Sanzo's trigger finger itched.

   "Wow, guys!" Goku cried excitedly, jumping up and down, standing on tiptoes to see the food on the table. "This's all for me?"

   "It is your birthday, isn't it?" Hakkai said kindly, beaming.

   "Yeah, and you know what birthdays mean!" Gojyo interrupted, easily grabbing Goku in a headlock. "Birthday beats!"

   "Ah, shut up, ya pervy kappa!" Goku grinned, half-heartedly trying to worm his way out of Gojyo's grip. "Let go!"

   "Oh, but you're such an itty-bitty little monkey," the redhead teased. His smiling eyes flicked up momentarily to glance at Hakkai. Hell. Even that short time had been too long. "Surely you can just wriggle free?"

   Sanzo tried to block out the inane yelling; he tried to ignore Gojyo and Goku bashing into him as they chased each other around the room. He managed not to look at the party decorations or that ridiculous strawberry birthday cake. He even managed to join in when Gojyo and Hakkai sung Goku happy birthday – quietly enough that no one would hear him, of course. But with his fuse considerably shorter than usual, it was not long before Sanzo was brandishing his gun.

   "Shut the fuck up unless you want my own special party banger to go off in your ass!!!"

   Gojyo and Goku backed off, hands surrendered in the air. "What's got his balls in a twist?" Gojyo said to Hakkai, appealing for some help – and just maybe another flash of that gorgeous green.

   "Come now, Sanzo," Hakkai mediated. "It is a birthday party, after all. Noise is a prerequisite."

   "If you were the kappa you'd be dead," Sanzo muttered angrily, stowing his gun back in his robes. He watched Goku head over to the food table, Gojyo in tow, presumably receiving a detailed account of what Goku was going to eat and in what order.

   "Why don't we have some sake?" asked Hakkai, gently leading him to one side without waiting for a response.

   "Feh." Sanzo leaned his back against the wall. "What do you have?"

   "Chang'an's finest," Hakkai smiled, pouring him a glass. Sanzo took it gratefully. Out of the corner of his eye, he watched Hakkai keep looking up at Gojyo. Every time he did so, they smiled at each other; Gojyo's roguish smirk was softer than usual, and Hakkai's once-rare genuine smile seemed to have taken up residence on his face.

   Hakkai took a sip of his sake. "Goku certainly seems to be growing up fast these days, doesn't he, Sanzo?"

   Sanzo followed Hakkai's gaze to the table where Gojyo and Goku were currently engaged in a fierce battle over food and felt that he couldn't agree less.

   "Feh. He's still just a kid."

   "Hardly," Hakkai said calmly. "He must be more or less eighteen by now. Almost an adult by any standards."

   A strangled cry of "Give me back my dumpling!" belied that statement.

   Seeing Sanzo's raised eyebrow, Hakkai quickly continued. "Well, deep down I'm sure he is more mature. Childish behaviour does not necessarily mean a childish mind. Just look at Gojyo."

   "I'd rather leave that to you, thanks. You seem to be enjoying it enough for the both of us."

   Hakkai flushed but in truth looked rather gratified that someone had noticed. "My point is," he said, trying to divert the conversation back onto its original tracks, "Goku is only five years younger than you. If you think about it, it really isn't that much of an age gap. And as time goes on, it will only get smaller."

   A little wariness of where the conversation was headed crept into Sanzo's features. "Listen. The Goku I pulled out of that cage couldn't have been more than fifteen. You may say he's grown up since then, but to me he's always gonna be that little fifteen-year-old."

   Hakkai followed Sanzo's gaze to the table, watching his own less-than-grown-up partner wrestle another spring roll away from Goku. He turned towards Sanzo, fixing him with a soft, almost pitying stare. "No one would think less of you, Sanzo."

   Sanzo's eyes narrowed. "If you have something to say to me, say it," he snarled, his purple eyes sharp as ice.

   "Goku..." Hakkai began, although he didn't seem so sure that he wanted to say it after all.

   "What about him?" Sanzo snapped irritably. "I thought we'd already established that he's not a kid?"

   Hakkai glanced nervously over to Goku, although his gaze slid slightly to the right. "Goku told me something a few days ago," he said with renewed confidence. "I wasn't sure whether to tell you or not..."

   "Then don't," said Sanzo shortly, wishing that he had a cigarette. He briefly entertained the idea of going out and buying some new smokes but then realised that, it being the middle of the night, he'd have a hard job finding a shop that was open.

   "I believe it is in – ah – Goku's best interest for me to tell you," Hakkai said carefully. He looked Sanzo straight in the eye. "Goku said that he cares for you." He hesitated. "Intimately."

   Sanzo choked on his sake. Shit, shit, shit. This couldn't be real... but he couldn't play the disbelief card; Hakkai had been deadly serious. Emergency evasive tactics: that was the way to avoid this awkward subject. "Just because you're fucking Gojyo now doesn't mean you can play matchmaker, Hakkai."

   "Excuse me," Hakkai interjected coldly, his eyes suddenly narrow. "I am not 'fucking Gojyo'. In any case, whatever our relationship might be has nothing to do with you or your relationship with Goku."

   "I don't have a relationship with Goku," Sanzo insisted, his hands clenched.

   "Well, he certainly seems to want one with you," Hakkai said calmly, his voice warmer but his eyes still more shuttered than they had been a few moments before.

   "Why are you doing this?" Sanzo asked bitterly, pouring himself another glass of sake and downing it in one.

   "It's Goku's birthday, isn't it?" Hakkai said softly, watching Gojyo holding a chicken leg far out of his reach. "I thought he deserved a gift."

   "You know, you're a cocky little bastard," Sanzo grumbled. He picked up the empty sake bottle and gazed studiously at the label, although his eyes seemed focussed beyond it. Shadows across his face made his expression unreadable. Hakkai thought it best to leave him to his thoughts, and followed Sanzo's lead, watching his own love from across the room. He still couldn't help smiling at that – Gojyo was his love. His.

   "Hakkai.

   "What exactly did... how did Goku say it?"

   "He said he loved you," Hakkai said steadily, looking warily into Sanzo's face but still seeing nothing but shadows. "In fact," he bravely ploughed on, "he said he thought he might be in love with you, Sanzo."

   "...Shit," said Sanzo, putting the bottle back down on the table and hiding his face in his hands. It wasn't the reaction that Hakkai was expecting but he thought it best to keep quiet. The slightest smile seemed to tweak at Sanzo's cheek. "You're such an ass."

   Hakkai smiled as he heard a tiny hint of delight in Sanzo's voice. "Go easy on him."

   "Fuck you," Sanzo said, removing his hands from his face. He'd somehow managed to hide the smile. "Goku," he called out suddenly, his voice raised. "We need to talk. In private," he added pointedly, glaring at Gojyo.

   "Shit, man, this is our house!" Gojyo responded indignantly, looking at Hakkai for support. That grin flared across his face again.

   "Fine," Sanzo growled, and Gojyo's eyebrows shot up at how easily the priest had given in. "Goku, outside. Now."

   "We're leavin'?"

   "Not yet, but we will if you don't get–"

   "But Sanzo, there's still food an'–"

   There was a tug on his heart just as there was also a tug at the corner of his mouth. Food always comes first, eh. "Goddammit monkey!" He grabbed Goku's arm with an iron grip, practically throwing the yelping monkey out of the door, finishing up with what must have been quite a painful boot to the butt. "When I tell you to get your ass outside you get your sorry ass outside!"

   As the door slammed shut, Gojyo whistled and turned to face Hakkai, who had half a mind to watch the others from the window. "What the hell was all that about?"

   "I think," said Hakkai slowly, his curiosity mysteriously evaporating as he turned his attention to the gorgeous Gojyo, "that we might not be the only couple to get together before the day is done."

   "Is that so?" murmured Gojyo, really not at all interested in Sanzo's love life in spite of himself. He leaned over and planted a gentle, smiling kiss on his newfound lover's lips, trailing down to Hakkai's soft, pale neck.

   "It is – ah – rather nice to be on our own again though," Hakkai said softly, catching his breath as Gojyo's lips ghosted over his throat. His hands threaded themselves loosely over Gojyo's shoulders.

   "Shit, man," Gojyo said, looking up into Hakkai's mischievously glinting eyes as he lowered him gently onto the sofa. "I love when you get devious..."

 

Sanzo ground his teeth in an effort to build some courage as he stood once more in the freezing cold, alone again with Goku, this time with a much more frightening agenda. Shit, shit, shit. It was all very well getting Goku on his own, but he hadn't thought about what he would actually say to him. Goku's expression was positively mutinous. Sanzo felt his heartbeat – and his resolve – falter.

   Shit, shit, shit. There was nothing for it.

   "Hakkai told me what you said."

   The effect of these simple words was instantaneous. Goku's head, previously sunken in sullen rebellion, snapped up to look at Sanzo, his eyes suddenly fearful. Sanzo already half-regretted that he'd said it; Goku just looked so goddamn lost. He supposed he should have softened the words, but he was damned if he knew how.

   Goku took a while to speak, his throat dry and constricted. "... An' what did he say I said?" he managed, clenched fists shaking slightly.

   "He said that you said..." Shit. This wasn't awkward. "That you think you're in love with me."

   Sanzo's purple eyes stared unfalteringly into Goku's golden orbs, unconsciously aggressive as he tried to read Goku's mind – heart. Goku stared just as unfalteringly back, with a defiant glare in his eyes. He said nothing.

   "And do you?" Sanzo demanded.

   Goku blinked but held Sanzo's gaze, as if weighing up his options. After a moment, he spoke, strong and calm in spite of his shaking fists.

   "Yeah, I do."

   As Sanzo stared down into those wide eyes that dared him to judge, to think less of this bravely exposed soul, he felt all his restraints and oppressions lifting from his shoulders. Acting on the surge of positive emotion, he reached out suddenly, grabbing Goku's arms just below the shoulders. Remembering at the last minute that he was supposed to be being gentle, Sanzo slowed down just in time for his lips to meet Goku's, softly, lovingly. Everything caught in Sanzo's chest but he didn't care.

   Goku pulled back slightly, shock and numb disbelief dull in his eyes. He stared up at Sanzo, a restraining hand on his chest. "You... you like me too?"

   "Yes, Goku," said Sanzo, a true, warm, ecstatic smile finally breaking its restraints and stretching between his cheeks. "I "like" you very much."

   "Ewww, what's that?" cried Goku suddenly, pointing at Sanzo's expression. He pushed at Sanzo. "You're scarin' me!"

   "Stupid monkey!" Sanzo raged, his smile vanished as the vein throbbed in his temple. The paper fan was out in a flash, berating Goku smartly over the head. "This is my happy face!"

   "But you're never happy an' it's scary!" Goku protested, his arms folded protectively over his head. "An' stop hitting me!"

   "When I tell you I return your feelings and you say I scare you, you deserve to be hit, monkey," Sanzo retorted, although his voice had lost its harsh edge. He felt distinctly ruffled; did Goku really think he was incapable of happiness?

   "'M sorry," said Goku, shuffling his feet. His voice was compassionate in spite of his smiling eyes. "Ya just surprised me. I've never seen you smile like that before." Sanzo's temple throbbed ominously again. Goku reached up tentatively and wrapped his fingers in the creamy-white robes.

   "I wanna make you smile like that again."

   Goku pulled Sanzo down gently and gave him the gentlest, softest whisper of a kiss that Sanzo could ever have imagined, and it took his breath away. As Goku pulled away, Sanzo's mouth twitched as he desperately tried to hold back that ludicrous smile. "I love you," Goku murmured, biting his bottom lip, as if knowing it would push Sanzo over the edge.

   "Shut it, monkey," Sanzo grunted, his ridiculous smile finally breaking over his features as he pulled Goku into him, burying his grin in Goku's lips.

 

Having extricated himself from Hakkai's arms with a few reassuring kisses, Gojyo made his way over to the window. He pulled the curtain aside. By the looks of things, it had begun to rain slightly, but this fact seemed to have gone unnoticed by the two outside, almost indistinguishable from each other in their intense embrace. Gojyo smiled in spite of himself.

   "Hakkai, get over here."

   Powerless to disobey that deep, gentle voice, Hakkai rose shirtless from the sofa, running his hands over the bare skin of Gojyo's shoulders and gracing them with one – two – on second thoughts, three kisses, smiling into the warm, moist skin. Satiated, his interest in Sanzo and Goku surfaced again and he looked out of the window. He too smiled at the picture of his friends kissing in the rain.

   Gojyo smirked roguishly as he looked down at Hakkai out of the corner of his scarlet eye. "Guess our deviant priest is a paedophile to boot..." he teased.

   "Don't, Gojyo," Hakkai implored, although he couldn't help but smile. He kissed Gojyo's shoulder a fourth time. Together they watched as the rain started to pour down more heavily and Sanzo and Goku broke apart, yelling in surprise as they ran off down the path, presumably heading back to the temple. Apparently Sanzo wasn't going to let rain stop him from being alone with Goku.

   "Guess the party's over," Gojyo said, reaching into his jeans pocket and extracting a lighter and a packet of Hi-Lites. He glanced over to Hakkai, but he didn't seem to object. He lit a cigarette and took a long, relaxing drag on it, staring out at the rain.

   He wondered idly whether he'd ever be able to shift that damn weightless warmth in his chest. And smiled again.

   Hakkai turned around beside Gojyo, sitting on the windowsill and resting his back against the cold glass. His eyes fell on the kitchen table, still laden with food, and he felt his shoulders sag slightly, disappointed. Out of the corner of his eye, Gojyo noticed the movement. Startled, he leaned closer to Hakkai – hadn't he just been thinking that things were perfect? Holding the cigarette away from his lover's face, he put his other hand gently on Hakkai's shoulder. "What's wrong, Hakkai?" he said gently.

   Hakkai sighed, feeling really rather stupid. He looked up at Gojyo apologetically.

   "Nobody ate my cake."

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