Title: Awakenings
Author: TJ Dragonblade
Rated: 13+
Pairings: Hakkai/Gojyo. Peripheral Gojyo/OFC, Hakkai/Kanan, brief speculation on Goku/Sanzo.
Setting: Erm...early-to-mid-journey, summertime. Bearing in mind that I have no real idea what season they set out in. Probably fits better with the anime timeline, pre-Homura.

Summary: Gojyo's luck with the ladies one night leads Hakkai to the discovery of an inexplicable jealousy and Gojyo to the discovery of an equally inexplicable emptiness...

Warnings/This Fic Contains: Yaoi. Mild angst. A bit of sap. Scattered language. Mention of het with brief nudity. Men kissing while shirtless. Brief flashes of fantasy that could warrant a stricter rating. Mention of various events that could amount to spoilers in relation to Hakkai and particularly to his history with Gojyo...oh. And a brief moment of mild Hakkai fan-service.

Disclaimer: The many incarnations and characters of Saiyuki were created by the wonderfully talented Kazuya Minekura--may she be forever blessed and properly deified for sharing her vision with the rest of us. I venture onto her playground in the name of entertainment and maintaining my sanity; in so doing I mean no disrespect or copyright infringement.

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Part Two

Gojyo shifted against the bed, restless, sticky, and just too damn hot--and he would've been equally uncomfortable even without the passed-out waitress pressed up naked against his side. The room was stuffy and the air humid to begin with; physical exertion hadn't helped it one little bit.

In fact, taking the waitress to bed hadn't seemed to help anything at all.

Oh, certainly, she was a pretty little thing with all the right curves and she definitely knew what to do with a man--his body was drained and physically satisfied, but somehow his heart just hadn't been in it. He'd taken damn near forever to get off and while the girl hadn't had any complaints about it, Gojyo himself was a bit puzzled and vaguely alarmed by the length of time involved.

Not to mention exhausted. She'd taken everything out of him, and yet still the restive bliss of sleep eluded him.

Why? 'Cause he was too damn busy thinking, that's why. Wondering why he hadn't been able to get into it, wondering why the sex never seemed quite as good as it used to be anymore, wondering why this particular girl was still here, wondering why he still felt that empty craving deep inside when he'd just spent a good hour or more fucking and wondering half-consciously underneath it all why Hakkai had looked so damn broody while watching him downstairs in the tavern earlier.

After all, it wasn't like Hakkai had been angling for the waitress and Gojyo had stolen her out from under him--she'd had eyes only for Gojyo since the evening began. And Hakkai...well, Gojyo had never known him to chase women in any fashion, really, but if he had been looking to start the habit tonight, there'd been a bashful young school-teacherly type eyeing him across the room who would've given him much more of the attention he was looking for than the bawdy waitress.

But Hakkai...was Hakkai, and whatever mood had possessed him earlier was probably because of the damned rain anyway and Gojyo was currently just a little too anxious over this lack of real gratification to dwell on his friend's quirks.

The sex tonight had fallen alarmingly flat. It had started well enough, but strangely the thrill had sparked and died before he'd been able to coax it into a flame. Oh, sure, he really hadn't been able to get many women into bed since this damn journey started, so maybe it was all lack of practice. But...shouldn't that make him want it more, not less?

Come to think of it, though, if he was flat-out honest with himself, sex hadn't been what it used to be for quite awhile now. Even before he and Hakkai had headed west with Sanzo and the monkey-boy.

So he couldn't blame it all on the journey.

But what, then? Why?

Was he past his prime already? He'd heard it said that men reached their sexual peak at nineteen on average, and he'd been nineteen three years ago. Was sex going to be all downhill from here?

Now there was a depressing thought.

Against his side, the waitress shifted and mumbled something into his ribcage, one arm lifting to flop across his stomach.

Gojyo grimaced.

Too damn hot for that, and it was annoying, somehow, at the same time. He was just too restless to lay here cuddling with some stranger, no matter how pretty her face or how nice her rack.

That settled it, then. The girl would have to go.

He leaned up on one elbow and reached for her shoulder, mouth opening; he paused, and then closed it, a little sheepishly.

...Damn. What the hell was her name again?

He frowned, wracking his brain. Mei...Mei Lei? Mei Lin? Mei Ling? Mei Lan? It was something like that, he was relatively sure; Mei would have to do. He shook her shoulder gently.

"Hey. Mei, honey, wake up."

"Mmmm?" She rolled a little and lifted her head, blinking at him in the low lamplight with those smoky sex-kitten eyes that had hooked him to begin with. Well--that had sunk the deal for him after the display she'd made of her cleavege had hooked him, technically, but that was a moot point by now. "S'matter, baby, y'wanna go ag'n?" she slurred, stirring from her slumber, more than willing to follow her own suggestion.

"Uhh...no." He recoiled the tiniest bit; it was all he could do to keep the assertion calm. It took damn near everything he had to finish the first time, and she wanted to do it again?

"Mmm, too bad," she purred, pushing up on one elbow to match his stance, not at all concerned about covering her nakedness. "What can I do for you, then?"

Every word that came out of her mouth was tempered for seduction, even now, and by simple habit, Gojyo's eyes flicked over what he could see of her. Pretty face, smooth skin, nice curves, great boobs--she was sexy, undeniably sexy, desirable and appealing by almost any standards; and yet...and yet...

And yet she completely failed to excite him even a little anymore.

Gojyo dredged up his disarming grin from wherever it had hidden itself and turned it on her full force, even as he sat up.

"Well," he drawled, lingering lightly over the word, "turns out, I'm not in the mood for sleepin' just yet. And I got too much on my mind for anythin' else." He slipped just enough hint of regret into his tone to sound sincerely apologetic.

"And I take it then you're one of those guys who finds it easier to sort his thoughts without a naked woman in his bed to distract him, hmm?" Her smile was lazy and complacent as she spoke, and she stretched lightly in a way that showed off her body even more.

"Yeah, that's right." Part of him was appalled at the idea of kicking this girl out without at least one more romp in the sack, but most of him just wanted her gone already.

"Well, then." She sat up, twisting to face him and planting a kiss on his mouth. "Thanks for a good time, Red. Can I come see you tomorrow night?"

Gojyo resisted the urge to wipe his lips; her kiss was just a little too wet for his liking at the moment. "'Fraid we're leavin' in the morning, sweetheart. But I'll look you up next time I come through, how's that?" He kept the grin in place, wishing she'd just get up and get dressed and get the hell out.

"It's a deal." She turned and rose from the bed, each movement languid and unconcerned as she picked up her dress and slipped back into it, retrieving her apron as she finished and pulling a pen and a slip of paper from the pocket.

"Here," she breathed, scrawling quickly across the face of the scrap and pressing it into his hand. "I live here as well as work here; I'll make it worth your while to keep your word..." She trailed off with a sultry wink and straightened back up, running her fingertips along a lock of Gojyo's disheveled hair as she withdrew. "And my room is downstairs just off the kitchen, in case you change your mind tonight." She blew him a kiss and sashayed out the door.

Gojyo exhaled a sigh of relief and glanced down at the paper in his hand. She'd written her name--which was Mei Ling, as it turned out--and the name of the inn for his future reference with a stylish, effeminate flourish, exactly as he would have expected...

He blinked, staring down at the little slip lying weightlessly in his palm; then, with a quick shake of his head, he wadded it swiftly and lobbed it into the trashcan at the foot of the bed.

He had absolutely no interest in seeing her again.

And that disturbed him.

"I need a smoke," he muttered, swinging his legs off the bed and casting about for his pants. Pulling them on, he stood and fished his lighter out of the back pocket, then plucked a cigarette from the pack on the bedside table and lit up. He took a long drag, eyes closing at that first soothing hint of tobacco, and blew the smoke out carelessly in a soft sigh.

What the hell was wrong with him tonight?

Probably oughtta go outside, he thought with just a trace of irritation. Sanzo'll give me hell if I get us kicked out again for smoking indoors against policy... He stuck the cigarette back between his lips and stepped over to the sliding glass door. Stupid policy anyway... He twisted the blinds open, letting the low light from his room spill out onto the balcony, and reached to push back the door.

The unexpected sight of Hakkai on the adjoining balcony drew him up short; he paused, hand on the latch, staring.

...Damn, he's...beautiful...

Now, Gojyo was not ashamed to say that he was nothing short of the finest judge concerning male beauty--after all, a man needed to be able to size up his competition when it came to winning the ladies, right? Not that he had too much of that, in all honesty, but back to the point. He had admitted right from the get-go that Hakkai was indeed a very pretty face. And he'd caught a glimpse of the other half-naked a time or two before, what with their living together and all. But...

Never, in the three-plus years they'd been acquainted, never had Gojyo looked at Hakkai in any state of dress or lack thereof and found himself forgetting to breathe this way.

Hakkai was leaning back against the rail of his own balcony near the corner where both met. His feet were bare and crossed at the ankles, his elbows propped casually against the polished wood; his face was tipped up toward the roof, accentuating a long arch of smooth, lean neck. The only thing he wore, oddly enough, was his usual pair of slender khaki pants; the pale warm yellowed light from Gojyo's opened blinds played whisperingly over Hakkai's bared skin, blending sculpted shadow and soft highlighting in such a way as to somehow remind one that his eyes were very, very green beneath the dark fringe of his bangs.

He looked almost ethereal in the light mistiness of the rainy night; pale and beautiful and downright sensual.

Gojyo blinked, thinking for a split-second that maybe this wasn't Hakkai after all, that he'd gotten turned around somehow or other and Hakkai's room was on the other side of him and he was standing here stupidly staring at some stranger--Hakkai just did not lounge about shirtless, in Gojyo's experience. But he knew before the thought finished that it couldn't be anyone other than Hakkai. That long, ragged line of scar tissue lancing across the flat plane of his belly was unmistakable, for one thing. A stranger would have little use for the limiters cuffed to his left ear, for another; besides, no one else Gojyo'd ever seen wore a half-pair of spectacles as a monocle that way.

The sight of the eyepiece made Gojyo realize two things.

One: The pants technically weren't the only thing Hakkai was wearing after all, and Two: Hakkai was staring back at him, and he must look pretty damned stupid gawking from behind the glass this way.

He jerked into motion, embarrassed, shoving the door aside and stepping out into the warm humidity of the balcony.

"Hey, Hakkai--couldn't sleep, eh?"

The lamest of greetings, yeah, but maybe if he played like he hadn't been standing there staring Hakkai wouldn't ask him why he had been.

Because he really didn't have a good answer for that.

Hakkai blinked, and tilted his head slightly, glancing past Gojyo to see that the room behind was indeed empty before answering, lips curving in a faint smile.

"Ahh...not very well, no. There was a good bit of noise coming through the wall, I'm afraid..."

Much to his own surprise, Gojyo flushed.

They hadn't been that loud, had they?

He grinned, sheepish, cigarette clamped in his teeth as he rubbed at the back of his head with an apologetic laugh. "Heh...oops. Sorry 'bout that, then..."

Hakkai took in the unexpected blush and burst out laughing, that warm, light-hearted sound that his friend so loved to hear. "My, Gojyo--I don't believe I've ever seen you turn quite that color before!" he offered at last, still smiling.

Gojyo kept grinning, making the best of it. Since when the hell had discussion of his sexual escapades embarrassed him? "Well, y'know--I figure if maybe my hair and my face are the same color, the hair won't stand out so bad." Certainly not the snappiest comeback he'd ever spit out, but it did keep Hakkai smiling. "Am I there yet?"

"Mmm...almost." Hakkai still sounded entirely too amused. "May I ask if you enjoyed yourself, at least?"

The grin faded swiftly as Gojyo's somber unease returned to the forefront of his attention. "...Yes and no," he hedged, shrugging and turning away a little, moving to the rail of his own balcony. He stared out blankly at the shrouded curtain of the rain, taking another drag.

Hakkai pushed lazily out of his lounging posture and leaned both crossed arms on the railing that split the balcony in two, eyes on his friend. "It sounds as though perhaps things didn't go so well," he said, softly. "Would you like to tell me what you mean by 'yes and no'?"

Gojyo blew a soft stream of smoke out the corner of his mouth, sighing. Of course Hakkai wasn't just going to let that pass--it was a statement that invited elaboration, after all, and Hakkai was pretty well used to being the ear that Gojyo bent whenever something was on his mind.

"It means...oh, hell, I don't know what it means. She was incredible, it felt incredible, she took everything out of me and I should be passed out in there beside her reliving the whole damn evening in my dreams but instead I kicked her out and here I am pissy as our exalted Sanzo-sama wondering why I just couldn't get in to it." He stabbed the cigarette back between his lips for another drag, frustrated.

"So...perhaps...you weren't truly in the mood after all...?" Hakkai left the question hanging open-ended, leading, his tone neutral yet sympathetic, gently directing Gojyo into deeper self-exploration.

"Sort of. I mean I was, but...it's like...like it just wasn't what it should be." He turned, leaning back against the rail, unconsciously mirroring Hakkai's posture from moments earlier. "The flirting was exciting, but once I got her into bed it's like...something vital shut down and...I don't know, I was just goin' through the motions? Like my body was running on automatic and my mind was tryin' to be somewhere else entirely?"

"It sounds almost as though you were bored with her."

Gojyo blinked, considering, drawing thoughtfully on his cigarette before lowering it away again. "Yeah...that sounds kinda like it. Not really bored, though; maybe just...disinterested?"

"'Disinterested', hmm? In a woman so pretty as that?" Hakkai caught his gaze, a teasing glint in his eye and a warm thread of amusement under his voice. "I suppose it might not be so difficult to believe..." His face crinkled into an innocent smile and he lifted a single finger informatively. "It is often said that men generally peak at nineteen, after all..."

Gojyo blinked, slightly taken aback; for hadn't he just thought the same thing not twenty minutes before inside? He shook his head, waving his cigarette dismissively at the other. "Ah, shut up. You're depressin' me over here," he huffed, ignoring the niggling sensation that Hakkai could read his mind. It was just plain uncanny how often the two of them mirrored each other's thoughts that way.

Hakkai laughed, and Gojyo absently noted the warm thrill that crept down the back of his neck at the sound of it. Amusing Hakkai was just one of those things that he liked for its pure simplicity. His friend's laughter was...well, the word 'sweet' came to mind, not that Gojyo ever really gave it that much thought.

"So what's got you outta bed so late, anyhow?" he asked, feeling that he'd been the subject of the conversation for long enough.

Hakkai's expression shifted very slightly, a flash of something raw and haunted flickering in his so-green eyes as the briefest look of hesitant longing dodged through them and disappeared. His face slid easily into his brightest smile as he straightened up, arms folded loosely in front of his bare stomach, and he moved a pace or two away. "Ahh...well, as I said--the walls are rather a bit too thin, you see; I never would have imagined you were 'disinterested' from the sounds I overheard..." He sidestepped the question smoother than silk, eyes fixing on Gojyo again, intense and innocent, teasing once more.

Gojyo suppressed a soft snort of wry annoyance--he should have known Hakkai would deflect the change of subject right back at him; his friend knew him too well to believe all that needed saying had been said already.

He lowered his cigarette and tipped his head back, a thin trail of smoke accompanying the sigh he let out. "Dammit, Hakkai, I don't know! I really can't explain it." It came out with more force than he'd meant it to; he twisted the corner of his mouth up in a half-smile to soften the unintended harshness and moved to lean on the center rail that his friend had vacated. "I just don't get it." He shook his head, frustrated. "I'm drained. Physically, it was everything anyone could hope to ask for, but...it wasn't enough. Something in me still wants more. But there's nothin' more she could have done, so what the hell was I really expectin' to get out of it that's left me feeling so damned empty, huh?"

Hakkai sobered visibly; turning, he paced away again, toward the darkness of his open door this time. "...Emotional significance, perhaps?" he offered softly, the silver gleam of his limiters seeming particularly brilliant from the dimness now shadowing his face.

Gojyo pondered that a long moment, taking one final drag on his cigarette before stubbing it out in the ashtray beside him and stuffing his hands in his pockets, moving to lean against the wall beside his own door, unconsciously following Hakkai. "Maybe," he conceded, glancing over at his friend.

Hakkai looked up, arms still crossed over his stomach, hiding the scar, lips drawn upward in a bright smile that looked somehow out of place. "My, now--Sha Gojyo, renowned womanizer, bane of fathers and brothers throughout the land, weary at last of his casual encounters?" His voice had that terribly-amused note to it again, but the haunted look in his still-shadowed eyes was anything but light-hearted. "I do believe the world may be coming to an end!"

Gojyo snorted, eyes closing as he leaned his head back against the wall. "Yeah, well...maybe. Maybe I am growin' up, past my prime, all that crap. Doesn't mean I feel like settling down with any one chick, though..."

"Mm. Of course not." Hakkai's tone was somewhere between patronizing and placating, dancing that line that made it utterly impossible to tell if he was serious or not. "Heaven forbid--what would everybody say?"

"They'd probably say it's about damn time I pulled my head outta my pants and started thinkin' with somethin' other than my dick," Gojyo conceded, a little sullenly, eyes still closed.

"Ohh, but that's not entirely fair," Hakkai returned, still in that same inscrutable tone. "You only think with it half the time as it is..."

Gojyo sighed, not quite sure if that was exactly an insult or not and unable to muster any snappy comeback witty enough to make Hakkai laugh again regardless. He shrugged. "Maybe it is time to 'grow up'," he said quietly, comfortable in the darkness behind his closed lids. "Then again, maybe I'm just in some kinda broody funk. Maybe spending all my time with you and that stinking monk is getting to me--you two and your moods with the rain could damn well be contagious. Maybe I'll be fine and over it come morning. But right now...it just feels like maybe there was something missing. And it's kinda been missing for a long time." He cracked one eye open and fixed it on Hakkai. "But you tell anyone I ever said anything of the sort, and I will kick your ass--got that?"

The laughter was in Hakkai's voice. "Of course."

"Now." Goyjo straightened up, eyes opening and fixing intently on his friend; he turned to the rail between them, bracing both hands on it, leaning forward into Hakkai's space. "You gonna tell me what's goin' on with you? Or do you wanna keep pretendin' it's all sunshine and lilies in that pretty little head of yours?"

Hakkai paled, drawing back, the look on his face one of having been taken completely off-guard though he rallied admirably.

"Really, Gojyo, whatever makes you suppose it's not all sunshine and lilies in this pretty little head of mine?"

That gave Gojyo an instant's pause--he hadn't meant to voice the 'pretty little head' bit of his remark, hadn't realized he'd actually said it until Hakkai repeated it. Not that it really mattered--similar things had come out of his mouth before, and Hakkai just seemed to take it in stride. He straightened up and folded his arms implacably before him, raising one eyebrow and fixing his friend with an expression of blatant skepticism, his tone mildly scoffing. "Please, Hakkai--I know you better than that."

"...I suppose you do," Hakkai conceded, his feigned nonchalance sliding quietly away.

"Damned right I do. Now spill."

Hakkai looked up, and met his gaze, and Gojyo found himself suddenly pinned. There was...something, in Hakkai's eyes; something that made him feel oddly warmer. Then Hakkai blinked and abruptly that heat was gone, replaced instead by a shuttered melancholy.

What the hell was that? Gojyo blinked in turn, unable to interpret whatever he'd just seen, dismissing it as Hakkai spoke at last.

"I...it's only...I just find myself thinking about Kanan again," Hakkai said, trying for matter-of-fact and falling a bit flat.

"Ah, dammit." Gojyo cursed softly, pushing off from the rail and shoving his hands back in his pockets, inadvertently tugging his pants to ride a bit lower on his hips. "It's the damned rain, isn't it. It's always bringin' up bad memories for you." He looked out at the steady drizzle a moment, scowling, then turned back to Hakkai. "If I had my way about it, there'd be no more rain. I'd much rather have you happy all the time." He shook his head. "Don't know what to do with you when you're depressed."

The expression on Hakkai's face stated quite plainly that no one had ever said anything more endearing to him. He blinked, head tipping slightly to one side; then he burst out with that warm, sweet laughter again.

"The rain is not so bad all the time," he countered, smiling. "Rainy nights are a bit depressing for me, yes, and certainly rather bad for Sanzo's moods as well, but rainy days have never much bothered me. And rain itself is somehow pleasant." He raised one finger again as he spoke, subtly encouraging his listener's attention, an unconscious habit leftover from his teaching days. "It's cleansing, and usually quite peaceful. Also a natural necessity."

Gojyo shook his head again and grinned. "Alright. Fine. From now on, it can never rain at night." He turned, staring expectantly out at the rain, which of course continued to fall despite his decree. "Well, dammit." He shrugged. "The weather doesn't listen to me any better than the rest of the world does..." He shot a glance at his friend from the corner of his eye.

Hakkai was still smiling. Good.

Gojyo shrugged casually and turned back. "Worth a shot, I guess." He flashed his most disarming grin. "Sorry it didn't work."

Hakkai composed his face into an expression of solemnity that almost succeeded in masking the amusement dancing in his emerald eyes. "It is, after all, the thought that counts. Thank you." Those eyes turned back to the rain, and the amusement slowly faded.

"You know, it's rather odd," he mused softly, sadness lacing his tone. "I hardly think of her at all anymore, except for nights like this..."

"Doesn't mean you didn't love her," Gojyo offered quietly. "It's been a long time; that kinda thing is bound to fade a little as years go by."

Hakkai said nothing.

"Doesn't mean you're gonna forget her, either," Gojyo added after a moment, uncertain if his friend really needed him to be saying anything but wanting to speak the assurances regardless. "There's always gonna be things that remind you of her, and she's always gonna have her place in your heart."

"Indeed." Hakkai shifted a little, stepping to the balcony's edge, hands gripping the rail before him as his head bowed slightly. "But...I do wonder, if I am willing to open the rest of my heart to that sort of risk again."

Faced with the taut lines of Hakkai's bared back, Gojyo wasn't quite sure what ought to be said to that; when Hakkai got this melancholy, he was never certain of the best way to handle things. There was more to the other's mood than had been revealed so far; of that Gojyo was very sure. He moved to lean against his own rail, at the corner where both joined, remaining close to the man who'd taught him what 'friend' actually meant, offering a supporting presence without consciously realizing that he meant to do so. Hakkai was very important to him, was an integral part of his life, and Gojyo had no decent words to express such sentiments. Actions would have to speak for him, even if he couldn't really pin down exactly what it was he was trying to convey. His eyes stayed on Hakkai while he searched his mind for something useful or at least reassuring to say.

Pretty...he really is pretty, he thought, half-consciously, studying that shadowed downcast profile. His gaze was drawn to the dark tapering line of his friend's hair where it met pale skin at the nape of Hakkai's neck; suddenly, Gojyo found himself wondering if that skin would taste as warm and delicate as it looked, found himself entertaining a faint notion of brushing his lips against it to find out and trailing around to nibble at Hakkai's earlobe...

--the hell? He blinked, surprised, and dismissed the bizarrely random thought, chalking it up to fatigue. I need sleep he concluded, shifting slightly. But Hakkai needs me right now, and he's more important.

"Poets and romantics will babble on and on about love bein' worth every risk," he said quietly at last, pulling himself back into the moment. "And I suppose maybe they could be right. But what would I know about it?" He shook his head, feeling suddenly useless. "What makes you wonder 'bout re-opening your heart, anyway? Got someone back home you never told me about?" The question was asked gently, soberly, completely devoid of the lecherous innuendo that would have been directed at Sanzo or Goku, if he'd been having this conversation with either of them.

The visible corner of Hakkai's mouth pulled up very slightly. "There...is someone, yes, who...has...earned a place, alongside Kanan's memory." His words emerged carefully, as though they traversed a minefield in the speaking.

"Well, well. You do keep secrets from me after all." Gojyo shook his head, impressed. "Who is she? Anyone I know? Or--" He broke off, struck by a sudden thought. "It's that babe who fights for Kougaiji, isn't it."

There was a brief note of laughter from Hakkai that didn't quite qualify as mirthful before he answered, his hesitation evident. "It's...not Miss Yaone, no. In fact...it's not..." He turned, eyes meeting Gojyo's almost nervously, his expression tense and on edge. "It's not even a 'she', I'm afraid."

Oh. Gojyo blinked. OHHHH... He stared back at Hakkai, processing the revelation. He'd never had the faintest idea that his friend might be in to guys.

"I've only just realized what I feel tonight," Hakkai added, either reading Gojyo's mind again or perhaps merely interpreting the reactions on his face. "But it has been a long time building."

"Ah. Well. Damn." Gojyo shook his head, determined to come up with a better response than that. Hakkai liking a guy was definitely unexpected, but it wasn't the kind of thing that bothered him or made him uneasy. "Okay then--is he anyone that I know?"

Hakkai paled noticeably. "...In a manner of speaking, yes..."

Clearly this confession was awkward and uncomfortable for Hakkai; Gojyo reached over and landed a casual punch lightly against his friend's shoulder. "Hey. Relax, over there. You like girls, you like guys, you like both--doesn't matter to me, and I'm not about to go tell your secrets to Sanzo or Goku either." He had another sudden thought. "Not one of them, is it?"

"Ahh..."

Gojyo slapped a hand to his forehead in exaggerated melodrama. "Aw, crap--don't tell me you've got a thing for Monkey Boy..."

Hakkai let a tiny note of laughter slip. "No--"

Gojyo assumed an expression of mock-dread. "Sanzo, then?" He let more than a hint of panic bleed into his voice. "Am I gonna have to start bein' nice to him?"

Hakkai's laughter this time was a little more natural. "No. Not Sanzo."

"Ah. Good." Gojyo grinned. "I don't think Goku would let you have him without a fight, anyway." He blinked, Hakkai's unexpected confession suddenly throwing a new light of possibility on Goku's behaviour toward their de facto leader. "Wait a sec--you don't suppose that's why he's so devoted to Sanzo?" His grin widened. "Well that would really explain an awful lot--"

"Gojyo."

Hakkai's voice had gone back to nervous; Gojyo stopped his aimless musings and turned a serious face to the other once again. "I'm listenin', Hakkai, I am. Talk to me." He placed one hand over his friend's on the railing, an unconsciously-supportive gesture, meant to encourage.

He was not expecting the startled jerk of Hakkai's hand beneath his touch.

And he was definitely not expecting--and not at all prepared--for the sudden warmth of Hakkai's mouth pressed abruptly to his a second later.

~~~***~~~
TBC...

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