Title: Somewhere Between
Warnings: Gojyo's mouth, mild m/m
Spoilers: Events in Reload volumes 7 and 8
Notes: written for lady-ganesh, who likes to hear Gojyo talk. Happy birthday! (Unbeta'ed, I am afraid ... .)
Summary: The night before the ikkou are reunited with Sanzo, Hakkai has a lot on his mind. So, surprisingly, does Gojyo.
We stand between the day that was, and the day that will be, Hakkai thought, as he stirred the embers of their supper fire. The desert was only a mile or so behind them, but they were not yet truly in the hills. It was twilight, with the faintest hint of sunset still tainting the perfect blue-on-blue of the sky. And soon - perhaps, if their informants had not steered them wrong - they would be reunited with Sanzo.
"Goku's asleep. Out like a light." Gojyo dropped onto the ground by Hakkai's side, folding his long legs to sit cross-legged with his knee nearly touching his friend's. Hakkai looked up and smiled at him.
"That's probably for the best. He's had a rough time of it."
"Oh, yeah. No kiddin'." Gojyo stretched lazily - and quite deliberately, so that the red firelight ran over the tendons in his long neck, his muscular arms, and his flowing red hair.
Hakkai watched admiringly for a few seconds and then turned back to the fire. He was far from immune to Gojyo's charms, but he wasn't ready to give up his thoughts quite so soon. After a moment, Gojyo sighed and started rummaging through his pockets for his cigarettes. "You're thinkin' again."
The cigarettes turned up. Gojyo tapped the packet and drew one out. Hakkai could already smell the tobacco.
"The thing is ... I've been doin' some of that myself."
Hakkai looked at him more closely. The crimson eyes were focused on the cigarette. Gojyo was utterly serious. Hakkai made an encouraging noise and raised his eyebrows. Gojyo gave him a quick, almost shy glance and pulled out his lighter.
"Yeah ... y' know, when we were in that little shack, and you were all banged up and had that busted leg, and Goku was out cold for three days, and there was only me and the flyin' rat to take care of you guys, and no money, and hardly any food ... I thought, 'Even if that shitty priest shows up, I am never gonna speak to him again. Not one fuckin' word.'"
Gojyo flicked the lighter. The little flame showed his face clearly for a moment: he was smiling, but his eyes were still serious. He lit his smoke and drew on it for a couple of seconds. "Just like I was 11 instead of 22, right?"
"I think we all felt that way - even Goku."
"And that's exactly what got me so pissed off. The kid! Sanzo was his whole damn world! And Sanzo just left him ... ."
"I'm sure he thought Goku was dead."
"Maybe ... well, so then all that other stuff happened. And ... ."
"And - ?"
Gojyo smoked for a moment in silence, his eyebrows drawn together in a rare expression of concentration. "Goku - I mean, part of me really knows he's growin' up, right? This whole trip, he's been learning stuff. But what happened just this last week ... that girl. You know? It wouldn't have happened with Sanzo there. And it was a shitty thing for anyone to have to go through. But ... damn. This is the kinda shit that makes me get pissed off at Heaven. People shouldn't have to be hurt that way ... but he's really - there's more of him now. Damn, Hakkai. I don't know how to talk about this stuff."
Hakkai felt a rush of affection. At times like this, Gojyo warmed him like a flame. "I don't know why you say such things about yourself. You're being perfectly clear. Yes, it made him grow up a lot, very suddenly, and he's taking it very well. It's impressive. And it does make one think about the gods setting up trials for people to endure, so that they exceed their limitations."
Gojyo was examining his cigarette again, but he was smiling. "Heh. Yeah."
"So have you changed your mind about Sanzo?"
"Well ... his goddamned Holiness. He really gets up my nose sometimes. But he mostly has reasons why he does stuff."
"I can remember when you weren't so sure about his sanity, Gojyo."
"After that sick little fuck Kami-sama took his sutra, you mean? He was real messed up in the head then. But Goku set him straight."
"He set us all straight."
"Yeah ... well. But you know, Sanzo's been changin' too. I think he sort of really sees other people more, now. Not that he's ever gonna be, you know, nice."
"I guess we've all been growing up, along with Goku."
"Heh. You're probably right. Anyway, I guess there was some reason he went with that mush-mouthed pansy-ass Hazel."
"Gojyo ... during that fight with - with the Seitan Taisei: did I hear Hazel call to me? When I -?"
Gojyo looked at him and then looked away, stubbing his cigarette out in the dirt near the fire. "Yeah, you did. He was even polite: called you 'Mr. Spectacles.' I woulda been impressed, if I hadn't been a little busy just then. Hey, wow -"
"I guess Hazel-han's been grown' up too."
Gojyo was smiling at him sideways, pleased with himself. Hakkai smiled back and then sighed.
"I don't know if I'm quite ready to speak to Sanzo, myself. I'm still betwixt and between about it. You're better at forgiving than I am."
"I bet you'll do it, though."
"Yes ... we have a job to do together, after all."
"Yeah. And he needs us, Hakkai. Damn sure he ain't gonna make it West with just those two, no matter how badass Gat is."
He was getting out another cigarette. Hakkai reached out and stopped him. Gojyo looked at him quizzically. "Whassup?"
"What would I do without you?"
"He does need us. So it would be unworthy of me to hold a grudge."
"You would of figured that out yourself, Hakkai."
"I'm not so sure about that. I would have let it fester, I'm afraid." He pulled Gojyo toward him. Gojyo hastily tucked the cigarette packet and lighter away and put both hands on Hakkai's shoulders, bending his head so that they were nose to nose.
"Does this mean you're finished thinkin'?"
"Good. 'Cause I got some other ideas I wanna talk to you about ."
The last embers of the fire showed Gojyo's eyes as wicked, loving, and very hot. Hakkai smiled.
"Please, tell me more."