"I'm sorry, I must be going."
Such a simple phrase, a cheerful smile and wave, and green eyes closed as he fell over the table, hand outstretched and palm too smooth. He remembers how they all froze, staring, lazy curls of smoke rising from Gojyo's cigarette and mingling with the steam from the soup. He doesn't want soup tonight.
The rice is sticky, hot and damp against his tongue. Plain and white, and filled with a bitter almost-taste that reminds him the salt is all used. He serves it anyway, misshapen mounds falling drunkenly on the plates, inebriated and listing to the side in a slow, hypnotic slide. Gojyo used to move that way when he was drunk, red eyes peering coyly between strands of hair, heavy-lidded and hot.
The bottle of saki was still full when they found him, slumped against the door, smiling at the sun. The sky was crimson, smiling its own welcome, and he looked happier than he had any right to. Now, there is never any liquor in the house.
Two meat buns wait on the table, the last addition to the meal. He wishes there were more, or even some hardier fare, but it will be enough if Sanzo eats even this. Time is a funny thing, whittling away appetite and flesh and dulling violet gaze, but leaving will strong and solid. A slow, careful climb up the stairs, and he rests the tray beside the bed. The muted cough as he turns to close the window and block the evening's chill settles low and heavy on his mind.
The eat, silently, and he clears the tray. He is full, sick with something other than food, and glad he can't remember more of before. One life's hunger is more than enough to starve his soul, and he knows that soon the famine will come.