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Delicate by a_mael
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Author's Notes:

I do not claim any right over any of the Saiyuki characters, etc.  The only thing I own is this particular fiction. Title inspired by Damien Rice Song of same title.

Chapter 1

It was a fine, mild day, perfect for a walk in the marketplace. At least, that was what Hakkai said right before he dragged Gojyo out with him to do the shopping. He had not even asked if the others needed anything in particular; he just stood up from the table in their small room, grabbed the hanyo by the hand and left. The door closed with a faint snick, leaving Sanzo and Goku alone in the room.

Sanzo was reading a paper, as usual. He was also waiting for the inevitable interruption from the monkey. Several minutes passed, and it did not come. The monk lowered his newspaper marginally, peering over the top of his reading glasses at the brown-haired young man. Goku was sitting on his bed, staring out the window, seemingly absorbed in whatever he was seeing through it.

His bed was situated against the wall; the one large window in the room stretched from halfway down the length of Hakkai’s bed to halfway up the length of Goku’s. Sanzo’s and Gojyo’s beds were against the opposite wall, feet facing, with the door in between them. There was enough room between each of the beds to admit a small table in the center of the room. It was a very odd way to arrange the furniture, and it had already caused minor injury to everyone except Hakkai, the table leaving small dark bruises on the hip bones and thighs of the unsuspecting.

Sanzo raised his paper, once again blocking his view of the eternally youthful Goku, and continued reading. Something’s up with the monkey, a small, often ignored voice in the blond man’s head piped up. So what? None of my fucking business, the more usual voice retorted. Violet eyes scanned the words on the page, registering nothing. He’s been quiet for days…relatively, anyway, the unwelcome voice continued, There must be something really bothering him. You’re his mentor, after all.

Sanzo ground his teeth in exasperation. If he could give his conscience corporeal form, he would. Then he would smack it with his harisen. Mentor, indeed. All he wanted was some quiet time to read his newspaper in peace. True, the monkey was not saying anything, or bothering him in any way, but that was the problem. He was in the room, and none of those things was happening. It was damned distracting.

In order to get Goku’s attention, Sanzo picked up an empty juice can from the table, and hurled it at the boy’s head.


Goku watched carefully as the created youkai dragged the half-breed out of the room by the hand. He had been watching them carefully ever since he first smelled it, a few weeks ago. Something was different with Hakkai and Gojyo, and though Goku had a clue what it might be, he was loathe to believe it without proof from his eyes to back up what his olfactory sensors were telling him.

When they were gone, he turned and gazed out the window. The market was in that direction. The two of them had been doing this more and more frequently over the past weeks, going out alone, leaving Goku behind with Sanzo. Not that he minded being alone with Sanzo, but he wondered why his company was no longer desirable to the others. Particularly on shopping trips, when an extra pair of hands was never a detriment.

Goku was not a little jealous of, and hurt by, this recent change in attitude. Besides, there was that smell. The scent that clung to both Hakkai and Gojyo now, shared between them, where they had always been separate. They still smelled like themselves, but that other odor lay under these, and it was the same on both of them. His primal brain screamed suspicions at him, which he steadfastly refused to believe without the proof he now sought.

Though Goku was naïve, he was not stupid, and he watched now for something concrete to solidify his hunch. He did not really expect to find one brazen act, but the circumstantial evidence was piling up under his constant observation. He dared not speak of it to Sanzo until he was sure. If he did, and turned out to be wrong, it would be fodder not only for the priest but also for the other two as well. Hakkai would be kinder, but he often his hid barbs so well that they felt like compliments, until one’s brain caught up.

Ah, there they were now. Goku sat up a little straighter, wide golden eyes taking in the tiniest details. Hakkai and Gojyo had exited the building by the front door, and were strolling side by side across the street. The walked slowly, falling into step in a leisurely stride. This was not at all like the purposeful pace that Hakkai set when Goku was with them. It seemed more intimate, somehow.

As the ageless child watched, Gojyo leaned over toward Hakkai, and their shoulders brushed together as the redhead bent just a little too close to the brunette’s ear to say something. Hakkai’s head fell back a little, the smile on his face so genuine when he laughed at whatever the kappa had said. Then the dark head fell slightly toward the other man’s shoulder, just barely grazing it. Others might not have seen this, but he was Son Goku, and his senses were preternaturally acute.

He watched them walk away together, so much closer than when he was around, until they turned a corner and were lost to his sight. He didn’t begrudge them whatever it was they were sharing now, but he was slightly disgruntled about the fact that they hadn’t acknowledged it. Should he tell Sanzo now? The monk probably wouldn’t care, but Goku did. Goku hated secrets.

He was snapped back to reality when something hard bounced off his skull at high speed.

“Oi, saru! Wake up,” Sanzo’s mellifluous voice followed.

“Sanzo! That hurt!” Goku rubbed at the sore spot left on his scalp by the contact.

“Shut up. Your head’s too thick to damage. What are you looking at?”

“Hakkai and Gojyo,” the response was distracted, Goku looking out the window again, though his targets were well out of sight now.

“Aa. Why?” The blond priest was no more loquacious when he was actually interested than at any other time.


“What?” the voice was exasperated now.

“I got something to tell you, I think.”

Sanzo lowered the paper and raised an eyebrow at the boy. “Go on.”


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