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Room by Bhex
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by B

Sanzo closed the door. He thought about locking it, but somehow decided against it. What would be the point? Locking it would make him seem like he was upset. They probably already knew he had seen them.

He wished there was a more decent place to escape to. But it was raining, goddammit. And he wasn't going to run out into that goddamned torrent like a stupid monkey.

He walked to the closed window. Took out a pack of cigarettes. Trapped one stick between his lips and lit it.

And waited. If they wanted to pretend he saw nothing, it was fine.

A few deep breaths took out the clenching in his chest. With any luck, a few more would get the image out of his head.

He should at least stop wanting to kill the first thing that would walk through the door. He knew at the back of his head why he had left it unlocked. Closed, but unlocked. Anyone could get in.

And maybe he was hoping someone would get the hint.

Someone did. "Get out," he said to that someone.

That someone silently stepped in, and closed the door again.

He waited for Sanzo to speak again. He would do that. He must have waited, standing by the door, leaning back on the wall with his arms folded on his chest, for half an hour. Sanzo felt the warmth from patient green eyes fixed on him.

"...How long?" Sanzo asked after he put out his third cigarette.

"Not long," Hakkai answered softly. "A little over a month..."

"And when were you planning to tell me?"

Some hesitation. But when he spoke again, he was no less gentle: "Not while it was raining."

Sanzo's fist clenched. "It hasn't been raining for a little over a month."

"Sanzo, I..." Hakkai hung his head. "I was didn't need to know."

What reply would something like that warrant? A wry smile, a bitter retort, a gun to his forehead? Anything, Sanzo told himself hurriedly, anything that wouldn't betray how much he wanted to smash his open hand through the window at that moment.

"There was never a right time," Hakkai insisted.

"Stop it." Sanzo faced him finally. "It's none of my business. You two can go on all you want. Just don't do it around me or the monkey."

Facing Hakkai, of course, meant that he had to see how much what he said hurt.


Sanzo turned away again. What he had said was tantamount to a dismissal. He thought Hakkai would at least know him well enough to be aware of that.

But Hakkai still would not open the door.

In fact, he moved away from the wall, and steped closer.

"Sanzo," he said again.

Sanzo shut his eyes. They were the only two people in the room. Any distance was close enough to bring back the tightening in his chest.

Hakkai stopped walking when he stood by the chair beside the bed.

"...Neither of us wanted this to happen. It reached a point when we couldn't pretend it wasn't happening."

"Did you hear me? I said it's none of my business."

Hakkai paused. "As the leader of this goup, you need to know..."

"No, I don't." Annoyed with himself, with everything, he ran a hand through his hair. He knew he wouldn't be behaving this way if it wasn't raining.

If it wasn't raining...maybe he wouldn't have seen it. The thought just made him angrier.

"Hakkai. Just tell me right now if you want to abandon the journey. The two of you. Or is he a coward about it and he sent you in here to speak for you both?"

Another pause. "We have no plans of abandoning you, Sanzo..."

Sanzo spun around. The side of his fist hit the wall beside the window. It might well have hit the glass: he didn't know what he was doing.

He glared at Hakkai. His blue eyes were blazing, it was a wonder he still felt numb inside.

"I don't need you," he said through his teeth. "I don't need him. If the two of you think you're just staying with me out of _charity_ -- "

"It's not like that!" Hakkai said immediately. He reached out in appeal, but was careful not to touch.

"I never needed you. Stay with me if you want, you'll just have to earn your keep like you used to. Or leave, and never show your faces to me again. I don't care. You're not my problem. Now get out."

"We're staying because we _want_ to," Hakkai shouted back. "We won't leave just because you told us to!"

"Get out of this room!"

"No," Hakkai pronounced. "I want to know why you're behaving like this. The rain can't do this to you."

Sanzo would have said something else. God knew he wanted to. But he wouldn't have made sense. And he needed to breathe first.

"...I know you, Sanzo."

He wanted to get out, but the rain had trapped him in -- with the last person he would like to try and hold a decent conversation with. He took out a sixth stick. He let it stay on his lips unlit longer than necessary. And he didn't answer.

Close to an hour later, the rain abated. Hakkai was still in his room. Sanzo was halfway through his second pack of cigarettes and still neither of them had said a word.

He had been lost in his thoughts a while ago. In the silence the discordant emotions settled into a familiar feeling...perhaps the feeling that something important had been going on behind his back and he hadn't known. But it wasn't that, exactly...otherwise he would have been angrier than this...that was just an old sensation, like something out of a dream. And hidden beneath that sensation...

He supposed it was still anger. Or bitterness...though for the life of him, he would not be able to tell if he was bitter or not. It was a foreign feeling. It was akin to regret, but it bit deeper and held on. He had no name for it.

Another breath.

He looked at Hakkai. The brown-haired man was sitting this time, slumped on the chair by the bed, away from the light streaming through the window. Leaning forward, elbows on knees. Eyes dim and staring far away.

He did not look this thoughtful when Sanzo saw him earlier, with ...

It felt like the first time that day he really looked at Hakkai. Used to be, one of Hakkai's smiles or innocent gestures caught his attention and he looked. At least once a day, he looked; it had become a sort of private ritual. He used to think it meant nothing, that it was just something Hakkai did and he reacted to.

Now he was looking, and thinking that was probably the closest to a private moment they would ever have.

"He might be looking for you," he said. Hakkai faced him immediately and his green eyes came alive.

He flashed a small smile. "He's not looking for me."

Hm. "You're still waiting for me to explain myself?"

"Not really." Hakkai glanced out the window. "The rain's stopped. I'm just waiting here for the sun to come out. ...If it's all right."

At least his companions knew when to take advantage of a better mood. "Do what you want."

"Sanzo...would you have something"

_Against_ them? The two of them? Where should Sanzo start?

Perhaps at the fact that they were both male...? But that had never been an issue. It was something that came up as a joke among them (initiated by Gojo, of course) but ended up being a somewhat serious discussion. What _if_ one or even more of them ended up being gay?

Goku had been fine with it -- after a lengthy attempt on the part of everyone else to explain _why_ society happened to think homosexuals were deviants. "Love is love," he had said. Hakkai had seconded it. Gojo had made fun of it. Sanzo had told all of them to go to sleep.

Love is love...Sanzo simply wished he could end it at that.

"Tell me...why him?"

Hakkai was taken aback by this question. Right after the question left Sanzo's lips, he found he understood the look on Hakkai's face: asking aloud made it sound like "Why him and not me?"

And that was just uncalled-for.

Hakkai might have been embarrassed. He was facing away from the light. "I don't know..." he thought aloud. After a second, he decided to answer, "He makes me laugh."

_Laugh_?! Did that ever matter?

Sanzo found himself searching through his memories. Whenever Hakkai was looking especially distressed or pensive, Gojo would do something stupid and an embarrassed chuckle would escape Hakkai. Or Gojo would poke fun at Goku for no reason -- it made sense to Sanzo finally. Gojo exerted an effort to make Hakkai laugh. All those childish tricks, all that inane muttering and whining, was to get Hakkai's attention.

To make Hakkai laugh.

Whenever Gojo performed for (what was apparently) Hakkai's amusement, Sanzo would react negatively. If it was obvious that Gojo was shooting for Hakkai's notice, he would snap "Leave him alone" and cause Gojo to draw away mumbling. Hakkai would look at Sanzo with what Sanzo thought at the time to be gratitude. And then Hakkai would turn away, lost in reverie.

...He made Hakkai laugh.

Of course it mattered.

"There's room inside him for me. And he needs me, Sanzo..."

Sanzo replied, through a puff of smoke, "He's not the only one who needs you."

Whatever it might have meant to him, it took a long time for Hakkai to answer this. And when the reply came, it only sounded honest, not heartfelt: "He was the one who came to me first."

Seconds passed for Sanzo. Minutes. Hours. Days.

He extinguished the cigarette even if it was far from burned up.

So if Gojo had not been first...if he had not been first...

"And I -- well -- what's done is done." Uneasy, Hakkai stood and made his way to a spot by the window, beside his golden-haired companion.

The discordant emotions came rushing back to Sanzo, he was sure it showed on his face. Hakkai should know him better than to stand that close. He should have known where Sanzo was going with all those questions, with the mere lack of constant direction to leave the room. All that smoke. There was no way to look him in the face.

Hakkai, thankfully, was not looking him in the face to begin with.

Sanzo chose to zero in on his own thoughts. Why _was_ he behaving like this? It wasn't like it would ever turn out that he really _did_ have feelings to confess first. It wasn't like Gojo was some sort of rival. It wasn't a betrayal; no one, not even he himself, could have known he was going to react this way.

And it wasn't as if he didn't know.

"You must've noticed," Hakkai ventured, as if reading his thoughts. "I'm sure you have."

He had. But he never paid attention to all those hints. He sometimes even pretended they never happened.

They all had nightmares, but when Hakkai had nightmares, it took him a little longer to recover. Hakuryuu, the dreamcatcher, could only take so much at a time.

Goku and Hakuryu would be the ones fussing over Hakkai until peace returned to him. Gojo would be the one asking the silence, long after Goku and Hakuryu had settled back down again, if Hakkai was all right. Answer or no answer, he would ask. Through all this, Sanzo would be pretending to sleep.

Gojo would always be looking after Hakkai. And Sanzo always noticed. How could he not?

He was always looking after Hakkai, as well.

"...What's done is done," Sanzo remarked.

"We're not leaving the journey," Hakkai said with certainty.

"Hm. What about the idiot monkey?"

An ambiguous smile. "I for one have no plans of telling Goku. ...Do you?"

"It'll come out eventually."

"It'll only appear as it is," Hakkai gently answered, "when he's ready."

"Or maybe he'll find out the way I did."

Silence. "...At least I'm sure he would react differently."

Hand through his hair again. The discussion was going in circles. Hakkai was pretty damn underhanded, when he wanted to be.

"How else do you think I could have reacted?" _I thought you knew me well enough so I would never need to tell you. I thought you knew._ "What did you want me to do?"

"Nothing," Hakkai said sadly. "Nothing, Sanzo."

The tone of his voice made Sanzo bite back his next words. There was much behind that sadness. Something in it called to the feeling that Sanzo could not name.

Gojo would never raise his voice at Hakkai like this.

And if by some freak chance he ever did, Gojo would say he was sorry.

Sanzo could only look out the window.

He brought back to mind those many nights when he and Hakkai stayed awake together, planning...discussing affairs that would mean life or death for their entire group. They discussed liabilities, sacrifices...Hakkai would be the voice of reason and compassion every time. He did not always agree with Sanzo: he did not need to.

And then they talked about themselves. Hakkai had more fond memories than Sanzo could hold in his own heart. Sanzo had too few of his own, and Hakkai was only ever willing to share, smiling.

_He's not the only one who needs you._

None of his companions ever needed protecting. They got stupid sometimes, but in all, they didn't need looking after, or even assurance that they were in safe hands. Hakkai, he had always believed, was the one he could most rely on to take care of himself.

Hakkai was the only one among them who had faced and conquered his own demons.

Few in _any_ age could wear a smile as a mask with absolute comfort. Hakkai's masks were precious. The more Sanzo looked at them, in that manner which he thought meant nothing, the more he envied them, wanted them. Wanted to hold them in his hands.

_Never live for only for yourself..._

And he thought back to those times when he recited the evil sutra, for anyone's benefit. Those times when he swore to himself he would not take in something that would ever need protection. Those times of utter desperation when he stifled back a cry of someone's name...

Those times had never seemed like such a crock of shit as they did now.

Hakkai had needs. So did he. And he thought Hakkai knew him well enough to know what he needed, even more than he did.

But then he thought he knew Hakkai better than this.

He thought he knew many things. It turns out he did not even know what he was going to do when Hakkai would have to leave the room.

Before that could happen, he told Hakkai, "That's enough. The sun's out. Go."

Hakkai said nothing, and looked at him. He met those green eyes, and wished to God he could make them smile.

But nothing Sanzo could do would make Hakkai undo his choices. Nothing he could say could change the way things were.

The door was closed.

After an eternity, Hakkai bowed his head slightly, then walked away from the window.

Sanzo did not watch him go. He felt warmth going out of him, flowing toward the door that was being opened, leaving the room.


He still did not look.

" will never lose me."

When he looked, Hakkai was gone. But he had left the door open.


Sanzo walked to the door and laid one hand on it. He realized only then that with the door ajar like that, he could walk out...

...and he could follow.

For once.

At last.

He would of course be risking that he should _not_ have followed. But if his company was not welcome, he could always walk back into his room. And stay there, simmering in emotions he would not have been able to sort out.

Or he could...

Without setting a foot out of the room, Sanzo closed the door.

He sat on his bed. The sun was shining bright out.

Inside, it felt like it was raining.

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