For many days, the subject of greatest interest to the members of the Sanzo ikkou who weren’t Genjyo Sanzo was “What does Sanzo wear to bed?”
Hakkai and Gojyo assumed that Goku would know, seeing as he lived with him before the journey and often roomed with him, but when they asked, he said, “I dunno. At the temple, I didn’t sleep in the same room as him, y’know, and times I saw him when he got up in the middle of the night to pee or whatever he was wearin’ his jeans.”
Gojyo’s eyes lit up and widened at the mention of Sanzo’s jeans. “Was he wearing underwear beneath it? Or was he going commando?”
“What’s goin’ commando?”
Gojyo looked to Hakkai for help, so Hakkai helpfully said, “Commandos were troops used by South Africans in the Boer War--”
Gojyo, sensing that Hakkai was about to veer off into territory better left untouched, interrupted. “That’s all very boring, ‘Kai. Can you skip the history lesson?”
Hakkai glared at him briefly over his glasses, but took the hint and started over. “Commandos are members of small military assault units trained to operate quickly and decisively in especially urgent situations, such as hostage taking, or to raid enemy territory.” He paused to see if Goku had understood.
Goku said, slowly, “So ain’t we somethin’ like commandos?”
Hakkai chuckled and said, “Well, yes, by that definition, I suppose we might well be considered commandos. Wouldn’t you agree, Gojyo?”
He turned to Gojyo, hopeful that his deferring to his opinion would soothe any hard feelings over his tendency to resume schoolteacher mode and lecture about obscure topics.
Gojyo, holding his chin in his hands, said, “I guess, ‘Kai. Go on.”
Goku spoke again before Hakkai could continue. “So what does being a military ‘sault team have to do with underwear?”
“An excellent question,” Hakkai said, beaming. If Goku had been this curious about the world when he was tutoring him, he might have been more successful in teaching him something. As it was, he felt the experience was mostly a failure, and as it had been his only attempt to return to something that had given him great joy before Kanan was taken from him, the failure stung a little.
Hakkai continued, “A commando must be perpetually ready to go anywhere at a moment’s notice and travel through any terrain. Having to put on underwear could impede that ability. Also in some climates the many hours spent on the ground without access to bathing facilities could cause underwear to chafe and lead to an unsanitary medical condition.”
Gojyo snorted. “So does that mean you go commando, Hakkai?”
Hakkai looked at him in seeming shock. “That’s a rather personal question, Gojyo. I thought the topic at hand was what Sanzo wore, not what I wear.”
“I was just teasing. I can see the tops of your boxers over your pants sometimes and other times I can see the bottom edge wrinkle your pants.”
Hakkai chose not to think about what Gojyo’s close observation of his clothes meant and said, “Quite. Now Goku knows I’m a boxers kind of a guy.”
Gojyo said, “And I’m the kind of guy—“
Hakkai cut him off, hoping not to teach Goku the underwear preferences of everyone in the group. Sanzo, being the leader and a part-time asshole, was fair game, but not the rest of them.
Goku didn’t help any, though, when he piped up and said, “I don’t think Sanzo goes commando or whatever it is ‘cause he’s always insisted I wear my boxers all the time.”
“Thank you, Goku,” Hakkai said with resignation.
“Back to the original topic,” Gojyo said. “So was Sanzo wearing underwear under his jeans or was he going commando?”
“How would I know?” Goku asked plaintively. “Whenever I saw him like that, it was ‘coz I couldn’t sleep or had jus’ woken up myself. I didn’t go lookin’ inside his pants.”
For some reason Goku’s words made Gojyo snort. He started laughing and couldn’t stop until Hakkai slapped him on his back, causing him to hiccup.
“So that takes us back to our original inquiry,” Hakkai said. “What does Sanzo wear to bed?”
Gojyo turned to Goku and said, “You mean you haven’t been able to tell what he wears to bed when you’ve been rooming with him?”
“I usually go to sleep way before he does,” Goku said, defensively.
“That’s true,” Hakkai said, nodding sagely. “He does often stay up late reading a newspaper or drinking or playing cards.”
“Or getting in some target practice,” Gojyo added. “This sucks! How are we supposed to find out what he wears to bed?”
“Why does it matter anyway?” Goku asked.
Gojyo and Hakkai looked at each other and shook their heads. They didn’t think they’d be able to explain it to Goku’s satisfaction.
“No reason, really,” said Hakkai. “Just idle curiosity.”
“I’d like to know if he takes that black shirt and those arm warmers off when he goes to bed,” said Gojyo. “He has to take the robe off, right? Otherwise it’d get wrinkled.”
They sat there thinking about the fact that Sanzo’s robes always looked fresh, clean and unwrinkled when he wore them even though he only brought two or three of them with him for the trip. Maybe it was the power of Buddha that kept the robes clean. Or maybe the robes were afraid of Sanzo yelling at them or shooting holes in them if they were in less than perfect shape.
Goku piped up, “I’m pretty sure he hangs up his robe and doesn’t sleep in it.”
At that confirmation, Gojyo returned to the previous subject. “What about those black things he wears?”
“Wouldn’t know,” Goku said, searching for a stray banana he’d left earlier for when he got hungry again.
“Hmm. I’d love to find out what that sadistic son-of-a-bitch wears. Maybe we should check it out tonight, huh, Hakkai?”
They made arrangements with Goku, who was rooming with Sanzo, to come back and hide in the room shortly after Goku went to bed. At dinner, Gojyo would imply that he was going out to see a lady friend and Hakkai would excuse himself to go back to his room to throw off any suspicions about their absence.
The time came and everything worked like clockwork. Gojyo and Hakkai found places to hide in the closet and attached bathroom and Goku put on his nightshirt and got into bed as usual, though he was too excited to go to sleep. To assist them, Goku left a lamp on ‘low’ so Hakkai and Gojyo could see what was going on, albeit dimly.
When Sanzo came waltzing in close to midnight, yawning, he hung his robe up on a hook on the back of the door. Gojyo and Hakkai eased the doors to their hiding spots open sufficiently to see, at least a little.
The object of their curiosity sat on the bed, smoking, for awhile before peeling off his black singlet and arm warmers and placing them on the dresser. Then he removed his jeans and draped them over the nightstand.
Gojyo had to clap his hand over his mouth to prevent a loud hiss from escaping and possibly tipping Sanzo off to his presence. Hakkai just shook his head, marveling.
Goku was doing a good job of pretending to be asleep and snoring.
Sanzo was wearing camouflage-patterned boxers. Gojyo thought what a shame it was they weren’t at least camouflage-patterned briefs. He’d like to have gotten a closer look at that ass.
Sanzo carefully got into bed and pulled the covers up, turned the light out, and said to the resulting darkness, “Did you like the show, you fucking morons?”
Breaths were expelled all over the room, and Hakkai, unwilling to venture out for fear of being shot at, or worse, shot, said from the closet, “You knew all along, Sanzo?”
“What kind of fucking idiot do you take me for? I overheard you. I’ve overheard half of your stupid fucking conversations about me and what I wear.” He didn’t ask why they cared; he didn’t think he wanted to know the answer.
Aware they were now afraid to leave for fear of being shot, he added, “I won’t turn my gun on you if you leave in the next five seconds. One, two, three, four—“
By the time he got to ‘five’, Hakkai and Gojyo had hurriedly left their hiding spots. Sanzo knew Goku was in on it too but since he was still pretending to be asleep he let him be. He didn’t feel like tossing the monkey out of the room; he’d learned from experience that the moron made too much noise when he did that and the other guests complained about it.
Sanzo smiled to himself. This way, he could keep secret the knowledge that on other nights there was nothing between him and his sheets when he slept.