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A Different Kind of Hunger by keraha
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I. Goku

When Goku dreams, it is of curry and sushi and all of the delicious things that he can eat. In his mind, he grabs them with greedy fingers and crams them into his mouth until his cheeks are filled like a chipmunk's and he can hardly swallow for its bulk.

His stomach is full, distended with the delicious foods held inside. He eats and eats, and he suddenly finds that he cannot stop. There is something inside of him that craves fulfillment and there is nothing but foodfoodfoodfoodfood. There might not be food in the future, there might be starvation and warded bars and the sickening rise and fall of the sun, shadows streaking dark across a cave floor. There is food now; it must be eaten.

So he does.

Sometimes, his dreams become something terrifying, as he finally fills himself up to the brim, his stomach rounded and warm, he looks around and he is alone. There are only dirty plates and chewed on bones. There are empty seats and empty bowls.

Maybe Hakkai has gone with Gojyo to get more sake. Maybe Sanzo got tired of them and left.

Maybe he should wait.

Goku chews on a bone, sucking the last bit of flavor from it. Before long, in the unsettling silence of this restaurant (is it a restaurant? Where is everybody?), he finds himself gnawing on it. The bone breaks underneath his teeth and splinters dig into his gums. He grabs another bone and bites until his mouth is a mess of spilled food and bloody gums. He is nervous. He is afraid. He is alone.

He closes his eyes and chews. When he opens them again, the bowls are full, and he says to empty air, "I am saving you guys food. You should come. It is very delicious." He pats his stomach.

He expects Gojyo to drop a hand on his shoulder and say, "You saved us food?" then raise an eyebrow. "It must be truly disgusting."

It doesn't happen. Instead, Goku sits by himself, the table almost sagging with the weight of the dishes.

He waits.

Before long, the nervousness sets in, and he takes a little bit of rice-- just to make sure it tastes good, Goku says to himself-- and he finds that he cannot stop spooning it into his mouth. It is food and he cannot help himself. Foodfoodfood. Delicious things against his tongue. Flavor. Not dirt or the bits of dead grass he can reach from between the bars, hissing when the wards burn into his skin. It is not his fingernails, or the blood that came after he chewed those for too long. It is rich and varied. It is delicious.

He cannot help himself.

He eats.


When he wakes up, he is hungry. He has gorged on food, but it is not enough.

"Oi, saru," Gojyo says and flicks the end of a cigarette at him. "'Bout time you got up. We were just about to leave you."

Goku sees the back of Sanzo's head, Hakkai's head. He sees Gojyo's red hair ribboning in the wind. He sees trees passing them by and the tough durability of Jiipu below him.

He feels a rumble of emptiness in his stomach. He drapes his arms around Sanzo's headrest and he says, "I'm hungry."

"Hungry? You sounded like you were having a feast in your dreams," Gojyo says. He knocks Goku's head with his hand. "Wasn't that enough?"

"No," Goku says. "It wasn't."

His stomach rumbles, and, as Sanzo rolls his eyes, he forgets his dream.

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