Acknowledgements and disclaimers: I do not own the concept of or characters in Saiyuki, which properly belong to Kazuya Minekura, but I do have lots of merchandising. No money was harmed in the making of this fic. Thanks to my betas Anon and NemKiss.
Hakkai stood on the porch of his... home, he supposed. He had been living in the small house with Gojyo for almost a year, darkness barricaded deep within his heart. His life was a lie of contradictions. After having lost the only woman he would ever love, and taken so many demon lives in retribution, he supposed he should feel guilty. Or feel grateful to be alive. Or feel *something*. Although he apparently still felt the need to pretend to feel, at least when anyone else was around. It was early evening, late enough that Gojyo had already left for town to earn their expenses at the gaming table, early enough that he wouldn't be back for hours.
His fingers were cold as he held Gojyo's cigarettes and favorite lighter. Earlier in the day Hakkai had swiped them off the table and hidden them in the kitchen. When his roommate asked him if he knew where they were, he'd lied with his smile and just answered "no". He still wasn't sure why.
Yesterday had been warmer. The two of them had been here, on the porch. Although his curiosity was as dead as the rest of his emotions, Hakkai had finally asked.
"Why do you smoke?"
Gojyo had looked at his cigarette, going unnaturally still. He was silent for too long. Eventually, he'd answered in a monotone.
"It tastes like death." Gojyo had flicked it into the night and gone inside before Hakkai could reply.
Hakkai shook one of the cigarettes out of the pack. It was smooth on his skin. He set the rest down on the rail, and regarded the white cylinder. Images slid through his consciousness. Red hair shielding eyes filled with melancholy, smoke playing through the strands. Gentle fingers swooping toward a waiting mouth. A warm voice from the darkness, talking about nothing particular, while embers burned trails in the dark. Smoking was as much a part of Gojyo as his laugh, or his clothes. It was his way of courting death. An offering to his own darkness within, a passive abuse.
Slowly, Hakkai put the filter in his mouth, and lit the other end, cradling the flame as if protecting it. Hakkai didn't court death, he just lived it. Lived dead and unfeeling. It was becoming harder lately.
Gojyo was right, he thought distantly. The smoke tasted like death.