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Masticate by Celrevia
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masticate \MAS-tih-kayt\, transitive verb: 1. To grind or crush with or as if with the teeth in preparation for swallowing and digestion; to chew; as, "to masticate food." 2. To crush or knead (rubber, for example) into a pulp. intransitive verb: To chew food.


Gojyo wraps his lips around an apple, and looks out the window on rainy night. They bother him a lot, not as much as they bother Hakkai, but just enough to set him on edge. They make him think a little too hard. It's because of rainy nights and thinking too hard, remembering too much, that he can't watch Goku eat anymore.

For one, it's disgusting. Thinking about food dripping from the idiot's chin is like watching all that rain pour outside. He isn't quite sure how one little brat can manage to get chunks of tofu in his ears or soy sauce all down his front or why, exactly, after going to bed, it still smells like roasted crackling pork and stinky tofu (*).

The second reason is that it's positively frightening, and not just because he can pack it away like some beast of mythology.

Goku's teeth, up close and personal, are the most wickedly sharp things that Gojyo has ever seen. His incisors are grotesquely fanged, sharp as razors even though human laws dictate that they should be squared off and not so pointed, so damn dangerous. Goku's canines, as well, are too long for someone that small.

They nearly poke out of his mouth sometimes, leaving cuts and indentions on the brat's lips that you start to notice, after a while. When the kid gets excited enough to open his mouth and yammer, each ridge in his molars are prominent; the tops of the ridges are bleakly curved, built for cutting and tearing, and send shivers down his spine.

Gojyo has seen Goku tear clean through raw soup bones, the tough shoulder and neck disks thrown in for free by butchers after Sanzo is done haggling with them, as if they were gelatin. He has to talk louder during dinners, when Goku's slurping his way through meals, because as soon as Goku finds a bone, the crunching all but makes him writhe in his seat.

What's worse is that they go through so many mugs and cups because the monkey's teeth eventually end up puncturing the tin and ceramic. Goku's jaw strength allow him to crush pencils in a yawn, and at the same time make the tin of cheap cups fold after a bit, in the shape of Goku’s lips. Ceramic cups don't face much opposition either, they just end up crumbling away on the sides that Goku likes to drink from. As Sanzo sometimes point out, Goku, is the reason they can't have nice things on their trip.

There are a set of nice bite marks in his arm from Goku, a gift in battle, small pinpoints that have managed to scar him. Along Hakkai's back, there are scars that run real deep, just enough to give him the willies, from Goku's claws. The red marks of Goku's fingers stayed on both of their shoulders and their sides for more than a month, no matter what poultices Hakkai put on them to reduce the color. His ribs still hurt from being hurtled away by the kid, thrown as if he were nothing more than a ragdoll.

Sometimes, when he puts a friendly arm over the brat's shoulders, he can feel all the little wiry muscles underneath that gold skin jump. They're so tightly wound that Gojyo has to make the pit of his stomach stop jumping around at the thought of what he's standing next to. He's seen Goku do a back flip from lying down, landing it perfectly on his hind legs with his toes curling against the sheets, without so much as a thought.

Goku crushes mahjong tiles in his palms, when he's bored during a game or when he's not concentrating. Hakkai frowns upon it, buys or carves new ones, and tells Goku to be more careful -- as if saying it a million times will stop the muscles in Goku's fingers from being able to put dents in marble or jade.

It's not fear, it's anticipation, that make Gojyo scoot farther and farther away at meals.

He doesn't understand, sometimes, how that punkass monk can't see what he's got. Gojyo knows that the blonde isn't that dumb, can't be that dumb, but you start to question it after the priest just keeps hitting away at that dumb ape with a little paper fan.

It's like watching someone beat away at a god, something powerful wrapped up in that tiny body, with a rolled-up newspaper. The monkey, that dumb brat, just stares up at Sanzo like he's the truth of the world. If Goku's like a god then Sanzo must be all of Heaven bundled into one to hold down all that hidden power, and he hopes that isn't true because that'd make him an ant in comparison.

Goku's canines are a bunch of motherfuckers, sharp little things that could crush steel and send pieces of beef flying in his direction, and Gojyo can only hope that the shit of a monk remembers that Goku's heart is as soft as a peach.

On rainy night, Gojyo thinks, the apple's flesh tastes sweet in his mouth until he remembers that the pips are poisonous.


Author's Note: Originally for April 2005 Word A Day.

* stinky tofu - A rather infamous dish among the Chinese. It's "chou dofu" in Mandarin, literally "smelly/stinky tofu", and is a specialty in my hometown of Changsha, Hunan. The name does not lie; it smells pretty ripe but it tastes pretty good.

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