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Indelible by Celrevia
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indelible \in-DEL-uh-buhl\, adjective:
1. That cannot be removed, erased, or washed away.
2. Making marks that cannot easily be removed or erased.
3. Incapable of being forgotten; memorable.


There are certain things that Goku cannot forget.

Clouds, for one, because he used to imagine them from his cell in the mountains. Sanzo, for another, because Sanzo is with him in ways that he doesn't even know, presence pounding in his head and heart and skin.

Smell is something else entirely, because his olfactory senses are strong enough that the whiff of apples reminds him of Sunday morning in an old apartment and the crisp smell of fresh paper makes him think of beautifully sad eyes and blonde hair and something like Sanzo but in a dream that moves like molasses. They say glass has no smell, but Goku can tell its made out of frost and cold and a river frozen over, silt and death on the bottom and water on top.

With his eyes cracked open, he can take a breath and smell unwashed hair, old nicotine stuck on fingertips for all eternity, and stale beer from clothes washed in river water.

Goku wants to tell Gojyo that he stinks, but knows that it's not going to work, because the both of them are trying so hard to fool the other that it's almost, if not completely, laughable. Gojyo is no more asleep than Goku is, and the reason they're both pretending - Goku, head crooked with his ears alert, and Gojyo, with his back to the door but so far off the bed that he'd be able to leap toward the handle in a moment's notice - is because it's raining hard and heavy and the both of them feel like lead on the inside.

The drops are a heavy ratatata of rapid fire against glass, droplets like knives or spears or bullets from a vengeful summer god, and with each crack of thunder the room lights up. The puny window frame and the thin layer of protection offered by cheap glass rattles like death.

Goku thinks that one good strike and the whole thing will explode in his face, shrapnel and wind and rain cutting into him, a child's nightmare and, for the first time in six hundred odd years, Goku realizes that he's never really been a child in the way that a weapon - maybe a sword or something else that could cut back - has never been a child, because he's not afraid at all. If the window broke and shattered and cut into his flesh, the wound would only heal in a matter of an hour and he might just be worse for wear with wet hair and a few shallow wounds and the knowledge that it's worse outside than in.

There's only one bed to share tonight, so Goku's facing the wall and the window purposefully and Gojyo's facing his back and breathing the sick smell of cheap beer onto his neck. It's too hot to move away, humid from the summer downpour, the sheets sticking to his skin. There's no point in sleeping on the floor, it's dirty and their both tired and neither of them care enough to bother shoving the other off the bed.

Lightning snaps just outside their room, making the glass shake violently and the cracks in the wall suddenly visible. One good bolt, Goku thinks, watching strands of lightning stretch in the night.

Through thunder, if Goku really strains, he can hear Sanzo's voice across the hall. If he really tries, he can focus on Sanzo's heart beat, slow and steady. Sanzo's voice is harsh and breathy, like he's having a nightmare.

Goku knows better, though, because he's older and can feel everything that Sanzo feels in some ways. He's stronger too, because it doesn't hurt him as much.

It would hurt more for the glass to break and dig into him than for him to accept that there are just some things that he can't make better for Sanzo. There are just some things that he can not do for Sanzo, that Sanzo wouldn't let him do.

If he bolts, jumps over Gojyo pretending to sleep, he can reach Sanzo in four strides. Six beats before the next strike of lightning, just enough time for him to crash into something familiar. He's older and stronger and stays put, watching lightning and rain and feeling glass inside him rupturing.

Gojyo, in reality, kind of smells like Sanzo with that smell of sweat, smoke from cigarettes, bad beer, and that smell - like overripe fruit, overly sweet - of too many long nights on the road.

But Gojyo's no more like Sanzo than Goku is like Hakkai.

He tries to forget that in the night, just focus on that smell of ashes and alcohol and rock gently into his own hand, even though the bed creaks with every silent motion and he can feel the other side of the bed rock slowly in unison with him.

There are no rules beyond silence, and if Gojyo happened to say, as the thunder receded, "this is kind of sad", then Goku does not mention it the next morning because he had been long asleep before the storm had even descended and Gojyo had technically been asleep before he had been.

Goku watches raindrops slide down the glass and thinks about how Sanzo's hands smell like nicotine and are just as addicting.

If he focuses, he can hear Sanzo's heart beat, the sound of the breath in his lungs suddenly expelling, and the distant thunder rolling away. He doesn't forget that feeling.

Thunder shakes him but he does not break.



Author's Note: Done for July 2005 Word A Day.

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