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Lost Faith

by P L Nunn


Chapter Two


It had to be a record. It was a week now. Hell over a week in a few hours when dawn rolled round again - - and Sanzo still wasn't pressing to move on. He hadn't sat still in one place so long since they'd began this journey westward.

Sanzo was in a sulk. A depression. A mood to end all moods, if Gojyo were any judge. It was beginning to piss him off. It hadn't gotten really bad until the incident with the nightmare and the sutra's going all crazed in the middle of the night. After that, if you could manage to get even a word out of the monk, it was a grand accomplishment. He spent a lot of time out in the city alone. He came back more often than not drunk and barely coherent. But the sex was good, even though it felt like a man was taking advantage of a monk that could hardly recall his own name. He didn't feel bad enough not to keep doing it. Sanzo was particularly open to experimentation when he was smashed. Sanzo was pretty much willing to let Gojyo do what Gojyo wanted on such occasions. He gave the most amazing head when he was drunk and left Gojyo's cock smelling faintly of whisky or sake or whatever it was that Sanzo had been swilling, in the process.

If the monk hadn't been deep in the midst of some personal dilemma that he absolutely refused to talk about and suffering because of it - - well, this would have been as close to nirvana as Gojyo could have imagined a body could get this far out into the uncivilized lands.

He and Hakkai talked about it during the day when Sanzo had gone sulking off to start the cycle all over again and Goku moped around the city, dreadfully depressed over Sanzo's odd behavior. Well they didn't talk about the sex - - for the most part - - but about how long this streak of Sanzo's was going to last and what they were going to do about it if he didn't snap out of it soon. And the cause.

"He dreams about his old teacher a lot." Gojyo said, sitting on the grass in one of Tinto's small parks. Hakkai sat with his back to a tree across from him, stroking the sinewy white neck that draped around his own. A soft, content purring rose from the sleeping dragon.

"And he's cursing the gods, which sort of freaks me out a little, him having a more direct line to them than most folk. I don't relish having one of them send a bolt of lightening down or something to smite him for his disrespect with me sleeping in the same room."

"Not to mention Sanzo getting charred crispy." Hakkai reminded him with a smile.

"Yeah. Not to mention that." Gojyo took a long drag off his smoke, uncomfortable. It was one thing - - a damned big thing, to be honest - - to admit to Hakkai he was screwing the monk - - it was quite another to admit that he gave a goddamned what happened to him. You got protective and soft hearted over women - - not over men. No matter how sweet they felt under you or how hot their lips around your cock felt or that they swallowed and didn't complain about it. Well, that last he figured was only thanks to the liquor. He didn't imagine a stone sober Sanzo would appreciate a mouthful of cum. He rather imagined he'd be rather violently put out.

"It all goes back to that demon in Ho'gah village." Hakkai said. He'd theorized on that before, on just how badly that dark, vengeful spirit had messed with Sanzo's head. Sanzo wouldn't speak of it. Sanzo wouldn't speak of any of the things that really mattered to him. Like somebody else knowing or even - - god help him - - trying to help out, would make him weaker.

"I don't know if it's that." Hakkai said thoughtfully. "But maybe. I think Sanzo is scared and that makes him angry, but he doesn't really have anything to take it out on - - so he's finding other outlets."

"Scared? Sanzo? Like hell. And what do you mean no outlet. He bitches at us all the time."

"Its not the same. Its really not the same."

Sanzo scared. That made him think. Maybe it was true. He hadn't called up the sutra's that night because he was feeling comfortable. So his nightmares were terrifying him and he couldn't shake it. That was understandable. Gojyo had experienced quite a few horrifying nightmares himself - - and had sometimes been grouchy the day after - - but he hadn't just given up. And that's what it seemed Sanzo was doing. Giving up the journey, loosing himself in any escape he could find. Using the booze. Using Gojyo. Gojyo didn't like it, but it made sense.

It came to a head that afternoon. Sanzo returned early from his haunts, not as drunk as he had been the last few nights, a faint scowl on his face, but overall calm and cool and focused. He showed up at the end of their table during dinner and Goku's face lit up like he'd come bearing gifts or something. The kid's memory was short enough, Gojyo thought, that it must have seemed eons to him since Sanzo had sat at a table with them, instead of days.

"Sanzo! You going to eat dinner with us? We're having the house specialty and noodles and - - "

"Shut up, Goku." Sanzo said, not looking at him. Not looking at any of them really. Goku did, happy enough to take the abuse over nothing at all.

"The mission is over. I'm not doing this anymore. The gods can find somebody else to slay their demon. Hakkai, take the sutra back to the temple. I don't want it anymore."

Hakkai stared at him, mouth open, caught so badly off-guard by that proclamation that he lost all grip on his usual bland expression.

"What the fuck does that mean?" Gojyo was shocked, but not into silence.

"What the fuck did it sound like? Was I speaking in tongues?"

"But - - Sanzo - -" Hakkai was still trying to get his wits together. Sanzo could not have said anything more shocking to them. Not a single thing came to mind that would have been more out of character.

"Are you out of your freakin' mind?" Gojyo stood up, palms flat on the table. Pissed off. Righteously furious at that matter-of-fact announcement. "After dragging our assess all the way out here, you can't just up and quit!"

"Stop me." Sanzo said simply, and turned on his heel to walk away.

"Sanzo," Goku spoke up, voice small and frightened. "What are we going to do?"

Almost, Sanzo hesitated. Almost his step faltered and he came close to looking over his shoulder, not able to shrug off Goku as easily as he could Gojyo and Hakkai, but with an effort of will he managed it. "Whatever you want. I don't give a fuck."

It took them all night to calm Goku down and even then it was only a temporary fix. The kid was so upset that he lost his appetite and for Goku that was a major thing. The kid didn't understand. He couldn't wrap his mind around the fact that Sanzo was throwing in the towel. Oh, he knew the monk was upset, but he knew less about why than Gojyo did and would have understood less than that if anyone had taken the time to explain it to him. Hakkai tried, in terms Goku could comprehend. The kid wasn't stupid, he was just a little blind when it came to the damned monk. God knew why, when Sanzo never went out of his way to treat him kindly. Well, take that back, sometimes Sanzo surprised hell out of them and did show the kid consideration, but generally only when Goku was down and really needed it. Thing was, Gojyo didn't think those rare acts of kindness came that hard to the monk, it was just he hated letting on that he was capable. It was like he was afraid somebody was going to start expecting it of him and then his reputation would be fucked good and proper.

He wasn't in such a mood this week. Gojyo didn't see him for two nights after his little announcement in the restaurant. If he came back to the room, he did it after Gojyo was asleep and left before he awoke. Personally Gojyo didn't think he did and lost a few hours sleep wondering where in hell he was sleeping. Not jealous per say. Not really - - it wasn't like the monk went out of his way to make new friends - - and who was Gojyo really, to complain if he did - - it was only the mood he was in - - he was as likely to be attracted to trouble as not. And though Sanzo was damned good at taking care for himself - - well, a body had to worry a little about a comrade so far off the beaten path.

He went out looking the third night, after Goku had taken all of Sanzo's absence he could and had stormed off on his own to look for the monk. Hakkai and Gojyo had exchanged wary glances - - having put off too long trying to pin Sanzo down and talk to him themselves. It needed to be done and badly, it was just neither of them had particularly built up the fortitude to face him and do it. Not that it wouldn't be on Hakkai's shoulders eventually, since Gojyo and Sanzo's conversations of late generally led to more physical endeavors than issues being resolved.

Hakkai went off after Goku, not wanting the kid loose in the city with that wild look in his eyes, and Gojyo went off on his own, heading the opposite way, down towards the riverside where the rent was lower and the lights stayed on longer through the night to accommodate the never ending stream of working class folk out to relieve the stress of the day.

There were block after block of bars and taverns, gaming rooms and houses of ill repute. Any vice a man might want was here. Rumor had it there more illicit things still, available down river in Tinto's sister city of Ruvan. If you didn't mind mixing with youkai that is. You heard tales in the bars of blood baths in Ruvan, where some youkai had gone blood crazy and rampaged until either the humans there or the other youkai cut him down. Rumor was it was getting worse, but then maybe it was just the poverty of Ruvan overwhelming rational. Ruvan wasn't near as rich as Tinto, few of the decent factories wanting to stay where there were so many unpredictable youkai. Youkai might work for less, being youkai - - but nowadays, you couldn't trust them.

Gojyo scowled, listening with half an ear to the talk going on at the bar, while he scanned over the heads of the patrons looking for that one fair head that would stand out among a sea of dark ones. It was the sixth maybe seventh bar he'd strolled through. He'd had drinks in a few of them, all the while asking himself why he was bothering. If Sanzo didn't want to be found, Sanzo wouldn't be found. If Sanzo didn't want to talk to them, nobody was going to force him. Besides, he was getting tired of the slurs.

The folk here, living so close to a town with a healthy youkai population knew the signs of a half breed. After the second comment about the color of his hair and the red of his eyes and the implied insult on his parentage, he was ready to crack a few heads together. He refrained, not drunk enough yet, or offended enough to want to take on an entire bar.

Still, it put him in a fine mood when he finally did find the monk.

Sanzo was playing at dice, at a corner table at the back of one smoky bar at the very edge of the riverside. The smell of old fish and bilge water from the docks not so far away competed with the sour smell of cheap bear and body odor. It wasn't the sort of tavern Gojyo would have thought Sanzo found appealing. But then, Sanzo was far from sober.

He stood around the table in the company of a half dozen other surly looking characters, black shirt, black jeans, hair a pale, pale fringe over the collar of the shirt. Apparently his luck had been good, for he had a small pile of coin beside him on the table. More so than the other players, who weren't looking all that pleased with his winning streak.

Gojyo stalked over, stopping close enough on Sanzo's elbow that the monk glanced over his shoulder with a warning growl. It took a second for those violet eyes of his to focus on Gojyo and a half second more for his mind to put a name to the face. He didn't say a thing. Just sniffed and turned back to the game. The lot of miscreants around the table looked as likely to stab you as throw a hand of dice with you.

"Well at least your taste in drinking buddies can't get any worse." Gojyo commented and got a few dull glowers for his trouble.

"What the fuck do you want?"

"You find a new bed somewhere? Haven't seen you in a few days."

"None of your business."

"Oh - - really? Yeah, why should I give a rat's ass if you end up dead in the river. 'Cept Goku would be upset and he'd probably cry and I can't stand people crying over shit that doesn't deserve the effort."

Sanzo glared up at him, pissed off at that. "You fucking asshole - -" He was just drunk enough, Gojyo thought, to actually use the gun he was fumbling for.

"Toss the dice or get out of the game." Someone barked from across the table, effectively drawing Sanzo's attention away from Gojyo. The gun came out and there was a collective shying away, a collective ducking for cover and possible grabs for other concealed weapons. Fuck.

Gojyo caught Sanzo's wrist from behind, wrapping his other arm around Sanzo's waist and dragging him backwards. Sanzo cursed and made a swipe at the pile of coin with his other hand, managing to gather a little of it and scattering the rest.

"Goddamned you, Gojyo, my money."

"Fuck your money." Gojyo had the gun hand down at Sanzo's side, out of easy view. Sanzo was struggling a little, but not enough to cause much notice as Gojyo forced him through the crowd and outside. When they were on the dark street, Sanzo wrenched his arm away, staggering a step when Gojyo simply let go. He was wasted enough to have to take a second to gather his balance before he spun and hissed.

"I ought to shoot you."

"Yeah, you ought to." Gojyo agreed. "Try it."

Sanzo scowled and brought the gun up, ready to pull the trigger. Gojyo yelped and ducked under his arm, faster by far than a drunk monk, and came up, twisting Sanzo's wrist hard enough to make him hiss. Gojyo ended up with the revolver and before Sanzo could demand its return, Gojyo smiled and tossed it into the mouth of a dark, dirty alley.

"Shoot me now, monk."

Sanzo's eyes went wide with indignant shock. He mouthed a no doubt despicable curse and shoved Gojyo hard, before stalking towards the alley to retrieve his gun. Gojyo sauntered behind, figuring it would be an amusing spectacle watching the monk sift through accumulated garbage looking for it.

Sanzo kicked at a pile of wadded paper, practically growling in his disgust.

"You half-breed son of a youkai bitch asshole."

"Watch what you say, you might piss me off and you haven't got your little gun to give you an advantage this time." Gojyo drawled through clenched teeth.

Sanzo hissed, whirling to swing at him. It was a pretty decent hit, considering how off the monk's balance was. Gojyo took it on the jaw and tasted blood in his mouth. He hit back and connected. Sanzo reeled back, tripped over a pile of debris and hit the grimy wall of the tavern, legs splayed wide to keep from toppling over completely. Gojyo shoved him back when he tried to push away from the wall and pressed against him, holding him there.

"What was that you called me, dirty monk?"

Sanzo glared at him furiously. "A half -bree - - "

Gojyo slammed his head back with a palm to the forehead. The back of Sanzo's head hit the wall with a solid thump and his mouth opened with the beginnings of a curse. Gojyo cut that off too, covering Sanzo's mouth with his own in a harsh parody of a kiss. Teeth and tongues and lips clashed. It was hard to tell who's blood flowed the most freely, but both their mouths were hot with it. Sanzo's fingers clawed at his back, nails biting into flesh even though the layer of clothing.

Gojyo's fingers tore at the button of Sanzo's jeans, jerked the zipper down and hinged in the belt loops, ripping the pants down past the monk's thighs. It bared the sleek whiteness of Sanzo's groin, the sliver of belly visible through the unbuttoned lower half of the shirt, and the bobbing pink of his erection.

Gojyo pressed his hips hard against Sanzo's, grinding him against the wall. It had to have hurt, Gojyo's belt buckle and the coarse material of his pants on the one side and the rough wall on the other and only bare flesh in-between. He raked his hands up under the fall of black shirt, over the hard, lean muscles covering Sanzo's ribs, to the taught little nipples, hard as rocks under his fingers. Sanzo cried out, slamming his head back against the wall again of his own accord, trying to get to Gojyo's pants and not able to quite maneuver it, flattened as he was between Gojyo and wall,

"Goddamn you - -" Sanzo gasped and gasped again as Gojyo scraped the front of his trousers forcefully against Sanzo's livid cock. "Oh - - god - - god - - Gojyo - - just - - do - - it."

Gojyo grinned, reaching down to push Sanzo's jeans far enough down to catch them with the toe of his boot. He stepped down, pooling them at Sanzo's feet, then caught one of the monk's knees and lifted his leg up and out of them, sans sandal. He leaned forward, pressing all of his weight against the monk, forcing Sanzo's knee to his chest and his other foot halfway off the ground, fastening his lips to that particular hollow under the monk's ear that he found so appealing. He thrust again, hard and hurtful, wanting the grimace of pain he got in payment for the half-breed comment.

He unzipped after that, just loosened his fly without even bothering with his belt, pulled himself out one handed, smearing the pre-cum leaking out of the tip of his cock around the head with his thumb. He unerringly found the entrance between Sanzo's legs and shoved up with a grunt, seating himself down the root.

Hot, tight smoothness welcomed him. Sanzo pressed his face into Gojyo's shoulder, teeth latching hold of his jacket to muffle the cry. Gojyo thrust again, angry and hard and desperate. Sanzo's foot left the ground, his back scraped against the wall. He cried out occasionally, gasping little moans that came and went in time with Gojyo's harsh rhythm. And in between them ragged whispers in Gojyo's ear. Harder. Faster. Harder.

It was enough to make Gojyo loose his hold on time and place and situation, blanking his mind of everything but the heat that sucked him in, the overwhelming sensations that fanned out through his body from that one central point between his legs. In this dark, decrepit alleyway, under the pretense of violence, a burning blood lust came over him that took away reason. That took away everything but the heat of the body he thrust into. He couldn't seem to delve deep enough - - if he went any deeper Sanzo would swallow him up and he'd cease to exist.

Sanzo came, wetting Gojyo's shirt and slicking his own belly, muscles clenching around Gojyo's cock so tightly that he cried out. It pushed him over the edge and into those few brief moments of ultimate bliss that accompanied his balls tightening up and emptying themselves into a willing vessel. Gojyo thrust rapidly, eyes shut and teeth clenched in orgasm, fingers biting into Sanzo's hip and leg so hard that his nails left little bloody crescent moon shapes in otherwise perfect flesh. And then he could breath again and think coherently.

Sanzo's arms were around his neck. Tight. His face pressed against Gojyo's neck. His cheek was damp. The way he was breathing - - uneven little hitches - - sounded like sobs. Reaction to a damn powerful climax. Gojyo felt it in his own chest. Short of breath and wasted. Gojyo let Sanzo's leg down, but kept his other arm about his waist. Lifted a hand and spread his fingers out in Sanzo's golden hair. Soft and silky and cool to the touch, so unlike the fevered heat of his skin. He stroked it, leaning there and trying to catch his breath. And for a few rare moments, Sanzo was dazed enough and drunk enough to appreciate it. And for those few moments, with his hand in impossibly soft, improbably colored hair and Sanzo's breath warm against his neck and Sanzo's arms around his neck, he was sorry he'd hurt him - - and he damn well had, no question there - - but then the monk came back to himself with a start and shattered the moment of regret.

Sanzo's head came up and his hands shoved hard at Gojyo's shoulders. "Son of a bitch." He hissed. "Back off!"

Gojyo did, tucking himself back into his pants in the process. Sanzo glared at him, back pressed to the wall, long black shirt covering his now limp organ, but not the lean length of his legs. Nor the trail of blood sneaking down the inside of one thigh or the marks of Gojyo's fingers.

"Sorry. Sanzo - - sorry." Gojyo said, meaning it.

Sanzo glared and dropped into a crouch, grabbing after his jeans and sandals. "Fuck off. Like anything you're capable of could hurt me."

Gojyo crouched down to be at eye level, then let his gaze swing down between Sanzo's legs. "I made you bleed. That must have hurt."

"You've made me bleed before."

"You haven't cried before."

Sanzo blinked at him, all the anger washed away in a moment of pure shock. He lifted a hand, touching his cheek, catching moisture on his fingers and staring at it appalled. He opened his mouth. Shut it. Stood up with a grunt and stepped into his jeans.

"Damn cheap beer." He muttered finally. "I hate cheap beer."

"Yeah." Gojyo agreed. "That cheap stuff will fuck you up every time. Must have been the beer."

"Find my fucking gun." Sanzo stalked away, trying for all he was worth not to walk like he was in discomfort. He had a smoke between his lips by the time Gojyo caught up with him and a hooded, speculative look in his eyes.

"Should I take the bullets out before I give this to you?" Gojyo inquired.

Sanzo held out his hand.

Gojyo laid the gun across his palm and the monk slipped it into his waistband.

"So where we going?" Gojyo kept Sanzo's pace easily.

"We're not going anywhere?"

Gojyo kept walking, until the monk finally glanced askance at him from under the tousled fall of his hair. "To bed. I'm going to go to bed. Alone."

Gojyo shrugged. "Okay. I'm a little tuckered myself."

Sanzo cast a glare back at him, eyes hardly visible from beneath the shadows of too long hair. Gojyo knew they must have been narrowed dangerously from the set of his mouth, from the almost visible tick in his cheek that was a damn sure warning that there was a great deal of anger being suppressed. Which was an oddity in itself, since Sanzo usually didn't go to much effort to actually hold in the irritation.

"You're not welcome."

"What? In the room? Why the hell not? You develop a sudden sense of modesty?"

"Fuck off. Sleep with Hakkai and Goku."

"They're better company than you, you damn cranky bastard. What the hell is wrong now? Is it that I kicked your ass back there, or that I saw you shed tears?"

Sanzo stopped and took a shuddery breath, fists clenched at his side, a very low growling sound emanating from his throat.

"I - - wasn't - - fucking - - crying - - asshole." He had to take another breath. "And you didn't kick my ass."

Gojyo snorted. He'd done something to it. "You know, if you've got something going on - - some big problem you're wrestling with - - it wouldn't hurt to - - you know - - maybe talk to us about it, instead of running off all half-cocked and quitting the mission and all that."

"The only problem I have is you and if you don't leave me alone, I swear to fucking god I'm going to shoot you."

"Okay, then go and talk to Hakkai if all's you wanna do is fuck me - -"

"Would you shut up?" Sanzo had to have bloody gauges in his palms from his nails by now.

Gojyo ignored the suggestion and went on. " - - 'cause you know, Hakkai's really good at listening and hashing things through and he thinks maybe you're all uptight still about what happened in Ho'gah with that demon getting into your head - - -"

"Would you and Hakkai stop talking about me!" Sanzo snapped. "God, you're babbling on more than Goku, tonight. What the fuck is your problem?"

Gojyo leaned in close, eyes narrowed and threw Sanzo's answer to the similar question he'd asked him back to him. "You are, asshole and you're Hakkai's problem and Goku's problem and you don't give a flying fuck."

"Just shut up. You don't know anything about anything, so why are you making noise at me that doesn't have any meaning."

"I know you're pissed at somebody and it isn't us." Gojyo snapped, irritated and letting slip things he probably ought not have because of it. "I know you're cursing the gods at night when you sleep - - and Komyou."

Mistake. Sanzo drew a hissing breath in between his teeth. Gojyo didn't get another sound out of him the rest of the walk back to the inn. There was something hostile enough and dangerous enough in that silence that made Gojyo knock on Hakkai's door without a second thought and take refuge in with him and Goku for the night.

It had gone too far. Sanzo realized that with an unnerving flutter of nausea in his gut. He lay in the darkness and stared at the ceiling, head reeling just a little from the after effects of too much drink mixed with one too many blows to the head. It was a hard thing to admit. If he was loosing control of the situation this badly, then this thing with Gojyo had to stop.

Gojyo was overstepping his bounds, taking liberties that had nothing to do with sex. If it had just been the sex, Sanzo could have dealt with it. The sex was fine - - he just didn't like the vulnerability. He didn't like loosing control to someone else - - especially someone as irksome as Gojyo. He'd been waging a running battle with Gojyo for just that since they'd first met. Two assertive, dominant personalities clashing - - it had only turned personal - - really, really personal of late when the sex had come into the mix. And with the addition of that Gojyo thought he had the right to meddle. He thought he had the right to delve into areas that he was in no wise welcome. And somehow Sanzo had relaxed enough to let things slip - - and that was the crux of the matter. It was him - - not so much Gojyo that was the problem. Because no matter how he tried to skew the reality for his own peace of mind - - when the heat of the moment overcame him he forgot all about pretense and barriers and who was supposed to be in charge of who. He liked being slammed against a wall and fucked as much as he liked Gojyo's mouth between his legs discovering creative ways to make him loose his mind. He liked, for those few brief moments, the closeness of another human being - - even if the human being in question was half a youkai.

Hell - - he liked Gojyo more than he thought he ever would - - certainly more than he'd ever admit - - at least when he wasn't driving him up a wall fighting with Goku or going out of his way to find Sanzo's very last nerve and snap it.

When had that happened? Was it a by product of the sex - - or had it happened before that? He honestly didn't know, but it worried him. The liking of people. Once you started really liking people you were opening yourself to pain. Casual acquaintances couldn't really hurt you if they ended up dead or if they stabbed you in the back. You could say a few words over their graves or shoot them between the eyes as the situation demanded and that was that. Life would go on.

When the people you loved died or betrayed you - - well life didn't go on - - not like it had before. Things were always inevitably altered and one more piece of your soul was eaten away by the grief. Wasn't it really simpler to avoid caring?

But he'd slipped. God knew Goku had wormed his way past defenses - - with his innocence and this utter belief in Sanzo. As if Sanzo warranted it. And Hakkai had sort of eased in without ever really trying, placid and understanding and reliable, with enough turbulent waters under the calm surface to make you go to efforts to figure him out.

And Gojyo - - it was just the sex. It was just the sex. No matter that it was too damned alluring to lie next to him afterwards when he was asleep and enjoy his warmth and the feel of his hair and indulge in a sort of human comfort that had nothing to do with sex and everything to do with weakness.

If he wanted to make a break - - he couldn't stay here with them. They would meddle and they would pry and eventually he'd be weak enough to cave and all the dirty little secrets would be out. He couldn't stand the humiliation. He couldn't stand them knowing how weak he was, to be used so - - to be lied to so easily. He couldn't stand them wanting to help or god - - god - - wanting to comfort. So somebody had to go.

He figured, as he lay there, fighting the oncoming waves of dizziness and nausea that were the preamble to hangover, that that somebody needed to be him.


"Sanzo, where are you going?" Goku jumped up, knees jarring the table, sloshing Hakkai's hot tea onto Gojyo's hand. Gojyo hissed, jerking the member back.

"Watch what you're doing, clumsy ape." He snarled, in no good mood himself this morning, having slept on the floor of Hakkai and Goku's room with only a thin blanket between him and the warped planks of the floor. Goku ignored the insult, more interested in Sanzo's descent down the stairs than slurs against his possible ancestry. Gojyo wasn't particularly interested in Sanzo at all, placing the full blame for an uncomfortable night's sleep on the monk's shoulder. If not for Sanzo's foul mood, he could at the very least have had a comfortable mat to sleep on, if not - - if luck and drunkenness were on his side - - a warm body to couple with. But no matter how warm the body, the heart was still cold as a chunk of ice, so Gojyo didn't lament the loss of the latter to badly.

"Sanzo, what do you have there?" Goku had bounded around the table to confront the monk at the bottom of the stairs. Gojyo looked up from his reddening hand at Hakkai's in-drawn breath. Sanzo had his travel pack over one shoulder and a look in his eyes that was cold and hostile. He walked past Goku, like the kid wasn't even there and tossed something at Hakkai. It was the rolled sutra. Hakkai blinked and fumbled for it, staring down at it in shock, then back up at Sanzo.

"Why - -?"

"I told you." Sanzo said. "I quit. Take care of this. Take it back and let them give it to some other id - - - to someone else. I'm leaving."

"But - - Sanzo - -" Goku wailed stricken. "You haven't even given us time to pack. We haven't finished breakfast."

"You're not going with me." Sanzo looked at the kid, finally, his mouth drawn taught, his eyes narrow. "I'm sick of you all. Go back home. Do whatever. Its over."

"But Sanzo - -"

"Just shut the fuck up." Sanzo snarled at Goku.

"The kid doesn't have a home, asshole." Gojyo snapped. "What's he supposed to do, go back and ask to live in your old room?"

"No. No. I'm going with Sanzo." Goku declared, face set and eyes adamant.

Sanzo stared over his head, meeting Gojyo's eyes, full of rage and determination and disdain. Like he'd spent the night alone making a list of all the things they'd ever done to tick him off. It was probably a damned long list. But there was a hint of something else there - - panic. And maybe just a hint of fear, but it was so hard to read through the predominant anger and Gojyo never had been that good at catching all the little nuances of expression that hid all those things that went on under the surface. Maybe he'd just never cared enough to make a study of it. Hakkai was good at it. But Hakkai wasn't opening his mouth, wasn't putting in the argument that Gojyo had hoped he might and he was the only one of them that might be able to twist Sanzo's logic around and turn it to his advantage.

Sanzo wasn't waiting for it. Sanzo turned his back on the lot of them and stalked towards the door. Goku made a plaintive little sound, turning distressed eyes to them for guidance. Gojyo didn't have a shred of it. Hakkai was still acting shell shocked. The kid ran for the door, ready to dog Sanzo's heels whether Sanzo wanted him to or not.

"Gojyo." Hakkai said. "I think we ought to stop him from following Sanzo, just now."

"Why? I hope he irritates the snot out of the prickly bastard." As well as keep track of him. Sanzo could cover his tracks, but Goku left a damned conspicuous trail.

Hakkai shook his head, rising and hurrying to the door. Gojyo cursed in disgust and rose to follow. Goku was pelting through the morning foot traffic after the monk, calling his name like an abandoned wife.

Sanzo stopped, shoulders stiff, hands clenched at his sides. He turned after a heartbeat and the gun was in his hand. He didn't even miss a beat. Just lifted his arm and squeezed the trigger. Goku howled and crumpled, even as the shot rang out. The passerby scattered for cover. Hakkai cried out and ran for Goku skidding to his knees next to the boy, who was clutching his leg above the knee with both hands. Blood seeped out from between his fingers, soaking the leg of his pants. Tears rolled down his cheeks, but Gojyo doubted somehow it was from the pain of the bullet in his leg, but more from the betrayal. That was what shone in those big golden eyes of his. Utter horror - - utter disbelief that the person he loved most in all the world, had just shot him down without batting an eye. Gojyo stood in the middle of a suddenly deserted street and stared at the monk. Somebody was growling. He realized it was him.

"I told you," Sanzo said. "Not to follow me."

"You - - bastard." Gojyo hissed. He wanted to rip that gun out of Sanzo's hand and pistol whip him with it. Sanzo didn't give him the chance. He turned on his heel and walked away.



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