nyghtrain: (Default)
Title: A Sweet Courtship Chp. 2
Author: nyghtrain
Pairing: Sanzo/Hakkai
Fandom: Saiyuki
Theme: #2. news; letter
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Saiyuki and its characters do not belong to me, but are owned by Kazuya Minekua and her publishers. I'm just playing in their world.
Notes: I wanted to add more to this chapter, but it was running long, so I decided to stop a little earlier than I was planning. This means that action I planned for this chapter will end up being in the next one. So expect an action-pack chapter three, sanzo-ikkou style.



It looked like Hakkai was infected with whatever idiocy the monkey and kappa had. It was the only reason Sanzo could see for why Hakkai thought that lame ass excuse he used about letting Goku enjoy the festival even passed muster. Usually he would have ignored the whole thing, but the problem was that it was Hakkai and for some reason that damn cockroach depended on him and Goku will eventually start whining to him. It was better to nip things in the bud, before it became one huge headache. The only problem was that Sanzo wasn't sure what the hell the healer's issue was.

"Che, like I care, " he grumbled to himself and finished off his coffee.

Goku was still swallowing down breakfast, which was a mixture of deep-fried twisted dough sticks, zongai with sweet bean paste, and western omelets with diced ham, cheese, and sautéed mushrooms. Sanzo watched it all with a sense of disgusted, before his eyes drifted to the stairs. The cockroach went up there a few minutes ago. Leave it to that one to sniff out anything wrong with Hakkai. Still, he was surprised that the pervert hadn't noticed it sooner. This had been going on ever since the fight with Ukoku. Sanzo had even checked Hakkai's chi to see if the black Sanzo had left a gift behind, but it looked like whatever was wrong with the healer was all him.

"Stupid bastards," he muttered and then noticed that the sounds of the saru's eating had stopped.

He turned to see Goku staring down at his plate. "Hey Sanzo, do you think Hakkai-"

"You better not ask me any stupid questions," Sanzo growled out, cutting him off.

Goku rubbed his head and laughed. "Yeah, I guess that was pretty stupid." Then he started eating again.

For a moment, the only sound at the table was Goku swallowing down dish after dish, until the rattle of empty plates showed that he was done. He leaned back and patted his stomach.

"I can't wait to see what sort of food they'll have at the festival. They'll probably have meat buns and dumplings and..."

Sanzo wiped out his fan and smacked Goku on the head. "Shut up!"

"Oww, Sanzo," Goku whined.

Sanzo ignored him and shoved away from the table and shook out a cigarette. He paused. "Goku, if you want snacks you better follow Hakkai."

Goku grew quite then shook his head. "Nah. I still have money from before. Don't worry about me."

Sanzo grunted. "Like I would." He stepped outside and lit up. He took a long drag and looked out at the town. People were busy decorating their shops. Whatever the festival was, it was a big deal.

As he stood there smoking a few people paused to look at him. A dark scowl soon had them scurrying away. He took another drag and noticed a man putting up flyers. Sanzo narrowed his eyes. The man nodded to him and then placed a flyer by the end, before walking away. Sanzo read it.

Welcome to the Festival of Love and Memories!
Please join us for food, games, and alcohol as we celebrate this special time of year.
Remember to come to the tomorrow's night gala where you can share beautiful memories with your love ones or create new ones.

Sanzo snorted and snubbed out his smoke. So that's what this whole festival was about. He thought about Hakkai and the bag of chocolate he bought. The slight red to his cheeks had made his green eyes look brighter. It was rare to see Hakkai embarrassed. Most of the time he just laughed things off, not the least bit repentant. Maybe he had got caught up in the festival. Love and Memories.

Sanzo shook his head. "Worthless." He walked back into the inn and to his room.

***

Hakkai shifted his bags. They felt heavier than they should. Or perhaps it was guilt that made his arms feel heavy. Gojyo's words weaseled in his mind. Goku. He tightened his grip on the bags. Goku was innocent in all this. He acted like he always did and before the change inside Hakkai, he always sort of admire Goku. The sweet honesty of the boy and his willingness to barrel forward no matter the circumstances. Goku was a mixture of hope and faith that Hakkai had never had and never could hope to grasp in his stained soul. Goku was growing up. He wasn't just the child they always taken him for. If he was honest, Goku hadn't been a child for a very long time. He's matured, but even so he still maintained that undying faith and hope. What must it be like?

Hakkai stopped and felt a breeze brush over his skin. People walked passed him. Laughter and excited voice mixed together in delight. The scent of fried bread was so thick Hakkai could almost taste the cinnamon on his tongue. He could imagine Goku sniffing the air before dashing from one food stall to the next. Goku. Was that it? Was he jealous? Jealous that Goku was something bright that he could never be? No, that wasn't it. It was tied to something else. A touch here. A scowl gentling to a smile that only someone watching could see. Someone who was always watching. Was he-

Hakkai jerked forward as something slammed against him. He managed to catch himself and turned. Giggling kids ran by, one shouting out a quick 'sorry' as they dashed towards a puppet stand. Hakkai sighed and then laughed softly to himself. The thought eating at the corners of his mind was tucked away. He turned and continued towards the specialty store he heard about at the last shop. He stopped in front of Cheng's Tobacco. He shook his head. It was rare to see a shop that specializes in ways to ruin your lungs. He sighed and went inside.

The sharp scent of tobacco and herbs filled his nostrils. The shop was neat and labeled with special brands of tobacco categorized by region. Along one section were special pipes and Hakkai found himself drawn to them despite himself. He fingered one, looking over the exquisite craftsmanship. He tried to imagine Gojyo smoking a pipe and then let out a small laugh. Ridiculous. He imagined Sanzo with one and grinned. It suited him a little too well. Hakkai looked around and found a case of Hi-Lites and Marlboros. He walked around a shelf and noticed a newspaper stand. Sanzo would probably appreciate a more up-to-date newspaper. He reached down to grab one when he heard the door open. He straightened up and saw a familiar flash of gold.

Surprise he turned. "San-" Hakkai stuttered to a halt when he met green eyes. Eyes so green and familiar it was like looking at his own. His gaze shifted and he was taking in the sight of her face. He drank it in at the same time as his mind wanted to repel the image.

Kanan.

She stepped forward and reached out. Her hand slid over his cheek. "Are you okay? You look like you're about to pass out."

The voice was different and the difference was jarring enough to knock Hakkai out of his trance. He took in a long breath and plastered a smile on his face. Gently, he took the woman's wrist and pulled her hand away from his cheek.

"I'm sorry. I guess lack of sleep is catching up with me," Hakkai said and released her wrist.

She frowned at him as if she didn't quite believe him. Then nodded. "If you're sure."

"Thank you for your concern," Hakkai said politely.

The woman smiled and then went to the counter, talking to the clerk about a pipe. She began gesturing and the clerk moved away from the counter to a ladder. Soon the clerk was up, pointing at pipes as the woman shook her head. "No. The one to the right."

Hakkai set his purchases on the counter and waited for the clerk to finish, while his gaze flitted to the girl. Despite the striking resemblance to Kanan, there were some differences. Her hair was the main one. It was not the warm brown of his sister's, but a bright gold that he had only seen on one other person. Her voice was playful, but with a sort of husky tone to it instead of the lightness of Kanan, but her smile was just the same. Hakkai turned his head away from the sight and turned back to the corner. He considered leaving and coming back another day, but then he would have to explain to Sanzo why he hadn't picked up his cigarettes.

Instead, he searched for something to distract him until his eyes fell on a small picture frame surrounded in red. Inside the frame was a picture of a man. Hakkai frowned. He had seen similar frames in several of the shops he visited today. He figured it had something to do with the festival. He was drawn from his thoughts by a tap on the shoulder. He turned and was once again accosted by familiar green eyes.

She raised her hands, brandishing two pipes. "Which one do you like better?"

Hakkai blinked and then laughed nervously. "I'm not really a good judge. I don't smoke."

She raised an eyebrow and looked pointedly at the cases of cigarettes on the counter. Hakkai raised his hands defensively. "Ah. Those aren't mine. Really. I'm picking them up for some friends."

She nodded and then a soft pout appeared on her face. "Still, which one? I need a man's opinion. It's for my grandfather. I accidentally broke his last one."

"Perhaps the clerk would be better."

She looked shrewdly at the clerk and then back at Hakkai. "I don't know if he'll just try to get me to buy the higher priced one. Please, I need a male's aesthetic."

Hakkai sighed, but couldn't help smiling a little at the woman's determination. He studied the pipe, One a dark ebony with a silver steam and the other a classic terracotta finish with a black steam. He pointed to the terracotta one. "I suppose that one."

She nodded. "Simple, but elegant." She nodded at the clerk who rang her up.

Hakkai waited for her to finish and then watched as his own packages were rang up. He paid and started to grab the bag when pale hands flitted forward and took it. Hakkai blinked and looked at the woman who was now holding his bag. The gold bangles around her wrist clinked against each other.

"I'll carry it," she said

"That won't be necessary," Hakkai said, reached for the bag.

She shook her head and took a step back. "Your hands are already full, besides didn't you say you were tired."

Hakkai opened his mouth to protest, but the woman was already halfway out of the door. He hurried after her and then fell into step next to her.

"You're from out of town, aren't you? Here for the festival?" she asked, smiling.

He nodded, resigning himself to his new companion. "I suppose I am."

She tilted her head and smiled. "Must be your first time."

He gave her a quizzical look. "How did you know?"

"Usually, people who have been to the festival before are very excited."

Hakkai chuckled. "Maybe I'm just good at hiding it."

She shook her head. "No, I can tell." She turned and began walking backwards as she spoke. She swung the bag from side to side, causing the bangles to let off a high but pleasant clink as she moved. "People who have been to the festival have a certain look about them. It's like joy and sadness all mixed together. You though, you only have the sadness."

Hakkai stiffened.

The woman frowned and then started to say something when her foot slipped and she tilted backwards. Hakkai rushed forward and caught her. His arms wrapped around her as he pulled her up. She turned to him in surprise and then gave him a soft smile.

"Sorry."

Once again the breath was pulled away from Hakkai as he looked into her face. Kanan. He gently pulled away from her and they began walking again. When they reached the inn, Hakkai couldn't help feeling a soft sigh of relief. He turned to the woman with a smile.

"Thank you for your help," he said politely.

She held out the bag. "You're welcome."

He took the bag and with a smile turned back to the inn.

"Wait," she said.

Hakkai was tempted to ignore her, but somehow he couldn't. Maybe it was because of his deeply bred politeness or maybe it was because he couldn't push away one last glance at a face that he thought he would never see again. So he turned.

"Yes?"

"I never introduced myself."

Hakkai stiffened once more. He felt himself leaning in, waiting for a name to fall from her lips.

"I'm Min Sung," she said. "I'm sorry for intruding on you and for saying anything to bother you. My grandfather says I tend to speak too quickly."

Hakkai smiled, a mixture of relief and disappointment filling him. "My name is Cho Hakkai. It's very nice to meet you Min Sung."

At his words a radiant smile crossed her face. "Thank you for helping me pick a pipe for my grandfather." Then with a wave, she dashed off.

Hakkai watched her, a little bemused. What an odd girl. Still, for some reason, he didn't feel the heaviness from before. He stepped into the inn and caught sight of the innkeeper at the counter. Remembering his promise to Sanzo, he approached her.

"Hello. At breakfast we were informed that the route through the town was blocked due to the festival."

The innkeeper nodded. "It's shut down to allow vendors to set up stalls, but it'll reopen late tomorrow evening."

Hakkai figured as much. He had managed to cheek the pass himself when he went shopping. "Is there another way we can take out?"

"You're not staying for the festival?" The innkeeper asked, surprised.

Hakkai shook his head. "We were only planning to pass through."

"Ah, I see. " She rubbed at her chin. "Well you can always go around, but it'll take you about three or four days, because of the swamplands."

Hakkai sighed, but kept his smile. It looked like they really were stuck until after the festival.

The innkeeper chuckled. "Ah, think of it as an opportunity to enjoy the festivities. It's quite popular."

"Yes, I noticed. Is it ever year?"

She shook her head. "Once every three years. It brings in a lot of business and a lot of sweethearts, but I think most people like it for the memories."

"Yes, it seems an odd combination. Love and memories," Hakkai said.

"Not really," the innkeeper said and looked at a red frame. It was the same red frame he saw in shops. In this one was a little girl no older than four. "Her name is Ping. She was such a good child. She would spend hours singing at the top of her lungs whatever song had caught her fancy. It was terrible. There wasn't a worst singer. She was four when she was struck down with pneumonia." The innkeeper ran her finger over the frame. "I would do anything to hear her singing again."

Hakkai thought of Min. The face that looked so much like his sister.

The innkeeper smiled up at him. "Sometimes I think the love for a memory is the strongest love there is."

A snort came from behind him. "How is that strong? If you're always looking back, how can you move forward?"

"Sanzo," Hakkai said with a disapproving look and turned to the monk. "I don't think any of us can judge people for looking at the past."

Sanzo glared at him and held out his hand. "Smokes?"

Hakkai sighed and then handed him his cigarettes and they began walking away from the counter, with Hakkai giving the innkeeper an apologetic smile.

Sanzo grunted. "What you find out?"

"The only other option is to go around the village which would take an extra three to four days. I think it'll be best if we just wait for the festival to be over."

Sanzo's scowl darkened. "Fine, but you better keep those two idiots out of my hair."

Hakkai looked at Sanzo, amused. "Of course, but are you sure you don't want to join in the festivities. I'm sure there is even something you might like around."

Sanzo frowned. "Love and Memories. What a bunch of crap."

Hakkai chuckled. Sometimes Sanzo was just so predictable and a little hypocritical. Moving forward? Hakkai slid his hand into his sash, where he had stuffed the chocolate from earlier. He took out a single chocolate kiss then fished out the newspaper.

"Sanzo," Hakkai said.

"What?"

Hakkai handed him the newspaper with the chocolate kiss on top of it.

Sano narrowed his eyes and took the paper and then lifted up the kiss. "What the hell is this?"

"Something to sweeten your less than sunny disposition," he said cheerfully.

"Hakkai, don't make me shoot you."

"Ha, ha, ha."

Just then there was a loud commotion as the two missing ikkou stepped into the inn. Gojyo and Goku elbowed each other as the pushed inside.

"Watch where you're going, stupid monkey," Gojyo yelled.

"I was here first! You would have noticed if you weren't so busy flirting, perverted cockroach," Goku said.

"It's not my fault if the girls know a real man when they see one," Gojyo said with a leer.

Goku started making gagging sounds and then his attention quickly diverted as he spotted Sanzo. "Sanzo, I'm hungry."

In a blur of speed, the white paper fan slammed down on Goku's head. "You just got back from eating at the stalls!"

Goku rubbed his head. "But those were just snacks."

The fan came down once again with a vengeance. "Stupid gluttonious-"

"Now, now," Hakkai said. "Dinner will be soon. Perhaps we can go out. I came across a Dim Sum restaurant while I was shopping."

Goku grinned up at Hakkai, grateful, and then looked back at Sanzo. "Can we, Sanzo? Please, please."

Sanzo gritted his teeth and the fan came down again.

Hakkai watched the pair and some of the tightness from before loosened.

Gojyo slung an arm around Hakkai's shoulder. "So when did you start picking up chicks?"

Hakkai blinked and looked at Gojyo in bewilderment. "Excuse me?"

Gojyo held out a letter. "A pretty little thing was standing outside. Seems like she was trying to decide whether to go in or not so she can give a certain someone this."

Hakkai frowned. "Me?" then it dawned on him. "Min Sung." He took the letter and opened it.

It was good to meet you Cho Hakkai. I hope I didn't bother you too much. If not, then I hope to see you at the gala tomorrow night. I run a stand there. Do you like sparklers?

-Min

"Hehe. Sparklers? Cute."

"Now, Gojyo, there's nothing wrong with them," Hakki said as he neatly folded the letter.

"Yeah, as long as you're a kid or a chick."

"Hey Sanzo, what's that?" Goku said, drawing Hakkai attention.

"None of your damn business," Sanzo said, trying to shake Goku off his arm.

"No fair, Sanzo. Where did you get chocolate from?" Goku said, sniffing out the chocolate kiss.

Hakkai watched the pair, his gaze fixed on the chocolate kiss that Sanzo held.

"Speaking of kids and chicks."

There was a flash of silver and a loud bang. "You want to say that again."

Gojyo stiffened as the bullet whizzed by. "What the hell, you damn monk?"

"Sanzo, Sanzo."

A vein began to throb in Sanzo's forehead.

Hakkai knew he should step in, but he couldn't move. He couldn't stop staring at the chocolate kiss.

"Would you all shut the hell up?" Sanzo yelled and more shots punctured the air.

One shot came dangerously close to Gojyo's left ear. The red head clamped his mouth shut.

Sanzo turned and shoved the chocolate kiss into Goku's mouth. "There, have the damn thing and leave me the hell alone." He stalked to the stairs. "I don't want to be disturbed until dinner, Hakkai."

"Yes Sanzo," Hakkai said softly.

The monk vanished up the stairs while Goku sat back, chewing happily on the chocolate.

Hakkai's smile tightened and he heard the crunch of paper. He looked down at the letter, partly crushed in his hand. Calmly, he smoothed it out and then tucked it away.

"So, you're going to meet her tomorrow or what?" Gojyo asked.

"Perhaps," Hakkai said.

Gojyo blinked, obviously not expecting that answer. "Well what do you know? I never thought you were one for blondes."

Hakkai just chuckled and if there was a hint of something bitter underneath, no one noticed.
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