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"Shut up," Sanzo growls just before firing a round. The bullet drills into the forehead of the youkai, its arms and legs sailing into the air like part of a choreographed dance. Somehow Sanzo makes death beautiful.

"Well, that was easy." One hand rubs the back of his neck as Hakkai laughs.

Sanzo just grunts.

The clearing is littered with bodies, dirt churned and spattered with blood—though, much less blood than when Goku and Gojyo are involved. "We should find the others."

Sanzo reloads, sliding each round into the gun with practiced ease. He's more comfortable with that weapon than he is with people.

"They chose a perfect time to wander off."

"They are nothing if not accommodating." The sky is dark with heavy rain clouds; tracking in this weather won't be easy. "If we don't find them soon . . ."

"We can only hope."

Hakkai smiles at Sanzo's "joke."

There isn't a clear path, so Hakkai picks the most direct route, even though there are easier paths to travel.

"Damn it." Sanzo clutches his side—blood seeps through his fingers.

"You're hurt?"

"It's nothing."

"Hmm." Hakkai makes Sanzo sit down anyway, carefully peeling back robes until he finds split skin and tacky blood. "You weren't going to say anything? It's not exactly small."

His head canted back, eyes pointed towards the sky, Sanzo simply says, "I've had worse."

Hakkai's hands glow softly as he focuses his chi, tending to Sanzo's wounds. The stillness around them gradually fades as the sounds of wildlife return to the forest; the calls of two birds, disturbed from their homes, finding each other again. The thunder rumbles faintly, the tremor prickling Hakkai's arms.

"How many times have you healed me?"

Hakkai doesn't even look up, absently answering, "I didn't know I should keep count."

"You never ask for anything." There's a softness in Sanzo's voice, a misplaced sign of affection . . . or something as close to affection as Sanzo can express.

Hakkai glances at Sanzo, shielding his eyes behind his hair. "Would it matter if I did?"

"No, it wouldn't."

He smiles as he goes back to work, focusing once more on closing the wound. The flesh mends itself back together, knitting and merging back into the shape Sanzo's skin is supposed to take.

There's soft breath on Hakkai's face a second before Sanzo's lips brush against Hakkai's temple. Fingers thread into Hakkai's hair and the kiss against his head deepens, lingers, a tongue flicking out to taste his skin.

Sanzo pulls away before Hakkai can move, reciprocate.

"Sanzo!" Goku's voice breaks the moment.

"Stupid monkey," Sanzo growls.

"Hakkai! Where the hell are you?" Gojyo pushes back a branch and stumbles into the clearing. He lets the branch hit Goku in the face.

"Hey, you cockroach!"

Gojyo snorts at him. "Maybe you should grow a little taller."

A shot rings out and the bickering silences.

Sanzo gets to his feet, rearranging his robes. "Damn them both," he mutters. Hakkai can't help but agree; their timing couldn't have been worse.