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after the rain

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Heavy clouds darkened the early Autumn sky, the air thick with the promise of storms to come. It had not, Sanzo thought sourly, been a good day to venture outside. But now without Goku under his feet all the time, these days his rooms at the temple felt... empty. He'd still rather die than admit it, but sometimes he felt so profoundly alone he just couldn't stand it there anymore. Which, he reminded himself, was pretty fucking pathetic considering Goku and the others visited regularly.

Going out alone never usually turned out to be worth it, either; the constant whispers and worshipful glances grated on his nerves and made his fingers itch to grab his gun. In reality there was no need for that, though - being brutally honest what he needed was to stop being so fucking twitchy. Instead of the gun, he reached for his cigarettes and tapped one out. Now, that was pure comfort between his lips, as was the worn, warm surface of his lighter between his fingers.

Sanzo glanced up as lightning lit the clouds from behind, a crack of thunder splitting the air. Shit, he should have turned back earlier. He was quickening his pace when a voice rang out behind him that sent a chill down his spine.

"Wait, please!"

The accent seemed softer somehow, but... no, that voice was unmistakable. As he came to a standstill the rain began to fall, heavy and cold as it soaked through to skin. He turned.


He hadn't thought he'd ever see Hazel again. Honestly, he'd thought Hazel was dead.

"I just knew it! You do know me!"

Yet there he stood, eyes wide and expression distressed, staring at Sanzo as though he'd seen a ghost. Pretty fucking ironic. Hazel's pale hair was longer now, though, drenched in rain that was dripping down onto his equally pale oversized shirt.

"I..." Sanzo could feel water seeping into his boots, and any words that surfaced felt like he would choke on them. In the end he jerked his head in the direction of a nearby restaurant. "Coming?"

He didn't look back to see if Hazel was following him, finding he was as uncomfortably aware of his presence as he had been years ago. The interior of the restaurant was warm and softly lit, the chatter immediately dying down as people began to recognise him. Sanzo clenched his jaw and claimed a corner table, flicking his dead cigarette into the ash tray before shoving off the top half of his wet robes as he sat down. "Hot tea. And whisky!"

Hazel seated himself across from Sanzo, eyes still so fucking intense, lips downturned in a frown. "This'll probably sound mighty strange, but... who are you?"

"...if this is a joke, it's a shitty one." Sanzo lit up a new cigarette and inhaled deeply, the smoke hanging in the air between them like a buffer.

"It's no joke," Hazel said, voice soft, finally breaking eye contact to stare down at his hands instead. "I still don't hardly remember a thing. But I do know your face, and I feel like it's you I've been searching for."

Sanzo narrowed his eyes, and grunted thanks as the tea and whisky arrived. "I very much doubt that." He took a shot and tossed it back, the burn a welcome relief. He pushed a cup of tea across the table. "Drink."

"Appreciated." Hazel clasped his hands around it and looked up again. "So, you're some kinda priest?"

This was fucked up, Sanzo thought, and signalled for another— no, make that several more drinks. "You could say that. Genjo Sanzo, thirty-first of China."

Hazel immediately brightened a little. "Genjo! So we were friends?"

"Sanzo," he ground out, "and no."

Clearly his personality had remained intact as Hazel didn't seem the least bit discouraged. "No need to be shy, I can feel that we were." He sipped at his tea, gaze once more fixated on Sanzo. "I guess... I don't really know where to start. I've just been travelling these past few years, doing odd jobs, and hoping..." His brow furrowed, grip on the steaming cup tightening.

Sanzo stared out the window, another crack of thunder rattling the frames as rain streamed down the glass. "Ukoku's dead," he said at last, and suddenly desperately wanted his second fucking whisky. Hazel didn't respond, and when he turned back to stub out his dying cigarette, Hazel was trembling. Shit.

"I... I don't—" Hazel stood up abruptly, chair falling back and clatteringly loudly against the tiled floor. "I really don't feel so well, Sanzo."

The drinks arrived. Sanzo knocked back a couple more in quick succession before standing up. The stares directed their way had been getting even more shameless, and Hazel looked on the verge of being violently ill.

"We're done here." Sanzo tossed some money on the table and finished off the last of the whisky; he sure as hell wasn't going to waste it. The uneasy knot in his gut refused to loosen, though, and felt suspiciously like guilt. "Where are you staying?"


In the end, Hazel had trailed after him in the rain all the way back to the temple. It would just be one night, Sanzo thought, and even if it was a pain in the ass, the least he could do was share what little he did know about the past. He knew he should probably let Hakkai and Gojyo know, too.

He didn't.

It was late at night when the soft knock came at his door; usually Sanzo would already be sleeping, but instead he was staring out his open window into the darkness, cigarette burning down to nothing between his fingers. The rain had slowed to a faint, lush sound, punctuated with the chirps of insects. He closed his eyes. "Yeah?"

Sanzo knew it wasn't one of the monks just from hearing the way the door was pushed open and the footsteps that followed.

"I'm dreadful sorry to intrude on you all like this." It felt incongruous hearing Hazel's lilting accent here, in this room, which by all rights he should never have set foot in. "I'm not sure what it was that came over me earlier."

Sanzo shrugged and turned to regard Hazel through the haze of smoke that surrounded him. Dry, finally, hair curling over his shoulders, cheeks flushed pink from a hot bath and now dressed in a monk's robe. Suddenly, Sanzo wanted him gone. He didn't want to talk about dead masters and Ukoku and dredge up old shit tonight.

"Go to bed. We can talk in the morning if you need answers."

"I—" A dark shadow seemed to pass over Hazel's eyes, but was replaced almost instantly by a bright smile. It was, Sanzo thought, the exact same expression Hazel used to fake when they first met. It seemed even less sincere now. "Sleep well, Sanzo."

Somehow, he didn't think either of them would.

It wasn't until near dawn when Sanzo finally began to doze off, as the rain eased and the clouds started to thin, pink on the horizon. But no knock came to wake him up. It wasn't until mid-morning that he got started on his day's work, still with no sign of Hazel. Sleeping? Perhaps... surely if he'd disappeared, someone would have come to inform him.

Midday passed, and Sanzo was ready to shoot the next person who knocked on his door. He stuffed the papers he'd been working on into an envelope and pushed it aside, rubbing at his temple to try and stave off the low-grade headache that refused to dissipate.

Fuck it, he was going back to bed.

In his dreams he saw Hazel die, plummeting down to a place they couldn't follow. And then there was Ukoku, laughing, still laughing—


He awoke to find himself with his gun trained between Hazel's wide blue eyes, muscles tense and heart pounding. Throat dry, he swallowed and let his arm drop down to cover his face. "Where the fuck have you been?"

"Well," Hazel took a step back and placed the tray he was carrying on the table. "I did stop by this morning, but you just looked so tired I thought I shouldn't interrupt."

Sanzo sat up and groped beside him for his cigarettes. “That envelope.” He lit up, ignoring the way Hazel’s gaze seemed to linger on his mouth. “It’s for you.”

“And this food,” Hazel sat down at the table, pushing the tray towards the other chair, “is for you.”

Sanzo made no move to approach it, just watched Hazel pick up the envelope and examine it from all sides. “That’s all I could remember.”

He sat and smoked, while Hazel pulled out the papers and began to read, face growing gradually paler. By Sanzo’s third cigarette Hazel’s hands were shaking, cheeks wet and head bowed, whispering Gat’s name.

“Thank you,” Hazel said at last, voice quiet but steady. He folded the pages carefully, replacing them in the envelope before stowing it away in the sleeve of his robe. “I don’t—” He paused for a moment, expression conflicted. “It’s almost like reading about someone else’s life, I suppose. But—I can feel it. I can feel that it’s true.”

“I didn’t like you,” Sanzo said, stubbing out his cigarette and finally making his way to the table, “but I wouldn’t lie to you.”

Hazel laughed, and it actually sounded genuine; his gaze as he looked at Sanzo was irritatingly fond. “Well, now, I suppose I can be thankful for you using the past tense, there.”

Sanzo sat down and grunted, grabbing the chopsticks. “Don’t get any ideas.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it.” Hazel’s smile faded, then, and he lapsed into silence. Was this the end of it, then? Hazel had what he’d come for. Perhaps he’d head back west. It was none of Sanzo’s business, anyway.

He ate quickly and sparingly, and it was disconcerting to realise that in a way, the company was somewhat pleasant. So long as there was no talking. Hazel seemed lost in thought, mouth twisted in a pensive frown. The sound of Sanzo laying his chopsticks down over the empty rice bowl seemed to startle Hazel into awareness, and he stood up.

“I’ll take this back.” He picked up the tray and stilled, grip tightening over the edges, knuckles white. “When I woke up,” Hazel said, voice distant, “it was Gat’s bandanna I must’ve been holding. I feel like I should remember. Seems like a bad way to repay his sacrifice, you know?”

“Don’t be such a damn egoist.” Sanzo lit another cigarette, watching Hazel’s startled expression through the smoke. “You lived, didn’t you? That’s all he would have wanted.”

Take care of Hazel.

“Mm.” Hazel’s smile was bittersweet. In the end, he didn’t say anything else. Just turned and left Sanzo to his empty room, and the heaped pile of unfinished documents he’d brought back with him from his office.


When Sanzo awoke the next morning, there was breakfast waiting on his table. He poked at it irritably, wishing he’d remembered to lock his fucking door last night. The thought that someone managed to enter and leave food without him realising made his skin crawl.

Someone, he’d thought, but in reality he knew it must have been Hazel. All the monks knew better. At least there was coffee, even if it was lukewarm.

He didn’t want to think anymore, so he buried himself in work and cigarettes.

Sanzo had thought Hazel would leave. He’d been counting on Hazel leaving. And yet, no one came to inform him of this. The hours passed, various monks came and went, and all he was left with was a longer fucking to-do list. Even when his duties took him out of his office, the thought wouldn’t leave the back of his mind. He wanted Hazel to appear just so he could yell at him, but clearly because he still existed for the sole purpose of pissing Sanzo off, he did not.

Sanzo did, at least, have so much shit to do today that he couldn’t find an excuse to go looking for Hazel; that would have been more pathetic than he wanted to contemplate. By the time night fell, all he wanted was a damn beer. He stopped in a small bar on his way back, dingy and badly lit, but where they at least knew him well enough to leave him well alone. Beer and smokes were a welcome distraction, although the more he drank, the more he could imagine Hakkai’s disapproving stare and admonishments to take better care of himself. But Hakkai and Gojyo weren’t here, Goku wasn’t here, and Hazel had probably fucked off back to the west today. Most likely. It wasn’t as though there was anything else Sanzo could do for him, so it was just a matter of time.

When he left a couple of hours later, the air was cool and the streets almost empty. He’d probably drunk too much, but his gun was ever a comforting presence. It was almost disappointing when the most dangerous thing that happened was a stray cat nearly tripping him up.

The temple hallways were silent and dark, and for a moment Sanzo wondered what was wrong with him. He was exhausted. He should be sleeping. And yet he couldn’t shake the feeling that tomorrow he’d just get up and do this shit all over again. When he got back to his room, it wasn’t the food on the table that made him freeze – he’d half been expecting that – it was Hazel, sprawled out asleep on Sanzo’s bed. Fucking weirdo.

“Oi.” He stepped into the room, kicking the door shut behind him. Hazel didn’t wake up, just shifted slightly and curled tightly in on himself. He looked younger when he slept, hair falling softly over his face, lips curved in a faint smile that for once didn’t have an agenda.

Sanzo wanted him gone. He wanted more alcohol. He wanted—

He sat down and ate the long-cold rice. He was too drunk for this.


He only realised he’d fallen asleep slumped over the table when he was awoken by a strangled scream. His throat felt dry and tight and for one disoriented moment Sanzo thought it had been him.

But there was Hazel sitting up in his bed, fingers clutching tightly at his robe, eyes staring blankly ahead of him. Moonlight streamed through the window behind them, gleaming on Hazel’s pale hair and casting his terrified expression into shadow.

“A nightmare,” Sanzo said, though he wasn’t even sure if Hazel could hear him. He wondered if Hazel had nightmares of Ukoku, the way he sometimes still did. Nightmares of his master dying in front of him, helpless to do anything. “Hazel!”

Hazel’s shoulders jerked, and he turned, breaths coming fast and shallow. “I… where…”

“You fell asleep in my fucking room.” Shit, and his shoulders and neck were killing him from falling asleep hunched over the table. He pushed himself to his feet. “Just… go back to sleep.” It would probably be dawn in an hour or so, and with that scream still in his head he didn’t think he’d be resting any time soon. “I’m going out.”

He had one hand on the door when Hazel’s hoarse voice broke the silence again. “Wait.”

Sanzo stilled. “What?”

“Actually, I…” The exhaustion in Hazel’s voice was palpable. “I don’t think I’ll be getting back to sleep tonight. I’d ‘preciate some company, if you don’t mind.” Another brief hesitation, then, “cards?”

Cards actually sounded like a good distraction, even if it had been Hazel’s idea. He turned, eyes narrowed and speculative. “All right. What do you play?”

Hazel’s lips parted in surprise, like he hadn’t actually expected Sanzo to say yes. Fuck, Sanzo was already starting to regret it himself. Maybe he was still drunk.

“How ‘bout rummy?”

Sanzo shrugged and returned to sit at the table. “Cards are in the side drawer.” He tapped out a cigarette and lit up while Hazel retrieved the deck. Neither of them moved to turn on the lights. The brightness of the moon somehow lent a sheen of unreality to it all. Which was fitting, since why the fuck else would he be up in the middle of the night playing cards with Hazel.

He wasn’t overly familiar with the game, but Hazel shuffled and dealt the cards with practiced ease. Gojyo had always favoured poker.

Exhaling smoke, he leaned back and waited to start. Hazel sat with his back to the window, hair haloed with moonlight, almost angelic. Ironic, considering all that he’d done. Sanzo wondered which of them had killed more youkai.

Pick up, discard.



Pick up, discard.

“Why are you still here?”

Hazel’s expression shuttered slightly, a veneer of a smile appearing. “I told you, I fell asleep. Sorry ‘bout that, I’ve not been resting so well. As you can see.”

Pick up, discard.

“Don’t play dumb.”

There was silence for a moment as Hazel’s mouth twisted into a frown, eyes flickering up to meet Sanzo’s.

“I like it here.” Sanzo didn’t know what to say to that, and the incomprehension must have shown on his face because Hazel smiled ruefully. “Is that so hard to believe?”

Pick up, discard.

“If you want me to leave,” Hazel continued, “I will. But I hope you’re not thinking I have some kinda home I should be getting back to, as you’d be mistaken.” He set down his cards, ending the round.

Sanzo tossed his on to the table, too, a shitty hand he’d hardly been paying attention to. So much for the distraction. “Do whatever the fuck you want.”

It was the easiest thing to say. Shift the responsibility; he didn’t want it, and he didn’t want to examine why.

“I got to sit in on some lessons yesterday. It made a lot of sense.” Hazel gathered up the cards and shuffled them, then pushed the stack over to Sanzo. “Your deal.”

Sanzo frowned as he picked them up, disconcerted. “But this isn’t what you believe.”

“Oh?” Hazel’s smile turned bitter. “I’m afraid I can’t rightly tell you what I used to believe, because I just don’t know.” Sanzo had probably walked right into that one. Even if he had wanted to explain, when they first met he’d never given enough of a shit about Hazel’s religion to learn. “Besides,” Hazel leaned back a little, expression shadowed and speculative. “You don’t seem like you much believe in all this yourself.”

Even if Hazel wasn’t all that far from the truth, Sanzo wasn’t about to give him the satisfaction of confirmation. He tossed the dead remains of his cigarette into the ash tray and stared at the cards in his hands as he shuffled them. Hazel had already done so, he realised after he started, but it gave him something safe to focus on; they were strangely warm between his fingers. “The least you could have done is bring booze,” is all he said by way of reply, and began to deal.

“Point proven,” Hazel said, and Sanzo could hear the warm amusement in his voice, “and noted.”

They played until the first strains of light bled into the horizon, and something about the pale dawn spilling in through the window made Hazel look washed out and somehow intangible. The dark shadows under his eyes were prominent now the night could no longer hide them. Sanzo frowned. “Will you go the hell to bed now?”

“Oh, no.” Hazel seemed surprised. “I help in the kitchens in the morning. There's so much they need me to do here.”

Sanzo couldn’t even remember the last time he’d been in the kitchens. His head felt strangely heavy, and he hadn’t even realised he’d fallen asleep until the gentle click of the door closing woke him, and he was alone. Shit.

He pulled off his robe and stumbled over to the bed; just an hour would do, he didn’t need the sleep - it’s not like he'd stayed up all night for Hazel— and then the pillow and blankets were soft beneath him and their scent was entirely—



The rest of the day passed in a blur of chants he was barely conscious of reciting and the unexpected appearance of Hakkai in the afternoon. It felt—imperative—to get out, to just smoke and drink tea in a hole-in-the-wall restaurant and listen to Hakkai’s news. It was familiar, and comforting in a way he would never fucking admit, but if he smiled a little as he heard about Gojyo’s latest disastrous cooking attempt, Hakkai knew him well enough not to acknowledge it.

And then—

“We heard you’ve taken in another stray at the temple.”

Sanzo froze, cup halfway to his mouth. Hakkai’s smile was placid, but there was no disguising the curiosity evident in his eyes. Setting down the tea, Sanzo reached into his sleeve and pulled out his cigarettes instead. Despite the pointed silence, Hakkai made no effort to change the subject, just waited patiently as he lit one. Sanzo leaned back and let the smoke curl around him.

“Nothing to do with me.” At least it was only Hakkai; the last thing he wanted was to hear all the shit Gojyo would have to say about this.

Hakkai raised an eyebrow. “I’m sure. So how is he?” He sipped on his tea when it became evident no answer was forthcoming. “Or is that nothing to do with you either?”

It was funny, really, how quickly Sanzo could go from feeling quite fond of Hakkai one second, to wanting to shoot him in the face the next.

“He’s lost his memory,” Sanzo finally bit out, “to the extent it seems he might want to become a fucking monk.”

“Oh,” Hakkai paused, and Sanzo stared at the cracks in the ceiling and sucked in another lungful of smoke. “How did he know to find you, then?”

All he could do was shrug. “I don’t know that he did. He—recognised my face, but—”


And that hmm was a sound he knew well – one that meant Hakkai absolutely had a very strong opinion and was only barely refraining from expressing it. Right now, though, he didn’t want to fucking hear it.

“I should get back.”

Hakkai didn’t try to stop him, just raised a hand in farewell and spoke softly as Sanzo turned to leave. “You should come visit us next week. Both of you. Goku, too, if he’s back by then.”

For a moment he didn’t move, any irritated response he might have been tempted to make stuck in his throat. He wanted Goku back, but he also didn’t want to hear what Goku would have to say about it either. He didn’t want anyone’s fucking commentary. He just wanted—

In the end, he never gave an answer at all.


The days passed, and Hazel still hadn’t left. It was disgustingly easy, Sanzo thought, to fall into routine. And it felt normal, now, that Hazel would bring him dinner; more often than not they would end up playing cards together well into the night. There had never been a repeat of that first time, though, of finding Hazel asleep on his bed.

It was for the best.

But Hazel was only hanging on by a thread, that much was clear. His face drawn and pale, eyes tired, smiles rare. Something that could only be guilt gnawed at the back of Sanzo’s mind; Hazel had been fine when he’d first appeared, hadn’t he? Were the persistent nightmares a result of his clumsy attempt to restore Hazel’s memory?

It wasn’t his fucking responsibility; Hazel had wanted to know. Right?

That evening, Hazel showed up with a barely disguised look of desperation and a large bottle of whisky. A healthy way to deal with things? Nah. But one Sanzo could relate to. He fetched the shot glasses without a word. At first they went through the motions of playing cards, but after the second time Hazel won without even noticing, Sanzo just couldn’t be assed anymore.

The whisky was good, bringing with it a warmth and hazy sense of relaxation he hadn’t felt in a while. Tossing his cards away, Sanzo ignored Hazel’s affronted expression and refilled their glasses.

“Gonna be a quitter, Sanzo?”

“You say that like you actually cared about playing.”

Hazel gave a faint smile and picked up his glass. His cheeks were flushed, now, and though his eyes were still weary, there was a brightness to them that hadn’t been there before. He knocked back the shot and Sanzo watched the curve of his throat as he swallowed.

“I feel like I almost remember,” Hazel said, like it was what they’d been talking about all along, setting down the glass and pushing it back over for a refill. “It’s—there, just… outta my reach somehow.”

“Yet you’re drinking like you want to forget.”

The look Hazel gave him was sharp. Sanzo didn’t stop him as Hazel reached over and grabbed the bottle. “Well,” his brow wrinkled in concentration as he poured for both of them, hand unsteady. “My dreams haven’t been real pleasant lately, I have to say.”

What do you dream of, Sanzo wanted to ask, but the words never came.

“It won’t help,” is all he said instead.

Hazel laughed, but there was no humour in it. “Voice of experience?”

“Yeah.” The answer slipped out too easily; no doubt helped along by the alcohol that, now he focused on the bottle, was almost gone. “But it’s better than—” he closed his eyes and tipped his head back, fumbling in his sleeve for cigarettes. “It’s better than nothing.”

There was silence after that, just the click of Sanzo’s lighter and the gentle curl of smoke in the air.

When he next opened his eyes, cigarette burnt down to the filter, Hazel was slumped over the table, head on his arm. His breaths came slow and steady, lips parted, pale hair spilling down over his face.

“Oi,” Sanzo flicked his cigarette stub into the ash tray and downed the remains of the whisky. No point wasting it. “Hey.” He stood up too fast, the room lurching around him as he steadied himself with a hand against the table. Hazel opened one eye resentfully and mumbled something against his sleeve. “Get up and—” Sanzo grabbed his arm and pulled, forcing Hazel to his feet, “—go the fuck to bed.”

He was quite sure he’d said go back to your own bed, but instead there Hazel was crawling onto Sanzo’s bed again like it was the most natural thing in the world, sprawled on his back with an arm over his face.

“…’s comfy here.” Hazel’s voice was distant, already half lost to sleep. “You comin’?”

No, fuck off.

Yet there he was loosening his robes and shoving Hazel over towards the wall. This was his damn bed. “Don’t touch me.”

The only response was a soft snore.


Sanzo was awoken by stifled moans and hands clutching mindlessly at the front of his robes.  A single light he’d forgotten to turn off cast a soft glow over the room, his head still heavy with whisky. In front of him Hazel was trembling, face pained and brow damp, fingers white-knuckled.

It may help you sleep but doesn’t do shit for the nightmares.

Hazel’s eyes flew open with a gasp, wild and terrified until he processed the dim light around him.

“A nightmare,” Sanzo said, and Hazel’s grip on him loosened. “It’s over. It’s not real.”


The last thing he expected was Hazel’s arms around him, forehead pressing against his chest—and Sanzo really hoped Hazel wasn’t fucking crying. He flinched, stomach twisting hotly, and he should shove Hazel away, should tell him he’s disgusting, and nobody touches Sanzo like this, nobody

But instead he just froze, feeling the shudders rack Hazel’s body, hating that the warmth pressed up against him felt like something he’d been depriving himself of rather than something he’d always despised. His hand crept up to rest in Hazel’s hair, because maybe if Hazel just calmed down a bit, then—

Hazel’s breath was hot and damp on his chest where Sanzo’s robe had fallen open during the night, and somehow there was now a hand on his waist, tracing down over his hip bone. And then he was painfully fucking hard and his fingers tightened their grip in Hazel’s hair; a quiet gasp sounded and it couldn’t have been him, he refused to believe it had been him—

Neither of them said a word, Sanzo’s heart thudding painfully in his chest as Hazel’s lips found his neck. There was a desperation in his movements, and Sanzo let him, let himself be straddled as Hazel kissed his jaw, his throat, down his chest to his stomach. His hands never left Hazel’s hair, gleaming in the lamplight. His skin felt like it was burning, his mind thick with alcohol and lust, and then his thumb was stroking Hazel’s cheek.

His head jerked back against the pillow at the first hot wetness of Hazel’s tongue against his dick, face flushed; and he didn’t want to look, but he couldn't help it because he had to see. It was inelegant and messy, and when he came with a choked off cry, eyes squeezed tightly shut and clutching onto Hazel like a lifeline, for once he wasn’t thinking at all.

Hazel pulled back a little and panted against his hip, and this wasn’t—it didn’t mean anything, but when Sanzo pulled him up and licked into his mouth, tasting himself there; when he slipped a hand down and roughly fisted Hazel’s dick until he gasped against Sanzo’s mouth and came between them, his mind was utterly, blissfully blank.

He didn’t remember falling asleep, but when he awoke to the sound of soft rain Hazel was still there, sleeping deeply and sprawled out again like he belonged, fingertips resting on Sanzo’s bare shoulder.

It wasn’t—horrible. And that was the most terrifying thing of all.

But his skin was crawling with the need for space and a hot bath. He groped around in the bedside drawer for cigarettes and a spare lighter; the floor was cold against his bare feet as he stood, heading to the window to push it open and let the chill air wash over him. His hands were unsteady as he lit up, but the first deep breath brought a blissful release of tension.

Yeah, they’d fucked up. He'd fucked up. His gaze flickered over to where Hazel lay sleeping. If Hazel would just leave the temple, that would be the end of it. Things had been so much simpler before – but then, turning up out of nowhere and disrupting Sanzo’s life was something he’d always been good at.

A muffled noise came from the bed, and Hazel’s hand came up to clutch at the side of his head. “…what time is it?”

“Just after dawn.” His voice sounded foreign to his own ears, hoarse and quiet. It was only as he stood here now that he realised—last night he hadn’t even considered reaching for his gun. “I’m – going.”

Hazel raised a hand in a half-hearted wave, reply an indecipherable mumble against the pillow.

And so Sanzo went.

He didn’t return that night, either, instead checking into a small inn where he could just—be alone. Alone with their bad food that was nothing like what Hazel brought him, and newspaper that he must have read cover-to-cover at least three times. Alone in cool bed sheets that didn’t smell of anything except laundry detergent. When he slept, he dreamt of a hot mouth on his neck and hands on his thighs.

The next day he walked back to the temple through the markets; as much as he disliked crowds the noise helped drown out the intrusive thoughts in his own mind. And when he turned upon hearing a familiar voice, it was so like the day Hazel had found him again that he froze, disoriented – but Hazel wasn’t even talking to him, instead smiling and gesturing at a stall merchant. He had a large bag slung over his shoulder, and Sanzo just stood there in the middle of the busy street, first attracting annoyed glances, then more blatant, curious stares.

A cold pressure in his chest tightened. Hazel should leave. He wanted Hazel to leave. He didn’t need Sanzo to get his memories back, and had even less reason to stay long term at the temple.

Then Hazel turned and saw him, eyes widening as Sanzo folded his arms and glanced away, like he wasn’t standing awkwardly in the middle of the fucking street for no reason.

Hazel hurried over, pushing his purchases inside the bag as he arrived. “Where on earth did you disappear to? Everyone was worried sick.”

Somehow Sanzo very much doubted that. The only person at the temple not used to his tendency to disappear on occasion was standing right in front of him.

“Things to do,” he said, but the silence had stretched on too long and Hazel just raised an eyebrow.

“Mm.” Hazel smiled then, a genuine smile as he tilted his head questioningly. “Well, if you’re all done with your things, shall we head back?”


“Well, these kitchen supplies aren’t going to stay fresh sitting in a bag all day, y’know? Although,” his smile took on an edge as he leaned closer, “if you wanted to spend the day with me you only had to say.” Sanzo scowled, and Hazel must have seen the way his gaze lingered on the bag; a brief expression of confusion crossed his face before clearing. “You thought I was leaving? Now?”

At the surprise in Hazel’s voice, the pressure in Sanzo’s chest dissipated. Hazel was annoying, talked too much, and wouldn’t leave him alone, but—

“You’re not?” He thought he could keep his voice steady for just those two words; he failed.

Hazel’s expression softened, and he grabbed Sanzo’s sleeve to pull him along, ignoring the protests as he started back down the street.

“Nah,” he said, “I guess it feels kinda like home.”