Sanzo gives Hakkai an unexpected Christmas present.
The morning had dawned bright and clear and generally quiet (outside of what Hakkai told the innkeeper was an accident, really, someone had stumbled and jostled Sanzo while he was cleaning his gun -- ah, yes, naturally he was upset, but no, you must have been mistaken, of course the shots were before the shouting), with no indication at all that things might be about to metaphorically skid on an oil slick and go downhill, ending in a muddy ditch. Naturally, about an hour before noon, as temperatures and tempers were rising, they met with an accident.
A minor one, as accidents go -- Jeep fell into a large pothole in the road that had been hidden by a rise in the road, shrilled a startled protest as its rear wheels spun in the air, and spontaneously reverted to dragon form, dumping the four onto the road as it flew up into the safety of a nearby pear tree, shaking its hind feet irritably. "Oh, very nice," said Gojyo, seated in the middle of a rather sticky oil slick. Hakkai rather thought his usual mild expression must have become rather pained when Goku snatched his hand off the road, stared at the black smear on his palm, and wiped it on his pants.
Sanzo rose to his feet and brushed the dust off his robes fastidiously, the picture of disgruntlement, not least because he'd just been about to fire off a few warning shots at the backseat passengers. "How far to the next town?"
"Not too far," Hakkai told him, and squinted up the pear tree at Jeep. "We're nearly there, actually. We should reach it in time for dinner. Jeep, what's wrong?"
"Kyuu." After a little coaxing, Jeep flew down to Hakkai and coiled about his shoulders, turning several times to glare at the road and chirp what was probably its dissatisfaction with the road conditions. They had to walk several minutes until they were past the bad patch where it seemed a number of vehicles had collided violently and torn up the packed earth before Jeep would acquiesce to resuming vehicle form, though there was a bad moment when Gojyo started to sit down and Jeep reverted with an outraged "Kyuu!" Sanzo had to be persuaded to surrender his newspaper for Gojyou to sit on before Jeep would continue.
Just outside the town there was a commotion of some sort involving a hunter punctuating his diatribe against a farmer herding several hens and geese and a crying milkmaid by waving a pair of dead pigeons in the air while a discordant marching band milled about trying to go around the tangle of people and poultry blocking the road.
"My, what a crowd," said Hakkai, shooing everyone off Jeep so they could walk into the town as a troupe of dancers arrived to add their strident voices and wagons to the congested crossroads. They looked around at the bright red and green evergreens that bedecked most of the buildings by way of decorations, and the gaudily decorated cut trees on every corner. "It looks like there's a festival of some sort going on."
Gojyo hoisted Goku upright off the kerb and frowned when the rough handling failed to wake the boy. "Wake up, saru! Festival, huh. No kidding, Sherlock."
Sanzo, already grumpy over the less of his newspaper, bristled, but said nothing. It might have been the mild slur, or the choice of names. Hakkai chose not to attach particular significance to the reaction. "We may have to camp out tonight."
Even in his sleep, Goku wriggled and muttered, "Food."
Eventually they found themselves in a cramped, slightly musty smelling room that had only a view of the loudly honking, very hostile swans on the pond to recommend it. One of the swans chased a well-dressed, portly man carrying four birdcages for half the circumference of the pond before giving up, and the man hung the cages on a display pole outside their window. The four stared briefly at the traumatised songbirds twittering nervously, then returned to eyeing the dark-coloured lumps on their plates, all that the inn's kitchen had left.
"I don't think mayonnaise goes with that, really," said Hakkai mildly, just in time to catch Sanzo with his hand poised with a bottle to squirt mayonnaise over the doubtful black lump on his plate. Sanzo scowled, waiting for his explanation while Goku stuck his fork in his lump experimentally, and seeing that it didn't move, ate it, followed hastily by Gojyo and the two instantly commenced a melee over the extra lump. Sanzo pulled out his gun and fired several times into the ceiling. There was dead silence while they digested their lumps and the likely consequences of annoying Sanzo further.
"So," Hakkai continued, determined to remain unflapped. He forked a chunk and raised it for closer inspection. "This is a pudding, a traditional dessert for this festival. You eat it with sauce." He spooned out some over his own and Sanzo's puddings and tried a forkful. He sighed inwardly. The end result did not look much more appetising. The cake was a little dry and hard, the sauce too sweet. "Of course, you don't really have to eat it. It doesn't seem too fresh."
There was suddenly a frantic pounding at the door. Hakkai opened the door to greet the very red-faced and angry innkeeper demanding to know the cause of the gunshots and complaining that they'd frightened off the guests in the room above, and how was he to make up the damages and the loss of his clientele and, and-
"We'll pay for the repairs and take the vacated room for tonight," said Sanzo firmly, cutting off the man in mid-sputter. He flicked his lighter several times irritably without success - it was out of fuel - and put away his cigarette. "Hakkai, you're rooming with me. You two can have the rest of the pudding."
It was a very nice room, if one discounted the fact it appeared as though the designer had intended to create the love motel version of a honeymoon suite. There was a lot of lace and ruffles, and also cheap satin sheets that sparked with static electricity and caused an offended Jeep to fly to the top of the bedposts for cover. Hakkai toed off his shoes and lay back on the sheets. He blinked at the smallish mirror in the ceiling. "I don't get paid enough for this."
The bed moved as Sanzo settled on the other side and shrugged out of his robes. "No, you don't. I would pay you if I could."
Hakkai blinked and looked over at Sanzo's back. "What?"
Sanzo bent over and tugged forcefully at the laces of his boots. "You're not deaf."
"Ahaha. So I'm not." Hakkai smiled, and began changing into his sleep clothes.
Done for the Interlude SSP, 2005.
/Request: /Sanzo gives Hakkai an unexpected Christmas present.
/Additional wish: /Please include a Christmas pudding, although it shouldn't be the main object/theme (i.e.the unexpected gift).