It was a warm night in spring, the first time Hakkai invited them to dinner.
"Dinner? Why?" Sanzo's frown was equal parts annoyed and puzzled, which meant Hakkai had a few seconds to explain before he was ignored completely.
"I enjoy cooking, and it seemed a shame to waste all the food Gojyo brought back. His last opponent had a shortage of cash, but plenty of vegetables." Hakkai shrugged, giving Sanzo his best what-can-you-do smile. "There's more than enough for four of us, even with Goku's healthy appetite."
"More than enough of what? Hey, Hakkai! What are you doing here so late?" Goku's excited barrage didn't falter as he clambered over the windowsill and into Sanzo's office, tracking dust from his forays across the polished floorboards. "What'dja mean, even enough for me? Did you bring food?" Goku ducked the crumpled-up papers Sanzo chucked at him without looking, all but drooling as he waited for answers.
"I came to invite you to dinner with myself and Gojyo," Hakkai explained before Sanzo could voice either his refusal or a condemnation of Goku's behavior. "Have you ever tried mountain vegetables?"
"No, but they sound good!"
Hakkai steadfastly ignored Sanzo rolling his eyes at Goku's back. "Well then, I hope you'll like them. They're very fresh." Hakkai moved towards the door, Goku following like a puppy that had been promised a treat. "Oh, and Gojyo also acquired some excellent sake. It would be a shame to let him drink most of it himself."
Sanzo sighed the sigh of the long-suffering, stubbed out his cigarette, and extinguished the lamp on his desk. "That monkey's not going anywhere until he's been hosed off," he grumbled as he shut the door behind them. "He's got half the orchard in his hair."
"I do not! I was helping in the potato patch!"
"The hell you were, I could hear them yelling at you all the way up here. It's just as well we're leaving, there'll be a line of angry idiots outside my door before long."
"Alright, Goku, let's stop by the well and wash our hands before we leave." Hakkai stepped down into the courtyard and quickened his pace. "We should hurry, I'm afraid-- I left everything on the stove to keep warm, but Gojyo looked rather hungry."
"He better leave some for us! Especially Sanzo, he needs to eat something healthy," Goku bristled. "Sanzo hasn't eaten much this week," he confided in a not-so-confidential whisper to Hakkai.
"Hakkai, go wash his mouth out while you're at it," Sanzo ground out. "I'll be outside the gate."
It was a delicious meal. But then, Gojyo insisted, Hakkai could've made compost taste like an imperial delicacy.
Hakkai responded that he was flattered, but surely he'd been using ingredients of a slightly higher quality, at which Gojyo had the decency to look abashed and offer to fetch another jar of sake.
Goku did indeed get to eat his fill. Hakkai noticed that he occasionally glanced at Sanzo's bowl, as if keeping an eye on how much food actually made its way into Sanzo's mouth. He seemed to be satisfied after the second helping, and asked if he could taste the sake. Sanzo looked genuinely alarmed at the thought and snapped that Goku was intolerable enough when sober. Hakkai deftly distracted him with the promise of dessert.
With a full and sleepy Goku ensconced on the couch, it wasn't too difficult to cajole Sanzo into a game of cards.
When they'd finally run out of games at which to lose against Hakkai, Sanzo and Goku headed back to the temple. After watching them round the bend in the road, Hakkai stepped back inside to find Gojyo stacking dishes in the sink. "Oh, thank you, Gojyo."
Gojyo shrugged. He was still a bit uncomfortable with housework, but it beat feeling useless while watching Hakkai do everything. "So, that actually wasn't as unpleasant as I thought it would be."
Hakkai chuckled as he wiped down the table. "You're right, it was a nice evening. We should do this again soon."
Gojyo snorted his disbelief. "You're kidding, right? I'm sure the kid would come every day, but there's no way you're gonna get ol' Stinky down here a second time-- not unless I manage to score another crate of top-quality booze at poker night."
Hakkai smiled that sunny oh-what-a-great-idea smile of his, the one that Gojyo was learning to dread. "Well then, Gojyo, please do your best."