This ficcie is being written for my imouto in honor of her birthday. A few warnings must be presented upon the outset. Firstly, I am new to Saiyuki, having only seen up to episode 20 at this point (and wasn't that a wonderful place to stop...grrr!!) While I usually try to write as in character as possible, my lack of familiarity may lead to inconsistencies. Feel free to correct me.

This is an exercise in hurt/comfort, by which I mean it will involve much pain inflicted upon our beloved Sanzou-ikkou, and very little in the way of actual plot. The PG-13 rating is due to Sanzo and Gojyo using the language one expects of them in such situations. Lastly, there will be no yaoi. Not that I have anything at all against the boys boinking; it simply doesn't have a place in this story.

Anyone who's still reading--please enjoy!

And Miles to Go


Really, thought Gojyo, this is all Sanzo's fault.

It had been the monk's decision to take the pass, after all. The innkeeper had clearly said there was a road around the mountains, maybe a few miles out of their way--or a few hundred--but a road, at any rate, which Hakuryuu could have handled, no problem. But the inestimable Sanzo-sama decreed that they should traverse the mountains directly, though the innkeeper had said, quite clearly, that the way was steep and the pass treacherous.

He had also mentioned the recent snowstorms, but even Gojyo thought he had been exaggerating. These parts were warm, after all; these people probably panicked over anything worse than morning frost. The inch of snow on the ground hardly bore out his stories, and there wasn't a cloud in the sky when they had set out that morning. The innkeeper had told them of a hunter's shelter in the high reaches, near the pass. "A fast pace will get you there by sunset," he had said, "just a cave above the waterfall, but there's a log door to keep bears out. You can't miss it."

Which might have been true, had they been able to see more than an arm's length ahead. The man, damn him, had said nothing about walls of white that descended with the force of a desert sandstorm, howling like all the wolves in China together and ripping at them with fangs of wind and ice. The snowflakes' dance was thicker than fog off the ocean. Youkai vision could penetrate deep darkness, but not this blinding, whirling white. Gojyo could barely make out Hakkai, trudging in front of him through the growing snowdrifts; he might have lost him entirely were it not for the steady glow of Hakuryuu's eyes. The snow dragged at his pants, clumping in the folds of fabric. His fingers were cramped with cold and he thrust his hands deeper into his jacket pockets in a vain search for warmth; he had given up on ever feeling his toes again twenty feet back, or was it fifty? Hell, at this point he couldn't even tell if they still were climbing; the snow made up and down irrelevant.

Head lowered to shield his eyes from the wind whipping his hair around, his forehead bumped against something--walked into a tree, he thought, then realized it was more pliant. Hakkai had stopped abruptly--because Sanzo had, apparently, to form a little knot in the nonexistent path. Goku tugged Gojyo down into their impromptu huddle.

"Do any of you see anything?" Sanzo asked, having to shout to be heard over the wind even a foot from their ears.

Hakkai shook his head, ice-caked bangs swinging over his eyes. "Nothing!"

"I'm hungry!" Goku yelled, as if that were any great surprise.

"We eat when we find the cave!" Sanzo shouted back at him, but Gojyo saw him pass the kid a bun--probably frozen, but Goku gnawed it happily anyway. Gojyo knew he didn't like snow, any more than Hakkai or Sanzo cared for rain, but he was handling this disaster with high spirits. He would have teased the monkeyboy about his appetite, but he knew if he unlocked his jaw his teeth would be chattering too hard for insults.

"Hakkai," Sanzo asked, "can Hakuryuu fly through this?"

"No!" Hakkai denied. The little dragon had wrapped itself around his neck to hide in his collar, its wings closed tightly against the cold.

"Ch'," the monk swore--impressive that it could be heard over the wind. "Maybe we should make camp."

"Are you nuts?" Gojyo shrieked. "We'll be b-b-buried by nightfall!" And didn't he sound like a stammering idiot.

He was surprised when an arm wrapped around his shoulder and pulled him close. "Where's your hat?" Hakkai demanded in his ear.

"L-l-lost it." Some weeks ago, actually, and not entirely by accident. It had been a damn ugly hat. Orange knit clashed horribly with his hair.

Something was jammed over his head and pulled down over his ears, muffling the wind slightly and shocking him with its warmth. "We'll have to get you a new one," Hakkai said, as he ran his gloved hands through his now-bare hair. Then he shouted across their little circle, "Sanzo, if we don't make camp now, we better get moving again!"

"Move where?" Sanzo snapped back, and Gojyo couldn't tell if his shout was sarcastic, or simply flat.

"There!" Goku cried. He had stood up from their circle and turned in place. Now he pointed into the whiteness. "I just saw something!"

"GOKU!" Sanzo hollered, but it was too late. Goku had bounded from their huddle in the direction he had indicated. His orange cloak was bright against the white, and then he had taken another step and was swallowed by the blinding snow.

"Get back here, bakazaru!" roared Sanzo, but only the wind answered.

The wind, and Hakuryuu. "Kyuuu!" squealed the dragon, and then in a burst of white wings and contrary to its master's expectations, it launched itself from Hakkai's shoulder and also vanished into the storm.

Hakkai stood, but Sanzo grabbed him. "He can't have gone far," Hakkai said, as calmly reasonable as he would have been on a sunny beach. "He'll find Goku--I'll find them both, and we'll wait for you ahead. All right?"

Sanzo barely hesitated. Gojyo thought he saw violet eyes flick down to him--trick of the snow?--and then the monk said, "We'll be coming."

Hakkai nodded, and disappeared in three long strides. Then Sanzo had grabbed Gojyo's arm and roughly hauled him to his feet. "Move it," the monk growled. "We're far enough behind already."

to be continued...

By the by, one question for readers--is Sanzo more appropriately called a monk or a priest? I've seen both used, and am unsure what the closer Western approximation is.