:: These Last Moments ::
Disclaimer: I don't own Gensomaden Saiyuki, which rightfully belongs to Minekura Kazuya.
Warnings: Gaiden spoilers, possible OOCness, shounen ai, angst, sap, language, character death
Notes: It was interesting, actually. I was talking to some friends, and when one of them pretended to torture one of my Konzen/Goku plot bunnies, I told her that would make it an angst bunny. That was pretty much the only thought that lead up to the idea for this fic.
However, there was also one other contributing thing that helped this along. In the Gaiden fics I've read, Konzen always seems to be killed by Goku in his Seiten Taisei form. At first I thought it was an okay, if not over-used theory... until I re-read my manga scanlations and noticed something that seemed fairly vital to me.
In the prologue of the Gensomaden Saiyuki manga and the first episode of the series, the Three Aspects were telling Sanzo how it was interesting that everyone's past scars became the threads that bound them together now. Looking at Goku's picture, I realized that he looked horrified -- and quite normal; no demonic form here -- as he reached out to what seems to be Konzen falling forward, blood spilling out behind him. So, I created two theories of my own. This fic will portray one of those theories.
And my author's notes are getting obscenely long, so I'll just cut off here after saying this: constructive criticism is encouraged and highly appreciated. Thank you.
It was a crude hideout. The stone was damp and cold, very uncomfortable to lean against because the rocks would dig into his back. They were practically buried deep inside the earth; very little sunlight crept in during the day. Everything was coloured in shades of blue, purple, and black. It was only temporary, and he had the sinking feeling that they wouldn't stay hidden for long. They hadn't so far, and with each try the warriors of heaven only drew closer.
Konzen Douji raised his eyes, surveying the cramped hideout. Barely two seconds passed before he spotted the brunette curled up on the other side of the cave. The boy was hugging his knees to his chest, but his head was raised, golden eyes focused on him. Oddly enough, those eyes weren't asking for comfort. They were expressing different concerns.
Which was just as well, because Konzen didn't think he could bring himself to lie and say that they would be all right. Not when they were most likely only hours, perhaps even minutes away from being caught.
At last, the boy's voice broke the silence. "Konzen?" His voice was trembling.
Konzen closed his eyes, tangling both hands in his bound but disheveled hair. "What?"
"Are they going to take you away from me, too?"
Konzen's muscles tightened involuntarily; his sharp intake of breath was unconscious. It made his blood boil; made him furious to think about what had happened. Kenren and Tenpou were both dead. It had been so quick and sudden that he still had a hard time buying it, but his damned instincts insisted that it was true. It was the last thing he wanted to think about right now.
Damned celestial beings. Just because some of them had a little power, they decided to twist it until they got what they wanted, no matter what the costs... no matter what morals they had to leave behind. First Li Touten had been manipulating and using Nataku, his own son, as his killing puppet to gain power, then he had issued killing orders in front of the emperor and now... now what? They were being hunted down like rabbits. Two of their members had already died to buy Konzen time to get Goku further away.
It was damned ridiculous. As though Konzen didn't have so little respect for any of the other celestial beings as it was...
Goku was still waiting for his answer. The blonde celestial smiled bitterly, keeping his head down and his eyes shut. "Probably."
Silence met his honest answer. Even without looking, he knew that Goku was shrinking into himself. He would be trying not to cry; not because Konzen hated it, but because he wouldn't want his keeper to see him shed tears again.
How many times had he cried since the while thing had started? Konzen had lost count.
They had only been on the run for a few days... possibly a week. Konzen was admittedly amazed they had been able to hide for so long. It had been particularly difficult at first because Goku had been ill and stuck in his Seiten Taisei form. He had been able to heal easier once they had managed to recreate the golden band that had limited the boy's powers once before. It hadn't been easy, and the one Goku wore now was a feeble copy of the first, but it was effective enough. He was still weak and recovering, most likely, because Tenpou had been killed before he had been able to see to Goku's full recovery.
The thought still made Konzen angry. No matter that it had been nearly a day since then, no matter that Kenren had been gone for longer than that... it infuriated him. His hands went taut, still tangled in his hair. When had he gotten so used to their presences that it had begun to ache once he realized they were gone?
He opened his eyes, turning them to Goku. The boy was staring ahead, his eyes glazed and blank. Konzen shuddered at the look. He didn't like it. It made him feel as though Goku was slowly slipping away as well.
If he lost Goku... he wouldn't just ache. He would probably hurt so badly that death would seem less painful and frightening. Hell, it probably would be.
Damn it, when had he let the brat get so close to him?
However, now, in this situation, it was difficult to think scornful thoughts about Goku. Not when they were on the brink of death.
At first the boy didn't seem to hear him. Konzen had to say his name louder, nearly growling it out before Goku blinked and registered the call. The glazed look faded; Konzen was filled with bitter relief. "What is it, Konzen?"
The blonde deity hesitated, before turning his gaze away and muttering, "Don't do that. It gives me the creeps."
Goku blinked rapidly. "Konzen?"
"Damn it." Konzen was glaring, but not at Goku. He seemed to be blaming the rocks ahead of him for all they were going through. "I hate that look. If you're not going to be aware, go to sleep."
The brunette tilted his head to the side. His long hair brushed against the ground. He was bruised and dirty, just like his keeper. Unlike Konzen, however, he was stained with the blood he had spilled in his insane rage a week ago. He was a boy affected by his emotions, and once he lost control of his thoughts, he lost control of himself and became Seiten Taisei. He had broken the seal made of special, hardened celestial material. His power was so off the charts that even the heavenly diadem was only barely able to keep it in check.
Konzen had to admit, he had felt fear when he had seen that demonic form of the otherwise innocent, playful boy. Seiten Taisei was like Goku's other half, one he wasn't fully aware of, and his exact opposite: angry, spiteful, and bloodthirsty. The raw power Konzen had felt emanating from the boy had been enough to strike the chord of fear that had never been touched. Konzen couldn't remember ever fearing for his life before then...
However, Konzen had refused to allow Kanzeon to kill Goku, even in that horrible demon form. So long as Goku was alive and under his care, Konzen refused to let anyone touch him. Naturally, that defiance was what had him involved in this mess in the first place.
Because he wanted to protect the first person he cared about? Tenpou and Kenren, yes, he cared for them -- though he was loathe to admit it; Konzen was difficult when it came to expressing his feelings -- but not to the extent for Goku. He'd given the boy a name, hadn't he? He'd taken care of Goku despite his complaints. For the first time, he'd allowed himself to care about someone. It was like Goku had shattered the emotional flat line he had been riding for so long.
Quite simply, Goku was his.
Mildly bemused by the concept, Konzen let that train of thought continue for a few more moments before he looked back. Goku was still huddled into a ball, his hands absently rubbing his cold arms. Goosebumps were rising on his flesh, but the boy hardly seemed to notice the temperature of their surroundings.
What an idiot, thought Konzen. Even so...
It took Goku a couple minutes to sense his attention was wanted. By then Konzen's arm was beginning to get sore. The boy opened his eyes, staring at the deity's outstretched hand in a mixture of confusion and wonder.
"Come on, you stupid monkey," Konzen muttered, glancing elsewhere but leaving his hand extended. When Goku hesitantly clasped it, he pulled the boy forward. Even before he released Goku's hand, the heretic child was twining his arms around Konzen, clinging to him so tightly and desperately.
To lose each other... Konzen allowed his arm to fall into a comfortable position around the boy's back. Goku's muscles were taut; clearly he was distressed and frightened, no matter how much he tried to hide it. He was still just a child, far more innocent than most his age... even with having to put up with the scorn and fear for being born with golden eyes.
Goku's chains were cold through Konzen's shirt; they pressed into his skin, no more comfortable than the rocks behind him. Konzen grimaced slightly, but put up with it. His amethyst eyes were currently on the boy curled up against him, trailing over the cuts and bruises, over the sickeningly pale skin.
In a gesture of concern that he wouldn't have displayed under less dramatic circumstances, Konzen brushed the back of his hand against Goku's forehead. The boy was hot, but still experiencing chills. He kept shivering. He wasn't a god, and so could get sick-- which he obviously still was.
To be sick on top of everything else... the kid must have been miserable. So it took Konzen by surprise when Goku tilted his head up, smiling.
"You're warm," he said. "Like the sun."
Like the sun... that was one of the first things Goku had said to him. At the time he had been commenting on the golden colour of Konzen's hair; he'd been fascinated by it, even daring to reach out and grasp a handful of it-- and accidentally ripping that handful out.
What strange dynamics they had. Right from the start, it seemed as though Goku was the type to only grate on Konzen's nerves when in fact, he was the type that Konzen could appreciate the most. He made his boring life more interesting. (Especially now, thought Konzen dryly.) Goku had, in his annoyingly childish way, forced an opening into Konzen's heart where he had made himself a comfortable little niche. Even if he'd wanted to, Konzen knew he could never hope to force the boy out and refill in that place with cold emptiness. How could he, after experiencing exactly the opposite?
At last, he muttered, "Idiot."
"Am I really?"
There was a touch of worry and fear in Goku's voice. Konzen frowned, though not quite in anger. "Yeah." After a tense pause, he added in a barely audible tone, "But I suppose that's all right."
Goku smiled, and then shivered. "I miss Ten-chan... and Ken-nii..." Konzen couldn't respond. How in the hell was he supposed to react to that? Goku saved him from having to by going on. "It wouldn't be as bad if I could keep you, too."
Konzen closed his eyes, inwardly cursing all the self-righteous bastards that dared reign in heaven. If karma ever came back to bite them in the ass, he would be sure to quietly rub it in their faces with a simple smirk. Laugh? Konzen doubted he knew how, aside from the occasional, almost insane chuckle.
Goku sounded unnerved. "Konzen? Are you okay?"
The blonde deity found himself smiling bitterly again. He quieted his already soft laughter. "No."
Goku's small hands grabbed fistfuls of his shirt. "I'm sorry."
Konzen sighed, shifting as the stone began to hurt him again. "Well, I'd say you have every right to be."
"I'm not scared of 'em."
The deity frowned, not sure he had heard right. Goku was squirming, trying to move closer, and Konzen simply couldn't bring himself to discourage the act. "What?" Had the boy just contradicted himself?
Golden eyes locked with violet. "I'm not scared of them," Goku repeated, looking uncharacteristically serious and determined. "Just of losing you."
Oh, he was definitely a child. Such a simple-minded way of thinking could only belong to a child. Konzen suddenly felt drained. "I know."
Goku slowly released his hold on the god's shirt, pulling back so that he was sitting on Konzen's legs, one hand on his thigh and the other in the air. His pinky finger was extended.
"What are you doing?" Konzen asked, admittedly puzzled and curious.
"Give me your little finger."
The demand was made lightly, and coming from Goku it was hardly a demand; more like a request. With a slight change of voice, it may have come out as a question. There was nothing hidden in the boy's eyes, just sincerity. Obviously there was something important underlying the request.
"My finger?" Konzen repeated.
Goku smiled the first real smile the deity had seen in days. It made him feel weak momentarily; he hadn't realized how tense Goku had made him with his lack of acting like... well, Goku. The cheer and playfulness seemed to have died, and for a while Konzen had been sure it was never coming back. It was a relief to see the boy acting like his normal self.
Goku even managed a small laugh, though it sounded half forced. "What, didn't you know?" He didn't dare grab Konzen's hand; he was actually afraid of touching the deity most of the time, excluding the golden hair he found as beautiful and bright as the sun itself. He was always entranced by it, and despite what had happened the first time, Konzen never objected to Goku's choice. It was less obvious than holding hands, and hardly anyone else would realize that it was more intimate and meaningful in their own way. "That's for promises."
"And what am I promising?" Konzen asked, still not raising his arm. If it was going to turn out to be ridiculous, he was going to seriously consider abandoning all thoughts of pitying the kid and whack him over the head.
Seeming to ponder the thought, Goku glanced down at his hand and frowned slightly. "Well... maybe..."
Konzen heard the hesitance in his voice. "Maybe what?"
"Maybe... you could promise to find me again."
It sounded ridiculous, but both understood that there was a deeper meaning hiding behind the clumsy words. Konzen took a moment to wonder at the actual depth of that meaning before he raised his hand. Rather than offer his pinky as Goku had requested, he tilted the boy's head up so that he could look at him. His gaze was hard, searching, and Goku allowed himself to be completely vulnerable to it.
There was no mistaking the emotions; they weren't barred, weren't shielded by any windows or curtains. They flowed freely, forcing Konzen to recognize them whether he wanted to or not. He was the first to close his eyes, too shaken by what he had seen. A child... how could a child understand any of that? How could he feel something like that, when Konzen himself was hesitant to believe his own feelings?
It took him a good minute or two to regain his bearings. Goku kept unnaturally silent; he hardly even fidgeted. At last, Konzen said without opening his eyes, "All right."
He held up his hand, which was his offering. Goku twined their little fingers together, and that was their bond; their promise. Somehow, that contact meant more than anything else would have. The intertwining of hands, an embrace, a kiss... none of them seemed powerful enough to portray what this simple linking of fingers did. Also, more than anything else, this was the best way Konzen could show his acceptance, understanding, and returning of Goku's feelings.
Goku smiled again. "Now we'll never be apart, because you'll definitely find me again." His voice trembled, and at long last he gave in to his tears. He didn't cry out or sob; he just sat on Konzen's lap, their fingers still linked, allowing salty tears to trail down his face one after the other. The drops that fell on Konzen's arm stung.
Konzen didn't do anything to stop him. It would be selfish to say that he didn't want to see Goku cry, because tears were a form of release. Konzen couldn't remember the last time he cried -- if he ever had -- but he understood why Goku did. Children couldn't rationalize their thoughts and console themselves, and so they cried. It was the same reason why they were annoying and whiny; it was their way of expressing the need for attention. Crying was their way of letting out their painful emotions. As one grew older, it would become easier to suppress the feeling, but until then... why not cry?
Goku's tears had resided to faint hiccups when they began to hear a commotion just outside their hideout.
"Konzen Douji!" The voice was deep and loud, echoing in the cramped space. Nothing else was said; just his name, called in a voice meant to warn.
They were already worming their way inside. No need to coax him out when they could come right in and kill him, right? Besides, anyone that even remotely knew Konzen would know that attempting to get him to come out just by talking would be futile. He was infuriatingly stubborn that way. Konzen scowled, untangling himself from the boy on his lap to stand.
The whisper was faint, but he heard it. The blonde deity didn't look down. "Goku. Get back."
"Konzen, wait--!" Goku was pleading uselessly; both of them knew that. Konzen felt cold fingers grasp his hand; it seemed that Goku had grabbed for it without thinking, forgetting that Konzen usually discouraged that.
Despite himself, the god squeezed back briefly before letting go and shoving the heretic child back. "Go back as far as possible," he growled. "Now."
Konzen turned, glaring. "I said go!" Goku stumbled backwards, frightened tears spilling out, washing away the sad stains on his face. He was obviously reluctant to leave, and Konzen could hear the footsteps getting closer. "Go," he repeated in a softer tone. "I already promised, didn't I?"
Goku nodded, finally scrambling to do as ordered. The shadows swallowed him up just as a triumphant voice cried, "He's here!"
Konzen turned; the beginnings of a self-mocking smile showed on his face. His eyes were hard and cold. "So this is how it ends?" he murmured to no one but himself.
The first soldier appeared in front of him, brandishing a polished but chipped sword. Confidence radiated from him; he had the upper hand because he was armed and Konzen was not. "Where's the heretic child, you traitor?"
The heretic child? Konzen's hands balled into fists, but he didn't strike out. He pinned the soldier with a cold stare, pleased when the man showed fear. "Who knows?"
All that awaited him was death. He was completely certain that there was no way out of this, not if Tenpou and Kenren couldn't make it. But, like Kenren and Tenpou, Konzen sure as hell was going to put up a fight before he went down. It was only delaying the inevitable, but whatever kept Goku breathing just a bit longer... that was enough.
How pathetic, he thought just before the first sword was rammed through his body. Blood and bile rose in his throat. To be killed by a soldier... it's degrading. Honestly, the things he did for that boy...
His adrenaline rushed, giving his body a feeling of hypersensitivity just as a loud shriek sounded. It was painfully familiar, and it made him sick to think that Goku was just about to witness his death.
... Damn stupid monkey... He fell forward, barely feeling the pain as he landed ungracefully on his face. Even if he was killed now, they wouldn't be able to keep them apart. After all, they had made a promise.
Konzen would definitely find him again.