:: Captivity ::
Disclaimer: I don't own Saiyuki Gaiden, which rightfully belongs to Minekura Kazuya.
Pairings: past Homura/Rinrei
Warnings: slight AU, Gaiden spoilers, Homura-related spoilers, angst, post-death
Notes: Random little fic idea I had, done partially because Homura doesn't have enough [good] ficcage and... well... I just thought it'd be fun to do. By the time I finished this I realized it can be looked at as a prequel to an upcoming epic of mine, Perfect World. Or it could just fit into the normal Saiyuki-verse. Whichever.
Anyway. Constructive criticism and feedback is always appreciated. Sankyuu.
He shouldn't be here. That much was obvious; he was an outsider to this place now, a place he once had to call his home. Being back in the dark coldness only made him grimace with unwanted memories and highly unneeded emotions of the past. Scratch that he shouldn't be here; he'd promised to never come back because he hated the place. And yet here he was.
No one was on watch at the moment, which was unusual considering the heavens' high paranoia. It seemed that their current prisoner was regarded, at the moment, completely harmless. And in a sense that was true, because said prisoner was so wracked with grief that he wouldn't even respond to anyone. He would shrink into himself every time a particular name was mentioned, sink back and just start crying.
So Homura had heard, anyway.
He continued walking. The only sounds audible to him were his footsteps and soft breathing. As he walked he began to doubt whether or not he should really be doing this, but by the time his doubts began to rise he could hear very soft whimpers and rustling just ahead. The lonely sounds banished his second thoughts and he continued on.
He finally reached the cell, and what he saw inside made his heart ache. The boy was in there, dirty and bloodied, curled up on the cold floor as he cried softly. From the quiet hiccups that escaped, Homura guessed that the boy had been crying for a while and was only now calming down. The stench of blood was old; the stains on the boy's jeans were likely old.
No, they were definitely old. As far as Homura knew, the child hadn't seen a single living being for nearly two days, much less touched one.
Homura crouched down in front of the bars, ignoring the fact that the movement dirtied some of his clothes. Careful to keep his tone soft and gentle, he said, "You do not appear to want a visitor."
The boy stirred, raising his head to look at him. Twin pairs of wide golden eyes stared at him, nothing within them indicating that there was a living soul in that body. The child sat him, rubbing at his eyes with a dirty arm, his voice quiet and shaky. "Give him back..."
He sighed, shaking his head. "I gladly would if I could, believe me." Homura, of all people, knew what it was like to have your loved one ripped away from you. While the child likely hadn't been in love with the man taken away from him, he had definitely cared for him a great deal. At least, that was what Homura was able to gather from glimpses and observations.
His words seemed to stir something else inside the boy. "You're... not a guard..."
"No," he agreed.
"But... you're not a friend, either..."
Homura paused to consider that and it took him a while to respond. The boy was a child and needed to understand things in simple terms, but it was hard to explain some things that easily. He wanted to make his point clear right away-- he couldn't afford to waste too much time, and this boy didn't need any more added confusion.
At last he spoke. "Not in the sense you speak of. I do not wish to harm you."
There was silence for a moment, then the sound of cloth rustling. The boy crawled toward the bars of his prison, looking up at him with a tormented expression that tore at Homura's soul. He had to look away in order to keep his composure. "Please," the boy pleaded. "Let me out... I gotta find him..."
"You will not find him around here," he responded quietly.
"But... but they sent him away somewhere... right?" Small hands clung to the bars, and when Homura looked again fresh tears were welling in his eyes. "I... I can find him! I know I can..."
A faint smirk touched his lips; it wasn't at all sinister or cruel. If anything, it was closer to self-mocking. How similar to his situation this boy was in right now... "I do not doubt you."
"Will you let me out?" The voice was so weak. It hurt so much; though he had never directly spoken to the boy before this he'd often heard the exuberant cries of delight when he would play outside. He remembered seeing him in the flower fields, remembered the time the boy had seen him, smiled childishly, and asked for his name. He remembered the energy this boy had radiated, as though he had enough for himself and everyone else around him.
Now the voice was desperate, pleading for help. The energy had dwindled to the barest spark, only lit when the sole person he desired was mentioned. It was so... lifeless.
Regrettably, Homura shook his head. "I cannot do that."
The hopeful face crumpled. Clearly the boy had seen him as his last hope; if this man, a person who was neither enemy nor friend, couldn't help him, who possibly could?
The answer was no one. At that moment in time, he would have given anything to make it otherwise. This boy was so like him, so lost without the one he loved... and for this child the situation was worse. He had been forced to watch the one he cared for-- no, the ones he cared for die. Any lesser person would have been shattered, but he was holding out somehow. It was amazing.
Homura noted that no crumbs littered the floor. Either the boy hadn't eaten in days or he had been so ravenous that when he was fed he made sure nothing was left behind. Reaching inside a hidden pocket in his cape, the man pulled out a meat bun. It was barely warm, but at least it was fresh. "You must be hungry."
The boy eyed the food, longing lighting his lifeless eyes. "A lil," he admitted in a small voice.
He held out the offered food. "Go on. I do not have any use for it."
The boy hesitantly reached through the bars, his arms shaking. Golden eyes kept darting up to the man's face, bleak and scared; as though he were afraid Homura would snatch away the food at the last moment.
When he did no such thing the boy finally grabbed the meat bun, jerking back quickly. The man was both amused and saddened by the action. It meant the boy was still suspicious of him.
Then again, he had every right to be.
The boy pulled the meat bun through the bars, taking a large bite out of it. It didn't take long for him to eat it all. Homura observed the scene silently, waiting until the boy was finished before he spoke again. "Do they not feed you?"
The boy looked at him, a bit sheepish. "Yeah... but it's not a lot."
Perhaps not, considering how much one under Konzen's care could always hope to eat more than enough, he thought.
"What's your name, mister?"
He tilted his head, shifting in his crouched position to ease the soreness creeping into his legs. "If I tell you, you must not repeat it to anyone else. In fact, it would be best for both of us to pretend I was never here."
The boy appeared confused, clearly not understanding why he wasn't allowed to say anything about him. He finally nodded in agreement.
"It is Homura."
"Homura," the boy repeated softly. The name rolled off his tongue awkwardly. "Homura... if you're gonna feed me and all... why can't you let me out?"
"I would if I could," Homura assured him. "But before we continue this conversation, it would be only polite if you gave me your name as well."
He really didn't need that; Homura knew the boy's name. Few people didn't. There were only so many heretics in the heavens... and only one person, heretic or not, that had killed many gods in a rage. His natural form was known as Seiten Taisei. His false form, the human-like child before him now, was...
The boy didn't seem to find his request strange. "Goku."
"Well then." Homura reached between the bars, clasping the boy's arm firmly. Startled, Goku looked down and noted the shackles on Homura's wrists. Slowly he raised his gaze, finally staring Homura in the eye.
"Yes," Homura answered the unspoken question. "I am just like you. We are both creatures of heresy... and that is why I cannot set you free." He squeezed the boy's arm lightly, finally letting go. "I apologize."
Goku seemed at a loss for words. He drew back, hugging his knees to his chest. His expression was so desolate, so heartbroken, that Homura felt genuine empathy. The sympathy had transformed, shifting into something Homura could completely relate to. This boy was a mirror image of him when he had been imprisoned only weeks before.
It hurt more than he'd expected.
"Why're you here?" Goku asked weakly, shaking. He curled up tighter into himself, pressing his forehead against his knees. His voice was muffled, but Homura could make out the words. "You can't help me... you can't free me... you don't even know where Konzen is, do you...?"
"I do." Homura sighed, bringing a hand to cover his eyes as he cringed. Again, he felt empathy-- this time because what had happened to Konzen had happened to the woman he had loved. "He is on Earth."
"Earth?" Goku repeated in a whisper.
"That is where you were born."
"Oh..." Goku shifted. Homura finally uncovered his eyes, able to control himself enough to look at the boy again. To his amazement, a small smile touched Goku's lips. "Konzen promised he'd take me to Earth someday... I wanted to see where I was born." He giggled, but it sounded hollow. "It was gonna be so great... I wanted Nataku to come with us..."
Nataku, the former War Prince, the Killing Puppet who had gone into a coma. Homura knew only too well about him, also. He didn't know much about the heavens' activities, as he'd been prisoner for as long as he could remember, locked away in a cell in the darkest corners of Heaven. Homura knew about Nataku-- because he was the one to take Nataku's place as War Prince.
In other words, it was his turn to be used as the Killing Puppet. Watching Goku, he sighed and decided it was better they chose him than this boy. Goku wouldn't last even a day, miserable and heartbroken as he was.
The gods seemed to realize that. Homura had heard rumors, and tomorrow everyone would know what was to become of the most troublesome heretic.
He drew his attention back to the boy. "Yes?"
Goku looked at him solemnly. "Do you think... do you think I'll see them again?" His voice trembled a bit. He seemed barely able to control it, and only then with enormous effort. "Nataku, Ken-nii, Ten-chan... and Konzen? Will I see them again?"
Heaven forbade killing, and Homura wouldn't quite step in to take Nataku's place. Not yet. They had too many things going on with this abomination to worry about a silly appointment. He wouldn't be ordered to kill the boy -- for which he was thankful; Homura didn't want this particular blood spilled on his hands -- so their only other option was some form of banishment.
"Yes," he said. He meant it. "I think you will."
Goku smiled faintly, nodding and resting his chin on his arms. "Yeah... you're right."
Despite the dark situation the child was able to hold on to a glimmer of optimism. Homura was startled to find himself feeling jealous; even as a young boy he'd never had room in his cold heart and mind for uplifting thoughts. He couldn't dream of freedom, as he'd never experienced it to his knowledge. The only thing he'd been able to look forward to was death, because it had been the only thing that would release him from his cold, monotonous life.
Now though, Homura had a reason to live. He'd found his original reason a few days after his release from his prison in the form of a lovely goddess. Rinrei had given him cause to live. Now that she was gone, he should have felt there was nothing left for him.
And before he'd met Son Goku, that had been exactly how he'd felt. But Homura was witnessed the latent power lurking beneath the surface of the seemingly unremarkable child. There was the potential for him to become stronger, far more powerful.
If Homura had researched correctly, Son Goku was the only creature with the power he would be able to use someday. With that power he wouldn't destroy this heaven and world, but create new ones, where heresy wouldn't exist, where his -- and Son Goku's -- existences wouldn't be considered a curse.
He was positive Rinrei would have agreed with him. He was positive because it would also be the one place where their love would be accepted-- and that had been their true desire. It still was, even after she had been banished.
He would create a new world for her. And if he was going to do that, he couldn't afford to be caught here. Homura cleared his throat, waiting for Goku to look at him. "I will have to leave you now."
At first he looked disappointed, but the boy just nodded. "Thanks," he mumbled. "For... bringin' me food and stuff."
Homura couldn't help it; he smirked. "No need to worry. I will come to see you again."
Even at the distance and despite the dim light, Homura could see the hope flicker in the child's eyes. "You promise?"
Nodding, Homura got back to his feet, taking a moment to work out the sore muscles on his legs. He gave the boy a half smile and a wave before turning and starting down the corridor, back the way he had come. He felt a little bad for telling Goku he would see him again... because while he did intend to, it wouldn't be until after he was punished. Possibly not even for years and years to come.
Still, he thought, listening to his footsteps echo. He would keep his promise. Nothing would deter him from creating his new world. Not even the own uncertainty of his own life.
I am doing this for us, Rinrei, he silently vowed as he reached the upper levels of heaven. Everything was quiet and peaceful in appearance-- exactly as the heavens wanted it. At its core, nothing was ever perfect. That was why they all needed a fresh start.
Filled with determination and plans for the first time in weeks, Homura left the prison for the last time.