:: Perfect World ::
Disclaimer: I don't own Gensomaden Saiyuki, which rightfully belongs to Minekura Kazuya.
Warnings: AU-ish, angst
Beta-read by: Iapetus, Selina
Notes: And finally, the release of an epic I've been working on since March. This will be, by far, my longest fanfic, and thus my longest Saiyuki fic. As I type this message I have 25 chapters and over 96,000 words of it written so far.
This will be updated every weekend (hopefully on Saturdays), no sooner and hopefully no later, depending on how school (and Driver's Ed.) goes. Eventually, as far as I know, the pairings that will appear are eventual Homura/Goku, past Homura/Rinrei, some Gojyo/Hakkai, and hints of Gojyo-Sanzo flirtation. There are also discussions of Sanzo/Goku, but this fic will most likely not have that pairing. There might be hintings of it near the end, but I'm not positive.
Estimated amount of chapters at this point is between 30 and 35. The ratings will be upped as the story progreses, and by chapter six this will be rated R (due to language). There will be NC-17 chapters from chapter 12 onward, but they will not be on FFN. You may find those chapters at my adult fanfictions, which have been linked in my profile. Chapters 12 and onward have the potential to be R-rated due to lime and violence.
Constructive criticism and feedback is appreciated.
It was just as he'd expected it to be. The mountain was tall and rocky, making the climb seem very difficult. And what he wanted was at the top where no one would think to go; either because it was too insanely high or because it was too insanely dangerous... or likely even both.
Luckily, that wasn't a problem for him.
He turned to his companions, his voice calm and rational. "I want you two to wait here. You ought to know why, I believe."
One seemed ready to protest; he always did when he wasn't completely cool with an idea. It never annoyed him. In fact, it simply amused him, especially since he knew exactly what would follow. As expected, the third man held up a hand, effectively cutting off any arguments early. "Understood," Shien said softly, not once opening his eyes. "And if anyone should try to pass through?"
He gave a slight shrug. "Do what you want. Just make sure I'm not interrupted."
Zenon gave them both a distasteful look, but he eventually nodded and settled back, flicking at his gun. "Yeah, yeah..."
With a confident smirk, Homura turned and started up the mountain.
It wasn't literally cold, at least not now. From what he could tell by sight and sense it was actually late spring. Soon it would be summer and the sun would shine down more, giving him only minimal comfort and solace. Something about the sun always did that. He hated winter because the warm rays would leave him, and for some reason it made his heart ache horribly.
He wasn't sure where this fascination with the sun came from. After all, it blinded him when he tried to look at it, burned him when it seemed angry with him, and left him when it grew bored. But that didn't change that he loved it and needed it... even if it wasn't the Sun he wanted. The Sun would always be there at his side, only leaving him under critical circumstances. That was what he knew instinctively. Sometimes he wondered if he had been locked up all this time simply to wait for his Sun to free him.
If that was the case, he sure was taking his sweet time.
The little boy made a small noise, bringing his knees up to his chest and burying his face in his arms. It was the same thing every day; watch the sun, listen to distant animals, and wait. Wait for his Sun. Sleep at night when he could, stare at the moon and stars when he couldn't. Try to dredge up any memories of his past and fail continuously, despite his honest efforts. Live through every day without any companionship or friends.
He couldn't even remember having friends, but he knew he had to have at some point. Why else would he desire it so badly? You only really craved for something once you'd have a taste of it and then lost it. He didn't even know how he knew that, only that it was true.
Curling his fingers around his arms, the boy shifted a bit against the rock. It wasn't uncomfortable, not anymore. At first it had been, during his first few years in here. Over time, though, he'd managed to get used to sharp rocks digging into his skin. Some places were even worn smooth because he was always sitting or laying there.
How long... have I been like this...?
He bit his lip, trying not to cry. He hated crying, hadn't cried since his last companion had died. The yellow canary... it had visited him every day, flying so far up toward the heavens just to visit him. That had been his only comfort for a while, and for a few days he had something to look forward to.
Then one morning he'd woken up to find his friend dead... and he remembered the agonizing pain ripping through his heart as he'd tried to reach out, trying to touch his friend, if only to cradle his body and mourn it properly. He would have dug a grave for it if he'd been able to, even of his prison was entirely made of rocks. Sheer determination would have driven him to tear away at the stone with his bare hands until they bled, so he could form some sort of gravesite.
But he hadn't been able to reach. His fingers had fallen short mere centimeters from the small, lifeless body. He'd been close enough to sense the last of the warmth seeping from the bird's body, but not enough to touch.
He didn't want to be alone anymore. It hurt too much. He wanted out...
The sun seemed to be setting already, or a cloud had rolled over it, because a shadow fell over him. He clenched his eyes shut tighter, not wanting to look up. Seeing the sun leave was far worse than almost anything else.
Someone please help me...
"As I thought."
The sudden voice made him start, his head jerking up so fast the boy nearly received whiplash. It took his eyes a few moments to adjust; the sun had not set, and he realized that there were no clouds. The shadow was that of a man's, a human figure, and he was standing in front of the cave with the oddest expression on his face. He almost got the feeling this stranger was thinking he had uncovered a great treasure in this isolated cave.
Once his eyes adjusted the boy could make out features; thin black eyebrows, one arched in a faintly amused look, ebony hair that looked as though he'd run his hand through it then left it alone, pale skin that was nearly blinding to look at in the direct light of the sun...
And, most peculiar and fascinating of all, two different colored eyes, one blue and one gold. He felt awed by the sight.
The man bent down on one knee as the boy crawled forward, watching intently. He said nothing when the child slowly reached through the rocky prison bars, trembling fingers grazing over a wide hand. The boy stared, transfixed, not moving his hand as he allowed the warmth of another living, breathing body to seep into him.
"You're real," he whispered hoarsely.
The man didn't laugh at him as the boy half expected him to; he simply smirked and said, "Yes. I am."
The boy finally tore his eyes away from the obviously solid hand, looking up at the man. "Are... you here to free me?" he asked hesitantly, afraid to hear the answer.
The man tilted his head a bit. "That all depends. But before we talk about that, introductions are necessary. My name is Homura. Why don't you tell me your name?"
"Goku," he said without hesitation. He may have had his memories erased, but he could remember his name perfectly well. "Son Goku. Who..." He trailed off, but Homura filled in the silence for him.
"Well then, Son Goku. I am a god."
Goku's eyes widened. "A... god..." Somehow the words triggered something nestled deep inside him. It felt like something wiggling just below the surface of his memories, but seconds later it faded away. He shook his head a bit, trying to grasp the man's hand. "You... you can get me out?"
"I'll let you out," Homura said quietly, not discouraging the touch or taking his eyes off the boy. Goku brightened as his heart began to pound painfully in his chest. Would he finally be free? After so long? He nearly deflated at the man's next words. "For a price."
He cringed. "A... price?"
The corner of Homura's mouth curled up. "It's simply something you'll have to decide if you want to partake in or not. I'm telling you just as much for you as I am for me." Goku blinked, not understanding, and Homura went on. "I could just make you promise to do anything for me in return for your freedom, but I'm going to give you a choice. If you don't like it, I'll leave and perhaps someone else will come to free you."
He didn't have to say that it seemed unlikely; Goku already knew. The thought made him cringe. "W... what's the price...?"
Homura stood up then, pulling away from the boy and walking over to the ledge just beyond the cave, peering out. He seemed to be contemplating... or searching for something. Seeming satisfied, he looked back at Goku, his voice calm. "It's rather simple, really. I want to create a new world in which there are no gods. It will be a perfect world."
He paused as though waiting for a response; when Goku said nothing he continued. "To do this I need two things called scriptures... specifically, the Seiten and Maten scriptures. I also need you to help me... both in creating the new world and in retrieving the sutras." He fixed Goku in place with his stare; though he was fairly certain he'd never seen this man before, Goku got the odd feeling that the sudden soft tone and solemn expression was unusual... and carried something very sad.
He shook his head, the heel of his hands coming up to press into his temples. "I..." Why did this man seem to be such a huge trigger? Shaking his head violently, Goku curled up a bit on the ground. Homura's eyes seemed to be piercing him, making him feel uncomfortable and exposed.
Even so... somehow he felt he could trust him. Maybe it was how he seemed so fair in everything he'd said and done, or maybe because his presence was just as soothing as it was discomforting.
This man wasn't his Sun; he knew that instinctively. But just how much longer could Goku wait for his Sun? Could he go another few hundred years waiting for a Sun that may never come?
Could he go back to that horrible aching loneliness for so long?
Hands falling from his head, Goku looked up at the man. Homura stared back, calm and unmoving, waiting for his decision. Finally, Goku whispered, "Will it be hard?"
"Possibly," Homura admitted. "It will certainly take a couple more years for me to work out the finer details."
"Then... why come to me now?"
The solemn expression cracked for a moment as Homura smirked again. "That," he said coolly, "is something I can't tell you the reason to. Not entirely. Not yet." He strode back to the cave, kneeling down again so that he was at eye level with the boy. "However, it will speed up the process by quite a few years," he said quietly. "Without your strength, Son Goku, achieving this dream would take far longer. I grow impatient after hundreds of years waiting. I'm sure you can understand that."
With a start, Goku realized that he could relate to that feeling perfectly. Homura wanted to create the perfect world as soon as he could, and Goku wanted his freedom granted as soon as someone came along that could do just that.
And Homura was offering him, and all he wanted in exchange was some help...
Goku grasped at the rocky bars. "I want it," he said, voice barely above a whisper. He dimly realized he was trembling. "I want out... I'll help you. I'll do whatever I can. I..." He swallowed, unable to finish without fear of possibly crying. I just don't want to be alone anymore...
Homura gave what seemed to be a reluctant sigh, but no; Goku must have heard wrong. He was just tense, wishing to be free so desperately that he was misinterpreting things. He was certain it was just that when Homura smirked again, reaching one shackled hand to the boy.
"As you wish," he said simply.
Goku reached out, a faint part of him telling him to stop, that he shouldn't be freed by anyone that he knew wasn't his Sun, but another, much more lonely part insisted that this man was trustworthy. He had to be; he seemed far too sincere to seem otherwise.
He was offering freedom... and, in an indirect way, companionship. Goku needed that.
Homura clasped his hand firmly once Goku's fingers brushed across his palm. The sheer force of his grip made Goku wince a bit, but it didn't seem like Homura was trying to hurt him. The man closed his eyes briefly, murmuring something Goku couldn't quite hear... and he doubted he would have understood anyway.
Just like that, Goku's chains snapped. The sudden sound made him look down, watching as his ankle chains also broke, releasing him from the deadweight barbells on the ground. Then the rock bars crumbled into a fine powder, causing Goku to flinch and pull back, coughing as dust got in his mouth and lungs. Homura didn't release him all the while, waiting until the boy was done coughing before pulling him out of the cave and to his feet. Goku felt a bit shaky, but he could stand and hadn't forgotten how to walk. He stared at his feet for a moment, taking a couple wobbly steps forward, but he found his balance quickly, and soon enough it was as natural as breathing.
He looked up at Homura, who was still holding his hand. "Thank you," was all he managed to say, and awkwardly at that.
Homura smirked, finally releasing him. "No thanks are needed." He gave Goku a level gaze. "I need you to realize one other thing that I forgot." Goku gave him a sharp look, wondering if he really had forgotten, or if it was just something he was going to force on the boy once he had his word to help him. "I have two other companions. I will not force you to, but it would be good if you could at least form a decent relationship with them. Arguments amongst allies are one of the first faults in most armies."
Goku took a moment to let that sink in. He decided that he could deal with two others, though a part of him felt hurt, as though Homura was saying he wouldn't be offering his full-time companionship as Goku had originally believed. Then again, he hadn't really said anything... "We're an army?" he asked slowly.
"Something like it," Homura agreed. "Do you feel steady enough to walk now?" Goku nodded. "Good. Let's go; you may ask more questions on the way down." With that he brushed past the boy, his cape billowing a bit behind him. Goku eyed the red-stitched flames with interest before starting after his keeper.
"If we're gonna be an army, does that mean I gotta fight?" he asked.
"It would be a good idea," Homura replied, glancing back briefly. "I have strong confidence in the fact you should have commendable skills as a fighter, and it would be good for you to at least learn to defend yourself."
"Oh..." Goku stumbled a bit over a rock beneath his foot, but he managed to stay upright. "Why d'you say that? I can fight? How do you know?"
Homura chuckled softly. "Let's just say I know more about you than you probably do."
Those words made Goku freeze. Homura seemed to notice, because he also paused and turned to face the boy. "You... know about my past?" Goku asked, soft and uncertain.
After the first few moments of silence Goku thought Homura wasn't going to answer. The man just stared at him, looking as though he were measuring the boy up. He frowned a bit, eyes going distant for a moment as he seemed to be seriously contemplating, before he finally answered. "I think that should be something for me to reveal to you slowly."
"It's necessary," was all Homura would say. Sensing the note of finality, Goku reluctantly nodded and they began walking again.
It wasn't the best way to go; Goku felt stumbling over the random rocks and little crevices. It really hurt, too, when his toes caught in a crack on the ground. After wondering why Homura didn't seem to have the same problem, he looked down and noted that the man had something covering his feet. "Hey, Homura--" He paused as he nearly tripped over yet another stone, cringing. "What d'you got on your feet? Is that why you can walk good?"
Homura looked back, seeming surprised, before he noticed what was going on. "And I thought you were simply clumsy from not walking for so long," he murmured, so quietly that Goku barely caught the words. In a louder tone, he said, "They're shoes. They do keep the ground from hurting my feet; yes... we'll see what we can do about getting you some once we're off the mountain."
"Okay--" Goku made a small yelp as he stumbled, this time unable to catch his balance. Luckily, since Homura was facing him, he noticed and moved quickly, catching the boy before his face met the ground. Goku blinked in surprise, looking up. He's fast... I couldn't even see! One minute he was there and now...
"Just try to be careful until we reach the bottom," Homura advised, helping him stand upright again and releasing him.
Flinching a bit, and feeling embarrassed for seeming so weak, Goku mumbled an okay. He fidgeted a moment, trying to hold back the sudden onslaught of questions, but curiosity got the better of him even before Homura started to move on. "Homura... where are we going?" he blurted. "Where are we going to live? Are the gods mad at you? Did they kick you out? Why do you want this new world? Is there food where we're going? Will the others like me? How long will it take us? It better not be long because my feet really hurt!"
Homura didn't once interrupt him, literally humoring him as he began to laugh at the boy's last outburst. Goku flushed a bit, wondering if he seemed that stupid, but Homura shook his head and said in a clearly amused tone, "You ask more questions than anyone I've ever known. I'll tell you this; you haven't changed at all in that respect." Goku's heart seemed to stop a moment; he'd just been told something about his past. It was probably insignificant, but it gave him an amazingly strong sense of comfort to know that time and isolation hadn't changed whoever he had been before. At least, not all of it.
Homura shook his head again, reaching out and tousling the boy's hair a bit roughly. Goku winced but didn't move back, quietly enjoying the physical contact and reveling in it. It was different, somehow, than when Homura had helped him up, perhaps because this movement seemed to clearly portray a sort of fondness.
He likes me, the boy realized. He must have known me before... and he doesn't seem to hate me at all! He offered a hesitant smile to the man, and Homura seemed to soften a bit.
"It won't take us too long. It's certainly easier going down than it is going up, so we'll probably reach the bottom in an hour or two," Homura said, drawing his hand back without changing his expression. "And don't worry; I intend to make sure you are properly fed and clothed before we do anything about the scriptures or your training."
Goku relaxed a bit, his smile becoming easy. "Okay," he agreed with a nod. "But I hope you got a lotta food! I'm really hungry!"
Nodding, Homura moved on so they could continue their descent. "Just try to be patient." Goku made a face at the words, but nodded anyway. I waited to be rescued for so long... I guess one more hour for food can't hurt...
It didn't occur to him at first to ask why Homura couldn't just do some godlike trick and magic them down the mountain. The idea started to nag at him once his calves started to burn, likely from lack of exercise, and his breathing became shorter. He had to scramble after the man several times, not because Homura went too fast, but simply because Goku realized that despite the man's slow pace he was still getting ahead.
He couldn't continue like that forever, though. "Homura," he whined, pausing to slump over one of the larger rocks. "We gotta stop..."
The god didn't even argue; he nodded. "Yes, you're tired. You are not used to such exercise. Go ahead and sit down." Grateful, Goku slid to the ground, closing his eyes for a few moments. It's warm...
It was warm, literally; the sun was starting to set, and the air would become cool soon, but for the moment it was pleasantly warm. Goku opened his eyes a bit, squinting at the setting sun. Nice...
"Hey, Homura," he said softly, closing his eyes and trying to appear relaxed, even though inside he was tense. "D'you think... anyone would have come for me if I hadn't said yes?"
When he cracked an eye open Homura was seated on a rock near him, peering down at him with an eyebrow raised. "Are you regretting the agreement, Son Goku?"
The boy shook his head vehemently. "No!" He paused, doing a double-take, before saying in a more embarrassed tone, "I mean... no. I was just... wondering." Because I'm free, and I guess I have a companion, but I don't feel complete, he added silently. He half wanted to say them but was far too worried that Homura would be disgusted and take him back. After all he was a god, and a god must have been the one to seal him in the first place, right?
Homura appeared to take his question seriously. "Eventually," he finally said carefully. "I can't tell you who or when, but eventually I believe someone else would have found you." He got back to his feet. "You've rested enough, haven't you? Let's go."
Goku wanted to protest, but he found that when he got up the burning in his legs wasn't nearly as intense; almost gone, even. He quickly hurried after the man. "Homura! Wait up!"
Overall it took nearly an hour and a half for them to descend completely, and that was with breaks to pause and allow Goku to get his breath back and rest his aching legs. By then it was getting very dark, to the point Goku could pretty much only see things in blues and grays. He squinted in the dark; eyes scanning the trees around him as he slowly took in and savored his freedom.
"Son Goku." Homura's voice made him snap to attention, but what he saw hadn't been what he'd been expecting. He stared at the two men with his savior. One was a slight but noticeable bit taller than Homura, his hair wild and spiked. His clothes somehow conjured the image of an army in Goku's mind; the machine gun resting on his shoulder helped that image. The other man seemed older than the last two, but he still obviously wasn't the leader; he didn't radiate enough charisma for it. He was dressed in a simpler fashion, and even in the light Goku realized he wouldn't be able to see his eyes, as they were closed. That man made him the most uncomfortable.
"This is Zenon," Homura said, gesturing to the man with the machine gun. He nodded curtly to Goku, and Goku nodded back, feeling strangely small. "And this is Shien." Shien said nothing, eyes still not opening, but Goku got the disturbing feeling he was scrutinizing the boy anyway.
Goku realized Homura was expecting a response. He shook his head, gathering his bearings before he grinned. "Hi."
Homura seemed satisfied with that, even if Zenon made a small rude noise and glanced away. "So we're done, then?" Zenon asked gruffly.
"Yes, we can go," Homura agreed, gesturing for Goku to come forward. The boy obeyed, trying not to let Shien's unseeing eyes unnerve him further. "We're going to travel in a bit of a different way this time," the man explained patiently. "So hold on to something." Goku opted for the man's cape, deeming it safest, and Homura had no objections. "This may feel a bit strange the first few times, but you'll get used to it eventually."
"What is it?" Goku asked curiously.
Homura smirked, nodding once to the other two. Without so much as a word, Zenon and Shien abruptly disappeared, causing Goku's eyes to widen. "It's a bit like teleportation," Homura said.
"Oh... hey!" Goku cried indignantly. "Why couldn't we use that to get down the mountain, then? My feet really hurt y'know!"
Voice colored with amusement, Homura simply said, "I think you'll figure that out yourself someday. I suggest you keep your mouth shut the first time." And then, without warning, he abruptly vanished, taking Goku with him.