Title: Blinded By the Sun
Author: Tirya King
Rating: PG-13 for language
Warning: Yeah, language. But if you've seen Saiyuki, then it's nothing you haven't been exposed to before.
Summary: Sanzo is frightened by the absolute devotion shown to him by Goku. Doesn't the stupid monkey realize just who and what his universe revolves around? Doesn't he realize that of all the monks and priests in the world, the innocent yet powerful demon has chosen to follow the worst?
Disclaimer: I own the series, the manga, and the movie but not the actual rights. I knew I forgot to get something! This isn't the first time I've had this problem!
Dedication: To Brandi with whom I spent an entire night watching the whole first season!
A/N: This is my first Saiyuki fic, and for now, the last. If something else comes to me, I'll give it a go. Let's just see how this one goes The part at the end where I talk about the eyes and execution comes from the original version of the story 'Journey to the West.' So I didn't make that up.
Blinded By the Sun
"Ow! That hurts, Sanzo! Be careful, will ya?"
"Stupid monkey, if you'd hold still it wouldn't hurt so much!" In emphasis, the irritated priest tightened the bandage he was wrapping around the boy making the youkai wince. Sanzo grumbled unhappily as he worked. His skillful hands worked with practiced ease, used to the months spent on the road in constant danger and the constant wounds that came with it. "Why do I have to be the one to fix your ass? It's your own fault you got hurt."
"Hey, cool down, Sanzo-sama," Gojyo sighed from his lounging position in an adjacent chair. "The little twerp took a good hit form that stupid youkai." He took a lazy drag from his cigarette. "If Goku were human, he'd be dead."
The hanyou's unspoken point had been made clearly, silencing any retort from the priest. Goku wasn't a careless fighter. He should never have been hurt. That blow was meant for Sanzo alone, whose attention was elsewhere at the time. If Goku hadn't taken the knife meant for his mentor, the proud Sanzo priest would have died within minutes.
"Aw, it's not that bad," Goku grinned cheekily. "I was too fast for the poor bastard. Coulda been a lot worse." He shot a glance at the frowning Sanzo as though imagining just how much worse. The grin wavered slightly.
Under the boy's golden stare, Sanzo stood abruptly decidedly uncomfortable with the direction of the conversation. "I'm done. Don't open up that wound again or you're fixing it yourself. Now go to sleep."
"Where are you going?" Goku asked, seeing him walk toward the door of the inn they were staying at. The priest stopped at the doorstep, but did not turn around.
"Out," was all he said in curt reply before making his exit through the threshold.
The room was silent in his wake. Their lone human companion was obviously preoccupied with something. He usually only got this pensive when it rained, yet tonight the stars shined clearly. Normally it was wise to let him be when he was like this, but they were on a tight schedule. They could not be delayed for the day it would take for him to wind down on his own.
Gojyo leaned back in his chair taking another drag on his cigarette. "I took the last one," he commented lightly, passing on the duty of Sanzo-sitting to the much more capable Hakkai.
Goku smirked, getting more comfortable as he lay back. He had earned the privilege of sleeping in the one bed that night due to his wound. "Yeah, and you still have the bruises to prove it."
"You wanna make something of it, monkey brain?" the hanyou demanded.
"Only that your stupid antennae are busted if you can't even dodge Sanzo's fist, you pervy kappa," the smaller demon grinned defiantly. Gojyo growled menacingly, ready to lunge at the boy, wound or no wound.
"Antennae!" he roared, reaching a hand up to touch the questioned strands of hair. "Listen, you miserable little…"
"Maa, maa," soothed Hakkai. "Come now, you two. Fighting amongst ourselves isn't helping. I will see to Sanzo. Goku, I suggest you lay back and relax if you don't want to aggravate that wound. I have a feeling Sanzo will keep to his threat and I haven't the energy to repair any further damage."
Said priest was currently making his way through the town streets. He didn't care that the general populace looked at him strangely due to his high rank. All he knew was that he couldn't stand the silence the forest offered in contrast. Because silence meant he had the opportunity to think. And that was not an option right now. Thinking was dangerous when one's mind was running around in circles.
He snorted in self-disgust turning to head into the nearest seedy bar. If the townspeople thought him strange before, being a foreign Sanzo priest, they would be absolutely floored now. He couldn't find it in himself to give a shit. What Sanzo needed now was a stiff drink. And he needed it now.
Just as he settled into a seat at a table in the corner, he sensed powerful demonic chi headed his way. Frowning into his cup he took a large gulp that made his throat burn. He didn't need to look to know who it was that had tracked him down. Since when did he need to be looked after like an errant child? Not even his Master had mothered him like those three insisted on doing.
"I thought I'd find you here, Sanzo," Hakkai said in his usual cheerful manner. The monk hated that voice. Hakkai was far from cheerful and carefree. For him to pretend otherwise was insulting to Sanzo's intelligence. He should know by now that he didn't need to pretend when he was with the priest.
"What do you want?" he grumbled not looking at him.
"You left us rather quickly," the demon slayer explained. "We were concerned."
"Bullshit," Sanzo snarled back taking another large sip.
Hakkai's eyes softened sympathetically. "What's wrong? Why are you so upset?"
Sanzo slammed his cup down on the table angrily, startling a few of the local patrons. "That damned monkey!" he cursed, spitting it out before he could stop himself. "He's pissing me off. That's what's wrong! Satisfied?"
Hakkai stood up as he saw the bartender speaking to a few larger gentlemen. It was time they made their exit. "I fear you're upsetting the other people here. Come walk with me." He placed some coins on the table and headed for the door, sure the priest would follow. The rustling of robes behind him confirmed the assumption.
The night air was warm, making it much more comfortable to travel in. Staying indoors would be much too stifling for this conversation. "Goku was hurt very badly today," Hakkai said softly once they were outside and had walked a ways. "He likes to wave it off as nothing, but that blade nearly killed him."
"I know that!" Sanzo interrupted, still angry. He glared at his companion with flaming violet eyes before returning his glare to the ground. His body was taut as a bowstring, ready to snap. "I bandaged him up, remember?"
"Why did you?" Hakkai was suddenly very solemn, losing the cheerful persona immediately. Whatever this was, it wasn't a simple case of annoyance. This was serious, and it had been bothering his friend for a long time. "I healed what I could, but you insisted on completing it. Why did you do it if it only upsets you? I would have…" he trailed off, eyes widening. "You always do that when he is hurt on your account, don't you?" It wasn't really a question, but a fact. One that the demon slayer hadn't even noticed until now. And he usually prided himself on being the observant one of the team.
"Why is he so stupid?" Sanzo asked, keeping his gaze to the ground as they walked on. The fire in him had died down somewhat, focused inwardly now instead of against Hakkai. But the tenseness did not leave, making his strides very stiff.
"You're talking about taking that blade?"
"He always does that! Every fucking time! He's just… stupid…" he shook his head, golden hair falling into distressed amethyst eyes, shadowing them from his companion's curious stare.
"Loyalty is not a sign of stupidity," Hakkai admonished gently. "He's the most devoted being I've ever seen. He'd follow you to the ends of the Earth if he could."
"I know! I know he would! He's been following me since I let him out of that cage." He chuckled humorlessly, shakily running a hand through his hair. "He can't be devoted to me. He can't."
"Why not? Most people never get to experience what you have. They would give anything to have someone so loyal to them as he is to you." Hakkai was amazed at the changes he was seeing in his normally emotionless friend. He looked nervous, and dare he say… afraid.
"That was one of the rules we had when we started this journey. Don't care about anyone else. We're on our own sides, remember? You three can leave when you want, no ties to the quest. If we care about anyone else, we get hurt. You know that."
"As well as you do," Hakkai nodded, remembering his poor beautiful sister. He never wanted to feel anything ever again after she died. And he had very nearly succeeded. "As well as any of us."
"But not him," Sanzo insisted. "He hasn't gone through the things we did. And if he ever did, he doesn't remember." He huffed darkly now, eyes glazed over with memory. "I still remember the day I found him. Damned monkey was driving me insane when he was calling me. I don't know how he did it without intending to, but he did. Just like how my Master said I called to him as a child in the river. And there he was, in that cage carved into the mountain."
He closed his eyes, seeing the image in his mind's eye of that day. When he spoke again, it was in a soft, almost gentle voice, one that the young demon slayer never heard before, filled with nostalgia. "He just looked at me. Little shit didn't even know what was going on. Damn it Hakkai, he didn't even know why he was there!" Now he did stop, turning to the demon-slayer, eyes obviously distressed. Hakkai vaguely wondered through his surprise just how long this had been bothering the priest. If he had to venture a guess, Sanzo had had these thoughts to mull over for a long time. Long enough to torture his normally tranquil soul to the point it was now.
"Goku did say that he didn't remember what he did," he agreed softly, moving to the side of the barely traversed road so he wouldn't be in anyone's way as they talked. "But for the gods to put him there with a powerful enough cage to hold him for so long, his crime must have been…"
"He must have tried nothing less than overthrowing Heaven itself," Sanzo finished, not even sure if he was joking or not. "Probably so he could have all the food he wanted. The monkey has to be at least 300 years old, probably as old as 500. But I swear sometimes he's just like any human child. But whatever he did, he very nearly succeeded or they wouldn't be so afraid of him." It was true, the gods of Heaven must have feared Goku if the way they tip-toed around him now was any indication.
Hakkai smiled good-naturedly. "He is rather excitable, isn't he? But to not remember a time before the cage, it is almost like he has been reborn. Only his demon self betrays his true age and experience." He looked at Sanzo who only appeared more concerned. "You found Goku around dawn, didn't you?"
"Yeah. I came in from the East and he just stared at me with the stupidest blank look on his face. And then I set him free." He paused looking weary and old despite his young years. "Do you know what he calls me?" He didn't wait for a response. "He calls me his fucking Sun, Hakkai! The Sun! Never to my face, but I still hear him say it now and then when he thinks no one is around."
His friend's eyes widened at the term. "The Sun…"
He didn't have time to ponder on this new development because Sanzo ploughed on, unable to stop now that he'd started. "The way he looks at me sometimes… it's just like the way I looked at my Master." He shut his violet eyes, shuddering before Hakkai. "And I fucking worshipped him."
"You're Goku's Sun," Hakkai repeated, finally understanding the monkey king's reasoning. Sanzo was his sunlight, shining bright, freeing him from his continuous suffering. The one thing denied to him in the cage that he most desired. More than food, more than companionship, more than even freedom. Hakkai remembered the boy telling him how he wished he could have been locked up deep underground so he wouldn't know about the sun. Knowing its splendor, yet denied its comfort was the worse kind of punishment the gods could bestow upon him. And bestow it they did.
Whether he knew it or not, Sanzo was everyone's sunlight. The central point of their lives, their leader, and their protection. Ever since the four first became companions when Sanzo had his orders to find the mass murderer Cho Gonou. Ever since the afternoon next to the ruins of the centipede demon king Hyakugan Maoh. When he chanted his sutra, voice clear and piercing, Hakkai had felt every joy and sorrow in the world fill him until he couldn't bear it any longer. And nothing existed but that voice and the figure in gold lined with sunlight. When he looked at the faces of the others after the sutra, Hakkai guessed that Sanzo had had the same effect on them.
"When my Master died trying to protect me," his companion continued, "all these people suddenly looked to me for guidance." The young priest looked at Hakkai now who could finally see true, undeniable fear in those glittering amethyst orbs. "And I had no idea what to do. His death nearly destroyed me."
"And you're afraid that he'll experience what you did if you should die," the demon slayer guessed. It was a reasonable fear. This was no easy mission, and as the only human of the group, Sanzo's chances of survival were much less than his companions.
Sanzo snorted. "Of course I'm not. You've seen what happens whenever I am in real danger. That stupid monkey won't allow me to die. The further west we go the more of a fucking wet-nurse he becomes. I can barely fight any more without him jumping all around me."
"Sanzo, I don't…"
"I never wanted someone to protect!" the monk shouted, finally releasing the true problem. "If I'm responsible for someone, then I leave myself open to attack. Just like my Master. That's why I don't coddle any of you, why you have to fight for yourself before I'll help you. I need for you three to be strong enough whether or not I am there." His fists clenched and unclenched within his sleeves. "But that damned monkey is going to get killed for my sake one of these days and the gods curse me for caring! He thinks I'm some great being worth protecting. And he refuses to see the truth no matter how hard I smack it into his brain."
"And what truth is that? What can't he see?" Hakkai urged gently.
"I'm a joke among the other monks. I'm one of four of the highest ranking Buddhist priests alive, and I'm worse than a mere Acolyte. Why did Goku choose to follow the least worthy? I'm his damn Sun, Hakkai! I should be the one protecting him, not the other way around. He's so blinded by this notion that he refuses to see me for the sorry excuse of a priest that I am. But someday he'll have to face the fact that I'm not what he wants me to be." He shook his head, smiling softly with regret. "I've grown used to him prattling behind me all the time. But once he figures it out, he won't want to stay with me anymore."
Sanzo looked up when he felt his friend's hand on his shoulder. Normally he abhorred all forms of physical contact, but he couldn't find the energy to slap the hand away. The demon slayer's pine tree eyes, even the one made of glass, were soft with understanding. He smiled a true smile, not one forced or saddened. "Sanzo," he said, "you do not need to worry about disappointing Goku. Unlike so many people," he gave a shy grin, "you refuse to hide who you are. There is nothing to deceive him into following a false idol. Do you remember his first snowfall after you rescued him?"
"Yeah. Stupid monkey was too scared to leave his room. He spent the whole day huddled in a corner with his blanket."
"Do you remember why it was that he was so frightened?" The monk nodded again.
"Because it was so cold in his cage when winter came. He had no way to get warm. To him, snow meant suffering."
"Yes. It was a deep-set fear and nothing we said could make him come out. Not even the promise of food would budge him. Then we decided to go away to eat." Now he stared straight into his friend's violet eyes, forcing the words into the stubborn priest's mind. "He only moved when he knew you would be leaving him. Don't you see? He would rather suffer in the snow, which he feared so much, rather than let you out of his sight. You are his Sun, Sanzo. And no matter how hard on him you are or how little like a proper monk you may act, in your own way you are healing him from the cruel prison you rescued him from."
Sanzo thought on this for a moment. His expression was still troubled. Unconvinced. "I can't be his sunlight. I can't be his warmth and safety. Another priest wouldn't…"
"Another priest wouldn't have rescued him. It was your soul called for, not a holy, wise, proper monk. They would have left him there or abandoned him when they found out what a handful he was." Hakkai shook his head. "Do not doubt yourself or your abilities. And do not doubt his devotion to you. You do not cause him suffering. You ended it. If he wishes to take a blade for you, let him."
The young monk frowned, eyes shining protectively. "My Master would not let me take the youkai's blade for him even though he knew I would gladly. Goku is just a kid. He's too young to be dying for anyone." His blazing eyes, glittering like violet flames, almost dared Hakkai to take Goku away from him.
"Sanzo, he may often act like a child, but you yourself said he is about 500 years old. Hardly the age of a child. You cannot forget just who and what Goku is. His power limiter is the only thing protecting this world from a vengeful, ancient, and very powerful demon. A demon who once may have tried to take over Heaven itself."
Snorting in mock laughter, Sanzo sighed. "His inane babbling certainly isn't doing anything to prove that."
Hiding is own laughter behind a hand, Hakkai had to agree. The mental image of their meat-bun gobbling monkey wrecking havoc throughout Heaven was rather amusing. But then the demon slayer remembered the glitter of eternity in Goku's golden eyes, both with and without his power limiter on. It wasn't so hard to imagine the true Goku, the one hiding just beneath the surface, nearly conquering Heaven. And he remembered the loneliness that sometimes crossed the small demon's face in the dead of night. "I believe that his endless chatter is rather proving something to himself instead."
"Yeah? And what's that?" Sanzo lifted a delicate eyebrow in skepticism. What could that dumbass monkey have to prove to himself?
"His own existence," Hakkai answered quite seriously. It was no joke. "He purposely says things that are sure to get a reaction from us. He seems very uncomfortable during times of extended or forced silence. I believe that the constant scuffles between us and also from the fights with our enemies prove to him time and time again that he exists and that he does make an imprint on the world."
Sanzo nodded, seeing the logic in it. They all had problems complete with their own personal demons. This was just Goku's way of defeating his. When the ape was first released from the cage, he did nothing but talk, and touch, and run around, not stopping until Sanzo acknowledged him in some way. The young priest had wondered if he hadn't released a lunatic at first. It was hard to believe, but the Goku of today was much more placid in comparison. "But does he have to do it all the damn time?" he grumbled.
Hakkai laughed pleasantly. "I think you already know the answer to that yourself." All he got was a snort in response. Chuckling again, he began to move again back into the street. "We should get back. The others will be wondering where we've gone to."
Much as he dreaded having to face the nosy pair upon his return, Sanzo had no choice but to agree. He couldn't very well spend the night in the streets, brooding or sleeping. Besides, he had a few bullets left in his gun chamber. If Goku and Gojyo insisted on trying his divine patience this evening, he could always put the fear of Buddha into them. Again. Honestly, the amount of shots he wasted on those two…
"You do realize," the priest commented lightly as they neared the inn, "that if either the ape or kappa hear about any of this, I'll sutra your ass so fast…"
"Yes, Sanzo, I know," the demon slayer sighed. What would an evening spent with the irritable priest be without a death threat in some form or another? "They will know nothing of our conversation." Who was he, the local secret keeper? Hakkai concluded that he knew enough secrets from all three of his companions to make them his personal slaves for the rest of his life. Then he considered the thought of asking the priest to fetch him a drink. Alright, so blackmail would probably only get him killed.
"It's pathetic, isn't it?" the golden-haired young man to his right wondered out loud.
"What is?" Hakkai asked, trying to banish the image he had in his mind of Sanzo's reaction to aforementioned blackmail.
"This whole thing. The stupid monkey won't let anything happen to me and is old enough to have known my first ancestors. But I turn into a fucking mother hen when he gets a little pinprick.
"Maa, maa," Hakkai calmed him. "I'd be more concerned if you didn't care. Caring about someone is hardly pathetic. Like I said before, very few people ever have what you two have."
The priest only nodded. They turned the final corner to reveal the small inn wherein slumbered, hopefully, Goku and Gojyo. Knowing the trouble they had a knack for finding without Sanzo and Hakkai to baby-sit, it was highly doubtful. Still, he could hope for one quiet evening before they resumed their mission in the morning.
Tomorrow would be the same as all others, he mused as he and his companion climbed the dusty stairs. The hanyou and monkey would argue, mostly about food and appearances, until either Hakkai managed to calm them down or Sanzo threatened to shoot them into their next lives. Things would settle for five blissful minutes and then it would start up again with twice the force.
Battles would be fought. Some easy. Some difficult. And no matter what happened, from now on there was no going back. He had a job to do. The others he would not force to continue. They held no obligation to him or his task other then their own free will. Yet, as much as he denied it to the others, the young priest knew that he couldn't do it without them. He needed them. He needed Gojyo's humor, Hakkai's serenity, Goku's vibrancy.
Buddha granted Sanzo one favor that evening. For as the pair crept silently in, no shouts of obscenities greeted them. No thrown furniture. No one being shoved across the room. No one being mangled.
And the most amazing thing was that neither of the miscreants were asleep.
"Well, well," chuckled Gojyo. "Look who finally dragged themselves in."
"Sanzo!" Goku sat up from his light doze, smiling. "Hakkai! You're back!"
"I told you to go to sleep," the priest grumbled, putting his gun on the counter. The small demon shrugged stiffly, the wound from earlier obviously giving him some pain still. Sanzo quickly looked away, glaring at his weapon rather than the foolhardy Goku.
"I… I couldn't sleep," Goku admitted sheepishly. Now the priest did turn to look at his charge. Normally he could sleep like the dead at any time in any position. So what was the problem now?
"Why not?" he asked indifferently as he prepared for sleep. However, he listened carefully for the answer. Without rest, the knife wound would not heal properly, leaving him prone to infection. There was little chance of the monkey being sick or poisoned…
"Little pet wanted to wait till Master came home," the red-haired hanyou snickered, ignoring the warning look Hakkai sent his way. They did not need a fight breaking out now.
"Whatever," Sanzo replied before looking back at the wounded Goku. But his bearing was slightly more relaxed. "Go to sleep, Goku. We're leaving early tomorrow and I don't want to hear your damn whining."
His harsh words hid the concern that Hakkai could now see quite clearly. The young demon must have seen some hint of it as well for instead of letting Sanzo's biting tone go to heart, he merely flashed a grin and did as he was told. Even Gojyo could only chuckle in good humor as he and Hakkai shared a knowing look. Subtle their Sanzo-sama was not. Not when his Goku's well-being was in question.
A quick glare from the irritable monk sent the two to prepare for bed as well. He may have been focused on the ape, but he wasn't blind. He knew when he was being used for amusement. And he didn't like it.
As expected, now that Sanzo had returned, Goku quickly fell into a deep sleep, snoring lightly. Asleep as he was, he hardly looked like the deadly ancient creature that defied the Jade Emperor. All that remained of that monster while wearing the limiter were a pair of eyes as bright as any Sun. Eyes that were the lone souvenirs of an attempted execution.
He chuckled darkly, laying his mat near the bed. Of the four of them and their combined knowledge of the divine, only he knew what golden eyes meant. It was a story passed down through the Sanzos until it reached him as a child. A story of some great heretical monster who was ordered to be burned alive in a furnace for its great crimes. Yet whatever protected this monster from the blades of gods protected it in the furnace, and the only thing the smoke and flames did was grant the heretic with eyes the color of fire. Eyes that had the power to look into the souls of men.
The story ended there with the presumption that the Jade Emperor eventually found some way to kill the beast. Sanzo had no doubt that this mythical creature had, instead, been released of its memories before being locked away.
Call it a hunch.
For whatever reason, this ancient demon now looked to him for guidance with its large heretical eyes. He never wanted someone to protect. Yet the task had fallen somehow to him anyway. Sanzo didn't mind so much anymore that he had to be Goku's Sun. The monkey was making a mistake, he was sure. Too blinded by whatever those golden orbs saw in him. But now it was too late to go back and undo the damage that had been done to the monk's heart. Goku had wormed his way into Sanzo's affections and was now placed on the very short list of those under his protection. And Sanzo wouldn't have it any other way.
"Stubborn stupid monkey," he cursed softly with affection. "Always have to have your way." He didn't notice the approving nod of Hakkai's head when he stirred from his own mat nearby. "You just try protecting me, you damn ape. I'm not letting you take any more blades for my sake."
The demon slayer managed to hold in a small laugh. Somehow, he felt Goku was up to the challenge.
A/N: Whew, that was long! As stated above, the part about the origin of the golden eyes comes from the original legend about the monkey king. I have no idea if Minekura-san is going to make that canon or not, but I felt it was a nice touch. As of now, this is my only Saiyuki fic. If I even come up with any other ideas, I'll be sure to put it down. This was way too much fun!