Disclaimer: I do not own Saiyuki

Summary: A final moment of contemplation a few years after the end of the battle with Gyumaho. One Shot fic.


Curtain Call


"Dada! Dada!" The child toddles over to his father, arms outstretched. The man laughs and lifts the child up, up, as the boy squeals in delight. He's not afraid, for what can hurt him when he's safe in his father's arms?

The man suddenly hugs his son close, half-afraid that his bundle of joy is nothing but a dream, afraid that the expression in those innocent eyes will be replaced by fear and disgust. But no, his child is real, clamouring loudly to be lifted higher so "I touch pitty sky!" His father is about to comply when a soft chuckle interrupts the moment between father and son.

"Uncle Jojo!" Now the child struggles to be put down, wanting to welcome the red-haired newcomer. Hakkai too smiles in welcome, and he puts down the little boy. The child runs towards the half-demon, who holds out a small parcel. The little one takes it eagerly, and claps his hands with pleasure when he sees the chocolates he is so fond of. "Sank you," he says, remembering his manners, and is about to bite into the first sweet, when a gentle hand stops him. It is his mother, a raven-haired youkai, with soft black eyes, who shakes her head in mock anger at Gojyo. "You spoil the child," she says, as she lifts up the boy, who protests loudly against the removal of his anticipated treat. "After dinner," the woman replies to his demands for the sweets.

"I'll take him inside; you two will want to talk now." She smiles now, as she holds her son, and makes her way back into the house. Two pairs of eyes watch them leave, two pairs of eyes who have seen so much suffering, who relish every moment of tenderness.

"Watching the antics of your little squirt almost makes me feel I want to settle down and have a household of brats myself." Gojyo shakes back his mane of red hair and laughs.

"Why don't you?"

"Note the almost my friend. I'm not yet ready to become a staid, respectable head of a family!" The red haired man says this jestingly, but the ruby red eyes look wistfully at the mother and child… Is he wondering how it would feel to have his own child perhaps, ready to give him the love and affection only young children can give so innocently? Or is he thinking about his past, and asking himself how it would have been, if tender gestures and soft words had been exchanged for the insults and blows?

He feels a hand on his shoulder, and meets the gaze of his brown haired friend, always understanding, always there. He feels suddenly grateful; for the past years Hakkai has always been there. Even when he had got married, the door was always open for the red-haired man who had once helped him, even though, Hakkai had long since paid any debt he thought he might have owned him.

"It is almost a year since I've seen Goku and Sanzo," Hakkai says, breaking the silence.

"Lucky we were passing by then."

The two turn round at the sound of the familiar voice. Two figures stand side by side, one slightly taller than the other. The speaker grins at their look of astonishment. It is Goku, older and taller now, but always the same child to them. Yet, a child no longer so innocent now - there is a look in his eyes, a sadness there had not been before, perhaps brought about by the memories he has acquired. He stands protectively near the blond man, who looks rather irritated, but holds his tongue nonetheless. Sanzo is paler, and his face drawn; there have been too many skirmishes with death for him to remain unscathed, for he is only human. Another change is in his clothing; after the final battle, the fame of the four spread far and wide, and Sanzo no longer cares to wear his robes outside the temple, disliking to be recognised.

Four voices, or rather, three, start speaking at once, with the forth speaking only slightly, but listening to all that is said. It has been far too long since the companions have been together as before. They exchange news, talk about acquaintances, and jest, but inevitably perhaps, the talk turns back to what had first brought them together.

"It has scarcely been five years since it all began, but it seems like hundreds," says the golden eyed youkai reflectively. The others are silent. What are they thinking? No one can really tell. Too much is hidden in the deep recesses of their mind, most of which is known only to them. The battle with the demon king and his queen had been won, but the demons within are by far the most difficult ones to defeat.

"And yet, it has happened." They look at Hakkai, who gazes back at his house and smiles. "And I'm glad it has. I am glad to be alive."

Goku laughs and agrees, but the red-head sighs softly. Only the monk hears him, and feels a sudden surge of pity for the man who lost his brother again, this time for ever. But now he knows that acceptance is the only way to be able to continue to live.

"The sun is setting." It was not the first time they had seen it set together, nor was it the first time they had seen it rise for that matter.

"I am glad too." The monk starts and looks at Gojyo who has a serene expression on his face. The red-head feels his gaze, and turns to him. "If I had not survived, I would not have been able to watch the sun set again," he said simply. Sanzo nods slowly, and a faraway expression creeps back into his eyes. Goku looks at Sanzo, and smiles as then turns back to watch the other sun.

Thus the curtain falls on the four, watching the sun set on the horizon, knowing that their true journey into the west is still yet to come.

(Story is also posted at Shadows Cast – Lair of Shadow (URL on my biography - it won't be posted here)

Thanks for reading! any comments?