My Sun, My Supernova
End of the Road
Konzen lies utterly wasted - Spiritually, physically, and emotionally drained. The sky above him shines with a brilliance that belies the truth he has discovered, as he squints up at a sun that seems to suck all the will out of his life, and all the life from his soul.
So this is the victory that Goku had so desperately needed his help to achieve. Konzen had agreed, if only to gain initiation into Sanzo's world of pain, but what he has found instead is not the sense of belonging, not the miraculous melding into an alien world that he had been hoping for, longing for. No, all he has found is emptiness, and horror. For him, victory feels more like defeat.
Konzen Douji, the soul of an exiled god, had weilded all the Heavenly power of the Maten Scripture as no human priest ever could, and with The Great Sage Equal to Heaven fighting at his side, the battle had been won.
Now, everything is so quiet, so still. Goku sleeps deeply, still recovering after Konzen's attempt to return him to his human form. The attempt had been only half successful, for, although Goku does indeed once again wear the golden band, deliberately removed by his own hand, his ferocious features have not changed.
Goku and the demon within have finally become one.
Konzen slowly lifts his hand to shield his eyes from the sun, his other arm wrapped securely around the beloved creature resting next to him. Focusing on the beat of the heart pounding painfully in his chest, he addresses their other, invisible companion.
"Sanzo, if only… if only we could do the same. Somehow become one. But… I don't belong here, do I? I've served my purpose, fought in your place. Goku doesn't belong to me anymore."
Goku shifts at his side, snuggling closer. In his sleep, he softly murmurs a name.
Konzen swallows the rising regret.
"Sanzo... You can keep what's yours, for now. Take care of Goku, and... be happy. You don't have to hurt anymore. Please."
Curling up against the warm body next to him, Konzen closes his eyes. When next they open, it is as Sanzo, and as Sanzo they will remain.
Everything is so lucid, now. So sane it hurts. Konzen's use of the scripture has cleared his mind a little, at least temporarily, offering a respite from the ever-present, haunting shadow of madness. As he sits huddled against Goku's still sleeping form, he struggles to adjust to actually being in control of himself again for the first time in what seems like eons. And he knows with painful clarity what will come next. What must come next. It's almost enough to make him wish again for a comforting cloak of insanity to hide the truth. If only his mind weren't his own, he could run off with Goku at his side, without a care in the world, and pretend to forget about the consequences. But as it is, he cannot. There is one more mission to complete, and this time, it is for Goku and himself that he will do it.
Hakkai and Gojyo continue to trudge westward, for they know not what else to do. The road has never seemed so long or so dismal, as hour after hour, mile after mile, Hakkai grips the steering wheel in grim determination, urging Hakuryu on, and on, and on...
The dust billows in their wake, stirred up by speeding wheels. Gojyo leans back in the seat and lets the wind whip his hair into his face, his eyes straying skyward to watch the wispy clouds play among sun-washed blue. Sky-watching has become something of an obsession of late, ever since it stole two pieces of their collective soul away.
Through the furiously dancing strands of crimson, something catchesGojyo's eye. His attention focuses ruthlessly on the dazzlingly white object, not yet daring to believe it is what he thinks it might be.
A flying dragon.
His bleary eyes widen as a grin spreads across his face.
"Hakkai, Hakkai, stop! Stop the jeep! Look, look!"
As Hakkai puts on the brakes, responding to Gojyo's obvious excitement, Gojyo stands up in the jeep, waving frantically at the two riders upon the creature in the sky. Together, they jump from the vehicle, which converts to its true, living form, and watch the landing with hopeful, welcoming eyes.
Goku's coronet glitters in the sunshine, his demonic eyes flickering anxiously as one clawed hand catches at Sanzo's sleeve. Hakkai and Gojyo exchange a glance imbued with enough worry and confusion to taint their mutual relief asSanzo turns to soothe his agitated companion, speaking softly into one wickedly pointed ear and stroking wild, unruly hair. Carefully, he unhooks Goku's sharp claws from his clothing. Only when Goku visibly relaxes, does Sanzo venture to lightly descend from the dragon's back and approach the other two.
Slowly, he crosses the gap, and stops to stand in front of them. In his hands he holds two scriptures, tightly rolled. Hakkai raises a brow.
Sanzo, his cheeks sunken and his eyes shadowed under unkempt, windswept hair, has never looked so weary. Yet at the same time, he has never seemed so light, as if a great weight has finally been lifted from his shoulders.
"Mmm. It's over."
He stands for a moment, gazing into the other's eyes. The look he gives each of them is so deep and so intimate, it feels as if it reaches right into the very depths of the heart. After this strange communion ends, Sanzo closes his eyes, an aura of tranquility settling around him. When he opens them again, they spark with authority and resolve.
"Hakkai, Gojyo. Return to Chang-an. Tell the monks there that the mission was a success. Give them these, the Maten and Seiten sutras. Tell them that Genjo Sanzo did not make it through alive."
He holds out the scriptures, and when Hakkai takes them hesitantly from him, some of the darkness leaves Sanzo's eyes, as if his load has just lightened that much more.
Hakkai and Gojyo question him wordlessly with their eyes, as if afraid to ask. Up above, a cloud passes over the sun, and Sanzo sighs.
The reaction to his words is silent, as the statement hits like a bullet to the heart and then slowly bleeds into truth.
"Goku and I… we're leaving together. He's... changed."
Hakkai and Gojyo look back at the dragon, towards Goku, and Sanzo suddenly tenses.
"No, don't look at him. Don't make eye contact. He may take it as a threat, or a challenge."
Sanzo is on edge and distracted now, as the air of tranquility from a moment ago rapidly dissipates into static uncertainty. Finally, Hakkai finds his voice, speaking calmly so as to give Sanzo something reassuring to focus on.
"Sanzo, what happened to Goku?"
Sanzo turns to him as if startled by the question, but is quick to reply.
"The limiter. It's... it's no longer strong enough. But... he can't stay like this, there's no place in this world for a monster like him. I have to take him somewhere safe."
Sanzo's composure trembles a little further, and he reaches to tug fretfully at his hair, ducking his head to hide the instability expressed all too clearly in his eyes.
This sad, unhealthy gesture pulls at Gojyo's heart, and when he finally manages to speak, his voice trembles with emotion..
"What d'you mean… you're dying?"
Slowly, Sanzo raises his head, folding his arms tightly around himself as if to hold himself together and prevent any more lapses of control.
"Something happened... when Hakkai brought me back to life. It's killing me. It won't be long, but I'm going to use the time I have left… to learn how to live. All Goku and I need now is each other."
A moment of silence passes, cold and desolate. Sanzo shrugs, and looks away into the distance. Casually, as if he hasn't just told them that thesun is going to fade away forever and cast the world into eternal darkness, he speaks, and it is the Sanzo of old, the Sanzo before the madness, that Hakkai and Gojyo hear in his voice.
"I'd like to enjoyone last cigarette. It's a pity, but I might consider suffering through one of Gojyo's shitty smokes, just this once."
Pointedly, he looks Gojyo in the eye.Crimson eyes flash back in mock annoyance as the half-breed digs into his pocket for his cigarettes and lighter.
Sanzo turns up his nose at the comment.
"That's 'former monk' to you, water sprite."
"Yeah, yeah, whatever."
As Gojyo offers him the pack, Sanzo just stares, momentarily caught by surprise. In Gojyo's hand is not what he was expecting, but rather the red and white packaging ofhis own preferred brand.
"Yeah, well, you never know how much you're gonna miss something... until it's gone."
A couple of heartbeats pass. Then, Sanzo smiles, before quickly placing a cigarette between his lips. The smile proves contagious as Gojyo reaches to light Sanzo's cigarette. Hakkai does not remain immune. A puff of smoke fills the space between the three, and when it clears, so too have the smiles faded.
One more deep, lingering lungful, and Sanzo flicks the cigarette to the ground. Behind them, Goku shifts position where he waits, watching intently. Sanzo catches his breath, suddenly feeling awkward as the warm, sad gazes of his two friends burn into his heart.
"I have to go."
As he's about to turn, Gojyo suddenly throws the rules out the window, reacting on a sudden impulse.
"Oh, what the hell, who says grown men can't share a hug."
So saying, he gathers the other two into a group embrace, swallowing Sanzo up between Hakkai and himself. Hakkai laughs a little, allowing his own arms to participate in the unexpected activity. Sanzo stiffens, uncertain and uncomfortable with the unfamiliar closeness. He closes his eyes, and as he does so, his feels it. The connection. Slowly, he lifts his arms, almost uncontrollably, and lets them cling, trembling, to the other two.
This connection is a bond that goes beyond life, beyond death. A bond that he knows will soon be severed forever.
He loses himself in this last embrace, this last, desperate thread binding the three of them together, and he has never felt so warm. So loved. The only other time he has ever felt this depth of warmth, is with…
At the sound of Goku's voice, agitated, urgent, impatient, Sanzo opens his eyes and breaks away from the others. Reluctantly, they let him go.
Gojyo's eyes are moist with unshed tears.
"Hurry up and get outta here, then. Go take care of that monkey of yours."
Hakkai, with Gojyo's arm still wrapped around him, smiles a smile that is real, genuine and entirely heartfelt.
"Take care of yourself as well, Sanzo, and please remember what you said, about learning to live. It's not too late."
Without another word, Sanzo turns, and soon, he and Goku are lost in the open sky.
Sanzo and Goku, as damaged and as changed as they are, make the absolute most of the time they have left together. Goku is content at last to finally have Sanzo all to himself, and Sanzo no longer feels the need to deny himself a chance at happiness. Together, they go into retreat, secluding themselves away from the world, and each gives to the other all that they can, and in return receives so much more.
Sanzo's physical condition worsens gradually, as Konzen's presence wears on him. As his heart weakens and the bleeding increases, soon, there is no putting off the inevitable.
Deep in the night, Sanzo escorts a sleepy Goku to their final destination. This is the most difficult thing Sanzo has ever had to do, and a decision that tore him apart in the making, but he simply does not have the inner strength left to do the alternative. Perhaps it's selfish, perhaps it's cruel, but if a bullet is truly a gift, then it is a gift he no longer wants to give.
With the limiter ineffective, the only thing strong enough to contain Goku's power now, is the cave. Perhaps one day, Goku will be ready to emerge. Perhaps one day… a new sun will rise. Perhaps one day...
But Sanzo is dying, and he knows, that if Goku experiences his death, all hell will break loose. Goku will be swallowed up by the monster within.
Gently, he releases Goku's hand, and instantly, the chains and shackles form around his ankles and wrists, to reclaim their former prisoner as their own. Before Sanzo has a chance to see those beautiful golden eyes fully awaken to their fate, he turns his back and simply walks away.
Alone now on the mountain, Sanzo takes his last breath. Konzen, silently screaming in terror, is ripped back to his rightful place, and so the cycle of time and events is destined to repeat.
Free at last, free of everything, Sanzo's tortured soul begins to disintegrate into sweet oblivion.
Caged on top of the mountain, abandoned and bereft, Goku screams.
The sound is carried on the wind, but it does not reach the ears of the man lying so very still upon the hard rock. The breeze touches his soft blond hair, letting it play gently across his face. His eyes, once vibrant and intense, are now dull and glazed, forever closed, and will not greet the sun that will soon rise to shine down upon his cold body.
For Genjo Sanzo is dead.