Will to Live
By Alecto Perdita
Rating: G
Warning(s): References heavily to chapter 3.5 "Three years ago" in RELOAD volume 1 and "Sanzo's Story" in the "Burial" arc in RELOAD volume 3
Posted: July 2, 2005 on LJ
Email: alecto . perdita (at) gmail . com

Disclaimer: Saiyuki is the intellectual property of Kazuya Minekura, and is being used in this fanfiction for fan purposes only. All situations, opinions and characters not belonging to Kazuya Minekura are the intellectual property of Alecto.


The sound of a child's laughter flows lazily through the open window of Sanzo's study. It moves through the air with a languid attitude more befitting of a humid summer afternoon than a freezing winter morning. Another chilling wind steals into the office and Sanzo finds himself unwillingly shivering. A stack of paperwork is sitting on the desk before him and he is more than convinced he has seen enough of it to last several lifetimes.

Looking over to his opened window again, he sees flakes of snow had fallen in when it was still snowing lightly minutes ago and the floor under the window is quickly becoming wet. He pushes back his chair in disgust, the legs scraping against the hardwood floor, stands, and moves to close the window. Just as he rests his hand against the frame of the window, a bundle of brown tumbles out of the barren tree just a few yards away.

Goku sits up and shakes his head in a way that reminds Sanzo of a wet dog. Bits of snow come flying off of Goku's head with surprising speed that makes a loud thunk if it happens to hit the trunk of the tree. He watches as the tail of Goku's long hair also hits the trunk with enough force to loosen more snow from the bare branches above. He smirks as the boy squawks and jumps away to avoid a particularly big pile that fell from the sky.

It was hard to believe that Goku had been afraid of the mere sight of snow until just a few weeks ago.

Goku catches Sanzo's gaze and breaks out into a wide grin that beams from even yards away. The boy's hand shoots up in the air and waves frantically in greeting. Sanzo moves his hand from the windowsill, almost in the sort of movement preemptive to waving. Ignoring the irritating way he can see Goku's smile widening, he reaches into his sleeve instead and withdraws his carton of cigarettes and his lighter.

Goku's shoulders slump for a brief second after he realizes Sanzo has no intention of acknowledging him. It's only for a very brief second. After Sanzo blinks, Goku has already moved onto his next snow-time activity- making snow angels.

There is something about the biting contrast between his cigarettes and the freezing cold that never fails to remind Sanzo he is still alive. So he lights the cigarette jammed between his thin lips, pointedly ignoring the cold and the damp seeping through the thin sole of his sandals and into his socks. He continues to watch as Goku, already done with his snow angel, incite a few passing monks with snowballs to chase him, tracking more footprints across the white plain of the courtyard.

The sound of Goku's laughter is joined by the annoyed shouts of a few monks. Sanzo should find the sound more grating than it actually isn't. Some of the threats the monks are screaming aren't the type of things one expects to hear from the mouths of Buddhist monks. Sanzo concludes that it is a testament of either Goku's aggravating existence or his own corruptive influence.

And as he watches Goku play in the snow, it occurs to him that the little brat lived by nothing more than sheer force of will. Just as the earth revolves around the sun by none other than a bit of universal willpower called gravity, Goku propels himself through life with nothing more than will.

It isn't intelligence. Sanzo usually attributes any unexpected but relevant insights to an animalistic instinct, rather than to any human cognitive processes. Goku is simply the type of creature that defies normal human/youkai logic.

The monkey certainly has no talent or skills to speak of. Being able to inhale a plate of oversized meat buns in under half a second doesn't count.

It certainly isn't luck. Had it been luck, Goku wouldn't have been born with the thankless burden of heretical gold eyes. Sanzo isn't stupid. He has known the significance of Goku's eye color from the first moment he laid eyes on the boy in that cavern prison.

And karma? If Goku's living conditions before Sanzo "rescued" him are any indication, the boy's karma must be a hopelessly tangled and knotted mess. But does Goku even have karma? The Seiten Taisei Son Goku, one who's power is equal to that of Heaven's, born of the earth and a symbol of chaos. Does such a creature need something as seemingly insignificant as karma in comparison?

Sanzo hadn't realized how long he had been smoking that cigarette until the diminished end singes his upper lip. He hisses in pain, lips loosen and the butt falls from his mouth into the snow outside the window. In the time his mind had drifted off, Goku and the monks had each lost interest in the other party. The monks had retreated back into the temple (Sanzo had no sympathy for the amateurs if they couldn't contain someone as simple-minded as the monkey boy) and the brat seemed to have set his mind on Sanzo being his next target.

The brat leans against the windowsill- too close for comfort. Sanzo takes a step back and plants a hand on the sill, just next to Goku's, when he nearly slips in the puddle on the floor of his study.

He curses under his breath.

Completely oblivious to Sanzo's plight, Goku rocks back and forth on the ball of his feet and the words fall from his mouth like a barrage. "It's so pretty, Sanzo. Why are you still inside on a day like this? Is Hakkai coming over later? Ne, ne, Sanzo, can we have sukiyaki tonight?"

"Che," Sanzo turns his head away to glare resentfully at the pile of papers still on his desk. "You've asked the same thing everyday for the last week and has the answer ever been anything but no?"

"But Sanzo…" The little monkey brat with a little too much will to live leans in closer and whines.

"No."

Upon a second closer examination, Sanzo realizes that Goku is soaked. He sneers. What else would the monkey be other than soaked after practically swimming through the snow? The brat hadn't even dressed appropriately before going out to play in the snow.

"Please!"

Sanzo's hand moves with the speed of a striking snake and he cuffs the boy on the side of his head. He allows his hand to run quickly through Goku's hair when he draws back his hand and Goku sinks to the ground, covering his head. Sanzo's fingers come away wet and cold.

"I'm not going to say it again, stupid monkey. I see enough of those two idiots already, without having to eat dinner with them every other night too." Sanzo wipes his hand against his robe before drawing another cigarette from his carton. Casting another disdainful glance down at Goku, Sanzo orders him to come back inside.

"I'm not taking care of you if you get sick." He mutters to no one in particular.

Goku nods sullenly and starts to climb in through Sanzo's window. Sanzo plants a hand on Goku's chest after he manages to get one foot up on the sill. Sanzo notes to himself how damp the shirt his hand is lying against is. The boy looks up with wide-eyed surprise. Sanzo pushes and sends Goku crashing backwards into the snow.

"Sanzo, you droopy-eyed jerk!" Goku exclaims when he stands up and rubs his sore bottom.

"Che, use the door like a normal person." Sanzo cross his arms over his chest.

Goku glares at him with luminous golden eyes and pouts. Had Sanzo been anyone but himself, Goku's expression might have drawn more a more receptive reply than the bored expression playing across Sanzo's face. The boy sticks his tongue at Sanzo, before turning and dashing toward the entrance on an adjacent side of the temple. The corner of Sanzo's right (and admittedly, droopy) eye twitches in barely suppressed anger.

As he lights only his second cigarette in the last ten minutes or so, his gaze follows the trail of Goku's footprints that lead out of sight. Surprisingly, they aren't the paw prints of a monkey. He stands at the window, in the puddle that is slowly freezing over, for a few more moments and cannot help but reflect on the monotonous passing of the days. Why had he asked the Three Aspects to take over the duties of this temple?

He takes one look at cigarette dangling between his fingers and remembers exactly why.

I will live. I will live your share of lives too.

He stubs the cigarette against the window sill, ignoring the way the ash smears and stains against the cherry red wood. He doesn't feel like smoking at the moment. He steps back and closes the window shutters.

Sanzo can hear Goku's footsteps pounding down the hallway toward his door. He can also hear the footsteps and nagging of the monks close at Goku's heel. The door bursts open and Goku barrels into the room and into Sanzo with the force of the wet cannonball. Sanzo considers himself lucky to be still standing on two feet. The contingent of irritating monks follows.

"Sanzo, make them leave me alone!"

"Sanzo-sama, please tell your pet not to track water all over the temple floors."

"I'm not a pet!"

"Sanzo-sama!"

Gritting his teeth and dismissing the grubby hands tugging at his robes, Toa's 31st Genjo Sanzo Houshi begins an impossible battle against the combining onslaught of a migraine, Son Goku, and the troublesome monks of Keiun Temple.

Sometimes he will ask himself why in these moments that are unfortunately too common in his day-to-day life. But he knows exactly why.

Because he is no different than Goku.

The End