: Perception :
Disclaimer: I do not own Saiyuki. All rights go to Minekura Kazuya. No profit is being made of this.
Warnings: shounen ai, language, mild spoilers
Notes: I'm not sure where this came from, other than the vivid imagery I had of these two in the rain. Huh. I am glad, though; I haven't written anything 393-related in a while. At least, not at FFN. Strange, that...
Constructive criticism and feedback is appreciated.
A man is prone to have many reasons for liking that which he does, and that which he does not. Though it was up to debate amongst other monks back at the monastery – and, he is sure, within the tight circle of so-called "companions" he with whom he currently traveled – Genjo Sanzo is just as human as anyone else; as normal a man as any other. He dislikes noise, because it rattles his composure (though he will not admit it). He hates whoever gets in the way of his goals, whether it is traveling to India to stop a particular resurrection, or down the street to buy a pack of cigarettes. This is because he prefers to go in straight and with as little commotion as possible; do what he has to do, and then leave.
And he loathes the rain because it brings an onslaught of memories he would rather not think about.
He is not blind to the adversity of character. Pain builds a person, can either make or break them. Sanzo has merely been loaded with thrice the pain of most people. Miraculously – or perhaps simply due to who raised him – he has yet to break. He has buckled under the weight, oftentimes certain he is about to shatter. But somehow, in some way, that oppressive burden is always alleviated for a short time. And he can breathe again.
Even so, he knows it is a burden he would rather do without. Though he outwardly scoffs those who refuse to see the harshness life has to offer, he secretly realized that he is also jealous of these blind fools. He knows he would have been happier growing up with that sightlessness, if only he could have remained with the person most important to him.
Perhaps there is a world in which he has lived such a life. If he has, Sanzo does not want to know about it. If he is happier elsewhere, he wants nothing to do with it—for knowing would only make him wish he could have that life. He cannot. He must learn to live with that simple, crushing fact.
He stands at the window of the dusty inn, finding himself more irritated than usual with his surroundings. A thin layer of grime seems to cover every surface in the building, making it impossible for him to move without smudging dirt on his robes. Once removing his robes, he had only found that dust smearing his skin. That was only worse, because then he had to feel the grit on his flesh. Washing his hands will do him little good, as even the sink is not free of stain.
The window he stands at is scratched and smudged, as though children had spent many days grinding small rocks against the glass surface. Slimy prints are still visible, none of them bigger than the pad of Sanzo's index finger. And it annoys him.
The lighting is too dim in his room. But unlike his surroundings, there is nothing the town can do about it. With famine sweeping the grounds the closer they drew to India, lack of money meant lack of supplies, which eventually touched upon the need for electricity. They had to make do with candles, and not even a high priest such as he could get more than rationed. (Though in reality, Sanzo is grimly happy about this. He does not like receiving treatment that makes others worship him in some sick form of idolatry. They will never understand; he does not want them to, anyway.)
He has not yet lain in bed, but he knows it will be far from comfortable. With the filth of the rest of the room, hidden only due to the bad lighting, he doubts the sheets have been changed recently. Indeed, if he steps close enough, he can faintly smell mildew. He almost believes rest would come better outside, in the rain.
Movement from the corner of his eye causes him to tense reflexively. The cigarette he has been smoking – nearly the last of his pack; and it had been full upon entering the room – almost falls from his lips. He catches it between middle and forefinger just in time, his free hand resting on the butt of his gun. Dimly, he congratulates himself on the forethought, long ago, that he will be better off ambidextrous. He had practiced so often after the death of his master that he could no longer remember if he had previously been right or left-handed.
He focuses on the movement, and feels his lips curl in disgust. It is no threat; not even anyone of importance. Just the familiar, stupid monkey, walking out from the cover of the inn and into the rain. He is wearing nothing but the shorts and shirt he dons for bed, and soon they are drenched.
Sanzo pauses, considers the situation, and nearly slaps his palm to his forehead a moment later. A low growl slips from beneath his breath. Before he consciously registers his own motions, he is turning from the window and striding to the door. The knob has little dust on it; possibly due to being touched to open and close the room. Soon he has found the front door.
Trepidation fills him. He curses it and pushes open the obstruction, stepping out into the dark.
Clouds of varying shades between dark gray and black roll above his head. He flinches as the stinging cold of the rain sluices his skin, plastering his hair to his skull. The jeans and top he has left on are now clinging to his flesh as though determined to melt into him; become a part of him. He is repulsed and angry, and he wants to kill Goku.
He finds the boy at the side of the building, but what he discovers comes as a nasty shock. Son Goku stands before him, his head cocked to the side as water drips from his face; as though he had been expecting Sanzo to come. His normally wide eyes are slightly narrowed in a look of intense concentration, as though he believes if he studies his master long enough, he will come to understand him inside and out.
Sanzo lets the implications sink in, and then his eyes narrow in return; only his expression is one of smoldering anger. His charge is very well aware of his contempt for the rain, yet Sanzo feels as though he has been lured out. Almost... seduced.
Though the rain is loud, the silence between them is enough to hurt his ears. Sanzo breaks the quiet with a few simple words.
"What the hell are you doing?"
Goku replies with a twitch of his lips. It is almost as though he is toying with the man, and that idea only makes Sanzo want to embed a bullet in the boy's brain. Perhaps, he thought savagely, that would at the very least banish Goku's notion that he was doing something clever.
Coldly, he continues. "You're going to get sick out here, idiot."
Goku's voice is barely audible over the rain. "You were sick inside."
The depth of his statement is enough to make Sanzo blink twice. At first he wonders if the idiot means he was somehow ill inside his own room—or, he contemplates with a frown, if he was sick emotionally.
Had Goku been a more consistently profound person, Sanzo would have unnervingly wondered if his charge had meant it both ways. But he refuses to believe such a ridiculous notion.
"Do you want to catch your death, monkey?" he returns, adding an edge to his voice so the suggestion is more of a threat. There is no way Goku can miss it, for while the boy is oblivious at times, he has become very adept at understanding his master. He does not catch all the hints, as Hakkai does, but when it comes to touching his soul, there is none better than Goku.
Sanzo ends that train of thought. He does not want to consider it again.
He watches as Goku edges closer to him, his steps slick in the wet ground. Sanzo lowers his eyes, scowling to see his charge is barefoot and muddy from knees to toes. He will track even more grime inside, and Sanzo does not want to deal with a cranky innkeeper, who will more than likely try to make Sanzo put his gold card to use and pay for the "damage" caused to the rotting floorboards. And, thinks the priest scathingly, he will try to pad the bill on top of everything.
Goku's mouth is partially open, his eyes illuminated despite the lack of light. Sanzo can barely see him but for faint candlelight from the room to his and Goku's side. And, as always, golden eyes catch the glow most; glinting almost mischievously.
The brunette says simply, "I wanted to catch you."
And caught he was. Sanzo grimaces in distaste at the thought, parting his lips ever so slightly. The rain is falling harder, beginning to sting his eyes. He wants out of the torrent, to find a dry place and simply rest. In the morning they will be gone, and the discomforts of this town will be nothing but a memory.
But he cannot take a single step back to the inn; not with Goku reaching out to him as though mesmerized. Sanzo does move, but in the wrong direction, away from the building. It is reflexive more than anything else. Goku seems to realize it, for his mouth thins in determination. This time he is swift, moving forward and wrapping his lanky arms around Sanzo's waist. His grip is tight, constricting Sanzo's breath a fraction.
Sanzo finally realizes that he will not be permitted to leave. Angry, he begins to struggle; at first wordlessly, then loudly as curses spill from his mouth. He damns Goku, damns his logic and lack thereof, his so-called "brilliant" ideas, his inability to think ahead and consider the consequences. He damns him to hell for acting so cocky, for failing to remember his place and role.
He would have continued the verbal assault had Goku not grown tired of hearing him. Instead, his charge finds a way he seemed to find more likeable. He reaches up with one hand, tangles his fingers in the priest's slick hair, and pulls him down for a kiss.
Sanzo's protests don't die, but they are quieted significantly at the touch. An ache begins to press against the walls of his chest, unsettling his insides until they squirm in a feeling that isn't quite nausea, but close. The kiss is just pressure, nothing deep and nothing meaningful. Yet even as he tells himself this, Sanzo finds that if he grips Goku's shoulders and draws him closer, if he tilts his head so Goku's is tilted back at an almost impossible angle, he can block the rain from their kiss. The arm squeezing his waist has moved, now joining his other to wrap around his neck and pull him down more fiercely. It has to be frustrating, being Goku's height, and Sanzo almost smirks at the thought.
As though sensing it, Goku breaks the contact and shoots him a frustrated look. Sanzo waits, believing his charge is about to speak, to shatter the moment so they can go back inside and forget the incident had ever taken place. It would have been so simple, losing a meaningless moment to the deep rivers of time.
Instead, Goku urges him down again, more gently. Sanzo doesn't even think to resist, and then there is warmth again; Goku's breath washing over his lips before another kiss is initiated. Sanzo's fingers tighten against the boy's shoulder, but he thinks better of it and lowers his hold until he can press against Goku's back. They can hardly be brought closer, but that doesn't stop either from trying.
And try they do. Sanzo knows he should not be surprised at Goku's excitement—he even had the feeling his charge was somewhat experienced in the motions, though he knows he is better off not thinking about who Goku had been with before. There is only now, and right now Goku, in an amazingly sensual display that makes heat flare in Sanzo's body, is slipping the tip of his tongue out between his lips. The slick warmth is hot compared to the stinging rain. Sanzo focuses on that heat, almost able to imagine drawing it into his body. Then Goku's tongue is between his lips, brushing against his teeth, and Sanzo is lost.
There is nothing but the contrast between outer cold and inner heat.
He doesn't remember time exists until they are forced to part. In the cold air, their breath is warm, forming thin clouds as they struggle to catch their breath. He is somehow entangled in Goku's arms, and the strong fingers digging into his back are possessive. He realizes he still will not escape anytime soon—but this time does not protest. He cannot, even if he wanted to, because he has not enough air to say more than a word without feeling winded.
He feels a kind of tremor between them. In his daze, it takes him a few moments too long to realize the nonphysical sensation. Suddenly he is afraid to look Goku in the eye. Suddenly, he is weak.
Sanzo curses himself in such a state.
Wet lips made cool by the rain press against his jaw. He shivers, even tenses in a manner that makes his arms taut and draws his charge closer—but he says nothing, does not look at Goku.
He is forced to give Goku more credit for his perception than he has before, because the boy seems to understand. He trails his mouth down the line of Sanzo's jaw, pressing a kiss to his chin. Without using words, speaking in a voice only Sanzo could hear even if the voice was screaming, Goku says:
"I don't care what I have to do, or how long it takes. I'll make the pain go away. Just watch me, Sanzo. I'm not a kid anymore, and I'm going to make you see that. If shouldering your burdens is the only way to do it, then that's what I'll do."
Sanzo can think of nothing to say. At least, nothing that sounds pathetic and weak. Instead, his lips thin and he allows himself to go limp in Goku's hold; not lax, to give his charge the idea he's comfortable, but lifeless.
As he expects, Goku is alarmed by the reaction. He immediately loosens his hold, and Sanzo uses that to his advantage. He shoves the boy away from him; glaring without anger, hating without feeling, and just wishing Goku wasn't looking at him like that.
A touch makes him tense again, but this time it is just Goku's hand on his arm. Reluctant, blinking back water dripping into his eyes, Sanzo finally looks him in the eye. Once he does so, he knows he cannot focus on a point just past Goku's head, or anywhere else—as he is so used to doing. Because looking into the eyes of his charge was facing the truth, and the truth hurts with a pain even the rain doesn't bring.
Goku is smiling; a strangely gentle expression that makes Sanzo both uneasy and strangely calm. Then he realizes it is because he is so unused to seeing such maturity in the boy's eyes—understanding. Goku understands; quite possibly for the first time since they had met so many years ago.
And to Sanzo's utter surprise, he does nothing. Goku simply lets his arm drop back to his side, turns, and vanishes into the inn Sanzo had forgotten the existence off. He doesn't realize he's holding his breath until his chest aches; then he exhales loudly, his breath a brief, thick fog before dissipating. He is tired, he hurts, he's exhausted—and now frozen to the marrow. And it's all Goku's fault.
It is always Goku's fault. Sanzo knows he must live with that. He walks stiffly, shivering from the rain drenching his clothes and hair. He will need a towel, possibly a hot drink, before he seeks the comfort and solace of a dirt-filmed bed. Because it is Goku's fault for being too understanding, and for now, he must sleep alone.