Title: Monkey on My Back
Author: Tirya King
Timeframe: Kouryu is 9 years old (Kawaii!)
Summary: Not yaoi A child runs away leaving his poor Master to follow. Can Koumyou find his young charge before it's too late?
Disclaimer: Nope not mine. Minekura-sensei's.
A/N: What? It's not about Goku and Sanzo? Who am I and what have I done to Ti? Lol, I love the relationship we got to see, brief though it was, between little Kouryu and Koumyou Sanzo. I just had to write a little bit about it. This will be a two-shot as it was a bit too long to be a one-shot.
Monkey on My Back
Part One: Qu Chu
Summer was ending soon. Leaves beginning to dry out rustled noisily against each other in the wind. Already the sun set earlier in the evening, and the air blew cooler across young cheeks. But if the chilly air ever bothered the little Porter, he gave no indication.
Kouryu clutched the heavy water pot tighter as he passed a classroom. Pausing at the doorway, the 9 year old boy watched as his Master lectured to the enraptured audience. Even Acolytes younger than he sat perfectly still as they listened to the low gentle words of their local Sanzo priest. Students from the age of 5 to 15 sat there together, drinking up the wise words of their teacher.
He would have loved to go in as well and listen to his Master's words, if only to hear his soothing voice. Perhaps he might have been able to were he not so much trouble. The monks had deemed him unworthy when he was 5 because he constantly got into fights with other students, one in particular. A foul little Disciple by the name of Yuezi, Moon Child. Kouryu had been made a Porter, but Yuezi had not. The monks had only been looking for an excuse to clean their hands of the troublesome orphan. It was no secret that Kouryu was not a favorite of the temple. At least Yuezi showed promise.
Even now that horrible boy sat on his knees, toes tucked underneath properly as he listened to his Master Sanzo. A hopeful expression lit his unpleasant face, the same hope that filled every Acolyte's heart. Hope that they would be chosen by the great Koumyou Sanzo to be his Disciple. His successor. There was no greater honor to be bestowed upon a follower of the Buddhist path.
Kouryu turned from the room to continue with his chores, the water pot held to his chest like a shield. Shuei-sensei would be wondering where he was by now. The kind Charms Master was teaching some of the more advanced students at Kinzan Temple and needed water for a particular spell.
Well, it wasn't like he wanted to be an Acolyte anyway. Listening to sermons all day would be terribly boring, and he had a deep hatred of boredom. To be chosen as a Sanzo only to give lectures the rest of his life held no appeal to him. He was not priest material. He knew this as did everyone else in the temple.
"Ah, thank you, Kouryu," Shuei smiled as he took the fetched water pot. He didn't comment on his tardiness, but winked and returned to his lessons. Kouryu stood in the back of the room in case he was needed for anything else. Normally on days such as this, he would be absorbing whatever lesson he was serving for at the time. Learning right alongside the real students, and usually taking in more than they.
But not today. Today he was just as preoccupied with the next generation Sanzo as any of the Acolytes. So far Koumyou hadn't even hinted at a possible successor yet, but the monks were pressuring him to pick one soon. If anything happened to their beloved Sanzo, they needed someone to fall back on. Because the heavens forbid those old monks think for themselves.
The young boy dreaded the day his Master chose his successor for that would be the day he was finally pushed to the wayside. Raised by the kind Sanzo since he was plucked from the river, Kouryu had always lived in the little room reserved for the chosen Disciple. But when the Disciple moved in to his rightful room, Kouryu would have to move out. And Buddha forbid it be Yuezi or any of his playmates. To be replaced by someone so vile made him sick. It was bad enough he had to give the room up at all.
The older monks hated the golden-haired orphan; found him unworthy of being even their Sanzo's servant. Would they force him to leave the temple? Would Koumyou allow it now that he was too busy for little Porters? If he lost his Master, he would be losing everything. A shiver ran up his spine at the thought, and he had to move on to much more pleasant ones to pass his day.
That afternoon, as he swept the courtyard for his final chore of the day, Kouryu struggled to fight back the dread he'd felt earlier during Shuei's lessons. It was a silly baseless fear. His Master wouldn't forget him just because he'd chosen a Disciple. He hadn't dismissed him when the monks asked it of him and he wouldn't dismiss him when he chose his successor. Yet it was a fear that refused to die despite the logic he fought it with.
He finished just as the sun began to set and the air turned even colder. Koumyou would be by any minute now to collect him for evening meal. This was their special time, when both were free of their duties and could speak with one another. Not as Sanzo to Porter, but as teacher to student, as father to son. Then they would dine, meditate together, and retire for the night. It was a tradition nearly as old as Kouryu himself.
But until that time came, the child was content to watch the sun set as he leaned on the old broom. The last golden rays reflected in his own sun-colored hair and in his amethyst eyes, aged beyond his nine years of life. He watched as the large orb finally disappeared beneath the horizon and the stars emerged in the darkening sky.
And still his Master did not come.
Kouryu stood alone in the dark for a moment, unsure of what to do. He didn't want to leave and miss his Master if he was only running late. But Koumyou Sanzo was never late. He always came. Even the few times he was sick he came.
"Hey River Rat," a voice shouted from the direction of the Acolyte's rooms. A tall bald boy approached Kouryu, a sneer on his lips. The Porter's violet eyes narrowed and he gripped his broom tighter.
"Yuezi," Kouryu hissed right back. What did that miserable worm want?
"It's after meditation hour. I'm going to tell Master Baitu that you're still outside. You'll be in trouble."
After meditation hour already? Then that means he also missed dinner. The young boy hadn't realized he'd been outside for so long. It was against the rules of the temple for non-monks to be out of doors after dinnertime. If anyone found out he'd be in real trouble. Well, it seemed it was inevitable at this point. But if he was going down, he wasn't going to go down alone.
"Get lost, Yuezi. I don't care about your stupid threats," he growled as he lifted his broom. How he would love to shove it down the terror's throat.
"He's not coming, you know," Yuezi continued, not caring that he was angering his rival. He walked a bit closer, his stride easy and light. The rising moon cast shadows across the boy's face and reflected off that perfectly shaved head. "And you know why?"
Kouryu didn't say anything, only narrowing his amethyst eyes. Yuezi had no business knowing that the Sanzo met with his young charge every day. It was their special time where the rest of the temple didn't exist and they could be as they always were. How dare that stupid Acolyte try to ruin it. The wood of the old broom creaked under his tight grip.
The Acolyte waved a dismissive hand as though to sweep away rubbish. His whole body was relaxed of any tension, as though he didn't consider the furious boy before him a threat. "It's because he's going to pick a successor soon. He doesn't need the stupid little river rat anymore."
That was it.
"Take that back!" Kouryu charged before he knew what he was doing, catching the grinning boy off-guard. He swung it hard, catching Yuezi in the jaw with the bristles of the broom and sending him reeling to the ground. Neither boy had ever been trained to fight having both been raised in the temple all their lives. Yet the years of hard labor had made Kouryu strong, much stronger than the monk-in-training.
Yuezi was not so easily intimidated by the demon-eyed stray. He leaped back, ignoring a blow to the stomach and knocking the boy to the ground. He had had enough of the arrogant Porter who thought he was good enough to serve their Master. This was no place for him and Yuezi would be the one to teach him that!
Using the broom pinned at his chest, Kouryu threw Yuezi off, switching their positions. Now he knelt on his stomach, laying into him with all he had. All the anger and rejection he'd felt building up came out in one large wave. Every pain he'd ever had he wanted to inflict on Yuezi and those other monks who thought they were better than he.
"Kouryu! Yuezi! Stop it at once!"
The sound of old Baitu shouting out quickly brought both boys to reality with a sickening swiftness. The magnitude of what he'd done froze the Porter where he was as nearly a dozen teachers and curious students pored out of the buildings. He sat up and slowly got off the wailing Yuezi who scrambled to his feet the moment he was free.
"Master Baitu!" the foul boy cried, holding his bleeding nose as he limped his way to the elderly monk. "Master Baitu, Kouryu attacked me!"
"Is this true?" the monk asked of the Porter. His sharp grey eyes stared into Kouryu's violet ones.
Rising to his feet, eyes wide in alarm, the young boy shook his head. "He provoked me," he defended himself.
"I have no doubt of that," Baitu sent a glare to the suddenly contrite Yuezi. "But did you strike first?" He was fair and would not allow the young Acolyte to escape punishment. But he would also not show any leniency to a Porter who had done nothing but cause trouble in this temple since he could walk. He'd tried all he could to teach Kouryu to follow the Buddhist way of life, to lose his pride and violent tendencies. But no matter what he nor anyone else did, it seemed that there was no teaching this angry young orphan.
Kouryu knew he could not lie; his Master taught him better than that. Do what you will, regret it if you must, but do not lie. The old monk would know if he tried anyway. "Yes," he lifted his chin higher as he glared at Yuezi who narrowed his own eyes in return. This had not been settled between them. Not by a long shot.
As much as he would like to inflict some sort of lasting punishment upon the boy, Baitu knew that Kouryu was out of his jurisdiction. "Return to your quarters and inform Master Sanzo of this incident. He will determine your punishment. Yuezi, come with me." He stared around at the other students who had come to see the spectacle. "The rest of you, go back to your rooms. There is nothing to see here."
He would have preferred any punishment the monks could offer. Suffer any humiliation. Anything but face his Master and tell him how he had once again failed him as his student and his charge. Everything Kouryu did reflected on his upbringing by his Master, and fighting with old rivals did nothing to honor that. He feared no penalty. But he feared disappointing Koumyou more than anything. Yet he couldn't disobey a direct order, even he knew when not to press his luck. He bowed to Baitu, picked up his now useless broom, and walked to the Sanzo's private rooms, head bowed and feet dragging. What would his Master say when his little Porter came in looking as beat up as he did? His only consolation, such that it was, was that Yuezi was in even worse shape than he, and would be feeling the effects of it for quite some time.
To his surprise and growing dread, Koumyou Sanzo said nothing at first. He'd been kneeling in the middle of meditation when Kouryu trudged in. Looking at the contrite boy for a moment, the Sanzo priest went to one of his drawers and took out some bandages. Ever since Kouryu was a boy and continuously got into fights, Koumyou always kept proper supplies to heal the child. But both Porter and priest had been hoping those days were over and there would be no further need for bandages.
Sitting cross-legged on his own mat, Kouryu remained silent as he stared at the ground. He couldn't look at his disappointed Master just yet.
"This is my fault, I apologize," Koumyou Sanzo finally murmured gently as he dabbed at a bleeding cut above the child's brow.
Startled lavender eyes finally stared into gentle brown. "But Master, I was the one who got into the fight with Yuezi. I threw the first punch; it was my fault."
"That may be, but I am the one responsible for you and your actions. I should have done a better job at teaching you. You and Yuezi are rivals, and I should have seen that you would have unfinished business to settle. I am sorry, Kouryu, and I ask for your forgiveness." The priest's mahogany eyes looked regretfully at his charge.
Wonderful, now the boy felt even worse.
"I… I can't, Master," he shook his head stiffly, still in pain. "Yuezi just… said some things to me and I got mad. I'm sorry, Master…"
"You cannot attack someone because they say things to anger you. I thought you knew this."
"I do, Master, but…"
"Kouryu," Koumyou held up a hand, silencing his defense. "Please. Just… go to bed. We will discuss this in the morning. I will decide what to do then."
"Yes, Sanzo-sama," the young boy bowed his golden head and retreated to his small room on the side. Through the thin walls he heard his Master prepare for bed as well.
Try as he might, Kouryu could not sleep. He kept hearing Yuezi's cruel taunts in his mind, and his imagination likewise tormented him. The little Porter couldn't help but wonder what his Master would do to him.
No matter how hard he tried to convince himself otherwise, there was no other conclusion to draw. He'd disappointed his Master greatly tonight, perhaps more than ever before. Everyone was only worth so much trouble and he'd just reached his limit. Koumyou was going to turn him away. He was going to choose a proper Disciple to take his place.
He didn't think he could bear to hear his Master dismiss him after all these years. The only thing left for Kouryu to do was leave on his own. As a Porter at a Buddhist temple, there was very little Kouryu could call his own. Just the blanket he was covered with when Koumyou found him in the river, a few sets of clothes, and his beaded necklace. The clothes and necklace were small to wrap in a bundle with his blanket, so at least he would be traveling light.
The sun was just beginning to rise when he made his escape. The others would be up soon, but he knew he couldn't risk leaving at night. There were too many bandits and criminals out. What he would do that evening, he had no idea. Hopefully the solution would present itself before he had to worry about that. He was nothing if not resourceful.
Making sure his Master wasn't awake yet, Kouryu snuck out of their quarters. There was no one on the grounds so it was easy to slip away from the Kinzan Temple, down the thousand steps, and onto the dirt road leading to the nearby town.
He was being a coward and he knew it. But he just couldn't find it in himself to care.
It hadn't yet been ten minutes before Koumyou Sanzo opened his eyes to face the day ahead. Smiling ruefully as he stretched, the priest contemplated little Kouryu in the next room. The child was a handful to be sure, but he had his heart in the right place. It only the others in the temple realized this. If only the headstrong boy could control his temper so they might have a chance to realize it. That boy Yuezi would need a firm scolding as well. The priest had no doubt that he'd purposely picked a fight, knowing that Kouryu would strike out.
"Kouryu," he called gently into the boy's room. "Kouryu, may I come in?"
Koumyou furrowed his brow in confusion. His young charge had never not answered him, no matter how angry he might be. He tried again, sliding the thin door open as he spoke. "Kouyu, my boy, you've overslept. It's time to…"
No one was there. The child was gone.
End Part One
A/N: The title of this chapter 'Qu Chu' is Chinese and it means 'to go away.' Basically it is pronounced 'choo choo' thought the 'q' does have a slightly different sound. More like a very light 'ch.' Eh, whatever : )