TITLE: What Hurts the Most

AUTHOR: Eyes of Shinigami

PAIRINGS: 93, mentions of 58

RATING: M

TIMELINE: Set after the series.

WARNINGS: Bits of angst, slash, lemon/lime action, the usual.

SUMMARY: Sanzo introspects on what might have been, if only he would have spoken up sooner. While I am the most anti-country music person you will EVER find, I happened upon on this song and it struck me like a brick to the head. So, enjoy.

DISCLAIMER: I own neither the song nor the characters that are so lovingly portrayed in this fic, which I do own. The song belongs to Rascal Flatts (if that's even how you spell it. -sweatdrop-) and the charries belong to our wonderful Kazuya Minekura, whom we worship for bestowing all things Saiyuki upon us.

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I can take the rain on the roof of this empty house

That don't bother me

I can take the few tears that I've got

And just let them out

But I'm not afraid to cry

His thoughts started drifting long before the rain started pinging against the metal rooftop of the temple, bringing Sanzo's mind to a completely different time. It rained the day he left, too, the blonde thought bitterly, his eyes downcast to the pile of paperwork on his desk that he knew he wouldn't bother with. One would have thought he was crying, but no. Genjyo Sanzo did not cry. Not even for the love that he had yet again let slip through his pale fingers.

Well, that was a lie. He had cried twice, that he could remember anyway. He had cried the day his Master was stolen from him, and the day that…the monkey had walked away. He could remember the sound of the rain then too, mocking him as he watched that familiar figure disappear down the path and out of his life. The worst part about it was that he couldn't blame anyone but himself for it.

The tears had come that night, before Sanzo could even realize that he was crying. He should have been happy that he had gotten rid of that damn monkey once and for all, but instead his heart felt…longing. His chest felt hollow and incomplete, as though something had been ripped from his ribcage. Of course, it was far too late for him to realize that his heart had walked away, carried snugly in the hands of the boy that he had let go.

Every once in a while

Even though going on with you still upsets me

There are days

Every now and again I pretend I'm okay

But that's not what gets me

The days had started to slog together, the quiet an unbearable weight that stayed with him no matter what he did. The temple was eerie without the constant noise of whines and moans for food and attention that he had come so accustomed to. The silence served as a reminder of his loneliness, that he actually missed the boy that he had taken for granted. Now, there was no comforting presence at his back, like a light in the storm. There was no one to talk to that wasn't a sniveling underling that couldn't even look him in the eyes. There was no one to stand up to him when his arrogance overtook him and he needed to be put back in his place. Lastly, there was no one that accepted Sanzo for the man that he was, never once asking for him to be something that he was not.

Of course, Sanzo did not let anyone know his feelings, putting up his façade that he had spent nearly his entire life perfecting. The monks knew nothing, not that they would have done anything about it anyway; as long as he remained the shining trophy of their temple, they were happy.

He even tried to hide it from his other two…friends (the word always did leave a bad taste in his mouth, even though he had begrudgingly began to refer to them as that). They never said anything, but he suspected that they knew well enough and simply chose to let it lie. He wasn't blind, seeing that they were dealing with the loss in their own way as well, though Gojyo would have died before admitting it. They were alike in that, each one of them cursing their inability to say anything to stop what shouldn't have happened.

What hurts the most

Was being so close

And having so much to say

And watching you walk away

Sanzo had gotten up from his desk, opting instead for a seat at the window to better gaze out into the rain. It had become a ritual for him, almost as though keeping vigil in case that familiar smiling face would come back to him someday. So many regrets flitted through his head, realizing that maybe it would have ended differently. If he had taken the monkey by the hand and stopped him, answering the question that was imprinted in his mind.

"Are you sure you still need me? I mean, we defeated Gyumaoh and all that," Goku had asked, golden eyes shining back at him. No matter how much that face aged, those eyes remained eternally youthful and innocent. Perhaps not as naïve as they had been, but still ageless in their own way.

Sanzo could feel traitorous emotions welling up in his chest, so many things resting on his tongue in wait to be said. "Do what you want. Remember what I always taught you, you dumb monkey. Hold nothing, to live your life as it was given to you," he had snapped almost coldly, fighting off the wince when those eyes grew wet with unshed tears.

"Oh…okay…well. I guess…that settles that. I'll be leaving in the morning, Sanzo. Thank you for being honest with me," the monkey had answered unexpectedly, offering an uncharacteristic bow before walking out of the room before the blonde had a chance to say anything.

True to his word, that morning Goku was gone. He didn't understand what the boy had been asking then, but he certainly did now. And it haunted him, every single day and night. He had no way of knowing where the boy had gone off to, or if he was even still alive. That was what bothered him the most, he supposed. The fact that there was so much that he should have done, should have said, before the boy had left. If there was one thing the blonde hated, it was unresolved shit that could have been easily put to rest. "If only you would come back, Goku," Sanzo murmured quietly to himself, lighting a cigarette and leaning heavily against the window sill.

And never knowing what could have been

And not seeing that loving you

Was what I was trying to do

Why had it taken him so long to realize? He was destined to rescue the boy for a reason, just as there was a reason he hadn't killed him on the spot for making such a goddamn racket. Those golden eyes had drawn him and never let him go, no matter what he did. He had tried to hate the boy, but somehow the brunette never allowed it.

Sanzo regretted, at times, how he cursed and insulted the boy, even how many times he hit him. Perhaps it was his own way of showing his affection, since he knew nothing else. He had always cared for the monkey, there was no question of that. The boy's unwavering loyalty had moved him, even until the very end. Maybe that's why he didn't feel betrayed by the boy's leaving his side, because he knew deep down that it was him who had betrayed Goku with his inaction.

Maybe Goku had even known how the priest had felt about him, which is why he asked the question that he did. Gods, how badly had he hurt him when he told him no so eloquently? That was the one thing Sanzo would never forgive himself of, being the source of Goku's tears that one last time. The boy had needed confirmation that Sanzo had loved him, needed him, but again, Sanzo had simply let it go. For the sake of his own damn pride.

It's hard to deal with the pain of losing you

Everywhere I go

I'm doing it

It's hard to force that smile when

I see our old friends and I'm alone

The time he felt how much he missed Goku was when the three remaining members of the Sanzo party got together. He could easily see that the other two missed the boy as well, each in their own way. Hakkai still cooked obscene amounts of food, as though the quantity would make up for the enormous presence that was gone. Gojyo had taken to aggravating Sanzo all the time, making up for the monkey that he could no longer pick fights with. Long gone were the days of mahjongg, since they couldn't very well play without their fourth. They opted for cards instead, usually falling quiet as each of them knew not what to say to the other.

Sanzo supposed that it was because they were treading so lightly around him, sure not to mention anything on the subject. Perhaps they were simply angry with him for allowing Goku to leave. Sanzo took Gojyo's onslaughts of incessant teasing as atonement, always sure to eat whatever was set in front of him even if it meant that he got sick later on.

He tried desperately to ignore the looks that passed between his companions, the slight touches that he knew he would never have again. They always toned things down when he was around, though Sanzo always felt slightly guilty for depriving them of what he was so weak to take for himself. That was usually about the time that he would declare that he was leaving, ignoring whatever response he had provoked from either of his companions. Hakkai would try to argue, but Sanzo would simply shake his head and take his leave. He would always leave them to their happiness together, completely green with envy. But what could he do now?

Still haunted

Getting up, getting dressed, never want this regret

But if I could do it over

I would treat everywhere all the words that

I say in my heart that I left unspoken

Days like this he would pray to the gods that he didn't believe in to grant him another chance, if only to say what he had meant to say that day. He would tell Goku the truth, at least, he would try. He was never good at expressing his emotions, but he knew somehow that the boy would understand. He could see that wide, damnable grin that he loved so much and watch those beautiful eyes sparkle like they used to.

But as every day passed and grew into weeks, months, and even years, his prayers would go unanswered. The path stayed empty, save for the monks that came in and went in their daily tasks and lives. Sanzo often thought that this was just another way that the gods tried to screw him over, envisioning that old hag laughing uproariously at his misfortune. His usefulness had ended with Gyumaoh's death.

He had tried to find him for the first few months, asking around on his missions he still had to take, even going so far as to asking Kougaiji if he had seen him. The Rabbit Prince had answered that no, he hadn't seen Goku, and he was relatively surprised to find out that he had left. A bubble of relief had swelled in Sanzo's chest at that, for he had feared that the boy had run to the demon for solace. Of course, upon hearing from Hakkai that Yaone was expecting, he had realized how foolish it had been to think that. See? Even that damned demon had found the happiness that he had thrown aside.

'Cause what hurts the most

Was being so close

And having so much to say

And watching you walk away

Sanzo stubbed out his cigarette, still staring out the window as the rain began to lighten to a mere sprinkling. He hated when the sun came out after the rain more than the rain itself, reminding him that he had failed in being Goku's sun after all that time. The boy hadn't asked that much of him, but he still couldn't do it.

With a sigh, he stood up again and shook out his robes, startled to see one of the monks standing in the doorway of his office. "What is it? I'm sort of busy," he barked out, angry that his solitude had been disrupted. He wanted to get back to brooding over his loss in peace.

"There's someone here to see you, Master Sanzo. Would you like me to send him away?" the monk asked nervously, bowing respectfully even as a fine tremble ran through his body. This particular boy seemed to be smarter than he looked, Sanzo noted.

"No, I suppose not. This had better be important," the blonde griped, preparing to sit back in at his desk until a familiar voice caught his attention to the doorway.

"Wow, and to think you haven't changed a bit," the voice, slightly deeper than he remembered, teased.

All sentient thought in Sanzo's brain shut down at the sight of the familiar, albeit older Goku that stood in the doorway. Their eyes locked, and the priest felt that he could barely breathe. "G-Goku? What in the blue fuck are you doing here?" he asked after a moment, motioning for the young monk to leave immediately.

"Well…" Goku began, ageless golden eyes shining brightly with mischief and all the confidence that Sanzo had remembered. They sparkled at him, though he could easily see the undercurrent of insecurity trying to hide behind the liquid pools of spun gold. "I heard a voice, calling me…I thought I would come find the source and give it a piece of my mind."

Even Sanzo couldn't help smirking at that.

And never knowing what could have been

And not seeing that loving you

Was what I was trying to do

"So…I came to find out something. Got any place for a annoying monkey in this busy monk life of yours?" Goku asked cockily, and the priest could easily sense the mock in those seemingly innocent words. They hurt, but he knew he deserved them for being such an idiotic ass the first time around. The intense gaze on Sanzo never once wavered, clearly prepared to up and leave again. The gods were giving him a second chance, and he was not going to blow it this time. I owe you one, you goddamn hag, he thought silently, swearing that he could almost hear the giggling in the back of his head.

He didn't waste any time, not bothering to answer the monkey with words as he strode forward with all the determination that he could muster. Hurriedly, he crushed their lips together, years of unspent passion and unsaid things pouring out of him and into the younger man. It took him a minute, but soon Goku responded to the kiss and returned it full-on. Just as he suspected, the monkey understood what it was he was trying to say.

I need you, Goku. I needed you from the beginning. I will never stop needing you, no matter what.

I know Sanzo, I know. I'm here now. You can stop calling for me.

They kissed for what seemed like an eternity, before parting rather breathlessly. "Stupid monkey," Sanzo whispered against damp lips, feeling them curve into the smile that he loved so much. He frowned when a knock sounded on the door, not even bother to release Goku's face from his hands as he called out grumpily, "What now?"

A silence followed for a moment, until a tentative voice asked, "I was wondering if your guest needed a room for the night." The monk sounded more nervous, if that was even possible.

The two shared conspiratorial smirks, each one practically reading the other's mind. "No…somehow I don't think that will be necessary."

And not seeing that loving you

Was what I was trying to do

Sanzo writhed on the bed, allowing unbidden moans of pleasure to escape from his mouth as his body was touched and teased into madness. Somehow he managed to take in the form of his lover, pleased with what he saw. Wiry shoulders had given way to broad ones, the boyish face now displaying the features of a man. Goku couldn't have looked any more beautiful if he tried. "Enough of this…just hurry up and fuck me, you damn brat," Sanzo managed to grit out, gripping tightly at the brunette locks of hair well within his grasp.

Goku licked his lips, cleaning away the evidence of his previous activity as he glanced on the man beneath him. "Maybe I should torture you some more," he mused, his voice husky with lust. His hand snaked between his lover's open thighs, carefully stretching and preparing the willing body he wanted so much.

Sanzo said nothing, groaning at the feeling. The self-deprecating part of him agreed with Goku, but the blonde banished it as quick as it had welled. They were together now, and that was all that mattered. Soon, the feeling of something bigger and thicker than fingers replaced them, and a loud moan escaped before he could quell it. Gods only hoped that the monks didn't come running in at the sound.

"That's right…I want to hear you enjoy this," Goku murmured against his ear, moving gently inside of him. Sanzo merely gripped tighter at his shoulders, giving just as much as he was taking. And to think this is what he had been missing all these years. His chest swelled so hard that he thought it would burst, feeling complete for the first time in nearly three years.

"Oh god…Goku…" the priest moaned, feeling his trapped flesh rubbing against that strong stomach. The sensation was driving him into oblivion, so lost in the feeling that he was surprised when the pleasure spiked in his stomach and spilled between the two of them. His lover followed soon after, collapsing tiredly on top of him.

"I love you, Sanzo," the younger of the two said softly, his tone expectant. It was almost as if he was waiting for history to repeat itself once again.

Sanzo was ready this time. "I-I love you too, Goku," he murmured, unsure of whether the other man heard him or not. It was hard to say, but he knew it would be much harder if he didn't voice what needed to be this time. When light kisses dusted along his neck and collar bone, he knew that he had been heard. There would be no more unspoken words, no more unsaid things.

Genjyo Sanzo was not one to make the same mistake twice.

-END-