Standard disclaimers apply.
Okay, here's a Sanzo/Goku fic. No yaoi, shounen-ai, etc. Lots of love, but no...attraction...involved. This one's chaptered...(please don't kill me! shields head with hands) It was just rolling around in my head and needed to be let out...lots of h/c in this one. But no shounen-ai. Got that :) None whatsoever.
I apologize up front for the absurd monastery name. No, it's not Sanzo's "home monastery". It's a different one, despite the similarity in the names. Sorry. Oh, and I'm posting two chapters at once. Hopefully I'll get more done in the two weeks I have left of break...and update the rest...
Er...and there's some monk bashing in this fic. I have nothing against Buddhism--just taking a page from Saiyuki's general description of temple monks and their attitude towards Goku.
Enjoy, and review, if you would.
The monks of Chang'Lin were annoyed. Master Sanzo and his little…heretic pet…had arrived two days ago. The arrival of a Sanzo monk at their monastery was a great honor, but their joy was tempered by the discovery that Master Sanzo's companion was less than…seemly. The boy was an eating machine; the first night there, he had eaten everything set before him, demanded more, and then, after being given a ridiculous amount of food, complained of even worse hunger. Master Sanzo had hit him with a fan and retired, dragging the child with him.
Early the next morning Master Sanzo left, leaving the child in their care with the instructions to feed him a large amount of food at every meal and allow him to stay in the Sanzo's room. They hadn't wanted to allow the child to stay in the Sanzo's room; that special room was kept for the Sanzo, not random children the Sanzo chose to drag along with him.
If it had been an ordinary servant child, properly humble and clean, it would not have been a problem. But this child was nothing like that! The child was, to put it mildly, an extreme pain. He treated the Sanzo as if the holy one was an ordinary person; his friend, even! The Sanzo didn't have any friends! The Sanzo was the one who spoke with Buddha face to face! Even if the Sanzo did have a friend, it would most definitely not be a dirty, skinny little runt like that with huge eyes, a bigger stomach, and an obscene amount of hair!
For the few hours that they had been able to observe the two together, the monks had noticed that the brat had spent an unusual amount of time irritating the holy one—running around, making loud noises, stuffing his face, pointing out random items in the temple, as if each were new to him. Where had the Sanzo managed to pick up that brat? Perhaps the Sanbutshin had given him to the Sanzo as a means to higher purification—but that was impossible. The Sanzo had already attained the highest purity possible on earth.
So why would he take on this stupid brat? Why would he even care about the child? Perhaps he couldn't find a home for it…they didn't know.
All they knew was that ever since the Sanzo had left the child with them—for he had—five days ago he had left them, with orders to watch the child until he returned. He had been unclear on the length of time he would be gone. So far he had been gone five days, and the monks were on the edge of insanity.
They simply couldn't take this child anymore. Day one, they had been confident of their ability to handle him with the propriety and holiness appropriate to their status. They had given him food. When he had whined about having nothing to do, they had allowed him to walk quietly in one of the gardens reserved for the priests. Ordinarily they would never allow a brat like that into the priests' garden, but they made an exception for the companion of the Sanzo.
For the first four days, all was well. The child, while not exactly sedate, was manageable. But the fifth day…
Morning prayers had come first. Normally outsiders would not be permitted to partake in the prayers, but again, they had been making a special exception for the Sanzo's companion. Every day they had allowed him to take part in the prayers with them, even those prayers ordinarily reserved for the high priests. They had even permitted him to listen to lecture. For the first four days, except for the occasional fidget, the child had listened quietly through the hours of prayers and lectures. He had taken his meals with the monks, been almost entirely silent, even during prayers (which was very well; outsiders ought not to be allowed to participate), listened to lecture, walked quietly in the garden, and then retired to the Sanzo's room. The monks had actually had hopes that perhaps the child, unshorn and dirty as he was, was actually an acolyte of the Sanzo. Or perhaps his good behavior was simply due to the fact that the Sanzo had, before leaving, driven it into his skull that he was to be on his best behavior while he was gone.
The illusion of peace was utterly destroyed on the fifth day. They had woken the child for morning prayers before the sun rose, as usual. He had come with them into the temple, sat through five minutes of praying, and then started snoring. The high priest was infuriated and had ordered some of the acolytes to shake him awake. The child then glared at them and demanded to be allowed to go back to sleep. According to him, they hadn't let him sleep enough in the past four days. It was a ridiculous impertinence, especially considering the great honor that they were doing him by allowing him to pray with them in the first place. They had informed him of the great honor he was receiving by praying with them, only to have it thrown back in their face with the statement that "prayers are boring". The monks had been horrified, and had immediately evicted the child from the temple, fearful that such blasphemy would reach the ears of the Sanbutshin.
The child had come to breakfast a few hours later, only to be told that "ungrateful blasphemers did not deserve food". He had whined that he was HUNGRY, STARVING even. This enraged the head priest even more. As punishment, he forbade any of the monks from giving food to the child for the rest of the day. The child had lost his temper and said many irrational and completely untrue things to the head priest. The words that came from the child's mouth at that point were completely unrepeatable. The monks shuddered to think that the younger acolytes had overheard. The days of penitence required to make up for the sin of this one child would be innumerable. Cursing on temple ground…how could the Sanzo allow it?
Then again, perhaps the Sanzo didn't. Perhaps the Sanzo was completely unaware of the child's dirty habits. One of the more fastidious monks had made a point of listing the child's dirty habits for the enlightenment of all. It was especially good for the younger acolytes to view the brat's sins so that they would know what to avoid in future. The monks had posted this list outside of the prayer room of the temple so that the acolytes could all see it as they walked in.
The monk's list included:
1. Fidgeting in prayers.
2. Fidgeting in lecture.
6. Lying in order to feed his gluttony.
7. Blaspheming by saying that prayers were boring.
8. Arguing with the head priest.
9. Stealing food from the kitchen (he had been caught doing this after meals and after he had been forbidden to eat)
11. Personal refusal to bathe.
12. Refusing to shave his head as was proper for a companion of the Sanzo.
13. Falling asleep in prayers.
15. And, the worst sin of all…eating peaches from the tree of the Merciful Goddess.
After the incident at breakfast, the monks had released the child into the gardens in order to be free from his irritating presence. They could only hope that the Sanzo would return to. At least the brat wouldn't be able to do much in the gardens.
Or so they had thought. Regrettably, the brat had headed straight for the one place forbidden to all in the gardens: the peach tree of the Merciful Goddess. This tree was the most carefully tended plant in the entire monastery. Every morning, before the sun rose, a specially purified acolyte would go to water the tree, protesting his unworthiness to the Merciful Goddess all the while, and then retreat. Once a week an even more stringently purified acolyte would prune the tree, carefully removing all dead branches, twigs, and overripe peaches. These peaches would be specially composted in a specially purified area with the ashes of the branches and twigs, which were burned in a holy fire. When the compost was ripe, another purified acolyte would spread it into the soil at the tree's roots.
The tree had been kept thus for years. It was an extremely old peach tree, and had managed to live so long only through the monks' painstaking care and the grace of the Merciful Goddess. Once, long ago, an unfortunate acolyte had made the mistake of trying to steal one of the peaches to feed his own stomach. The acolyte had been struck down with lightning from heaven. The lightning had paralyzed him for a week, after which he had been set up as an example to the younger acolytes. Since then, no one had touched the tree except to care for it.
Yet in the afternoon of the fifth day, when the sun was at its peak, the monks found that cursed brat in the tree, comfortably situated in a fork between two branches. His filthy body was pressed against the virgin bark, and he was eating the peaches of the Merciful Goddess. Judging by the amount of pits on the ground, he had devoured at least twenty of them before the monks arrived. As they had stood there, he tossed yet another pit to the ground and sunk his unclean teeth into another perfectly ripe peach.
No lightning struck him from heaven. The monks seethed, raging at the brat from the foot of the tree, not daring to actually touch the tree in order to retrieve him. The brat had refused to come down—had in fact climbed a little higher in the tree, ignoring their reminders that he was forbidden to eat, and their threats of lightning striking from heaven. He had only disrespectfully protruded his tongue from his mouth, waggled it at them, and said that he didn't think that the Merciful Goddess cared if anyone ate her peaches or not—she probably wasn't even paying attention.
This blasphemy enraged the monks. They couldn't believe the brat. The head priest had finally come out, ordering the brat to come down because of his promise to the Sanzo to be on his best behavior. The brat had sulked and finished his peach, ignoring the head priest's command to come down immediately. After licking his fingers (was it just their imagination, or did the sun shine a little brighter while the child was eating peaches in the tree of the Goddess?) he slid easily from the tree and stood before the head priest.
The head priest had had it. The brat had gone too far this time. He had tolerated everything else, but this was too much. He ordered the acolytes to grab the brat's arms. They tried, but the stupid child resisted. The monks were forced to knock him unconscious in order to accomplish the head priest's orders. Somehow, while they were fighting with the child, they realized that the brat wasn't fighting very hard; he was deliberately doing his best not to hurt them, despite his desperation to escape. It was almost as if he allowed himself to be captured—perhaps in devotion to the Sanzo? But that was impossible. The brat was not devoted to the Sanzo, else he would have better behaved himself in his absence.
The priest commanded the monks to drag the brat's body out a mile away from the monastery to the sinner's pit. The monks were at first startled by this order; though the boy was an obvious sinner, he had surely done nothing that warranted putting him in there. The priest, however, was adamant. The boy had caused nothing but chaos in the temple since his arrival. Even if he was a companion of the Sanzo, there was no way that the Sanzo was a willing companion of his. It would probably be a relief to the Sanzo to know that they were disciplining him for his sins. Besides, in the pit he would be unable to cause any more trouble. They would leave him some food and water at the bottom, and leave him there until the Sanzo arrived.
The monks had obeyed. They took the boy out, tied a rope around his waist, and lowered him to the bottom of the thirty-foot pit. It had been a well before its reconstruction. After the well had dried up, the monastery had paved its sides with smooth concrete, constructed a lid, and renamed it "The Sinner's Pit". Those who came out of it after the cleansing period called it the Hell. The monks understood this to mean that the sinners had come face to face with their own unworthiness in the pit and seen the true meaning of hell. Those who exited it had a different understanding, but it was not one that they were eager to share with the monks, as they might see it as proof of sin.
Halfway down, the boy had awoken and begun screaming, clawing his way up the rope as fast as possible. The monks had struggled to hold the rope until the head priest had ordered them to drop the child the rest of the way. The monks had hesitated momentarily, afraid that the fifteen foot drop might hurt the child. The head priest had angrily shoved them away from the rope, causing the child to drop with an ear-shattering scream. The thud of his body hitting the concrete of the well had deafened the monks who had dropped him, and they had run to the side of the well to ensure that the child was living.
At the bottom, they saw a pair of bright gold eyes dimming with angry tears. The child had shrieked at them to release him, to let him out of this pit. He had untied the rope around his waist and attempted to climb the sheer walls of the pit, but had fallen back to the bottom. He tried this again and again, trying to reach the sky and the monks, until the head priest ordered the monks to put the lid on the pit.
This shocked them. The lid was reserved only for the worst of sinners. It blocked out all view of the sky and sun, causing the pit to be entirely dark. There were minute holes poked around the edge of the pit to allow for air, but they were situated in such a way as to not allow any light into the prison. To disobey the head priest, however, meant certain excommunication, so the monks had covered the pit.
The screams that had come from the pit then were the worst they had ever heard. They were animal screams; the screams of someone pressed beyond endurance into something that was the most horrible hell anyone could endure. The monks had hurried back to the interior of the monastery, but the screams had followed them even there. The screams were breathless, endless, and horrible. The screams echoed throughout the entire temple for the rest of day. The next day, they had faded into soft sobs. Soft as the sobs were, they could still be heard throughout the entire temple. By the next day, even the sobs were silent. No sound could be heard.
The Sanzo returned a week later.