Disclaimer: I do not own Saiyuki. I own nothing that anybody in the known universe could sue me for. I own nothing.
AN: Please. Stay with me on this. I think my writing gets better as the story progresses and I have a really good idea what I'm doing with it.
One Man Army
The building was on fire, and it wasn't his fault. Gojyo was sweating under the heat coming from all around him; the monkey's extra weight didn't help either. It was a little, tiny thump to the head, why the hell did the monkey have to pass out? The water sprite crouched down to protect his head as a burning rafter swung down and smashed against the wall. As soon as he was sure it was safe, Gojyo rose to his feet and continued on his escape route.
He heard a soft cough come from Goku, and he fought the desire to let the useless little bastard inhale all the smoke he wanted too, then resuscitate him once they got to safety. Then remembered that that would include putting his mouth on Goku's. Gojyo, wanting to avoid that at all costs, took the bandanna off his own sweat/blood soaked head and wrapped it around Goku's mouth and nose. He did it as fast as possible, because as much as he wanted to avoid kissing Goku he wanted to avoid roasting alive even more.
With that done he picked Goku up into a fireman's carry and continued staggering out of the burning building. All the while going over everything he knew about fire, and the structures of buildings. The fire had started in the center, or pretty close to it, and it had already spread to the lowest levels. Gojyo wasn't an architect or anything, but he knew that once the middle level collapsed under the weight of the levels above it then the whole building would come down. With a big demonic citadel like this one then that meant anyone still inside the building when it went down would look something like a flounder by the time someone dug them out.
He was still inside the building.
Stopping only momentarily to get his bearings, he readjusted Goku's weight on his back. Gojyo let his mind wonder only briefly to Sanzo and Hakkai, who had disappeared behind a wall of debris last time he saw them. They'd be fine if the main staircase didn't collapse. As it was, Gojyo had taken the servant's passages. It had been one long, annoying maze, and it had taken longer than the main staircase would have. But fortunately it was sturdy enough, and Gojyo was getting away with minor injuries and burns. He wasn't sure about Goku, but he'd worry about that later. First he had to worry about getting their assess the out of there.
And so, he worried about getting their assess out of there. More importantly he worried about how long it was going to take for this piece of crap building to collapse. That was why when he heard a massive groan resonate through the citadel he was scared shitless. He stopped in shock, his smoke filled breath caught in his throat. The groaning stopped, and he coughed out the breath he'd been holding in. His eyes watered. Seriously, he loved smoking as much as the piss-poor monk, but large amounts of regular smoke had nothing on cigarettes.
Now, with renewed vigor, he broke out into a sprint. The half-breed was glad to find flat ground after he got over the stairs. That meant he was on the lowest level, and he could rejoin the main hall then get the hell out of there. Fortunately he didn't have to trip on demon carcasses that they'd left on the way up the main corridor.
As another groan came from above, Gojyo hit a large door blocking his path. He reached out only to jerk his hand back as fast as he could.
Shit! The door's burning up.
That could only mean one thing: that there was enough heat coming from the other side to make the door too hot to touch.
Gojyo looked around frantically, but the only way out was either through the door or back up. The building groaned yet again and Gojyo found himself actually debating whether or not being crushed or burned would be a better death. Crushing might be a whole lot quicker, but probably wouldn't leave him with his dastardly good looks. Then again, neither would burning alive
Man. If he ever got out of this he knew he'd need to deal with some serious vanity issues. Here he was about to die and the only thing he could think about was how good he'd look doing it.
Screw that! I am so not giving up without a fight!
With that he summoned his shakujo to his hand and began to beat the metal door; repeatedly and with extreme prejudice.
"Open. You. Son. Of. A. Bitch," He said between blows.
Another groan radiated through the building, and Gojyo knew this was it as dust from the ceiling rained down on him. He flung Goku off his shoulders and onto the wall next to the door. Then crouched down over his friend to protect him if any minor chunks of ceiling or worse came down. Although, he knew that if the building collapsed it wouldn't really make any difference. Still he held the boy's already injured head under his chest for dear life.
Gojyo's world diminished into a flurry of crashing, snapping, splintering, groaning, more crashing, dust, thick smoke, and all kinds of brief pains in his head and back. In that moment, as far as he was concerned, it seemed like the world was coming to an end. It seemed just like the big, shiny apocalypse everyone thought would bring Earth's end.
Of course in reality Gojyo knew the world wasn't coming to an end, just his little corner of it.
That's why he was both surprised and grateful when the shaking/crashing/general disaster stopped and he could open his eyes. Which were immediately stung by smoke. Thick, black, smoke that was doing everything in its power to cut out his oxygen. He let off two, wet coughs, and tried to make out his surroundings.
The staircase he'd come down had collapsed; all that was left of it was a burning mass of materials. The disaster stopped just at the place where he and Goku were. For a moment he was just glad to be alive, then remembered exactly what he needed to do.
Gojyo stood up again, picked up his shakujo, and whacked away as hard as was possible on the door. Right then it didn't matter if all that was on the other side was a bonfire. All that mattered was that he either got out of there or died trying. Gojyo was most certainly not about to just curl up and die.
With every moment, his whacks became more desperate. Why did the one truly sturdy part of this goddamned building have to block his escape route?
Now, naturally the door didn't open, no matter how many dents he put into it's side. You see if it had opened that would once and for all disprove his theory that the universe conspired against him, and we just couldn't have that now could we?
He stood back and looked at the door. The bastard wouldn't give. No matter how hard he whacked. On top of everything gods knew it was only a matter of time before the building collapsed again. The second cave in would probably be even more spectacular than its predecessor.
Gojyo looked down at the monkey. He stood there and as he looked at his friend he felt like he'd failed them both.
That moment of weakness was where he reminded himself he hadn't really failed yet.
Yeah. I'm just really, really, freakin' close.
Then he stared at the door, and wondered why the thing had to be so goddamned stubborn. You'd think the door would want to do something good before it died.
Heh. The smoke must really be gettin' to me. I'm starting to think about inanimate objects as having feelings.
The half-breed forced his brain to kick into action. He could practically hear the tired, oxygen-deprived gears struggling to turn under the stress.
But his brain came through for him. The door was metal, and not going to brake if he kept waling away on it.
But the wall around the hinges would.
Right. Smashing through the wall might put unnecessary strain on a place that was already a house of cards, but if he just weakened the parts of the wall holding the door in place then he could open the door with minimal structural damage. So he went to work hacking away at the wall, and decided that this was far easier than the door. It took only a matter of seconds to eat away at the walls around it. With a triumphant grin on his face Gojyo delivered one well-placed kick to the door. Finally it fell with a clanging noise. Although, the door apparently wanted to go out in a blaze of glory: literally. A waft of fire flared up from the main hall and Gojyo was hard pressed to put out the fire that was about to take off in his hair (this resulted in a few painful singes on his face). When the fire settled down he realized that the main hall was basically the same as the hallway he'd come down: a mass of burning rubble. It would be tricky, but Gojyo was sure he could do it under the right motivations.
He was motivated.
Stepping through the door way and over the fallen door he then proceeded to chop any bits or pieces that were in his way, all the while hoping he didn't inadvertently cause another catastrophe.
It was only when he saw the large gates that made up the entranceway did he toss caution to the wind and make a run for it. Unlike the stupid metal door, when he ran into the enormous double doors with all his might they flew open. See? That's how a door was supposed to behave!
As a reward he was greeted by sweet, clean air that made him realize how much his lungs had missed it. The next thing he knew he was coughing horribly as he kept running. Deep, wet coughs. For the first time since he'd started he wondered if he actually should quit smoking.
When he couldn't run any more he collapsed in a heap on the ground, Goku tumbling unceremoniously from his shoulder. Gojyo sat there, breathing in the pure air for a moment before sitting up and watching the demonic stronghold burn and burn. He could see how the first time it caved in had affected it. The upper part of it was sagging dangerously downward, and it may not have looked like much from the outside. But Gojyo would bet good money that it looked much worse on the inside.
He tore his eyes away from the disaster site and looked at Goku. Pulling his bandanna from Goku's mouth and nose he checked to make sure the little brat was breathing, and that everything else Goku needed to live was in order. Gojyo was happy to find that Goku was uninjured and breathing normally, aside from the horrible blow to his head. It was a gruesome sight. Dried blood caked around the spot where that warlord bastard had managed one good sucker-punch. It was in a place just under his diadem, where his nose met with his forehead.
As soon as that was settled Gojyo leaned backward and rested on that ground.
Damn. I hope the others find us soon...
After that last, hazy thought, he drifted off into darkness. Not entirely sure whether he passed out or really fell asleep.
By the time Gojyo awoke it was a whole lot darker, the only light came from the earlier fire, which by now had collapsed into nothing but a smoldering pile. It looked nothing like the tower it used to be.
His lungs seemed to be working right, but his throat felt like he'd just swallowed a handful of charcoal. The burns on his cheek stung and his boots looked like hell from when he'd been maneuvering through the main corridor and had been forced to literally walk on fire for a second or two. On top of everything he had a splitting headache, the kind you got the morning after drinking a whole bottle of whiskey the night before. That was probably just the feel of his brain cells dying off. Gojyo couldn't help but smile as he thought about the crack Sanzo would make about that.
Speaking of which, where the hell were they? Surely they would have found them by now?
A sudden 'kyu' came from the air above him. Gojyo looked up just in time to see a familiar tiny dragon land on his face. This irritated the burns on his cheek from where his hair had caught fire. "Hey!" He grabbed Hakuryu and held the tiny animal in front of him, "Does my face look like a landing strip to you?"
He was rewarded with another kyu, he didn't know why, but something about it sounded wrong. Distressed even. "Besides, what are you doing here? Where the hell..." He trailed off.
The dragon looked up at him.
"No..." He cast his gaze back to the smoldering ruins of the stronghold, then back to Hakuryu. "No..."
Hakuryu just looked at him. Intelligent eyes filled with pain, loss...
...and Gojyo would have sworn they were even the slightest bit accusatory.
"Oh no..." He looked back at the burning building. There was no way, no way in hell. They had the easy way out. It was a straight shot to the door, they could have easily gotten out of there in half the time Gojyo did, which meant way before the first cave in. "Oh no..."
"Oh..." Unless they ran into more demons. Demons were easy, but time consuming, the more he thought about it Gojyo realized it wasn't entirely unreasonable that they were still inside when the building when it went down, "...fuck!"
Throwing the dragon off his chest he flew to his feet and sprinted over to the rubble. God...please let him be wrong. Please let the stupid dragon be wrong. Shouldn't this have occurred to him earlier? Was he so preoccupied with himself the thought didn't even cross his mind that they might have still been in there?
No. He had no way of knowing they decided to play hop-scotch on the way down. They had it easy. As soon as he hit the ruins Gojyo tripped over a stray piece of wall, he totally ignored the stinging sensations and bruises on his front. The place still smelled thickly of smoke. And after being clean for such a long time that was all it took to get his eyes watering and his throat stinging again. But he was too focused on finding his friends to worry about his own little pains. "Hakkai! Sanzo!" he called out into the mess.
"Hakkai! Sanzo! Damn it. If you can hear me say something!" The only reply he got was the sound of fires that hadn't died yet. "Hell, shoot at me for all I care!"
Gojyo forced himself to stay calm, that didn't mean they were dead at all. It just meant they were unable to respond. Which could mean a lot of things in and of itself.
God. What had he done?
No! I can't be blamed for this. This isn't my fault. This isn't my fault. It isn't like I started the damn fire or anything...
At least he didn't think he started the fire.
He was snapped out of his thoughts by a gunshot from a very familiar gun. That same gun that was fired at or near him every day for the last nine months. But he didn't feel the whiz of a bullet, so it was probably fired into the air.
Gojyo spun around, "Sanzo!" He yelled, then remembered that Hakkai could just be using the gun, "Hakkai!"
A second gunshot rang through the night. But Gojyo's head was spinning so badly he could barely pinpoint where it came from. It wasn't until the third gunshot that he finally got a general idea of where the shooter was. Somewhere to the right. So there he went, careful not to sprain an ankle in his hurry. By the time the fourth gunshot came around he saw a flash of blond hair and the glint of metal.
By the time Gojyo found his way over there Sanzo was firing a fifth shot into the air. "Sanzo!" Gojyo said, but as soon as he got close to the moody blond, he wished he hadn't. For one thing as soon as Sanzo saw him he aimed his banishing gun at Gojyo. To tell the truth Gojyo wasn't entirely comfortable looking down the barrel of that gun at dilated purple eyes. For another thing...Sanzo was a wreck. The monk was pinned by a large piece of wall. Everything from his hips down must have been crushed. Small trickles of blood came from Sanzo's nose and mouth. There was a green and blue bruise on the side of his face, and his blond hair was caked with blood, no doubt the cause of the dilated pupils. A concussion did that to a person. "Sanzo?" Gojyo asked worriedly afraid that in a confused state Sanzo might actually shoot him, "It's me. Sha Gojyo?"
The sixth shot was fired, missing Gojyo's head by inches. Sanzo spoke, "I...know..."
Any anger at the priest instantly vanished as more blood spilled from Sanzo's mouth and onto the ground and he laid there, exhausted just from that effort. He was struggling for breath on top of everything else, it seemed. "Damnit..." Gojyo said, "God, Sanzo. The building collapsed-"
Gojyo made his way over to the priest, that had been six shots, and the priest looked like he couldn't even lift his head any more. So Gojyo assumed it was safe to move in and try to help. He took off his leather coat, "Sanzo, could you just not be a bitter smart ass for a few minutes?"
"May...be...if the mood...strikes me." More blood came from his mouth.
Gojyo nodded as he placed the coat under Sanzo's head, "Fair enough. So if you have to talk why don't you tell me what happened?"
"Didn't we...already...establish that?"
"You guys had a clear shot for the exit. What happened that took so long?"
"Demons...what else?" Sanzo winced suddenly. "When...the first collapse came...we were pinned...Hakkai...did everything he could...but...we...were separated..."
Gojyo knew Sanzo would have to be in extreme pain, and on the verge of passing out. "Just hang on."
Sanzo made an odd snort-like sound that turned into a cough, in which more blood came up. It didn't take a genius to know that Sanzo was bleeding internally. But this wasn't actually going to kill him was it? Cummon. This was Sanzo. The man he'd seen neutralize the Seiten Taisei with scorpion venom pumping through is veins. "Sanzo? Hey," He reached down and lightly slapped Sanzo's cheek, "Stay with me. Where's Hakkai?" He needed to find Hakkai, if the healer was in any shape at all then he could at least help Sanzo some.
"Shut up," He was tired of the wise cracks about his relationship with Hakkai. Didn't anybody see that it would be like screwing his brother? "Be careful, I might start making jokes about the monkey and you." He shot back half-heartedly. For obvious reasons the banter held more weight than it normally did.
Sanzo gave him a killing look and dry fired his gun. "I...I don't know...where he is...he just disappeared in...the chaos..."
Gojyo brought a hand up to his head as he looked at the mortally wounded priest. Wait? Mortally wounded? No. Sanzo was not gonna die from this. Shit! Why couldn't he have just gone back inside? Why did he feel the sudden need to take a goddamned nap?
No. No. No. No. This wasn't his fault.
This wasn't his fault.
This wasn't his fault.
Sanzo stared up at him; Gojyo supposed the monk didn't really have the ability to speak any more. He was fading too quickly, lots of blood loss. It was a miracle he'd managed to stay conscious as long as he had.
This wasn't his fault. How could it be? He'd been exhausted, there was no freakin' way he could have known they weren't already outside.
Sanzo's eyes rolled back up into his head as his eyelids shut. Gojyo could only pray it wasn't for the last time.
This was not his fault...
VVVVV Chapter end
AN: Okay. What do you think. I'm a little worried that Gojyo went a little out of character towards the end. I think it gets kind of iffy. Anyway please, R&R.