Dislcaimer: I do not own Saiyuki or anything else that anybody in the known universe could sue me for. I own nothing.
AN: Okay. Sorry. But I've been wrestling with other ideas trying to force myself to finish up this story before I post anything else.
One Man Army
When the first, disgusting, wave of cigarette smoke flowed through his throat Gojyo took great pleasure in knowing that the desperately needed nicotine buzz was only a few minutes away. Gojyo had been smoking since he was about twelve, and he could only remember a few times in which he needed it so.
Goku was blind. Goku was blind. The very thought made Gojyo sick. The little brat loved life more than any of them. Seeing was a big part of living. Next to talking Gojyo figured seeing things was Goku's favorite thing. Goku was just so sad; being worried about Sanzo didn't help anything.
And to add to Gojyo's shit list Hazel hadn't told Goku anything about Sanzo's condition. That left Gojyo to deliver the bad news.
"What if he dies?" Goku had asked.
Gojyo had looked up, just feeling even worse than he did before, "Wha?"
"What if he dies? Then I won't be able to feel the sun either? Then...this'll be even worse..."
Now, Gojyo was the first to admit he wasn't the brightest guy in the world, or that Goku had the tendency to not make sense...but at the same time, in a childish way, Goku made perfect sense. If Sanzo died then Goku would feel alone, just like he was in the cage. Gojyo didn't take it personally; Goku loved Sanzo. Not in a romantic way. Definitely familial in nature. That was the best way Gojyo could think of to describe it. It was a natural reaction to be focused on the injured person that you care for.
Besides, Gojyo figured that as long as Goku was focused on Sanzo he wouldn't ask about Hakkai.
For the thousandth time that night he was wrong as hell...
"Gojyo? Where's Hakkai?"
Gojyo didn't know why he didn't say anything. It would have been an easy thing to say to simply tell the younger man. A movement of lips, a little air exhaled. A simple, simple task that he performed everyday (usually a little more per-day than was healthy).
But for some reason, talking had never felt so hard.
Gojyo had simply risen to his feet and walked out the door into the living room. Where the doctor's daughter had chastised him for smoking near her son. Gojyo understood her need to protect her son. Besides, she'd patched him up pretty good, the least he could do was spare them of his second-hand smoke. Also, on his way out he stopped to pour a cup of water on Hazel's head, for not telling Goku the details of Sanzo's condition before.
As for Sanzo the doctor was still working on him...
And of course there was still the issue of finding that faerie scripture. Which, by the way, he still didn't have a fucking clue about.
Well, that wasn't entirely true; he had what Sidhe had said about how it was in the possession of another faerie and a half-breed in the area. There was a chance the information she got was completely wrong, but it was the only thing he had to go on.
But despite all the stress and responsibility that had been thrust upon him, he still found the time to go outside, sit on a porch, and smoke like there was no tomorrow. Which could very well be the case if he didn't stop wasting time smoking.
That was when he heard the rustle of silk that he usually associated with Sanzo. Uncontrollably, that's what he thought at first. Only for a second though, before his conscious caught up with his subconscious. And he realized it was just Hazel...the quick hope turned to dull irritation. As if his life wasn't going shitty enough! He had to deal with the psycho bishop too...
"So? Do you have some kind of plan?"
"Well. First I'm gonna take fifty Vicodin. Then I'm gonna go to the nearest bar and get cowboy drunk. Then if I'm still alive by then I plan to take fifty more Vicodin and develop a plan."
"Can you be serious for three minutes?"
"Yep. But I used them up when I went to see Goku..."
"I know...I ain't too fond of your kind, but seein' the poor little fella like that was awfully heartbreakin'."
Gojyo scoffed, "I haven't even told him about Hakkai yet."
"Are you sure that's wise?"
"You know..." Gojyo growled as he struggled with the desire to break that pretty arm in three places. That hypocritical son of a bitch! He didn't even have the balls to tell Goku about Sanzo, and here he was acting like Gojyo was in the wrong!
He shoved the anger back down to whatever hole it crawled out of. Getting into another argument of morals with Hazel wouldn't help anything. Besides, it wasn't like he was much better than the jack preacher. Wasn't it he who didn't have the balls to tell Goku about Hakkai? And perhaps Hazel's asshole-ness was slightly justified, Gojyo had dumped water on him...
Gojyo took a long drag on his cigarette. Not caring about the deadly smoke that filled his lungs, only the nicotine buzz that would soon follow.
Hazel remained quiet as the two men stared out at the night from the front porch. It seemed the clouds from earlier had long ago cleared away. Leaving moonlight to illuminate their little corner of the world. "So..." Gojyo said after a while, "What can you tell me about these faeries?"
"They're far more common where I come from. As a matter of fact almost everyone who's delved in magic arts comes across them at one point or another. I've encountered them myself...not very pleasant encounters, mind you," Hazel gave an exaggerated cough as the wind shifted, and moved upwind of Gojyo's smoke. Gojyo ignored it, although the over-dramatic cough had come dangerously close to pissing him off.
Damn...this guy just had to show up on the night when my fuse is probably at its shortest. It's like the gods are just taunting me...
"Uh huh," Gojyo said, "Details, man. Gimme the details."
"The dimension they come from is called Fae. The touch of iron is their weakness. They can't lie, and a deal with one of them is binding."
"Well, what happens if you break it?"
"Oh," Hazel said a little cheerier than necessary, "You die."
"Okay. Deals. Big no-no. Got it. Now this thing about them not being able to lie is interesting..."
"They can't lie. But they're right cunnin' bastards. They've mastered that particular curse...Wordin' when it comes to deals is important. Every word matters when a deal is made."
Gojyo nodded. That made sense. "And what about that name. Cait Nen Sidhe?"
"Sidhe are the highest nobles of Fae. They're elegant, beautiful, more like yer classic version of elven than a faerie. Out of the two courts, Summer and Winter, there are five from each that carry the surname "Nen Sidhe". The Queen, her two advisors, her mage, and her heir apparent."
"So it's a monarchy?"
"Very much so."
Okay. That was a little more than he needed to know. A nice bit of trivia, maybe. But otherwise useless. Now, onto a subject he was very curious about. "Okay. What about the troll? My weapon's made of iron and it didn't do anything to stop him."
"They are very resistant to pain. Their muscles are as good as any armor. And they're strong..."
Gojyo fingered the growing bruise on his neck, "Yeah. Tell me about it...One more question. Why couldn't Gat do anything to stop her during the Torture Double Feature?"
"He can't. His people have a preexisting deal with Fae. They don't interfere with the affairs of Fae and in return growth of their crops is granted all year long."
Nodding to himself Gojyo processed the information. It was all nice and dandy to store away for future use, but it didn't seem to help his current situation much...
With a sigh he extinguished his cigarette on the porch. This night was turning from bad to worse. Sanzo was out, Goku was out, Hakkai was out for the count. And now he couldn't rely on the gun-wielding bodyguard either. That left only one feasible source of backup for this insane little mission:
God that was such a shitty idea! The priest's subtle remarks were even worse than Sanzo's blunt distain. Every other word out of his mouth seemed to be an insult thinly veiled by an airhead persona.
But none of that changed the fact that right then Hazel was the best he could do. Not only did the priest seem to have background knowledge of these faeries, and to have already dealt with them on other occasions, but there was also that kick oriented combat style. Gojyo had once seen the human easily match Hakkai in hand-to-hand, and he was easily as acrobatic as Goku.
The pros of taking Hazel along with him won out. Yes, it would be annoying as hell. But Gojyo really liked the idea of living to regret his decision. So if his pride had to take a couple hits for the team then that was fine by him.
Gojyo sucked his cigarette down to the filter before flicking it to the ground. He wouldn't openly ask Hazel's assistance, but it was clear the bishop wanted to come along anyway. Otherwise he'd be inside shouting, or praying or whatever the hell it was he did. "Well," Gojyo said, "I figure I'll start at the information mainframe for the entire community. Everyone goes there, gossipers and loose-lipped snitches included. And I'm sure some word's got out about a guy with faerie blood and a half demon. People like that tend to stand out."
The bishop nodded, "And where, pray tell, might that be at?"
Gojyo shot him a quick smirk, "The bar. What else?"
The only bar in the area was a small but well kept tavern. Illuminated almost entirely by lamp and candlelight. It cast a warm glow around the place that reflected off the amber wood all around them. Gojyo's first thought was that it was an inherently bad idea to have: candles, booze, and a building made out of wood. But all the same it gave the air a calming atmosphere. Not the kind of place you'd think someone would want to get violent in. Dark so it was easy on the eyes, but still well lit.
It was late at night, so there weren't many people there. The only exception being a middle-aged man. Long since passed out at a table with a half-empty bottle of whiskey still clutched in his hand. Ouch, Gojyo'd been there a time or two.
That was when he saw her. Standing behind the bar she was busy cleaning glasses. She was pretty, really pretty. With a mass of dark hair pulled up into a loose ponytail, with facial features that could only be described as 'cute'. She was classic girl-next-door look. But, she had an air about her too. Like she was on the side of the world-weary folks such as himself.
Just his kind of lady.
Confidently he strode up to the bar and sat down, "Hi." He said simply and politely.
"Hey..." She said, looking up from cleaning glasses.
"Not yet. What can I get you fine gentlemen?" She said in a voice that was almost a throaty purr.
She was just like every bartender Gojyo had ever met. Calm and carrying a kind of quiet that would allow her to listen in on all kinds of conversations that would go on in a bar. "You got vodka?" Gojyo asked.
She snorted, "Take a guess."
"Right, sorry...it gets so late at night and my brain drifts towards the "ditz" lane."
"Amen to that..." she whispered, quietly. "Anything for your friend?"
Gojyo was about to reflexively claim that he was not, indeed, friends with Hazel. For once that night he actually managed to bite his tongue and keep it from getting him into trouble.
Instead, Hazel spoke with a soft, charming smile. "Four shots of whiskey if you will..."
Gojyo almost laughed, "I thought you could only take that Red Wine o' yours?"
"Yes, I do prefer a glass of wine to anything else...but considerin' I'll be spendin' all night with you I'm sure I'll need somethin' a little stronger to get me by."
"You folks just passing through?" The bartender asked, in that sultry voice. It was just the kind of voice Gojyo could easily imagine calling his name-
Focus, moron! Focus!
"Yes. I recon you could say that..."
She poured their drinks, "What brings you to a town like this?"
"Shit happened..." Gojyo said. "Though the real question is what's a gorgeous thing like you doing in a place like this?"
She gave him a wry smile, "Shit happened..."
The both of them shared a quick laugh as she poured him a glass of vodka and put it behind the counter. "Well, sweetheart, I'm sure you've got a name..."
She glanced up quickly, as if evaluating him. Gojyo didn't blame her, if he was a pretty girl working in a place where people got drunk, he'd want to think twice about handing over his name to some dashing rogue.
"Sulin," She said after a moment.
"Well, hello, Sulin." He downed a sip of the drink, "So tell me Sulin. I bet weird shit happens around here all the time. Little town like this? I'm sure you've got some strange local legends."
"There's supposed to be a ghost that haunts the old bridge. Aside from that nothing immediately leaps to mind."
Gojyo was contemplating whether or not to specifically ask about faeries or demon activity, when Hazel made the decision for him. "Faeries dear, we're talkin' 'bout faeries."
Amazingly, that invoked the strongest response out of her all night. She went stiff the second the word left Hazel's mouth. But only for a heartbeat. If Gojyo had blinked he would have missed it.
"Don't be silly, faeries aren't real."
Gojyo hoped his disappointment wasn't too obvious. Damn, he was really hoping to get lucky after he saved his own ass, and here he goes and finds that the prettiest girl in town's lying to him. Never a good way to start off a relationship, even a one-night one. On the bright side at least he had a lead to go on now.
He and Hazel both finished their drinks, warmly chatting with Sulin as they went. Hazel paid for them, once it was realized that Gojyo didn't have the Sanbushin's credit card on him. It had to be handed to the bishop, he was cool from the standpoint that he could continue to have a conversation with someone after it was very clear that they were lying to you.
After paying for their drinks they left, as soon as they were out of earshot of the bar Hazel was the first to speak, as Gojyo lit up yet another cigarette. The fact that it bugged Hazel made it taste all the sweeter. "So, what do you think?" He asked.
"She knows something..." Gojyo took note of how cool it was that he managed to hit a bull's eye first try.
"It's a place to start."
"So, let me guess, we wait for her to leave."
"Yep, she's a lead," Gojyo blew out a mouthful of smoke into Hazel's face, "So lets see where she leads us."
VVVVV Chapter End
AN: Alright. I know this chapter was a little boring. Anyway, I promise Gojyo's day will get bad again with the next chapter. Stay tuned. R&R