For a Mother's Love

D M Evans

Disclaimer – not mine. All rights belong to Kazuya Minekura et al, no profit made, just a little fun

Rating – PG-13, worksafe

Pairing – none

Summary – Gojyo takes a good hard look inside himself

Time Line – pre journey West but after meeting Hakkai (includes characters from Reload #4) and spoilery for all of Gojyo's past and his brother's.

Author's Note – written for evillittledog's birthday. Thanks to Mjules for the beta

The downward spiral all started with a field of fall flowers, reds and purples like sunset touching earth. The little purple gems didn't bother him so much as the red, deeply beautiful. Red, the color of blood, the color of penitence, the color of his hair and eyes. In the back of his head, he heard an annoying son of a bitch passing as a priest asking him did he think the only thing that was red was blood? Maybe not but Sanzo's voice wasn't loud enough to overwhelm the shrill one that threaded through his nightmares, the one telling him everything bad was his fault.

Staring out over the waving blossoms, Gojyo traced a finger along the scars on his face. All he had ever wanted to do was make his mother smile. He had been too young to know how impossible that was; how unfair it had been of his father to dump his bastard half-bred child on his wife. Gojyo would have been better off in an orphanage. Maybe they wouldn't have known what his coloring meant or at least wouldn't have seen it as a slap to the face.

Father faded from the picture all too soon, leaving a fractured woman with her sons, one of whom she could never love. Sometimes Gojyo wondered why he didn't just run away. When he was small, he thought maybe his mother would worry about him. Now, Gojyo realized she would have been relieved to have his face – so much like his father's – out of her sight. She wouldn't have shed a tear to have seen the backside of him.

Gojyo reached down and viciously tore up a handful of the red flowers and headed for his apartment with the pathetic bouquet. He hadn't left because he wanted to be loved. The child in him had been desperate for some kind of warmth and the best he had done was the brotherly affection Jien had shown him. Gojyo hated not knowing where his brother was. Whenever he left town, Gojyo looked for signs of Jien, never finding them. He had destroyed their whole family just by existing. Mother was right; it would have been better if he had never been born.

Tossing the flowers into a glass with some water, Gojyo set them on the table and grabbed a beer out of the fridge. There were no signs of Hakkai. He was probably out teaching a monkey to count on his toes. A sudden blast of jealousy hit Gojyo. At least Hakkai had known what love felt like. Even that prick of priest had the unconditional devotion of his pet chimp. What had he ever had? A brother who had to be cautious about showing him any scrap of affection lest Mom take it out on them both. He swallowed down the beer and got another.

Maybe that's why Jien was so long gone from his life. Gojyo could understand why Mom hated him so much, why he went to bed covered in cuts and bruises. There was no mystery there, his dirty half-bred blood. He wanted desperately to believe his blood didn't matter but it did. He was soiled from the moment he took his first breath, the kind of filth that could never be washed away. And his dirtiness soiled his brother's hands, too. Everything Jien had done for him had left a mark. Why his brother had cut him out of his life was no mystery either.

The things Mom made Jien do, the horrible creaking of bed springs, the grunts and sharp cries, Gojyo still heard them in the lonely nights. His stomach would knot up and he'd be reminded why his own relationships would never get beyond a few warm nights and a couple of wasted condoms. Who would want someone from a family this fucked up? It wasn't like they'd have to deal with a deranged mother-in-law or something but what if they wanted to know about his past? He could never tell them the truth. He would always have to suffer in silence knowing his mother had molested his brother and Jien had allowed it to protect him. Jien had given everything of himself to keep Gojyo safe, his body and his soul. How had he ever brought himself to kill their mother to save Gojyo? Maybe it would have been better to just let him die instead. Who would have missed a mutt like him?

Gojyo slammed the empty beer can down next to the flowers and he went to the fridge, shot gunning the next beer before grabbing a fourth. If he were Jien, he'd have abandoned him, too. Gojyo grabbed a handful of his long hair, yanking at it. Sanzo was wrong, this was contrition. He wore his hair long in part as penitence just like Hakkai had said. It was also a badge of honor. This was what he was, taboo, and fuck anyone who had a problem with it. He had grown up strong having to fight all the time as boy. There were those who knew what his coloring meant and inevitably those were the types who would make him suffer for it. Maybe he could cut it short, bleach it and no one would know but that felt like a betrayal of everything he was.

Getting up yet again, Gojyo just gathered all the beer he could carry. It wouldn't have time to get warm, not with the mood he was in. He looked at the wild flowers so like the little red flowers carried home so innocently all those years ago. Now, far harder and more cynical, Gojyo had to wonder if the florist had been setting him up, getting a sick chuckle out of the half-breed boy carting around flowers the same blood-red as his hair and eyes. He hadn't understood. All Gojyo wanted was to see her smile. If not for Jien, she might have throttled him to death then and there and, even as a boy, he would have given his life willingly to bring her peace.

"Beginning to think you don't deserve it, bitch," he muttered, raising a beer can in her honor. "You could have given me away. Might have been someone out there who wanted me." The beer slipped down his throat so fast he could barely taste it. Wanted, that was the real problem, wasn't it? No one wanted him, not even himself. Most days he had learned to live with himself but he hadn't really ever learned to like himself. What was it he had said to Hakkai? He lived a punk's life. That was true. He deserved worthless friends like Banri. When Sanzo had used the word 'dirt rag' he had been offended on Hakkai's behalf more so than his own. What could he say? Sanzo hit close to home.

The drunker he got, the more worthless he felt. That was nothing new. Gojyo felt along the scars on his face again, remembering how he got them. He never understood how Jien had made the choice he did but maybe now…now Gojyo could almost comprehend it. Mom had been sick. Even if Gojyo were dead, she wouldn't get better. Jien had ended her suffering but had he ensured that he and his kid brother would be locked into torment of their own without hope of relief. Maybe forgiveness, that might be possible, right?

Maybe those red blossoms hit him so hard because he was beginning to see himself as worth something more than an ashtray to be used and forgotten. It was probably that damn Hakkai who was causing that transformation inside him. He lived so much better than Gojyo and made him want to change, not everything but at least a little. Maybe it was time to learn to put Mom away, bury her memory where she couldn't hurt him any more. Maybe. But for now he was content to drink her away, drown her and forget however briefly that he was a mongrel and would always be one.

X X X

The fact that Gojyo was passed out on the table surrounded by his empties, lucky he hadn't set fire to the house with his cigarettes didn't surprise Hakkai, at least not any more. Still, there was a strange sadness he could almost taste hanging in the air. Maybe it was the way a lonely looking bouquet of red wild flowers had been tipped over by Gojyo's limp hand and had spilled into his hair.

Levering Gojyo up, Hakkai dragged the unconscious young man into his bed room and let him fall on the bed. Shutting the door behind him, Hakkai went back and picked up all the flowers. Giving them fresh water, he set them on the window sill and went to find his own bed. If Gojyo wanted to tell him what was bothering him, he would. If not, then Hakkai was content to just pick up the pieces. It was the least he could do.