title: Beautiful World
summary: Sanzo knows that things always change. He also knows this little exercise in peace cannot last. But here and now they are alive and that's all that matters. A post-journey fic.
AN: Written for the Vault's songfic contest. Set to Float by Bush (and inspired by Lucky by Bif Naked).
Betaed by Rroselavy - thank you hun, you rock!
"Look, Sanzo! I found raspberries!" Goku is standing barefoot on the sunny terrace, smiling his most radiant smile. Sanzo folds the newspaper and obediently follows the excited monkey into the kitchen, where he washes out every single one – only the prettiest, Sanzo is willing to bet – and lets them tumble into a clean bowl. Stupid monkey.
Sanzo allows Goku to tug him back to the sunny spot in the living room and watches him settle on the couch, the bowl in hand. Goku pats the settee invitingly and Sanzo stretches out, his head pillowed on a bony monkey thigh. He tolerates the unhealthy fascination the moron has for feeding him, even if the occasional jibe still escapes his mouth.
"They're so pretty," Goku says, "So pretty and red…" he's holding up a raspberry in his stained fingers. It is pretty indeed. The golden afternoon sun spills all over the crimson fruit, haloing it, the beams refracting in the droplets of water. Sanzo rolls his eyes, but doesn't protest when the pretty ends up at his lips. The stupid monkey smiles brightly at him, and continues to feed him like it's the best thing anyone could ever think of doing. Perhaps in his silly primate brain it is. Sanzo flicks his tongue, catching Goku's fingers. They taste of raspberries. So does his mouth, both their mouths.
He's probably right up there with talking to trees and flowers and fishes, Sanzo thinks and almost snorts. Almost, but not quite, because he knows that he ranks a little higher than trees and flowers and fishes, even though it irks him that it's only a little higher.
Given the fascination the monkey displays, Sanzo fervently hopes Goku never thinks of bringing flowers to their bed. Raspberries, fine, even though they inevitably end up smeared all over them both and are a pain to wash out of the sheets. He draws the line at non-edibles, no matter how pretty. He didn't think to include plants when he'd demanded that no fuzzy creature be allowed inside, either. Not that it helped – any half-dead kitten, or puppy, or cub, or bird is brought in anyway and nursed to health. There've been blessedly few, though, thanks in no small part to their unreachable surroundings, and Goku at least managed to keep most of them out of the bedroom.
"He's still high as a kite, I notice," Gojyo says later that day. "Any higher and his feet will lose contact with the ground." They are drinking tea, the three of them, watching Goku talk excitedly to a small yellow bird. He is sitting on the wooden bridge stretched over the koi pond, his feet dangling in the cool water.
Sanzo says nothing in reply.
"His state doesn't seem to change, at all."
Sanzo's hand tightens on the cup. "He's fine."
"I didn't mean to imply he wasn't," Hakkai amends gently, knowing that this is one of the few (oh blessed miracle!) things that gets Sanzo angry these days. Goku is fine, that's true. He is physically healthy, and as close to happy as he could ever be. The monkey has always been easy to please.
"We really should move," Gojyo says, finishing off the tea. He sighs in relief as he does – tea is really not his thing. "I'm sick of almost getting killed on the way up. These mountains are murderous, I swear."
"Don't be any more of an idiot," Sanzo says, and Gojyo barely manages to contain a snort. He's still finding it massively freakish that he got promoted to be the brains of the outfit, on the grounds of the other three being insane. "And we're not moving," Sanzo finishes.
"Not far enough yet?" Hakkai asks in that insipid way of his.
"Maybe when he stops breaking down, crying, whenever some moron in the next village over gets a paper cut, I'll consider it." Sanzo's voice carries the suggestion that he would gleefully kill every moron in the next village over, if he thought that would help.
"No shit." The hysterics are not really funny, Gojyo thinks as he reluctantly reaches for the kettle. There's little alcohol to be had, these days.
"I hear they are quite frantic about finding a new Fighting Prince. The gods. Well, what's left of them."
"They won't dare come here."
"Probably not," Hakkai agrees, looking out into the yard of the abandoned temple they've made home. Goku is lying on his stomach in the middle of it now, observing what had to be a procession of ants. Behind him the golden sun flickers on the calm surface of the pond. Some of the light gets caught in his hair, flickering in the still-wild strands. He looks every inch the god he was supposed to be.
"He sure did take dying in stride. Except from the part where he went nuts."
The cup nearly shatters in Sanzo's hands. No insults follow, strangely enough.
"Well, considering he's going to be doing so much of it, I suppose it behoves him to practice," Hakkai tells Gojyo, smiling.
"Do you want me to shoot you?" Sanzo asks, carefully avoiding the d-word.
"That would carry a lot more weight if your gun was within grabbing distance, you know," Gojyo informs him and grins. He still has the most infuriating smile. Sanzo growls something obscene and turns his attention to his cup. The gun is still functional; he's made sure it is. It is also under lock and key, hopefully where Goku can't reach. Or won't think of looking, same thing.
He's had enough nightmares, thank you very much.
Chief among them is the day their journey ended, not that it ever leaves his mind. Not because it proved him to be a spectacular failure in the Sanzo priest department, he's surprisingly okay with that. Then again, failure is a gross understatement. The whole Gyumaoh mess, it's been a catastrophe, on a global scale. Almost brilliant in its execution, Nii wasn't a fucking genius for nothing. Because who better to destroy the fragile balance of Shangri-La than those sent to save it. So poetic and so twisted.
Sanzo admitted to himself he'd felt a kind of grim satisfaction and not a small amount of thrill when the five sutras and the machinery had come alive at his command. A man could get drunk on that much power and it had been all his, for one moment. He could have made the world fall to its knees before him. But even with all the strength of the world at his fingertips, all he he'd been aware of had been the cold, dead monkey in his arms. Nothing would have been enough to make up for that. Ever. Eternal peace, every god, every demon, every human on the planet wouldn't have been enough.
Sanzo didn't regret, for one second, throwing it all to hell. Not even when Goku woke up the first time, screaming, crying, hurting, for every sentient being in Shangri-La and beyond. Not even when the shock had worn off and it became apparent Sanzo's little monkey was somehow broken. As it turned out, mortality wasn't for novices, it required a lifetime of practice. Sanzo didn't regret a thing, though, even when he realised his own sanity must have been part of the deal. Nothing sane would have enjoyed ripping a man's heart out, of that he was quite sure. He really shouldn't have spent all that time in Hakkai's company. As Gojyo termed it, he'd managed to pull such a spectacular Gonou, that the original had paled in comparison. He'd smirked as he heard that, and hadn't that been the best sign that he'd lost his marbles?
Besides, Nii deserved no better, and he'd only done it because neither Hakkai nor Gojyo got to him first. It wasn't like Sanzo noticed, though. All that he cared about then was that it worked; the revival was successful. Goku was alive, was breathing, and his heart was beating again. He didn't care that the world was falling apart in ruins and that the gods wanted the four of them dead, their souls ripped apart. Fuck them all. They had no hold over them anymore. Sanzo still feels like grinning when he thinks about it. Take that, smug motherfuckers. You don't get to play with our lives anymore.
Goku is alive and mortal, and his, until the end of time, even if his mind is very much like a stained glass window – lovely and colourful, but still only a mass of broken pieces painstakingly glued together. Sanzo knows there will be other lives, other chances.
He knows, of course, that this little exercise in peace cannot last. Sooner or later, someone down below will start a war, or kill and maim enough people that he won't be able to shield Goku from the carnage. Or, equally as probable, Goku will find the gun, or a knife, or a sharp piece of glass and will be just a little too fascinated by the pretty, pretty red flowing from his body to notice the pain. When that happens, Sanzo knows he'll wake up to find the monkey in a pool of his own blood, dead or dying. He knows that this time he won't be able to do anything but watch.
It's okay though. He's ready for that. There are enough bullets in his gun.