A/N: Has a companion fic 35.

Warnings: none. Worksafe.

Disclaimer: I know it, you know it, and Kazuya Minekura-sama knows it too.


53

It was strange, Gojyo thought, watching the scenery zoom by, how their lives had changed in the past few years. They had started out as complete strangers back then, partial enemies even, yet now they were fighting side by side, knowing that someone would always be there to watch their back, to cover up for them. And soon it could change.

But would it? And should it? Those were the questions that haunted not only Gojyo, but the other three members of the group as well, he was sure. Finally there was an end to their journey in sight, and more often than not the questions about what would their life be like after all of this was over came to mind. Yes, it was true that they lived their lives as they were, took each day as it came, and did not spare much thought to what tomorrow would be like. But now that the end of their journey was almost around a corner, the thoughts came unwanted.

And Gojyo wondered what their journey east would be like. What their old home would look like. Could they still recognize it? And the girls he had dated... Would they still remember him? Would they still be single? Or did they already have families with kids? His old life seemed like a dream now. Oftentimes Gojyo had to wonder how he could live like that – drifting from day to day with no real purpose, no other meaning than to win some money for survival, find another pretty face to spend the evening (and, if he got really lucky, the night as well) with, and avoid any unnecessary trouble. Would he go back to his old ways upon reaching his old home? Or has this journey changed him too much?

For they had changed. All of them had. Earlier they had been on their own, but now they were all together, looking out for each other if the need ever arose. They had all been running from something. Gojyo himself, for example, had been running from the routine his life had turned into. And now he wondered if he wanted to go fall back into the rhythm of predictable days when the only thing new was people's faces that slipped by and never stayed around long enough. The environment always remained the same, though.

No strings attached, but he had been bound. Freedom, but he had been living inside a cage.

He was a hero now, one of the four saviours that cleansed the world from demon presence. At least that was how they were seen as in many villages and towns. But it came for a price. It always came for a certain price. The façades they put up to show to the world... Turning it all in a big joke, turning killing in an "exercise". At times he wondered – how, exactly, did that make them any different from those they killed. It was all about surviving and staying alive, yes. But something... There was always this indistinguishable something that hovered above the four of them like a curse. One thing he knew for sure – even though viewed as a hero, he would never flaunt about the battles they'd fought and won because they had paid dearly for all of them.

He had met girls that would gladly listen to the stories of how many he'd killed. Of course, they were all human girls that saw demons as monstrous and murderous creatures. But who would be able to explain what was it like if you had to kill someone you had known before, even been friends with? The madness had spread far and wide, there were only seldom demons retaining sanity these days, and most of the time they did not happen to cross paths. The farther West they went, the worse situations they got in, and the louder and more obnoxious their behaviour became. Sometimes Gojyo wondered if the people they met were really that blind. Could they not see past the fake exteriors? For they were fake. He picked fights with Goku because that was what they were supposed to do, Sanzo yelled and shot at them because that was what everyone expected him to do, and Hakkai was dropping excuses about their horrible behaviour and smiling that plastic smile that got only worse as the time went by. They were all tired and wanted to end the journey as fast as they could.

And soon it would be finally over. Soon enough they could leave all the killing behind their backs and head east. At long last they had gotten some credible information on how far away their destination was. This morning they had even been able to see it from afar and now they were only moments away from the source of all the calamities that had befallen the once peaceful world.

In a matter of hours they could be done and over with the whole "Go West, save the world" ordeal and could finally return to the lives they had once led. That is, if they could ever fit back in in what they had been some distant time ago. He would wait and see because, really, – there was no other option.

At least that was what one Sha Gojyo thought, being fifty-three kilometres away from the place they had tried to reach for years, always getting sidetracked one way or the other. Today was not going to be the case, though.