A SAIYUKI FAN FICTION
Disclaimer: This fanfic is based on Saiyuki by Minekura Kazuya. There is no profit to be made and no copyright infringement was intended.
Ratings : PG13 (I think ^^;, violence, no adult content, sorry folks ; )
Timeline : The story starts before Genjo Sanzo's first meeting with Son Gokuu
Spoiler : A tiny bit - mostly from the Shuen story line
[5 weeks later…]
Sanzo tightened the straps of his sandals and slung his carry bag over his shoulder. He took the walking staff leaning on the wall and flexed his right fingers experimentally around it. Still a little stiff, but acceptable. The healer had assured him that he would regain full use of that arm in time.
"Leaving so soon?"
Sanzo glanced at the door where his host stood, her bulk half-blocking the exit. He snorted and replied, not without humor, "The sooner I get out of your hair, the better it is for both of us. I don't think I made a very good patient."
She smiled, her plain face warm with dry amusement. "Correction. You made a horrible patient." She laughed when Sanzo rolled his eyes with exasperation. "But don't think that we're not grateful." Her voice softened. "We've been praying for years that the gods will send someone to help us purge the terror in the forest. Seems like the gods have answered, even if you are not quite what we had expected."
Sanzo twitched irritably. "Yes, I heard that a lot."
The woman's smile only widened. "But I do wish you would stay a bit longer. You were very lucky that a traveling chi-healer was visiting our place. Without his skills, you would have died or lose the use of your broken arm. The gods must be looking after you, Sanzo-sama."
Sanzo kept his mouth firmly shut on that. His opinions on deities in general were not what one would expect from someone anointed as one of the Sanzo-hoshi. He doubted that the gods had lifted a finger to help him, but he did owe someone at least some part of his survival, as much as it made him surly to dwell on it.
"Of course," the woman continued blithely, "if not for that sweet young boy, we would never have gotten our hands on you in time. To think that he managed to drag you out of the woods all by himself… When he came running in the middle of the night for help, he was already in such a bad state too…"
"Yes, yes…," Sanzo cut in, "you've been telling me that since I woke up. If you don't mind, I need to go now. Thank you for all your help."
She sniffed at him. "Well, very well. But have you thanked him yet? I don't think I've heard you say even three civil words to him since you woke up, and he's been by your bedside every single moment until you chased him away."
She rode right over Sanzo's attempts to speak up. "It may not be my place to say this, but it's really not acceptable behavior. The poor boy obviously looked up on you as a substitute family as some sort, maybe because you saved him from that murderous youkai. And with him losing all memory of where he comes from, or even what his name is, he needs all the emotional support he can get, until you can find him his real family. And here you've been treating him as if you would rather he doesn't exist." And there she stood with her faintly accusing eyes, arms folded in front of her considerable bosom and looking in all the world like a mother scolding an errant child.
The ironic thing was that he could not argue the finer points of her accusations without blowing their hastily concocted cover story to hell. It also would have been easier to argue with her if some damned part of his conscience was not halfway inclined to agree with her.
"Look," he finally sighed. "I'll… remember… what you said. But it really is time for us to get going. Speaking of which, where is he?"
She inclined her head to the back. "Over at grandma Wang's house. She's been telling him the old stories." She smiled again, displeasure forgotten. "He's the only one that didn't already know all of grandma Wang's stories. And it does her good, to have such an enthusiastic audience."
Sanzo nodded at her and deftly slipped out the doorway before she started pestering him again. Outside, the sun beat down strongly out of deep blue sky dotted with puffs of clouds. It was a perfect day for traveling and he was more than ready to continue his journey. Too much time had been wasted on the wrong trail, even if the one he had caught was as much as murderer as the one who had killed his master.
But first, he had something to pick up.
It was a short trip to the old woman's house, the storyteller that had first told of him of the legends of Gojyo-san. What a perfect waste of time that had turned out to be. The passing time must had twisted the truth out of recognition. Whoever or whatever the boy had been, it would have stretched credibility too much for him to be the one described in the legends. A coincidence, that was all it had been.
And that surge of alien power he had felt just before the Maten-Kyomon was unleashed had nothing at all to do with the monkey boy. Absolutely nothing.
He found both old story-teller and the boy on the shaded porch of her house. The boy was squatting on the dirt in front of the old grandmother, face turned up with rapt attention as he listened to the tremulous voice weaving another one of the old stories.
"Oy," he called out. The boy's head snapped to him, and he leapt to his feet with a cry.
"Sanzo, you're up? We going now?"
His speech had improved during his stay on the village. They had been more willing to tolerate his chatter, made more sympathetic by the mistaken belief that the boy had been a victim of the youkai's attack. The women in particular, from girls little older than the boy's apparent age to old grandmothers like the story-teller, adored him and spoiled him mercilessly. There was more flesh on that spare frame, not a small feat considering how much the little runt could pack in. The shirt and draw-string trousers he was wearing were not only decent, they were almost new. Sanzo remembered seeing one of the women sewing them up from her children's cast-offs.
As the boy bounded over to him, Sanzo scrutinized the large eyes critically. They were still that rich shade of brown, glints of gold only showing now and then when the sunlight hit them just right. He had no idea how the boy had managed that, and it irked him. It did not help that the boy could no more explain what it was he had done. When Sanzo had first woken up in the small room after the battle, the first thing he thought of was that the boy had brought him there. His second thought was that the saru must be dead, taken apart by enraged villagers who could not see beyond the golden eyes of a youkai. He had been stunned speechless when the boy had peeked up from the bedside where he had piled on his beddings, not the least because the familiar eyes confronting him was no longer that damning shade of gold, but the current rich brown.
When asked, he had only blinked and said – "You told me my eyes looked like youkai. So I changed 'em."
"Sanzo, grandma Wang tells me lots of good stories. They're so good, d'you want me tell you?"
"No," Sanzo curtly said, shuddering inward at the very thought of how many stories the boy had heard, and how many days of chatter that would translate to. He bowed instead to the old story-teller. "Thank you for taking care of this… boy… for me. It must have taxed your patience."
There was a distinct glint of merriment on the old woman's eyes. "Not at all, young man. It's so refreshing to find someone who is such a good listener. I've just been telling him the legend of Gojyo-san, the one that I've told you before. Unlike some people," she looked at him pointedly, "he does not run off in the middle of the story. In fact, he has asked me to re-tell it three times."
"Sanzo," the youkai boy bounced on his feet to get his attention. "Sanzo, I have a name now. My name is 'Go-kuu'! Son Gokuu."
Sanzo gaped at him, thunder-struck. His mind chased its own tails and entangled itself helplessly.
He dimly heard the old woman laughing in the background. "Oh, he liked that name, he really did. Just up and jumped after I told the tale for the second time, and insisted that he wanted that name for himself. I offered him so many other nice names to choose from, but he wouldn't change his mind."
Sanzo closed his mouth. Opened it and tried again. "Why'd you… choose that name?"
The boy cocked his head to one side, looking slightly puzzled. "Why… it's a nice name, right?"
"That's all?" Sanzo asked through dry throat.
For a moment, the eyes had looked distant, a hint of gold showing through the brown irises. "…yeah."
Of course. It was only a name to him. Nothing more. No other significance. Sanzo took a deep breath, cursed himself for a fool, and glared down at the small, brightly-grinning face below him. Son Gokuu. Seiten Taisei Son Gokuu – the legendary destroyer of heavenly courts.
When hell freezes over.
"I am most definitely not calling you that." He flatly declared. He turned on his heels and marched away. He could hear the old woman cackling like mad behind him and the boy wailing, "Why?"
"Do you even know what it meant?" He snapped back, not decreasing his pace at all.
"I know! It's got good meaning. Important meaning."
Sanzo stopped and glared at him. "What meaning?"
The youkai boy scrunched up his face and waved his hands, "Umm, empty… understanding emptiness… something… y'know… deep meaning…"
Sanzo snarled and marched on, ignoring the yelped cry to wait. "That's it. I'm calling you saru, that's closer to your level of intelligence anyway."
More wailings. "But I'm not an animal! Sanzo, ne… Sanzo-tebaa!!"
They were nearing the exit of the village, and to Sanzo's surprise, quite a crowd was gathering nearby. Apparently news of their leaving had spread and some of the residents, more than half of the female population, had come to say goodbye. He endured the well-wishings and thanks with as much grace as he could muster. A good thing that most of the well-wishers gave him respectful distance and did not attempt to touch him. The boy was another matter entirely. He was patted in the back, crushed to bosoms, and passed from one to another like some sort of well-loved pet mascot. There were lots of tears involved, lots of promises extracted to come back to them if the priest did not treat him well, and many gifts of bundled food boxes for the journey. Sanzo gritted his teeth and accepted an extra bundle of provisions shoved into his hands that came with warnings not to 'eat them all up and leave the poor boy starving'.
"Oy," he finally shouted to the boy, chattering happily in the middle of all the women. "We're going already!"
"Okay," the boy shouted back, extracted himself from the crowd, and waved back at them cheerfully. "Bye-bye, everyone! Thank you so much!"
A girl cupped her hands and shouted, loud enough to be heard from the other end of the village – "Sayonara, Gokuu!!"
Sanzo tripped himself on the perfectly even road.
A chorus of voices soon took up the cry, and shouts of 'genkidane, Gokuu', 'see you again, Gokuu', 'take care, Gokuu', filled the clear morning air.
Sanzo fixed his eyes on the horizon and grimly walked on without a backward look. In a very short while, a light pattering of footsteps sounded beside him and a hopeful voice called up to him. "Ne, Sanzo, where are we going?"
"You wouldn't know the place even if I told you."
"Ne, Sanzo, you haven't said my name yet."
"I told you I'm NOT calling you that."
"Why not? Why? Why?"
"Urusai - baka saru!"
"Oww! You don't hafta hit me!"
"Then stop yapping and start walking."
"Can I start eating the bento? I'm kinda hungry already…"
And so as they walked, the priest and the boy following behind him, the rising sun shone from the east and stretched their shadows towards the west. And two very different shadows merged together and meld into one, inseparable one from the other.
[Somewhere not too far away….]
"You know, Bousatsu-sama, are you sure what we've been doing is not against the rules somewhere?"
"You worry too much, Jiroushin. It's not like anyone else is watching. Besides, what is one to do when it gets too boring up here?"
"…nothing good ever comes up when you're bored…"
"Hmm? Did you say something?"
"Iya, just talking to myself, Kanzeon Bousatsu-sama. But why interfere so much? Why ask me to go down and heal that young priest? What does it matter if he's dead or alive?"
"Oh, Shijin, you have no imagination at all. You know whose incarnation that boy is."
"Actually, I do know. That's why I'm worried."
"Hmmph. Like I said, no imagination. And no sense of adventure. The three out of the four have not met together for the longest time, several incarnations now. Somehow, whenever they do meet, the most interesting things tend to happen. The timing and circumstances are looking right for another meeting this time. And when you throw in the last of the four… well, I have high hopes for them. What do you think?"
"… frankly, Bousatsu-sama, the thought frightens me. You know what happened the last time the four of them are together. I thought the Jade Emperor specifically ordered them broken up."
A smile. "Well, the Jade Emperor seemed to be preoccupied for the moment. And who knows, maybe another… shake-up… is exactly what we need right now."
A petal drifted down onto the still water of the sea of blooming lotuses, a vast expanse of the flowers stretching away into infinity. A soft voice drifted over the still air, over the flowers. "And may you succeed this time, where you have failed before… old friend."
OWARI – THE END
Naga did an impromptu victory dance Gaaahhh!! It's finally finished. C&C would be most welcomed ^__^