Disclaimer: Kazuya Minekura owns Wild Adapter. I do not.
Notes: This is the by-product of reading Saiyuki Reload before my Eastern Religions class and then being subjected to the most contradictory lecture on Buddhism in the history of modern man. I suppose I'm paying good money for a college education, with which I will write epic fanfiction. Lmao. Also, this story takes places between the events in Vol. 5 of the manga and then where Vol. 2 "picks up." Damn Minekura and her backwards Star Wars complex!
If you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha. If you meet your father, kill your father. Free of everything you are bound by nothing. Live the life that is given to you.
I read that in one of the random books that catches my eye on the overstuffed and dusty shelves that clutter one of my favorite haunts, a hole-in-the-wall shop near West Yokohama Crossing. That turn of phrase has been rolling around in my head for hours now, and I cannot for the life of me figure out what it means.
I've always considered myself, rather pompously perhaps, to be an intelligent man. I'm not exactly educated in the traditional sense of the word--getting thrown in jail in the middle of my not-so-enterprising middle school career is the culprit, I think. I wouldn't undo what transpired between myself, a broken pipe, and that no-account bastard of Anna's, but my days of structured government education ended with a sound like wet blood and pain.
So I read, now. I've found that books can teach you practically anything worth knowing. They opened to me the worlds of mahjong, medieval literature, and religion. They taught me how to cook, basic first aid, the art of laundry, and the ins-and-outs of firearms. As loathe as I am to admit it, they afford me experience with the world minus the hassle of actually dealing with living, breathing bodies.
I've never much cared for people.
But several months ago, I came across a new problem not unlike an algebra equation, and--try as I might--no text in publication could assist me in handling him. If I am the sum of every positive and negative experience that I've had, every fight won and every book devoured, then Tokitoh has to be absolutely nothing--the absolute value of zero. He awoke from weeks of near-comatose sleep with barred teeth and claws, angry violet eyes, and the most indignant, ungratefully sharp tongue I've ever encountered. He has no memories, no past life to account for his rough-around-the-edges personality, his instinctive distrust of anything that moves.
And as I used whatever means possible to keep his emaciated, skinny ass alive, I read. I tore through book after magazine after medical journal, searching for an answer to the riddle that was this stray cat. Veterinary medicine, abnormal psychology, drug indexes--none of these contained useful information. Books had, for the first time in my life, failed me.
Tokitoh grew stronger, slowly at first, and then with an increasing appetite for anything and everything. Video games and comic books were his teachers and he consumed them with a voracity that amused me, his guarded violet eyes hungry for knowledge. It was as if he wanted to reclaim the time that had been stolen away from his agile mind, restless and hyperactive. So when he read through my entire bookshelf one week, tossing volumes by the wayside in his own personal little quest for undeniable truth, I set out to resupply. And I found myself in that moldy old bookseller, glaring idly at a piece of Buddhist philosophy on a yellowed page, and my mind came to a screeching halt.
In context I understand what this ideology is getting at. Without attachments one isn't held down and oppressed by the weight of obligation, of wants and desires. But it's very paradoxical, because these are basic elements of human nature, aspects of our hearts and minds so thoroughly engrained into who and what we are that to attempt to sever these ties with our most primitive of necessities would spell disaster, madness. To put it rather ineloquently, our desires and baser needs are what make us human--frail and pathetic. So I take a step back, purchase the book, and as I trudge through the snow I try very carefully to pin down my one most sought-after want in this world.
Above all else, what is it that I'm striving towards? I have to figure out this part, because it's crucial to the overall riddle. Determine what you're seeking most in this life and destroy it. Only a monk could find that idea pleasant.
Once back inside the relative warmth and natural disaster area that I call 'home,, Tokitoh gives me an oddly-arched eyebrow when I toss the book down at his feet where he's sprawled, half-dressed, on the cold wooden floor of the living room. Empty snack wrappers, plastic game cases, and what look to be failed attempts at origami constructed crudely from my mail surround his thin frame. "What's this?" he asks quietly, without looking at the title embossed in faded gold letters down the spine.
I stoop down to collect the evidence of his day's activities from the floor and into the wastebasket. It isn't so much that I mind the fact that he's a veritable isolated tornado of destruction and chaos; I've gotten used to it. I just prefer having electricity to run our aging heater, and without the bills I can't exactly keep the finances straight. He doesn't shy away from my relative proximity anymore, not since he snapped my fucking arm in half. It's still a bit sore when it rains, but it's been out of that sling for weeks. "It's a book," I answer matter-of-factly, squinting at the mutilated paper in my hands.
With a wry snort he rolls onto his back right below where I'm bent at the waist and trying to determine if the sorry excuse for a rabbit he made is in fact what's left of the power bill, and he looks up at me with a strange emotion in his expressive violet eyes. It's an awkward combination of distrust and hope, and I have to look away from it at first because it looks out-of-place there. "You've never given me anything before," he points out slowly.
I frown down at him, my hands full of shredded postage and my eyes locked onto his. I've given him plenty of things--a place to live, a warm bed, clothes that almost fit, as much food as he can eat. But in the murky world of Tokitoh-logic, those things aren't meaningful gestures. I truly believe that he thinks he's entitled to my apartment and therefore my shit. This book laying on the floorboards beside him, though...
"What do you want for it?" he asks nervously. I think my blank gaze is unnerving him. He calls me a pervert and 'creepy' almost every day. I've gotten used to it, to a point where it's almost an endearment coming from him.
I shake my head in amusement and lean down until my face is inches from his, and I can feel him tense as I purposefully invade his personal space. Typical cat. He had no damned reservations against breaking my arm and then clinging to me for half an hour, sobbing his little guts out into my chest, but right now that characteristic flight-or-fight response has clicked into overdrive in his mind. He still doesn't trust me as much as I'd like, but he's getting there. I don't know exactly what the hell happened to him before I carried his ass home, but someone broke this beautiful kid.
"It's a gift," I drawl quietly. For a long moment he just stares at me like a deer in headlights.
"People always want something when they give you stuff," he says inarticulately, as if it's just an understood reality in the world. Well, I'm definitely not keeping him around for the thrilling philosophical discussions, now am I?
There's just something about him, something that I'm having difficulty labeling, that pulls me in against all ration and reason, and I feel that I might suffocate on it. I just can't seem to pull away from him, though. I suppose it would be the proverbial equivalent of stuffing your own dick into a paper shredder and smiling. Maybe it's the defeated look on his face when he watches people out the window, or as he walks closely behind me outside; he has no faith left in the human race as a species. And perhaps I'm the least likely candidate to restore his ability to trust, but I just can't handle him turning those sad violet eyes on me anymore.
I reach down, against my better judgment, and drop the pieces of paper to the ground, a menagerie of distorted parchment animals near his head, and I run my cigarette-stained fingers through his hair. I wait for a frightened punch, a flare of anger, a recoil that never comes. The strands are soft silken black, and I feel the corner of my lip curve into a smile as he leans into the touch. The surprise on his handsome face makes my stomach clench painfully. He had been expecting me to strike him, and had flinched away--hand-shy--like an abused animal. When was the last time someone laid a hand on this stray with anything but negative intentions?
"Tokitoh, you have nothing that I want," I reassure him quietly, calmly, though even as the words escape my mouth I feel a fierce aversion to them, know that what I've said simply isn't true. No, Tokitoh possesses something, a quality about him that I desperately want to touch, hold, stake an irrefutable claim to, but it isn't something that I believe he can offer me.
I'm just too fucking dangerous.
And it hits me like a bullet between the eyes that I've completed the first stage of solving that anomalous riddle. What do I desire more than anything else in Yokohama? The way that Tokitoh arched into my hand just now, like it was the nicest fucking thing anyone's ever done for him, and he trusted me beyond doubt. Like he wanted me, needed me here with him. It isn't just that I need someone else to make me feel validated; Komiya tried that, to no avail, and then died like an animal in front of me.
Free of everything, hm? Yeah, Komiya really was given freedom, but I don't think it was much to his liking.
No, I'm fairly sure this bizarre penchant of mine to be needed is being realized in this scrawny, temperamental, completely exasperating stray who's looking up at me with the dawning revelation on his face that I'm not going to hurt him, to take from him what isn't willingly given. And then he smiles at me, a genuine, toothy expression that I've never seen directed at me before. He's beaming up at me even as the tension drains from his lean muscles, as he relaxes back against the floor and reaches up tentatively to touch my face with rapt fascination in his gorgeous eyes.
He was the one to initiate the physical contact in this awkward relationship, after all, though I find this a bit easier to handle than him curled naked against me, oblivious to the world.
And maybe it's that strange familiarity of his skin against mine that makes me wonder if he's going to be the one thing in this shithole of a city that I simply cannot clear out of my way with molten bullets or cigarette smoke or a cold, indifferent smile. Maybe it's a bit of prophetic inspiration on my part, but something buried deep in the recessed archives of my intellect screams at me to run from him, to put as much distance as I can stand between my hands and that soft, messy black hair. I know instinctively that I cannot leave him behind.
Kill the Buddha, hm? A denial of worldly cravings to achieve peace and an end to mortal suffering, and all that I have to do is kill him.
I don't feel any more complacent nor achieved for having attained this little enlightenment. His fingers ghost along my jawline, down my throat, rest experimentally over my heart. I can't help the almost terrified smile that curves my lips as I watch him, and the honest curiosity in his face is slowly being replaced with a different emotion, something foreign to us both, and it translates in my muddled brain a bit too slowly. Too late. I can't kill him and I can't run from him. Not when those violet eyes are gazing up at me like I'm the greatest thing since Wonderbread, like I'm responsible for reminding him of how baser human compassion can feel.
If Tokitoh really is the Buddha, I am well and truly fucked.
Figured I'd try first-person POV. I love Kubo-chan so damned much!
Also, the title of the story is an old Sanskrit word for the wheel of reincarnation. In Buddhism, to achieve enlightenment means to 'get off the wheel', so-to-speak; it's an end to the cycle of death and rebirth. Now who said fanfic couldn't be educational?