Disclaimer: Kazuya Minekura owns Saiyuki. I do not.

Warnings: Language.

Notes: Another Sanzo-centric one shot. Takes place after the "Rain" episode of Gensomaden, because I haven't managed to figure out if the 'Homura Arc' was made up for the anime or if it was in the manga somewhere...?



July 2009

You haven't slept this close to him in years, and you're still uncertain about whether or not you're really comfortable with his back pressed flush against your chest or your arms wrapped possessively around his slim waist.

Normally you shun physical contact and all of its worldly trappings. Women don't appeal to you sexually because of their emotions and frailty--that belief alone would probably enrage the feminist population of China, but you couldn't care less. You were raised in a Buddhist temple. Females weren't exactly plentiful. Men you never found too terribly interesting either. The legions that you've encountered tend to think with more biased regions of their anatomy or pure testosterone and that simply irritates you. Touching other people is something you do grudgingly, teeth grit and out of necessity--in battle, patching wounds after battle, hitting Goku between battles.

It isn't that you're disgusted by the contact; you just don't see the point. Touch leads to desire, desire leads to loss, loss leads to suffering. It's a vicious cycle. Rather than partake of it with the knowledge that you'll only suffer for it later you choose to avoid it altogether. Except now, curled around Goku like a ridiculous fucking security blanket, listening to his soft snoring and shaking your head at your own lack of willpower.

He wormed his way into your bed an hour ago, after Hakkai good-naturedly deposited him in your doorway. Apparently the stupid ape had tried to hide under the converted-demon's bunk and had then begged Gojyo shamelessly to let him share the kappa's tiny bed. He won't admit it but Goku is terrified of that odd-eyed nutcase Homura, scared that he'll make good on his threat to kidnap your party's resident black hole by force.

He's frightened of the god because he knows damned well that he can't defeat him, and Goku doesn't take well to things he can't break or kill with brute force.

You didn't have the heart to yell at him or tell him off when he rolled into a ball against your stomach and pleaded without inhibition for permission to stay. Something about the way he manages to stretch your name into a five-syllable whine crumbles your resolve like an old dilapidated building under a wrecking ball's force. It really grates on your nerves. Instead of hitting him with the nearest available blunt object you curled around him silently and listened to his breathing even out, felt the tension drain out of his lithe frame, and only then did you grudgingly slide your arms around him and reassure yourself that even if the War Prince himself stole into your room to rip Goku from your clutches, at least you'd know.

It's stupid, really stupid, but after the mutinous thoughts Homura planted in your charge's mind today you want to do more than just put a bullet in the scheming bastard. You've never really contemplated torturing someone into insanity-Gojyo doesn't count, you reason--but you've been toying with the idea of shoving wooden splints under Homura's fingernails, putting out cigarettes on his eyelids, tying his sociopathic ass to Jeep and dragging him behind you to India. It's irrational of you, but so is the way you've buried your face in Goku's thick brown hair, the way he fits so snugly against you.

He's never questioned you before like he did today. His loyalty to you has been dogged and unconditional and limitless, until Homura made him stop and really think about it. Any time Goku puts his brain to something it gets maimed and mangled and fucked beyond recognition. And that's why you're so fed up with Homura. This little cat-and-mouse game he's playing with you is obnoxious, but no worse than Kougaiji's antics. No, you're bordering on homicidal with the War Prince because he made Goku doubt you for the first time since you pulled him out of that stone prison. He's been a constant in your life for almost six years, and having his faith in you waver so violently today made you very uncomfortable.

It slapped you across the face with a sharp hand and made you realize just how much you've come to rely on this exasperating little shit.

At the end of the day you can't protect him from anyone, from anything, and it isn't even your responsibility to do so. He's more than capable of taking care of himself, and that's half the reason that you've allowed yourself to become this attached to the stupid brat. You aren't obligated to feel this acute ache in your guts at the thought of waking from a troubled sleep to find him missing. Your duty lies in sutras, temples, gods, and resurrections, not meat buns, demons, and monkeys, on this shitty broken-down bed, in this dirty little inn, far from Chang'An and the path to which your master left you.

You wonder for a brief moment what Koumyou Sanzo would say if he saw this now, witnessed you cradling this foreshadowed voice against your body like a fucking shield. A wry smile takes your lips in the darkness of this dismal room. He'd probably ask whom you were shielding--yourself or the monkey. Are you hiding from your own heart, or protecting Goku from his? Who's really going to end up hurt here?

If Koumyou Sanzo walked through the door and into your room right now you'd shoot him. Firstly he'd be an obvious fake. Secondly he'd have defied the basic laws of physics because the door is locked. Lastly you figure that you owe him one for dumping his Buddhist bullshit on your shoulders and sending you off into the big bad world as a naïve thirteen year-old kid with a deluded sense of reality. Truthfully you don't give a shit what he would think about the monkey in your arms because the dead don't matter. The living do, and you've never met anyone in Shangri-La more alive than the hundred-pound terror curled against your chest.

Goku murmurs unintelligibly in his sleep, whispers faintly in your mind, and you pull him closer. When did physical contact become a reflex beyond striking him out of anger? When did you start feeling his fear in your conscience so sharply? You're thinking about this too much and that's always dangerous.

You know damned well that when he wakes up tomorrow morning you'll kick him roughly out of bed and demand upon pain of death that he leave your room, swear on Buddha himself that the dumb runt rolled into you in his sleep and cuddled you against your will, took advantage of you while you were unconscious. Of course it's nothing more than reflex to wrap your arms this tightly around a warm and willing body beside you; don't read anything more into it.

You'll both acknowledge the fact that you're the lightest sleeper in the party and you never would have slept through him curling up against you. He'll know that you allowed the contact, and he'll thank you silently by not complaining for a few hours about being hungry or bored or needing to take a piss every fifteen miles. You'll thank him for that discretion by not locking your door tomorrow night. It's just the way that the two of you operate--without questions, purely on instinct, flawlessly.

Because in places you aren't quite ready to acknowledge yet, you'll sleep easier knowing that he's there beside you, and even when Homura manages to take him from you in the dead of night, at least you'll know.