by Portrait of a Scribe
Time: 10 days, 5 hours, 45 minutes.
Characters: Genjyo Sanzo, Seiten Taisei Son Goku
Summary: He must have been delirious, because he just couldn't possibly be seeing his long-dead master sitting at his bedside. Sanzo gets a bout of the flu, and Goku takes care of him while a certain festival takes place.
Disclaimer: Don't own the boys.
Because Sanzo usually doesn't get sick in fanfiction, and if he does, then it usually comes with a yaoi warning. There aren't any pairings in here. Contains mentions of the events of Earth-Mother's Embrace, so I recommend reading that one, also. OOC-ness because Sanzo's sick, and Goku's not as stupid as everybody seems to think. Enjoy!
By Portrait of a Scribe
Goku was slow to wake, as usual. However, he couldn't figure out just what had woken him. He was warm, his belly wasn't rumbling, he wasn't hot, and he couldn't hear any loud noise. Hence his befuddlement.
It was then that he realized what was wrong: he couldn't hear anything. There was no sound from the next room over of Hakkai, or of Gojyo. Sanzo, he wasn't surprised about- the monk loved quiet like Goku loved food- but there still should've been the sound of breathing, of cursing, of motion, of life.
Goku sat up, peering around the room. Sanzo's bags were still there, signifying that the others hadn't abandoned him or even packed up to go, yet. It was too early for breakfast. So where were they?
As if in answer to Goku's question, the door opened and Sanzo stumbled into the room. Goku was surprised to see the monk staggering like he was. Was Sanzo drunk?
The blond man looked positively green. He didn't even look over at Goku as he collapsed into his bed with a faint groan.
Goku stared at his father-figure for a long moment, curious and concerned.
"Sanzo?" Goku asked at last. "Are you okay?"
Sanzo sighed, and Goku heard him burp- burp?!- before the monk curled on his side, facing the wall.
"Shut up, bakazaru," came the reply. Sanzo's voice was hoarse, and thick as though he had been throwing up.
"Are you sick, Sanzo?" Goku pressed, sitting up fully. He swung his legs over the side of the bed. When Sanzo didn't deign to reply, Goku thought back to the past few days, mentally searching for signs that the elder man had been getting sick.
He couldn't find any, save that Sanzo had gone to bed extra early the night before, and hadn't eaten dinner, either. Sanzo had looked a little pale as he had given Goku and Gojyo a parting whack on the head.
"You're sick, then." It was a statement of fact.
"Yes, now let me sleep."
"I'll go tell Hakkai and Gojyo not to pack up, then," Goku said, and got out of bed, pulled on his jeans and a clean shirt, and padded out of the room. The room next to theirs was Gojyo and Hakkai's. Goku knocked lightly before going inside. Gojyo was dressing when Goku entered the room, and his crimson eyes flicked over to meet Goku's golden gaze as the younger man looked around for Hakkai.
"We're not leaving today," Goku told Gojyo. Gojyo looked aghast, and then angry.
"What?" he demanded. "Then what'd Hakkai and I just pack up all our stuff for?"
Goku shrugged. "I didn't know until a moment ago, myself."
"What's going on?" questioned Hakkai as he entered the room behind Goku.
"We're not leaving today," Goku reiterated. Hakkai blinked.
"Why?" he asked. "I thought Sanzo wanted to get an early start."
"Sanzo's sick," Goku said simply. Gojyo's eyebrows shot up. "I think he's been throwing up. Maybe."
"Really, now," Gojyo said, and Goku could see a mischievous glint in the redhead's eyes. "So, old priesty's feeling a little under the weather and we have to stay here?" He snorted. "Like he ever does that for us."
"Ah, yes," Hakkai agreed. "You do have a point, there. But Sanzo is the main reason why we're on this trip. There's no reason why we should continue traveling today if he's unwell."
"Not to mention that he's gonna be a real bastard if we drag him out into Jeep when he's like this," Goku added. They all stopped for a moment, and Goku and Gojyo shuddered in unison at the thought of a sick, crabby Sanzo with his gun and his fan on hand.
"He'll probably be pukin' a lot, too, if what I saw was any indication," Goku concluded. They all shuddered, that time.
"That settles it," Gojyo stated. "I ain't sittin' around in the back of the Jeep waiting for that prissy monk to puke all over me."
Hakkai sighed. "Alright, then. Goku, would you please help me unload the Jeep so that Hakuryu isn't sitting out in the sun for much longer?"
"Sure," Goku said. He and Hakkai headed out of the room and down the stairs, leaving Gojyo to finish getting dressed. Luckily for him, the hanyou's bag hadn't been packed, yet, or else he would've been roped into helping, too. As it was, Goku grabbed the bag of rations and the cooler while Hakkai grabbed his bag of clothes.
"Hakuryu, you can change back, now," Hakkai said. The Jeep chirped inquisitively, and with a puff of smoke, turned back into the little dragon. "Sanzo's sick, so we aren't heading out today."
Hakuryu chirped cheerfully again, probably happy that he could have a day to relax. He perched on Hakkai's shoulder as they all made their way back inside.
Goku deposited the food bag and cooler in Gojyo and Hakkai's room, and headed back out to go downstairs and see about some breakfast. However, just as he opened the door, a black, white, and gold blur shot past him, barreling toward the toilet room at the end of the hallway. After blinking in confusion for a second, Goku realized what it had been and sighed.
"Yep, he's sick."
He went downstairs to see about getting some tea and a basin so that Sanzo wouldn't have to risk puking in the hallway. By the time he returned to his and Sanzo's room, the monk was making his way down the hall again, holding his stomach. Sanzo looked positively miserable, to say the least. Well, more so than usual.
"Sanzo," Goku greeted quietly. Sanzo probably had a headache, too. "I got you some tea. The innkeeper and Hakkai both said that it should help settle your stomach."
Sanzo grunted in reply, but took the cup and teapot from Goku nonetheless. They entered the room. Goku settled the basin next to the head of Sanzo's bed, and then watched the monk sit down at the table with a sigh. Then Goku took the teapot from Sanzo and poured some of the drink into his mug.
"Hakkai said that you should sip this slowly," Goku instructed as he filled the cup. "He said that you need to let it settle your stomach gradually, or it'll all come back up again."
"Hakkai can go screw himself," Sanzo groused. Goku paused in his motions at the mental image this produced, and then shuddered.
"How would he do that?" he pondered quietly. "I don't think anybody's that flexible."
Sanzo gave Goku a weird look for his efforts, and took a small sip of the tea. Then Goku watched as Sanzo's eyes widened and he clapped a hand to his mouth. Goku hurriedly retrieved the basin and held it in front of the blond monk, both of them waiting to see if he would be sick or not.
Sanzo waved him away a second later. His face was ashen from his struggle, but he was victorious. Goku gave Sanzo a little smile and set the basin down on the table near Sanzo's elbow. It was in easy reach if Sanzo couldn't keep his tea down.
"So, what exactly are your symptoms?" Goku pressed nonchalantly. Sanzo sent a death glare the saru's way. Goku rolled his eyes. "Believe me, I'm not asking this because I wantto. But if I don't, then you're gonna get Hakkai on your case, so I'm really doing you a favor."
Sanzo sighed with reluctant resignation. "Tell Hakkai that I've been puking all morning, that I have a pounding headache, and that I'm seeing double."
Goku blinked. "Seeing double?" he repeated. He eyed Sanzo with some concern. "Sanzo, maybe you should try to lay down for a little longer."
Sanzo ground his teeth. "I wouldbe doing that if you weren't being such a pushy bakazaru!"
Goku frowned, but didn't comment beyond saying that he would go get Sanzo something for his headache. As the brunette left the room, Sanzo took another small sip of the tea.
It was really quite good, for tea. It had a light, refreshing flavor, not quite bitter, not quite sweet, but somewhere in between with a hint of something acidic in it. It had no added ingredients; just straight tea. But it really didn't need anything else.
He decided absently that he would have to ask Goku what kind of tea it was for future reference.
It was working wonders on his stomach, too, he noticed. His nausea had diminished slightly even with the two small sips that he had ingested. He mused that by the time he finished this cup, he might even feel well enough to travel.
Goku returned at that time, bearing a small bottle of what looked like pills. He plunked them down on the table in front of Sanzo, who eyed them distastefully, and sat down in the other chair.
"Take three of those," he said, pointing. Sanzo grunted, wrinkling his nose, but did as he was told, tossing the pills back and washing them down with a sip of his tea.
The pills tasted positively vile when the tea hit them, and Sanzo nearly vomited again, grabbing the basin and leaning over it. He clapped a hand over his mouth, trying to stem the explosion. It was several long moments before the churning in his stomach settled and he could shakily lower his hand. Goku was watching him, expression neutral.
"You okay?" he asked quietly. Sanzo exhaled shakily and took a drink of his tea to get the last of the pill-taste out of his mouth.
"What the hell wasthat shit?" he inquired, voice hoarse. Goku blinked.
"Aspirin." He took the bottle and studied it for a second. "It's a compound derived from white willow bark. It shouldn't interact with your tea."
Sanzo stared at the brunette for a long moment, eyes narrowing. "Who are you and what've you done with the monkey?"
Goku blinked, and then frowned. "What do you mean? I'm Goku."
Sanzo's gun was at his forehead in a heartbeat. "You're acting smart, you're being calm, you're telling me what to do, and you haven't whined for food, yet. What've you done with the monkey?"
"I already ate," Goku replied, countering the accusations one after the other. "I'm being quiet so that I don't make your headache worse, you need instructions, and I'm reading straight off the bottle, see?"
He held up the bottle, pointing at some kanji that were highlighted in red. They translated to "PRODUCT DERIVED FROM WILLOW BARK. WILL NOT REACT WITH MEDICATIONS DESIGNED TO QUELL STOMACH UPSETS".
For the first time in a long time, Sanzo felt rather foolish. He didn't show it, of course, but instead scowled and put his Smith and Wesson away.
There was a long second of silence, only broken by the soft thud of the pill bottle hitting the wood of the table as Goku set it down again. Then Sanzo took another sip of his tea.
"What kind of tea is this?" he asked at last.
"Peppermint, cloves, and ginger. All three of them have properties that settle upset stomachs." At Sanzo's warning look Goku raised his hands defensively. "That's just what Hakkai said, okay? Don't project your paranoia onto me."
They sat there and stared at each other for a long time, Sanzo glaring like a wet cat and Goku trying to look as submissive as possible. After all, it would hurt Sanzo's head if he tried to give Goku a whack with the fan, and Goku didn't want Sanzo to hurt more than he already was. Finally, Goku sighed and got to his feet.
"I'm gonna go get some mochi," he stated. "They have onigiri downstairs. You want some?"
Sanzo's stomach churned at the thought of food, and he took another sip of his tea to cover it up.
"No thanks," he muttered.
"M'kay," Goku returned. Then he headed out of the room, leaving Sanzo alone.
All was silent for a long couple of seconds. Then a soft knock sounded at the door. Sanzo felt a vein begin to pulse in his temple.
"What?" he snapped. The door opened, admitting Hakkai, who was carrying a tray of tea. He chuckled almost nervously.
"Goku said you aren't feeling well," Hakkai explained, crossing to the table and setting the tray down. He blinked when he realized that Sanzo already had some tea.
"What are you drinking?" Hakkai asked. Sanzo felt the hairs on the back of his neck prickle.
"Ginger, clove, and peppermint tea," he grunted, trying to fight down the nervousness that was making his guts roil only slightly less than his illness was. "Goku gave it to me. He said that you said to give it to me and have me drink it slowly."
Hakkai blinked again.
"I haven't seen Goku in almost fifteen minutes," he said. They stared at each other for a long second. Then Hakkai grabbed a mug, poured a cup of the tea that Goku had brought Sanzo, and inspected it closely with a frown.
There was no residue that might indicate a poison, and when Hakkai sniffed it, he could only smell mint and ginger and cloves. Exchanging a glance with Sanzo, Hakkai took a tentative sip of the hot liquid.
Aside from scalding his tongue, there was nothing in it beside the distilled essences of cloves, peppermint, and ginger.
"Nothing?" Sanzo asked. Hakkai shook his head, bewildered. "He also mentioned the innkeeper."
"Did he?" Hakkai looked thoughtful. "Maybe the innkeeper knows some herbal lore?"
Sanzo grunted, and sipped a little more of his tea. "Whoever made it, it's good."
Hakkai chuckled, and sipped his own mug. "It is."
He spotted the aspirin on the table. "Did Goku give you this, too?"
Hakkai was silent for a long moment. Sanzo noticed this.
"What is it?"
Hakkai blinked. "This bottle came out of Gojyo's bag. He keeps it for his headaches when he's in the desert, and for his hangovers."
Sanzo raised one golden eyebrow. "And you're sure he didn't just get it from the innkeeper?"
Hakkai nodded, and turned the bottle so that Sanzo could see the kanji written on the bottom: Sha Gojyo.
"What I'm wondering is when he did it," Hakkai said. "Gojyo and I haven't left the room for more than three minutes at a time since Goku came and told us that you were sick."
Sanzo grunted again, and hunched his shoulders. He was bowed over his cup of tea, letting the steam waft into his face.
"Three minutes is more than enough time if you know where something is," he muttered.
That said, they both fell silent once more.
"I'm going to go speak with the innkeeper and let him know that we'll be here another night," Hakkai finally said after a long pause. "Do you think we'll have to stay here tomorrow night as well?"
Almost as though in response, Sanzo slammed down his mug, grabbed the basin, and bolted for the door. Hakkai winced when he heard Sanzo get sick only halfway down the hall. He walked out of the room and glanced to his right, seeing the monk kneeling on the floor near the wall. Goku had apparently seen Sanzo's mad, vain dash for the bathroom, as well as its results, for the brunette was kneeling beside the indisposed priest, one hand on Sanzo's shoulder, the other rubbing small circles on the blond's back. Hakkai winced again as he saw and heard Sanzo retch. The human-turned-youkai decided that they would all be better served if he made himself scarce. Hakkai turned down the hall to his left, heading for the stairs.
Meanwhile, Sanzo had stopped throwing up into the basin, and was leaning heavily against Goku's solid warmth. The saru's presence was strangely comforting. Sanzo groaned when his aching stomach clenched again, but there was nothing left to bring up, so he was reduced to dry-heaving, leaving him miserable and sore. It was several minutes after that stage ended that Sanzo registered the soft words that Goku was speaking.
"...zo, come on, let's go get you cleaned up, okay?" Sanzo stiffened, a deep-throated burp passing through his teeth but bringing nothing up. "Come on, Sanzo, let's go. The bathroom's just a few feet away..."
His limbs felt like lead, so it was with reluctance that Sanzo allowed Goku to pull his arm across the wiry shoulders. Goku took the full basin in one hand, not even flinching at its contents (much to the saru's credit), and with the other, he helped Sanzo to stumble along the hallway to the bathroom.
Once there, Goku sat Sanzo down on the floor against the sink. The monk sagged against the sturdy barrier at his back; his head lolled bonelessly on his shoulders. He just wanted to sleep, now...
"Sanzo." That voice called his name, waking him. Sanzo cracked open his eyes to find that he was back in his room. He had been stripped of his robes of office, the Maten Sutra rolled neatly and sitting on the bedside table. His leather body armor was gone, as well, but he could feel his jeans covering his legs.
Goku was standing at his bedside, looking concerned. Sanzo sighed and sagged back into his pillow.
"...What happened?" he croaked. The hoarseness of his voice startled him slightly, and Sanzo frowned. Goku turned from him. Sanzo heard the sound of water dripping, and then Goku leaned over him and placed something cool and wet on his forehead.
"You passed out in the bathroom after you threw up," Goku explained quietly. "I cleaned you up, but your clothes were really messy, so I gave them to Hakkai to wash. You're lucky the sutra was in here the whole time, or it might've gotten dirty."
Sanzo blinked lazily. The words were taking a long second to sink in and make sense.
"Feverish?" Goku prompted, and then nodded. "Yes. You woke up for a moment, earlier, so I made you drink some more of the tea, and added some fever reducers into it, as well. You might not remember it."
He turned away, messing with something at the table. Sanzo could hear the sound of herbs being ground up, probably into either a powder or a paste. The sweet scents filled his nostrils, somehow more comforting than tobacco smoke had ever been.
Sanzo stared at his ward for a long moment.
"How do you know so much about medicine all of a sudden?"
Goku froze for a moment before he turned back to Sanzo, a cup of steaming tea in hand. The look on the younger man's face was one of sadness and wariness at the same time.
"I think maybe the answer to that question should wait until later," he replied enigmatically. Sanzo stared at him for a very, very long moment.
"...Who are you?" he asked softly. Goku blinked, and then smiled.
"This is why I wanted to wait," he admitted with a quiet chuckle. "I don't want you to forget it and make me repeat myself. You're not exactly lucid, Sanzo."
Sanzo gritted his teeth, but he couldn't muster up the strength to whack the saru over the head for his comment.
"I'm perfectly lucid, bakazaru," he growled. "Now tell that dumbass kappa to get out of here and get that mark off his forehead."
Goku blinked in reply, and glanced around behind himself. There was nobody there. Then he turned back to Sanzo to find that the monk had already fallen back asleep. Goku chuckled again. Then he gingerly slipped his arm underneath Sanzo's shoulders and pulled the monk into a semi-sitting position. He set the cup of tea down on the bedside table and grabbed the bowl of water and the washcloth that he had been using in tandem with the one currently on Sanzo's forehead. Dampening it again with cooler water, he gently dabbed it across Sanzo's too-warm skin, making sure to wet his neck. It was as Goku was wetting Sanzo's collarbones that he realized that those violet eyes were open again and watching him.
"So you're still awake, hm?" Goku questioned amiably. Sanzo groaned, and his eyes fluttered closed briefly.
"Unfortunately, yes," he muttered. His brow knotted briefly. "What the hell're you doing?"
Goku didn't pause in his motions.
"You have to get cooled down somehow," he replied. "If you get much warmer, you'll be in danger and we'll have to take you to a doctor."
Sanzo released a quiet, resigned breath, staring almost-blankly up at the ceiling. Goku paused when he didn't reply, but when he saw that Sanzo was still awake, he went back to his task.
"You were so small, back then." The quiet sentence drew Goku out of his own thoughts, and he looked down to Sanzo to find that his violet gaze was slightly unfocused.
"Sanzo?" Goku questioned warily.
"When I got you out of that cage, you were so tiny," the monk continued as though Goku hadn't spoken. "I wanted to shut you up 'cause you were so loud, and then when you finally did, all I could really think of was who the hell could lock up such a little kid in such a cold place."
"Sanzo, what're you saying?" Goku asked, concerned. Sanzo murmured something unintelligible. Goku shook his head slightly, and then reached for the cup of tea. "C'mon, Sanzo, drink this. You'll feel better."
Sanzo pulled a face and weakly turned his head away. "Don't wanna."
He sounded so childish that Goku almost laughed.
"Don't make me pour it down your throat, child," he prodded. It was only half-joking, because Sanzo was really starting to scare him. The sentence, however, made Sanzo freeze, and those hazy violet eyes fixed themselves on Goku's face. The monk frowned. For a long second, Goku was afraid that Sanzo would hit him with the fan. Thus he was surprised when the monk did no such thing.
The soft question made Goku blink.
"Sanzo?" Sanzo drew a rattling breath and closed his eyes briefly. When he opened them again, he seemed a little more lucid.
"Yeah, Sanzo, it's me," Goku replied. "You need to drink this. Come on, just a few sips."
Sanzo sighed, as though tired, but he managed to raise his head up enough so that the compress fell off of his forehead. Goku took advantage of the fact and held the now-warm tea to Sanzo's lips. When Sanzo opened his mouth in invitation, Goku tipped some of the tea into it, allowing Sanzo to take slow sips.
"Easy, there," Goku instructed quietly, not wanting to startle the delirious monk. "Don't want it to come back up, now, do we?"
He helped Sanzo finish off the cup, and then laid the monk back down, wetting and replacing the compress on his forehead. Goku almost unconsciously started humming a song that he had once heard; by the time that he turned back around, Sanzo was asleep again.
That song was familiar, intrinsically so, and he briefly wondered where it was coming from before he realized that the voice that was humming it was familiar, as well. Sanzo opened his eyes.
Goku was sitting in a chair next to the bed, a book in his lap. There was a bowl on the bedside table that was emitting a sweet-smelling steam. A quick assessment of his condition revealed to Sanzo that he was still feverish and sick to his stomach. The compress had been returned to his forehead.
Again, that song that Goku was humming entered Sanzo's mind. It teased his memory.
"What're you humming?"
Goku jumped slightly, his golden eyes flashing up from his book to meet Sanzo's slightly unfocused violet gaze. Seeing that the blond was halfway lucid, Goku smiled an easy smile and leaned forward to check Sanzo's temperature.
"Ne, Sanzo," the younger man greeted amiably. "You're awake."
Sanzo glared tiredly. "Thank you, captain obvious. The song?"
"I don't know its name," Goku admitted. "I've just known it as long as I can remember. I think it was a song my mother sang to me before I was born."
Sanzo may have been delirious, but even that was too far-fetched to be believable.
"What the fuck are you on?" he questioned, frowning. "You were born from a rock, bakazaru."
Goku laughed quietly. A twinge ran through Sanzo's head, and he winced at the pain.
"I know that," Goku murmured amiably. "It's an old song. That's all you need to know right now."
He sat back, looking down at his book again. The humming filled the room once more. Sanzo couldn't resist the insistent call of sleep, and drifted off into hazy dreams.
The next time Sanzo awoke, the room was dark, and the pitter-patter of rain could be heard drumming on the rooftop of the room. He groaned. He felt like he was floating, and that sensation was making him feel ill. His face felt hot, but the rest of his body was icy. His breath was short, as well. Maybe he should give up smoking, after all...
He glanced hazily around the room. It was unfamiliar to his eyes. There was a form clothed in pale robes slumped at the bedside; the color of its long, dark hair was nearly indistinguishable in the current lighting, but Sanzo could tell that it was male.
The man sighed in his sleep, broad shoulders moving lightly underneath the fabric. His head tilted slightly. Sanzo saw a glint of milky skin in a flash of lightning. A red smudge seemed to appear on the figure's brow. Sanzo's heart leapt into his throat.
"M-Master?" He prayed silently that the brief flash of hope he felt wasn't as obvious as he thought it was.
The figure stirred. Then its eyes blinked blearily open, and Sanzo saw that they were a kind, brown-grey hue.
"Kouryuu? You're awake?"
Sanzo could have cried. And, because he had a fever and was doped up on medicine for it, he deemed it an excuse to do so.
After all, he wasn't relieved that it was his master. No, not at all. No, he was just sick and tired and past caring and he didn't care if someone saw him break down at the current moment. He was just glad that it was his master and not one of the others.
...Come to think of it, where were Goku and those other two idiots?
"If you're wondering where your friends are, they're currently asleep," Koumyou Sanzo explained kindly. Genjyo Sanzo's wide, violet eyes blinked owlishly up at the older man. He didn't look any older than the day that he had passed on his title to his apprentice.
"...W-Why are you here?" Curse that stutter in his voice into oblivion. Sanzo blamed it on how cold he was currently feeling. Koumyou smiled. His cool hand came to rest on Sanzo's forehead a second later. Sanzo wouldn't admit it under pain of torture, but the touch was highly comforting.
"To look after you," Koumyou replied. Sanzo relaxed back into his pillow, his head still too light to be natural. He vaguely wondered if he was suffering from another delusion.
"Don't worry, I'm here." Sanzo hadn't realized that he had spoken aloud until his master's voice answered him. Sanzo cracked open one bleary eye, pondering on when he had closed them. Then he promptly decided that that was one question that didn't require an answer. His master was still there, and he was alive, and Sanzo was feeling too sick to really bother with the memories that would usually consume him about this time. Sanzo leaned into that cool touch with a grateful moan.
There were several seconds of silence.
Then Sanzo spoke. "Master?"
Koumyou looked over at him with a small smile. "What is it, Kouryuu?"
Sanzo sighed quietly, and looked up at his father-figure balefully. "I'm sorry."
"What for?" he queried. Sanzo groaned again, shivering faintly as a wave of cold stole over him.
"I c-couldn't protect you," he replied with some difficulty. "W-When the youk-kai came, I c-couldn't do anything t-to s-save you. I l-let you d-d-die."
His shivering was increasing by the second. Koumyou was looking concerned. Sanzo briefly saw him glance over at the other bed in the room, but Sanzo couldn't make out what was over there due to the shadows that hung thick in that area. Koumyou looked back down at Sanzo. Koumyou wasn't wearing his normal, carefree smile, but rather, his eyes were fully open, his lips compressed into a thin line. His brow was creased in what seemed to be concern.
"It was not your fault, Kouryuu," Koumyou intoned gently. Sanzo drew a deep, shaking breath, ready to protest that statement, but he dissolved into a series of deep, hacking coughs. Covering his mouth, Sanzo turned onto his side, shivering miserably, chest aching. By the time that the coughing died down, his throat was burning, and his lungs were hurting as though he had just run six miles at top speed without a rest.
Koumyou was looking downright worried by the time that Sanzo finally relaxed bonelessly into his sheets, gazing blankly at the shadows on the other side of the room. The blond man's skin was slick with a thin sheen of sweat. His breath rattled with each tremulous inhalation. His hands were cold, icy in fact, but his forehead was burning.
The way that Sanzo's eyes were drooping even more than normal testified to his exhaustion.
"I-I as-sk y-your f-forgiveness, master," Sanzo breathed when he could talk again. Koumyou sighed, and briefly rested his hand on Sanzo's forehead.
"There was never anything to forgive, Kouryuu," Koumyou said quietly.
They were silent for a long moment.
"W-Will you st-tay with m-me, master?" Sanzo asked, his voice barely more than a whisper. Koumyou looked concerned, but he smiled slightly nonetheless, and rested his hand on Sanzo's back, between those strong shoulders. The blond man shivered even harder at the cold touch, but did nothing more than curl into a ball on the side of the bed.
Sanzo absently mused that it was a very familiar scene. When he had been a child and had gotten sick, his master would sit with him just as they were now, Koumyou with his hand between Sanzo's shoulder blades, and Sanzo curled up at the side of his bed at Kinzan Temple. Sanzo had been just Kouryuu, then, but now, seeing his master after so long and knowing that he was solid and realand not just an illusion, Sanzo allowed himself to slip into a state of relaxation that he hadn't experienced since his master's death ten years before.
It didn't even occur to him that he had seen Koumyou die and that this shouldn't even be possible.
It took Sanzo a few minutes to realize that he was falling asleep, again, and that Koumyou had begun humming. Sanzo listened in comfortable silence for a little while. Then he realized that it was the song that Goku had been singing earlier.
"Ne, master?" Sanzo croaked. He coughed again, but it didn't develop into a fit, and he was able to blink sleepily up at Koumyou, who smiled at the blond man.
"Yes, Kouryuu?" Koumyou asked. He continued humming as though he hadn't spoken. Sanzo felt himself becoming sleepy again.
"What's th-that song?" Sanzo mumbled. He was fighting his body's urge to give in to the encroaching darkness.
"It's a very popular tune in Tenkai," Koumyou responded lightly. "A small boy taught it to Kanzeon Bosatsu many, many years ago, and its popularity apparently snowballed from there."
Sanzo sighed, almost melting when Koumyou began to rub small circles into the tense muscles of that slender back.
"Kannon-sama says that the boy's name is Son Goku," Koumyou continued, his voice and the casual conversation oddly soothing. "She also says that he once told her that it was the song of the earth, the song that everybody knows, whether they be kami or youkai or human, and whether they realize that they know it or not."
Sanzo sighed again. He really was melting into Koumyou's comforting touch, the tension draining out of his too-slender body like water would drain out of a bucket without a bottom. Sanzo hadn't been this relaxed in a decade.
At least, that was until another coughing fit had him tensing all over again.
"It's n-nice," Sanzo croaked when it was over. God, he felt like he was dying. "Am I d-dying?"
Koumyou smiled slightly. "You'd best not. Goku would pine."
Sanzo huffed, but it was an amused sound. "Th-that bakazaru. H-He wouldn't."
"He would." Koumyou's expression was serious. "You are very important to him, Genjyo Sanzo. He looks up to you as the father that he never had."
That gave Sanzo pause. Goku looked up to him? As a father?
"When you freed him from that cage, you created a bond with a child, though you weren't much more than a child, yourself, at the time," Koumyou continued. He continued to rub Sanzo's back in a soothing motion. "Because you freed him, you gained his respect as the first to care enough to even come see him. That bond strengthened over the years to become one like that which you and I shared, despite the fact that you tried to distance yourself from him as much as possible."
Sanzo finally looked dimly up to meet Koumyou's grey-brown eyes again. Koumyou's gaze was sad.
"I'm sorry to see that you think that you can't form relationships with others for fear that they'll die or leave you, Kouryuu," Koumyou said. "But you can't control whether or not someone dies. Their time will come when it comes. The trick is to enjoy what time you have with that person to its fullest before they depart this coil."
They sat in silence for a long time. Sanzo's breathing became more labored as the minutes passed, and he eventually shut his eyes with a groan. A drop of perspiration slid down from his temple across his forehead, over his chakra, to catch in his golden, sweat-damp hair. He started coughing again, this time deeper and more forceful. His hand lashed out to fumble with the basin that was sitting on the floor next to the bed. A second later, he was throwing up into it, coughing and hacking as the bile went up his nose.
Koumyou did nothing more than hold Sanzo's hair back.
When the vomiting died down again, Sanzo set the basin down on the floor again with an exhausted groan. He grabbed what looked, to his swimming vision, like a dirty washrag from the bedside table, wiping his mouth and chin with it before spitting into the basin and dropping the cloth on the floor.
"W-Why is th-this h-happening t-to me?" Sanzo rasped, voice rough from the abuse his stomach had just put his throat through.
Koumyou smiled. "Probably because you ignored your body's pleas for rest and decided to keep traveling."
Sanzo groaned again and curled up a little more, shivering violently. "K-K-Karmic ret-tribut-tion, r-right?"
"Indeed," Koumyou mused with some amusement. "Even though I know that you don't believe in such things."
"S-S-Screw-w k-k-karma," Sanzo stuttered, his teeth chattering. He wrapped his arms around his chest. His skin was even colder than before.
Koumyou just began humming again. The song, combined with his chilly touch and Sanzo's own exhaustion, soon had the blond man drifting off into fevered dreams again. Before he succumbed to the blackness of unconsciousness, Sanzo thought he saw a glint of gold standing over Koumyou's shoulder. His master's parting words echoed in his ears, following him into dreams as he finally slipped away.
"Stay strong, Genjyo Sanzo, and never let go of those who are most important to you. They will be your strength in times of weakness."
"Thank you for coming when you did."
The soft murmur drew the grey-brown gaze over to him, and Son Goku fidgeted slightly until the older monk smiled.
"I'm glad to help," Koumyou Sanzo replied. His hand still hadn't left Sanzo's back, and he was still humming that old, familiar song. Goku came over and picked up the basin and rag, heading over to set the sour-smelling basin on the table. His golden gaze turned back to Koumyou for a second.
"Could you watch him for a moment or two while I go clean this out?" Goku asked, tilting his head to the side questioningly. Koumyou smiled kindly.
"Of course," he answered. Goku nodded, and left the room. It was only a short walk down the hallway to the bathroom, but the sound of the thunderstorm outside seemed loud in his ears when combined with the near-silent padding of his bare feet on the floorboards.
It took him a bare five minutes to wash out the basin and clean the rag with some soap and water, but to his preoccupied mind, it seemed much longer.
When Koumyou Sanzo had suddenly materialized in the middle of their room at the start of the thunderstorm, Goku had nearly attacked the dark-haired monk, thinking him to be a youkai. Then he had seen the chakra on Koumyou's forehead and the robes that were identical to Sanzo's and deduced his identity.
"Don't fear, Earth-child," Koumyou had said. "I've just come to visit my son."
Goku had been confused for a moment before realizing the significance of that statement. He had backed down without a fight, relinquishing his chair to the elder Sanzo. Goku had watched the whole exchange between the two monks from his own bed, though he hadn't interfered or even moved until it became apparent that Sanzo was falling asleep again and Koumyou was getting ready to depart.
His footsteps were silent as he made his way back down the hall to the bedroom that he was sharing with Sanzo. Upon opening the door, he found that Koumyou was still sitting at Sanzo's bedside, though now he had somehow procured a piece of orange origami paper and was folding it into the shape of a paper airplane.
Goku studied the other man for a long moment. Then he closed the door behind him and crossed the room, setting the basin back on the floor next to the head of Sanzo's bed.
"I'd light a candle for you if I didn't think it would wake Sanzo up." The statement was out of Goku's mouth before he realized that he had spoken. He blushed faintly when that kind gaze fell on him, understanding in its nature.
"I don't think that he'd mind much," Koumyou countered amiably. Deft fingers folded another crease into the paper. "As it is, he probably thinks that I'm a delusion brought on by his fever."
The self-deprecating laugh that escaped the monk's mouth made Goku look at him.
Koumyou shook his head. "I may have achieved a place in Tenkai, but I am still dead. No, I'm only back for tonight."
Goku tilted his head in confusion, staring at the monk's gentle features, noting the presence of the laugh lines that Sanzo would probably never have.
"Only for tonight?"
Koumyou smiled up at him. "It's Bon. The souls of the dead get to roam the earth for one night a year during the Bon Festival, and that night is tonight."
He closed his eyes, making one final crease in the paper of the airplane. "I came back to see the man I have always looked upon as my son."
Goku smiled. "Then I hope you don't mind if I light a candle for you in the morning, Koumyou-jii."
Koumyou chuckled. "I'm not that old, you know."
"You're plenty older than I am."
The glance that Koumyou gave Goku was shrewd. "Ah, but I'm not, son of the Earth. Especially not now that your memories have been regained."
That made Goku blink in shock.
"How did you-?" He cut himself off as realization hit, and then gave an exasperated chuckle. "Right, you have a place in Tenkai. Of course you'd have heard about it from Kannon."
Koumyou laughed. "Indeed."
Then they both silenced themselves as Sanzo moaned in his sleep and shifted restlessly to lie on his stomach. The blond man was still shivering violently.
"Take care of him, Goku-kun," Koumyou murmured after a second, when it became clear that Sanzo wasn't waking up. "He needs it more than he lets on."
Goku nodded. "I will," he promised, "and I know. He may think that he's older than I am, but I know Konzen better than he remembers."
"Konzen?" he parroted. Then his eyebrows shot up as he looked back to Sanzo's still form. "Kouryuu is the famous Konzen Douji that Kannon always talks about?"
Goku chuckled. "Yeah. And Gojyo was Kenren-taisho, and Hakkai used to be Tenpou-gensui. I called them Ken-nii and Ten-chan when I was in Tenkai all those years ago."
Koumyou smiled serenely. "I'll have to keep that in mind as ammunition when I see them next."
Goku cast him a curious glance. "When you see them next?"
"Oh, yes," Koumyou replied with a chuckle. "They're all destined to return to the heavens after these incarnations have passed. The Jade Emperor has decided that he would like to have his best employees back."
A small smile spread across Goku's face. "Good. Then I can go annoy all of you after I die."
"Or maybe before," Koumyou concurred. He rubbed Sanzo's back one last time before standing. "I'm not sure that you'll ever die, Goku-kun, but I am sure that you will be allowed back into Tenkai after Li Touten is overthrown."
Goku stared at the former monk for a long moment before he finally had to chuckle. "I'll be sure to stay alive until then, then."
"Good." Koumyou sighed pleasantly, and then set the orange airplane on the bedside table next to the Maten Sutra. "I have to go, but I'll be watching over all of you."
Goku smiled, and gave Koumyou a brief hug in gratitude for all of his help. "Thank you again, Koumyou-nii. Take care."
And just like that, Koumyou was gone, with nothing but a smile and the lingering scent of white flowers where he had been. The orange paper airplane rustled faintly as it tipped onto its side for a more natural position. Goku remained standing for a long moment. Then he took the chair again. It would be a long night.
But he would keep his promise.
Sanzo became aware of his surroundings again when the sunlight hit his eyelids. He groaned again and rolled over before realizing that his stomach felt fine, if not more than a little hungry. His head wasn't pounding, anymore, either. He did note, however, that he felt sticky, and that the sheets of his bed were damp with sweat, and that he was bone-dead tired. Something cool was being dabbed across his chest and neck.
Sanzo opened his eyes, taking a deep breath.
"Good morning, Sanzo," came a cheerful voice from above him. Sanzo looked up at its source. Goku grinned and dipped the rag in his hand into the bowl on his lap. Sanzo watched the brunette wring it out before handing it to him.
"I'm guessing that you'd probably like to do this yourself now that you're awake," Goku murmured. "I know that you don't like to be touched."
Sanzo sighed, feeling too exhausted to continue with Goku's ministrations.
"No, it's okay," he murmured. His voice was still hoarse. Goku stared at him for a long moment before pressing his hand to Sanzo's forehead. The monk frowned and pulled away slightly. "What're you doing, kono bakazaru?"
Goku smiled. "I thought you were still feverish for a second, there."
Sanzo sighed. "No. Just utterly exhausted."
Goku hummed and nodded.
"I see," he replied. He continued to wash Sanzo's neck. The cool water felt good against his skin, refreshing in a way.
There was a pause.
"I never thought I'd say this to you, but..."
Goku peered down at Sanzo, seeing the monk shifting in a slightly uneasy manner. "What is it, Sanzo?"
Sanzo grimaced. "...Haraheta."
Goku blinked at Sanzo several times before he laughed. It took him all of one-hundred twenty seconds to calm down again, and Goku gingerly wiped the tears from the corners of his eyes before he looked at Sanzo with amusement.
"I never thought I'd see our roles reversed," Goku admitted, but that was all he said before he got up, set the bowl on the nightstand, and walked to the door. He left the room for a moment, but returned shortly.
"Hakkai's going to bring you something light in about ten minutes," Goku informed Sanzo. "So that your stomach doesn't get upset again."
Sanzo grunted. "How long've I been out, again? I feel like I could eat a horse."
"Three days," Goku replied amiably. "We haven't been able to get anything but tea into you since you started throwing up."
The minutes passed in silence. Goku eventually resumed his cleaning, moving on from Sanzo's neck to his face. The cloth moved softly over Sanzo's skin, removing the sweat from his cheeks, his jawline, his nose, and his temples before moving up to his forehead. Goku's touch was gentle as he wiped down Sanzo's brow. Soon enough, the washing was done, and Goku moved to pull away. However, his hand was stayed when Sanzo reached up and took a hold of it, his own grip strangely weak.
"Sanzo?" Goku questioned, slightly concerned. Sanzo didn't reply for a long moment.
"Did I really see my master last night?" he asked. His voice trembled slightly. Goku briefly considered telling Sanzo that it was a delusion, but he didn't want such dishonesty to crush Sanzo's hope.
"Yes," Goku replied quietly. Sanzo drew a shaking breath.
Goku knew what the question was before Sanzo even asked it.
"It was Bon last night," Goku explained. "He came to visit you."
He gestured to a candle that was burning on the bedside table. Sanzo understood the significance of it, and closed his eyes underneath the washcloth, grunting to hide the pang of gratitude that flared in his chest.
"He also says that he'll see you later, and that he's got some blackmail ammunition on you, now," Goku continued. He looked faintly perplexed. "Whatever that means."
Sanzo choked out a single chuckle. Goku pretended not to notice the slow, sporadic streams of hot liquid that were sliding down Sanzo's temples to catch in his hair. After all, Goku didhave plenty enough respect for Sanzo to not call him on the fact that he was crying.
"He told me to tell you to 'Stay strong, Genjyo Sanzo, and never let go of those who are most important to you'," Goku concluded. "He said that 'They will be your strength in times of weakness'."
Those amethyst eyes peered out at Goku from under the brunette's hand, and Goku could see the gratitude that Sanzo would never voice.
Sanzo would never need to.
The call turned Goku's attention to Sanzo where the blond monk was packing up his possessions into a well-worn pack. The bed where Sanzo had spent five days of delirium and recovery was neatly made, the sheets had been changed, and the bowls of water, the basin, and the medicines had all been cleared away.
"What is it, Sanzo?"
The blond monk peered at him from under his bangs. "You never answered my question."
Goku blinked in surprise and confusion. "Which question was that?"
"Where did you suddenly learn so much about medicine?" Sanzo's expression promised death if Goku didn't answer. Goku blinked again, and then chuckled, tucking the last of his shirts into his own bag. Then he finally turned to face Sanzo fully, straightening to his full height of five-foot-six.
"You really want to know?" Goku returned.
Sanzo scowled. "Just spill it, bakazaru."
Goku chuckled at his caretaker's impatience. The brunette's golden gaze was old, older than Sanzo had ever seen it, when he finally met Sanzo's stare again.
"You remember when I was trapped in that mudslide a few months ago?" he questioned. "You had to dig me out, and I was unconscious for three days without my diadem on."
Sanzo blinked. "What's that got to do with anything?"
Goku sighed, his hand reaching up to brush against the diadem in question.
"When I was buried, I had... a conversation, of sorts," he admitted. "I spoke with the earth, my mother. Also... I regained my memories."
That made Sanzo freeze.
"Why didn't you tell any of us?" he demanded after several moments. Goku looked at him weirdly for a second before finally shrugging.
"Nobody asked," was the simple reply. "The other half of my soul, the one sealed with my memories, came back to me. What always made me insane when I took off the diadem, before, was the grief that I suffered for the fate of my friends who died in Tenkai." He paused, a slightly bitter smile stretching his lips. "I was very young when it happened. I couldn't deal with it. It manifested itself as rage and blood lust."
Sanzo stared at his charge in silence.
"With the return of my memories came the natural ability to converse with my Earth-mother at will," Goku continued, unconcerned by Sanzo's lack of reaction. "I've learned much in the past few months. I've learned how to predict mudslides, how to tell what the weather's going to be like, which plants can heal and which plants can kill. There... was a lot to take in."
"I'd imagine," Sanzo growled dryly.
They were quiet for a long moment.
The fan whipped out and cracked Goku on the head before he could dodge. The brunette clutched his aching noggin, glaring at the monk as Sanzo calmly put the fan away.
"What the fuck was that for, ya droopy-eyed priest?!"
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?!"
"Urusai, kono bakazaru."
Another whack on the head resounded through the room. In Tenkai, Koumyou Sanzo, Kanzeon Bosatsu, and Jiroushin watched through the viewing pool as Genjyo Sanzo and Son Goku bickered, all three of them chuckling faintly and discussing the various ways that their favorite group of misfit travelers could amuse them.
All was right in the world.
And so ends the latest installment of this series. I've been working on this story for almost half a month, now, but I kept having trouble with how to write it. I wanted it to be humorous, at first, but then it ended up being a sentimental piece. Yes, I recognize the fact that Sanzo was OOC, as was Goku. Sanzo was delirious and miserable for most of this fic, and Goku was trying to make him feel better without placing unnecessary stress on Sanzo. Not to mention that, after the events of Earth-Mother's Embrace, Goku's behavior has changed slightly.
There may or may not be a sequel to this. I've begun writing it, but I think I'm going to have to go back and edit it. Either way, don't expect to see it up any time soon.
And as for vocabulary:
Bakazaru - "Stupid monkey"/"Idiot Monkey"
Kono bakazaru - "You stupid/idiot monkey"
Kono yarou - "You bastard"
Urusai - "Shut up"/"Be quiet"
Saru - "Monkey"
Mochi - Japanese sweet made from glutinous rice paste, usually filled with a sweet food item
Onigiri - Rice ball(s)
I think that that's it. If anybody has any questions, feel free to leave a review or to PM me, but I would prefer a review. Thank you!
-Portrait of a Scribe