A/N: Written for a LiveJournal 500themes writing community challenge's prompt #236 – One thousand promises.

Warnings: None I can think of. (I'd warn for some strong language, but this is Saiyuki and you should already know that.)

Disclaimer: Kazuya Minekura is the rightful owner of the Saiyuki universe, along with all associated companies who hold the rights to distribute it across the world. I claim no ownership or association with the aforementioned, I make no money from this and intend no copyright infringement. Please support Minekura-sensei by purchasing original copies of her works whenever possible.


One thousand promises

There are one thousand promises that Gojyo has given. One thousand promises which he has not kept, has never even intended to keep. One night stands were only one night stands and nothing more. All women he slept with were not breathtaking beauties, though he might have made them believe so. All the places he had promised to return to he didn't plan to visit ever again. Happiness he hadn't found and luck was merely a fleeting concept.

He didn't intend to lie when he gave out those promises, but he knew humans well enough to know when they wanted to hear a sugar-coated lie. There were times when a tiny little falsehood could give someone a hope to go on, a lifeline to cling to and pull through when the times were at their darkest and the world was crumbling around their ears. Thus, he ended up with a thousand promises that would never be kept.

And right now it looked like he was going to fail the one thousandth and first – the most sacred, the most important and, perhaps, the oldest of them all, made so many times that he no longer remember who had been the first one to get it out of him – the one which he had given to himself time and time again. The one to live. The one to survive, no matter what, to ends unknown. By now he had been to hell and back, and he wasn't even entirely sure that he really was back because what his eyes were seeing right now could only belong in hell. Gojyo had a hard time recognising Sanzo under all that blood and torn flesh, and stained rags, but no one else could possibly wear such an annoyed expression at a time like this. He didn't know anyone else with eyes quite that shade of purple who would glare at him even on the brink of death.

Gojyo said something out of habit or maybe inertia, though he only realised that he'd spoken when the sound reached his ears – and the next moment he started wondering why speaking hurt so much.

"Baldy."

"Live, asshole," was Sanzo's reply of choice, born, also, out of habit or inertia. "Or… kill you."

"Inspiring," Gojyo croaked and cringed, now that he realised just how hoarse and off his voice sounded. He couldn't lift his head to check where the other two were – it hurt too much to move. He nudged something with his foot, wanting to see if he could move at all, and it was soft – softer than a rock should be, and it definitely wasn't a lump of grass. Grass didn't like growing this high up in mountains. It might have been the grumpy monk who seemed to be lying close enough for him to reach. It might have been somebody else's corpse. "Bum… a smoke."

"…out. You owe me… Didn't buy…"

How Sanzo still had the strength to glare when he didn't have enough to get all of the words out coherently, Gojyo didn't know. They should have died ten times over by now, but somehow they were still clinging to life. He tried to smile, but the right side of his face hurt too much and he only managed a weak wince. True enough though. He'd snuck some of Sanzo's cigarettes, promising to buy him replacement once they reached the next town, and now that they had finally reached that promised next town, Gojyo had promptly forgotten all about that.

Oh, well. One more promise he wouldn't keep.

"Hn. Stingy monk."

The hollow click of the gun was Sanzo's only answer, but the aim was off and there were no bullets left in its barrel. And Gojyo thought that maybe, maybe he wasn't the only one with promises not kept and maybe, maybe this world was better off that way.