The full moon shone brightly down as she stopped running. She took out a dagger that she had taken from a hunter and closed her eyes. She ignored the sound of a coming vehicle as she prepared to plunge the blade deep within her heart. The driver of the vehicle, a green jeep, ran towards her and restrained her hand from delivering that final blow. She opened her eyes and gazed at the driver's companion with red hair, dropping the dagger in shock. She pulled free of the driver's grasp and ran into the woods.
"So much for your charms, huh Gojyo?" the young boy asked and the one with red hair looked at him.
"What are you talking about you ape?" Gojyo asked.
"She took one look at you and ran off."
"We've got to go after her," the driver said.
"It's her problem, let her deal with it," the blonde said.
"Do what you want, worldly monk but beautiful women shouldn't kill themselves," Gojyo said and ran off in pursuit of the young woman. He soon found her, blood running down her arm. She gazed up at him, tears streaming down her face. He took the dagger from her hand and threw it away.
"Why would a cute chick like you want to die?" he asked and she turned away.
"Please, just let me be. Your hair…reminds me too much of the pain," she sobbed.
"Yes, half breed."
Gojyo's eyes grew wide at her remark. How could she have known? He watched her pick up a twig and try to impale herself. She yelped as he grabbed the twig and tried to pull it away from her. She tried to resist and smacked her head against the tree as her strength gave way. She fell unconscious due to the shock and blood loss and Gojyo picked her up. He carried her back to where the others stood and set her down in the back of the jeep.
"We're going to the town anyway," he said.
"Let's hurry up and go. I'm hungry," the boy said.
"In a little bit Goku. Please let me dress her wounds," the driver said.
"You shouldn't have gotten involved," the blonde said.
"He did what he felt needed to be done, Sanzo. Besides, it's not out of our way," the driver said.
"So what happened?"
"Thanks Hakkai. I don't know. She said my hair reminded her of the pain," Gojyo said.
"What pain?" Hakkai inquired.
"I don't know."
"I'm in pain from the hunger," Goku said.
"You're always hungry," Gojyo said.
"Don't start fighting. I'm sure that the young lady doesn't want to hear your petty fights," Hakkai said.
"Why do you think she was so upset?" Goku asked.
"I don't know," Gojyo replied.
"We'll be in town soon. We should take her to a doctor once we get there," Hakkai said.
"Sanzo can we eat first?" Goku asked.
"Shut up ape!" Goyjo said.
"You two can take care of the woman. I'll take Goku with me," Sanzo said.
Gojyo picked her up and followed Hakai. They walked through town until they found a doctor. The doctor looked at Gojyo for a moment then allowed them to go inside. Gojyo laid her on the bed and stepped back. He watched the doctor rinse her hair and stared in shock as the black washed away, revealing her true hair color…scarlet.
"Red hair…what color were her eyes?" Gojyo asked.
"Red as well," Hakkai said as Gojyo took out a cigarette.
"There is no smoking allowed in here. Go outside if you must smoke," the doctor said and Gojyo walked outside.
"I now understand why she didn't like to look at me," Gojyo said as he lit a cigarette.
"I wasn't aware that any female ones existed," Hakkai said.
"That's why she was suicidal."
"Do you think so?"
"Growing up as an outsider is extremely difficult."
"You seemed to have handled it well."
"I had problems too. I just think men are naturally stronger than babes."
"There you are. I've found the hotel and got us a room. Come on," Sanzo said.
"I'll catch up," Gojyo said and Hakkai looked at him.
"Are you sure?" he asked.
"Yeah. Go on. Just tell that dumbass ape not to eat all the food."
He walked back into the doctor's office and the doctor looked at him.
"She's asleep now. She'll be fine soon. Just take her out of my office. I don't want any trouble," the doctor said and walked out of the room.
Gojyo gazed at her sleeping figure for a moment then picked her up. He hadn't noticed before that she was wearing pants. Most of the women he ran across wore dresses. Perhaps pants was another attempt to escape the past. He noted the feeling of her hair against his skin, the crimson strands so fine and soft that it reminded him of a piece of well-made material. He walked into the inn and laid her on his bed. He sat beside her and took her hand.
"I'm not the only one whose hair is stained with blood," he said as Hakkai stepped into the room.
"I thought you'd be here. I brought you some food," he said and set a tray on the table.
"I had to mover her. The doctor wouldn't let her stay."
"Perhaps he's afraid."
"There are all sorts of wives' tales about half breeds. I bet that's why she colored her hair. It's hard to live in persecution."
"Is that why you went after her?"
"Beautiful women shouldn't die before their time."
Tears rolled down her face and Gojyo gazed up at her. Her eyes were still closed but something was definitely upsetting her. He reached up and wiped the tears from her eyes and sighed. He understood the pain and wished that he could do something for her. She stirred and he drew his hand away from her face. She opened her eyes and sat up in shock. She gazed at Gojyo and painfully stood up. Hakkai laid a hand on her shoulder. She glanced at him and he smiled. He led her back to the bed and politely asked her to sit down.
"I think you two have a lot in common aside from your hair color," he said and her eyes grew wide. She ran her fingers through her crimson hair in shock as Hakkai quietly walked out of the room.
"I understand your feelings," Gojyo said as he took her hand.
"Why did you follow me? Why couldn't you have just let me go?" she asked.
"I'm not that kind of man. Now come on, keeping your feelings to yourself isn't helping anything."
"I'm sorry. It just upsets me so much to hear the ridicule. I had no control over my origins and our hair color will be forever stained with blood."
"It's all right. Living takes a lot more courage than dying."
"Do you remember your parents?"
"I don't remember my parents. I was abandoned when I was very young. I was taken into an orphanage but I ran away because I couldn't stand being made fun of any more."
"You shouldn't hide your face. It's too pretty."
"For so long I wanted to end the pain. That's why I colored my hair. I thought that if I couldn't see the red, I would be just like everyone else but deep down inside I knew I was different."
"Use your difference as an advantage. Sure it's been tough but you've grown into a beautiful woman. Red hair really suits you."
He smiled and she slowly returned the smile. She brought a hand to his face and pushed back the hair that covered his scars. He gazed into her eyes, the crimson reflecting the pain that he had experienced in his life. She caught the gaze, his eyes having the same effect on her heart and she looked away.
"What are the scars from? Your past?" she asked and he turned away from her.
"My mother tried to kill me," he replied softly.
"Don't cry. I can't stand it when women cry."
"I want just thinking that despite the circumstances, you knew…I mean, have memories of your mother. I have nothing but the torment of my past."
She began to cry and Gojyo put his arms around her. Her sobs quieted and she allowed herself to be drawn closer to him. He wiped the tears from her eyes, remembering the tears that streamed down his mother's face when she had tried to kill him. Gojyo sighed in relief as her crying stopped. He would never get used to the sound of a woman's tears.
"Are you hungry? There's some food on the table," Gojyo said and she glanced up at him. She saw the grin on his face and once again returned the smile. He took his arms off of her and watched her stand up. She slowly walked over to the tray as Hakkai opened the door.
"Ah, it looks like you're doing better miss. Have you eaten yet Gojyo?" Hakkai asked and the girl looked at Gojyo.
"This is your food?" she asked.
"It was brought for me but have some."
"Oh I couldn't."
"Please miss, you should get your strength back," Hakkai said and she picked up an empty plate and scraped some rice onto it. She set the plate on the windowsill and picked up the tray. She handed the tray to Gojyo and he smiled. She winced in pain and her eyes grew wide as Hakkai helped her sit down. He smiled as he handed her the plate that she had made for herself.
"Thank you," she said.
"You're welcome. I'm assuming that you have no place to stay so why not stay here for the night? I'm sure I can get a room for you."
"You are being really kind."
"It's a pleasure…we haven't been formally introduced."
"My name is Rianna."
"That's a beautiful name. It really suits you," Gojyo said and she looked at him.
"Do you really think so? That was the name given to me at the orphanage. I don't know my real name. I don't even know if I was given one," she said.
"It seems that you and Gojyo have become friends. You may call me Hakkai. Our other companions are Goku and Sanzo. Now I will se about getting you a room. Please, excuse me," Hakkai said and he walked out of the room. She flushed as Goyjo laid his hand over hers. He placed a few pieces of meat in with her rice and gently smiled.
"Thank you," she said.
"You need your strength back. I want to see you when all of your bandages are off," he said and she blushed.
"You're the first person that has given me such an indirect compliment," she said. "Did you ever think…that you'd run into someone like me?"
"No but I'm glad I did."
"I managed to get you the room down the hall, Miss Rianna," Hakkai said as he walked into the room. He took the empty plate from her and set it on the table.
"Thank you. I guess I'd better go. I'm sure you all are tired," Rianna said.
"Let me walk you to your room," Gojyo said and took her hand. He led her to the door and opened it. Goku fell before him and Gojyo kicked him.
"What was that for?" he asked.
"Don't you know you're not supposed to listen at doors?" Gojyo asked as they walked past Sanzo. He led her to her room and opened the door. She walked over to the window and gazed out at the moon.
"They said that the moon was full when I was found. I'd like to think that it was as big as this one. The moon makes me feel happy and sad at the same time. I'm happy that I was found but I still regret my origins. Being a half breed in a world of humans…it's like being only part of something complete. I want to belong, I really do. Is that so wrong to desire?" she asked as she glanced at Gojyo.
"I see nothing wrong with that but let me ask you this. Now that you've seen someone like yourself, how do you feel?" he asked as he leaned against the wall.
"Comforted by the fact that someone else has survived through this living hell but I pity our curse."
"Do you pity us enough to allow me to come closer to you?"
"I've never been asked that before, even with my hair colored."
"I can't imagine why. You're extremely beautiful."
"Are you just complimenting me?"
"I don't lie when it comes to women."
He leaned closer to her and Rianna flushed. For the first time in her life, she felt like she truly belonged somewhere. She felt his arms around her waist and closed her eyes. He drew away from her and smiled. She was completely willing. He led her over to the bed and together, they sat down. He removed her shirt and ran his hand over her skin. He had never seen a female half breed before but he found that even though her hair and eyes were colored with blood, he found comfort within her. She opened her eyes and gazed up at him. His eyes grew wide in awe as for the first time he saw the color red as something other than blood.
"What is it?" she asked and he grinned.
"Your eyes. They don't look like blood to me. The color reminds me of courage. You struggled to live on, outcast by society. I did too. Red shouldn't symbolize the blood of our past. It should symbolize the courage to survive," Gojyo replied.