Disclaimer: I don't own Saiyuki nor make any profit from them. I do own Kali.

Lynx Tiger: Some may wonder why Kali is speaking funny. Well I forgot in the last few chapters when she speaks, that they use TOPIC COMMENT. Even when they talk naturally, they use the TOPIC COMMENT format. I think I got the TOPICS, but I'm not really good at figuring out what the topic is in my sentence so I tried. Also I apologize if Gojyou is out of character. I don't know why, he is one of the hardest people to write for me. I am not ladies man material.

Chapter Four: Blossom and Fade part 1

Gojyou didn't like the energy that was around the village. It was tensed and focused. He knew he wasn't the one that was attracting the bad karma. Not once did someone mention the color of his hair or eyes, or even made a filthy remark about his heritage. But something was making everyone uptight. Hell, if he wanted to compare, they were more tighter than Sanzo…and that was saying something in his book.

Kali was walking towards him. He remembered her name only because Goku wouldn't /shut up/ about her. Gojyou noticed a bruise that was on her cheek. She gave him a bright smile and a cheerful wave. He couldn't help himself, he smiled and waved back. She beamed and continued walking onwards.

"I swear I don't know what that priest and his charge are thinking, walking around with an unable child." A villager snapped as they watched Kali walk off. "She's not good at anything. I know her teacher as assured us time and time again that if she learns how to speak she will be efficient but it seems she only gets worse!"

"That girl was with a boy wasn't she? Teaching him those gestures right?" Another villager asked, "We should probably tell him that it's a bad idea."

"Ah, right. The teacher said it was a bad idea that they sign. After all they have to be apart of the community. She can't do that if he's signing to her."

They always had the same idiots. Gojyou continued walking, it seemed to him that there was no questions asked. Either she signed and become an outsider or talk and not understand a word being said back. He wondered if they ever thought of that or if they thought she was a reliable lip reader. Sure, she might be a very good lipreader, but the flaws in their thinking process were just too numerous to count.

He did hope though that Kali got home okay. He noticed the bruise and he was quite sure someone hit her because she was signing and not speaking. He doubted the people around were going to start pointing fingers. He knew what justifications they'd give him and none of it would be right. He had half of the mind to turn around and go after her, make sure that she was okay.

Oh screw it, he might as well. He didn't know how to sign, but he was quite sure that he would be able to get his message across somehow. Lipreading wasn't very effective, but it was going to have to do. It didn't take long for him to catch up to her. She had stopped herself along the way, looking at one of the trees that had yet to bloom.

He walked over and tapped her on the shoulder. Her eyes immediately darted towards him and her eyes brightened. "I…know you." She said, her voice hard and raspy. "Goku's friend you are."

"I am." Gojyou nodded. He had to speak slowly. "What are you doing?"

Kali gestured to the tree. "Tree bloomed not yet." She explained. "Very late."

Gojyou looked up at the tree, breaking eye contact to look. When he looked back, Kali's attention was elsewhere. Down the road towards the only house that was near the lake. The bridge was still broken, there were people on boats trying to help each other fix it. She must live so far out…because the villagers wouldn't let her in.

She turned back towards him. "You here why?" She asked.

It was really hard to understand her, but luckily Gojyou knew what she was saying. He didn't have to feel the shame of having to run to Sanzo or Goku to ask them to be her voice. Hell, how did these villagers think she was going to be able to communicate when her voice was barely understandable and her hands were clear and crisp? Did they think that she might have some hearing left and it'd be stronger the more she talked? It didn't make sense! Hearing loss and deafness was hearing loss and deafness. There wasn't any other way around it.

"I saw the bruise." He said, gesturing to his cheek to make sure she understood. At least that worked. "Did someone hit you?"

"Sometimes they hit when understanding is hard." Kali explained. "Sometimes they hit when they think someone else I signed to."

If they were going to tell Goku not to sign with her, then what was her punishment going to be? "Morons the all of them."

"You think?" Kali asked, she didn't take her eyes off of him.

"It's not a question if I think, it's a question if I know." Gojyou muttered darkly. How could they think this way? It didn't make sense…

"I'm confused…" Kali murmured. Gojyou watched her as her eyes flickered to the ground. He could practically see gears turning in her head. She looked back up at him. "You think this why?"

"Because you should be able to speak in the way that makes it easier on you. If Goku wants to learn how to sign then he should be able to learn how to sign and whose a better teacher than you?" Gojyou shook his head. "Whose your teacher?"

Her eyes darkened. "Him I don't like."

Gojyou was taken aback by the malice. Had..he been the one to hit her?

She decided to clarify. "Can fix me, he says. Him I don't like. He can't fix me. My father and my mother can't."

"They tried to fix you?" Gojyou wondered exactly what this "fixing" required. Just the ceasing of signing or was there more? He didn't think he wanted to know.

"Yes…I saw many doctors." Kali explained. "Many doctors did many things. Painful things. Hurtful things. Signing I learned from a woman doctor. She was the only doctor to tell my parents I can't be fixed. Three years I was with her."

"Why only three years?" Surely it took longer to learn how to sign right? Or did she learn all that she could in a required space of time?

"Different doctor, my teacher, came." Kali said quietly. "My teacher was wrong, he said. Signing was bad. I have hearing and it will get stronger if I use it. Speech he taught me. Lip read he taught me. He checks on me, makes sure that I'm doing okay, that I'm improving. When I don't he gets upset."

"Great." Lunatics for neighbors, a crazy doctor, and parents that didn't seem to care that their own daughter was being tormented. "How do you practice signing if there's no one with you?"

"A mirror." Kali smiled at him. "Best conversations I have with myself." She looked at the tree and then looked back at him. "Tree blooming no. You arrived here and tree not blooming it's too bad."

"Maybe when we go through here again to get back home…we'll see it." Gojyou commented, looking away as he looked at the tree. Kali tapped his shoulder, waved, and walked off. He decided to stay behind, watching her back as she went to the lonely house by the lakeside.