Title: Freedom of Wolves
Author: Stormy firstname.lastname@example.org
*notes* This is my first real attempt at exploring the brotherly relationship between Gojyo and Goku. I hope I was somewhat true to all the character's personalities.
Dedication: to Mina-chan, for introducing me to Saiyuki in the first place. Thanks so much for giving me yet another thing to spend my money on. ^^
Goku tossed and turned in his bed, twisting up-side down and sideways in an attempt to get comfortable. He tried counting sheep, something Hakkai had once suggested, but forgot what number he was at after only a few minutes. Then he tried lying perfectly still, staring at the ceiling. After a few minutes he was so restless he was visibly twitching.
Finally, he gave it up as a lost cause, sitting up and wrapping his arms around his knees, resting his cheek on the curve of his arm. He knew why he couldn't sleep and all the denial in the world wasn't going to let him have a restful night. He turned his head and stared out at the night sky, watching the moon glow silvery in the midnight blue backdrop.
The moon was a familiar sight to him. The sun had been a stranger, only thin rays ever reaching the foot of his prison during those lonely five hundred years, but the moon had always appeared in the crack directly above his head, raining a comfortable light on him that had kept him from being kept in total darkness, with no one to talk to. He loved the moon. He had spent hours every night just watching the small shaft of light make the rocks and boulders glow.
Suddenly the small room was too confining and Goku stood up on the bed, walking across it to the window. He pushed it open silently and crouched on the ledge, just inhaling the scent of fresh night air. it was a cool night but not unbearably so. In the distance he could hear the howls of a wolf pack travelling the hills outside of town. Their howls weren't the least bit mournful - more joyous, as though they were welcoming the night. Short yips and high-pitched barks joined in on the howls and Goku smiled at the mental image of small wolf cubs tripping over their parents feet, trying to sound just as grown up.
Fighting off the urge to howl along with them, Goku climbed up the window, catching hold of the overhanging roof and pulling himself up easily. The whole roof seemed to glow, the moon's light shining on it full force and Goku grinned in delight. He made his way to the ridge and jumped up on the slender chimney, crouching like a cat and watching the night around him. His mood was already improving.
Gojyo opened his eyes. He had heard something. He sat up, his eyes peering through the darkness. No one. Huh. Deciding he must be hearing things, the half-breed went to lay back down again but was stopped by a low creaking noise.
" I 'knew' I heard something," he murmured. Standing up, he threw his white shirt on, leaving the vest where he'd thrown it earlier that night. He strode over to the window, sliding it open, squinting out into the surrounding night. Nothing seemed amiss; he couldn't hear anything.
Then the breeze carried a familiar scent to him and Gojyo blinked. Goku? Why wasn't he sleeping? Part of his mind wanted to go back to sleep, coaxing him with thoughts of his nice, soft, comfortable bed. The other half of his mind was concerned about the younger demon. After all, he claimed no memory about what had happened earlier that week, when he'd transformed into his full form and had become a feral creature, attacking Gojyo when he'd tried to stop him. Hakkai had tried talking to Goku about it but the kid kept insisting he was fine. Sanzo was no help, uninterested in coddling a demon.
" He knows I don't blame him for it," Sanzo had told Gojyo. " So he should just get over it."
Gojyo felt that was kind of harsh. He didn't know what it felt like to lose a part of yourself and come back to find that you've attacked your friends, turning into a vicious killer that was only stopped because the gods themselves had intervened to put his Limiter back on, but it couldn't be THAT easy to get over it. Could it?
Then again, maybe he was over-reacting. Maybe Goku just wasn't tired and wanted to sit up outside for a bit. Gojyo sighed. Regardless of the reason, he knew that 'he' would be getting no more rest that night unless he went and double-checked on the kid.
" I'm getting too damn soft," he growled as he reached up to the roof.
Goku squinted, focusing all of his limited concentration on the horizon where the howls were coming from. With his heightened senses he could just barely make out small dark dots in the distance that he knew were the wolves. Wistfully, he wondered what it would be like to run free with them for just one night. To let loose and let the animal inside him run with its brothers in freedom instead of mayhem. He reached out one hand, so caught up in the daydream that he never heard the other approach him until Gojyo was standing directly behind him.
" GAAAHHH!" Goku jumped with surprise and flailed his arms wildly. He would have fallen from his precarious perch on the chimney had the half-breed not reached out and steadied him.
" Easy 'Saru'," he grinned, using the nickname he'd adopted for the teen. Goku glared at him.
" Don't call me that! And you scared me!"
Gojyo chuckled at the admission of fear from the most dangerous fighter he'd ever known. " What are you doing up here anyway? Dontcha' know it's past your bedtime?"
Goku blinked and looked back at the wolves in the distance. " I know."
Gojyo knew trouble when he saw it. He looked at the cigarette in his hand and then sighed, putting it back in his pocket. Some things had to be prioritized though he'd deny it vehemently if anyone accused him of placing the kid above his nicotine habit. He leaned forward and rested his forearms on the chimney next to Goku, looking out in the same direction.
" Whatcha' watchin'?"
Goku looked at him in surprise. The civil, curious tone from Gojyo was almost as foreign as him not pulling out a smoke. He shrugged.
" Just listening to the wolves."
He was expecting a laugh, a snort, anything but what he got. Gojyo nodded at him in understanding. " I used to do that back home when I was younger. I stopped when I was about eight though."
" How come?"
" Because the wolves were free."
Goku was quiet.
" You are too," he pointed out finally. Gojyo quirked a brow at him.
" Am I?" He let his eyes drift back to the wolves. " Sure this trip is fun, and I don't regret coming along. I meet lots of pretty girls and I get to kill a lot of youkai. But what if I had refused?"
" But you couldn't...." Goku trailed off as comprehension slowly dawned on him. Freedom was a tricky thing. They travelled under the illusion that they were free but always they were pulled West, towards a destiny they had to fulfill. " Oh."
" So what's bothering you kid?" Gojyo asked, going back to the reason he'd come out in the first place. " You fought hard today - you can't tell ME you're not tired."
" I am," Goku said slowly, drawing circles on the chimney ledge. " I just didn't feel like sleeping."
" Why not?"
"I was thinking."
Gojyo sighed and rubbed his forehead, determined not to lose his temper. Getting Goku to talk when he didn't want to, rare as that was, was like pulling teeth.
Goku jumped down off the ledge and sat on the ridge at the roof's edge, letting his legs dangle over the side. He mumbled something too low for Gojyo to fully hear and the redhead leaned down.
" I said, I'm sorry."
" S'what I thought you said." Gojyo sat down next to him, leaning back on his elbows and tilting his head back. The moon's rays spilled across his face. " Gonna tell me why?"
Goku looked at him as though he'd grown a third arm. " What do you mean, why? I nearly killed you when I transformed during that battle with Shuuei. I tried to kill you, and if Kanseion Bosat-su hadn't put my diadem back on, I would have gone after Hakkai and Sanzo too." His voice cracked as he spoke, his words coming faster. " And you have to ask me why?"
Gojyo sighed and looked at the upset youkai beside him. " Baka. Didn't I tell you it was okay? I ain't that weak! You didn't hurt me; you didn't even come close. Well, unless you count using my arm as a chew toy. What'd'ja think it was, a chicken leg or something?" He grinned, trying to coax a smile out of the younger boy.
" It's not funny! And it's not okay!" Goku folded his arms and hunched in on himself. " A few more minutes and I might have bitten your arm clean off! All I had to do was swipe at you and my claws would have gutted you in seconds! I'm not stupid! I saw the slash marks I left on the ground!"
" So why didn't you?" Gojyo asked him sensibly. " If you could have killed me in the few minutes I was fighting you, why didn't you do it?"
" I don't know! I don't remember anything about it!"
" You wouldn't have killed me," Gojyo said decisively. " You didn't then because a small part of you somewhere inside knew who I was. You wouldn't have let yourself kill me."
" You don't know that for sure."
" Yeah, I do. I'm smarter then you too; therefore what I say, goes."
Goku gaped at him and that ridiculous line of reasoning. Gojyo winked. Goku blinked and finally, a small smile appeared on his face.
" That's a stupid reason."
" It's the only one I got," Gojyo shrugged. " Don't argue with me."
In the distance the wolves began to howl again, capturing their attention. Gojyo saw the wistfulness in Goku's eyes.
" What's up?"
The boy shrugged, his eyes fixed on the horizon. " I dunno. I just feel...I sometimes want to howl along with them." His eyes looked far away.
" They sound so happy. I was happy once. I think."
" And you're not now?"
" I am." Goku brought his legs up, his arms once again wrapping around his knees. The wind came back, ruffling through his hair like invisible fingers and he lifted his face up, feeling the cool breeze flow past. " But sometimes, I have flashes of...another time. You know?" He glanced at Gojyo. " I don't have any memories, nothing real...but sometimes I
see Sanzo and he reminds me of 'something' but my mind won't pick up the memory. Or I look at Hakkai and see him with a book and think 'I've seen this before' but I can't figure out where." His eyes darkened. " And then I get reminded of dark things."
" Dark things?"
" Like when I woke up after transforming. I could feel something on the edge of my mind, something bad. But I couldn't think of it." Goku dropped his face into his knees. " I think I was a horrible person years ago."
" Why do you say that?" Gojyo asked quietly.
" I must have done something horrible to be locked up for five hundred years. Death would have been kinder. But instead, I stayed in that cave for centuries, alone, with no one to talk to. Nothing to do, to eat, nothing except sit there and look at the sun touching the edge of my prison and wondering what it would be like to feel the sun on my back."
He looked up again and for a second, Gojyo saw an age far beyond his years in those golden eyes, frozen-time spell or not .
Goku sighed, closing his eyes. " I don't know what to tell you Goku. I don't know what happened to you all those years ago, what you could have done to warrant a punishment like that." His eyes opened and he stared directly at the younger demon. " But I do know you. You're a good person Goku. I don't see how you could ever deserve a punishment like that. To be honest, me and Hakkai have wondered about that. I mean, damn, you were a child back then. No kid deserves that kind of deal."
Goku thought of the blood left in the ground, the slash marks all over the road courtesy of his claws. " You think so?"
" Definitely." Gojyo finally pulled out his cigarettes, badly needing one. Meaningful conversation was more up Hakkai's alley than his. As it was, he needed reinforcement. Flicking the lighter open, he shielded the tiny flame from the breeze as he lit up. Goku's nose wrinkled. Gojyo cocked his head.
" Sanzo I can understand. He's human. How can YOU smoke those things?"
Gojyo blinked. " What the hell are you talking about now?"
" Doesn't the smoke hurt your nose?"
" ....No. You mean it bugs you?"
Goku shrugged. " 'M'used to it. So's Hakkai."
" It bugs Hakkai too?" Gojyo was really confused now. " Why didn't you say something?"
" 'Cause you like it," Goku shrugged. " And I'm not about to try and take Sanzo's cigarettes from him. He might really shoot me!"
" True-" then Gojyo stopped as he remembered something. Sanzo lighting up in the car. In the room with the windows wide open. Outside. Never in small enclosed places. Never when in close proximity to Goku or Hakkai." Shit. I never realized."
Goku waved him off. " I don't care. I just wondered if it hurt your
nose. It must not."
Gojyo chuckled. So many revelations. Not exactly what he had planned for when he'd first come out but still, he wasn't doing too badly. Suddenly, Goku tugged on his arm.
" Let's go see the wolves!"
" Huh?" Gojyo's smoke fell from his lips as he was tugged to his feet. Well, off the roof first. He yelped and barely managed to catch his balance before hitting the ground.
" What the hell do you think you're
" Going to see the wolves!" the boy repeated. " Come with me!"
" But it's late and we have to be up--" Gojyo stopped talking as he saw the animation in the youthful face, golden eyes glowing with eager excitement, and he couldn't bring himself to play the part of the heavy. Hell, it wasn't his job anyway.
He sighed in resignation. " Sanzo's gonna kill me-"
" C'mon!" The next thing Gojyo knew, Goku had sped off across the meadow, heading for the wolves. A reluctant grin tugged at the corner of his mouth.
" Baka brat." With that, he blurred into action, racing after the small whirlwind, catching up quickly. The howls were growing louder and Gojyo heard a strange new voice join in. Looking at Goku, he grinned to see the younger boy howling to his heart's content as he raced over the ground, skipping over up-turned roots and leaping over rocks that littered the path before him. Gojyo laughed out loud.
From the window of the inn where they were staying, Hakkai watched the two of them play under the moonlight with a small smile. He would have gone up to check on Goku himself but Gojyo had beaten him to it. And had done a good job, too. Sanzo appeared next to him, one golden eyebrow raised slightly.
" They're going to complain about not getting enough sleep tomorrow."
" They can sleep in Jeep while we travel," Hakkai countered smoothly. " Let them play, Sanzo." His eyes darkened. " In the times ahead of us, we may need happy memories to help keep us going."
Sanzo didn't say anything. He watched the two youkai chasing after the wolves in the distance for a few minutes before turning and going back to his room. Hakkai watched for a little bit longer before going to bed.
" I knew I'd regret that," Gojyo muttered, yawning loudly as he sat in the backseat the next morning. Beside him, Goku was rubbing his eyes sleepily. Hakkai smiled at the two of them.
" That's what happens when you play all night with the wolves."
Gojyo started. He knew? He threw a look at Sanzo and saw the blonde monk smirking at him in the rear view mirror. Damn! Gojyo slouched back against his seat, grumpily searching his pockets for another cigarette and swearing irritably when he couldn't find any. Hakkai started Jeep and with a spin of the tires, they were on the road again.
Gojyo rested his head in his hand, propped up on the door and closing his eyes. Then he felt a weight on his shoulder. Looking over, he saw Goku had fallen asleep leaning against him. That couldn't be comfortable.
Gojyo spared the two in the front seat a quick look and then decided he didn't care. They'd already caught him last night after all. He could always claim temporary insanity later, and besides, he was too tired. He reached over and gently pulled the young youkai down, letting him use his leg as a pillow. Goku didn't even wake up, merely turning half on his side and curling up like a cat. One hand found its way beside his mouth. Gojyo shook his head and let one hand rest on the kid's back. Then he
leaned his head back and went to sleep himself.
 Frozen time-spell. I haven't seen the entire series yet but I do know that despite being locked in a cave for five hundred years, they still refer to Goku as being 18. Somehow, time didn't touch Goku while he was trapped. So I called it a frozen time-spell. If that's incorrect, or there's a different explanation, please let me know.