Title: Longing 3: The Sunset Road - Chapter 2
Disclaimer: I have absolutely no rights whatsoever. For melancholy daydreaming purposes only.
Rating: T for language. Shounen-ai.
Summary: "All I have are the ashes… one small spark from your glow."
"Absence is to love as wind is to a fire: it extinguishes the small and kindles the great."
– Roger de Bussy-Rabutin
"The dream was always running ahead of me. To catch up, to live for a moment in unison with it, that was the miracle." – Anais Nin
Ten years ago…
"Who is that stranger coming up the path?"
"There, walking up the road… you can't miss that red hair, surely?"
The Master looked, and nodded. "Ah. I forgot, you haven't been with us long, have you, Seichu…"
The Master turned to give orders for the others to meet the tall man and help him with his packs. And then he turned back to the young trainee beside him with a gentle smile.
"That, young one, is Gojyo-sama."
"Sonna…" Seichu turned awestruck eyes to the striking half-breed now greeting the monks with a brilliant grin. He turned back to the Master. "Sha Gojyo? Of the legendary—"
"That's him, alright!" Goku cut in, patting Seichu on the shoulder comfortingly. "Close your mouth. He's not that great."
"OI! Bakazaru! You cheeky little…"
Gojyo had glimpsed the widely grinning Goku and was now walking swiftly over to their little group, a broad grin on his own face. He gripped Goku in a headlock, affectionately mussing his hair.
"Quit it, darn erogappa!" Goku scowled, twisting free. He stood glaring up at the kappa, with Gojyo grinning wickedly down at him. And then they moved at the same time, clasping each other in a quick, fierce embrace.
"Is Green-Eyes here yet?" Gojyo inquired, giving the wide-eyed Seichu a friendly nod, before the sensei drew the young man away.
"He should be arriving in a while," Goku replied, as they started off to Sanzo's quarters. "I was expecting you both to show up together, actually."
"Nah. By the time I got the message, it would have taken too long to double back and fetch our healer. Although I wouldn't have minded riding on Hakuryu instead of breaking my back hiking all the way up here."
"There are horses and mules for hire, you know."
"Eh, me and horses don't get along. If that had been our mode of transport back then, I would have quit flat out, Kanzeon Bosatsu or no Kanzeon Bosatsu."
"Yeah, yeah…" Goku mumbled as they drew near Sanzo's rooms. He turned to Gojyo. "I should probably warn you…"
"Heh. I know, I know…" Gojyo waved a carefree hand. "The hage bouzu is pissed as all hell… He always is." Gojyo shrugged.
"Uh-huh." Goku gave a polite knock on Sanzo's door.
"I don't want to be disturbed, Kaji, I told you," came an annoyed rasp from inside.
Goku raised his eyebrows at the kappa. The kappa grinned, and knocked again, louder this time. Without waiting, he opened the door and swaggered in, Goku beside him hiding a grin.
The figure seated at the desk clapped a hand to his face and dragged it down in exasperation. "K'so…"
"Now, now, Sanzo-sama… Is that any way to greet an honored guest you haven't seen in ten months?"
"Honored guest, my ass…" Sanzo growled, ignoring Gojyo and pinning Goku with a glare through his rimless spectacles. "You went ahead and disobeyed my orders, goddamn bakazaru…"
Goku flashed him a dazzling smile in reply. "Yup!" he beamed. "When have we ever missed having a double celebration?" He blinked owlishly at the livid High Priest, who stood up abruptly and walked swiftly over to him, still agile and ramrod-straight, despite his years. Goku yelped, and dashed behind an amused kappa.
"You still carry that lethal weapon on your person, hage bouzu?" Gojyo drawled, arching mocking crimson eyebrows.
Sanzo's hand, groping inside a sleeve, froze. He glowered, without looking at Gojyo. "Urusei… you want a taste of the harisen as well, goddamn erogappa!" he scowled.
"Hai-hai, Sanzo-sama!" Gojyo agreed cheekily. "Come to think of it, it's been quite some time since I've enjoyed the sting of a good, hearty whipping…"
"Baka!" Sanzo elbowed Gojyo away, turning irritated purple eyes to Goku. The monkey waited, biting his lip. Just then—
"Sanzo? Goku…." called a familiar voice from below.
"Hakkai!" Goku yelled excitedly, dashing off quickly with a great sigh of relief.
"Dammit…" Sanzo muttered, turning away to drop back down into his chair disgustedly, wincing slightly. "I specifically stated that I wanted no fuss this year…" he continued to grumble, shuffling the papers on his desk irritably.
Gojyo sauntered over and perched himself on the edge of the desk, swinging a long leg casually. "Eh, you're still a goddamn selfish bastard, bouzu. It's my celebration, too."
Gojyo leaned down to peer teasingly into stormy violet eyes. "Happy Birthday, Beautiful."
Sanzo snorted at this, his lip curling resentfully. "Baka…" he muttered, with a frown.
But it was true. Sanzo was still beautiful. The golden hair might have turned silver, but it was still silken-soft and abundant, the long layers still a declaration of defiance from the maverick monk. The creamy alabaster skin had some natural lines, perhaps, and it now looked even more delicate than before – paper thin, almost, revealing the fine network of blue veins beneath. And although he rarely went without his rimless spectacles now, the faded purple eyes were as sharp and keen as ever.
That was the key to Sanzo's beauty: his fierce spirit shone through so brilliantly. He still possessed the staggering charisma and authority that dazzled and blinded and left one speechless and reverent and awestruck. It was still all there in that steady, unflinching gaze from those ancient eyes in that ageless face.
For he still had the face of an angel.
Gojyo raised his eyebrows. "So modest, hage bouzu…" he drawled lightly, while the crimson eyes hungrily devoured every inch of that beautiful face. How is it possible that I want you even more today than I did yesterday? How is it possible that those eyes still enslave me as much as they ever did? When will I ever get it through my head, that to see you is enough, to hear your voice is enough, to sit beside you is enough… to breath in the same air as you is enough… Ah, dammit to hell. It will never be enough.
Sanzo narrowed his eyes, finally meeting Gojyo's gaze for the first time. "You're still the cocky playboy, spouting your same old playboy bullshit," he muttered, denying the compliment verbally, even as he was rendered breathless by the uninhibited, unadulterated, undiminished worship and naked longing blazing from the beautiful scarlet eyes. You goddamn fool. Goddamn you for showing up again, just as I managed to convince myself that I'm getting too old for this. Goddamn you for making my heart race, and my limbs weak, and my senses run riot… and my soul tremble with sheer yearning for you. Each time you go away I am shattered; and each time I almost manage to put myself back together you show up again and obliterate everything else with your fiery spirit. And yet… This is what I live for… this is what I've spent the past forty-five years living for. Fuck… I'm as much a fool as you are, damn erogappa.
Gojyo leaned back with a mighty effort of will, breaking the eye contact and walking away to stare out the window. "So… ready to celebrate your sixty-ninth, Sanzo-sama? You feel up to drinking me under the table?" Gojyo grinned, turning around.
And the smile faded from his face as he watched the monk throw his head back and swallow an assortment of pills. Suddenly gripped with a cold fear, he moved quickly to stand beside Sanzo, his hands clenched into tight fists.
"Oi. What the hell are those?" he demanded, all teasing gone from his voice.
"'Ch. None of your goddamn business."
Gojyo clenched his teeth, his jaw working, and then he reached out with a faintly trembling hand and gripped Sanzo's shoulder painfully, earning him a vicious, pained glare from evasive violet eyes.
"I said, are you sick, bouzu? Answer me!" he commanded in a shaky voice.
Sanzo shrugged him off with a mocking look. "What the hell do you expect, baka erogappa? This bastard is getting old," he rasped, standing up and motioning Gojyo to move away.
"Daijobou!" Gojyo whispered fiercely, standing rigid in front of him.
Sanzo sighed. "I'm fine, Gojyo. Just some vitamin supplements and heart medication, that's all. Move aside, will you…"
"FUCK!" Gojyo swore. "Heart medications!" he demanded heatedly, feeling his knees weaken. "Dammit, Sanzo, how long has this been—"
An impatient knock sounded at the door, before it was quickly pushed open by a widely grinning Goku, beside him a dear, familiar figure.
"Sanzo!" Hakkai cried joyfully, as he and Goku eagerly entered the room.
Sanzo finally side-stepped the rigid Gojyo and went to shake hands warmly with Hakkai, grinning ruefully. "Goddamn this monkey… I told him not to bother gathering everybody together this year…"
Hakkai laughed heartily, his smile genuine. "Maa, maa, Sanzo," he chided gently. "You say that every year, it's practically part of the tradition. Besides, it's Gojyo's celebration too, you know…"
"That's what I've been trying to get through his thick head," Gojyo scowled, taking control of himself with a mighty effort, and concealing his shock at what he'd just learned. It couldn't be… His heart rejected the idea, even as his mind rationalized that it was so. There were only a few years left… "Still damned selfish as usual…" he drawled lightly, while inside him he screamed soundlessly.
"I have not withdrawn into despair,
I did not go mad in gathering honey,
I did not go mad,
I did not go mad,
I did not go mad."
-- Hoda al-Namai
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