Title: Longing 3: The Sunset Road - Chapter 6

Author: Befanini
Website: http://www.fanfiction.net/~befanini

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."

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Chapter 6

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"Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night. I miss you like hell." – Edna St. Vincent Millay

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XxXxX

"And so how now, hage bouzu? All I have are the ashes, one small spark from your glow…"

He grinned lopsidedly, but it was more of a grimace. He carefully deposited the small urn into the ground, together with the miniature oil painting of himself, as Sanzo had requested. And then he leaned back on his knees and raised his face to the heavens, fighting to control the tears that had been his constant companions for the past week.

He lost. He collapsed in a heap beside the tiny grave, under the shade of the great tree where he had made love to his rogue priest so long ago. He'd thought he was empty. He'd thought he'd cried all the tears there were to cry. He was wrong.

"SANZO!" he cried out, throwing his head back, desperate to escape the utter blackness that threatened to swallow him whole. The grief-filled howl echoed through the trees, as Sanzo's scream had echoed long ago.

And then he composed himself with a shuddering sigh, and set out to accomplish what he had come here to do.

---

XxXxX

When the time had come, the tide had gone out easily and painlessly for Sanzo after all, despite all their fears. For their arrogant, implacable leader, the end had come as naturally and as peacefully as sleep.

He'd thought he was prepared, as he took a deep breath and opened the door. He'd hoped he was strong enough to give the others strength… to give his Sanzo strength.

He was barely able to breathe.

Sanzo was in bed, and the very sight of him rocked Gojyo to the core. It was almost as if he had already gone. He looked like a wraith, he looked like pure spirit there under the covers as Hakkai read to him softly from a book of haiku.

"Yuku ware ni
todomaru nare ni
aki futatsu."

I go;
Thou stayest:
Two autumns.

How fitting, though Hakkai didn't know it.

Goku was in a chair on the other side of the bed, holding Sanzo's hand, his still-boyish cheek resting against the frail hand that he gently stroked, the innocent golden eyes never leaving Sanzo's face.

Hakkai looked up as Gojyo softly closed the door and walked over to the ikkou, now gathered together for the last time. The healer closed the book, and murmured to Goku. Hakkai placed his hand over Sanzo's forehead with a soft smile, and then they left the room quietly, Hakkai stopping beside him to inform him softly, "He's been waiting for you."

The door closed, and Gojyo found himself alone with Sanzo. He forced himself to walk the rest of the way to the bed, and sat down in the chair that Hakkai had vacated. He felt like he was sleepwalking, like he was moving in a dream… he felt like he was someone on the outside, watching himself as he softly picked up the frail, white hand and finally met the piercing stare of the beautiful, faded violet eyes.

"I'm here, bouzu," he choked out, blinking hard to stem his tears.

"No shit, baka," Sanzo rasped, surprising a chuckle from him. "I thought you might have chickened out on me."

"Yamero, Sanzo…" Gojyo said fiercely. "I've made the trek up those goddamn mountains a thousand times. Why should I fail to come now?"

They gazed at each other for a long time, feeling as though time hung suspended. Even now it did not seem possible. How could the longing be so great? And how could either of them ever find release? It seemed not even death, the ultimate end, could make any difference at all.

Sanzo broke the silence. "I've left my books to Hakkai…" he whispered. "And the AnEx to the bakazaru…" He laughed weakly. "I'm afraid that a Sanzo-Houshi hasn't much to give away, living the austere life that is demanded of us…"

"Urusei, hage bouzu," Gojyo whispered gruffly, feeling his heart break and splinter into a million shards. "Just shut the fuck up…"

"I'm afraid all I have to leave you is the banishing gun…"

Gojyo shook his head fiercely.

"But only if you keep your promise… the last bullet stays where it is…"

Atooishinjuu.

Gojyo clenched his teeth, and nodded. Sanzo sighed and closed his eyes.

'I want something else," Gojyo said, brushing back silken strands of hair from Sanzo's eyes with trembling fingers.

"Nani?" Sanzo rasped, without opening his eyes.

"I want the miniature. They belong together," Gojyo requested in a shaky voice, even as his mind screamed at him. It was almost time. Feast your eyes now, kappa. It was almost time.

"Iie. It goes with me," Sanzo denied, his voice now barely audible, so that Gojyo had to lean close. "I've instructed Hakkai. Talk to him. It's all taken care of," Sanzo forced out, his breathing shallow.

Gojyo watched him helplessly, caught between terror and horror and anguish… and unbelievable, heartwrenching tenderness. It was the tenderness that broke him. Despite his fierce vows to himself, he fell apart.

"Sanzo…" he gasped, his hand tightening forcefully on the priest's hand, as if his doing so would tether Sanzo's spirit to his body. "I can't bear this, I can't—"

Sanzo opened his eyes, and once more his voice was strong and commanding as he sought to comfort the kappa, to ease Gojyo's pain. "You can bear it, Gojyo. And you will. … Because you love me."

Red eyes collided with violet.

Time stood still.

Sanzo had finally said it. Sanzo had said it for him.

Gojyo shuddered, amazed at the lacerating pain that the moment produced in his soul. His very fingertips ached.

At last.

"Now go," Sanzo rasped weakly. "Go, you fool. And send the bakazaru in. Just him. I want to be alone with Goku…" he requested, fighting back tears. He'd thought he was ready to go. Arrogant, stupid bastard. He'd promised himself no tears. He'd thought he was ready… But nothing in the world could have prepared him for this.

Gojyo stood up and leaned over carefully and touched his lips to Sanzo's forehead for a long, lingering moment. "I love you, Sanzo…" he whispered achingly, drawing back slowly, letting the words wash over him, over them both, as he struggled to contain his own tears.

Beneath him, Sanzo lost the fight, the tears overflowing and spilling down as his eyes closed, letting the declaration pierce his heart and echo in his soul and saturate his whole being. I love you. "GO, you fool…" he hissed fiercely.

Gojyo bent down again and pressed a soft, fleeting kiss on his lips for the last time. "Jamatane, hage bouzu… God be with you," he whispered brokenly, and then he turned his back and forced himself to walk away.

Lying down in the bed, barely able to feel his body anymore, Sanzo sighed. Jamatane. Not sayonara, but see you soon. Until we meet again.

Gojyo was almost to the door, when Sanzo's voice halted him.

"Oi. Erogappa."

Gojyo froze.

"Remember your promise."

Atooishinjuu. Bloody hell.

But Sanzo surprised him. "Be happy…" the monk rasped, his voice weak but the tone commanding.

Gojyo felt his heart clench tight. Dammit. Fuck it all… He nodded, and gripped the doorknob.

"Kappa."

Gojyo dropped his hand and clenched his fists, certain of what was to come, and suddenly unsure if he could bear it, after all. He turned slowly, and saw Sanzo through the veil of tears blurring his vision. His heart thundered in his chest.

"Aishiteru…" Sanzo said hoarsely.

The tears spilled over.

His heart stopped.

And then he bowed his head, humbled, overwhelmed, and unable to breathe.

"Go," Sanzo commanded, and he went without looking back, pulling the door shut softly behind him.

---

XxXxX

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And so it was done.

He wrenched his eyes from the door where the maddening, intoxicating rascal had exited, and he heaved a great sigh. The weary purple eyes drifted out the window to gaze at the day's close, the shadows now lengthening. That chapter was ended at last.

And he had only a page or two to go…

The door opened, and the final character entered. The bakazaru. Torment and burden of his life. Goku. Even at this moment, feeling the life ebbing from his mortal flesh, he could not fathom how it would be to be separated from this pure soul… this innocent creature who seemed to have been a part of him forever.

Gojyo he loved fiercely and totally as he had loved no one in his life, and that love had given him the strength just now to say goodbye.

Whereas Goku… it seemed their bond went beyond the bounds of time itself. Their connection was almost… holy; and it tore him apart what this goddamn inconvenient mortal death must be doing to the stupid monkey.

He hated feeling powerless.

Goku approached him slowly, but without hesitation. In a bizarre twist of fate, it was now Sanzo who needed reassurance from the youkai.

And Goku surprised him by giving it.

"Goku, listen to me…" he began, summoning up the last of his will and strength to somehow make the monkey understand.

"Shh, Sanzo, it's okay. Don't talk anymore," Goku said, clear-eyed, his voice strong.

Sanzo frowned. "I said, listen to me, you goddamn fool," he rasped weakly.

But Goku went over to the window and pushed the shutters wide open, letting in the blazing light from the sinking sun. He walked over back to Sanzo and sat down on the bed. He took one of Sanzo's hands in his own, and with the other he softly stroked Sanzo's hair.

"Look, Sanzo," Goku said, gesturing to the brilliant sunset. "Isn't it beautiful?" he asked, his voice tremulous with wonder and with hope. "That's you, you know. No matter what you say. You've always been my sun," he whispered gently, leaning down to press a boyish cheek against the monk's forehead.

"Urusei, bakazaru…" Sanzo rasped, his voice breaking. Goku ignored him.

"And that's why I know it's going to be all right. Because the sun never really goes away. It sets, it goes to sleep, maybe, but tomorrow it will rise again."

"Baka…" Sanzo murmured, gripping Goku's hand with his last strength. "It's… not that simple… you stupid… monkey…" he whispered desperately.

"But it is, Sanzo," Goku told him with pure certainty. "As sure as I'm alive. I know. You'll come back to me… as you already have."

With immense will, Sanzo turned his head and met the large golden eyes, voicing the question with fading purple eyes, unable to summon up the breath to speak anymore. Goku smiled at him confidently, his expression pure and truthful.

"We were together, long ago… and then we weren't together. And then I woke up in that cave, not knowing what I had lost… until you came again. So I'm not afraid, you see," Goku told him earnestly. "You will be back. Even if I have to wait another five hundred years. As long as it takes…"

Sanzo barely heard him anymore, his gaze drifting back to the magnificent setting sun. He was aware of his human voice somehow making a last effort to speak – he thought he heard himself say "Bakazaru…" one more time, perhaps. Affectionately. Gratefully.

For the light was calling. It was impossible, and it defied all the laws of science and nature – that the soft orange glow of the setting sun should be intensifying into a dazzling brilliant luminescence of pure white… calling to him, beckoning, embracing him in its pristine, white radiance.

Far, far off, it seemed he heard a last echo… "Sanzo…" And the high-pitched, childlike voice was joined by another, and another: one dear and gentle and mild and comforting as always… and the other the low silky voice that had haunted him for more than fifty years. Aishiteru. The pure sorrow in that voice was almost enough to stay him. Almost.

But not quite. For now a pair of wise, dear, familiar hands were in front of him, waiting. He heard a voice he thought he would never hear again… calling a name he had almost forgotten.

"Kouryu…"

He gave a last, wistful sigh.

And Genjo Sanzo was no more.

---

XxXxX

---

Ruby)

Goodnight, my angel

Time to close your eyes

And save these questions for another day

I think I know what you've been asking me

I think you know what I've been trying to say

I promised I would never leave you

And you should always know

Wherever you go

No matter where you are

I will never be far away

(Amethyst)

Goodnight, my angel

Now it's time to sleep

And still so many things I want to say

Remember all the songs you sang for me

And deep inside this ancient heart

You'll always be a part of me

And if you sing this lullaby

Then in your heart

There will always be a part of me

(Ruby/Amethyst)

Someday we'll all be gone

But lullabies go on and on…

They never die

That how you

And I

Will be

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XxXxX

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He finished piling the earth on the small grave, carefully shaping and patting the surface smooth. He walked around a little bit, and gathered enough wildflowers to make a decent bouquet. He laid the flowers gently in front of the mound. And then he sighed again.

He leaned back against the tree, drew out his smokes, and lit up. He gazed up to the sky, and it seemed that the sun glared at him.

He grinned, and fished around in his crushed pack until he found the stick. Marlboro. Lighting it from the tip of his own smoke, he set it down on top of the grave.

"There. Are you satisfied, hage bouzu?"

It seemed he heard the echo of a grunt of approval. He almost heard the "'Ch." that accompanied it.

After Goku had opened the door and called him and Hakkai in to witness Sanzo's last moments, everything had seemed to go by in a blur.

The Grand Wake, with nobles and dignitaries and Holy Men from all over paying their respects to the late Toa… the sleepless nights and weary days as he and Hakkai and Goku greeted the visitors and accepted the condolences and offerings and gifts… Like a true-blue rebel, Sanzo had defied Temple laws and customs, choosing to let his family – Gojyo, Goku and Hakkai – preside over his wake, instead of following religious tradition as befitting a Grand Reverend. Even the "period of mourning" was cut short – only two days, despite the deluge of people coming to pay their last respects. Sanzo had been adamant about that. If he'd had his way completely, there would not even have been a wake.

He also left specific instructions – that the ashes of his remains were to be placed in two urns: one to be given over to the Temple, as tradition dictated. But the other, smaller urn would be buried in the family plot.

That had caused a great deal of questions and murmurings. The late Toa had been an orphan, as everybody knew. Kinzan had been his only home. Where was this supposed family plot?

But Hakkai, acting as Sanzo's executor, had stood firm. Sanzo had told him that Gojyo would take care of it. He had also said, when the two friends had talked quietly together, that if Hakkai – and in the unlikely event, Goku – should wish, they could be buried in the same place as well. Gojyo knows.

Hakkai didn't bother to question Sanzo's wishes. All he cared about was carrying them out.

And so he had handed over Sanzo's ashes, and a small, bulky envelope, without a word. Good old Hakkai. Gojyo wondered if his best friend knew, somehow. Maybe someday, when his feelings were no longer so raw, he would confront Hakkai and ask him about it. Maybe.

And Gojyo knew what to do. Without being told. When he had parted ways with Hakkai after the whole business, and after making sure that Goku was okay, which he was, which was fucking unbelievable – that the bakazaru should have borne it all better than any of them… He, Gojyo, had barely spoken a word the whole time; and Hakkai had choked up and wept while reading from his damn book of poems that the hage bouzu had left him. Hakkai himself had insisted on the unusual eulogy, after getting permission from the next Toa. In light of their Divine Mission, the next Grand Reverend had given his full approval.

The words still rang in his head.

O Captain! my Captain!

Our fearful trip is done

The ship has weather'd every rack

The prize we sought is won…

When he had parted ways with Hakkai, after promising Goku he would visit in a few weeks, he had opened the envelope. There was no letter. Just the miniature.

But he knew what to do.

---

XxXxX

And so here he was, and his task was almost done. Almost. He closed his eyes, willing himself back in time… to that one night that he had held Sanzo in his arms and worshipped him with his body, here in this very spot.

His eyes stung.

His throat burned.

His skin ached.

And his heart… Hell, his heart was a damn traitor. It continued to beat, the stupid thing, oblivious to his pain. It continued to pump life-giving blood through his weary body, when he wanted no life at all.

Atooshinjuu.

He flopped down on his back and crossed his arms behind his head and squinted at the sky through the canopy of leaves above him, the scarlet eyes soft and thoughtful.

So many memories…

The first time he had opened his door… starting on the divine mission… the goddamn tragic Homura and Shien and Zeon… the Brat Prince and his Brat Pack and the shock of seeing his own shock mirrored in the face of his enemy… of his brother.

The deluded Kami-sama… the incredibly clueless Hazel and the patient, sad Gato… the endless encounters with youkai… camping out… squeezing in another damn tiny inn… the arguments, the misunderstandings, the crazy moments, the fun times… the road, the endless road…

He sat up abruptly, and pulled out a flask from his jacket. He uncapped it, and took a deep swig, wincing as the spirit burned a trail of fire down his throat. He tipped the bottle and let the amber liquid trickle down to the brown earth.

"Cognac, hage bouzu. The best there is."

And then he laughed, shaking his head. There was nothing funny in particular. He just felt like laughing. He was so damn tired of crying.

He sobered up, and reached inside his jacket once more. The banishing gun. He'd wasted enough time. There was no point in prolonging it – all this goddamn cornball bullshit of talking to nothing, "smoking" with nothing, "drinking" with someone who was no longer there.

No. It was time to finish it, right now. He refused to wallow in grief any longer. He was just so damn tired

He spun the barrel open, checking again. Yep. Just the one. The last bullet he'd so adamantly refused to let Sanzo fire so long ago, right here in this precise place.

God, bouzu… I miss you so… and it's only been a few days. How do you expect me to go on the next hundred or so years without you? You had no right making me promise. Damn you.

He spun the barrel shut, and heard the sharp click with a satisfied, grim smile. He pulled back the safety catch. He gave a mocking salute, the red eyes almost ink-black with pain.

O Captain, my Captain…

BANG!

---

XxXxX

If tears could build a stairway

And memories a lane

I'd walk right up to Heaven

And bring you home again.

XxXxX

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A/N: Haiku by Buson. "Lullaby (Goodnight, My Angel)" by Billy Joel.

Gojyo does say 'Sayonara'. Our modern 'Goodbye' is a contraction of the last words he whispers to Sanzo: "God be with you". (God be wi' ye.)

I know, I know. If you think you've got it bad, just imagine me typing this with a great big box of Kleenex beside me… (T-T)

To whoever kidnapped my SxGxS muses, give them back, dammit! I'm sick of writing this sad shit… XD

As far as my research goes, the funeral and wake services described are accurate.

And if you think the torture is over, I ain't done with you yet. The last chapter/epilogue to follow… (PS. To Darkness: Apparently, 'erogappa' is the proper romanization. It's still 'kappa' when it stands alone, but coupled with the adjective you have erogappa. Just like bakazaru instead of baka saru. shrugs)

To interested parties, here is the full Walt Whitman tribute to Abraham Lincoln.

O Captain! My Captain!

1

O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;

The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won;

The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,

While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:

But O heart! heart! heart!

O the bleeding drops of red,

Where on the deck my Captain lies,

Fallen cold and dead.

2

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;

Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;

For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;

For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;

Here Captain! dear father!

This arm beneath your head;

It is some dream that on the deck,

You've fallen cold and dead.

3

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;

My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;

The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;

From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;

Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!

But I, with mournful tread,

Walk the deck my Captain lies,

Fallen cold and dead.

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