Title: Taboo

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

Disclaimer: I have absolutely no rights whatsoever. For tortured daydreaming purposes only. XD No, wait… the poems at the beginning and end are mine. Mine, you hear? XD

Rating: T/M for language.

Summary: A love song for Sha Goyjo and Genjyo Sanzo

A/N: My follow-through to the two Gunlock episodes, "Stupid Woman" and "Muzzle". For some reason the first ep really upset me… so I had to write this. (All this fanfic writing must have addled my brain… I get upset if my guys are paired with anyone else! Hehehe…) Warning: Mega MEGA angst ahead! Read at your own risk…

---

I scream in silence

I bleed in secret

I cry in hiding

I suffer alone.

I love in vain.

"Tragic" Copyright by the Author

---

AMETHYST

Betrayed.

Fool.

Shit but it hurts.

What does? Your heart? Your soul? Do your very fingertips ache? Does it hurt to even breathe? What hurts, pray tell?

…Non-attachment.

---

We had all frozen when she had approached. Slowly. Deliberately. And with a precise flick of her wrist ignited the passion of a long-legged, soft-hearted, brave-spirited, happy-go-lucky kappa. Gojyo. Our Gojyo.

The woman had lured him away to the bar, and now they stand up, and the woman slips her arm into Gojyo's, and they walk away.

"They've gone," says Goku, as if not quite believing it.

"Her hair…" says Hakkai, mild voice concealing whatever he really feels about the situation.

And I… I lean back, light another smoke, and state the obvious. "Yes… she is a taboo child."

---

We retire upstairs, the remaining three. This is not unusual – Gojyo has left us before, like this, at other times, in other places, throughout this long journey. He is our resident playboy after all. Goku is the whiny, perpetually hungry kid who makes life unbearable and interesting; Hakkai is the quiet caretaker who makes life tolerable and comfortable, and I… I am the cold leader to whom all their lives are tethered. I give orders and make decisions and keep my mind focused on our goal. Come hell or high water, come tragic, foolish Fighting Gods or weird, lunatic kami-samas deluding themselves about my title… come bloody brainwashing youkai and a bloody brainwashed brat prince and his infernally annoying kid sister… We are heading West.

That's what I tell myself as I lie on my side, trying to read the same paragraph for the twelfth time. But all my mind, all my being, is focused on him… the missing one, the fourth one, the impetuous daredevil.

He's gone off like this before, to be with a woman. Hakkai blesses such instances, and I shrug them off, as they make for a more peaceful time on the jeep the next day. But this time… this time it somehow feels different. She is not the first older woman for him. No. She is taboo.

Unexpectedly, he's back. She ran off, or something. Hakkai and Goku tease him about it. I make no comment. I do not even admit to myself that it is relief that I feel. I just lie there, impassive as ever, bespectacled eyes finally focusing on my book.

And then… Hakkai turns from the window. "Gojyo? The redheaded lady…"

And unexpectedly, he's gone again.

Hakkai echoes Goku's words earlier. "They've gone…"

"Is it okay?" Goku asks.

"Leave him alone." Is that steady, indifferent voice really my own? Amazing it doesn't crack, the way something inside me cracks right now.

"I hope there won't be any trouble," Hakkai says with a worried frown.

"Trouble?" Goku queries, puzzled.

"Well, sometimes Gojyo is too nice…" Hakkai continues to fret.

With my back turned to them, I can afford to reply with a single, dismissive, bored syllable. "Huh."

---

So here I am. Waiting. As I never did before. As I never had cause to before. You bastard. Do you see it's a trap? Do you even care? Does she mean that much to you? Taboo child…

…And here you come, what a sight, bearing your wasted princess in your arms, gallant gentleman that you are. Do you look at her with the same heat, the same passion, the same aching longing, as you look at me when you think I'm not aware of it?

Up the stairs now. I slip soundlessly to my room, noiselessly shut the door, and creep into bed and sit there, hunched, my arms wrapped around my knees, as I close my eyes and picture you…

…Walking, stumbling, drunk again, are you?… moving to what I know is your bed in that corner… I get up, intending to leave, to go downstairs, get away from the heated, passionate sounds that I know will soon be forthcoming… but I'm frozen in place as it seems now you're walking away from the bed, and collapse on the sofa, and I can hear you breathing steadily… asleep.

What the hell? I resume my position, sitting, and in a while – an eternity – I hear a muffled scuffle, the cold clang of something metallic dropped on the floor… I jump to my feet, revolver flashing in my hand, then freeze in my tracks yet again as I catch your low, lazy, seductive voice speaking in low tones… I hear her crying… I catch your words, "Because you're a pretty lady…" And I crawl into bed, and curl up, and brace myself for the agony of what's going to come next…

…The noises that I have endured countless times before, your husky groans and low murmurs, the passionate sounds that you make as you find release from the torture, release that I can never find, release that is denied to me, release that is forbidden, being who I am… being what I am. And so I have endured such nights before, grateful that you, at least, of the both of us, can find empty comfort in a faceless woman's arms. As we can never find in each other…

…I brace myself, I grit my teeth, but the gods finally take pity on me as, mercifully, you love your redheaded, red eyed woman soundlessly.

---

At breakfast I stay silent. Do you notice? Do you care? Do you see me? Your eyes have a faraway look.

"So she was sent to kill you," Hakkai says. "We knew that before."

The monkey eats, oblivious. The monkey always eats. "Why didn't you beat her, Gojyo?"

"It's an adult's matter," you reply, and your eyes, those claret eyes that have stolen a thousand burning glances at me, grow glazed, unfocused, as you relieve memories… moments you spent with her.

---

"What? She's gone!" cries Goku.

And the window breaks, and the note comes, and with it the cruel hank of fragrant red hair.

Of course you decide to go. Of course. It's not about honor, or being a hero, or even about simple anger. It's your goddamn soft heart.

"We don't have time for this. We're not waiting," I warn as you brush past me. You give your usual glib remark

And you're gone.

What will we see when we get there? Will we see your stupid dead body, as goddamn youkai gloat over it? Will we see ourselves driving away with one less member to our party? Will we see the conquering hero, cocky, triumphantly waiting to bask in his glory?

Or will I see the end of my life as you stand there beside her, as you tell us she is your soul mate, the other half of yourself you never thought you'd find? Will I see the book closing on a chapter in my life, a chapter that has not yet begun, a chapter that can never be written…

…We see you, sitting on top of the rock, smoking away without a care in the world.

---

Your scarlet eyes slide to me pleadingly as we drive off, as you spout the same old flamboyant playboy bullshit. I do not turn. Your eyes now burn a hole in my back, but whereas always before it was a tortuous thrill it now feels only like a searing, scorching pain that runs through my blood and leaves me cold and hurting and empty… and betrayed.

"You never learn…" I finally drawl, nonchalant, while inside my heart splinters into a million shards, and pieces of it scatter behind us as we continue West, pieces I can never reclaim again.

---

RUBY

Dammit.

Damn all the gods in heaven, for your stupid, shitty honor, your unwavering conviction, your goddamn pure principles. For that is what you are. Pure. The most UNholy holy man that walks the face of the earth, and a Sanzo at that, keeper, guardian, sentinel of the Holy Scriptures of Heaven and Earth. Blasphemous as you are, chain smoker, gambler, drinker, gunslinger… Profane as you are, arrogant, ungentle, foul-mouthed, short-tempered, disdainful, superior, smug creature.

You are pure, sitting there by the window, bathed in the moonglow of which your very skin seems to be made. An ethereal being with your straight spine, the wise arch of your brow, the proud tilt of your finely chiseled chin… An angel, no, a god, fallen from heaven to learn what pain is, how suffering goes… what it means to cry.

You are purity itself, even as you raise long, slender fingers to light another filthy cigarette; purity encased in your alabaster skin, the perfection of your face, the flowing white robes that proclaim your closeness to the gods.

And you are pure, because you are a goddamn honorable bastard, and there is one vow you refuse to break. Just one vow, and it stands between us like a black abyss. Touch me not. And damn my honor too, but I respect that. I respect you. Wicked, irreverent, wild, shocking, outrageous creature that I am. I respect you.

And so I approach you carefully. Violet eyes spit violence at me as I draw near – You dare come to me? You dare come to me now? I see your outrage, and your hurt, and your barely concealed hate, but I dare. Yes I do. You see, I cannot help myself.

"Oi, can I borrow a light? I'd forgotten that the flint on my lighter ran out…" I say lightly, though my heart pounds like a sledgehammer, waiting, willing you to crack, yes, crack, so I can scoop you up in my arms and make you whole again.

"'Ch." Your eyes drop dismissively. You stub out your smoke, a click! as you toss the lighter on the nightstand. My eyes close in despair. You can't even bear to hand it to me yourself, to endure that brief connection.

I open my eyes, and you have shut me away, on your side, in your bed, the covers drawn up completely, facing away from me.

Why are you still carrying her? I left her behind miles ago… a hundred years before she ever showed up.

Flash of lightning. The sudden furious drumming of rain. You jerk the covers over your head.

I swallow my howls and walk away.

---

"Hakkai…"

"Nani?"

"I've decided to carry two lighters from now on!"

"Good for you. Now hurry up, Gojyo – we have to find him before nightfall."

Are you really lost? Are you hurt? Or are you simply still sulking about a goddamn stupid woman? By all the gods in heaven, I swear, I will never fathom why we dance this dance. Me with my ladies and you with your pained indifference, and forever this unfinished feeling between us.

And fuck it all my lighter is broken. Where the hell are you?

The monkey calls, his high, whiny voice for once serving a good purpose, the way it carries and reverberates and pierces all corners of this cursed, impossible, impassable forest. "Sanzo… Sanzo!… Sanzooooo…."

Hakuryu trills. Hakkai listens. And then he starts running, calling urgently for me to follow, as if I need any urging. And as we crash through the trees with the monkey's calls echoing in my head, it comes – the gunshot. Just one.

I forget everything. I forget who I am. I run. I leave Hakkai and the dragon behind. I run.

…And there you are, lying in the crimson stain of your own blood. My head reels, my lungs hurt, and my heart threatens to explode in my chest as it begs for oxygen. But I forget how to breathe.

I forget how to breathe, at the sight of you there, so pale you aren't human, barely alive… the scattered cigarette butts around you testament to how long you endured the pain alone, the sight of your black top torn to shreds and clumsily bound to your bleeding side ripping a hole in my heart as flashes of your solitary struggle imbed themselves in my soul.

I curse myself, I curse Hakkai and Goku, and I curse you. I curse you for your bloody bull-headedness, fragile, unconquerably courageous, frail human that you are, with your will of steel. But mostly I curse myself. And dammit, here I am, barely breathing yet again as I fall on my knees beside you, though the sight of you ailing or wounded or fallen is something I've seen enough times before. Still, I cannot bear it, no more than any of the other times, and it still takes my breath away, and not in a good way.

I choke when you're hurt.

So I don't even see the little brat sprawled facedown beside you, I don't even see Goku come crashing through the bushes, with Hakkai close at his heels. All I see is you. All I hear is the blood roaring in my ears as I curse the gods, curse them, and pray to them, and make promises and threats and offer my paltry life in exchange for yours.

"So dear I love him that, with him all deaths I could endure; without him live no life." – John Milton

And when Hakkai has made certain that it's just a flesh wound (but you lost a lot of blood), and when Hakuryu delivers the sutra that you somehow managed to lose – bad boy! – and when the poor monkey has assured himself that you're still alive, and they've seen to Lirin and pieced the story together…

I pick you up, a precious weight in my arms, regret and despair and unshed tears running riot in my soul. I pick you up, and cradle you to my heart, (-touch me not-) and carry you back the weary path up the mountains, and away to healing, and to rest.

---

I stand at your bedside, as you lie there facing away from me. Hakkai and Goku are asleep in their beds, with Hakuryu, here in this room that we all agreed to share, on account of your condition. I stand at your bedside, and if ever I were given to fidgeting I would do so now.

"Sanzo…"

"Nani?" you reply, after a long time, your voice icy.

"……"

"Doushite!" Your voice is harder now. Steely.

I clear my throat. "Daijobou?" I ask, and I cannot keep the tremble from my voice.

"I'm fine." Slightly softer now. Only just.

"I was just wondering if you wanted another painkiller…"

"I said I'm fine!" Your ivory shoulders stiffen even more, although how could marble grow any more cold, any more unyielding?

I swallow a lump in my throat. I can't help myself as I reach out a shaking hand toward your golden head, and there it stays, for an eternity, hovering, caressing the halo of light that encircles your hair… my fingers trembling, aching to touch a strand – just one strand.

Touch me not. The unspoken words slice through me like a blade, and my hand falls to my side, the unfulfilled ache in my throat threatening to choke me.

I pad over to my bed, just opposite yours, and I slide down to the floor and lean back and feast my eyes instead.

I know what you're thinking. And what you think is wrong, and it pains me that you even assume that about me. How could you ever think that she could measure up to you?

The older woman with the same red hair and eyes as myself… and that was all that we shared. Just the genes, if you could call it that. Maybe the loneliness, yes – but then again, aren't we all lonely in this world? None so more than you, my beautiful, solitary, tortured priest.

Perhaps we shared the same pain of being the outcasts, half-breed, taboo. The suffering of never really belonging. Yes, we had that in common.

So I felt sorry for her. So what. So I let my foolish kind nature dictate my actions. So I was a gentleman, and played along with her game. So fucking what, Sanzo? So I went to bed with her. Why the fuck not?

And so I offered her a ride. I offered her a way out. But I never said I'd come back for her. I never asked her to wait for me. The thought never crossed my mind. She'd have been waiting for nothing, you see. Even if she and I are the same. Taboo. Even if the two of us who never belonged could have belonged to each other… Because I go where you go. I follow where you lead. I want only to belong to you. My heart has never belonged to anyone else.

So I went to her rescue. So I beat up the demons. So what. Did you know I spared her foolish Bakurain the end? I spared him, and the bastard shot at me, and she – stupid woman – blocked the needles. And so I finished him off after all. Stupid bastard. And you know what the silly woman asked for, in the end? To die with him. With the fucking shit. Of course I said yes.

You know why? Because I'm a stupid shit myself. Torturing myself day after day… my fingers tingling to touch porcelain skin, my lips burning to taste hard cynical lips, my eyes scorched by the blinding dazzle of sunkissed hair and cool amethyst eyes.

I burn for you. I would die for you. The saru is your ward, seemingly; attached to you like some blindly adoring kid to a cherished father. My best friend is bound to you according to the dictates of the temple, until our journey is ended and you pass judgment on his sentence.

But I… I am free. My hands are not tied by fate or obligation. I can only fucking wish they were. I just follow you blindly, and I don't kid myself that it's about brotherly concern for Gonou – for Hakkai – or an honorable loyalty I've developed for this mission. I'm just drawn to you. Like the moth to the flame, and I've been singed so many times that I'm numb, devoid of feeling. A zombie. But I never learn, I refuse to learn. I'd rather be incinerated by your radiance than live without it. I guess I'm just a sucker for punishment.

Yes, she was special. Out of all the nameless, faceless women I've had. Kougyoku. Her name I remember. And why not. She could have been the one. Yes. I admit that, I accept that. Could have been. But the impossibility exists not because of Bakura, or because of my commitment to our mission, or even because she was simply a goddamn stupid woman after all. It was only a "could have been", it was only an empty fantasy, because there was no place left in my heart for her. For anyone. You occupy it all.

She was a kindred spirit, yes. But you… my heart tells me that you are my soul's mate. She could have completed me, she could have been the other half of me… But without you, I am nothing. Without you, there simply wouldn't even be a half of me to complete.

Kougyoku was a fantasy. That's all she was. You are my dream. Do you recognize the difference? Do you see the distinction? A fantasy is empty, meaningless, absurd… insignificant. That is its whole point. You know from the start that it's not real. It's make-believe.

But a dream… a dream is a hope. Whether real or imagined, the possibility is there. Foolish or not, you cling to the hope. Even if it hurts like hell. Even if sometimes the dream ceases to be a dream and becomes a horrid nightmare. You keep on hoping, you hold that fragile hope tight in your hand, and wish and pray to the gods that it doesn't crumble to dust in your palm.

A fantasy you have control over, you decide anytime to finish it once you get tired of it. A dream takes control over you. You cannot escape it. It clutches you in its merciless, savage hands and will not yield, though you be broken and bleeding and stumbling and blind.

You are my dream, Sanzo. As close to heaven as a beating heart will allow. Bright and shining and utterly cruel, utterly cold. Ultimately untouchable.

You think you suffer right now? You think jealousy bites? Hah. Jealousy is nothing. Try the bleakness of despair, the hunger that can never be satisfied, the thirst that can never be quenched, the need that can never be fulfilled… this goddamn feeling that can never be finished.

Fire and Ice.

Faith and Courage.

Blood and Gold.

You and I.

Touch me not... It's taboo.

---

There's a word for what I feel for you.

Stronger than love.

Stronger than caring.

Stronger than passion

or obsession.

Forever.

No matter what.

No matter where.

Nothing else is as strong

As that single reality.

Even if you cannot belong to me.

Even if it's turned out to be

The one great bitter irony…

For we both know,

Though refuse to admit, that –

We have a bond

Stronger than either friendship or love

And though we cannot be together

We will never, ever be apart.

---

He stirs. His breath catches, and he muffles a cry of pain.

He stands up. He walks over to the nightstand. He picks up the medicine bottle and shakes out two pills, and offers them to him with his palm down, right in front of the face that is turned away from him. He will not budge. He can be stone cold too.

…Slowly, he reaches up. He winces with every tiny movement. He can't stand it, and goddammit all he can point the gun at him but he will help him up. He lets him, without protest, and he supports him as he swallows the pills, and sighs, and lies back down without a word. He rummages around some more on the nightstand, finds his cigarettes, and lights him a smoke. He takes it from his fingers with a single piercing glance from those eyes the color of twilight.

He turns away and walks back to his own bed, collapses down, and lights a smoke for himself.

And so they smoke in silence, and tomorrow is another day.

-owari-

---

A/N: The last four lines of my poem are borrowed from the TV series Beauty and the Beast. Kudos to those who get the metaphor of the final scenario! Peace pipe, anyone?

---

Japanese mini-glossary:

Kappa: Water imp

Kami-sama: God

Youkai: Demon

Nani: What

Doushite: What is it (strictly, "So… why?")

Daijobou: Are you all right?

_____________
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