Title: True Colors
Disclaimer: I have absolutely no rights whatsoever. For fangirl daydreaming purposes only. XD
Summary: "The gods don't save anyone. You have to save yourself." … But let me tell you… HE saved ME.
Well, here it is: the 'discovery' fic, the chapter of the Torrent thread that tells how Sanzo and Gojyo came together, and how Hakkai and Goku find out and how they feel about it. I actually started this story waaayyyy before I ever took up writing the SxGxS of Barely Breathing; the first chapter was actually written sometime last July 2005. But I put the story aside when it started to get too OOC (imo) – and then Bad Medicine happened, then Heatwave, then the whole sxgxs just took off with full speed, and everything avalanched until I totally forgot about this fic.
But here it is at last, I dug it up and reworked it, especially for Serephim and Jessica and Aries28 and all the other readers who emailed me asking for it. ) This story starts before the things that took place in "Torrent" – before Goku defeated Homura, but after Sanzo was slashed by the Fighting God's blade.
I have to thank my sister Pebbles for buying me the mangas, on which the heart of this story is heavily based on. Thanks sib! Now I just need the last 4 books… XD XD XD
"With thee I would love to live; with thee I would be willing to die." – Horace
Chapter 1: Stargazers
"He is beautiful, isn't he?"
"Huh?" Gojyo jerked guiltily, bending down and sorting a handful of leaves to hide his blushing face.
Hakkai laughed merrily beside him. "Oh come on, Gojyo… I know you too well… You think our Sanzo is a real beauty, don't you?"
Looking up through his lashes, Gojyo stole another glance at their leader. You wouldn't know it looking at him that just over a week ago the man had been slashed down the chest with a fiery, heavenly blade. He supposed that Genjo Sanzo was high in the favor of Tenkai indeed, and that the strange chakra on his forehead really meant something, after all. It was nothing short of a miracle that he was even up and about. Talk about an iron will and fierce purpose… their leader was deadly determined to finish the thing with Homura no matter what.
Across the inn's lawn, Sanzo was sitting on the grass, his back against a tree trunk, as he read the day's newspaper. The afternoon sunlight glinted off his rimless spectacles. The priestly robes were undone, pooled at his waist. Ivory skin gleamed in the sunshine, the blonde hair circled by a halo of gold. Slender fingers turned the pages, and an alabaster hand raised up to briefly lift off silken strands from his nape as a slight breeze blew. The man was so painfully exquisite, it hurt Gojyo to look at him.
He dropped his eyes once more, and sifted through his handful of leaves. "I think maybe he's been sent by the gods to punish me for my crimes," he answered Hakkai honestly.
Hakkai blinked. It wasn't like Gojyo to give a straight answer. But… punishment? For what crimes? If anything, he, Hakkai, was the murderer that the Sanbutsushin had sent Sanzo to look for. Certainly Gojyo had long since given up the street life since their paths had crossed. So what could his best friend be talking about?
"What do you mean, Gojyo?" Hakkai asked; watching as Goku came tearing out of the bushes and crashed into Sanzo. The healer winced. That had to hurt; Sanzo was still wearing tight bandages until his wound healed completely. Goku paled, stammering with sincere remorse; but Sanzo whipped out his fan and gave the poor monkey a good thwak. Over the distance Hakkai could just make out Goku's whining and Sanzo's irritation. He smiled. That was a good sign. If anything, Sanzo's stubborn spirit would speed his recovery faster than anything else.
"Oh, you know…" Gojyo replied casually, drawing Hakkai's attention back to the redhead. "Punishment for the long trail of broken hearts I've left behind…"
"Didn't you always say that the girls knew the score all along?"
"Aa… but what can I do? I'm irresistible. The ladies can't help falling on love with me…" Gojyo gave a half-grin, but Hakkai looked thoughtful.
"I've known you a long time now, Gojyo, and you've never looked at any woman the way you look at a certain someone." Hakkai stood up and dusted himself off. Hakuryu flew down from the roof and settled on his shoulder. "Seems to me you're punishing yourself. Why don't you just tell him how you feel?"
Gojyo started to fiercely deny that he felt anything, and then he gave a self-mocking snort. "Huh. Yeah, right…" he muttered, eyes downcast. He crushed a handful of dry leaves in his palm as his fist curled tight.
Hakkai turned and looked thoughtfully once more in the direction of their leader. He caught Sanzo staring intensely at the unaware, frowning Gojyo, and then Sanzo spied Hakkai looking and dropped his eyes back to his paper, turning a leaf over nonchalantly.
Hakkai looked down at Gojyo and found him glaring up at him. He gave his friend a fond smile. "You should think about it. What have you got to lose? You know you'll regret it if you don't."
With that, Hakkai walked off, murmuring to the mini-dragon.
Gojyo stared at the retreating healer, shock in his red eyes. He couldn't breathe, all of a sudden. Hakkai's parting sentence rang in his mind, and a voice inside him completed the unspoken words. We are living each day on a gamble, traveling west and being entrusted with this Divine Mission as we are. Each day could be our last. Especially for Sanzo. Especially now, with Homura and his mad plans.
His eyes sought Sanzo once more, and across the distance the priest seemed suddenly all too frail, all too mortal… all too precious. At exactly that moment, Sanzo winced and shifted, cradling his arm to his chest protectively as the wound throbbed from where the stupid monkey had bumped into him. Gojyo felt his heart twist painfully. That's right… that beautiful bastard was the reason he was even putting himself through the torture of this fucking mission in the first place.
At dinner that night, Hakkai sat feeding Hakuryu morsels off his plate, as usual. Sanzo picked at his food, then lit a smoke and read the evening paper.
Meanwhile, Goku slyly tweaked some spring rolls from Gojyo's plate, but the kappa didn't notice. For Gojyo was staring at Sanzo.
"Oi, erogappa! Does Sanzo have spinach on his face or something?" Goku asked innocently.
Gojyo flushed as violet eyes lifted and regarded him curiously from the edge of the newspaper. He coughed. "I was… it was just—"
THWAK! Sanzo turned and hit Goku with the fan. "Don't steal food from another person's plate! Bakazaru…"
Gojyo sat bewildered, as the expected mocking glare never came his way. Instead, the monkey received the punishment. Hakkai sat observing with thoughtful eyes.
"Here. Eat mine if you're still hungry." Sanzo shoved his half-eaten plate to Goku. "Bottomless pit…" he muttered, shaking his pages irritably.
Goku crowed with delight, the sting from the harisen forgotten. Hakkai finally spoke up. "Maa, Sanzo, that isn't right either—"
"You really should eat more. You can't expect to regain your full strength and heal properly without proper nourishment in your body."
"'Ch. Mind your own business."
"Mmpph…" Goku swallowed, then joined in. "Hai-hai! That's right! Eat to be strong! You'll starve yourself to death, you will…"
"Er," Hakkai laughed weakly. "Then don't you think you should give back—"
"Stop. Mothering. Me."
The ikkou stared as Gojyo pushed his chair back hastily, causing it to crash to the floor. He stooped and righted it clumsily, stammering an excuse, before he turned and bolted for the door.
"Are! Gojyo!" Goku called, puzzled. "What's gotten into him?"
"Is he sick, Hakkai?" Sanzo asked.
"Just… leave him alone for a while."
Sanzo stared at Hakkai suspiciously for a long moment, before he gave a bored sniff. "Hn."
"So anyway Sanzo, do you still plan to confront Homura in a few days?"
"You betcha!" Goku snarled. "We have a fight left to finish, him and me…"
Sanzo threw the monkey a withering look, before transferring the haughty look to Hakkai. "What do you think, baka? I'm certainly not waiting around for that delusional freak to succeed with his idiot plans."
Hakkai smiled smugly. "Then you'd best eat something, don't you agree? Shall I order you some beef broth, if that's more to your liking?"
Sanzo rolled his eyes. "Feh. Do whatever you want."
Goku crowed. "So the kappa's food is mine! Ne, Hakkai? He's not coming back soon, I don't think…"
Gojyo drew a deep, shuddering breath, and squared his shoulders. Now or never. He got out of bed and followed Sanzo out to the inn's garden.
All four of them were sharing a room again tonight. At least the room had four proper beds. Hakkai and Goku had gone to sleep hours earlier, but for some reason the High Priest was fidgety. After an hour spent sitting by the window, Sanzo had finally left the room noiselessly. After fifteen minutes or so, Gojyo, who had silently been observing him the whole time, finally summoned enough courage to follow him out.
Normally he wouldn't have given a moment's thought about intruding on the notoriously private Sanzo; had in fact always relished seeing the purple eyes flare in indignation. He'd always thought it too cute the way Sanzo shied away from the most casual body contact, which is why he always did it, of course – he had a natural talent for seeking Sanzo out when the other sought to disappear for a few moments' peace, and took special pleasure in watching the pale cheeks flush and the violet eyes glitter dangerously when he slung an arm casually over the monk's shoulder. Sanzo stiffened and reacted precisely like a girl spurning the advances of an overeager young man, a fact which endeared him to Gojyo to no end.
But casual flirting and delicious rejection – the game of advance and retreat, as he'd taken to calling it in his own mind – was far different from what he meant to do tonight. Tonight he wasn't feeling playful at all. Tonight he felt deadly serious, and it scared the shit out of him. Sanzo hissing at him and spitting "horny pervert" whenever he indulged in the "touch" game he could take – but a rejection of his sincere feelings was something else entirely. Especially since he'd never felt this way about anyone.
Sanzo lay on his back on the grass, hands behind his head, violet eyes thoughtful as he gazed at the stars. The night was blessedly quiet and pleasingly cool, the silence broken by the occasional cricket, or a splash from the inn's pond. Absentmindedly, the priest lit a cigarette, blowing the smoke out with a little sigh.
"I try to remember what happiness was, and when that don't work, I study the stars."
Sanzo gave a startled jerk as a pair of long legs materialized into view. Golden eyebrows raised in approval.
"Derek Walcott," Sanzo stated, turning the golden head back up to gaze at the sliver of the new moon.
Gojyo stretched out beside him, carefully keeping a respectful foot away, his heart beating madly in his chest. Even from this distance he felt the heat from Sanzo's body, he smelled the clean, alluring scent of vanilla musk, he felt those piercing purple eyes scorching his face as Sanzo looked at him.
"I will love the light for it shows me the way, but I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars," Sanzo quoted.
Gojyo grinned smugly. That was one of his most favorite lines, ever. If the monk thought to stump him with that one, he was going to be disappointed. He felt an incredible tenderness well up in him to hear Sanzo saying those words. "Og Mandino," Gojyo replied triumphantly.
"Huh. What do you know…" Sanzo drawled in a dry voice.
Gojyo turned his head and met Sanzo's eyes. Crimson eyebrows raised as he quoted softly. "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."
Sanzo held his gaze for a long moment, before answering. "Oscar Wilde."
Gojyo allowed himself a half-grin. But the violet eyes only continued to regard him silently, searchingly. And then Sanzo sighed and fished out another cigarette.
Gojyo turned his head away slowly, his heart jumping madly in his chest. Now or never, you fool! he hissed to himself. Who knows what's going to happen tomorrow? More precisely, what was going to happen in a few days, when they planned to return and confront Homura once more… Gojyo squeezed his eyes shut tightly, biting his lip. When? When had it come to this? He had thought it was just a silly, sick crush… until Hakkai, damn him, until Hakkai had opened his eyes.
His eyes flew open, hearing the muttered curses as Sanzo's lighter refused to work. He grinned, his mood lightening as he fished out a Hi-Lite, clamped it to his lips, and pulled out his trusty Zippo. He lit his smoke, turning to offer Sanzo a light…
…But Sanzo was already there. Out of nowhere, like a flash, suddenly above him, an alabaster elbow braced on either side of his head. A brief flash of pain crossed the perfect face as his wound throbbed, before it was swiftly conquered and ignored. The golden head dipped down.
"Keep still, baka," Sanzo mumbled around his Marlboro. Before Gojyo could say anything, Sanzo steadied the cigarette in his mouth, dipped his head, and touched the stick to the glowing end of Gojyo's Hi-Lite.
Gojyo hardly dared to breathe, and lay rigid and still as Sanzo puffed once or twice to get his smoke to light up. Fuck it was so different when Sanzo was the one to get close to him, instead of him getting close to Sanzo under pretense of teasing. Then, he always had to be ready for a hit with the harisen or a bullet from out of nowhere, and he barely had time to enjoy Sanzo's nearness. It was more the thrill of getting under Sanzo's skin.
Whereas now… with Sanzo so unexpectedly moving close to him, imprisoning him helplessly without warning, with nowhere to go… Gojyo's blood fired in his veins, all his senses swooning at Sanzo's nearness, at Sanzo's heat, at Sanzo's smell, at Sanzo's feel, against him. Gods, he was going to moan soon and betray himself.
"Sankyuuu…" Sanzo drawled, backing away. Gojyo exhaled, shuddering; then felt his pulse hammer anew as the priest settled his head comfortably against Gojyo's shoulder, the rest of his body at a right angle with the redhead's.
"The ground's fucking hard," Sanzo drawled lazily. "Don't get any perverted ideas, kappa."
Gojyo couldn't answer as he drew in deep lungfuls of air; as golden, silken hair caressed his throat and jaw. He inhaled the heady scent of Sanzo's shampoo. He closed his eyes and swallowed hard.
"What are you doing up anyway?" Sanzo's voice reached him as if from a fog. "You usually sleep like a log."
Gojyo drew a deep drag on his smoke instead of replying, willing his heart to calm down. He can feel it beneath his head! Goddamn slow down, dammit! A voice inside him answered. Well fuck why not go the whole hog and just tell the bastard how you feel, idiot?
"Gojyo?" Sanzo craned his neck, trying to peer up at him.
Gojyo sighed. This was a hell of a lot harder than he'd expected. Shit. How typical. He had no trouble whispering sweet nothings and love words to get a woman into his bed, but when it came to the real deal he was chickenshit, after all.
Sanzo frowned, and crushed out his cigarette. He moved away, wincing, then braced himself on an elbow, so he could study Gojyo's face. Gojyo groaned inwardly at the loss of the golden head pillowed on his shoulder.
Red eyes met violet; and Gojyo held his gaze for the briefest of moments, then slammed his eyes shut, rolling his head away to try and escape the merciless scrutiny from those enigmatic purple eyes.
"I might ask you the same thing," he finally replied, sitting up swiftly and mentally kicking himself for being a coward. Shit, shit, shit! The perfect opportunity, and he let it pass. He stood up slowly, even now not trusting himself not to grab Sanzo, crush him in his arms, and devour that hard, cynical, beautiful mouth, wounded, pained Sanzo and all.
Sanzo frowned up at him. Gojyo took a last drag on his cigarette and crushed it out beneath his boot, before turning and offering Sanzo a hand up. Purple eyes glared up at him; and then Sanzo admitted defeat and allowed himself to be helped gently up to a sitting position.
"You really ought to be resting that wound instead of stargazing," Gojyo mentioned. "Otherwise it'll open up again. It's only been over a week."
"Feh. None of your business," Sanzo growled.
Gojyo shrugged nonchalantly, and fought the urge to scoop Sanzo up and carry him back to bed and make sure he stayed there until he healed.
"So what's on your mind, Sanzo-sama?" Gojyo drawled instead, not really expecting an answer. He hooked his hands in his back pockets and gazed up to the star-studded sky, drawing in deep draughts of cool night air. He was startled when Sanzo actually answered him.
"It's that goddamn monkey. There's a look in his eyes sometimes…"
"You see it too, huh?"
Sanzo frowned. "Of course I see it! It's been there since that time that the bastard Homura kept him in chains…"
"Yeah, I know. It's been bothering me too."
Sanzo gazed up at Gojyo's profile, measuring him with his eyes. Gojyo shrugged, then turned his head and raised his eyebrows at the monk. "Nani? You think I just get my kicks teasing and tormenting him? Hell, Sanzo, I care about the kid too, you know." And I care about YOU. I care FOR you like you wouldn't believe…
"'Ch." Sanzo got slowly to his feet, muttering curses, and then he let out a tired sigh. "I wish I knew what it was about. I don't need the goddamn Seiten Taisei released again on a wild rampage…" he muttered, remembering the fight with Kougaiji in the desert.
"Haven't you asked him?"
Sanzo snorted. "Baka. Of course. But he only looks back at me with confused eyes."
Gojyo pondered a moment. "Maybe he'll tell you, in time. Maybe we should just leave him alone for a while."
"Hn. That would be fine if we didn't have the final battle to think about," Sanzo grunted. "No, Gojyo, time is exactly what we don't have anymore." Sanzo sighed again, and then he walked away.
Gojyo slammed his eyes shut and clenched his fists. Damn. Way to sucker punch it to me, you bastard. "Had enough starlight, Sanzo-sama?" he called after the retreating figure.
Gojyo stayed outside a while longer, cursing himself to hell for not telling Sanzo how he felt, and wondering if he'd ever have the courage to do it. Wondering if there was even enough time for him to do it.
A/N: So there it is, the first Chapter. Damn, I didn't realize it was that long! This is the neglected fic that I mentioned above, the one I started and later set aside. I've reworked it somewhat, like I said; but somehow it still feels a tiny bit OOC to me. Or maybe that's because I've gotten accustomed to my SxGxS. In any case, the Torrent thread is more serious than Barely Breathing; and besides that I can do no more revisions on this first part and still keep its spirit intact. So it stands as it is. Chapter 2 next!
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