Title: Wildflower (Part 6 of Torrent) - Chapter 7

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

Disclaimer: Not mine. Just another piece inspired by Kazuya Minekura's delicious boys.

Rating: M

Summary: "Bloom where you're planted." A long-overdue songfic of random ruminations by four souls bound by fate. Part 6 of the Torrent series.

iii. Nobody's Child

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"We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us." – E M Forster

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There's not a day that goes by that I don't think of you. I still hear your voice in my head, I still recall your laughter, your smile, the way your eyes twinkled whenever you teased me. I can still smell your hair… I can still remember the feel of your hands caressing my face… I can still taste the sweetness of your lips, and how your body felt wrapped around mine, and your soft cries in my ear. I still remember your face.

Sinner.

Yes, and sometimes I still get the occasional nightmares, and I go through the hell of losing you all over again… and the doubts and the guilt come back in full force to haunt me.

If only I'd gotten home sooner.

If only I'd thought to keep the blade away from you.

If only you weren't my sister, then I could stop wondering if all of it was simply just and true, after all – and we were only punished as we deserved.

If only…

These days, though, I don't have the luxury of wallowing in despair, even had I wanted to. How can I, with a hyperactive monkey, a mischievous kappa and a neurotic High Priest demanding my care and attention? And trust me, it is not pride that speaks when I say that the whole mission would be shot to hell without me – it's just the simple truth. Hm. It sometimes feels like I've been babysitting these three guys far longer than I even remember.

They are my family now. They are my reason for going on. When you were taken from me – when you took yourself from me – I truly went mad; I wanted nothing more than oblivion, to be past all care and worry, all happiness and sorrow alike. Numbness was not even close to enough – what I felt, what I didn't feel, what I had lost, was too deep even for tears. There was no relief for me, no matter where I turned… all I wanted was blessed release; and if death was the only way out, so be it.

Luckily for me a certain free-spirited, perverse redhead refused to let me die; he resisted the broken plea in my dead eyes to deliver the rest of my body to death's hands as well – and it is due to his hasty and ruthless act of literally shoving my guts back inside myself that I am left with this nasty scar today. No, don't get me wrong. I didn't say the wound was his fault. Only the scar is his doing, and yes I do "blame" him for that – I owe him for knitting my body back together. That is what a scar is, after all – lasting evidence left of your tissues re-knitting themselves in the process of healing.

And so I live, and so I still breathe, because of Sha Gojyo.

Luckily for me a certain high-spirited, innocent boy knocked my hand away from gauging into my second eye: if not for that, I would be completely blind. But thank God for Goku – I retain my vision of the blue sky and the green earth, a half-vision though it may be. And so now I need to turn my head if I want a broad scope of my surroundings – and it is good to have the necessity of that extra effort if I don't want my world to be so narrow. It is good to still be able to see the faces of my friends, good to be able to read my books, good to see the sun set, driving behind the wheel while my companions sleep the hours away until we reach the next town. If not for my glass eye, I don't think I would truly appreciate the real eye that I have left.

And so I still see, and so I still have the gift of color and light and shape and shadow, because of Son Goku.

Luckily for me a certain enigmatic, ruthless High Priest saw it more fitting to "punish" me with a new life, rather than granting me the easy way out with a bullet. A few brusque, harsh words were all it took for him to shatter all the precious illusions that once again threatened to consume me in my anguish at losing you. For despite meeting the man who saved my life against my wishes, and who was to become my best friend – I was still a ticking bomb inside; I used Sha Gojyo's kindness, took advantage of the shelter and comfort he offered me to get better – yes, to get well just enough so that I could walk away and put an end to my life as he refused to do so for me.

But Genjo Sanzo would have none of it; he scoffed at my pain and pitied me for allowing my suffering to render me spineless, instead of using it as mettle to grow some backbone… as I later found out is the way he lives his life. And the way Gojyo lives his, as a matter of fact.

And so Sanzo brought me before the Temple and argued for my life – for me, the sinner, the murderer, the one with the blood of a thousand youkai on his hands. At that moment the lost orphan in me was finally set free – with the new name to go with my new life I was at last reborn, and I was no longer nobody's child, but a Child of the Temple, as the layman's sash I wear to this day attests. With Cho Gonou died all the illusions I had clung to for most of my life – bitterness, anger, despair, and the worst of them all: the terrible apathy that had so consumed me as a child in the orphanage, and was about to consume again, when I lost the one dearest to me.

And so I am reborn, and so I am set free, and so my life now has a purpose, because of Genjo Sanzo.

And yet… great friends as they are, and great though their impact has been in my life, and great though the debt I owe to them for it all… it is still your influence that has the ultimate bearing upon it all, Kanan. Knowing you, even if only for that short time we had together, has truly changed me forever. My selfish nature might have caused me to go insane when first I lost you; but without the gentle strength your spirit has imparted to these hands, nothing they did would have made any difference. Not Gojyo saving my life, not Goku rescuing my sight, not Sanzo giving me another chance. Without the sound of your voice echoing in my mind, without your dear presence still alive in my heart and soul, I couldn't have mustered the will to go on.

It is the thought of your disappointment, and your grief, that stays me when the old darkness threatens to overwhelm me again. It is the rebuke I hear in your voice that shames me when I feel myself giving in. It is the memory of us that calms and soothes me whenever it rains. It is the pride you gave me that lends me the determination to carry on without you.

It is the wish to still become the man you saw in me, that keeps me holding on… and breathing… and trying... because of you.

Much like Gojyo and Sanzo now find meaning in each other, as strange as that miracle is… I still find meaning to hope, to dream, to go on, because of you. Even without you beside me to share in it all, as we always planned. I think of it now as making the most of the rest of my time here on earth, so as to meet you on the other side without shame and regret.

And so… if you'll forgive me, Kanan… for just a little while… I would like to live for my own sake. I can no longer say that I live for you – that would only be another illusion, another pointless lie, because you are gone from me. Even bathing in the blood of a thousand demons was not enough to keep you, and over time I've made my peace with that. At first I wondered if it's really okay for me to be here, alive, after the crimes I've committed, after the lives I've taken, and most of them innocent lives – but I have decided to let go of the guilt, together with the rest of it. If nothing else, I am now one of the youkai that I so hated; and even if that is not punishment enough, I no longer have the will nor the desire to seek a defeatist life of "atonement".

These three guys have taught me that much. Life is filled with misery enough as it is; why waste it shrouding yourself in wretchedness when you could be chasing after happiness? And even if the prize proves ultimately elusive, the journey itself is worth it.

Gojyo embraces life as the gift that it is, despite being born an outcast. It is in fact testament to his grit and character that he should be so free-spirited and easygoing today, considering how he has always been treated so poorly simply because of the color of his hair and eyes. Just the fact that he still sensed the danger to me – as I never could fathom why I couldn't for you – the fact that he knew I was in danger and led Sanzo and Goku to me, despite me earlier only having fed his demons with my cold, foolish words of "penance" and the color of "blood" – that he was still determined to keep me alive despite life being so unfair to him – that truly shamed me into continuing the struggle, instead of giving in to the void. His stubborn insistence on his right to exist has kindled my own wish to survive, to matter, to make a difference to this seemingly indifferent world.

And Goku… Goku reflects on me the innocence I always wish I had had. He reacts to everything as if experiencing it all for the first time, even something so simple as food – and his intense yet childlike enthusiasm for the temporal world has awakened me, it has refreshed my view and made me appreciate the simplest of things, wherein true joy can be found: a good meal, a good book, good friends, a nice long nap, the wind on my face, the moon and stars above.

As for Sanzo… He defies everyone and everything – he lives by his own rules, and believes in himself so totally that somehow it makes perverse sense that our High Priest should smoke and curse and drink and wield a gun. In the same way, it is also fitting that he, the lone human of our group, should be the one leading us – and it is only more proof of his inner strength. The spirit is willing, so the flesh better damn well follow – it is this attitude above all that leaves me so in awe, and secures my total respect for the man. I am on this Divine Mission on the explicit instructions of the Sanbutsushin, yes; but I am also here because I wish to prove myself – that my life was worth bargaining for, as Sanzo did for me.

And so here I am today, and at last I can honestly say that I am thankful to be alive, and that I live for myself. I am Cho Hakkai now, and I am proud of it. But I will never forget Cho Gonou, as I will never forget you. I think perhaps Gonou died with you that rainy night, the moment my dagger pierced your heart by your own hand – and yet part of him remains with this "demonslayer" that I am today; Cho Hakkai who is part human and part youkai, one of the Sanzo-ikkou traveling West on a divine mission, far removed from the simple schoolteacher I used to be.

Your Gonou lives on in these gentle hands that heal, in this quiet voice that soothes, and the smile that now comes easily to my lips and reaches my eyes. I will keep you close and safe in a corner of my heart, knowing that if someday I should find someone to love again, if I should be doubly blessed to have the kind of togetherness that Gojyo and Sanzo share – that you and I shared – I know that no one will be happier for me than you.

Jamatane… Kanan.

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I hold it true, whate'er befall

I feel it when I sorrow most –

'Tis better to have loved and lost

Than never to have loved at all.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

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A/N: "Jamatane", literally, "See you soon"; or, "Until we meet again". TBC…

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