Pairing(s): Genjyo Sanzo x Koumyou Sanzo
Summary: "Hello Kouryuu." He gave a little wave and smiled the benevolent smile normally worn by gods. "How are things?"
Disclaimer: Saiyuki and all it's wonderful characters, plots, etc etc belong to Kazuya Minekura and her publishers. Not moi.
Email: blaqkhearted [a]
hotmail [.] co [.]
Note: I have never written a Sanzo-centric piece before, nor have I ever tried to write for Koumyou so I apologise if I have made any glaring OOC mistakes. I know Sanzo is rather...not-aggressive in this but I feel the situation warrants that. You'll see. This oneshot inspired by the beautiful song 'Fragile' by Poets of the Fall, and the lyrics at the end come from there. I highly recommend listening to it.
Written for Cabbit_girl on the Aarinfantasy forums
"Sanzo? Where are you goin'?"
"None of your damn business."
Sanzo slammed the inn door loudly behind him and paused, sighing deeply. He moved to lean against the wall and closed his eyes, head still pounding. He couldn't deal with this tonight, couldn't deal with them tonight. The incessant, mindless babble, the pointless arguments, the false smiles and words of comfort...it was all too damn much. He needed some time alone to cool off, or he wasn't sure whether he could keep control of himself. If he kept it up, one of his bullets would actually hit someone, and the worst part of it was that this would actually make him feel worse.
As he stood silently outside trying to gather his thoughts, he could hear the others' voices drifting outside through the open window.
"Everyone has their bad days, Goku. It's nothing to get upset about."
Hakkai. Calm, as usual. Comforting, as usual. Lying, as usual too. Sanzo knew the healer well enough to recognise when he was worried.
"He's just an asshole. Don't let him upset that tiny monkey brain of yours."
Gojyo, not anywhere near as good as his friend at hiding his annoyance.
Sanzo opened his eyes and stared blankly ahead of him as Goku spoke.
"He's been like this all week, it's like he's actually gonna go off on his own and leave us behind. What did we do to upset him? It's like he really doesn't care about us at all..."
Sanzo scowled and hurriedly walked away from the window, not slowing his pace until he was sure he would no longer hear them speaking. Why was the damn monkey so good at making him feel guilty? In the privacy of his mind, Sanzo immediately began defending himself, saying that it wasn't his fault he was in such a bad mood, it was the idiots in that room who never shut up that made him act this way. Of course he'd need time alone, anyone would, stuck with them all the time...but no. Goku was right, as usual. It was more than that this time.
His aimless footsteps carried him out of sight of the inn and into a small thicket of trees. He paused once he was under the canopy and then sank down to lean against a tree trunk, promptly lighting up a cigarette once he was sitting down.
Running a hand through his hair, Sanzo shut his eyes again and tried to work out exactly what it was that was bothering him. His companions were the same as always, so it made no sense for him to feel so bothered by their actions now. He was just sick of the constant noise. His head felt as though it was constantly buzzing and like it would never cease. He needed...what?
He glanced up as a cloud drifted away from the moon, allowing the light to spill down through the canopy. The silvery light illuminated the area, making it seem almost ethereal when compared with the hot, stuffy interior of the inn. It was cool here. Calm. Peaceful.
Sanzo smiled slightly. Peace. That was what had been missing these past few years. As he stared up into the moonlight, memories slipped into his mind softly, memories he normally tried to forget. Nights full of moonlight, soft voices and smoke. Treasured times he had forgotten. He closed his eyes and let himself remember and for once, it wasn't painful.
Although he would never have admitted it at the time, the nights he had spent as a child running around after his master had been peaceful. True, he had always given Koumyou a disapproving look whenever he found the priest sitting on the porch, or leaning against a tree, smoking and drinking. He would always try and gently remind his master it was bad for him, bad for his reputation and act annoyed that he was being kept out of bed yet again. Although, he knew even then he wasn't being kept out of bed. He chose to stay awake, chose to stay with the gentle priest under the moonlight. He always told himself it was because he wanted to keep an eye on the old fool, but deep down he knew that it was because it just felt so calm, standing in the moonlight with Koumyou and talking quietly. In the morning, those night-time moments would seem almost like a dream and the young Kouryuu would try and forget they ever happened. And yet...there was something sacred about those meetings, something about them that touched him inside and opened up parts of his mind that he would never normally expose.
Sanzo opened his eyes, the smile fading from his lips. If Koumyou hadn't given up his life that night...if Kouryuu had been able to grow up as Kouryuu, not Genjyo Sanzo, had been surrounded by moonlight, tenderness and acceptance rather than blood, violence and fear...would he have ended up like Koumyou? A gentle being able to surround others in his own calm aura and change the way they were thinking, whether they wanted to or not?
Would Kouryuu have been able to learn to love others without pushing them away?
Sanzo stood up suddenly, scowling. Perhaps peace wasn't what he was needing after all, not when his own mind was turning on him as well. Trying desperately to silence his thoughts, Sanzo returned to the inn, in a worse mood than before.
A few hours later, the disgruntled priest found himself lying on the hard mattress the inn had provided and staring at the ceiling in silence. He had been initially relieved when he had returned to find the others in bed and had been looking forward to sleeping and forgetting all his worries, but now that seemed impossible.
He couldn't get his mind to switch off. Hakkai was breathing too loudly. The clock on the wall was as loud and persistent as a drumbeat. His own heartbeat was pounding in his ears. Unable to take it anymore, Sanzo stood up hurriedly and swept out of the room. Once outside the inn, he leant against the wall and closed his eyes, taking a deep breath of the cold night air.
What the fuck is wrong with me?
Sanzo just couldn't understand. He felt awful, and not just because he couldn't sleep. He felt as though there was something missing, some vital part of him that wasn't working right, but couldn't for the life of him identify what it was and would never dream of asking anyone else. The mere thought of vocalising such ideas to someone like Gojyo or Hakkai made him shudder, and caused his pride to bristle in indignation. But despite this, he did want someone to tell. A burden shared is a burden halved, yes? If only he could find someone he felt able to share it with.
Sanzo could feel the fingers of sleep plucking at him and opened his eyes slowly, not wanting to be found sleeping propped up against a wall. Fighting against the wave of drowsiness, he stumbled away from the inn. To his surprise, he found himself back in the small clearing from before. Without hesitation, he sunk down against the same tree and closed his eyes. His mind was fogged with sleepiness now that he was alone, and he vaguely wondered why. Cracking one eye open, Sanzo glanced at the pale orb of the moon which still hung over the clearing. This time, his mind was flooded by the other memories, not the memories of moonlit conversations but memories of blood, fear and shouts. Demons. Criminals. Loss...grief?
Opening his eyes fully now, Sanzo's sleep-addled mind tried to wrap itself around the idea. Was that was this was? Grief? But why now, after all this time? After Koumyou's death, Genjyo Sanzo had been born from the bundle of emotions that was the boy Kouryuu, like a particularly unusual phoenix rising from the ashes. He had immersed himself in the search for Koumyou's sutra, the search he was still undertaking. He hadn't had any time for grief. In a way, Sanzo was glad. He had seen the disasters that grief could cause, and images of Cho Gonou flashed through his mind. No, he would have hated to become like that. And yet...wasn't grief good for a person, and the process of mourning the dead more a process of strengthening the living? Was that why he felt so empty now?
Sanzo closed his eyes and was a little surprised to find that when he really concentrated, he could picture Koumyou's face as clearly as he could picture Goku's. Torn between the opposing desires to smile and to cry, Sanzo felt sleep wrapping its arms around him. His final thoughts before he was claimed by the darkness were all of that priest.
Koumyou Sanzo. His predecessor. His mentor. His guide.
Yes, Sanzo's mind whispered quietly. I miss him. Maybe this is grief after all.
Sanzo opened his eyes to a blinding white light, and threw a hand up to shield his eyes. His mind felt fuzzy, as though it was full of cotton wool and he had trouble remembering where he was, where he had been before and why he had fallen asleep. The confusion must have shown on his face, for the voice spoke again.
"Don't be alarmed, there's nothing to be scared of."
That voice. Sanzo knew that voice. It was soft and lilting, with each word enunciated carefully which gave the listener the impression that every word spoken by that voice was important. It was a kind voice, but not a coy one.
Sanzo lowered his hand from his eyes and squinted against the light. There was a figure sitting beside him. Sanzo opened his mouth to speak but before he could, the person spoke again.
"Hello Kouryuu," he gave a little wave and smiled the benevolent smile normally worn by gods. "How are things?"
Koumyou. Smiling calmly as though he hadn't a care in the world, as though he hadn't died years ago. Sanzo wondered if he was losing his mind.
"Don't look like that," Koumyou said quietly, mock hurt softening his features. "I'm not here to scare you. Am I not allowed to check up on you from time to time?"
Sanzo blinked a few times and shrugged, not trusting his voice to remain steady when he spoke. "Well, you've never done it before. It's not normal, is it? After all, you're..."
Koumyou continued smiling and nodded but said nothing, simply raising his eyebrows and prompting Sanzo to continue. When this didn't happen, he sighed.
"Honestly, you have nothing to say to me after all this time? Hm?"
Sanzo turned away shamefully as he felt tears pricking the corners of his eyes. He hated to admit it, but the mere prospect of this being real and not some hallucination conjured up by his sleep deprived mind was a little overwhelming. The worst thing about it was that if the person beside him was Koumyou, then he would know exactly why Sanzo was hiding his eyes. He was that kind of person; impossible to lie to or to hide from, not that it would stop Sanzo from trying. Eventually, when he trusted himself to speak without bringing eternal shame upon himself, Sanzo spoke.
"Why are you here? Why now?"
Koumyou smiled widely. "I knew you were smart, Kouryuu. It's true that it isn't normal for me to visit like this, but you looked like you needed someone to talk to. Are you unhappy at the moment?"
"How could I possibly not be unhappy?" Sanzo said sharply, staring moodily into the distance and longing for a cigarette. "I'm stuck travelling across the whole fucking world with three idiots who never know when to shut up. Every two minutes someone jumps out and tries to kill us. We can never find somewhere to stay that has single rooms, which is worse than the idiots trying to kill us. If I hear someone yell 'we've found the Sanzo party' one more time, I'm going to –"
"But that's not the real problem, is it Kouryuu?"
Sanzo stopped in the middle of his tirade and glanced at Koumyou with startled eyes. "What?"
The smile all but faded from the older man's face and he watched Sanzo carefully. Sanzo felt transparent, as thin as a sheet of paper and as clear as glass. He hadn't felt this way since young, and it terrified him now. Then, he had had very little to hide. Now...he didn't want Koumyou to see all the ugliness he knew was locked away in his soul. All the death and destruction, all the hate... For some reason he could not fathom, he couldn't stand the idea of Koumyou seeing right through him now.
"Why are you so afraid?" His mentor asked quietly.
"Of what?" Sanzo whispered shakily, wishing his voice was stronger.
"Everything." He took one look at Sanzo's face and then continued hurriedly. "Not like that, don't look so offended. You're very brave, Kouryuu. You're not afraid of demons, evil, violence, pain...no. You don't like any of those things, but neither are you afraid of them. By 'everything' I meant 'everything that matters'. You can feel as offended as you like, but trust me, it's true."
Sanzo clicked his tongue in annoyance and tried to ignore the small voice deep inside his mind that was whispering agreements with Koumyou, and feeling proud of being praised.
"Then what matters?" he asked quietly.
Koumyou smiled. "You know that already. The things that you are so afraid of are the very things that have been causing you so much trouble recently. Kouryuu...you don't have to be afraid of opening up to others. No one can live alone. You understand that, don't you?"
Sanzo resolutely stared at the floor, but his mind was racing. Part of him was insisting that the old priest had continued the journey into senility long after death, while another part was still agreeing, but now in more vehement tones. While the two voices were still battling it out inside him, the first voice began to speak.
"Them? I'm afraid of them? Why would I want to open up to those idiots, anyway? The only thing they're good for is making too much noise and annoying the hell out of me."
"They only annoy you because you don't feel included," Koumyou said slowly. "You're still like a child sometimes, Kouryuu. If only you would stop being prepared to be annoyed, allow yourself to listen to them rather than to just hear them. You see, the chattering of a crowd seems much quieter when you add your voice to the mix."
"I don't want to-"
"Yes, you do. Don't lie. You can't lie to me. You care about them, Kouryuu, but you don't want to. That is why you've been so restless in their company as of late, both wanting to be around them and wanting to stay away...it must be very hard on you." Koumyou reached across and laid a gentle hand on Sanzo's arm. "Kouryuu...it's okay to trust in others. It's okay to be attached to others, too. Not everyone is like me, and not everyone is going to leave you."
At these words, Sanzo couldn't keep himself from looking up. Koumyou's face was kind as always, but where his features usually showed traces of amusement, they now showed sorrow. Sanzo felt tears threatening again, and tried to fight them back through willpower alone. Koumyou's words had struck him somewhere inside, and although he was still fighting against them, he knew them to be true.
"Those three are made of stronger stuff than I am," Koumyou continued, moving his hand to rest against Sanzo's cheek. "They won't be leaving you anytime soon."
Sanzo closed his eyes and thought hard. He tried picturing his companions, and now he could see that yes, he did feel separated from them. He felt as though there was an invisible wall dividing them from him, a wall that allowed their feelings to pass through unheeded and yet allowed no room for his own. He felt alone, disconnected...and weak. That was the worst part of the realisation. He felt weak for not being able to figure this out on his own.
"What do I do?" he asked quietly.
Koumyou smiled widely. "You can work that out by yourself, Kouryuu. You were able to show affection once, were you not? You may have been a particularly cold and condescending child but I knew you cared for me. The capacity to love never goes away and I know you can find it again. And when you do, even if you don't say a word, they will be able to tell. How does that sound? You won't have to embarrass yourself at all."
Sanzo smiled a little. "Thank you. How do you...how do you know all of this? How do you connect with people so easily, even now?"
"I'm a people person," Koumyou said promptly, but the grin soon faded from his lips. "Although...I am glad my advice was of help to you. As I said, the capacity to love is never-ending but...there are so few people to love here."
Sanzo frowned a little and glanced at Koumyou again. The older man was looking away now, sorrow etched into his features. It was at this moment that Sanzo felt a wave of grief crash over him. It seemed so unfair, that Sanzo had been hiding his loss all this time when Koumyou himself wasn't free from it at all. He realised now that he missed this man beside him, missed him terribly. He couldn't imagine having had any other kind of life than the one he had experienced, but for the first time found himself really wishing that he could. He was taken by surprise when Koumyou spoke next, as the words could have been his own.
"I miss you, you know. If things could have gone any other way...I would have liked very much for us to have had a few more years together, to be able to talk as we are now but somewhere more homely." He made a sweeping arm movement to indicate the white world before them, a world which seemed made of light and with no definite shape. "I wish I could have been the one to give you your first cigarette," he laughed lightly. "Although in the grand scheme of things, that isn't very important."
"No," Sanzo said softly. "I would have liked that too."
A few minutes passed in silence, and Sanzo fancied that he could hear the wind rustling through the branches of the trees at the temple where he had grown up, and the soft bubble of water in the river. A deep sense of peace settled over him and he felt calmer than he had in a long time. For once, he wasn't hiding behind a defensive wall. If he had to choose anyone in the world had to see his weaknesses, he would have chosen Koumyou. He felt a warmth across his shoulders as Koumyou gently placed an arm around him, although not in the way one would comfort a child, more in the way of an equal. Sanzo smiled.
"I'm so proud of you, Kouryuu," Koumyou said gently, turning to face the younger man. He raised a hand and ran his fingers through the golden hair, smiling. "No..." he shook his head. "Not Kouryuu. I'm proud of you, Genjyo Sanzo. My Kouryuu...I am afraid he was lost along with my life, wasn't he? But that doesn't matter, because in his place I have you. You're the kind of person I could never be. A good person, who isn't afraid to do things which may seem bad in order to bring about something better." The priest smiled again at the look of confusion in his pupils eyes. "I am rambling somewhat, aren't I? Just know that I am proud of you, in the way that anyone is proud of someone who is everything they think a person should be."
Sanzo opened his mouth to say something but could not find the words to say. Before he could wrap his tongue around the torrent of words pouring out of his heart, Koumyou stood abruptly.
"Well, I should be going. And so should you. Listen."
Sanzo? Sanzo! Where did you go?
A voice was echoing around the white, featureless world, a voice that seemed incredibly out of place. Sanzo raised his eyebrows in surprise. He would know that voice anywhere, especially when it was calling his name. It was always calling his name after all.
"Goku," he said gently, the turned his eyes back to Koumyou.
"You're needed somewhere else, now," he said quietly and extended a hand to pull Sanzo to his feet. "Remember what I told you. Take care of yourself, hm?"
He turned to leave but was stopped by a hand on his arm. Sanzo had moved involuntarily and now found himself speaking urgently.
"You're going already? Where are you going? Couldn't you stay for a little-"
He was cut off as Koumyou pulled him into a tight embrace. Sanzo could feel the older man's breath against his neck as he spoke.
"I will always be with you, Genjyo Sanzo. Whenever you need someone to talk to, I will be there. Whenever you can't see the way forward, I will be there to show you the way. Whenever you need some time away from the chaos of your world, I will find you. And do you know why?"
Sanzo shook his head. Koumyou drew back slightly from the embrace to look into Sanzo's eyes, and raised on hand to rest against his pupil's chest.
"How many times do I have to tell you? As long as you can still love, you will be able to find me. I hope there's room in your heart for an old man along with those exciting companions of yours?"
Sanzo laughed lightly. "Of course," he said, and couldn't help himself from adding "Idiot."
Koumyou smiled and released him. "Until next time, then."
The light surrounding them began to intensify until Sanzo was forced to shield his eyes once again. Koumyou turned and began walking into the glow, murmuring as he went. The last thing Sanzo heard before the light smothered all his senses was,
"Now, why can't I ever find something to smoke around here?"
"Sanzo! Saaanzo! Where the heck are you?"
Sanzo's eyes slammed open. He was lying in the clearing, still slumped against the tree. The moon had vanished below the horizon and the grey light of dawn filled the area. He sat up slowly, joints aching from sleeping in such a strange position.
A dream? Sanzo thought hesitantly, unwilling to dismiss the whole experience and expel the calm that filled his mind. He moved a hand out from his side and touched the grass next to him. It was cold but there was a discernible dip, as though a weight had settled there for a long time.
The voice in the distance was joined by another.
"Goku, come back inside. He's obviously not there."
"But if he's not there then we should go look for him!"
"Goku, get your monkey-ass back inside now."
"Now I said!"
Sanzo smiled and waited until he heard the distant door to the inn close. Although he couldn't deny that Goku's incessant yelling was irritating it didn't seem so bad, not now. He stood up and brushed himself off of all the leaves and twigs that had fallen on him while he slept. Turning to leave, he remembered Koumyou's final words. Telling himself he was an idiot for doing so, Sanzo took his half empty pack of cigarettes out from his pocket and laid them down on the grass next to the dip.
"There you go," he said quietly. "It's not what you're used to, but they're not bad." He hesitated for a moment and then added "Thank you."
In a few minutes, he had reached the inn and pushed open the door to find his companions standing in the lobby. He took a moment to just watch them. Hakkai, unable to conceal his relief, which in turn barely concealed the fact that he was annoyed at Sanzo's sudden disappearance. Gojyo, who was trying his hardest to appear disinterested but who also looked relieved, and surprisingly less annoyed than his friend. Goku stood apart from the others, golden eyes wide open and staring at Sanzo in confusion.
Sanzo shut the door behind him and raised a hand without thinking to gently ruffle Goku's hair.
"Sanzo?" the teen asked quietly. "Where were you?"
"Just outside," he answered, and could feel rather than see the others' surprise at his actually answering. "I...I'm sorry for worrying you, Goku."
The surprise this time was tangible, and Sanzo smiled to himself as he walked past them and up to his room. He was feeling better already.
Out in the clearing, a shadow detached itself from the shadows under the eaves of the trees. A slender hand as pale as moonlight snaked out of the shadows and closed over the packet of cigarettes. In the early morning light, Koumyou smiled.
"Well done, Genjyo Sanzo. Well done."
If you're scared, I'm here beside you,
If you get lost I'm here to guide you,
And I'll give you peace when peace is fragile.
Love is all the good in you
Love is peace when peace is fragile