By Alecto Perdita
Posted: June 4, 2005 on LJ
Revised: June 11, 2005
Email: alecto . perdita (at) gmail . com
Disclaimer: Saiyuki is the intellectual property of Kazuya Minekura, and is being used in this fanfiction for fan purposes only. All situations, opinions and characters not belonging to Kazuya Minekura are the intellectual property of Alecto.
Waking up to tears trapped behind eyelids during slumber was one of the strangest sensations, Goku decided.
He didn't even notice them until he opened his eyes, viewing sky through a watery glass. This was a sensation Goku was used to. As soon as his eyelashes- wet and clumped together- fell open, two salty rivers cut their paths across the curves of his cheeks.
Goku threw a hand over his eyes and tried to brush the tears away with his wristband. The last image of his dream had burned up in a great ball of fire, like a supernova or something else Hakkai had once described to him. It was even brighter than the sun.
Words- ones that tasted familiar and not- sunk into the depth of his throat as if lead weights had been tied to their feet. Even more clawed at his throat and struggled against an unrelenting tide until it was raw- without releasing even so much as a whimper. He struggled to rescue them from his stomach but a sudden jump of the jeep slammed Goku's head against the floor and pain blossomed down his spine. He couldn't stop the tiny whimper that escaped from his lips.
A shadow, Gojyo's, fell over him. "Oi, is the stupid monkey crying?"
"Shut up, perverted kappa." Goku gave a half-hearted swipe in Gojyo's general direction.
Goku was unaccustomed to feeling this way- guilty, grieving, and pained in the heart. It ate at him, like a beast that lurked beneath his skin. No, that wasn't too far from the truth. Another being did live beneath this skin.
"Whatever it is, just forget about it." Sanzo's harsh voice anchored him to the physical world.
Goku sat up and brushed the last of the tears that didn't seem to want to stop from his eyes. The world snapped back into a clear and sharp focus. Yet it didn't feel real- real like the memories of pain now fading away in the mid-day sun.
"Goku, is everything alright?" Hakkai inclined his head toward Goku but never took his eyes off the road.
"Fine," Goku muttered with none of his usual energy.
Staring ahead of the road, Goku couldn't help but admire the sight of the sunlight glinting off the golden weave of Sanzo's hair. He was hit with another pang of longing, reaching vainly for the memory that had faded away in the light of day.
The sun… So bright. Would it ever burn out?
It can, another voice whispered in his ears. It will.
Goku leaned forward is his seat until he was hovered just behind Sanzo. "Sanzo."
"What?" The monk turned swiftly in his seat, not hindered by something as superfluous as a seatbelt. Sanzo glared at him and he realized belatedly how Sanzo's voice sounded tighter and lower than usual. Maybe it had something to do with their last encounter with a group of would-be-assassins.
Whatever it was that Goku really wanted to say crawled back down his throat and died. Instead he managed a weak whine, "I'm hungry, Sanzo. Are we there yet?"
The corner of Sanzo's eyes and lips twitched. "Do you want me to shoot you?" The telltale sound of the safety being taken off the monk's Smith & Wesson resonated through the air with a paradoxical weight.
Goku sunk back in his seat and turned to stare passing scenery instead.
Sanzo's voice broke unexpectedly through the hum of Jeep's engine and repeated, "Just forget about it. It's better not to think about it. It's better not to remember."
Goku slumped lower in his seat. That was easy for Sanzo to say. Sanzo was human and he was Buddhist too- well, supposed to be but he wasn't a very good one. Goku had a lot longer memory than all the other three combined. After all, the earth remembered every foot that pressed against it surface, even if it gave no indication. Granted, he didn't remember anything from before his five hundred years of imprisonment but that was only because someone had robbed him of them- Goku was sure of that.
In fact, Goku still remembered the first time one of the monks at Chang'an had tried to teach him about Buddhism. He even remembered the Four Noble Truths: one, life means suffering; two, the origin of suffering is attachment; three, the cessation of suffering is attainable; and four, the path to the cessation of suffering. The monk quickly became convinced he wasn't listening and had no interest in learning the teachings of the enlightened Buddha. It was true that Goku was more interesting in playing outside than listening to some stuffy monk lecture but once the words went in one ear, it was impossible to forget them.
The words burrowed deep into his mind and refused to leave.
Hold nothing, they said.
He had tried to understand it. He wanted to understand this Buddhism that Sanzo had devoted his life to. He understood that life was suffering, but life was also a lot of other things. It was warmth, colors, tastes, feelings, touching, and affection. It was all those things Goku had come to experience and witness since Sanzo released him. To Goku, to see life as only suffering was a very sad way to look at life.
The second truth made absolutely no sense to Goku. He supposed people did suffer for their attachments to things and other people but that was also part of living. People had to have attachments to something or someone to continue living. Otherwise, life would mean nothing.
Goku knew he wanted to live. He knew Sanzo wanted to live too and the Goddess of Mercy wanted them all to live. As a creature born of the seemingly eternal earth, it was difficult for Goku to understand even death in the same manner that humans or youkais did.
He peered at Sanzo again from lowered lashes. After living with Sanzo for so long, Goku had learned the blonde's every possible mood. The rigid and unforgiving set of Sanzo's shoulders indicated the monk was still upset over what had happened just hours ago. He laid a hand on his upper torso and winced at the pain that tore up the tender flesh.
He didn't see what was wrong with what he had done. He had done it all to protect Sanzo- the man who had given him the sun and everything under it. He saw nothing wrong with wanting to protect what was precious to him.
I once had someone I wanted to protect with all my might, Sanzo had said one night in some distant past. Never again.
Goku lowered his head again as a sudden comprehension overtook him. Sanzo may not be a very good Buddhist most of the time but he wanted to live without attachments as they were supposed to. He was nothing more than the leaden weight that held Sanzo down.
Was Goku any better than those manacles that had kept him chained to his spot in that far-off prison?
"Sanzo…" he called in a voice stronger than he expected.
The monk didn't even bother to turn in his seat this time. "My name isn't a mantra for food, you stupid monkey, so shut up before I put a bullet through that empty head of yours."
Goku sank back once again and felt his lips tremble. He didn't like being ignored and though he had been at this end of that callous treatment for years, it never ceased to hurt just a tiny bit. Something desperate, different from his usually need for food, welled up in the bottom of his stomach. He saw spots of black as the wind was knocked out of him by a passing sensation of bone-rattling panic and pain.
I'm going to die, he thought for one hysterical second.
"Sanzo!" Goku whined louder and more insistently, unable to stop himself.
Click went the safety on the Sanzo's gun.
Gojyo leaned in suddenly and placed his arm on top of Goku's head like he was a stool. Goku waved a hand in front of his face to fend off the acrid scent of Gojyo's cigarette that almost brought new tears to his eyes. "I think your pet's about to cry, Sanzo-sama."
He lunged at the red-haired half-breed. "I'm not a pet, you cockroach-headed kappa!"
The jeep swerved sharply to the left, sending both Goku and Gojyo flying into the Gojyo's side of the back. They barely missed a tree as Hakkai righted their navigational course.
"Now, now, minna," Hakkai said in that deceptively cheerful tone. "Let's just settle down back there. You should be resting those wounds, Goku."
Goku climbed back into his part of the jeep but not before shooting Gojyo one last glare. He paused for a second and tried to retrieve his last train of thought. Goku might have an abnormally long memory but he easily lost track of his thoughts like this- it might sound like an oxymoron but that was the type of creature Goku was.
Running just beneath the surface thoughts for food and sleep was a notion that would take him another few years to fully grasp. The one that told him Sanzo would always be infinitely more important to Goku than Goku would ever be to the monk.
That Goku would love this man- who had given him the sun and everything under it, and was more godlike than any Buddha- more than he could ever love Goku in return.