Better Luck Next Time
Once a young monk undertook a course of austerities: fasting, flagellation, the usual. When the plague swept the land, he was too weakened to fight.
Once an officer who led from the front stumbled bleeding off the field. By the time his lieutenant found him, it was too late for anything but farewells.
Once a little youkai was killed by his brother.
And a boy in a cave watched the constellations shift in the sky.
And the Merciful Goddess cursed the stupidity of mankind in terms remarkably like those of a long-lost subordinate, then shuffled the tiles, and tried again.
The Color of His Eyes (Alternate Universe: Take One)
“What gorgeous…” The blonde remembered that Gojyo disliked his wine-red coloring. “…collarbones,” she amended.
Gojyo wondered at his sudden sense of urgency, a call to— get laid, he supposed. He smiled at her.
Later he left the sated blonde sleeping and headed home. The man he found on the path was still breathing, but too far gone to open his eyes. Giving in to that strange inner call, Gojyo slung him over his shoulder, and even began to hurry. But the man died not five steps from home, and Gojyo never learned his name, or the color of his eyes.
The Thousandth Youkai (Alternate Universe: Take Two
Gonou’s knife shattered against the youkai’s sword, but he thrust the jagged shard home. Then blood blinded him, and pain sent him reeling into darkness. When he awoke, dazed and shaky, he looked— (Don’t look at your body.)
He bent the bars—the strength of despair, he thought vaguely— and buried Kanan in the forest, wondering what happened after your life is over but you unaccountably still breathe.
A knife appeared in his hand. (Don’t look at your hand.) Slim-bladed and bone-handled, Gonou knew that it was a part of himself. He began walking. There was work to be done.
One Thousand One...
One. (You remember your first.) “You’re orphans, you don’t understand.” Chin up, throat offered like a gift. His only regret is that Mr. Orphan never knew what hit him.
Two. Orphan’s buddy, standing so close that Gonou just continued the swing.
…Fifteen. The village postmaster, gutted like a fish.
…Forty-seven. (He’s guessing by now.) The butcher’s apprentice. By then Gonou was using his hands.
But it’s not their ghosts that haunt him. It’s the hours he wasted killing them instead of running to her rescue. It’s what he found that he loved. And that he loved it more than her.
It was taking so long.
He’d been ready to die for hours. He’d been ready for months.
Stumbling in the blinding rain, Gonou wondered if he’d died already, crossing a red river of his own making with three steel bands in place of two copper pennies. Maybe this was Hell, but he suspected the worst was yet to come. He fell, then opened eyes that the rain had washed clean.
As if the cuffs that made him human hadn’t been enough of a gift, Gonou realized another moment of undeserved grace. He had never expected Death to be so beautiful.
That's How The Light Gets In
They gave him sight and life, but he couldn’t care. A bloody socket, a new eye; Cho Gonou, Cho Hakkai; an execution, a reprieve: what difference— really— did it make?
To Gonou, his rescuer’s hair had been the color of youkai blood. So had the fading roses, the last rays of the setting sun, and the cherries rotting beneath the trees.
But to the newborn man, blinking at the light with one eye of Gonou’s and one of Hakkai’s, the blooming poppies, the bright clouds at sunrise, and the heaps of sweet ripe apples were all reminiscent of Gojyo’s hair.
The Little Dragon Dreams of Heaven
The little dragon dreams of Heaven.
He is wingless, and bears a sword. There is one he hates. (Or is it one he loves?) A strong careless man whose eyes reflect black as leather (whose eyes reflect red as fire) because he’s turned toward… someone…
But not toward a Dragon King.
Is he a dragon dreaming of being a King, or a King dreaming he’s a dragon—
“Wake up, little one.”
Or a Jeep dreaming it’s—
In the brief moment between awakening and forgetting, the dragon (the King) sees the ghost of Tenpou shining out of Hakkai’s eyes.
“Whatever it is, you can’t have it.” Sanzo gives Goku a whap with the fan, and he shuts up for an entire ten seconds.
Sanzo never liked the temple, but at least it wasn’t so fucking loud. Though he’d enjoyed watching Goku drive the priests crazy. There’d only ever been one priest who wouldn’t have been bothered. One priest who would have been like a lake barely rippled by Goku’s waterfall.
Sanzo hits the stupid monkey again.
“What was that for?!”
Goku ducks. His orange cape flutters like paper across the sky.
Things That Go Whomp In The Night
Rustle rustle scrape.
Hakkai kept his eyes closed, ignoring his backbrain’s shriek of “YOUKAI NINJA ASSASSIN! FIGHT!!!” It was not a youkai ninja assassin, he informed his reflexes. It was—
Rattle rattle clink.
A boy in search of a midnight snack—
“Stop rifling through Hakkai’s pack, stupid monkey.” Whack!
“I’m no monkey, pervy kappa!” Whomp! “Naaaaa, Hakkai—“
“Quiet, dumbass! He’s worn out!” Thwack!
An overprotective boyfriend—
“Shut up!” BANG!
A pissed-off priest—
And— Hakkai had to open his eyes for this one— under a tree, a face-down youkai ninja assassin.
“Here’s the cuttlefish jerky, Goku,” said Hakkai.