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Answers Out of Reach

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         When one were to consider what the term wild meant, he’s certain that Monkey would be the first to come to mind. He’s sure that if one were to make a book to define such a word, his first disciple’s picture would be the first thing used as an example. There was an aspect to the male, something that refused to be tamed. It’s the part that made him defy Heaven, the part that made him howl his challenge to Buddha before his defeat. It’s in his rash decisions, in his troublemaking nature, in his sly grin as he considers options best left to the darker parts of society.

         Sanzang sighs, his hand rubbing against the smoothness of his head. Though it’s been many years since he’s shorn his hair, the feeling of such smooth skin always distracts him from thinking too much. Baldy. The nickname was one only WuKong would be allowed to use. It’s one that hadn’t caught to the other two, not that he’s heard at least, and he could almost swear he heard it just now. With how often WuKong said it, he could easily picture the mocking curl of his lips, the gleam in amber colored eyes as he mocked the elder.

         A hand reaches for him, coming from such an odd angle that Sanzang could only let out a strangled yelp. “Baldy,” was barked out as WuKong grasps the front of his robes. The monkey was annoyed, his eyes narrowing on the elder. “You going deaf? I’ve been calling for you.” The monkey’s lips were curled into a displeased frown, and Sanzang wondered briefly if the male was actually worried for him. “Jeez, making us think you were already dead. We were getting ready to celebrate and everything.” He was almost pleased, thinking that his disciple had actually started to care, even if it were just a little bit. But the feeling was fleeting, and in its place was one that made his shoulders feel ever heavy.

         Sanzang stands then, noting how his first disciple follows him, the monkey’s shoulders slumped. In his human form, the monkey seems to take on more monkey-like traits, while in his true form the monkey takes on more human-like traits. He wonders at the why of it, going back to the camp he’d strayed from in order to meditate. The last two of his disciples, Sandy and Pigsy, both look up to stare at the arrivals. They’d been speaking quietly amongst themselves, idle chitchat that had little to do with their master or their sharp, pointy eared brother.

         Taking his seat, he’s given a bowl of congee and a waterskin. There’s relief at the feel of water running down his throat before the bland and plain congee follows suit. The monkey doesn’t partake in the meal—he never seems to, Sanzang had noticed—and merely stays seated, perched on a branch above the group. There’s a bit of grass in his mouth once more, and he seemed more fond of staring at the forest around them than joining the group. Sanzang notes this, finding it odd that a social creature like a monkey doesn’t associate with the group. He’d heard tales of the King when he was at war with Heaven—even going so far as to celebrate the fact that no monkeys were lost at the beginning of the many battles. Did he fear the feeling of getting too attached to the group, if he had the potential of losing any of them?

         Dusk fell dark, and soon the sky was littered with stars, giving the pilgrims precious little light to talk by before sleep began tugging at their limbs. Bed rolls were set up, waterskins were replenished for the night, and the fire was slowly starting to die into its ashes. WuKong eventually came down from his branch, sitting at the opposite side of the fire of Sanzang. The youngest of the disciples take their places for bed, leaving the Master and first disciple alone together for a moment.

         Opening his mouth, Sanzang couldn’t find the words he wanted to use in order to ask his questions. Instead, he finds his first disciple staring at him intensely, his amber eyes bright with amusement. “You’re like a kid,” he chuckles out. “Wanting to ask all these questions. Great Sage, Great Sage! What is, how did, what have you, the list could go on with all the ways to start the questions. But you can’t find one to ask.”

         Tilting his head, his neck stretches a bit. It’s unmarred, a long column of vulnerable skin that drifts to the edge of his clothes. Sanzang swallows, choking on the words that tried to scramble from his mouth. Though Pigsy loved to place himself as the groups prettiest, the title of most handsome certainly belonged to the first disciple. There was something distinctively male about the monkey. From heavy, bright eyes that frequently mocked him to the way he moves, the monkey lived very well up to his name of Handsome Monkey King. Sanzang resisted the temptation to look further upon his disciple, fearing what repercussions that it might lead to should he start down that path.

         But it seems he didn’t have to have his eyes travel far before WuKong frowns, his stare now deadpan as he peers at Sanzang. His mouth moves, but the master isn’t sure what was said. “Come again?” Caught redheaded, he can see the glimmer of something in WuKong’s eyes. Amusement again? Or was it something heavier? The monkey sighs, his lips twisting as he sits up. He’s taken away the view that his master had, and Sanzang privately thanks the monkey for doing so.

         “Nevermind.” It was the only question that Sanzang had asked, and he still didn't have an answer.