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Drabbles to the West

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         It was always give and take when it came down to his eldest disciple. The monkey demanded attention at odd times, usually causing arguments amongst his brothers, or starting up trouble in some way or another. When he received the attention he so desperately craved, the disciple would settle down, almost smug despite the monk’s temper. No beating, no warnings would ever deter the King. He could only wonder at why the monkey would cause such mischief.

         Even now, as he tries to meditate, the monkey lounges nearby, stretched out languidly and lazily rolling a heavy twig between his teeth. The way he was stretched out, you would assume that he was a King even now, dressed in rags and lacking any sort of refinement. But the air still stayed about him, kingly and spoiled. The quirk of his brow, the slant of his lax wrist, the slow smile that seems to crawl across his face. It was rather pleasant, he thinks, to see him so amused without cruelty marring his face.

         “Elder,” he drawls out. “Please tell me if you’d like for me to pose for you. I’m sure with how you’re studying me, I’ll have the best portrait to boast about.” The monkey begins chuckling, his eyes closing as he giggles. In response, Sanzang narrows his eyes and stands, leaving the room. The giggles stop momentarily, and he hears his disciple call after him. Ignoring it, he makes a quiet request of the monks in the temple. When he returns to the room, his arms are laden with paper and ink and brushes.

         His mouth falling open, WuKong is unable to form a response. His brow furrows as Sanzang decides to essentially set up shop. Perplexed, WuKong struggles to stay still as his master works. His curiosity was killing him, and he wanted to see what sort of effort the man was putting into the work. Hell, it could be a stick figure for all intents and purposes of mocking the monkey, and he wouldn’t know until his master finished. Twitching, staring at his master with almost pleading eyes, he waits.

         Sanzang’s brush, his even breaths, and his steady hands make WuKong wonder what he could possibly be bothered with painting. Surely, the monk was mocking him, taking so long. “Hey baldy,” he rumbles out. He almost spooks himself, the voice belonging to that of a demon rather than his human guise. Was he really so rattled that the monk had took him up on a challenge? Impossible.

         “Nearly finished.” His tone was distracted, not really soothing either. WuKong’s leg begins bouncing, and the twig in his mouth was clacking against his teeth. When the monk pulls back, his eyes narrowed thoughtfully on the painting, WuKong lunges. He doesn’t snatch the painting, but moving behind his master to see what, exactly, he’d been working on.

         In front of his face was almost a perfect replica of how he was lounging before his innocent teasing of his master. Relaxed, peering at nothing in particular, his human guise was painted was an odd precision. Staring at the picture, his hands were gripping Sanzang’s shoulders tightly. He didn’t even notice just how tightly, not until the monk murmurs something akin to let go. “What the hell, Baldy.” The twig falls from his mouth, and WuKong doesn’t bother to grab for it.

         Rarely, did he bother keeping personal items. He needed the clothes on his back, the staff hiding as a needle in his ear, and perhaps a decently sized twig to chew on. But when the painting finally dried, he found himself lining the back of it with small magical symbols. Symbols to preserve the paper, to protect the painting, to ensure that it would last precisely how long he’d want it to. He had a new item to claim as his own.

         WuKong didn’t notice how his master watched him work, in efforts of preserving the piece, missing how the monk hid a smile. It wasn’t out of vanity that the monkey took such interest in the work. It was out of pride for his master’s talent. That warmed his heart a bit.