nyghtrain: (Default)
Title: These Many Times
Author: nyghtrain
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: 10Kon, Sanzo/Hakkai, Gojyo/Hakkai
Disclaim: Saiyuki isn't owned by me.
Summary: Life is all about second chances. Even if it takes several lifetimes to figure it out.


The very first time, he hadn't understood.

***

Konzen couldn't explain it. A restlessness had settled over him. It happened more and more these days though he couldn't explain when it had started. Eventually, he shoved away from his desk and stomped outside the room. People greeted him as he strode down the hall. He ignored them or gave the occasional stiff greeting when necessary. The walk from his office to the outside was painfully long and his skin felt drawn and pinched, until finally he stepped outside.

He drew in a breath as a breeze brushed over his skin. Some of the restlessness settled. He looked around at the grass, trees, and absolute perfection of Heaven. The restlessness slammed against him and once more his feet was surging forward with a determination in purpose that if he stopped to think about made no sense.

What the hell am I doing?

Abruptly he stopped. He looked around him. He had stopped in front of one of the Sakura trees. Pink and white flowers shown beautifully as a scatter of petals fell down around him. He pressed his hand against the tree trunk as he tried to gather himself. What was wrong with him? Why did he feel this way lately, like he was on the verge of breaking apart from the inside?

"Beautiful."

Konzen whirled around with a sneer; ready to tell whomever it was to get lost. When his gaze settled on the intruder, Konzen's eyes widen in surprise at the disorganized appearance of the male in front of him. His tie was crooked, his shirt partly undone. The white lab coat he wore was stained and on his feet he wore slippers. A cigarette hung lazily from his mouth and his hair was a disheveled mess of brown locks.

The god pulled the cigarette from his mouth and nodded at the Sakura tree. "They're beautiful, aren't they?"

Konzen frowned and then shrugged. "As anything in Heaven."

The man smiled faintly and adjusted some strange accessory he wore on the bridge of his nose. He took a step forward. "I suppose you're right. Did you know they have Sakura trees down below?"

"No," Konzen said in a tone that said he didn't much care either.

The tone seemed to go right over the god, because he just kept on talking.

"Personally, I think the Sakura trees down below are more beautiful."

Konzen snorted. "That's impossible."

"You would think. After all, everything in Heaven is perfect, but I think that it is their lack of perfection that is the key." He met Konzen's eyes.

Konzen stiffened. He could feel the hidden meeting underneath the words. "What's that supposed to mean?"

The god gave him a soft smile. "Simply that. Down Below the Sakura tree blossoms lasts for only a week or two then all the petals fall away, leaving nothing but bare branches. Such a fleeting moment."

Konzen find himself unwillingly pulled into the words and so he barely noticed when the god's hand reached towards him.

"It's the rarity of seeing such beauty that makes it's lost so much more poignant."

The god touched his hair.

Konzen jerked back and grabbed the god's wrist. "What are you doing?" His voice came out hoarse.

The god chuckled. "A petal. It was in your hair."

Konzen frowned and tightened his grip in warning and then let go.

The god turned his hand over and indeed there was a petal resting in his palm.

"I'm Tenpou, by the way," the god said.

Konzen blinked. Everything finally clicked into place. The god's unusual appearance and eccentric interest in Down Below...he was the one who managed to stir up Heaven while doing nothing at all or at least what appeared to be nothing. Konzen didn't buy that this was a god who did nothing. His eyes were too sharp, too knowing.

Konzen studied him for a moment and then nodded at the strange article on Tenpou's face. "Is that also something from Down Below?"

"Ah, yes," Tenpou said and took the accessory off and handed it to Konzen. "They're called glasses. They used for people with bad eyesight."

Konzen took it and frowned. "Gods don't have bad eyesight."

Tenpou tilted his head. "I think that's a matter of perspective. Would you like to try them on?"

Konzen turned over the glasses and then looked back at Tenpou. Tenpou simply looked questioning. Konzen slid on the glasses. Everything swam in front of him and he jerked back. His eyes strained to adjust to the blurred and distorted surroundings. It made his head pound. He quickly took them off and handed them back to Tenpou.

"Not to your liking?" Tenpou asked as he put them on.

"I can't understand how you can wear them," Konzen said.

"It took some adjusting, but they're worth it. I couldn't look at Heaven without them."

Konzen looked at the god sharply. "Do you often talk with so many layers?"

Tenpou's eyes widened in surprise and then he grinned. "Probably as often as you talk so directly while holding everything so close."

Konzen narrowed his eyes and then shook his head. He turned and walked away.

Tenpou didn't follow him, but before Konzen was too far away the god called out to him.

"You never gave me your name."

Konzen stopped and turned. "Konzen Douji, but I'm sure you already knew that."

A sly smile spread across Tenpou's lips. "Perhaps."

That night he kept turning over the conversation with Tenpou. The god was strange. There was no doubt about that and there was something about Tenpou that bothered him. He couldn't put his finger on it and by the time he fell asleep the restlessness had been replaced with something else, something he never felt before.

When he finally fell asleep he dreamed of Heaven, blurred and distorted. In all the chaos there was only one clear point - a god with messy brown hair and knowing eyes. Tenpou smiled at him and held out his hand. In his palm was a single Sakura petal.

After that, Konzen began to see Tenpou more often. At first, Konzen was abrupt with him, but Tenpou took it in stride. He never seemed daunted, while at the same time he never pushed. Or maybe he did push, but it was done in such a sneaky way that Konzen chose to ignore it. Eventually Tenpou started to visit his office and once in a while become almost every day.

Through it all Konzen found himself with a strange feeling. It grew in his stomach, twisting in a way that was neither pleasant nor unpleasant. A feeling that sometimes grew worse when Tenpou smiled at him in a certain way or his fingers brushed against him accidentally. It was maddening and many times Konzen wanted to yell at Tenpou to go away so all these feelings could stop, but he never did and he couldn't explain way.

Instead they fell into a routine and Konzen stopped trying to understand the feelings dancing through him. Eventually things would figure themselves out. He kept telling himself that, even when Tenpou was promoted to Field Marshall and his visits started to become more sporadic. He had time...and then he didn't.

***

Konzen glared at the book in his hand.

Tenpou took a drag from his cigarette. "You didn't like it?"

"No," Konzen said, still frowning at the book.

"Hmm," Tenpou said and then reached over and filled two cups with the sake he favored from Down Below. A drink that had grown on him, like Tenpou himself. "Why not?"

Konzen's frown deepened. That was the question that he had been turning over in his head since he finished the story. It was just something about the book that bothered him. "Maybe I'm just not into ridiculous fairytales."

"Oh? I've always found fairytales anything but ridiculous," Tenpou said and picked up the book. "I think it's fascinating to think of a goddess falling in love with a cow herder."

"More presumptuous. A god would never fall in love with a human."

"Oh? So you think the premise is impossible?"

Konzen didn't answer.

Tenpou looked thoughtful. "I suppose for most gods it is a bit arrogant for a human to write about a god falling in love with a mortal. For most, mortals are nothing but passing notes on the wind. But for some gods, that is the very part of what makes them beautiful."

"You mean gods like you? I didn't expect you to be so foolish." Konzen had meant to say the words casually, but they came out harsh and bitter.

Tenpou looked at him curiously. "Really? I am nothing but foolish, Konzen."

Konzen stiffened. "Are you saying..." His tongue grew thick, unable to finish the sentence.

"Are you asking if I have fallen in love with a mortal?" Tenpou asked and grinned. He stood up and began walking around the office. "No, though I wouldn't be surprised if it had been me to do something like that. Unfortunately, that won't happen."

"It won't?" Konzen asked, curious. "Didn't you just admit it is possible?"

"Yes and no. A person with my interest in Down Below might have such an event happen, but for me, that will never happen."

"How can you be sure?"

Tenpou shrugged and began walking back towards Konzen, he didn't stop until he was standing in front of him. "Humans are greedy creatures. It's very doubtful they would be willing to share."

Konzen frowned, confused. "What are you-"

His words were cut off as lips pressed against his. Tenpou's lips were dry and firm and sent a jolt of electricity through Konzen's body. His entire body stiffened as he tried to make sense of the sensations going through him and what exactly was happening.

Tenpou pulled away. "Does that answer your question?"

Konzen stared at Tenpou, stunned. "No."

"Oh? Perhaps a second time is in order." Tenpou leaned in and kissed him again.

Konzen felt his entire body shivered as Tenpou kissed him. It burned through his body, hot and fast. His heart thumped hard in his chest and with it, a fear he had never felt before strummed through him. He shoved Tenpou away.

"Enough," he said, he meant to shout it, but his voice wavered instead.

"Konzen," Tenpou said and reached for him. "I didn't mean-"

Konzen slapped his hand away. "Didn't mean to what? Kiss me?" This time he voice came out firm and angry, like a wall between them.

"I didn't mean to frighten you. The kiss I meant," Tenpou said quietly.

"I'm not afraid," Konzen said. "I just don't want this." As soon as the words came out they tasted like ash on his tongue.

"Is that true?" Tenpou asked.

Was it? Konzen wasn't completely sure. He hadn't expected this and he wasn't sure how to respond, so he responded the same way he did to all the others that had tried things with him, because it wasn't any different from the rest of them, right? Somehow, that didn't feel right, but that was the only answer he knew, so he went with it.

"Get out," Konzen said.

Tenpou stiffened. "I see. I apologize for my presumptions."

Konzen looked away and didn't say anything. Silence filled the office. A moment later the office door was quietly open and shut. Konzen breathed through clenched teeth. He could still feel the touch on his lips. He turned and looked at the door, at the empty space where Tenpou had last stood. His hearth clenched.

***

Two weeks past before he saw Tenpou again. He had dropped by, talking to Konzen like he always did. Konzen relaxed and eventually things slid back into the normal back and forth that had foster over their time together. Konzen talked about paperwork, Tenpou talked about a new general that was assigned to him. Neither of them talked about what happened. Still, Konzen felt a distance between them that had never been there before. A distance he didn't know how to bridge and one he realized he didn't want.

Konzen tried to figure out what he could say or do, but then Tenpou was saying his goodbyes and the distance grew wider.

It was another two weeks before he saw Tenpou again. This time it was in the hall, after a late meeting that had turned into a forceful invite to dinner with his aunt. He was walking back to his rooms when he saw them. Tenpou and a tall, muscular man with a skull chain that hung pressed against his chest. Konzen recognized him as Kenren, Tenpou's new general.

The two men were leaning close to each other, their heads almost touching as they talked. Kenren said something and waggled his eyebrows. Tenpou laughed and shook his head. Kenren gave him a wide smile and slung his arm around Tenpou's shoulder. They walked away.

Konzen stood there long after they had gone.

That night Konzen didn't dream.

The next day he met a young boy with golden eyes who called him the sun.

***

Konzen woke up and looked around. Goku was still asleep. At some point Kenren had also fallen asleep and Goujun was so quiet he might as well have been. Tenpou stood by the barricade door, smoking. Carefully, Konzen pried himself away from Goku. Goku frowned and whimpered, but Konzen gently touched his head and he settled down.

He walked over to Tenpou. "How much time do we have?"

"A few hours," Tenpou said.

Konzen nodded. Everyone was resting before they escaped. Kenren and Tenpou were pretty sure the soldiers would attack at dawn. "Shouldn't you be resting? I can stand watch."

Tenpou gave him a wry smile. "How unlike you to offer."

"I take it back."

Tenpou laughed. "It's fine. I can't sleep."

"Worried?" Konzen asked.

"More like coming to terms."

Konzen gave him a sharp look. "Are you planning to give up?"

"Never," Tenpou met his eyes. "I've never given up."

Konzen felt heat slid through his body and he looked away. "Liar."

Tenpou reached out and took his hand. "I'm not lying."

Konzen could pull away, but he didn't. "Kenren."

Tenpou squeezed his hand. "Kenren knows my heart. Even the parts that don't belong to him."

Konzen wasn't sure what to make of that. It was both bitter and sweet.

"Is it all right if this lowly cow herder admires you from afar?"

"No," Konzen said.

Tenpou sighed and started to slide his hand away, but Konzen held on to it.

"Not from afar. Not anymore."

Tenpou sucked in a breath and then he pulled Konzen against him. Before Konzen could gather himself, lips pressed against him. Electricity slid through his body and he moaned at the sensation. This time he let himself fall into it, tasting and feeling every bit of Tenpou. Tenpou let out a growl and slid his tongue into Konzen's mouth. Tangling their tongues together. Konzen had never imagined a kiss could feel like this, like his soul was trying to burst from his skin and tie itself to Tenpou. For a moment nothing else mattered.

They broke apart, panting. Tenpou smiled at him. He reached out and brushed his fingers over Konzen's golden hair. "I wish we had more time."

At that moment Konzen finally understood everything and his heart broke. He had found it at the same time he was about to lose it.

Tenpou hand slid away from his hair. "Don't worry. This isn't the end."

Konzen shook his head. "You shouldn't lie to me. I can always see through it."

"Then should I make a promise, like Kenren and Goku?"

Konzen shook his head. "I rather you kiss me again."

Tenpou complied. The kiss was long and filled with need, but the edges were tinged with goodbye.

***

The second time, he let him go.

***

The first time he met Cho Gonou was the same time he met Sha Gojyo. Right from the start Sanzo didn't like Gojyo. It was something about his face, the sleazy way he moved, and those red eyes. Not because he was a half-breed, but because those eyes were those of a man who couldn't stop living and trusting, despite how many people stomped on him. A worthless piece of garbage with too much heart and right now Gojyo was willing to stake everything on a stranger he picked up off the ground.

When Gonou came out to save Gojyo, which ended in a clusterfuck with Gonou running off with his gun and the cockroach having some deep moment of introspect, Sanzo could almost understand why. It was strange, but for a moment, Gonou had taken all their breath away. Even Goku was questioning things, but Sanzo had his mission.

Green eyes that took his breath away and a face that struck something deep inside didn't matter. Even if he could hear a whisper, saying, Found you, found you.

A job was a job.

***

"Cho Gonou is dead."*

When Sanzo told Gojyo that he expected the reaction he got - the anger, threats, depression, and finally acceptance. What he didn't expect was his own reaction.

Sanzo was prepared to hand him a little hint about Buddhism, but he stopped as the hanyo's expression twisted and his grip loosen. Just for a moment, reflected in those red eyes was a feeling that couldn't be anything but love. It felt so raw that it was like a punch in the gut. To top it all off, Sanzo was pretty sure the damn cockroach didn't even realize it himself. But what was worse was his reaction to it. Something inside him resented him, wanted to lash out. Sanzo swallowed it down, and watched Gojyo slump down in his chair.

By the time the conversation ended he had pushed the emotion away, assigning it as just a reaction to just how damn annoying the hanyo was. Still, in the end, he didn't tell Gojyo that Buddhists didn't kill.

***

Having the youkai around the temple was different from anything he could have expected. With the monks it was always simpering kiss asses followed by whispering and roundabout scoldings that were quickly diffused by a glare. With Goku it was a boundless burst of energy that left sparks everywhere it went. Sometimes the sparks destroyed and burned, other times they were a blaze that burned away the darkness.

But him, that strange youkai, was like water. His presence flowed over everyone like a soft murmur that can be misconstrued as peaceful and even calming. A person stepped into the water and just like that, it covered their head, sucking away every breath.

Sanzo was drowning.

It started when he pled Gonou's case to the Sanbutsushin. When he was given responsibility for the human turned youkai it was like wading deep into a lake, but it wasn't until the night he gave him a name that Sanzo truly wrapped the stones around his ankle and let it carried him to the bottom.

By then Sanzo hadn't notice just how much he was drawn in by the youkai. Yes, he would watch him as he moved around the temple, but it was expected. Gonou might be dead, but his crimes hadn't been wiped clean. So he made sure he watched him and if he grew sensitive to his presence, again that was also expected.

When he found his mind turning to the youkai whenever he had a moment's peace, Sanzo became agitated. He tried ignoring it, but found the only escape came through meditation. It got to the point where monks began whispering about Sanzo's piety. It was disgusting.

So Sanzo decided.

"Come see me after dinner," Sanzo said.

The youkai blinked in surprise and then nodded. He turned back to Goku's math lesson, but every once in a while he would steal looks in Sanzo direction. Sanzo ignored him and concentrated on enjoying his smoke in peace.

That evening, an hour after dinner had been served, there was a knock on the door.

"What?" Sanzo said.

"You wanted to see me?"

"Come in."

The green-eyes youkai stepped into the room and shut the door behind him. In his hand was a bottle and two cups. Sanzo arched his eyebrow in question. The youkai simply smiled and came across the room to stand in front of the desk.

"Are you celebrating something?" Sanzo asked.

"No, simply learning to enjoy the simple things," the youkai said as he sat one of the sake cups in front of Sanzo with precise movements. "It was your recommendation."

"I don't remember saying that."

"True. I might have done some creative interpretation of, 'I didn't waste my time saving you, so figure it out.'"

"And this is what you figured out?"

The youkai began pouring the sake with both hands, filling Sanzo's cup. Even in this he was graceful. "I figured out if I am to live I must find a way to do so. Focusing on the little things helps."

Sanzo grunted. He reached over and took the bottle and with one hand poured the youkai his sake. He set the bottle down.

"Is that all?"

The youkai tilted his head. "And if I say yes?"

"Then I would call you an idiot." Sanzo lifted his cup and took a drink. A small note of surprise slid across his face. The sake was high quality.

The youkai must have noticed, because a tiny smile spread across his lips, before he turned slightly away and took a drink from his cup.

"Where did you get this? Nothing like this should be lying around the temple." Sanzo couldn't help asking.

"Where do you get your cigarettes?" he asked in reply.

Sanzo nodded at that and for the next few moments they sat in silence enjoying the sake. This was part of it. The simple silences that never grew awkward, but simply sitting in them seemed to pull him towards the man.

His attention drifted to those long slender fingers. Sometimes he dreamed of those fingers. Sanzo forced himself to look away. He grabbed his cigarettes, pulling one out and lighting it. He could feel the youkai's eyes on him as Sanzo lit up.

"Sanzo, may I ask why?"

"You'll have to be more specific."

The youkai set his cup down. "Why save me?"

Sanzo glared at him.

The youkai looked down at his hand. His fingers clenched the edge of the desk.

Sanzo sighed then took a drag from his cigarette. "I don't like stupid questions, but I'll indulge you this once." He looked at the youkai and waited.

Finally the youkai looked up. They're eyes met and for a moment something electric passed between them, but Sanzo ignored it. Instead he stared hard into those deep green eyes as if he could burrow his next words directly into the youkai's head.

"Simply, it would have been a waste. Got it?"

The youkai frowned, but nodded.

Sanzo leaned back and took another drag from his cigarette.

The youkai stood and went to the window, opening it, and letting in a breeze that twisted around the smoke, tangling with it.

"I suppose it makes sense to force a man who wishes to die to live." He looked out the window. His dark hair swaying slightly.

"Do you think this is a punishment?" Sanzo asked, his voice laced with annoyance.

"Isn't it?"

"I've thought of a name for you," Sanzo said in response.

The youkai looked at him, somewhat startled in the abrupt change of topic. "Yes."

"Hakkai."

The youkai frowned, obviously turning it over in his mind. "Eight admonitions."

"Do you know them?"

Hakkai nodded. "I thought it wise to learn more about them since I was under the keep of a Buddhist Temple. But isn't naming me such a thing slightly ironic."

"Like I said, you're an idiot."

"Oh? Please enlighten me."

"Knowing something and understanding it are separate things. It's your responsibility to figure it out, but I'll give you a hint. The eightfold path has always been a way to end suffering, not cause it."

Hakkai blinked and then quickly turned away. He looked out of the window. Sanzo left him to it and continued enjoying his smoke. He didn't know how long they sat there before Hakkai finally turned to him again.

"Sanzo," Hakkai said softly.

Sanzo turned to look at the youkai and almost caught his breath. The faded moonlight danced over Hakkai's pale skin, giving him an otherworldly look. His green eyes were dark and lost. Sanzo could feel his chest tightened and for a moment his hand trembled. He clenched his cigarette between his teeth. There was a need in the youkai that called out to Sanzo and Sanzo felt a powerful desire to answer it. For a moment everything fell into place and with it a coldness in the pit of his stomach.

No. He couldn't have this. Couldn't have him. Hold on to nothing.

Sanzo looked away and stubbed out his cigarette. "What?"

"Thank you." Hakkai said, gently.

Sanzo gave a clip nod. "Close the window on your way out."

There was movement behind him and then Hakkai was walking pass him. Just the sound of him made his throat dry, even if he knew to take even a sip would leave him drowning.

Hakkai stopped at the door. "Sleep well, Sanzo."

Sanzo simply grunted. He felt like if he moved even an inch he might do something. The door shut behind Hakkai and only then did Sanzo feel he could breathe again. He slumped down in his seat. Things couldn't stay this way. It wasn't good for either of them. It was time then. Time for Hakkai to leave.

Sanzo glanced at the bottle of sake Hakkai left behind. He reached for it and filled his cup.

***

Things don't always go as plan. At first he kept his distance. Mostly he only saw Hakkai during Goku's lesson and the rare visit to where Hakkai was staying with the kappa. He figured with how the damn cockroach looked at Hakkai it wouldn't be long before something happened between the two. It would take time, but it would happen. The thought helped him to stay away and he had Goku to care for, and for a while it was enough. Any ache that he felt, well, he was used to pain.

It wasn't until the journey that things became worse. Every second of the day, Sanzo was near him, near the one person he couldn't have. On top of that he got to see Gojyo sleep with woman after woman, even though it was pretty damn clear that the only one he really had eyes for was Hakkai. It was no wonder that Sanzo shot at the kappa so often. Unlike Sanzo, he could have Hakkai, if only he just did something. Still, the knowledge that they weren't together soothed something in Sanzo, even if it stirred up a growing need.

He managed to calm the need with the small moments when Hakkai would putter around him, while Sanzo read the newspaper and the others were distracted with other things. If he treated Hakkai a little nicer than everyone else, no one mentioned it.

The paper-thin balance of emotion might have moved right along if he hadn't seen them. He decided to take a short walk outside the inn they were staying in when he heard whispers. He pulled out his gun and began to move forward when he recognized the voices.

"Are you... sure?" Hakkai asked.

"I'm willing to prove it," Gojyo said with a leer in his voice.

There was an awkward pause, followed by a sigh.

"I'm not really good with words. I've never done this before," Gojyo said, and this time his voice was sincere. "But you're always there and I want to see where this can take us."

"If this is you trying to keep me by your side, you don't need to go this far. I'm not leaving," Hakkai said softly.

"Nah, that's not it. You're always there, not just by my side, but in here and here."

Though Sanzo couldn't see where Gojyo was pointing, Sanzo could guess Gojyo had pointed to his head and his heart, because those were the same places for him.

"Gojyo...I...I need some time."

"Okay, but there's one more thing."

"Yes?"

"Can I kiss you?"

There was a pause then movement.

Sanzo clenched his jaw. He turned and walked away.

Days passed and Sanzo couldn't help keeping a watchful eye on the two. He searched to see if there were any changes between them. Hakkai looked thoughtful and a little lost sometimes and Gojyo would sneak looks at Hakkai, but nothing to say Hakkai had given his answer one way or another.

"Do you think it's all right for me to be happy?" Hakkai asked.

They were both lying down in separate beds. Hakkai had insisted they share tonight and Sanzo had been waiting. He had known what was coming.

"I told you about asking stupid questions."

Hakkai chuckled. "Yes, you have." He was quiet for a moment. "I just don't know if it's fair."

Sanzo waited, but when Hakkai didn't elaborate he figured he had gotten lost in his own musing. "What's fair?"

Hakkai didn't answer right away, but when he did his voice sounded sad. "To give a person only pieces of oneself."

"Nothing's fair," Sanzo said.

Silence descended between them.

Sanzo turned over his thoughts. His entire body felt coiled. He didn't want Hakkai with the kappa, but at the same time he couldn't have him. He dug his fingers into the mattress and mentally laughed at himself. Hakkai. In the end it wasn't about Sanzo or Gojyo, just Hakkai.

"It's not about fair. It's about whether it's enough. You can use pieces to build on."

Hakkai laughed. "Build on? Perhaps..."

Sanzo didn't say anything more. He rolled over and pretended to sleep.

But he was awake when Hakkai whispered softly in the dark room. "Thank you."

Sanzo consoled himself with the thought that he would fill the kappa with lead if he so much as looked at a woman.

***

"A part of me always knew he wouldn't come back from this trip," Gojyo said softly. "I always hoped I was wrong."

Sanzo didn't say anything. He couldn't. Goku was asleep in one of the beds. Soft whimpers would pour from his mouth every once in a while. Hakryuu was curled around him. Sanzo had the scriptures back, they managed to defeat Ni and Gyumaoh, and the minus wave was no more. It should have felt like victory, but the lost was too much.

"I loved him, you know," Gojyo said. "And he loved me back. That should be enough, right? But dammit! Maybe if he hadn't-"

Sanzo shook his head. "Don't be an idiot. You really think he wouldn't have done it anyway?"

Gojyo balled up his fist and slammed it against the table. "Damn it! Why couldn't he have loved himself just a little bit more? I didn't ask him to sacrifice himself for me."

Sanzo didn't answer. There was no answer to that. They sat in silence.

Gojyo laughed bitterly. "Hey, monk, this Buddhist stuff. They believe in reincarnation, right? So does that mean... Do you think I'll see him again?"

Sanzo reached down for his pack. "It's doubtful that idiot ever reached Nirvana, so I'll say it's a safe bet."

Sanzo pulled out a cigarette and began patting himself down for his lighter.

"Yeah," Gojyo said thoughtfully. He turned and stared at Sanzo.

Sanzo ignored him and finally found his lighter.

"You know, there's something I always wondered about. Hakkai, well, his heart was always divided up. Kanan and me."

"He was broken, but most people are," Sanzo said and flipped open his lighter.

"But I always wondered, did you know that you had taken one of those pieces?"

The flame from the lighter flickered. Sanzo carefully put it to the tip of his cigarette and closed it with final click. He took a long drag from his cigarette.

After a long bout of silence the kappa must have realized Sanzo wasn't going to answer.

Gojyo leaned back and looked at the ceiling. "Don't expect me to go easy on you next time."

Sanzo smiled around his smoke. "Next time, it won't be easy."

***

This time, he knew.

***

No one expected it when Sage went up and punched Griff in the face during recess. Griff tumbled back into the dirt. But he wasn't down long before he was back on his feet and thrown himself at Sage. The two seven-year-olds rolled around in the grass as they fought.

Gil watched it in horror, then he was running across the playground towards Hayden.

"Hayden! Hayden! Sage is fighting."

Hayden blinked and then was running to where the two boys were. By the time he got there, the teachers had broken them apart.

"It's not my fault," Griff shouted, his red hair wild around him. "He hit me first."

"You deserved it," the blonde said.

"Why you big bully."

Sage just smiled past his busted his lip, his eyes bright with triumphant.

Hayden couldn't believe it. "Sage?"

Sage's head whipped towards Hayden's direction and he lost some of the smugness. Before Hayden could say anything else, both of the boys were dragged away. Gil took his hand, squeezing it.

"Is Sage going to be all right?"

Hayden squeezed the younger boy's hand. "He'll be fine."

***

After school, Hayden went to Sage and Gil's house. Since they were next-door neighbors, his parents didn't mind him coming over to Sage's house, but his mom still walked him over. They always did after what happened with Kacey.

Hayden didn't want to worry his parents, but he had felt this pressure in his chest after Sage didn't come back to class. He had needed to see him, even for a little bit. When they got to the house, Mr. Kire looked worried.

"Ah, Hayden, Sage is grounded. He can't come out to play. You heard about the fight?"

Hayden nodded.

"Do you know what happened?"

Hayden shook his head. "They teachers came before I could talk to Sage."

Mr. Kire looked thoughtful and then nodded. "Since you're already here, you can take a few minutes to see him, but after that he can't have company for the rest of the week."

Hayden nodded. "Thank you Mr. Kire." He hurried up the stairs to Sage's room, while Mr. Kire talked to his mom.

When he got to Sage's door, for a moment he felt funny, almost scared. What if he knocked and Sage wasn't there. Fear slid over him at the thought, but he took a deep breath like his doctors told him to do. Once he was calm again, he knocked on the door.

"What?" Came a gruff voice.

"It's me, Sage."

There was a pause and then the door was opened. "Hey," the blonde said and then turned around and walked back to sit on his bed.

Hayden followed him in, feeling relieved at the sight of the other boy. He looked around, noticing that Sage's television and game system were gone. "Your dad says you're grounded."

"Yeah, for a week. They were going to suspend me from school, but Dad talked them out of it."

Hayden nodded and then carefully sat next to Sage on the bed. Sage didn't like people getting close to him. Only him, Gil, and Sage's dad seemed to be different.

"So, you don't like Griff."

"He's annoying," Sage said.

Hayden hesitated. Sage didn't usually start fights unless someone did or said something to him first. He wondered what Griff did. Griff was a new kid and he seemed pretty nice when Hayden had talked to him.

"What did he do?"

Sage's face scrunched up. "Nothing?"

"Huh?" Hayden asked, confused.

Sage shrugged. "I just didn't like him."

Hayden stared. "But...You never start fights."

Sage frowned and looked down at his lap. "So? I just didn't like him. Why do you care? You're my friend."

Hayden frowned and then it clicked. "You're my friend, but so is Griff."

Sage stiffened. "Why do you want to be friends with him?"

Hayden shrugged. "I'm friends with Gil, too."

"That's different," Sage said stubbornly.

"You don't want me to have any friends?" Hayden asked quietly.

Sage head snapped up and he looked at Hayden then away. He frowned. "No, that isn't it. I just..."

Hayden waited, but no answer followed.

"Hayden! Time to go," his mother called.

Hayden slid off the bed, when Sage grabbed his hand.

"Wait!"

Hayden turned back to Sage.

Sage wouldn't look at him. "I was your friend first."

"I know."

"Good," Sage said and dropped his hand.

Hayden stood there for a moment. Then he had an idea. He step in front of Sage then leaned forward and kissed his cheek.

When he pulled back, Sage's entire face was red.

Hayden waved. "See you at school."

"Yeah," Sage said and watched him go.

Hayden felt something good dance in his chest. It was something both new and familiar. He smiled.

* Line is from Saiyuki Vol 5., Chapter 27. 

Date: 2013-05-05 10:59 pm (UTC)From: [personal profile] laurose8
laurose8: sanzo and hakkai (Default)
Thank you for this most excellent fic. What a pity it's not a 7thnight fic fest, when it uses the bridge so well.

Fangirling over the Heaven chapter - what a great Tenpou. His introduction, with the brevity of mortal beauty, the petal in his palm and needing glasses. And, by the way, that's a very good thought about glasses being strange to Konzen.

Konzen is also excellent. His emotions are pictured just right.

The main canon chapter is moving in just the way you meant. I loved he could hear a whisper, saying, Found you, found you. Its last section... *sniffs*

And what a good line makes sense to force a man who wishes to die to live, showing what's common in Tenpou and Hakkai.

Good for giving Gojyo much dignity and worth, here, too. I really felt for him, as well. (Though I laughed aloud at the cockroach having some deep moment of introspect.)

The last chapter was very satisfying. Especially since you show this is most likely what Tenpou planned all along.

Date: 2013-05-06 04:29 am (UTC)From: [personal profile] laurose8
laurose8: sanzo and hakkai (Default)
Looking forward to it. I do wonder what happened to the fifth member of the ikkou?

Date: 2013-05-13 11:22 am (UTC)From: [personal profile] bluemondo
bluemondo: 199 steps in Whitby (Default)
I think I have put a comment on your lj but thought I add it here too as I so liked this story and the fact there is to be more is very exciting. Even more so because it will be a threesome because I think it makes them whole ( if that makes sense).

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