You cannot be blamed for what happened. You tried so hard to stop it but you couldn't and that isn't your fault. You sit now on stone cold floor with your gun laying heavy in your hand. Goku watches you from across the room. The way his eyes flash from soft, resigned brown to crazed, hard gold is disconcerting and the softening and tightening of his dry, cracked lips makes your heart pound absurdly fast. You are scared shitless and for once you are not trying to hide that from yourself.
Gojyo, you think, was the easiest. You hate thinking such a thing but it's true and you are through with lying to yourself. You woke up that morning itching in all the wrong places and sweating from a night of restless sleep. In the bed beside your bed Goku slept peacefully, face pressed tight against the pillow, soft snores emitting from somewhere in the vicinity of his nose.
It was Hakkai's wild shout of "Gojyo!" that alerted you that something was wrong.
You sprang out of bed, your ears listening to the loud pounds and shattering of glass coming from the next room. You pulled your gun from under your pillow and raced out the door. Hakkai was screaming and the noise cut straight to your rapid beating heart. The door was locked; you hand slipped clumsily on the metal handle. You heard Gojyo shout, Hakkai yell, a sickening thud and then silence. Panicked, you stepped back and shot at the lock. The door splintered, the metal sparked, the door creaked slowly open.
The room smelt strongly of vomit. The smell hit you along with a wave of heat as you opened the door. Sunlight streamed through the window casting everything in a hazy, golden glow. You squinted your eyes struggling to see through the haze as you took your first step forward. Your eyes flew around and landed on the empty beds. The sheets and blankets were tangled and in disarray. You noticed the large pile of vomit on Gojyos's bed and knew something was terribly wrong.
And then you saw Hakkai's still legs sticking out from the edge of the bed. You moved forward slowly your feet making no sounds on the hard wood floor. By the time you reached them sweat was beading on your forehead and your gun was slipping dangerously in your hand.
Gojyo was crouched over Hakkai's still body, his head tilted slightly to the side, his long-nailed fingers stroking Hakkai's pale cheek. Hakkai's clothes were ripped at the shoulder and a small pool of blood was forming on the ground around it. Gojyo whimpered and your next footstep made a soft creaking sound against the floorboard.
Gojyo's head whipped around and you were caught in a panicked filled gaze of violet. You watched, strangely fascinated as his hand slipped down to land in the pool of Hakkai's blood.
"I didn't mean it," he said. His voice was full of pleading. "I swear Sanzo. I didn't mean to do it."
You looked at the slow curving point of his ears, the sharp shine of his fangs, the tips of his long nails hidden in a pool of blood. You felt a shiver run down your spine, felt fear race through your body not stopping until it reached your heart. Your breathing was erratic and you knew you must have looked just as crazy as you know Gojyo was.
"I tried to stop Sanzo," he said, standing to huddle frightened in a corner, crazed eyes fixed on Hakkai's still body, fingers dripping red. "I didn't want to hurt him. I didn't!"
Your hand tightened around your gun. You found comfort in its heavy weight pulling down your arm. You said nothing to Gojyo, only watched as he mumbled and muttered incoherently to himself looking like a caged animal huddled in on itself. His eyes flashed from Hakkai, to the window, to the door, to you, never landing on one spot for longer than a moment. You felt as if you were watching something incredibly personal, as if you were intruding on a secret moment. It felt wrong to be witness to the loss someone's sanity.
Suddenly Gojyo was doubling over, hands pressed to his knees. He coughed a dry hacking cough that echoed through the room. It sounded to you like he was trying to cough something out of him, as if some monster was crawling up his throat begging to break free. The coughs become wet and gurgling and then a wave of putrid smelling vomit was falling from his mouth. It was brown and tan and streaked with real that you knew was blood. Small chunks curled and withered among the congealed mess. It looked like he had swallowed maggots live.
You listened as he began to whimper, your eyes fixed on the clear blue sky beyond the window. You detached yourself from the moment. You tried to remember the brush of crimson hair against ragged scars, a bright flash of teeth, an obnoxious voice in your ear. You felt dizzy and sick as if you had been spinning around madly in circles. You couldn't breath and the tunnel you felt like you were traveling through pushed a heavy pressure in on you.
The whimpers started soft. Quiet little things that a child would make but they became louder as the minutes moved by. Whimper, whimper, groan. The low guttural moan of a man in pain. Heavy panting, growling, grunting, sobbing and then . . . laughter.
It wasn't Gojyo's laughter you heard. There was no life there. No quick banter or biting sarcasm, just empty, hollow, lifeless laughter.
You turned and saw him standing there, shoulders shaking with his heavy laughter. He slowly lifted his head and looked up at you, a curtain of red falling back to reveal those eyes. Vacant, cold, unfeeling eyes that shot holes through your body. You watched the feral, hungry smile creep onto his face. Watched him bring his fingers to his lips and lick away the ruby red blood that clung to them. He gave an almost lustful sigh, letting his eyes drift closed and you felt your stomach churn in disgust.
He licked his fingers and lips clean.
You raised your gun.
He winked slyly at you and said simply, "Sanzo."
You pulled the trigger.
(Gojyo was the easiest.)
Hakkai survived the attack from Gojyo and though you never showed it you were more thankful than you could imagine. He had a small would to his head and the gash on his should but both healed quickly and before long he was back up again.
He was different though. He sat alone, in the corner, sullenly staring out a window, the smile you found so annoying never in place. You had forgotten that Gojyo was his best friend.
After that you watched both Hakkai and Goku for any signs of changing. Your eyes picked up the tightness around Hakkai's mouth, the way his hands clenched and unclenched at the slightest movement. Your ears picked up the hard, biting edge to his voice, the undercurrent of anger that was almost always present. You found yourself reaching for your gun unconsciously, your instincts picking up on what you wouldn't let yourself see. You felt empty and tired and on the day that Hakkai threw a chair through a window you made him sleep in a room with you so you could watch him.
You slept restlessly that night. You kept thinking about your master and the way his blood had felt on your hands and Gojyo and the way Hakkai's blood looked on his lips. You felt the hopelessness of your situation bearing down on your body. You wanted to put the gun to your skull. You didn't think you had it in you to kill Hakkai.
You woke up sometime after one with an aching head and a dry throat. You felt, rather than saw, another presence awake in the room. Hakkai was sitting at a table in front of the window. His back was towards you so he was nothing more than a blacker smudge in the already black darkness. You watched as he reached out to the table and wrapped his hand around a beer can. A shiver ran down your spine. Hakkai never drank. His finger nails gleamed in the faint moonlight.
You meant to ask him if he was having trouble sleeping. You meant to sound tired and irritable. You meant for your voice to be strong and hard but what came out was a weak, almost desperate, "Hakkai."
You watched as his back stiffened slightly at the sound of your voice. For a moment he sat, unmoving, and if not for his earlier movement you would have thought that he had not heard you. Then, just as softly as you, he answered.
The words sent strange tingles throughout your body that settled deep in the pit of your stomach. You felt, for a moment, physically sick. But then you noticed Hakkai sitting stiffer and straighter than before, poised and waiting. You shifted slightly to move out of the bed and watched as he stiffened, if possible, even more. You knew he was waiting. Waiting for the click of your gun, for a bullet through the brain.
You climbed out of the bed and tucked your gun beneath your pillow in the hopes that you wouldn't have to use it just yet. You moved across the room and took a seat in the chair across the table from him. From there you could just make out the profile of his face. You noticed the tension around his eyes and mouth, the way his lips were pressed together in a hard line.
"My teeth are getting sharper," he said, voice soft as a whisper. "My ears are becoming pointier."
You didn't know what to say. Gojyo's change had been quick and violent, without warning. Hakkai's appeared to be softer, calmer, like it was creeping slowly over his body.
The silence stretched on between you two, easy and without expectation. You listened to the sound of his even breathing, counting the seconds between each breath. Inhale. 1 one thousand, 2 one thousand. Exhale. You thought about the moment you first realized that you . . . well, the moment you knew. You had been sitting across a table from him in a similar way, reading the paper while Hakkai stared complacently out the window, Gojyo and Goku fighting in the background. You had looked up for a brief second and seen him there, face upturned in the moonlight, eyes drawn, lips thin and tight. He looked hard, cold, so unlike the smiling idiot you were used to. You were amazed to find that you found this coldness alluring, attractive. You liked Hakkai that way, withdrawn and distant and harsh.
It was not like any revelation you'd expect someone to have given the subject, but you'd always been odd when it came to such emotions.
So there you were sitting, again, across a table from Hakkai in a way much like back then. And though Hakkai's expression was very much the same as then the situation was very different.
You didn't know what to say. You felt miles away from him but at the same time entirely too close and you felt disgusted that you could still feel that attraction for him even at a moment like that. You wanted to reach across the table and place your hand over his. You wanted to feel the roughness of his skin, the contours of his hand bones, and the sharp edges of his fingernails. Yet you couldn't, you felt frozen, too scared to move forward but unable to go back. When he spoke again his voice startled you.
"Have you ever wanted something you shouldn't?" The question was a shock and you felt as if he had been reading your mind.
"Yes," you answered without pause. There was no time for hesitancy; you both knew what would happen once the change was complete.
He let out a small sigh. "I remember how it felt, wanting Kanan even though I knew she as my sister. It was a terrible ache. I didn't last very long before giving in." You watched him blink, his eyelashes drifting down lazily to brush his cheeks before sliding back up. "This time I held on longer, not so much for the wrongness of it all but because I was afraid. It's a terrible thing, being afraid. I had loved before and it wasn't an experience I wanted to repeat. But as it seems it will be me leaving this time I see no reason to fear any longer." As he said this he turned to look at you, eyes filled with some strange mixture of hope, desperation and mirth. Your heart clenched.
"What is it you want, Sanzo, which you shouldn't have?"
You didn't answer with words. Instead you reached across the table and laid your hand over his. His skin was warm and rough, just as you'd imagined it. You traced the sharp angles of his bones that you could feel beneath the thin layer of skin. You followed them from wrist to finger tip, sliding the pad of your finger over the sharp edge of nail, pressing down to feel the sting. His hands moved beneath yours, his fingers bending and weaving in between yours until they became intertwined.
You looked up to see him studying you. His eyes were dark in the shadow of his hair, his face still drawn tight in a way that made your blood race and your heart quicken. You wondered what he saw when he looked at you, what made his hand grasp so tightly to yours. Then you realized you didn't really care what made him do it, only that he was doing it. Everything else was inconsequential.
You closed your eyes for a moment and when you opened them his hair was thrown back and the light was shining through the window just right so that you cold see his eyes were filled with all the same things you knew were reflected in yours and before you knew it you were standing up and walking around the table towards him, still holding tight to his hand.
You came to stand in front of him blocking the light from the window so that he was once again cast in shadows. He looked up at you and the way he looked at you made you fall to your knees. He smiled and pulled you up gently so that you were somewhat level. The hand that was not clutching yours reached up and touched you hair, your cheek, your neck. You felt yourself slowly moving forward, reeled in by the pull of his eyes and the careful touch of his hand. You registered that he was moving forward as well, that you were both coming together.
You were no more than a breath away when he spoke again. "Don't do this out of pity," he said.
"I'm not sure I know what pity is," you replied. He smiled and then crushed his lips to yours. It was not gentle or soft. It was harsh and demanding, all the things you knew his kiss would be. His lips smashed yours, rough and merciless. His teeth sunk into the flesh of your lips, his tongue invaded your mouth taking everything with a ferocious need. Fingers clawed and pulled at your hair and you finally let got of his hand to scratch at the skin of his arms. Everything was sharp and painful and hard and everything you wanted it to be.
Then he was pulling you to your feet, pressing you against a wall. His teeth sunk into and tugged at your lower lip until you could taste the coppery tang of blood in your mouth and then his tongue was there lapping and sucking it away. The pain made you gasp and when his lips released yours you threw your head back for air. His lips trailed from your mouth down the line of your jaw sucking and nipping and licking until it clamped down on your neck. The first bite sent your back arching and your fingers clawing helplessly at his back. Your mouth opened wide in a silent scream. His hands were everywhere, clawing at the bones of your hips, nails sinking into the arch of your back and then that mouth was back on yours taking all that you were giving. Which was everything.
Somehow you both managed to stumble back to the bed tearing and ripping off clothes until you were both sprawled, skin against skin, legs intertwined, on your bed. And when he was inside you hard and fast and painful you felt your whole world narrowing to only Hakkai, Hakkai, Hakkai.
He fell asleep against you, head resting on your chest, arm around your waist. Your bodies were sticky and sweaty and oh, so perfect. You watched the now soft lines of his face, the flicker of his eyes behind his eyelids that let you know he was dreaming. There had been nothing gentle about your coupling but this still afterwards was all the softness you could want. You traced the twisting translucent lines of vines that ran over his body like veins beneath the skin. The skin was covered in tiny little scars that rippled beneath your fingers making it feel like your hand was trailing over real vines. You let you hand slip lower to trail over the ugly uneven scar across his stomach, your body shuddering with longing.
You thought, this is what I could've had and now this is all I will have. In his sleep Hakkai pulled you closer. You tucked yourself around his body and closed your eyes.
(You dreamed of bullets and blood and death on your hands.)
You woke up to find Hakkai standing at the foot of the bed watching you with hooded eyes. You took in the point of his ears, the rigidness of his body, the way the vines stood out against his skin. Hating yourself you reached under your pillow, pulled out your gun and aimed it at his chest. His eyes fluttered and his mouth twisted into a bitter, brittle smile.
“Have you ever felt your heart mending and breaking all at once?" he asked. You felt your face twisting into an expression of anguish. It felt alien on your face after going unused for so long.
He dropped his head to his chest and took a long rattling breath, fist clenching together tightly. When he lifter his head his eyes were slightly clouded and unfocused. He looked at you and said, "Now."
You raised the gun. Your hand clenched. Your finger twitched.
You gasped and felt something foreign chocking in your throat.
He eyes blazed. "Sanzo." A warning.
No. NO. No.
"Now, goddamit! Now!"
You swallowed, narrowed your eyes and aimed. In that moment you tried to convey to him everything you felt through your eyes. All the feelings and the words you could never say. In that very brief moment his whole body relaxed and you saw all you felt reflected in his eyes as he whispered, "I always wondered how you'd taste."
You (screamed and) pulled the trigger.
So that brought you here, to this cellar, with Goku chained to the wall in front of you. Your gun lays limp in your hand, the cold steel weighing heavily on your palm. Your hand is clammy and cool with sweat, your face is damp and you reach up with your free hand to wipe the moisture away.
You've been sitting here for hours. It was one of the hardest things you've ever had to do, to drag Goku down into this cellar and chain him to the wall like an animal but finding Goku huddled over Jeep's mangled dead body, blood on his hands and lips, left you no choice. You had to do it, for your sake. For his sake. He followed you meekly as you led him to the cellar, stared complacently at you as you chained him to the wall and turned his face to the light streaming through the single barred window as you sat silently across from him.
Now he watches you, his eyes flashing dangerously as the change comes quicker upon him. You think of how each of their changes, Gojyo, Hakkai and Goku's, mirrored their personalities. Gojyo's, fast and violent, with no warning, just suddenly there, an unexpected danger. Hakkai's was slow and calm, washing over him gently, like waves washing into the shore. And Goku, swaying dangerously on the edge of sanity and madness, danger and innocence.
You watch as, for a moment, his eyes clear of all madness, staring at you with a weary, startled gaze that is all Goku and no monster. Your hand twitches around your gun and he flinches away from you, scooting closer to the wall like a frightened animal. You realize that like his first memory, his last will be of him shackled to a wall, imprisoned.
"Sanzo," he whispers. His voice says that it is a question, as if he is not sure you are really there.
"Yes." You answer because you can't think of anything else to do.
"Did you really hear me call me?"
You think of snapping at him, Yes, your annoying voice wouldn't shut up, but the words wont come, they lay dry and dead in your mouth.
Instead, you say, "yes".
He looks away, back into the light, looking thoughtful. The look is strange on his face. It always shocks you to realize that Goku actually thinks.
"I think . . ." he says hesitantly. "I think I may have called you. I can't really remember clearly but I think I was calling for someone. For a long time." He looks right at you, eyes bright and clear. "I'm glad it was you who heard me."
You don't answer because you can't. Because you're glad you heard him too and you don't know how to say that. So you only lock your eyes with his and nod silently.
Suddenly looking uncomfortable, Goku's eyes shift from yours and instead he stares down at the shackle around his ankle. He seems fascinated by it, as if he's never seen anything like it in his life. The hair falls into his face shielding his eyes from view. You realize that you've never shown him how you feel about him. At least you got to see the pride in your master's eyes as he bestowed your title upon you before he died. What can you give Goku, in these last moments of his life, to show him? You've never been good with physical displays affection so you cannot picture yourself doing anything as affectionate as touching him and yet you do not have the words to express yourself either.
He surprises you by speaking again.
"I have memories from sometime . . . sometime I don't remember too well." He glances at you. "Memories of a man. I always feel as if he's my father, but I know that he's not." He scrunches his face in concentration, trying to remember. "He was safe. He kept me safe but I couldn't do the same for him. I lost him. I don't know how but I lost him."
You remain silent. You feel as if you have lost your ability to speak.
He sighs and the sound is loud in the silence. He seems to brace himself for something, drawing in on himself. You sit that way for a long moment while the light fades and night begins to settle on the outside world.
When he finally looks back up at you there is a fierce determination in his eyes. A look you've seen on his face often, a look of power.
"Do it now Sanzo," he says. "I don't want to die an animal."
It's like a stab to your heart and you know you can do nothing but comply. You lift your gun in your hands and watch as he watches you, gaze hard and strong. You aim the gun at his head and he nods, satisfied.
"At least I got to protect you."
You want to remind him that you don't need protection but you only nod, allowing him to keep this piece of comfort for himself. You see in his eyes that he is ready and you know, suddenly, how to tell him.
The words spill from your lips. His eyes hardly have time to widen, alight with emotion, before the ear splitting boom of the gun shot fills the air.
The room around you echoes with silence. You sit, alone with your sins, surrounded by dust and blood and you wait for morning to come.