What he remembered on the rare nights he didn’t have anyone to warm his bed made his skin crawl. He turned fitfully, on those nights, and lashed out at flickering shadows.
Sometimes he riddled holes in the smooth wall. Sometimes he left bruises on his skin that faded in a matter of hours. He always had the hollow-eyed look of the dead in the mornings after.
Sometimes he could see her murmuring at the edge of his bed, darning socks or something else disturbingly domestic, unreal, and he shuddered at the ghost of her voice.
Hers was a lingering touch.
Sha Gojyo is three when he bumps his head against a table and inflicts a shallow cut to his scalp.
He cries and Not-Mother cries with him. She screams and rages, pulling her hair; their voices meld, brassy and tarnished by something more than blood on white tablecloth.
Where his scream is shrill, she is grandiose in volume and depth, making the glass shatter. She screams with the pain of betrayal, loss, and a million little sins Sha Gojyo learns about.
Her thin fingers lash out, dashing dishes and silverware to the floor where Not-Mother and Son lay slumped together.
When Gojyo is five he angers Not-Mother; furious, she nearly takes out his eye. She doesn’t stop and Jien, as always, comes to his rescue, earning a heavy slash to the face for his efforts.
Jien gets stitches.
Not-Mother worked quickly and efficiently, as if she were stitching up a torn shirt rather than Jien’s face.
That night, Gojyo slips into Jien’s bed, rests on Jien’s chest while listening to his heartbeat. He reaches toward the stitches on Jien’s face and counts...
One. Two. Threefourfive.
Even after it heals, Gojyo still reaches out. As if he can still feel them.
At eight, he grows out of all his clothes and ends up inheriting Jien’s. He can smell his brother’s scent on the fabric, it smells of smoke and booze and something he can’t quite place from his brother’s travels.
Gojyo begs to be taken along whenever Jien leaves, but Jien just gives him a sad look, whispers “next time”, and slips out the window.
After Jien leaves, late at night, Gojyo roams the empty halls until he comes to his own room and slips under the covers wearing the clothes that smell like Jien.
Next time, next time... next time.
Not-Mother could only stand to look at him on nights where there was no moon. On those nights there was no light to shine on that damned red hair and those eyes, which he kept shut as tight as physically possible.
She always sang a childish lullaby:
Demons fight, fight, fight,
At night, night, night,
They bleed, bleed, bleed,
And feed, feed, feed,
Tell me why, why, why,
They die, die, die.
The words, now, taste like ashes in his mouth.
But, like ashes, he spits them out and lets them fall to the ground. Where he can bury them.
Disclaimer: I definitely do not own Saiyuki. Nope. Not me.
Author’s Note: It is disgustingly hard for me to write sad!Gojyo because, realistically, you know that Gojyo would just go out on the night with Dokugakuji, get piss-drunk and sentimental for all of two minutes before dumping his brother with the tab while he went off gallivanting into the night with a hot waitress. Or vice versa, since it runs in the family.
Also, each “segment” bit is exactly 100-words long (or so Microsoft Word tells me). Because I like doing proper drabbles. God knows why.