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Waking the Dead by atolm2000
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I don’t
own Saiyuki etc etc etc and I’m broke anyway.
Suing me would be like suing Faye Valentine - there’s
no assets, only debts.

is for violence, self-inflicted injury, angst, enough cynicism to peel the
paint off a car at twenty paces, and Gojyo swearing for three lines straight.

This is
technically an odd sort of team effort; there’s a “sister fic”
to this one, done first-person Gonou/ “Hey You”/Hakkai,
that covers the same period of time; we both worked out the timeline of what
happens when, coordinated on details of the major points both characters were
involved in (the objective details at least - since first person POV has a
rather large effect on how some things read), and have been writing…semi-independently
otherwise, although technically those who’ve found these fics
on would know that she’s actually six or seven chapters ahead of
me. Also, I had originally -INTENDED-
for this to start around the same point its partner-fic,
“Here Lies Gonou” did…then Sanzo decided to start at an earlier point in
time. So I figured I’d at least make the
first chapter break around the same event. BUT,when
that hit 14 pages, I realized that not only was I adding a good day almost onto
the time covered, but that there were long periods where Gonou was
unconscious/incoherent/not really saying much, so his side of things was
shorter than Sanzo’s, nevermind Gojyo being Gojyo in all of his Gojyo-ness and
taking unfair advantage of the period when Sanzo did not have a gun to shoot
him with. I hope he knows how lucky he
is to’ve lived through the first chapter.



Cho Gonou had one accomplishment right before he was no
longer Cho Gonou that nobody ever heard about.

Cho Gonou brought one stupid monk back from the dead.

I had
died maybe a week before I found Goku.
Everything I'd tried to do had turned to ash; everyone I'd tried to help
had suffered, most had died. When I
stood between those stone bars, the morning sun rising to my right, the light
drowned out my bleeding hands, the ragged state of my robes, the fact that I
was leaning on the rock so as not to fall over, and then Goku looked up almost
in disbelief that I was there - I felt like I had walked into a divine
joke. My reflection in those big gold
eyes was everything I should've been, and a reminder of what I could never live
up to. "Stop calling me. It's getting annoying, and you're driving me
nuts." I'm not a savior, I'm not
a saint. Don't rely on me, I can't be what you want.

When I
climbed the mountain, it was because I had made a promise to Koumyou not to walk
away when someone called for my help, whether they knew they were calling or
not. He’d made that promise a very
serious thing, and didn't put any illusions to it - he'd told me it would hurt
sometimes, to never turn away. I climbed
the mountain intending for that to be the last thing I ever did; I would find
out what I needed to do, and when it was done, it'd be over. After all,
everything else I'd touched had died, so it couldn't last that long, right?

Ha. Ha.

So for
a long time, I limped on. A Sanzo is supposed
to be strength for others, and I had responsibilities that wouldn't go away
thanks to a certain talking thistle burr, so I walled everything back to die in
the dark; when I came across something I needed to help with, I did what was
necessary and walked away. I even
started spending time in the temples again instead of traveling, not because I
have any fondness for them, but because it was responsibilities I could attend
to that were nonthreatening, nipping at the heels of
the priesthood to punch holes in their hypocrisy now and then, walking dead
without feeling anything.

intensified my long tradition of not listening much to the other things I Heard
anymore; sealed up my own empathy, that sense of overhearing emotions,
intentions, who someone really was, save for knowing when someone was a threat,
being able to predict ambushes, and being able to tell when a stupid hannyou was lying to me.

haven't seen him. Why're
you asking?"

caught that startled pause behind guileless red eyes and the mental 'eep' just past a calm, unwavering
voice. He's a good liar,
it's just too bad I'm paying attention to the parts one usually doesn't need to
train for deception.

wanted for the murder of two clans of youkai." That was a warning; a nudge of how serious
this was, to tell me the truth.

"Really? Hunh." He's leaning
slightly against the door, closer than I'd like to stand, but he's not moving
because he's trying to block me from the door without making it look like he's
blocking the door, smoking nonchalantly.
Although there was a glimmer of surprise at my words, it's not as much
as I would've expected. "So what do
you want with him?"

here to bring him back to the Temple of the Setting Sun for trial." No flicker of shifting intention; he's
blocking the door, and knows what - who - he's keeping me
away from. "Whatever you're hiding,
it won't do any good." He doesn't
even seem to care about the needling; I don't register as a real threat

door cracks, behind him, and I catch green eyes over his shoulder, dark hair, a
startled blink, and an aura louder than normal gradually blending out of a
jangling, mismatched state; youkai but doesn't look like it, although it's not
hard for me to recognize the ear-cuffs as limiters, even without the strange

So it
really did work, to become youkai by killing a thousand.

hands go to the doorframe as a visible panic hits and he snaps, "Get back
ins-", just as my knee hits him in the stomach, knocking the wind out of
him. Before I can get by him, almost
before he's caught his breath, he's standing in my way again with a fierce
snarl; now he's angry.

I take
a swing, hoping to get him out of the way before he's recovered; he blocks, with
a small surprised wobble but the block holds solid now that he's realizing he's
in for a fight.

He ends
up looking down the barrel of my revolver, a warning shot going off past his
head aimed upward; I'm not going to drag this out any more than I have to. "Get out of my way or I'll kill
you." If I'd really wanted him
dead, I wouldn't have warned him, but it still wasn't an idle threat; I knew
just enough to know that this wasn't a situation I could take lightly. Gonou's still holding the door partway open,
a tinge of fear for Gojyo's sake and a stifled, "Gojyo!", and it
starts to occur to me that there's something else to this.

eyes narrow, and I've just gotten the "threat - serious threat" tag
that was missing earlier - then there's movement, he's actually ducked and
twisted my wrist with one hand, the gun goes off hitting the doorframe as I'm
forced to drop it; he's faster than I'd expected, outweighs me half again, and
is no stranger to a fight. That
registers as he shoulders past me, knocking me off balance, pulling my wrist
with him so that it's bent behind my back, and I end up eating dirt with his
knee buried in the small of my back, one hand holding my wrist behind my back,
the other around the base of my neck holding me down. He doesn't like me; really doesn't like me,
there's disgust and contempt, I can almost hear the
words 'hypocrite' or 'liar' attached to my robes. Feh, he should see
the ones that aren't open about their faults.

get out of here!" - he's going to hold me down so
Gonou can escape, and Gonou was hesitating in the door, unsure how to
react. Gonou runs, but doesn't get ten
feet before there's a familiar blur from the woods tackling him; he actually
manages to kick Goku off as they fall.

lands on his feet, skidding back with that reckless feral grin. "Hey, you are strong!" Of course he's strong you idiot, he killed
that many youkai, doesn't it register that "he's strong" means
"you could get hurt or dead"?
It doesn't bother me that he's helping, but that damn careless

Gonou picks himself up out of the dirt, with a shift of something in his aura
and his eyes as he's cornered; it's something cold-blooded, deadly, a
suspension of remorse, something I've seen the kid brother of surfacing in my
own mind a few times - I wouldn't toy with mine, and this is off by a couple
powers of ten.

And my
pistol's barely a foot from his hand.

I start
struggling, snarling, trying to throw Gojyo off; he digs his fingers into the
back of my neck, putting more weight there to pin me, and when that doesn't
stop me, he moves my wrist up half an inch, enough that if I move, it'll either
hurt like Hell or start tearing part of my elbow.

like I'm paying attention to the "hurt like Hell" part.

dives, I can see the flicker as Gonou notices my pistol and snatches it, I
wince and freeze, going mostly limp as Goku realizes what's going on too late
and practically runs face first into it, I'm not looking but waiting for the
gunshot that'll be the end of the one thing that's truly forced me to live for
years now -

there's no gunshot; I'm left with a flicker of a pulse back behind all those
walls, a brief pang that maybe everything under my routines isn't as dead as
I'd thought, and there might be something alive enough to care in me yet; a
realization that I was afraid for him.

still standing frozen, staring down my revolver stuck in the moment of dawning
recognition. Gonou's looking up,
breathing hard - pain? - I can see him reining in the beast, dragging it back, trying to hold his aim steady as his shoulders shake.

"Please..I thing I need
to do...just let me finish this one thing, and I'll come back and turn myself
in, I'll accept whatever punishment awaits." He's speaking haltingly through pain, but the
words are bleeding out of him; he's not lying, he's throwing everything on our

staggers to his feet, not moving his aim off Goku; backs into the woods, then
turns and breaks into a stumbling run.

blinks, almost relaxes, then snaps around to face
Gojyo. Gojyo's relaxed his grip on my
neck and wrist, and is...watching my face with a sense of total confusion,
trying to make sense of something that doesn't match what he'd seen previously,
the hostile intent's gone behind the new puzzle.

He waits
until Gonou's footsteps can't be heard to cautiously let go of my wrist and
neck and stand up, warily; the active hostility might be gone, but he's still
aware that I'm a possible danger. I sit
up, dusting off the front of my robes as if it'd brush off whatever he saw in
me. Goku's attention is focused on him
behind me.

I could
do the cautious, strict to orders thing; leave Gojyo to Goku to deal with, stop
Gonou and just take him back to the Temple and get this over with. Even if it came to a fight, he's wounded, I should be able to manage. I could stick to the base responsibility I
was given, leave no openings for him to escape, strangle that flicker of a
pulse and make sure I never felt anything again.

I stand up, turn to Gojyo, and demand, "What's
going on here?"

funny, I was about to ask you the same thing."

much do you know?"

a whole lot, apparently." He's
pulled out another cigarette and is lighting it to replace the one that got
lost in the fight. "Don't think we wanna talk about it out here in the middle of the street,
though." He walks back to his door,
pushing it open, and half-mockingly motions to usher me in.

A few
minutes later, I'm sitting at a small, cluttered table in the front room of a
cramped apartment, leaning on folded hands; there's an almost overflowing
ashtray in the middle, a lot of empty bottles and cans, and Goku's attacking a
bowl of apples Gojyo gave him open season on.
Gojyo's barely fighting off a nervous pace.

what are you, the temple's hired assassin or something?"

Hell, I just had this argument with the damned temple before I came out here,
and the only reason I was even out here, was that they'd managed to convince me
that wasn't the kind of work I was doing.
Gah, this is why I'd taken off into the
wilderness that first time... There is no amount of profanity that could
accurately convey my response to his question, so I settled on the kind of
glare that caused temple acolytes to wither where they stood.

cigarette shifts in his mouth, he raises an eyebrow that disappears into bright
red bangs in speechless silence, and I think his entire mental description of
me in that moment collapsed down to 'What the fuck?' “Oookay,
maybe not.”

much do you know about him?" I was
quite pointedly not acknowledging the existence of his question.

I get to ask first since I'm the host?"
I brush off his annoyance with another sharp look. "Alright,
alright." He leans on the
doorframe, looking down distantly, counting off. "His name's Cho Gonou. I found
him bleeding to death in the rain not too long ago. Brought him in, fixed him up, got a doctor
in, made sure he'd survive. He's quiet, polite, doesn't talk much, and
didn't expect to live; he never offered any explanation, and I never
asked. He has nightmares, bad ones, gets
kinda morbid occasionally, and there's a name he keeps mumbling in his
sleep. That's about it." Gojyo's not entirely trusting, I got that
from how he dealt with me and the sense that he's still not saying everything,
yet he had no problem taking in a stranger without any explanation. There's something there I'm not going to
guess at except to realize I can't predict his actions. "You?"

was sent to retrieve him, because he killed at least one thousand youkai, from
Hyakugan Maoh's clan and the Dark Crow; decimated both of them. I was given a description, and that was about
it; I was not told anything more. That
he had the potential to be dangerous was a foregone conclusion."

you brought the kid with you for something like that?” He raises an eyebrow at me over his
cigarette. Goku looks over with a piece
of fruit in his mouth half-forgotten, realizing he's become the topic.

can take care of himself, and he would have terrorized the other monks if I'd
left him there alone. Besides, he

“If I
were going just by what you knew, I'd call that pretty irresponsible of
you. But then, what would I know,
eh?” He's acting like he's blowing it
off, but he's definitely fishing; trying to get a reaction.

supposed to care?”

reputation here just clicked another step back towards "son of a
bitch", but he's still holding off on that for something. "So what're you going to do now?"

you have any clues where he's going?"

Half-truth; nothing specific but it seems he's got a few clues.

"You honestly have no clue where he's going?"

"None at all."
Gojyo's stubborn.

The direction
he'd fled...there's only really one thing that way that I know of that'd be
relevant. "I think I
know." I stand up. "Goku? We're going." He looks up, nods, and runs outside ahead of
me, the door falling back shut behind him.

you going to do when you catch up to him?"
Gojyo shifts in the doorframe, so that he could easily block my way out
if he wants.

not sure yet; it'll depend on what he does."

you take him back - what's the temple going to do?"

not my issue; they're Buddhists, so I doubt they'll call for an execution, but
it won't be taken lightly."

if he decides not to surrender?"
He's gone serious, quiet.

killed before; he's a fool if he thinks he could make that choice without
setting himself up for conflict. If it's
not us, it'll probably be someone striking for revenge; he won't get away from
this cleanly." I wait a moment for
that to sink in, gauging his reaction; he doesn't particularly seem to care,
he's gotten involved and obviously isn't walking away. "You can't protect him forever."

border on a staredown; he's half-blocking my path, seriously considering his
chances if he tries to stop me. He
straightens a bit closer to his full height so he's looking down at me - he's
half again my size. He's resolutely
refusing to be intimidated, too annoyed to let me win, and I'm too used to
being outnumbered and outweighed to be bothered. Some of his attention is on the door;
doubtless wary of Goku intervening.

I'll just have to tag along then."
He grabs a polearm that's by the door by a
simple strap-harness, slinging it over his left shoulder, then turns to open
the door and let me out; but when I reach the door, he stops me with his hand
on the door handle.1

know, the kid could've gotten killed back there.”

I stare at the door, hissing through my teeth
slightly. “He was being careless; it
would've been his own damn fault.” It's
not like I hadn't realized that, and if he had...

"It's funny; you say you don't care, but the way
you were acting a minute ago, I would've sworn you were the one staring down a gunbarrel."

“That wouldn't be my problem; I meant what I said.” I look up with a harsh glare, warning him
off. If the gun had gone off, it
would've killed both of us; Goku is the one thing I've been forcing myself to
live for that isn't looking more and more like a hopeless wild goose chase with
each passing year, and I'm not going to deal with this topic any further.

The latch clicks and he pushes it open. He seems determined to tread on every nerve
of mine he can.

keeps running a bit ahead, then coming back to where I'm walking; Gojyo hangs
about fifteen feet back. I can feel that
he's watching me, gauging me, trying to figure out what to expect, how much I'm
hiding - what's under the stoneface.

anyone had asked at the time, I'd have said he found nothing he could puzzle
out because there wasn't really anything to find; masks left running on long
after the face under it had died and rotted away, a position that wasn't a
person anymore.

For a
moment, Goku gets far enough ahead that I almost lose sight of him, and I
remember that Gonou still has my gun and came within an inch of shooting him
before. "Hey, idiot, don't get that
far ahead!", I snap, calling him back.

stops to wait for us to catch up, then starts pacing
me, walking right next to me with a whiff of annoyance. "So...what's with him? He seems like an okay guy." He's trying to keep his voice down, with only
a slight tilt of his head Gojyo's direction; Gojyo can probably hear him

still a threat; you don't need to be evil to be dangerous." I'm trying to keep my voice down as well,
counting on him being more directly behind me to make it harder to hear, but the
gaze on my back just twitched, so he must've heard enough to tell something of
what I said.

going on here?"

I can't
give him clarity. "A mess; that's
all you need to know." I can't tell
him who the bad guy is; I'd stayed silent when I was first told Gonou had
killed Hyakugan Maoh's clan, because I didn't think "That's a
problem?" or "Good for him" would go over very well. There's something we haven't been told yet
about why, as well..."and there's a name he keeps mumbling in his
...that could mean a lot with that clan, and I'm getting the
feeling if I knew the details, I might end up siding with Gonou. I haven't gotten any indication from Gojyo
that he'd act on malice; there's been nothing more sinister here on Gojyo's
part than a stubborn protectiveness. The
more I can figure out about this job, the more I think I'm standing by the law
not because of justice, but because of the magnitude of Gonou's actions, or
maybe just because he's probably better off with the temple's punishment than
with the vengeance of Hyakugan Maoh's allies or any potential survivors. We've walked into a big, foggy grey area,
where there isn't really a definable "Justice", only a lot of
wreckage to untangle.

"Y'know, you're about the unholiest
monk I've ever seen; were you a mob enforcer in another life?" I'd kill Gojyo, but that'd be giving him the
reaction he wants. "Come to think
of it, how do I even know you're really a priest?"

I were lying about being a priest, I'd actually be trying to live up to
people's stupid unrealistic expectations."
When I look over my shoulder, he's smoking; it seemed like he'd walk to
his death with a cigarette in his mouth.
It irks me with a twinge of a craving made worse by raw nerves, but I
wasn't going to fumble with it in a situation like this.

you might be a bad liar. Not real rare,
for hitmen to be lousy liars." Great, now he thinks I'm with the mob.

a priest, and an important one, really!
Sometimes all he has to do to get the others to shut up and listen is
look at them, and I haven't really seen anyone that outranks him, he lives at
the temple most of the time except when he gets too annoyed at them 'cuz they won't let him drink or smoke or eat meat and they
get really upset when he scares the acol-" I cuff him upside the head while he's walking
sideways to yammer at Gojyo, sending him stumbling briefly with a sharp
"Shut up!"

it's the truth, you say yourself that you really don't get along with-" He doesn't
quite manage to duck even though he tries, but now that he's expecting it, it
doesn't bother his balance.

mutters and glares at me indignantly, and I glare right back, but honestly, the
mumbling outrage is easier for me to take than the times he gives me that look
of absolute faith and trust. That
continues for a few minutes as we walk in silence.

still say you act more like a hitman than a

I whip
around, threatening him with the pistol half-reflexively. "Now listen, if you want to die that-" And the cold
snarl dies a quick death as I realize I'm sighting down empty air; Gonou still
has my gun. Gojyo raises an eyebrow with
an odd, cold twitch at the corner of his mouth; if the situation were a little
less serious, he'd probably be laughing at me right about now.

else I say will only damage my dignity further, so I turn back to continue
walking with a huff; I can't believe I've already let him goad me into making a
fool of myself.

another ten minutes or so, I hear a click and rattle from the polearm's harness, and start paying a bit more attention to
what he's focusing on and if there's the slightest flicker of hostile intent
towards me. The blade's whistling
through the air as he's toying with it; his attention is on me, distrusting and
analyzing, but nothing actively violent - he's testing me. I tense at the snap and rustle as he takes
off an overhanging tree limb with it, but don't look back; I can get enough off
his aura to know if he turns threatening, and until then, I'm not going to give
him a reaction. After a few more swings,
I hear him put it back.

The further
we get, the more unnerving the calculating gaze between my shoulder blades gets.
I'd tune it out more, but I'm still not
sure he won't try anything, and watching for any warning flicker of active
hostility is more important at the moment than shrugging off the nerves,
particularly when he's periodically toying with his weapon behind me. If he decides to try anything, he could kill
me, and I'll likely only get a second of real intent of violence off his aura
in warning.

finding signs of blood rubbed off on one of the trees, still damp, is only a
momentary distraction; none of us were hurt, it has to be Gonou’s, there must
be some preexisting injury, which would explain some of how he acted
earlier. It seems like he's trying to
ignore it, and if he's bleeding enough to lead a trail, there's a chance he might
not get to where he's going.

I try
to pick up the pace after that, but quickly get reminded of the eyes on my
back, the weighing sense redoubled for some reason. It's like he's trying to read every move I
make, and even the paranoid jabs would be preferable after a while to the
silent, appraising stare.

ignore it as long as I can, until it finally gets to me. “Look, if you're going to insist on tagging
along, you may as well do it where I can see you.”

amused crosses his face. “Whatever you say.”

walk continues in silence, him walking beside me now; the only real change is
that now we're both watching each other out of the corner of our eyes, while
trying not to look like we're watching each other. It's a good thing Goku's good at tracking, I
don't think I'd be able to find shit and still deal with Gojyo.

A long
period of quiet ended when Goku froze.
"Did you hear that?"

course I didn't hear whatever he just heard; he could hear a pin drop from two
city blocks away on a busy day in Chang’An, and even
though I've stopped to listen, I can't catch anything more than wind in the
leaves. "What was it?"

sounded like -"
He tenses suddenly.
"I smell blood!", and he's off, sprinting full-tilt into the
woods with Gojyo and I struggling to catch up.

I can
just catch a quiet murmur of Gonou's voice, another aura cold and hurt and
hostile, before he's drowned out by Goku shouting ahead somewhere -

IT! Damnit, what the Hell do you think you're doing?!"

I come
to a stop around a corner in the path; Goku's just tackled Gonou, who's on the
ground in a moment of stunned shock, the fingers on his right hand bloodied and
half-changed to claws, blood streaming down his face from his right eye; at
first it looks like it might be missing, but it's just been cut into and so
red-drenched that it's hard to see.
"You've got nice eyes, you should be trying to keep them, not get
rid of them!" That confirms it; he
was trying to take his own eye out. I
bite back a sickened twinge; this is already a wreck, it'll only be harder to
deal with if I start caring. Goku still
doesn't seem to grasp the reasoning behind self-inflicted injury, he's confused
enough by simple apathy, much less outright trying to hurt one's self; Gonou's
trying to shrink from him, hands returning to normal. There's blood starting to show from his side,
the injury from earlier; he's dropped my gun next to him.

And there’s
a sense of surprise briefly interrupting the blanket hate from the youkai I'd
just almost run into; there's two more people on either side of him, and
they're between Gojyo and I, and Gonou.

that it takes them long to react to our presence; the youkai in the middle
whips around to face me, and the other two - humans - sidestep to where they
can watch us and Goku at the same time.

the Hell - is this kid yours?”

I give
a curt nod, looking up at pale eyes; he's a good head taller than I am, dark
figure, black-feathered mantle, and looks like he's probably at least not
clueless in a fight. I hate fighting
youkai unarmed.

this is none of your business; we don't have any fight with you people. Just walk away.” The youkai’s not threatening me - yet.

a brief, weak, “You don't have to-“ from Gonou that I
ignore, completely.

can't do that; I don’t want a fight with you, but this has already been made my
business. You walk away or else.” I've already committed myself to this
one. This'd probably be the kind of
fight where it wouldn't be a bad idea to invoke the Makai
Tenjou, except that I'm barely two feet from him, and
most youkai tend to recognize holy magic of a certain scale and that it's a
good idea to interrupt the poor sot chanting before it has a real effect if
they can, typically by inflicting a large degree of injury.

glowers at me, then to Gojyo next to me, not really taking his eyes off me -
“You, with the red hair - Taboo brat!”
There's a sharp, angry intake of breath from Gojyo; the human on that
side flinches. “Stay out of this!”

human steps closer with a hand raised trying to motion
for calm. “Aah
- listen, Gojyo, this isn't what it looks like, and we could probably use your
help here - give us a hand and I can explain every-“

shut the fuck up already - I know plenty, and you shit-for-brains assholes can
go fuck yourselves up the ass with a rusty poleaxe if
you think I'm going to be your little fetch-bitch, and if you hog-reaming horsefuckers so much as lay a finger on Gonou I swear to
the Gods I'll-“

I put
my arm out, cutting him off in mid-sentence.
“You may as well leave now, if you don't want a fight; neither of us are going to walk away.”
Not that I wasn't…impressed with Gojyo's creativity, but I didn't think
they'd let him continue much further anyway.

youkai takes a swing at me, already showing claws and shifting partway, feathers
and partial-wings off the arms; I dodge back, but almost run into Gojyo, so
that while it doesn't hit me, it does catch the front of my robes, enough to
lift me off the ground. Before it can do
anything else, Goku's kicked it from behind, knocking it stumbling so that it
drops me; Gojyo's got the one that recognized him, the other one's trying to
stop me as I dive for my pistol.

This is
slightly delayed by Gonou picking it up himself, aiming very shakily at the
youkai, clicking the trigger rapidly in confusion; it’s not that hard to note
that he doesn’t seem to realize the hammer needs to be cocked for a revolver to
fire.2 The
youkai wheels around to pursue either me or Goku as Gonou drops it, getting to
his feet to fight barehanded. Before he
can go after the youkai, I’ve already retrieved my gun and fired. The youkai falls against a tree, a large hole
in one shoulder that nearly took off the arm. Gojyo raps the polearm
on the ground, the man he'd been fighting is on the
ground already, unconscious. The last
one is frozen, realizing how close the shot that'd just hit the youkai had come
to him, and that he's now got our full attention; he turns and bolts without a
second thought.

I stand
up, putting my gun away and dusting off my robes with a sharp look at the
wounded youkai. “You have a chance to
leave here alive; don't do anything stupid.”

When I
turn to help Gonou up, I end up catching a glimpse of him dashing into the
woods after the one that bolted, the patchwork jars sticking out sharply. Before I can say or do anything, I see fast
movement from Gojyo's polearm, directed off out of my
vision - towards Goku's aura, impossible to mistake.

For a
moment I hold the aim on the back of Gojyo's head; he's put the polearm's blade into the bushes, but not hit anything. Goku's griping at him and he's dropped the
weapon, holding both hands up mumbling an apology. He turns around just as I'm putting the gun
away, again, and there's a glimmer of recognition that he just almost got shot;
Goku hops back into the clearing, asking where Gonou went to.

I start
to turn back to look the direction he went, but of course the world's insane,
so the idiots in it have to follow suit. I know there's trouble when I start hearing a
broken, weak chuckle from the youkai, on the ground barely a foot behind Gojyo,
and there's definitely violent intent but I don't think it's got a clue who to
direct it at. I slide a tired glower
over, to see it standing up behind Gojyo with Gojyo’s polearm
in one claw, moving to either use him as a shield or kill him with his own
weapon, I don't think it's even sure which at this point, it's snapped. I can just see its head over his shoulder, its
other claw in the process of grabbing his arm, and while he's realized what's
going on, he's in no position to move fast enough to get away from it.

A split
second later, there's a gunshot that cuts close enough to Gojyo's head to leave
a few strands of crimson red drifting away, and it falls dead, dropping the polearm; Gojyo blinks widely and nervously at me, and the
gun in my hand, and the twitch I'm starting to develop.

anyone else feel like doing anything stupid?”
My snarl isn't directed at any particular conscious target, pistol aimed
in the air; this entire night has been one long trend of the world trying to
tread on every single nerve I have, and I'm getting sick of it. “I'd like to know before I bother putting
this away again.”

breeze whistles through the leaves, with no other answer. I put the pistol away, and turn to Goku. “We’re going to have to track him down. Again.”

lags behind Goku and I while he replaces his polearm
in the harness, then easily keeps up with us. Goku takes up the trail through the woods,
following it at a fast pace; between blood and broken branches, even I could’ve
followed this. At one point Goku stops
suddenly with an “Eeggh!”, then stops in front of us,
pointing to the side with a “He went this way!”. I don’t know why he even bothers pointing that
out, since again even I could follow the trail without trouble, but I humor him
just to get through this faster. It
doesn't take long to catch up to Gonou, limping ahead slowly.

I don't think he even realizes Gojyo and I have almost
caught up to him; we fall in on either side of him behind, matching pace. He doesn’t pay attention to us, but any time
we try to catch up to walk beside him, he starts pushing himself harder.

going with you." No options given.

glances back just long enough to see the Ultimate Glare Of
I'm Already Pissed So Don't Push Your Luck, and continues on anyway.

knows, we might be able to help.", Gojyo adds;
his refusal of argument is more friendly sounding than mine, but no less

not arguing, but he doesn’t stop trying to keep ahead of us; finally we just
settle into following behind like jackals, staying just far enough behind that
he doesn’t struggle to outpace us again.



1 - Yes, I know in the series the shakujou
gets Hammerspace to some extent; it was something of
a judgement call, but since Gojyo doesn’t seem horribly apt at magic and all, I
kinda…drug it a bit more toward the “realism/normal” end.

2 - This kinda makes Sanzo’s panic attack about Gonou
holding the gun on Goku pretty ironic, not that he’s going to really comment on

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