Title: SAIYUKI RELOAD AGAIN
Summary: The effects of the minus waves proved to be more powerful than what the Gods foresaw. From its devastating effects comes new enemies, new demons... and a new mission the Sanzo-ikkou must complete for the sake of the world.
Note: Takes place about a year after the original storyline.
Leaving me some constructive criticism would totally make my day, even if you won't be able to stick around for the whole ride <3
I thank you all very much in advance!
SAIYUKI RELOAD AGAIN
“So... are you gonna marry him?”
“No way! I'd rather drink my own pee.”
“You haven't even met him yet!”
“It's not about who I'm marrying, Masahiro. It's about the fact that I'm being made to.”
“Oh... Well, I hope you two will fall in love and stuff.”
“Well, I hope the marriage doesn't happen at all.”
From the summer skies overlooking the dry, shoddy village, a vulture fell to the dirt road with a dull thud.
“Oh my goodness!” cried a mother of two, holding a hand to her heart in surprise. She looked up into the skies to see if there were any other vultures circling above, but found none. “Where did that come from,” she wondered aloud, confusion etching into her brow.
Dust rose from up into the air from where the hawk had fallen, and the fleas finally stopped biting nearby villagers in favor of a rare and tasty treat. The mother's twin boys stared down at it, each daring the other to touch the unmoving vulture. When one of the boys finally crouched down to poke it with a finger, the harsh voice of their mother made each flinch and sulk away from the dead animal.
A middle-aged man donning a straw hat leaned forward over his stand to see what had fallen. He took one look at the dead vulture, flying insects already digging mercilessly into its body, and grunted. “Nev'r in my life have I ev'r seen a bird just done drop dead right outta th' sky.” The man clucked his tongue and shook his head at the dead animal. “I reckon it's a bad omen or somethin'.”
“Don't be ridiculous,” a bitter old woman muttered as she picked through the old, rotten fruits and vegetables at his stand. “You an' yer fortune-tellin'. None o' that's gonn' help y' with anythin', y' hear?”
The old farmer leaned over his counter and eyed his only customer. “Oh?” He tilted back his straw hat and peered at her. “Yest'rday, my fortune-tellin' told me there ain't gonn' be no rain. And was there any rain yest'rday?”
The old woman just sent him a pointed stare.
The old farmer grinned toothily, revealing gaps in his blackening teeth. “See? My fortune-tellin' is the greatest thing this dry old village ev'r―”
The old woman suddenly stepped back with a horrified gasp, face whitening and contorting in terror.
The old man furrowed his brow. “What's got you so damn―”
The old woman screamed when the farmer's head came clean off. It fell to the counter and rolled into his rotten produce. Insects from out of the fruits to swarm to the bottom of his bleeding head.
The village was silent and still. All eyes were on the tall figure standing behind the headless farmer.
Then, panic ensued.
The old woman wasn't granted a chance to scream; a large, strong hand grabbed her face and squeezed with enough force to make a sickening crack. She was tossed away carelessly, her body landing face-down in the dust. The parched, dry ground began absorbing the blood that seeped out of her crushed head after months of never seeing water.
The mother of two shrieked and shoved her two sons down the road, shouting for them to run fast and never stop. She cried out when her arm was yanked back.
Hearing her cry, one of the boys stupidly came to an abrupt halt and turned around. He saw his mother's arm being twisted behind her back before a sharp snap made her cry out with wide eyes. He grew afraid. Without thinking, his mouth opened to cry for his mother.
The pain made her blind, but she knew her son's voice. She shouted desperately at her son; “Run, Shuuhei! Ru―!”
Shuuhei screamed when he saw his mother thrown to the ground, her torso ripped open and spilling blood. He watched the monster behind her grin at him before rushing forward.
He had to run, but his legs wouldn't move. His body was frozen to the ground.
The monster seemed to have forgotten him, or maybe he didn't care for him at all, because he just leaped right over his tiny body to chase after the running crowds. Stricken with fear, Shuuhei still couldn't move. He flinched when he heard terrified cries and screams, and he stood rooted to the ground. Shuuhei clapped his hands over his ears as he cried pitifully, squeezing his eyes shut, unable to move.
He didn't want to hear what was happening, but no matter how hard he pressed his hands over his ears, he heard it all.
He heard the baker crying for his wife before his body fell to the ground with a thud. He heard the screams of the other kids all around the village. He heard the terrified cries and begging of the adults, many who had guarded the area from pillagers. He could make out the sound of a dying man, struggling painfully for his last breath.
He heard the loud, incessant buzzing of insects swarming everywhere, and the fluttering of wings that belonged to the buzzards that magically appeared in the skies above. He heard the wild whooping and cackling of the demon as he tore freely through the village, his voice ripping through the hands he clasped over his ears and ringing in his head.
There was a stench unlike any other that reached his nose, one that he later realized to be that of blood and rotting meat from the poor vendors and torn bodies strewn about in the hot, hot summer sun.
Shuuhei suddenly felt a warm breath in his face and heard a soft chuckle.
Ice plunged into his veins when he realized the monster was standing before him. A fearful cry slipped past his lips and he could feel hot tears start to spring to his eyes. Shuuhei pressed his hands harder against his ears and squeezed his eyes shut tighter in the childish hopes of making this monster go away.
But he could still feel the monster's breath on his face, and he heard a sudden gurgling gasp that reminded him of his mother's torn and bloodied body and―
“You wanna live?”
Shuuhei couldn't answer. When he opened his mouth, all that came out were pitiful cries and sobs. A great big shuddering gasp wracked his body in such a way that knocked the breath right out of him and in his fearful panic, Shuuhei gasped loudly and sharply and opened his eyes.
He wished he hadn't.
His knees gave away as he gave a terror-filled scream, somehow finding the strength to use his hands to push and drag himself across the dirt, away from the demon monster holding his brother by the neck to the ground.
“Y-Yuuhei!” he wailed, too afraid to do anything else. To be truthful, he had almost forgotten he had a brother.
He was just too afraid.
The guilt he felt came and punched him in the gut when Shuuhei had opened his eyes to see the demon holding his brother down by his neck like some animal. He knew enough to be able to tell that his brother was drowning in his own blood. “Yuuhei!” He was crawling forward now, scrabbling across the dirt towards his brother. “Yuuhei!”
The demon gave a barking laugh. “Yuuhei! Yuuhei! Yuuhei!” His voice was mocking and hurtful. “He can't hear you, kid. He can't hear anything you say.” A wicked grin splayed across his face. “But he can feel.”
As if to prove his point, the grip he had around Yuuhei's throat tightened significantly, and Yuuhei gave a surprised, choking cough. His green eyed turned wide and wild with fear. Blood sprayed from the twelve-year-old boy's mouth, and landed in red droplets all over the monster's hand.
“Stop it!” Shuuhei was frightened. But he had to save his brother, the one he had forgotten he had in the chaos, or his mother would never – could never – forgive him. “Let go of Yuuhei!” he shouted, trying to be brave. But his voice wavered and shook too much to sound anything but terrified.
“What's your name?”
Shuuhei froze and looked up in fear. He saw himself reflected in a pair of blood red eyes and felt himself start to feel lightheaded. His words came out before he could stop himself. “Shuu...hei.” He couldn't bring himself to tear his green eyes away from the monster's hypnotic red gaze.
The monster chuckled, and the reverberating sound snapped him out of it. Shuuhei started gasping for air, falling forward to the ground on his hands, and found himself staring into the green eyes of his twin brother. His gasps grew frantic and louder, and his body shook; he was hyperventilating.
“Shuuhei, ah? What, your momma wanted you to be a soldier?” The demon threw back his head and laughed. “Naa, did she also want you to grow up and make peace between the humans and us youkai?”
Shuuhei didn't know if he was breathing. But he screamed anyway. “L-Let go of my brother!” he cried loudly, his demand lost in his wailing cries.
The demon leaned in close, his leering face right in front of the kid's. “You woulda made a horrible soldier, kid.”
He couldn't do anything. Shuuhei clenched his jaw and squeezed his eyes shut, feeling the lump in his throat from suppressing his cries threaten to rip out and spill tears and blood. He sniffed loudly, and lunged forward, his weak hands clawing and trying to pry the monster's large, strong hand of his brother. “Get off my brother!”
The red-eyed demon tightened his grip around Yuuhei's throat and Shuuhei gave another wail. The wicked leer was no longer on the monster's face. The demon was terribly stoic, staring down at the sobbing child now clawing at the hand he held around his brother's throat. “This is what happens to stupid youkai who think they can live in peace with those disgusting, weak humans.”
The crying protest came too late. Without hesitating, the demon ripped out Yuuhei's larynx while the boy's heart was still beating, and let the blood seep out of the gaping wound to pool on the ground.
Shuuhei didn't scream again. He only stared aghast, mouth open and eyes wide with terror. His body shook with the heavy sobs that threatened to come out.
The demon sneered suddenly, his lips twisting into another wicked smile. “You know why I'm keeping you alive?” He bent down and pressed his mouth to the boy's ear. “'Cause you're fresh meat.”
The boy sat in front of his dead brother and stared and cried.
“I hear Genjyo Sanzo's got a soft spot for whimpering little kids like you.” The demon stood up, his body silhouetted by the hot, yellow sun. Black carrion birds screeched as they soared above in circles over his head. “You're gonna lead him right to me, kid. Ain't that just dandy?”
Gojyo blew out smoke from his mouth and stared blankly down at the blond monk from his place up in the peach tree. “You want me to do what?”
“I wouldn't want you to do anything,” Sanzo countered snappishly, eyeing the half-breed in disdain. “The Sanbutsunshin requested both you and Hakkai to this mission after seeing the success of our previous one.”
“And me?” Goku chirped, raising a hand as he swung upside down on a branch by his legs, dangling beside the kappa's head. “Sanzo, me too? Me?”
Sanzo sent a sharp glare in Goku's direction. “Shut it, or I'll shoot you full of holes,” he barked.
The threat was ignored. “But me too, right? I'm going with you guys too, right? Sanzoooo―”
A paper fan came violently down in his face, whacking him with enough force to make Goku lose balance and crash to the ground at Sanzo's feet.
Goku gave a pained groan and lifted his head up to face the priest. “Sanzo, what gives―?” Goku's face froze in fear at the cold metal of Sanzo's gun pressing against his forehead. “S-Sanzo, wait!”
“I said shut up or I'll shoot you full of holes!” Sanzo shouted angrily, pressing the gun harder against the teen's skull.
“Bwaah! I'm sorry! Don't shoot! Don't―”
The gun went off and Sanzo kicked the boy back to the ground, shoving Goku's face into the dirt with his foot on the back of Goku's head. “I said shut up!”
Gojyo gave an amused grunt. “If you'd just answered the monkey's goddamn question, he wouldn't have driven you up the wall.”
“Who're you callin' a monkey?!” Goku angrily shouted from below, waving a fist in Gojyo's direction. “You're the one up in a tree!”
Sanzo pressed the heel of his sandaled foot to the boy's head. “Keep quiet, monkey.”
Goku was aghast. “Sanzo!”
Gojyo blew out a cloud of smoke from his cigarette. “Che'. I was chased out here by Sanzo-sama's monk friends for smoking in the scripture room or some shit like that. And being up here helps me think, anyway.” He straightened up then, seeing a familiar figure heading toward them. “Hakkai's back. Looks like he's bringing tea.”
Goku tried to move his head to face Hakkai, but found that Sanzo's foot kept his head firmly where it was. “Let me go!”
Before Sanzo could respond, Hakkai joined them with a cheerful smile and wave, holding a small tray with a teapot and four small, white cups. “I'm sorry it took so long. I couldn't decide between jasmine and white.”
Gojyo grunted. “I would've just looked for beer instead.”
“This is a monastery, Gojyo,” Hakkai admonished lightly with a frown, placing the tray down at the bottom of the tree and ignoring the exasperated sigh that came from the kappa's lips. Suddenly, he reached behind his back and brandished a white porcelain bottle with a skinny neck. “Sake is much more appropriate. Wouldn't you agree, Sanzo?” he asked with a pleasant laugh.
Sanzo eyed the bottle with a small frown. “I was saving that.” he stated simply.
Hakkai only pointed to the blond monk's foot on Goku's head. “Sanzo, you're going to cause irreparable brain damage if you continue doing that. We wouldn't want Goku's brain receiving any more damage, now would we?”
“Any more damage?!” Goku screeched, shoving Sanzo's foot off and sitting up immediately. “Hakkai, you're mean!”
Hakkai only chuckled lightly while Sanzo grumbled and straightened out his robes before taking a seat at the foot of the tree, under where Gojyo was sitting up in the branches to smoke freely outside. Hakkai busied himself by pouring some sake for Sanzo first, then Gojyo, and then some for himself.
Goku watched curiously, turning his own small cup in his hands eagerly as he saw both Sanzo and Gojyo down their first shot effortlessly. He plopped down beside Sanzo on the ground and opened his mouth.
“You're not getting any,” Sanzo barked at Goku even before the younger man could even ask.
Goku's face fell. “Whaaat? Why noooot?! I'm turning twenty real soon, c'mon!”
Sanzo's paper fan re-appeared to slap Goku upside the head. “Nineteen is still underage.” Sanzo's hand swooped over to grab the teapot and set it down between them. “You're drinking tea.”
Grumbling, Goku reached for the teapot and poured himself a cup while Hakkai gave him an apologetic smile. From above, Gojyo reached down with a hand to ruffle the brunet's hair, earning an irritated scowl from the younger boy.
“Don't worry, monkey. I promise to take you out drinking the day you turn twenty,” he said.
“You're not going anywhere near him after he turns twenty,” Sanzo barked, slapping Gojyo's hand away with a glare. “I've got my hands full with him already as it is. I don't need a drunk or hungover monkey to take care of.”
“I was told you had something important to tell us,” Hakkai spoke up suddenly, changing the subject intentionally. “I imagine it has something to do with a village the monks say was wiped out single-handedly by a demon.”
Sanzo grunted. “Are you an eavesdropper now, Hakkai? Isn't looting and stealing sake enough for you?”
“I couldn't help but overhear them while I was brewing tea. They were speaking right outside the door.” Hakkai's smile toned down a bit. “But I assume that I'm correct, then?”
Sanzo grunted again, downing the cup of sake in his hands and reaching for the sake bottle for more.
Gojyo gave a barking laugh from his spot up in the tree. “We only get a year of peace before things start acting up again? Feh.” He lowered his cup to Sanzo for a refill. “I think we should petition for longer breaks between playing hero.” He brought the filled cup back to his mouth and knocked it back.
“So, what do we gotta do this time?” Goku asked, holding his cup of tea in his hands.
Their blond monk scoffed. “You heard Gojyo,” he muttered.
“Hm?” Goku gave Sanzo a questioning look. “Gojyo said something right?”
“Don't make me come down there and kick your ass, Goku,” Gojyo said from his place with a scowl, though it was clear from his relaxed posture and shut eyes that the redhead wasn't about to get down from the tree anytime soon.
Hakkai turned the cup of sake around in his hands patiently, a weary frown already etching onto his brow.
Sanzo ignored their banter in favor of answering Goku for once that day. “We're gonna play hero again.”
“Won't you wear those blue robes he sent you? I think you look lovely in blue.”
“If I wore those robes... do you think he'd think me even more pretty and fall in love?
“O-Of course, dear. I'll go and get somebody to fetch them for you―”
“No need for any of that, mother. I'd rather die.”
In just three days, all feelings of nostalgia settled in the back of their heads that they may have had about traveling to the west together again were killed off.
“Gojyo! Get your foot off my face!”
“Well, maybe if you'd stopped taking up so much space, I wouldn't 've felt the need to show you exactly where you belong!”
“I don't belong at th' bottom of th' jeep, stupid kappa!” Goku shouted angrily, speaking around the foot pressing against his cheek and teeth.
Gojyo shot a baleful look at the boy he currently had trapped underfoot in the backseat of the jeep. “Oh really?! My bad, but it just seemed so appropriate to have you shoved down there, you shitty little brat!”
“Gojyo,” Hakkai chided from the driver's seat, looking over his shoulder. “Didn't I say that we didn't want Goku suffering from irreparable brain damage?”
“Eyes on the road, Hakkai!” Sanzo shouted, taking hold of the wheel and making a sharp right to avoid being thrown off the road and into the deep trench on the side.
“My bad,” Hakkai apologized good-naturedly with a small laugh.
“Holy shit! Lookit that trench!” Goku exclaimed, climbing over Gojyo's lap to get a better look.
Gojyo pulled Goku back with a scowl. “Ch'. Don't be such a kid. You could fall right outta the car if you lean too far over, stupid.”
“Don't call me stupid! I just wanted to see how deep the trench was!”
The cocking of a gun caught their attention immediately. A look of shock was planted on Goku and Gojyo's faces when they looked up to see Sanzo pointing his shoureiju right at them.
Sanzo was pissed. “I'll make sure the two of you get a real good look at that trench if the both of you don't shut the fuck up!”
The canyon they were driving up was suddenly hushed. Nothing but the crunching and rolling of Hakuryu's wheels on the rough terrain sounded for miles. Even the birds seemed to have disappeared, their voices temporarily set to mute.
Satisfied, Sanzo put away his weapon in the folds of his robes and leaned back in his seat, the scowl on his face looking ever-permanent. A rare moment of silence settled amongst the four men, allowing each to focus their attention on something else.
Sanzo kept one eye on the road and the other on Hakkai, who was driving with an smiling face, to make sure that the idiot wouldn't do something stupid again that could get them all killed.
Gojyo smoked away, the fumes of his Hi-Lite cigarettes blowing around his head and mellowing out in their familiar, comforting smell.
Goku sat quietly, his legs stretched out as far as the space in the backseat allowed, and his head resting atop the luggage bags strapped to the back of the jeep. His eyes occasionally trailed after a passing cloud overhead, trying to make out what it looked like before they drove by it and it disappeared from his line of sight.
Then, his stomach growled.
In the front, Hakkai spared a glance first at Goku, then at Sanzo, who already had a vein throbbing on the side of his forehead.
Out of the corner of his eye, Gojyo looked at both the brunet teen and the blond monk, actually feeling Sanzo's level of irritation rise in the still air around them. He looked away and caught Hakkai's eyes looking at him in the side mirror and felt a smirk coming to his lips.
Gojyo thought Sanzo's hand twitched.
There was some more silence. Then,
The response was immediate.
“I thought I told you to SHUT UP!”
THWACK! THWACK! THWACK!
Gojyo wordlessly watched Sanzo mercilessly beat Goku with his paper fan. After a few good whacks, Sanzo's paper fan disappeared again and he seated himself in the passenger's side once more, looking a little stress-free.
Though he grumbled, Goku was smart enough not to aggravate the monk any further and did his best to keep silent.
For Gojyo, the memory of the event was more than enough to keep him entertained for now. The grin remained on his face throughout the long, long drive. It was the first of many fits of psychosis their princess would have.
Just like old times.
“Hey, what's going on? Everybody's talking about a carriage that was attacked. Was it Shimura-sama?”
“Who cares? As long as fancy-pants isn't here, I'm not getting married. As if I care what's going on.”
“...What if ― What if it's something serious? What if it's something like the village that was destroyed by that
“Puh-lease. That probably has as much truth to it as the stories going around about Fuyama's hairpiece. That thing was totally a wig. Nobody's hair can be stacked up that high without falling over in two, three hours tops. Besides, weren't we all saved from beserking youkai a year ago by some traveling monk and his servants? We've got nothing to worry about, Masahiro, so stop worrying.”
“I... I suppose so.”
“This can't be good.”
There was an upturned carriage in the middle of the road. Horses were toppled over each other, lying dead where they once stood, and it didn't seem like there were people around. Not even dead ones.
“There doesn't seem to be anybody here,” Hakkai spoke. “What do you supposed happened?” he asked, not really to anyone in particular.
Sanzo grunted. “Who knows?”
“So, who volunteers to take a look?” Gojyo asked bluntly, using their sudden stop as a chance to toss out the cigarette butts he had collected over the past few hours in the jeep. “Not me,” he added truthfully, digging through his pockets to search for a new pack. “Shit, I'm all out. Sanzo, wanna do me a favor?”
“Get your own,” Sanzo barked in response, getting out of the jeep and volunteering to take a look, mostly because it meant getting away from them for a while.
Gojyo scowled and stuffed his hands into the pockets of his navy jacket. “Selfish prick,” he muttered under his breath.
“Someone should go with Sanzo,” Hakkai said, sounding worried. “I don't think that whoever did this has completely left.”
“Or whatever did this,” Gojyo added. He nudged Goku with his elbow. “Oi, monkey. You go.”
Goku turned an incredulous look at the redhead. “What? Why me?! Can't you see that Sanzo's pissed?”
“That's why you're the perfect guy for the job,” Gojyo assured in a half-assed manner, shoving the boy out of the jeep. “Sanzo wouldn't kill you. He might shoot you, but he won't kill you.” He paused for a moment. “I think.”
Goku scowled darkly but did as he was told, heading after Sanzo after dusting off his black khaki pants.
“Hakuryu doesn't seem to like it here very much,” Hakkai noted aloud with a frown, feeling the white dragon's nervous energy resonating uneasily.
Gojyo scoffed. “No shit. This damn road's got me itchin' too. Something's weird.” He stretched his legs out on the seat, relishing in the extra leg space and folded his arms behind his head. “I told you not to take this road.”
“It was either this road or the river, Gojyo. I think we all know how you felt about swimming across the river.”
“Hakkai!” Goku's voice called out from ahead. He ran toward the jeep, looking a little panicked. “Hakkai!”
Hakkai raised his eyebrows in question. “Is there something wrong? Where's Sanzo?”
Goku pointed straight ahead. “There's someone back there, but he's hurt real bad! Sanzo's with him now.” He tugged on the sleeve of the older man's olive green trench jacket. “C'mon! You gotta save him!”he cried urgently.
They wasted no time regrouping with Sanzo, who was attempting to stop the flow of blood from the injured man's side with a shirt from a dead man he was found with. He stepped to the side to allow Hakkai to do his work, and straightened up, a knowing look in his eye as he met Hakkai's gaze.
The man, Hakkai realized first, wasn't going to be alive for too long. Goku had given him far too much credit if he believed he was able to help this man. There were too many gashes and wounds for him to have even survived the attack. He had lost too much blood already, judging by the color of the man's skin, and Hakkai could tell that he was struggling just to breathe.
Hakkai kneeled at the man's side all the same, and was surprised when the barely breathing man spoke first.
“Y-You... ” The man's voice was weak. Dried blood matted his gray beard to his chin, and his eyes were looking desperately up at Hakkai's face. “You have to stop them...!”
“Are they the ones who attacked you?” Hakkai asked. “Were you alone?”
The man couldn't do anything but raise his hand with a gurgling gasp. He pointed to the carriage and stared into it. “Shi-Shimura-sama...!”
Those were his last words. His hand dropped to his side and he no longer breathed. His eyes were dull, lifeless, staring into nothing with his dead eyes. Hakkai quietly reached over with a hand and shut the man's eyes for him.
“He was pointing to the carriage,” Goku said, one hand already on the carriage door.
“Oi, Goku―” Gojyo tried to warn the younger teen, but it was useless.
Goku was already pulling, trying to get it open. It wouldn't budge. “It's stuck!”
“Careful, Goku, you don't know―” Hakkai's words were cut off when Goku grabbed the side of the door with both hands and finally yanked it open, stumbling backward and landing on his rear end with a slight groan. His eyes widened just a fraction of an inch when he took a look inside. “Oh my.”
Gojyo breathed in sharply. “Well, that's certainly new.”
Sanzo eyed the inside of the carriage with narrowed eyes. From beside him, Goku peered into the open door. Golden eyes widened significantly in surprise, then narrowed in disgust.
“How many people do you think there are in there?” Goku asked slowly, looking at the carriage packed tightly with dead corpses, all bloodied and broken. Someone's intestines slipped out of the mess and slid to the ground. A hand followed with a plop, no longer attached to an arm.
“As if you can tell,” Gojyo muttered, rubbing the back of his head. He sighed deeply, running the hand through his hair. “So?” he quipped up. “Are we heading into town or what? The guy said to stop 'em before they reached town.” Then, he sighed again. “Is there even gonna be a town left?”
“There won't be if you all just stand there feeling sorry like idiots.” Never one to waste time, Sanzo was already heading back to the jeep.
There was no more arguing during the rest of the trip.