Gojyo has a recurring nightmare. Slight spoilers for Gojyo's past. Set pre-series, between the Burial arc and the beginning of the manga.
Disclaimer: Saiyuki and all its characters are owned by Minekura Kazuya, Ichijinsha, Tokyopop, and several other legal entities. Me, I own copies of the manga and anime. I just write with the characters for fun.
A/N: Pre-series. Actually set sometime between Gojyo & Hakkai's chapter of the Burial arc and the beginning of the manga. Mucho Gojyo angst. I am using the convention that there's only the one bed in the apartment, and that Gojyo and Hakkai share it. However, they are not lovers in this fic.
He stared up at his mother, her madness naked in her eyes as she raised the axe over her head. A whimper escaped him, fear tightening his stomach and making his bladder release. The sharp stench of his own urine floated to his nostrils, as he could feel the hot wetness in his pants as he hurriedly pressed himself as close to the wall as possible. "Mother...mother please...."
"Red hair, red eyes...always red. The color of blood/." His mother licked her lips, eyes glinting wildly in the half-light of the hallway. "/Her blood. It was so red, and hot.... Why does it always have to be /red/?"
Wincing as his mother's voice rose to end in a scream; the young red-head prayed that the floor would open up beneath him and swallow him. Anything to get away from his mother and the axe. He flinched as she said his name, sharp enough to cut.
He did feel the skin on his face part then, two slashes across his cheek as his mother struck him. Too frightened to scream, all he could do was make a few choked, gurgling sounds.
The axe was back up again, aiming for him. Somehow, he found his voice, high-pitched like a girl, "Mother, please no. I'll do anything. Mother /please/...!"
All he could do was close his eyes as his mother began the swing, finally accepting his fate.
"Gojyo, wake /up/!"
Gasping for air, red eyes popped open. Sweat drenched his body, and he sat up quickly, glancing around like a wounded animal making sure the hunter was nowhere in sight. Everywhere he looked, he saw only the familiar drab walls of his apartment. Not the house where he grew up; there was no mother here.
"Gojyo?" murmured a familiar voice to his left. Well, maybe a mother hen.
Relaxing as he heard Hakkai's soothing voice, he turned to face his roommate. "Thanks, man. Sorry I woke you up," he managed, his voice hoarse. He must have been screaming again.
"Think nothing of it, Gojyo. You have often done the same for me when I have a nightmare. Goodness, you are drenched with sweat. I'll get you a cold cloth." Before Gojyo could stop him, his roommate was out of the bed and padding across to their small bathroom. Flopping back onto the bed, arm thrown over his distinctive eyes, Gojyo listened to the sound of running water as he tried to calm his still-racing heart.
Same old nightmare. No matter how many years he put between then and now, it always came back just when he thought he was over it, kind of like a nasty bout of the flu. Old bitch, he thought resentfully, how come it was his fault he was his father's bastard? He never /asked /to be born.
Lost in his thoughts, he never heard or sensed Hakkai's return until his roommate placed the cool, damp cloth over his forehead. Startled, Gojyo let the arm covering his eyes fall, looking at the other man.
"Feel any better?"
"Is Sanzo ever in a good mood? Hell, no. It's been months since I had that nightmare. I thought it was finally gone. But no, even after she's dead my mother still wants to kill me," muttered Gojyo.
"Actually, Gojyo...I doubt your mother ever wanted you dead," Hakkai replied quietly, looking away.
Gojyo stared at him a moment, before pulling the cloth over his eyes. His best friend's words actually stung. "Could've fooled me."
"Your stepmother wanted you dead, Gojyo. Your presence reminded her of what she could not have, and so she took it out on you. Especially since the true culprit behind her misery wasn't there," Hakkai explained patiently. His voice was prim, full of distaste.
Gojyo merely grunted, wondering where he was going with this.
"Your mother wanted you. If she hadn't, you wouldn't be here right now."
"How d'you figure that?" asked Gojyo, moving the cloth and opening one eye to look at the other man. "I mean, look who raised me. Sorta."
Emerald eyes watched him patiently, "Your mother carried you in her womb for nine months, Gojyo. She knew, as a human woman, that she was carrying a hanyou, a taboo child; the child of a demon. And yet, she chose to have you. That tells me that she must have wanted you very much."
Gojyo was silent, digesting this. He was never a man for "what ifs," but now he wondered, briefly, what his life might have been like if he'd been raised by his real mother. Would he have been loved? Would he have gotten to know his father at all? Or would it have been all the same in the end anyway?
"Who knows?" he muttered, running his hands through his long mane of blood-red hair. He winced at the soaked, stringy feel. Sighing, knowing that there was nothing for it but to take a shower, he got up. "Who cares?"
"I'm sticky, I stink of sweat and...and I'm going to take a shower," he replied, trying not to sound as sulky as he felt. He also wanted to get rid of the sour tang of the memory of those horrifying few minutes before Jien had rescued him by killing his own mother; before running away and leaving him with her body. He felt like an unwanted, dirty thing; something best left for the trash heap.
Hakkai nodded. Green eyes flicked to the bed, "I'll change the sheets, so you'll have nice, crisp, clean ones to come back to."
Gojyo didn't have to look to know that where he'd lain in the bed was now saturated with his sweat. Grunting his thanks, he headed to the bathroom. Turning the water on as hot as he could stand, he stepped under the stinging spray, letting it wash away the memories along with the drying, sticky sweat.
No matter what Hakkai might think, all those pretty words about his real mother and his stepmother meant nothing. What might have been wasn't what did happen. The plain truth was his father fucked around on his wife, he was the result; and it drove his stepmother insane and his father away. God only knows what happened to his birth mother. All of it was his fault. If he hadn't been born, everything would still be fine.
Leaning his head against the tile of the shower, Gojyo wondered, briefly, if it wouldn't have been better if Jien hadn't made it in time; if his stepmother had killed him that day.
Back then, he would have done anything if it would have stopped his mother - stepmother - from crying. That's why he never really minded the beatings, because for a short while after them, she did. So if it was his death that would have healed her, he would have let her kill him, no matter how scared he was. But Jien stepped in and "saved" him instead.
Sometimes, Gojyo didn't know whether he should love his brother for saving his life, or hate him for stopping him from giving his stepmother the only gift he could that would have made her happy with him.