Most of the time it's easier for Goku not to remember anything at all. He gets older, but slowly, and time drifts by like he's the one in slow motion and everyone around him is drag racing. It's easier to forget that there were ever companions and purpose and a mission. But sometimes forgetting is impossible and this is one of those days.
Today it's raining in Yokohama, raining hard enough to make anyone believe that the rainy season will last forever. That rain will blanket every day until the sun is lost in someone's memory the way Shangri-la is lost in Goku's. The rain by itself is almost enough to dig up things that are pointless to think about but Goku is tougher than some stupid weather and he has a particularly good meal in his belly so he doesn't mind the wet and filth of a Yokohama back alley.
But the fact that it's raining makes him turn around and stare back when he realizes that a dirty cheeked child with a familiar face is staring at him. There's nothing weird about the staring, this is Japan after all, and gajiin are apparently for staring at if they show up in country. Goku's used to it, anyway. For a thousand and some year old earth spirit from Shangri-La it's kind of pointless to be bothered by a staring, open mouthed child.
The thing is, though, it's still pretty weird because that's Hakkai's face staring at Goku under the layers of childish softness and brown eyes. Cho Hakkai's younger, angrier clone, at least. Goku figures the resemblance for some creepy accident. There are how many billion people in the world, so there's bound to be more of them then there are faces. Anyway it has to be an accident because Goku hasn't seen Hakkai in a good five hundred years and he never wanted to think of him wearing this child's expression. Staring like that. Making Goku think about things that are so much better just being forgotten.
Goku glares back but the kid doesn't take the hint, just keeps staring. He really is dirty enough to be homeless, but he's wearing nice, well fitting clothes under the layer of filth. He's bound to belong to someone. Someone is probably looking for the kid. Who probably ran away to go play in the mud or something stupid like that.
"Hey, you, hasn't your mother taught you it's rude to stare at strangers?" Goku says even though it seems pointless. He can picture an imaginary Sanzo perched on his shoulder telling him not to waste his time on this kind of idiocy and keep walking. But Goku doesn't like to think about Sanzo at all and he's kind of pissed that this kid had the nerve to remind him.
"No. She never told me anything like that." The kid gives a half shrug and keeps staring. Goku might have really kept walking except for that shrug. Affable and a little helpless and almost pure Hakkai. And then there are those eyes. Brown and mildly curious... but. Not. It takes Goku a moment to realize that this boy is just staring ahead blankly and there's nothing alive in those eyes but a shiny brown reflection of Goku's face. The curiosity is all Goku's own reflected back at him. It bugs the shit out of him but he can't figure out why. It's not like the boy is a demon or anything, he smells like plain, dirty, human boy left out in the rain and mud a little too long.
"Well, maybe she should have. How about we go find her and I'll suggest she fix that for you?" Goku says. "She's probably worried sick about you." The Sanzo voice in his head is thoroughly stifled or at least allows itself to be convinced the way the real Sanzo would have been. Maybe it's a bad idea taking a child home in a country where most people seem to think he's an object of mild contempt at best but there's no one else around to do the taking home.
Besides, no kid should look like this one does. It's not even that he looks hopeless, it's more like it never occurred to the boy that hope might actually exist.
The boy tilts his head in a mild sort of consideration. He doesn't look bothered by the offer at all and Goku suspects no one told him he shouldn't talk to strangers either. "I doubt it," he finally says. "She doesn't think I'm very interesting."
Goku opens his mouth to say something bland like he's sure that isn't true, but of course he knows better. He's been on his own in the world for five hundred years, long enough to know how messed up things can get. Long enough to know what children shouldn't look like.
"Are you on your own?" How old can this kid be? Ten? Twelve maybe, but not more. He can't have been on his own for long, he looks dirty and wet, but not hungry or bedraggled otherwise.
"No, I live somewhere. I'm just walking. I wanted to find someone to talk to." The kid gestures to Goku as if to say, 'and here someone is, aren't I clever?'
"So there's no one to talk to at home, huh?" Goku asks, stepping up closer to the boy. Definitely not Hakkai. No way.
He gets another mild shrug for a reply and more information he didn't want to hear. "They don't talk to me. That's okay. What are you doing here anyway?"
"What am I- walking. Jeez, it's a public street. What are you doing here?" Goku splutters, sounding like he's not much more than an easily needled kid himself, if only for a moment. He blames it on a too familiar face screwing with his concentration.
"Talking." The kid actually smiles at him, as if he's done something cute and funny, as if he's the one a thousand years old and Goku is the child. "Hey, Mister, have you got a cigarette?"
Goku turns pink and splutters again. "You're too young for that! Jeez." He shakes his head and the kid looks like he might actually laugh for a moment, something almost warm and alive in those brown eyes. But Goku's mouth still works faster than his brain sometimes. "I can't believe your parents let you smoke!"
Just like that the potential for light in the boy's eyes turns off. It's nothing gradual, more like someone had slammed on a switch or shut a door and all Goku could see in those eyes was himself again.
"Well... it's too much of a pain for them to think about, I suppose." The kid says, blandly, like he was way older than he looked. He hops off of his perch, water drops shaking out of his clothes as he moves. He was so soaked through he probably squelched, but he acts like it doesn't bother him.
"Wait!" Goku calls, though he doesn't know why. He doesn't like it at all, this boy with his friend and teacher's face. It's just wrong, it should be fixed.
The boy turns and looks at him, flashes a narrow, empty smile. "Don't worry about it, Mister. It's okay." Then he's gone around a corner, too fast and too small for Goku to follow.
The impression of those eyes doesn't go away and it's a few minutes before Goku realizes he doesn't even know the boy's name. Now he probably never will.
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