Now here is a Saiyuki fic featuring Sanzo's tragedy. It's written in second-person-perspective and composed of three drabbles. The events narrated on these drabbles are canon-based (except Sanzo developing an eating disorder; that one's on me)
Your eyes blur when you choked back the blood.
This was the first time you found yourself bleeding. You’ve been doing this for many years now and your gag reflexes improve so far whenever you stab down two of your fingers inside your mouth. Perhaps it was too much pressure. Perhaps you were too eager. In any case, you were choking blood. It tasted like bitter metal. You didn’t like it. You turned away from the toilet bowl for a while and run down water through your throat. When you felt the familiar response, you turned back to the bowl and vomited tiny bits of your last meal.
You were twelve when it started...when Koumyou-sama died. Years after and now you’re twenty-three, you kept the bad habit, next to your smoking problem. But it wasn’t altogether problematic that you inhaled nicotine and exhaled carbon monoxide. It soothes you to smoke. And this particular habit of yours every time you go to the bathroom offers the same luxury of comfort. It was only now that you knew the condition you had is an eating disorder.
You didn’t give a rat’s ass.
Genjyo Sanzo, the exalted high priest who carries the Maten scripture, has many things to worry about and bulimia is the least of them. First you are angry at the world. Second is the other monks were bothering you about the usual priestly stuff. And you’ve only been back from exile. You’re pissed and you’re bleeding through the mouth. You cuss inwardly and flushed down the toilet. Then you washed your hands and face. You tried to avoid looking at the mirror and then you bang the door against the wall as you entered back to your room.
You glanced outside to see the elder monks gathering under the tree to talk bullshit among themselves. Any minute now and someone will call you out there so you could impart to them a meaningful sermon.
“Ah, fuck me.” You mutter. You didn’t quite mean it. Your throat still hurts and your tongue feels heavy and dry. You sat down on the bed and tried to concentrate on entering into a quiet zone. You would meditate anytime it’s allowable. You needed this now. You needed to be away
"Not now." Not ever.
"We thought we could use some of your—”
“I say it only once so don’t make me say it again.” An extra death glare would make this more convincing but you failed to do so since your head drooped down to your palms, holding it in place. Your eyes were closed.
When you were sure you were alone again, you started to cough. You tasted the blood. What a fuzz. You already knew you’re too weak to protect the only man you cared about who died before you. Now this is rich, you’re bleeding. What’s the goddamn deal anyway? Aren’t you inferior enough?
“Believe in thyself.” You were surprised that you were saying that aloud. Did you really mean it? You must. It’s what’s keeping you together these days, the belief that you’re better off without the rest of the world, that you are strong.
But you’re not.
You first thought of purging again but the contents of your stomach have been emptied earlier. So you chose the second option and grabbed a cancer stick.
You reached down from under your mattress. You could make out the outline of the rectangular box of his Marlboro. Then something else.
“What now?” You eyed the folded piece of paper grudgingly.
You first lit your cigarette and breathed in the poison. You took three hits before you decided to look at the paper again.
WHO ARE YOU? It simply said.
You replied aloud, “I’m not fucking happy, that’s what.”
Then you looked at the words closer as if there could be something else but those three words just stared back at you without enthusiasm.
“I’m Sanzo,” you crumpled the paper and threw it across the other side of the room.
Wait, you weren’t Sanzo. It was only a title passed down. Before all of these, you’re only an orphan kid whom Koumyou-sama took in. Before that, you knew nothing about yourself. You didn’t want to know.
“Who am I...?”
You finished three sticks after an hour. You walked back to the window and saw the elder monks going back to their rooms. It’s almost dark outside. You looked at the crumpled paper on the floor and picked it up. You left it on your table. You went to the pantry to get something to eat for your early dinner.
Later that night, you were in the toilet again, staring at your vomit, staring at the evidence of your shameless nothingness. Your tears stain your cheeks. Your fingers wet with saliva. It’s been years and you’re still angry. You’re still so weak.
Two girls approached you. They asked you what you’re doing here under the rain and where your mommy was. Then they said you’re so cute and they started fondling your hair and touching your face. You stepped back and timidly bowed down your head.
“Kouryuu, come inside now.”
You look behind you to see the kind, smiling face of your master Koumyou-sama. You run back to him, soaking wet on the feet. Koumyou-sama, to your surprise, knelt down and took one foot to dry it with his white garments.
“No,” You protested. “Those robes are sacred.”
The old man smiled. “Ah, not to worry. You can’t have wet feet inside.”
He raised the other foot up and wiped it. You blush.
“There, all better?”
You peered at your teacher’s face and nodded.
“Now, go pray inside and not out here. The rain is unforgiving tonight.”
You took the old man’s hand as the two of you walked back inside.
“The only best pilgrim in the world, my boy, is where you see the light and follow it.” Koumyou-sama was saying, the tiny slits of his eyes disappearing as his smile widens. You listened.
“You’re my pilgrim,” you reluctantly said. Your master only laughed in amusement.
“Oh dear, what will you do once my light is gone?”
You didn’t answer or you already knew the answer but dreaded how to say it. The only light you know is Koumyou-sama. Without him, the unbearable thought of losing him, brings darkness to your world.
You woke up with a jolt.
You looked at the moon hanging on the sky outside and wiped the sweat dripping from your forehead. Then you lay back down and closed your eyes.
Darkness, the smoldering depths of it.
You jerked up again.
Cancer stick or purge. You chose the former.
As you’re getting his box of Marlboro, your saw the crumpled paper resting nonchalantly on your table.
WHO ARE YOU? The words provoked as you opened it again.
You knew the answer.
Without him...you’re nothing.
"But what about the ceremony, Sanzo-sama?”
You glare harder than you ever did your whole life. Do they really expect you to keep up the monk act after they witnessed how intolerable those people were? The damn lot of them, not just the monks but the villagers as well, they make you hit the walls. You’ve been bouncing your ass around, taking in all the stuff they ask you to do. They want you to hold gatherings for spiritual purposes. They want you to lecture the wicked and dine with the poor. Your master did all those things. He was a kind man. The current Sanzo is an asshole and you’re not going to apologize for it.
“Sanzo-sama, where are you going now?”
“In the toilet, care to wipe my ass for me after I go?”
You didn’t have to wait for any answer. You’re hurrying back to your room. You didn’t use the bathroom. Purging wouldn’t make any difference now...neither is a cigarette but what the hell, you lit one anyway.
Just when the elder monks thought you’re locked inside your room again, you stumbled on them, talking about you. You hid in view and listened. "What an atrocious fellow Sanzo-sama is. Hmph! I can’t believe the late Koumyou-sama allowed such an immature boy to carry on the holy title.”
“He is a complete disgrace. I can’t believe that we have to put up with him.”
“Well, he’s a good leader when he puts his mind to it. But yeah, he’s a real pain. He can’t seem to function without that unnecessary arrogant attitude of his.”
“Still can’t believe he’s our Sanzo-sama now.”
My, aren’t we hypocrites? You smirked to yourself as you went back again to your room. You couldn’t let that bother you and it was easy for you to think so. Those old farts don’t have a clue to why you chose to be crowned as their new leader anyway. You don’t have to justify yourself. The role of the high priest Sanzo is a position that your master wanted you to have and it’s the least you could do. Being able to pursue something your master loved so dearly is an honor for you. And there are no real requirements to be a Sanzo anyway. Your master always told you to be yourself. If they have a problem with you, they could just say it, otherwise you’ll continue being an asshole.
You finished your third pack of cigarette for this month. You stared down at it and contemplated about what the last few years after Koumyou-sama’s death had given you. Besides the growing nicotine addiction and your bulimia, you couldn’t think of other things. Being a Sanzo is boring sometimes but you could still get by when you want to. Today is like yesterday and the days after that. You’re alternating between frequent purges and smoking.
“I need my newspaper ready.” You called out to one of the young trainees. How many times do you have to remind them?
You removed your veil and threw it to the bed. Your undressed yourself and decided that you can take a bath. And shit, breakfast...you can’t possibly purge later without anything in your stomach. You can eat lunch and dinner too and maybe purge the next day. You have to watch your habits and make sure they don’t consume your time. You can control your bulimia…as long as you’re not pissed at something and smoking isn’t that cozy for your needs anymore. But you can delay purge the next day. You can do that. You’re absolutely sure you can.
Genjyo Sanzo is a type of man who is one with his pain. You don’t deny your weaknesses. You already collapsed inside and now you have to endure and show it on the outside. You’re okay with lung cancer in your later years. Death is fine just as long as you don’t get killed by anybody. Bulimia is okay too. You don’t like stuffing yourself with food anyway. But you needed to because you wanted to purge. Sick as it sounds, you like the feeling. Maybe you need to be examined. But no, not the mighty Sanzo. Didn’t you just mention you can admit your weaknesses?
That’s walking paradox for you.
You turn around and closed the shower. You shouted back. “What?”
“Your breakfast is ready.”
“You can go now.”
As soon as you dried yourself and got dressed, you sat on your table and grabbed your glasses from the corner. You took small bites from your food as you read on the editorial portion of the newspaper. You glanced around some time and saw that the piece of paper from last night was still on your bed. You glared at it. Somebody is coming to your room and playing jokes on you. You’ll find the bitch and shoot him between the eyes.
You’re reminded about your Smith & Wesson just inside the drawer. You better clean that later. First you have to deal with the invader and his jokes in poor taste.
You finished half of your meal and walked to the bed to take the piece of paper in your hand. WHO ARE YOU? is still there and still mocking you. Why the hell is this thing bothering you? It’s not just the person who gave this but the question itself is...odd...provoking. You didn’t like being provoked but this is different. You’re curious.
WHO ARE YOU?
“Nut job...” You walk back to your table to get your gun. You crumpled the paper once again and threw it in the air. With an accurate speed, you shot a bullet through it. You watched it take a hit as it falls down, lump on the floor. You picked it up and removed the bullet, taking your time so you wouldn’t tear the paper. Then you look inside.
It was the only readable thing left written. You scoff and finally threw the paper out of the window. This is ridiculous. You’re pissed. You might not delay the purge. And shit, you’re out of cigarettes. Shit...
“Anyone care to buy me Marlboro?” You ask the trainees again who were cleaning. One of them immediately bowed and went away. You shut the door.
“I’m Genjyo Sanzo. I’m a monk. I have the Maten scripture. I’m an orphan. I’m twenty-three years old. I’m temperamental. I like guns. I like to smoke and gamble. I don’t like sex. I don’t like people. I’m not fucking pleased with stupid shit. Is that all? Is that what you want to hear?”
You were screaming at the window where you threw the paper away. You felt foolish so you got silent again and waited for your smokes.
WHO ARE YOU? WHO ARE YOU? WHO ARE YOU? WHO ARE YOU? WHO ARE YOU? WHO ARE YOU? WHO ARE YOU? WHO ARE YOU? WHO ARE YOU? WHO ARE YOU?
You want to know what that question meant. You want to know. You just have to. Maybe you’re pissed. Maybe you’re bored. But you’re definitely going to find the person responsible for that paper and that question.
Definitely going to find him.
When your master died, you started to run away. You kept running until you are finally convinced that if there’s a reason for that or if anybody is following you, it was simply pointless. You care not much for reasons but you did care about getting away from the pain. You went to places because of this determination, places that brought you nightmares in the abyss. You didn’t know anything. You doubt you will ever know anything. You’re beyond fear and panic. You’re absolutely shrouded not by blind belief you could survive but by the plain instinct to hide and just run.
They always keep finding you. You’re only thirteen, you suppose, but you felt your years have mattered little by now. They attack you. They savage you. They take anything they want from you and you fight back. You put one hell of a fight but they leave you almost unable. You haven’t been eating or sleeping. You’ve been running for many weeks and even for months, you just run.
You slumped forward to a trunk of a tree you didn’t see. You fell down and wished you stayed down, wished you were slain as well by those who killed your master. But you’re not dead. You felt hands clutching your shoulders, bringing you up. They were not warm hands. They were stiff, coarse hands. They were all over you.
You yell. Then something hard landed on your jaw. The blow hurt bad and made you vomit blood.
“You should have given us the money, brat.”
You stayed down. Didn’t you learn martial arts? Yes, but you could barely lift a finger. You’re hungry and tired and your small body can’t handle any more beating. But you had your hand under your robes. The gun. The monks gave you one before they drove you into this meaningless travel to search for the Three Aspects. You practiced with it every night but never yet killed anyone. This time you’re sure you must use it.
They hit you again with their sticks and fists. Then one of the men pulled you up by the hair, stared at you and said, “Ooh, what a pretty face you have there, boy...so is this silky blond hair you have. You look like a girl up close.”
The others joined. “Not again. You’re the worst.”
“Pervert,” they laughed.
“Shut up.” The man glared and grinned at them. “Just hold him down.”
“Fine, fine, just make it quick.”
You weren’t shaken. You weren’t scared. Two of the men took hold of your arms, binding them behind you. You didn’t utter, not even a cry for mercy. The man, who was now licking his lips while gazing at you malevolently, pulled you by the legs and said, “Now, now, I’m old-fashioned so I’ll just do it like this, okay, kid?
While he was getting ready, you managed to gather your last ounce of strength to pry your arms away and grab the gun swiftly from underneath your robes. You weren’t shaken. You weren’t scared. You didn’t utter a cry for help. But you weren’t surrendering. You’re angry.
You pulled the trigger and the bullet smashed into the man’s left eye. The blood gushed out and poured down your robes, flaming red. The other men stepped away from your. “The fucker’s got a gun!”
Your hand trembled against the cold steel of your Smith&Wesson, your eyes widening. You hesitated, thinking about your complete failure to protect your master from death. But only for a moment. You turn around and scream as you fired shots at the other two men and they hit the ground.
You kicked the hands belonging to the dead man on your hunches, clutching you by the legs. Hands. You lowered your gun and sobbed violently. The blood even stained your thighs. Your robes were soaking wet with it. Your body shook unpleasantly, completely out of control. You might have even peed on yourself.
Before the night gets any darker, you started to run.
Somehow you found yourself in countless situations like this one. You fire the gun and bodies start to hit the ground. And the blood. You couldn’t stop. They will kill you. They will get you if you don’t shoot them. There’s no real choice to it but the nightmares that come after—all that blood...
If you’re terrified now, you just remember how you already withered away when Koumyou-sama died. Your place was there. Not here. And then these nightmares...but then again...
Lately you wonder if all of this is a nightmare. After awhile you gets the strength to raise the gun to your own head, dreading yet wishing for death to be the sweet release.
You’re going to leave one bullet with your name on it.
For now, you have to keep running.