?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

A Real Adventurer (fic; Saiyuki)

Title: A Real Adventurer
Author: opalmatrix
Rating: PG
Warnings: swearing, references to child abuse
Pairing(s): n/a
Disclaimer: Saiyuki characters and situations belong to Kazuya Minekura
Spoilers: a bit about Gojyo's history
Beta: sanada
Notes: Presumably everyone's wondered at some point about the bizarre outfit that Gojyo wears in much of Saiyuki. Conversations with sanada, smillaraaq, and redbrunja eventually pointed to a possible reason for it.
Summary: Jien knows how important it is for little boys to have big dreams, and big heroes to inspire them.


“Jien-kun, you can leave now,” said the shop owner to his young clerk.

Jien, who'd been stacking canned goods as fast as he could, looked up at his boss, surprised. “It's 3 o'clock already?” He'd been working extra-hard to show Takeda-san how grateful he was to be able to leave early, and had completely lost track of the time.

“It is, and a few minutes past. Better hurry so you won't be late - oh, and here -” Jien automatically held out his hand, and received a small, battered paper sack. “Those wouldn't fit in the jars. Give 'em to your little brother.”

The sack was half full of assorted sweets. Gojyo would love them. “Takeda-san, thank you!” said Jien, his heart in his voice. He bowed to the wizened little human man and hurried out the back way, pausing only to leave his apron on the hook near the door.

The kids would be coming out of school by now. Mom thought that Gojyo was at the free school paid for by the local land-owner, but most of the kids there were both rough and youkai, and Gojyo had been beaten up four times in his first week there. So Jien had negotiated an orphan's fee with the classier school run by a missionary group. It took enough of his meager part-time shop clerk's pay to make Mom complain that he must be lazy at work because they paid him so little, but it was worth it to know that his little brother was spending his days in a safe place. The class was about half human, too, and although Gojyo was a novelty and sometimes teased, he'd only been in a few fights since then.

Mom would have had fifteen fits if she'd known that Jien was paying for his brother's schooling.

He was about halfway to the school when he ran into the leading edge of the wave of kids that was erupting from the place, and there was Gojyo. Tall for 8 years old, but desperately thin, he would have stood out even without his flaming scarlet hair. He was engaged in a cheerful shoving match with a boy several inches shorter but quite a bit sturdier. Still, he was holding his own: Gojyo was far stronger than he looked. The afternoon sun mercilessly picked out the bruises of his latest beating at Mom's hands. The teachers at the school were noticing the bruises, too: Jien knew that all too well.

Isn't it funny? When he was at that junkyard school, with the mean teachers, I never had to worry about questions, because no one cared. How could I know that the kinder people were a bigger threat to us?

Because if people found out how Mom treated Gojyo, they'd probably put him in a Home. And Jien wouldn't be able to go with him: he was too old. He shook his head. If that happened, they'd have to run away. But this wasn't a time to think about that.

“Gojyo!” he called. His little brother's head came up instantly; he stepped away from the other boy so quickly that the sturdier lad overbalanced and nearly fell.

“Jien!”

Gojyo grabbed his school satchel and ran, a crimson-haired whirlwind. He was beaming at the sight of his older brother. “Why're you here? Doesn't Takeda-san still need you?” Usually Gojyo stayed in the stock room or on the back stoop of the store for the last 2 hours of Jien's shift, reluctantly doing his homework. Jien was grateful that Takeda-san made it possible for Gojyo to avoid 2 hours alone with his mother.

“He let me take the afternoon off, because I have a special treat for you,” replied Jien.

“What ...? Oh!“ Gojyo grabbed his arm with both hands. “The picture show? Sadako said it was in town! We're going?!”

“That's right - and it's your favorite one, too!”

“Jijo!” Gojyo was shrieking at this point. “We're gonna see Jijo-san at the pictures!” And Jien had to grin, completely warmed by his brother's joy.

With what seemed like nearly half the juvenile population of the town in tow, they charged down to the courthouse, which had been turned into a cinema for the afternoon. The crew of the moving picture show had already set up the battered screen and rickety projector, and the windows were covered. The Sha brothers' longer legs allowed them to outdistance most of the others and snag two good seats only a row from the front. Jien produced Takeda-san's gift from his pocket, and Gojyo's joy was complete. He quickly sorted through the sweets, pulling out a couple of his favorites, and then generously offered the rest to his brother and his school friends, causing a near-riot among the kids nearest to him. Jien admired how dexterous Gojyo was at directing the sweets where he wanted them to go - especially to the girls. Jien suppressed a knowing grin. He's starting early - not that I'm surprised.

Suddenly the lights went down, and the young audience's din quieted to a dull murmur. There was some nonsense with synching up the sound, and for a moment, only a flickering rectangle of light appeared on the screen. It was quickly replaced by the title: Jijo of the Jungle: Deadly Medicine. “Ooooh!” breathed the kids in one voice, almost drowning out the cheesy orchestral music that swelled up, and then they settled in to watch.

Jien watched too, although he was sure he was a much tougher spectator. This guy, Jijo, wasn't Jien's idea of a hero. He was a human, for starters (youkai never seemed to show up in the movies except as villains), and even for a human, he wasn't exactly buff. He was a tallish slender guy with a mop of dark hair and eyes of some indeterminately light shade - you couldn't tell, on the black-and-white film, exactly what color they were. He was very polite with everyone, even most of the crooks, he actually wore glasses when you saw him read something, and he wore really goofy clothes. But he was fast with his pistol and machete, his sidekick was a really well-trained chimp who was always good for some laughs, and he seemed to have a lot of force of personality. There was always at least one scene where Jijo fixed some evil-doer with his masterful gaze and questioned the rat so fiercely that he broke and spilled everything. Jien had his doubts that things in Africa were really like the pictures showed, but he didn't really know for certain: his own school days had ended when Gojyo first turned up on Mom's doorstep. Still, Jien learned things sometimes even nowadays, especially when he tried to find out the answers to the endless questions that Gojyo had after watching another Jungle Jijo flick.

Gojyo just loved Jijo - always had, ever since the first film had showed up two years ago. This time, the plot was something about a jungle clinic run by a very spunky young Western nun and a shipment of medicine she was expecting, only some scumbags were using the medical shipment as a cover for their own shipment of illegal drugs. As usual, the kid was on the edge of his seat, his eyes on the screen, hooting whenever a bad guy got it, laughing at the ape, and clutching the paper sack of candy anxiously when it looked like the crooks were going to turn the tables on his hero. Jien was a little bored: he could usually while away the time by imagining making out with the leading lady, but this time she was a nun, for Heaven's sake. Jien had nothing against human women in his fantasies, and a Westerner would normally be a spicy novelty, but he had to draw the line at a nun, even from some strange outlandish religion. Who knows what kind of crap you could get into with the gods for daydreaming about feeling up a nun? And it was weird, too.

Maybe even as weird as ... no!

Jien shifted in his seat and forced his attention back to the screen. The show wound to its predictable climax. The nun got her medicine for the kids in the jungle village. A couple of the bad guys got killed, and the rest were humiliated and tied up for the local cops, who were incompetent jerks compared to wonderful Jungle Jijo. And Jijo and the chimp commandeered a Jeep from somewhere and rode off to their next adventure. The credits rolled, the kids applauded. Jien yawned and stretched. Gojyo turned to him with shining eyes.

“That was the best” he stated, with an air of damn-near religious certainty.

“Hell if it was!” cut in another voice, from behind them. The speaker looked a couple of years older than Gojyo. He was human, but big and broad for his age. “You're such a pissant, Gojyo! That Jijo is just a weird, skinny jerk. And he wears glasses. Badlands Bart is much better! He has two pistols and a rifle! And he'd never wear baggy-ass pants like that!”

Gojyo spun around in his seat and kneeled up, so he could look his tormentor in the eye. “You don't know crap, Toshiro! Those are special adventuring pants!”

After a moment, Toshiro started to snicker. Gojyo's fierce gaze didn't waver, but he was starting to flush. Jien stood up, loomed over the two boys, and fixed Toshiro with a firm but benevolent gaze. “You know, Gojyo's right,” he said mildly. “I asked Hideki-san, the guard officer, about those trousers just the other day. He said that when he was in India, he saw the Indian cavalry troops wearing 'em. They're the toughest horse soldiers in the world, those guys. A guy who'd been a trooper, like Badlands Bart, would know that, for sure.”

Toshiro's eyes had snapped upward at Jien's first words, and then shifted back to Gojyo, accusingly. You could almost see the words It's not fair! written in the air over his head. “Yeah, I bet,” he sneered, half-heartedly, and stomped out. Gojyo's eyes followed him. Jien thought he looked worried.

“Trouble?” he asked. Gojyo shook his head.

“No - not Toshiro. I mean, he's a butthead, and he punched me a couple times, but his mom ran off, and his dad drank himself to death. And he lives with his uncle, and his uncle hits him.” To Jien's surprise, his little brother sounded angry. He hesitated a moment before answering:

“I just thought - if you needed to - that you could remind him that you have a big brother.”

Gojyo looked at him, his small, bony face stubborn. “Nu-uh. Not when he doesn't have have anyone but a mean uncle. That's not fair. Jijo-san wouldn't do that. I'm not gonna, either.”

He slipped off the chair and started to walk out of the courthouse. Jien caught up with him, grabbed his shoulder gently, and made him look up.

“Hey. You're right. And I wouldn't do it either, to a sad sack like him. but you're my brother. I just wanted you to remember that you could, if you ever need to.”

And you get smacked up at home too, and I bet Toshiro never bothers to think about it before he punches you ...

But Gojyo was Gojyo. He'd fearlessly take on a challenge from anyone his size or bigger, but he buried dead birds and rescued bugs that were drowning, and if there was a stray dog around, chances are Gojyo would give it half of his own scanty dinner. Heaven knows where he got it from. Now he dropped his tough-guy look and glanced around to make sure no one was there before wrapping one arm around Jien's waist in a half-hug.

"I know that, you big dummy” he said, his small voice gruff, and released Jien quickly, before anyone could see.

They both went out into the late afternoon sunshine and hit the road for home. Spring was well along the way to summer, but evening could still get chilly in the mountains. Jien glanced at his brother, who had no jacket over his school shirt and shorts, but Gojyo seemed oblivious to the cool breeze.

“Could a Jeep really go through the jungle like that?” he asked seriously.

“Maybe ... there must be some kind of a road, though. Those viney plants get all tangled together - nothing could get through, not even Jijo's Jeep.”

“That bad medicine the crooks put in the lady doctor's boxes ... was that, like, poison?”

“Well ... it's like that stuff old Mahita smokes in his pipe - you know, opium. It makes you feel good, but it makes you want to have more and more, and pretty soon you'll pay any kind of money for it, and you don't care about playing or eating or ... anything. It's nothing you should ever get mixed up with, Squirt.”

Gojyo thought about that for all of two minutes, frowning. Mahita was hardly a shell of a person these days, skinny as a twig and usually dirty, begging in a corner of the marketplace for cash to feed his habit. Little kids were scared of him, and bigger ones mocked him behind his back. At last Gojyo said, “It's a good thing that Jijo-san stopped them, then.”

“Of course it is. He's a hero, right?” said Jien, and Gojyo grinned, his high spirits returning.

“Yeah! A real adventurer!“ he crowed, and ran off down the road, too pleased to walk normally.

There was a fence along this part of the road. Gojyo leapt to the top rail, his backpack thumping him solidly a fraction of a second after he landed - but he hardly wobbled, Jien noted approvingly. He doubted that his brother would ever match him in size or strength, but he was hellishly agile and very fast. Now he started trotting along the rail almost faster than Jien could walk. Jien smiled, pleased, and stretched his legs to keep pace with him. For a while, everything was contentment and peace: there was nothing but the road, the two brothers, the easy movements of their own sturdy bodies, and their memories of the afternoon.

But at last, around the curve, just past the crossroads, there loomed a weatherbeaten house with a weed-grown garden. Although lights were visible in the dirty windows, glowing in the gathering dusk, neither boy felt any sense of welcome. Jien stopped for a minute, and drew a deep breath, emptying his mind and trying to settle his stomach. Gojyo swayed for a moment on the fence rail, overbalanced, and saved himself by leaping off to land in front of his brother. The orange sunlight struck him full in the face, highlighting the ugly greenish-yellow bruises along his right cheekbone and jaw. Jien reached out gently and ruffled his crimson hair.

“Remember, kid - not a word to Mom about what we did after school today.”

Gojyo nodded silently, his face now so solemn and still that Jien felt like crying. The younger boy turned to walk the last hundred feet, head bowed, but then glanced back over his shoulder. There was a little spark of something stubborn and unbeaten in his eyes.

“Jien, do you think I could ever be a real adventurer - like Jijo? After I grow up?”

Jien wanted to kneel down in the dust beside him and give him the biggest hug he could, but he knew all too well that eyes might be watching from the front window. Trying to look as careless and unaffected as possible, he spoke quietly:

“Squirt, I think you could do just about anything you wanted, once you grow up.”

But first I have to make sure you live that long.

Slowly, the Sha brothers walked to the door. The afternoon was over, and Mom was waiting for them.

Comments

( 46 comments — Leave a comment )
fmanalyst
Oct. 26th, 2007 11:57 pm (UTC)
Oh wow. Excellent story. Excellent picture of that relationship and such delicate handling of the mother issue.
opalmatrix
Oct. 27th, 2007 12:39 am (UTC)

Aww, I'm glad you liked it! I wasn't too sure about giving Jien a job - some people have hypothesized that their mother was a prostitute to support them - but it seemed reasonable that he'd taken on being the Man of the House in more ways than one. (And it also keeps him away from her as much as possible ... I think people lose sight of the fact that Jien is also an abused child far too easily.)

(no subject) - smillaraaq - Oct. 27th, 2007 02:21 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - opalmatrix - Oct. 27th, 2007 03:54 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - smillaraaq - Oct. 27th, 2007 05:19 am (UTC) - Expand
lillypuff
Oct. 29th, 2007 04:46 am (UTC)
smillaraaq pointed me to this fic and omg, I love it. You have the relationship between Gojyo and Jien down so perfectly. And little Gojyo is so damn cute! I totally agree you should post this to saiyuki :D
opalmatrix
Nov. 2nd, 2007 05:28 pm (UTC)

Aww, thanks, I'm so glad you liked it. (And sorry this is so late - my brain has been really friend lately, and I'm still not used to maintaining two LJs.)

(no subject) - lillypuff - Nov. 3rd, 2007 04:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
redbrunja
Oct. 30th, 2007 11:07 am (UTC)
Oh. My. God.

This was so perfect.

I was literally laughing out loud, no lie.

I loved the set up - Jien would so be working, and I love hearing about the people in their life who tried to help them/treated them nice. Also, thank you for treating technology 'realistically' in Saiyuki - I really like it when people have tech but don't make it modern. The details of the rickety projector and the courthouse being the cinema were really awesome.

"Jien admired how dexterous Gojyo was at directing the sweets where he wanted them to go - especially to the girls."

I have my problems with Gojyo being painted as a playboy really young, but I do the details of him sharing even though he doesn't have much/doesn't get treats often. Totally Gojyo.


I love Jien's older perspective on the film, and sweet jesus I was cracking up at the details of the film - they way Sanzo/Goku/Hakkai are all merged together really work's - it's a great send-up.

" Jien was a little bored: he could usually while away the time by imagining making out with the leading lady, but this time she was a nun, for Heaven's sake. Jien had nothing against human women in his fantasies, and a Westerner would normally be a spicy novelty, but he had to draw the line at a nun, even from some strange outlandish religion. Who knows what kind of crap you could get into with the gods for daydreaming about feeling up a nun? And it was weird, too."

I was laughing *so hard* at this. Just so hard. And then the following line was just *ouch* It really makes you wonder how much Jien's sexuality got screwed up because of his mother.

"Those are special adventuring pants!”

(redbrunja snorts uncontrollably.)

Why can I see him having the exact argument with Goku at some point?

And the bit with the kid at the end? love love love. Gojyo would totally take this kid's side, and the whole interaction with him and Jien is spot on.

"But Gojyo was Gojyo. He'd fearlessly take on a challenge from anyone his size or bigger, but he buried dead birds and rescued bugs that were drowning, and if there was a stray dog around, chances are Gojyo would give it half of his own scanty dinner. Heaven knows where he got it from."

I'd suggest Jien look in a mirror at this point - just because the literally physicality is different doesn't mean the emotional reality is...

And never, never hesitate to self-pimp to me.

You are always free to pop over to my lj, comment on the most recent post and be like, 'by the way.... *fake innocent look* I *cough cough* happen to have just posted something you might be interested in, if I want to read it.....'

Seriously, am I the only total comment slut here? God, you people need to learn how to be more shameless.
smillaraaq
Oct. 30th, 2007 02:34 pm (UTC)
I was cracking up at the details of the film - they way Sanzo/Goku/Hakkai are all merged together really work's

And don't forget the Jeep! :)

As for comment-whoring, well, I can't really do that on the most recent thing I've written because (1) it's in the anonymous kink meme and I haven't decloaked yet, although anyone who knows my hot buttons, and not just in terms of pairings, can probably tell it was me, and (2) it's slashy, so I know that you and PZB at least simply do not want to read it in the first place. (Although if you haven't checked in there recently, there is a little more actual het that's been posted recently -- some Kou/Yaone, another heartbreaking Jien/Mom bit of angst, and an absolutely hysterical older Goku/Lirin.) Although if it can be unlocked or reposted somewhere, I'd love to get your opinion on some rather goofy underwear meta we've got going elsewhere... ;)
(no subject) - redbrunja - Oct. 30th, 2007 03:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - opalmatrix - Oct. 30th, 2007 04:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - smillaraaq - Oct. 31st, 2007 03:17 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - redbrunja - Oct. 31st, 2007 09:54 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - opalmatrix - Oct. 31st, 2007 09:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - smillaraaq - Oct. 31st, 2007 10:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - redbrunja - Nov. 1st, 2007 08:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - smillaraaq - Nov. 1st, 2007 11:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - redbrunja - Nov. 5th, 2007 05:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - smillaraaq - Nov. 2nd, 2007 01:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - redbrunja - Nov. 5th, 2007 01:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - smillaraaq - Nov. 5th, 2007 03:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - redbrunja - Nov. 5th, 2007 04:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - opalmatrix - Nov. 2nd, 2007 05:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - smillaraaq - Nov. 2nd, 2007 08:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - redbrunja - Nov. 5th, 2007 01:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - smillaraaq - Nov. 5th, 2007 01:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - redbrunja - Nov. 5th, 2007 04:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - smillaraaq - Nov. 5th, 2007 05:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - redbrunja - Nov. 6th, 2007 05:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
opalmatrix
Nov. 18th, 2007 12:09 am (UTC)

I'm really glad you liked it. Gojyo is very important to me. The story was supposed to be just something amusing about those blasted ugly pants - we were talking about it for a while - but it insisted on growing.

(I have another Saiyuki story on this LJ, which I guess I will eventually add to the comm. as well, and then I have to buckle up my courage and reveal the two I wrote on the Kink Meme ... .)

ginnyvos
Nov. 18th, 2007 01:57 pm (UTC)
This is... This is... So unbelievably sweet and beautiful and yet heart-breaking.

I think Jien is often forgotten or even dealt the bad hand for leaving Gojyo... People forget how much he had to go trough as well. I love how you wrote this from his perspective, and it's beautiful. Can't really come up with anything more coherent, but the details and the emotional baggage is amazing.
opalmatrix
Nov. 24th, 2007 06:01 am (UTC)

Oh, I'm so glad you liked it. Yes, as an older sibling myself, I can identify with him on that, at least! And he is really just a kid himself, albeit an older one.

(no subject) - ginnyvos - Nov. 24th, 2007 10:57 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - opalmatrix - Nov. 30th, 2007 04:11 am (UTC) - Expand
nanfoodle
Nov. 18th, 2007 10:51 pm (UTC)
Yay for well written Sha angst! Some people can hit a few things with their Sha fiction- Jien's grief and abuse, their Mother's problems,Gojyo's emotional and physical abuse- but you hit *everything*.You delivered this just so fantastically,everything is there and it's all spot on. *loves on it some more*
opalmatrix
Nov. 24th, 2007 06:03 am (UTC)

>blush< I'm so pleased it did all that for you! Thanks for telling me about it.   :-)

purpleicicles
Nov. 29th, 2007 11:13 pm (UTC)
Amazing. There were so many great little bits in this that illustrated all the different facets of the sha brothers; both their joys and their pains were really well covered and expressed and there was a nice heavy dose of originality to round it all off *memories* Can I friend you? Pretty please?
opalmatrix
Nov. 30th, 2007 04:09 am (UTC)

I'm so glad you liked it - it was fun to write.

(Oooh, of course you may friend me - but I only use this account for fic, so it won't be all that active. Especially not for the next couple of weeks, while I'm finishing up my Yuletide fic thingie ... .)

(no subject) - purpleicicles - Dec. 3rd, 2007 07:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - opalmatrix - Dec. 13th, 2007 03:35 am (UTC) - Expand
theskywasblue
Mar. 4th, 2008 03:16 am (UTC)
You're right, I did like it! It was very sweet. Nicely done!
opalmatrix
Mar. 4th, 2008 03:37 pm (UTC)

I'm glad you enjoyed it! Yours felt like so much the same sort of thing - a sweet day snatched by the brothers together on the sly - that I thought you might.

muffin_shark
Nov. 27th, 2009 08:39 pm (UTC)
Haha, my friend and I always called those Gojyo's "adventure pants". They're so silly. This was such a cute take on why he has them. I love the way you write his relationship with Jien, and the way all the little details in the Jijo movie relate to his future with Hakkai, Goku, and Sanzo. That made me happy.^^
opalmatrix
Nov. 29th, 2009 12:23 am (UTC)

I'm glad you enjoyed this! There's a sort-of sequel - it takes place more than a decade later, on the Journey West - called Cast-Offs, which I wrote for one of the saiyuki-time prompts.

sharpeslass
Apr. 14th, 2011 12:51 am (UTC)
But first I have to make sure you live that long.
*weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeps*

That was lovely. *snif* (Then of course Jien ruined it all by abandoning the poor little kid. I'm still mad at him for that.)
( 46 comments — Leave a comment )

Profile

Inami - portrait
opalmatrix
opalmatrix

Tags

Latest Month

May 2017
S M T W T F S
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031   
Powered by LiveJournal.com