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Like an Opening Door (ficlet; Saiyuki)

Title: Like an Opening Door
Author: opalmatrix
Warnings: nihilism and casual talk of self-destruction and murder
Rating: PG for language
Pairing(s): n/a
Spoilers: Hakkai's backstory
Notes: shortfic written for lady_ganesh. Prompt: Hakkai, Sanzo, lost and found. The title is from an Oysterband song, "The Lost and Found": It's like an opening door/It's what we came here for. I've covered this ground before, but it still draws me. Un beta-ed.
Summary: Sanzo has no intention of giving up on Hakkai, or letting Hakkai give up.

"It's not working. I'm not going to get better. I don't know why I wasn't killed properly," said Hakkai.

Sanzo grunted noncommittally and pulled out his cigarettes and lighter.

"There's no reason for me to exist. I've committed hideous crimes, I'm no good to anyone, and I don't want to be here."

Sanzo extracted a cigarette from the box and lit it. Hakkai frowned.

"If you don't care about living, I'm damned if I can figure out why you care that I'm smoking," growled Sanzo.

"What's the point of my living!" snapped Hakkai.

"If you want to make me wish I could kill you, just keep whining. But I'm not going to do it."

"Then I will!"

Sanzo's expression grew less stony, more sour. "Taking the easy way out, heh?"

Hakkai clamped his lips together against the scream that was trying to work its way up his throat and out. He closed his eyes against Sanzo and the austere grandeur of the Temple.

"You owe a lot to this world, Hakkai. You need to find some way to make it up."

"I said, I'm no good to anyone."

"Why the hell should I listen to the opinion of a barely sane criminal?"

"I thought renouncing attachments to this world was the right thing to do!"

"Huh. Let me ask you something. You have some pretty impressive qi powers now. How about using them in the Temple infirmary?"

"No! I can't!"

"I thought you were trying to wipe out your crimes, here?"

"How can you ask me to ... do that! I only only have that because I'm now ... now I'm ... ."

"You're youkai. Cho Hakkai, a youkai. Say it."

"I'm a monster!"

"What does that make your red-headed buddy down there in town, then?"

For a moment, Hakkai could not remember who in the world Sanzo could mean, and then memory rose up and knocked the breath from his lungs.

"Damn you! How can you say that about him?"

"Get real. You're educated: you know what that hair and those eyes mean."

"But ... !"

"You don't really know anything about him, do you? He lives by gambling and chatting up prostitutes in bars."

"That doesn't matter! He's kind and has a good heart!"

"And he's half youkai. What were you just saying about yourself?"

There was a small silence. Sanzo smoked his cigarette down and ground it out.

"He was willing to take any punishment there might be for hiding me," said Hakkai, at last, in a very small voice.

"It's a good thing we didn't want to fine him. He couldn't have earned anything much while he was taking care of you."

"How ... how is he doing now?"

"How the hell should I know? I don't keep track of alcoholic gamblers."

"You could ... send someone to ask."

"Hnnh. There's an idea. I'll send you. Kill two birds with one stone."

"But ... ."

"You don't care? That sounded an awful lot like an attachment to me, Hakkai."

Hakkai opened his lips, but his mouth was strangely empty of words. As though a door had opened in his mind, he remembered a shabby room, badly cooked meals shared at a rickety table, worn sheets on a lumpy bed, and a battered, patient, good-humored man with roughened yet gentle hands. Hakkai put his own hands over his face, and the pictures only grew brighter and more distinct. Yes, an attachment. He could feel the pull, as clearly as he felt the wooden stool on which he sat.

"I'm beaten," he whispered.

"Heh?" said Sanzo, sounding surprised for the first time.

"I'll do it. I'll go."

"So you'll live."

"That too."




Oct. 9th, 2010 07:54 pm (UTC)
Oh, you're explaining it just fine, it's very much the way I tend to see Hakkai as well. He gets so lost in his head, in his own fixed ideas, it's hard for anyone else to get through to him on anything but a surface level. (And I think he does even has a streak of actual selfishness along with the solipsistic tendencies, but he does seem to struggle against those.) His death-wish here illustrates that all beautifully -- it's not something new that he's only come to since the Sanbutshin proclaimed him a sinner, it's what he'd been planning all along since finding himself still alive in spite of everything, with the only person who'd ever managed to get under his skin and matter to him forever lost. The guilty desire for capital punishment is on some level a rationalization after the fact, I think, of the underlying emotional death wish that was his immediate emotional reaction to Kanan's death -- and trying to essentially outsource his own suicide shows up that self-absorption, as he clearly never stops to think what effect his death might have on the people who would live on in its wake. And Sanzo, with his usual brutal clarity, cuts right through to the heart of it all.


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