ditch_gospel: (sanzo bloody)
[personal profile] ditch_gospel
It's been a long time since I've done this. This is my break the block project, so I thought posting might help give me a push. I do have quite a bit more.

Working Title: Spitting Shadows
Author: ditch_gospel
Rating: R
Pairings: Shuuei/Sanzo, Nataku/Sanzo, Goku/Sanzo, Gojyo/Hakkai
Genre: AU, angst, supernatural, drama.
Warnings: Angst and blood, unhealthy relationships, etc.
Summary: Five students with troubled pasts set out to unleash chaos in a quest for retribution. But they get more than they bargained for when they realize that vengeance comes with a price far beyond what they’re willing to pay.

<<~The world begins to go crazy. You can’t take your eyes off them.~>>


Spitting Shadows

Chapter One

Three Years Ago.


There were voices in this head. Deep, intrusive whispers that slithered and scratched and tangled around his memories, cutting like invisible wires into his mind.

‘He was always an odd one, that boy.’

‘Anti-social.’

‘Why did someone like Quinn Conn pick up a strange child like that?’

‘And this is how he’s rewarded after going out of his way to raise the boy for the past fourteen years? Well, I’m not surprised it turned out this way.’

‘Such a shame.’

‘Yes, such a shame.’


The room was dark and the bed was too warm. He lay there, naked and dishevelled. The thin sheets clung to his body. The voices were becoming more distinct.

‘Look at him. He doesn’t even cry.’

‘Not a single tear at the funeral.’

‘Scary.’

‘I always knew there was something wrong with that child.’

“More demon than human, if you ask me.”


He shuddered as he slipped carefully from the bed, away from the uncomfortable embrace of the familiar man who had fallen asleep at his side in the wake of such unfamiliar acts. He felt unclean, his youthful skin stained with another’s lust. He rose to his feet on shaky legs. But he could not escape from the voices. He had no choice but to remain captive audience to the derisive and accusatory commentary ongoing inside his head. He could not shut the voices out, could not turn them off, could no longer distinguish whether they were real or simply figments of his imagination.

‘Wasn’t he found at the scene of the crime?’

‘He claims he can’t remember.’

‘Lies.’

‘It must have been him. Who else? Everyone loved Master Quinn.’

‘He killed his own father in cold blood.’


The voices suddenly grew louder, echoing in unison as they addressed him directly, and his head began to throb with a dull ache.

‘Yes. You killed him! Didn’t you, Gen?’

So they said.

Unseen fingers jabbed at him in accusation and he stumbled in the dark as he flinched away.

Maybe it was true.

Except that he couldn’t remember doing it.

The more he tried to remember, the less sense it made. And the more he tried to make sense of it, the more confused he became.

He fumbled for something to cover himself, one last shred of comfort in which to wrap his wounded dignity. Unsure of where his own clothing had ended up after it had been peeled away, his fingers caught at a t-shirt that had been strewn aside, although not his own, and he slipped it over his head.

He walked slowly through the room, step by step, out into the hall. He trailed his fingertips along the wall as he went, his short nails scratching absently against the flat painted surface. He stopped when he reached the bathroom door, and stepped inside. The tiles were cool beneath his bare feet. He shut the door softly behind him and turned the lock.

He switched on the light.

He was greeted by the dead eyes of his own reflection silently staring back at him from the mirror. Violet eyes. Strange eyes. "More demon than human." He reached out to touch the smooth glass, and the image there faithfully imitated his actions. Its touch was as cold as the glass from which is was born.

He knew what to expect from the familiar face in the mirror. He knew it would be at his side without question. Because it was only a shadow. Unlike friends of flesh and blood who could not be counted on when you needed them most, because the whims of their own selfish hearts got in the way.

And so his final plea had been denied by the one he thought he could trust. That friend had taken his body instead of his life. He could rely only upon himself.

He was alone, now. This he knew. Even if everything else was blurring around the edges, obscured by anxieties and nightmares and strange voices in his head… This he knew.

He opened the medicine cabinet, searching for something useful, something sharp. He briefly considered breaking the mirror, the satisfaction of shattering the image within. But the razor blade would do. It would do very well. He held it above his wrist, contemplating the delicate blue lines of the veins beneath the skin.

He drew a long, deep breath, and then…

He sliced down quick and hard and deep. He winced through gritted teeth and glared at the shallow gash. Not deep enough. Lips pressed into a thin, white line, cold determination carried him through another attempt. It hurt. More than he thought it would. Yet the pain did nothing to bring him to his senses, even as it brought him to his knees. It did nothing to change his mind. It urged him on, gave him the will to continue.

The second wrist was even more difficult, his hands shaking and slick with blood. The blade slipped in his fingers again and again, threatened to drop, and tears of frustration stung his eyes.

A voice in his head, this time his own, mocked his pitiful efforts, goaded him on.

(Useless idiot. Can’t you even manage such a simple thing? If only you had a gun. One bullet and this joke would already be over.)

But it didn’t matter. Nothing mattered. This physical pain was much more bearable than the mental anguish of his grief, and was the only thing sharp enough to dull it.

He was finally rewarded with a sudden gush of blood as the blade found its mark and the wound gaped open like a wide mouth ripe with obscenity. He watched the blood spill freely, as if celebrating its release. His hands were numb and useless. The blade fell from his trembling fingers and clattered to the tiles with a faint metallic ring. He sank to his side on the floor and closed his eyes.

He hoped it was enough. Enough to silence the voices. Enough to silence his heart.

Time passed. He grew pale and faint. It was getting colder. His pulse, weaker.

He drifted someplace far away, deeper than sleep, beyond dreams.

It felt like floating.

He could no longer feel the floor beneath his body. He could no longer feel the blood pooling around him. It was very cold, now. The cold seemed to clear his mind a little, as though he had emerged from a heavy fog and could just begin to see the path ahead.

And it was silent. So blissfully silent.

He opened his eyes slowly, and was greeted with a darkness that seemed to press in on him from all sides, a darkness so deep and so profound that he could not see his own body, could see nothing at all.

And he was no longer alone.

He became aware of a presence in the dark. It was strange, but somehow distantly familiar. It broke the silence. It spoke. It had the voice of a man, with an inflection of mild amusement.

“Hello, Gen. What a pleasant surprise to see you here. Things are working out better than I had hoped. Do you know where you are?”

Gen didn’t want to speak into this bottomless dark. He felt like he would drown. He cautiously opened his mouth and sucked in a breath of nothingness, used it to give shape to his words.

“I’m dead. So this must be Hell.”

The presence chuckled lightly. “Close, but not quite. You aren’t dead yet, kid. You have a choice to make.”

Something shockingly cold touched his ankle. He wanted to pull away, but somehow he couldn’t. In this place, his body felt powerless against the embrace of the darkness.

“A choice?” His voice was small, touched by no spark of hope.

“Yes. Your body is dying. You made such a beautiful , bloody mess all over the nice, clean floor, truly a work of fine art. Such a shame that you can’t even enjoy it.” There was an exaggerated sigh, heavy with theatrical sympathy. “But your soul is here with me, now. You have a choice, but you’re running out of time. He’s already found you. The ambulance is coming.”

Gen felt a vague sense of urgency, like tiny slivers under his skin, racing towards his heart.

“What choice?”

“You can choose to disappear forever. Or you can choose to give up the light.”

The cold touch on his ankle shifted. The chill seemed to spread from that touch, like icy poison through his veins. He shivered violently.

“Who are you?”

“Don’t you remember?”

And he did remember, then. He remembered a man dressed all in black, with black hair and blacker eyes. A man whose footfalls had seemed to make no sound, whose shadow refused to fall. A strange and discomfiting man. A friend of his father’s.

“Rooke.” He pronounced the name slowly, as if testing its truth.

The presence chuckled again. “Bingo, bingo.”

A sudden thought jolted through his numbed mind. “Quinn… is he…is my father here?”

He didn’t see the movement, but somehow he sensed that Rooke shook his head. “‘Fraid not, kid. He took a different path, a path not of his own choosing. You and I, on the other hand, we chose our own way, the path that leads to ultimate darkness, absolute annihilation. Voluntary obliteration of the self.”

“I…”

Each breath filled his lungs with cold darkness. It was difficult to speak.

The voice -- Rooke -- spoke again.

“Such a shame. If that so-called friend of yours had only done what you had asked, had granted your final request and killed you like you wanted, then maybe you could have seen your father again. But he betrayed you. Used your trust, wiped away your tears, then had his way with you and left you with no choice but to take matters into your own hands. What a horrible man. Traitor. Pervert. Not a friend at all.”

Glib insincerity dripped like snake oil from Rooke’s every word. But was there some truth in what he said? Gen wanted to deny it, to defend the friend he had trusted. But…

Betrayal. Yes, he had been betrayed.

He took a deep breath for the first time since awakening in this place, letting the dark and the cold penetrate his body and flood his lungs, willing it to clear the cobwebs from his mind.

“That’s right,” Rooke purred. “You don’t need him now. You came here on your own. But you don’t really want to disappear, do you? Where’s the fun in that? Come. Come with me, Gen. Master Quinn’s boy. Child of light. Can you illuminate even this darkness?”

The voice echoed softly, eerily, seeming to reverberate as it faded into the endless night. And Gen peered into the pitch darkness until he could just make out the faintest silhouette at his side, like a black hole against a dark backdrop of nothingness.

Rooke had been an odd one, when they had met. He had left a feeling of unease in Gen’s heart. He had not liked the sight of his father walking away at this man’s side, their backs growing smaller as the distance behind them grew. Rooke had seemed like a bad omen, casting a pall upon their humble, happy lives.

And then his father had died.

It was as if Rooke could read the direction of Gen’s unspoken thoughts, as if they were etched out in neon against the void. “I didn’t kill Quinn, little Gen. But I know who did.” And Gen could hear the smile wound around those words, like a serpent’s cool coil. The cold touch slithered further up his leg, settled on his knee.

Quinn’s killer. Hadn’t he himself killed him? People said that he did. They just couldn’t quite prove it. And he couldn’t seem to remember clearly anymore. Maybe it was true.

Slowly, he gave voice to that potential truth, moulding it out of the icy darkness in his lungs. “I killed him. I killed my father.”

“Hm? Now why would you do that? You loved him, didn’t you?”

“Then… that must be why I killed him.”

“Poor boy. So confused. Why don’t you let me help you?”

The cold touch had crept up to his thigh.

He wanted to believe. He wanted to surrender to the dark and gain access to its secrets. But he could not trust that easily. He breathed the first of his questions. “Why?”

“Because I know who and what you really are.”

Who he was? He was Gen Conn, Quinn’s adopted son and student. Nothing more.

“I get many visitors here in this place, you know,” Rooke continued, an indulgent murmur, every word unwinding with hidden intent. “Most are just passing through on their way to eternal sleep. If they interest me, I might play with them, for a while. Give them the choice to forgo sleep in exchange for their company. And for their… assistance.”

Rooke chuckled. “Some of them even make good little pets. But most aren’t worth the effort, in the end. They bore me. The only one who may have been able to entertain me properly was Quinn, but... Well. I don’t think he would have agreed to that. But you, sunshine. Why do you think I made contact with your daddy in the first place? I could use a boy like you.”

Rooke was talking too much. Gen shuddered. He didn’t like to hear his father’s name spoken by this man who surely was not even human. More demon than human. The man’s words seemed to seep through his skin and curl around his mind. He knew he could never trust this Rooke, no matter what he said. No matter how true his words may be.

“This place…if it isn’t Hell, then… where?”

“Hm? This place? Does it interest you?”

He heard the sound of something unfurling, as of wings, and knew that Rooke had spread wide his arms. “This is the garden of souls. The resting place for those who have chosen to forfeit their very existence. Have you ever seen any other place that is as fascinating as it is mind numbingly dull?”

Gen was so cold now, he could barely feel the icy touch as it resumed its path upon his skin. “What are you?”

“So many questions; so little time. I am merely the keeper of this place, and of that other realm, the Land of the Dead where souls are processed like refurbished goods.” All amusement suddenly leeched from Rooke’s voice, leaving it as dry as an arctic wind. “You cannot meet your father here. But I knew him. Stay with me. Work with me, and I’ll tell you how to make his killer pay.”

If that was true, then the murderer was still out there. Anyone who had killed Quinn deserved to die. Gen felt anger at the senseless injustice of it all. If he died here now, who would punish those responsible? Who would be left to take on that task? Was it too late to scratch his way out of this darkness, to be reborn as an angel of vengeance? He would condemn his soul to eternal damnation, if only he could step foot once again in the world where his father’s killers still freely walked.

He shook his head. “No. I can’t stay here. I… have to go back. Find the killer.”

The darkness suddenly seemed to grow impossibly darker, as if a shadow had fallen over him. He felt a sudden chill at his neck, and then the voice hissed close to his ear, making him flinch. “You’re slipping away from me, Gen. I’ll tell you a little secret before you go, something to take back with you into the light. There’s something else here with us in the dark. Can you feel it?”

A sudden electric chill shot down Gen’s spine. He stilled, reaching out with all of his senses. There was something. Something. It was like a ripple in the darkness, a slight vibration. He realized that it had been there all along. And that this was the presence that he had felt from the beginning. For now that he was aware of it, he realized that Rooke himself had no sense of presence at all. Just like this place. It was as if Rooke did not exist. The presence was something else, lurking somewhere nearby, and yet also far, as if its existence overlapped with that of his own.

“I feel it. There’s something out there.”

“It’s restless. It searches for the way out. It yearns for the light. If you call to it, it will come. It craves blood and feeds on chaos and destruction. It’s attracted to disaster. And it doesn’t like to be alone. Being trapped here in this void is like torture to it, the worst kind of torment. But the gods didn’t have anywhere else to put it, you see. Such a troublesome thing, the existence of a creature like that.”

Now that Gen was aware of it, he could not understand how he had failed to feel it at first. This presence in the dark. It was… warm. The only spark in this place.

Rooke’s voice in his ear continued. “If you release it, it can help you obtain the vengeance you desire. All you have to do is seek out allies. The more the merrier. You’ll need their strength, if something goes wrong. Befriend them. Use them. Convince them that you know the way. Set bait for the beast. And then you and your little friends…”

The voice dropped down soft and low in his ear as it continued, so that Gen barely heard what was said. Perhaps it was not words at all, but a voiceless directive that simply passed directly into his mind. But he understood it all.

There was a pause then, a moment of dead silence in which nothing stirred. Until Rooke spoke again.

“Do that. And I will be here, waiting. I will show you the way to the creature’s lair. And I will give you the power so that you may seek your vengeance. All you need is its name. Psst. Do you remember?”

Gen squeezed his eyes shut. “Remember? How could I know its name?” And even as he said this, he could feel that distant warmth lending a thread of strength and feeling to his numbed body.

The chill touch on his throat moved to his cheek. Rooke was speaking faster, now, his words an impatient string of suggestion, needling deep into Gen’s mind with an insistent pressure. “You can’t kill them yourself, can you? You said it yourself. If you killed him, it must be because you loved him. How could you kill someone you don’t even love? Hm? You can’t, can you? You need someone who can do it for you. Come now. Why don’t you make an agreement with me. For the next time we meet.”

The darkness was cracking apart around him. And its edges were as sharp as glass.

He clenched his fists until he could feel the faintest glimmer of something like pain. His final question, then, was steeped in a bitter understanding. “What’s in it for you?”

Rooke laughed. “Ahh, clever boy. Yes, I do want something in exchange. Something that belongs to you.”

Belong? To him? What did he have to give? Surely there was nothing of any consequence. Not even his own life held any meaning, but for the fact that his with his hands and his heart, he held the will to seek out the vengeance he so desired.

“What is it?”

“Only you have the key to Heaven. I would like to obtain that golden key.”

“I have no key.”

“You’ve just forgotten. After all, it’s a long way to fall, of course your memories wouldn’t survive intact. You’ve been stripped of everything that you had, all because you wouldn’t play by their divine rules.”

Rooke’s words made little sense or meaning. But all he had to do was agree. To gain the power he needed. “Y--” Why, then, was he hesitating?

“Yes? Say it. Quickly, then. Say you accept my offer. Once you have gathered allies and laid the bait, you will meet me here once again. Say it. Now!”

The space continued to crackle and bristle as with needles and pins. A static-like sprinkling of light danced and flickered before his eyes.

“I… accept. For my father, I will find the killer.”

Rooke released a satisfied sigh. “So be it. I’ll be watching you. I’ll be waiting. So… until we meet again, little Gen. Take care.”

Silence. Absolute.

And he felt real pain then, sudden and intense. His mouth and eyes gaped wide with the shock of it. The darkness began to dissipate altogether, replaced with a blinding light. He felt the presence, the creature in the dark, as if it was reaching out to hold him back. He heard a voice, distant, but clear. It called a name.

“Konzen.”

As the light increased and the dark place receded somewhere far away, somewhere he could no longer reach, Gen tried to answer.

“Idiot…That’s not my name.”

And then he slept.

Through fleeting, transient consciousness, he was vaguely aware of the flurry of activity around him as paramedics, nurses, doctors worked to ensure his survival.

Needles. Blood transfusion. Bandages. Drugs to block the pain and calm the mind.

A vague awareness of his friend at his bedside -- the same friend who had let him down, the friend whose bathroom floor he had drenched with blood -- eyes filled with pain and voice touched with worry.

Gen slept through it all. And as he slept, a name, long forgotten but not lost, a precious remnant of something dearer than dear, broke free from the barriers of death and rebirth and space and time and distance, and drifted through his sleeping mind like a cherry blossom falling gently to float upon the surface of a lily pool.

“Goku.”

When next he woke, very much alive, the broken shards in his mind had worked their way so deep inside, the last of his sanity had already bled away.

But he remembered. He remembered a name. He remembered meeting a devil in the dark.

And he knew what he needed to do.
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