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Title: Written on the Water
Author: opalmatrix
Warnings: A couple of curse words, and some adult concepts.
Pairing(s): n/a
Spoilers: Gojyo's history
Notes: Written for saiyuki_time challenge #34: Letters to the Dead. Time allowed: 1 hour. Time taken: maybe 5 minutes over. This is pretty loose and rough - I just let it pour out. Probably inspired by a bit of conversation smillaraaq and I were having about how little we know about youkai culture, and how Jien and Gojyo didn't know much more, because they seem to have been cut off from their community as kids - or all that rotten stuff wouldn't have happened.

Hey ... Dad?

Not that I think you can hear me. Maybe you're in heaven now? With Gojyo's mother? 'Cause I don't think Mom is there. Or maybe you're reincarnated. I don't know what the next incarnation is, for a guy who died of love. Maybe that cranky priest Gojyo's working for would know.

I don't even know why I'm thinking about you after all these years, except ... this sure is a pretty little stream here. I think I remember taking a walk with you, once, outside of town, and you were explaining what kind of stream or river or lake was good for kappas. Yeah. And this is that kind. But none of us are living here. I guess it's too close to Houtou. I know the cattle youkai don't think much of kappas - Lady Gyokumen's said some bitchy things about me, and about Kou, because of that. But I also know Kou doesn't care about all those ancient feuds. He's not that kind of person.

How old was I when you told me about that? I think I had started school. Mom was really crabby that day - I think I was getting on her nerves - and you took me out to get me out of her hair. I remember, it was the first time I thought that she didn't look beautiful, because she was so mad.

Oh, wow. Dad, had she started drinking already then? Maybe ... because she found out about your lover? Because ... yeah. That's just about right. And things really started to go downhill after that.

Damn. That sounds like I'm blaming you. And I don't, not really. Well, OK. A little, because of Gojyo. A kid shouldn't have the kind of childhood he had. Dad, I tried to take care of him, I really did. And I know I shouldn't have done what I did with Mom. But I didn't know what else to do.

Hell, I can't blame you. Now I know myself what it's like to really fall for a woman. But I'm not as emotional a guy as you were, I guess. I remember, you used to laugh a lot. We had so much fun when I was really little. I hope Gojyo got a little of that, before ... but he doesn't remember you at all. Or his mother.

You know, I think I saw his mother once. I was too little to know why the other women in the market were giving her those dirty looks, but years later, when Mom had been going on about her and cursing at Gojyo, I remembered, and it all made sense. But now, I can't remember what she looked like. When I try, I just see Gojyo's face. But I know she was really pretty. And I bet she was really nice, because Gojyo was such a sweet little kid. All he wanted was for Mom to love him, and instead she ... . Nnngh.

Dad, he's OK now. Those years when I didn't know what had happened to him were just so rotten. Both of us left him - gods, what a thing to have in common with you. But now - he's got people he cares about, and that care about him. I can tell he's been through some tough times, but he's got a crazy sense of humor, and he can laugh about it - like you, I guess. I think you'd be proud of him. I know I am.

I just wish, sometimes, you'd been around to tell me more about who we are, where we came from. When did our people start living in town? Did we have a stream like this. or a river, way back when?

I mean, I don't even know what to do to honor your memory. Should I be lighting incense? That doesn't sound kappa-ish, if you know what I mean. Maybe Yaone would know. She's so smart, Dad. And pretty. I know you'd like her. And Kou.

Well, they're waiting for me. So I've gotta go. It's been good talking to you, I guess.



( 20 comments — leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 2nd, 2008 04:03 am (UTC)

Yeah, he has that whole older sibling thing going on ... and he was still a kid himself, really. What a life he's had!

Nov. 27th, 2008 05:16 am (UTC)
Y'know, I never really thought of Doku as being "all kappa." Isn't that weird? Not until just now, and reading this, and the importance of water you've written. Huh. :) I really like how it's Doku's POV-- a unique thing-- and the little tentative ways he remembers his mother (even backing off and changing the subject in his own mind as he does so). I also really love how you wrote him thinking about Gojyo and how blood made him who he is; that he has his father's humor and must have had a nice mother.

Very enjoyable yet sad little snippet!
Dec. 2nd, 2008 04:07 am (UTC)

I guess he needn't be all kappa, really - Mom could have been something else - but there isn't any reason why he shouldn't be. Minekura really puts in enough bits for almost all her minor characters that it's easy to work with them. (Except Gyokumen Koushou, who seems to have emerged, full-grown and bitchy, a couple of centuries ago or so ... .)

I'm so glad this worked for you!

Nov. 27th, 2008 05:48 am (UTC)
This was very interesting and sad and well done. We don't get a lot of Jien/doku's personality in the manga (at least I don't - he seems very formal and rather hidden, if that makes any sense) and you did a wonderful job of giving him a voice that I could actually relate to. I also liked the references to both heritage and lineage and how they both go into the creation of a person/personality. This was very different from anything else I've read and I found it quite moving as well.
Dec. 2nd, 2008 04:12 am (UTC)


He's definitely not the chatterbox his younger brother is, that's for sure ... but there are a number of little interactions with Kou and with Yaone, and there is the extended flashback of Gojyo's in the Kami-sama arc, when Gojyo-chan falls off the cliff. Being an older sibling myself, I feel like I know him a little, from those bits. (Last year, I wrote a fairly extensive fic from his point of view when he was younger, and his mother was still alive, here.)

I'm glad you liked this!

(Deleted comment)
Dec. 2nd, 2008 04:14 am (UTC)

I love having you read my stuff because you notice such a lot of things! I hadn't thought of the sentence structure, but you're absolutely right! Thanks so much for reading!

(And that's why I'm hoping you'll eventually read the huge long thing ... .)

(Deleted comment)
Dec. 2nd, 2008 12:15 pm (UTC)

I definitely know what you meant about the time! Thanks again!

Nov. 27th, 2008 03:49 pm (UTC)
ahhh..I like this so much! I really adore Dokugakuji/Jien and exploring his and Gojyo's past, especially from his POV because it's something you don't really see in the manga except for glimpses. This was wonderfully touching.
Dec. 2nd, 2008 12:20 pm (UTC)

Aww, thanks! I'm glad it worked for you!

Nov. 27th, 2008 04:11 pm (UTC)
I want to give him a big hug now. Nice work.
Dec. 2nd, 2008 12:22 pm (UTC)

It's so easy to forget that Jien is really another of Saiyuki's lost boys ... Thanks so much for reading!

Nov. 28th, 2008 02:30 am (UTC)
Lovely, just lovely. *faves* I'm so glad to see someone think about this.

[**veers**] It does seem, doesn't it, that different kinds of youkai are allowed to intermarry? and kids of mixed-youkai-type marriages are still considered purebred, so to speak? cos from what we've seen of Doku's mom, she looked pretty much "generic Saiyuki youkai", i.e. human with claws and pointed ears, while all the accounts say that kappas have a very distinctive appearance. (Man, what I'd give for even one panel of their dad!) But Doku is still regarded as full youkai, so I've kind-of been going on the assumption that--since, heaven knows, there are a zillion sub-types of youkai--their society is pretty cool about marriages within the species as long as both partners are 100% SOME type or other.

Rambling, I know. I just have this mental image of Sha Senior leaving his family's lakeside village to move into town with his new wife, and the family worrying "is it really OK for him to marry outside the clan? I have a bad feeling..."...if they only knew. =)
Dec. 2nd, 2008 12:27 pm (UTC)

I'm glad this worked for you! You're right about the youkai and intermarriage, though. I've wondered whether maybe that's the key to the fact that the Shah boys don't seem to have had any family beyond their sad, destructive mother. I don't really expect that Minekura's take on kappas includes the plate in the head and the shell, though! But if their mother had married a guy from another tribe, against both family's wishes, they might have had to live apart from the normal clan/tribe structure. And that would make Sha Senior's straying with Gojyo;s human mother even more awful on Jien's mother. No wonder she went to pieces ... .

Nov. 30th, 2008 06:00 am (UTC)
This made me cry. Which is a good thing.

This fic is so moving and touching.

I really like that you did this from Doku's POV - he really is quite a fascinating character.

The language of this is so understated, but there's so much going on here. It really fits his personality as we've seen it.

Lovely job.
Dec. 2nd, 2008 12:30 pm (UTC)

Aww, thanks! I'm glad you liked it! (I've written a couple of other fics from his POV -one for this comm. and one longer piece.)

Dec. 2nd, 2008 12:16 am (UTC)
Really touching little snippet, particularly with the sense that some things are irretrievable once you've lost them - that kind of permanence has a resonance throughout the manga. I also never really connected the dots before to go "wow, so Jien is full kappa...". It would be nice to see either of the Sha boys dipping into their roots a bit - especially as all the others in the ikkou can seem to do something cool and youkai-related... *fantasizes about a gilled-up Gojyo* ^____^
Dec. 2nd, 2008 12:35 pm (UTC)

Well, he might not be a full kappa ... see my note to kisarazumama, above. But it was an intriguing thought. He doesn't look quite like the typical wiry, mop-headed, long-clawed youkai in the main storyline, but that might just be the fact that Minekura takes more care over him. The youkai in Pippi's village had more varied appearances too.

I think Gojyo's special ability is to be extra-tough and adaptable! Thanks for reading!

Dec. 8th, 2008 09:38 am (UTC)
I think Minekura reserves the scruffy appearances for the non-crazy youkai; Doku hasn't succumbed to the minus wave, and the youkai villagers had some sort of resistance, so they get to look normal. Gojyo is indeed the tough and adaptable one - he's also the 'glue' of the group in a lot of ways, so I guess he does have the special power of charm and cammeraderie! ^_~
Dec. 8th, 2008 12:37 pm (UTC)

Actually, the youkai in the village did go through the MInus Wave, but they seem to have come back to some sort of equilibrium again.

Yes, Gojyo-glue! Exactly ... like what happened to the group after he left to go after Kami-sama on his own.

Dec. 11th, 2008 03:25 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that's what I meant... kinda post-resistance effects (does that make any sense?!?).

Exactly like with kami-sama! They simply can't survive without the guy :D
( 20 comments — leave a comment )


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