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A Different Outcome

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Ukoku wonders just what is up with his life for the nth time. How did things turn out like this? He only thought to visit his fellow Sanzo priest - the only Sanzo priest he knows and gets along with in the middle of the night as usual, only to catch him in the middle of accepting a death blow by some lowlife demon.

He acts before he realises what he was doing, his blood rushing through his veins in a blazing hot frenzy as he slaughters that scum, along with the others near him. 

‘Hey hey, I can’t have you dying on me anytime soon, Koumyou.’ He approaches the kneeling Koumyou, the fire beneath his skin burning even hotter as he notices the blood on him.

Did those scums manage to get a lucky hit in? Koumyou is a strong man despite how he looks, Ukoku himself having experienced his strength before. To even manage to make him kneel in such weakness, just how - ah…

He sees red as he notices the paralysed boy behind him, putting his thoughts together within the span a few seconds. Of course, of course it is for that boy, that child Koumyou is so fond of.

And then those filthy leftover demons finally reacted. ‘Kill them!’ They charged forward with their weapons, only to be swiftly cut down by Ukoku. He slaughtered them quickly, but not without inflicting as much pain as possible, each worse than the last. Blood and gore rained.

By then the other monks finally arrived, and got Koumyou the medical treatment he needed. They skittled around him nervously, but prepared a room and bath for him anyways. Well, no need to terrorize them yet, his appearance does enough for him at the moment.

He washes himself quickly, and leans against the wall outside of Koumyou's room, as he looks up at the moon, the sound of other monks giving medical treatment fading into background noise.

 


 

In the morning, he plants himself in Koumyou’s room the moment the man is awake, observing the other monks who act nervously between fretting over his injuries and watching him warily.

The boy Kouryuu hovers nearby, close enough to be always on hand if Koumyou ever has any requests, himself shaken by the events of the previous night. He was shooed away by a smiling Koumyou to get some rest after he noticed how pale the boy was, as if he himself hadn't been cut open and isn’t suffering from blood loss.

It irked Ukoku. What were you thinking? He doesn’t realise he voiced out his thoughts until they were out from his mouth, his mouth in a firm line.

‘Hmm, me? Oh, let’s see…How rare of you to show up when there’s daylight, Ukoku! And I really want a cigarette right now…’ Koumyou smiles as he fumbles for his cigarette stash and lighter before he pauses and beams.

‘Long time no see, Ukoku! And thank you for the save last night, that was a close call for me, haha! ’

He places the cigarette stick in his mouth as he flicks the lighter flint for a few times before a flame flickers out, lighting up the tobacco stick. But before he could take a puff, the cigarette was taken away by Ukoku, the stick lazily held between his two fingers.

‘Hey, that’s mine,’ Koumyou pouts as he reaches for his cigarette pack for another, to which Ukoku proceeds to take away the rest.

‘Confiscated, no smoking, the doctor’s orders.’ Ukoku grins, the light reflecting off his glasses, as he stood up to leave the room.

‘I’ll chat with you later,’ He leaves, waving his hand nonchalantly as he shuts the door, allowing the other Sanzo priest to get his much deserved rest.

The grin slips off his face the moment the door shuts, and he leans against it for a moment, resisting the urge to sigh as he huffs out a laugh. Typical Koumyou. That airhead never gives the right answers when asked, and yet answers anyways, at his own pace.

He really wants to know what is in that air-headed mind of his, he gripes, walking along the wooden porch leading back to his room. He lifts his hand to scrub away at his hair in frustration, only to notice the lit cigarette stick between his fingers.

‘Well, let’s not waste it,’ he thought as he places it between his lips to take a puff. He breathes in, and bittersweet smoke fills his lungs.

 


 

Night couldn’t have come more quickly. Ukoku makes his way to Koumyou’s room again, and pauses as the boy, Kouryuu takes his leave from the room, with soiled bandages in his arms. He must have been changing Koumyou’s bandages instead of the other monks, probably out of some kind of guilt and worry, he deduced, noting the emotions stirring in the boy’s eyes. Well, he won’t give him much flake for it, he decides, as he enters the room.

Koumyou’s pale visage from the morning seems to have been reduced with some rest, as he noticed some colour returning to his face, though that could also be the candle light flickering in his vision. 

‘Ukoku, welcome back~’ came Koumyou’s cheery voice.

‘What were you thinking?’ The question came out flatter than he planned to, the bothersome feeling in his chest hasn’t disappeared even after time passed.

‘I’m thinking about the cigarettes you took away from me… And that reminds me, what were you doing around this area?’ Koumyou whines, a pout forming on his face.

‘Don’t avoid the topic and answer me properly, Koumyou.’ The reply was clipped but demanding.

‘Doing my duty.’ Koumyou’s reply was firm and unwavering.

‘Duty? You could have died, no, you would have died, had I not been there!’ He bit out harshly as he turned to glare at him.

‘I am doing my duty of choosing the next Sanzo, and Kouryuu, no, Genjo Sanzo is to be my successor.’ He answers calmly, a rare look of seriousness crossing over his face.

‘Besides, if it was for that child, I wouldn’t mind.’ With the last sentence, Koumyou smiles.

Hearing those words, seeing that accepting smile, pisses him off. Ukoku sees red.

‘Did you think that was the only duty you have? You were entrusted to watch over me weren’t you?! So do your damn job and do it properly!’ He spits out as he grabs a hold of Koumyou’s robes, blood boiling.

How dare he?! So what if he favours that child he raised?! What about him?! How dare he thought of dying and leaving him behind?! Remembering the look of acceptance he had when he was about to receive that killing blow… How he had been covered in his own blood... Ah… He doesn't know why, but everything just pisses him off.

He doesn’t know what kind of expression he has on right now, for the first time not calculated to pander to the whims of other people. But Koumyou opens his eyes, a look of realisation upon him.

‘But that was what I thought of at that time, and I don’t regret it.’ He smiles as he reaches to cup his face with his hands.

‘How annoying… I really do wonder what you are thinking at times like this…’ Ukoku mutters, his hair shadowing his eyes.

‘Ah… The moon tonight is beautiful… It makes me want to drink sake… How about it? Care to join me for a cup?’ Koumyou chimes in with a chuckle, the seriousness from earlier already gone. He seems to have shifted his focus on the full moon that could be seen from out of his window.

The tension in the air dissipates as Ukoku’s grip on his robes slackened, his shoulders loosened as if some kind of weight had been lifted. Instead, he slumps down weightlessly, partially seated on Koumyou as his body shook, and a laugh bubbled out of him. 

‘Ah… I really can’t win against you... As expected, a world without you would be truly boring, Koumyou!’ He leans forward, face almost close enough to brush against Koumyou’s shoulder, and breathes. The faint scent of blood and crushed herbs paste fills his nose, along with his scent, but that was as far as he allowed himself to go. Just for tonight.

Koumyou, he really is such a my-pace type of man, one may think he is not as sharp as he looks, but then he gets serious with you for one moment and then suddenly reverts back to being an airhead. It only makes him all the more a mysterious puzzle that Ukoku hasn’t figured out, but it’s fine, he prefers Koumyou as he is.

‘Hmm…? Win? Did we play a game together before? More importantly, how about it? A cup of sake?’ a quizzical look appearing on his face before Koumyou prompts him again, looking expectant.

‘No, we can do it next time,’ He replies in a flippant tone, when your injuries are healed, left unsaid. Ukoku lets out a defeated sigh as he turns to look at the moon.

Though he'll never admit it, the moon is beautiful tonight. Just like the moon from back when he had been in his detention cell, only he hadn’t known how to appreciate it back then.

He remembers their bet, and chuckles lowly.

By the next morning, Ukoku was gone, the only evidence of him being there remaining in the faint scent of the tobacco he smoked, and his barely touched room. Koumyou merely smiles.