Chapter 1: Prologue
Usually when one of the little ones went missing, it wasn’t long before they turned up again. The mountain stretched for miles, after all, there was a lot of space to cover and many places which could be explored. So of course he wasn’t worried.
But when the little one was gone so long that the others were starting to worry, then he started to become concerned.
There was always the chance that something had happened to him, and the list of possibilities was a long one; the one that crossed his mind first of course was that he had wandered too far away from the temple, and too close to one of the human settlements and been hit by one of their metal machines on their road. Or captured, turned into a pet, or worse.
Wukong didn’t like to think badly of humans, but when it came to some of the things he knew them to be guilty of, he couldn’t help it. The little one that went missing was still young, after all, he hated the idea of him ignoring the words of caution he’d given about most humans before. Again, he didn’t like to think badly of humans, not all of them were bad, after all, but some could just… some definitely didn’t deserve the Bodhisattva’s mercy.
A great commotion drew his attention away from his thoughts and to the trees below the cliff he stood on. He stepped off the edge casually to descend and see what all the ruckus was, one of the little ones bouncing off the stop of his head and to another nearby branch to beat him to the crowd of monkeys that had gathered in the small clearing. He felt all his worries melt away when he saw the missing little one in the center of the circle, being embraced in welcome by his family troop, their shrill cries of joy becoming infectious in the growing crowd as several of its company began to bounce up and down in joy.
“Well look who decided to come home!” he said, opening his arms as the little one jumped over, then into his embrace to greet him. “And just what was the big idea, making us all worry about you?” he asked, holding the little one out in front of him.
The little one began to chatter, waving his hands almost wildly as he sputtered out his tail to the Monkey King and the crowd of other monkeys around him.
Turned out, he had ignored the warnings and cautions against going too close to the human settlement, and he had gotten struck by one of their metal machines. A smaller one, so it was a miracle he wasn’t killed, but his leg had been badly broken. He even stuck his leg out to show where the hair was growing back around the scar, which Wukong raised a brow at. The little one went on to explain that another human, a human woman, had found him, took him to her “cave”, tended his wound and returned him when he was healed enough to walk again.
Wukong set the young monkey down to let him continue his tale, wondering if he was embellishing a little to make it sound all the more grand to the others, then he asked. “Is she still here?”
The little one paused long enough in his story to point Wukong down the mountain, towards one of the only roads that led near its peak. He patted the little one on the head, gave him one last scolding about wandering off, then left in that direction. He wasn’t quite sure why he was so curious about this woman, but if she came all this way up the mountain just to return one of his little ones home, then the least he could do was make sure she made it down safely; it was getting dark.
He found her near the road, hiking back down towards it and to one of those less dangerous human machines… Bikes, right, they were called bikes. One her back was a makeshift sling made from a basket and some strips of cloth that carried the little one’s scent. So she’d carried him all the way up here on her back, peddling them both the whole way. Impressive. The little one wasn’t that heavy, granted, but still, it was a long trek. That was impressive for a human.
She herself was still quite young. Not a child, but not past her prime, either. Just barely a woman, really. Long, dark hair that stretched down her back, and a sweet, but rather plain face. Nothing special about her, really, but to come all this way for an act of kindness… again, it was impressive. He watched as she peddled off on that bike, and followed her from a distance until she was about halfway down the mountain, where she reached the main road that led back towards the city.
But didn’t make the turn to go back to the city. She made a turn in the opposite direction. Odd…
Curiosity overtook him and he continued to follow her, making sure to stay high enough in the air that humans passing on the road wouldn’t notice him on his cloud. He was laid across it on his belly, almost lazily. He really didn’t know why he was bothering to follow this human. Sure, she helped one of the little ones, and yeah, he was wondering why she was headed out towards the middle of nowhere on that little bike thing of hers… Oh? Hang on…
He didn’t know there was a town out here.
He stopped his cloud to hover over the area. It wasn’t so much of a town as it was just a little village. It couldn’t have been more than… maybe a hundred people or so living here? It must have been built in the last few years, he hardly ever came down to this side of the mountain, nothing here but the river delta, really. And since his temple was up on top of the mountain, he didn’t really bother with what was at the bottom anymore. Still, the place seemed… quaint. Quiet. Well placed, despite how small it was. People from the big city would probably never even notice that it was ever here… like he did.
He spotted the girl again as she steered her bike to a small house on one side of the town, getting off her bike and going inside. He watched until the light came on inside, then grew bored and flew his cloud back up the mountain to his temple. He’d definitely have to look in on this little place another time.
And he did. He found himself checking in on the small village at least once a month. Especially on the young woman whose kindness had saved one of his little ones. That one in particular kept asking about her, how she was, and all that. So Wukong checked on her every time he went to that village. He learned quite a bit about her in that time. Turned out that sweet face of hers wasn’t just for her looks; she truly was a kind person.
Every time he went to see her, she was helping someone or some critter in some way or another. In fact at one point when he came to see how she was doing, he found her halfway up an absurdly high tree, trying to return a baby hawk to it’s nest. Nearly gave him a heart attack at seeing just how high up she’d gotten! But she managed to do it and get back down just fine… still. Humans were so weird.
He liked her, though. If he had to compare her to anyone, he’d have to compare her to Guan Yin in the mortal flesh.
Though there was something about her that just seemed… sad, somehow. It made him all the more curious about her. He poked around, peeking into her house when she wasn’t looking through the windows, listening when she had visitors or talked to anyone from the village. She always wore a smile when she talked to people, even when she tended to a wounded animal or creature she came across; a smile that, while genuine, seemed so sad that it almost drove him nuts.
Until he learned just why she was so sad.
He had snooped around the village, and found out that she was barren. Couldn’t have children even though she wanted to bear her own badly. But that wasn’t even the saddest part…
She had a husband before. A husband who wanted children of his own so badly… that he left her to find another woman who could give him some.
That bit reminded Wukong why he disliked some humans especially. They could be so damn thoughtless and shallow sometimes. Just hearing that at first made his hands ball up into fists. He’d half a mind to find that husband of hers and give him a stern talking to about just abandoning a woman who was so kind, even if she couldn’t give him children. But he saw how she carried on, trying to stay happy, stay positive, and he thought better of it… at least for awhile.
He wasn’t sure why he was so invested in her and how she was feeling. Maybe because she did remind him so much of the Bodhisattva of Mercy; someone who gave so much and expected so little in return, even if they were well respected.
He sat there, that night, watching from a spot by her open window where she couldn’t see as she made herself tea. He watched as she spun the spoon around in a circle, his eyes following the rotation for several minutes before looking back to her, amazed that she could still smile, even as her hand subconsciously, and gingerly touched her stomach in a way of longing that he could clearly see. He sighed, leaning away from the window and stretching himself on the ground below it, one leg swept over the other as he ran his fingers through his hair. It was bothering him--probably a little too much--that he couldn’t help her, and he wasn’t sure why he was even really that invested. It happened with humans, sometimes… it couldn’t be helped!
Wukong stopped, finger curling anxiously, almost out of habit around one particular hair on the back of his head, his golden eyes widening in remembrance.
It was one of--no, not one of, the last of--the three magical golden hairs that Guan Yin had given him for his journey with Tripitaka to the West. He’d completely forgotten about it!
Wukong sat back up and peeked back through the window, keeping low enough below the sill that she wouldn’t see him. She was still sitting there, stirring her tea, completely unawares, and he fingered the hair again. They were magical, supposed to grant miracles… but not that kind of miracle… right? But then again the Bodhisattva’s were in no way slack when it came to magic… so it couldn’t hurt to try, right? It was supposed to only be for emergencies, the kind that only a miracle could save him from… but when he used the other two, those were only for miracles that other people needed, never one for himself… so he could at least keep the trend going, right?
He made up his mind.
The Monkey King plucked the hair from his head, bringing it forward in front of his eyes, before closing them and saying a quiet prayer, like he’d done twice before. Once his prayer was done, he took a deep breath, opening one eye to make sure the moment was right, then blew the hair in through the window. He watched it with baited breath as it drifted, unseen, towards her before landing into her cup of tea; there was a momentary golden sheen of light from the cup before it faded, the magical hair seeming to dissolve completely, and just in time as she lifted it to drink.
He finally breathed a sigh, backing away from the window quietly before mounting his cloud again. He said another small prayer as he started his ascent, hoping, by whatever small miracle that last bit of magic gifted to him by Guan Yin, would actually produce a miracle. He’d hate to think he wasted such a gift…
Though if he knew the Bodhisattva, she would probably say something along the lines of an act of compassion never being truly wasted.
Chapter 2: Chapter 1
A few months had passed. And he’d been content to stay in the temple, keeping to himself and getting up to general mischief with his little ones. He’d nearly forgotten about the little village at the foot of his mountain, but he hadn’t forgotten the young woman he’d deemed worthy of his last miracle. Maybe that was why he seemed so content to just stay away for so long. He did look in on them from afar, at least once or twice since it happened, but things seemed normal, so he saw no reason to stick around. Let the dice fall where they roll, and all that.
He’d so forgotten it all that he was surprised by an odd sound that rang through the air over the mountain one chilly summer morning.
It woke him up from a good nap, and he rolled off the limb he was resting on to mount his cloud. His ears pricked as the sound rang out again, coming from the direction of one of the rivers below that skirted the mountain’s base. One of the little monkey’s landed on a limb above his head, a few of them scampering through the trees towards the sound curiously as he too descended to investigate.
The sound was coming from a drifting basket in the river. The monkeys gathered at the bank, chattering curiously, hopping on rocks to get closer, and Wukong had to scold two that started throwing rocks at it. He hovered above the basket momentarily before picking it up and setting it gently onto a rock, then alighting on another next to it himself. The basket was crammed full of blankets, wrapped around something inside that was wriggling for some form of escape. Tilting his head curiously, Wukong reached forward and pulled the first layer back, flinching a little when he felt one of the younger, more curious monkey’s jump onto his back before looking down at what was revealed to him.
A child. A human infant, only a month old at the very least. He was tucked so tightly into the blankets that it was surprising that he didn’t smother. Tiny, dark eyes blinked in the sunlight, whining and reaching up instinctively to shield them, while also reaching blindly for some sort of comfort that Wukong hesitated to give. The most he could think to do was to pick up the whole basket and hold it so that his shadow blocked out the direct sunlight to provide relief for the child’s eyes, unsure if this would stop it’s pleading whines.
The child’s eyes blinked, adjusting to the change in light, blinking up at the monkey above him, for what felt like several moments, before a tiny, toothless smile spread over the infant’s little face, and he reached forward.
Wukong leaned back, away from the child, almost by instinct, but slowly leaned forward, letting the child touch his face; he even grabbed a little, pulling at his lower lip and a tiny fist clutching around a miniature handful of the fur on his forehead. The kid was strong, for a baby…
He managed to pry himself loose from the child’s grip, looking around the river area as the monkey’s gathered closer, more alighting onto his back to get a closer look. He searched for any signs of a human parent, looking for a drifting basket… maybe the child was accidentally set adrift and some mother or father was now frantic…
The child cooed at him, reaching up and this time grabbing the tail of one of the little monkeys that let it get too close, causing it to shriek out in surprise and pain. That was enough to start a cacophony of sound and domino effect of chaos; the other monkeys were startled by the first one’s scream and began to scream themselves, which startled the infant and made him start screaming; and then all the monkeys all darted off, nearly knocking him off balance from them all scampering away so suddenly, and he dropped the basket back into the river as a result.
Luckily though his tail reacted a lot quicker than his hands and snatched up the infant before the basket hit the water, but the splash half drenched them both. Then the crying got worse.
Instinctively, he took and cradled the babe in his arms, tucking him close to his chest, to keep him warm, but still he wailed. Wukong winced at the sound, electing to get himself and the baby away from the water so they wouldn’t become any more damp by jumping onto his cloud, carefully so he didn’t accidentally drop it. Improvising, he untied his cape from around his neck and wrapped it around the little tyke, effectively drying him off, at least a little bit, and warm him further. This quieted him a little, but his eyes were leaking tears. Again, Wukong looked around the bank, up and down, for any signs of a parent that would have undoubtedly been drawn to the infant’s cries by now… but saw no one except his monkeys.
He sighed, looking down at the baby sadly. As much as he wanted to think, “now what” to himself, he knew the first thing he had to do was get this child--and himself--completely dried off.
He scooped up the basket and it’s soggy contents with his tail before taking off, knowing that they may contain a clue he could use to later find out where the infant came from, but he would worry about that later. He took off back to his temple, where it was warm and dry, and at least a lot more safe than having a child this young exposed to the elements. The kid quieted down a lot as they flew, even if it was a relatively short flight, snuggling himself into Wukong’s cape for more warmth, though didn’t seem bothered by the wind. That was good at least.
Upon reaching and reentering the temple, the first thing he did was set the infant down on the sofa carefully, practically amidst a small bunch of monkeys that had been taking a dog-pile style nap there. The next thing he did was set out the basket and it’s contents to dry outside on the porch, changed his own clothes as quickly as he could manage, then saw to the infant again. Some of the napping monkeys had gathered around the new arrival, staring down curiously as the child sniffled and quietly babbled up at them; Wukong gently shooed them away, fresh towel in hand one hand and a spare blanket in the other, then picked up the infant and unwrapped his cape from around the little one.
It was a boy, he was finally able to discern. Wukong dried him as gently as he could with the towel, then wrapped the blanket back around him to make sure he stayed warm. Once dry and warm, the infant’s attitude changed, and once again he cooed up at the Monkey King and wriggled in his bundle, trying to free his little arms to reach for him. He sat there, with the wiggling bundle in his lap for several moments, trying to process what he should do next. Take him back to the river? No… even though he tried to hope that the kid was set adrift by accident, he couldn’t convince himself of that any longer after no one came to his aid despite the racket he was making. So what was he going to do with him? He barely knew anything about babies! Let alone human ones… Besides, one this young wouldn’t last long without his mother’s milk. He was going to have to think of something if the child was to have a chance to survive…
But he was definitely not staying.
He kept telling himself this as the little boy finally freed one hand from it’s blanket prison and reached towards him, little arm stretching as far as it could go. He was determined, so determined that Wukong couldn’t help but smile softly, deciding to reward him by giving the child one finger to hold. The child took it eagerly, a purely joyous smile spreading across his tiny face as his tiny fingers wrapped around the monkey’s single digit. The kid honestly looked like he’d just won the lottery, the way he was smiling, his eyes sparkling, and he wasn’t even looking at the finger he’d just “won”.
He was looking right at Wukong. That look of pure, innocent joy locked onto him directly. It was almost infectious, to the point where Wukong felt his expression soften enough for his smile to widen. He settled back onto the sofa, head propped up by one elbow leaned against the arm, and the infant still in his lap.
Okay. Yeah. He was cute.
But he was definitely not staying.
At least not permanently.
“No, no, we’re not keeping him,” he said, reaffirming his own thoughts as well as answering one of the monkey’s on the sofa as they chattered at him. “He’s just staying until we can find him a good home.”
Then another monkey asked a very important question that he hadn’t really put much thought into up until that point; what were they going to feed him?
“Um…” Wukong looked back at the infant as he let out a single yawn. The kid needed milk, but the kind you get at the supermarket wasn’t going to be enough to keep his strength up. And since he couldn’t chew yet, most other foods were out of the question… He looked at the other monkeys, half of which were staring at him expectantly and the other half who were still staring at the infant in his lap.
“I’m open to ideas here, guys,” he said.
One of the monkeys held out a half eaten peach, and another brought up that babies like milk, and he sighed, letting his head hang back against the back of the couch, eyes scanning the room for some sort of inspiration, when his eyes fell on an empty bowl that had gotten kind of left sitting on a side table after he’d snacked on some peach flavored ice cream...
Oh. That wasn’t a bad idea. Not the ice cream itself, but something similar he might be able to mix together!
He stood up carefully, setting the infant, who fussed a bit at losing the finger he was holding, onto the couch. Some of the monkeys caught on, gathering around and carefully curling up around him, distracting the little tyke enough that Wukong was able to slip away into the kitchen. He grabbed up a fresh peach and took what was left of the milk--making sure that it was still good first--pouring a small portion of it into a clean bowl he also grabbed. He cut up the peach into pieces as small as he could manage, then added that to the milk, using a handy bit of magic to warm the overall contents of the bowl, and then making sure to mix it again before taking it back out to the other room.
The infant had somehow freed his other arm from the blanket prison, and was clinging tightly to one of the smaller monkeys like he was a doll. It wasn’t hurting him, but the monkey looked a little too petrified to move for whatever reason, instead looking to his brethren for some sort of help, only to receive blank or helpless stares in return. Wukong freed the little monkey as carefully as he could, scooping the child back up in that same arm while keeping the bowl tucked in his other hand before sitting back down. The infant fussed at him, having been disturbed, but Wukong offered him a small spoonful of the peach and milk mixture. To say there was scrutiny in the infant’s eyes would have been an accurate statement as the spoon was brought up to his face, and he closed his mouth tight.
Wukong sighed. “C’mon kid, please?”
At the plea, the child seemed to relent, lips loosening enough for Wukong to press the tip of the spoon to his mouth. The child almost flinched at the foreign feeling, but smacked his lips, letting what little of the mixture that touched them slip past and into his mouth. He then stared at the spoon expectantly, mouth opening much more eagerly as Wukong raised it again.
Crisis averted, the kid was eating.
Despite how tiny he was, the kid ate a lot. Not an absurd amount that would make him sick, but a lot for someone his size. Of course, it did occur to Wukong that the kid may not have eaten in some time, so he was probably just hungry. And once that tiny belly had its fill, his little eyelids drifted shut, almost as though being dragged down by strings. Wukong took that as a signal to tuck the kid in for a nap.
He put the bowl down on the coffee table, warning one of the small monkeys that it was the kid’s food, not theirs, then stood up with the infant in his arms. He paused only long enough to clean up the kid’s face a little, then set about using the pillows on the sofa and one extra blanket to make something of a “nest” for the child to rest in. He then gently, doing his best to not disturb the already sleeping babe, into it, and still, somehow the child found time to fuss, arms reaching for something to hold onto and not let go of.
“Jeez, kid…” Wukong whispered quietly, frowning as he tugged his sleeve out from the child’s grip, still amazed by how strong this little guy was. He could hear the other monkeys back away slightly, clearly not wanting to be caught in that grip again, and he rolled his eyes looking back at the kid.
He felt a tug on his pant leg, and he looked down to find one of the younger monkeys looking up at him with something in it’s other hand.
It was a Monkey King doll. Something from his collection of various Monkey King merchandise he’d accumulated over the years that some of the smaller or younger monkeys would snuggle with from time to time. He beamed, bending down carefully and patting the little one’s head in appreciation.
“Fantastic idea!” he whispered gratefully, then accepted the doll, which he in turn passed to the infant.
The boy latched on like it was a life preserver in icy water. Success!
Wukong smiled, finally able to set the baby boy down into the makeshift nest, taking sort of an experimental step back to see if it really worked. Moments later, he leaned back over the infant, and smiled again when he saw him sleeping peacefully, still clutching to the Monkey King doll. Several of the gathered monkeys cooed quietly at the sight, expressing how cute he was, and he shushed them, ushering them away so the infant could finally sleep. Though a few did stay to keep an eye on him just in case.
Wukong finally stepped away from the sofa and outside into the sunlight. He wasn’t sure exactly what time it was, but he felt like the sun in the sky was lying to him about the hour… who knew babies were so much work!
And speaking of mothers, or parents in general…
Wukong turned his attention back to the basket, which still sat on the porch where he left it, and it’s contents to dry, spread out as much as able in his haste to tend to the infant thrust into his care by fate. The woven basket itself didn’t hold any clue or answers for him, it was just like any other basket, one you could easily buy from anywhere, and two of the blankets that were inside seemed to be just regular bed sheets.
The last one, however, was distinct. It was the blanket the boy had been wrapped in. It was much smaller than the other two and was definitely handmade… too bad about it getting soaked, the stitchwork was really something and the pattern was…
And then his hands started to shake.
He’d seen this pattern before. He’d nearly forgotten about it. But he had seen it before. Hanging outside a little house, in the village at the base of his mountain… only for a second, but it was definitely the same one.
But that couldn’t… that wasn’t… shouldn’t be possible… it would mean…
That this child…
Was that child!
Chapter 3: Chapter 2
That was the question that kept on rolling through his head as he paced back and forth along the porch, in and out of the room to glance at the child still sleeping soundly on his sofa. That and a recent memory.
Some time after he used his last miracle hair, he’d gone back to the village, just for a brief look around when he was bored. He decided to look in on the woman he’d used the hair on, just to see how she was doing, and he saw her with this blanket as it was being made. From the bump on her belly, he could see that his miracle worked, and she seemed so happy!
If this child really was that child--her child, born of a miracle he gave her--why would she just abandon him like this?!
Wukong stopped pacing long enough to take a few, deep, calming breaths. Him pacing around like this, all pissed off, wasn’t going to get him answers. Besides, he was worried he’d wake too much noise and accidentally wake the kid…
He walked back over to the sofa, looking down at the snoozing bundle, and a few of the little monkeys who had also fallen asleep around him. He wouldn’t call it “melting”, really, but seeing the little tyke just snoozing away like nothing happened did improve his mood a little. But only a little. He still couldn’t help but wrack his brain over why his mother would abandon him after she clearly wanted to have a child so badly… There had to be a reason. There had to.
Maybe he really was set adrift by accident, maybe she panicked and figured she wasn’t ready to have a child on her own after all or maybe… something happened to her? There were so many possibilities and he didn’t like entertaining any of them, though he would accept the former if that really were the case. Any other, however, and someone was going to get an earful…
He couldn’t just keep sitting here any longer, not with so many unanswered questions. He glanced down at the handmade blanket in his hands, then down at the sleeping child, making up his mind to get to the bottom of this, and return the boy to his mother.
No way he was going to just let her waste a miracle; his last miracle at that.
Wukong tucked away the handmade blanket, stuffing it into his armor, then went for another; a thin blanket, more of a sheet, really, that he could wrap around himself easily, then he returned to the sleeping child. He wrapped him up carefully, then even more carefully wrapped the blanket around himself like a sling, with the child tucked safely into it and against his body. To his amazement, the little guy didn’t wake, even as he was being jostled gently into position inside the sling the Monkey King prepared for him. He was honestly expecting the infant to wake and reach for him again, but his grip was still locked tight onto the doll he’d been given earlier. That was fine, he could definitely keep it. Better than having his fur pulled on.
Once he was sure the infant was secure, he walked back outside, mounting his cloud gingerly. Which, in hindsight, he didn’t see the point of since it was a cloud. It was soft, it wasn’t like the little guy was going to get woken up by him jumping onto it… right? Still, he didn’t want to take a chance of the kid starting to cry again. Especially with his mood already kind of fluctuating between a strange, paternal instinct and anger. He didn’t want to vent that anger at the child. It wasn’t his fault, after all…
He took a look down at the little guy as he started this flight, unable to help but smile at seeing him snooze away, face nuzzled halfway between the doll he clung to, and the thin layer of blanket that separated him from Wukong’s torso. How anyone could get mad at that little face was beyond him, though he’d seen some serious anger issues before… mostly on his part, back in his younger days, but still.
The village came into sight before too long, and his nose wrinkled momentarily as he scowled at the buildings below, his own anger momentarily returning, only to be forgotten almost immediately.
Something wasn’t right here.
The town was small, tiny, but it was always busy and bustling. There were always people walking around; in the little market, running errands, chatting…
So why was it so… empty?
Wukong’s feelings of anger and outrage settled slowly into ones of dread, and he lowered his cloud down for a closer look around. Said closer inspection still yielded no signs of human life, nor any sounds of it either. It honestly sent a chill down his spine, and instinctively he clutched the infant tighter to his chest, feeling the bundle wriggle in his arms.
“Hello?” he called out as he neared what appeared to be an empty building, hoping someone would answer. Nothing. He frowned, still keeping the child tucked close to him and looking around, lifting his nose to the air and sniffing a few times.
His face scrunched into a reflexive snarl and his hair stood on end, tail thrashing angrily behind him like a cat’s; and if it weren’t for the bundle in his arms, he would have immediately taken up a stance for combat.
The open air reeked of demons.
And of blood. Which made his dread drop all the way into his stomach, before creeping back up through his throat, almost imitating the urge one had when they felt an unprompted, but sudden and violent vomit coming on. He didn’t pause to search the main street further, just flew as fast as his cloud could carry him to the little house on the edge of town--her house--his heart sinking like a stone when he saw it look just as empty.
The inside was trashed, and it didn’t take him long to figure out what happened by following the trail of destruction.
It started in the kitchen, evident by the broken door, and trailed through most of the house before ending in what was obviously a nursery…
Oh gods, the nursery.
Guilt wracked him, twisting up in his stomach with his dread when he saw just how well furnished and equipped it was to care for the child tucked in his arms, despite it being wrecked now. Toys, clothes, a rocking chair and cradle… He silently prayed for forgiveness, for even briefly entertaining the idea of thinking she wouldn’t have wanted the miracle child bestowed upon her.
Figuring out what happened from there was easy; the small window to the nursery was open, and from it, he could see the river. She must have grabbed her son, stuffed him hastily into the basket, slipped out the window and sent him adrift to save him, most likely drawing whatever was chasing them away…
The infant shifted, wiggling inside the sling and letting out quiet, fussing sounds. Wukong hurried out of the room, determined to exit the wrecked house before the babe woke entirely. He probably was much too young to remember any of this but he wasn’t about to let a child whose mother had gone through so much to save him see the shambles of the life she’d tried to give him.
Back outside, he tried to catch his breath, not even realizing he’d been holding it almost from the moment he entered the house. The stink of demons, while still strong, didn’t even make his nose wrinkle this time, he was in such an uncharacteristic state of shock. This village was right at the base of his temple mountain. It was sort of his responsibility. He should have done something. He should have noticed that something was wrong and done something rather than let this happen! And since when were there demons living on or anywhere near his mountain?! Well, there certainly wouldn’t be after today!
He felt tiny hands on his chin. He hadn’t even realized it, but he’d brought the baby out of the sling and tucked him into an embrace in the crook of his neck in all his fretting. He glanced down, finding the infant almost fully awake, little fingers touching and flexing against his face, while small dark eyes blinked up at him obliviously. Damn, why were children always so innocent?
Despite the overwhelming sad situation, that happy little face made a smile tug at one corner of his mouth, and he couldn’t help but nuzzle into the tufts of messy, dark hair on the little guy’s head for comfort. This child really was a little miracle… Now he’d just have to figure out what to do with him…
Wukong’s fur stood on end as the scent in the air suddenly grew stronger. He returned the infant to his chest, embrace becoming protective rather than affectionate, teeth baring as he looked around the area. He tensed at seeing eyes darting in the shadows of the trees nearby, crouching down, almost curling his body around the infant in his arms to ensure even further protection as more and more started to appear and draw closer. Until, soon, there was a small ocean of small figures almost swarming up to the porch he sat on.
One of the rat demons dared to come forward much too close for Wukong’s liking. Its ugly, buck-toothed mouth hanging open and practically oozing drool as it looked up at the child in his arms.
“You gonna eat that?” it asked shamelessly and almost looking at him expectantly.
And Wukong snapped.
Still somehow managing to be careful of the child in his arms, he lashed out with one hand, clenched fist making contact with the ugly rodent’s body with such force that the smaller demon just exploded; leaving nothing but a smudge of fur, blood and boney bits in its place.
Those that didn’t wisely flee shared similar fates, and though he was tempted to give chase, to eliminate them all like the vermin they were… a familiar wailing stopped him.
The infant had been upset by the noise, possibly even frightened by it, and he was voicing it quite well. Wukong took to the safety of his cloud before moving to comfort him, bringing him back tight, but also gently to his collarbone and very slightly rocking him back and forth, shushing him. It took a bit, but eventually he calmed down, wailing dying down into whimpers and hiccups, while tiny hands grasped at his fur and armor for comfort.
“Sorry, kid…” Wukong whispered into the tufts of hair, continuing to gently rock. “M’sorry…”
Whimpers turned into coos, plus a few hiccups, and his fur was tugged on in a--once again--surprisingly iron grip. Wukong couldn’t help but smile. A sad smile, but nonetheless, a smile as his cloud started to rise upwards back into the air.
He paused when he saw that some of the rat demon’s blood had splattered onto the blanket the infant was wrapped in, and he clicked his tongue a bit. He must have been losing his touch, getting rusty, otherwise nothing would have touched the kid in that whole fight. He gently set the boy down on the cloud, wrestling his fur free from the infant’s grasp, and then unwrapping him from the blanket and discarding it. He then took out the other blanket; the one his mother had made, and bundled him into it gently.
The child, unsurprisingly, seemed familiar with the blanket, and settled into it contentedly even before he was fully wrapped up. It made Wukong smile a bit, daring to think of a happier time when the boy’s mother likely wrapped him into this same blanket probably countless times; and then he paused, noticing something stitched expertly into a corner of the blanket, the particular fold resulting in the embroidery resting right under his little chin.
The Monkey King let the name roll off his tongue before taking another moment to pause and smile as the baby stared up at him in the type of blank expression only a month old child could manage. He smiled. The name… definitely suited the kid. Had a good ring to it… not quite as good or affectionate as just calling him “the kid”... but it was nice.
Wukong plucked a hair from his head, creating a duplicate from it, and passing the little one off to it. He chuckled as he watched the child look back and forth between him and the duplicate, small, dark eyes wide and mouth forming a perfect circle; tiny mind clearly blown. Wukong chuckled again, gently pinching a pudgy little cheek before stepping back, leaving the babe in the safe arms of his duplicate.
“I’ll be right back, kid. I’m going to make sure your mother’s death doesn’t go unavenged so she can pass into the next life easier.”
With that, and orders to his duplicate to make sure to take good care of the little tyke, Wukong flew off back towards the ruined town. If there was one thing he knew about rat demons, is that they always left some sort of trail, and he was going to find it. Their lair would have to be close to the town itself, maybe even under it through a tunnel system, it was hard to tell at this point, but he would find them.
Oh yes, he would find them.
And may the Bodhisattvas help them all when he did!
Chapter 4: Chapter 3
Warning: this particular chapter contains violence and gore.
He picked off any of the rats he found that he came across as he tracked them back to their lair; a foul smelling hole in the ground not even an hour away from the town. He wasted no time in jumping in, ignoring the stench and landing smack onto one of the guards at the very bottom of that entrance, breaking his neck upon the impact.
A part of him couldn’t help but feel a rush. This was just like back when he traveled West, charging into a demon’s lair and decemating any who stood in his way with only his faithful Ruyi Jingu Bang and his wits. Of course, back then he had his faithful staff, so now he was going to have to rely a bit more on just brute force this time around.
Which was fine by him. He could use the exercise and the stress relief.
He walked straight down the hall, not bothering to hide himself as he went. He had always had a sort of confident air to his step, and why shouldn’t he? He was a king, an immortal, and the Great Sage, Equal to Heaven. Even if he was in a rat hole and not some grand hall of the gods, he walked with all the pride he was due.
Two rat guards charged at him with jagged spears raised, and he dodged behind them easily, grabbing their heads before smashing them together with such force that there was nothing but a mess of brain matter between his fingers left afterwards. He shook off the excess mess, then turned and kept walking down the corridor. His eyes didn’t need to adjust to the dark, not with the special sight he had, so he didn’t have to worry about any sneak attacks at the very least, even with the dozens upon dozens of small tunnel entrances that littered the corridor he was in.
He stopped briefly as one of the passages widened out, revealing a chamber with a pile stacked high in the center, with several rats rooting through it. They were almost too busy to notice him, rooting through what he could see were various bits of clothing; shirts, shoes, watches, jackets and the like, which made him frowned. He knew that demon rats weren't known for their moderation. They had ravenous appetites, would eat even the bones of their victims... if there was anything left it was only because it had been overlooked in their haste to devour as much as they could as quickly as they could.
He couldn’t help the thump his tail made on the dusty ground at remembering the way that one of them had drooled over little Xiaotian up on the surface earlier. And he mentally thanked the goddess of mercy that they had missed him. But seeing the pile in the center of the room reminded him that because of their appetites that there was no hope of finding anyone else alive… and he felt his chest tighten, knowing that included Xiaotian’s mother.
So, if he couldn’t save them, he’d avenge them.
One of the rats finally noticed him, but only after he’d walked directly up to it, where he then grabbed and snapped its neck with a quick motion of his wrist. It sent many of the others scampering off, squeaking and shrieking out in alarm, while others leaped at him, needle-like teeth and claws ready. Ready to end up as stains on the surrounding walls, that was, and all it took was a backhanded swing on his part. He almost felt like this was going to be too easy…
But it wasn’t, really. It was hard. If he’d paid more attention to the town, at the base of his mountain where his temple was situated, he might have been able to prevent this. He felt like he’d shirked an important responsibility and that was eating him up inside. But he couldn’t let that slow him down right now, especially when there was another responsibility thrust upon him, wrapped up tight and snug in a little blanket, back on the surface.
Wukong exited the room, tail thrashing behind him almost in excitement as he heard what seemed to be thousands of running feet charging his way. Rat demons were small and weak, but in a swarm, they could be overwhelming to most people. But Wukong wasn’t most people. In fact he looked forward to having a bit more of a challenge to deal with than just swatting them one by one like the vermin they were.
He ripped out a small clutch of hair, creating a few duplicates just for the hell of it, then charged into the near wall of beady glowing eyes, black fur and razor sharp claws. Whatever ones he didn’t handle himself, the duplicates took care of; bones were broken left and right, handfuls of fur sent flying and blood splattering everywhere, adding to the foul smells that already hung in the air. From an outside view it would have looked like a shockwave being sent through inky black water, leaving a clean trail in its wake.
Wukong grabbed up a spear for the hell of it, practically ripping it out of the grip of one of the unfortunate demons, and used it in place of his staff, just to get a feel like it really was old times again. And he did indeed picture himself back then, plowing through an army, nothing and no one standing any real chance of stopping him. Still, the spear broke after a few swings. Satisfying ones, of course, though even so, he was forced to discard the broken weapon and return to basics. His duplicates were also clearing through the mass of rodent demons with ease, and before long, they broke through the horde into a much more open area, and only then did he dismiss the duplicates, letting them turn back into hair.
The room ahead was obviously the center of the tunnel system, blocked from his view by a large, double door. He’d undoubtedly find the leader of the rat demon horde inside… yet he hesitated.
There was a smell coming from inside the room, one that made him sick to his stomach. As if the pile of clothes wasn’t enough, he had to smell that; the smell of flesh--human flesh--wafting overwhelmingly through that door. Rage built and boiled in him and he walked forward, throwing his shoulder into the doors and sending them crashing down, ripping out of the wall by their hinges and sending dust flying into the air. To the demons inside, though the alarm had been raised, all they could see was the doors come crashing down on those of their brethren who had attempted to brace against the door to hold it shut, followed by a cloud of filth-thick dust; and the glowing, golden eyes that could be seen piercing through that cloud.
Wukong strode forward with that same confident air he had when he first arrived, studying the room. He scowled at a series of tables, smeared and smudged with remains, sneered at the crowds of remaining rat demons that gathered around the room, weapons ready, and finally glared up at--quite frankly--one of the biggest rat demons he’d ever seen. He was so round that his stretched belly had gone practically bald, and his teeth were so sharp and overgrown that they were practically tusks sticking out of his maw. He was definitely dressed like the head of a clan too; that is to say, he had a menagerie of fancy, similar colored robes stitched together so he could wear them at all.
He’d almost think of this one as a potentially worthy opponent if he weren’t so fat.
“You, monkey!” the big rat bellowed, shaking the room and sending clods of dirt falling from the ceiling. “Who the hell are you?! Answer me quickly or I’ll have you eaten alive!”
And he was obviously uneducated…
Ah, well. Wukong was happy to oblige.
“That village up there you and your horde raided was home to someone I knew.” Wukong said, speaking loudly and matter of factly. “And because of what you did, there’s now a little baby up there who’s without a mother.”
The rat snorted, making Wukong’s eye twitch. “So? If you want to make the family whole again just bring him here and he can join the bitch in my belly!”
Twelve rats lost their heads, their bodies falling limp and startling the rest of the crowd, for Wukong hadn’t moved. At least, not to their knowledge. The haughty look on the large rat’s face faded as Wukong flicked a bit of dirt from his shoulder.
“I’m honestly happy you feel that way,” he said. “It will save me the trouble of worrying there was any hope for you if I’d let you live.” Wukong took a step forward, sending some of the rats stepping back and continuing to speak. “But excuse me, how rude! You asked me who I was and I neglected to introduce myself… I am none other than the Great Sage, Equal to Heaven, Sun Wukong!”
A brief, stunned silence before shrieks of terror, and several of the horde dropped their weapons to make a run for it. Ah, so some of them had heard of him! They weren’t going to get away though. Just like the twelve whose heads he took, he did away with them in less than a blink, still walking forward towards the boss rat, who had fallen onto his side in an attempt to scramble away, a small, defensive wall of his underlings forming in front of him. A few of them charged him, and he charged forward in return, grabbing one and using his body to smash a gap through the wall forming ahead of him, determined to get to the fat one and rip him apart.
One rat jumped on him from behind and latched on. He had been so focused on what was ahead of him he hadn’t been watching his back, and he felt a bite to his shoulder. Not that it hurt him, of course, it was more of an annoyance. He grabbed and threw the rodent off, only for another to take its place, then another and another. They were trying to dogpile him. Wukong growled and shook himself violently, trying to shake them off him, but they’d latched themselves onto his armor good, and they piled on further until he was practically buried.
But he broke free, sending the rodent demons flying with a burst of strength and power he hadn’t used since his rampage through heaven. The resulting expulsion of energy left him floating in the air, almost touching the roof of the cave burrow, while those unfortunate enough to try and hold him down had been sent flying into the walls and ground, bones snapping in all sorts of fatal ways.
Wukong then set his sight on the big rat, who was pathetically trying to dig an escape tunnel off in one, far corner of the chamber. The Monkey King spat at the sight as he moved over the rat, his shadow catching the pathetic creature’s attention, causing it to shriek and flip over to face him. Wukong had never seen a more pathetic sight as the fat creature began to blubber and beg; a drastic change from the gluttonous, haughty thing he’d walked in to see earlier.
“M-Mercy, oh Great Sage!” the rat pleaded. “M-M-Mercy!”
“Sorry. I’m fresh out.” Wukong replied, golden eyes glowing like hellfire as he loomed like a terrible, portentous shadow over the demon before lunging forward.
The earth shook and trembled, cracking open as the hidden tunnels below the ground collapsed, buried forever by the Monkey King’s wrath. Only when the trembling stop did he finally emerge from the ground, relatively unscatched save for a few rips in his armor and stains of blood and mud covering him. But a quick flick of his wrist and some magic did away with all that. He didn’t want to be that much of a mess when he got back to the kid. He would worry about taking a full bath later. It would help him feel cleaner, and not from the filth he’d encountered.
He hadn’t killed in a long time. Hundreds of years, even. It was only after he’d finished the deed of avenging Xiaotian’s mother and the rest of the townsfolk that it really sank in for him. It was a strange feeling. He wasn’t tired but felt like he needed to stop and rest. It wasn’t quite the feeling of justice and relief he was hoping for, it was… well, it was just the feeling of not having killed in so long. He’d changed his ways so much that it felt foreign. He was sure his Master, nor Guan Yin wouldn't approve…
But then he thought of that woman, and her little boy who would never know her face or voice. And he stopped doubting.
He straightened up, sighing and taking a few deep breaths before heading back the way he’d come before, back towards where he left his duplicate with little Xiaotian. He found them right where he’d left them, with the duplicate gently dangling his tail over the edge of the cloud, the infant wrapped inside it, swinging him back and forth gently. The infant was a bit too young to really laugh yet, yet the sounds that came from him were clearly happy ones, and his little arms flapped in the air. Upon seeing him return, the duplicate offered the infant to the real Wukong, dropping him gently into his outstretched arms before disappearing.
Xiaotian blinked a few times in confusion before his toothless smile returned and he reached for Wukong, fingers latching onto the fur that he could reach, cooing up at the Monkey King.
“Nice to be missed.” Wukong said, chuckling as he sat back casually, his cloud appearing to catch him as he did. He sat with his legs crossed and set the child in his lap as the cloud flew onwards, back towards the mountain.
He stopped the cloud over the full view of the village, looking down over it one last time, sighing as he heard Xiaotian babbling in his lap. He said a quick prayer for all the poor souls who had lived there and been taken, then continued to fly back towards his temple, the monkeys gathering to greet him when he arrived.
He made sure to feed Xiaotian again before leaving him for another nap so that he could take a quick, but much needed shower. He could practically feel the stink of that horrid demon den still clinging to his fur, and he needed to get rid of it. He discarded his clothes and armor to be cleaned later, then turned on the water, letting his thoughts roll through his head as the water rolled down his back.
He knew he couldn’t keep the kid. That was the loudest thought in his head as he scrubbed away the smell from the demon’s den. He couldn’t, for a bunch of reasons, but the first reason was that the kid needed other humans around him. Wukong knew that if he raised him he’d be too afraid to let him leave the temple, or Flower Fruit Mountain if he decided to take him there. And it would be too risky. If other demons knew that the Monkey King had a kid who was important to him, there was no telling what some of them might do. Taking care of Tripitaka was enough trouble back in the day due to his fame, so just imagining what would happen if it were a kid directly linked to him…
He sighed, running his fingers through his now thoroughly damp fur. He couldn’t keep the kid. He kept reaffirming that fact in his mind. But what was he going to do with him?
He settled on figuring that out in the morning...
Chapter 5: Chapter 4
He woke up surprisingly early, given how many times the kid got him up, wanting to be fed. He knew it was normal, especially for an infant his age, but he was so tired he didn’t expect to be awake so early. Maybe he was expecting the kid to wake up and want fed again?
He glanced down at the kid as he lay stretched out on the sofa. He was used to being covered by his monkeys sometimes, and while there were a few snuggled up on his legs, little Xiaotian was nestled onto his chest. He’d draped an arm over him sometime in the night, keeping him tucked there while he slept, and he frowned.
He was trying not to get attached to the kid, but he couldn’t help it. This kid was special. Born from a literal miracle, a miracle that he was technically responsible for. But he couldn’t keep him. There were too many reasons as to why he couldn’t, and he had to keep reminding himself what they were because…
Despite his efforts, he had gotten attached.
Wukong sighed and sat up slowly, careful not to disturb little Xiaotian, or the monkeys sleeping on him too much. He couldn’t sit up completely, just enough to lean against the arm of the sofa with a pillow behind him. He knew he’d have to figure something out, something to do with the kid while making sure he’d be provided for and would be safe. He could always look in on him every now and again, but he couldn’t get involved… He had enemies. And if they knew he had a weakness… He couldn’t risk that, not for the kid, not after he’d already been through so much…
A gleam of light hit his eyes and he groaned, shutting his eyes. Was the sun starting to come up already? Ah, well, it wasn’t like he was planning to try and drift off again anyway…
“I hope I’m not interrupting anything?”
Wukong couldn’t jump at the voice despite his surprise, he was so used to it. He opened his eyes again and leaned his head back to look at the white clad goddess that now stood in the room. The glow as it would seem, was coming from her, not from the sunlight outside. He could only blink a few times, then manage a smile.
“Bodhisattva,” he said respectfully, dipping his head and raising one hand as he did. “Long time no see! You’ll, uh… forgive me, if I don’t stand up to bow properly…” he said, gesturing to the infant on his chest.
“Of course.” Guan Yin replied, nodding her head.
She hadn’t changed a bit, since he last encountered her. She was a goddess, of course, so there was no real surprise there, yet she had that kind of graceful, peaceful and familiar air to her that always seemed to astonish anyone who met her; even those who had known her for a long time like he had. Her very aura was a calming one that could humble most beings if they stayed in it’s reach long enough, and it reminded him… so much of Xiaotian’s mother. Not that he spent that much time around her directly, though still, that same air was there.
Guan Yin practically floated over to the sofa, looking down at Wukong, or rather, looking at the boy sleeping on the Monkey King’s chest. He looked up at her, at this point now only able to guess why she was here.
“You’re here because of him, aren’t you?” he asked, trying not to sound disappointed, especially since he saw Guan Yin nod.
“Yes,” she said, though there was some sadness on her face. “His mother’s last prayers were for him… but it seems in their own way, they reached you first,” she added with a small smile.
Wukong scratched his cheek a bit sheepishly. “Yeah, well… What was I gonna do?”
“You’ve grown so much since we last saw each other, Sun Wukong.” Guan Yin said, her smile growing into one of fondness. “Back in your more wild days, you wouldn’t have given a human child much thought, even if you did rescue him.”
“Oh come on, give me a bit more credit than that!” Wukong said jokingly, chuckling, but settling himself down as he felt Xiaotian shift on his stomach and placing his hand to the little one’s back.
He wasn’t sure what to tell Guan Yin, about how the child really came to be. He didn’t want her assuming he was the kid’s father, because he wasn’t. Yeah, the hair came from him but it was blessed by Guan Yin herself, and it was meant to perform miracles… Oh wait. Duh.
Because he’d said a prayer she taught him over the hair before he used it, of course she’d know about where the kid came from.
“The kid’s special.” Wukong finished saying gently rubbing Xiaotian’s back as the little guy shifted again.
“Perhaps in more ways than you realize.” Guan Yin said, and Wukong raised an eyebrow. He’d heard that tone in her voice before, that sort of cryptic, yet knowing tone that always had some meaning behind it. He straightened up a little bit as she reached for Xiaotian and picked him up gently.
Wukong had only ever seen her cradle her sacred vase in hand before, so while seeing her holding a child was something new, it didn’t seem entirely unnatural or unusual for her. She always had that motherly sort of look to her, and now that she held Xiaotian the look fit her perfectly. And for only a moment, Wukong could imagine seeing the woman that was Xiaotian’s mother in her place, holding him.
He sat up finally, pausing only long enough to stretch a bit when Guan Yin beckoned him to lean closer with her finger, then very slightly waved her hand over Xiaotian’s face as he slept. The infant shifted, and Wukong leaned in close to watch as his eyes opened briefly, still glazed over in heavy, dream filled infant sleep… but flashing with golden light.
Wukong jerked back in surprise. Not alarm or fear, just surprise, and he felt something inside--probably all his insides, actually--somersault in unison, his tail sticking straight up in the air and going stiff like a pole. His mouth even fell open slightly ajar as he continued to watch and stare until the child’s eyes closed again with a small yawn, and he settled back to sleep, then he glanced back and forth between the babe and Guan Yin, who was smiling.
“That was… He just…!” Wukong stood up on the sofa accidentally knocking a few of the still dozing smaller monkeys off their perches. He paused, looking back and forth between the goddess and the boy one last time, then breathed out, “He’s got powers like mine?”
“Mm-hm.” Guan Yin nodded.
“But I… did the hair--the one you gave me--did it do this?” he asked.
“In a way, yes.” Guan Yin replied. “The hair, though a gift from me, was also part of you. It spent so much time as part of your physical body that some of your own life energy, your chi, bled into it. That chi, of course, would contain fragments of your many powers and abilities.”
“That… explains the grip, then.” Wukong said, unable to keep a smile from stretching across his face and rubbing his fur where he’d felt Xiaotian pull before. “But… just how many of my powers did he get?”
Guan Yin shrugged, which concerned him. “I’m afraid that I cannot say,” she said. “Only time will tell. They will surely develop even more as he grows and develops himself.”
Wukong looked at her, beginning to see just where she was going with this and frowning a little. If the kid grew up with his powers, then he would likely go through a similar… “childhood” to Wukong’s own youth; a period of uncontrolled emotion, unrestrained physical power and impulsive ambitions that led to a great deal of chaos. It was fun, yeah, but only while it lasted. And it ended with him trapped under a mountain for five whole centuries.
If anyone in the court of the Jade Palace found out that the kid was like him, they’d no doubt take action. For the kid’s own good or for their own, was hard to say, but either way it probably wouldn’t end well, like it did with Wukong all those years ago.
“What are you going to do with him?” Wukong finally asked, looking up at Guan Yin with a worried look on his face. Worry which was reassured by her smile.
“I’ve already lined up a few candidates in the city to raise and care for him,” she said. “For now, the powers within him are mostly dormant, so he’ll be safe. But as I said, they will grow and most likely develop with him until they awaken fully… and when that time comes, well…” she paused to let her smile growl. “He’ll need a teacher.”
Wukong’s tail wagged of it’s own free will, and he smirked proudly, chest puffing out a bit.
“I… think I follow,” he said coyly. “You want me to keep an eye on him until he’s ready to learn how to use his powers.”
“If you’re up to the task, that is.” Guan Yin said just as coyly, raising an eyebrow playfully at him. Wukong crossed his arms over his puffed out chest.
“Well of course I am! I’m not called the Great Sage, Equal to Heaven, for nothing!” he said, having to quiet himself when he realized he was almost exclaiming so loudly that he could have woken the infant in Guan Yin’s arms, whom he then smiled down at. “Besides,” he said, gently poking the pudgy little cheek. “Might be fun, having a worthy successor…”
“Successor, hm?” Guan Yin asked with a chuckle. “My, you have gotten attached.”
“Well…” Wukong felt his cheeks warm into a blush, and he rubbed the back of his head. “Maybe just a little…”
Guan Yin’s smile faded briefly as she looked over her shoulder, out the door as the sun began to truly crawl higher into the sky, and Wukong felt his tail droop, knowing exactly what she was about to say as she turned back to him.
“I should go. The city will be stirring soon, and I should slip him to his new guardians before the noise of traffic sets in...”
“If you’re planning on doing the whole, leaving him on the doorstep thing, I wouldn’t worry about the noise of traffic drowning him out when he cries.” Wukong joked. “Kid’s got a set of lungs on him to boot.”
“Oh Wukong, don’t be silly.”
“I’m not. I am being the epitome of seriousness!”
Guan Yin hid a giggle behind the back of her hand briefly before straightening out her expression and clearing her throat. Wukong couldn’t help but smirk in a tiny sense of victory, knowing he could make a usually serious, but kindly faced goddess laugh, even a little.
“In that case,” she said. “I expect you to train the child well, when the time comes. And to look in on him every now and again. Since, as you say, he is your successor now, after all.”
Wukong folded his hands in front of him and bowed. He didn’t have to promise her anything. He knew deep down that she knew he’d probably look in on the kid regardless. And he honestly looked forward to the idea of training him, watching him grow, seeing how the kid turned out… he wasn’t sure what to call this sensation of excitement, but it made his chest feel tight and warm.
He frowned a bit, watching as Guan Yin turned to leave again, heading to the temple door with Xiaotian in her arms. He knew it wasn’t really goodbye, but he couldn’t help a slight sting at not saying it all the same. He hopped off the edge of the couch, eyes landing on the Monkey King doll he’d sort of lent to Xiaotian to keep him from accidentally smothering one of the little monkeys while he slept, and he snatched it up. He caught up to Guan Yin, who seemed to sense his haste to meet her at the door and stopped, turning and lowering the infant down, giving Wukong a knowing look.
Wukong tucked the doll gently into the blankets with Xiaotian, smiling as he watched him snuggle it instantly, then fondly pat the wad off dark hair atop the child’s head.
“I’ll see you soon, kid,” he said. “I promise.”
With those final words, Guan Yin alighted onto her lotus platform, sitting down on it gracefully and giving Wukong a farewell bow, which he returned, before taking to the air. He was tempted to follow, to see exactly where she was taking the kid, but he was honestly very tired. He slept badly… well, not badly, exactly. Not in a way he regretted… but now, he was just tired. He needed some rest.
Maybe it was about time he retired.
He’d know for sure when Xiaotian grew up. And oh, he had so many ideas in his head, ways he could test him, train him, make sure he was really ready to be his successor. But for now, that would have to wait. For now, he’d just keep an eye on the kid…
And that, he certainly looked forward to.
Wukong made sure to be there as often as he could for Xiaotian, watching him as he grew. Watching nearly every move he made.
Day by day, he saw more and more of himself in the kid.
And day by day, he grew more and more proud of that fact.
He watched as the kid listened to one of his father figures tell him stories about him, and unsurprisingly the kid became what one could call a fanatic as he grew older. He was even planning to write some kind of unauthorized auto-biography, or so he said.
He watched as the pig taught him how to cook, make deliveries, shout at him, but also show his softer side to the kid. The pig definitely may have been gruff, but he cared. Made good noodles too.
He even got to see the kid make his first, and probably best friend for life. A descendant of Bai Longma, in fact, though she wasn’t nearly as stuffy as that old horse was. She seemed fun! And more importantly she seemed protective of the kid. Like scary protective. Dragons could be plenty scary when they were being protective of someone they cared about…
He was so proud of the kid--or rather, MK, as he liked to be called now--and how far he’d come, even by his young age. And so proud of how much like him he saw the kid becoming; excitable, fun loving, curious, a little mischievous, and most importantly impulsive but with good intentions. That part of Wukong hadn’t come until later years, so he felt a sort of… personal pride, when he saw that in MK.
And he knew it wouldn’t be long before the time was right to officially make the kid his successor. He’d noticed things starting to stir on his frequent visits to the city, activity by a certain family of demons no less, and ironically, he started preparing to set his own plan in motion by using theirs. It would be risky, but he planned to be there if anything went wrong…
But nothing would go wrong. The kid could handle it.
The kid was perfect.
A perfect miracle.
I want to just say I truly and wholeheartedly appreciate all the wonderful feedback I've gotten on this story, and I'm so glad you all enjoyed it!
Thank you so much for reading!