Disclaimer: "Gensomaden Saiyuki, Saiyuki: Reload, Saiyuki: Gaiden" and all of its characters were created by Kazuya Minekura. They belong to her and were used without prior permission. No profit is made through this story.

Author's note: English isn't my first language, and most of this story isn't betaed yet. I apologize for any inconveniences caused by this.

Constructive criticism, feedback and flames (directed at the story) are welcome. However, if you flame me as a person, I'll send Gyoukumen after you. You have been warned.

This story was inspired by seeing too many of Kazuya Minekura's drawings of the guys in shackles or handcuffs, and a particular Sanzo-scene from the first season Gensoumaden series opening.

Warning: This story is not shonen-ai, Boy's Love, Yaoi or slash. It's also not a story that will lead to any of them becoming lovers after the story. Thanks for accepting this.

Extra warning: This story contains violence and bad language. It also has mentioning of sexual violence. It does and will not contain explicit material, citrus, lemon or other adult fruits.

Plus, there are mentionings of undressed people, slavery, chains and shackles.

The rating R is mostly to be on the safe side, because of the mentioned sexual violence. Proceed at your own risk.


Imperfection Amalgamated

a Saiyuki Alternate Universe
by Birgit 'Lee' Kohls

Part 1: Slaves of Fate

June 2004

Prologue

"Sanzo-sama," Hakkai whispered. He elegantly bowed over his master's shoulder, always careful to avoid physical contact. "The manager says that he can't give you any further credit unless you'll give the Casino owner what he wants."

Genjo Sanzo contemplated his options for a moment. If he bowed out now, he would be left with nothing, forced back to the streets by the river where his adoptive father had fished him out of the water as a child. Koumyou Sanzo, or rather, what was left of him after seven years of decay, was probably turning in his grave right now.

On the other hand, the game looked much more promising than most of the lousy hands dealt to him in the past hour. All he needed was to keep his calm, and his excellent assembly of cards would win back for him everything he had lost. Unfortunately, his opponent didn't show any weaknesses and seemed to have Lady Luck on his side to boot. Sanzo barely had enough chips left to make it beyond the opening bet. Konchen, the Casino's owner, used this to his advantage, and the interest he charged was immense.

"Are you a shark, or a fish, Genjo Sanzo?" Lord Kougaiji's teasing voice snapped him back to reality. "Why don't you bet the pot and risk something instead of betting like a scared housewife?"

With a low growl, Sanzo put out his cigarette, scribbled something on a sheet of paper and handed it to Hakkai. "Give this to the manager. It should be more than enough to keep me in the game."

Hakkai's eyes widened when he read the short note. "B-but, master! You can't possibly-"

"Shut up," Sanzo snapped. "I know what I'm doing."

"Yes, master."

Hakkai vanished in the crowd that had gathered around the poker table, and Sanzo wondered how long it would take for his slave to inform the other two remaining slave in his possession about what was at stake. A few minutes passed, then his green-eyed property returned with a reasonable amount of chips. As Sanzo had expected, Hakkai also had Goku and Gojyo in tow, both of which looking equally upset. He nonchalantly ignored them and focused his attention on Lord Kougaiji and the game. There was no turning back now - it was either win or lose everything.

'I'm not exactly a fitting candidate for the honorable title of Sanzo, am I?' Genjo Sanzo felt the cotton of his sleeveless, tight black shirt stick to his skin, felt the wetness that soaked from his back and arm pits through the fabric. Had Kougaiji smelled his anxiety? If it wasn't for the thick, white and long sleeved heavy silken robe, his sweat drenched state would've been plain for everyone's sight.

Konchen's immoral demand was the final blow in a long line of insults that had accompanied the thorough humiliation Sanzo had to endure all evening, with the absolute highlight of which in the worst losing streak he had ever experienced. However, the bad luck in his occasional gambling didn't just cost him money. A few months ago, he had gambled away the inheritance with which his adoptive father had endowed him in a single night of high-stakes Mah-jongg, and in the end even his countryside estate with all of its slaves had changed owners. The only things left in his possession were some clothing, a handful of personal mementos and the three slaves that served as his personal bodyguards.

He was forced to live in a hotel room ever since. Not only was it a matter of personal annoyance, because he had to share the rather limited space with said slaves, but it also strained the remaining funds that had vanished faster than an ice chip on a sunny day.

Of course Sanzo was used to having people around him, but two out of his three slaves had only come into his possession shortly before his losing streak had begun. Unfortunately, he liked his new bodyguards about as much as they liked him – which was, not at all. Gojyo, in particular, posed a problem. 'Maybe it's true what they say about half-breeds attracting bad luck.' Living in the same small hotel room for an extended period of time was remarkably hellish, even without noting that the meager furnishings only included two king-sized beds. And that he had to share a bed with a slave was equally an insult as it was embarrassing.

The fact that Sanzo had lost almost all of his property assets had wreaked havoc upon his reputation. Long-time friends quickly became scarce, waiting opportunities were suddenly closed off to him, and he could no longer find a bank willing to give him credit. All of his hopes for the future were riding on tonight's round of poker. Unfortunately, he hadn't even had enough money to pay the fee to enter the game. So he had made a deal with the Casino owner, had put up his slaves as payment with the intention to win everything back he had lost, unbeknownst to the prospective prizes.

x

Tension filled the room, its liquid intensity suffocating the watchers of the unfolding game. Hakkai, Gojyo and Goku had gathered behind Genjo Sanzo, and it was quite clear what was going on in their minds. The young slaves stood out from the rest of the onlookers, their matching dark blue cotton suits marked with the embroiled crest of his household on the left chest pocket. The thin, identical golden cuff each of them wore around their left wrist looked more like a piece of jewelry than the sign of their slave status.

"What does the idiot think he's doing?" Gojyo hissed, watching how his master shoved the rest of his chips to center of the table. To him, Genjo Sanzo was nothing but a spoiled-rotten, arrogant 20-year-old brat who deserved all the punishment the world could dish out for what he had done. Still, Sanzo had treated them decently, and if what Hakkai said was true…

"Don't call Sanzo-sama an idiot," Goku growled, but it was clear that he didn't like the situation, either.

"If someone's gambling everything away, he's an idiot," Gojyo insisted. "Have you any idea how much he has lost already?"

Goku winced. His hand were clenched in anger, but Gojyo could tell that the kid was not willing to accept the undeniable truth about his master. "Yes, but…"

"No 'but'," Gojyo snapped, earning him a few surprised stares from other spectators. Realizing that he caused a commotion, he continued in a lower volume: "That deed will make him a slave if he loses."

"When he loses," Hakkai corrected calmly, his eyes trained on Sanzo's back.

"What do you mean, 'when'?' Gojyo stared at his green eyes friend in complete and utter shock. "That's a Royal Flush he has on his hand."

Goku nodded in agreement, but his youthful face had lost all color. "Sanzo-sama wouldn't take such risks with us."

"Just like he didn't take a risk with the estate? You know how he is when you push the right buttons." Hakkai's smile froze as he fought off a wave of pain that his PunTag projected into random parts of his body. "Sanzo-sama's going to lose."

x

"You've got to be kidding. That's not even half of what you'll need to call. Why don't you give up already and go home?" Lord Kougaiji had raised once again to deliver the death blow. Cool as a fish and his voice smooth as silk, he left no doubt that he considered himself superior. "It's past midnight for you, Cinderella."

Instinctively, Sanzo reached for his Smith & Wesson to make the offender pay dearly. A sharp gasp went through the crowd when he pointed it at Kougaiji. "I'll kill you."

The demon lord wasn't the slightest bit fazed by the threat. "Oh, really? I'm so scared, human weakling. Now, what will it be... Call or fold?"

After a few moments of hesitation, Sanzo placed the small gun on the pile and fished a scroll from the inside of his robes. He also added the golden coronet, that was the sign of his rank as a nobleman, to the stacks of chips. "This is all I have left."

Kougaiji examined the items briefly, then gave a small whistle. "Your Sanzo-coronet, the Ma-Ten sutra and an exterminator gun?"

"Yes. Do you accept them instead of chips?"

Droplets of sweat trickled down Sanzo's face, and his opponent nodded with a satisfied expression like the proverbial cat that had just ripped the canary to shreds.

"Of course. So you put your title on the line as well?"

"Nonsense. It's just a stupid symbol, anyway." With a self secure smirk and an arrogant glow in his violet eyes, Sanzo presented what he knew had to be a winning hand. "Royal Flush, all clubs. You lose, demon trash."

"Strange..." Kougaiji grinned. "And here I thought I was winning."

The spade-suit Royal Flush lined up on Kougaiji's side of the valuable pile, and Sanzo stared at them mouth open and eyes wide 'This... can't be happening. I... I lost.' Utter denial lessened to disbelief, and finally he was able to choke out, "Congrats."

He walked out of the room with a force air of confidence, not even noticing that he was followed until he reached the balcony. 'Lost. I lost it all.'

"What have you done, idiot?"

"Shut up, Gojyo. Can't you see that Sanzo-sama isn't doing very well?"

His slaves, no, ex-slaves, had gathered around him like good bodyguards should do. 'I'm one of them now, aren't I? Just another slave. Just like them.'

Sanzo shook a cigarette out of the package and lit it with trembling hands. 'I'm sorry, father.' He dragged in the smoke as if it could fill the aching emptiness inside. 'I've failed you again

"Genjyo Sanzo? Ah, there you are."

The Casino owner's voice pierced through Sanzo's dark thoughts. He had brought back-up, Casino security guards, Sanzo noticed, as if he expected him to break his word. "Did you come to collect, Konchen?"

"Why, yes, Sanzo. It's not every day that I get my hands on a slave who caused my family such great pains, you know."

"Sanzo-sama? He's lying, isn't he? You didn't mean what you wrote on that paper."

Konchen came closer and grabbed Sanzo by the collar. Goku tensed, ready to spring into action should his master demand his help, but the order never came.

"I'm standing by my word. These three and myself," Sanzo's usual pale face drained of the last bit of colour as he willingly surrendered his freedom. "We are yours... Master."

xXx

Three years later...

Kougaiji watched as Nii, his family's head of slave overseers, herded yet another batch of slaves into a huge tent. The new arrivals were his father's latest purchases - Kougaiji himself had come to the east of Tougenkyo mostly for sightseeing reasons and to check up on both business and personal contacts.

"Is that all?" he wanted to know. He had accompanied his father's slave treks before and knew out of experience that big groups meant big trouble, and the logistics were only the smallest part of the problem.

"Yes, Sire," Nii checked his list. "Only two hundred twenty-five this time. We should have a fast journey."

"Good," Kougaiji said. Before he could continue, four male slaves chained together were dragged into view by a well dressed woman.

"My name is Sen Hikara. Would one of you gentlemen happen to know where I can find Lord Kougaiji?" she asked.

"I'm Kougaiji."

"Lord Kougaiji." She smiled politely and bowed. "Master Konchen sends me with your winnings from last night, and the Casino Escort Service from Cha'ang City has prepared a gift to make up for the unfortunate incident of three days ago."

It took Kougaiji a moment to recall that he had, indeed, won more than just money yesterday. But he didn't know anything about Escort Service incidents. Unless… "Doku!"

"Yes, Kou?" Meat bun in hand, Dokugakuji paused his chewing and came over from the tent's entrance.

"You would not by chance happen know what could cause the Casino Escort Service to send compensation?"

Dokugakuji almost dropped his snack and shot him a guilty look before blushing furiously. "Uh… I... Yaone… And… It was an accident…"

"Tell me later," Kougaiji couldn't help but smile. Then he gave his new property a closer look. The slaves were in acceptable shape, he could tell that much. The youngest and the one with the green eyes both wore limiters. 'Demons.'

"Goku and Hakkai. Hakkai's from the Escort Service and is also a qualified driver," Miss Sen explained. "Hakkai comes complete with a hakuryuu he tamed, but I thought it would be best to leave it behind in the truck for now."

Kougaiji frowned when he saw the PunTag on the green eyed man's right temple. "You're Hakkai?"

"Yes, master."

Hakkai had a quiet and pleasant voice and kept his eyes downcast, quite fitting for the docile personality he presented on first sight. It also was a known fact that hakuryuus chose very carefully who they served, so for this guy to be the driver would mean he couldn't be too bad a person. But Kougaiji knew that first impressions could be wrong, especially when it came to slaves who wore a punishment device. "One of your previous owners gave you that PunTag?"

"No, master."

"Oh," Kougaiji made, not really surprised. "You're a violent criminal, then?"

"Yes, master."

Of course, the Escort Service wouldn't want a murderer in their midst. You never knew what would happen should the PunTag malfunction. Kougaiji turned his attention to the younger slave. "Goku?"

"Master," Goku responded automatically, enduring his owner's superficial inspection of his body until his stomach growled loudly.

"Hungry?" Dokugakuji wanted to know.

"I'm sorry. It's just growls. I'm not hungry."

"Really?" Kougaiji's personal sword master waved the fresh meat bun under the kid's nose, and Kougaiji suppressed a grin. It didn't need an expert to see that the young slave was trying hard not to drool, but the starved look in his eyes was as impossible to hide as the loud rumbling of a hungry stomach.

"I'm not hungry, sir," the young slave insisted, his cheeks slightly reddened in embarrassment.

"Stop being mean and give him the bun already, Doku."

Goku accepted the food without hesitation. "Thank you, master."

Kougaiji was quite pleased. The kid would make an excellent addition to his guards. Friendly golden eyes sparkled in the sun, but different from Hakkai, the friendliness wasn't forced. That little one was a fighter, full of energy and with an unbroken spirit.

The third man was clearly a taboo child with his crimson hair, and there was spunk in his equally crimson eyes. "Your name...?"

"Gojyo... master."

Maybe he should reject the half-breed. Everything about Gojyo screamed troublemaker, and considering that he was nothing but property, he held himself with the aloofness of a man who hadn't given up on his freedom just yet.

"He's half-kappa and is part of the compensation from the Escort Service, Lord Kougaiji," Miss Sen tossed in. "According to the manager, the customers were always pleased with his... service."

"I don't have use for a sex toy."

"Accept him," Dokugakuji whispered, and Kougaiji shot his right-hand man a surprised look.

"Doku..."

"Please, Kou. Just do it."

"You're lucky, Gojyo," Kougaiji barely considered the slave worthy of a side glance. "My sword master likes you."

"Yes, master," Gojyo made a little bow. He had obviously followed the exchange with interest, and the defiant look had been replaced by a carefully guarded one. 'Very strange.' There was something more going on here than met the eyes, but he could tell that whatever the reasons, Doku would tell him when he was ready. 'A criminal, a kid and a love slave... What's next, a lap dog?'

Well, the fourth slave indeed had a slight, almost feminine built. Long blond hair reached down to the neck, hiding his features, and the wide, white robe that served as clothing had seen better days. He shied away when Kougaiji reached for him to get a better look at the man's face, but in the end allowed his new master to brush away the offending hair. Drooping, violet eyes stared at a point beyond the horizon, and the young man sported a nasty bruise around his left eye. "Who hit you? Is this Konchen's doing?"

"No, master. I fell."

"You fell? Of course... I just want to know into whose fist!" Next to the blond, Gojyo was too late in hiding a satisfied smirk from Kougaiji. So the kappa knew something, or maybe even was responsible for the injury? It was yet another reason to turn down the half breed, but then, Doku rarely asked for favours to begin with. If the red head was too much of a hassle, they could still sell him later on. "I won't accept damaged goods, Miss Sen."

"I assure you he's undamaged, Lord Kougaiji."

"That remains to be seen. Take off your clothes, slave."

The man followed the order without hesitation, his eyes blank as if he had given up on himself a long time ago. The robe slid to the ground. It was followed by a black, skin tight and armless shirt that was a poor condition, and a pair of jeans that had the same colour as the robe and was nothing more but shreds. When the final piece of clothing fell, Kougaiji did a quick inventory of the damage. The criss-cross of scars on the pale skin, at least, was an indicator that the slave had tasted the whip on more than one occasion, but there seemed to be no recent injuries. "I've seen enough. Get dressed again."

"All our slaves are kept in excellent condition, Lord Kougaiji, to guarantee customer satisfaction."

"Customer satisfaction, huh?" There was something vaguely familiar about the man. Blond hair and violet eyes were rare. He was sure he had seen those robes and the red dot on this slave's forehead before, but he couldn't put his finger on it. "What's your name?"

"I have no name. Call me as you wish, master."

The tone was polite and the voice tried to please, but it only managed to convince Kougaiji that this formerly proud individual had been broken thoroughly.

"Your name, slave." Kougaiji grabbed the man's chin. The blond tensed at his touch, a flicker of arrogant anger filling his eyes a split second before all resistance ceased.

"Master Konchen usually calls me 'bitch' or 'pet'."

"I'm not interested in what Konchen calls you. What is your name?"

"I have no name, master," the slave repeated, his violet, expressionless eyes fixed on the ground.

"Don't bullshit me! Your name. Now." Kougaiji's fist smacked hard into the man's face, sending him to the ground in a heap. "Insolent bastard."

From the corner of his vision, he saw how Goku went into an attack position instinctively, and suddenly some pieces of the puzzle snapped together. "You, Goku... do you know his name?"

"Yes, master." Goku eased his stance. "But... he's not called by that name any more."

"Tell me anyway," Kougaiji demanded, his curiosity and annoyance creating a dangerous mix.

"Genjyo Sanzo-sama. But most of the time, everyone just called him Sanzo-sama." Sadness tinged the kid's voice, as if something precious had been lost along with the name and title.

"Miss Sen!" Kougaiji growled. "What's Konchen trying to do? Insult me with this trash?"

"Master Konchen would never dare to insult an important customer like you with bad goods, Lord Kougaiji."

She tried her best to rescue the situation, Kougaiji gave her that much. And it wasn't as if these slaves were completely useless, especially considering the long distance they had to cover between here and Houtou Castle. Well, at least three of them would be of use, but the blond would probably not last too long on the harsh journey. "If he dies of weakness before we reach our destination, I'll hold Konchen personally responsible. Tell him that."

"O-of course, Lord Kougaiji."

"And you," Kougaiji addressed the blond, who was still sitting on the ground with a blank expression. "Get up. You're going to answer to the name 'Genjyo Sanzo' again from now on."

"Yes, master."

"Slaves, I accept you as my property. Serve me well, and you'll have a long life."

His new acquisitions bowed deeply, but Kougaiji knew that they would curse him and their fate soon enough.

"Doku, Nii, see that you add these four to the trek," he ordered before returning his attention to the Casino's messenger. "Miss Sen, I think there is some paperwork left. Let's go to somewhere less busy."


Chapter 1
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