halfblinded: (Default)
Content warnings for: (consensual) incest, violence, murder, rape, suicide and suicidal ideation, eye trauma


OUT OF CHARACTER:

Name/Handle: Sylvia Viridian
Contact: [plurk.com profile] Renegade_one, [personal profile] sylviaviridian, sylviaviridian@gmail.com, sylviaviridian on AIM
Reference: Saffy!
Other characters: None

IN-CHARACTER:
Character name: Hakkai Cho, in Western order
Character journal: [personal profile] halfblinded
Series name: Saiyuki
Canon notes: Manga only. Canon point is at the end of Reload, after they've managed to drive off Ukoku but before they drag their raggedy asses down the mountain.

Species: (human turned)Youkai

History: Once upon a time, a shy boy from a Catholic orphanage grew up, became a schoolteacher, fell in love, and suffered the tragic loss of his beloved at the hands of demons, upon whom he took his bitter revenge. Later, a Buddhist priest helped him seek absolution for that sin, and he began a new life.

Once upon a time, a strange and cold orphan grew up and began an incestuous relationship with his twin sister, flying into a rage when she was taken from him and slaughtering an entire clan of youkai, down to the last man, woman and child. He would have died un-missed, if a lecherous gambler hadn't found him and patched him up, and later fought to help him evade justice.

As always, the truth lies somewhere between the extremes.

When Cho Gonou was born, he had a twin sister. Their parents divorced when the two were only three years old, and his sister went to live with their father, while Gonou stayed with their mother. The families lost touch, and when Gonou's mother died a few years later, he wound up in a Catholic orphanage. He was a strange, cold child, preferring books over the company of the other children, who shunned him for his intelligence and odd mannerisms, and he grew to believe that he was an incomplete person, that his sister who had been taken from him was an extension of himself, carrying the traits he was missing.

At the age of fifteen, he got into a research college, where he studied theology (despite not actually believing in God) and physics. This is also where he was reunited with his sister Kanan. They didn't even recognize each other at first, since it had been so long – it wasn't until he learned her name that he realized who she was and why he felt so drawn to her. They vowed from that day that nothing would ever separate them again. This was the start of the best portion of Gonou's life.

After the two of them graduated, they moved in together. Gonou got a job in the local village as a schoolteacher, while Kanan stayed home and tried to mind the house. She was terrible at being domestic, but he didn't mind – they were perfectly matched, and anything she had difficulty with, he could teach her. Kanan had a rough and even boyish manner, but a kind heart on the inside, and Gonou loved that about her all the more because she filled the empty place where he felt his own heart lay cold and dormant underneath his pleasant demeanor. At some point along this timeline, the two of them began a sexual relationship as well, and in fact the townsfolk were unaware that they were actually brother and sister.

Then, the local demon lord, Hyakugan Maoh, sent word to the village asking for a young woman as a sacrifice. While Gonou was at school, staying late to play with the children, the villagers sent Kanan as the sacrifice, in order to protect the mayor's daughter from the same fate. After all, Gonou was informed when he returned to find his house a shambles, the two of them were orphans. They couldn't possibly understand what it would be like to be forced to sacrifice a family member that way.

Needless to say, Gonou was furious. They had taken Kanan from him again, and at this point it mattered little who 'they' really were – the world itself seemed to him to conspire against the two of them and their devotion. He had no plan, he needed no plan. He killed the villagers who had sent Kanan to the castle, then followed her trail there, tracking the youkai who had taken her over the course of two months' time. When he found them, though he was armed with nothing but a knife, he went through the castle room by room, from top to bottom, killing every youkai he could find, man, woman and child.

At last, exhausted and coated with blood not his own, Gonou found his way down to the cells in the basement of the castle, where Kanan awaited him. But she tearfully informed him that he had arrived too late. Hyakugan Maoh had raped her, and she bore the demon lord's child. Before Gonou could react or protest, she took his knife from him and backed away from the bars, out of his reach. He could do nothing but watch helplessly as she stabbed herself to death.

Gonou was out of his mind with grief and fury and fatigue when the last youkai came upon him, the demon lord's son, Chin Yisou. Yisou wounded him deeply, a terrible gash across his belly, nearly disemboweling him. Then, curious about an old legend he'd heard, of a human who killed a thousand youkai becoming a youkai himself, Yisou spilled his own blood upon the dying Gonou. The transformation was instantaneous, and just as painful as the wound itself. The newly-made youkai Gonou lashed out, killing Yisou, and stumbled out of the castle only to collapse on the road, still bleeding to death.

(somewhere between killing Yisou and collapsing on the road half-dead, he seems to have acquired power limiters that allow him to keep a human form. Canon is not clear on exactly when or how this happened, or indeed why he would stop to do such a thing when he was obviously bleeding to death, but by the next event in this sequence, he looks entirely human.)

But fate was not finished with Cho Gonou. A half-breed demon by the name of Sha Gojyo, coming home from the bar early, stumbled across him. One look at Gonou's eyes before he slipped into unconsciousness made it obvious to Gojyo that the man wanted to die...so Gojyo took him home and sewed him up so that he could ask why that was, and also because Gojyo prides himself on being a contrary asshole. Gonou woke a few days later, to find that Hell looked like a rather drab apartment and smelled of dirty laundry, stale beer, and cigarettes.

He spent the next month recuperating in Gojyo's bed, rather baffled by the fact that he was still alive, and planning out what he should do about that. Looking back, the entire sequence of events seemed like some sort of terrible nightmare, but it was the only reality he had left. He had become a youkai, which he despised, he had failed to save Kanan, and he had killed over a thousand people. It was in this time that he realized that only his body had survived, that Cho Gonou's life was already ended back at the castle, and he should return there to finish the job as soon as he had recovered enough strength to make it all the way.

The time came a little sooner than he would have liked: a priest named Genjyo Sanzo knocked on Gojyo's door, asking after mass-murderer Cho Gonou. While Gojyo delayed him, Gonou stole Sanzo's gun and ran off, begging for just a little more time. He made his way to the castle, but on his way there, he discovered that there was a survivor of the youkai clan.

(warning for squick related to eyes! D: )

The youkai shouted at Gonou, accusing him of killing his brother, and showed as proof his brother's eyes, which Gonou had torn out. This was darkly amusing to Gonou, who realized aloud that he had taken the youkai's family just as the youkai had taken his. If eyes would make up the difference, then that could be settled: he would soon have no more need of his own, and so he gouged out his right eye and threw it at the youkai's feet. He was preparing to do the same with his left when Sanzo and his young ward Goku arrived to stop him.

Goku and Sanzo informed Gonou that dying would be a meaningless sacrifice, only running from his terrible crimes and doing nothing to atone for them. If he died here and now, he would die a murderer and a madman. The youkai charged, then, to strike a final blow, and Gonou shot him dead with Sanzo's gun.

They made their way to the castle, or what remained of it: in the month that had passed, someone or something had burned it to the ground, eliminating Gonou's final chance to say farewell to Kanan or bury her remains. As he kneeled on the ground, completely broken, Gojyo asked Sanzo to read a sutra for the dead. Sanzo informed him that he never read sutras for the dead, only for the living. As Sanzo chanted, then, with the sun rising over them, Cho Gonou and his madness died at last, leaving a nameless youkai behind with his memories, a shell of a man ready to rebuild himself, to accept the weight of the lives he had taken.

Sanzo took him before the Three Heavenly Aspects (Sanbutsushin) to receive judgment from the gods, and, surprisingly, pleaded the case for the murderer to be given a new life, a new identity, and left under Sanzo's own watch. The Sanbutsushin agreed, and Cho Hakkai was named, and freed on probation to begin his new life. A month or so later, after recuperating at the temple from his new injuries and receiving a bionic eye implant to replace the one he'd removed, Hakkai ran into Gojyo at the marketplace, and the two of them became roommates.

They lived together that way, gradually growing used to each other's habits. A couple of months into that timespan, Gojyo got himself into trouble alongside an old friend from the wrong crowd, and Hakkai had to bail him out. After that, they got along somewhat less awkwardly, and by the time three years had passed, they were so close and knew each other so well that they could securely ignore the occasional rumors floating around town that they were more than just friends. In that time, Hakkai grew to accept and even enjoy his new life, simple and fulfilling as it was. Sanzo and Goku visited regularly, Hakkai did his best to instill some kind of elementary education in Goku, and things were generally pleasant and routine. At some point in that time, Hakkai even found himself a pet, a little white dragon who he took home and nursed back to health and was very surprised to learn that it could turn into a car. They named him Jeep, and he became a very useful companion.

Then the Minus Wave hit, spreading outward from the west and driving youkai insane along its path. The Sanbutsushin ordered Sanzo to go and stop it, along with the revival of the demon lord Gyumaoh, and oh by the way take those three with you. So Sanzo, Goku, Hakkai and Gojyo set out for the west, riding along in Jeep. At the point Hakkai is taken from, they've been traveling for a couple years now. They've fought off demons from everyone's pasts, both literal and figurative, including Chin Yisou, who turned out to be not quite as dead as Gonou had left him. They've learned a lot about each other and themselves, their own limitations and how to overcome them, and recently their place in the world...or lack thereof, perhaps. Their most recent battle, with Ukoku Sanzo, the man who started this whole Minus Wave mess, left them barely alive...but in the end, they managed to deal him a grievous blow as well, and force him to retreat.

Personality: The first impression people get upon meeting Hakkai is that he is pleasant, soft-spoken, polite, and generally a very nice person. This is not entirely a lie. The second impression people get about Hakkai, after talking to him a little longer, is that there's something kind of wrong behind that smile of his, like he might be secretly a serial killer. This is also not entirely a lie.

Let me start over.

Hakkai is a nice person. A bit of a neat freak, yes, but he genuinely enjoys cooking and cleaning and generally setting things in order. He finds satisfaction in a job thoroughly done, in a well-ordered house, and in the smiles of his friends as they appreciate his hard work, directly or indirectly. There is nothing as welcome and calming to him as the noisy background chatter of Goku and Gojyo arguing over something ridiculous, and the silent but tangible presence of Sanzo fuming and waiting for the right moment to break up the argument with his paper fan. Hakkai loves his little family more than anything else in the world.

Of course, everyone has a dark side, and Hakkai's dark side is darker than most. He has major control issues stemming from his past and his newly demonic nature – he's only been a youkai for about three years, and he started out absolutely despising them, and himself as a result. He always wears his power limiters so that he appears to be still human, and only removes them if the other option is his friends dying. He is very intelligent, very observant, and very much in control of himself, and as a result of this combination he has some distinctly manipulative tendencies. He takes care to only manipulate people for their own good, but he's well aware that even that is morally gray, and it reminds him that while he may be a nice person, he's not an especially good one.

Following on that, ever since he was a child, as Cho Gonou, much of life came easily to him. Some of that was caused by simply staying within his comfort zone, but there's no question that he's always been extremely intelligent, enough so that it's rare for him to encounter anyone who measures up to him in his areas of expertise. This has always led to a quiet sort of arrogance, and he retains that subtle arrogance even as Hakkai – although he is far more aware now of his failings, he still generally expects to be the smartest, calmest, most sensible person in a given room, and is well aware that he contributes skills that none of the others possess, such as his healing skills, but also cooking, budgeting, cleaning, and generally being able to function like a normal adult in polite society.

As such, he absolutely, completely hates to be outdone in any of the skill sets he considers to be 'his' territory – this actually first manifests in his politeness-judo exchanges with Yaone, but crops up again much later when he exhausts himself overusing his healing abilities on the wounded while Hazel is busy raising the dead. Although his ability is different from Hazel's, and the power source isn't really comparable, it's similar enough that Hakkai feels the need to push his limits rather than allow himself to be shown up.

In another manifestation of that arrogance, although he understands that after all the things he’s done, he has no right to judge anyone else... Hakkai is also a complete snob when it comes to behavior and tastes in the finer things in life. He has no right to judge, but he still does; just silently, with a smile and the understanding that this is just one of the ways in which he's a little flawed. He mostly just patiently accepts the boorishness and poor taste of others, then, so long as they'll continue to accept his flaws as well.

Truly understanding Cho Hakkai, though, means understanding the human who came before him, Cho Gonou. Gonou believed that the only person who truly understood him was himself...and his twin sister Kanan, who he regarded as the other half of himself, stolen from him at a young age. Hakkai has had to learn to be a complete person all on his own. Gonou didn't really care if he hurt other people, since they never seemed to care if they hurt him, either; Hakkai is sick and tired of people being hurt in general, and doesn't want to contribute to it anymore. Gonou couldn't continue living after his sister died, thinking only of how to return to her side and die beside her; it was Hakkai who realized that he was still alive, and dying wouldn't repair the damage he'd done or make anything right at all. More than anything, Gonou believed that he was better, smarter, more deserving of happiness than the people around him, while Hakkai understands that he is as much a sinner as anyone, and more than most. Where Gonou secretly resented the schoolchildren he taught, for their carefree lives that he was never able to have, Hakkai tries to learn from them instead.

Of course, Hakkai is Gonou, or rather what Gonou became, at least in some sense. In another, equally real sense, Gonou is dead, and Hakkai is left to put the pieces of his life together into something better. That's the story Hakkai chooses to follow, most days; and the madness and rage that characterized Gonou's life are, for the most part, things that died with him.

Abilities: Hakkai is a chi-user! He usually fights by throwing around spheres and blasts of life energy from his hands, and can also create near-impenetrable barriers with it. The limitations on the barriers are essentially Hakkai's focus and his inner reserves of energy – it works like pretty much any RPG character's mana pool, and maintaining a continuous barrier against an opposing force drains that energy substantially.

He can also use that same life energy to accelerate a person's natural healing processes, to the point where life-threatening wounds can be closed in minutes. This use seems to be the most draining of all – he can keep fighting for a long time without showing much in the way of ill effects, but healing severe wounds frequently leaves him exhausted, and if he overdoes this he can wind up bedridden for days at a time until he recovers his strength.

A couple notes on things that are less 'supernatural abilities' and more 'weird Hakkai things', but are unusual enough and consistent enough to bear mentioning. Hakkai canonically has phenomenal luck at games which involve an element of chance, as long as nothing truly significant is at stake. He beats card-shark Gojyo at poker over and over when they first meet, tends to win their games of mahjongg, and even if it's something as simple as drawing cards to determine who gets the one bed in the inn, somehow not only does Hakkai manage to draw the highest possible card, but his pet dragon Jeep does as well. He's also capable of drinking utterly ridiculous amounts of alcohol without showing the least sign of impairment.

Augment Skillset: Pilot

Sample: [ A broadcast turns on to show Hakkai smiling warmly at the camera. Although this is nothing unusual, the focused look in his eyes speaks to some purposeful intent. ] Good morning! How is everyone today? Since things have been peaceful for some time now, I thought I would ask about something that's been on my mind for a while now: How many children are there with the fleet? [ His smile widens slightly. ] You see, I was employed as a schoolteacher back home, before I went adventuring, and since our journey seems to have been interrupted for the time being, I thought perhaps I might offer my services in that capacity. [ He raises his hands, palm-forward, as if to ward off imaginary cries of dismay. ] No one's going to force you, of course – but if you're the sort of person who thinks learning is its own reward, come to see me, and we can work out some sort of lesson plan to further your studies while you're here.
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Cho Hakkai

January 2016

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