The snowman's head blew up, leaving the decapitated body slouching against the fence. A second shot caused the midsection and legs to follow the same fate. Quick and efficient, not a drop of energy wasted.

"Whewwww." Gojyo whistled as he clapped Tenpou on the shoulder. "For a second try, that's pretty damn good. You a sharpshooter?"

"It's a pastime." replied Tenpou, watching as Goku scrambled to erect another snowman for him to obliterate. He looked at his hands, the glowing green seeping quietly back into his skin. "Thank you, Gojyo."

For the past hour, the two of them had been teaching Tenpou how to use Hakkai's powers, toppling many a poor snowblob.

"Now close your eyes." instructed the half-breed, taking off his own bandanna and tying it around Tenpou's head. "The monkey's gonna make a whole lot now. I'm not going to tell you how many." At this point, Gojyo lifted six fingers for Goku to see. The boy gave an enthusiastic nod, then went back to work. "When he's finished, I'm gonna take off the blindfold and as fast as you can, blow any snowman you see to hell, okay?"

Tenpou nodded. The sound of packing snow caused him to tilt his head. Yes...a little to the left...perhaps a bit behind....

"No cheating!" Gojyo shouted before clapping his hands over the other's ears.

"Is this really necessary?"

"Yeah. So don't complain." Not that Tenpou could actually hear him by now. So he stood there, shifting uncomfortably. No sight. No hearing. Totally, utterly...vulnerable. He hated it. Nervously, he bit his lip, oblivious to the fact that Gojyo was intently watching him.

The redhead's eyes shifted to Goku. "Oi...saru. Take your time...you know...while your at it...make one over there."

"Here?" Goku inquired, pointing to a spot.

Gojyo shook his head. "Nah. Waaaaaaaaaay over there. And make it...like...eight feet high so it'll be more intimidating."

"Why don't you help some? That'll take forever!" the boy whined.

I know. Hungrily licking his lips, he turned back to Tenpou; called out to his "younger" teammate. "Can't. I'm busy." And so Goku stomped away, heaving armfuls of snow. Now, Gojyo thought, to business.


No answer.



"Your hair's on fire."


Well, can't say I never told him. Who cares if he didn't hear? It was just as useful as talking to a wall. "I know you ain't Hakkai. And that's fine. As long as he gets back all right, you know?"


"You should just know that...you know...I've got nothin against ya, okay?"


"But you should also really know that I'm a horny bastard who doesn't give a damn sometimes."


"Anyway, that's just a disclaimer." Gojyo leaned in closer until their lips just barely, barely grazed each other. Tenpou's breath hitched, his mouth opening in a slight gasp. "Cause I'm gonna kiss ya now." And he did, taking advantage of the other's surprise to slip his tongue in.

"Mh." Hands instantly went up to clutch at Gojyo's vest as Tenpou pulled him in to deepen the kiss until it was almost vicious. Haven't had this...in a very...long time. He lost himself in it, the darkness of the blindfold serving only to further the illusion that this was...

Gojyo pulled away, gasping for air and pressed his forehead against Tenpou's. His hands slid down to the other's waist and squeezed gently. "But I'm not..."

"Doesn't matter." Tenpou said before taking his lips again. Quickly this time. "I'm a horny bastard too. Who just doesn't give a damn sometimes. Besides..." He added between kisses. "I have no doubt...that he's...doing the exact same...thing...to Hakkai. This is only fair."

The half-breed could only laugh, breaking the kiss to tilt Tenpou's chin up, exposing the nice soft flesh of his neck; the cold air and wet butterfly kisses sending shivers up the smaller man's spine. "Baka. You're jealous of yourself." he said, exploring a bit farther up, then finding that spot behind the ear that made the other bite down a moan before losing all aggression and melting into him.

Like that, hm?

"Gods...you must be..." Tenpou almost choked on his own words. "...good at it."

"Understatement of eternity, my little kami." Gojyo teased as he slipped a leg between Tenpou's and nudged...just a little.

"Mmmnh." The god's breath stopped short and he buried his face into the other man's shoulder. "W...We really...really should stop."

"Can't take the heat?"

"Goku's almost finished."

"Eh?" Gojyo looked over Tenpou's shoulder and sure enough, the snowblob's head was being placed on a seven foot tall body. "Holy shit...you were paying attention?"

A blindfolded head tilted to the side in amusement. "You don't know me at all, do you?" At that moment, Goku came running up to the two of them.

"Kaaaay! Finished!" he said proudly.

"Ready?" Gojyo prompted.

Tenpou nodded and ripped off the blindfold.

1. Near the fence. Gone in three shots.

2. Over by the street lamp. Gone in two.

3. Doorway.

4. Garden. Both melted by a shot from each hand.

5. Park entrance. Gone.

6. The chimney. Done.

7. The one with the scowling face....

"Sanzo!" Tenpou grit his teeth...stopped the rushing ball of ki in mid-flight...an inch from Sanzo's nose. The priest hadn't flinched. The god was starting to break into a bit of a sweat. Holding so much energy was difficult. "Um...Sanzo..."


"Could you...please...move." It was starting to slip from him. Closer and closer to the monk...

"Why the hell should I do that?" Sanzo looked straight through the looming green beam of light and right into Tenpou's face.

"Sanzo please...I don't want to..."

"Go ahead. Give me an excuse to shoot you."

Without warning, a screech like a dying hyena's ripped through the wind and a strangely shaped white bird came up behind the blonde. "Sanzo!" He couldn't help it...he let go. And the world was engulfed in bright green as shattered snowflakes fell in sparks around them.

Had he? Could he have...Tenpou blinked and adjusted his eyes.

Sanzo was still standing, teeth clenched and gun halfway raised. His hand was visibly shaking. "How did you..." It had passed right through him, without even touching a single hair...

"Ch' looks like the monk gets scared after all!!" proclaimed Gojyo as he slung an arm around Tenpou's shoulder. "Man, and I thought I would never live to see the day..." A bullet whistled past his ear and into the head of another snow demon.

"Save your breath, asshole! They're coming to get us." Sanzo snarled.

Goku could hardly begin to contain his excitement. "Bring em' on!"


They hissed. The doors and windows burned their hands as they touched. Like animals from the wild put into a circus cage, they went raging about the complex, overturning tables, ripping curtains, and clawing at the walls. Locked into the library, Hakkai contemplated the situation.

Absently, he ignited Tenpou's lighter over and over again, looking into the flames as if the answer to all his troubles resided in that tiny piece of fire.

Chances were fair that he'd get out alive despite the fact that he was now deprived of his powers. There was also the chance that he might not. He lacked anger- and it was anger that drove him to kill those one thousand. For Kanan. But this time it wasn't really for anybody. It was for an "entity" whose goodness he was already beginning to question.

Perhaps he would live. And within several days time, perhaps less, the problem wouldn't be his anymore. It would be Tenpou's. Hakkai could just imagine it...Tenpou waking up and finding himself arrested for breaking the highest sacred law in heaven: he had shed the blood of his own kind.

However inevitable, it seemed rather cruel of him to leave his predecessor with such a mess on his hands.

"Have I taken things too far?" Hakkai asked the air in front of him. "Yes. I think I did."

Oh well.

"Like I said, Heaven deserves its share of heat." He ignited the lighter once more and brought the dancing flame to touch the cover of a single book. "I'm sorry, Tenpou. You must have treasured this little heaven of yours." Dry and dusty, the pages quickly flamed up and spread to the other books of the shelf. 'The Art of War' turned into a heap of cinders, as did 'The Seven Steps of Revolution.'

Hundreds and hundreds of years of war crackled in a gold-orange brilliance, beautiful... their stillness finally becoming un-still; the life contained within the pages realizing itself...as if a spell on the brink of completion had finally heard its magician utter the final chant. Burn burn burn. With satisfaction, Hakkai pushed over the shelf, causing ash to jump and the fire to diffuse from its source.

Hakkai grabbed the oil lamp that stood on his desk and hurled it over Tenpou's bed, liquid fire like molten lava creeping in rivulets over the soft covers. At last he re-lit the lighter and locked it. He opened a desk drawer and dropped the living flame inside.

The heat felt good on his skin. The excess of it breaking the tepid balance of sensation in this unsensaitonal place. And he liked the feel of cold metal against his skin. The excess of it reawakening the part of him that lived for bloodlust. Hakkai unsheathed the sword and headed for the door that lead to the demons' wails and screeches...

Burn them into nothing...so that you cannot even mourn the ashes.

Burn everything into nothing...so you cannot convict me for an act you were too cowardly to commit yourselves.

Burn everything down...and feel the heat from Down Below that you have so ignored.

The heat of karma is very sweet, is it not?


They rained down upon them like locusts, appearing to be a gray smear on the darkening sky. One after another, whenever a youkai was killed there was always another to replace it. Hundreds and hundreds of them...and those that were shattered remade themselves.

"Can't. They. Just. Stay. Dead?" Sanzo spat out between shots.

Gojyo ducked as one swept down to decapitate him. "Hey, monk, don't you have a sutra to take care of things like this? Or are you just waiting until we're totally fucked up?"

"Like trying to swat a fly with a hammer." the priest replied.

It wasn't the same; fighting without Hakkai. He had to watch his back more because...and he hated to admit it so he didn't...Hakkai took it upon himself to ALWAYS be at Sanzo's back. The feeling was as reassuring as having an extra set of his own eyes behind his head- maybe even better because he didn't have to think too much about what was going on beyond his line of vision.

There was no way in Hell that he'd give Tenpou that responsibility.

Energetic shouting over to his far left indicated where Goku was having his fun. Just a bit over the hill must where Gojyo had run off to; the glint of whiplike metal shining through the snow was an assurance that the man was still going at it. Now where was the other idiot?

They were starting to get separated. Not that it worried Sanzo any. Everyone could take care of themselves, but still...if he had his choice of battle scenarios...it wouldn't be anything like this one because:

#1. He was running out of bullets.

#2. He needed bullets.

#3. He needed TIME to load the fucking bullets

Then there was something warm and solid against his back. Green light like fireworks shot in all directions and not a youkai could get within five feet of either of them. He reloaded, as usual taking his dear sweet time. "Mmh. Thanks." Sanzo muttered.

"Am I doing a good job being Hakkai?" Tenpou smiled. It was almost starting to look like a Hakkai smile too.

"I'd give you a 'B+' for effort."

"That's cruel, Sanzo. Is there any way to get extra credit with you?"

The implication was there. Sanzo hadn't missed it, but he pretended to anyway because Hakkai never suggested things of the sort. And when Hakkai came back, he wanted to see Hakkai...and not think of any idiocies of the sort. Especially not THOSE types of idiocies.

No wonder Tenpou and Gojyo had taken to each other.



"If you figure out a way out of this. That's a Hakkai thing to do."

"Really? Why didn't you say so earlier?"

Really, he could have shot him in the head, right then and there. "Spit it out. What do you know?" Sanzo went to shooting again, noting how tired the other man was getting.

"Well...these youkai seem to of a primitive species, their thinking capabilities closer to that of pack animals than of more reasoning creatures. But better to compare them to insects, their existences revolving around the life span of a single queen who reproduces an heir once in a generation. The rest are simply pawns...their energies feeding off hers. And so therefore..."

"We have to kill the queen bee, am I correct?" interjected Sanzo, his patience wearing very very thin.

"You are correct."

"So which one is she?" Sanzo scanned the sky, but it had already gotten dark and all he could discern was the cloud of buzzing youkai...then there...a little ways off was a single youkai hovering in the air emitting a pulsating light from the chest. With the wings of a butterfly, she hovered, her eyes closed in meditation and her mouth moving in an instinctive battle chant- the words of resurrection. Sanzo narrowed his eyes and aimed.

"I'll kill the bitch."


But it hit one of her pawns instead. Another shot. Another pawn. "Fuck." With each bullet, a youkai appeared to block. It was a living shield, easily replaced. "Are you just going to stand there!? Fight like the rest of your kin..." Sanzo taunted. "Or are you so stupid of a beast that you can't even do that?"

That got her attention. "Uh...Sanzo..."


"Perhaps you should have chosen a more...how shall I say...tactful way to go about the situation." Tenpou pressed closer. The youkai had stopped in mid-flight and were simply hovering there...hollow ice blue eyes that stared into nothing...limbs that hung limply...like forgotten puppets...

"What's done is done."

...and the queen stopped her chant, turned towards the two men, and opened her eyes...black and blue and gold whirlpools; tantalizing and seductive...they pulled....tugged at their minds... 'so cold'...they said... 'so tired'....they said... 'so still' the bewitching orbs called out...And Sanzo's body suddenly felt so...so...

"Sanzo!" Tenpou clapped a hand over Sanzo's eyes.

"Tenpou, get off!"

"Don't look at her. She's a...a...gorgon!"

The feeling that was there before was suddenly shattered. Only then did he sense that the fringes of his robe were solid ice. "A what?"

The chanting resumed; this time undulating and less hectic, causing the violent winds around them to cease completely. The air died and an absolute stillness fell down upon them with the shock of thunder.

"A medusa. If you look into her eyes, you'll turn into ice." Tenpou murmured, his eyes squinted shut. "And as pretty as you are, I don't think I want to see you as a statue."

Sanzo pushed him off... "Say that again and die."...but before Tenpou could completely back away, the monk grabbed his wrist. "Stay HERE you idiot!"

"I must say though..." Tenpou continued uneasily. "...having my eyes closed whilst surrounded by enemies is an invitation for a quick execution."

"You think that too?" Sanzo retorted sarcastically, his grip on Tenpou's wrist tightening by the second.

The queen's voice changed, omitting an ear-splitting shriek that sent the ground beneath them shaking. Something like a rushing wave could be heard at a distance, getting closer and closer...their legs started to sink into the snow...

"Fuck." Blindly, Sanzo aimed and shot, but to no avail. He had to take the chance...so when he opened his eyes, it was enough to see a tornado ripping its way through the ground towards them.

At its approach, Tenpou followed suit. "Gods..." he gasped. "Sanzo! We have to get out of the snow!"

"No shit!" Having the rest of his body torn from his legs was definitely NOT something he wanted to think about right now...or ever. Dammit, it was hard to think, especially with that hellstorm getting nearer. He almost didn't hear Tenpou speak...stay close to me?...is that what he said?...Then a green bubble began to form around them- close, warm, slightly suffocating, but it melted the snow...the earth was convulsing more as the tornado neared ...or was that him shaking? A strong arm wrapped around his shoulders. A calm voice whispered in his ear. "Trust me. Just stay close, ne?" Like the earth was being severed from his very feet...and then there was total blackness. And then there was nothing.


The blood ran warm over his hands, ran in little rivulets on the floor, little rivers of tainted celestial blood. Hakkai rammed the sword through the gut of his fifteenth, leaving fifteen more. The body fell against him and he shrugged it off. Wet and sticky, the red fluid stuck to his boots as he kicked one corpse to the side, as he swung back and beheaded another one. That's sixteen.

Smoke crept over his head, the fire that he started spreading from its source into other rooms. He checked his shoulder wound. It had reopened, yet he didn't feel it. Another scream, another stab, but this time, Hakkai fell to the ground as well. The room was spinning, suddenly getting colder. He felt a gust of icy wind, his vision going blurry and for a moment...a flash of an instant...he could see the snowy mountain town where he had been...no...not now.... The healer shook his head. Stay here! he scolded himself stubbornly.

In a fit of desperation, Hakkai heaved himself up and impaled two youkai into the wall as if they were butterflies. He didn't bother retrieving the sword. Instead, he picked up a dagger dropped by a fallen enemy, trying to ignore the sound of pouring rain that was echoing in his ears.

Twelve more.

When Tenpou opened his eyes, his gaze was met by two beady blood red jewels ingrained in the head of a small creature...white...with wings...that looked like...

"Kyuu!" Hakuuryuu squeaked.

"Sir?" Tenpou responded.

"Kyuu!" Hakuuryuu replied.

Tenpou paled. "My god..." Goujun...what have you done to yourself?

"Kyuuuuuuuuu!" the little dragon was frantically pulling at his sleeve.

"Okay, okay, I'm up sir...errrr...you." This was certainly one more thing to think about. Tenpou gingerly rubbed his head, not surprised to find a few sore spots. A quick glance at his surroundings told him that the tornado had carried them rather far; maybe a mile or so.

Now where was Toto?

A groan and a curse escaped a pile of snow next to him.

"Ah! There you are. Thought I had lost you." Tenpou said cheerily as he stuck his arm in and hauled the monk out by the collar. Sanzo came out choking and coughing.

"You only wish."

"Now that wouldn't be a very Hakkai thing to do."

"Ch." the monk mumbled. "At least you got our asses out of there in once piece."

Tenpou shrugged. "Your welcome."

They were by the lake now, far from the battle that was still raging farther up the mountain. From the sounds of it- the squeals of dying youkai- Gojyo and Goku hadn't been touched.

"So..." the marshal said, getting up and walking to the edge of the frozen water. "Do you think she's finished with us?" Sanzo followed suit, violet eyes scanning the darkness and finding nothing but the glaring moon.

"Doubt it. She seemed really pissed."

"No thanks to you."

The priest didn't dignify the comment with an answer, nor did Tenpou seem to be expecting one. The kami was too deeply engrossed in the reflection staring back at him lit by moonlight and fireflies. Kneeling, he saw that it was his own- the one with two good eyes, long hair and a labcoat. The fool who thought that he could change heaven by himself.

"An idiotic desire." Tenpou scoffed quietly, unaware of Konzen's reflection staring critically back at him.

"Well you've always been an idiot." shot Sanzo. "You always will be, whether it's this life or the next. Not that I blame you too much. It takes a crapload idiots to take on the jobs we do."

"Touché." the marshal replied with a sad smile, petting the dragon's head as the creature landed on his shoulder to nuzzle him. "At least I won't go alone, right?"

"A wise man never does."

Tenpou laughed, probably more than he should have, but it felt nice and rather silly to be outwitted by a human. Scratch that, it was amazingly ridiculous to be outwitted by Konzen, out of all people!

At that moment, he laughed at everything...That the incredibly dense bureaucrat would become an enlightened priest. That the highest ranking general of the Western Army would become a backwater gambler. That the messiest, most powerful marshal that had ever existed would become housewife obsessed with cleanliness... That his own commander would become his pet...



At that moment, he laughed at fate because fate had a wonderful sense of humor that restored his spirits somewhat; for it meant that heaven's time would come as well. That it would transform into something halfway decent.

Sanzo snorted, "Baka." then went as if to return to where the battle was. He didn't hear the soft beating of wings that loomed overhead, or maybe he thought it was Hakuuryuu because when he heard Tenpou shout out his name, he didn't know what was happening until strong hands pushed him sharply to the side and the god was blown clear across the ice.

"Agh! Damn." Tenpou cursed before attempting to pick himself up. Everything hurt and he only ended up falling again on the ice, the gravity of his condition revealed by the blood he smeared across the shimmering surface. It was so cold...the weight of the weather bringing his very thoughts to a standstill, tempting him to simply close his eyes...

Perhaps he would have done it too, if he hadn't heard the ice crack beneath him.

"Tenpou! Don't move!" Sanzo ordered. He squinted his eyes and looked for her.

There was a pond right outside Tenpou's study; one that was always so still that it was a delicate and perfect mirror of the heaven's flawless sky. He remembered journeying to Under Heaven, simply to get four or five fish to stick in there so that the water would always move, so that it wouldn't be such a perfect mirror of death. Now here he was, on the brink of death, splayed out and frozen, and feeling as feeble as a fish out of water- yet being out of the water would not be a problem for very long, judging on how fast the ice was cracking under his weight. Like breaking glass, it had a nice melody.

A rose scented breeze tickled his skin coming from behind. Above the breeze, he could hear flapping in the darkness. Curious, he thought, why the sweet attention? Then he remembered what sweet attention was from a witch like this one. He was being seasoned up to be eaten. Stricken by paralysis, Tenpou couldn't even conjure up the energy to scream when she dove in his direction.

What a horrible way to die, he repeated to himself pitifully until a gun pierced the ice inches from his body. Sanzo fired again, this time near his feet. Again and again and again...and the cracks in the ice spread...and there was a splash of water as Tenpou fell through...

The god didn't remember much after that, simply a voice that shook the waters, surrounding him in gold light. The dying cry of the witch...and a hand that reached in and grabbed his own...an incantation filtering through the surface and to his ears...and then he heard nothing.


"Tenpou!" he heard Gojyo calling him. "Where the hell are you?"

"Mmmmh..." It was so hot that the possibility hit him that he may have gone to hell, that not even the pretty gold light could save him from the inevitable. Oh. It was one of those, Tenpou contemplated, his eyes remaining closed- one of those effective modes of sub-Under-Heaven torture wherein the victim can still hear the living voice of his lover, friend or whatnot...


...and so adding to the torment, the victim is drenched head to toe in the most disagreeable substance in his eyes...In Tenpou's case: blood, still a bit warm and sticky...which leads to the victim thinking thoughts he never thought before: I really need to shower. It was silly, because there were no showers in hell.

Nevertheless, one cannot crawl up from the depths of purgatory without opening one's eyes and seeing it for oneself. So Tenpou opened his eyes and found that hell looked exactly like heaven except that hell had the stereotypical flames.

...then again, he *could* be in heaven, in his own home which was now transforming into ash as he contemplated absurdities.

...and he should get up, run out, and see what more havoc his doppleganger had committed.

...or what good he had done- and judging from the scarcely identifiable corpses of Kenren's regiment, Hakkai had taken care of things his way and not Tenpou's way and he'd be dammed if nobody figured out the difference already. Regardless, his counterpart deserved a 'thank you' for taking pains to burn the evidence- and a good 'fuck you' for setting himself down to burn with it.

...and he could run and escape.

...and he would, if he could only move.

Kenren found the marshal lying in the midst of gutted bodies. It was a sickening sight that made him want to wretch, but he suppressed the feeling and the alarms going off in his head telling him that Tenpou was one of the gutted. He laid so still.

"Tenp-" he broke off in a fit of cough and got down on his knees to crawl. The entire place was a labyrinth of fire. In the air, ravenous heat prowled and feasted on his lungs. The suicidal bastard, fucking suicidal bastard always doing things alone, always thinking he was alone enough to do suicidal things like this and too dense to know there were always people following him to make sure he was never alone and that he never went alone. Tenpou's fingers moved. He groaned, then stilled.

Blood was smeared all across his face, but Kenren didn't care and kissed him anyway.

The marshal moaned weakly, his head lolling back. "Come on now." Kenren said encouragingly as he gently lifted Tenpou from the carnage. "Anything happens to you, Konzen's gonna have my ass."

"To kick to hell, of course." a voice growled from behind. "Not for anything else." There, Kanzeon's nephew stood, his mouth covered. "Now let's get out of this shithole! You've been in here too long."

"Konzeeeeeeen!" Goku called from down the hall.

"Baka! I told you to stay outside." The blonde registered the scene before him. Goku didn't have to see this. Hell, not even *he* wanted to be around to see this, but he just *had* to go with his idiotic impulses. Messy, golden strands falling about his waist, and amethyst eyes radiating cold fury- even the encroaching flames seemed to make a conscientious effort to avoid him.

"But Konzen..."

"Stay there!" and then to Kenren. "Let's go."

Cautiously, the four made their way to the main entrance, only to be stopped by Goujun who stood there so calmly that he seemed oblivious to the blood, fire, and heat. His critical eyes slowly looked over his wounded marshal- blood soaked with blood not his own. He would be convicted, and Goujun would lose his most effective subordinate.

"Not that way." the dragon king said bluntly before taking the lead and bringing them to the side entrance where a silent pool reflected the bitterness of the entire inferno. "Lay him down there and get him clean, then take him out the back."

"Gettin' your claws dirty?" Kenren remarked.

"Remember your place, Taishou."

"My apologies."

And with that, Goujun left, but not before throwing one of his extra uniforms at Tenpou's feet. There's going to be a lot of paperwork involving this incident. Best get started.

Tenpou finally came to in the midst of all the washing, re-clothing, and general pampering.

"What...what happened?"

Unceremoniously, Konzen dumped a bucketful of water on top of his head.

"Keep saying that and you'll have your position longer."

"No, really, what happened?" he sputtered water.

"You're playing stupid, that's what." the blonde said, the calmness in his voice taking the edge from his words. "Just say it. You started the fire, didn't you?"

"I didn't." Well it was true.

"Of course he didn't." Kenren said, grinning and slinging his arm around the marshal. "He was with me the entire time."

Konzen gracefully arched a brow. "Doing *what* may I ask? I will not allow anything so inappropriate to reach Tentei."


"Down below." added Tenpou with his own secret smile.

"Konzen, what do I do with this?" Goku held up Tenpou's bloodied uniform.

"Toss it into the fire."

A crash shook the ground as the main pillars fell, causing the roof to collapse. This was heaven's first fire, and they all knew that many more would come: hotter and wilder giving way to many a new dawn just as it was doing now. The sunrise was fresh this day.

"Ten-chan, this was in the pocket."

"Oh? Give it here."

Tenpou unfolded the rumpled piece of paper- something that Hakkai had ripped from one of his books. Poetry?

It said:

Saeva Indignatio and the labourer's hire,
The strength that gives our blood and state magnanimity of
its own desire;
Everything that is not God consumed with intellectual fire.


When upon waking, Hakkai saw the fire, he thought nothing, except: 'Perhaps I should leave before the roof collapses.' But there was no roof. There were no walls. There was rain.

His second thought, this time voiced: "Hell's a lot more simple that I'd have expected."

"Well excuse me for giving you a simple life." a voice said behind him where he lay.

Hakkai smiled, then turned to face the half-breed. "Gojyo." Nagging husband.


The green tent stretched over them, the fire revealing five slumbering shadows. In the corner, Goku snored softly with an occasional mumbling about food. "Gyoza...yes...oh... and can I have mu shi also...ow...not enough food...Sanzo." To the other side, Sanzo was...Hakkai noted with amusement...pretending to sleep.

"So you found your way."

"Don't I always?"

"We won't be leaving till tomorrow."


"It started raining right after you..."


"It's weird."

"Not really."


"Heaven is simply trying to put out a fire it can't reach."

Gojyo laughed and ruffled his hair, pulling him close for a chaste and quiet kiss before falling back. It was their first, though it certainly didn't feel like it. "You causing trouble without me?"

"Wouldn't dream of it." Tired. He was still tired. Hakkai closed his eyes.

"So..." Gojyo said, then drifted off.


Perhaps as if to clear his own conscience: "I'm just curious, but...um...did you and Kenren..."

"Go to sleep, Gojyo." And with a smirk, Gojyo did.


This was a good heaven, Tenpou thought as he sprawled himself over the grassy field just outside the holy city. The roughness of the ground beneath his skin, the scent of flowers, the sky that never cried and the breeze that always caressed.

Nothing but being. It was a good heaven.

A shadow fell over him, making the dimness behind his eyelids even dimmer. He squinted them open. Tenpou's gaze was met by two deep blood red jewels gracefully set in a statue of shining white marble and scales.

"Marshal." Goujun greeted impassively.

"Sir?" Tenpou responded, smiling stupidly.

Yes, this was his marshal.

The dragon king waved a handful of documents in front of him. "Paperwork with regards to last week's...incident. I will not do these alone, given that you-"

"I didn't do it."

Goujun shrugged and settled himself down in the grass beside him. "I never said you did, but nevertheless, I will not burden myself with the bureaucracy's inane little protocols more than needed. Therefore I thought it appropriate for you to have your share of the responsibility."

"And so you decide to spend some free time with me? I'm touched."

He ignored the insubordination. In any case, the fire had deprived him of his office. There was no other place to work. "Now I need to know with as much precision as you can muster, the details surrounding the event."

"I'll be as specific as possible."

The report went something like this...

Cause of fire: Toppled lamp.

Casualties: None.

Witnesses: None to speak of.

Suspects should this matter be taken to higher court: The wind, perhaps a cat of sorts.

Solicitation: Request the building materials and laborers necessary to reconstruct the Western Army's main building.


Konzen looked at the report and scoffed. "The idiot."

Then he stamped the document: APPROVED.