Disclaimer: I don't own Saiyuki. Nor am I likely to in the near future. Although I'm on the hunt for manga...

Warning: Mindscrews. Gen.

Welcome to Tenpou month, everybody!

I feel that some explanation is in order. About a month ago, I was poking my nose around--not sure where, actually. Fleeting Fancies, maybe. The webstress had posted a conversation she'd had bemoaning the glaring discrepancies between Saiyuki and Journey West. I had a reaction to that, which I had to post,

(The 9/5 entry at www. site-bg .com /nightfall /blitherings. html )

and in the middle of that, this story happened.



by Nightfall


"All right, so I'm dead," he said, perhaps a little waspishly. It had been a long day. Month. Life. "Who am I -now -?"

"Hereafter," the kindly, womanly looking Sanbutsushin announced, "you will be known as Cho Hakkai."

Next to him, Sanzo nodded. Thoughtfully? Approving? The youkai couldn't tell. He was too busy being horrified.

"Aha. Ha," he said. "Your Holinesses are pleased to joke?"

The three of them exchanged a look. "Genjo Sanzo," the androgynous one whose eyes had been closed until then said, "leave us."

Sanzo raised an affronted eyebrow, but obeyed.

-Genjo- Sanzo. It was worse than he'd thought. If possible. Also, he'd just lost his only ally.

"Dammit," the androgynous one grumbled as soon as the great doors were closed. "I told hir it was a bad idea. I -told- hir he'd figure it out."

"We all told hir," the womanly head comforted hir. "You know Kanzeon. Even Jiroshin can't control hir."

"Why couldn't it have been Kenren?"

"Ha," the masculine one said gloomily. "As if."

"Excuse me," the youkai interrupted tightly. "It's only that--well, I could overlook a Sha Gojyo and dismiss a Son Goku as coincidence, since he shows no particular inclination to turn his hair into things, but, you see, when the Sanzo I meet is named Genjo and the gods name me Hakkai..."

"Yes?" the androgynous one sighed, looking as though se wished se had fingers to pinch the bridge of hir nose with.

"It happens," he said grimly, "that I had Xuanzang's account of his journey memorized by the age of twelve."

"What fumbling lunatic let him get born into a town with a library?" the androgynous one groaned.

"I doubt it would have mattered," the masculine one sighed. "This is Tenpou, after all." The three heads bobbed glumly. Surreal.

"Well, if it isn't a coincidence," the youkai pushed on obstinately, "I would like to know -what in the nine hells is going on!- And what does this Tenpou have to do with me?"

They bobbed closer in uneasy conference. Not wanting to see the insides of their necks, the youkai closed his eyes and swallowed. When they parted, the womanly one smiled sweetly at him and said, "Cho Hakkai, the gods command you to drop it."

He considered this for a moment. "Unlikely," was his verdict.

"Drop it!" the androgynous one ordered.

"Excuse me," he said, annoyed, "but this unworthy person's name is Boar, not Dog. He who was twice my namesake--I could consider it a joke from my mother, but not from Your Holinesses--was no sooner named but he spent fourteen years on the road to India, on foot, fighting off demons all the way. I am not sufficiently grateful to Your Holinesses for the continued pulse that separates me from my beloved to accept that fate without question."

"...You get breathing space," the womanly one said apologetically.

"And transport," the masculine one assured him brightly.

"And a shiny new rake!" the androgynous one beamed.

He looked down at his hands doubtfully. There were four patches of callous on his fingertips where he held his inkbrush, one below the first knuckle on his second finger where he held his chopsticks and his pen, and a mat of healing blisters on that palm from his knife. "Unlikely," he decided.

"I knew he was going to be difficult," the androgynous one groaned.

"Here's an idea," the womanly one suggested brightly. "Let's wipe his memory and start over. We can call him Fido!"

A phone rang outside while the youkai was choking on alarm. A moment later, a shaven-headed monk came in, bowed before the Sanbutsushin, and said, "At the behest of the Bodhisattva, Kanzeon Bosatsu, Overlord of Compassion and--"


"I am instructed to say in Hir voice to the--"


"Your Holinesses, se says, 'I heard that.'" He bowed and retreated.

"Not Fido, then," the androgynous one grumbled. "Well, we can still start again, anyway."

Alarmed, the youkai asked "What exactly does that--"


"All right, so I'm dead," the youkai said. "Who am I -now?- And where did Sanzo go?"

"Never mind that," the kindly, womanly looking floating head said. "Hereafter, you will be known as Cho Hakkai."

"Aha. Ha," he said, horrified. "Your Holinesses are pleased to joke?"

"Oh, in the name of the Emperor," the masculine-looking one groaned.

"Well, what did you expect?" the androgynous one scowled. "It's -Tenpou.-"

"True," Masculine grimaced. "Well, let's try again."

"Try what again?"


"All right, so I'm--um, forgive me for asking, but where did Sanzo go?"

"Never mind him. Your new name is Cho Hakkai."

"Aha. Ha," he said, horrified. "Your Holinesses are pleased to joke?"

"No," the androgynous one hissed, looking as though se had a headache. "We're not."

He looked up at them beseechingly, and met with three very annoyed heavenly glares. He made a face. "Well," he sighed, "I'm not fighting with a rake."


He looked up at them beseechingly, and met with three very annoyed heavenly glares. He made a face. "Well," he sighed, "I'm not fighting with a rake."


"Your new name is Cho Hakkai, and it comes with a shiny new battle rake!"

He pursed his lips and raised his eyebrows. "Your Holinesses are pleased to joke with their humble servant?"

"Not really..."

"Oh, just try again."

"Try -what- a--"


Hakkai made a face. "Well," he sighed, "I'm not fighting with a rake."

"Why not, pray tell?" the womanly one asked tightly, her eyes squeezed shut.

"I've never even picked one up before, for one thing."

"Easily remedied," the masculine one rumbled. "You have enough time to learn before we need you."

"I'm not fighting with a rake," he said stubbornly.

"But it's traditional!"

"It's clumsy."


"Allow me to inform you that if you think I'm going to try and kill things with a rake..."


"I'm not carrying a farm implement around."


"It was extremely kind of Your Holinesses' servants to fix my eye--I'd hate to waste their effort by poking out the other one."


"But it's traditional!"

"I'm not accustomed weapons with leverage."


"I appreciate that my namesake was a representative of the common man, but if you wanted to uphold that tradition in this manner, was it efficient to pick a schoolteacher rather than another farmer to succeed him?"


"It's -messy.-"

"Listen, youkai..."

"Oh, devoutly, your Holinesses, and with my full attention."

"...Forget it," the androgynous one sighed. "That's the look he had before he bitchslapped Litouten."




"What exactly do you have against rakes? Really."

"Well," he said carefully--but courteously, since Womanly was asking politely. "It's not so much rakes as weapons in general. Unless Your Holinesses -want- me to go berserker and end up in front of you again."

"...Good point," Masculine sighed.

"Why," Androgynous wailed, "couldn't he have said that an hour ago?"

Hakkai raised an eyebrow at hir in astonishment. "During the -trial?-" he asked. "Whatever for?"

"Recess," Masculine said firmly. "We can start again after lunch."


"Hereafter, you will be known as Cho Hakkai."

"Aha. Ha," he said, horrified. "Your Holinesses are pleased to joke?"

"Unfortunately not," the womanly one said sympathetically. "But don't worry, we won't ask you to do anything silly like fighting demons with a rake."

"I should hope not," he murmured, his pulse beginning to calm. Maybe it was just a coincidence?

"Of course not," Androgynous smiled. "We're entirely willing to take your own experience into account. Tell us, with what form of martial art are you familiar?"

"Um," he said dubiously, his shoulders drooping. Not a coincidence, then. "Does Tai Chi count?"



"Of course not," Androgynous smiled. "You'll be learning judo and qigong techniques to supplement your martial arts training."

"Oh, I see," he said glumly. Not a coincidence after all, then.

"And of course you can learn how to dodge from Genjo Sanzo."

"...Forgive my asking, your Holinesses, but did someone turn on the air conditioner? And why are the windows getting dark? Is it an eclipse?"




"Well, this is a very nice jacket..."


"...And since the temperature has shot down so abruptly, please don't think me ungrateful..."


"I was just wondering where it came from."


"And of course you can learn how to dodge from Genjo Sanzo."

"Forgive my asking, your Holinesses, but what will I need these techniques for?"

"Oh, we'll have some errands for you to do," Androgynous said evasively.

Hakkai's eyes narrowed. "Errands of a length of, oh, fourteen years or so?" he asked suspiciously. "In the company of a water youkai, a Buddhist monk, and a stone monkey, perhaps?"

"I told you to make him forget Xuanzang!"

"I tried!"

"To make me do -what?"-


"Errands of a length of, oh, fourteen years?" he asked suspiciously.

"And what if they did turn out to be so long, Cho Hakkai?" Masculine interrupted in a bullying sort of way.

Hakkai's eyes narrowed. "I would request transportation," he said uncompromisingly. It wasn't as though he had any other purpose in life anymore, but he wasn't walking to India. Not a chance.

"Oh, well, of course," Masculine said, sounding relieved and settling back. "That's understood."

"Not a horse," he added firmly.


"I hope your Holinesses don't intend that transportation to be a--"


"Absolutely not."


"May I refer Your Holinesses to a psychiatrist of my acquaintance?"


"No, I don't think so."


"A horse won't do, Your Holinesses."

"And," Womanly asked, looking as though she were hanging onto her patience with both invisible hands, "why not?"

"Because," he said reasonably, "I take it from the confluence of names that I would have company on the trip. Which means three of us would always be walking, assuming we didn't just use it for supplies. If there's any reason to go so slowly, I would be pleased to know what it is. In any case," he added more lightly, "Sanzo would insist on using it, and Gojyo would be most displeased."

"Kenren can go--"

"Now, wait a minute," Womanly soothed hir. "Unwilling agents can cause a lot of trouble."

"Fine," Androgynous sighed. "I think we can arrange something, Cho Hakkai."

"I'm very pleased to hear it," he bowed. "May I be permitted a question?"

"Oh, why not?" Androgynous grumbled. "It isn't as though we have anything else do,"

"Ah, thank you. If I may, then--who's Kenren?"

"You know what?" Masculine said slowly. "Screw this."


He blinked. His head felt fuzzy.

"You are reborn Cho Hakkai," the Sanbutsushin thundered at him in unison, and the world swam around him. "It is a name -entirely new- to you! You will use the dragon and the lessons this temple will provide you with to do the work you will be instructed in! Go stay with Sha Gojyo until we contact you!"

"Do I have to stay with Gojyo?" he asked, making a face, although it made him dizzier. "He stays out until all hours and staggers back reeking, and he never remembers to take the trash out. And he brings the most awful people home..."

"You'll stay with that friend of yours so we know where you are, Cho Hakkai, and you'll keep him cleaned up and in one piece until we need you both, -and like it!"-


"You're sure you wanna stay with me?" Gojyo asked anxiously. Gojyo had been giving him funny looks ever since they'd met up again at the fruit stall. "I mean, hell, I'm glad to have you and everything--and damn, it's good to see you smiling again--but I know bachelor chic ain't really your style. I bet Sanzo could find you a room at the temple or something, if you wanted."

"Oh, no, Gojyo," he assured him, beaming muzzily. "As long as you don't mind if I straighten up, now that I can do it..."

"Well, no. I don't mind," Gojyo said cautiously. "But--I mean, don't feel like you have to or anything."

"Oh, no," he said earnestly, turning wide, warm eyes to meet his friend's worried gaze and resting an affectionate hand on his arm. "Oh, no, Gojyo, I -want- to."

Gojyo shivered. "Well, okay, if you really--where are you going?"

"To look at camping backpacks," he said cheerfully. "After all, you never know when you'll need to rough it."

"...Oooooookaaaaay... Hakkai, can I ask you a personal question?"

"Certainly, Gojyo," he smiled brightly, glowing all over his face with the Gojyoness of a Gojyo who felt comfortable enough with him to ask personal questions. He'd answer anything. He was so very fond of Gojyo!

"Where'd you get the dragon?"

He paused, and looked at the sweet little darling on his shoulder. He'd decided to answer anything, and he would! He'd answer honestly. Gojyo deserved honesty; he was so honest himself. Cheerfully, he admitted, "I have absolutely no idea. But isn't he precious?"

Gojyo exchanged looks with the dragon as Hakkai cooed, red eyes meeting crimson. Without further ado, he knocked Hakkai out, pulled him over his shoulders, and headed off for Kinzan temple. He muscled his way into the Hall of Audience and dumped his friend's limp form in front of the cold blue light of the Talking Heads. Pointing a finger at them, he ordered, "You broke it, you fix it," and spun on his heel to leave.

Just before the enormous doors closed behind him, he heard it.

"Not -again-!"


RESPONSES to one-shot reviews

sf--nothing wrong with smex, though, right? (grins) And please, don't shuffle; there's something about a delayed review that's especially satisfying. Especially one that's too kind.

Kanzeyori! One of my all-time favorite Slayers authors! Your XG piece was an inspiration to me, and I want to thank you for making it available. Getting your reviews absolutely made my day. Are you still writing somewhere? (hopeful look)