Title: Splash! 1/1
Genre: Supernatural, humour.
Disclaimer: I do not own Saiyuki. The following is strictly for entertainment purposes.
Thanks to Regina, for betaing.
It started with a splash. Just one, really.
The weather was hot, but the dense forest provided decent amounts of shade. Cool air nestled under the tangled masses of branches and leaves, creating a tunnel of perfect driving conditions. There was a strong hint of a storm in a not so distant future, but at the moment the jeep left even tyre tracks on the dry, sandy road.
Naturally, the situation was far too perfect to last for long. Soon the forest lost some of its density, admitting more than the occasional sunbeam under the green ceiling. The waist-high foliage gave way to ferns and ponds as the temperature went up.
"Fucking bugs." Gojyo smacked his forehead, squishing a mosquito in the process. "Do we have to go through this swamp?"
"It's not a swamp yet," Hakkai said. "Swamps don't start for another hundred miles. This is a spring territory."
"Whatever. It's wet and has bugs."
"Should make you feel right at home, cockroach," Goku said.
"Wet and dark is fine with me, monkey. I do have a thing or ten against mosquitoes." Gojyo's leer would probably have him thrown out of any establishment of good-to-turn-a-blind-eye repute.
"Try eating in front of a mirror and then repeat that."
It was a fine morning, all things considered. Up until the inhuman screech triggered the braking reflex in Hakkai's right foot.
"Sanzo! Give up the sutra!" a crowd of demons chorused. The horde stood in a loose formation familiar to every melee frequenter of the semi-civilised world. It allowed each fighter a personal space in which to gut, maim and quarter, without dealing damage to his own side. In theory. Practice often proved to be much more democratic.
"Impressive performance boys," Gojyo hollered back. "Hope you didn't overexert your tiny brains practising!" It raised a sufficient amount of hackles. The twenty or so demons were positioned carefully on the road, blocking the path, while some preferred to take strategic positions in the trees on the left, not that it made them any less obvious.
The tyres squealed with effort as Hakkai made a sharp turn.
"Hey, what gives!"
"Sorry!" Hakkai offered as the jeep jerked violently on the uneven surface. "I wanted to find Hakuryuu a decent hiding place first." It was a little worrying how smart the assassins were getting. The last several had tried putting the green vehicle out of commission, without much success, obviously, but their efforts did not go unnoticed. The car rotated to a stop, sliding on the mud just a little.
"You just had to drive into the swamp," Sanzo grumbled. He glared at the ground in distaste. He was wearing white robes; white, for fuck's sake. He slid the sutra off his shoulders and tucked it out of sight. He wasn't planning on falling (ha, as if!), but better to be safe than sorry.
"Sorry. They were all standing in the forest on the left. I thought we might give Hakuryuu a little time to hide first if we went here." Bought some time it did, because the demons were reluctant to approach the moss-covered puddles for some reason. The main force waited for an opportunity at a considerable distance.
When it came, it was not the one they were expecting.
"Yeah!" Goku yodelled, cheerfully sending one of the more enthusiastic demons into the ground, face first. He whirled in place, balancing on the mouldy rock as easily as if he were on solid ground. His unfortunate opponent splashed into the water, his whip flying uncontrolled through the air.
Miraculously, since the owner was as dead as a doornail, the whip twisted around Goku's ankle. He barely had time to yelp before the weight of the rapidly sinking demon pulled him into the spring.
"Goku!" But before the water could even begin to still, Goku broke the surface and bounced back onto the rock he was occupying earlier.
"Yuck," he moaned pitifully, dislodging a stray weed from his head. Other than the greenery, however, the water proved to be surprisingly clean – no muck to be scrubbed off or dead things to deal with. "I'm wet!"
"Thank you, Captain Obvious," Gojyo said, lighting a cigarette. Now that the monkey had been deemed safe and sound, all bets were off. "It's water, dimwit, what did you expect!"
"Fuck off, you damn kappa!"
Across the first line of ponds, the demons were watching the proceedings intently, focused on the drenched monkey. "Get them!" the leader called eventually, raising his sword and charging ahead. All in all, it wasn't a particularly smart move, since just as the exclamation mark passed his mouth a bullet lodged itself in his brain. The mass barely noticed their leader fall, too busy trying to bring down their quarry.
There are always things to consider when fighting a horde possessed by a lust for blood on slippery ground, the most important one being the ground itself. Sanzo barely batted an eye when the first onslaught of demons flew by him and into their watery graves. Only an idiot could think killing Genjo Sanzo would be this easy, he thought with distaste.
Killing aside, it turned out that bringing Sanzo down was but a work of a fallen cutlass. Even Hakkai had to cough politely in between evaporating demons, when the mighty priest emerged from the pond. Gojyo and Goku snickered, trying their best to contain their amusement. Wet Sanzo might be a funny Sanzo, but sure as hell was not a happy Sanzo, whatever that looked like.
Gojyo stopped laughing, however, as soon as he got a good look at the priest. "Oi, monk," he tried to say, but in that very moment a kamikaze demon decided to try tackling him. He didn't live long enough to consider his mistake, but his weight was enough to knock Gojyo off his feet and into the nearest puddle.
By that time the opposition was seriously thinning. Hakkai and Sanzo took down the few remaining demons, while Goku, having finished his chores for the day, skipped over to Gojyo's pond and waited for the kappa to emerge. Oh, was it going to be fun!
Only, there was no soggy kappa to be laughed at. Not a hint of red hair floating in the perfectly clear water.
"Gojyo," Goku called, picking up the brown jacket. "Where are you?" It was the right spring, he was sure, the jacket was an obvious proof, but there was no perverted water sprite to back it up. The only mobile form of life was a little piglet, attempting to scramble onto the shore.
Goku's brow furrowed as he considered the situation. Gojyo falls in. Little piglet scrambles out. The only logical conclusion is that Gojyo turned into a piglet. Life, for him, tended to be that simple.
The monkey burst out laughing.
"Sanzo! Gojyo turned into a pig!"
"What the hell are you talking about, stupid monkey!"
The laughter died down. "Sanzo?" Goku asked tentatively.
"Who were you expecting?"
The person scowling at him looked like Sanzo, almost. The hair was golden, darker than usual because of the water and the violet eyes glared ferociously at anyone daring to breathe too loudly. The clothing was the very same attire Sanzo wore. Even the red chakra was in place. The overall resonance was familiar, even if the voice itself was a little different. It was just that Sanzo usually had a little less chest…
"What the hell are you staring at, monkey!"
"Where's Gojyo?" Hakkai asked making his way through the swamp as if it wasn't there. "I could swear he was right here."
"He's here," Goku said, picking up the piglet. Hakkai coughed and smiled.
"We don't have time, Goku. We have to get going if we want to make it to the next village before dark." Wordlessly, the monkey pointed at the antennae adorning the top of the pig's head. "That's ridiculous, you fell in and you're fine. Sanzo fell in-"
Hakkai shut up as soon as his eyes landed on Sanzo.
"What?" the priest grumbled. "And where the fuck is that stupid kappa? We need to get going!"
'I'm not going to be the one to tell him,' Goku's eyes said. Hakkai laughed nervously. He wasn't looking forward to it, but it needed to be said.
"Uh. Sanzo? Gojyo is right here." He carefully removed the distressed piglet from Goku's grasp. Leave it to Gojyo to fear being eaten. Sanzo glared, first at him than at the unfortunate animal. "It seems that the springs are full of some magic."
"Don't be ridiculous, the monkey fell in and he's fine. I fell in-"
It suddenly occurred to him that his voice sounded two octaves higher than it usually did, his robes were constricting in places he couldn't imagine they could be constricting, and the monkey was staring at his chest.
Sanzo covered his eyes with his hand. "Tell me I'm wrong."
"Wrong sex," Goku supplied helpfully. It was probably the wrong thing to say, since the paper fan connected heavily with his head. "What!"
"What did I say?"
Hakkai only shook his head and walked around the corpses to get to driveable ground, where Hakuryuu was already waiting, a sulking Gojyo in his arms.
Unfortunately for Hakkai, who always let little problems distract him, one of the corpses turned out to be not quite dead. The demon groaned as he rose to his knees, knocking the green-eyed man off balance. It wouldn't be so bad on steady flooring, but when someone was already distracted, standing on a slippery stone with one leg and on a muddy pile of weeds with the other...
A loud splash and terrified squeak of an airborne piglet cut the quarrel between the monk and the monkey short. The animal landed, with perfect accuracy, common for comedic relieves, on Goku's head. As for the splash – Sanzo covered his eyes again and groaned – where Hakkai fell, a drenched panda was now emerging from the pond, the monocle in place. The large green-eyed animal made its way towards the rest of them, pausing only to shake itself mostly dry. It plopped down at their feet, looking up with a resigned expression.
"It'd better be temporary," Sanzo growled, stalking to the jeep after several seconds of stunned silence. Well, he tried to stalk, but paused after the first stride. Something wasn't right. He took another step forward, trying to pinpoint the problem. Everything seemed to be working fine, except- Sanzo scowled. The hips were operating on a different frequency than the rest of him. Whatever the fuck was all that swinging for? Way too bothersome, in his opinion. He snarled at no one in particular and yelled at Hakuryuu to finally make himself useful.
Which presented yet another problem. Both competent drivers were down for the count, leaving Sanzo and Goku as the only options. Neither was particularly optimistic. Hakkai did try, more than once, to offer his services as a driving instructor, but either he was being too subtle or Sanzo thought he didn't need any help, and Goku- Goku was not driver material. Period.
All of this flashed briefly through the priest's mind as he approached the jeep, trying in vain to get his pelvic areas to cooperate on a level different than basic mobility functions. However the real problem, he quickly realised, was neither his hips nor driving skills.
"How the fuck," he asked loudly, "are we supposed to get your fat ass into the car?"
… It wasn't a smart question to ask of a panda.
Seeing the glare Hakkai sent Sanzo, Goku realised that laughing would not be a good thing. Even if the picture of a panicking car being attacked by a large black and white animal was amusing. Funny. Hilarious even.
"Goku, help him," Sanzo ordered eventually, weariness dominating his whole being. He was getting too old for this shit, even if there was amusement value in watching yet another attempt at Hakkai's part to approach the jeep, which was by that time huddled on top of a tree, in the form of Hakuryuu.
By means of gentle coercion and loud threats, Hakuryuu was coaxed down the tree. It took a little effort on everybody's part, but eventually the little dragon managed to allow the glaring panda to be placed in the back seat of the jeep.
"Good thing Gojyo is so small, or we'd have trouble fitting in," Goku said. He dropped Hakkai into the back and grinned at the indignant oink, punctuated by little hooves rapping against his skull. "What?" he added to the panda. "You're huge."
The closest village was just three hours worth of driving away, with Hakkai at the wheel. Sanzo managed to turn three into five, speeding and narrowly avoiding trees on a road straight like an arrow. By the time they arrived it was already dark, nerves were frayed, and no one was really in the mood to deal with anything past a warm bed and a glass of strong alcohol.
"Hello! Long day, was it?" And bouncy innkeepers topped the list. "Can I offer you anything?" The perky woman was delighted. The inn was half-empty and most of the guests were old, male and boring. She'd been dying to have someone different stop by. And such an adorable young couple too! Granted, the girl didn't seem happy at all, but surely that was just a momentary phase?
"Rooms," Sanzo growled, slapping his credit card onto the counter.
"A double? We have the master suite free at the moment-"
"No master suite." The monkey winced. That tone was not good news. It promised violence. The innkeeper blinked and stared between the two.
"Right – tell you what, I have a free cabin. Technically it's a four-person accommodation but not many people travel these days. If the price is alright with you?" She turned around carefully. The space behind the counter was really quite narrow and the little chair wasn't at all comfortable.
"Keys. Now." The innkeeper sighed to herself. Looks like she wouldn't have anyone to talk to after all. She watched the two trudge back outside and to the cabin she indicated. Still, there was something she could do – the poor dear definitely would appreciate some help. The lad seemed to be a nice boy, if a little confused, but there were things only a woman could understand. With a certain amount of effort the lady got off her chair and hobbled into the kitchen. Humming to herself, she put the kettle on.
The little cabin was filled up to the ceiling with frustration. Accusations flew back and forth, mostly forth, pretty much all of them directed at the monkey for not being included in the collective misery.
"Don't blame me! I didn't do anything!" Goku shouted eventually. "It's not my fault my pond didn't work!"
"Ch'. You probably fell into the monkey pond. No wonder it didn't work."
"I'm not a monkey!"
"How else do you explain this?"
"Gojyo's a pig and look what's happened to him," Goku pointed out smugly. The piglet made an affronted oink, turning to glare at Sanzo, who he lit a cigarette and smirked in his direction.
"Can't argue with the monkey for once."
"I am not a monkey!" Hakkai looked up briefly, his expression betraying nothing. There were advantages to being a big, heavy bear with claws. People tended to treat you with respect. Well, most people. Most of the time. He could have done worse, he thought, glancing at his porcine friend, who was straining to keep his snout over the table. He went back to the plank of wood he found outside. Yes, claws were wonderful things, even if the paws were obviously not designed for writing. A few minutes' effort managed however to produce a slightly skewed 'what will we do?' sign, which he then pushed across the table.
Goku and Sanzo looked at him, their expressions comically identical. "It's not so bad, if Hakkai can write!" Goku said with a grin. Sanzo stabbed out his cigarette. There was still hope that this whole episode was a smoke-induced hallucination and he was going to pray to the fucking gods he did not believe in that it was so.
Then he was going to quit smoking, just in case.
"That's it. I'm going to have a shower. You do whatever the hell you want," he announced getting up. He stormed into the bathroom, slamming the door shut behind him.
"What do we do?" Goku asked Hakkai. The panda shrugged, pulled the plank closer and flexing his claws. He was developing a desperate yearning for some bamboo sticks. Neither of the two noticed Gojyo-turned-piglet slink off of the table onto the chair and further down onto the floor.
Five minutes later, however, the absence of the piglet did come up. Goku tore his eyes from the rather unique sight of a panda engaging in advanced calligraphy, looked under the table, then back at Hakkai. "Hey, where's-"
"What the fuck are you doing, you mother fucking kappa!" Sanzo's voice carried through walls easily with its usual timbre, now that it was an alto instead of a tenor, the effect was deafening. Goku clasped his hands onto his ears.
"Fuck you, you damn monk! I ain't doing a damn thing!"
"Gojyo!" The monkey bounced on his seat and ran into the bathroom, followed by the also excited, albeit in a much more dignified fashion, panda. He wrenched the door open and jumped back with a panicked eep. Gojyo was indeed back, sitting butt naked under the steaming spray, nursing a series of bumps from the paper fan. This wasn't at all unusual. A tad strange, on account of the nakedness, but overall familiar. Sanzo, however, was standing on the other side of the small bathroom, brandishing the fan in a vaguely threatening manner, clad only in a hastily donned towel. Around his hips.
In the current context, it was rather obvious why Gojyo was grinning insanely.
"I'm impressed, your holiness," he said. Sanzo glared at him furiously, still not quite certain what the kappa was so pleased about. He would die before he admitted it, though.
"Sanzo, put something on!" Goku said, trying half-heartedly to look the other way.
For a total of three seconds Sanzo stared ahead, uncomprehending. What was the monkey on about now, for fuck's sake? He was wearing a towel, and it was not like the idiot hadn't seen him naked many times before.
It took another two seconds for Sanzo to realise that yes, Goku had seen him naked. Before. Right now he was standing with his chest bare, in front of the perverted kappa. That would be uncomfortable at the best of times, but coupled with the gender issues he was currently facing? Somebody was so dead, even if the coroner would have to put 'cause of death: paper fan' into the appropriate section.
Meanwhile, the Hakkai-panda was glancing curiously between the red-head's lecherous grin and the shower of hot water he was sitting under. Gears turned, albeit a little slower than they usually would – bear brains did not operate on the same frequencies as a demon's. They were effective alright; it's just that when you're a bear, the necessity to think on your feet is rarely essential. Nevertheless, eventually they too arrived at conclusions. Nudging Gojyo out of the way, the heavy animal wedged itself into the shower.
"Hey, watch where you put those-!" But the protest was interrupted by a wince.
"Yuck!" The sight was not exactly pleasant. The change was instantaneous, but the aesthetical value of the shift between shapes left much to be desired, however brief it was.
"Ah, that indeed feels better," Hakkai said, stretching his neck. "Looks like the change was temporary." He stood up, probably the only genuinely self-conscious person in the group, switched off the still running water, and grabbed a fresh towel from a nearby rack. "Gojyo, get dressed, or you'll catch a cold. Sanzo, hurry up with your shower."
"Oh, come on! We don't get to see nearly enough of babes on the way, and as much as it pains me, his royal holiness here makes a fine piece of ass."
"You…!" Sanzo at loss for words was not a common occurrence. A faint pink tinge flamed across his cheeks, which was as close as he would ever come to turning red. His trigger finger was twitching. They all knew Sanzo long enough to know the warning signs. Body damage would follow. If they wanted to keep all assorted body parts, they'd better leave. Now.
As fate would have it, it was not meant to be. A very soft rapping sound was the only warning they got before the door were delicately pushed open.
"Hello! I apologise for bothering you at such an hour, but I was thinking you could use an herbal tea dear, you seem to be suffering something awful. I know it tastes a bit bitter, but it does wonders for PMS-related problems. I'm sure your young man would appreciate the… effort." Luckily, by the time she got to 'effort' the tray was already on the table, so the distance it had to cover as it fell was relatively short and the load did not suffer any damage.
Unfortunately, the table was a perfect vantage point for the bathroom. Sanzo, by some miracle, finally managed to grasp the subtle anatomical differences and subsequent behavioural patterns, and grabbed his robe while she was talking, losing his grip on the towel in the process. He then focused on projecting the 'it isn't what it looks like' message with every fibre of his being. Not an easy feat to accomplish, when the damp and heavy material clutched to not-quite-his chest made a poor job of covering up the fact that he was naked underneath.
"Oh, dear," the innkeeper said. Four pairs of widened eyes watched her, not unlike a herd of deer caught in headlights. "Oh, dear. No wonder you're so tense, you poor thing. The tea should help, at any rate. You boys better be good to her, do you hear me?" she advised sternly, shaking her finger at the three. "Or you will have to find different accommodation." Apparently satisfied with their panicked nods, the woman made her way out, closing the doors on complete silence and four men, three of them naked, one of whom was currently sex-challenged, in her wake.
"Oh shit." Goku was the first to recover. He looked at Sanzo briefly, etched the view into his memory, and stepped back. "Enjoy your shower. I'm going to see if we have anything to eat," he said quickly, a little too quickly in fact. To the other three his words arrived as 'enshowingseehavythineat' and by the time they even started on comprehending what had been said he was gone.
It'd be worth noting that, despite being quite hungry, Goku had not once thought about setting foot outside the front door. The town suddenly became far too constricting.
Hakkai stared off into space, then laughed quietly. "We'll leave you to your shower then, Sanzo. We are quite lucky. Hot water seems to reverse the spell. Come on, Gojyo." Gojyo, surprisingly, followed without one complaint. Sanzo looked damned good in both editions, but looking at neither was really worth losing essential body parts, he felt. The two of them closed the bathroom door quietly, taking great care not to look at Sazno's face. Oh, they knew it'd be a sight worth seeing, probably even a sight worth framing and hanging over the fireplace to share with future generations. But both of them were afraid to, since it was practically guaranteed they wouldn't be able to keep their faces straight. And that pretty much guaranteed that there would be no future generations.
Laughter could be deadly that way.
The door clicked shut. Sanzo kept staring straight ahead, not moving a muscle. If it wasn't for the self-imposed ban on sense of humour, he would be laughing himself silly right about now. He could appreciate a little humour, even if it was at his expense. He'd be damned if he let anyone know, of course, but still. As it were, he was sure that at least three people were desperately trying not to let out a single chuckle. Actually, he was willing to bet his gun it was four, the fourth being an obnoxious, good for nothing, she-devil of a bodhisattva.
Well, fuck them all.
Completely resigned, Sanzo dropped the robe and switched the shower on. As Hakkai said, hot water made everything better. There was that odd fluttering sensation throughout his whole body and then he was a him again.
"Good fucking riddance," he muttered, casting a very brief look down, noting with pleasure that his voice was back to normal as well. He almost smiled. It was no fun being bloody furious without someone to unleash the anger on. With any luck, the other idiots would avoid him for the remains of the day, which would give him enough peace and quiet to build up his patience for the next few days.
With any luck, he would never see the nosy innkeeper again, but he suspected it would be entirely too much to ask. Nevertheless, she had to be avoided at all costs. And if any of the idiots dared to say a word, they would pay dearly.
The next morning was a little gloomy, but for once no one protested at being thrown out of their beds at the crack of dawn. They left the keys along with a note on the receptionist's counter, disappearing into the greyness of the early morning mist without a backward glance.
"I will kill the first person who breathes a word," Sanzo announced once the town was several miles behind them. "The second and third too," he added as an afterthought.
"A-fucking-men," Gojyo said, lighting a cigarette. He took a deep drag and leaned back. Goku turned away from the jeep and allowed himself the tiniest little smirk. He blinked when a droplet of water fell onto his nose.
"Damn, it's raining." No sooner did he say it when the clouds above decided the meagre drops to be sufficient warning and poured their whole hearts into dispensing as much water as possible onto the ground below.
The tires squealed. The jeep narrowly avoided a tree, turned around completely and stopped. "What the hell was that for!" Goku cried, holding onto his head. There was going to be a bump, he just knew. The backrests of the front seats were hard. "Hak- kai…" The voice died in his throat as he watched Hakkai's paw pat the steering wheel helplessly. He was, quite obviously, stuck.
"Oh, fuck!" Goku managed. Gojyo crawled underneath the low seats, dragging his now oversized jacket behind him. Tough job for a little snout, but worth it overall. He would at least be suffering warm and dry. Hakkai started squirming, trying to free himself from the front seat. Sanzo did not move an inch. He seemed to have stopped breathing. Goku looked up. "Oh, fuck."
As far as the eye could see, the sky was covered with dark grey rain clouds.
I just couldn't resist.