Word games and Sake
A Youkai and a Reincarnation Walk Into a Bar.
Disclaimer: I own Kurama. And Hakkai. And Sanzo and Gojyo and Hiei. They're mine! All mine! All of them! They live in my basement.
Didn't believe me, didja?
Then why the HELL did you ask, you &$#?!?
'Well? Do you have it?' Hakkai said expectantly. Kurama nodded solemnly.
'The Fannfick Aut-hor was most obliging.' The redhead looked puzzled for a moment. 'This is a special kind of sake; apparently it causes no side effects of drunkenness, but once someone passes their limits of how much they can drink, it makes them pass out. Some sort of enchantment on it, I suppose. The Aut-hor is powerful, after all, and she is making it well worth our time to have this little contest.'
They sat down on their chairs, facing each other opposite the small table that Kurama had placed the drinks on. 'This is probably a bad idea,' Kurama warned. 'I don't think anyone's ever beaten me at this before.'
Hakkai's lips twitched in a way that would have sent Gojyo or Goku running for the hills and Sanzo hiding behind a paper. 'I'll make sure to remind you of that when I carry you home,' he said mildly.
Kurama smiled, showing entirely too many teeth. 'Twenty-five bottles of sake on the table……….we'll drink as many as we're able,' he quoted Yusuke, and had the brief satisfaction of seeing Hakkai look bemused. 'Tell you what; let's make this a little more interesting.'
An eyebrow rose over a glinting monocle. 'Meaning what, exactly?'
'All conversation has to be in rhyme after this. If you slip up, you lose. If you take time to think, you have to drink the entire time you're not speaking. And if you finish drinking a bottle, you have to speak.'
The brown-haired youkai looked amused for a second. 'That sounds interesting.'
'All right. Let's begin. And may the best man win.' The fox lifted his glass in salute before draining it.
'Then I take it that the competition's on. Hmm. I wonder who'll pass out before dawn.' Hakkai followed suit.
'In the interest of a good conversation, may I ask for personal information?'
'Of course you may,' Hakkai said automatically before wincing and adding, 'Damn, I nearly gave the game away.'
'Where do you come from, Cho Hakkai? And are you a human or a youkai?'
Hakkai looked nonplussed. To stall for time, he filled his glass and sipped. 'I suppose I can't deny that I was born human and became a youkai. It wasn't something I intended, but that's the way the story ended. And you yourself seem quite the mystery. Perhaps I could inquire into your history?'
Kurama had finished his bottle – damn they were tiny – and picked up another. 'That sounds rather like my story. You see, I was once a thief of glory. I transferred my soul when I knew I would die, and hoped to return once the danger went by. Let's just say that the plan was changed……' he ran out of steam, and drank again before continuing. '…and now my life's a bit deranged.'
He was actually quite impressed. Most of his 'drinking pals' – most of whom were smart enough to quit after the first ignominious defeat – hadn't lasted this far.
'That's a neat rhyme for so little time. I think I can empathise with you,' Hakkai said. 'God knows, I've my own problems with those three too.'
'You have three friends, don't you? Sanzo, Gojyo…….and Goku. I've my own group of three – Hiei, Yusuke, Kuwabara and me. We're Spirit Detectives for Koenma, sent to stop crime. Actually, we wind up killing youkai all the time.' Kurama set down the third bottle. Hakkai was on his second, but he caught up immediately. 'I've heard of your group's aim. To stop some demon….was Gyuumaoh his name? I think I met him once, before. Seemed a rather terrible bore. And his girlfriend was even worse. So,' he changed the subject. 'How are you holding up to talking in verse?'
'Quite well, thank you, I have the gift. And drinks don't down me, if you get my drift.' Hakkai smiled as Kurama considered his next attack and reached over, placing another bottle before him.
Hakkai was getting into the game now. The red-haired man was a challenge. He truly did enjoy his companions, but Gojyo and Goku weren't exactly the most intellectual people, and Sanzo rarely indulged in humour. Engaging in a battle of wits of this sort was something he had been craving for months now. And when it was mixed with a lot of drinking – none of the others could handle their drinks – it really was interesting.
'If you're really so resistant to drink, we'll change the game. Hmmm, let me think.' Kurama considered which drinking game in his arsenal would work, but the other intervened.
'You've had your turn, shouldn't I have mine? –I presume we've stopped playing.'
Kurama smiled. 'Of course.'
'Word riddles. You lose, you drink. You win, you ask a question.'
'Done. How many letters are there in the alphabet?'
'Eleven. Constantinople is a very big word; if you can't spell it, you're the greatest fool in the world.'
'I-T. It. Really, you're being very simple. Fit the word 'because' into a sentence three times.'
Hakkai's monocle glinted dangerously. 'I will provide you with a solution, if you'll give me another. The answer's obvious – You cannot begin a sentence with because, because because is a conjunction. But there's another answer as well.'
Kurama thought for a second. But he'd never heard of another solution to the problem…….'Let's see.' He thought harder. Hakkai gestured at the sake on the table and Kurama sighed and drank up.
The answer is: I can't use because three times in a sentence because using because so many times might make it ungrammatical. My turn again.' Hakkai smiled. 'You did have to drink. What occurs at the end of the middle and the beginning of the end?'
'The letter E, of course. What letter is the difference between life and death?' The redhead sat back, crossing his legs, fingers steepled, as Hakkai frowned and pondered that, sipping meditatively. Finally he shook his head. 'I don't get it.'
'The letter S. With it you exist, without it you exit.' Kurama grinned. 'Now you have to pay a penalty.' Hakkai sighed and reached for the next bottle, but Kurama stopped him. 'I don't want you to drink, I want you to answer a question. Just how do you manage to stay conscious and smart after drinking this much, anyway?'
Hakkai smirked. It was slightly alien to his teacherly face, but he did a good job nonetheless. 'Ki manipulation. I use it to neutralise the alcohol before it reaches my stomach.'
'Hmmm.' Kurama's eyebrows rose. That much control indicated a mastery over his own body that even Youko's form didn't give him. But then, Kurama's discipline was slightly different….
'You do realise, of course, that if you attempt your ki manipulation after this I'll know what you're doing.'
'I'll stop just as soon as you withdraw that flower's juice from your bloodstream.'
The eyebrows rose further. Most people didn't even notice the small hybrid crystalbloom he usually tucked behind his ear when he made bets on how much he could drink, much less realise its purpose. He regretfully laid it on the table and Hakkai's power levels went back to dormant.
'My turn again. What is special about this sentence: able was I ere I saw Elba?'
Hakkai squinted and then said, 'The letters. They're in perfect mirror form. Which country is used in cooking?'
'Greece. Are we doing countries of the world, now?'
'Is that your question?'
'Not really. Which country is like cutlery?'
'China, of course. The darkest country.'
'India. The country full of cyber-conmen.'
That took a while. Hakkai finished his fourth bottle and began the next with Kurama. 'Egypt. That was very nice, by the way. E-gypped. Hmm. The city of travellers?'
'Rome.' They were even now, each halfway through their fifth bottle, and without the crystalbloom the alcohol was getting to him. His only consolation was that the other man was bound to be feeling it too. 'Which is the most egotistical part of the body?'
'The eye.' The brunet sighed. 'This game is getting a little old.'
'But I was saving tongue-twisters for later, once we're really drunk.'
'You mean you were saving it for when you thought I'd be really drunk,' Hakkai corrected mildly. 'I don't mind, but you really should be more precise.'
'I was brought up to believe that all's fair,' Kurama said with equal tranquility, but two shades of green locked across the table with somewhat different emotions. Respect, amusement, annoyance.
'Love or war?'
'Anything, actually. Although most of my life seems to fall in one category or the other. So how are you going to spend all of that anyway?' Kurama said, gesturing behind them at the giant bag filled with gold that the Disembodied Voice had kindly provided as a wager.
'Oh, I don't know,' Hakkai said in the voice of one who did. In fact, Hakkai knew precisely what he was going to do with the money, aside from investing some of it and saving some. Sanzo probably didn't know the amount of money Hakkai stood to make if they made it to Houtou Castle – or if they didn't, for that matter – the youkai was given to hedging his bets. And there was a nice new company in Togenkyou called Quitters Inc. that promised a 100 success rate in curing smokers and Gojyo seemed a perfect candidate. Not that Sanzo would spend his money on something like that. Oh, well. He was tired of living in a cloud anyway, and after he'd started sharing his, erm, uh, room with Gojyo (who obviously had ways of putting their relationship that were unsuitable for others) it had become absolutely intolerable. 'What about you? I get the feeling you don't need the money much.'
'I don't,' Kurama said. 'It's just the thrill of acquiring it.'
Youko's open assets had been seized after his death, but even the best detectives hadn't found the caches of small priceless items that he had hidden inside various innocuous plants. The bonsai in Koenma's office hid some firegem jewellery, and Kurama was positive he hadn't noticed when the redhead had planted them. These, and the various confidential accounts that both Kurama and Youko had opened in various places in the ningenkai over the last century or so, remained untouched.
Bill Gates. Pfft.
'Want to change the game?' Kurama said. 'Let's make alliterative sentences. The person who deviates from the alliteration the most – in proportion – has to drink. And you have to be grammatical.'
'Hmm. Let's see; oh. Harriet Henderson had a hasty, horrid, haggling, hideous habit of henpecking her husband. That's two deviations.'
'She sells seashells on the Seychelles seashore. Two deviations.'
'But I had more words. So you have to drink.' Kurama sighed and opened his seventh.
'The sixth sheik's sixth sheep is sick. Two.'
'Allegorical alliterations aggravate and annoy angry aunts. None. Your turn to drink.' Hakkai obliged before continuing.
'Bad baby bears bash bananas in bed.'
Kurama laughed. 'I don't want to know how you came up with that one. Eventually everyone extricates enjoyment from each ephemeral event. And I think I win that one too.'
'When we want what we won't get, we weave, wary wayfarers, with what we have, where we wish. Two deviations in nineteen words.'
Kurama racked his brain for something longer, but there was nothing there. Reluctantly, he said, 'Canny cardplayers carry carefully concealed cards, coping coolly with all circumstances. Two deviations in ten words.' Without waiting for the invitation, he drank.
They had both had eight bottles now. Without any enhancements or magic to aid them, they were probably both close to the limit – had they been human they would really need a hospital right about now. The final decision lay in the – well, not hands, maybe handles – of the enchanted sake.
'You know, we really should do this again sometime,' Hakkai said, raising a hand to indicate that he wanted time out. 'No matter who wins. It's not often I get a real challenge, intellectually or while drinking. I have the feeling it's the same for you. Grave ghosts go gently gliding, growling gladly at ghastly ghouls. One deviation.' He and Kurama drained the ninth bottle together.
'I'd like that,' Kurama said, a genuine, dazzling smile lighting him up. 'And you're right; I rarely have a chance to use my mind like this, and I do so enjoy word games. Seven silly sharks swim speedily, sweet salty brine slipping sideways. One deviation.'
'Hm. What d'you know, we're even……'
Two simultaneous thumps, and the last two bottles of sake, half-empty, were sent flying.
'I still don't get why we have to do this,' Sanzo grumbled as they arrived to take the peacefully slumbering Hakkai, although his protest was less sincere than it would have been if it had been Gojyo or Goku they were rescuing.
'Because the last three times we got into a drinking competition with him, he did the same for us, all right?' Gojyo snapped. 'And he did say that if I didn't meet him here I'm not getting any for a week,' he added in a mumble that the others thankfully didn't hear.
'Jeez, I'm glad I'm not old enough to drink, it seems to make monkeys out of you,' Goku said snidely. He immediately received a whack from a paper fan and a headlock from a hanyou's arm.
'Wait a minute,' Gojyo said as they left, Hakkai slung between him and Goku rather comfortably. 'Wasn't there a bag of gold or something? He did say something about a bet, right?'
'Yeah, I know. Maybe he lost.'
'Hakkai? Lost? You've gotta be kidding.' Then Goku, who was only level with Hakkai's chest, saw a small note pinned neatly to his sash. It said simply
It was a draw
There was no signature.
'But if it was a draw……' Gojyo said, puzzled, 'Where the hell did the money go?'
Hiei dumped Kurama on his bed and tucked the sleeping redhead in carefully before leaving as soundlessly as he had come, the only sign of his being there the gently flapping curtains that shifted in the stiff breeze.
'Hn,' he said, testing the weight of the bag that he had picked up along with the fox. 'All's fair, did you say, fox?'
A/N: Dedicated to Coco and Tado for the great ideas! If the Fannfick Aut-Hor bit didn't make sense, check out Civil Disobedience, the previous story in the series – whoa, a series! Anyway, the next instalment will contain Sanzo (Saiyuki) and Miroku (IY) unless other inspiration strikes. Ideas are welcome from anyone – see my profile for which animes I write and other details. You can PM me or review with the next idea if you get something interesting. Review, please. I have tons of hits and favs and no reviews! I need to know what you think.
An interesting side-note: I've been watching YYH for the first time as I write this; I actually finished most of this fic before I saw the Kaito episodes and realised that Kurama really is good at word games - mind games, more like. I just figured it would suit him and Hakkai, and then...well. I must be psi.
Thanks for reading this.