Author's Note: I had so much fun with this chapter! Enjoy, and good luck to Shinigamis Wrath with the next one!
"Well, if I recall, that there Ms. Zosan wasn't at all the portly creature that you were mistakenly told she was," Hazel corrected while casting a slightly smug glare at the scowling red head. He folded his hands neatly on the table, eyes shifting to the steaming cups of tea puffing up warm, inviting smells into the air. He smiled pointedly at Hakkai and let out a wistful little sigh. "My, but if I'm going to be tellin' this story, it sure would go down better with a nice cup of tea."
Hakkai's smile tightened and became completely iced over in its false cheer. "If only you'd mentioned it sooner, Mr. Hazel," he murmured back with a small chuckle that sounded just a little forced. "Unfortunately, Sanzo and I finished the last of the tea. If the pipes haven't frozen over, I'm certain you can help yourself to some nice, fairly fresh, tap water." He discretely kicked the canteen of fresh water that he'd used to make tea further under his bag, all the while smiling as if everything were sunshine and daisies. See? Happy, happy people everywhere...
Goku groaned and rolled his eyes irritably, blowing air up into his bangs as he scuffed his boots against the cabin floor. "Great, now I'm never gonna hear th' end of th' story! Are ya sure we don't have any tea, Hakkai? I really wanna here th' story told th' RIGHT WAY." This last was said with a glare and little head shake of disappointment at the kappa.
Gojyo kicked Goku's shin under the table, his very bitter mood returning the minute that bastard bishop opened his damn mouth and stole his story. "Hey, the only people fucking the story up are those two," he remarked, pointing at the two wickedly smiling men on either side of Goku.
"I don't buy that for a second, Gojyo! Th' only kinda books you read are th' kind with lotsa pictures," the boy fired back.
Leering and giving a suggestive arch of his brow, Gojyo propped his elbows on the table and drawled, "Hey, Sports Illustrated has articles to read. Can I help it if the art work's more... enticing?"
Hazel cleared his throat, his cheeks tinting a dusty rose color as he shifted in his chair. "Yes, well... while that is mighty interestin', I do believe I was in the middle of tellin' the story of the lovely Ms. Zosan and her steamily illicit love affair with the dashing Mr. Zelha."
"My goodness! With such strongly descriptive adjectives, I'm beginning to wonder if indeed you have read the same book," Hakkai exclaimed with mock surprise. "Or are you perhaps confusing this with the prequel book? After all, the prequel was far more adult in content, and not at all appropriate for polite company."
A single gloved finger tapped on pursed lips as the bishop 'thought' about what Hakkai said. "Mmm... nope, I'm fairly certain Ms. Zosan had quite a number of salacious trysts with Mr. Zelha," he finally answered with a friendly shrug and a smile.
"Wait... I'm really lost now," Goku interupted as he scratched the back of his head. "I mean, first of all, what's salacious mean? Does that mean they get to kick a lotta ass? An' I thought Zelha was a bad guy, so why would Zosan wanna go out with him? An' what's goin' on with Toga and Kaiha? Are they gonna be a couple?"
"Yes," Hazel replied instantly, at the exact same moment Hakkai let out a horrified, "Absolutely not!"
Frowning and pinning the other holy prick (as Gojyo was so fond of saying) with his most threatening glare, Hakkai said in a very strained voice, "Toga was a small giant, Goku. Ms. Kaiha was a small, petite young woman with a very delicate... ah, sensibility. She most definately was not enamoured with the brute Toga."
Everyone debating on the story turned toward the door as Gat cleared his throat a little, the sound rumbling like a small roll of thunder in the cramped room. "Toga wasn't a brute," he said quietly. "He wouldn't have forced his attentions on Kaiha in the least."
Hazel's lip curled into a disappointed pout while Hakkai flashed a genuine beam at the large man. What an unexpected alli in a room full of catty attitudes! His esteem of the enormous gunman went up... oh, a few points. Not too many though, considering he was still associated with a very pouty looking bishop. "Ah, I see you've heard the story as well, Mr. Gat?"
"Not all of it. It's one of Hazel's favorites though," he mumbled. In a way, it was partially true. Apart from ranting about eradicating all the demons, Hazel did enjoy talking about Genjyo Sanzo quite a bit. Speaking of the monk though... He was acting rather oddly. Gat frowned as Sanzo jerked his legs around to the other side of his chair sharply. His eyes narrowed as he saw a section of the monk's robes lifted up, as if someone were trying to pick the ivory silk up and sneak a peek at what was worn beneath them. Gat frowned thoughtfully and focused his attention on the area of floor near Sanzo's legs. There it was... he could feel it now. Demon aura, but it was so faint that he probably wouldn't have noticed at all except for the way the monk kept snarling under his breath and shifting around restlessly. Not to mention the very odd, controled way his robes would kick up. Huh... interesting, and worth keeping his eye on for a bit.
Hazel chuckled and turned enough to give his large traveling company a conspiritorial wink. Good ol' Gat, always watching his back. "And all this time I thought you'd stopped listenin' to my ramblin', Gat," he commented with another light laugh. "Seems I'm more charismatic than I thought!"
Gojyo suddenly seemed to have a coughing fit, a few of them oddly sounding as if they could have been the words 'cocksucker' and 'bullshit'. Hazel smiled but made it a point to ignore the red head completely. After all, it was rude to stare at those with mental handicaps. "Now then," he continued, sparing a glance at Sanzo as he drawled the two words out. He was disappointed to find that the monk seemed preoccupied with something on the floor, giving whatever it was very restrained looks of pure malice. He wasn't enjoying the story? Well... maybe a little shock value was in order to get him to join in the fun. "About this story and how Ms. Zosan was sooooo smitten with the handsome, courteous, wealthy, remarkably talented-,"
"Dude, we get it," Gojyo snapped. "Your warped version of the nasty little rat-bastard Zelha is a fucking prince. Get on with it... unless you wanna let me continue with the correct version?"
Goku kicked Gojyo hard under the table, leveling a very annoyed glare at the kappa and ignoring the hiss of pain and the answering glare back as said kappa rubbed his shin painfully. "Shut up, Gojyo! I wanna hear the story an' I wanna hear it the RIGHT way."
"My way WAS the right way, chimp!"
"Hakkai, Hazel AND Gat all say it's way wrong, now shut up!"
Grumbling about 'ungrateful little brats' and various other things which were far from being PG appropriate and earned him a reprimanding frown from Hakkai, Gojyo slouched back in his chair, tapping his nails on the table to vent his frustrations. He needed booze. He needed smokes. He needed a woman. He needed revenge for his ego's ruptured spleen... Fuck, he needed to get control of the damn story again! His eyes slid to the steaming tea untouched by Sanzo's elbow, and the cup that was nearly half empty by Hakkai's. Slowly, a sneering little smirk curved his lips as he looked pointedly at Hakkai and said, "Y'know... don't you have some of the decaf tea still in your bag?"
The smile Hakkai gave him was perhaps one of the most deadly sweet ones ever. "No, I'm sure you're quite mistaken, Gojyo," he managed to say through the tightly clenched teeth of his smile. He hoped that the kappa got the message through his glare; if the red head thought turning him into a woman was emasculating, he was about to get a new definition of the term just as soon as Hakkai regained the story thread.
Either Gojyo was suddenly blind (very unlikely), feeling particularly masochistic (very likely, but very foolish considering who he was dealing with) or so beyond annoyed with their situation he simply didn't care that he was beginning to piss Hakkai off royally. The kappa oh-so-casually nudged Hakkai's bag open with his boot, spilling out a packet of tea leaves that were clearly marked (for Goku's sake. After the incident where he downed an entire bag of oolong because he thought it was dried seaweed chips, it was a necessary precaution) as well as the canteen with freshly filtered water. "Oops... my bad."
"Ah, so you do have some tea," Hazel crooned with a smile that tried very hard to blind everyone in the room. "My, how fortuitous this is! Now I can continue for quite a while with a decent cup a'tea. You really should keep better stock of your supplies, Mr. Spectacles. It's surprisin'ly disorganized of you."
If Hakkai's smile were any tighter, his teeth would have been fused together from the amount of pressure he was exuding. "How careless of me to let that slip my attention," he managed to say in a fairly civil tone. Gojyo was dead. Gojyo was going to be a squirming mass of kappa goo on the floor by the time he was through with him. He didn't care what else happened in the story so long as the red head felt the sharp beating of his wordy retribution before the end. Still seething silently, Hakkai scooped up the canteen and the tea and went for the kitchen. He could always have an "accident" and drop the tea leaves on the floor. But then that would mean he and Sanzo would have to suffer without, the monk more so than him. Decisions, decisions...
He spared a glance for the highly irritable monk suffering both nicotine and caffeine deprival, and who also had expert aim with a banishing gun designed to eradicate demons, and thought better of having an "accident". It wasn't worth his life to be uncivilized. Besides, with the way Sanzo kep twitching around his chair it almost looked as if he might seriously be going into shock from having all his vices suddenly removed. As he boiled water and set up the cups (hmm... where was that chipped one Goku had used to scoop up worms for fishing bait?) for himself as well as Hazel, he kept an ear tuned in on the story the bishop was beginning to tell. Maybe, he'd get lucky and Sanzo would finally catch onto the change in story line. In this instance, he would be most glad to hide the bodies after the explosion.
Hazel sat with perfect posture in his chair, hands folded neatly together on the table as he smiled at the eager, wide-eyed face of Goku. Goku had his head propped up on his elbows... which were on the table. Goodness, the boy was how old and he didn't know proper table etiquette yet? He cleared his throat, but otherwise made no comment on the elbows on the table as he began the "story" again. "Now, as I was sayin', Mr. Zelha and Mr. Toga weren't really as bad as you were so mistakenly told..."
... They were, in fact, undercover spies working to eradicate the evil Queen's hordes from the inside out. They were good people simply trying to make the world a better place, full of peace, love, harmony, consideration for others...
"Holy hell, we get it!" Gojyo exclaimed as his fingers absently touched his lips in an agitated gesture. He shifted a little in his chair as the feeling he'd had since Sanzo's nose dive into the glass swept over him again. Why did he have the feeling there was someone else in this room? It was more an intuition type thing than anything else... but he felt like someone was watching him. Or maybe he was still weirded out over the fact that the dear bishop and his precious alter boy were now locked (conveniently enough, the smarmy bastards) in the same cabin as they word. Sneering at the calmly smiling man sitting next to him, he drawled with a slightly malicious tone, "How about a little less of the happy, fluffy shit and more with the action?"
Hazel chuckled low before lowering his lashes just enough to hide the wicked intent he knew would most likely be there. "If you insist, sir," he murmured. "The reason Mr. Zelha took Ms. Zosan was..."
... They were working together. The extremely stunning Zosan was a very clever, very smart woman who was aiding Zelha and Toga in their quest to destroy the evil Queen of the Eastern Clans completely. Deep down, there certainly was an attraction between them, one that had been growing ever since they parted company to pursue their parts in this great and noble quest. Zelha, who was ever the trickster and loved nothing more than catching his beautiful Zosan off guard, had seen her traveling and thought it a wonderfully fun idea to 'kidnap' her. She looked so very pretty with a deep blush to her cheek and sparkling, jewel like eyes. He simply couldn't resist the urge to act the part of barbarian and swoop down to claim the beautiful woman right off her feet. Toga, who had misunderstood Zelha's directions, had snatched Kaiha by mistake.
Once they escaped from Kugo's mighty impressive shouting and Jyogo's rather silly attempts at blowing fire (which was due to excess gas in her stomach from eating way too much spicey food), Zelha slowed his magnificent white steed down and turned the squirming, outraged woman in his lap around. Zosan struggled for a bit longer before she realized it was indeed her old friend and truest love that had captured her. "Oh, Zelha! I've missed you sooooo much!" she cried out, flinging her arms and sweet scented bosom directly onto the man behind her.
"Sweet scented bosom?" Gojyo questioned, his eyebrows shooting up under his bandana as he cast a look at Sanzo. Sanzo... was preoccupied with... something. Not for long he wasn't going to be, not if Gojyo had his way with things! "Yo, Sanzo! Did you hear that?"
Sanzo, still scowling, turned his attention away from the invisible demon woman (who was now trying to nuzzle her cheek against his thigh, the perverted bitch) and to the kappa. He'd honestly not been listening to a damn word any of them had said, more intent on trying to unravel what the hell was going on than being concerned with some pathetic attempt at getting Goku to shut the hell up. A demon woman who slams his head into the glass and then procedes to try and molest him was far more important than any stupid story. From the smirk and thoroughly evil look in Gojyo's eye, he was beginning to think he should have been paying attention though. Dear gods, what the hell happened now? "Hear what?" he demanded, eyes narrowing suspiciously.
"Apparently... Zosan has some mighty sweet smelling breasts. Makes me think she has beer flavored nip-," Gojyo's words were cut off as Hakkai very quickly deposited the tea on the table and clapped a hand on his mouth.
"Please, Gojyo, allow Mr. Hazel to continue," the green eyed man said with a smile dripping with saccharined poison. He could tolerate a good many things, but he didn't think it was at all good to mention any part of the female body as being flavored with anything. Knowing Goku, that type of commentation could, and most likely would, get the boy into a vast amount ouf trouble.
Hazel smirked his victory over the kappa... which quickly turned into a disappointed frown when he saw how translucent his tea was compared to Hakkai's. "I do hate to be rude but... this here looks a bit like water with tea thrown in to taste," he remarked as politely as he could.
Hakkai took a sip from his own very dark tea and made a contented little sound as it went down. "Oh, I'm so sorry about that," he lied with an evil little chuckle. "I made mine first, and unfortunately ran out of loose tea for yours. But, I'm certain you'll make do just fine."
Laughing through a tightly gritted smile (how very rude of him! Guests were ALWAYS served first choice), the bishop motioned for his bodyguard to bring his small sack of provisions over. Gat did so, standing just behind Hazel as the man dug through his bag... and brought out a box of instant tea. With real caffeine in it. Sanzo was not at all embarrassed to say his mouth had started watering at the sight of it. Dead silence fell around the table as the pale man made very certain they saw him select juuuuust the right bag before dropping it into his steaming cup of slightly green water. "Well, it's a good thing I always carry some of this around, wouldn't you say? Mr. Sanzo, how 'bout dumpin' that there decaf and havin' a nice cup a'caffeinated tea with me instead?"
Sanzo glanced down at the tea that was stil steaming ever so slightly, completely untouched. His gaze shifted over to Hakkai when he caught the subtle curling of the green eyed man's nails into the wooden table. A quick look at the other man's face made any thoughts of doing just that fly out of his head. Hakkai's eyes clearly said, "If you don't want to walk the rest of the way, you better drink that tea and like it." Hakkai was just enough of a bastard to do it, too. Grimacing, Sanzo took a sip of his tea and said, "Don't bother. Now, what did I miss?"
Snickering, Gojyo rocked back in his chair and stretched his long legs out under the table, his knee "accidentally" hitting the table just as Hazel was about to pick his tea cup up. Tea sloshed over the rim of the cup, barely missing a pristine white glove as it splattered onto the table. The bishop couldn't quite keep the slightly annoyed twitch from crossing his face but refrained from saying anything. "Oh, how about we just let dear old Hazel here continue telling the story," the red head drawled maliciously. He really couldn't wait to see the two holy pricks duke it out. Gods, was he a sick kappa!
Violet eyes narrowed to glittering, suspicious slits as they flickered from the stil chuckling kappa to the angelically smiling man across from him. "Well, let's hear it. It better be the correct version, too. I'm getting pretty sick and tired of all you idiots fucking it up."
"Me, too," Goku chimed in with a very angry pout to his face. "Just tell th' story an' get it right! Geeze... I'm beginnin' to think no one really read the book!" He huffed out breath of air that made his cheeks puff out around the scowl on his lips and his very irritated and impatient eyes. Hazel would have almost termed it a rather cute expression were it not for the fact that the boy's hands were clenched into tight fists he knew could punch easily through a brick wall. He smiled brightly around the room in general, secretly pleased that he finally had Mr. Sanzo's attention once again.
"Like I was saying, Ms. Zosan and Mr. Zelha..."
... Were very dear friends. Ever since Zelha had been assigned to infiltrate and gather information on the evil Queen's vile, barbaric hoardes, Zosan had lived every day in terror that the strong and very handsome man would die. Each day without him felt like an eternity, and it was then that she realized she was deeply enamored with the Adonis-like fellow spy. Zelha had sent letters when he could, not only of information gathered but also expressing his own pain at being away from her. Zosan carried them everywhere with her, tucked carefully in her bosom so that-,
"Ya mean her purse, right?" Goku interrupted. Inwardly, he let out a frustrated little groan. Why did everybody who supposedly read the stupid book get the story wrong? Maybe it wasn't that good of a book if it was so easy to forget!
"Beg your pardon, little fella?" Hazel questioned with a slightly confused blink of his pale blue eyes. He glanced at Hakkai, who gave a subtle nod to confirm that the boy was right; Ms. Zosan carried a purse. Chuckling, Hazel shrugged and said, "Ms. Zosan's purse wasn't the type you'd put somethin' special in. These were love letters, so she'd want to keep 'em as close to her as possible. After all, the poor heartsick li'l lady missed her gallant knight so very much. She read 'em every day that they were parted, just dreamin' about the day she would once again experience the heated passion of his kiss again." He gave a deep sigh, one that was full of soft emotion, as his lashes fluttered ever so slightly. Gojyo went sprinting for the kitchen before collapsing on his hands and knees on the floor, laughing so hard no sound could come out. It was the funniest shit he'd ever heard anyone even ATTEMPT to pull on Sanzo, but he didn't want to be within firing range when the monk lost it!
There was a spray of decaf tea and a choking sound from the furiously glaring monk. Goku, worried about his guardian's coughing splutters of outrage, went to aid him by whacking him solidly a couple times on the back. He therefore missed the smle and wink Hazel tossed back, as well as the burning blush that suddenly swept up Gat's face. Hakkai's head dropped to the table with a faint groan as images of bishop brain matter being used to paint the ceiling of their rather drag shelter raced through his mind. While he certainly wouldn't get between Hazel and a bullet from Sanzo for this, dead bodies did have a tendency to stink after a few hours.
Gojyo finally stumbled back to the table, tears running down his red cheeks and a grin that looked painful in how wide it was stretched across his face. Still chuckling, he wiped his eyes and ignored the suspicious look Goku was tossing at him. He used the opportunity of Sanzo momentarily being indisposed to wave a hand in Hazel's direction and say, "Okay, I'm ready. Let's keep going with the right story."
Smiling and completely oblivious to the pulsing vein that throbbed in Sanzo's forehead as well as the small snarls of wordless rage that managed to sneak through his tightly clenched teeth, Hazel took a sip of his tea before proceeding with the story.
Zelha had missed Zosan very much indeed, but he was completely caught off guard at her very amourous reaction to seeing him again. He had to quickly readjust his feet in the saddle stirrups to keep from falling off the horse entirely as Zosan proceeded to kiss every inch of his face she could get. She swung around in the saddle so that she was facing him, her skirts pushed indecently high around her creamy white thighs, her milk pale arms not allowing him to pull away from her for longer than it took to breath.
"Zelha... I need you so bad! It's been so long, and I've been so alone without you," the woman declared desperately.
Zelha, though he was a perfect gentleman, simply couldn't resist such a beautiful, tempting woman as Zosan was. It had been several months without her most agreeable company, and he was only a man... with a very beautiful woman throwing herself at him. How could anyone expect him to remain a pillar of strength and propriety under such an assault? He began to return every eager press of her lips, his hands working higher up her smooth, alabaster thighs until...
"No! Hell fucking no!" Sanzo finally burst out, his cheeks burning red with a mixture of anger and embarrassment. That bastard priest was soooo beyond dead for this insult! Gat slapped a hand to his eyes, his darkly tanned skin a shade that rivaled Gojyo's brilliant red hair. Hakkai's own blush extended well below the high neck of his tunic and he was trying desperately to keep Goku's ears covered to preserve whatever innocence hadn't been taken by the kappa already.
"Hakkai, I can't hear th' story! What's Zelha doin' to Zosan? An' is Toga doin' th' same thing to Kaiha? Are they checkin' to see if th' women are carryin' hidden weapons?" Goku's questions continued as he struggled and squirmed to try and throw Hakkai's death grip on his ears off.
The only two in the room besides the innocently smiling bishop to be enjoying this particular plot twist were the kappa... and the demon ghost girl. The former was sitting with a rather intense look to his crimson eyes while the latter had stopped trying to peek up Sanzo's robes in favor of hanging her jaw open wide with round, shining eyes. Dear gods... a pervy kappa and a pervy ghost. Why did karma hate him so much? "And?" Gojyo prompted with another wave of his hand. The ghost girl nodded eagerly next to him, eyes all for the bishop and the story he was telling. "Did Zelha get it on with Zosan or what?"
"He sure as fucking hell didn't," Sanzo snapped irritably, cutting off Hazel just as the other man began to answer. Hazel's mouth closed with a faint click before a pout returned to his lips. "Zosan wasn't an idiot. She would know better than to trust a spy. And if she were to ever fall for anyone it certainly wouldn't be Zelha, no matter how powerful he claimed to be. She's got better taste than that."
"Ooo... that was awful cruel of you to say, Mr. Sanzo," Hazel complained, one hand going to his chest in a dramatic gesture of being wounded deeply. "But I'm almost positive the beautiful Zosan and the handsome Zelha were most-,"
"No. They weren't most anything," the monk insisted with a fierce glare. It was bad enough he'd been turned into a woman, he was NOT about to let his woman be turned into a whore. That was the fire breathing Jyogo's department. "They were more acquaintances than friends, and they most certainly were NOT in ANY way romantically involved."
"Are ya certain about that, Mr. Sanzo?" the bishop pressed with a determined little smirk. "Zosan isn't the kinda girl to allow herself to get taken hostage either, now is she?"
"That's because she wasn't taken hostage. She wouldn't have allowed it," Hakkai supported readily. He smiled over at Sanzo reassuringly. Of course, his only motive was to help get the priest's female personna out of a compromising situation. It had absolutely nothing to do with him regaining control of the story line. No, most certainly not... completely innocent is what he was.
Goku shook his head as he listened to the many conflicting stories being passed around. "This is gettin' really stupid," he finally exclaimed. "How can all of you guys know th' story, but none of you can tell it right? I mean, c'mon! I wanna hear th' story, but it keeps changin' cuz you guys can't remember it th' way it's supposed to be told."
"Each story always has a different version of things, little fella," Hazel reasoned, unwilling to drop the thread now that he was involved. If he had his way, he would get his hands on the story once again. "This just happens to be the version I'm familiar with, which is also the most commonly known. Surely you've heard it as well, Mr. Spectacles?" The tone of the question clearly implied that Hakkai obviously hadn't and therefore was lacking mentally in some way.
Hakkai laughed, but for some reason it didn't sound at all like the man was amused. Goku shivered and wondered what exactly he'd missed between the bishop and the healer to warrant the hope-you-run-faster-than-my-chi-blast glare. He edged a little closer to Sanzo, just in case that actually did happen. "Ah, yes... I'm familiar with your version of the tale," Hakkai replied, smiling all the while. Gojyo gulped and carefully moved his chair a couple inches away from the possible explosion of bishop guts. "It's no surprise you're more familiar with the simple man's version, Mr. Hazel, rather than the more highly looked upon official one."
Hazel laughed as well, flicking his hand in Hakkai's direction as if the other man had said the most witty thing ever uttered. "My goodness, listen to us debatin' about this version versus that. Perhaps we should ask Mr. Sanzo which version he's familiar with? After all, such a high rankin' monk as himself should know which version of the tale is most accurate." Cool blue eyes slid over to enraged violet once with mischievous amusement. "So, Mr. Sanzo, whose story is the true one? Or... is it possible you've heard an entirely different version than our own?"
Sanzo grit his teeth and glared at everyone around the table. The ghost girl was pointing frantically at Hazel, trying to influence him with picking the absolute smut that was the bishop's version. Hakkai was giving him that tight lipped smile that said he'd regret not picking his version. Gat couldn't give two shits about the story, he was just an unwilling spectator in all this. Gojyo smirked at him and arched a challenging brow, obviously trying to taunt him wordlessly into joining the fray. His eyes met Goku's last, and as was usual with the innocent, eager golden gaze he felt his annoyance start to slip away. Goku was waiting patiently for him to make his decision, his face almost rapturous in anticipation.
Sanzo sighed and rubbed his eyes wearily as he said with heavy resignation, "The version I'm familiar with is..."