Making Arrangements

Somewhere, in a helpfully isolated cave, late at night, two cloaked figures met. Their tones were conspiratorial, their steps silent.

"Well, much as I'd like you to keep him," said the first, "I'm afraid we need him back."

"Believe me," muttered the second, "I would be only too happy to get rid of him. But -- well, we need some way to distract Homura."

"We have no choice," the first speaker said softly but firmly. "Action must be taken. Perhaps we could stage another fight?"

"Possibly," the second considered. "The situation is unendurable," he added plaintively. "The supplies of food are running out, and the constant binges on icecream are causing Homura to put on weight."

"Hm. You may have given me an idea. I seem to recall that your master has other obsess -- er, preoccupations. How about an exchange?"

"In what way?" The second voice showed interest.

"Sanzou in chains. We'll keep the sutra -- don't want things to get out of hand, after all. And you'll have to let him escape eventually."

"Would he consent?"

"Who said anything about consenting?"

"True. And Goku escapes in the . . . 'confusion'. That can be arranged."

"This sounds generally plausible, then. I wouldn't recommend keeping Sanzou for more than a few days, by the way."

"Why? Because you'd feel obliged to rescue him?"

"No. Because he'll go into nicotine withdrawal. Believe me, it's a painful sight."

"Very well. Do you think you can have him ready for collection in an hour?"

"Oh, Hakkkaiiii!" carolled a voice from outside. "Where are you?"

"Make that two hours," said the first figure blandly.


Diary of Genjou Sanzou

Homura's stealth is impressive. He managed to kidnap me from the middle of the campsite without alerting Hakkai, who was on watch at the time, and who has apologised too damn many times since. I told him to shut up. He blames himself far too much.

My captivity was painful and humiliating, and I need a new leather tunic, though my gloves were left untouched. I am meditating on new ways to kill Homura. Preferably ones that don't give him the chance to make any suggestive comments in the process.

Note to self: refrain from having sex with Gojyo until the lovebites have faded.

At least Goku managed to escape in the confusion, though he seems strangely dissatisfied with camp food these days. Stupid monkey.


It was a different cave, and this time there were three cloaked figures.

"Did you bring the wine?"

"Hai, hai. Did you bring the cards?"

"Yes. Did you bring the food?"

"Certainly. Usual stakes?"

"Of course."

The poker game started.

Several hours later, dawn was streaking the horizon, and the three figures were adding up scores.

"I'm afraid Hakkai-dono is the loser," the figure with long ponytails of hair announced. "And Shien-san is the winner. I'm in the middle."

The second figure sighed. "Maa, maa, what a pity. I don't suppose that you could arrange for Kougaiji to attack somewhere near us in order to divert Goku, Yaone-san?"


"I'll see to the usual pickup," the third figure stated. "By the way, Yaone, what actually happened when you won and I lost?"

The first figure's blush was perceptible. "Oh, I took custody of the package and arranged for it to arrive with a plausible explanation, but Kougaiji-sama really isn't used to being the seme. I think he was getting into it towards the end, but I had to arrange the usual escape. I hope I win again some time."

"Ah. That would explain Homura-sama's slightly unusual attitude for several days afterwards."

"Mmm," the second figure put in. "I don't suppose we might consider changing stakes some time?"

There was a mutual pause as all three considered it.

"Impossible," said the first speaker.

"Unlikely," said the third.

"Really, he does have his charms . . . oh, very well." The second figure tidied up the winecups. "I'll have things waiting."


Diary of Genjou Sanzou

Homura still feels the need to call me Konzen. Dumbass. I might as well stop wearing underwear at this rate. I've received a fax from the Three Aspects asking why I keep on charging for new leather gear on my credit card.

Hakkai apologised for the off-target ki-blast which left me trapped under several tons of rock and caused me to be captured. I wish he'd stop saying that he was sorry.

Note to self: diet. Apparently my waist is no longer a perfect 56 centimetres.


Again, a hidden cave. Again, the three cloaked figures. The level of wine in their jars was going down rapidly.

"It's not that I mind being supportive," the first said gloomily, "but I keep on feeling that he may have a self-destructive streak. I blame it on the girl. Not that I blame her personally -- quite understandable reaction on seeing him, excellent reflexes in managing to stage an accidental collision in the middle of a large empty square -- but on consideration I suppose that losing her might not have provoked the most healthy state of mind . . ."

"I know the feeling," put in the second figure. "Here we are, working hard to try to keep them happy, to help them get the sutra or destroy the world or stop the Minus Wave or whatever, and there they are, staring heartrendingly into the middle distance, brooding on whoever it was, and they have the nerve to blame you if you get into trouble while just doing what they asked."

The third figure sighed. "Not to mention the lack of emotional connection, the sociopathic tendencies, the rejection of authority figures even if he is one himself, the gun-happy . . "

"Don't talk to me about gun-happy," the first muttered.

"Gun-happy," the third continued, "incipient alcoholism, potential lung cancer, and deliberately getting himself into fights, which has to mean latent suicidal tendencies. I really worry about him."

A pause. They drank.

"You don't suppose that the way they keep on getting, ah, captured, might have anything to do with this?" the second suggested hesitantly.

Another pause.

All three shook their heads. "Of course not," said the first. "If anything, it should be encouraging emotional connection and forging positive links."

"As in chains?" the third commented blandly.

"You can do all sorts of things with chains," the first stated firmly.

"I do have an idea," the second figure remarked, after another draught of wine. "I thought we might, you know, give them a break for a little while. I've got this other candidate, and I thought a bit of substitution wouldn't hurt. For a change."

"What does he . . . oh. You've got pictures." The first paused. "In fact, you seem to have a complete laboratory-type file with measurements, pictures, and behavioural analyses. Where did you get this, Yaone-san?"

The second figure blushed shyly. "Oh, it's amazing how many people will help you go through someone's private belongings when they hate him too. But what do you think?"

"He looks suitable," remarked the third. "So . . . one week each?"

"Sounds fair," said the first.


Diary of Ni Jieni

My chief pawn Kami-sama has gone missing. Find out why, and scold him when he returns. I've spent far too long preparing him for him to vanish on me now.

In other business, find out why Kougaiji has developed such a cat-in-the-cream smile.


Diary of Homura

It seems that it is true what they say about Sanzous.


Diary of Genjou Sanzou

A long bead necklace is a very useful thing. Pick up one at the next town we pass through.


Yet another hidden cave. A minor celebration seemed to be in process.

"He's been so happy the last few days," remarked the figure with the long ponytails. "How long do you think we can keep this up?"

"Ages," replied the second cloaked figure, petting the little white dragon who was hiding in his hood. "It's probably going to take us at least fourteen years to reach you."

"And making an entire new heaven and earth is bound to take a while," put in the third.

"So no problem there."

"None at all."

"Cards, anyone?"


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