"What do you mean he's tired?" Sanzo snarled as he sat beside Hakkai in the front seat of the Jeep. The damn dragon vehicle had decided that he no longer wanted to move and had stopped just on the other side of a bridge. It squawked at Hakkai for a few moments before the demon declared it'd gone too far. "It's not even noon yet."
Hakkai hummed and adjusted his monocle. It wasn't his fault if Jeep had decided that it wanted a break. Though, he did pick a nice spot to stop. The grass was green and lush next to the riverbed. The river's water sparkled up at them with a wonderful glow. "A small break won't hurt us. We can eat lunch or something in the meantime."
"Yeah!" Goku shouted as he sprung up in his seat. His stomach had been growling all morning since breakfast and if they had lunch early than maybe they could have dinner early too and leave room for an extra late night snack! "Let's stop and eat!"
"For the love of…" Sanzo trailed off to himself and rubbed at his temples. Deciding to save himself the trouble, he pushed himself out of the vehicle via the side door and slammed it behind him. "Make it quick."
"Of course, Sanzo." Hakkai chuckled and he put Jeep into park and waited for the other two to exit the car. "Gojyo, would you mind grabbing the water jug? I'm going to refill it while I'm here."
"Sure, no prob,'" Gojyo handed the canteen by the strap to his brunette buddy and jumped over the car door to catch up with the monkey. Goku had gotten a hold of their food bag and Gojyo wanted to make sure he actually got something to eat today.
Hakkai chuckled as Gojyo and Goku began their usual bicker and banter before turning to the river. Sanzo was already kneeling by it and had his hands cupped full of water for a drink. If the water looked good enough to drink for Sanzo, who hated rivers, than it must be scrumptious. Hakkai took the short walk down to the water's edge as Jeep trailed behind him to squat beside his friend. The water did look good and he found himself taking a sip in his hands himself. "Maybe stopping wasn't so bad. This water is amazing."
"Hmm." Sanzo hummed as he watched the remaining water drip from his fingertips. His natural and completely understandable distaste for rivers was overpowered by the sheer beauty of the water and the nagging dryness of his throat. The water went down wonderfully and apparently Hakkai thought so too as the demon took another sip. "I hope you're cooking with this."
"I do, too," Hakkai nodded as he reached down with his canteen to scoop up the liquid for later use. Stew made with this would be absolutely amazing. It made him wish he had more containers so that he could savor this longer. But, just as Hakkai reached down to take one more sip before resigning to making food for hungry demons, there was a woman's shout from behind him.
"Don't drink that!"
"Excuse me?" Hakkai looked up and blinked at the plump, elderly woman holding up her dress and running towards him. Her hair flew around her face and he found himself standing out of courtesy before repeating her words. "Don't drink the water?"
"Oh deary, please tell me you two didn't drink that." The elder woman wiped sweat from her brow and held her chest as she heaved. She was much too old to be running after people who don't know what they're getting into.
"And if we did?" Sanzo frowned as he stood next to Hakkai. He looked down at the sparkling water. Sanzo just knew he should have trusted his first judgement and stayed away from it. "Is it poisoned or something?"
"Poisoned? Oh my, no." The woman sighed. "But it might have well been."
"Hey, what's going on you guys! I'm starving over here!" Goku moaned as he walked over to the bank. He had been waiting patiently for Hakkai to cook (because that stupid water sprite had threatened to take all of the meat buns if he ate before the others!) but they were just standing there with an old lady.
"Doesn't your stomach ever turn off?" Gojyo mumbled as he joined the other three. He didn't see what the big deal was; it was just some old lady.
"Ah, just a minute. This nice lady was about to tell us something important about the water…Sanzo?" Hakkai turned the blonde man who had just lurched over holding his gut with one hand and his mouth with the other. He looked positively nauseous and Hakkai had to wonder what had brought this on so suddenly. "Are you alright?"
"Oh, you did drink it." The woman held her head with one hand and the free one remained wrapped in her apron. She turned to the seemingly more polite young lad with the monocle. "Did you drink it too, son?"
"Yes, I did." Hakkai was talking to the woman but his eyes were on Sanzo, whose shoulders were twitching. It looked like he was holding back vomit and the demon's hands instinctively headed for his own gut when it too lurched as if on cue. If this sudden sensation was what Sanzo was feeling right now, than Hakkai was impressed he hadn't spilled the contents of his stomach already. He managed to groan out a question. "May I ask what's happening?"
"You're both pregnant."
Gojyo was still laughing an hour later when they were seated comfortably inside of the old woman's (who was now introduced as 'Lin') house. The monk looked like hell ten times over and was radiating anger on his face while sulking in the corner. Hakkai had a grimace on his face, but was still much more in control. Goku was confused as all get out and was trying to weasel a 'birds and the bees' story out of somebody that could explain what was going on. "Pregnant!" Gojyo in the meantime, was more than content to laugh his head off.
"So," Goku started with his hands up while looking at the lady. "Because Sanzo and Hakkai drank water from this 'River of Motherhood' thing, they're both gonna' have a baby?"
"That's right. Well, more or less." Lin smiled softly. "Because this is the Land of Women. There are no men permitted to live here by our Queen, so the gods took pity and blessed us with a way to have children."
"The river right?" Goku nodded. This was really weird, but it was sort of making sense.
"Do forgive me from interrupting this lovely explanation." Hakkai's nails dug into his shirt as he gripped near his stomach. Was this how Kannon felt? To suddenly know there was something growing in your gut? Hakkai wasn't sure if he wanted to know; but he knew it ached something awful. "But is there any way to, um, get rid of this?" Actually, Hakkai wasn't sure how it was even possible for a man to get pregnant even with a Motherhood River, but he continued on. "As harsh as that sounds, I don't think men are quite equipped to birth children."
"No, they're not." The old lady smiled bitterly. "The poor boy that this happened to last time died. Baby destroyed his insides and killed them both."
"I see." Hakkai laughed. He suddenly understood his wife's need to cut the baby out with a knife. His sense of self preservation was on the verge of doing it himself. "How wonderful."
Sanzo groaned in the back and gripped at his robes. This was one hell of a cosmic joke. He was so decking the Merciful Goddess the next time he saw that man-woman thing. "So is there something we can do or what?" Sanzo growled out. He had no intention of being a daddy. He already had two kids to deal with. "Or do I need to cut the thing out?"
The woman winced at Sanzo's harsh comment. You wouldn't think he was talking about a baby, well. It's not like what she was going to suggest was any kinder. "The only way to stop it, is to drink water from the Abortion Spring."
"The Abortion Spring?" Gojyo laughed. Under normal circumstances, he might be more serious – but Sanzo and Hakkai were pregnant. How could he possibly keep a straight face? "This just keeps getting better and better!"
"Gojyo, do be quiet."
The water sprite shut up and sunk down in his chair. There were times when even he knew when to shut up. When Hakkai was glaring at you to the point where light reflected sinisterly off his monocle and his voice sounded like clipped ice, was a good time to shut up.
"Serves you right." Goku snorted. He didn't know how Gojyo could be laughing like that. Sanzo and Hakkai could die if they didn't get help. Sure, he kinda wanted to see what the babies would look like if Hakkai and Sanzo had them; he'd even bet there were adorable. But Goku didn't want to see them if it meant the other two were going to die! "How do we get to the Abortion Spring?"
"It's located on the mountain about ten miles south from here. It's found inside of a cave, however you might have a hard time getting it." The woman picked stood up to refill the cups of tea for her guests. "The last man didn't have enough money and offerings to appease the Master of the cave."
"The Master?" Goku blinked and took the cup that was handed to him. Sanzo, Gojyo and Hakkai were sitting quietly and listening. Seems they were going to just sit back and let Goku ask all the questions. "It's not free?"
Lin shook her head. "About a year ago, an immortal came to visit us and gave the cave to the Taoist Master as a gift and home for him and his followers. They're all hermits by nature so it was perfect for them." Lin took a soft sip of tea. "Because they hate to be bothered, if someone wants water from the spring they need to bring him a great deal of food, wine, money and other offerings."
"That's bullshit." Gojyo snorted and put his feet up on the table. "We should just storm in and take it."
"Well, what are you waiting for?" Sanzo reached for a pack of cigarettes before wincing. He could feel the bulge under his robes get bigger and he suddenly had a very important question. "Does the pregnancy from that river go faster than normal?"
Lin noticed the way the monk and his friend were holding their stomachs and nodded. "The rough estimate is about a day per month. So the baby should be fully formed in about three days." Lin looked towards the two healthy ones. "If you want the miscarriage to go successfully before there's too much damage, you'll have to get them the water by tomorrow."
"I'm going to go get it." Goku stood up. "I'm sure if we talk to him he'll listen to us."
"You're awfully optimistic there, Monkey." Gojyo chuckled and stood up from his chair and grinned at the other two. "Guess I'll have to go and clean up the mess when they don't listen."
"I don't need your help."
"Sure you don't. Ten miles south, huh? Sounds good." Gojyo gave a short wave near the top of his head. "We'll be off then. You two sit like good mommies and we'll be back. Don't go having the baby before we get back now."
"Get the fuck out before I shoot you." Sanzo pulled out his gun to fire a warning shot but dropped it at the shot of pain that went up his spine. He held his stomach with both hands and could feel the sweat forming at the top of his brow. Was that a kick? "Dammit."
Hakkai, too, was feeling the same painful spikes in his stomach just behind his scar, but he was much better at hiding it. The twitching of his hand in the fabric of his pants was the only give away. "Yes, thank-you for going you two. Please hurry." Hakkai chuckled.
"Don't worry, Sanzo!" Goku chirped as he grabbed his cape off the chair. "We'll definitely get the water for you."
"Good luck." Lin waved as the two headed out the door. She wished them the best of luck.
"We are so lost." Gojyo grumbled around an almost finished Hi-lite. He knocked off the smoldering ashes angrily as they stood on a cliff face. "I don't see any freaking caves."
"It's gotta be around here somewhere." Goku mumbled as he kicked a rock down the side of the drop. The longer they stood around doing nothing the more hurt Sanzo and Hakkai were going to be! They needed to find this Tao-guy quick! Goku squinted as he tried to look over the scenery and wondered why they didn't ask for better directions. They had brought Jeep along to make the drive faster, but the little dragon just wasn't up to driving on these steep cliffs. "Hey, is that it?"
"Huh?" Gojyo pulled out a new highlight and looked towards where the monkey was pointing. There was a dark indent in one side of the cliff with what looked to be shrine poles surrounding the entrance. There was a sign or something too, but Gojyo was unable to make out what it said. "Looks like the place to me."
The two headed down the side of the mountain face in a diagonal fashion to get to the supposed cave. After about ten minutes of maneuvering and climbing down they found themselves neatly on a small ledge in front of the cave opening. It was just tall enough to clear the antennae on Gojyo's head, but was rather narrow. The red posts surrounding it had small tags hanging off of it with various scriptures and seals. Goku bounced impatiently while Gojyo read the sign.
"Hermitage." Gojyo mumbled around his cigarette.
Goku scrunched his face as he tried to remember what Lin had told them. "Didn't the old lady say that the cave belonged to a bunch of hermits now?"
"Yeah, so this must be the place." Gojyo smirked and sauntered inside of the cave, happy there were a few candles lit to light the way. He cupped his hands around his mouth and called out "Anybody home!"
Goku nearly covered his ears when Gojyo's voice echoed off the walls in all directions. But before he could yell, he heard a sort of muttering coming from inside the cave. He blinked as a middle aged bald man came walking up dressed in simple robes. He had a mean sneer on his face and Goku's first impression was that this guy wasn't very nice. Must be why he's a hermit. "Hello."
"Well what do you brats want? This is the home of the great Master Taoist and his followers." The man scratched his head at the two ruffians sitting at his doorway. "If you're lost I'm not giving directions. Otherwise state your business."
"Well aren't you friendly?" Gojyo muttered under his breath. He took his cigarette and stabbed out the light on the wall before answering his grouchy host. "Our two friends got pregnant, we need some water from that Abortion Spring thing of yours."
"Please?" Goku added. "If they don't get it soon they're gonna' die!"
The man snorted. "Did you bring any offerings? This stuff isn't free you know."
"Listen here, buddy." Gojyo poked the man in the chest. "We're just travelers, we don't got a lot of money. Unless you take credit?"
"Well, than you can give us some for free out of pity or we can just take it by force." Gojyo grinned. "Up to you."
"You can try." The man smirked. These idiots didn't know who they were dealing with. "But if you'd like, you can talk to my master."
"Yeah, Gojyo." Goku nodded. "Let's talk to him and see if he'll help."
"Doubtful, but okay." Gojyo shrugged and started to follow the oh-too-smug monk guy into the cave. He knew something. That was for sure. "Move it, monkey."
"Don't call me a monkey!"
"Can I get you boys anything else?" Lin offered as she set a bowl of hot soup down in front of the two men. She doubted they actually ate anything the way their stomaches were turning, but it couldn't hurt to try. It might take their minds off of things.
"No, thank-you." Hakkai spoke through a smile. His stomach was aching and there were tiny nail marks in the woman's chair where he had gripped. Had his limiters been off, there would be definite indents. Sanzo wasn't fairing much better, only he was brooding more obviously in the corner surrounded by a mountain of smoke. The monk, too, was sporting a rather round, melon-shaped bulge from his gut. He was sure Sanzo, like Hakkai, had to open the his pants to account for the extra weight, but it was hard to tell with it hidden under the robe.
Hakkai ran a hand down his own and poked it. It was heavy, oddly placed, and still ached. Hakkai didn't know how women put up with this and he decided that if Gojyo ever got anyone pregnant he'd beat him. "How are you holding out, Sanzo?"
"Shut up." Sanzo growled and let his forehead fall on the table. If that monkey didn't get back in the next few minutes with that stupid water he was going to kill something.
Lin chuckled suddenly at the two moaning men. They both looked at her with curious expressions that concealed their annoyance. "Oh, I'm sorry. I was just thinking that it could be worse."
"I fail to see how." Sanzo muttered.
"Well, one of the younger girls could have seen you two boys first." Lin bit her lower lip. "Just because we get pregnant with a stream doesn't mean we still don't have, urges. They can get sort of vicious when a man manages to get by the guard station like yourself." At the sudden horrified looks of both Hakkai and Sanzo Lin laughed out loud. "Don't worry boys, I lost that edge a long time ago. Cute as you two are, pregnant fella's don't do it for me."
"Sanzo," Hakkai scolded. He was ignored of course, but that was beside the point. "We are thankful than that you found us first." Hakkai was interrupted when he heard a certain snort from across the room. He looked over at the now smirking monk and just had to question him. "What was funny?"
"We shouldn't tell the pervert until after we leave town." Sanzo grinned around his Marlboro. That was one way to brighten his bad day.
"Oh dear." Hakkai chuckled into his hand. Maybe it was the pain, but Sanzo's cruel little joke seemed like a delightful way to get revenge for Gojyo and Goku escaping this torment. "You're right. We shouldn't."
Lin paused before looking back and forth between the two sinister smirks. "Did I miss something?"
"No, Ma'am. Not at all." Hakkai smiled and pat his stomach.
Goku stared up at the man sitting on the chair. His legs were crossed and his red robe trimmed in gold laid out around him. His silver outfit underneath was heavily embroidered and his belt had jade trimmings. Goku spotted a staff leaning up against his seat; it had a hook on one end and the base was shaped like a long dragon – almost like Jeep! Though, what struck him the most were his red eyes. They were piercing and slit; this man was a demon. The man's voice echoed off of the cave walls when he spoke. "Why are you here?"
"We need water from the abortion spring for our friends." Goku started taking a few steps forward. "Can we have some?"
Gojyo snorted as he stood in front of the pompous man on the chair. He didn't look so tough. Even if he did look like he could give Sanzo a run for his money in the glaring department. "I'd think that'd we want the water would be obvious at this point after all the racket we made at the entrance."
"The old lady said we needed money and stuff, but we don't have any. Can we have some anyway? Sanzo and Hakkai are gonna' die if we don't!"
Gojyo watched as one of the old man's eyebrows rose and as the Taoist master sat up straighter. There was a glint in those eyes that Gojyo didn't like. "Something interesting, there?"
"Did you say 'Sanzo?'" The Master questioned with a slight grin. "As in Genjo Sanzo, keeper of one of the Five Founding Scriptures of Heaven and Earth?"
"Yeah." Goku nodded and scratched his head. "How'd you know?"
"If that's the case, than no. He can rot." The older man out right laughed heartily in his seat. He gave his knee a good slap in his mirth. "A fitting ending for such a 'girly' priest if what I've heard about him holds accurate."
"Hey!" Goku shouted.
"Chill, monkey." Gojyo chuckled. "Sanzo does look like a chick. Though, it would be nice to know why knowing who he is would make you say a definite 'no' for an answer."
"That's easy." The Master stood up and lifted his staff from its place. Maybe he'd have a bit of fun today. He had heard much about the Sanzo party lately. "As much as I'd like to take care of that man and kill him myself for my dear Nephew, I am a hermit by nature and therefore can not leave this cave. So, this will have to do."
"Nephew?" Goku summoned his own red staff as the battle aura started radiating off of their host. "What are you talking about."
"You've met him." The man laughed as he started with a forward thrust to break the two demon traitors up from each other. The impact of his staff made a scratch in the floor, but he really didn't care. "I guess I should introduce myself formally." The man stood and bowed as the other two took fighting stances. "I am the Brother of Gyumaoh, Uncle of Prince Kougaiji- the Taoist Master."
"Kougaiji's uncle?" Gojyo spoke around his cigarette. "You've gotta' be kidding me."
"No, I'm quite serious." The man laughed and took a swing at brunette. The boy dodged well, but he managed to catch the boy's ankle with the hook and trip him. The brunette hit the ground with a thud and a growl that go the man's blood boiling. "So you'll understand my reasoning to not give you the water that you seek."
Goku pushed himself up from the floor quickly and took a swing at the man himself. Even if he was related to Kougaiji, they needed that water! Plus, this guy was looking to be as good a fighter as the demon prince! Goku's blood was in a rush and he was almost excited. "Gojyo, go get the water! I'll handle this guy."
"Sounds good to me!" Gojyo gave a salute and headed off towards a door he had spotted behind the man's chair. The water had to be back there somewhere. The red-head left Goku to fight the big dude and if he was still having trouble later, than the good old water sprite would save his tail. Though, he started to groan inwardly when he saw a few bald guys in white start to stand in his path. "Bring it on, losers!"
Goku smirked as he saw Gojyo disappear into the cave. He took a few steps to round the man with the staff who was in a very practiced fighting pose. This was going to be fun. "Now then, where were we?"
"I believe I was getting some exercise by beating on a monkey." The Taoist Master smirked as he dashed forward staff in hand. He pulled the hook down over his head aiming to slice the boy across the chest in one swoop.
Goku clashed his own staff upwards to catch it together with the hook and pressed his face up close. His teeth were grit as he grinned deviously in the excitement of adrenaline. "I'm not a monkey."
"We'll see about that!"
"If those two morons don't come back in the next five minutes I'm shooting them both in the head with or without the water. I mean it this time!" Sanzo moaned into the table and bashed his fist onto the wooden surface. The thing in his stomach had gotten to the size where it was pressing up against organs and his bones. The pain was excruciating and he needed to go to the bathroom every five minutes thanks to the added gods-be-damned pressure.
Hakkai was in agreement as his forehead rested on the tabletop across from his pregnant-mate; Hakkai was still surprised Sanzo had left his corner to join him at the table. His own pants were split open and pulled down as far as they could go to allow the stomach to sit overtop the belt line without exposing himself improperly. Not that you could see anything with this bulge hanging in front. Lin was staying out of sight to leave to the two men to groan and grumble. He had a suspicion she was tired of their whining and was saving them a "women do this all the time get over yourselves" speech. Hakkai was both grateful and angry. He would have loved to taken this frustration out on someone.
Sanzo somehow managed to reach and light a cigarette when he looked up to see the door burst open. Gojyo and Goku stood in the doorway; one hunched and one bouncing in giddiness. He wondered if he could manage to shoot one of them through the pain. "What happened to you two?"
"Yes, are you two alright?" Hakkai sat up from his hunched form over the table. Gojyo's shirt was ripped and he had a small jug hanging from his hand. Plus, his red hair was frazzled everywhere. Goku looked to be in even worse shape with cuts and bruises galore; but at least Goku was smiling and looking like Christmas came early. "What happened?"
"That was awesome!" Goku threw his hands up. "We had this totally big fight with Kougaiji's uncle and he's better than Kougaiji at fighting and he has a dragon staff hook thing and he was all fast and stuff! And he kept up with me and we were totally an equal match but I beat him down and-"
"Shut it, monkey." Gojyo growled and smacked the youngest of the group in the back of the head. "We get it. You had a big awesome fight with the Tao-guy and I had to fight a million and one hermit acolytes to get a small jug of water." Gojyo dropped the jug on the table before muttering "Should have let them stay pregnant" under his breath. If he saw another guy in a white robe with no hair, than Sanzo was going to look like a purring pussy cat when he exploded in rage.
"Ah, thank-you, Gojyo." Hakkai stated as the other man collapsed on the couch in the corner. He would feel pity, but there was no way that he was suffering worse than Hakkai or Sanzo.
"Oh, you two are back." Lin spoke as she walked out. She smiled and clasped her hands together. "And you got the water!"
Goku nodded happily before rubbing some dirt off his cheek. He couldn't remember the last time he had a fight that good before! And since the hermit was a hermit, when he lost Goku knew he wasn't going to come back after Sanzo. Goku almost wanted to go back for a rematch; it had been a really close call! If Goku hadn't knocked the hook staff away at the last minute, he might have lost. "Now Sanzo and Hakkai won't die, right? Right?"
"Yes, calm down." Lin laughed at the energetic young lad. "All they need to do is drink about half a cup and what's grown will disintegrate away."
"Disintegrate?" Hakkai looked at the jug of water and grimaced. She hadn't mentioned that part earlier. How did it control what was disintegrated? What about their organs? "Are you sure this is safe? We could just cut it out, maybe?"
Gojyo sat straight up and pointed. "We went through all the trouble of getting that damn water, now you're going to drink it."
Sanzo rolled his eyes and reached for the jug. Goku had started to say 'hey wait just a minute' before Sanzo took a gulp of water straight from the jar. If it made this pain in his gut go away, it'd be worth the internal damage. He winced after it passed his lips and burned its way down his throat. Reminded him of whisky. "Bitter."
Hakkai chuckled. "Well, can't let Sanzo and you guys be the only ones to risk their neck, now can I?" Hakkai took an equal gulp himself and waited. It wasn't so bad, though after a moment or two he found his hand covering his mouth. He was suddenly aware of what morning sickness felt like.
Sanzo was quick to follow Hakkai as he dashed out the door, his hands also trying to keep the vomit contained. He joined his brunette companion in doubling over outside of the house in the side yard. He wondered what favors he would have to pull to get that river struck out of existence in the name of the faith. Whatever it was; it'd be worth it.
"Are they gonna' be okay?" Goku asked as he nudged his head around the corner of the door. He couldn't remember the last time he'd seen Sanzo on his knees vomiting. He was really heaving; Hakkai wasn't doing much better. "They don't look so good."
Lin looked out the door and pat the boy on the head. "They'll be fine; completely normal so don't worry. Would you like a piece of pie I just made?"
"Yeah!" Goku jumped up, the hunger in his stomach suddenly coming to the forefront of his mind. Now that he knew the others were okay, he had no problem indulging in food. Pie, a big adventure, and they saved Sanzo and Hakkai. How could this day have been any betteR? "Pie!"
Gojyo shook his head as the kid ran off after the old lady in the kitchen. He stood at the door and watched Hakkai and the monk heave their guts out before lighting up a cigarette. "When you two ladies are done, come join us for some pie." Gojyo couldn't help one last jab. "Unless of course you don't want to ruin your girlish figures."
"Shut up and die!"
Gojyo dropped his cigarette out of his mouth and shrunk back into the room feeling two inches tall. "Yes, Hakkai."