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Fight! Special Peace Taskforce Team Justice!

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There was a day in the life of every member of the Ministry of Justice's Division of Specialized Labor when they realized they weren’t quite like other members of society. In the seven years since the existence of the Division and its employees had come to light, this had become a staple interview topic and plot point in every comic book, television drama, and badly-written movie featuring this very small, very unique subset of the population.

Gojyo remembered seeing Goku -- fully costumed and in character, of course -- explain to a TBS reporter how at age eight, he'd accidentally blasted a three-meter-wide crater in the back of their property trying to free the family dog from the remains of a collapsed shed after an earthquake. His adopted father and brother had run from the house to find him standing in the middle of the crater, clinging to the dog and crying like a baby. It was at that point they'd ushered him into the kitchen and explained that there were people who could do things other people couldn’t ... and that he was one of them.

Gojyo was glad it was a good memory for Goku. He really and truly was. His own experience, though, had been much less of a heartwarming family story and more of the ultimate in fucked-up endings to a shitty-ass childhood.

After his parents had offed themselves in some sort of twisted suicide pact, he'd been left with a stepmom who'd turned out to be a piece of fucking work. Things hadn't been that bad for a couple of years -- his half-brother, Doku, was a good guy and had taken a lot of the heat for him -- but after his stepmom had gotten fired from her job at the convenience store for showing up drunk one too many times, she'd started working the bars in Shinjuku. And from there, things got worse and worse. At the time, Gojyo hadn't known the precise details of what she'd been doing, but he'd been around the block enough to know it hadn't been anything to be proud of.

The next few minutes were a blur in Gojyo's mind, something that his brain had blessedly allowed him to forget. But for as long as he would live, he would never forget what came next: the feel of her fingernails cutting into the skin at the back of his neck and her thumbs pressing into his windpipe, cutting off the flow of air. He would never forget how it felt to struggle uselessly or how it felt as the grey around his field of vision began to close in on him.

Most of all, though, he would never forget what that first rush of new, terrifying power felt like as it exploded outward from him, reaching deep into to the river beneath them and fetching a column of water that extended ten meters in the air before washing him and his stepmother over the bridge railing and into the dark, frigid water.

The police had ruled her death an accident: a tragic drowning after a family dispute had developed into a physical altercation. The bloody scratches and bruises around Gojyo's neck had been enough to convince them of that. It had been exactly what they'd hoped for: a simple explanation for an unfortunate situation, cut and dry. That day, Gojyo had sat on the riverbank, wrapped in a scratchy woolen towel, the voices of the emergency responders echoing in his still-stunned mind, and decided he would never tell anyone what had really happened.

He would never admit that he was the one who had altered the flow of the river after they'd both toppled over the railing ... and he would most certainly never admit to pushing himself to safety at the surface while somehow using that strange new power to drag his stepmom to the bottom, where he could somehow feel her fighting against the current for endless seconds before she finally stopped moving. It was the kind of feeling that he knew, even at that young age, that would haunt him forever. But he knew he could never tell anyone, not even Doku.

Today, fifteen years later, Gojyo knew he'd made a damned good decision. Life had thrown him one hell of a curve ball -- a chance at redemption, if you will -- and he knew that the peace-loving citizens of Tokyo wouldn't take very kindly to realizing one of their beloved Team Justice had used his powers for evil, not good.

Some shit was best left in the past.

——-

There was no arguing that August was miserable in the city. Any other month, Gojyo didn't mind leaving his apartment to head in to the office, but in August the combination of humidity and blinding summer sun was brutal. Add to that the hot exhaust being blasted into the streets from massive air conditioning units and the reflective heat of concrete as far as the eye could see, and the whole city was left with a recipe for one hell of an uncomfortable commute.

Gojyo was a pretty grateful guy in general -- his life was shaping up to be a damned good ride -- but he was particularly grateful for the lovely block of high-rise apartments the MoJ had secured for him and his teammates. They were ultra-secure (for Sanzo), hermetically sealed (for Hakkai), constantly stocked with food (for Goku), and one-hundred percent climate controlled. It made for comfortable nights and lazy mornings, but when he finally had to emerge into the city it could be a jolt to the system.

Still, though, he figured it could be a lot worse. Goku, for example, was under strict orders to avoid the subway at all costs and the trip from his university to the office was a good 45 minutes by bike. Gojyo felt kind of bad for him: Goku’d gotten a lot better at controlling himself over the years, but it was still a bad idea for him to spend too much time underground with so many people around. People were the ultimate distraction for Goku, and when he got distracted, things tended to happen.

Out in the open or away from the city a little slip-up wasn't much of a problem, but with as fragile and cobbled together as Tokyo’s underground infrastructure was, even a small, accidental shift in a layer of sediment could be dangerous. And unfortunately, that was the kind of thing Goku could make happen without even realizing it.

Gojyo grinned. Stupid chimp.

Walking into the foyer, Gojyo was greeted with a welcome blast of cool air and a "good morning!" from Keiko, the building receptionist. Once upon a time, Keiko would have just the kind of girl he would have invited out for a bit of dinner after work, followed by a very special dessert back at Chez Gojyo; however, the suits at the Department had decided that fraternization with the staff was "unseemly and to be avoided." So, that’d put an end to that sort of thing.

Funny, he found he minded it less than he would have imagined six months ago. After all, there were recent developments that were even more appealing than pretty little Keiko. Just went to show that times could really fucking change.

He gave a wave to Keiko-chan as he slid his card into the reader by the elevator doors, which immediately opened to let him in and as the doors shut behind him, the elevator automatically began its ascent to the 21st floor: home of Cho Construction. Upon arrival, he walked past the empty reception desk, a neat sign sitting atop it explaining the receptionist had temporarily stepped away and asking guests to ring a buzzer for assistance. He always found it kind of funny that clients never caught on that the nonexistent receptionist was perpetually away from her desk.

He was unsurprised to see that Hakkai and Sanzo had already arrived. Sanzo was at his desk, tearing through a mound of paperwork with an even greater scowl than usual gracing his stunning visage, while Hakkai leaned over one of the drafting tables by the window, looking over a series of what appeared to be plumbing blueprints.

“Yo.” Gojyo dumped his bag at his desk and crossed the room to the coffee maker, grabbing a cup to fill.

“You're late,” Sanzo commented, not even bothering to look up.

"Yeah, and you're an asshole -- so what?" Gojyo took a slug of coffee, running air over it in his mouth to cool it before swallowing, the rich taste almost melting away the pains of his commute. Sanzo may have been a pain in the ass to deal with, but Gojyo appreciated the fact that he had an taste for some of the finer things in life, including good coffee.

"Good morning, Gojyo -- I trust you slept well?" Hakkai was tuned to polite and inoffensive twenty four hours a day, seven days a week -- even when he was handing a crook his balls. "If you have a moment, I'm hoping you could go over these blueprints with me.”

"Oooh, a new project?" It had been a while since they'd gotten a call for something large enough to need blueprints. Gojyo would never admit it to anyone, but he'd been hoping something a little more challenging would come in. "Where're we headed to?"

"Meguro station," Hakkai replied, beaming.

“Meguro? Really?” That was a much busier area than where they generally worked. He crossed over to the drafting table and began flipping through the papers quickly.

“Tokyu Corporation called," Sanzo said from his desk, obviously not planning to bother himself with joining them. "They want to build another of those deluxe spas for the mid-city yuppie assholes ... complete with water brought up from a hot spring they're praying we're going to find somewhere under all that mess.”

“Another specialty drilling project for Cho Construction!” Hakkai ratcheted up the smile to maximum intensity.

This was the kind of thing that Hakkai looked forward to more than all the holidays of the year combined. With the assistance of a couple of unattached telekinetics from the Division, Gojyo’s water abilities combined with Goku’s earth-moving talents could get the job done in a single afternoon. Hakkai would then bill for a full six months of labor for an imaginary crew of 100. Even after the Division’s substantial cut, it was the kind of project Hakkai probably had wet dreams about.

Ugh. Gojyo shuddered. There were some thoughts that just shouldn't be thought, particularly about a guy's best friend. That train of thought was thankfully interrupted by the sound of Goku arriving, straight from his morning classes and sweating more than any single human being should. As he rushed into the room in a flurry of energy, Gojyo couldn’t help noticing the way his damp t-shirt clung to his chest or how his very tight pair of bike shorts left absolutely nothing to the imagination.

He also couldn't help noticing the way Gojyo Junior twitched in appreciation.

Later, he promised, as if mentally talking to one's dick was nothing out of the ordinary.

"Hey guys!" Goku set his bag on his desk and rummaged around, eventually pulling out a big bottle of water and proceeding to gulp half of it down. It reminded Gojyo of the opening to one of those cheesy sports club pornos -- the ones where the unsuspecting young athlete gets happily accosted in the locker room by a group of oversexed jocks.

Not that Gojyo watched a lot of shit like that or anything.

Nope.

"Thanks for coming in, Goku," Hakkai said. "I know the commute across town is less than pleasant in this heat."

Goku wiped his mouth with his arm before putting the bottle down on his desk. "Nah, it wasn't that bad. I stopped for a while in the park and there was this little old lady with a hu~ge Doberman. It was like double her size!!"

"You'd better not go anywhere near my coffee maker with dog hands," Sanzo grumbled. Everyone knew Goku was physically incapable of ignoring a dog when one was in the vicinity.

"Hey, I used those wet wipe things you keep shoving in my bag!"

"You're sweating all over the place." Sanzo wrinkled his nose, like Goku had tracked in dog shit in addition to the copious amounts of sweat he was producing. Frankly, Gojyo didn't see anything wrong with that last part.

"How was class?" Hakkai questioned, obviously trying to steer the conversation away from Sanzo's weird obsession with Goku's personal hygiene.

“Oh man, we’re finally gettin’ to the good stuff in Geodynamics ... you know, the numbers behind the stuff I kinda already know.” Goku paused to take another long drink of water, his Adam's apple bobbing in time with his swallows. “I mean, it's easy to know how somethin’s gonna work out when I mess with it, but now I can figure out why it’s gonna work that way. It’s pretty awesome.”

“It’s always exciting to understand more about what we can do, isn’t it." Hakkai smiled.

"Yeah, yeah," Gojyo turned away from the blueprints, brushing his hair over his shoulder. "You guys can talk theory all day long, I'd rather go out there, get the job done, and get me some tender lovin' care from a pretty little thing who appreciates the appeal of a man who knows how to work his hands."

He punctuated this with a wink that would mean vastly different things to different people.

Goku snorted. "Bragging about how much you jack off ain't gonna help you pick up nobody."

"Boys, please." Hakkai shook his head, somehow managing to look more like a middle-aged father than a guy in his twenties.

It was all Gojyo could do to not start laughing on the spot.

Back when this whole thing with Goku had started, Gojyo was the one who'd insisted they keep everything on the down-low. And to be honest, based on the way Goku wore everything on his sleeve, Gojyo'd thought he'd wake up one night with a shotgun shell embedded in his balls courtesy of one pissed off big brother. He was pleasantly surprised to discover Goku could take to deception like a fish to water when he was properly motivated. And Gojyo made sure he remained very, very motivated.

It was funny, though -- they'd never been shy about tossing around the insults before, but it seemed like the fact they were fucking around behind everyone's back had somehow resulted in Goku making even greater digs at Gojyo's manhood and sexual prowess. Still ...anything to keep Big Brother Sanzo out of their business, right?

Besides, Gojyo had a couple of ideas for payback later, and all of them promised to be highly enjoyable.

"So, did Hakkai tell ya about the Tokyu project?" Goku asked as he made his way to the drafting table.

“Yeah." Gojyo turned back to the blueprints. "Sounds like it's gonna be right up our alley. I can tell you right now, I’m 99% sure that aquifer we used in Shibuya stretches this far.” He tapped the area of the paper that corresponded with what he knew was a run-down shopping mall. “But damn -- between the subway lines and existing plumbing, we’re gonna have a hell of a lot of trouble getting at it.”

The phone rang just at Gojyo reached for the pack of cigarettes on the table next to them. He lit up and took a deep drag, exhaling in pure pleasure as Hakkai dashed to answer the phone.

“Yeah, you're right.” Goku frowned. “That area’s pretty busy. Things are probably packed tight down there.”

"If either one of you says 'that's what she said,' " Sanzo suddenly commented, "I will kill both of you."

Goku dissolved into a fit of smothered laughter.

"I'm sorry, Sanzo-sama," Gojyo said, taking another drag, "is our discussion about work disturbing you?"

"Fuck off."

"Yeah, Sanzo -- what're you workin' on?" Goku stood on his tiptoes, trying to get a good view of whatever the hell was going down on Sanzo's desk.

"Paperwork."

"Yeah, but what kind of paperwork?"

"The official kind."

"What, you putting in another request to change your alias?" Gojyo laughed. Sanzo hated his alias and Gojyo loved giving him shit about it.

"Has it been six months already?" Goku asked, giving up on stealth and directly leaning over Sanzo's desk. "Oh wow, it has been."

Jeez, the guy never fucking gave up. Six rejections and he was still going strong. Gojyo was pretty sure Sanzo'd be putting in a request a week if there weren't rules in place about how often the paperwork could be submitted.

" 'The Great and Powerful Sanzo'?" Goku read. "Are you serious? Come on ... they're never gonna approve that in a million years ... it's the worst one yet. And it uses your real name -- you can’t do that!"

"Fuck. Off."

Gojyo could practically taste the ice in Sanzo's voice. If looks could kill, Goku would have died a thousand deaths in that instant.

"Hey, I'm just sayin'." Goku shrugged, totally unfazed.

"I don't know why you waste your time ... Purple Borealis..." Gojyo drawled, not quite ready to let this one go.

He ducked just in time to avoid the red Swingline stapler Sanzo launched at him on a small, concentrated burst of air. The guy wasn't a telekinetic in the true sense of the word, but his control of air currents made pretty much anything around him a potential projectile. Dodging the shit Sanzo launched at him on a daily basis had honed Gojyo's reflexes better than any martial arts training could.

“Gentlemen, please let me remind you that the repair bill for any broken windows will be deducted from both your paychecks," Hakkai said as he hung up the phone. He sighed, shoulders slumping just the slightest of bits.

"What's up?" Goku asked, bending own to pick up the stapler that had fallen just past his feet.

"I'm sorry to say that the Tokyu project is going to have to wait just a bit, Hakkai explained. "Director Kanzeon has requested an immediate meeting.”

“What, with all four of us?” Goku sounded as surprised as Gojyo felt.

“Did we fuck up or something?” Gojyo was pretty sure the last time she'd asked to meet with all of them at once was that time they'd accidentally decimated a Family Mart and spent so much time arguing about whose fault it was that the crooks got away scot-free.

.... for the record, it had been Sanzo's.

“Jiroushin-san didn’t indicate anything of the sort, but he did emphasize that meeting was regarding the most urgent of matters.” Hakkai made his way to the blank wall directly opposite the large bank of windows that made up one side of the room. There, he flipped up the climate control panel, revealing a simple data entry pad.

“Oh, please,” Gojyo said as Hakkai punched a series of numbers into the pad. “That man thinks Kanzeon getting a hangnail is 'the most urgent of matters.' ” He punctuated the last part with air quotes.

“Well, perhaps in order to ensure Jiroushin-san’s continued cardiac health, we should regroup on the project after we see what exactly this urgent matter is," Hakkai commented, stepping away from the wall as the locks in the ceiling popped open and the gear mechanism started up.

The wall suddenly split at the middle seam and the two pieces began to slide apart, revealing a large, darkened space. The lights automatically came up, illuminating Team Justice’s control room, which was easily double the size of the construction office. The oversized screen on the right wall also turned on automatically, showing an animation of the hilariously corny team logo spinning lazily in place. Gojyo still couldn't believe it had taken two months and eighteen hours of meetings to sort the that piece of shit out. Governmental bureaucracy was a bitch.

As the last of the wall slid out of view, the bank of lights on the far wall turned on to illuminate a series of four plastic cylinders, each two meters tall and containing the bane of their existences: bright, garish, tight as hell and hotter than fuck spandex suits, complete with masks and matching capes.

And codpieces. No one could possibly forget the codpieces.

They'd been at this justice shit long enough that they'd all pretty much gotten over the embarrassment of wearing the fuckers in public, but even so, Gojyo's balls retracted just the tiniest bit every time he saw the damned things. If that center seam in the crotch wasn't just so, chasing some two-bit criminal through the back alleys of Kabukicho could result in one hell of a chafe job.

A red light on the control panel in front of the viewscreen began to flash, indicating there was an incoming call from headquarters.

Gojyo grabbed a seat next to the ashtray and took one last drag on his cigarette before putting it out. Hakkai sat down at his normal spot in front of the panel and entered the unlock code.

"Hello boys..." The audio feed began a split second before the video kicked in, showing Director Kanzeon, impeccably dressed as always.

"Director Kanzeon, we're terribly sorry to keep you waiting," Hakkai said in reply.

"What do you want?" Sanzo groused, throwing his legs up on the table and shoving a finger in his ear.

"And good morning to you too, my dear nephew," she replied, her smile unaffected by Sanzo's abrupt question. Gojyo figured she was used to this kind of shit from the guy. He'd known Sanzo for a good ten years and he'd never been anything but a total dick to his aunt. Granted, he was a dick to most people, so it really shouldn't come as much of a shock.

"Look..." she continued, "we could sit around making small talk and discussing the heat or the insane alcohol bills the four of you have been running up for the next ten minutes, but I have the shitstorm of the century brewing here and a manicure scheduled at 3:00. I really don't have time for the pleasantries."

"Pleasant, my ass," Sanzo mumbled.

"As always -- a ray of sunshine, darling Kouryuu." She actually blew him a kiss before shuffling through what sounded like a stack of papers just off screen.

"Don't fucking call me that," Sanzo growled. He hated his family's nickname for him almost as much as he hated his alias. Gojyo actually had personal experience with that; he'd been a smartass and called Sanzo it once in high school. He’d got a broken nose in response.

"What's up, Aunt Kanzeon?" Goku asked, resorting to to the tried and true family-peacemaking-through-distraction technique.

"There's not another competitor, is there?" Hakkai interjected suddenly, his voice laced with concern. Gojyo couldn't help rolling his eyes. Man, Hakkai had to get over that shit.

The guy'd been worried about another competing team showing up since Mitsubishi Corporation had unveiled The Fabulous Foursome last year. In the beginning, they'd talked a lot of shit about how Team Justice was obsolete and how the private sector could do it better. For some reason none of them could figure out, Hakkai had taken this very, very personally.

"Oh, darling," Kanzeon began, "if only it were that simple." She reached down and suddenly the video stream was replaced by a still image. Upon inspection, it was a scan of a note, sloppily written on a piece of lined paper that appeared to have been torn out of a school notebook---

"We received this last week in an unmarked envelope."

Gojyo was confused. It read pretty much like every standard wannabe threat letter. The Department got a dozen of them a month; most of them were pranks, and those that weren't were generally dealt with quickly and easily. "So ... what, another hotshot gunning for super villain status?"

"Yeah, what's the big deal?" Goku said as he leaned back in his chair and scratched his stomach lazily, the action revealing a strip of bare, tanned skin. Gojyo tried real hard to not think about what exactly that spot felt like on his tongue the last time he'd had the chance to have a taste.

... for the record, that had been yesterday morning.

"I do believe it's been several months since we've been called in to deal with something like this," Hakkai said, breaking the silence. "Is there something unique about this particular threat?"

"Well, for one, the forensics department have been able to turn up nothing on who the sender might have been," Kanzeon said as the screen split, allowing them to see both her and the note at the same time.

"Even the psychics?" Goku asked, perking up.

"Particularly the psychics," Kanzeon replied. "They couldn't even tell where the trees that made the paper had come from. Whoever sent this is capable of completely eliminating all psychic data from an object."

To anyone else, she would seem as calm and collected as ever, but Gojyo was generally damned good at reading people and he was pretty sure he'd never seen Kanzeon this freaked out before.

Shit.

"Do we even have anyone capable of doing that?" Hakkai asked.

"No, we don't." Kanzeon leaned back in her chair and sighed softly. "As a matter of fact, we have no record of anyone with that ability. Ever."

Damn. It wasn't often the Department turned up someone with a completely unprecedented ability. They had reliable records dating back more than a hundred and fifty years and they covered a lot of people who could do a lot of crazy shit.

"Well, whoever it is likes bunnies," Goku said pointing to the caricature of a rabbit where the note's signature should have been.

"God, don't get me started on that one," Kanzeon said. "That particular feature has made my life damned difficult. Do you have any how hard it is to get people to take a threat seriously when they're referring to it as 'Bunny-chan'?"

Gojyo, in fact, did not. But considering the kooks who worked up in Admin, he could imagine Kanzeon had her hands full.

"So, anonymous note with standard threats, no psychic traces, bad drawing ..." Sanzo shrugged. "Why the fuck do we need to know about this?"

"This." The note was replaced by a picture that took Gojyo a minute to process. It was a grainy picture of Hakkai -- a much younger Hakkai -- in a school uniform, smiling as he leaned toward a young girl with long, brown hair.

"Oh my god," Goku started laughing. "Hakkai, is that you? You look so young."

Sanzo reached back and thwapped him across the head.

Gojyo turned to give Hakkai a little shit about the truly terrible mullet he was sporting in the picture, but was silenced by the look of absolute shock he saw on Hakkai's face.

"On the back," Kanzeon said, "it reads, 'I bet our citizens would love to know exactly what happened next.' The 'love' is underlined, by the way."

Gojyo would have never known it was possible for the blood to drain from a person's face that quickly, had he not watched it happen to Hakkai just then.

"What does that mean, Hakkai?" Goku had the good sense to sound concerned.

"That's not all," Kanzeon said before Hakkai could reply.

There was a quick shuffle and another picture appeared on the screen. It took Gojyo a full five seconds to process what he was seeing and when he did, the world went the slightest bit fuzzy around him. There, on the screen, was a picture of him as a young teenager, sitting on the riverbank behind the house where he grew up. He was soaking wet and had an orange emergency blanket draped around his shoulders.

"This one reads, 'Did you like how it felt?' "

Gojyo's first coherent thought was that the expression he saw staring back at him held none of the darkness he remembered from that day. It was the blank, stunned look of a boy who had just been in a terrible accident, not what you would expect of newly-fledged murderer.

He didn' t know how long the room was silent, but it was Hakkai who finally spoke, his voice cold.

"You don't know anything about who sent these?"

"Not a single thing," Kanzeon admitted, hitting the panel beside her and resuming full screen mode. "But by both of your reactions, I assume these pictures hold some significance."

Gojyo nodded in acknowledgment, but he wasn't going to say a damned thing he didn't have to.

"There was one last thing." She held up a blank photo and turned it over, holding it up to the camera in front of her.

" 'There are more where those came from,' " she read. " 'Come and get them.' "

"How're we supposed to do that if we don't know anything about who sent 'em?" Goku raised a damned good point.

"Director Kanzeon," Hakkai said suddenly, "I want to begin by offering my deepest apology for putting the Department in such a difficult position." His back was ramrod straight as he bowed deeply from his chair.

Shit. When Hakkai defaulted to this level of formality, there was generally something very wrong. Of course, if Hakkai's secret was anything like his own, Gojyo could understand the reaction.

"I have to tell you," Hakkai continued, "that if this person is implying they have certain information or photographs about the situation to which I think they are referring ... and they plan to go public with them, it will be a PR nightmare of absolutely disastrous proportions." There was a long silence before Hakkai added, "I cannot emphasize this enough."

"Would you care to explain?"

Hakkai looked around the room, eyes darting between the three of them. "I would prefer not to at this point, if you don't mind."

"As a matter of fact, I do mind." Kanzeon's voice was steely.

Hakkai opened his mouth, only to close it again and sigh heavily through his nose. "That is a photograph of my twin sister and me. From our first year in high school."

"So?" Sanzo, always the sensitive one.

"We were ... " He stopped, obviously searching for words. "At the time ... we were somewhat ... shall we say 'closer' ... than propriety would dictate."

There were times when Gojyo wasn't great at reading between the lines, but this was not one of them.

Ho. ly. Shit.

"We were also extremely vigilant about privacy," Hakkai continued quickly. "I don't know how anyone would have gotten this picture, much less known about ..." His voice trailed off.

"I see." Kanzeon's expression didn't change. "Gojyo?" Her eyes shifted to him.

"What?"

"Do you share similar concerns?"

He had no intention of answering in the affirmative, but he had to say something.

"That was the day my stepmom died. She was drunk and tried to choke me to death. We fell over a bridge; I made it to shore, she didn't." Short, sweet, and leaving out all mention of his role in that last part.

"It ain't the kind of thing I'd like out in the public domain, that's for sure," he added. "But I don't remember any cameras that day. I don't remember anyone there other than the cops and EMS. I don't know who could have gotten that shot or why they would have wanted to."

Keeping it in the family or killing the family - Gojyo really didn't know which one would take the cake in this situation.

"So, let me get this straight," Sanzo said, finally taking his feet off the table and assuming a somewhat attentive posture. "We have some hotshot who managed to get pictures of and/or information about these two. Said hotshot either has or has access to the ability to wipe all psychic information from objects."

"Exactly."

"What do they want?" Goku asked, a puzzled expression on his face. "I mean, I don't know if this is blackmail or coercion or what, but don't people generally want something when they do stuff like this?"

"He wants you to go after him, darling," Kanzeon replied—

"This is his invitation."

——-

Gojyo took a slug of cold, cold beer and looked out across the Tokyo skyline. There was something about seeing the lights stretch out as far as he could see, each pinprick of light another window out of which another guy might be looking, just like him.

And one of them was the guy they were looking for.

They'd been at it for almost three weeks and had turned up nada. Going on nothing was damned frustrating and the lack of success -- the lack of anything -- was demoralizing as hell. Work at Cho Construction had been put on an indefinite hold, much to Hakkai's chagrin, and every moment they weren't spandexed up and on patrol for the good of the city, they were undercover, trying to turn up any leads.

Net to date: a big, fat zero.

Tonight, though, Kanzeon the Merciful had seen fit to give them some time off, which meant there was some high-quality stress release just on the horizon. Gojyo'd been looking forward to this all day.

The "pin-pon" of the interphone was soon followed by his front door opening.

"Gojyo," Goku called from the entryway. "You in here?"

"Yeah, come on in." Gojyo took another long slug of beer before putting the bottle on the windowsill, well out of the way of any future activities, and moving toward the entryway. Goku was just slipping out of his shoes and stepping up into the apartment. His hair was damp and sticking in all directions, meaning he'd just come from the shower.

Perfect.

"So hey, do you wanna go out for something to eat?" Goku started. "Or we could..."

"Nope," Gojyo cut him off. "I don't even want to think about leaving the apartment for at least the next twelve hours."

"That's cool." Goku grinned as he ran a hand through his hair, which only made the mess worse. "There's this really awesome Indian place that just started delivering..."

Gojyo reached out and grabbed him by the wrist, pulling him flush against his body. It was easy to slide his hands down and around to grab two handfuls of round, muscular ass, pulling Goku tight against him and grinding his hips in just the right way.

He was pleased to note that he wasn't the only one half-hard already.

He leaned down, growling into Goku's ear, "We can eat later."

"Yeah, okay." There wasn't a second of hesitation before Goku snaked a hand around his waist to anchor himself, leaning back and tilting his head enough to capture Gojyo's mouth in a searing kiss.

One of the things Gojyo found damned hot about fucking around with Goku is that he was always, always up for it. The ladies generally needed a bit of sweet talking and even when they were in the mood, he had to ease into things most times. Goku could go from zero to gagging for it in under ten seconds. By the feel of how things were developing, he might have been going for a new record.

Gojyo had him up against the wall of the entryway before long, his hand toying with the lines of those delicious abs while Goku made quick work of unbuttoning his pants and shoving his hand straight down the front.

"Fuck," Gojyo breathed into his mouth at the feel of Goku's palm flat against his cock. He was fully hard after about two strokes and found himself wishing the lube wasn't all the way in the bedroom. It would be hot as hell to turn Goku around right then and there and fuck him against the entryway wall.

Still, there were other things that could be done without the need for supplies. Gojyo pulled back suddenly, breaking their kiss, extracting Goku's hand from his pants, and dropping to his knees. He made quick work of undoing Goku's jeans, then pulling them and his boxers down in one quick motion, revealing Goku's cock -- thick, tip glistening, and looking damned good enough to eat.

He figured he'd make quick work of things here, then take Goku back to the bedroom and take his time, dismantling him piece by tiny piece. He glanced up, locking eyes with Goku as he took a long, slow lick up the underside of his cock. He traced the ridge of the head with just the tip of his tongue before taking it in his mouth, getting it nice and wet, then sliding all the way down.

"Shit, Gojyo..." Goku's hands flew up, grabbing his hair just the way Gojyo liked it.

Gojyo'd never been one to discriminate when it came to sex and he'd had his fair share of dick over the years, but he'd never been much of a fan of cocksucking until he'd started hooking up with Goku. He didn't know if his sudden penchant for having a dick halfway down his throat was a result of Goku's extreme appreciation of the act or if it was more a case of Gojyolocks and the just-right cock, but he fucking loved sucking Goku off. It didn't take long at all for him to work up to a series of deep, rhythmic swallows, occasionally interrupted by a flick of the tongue in all the right places and punctuated by low moans he knew from personal experience vibrated in the most delicious of ways.

Goku had just started rocking his hips, reaching the point where he was feeding Gojyo his cock in long, powerful thrusts, when he heard the "pin-pon" of the interphone from the other room, followed by a soft knock on the door.

"Gojyo?" Hakkai's voice called out in a strange, fucked up stereo.

Gojyo disengaged himself from Goku's cock and leapt to his feet. "Shit!" he mouthed.

Goku managed to get his jeans back up and his dick tucked halfway back in before Hakkai opened the door.

"Gojy ... oh..." Hakkai's voice trailed off as his eyes darted between Goku's open jeans and Gojyo's swollen, wet lips.

"Uh ... hey Hakkai ..." Like an idiot, Gojyo swiped at his mouth with his forearm, making it even more obvious what they'd just been up to. The silence that followed as his cock rapidly deflated was probably the most uncomfortable of Gojyo's entire life.

"Shit, man..." he finally said, since Hakkai was silently gaping and Goku was just standing there like a red-faced idiot. "Look ... you think you can maybe not mention this to anyone?"

"Oh!" This seemed to snap Hakkai out of whatever state of shock he was in. "Yes ... yes, of course. What the two of you do behind closed doors in none of my business."

"None of Sanzo's business." Goku must have figured they needed to be crystal clear on that one.

"Indeed." Hakkai pressed his glasses back up the bridge of his nose and pointedly looked away. "Although might I suggest locking the door next time you feel the need to engage in such activities in the entryway? I believe we are all familiar with Sanzo's disregard for social niceties such as doorbells."

"Yeah, you got a point there," Gojyo conceded.

"I realize this is a case of rather unfortunate timing," Hakkai said, clearing his throat at that last bit, "But there is a ... situation ... in Ueno Park."

"A situation?" If this was another second-rate villain coming out of the woodwork and attempting to put on a show, Gojyo was gonna be pissed.

"Yes. Emergency services and social media have been flooded with rather unusual reports."

"Oooh ... how unusual?" Goku sounded way too enthusiastic about the idea, particularly considering he'd been fucking Gojyo's throat not a minute before. The guy had the attention span of a gnat sometimes.

"They're saying the park has turned into a field of skulls..."

Dammit Gojyo could feel his much-needed evening of naked debauchery slipping through his fingers. "Lemme guess," he said, "CCTV shows nothing out of the ordinary ... outside a bunch of people losing their shit."

"Exactly."

That meant only one thing: an illusionist. Gojyo hated going up against illusionists -- they were always batshit crazy. And it didn't help that he wasn't as good as the rest of the Team at shaking off the visions. Last time he had spent the majority of the encounter running from a swarm of giant, nonexistent bees.

"Any chance we could just leave this up to the Mitsubishi guys?" He knew he was grasping at straws here, but even though his hard-on had gone the way of the dinosaurs, he really wasn't feeling the spandex and mind fuckery tonight.

A steely look from Hakkai answered that question.

"The helicopter will be here in five minutes."

Fuck

——-

The only thing good about being shuttled around the city by emergency helicopter was watching Sanzo trying to keep his shit together. He gave the phrase "white knuckling it" a whole new meaning any time he was in a vehicle that lost contact with terra firma. Gojyo had always found that particularly hilarious, considering the dude could fly.

"Rather than risk our pilot coming under the influence of whomever is down there," Hakkai's voice crackled over the speakers inside the sound-muffling headset, "we'll be making an entrance from above."

Gojyo pretended not to notice the look of relief that flickered across Sanzo's face. An air entrance meant the guy was able to get out of the chopper and back in control of his surroundings that much sooner. Of course, that also meant their lives were in Sanzo's hands for the time it took to descend to ground level, so Gojyo was going to keep his big mouth shut and refrain from giving the guy any shit about being a control freak for the next couple minutes.

He didn't actually think that Sanzo would let him plummet to his death, but it didn't hurt to play it safe.

The chopper veered sharply to the left, pivoting high above the park, and slowed until it was hovering directly above an empty green space. Sanzo had his headset off and was throwing the door open before anyone else had a chance to register that they'd stopped moving.

"GET THE FUCK OVER HERE," he yelled over the roar of the rotor blades.

"Everyone, please remember to hold your capes as you jump," Hakkai reminded before removing his headset.

"WHOOOOO!!" Goku shouted after he removed his headset, jumping up out of his seat and pumping his fist.

There was something about that enthusiasm that was infectious, Gojyo thought, as he felt a surge of adrenaline and anticipation. As frustrated as he was after their little aborted liaison earlier, a good fight might be just what the doctor ordered.

He grinned. Bring it on.

The jump went exactly as it had hundreds of times before. Sanzo first, then Goku and Hakkai, with Gojyo bringing up the rear. Five seconds of free fall -- just enough time for the chopper to clear -- then an upward rush of air to slow their descent, courtesy of Team Justice's resident wind machine, Purple Borealis. It always left Gojyo's hair a mess when they landed, but it was a small price to pay for a damned dramatic entrance.

Hell, there were a fair number of times the bad guys were so lacking in the testicular fortitude department that they surrendered as soon as the Team landed. Of course with the vendetta the universe apparently had against Gojyo tonight, he figured he wasn't going to be that lucky in this case.

As he caught up with the rest of the team, who had already begun to slow, he noticed a strange flickering in his vision just before the park beneath them disappeared, replaced with exactly what people had been reporting for the last hour: a field of skulls, as far as the eye could see.

"Fuck," Sanzo ground out beside him, grimacing as he doubled up on the air current, slowing their descent by half, then half again, then finally bringing the four of them to a complete halt at what looked to be ten meters above a large pile of skulls—

"I can't see the fucking ground."

Damn, that was not good. Without seeing where they were landing, Sanzo couldn't judge how fast to bring them in.

"Goku, if there's anything you can do, now would be an excellent time," Hakkai suggested.

Goku nodded before closing his eyes and falling very still. Gojyo felt that strange crackling just on the edge of his perception that somehow always accompanied Goku's powers and he heard the distinctive sound of the ground shifting and moving, rising up to meet them.

"Brace yourselves," Goku said, just before Gojyo felt the tips of his toes connect with solid ground. It was a strange feeling, having the ground step up to him, rather than him stepping down to it and it was made even stranger by the fact that he couldn't see anything. The illusion hadn't been broken; they still appeared to be in mid-air, but they were definitely standing on solid ground.

"Everybody got their balance?" Goku waited for an affirmative before reversing the direction of the movement, taking the four of them down to what appeared to be ground level.

They were damned lucky to have been landing in a park. Gojyo didn't know exactly how much earth Goku'd just had to move for that little trick, but he was pretty sure that if he'd pulled a stunt like that in a crowded area like Shinjuku, there would have been more collateral damage than even Kanzeon could make go away.

"Impressive, Geomantic." A familiar voice called out from behind them just as they came to a stop at ground level.

"Dammit," Gojyo muttered. He could practically feel Hakkai's eyes narrowing and his blood pressure rising

"Hey, it's The Crimson Prince!" Goku waved as the Fabulous Foursome's leader emerged from behind what appeared to be a gigantic, half-decomposed demon corpse. "Are the rest of you guys here, too?"

A ball of crackling energy hurled itself over the corpse, hitting the ground and dissipating, leaving what Sanzo consistently and loudly claimed was the bane of his existence. "Lirin the Legendary is ready to take down this menace!" she announced, punctuating this with a finger to the sky and blast of electricity.

Man, Hakkai was going to be cranky about this for weeks.

"Lirin-sama!" Lady Mandrake followed quick behind, her boobs bouncing in the most distracting of ways. "You know you're only allowed to use your official alias in public," she admonished, scanning the area for members of the media or smartphone-addicted observers who might have caught that last bit on film. It wasn’t public knowledge, but Mitsubishi had a complex set of pay deductions in place for actions they considered “harmful to the brand image of the Foursome.”

Gojyo figured Lirin the Incorrigible wasn’t getting much of her paycheck.

A quick glance at Sanzo and it was apparent he was looking everywhere but at Lirin. Gojyo had never mentioned this to anyone, but he was fairly well convinced the two of them were going to end up screwing each other's brains out someday fairly soon. Anyone with eyes could see there was a weird, fucked up kind of chemistry there.

Gojyo was also pretty sure The Crimson Prince was sporting a boner of epic proportions for Goku, which he didn't like one little bit. That guy was a hair-dyeing jackass who needed to put on a damned shirt.

"Long time no see, Hydrofusion," the Foursome's final member, Mr. Defender, said as he followed directly behind Lady Mandrake. There were a lot of things about the whole superhero thing that Gojyo'd gotten used to, but having his brother on the competing team was not one of them.

He gave Doku a single, casual nod. "Yeah, it's been a while."

As far as Gojyo knew, no one outside the two teams knew they were related and he preferred to keep it that way. It was way less complicated.

"Now that the reunion is over," a too-loud voice said, as if it was being broadcast from speakers high overhead, "let's move on to today's main event!"

Atop the pile of skulls, what appeared to be a throne made of bones began to materialize. Sitting in it was a lanky guy with pointy ears and hair the exact shade of purple of Sanzo's spandex. Gojyo had to bite the inside of his mouth to keep from laughing. A quick glance at Goku revealed him in a similar state.

Gojyo grinned.

"Defenders of the City, " the guy began as he rose to his feet, "you have finally met your match!" This was punctuated by a crash of thunder and sudden dramatic swirling of the guy's trench coat, which was open and revealing a wide expanse of skinny chest.

"Looks like you let someone raid your closet," Gojyo quipped over his shoulder to The Crimson Prince.

"Funny," he responded, a look of extreme distaste on his too-pretty face.

Man, Gojyo really didn't like that guy.

"Bow before The Mighty Pomegranate and he might let you live!" the guy announced, voice booming.

"Pomegranate?" Goku started laughing. "Man, that's the worst name ever!"

"Yeah, seriously," Gojyo said, snorting. "Who the hell names themselves after a fruit?"

"The pomegranate is no mere fruit!" Skullboy proclaimed. "It is a mighty force with which none can reckon ... it is a SUPERFRUIT!"

"I think we're lookin' at the superfruit right now," Goku said to no one in particular.

Gojyo couldn't help it -- he cracked right up. It was a damned shame the news crews weren't around to get any of this shit on film; it was shaping up to be comedy gold.

"You dare mock the bringer of your doom?!" Another crash of thunder, this time followed by a lightning strike immediately in front of them, filling the air with the sharp smell of ozone.

Flashy -- not bad.

"Idiot," Sanzo said, practically radiating indifference. "You must be one hell of a dumbass to get something like that wrong."

"What did you say?" The guy's outraged voice seemed to come from everywhere.

"I believe Purple Borealis was referencing the fact that as the speed of sound is slower than that of light, lightning is followed by thunder, not the other way around," Hakkai explained, all helpfulness and gentility.

"The paltry laws of physics have no dominion over The Mighty Pomegranate!" the guy proclaimed, sitting back in the throne and waving his hand with a flourish. Suddenly, the landscape turned itself upside down, the ground and piles of skulls appearing overhead and the night sky directly underfoot. It created the craziest sense of vertigo, making it damned hard to keep track of where you were.

Hakkai apparently couldn't handle the shift; he lost his balance and fell to his hands and knees.

"ElectroVine!" Goku rushed to Hakkai's side as the nutjob began to cackle like a bad villain from one of those old-timey movies. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine. Please don't worry about me..." He didn't look fine at all, but Gojyo wasn't about to mention it.

Gojyo felt a blast of heat from behind him as The Crimson Prince called up one of his trademark flame dragons and launched it directly at the throne. He expected Superfruit to leap out of its way, but he just stood there, laughing like a maniac as it closed in on him ... and passed right through his body.

"You misunderestimate me, Mitsubishi underling!"

"That's not even a word," Sanzo drawled, doing his best to look supremely unimpressed.

In the blink of an eye, the night sky and the field above them was filled with clones of the guy -- hundreds of them, each cackling just as obnoxiously as the rest. At this point, Lirin apparently reached the limit of her attention span, because she leapt forward, unaffected by the crippling vertigo that appeared to have taken both Hakkai and Lady Mandrake out of the action, and started rapid-firing bolts of lightning in a bizarre kind of random berserker attack. It didn't appear to be doing a damned bit of good.

Damn if this whole situation wasn't shaping up to be one hell of a pain in the ass.

Goku had fallen into a guarded stance, obviously at a loss over how to deal with this newest turn of events, and Sanzo hadn't moved a muscle. Without knowing exactly which of the purple-haired idiots was the real deal, neither Goku nor Sanzo could use their normal attack strategies. And Doku ... well, there wasn't much his super strength could do at a distance.

Gojyo sighed.

I guess that means it's none other than Hydrofusion to the rescue.

As Lirin continued her futile assault on the mirages and The Vain Prince launched a couple more useless fire dragons, Gojyo reached deep into the part of himself where his power lay sleeping and gently roused it, allowing it to reach out beyond his body and unfurl, seeking out the nearby sources of water. He could feel the currents in the pipes running beneath them, the humidity in the air, and -- most importantly -- the warm wetness of the bodies around him, each with a distinctly different feel.

Three teammates, four competitors, and one stranger, about four meters behind them.

Gotcha.

Gojyo was able to enjoy his victory for two whole seconds before realizing he was still in one hell of a pickle.

Problem #1: He couldn't let anyone else know where the guy was without losing the element of surprise. That meant it was up to him to take the freak out.

Problem #2: The nearest body of water was on the other side of the damned park and the ambient humidity was too low for him to pull the water out of thin air. He had nothing to use for an attack.

He could have busted open the pipes underground, but they were far enough down that he would have needed Goku to open a hole in the ground for the water to escape through, which circled him right around to Problem #1.

Fuck.

Gojyo sent out a stronger wave of power, desperately searching for something ... anything he could use, but the only thing he found was bottle-shaped pool of water, approximately 155 milliliters in volume thirty meters away. It was obviously a half-drunken bottle of water someone had thrown away or left behind. In frustration, he shifted the pool of water around inside its confines, moving it a couple millimeters to the left.

That's it! Man, he was never going to admit this, but he owed Sanzo big time for this one.

Running a quick calculation in his mind, he focused his power on the water in the bottle and propelled it upwards three meters, then in a diagonal line directly toward where he felt the stranger. He turned around in time to see the guy take an invisible hit to the head, then crumple to the ground.

The illusion dissipated instantly. Gojyo wouldn't admit it, but going from Crazy Upside-down Skull Land to Ueno Park was kind of a letdown.

Maybe it was a good thing the news crews weren't around after all ... it was definitely anticlimactic.

"Holy crap," Goku shouted, "that was awesome!"

Okay, yeah … it had been a pretty damned awesome idea.

Lady Mandrake rushed over to the guy and knelt beside him, pressing two fingers to his neck to check for a pulse. Gojyo didn't think he'd hit him that hard, but he guessed it didn't hurt to err on the side of caution. The last thing either team needed was a death resulting from use of excessive force.

Satisfied that he had a pulse, she moved her hand upward to hover above his head. She closed her eyes and a soft yellow light began to form in the space between her hand and that crazy purple hair. "He's fine," she said after a couple of seconds. "But he'll be out for a while longer."

"Well, Team Justice," The Crimson Prince said, tossing his hair over his shoulder like some kind of prima donna. "Your capture, your clean up."

"Aww," Lirin whined, the accompanying pout an obvious affectation. "We hardly got to do anything."

"Maybe next time, kid." Sanzo walked over to the body.

"Hey, I'm not a kid!" Lirin called after him. "I'm twenty!"

"Yeah, yeah." Sanzo waved his hand over his shoulder.

Man, Sanzo ain't fooling no one. Gojyo was suddenly struck with a wonderful, evil idea and began inching his way toward Lirin.

"As always, it was a pleasure fighting with you." Doku gave a quick bow to the Team before offering Lady Mandrake his hand and pulling her to her feet. "We'll look forward to the next time."

"We'll be sure to arrive earlier next time," Hakkai said, all cold politeness. "That way there'll be no need to put yourselves out."

Gojyo had shifted close enough to Lirin that he could lean over and whisper, "Hey kiddo…”

“What?” She looked up at him in suspicion.

“If you take out the next guy ... I'll give you Purple Borealis's phone number."

"Serious?" she whispered back, grinning wickedly.

"As death." He winked.

"Come on, Lirin," The Crimson Prince said, narrowing his eyes. "Time to go."

"See you guys later!" Goku waved as they began to walk toward one of the smaller entrances to the park. Going home empty handed, The Fabulous Foursome weren't so fabulous. They wouldn't want to make a dramatic exit, that's for damned sure.

Once they were out of earshot, Gojyo walked over to The Mighty Unconscious and picked up the bulky schoolbag that had knocked him out. He actually hadn't realized the bottle had been contained in something larger, but it had really done the trick. He unbuckled the bag and pulled out the bottle. "Man, this thing saved our asses."

"That was a most inspired idea," Hakkai said, smiling. "However did you come up with it?"

"Yeah, Hydrofusion." Sanzo narrowed his eyes. "I wonder where you got the idea to use your power to launch projectiles at people..."

Sanzo totally knew. Hell, they all probably knew.

"Inspiration strikes when inspiration strikes." There was no way Gojyo was gonna give that asshole the benefit of admitting anything.

"Well, well," a voice called from behind them.

Turning around, Gojyo saw Kanzeon striding down the center of the walkway, followed immediately by the Department's cleanup crew with a gurney. Perfect timing, as always.

"Another job well done," she said, applauding slowly. "And this time, with hardly any property damage whatsoever. I must say I'm extraordinarily impressed."

"You just missed the Mitsubishi guys," Goku said. "Lady Mandrake said the guy’s okay, but is gonna be out for a while."

"What did this one want?" Kanzeon crossed to Superfruit and looked down at him, cocking her head slightly.

"To spout a whole bunch of bullshit," Sanzo said, oh so helpfully.

She nudged his face with the tip of her very pointy high heel, moving it so she could get a better look. "Oh, hello ... he's quite the cutie, isn't he..."

"He called himself The Mighty Pomegranate," Hakkai explained. "Very skilled illusionist, but he demonstrated signs of extreme mental disturbance: delusions of grandeur, the works."

"His demands?"

"We kinda didn't get that far," Goku admitted, rubbing the back of his head. "Gojyo knocked him out pretty fast.

"Hmm ... well, I suppose we can get it out of him back at headquarters just as easily as you could during a fight." Kanzeon looked more pleased by that prospect than she probably should have.

Yeah, Gojyo didn't want to think about that too much.

"So ... you don't need us for anything else?" Goku asked, glancing over at Gojyo furtively.

He didn't have to be a psychic to know Goku was hoping for a continuation of what had been so rudely interrupted earlier. Good to know they were both on the same page.

"No, darling, you're finished. We'll take over from here." Kanzeon motioned at the cleanup crew. "The car is waiting for you at the front entrance. Be sure to play nice with the crowds -- we managed to keep them out of the park once the illusion went kaput, but they're gathering on the sidewalk in front."

"Man, let's get the hell out of here," Gojyo said, stretching his arms out one by one. "It's hot as fuck and my balls are sweating like you wouldn't believe."

"Gojyo, please." Hakkai made one of his patented expressions of distaste.

"I am not signing any autographs," Sanzo announced to no one in particular.

"Well, if you're that averse to the idea, I could radio in and have the helicopter swing by for you," Kanzeon replied, smiling pleasantly. "I'm sure they wouldn't mind coming all this way..."

Sanzo huffed, crossing his arms and glaring at a random park bench.

"Well then, that's settled. You boys have a lovely evening and I'll see you bright and early in my office for the debriefing."

The cleanup guys grabbed The Mighty Nutjob, hoisted him onto the gurney, and they and Kanzeon started off in the opposite direction, toward one of the internal service roads where the unmarked MoJ van would be waiting.

"Thank you for your work tonight," Hakkai said as they began to make their way toward the main entrance. "If anyone is interested, I believe the izakaya across from the apartment building has a new set of specials this week. Once we've all had a chance to get comfortable, of course..."

"No!" Gojyo and Goku managed to say in unison.

" ...promised Nataku I'd call.."

"... gonna hit the hay early...."

"Ah, yes." Hakkai said, somehow managing to school his face to a completely neutral expression. "Sanzo, what about you?"

"Yeah, whatever," he said, narrowing his eyes as he studied Goku.

Uh oh... The guy knew something was up.

"Hey, look ..." Goku said suddenly, breaking out into a run. He shot ahead of them, crossing the wide walkway and veering toward a bench.

"Wait!" Hakkai called out, jogging after him.

As they moved in closer, Gojyo saw what had caught Goku's eye. There, sitting on one of the benches closest to the main entrance, was a large stuffed rabbit, easily the size of a small child.

"Sanzo, look..." Goku pointed to the rabbit. There, pinned to its bright orange shirt was a white envelope with "Kouryuu" printed on it. He reached down to unpin it and handed it to Sanzo. Inside was a folded piece of notebook paper. Gojyo had a bad, bad feeling about this.

"Shit, that can't be good."

Sanzo unfolded it, revealing that unmistakable handwriting:



I hope you enjoyed tonight's romp -- I know I did.
It's a shame it had to end so quickly, but don't worry … this was just a warm-up.
There's plenty more where that came from.

I can't wait to see what you do with the next one.

Smoochies,
Dr. Nihl

"He was here, watching." Goku said, the worry in his voice evident.

"And he knows your name," Hakkai said to Sanzo, taking the envelope from him and folding it neatly once, than twice to hide the name on the outside. After all, their true identities were a national secret and Hakkai had a very well developed sense of paranoia.

"That's not my fucking name." Sanzo crumpled the note in his hand and scowled.

"Only Dad and Aunt Kanzeon call him that," Goku added.

"Yeah." Gojyo nodded. Not even Goku could get away with calling him that -- Sanzo hated it that much.

"We should bring this to Director Kanzeon's attention immediately," Hakkai said. “He’s given us his name, which is more than we had before.”

"Yeah," Sanzo agreed, starting back in the direction from which they'd just come without another word, his cape whipping behind him in the warm evening air.

"I should probably go with him," Hakkai said. "With the mood he's in, I'm afraid he might attempt parricide if Director Kanzeon looks at him the wrong way."

"What?"

"Parricide," Goku repeated. "When you kill a close relative."

"Why the hell didn't he just say that?" Hakkai and his damned poindexter words. "And for that matter ... how the fuck did you know that?"

"Our dear Geomantic did pass a number of university entrance examinations," Hakkai reminded him. "Including the one for the school he is currently attending." Hakkai wasn't one to drop names, particularly not while in character in public, but Gojyo knew for a fact he considered helping Goku pass the University of Tokyo's entrance exam to be one of his greatest lifetime achievements.

Goku generally acted like such an idiot it was easy to forget he had a damned good head on his shoulders. Gojyo strangely found that quite appealing.

"Could I impose on the two of you to take care of the PR activities this evening?" Hakkai was referring to the spontaneous meet-and-greet that followed every arrest and was currently awaiting them at the front gate of the park.

"Aw, man," Gojyo grumbled. "With just two of us, it's gonna take twice as long..."

"If it's any consolation, I'm sure our discussion of this latest development with Director Kanzeon will take much longer than shaking hands and signing a few autographs, even if it is just the two of you. And of course, I know how much you the both of you were looking forward to turning in early this evening." This was punctuated by a smile that was closer to the creepy side of amused than Gojyo was 100% comfortable with.

"Uh, yeah..." Gojyo said. "Sure thing."

"Excellent." He reached down to pick up the stuffed rabbit. "I hope you both have a lovely evening."

Gojyo and Goku stood there, watching Hakkai as he followed after Sanzo. After a minute or so, he saw Goku visibly relax—

"Gojyo?"

"Yeah?"

"Hakkai's never gonna let us hear the end of it, is he..."

Gojyo shook his head. "Nope." The guy was his best friend, but he could be a twisted motherfucker sometimes.

"Well ... I guess if he's gonna be giving us a hard time, we might as well earn it." Goku said, a decidedly lewd look in his eye. "You ready to get outta here?"

"Hell yeah."

Gojyo really did love it when they were on the same page.