"Hand me the water," Sanzo said without looking back at Gojyo and Goku.
"Yes, after all that driving on the dusty road, I'm thirsty too," Hakkai said.
"Um," Goku said.
"The monkey drank it all," Gojyo said placidly.
"Me?!" Goku exclaimed. "You had at least half of it!"
"I didn't drink the last of it!" Gojyo exclaimed, surging across the back of Jeep to pummel Goku.
"SHUT UP!" The crack of the paper fan left Goku and Gojyo gripping their heads.
"What a nice view," Hakkai said mildly into the silence.
"Huh," Sanzo said.
"It's much prettier than the country we've been driving through," Hakkai pointed out.
"I hate green hills," Sanzo growled.
"You hate everything," Gojyo said, relighting his cigarette.
"SHUT UP!" There was the muzzle of a gun in Gojyo's face.
"Okay," Gojyo said. "Geez, bad mood much?"
"There's a nice clear river here," Hakkai said. "We have that camping filter canteen."
Sanzo shoved the filter canteen over the back of the seat to Goku. "Get me water."
Goku snatched the canteen from him. "Why do I have to do it?"
"You drank the last water," Gojyo said gleefully.
Still grumbling, Goku went down to the edge of the river and carefully filled the canteen. It was a slow business because of the filter. Finally, he trudged back to Jeep and handed over the canteen to Hakkai.
"Thank you, Goku!" Hakkai said cheerfully, handing the canteen to Sanzo. Sanzo took a long drink of water, then handed it back to Hakkai. Hakkai took an equally long drink, then put Jeep in gear.
"Hey, there's none left!" Goku protested, shaking the canteen. "I'm thirsty!"
"Suck it up, monkey," Gojyo said. "They're not going to stop for more water now."
"But I'm THIRSTY!" Goku bellowed.
CRACK went the paper fan.
Hakkai drove Jeep over the little bridge and on down the dirt road.
After an hour or so, Hakkai said, "Oh, my."
Gojyo leaned over the seat. "What?"
Hakkai put a hand on his stomach. "I'm not feeling very well."
Sanzo scowled straight ahead. "You didn't filter the water right, stupid monkey."
"I did!" Goku insisted. "I did! I did it just like Hakkai showed me!"
"Huh," Sanzo said, crossing his arms and closing his eyes.
Hakkai drove on a while.
"I think we're going to have to stop," Hakkai said finally, as they crested a hill and spotted a small farmstead along the road. "I don't think I can drive. I'm in a good amount of pain."
"Oh, man, Hakkai, your stomach's swelling up!" Goku said, gawping over the seat.
"Yes," Hakkai said a little nervously. He glanced aside at Sanzo, whose elbows were resting on a definitely swollen abdomen.
Sanzo, without opening his eyes, said, "Stop here."
A couple of little old ladies stopped their gardening to stare at the foursome and their Jeep.
"Hey," Gojyo said, "could we get some beer or tea or something? These two are sick!"
The little old ladies hobbled over, took one look at Sanzo and Hakkai, and burst into cackles.
"Um," Goku said uncomfortably, "that's kind of mean."
Sanzo opened his eyes and glared.
The old ladies sobered immediately under the power of that glare. "You aren't sick, gentlemen," one of them ventured.
"I'm sorry to contradict you, but I feel fairly ill," Hakkai said.
"Oh, of course you do," said the other old lady, hiding her smile behind her hand. "You're expecting."
"WHAT?!" all four men exploded.
"You drank water from that river you passed a while back, didn't you?" the first old lady asked.
"Yeah, but I got it for them and filtered it just like they told me to!" Goku exclaimed.
"Oh, filtering won't help. That there's the Motherhood River," the second old lady said. "You're in Womanland. There aren't any men, so when we're about 20, we all drink from the river and get knocked up. Three days later, we go to the Pregnancy Revealed Mirror outside the gates of the capital, and then we give birth."
Gojyo slapped Goku's back. "You've fathered both their babies, monkey! Better settle down and get a job to provide for them!"
"What?" Goku said, looking alarmed. "Not me! Not me! It was the river!"
"And who got the river water for them?" asked Gojyo, leaning down to him.
"It's probably YOUR fault!" Goku said, jumping on his shoulders and pounding on his head. "You're the pervy water sprite! You must've done something bad to the water!"
"SHUT UP!" Sanzo roared. Goku and Gojyo froze, braced for the paper fan, but Sanzo didn't move, he just sat and perspired heavily.
"Oh, my," said Hakkai, looking down at his belly. "It's so very inconvenient. You see, ladies, we're on a long journey. Perhaps you could provide some of those herbs that ladies take for this sort of trouble?"
"Oh, the herbs aren't any help for this kind of pregnancy," the first old lady said. "There's the Child-Free Spring on Mount Offspring Dissolved for solving the problem if someone drank accidentally. But there's a demon guarding the spring now, and he demands tribute and such, and none of us can afford the spring water any more."
The four men all looked at the incredibly steep mountain and its only slightly less-steep trail. Hakkai and Sanzo looked at Gojyo and Goku.
Sanzo said, "Go get some of the water, Goku."
Goku blinked for a moment. Gojyo leaned over and whispered to him, "Do you REALLY want to see Sanzo Junior? Do you think the world can cope with that?"
Goku said, "Okay, Sanzo!" and ran off.
"You go with him," Sanzo said, looking at Gojyo.
"Why me?" Gojyo asked.
"Would you rather be our midwife?" Hakkai said with a grin.
Gojyo ran after Goku, pausing only to take a proffered bucket from one of the old ladies.
"Why don't you two gentlemen come inside out of the sun?" the two old ladies said. "We'll make some tea while you wait for your friends."
Goku and Gojyo trudged up the long mountain trail, following the occasional, somewhat overgrown signs to Child-Free Spring. They didn't talk much until they reached a cave opening, in which there was an open door.
A monk stood at the door. "Can I help you?"
"Yeah!" Goku said. "We need some water from the spring!"
"Did you bring your offerings?" the monk inquired silkily.
"About that," Gojyo said, "we're on a long journey. Nothing to offer."
"Then I'm afraid we can't help you," the monk said, making to slam the door in their faces. He discovered that the door wouldn't close because Gojyo's staff was jammed in it.
"That's not very friendly," Gojyo said with a smile.
"What's going on here?" demanded a demon in a fancy robe.
"We just want some water from the spring!" Goku shouted.
The demon gestured the monk away. "YOU!" he bellowed. "You're the ones who've been making my nephew's life a living hell!"
"Nephew?" Gojyo said, baffled.
"Yes! Kougaiji, my nephew! I'm Gyomaoh's brother, the As-You-Will Immortal!" he bellowed, producing a hooked staff. "I'm going to kick both your asses off the mountain!"
"Oh, well," Gojyo said. "And I thought this was going to be boring."
"Dammit!" the As-You-Will Immortal said, fleeing down the mountain.
"Go get the water, Goku," Gojyo said, handing over the bucket.
"Why me?" Goku complained.
"Because you're the father," Gojyo said.
"I am NOT the FATHER!" Goku said.
"Sanzo Junior," Gojyo reminded him.
Goku stomped inside the cave.
He lowered the bucket into the well and drew it back up. As he was strolling back out of the cave, the As-You-Will Immortal, who had come back into the cave by a back door, came up behind him and tripped him with the hooked staff. The water spilled everywhere.
"Look at what you've done, you jerk!" Goku exclaimed, then started fighting again.
Gojyo peered in. "What's wrong, stupid monkey?"
Goku, while parrying a blow, said, "This jerk came back and tripped me. The water went everywhere!"
Gojyo strolled in, staff over his shoulder. "We let you go the first time, stupid, why'd you come back?"
The As-You-Will Immortal stared at them both, then attacked wildly.
Staff and cudgel blew the demon to pieces.
"I hope Kou didn't like his uncle too much," Goku said.
"Who could?" Gojyo said. "Now get the water." He kicked the monk, who was human, out of the cave. "And don't come back!" he shouted after the retreating form.
Goku emerged with the full bucket. "All set!" he said.
"Let's get back, then," Gojyo said. "Hakkai might make a pretty good mother, but Sanzo would put his kid into therapy for centuries."
They trudged back down the mountain.
The sun was setting around the time they got back to the little house. "Sanzoooo, we've got the water!" Goku shouted as they walked in.
"Bring it here!" snapped the monk.
"Thank you for all your trouble!" Hakkai said cheerfully.
Each of them drank a cup of water from the bucket.
There were loud sounds from their bellies.
The old ladies pointed them to the bathrooms in the house. Sanzo and Hakkai ran at speeds belied by their enormous bellies.
Some hours later, Goku was working on his fourth course of dinner, Gojyo was pleasantly tiddly, and the two old ladies were well-pleased with the bottle of the remaining water they had to sell. Sanzo and Hakkai emerged, paler and thinner.
"Let's go," Sanzo growled.
"It's dark, Sanzo!" Goku pointed out. "Why don't we spend the night here?"
"Let's GO," Sanzo said again, and walked out to Jeep.
Hakkai bowed to the old ladies. "Thank you so much for your trouble. I think that he is not ungrateful, he just wants to be out of Womanland."
The old ladies bowed to Hakkai. "That's all right. We generally like men to move through as quick as possible. Messes up the energy and all."
Hakkai, Gojyo, and Goku all got into Jeep. They drove off down the road, the little old ladies waving after them.
About a half hour later, Sanzo said, "No one. Mentions this. To anyone." And punctuated this by raising his gun in the air.
There was a long moment of silence, then Gojyo said, "Mentions what?"