manual labour

"I," stated Gojyo firmly, "do not do manual labour."

Then he leant back against the tree, folding his arms across his chest as he did so.

Thwap!

Sanzo's fan scored a solid hit across the side of Gojyo's head.

"OW! Cursed psychotic monk! Wha... "

"You damn well will do manual labour!" Sanzo barked at him. "Lazy goddam cockroach! We aren't getting across that ravine without fixing the bridge - and I'm not wasting two days travelling to the next crossing just to save you the trauma of actually working for once in your worthless life. So get up off your lazy arse and go help Hakkai."

Gojyo narrowed his eyes in anger.

"I don't see you leaping over there to help him, Mr Too-Pretty-to-Sweat," he sneered.

"I'm going back into town to buy rope."

There was more than a hint of smugness in Sanzo's voice.

Gojyo's angry response was diverted by Goku's whine,

"Oh Sanzo! Sanzo! I want to come with you - I'm hungry!"

"Yeah, do go with him, saru. You're not going to be much use to us here. May as well inflict yourself on the other shirker."

"Shut up! You, you.. cockroach you!"

Goku stormed over to Sanzo, grabbed him by the hand and started tugging the monk towards Jeep. Sanzo cast an annoyed glare back at Gojyo, who returned it with interest. They left in the usual cloud of dust and screech of tyres Sanzo's dangerously haphazard style of driving caused. Gojyo turned to Hakkai.

"And thank you for your input," he groused.

The sarcasm just bounced off Hakkai's armour of serenity.

"I don't think you would have enjoyed Sanzo staying to 'supervise'," he replied. "Although we actually could have done with Goku's strength, you know."

"No, he really would have driven me up the wall!"

Gojyo turned to survey the bridge and then sighed resignedly.

"So, what do we have to do?"

"Well, most fortunately the workmen have already chopped the necessary planks. We just need to cut them to size, drag them over here and attach them to the bridge when Sanzo gets back with some rope. I only had the one saw in Jeep's toolbox, but it should get the job done. Not so much of a chore really!"

He smiled cheerily.

Like most of Hakkai's optimistic declarations (which Gojyo still hadn't decided whether they were the result of a blind belief in unreality, or soul-deep sarcasm), it proved to be misplaced; the wood was green and splintery, and the saw was old and missing some teeth. By the time the boards were cut, Gojyo was hot, sweating heavily and in a foul temper. He'd also cut his arm, grazed his cheekbone, and pulled a muscle in his calf. Fortunately a shallow stream flowed close by, falling into the ravine the bridge crossed. Gojyo and Hakkai went there to wash.

Feeling slightly cooler now, Gojyo flopped onto the grass and closed his eyes.

"No wonder that bloody monk took the cushy job. I'm exhausted," he complained.

Hakkai gave his quiet laugh as he lay down beside Gojyo.

"We still have to attach the planks," he said.

"Oh please! Don't remind me," Gojyo gave a groan. "What a crappy day."

"Nonsense," Hakkai disagreed. "It's a beautiful day. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the forest is lovely and peaceful - and we're all alone for once."

One hand traced an idle dribble of water that was slowly chasing its way down Gojyo's bare chest.

"So just how fatigued are you anyway?"

Gojyo opened his eyes to see Hakkai concentrating on the droplet of liquid; the smile on his face neither serene nor cheery.

"Not that fatigued!" Gojyo disclaimed and pulled Hakkai down into his arms.

-

Sanzo and Goku returned about half an hour later. Gojyo and Hakkai met them flushed and breathless. Sanzo cast them a sharp glance, but refrained from comment. Goku had no such restraint.

"Ewwwww! You're all sweaty!" he taunted.

Gojyo scowled.

"Of course we're all sweaty, baka," he snapped, "That's what you get with manual labour."

"Unkind," Hakkai murmured in his ear from behind him, "I rather thought it was skilled labour."