Unexpected Guests

How Ryouma’s uncle came to be away from the temple. Drama with Humor, I-3

Temples and their priests got all kinds of visitors, some of them pretty odd.
But the last thing Konzen had expected, when he opened the door to answer
the bell, was for a tangle of limbs to land on and hug him while crowing

Konzen really didn’t like to be touched, something his ex-wife had pointed
out frequently. All told, his older brother’s death and Konzen’s inheriting
the family temple had just been a handy excuse for the divorce. But back
to the business at hand.

Konzen promptly hauled the intruder loose and threw it into the wall, where
it resolved into a rather gangly, golden-eyed young man. "Don’t be an
idiot," he instructed. "There hasn’t been a Sanzou for hundreds
of years." He frowned. "And why would you be looking for one at
a place like this?"

"Oh, right. So, what are you called, now?" The boy’s grin hadn’t
dimmed at all, despite a landing that had cracked plaster.

"Echizen Konzen, the same thing I’ve been called all my life," Konzen
said, brusquely, wondering whether he should inquire for escapees at the
local mental hospitals. "Who the hell are you?"

"Again? Ah. Um." The boy scratched his head. "Well, if you don’t
remember, then this’ll be kind of a long story." He looked up hopefully.
"I don’t suppose you have any food around?"

Konzen was staring and making a mental list of hospitals to call, when his
daughter looked into the entryway. "Otou-sama? Do we have a visitor?"

A good question, since he still wasn’t sure what this person was. Besides,
now, gaping at Nanako, thunderstruck. Konzen hoped he wasn’t a pervert, like
Konzen’s younger brother or a few of his college associates. But, no, because
the boy turned, wide-eyed to ask, "You have a daughter?"

The thought drifted across Konzen’s mind that maybe the boy really did know

He shook his head impatiently and barked, "Who are you and what do you

"Well," the boy fidgeted, "like I said, it’s a long story…"
His stomach interrupted with a noisy growl.

Nanako put a hand over her mouth to muffle a giggle. "Why don’t I get
you two some tea and a snack?" she offered.

Konzen rubbed a hand over his face. "Might as well." He had a bad
feeling he wasn’t getting an answer until this… visitor got food.

A few hours later Konzen had a headache, and was considering the benefits of
sharing it.

He pinned his visitor with a level glare. "Let me get this straight. You’re
an elemental spirit, and you knew me in a past life, and, because of the
events of that life, you have a couple very powerful demons after you now."

"Yup!" Goku (he’d finally gotten the boy’s name half way into the
story) agreed, tossing another dumpling into his mouth.

Konzen frowned, rubbing his forehead. The thing was, it all sounded horribly
familiar, though he had no idea why. The only memory he had that twitched
at Goku’s rambling recitation was a memory of someone laughing. He didn’t
even know if it had been a man or a woman; only that whoever it was had been
really damn annoying.

"And you came here to hole up and get some rest," he finished.

"Yup!" The cheerful, absolute trust in Goku’s eyes disturbed Konzen.
He’d never been looked at like that in his entire life.

Not this life, anyway.

He shook his head sharply, wishing he could glare at his own thoughts. "Great.
Fine. Sleep in the guest room. Tonight, at least," he added, over Goku’s
happy crow. Temples were supposed to have charity, his father’s voice said,
in his mind. Konzen mentally gave the old man the finger. Still, it would
give him time to call the hospitals.

"Aah!" Konzen bolted up in bed, panting, jerked awake from the most
vivid, and hideous, dreams he’d ever had.

Lately, anyway.

"Sanzou?! I mean, Konzen?!" Goku skidded into his room with a rather
ornate staff in hand. Konzen’s eyes nearly crossed as visions of this moment
in dozens of other rooms slid through his mind. Visions that usually involved
demons, too. Konzen winced and then growled as he heard that laugh again,
echoing through his head.

It did make him think of something, though. "Goku, can any of the demons
after you track you?" he demanded.

Goku blinked. "Um. I don’t think so. Well, maybe except for that one…"
he trailed off, face screwed up in thought.

"In other words, yes." Konzen threw off the covers. "That gun
you said I had. Do you know where it is now?"

As Goku opened his mouth a tiny glow like a golden firefly dropped out of the
ceiling. It grew to about head size and then vanished.

A handgun and a box of shells clattered onto the floor.

This time, the laughter was audible to everyone.

Konzen glared at the ceiling. He also, however, scooped up the gun. "I’m
not having demons in my temple," he stated. "We’re leaving tomorrow."

"Okay," Goku agreed. "I’ll go get some more sleep, then. ‘Night,
Konzen." He trailed out, rubbing his eyes and yawning.

Konzen closed the door, flicked on the light, and sat down to write a couple

"You shouldn’t be alone for long, and in the meantime, send all the temple
business over to Yoshimori," Konzen told his daughter. "And what
is all this?" he added, frowning at the boxes and baskets strewn over
the table.

"Lunch," she told him, serenely. "So you and Goku-san don’t
have to stop too soon."

One of Konzen’s maybe-memories jabbed him, suggesting that this was a very
good idea
. "Fine." He sighed, aggravated. "I don’t know
when we’ll be back, but I’ll write when I can."

She smiled, and stood on tiptoe to kiss his cheek. "Don’t worry, Otou-sama.
And I won’t either. Okay?"

He smiled in return.

As she waved him out the door, and he walked toward where Goku was head-down
in the trunk of the car, exploring, Konzen reflected on how little his life
seemed to have changed. The maybe-memories fit in with disturbing neatness.
Those others who’d been beside him even reminded him a lot of…

He stopped dead for a long moment before common sense rescued him. No. That
was ridiculous. It couldn’t possibly be them.

Definitely not.

In any case, he sure as hell wasn’t going to look up his college classmates
to ask whether they’d been demons in a past life. He snorted at the very
idea, and got into the car. "Goku! Hurry up."

Two weeks later…

Nanjirou sorted the mail, and raised a brow. A letter from Nii-san? He tore
it open and read.

Dear Worthless Little Brother,

I have something to take care of that may take a while, so quit wasting
your time over there and come mind the temple while I’m gone. Don’t worry,
Nanako will take care of the house.

Corrupt my daughter, and I’ll put holes in you big enough to fit your tennis
balls through.


Nanjirou snorted. Yeah, that was Nii-san all over. As if Nanjirou were ever
going to be conned into being a priest!

On the other hand…

Nanjirou tapped the envelope against his chin. They had always meant to go
back some time. And Ryouma would be twelve soon, and the right age to start
at Seigaku. It would be a free house, and someone to do the laundry. He strolled
upstairs and stuck his head into his wife’s office, caroling, "Honey?
Got a letter you should see…"