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A Study: by zan
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A Study: The Math of Hakkai

And so we count...

He wears a dark undershirt, atop a green one. A monocle over one eye and a bandana around his head, also green. His hair short everywhere else, hangs in bangs over his monocled eye. 3 silver cuffs on his ear. 8 layers. He is so named. 8 precepts.

There are many layers to him. Some are physical, some are just masks, and some not even tangible. The cuffs rein in the vine covered daemon. The cuffs push away, to the back of his mind, what he once was. The Human. Then so aptly named as well, a play with masks. Is it only he who perceives himself as having a 'face'? Daemon, human and pretender. Another 3. Well he was a perceptive 5 before he became an 8 with restrictions.

He has been reborn. From childhood to just becoming a man. As he finds love, life's lessons begin to find and add more layers to him. Sin, and the thought that is an incestuous love are pushed away. Back into another deep recess in his mind. On the heels of love, came happiness and for a brief moment in time he wears some smiles. Then came wrath and so great was it that it turned to vengeance seeking satiation through murder. So much blood, hers, his and theirs. Oh and ALL of theirs. Love, sin, happiness, wrath and vengeance. 5 more and in them the murderer looms large and seeks death. To die, to be with her, to forget his crime or is it to just be in a state of non existence. To seek death is suicide. Murderer and suicide. Another 2

So resigned to his fate he stumbles into the dark and the rain. How he is grateful for it. These are nature's coverlets for him. It hides his tears and maybe it will wash the blood away into the earth. Yes, the earth will soak it all up. He will be worm food and go back into nature. Perhaps there is a strange kind of justice in that. Darkness, rain, and earth. These belong to nature and he will borrow them too, he picks up justice as well.

He feels a press upon his body. Is it the ferryman come to take him over the river already? Through the curtain of rain and pain, he looks up, and perhaps it is. Red. A red haze, and he is accepting of it, and smiles. A rare occasion, Red will remember after. It is a true smile. Red wants to see some more of those. So the ferryman takes him on.

It is hell. It is a dream. Maybe he is awakening to a nightmare realm. Where porn litters the floor amongst ash filled beer cans. The red haze comes into view again, it is the Ferryman. The journey is not done with yet, and no payment is asked off him. So he clutches at these new layers presented to him. Hair, eyes and even the scars he has not the honour yet of the story.


The fiery ferryman is kind and does not ask. It is not his duty. He just provides a blanket from the outside world. In the healing another layer is there for the newly made daemon. The puckered flesh from pelvis right across his abdominal. It is time to leave, he has yet one more task and then perhaps he will give payment to the ferryman. If their paths should cross again. On the pretext of this the task becomes another mask.

The next few may be borrowed layers. But isn't that what we do. Not all that we take through life is wholly ours. Layers of ourselves nonetheless. A being all beautiful and gold has come to fetch him. Perhaps this is the true angel of death. The angel has an aura and hums with power. NO, not yet, please give him some time. He borrows a gun and time. Only one of which can be returned. Where one goes now there are three following.

He has arrived only to find a barren wasteland. He is denied the fulfillment of his last task. The failure wraps him with all the others collected so far. He collapses, knees to ground and keens.

"Those who kill, should expect to be killed."

"It is Karma that will see to that."

"You cannot change anything by dying"

"The gods do not save anyone"

"If you meet the Buddha, kill him

If you meet the father, kill him

Beholden to no one

Live only for yourself"

The only side I'm on is my own."

These are his new and borrowed mantra. So says the angel of death, who steps forth and instead becomes an angel of mercy. Mantra, mercy and newfound companions.


He returns to Red. He fills himself. Doing things with a view for some kind of repayment. Red does not want it, does not need it. Red is just glad he is there with him. So the menial and the mundane define who he is now. He cooks, cleans and takes out the trash. He clings to this facade.

He returns to Red. He fills himself. Doing things with a view for some kind of repayment. Red does not want it, does not need it. Red is just glad he is there with him. So the menial and the mundane define who he is now. He cooks, cleans and takes out the trash. He clings to this facade.

They settle into some semblance of domesticity. They watch each other. When they think the other isn't looking. They brush past one another and find comfort in the radiating warmth. Just so but not touching. Both their minds tug at hidden memories. This is their dance. Red sees not a monocle, but glasses. Longer hair, a white laboratory coat and tie which is nearly undone. He sees darker hair, blue- black leathers like a military uniform and a hip flask. The merriment and the life in the eyes are the same, only now tinged with some sadness. Suddenly he realises that it isn't only him that needs the masks. So he adopts his friend's mask as his own too. He does not say when he notices that although he comes back smelling of alcohol and smoke, he does not smell of the sex anymore. He is not quite sure what to make of that, yet. But he is glad anyway. The mask of Sha Gojyo he will safeguard for him. There is more to him than this callous playboy shell. He knows and feels it. Because it fills him. It is what home should be. It is where he came back to after all.

To supplement their keep, he becomes Cho-sensei for some of the children in the village. He still has to visit the temple every now and again to reassure his angel of mercy that he is no longer a threat to society. Reformed. Somehow that word has a hollowness to it all of its own. So a teacher and reformed as well. Shall those be accepted as more masks to this gorgeously fascinating personage?

As he comes to accept the mantle of Cho Hakkai, he finds new weaponry. A double edged sword perhaps. He can defend himself with that which comes from within. With this he can also heal. So he becomes a warrior and healer. One of those masks he is more than willing to accept as a cloak. He becomes Hakkai more and more each day. He hides behind his books, his need for quiet, and then when it rains, his need for solace. Because at these times he remembers and acknowledges what he has become, what he was, what befell him and what he had done. Through it all his sadness and sorrow envelope him. When sleep does take him he wakes in the throes of nightmare. He calls out a name. He sees again all the blood and no deluge of a downpour will ever wash it away. It is at these times he feels as Hakkai, he is not deserving of a second chance. That he has no right to a friendship with Gojyo. Not the rights to learn to love again. In his sorrow he hides behind loneliness and denial.

One day he is asked to go on a quest. Another chance at redemption. It will not be an easy road. He does not go alone. The angel goes with them, the ferryman and a child of earth. This is another lifeline. Another claim to denial, in that he has no right to camaraderie with these men. But there are layers and there are layers. Soon they fall into an easy routine of another town another inn, another forest and another campsite. A routine of blood and sweat. Bullets and the clash of metal. Antiseptic and bandages. He learns that they buffer each other. One leads, one heals the wounds of flesh, another heals the hurts of the spirit and the last holds them all together in a band of golden honesty, truth and innocence. They grow into one another and lean into each other. Thus he wraps himself in these new, fresh and clean welcoming layers. The journey, the routine, the wounds, the new scars, the friendship and support.


On this journey, each new day brings for each of them a test. Always it seems in the midst of all the fighting there is some lesson to be learnt, some past daemons to confront or past to let go of. Some test them as individuals, sometimes as a whole. In the end it does not matter, they find that they pass through each ordeal generally as a whole. With each trial a new strip manifests itself, enough to mummify him. Like the bandages he dispenses after battle. Oh how many rolls is that?

On the road he takes on new roles. He is the mediator who bridges gaps and calms things down in the heat of the day. He is the mother that makes sure there are clean clothes, when the opportunity is there. He cooks just as he used to in ‘their’ home all those months ago. He makes sure they are well stocked, be it medicines, cigarettes or food. He is the driver (by default really). He is the route planner. Mediator, mother, chef, quartermaster, driver and navigator. Yet more facets to the man.

Sometimes he is still Cho-sensei to Goku, who seems to have an endless barrage of questions. He still seeks that something in a rainy night. But now an angel sits with him. Sanzo too it seems to need something from the inclement weather and indulges. Sometimes when it is not raining, he will himself seek quiet in solitude. As certain as he is of finding it, given enough time one always seeks him out. He should not be surprised anymore really, but he still starts when Gojyo finds him. He does not resent the intrusions. He enjoys this time they have, a throwback of their home together. Whether it is to sit in quiet, with just the sound of their breathing and the warmth. A few rounds of cards, Gojyo will smoke and drink beer. Hakkai likes his sake. Sometimes they will talk, the subject is inconsequential. For a moment they can drop back into that rhythm that is only theirs to music only they can hear. Sometimes it seems they have always known it. Like feather down these layers cocoon him

In as much as he is Hakkai now, it is who he was from way before that make up who he is. Growing up in an orphanage run by nuns. Jaded at an early age, a cynic in part due to circumstance and in part due to personal make up. On can surmise that he had started the collection then. The expressionless mask was a defense of sorts as he hid behind a glass wall. Always on the outside looking in. He was young and unused to subtleties of the play. He learnt fast. His appetite for knowledge was voracious. Knowledge is a powerful weapon. H amassed a great amount of it. He loved his history, about the world at war with one and another, and the literary classics. Perhaps the cynicism came from these books. The idylls and dreams of a child who has nothing probably encompassed the world. What thoughts they must have been. Such plans. Only a god would’ve thought them up. He only thought ‘that’ for a minuscule moment and he was not even sure where that thought came from. He had come to the conclusion that god was surely incompetent not doing anything to alleviate the misery of masses. So Cho Hakkai still had the blank face, the wise looking-out-at-you-from-under-the-bangs complete with raised eyebrow and hand held up with index finger waving. A gentle demeanor belied his sharp wit and tongue.

Now though he does wear a few smiles. Two categories. Those like ice, a “Please” at knifepoint. Obey or else…he was free with those. On rarer occasions he has smiles which touch the eyes and give hope to the heart that he has not given himself over totally to his sadness and despair. It enhances the beauty that is inherent in him.


His physicality is also a part of who all the layers he has gathered to himself. It is the loom that weaves the patterns and holds it all together. Though not as tall as Gojyo nevertheless his limbs are lithesome and look long on his slim form. His hands are still beautiful and his fingers are long. The dark chocolate of his hair frames a face delicate in features with pale skin, not quite the alabaster that belongs to Sanzo, but just enough co lour to not make it sallow. His form is a shield against the harshness of life.

With all this he also has the complexities that make up you or I. He has a vanity that he knows he is right. The others do too. Hakkai is never wrong. He is possessed of a certain kind of quiet pride, tempered with a steely humility. A paradox of sorts. A conundrum as one of Sanzo’s paradigms says that they fight on nobody’s side but their own. Therein lay the question. Who does he fight for? Is it a fight to keep him sane and in touch with his humanity, or is one to give daemon-kind some kind of voice and acceptance. The puzzle gives way to uncertainty and fear. Is this part of his once human self? The uncertainty and fear keeps the general populace at arms length. He is happy with that arrangement. He is polite, aloof and sometimes a fool. Sigh! The fool for love, or revenge or some strange un-nameable urge. Yes perhaps only a fool would wield uncertainty and fear as the only things that hold his anger and rage in check. Yes there is much anger in him. It simmers just below the surface and it is not a red hot explosion. It is a silent white heat. In turn he harnesses this to good use. It is part of his ability use his Ki as a barrier for defense, a weapon for attack and the soft soothing green of healing power.

He is not void of humour. His sharp wit will attest to that. A dry and teasing one. Sanzo gets it most of the time, a very slight curl of the lips is the only acknowledgement if you know when to look. Gojyo is never a hundred percent sure, even if he is supposed to know him best. Well, and poor Goku, hasn’t a chance! Also it isn’t to say he is always angst ridden and sad. He is learning to. It is surprising what you can learn from someone who sees everything as new. To seek happiness even in a fleeting moment. He even learns from the priest. Although it is more like reading subtext. And you cannot be a good student if you don’t practice what you have learnt. So in a role reversal, he becomes the student and progresses to a practitioner. He is practicing at life, looking at it from someone else’s point of view if his seem s inflexible.

He has his five senses and trusts in them in as much that he can trust in his capabilities, but does not believe in a sixth sense. Because if he did have a sixth sense, he would not be here after all. His pragmatic side is glad for it in a certain kind of twisted logic. So just as he is learning at life, he is learning to count his blessing. Certainly, at the close of each day that they are alive is much to be thankful for.

He is unwavering in his purpose. The physical, psychical and the sense which is him hold these strips and layers together. Wrapped around the core of his being. Until the sum makes him whole. The binding is only as strong as he is. So he is. He has to be. Otherwise he may unravel, fall apart and crumble. But he has a secret defense. Even before it happens and if cracks start to show, there is at least one who will help and bolster him. Redo the bindings, with superglue if necessary. In his unbending resolve, one of the final layers is his stubbornness. Yes, Cho Hakkai can be as stubborn as rusty nails if he wants to be. He will not give in. Where once he would’ve welcomed death with a true smile. Now he has a will to live and that is his strength of purpose.

Nearly a hundred layers to Cho Hakkai, augmented by the fact that he is daemon after all. Multiply that tenfold.



Authors Notes: The character used in Gonou’s name I found to be the same as in Gojyo’s and Goku’s. As well as the no.5 being represented, Go also has the meaning on its own as perception, or to perceive. The character used for No in this case also is the same used in NO as masks of Noh, used in Kabuki theatre. I think that’s all that needs explaining here. Oh I know the premise is actually a good idea, but I probably didn’t do it enough justice. Constructive criticism is most welcome. I am learning always. Thank you.

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