AUTHOR'S NOTE: Hello! For those that know me already, it's been a while, hasn't it? I apologize for that. For those that don't, welcome! Anyway, this particular piece was written for the upcoming Anime Detour fanfiction competition, so what I'd REALLY like to ask is that you, dear readers, go to town on it. Rip it to pieces, tell me what you like, what you don't like, what your mother's maiden name is... whatever. I'm serious. If you hate it, please let me know and help me make this better. I also need to shave off 1,188 words to meet the 7,000 word limit, so help with THAT would be amazing as well.
Thank you all for reading and for any constructive criticism you can give! Enjoy!
Normally, she waited until Kanzeon Bosatsu left for an appointment before sneaking into the courtyard of the Merciful Goddess, but Otohime was far too eager to catch a glimpse of her idol to be patient. It was a well known fact that she simply adored Kanzeon, an adoration which knew of no boundaries. Everything about the older goddess was perfection! She was the epitome of divinity as far as Otohime was concerned. In her eyes, even the ground Kanzeon's nail clippings fell upon was considered sacred.
Her adoration had sprung from an incident during her adolescent years. She, like all the other dragon kind, had two forms. The first was her attractive humanoid appearance, one that made even the beauty goddesses envious. The second was her dragon shape… which was as ugly as her human one was lovely. Even by dragon standards she was considered incredibly unattractive, which really said how bad it was considering things like larger horns and thicker skin were signs of extreme beauty. Otohime had been very new to controlling her forms when her mother had brought her to the bicentennial festival several years back. She hadn't expected the fireworks to go off early and, as a result of the resounding explosions, she'd been startled enough to change into her other form. It had been the most humiliating, crushing experience of her life when those around her had run screaming at the sight of her, while her fellow dragons began to laugh and make fun of her hideousness.
And that was when it had happened. A voice had called out so clearly through the commotion, "Oh, for the love of… it's only a dragon! Why is everyone getting so worked up over a dragon?" The crowd had parted to allow the speaker through… and that was the first time Otohime had ever met Kanzeon Bosatsu. The Merciful Goddess had walked right up to her, unafraid and unrepulsed, and had invited Otohime to join her on her private balcony once she'd calmed down. Otohime had been so touched that she'd nearly cried right then and there.
From that point on, Kanzeon Bosatsu was the goddess to her. No one came close to the pedestal she was on. Even though after that night Kanzeon rarely addressed her, that was fine with Otohime. She was hardly worthy to lick the ground the goddess spat on. She was perfectly content to admire her idol from the shadows. Occasionally she would cave in, like she was today, and sneak in just to watch her sit and stare at the lily pool for hours. Or, if Kanzeon had an appointment to keep, Otohime would rush into the courtyard to see if perhaps even a single hair had fallen from her precious goddess' head. One of her favorite hobbies was to collect Kanzeon's hair. Each strand was carefully pressed into her scrap book, labeled with the date and location of recovery. Sometimes, she wasn't quick enough to search before the servants swept the hairs away, but her collection was still very impressive. To her, not even a single hair of her savior was worth throwing away.
She also knew all of Kanzeon's habits. For example, in about thirty seconds Jiroushin would come in to tell her she was fifteen minutes late for her massage. Kanzeon would make a comment about how it's meaningless to keep time when time was unlimited, to which Jiroushin would remind her that some deities had strict schedules to adhere to. Kanzeon would remain seated just a few moments longer to make the swordsman sweat before finally getting up to get her massage.
Sure enough, today was no exception. Otohime tucked herself closer to the shadow of the pillar she was using for cover as Jiroushin came rushing in from one of the side halls. He gave a quick, polite bow before assuming a rigid stance to wait for Kanzeon to acknowledge him. Kanzeon remained silent for several seconds while the swordsman squirmed ever so slightly. Finally, she gave a heavy sigh and drawled, "Is it seriously that time again?"
"It is, my lady," Jiroushin confirmed, relief flooding over his features that she wasn't going to be more difficult. Otohime was a little disappointed that she wasn't.
"How disappointing. Well, it's not like things are lively down there anyway," the goddess murmured, giving a nod of her head to indicate the gazing pool. Ah… she was talking about those four mortals again! Otohime had caught several glimpses of them over the last four years or so, but she couldn't understand why Kanzeon seemed so obsessed with them. Granted, they weren't bad looking, but wasn't it weird to constantly watch the same people over and over again? It was to the point where Otohime almost knewtheir habits as well as her beloved goddess'.
Jiroushin obligingly peeked into the pool, a frown causing his mustache to droop a little more than usual. "They're fighting again, my lady. How is that not lively?"
"It's the same type of fighting, Jiroushin," she explained with an eye roll for emphasis. "Those two bicker about something inane, then our dear Konzen loses his temper and beats them into submission. If he gets too physical, the field marshal accidentally veers off the road sharply. This in turn leads to at least an hours worth of cussing and complaining, all of which never varies in originality… I'm getting bored with my boys, Jiroushin."
"Then perhaps a change is in order, Merciful Goddess, to ease your boredom." Jiroushin added a pointed glance in the direction of the spa area to indicate her massage was the "change" she needed. Otohime almost snorted at how obtuse he was. Kanzeon didn't need a routine massage to ease her boredom! Anyone who claimed to know her could see that! Why, if she were Kanzeon's assistant, she would do everything in her power to see that she was never bored. If she… but, then again, why couldn't she do something about it? After all, didn't she know Kanzeon better than her own swordsman? Why couldn't she fix the problem herself? It was the least she could do for her goddess!
Kanzeon's lips quirked ever so slightly at the less-than-subtle hint and stood up slowly from her throne. Otohime's breath became lodged in her throat as she quickly ducked back further into the shadows to avoid being noticed. "I doubt the daily massage is what I need, but it's better than nothing. Maybe when I come back things will have changed down there." With one last glance at the pool, Kanzeon left the courtyard with her swordsman in tow.
Otohime waited until they were just out of sight before rushing to the pool's edge. This was her chance! She knew exactly what to do to improve things for her goddess. Smiling and feeling nearly giddy with how pleased she was at her own cleverness, Otohime leaned forward and touched a fingertip to the water's surface lightly. She used what little influence she had over the mortal world to invoke her plan and murmured, "From now on, you four won't be able to cuss or use foul language." There… that ought to do it! Perhaps a change in speech will encourage them to be more creative with their arguments. And, if it worked... Kanzeon wouldn't be bored. It was a perfect plan!
Satisfied that all would go exactly as she arranged, Otohime quickly gathered the few strands of hair that had fallen to the ground by Kanzeon Bosatsu's throne and rushed off to store them with the others. She would check back to see how her idol enjoyed her handiwork later in the day. She could hardly wait to see her reaction!
"It was awfully kind of the magistrate to pay for our room tonight, don't you think?" Hakkai asked cheerfully while trying to maneuver the luggage around a narrow corner and up yet another flight of steps. The inn the magistrate had taken them to was very nice... if a little tall. Naturally, their room had to be the best. Equally naturally, the best had to be at the very top of four rather steep and narrow staircases. They were all beginning to feel the strain of lugging their supplies around after a long day of traveling and fighting off youkai assassins. Not even Sanzo had escaped carrying something this time. A polite reminder that there was avery good chance Hakkai would "forget" to pick up his cigarettes later resulted in the monk grabbing his own possessions with a sneer and trudging up the stairs.
"It would have been better if the cheapskate had gotten more than one room," the irritable monk muttered, pausing in the middle of the new staircase to catch his breath and glare as the steps seemed to extend upward without any sign of ending. "Or put us up in a place without so many stairs."
Gojyo, who was right behind Sanzo at the time, didn't notice that the other man had stopped moving until he collided squarely with the monk's back. "Hey, what gives?" he snapped, ignoring the withering glare Sanzo shot over his shoulder at having been hit from behind. "I was just getting my second wind, you know!"
"Ewwww... Sanzo, Gojyo's got gas!" Goku whined from behind the redhead. Hakkai chuckled at the sound of grinding teeth from Sanzo. While he normally didn't mind Gojyo and Goku burning off their extra energy by bickering, a narrow staircase really wasn't the ideal setting for that. Especially with a gun-toting monk with a hot temper.
"Not gas, monkey, second wind!" Gojyo shouted in retaliation. "And if you're smelling anything, it's probably from you! I could hardly sleep last night because the fumes were so bad!"
"We were sleeping outside, moron," Sanzo cut in with a sneer.
"Well, that just tells you how bad it was! You should sleep next to him sometime!"
"Of course you do! You know that kid REEKS!"
Hakkai reached the top of the stairs and dropped his bags to give himself a short break, sighing as he stretched his back a little. Sanzo was right behind him and busy ignoring Gojyo's running dialogue about how he was always stuck with Goku and that he wasn't the one with a chronic gas issue. Goku was the last up the stairs and, though the hike hadn't strained him in the least (and hewas carrying more than everyone else), it was obvious he was getting annoyed with Gojyo. Any minute now and...
Goku slammed all his gear to the floor and gave Gojyo a rough shove, making Hakkai wince at how dangerously close to falling down the stairs the redhead came. "Will ya leave Sanzo alone already?" the younger man shouted, his golden eyes sparking fiercely.
Gojyo, who had recovered almost immediately from the shove, gave Goku a hard push in retaliation. "Make me, chimp!" he taunted, his lips curving into a teasing smirk. Hakkai's gaze flickered to Sanzo to gauge his temperament. The monk's hands were curled into tight fists, his jaw was clenched together so hard it was a miracle his teeth didn't fuse together under the strain and his shoulders were just beginning to shake. That meant he was about to...
The fan whipped out of nowhere and connected with its twin targets without error. Hakkai winced in sympathy as the quarreling duo howled in pain and collapsed to the floor clutching their heads in agony. He himself had never been on the receiving end of divine retribution, but he knew first hand that Sanzo was much stronger than he looked and had a lot of practice in making paper painful. He'd seen the bruises and welts left by that fan. It was almost as good as a club on some occasions.
"That HURT, monk!" Gojyo shouted, pushing to his feet and getting right in Sanzo's face. It was a terribly foolish thing to be so close to someone with obvious homicidal tendencies, but Gojyo very rarely thought straight when he was angry. Not that he didn't have the right to be upset, that was. Gojyo absolutely hated being treated like he was inferior, and Sanzo had a bit of a superiority complex when it came to the redhead. All in all, it wasn't a completely healthy "friendship" on the surface... but somehow, the four of them made it work.
Sanzo tucked the fan away and gave an arrogant smirk as he said, "It was supposed to hurt, idiot. I was trying to knock that pea-sized brain out your nose."
"Why you arrogant son of a - OOF!" Gojyo's eyes widened and little pinpricks of tears coming to his eyes as Goku landed a particularly hard blow with his elbow to the taller man's kidneys.
"I told ya ta lay off Sanzo, water sprite!" Goku growled angrily, preparing another blow to push Gojyo further away from his keeper.
"And I told you to back off before I kick you buttercup!" Gojyo shouted as he prepared to launch what would surely be a painful kick toward Goku's stomach.
All four of them froze in mid-motion at what he'd just said. Sanzo's cigarette remained unlit, the lighter burning away just a scant inch from the end of the white stick. Hakkai blinked as the smile slipped several notches from his lips. Goku gaped unblinking at the redhead as if trying to convince himself he'd just heard correctly. And Gojyo... The poor redhead's jaw was slack as he remained poised in mid kicking motion. "D-Did I just... say what I think I said?" Gojyo choked out.
Both Sanzo and Hakkai nodded slowly in response. Goku managed to blink and close his mouth, easing out of his shock ever so slightly. It was just a slip of the tongue, after all. Yes, that was it. Gojyo would never say something like "buttercup", not even to a potential bed partner.
Gojyo groaned as if in agony and did a quick glance around them to see who else had witnessed. His shoulders relaxed when he noticed there weren't any women within hearing range of his muttered comment. "Whew, wasthat close," he laughed, dropping his leg and assuming an easy stance while running his fingers back through his hair. "See, that's what happens when you make a guy work too hard, Hakkai. Holy fudge, man!"
For the second time in less than five minutes, all four of them tensed up at Gojyo's self censoring job. The only difference this time was that Sanzo's cigarette was lit and dangling limply between his lips, Hakkai's smile was nonexistent and Goku was pointing at Gojyo as if he'd sprouted a second head. "H-He was talkin' about dinner, right?" Goku managed to choke out after several shocked seconds of silence. "We're havin' fudge for dinner an' that's why Gojyo said it."
"Err... no, Goku," Hakkai answered slowly. "We're, ah... I'm sorry, but did you just say fudge, Gojyo?"
"Uhhh... yeah, I guess I did," the redhead mumbled as confusion swept across his features. "That wasn't what I wanted to say though."
"Ah. That was going to be my next question."
Sanzo grunted and sucked down a deep hit of nicotine before releasing it in a slow, thin stream from his lips. "It sounded pretty natural to me," he commented dryly, smirking at the low, angry growl that came from the target of his sarcasm.
"You got something to say, dandelion?" Gojyo snapped. "Why don't you... Hey, wait a second... what the good golly... wait... What the hilly-o... Okay, what the-"
Hakkai held up his hands to keep the baffled man from struggling with his words any further than he already was. "It would seem that for some reason, Gojyo, you're unable to use profanity," he stated calmly, though his tone didn't match his wildly whirling thoughts in the least. This was such an odd occurence he really wasn't sure what to make of it!
Sanzo snorted and turned away to hide the smile that threatened to upend his nearly constant scowl as Hakkai repeated (more slowly) what he'd just said. Goku's eyes were whipping around between the three of them in bewilderment, finally settling on Gojyo as the taller man groaned once again and stumbled back a couple steps. "Y-Ya mean Gojyo can't... swear?" Goku asked slowly, as if trying to make those words work together in a sentence.
Nodding and trying to keep his own smile from surfacing once again, Hakkai replied, "It appears so. Though how this came about I can't begin to explain."
"Maybe it was somethin' he ate?" the younger man suggested helpfully.
"That's not very probable, Goku. People losing the ability to curse at will isn't a typical side affect to food poisoning."
Gojyo gave a louder groan as he rocked his head forward into his palms. From the way his shoulders curled forward and how he continued to groan, it appeared as if he were about to be sick. "Why does this sugar always happen to me?" he complained. "How am I supposed to seduce the ladies when I sound like a buffoon... ARRRRGH! This blows massive acorns!"
Hakkai sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose as a small flare began to spread behind his eyes. This wasn't exactly the quiet evening he'd had in mind. Knowing Gojyo as well as he did, it was more than likely he'd be stuck in a room with an unpleasant redhead for company. This in turn would lead to an irritable blond and a gloomy brunet, which would leave him trying to maintain a chipper atmosphere that would ultimately be overlooked. However, there were more important issues at that time than his ruined evening. Namely, the fact that Goku was about to burst out laughing at any moment.
Goku's lips twitched at the corners ever so slightly. This twitching progressed into full out grinning, which extended into a quickly cut off chuckle as Gojyo shot a glare in his direction. It proceeded into full out laughter when he glanced over at Sanzo and saw the monk's shoulders shaking ever so slightly as the blond tried to keep his own amusement contained. Letting out a howl as he flopped backward onto the floor, Goku clutched his sides and squirmed spastically while tears streamed down his reddened cheeks.
"He… he can't… AHAHAHAHAHA! Gojyo can't…," Goku wasn't able finish what he was saying due to the overwhelming laughter that assailed him, but the message was loud and clear. The fact that Gojyo was unable to drop his favorite expletives was highly amusing to the younger man.
It wasn't, however, very amusing to Gojyo. The redhead scowled angrily before kicking Goku's rear hard enough to turn the howls from laughter to pain. "What's so funny, monkey? HA! I can still call you monkey! Monkey!"
"OOOOOW! Ow, Gojyo! Why'd ya have to kick my biscuit so hard?!"
The beating, as well as the laughter, promptly stopped at Goku's rather interesting word choice. The boy sat up with wide, startled eyes as one hand covered his mouth in shock. "I-I mean," he stammered quickly. "Why'd ya have to kick my donut so- AHHH! I caught whatever Gojyo has! Sanzo!"
"What do you want me to do about it?" the monk demanded indifferently, ignoring the fact that Gojyo was now laughing loudly and pointing at a horrified Goku. "I told you sitting too close to that degenerate was a bad idea."
Gojyo sobered instantly at the insult and pointed accusingly in Sanzo's direction. "Hey, your defective primate is notmy fault! I didn't do crackerjacks!" Hakkai bit his lower lip to keep from bursting into laughter himself as Gojyo let out a frustrated snarl over his edit. This wasn't good… but it was rather amusing at the same time.
Sanzo snorted and finished his cigarette off with one deep inhale before flicking the butt away. "Crackerjacks, huh? How manly."
"Knock it off, monk!"
"Make me, kappa."
Gojyo made a lunge for Sanzo only to find himself tripped to the ground by an angry Goku. "Leave Sanzo alone, water sprite! It's not his fault we sound like wimps!"
"Get the gosh darn heck off of me!" Gojyo shouted as he tried to aim a painful elbow attack toward Goku's stomach.
It would have been the nice thing to step in and separate the two… but Hakkai remembered the last time he'd attempted that and the resulting dislocated shoulder. He decided he wasn't feeling very nice at the present and resigned himself to simply watching. Perhaps later, once everyone had settled down (or beaten each other bloody, whichever came first), he'd make some tea and try to distract them with a friendly game of mahjong. But it was in his best interest to stay out of it and let them fight it out.
"I'll get offa ya as soon as ya leave Sanzo alone!" Goku yelled back.
"ENOUGH!" The roar of outrage from the monk as well as four bullets exploding into the wood just inches from their writhing bodies was enough to earn total silence and obedience from the battling duo. Sanzo kept the gun on them steady, his violet eyes practically burning with the promise ofreal pain if they didn't stop. "It's not the end of the world, idiots! So you can't cuss. Big frilly…"
It was now the monk's turn to stop in mid-rant at his own censorship. Hakkai now deduced, due to Sanzo's "slip of the tongue", that it was safe to assume they were all affected by this strange affliction. How it had started and how they were to get rid of it were still a mystery. It wasn't life threatening in the sense that someone would die as a direct physical result of the limited profanity, but it could become deadly for others if those three weren't allowed to vent their speech as they saw fit.
The looks of sheer delight and amusement on the faces of both Gojyo and Goku made Sanzo scowl and snarl, "One word and I silence you permanently!" He turned sharply and stomped toward their room, his expression saying clearly that he was not to be bothered at all tonight.
Sighing, Hakkai reached down and picked up his bags once again, as well as the ones Sanzo left in the hallway. "Well, there isn't much we can do about it for now. How about we get settled in and go down to the buffet restaurant attached to the restaurant?"
"YAY! FOOD! What an awesome idea, Hakkai!" Goku exclaimed while grabbing his own share of the load again. "Maybe that's why we're talkin' funny. We're just hungry!" Hakkai didn't have the heart to tell the exuberant young man that he doubted food was the cure.
"This is bad, Hakkai," Gojyo added as he shouldered two of the travel bags to one shoulder while reaching for a third to carry. "Whoever did this knew fuschia well… knew who they were fizzling… uh…"
Smiling and patting Gojyo's back soothingly while trying to squeeze through the doorway to the room with his own load of bags, Hakkai said, "You're right, Gojyo, but let's try and look at it from another perspective, shall we? If this is the worst this person can do, they're not very impressive. We've been up against a lot tougher than an overly stringent language censor."
Gojyo chuckled and said the one line Hakkai had hoped wouldn't be uttered that night. "Yeah, it could have been a lot worse, huh?"
"Oh, don't say that, Gojyo! You know that only means it will get worse."
Gojyo snorted and held the door open with his foot so that Hakkai could edge in to the room. "I can't imagine how it could," he muttered. Hakkai groaned under his breath at the cliché of doom and prepared himself for yet another night without sleep.
True to the curse of fate assigned to Gojyo's choice of cliché, their "worse" came strolling out of the buffet restaurant not even two hours later. They had just been about to enter when all four had come to a halt upon seeing that unsettlingly familiar figure. Hakkai shot Gojyo an I-told-you-so glare, to which he got a sheepish you-were-right glance back. Goku was left gaping once again while he tried to figure out how it was even possible as Sanzo gave a deep groan and muttered, "You have got to be kidding me."
Bishop Hazel Grosse's smile widened to show unnaturally white teeth and saccharine delight at seeing them. "Fancy meetin' y'all here," the pale man greeted happily. "I'm surprised y'all aren't farther ahead by now, seein' as you have a mighty fast Jeep at your disposal."
While the other three stood frigid in a mixture of irritation and dumbfounded shock at seeing the bishop in the same town as they were, Hakkai instantly adopted a safe, polite expression and responded to the greeting. "Yes, we had planned to be a lot farther than this. Unfortunately, we were detained not too far back by what I believe were acquaintances of yours." Meaning, they'd run into a group of freshly resurrected people that were only determined in killing youkai.
Hazel's smile was a little more forced than before and some of the joy that sparkled in his eyes faded a little. "Well, it's refreshin' to see y'all made it through in good condition… if a little dirtier for wear. Are y'all going to eat now?" From his mentioning of them being a little less than spotless, it was evident he was implying that eating before washing was in bad taste.
"As a matter of fact, daisy picker, we are," Gojyo snapped irritably. A flare of pink rushed across his cheeks when he suddenly remembered his current speaking condition. Goku's snickering earned him a sharp elbow jab from the angry redhead, to which he offered an answering jab. A brief elbow war ensued before Hakkai cleared his throat lightly and glanced pointedly at Sanzo's tense jaw line. The two instantly called a truce to their hostilities.
Hazel's smile brightened beyond its usual beaming quality as his eyebrows rose at the comment. "Daisy picker? Is that some new fancy talk I haven't heard yet? Hate to tell ya this, Mr. Red, but it's not the most masculine soundin' speech, is it?"
"What are you getting at?" the redhead asked slowly, his narrowed eyes pinning a glare on the happy bishop. Hakkai put a warning hand on Gojyo's shoulder to remind him that it really wasn't worth it to pick a fight with the man right in the middle of the inn. Knowing their luck, they would be the ones thrown out while Hazel and his as-of-yet unseen companion remained in a warm bed for the evening.
Laughing and holding his hands up as if to ward off a blow, Hazel replied, "Oh, nothin' at all, sir! Merely statin' that y'all might wanna watch where you spout off that kinda talk."
"Sanzo?" Goku asked under his breath, all the while watching Hazel as if he were a rabid guinea pig. "What's this guy gettin' at?"
"He's saying Gojyo sounds like a girl with his current handicap," Sanzo explained as he offered a decidedly cold glare in the bishop's direction. "What he fails to understand is that Gojyo sounds like that regardless of what words he uses."
"You canary sucking monk!" Gojyo shouted, whipping around to grab the front of Sanzo's robes in a tight fist. The slightly shorter man arched a brow and looked pointedly down at the hand gripping his ivory robes, suggesting without speaking that it would be a very wise idea to back down now. Unfortunately, Gojyo wasn't feeling very wise at the moment. "I oughta-,"
"Stop pickin' on Sanzo or I'm gonna kick your daikon, Gojyo!" Goku cut in, jerking the other man away from Sanzo roughly.
"It's not my daikon you need to worry about, sock puppet!" This was accompanied by an equally rough shove in retaliation from the kappa.
Hakkai gave a shallow laugh as he waved nervously at those who were now peeking out of the restaurant at them. No need to go alarming the locals so soon in the evening. His smile faded when Gat came out at the sound of raised voices, standing directly behind Hazel with his hands poised near his guns. The threat was made loud and clear; fighting amongst their selves was just fine, but Hazel Grosse better not get hurt in the process. People were backing away now from the doorway, whispering warily to each other as the verbal fighting continued to get louder and more ridiculous.
"Will you ladies cut it out?" Sanzo finally snarled through gritted teeth as his hands formed tight, shaking fists. Any minute now the fan (or the gun, seeing as he was beyond simple rage at this point) was going to come out and there was going to be a stampede as those in the restaurant ran for the nearest exit. Hakkai made a quick assessment of his positioning and carefully maneuvered himself away from the main entrance and the two windows along either side of it. This placed him slightly behind Sanzo and clear of possibly being trampled, not to mention out of the line of fire. He'd learned very quickly that being behind the monk was the safest place to be when his temper finally broke. It was also usually the safest place to avoid a screaming crowd trying to get out of bullet range.
"Hey, how come Sanzo doesn't sound as stupid as us?" Goku complained loudly. The amused look Hazel gave to his back said that he was restraining himself from answering the question. Hakkai remained silent as well, though it was tempting to offer a humorous comment in response. He definitely couldn't make a comment now, not when that man was thinking the same thing he was.
"Because I meant to call you ladies," Sanzo snapped back, crossing his arms over his chest. "The last I looked, 'ladies' was a socially acceptable word."
"Yeah, but not howyou used it, toad stool!" Gojyo replied hotly. The redhead growled under his breath as Goku once again shoved him and shouted at him to leave Sanzo alone. And just like that... they were back to exchanging some of the most absurd insults that had ever been uttered under the heavens. Sighing wearily, Hakkai risked patting Sanzo's shoulder in a soothing gesture, hoping that perhaps a bit of sympathy would stop him from grinding his teeth to fine powder. Sanzo, predictable as ever, jerked away from the touch and shoved a hand up the sleeve of his robe to find a weapon. Hakkai in response took two extra steps away from the enraged monk and began warming up his chi to repair the injuries that were about to occur.
"Will. You. Both-," the blond began to shout, only to stop in mid threat at the tittering giggle coming from their holy observer. All eyes turned to Hazel, who was covering his smile with one gloved hand. His eyes were sparkling merrily and his other arm was curled around his stomach as if he was laughing so hard that it hurt. Needless to say, no one else was amused by this.
"My," the bishop managed to say through the chuckling. "Y'all are certainly talkin' funny! Kickin' daikons and all that… mercy, I haven't had such a good laugh in a long time!"
Gojyo's eyes flared up vehemently as his lips curled into a sneer of complete dislike. "Go fish yourself!" he snapped. He missed the eye roll Sanzo gave in response to his "insult" and the confused expression that flickered across Goku's face over the same issue.
The humor instantly died out and a chilled smile crossed the bishop's lips as he calmly folded his hands together and arched a single pale brow. "I'm not sure whether you're tryin' to insult me or suggest I take up a new hobby," he commented in a slightly cooler tone voice.
Hakkai smiled pleasantly, his own mood lifting at the sight of Hazel's cheerful façade slipping so obviously. "I believe he meant the former, Mr. Hazel," he replied while trying very hard to restrain his own gleeful chuckle. He was glad that it was the ability to swear and not the one to insult that was taken. That would have been absolutely horrendous!
"That was rather blunt of you, don't ya think, Mr. Spectacles?" Hazel remarked with a little pout.
"Oh, was it?" Hakkai asked back while feigning an innocent expression.
The other three not involved with the current verbal exchange felt an icy chill run down their spines as Hazel affected a smile that rivaled Hakkai's for false, cold cheer. One of such smiles was bad enough, but two… It was just creepy! "I hate to be the bearer of bad news, sir, but itwas a bit tactless. Tellin' a fella to go fish himself is rude! How would y'all feel if I said to eat tar?"
Gojyo snorted and rolled his eyes while making an obscene gesture in the general direction of his crotch. Only to himself would he admit he had no idea what was actually meant, but he could make a pretty good guess based off of how it was used. Sanzo lit a cigarette, his expression clearly stating he was trying to pretend everyone around him (as well as the conversation) didn't exist. Hakkai arched a brow as his smile faded ever so slightly around the edges. He knew very well what was implied, and he didn't like it at all.
It was Goku who looked from Hazel to Hakkai and back again, completely lost as to what was just said. "Huh? What's that even mean?"
"Allow me to translate Goku," Hakkai supplied while meeting Hazel's pale blue eyes with an even coolness. "Basically, Mr. Hazel is telling you to eat excrement."
The best way to describe the reactions from Gojyo and Goku would be to say that now would have been the perfect time for crickets to stringulate. They simply stared at Hakkai with wide eyes, blinking every so often as they ran the word over in their heads. Once again, Gojyo had a fairly good guess as to what was meant… but the last time he'd tried to explain Hakkai Speech he'd ended up getting a bar stool broken over his head while the green-eyed man admonished him for misquoting him. He was not making the same mistake twice! Sanzo fortunately caught on to their confusion and, with a harsh exhale of smoke, simplified, "He's telling you to eat the S- word."
"WHAT?!" both of them exclaimed in unison before rounding on the bishop with seething, murderous intent gleaming in their eyes. Hazel remained smiling and calm in the face of their combined fury, seeming to enjoy the fact that they were both spluttering incoherently for several seconds.
Gojyo was the first to recover himself and followed up the bishop's comment with a growled, "You… sissy… merry!" Hakkai quickly turned his laugh into a cough and turned away to hide his delight at the insult as Hazel's expression lost any trace of amusement. The bishop was, in a word, pissed. It was unfortunate that Gojyo didn't know how absolutely insulting his "edited" comment was to someone from further south.
"You best be larkin' on that one, Mr. Red. For YOUR sake," Hazel murmured coolly. Gat shifted a little behind the slighter man, a movement that didn't go unnoticed by the others. The hostile vibe in the air almost seemed to double as both sides (minus Sanzo, who was still pretending this wasn't happening) began to tense in preparation for a fight.
"What's he mean by larkin'?" Goku asked sotto voce. The only reason he wanted to know was so that he could use it on Gojyo later. Larking wasn't a cuss word, so it'd be okay to use. Or, at least that's what he was thinking at any rate.
"It means joking," Hakkai replied while trying to decide just how much chi he could release without doing too much structural damage to the inn. Goku gave a disappointed, "Oh," in response, his shoulder drooping a little. So much for using that on the kappa!
"Well, I wasn't larking or whatever the pillow you just said," Gojyo added firmly, sticking by whatever he'd just said staunchly. It obviously meant something bad to the bishop, so he had no reason to regret saying it at all.
"My, my... you certain 'bout those guns you're stickin' to, Mr. Red? If you are, I'm socially obliged to lay a whuppin' on you," Hazel answered with a false sigh of reluctance.
"What's he even talkin' about, Hakkai?" Goku demanded, his annoyance at not being able to follow the conversation coming through in his voice. He didn't mind fighting those two at all... but it would be better if he knew what the heck was going on!
Hakkai, struggling to keep Gojyo from simply flicking the bishop off, replied, "Mr. Hazel is saying he's going to fight Gojyo if Gojyo doesn't take back what he said."
"I'd like to see him try and get a hit in on me," Gojyo snapped hotly, jerking his wrists free from Hakkai's grip and flashing his one fingered salute. "Whup that, bread box!"
Hazel chuckled pleasantly and shrugged his thin shoulders at the taller man. "Seems Gat and I've done it plenty a'times before. One more time shouldn't be too hard I reckon."
"Oh, I beg to differ with that," Hakkai jumped in, pushing himself in front of Gojyo as his own temper began to break. He could tolerate quite a bit from most people... but he would not allow for such a blatant lie when it came to their battle prowess! It was time for a little verbal retribution of his own, and he'd do it so that the bishop could understand him perfectly. "The last time we faced each other, I believe it was you and your associate that were squirming like worms on hot ashes."
That earned him a surprised lift of eyebrows from his target and confusion from his companions. Hakkai couldn't help but smirk over the success of his come-back. In response, Hazel's eyes narrowed to thin, dangerous slits as he took a half step closer to the group. Both Gojyo and Goku braced for possible action, but Hakkai knew better than to expect the other man to lash out physically. This was a battle of words, not fists, and he was determined to win this round. "Well, I'm flat as a fritter, Mr. Spectacles," the pale man drawled as a small, superficial smile touched his lips. "I had no idea you had such a well-versed dialogue. Are you fixin' to take over where Mr. Red left off?"
"If you think you have the stones for it." That comment wasn't lost at all on the two that were keenly interested in the stand-off. Both Gojyo and Goku uttered low sounds of disbelief at Hakkai's audacious response.
"I believe you'll find my stones more than capable of the challenge, sir," Hazel murmured, one hand clasping the opposite wrist in a grip that had to be painful. "But I'm beginnin' to think y'all are all hat and no cattle." Gojyo and Goku swung their gazes toward Hakkai, eager for what he'd fire back.
"Is that so?" Hakkai questioned with feigned innocence. "It seems to me during our last encounter we were on you like stink on a skunk." Once again, the two spectators looked back toward the bishop. It was a miracle neither of them popped their necks out of place from how fast their heads were whipping around.
"If that's what you wanna believe... whatever blows your skirts up."
"Oh, it certainly does! And we'll continue jerking you through a knot for the rest of the trip west."
"Mercy!" Hazel exclaimed as he pressed a hand to his chest and affected a deeply wounded expression. "I'm as put upon as a legless bull frog! Y'all really are cruel hearted."
"Hey, if you can't take it, you shouldn't throw down like that," Gojyo chimed in with a shrug and a cocky grin. "So why don't you go blow nail clippings and let usgo eat?" Hakkai flinched at the odd statement and fought the urge to berate Gojyo for interrupting when he'd been so close to winning against Hazel for a change. It really was exceptionally lousy timing on the redhead's part.
Hazel gave a very dismal frown as he hugged his arms around his stomach. "I really don't know what to say to that, Mr. Red. Blowin' nail clippings... that's one I haven't heard before."
"Then maybe you should say goodnight and get out of the way," Sanzo suggested snidely from around the cigarette his was trying to light. This was all getting too ridiculous, even for their group! All he wanted was food, tea and some reading before going to bed. Was thatreally too much to ask? He once again swore to himself that when he died he'd find whatever idiot god or goddess thought it'd be funny to stick him with these three and kill them. And yes, he would find a way to get around that whole "gods are immortal" crap.
Hazel stared at Sanzo for several seconds with an odd mixture of curiosity and thoughtfulness crossing over his features. Finally, he offered a sheepish little smile before touching his fingertips to the brim of his hat and giving a little bow in the direction of the monk. "Perhaps you're right, Mr. Sanzo. I reckon it is a little late in the evening to be carryin' on like wounded mules. G'night, gentlemen, and enjoy your dinner!" With a final smile that told them he considered himself the ultimate victor in their verbal war, Hazel headed up the stairs with Gat directly behind him.
Goku stuck his tongue out at the bishop's back quickly before muttering, "About time he left! I was startin' to think he was never gonna let me eat!"
"Don't you ever think about anything other than your stomach?" Gojyo demanded as he followed Hakkai and Sanzo into the restaurant. "I mean you're what, nineteen now? Don't you think about normal nineteen-year-old things?"
"Food IS normal, ya cockroach!" the younger man shouted, bristling at the implication he wasn't normal. He was... well, fairly normal. Maybe. Sort of. Regardless, Gojyo was still wrong!
"Besides, Gojyo," Hakkai added, placing a hand on Goku's shoulder to console him. "I doubt Sanzo wants Goku thinking about thenormal things nineteen-year-olds do." He smiled as his friend spluttered and Goku laughed before selecting a table that was tucked into a back corner to keep the civilians safe from their typical dinner routine.
Grunting in agreement as he dropped into a chair at the table, Sanzo muttered, "You've got that goddamn straight." All four of them froze in their seats, staring at each other in shock. It took them all several seconds of reprocessing the monk's response repeatedly in their heads before they realized what had just happened. Sanzo had cussed. Meaning... whatever had been done to them had been undone. It made no sense really, but what other explanation could there be for it?
"Do ya... do ya think it's gone?" Goku asked disbelievingly.
"There's only one way to find out," Hakkai answered before turning to Gojyo with a cheerful smile. "Gojyo, would you care to test that theory?"
Nodding slowly, Gojyo pulled out his cigarettes and stuck one between his lips. "Sure... I can do that," he muttered around the filter. Everyone waited as he lit up, blowing the smoke out slowly to watch it swirl in the air. Clearing his throat and leaning forward across the table until he was only a few inches from Sanzo's narrowed, suspicious glare, he growled, "Fuck you, monk!"
The resulting blow from Sanzo's fan sent Gojyo sprawling backward across the floor, taking his chair down with him. Twin lines of blood came from his nose and lip, causing Hakkai to practically spill his own chair as he ran over to the unmoving man. He quickly checked the pulse before using just a little chi to repair the minor damage and ascertain that the resulting head injury wasn't too serious. Goku's howls of laughter rang through the restaurant as Gojyo slowly regained consciousness, blinking blearily up into Hakkai's eyes. "Man... what happened?" he groaned.
"Oh, nothing. You fell out of your chair," Hakkai lied easily, helping the other man to his feet.
"I feel like I got fan slapped. That bastard of a monk didn't just beat me, did he?"
"No, no! Now, you better order quickly before Goku cleans out the kitchen." That was enough to distract the still confused (and very sore) Gojyo long enough for Hakkai to shoot a disapproving frown at Sanzo. As expected, the blond ignored the look and began perusing the menu. A nervous waitress came over and took their order down on six separate tickets, and the food came out only an hour later. There wasn't as much arguing as usual, probably due to the mild concussion Gojyo was still coping with, and pretty soon all of the plates were empty and everyone's stomachs were full to bursting with food and booze.
"This is an awesome night!" Goku exclaimed, rubbing his slightly bulging stomach happily. "Not only did we kick that smarmy guy's ass but we ate super good food, too! AND we can swear again!"
"There is one thing I still want to know," Sanzo said as he tapped a bit of ash into the tray by his elbow. He already had his reading glasses on and a newspaper folded on the table top for lack of room to open it.
"Yes, I want to know what happened as well, Sanzo," Hakkai cut in before taking a sip of tea. He smiled when he noticed Gojyo's eyes had closed once again and lightly shook him to wake him up. It wasn't good to let someone with head trauma fall asleep. Gojyo snapped awake instantly, blinking rapidly as he automatically reached for his beer. "Obviously, some external influence was editing our speech today. But who or what was behind it... I don't think we'll ever know."
The monk shook his head and ground out his cigarette butt while releasing the final stream of smoke into the air. "That's not it," he continued. "I want to know where the hell you learned to talk like that prick of a bishop, Hakkai."
"Oh, didn't I tell you? I took a correspondence course on Southern slang," the green-eyed man replied sweetly, finishing his tea off as Sanzo arched a disbelieving brow in his direction.
"They actually teach something like that?" the monk demanded dubiously.
"Mm-hm. You never know when you'll need to tell someone off in Southern slang."
Kanzeon Bosatsu stared down into the wide, nervous eyes of the dragon princess and scowled darkly. She'd come back from her massage to hear her four "chosen ones" saying the most stupid, farcical things her ears had ever been assailed with. It hadn't taken her long to realize that they weren't able to cuss like they normally could. A quick glance at her throne and the fact that it was hair free before the scheduled cleaning by the servants had told her exactly who was responsible for screwing around with her lily pond. Jiroushin had practically flown to Otohime's quarters to collect the dragon princess in response to her incoherent splutters of horror at what was done.
Once Otohime was kneeling before her, all she'd done was point to the pool and said, "Fix this. NOW," before the younger girl had taken a deep, gulping breath and reversed the bit of influence she'd used on the boys. Thank all that was holy whatever she'd done hadn't been permanent! Kanzeon would not be stuck listening to that garbage all the way to Houtu Castle. The Merciful Goddess leaned forward, unflinching as the girl quaked before her and whimpered. "You're a good kid, Otohime... but if you so much as breathe on those four again, I'll personally make sure there isn't a single hair left behind for you to pick up ever again. Got it?"
"Y-Yes, Merciful Goddess! I'm so... so sorry!" Otohime cried, entwining her fingers together in a white-knuckle grip as she begged for forgiveness.
Kanzeon smiled kindly at the frightened dragon and reached out to muss the girl's pale hair affectionately. "Don't worry about it. You fixed it and that's what matters. Now, get out of here so I can get back to watching them." Smiling and looking utterly relieved that she'd been let off lightly, Otohime was quick to leave the courtyard and the goddess that inhabited it. Kanzeon shook her head and gave a short laugh before arching a brow at Jiroushin's little cough. "What is it, Jiroushin?" she asked idly.
"Forgive me, my lady," the swordsman began hesitantly. "But couldn't you have corrected the damage yourself?"
"I could have," she conceded. "But this made for a more complete ending to things, don't you think?"