"Truly, this is the final straw," Hakkai declared without preamble, not bothering to shut Gojyo's dressing room door behind him as he entered.
Gojyo looked up, catching sight of Hakkai in the mirror, and burst out laughing.
Curled miserably in Hakkai's arms, a very lavender Hakuryuu glared balefully back at him and hissed a warning.
Gojyo kept laughing, barely able to pause for breath. "What--what the hell happened to him?" he finally managed, wiping a tear from the corner of one eye as he turned to face them properly.
"It really isn't funny, Gojyo," Hakkai admonished sadly. "It's unwise to laugh at Jiipu's misfortune before the animators have finalized their color choices. I am sure there are worse things than pink hair, after all, and your tanktop is still white."
Gojyo reeled in his mirth the best he could; Hakkai's voice had that glint of steel underneath that meant you were in for a world of regret if you didn't heed his not-quite-a-warning. "So what've they got against white, exactly?"
"I'm sure I don't know," Hakkai sighed, cuddling his disconsolate purple dragon closer. "Sanzo's robes are one thing. Off-white is not too terribly far a cry from white, after all, and it does hide a multitude of stains left between launderings--"
"Monkey-love stains, you mean." Gojyo flashed his lascivious grin.
"Among other things, yes." Hakkai kept on despite the interruption. "My own sash I can forgive, I suppose, if only because purple and green complement one another so nicely. Although, with this shade of green, I ought to have something more eggplant than lavender, really..."
"Kyuu," Hakuryuu interjected petulantly.
Hakkai ran a soothing hand down the sinuous arch of his neck. "But this?" His fingertips played over the bend of one mis-colored wing. "This is entirely unacceptable. They changed his name to White Dragon, even, yet they decide he should be lavender?"
Amusement was getting the better of Gojyo despite his valiant efforts to check it. "Maybe," he offered, managing not to snicker (but only just), "maybe they're trying to broaden our appeal? Bring in the Barney set?"
The look Hakkai gave him was full of withering reproach. "Dragons are quite different from dinosaurs, Gojyo, and it's entirely the wrong shade of purple besides." His tone was the sort generally heard only in the classroom and reserved for the slowest of pupils.
"Hey, hey--don't gotta tell me." Gojyo held up his hands placatingly. "Tell it to the damned animators."
"We are on our way now." The gleam of light off Hakkai's monocle and the flat set of his mouth did not bode well for his impending audience.
"Hang on--I'll come too, give 'em a nice solid united front." Gojyo swung around and out of his chair, striding across the small room in three steps and bending to peer closely at Hakuryuu. "Whoever heard of a purple dragon, anyway?" he muttered.
"Kyuu," Hakuryuu agreed, nuzzling warily at the hand Gojyo lifted to stroke his head.
"I mean--" and Gojyo's straight face wavered, crumbled, "--it sounds like a trendy new drink," he snickered, "something they'd serve in those over-priced foreign bars across town--!" He cut himself off as giddy laughter boiled over again.
Hakuryuu hissed and twisted out from under Gojyo's hand, teeth bared, glaring.
"Aw, Jiipu, don't be like that!" Gojyo managed as his laughter well and truly overcame him. "I'm sorry, really! We'll--we'll make 'em fix it--!" But he was leaning against the door jamb, fighting for breath, one arm around his middle as whoops of helpless mirth shook his lanky frame.
"Kyuu!" Hakuryuu snapped, bristling in Hakkai's arms.
"Hush, now," Hakkai soothed, fingers playing gently down the dragon's neck. "Think of it this way." He pressed a soft kiss between Hakuryuu's horns. "If Gojyo is so overcome by his amusement at your plight, I doubt very much that he'd still be able to properly enjoy that trick we discovered last night."
Gojyo's laughter trickled off suddenly. "Ah...huh?" He glanced worriedly between the two. Hakuryuu glowered back.
Hakkai continued as though Gojyo had said nothing, his tone managing to be comforting, conspiratorial and resigned all in the same breath. "I'm sure you remember what I mean, of course--I had my tongue in his ear while you were licking his--"
"Whoa, hey, whoa!" Abruptly sober, Gojyo flailed out of the doorway. "Done! All done, I swear!" There was smothered panic underneath his voice. "Jiipu--I'm sorry. Really, I am. C'mere?" He held out his arm, inviting and hopeful.
Still brooding in Hakkai's embrace, Hakuryuu stared intently at the outstretched offering just long enough to make Gojyo nervous, then flicked his head to the side with a haughty little snort of resignation. He made a great show of disentangling himself from Hakkai before he spread his wings and leapt lightly to Gojyo's arm, the sharper-than-necessary grip of his talons daring the other to laugh at him again.
Gojyo manged not to wince as the dragon's claws took hold; he brought his arm in close so that they were eye to eye. He brushed the knuckles of his free hand down Hakuryuu's neck and over his lavender belly. "Sorry for laughing," he purred softly, a masterfully balanced blend of contrition and seduction. His eyes were warm and direct, half-lidded yet entirely sincere as they met the dragon's "I'll make it up to you. Promise."
Hakuryuu's grip eased, and he settled his wings about him more comfortably. "Kyuu," he offered, still put out.
Gojyo's most charming grin curved his mouth, and he tilted his head, angling in closer to the dragon. "What d'you say--" he breathed, lips trailing lightly under Hakuryuu's purple ear, kissing softly at the bit of purple neck just behind. "Forgive me?"
The dragon melted, just a little. "Kyuu," he relented with a long-suffering sigh, but there was a faint note of fondness beneath it. He snaked his head down under Gojyo's chin and nipped gently at the curve of his throat.
Hakkai nodded faint approval and stepped past them.
"There we are, now," Gojyo purred, and this time it was all seduction. He raised his arm so Hakuryuu could step to his shoulder and clapped Hakkai solemnly on the back. "C'mon. Let's go give 'em hell, yeah?" He cracked his knuckles, cocksure grin firmly in place.
"Kyuu," Hakuryuu agreed, twining himself around the back of Gojyo's neck beneath the fall of long pink hair.
"Indeed, let's," Hakkai added, frost in his voice, and his smile actually dropped the temperature in the hall a degree or two.
Meanwhile, across the lot on the set of Gaiden...
When Goujun opened his office door, Kenren's eyes widened and he made a garbled sound that began as choked-back laughter and ended as a politely-covering cough.
Tenpou managed somewhat more articulately. "...Oh. My," he said at last, blinking owlishly behind his glasses.
"You can say that again," Kenren muttered, unable to pull his eyes from the pastel, scowling face of his commanding officer.
"...Oh. Oh my," Tenpou repeated, similarly riveted. "Ahh...this is certainly, um...what happened, Sir?"
"Animators," Goujun growled, stepping aside to allow them entry. He shut the door behind them, and if it slammed closed with more force than was absolutely necessary, it was entirely understandable and certainly to be forgiven.
"I do wonder what they can possibly be thinking," Tenpou declared, circling Goujun's rigid and indignant form to survey the damage.
"I am quite sure I don't know," Goujun agreed irately. "This--" he gestured emphatically with one lavender hand "--is nota normal color for any dragon!"
"We~ell, from where I'm standing, maybe it's not so bad, eh?" Kenren offered consideringly.
Goujun leveled him with an incredulous glare; Tenpou arched an equally disbelieving eyebrow.
Kenren rubbed thoughtfully at his chin, one finger stroking over the corner of his mouth to mask the grin he couldn't quite hold back. "Yes, actually--I think I kind of like it. It's a very becoming hue on you, Commander."
Goujun's eyes narrowed to fiery yellow-red slits and he growled, a low sound that articulated his severely un-amused displeasure better than any words could have.
"Ah, that is to say, Sir--" Tenpou interjected himself smoothly between the two, effortlessly regaining the flaring dragon's focus. "It's a very fetching shade of lavender, to be certain, but it's far better suited to clothing than to your skin." He shot a brief, scathing glance over his shoulder at Kenren, an articulate rebuke on the wisdom of teasing an angry dragon whose dignity was on the line.
"...Right," Kenren said, and cracked his knuckles. "I think I'll go have a word with these animators, see if they can't have some sense talked into them. Complain about this, maybe, while I'm at it." He ran a careless hand over the pink disarray of his hair.
"Oh, indeed. I'll come with you." Tenpou arched an invitational eyebrow at Goujun. "Do you care to join us, Sir?"
The dragon shook his head, temper somewhat subsided. "I will remain here--I have no wish to parade my misfortune in the halls. It is bad enough that I should suffer the two of you to see me in such a state--"
The opening door cut him off and Kanzeon Bosatsu strode in, Jiroushin on hir heels. "Ah. Good. You're all here," se said, and draped hirself gracefully into Goujun's chair without waiting for an invitation. Se slouched sideways against the desk, legs crossed, cheek propped on hir fist, and blew upwards at the hair in hir face.
As Goujun was speechless with outrage-turned-mortification and Kenren was goggling in mute, subdued horror at the solid white and very not-transparent material of Kanzeon's bodice, Tenpou was left to step diplomatically to the fore.
"Bosatsu-sama, Jiroushin-dono--" He gave them each a tiny, curt nod of greeting, that dazzling empty smile beaming brightly. "We are honored by your visit, untimely as it is, ahaha! As you can see--" he tilted his head faintly in Goujun's direction "--we have an Issue, which requires rather immediate attention--"
"That's precisely why we've come," Kanzeon interrupted, straightening up in hir seat. "I'm headed for another negotiation with the animators about their color choices and the imposed limits on white. Give me your gripes and I'll see to it they're fixed, if at all possible."
"Gripes? Oh, have we ever got gripes," Kenren quipped, still staring fixedly at Kanzeon's chest though the horror in his eyes had faded to a wistful resignation.
The bodhisattva followed his gaze and made a little sound of annoyance. "Oh, I'm afraid this one's decided, whether we like it or not," se said sourly. "'Standards of Decency', or something. I tried convincing them to at least make it red, or purple, or blue, anything so I'm not eating into the white quota, but they're not having it. Now then." Se leveled one round-tipped polished nail at Goujun. "You we have to fix. This is an outrage not to be borne, am I right?"
"Quite," Goujun managed with as much dignity as he could muster.
"Between your skin and your wardrobe, though, you're white-on-white and they're tying themselves in knots over it. I"ll make them change you back, but I'm quite sure they'll demand a color-change in your clothes to compensate."
"So long as I am myself again, and provided they will refrain from using this color--" Goujun again flicked a lavender hand indicatively "--to clothe me, I am agreeable."
Jiroushin leaned down, murmuring very near Kanzeon's ear. "Bosatsu-sama, what about the ANUC?"
Kanzeon tilted hir head to halt his question, still addressing Goujun. "Agreed. I'll see to it that they give you something suitable--a blue-grey, ocean sort of color, I think would be best. If they carry on about needing the lavender to keep the Advocates for Neglected and Underused Colors off their backs," and here se flicked an acknowledging glance at Jiroushin, "I'll just tell them they can give it to Konzen."
"I doubt very much that Konzen will appreciate it," Tenpou observed mildly.
"Pfft." Kanzeon waved dismissively. "It'll look good on him. He needs a little change, and it'll bring out his eyes, too. And besides." Se winked. "I'll get a kick out of the look on his face when he finds out."
"Speaking of eyes, then," Kenren interjected. "What about me and Tenpou?"
"Oh, no, I rather like the green," Tenpou beamed. "It's not me, certainly, but I'm not bothered enough to argue it with them. Particularly as my lab coat is still white. There's a saying Down There about the mouth of a gift horse that comes to mind, though I can't quite recall it precisely..."
"Fine, then." Kenren shrugged. "What are the chances of getting my eyes fixed, and my hair?"
Kanzeon was shaking hir head before he'd finished the question. "Sorry, dear, you're stuck with those," se said, not unkindly. "I've tried 'til I'm blue in the face to convince them otherwise, but they're absolutely sure that no one will make the connection between you and Gojyo without them."
"...Can we at least get it fixed to red? I realize Gojyo's not gonna fuss about it, but this pink really sucks."
"Apparently there are limits on red, as well. Besides, using a shade that's actually blood-red when it's constantly referred to as Blood Red is 'too gruesome'," Kanzeon mocked, exasperation clear in hir voice. "Never mind what color it's supposed to be, of course. Gojyo gets the cuddly pink treatment, therefore you get the cuddly pink treatment."
"Naturally." Kenren made a face. "Y'know, I really hope all this underestimating their viewership crap comes back to bite them in the ass, and soon."
"Of course it will." Kanzeon winked at him. "Karma never fails." She glanced 'round at the other two again. "Will that take care of it, then? We're just fixing our honored dragon?"
"The sooner the better," Goujun confirmed, one eyebrow arched pointedly in his lavender face.
"Yes, yes." Kanzeon rose gracefully and headed for the door, Jiroushin hurrying to open it for hir. "If you're still purple half an hour from now, please do feel free to crash the negotiations and let them witness the full fury of a dragon when his dignity's been slighted." Se winked at Goujun to ease his embarrassment. "But it shouldn't come to that. Don't worry." Se swept out as perfunctorily as se'd swept in, and Jiroushin pulled the door closed in hir wake.
"You're sure you don't want to stay this way, Commander?" Kenren sauntered over to the dragon and leaned close against his rigid back. "I mean, I'm stuck with this godawful hair, and the purple is rather a nice complement to it..." He nuzzled gently at the side of Goujun's neck, nose brushing along the back of his ear.
Goujun growled, but the promise of having his condition fixed had tempered his ire to manageable proportions and there was no real warning in the sound. He reached to comb gentle, blunt-nailed fingers through Kenren's pink hair, a conciliatory gesture even as he spoke dismissively. "You are flamboyant enough for all three of us, General, with or without their unfortunate meddling. There is no need for me to try to wrest that distinction from you."
"He's right, however," Tenpou piped up, eyeing Goujun's lavender hand carded through Kenren's pink hair. He patted about his pockets in search of a cigarette and lighter. "The colors do complement one another nicely, in an easter-egg sort of way, hah."
Goujun paused in his petting of Kenren's much-abused hair and Kenren lifted his chin from Goujun's shoulder, both turning to stare at the marshal.
"I've always been quite partial to the balance of white against black, myself, though," Tenpou added, beaming, affecting not to notice their annoyance as he lit up. He took a long drag, eyes drooping at the pleasure of it, and breathed it out on a sigh of satisfaction.
"Oops--'scuse me-- " Kenren ducked around Hakkai and plucked a pair of Western Army trousers from the wardrobe rack. "Sorry, sorry--don't mean to crowd."
"It's quite alright." Hakkai moved the tiniest bit sideways in accomodation, one of Sanzo's robes draped over his arm and a pair of Goku's boots in hand.
"Thanks. Oh, hey, Jiipu." Kenren tossed a lazy semblance of a two-fingered salute with his free hand as Hakuryuu winged down, back from somewhere or other and properly white again. "Looks like they got you back to normal too, eh?"
"Kyuu." Hakuryuu peered curiously at Kenren from where he'd settled on Hakkai's opposite shoulder and dipped his head a fraction in greeting.
"Then Goujun-sama's coloring was corrected as well?" Hakkai asked, free hand lifting to stroke a 'hello' down Hakuryuu's neck.
"Yeah, thank the gods." Kenren tossed the pants to lay over his shoulder and gestured with one hand. "Can you imagine the hell he'd have ended up raising if they'd refused?"
Hakkai laughed his polite little conversational laugh. "I'm quite sure it would have done wonders for changing their minds, had it come to that."
"An angry dragon is a very persuasive dragon, eh? What's that saying Tenpou's so fond of?"
Hakkai's smile took on an appropriately conspiratorial edge. "'Meddle not in the affairs of Dragons, for you are crunchy, and good with sauce'."
"Yeah. That's the one." Kenren grinned, a smug complacent crooking of one corner of his mouth.
"Kyuu-u," Hakuryuu added in obvious approval, and the narrow baring of his teeth mirrored the smiles of the other two perfectly.