Author: Ocianne PM
Out for a walk, Heiji stumbles across a crime in progress: the attempted murder of Kudou Shinichi. Needless to say, he Does Not Approve. Mythverse AU #2.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Drama/Friendship - Heiji H. & Shinichi K./Conan E. - Words: 2,800 - Reviews: 8 - Favs: 35 - Follows: 5 - Published: 06-23-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4345202
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: All characters belong to their respective creators; The Greek Coffin Mystery was written by Ellery Queen. Many thanks to Ellen for her additional assistance with plotting and dialogue.
Other shorts set in the Mythverse can be found on my profile.
Heiji hadn't been looking for trouble.
To be honest, he hadn't been looking for anything at all, other than escaping the house for a few hours until the prospect of dinner lured him back. Heizo was already home for the day, and things had been strained between the two of them ever since the old man had discovered that Heiji had obtained his Hunter's license—despite having been forbidden to even think about taking the exam until after he'd turned sixteen.
Months later, Heiji was almost fifteen and Heizo still seemed to radiate disapproval in his general direction whenever they were in the same room together. Heiji'd taken the easy way out today and gone for a walk to the nearest park, The Greek Coffin Mystery in hand.
He'd been only a few blocks away from his destination when noise from a nearby alley caught his attention. The initial thud could have simply been a stray cat knocking debris over... but there was no mistaking the subsequent noise as anything but a muffled cry of pain.
Original plans forgotten, Heiji darted forward until he could see into the alley, where he discovered man and a woman, both long-haired, approaching a dark-haired boy about his age. The teenager was sprawled in a jumbled mess of trash bags and variously-sized chunks of stone, arms still covering his head and abdomen defensively. A shinai rested on the ground between Heiji and the other three, its tip nearly broken off by a sharp rock embedded in the bamboo slats.
In the moment that it took to Heiji process the significance of the stones scattered around, the man and woman each raised a hand and the majority of the rocks rose into the air. Before the stones could be aimed or launched, however, the other boy responded by lunging at the woman, the closer of the two, with a small silver dagger in hand. Heiji paused in surprise for a split-second when the movement brought the boy's face into clear view.
That wasn't just any kid losing a fight to two Medusa, it was Kudou. Heiji hadn't kept in touch with Kudou since they'd met at the Hunter exam's final practicum last year and he'd convinced the Tokyo native to team up with him, but they'd both passed well enough. That meant odds were this situation was because Kudou'd tried to face down two criminal marks from a Medusa clan on his own, the idiot, and things had gone haywire.
Out of time to think, Heiji charged down the alley with an enraged yell, scooping up the shinai as he went for want of a better weapon.
Ancient Greek Mythology had gotten it wrong, just looking at a Medusa or vice versa wasn't enough to turn a person into stone. However, that was small comfort if you were ever on the wrong end of a lithokinetic attack. A thick layer of rock dust encasing and then hardening around a person mimicked the effects of petrification well enough, and even if they weren't specifically aimed for the back of your skull or a section of spleen, rocks and chunks of cement traveling at accelerating speeds hurt.
Some of those rocks where now headed Heiji's way, his yell having focused the man's attention on him rather than Kudou. He ducked, dodged, and blocked as best he could, the force of the last one snapping the half-broken part of the shinai off completely. He mentally shrugged. If the Medusa wanted to be on the receiving end of splintered bamboo, so be it.
Trying to take the slightly shorter blade into account and idly wishing he had a bokken instead, Heiji carefully calculated each strike. He wasn't a shodan at fourteen and head of the junior high kendo team for nothing; time to put it all to practical use.
He called the strike mentally rather than aloud, competition habits too hard to break but common sense preventing him from broadcasting each movement so obviously.
The broken shinai cut as well as bruised, but Heiji didn't care. They'd probably cracked at least one of Kudou's arms, using rocks that big, and Clan had no reason to attack a Hunter without lethal intent being involved.
More bloody lacerations prompted an angry snarl. It was the most emotion Heiji'd ever seen from a Medusa, who tended toward a calm, intellectual stoicism no matter what the situation, even embroiled in an argument or learning that they'd won the lottery. Or, given what Heiji'd just observed, battering someone to a painful death.
Something didn't feel right, but he was quickly distracted by another hail of stones headed his way—Hey, those were his ribs, thank you very much, they'd already been broken one time too many and even bruised they were going to hurt like crazy—
Off balance from the repeated attack, the Medusa staggered slightly.
Heiji brought the shinai down as hard as he could against the man's unprotected skull. The result was likely due to one part luck combined with two parts skill, but the Medusa dropped—Heiji snorted internally at the pun—like a stone. Satisfied that the man wasn't going to get back up again anytime soon, he adjusted his grip on the weapon and turned his attention back to the other half of the fight.
The woman was stretched out on the ground, the dagger imbedded in a leg, with Kudou hunched down beside her, panting slightly. Heiji quickly confirmed the rise and fall of her chest; she'd simply been knocked out, presumably by the chunk of rock Kudou still held in his left hand.
...A hand that, like the entirety of Kudou's body, was now covered in a thin layer of rock dust.
"Are you nuts?"
Okay, probably not the best start, but at least it was an honest question.
"Hattori-kun?" Kudou looked up, eyes wide with surprise, as Heiji continued to rant.
"What the hell were you thinking, tangling with two Medusa on your own?"
"I wasn't trying to," Kudou protested, shifting so that he could sit with his back against the alley wall, half-cradling his right arm. "I was just chasing a lead and ran into those two. I've run into Clan acting weird before, I've just never been overpowered like this..."
"If you've run into unexpected trouble before, what are you doing chasing leads with just a shinai? That little dagger might be silver, but there's no way it's anything but a weapon of last resort." Heiji swiped the broken weapon in his hand in Kudou's direction for emphasis. "If I hadn't come along when I did you'd be pigeon bait, you idiot!"
And his father would have found out about Kudou's death somehow, and used it as evidence that Heiji was still too young to be a Hunter.
Kudou ducked his head, looking down. "You don't understand..."
Heiji narrowed his eyes. "Understand what?"
"I can't kill anybody. I didn't even intend to fight, it was just supposed to be information gathering. But if I killed them..." Kudou trailed off into an inaudible mumble.
Lowering the shinai, Heiji cocked his head. "What was that?"
Kudou curled up slightly, pulling his legs up to block the rest of his body and staring at his knees. "Kenshin-sensei would be disappointed."
Heiji stared at him in disbelief, awkward silence stretching until he finally managed, "Who?"
"Himura Kenshin. One of the... well, I guess he's an instructor... at the dojo I take kendo at."
"...His approval means that much to ya?" Heiji sighed, sitting on the ground near Kudou and resting the shinai in his lap. Looming wasn't going to help here. "What if you'd gotten yourself killed today?"
A snort. "He'd probably still have been disappointed, but I wouldn't have had to face him."
"And he's a kendo instructor? I gotta meet this guy."
"Heh." Kudou smiled faintly. "Yeah, I'll introduce you sometime, if you want. You'd like Yahiko-kun, too."
"Friend of yours?"
"Yeah... Pretty much the only one I've got. He's another student at the dojo; his sister's the current master."
"What's the style? I wasn't watching you that closely at the exam, and today I obviously got here a bit late, but I've heard of most of 'em..."
"Kamiya Kasshin Ryuu."
"Huh. The sword that gives life. Pretty brash claim right there, given the nature of swords." He paused for a moment as memory stirred. "...Didn't an Oni using that style claim to be Hitokiri Battousai a couple of years ago, in Tokyo?"
"No." Kudou leaned his head back against the wall, seeming to relax slightly as the conversation's focus drifted away from him. "He said he was a student, but it was just a lie to try and drive Kaoru-sensei out of business. Kenshin-sensei says that Battousai was a Dragon, anyway—he's a Dragon too, and they have good records—and that Battousai used a completely different style. Hiten Mitsurugi Ryuu."
Heiji shrugged. It was believable.
"Okay." He gave Kudou another long look, then sighed.
"Look, Kudou-kun. If you're that against killing people, next time you go Hunting, even if it's just for information, give me a call. I'll watch your back, and take your sensei's disappointment if it ever comes to that." A crooked grin tugged at the corners of Heiji's mouth. "I'm used to that kind of thing."
Surprise flashed across Kudou's face at Heiji's offer, but then after another few moments a slow smile spread. "...Okay. Thanks." The smile widened into a little grin. "But you haven't met Kenshin-sensei yet, you might change your mind."
Heiji laughed. "I've faced down Oni Heizo before, I can handle it." Hattori Heizo was of entirely human stock, but his personality was similar enough to Hanzo, a legendary Oni, that the nickname had simply stuck.
Kudou shook his head. "You don't get it. It's not like that. He won't be mad. He won't be upset. He'd just be... disappointed."
"You make it sound like the end of the world," Heiji replied, quirking an eyebrow.
"You feel awful. Everybody wants to make him proud, and it's not... not that hard to do, if you do your best and try to live up to what you are..."
"...I sense a 'but' in there. Has something happened before?"
"I've never made him disappointed in me, but I've heard him chewing out people before... it cuts, because he's the kind of person whose opinion of you matters."
"Mmm." Heiji tried to recall the last time he'd really let himself care what other people thought about him.
...It had been before the rumor mill in first grade had decided that the grandfather who'd given him his dark skin had been a Dark Elf. He'd gotten into so many fights in the first term trying to stop the insults of 'Half-breed' and 'Supe' from bullies after an easy target, last he'd checked his school record still hadn't lost the notation of 'troublemaker.'
Not caring had been easier.
Well, except for 'Zuha, of course, but 'Zuha was...
Heiji looked at Kudou, still covered in gray and brown sand. "You planning on going back to Tokyo like that?"
"Hell, no. I need a shower."
"And a change of clothes, and a sling," Heiji observed, eyeing Kudou's arm. "Tell ya what. We can call the police to come pick these two up, but my house is closer than the police station's Hunter barracks and it's early enough that Mom won't have started cooking yet. Come home with me to clean up and have dinner, and if it's too late to head home by then you can crash on a futon in my room till tomorrow."
Kudou studied Heiji's easy smile. "Your parents won't mind?"
"Dad won't like you much—he thinks no one our age should be a Hunter—but Mom'll be thrilled that I finally had someone over since... never mind. Besides," Heiji added cheerfully, "Toyama-han is coming to dinner tonight. If dad can have work colleagues over for dinner, why can't I? All you have to do is ignore the glare."
"Why go through so much trouble? Your dad'll still be annoyed after I go home."
"Eh, it's fun to rile him up. But I'm doing you the favor because you're a friend."
Wasn't that obvious?
...Going by Kudou's expression, it wasn't.
"Near as I can tell, we've got a lot in common," Heiji explained patiently, "and you agreed to Hunt together. If you trust me enough to watch your back, then we're not just in the same job. We're friends."
Heiji smirked. "And you can repay me by inviting me up to Tokyo, Hunts or no, and getting me out of Osaka for a while."
Kudou grinned, tried to move his right arm, flinched, then held out his left hand with a genuine, if slightly pained, smile.
Heiji shook it.
"Deal. ...Now talk to the police while I make a sling," Heiji ordered, hitting the speed-dail for Officer Ootaki and handing the phone to Kudou.
He looped his jacket and tied it around Kudou's neck while the older boy reported the incident, the nearest address of the scene, and his Hunter's license number. By the time Kudou'd finished talking, the sling was done and Heiji had collected his mystery novel from where he'd dropped it at the mouth of the alleyway.
"Your shinai's toast, but you can get the dagger back after Ootaki-han's done with it," Heiji commented as he gave Kudou a hand up. "Now come on. Mom's making takoyaki tonight—you ever had Osakan takoyaki?"
Kudou wordlessly shook his head.
"Man, you've missed out! Just as well you're coming home tonight, no visit to Osaka's complete without takoyaki. Seriously. Food of the gods..."
He rambled on about his favorite dish, not caring if Kudou was really listening or not. That wasn't the important thing.
That important bit was that Kudou could still walk next to him at all.
Dark Elf: Known as Mountain Elves these days unless you're trying to be insulting, Dark Elves were originally so named for the darker color of their skin compared to the Light Elves (now Wood Elves). The designation changed after other associations with the word 'dark' started being applied to the Clan itself. Human-looking, with pointed ears and occasionally unusual eye colors.
Dragon: Any person with Dragon blood. Barring accident or illness, fullbloods can live for hundreds of years. Clan bloodlines are differentiated by scale color, but tribe ties are not divided this way. Fertility is rare; young hatched dragons are few and far between, and extremely precious. Only certain bloodlines breathe fire; some have a different elemental affinity, and some, none at all.
Half-Breed: Slur towards Clan of mixed blood. Not the worst thing they can be called, but it's up there.
Lithokinesis: Mental manipulation of the element of stone.
Medusa: Lithokinetic Clan who look human, barring a handful of snaky tendrils woven among and concealable within their long hair. Traditionally stoic. Capable of turning people to 'stone' by encasing them in a thick layer of rock dust, quickly suffocating the victim permanently trapped within.
Oni: Humanoid Clan, usually around nine feet tall with horns, claws, fangs, superhuman strength, and a penchant for meat. Despite their reputation, not all all are evil or vicious.
Shodan: First-dan. The kendo equivalent of a first degree black belt. Achievement requires an exam before a promotional board: performing matches, kata, and taking a written test. The youngest possible age of promotion is 14.
Supe: An insulting epithet used towards anyone with Clan blood. Short for Supernatural.
The Mythverse will be expanded next in: A Little Fall of Rain.
Critique, praise, and constructive criticism welcome. Please?