Hedgehog Dilemma

Guren Ichinose, Lieutenant Colonel of the Japanese Imperial Demon Army, glanced with resignation over the stack of complaints filed against Yuichiro Hyakuya, the only known survivor of the vampire reign. Reports all told of the same story: disregard for protocol, the chain of command, and consideration for others. Hyakuya always charged headlong into battle, destroying the monster himself with a vengeful ferocity Guren had never seen before in a boy of his age. Some officers (the higher-ups, of course) even blamed Guren for letting Hyakuya join their ranks in the first place. The boy was nothing but trouble and a hassle, they said, an insubordinate hothead who couldn't resist picking fights any chance he got. Well, that was the consequence of carrying the burden of a warped and traumatic childhood. Drained of blood and fed lies by the vampires, Hyakuya had been their slave for most of his young life, until he found the conviction and sheer willpower to escape and stumble into what remained of the human world.

Guren had to admire the boy for that feat. It was a life no one wanted, and one Hyakuya probably didn't deserve. It wasn't surprising that the boy has grown up fighting against slavery and certain death. The rebellious fire within him never went away since his escape; people still saw it glowing bright and strong in his eyes and in his actions.

The young lieutenant colonel shook his head as his eyes scanned the report in his hands. Regardless, Hyakuya needed discipline. If that stubborn, hotheaded boy wished to remain in the army, he must learn that teamwork and cooperation, not vengeance alone, was the key to victory against the vampires.

'Hyakuya is a prime case of the hedgehog dilemma,' Guren thought. The lieutenant colonel had never seen the animal for himself; all he knew was that they were critters covered in spikes, and if they tried to huddle together for warmth, they'd only hurt themselves. People didn't have spikes, but they could be just like hedgehogs. Hyakuya certainly seemed to give off that impression: hiding the sorrow and anger he carried in his heart by bristling his spikes and keeping people away, out of fear that building bonds again would only hurt all the more if he lost them. Guren was a soldier; he knew better than most what it was like to lose the people he cared about. It made him hold those still living close to his heart. Hyakuya probably didn't know any better. Closing himself up from any chance of friendship and camraderie would only do him harm. If Hyakuya was allowed to continue his vengeful rampage, soon he'd lose his humanity and become no better than the monsters he so wanted to slay.

Fortunately, Guren had the solution to this dilemma in mind. He planned to have Hyakuya on probation and sent to Second Shibusa High School. He saw nothing unjust in the punishment. It might even do Hyakuya a great favor. It'd give him the chance to straighten out and learn how to make friends. The latter was something the boy might find much easier to do at school than within the army. Most of all, it'd give him a chance to live like any other high school kid. Guren needed to have Hyakuya take his mind and hands off of killing demons for once, and have him worry instead about homework, questionable school lunch, and cute girls. He made a note to himself that he'd request teachers to have more group projects, just to rub it in on the kid. Another thought that crossed his mind made Guren crack a grin. Hyakuya could only rejoin the army on the condition that he makes friends at school. If grades wouldn't motivate him, surely that will.

A series of polite raps on Guren's door stirred him from his thoughts.

"You may enter," he called.

The officer behind the door obeyed, and he snapped a salute at the superior officer. "Lieutenant Colonel Ichinose, we have Private Hyakuya present in the hallway for your appointment with him. Are you ready to have him sent in, sir?"

A wry smirk tugged at the corners of Guren's lips as he nodded and steepled his hands. "Go on and bring him in here. Hyakuya's going to hate me for what I'm about to tell him."