40. Parasite


His friend's (girlfriend's?) temperate voice caught his attention; he'd zoned out, but he didn't think she'd be finished already.

The delinquent tore his eyes from the static image on the television screen - the movie comically paused just as the hoard of mint-green, gaping-mouth undead converged on The Nerd, his thick-rimmed glasses hanging skewed off his nose, frozen midway through crashing to the floor.

The horror movie might have seemed like an odd choice for the two (especially for Miss 'I-Know-a-Great-Foreign-Art-Film'), but they'd always watched them, ever since Mr. Yukimura accidentally fell asleep and left two six-year-olds alone with The Man Who Doesn't Die (in which Yusuke smothered down his fear in order to put on a brave face for Keiko, who spent most of the film with her head buried in Yusuke's back). It left Atsuko wondering why her son woke up with nightmares every night for a week ("What the hell? Toughen up, squirt.") and little Keiko determined to watch at least half of the next movie.

Though now, Yusuke got a genuine kick out of over-the-top gratuitous violence, and Keiko watched them out of obligation - criticizing the silly clichés and simultaneously digging her fingers into Yusuke's arm (which he didn't exactly mind either).

"C'mon, Keiko, hurry up."

"Yusuke. There's a mosquito in the bathroom."

"Yeah, and…?"

"So, go kill it."

He tilted his head over his shoulder to flash an amused grin at her. "Seriously? Just go. I wanna see this guy get eaten."

"No," Keiko ran her fingers through her fluffy brown hair and tucked a short piece behind her ear – a habit which tipped him off that she was feeling nervous or flustered. She pushed her knees together. "I need you to go kill it."

"Whaat? Since when can't Keiko handle a spider?"

"It's not a spider, it's a mosquito-"

"It's a little bug-"

"Yusuke, please-"

"What's a mosquito ever done to you?"

Apparently, his question was so ridiculous that Keiko snapped in a second from flustered to annoyed and (in classic Keiko fashion) balled her fists, arms straight and rigid against her sides, quirking an eyebrow at him - her glare the only thing she offered in response.

The punk stared in silence, ignoring the voice in his head telling him how cute Keiko looked when she glowered at him like that, as the gears turned in his brain. Sure, Keiko had gotten girly, but she was much tougher than anyone expected her to be, and she could handle herself pretty damn well. Just look at how-

Yusuke reflexively glanced at the healing rope-like scar under her right shoulder.


A pale high school punk (eerily similar to the ones on the screen), fallen on the sidewalk after a well-placed whack from Botan's weapon, as a spindly green insect crawled out of his open mouth. Two distinct red marks on its body, silver flitty wings, six long spindly legs and a needle-like sucker.

He wondered briefly if the movie hit closer to home too; it wasn't exactly unlike an orchestrated plan to turn a group of strange men (and Iwamoto), possessed by demon insects powered by the pulse of a stupid-looking flute, cornering Keiko alone at night in their middle school - Suzaku smugly narrating his heroine's tragic death and badly attempting to soundtrack her demise like an asshole. A flash of fear and he saw Keiko's wide frightened eyes again. Oh yeah.

"Right," the detective answered sheepishly, pushing himself up from the couch. "Yeah, right. I'll take care of it."


The Nerd crashed backwards onto the pavement, and his glasses crunched under a disgusting-looking zombie foot. Keiko tsk'd. "I knew he would die first, it's so predict-" A dirty fingernail plunged straight into Nerd's exposed eye, and Keiko's criticism cut short as she pulled Yusuke's bicep closer to her chest and forced her head between his shoulder and the couch. "…predictable," she eeked out.

Yusuke stiffened, still uncomfortable with such close proximity even if he didn't hate it. Tempted to comment on how his arm was going numb, he bit back the obvious remark about her being clingy. Keiko peeked her head back out in time to watch The Nerd become The Zombie Nerd without releasing her grip. Just this once, Yusuke thought he'd let it go.


Author's Note: And ever since, Keiko had a deeply rooted fear of flying insects.

Also, I never actually realized how important and wonderful reviews are until I published my own work (and started making a better effort to leave them myself), so as always, they're very appreciated. Every single one makes my day. :)