The Time they Met (aka Western AU) 1 of 4

By Icka! M. Chif


The first time they met, Hakuba Saguru didn't have a clue who he was.

It was an accident, he'd been given some bad directions by the dark haired idiot who had loaned him the horse and was now hopelessly and completely lost as to where exactly the next town lay. All that could been seen for the naked eye for miles and miles was mesquite trees and sage brush. Which had been interesting to look at when he had first seen them, oh, several days ago.

And the sun was also now setting. While this was helpful in the fact that he now had a clear reference point as to which direction West lay in. This meant that the stars were now coming out, another useful thing since he had learned how to navigate via the constellations when he was just a small child.

But this also left him in a precarious situation. Alone, out in the untamed wilderness with nothing but his friendly Smith and Wesson, and the horse he was riding.

The horse was about as thick as a brick, and had no sense of direction. Fool thing kept trying to find cliffs to walk off of. He was tempted to let it. If he didn't need it to get to the next town.

Which he didn't know where it was.

He'd been just about ready to call it a day and start up a small fire to warm his dinner and go to sleep when he saw a light in the close distance. Which briefly sputtered out, then grew larger. A small campfire amid some scraggly trees.

Campfire meant someone else in the wildness. Which could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on who exactly it was.

Depending on who it was could also mean waking up alive and not waking up at all.

He debated it a moment, then moved the loaned horse in that direction. If he continued to stay lost, he could also end up dead. It was really just a mere matter of percentages when you got right down to it.

The person spotted them in the fading dusk light as they approached in the fading dusk light and rose, arms casually resting at their sides as they radiated an air of cautious friendship. It was a young man, about his own age, wearing worn pants, long sleeve shirt over another shirt, vest, suspenders, boots and no hat Saguru noted absently, squirreling the information away. No gun in sight either, unless it was hidden in the small travelling pack next to the fire or in the slight lean-to beside it. No sign of a horse.

The clothing was for a colder climate than what he had been dealing with all day, probably a traveller or a worker on his way from the mountains to the next town, he concluded. He paused a respectful distance from the figure, allowing them to get a look at him as well.

A grin crossed the other person's face, bright white gleaming in the shadows. "I'm not too keen on guns, if that's what you're worried about." A cheerful voice called, as the weight was shifted off the balls of their foot, rocking back onto the heels in an easy posture. "Care to share the fire tonight?"

"I would be most honoured." He agreed, relaxing slightly at the invitation. He climbed off the horse, leading the idiot beast over to introduce himself. "Hakuba Saguru. Pleased to make your acquaintance."

"Call me Kaito." The grin flashed again as he shook his hand. "There's a good tree for hitching your horse to for the night over there. Plenty of scrub to eat. You'll pardon me if I don't help, not too keen on horses either."

"Not a problem." No horses would explain why he was on foot then. "I'm just grateful for the invitation."

"We all need company once in a while." Was Kaito's easy answer. "Not many people wander this way. Taking the scenic route to Beika?"

"You could say that." He admitted wryly, tossing the reins to a branch and taking off the saddle. The horse huffed at him and immediately started to roll in the dirt. He scowled at it, hanging the saddle and bags over a branch.

Kaito laughed, a bright open sound as he crouched back down next to the fire as the last bit of sun set, casting them into starlight. Moon rise wouldn't be for a bit and he found himself grateful for the light and the company. "Let me guess. You borrowed the horse from Hattori Heiji, to return to the sheriff at Beika. Heiji's a nice guy, but lousy sense of direction."

"I take it you're a local then?" He was relieved to find he wasn't the first to be mislead by the friendly dark-skinned boy.

"Somewhat." An enigmatic grin was flashed at him. "I travel around lot, know lots of people around here. I'll give you the right directions to Beika in the morning."

"Many thanks." He sat down on a rock conveniently placed near the fire with a muffled sigh of bliss. Horseback riding was not as easy as it looked, and as much as he hated to admit it, he was very much out of practice. The chance to actually -sit- down was a welcome one.

Kaito chuckled at his reaction. "Where you headin' to, if you don't mind the question? I may know a faster route."

"Ekoda." He replied easily. "My father asked me to come out and help with the family business."

"Ah. From back East then." Kaito nodded sagely.

"New England, actually."

"Heard it's pretty up there."

He felt a pang of homesickness. "It is. Nothing like out here."

"Heh." The dark haired boy smiled reassuringly at him. "Wait until you get to Ekoda, you'll never want to leave. Pretty little town."

Saguru leaned forward, eager for more news about the place that was to be his new home. "You're familiar with the place?"

"Almost settled down there." A quick flash of melancholy? regret? flashed across his face. "Met a girl there with the biggest blue eyes you've ever seen, and a temper hotter than the sun at noon. You'll prolly meet her there, Nakamori Aoko, the sheriff's daughter."

"Your sweetheart?"

"Not any more." A sheepish grin was flashed, making Saguru wonder if smiling was another language. "There was an incident with a small boy locking himself in a supposedly unpickable safe and things didn't turn out quite so good."

There didn't seem to be much he could say to that without prying. "I'm sorry to hear that."

"Eh, me too. Such is life." Kaito shrugged. "You hungry?"

His stomach chose that moment to wake up and growl. He put a hand on it, trying hard to ignore to ignore the bead of sweat sliding down the back of his head. Kaito just laughed, pulling out a rabbit he had caught earlier for dinner. He dragged out some biscuits he had gotten at the last town, and they scraped a decent meal together with some hard candy sticks for dessert.

While the food wasn't the most spectacular, the conversation and the company more than more than made up for it. They started out by exchanging bits of information from where he had come from, Kaito telling him stories of the people and events in the local area.

Such as how Hattori Heiji was known as the 'Teenage Detective of the West' and Kudo Shin'ichi was his rival/best friend, the 'Teenage Detective of the East'., never mind that Heiji lived to the East and Kudo to the West. (Heiji's family had travelled from East to West to live where they were currently and Vice Versa with Kudo's family). To watch out for a roving bandit gang but were easy to spot due to their tendency to wear lots of black. All the way down to the frivolous stuff, such as who made the best cookies and pies in the region.

From there the subject travelled, from every topic they could think of to simply swapping random stories. Kaito turned out to be a natural storyteller, weaving tall tales that left him laughing with stitches in his sides with the same ease most people would drink water.

Saguru had been extremely delighted and pleased to meet someone that not only his intellectuals equal and had a wide range of interests, but was a pleasure to not only talk to but to listen to as well. He'd had no problems agreeing to deliver a parcel to the sheriff when he got to town. After all, he had to return the horse as well.

It was late into the night, long after the moon had finally risen when they finally called it a night, sleeping on opposite sides of the banked fire. The lean-to was too small for both of them to fit under, but provided some rough protection from the wind.

He woke up the next morning shortly after the sun rose to find the fire put out and both Kaito and Kaito's stuff gone. A map had been drawn in the dirt where the other boy had been sleeping directing him to the next town via hard to miss landmarks.

It wasn't for several hours later when Saguru noted two very distinct unusual things about his previous night's companion.

One, his eyes had looked almost purple in the fire light, a very rare and unusual colour.

And two, he couldn't remember seeing any tracks around the campfire aside from his and the horses.

It was like Kaito was a ghost, or a phantom.

He shivered at the thought. The town came into view at that point and he promptly forgot about it.

Until he had returned the horse to Sheriff Megure, who was easy to spot after Kaito's description. He also met Kudo Shin'ichi then, who had verified the fact that Megure never took his hat off, even to bathe, which caused him just a bit of disconcern.

Megure's shout when he opened the white-fabric wrapped bundle had drawn everyone's attention to them, and many demands of where he had gotten it.

After a confusing face pinching and a brief explanation later on his part, Hakuba Saguru was told for the first time about the Cyote Kid.

A thief dressed in a white suit and a cape, who left a warning notice, then robbed banks, safes, rail cars, stagecoaches and what ever else he could get his hands on, then RETURNED what he had taken to the previous owners.

Such as he had just had the dubious pleasure of returning the contents of the town safe that had been removed the day before.

A thief people said could fly.

Also known as The Phantom Thief, the White Clad Bandit, and most importantly...

Kuroba Kaito.


17 Sept 2003

Heh. Okay... one of those random things that pops up when you least expect it. In this case, I think it's a throw back to our trip to AnimeFEST, and driving for 10 hours through Arizona, New Mexico (my homestate! XD) and Texas.

The safe thing is a reference to an O. Henry story. More explained next time. ^__^

"The second time they met, Hakuba Saguru didn't recongise him."