and i'm so sad
like a good book
i can't put this
day back
a sorta fairytale
with you

-Tori Amos "A Sorta Fairytale"

+++ A Sorta Fairytale +++
by Icka! M. Chif

It had taken him most of the day, and several close misses, but he had finally tracked his prey to its lair. Ironically enough, it was by following the scent of fresh baked cookies.

That tended to stand out when one was in the middle of the forest and the nearest village was a several hours trip in the other direction. Funny thing that.

Watson made a chirp of encouragement, sensing his own eagerness. With a practiced motion, he pulled the hood off the hawk's head and tossed her in the air. Powerful wings beat, sending the bird of prey higher into the air. He grinned, slipping off his heavy leather glove and tucking it into his belt before grabbing his bow and stringing it.

His prey remained oblivious to this as it hummed, walking through the forest with a bouncing gait, tail waving like a banner. Perfect.

The bow creaked as he fitted an arrow to it, a familiar sound, and a comforting one. Watson screamed her battle cry above him, before diving down with blinding speed, her talons bared. The deamon let out a startled squawk, falling to the side and rolling. In a flash, it was running on four legs, the handle of basket it had been carrying firmly held in its teeth.

Watson gave a shriek of disappointment as she flew back up into the air, following it. He gave a low curse, firing his arrow before giving chase. Again.

This was the fourth time today that he'd lost the accursed deamon in the forest. Dusk was approaching now, and he did not care to lose it a fifth. He could swear that it was playing with him, just to be annoying.

He followed the bouncing tail like a beacon through the trees, only to loose it at the base of the mountain. He growled, an annoyed sound low in his throat as he paused his frantic dash, looking for signs of where it might have disappeared to.

Watson gave a cry, swooping down to land on the branch of a tree, then fluffed her feathers in an annoyed manner. He approached her, eyes scanning the area, finding no sign of the monster. Then he spotted what appeared to be one shadow among many in the fading light and grinned. The entrance to its lair.

Excellent.

With a nod of thanks to his hawk, he stealthily followed, slipping into the shadows. He would not allow the monster to get away with the atrocities that it had. He could not, upon his honour.

He went slowly, allowing his eyes to adjust to the near-total darkness even as his ears found the faint sound of singing. A light glowed ahead and he followed it, into cavern over twice his height, illuminated by the light from another cavern off to the side.

The deamon was there, sneaking towards the light with a fiendish grin on its face. There wasn't quite enough room to safely use arrows, so he set his bow aside and unsheathed the short sword that rested along his thigh.

Unfortunately, this garnered the deamon's attention, causing it to turn around and spot him. "Yipe!"

It was gone in a flash, bouncing off the wall to the other side of the cavern. He gave chase, following it around the room as it jumped around like a deranged rabbit. It changed appearance as it did so, the tail vanishing as he swung to hit it, growing wings to glide to the upper part of the cave, claws disappearing and reappearing. it kept up a linage of amusing sounds as it did so, one second like a pissed off chicken, the next like a stepped on cat, sometimes screaming in what sounded like mortal terror and other times laughing like a loon.

It landed in a crouch in front of the brightly lit cavern, eyes wide as he charged at it. A roar like a pissed off bear came from behind it and it jumped.

Hakuba never saw the flying frying pan as it hit him in the head with a resounding clang.

+++

"Kaito?!" Aoko roared as she stepped out of the kitchen, a rolling pin held in one clenched fist. She looked around, fire burning in her blue eyes.

"Yo! Aoko!" Kaito dropped down in front of her, all lanky limbs and grins. "I got the nuts you wanted!"

She blew the hair out of her face, making a rude sound as she did so. "What was all that rack- oh." She blinked, looking down at the unconscious man at her feet. "Who's this?"

"Dunno." He shrugged. "Kinda cute though. He followed me home, can I keep him?" He grinned playfully at her.

"Kaito..."

"Yeah, yeah." He waved it off, becoming a fraction more serious. "Think he might be a poacher?"

"Not in that armour." She grumbled, motioning to the bits of armour and weaponry the unconscious blonde carried. Too much metal for a normal hunter, not enough for a fully armoured knight. "Honestly Kaito, you have no sense of self preservation."

Kaito simply grinned at her, causing her to roll her eyes. She should know better by now, really she should. He'd been like this for years.

"So what do we do with him?" He crouched down and idly poked the comatose blond. "He's gonna be out for a while. Good arm, by the way."

"Thanks." The lump on his head was an impressive size, if she did say so herself. She shrugged. "Toss him on the guest bed until he wakes up, I guess."

"Then..." He gave a small grunt as he casually stood up, the taller blond draped over him. She forgot sometimes, just how strong he could be when he wanted to. "Where are you going to sleep?"

"On your bed. We can't have him falling out of it and hurting himself, now can we?"

He frowned at her, eyes flickering to his 'nest', hidden a the flat shelf near the top of the roof of the main room. "Then where am -I- going to sleep?!"

She crossed her arms, raising an eyebrow. An eyebrow rose back at her before realization flashed. She shrugged. "Well, someone's got to keep an eye on him." She retorted. "And you brought him here."

Violet eyes rolled. "Fine, fine. Whatever." He grumbled good naturedly as he carried their guest to the small side cave that made up the guest room.

Aoko smiled at her best friends retreating back. He really was such a goofball sometimes.

+++

Hakuba was aware of the drift to consciousness.

For one thing, it was very painful. His head ached like it had just been run over by a full parade on horseback.

He was also missing his armour and a great deal of weaponry. Not to mention some clothing. At least he still had his shirt and trousers.

And there was a warm presence to the right of him that didn't quite make sense. With a giant effort, he cracked open one eye and took a look.

First thing he saw was a nest of tousled brown hair. Somehow he got the impression that it wasn't a farm animal. For one thing, where ever he was didn't stink nearly enough like one.

Shifting his head down, he found a pixish face lax with sleep below the wild strands of hair. An alluring bed mate to wake up to, certainly, but completely unexplained.

He really hoped this wasn't like the time with the travelling acrobat, the cat and the haystack at that one tavern near school...

A short scream followed by a loud 'thud' came from outside his vision, startling his companion. With a jaw-splitting yawn the brunet sat up, long pointed ears unfurling like sails along the sides of their head.

Hakuba screamed, sitting up and scooting back as far as he could before he hit the wall.

The creature screamed, falling off the bed.

Someone screamed from the doorway.

There was a lot of screaming going on.

"WHY ARE WE SCREAMING?!" A brown-haired girl shouted, waving her arms as she burst into the room.

Hakuba stopped screaming.

"He started it!" An accusing finger rose from somewhere around the floor to point at him.

"Did not." He shot back, trying to maintain his dignity while clinging to the wall like a paranoid monkey.

"Did too!" The tousled brown hair appeared next to the accusatory hand, violet eyes glaring at him. "And I landed on my tail!"

The girl rolled her eyes, tossing her hands up as if beseeching the unseen for patience. "Then why did you grow one?!"

"Thought I was falling out of MY bed." The boy, for it looked kind of like a boy up close, grumbled as he stood up and brushed off his baggy trousers. He turned, trying to glance at his rear. "Does it look bruised to you?" He asked Hakuba conversationally.

"Er.." He couldn't really see anything past the loose tunic that covered him to about mid-thigh. He blinked, pieces of his memory falling into place. "You!" He waved his finger. "Deamon! I'm here to vanquish you!!"

Purple eyes looked at him innocently. "Eh? What did I do?"

"Kidnapped the Sheriff's Daughter!" He glanced frantically around for his sword, or any of his other weaponry.

"I Left A Note!" The girl shouted, looking very annoyed. "Even pinned it to the kitchen table so he could FIND it! Sheesh!"

"With a dagger?" He questioned sceptically, un-tensing slightly.

She shrugged. "What else was I going to use?"

"A rock?" The deamon reached over to familiarly rap the top of her head with a knuckle. "Hello?"

"Okay! So I got kidnapped by Bandits that One Time." She ranted. "ONE TIME! And I got myself back, just fine!"

"Had them begging for mercy too." The deamon added off-handily. "She's GOOD with household appliances. How's the head by the way?"

"Uh.." He rubbed the bump on his forehead. It hurt, but nothing crippling. Although he did feel an unrelated headache coming on. "Okay?"

"Sorry about that." The girl apologised, cheeks turning red with embarrassment. "I thought you were Kaito, trying to steal a cookie. I'm Nakamori Aoko, by the way. The goofball here is Kaito."

"Nice to meet you!" The deamon, Kaito, he corrected himself, smiled pleasantly at him. It would have been much more reassuring if he hadn't chosen that moment to sprout a large pair of bat-wings.

Aoko didn't seem to be bothered by this in the slightest. In fact, she appeared to be comfortable with the deamon and his close proximity.

"Hakuba Saguru." He introduced himself, giving a small bow. Or at least the best bow he could give while still somewhat sprawled across a wall and a mattress.

Obviously, some further investigation was called for before he acted.

"Breakfast?" Kaito looked at Aoko with large hopeful eyes that would have fit better on a pleading basset hound.

"Yeah, yeah." She sighed, shaking her head. She looked more amused than anything however. "You're just a walking stomach, aren't you?"

Much to his embarrassment, Hakuba found his own stomach growling. The two brunets looked at him with amusement.

... After breakfast. He'd investigate after breakfast...

+++

"Admit it." Aoko smirked. "You only love me for my pancakes."

Kaito sprouted dog ears and a furry tail, which thumped happily against the chair legs. "S'not true." He mumbled, his mouth full of food.

"Chew or talk." She instructed absentmindedly. He swallowed before continuing.

"I also love you for your cookies!" He grinned at her. She supposed the fangs were over doing it a tad, but that was Kaito all over. "And your pies, and your cakes, and your-"

She flicked one of his ears, watching it shrink down to human proportions again, well, if human ears were naturally pointed, as a series of spikes resembling a mohawk grew along the top of his head. "I got it, I got it. Now eat your breakfast like a -civilized- person."

"Y'ssm." He grinned, but slowed down so that he was no longer wolfing his food. She shook her head at him and casually checked on their guest, who was eating with obviously good manners and not just a little bit of suspicion.

"I take it..." Hakuba cleared his throat, looking just a bit embarrassed "That the two of you know each other?"

"Since we were-" Kaito suddenly shrunk, looking like a small child. If one didn't count the glimmering skin, the antenna or the butterfly-like wings. "This high!" The voice came out as a high pitched squeak.

Hakuba boggled.

She rapped on Kaito's head with a knuckle. "Shifting to a minimum at the table!" She reminded him. Honestly, give him a new audience that didn't run away screaming and it went straight to his head.

He sighed and grew to his normal size again. She noted that his legs were digitigrade and mentally shrugged. Close enough. "But yes, Hakuba. We've known each other since we could talk, or about that high."

"Then... you..." The blond's eyes flickered back and forth between the two of them.

"I'm human, if that's what you're asking." Kaito commented, reaching across the table for more jam to put on the pancakes. It would have been out of reach if his arm hadn't changed into an octopus' tentacle and wrapped around the jar.

Aoko sweatdropped. Hakuba raised an eyebrow and she had to give him credit for a good stone face. She'd screamed the first time he had done that. Changing shape was one thing.

However, tentacles were Just. Not. Right.

"Y'see, once up on a time, there was a boy." Kaito explained, happily spreading the sweet sticky substance all over his pancakes. "Who was quite good at mimicking sounds and all manner of mischief. And then there was the local Sorceress, who after an incident which in a story that shall not be told at this time involving a handkerchief, a voo-doo doll and some snow, got very mad at this boy and cursed him."

Kaito looked the epitome of cheerful relaxed story telling. Until she glanced behind him and noticed a cat-like tail twitching back and forth in nervousness. He took a bite of pancake and jam, filling his mouth for a moment.

"Basically, he can shapeshift into anything other than his true appearance." She explained, covering him for a moment.

"Can this curse not be undone?" Hakuba questioned, brows coming down as he pondered the manner over.

"Oh, yes." Kaito swallowed as he nodded. "But I ain't gonna do it."

"Do it?"

"If I wanna go back to 'normal', I gotta do something for Akako." Kaito wrinkled his nose briefly, little more than a flinch. "She's usually a nice sorceress and all, but I don't wanna. Besides, who wants to be stuck in the same form all the time? I LIKE shapeshifting!"

He flashed a mega-watt grin at their guest, practically glowing. Massive understatement. "So I see." Hakuba looked amused. "Do you have any control over said ability?"

"Certainly." Aoko had to muffle a giggle as their guest suddenly found himself looking at, well, himself. Kaito was not only mimicking Hakuba's appearance and voice, but his posture and proper eating style as well. "But it is a far cry easier to simply relax and allow my subconscious to decree what our appearance shall be from moment to moment."

"I... see."

Kaito laughed, the solid Hakuba appearance rippling like water and melting back into his usual brown-haired lanky limbed self. "I told ya I liked shapeshifting."

"What happened after you were cursed?" Hakuba questioned, looking interested despite himself.

"Well," Kaito chewed his bite of food, hair turning a thoughtful blue. "I tried for a while to pass as my normal self, growing scales where people couldn't see, altering my appearance just a bit to blend in, but it didn't last long. I didn't have the control I do now, and, well, I slipped up."

"Rather spectacularly." She couldn't help but to add. He shot her a dour look and she giggled. It was not a moment he liked to be reminded of.

"Mom was okay with it, and so was Aoko, but the rest of the village wasn't quite so... comfortable with it." He finished explaining. "So I moved out here and there you have it." He shrugged gamely, turning his attention back to eating, the discussion clearly over.

Of course, that was glossing over a few minor details, such as the torches, arrows and pitchforks, but if he didn't want to talk about it, she completely understood that too. It hadn't exactly a pleasant memory for her either.

"I'm here to do some baking for the festival this weekend." She explained to their still puzzled looking guest. "Every time I try to bake at home, people keep stopping by 'just to see how things are going' or an emergency arises, things keep happening and the next thing I know, I've got nothing done or everyone's swiped everything. If I come out here, Kaito's the only one I have to chase, and he is willing to help."

"And she's really GOOD." Kaito added, an extra pair of arms popping out and applauding.

Hakuba's eyebrow rose. "Well, that explains the tunic."

"Clothing is a pain." Kaito grumbled, the extra limbs moving backwards and turning into fluffy feathered wings, filling out the open sides of his shirt.

She knew that for a fact as well. It had taken forever with her helping him to settle on the loose tunic with the sides open and belted loose mid-calf trousers. "Fish tails especially. Hate having to sew up my trousers after that."

She grinned, remembering the time she'd seen that. His trousers had suddenly become a skirt as his legs fused together into one long continuous scaly tail. Which had set off his fish-phobia, promptly sending him screaming up into a tree, fish tail and all, never mind how impossible that should have been.

"Don't forget having to add the tail hole." She bounced. That had been one major problem they had had to have conquer when fashioning clothes for his ever-changing appearance. "Oh! Hey, remember that one time when instead of growing out the back, it came out the other side and-"

Kaito turned a holly-berry red all over and quickly clapped a hand over her mouth, putting an abrupt end to THAT conversation.

+++

Hakuba supposed that he should find it amusing that they were following a Unicorn out of the forest. While he was quite sure that the charming Aoko, whom he had rapidly discovered LOOKED at him if he called her formally by her family name, fit under the usual guidelines for attracting the mythical beast, he was pretty sure that with the amount of hunting and fighting he did on a regular basis discounted him. Too much blood spilt and all that.

But then, this wasn't a normal Unicorn they were following either.

Normal Unicorns didn't have baskets of warm baked goods tied to their sides.

Or have bright purple spots on their legs.

Or sing bawdy songs about why young women shouldn't marry lecherous elderly men. But even he had to admit that Kaito had a nice singing voice, even when in the shape of said Unicorn.

Watson didn't seem to mind it either, resting on top of one of the pastry filled baskets, her head tilted to one side as if she were listening to the song. He half expected her to start singing and join in on the chorus, as if she were a song bird.

Aoko didn't seem to find this disturbing in the slightest. In fact, she peacefully sang along as if they were all out on a late morning stroll to go have a picnic.

... which sounded like a wonderful idea, because the scent of the baked goods smelled really good, regardless of the fact that they had just eaten not long ago.

"-He's got no faloorum, he's lost his ding doorum, maids when you're young, never wed an-" She stopped singing "Oh, Hakuba!"

"Hmm?" He raised an eyebrow, wondering if the slight was intended. He was far from an old man, and he was -quite- certain he had his 'ding doorum'.

Kaito, the ass, made a sound suspiciously like a snicker as he continued singing.

"I just realised..." Aoko looked at him with hesitant eyes. "We never asked. Where are you from anyway? Are you a Mercenary?"

"Not as such." He shrugged. He didn't belong to any formal guild, nor participate in any wars. "More of a Sword for Hire. Father thought it would be wise for me to get some experience outside of our small town. So I've been travelling for almost a year now, from village to village."

"Rescuing 'Maidens in Distress'?" She grinned teasingly.

He laughed nervously, making a mental note to always -ask- if the maiden cared to be rescued in the future. This was not a mistake he cared to repeat again.

For one thing, the next time, they might not have such a sense of humour about it. Although the thought that Kaito had been playing with him while he'd been hunting him was a bit galling.

"Not from their boyfriends." He finally said diplomatically.

He was treated to the rare sight of a unicorn nearly falling over from laughing. Or as it was, nearly falling into several trees, must to Watson's disconcertment. Aoko was doubled over in laughter as well, and he began to doubt that he had come to the right conclusion.

"We're not dating." Aoko finally sniggered, sharing a fond look with Kaito.

"These long distance relationships just never work." Kaito added with a snicker of his own. "And besides, Aoko's dating Akako."

Wasn't that the name of the sorceress who had transformed him in the first place?

"Kaito!" Aoko stomped her foot indignantly. "We're not dating! She's just teaching me a few spells is all!"

"So that's what they're calling it now..." Kaito said angelically before loudly launching into song, pointedly drowning out any comments she might have had. "Then we sat down to tea, hey do a dority-"

Aoko growled at her friend a moment before smoothing her hair back with a hand and continuing the previous conversation. "As you were saying...."

"Uh, well..." He floundered for a second, then remembered. "I help in hunts, tracking and such, sometimes I help in the fields if someone really needs the help. Usually I'm hired for protection purposes, guarding caravans and merchants. It depends on where my services are needed."

He sighed, looking up at the clouds. "Speaking of which, you wouldn't have happened to have heard of the Bandit Kid being in the area, would you?"

"Bandit Kid?" She repeated, looking both surprised and confused.

"A tricksterish thief clad in all white, stealing gold and other valuables." He explained. "But he always returned what he stole later on. Just in unexpected ways."

"Yeah, I know who he is." She nodded dismissively. "Dad used to try to catch him. But he disappeared years ago."

Hakuba shrugged. "There's been a resurgence of rumours that he's back, but sneakier than before. And that he can fly."

He paused, looking up at Kaito, who now had green stripes in addition to the purple dots. The shapeshifter could grow wings to fly, but that didn't quite explain 'white clad'. From what he had seen, clothing was anathema.

... unless he was running around as the Bandit Kid pale arse starkers...

Now there was a thought.

"Haven't heard anything of him in town." Aoko shrugged, dragging him back to the present. "If he's been around, it's been away from this area at least." She smiled at him, a mischievous sparkle in her eyes. "Is it fun?"

"Fun?"

"Travelling." She waved her arms, as if attempting to encompass the world, or at the very least, this section of it that they lived on. "Adventures. Going new places."

He shrugged. "I suppose. Some parts more so than others." He shot her a slightly amused look. She grinned in response.

It was kind of nice to have people to travel with for a change, he was surprised to realise. It did get lonely on the road sometimes, and it was nice to have someone to talk to that actually answered back.

"Kaito used to talk of travelling." Aoko commented softly, lacing her fingers together and pointedly looking off in the distance, away from both of them. "I'm not interested in it as much, I'm more of a homebody. These trips to visit Kaito are enough for me."

"Is that a hint, Nakamori-san?" He asked mildly.

"Only if you want some company." She replied, equally mildly.

"Hn." He grunted noncommittally. The comment stayed with him anyway. "Speaking of companions... you said earlier that he could shapeshift into anything, yet when I woke up this morning-"

He stopped, paused by the girls frantic shushing motions. "He doesn't know." She leaned closer and whispered. "He can control what he looks like when he's -awake-." Worry and concern danced in her blue eyes. "But when he's asleep... he doesn't have any control over it at all, so the curse doesn't apply."

"So his body remembers what it should look like." He mused. So the shapeshifter really was human.

"Yeah. He can't see it either." She added sombrely. "I haven't told him."

Because there was no reason to hurt him that way, he supposed. No reason to let him know of something he could never see. "I understand." He nodded.

She smiled gratefully at him in return. "Speaking of shapeshifting... Kaito!"

"-threw her leg over him, damn nearly smothered him... Yeah?" His horsy face looked back at him, which looked ridiculous since his spiralled unicorn horn had become a little more spirally, resembling nothing more than a drunk wine corkscrew stuck the top of his head.

"We're getting close to town." She looked concerned. "You might want to be a little less inconspicuous."

"Yes, Oh Great Worry Wart." He sang, his fur becoming longer, darker and coarser as he shrunk a bit, until he resembled a normal donkey.

Except that most donkeys weren't plaid.

"Better?" If donkeys could grin, Kaito was most definitely doing it. Aoko muttered foul things under her breath about some people not knowing when to quit.

Watson ruffled her feathers, tucking her wings up as if shrugging at the human's foolishness. Kaito snickered, the plaid slowly fading into a muted grey-brown as he changed songs, to one that was even bawdier than the previous. This one was about rolling your leg over the man in the moon, which didn't quite make sense. It also appeared that Kaito was just making up verses as he went along, but the imagery was... creative, to say the least.

The one about Scotsman and stilts was rather disturbing, although he liked the one about the iron.

"I wonder, do I still get paid for rescuing you if I didn't have to slay 'the deamon'?" He commented.

Aoko shrugged in return. "I don't see why not. We can say that you found me in the forest after I had escaped from his foul clutches."

"And the pies?" Kaito dropped back to comment. It was his back carrying them after all.

"Alright, so I have a giant screaming match with Dad for sending someone after me and that'll take care of that." Aoko grumbled. "I left a NOTE, for goodness sake!"

"Which he probably spilled something on." Kaito interjected.

Hakuba agreed. "That would explain the unreadable note he was waving round." At least at the time he had thought it was a note, it was hard to figure out exactly what the slip of paper actually had been.

Aoko made a gnashing sound with her teeth.

"You're not gonna let him live this one down, are you?" Kaito snickered.

"Nope."

Kaito made an amused sound, but said nothing. It was then that Hakuba noticed that they were within eyesight of the small village. It was much the way he had remembered it, only with more ribbons and colourful flowers hanging in honour of the celebration Aoko had been baking for.

He was making a mental note that he hoped his greeting would be a little less frenzied this time around when a loud battle cry made him nearly jump out of his skin in shock.

"DDDDDAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAADDDDDDDDDDDDD!!!"

Evidently, Aoko had a roar worse than a dragon's bellow when her blood was up.

... this was not a girl he cared to cross. Ever.

Kaito bumped against him with the packs on his back, an amused twinkle in his otherwise dark eyes. It jolted him out of his shock and he grabbed the rope that was supposedly there to lead the 'donkey'. Kaito brayed stubbornly in response, a normal sound that surprised him after hearing him talk all day.

People poured out in response to the battle cry and within moments, they were surrounded by people, all yammering and talking at once. Kaito snorted and shuffled a bit closer to him, obviously ill at easy with the close pack of people. He found it a bit claustrophobic as well. He was much more used to the solidarity of his studies and the open road.

"AAAAOOOOOOKKKKKKKKKKOOOOOOOOOOO!!!"

An answering roar to Aoko's filled the air as the elder Nakamori rushed out to meet them. There was a slight pause as father and daughter hugged each other, then they both took a step back and began yelling at the top of their lungs and gesturing wildly.

"It's their usual bonding." An amused voice informed him. He looked up to see a woman an amused look in her eyes and only partially untamed hair. Kaito made a happy sound, butting his head against her, to which she smiled fondly and gave him as much of a hug that was possible with people looking and one being in donkey form. Kaito's mother, obviously then.

It all seemed rather sad to him, then. It was one thing to hear about one being human and having a mother, and another to see it.

This went on for several minutes, and he was quite content to stand back and let the shouting continue as people continued to stand around talking and the Nakamoris argued. Finally Kuroba's mother instructed for a few people to unpack the baked treats from Kaito-donkey's back. He retrieved Watson, both of Aoko and his packs, as well as Kaito's small bundle of clothing.

Just in time for a bunch of kids to come up with waving flowers around, laughing and giggling and wanting to know if he had taken care of the 'big bad deamon'.

Which left him in a most uncomfortable position. Evidently Aoko's distraction didn't distract -everyone-

He'd been just about ready to pray for a distraction, any distraction to take the attention that some of the adults were now giving him when said distraction happened.

In the form of some of the flowers the children were carrying and one not-donkey's nose.

Kaito sneezed.

Not a snorting sound, like most horses or donkeys would make, but a mighty 'ACHOOOO' that startled everyone and sent several of the smaller people hiding behind the larger ones.

And leaving Donkey-Kaito a smoky grey argyle with red and black diamonds.

Silence reined as everyone stared at the horse of a different colour.

Okay... Now they needed a distraction from the distraction....

"DEAMON!" The cry went up.

Whoops. Blast it all.

He didn't have time to react before Kaito reverted to a merrily laughing elf-bat-thing and rapidly bounced around, avoiding everyone as he quickly kissed his mother and Aoko on the cheek (avoiding Nakamori's furious fist in the process), grabbed his bundle of clothing and took off into the sky, unabashedly streaking everyone the entire time.

Hakuba blinked, standing like a calm island oasis in the middle of a stormy ocean as the rest of the people continued to move and shout around him.

Finally he sighed, as if feeling as if one weight had been released from his shoulders as a different one took its place. "Right then." He commented launching Watson into the air before he leaned down and picked up his pack, slinging it over a shoulder "Off we go."

Watson let out a cry as she was launched into the air, wings beating the air as she took after the shapeshifter. People cleared a path as he purposefully strode forward towards the forest, one hand on his the hilt of his short sword.

"Where are you going?" Aoko shouted after him.

He jerked a thumb in the direction Watson had gone as if it were obvious. "After him."

"Ah." Several things flickered across her face, surprise, suspicion, worry, before settling on pleased. "Best of luck!" She waved, grinning. "Safe journey! Take care! Have fun!" Her shouts weren't just for him.

A joyful shout went up from the rest of the villagers, which he pointedly ignored as he stoically marched into the forest.

Kaito was waiting for him there, perched like a squirrel on a branch, dressed again and wrapped up in a loose cloak. Watson waited beside him, an impatient look in her predatory gaze as if wondering what took him so long. He paused for a moment, the three of them watching each other.

Finally he cleared his throat. "You coming?"

Kaito tilted his head for a moment, violet eyes flickering past the concealing tree branches towards the village, to where Aoko was still waving, a wide grin on her face, before glancing back down at him. Then with a grin an entirely too acrobatic flip, the shapeshifter joined him on the trail.

"Let's go."

-fin-

+++

Digitigrade - Think 'Gargoyles', where they walk on their toes, instead of the full foot.
Starkers = naked. We've been looking up British slang again, I'm sad to say.

Title comes from a Tori Amos song that we've been wanting to fic to for a while. It's sorta about a road trip. ^^

Yes, We're throwing in Bawdy Renaissance Faire songs. Bite me.
Kaito's singing "Maids When You're Young, Never Wed an Old Man" and "Roll Your Leg Over", during the latter which it's not uncommon to make up the verses as you go along, trying to top the innuendo of the previous verse. The Scotsman/Stilts and the Iron lines are verses we've heard.
"If all the young ladies were singing this song, It would be twice as bawdy, and six times as long!"

"-the time with the travelling acrobat, the cat and the haystack"
Asked Dogmatix and Becky Tailweaver for a random object each. The cat and the hay are theirs, respectively. The acrobat came from reading too many Trowa-centred GW fics. Whatever mental scenes you get outta it is your own dang business.

Thanks also to Dogmatix for a pic of the Tentacle scene! XD

"-a story involving a handkerchief, a voo-doo doll and some snow"
-Magic Kaito volume one, chapter six, anyone? (the valentine's day chapter)

Dammit, still can't find the chibi-sketch of Hakuba getting beaned by the frying pan. We've only had this stuck in our heads for a good 6 months or so...

13 - 27 Jan 2004