Taikoubou blinked and rubbed his eyes. Closing the
door to his apartment, he read the number off carefully. Yep, still 666.
It was his apartment. He prided himself on solving mysteries--it
sort of went with the job description--but the mystery of walking into
his dump of an apartment and finding it replaced with some sort of vision
out of redecorating magazine wasn't the kind of case he normally handled.
He walked into his apartment with caution, on the off chance he was about
to be killed by some crazed Martha Stewart fan.
There was a delicious smell lingering in the kitchen. The last time he'd cooked there, he'd left the place a soot-blackened disaster. It too was immaculate, the path through debris leading to the fridge door replaced by clean white floor tiles. Someone had cooked in there recently, and it smelled like heaven. When he opened the fridge, he found his beer and peaches and such neatly stacked to the side, and containers of food labeled and dated. He wondered if this was some sick form of retribution from one of his rivals--trying to turn his world upside down. But the sight of a gorgeous layered sponge cake decorated with peaches distracted him. When he took it out for a better look, it jiggled temptingly.
"Sponge jiggle cake?" He eyed it suspiciously. This was all just too neat. Neat! If people saw this place they'd never think he was a single private eye. They'd think he was... a ballerina or a secretary or something. Detectives were tough guys, and part of being tough meant being really nasty and greasy. He headed for the bedroom after putting the cake away. These things always came to a head in the bedroom.
There was someone sleeping in his bed. The light was off, but he could hear the even breaths of someone asleep. A new horrifying thought came to him--when was the last time he'd paid his rent? Maybe this wasn't his apartment after all. Still, all his things were here... He crept towards the figure on the bed.
The breathing remained even and slow, but suddenly the bedside lamp turned on. As the flash blinded him he felt something press against his temple. It was familiar, cold and hard and metallic - the muzzle of a handgun.
I need quieter shoes, he reflected. The man holding the gun to his head wasn't a very imposing figure, nearly as small as Taikoubou himself, with dark purple eyes and light blue hair. Taikoubou cleared his throat, bringing his hands up to the side of his head submissively. "So... apartment hunting's gotten this rough, huh?"
"I apologize for all the trouble, Mr. Taikoubou. I hope you don't mind that I made myself a little at home while waiting for you. Think of it as an advance favor, in exchange for your services." The intruder had a warm smile, quite the contrast to the cold metal. "I'm here for a discussion of business matters."
"Uh, great, my office opens tomorrow, around eleven or so. I'll be happy to talk to you then. So how about putting the piece away, huh?" Taikoubou sweated nervously.
"Sorry, but I need to speak to you now, and I can't put the firearm down until you've agreed to perform the work I'm about to request of you." The intruder tilted his head and smiled deeper. "My name is Fugen. It's nice to meet you. I've heard a lot about you."
"Guess you didn't hear the rumor about me not liking guns to my head..." Taikoubou scowled. "Look, just tell me what this is all about! Who sent you?"
"Mr. Taikoubou, do you remember doing some work for a Taijou Roukun in the past?" Fugen asked the question calmly, but Taikoubou's hair frizzed up at the name.
"NO! Did he send you?! I told that bastard I wanted out, and he said fine! That stuff's too heavy for me, understand? You might as well just shoot me, because I'm not getting involved in..."
"He didn't send me, Mr. Taikoubou. But then you remember Kingou and Konron?" Fugen asked.
"How could I forget! Look, I'm not interested in helping you with whatever little gang business you came in here for. As far as I'm concerned, both of them can just go straight to hell." Taikoubou lowered his hands. "Now look, I'm tired and pissed off and don't want to bother playing stupid guessing games with you. Either tell me what you're here for or shoot me or leave, but quit beating around the bush!"
"I'm not from the gangs either, Mr. Taikoubou. I'm here as an agent for a... private investor, interested in something which recently came into the possession of Kingou, then seemingly vanished. I'd like for you to help us find out what happened to it." Fugen lowered the gun. "I'm not interested in hurting you. But what's happening here is larger than your personal aversion to organized crime. In fact, you may help us prevent a major disaster."
"Major disaster? Like getting your home hijacked by some crazy guy with a gun?" Taikoubou groused, sitting on the bed. "What kind of item is it? I'm not agreeing to look for it, I just want to know!"
"I assume you're familiar with Shuu Industrial?"
Taikoubou nodded. Shuu had been founded in town and the head of Shuu Industrial, Ki Hakuyuukou, was a bit of a local celebrity. The company mostly made heavy machinery like tractors, but they also did some contract work for the government. "What about them?"
"They were recently hired by the government to work on developing a powerful new type of weapon, called the 'paopei.' I won't bore you with the details on what it does--let's just say it would make carrying a firearm such as this," Fugen held it up to the lamp light, "about as useful as carrying a slingshot and some stones."
"And they built the paopei and Kingou stole it. Right?"
Fugen beamed. "Exactly so. You're as quick as I'd heard, Mr. Taikoubou."
"You seriously want me to go after the second most powerful gang in the state..."
"First, now," Fugen corrected.
"... the most powerful gang in the state, which now happens to have a superweapon, and then what? Tell them give it back? No thanks!" Taikoubou gestured wildly. "How about asking me to shoot myself in the head, it'd be quicker!"
"There's no need to be so negative about it." Fugen's voice scolded. "Your reputation says you're the sneakiest private eye in the nation, and they say even Taijou Roukun let you go less because you asked and more because he feared replacement."
"Anybody who says that is an idiot. Taijou Roukun isn't afraid of anything." Taikoubou crossed his arms. "And what do I get out of this, huh?"
"You get the knowledge that you've stopped the Kingou gang from slowly gaining control over the entire underground?" Fugen almost giggled at Taikoubou's sour expression. "I did mention that I was the agent for a private investor, didn't I? He's willing to invest... quite a lot in your skills, and with only a few conditions."
"... what conditions, and how much is quite a lot?" Taikoubou simmered down a little.
"Do you consider five million a lot?" Taikoubou almost fell off the bed, but Fugen continued cheerfully. "The first condition is that you are to tell no one who you're working for or why."
"That won't be too hard, since you won't tell me. What else?" Taikoubou asked.
Fugen smiled sweetly again. "Just that for the duration of the investigation, I'll be your partner."
This is an AU fic... well duh, huh? ^_^; I originally started writing it to be part of XD's "Senninkai Mysteries" series, but now it looks like it's going to be all on its lonesome. I don't know how long I'll be able to continue it, but I'd like to try, and hopefully finish it. I've written a few detective stories before, although this is less parody-ish and hard-boiled than what I used to write. Hopefully it'll still be fun.
C&C is as always worshipped. 3
http://www.bunnyhat.com --come to my HE site, it's full of peaches! Honest! Would I lie?