by Kloudy Reignfall
I told myself I wasn't going to post it until I'd written at least most of the second chapter, at least! But I felt that undeniable urge to post something, y'know? ...So, I did. And here you are, the first chapter of what could turn out to be a rather long story.
NOTES: CPS is the Child Protective Services. I know absolutely nothing about CPS. I made up everything I wrote here. It could or could not be true. I haven't the slightest clue.
Also, this is based on a true story! Y'know, very lightly. We were learning in Psychology about the story of Genie, a girl who'd been neglected for 13 years, and this little idea sort of wouldn't leave me alone...
WARNINGS: This will slowly build up to a shounen-ai relationship between Kagetsuya and Chihaya, in case you hadn't guessed.
DISCLAIMERS: Yeah, I don't own Earthian. Go figure. All the characters from Earthian, therefore, aren't mine.
Sure, so it wasn't the most interesting job in the world, but it was better than paperwork. As necessary as Kagetsuya knew it was, he had to admit that paperwork might just be the most boring job in the world. So, when compared to that, CPS investigation wasn't so bad.
He yawned as he slowed to a stop in front of the target house. Observing, he noticed it didn't look too shabby. The grass was a little yellow, but that was to be expected from such a lower-middle class home in the middle of the summer. Other than that, it looked relatively respectable, much like the other houses in the area.
Kagetsuya reached over to the passenger seat and flipped through a notebook containing the information for the investigation. It wasn't very detailed; but then, why would it be? That was sort of the point of his investigating - to find out facts. As it was, all they had was an anonymous tip, suggesting that there might be one or several children suffering from abuse and/or neglect here. It was basic, and excruciatingly vague.
Closing the notebook and grabbing up his search warrant papers, Kagetsuya heaved himself out of the van and walked up the dusty sidewalk to the front porch. He cleared his throat and knocked on the door. Several moments later, it was opened hesitantly by a young girl.
"Hello, are your parents home?" Kagetsuya asked. The little girl shook her head, her eyes wide. "Well then, can I come in and have a look around real quick?" He flashed a smile, hoping to seem friendly. The girl looked nervous but let him in anyway. He noted this, and the fact that she was home without parents.
He took a casual look around the house. It looked normal, like the home of an average family with several children.
Kagetsuya turned back to the girl, who was following him apprehensively. "What's your name?" he asked her.
"Tomoyo," she told him.
"Do you have any siblings?" Kagetsuya asked.
She nodded. "Three," she said, opening up a bit. "Yoko, Natsuki, and Toshiki."
"Who is the oldest?" asked Kagetsuya.
"Well, Toshiki is the youngest. Natsuki and me are twins. So Yoko's the oldest." She looked hesitant, as if she wanted to say something else. And then she said, sort of hurriedly, "Well, 'cept for Chihaya…"
This peaked Kagetsuya's interest. "Chihaya?" he asked. But the little girl had slipped off quickly. He let her go and continued to poke around. Toward the back of the house he came upon a locked door. It seemed to be the door of a garage or basement. Figuring this to be somewhat suspicious, he unlocked the door and peered into the dark room.
There were no lights or windows, and there didn't seem to be any ventilation either. He flipped a switch beside the outside of the door, which luckily lit the room with a very low glow. The room was still very dark, but just light enough for him to see that it was indeed a large basement-like room. Carefully, Kagetsuya descended the stairs, keeping a hand on the side of the wall in case he missed his footing on the dimly lit steps.
"Hello?" he called out as he reached the bottom. Nobody answered, so he called again. And then he heard an indistinguishable noise from a corner of the room. The whole room was a shadow, so it was difficult to see anything, but he felt his way over to the corner. As he got closer, Kagetsuya could see the vague outline of what looked to be a young child huddled there. He tried to reach out to it, but it scooted away from him hurriedly.
Kagetsuya heard the click of the door and turned around quickly. In the doorway of the basement room, he could see a man standing. "Who are you!" the man yelled angrily.
Swiftly, Kagetsuya walked back towards the man, explaining as he went, "I'm from the Child Protective Services. We've had a complaint about-" But before he could finish his sentence, the man was coming at him, wielding some sort of bar.
Kagetsuya tried to quickly talk some sense into the guy, who he assumed to be the children's father, but the man wasn't having any of it. He advanced on him with the bar, yelling, "Get out of my house! This is my house, get out! It's none of your business or the damned CPS! Get out!"
It didn't seem that the man would listen to reason, so there was no other choice for Kagetsuya but to kick the guy's ass. He knocked the bar out of his hands and kicked him to the floor. The violent man would not stop struggling so, against his better judgment, Kagetsuya knocked him unconscious. It was self defense, he reasoned with himself.
No longer having to deal with the man, but not knowing for how long, Kagetsuya hurried back to the corner where the child was huddled. He kneeled down, trying hopefully to stop the kid from being so scared of him.
"Hello?" he called softly. "Are you ok?" The child was quiet, cowering in the corner, several feet from Kagetsuya. "What's your name?" he asked, to no response.
Feeling a slight sense of urgency, but knowing better than to further approach the frightened child, Kagetsuya retreated to the well-lit hallway. He looked around carefully, hoping to find no other aggressive adults, and began to search for the young girl he'd talked to before. He found Tomoyo in a bedroom on the other side of the house.
"Tomoyo?" he said, standing in her doorway. "Tomoyo, are you ok?" The little girl was sitting with her legs drawn up on the bed, her arms around herself, shaking slightly.
She looked at him sadly. "Daddy's home," she said. "He's gonna yell again. Daddy's gonna be mad that you saw Chihaya…" She quivered as she talked to the stranger, looking as if she hoped he'd somehow help. Which was exactly what he planned to do.
"Will you help me, Tomoyo?" he asked the young girl. "If you help me, I can make things better."
Her eyes lit up. "Are you going to help us?" she asked. "Are you going to save us?"
He felt a bit bad that he wasn't there to help the other children; It was obvious that the one in the basement, Chihaya, was his more urgent assignment. But he promised himself that he'd come back for the others as soon as he could. "Yes," he told her firmly. "But first I have to get Chihaya."
She nodded, understanding, and got up off her bed, walking to the door of the basement. She peered in and recoiled, seeing her father laying there on the cold basement floor. "Daddy…"
"He'll be ok." Kagetsuya told her. "That's just so he doesn't bother us, so I can help you guys."
Tomoyo was obviously more concerned with the well-being of she and her siblings than that of her father, for she continued into the basement, ignoring her dad's body. She walked slowly into the corner, crouching down low.
"Chihaya," she called softly. "It's ok, Chihaya. It's me, Tomoyo."
The hiding child slowly inched forward, coming into the scant light, and took Tomoyo's hand. Finally, Kagetsuya could see it well enough to gather some information.
First of all, he noticed the state that the poor thing was in. The clothes it wore looked very old and ragged, and its hair was long and unkempt. Physically, it wasn't in very good condition either; it was thin, but not quite emaciated, and it looked weak. He couldn't even tell for sure what gender the thing was, but he guessed that it was a boy. However, the most obvious thing about it was that this child was certainly the victim of severe neglect.
Kagetsuya turned to Tomoyo. "We need to get him out of here," he told her. For a moment she looked hesitant, remembering her father, but then her face regained a determined look.
"Ok," she said to him. Kagetsuya began to walk quickly out of the room, signaling for Tomoyo and Chihaya to follow, but that was not a particularly easy task. "He can't walk very fast," Tomoyo told the man.
Kagetsuya thought for a moment and then walked back to them, taking a chance and scooping Chihaya up into his arms. The frail boy tensed and began to shake violently, probably at being handled by a stranger, but his little sister took his hand and rubbed it reassuringly, calming him down just slightly. She held on tight, following Kagetsuya up the stairs and back into the sunlit world.
Kagetsuya wasn't completely sure what to do at this point. Most other times he'd been to investigate abuse situations he simply reported what he'd observed to the others, who would then take care of what needed to be done with the child or children. But in this case, it was clear that he needed to take action. It was unsafe for any children to be near such a violent parent. He knew that it was possible he'd get in trouble for taking a child away without proper consent; after all, he was sent to investigate, not take action. But it was also possible he'd get in trouble if he left the child here in such a dangerous situation. Either way, he was sure he could justify his actions once someone else was sent to take a look at the situation. His actions were logical and reasonable.
So Kagetsuya decided to carry the boy out to his car and take him back with him to the station, where he would deal with the aftermath.
Tomoyo followed after Kagetsuya, still holding her brother's hand, glancing about nervously as if afraid her angry father would spring out at her from behind the couch or something.
When they got outside and put Chihaya into the back seat of the car, Tomoyo let go of his hand, understanding clearly that she wasn't to go with them. But she looked pleadingly at Kagetsuya anyway.
He noticed the puppy-dog look and promised her that as soon as he got back to the station that he would send someone to deal with the rest of the children and the parents. "Just stay away from your father until someone arrives, ok?" The girl nodded obediently. Kagetsuya smiled reassuringly at her. "Thank you for your help," he told her. "But I have to go now, ok?" She nodded again and watched as he climbed into the driver's seat of the car and started it up. He closed the door and began to drive off, leaving Tomoyo on the sidewalk to cry.
When he got a few blocks away, Kagetsuya pulled over to the side of the street and stopped. He looked back at the abused boy curled up in his backseat. The boy was a total mess, both physically and mentally. He was shaking violently again, now that he was separated from his sister. He didn't look around or move; his eyes stared straight forward, as if unseeing, and his breathing was raspy and uneven. Obviously the boy was scared out of his mind (although he ought to have been relieved to be away from his abusive father), and there was nothing Kagetsuya could think to do to help him.
"Chihaya?" he asked tentatively. "Are you alright, Chihaya?"
The boy made no response, hardly acknowledging Kagetsuya's words except to twitch and breathe a bit faster. So the man turned back around in his seat and started driving again, hoping that somebody at the station would have an idea what to do with this creature.
End Chapter One...Not gonna beg for reviews. Nope, not gonna. ...But of course, they're always appreciated! (Besides, it'd benice to know if this interesting enough to warrent a second chapter being posted.)