Disclaimer: Eyeshield 21 is © Inagaki Riichirou and Murata Yuusuke, Shueisha, Viz, etc.. This is a non-profit fanwork. In accord with the time period this takes place in, Hiruma's favorite bit of profanity will be rendered "unprintable."
Deimon Expedition's Jungle Adventures Chapter One: Scholars
Chapter One: Scholars and Gentlemen
She marked her place with the silk ribbon, then looked up from her book. "Yes, what is it?"
"There're two . . . gentlemen here to see your brothers about the expedition, only I can't find them."
Mamori sighed. "Are they waiting in the parlor?"
"I'll go see them. Suzuna, see if you can't find my brothers buried in the back of the library. If not, you'd best send Ishimaru out to see if they're spending the afternoon at the Explorer's Club."
The maidservant gave a little curtsy, her head bobbing up and down politely. "Yes'm."
Mamori made her way over to the parlor. Of course her brothers' guests had decided to call right before teatime. She had been looking forward to eating that box of creampuffs all on her own and now she would have to divide it up and serve them to these two unwanted strangers. What a waste.
The whole thing was really quite ridiculous, she thought. Africa! To study gorillas! Of all the things! Her mild-mannered brothers wanted to squander their fortunes on an expedition to the deepest, darkest jungles of that godforsaken continent. It was a perfectly ludicrous idea as she had taken the liberty of informing them on several occasions, and they would do well to dispose of such preposterous notions and return to living a lifestyle that befit scholarly gentlemen. Her oldest brother especially. He had just graduated from college with honors and was all set to take over the family business, in title if not in truth, as it had been running quite well all on its own following the untimely deaths of their parents.
Africa! The two of them couldn't visit the bank without being bullied by the people waiting in line for the tellers. They would only get themselves killed in the jungle. By pygmies! Or boa constrictors! Or malaria! Well, while she had this opportunity she would make sure to tell whoever had come to call that her brothers would most certainly NOT be venturing outside the front door without her say-so, much less all the way across the ocean.
When she stepped inside the parlor, despite what Suzuna had said, no matter how hard she looked, she only saw one man, round and middle-aged with a bushy mustache and prominent eyebrows. And a raft. And what looked like several tons of jungle equipment and was that an open crate of rifles on her parlor floor?!
"Ah," she said delicately, taking a deep breath, "Mr. . . . ?"
"Doburoku! Pleasure to meet you! You must be Miss Mamori!" he said, jolly as St. Nick, grabbing her hand in his and shaking it up and down. Right before he attempted to kiss it she snatched it away.
"And you are here to see my brothers-?"
"About their African expedition, yes!" he said. "I brought the equipment they ordered and booked the ship. We're all set to sail on the 14th."
"The . . . the 14th," she said unsteadily. "You mean the day after tomorrow?"
"Yes, that's right. Everything's all paid for and set to go."
"E . . . Everything?" she said, feeling faint. When had she lost control of her situation? They'd both been sneaking around behind her back!
Before she could inquire any further as to exactly what everything consisted of, Suzuna entered and curtsied. "Ma'am, the young masters have arrived."
"Sorry, Sister," Sena said, gasping, "we were at a meeting at the Explorer's Club and lost track of time!"
Manabu started to add his own apologies, then his eyes alighted upon the figure of Mr. Doburoku. "Oh, Mr. Doburoku," he said enthusiastically, "so you have brought him? The man you we were speaking of to lead our expedition?!"
"Yes, yes," he said effusively, "the best man for the job, of course! The best man! In fact, the only man! Here, he's just now come back," – and Mamori noticed someone coming in through the door – "I've brought him along to meet you, give you a look see, so to speak." He stepped aside with a flourish. "May I present Mr. Youichi Hiruma?"
The grinning, uncouth figure standing there, holding a rifle of all things slung behind his back, looked more like a devil than a man. He examined the rifle for a moment then fired it into the ceiling. Mamori shrieked. Sena and Manabu both blanched. Plaster rained down. He peered up at the hole, narrowed his eyes against the dust, and said, "Huh, not bad, not bloody bad."
"What do you think you're doing?!" she said, aghast.
"Rifles," he said, exchanging the first one for another one from the open crate and sighting along the barrel, "are a man's best friend. In the jungle, a working rifle and enough bloody bullets can be the only thing keeping you from entering the Gates of Hell." He turned to look at Mr. Doburoku who was looking just a bit more nervous than he had a moment ago. "The quality on this isn't bloody bad, old man."
"Well, well of course!" he responded, attempting to be jolly. "As if I could get by with anything less than the best with you running things!"
"I didn't say it was the best," he corrected, tossing the rifle to him. "I said it wasn't bloody bad. I want another bloody shipment. Newest bloody model, highest quality gunpowder."
"Right, right, just as you say." Mr. Doburoku turned to Manabu and Sena. "Of course you will incur the costs, gentlemen? They may be considerable as the rest of the provisions must be acquired quickly. As I was telling your lovely sister, you are set to sail the day after tomorrow. And I assure you, you are in very good hands with Mr. Hiruma. After all, he did lead the Southbrook Expedition to victory three years ago in the Expeditionary Race."
"Damned straight I did."
Mamori steeled her nerve to protest that they couldn't possibly-
Then Mr. Hiruma turned to look at her. "Yo," he said, leisurely eyeing her up and down, his grin – more like leer, was that any way to behave around a lady?! - growing more appreciative as he did so.
Mamori flushed. This man was no gentleman! But before she could open her mouth to say so, her oldest brother was shaking his hand and saying how pleasant it was to meet him and what a wonderful expedition it would be with him on board. All as though not five minutes before the man had not been blowing holes through their ceiling!
"That's right," Mr. Hiruma said, glancing over at her, still smirking, "I'm the bloody best. You find yourself needing anything - I'll take care of it for you."
Well, she thought furiously, she'd just see about that, wouldn't she! There was no way, NO WAY she was going to leave her older brother – completely lacking in common sense as he was – let alone her impressionable younger brother Sena in the care of that . . . that villain! "I find that I must accompany you," she said abruptly.
Her brothers' mouths dropped open.
If possible, Hiruma – forget the Mister, he didn't DESERVE it – smiled even wider. "Well, miss," he said touching his fingers to his hat as she glared, his voice so smooth it was obscene, "pleasure to have you."
She was suddenly full of violent impulses she had never before experienced, like wanting to stuff his hat into his mouth and watch him choke on it. And her heart had mostly certainly not just skipped a beat.