Disclaimer: I do not own Rosario+Vampire.
Of Wolf and Man
Chapter One: The Conspirators
Today after school at the front gates.
Aono Tsukune, a fifteen-year-old freshman at the Youkai Academy, stared at the crumpled note in his hand.
It was not the first time he did so, for ever since he'd found it stuffed into his pocket earlier that day, the small piece of paper had been repeatedly the object of his utmost attention and wonder. He had no recollection of consciously receiving it from anyone, and he certainly hadn't written it himself, so the only conclusion he was left with was that somebody had slid it there secretly without his notice.
Possibilities about the people, or monsters, who could have done so reeled through his mind, but with the hundreds of other students at the academy who he passed by at close proximity every day, coming up with a definite answer was next to impossible.
It couldn't be, Tsukune thought suddenly, a series of romantic scenarios he'd seen in those cheesy films popping into his head. He thought about the beautiful pink-haired vampire Akashiya Moka, blushing at him and asking if he'd gotten the note, before finally proceeding to confess just how much she lo-
NO! Tsukune shook his head, clearing his mind of the stupid daydreams while berating himself. He valued his close friendship with her and the other girls, but with the busy schedule at school as well as the fact they had only known each other for such a short time, he didn't really see it happening; it just couldn't be.
Determined not to lose his focus again, Tsukune took a look at the note once more. Heh, no way this could be written by a girl anyway, He thought. The message was blunt and the handwriting quite artless; certainly not something he'd associate with a pretty lady.
But whoever the author of the mysterious message and whatever his business, it had better be important, Tsukune decided.
Indeed, he had enough on his plate as it was, with the academy's Student Police wanting to shut down the newspaper club he and his friends attended. The situation was outrageous; the club had done nothing to disturb the peace of the school nor against any of the Police Committee's members. They had simply decided, without a warning of any kind, to wage war against them and bring them down. Needless to say, no one in the newspaper club was pleased with this, and all of them were on the verge of panic while trying to come up with a way to salvage their right to pursue their choice after school activities.
Tsukune let out a soft sigh, pushing the paper back into his pocket. I guess there's no helping it, he thought, I'll find out soon enough. Only one lesson remained until school was out, and after that he would meet up with the mystery man, or woman, he still dreamed absently. After all, Aono Tsukune was not one to stand up on someone when his presence was requested.
Tsukune watched as the stream of students rolled out through the school gates, happily bustling about now that the classes for the day were done with. The day had begun to wane early, as it always seemed to do within this strange barrier that hid the monster world, and the deep yellow glow of the coming evening lengthened the shadows of the crooked nearby trees.
As soon as the bell had rang, he had shot out of his seat and made for the note's designed meeting location. It had hurt him to see the dejected looks on the girls' faces as he excused himself from the day's club activities, especially under the current circumstances, but he figured there wasn't much he could do about it at the moment. Perhaps, if the person wanting to see him had a very urgent reason and it turned out he could help, it would be easier to explain it to his friends afterwards. That's it, Tsukune thought happily, and with his mood now a bit brighter, he concentrated again on keeping watch over the departing students.
The last of the pupils was long since gone, and Tsukune was still waiting.
So much for that urgency, he thought bitterly as he stomped his foot on the ground. And to think I made it such a point to be here on time. Unbelievable! By now the boy was seething to himself, and he was quickly gathering the resolve to turn around and leave.
But just as he was about to act upon his angry decision, a figure emerged from the shadows of the tree line and planted a firm hand on his shoulder.
Tsukune whirled around, not quite managing to suppress a yelp as he was surprised and frightened beyond measure at the sudden intrusion.
His initial shock turned into a mixture of relief and extreme confusion as he found the familiar flashy grin of one Ginei Morioka staring back at him.
"Gin!" Tsukune exclaimed, his surprise now finding a voice.
"Who else were you expecting? Don't tell me you were dumb enough to think it was a love letter, you idiot." The sophomore replied irritably.
Tsukune flushed bright red, the beginnings of a stammering retort issuing from his throat.
"Keep it down, now will you? I didn't call you here in secret just to have you blow our cover", Gin hurried to cut him off.
"Why the heck didn't you mention this was supposed to be such a concealed appointment!? You could've arranged us to meet up somewhere else instead of just giving me such an ambiguous time and place!" The younger of the two hissed, venting his anger while complying to his companion's demand.
Gin gave a sheepish grin and scratched the back of his head at this, obviously seeing the failure on his part.
"Heh, sorry mate. I was kind of in a hurry and couldn't find the time or privacy to talk to you, so I scribbled that note in a second and just hid it in your pocket."
Tsukune rolled his eyes and threw his hands in the air, but pressed the issue no further. He'd already waited long enough and didn't want to stretch things any further.
"So what is it you asked me here for?" He inquired in a tone now devoid of his previous vehemence.
Gin took a few quick and wary glances around him before answering.
"It looks like we're alone here now, but I don't want to take any chances. Let's go, I know a place where we can talk in complete security."
Tsukune sighed. This is going to take long.
"Lead the way, then."
Gin led them deep into the shadowy woods. By now the night had fully descended, and Tsukune had to fight to keep up with the werewolf in man's clothes in the scarce moonlight that the cloudy night sky let through. All around them the sounds of the night filled the air, with the cries of a lone owl sounding in the treetops while the cracking of fallen twigs under their feet accompanied them as they went.
In all honesty, Tsukune had started to feel the first shivers of fear run up and down his spine. They had been on the move for a good while now, and still the man walking before him showed no signs that they were reaching their destination. Werewolf, Tsukune reminded himself with a gulp, casting a wary look at his steadily onward pushing companion's back. Another look at the sky dissuaded his fears somewhat, for the moon was mostly obscured by clouds, meaning Gin's monstrous abilities were not at their best. But he still has the physical advantage over me in case he decides to do something, the boy thought, his overcautious mind not letting him to give up on his worries.
But before the young man could slip into an outright panic, their long journey came to a sudden stop.
So sudden in fact, that Tsukune, whose eyes were firmly fixed on Gin's back, didn't even notice the man had stopped before it was too late. Thus he soon found himself sitting on the moist forest bed, bewildered after bumping into the older man.
"Gin?" Tsukune whispered uncertainly as the youth in question said or did nothing to show he noticed his presence, staring at something in the distance instead.
"We're here." Gin murmured softly without turning to look at him.
Tsukune rose to his feet and dusted himself a bit, grimacing at the newfound dampness in his bottom. Then he directed his gaze to where his companion was looking, and was met with the sight of a small run-down cottage. It looked like it was long abandoned and unkempt, with thick moss covering the roof and scruffy vines reaching all the way to the ground. Well at least the windows are intact, Tsukune thought with some sarcastic relief.
"Umm...so what exactly is this place?" Tsukune finally asked in confusion while rubbing his neck.
"A little something I came across on my hunts", Gin answered and turned to look at him at last, a mischievous grin splitting his face.
Momentarily the horrific images of Gin purposely dragging him here in the middle of nowhere to eat him came back to Tsukune, but she shoved them away and forced himself to speak.
"Well, I am a werewolf after all. When my powers reach their highest potential at the times of full moon, I've got to spend that energy on something." Gin shrugged nonchalantly, stepping forward.
"I see..." Tsukune replied nervously. He really is a beast, he thought. Of course he knew by now that everyone at the academy besides him were monsters, but with their constant human forms and all, it was sometimes so easy to forget.
"C'mon, let's get in." Gin called at him when Tsukune remained still.
Popping out of his momentary daze again, Tsukune hurried after the other boy.
The interior of the small cottage was not much of an improvement over its outer appearance. Beyond the tiny hallway was a single large room, in the middle of which lay a wooden table rounded by four chairs. A sink and a few cupboards occupied one wall, while the three others had windows on them, two of which were medium in size while the remaining one only a square approximately as large as a soccer ball. Dead leaves and other rubbish lay in heaps at each corner while all surfaces were covered in a thick layer of dust.
I can sort of see why Gin wanted to have our conversation here, Tsukune mused while admiring a spectacular spider web near the ceiling. No way in hell anybody else would want to come near this place.
"So what was it you wanted to talk about?" Tsukune asked while tearing his gaze from the surrounding disaster, slightly frustrated and eager to finally hear the reason why Gin had arranged him in such a plight.
Gin seemed to hesitate the briefest of moments before answering bluntly, his tone level yet with a tinge of excitement:
"I want you to help me fight the Student Police."
Tsukune's jaw dropped.
"WH-WHAAAT!!?" The boy exclaimed reflexively, unable to comprehend the other's words.
Gin gave a painful grimace and flinched, finding his junior's reaction highly uncomfortable. He had expected it, however; it was part of the reason he brought him here, where he could yell all he wanted without anyone else hearing, in the first place.
But Tsukune seemed to take no heed of his companion's discomfort, for his eyes turned watery and his entire expression gained a dreamy look. The boy could think of nothing more to say, so astonished and caught off guard he was by Gin's announcement. He, Gin, Kurumu, Moka, Yukari, everyone in the newspaper club was agitated over the Police Committee's resolve to cease their activities. But out of all of them, Gin had actually been the only one to oppose the idea of taking active measures against Kuyo and his group, reasoning it would be worthless to try fight such a powerful a faction as they were.
But opinions could change, it appeared, and Tsukune couldn't have been happier by Gin's drastic change of heart.
"G-Gin..." He finally managed, "why would you..?"
"Yes, I know, I know! I thought opposing the Student Police was a bad idea, and I still think it is, but seeing how the rest of you got all sad and wimpy about it, I figured I'd at least make you know first hand how pointless it is to fight them." Gin answered the other boy's admiring look with a rushed explanation before admitting with a huff: "And I kind of like to hang out with you guys a bit, too."
"That's great to hear, Gin-senpai!" He nodded vigorously, "But...why did you tell this to me alone, and in secret no less?" He wondered aloud, "I mean, wouldn't it have been better to say this when all of us were present, so we could plan this together?" He finished, confusion evident in his voice.
Gin's face turned a shade or two more serious. He let the mood sink in for a while before carefully answering:
"The thing is, I don't want to mix the girls up in this, Tsukune. There's been a lot of crap pouring down on them already, and knowing how dangerous it is what we're about to do, I think it's best if as few of us are involved as possible."
The boy thought this for a while. He did see where Gin was coming from; after all, Moka had been nearly molested by a classmate in the first days of school, Kurumu had been stalked by that creepy snail photographer, and Yukari had been bullied all of her young life because of her mixed heritage and intelligence, culminating to the recent attempt of the lizard men to eat her. Not to mention that all of them had been scathed on various occasions when pulling him out of all kinds of trouble. In this sense, Tsukune agreed wholeheartedly that they all deserved at least a brief moment of respite. However...
"It's true what you're saying, Gin, but...we could really use their strength in this. I mean, if it's just you and me, and...you know, I'm not all that powerful or anything..." Tsukune trailed off, his voice lowering towards the end in embarrassment.
Gin's features tensed visibly, and when he replied, his voice was bordering on a wolfish bark.
"Stupid! Gosh, can't you be a man for a change, damn it!? Just look how much they've done for you already, do you really want to pull them into another mess as well!?" He roared, clearly attempting to provoke and challenge the younger man before him.
Tsukune blanched. Then the color on his face changed yet again, an angry blush creeping up his neck to his cheeks.
"No, you hairy cockroach, I have no desire to cause any harm for my friends. I just think its pretty damn reckless to take on the Student Police with the two of us alone, that's all."
Gin calmed down remarkably, deciding to let the other boy's insult slip by as well. Damn twit. His provocation had produced the wanted results, anyway.
"Don't worry, I've got some together history with that Kuyo guy, and I think you and I can come up with something to throw them down. So what do you say, are you with me?"
After his initial burst of anger, Tsukune's flame had cooled down somewhat, causing him to doubt their actions again. But there was no going back now, and with a corrected posture, Tsukune gave a fierce nod.
"You bet I am."
A conspirational smirk took over the older man's features, and together the two of them began to device a plan to fight their oppressors and keep their band of friends together.