Boogiepop: Unwilling Friendship
The being known as Boogiepop walked through the crowds of night-time partiers casually, 'his' gaze not landing on any one thing yet somehow taking in the whole scene. The strange, billowy cloak and top-hat like garment he wore drew curious glances, but most people just assumed he or she was a cosplayer or something.
The body was propped up against the wall, just off the busy street. He had been leaned up in such a way it looked like he was merely sleeping, it would be some hours before a police officer or ambulance might be called out. Boogiepop studied him a moment, looking down thoughtfully, then as if he had picked up a scent, he turned and walked away.
With a swirl of his cloak Boogiepop was off, racing down the alley with almost inhuman speed. Those that saw the white faced enigma said it looked like he was a man possessed, eyes almost glowing with unearthly intensity. He ran across a open courtyard then down a side street, following a trail only he could see.
A flash of light up ahead made Boogiepop hurry, concerned that he was too late. He raced around a corner then skidded to a stop, blinking in mild surprise.
'I know this woman,' Boogiepop thought as the figure in a black jumpsuit tasered his quarry. Nagi Kirima had involved herself in his cases before, the brown haired young woman nearly destroying the fear monster and drawing out Manticore.
"It's about time you got here," Nagi snapped as her companion fired a bulky sort of gun at their mutual foe.
'Kazuko Suema,' Boogiepop thought as the projectile the gun launched expanded into a kind of lightweight net. The not entirely human foe tried to tear free but instead he bucked and struggled madly. Boogiepop advanced, surprised to see the two women working together.
"How...?" Boogiepop looked at Nagi curiously.
Nagi had put away her taser, a satisfied look on her face. "It's a new police capture net I got a sample of, intended for drug crazed suspects." She looked over at Boogiepop, "Would it be any use turning him over to the authorities?"
Boogiepop shook his head, "The way he killed was untraceable, draining vital chemicals from the brain. And I feel no prison could hold him, long." A pause and he added, "Or he would turn a prison into his perfect hunting ground."
"Eww," Kazuko winced.
A sharp gesture, and Boogiepop had his coiled up cable in his hand. "May I?" he asked as he looked over at Nagi.
"Go ahead," Nagi nodded.
A flick of the wrist and the cable speared the inhumanly handsome man through the head, ceasing his violent struggles. In moments whatever had been done to him began to react to his death, his flesh breaking down strangely. If wasn't long before there was only a puddle of yellowish goo left, evaporating rapidly.
As Boogiepop walked away Kazuko reached out to grab his arm, "You don't have to go yet.' She smiled weakly as he looked at her, "We could talk...?"
Boogiepop gently pulled free, not incidentally revealing the blouse of a girl's school uniform. "I do not," he lied, "talk." With that he was gone, disappearing into the shadows with a simple grace.
"I don't know if I'll ever get used to him disappearing on me like that," Nagi noted, shaking her head wryly as she walked over to the sports bag of equipment they had hauled along.
"Is that a he or a she?" Kazuko had to ask.
"I dunno," Nagi admitted, "but Boogiepop uses male references, not female. So..."
"Hmm," Kazuko nodded. She hesitated, but decided to ask, "What is Boogiepop? Is... he really a shinigami, like the stories say?"
"I dunno," Nagi admitted, "at first I thought he was just a split personality, but he can do things that nobody else I've seen can."
"I see," Kazuko agreed. She looked at the goo covered capture net and made a face, "Do you want to try to collect that? Is it safe to leave behind?"
"We'd better," Nagi said as she stowed the taser and gun, then pulled on heavy rubber gloves. "I don't know what that goop might do to people and I don't want to find out."
Kazuko got on gloves and help roll up the net, putting it in a sealed container along with whatever goop they could gather. The rest of the substance seemed to simply evaporate into thin air, causing Nagi to stare at the ground with a fierce frown.
"What's wrong?" Kazuko asked as the two girls stripped off the jumpsuits, revealing more standard looking shorts and t-shirts. It was light clothing for night, but it would blend a lot better than the combat wear.
"I just wish we could get some of that stuff intact," Nagi admitted, "I'd love to send it to a lab to be analized." She made a face, "I've fought these things several times now, but I'm no closer to understanding what is going on."
"We're no closer," Kazuko corrected.
Nagi smiled slightly, "We."
Kazuko felt a glow of pride, knowing that she and Nagi had worked this case from the start together. Studying hospital reports and ambulance calls they had determined the unusdual number of killings in the area, then in patrols had narrowed down the area they thought the creature was operating. They followed a suspect, spotted him about to feed, then struck.
They walked together, slightly apart from the crowd as Nagi noted, "You did really good tonight. I would have liked to taser him a bit longer to make sure the fight was out of him, but since you didn't know if Boogiepop was there to help us or him, you're firing the gun was a good call."
"Thanks," Kazuko smiled shyly. Nagi wasn't one to give unalloyed compliments, but in her experience she knew that this was high praise.
Nagi smiled wryly as they left the commercial district, walking onward to Nagi's home and headquarters. "You know, since you got expelled for a week for fighting beside me, it seems we have a day off tomorrow," she mused. She smiled slightly as she asked, "Wanna go out after we catch up on the class work?"
"I'd like that," Kazuko agreed as they went inside.
The next day did not star out as well, mostly because of the forced study session. Kazuko had previously been in awe of how well Nagi was able to do in school despite sleeping in class, but since getting to know her, she had found out the truth. It wasn't that she was a genius, though she was very smart, it was that she studied as intensely as she did almost everything. From early in the morning till noon they worked, Nagi plowing through a week's worth of class in her efficient way and guiding Kazuko after her.
"I think my brain is going to explode," Kazuko whined and clutched her head as the cram session finally came to a end. She, like Nagi, were dressed in more casual dress, her wearing a skirt while Nagi preferred trousers.
"Sorry," Nagi got up from the text books and got them each some tea. "How are things with your family?" she asked curiously as she served them both.
"I think they're looking at this all as a rebellious phase," Kazuko admitted, then smiled as she added, "My mom likes you, though."
"Huh?" Nagi blinked.
"You saved her from a mugging," Kazuko told her, then they talked about what they wanted to do the rest of the day.
Kazuko was surprised to hear how rarely Nagi went out to play, though in thinking about it a little it made sense. Nagi was very isolated from the rest of the teenaged girls in their class, and didn't go out with them to shop or have fun. Similarly her quest as a self appointed guardian of justice was a pretty solitary one.
"When was the last time you went to the arcade?" Kazuko had to ask.
Nagi protested, "We went there to shake down a witness last week!" Kazuko gave her a look and Nagi chuckled, "Not what you meant?"
"No," Kazuko gave her a mock stern look, "and you know it."
"Well," Nagi said as she got up, "why don't you show me what I'm missing?"
Wisely they decided to start with a arcade a bit farther out from where Nagi lived, reasoning her dangerous reputation might not have spread that far. Except for a few nervous glances they were fine, and they soon learned Nagi was pretty good at the games. She blitzed the games requiring good hand eye coordination, and the memory games were next to fall.
"That was fun," Nagi admitted as they left, "but the fighting games were too unrealistic."
Kazuko snorted in amusement, knowing from both experience and the school rumor mill that Nagi had been in quite a few fights herself. As they walked out onto the street she noticed a few of the men they had beaten at games hurry off, but she didn't worry too much about it. Nagi, of course, took mental note of them, but didn't say anything.
They hit a buffet style restaurant for lunch, both eating with energy from all the walking they did earlier. Nagi sampled a few items off her plate and Kazuko stole a bit from hers, making them even. They split the bill, mostly at Kazuko's urging, then headed back out into the sunshine.
The shopping bit of their trip was more trying, in that Nagi didn't know how to shop. Or more accurately she was used to going out to shady dealers and buying weapons and armor, not fun clothes. She kept the same mildly pained look on her face as Kazuko dragged her from store to store, buying one bag of stuff while Kazuko got several.
"I see I'll need to train you to shop," Kazuko noted with some amusement.
"Not interested," Nagi said, adding wryly, "I think this is why I prefer mail order."
"You'd better be joking," Kazuko sighed.
They went back to the house to drop off the stuff, then back out to walk through the shops of the city. Nagi had a eye for the odd or the unusual, and she would make a game of studying someone, then listing off a series of facts about them to Kazuko. She would talk to a few of them, out of curiosity, and usually discovered Nagi was right.
"How did you do that?" Kazuko asked as she correctly identified a baker.
"Just observation," Nagi waved it off, "and it's not always right. It's as much a art as science putting together the cues we each carry, and I sometimes get it wrong."
They cut down a side street, the people thinning to almost nothing when the men appeared. The six boys came from front and behind, spreading out to surround the two women threateningly. "You're the Fire Witch, aren't you?" the apparent leader demanded, carrying a long stick.
"No, I'm the goddam Batman," Nagi shot back flippantly.
Several of the guys laughed, enraging the leader. "Don't you mock me!" he yelled, waving the stick, "You busted my brother!"
"Yeah, so?" Nagi asked, palming something from her pocket.
"Aaargh!" the boy yelled, charging angrily as his buddies tried to follow.
Like a gunfighter in a western Nagi brought up the light weight taser, zapping the boy before he could even get near her. As the other boys stumbled forward she discarded the one-shot device and yanked his stick out of his hand, using it to clobber another.
Almost as soon as the boys charged Kazuko jumped another, clawing at his face then clobbering her with her purse. As he dropped she went after another, kicking him right between the legs. He made a most satisfying moaning sound as he collapsed, like air leaking out a tire.
The last two boys looked at their fallen comrades and the two women and took the better part of valor. Grabbing at the two conscious but stunned guys they bolted, leaving the others to their fate.
Casually kicking a moaning boy in the head and knocking him out again, Kazuko gave Nagi a look, "I'm the goddam Batman?"
"Heat of the moment," Nagi shrugged, patting down the leader and finding a cache of illegal drugs. Using her 'unregistered' phone Nagi called the cops, then the two hurried off.
"Well, I guess I can be Robin," Kazuko admitted as they walked away, "but I'm not wearing a silly costume."
"Not even the short shorts?" Nagi teased.
Kazuko snickered, "Hell no."
"Aw, they'd look good on you," Nagi laughed.
"Nagi...," Kazuko rolled her eyes, laughing herself.
To be continued....
Notes: Blame the 'Batman' bit on fellow Boogiepop author Althea. We got to talking about Nagi being Batman that I just couldn't resist tossing it in.