"High Flying with Monster Girls"
Chapter 4: "The Knight, the Witch, and the Wolf"
Disclaimer: Nightwing and related characters and properties belong to DC Comics and Warner Brothers. Rosario + Vampire and related characters and properties belong to Akihisa Ikeda, VIZ Media, and FUNimation. I make no money from writing or posting this story and I get no other form of material compensation for it, either. All I get in return is the intangible satisfaction that someone is reading this.
Author's note: Happy Halloween, everyone, I'm quite sorry for taking so long, and I'll make it up to you with a new chapter. This time, you can guess from the title who's going to be featuring in this chapter, based on how well you know the manga/anime of Rosario + Vampire. Or can you? Gratuitous evil laugh, on. Let's get this show on the road.
Inside a dark, dank chamber, the Yokai Gazette was opened to its front-page story: "Pervert Routed by Mysterious Vigilante." Looming over the school newspaper was an ominous shadow, barely seen in the flickering flames of the candles that provided the only real light in that chamber. This man, if one could call him that, was poring over the article, written in feverish excitement from the recollections of the many female students that had been saved from Nagare Kano by what one Kurumu Kurono called her "Dark Savior." Having gleaned the important details from reading the article over and over, the man crumpled the newspaper in silent fury.
"A vigilante wandering these halls . . ." he snarled. "I will not allow it. I will not allow some ruffian to do my work!"
"The gall of these wenches," a female voice hissed from the shadows. "They praise a man whom they know nothing about. Alas, we know no more than they do."
"That . . . is a problem, Keito," the mysterious man stated grimly. "The longer this man is allowed to walk free, the more likely it is that he may become a rallying symbol against us. Already the ingrates are whispering about how he's supposedly done more for them in half of one semester than we've done for them all our existence."
"Swine . . ." Keito snarled.
"About the only ones who've actually seen him are Kurumu Kurono and Moka Akashiya," the man recalled. "We should revisit them in the near-future, see if their memory can't be jogged for any pertinent details that could help us."
"What if they don't cooperate?" Keito asked.
"Given the right incentive . . . they will," the man replied, his voice turning low and ominous on those last two words.
On the topside of Yokai Academy, grades were out for the math midterms. Shockingly similar to human high schools, a number of students were deeply dismayed about their grades and not shy about expressing it.
"Dammit! I'm screwed!"
"What the hell is this, I don't even –!?"
"I'm dead meat! They'll cook and eat me alive for this!"
All right, the last part wasn't that similar to human high schools, as Richard Grayson had the feeling that poor soul meant that horrific prediction literally. Given that this was a school for teaching yokai how to fit in with humans and how much he'd seen that yokai cultural norms differed from that of humans, he would not be that surprised if it wasn't gross hyperbole. He idly looked for his name on the roster of student grades, overhearing both distressed cries of doomsday from those whose grades were less than satisfactory and cries of adulation from Moka's fan club, highly impressed with her scoring in the top 20.
Specifically, Moka was the thirteenth top grade in the math midterms, which Dick had to smile at. One smart – and sweet – cookie, that Moka Akashiya, he thought to himself. Then he had to tune out the squeals of his own fan club, chattering excitedly about what a "smart and cool guy" he was. Nothing he wasn't used to, but the girls back home weren't quite so high-pitched. As it was, he was at the bottom of the ten highest grades in the math midterms, precisely number 10. Not bad for not being the polymath genius of the family, if I say so myself.
His musings were interrupted by Moka sidling up to him. "You did really well, Richard," she complimented.
"Not that well," Dick tried to downplay it. "There's still nine people who did better."
"But I didn't study with any of them, did I?" Moka replied with a coy smile.
"No, you certainly didn't, unless you've been holding out on me," Dick jibed with a teasing grin.
"I wouldn't study with anyone but you!" Moka declared, blushing cherry pink. "You're the only one who lets me drink his blood!"
Dick chuckled softly. "Well, I do my best to keep it good and healthy for you. Nutrition is seriously important."
Moka giggled sweetly. She'd never thought she'd ever have this, someone who'd laugh and joke about her drinking his blood as though it were nothing to be scared or ashamed of. She had quite a friend in Richard "Nightwing" Grayson, and she was determined to keep him, no matter what Kurumu or other girls might have to say about that.
Speaking of Kurumu, the busty succubus had just dive-bombed her breasts into Dick's face. "Oh, I'm so happy I found you! I didn't do too well this time around, and I think I'm really going to need your help, you smart, sexy stud, you!"
"Kurumu!" Moka exclaimed in protest. "He can't help you with your classes if you asphyxiate him!"
Realizing this as fact, Kurumu let Dick off her chest just enough for him to be able to breathe. "Yeah, probably not the best idea to suffocate the guy you want as a tutor," Dick commented.
"You think that's all I want you for?" Kurumu teased.
"Oh, and what else do you want me for?" Dick teased back. "I'm up for almost anything, just run it by me first."
Kurumu chuckled flirtatiously. "I'm not a running kind of girl, but if that's your thing, I'll try it out. Maybe you could show me some . . ." Her voice lowered, taking on a slightly sultrier cadence. ". . . Techniques."
Moka watched the banter between her two friends – one also her object of affection, the other also her rival for the first – and tried not to feel too jealous. Then again, if you wanted him so badly, maybe you should be a little bolder yourself, Moka's inner self remarked from within the rosary seal.
Meanwhile, the merry almost-couple and their friend (friend to Dick, friend and rival to Moka) were being watched by a young girl in a witch costume, who gazed enviously at them. Her viewing was interrupted by a tall, lanky teenager flanked by his two cronies, whom she recognized as her class representative and his entourage.
"Nice job, Yukari," the class representative snidely remarked. "Number one in the whole school. Real smart, aren't you?"
"Not smart enough to know she's supposed to be wearing a uniform instead of a costume," one of the representative's cronies jeered.
"Yeah, you think you're so special, aren't you?" the representative sneered at the small girl. "Just because you skipped straight into high school."
Yukari looked down at the ground, her small body quivering with repressed tears . . . at least before a small rock floated from the ground and struck the representative in the back of the head. Then she started guffawing out loud, revealing that it had been laughter she was repressing, not tears. "Got you good!" she shouted triumphantly.
"You little –!" the representative snarled, about to hit her when he realized that he couldn't move his arm, as his cronies gazed in surprise. He looked in the same direction as his cronies, and saw Dick Grayson himself gripping his arm tightly to keep him from using it to strike Yukari.
"I saw everything," he stated coldly.
"Let go!" the representative snarled. "Do you even know who you're dealing with?!"
"I know I'm dealing with someone who should set a better example for the class he represents than bullying someone for making him feel stupid," Dick answered, his calm, almost relaxed tone belying the ice in his eyes. He let go of the representative's arm. "Wanna try that again with someone closer to your size?"
The representative would have lunged to strike Dick with the same arm that had been prevented from striking Yukari . . . if it didn't feel like deadweight dangling from his shoulder. "What . . . what the hell did you do?!" he asked furiously.
"Pressure points," Dick replied. "Choked off the blood flow to your arm. It'll wear off eventually."
"Did you see that!?" an onlooker exclaimed in astonishment.
"That was so badass!" another onlooker shouted.
"So cool!" a third onlooker, female, cried out.
The representative grumbled under his breath, knowing he couldn't do much but leave with the sudden audience. "Not over," he vowed, scowling at them, as his cronies covered his retreat.
"They won't be bothering you now," Moka said to Yukari. "Are you all right?"
That was how Dick, Moka, and Kurumu ended up with a new lunch mate, who was practically star-struck by being in Moka's presence. All it had taken was one compliment from Moka on Yukari's unique style before the younger girl had broken out into a paroxysm of girlish affection. "No . . . you're the one that's cool . . . and beautiful . . . and special . . ." she murmured.
"What are you saying?" Moka asked, and Dick and Kurumu were curious as well.
"I'm saying I want you to be my girlfriend!" Yukari declared, which shocked the crap out of Moka, Kurumu, and Dick. "Surely, it can't be so bad to be with someone like me! Please?!"
"I . . ." Moka uttered. "I can . . ."
Unfortunately, this halting statement of acceptance or tolerance was taken by Yukari as consent. This led to the equally unfortunate occurrence of Moka walking the halls with Yukari's small but surprisingly strong hands attached to her chest. "They're even bigger than they look!" Yukari cried out in wonder.
Dick had been trailing them, more embarrassed for Moka's sake than jealous that someone else was groping his would-be girlfriend's chest. "You know," he finally spoke up, "it's kinda rude to be groping someone's chest like that."
"Oh, phooey!" Yukari scoffed. "I know all about pretty boys like you, Richard Grayson! You charm girls and then you use them up and break their tender hearts! I won't let my Moka be seduced and broken by your filthy wiles! So I'm going to protect her from you!"
And how are you going to do that? Dick wondered sardonically. He got his answer when he suddenly found himself assaulted by a barrage of brooms and mops. He put his acrobatics skills through their paces dodging the rather weird assault on his person, and even caught one of the brooms and started using it like a quarterstaff to fend off the others. "How are you doing this?"
"I'm a witch!" Yukari replied.
Isn't it against the rules to divulge your yokai identity? Dick silently pondered, his attention focused mostly on dodging and blocking the brooms and mops that were still attacking him at Yukari's command. At least she can't use her magic on me directly.
This became the pattern of the next few days. Dick would try to talk to Moka, only for Yukari to chase him off with a barrage of brooms and mops. Because of Yukari's extreme attachment to Moka, Moka couldn't attend Newspaper Club meetings or interact with Dick anywhere that wasn't one of the classes they had in common that Yukari didn't. Dick had tried to sneak into Moka's dorm a few times using the stealth skills he'd learned from Batman, only for Yukari to find him and start screaming her head off about perverted peepers, forcing Dick to flee in the hopes of keeping his identity guarded.
"And now . . . everyone thinks I'm some kind of peeping stalker," was Dick's lament to Kurumu, showing how successful he'd been in keeping his identity concealed from Yukari.
"Why haven't you peeped on me, then?" Kurumu asked. "I mean, I am the hottest girl in this academy, so if you were going to peep on anybody . . ."
"Weren't you listening?" Dick asked morosely. "I'm not a peeper. All I wanted was to talk to Moka for a bit, try to see if I could get her to convince Yukari to let her have some breathing room."
"And Yukari found you first," Kurumu filled in.
"Yeah," Dick replied glumly.
Kurumu might have felt bad that Dick was feeling bad, but she couldn't help but see this as an opportunity. Now that Yukari had taken Moka out of play, the path to her Destined Mate's heart was clear as day. Thank you for being such a little brat, Yukari Sendo, she thought triumphantly.
Unbeknownst to the two of them, Yukari was eavesdropping from the outside and had a voodoo doll with a strand of Dick's hair entwined in it. "I won't be letting go of Moka anytime soon, Casanova," she whispered. She took the doll's left hand and moved it to strike the doll's head, only to be curious when she didn't hear the sound of a fist thumping its owner in the head. She took a chance and peered through the window, only to see Dick Grayson's hand strumming on the table, the very hand that should've struck him in his head thanks to the voodoo doll she'd made of him.
"Why didn't it work?!" Yukari whispered harshly to herself, and tried again by moving the doll's other hand to strike its head. Again, the result was Dick's hand strumming the table like he was tapping out Morse code. "What is this?! Why isn't this working?!" She took out a pair of binoculars and zoomed in on Dick's hands, seeing a silvery glint off one of them.
An anti-magic ring? Yukari realized. Where did he get one of those?! Putting the binoculars back in her kit, she took out another voodoo doll, one with a blue strand of hair she'd woven in after taking it off a sleeping Kurumu. "More than one way to skin a cat," the young witch hissed to herself. "Sorry, pretty boy, Moka and her breasts are mine. You can have the milk cow's instead."
Inside the meeting room, Dick's hands had been tingling quite strangely, so he vented it by tapping a tune . . . and a bit of Morse code . . . onto the table his hands were resting on. The code he'd tapped, if anybody other than him could read it, would have said, "I am so over this B.S. and I am ready to find someone who deserves hurting to ventilate my frustrations on." Distracting him from this grim message he'd tapped to himself was a loud gasping cry from Kurumu, which led Dick to look up . . . and see her groping herself.
"What are you doing, Kurumu?" Dick asked, coolly nonplussed.
"I don't know!" Kurumu replied frantically, her face flushed with a mixture of embarrassment and . . . something else as her hands continued groping her. "My hands are just acting on their own!"
Why does this remind me of a horror movie Jason and I watched once? Dick thought to himself, but he had no time for further ruminations when Kurumu's hands pulled themselves off her breasts . . . and replaced themselves with Dick's hands. "Kurumu, what is . . . ?" he asked, a little less cool about his confusion and embarrassment this time.
"Sorry . . ." Kurumu replied. "My hands . . . they're moving on their own . . . I can't help it . . ." As she said that, her face was still red with embarrassment, but her eyes were twinkling with something he couldn't quite name.
And that was when Moka and Gin walked in, both of them gaping with shock at Dick and Kurumu's forced position. "Richard . . . Kurumu . . . you're . . ." Moka uttered.
"Way to go, Mr. Peeper," Gin remarked, blending sarcasm and outrage in his tone. "First you go after Moka, and now Kurumu. Smooth."
"This . . . is not . . . what it looks like . . ." Dick protested, before being cut off by the sound of triumphant high-pitched laughter.
"Hey, I think I see something," Gin said, and stalked toward the window to check it out further.
That was how Yukari ended up yanked by her witch's hat into the Newspaper Club's meeting room. Before her stood Dick, Moka, Kurumu, and Gin, all of whom channeled their disapproval through the stares fixed upon her. Gin's expression, however, spoke of something other than disapproval, though no one else was paying attention.
"You can't do that to people," Dick said, his tone even and cold. "Do you even understand what you did?"
"I understand I just made you show your true colors!" Yukari replied. "You looked way too happy with that cow making you put your hands on her tits!"
"Hey!" Kurumu protested. "And I wouldn't have done that if you hadn't made me do it! What's wrong with you?! That was my body . . . and you . . . you just took it over like it was some toy!"
Moka's expression of sorrowful disapproval was worse than Kurumu's anger or Dick's cold stare. "Why, Yukari? I know you want to be with me, but do you have to make my friends hurt to make that happen?"
Yukari had no answer, not at first. She looked down at the floor, her face shadowed by her hat. "I've never had friends. Never needed them either," she spat out, trying to sound colder and tougher than a twelve-year-old girl should sound.
Dick started to hesitate. "Yukari . . ." he started to say, his voice softening. Then his battle-honed reflexes caused him to jump out of the way of a falling pot that had just popped into the air above him. "What?"
Yukari laughed out loud in satisfaction. "Oh, I got you good this time!" Then she looked into Dick's eyes, and stopped feeling so satisfied. The cold stare he aimed at her was like looking Death in the face and desperately hoping he'd look past her, at something or someone else, anyone else, anyone other than her.
"This has gone too far, Yukari," he said, his voice colder than a glacier. "You can stop this . . . or I can make you stop."
"What are you going to do?" Moka asked, horrified at what she was inferring from his tone. "She's just a little girl, Richard!"
"A little girl who's made it clear that she's content to abuse what power she has to torment and humiliate other people," Dick replied, his tone still colder than ice. "If she wants to be like that . . . I'll treat her just like I've treated all the others who thought they could get away with that."
Yukari ran away in panic, not even trying to play the defenseless and scared little girl; it wouldn't have worked on someone with eyes like those Richard Grayson was showing her. "And now you've scared her away!" she barely heard Moka berate Dick as she dashed as far away from him as she could get.
"Maybe she'll think twice about such things in the future," was Dick's stark answer. "Why are you even taking her side?"
"Because I know what it's like to be alone and feel like you have no friends, no way to be with people!" Moka retorted heatedly as she ran out from the clubroom to find Yukari.
Dick let out a ragged breath. "I think I'm going to get some air," he said.
"I'll come with you!" Kurumu offered.
"No, thanks," Dick replied. "I need some time alone. Solitary. Just a man and his thoughts." As he walked out of the clubroom and down the school halls, he heard Gin coming up behind him. "What do you want?"
"I just thought we ought to do some investigation," Gin suggested, "get your mind off that witch."
"Investigation of what?" Dick asked, and he remembered. With all the free time he'd had since Yukari had been keeping Moka away from him, Dick had been trying to track down any clues to the murderer of those young men who had been slated to begin their secondary schooling at Yokai Academy. Alas, he'd still been unsuccessful in finding anything resembling a clue or a lead, and he was starting to wonder if maybe he was going down the wrong trail.
"The peeper!" Gin replied. "And no, I don't mean you, Grayson."
"That . . . I was just trying to see if I could talk to Moka," Dick said. "Get your mind out of the gutter."
"From what I heard, this guy's been lurking outside the girls' locker room to scope some of the prime hotties here getting undressed," Gin explained. "I was thinking we could catch this guy, get your name cleared."
"I'll bite," Dick said. "Where do we go?"
"I'll show you," Gin replied, and with that, he led Dick to a structure with a half-opened window.
"Why's it open?" Dick wondered. "They need fresh air?"
"Maybe," Gin mused. "They do get hot and sticky in there . . ."
"So . . . that's the window from which he does his spying," Dick deduced once he got his eyes fixed on that window.
"And he'd need something to get in viewing height, unless he's one of those yokai that can stretch themselves, kinda like that Kano guy the 'Dark Savior' took down the other day," Gin added. He spotted a barrel on the side of the structure. "That's it! Perfect!" He moved to the barrel and picked it up to plant it beneath the window.
"Yeah, this is looking more and more like it," Dick said.
"You wanna try?" Gin asked.
"Why don't you try?" Dick asked back. "This is your investigation. You should take lead."
"This is our investigation, Dickie," Gin amended. "Or are you scared?"
"Please, you're not gonna fool me with a taunt like that," Dick retorted.
"I don't have to," Gin replied, a dangerous glint showing in his eye. "You see, you've got the two rarest beauties of this academy in the palm of your hand, and I'm sick of watching you try to play the gentleman. A real man would take what those girls were offering him, and that's exactly what I'm going to do – as soon as you're out of the picture."
Dick had tensed into a combat stance, his hidden weapons within reach. "Go for it, then."
"You asked for it," Gin answered ominously, and then, in the loudest falsetto he could manage . . .
"I see a pervert! I see a peeper!"
"What?!" Dick shouted in surprise. Expect the unexpected, he remembered Bruce saying to him often, something he should've taken more seriously from Gin. Just as he turned to confront Gin, Gin was gone, and the whoosh of air accompanying his departure made it clear just how he'd made his getaway. Dick would have no time to ruminate on that, though, because a mob of angry girls ready to inflict righteous retribution upon the peeper was storming his way.
As Dick Grayson put his stealth and evasion skills through their paces trying to get away from the girls who had been set up to think he was the peeping Tom menacing them, Yukari had fled deep into the forest of Yokai Academy. Nobody understood her, nobody at all . . . humans saw her kind as monsters, but when she came here, her so-called fellow monsters saw her as no better than a human who happened to know some "fancy magic tricks." She was hated and mocked everywhere she went, so why shouldn't she treat them as they would have treated her, humiliate them the way they did to her?
She was so caught up in her grim recollections that she wasn't watching her path, and she ran into a very solid mass blocking said path. "Hey, you jerk, why don't you apologize for bumping into me?!" she yelled petulantly.
"Oh, if it isn't the little witch," a familiar and hated voice sneered.
"Class representative . . ." Yukari uttered, stunned and frightened to see her usual tormentor and his two-man posse leering at her.
"You've been quite the little pest, Yukari," the class representative sneered. "I think it's time we showed you what we do to pests around here." At that, the trio's bodies began to shift, growing larger and more muscular as scales formed on their exposed skin, their teeth grew into sharpened fangs, claws extended where their nails had once been, and their eyes flashed reptilian gold.
Yukari instinctively raised her wand to defend herself, preparing a spell to ward off her attackers, only for the class representative to take a bite out of said wand. "Ugh, disgusting!" he spat. "Maybe you'll taste better!"
This is it . . . Yukari thought sadly. I'm going to die . . . all alone . . . with no friends . . . no one to understand me . . .
Her dark trail of thought was interrupted by a sudden explosion of smoke that obscured everyone's vision. "What the hell?!" shouted the astonished class representative.
"I'm going to give you one warning," a young but hard, cold voice declared. "Leave her alone."
"Who is that?! Show yourself!" one of the class representative's flunkies challenged angrily.
"Yeah, come out so we can eat you, too, if you're gonna defend this little bitch!" the class representative's other flunky added.
"Just remember, you wanted this," the voice said again, and with that, a hard metal staff struck the class representative in the jaw with enough force that it would have completely shattered a human's jaw. As it was, the reptilian representative just lost some teeth . . . and the tip of his tongue.
"You . . . you little bastard!" the class representative managed to grit out.
The fight was on, three against one, very unfair odds for most . . . but not this young fighter, who agilely darted out of the way of the lizardmen's rushing attacks and retaliated with brutal strikes of his staff to the sensitive pressure points beneath their armored scales. The smoke that still lingered from the earlier explosion obscured the lizardmen's vision, but the young fighter was not nearly so impeded by that lack of sight as he slammed his staff into their joints with vicious precision.
"Lesson learned?" the young fighter taunted. One of the lizardmen, the class representative, managed to stagger to his feet out of sheer rage and charge the young fighter. "Guess not. You know what you need?" He tossed a pellet at the lizardman and it exploded on contact with his snout, releasing cryonic gas that froze him in place, the reptilian's cold-bloodedness working against him. "A chill pill."
By this point, the smoke had faded just enough for the class representative's two flunkies to see what the young fighter had made of their leader. "You son of a bitch!" one of them screamed. That one got a brutal strike to the jaw with the young fighter's metal staff, knocking out more of his fangs.
"That's going to be you, too, if you don't back off this girl right now," the young fighter threatened, and the coldness in his voice sounded almost like Death himself speaking through him.
The class representative's flunkies beat a hasty retreat, and the smoke had almost faded for good, leaving Yukari able to see what the young fighter had done to her attackers. She also saw the young fighter himself, clad in a boys' Yokai Academy uniform and with short, spiky black hair. He was rather small, probably just a bit taller than her, and he held a thumb-sized metal rod that Yukari deduced had been the staff before. His eyes were covered by a pair of . . .
Were those sunglasses? In the middle of the night? With all that smoke that had engulfed them before?
"Are you all right?" he asked, his tone softening.
"Why . . . ?" Yukari asked.
"Why what?" the young fighter prompted.
"Why did you help me?!" Yukari blurted out. "I'm a witch! Hated and scorned by humans and monsters alike! Nobody would miss me! Nobody would even care! So why help me?!"
"Because you needed help," the young boy answered. "Nothing to it. Ok, maybe not quite nothing . . ." His face, what she could see of it beyond his sunglasses, tinted a little red. "You are pretty cute, after all."
Yukari was stunned by that answer. This deadly skilled fighter in front of her, who had just beaten the crap out of three monsters at least twice if not three or more times his size, had done so just because he thought she needed help? Just because he wanted to protect her? Her, of all people? And he actually called her cute?
"No one's going to hurt you here," the boy said. "I swear."
That was when the dam broke, Yukari bursting into tears and running into her rescuer's arms, which wrapped around her, sheltering her. "As long as I'm here, the only people who'll have to be afraid are the ones who think they can hurt other people and get away with it," the young boy whispered, a mix of comforting and grim warning. "I swear."
While Yukari took comfort in the arms of her rescuer, Moka had found herself on the bridge with Gin. "I can't believe it!" she shouted, filled with dismay.
"I understand how hard this is," Gin said, "finding out that someone you saw as a friend, someone you thought you could trust, could take advantage of people like that. Unfortunately, I saw him in the act with my own two eyes. I'm sorry, Moka." With that, he pulled Moka into his arms for what he intended to seem as a comforting embrace. "You won't have to worry for too long. He'll be caught, and then he'll never be able to take advantage of another girl like that again."
Moka was struggling inside herself. She still couldn't believe that Dick would really do the kind of things Gin had told her he did, that he'd seen him doing, not after he'd gone out of his way on several occasions to save her life and protect her from those that would hurt her. The man Gin was describing was not the kind of man she'd taken Dick Grayson for, and she knew there had to be something else happening that Gin wasn't telling her, that maybe he hadn't noticed.
That was when she felt something pressing against her midsection. She shifted her arms to try to reach it so she could feel it for herself, to see what it was. "Hey, what are you doing?" Gin asked.
"There's something . . ." Moka replied hesitantly, still trying to reach for the strange, thick-feeling object.
"Can't wait, huh?" Gin remarked smugly. "That's ok, neither can I!" Mistaking Moka's curiosity for a certain kind of eagerness, Gin reached for her breasts, causing her to cry out in shock and surprise. However, it had given her the opening to reach into Gin's pocket and snatch out the thick object he was hiding there.
"What are you doing?!" Moka asked.
"I thought this was what you wanted, you tease!" Gin snapped. Then he saw what Moka had in her hands. "Hey, you little thief, that's mine!"
"These pictures . . ." Moka uttered, having peered inside the small booklet she'd snatched from Gin. "Those girls . . . you were the one peeping all along, weren't you!? Not Richard! And what they said about him breaking in to peep on girls . . . he really did just want to see me! You absolute jerk! How could you do this?!"
"Because Dickie-bird doesn't deserve a prime piece like you!" Gin snarled, his muscles expanding along with his sharpening teeth as fur grew on his body. "And tonight's the full moon, so I'm completely in the zone! Why don't you just give in and let me make you my woman?!"
"All the evidence I needed," a familiar voice said grimly, and Moka and the transforming Gin, now looking more wolf than man, turned to spot its owner.
It was none other than Nightwing, garbed in the familiar skintight black suit with a blue stripe like outstretched wings across his chest and running down his arms to cover his middle and ring fingers, his eyes concealed by the black birdlike domino mask and its opaque lenses.
"You scumbags just can't help slipping up eventually," the masked vigilante remarked, holding up a recording device that he slipped back into a hidden cache in his costume. His tone would have been perfectly casual if not for the strong undercurrent of cold anger that it carried.
"Nightwing!" Moka exclaimed.
"Nice costume, Dickie," Gin taunted. "What, didn't think I'd know your scent? I'm a werewolf!"
"And I've got silver," Nightwing retorted, not letting on how troubled he was by Gin having figured out his identity already.
"You may have silver, but you don't have speed!" Gin snarled and charged straight for Nightwing. At least, he would have if a sudden detonation hadn't cut him off mid-charge, causing him to tumble to the ground in a furry heap. "What the hell?!"
"I've booby-trapped this entire area," Nightwing explained. "For any threat I might have to deal with. And let's just say, I've known and fought a few guys who could move like you do, only they're way faster."
Gin snarled at the insult. "I can still get her!" And he charged again, for Moka this time, only to be cut off by another detonation that sent him careening past her, causing him to let out an enraged howl.
Nightwing had moved to Moka's side in that moment. "I'm sorry about this," he said.
"How did you booby-trap the entire area?" she asked.
"I had some free periods," Nightwing replied coolly.
"You think some fancy traps are going to stop me, Grayson?!" Gin roared. "She's gonna be mine, and you're going to be gone! Dead and gone!"
He charged again, this time outrunning the detonations being set off by his speed, determined to get to the woman he thought was his prize. Nightwing stood in front of Moka, ready to defend her from Gin despite Gin's superior speed and strength as a werewolf. His hand brushed against the rosary on Moka's choker . . . and knocked it off, creating another explosion, this time of sheer monstrous aura that knocked Gin back and off his fast feet.
Once again, Moka's Inner self had taken over, a being of supreme grace and power, lustrous white hair hanging down to her waist, red eyes gleaming like rubies, and a fanged smile that promised death for whoever faced her. "You wretch . . ." she spat at Gin. "You really think you have what it takes to make me yours?"
Gin was practically drooling like the hungry wolf he was. "Even in your true form, you're absolutely beautiful! Time for you to become mine!" He charged again, outrunning the detonations once more and actually counting on them to obscure his movements from Inner Moka's and Nightwing's vision. There was another factor to the traps he hadn't anticipated, though, and he ran right into it when Inner Moka caught his outstretched arm with such contemptuous ease. "What . . . what is this?! How did you catch me?! I'm a werewolf! You vampires have strength, we have speed! I'm untouchable to the likes of you!"
"Look up," Inner Moka stated simply.
"The moon! I can't see it!" Gin exclaimed in panic.
"All the smoke," Nightwing added. "That was the entire point of the mines I set here."
"You . . . you . . ." Gin sputtered out in panic and outrage.
"Now . . ." Inner Moka declared as she threw Gin into the air, then kicked up after him, flipping above him. "Know your place!" This now-customary phrase from her was followed by her dropping him with a brutal kick that slammed him into the ground, in a defeated furry heap.
"I'll remember . . ." Gin uttered dazedly.
"You sure showed him," Nightwing remarked.
"And you're far more clever than I thought," Inner Moka added. "Setting traps to deal with physically superior opponents, turning the environment to your advantage and against those foes that should overwhelm you. Quite skillful of you, Richard Grayson."
"I had a very good teacher," Nightwing replied.
The next morning, a few things happened. First was that with Gin exposed as the true peeping Tom, and for attempting to assault Moka, Dick Grayson was proven an innocent man. The girls who'd been ready to tear him a new one when they thought he was the one peeping on them were now after Gin to give him a piece of their minds. Second was that Yukari Sendo had stood up in front of her class and actually apologized to them all for the way she'd behaved toward them, which had actually caused them to think about the way they'd treated her before and try to make amends for that. The third was . . .
"I decided I want to join your club!" Yukari declared.
"Why do you want to join our club?" Moka asked.
"Yeah, after . . ." Kurumu was about to say, only to be shushed by a gentle warning glance from Dick.
"I realized . . . what I did to you was wrong," Yukari replied. "You just wanted to try to be my friend, you even defended me from the class representative and his goons . . . and I was just so . . ."
"Ungrateful?" Kurumu filled in, only to get a reproachful stare from Moka and Dick.
"Yeah . . ." Yukari admitted shamefacedly. "And I want to make it up to you, especially after they came after me again, and . . ."
"They did?" Moka asked. "Are you all right, Yukari?"
"I am," Yukari replied. "They got beaten down really badly, and the class rep even got frozen, since he's a lizard and coldblooded creatures don't do that well in the cold."
"All right," Dick said. "Well, I'd like to thank whoever saved you."
"You can thank him yourself, Dick," a familiar young voice greeted from the doorway to the clubroom. At that point, everyone turned to see a young boy with neatly combed black hair dressed in a boys' Yokai Academy uniform, blue eyes twinkling with mischief.
"Timmy!" Yukari exclaimed in delight, tackling him into a hug. "My knight in shining armor!"
"I don't know about shining . . ." the boy, Tim Drake, uttered skeptically. "Hey, Dick, long time no see."
"Hey, Tim," Dick greeted Batman's newest protégé, his brother-in-arms and the newest Robin. "What are you doing here?"
"Late entry," Tim replied simply.
"They actually allow that?" Moka asked confusedly.
"At least for me they did," Tim said.
"You two know each other?" Kurumu asked.
"Yeah," Tim answered. "We're brothers, kind of."
"Yeah, kind of," Dick repeated with a wry smirk.
"It's so nice to meet family of Richard's!" Moka exclaimed. "I'm Moka!"
"And I'm Kurumu," Kurumu introduced herself. "Your 'kind-of' brother is my 'kind of' man, and my Mate of Fate."
"Huh?" Tim uttered, raising a curious eyebrow.
Dick shrugged and smiled slightly as if silently communicating, "Yeah, it's crazy, but that's how we roll here at Yokai Academy, and guess what, I kinda like crazy." For her part, Moka gaped disbelievingly at Kurumu before finally finding her voice. "No, he's not!" she protested. "He's . . ."
"Well, he's not yours, and he won't be ever!" Kurumu declared, causing Moka to glare at her. Meanwhile, Tim and Dick stared over the silently warring girls at each other, Dick smiling at Tim in a "nothing to worry about" kind of way and Tim giving him a look that suggested he was worried for Dick's sanity.
Yukari just giggled. "You two are so funny!"
Back in the dark, dank chamber, the ominous man in the dark uniform stared at the reports he had been given. "The vigilante strikes again . . . and in two places this time . . ." he mused grimly. "Either he is shockingly fast . . ."
". . . or there are two of them now," a woman's voice, belong to a tall, spidery-limbed eerie beauty, supplied.
"Two . . ." the man growled, as the candlelight flickered in response to his aura. "Two of them, flouting my order . . . this will not stand . . . Keito. This is going to be our top priority, the chief mission of the Yokai Academy Public Safety Committee. Find these vigilantes, learn who they are, and teach them that there is only room for one justice in this domain, in my domain."
"Understood, Captain Kuyo," Keito replied.
Endnotes: Happy Halloween, everyone! Sorry it took me so long, but I've got this well and finished, and there's plenty more in my head where this came from. Now that Tim Drake has been introduced and the Newspaper Club has gotten two more members, it seems Dick Grayson will be having some more interesting times at Yokai Academy.
However, why is Tim also in Yokai Academy? Has Batman lost faith in Dick's ability to carry out the investigation alone? Speaking of the investigation, will any leads turn up and bring the former and current Robins closer to unveiling the culprit behind the murders of those would-be Yokai Academy students? Oh, and as long as we're talking about investigations . . . it seems Kuyo and the Public Safety Committee are doing one of their own on Nightwing! Will it lead them to Dick Grayson and Tim Drake, and if so, will their lovely friends be caught in the crossfire?
You want the answers to those questions? Stay tuned for the next chapters! Be sure to review and let me know what you think, or suggest ideas. Or just yell at me for taking so long with this. I apologize once again, most sincerely, and hopefully you've all had a Happy Halloween! Until next time, readers!