griglewood: (Ken?)

“Ken?” Shige had poked his head around the bedroom door.  “My dad wants to speak to you.  He said he’d…”

The hotel phone rang just on time.

“That’s just great,” Ken muttered, pushing himself off the bed where he’d been attempting to 'take five' after the afternoon’s drama.  Shige disappeared with a gentle snick as the door closed. 

“There were fucking snakes,” Schuldig shouted, as soon as Ken picked up the phone.

“Lots of countries have snakes,” Ken replied tiredly.  “Japan has them.”

“He didn’t get bitten in Japan!”

“No,” Ken said.  “He got bitten when he was out for a walk with his father.”   

Some swearing followed at the other end of the line and then a brief sullen silence.  A small smile found its way across Ken’s face.  Telepathy, he’d discovered, didn’t work across a long distance phone call.  The German bastard just had to put up with being normally frustrated.

“You still there,” he finally asked, some remnant of good humour now restored.

“Testy aren’t we?” Schuldig snarked, as if he hadn’t been the one to complain.

Ken used his foot to hook out the chair which was pushed under the dressing table and sat himself down.  “I’ve just had Brad ranting at me,” he admitted.  “Apparently I should have been more freaked out and it would have been different if it was Kaoru.  And so on.”  He made a dismissive gesture with his free hand which was pointless when nobody else could see it.

“Did he really panic?” 

Ken recognised morbid curiosity when he heard it.  He temporised.  “What did Shige say?”

“He said talk to you, the little shit.”

Well that figured.  “It wasn’t panic exactly, he just… "  Was really pissed off about Ken being stronger and faster now?  Everyone got old, for God's sake, and Ken still trained.  "He’s probably right," Ken sighed.  "I don’t know what I’d have done if it had been Kaoru who got hurt.  It doesn’t mean I don’t care about Shinji.  And he’s going to be fine.  He’s got to stay in hospital for a few days but the antitoxin is working.”

Schuldig huffed down the line.  Ken was tempted to ask if he’d already booked his flight but Schuldig wasn’t much better at 'fessing up to being an actual feeling human being than Crawford.  It would be easier to just let him arrive.  And there was something that was troubling Ken more.

“Are they letting your little prodigy keep the corpse?” Schuldig asked sweetly.  Maybe telepathy did work down the phone.

“Oh shut up.”

“Just the skin perhaps?  That would be one hell of a show and tell.”

“I’m not encouraging it!”

“Guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

“I will fucking hang up Schuldig.”

“Actually,” Schuldig said, chuckling deeply.  “It sounds much more the sort of thing Abyssinian would have done.  You were never that reckless.”

And that, hit the nail on the head.

griglewood: (Ken?)
The Crawford-Hidaka family's holiday ramble around Biokovo mountain does not go as planned.



“I’m not actually sure where this path is going,” Ken admitted when they emerged from an unusually dense patch of undergrowth.  “It feels like we’re walking in a circle.”

“Not to mention we’re going back uphill.  I knew I should have let Kaoru do the map reading,” Crawford replied.  But he didn’t sound unduly concerned.  They weren’t that far from civilisation.  It was a beautiful sunny day (despite some ominous clouds further uphill) and they were enjoying a rare moment of solitude, as the boys had dropped behind to explore the caves they’d passed earlier.

“I can read a map,” Ken grumbled but he couldn’t really argue over Kaoru’s superior outdoor skills. 

The path had levelled out in a hollow of tree roots so he turned to wait there, putting a hand up to shield his eyes as he squinted back down the trail.  The caves were still visible from this vantage and the ruins of the cottage that once had been built around them stood out in picturesque relief against the distant landscape of the mountain.  Although broken up by cloud, the sky was still bright blue.  The only real sound was the constant chirping of crickets which had accompanied them for most of the day.  

It really was a pretty place.  Ken’s inner florist had been cataloguing wild flowers he’d never seen in Britain or Japan and Shige had been going mad with his camera.  The boys were probably waiting for him to get a close up of an insect, again.

Ken had just turned around to say this to Crawford when the older man turned suddenly and shockingly pale and, seconds later, Keigo came charging up the path, Shige not far behind.

“What’s happened?”  Ken hurried down to meet them.

“Shinji’s been bitten,”  Keigo exclaimed, before bending down to catch his breath.   “It was a snake.”

“In the cave,” Shige added, looking thoroughly distressed.

“I’m going back there,” Crawford said, brushing past the three of them.   

Ken didn’t instantly follow.  He was thinking hard.  “Have you moved him?” Both boys shook their heads.  “Good.  Shige, go back with Brad, make sure nobody does.  I’ll be right behind you.  Keigo, can you get a phone signal?” Keigo was the linguist of the group and he always had at least one cellphone with him.  Proving Ken’s point, Keigo retrieved an iPhone from one pocket and his Hyotei customised flip phone from the other.  He held up the Gratina to confirm it had nearly three bars.   “Good enough,” Ken said, “I want to you to dial 112.”  He repeated the number again, slowly, then held out the map he’d been crumpling in his hand. “Try and give them our location from this.  They’ll probably have a better idea than we do anyway.”

“I expect they rescue idiot tourists every weekend,” Keigo replied with a wavering smile.  He’d calmed down quickly upon being given a specific task.  He pointed up the path.  “I might get a better signal there.”

“Call first.”  Ken patted him on the shoulder. “We won’t be long.”

Ken slid his daypack from his shoulder as he jogged back down the path at a steady pace – not too quickly, the trail was rocky and uneven and he wouldn’t help anyone with a broken ankle.  Shige and Kaoru were waiting outside the cave when he arrived.  Ken climbed through the ruins of what might in the past have been someone’s living room to find Crawford and Kunimitsu sitting on the ground beside Shinji, just inside the cave entrance.  Shinji looked pale, sweaty and terrified.

“He’s been sick,” Crawford snapped.

“That’s just stress,” Ken assured him.  “Where’s the bite?”

“On my hand,” Shinji said.  "I was just climbing over the wall and..."

“Okay, don’t hold it out.”  Ken squatted beside him, retrieving his first aid kit from the pack.  “We need to keep your arm as still as possible and make sure you’re sitting up.  Keep your hand down, that’s right.”

Crawford had adjusted his position so Shinji could sit leaning against him, the boy cradling his hand gingerly in his lap.

“Keigo’s calling the ambulance,” Ken continued.  “You’ll be just fine but we need to clean the bite out and put a bandage on.”    He glanced across at Kunimitsu.  “Did you see what type of snake it was?”

“I didn’t,” Kunimitsu admitted.  “But Kaoru...”

Even Crawford snorted at this.

“I guess it was a silly question,” Ken acknowledged.   “Okay.  This might sting.”  He lifted Shinji’s hand carefully, turning it over to see the bite marks just below the inside of the boy's wrist, and used a sterile wipe to clean the wounds as gently as possible.  The two punctures looked deep and there was already some worrying discolouration around them.  Ken had a strong stomach – he’d seen and inflicted much worse injuries after all – but it was different when it was one of your kids.   Even a stepkid.

“Should we rinse it out?”  Kunimitsu asked.

“I don’t think so,” Ken replied, folding a light bandage over the cleaned cuts. “And I’m not sucking poison out either, before anyone suggests it.  It was probably a dry bite anyway,” he added for Shinji's benefit.  “We could do with a splint though.  Is there anything here?”

“I’ll find one,” Kunimitsu replied, clearly relieved to have something useful to do.  And probably to get out of the cave.

“But what if the snake’s still out there?” Shinji asked fearfully.

“It definitely isn’t,” Shige called out from his station at the cave entrance.

“They’re usually more frightened of us than we are of them,” Crawford agreed.  Although he was looking past Shige with suspiciously narrowed eyes.

Kunimitsu returned quickly, carrying two sturdy pieces of branch.  Not perfect but they’d have to do.  Ken used the sticks and his last bandage to wrap Shinji’s wrist in a makeshift splint, then removed his plaid shirt, ripped it along the length of the hem and used the knotted, torn off strips to make a basic sling.

“You just bought that,” Shinji protested weakly, as Ken checked that his wrist was secured comfortably.

“If Keigo complains, I’ll blame you,” was the cheerful reply. 

“If you’re finished, we should leave now,” Crawford cut in. 

Ken agreed. “Pass him to me, it’ll be quicker if I carry him.”

“It will not.”

“C’mon Brad,” Ken insisted.

Silence reigned in the gloom of the cavern for several long moments before Crawford, tersely, conceded.

"Keigo texted," Shige announced brightly, stepping aside when Ken emerged back into the daylight with Shinji in his arms. "He's right by the road.  And, um."  He pointed towards Kaoru, who had been waiting quietly outside.  Kaoru was holding out a long piece of branch, at a very careful distance from himself and everyone else.  The scaly black-striped body which was hooked in the fork of the branch provided its own explanation.  Ken muttered a silent imprecation, which might also have been a prayer. 

“Where’s the head?” Crawford asked bluntly.

Shige, grimacing, pointed towards a stained area of ground and a large rock.  “It kept moving after, you know.”

“That was very DANGEROUS Kaoru,” Ken told his only begotten son.  “But thank you.” 

Kaoru shrugged, as non-committally as any twelve year old can while displaying his first kill.  “The doctors will want to know what type it was.” 

 

 

They didn’t have long to wait for the ambulance.  After dialling the emergency number, Keigo had followed the path a short distance and discovered that it reconnected with the road into town on the other side of the ridge.  He and Crawford continued to do the talking while Ken helped Shinji get strapped into a seat and Kaoru handed over his dead snake, with great solemnity.  It was a relief to see the thing decanted securely into a sealed container although Shige made sure he got some photographs first.   Crawford elected to travel with Shinji to the hospital.  Ken waved them off reluctantly, glancing at his wristwatch as the vehicle disappeared down the hill.

“We can get a taxi,” Keigo said, coming to stand beside him.

“He’ll be okay.” Ken was reasonably confident about it.  "He needed to be in hospital within a couple of hours so there’s plenty of time.  I don’t think he’ll be feeling up to visitors for a while though.” 

“Was it very poisonous?” Kunimitsu asked.

“The worst,” Kaoru replied. “It had a horn on its head.”

“He’ll still be fine,” Ken said firmly.  “What matters is that he gets to the hospital for antitoxins.”

“You’re very knowledgeable about all this,” Shige chipped in, leaning forward so he could look Ken in the face.  “Are snakes a big risk in flower shops these days?”

“Shut up Shige!”  Wrapping his arm around the boy’s neck in a loving chokehold took the sting out of his words.  Ken appreciated the attempt to change the mood.  And truthfully, in that moment, he was feeling quite proud of his boys.  They’d all kept their heads and acted like a team.  Once Crawford got over being pissed at him and phoned from the hospital, he’d take them all out for ice cream.  It would give Shinji something to complain bitterly about, at length, when he felt better.

And Ken could tell the others that he’d learned everything he knew from Kaoru’s scouting manual later.  When it was all just a distant happy memory.

Ken tore his eyes from the road, and the vista of sparkling sea and haze shrouded islands beyond it, when he felt someone tugging at the hem of his vest. 

“Ken.” Keigo was frowning.  “Where’s your shirt?”

Bearing Up

Oct. 16th, 2016 12:20 pm
griglewood: (Default)

Hidakas on holiday.


“Do you,” Ran began, then changed his mind, disguising the inappropriate thought behind another sip of his mai tai. Of course Ken hadn’t missed it.

“Do I what?”  The younger man was keeping a watchful eye on the kids as they splashed about but he turned around when Ran spoke.

“It’s nothing,” Ran insisted, wishing it was.  “I just...”  He made a vague gesture down his chest and then looked across the pool, to where Crawford was drying himself off after his swim. 

“Western men are much hairier than Japanese,” Aya-chan said brightly.  The minx.  “My brother wants to know if it bothers you.”

“Your brother is now mortified,” Ran replied, glaring across the table, but Ken was just laughing.  “He does get a bit shaggy when he’s wet.  You should see him in the shower.”

“I’d really rather not,” Ran muttered.

“Is it bad?” Aya-chan was still resolutely impervious to embarrassment.

“It’s okay,” Ken admitted, a hint of blush appearing under his tan.  “I mean, I obviously don’t dislike it and it would be kind of weird if he waxed.”  Ken had done that for a mission once and never again.  A more cheerful thought occurred to him.  He leaned in confidingly, seeing that the American was now on his way over.  “Can you imagine?  It hurts like shit right, sorry Aya, and he’d know it was going to.”

“We all know it’s going to,” Aya-chan said pertly, lowering her newly shaped eyebrows in a frown. “But oh yes!”

Ran smiled politely into his mai tai as Crawford approached.   He could appreciate Ken’s way of thinking but the relationship still baffled him.

griglewood: (Ken?)
Crawford emerged from the bathroom, still buttoning his shirt.  While he was showering, Ken had spread a pile of clothes across the bed.  He must have emptied the drawers.
 
“What are you doing?”  Crawford retrieved the tie he had folded over the mirror.  Ken shrugged.  “Sorting stuff out for next week.  Wanted to make sure nothing needs washing.”
 
Crawford was about to commend the preparations for their upcoming holiday but something caught his eye.
 
“Not jeans, Ken, it’ll be much too warm.”
 
“Yeah, I know.”   A small amount of irritation crept in.  “I’m going to take that lot.”  Ken pointed to the pile on his right.
 
“No you’re not,” Crawford replied swiftly, recognising several faded teeshirts and some scruffy shorts.  “You’ve had those as long as I’ve known you.”
 
“They’re my summer clothes,” Ken said flatly, as if this was explanation enough.
 
“They were your summer clothes in Weiß.”  Crawford threw the words over his shoulder on his way downstairs.  “Take some money out of the safe and go get something decent.  You wouldn’t let the boys dress that badly.”
 
 
 
 
The boys were having breakfast on the terrace when a furious Ken followed Crawford outside to the car. 
 
“So I’m embarrassing you now? Is that it?”
 
“You’ve embarrassed me for years, Ken.  Get your hand off the door.”
 
Ken tried to oblige by slamming the car door shut but Crawford was of course ahead of him. He closed the door himself while Ken fumed on the tarmac.  Ken leaned into the window as soon it rolled down. “You don’t tell me what to wear, Brad.  I’m not your fucking wife.”
  
“Are you sure about that?” Crawford said nastily, and hit ignition.
 
 
  
 
“Crap,” Shige swore, as Ken stormed back into the house.  Kaoru stoically continued to work his way through a bowl of cocoa pops while Shinji looked like he was on the verge of a million questions. 
 
Keigo went to the heart of the matter.  He picked up his tennis club phone and pressed the second button on his predialled list.  “Bring Fuji,” he instructed as soon as Tezuka answered.  
 
“Fuji?”  Shinji echoed.
 
“You can bring your mad scientist too if you like,“ Keigo suggested grandly.  “I suspect we’ll need strength in numbers.”
 
 
 
 
Back in the house, Ken was taking out his frustration on the washing machine.  And the dishwasher.  And the dishes.  The boys left things just long enough to avoid more personal damage. And then.
 
“He’ll make you pay for breakages,” Shige warned.
 
“It can come out of the fucking safe then,” Ken snapped back.
 
“And the swear jar,” Shinji muttered matter of factly behind him.
 
“You know we love you as you are, Ken,” Keigo interrupted smoothly when Ken swivelled around.  “None of us would ever want to change you and we definitely don’t condone Crawford for, well...”
 
“Anything?” Fuji suggested helpfully from the sidelines.  (Tezuka would have taken his time arriving but his best friend absolutely adored the Hidaka household.)
 
“Your dress sense is shit,” Shige finished, seeing Ken’s openly incredulous expression.  “And we really really like clothes shopping.  Well, me and Keigo,” he amended, with a sly wink for Kaoru.  
 
“It’s been a while since we did anything as a group,” Kaoru recited dutifully.
 
“Although this is really for you,” Keigo insisted. 
 
Ken’s bad temper stared down Keigo’s iron clad ego for several long seconds.  
 
“There’s a lot of money in that safe,” Ken eventually said, in a tone both tentative and vindictive.
 
“We know,” Shige trilled.
 
 
 
 
Crawford’s temper, when he arrived at his office, was much the same as Ken’s except that he’d spent the interim time running back through his justifications and generally winding himself up.  After an hour of rejecting papers he had no interest in, failing to concentrate on email, and slamming the drawers in his filing cabinet, he buzzed his secretary.
 
“Cancel today’s meetings,” he instructed tersely.
 
“You have Mr Takatori at 11.”
 
“Christ,” Crawford swore, although he managed to mute the phone first.  Unmuted.  “Especially that one.“


 
 
Ken and the boys returned home at nine in the evening, laden with bags.  Laughter turned to hushed if snickering undertones when they were greeted by a stone faced American.  
 
“It’s a school night,” he reminded them coldly as they crowded into the hall.
 
“I’ve got homework,” Kaoru said quickly, detouring towards his bedroom.  The others followed with various degrees of prompting.  Ken dropped his bags at the bottom of the stairs and walked silently past Crawford into the kitchen.  
 
“I came home early,” Crawford complained, two minutes later, when he stalked through the doorway.
 
“Coffee?” Ken asked, checking the filters.
 
“You already know,” Crawford realised.
 
Ken maintained a clear distance between them while he topped up the percolator and pulled some mugs down from the cupboard.  “Omi rang,” he said briefly.  “Apparently you cancelled your meeting because of a family emergency.  He was freaked.”
 
“I should have been more specific with my secretary,” Crawford replied, after a brief pause.
 
“Jesus, Brad.  The girl does have a name.”
 
“Fine.  I should have been more specific with Raina.”
 
“You really should,” Ken agreed, taking a seat at the breakfast bar.  Elbows on the table, he propped his chin on his hands.   “Schuldig rang after to ask what the unexpected family emergency was.  He was shitting himself laughing.”
 
Crawford sighed heavily, and pulled out the seat facing Ken.  “I suspect he rang me first and then tried you for the real story.    I wasn’t very forthcoming.”
 
“I told him to fuck off,” Ken admitted.  “That’s when he rang Shige.”
 
“But you didn't come home,” Crawford pointed out.
 
“We were busy.”  
 
“Shopping?”
 
“Some of the time,” Ken said casually, turning to check the coffee progress.  “Then we had dinner and went to see a movie.  As I was reminded this morning, it’s been a while since we did anything as a group.”
 
“A group which doesn’t include me?”
 
“Not today, no.  Here.”  Ken slid a mug of fresh black coffee across the table, followed by the sachet of sweetener he fished out of the jar.  Crawford tore the end off the wrapper and poured the contents into his drink.
 
“Your things were gone, when I got home.”  He observed quietly.  “Did you do that?”
 
“Fuck no,” Ken laughed sharply.   “The brats went to town on me.  Ain’t nothing stops Keigo when he’s on a roll.”
 
“I found the recycling bags behind the garage.”
 
Ken looked up at him curiously.
 
“Of course I knew you hadn’t left,” Crawford forestalled him.  “Even our lives aren’t that melodramatic.  It did make me consider how it would feel.”
 
“So what do you think it would be like then?” Ken asked, still studying the older man intently.
 
“Truthfully,” Crawford replied, sitting back in his chair.  “Relief was my first thought.  And then I rather enjoyed having the house to myself.  I don’t remember the last time it was this quiet.  Obviously, that was before the phone started ringing.  You should, by the way, have notified at least one of the schools.”
 
“We were playing hookie,” Ken said lightly.
 
“So I dealt with that for you, then I decided to spend some time in the gym.  And then I beat the holy crap out of you, metaphorically speaking, because you weren’t there.  It’s very strange.”
 
“It’s not that strange,” Ken disagreed.  “I want to beat the crap out of you quite a lot too.”
 
“That’s not really what I meant,” Crawford said, before lapsing into silence.  
 
Ken ran a thumb around the rim of his coffee mug, letting a few seconds tick by.  “So you’d miss me but you’re still too anal to say so.”
 
“I might had said so if you’d come home a few hours earlier,” Crawford deflected.  “But you missed the moment.”
 
“You are really fucking annoying, do you know that?”
 
“It’s what you love about me.”  Crawford drained his coffee and stood to dispose of the empty mug.  “Actually I did have another thought on the subject.”
 
“Can’t wait to hear that one,” Ken muttered behind him.
 


 
Upstairs in Kaoru's bedroom, four teenage boys huddled breathlessly around a wireless device.  Kaoru's lessons with Uncle Nagi had not been wasted although he himself had attempted to remain aloof from their application.  
 
"I'm not sure what that means," Shinji said.
 
"Shut up Shige," Kaoru snapped before the blond could enlighten him.
 
"I can't believe Crawford's that stupid," Keigo said.   
 
Kaoru and Shige both turned to look.  
 
"You can't stop someone leaving by marrying them," Keigo explained patiently, more worldly wise than the others when it came to affairs of the rich.    "That just means they can leave with half your money."

"Dad wouldn't touch it," Kaoru said firmly.

"You said that this morning," Shige pointed out.  "And that's when the only designer label he'd ever met was Adidas.  We might just have created a monster."

 


"Your children are talking about us," said Crawford, still tying the belt on his robe as he emerged from the bathroom.

Ken was flaked out on the bed wearing nothing but his jeans. "Funny how they always become 'my kids' when they're trying to use secret surveillance equipment."

"If they were mine, they'd be succeeding," Crawford pointed out reasonably.  He removed the towel he'd draped around his neck after washing his hair, and folded it over the back of a chair.  "Those jeans aren't new."

"They're comfortable," Ken said, turning the page of his magazine.  "I think Keigo wanted the shop to take them off and burn them but I'm not giving up everything I like."

"They're full of holes."  The mattress dipped as Crawford sat down.

"So?"

"So nothing," Crawford replied, hooking his finger through one of the tears.  "I'm sure we can compromise."

griglewood: (This may hurt)

Ken woke up before the alarm, which was slightly after Crawford, who had already arisen and was sitting on the side of the bed, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes before he rooted around blindly for his glasses.  Ken rolled over onto his side, kicking his legs free of the entangling duvet and a hitherto  slumbering cat as he did so. 

“Two deadly assassins, ready for anything,” he yawned widely. 

“So long as it’s not first thing in the morning.”  Crawford had found his glasses (where they always were) and shrugged into a robe.

“I was always more of a nightbird,” Ken admitted, hugging one of the pillows. “The kids don’t have to be up for an hour yet.”

“Otherwise known as an hour of blessed peace,” Crawford replied serenely.  Although Ken said the same things pretty much every morning.   He could have set his watch by the next question, had he ever had need.

“I don’t know why you bother with an alarm.  I mean, don’t you know it’s about to go off anyway?”

“Well it wouldn’t be if I didn’t set it.”  Crawford observed reasonably, pulling Ken’s pillow away after a brief halfhearted tussle.  “And half the working population wake up before their alarms.  The other half are late, which is what you will be if you’re not up and making breakfast by seven.  Come and have a shower.”

Ken had flopped back onto the mattress, where he was doing a passable impression of a starfish, if starfishes were tanned and muscular and wore way too many clothes in bed.   He smiled beatifically at the light fittings.  “Is it one of those showers?”

“It’s always one of those showers.”  Crawford threw the pillow back at him before disappearing through the bathroom door.

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