Die By the Sword - Part 3
Disclaimer: I don't own Petshop of Horrors or another series that you'll find mentioned that I'm not going to give away yet ^_^
Warnings: A/U, OOC, a little more death?
Notes: Well, I was having a little trouble with this chapter, it wanted to go by fast when it shouldn't have, but don't worry, I straightened it out. ^_^
"So let me get this straight, I'm an immortal. The only way I can die is if somebody cuts my head off."
"That is correct." Sofu nodded.
"There can be no fighting on holy ground and all fights are one on one. Immortals can't reveal themselves to humans and shooting is bad form in a fight."
"Indeed. Another sign of immortals, they're orphans and they don't have children.
"But that's wrong then. I have parents and a little brother even." Leon protested.
"That doesn't mean that you weren't adopted Detective." Sofu pointed out.
"But they never told me. And Chris, he looks just like me!"
"Coincidence Detective, for you are obviously an Immortal."
"Great, so I'm an Immortal." Leon grumbled. "Now what?"
"Normally, another Immortal would find you and train you in sword-fighting and teach you everything you need to know. But since the first Immortal you came in contact with seemed quite intent on removing that charming head of yours from your shoulders, I'd say that it would not be the best of ideas to leave you on your own."
"What are we going to do Grandfather?" D looked at his grandfather worriedly, hands wringing as his eyes wandered over to Leon.
Sofu sighed. "I suppose that I shall train him." He said in a resigned voice.
"Really?!" D looked up stunned.
"Wait...you're going to train me?" Leon also looked quite surprised. He hadn't known this man long but already he was under the impression that D's grandfather didn't care for him much. By the look the man wore, it was as if he'd volunteered to scrub stadium toilets with a toothbrush.
"Would you rather walk outside of these doors and have your head removed from your shoulders?"
"No, no, not at all. It's just I'm a bit shocked here."
"So am I," Sofu muttered into his teacup. "At any rate, I shall train you simply because my grandson would never let me live it down if I didn't."
"Well, gee," Leon snorted. "Don't I feel all warm and tingly."
"Don't worry Leon, that is just his way." D comforted, petting Leon's shoulder. Leon smiled at him gratefully and looked to do more before Sofu interrupted.
"Well then, now is as better than later. Shall we begin?"
"Now?" Leon frowned, nearly pouting. "Can't we start in the morning or something?"
"The sooner we begin, the sooner you can go outside without being killed."
Leon couldn't really argue with that. "Fine, now."
Sofu nodded and put his teacup aside. Gracefully he stood and began walking towards the back of the shop, never stopping or turning around to see if Leon followed. Draining the last of his tea in an indelicate gulp, Leon got up and loped after the retreating man. D sat back and stared into his teacup. So Leon was immortal. He would never die. Or rather, he would not die unless somebody defeated him in a fair fight, but with his grandfather training Leon, it was almost certain that the new immortal would not loose. This could prove most interesting. Grinning, D decided to put away the tea and watch.
When D arrived at the dojo on the second floor of the pet shop, he was amused at the put out expression on Leon's face. Both Leon and his grandfather had changed their clothes, both now sporting identical white hakama. Leon was kneeling across from Sofu and they were breathing in and out in tandem. After a full minute of silence, save for their exhalations, Leon opened his eyes.
"Is this what you call training? What the hell am I supposed to do with this, subdue them with garlic breath or something?"
Sofu sighed, his patience already wearing thin. "Mr. Detective. You must start out with the basic skills. These are the building blocks, the foundation of your knowledge. You must know how to breathe before you can even hope to fight. Each step builds upon the last until you have a full bank of knowledge and the skills required to utilize that knowledge. If you wish to seek out another teacher, that is fine with me, but you must hope that they are not just out for your heated head, at least I have no ulterior motives." Leon groaned. He was right, he knew that he was right and yet he was impatient. As if lifting a thought from Leon's head he continued. "This process is not going to happen overnight, it will be months until you have the required knowledge and years until you can use those skills to their fullest extent. You are aware of this, you are a police officer, you did not become one overnight."
Leon sighed. "You're right. This whole thing just rubs me the wrong way. Patience ain't my style."
"So I've noticed, but it would extend your life by years, centuries even if you put aside your impetuous nature."
"Okay, okay, let's breathe already!" Leon huffed petulantly.
D had to hold back a giggle as he slipped out of the dojo leaving the men to their lessons.
Leon collapsed at the table, face pressed into the cool porcelain plate set in front of him. His eyes stared at the tiny gold dragons painted on the border, not really seeing them. H watched as he breath fogged the white surface.
"Are you tired Detective?" D asked with a smile as he placed a covered platter in the center of the table.
"Who knew breathing could be so hard?" Leon muttered as he picked himself up from the table and leaned back into the chair, watching as D disappeared behind the kitchen door only to return seconds later carrying another covered platter.
"It only gets harder from here Mr. Detective," Sofu pointed out from his position at the end of the table.
"Wonderful. So, D, what's for dinner?" Leon swiftly changed the subject, looking hungrily at the collection of covered platters in the center of the table.
"I decided that tonight was a special night, having you come back from the dead, discovering what you are and gaining a new teacher. So tonight I have prepared a soup, sushi, tempura and of course rice." He pulled the covers off of each dish as he named it, allowing their scents to waft into the air.
Leon was so hungry that he didn't even flinch at the mention of sushi. Sure he'd lived in Los Angeles for as long as he could remember, but raw fish just wasn't his thing. Instead he turned his attention to inhaling as much as he could while D and Sofu sedately ate their meals, their grace a foil to Leon's less than perfect table manners. After Leon's consumption returned to a more normal speed, D questioned him about the meal.
"Do I take it that you approve then Leon? What about the sushi?"
Leon looked at it, wondering if it would swim away if he threw it into some water. D shook his head. "You know Detective, it is an American misconception that all sushi is raw, just as it is a misconception that raw is bad. The flavors and textures of sushi are really quite a treat if you would only give it a chance." To make a point D popped a small roll into his mouth making a small noise of pleasure as he ate it.
Leon looked at the sushi and then at D. "Since this is an interesting night of firsts, I'll take your word for it and try the sushi." D beamed at him as he reached out with his chopsticks and selected a small roll that looked harmless enough. He popped it in his mouth and began to chew slowly, as if afraid of the bite sized morsel. A thoughtful look fell across his face as he began to slow down and chew as if considering the flavor. Finally he swallowed and nodded. "Not bad, not bad at all. What's in it?" Leon reached for another, this time daring to take a minute smudge of wasabi.
"Octopus eggs, mayonnaise, egg and nori."
Leon's mouth fell open, the sushi half chewed as he stared in horror at the innocent plate of sushi rolls. "Ocopush ecks?"
D nodded as he reached across and closed Leon's mouth with the ends of his chopsticks. Leon swallowed and looked a little pale.
"Oh come now, it was not that bad, you Americans and your food hang-ups." Sofu shook his head as he himself took another sushi roll.
"Hey!" Leon protested.
"Stop being such a child and eat. My grandson spent all this time on making a special dinner for you and all you can do is make faces and change colors."
Leon sighed, knowing once again that the supposedly older man was right. D had obviously worked hard on dinner and though his face didn't show it, Leon was sure that he'd hurt the Count's feelings with his less than mature display. "I'm sorry, I just seem to be a little uneducated about the world. Sorry to be such a brute."
"We will be fixing that." Sofu replied. Leon stared, he wasn't sure if that was a promise or a threat when Sofu put it like that. "Perhaps a little of both," Sofu said in that creepy way he had of responding to Leon's private thoughts. And so it began, the beginning of Leon's training and what seemed a strange new piece in the pet shop's colorful history.
"I feel like I'm in the Karate Kid movie from hell." Leon muttered as he pushed a damp towel across the floor of the dojo.
"What was that Mr. Detective?" Sofu asked from where he sat meditating across the room.
"Nothing Sensei." It was better not to argue with the man, things would only get harder that way. It was obvious that Sofu was a man used to having things his way. So was Leon, but his usual techniques were useless against the unshakable will of Sofu. Yelling, screaming, arguing, intimidating, were all just displays of childish temper as far as the older man was concerned. Leon knew they were, but he was so used to acting that way, it was hard to change. But slowly, under Sofu's guidance with help from D, he found himself changing.
A combination of Leon's brush with death and D's influence got Leon all the time off he needed to "recover from the emotional trauma." Sofu's training was tough and his patience, though great, always seemed to meet its end quickly when dealing with Leon and so he was a harsh taskmaster. Seemingly useless tasks were all part of training. Cleaning the dojo floor before and after practice, standing in one spot for infinite amounts of time, even chopping vegetables were all tagged as "training" but Leon was sure that Sofu was just laughing at him behind his back, but he didn't give up. He dutifully completed each useless task that he was assigned, hoping that it brought him a step closer to being able to leave the pet shop without the fear of having his head forcefully removed from his shoulders.
Leon completed his sweep of the floor and put the towel back in its bucket. He jogged over and proceeded to follow the routine that he could do whether awake or asleep without even thinking about it. The traditional bowing was followed by a rigorous routine of stretches and warm-ups. Warm-ups merged into martial arts forms, katas and some light sparring. Only after several hours and a lunch break was Leon allowed near anything that even resembled a sword, and even then it was a piece of wood. The first time Sofu had thrown the boken at him, he'd thrown a fit.
Sofu had swiftly knocked him on the head with the wooden sword and proceeded to explain what it was, and it's function in their training. If they started out with real swords, Leon was sure to be injured more severely than if they started with the wooden practice swords. Besides, the art of boken was very respected in it's own right. Sofu explained how some ninja preferred the use of boken because of their lightweight and sturdy construction. They were easy to conceal with paints or stains and could easily break bones or damage internal organs and cause massive harm if not used properly, let alone when wielded with deadly skill. Leon didn't complain about the wooden swords after that.
Leon winced as the boken smacked him on the head so hard that would surely bruise, if only until his healing ability kicked in. "Pay attention Leon. You must be alert and meet your opponent's eyes. Staring into space is not productive. It allows them to attack and leaves you open. Not to mention that not meeting the eyes of your opponent is a sign of submission. It will bolster their confidence if you look away, you must meet their eyes at all times. Perhaps when you are stronger you can use it as a means to lull people into false confidence, but until then I want you to meet my eyes at all times."
"Good. Yoi." Leon took a ready stance, all the while meeting Sofu's deep honey-gold eyes. They were similar to D's but deeper, older and more dangerous, like the eyes of a snake, which was why Leon had the piece of mind not to get lost in them, but to stay ready. "Hajime."
They began to move through their forms, Sofu adjusting Leon's stance and grip when necessary. The moves were controlled and monotonous, their very repetitive nature geared specifically to drill them into Leon's brain. They'd practiced until they were mechanical. Just when Leon thought he had it down, Sofu changed it.
"Remember, life does not stay still. There is variation in all things. You can't stand in one spot and expect to defend yourself. You have to move. You have to adapt. If you can't do this, than you don't need to live."
So they practiced for long hours that slipped away without notice. Set moves and their infinite variations were introduced to be mastered. Even when Leon's sword wavered and his body swayed treacherously, he refused to give in to fatigue, determined to keep going for as long as it took, determined not to fail, not to give up. However, everyone has their limits and Sofu was keenly aware of this, so shortly after Leon reached the point of exhaustion he would slow down, moving back into simple martial arts, down to stretches and finally he would have Leon clean the floor. Slowly, with the last of his strength Leon would wipe up the hard earned sweat before ending their routine with a bow. Wearily, Leon trudged back to his room to sink into the bathtub to soak away the sharp aching in his muscles. With day after day of the heavy training, it was only understandable that Leon allowed himself to slip into a deep slumber within the soothing embrace of the hot water.
The bell over the shop door jingled and D looked up from the bird he was petting. His face lit up and he smiled at the familiar brunette. "Ah! Miss Jill, what a lovely surprise! What brings you to my shop?"
"Well, I'd love to say that it was pleasure, but unfortunately, it's a case." Jill held up a folder.
"I see. Would you like some tea while we discuss the issue?" D put the small bird back in its cage and closed the door.
"That would be wonderful."
"Take a seat, I'll be right back." D walked into the back of the shop while Jill sat on the couch, laying the folder out on the table. D returned a moment later with the tea tray and a plate of small jam tarts. He poured tea and handed a cup to Jill before settling back into his chair. "So, what is this case you are working on?"
"An entomologist, Dr. Jim Stamford, found dead in his lab, skewered to his desk. He was reported as having been seen around here. Did you happen to sell him a pet?" Jill asked as she pushed a picture of the man over to D.
"Yes, I did."
"What did you sell him?"
"A singing cricket."
Jill raised an eyebrow. "May I see the contract?"
"Most certainly." D got up to retrieve the contract and handed it to Jill to read.
"Feed it fresh fruit. Keep it with you at all times. Heed its advice?" Jill looked up at D.
"Yes, it was a very unique cricket you see. It offers advice as to the path of life you walk. If you do not follow the cricket's advice he can become, how shall we say, hopping mad."
A smile twitched at the corner of Jill's mouth. "A cricket conscience. A singing cricket conscience." In a matter of moment she was giggling convulsively.
D watched in amusement, already having been made aware of the resemblance to a popular children's tale by Leon earlier in the week. Leon had even gone so far as to make D sit down and watch the video of the little puppet boy and his singing cricket guide. It had proved a most amusing distraction from the worries that had plagued his mind as of late. Eventually, Jill's giggles died down into the occasional chuckle. For the rest of the visit they chatted about what was happening at the station, how Leon was faring with his "psychologist". When the excuse had been brought to Leon's attention, he'd been angry, claiming that he'd never go to some quacked out head-shrinker. The fact remained that it was a very good excuse, especially with Sofu forging a whole folder of psychological reports that Leon could show to back up the excuse.
It was getting late when Jill finally took her leave, thanking D for his hospitality. D set about getting dinner ready, knowing how famished Leon was after training with his grandfather. He hummed the little cricket song from Pinocchio as he chopped up vegetables. Tet-Chan wandered in and decided to beg for some scraps. D smiled and patted his head affectionately as he fed him some meat.
"Tet-Chan, will you go get Leon for dinner?"
Tet-Chan growled at the name. He'd been avoiding the Detective since his first arrival. D had been attempting to find some solution to the animosity between the two. It wasn't going very well, but he kept hope that at some point the two would get along. D gave Tet-Chan a look and the Tou Tetsu finally went off in search of the annoying human. He wandered into Leon's chambers, sniffing around and wrinkling his nose at the heavy masculine scent that Leon carried. The human wasn't in the main bedroom, but the scent was stronger in the bathroom.
He opened the door and shuffled into the bathroom, wary of retaliation from the human, only to stop short. There in the bathtub, Leon had sunk below the surface of the water. Tet-Chan swiftly changed forms and pulled the human up. He wasn't breathing and Tet-Chan was highly aware of the fact that humans needed to breathe to live. That meant, that Leon was dead. In shock, he let the human slide back into the tub, head lolling to the side. The one thought that kept rolling through his mind in big neon lights was, he didn't want to be the one that told Count D that his favorite human was dead.
To be continued...
hakama - I looked this up, it's what samurai and other warriors wear. Hope it's accurate.
boken - looked this up too, I didn't know that boken were used by assassins, very interesting!
"yoi" and "hajime" - they mean "Ready" and "Begin", they're karate terminology, but I feel that it's appropriate, that and I don't know any swordfighting terminology O_o
Jill and Tet-Chan! Figured it was time to put some more people in there, don't worry Jill will show up more later and sorry if Tet-Chan is weirdly OOC, I can't help it!