[FFML] [fic][rk][cont] Rurouni Yahiko Chapter 9: The Peculiar Cockpit
gabriel_gabdiel at yahoo.com
Thu Sep 15 13:53:26 PDT 2011
"The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the
egg, not by smashing it."
(Arnold H. Glasgow)
A Rurouni Kenshin Continuation fic
By Chester Castañeda
chester.castaneda at gmail.com
gabriel_gabdiel at yahoo.com
It's time to "Flip the Bird of the End of the Era".
Chapter 9: The Peculiar Cockpit
Yahiko wagged a finger at Outa while lightly smacking the kid's wrist.
"YOU COULD AT LEAST SHOW A LI'L MORE SYMPATHY TO THE ONE WHO'S INJURED,
YOSHI-BOY!" Gan complained at Yahiko's sandals, which was completely
reasonable considering his present vantage point. "I was just trying to
be sociable to the tyke, hugging him for friendliness's sake, but then
he had the gall to kick me in the family jewels! And now he gets away
with it with a literal slap on his wrist? WHERE THE HELL IS THE JUSTICE
Yahiko rolled his eyes, sighed, grabbed Outa by the shoulders, then
thrust the boy at Gan's direction. "Apologize to the man, Outa-kun. By
the gods, I know Gan had that kick to the crotch coming to him, but I
guess it's not his fault that he looked like a gigantic pedophile just a
few minutes ago."
To himself, Yahiko mumbled, "Dammit, you shouldn't even know what a
pedophile is, no thanks to your father," before continuing, "Go on,
Outa-kun, say that you're so--"
"EEEEEKK!" Minoe shrieked girlishly as a raging banshee emerged from the
depths of darkness.
"What's this I hear about rapists with a taste for little boys? Is this
the guy who tried to violate my sweet little brother's innocence? How
_dare_ you touch Outa, you disgusting, lecherous MONSTER! 'NO' MEANS
'NO', YOU PERVERT! NO TOUCHIE! NO TOUCHIE!"
A flurry of dustpan whacks, broom thrusts, and not-so-righteous-but-
definitely-female indignation assaulted Gan's senses. The luckless thug
felt more confused than hurt by the attacks, but somehow they still made
him feel quite mortified about the whole situation. He hated being
misunderstood and put out of the loop.
There was no other way for Yahiko to sum up the bored expression on his
face after seeing Outa's big sister Uki other than the non-word, "Geh."
"Um, Yahiko-chi? Do you and that crazy young lady know each other or
something? Because those furtive glances she's been giving you is kind
of creepier than the enraged look she has trained on Gan-chi," Minoe
anxiously surmised as he gently stroked and calmed the frightened
Sanosuke chicken down, but Yahiko didn't seem to mind the one-eyed man's
concerns... at least until he was forced to block Uki's sudden broom
strike with his sheathed-and-wrapped-up sword.
"HEY! What's the big idea, hitting me with your broom? What did _I_ do
to you, Triangle Head?" Yahiko asked--well, _confronted_ the irate girl
who indeed had her hair parted in such a way that her forehead looked
like a triangle.
As a side note, Uki didn't even flinch or rise to Yahiko's usual temper-
baiting insults _not_ because of her maturity but because, sad to say,
she'd by then been desensitized of Yahiko's name-calling to the point of
Who could blame her, though? After hearing the infamous moniker from the
foul-mouthed Tokyoite far too many times to count, it was only natural
for her to not care; it can get real old fast. Unfortunately, that wasn't
the case for either Minoe or Gan.
"Triangle Head," murmured Minoe, slack-jawed in wonderment.
"She really is a triangle head, isn't she?" Gan agreed. "Nice one, Yoshi-
"What's the big idea? WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA? Okay, smartass! Answer me
this," Uki fumed as she wielded her broom with a violent grace that
would've made either Chizuru or Kaoru proud (and jealous). "Why didn't
you _do_ anything to that big, scary pervert who tried to assault my
little brother? And here I thought you stood for protecting the
innocent, truth, justice, and all those other awesome stuff! If only my
big brother can see you now...!"
"...." detailed the alleged pedophile, unwilling to quip, banter, or
even get up from the ground lest he got whapped on the head with a broom
"Oh, for the love of... Are you kidding me? Didn't you know that it was
your 'little' brother who's responsible for Gan's Roundhouse Falsetto?
He needs as much protection as Sanosuke needs extra bandages!"
Outa tilted his head to the side in mute understanding. So that was the
reason why Yahiko didn't recognize his rendition of "Wrath of the End of
the Era"; he unwittingly did another move altogether! The little boy
took note of this important factoid. Who knew that crotch-kicking was so
complex and deep?
"WHAT? How'd you know this man's name? You're now hanging around with
perverts, Yahiko? Say it isn't so! I mean, what would Sanosuke-niichan
say once he finds out about this?"
"Bu-kurk?" clucked Sanosuke.
Yahiko's face immediately turned a frustrated scarlet for an assortment
of reasons: namely, appearing like he was sticking up for the Goony Gan,
the sheer inability of Uki to listen to reason when it came to Outa's
well-being, and the fact that he inwardly agreed with Uki's assessment
for the most part. Nonetheless, he had enough presence of mind to
retort, "Yeah? Well you're an overprotective, triangle-headed shrill,"
Okay, the term "presence of mind" was a bit of a stretch there. What was
the resulting but fully expected aftermath to that tactless remark? A
nigh-encore of Uki-styled "Roundhouse Falsetto", of course. As Uki
attacked, she wondered what her version of the low blow's name should
be: "Groin Pains" or "Tossed Salad and Scrambled Eggs"?
It was a good thing for Yahiko that his inner thigh was able to "block"
the kick's trajectory. Okay, so that wasn't really a good (or smart)
thing for him to do either, but considering what could've happened
("Testicles in the Left Ventricle," anyone?), it was a fortunate event
for him all the same.
Anyhow, from "EEYOOWCH!" onwards, the sheer foulness of Yahiko's potty
mouth unleashed a plethora of curses and expletives that reflected his
street rat, yakuza background.
Minoe hit his fist onto his palm in dawning comprehension amidst the
groans, grunts, and colorful language, unconsciously letting the prized
Sanosuke chicken go. "Oh, I get it. Triangle Head!"
Gan finally mustered the courage to get up from his wretched prone
position, only to cowardly suggest to the pained, sailor-lipped Yahiko,
"Come on, Yoshi-boy! I don't know about you, but I'd rather face Kaori-
neechan's wrath than go meet the rest of these crazies you call friends!
I mean, if your chicken expert's _children_ are like this, then I don't
want to meet _him_ at all!"
"Don't you dare insult me, my brother, and my father in one sentence,
you creepy child predator!" Uki shot back, her eyes shiftily darting
back and forth from Outa to Gan, acting as a decoy of sorts while her
little brother snuck up from behind the unwitting thug and prepared to
launch a second "Wrath of the End of the Era" right into Gan's already
Minoe coughed primly and thrust his arms forward, presenting the
Sanosuke chicken before Yahiko and the others just in the nick of time.
"Before we all forget ourselves in this overly friendly... romp of
sorts, methinks it's about time we went inside and did what we were
supposed to do. Right, Yahiko-chi? Gan-chi?"
And all of them just _stared_.
"Why are you holding your hands out like that?" one of the four--it
didn't really matter who, but it most probably wasn't Outa--questioned
the eccentric, wig-wearing man.
"Monchiron, it's Sanosuk--eh? Eh? EH? UWAAAA!" Minoe just realized, as
noted before, that his hands were now empty and chicken-less. "Sano-chi
has escaped from my grasp! He was here just a minute ago, I swear! Why
do they always keep on leaving me behind? Help, Gan-chi! Yahiko-chi!"
"Eh? Sanosuke?" Uki gasped as Outa mouthed the familiar name, the
siblings searching left and right for any sign of their long lost
Henceforth, chaos ensued--if it hadn't been ensuing earlier already.
"You little brat! You were going to kick my nuts again, weren't you?
Shit, I'm going to give you such a spanking that you wouldn't be able to
sit down for weeks!"
"Leave my younger brother alone, pervert! Don't you dare lay one hand on
his cute little butt!"
"Here Sano, Sano, Sano-chi... Ah! Kitsune-chi? What are you...? WAH! The
bats! All the bats are back! OWIE! No, please--THIS IS JUST SO RANDOM!"
"Hey, Rooster or Hen Head, where are you?"
"Yahiko, I demand that you tell me where my big brother is and why
you're calling him a Hen Head!"
"Just wait till I get my hands on you, you iiiiiiIIIIIIIIIIIIIIMMMP...!"
"Wow, the big pedophile just screamed and whimpered like a girl. That...
was moderately disturbing."
"WHAT THE BIG, FAT, FLYING BUDDHA IS GOING ON HERE? KAMI-SAMA-DAMMIT!"
From there on end, chaos just got its ass kicked care of Kamishimoemon
As soon as the imposing Kamishimoemon Higashidani, father of Sanosuke
Sagara (nee Higashidani), woke up from all the commotion going on
outside his home, checked out what was going on, found out what was
going on, shouted his head off in unbridled rage, and administered
suitable punishments for all of the culprits, Gan and Yahiko excused
themselves briefly and re-caught his son's namesake--the loose,
genderless chicken--and took it to the old man's "office" (which was
just a fancy way of describing his futon space inside the rather Spartan
Even so, everyone had their equal share of the Higashidani Patriarch's
unrestrained ire. Everyone. Yes, even his beloved children; because his
kicking of their asses built their character, or so he claimed.
He made all of them kneel on individual mats of rock salt as penalty for
disturbing his peace. Completely kowtowed, everyone waited silently for
the middle-aged authoritarian's signal for them to begin talking and
explaining the current state of affairs.
"Just for the record, I definitely like the Sakaguchis better than these
Higashidani loons, Yoshi-boy," Gan clandestinely murmured to Yahiko's
ear, but instantly went statue-still after Kamishimoemon directed an
earnest glare at him.
"So, who are you two?" Kamishimoemon demanded, pointing a callused and
rigid finger at the short, eye-patched man first, and then at the big,
burly, and (as of that moment) falsetto-capable hoodlum second. "I've
never seen you before."
"Uh, I'm Minoe Munenori, sir. It's so nice to meet you! Actually, I'm
on..." Minoe meekly started, his head held low, but Kamishimoemon merely
raised his hand to stop him from continuing any further.
"That's enough. And how about you, hooligan? Have I beaten you up
before? Sorry, it's just that all thugs look alike to me."
Gan bowed curtly, thumped his chest, and declared, "Actually, I'm known
in most fighting, gambling, and eating circles as the Great Gan, but my
real name is--!"
Again, Kamishimoemon lifted his hand to disrupt the brutish ruffian's
longwinded introduction. "Okay. That's all I needed to know." He turned
towards Yahiko. "And what's this about, kid?" He pointed at the tied-up
chicken sitting on his lap. "Explain quickly, because I want to get back
to my nap as soon as possible, and I don't want this bird to make a mess
in our hut."
"Uh, okay. Sure. Um, Mister Kamishi... Higashi... Er, can I just call
you Higa-san, sir?" Yahiko politely asked.
Kamishimoemon shook his head. "Nope, you can't."
"How about...?" Minoe suggested.
"Well then--" Gan ventured.
"Then how about...!" Yahiko blinked, surprised that Kamishimoemon didn't
interrupt him, which made him blurt out, "K-K-Kami-sama?" by accident.
Yes, it was just another case of him being a smartass, but ironically--
"Okay. I approve," the alleged "Kami-sama" affirmed.
Groaning inwardly--aside from the joke's usual absurdity, Yahiko had
already heard Kaoru _Kamiya_ use the same gag on him once before--the
Tokyo Samurai sarcastically implored, "Oh, Kami-sama, we need your help.
The reason I came here is..."
He took one look at Gan and Minoe, cringed as they waved back, and then
continued, "Long story short, we're just here to find out if that there
chicken is a hen or a rooster. That's it. It has something to do with
this meathead's debt to a couple of folks back in Nojiri, and I'm not
even completely sure why Minoe is here, but like I said, it's a long
"Yup, we're basically just here to find out the gender of Sano--Humph!"
Minoe mumbled after Gan grabbed hold of the oblivious blabbermouth's
While hunting for the escaped Sanosuke chicken earlier, Yahiko had
warned the thug that they'd made the terrible faux pas of inadvertently
naming the sex-confused bird after "Kami-sama's" only begotten son...
besides Outa, of course. So they'd both agreed that any mention of that
fact to Kamishimoemon must be avoided at all costs. Too bad nobody told
Minoe about it, though.
It was also unfortunate that Uki chose that particular moment to _not_
be slow on the uptake in regards to the situation. The rambunctious girl
quickly put two and two together and soon realized why her big brother's
name kept popping up every time the genderless bird was nearby.
"What do you say, K-Kami-sama?" Yahiko blanched at the blasphemy his
mouth was spouting out. "I've heard from Sano that you're quite the
chicken expert back in the day. Maybe you can help us out with this
dilemma of ours. Come on, my teaching of Outa the art of kendo has to
count for something! Please, K-K-Kami... Mister Higashidani!"
Kamishimoemon actually did have some familiarity and know-how in poultry
husbandry. He gained it during his stay in Hokkaido when he was just a
young, up-and-coming yakuza thug competing in the underground gambling
and cockfighting scene.
Sure, it was a questionable profession, and Kamishimoemon was never
proud of that shadowy time in his life, but that was beside the point.
Regardless, his previous line of work was also, no doubt, a fantastic
way to gather a lot of important contacts in a short period of time.
As a result of his past experiences, the man with the hard-to-pronounce
first and last name got to make a myriad of friends (and enemies) in the
poultry industry. He even made friends with bigwigs who operated some of
the largest egg farms in Japan. They were such good comrades that he was
obliged to help his old buddies' businesses branch out, offering them a
stake in the Shinshu marketplace.
These facts did beg the question, "Why were the Higashidanis living in
squalor if they were so well off?" Well, just like his stubborn son,
Kamishimoemon wasn't the kind of man who relied upon friends in high
places to improve his lot in life. In fact, he hated sycophants who did
just that the most.
"Kami-sama" eventually gave his blessing to Yahiko and his comrades with
a shrug and a sigh. "Why not? I'm already awake anyway. Let's kill some
time. What do you want me to do?"
"Hooray for Sano-chi!" Minoe celebrated after managing to take Gan's
hand off his mouth by nearly biting it off.
"B-By 'Sano-chi', Patches meant... Sano Tsunetami. The Hakuaisha guy.
Yeah. Hooray for the Red Cross Man!" Gan punned lamely after slamming
Minoe's face straight into a spare mat filled with salt.
Amidst the "AH, IT BURNS!" cry of horror, a pink-faced Uki started to
open her mouth to protest, but Kamishimoemon silenced her with a wave of
his authoritative finger.
Alas, this was not enough to stop her or any other Higashidani, for it
had always been in the Higashidani bloodline to be tooth-and-nail
adamant whenever they focused upon an idea or matter of grave importance
to them; each and every last one of them, actually.
This explained Sanosuke's utter hatred for the Meiji Government and his
steadfast loyalty to the Sekihoutai, Uki's manic-obsessive, mother-hen
protectiveness of her little brother Outa, Kamishimoemon's desire to
always have the last say in any conversation, and Outa's determination
to not speak at all if he could help it. They were, simply put, a
family of really stubborn people.
"But Dad, they named that weird chicken after Sanosuke-niichan! Oh, and
the big, hairy man is a child molester! He wanted to slap Outa's butt!"
Uki complained, which made both Gan and Outa shift uncomfortably on
their salted mats.
"Oh, give it a rest already, Cone Head--No offense meant to your
beautiful daughter and her perfectly symmetrical hairdo, Mister Kami-
sama!" Gan mouthed off, quickly backpedaling at the last minute after
getting a sneak peek of a pissed-off "God".
"You can't possibly buy their cock-and-bull malarkey! It's a 'long
story', indeed! I refuse to have Outa interacting with such bizarre and
questionable characters! More to the point, it's high-time that he quit
his silly little kendo classes in Tokyo and stayed home here with his
loving family in Shinshu where he belongs! He couldn't possibly learn
anything worthwhile from the likes of," Uki's upper lip curled to a
sneer, "Myojin Yahiko."
"HEY!" Yahiko objected, but didn't say anything more than that. He'd had
this debate with Uki in regards to Outa's decision to train and stay in
the Kamiya Dojo for far too many times to count. To rekindle the flames
of such an unwinnable argument would be an exercise in Pyrrhic futility.
That, and Yahiko was sick and tired of coping with Uki's hardheadedness.
Sure, they had tried to compromise with one another time and time again,
but as mentioned before, Uki simply couldn't be reasoned with when it
came to Outa's safety. Yes, she was just looking out for her little
brother, and of course she feels lonely and abandoned because her two
insensitive siblings left her and her father in a huff to seek their own
selfish fortunes, but still...
Nevertheless, Outa's rolling of his eyes just then revealed more about
his feelings towards this messy situation than any acerbic retort from
"Really? They've unwittingly named this chicken after my bird-brained,
deadbeat son? That's HILARIOUS!" Through the miracle of hearing only
what he wanted to hear... selective hearing, if you will...
Kamishimoemon gleefully guffawed till he busted his gut, finding the
whole naming situation uproariously entertaining for some unfathomable
reason while ignoring the rest of Uki's complaints. "Why can't you tell
this bird's gender, pray tell?"
"Um, it has both male and female characteristics, Mister Kami-sama sir,"
Gan sheepishly explained, bowing down and wringing his hands in
After hearing that, Kamishimoemon exploded in side-splitting fits of
uncontainable mirth. Once he recovered, he held the frightened chicken
up to his nose and needled, "So much for your desperate attempts at
machismo, Rooster Head! Or perhaps I should call you Hen Head now? It's
funny because you have the waistline of a fourteen-year-old girl!
'Is he still talking about the chicken, or about Sanosuke?' Yahiko
"But Dad...!" Uki whined, pouting petulantly.
"Oh, sweetheart. Like the big, fat pedophile said, you should give your
worries a rest. Besides, it'll take more than a large, hairy cradle
robber to take a Higashidani down! Outa is more than capable of handling
himself," Kamishimoemon reassured Uki in the most un-reassuring way
"Ah," Gan interjected in his defense.
"You're not going to let some big, overgrown muscle-head make you toss
his salad, are you, kiddo?" Kamishimoemon confidently challenged Outa,
affectionately ruffling his son's hair. Outa could only manage a
crooked, tentative smile in response.
"I blame _you_ for this," Uki hissed at Yahiko. "You--!"
"Mister Higashidani," Yahiko hazarded, cutting Uki off, "is that chicken
a hen or a rooster?"
Kamishimoemon looked at the bird curiously and then said, "Hmmm. I don't
know. I couldn't tell with one look. I have never run across a biddy
like this before, to tell you the truth."
"Is there any way you can tell?" Gan brusquely asked Kamishimoemon with
a firmer, more daring tone than Yahiko's, his sudden adrenalin rush at
the prospect of decisively affirming his prized chicken's male gender
making him throw caution to the wind.
Kamishimoemon shrugged. "Why sure. No problem. Look at the feathers on
its back. If the ends are round, then it's a she. If they're pointed,
then it's a he."
Gan grinned from ear-to-ear and nudged Yahiko on the ribs. "It's better
than trying to find out if the chicken has a pee-pee or a punani...
Ain't that right, Yoshi-boy?"
Yahiko brushed the thug off. "Don't talk to me. Don't even touch me."
The five of them--Uki didn't want to have anything to do with the
abnormal chicken--examined the bird's feathers closely. It had both!
"Hmm. Very peculiar," Kamishimoemon assessed. "How very peculiar
After helping Gan resist the urge to say something stupid like, "No
shit, mister detective! I think you've just cracked the case!" by
tossing salt right into the brute's eyes, Minoe courteously queried, "Is
there any _other_ way you can tell Sano-chi's gender, Kami-sama-chi?"
"Well, I could kill it and examine its insides," Kamishimoemon
obligingly suggested throughout Gan's screams of "My eyeballs are on
fire! Wait, what...? Hey!"
Ergo, Minoe immediately grabbed "Sano-chi" out of Kamishimoemon's hands
with the intention of escaping with the bird. His intentions never came
to fruition though, thanks to Gan's untimely backhanded strike on the
ninja-like man's face.
"No, I don't want that chicken killed! He's going to make me a fortune
at the cockpits just as soon as I get proof that he's a he!" Gan cried
out and sputtered after realizing what Kamishimoemon was suggesting.
Unfortunately, Gan was facing (and inadvertently scaring) Outa instead
of Kamishimoemon because of his burning-red eyeballs and lack of depth
perception. This, of course, incurred the implacable wrath of Uki,
earning him a hard smack on the nose and cat scratches on his face.
"Oh, for God's sake, will you all please quiet down and stop the Manzai
Standup Routine already? Because none of you are even from Osaka in the
first place!" Yahiko snapped. 'These guys make the Juppon Gatana look
like mundane, well-adjusted, and normal people!'
"Thank you for quieting those morons down for _my_ sake, Yahiko-kun,"
Kamishimoemon drolly quipped, much to Yahiko's growing chagrin. "Besides
which, I was just joking! We don't need to cut your chicken up into
broth-sized cubes or whatnot. I actually have a better idea in finding
out your bird's sex... and it's through bird sex!"
Everybody just had to facefault after that. The utter cheesiness and
lameness of Kamishimoemon's pun was just too much for most _anyone_ to
"I'm almost afraid to ask, but... what do you mean?" Yahiko questioned
"Well, I have a couple of hens back in the yard that some of my old
cockpit colleagues donated to me as thanks for letting them be part of
the Shinshu Market. Not as many hens you'd see in an egg farm, but
quite enough for my family to get by," Kamishimoemon explained, adding,
"We can discover your chicken's gender by how it acts around the hens.
It's that simple. If it begins copulating, then we have our answer!"
"Hmmm. Well, I guess that makes sense. Let's do it! It's only through
the amazing powers of sex that we'll truly discover the answers to our
universal questions!" came Gan's faux philosophical drivel, which
prompted Uki to hastily cover Outa's innocent ears as she glowered at
the thoughtless, insensitive, and perverted brute.
"What are you doing, Yahiko-chi?"
Yahiko, ever the smart aleck, followed Uki's lead and did the same thing
to Minoe's naive and presumably virginal ears.
"For the record, Outa and I are _definitely_ sitting your silly little
game out. Do whatever makes you happy, boys. Follow your perverted,
disgusting dreams!" Uki announced in a huff, standing up from her
kneeling position and dusting her knees off of salt. She afterwards
called out, "Outa, it's time for bed."
Outa gave the four men a pitiful, puppy-dog stare before Uki forcefully
led him off to his designated futon space in the smallish Higashidani
"All right, then! To the sexy chicken yard!" Minoe marshaled, cheerfully
pointing towards the yard despite his perspiring compatriots' collective
expressions of vexation.
And so the quartet went onwards to the Higashidanis' backyard and put
the strange "hen-cock" inside Kamishimoemon's miniature chicken pen--a
cage that housed about six hens donated by the old codger's so-called
breeder buddies. After which, they all quietly waited in the outer
fringes of the hen house, observing the gender-bending bird's resulting
reaction and subsequent behavior around the opposite/its own sex.
As time passed, it became obvious that none of those half-dozen chickens
would even associate with the weird bird. Not only did they keep as far
away from it as best they could, but they did not even seem to care to
which gender it belonged. Unembarrassed by all this, Sanosuke chased and
disgraced several pullets.
Kamishimoemon nodded in approval. "That's the Higashidani way, my boy!
Man, if only my eldest had half your manliness, he'd be married by now."
"HA! I won the bet! All right! Banzai!" Gan exclaimed proudly, pumping
his fist at the moonlit sky in celebration. "That should prove to you
that Sano's a damn fine rooster; eh, Yoshi-boy?"
Minoe merely raised an eyebrow in apparent disapproval of Gan's gauche
observation. "Oh really? So a rooster raping a couple of hens makes for
a shining example of true manhood? Is that the way it works?"
"Er, monchiron?" came Gan's not-so-witty comeback as he awkwardly tugged
at his collar in growing discomfort. "Why are you so mad anyway? Don't
get your britches up in a bunch, Patches! The chickens are only having
some harmless romance. Besides which, 'Sano-chi' just wants to prove to
our mule-headed samurai boy that he's a man's man; a prizewinning
rooster, at that!"
"It proves nothing of the sort," Yahiko adamantly insisted, his arms
crossed over his chest as he shook his head in complete disagreement.
"It only proves that Sanosuke has rooster instincts, but it could still
be a hen."
"Oh, COME ON! Are you blind? What kind of bullshit is that, saying that
my pedigree cock is a pussy? Blow it out your ass!" Gan at last flew off
the handle, unwilling to take anymore of Yahiko's prejudiced and
uncalled-for hardheadedness. "Come look and see for yourself, son;
Sanosuke's rubbing himself all over those pullets like sandpaper in
heat! Next you're going to tell me that I have a lesbian hen for a pet
Yahiko shrugged. "Stranger things have happened. Why not?"
From there, an infuriated Gan screamed a sordid expletive at Yahiko,
which Sanosuke quickly followed to the letter. For two hours straight.
Not one hen was spared. By then, even the unusually standoffish Minoe
became awestruck by the chicken's endurance and resiliency in its
relentless bird-mating marathon.
"Man, look at him go! Now _that's_ a sex drive. Give our rooster a
cigarette. Or better yet, let's blow some cigarette smoke over his butt
so that he could perform better in his upcoming cockfight," Gan
remarked, practically sneering at Yahiko in unremitting smugness. "So
what excuse have you come up with this time, Yoshi-boy? I dare you to
prove that my stud's a chick!"
"Only a woman knows how to satisfy a woman," an unperturbed Yahiko
nonchalantly rationalized. "That hen of yours is simply butch enough to
make an entire colony of chickens die out; that is, none of the hens
would ever want to mate with a rooster after getting a taste of _that_
Completely stymied, Gan disputed Yahiko's statement, growling, "Okay,
genius! Where's _your_ proof that Sano-kun's a hen, huh? At least I have
something to back my claims up. What do you have? What makes you so sure
that Sanosuke's a hen anyway? Eh?"
Yahiko rolled his eyes. "I don't know. But neither do you. Contrary to
what you seem to believe, the simple fact that Sanosuke is harassing all
those hens means that no conclusions can be drawn."
"YOU'RE UNBELIEVABLE, MAN! The proof is right in front of you, and you
just ignore it! Sanosuke could be humping your leg at this very moment,
and you still won't believe he's a rooster!"
"Well, yeah. If that bird were humping my leg, then I won't believe it's
a rooster. Because I'll probably be thinking that it's a dog in a
chicken suit, you dolt! What kind of bird humps people's legs, anyway?"
Yahiko riposted acerbically.
"THAT'S IT! I've just had about enough of you and your bullshit, old
man!" Gan snarled, unaware of his slip of the tongue as he cocked his
closed fist threateningly at Yahiko to express his mounting aggravation.
If he couldn't convince the Tokyoite street punk that Sanosuke was a
rooster, then what more the Shinshu cockfighting officials? What a
troublesome dilemma for Gan to experience indeed.
On his part, Yahiko merely raised a suspicious eyebrow. "...Old man?"
"Boys, boys, please!" Minoe butted in, interposing himself between the
two enraged men while wagging his index finger in motherly admonishment.
"Let's just calm ourselves down, forget about Sano-chi's unbecoming
perverseness for a minute, and remember just why we're going through all
this trouble of finding out whether that chicken is a boy or a girl
anyway. You _do_ remember why we're doing this, right?"
Both Gan and Yahiko stared at Minoe blankly.
The eye-patched man resignedly sighed before elucidating, "Gan-chi owes
the Sakaguchi Soba Shop money for all the food he'd eaten because he
lost a bet in an eating contest with you, Yahiko-chi. He also owes me
money for eating all of my sempai's meat buns. Don't even think I've
forgotten about that, Gan-chi. In any event, Yahiko-chi and I chased and
caught the fleeing Gan-chi, only to be introduced to Gan-chi's 'special
baby', Sano-chi. Gan-chi alleges that Sano-chi will solve all of his
financial debts by having it compete and win in a cockfight. But then
Yahiko-chi points out that Sano-chi is a hen, so it can't compete in a
cockfight... a henfight, maybe. Conversely, Gan-chi insists that Sano-
chi is a rooster. Conflict ensues; and here we are now! Oh, and I've
been inexplicably attacked by a horde of bats on three separate
occasions. Do you have any questions so far? Did I miss anything?"
Gan rubbed his large, stubble-strewn lantern jaw contemplatively. "Oh
yeah. Thanks, Patches."
Yahiko nodded his head slowly in dawning remembrance. "Nice catch,
Minoe. We got carried away with the chicken gender thing."
During all this time, Sanosuke didn't even have the decency to let up
with his romancing of the hens. Then, before any of the three unlikely
comrades had a chance to complain, Kamishimoemon took the plumed and
horny creature in his arms and announced, "Play time's over, boys.
There's only one way for us to tell whether this bird is a rooster or a
hen. We'll have to..."
"Dissect the chicken?"
"Wait for any of the eggs your hens will lay from now on to hatch into a
bouncing baby bird?"
"Accept the fact that Sano-chi's a hermaphrodite without ostracizing the
"Shut up, you three stooges," the cantankerous Kamishimoemon barked as
he conked the three men's noggins with seemingly practiced ease. Back in
his hut, his two beloved children reflexively covered their heads,
"_Anyway_, what I had in mind is to have your genderless chicken compete
in a preliminary cockfight match in the very bowels of the Shinshu
Market. These matches are held in the 'bowels' of the market because
cockfighting is a, shall we say, hush-hush business around these parts.
At any rate, the match has to be made tonight. Tomorrow's no good,
because tomorrow is Ass Wednesday. I kick ass on Ass Wednesday."
"That's fine by me, Kami-sama! Truth be told, that's what would've
happened at the very beginning had Yoshi-boy not gotten in my way! The
sooner we have Sanosuke competing in the cockfighting circuit, the
better!" Gan corroborated as he gingerly patted the painful lump on his
head. He then faced Yahiko and brazened out, "This is my ultimatum to
you, Yoshi-boy; would you agree that Sanosuke is a rooster if he fights
in a cockpit and then _wins_?"
"If this butch hen of yours can beat a gamecock, I would believe
anything," Yahiko confirmed, unruffled by the ruffian's
superciliousness. "But if that doesn't happen, then 'Sano-chi' there is
as good as chicken soup. Got it?"
Gan harrumphed. "I have no worries."
"It's settled, then. Now go forth to meet the shadowy future without
fear and with a manly heart," Kamishimoemon urged, which earned him
oversold applause from three very sarcastic individuals. "Bite me, you
fucking pieces of shit," he drawled afterwards.
Hours later, on the way to the Shinshu Market...
The moon was as the moon did; it glimmered brightly in the dark heavens.
It glowed through wispy clouds, it got obstructed by puffy ones, and it
ascended during dusk and set at dawn. Stable and banal, you could always
count on this celestial body to act in a predictable manner.
Still, one could argue that perhaps the moonlight was just a _little_
redder over Shinshu that evening. Maybe it was the anticipation for that
night's cockfighting tournament. Most likely, it was an atmospheric
phenomenon that people during that time couldn't even begin to
comprehend, but that point was moot.
Then again, perhaps it was the bloodthirsty mood it setup that had
Sanosuke the chicken pondering his or her life and his or her
circumstances as he or she got ready for what could be a massacre of
The entourage of Yahiko, Gan, Minoe, Kamishimoemon, and their strange,
androgynous chicken trudged onward the unpaved moonlit road, making
their way into the maze-like junctions of rice paddies while crows flew
away in their wake. During all this time, both the frightened, gender-
ambiguous bird and the trembling, gender-confused Minoe noticed the
land around them becoming more lifeless, dreary, and ashen. With each
passing yard, fewer vegetation grew on the ground.
Initially, it was the trees that gradually vanished. Then the shrubs and
bushes followed suit. Ultimately, the lush fields of wheat and other
miscellaneous crops that Nagano was known for gave way to a desolate,
quarry-like landscape that sported only a few snatches of die-hard weeds
here and there.
Add that to the fact that the darkness sucked out all the color from
their surroundings, and it made for quite a foreboding sight. You could
toss piles of skulls around the place and they would probably fit right
Yahiko and the gang worked their way around the limits of the village of
Suwa and out across the inhospitable panorama that bordered the grimy
outskirts of Nojiri. The air in the area was strangely stale and
moisture-free; just to prove that point, a fleeting gale from out of
nowhere produced a swirl of dust that instantaneously covered their
mouths with dirt. It now seemed as though their tongues were suddenly
robbed of their saliva and caked with grime, which made them all feel
filthy and bone dry from within. It wasn't a pleasant experience at all.
Minoe was so freaked out by the oddly thematic and ominous scenario that
he briefly considered using his already forgotten ninjutsu skills--the
ones that he had used to dubious effect during his introductory
appearance--to save "Sano-chi" from a fate worse than (or at least
roughly equivalent to) certain death.
Alas, he'd already forgotten his already forgotten ninjutsu skills along
with his use of normal, non-baby-talk honorifics, so all seemed hopeless
for both him and the fallacious fowl.
Then, before any of the four of them even realized it, the bustling
Shinshu Wet Market was already in front of them. Even during that unholy
hour, the various stalls and shops were still abuzz with excitement--
obviously for reasons other than selling meat and vegetables, since it
was already way past their closing time.
To cope with their mutual feelings of growing discomfort and distress,
Gan decided to break the ice by bringing up something that'd been
bothering him for quite a while now.
"Looks like Kami-sama has come up with the same conclusion as I have--
that the only way to find out Sano-kun's true gender is through a brutal
chicken brawl at the cockpits! Of course, this begs the question, 'Why
did we need to consult with Kami-sama at all?' I myself could have told
you the same thing without going through all that unnecessary trouble
from the get go, Yoshi-boy!"
"Well, without consulting Kami-sama-chi, you probably wouldn't even have
the chance to go inside the Shinshu cockpits at all, let alone have
Sano-chi fight in it. Also, as I recall, the reason for this whole wild
goose chase is because of your little bet against Yahiko-chi, correct?
As such, whose money are you going to use to bet on Sano-chi during his
or her fight, Gan-chi?" Minoe innocently pointed out in perturbing yet
reasonable detail, much to Gan's teeth-grinding chagrin and Yahiko's own
sheepish consternation ("sheepish" in the sense that he thought he
should have figured out the same thing by himself).
"Er," Gan wisecracked. "N-Never mind that! You're missing the point!
This cockfight isn't about food debts, chicken sex, and the root of all
evil! This is about masculine honor, the unconquerable human spirit, and
the courage of real men! To surpass your limits and kick logic's ass
from here to Sunday; that's where it's at! Don't just believe in
Sanosuke, believe in me! Believe in me, who believes in Sanosuke, who
also believes in himself! Just shut up and believe, Patches; BELIEVE
Even the usually sharp-tongued Yahiko didn't know what to retort to
that. However, an unmoved Minoe strangely countered, "Sure, but if all
your friends were named Cliff, would you jump off them? I don't think
"...." everybody affirmed.
Yahiko's head was practically throbbing like a second heart at that
point. "Minoe, that's enough; this back and forth of you making sense
and not making sense is altering reality as we speak. As for you, Gan,
it's painfully obvious to anybody paying attention that your needlessly
elaborate plot is just a harebrained scheme you've concocted to confirm
that you _do_ have a prized rooster in your hands before running away
from all your debtors because you never had any intention of sharing
your fine-feathered treasure with anyone else from the start."
Gan froze and squirmed, mostly because Yahiko's assertions hadn't merely
hit close to home, but instead pinpointed each and every last flaw of
his "brilliant" plan. "B-But I... B-But I...!"
Yahiko harrumphed and continued, "Simply put, give us all a break and
spare us the drama. The jig is up. Also, if your answer for betting
money is to borrow some from me, how about just politely asking me to
lend you the money _that I've won from you from the get go_ instead of
going through all these pointless shenanigans, you dimwitted moron?"
"Maybe because that'd make too much sense? On the other hand, he could
simply be _that_ stupid," Minoe helpfully suggested, which earned him
an angry yet disturbing, "Okay, NOW JUST SHUT THE HELL UP, you dwarf-
sized, one-eyed, purple-wearing cuckoo whom I feel strangely attracted
to!" from a highly distraught Gan. The large man subsequently covered
his mouth and whispered, "Whoops, did I say that last part out loud?"
With a strange, unreadable look on his face, Minoe distressingly stared
at Gan for the longest time. "W-What?" the hoodlum sputtered as he
backed away from the eye-patched man's line of sight.
Minoe seemed to wake up from his trance, blinked, then worriedly asked,
"Whoops, did I say that out loud?"
"...." blabbered the dumbfounded Gan.
"Shut up, dumbasses. We're here," Kamishimoemon "Kami-sama" Higashidani
announced with certain finality.
So, in the middle of Tuesday and Wednesday, just thirty minutes before
midnight--during the time when the illegal but prevalent "pastime" of
cockfighting (since it wasn't really a "sport" by any stretch of the
imagination; a "bloodsport," maybe) unfurled its tengu wings inside the
underbelly of the beastly Shinshu Market--Yahiko and company arrived in
the murky battle arena, with the elder Higashidani acting as the motley
crew's "backer" of sorts.
Kamishimoemon eventually led them to the hidden staircase leading to the
inner sanctum of the Shinshu Market. It too, like everything else, was
black. Yahiko began to wonder if it was supposed to be the actual color
of the stairs or the effect of shadows engulfing them as midnight
Anyhow, he and the rest of his companions loathed everything about this
dark and dreary place, their instincts telling them to get away from
there as quickly as they could. Even so, since instinct and logic rarely
harmonized, they continued on with their capricious journey despite
their growing reluctance.
As the group went further into the arid bowels of the Shinshu Market,
the three supposed comrades--Yahiko, Gan, and Minoe--saw before them
what appeared to be the most miserable scene they'd ever witnessed. The
dumpy, squat, and bare stalls were all composed of thick blocks of
stone and more stone. Everything, from the ground to the shifty people
gathering about, seemed covered in gloom and darkness.
However, in stark contrast to the air outside the marketplace, the air
inside was very humid and dank; one whiff was all it took to taste the
foulness that emanated from this depressing place. As such, the quartet
did their best to hold their breaths. These hidden parts of the Shinshu
Market felt dirty and wrong to them on so many levels--a stark contrast
to the idyllic, provincial feel of the sister villages of Suwa and
Even as Yahiko, Minoe, and Gan's collective senses reeled at the many
things they were experiencing, someone suddenly moved towards them with
a resolute stride. He revealed himself to be a gaunt man of about forty
years or so of age that sported round, tinted spectacles, a chin curtain
sans mustache, gloved hands, and a wardrobe that complemented the
insidious decor of their immediate surroundings. Besides which, the
man's methodical demeanor indicated that he knew how to take care of
The three unwilling compatriots braced themselves as the stranger
neared; after all, it was better to err on the side of caution than to
regret things later on.
The man halted in front of the group, placed his hands underneath his
outfit's sleeves, and bent down. "Higashidani-kun," he noted as he rose
from his bow, his voice more gravelly than the ground they were stepping
Kamishimoemon nodded even after he came out of his own bow, coolly
regarding the newcomer with a solemn look. "Oyakata-dono. It's been a
"Over a decade," the Oyakata acknowledged.
"You have some big balls coming out here of all places. Shouldn't you be
somewhere else right now? It's very unbecoming for a person of your
stature to mix with us peasants. Were you bored out of your wits while
at work?" Kamishimoemon taunted the man he called "boss", his sarcastic
little joke going over his younger cohorts' heads like a hapless kite in
a raging storm.
"You can figure that out for yourself, I'm sure," the Oyakata tersely
admitted or denied, as though he was already used to evading such
offhanded queries with prior experience. He afterwards turned the tables
on his supposed junior and queried, "What about you? What brings you
here now of all times? I thought you've sworn off gambling."
Kamishimoemon pointed towards Sanosuke in a dramatic fashion, which
startled Minoe so bad that he almost let go of the bird. "Well, I
suddenly found myself on a betting mood ever since I've gotten a load of
that chicken over there. It's a mighty fine pedigree if I do say so
myself, though I'm not quite sure if it's even a rooster to begin with.
Regardless, I'm willing to bet that our dark horse of sorts--more like
'blackbird', but you get the idea--will beat the current Ou Shamo
champion so bad he'd be better off as a feather duster. As a matter of
fact, I'm so confident that it'll win that I named it after my own son!
What do you think?"
The Oyakata could only raise an unimpressed eyebrow. "If that's the
case, then I'm betting on the champion."
"HA! I see that you still have your winning personality, as always."
Kamishimoemon chuckled through grit teeth, grinning like a crazy shark.
The Oyakata smirked in kind, which somehow made Yahiko's spine tingle
for some reason. "You as well, Higashidani-kun."
"Um... Kami-sa--er, Higashidani-chi?" Minoe warily ventured as he subtly
voiced out his and the others' mutual feeling of concern over being left
out of the conversation.
After which, Gan kicked subtlety out into the curb and declared, "The
boys and I are feeling a bit out of place with all this ambiguous geezer
talk and stuff. Can we please move your boring and vague conversation
along so that we can get this cockfight over with sometime before the
turn of the century?"
Kamishimoemon conked Gan on the head with his bare knuckles. "Shut your
mouth and show some respect to your superiors, fool!" The middle-aged
man proceeded to clear his throat. "Anyway, I forgot to introduce you to
Oyakata-dono. This guy has sort of been my boss back in the day when I
was still a rough-and-tumble goon-for-hire--hence his moniker. Oyakata-
dono, these are the boys who brought me my fighting rooster-hen: the
spiked-haired boy is Yahiko, the big bulging moron with the bandanna is
Gan, and the meek, eye-patched man-child is Minoe. Boys, Oyakata-dono.
"I see," the Oyakata stated matter-of-factly before customarily bowing
at the three comrades. "It's a pleasure to meet you all. Your name is
Minoe, eh? Interesting name, kid."
Minoe seemed to squirm underneath his clothes--or even his own skin--
in sheer discomfort. "Thank you, sir. I think it's an interesting name
as well." Sanosuke ruffled his or her feathers aggressively; if it were
a cat, it would have hissed at the creepy bearded man.
Gan blinked and did a double-take at Minoe, feeling as though the sharp
glint in the submissive man's exposed eye didn't quite coincide with the
rest of his body language, but quickly dismissed the supposed mixed
signals as a trick of the light.
Meanwhile, the uncharacteristically silent Yahiko was currently looking
over his shoulder in apparent worry, feeling as though something... or
rather, someone... was spying on him; which as silly, because he barely
knew any of the people around Suwa save the Higashidanis. Whichever the
case, it caused him to feel a nauseating, anxious sensation in the pit
of his stomach: a forewarning, almost. It was... mostly disconcerting,
truth be told.
Also, his wounds from his previous fight to the death flared with a
burning pain that was worse than before. Of course, their aches and
sting had been bothering him from the start, but now the searing agony
presented itself to the forefront of his consciousness, distracting him
to the point of portentous madness--
"Hey, Yoshi-boy! What's the matter?"
Yahiko shook his head as if to clear it. "I thought I saw something in
the corner of my eye." He rubbed his temples as he inwardly suppressed a
shudder. "It's all right. It must have been my imagination. Shall we go,
The Oyakata raised an eyebrow at the name, then looked over the elder
Higashidani's direction in askance. Kamishimoemon shrugged helplessly, a
smug smile plastered on his mug. "'Kami-sama' is what I make Oyakata-
dono's enemies call me as I pummeled them to submission back in the day.
It's my version of 'uncle' or 'Daddy', if you will," he explained at
length to his associates, his self-satisfied grin never leaving his
"Should I even bother to look surprised?" Gan whispered to Minoe, who
was strangely applauding Kamishimoemon's antics. The latter merely
replied, "Clap if you want to live, Gan-chi!"
Of course, as per usual, Minoe's absentmindedness resulted in Sanosuke
instinctively flapping away from his hands to a safer, less life-
threatening place. To the chicken's chagrin, the Oyakata deftly caught
it by its leathery feet in one swift movement.
"Can I join you in your little cockfight, Higashidani-kun?" the bearded
man nonchalantly asked Kamishimoemon as he calmed the frightened
rooster-hen down by gently stroking its feathered nape with one of his
gloved hands. The chicken dared not instigate the Oyakata's wrath and
froze in place. "Just to kill some time."
As Kamishimoemon considered his former employer's request, tapping his
chin in a ham-fisted display of contemplation, Yahiko, Gan, and Minoe
expressed their own opinion from behind the supposed boss's back by
fervently shaking their heads from side to side. They then nearly choked
on their own spit as the Oyakata turned towards them and casually
commented, "Of course, I'll only go if it's all right with you three."
Because of the Japanese concepts of honne and tatemae, Yahiko and
company had no choice but to lie and politely say, "No problem. Of
course it's all right for you to come and join us. Please, go ahead,"
like the nice little boys that they were. They were screwed right from
the moment the Oyakata decided to manipulate their ingrained politeness
and obedience to a supposed superior or elder to his advantage.
Of course, Gan would've done away with such an arbitrary custom had he
any say on the matter, but he was outvoted two to one, and he didn't
want to embarrass himself by indulging in trivial arguments regarding
faux pas, for "Saving Face" was another important Japanese custom.
Just for reference, honne symbolized the true feelings of an individual,
which more often than not contradicted society's expectations or the
requirements of one's status in life and societal standing. These
honest, personal desires were usually kept hidden from everyone save for
one's closest and dearest comrades. On the other hand, tatemae referred
to the facade that people used to mask their honne. It was manifested as
their public behavior and represented the expectations of their
respective circumstances and community.
"Stupid Japanese hive mentality," Yahiko, Minoe, and Gan murmured to
themselves in chorused irony. All the same, Minoe wordlessly picked up
Sanosuke from the Oyakata's grasp before standing there and waiting for
either Kamishimoemon or the Oyakata to lead the way towards the actual
cockpits. Once the two old comrades started to move, Minoe and the
others soon followed suit.
Next: It's cockfighting time.
I took out a lot of material from the initial draft of this
chapter mainly because it contained elements that was incongruous
to the canon Kamishimoemon's personality.
Disclaimer: All characters used in this fanfic (save some others)
are the rightful property of Nobuhiro Watsuki and Sony. Don't sue
me please, I'm very poor.
Maraming salamat po sa pagbabasa!
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