Seeing Red 11

Sano supposed he would just have to get used to being forced to drive around in his car at times and for distances he otherwise would have avoided, at least until this ghost thing was over. And he really wanted this ghost thing to be over, so he was probably less annoyed than he might have been when Hajime called him on Tuesday afternoon and requested (more or less; ‘ordered’ might have been a better word) that Sano come to his house to review the information his police friend had emailed him.

He got lost on the way there, of course. Any location he’d visited once was the most likely to lead to this result, since he became overconfident about finding a place he’d been to before and didn’t bother asking for helpful reminders such as what street it was on. So he was already angry by the time he finally reached Hajime’s house, and then having to park a block away and hike back didn’t improve matters.

Evidently Hajime recognized his mood (hell, he’d probably picked up on it when Sano was still halfway up the street), for on opening the kitchen door at Sano’s none-too-gentle knock, he gave an extremely disdainful look and said, “So you finally decided to show up.”

“You know what?” Sano growled. “Fuck you.” And immediately felt a bit better.

Hajime grinned and let him in.

Misao was suddenly on his knee and climbing before he’d even realized she was in the room. And as these pants only had spikes up the sides, she made it through the potentially dangerous area without injury this time. Sano, on the other hand, felt anger flaring again at the painful pricking of her insistent claws all the way up his body; but since he would rather die the most horrible death he could imagine than loose his rage on a kitten, he worked even harder than usual to contain it.

Perhaps sympathizing with Sano, perhaps fearing for Misao’s safety, Hajime came to the rescue of both of them. “Those pants look even stupider than the other ones.”

Misao was asking something in her high-pitched meow and bumping her head against Sano’s ear, but Sano ignored her in favor of an irate retort to her human: “At least they’ve got some individuality, so I don’t look like some faceless office drone.”

“No, you look like someone who wasn’t allowed to wear what he wanted in high school trying to dress under his age.”

Both because this remark hit a little close to home and because he couldn’t really turn the matter around effectively when Hajime looked so damn good in those suits he always wore, Sano felt compelled to repeat himself. “Fuck you!” And to make it relevant he added, “I like my clothes!”

Evidently satisfied for the moment, Hajime grinned again and turned away.

Sano found himself now in a fit state to greet the cats. “Hi, Misao.” He lifted her off his shoulder (away from his ticklish ear) and into the crook of an elbow, where she squirmed but allowed him to scratch her head. “Hi, Tokio,” he said next to the older cat that was by now seated with great dignity at his feet.

Whatever Misao had been asking before, she now resumed, and Sano somehow had a feeling that Tokio’s more stately meow was a repetition of the question. He glanced at Hajime for a translation.

“They’re wondering where the ghost is.” The exorcist was standing in the doorway between the kitchen and the hall, leaning against the frame.

“He’ll probably be here pretty soon,” Sano grumbled, addressing one of the kitchen cupboards rather than the cats since this brought back his annoyance. “All that time I spent trying to find a place to park probably gave him a good chance to catch up.”

At that moment Misao squirmed so intensely and abruptly that Sano dropped her. This seemed to have been her intention, and she twisted in midair, landed on splayed feet with barely a sound, and ran out of the kitchen. Sano hardly had time to wonder what she was up to when she returned, dragging a whippy plastic stick by the little bundle of feathers on one end.

With the latter in her mouth, her meows came out more like squeaks, but evidently they were still intelligible to Tokio, for at Misao’s muffled explanation the older cat said something that sounded a little disdainful. Well, to Sano, most of what Tokio said sounded a little disdainful, but this one seemed to be specifically meant that way. Misao’s reply had an undaunted tone, however, as she fell onto her side right at Sano’s feet, curling up suddenly and viciously attacking the feathered end of the stick with fore and hind paws.

Regardless of his fluctuating levels of annoyance, Sano couldn’t help breaking into a grin as he watched Misao’s seeming life-or-death endeavor. In particular, the vigor with which her back legs clawed at the toy seemed calculated to disembowel it — or would have, if the thing had possessed bowels — and it was pretty funny to watch. After a couple of tries, he got hold of the flailing other end of the stick and began to direct the little cat’s violent endeavors around the kitchen floor.

“She wanted to put you in a better mood,” Hajime explained, sounding amused. “But Tokio speculated she was really more interested in some play for herself.”

Laughing, Sano had to admit that, even if the altruistic purpose had been secondary, she’d succeeded at it.

“Don’t get used to it,” warned Hajime. “Cats aren’t known for their sense of charity; she’s sure to grow out of it.”

Again Sano laughed. It wasn’t as if he’d never been around cats before, but he’d definitely never fully appreciated the twistiness of frame that allowed at least this one to attack with her full body something that was wiggling just behind her left ear.

Unfortunately, his speculation about the ghost’s probable ability to catch up had been accurate, and he’d been playing with Misao for less than two minutes when the anger she’d done so well at shunting aside was once again front and center and full force.

“God dammit,” Sano muttered. He was so tired of being pointlessly angry all the time, and it was only getting worse. Standing abruptly straight, he found Hajime and both of the cats looking past him, but he didn’t turn. He was tired of the sight of the ghost, too. Fucking ghost.

“Let’s see what we can find out about him,” Hajime said, moving back through the doorway out of the kitchen and gesturing Sano to follow.

The combination den and workroom, wherein another comfortable- (and expensive-) looking leather sofa, a TV, a number of bookshelves, and a computer desk were more or less crammed but still quite functional, Sano had already seen on Saturday. Now he stalked in and seated himself heavily on the arm of the couch with a frustrated noise.

“Sit properly or stand,” Hajime ordered as he pulled his own chair out from the desk.

“Fine,” Sano growled, and stood again.

The exorcist removed his dark blue suit jacket and set it carefully aside before taking his seat. This was the first time Sano had seen him make such a concession to the fact that he was in his own home, and he wondered whether it was because Hajime still thought of Sano as a client despite his non-paying status. If so, that was stupid.

Almost absently Hajime murmured, “I wouldn’t really expect you to understand professionalism.”

Sano was annoyed at both the statement and the fact that Hajime had picked up on the thought, but he was also interested to note that it seemed to be the things more specifically aimed at his companion that went out more readily.

For instance, when, noting that Hajime was wearing the third solid-color tie Sano had seen him in, he wondered mentally whether the man owned any patterned ones, Hajime murmured, “One or two” — whereas when Sano then reflected that solid colors were probably cheaper and easily obtained in packages of multiples, Hajime gave no indication of having heard. Of course, that might be just because it had been a phenomenally boring thought not worth responding to, or because Hajime had pulled up the email from his police friend.

The latter might have come across as a bit of a jackass on the phone, but Sano had to admit that this seemed a satisfyingly thorough report he’d put together. There weren’t a lot of names, but Sano supposed that was to be expected: how many Japanese guys could possibly have died under unusual circumstances recently in any given police jurisdiction? But for each one listed there were links to news articles regarding the incidents, and some specifics on the women they’d left behind. This, added to the brief biography of each of the deceased, forced Sano to say in a tone of grudging admiration, “Wow… this is good stuff…”

Hajime smiled wryly. “You’ll also notice he hasn’t given us much, if anything, he could get in trouble for disclosing. We could have found most or all of this online if we’d wanted to spend a week searching. He’s very good at his job, though you wouldn’t guess just by talking to him.”

Sano had stepped closer and was reading the screen somewhat at random. When Hajime obligingly scrolled back to the top of the email, Sano began reciting the provided names aloud.

It was easier than he’d expected. The moment he spoke the third item on the short list, he suddenly felt he had the ghost’s attention. How exactly he could tell, he wasn’t sure, but something in the atmosphere of the room had changed. Whether from Sano or from the hovering spirit, Hajime too evidently recognized this. “Is that the one?” he asked.

“Yeah, I think so,” replied Sano. He stared for a moment at the words on the monitor, then turned to face the ghost in the air behind him, looking directly at it for the first time since it had entered the house. “Is this you?” he asked — rhetorically, he supposed, since even having the ghost’s attention probably wouldn’t make it any easier to communicate with. “Are you Kenshin Himura?”

Previous (Part 10) | Chapter Index | Next (Part 12)

6 thoughts on “Seeing Red 11

  1. Grammah Taimz!
    more or less; ‘ordered’ might have been a better word

    Can you explain why that semicolon is there? I was never very good at semicolon usage unless it preceded a “however” or separated items in a list where the items being listed required commas.

    “You know what?” Sano growled. “Fuck you.” And immediately felt a bit better.

    Hajime grinned and let him in.

    Yes, eager to see that happen, too, Sano. I did read the Sano-falling-down-drunk story, but I was unable to pick up on the why-fors these two make a good pair. I DO, however, enjoy THIS dynamic and am eager to know they are hot for each other. Mostly because of how much care Hajime takes to provide Sano with opportunities to blow off some of that red-shade steam. I know Hajime’s not necessarily doing it because he’s enamored, but he seems to enjoy baiting Sano and Sano appreciates (perhaps slightly post-steam-blown-off) the gesture.

    the twistiness of frame

    There is no uncertain amount of truthiness to that claim.

    The tie bit! Did you mention Hajime’s solid-colored ties before? It would be a prime thing to include, readers re-reading the story would see it and think “yeah, he DOES wear solid color ties!” and be all proud of Sano for noticing it. As it stands, I think this falls under the tried and true “telling the reader” instead of “showing” the reader. Not bad, but not preferable I guess…especially since mentioning tie-color would be easy to do since Sano seems very aware of the fact that Hajime is such a straight laced dresser (and we’ve heard a little about both of their tastes in clothing).

    Grammah Taimz, Too!

    Hajime too evidently recognized this

    I may be wrong, but I think you need to offset that “too” with commas.

    I wasn’t expecting it to be Kenshin. I was expecting it to be some random nobody! Ten points from Indiana-house for being excruciatingly slow to the point of spontaneous self-immolation on the uptake. XDD

    1. In addition to what you mentioned, a semicolon can be used to connect two phrases (usually but not always independent clauses) that are complete on their own but are closely related. In this case, “more or less” is acting as a complete sentence (though technically it isn’t), and is connected to “‘ordered’ might have been a better word” by a semicolon because that second part is explaining or illuminating the fact that Hajime more or less requested that Sano come to his house.

      If that makes sense.

      It’s OK if you’re not sold on Sano and Saitou in general. I already appreciate that you’re reading this story about characters you’ve not met in their canon! They will get together eventually, I promise! After all, that’s practically what I live for :D

      And I haven’t given any clues about the ghost being Kenshin, so don’t feel bad about not guessing beforehand. OK, well, the story’s punny title is a clue, but one wouldn’t observe the third layer of the pun until this point anyway. Well, and in the content section of the story index, it does mention offscreen major character death, but you have no way of knowing what character(s) that’s referring to.

      Anyway, thanks for your comments!

  2. Excellent story as usual. The interaction between Sano and Hajime brings a smile on my face of course. Now Himura Kenshin as a ghost is brilliant and I can’t wait for the follow up.

  3. I identify with Sano so much in general and it’s things like his confidence in driving somewhere he’d been to and then getting pissed off when he gets lost that make me identify with him in this story too. I’m laughing and nodding a lot. lol

    Oh!! I just realized I meant to say something in an earlier chapter but it slipped my mind. Reading this one made me recall. :D A huge plot device in K/S stories is that they have a telepathic link which they can use to communicate/transfer feelings and I adore that deeply. It’s not something I can easily find elsewhere done in a believable way and I never thought I’d be able to enjoy something like this in a story about Saito and Sano…but here it is!! It’s super awesome that Saito is so in tune with Sano’s thoughts and that it seems to be stronger when they’re about him. I LOVE ITTTT :DDDD


    1. I totally do that exact same thing too — get lost on the second visit — or at least I used to before I finally learned better XD

      I’m glad you like the communication magic here! I’m very fond of it myself. I love that sort of “casually reading his mind a lot of the time” thing, so I can see why you’d like a K/S empathetic bond!


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