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Rukia Kurosaki

Silence- Chapter One: The Crow, the Tiger, and the Fox

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Far away in the darkness but coming nearer by the second, a bell chimed twice, deep and clear in the choking air, the only sound and solace save the pounding of her heart and footsteps as she fled the ringing, not daring to look back. Deep in the blackness, shadows descended like dangling  puppets behind her, reaching out their tendrils and twisted forms to graze her sight. Another pair of footsteps joined hers, swift but calm and measured. They rang out from behind, then echoed through the emptiness until the sound came from all around, sending her heart racing faster as her breathing became loud and labored. She squinted her eyes closed and raced on, stumbling in the unsure darkness and shaking her head. "No... I'm never going back..." 


  "You will return." The voice was no more than a whisper, right beside her ear. It sent a shiver through her as though his breath had grazed her skin, and she shook her head again. "The tiger and the fox must return to their place beside the crow, or the crooked house will fall upon everything they long to protect... You will return to me, Erru."


    Her blue-grey eyes snapped open, and she drew a shaky breath, swallowing although she felt parched and exhausted. She glanced around, giving a relieved smile as she recognized the room. There were three shelves full of books, two stuffed with mysteries and one dedicated to assorted novels she'd enjoyed reading and re-reading. A writing desk sat against the far wall, set beside the only window, which was shuttered. Erru smiled as she studied her bed; The same scarlet sheets and mismatched comforter lay beneath her, and once again she'd thrown off her plush blanket in the night. 


"That same dream," she muttered, running a hand through her short ruby-dyed hair. She'd dreamed that same nightmare since the day the Black Organization was overthrown. Shuuichi had said she shouldn't continue to sleep in her old room at the Headquarters, but when everything was falling apart, this solitary base was the only familiarity. Every night the voice returned, telling her that she must return to the organization... but it didn't make sense. It wasn't her father's voice. And it wasn't the voice of any of the members she had known in her ten years spent observing, training with, and becoming a part of the Organization. 


Erru knew it was silly to put stock in nightmares, but she couldn't shake the feeling that something was coming. Her fight against the organization that had corrupted her father and killed her mother and countless others was not over, and she knew there would be more death and worse nightmares to come if she didn't take action against the rising toll of the Black Organization's crimes. 


Since Kudo Yuusaku had been arrested along with Chianti and Korn, the group had scattered across Japan, its crimes becoming more devastating and cruel by the day. There had been a dozen shootings, three bombings, one bomb scare, and at least three assassinations attributed to the Black Org since its supposed disbanding only a month and a half before. 


Erru mulled over the crimes as she threw on her blue slacks and jacket, frowning as she mangled the knot on her tie. There had to be a new leader in the organization. Someone had to be pulling the strings. If not, there was a more frightening alternative... 


If the group was still alive after its leader was incapacitated, it was possible that her father was not the highest ranking leader. The true leader, the mastermind of the most devastating organized crime in Japan, was still out there, unobserved and hiding behind his false life and scapegoats. But if that was so, either Yuusaku was lying for him, or he truly believed he had been in charge of the organization. 

A shudder passed through her as this thought took root, and she couldn't shake it through her morning routine. By the time she'd brushed her teeth, neglected to fix her hair, and locked the door of the building behind her, she was sure there was someone controlling the criminals... if not the police force as well. When she hopped on the back of Sera's motorcycle, refusing the offered helmet, she sighed and mumbled, "You've only got the one, so you better wear it." 


"Somebody's having a bad morning," Sera laughed as they turned the corner and stopped in front of Teitan High School. "You forgot to do your hair again." The smile faded as Erru's stomach growled. "You had that dream again?"


"It doesn't make sense..." She frowned and stepped off the motorcycle, waiting for Sera to chain it up before adding flatly, "There's still a Black Org. I can't wait for them to find me, Sera-chan..." She looked to her friend expectantly, and Sera sighed, "Whattaya want?"

"You'd cover for me if I disappeared, right?" Sera cocked an eyebrow at her former babysitter, smirking. "Of course," she chuckled. "If Shuu-nii got on my case, I'd just say I was as clueless as him."


"You would be," she mumbled. "Huh?" Erru blinked, then smiled at the girl. "Um, nothing, I was just thinking aloud. Let's go inside before the bell rings." She put her hands in her pockets and motioned with her head for Sera to follow as she headed into the school building. Inside, they were surrounded in moments by the combined force of their classmates. 


"Sera-san, have you decided whether to join the MMA club?"


"Natake-san, will you help me find out if my boyfriend is cheating on me?"


"Masumi-san, Natake-san, are you going to start a detective agency?"


 Reeling a bit, the two girls laughed and waved off the questions, ducking out of the crowd and into the classroom, where Sonoko and Ran were busy talking. "Oi, Suzuke, why'd ya spread all that stuff about our detective work? I'm supposed to be laying low..." 


"It's Suzuki. And puh-lease~ Everyone knows already that you're a famous police officer, and about your little FBI gig, and Sera-chan's got a bunch of fans now that they know she's an awesome detective. You two should thank me. You'll get plenty of cases to solve and gratification from all the students, including the guys. Not that you'll become as popular as the Deduction Queen, of course." She gave a self-satisfied smile and laughed as Erru gave an annoyed chuckle. 


"Uh-huh. Well, I've got 'plenty' of real cases I have to take care of, and if the Black Organization case was well publicized, I need to be that much more careful to keep myself out of the papers until we nab the rest of the group... And high school guys are the LAST thing I want attention from" She frowned at Sonoko, thinking, Definitely the last thing...


"Natake-chan, you're wearing a boys' uniform, have your hair a bright, unnatural color, and you're worse than your brother at keeping your nose out of mysteries. If they haven't noticed you by now, they're not going to." Ran gave a sigh and glanced at her friend, giving Erru an apologetic smile. "Don't worry about it, Natake-chan." 


"Would ya not call me -chan?" 


"If you stop talking in Kansai dialect," Sonoko interjected. "It's kind of hard to understand from you."


"I can't." Erru frowned at her again, grumbling, "I spent a long time living in Osaka. The accent pops out when I'm annoyed."


"Okay, let's just sit down, Erru-san... The bell already rang." With a heavy sigh she plunked into her seat, glaring across the aisle at Sonoko. "Yeah, who needs security anyway?" she grumbled sarcastically as she ignored what she figured was a student standing in front of her desk. "-ake." She transferred her glare to the person, then blinked, her blue-grey glare receding into a look of confusion. "Hm?" Amuro waved his hand in front of her face, "I said, 'Hey, Natake.' Are you alright?" Erru gave a curt nod and mumbled, "Yeah, fine," glancing at the teacher before looking back at Bourbon. "You're not an expected visitor... What're you doing here?" Amuro grinned and gave a shrug. "Can't a guy visit his subordinate?" 


"Hey, you're only a higher rank than me because I spent the past ten years with just the Org, thank you very much!" Tooru stuck his tongue out at her, laughing, "And yet I'm now older than you, AND your superior. Anyway..." His voice changed from teasing to grim, and he motioned for Erru to follow as he left the classroom behind, tossing a paper onto the teacher's desk as the class watched them go.

 "We've been assigned to investigate something that could be the next Black Org. There's a syndicate rising that calls itself the Crooked House. Mystery fans and wannabe gangsters have started forming up and acting out, committing violent crimes throughout Beika...


"We're supposed to infiltrate this group and track down the leader before they start initiating more people... We traced the first wave of initiates to a mass execution that took the lives of 20 citizens last week. You and I will take false identities and take apart this crime group from the bottom up." He opened the passenger door of his car as he finished the briefing, heading to the driver's side as Erru grumbled, "Why do I have to work with you on this? Isn't Shuu-chan in on this case?" 

Again Amuro's voice became more serious, and he looked at Erru in the car mirror.


"No. As of this morning, Akai Shuuichi is officially a missing person..."


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Yuki-san: I figured he'd be the most interesting choice, and I've always found him slightly suspicious~


Ari: xP We'll find out about the execution later, but I'll give you a teaser: The Crooked House is an important name, and it's a tribute to mystery literature. 

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