A twisted parody of "Little Red Riding Hood," starring Kuroro, Hisoka, Kurapika, and a Nameless Fourth Spider.
by Mina Lightstar
Most tales begin a long time ago, in lands far, far away. This story is no different. It takes place in another place, another time, another... universe, as it were. The setting is a world not so unlike our own, ripe with forests, oceans, people of all kinds.... If danger were to your liking, you would not be disappointed. The world in this story is sometimes very menacing.
And danger is what gives this tale its beginning...
Kukulu was a dangerous place. Oh, everyone knew that. The foreboding mountain region was off-limits to anyone who was deemed unworthy of entering its gates. That restriction sat well with the general populace. If they didn't try to bother the Zaoldyecks, the inhabitants of Kukulu, then Kukulu would likewise leave them alone. It was... not a happy arrangement, per se, but it worked. Travelers were even permitted to come right up to the gates and behold the impressive barriers. On the other hand, if you chose to invoke a Zaoldyeck's wrath, and bad times would be upon you. For that reason, few individuals dared to build homes that were too close to Kukulu.
But some people had more daring plans in mind. Though not strong enough to infiltrate the Zaoldyeck stronghold, every now and then a brave traveler - others would sooner call them fools - would venture into the heavily wooded area surrounding Kukulu. The dark forest was right next to the edge of the Zaoldyecks' territory, but not actually in it. For most people, that was a little too close for comfort. For those who enjoyed the thrill of knowing they were exploring a forest that could mean their death... well, they sometimes built homes there.
It takes all kinds.
To be expected, the brave travelers - or fools, as it were - were few and far between. However, bandits and thugs populated the forest, as well. After all, everyone was afraid of Kukulu and its surrounding areas - even authorities and most Blacklist Hunters. Thus, it was an ideal place for ruffians to nest in-between their robbing and plundering. With the addition of thieving hooligans, the area surrounding Kukulu was just made even more foreboding. If that were possible.
But some people enjoyed the thrill, others wanted a personal conquest, and others still desired to prove something to someone else. And so they went, venturing into the lion's den to dance with Death, and hoping to come out alive. Or build a house.
...And then there were those who had no thrills to seek, no personal conquests to triumph over, and no desire to prove anything to anyone else. But yet they went, venturing into the lion's den to dance with Death, and hoping to come out alive. Or run an errand.
And that, my friends, is why Kuroro Lucifer was hiking along a path in those woods today. To run an errand, that is.
Kuroro Lucifer rarely went by his whole name. For one, he rarely felt like it. For two, he often received snide looks for it. For three, most of his friends called him "Akazukin." It was a silly nickname that had been stamped on him when he'd started sporting a red bandana. Friends and foes alike were unsure of the bandana's origins. Some said that his bandana used to be a white bandage, until someone asked him just how long it would take before his head wound healed. Then he had ditched the bandage in favor of a blue bandana, until someone informed him that it was an ugly shade of blue and clashed with most of his outfits. And so, the red bandana had appeared.
No one ever saw him without it, and it wasn't long before rumors began circulating. Why did Kuroro wear that bandana all the time? Some chose to believe that he had suffered an injury that had left a hideous scar and wished to hide it. Others insisted that Kuroro had finally realized that slicking your hair back with gratuitous amounts of gel is Not Flattering. Other people figured that a kid had drawn on his face with permanent marker and he couldn't get it off.
When Kuroro had declined to share his reasons for the bandana, he was forever known as "Akazukin" among his fellow villagers and friends back in the country.
He was also "Akazukin" to his dear, brave friend, Nameless Fourth Spider. In fact, his errand for the day involved meeting with that feisty, courageous soul. Like others (described on the first page, in case you weren't paying attention,) Nameless Fourth Spider had chosen to brave the dark underbrush - and overbrush - of the area around Kukulu and build his very own home.
But it has been mentioned that the forest around Kukulu - hereafter referred to as Kukulu Forest, for simplicity's sake - is very dangerous. It is far from a peaceful territory, and so Nameless Fourth Spider had been brave enough to go in... but was too afraid to come out. He remained locked away in his house for days on end, emerging only when he needed to hunt or fetch water. He hated being outside, where the bandits and animals could have easier access to him, and so he did whatever business in the forest had to be done as quickly as possible. And as soon as he was able, he shut himself away once again.
Nameless Fourth Spider was so reclusive that it was impossible to even get his name for this story.
But since Kuroro "Akazukin" Lucifer cared for Nameless Fourth Spider very dearly, he was only too happy to pay the man a visit every now and then. Figuring that sitting in bed all day being scared must be very boring, Kuroro had brought a bag of books with him. He'd read them all already - twice - and didn't mind parting with them. He hoped Nameless Fourth Spider would appreciate his offering.
...Maybe he could even persuade Nameless Fourth Spider to follow him out of Kukulu Forest, so he'd never have to do this again.
"I wonder if he likes Jane Austen," Kuroro wondered.
For all the talk of hoodlums and murderers lurking within Kukulu Forest, Kuroro had yet to encounter one. Perhaps they were all sleeping. Maybe they had deemed him unworthy game. And possibly, they were just lying in wait.
The last made Kuroro pause in mid-step, suddenly cautious. After all, danger is what began this story - and what will drive it onward.
Perhaps he could beat his attackers with the books...?
"Hello, there!" cooed a silky, almost musical voice.
Kuroro spun around in a circle, searching for the source of the voice. It had come from a thicket not too far from where he stood. "Who are you, stranger?" he called. "Approach me not with malice, lest you find yourself beaten back by the likes of Twain and the Oxford."
"Fear not," the voice replied, as its owner emerged from the thicket. "I come in peace, as it were." The man brushed leaves off of his light purple outfit, and Kuroro noted that a spade decorated one side of his vest, and a club the other. The spade and club from card suits, that is, and not the tools you use to crack someone's head open. "I am but a traveler," the newcomer went on, hooking his blue hair behind an ear and giving Kuroro a slight bow.
Kuroro was impressed. Not by the stranger's odd attire, hair color, or manner, but because he was much larger than the thicket. How he'd been hiding inside it was a mystery. "You're an odd one, traveler." Traveler, indeed! This newcomer was probably one of the many bandits, seeking what little money he had! Or a bloodthirsty murderer, hungry for the kill! Either or.
"That's what they tell me," the stranger acceded. "What are you doing walking along this dangerous path alone, Akazukin?"
Kuroro started. "How do you know that name?"
The stranger looked satisfied. "So it is what they call you."
Kuroro sighed quietly. He had a feeling he was dealing with a clever one. And damn that infernal nickname! "And you, stranger, what do they call you?"
"Odd. But I prefer Hisoka."
"Hisoka." Kuroro tested the name. It sounded vaguely familiar. Almost too familiar... "Have we met before?"
"Not directly," Hisoka hedged. "Akazukin, you seem to be lost. Would you like me to help you find your way?"
Kuroro blinked. "I am not lost."
"...Oh. Well then, may I ask where you are headed?"
How inane! Did Hisoka truly think that Kuroro would direct him to Nameless Fourth Spider's house? "Do you take me for a fool, Hisoka?"
"Whether or not I take you for one does not undo the fact that this story takes you for one."
"A good point." In the end, it all came down to the script. "But if you must know," Kuroro went on, "I am paying a visit to a dear friend of mine, Nameless Fourth Spider. It has been so long since we've talked."
"He has a house around here?" Hisoka inquired politely. Too politely, one might say.
"He does," Kuroro confirmed. "A quaint little thing, not too far from here. A garden he doesn't care for, a stream nearby, the door is always closed...."
"I believe I know of which house you speak," Hisoka said. He folded his arms and nodded once, twice, thrice.
"And you know this forest?" Was Hisoka, indeed, a thug?
"I have been here many times," Hisoka offered. "I know most of the inhabitants, and their dwellings. But for some reason, this nameless one you speak of is never outside."
Kuroro nodded. "In any case--"
"I must be off," Hisoka blurted out. He gave Kuroro a quick bow and started heading back to the bushes.
"Oh, so soon?" Kuroro mused. There was something fishy about Hisoka, but he couldn't figure out what. Maybe it was the hair. Or the fact that he seemed to be very interested in Kuroro's plans for the day. Either or.
But Hisoka didn't reply, scampering off into the undergrowth and vanishing from sight. Kuroro stared after him, puzzled, but decided to just let sleeping dogs lie. If Hisoka insisted on making a nuisance of himself, then Kuroro would be forced to take action. But otherwise... he would go about his day.
The old-fashioned cottage that belonged to Nameless Fourth Spider was located in a clearing. Hisoka found it without difficulty, and affirmed that he had, indeed, seen the home before. It was, as Kuroro had said, near a stream and had an untended garden. And within those walls... was his prey.
Hisoka licked his lips and heard his stomach growl. He was hungry, so hungry - so eager for the kill. He would tear into Nameless Fourth Spider's flesh and rip the meat off his bones. He would pop limbs out of their sockets and burn the remains in the fireplace.
And then he would lie in wait... patiently, quietly, eagerly.
And then he would eat Kuroro.
When Kuroro finally reached Nameless Fourth Spider's home, something didn't seem right. Maybe it was the cold grip that had seized Kuroro's belly, giving him an uneasy feeling abut the house. Maybe it was the fact that the door was open. Either or.
Fingers tightening on the bag of books, Kuroro started forward. After all, he had come all this way, and there was no turning back until he had accomplished what he'd set out to do. Nameless Fourth Spider needed to interact with real people every now and then, and besides, it had been a long walk. Kuroro wanted to relax for a while.
So slowly, carefully, he made his way up to the house and through the open doorway. His boots didn't make a sound when he edged into the dark household. There wasn't even a candle burning. Kuroro felt suddenly insecure.
"Something isn't right," he said, affirming his thoughts from two paragraphs up. He walked further into the house, toward the hearth, and looked around. "Nameless?" he called quietly. "Are you in here?"
The door slammed shut behind him, the noise sounding so loud in the quiet house.
Kuroro twisted around, bag raised and ready to beat his enemy to death with literature. "Who--?!"
The figure blocking the door was none other than Hisoka. "We meet again."
Kuroro did not see it fit to point out that they had only just parted. "What are you doing here?" When Hisoka opened his mouth to reply, Kuroro put forth another, more pressing, question, "And what have you done with Nameless Fourth Spider?"
Hisoka raised his hands in mock-surrender. "Give me time to explain..." He grinned widely. "Nameless Fourth Spider is... now Soulless Fourth Spider."
Kuroro blinked, shocked. "You... you killed him?"
"But of course!"
This isn't the children's version of the fairy tale, you realize.
Kuroro was simultaneously angered and stunned. "But why?" For a moment, Kuroro wanted to ask what Nameless Fourth Spider had done to deserve such treatment from a random passer-by. But then he remembered that his morals were severely lacking and decided to just go ahead with the rest of the story.
"So I could have you all to myself," Hisoka declared with a leer.
Kuroro was minutely disturbed. "You murdered my friend just to be alone with me?"
Hisoka began to advance. "I said I never met you directly... but I was always following you. I wanted... one day... to..." He trailed off, licking his lips.
The truth was that Hisoka had harbored a desire for Akazukin since he'd first laid eyes on him. Or Akazukin's body, rather. He didn't particularly care for Akazukin himself, though he would love to tear Akazukin apart one day in battle. Off the battlefield, though, he wanted to eat Akazukin's body. Something about Akazukin entranced him. Or maybe he was just horny. Either or.
This is a yaoi version of the fairy tale, you realize.
And Kuroro, knowing that he was trapped, figured that he might as well play along. He had, technically, failed to complete his errand. So, he would try to accomplish the second half of his goal: getting out of Kukulu Forest alive.
Hisoka backed him to the bed in the corner of the room, and once Kuroro dropped his bag of books, the blue-haired man was upon him.
You'll recall that Kukulu and the surrounding areas strike fear into the hearts of most people. Bandits and murderers often take shelter in the forest because authorities and Blacklist Hunters refuse to go near it.
Well, most Blacklist Hunters refuse to go near it. One member of that brave division of Hunters does frequently go through the forest for... "clean-up" every now and then. He does this because no one else will, because cold-blooded killers strike one of his nerves, and because he likes doing his part to uphold Truth and Justice. Sometimes in the name of the moon.
Not today, though. Today, Kurapika was hiking through Kukulu Forest for different reasons. Today, he was going to prove something to a particular group of men back in a nearby village.
When Kurapika returned with fruit that only grew in the heart of this forest, he could prove that he was, indeed, a he.
Because only Real Men went into Kukulu Forest, you see.
Of course, there had certainly been other ways for him to prove his gender to those men, but Kurapika had wanted to prove it without having to take his pants off in front of everyone. When one of the drunken men had proposed the hunting of the fruit, Kurapika had agreed.
In hindsight, agreeing to such an excursion for only a fruit and the desire to be called "sir" instead of "hey, beautiful" was... foolish on his part. But he'd been a little drunk, too, so.... Well, there was no use dwelling on the details. The men had held him to his word, and even though trips into Kukulu and the surrounding areas were immensely dangerous, even for a Blacklist Hunter of his caliber, he would bring back that fruit.
(And if he did end up suffering some serious injuries... maybe he could finally get that handsome doctor to notice him.)
So here he was: trudging through Kukulu Forest with only the clothes on his back and the swords hidden... somewhere. And never you mind where he keeps them.
Armed in many ways, Kurapika was determined to get that damn fruit, go back to the village, and declare her Manliness.
"His. I'm a boy."
Sorry. His Manliness.
Fortunately, this was not the first time he had hiked through the forests around Kukulu, so he knew where he was going. He found that he even recognized some of the houses he saw. Not that it was easy to forget ten or fifteen homes, but whatever. At the moment, he was nearing the heart of the forest, his destination, and saw that the route he was taking led him right by the house belonging to Nameless Fourth Spider.
"Not only is he Nameless," Kurapika mused, "but he is Faceless. I've never seen him."
He's also Soulless, for those of us who are just tuning in.
Kurapika paused, instantly alert. If he'd been a dog, his ears would have raised. But he was not a dog. Sometimes a cat, occasionally a bunny, but never a dog. That voice had sounded... distressed.
"OH, GOD! OH GOD, OH GOD!"
Even though it was his day off, Kurapika had never been one to ignore a cry for help. Mind, that wasn't exactly a cry for help, but being a shy, conservative virgin, Kurapika wouldn't know the difference.
So he made a dash for Nameless Fourth Spider's house, pulling his kan from... wherever it is that he keeps it... and assaulting the doorway. It surrendered to one powerful kick, unhinging itself and falling onto the floor. Kurapika followed it inside, filling half of the doorway because... well, he was a small, shy, conservative virgin.
With the door kicked in, light flooded the inside of the house. Kurapika scanned the house for assailants and the assaulted, hoping he'd arrived in time. He found both on the bed in the corner.
"OH, GOD!" Kuroro cried, arching his hips toward Hisoka's attentions.
"OH, GOD!" Kurapika echoed, for entirely different reasons. He dropped his kan and covered his eyes. The swords clattered to the floor and Kurapika peeked through his fingers. It looked like... the "victim" was... okay.... But the "assailant" was moving, shifting, and.... Kurapika covered his eyes completely again.
"Why did you stop?"" Kuroro whined disappointedly. "It was just getting good."
Kurapika wished he had four hands, so he could cover his ears, too.
"You know," Hisoka said conversationally, "usually the voyeurs try to remain inconspicuous."
Kurapika shook his head in something that could have been apology, terror, awe, or discomfort.
"He broke the door," Kuroro pointed out. "Honestly. How rude."
"I'm sorry," Kurapika choked out, still refusing to look.
"I mean, really," Hisoka went on, "if you wanted to join--"
"NO!" Kurapika squeaked, curling in on himself and picking up his kan. He opened his eyes, but kept them aimed at the floor even when he stood up again. "I mean, no thanks."
"Pity," Hisoka pouted. He was very hungry. Oh, well. He had quite the meal already laid out for him, anyway. "Next time, perhaps?"
"I'll think about it," Kurapika said, in a voice that made plain his intention to never think about it. Gradually, he started edging backwards.
"You must be the prince on the white horse," Kuroro decided. "Rest assured, I am in no danger."
"I see that," Kurapika managed.
"So if you don't mind, could you perhaps take your leave, Your Highness? We were busy, I'm sure you noticed."
"I apologize." Kurapika would have bowed, but he was pretty much doing that already. "I'll... be going now." And go he did, as fast as he well-toned legs would carry him.
Hisoka clicked his tongue. "Now, where were we?"
"We were getting to the best part," Kuroro reminded him.
"Ah, yes!" Hisoka beamed. "Thank you."
And then he bent to show his gratitude in other ways.
"OH, GOD!" Kuroro screamed, getting into it once again.
"OH, GOD!" came the echo from somewhere outside, in a voice that wasn't Kuroro's.