Categories > Anime/Manga > Gintama > The Snow Maiden

The Snow Maiden

by Adara 1 review

Most jobs don't go this badly, even for them. Freelancers (with a side of Zura) gen.

Category: Gintama - Rating: PG - Genres: Humor - Published: 2006-08-03 - Updated: 2006-08-03 - 3292 words

The Snow Maiden (1/2)
note: In the vein of the kappa chapters of the manga itself, I'm taking a creature from Japanese mythology and making it an alien.

There is a special type of free time that only the abysmally unemployed know of, which is mostly the territory of professional welfare recipients, desperate housewives, and people who don't want to pay their student loans. Gintoki, Shinpachi, and Kagura are naturally very well acquainted with this free time; it in fact comprises ninety-five percent of their waking hours (the other five percent is dedicated to taking Sadaharu for walks and attempting to convince the Shinsengumi that they are in fact not part of Katsura's terrorist group).

They've long since passed the stage of 'soul-sucking boredom' and entered the stage of 'mindless entertainment,' and this afternoon Kagura and Gintoki watch their regular television drama. Somehow, even with their income in the negatives, they manage to pay their television fee. Should they ever actually complete a real freelance job and make real money, they'll probably upgrade to the interplanetary television service- but that's a long time in coming, if ever.

"Oh, darling-" The voice that warbles from the television seems impossible by human standards but makes much more sense when one also watches and realizes that the actress is seven feet tall and bright green. Network television has gone to the aliens, because production costs in Edo just keep getting higher and higher. Gintoki can't remember the last time he saw a drama with exclusively human actors, and it's at times like this he kind of regrets abandoning the fight against the aliens. Maybe if he'd kept with the Jyoue they'd have better winter drama programming now.

"You can't die on me now, Fhrlargrna!" The man's voice is worse- or, well, it's probably a man, or the nearest equivalent that knobby yellow arthropods well over six feet high have to a man-- and the woman's name totally unpronounceable to a human tongue. "Doctor!"

"I didn't know those green people had purple blood," Kagura says, fascinated by the spray of gore that follows as the doctors (tiny pink aliens with wings and claws that swarm around the gurney) try to operate on the unfortunate patient. "I wonder if-"

Kagura is cut off by someone pounding on the door. They both turn around momentarily before going back to their program.

"It's probably just Zura. I wonder how that body fits so much of that crazy purple blood?" Gintoki leans back on the sofa, content to tune out the someone at the door- after all, it won't be a prospective job, it's never a prospective job- and contemplate the cheap alien special effects.

"It's not Zura, he's knocking too hard." Kagura observes absently, gaping as the doctors fail to save Fhrlargrna and her vaguely arachnid love interest begins an ear-splitting display of grief.

"Can you two answer the door? We have a client!" Shinpachi calls out to them, the twitching of his face actually evident in his voice.

"Shut up, Fhrlargrna just died!" Kagura yells back, an entire season of the drama giving her a surprisingly good pronunciation of the heroine's name. "And her boyfriend is giving her an Arcturan eulogy!"

"Have some respect for the dead," Gintoki adds.

"Turn that off, we have a /client/." Shinpachi picks up the remote control and clicks the red button at the top, cutting the hero's wailing Arcturan eulogy short. "Mr. Yamada here has a job he would like us to do, and that's more important."

Neither Gintoki nor Kagura comments on the fact that Shinpachi has turned down three separate job offers because they conflicted with Otsuu's tour dates. They're saving that bit of ammunition for the really important things, like letting them watch the season finale in peace and making him walk Sadaharu in the snow.

"My son," Mr. Yamada begins dramatically, "has been kidnapped!"

"Kidnapped by the yakuza?" Kagura asks, hoping that's the case so that she can beat up some old enemies.

"Kidnapped by aliens?" Gintoki asks, hoping that's the case so they can get Zura to do all the dirty work for them.

"Kidnapped by a ghost!" Mr. Yamada corrects them both, looking offended by the very notion that he would come to them for help against trifling things like aliens and organized crime. "He went hunting outside Edo two weeks ago, and came back babbling about a ghost woman he saw. He just couldn't stop talking about her, and yesterday he ran away to be with her!"

"...if he ran away, then he wasn't kidnapped," Shinpachi points out, suddenly regretting the fact that he brought this case to them.

"Unless there's a mind control device implanted in his brain," Gintoki suggests, looking thoughtful. "Then it could be kidnapping."

"Or drugs, like the bosses I worked for used." Kagura taps her finger against her chin absently. "Then it could be kidnapping."

"It was the ghost's black magic!" Mr. Yamada bursts out, now looking downright furious. "I want you to defeat her and bring my son back!"

They agree, mostly because Mr. Yamada is a fairly wealthy man and thus gives them a down payment of several thousand yen (with several times that to be given to them upon the successful return of his only son) and while Gintoki and Kagura are stupid enough to enjoy bad alien television programming they aren't stupid enough to turn down that kind of money. He tells them where his son met the snow maiden and where, and they assure him that they will succeed.

Shinpachi gauges their chances of success at about three percent, because he's pretty sure that this boy wasn't kidnapped at all and there probably isn't a ghost involved. Being emotionally castrated by Shimura Otae at a young age would make most anyone pessimistic beyond belief.

Gintoki gauges their chances of success at about fifteen percent, because while he's pretty sure a mind control device is involved it's in bizarre and otherwise hopeless times like this that the Shinsengumi shows up and does something really ridiculous. Gintoki is a war veteran and a realist, but his reality isn't quite the same as everyone else's reality.

Kagura gauges their chances of success at about forty percent, because she's pretty sure the yakuza are behind this-- and she knows how to deal with people like that, because she used to be one of them. Little girls are always more optimistic than grown men about things like this, especially little girls who are reformed yakuza enforcers and watch too many television dramas.

"So," Gintoki says when Mr. Yamada finally leaves, "How are we going to do this? I've never tried to catch a ghost before."

"We're not trying to catch the ghost," Kagura corrects. "We're trying to defeat it and save the boy!"

"You can't defeat a ghost. Swords go right through them." Gintoki lies back on the couch and puts a magazine over his face. "Anyway, ghosts only come out at night. There's not much we can do until then."

"There's no such thing as a ghost!" Shinpachi had, at one time long ago, believed in ghosts and monsters. Then his sister had made her thoughts on such things known, and that had scared any belief he'd ever had out of him.

"You didn't think there was a such thing as a time machine, either," Gintoki says, his voice muffled by the magazine.

"That's because there isn't!" Shinpachi storms out of the room, presumably to try and find some way to prepare for their job this evening.


"I don't think this is going to work." Kagura's previous optimism is fast fading, because they're in the middle of nowhere and haven't found anything yet. Plus, it's starting to snow, and Gintoki and Shinpachi keep glaring at her because she won't share her umbrella with them.

"Shhh, there's something moving up there." Gintoki peers over the top of the bushes they're hiding behind (though not very effectively, seeing as Kagura has her umbrella open), alerted by the sound of rustling ahead of them.

"That must be the ghost," Kagura says, her pessimism quickly giving way to wonder at the sight of what they're after. "She's so pretty! No wonder that guy ran away to be with her!"

None of them suggests leaving, though, because there's a very strong possibility that this woman is a ghost or otherwise unnatural. Although she is as pretty as Kagura said, she is also seven feet tall and blue; she also has a crowd of ten or fifteen young men around her, all gazing at her adoringly.

"Oh," Shinpachi sighs, leaning forward to get a closer look. Kagura hits him on the back of the head, and he doesn't seem to notice. "She's even prettier than Otsuu, isn't she?"

Gintoki and Kagura exchange dark looks at that point.

"There is definitely black magic here," Gintoki says grimly, because fanatical love for Otsuu is the rock upon which Shinpachi bases his life.

"There's Mr. Yamada's son!" Kagura points with her umbrella, and sure enough the boy she's pointing to bears a strong resemblance to their employer. "I bet we could grab him and run back."

"If we're careful about it." Gintoki puts a hand on his sword hilt and starts to stand up. "Shinpachi, you stay-- Shinpachi, you idiot!"

Shinpachi's run out of the bushes to join the crowd of adoring young men, worshipping his new (and very blue) goddess.

"Get down!" Kagura hisses, yanking Gintoki back into the bushes. "We need a plan!"

"We grab the kid, drag him back to Edo, and get paid. Then we let slip to Zura that there's an alien kidnapping people in the woods, and he comes out here and takes care of it for us." Gintoki leans back on his heels, clearly pleased with this plan. "Shinpachi will come back eventually when Zura's through. All his Otsuu albums are back at our place."

"Your concern for your comrades astounds, as always." They both turn around at the sarcastic comment behind them. It's Katsura, which really shouldn't surprise them. He has a gift for getting himself into their business at the worst (or best, depending on your outlook) times.

"How's Elizabeth?" Gintoki asks flatly.

"In jail for public intoxication. How's Sadaharu?"

"Looking forward to another date with Space Captain Katsura."

"You guys!" Kagura hisses, closing her umbrella and hitting them both over the head with it in turn. "They're headed this way!"

"We've been tracking this alien for weeks," Katsura says quietly. "She's an agent for an interplanetary slave racke--" he doesn't get any further, because one of the so-called ghost's admirers has reached the bushes and jerks Katsura up by the shoulders of his coat.

"Lucky!" Kagura says, and in a flash of pink is behind the love-stricken young man-- who is, in fact, Mr. Yamada's son-- and beating him over the back of the head with her umbrella. He goes down immediately, and Kagura grabs him by the ankle and drags him off Katsura. "All right!


"We," Katsura says expansively, "need a plan."

"Shut up, this interplanetary satellite plays dramas with people in them!" Kagura orders, intent on the television. "Maho's about to tell Ryuusuke that he's the father of her child!"

"I liked Fhrlargrna better." Gintoki says, the magazine over his face muffling his words slightly. "That lady had style."

"She had six arms, Gintoki." Katsura snaps, crossing the room to turn off the television. "In fact, she sort of resembled that woman who has your friend Shinpachi right now."

"Shinpachi would never cheat on Otsuu." Gintoki, finished with his magazine, takes it off his face and threw it at Katsura. Katsura catches it and promptly drops it on the floor. "You should read that one. Some idiot's writing a comic about you-- wonder how long it is before the government shuts it down?"

"This is not the time to be-- wait, about me?" Katsura asks, and picks up the magazine again. He flips through it until he finds the appropriate page, and makes a face as he reads it. "This is stupid."

"Of course it is, it's about you. And it's a terrible likeness-- there's not even a giant duck following you." Gintoki shuts up when Kagura turns the television back on, and Katsura is too busy reading the comic to notice.

"Don't leave her, Ryuusuke!" Kagura orders the television, as if the actor can hear her through light-years of space and the weeks since recording

"/My name is Katsura/," Katsura says suddenly and loudly, throwing the magazine out the window.

"I paid good money for that," Gintoki complains mildly. "And anyway, it's accurate. That guy did call you Zura."

"Only because you started it!" Katsura accused him.

"Yeah, I did," Gintoki agrees. "Now buy me another magazine to replace that."

"I'm going to report this comic to the Shinsengumi." Katsura puts on his straw hat and sandals and walks out the door without another word.

"...Maho's baby isn't Ryuusuke's?" Gintoki asks, leaning back in his seat.

The door slides open again; it's Katsura.

"How did some second-rate comic artist know about that name?" He asks, taking off his hat and sandals.

"He probably heard you screaming about how you're not Zura. You can hear that from miles away, you know. Now shut up-- damn, I thought paying for television meant we didn't get commercials." Gintoki stands up to change the channel-- and freezes.

It's a commercial for a free Otsuu concert going on the next weekend, to celebrate the opening of a new shopping mall in Edo.

"We can just drag Shinpachi back from the concert. Hey, where are you going?" Gintoki asks as Katsura heads back to the door.

"To use my share of the money to bail Elizabeth out of jail." Katsura slips his sandals back on and leaves again.

"Who says you get a share of the money?" Gintoki yells at him, but Katsura doesn't turn around.

"Ryuusuke!" Kagura shrieks suddenly, jumping up onto the coffee table. "You can't talk to her like that! She's pregnant! What if the baby hears you?"


"If I hear their love Otsuu slogan one more time, I'm going to puke," Gintoki mutters as they weave their way through the crowd.

"L-O-V- ow!" Kagura glowers up at him after he hits her in the back of the head. "Guys who hit women go to hell! I saw it on TV!"

"Do you see Shinpachi anywhere?" Gintoki asks, ignoring the bit about going to hell. He figures that even if it's true, Kagura doesn't count. Shimura Otae doesn't, either, or Katherine or Elizabeth (if that thing is even female), and that pretty much covers every woman he might have the urge to hit in the face.

"No-- but hey, there's Elizabeth! I thought she was in jail!" Kagura says, completely forgetting about Shinpachi. This happens on a daily basis, but it's pretty inconvenient when they're trying to find the guy.

"Really? Zura would never go with us to pop concerts back in the old days, he said they were selling out to amanto commercialism." Gintoki shades his eyes with one hand and looks out into the crowd until he sees where Kagura is pointing. It's indeed Elizabeth.

"It's /Katsura/," Katsura says coldly, coming up from behind Elizabeth. "And these concerts are selling out to amanto commercialism. Are the souls of the samurai so cheap that we'll trade them for a pop idol?"

"No, I'm holding onto mine until they offer me a way to eat ice cream every day, a cure for my natural perm, and a lifetime subscription to Jump." Gintoki yawns and stretches his arms widely, nearly hitting Katsura in the face. "So what are you doing here, Zura?"

"Elizabeth wanted to go. She's had a terrible week, what with being in jail and all, so I told her I would take her just this once. And it's /Katsura/," he snarls, grabbing Gintoki by the front of his shirt.

"Do you always do what your duck tells you, Zura? That's the first sign of an unhealthy relationship," Gintoki advises him, and Katsura tackles him. They actually come admirably close to killing one another before Otsuu's real security guards throw them out (with Shinpachi gone, no one in the fan club has the guts to throw two armed samurai out of the venue). Kagura and Elizabeth are dancing to the beat of "Your Boyfriend's an Amanto" and ignoring their fighting friends.

"Kagura! Quit dancing with that thing and help me find Shinpachi!" Gintoki orders as he's dragged out.

"Elizabeth! Stop dancing with that deviant and help me kill Gintoki!" Katsura yells, and the security guard grabs him by the hair. "How dare you sully my honor as a samurai like that! Let go of my hair at once!"

"Your boyfriend's a tentacle beast, and what are ya gonna do about it?" Kagura sings, headbanging and nearly bowling Elizabeth over. Elizabeth scurries off to another part of the crowd, where it's safer.



When they hit the pavement, it's snowing.

"What the hell," Gintoki says, because it was definitely warm outside when they went into that shopping mall.

"/Amanto/," Katsura breathes, and Gintoki can tell he's working himself into a really good berserker rage to use on some amanto.

"You do realize that amanto don't cause all your problems in life?" Gintoki asks, leaning back against the side of the building.

"No, they only cause the problems your natural perm doesn't," Katsura retorts, and suddenly freezes. "Do you think it could be the gang that has your friend?"

"Only you would make the connection between amanto and snow. Snow's a natural thing, Zura, even if you don't like it." Gintoki kicks at the garbage can next to him boredly.

"My name is Katsura, and it's July!" Katsura roars, and his fit of rage against the amanto is ruined because he's had to use it on Gintoki. People passing by on the street are staring at them, and a mother hurries her children past with a frightened murmur about "that vulgar singer and her insane fans."

"Yeah, I guess it is." Gintoki pauses. "Hey, you think the ice cream parlor would give us a discount since it's snowing?"

"Maybe," Katsura says thoughtfully, as if this thought never occurred to him. "We should go find out."


"Hey, you!" Someone calls out to Kagura when the concert's over and she's walking around to see if anyone's dropped any good food. "You're Shinji's friend, aren't you?"

"Shinji?" Kagura asks, turning around. It's Otsuu, wearing a short and garish magenta kimono. "Oh, you mean Shinpachi."

"Yes, Shinji! I thought you were his friend!" Otsuu saays, smiling. "I just wondered why he wasn't here today... he never misses my concerts, especially not the free ones. He says I need more protection when the unwashed masses are allowed into my shows."

"He got kidnapped by an amanto." Kagura shrugs, and kneels down-- someone had dropped some perfectly good candy! It's even still in the wrapper!

"That's awful!" Otsuu gasps, the smile leaving her face immediately. "Is your other friend saving him?"

"Nah, I think he's outside killing Zura." Kagura pops the candy into her mouth and makes a face-- ick, milk candy-- but doesn't spit it out. "I guess I'm gonna have to find Shinpachi, since he's an idiot and can't get out himself."

"Can I help?" Otsuu asks, almost hesitantly. "Shinji's done so much for me, and he didn't even get to hear my new single today...."

"Sure," Kagura says, because she doesn't really care. Humming "Your Boyfriend is an Amanto," Otsuu picks up her guitar case off the end of the stage and follows Kagura out of the shopping mall.


(to be continued.)
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