Bizarre Traditions are Bizarre Nehszriah

“Ice hockey; it’s becoming increasingly popular in the Nordic countries and central Europe. The main players have been Canada, the United States and Russia for a long time now with a steadily growing following in Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic and Switzerland.”

“How’d you know that?”

“Unlike you, I do research.” Gokudera took one last drag on his cigarette before extinguishing it between the pavement and his shoe. “I think you’d actually enjoy this.”

“So it’s pretty extreme, huh?” Ryohei chuckled. Gokudera glanced back to see his fellow Guardian grinning from ear to ear.


After getting into the building (thanking the higher powers that be for the fact that box weapons and Gokudera’s minute caches of C4 were incapable of setting off the alarms), the two men wandered around in an attempt to locate the two Cozza men. After doing so—their targets’ seats were in the skybox above the tickets they had been given—they decided to browse around in an attempt to figure a little bit more about the game they were attending in an effort to avoid looking like idiots during the match itself.

“Well, at least we know how the athletes are going to look on the ice,” Gokudera frowned as he stared at a statue in the hallway before one of the entrances. The identity of the man the statue depicted, ice hockey legend Gordie Howe, was lost on both men due to a severe lack of caring. Ryohei tilted his head to the side and scratched his head.

“What’s the stick used for?”

“…beating the other team members with,” Gokudera deadpanned. “When the sticks break, that’s when they drop their gloves and start punching each other.”

“That’s extremely cool.”

“You would think that.”

“…like how I still think it’s extremely strange this place was named after a giant in a different sport?”

“Yeah.” Gokudera wished he had a smoke to light; only the Lawn-Head was able to find all the boxing-related things in the goddamn city, from what used to be the old Kronk Gym to the fact the building they were in was named after heavyweight boxer Joe Louis. It was beginning to grate on his nerves.

“I wonder if they serve takoyaki here,” Ryohei wondered aloud, scratching his head in thought as they walked back into the main arena area. Gokudera side-glanced at his mission partner and made a sour face.

“What brought that on, Lawn Head? We’re miles away from Japan and I doubt they serve it in restaurants here… that is if there are any Japanese restaurants.”

Ryohei pointed over in the direction of the scorebox hovering well above the ice. Suspended from the scorebox was a giant purple octopus. It had a menacing smirk on its face and was wearing what looked like an eight-legged version of the team sweaters.

“Why would they dress up the main dish and suspend it from the ceiling, idiot?”

“Yamamoto-san does in Takesushi. You know that extreme-looking swordfish he had Takeshi and I tack to the ceiling a couple months ago…? I thought it was something like that. You know how everything’s bigger in America—it could have been like the in-house specialty or something.” Ryohei waved his arms around while he was talking, annoying Gokudera more than convincing him.

“Just shut up you retard,” Gokudera growled, shoving on an earpiece. They took their seats and stared at the athletes warming up.

“Hey… I think I remember reading about people playing this sport in Jump when I was a kid,” Ryohei said, squinting at the athletes taking practice shots.
Gokudera refused to answer and was instead wiring the earpiece into his PDA. The Tenth was expecting someone had to do work and it might as well be him.


In the end, it had been an extremely exciting game… if Ryohei’s words were to be believed. While he was disappointed that the sticks the players carried around were not for beating each other up like Gokudera had promised him (they seemed to break rather easily doing things like rescuing the little rubber puck from between a cluster of players or just ramming into someone), the Sun Guardian was pleased when he saw the brusque intensity the game provided. Speeding skaters had been stopped dead in their tracks just by a player from the opposition and the man lost count of how many times someone was forcefully sandwiched between another player and the boards surrounding the ice. There were even tempers flaring as the tension rose throughout the game and the players attempted to fight one another in impromptu boxing matches that the referees always seemed to stop before the going was good.

Gokudera, on the other hand, was decidedly unimpressed by the game. Naturally uninterested in sports to begin with, he did not really care about the theatrics and vulgarities Ryohei was relishing in. Instead, he was more concentrated on listening to the surveillance recordings via his PDA. Thanks to the targets having their own private box, the Italian was able to monitor everything that was said within the room. The two Cozza men had been joined by several other men throughout the evening and by the way the conversations were going, Gokudera was contemplating sending in Bianchi to poison them—a fate he usually reserved for only those who seriously annoyed the crap out of him. The men had not learned their lesson and had apparently been laying low until they were sure that the Guardians were gone. They thought doing business within the confines of the ice rink was safe, as tickets for the game had been severely difficult to come by… yet they were far from wrong. It seemed like at least a week’s time more of tailing was going to be in order.

“Let’s get out of here,” Gokudera grumbled as the final buzzer went off. He shuffled over onto the stairs and waited for Ryohei to follow. The older man seemed to be too engrossed with what was going on down on the ice to pay attention to his friend though.

“AHAHAHA!” Ryohei laughed, watching the happenings on the ice. The rest of the rink had burst into a deafening cheer. Gokudera looked down onto the ice and saw the squishy, smelly remains of an octopus laying on the ice, thrown down by a spectator. An older man, a janitor by the Italian’s reckoning, walked onto the ice and picked up the creature. Once he was off the ice, the man began to twirl the damn thing over his head.

“What on earth…?” Gokudera gaped, dumbfounded by the display. To think he had seen Takeshi and his father do strange things with an octopus for sushi reasons… yet this took the cake.

“You look confused, mister,” laughed a young boy who had been sitting in the row behind Gokudera and Ryohei for the entire game. “Don’t you know about the octopus or are you just for the other team?”

“I’m here on business, so I do not know your traditions,” Gokudera said, unable to take his eyes off the twirling cephalopod. The kid giggled and lightly punched Gokudera in the arm to get his attention.

“An octopus has eight arms and it used to take exactly eight wins to win the Stanley Cup,” the kid explained, holding up the appropriate number of fingers. A long time ago, a guy threw an octopus onto the ice during or before the playoffs and we won the Cup. It’s been tradition since then and we even adopted Al as our mascot!”

“You named it?”

“I didn’t name it! Someone else did!” the kid grinned. Just then, his grandmother came and informed him it was time to leave.

“Have fun in Detroit, mister!”

Gokudera turned back to where the man had been twirling the octopus to find that he had disappeared, replaced by one of the giant ice-cleaning Zamboni machines. Ryohei walked up to him and gave him a good slap on the back—grinning as if he was the baseball idiot.

“Wasn’t that game totally extreme?” he asked. Gokudera groaned and gave Ryohei a healthy slap to the back of the head.

“Come on; we’ve got actual work to do Lawn Head.”

A/N: For those who are curious, I’ve lived by Detroit my entire life and love the city dearly. We have a lot of problems, but we have a lot of good in us as well. I also love my ice hockey and CBC broadcasting so much you’d think I was Canadian at times.

Date Published
05/10/09 (Originally Created: 04/29/09)
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