Chapter 2- A Day Out
The next morning provided an interesting conundrum for the young ghoul. The cabin he lived in offered only meager living space; granted, he had never needed any more and it was larger than the studio he once owned in the 20th ward, but it was becoming horrendously obvious that he needed to do something about their living arrangements. It wouldn't do any good to have a child sleeping on the sofa every night.
Padding out of his room, Uta observed his surroundings. The structure of his home consisted of a single bathroom, bedroom, living room and a kitchen attached which really only encompassed a fridge and a stovetop. He could split the living room in half, giving Kaneki enough space to have a room (minus a door and all the furnishings that could make it a 'room'). After mulling the idea over in his head, another more fascinating idea emerged. He immediately rushed to the couch, finding that Kaneki had only recently woken up, hair in disarray and hands rubbing at the sleep in his eyes.
"Morning," he yawned, "Uta-san."
"A good morning to you as well, Kaneki-kun. I hope you slept well." The ghoul responded cordially, red pupils observing the boy with curiosity. It was so rare to have genuine conversations with humans—or ghouls, for that matter. It seemed that a lot of the ghouls he ran into were attack first, talk later types; a shame, since ghoul flesh tasted so disgusting. If it didn't then he wouldn't be in the predicament he was in now, isolating himself from society (and failing).
And humans? Well, humans were certainly finicky, strange, and awe-inspiring all the same. But, there was a thin line between adoration and hunger… Uta stopped himself before the familiar hunger emerged.
The child nodded, draping the blanket he used in his sleep over the back of the couch. "I did. How about you?"
Uta shook his head. "I barely slept at all. I'm a night owl, you see. Did you know you mumble in your sleep? I can hear you, even in my room."
Kaneki blushed. "N-no… what did I say?"
"Nonsensical things. Random colors. Shapes. Emotions. Very fascinating, really. It gave me an idea for a new mask."
This peaked the young boy's interest. "Masks? Like for masquerades and stuff?"
Uta nodded. "Something like that…" He paused, hearing the child's stomach rumble. "Are you hungry?"
Uta was sure that they made an odd pair. From his messy dark hair, tattoos, piercings, and sunglasses, he imagined he look far from a parental figure. Standing in an aisle at a small grocery store, he was glad for the lack of customers; there were only a few patrons that he could rattle off from scent alone. The city had not lost its temptation, but he was here to help a human child, not leap off in a blood rage. There'd be time for that later… if his vow to pacifism every waned.
He was as finicky as a human, after all.
"Pick whatever you want. Money's not a problem." He said casually, motioning to the aisle of breakfast cereals. Just looking at food made him feel slightly nauseous. The sooner Kaneki picked what he wanted, the better. Besides, he needed to get rid of the wads of yen he had from all the suicide victims he found in the forest; taking money from the dead wasn't the best way to line one's pocket, but Uta had imagined that the money would come in handy one day.
"A-are you sure? I don't want to be a—"
"Burden? Children are never that." He interrupted, turning away to look at an elderly woman who had entered their aisle. Curious, he gave what he assumed to be a friendly wave.
The silver-haired woman nodded back, pulling her cart closer to the pair.
"Why hello there, sweetie. You're certainly cute, aren't you?" She looked happily at Kaneki who currently had three large cereal boxes pressed to his chest.
"…Thank you." The boy responded shyly, depositing the boxes into the shopping car before darting behind Uta, fingers grasping at the tails of the man's long-coat.
"Aww, there's no reason to be shy, child." The woman cooed, approaching again.
Uta looked back at Kaneki in confusion. Was this elderly woman really more intimidating than him?
"Is he your son?" She questioned, ivory beads dangling with every tilt of her body as she crouched down to look the boy in the eyes.
"…Yes." There was no reason to get into details with a stranger, after all.
Her eyes widened as she cupped the child's cheeks, laughing. "Splendid! I can definitely see a resemblance! You know you're very brave, raising a child all on your own; there aren't too many single fathers running around."
The trio chatted for a few minutes and Uta was surprised to see that Kaneki still wouldn't let go of his coat; though, the child did strike up a hearty discussion about books with the woman before she went back to her grocery shopping.
The whole ordeal went over a lot better than he thought it would. They continued their own shopping, buying enough foodstuff to last the young boy a good month. Uta let the child hold a single plastic bag (a light one filled with only a couple cans) while he held the bulk of their purchases. He held five full bags on each arm, but the weight didn't bother him; even if the walk back was a few miles, he'd be fine. He'd suffered under a much heavier burden at one time.
The trek back seemed to take a bit longer, but he was able to point out a few areas that Kaneki was forbidden to wander into.
"There's a bog over there. One step and you'd be covered to your eyelids in mud."
The boy gulped, following more closely behind the ghoul.
"When you see these two boulders you'll know to turn back immediately. There a cliff here; a few careless steps and you'll go splat!"
Kaneki nodded wildly, nearly stepping on the back of Uta's shoes as he trotted behind him.
The tattooed ghoul stopped suddenly, causing the boy to collide into his back, falling back into a thick pile of leaves.
"Never go past this canopy of trees."
Getting to his feet, the boy asked curiously, "Why not?"
Uta didn't respond; he continued towards the path that would bring them back to the cabin. The acre of trees acted as a marker where he found most of his suicide victims.
Once they made it back to the cabin Uta helped Kaneki put all the food away. He had to move some eyeballs he had kept in jars for snacks (something that Kaneki cringed at), but all of the supplies seemed to fit. The cans and cereal were stuffed unceremoniously in one of the empty cabinets. It was then that he noticed the child's ragtag shoes and dirty shirt.
"Go take a bath. I have some clothes you might be able to fit into. Tomorrow, we'll get you some new clothes and…" he paused, a painted nail poised at his chin, "human children go to school, right? We'll have to get you enrolled somehow."
Before the boy could respond, Uta's eyes widened. "I almost forgot; you can have my bedroom instead of sleeping on the couch. I'll sleep on the couch since I rarely sleep anyway."
The boy looked down shyly, fingers clinging to the hem of his shirt. "A-are you sure? I mean, you've done so much for me already. I don't mind sleeping on the couch—"
"Nonsense—if you don't agree I'll just eat you."
"O-okay! Whatever you say, Uta-san!" He stuttered back, stumbling towards the bathroom. It was a few moments later that Uta heard the sound of water running
The ghoul smiled warmly. Kaneki certainly was a peculiar child…
a/n: haha… please don't kill me guys ;-; I'm now a freshman in college, enrolled in an honors program, and trying to go the premed route to my desired degree so I have more than enough to keep me busy. I really love this story and can guarantee it won't be dropped, but updates will be sporadic at best. Hopefully, next semester will be easier, but until then I'm gonna be away from my stories for a while. I hope you understand :/
Regardless, I appreciate all the traffic this story is getting! I never expected this much of an outpouring of support and I can say that the tg fandom is one of the best fandoms to be in! I love all of you so much! Without your kind words I'd probably never get around to updating tbh ^^'
So yes, thank you all again for sticking with the story so far! I hope you enjoy everything that is yet to come!
Also, as for the ending of Tokyo Ghoul and Uta's role… I still believe there's more to him. how many times has a villain been redeemed in this manga? So here's to the truth behind Uta being revealed in Tokyo Ghoul: re, the sequel!
((p.s. updates about fanfiction can be found on my tumblr, under the same name!))