Ha, got my groove back for a chapter. This is the first one I've been happy with for quite some time. Maybe it's because Taizu actually has a fun role for once and he gets a little edge on Count D. Anyway, Thanks for reading and reviewing!
"What on earth are you doing?" Taizu asked openly while walking into the shop. There were papers scattered everywhere and both the detective and D were sitting at a table with their sleeves rolled up, pens in hand. The badger was playing with a red pen in the corner on discarded papers and the goat was gnawing on American's leg at the ankle. Leon either didn't notice or didn't care. But, the detective looking scruffy seemed appropriate, but the Count with his sleeves rolled and in an apron and hair bonnet was just too much. He looked like a maid. "It's a mess in here."
"Ah, Taizu." D looked up from his place in the chair. Taizu was staring at him and D almost blushed when he realized he was still in his cleaning outfit. His highness was reminding D of Leon more and more every day. The man was stubborn, persistent and he was now among the few who had seen D out of his cheongsam. D needed to stop adding to his collection of human pets. "What a pleasant surprise, do sit down for a cup of tea."
"If I could find a spot." Taizu mumbled and looked at the couch when Leon absently shoved over some papers for him. Taizu found it odd that the man would be hospitable after their confrontation the other day, but he decided in this random chaos he'd call a truce. He had done it before with D after all. The business man shuttered when he remembered the chase around town for that Kappa. "Thank-you." Taizu took the offered seat and finally took a good look at the papers sprung around the room. "Classified ads?"
"Dear Leon is looking for a job." D added with a bit of distain in his voice. While he did agree the detective needed to get out and do something other than sit in the shop (while D enjoyed his company, it was unhealthy), but this job thing was too much. The Count didn't mind paying for Leon in the slightest. The man didn't need to work, yet a week after the incident,the man barged in with a stack of newspapers declaring D was going to help him find a job since it was D's fault he was out a job in the first place. As if D had planned for his father to kidnap the detective, really. "Apparently he feels he's abused my hospitality."
"Oh shut up and don't start again." Leon mumbled as he marked out another entry in Red. He had used D's charity plenty when he used the hotel connections to get a bunch of American newspapers so he could look for his job at home in the good old states. Leon was starting to miss Los Angeles more and more now that his big hunt was over and done. Besides, D could say he didn't mind all he wanted, that didn't stop Leon from feeling weird about borrowing all that money. "I'm sick of being a freeloading lump."
"And that's the case in his own words." D chuckled and marked out a few more entries on his own end. Leon may be qualified for construction work, he did have the hard head already, but D was still adamant the man find a job far away from the spectrum of physical labor. His knee was bad and while the man worked like an ox, D would prefer it if he didn't break his back for pennies when he had the potential for more. The man had some schooling and years of experience, just because he took a few years off to go on a crazy search around the world for Count D doesn't mean he should be turned away for interviews. "How has your day been, highness?"
"About average, actually." Taizu shook his head and lifted up a paper. There were tons of little X's and O's marked all over the printed ink. He did also, however, notice that the jobs Leon circled were the ones the Count put X's through on his own copies, and vise-versa from a quick glance. Amusing, the detective didn't think he was cut out for educated labor and the Count was pushing him away from normal work. Actually, it looked like D was hardly approving of any jobs for the man. Maybe, D didn't want Leon to leave? Taizu suddenly smiled and crossed his fingers under his chin. "Well, if he just wants a temporary job in the meantime before he finds a 'career' in the states, I'm sure I could help with that."
Leon looked over at the business man. He kicked at T-chan to get him off his leg so he could pay more attention. The goat sulked and hid under the couch. "Really?"
"I do own quite a few establishments. It wouldn't be difficult to put you to work in one of them, part time or full depending on what you want for now." Taizu chuckled, but inwardly his brain was working. Leon had warned him against his measures against Count D, but having the man under his employ would mean he could keep a much closer eye on him. For someone who practically lived in the shop, surely he would see the illegal activities D had going on. Unless he really was that dumb, but Taizu liked to believe otherwise. "And I can even put you in a place where they speak English."
"Seriously? That'd be great, for now." Leon answered with a touch of excitement. The fact it was Taizu offering the job raised suspicions, but they were nothing compared to the chance to have a real reason to avoid the pet shop. For the past two days, D had been acting just plain weird. He was touching Leon more and had taken to sitting next to him on the couch instead of across. It wasn't horrible as it was just touches to the shoulder or the occasional pat on the thigh, but it was starting to weird out the ex-detective and yesterday he made up his mind that some distance between the two of them might fix things. It'd go back to when Leon was on the force and only visited D when he was out of work and back to normal. "What would I be doing?"
"How would you feel about being a store clerk?" Taizu offered and tossed the paper he had been holding down on the table. "We have a down-town shop geared for tourists that needs a few people to speak English to cater to the guests. They haven't advertised their need for help just yet, but I do know they're going to ask for more sometime this week."
"So I'd be selling stuff?"
"More or less." Taizu snuck a look over at D who also had sat down his paper and pen. The man had started to pull off his hair cover and apron; D's eyes locked with his for a moment and the slightest threat was behind those mismatched eyes. Someone was protective. "Or mostly answer questions. All of the register work would be handled by locals so you'd only have to work the floor."
"Sure, I can do that." Leon laughed and gave his good leg a slap before rubbing his nose. He shouldn't be this excited, but Leon really missed working and making something of himself. "I've always been a people person, right D?"
D snorted and started to stack papers. On the one hand, D was happy that Leon was finding a job that was in Kabuki-chou instead of the states. When dear Leon mentioned getting a job back home, D had been upset that the man was leaving so soon. He'd only been there for a little over a month. On the other hand, it was his highness Rau Wu Fei who was offering the job. The man was up to something again and D was getting tired of these shenanigans. Really, Leon was bad enough in his glory days. The Count didn't need Taizu picking up the slack. "Only when you're sober, darling Leon."
"Hey!" Leon huffed and helped D collect the papers. Taizu was smiling softly, clearly amused by their antics. Leon pouted and decided to ignore the smug Count for the moment. "So anyway, when could I start?"
"How about tomorrow?" Taizu reached down over his side to grab a loose newspaper that had floated to the other side of the couch. He dropped it on top of the ever growing stack and smirked at the growing ever angry Count. "I can show you the shop and give you a schedule and pay rate. I'm thinking of maybe a 30 hour week so you could still look for a job at home in the meantime?"
"That's really rather kind of you, highness." D added with a smirk. "I hardly considered you the charitable type."
Taizu smirked and adjusted his glasses. "That's because you only get to see my bad side."
"Than I should be honored by this sneak peak."
"Yeah, yeah." Leon rolled his eyes. "Enough of the fake formality already. It drove me crazy when it was just D doing it." The man stood and stretched his arms over his head. He let his arms settle on his waist and smiled. It was a good thing Leon knew the best way to get on everyone's good side. "It's lunchtime already, so let's get something to eat."
It was D's turn to roll his eyes. "I swear, darling. Food is all you ever think about."
"And women. Don't forget them." Leon laughed as D coughed into his hand with a disapproving frown. "What can I say? I'm all man. Food, sex and sleep is all I need to keep going."
"Animal you mean." D tapped the papers ferociously onto the table as he straightened them. "I swear, those carnal desires are going to be the death of you."
"It'd be a good way to go."
D is jealous. Taizu thought to himself as he watched the two begin to bicker. The first time he had caught them fighting, he was shocked. After a few weeks around them Taizu realized it was commonplace for D to squabble with Leon- and for good reason. The man was head-over-heels falling all over the mangy American. Taizu smirked and decided to make sure there was a busty lady working with Leon at the shop. If he couldn't reveal D for the low-life slave trader he was, than he could at the very least push the man's buttons.
"Wow, this place is nice." Leon whistled as he walked into the shop behind Taizu. He was dressed in a new, crisp black suit that D had picked out for him. Both Taizu and D insisted that he get a new wardrobe for working because his jeans and printed tees weren't appropriate. And suddenly Leon agreed with him. The blonde swallowed and loosened his red, diamond printed tie as he took in his surroundings. "Shit."
The shop was huge and spanned at least two floors decked out from head to toe in every sort of trinket a tourist could possibly want to get their hands on – only in a spacious setting with plush carpets and decorated shelves. There was jewelry off in one corner, vases in another, figurines, dolls, and other little fancy knickknacks. There was even some animal statues along the front counter to compliment the already ornate registers. It was a junk shop for the rich. Leon walked over to a shelve and took a look at the price tag. The very, very rich.
"I'm glad you approve." Taizu bit his lip to keep from laughing. Unlike D, this man apparently was not used to the rich life. Taizu actually found that a bit odd, even if the man had been lower middle class with his past job. "I'm surprised you look so out of place. I'm sure D dragged you with him to all sorts of high life events."
"Yeah, he did." Leon stood back up and looked at the man. "And I felt out of place at every single one. Like that ballet he took me to- I was bored out of my mind. Hell, for one he made me an accomplice on rigging a horse race! Me! The cop! I'm still pissed about that one."
"He rigged a horse race?" Taizu rose an eyebrow. "What did he do?"
"Had me blow some whistle to root on a horse." Leon rubbed his head. "The horse we were rooting for was deaf or something so it didn't hear it and go crazy. I thought it was just a normal whistle, but the second I blew it all the horses went nuts. I convinced myself it was a coincidence for weeks before I came to terms with what happened."
"That does sound like something a pet shop owner would know." Taizu smiled. "And you didn't turn him in because you would also have to turn yourself in, I take it?"
Leon laughed nervously. "Something like that, and I guess it was for the best. The girl who owned the horse worked really hard and it was a good horse, or something..." Leon started to trail off. "But anyway, I'll be really working here?"
Taizu nodded. "That's what I said. Have a little faith in me, I am a businessman at heart and I do keep to my word."
"Good to know." Leon smiled. "Where's everyone else?"
"The shop doesn't open for another twenty minutes yet, I'm sure they're in the back." Taizu started walking down an aisle. "I figured I'd show you around a bit first before introducing you."
"Sounds like a plan."
Leon followed Taizu around the shop and made mental notes in his head. Red tagged items on shelves were reproductions and the customers were free to pick up and touch them as they wanted. Green tags were originals and were not to be touched unless an associate was present (an associate trained to handle antiques, not Leon) to assist. Expensive or rare items were usually behind glass or on a separate stand with information cards and a name tack. All in all it was pretty straight forward and Leon would mostly be repeating that information to guests.
"Ah, and here they are." Taizu paused in the middle of explaining the wonders of the jewelry security system when he noticed the time. It was time for Leon to meet his new co-workers. One by one they filtered in from their lunch break and Taizu could literally see Leon's jaw drop. This was going to be even better revenge against D than he originally thought. "Let me introduce you to your new floor clerk. This is Leon Orcott."
"Woah." Leon was going to like working here. From the sound of amused giggling, Leon decided he was really, really, going to like working here. How could he ever have thought bad of Taizu? The man was a saint! "I uh, mean. Nice to meet you."
"What's up with you?" T-chan asked the Count. The man was at it again, but instead of going on a cleaning frenzy, he was in a rage. The man had an aura of anger surrounding him and even the pets were avoiding him. It was times like this where the Totetsu was happy he was a favorite. "You should be happy Leon's at work, 'cause now you can give out proper contracts without worrying about him interfering. Besides, the man comes here straight after work to bitch anyway."
The Count shoved a freshly signed contract into filing cabinet with a bit more force than necessary. It was true, he had been neglecting his duties due to dear Leon's constant presence. Selling normal pets for weeks had let him get slack, but now that he had more time he could go back to punishing the unjust. However, D was more concerned about other things than the deaths of ignorant humans. "I'm not worried about Leon having a job. He's been at that shop for a few weeks already and he's doing just fine."
T-chan smirked and started drumming his fingers along the fabric of the count. When he spoke next, he tried to keep his voice innocent but he was sure the sarcasm was coming through. "Or maybe you're just worried about his co-workers."
D stiffened and put on a very fake, bright smile to hide his sudden anger. T-chan was starting to cross a line that he should not. Stupid perceptive little Totetsu. "Now why would I worry about that?"
"I don't know," the Totetsu inspected his claws before pull up the belt on his pants and snuggling into the couch. "You always get so twitchy when he talks about Ms. Yoshiko."
D closed the filing cabinet with a slam.
"Or Ms. Cali."
D stalked towards his tea cart fully intending to pour a cup of tea.
"Or Ms. Miao."
A very large cup of tea and he cut a slice of chocolate cake.
"Or we can't forget the wonderful Ms. Haruka who the detective has yet to realize is really a man." T-chan paused. "He went on about her for hours because she was hitting on him at work, remember?"
D slammed his palms onto the top of the cart and snarled. There was a great silence that went over the pet shop as every animal within sight of D disappeared to hide. The Count was pissed. "Damn that Rau Wu Fei! He did that on purpose! I know it!"
"Now, why would he do that?" T-chan smiled slyly. "Put Leon to work in a shop with an all female (more or less) staff? And they're all so pretty and willing to flirt with him, too."
"He's trying to get under my skin." D poured a cup of tea angrily and sipped it while still standing at the cart. He felt like he was taking a short of bourbon. In fact, this was almost an occasion to actually break into his liquor cabinet. D did just that and spiked his tea. The detective would have been proud of him drinking something stronger than oolong. "And it's working."
"So you're finally admitting it, then?" T-chan stretched out on the couch full length and watched the count intensively.
"That you're jealous."
"Don't be ridiculous." D snorted and walked over to sit in his comfy chair. He needed to relax and catch his breath before he frightened any more of his precious pets. "Jealous? Hardly. I'm worried for his well being and state of mind. Clearly those girls are only flirting because Taizu instructed them to do so. There's no substance and the potential for him to be hurt is great."
"I doubt the detective cares as long as he gets some." T-chan rolled his eyes. "This is Leon we're talking about."
"I'm sure the man has some standards."
"Blonde and large chested?" T-chan emphasized his point by cupping his hands around his chest suggestively.
D frowned and ignored the Totetsu. He had no idea what he was talking about. D was only worried for the man's well-being. That was all. D enjoyed Leon's company and considered the man a friend; the rare exception to the scum that composed the majority of the human race. D thought of those women hanging on Leon's arm and flirting with him against his own will and nearly groaned. Who was he kidding? Grandfather noticed. Pon-chan must have noticed. T-chan noticed. Hell, even Taizu had noticed.
D had a crush on Leon.
Which lead him to problem two- how to act upon said crush? D knew it would be futile to truly push the relationship. Leon was the epitome of masculine desires and if how he reacted to D just touching him was any indication it was doubtful he would react well to advances of the romantic kind. That and there was the issue of Leon being human in the first place. Just like Chris, Leon couldn't stay in the shop forever.
D had made up his mind long ago that regardless of what his Grandfather and Totetsu hinted for his future actions, that he would not trap Leon within the shop. Though, he was seriously reconsidering that decision every time Leon would comment on any of those, fine ladies. (And D was certain if Leon fell for Haruka he was going to make a personal house call and drop Totetsu off at the cross-dresser's door step.) But that was understandable, if the Count couldn't keep Leon forever, than didn't he deserve the man all to himself while he had him?
D groaned and rubbed his head. This whole mess was driving him crazy and he really wished it was five o'clock already. These thoughts only plagued him when darling Leon was not home. When the man was here, things went smoothly and fine because for some reason Leon's presence in the shop was normal and comfortable. D took another sip of tea and willed himself to change subjects. He was getting far too close to doing something he would regret.
The door jingled and D smoothed his hair and dress. It seems he had a customer; what a wonderful way to distract himself from crude Americans and the issues they dragged into D's life. "Welcome to my pet shop. Here we sell love and dreams, how can I help you?"