Chapter Seven: Appointing
"Kanda!" Rabi called into the phone.
"…is there a reason why you're calling? I already sent in my paycheck…" Kanda said dryly, preparing to place the phone back in its holder.
"Hold it, Kanda! Don't tell me you don't remember?" Rabi cried in surprise.
"…what are you talking about, you baka usa-gaki?" He heard an exasperated sigh over the slightly static phone line.
"Never mind, Kanda. Just come by HQ today at two o'clock. Two o'clock sharp!" Rabi reminded him. There was a brief pause. "Come alone." It was a command.
Kanda really wasn't too thrilled stepping out of the cool house and into the swelteringly hot outside world, excruciatingly hot, courtesy of the irritatingly June sun. As glad as he was that he didn't have to pitch his voice a notch higher, there were so many other things that he'd rather do.
He changed out of the thin, gossamer maid's uniform, pulling on a loose white shirt and baggy black pants tied off a patterned belt. Hastily brushing his hair and pulling it up painstakingly into a high ponytail, he grabbed his katana, strapping it onto his back, and stepped out the front door. He squinted against the brightness, shielding his dark, blackish brown eyes. Rabi better had a good reason for calling him on such an undesirable day.
He trudged onto the steps of the tenement wearily, glaring at the door as he knocked half heartedly. The door swung opened, revealing a sweaty Rabi, whom was unable to stop grin. "It's good to see you Kanda." He glanced out behind Kanda and nodded. "Come in."
Kanda didn't even walk a full step forward when graffiti was thrown in every direction, many of which settled to stick in his hair. "Happy Birthday, Kanda!" Rabi squealed, jumping up and down like a child. He gripped Kanda by the shoulders in excitement, his eyes bright and delighted. "Guess what, Kanda?"
"…what?"Am I going to regret asking this?
"Gramps will tell you!"
"So let's go meet him already!" Kanda hissed impatiently. "I didn't walk here in the stupid heat for 15 stupid minutes just to attend some stupid party, even if it is mine."
"Kanda is so unappreciative!"
"And proud of it," he growled.
Nonetheless, Rabi refused to budge, forcing Kanda to remain downstairs amidst the rambunctious, lively music the sprung forth from the fiddlers' violins and the harmonicas, and the pounding of feet and clapping. Rabi laughed, pushing him onto the middle of the table as the Japanese youth rolled his eyes, sighing, and drawing the bow across the ehru – a gift that the redhead insisted one birthday of his that he should most definitely play.
Kanda preferred quieter, slower music, and it showed through the sweet, subtle melody that danced in the room. "If you don't mind, I'm going to steal the birthday boy away for the moment!" Rabi shouted, pulling Kanda off the table by his collar, nearly choking him to death in the process.
"Don't call me that!" Kanda snarled. Rabi paid no attention, dragging him up the stairs and into the lone room carved into the end of a long, dark hallway, better known as the office the Bookman.
Kanda slowed his lips, none too eager to see the old man, though "Panda-chan", as Rabi so affectionately called him, had treated him well over the years. Before Rabi even knocked, a dry, raspy voice called out. "Come in." The door creaked over, with Bookman's dark, squinty eyes staring out on them as he calmly sat in a leather chair that seemed too big for him, arms folded within his voluminous sleeves.
"Kanda," Panda said from the comfort of his giant chair, "you are now 18, correct?"
"Yes, Bookman," Kanda answered politely.
Bookman nodded. "Since Rabi will soon be done with his training as the next in line, I will entrust you to him, as while you are his closest friend…" Rabi beamed, "you would not make rash decisions and protect him accordingly. Come close, Kanda, and hold out your palm." Doing as he was told, said Japanese boy shuffled over, staring at Bookman in the eyes. "I now appoint you as his right hand man." Something heavy was dropped into his hand, and he glanced down in surprise – an elaborate, but antique wooden token, painted brightly. "Take good care of it. It shows your station now."