Disclaimer: I don't own Samurai Champloo.
Notes: First Samurai Champloo fic, written as a request from Legendary Chimera. I couldn't manage to make a pairing out of it like I was supposed to, but I think I did alright for a first-timer . . .
"Just Another Day" by Dailenna
It was a lovely quiet day at the Yasuchika restaurant. Business was booming, and customers were pouring in as they never had before; so many there weren't enough seats for them all. The kitchens were struggling to match the orders of the restaurant's many patrons, and Akira, the kitchen-hand, had been sent out to find fresh ingredients, because the ones that had been in stock were used before schedule.
At least, that's what Yasuchika wished was happening.
Instead, his meagre two customers had turned tail and fled after those people had arrived, and he was left wondering if he even had enough money to resupply his kitchen.
With a loud 'whump!' all three travellers had fallen onto the front stop of the restaurant, and in unison croaked out a loud cry of "Fooo-d!"
Yasuchika had come hurrying from the kitchen, where he had been idling, and put on his most friendly face in front of what he believed to be paying customers. (Alas, how wrong he was – he should have kicked them out the moment they arrived.)
"Of course!" he said, pulling the man with the glasses up by his elbow and helping him over to a table. The other two followed on their hands and knees, energised by his positive response. "Fumie, bring these fine people some . . ."
"Dumplings," the wild-haired man groaned, clutching his stomach.
"Dumplings," the girl seconded.
"Dumplings," the man with the glasses agreed.
"And sake!" the wild-haired man and girl both said (the man thumped his hand on the table). The man with the glasses nodded.
Yasuchicka looked at them uncertainly. What sort of traveller ordered sake on an obviously empty stomach. Well, so long as it brought in more money . . .
"Dumplings and sake, Fumie," he told his daughter, who had been waiting for his okay.
The order had been renewed over and again, and Yasuchika was confident that these three alone were eating enough that his monetary intake for this month alone had doubled. It was some time before Yasuchika became suspicious and approached them.
"Hey, you are going to pay for all of this, aren't you?" After all, does how much money does the average traveller carry with them?
The girl looked at him, her cheeks full of unswallowed dumplings. "We're shupposhed to pay for all of thish?" Food went flying as she spoke.
Yasuchika's eyes thinned. "Yes. I am not running a charity here."
"But you shaid to give ush food." She swallowed – thank goodness. "You never asked if we had the money to pay for it."
The two men with her looked at one another, faces serious, but their eyes gleaming. "Time to go!" As one, they stood and ran away, out of the restaurant before the owner could stop them.
"Hey wait!" Yasuchika cried fruitlessly. He turned back to the girl, who was staring after them blankly, and pointed an angry finger at her. "You're going to work off the debt you just incurred."
"But-! . . ." She sighed and frowned. "Those unreliable sneaks."
The moment he was able to find a reliable artist, Yasuchika had quick pictures of those no-good thieves posted around town, saying that anyone who saw them should let him know. It was a week later, and no one had seen as much as a hair of them yet. Fuu – for that was the girl's name – had been working at his restaurant, paying off their bill. It was going slowly because she also needed to pay for her current food and lodging expenses.
It was a shock, then, when the moment he told her the debt was paid off, who should walk into the restaurant but those two criminals?
"Good work, Fuu. Let's go," the wild-haired one said, with a wicked grin.
"You!" Yasuchika growled.
Fuu flew towards them, shouting. "You idiots! Next time I should leave you to pay your own debts! I've been working hard here, and what do you two have to show for yourselves?"
"I want you out of my shop!" Yasuchika cried, although he suspected they weren't listening to him.
"We're alive," the one with the glasses said nonchalantly. They were all still ignoring the restaurant owner.
The few customers left slowly crept out, inching their way warily around the shouting party. Yasuchika's head whipped after them. "Wait! You haven't paid yet!"
Before he knew what was happening, the strange trio also seemed to be arguing their way towards the door.
Yasuchika rubbed tiredly at his eyes and thought again about calling them back. If they were not arguing in his shop then maybe he would get more customers. Their debt had been paid and he had pulled relatively even – although he would have liked to extract the debt from the two men as well, for their cheek in running away.
The old man sat down in one of the booths, looking about at his empty restaurant, shaking his head.
He looked up as Fumie rushed out from the kitchens.
"It- It's all missing!"
Yasuchika frowned. "What's missing, girl?"
"The sake!" she said, eyes wide. "And all the dumplings!"
"What!?" He jumped to his feet and dashed into the kitchens, bustling around to check on all of the food. Missing. Totally missing. How had those travellers done it? They hadn't even entered the kitchen. Only Fuu . . .
He was going to be ruined.
Mugen contentedly picked the last dumpling off his stick as they walked along. "This should be able to keep us going another few days."
"Yeah, just be glad that I had all that with me," Fuu scowled. "A girl never knows when she'll get hungry . . ."
"Or thirsty," said Jin, eyeing the sake bottle sticking out of the knapsack she had picked up on the way out of the shop.
"That's right." Fuu's voice went up in a squeak as Mugen put his arm around her. "Mugen, what are you doing! How inappropriate!"
The wild-haired man frowned. "What are you talking about – you ain't my type." With a grin, he pulled out the small coin-purse that had been attached to her belt.
"Give that back! I earned that myself!"
"I think I'm going to get some women that are my type in the next town over," Mugen said thoughtfully.
Jin's eyes glinted, and he snatched the coin purse from Mugen. Fuu huffed and made to take the purse from Jin, but the tall man held the purse away from her and looked at it, mentally counting the money inside. "I'm in," he said.
Fuu glared at him. "Not you too! Perverts!"
The two men seemed to share a glance, and Fuu found herself coughing in the dust they left behind as they high-tailed it towards the next town. She crossed her arms over her chest and scowled.
"Stupid men. They don't have a clue how to act as bodyguards."