Kinda of a fun chapter. Poor Wantanuki…. =_= Almost makes me feel sorry for him.
Many thanks to TayTai-BloodBlueRose for reviewing!
Wantanuki bid good-bye to Maru and Moro on his way out. As he stepped outside he saw Yuko sitting on the porch, her opium pipe in hand. "Yuko, I didn't know you were back."
She blew out the smoke. "Yes, apparently my customer had to think over my offer." A smile came to her lips. "But how are our guests? Settled in I hope."
"Yeah, they're fine." He clutched his bag. "Yuko, there's something I don't understand."
"What is it?"
"Why are they here? If they don't have a wish then they can't enter the shop, right?" The question had been bugging him all night and he couldn't hold it in any longer.
Yuko stared off into the yard. "They all have a wish, that is to find the Innocence that is hidden in my shop." Her lips pursed around the pipe as she took a long drag. Wantanuki wanted to ask what exactly the Innocence was, but it was clear from her tone she wasn't going to tell him any more. Smell of opium filled the air as she breathed out. "You don't have school tomorrow, correct?"
"Come by the shop early then, I have a feeling our exorcists will need your assistance."
Wantanuki scowled. Early work, on the weekend? "Fine, fine, you'll probably want me to cook breakfast too."
"Of course," she replied with a smile.
"I knew it." Despite his grumbling, they both knew he would be there bright and early. He turned away. "Fine, I'll be going then."
"Wantanuki," she said.
"What is it now?"
Yuko gave him a pouting frown. "Why the bad mood? Here, I need you to hold onto this for me." She held her hand out and dropped a golden object into his hand.
"This is…this belongs to that white-haired boy."
"Yes it does. He's a golem called Timcanpy. If he stays the night here, he will be in danger. Please take him home with you and bring him back in the morning." Yuko leaned back, the tip of her pipe perched on her bottom lip. "That's all."
Wantanuki wondered if Timcanpy's owner was aware of this, but he decided he didn't want to know. He sighed. "Alright. Good night then."
"Good night." Yuko watched him go with a smile. Despite the unsettling encounter with the Noah earlier, she felt confidant that this would turn out to be most entertaining.
Wantanuki saw many spirits on his way to and from school, home and work. These days they were mostly small ones, though every now and again he did have a particularly large one take a liking to him. If that happened he would just run until he reached his destination and hope he could loose it. Thanks to this he was a fairly good runner. You had to be when you're life depended on it.
That morning turned out to be a quite one. No spirits were hanging outside of his house or hovering in the shadows of the streets. He carried two bags full of food, griping about having to cook for Yuko so much. The streets were empty, leaving him to lament to himself.
Timcanpy fluttered around his head, clearly anxious to get back to the shop. Wantanuki frowned at it. "I wonder what sort of danger Yuko was talking about? Hm…"A shadow came over him and he stopped dead. He could feel his stomach sink to his feet as he slowly turned to see the massive creature that hovered over him.
He stumbled back. "A spirit?" he sputtered. Timcanpy jumped and flew into his jacket to hide. Wantanuki didn't notice in his shock. "I've never seen one that big before!" Three more identical ones appeared and the bespectacled boy paled. "That's not good!" With cry he turned and sprinted down the street. The four round spirits followed him. They had pained faces on them, with a star in the middle of their foreheads. "Why me? Why me? Why me?" he panted as he ran down the street. It was a miracle he managed to not drop any food in his haste. "I don't have time for this!" After a few blocks of running the spirits did something that had never happened before; they fired at him.
Wantanuki yelled and dodged the purple blasts. To his surprise, they left craters in the asphalt. What kind of spirits were these? Yuko's shop loomed into view and he smiled. "Alright, I'm almost there. WAH!" The smell of burning sidewalk reached his nose as he was attacked again. He ran and threw himself against the fence. "There, that should do it." A smile came to his face, but melted away as he looked up to see his attackers were still there. "What? What's going on?" Every other time spirits followed him, he just had to touch Yuko's fence and they would disappear. They aimed their cannons at him and he yelled. "Yuko!" Moving as fast as his lanky legs would move he ran to the opening in the fence.
"Innocence, activate!" Allen appeared out of nowhere and attacked the spirits. Wantanuki stared as he saw his left arm was now a long, silver claw. With a few slashes, he destroyed them. He landed and ran over to Wantanuki. "Are you ok?"
The dark-haired youth blinked and gaped at him. "How did you…y-you can see them too?"
"What?" Allen's left eye burned a bright red. A normal person would have found this strange, but considering Wantanuki shared half an eye with someone, he didn't question it.
Wantanuki stood up. "Those spirits, I thought I was the only one who could see them. Other than Yuko."
"Those weren't spirits," Lavi said, coming up from behind. "They were akuma."
"This is most unfortunate," Yuko said as she appeared at his side. "I was hoping the shop's barrier would keep them out, but I guess not."
Allen's arm and eye returned back to normal. "So, you can see spirits?"
Wantanuki nodded. "Yeah, but only a few people other than me can see them. But…I've never seen an akuma. Are they from your world?"
"I guess you could say that, but they're quite a sight there too." Lavi folded his arms behind his head. "Well, I guess we better start searching."
"And you can start breakfast," Yuko sang. "I'm in the mood for pancakes."
He glowered at her. "I almost get killed and all you can think about is food?" he yelled. Timcanpy came out of his jacket and flew to Allen.
"Timcanpy? What…" He looked at Wantanuki. "Why did you have Timcanpy?" he asked suspiciously.
Yuko smiled and rested a pale arm on the short boy's head. "I asked him to hold onto him for the night. I hope you don't mind."
Allen paled. "But why would you—"
"I am expecting payment from a customer to come in any day now. I know how much cats like to eat golems so I figured you would prefer me putting your little friend away from the shop rather than find him missing." Allen started to object but Yuko ignored him. "But let's not talk outside. Let's go eat."
The witch went back inside and the three boys followed. "I'm really sorry about that," Wantanuki said to Allen. "I was hoping she had told you, but I guess not."
"It's fine," Allen said. "Don't worry about it." A dark expression came over his face. Lavi looked deep in thought as well.
Wantanuki frowned. "Are you worried about the Akuma?"
They jumped. "Uh…something like that," Allen said.
"They're a good and a bad sign. It shows there really is Innocence here," Lavi looked up at the sky. "But it also means the akuma know about it. It could lead to trouble."
"Ms. Yuko said there was a barrier around the shop, do you know how she maintains it?"
Wantanuki shook his head. "No, to be honest I don't really know how anything at the shop works."
The two exorcists sighed. "Oh well, I guess we'll just ask Ms. Yuko," Allen said.
"Don't expect a straight answer," the dark-haired boy warned. "And be careful, she usually charges for information."
"Charges?" Lavi sputtered.
A roaring yell came from down the hall and they stopped. "What was that?" Wantanuki asked.
"It sounded…almost like Kanda…" Allen said.
The blue-haired exorcist appeared, a death glare aimed at Lavi. "You…" he growled. "I'll kill you this time!" Allen looked like he wasn't sure whether to run or to laugh. Kanda's long hair was in a braid, finished off with a large bow.
"It wasn't me this time I swear, Yuu!" Lavi wailed.
"Don't call me that!" Kanda drew he katana and ran at them. Wantanuki and Allen moved out of the way but Kanda didn't make it. His foot caught on a socked foot and he fell face-first with a crash.
Maru and Moro appeared from the corridor and smiled at him. "We did it! We did it!" They sang.
"Mistress said it was shame you left all your hair in just a ponytail like that," Maru said.
"So we decided to make it prettier!" Moro added.
"Prettier! Prettier!" The twins danced around the fallen Kanda, who was shaking with anger.
He looked up and glowered at them. "You little…"
"Oh cut it out!" Lenalee said, her foot landing on his head. "They're just kids, so save your energy for the akuma."
Lavi looked so relieved he was almost in tears. "Lenalee you saved me!"
Wantanuki swallowed hard. –I think this Kanda guy is even scarier than the akuma! –
"Sorry about him, he has a bad temper. Are you ok?" Lenalee asked him.
"I'm fine. I think I'm going to just go make breakfast." And with that, he scurried off to the kitchen.
After their meal, the four exorcists got to work. They planned to search Yuko's shop for anything that might have the Innocence in it. Of course, they didn't know what exactly what they were looking for, so it would take time.
Wantanuki searched with them but felt a little useless. "What is Innocence anyways?" he asked as he put another box back on the storeroom shelf.
"It's substance that has special abilities," Lenalee explained. "The Innocence is what gives us the ability to destroy akuma. But, it could be anything; a sword, a clock, a bell, anything really."
"Does Yuko know where the Innocence is?" Lavi asked.
The thin boy shrugged. "Who knows? If she does, don't expect her to tell you straight out, not for free anyways. Ugh, I can just hear her 'you didn't wish for me to give you the Innocence, only to come search for it. Too bad for you!' Or something like that. I drives me crazy the way she squeezes people for business."
"Why do you work for her if you hate her so much?" Allen asked.
"It's not by choice!" Wantanuki wailed. "I was tricked into making a wish and now I'm stuck paying for it by obeying her every whim. That's how she works. Once you come to the shop, she does her whole hituzen speech and then, you're in her clutches with no hope of escape."
"It sounds ridiculous to me," Kanda scoffed. Wantanuki looked at the tall man with blank surprise. "A shop that grants wishes, as if something like that could happen."
Lenalee lit up. "Wantanuki, do you think maybe Yuko gets her power from the Innocence and that's how she grants wishes?"
He thought on it for a moment. Could that be the source of Yuko's endless power? He looked at Allen and his scarred eye. "When you attacked the akuma, your arm was using Innocence?" he asked.
"Yeah, that's right."
"Then there's no way that's where Yuko gets her magic. I've seen in work and it looks nothing like you powers." He sighed. "Besides, often times she doesn't even have to use her magic to grant wishes. But I don't really understand it much myself."
"You know it's rude to talk about someone behind their back, right?" Yuko said from behind him.
Wantanuki yelled and turned a bright pink. "Y-Y-Yuko! I...d-didn't see you."
"Hmph." She bent down and put a finger under his chin. "I would say that this indecency would go on your tab for payment, but seeing you so embarrassed it just adorable."
"Glad I could entertain," he replied blandly.
The four exorcists watched the exchange with surprise.
"Most definitely not her son," Allen whispered.
"Maybe they're lovers?" Lenalee added.
"Or she just has a thing for her employees," Lavi said.
"How about you stop gossiping and actually do your job?!" Kanda yelled.
Wantanuki jerked away from Yuko. "Is there something you need?"
"Yes, I was just wondering if perhaps you could make me a little snack."
"You just had breakfast," he exclaimed.
She sighed. "Oh, but I'm just so hungry today. And I was thinking of having some soba noodles and I know yours are the best."
"Soba noodles aren't a snack! And I bet you want sake to go with it?"
"Ugh! You're such a drunk! Two cups of sake for you and that's it!"
"Wantanuki you're so mean!"
In his frustration, Wantanuki didn't notice Kanda perk up at the mention of soba noodles. Instead he gave up the argument with a growl. "Fine, but don't expect anything fancy."
"Be sure to make enough for Mokona too!" Yuko called to him. A cry of frustration was all she received as a response and she laughed. "Sorry to cause such a ruckus," she said to the four in the store room. "But, I just thought I should tell you that if you want to find the Innocence here, you're going to have to search a little faster."
"Why's that?" Lenalee asked.
Yuko examined her nails. "I'm not sure if you're aware, but this shop follows certain rules. If someone approaches me with the request of a wish and proper payment can be made, I am bound to grant that wish."
Lavi folded his arms. "What does that have to do with us?"
The witch tossed her long black hair over her shoulder. "I have had a customer approach me with a wish to obtain the Innocence here. Apparently she's an acquaintance of yours. Does the name Road Camelot ring a bell?"
Allen and Lenalee froze. "She came to you with a wish?" Allen asked.
A sigh came from the woman in the doorway. "I'm afraid I can't tell you, but she said she would have to think on my offer. But even if she refuses my terms, I know she'll come here and attack my shop, and when that happens…" she shrugged. "Well, then I'm afraid I can't provide you with any assistance unless payment is made. But my prices are fairly high for that sort of thing."
"Can't you just tell us where the Innocence is?" Lenalee asked.
"Of course I can, if you give me proper payment for the information." Yuko smiled at them but it looked more like a leer. "When Kumoi made arrangements for you to come here, he only asked for me to let you look for the Innocence, not for me to give it to you, therefore I can't do anything for you."
They paled. "It's just like Wantanuki said…" Allen thought.
Lenalee sighed. "She's not going to help us."
"So much for asking her up-front," Lavi lamented to himself.
Kanda scowled at her. "If you're not going to help, then let us get back to worth. We've wasted enough time already," he growled.
"Oh, you've got quite a temper," Yuko laughed. "Fine, continue your search then. But if you get hungry come eat with me. Despite what he might say, Wantanuki always makes excellent food."
Yuko: Hm *looks at Allen and Wantanuki* I get the feeling you two have something in common….
Wantanuki: Like what?
Allen: I don't think we're very similar.
Yuko: *snaps fingers* I got it! Todd Habercorn!
Allen and Wantanuki: ……Huh?
Me: ….Yuko….. *sigh*