TITLE: Half-Baked Beans

AUTHOR: Tiffany Park

CATEGORY: Supernatural, Humor

SPOILERS: None

RATING: G

CONTENT WARNINGS: None

SUMMARY: Kantarou drinks sake with an infamous kami, to Youko's dismay and Haruka's disinterest.

STATUS: Complete

ARCHIVE: Please ask first

DISCLAIMER: Tactics and its characters belong to Sakura Kinoshita, Kazuko Higashiyama, TOKYOPOP, MAG Garden Corporation, and probably a whole bunch of other people and companies I know nothing about. This story is for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author. This story may not be posted elsewhere without the consent of the author.


Half-Baked Beans

Youko frowned. Kantarou was nowhere in the house. It was strange, since it was full dark outside. Where could that idiot master of hers have gone so late in the evening? She knew he wasn't working on any exorcism jobs tonight. In frustration, she went looking for Haruka instead. She found him in his room lying on his futon. His back was to the door, but he was still dressed in day clothes, and she could tell he was just "resting" and deliberately ignoring her. Honestly, all the men in this household were so lazy!

"Haruka-chan," she said. "Have you seen Kan-chan?"

Unable to ignore her, the tengu rolled over. "He's outside in the garden," he said, sounding utterly disinterested. "He's got a guest."

Youko felt annoyance coming over her. She stamped her foot. "A guest? He never even called me to make tea and serve any snacks. What terrible hospitality. That's no way to treat a guest." She stopped, putting a finger to her lips and thinking. "I don't recall seeing anyone come by or letting anyone in."

"Not that kind of guest. I think it's some kami or other."

Youko's eyes widened. "Oh, no. Kan-chan's insulting a kami with bad hospitality?"

Haruka finally sat up. "Don't get excited. They're drinking sake and watching the full moon."

"Which kami is it?"

Haruka shrugged. "I don't know. Bin-something, I think. He really seemed to like Kantarou."

"Bin—" Youko broke off, appalled. "Haruka-chan, what did he look like?"

"He was just some ancient, scruffy old man with a fan. He was pretty skinny and kind of dirty, with droopy eyes. I'd have thought a kami would be more impressive."

"Oh, no," Youko gasped. "Haruka-chan, his name wasn't Binbougami, was it? Oh, please tell me Kan-chan's guest isn't Binbougami!"

Haruka gazed off into empty space with a thoughtful expression. "Now that you mention it, that was his name…"

"Kan-chan is such an idiot!" Youko wailed. "As if we're not poor enough already!" She froze as a horrible thought occurred to her. "Oh, no. Binbougami likes lazy people. This house is full of lazy men. What if he likes it here so much he never leaves? Oh, this mess is just like Kan-chan!"

She whirled and bolted out of the room, leaving Haruka staring after her in bemusement. With a shrug, he lay back down to nap some more.

Youko ran to the kitchen and grabbed a bag of dried beans. Then she headed straight for the garden.

She slammed open the sliding door and spotted her quarry sitting on the porch with his undesirable guest. "I knew it!" she screeched, shattering the stillness of the beautiful, moonlit night. "Do you like being poor, Kan-chan? What's wrong with you? You need to think things like this through!"

Kantarou twisted around from where he was sitting on the porch. "Youko-chan, what's the matter?" The disreputable looking old man sitting next to him blinked slowly and sipped his sake.

"I can't believe you'd do this to us!" she cried. "Kan-chan, I knew you were an idiot, but this—? How can you just sit here, drinking with this— This—?"

"Youko-chan, calm down. What's wrong?"

"I can't believe you invited— Invited—" She couldn't even form a coherent sentence, she was so enraged.

"Oh, I'm sorry. I know I should have told you we had company, but you were busy. Here, let me introduce you. This is Binbougami-sama." Kantarou gestured to the dirty, droopy old man, who gave her a small salute with his sake cup. Kantarou added, "Binbougami-sama is the kami of—"

"He's the kami of poverty!" Youko yowled. "He brings misery and poverty to any house he visits! Kan-chan, what were you thinking?"

"Now, Youko-chan, let me explain—"

"Go away!" Youko shrieked. She threw a fistful of her beans at Binbougami as hard as she could. She had very good aim; all the beans pelted the old man. "Go away! Go away!" With each exclamation, she threw more beans.

The old man dropped his sake and lifted his arms to protect himself. Beans bombarded him. Clutching his fan, he got to his feet and, with a sad cry, ran off.

Youko chased him and kept throwing beans. Kantarou was hot on her heels, yelling, "Youko-chan, wait, it's not what you think!"

She finally stopped when Binbougami ran out of the yard and into the road. "Hah! Success!" she crowed.

Kantarou said, "Oh, no! No, wait! Binbougami-sama, wait! Come back!" He followed the beleaguered kami of poverty, waving his arms frantically. "Binbougami-sama, please come back! Pleeeaaassse! Cooommmme baaaaaack—!" His voice faded as he disappeared down the street.

Youko watched him run after Binbougami, shaking her head. "Idiot, idiot master. Who'd want the kami of poverty around? Only Kan-chan…" She happily weighed the sack of beans in her hand. "I'd always heard you could chase Binbougami away by throwing beans at him, but I've never had to try it before," she said smugly to herself. "I'm so glad it worked."

She went back into the house and headed straight for the kitchen. "Now to make sure he stays away." She set to work making baked rice and baked miso.

When the simple fare was ready, she placed it on a wooden tray and went back up the stairs to Haruka's room.

"Hey, Haruka-chan, get up! I need you to run an errand," she called through the closed door.

The door slid open, and she was faced with a grumpy tengu. "What is it now?" he asked, sounding disgruntled.

Since he was still dressed, she assumed he hadn't gone to bed for the night. "I got rid of Binbougami, but I need you to do something." She shoved the tray into his hands. "Take this to a river and dump it all in."

"You're really excited about this," Haruka said.

"Binbougami is the kami of poverty, Haruka-chan, and Kan-chan just thoughtlessly invited him into our home. You'd think he'd have some consideration for us, but nooo. Well, I'm getting rid of that worthless kami for good. He won't haunt our house any longer."

"And you're doing this how?" Haruka sounded skeptical.

"According to all the stories, Binbougami loves baked miso. He'll follow it anywhere. The way to get rid of him is to dump baked rice and baked miso into the river. Binbougami will follow it and won't come back as long as we don't eat any plain baked or raw miso anymore."

"Anymore? When did we ever eat that?"

"Exactly!" Youko said with a pleased little bounce. "So you just take this and dump it in the river. Hurry, before Kan-chan gets back and tries to stop us."

"Which river? The Sumida or the Tama?"

"I don't care. Whichever is closest," she said. "Now off with you!" She pushed him toward the window.

With a sigh, Haruka opened the window, summoned his wings, and flew away with the tray of rice and miso.

Youko dusted off her hands, quite pleased with her successes. "Very good," she said with a happy little hum.

She heard the front door open and slam shut, and tripped down the stairs. A moment later, Kantarou's voice called, "Youko-chan? Where are you?"

Oh, no, she didn't trust that idiot master of hers. She went to the kitchen and armed herself with more beans, just in case Kantarou had managed to bring Binbougami back with him. Only then did she go to greet Kantarou.

"I'm here," she said, smiling as she came over to him. Kantarou was looking quite peevish. More importantly, he was alone, which pleased her a great deal. She hoped Haruka finished his own task quickly.

"I can't believe you did that," Kantarou complained. "Now Binbougami-sama's gone and I can't find him anywhere. Do you know how long it took me to get him to come here? Youko-chan, how could you?"

"How could I?" she echoed, outraged. "How could you? Kan-chan, have some consideration for the rest of us. We're poor enough already, and you invite the kami of poverty into our home to make things worse—"

"It wasn't like that, Youko-chan." Kantarou rubbed his face.

"What else was it like? Binbougami brings poverty, misery, and bad fortune to every house he visits. We have enough of that. We didn't need more. Honestly, Kan-chan, sometimes I wonder what goes through your head—"

"Youko-chan, that's not all Binbougami-sama does."

"What do you mean?"

"It's possible to turn him into a kami of happiness, by providing him with good hospitality," Kantarou explained. "There's an old story about a man who enshrined Binbougami-sama and fed him a good dinner. Binbougami-sama isn't normally treated so kindly and was very pleased. In return, Binbougami-sama made that man a millionaire!"

"What?" Youko felt her heart drop down to her toes. "I've never heard that before."

"The story's not common. But I was hoping he'd like me as much as that other man," Kantarou whined. "Youko-chan, how could you have ruined my plan like that? You usually help me out with things like this—"

"Your plan? You should have explained! Oh, stupid, stupid master—" she lamented.

"What? Wait, how am I stupid this time?" Kantarou asked, bewildered.

"You should have known I'd never heard that story and told me about it sooner. It's all your fault. We could have been rich!" Irrationally angry, she threw some beans at him.

Kantarou squawked. "Youko-chan, this isn't my fault— Hey, those sting!" He twisted and tried to avoid the small projectiles.

"You shouldn't have invited Binbougami without telling me anything! What else was I supposed to think? No one invites Binbougami into their homes! It just isn't done! Stupid Kan-chan!" She peppered him with more beans.

"Ow! Youko-chan—" Kantarou gave up protesting and ran for the back door.

Youko pursued him, throwing beans at him just as hard as she had at Binbougami and yelling insults about his intelligence.

Neither noticed Haruka return from his successful mission to the river. He hovered overhead and beheld the bizarre spectacle of Youko chasing Kantarou in circles around the back garden while throwing dried beans at him. Kantarou tried to protect himself with his arms and attempted to dodge each volley. Both were yelling at each other about a lot of nonsense.

Haruka sighed and alighted on the roof, far above the clamor. He lay back and gazed up at the clear night sky. The stars were shining, and the full moon was really quite beautiful. He decided it would be a good place to spend the night, and resolutely ignored the commotion below.

~ End ~

March, 2011