Notes: Sorry for the long wait from the last update. Please enjoy this chapter!
Watanuki said that it was going to be a busy day. Early that Saturday morning the soothsayer already had Zero up, using his brute vampiric strength to move all of the heavy furniture in the rooms they most occupied. As he moved each heavy piece, Watanuki would come in and start sweeping up behind him, eliminating every dust bunny in sight. When the shopkeeper had said it would be busy, Zero had thought he meant with customers.
After moving all the furniture, Watanuki gave him the task of collecting all the rugs and taking them outside to beat the dust out of them. Zero swept the house thoroughly, pausing to roll up each rug before halting them out the front door of the shop two at a time on his shoulders.
When Zero came in to collect the last couple of rugs, a white apron was suddenly shoved in his face. Zero's silver eyes hit Watanuki, who stood by the front door of the shop in a pleasant pastel green yukata with a shimmering silver sash the was tied in an elaborate bow to the side. The ends of the sash trailed down to the floor, pooling on the wood by his bare feet. Zero's eyes turned away from the almost invisible striped pattern on the yukata and to the apron.
"Here," Watanuki stated.
Zero arched an eyebrow a tad. "What is it."
"Wear the apron," Watanuki stated in a matter-of-fact tone, dropping it into Zero's hand. "You'll get your clothes dirty. Besides, its uniform. This is a business, after all."
The Hunter was only wearing a pair of jeans and a loose, partially opened white button-up, but he took the apron all the same. His molten silver eyes cast a glance at Watanuki, watching the shopkeeper as he pulled the apron over his head and tied it behind his back. Watanuki watched him as well, his arms crossing as Zero finished tying the bow.
"Anything else?" Zero asked.
Zero found himself outside, beating rugs with a broom while wearing a white apron and a pink handkerchief on top of his silver hair. Maru and Moro were outside with him, happily batting away at another rug with what looked to be a strange pink wand with wings on the end, and a red baseball bat. Zero's eyes slid over to the two small girls, who were happily dancing around in matching outfits. Moro, the pink-haired one, was wearing a pastel yellow sundress with white lace and yellow ribbon accents. Her counterpart Maru was wearing pale yellow knickers and a white button up with a cropped pastel yellow jacket, a canary yellow ribbon tied around the collar.
Though he would never admit it, Zero had a soft spot for children. His broom hit the rug, an explosion of dust accompanying it.
However, much like the shopkeeper, there was something about those two... something Zero couldn't place. But, with how Watanuki acted with them...
If anything happened to them, Zero would keep them safe.
Another puff of dust. It floated up into the bright blue sky.
Zero heard the tell-tale sound of the gates. The Hunter's gaze immediately shot to them, his hand coming to rest at his side where Bloody Rose lay, waiting for action. He trusted no one that spared a glance at the building, as if they knew it was here. Others walked passed without noticing either him or the girls... and it was such a strange feeling that it solidified Watanuki's claim.
Only people that have a wish ready to be granted can see this shop.
What kind of wishes floated about in other people's heads? Wishes like his?
From the gates was a young boy about Zero's age, wearing a school uniform from one of the public school around the area. The Hunter's eyes narrowed, though he removed his hand from where it had perched beside the handle of Bloody Rose. Just a human. The boy had dark brown hair, and the uniform was a plain, white button up over navy-blue slacks and black shoes. His black tie bounced around his chest, and he clutched his satchel tightly to him, moving swiftly across the yard towards the shop.
Zero watched the boy move quickly, passing right by him as if he wasn't there. Maru and Moro had somehow slid past Zero's radar, both gone from the rug they had been beating the dust out of.
The boy started thudding up the stairs quickly; before he made it to the top, Maru and Moro stepped out from the sliding doors, smiling up at the new visitor. The Hunter started moving away from the rugs, giving them a glance as he headed up towards the boy, who looked between the two.
"Is this it?" The brown-haired boy asked exasperatedly, his black eyes wide. "Is this the place that grants wishes?"
With matching smiles, Maru and Moro held out their hands towards the open door.
"Yes, come in, come in!"
"The Master is waiting!"
"Yes, the Master will see you!"
The brunet school boy nodded, and clutching his satchel, scurried on inside
The interior of the shop was dark and foreboding, sweet-smelling smoke rolling about the air in wispy waves. The boy who had wandered inside halted for a moment, glancing about the room. However, his gaze was soon led away from the walls to the swan-like, pale-skinned shop master who sat lounged in his antique chair, body pressed deeply into the teal cushion. The shimmering silver sash cascaded down the side of the couch and pooled at the wooden floor. Watanuki released a stream of smoke from a pert mouth, the grey mist rolling off in waves.
The young school boy stood a little straighter.
"Are... are you the owner of this shop?"
A slowly panned gaze finally landed on the boy. Watanuki's heterochromatic eyes studied him, the pipe dangling almost haphazardly on his slender fingers.
"Oh!" The boy looked instantly relieved. "I came here because-"
"You wanted a wish granted." Watanuki nodded, having heard this countless times. "I know." He sat up a little more in the couch, propped himself up by the elbow. "...Come here." he gestured to the floor right in front of him.
It was just as the boy had taken a seat directly in front of Watanuki that Zero walked into the room. He stood silently by the sliding door, staring hard with molten silver eyes. This was the first customer (besides himself) that he had seen come into Watanuki's shop. While curious about the nature of the mage's store, he wouldn't admit it.
He was here because he had a job to do—and his job was tending to Watanuki's services, even as a bodyguard.
Zero remained in the background as Watanuki lifted the schoolboy's chin.
"Tell me your name," The soothsayer commanded, voice laced with a consoling tone.
"Kenta," The boy spoke, staring up into Watanuki's two toned eyes with curious expression. The witch seemed to hum in thought, offering a nod.
"Kenta..." Watanuki purred out, smiling. "You have come to the right place. You've been very troubled recently, haven't you?"
"Yes," The boy admitted readily, already sinking slowly into Watanuki's carefully laid trap. "I need you to grant my wish... please! I'll do anything! I-I don't have much money, but, I'll find a way to pay you!"
Watanuki was already drawing Kenta closer to him, their faces closer. "I know you will. Everyone whom had their wish granted always pays the price."
A grin cut into pale skin.
"...Tell me of your troubles, Kenta."
Zero remained silent as he watched the young man relay all his troubles.
"There's..." Kenta let out, and he released a bit of a breath. "This... girl..."
Watanuki merely watched with his two-toned eyed as Kenta continued.
"She's... well, I mean, I guess she's... really pretty, you know? She lives in the apartment building right across the street from me. I think her bedroom window is... yeah, its gotta be her bedroom... is the window directly across from mine. At first, I thought it was kind of cool. She would be at the window, and we would wave at each other. She would smile... and...
"Sometimes when I went to run errands at night—to the corner store or something..." Kenta's entire stance became uncomfortable. "...You know, she would be there. But... she wouldn't say hi, you know, or act normal. She would just..."
And Kenta looked back up towards Watanuki. "Stand there. Like... she was watching me."
From the doorway, Zero's fist clenched.
"Have you seen her any other time?" Watanuki asked the boy, and he moved Kenta so he was taking a more relaxed seat on the couch. The school boy merely shook his head.
"No. Just at night on the street, or... at the window."
"Also at night?"
"Yeah," Kenta stated, and he nodded. "...Also at night."
Vampire. Zero's eyes narrowed instantly. A vampire was hunting this poor kid. Waiting for the opportunity to strike. That was it, wasn't it? The silver-haired hunter watched as Watanuki let out a hum, before looking to Kenta.
"Is that all?"
The boy paused thoughtfully. Watanuki tilted his head, before reaching out, allowing his fingers to run over the boy's cheek.
"...Go on... Kenta."
The boy released a breath from in between his lips. "This is going to sound crazy, but...
"Ever since I met her, well, saw her... outside... when I go to sleep..." And Kenta shook his head. "...I would wake up in the middle of the night and be... somewhere else."
"Sleepwalking," Watanuki supplied.
"Yeah but... I never did that before." Kenta shook his head. "And when I was, I would have weird dreams about her... about the girl... and... at first, I just woke up and I was standing in my room somewhere, or... or at the window. But then...
"The next thing I knew, I was in the living room. Then at the front door... then outside in the hallway," Kenta shot Watanuki a worried expression. "...And every time I sleep... I get further and further away from my bedroom."
"You don't sound crazy," Watanuki reassured him. The shopkeeper's fingers trailed along the boy's jawline. He drew the other a bit closer by the hand, and their faces were close again. "How far have you gotten from your home?"
"Into the elevator," Kenta stated. "...The one that goes down to the lobby area. I woke up and... I was still on my floor but..." The boy closed his eyes tightly. "It... you don't know... you don't know how scary that is... and... I... I know, I just know that one night I...
"...I might be somewhere I can't leave..."
Zero had his gaze locked on the two that sat on the couch. Watanuki smiled faintly, and his lips brushed close to Kenta's own. The schoolboy's cheeks heated up faintly.
"Then what is your wish?" The shopkeeper asked.
"For..." And Kenta looked deeply into Watanuki's eyes, who merely stared back. "...T-to make that thing go away... to make it stop wanting me!"
The shopkeeper smiled faintly.
"...All right," Watanuki stated faintly. "...I'll grant your wish."
Zero's molten-silver eyes lit up. Kenta nodded his head, but still looked unsure.
"Wh-what about... payment?"
"What do you feel would suffice?" Watanuki asked the boy, and leaned back into his chair, taking a much needed drag from his pipe.
"I..." Kenta stated, and he shook his head. "...I don't know."
"You have a few days to decide," Watanuki stated faintly. "...When you're able to pay... you'll return."
When the boy finally left Watanuki's shop, Zero was standing on the porch, looking outwards. The shopkeeper slid up beside him, crossing his arms.
"...You're worried about him."
Zero's eyes slid to the side to glance at Watanuki. The shopkeeper let out a hum.
"Hmm, no matter. Good job on the rug, though." He turned away, "...once you bring it back in, you're done for the night. Feel free to scamper on home."
Scamper on home?
Zero slammed his hand next to Watanuki's head by the entrance to the shop. The raven-haired man paused in his tracks as Zero hissed at him.
"What the hell are you doing? That kid is being followed and you just send him back to think about his payment?"
"I said he has a few days," Watanuki stated calmly, not turning to look at Zero's face.
"The hell he does!" The vampire that was stalking him could snatch him up at any moment! It was pissing him off. A creature like that didn't deserve to walk around free...!
"Without proper payment, I cannot grant any wish. Everything must be equivalent. Everything-"
Zero grabbed Watanuki's shoulder, spinning him around. Watanuki's hands hit Zero's chest to still himself, and the silver-haired hunter grasped hold of Watanuki's elbows, looking down at the shopkeeper. His neck and shoulders were bare. A tantalizing scent rolled off him him, and it was hard to ignore.
His anger and Watanuki's blood... they were making him see red.
"You're setting him up to die," Zero hissed, his last attempt to evoke compassion from the golden-sapphire eyed man.
And Watanuki merely smiled.
"...That is his decision to make. Not mine."
Zero charged out of the shop seconds later. Watanuki leaned against the wall next to the door, raising his hand to press against his chest. The wish-granted glanced to the rug, which still sat outside, flapping freely.
"...He'll pay for that," Watanuki stated faintly, though made no move to bring it in on his own yet.
First, he had to still the wild flapping his own heart made.
Please Review! Your comments always make me smile! ALSO! Be sure to check out my newest fiction for the Shopkeeper Series, My Existence, a slash fiction for xxxHoLiC and the game/anime Tales of the Abyss! Support Watanuki in his romantic endeavors!