The difference between keepsakes and junk is not always clear. Some things don't fit under the rug, nor in the closet.
Author's Notes: Writ for the A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words. Thanks to mjj for inspiration.
Dust and miscellany found under the rug
Youko sighed and picked over her pickles and rice. "Think of the money!" she told herself, and winced as a particularly loud moan pierced the air. "We can have fresh fish for dinner," she said, trying to lighten the mood. Haruka looked unamused. He wiped his bowl again and held it up to the light.
Clearly audible through the thin paper walls, the high and reedy male voice gasped, "Oooh~ More, harder, ah- Sensei, oh yes, there, there! Aaaah!"
Kantarou's answering chuckle was sly and husky. "You filthy, filthy thing. You like it when I rub you there, don't you? Turn this way, that's better." Rhythmic wet squeaks and rapturous moans ensued.
"I feel dirty just listening to them," Youko muttered, shuddering.
Haruka shrugged, apparently absorbed in his bowl. He was in another of his sulks, which Youko thought odd, since Kantarou hadn't abused either his name bond or his precious bowl this time, or even called on him to dress oddly or con women. For a youkai of his fearsome reputation, Haruka could sulk impressively and at the slightest provocation. It hadn't taken long at all for Youko to lose her fear of him after Kantarou had first brought him home and then proceeded to cling like a leech until Haruka had fits.
"Are you upset about something, Haruka?" A sharp squeal made her jump. Haruka frowned and rubbed his bowl until it squeaked.
"Oooh, yes! Such wonderful hands, Sensei. Ooooh~ you are so good at this--" The voice broke and rose into a mewling wail. "Aaaaah!"
"Of course I am." Kantarou's soft murmur was barely audible over the continual wet squeaking and yowls of ecstasy. "I grew up in an orphanage. Had to earn my keep, didn't I?"
The day preceding
There was a long, embarrassed silence during which Youko tried to tuck herself further under the table and wondered if she had been seen. But no, Kan-chan's odd "old friends"-cum-clients were only gathering themselves to continue.
"Since then, we've been hearing these s-sounds, like... like a girl crying, or a child. Horrible choking sounds," whispered the young woman reluctantly, blushing. "We wondered -- There were rumours, about our grandfather... Oh, Takeshi!"
The girl's brother put a comforting hand on her shoulder when she covered her face and sobbed, overcome. "The neighbours used to say that he was... that he had odd /interests/. I always thought that it was because of how he kept to himself and adopted us -- Kiku!" he burst out as she wept into his shoulder, "I'm sorry, I can't believe Grandpa could have done anything like that either, but these strange happenings... Kantarou, please --"
"All right, all right," Kantarou said then, carelessly waving away the passionate appeal. "So this started when? Immediately after his death?"
"No -- oh! It started after we went through his things and threw out some of the junk he had in the storeroom. Maybe we simply disturbed something? It might not have been Grandpa." Their hopeful faces said that they were grasping at straws. Of course it was good to have work, but Youko felt sorry for anyone who was desperate enough to look to Kan-chan for help.
Kan-chan was thoughtfully tapping his chin with his fan. "Your house is at... yes, I think I know the place. Don't worry! I'll get to the bottom of this in no time at all!"
When Kan-chan was this confident about anything, it really was time to worry. Youko hoped for Haruka's sake that he was off sulking somewhere really far away.
How had an eccentric old man who apparently never threw anything away managed to raise two neat freaks who had gone through their home and thrown out all the junk he kept almost immediately after his funeral? Most likely it was his unquiet spirit howling over his poor treasures in their backyard at night and keeping customers away from the shop during the day.
Youko sneezed explosively and rued the day she met Kan-chan. Just a little, but he could be so annoying! She thought she might have caught Haruka in the blast a little; he looked irked and ruffled even with his wings out of sight. Though that might as well have due to the fact he was knee-deep in dusty knick-knacks and battered furniture, looking for... wait. "Kan-chan! What are we looking for?"
The breezy answer floated to them over the mountainous pile of yellowed newspapers and moth-eaten books. "I'll know when I see it!"
"Whaaat?!" Before she could muster suitable outrage at this idiocy, there came dreadful gasping and choking sounds, then gagging heaves, a wet cough and /splat/.
"What a really big dust bunny you've hocked up there," said Kan-chan inanely, gathering up a large grey mound.
"Noooo, it tickles!" wailed the dusty lump, squirming away as Haruka grudgingly swiped at it with a duster, clearly unwilling to go near it. "You horrible man!"
Grimly, Youko seized hold of the reluctant thing and set to with her brush. She too, received only complaints for her pains: "Aaah, that's too hard, it hurts!" and, as Youko let loose with another tremendous sneeze, "how disgusting!"
Kan-chan had come in with a pail and rags and was laughing at them from the door, the useless bastard. "Oh, you two. Get out, I'll deal with it."
Youko snarled and swept out indignantly to wash the dust off. Haruka took a moment before he followed her out.
"This was your grandfather's lucky maneki-neko," declared Kan-chan, presenting the polished porcelain figure with a flourish. "Display it on the counter, and it will bring you good fortune and keep away the bad spirits that have been harassing you."
Of course it wouldn't have done to let them know the horrible noises that had been keeping them up had been the maneki-neko crying over being abandoned, but this was perhaps overstating things, Youko thought.
The two siblings looked dubious, as well they should.