Categories > Anime/Manga > Tactics

Picture of spring

by queasy 2 reviews

Art imitates life. Set before Haruka's release, so this is the Youko and Kantarou show.

Category: Tactics - Rating: PG - Genres: Drama - Characters: Kantarou, Youko - Published: 2006-02-04 - Updated: 2006-02-05 - 998 words - Complete

Picture of spring

"Tentacles!" said Youko indignantly, sucking on what Kantarou decided not to tell her was a rather phallic-looking strawberry lollipop as she flounced down the street. "Really! What was he thinking?"

"In this line of work, we're bound to get a few oddball clients every now and then," he said philosophically, holding his half-empty ramune bottle up to the bright sunlight to admire the rattling marble in the neck. Some of it fizzed out and trickled down his wrist; he licked the drops off without haste, content to savour the cool drink slowly. "Let's go that way."

Youko glanced down the lane he indicated and huffed, bouncing in annoyance, but took his lead without protest. "Yes, but! Even if he thought we were frauds, what was he expecting -- that we would play along?" She began gnawing on the end of the lollipop, cracking it all the way down its length, and, eyeing the fissure, Kantarou revised his assumption of her incognizance.

"You must admit, we would have if he'd been just a random crazy seeing things. Not like we can afford to turn down the money." He wandered into a shop and bought a bottle of cooking oil, and a matchbook from a roadside stall.

"The things he said -- about the things that happened to him! And you saw the way he was looking at me!" Youko turned on him, her eyes flashing, cheeks flushed with outrage. "It was obvious he was thinking of re-enacting one of those perverted shunga in his room!

"Still, perhaps robbing him wasn't altogether an appropriate response," Kantarou mused, absently pushing the groceries into her arms and taking another sip of his ramune. "I don't think he'll want to explain what happened to anyone, if he can remember that you hit him over the head with the vase, but it's the principle of the thing. Attacking clients can't be good for business. Isn't it a nice day to walk by the koi pond?"

It was. The sun was bright, the breeze cool, the cherry blossoms in full bloom. It seemed they had the park to themselves, even. Youko harrumphed and crunched the tip off her lollipop viciously. "He deserved it, the pervert! Why did you stop me hitting him? And it's not like your principles are stopping you from sharing the spoils," she added, eyeing his ramune meaningfully.

"Artists need to eat too. He can't help that producing shunga is one of the few reliable ways of making a living, and he's really quite good at it."

"Wah, Kan-chan is a pervert too!" She shoved him lightly. Kantarou laughed, shaking his ramune threateningly in her general direction, and she backed away to protect her kimono. "Whatever. Anyway, we won't have to worry about groceries for another week or two at least."

Kantarou nodded. "It's odd, though: did you notice how some of his pictures had these blank spaces -- not like a place left intentionally blank -- more like there was something missing from the paper."

Youko rounded on him angrily. "Kan-chan! Don't tell me you believe his wild story! Pictures coming to life, and, and, you're just yanking my chain, aren't you? Your bells didn't react, your chest didn't hurt; it's not a youkai or oni. Oh, um. Kan-chan." Her eyes went wide.

That was all the warning he had before something cool and slick coiled around his neck and waist, lifting him in the air. Kantarou dropped his ramune and tried to twist around to see what it was. More tentacles appeared and wrapped themselves around his legs and one wrist. "Youko!"

"It's a giant octopus!" she screamed and pointed, as if Kantarou couldn't tell.

"Youko, get away!" Kantarou struggled, but the tentacles only tightened around him, beginning to slither into his clothes.

"Kan-chan!" She backed away reluctantly, compelled by the command. Another tentacle snapped out and grabbed Youko's ankle. She screamed again, and tried unsuccessfully to pull free. "I can't! What do I do?" Her voice was shrill with hysteria, and it seemed to draw the octopus's attention. It lowered Kantarou a little and advanced wetly out of the pond on Youko, its free tentacles orienting in her direction.

Kantarou closed his eyes and began an incantation. Sensing the danger, the monstrous octopus grabbed his gesturing hand and pulled it back, as the tentacle around his neck slid up to cover his mouth.

Then there was a sudden sound somewhere between the crackling of paper or fire, and a screech of agony, as the tentacles convulsed, tightening painfully for a moment, and let go. Kantarou fell to the ground, gasping for air. He looked back, and the octopus was burning surprisingly well. Youko grabbed him and pulled him away, splashing more oil on the octopus. It smelled like tako kara age, and also like burning paper.

"You did that on purpose, didn't you?" Youko yelled and hit him. "I could have gone a hundred years without seeing -- argh! You idiot!" She punched him again.

He tried to laugh, and had to cough several times before he could speak. "We did take his money. And it's not like we could have just let it wander about like that. Who knows how many innocent people it has already -- ow! Stop that!"

"You could have warned me! What if I hadn't thought to set it on fire? What if it didn't work? What if you were /hurt/? Stupid Kan-chan!" She grabbed the hand he held out to her and pulled him to his feet roughly, then hit him again for good measure.

"Well, you defeated the terrible tentacle monster, I'm safe, what's there to worry about?" he said, still panting with amusement. "Besides, it doesn't seem to have killed anyone..."

Youko turned very, very red and spun around. "You, you pervert!" She picked up the rest of the things she had dropped and scurried homewards, ignoring him. Kantarou grinned and hurried after her.

In the distance, a crane flew into the sky.

Sign up to rate and review this story