of Horrors Fanfic
Petshop of Horrors is copyright to Matsuri Akino, no infringement
Written as a 2005 Christmas request fic for Miyukis_4.
The incense is thick and
heady, making the air in the pet shop feel
heavy, like you're drinking it instead of breathing. Most first-time
visitors think that that's what gives the shop it's sometimes
oppressive, watchful feeling. But they're wrong. The wreaths of smoke
twist and spiral, apparently at random but always in the right place to
hide something the customers don't need to see yet. The eyes glowing in
the dark, the ears pricked up to hear every last word...
The teeth, sharp and gleaming.
and death, cloaked in beauty. Just like its owner Count D, who smiles
gently at his latest client. "Are you certain you want to do this?"
customer is a peasant from northwest China, come to Beijing to try and
find paid work so that he may eventually gain enough money to wed. He
brought nothing with him but the clothes on his back, a willingness to
work, and a pair of songbirds he'd raised from the egg. The birds are
healthy and beautiful, clearly devoted to each other, satisfied with
their lives and devoted to their owner, but the avian flu epidemic has
everyone nervous and the man fears his pets may be destroyed in the
Wu Fengshan nods nervously,
although his hands twitch
longingly towards his pets. Snatching them to his chest he twines his
fingers together tightly in order to resist the urge to change his
mind. "I fear I cannot protect them anymore," he says, eyes downcast in
shame. "I tell people that my birds are healthy, but they do not
listen. I am sure they would listen to you, though."
Count D is
sure people will listen to him on this matter also, although there are
few here who would have the impertinence to even ask the question.
"Well then, if you feel there is no other way around it, I should be
glad to take these two into my care," he gently strokes a long-nailed
finger over the head of the male, who leans into it. "For a pair such
as these, I can offer you an excellent price..."
Wu shakes his
head frantically, tears in his eyes. "Please, no... I couldn't, it
would be like selling my children." He's already standing to leave,
emotionally and physically exhausted from his long journey and facing
an even longer path ahead. "Please, just make sure they go to a kind
person. Someone... who will care for them. Goodbye."
out of the shop before Count D can try to press money on him again, and
disappears into the crowds outside. The Count sighs and whistles to the
songbirds for a bit. He thinks about how often humans have sold their
own children in the past, and muses on how often they're likely to do
it in the future. Still, from all indications Mr Wu will not be one of
those people, as he genuinely seems to be a simple, kind and honest
man. Such a man is unlikely to do well in the big city, the Count
knows. Not without some help anyway.
"Yuan," he calls, and a
few minutes later a beautiful woman exits the pet shop in pursuit of Mr
Wu. It's a big city, but the Count's not worried. Yuan will find him.
what shall we do with you?" the Count asks the birds. "Ah, I know just
the place. It has clean air and fresh water, and plenty of room for you
to spread your wings in. I am afraid that I will have to apologise for the company
week later, Mr Wu is back looking flushed and somewhat confused, but
also much wealthier than before. On his arm is a beautiful woman with
golden eyes, and on her left hand is an engagement ring. Mr Wu however
has eyes only for the Count.
"I cannot begin to tell you what
this last week has been like," he babbles. "If I'd only known what
fortune was around the corner, I would never have... Count D, is there
any chance... are my birds still here?"
The Count smiles. "As it so
happens," he purrs, "I do still have the pair of songbirds you left in
Mr Wu's eyes go wide in hope.
"Please," he says hoarsely. "I'll pay anything."
the birds hop willingly into the cage. "I have been unable to find them
a suitable owner," the Count says. "Now, as you gave them to me for no
price, I suppose it would be quite true of me to say that they were...
priceless. That is, I am willing to return them to you for no cost,
other than a small charge for their care and feeding this past week.
However, as you specified that they were to go to a kind person, I will have to ask you to sign
a contract before I give you the birds."
Wu is already nodding his head. A hasty man, the Count decides, but
that does not mean he is foolish. Merely passionate about what he
loves, and there's no sin in that.
"This contract stipulates
that you must care for the birds, keep them fed and watered and treat
them well. You must treat them as well as you will treat your lovely
bride-to-be here... Miss Yuan is it? Yes. Treat the birds and your
bride well, and I am sure only good things will happen to you. Sign
Mr Wu signs and the Count bows and
guests to enjoy some tea while he retrieves the birds from their
enclosure. Mr Wu sighs in relief and for the first time, really looks
around the pet shop.
"You have so many beautiful animals
here, Count D," he says in amazement. "How do you find them here in the
Count pauses and a mysterious smile crosses his face. "Sometimes I go
out to catch them," he says casually. "And sometimes they come to me to
Mr Wu blinks. "They come of their
own free will?"
D leaves his guests and walks slowly through the myriad back corridors
of the pet shop, before arriving at one ornately carved door. The door
leads to a grassy hill and a small forested area with a lake and
waterfall. He whistles and the songbirds swoop towards him, singing
about all the new things they'd discovered. They are overjoyed to find
that their owner has returned, and fly off immediately to rejoin him.
Count D shakes his head in amusement, it never fails to astound him how
some animals are so enthusiastic about returning to their cages.
of cages, there is a large one near the lake, and the Count makes his
way towards it slowly. The tall, slightly sullen, blonde-haired man
inside it gets to his feet as he approaches.
"Greetings Detective," the Count
stops in front of the bars. "And how are you today?"
Leon Orcot glares at him. "Same as
usual. How are you? Sold any murderous animals today?"
"Alas, business is not good
lately," Count D fakes disappointment. "Why it's been so slow that I
actually had to give
away some of the pets. One perfectly good wolf and the two lovely
singers who've been keeping you company this past week. How unfortunate
Leon's clearly thinking something snide but at least refrains
from saying it out loud.
good behaviour should always be encouraged, the Count reaches through
the bars and gently trails his fingers down Leon's face. He's pleased
to note that the man no longer flinches at his touch, and instead leans
into it slightly. He feels a little guilty; Leon's a social animal and,
songbirds aside, has been a bit starved of company lately. Perhaps one
of the cats would consent to stay with him a while.
Leon turns his face so that his
lips brush the Count's fingertips. The Count hums, pleased, and
withdraws his hand.
to, anyway. Leon may have been stuck in a cage for the last six months,
but his reflexes are still sharp and his hands grab hold of the closest
thing to human contact he has these days.
The Count glares at him
affrontedly. "Release me at once."
ignores his order and instead yanks him closer, reaching his other arm
through the bars to wrap around the Count's waist. Pressed together
against the bars, the Count stares at him impassively, and waits.
I..." Leon starts, stops, and is once again betrayed by his temper.
"You fucking, fucking bastard. How much longer are you going to keep me
The Count stares at him silently
for several minutes, until Leon's gaze wavers and he releases the other
"Would you prefer to go back to the
chains?" The Count asks dangerously. Leon pales and takes a step
well. Then, as I told you when you entered the cage, you will remain
inside until such time as I decide you are housebroken enough to join
the rest of the shop." The Count's voice is cool and distant. "If you
are not satisfied with this arrangement, you are of course free to
Leon's eyes flick to the cage door.
It is unlocked and
temptingly open, and has been ever since he walked through it. He
closes his eyes, and thinks of home. Of TV and beer and his job and
messy apartment. Of Chris and Jill. And then he thinks of months and
months of desperate searching as the hollow place in his chest grew
larger and larger.
Human beings were weak compared to
animals, someone had told him once. Their senses were dulled and
disused. Animals could track by scent, or see for miles, or hear in
different ranges and across great distances, or feel the vibrations of
their prey through the ground, or divine information from the taste of
things. Leon couldn't do any of that. All he had was his own native
intelligence, which he had some time ago realised was sadly not up to
the task, stubbornness, and sheer dumb luck. The combination of the
last two were what had led him to the Count this time. Would he ever
manage to do it again?
"No," he says hoarsely. "Forget it.
not going anywhere. I told you, when I found you in Canton, that I'd
caught you for good this time."
The Count smiles mockingly. "Caught
me? Exactly which one of us is in the
Leon opens his eyes and glowers.
"I'm here because I want to be here, Count. So get used to it,
because I ain't leaving." He sits down again, defiance in every pore.
D looks at him and the mockery fades from his face to be replaced by
faint surprise. In all truth, he'd never expected the proud detective
to stay this long. Perhaps then... perhaps...
"I have some
customers I need to see out," he says, turning to go. Hesitates. "They
brought me a lovely red bean paste cake. Would you like some?"
Leon's grin lights up his face.
The Count leaves, shaking his head.
He'd always thought he'd never
understand the willingness to be caught and caged.
Ah well, you live and you learn.
Canton is these days known as Guangzhou. But I doubted Leon's ability
to either remember or pronounce that, so I went with the old name for
it. *hums Istanbul (not