Title: Wardrobe Adjustment
Author: Jordanna Morgan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Archive Rights: Please request the author’s consent.
Characters: Yukio, Rin, Shiemi.
Summary: Yukio returns home from a trip to find something alarmingly absent.
Disclaimer: They belong to Kazue Kato. I’m just playing with them.
Notes: A Fandom Stocking gift for the awesome Kristen Sharpe. This is another installment in my post-anime “Demon Yukio” series, taking place after the pivotal events of “Crutch”.
Even with keys that allowed for instantaneous worldwide transportation, travel could be a remarkably tiring and untimely business.
Of course, crossing time zones was still involved, which had a lot do with it.
When Yukio Okumura left his hotel room in Zurich—the site of a very large and significant exorcists’ conference he had been attending for the last five days—the bedside clock read five PM. Unfortunately, he was running on too little rest, and his head was full of a hundred distracting thoughts and worries… and so he entirely forgot about the eight-hour time difference between Switzerland and Japan. Consequently he found himself stepping into a darkened dormitory, and only then did he remember that he was also skipping straight to one o’clock on the morning of the following day.
Not that he felt like complaining. The conference had been long and stressful—considering it was the first time he had not only to defend his brother’s position as an exorcist in training to some highly important officials, but also account for his own recently-manifested demonic traits. He knew there would be reactions, but it was still hard. The fangs and pointed ears that branded him visibly as Satan’s son were a new level of disturbing, even for those who had respected his achievements when he appeared fully human. Now, more than a few of his nominal colleagues would just as gladly have used him to demonstrate the exorcism techniques they were gathered to discuss.
As it was, he quietly managed to bow out of the conference a day ahead of schedule, counting himself lucky just to get through it that far with his skin intact.
In spite of his enhanced stamina, the emotional strain and lack of sleep left Yukio feeling worn out. It was just as well that he arrived home at a time when Rin wasn’t awake to natter at him. Furthermore, since he wasn’t due to return until Sunday, Rin didn’t expect him to be there—which meant he could look forward to a Saturday morning of sleeping in for as long as he wanted.
…But first things first. Fastidious as always, Yukio unpacked his suitcase. He showered briefly, and then he took the time to throw the clothes he had traveled with in the washing machine—including those he was wearing. Thus stripped to his shorts and undershirt, he dragged himself upstairs to brush his teeth (it was still weird maneuvering a toothbrush around his fangs), and then crept to his room to collapse gratefully in his own bed.
At least by Yukio’s standards, it was fairly late in the morning when he awoke, feeling more refreshed than he probably had a right to after the last several days. Once again, he grudgingly had to admit that the effects of being a half-demon weren’t all bad. Before his abilities manifested, he would still have been an exhausted heap this soon after his travels.
Not that he didn’t need fortifying in another way. As he sat up and stretched, his stomach rumbled impatiently. It was a reminder that he hadn’t taken the time for anything like a proper dinner before his discreet escape from Zurich; and in any case, after days of lukewarm hotel breakfasts, the thought of enjoying Ukobach’s cooking was extremely enticing.
Without further hesitation, he crossed the room to his closet to dress… and there, he made a very unsettling discovery.
His pants were missing.
For a few moments, only confusion registered. Yukio adjusted his glasses and took a more thorough inventory of his clothing, to confirm that his eyes were not deceiving him in the haze of waking.
His shirts and jackets were hanging neatly in their proper places. His shoes were lined up as precisely as he had left them. His winter coats were undisturbed. Yet in the section of his closet where pants belonged, there was merely an empty void. Every last pair of uniform trousers, slacks, jeans, even the summer shorts he barely touched outside of trips to the beach; all of them had vanished without a trace. That presumably left nothing but the pants he took to the conference, which at that time would still be lying damp within the washing machine.
The first thought that followed this realization was a natural and inevitable piece of logic:
Rin has something to do with this.
Of course. Wasn’t it just the sort of prank big brothers would pull? Rin must have decided it would be fun to hide the most vital component of Yukio’s wardrobe, the garments he couldn’t go in public without—and then laugh at his reaction. He probably had the pants stuffed in his own no-man’s-land of a closet at that moment, getting wrinkled and absorbing the odors of who knew what.
Yukio felt an icy-hot crackle of demon flames in his soul, and his fangs ground together.
Twenty seconds later, he was in Rin’s room down the hall, unceremoniously tipping over the elder twin’s mattress.
“Huh—wha?” Rin babbled groggily as he hit the floor, instinctively reaching for Kurikara in its sheath beside his bed. “Earthquake?”
“You’re going to wish that’s all it was,” Yukio seethed over the edge of the upended mattress, glaring down at Rin. He was dimly aware of his tail lashing furiously behind him, threatening to knock some of the jumbled flotsam off Rin’s shelves; but at the moment, he felt no desire to rein in the irate appendage. “Where are my pants?”
Rin jumped at the sound of Yukio’s voice, his own tail bristling in surprise like a cat. As recognition set in, he let go of the sword and stared up at his brother. His face was a perfect picture of sleepy confusion.
“Whoa—hey, Yukio!” He rubbed the back of his head. It was more than possible that he had struck it on the floor in his rude awakening. “…I didn’t expect you back until—”
“I asked you a question.” Yukio stepped forward and twisted his fingers into the front of Rin’s pajama shirt, hauling him upright with inhuman strength. At least his claws weren’t showing yet… but he was angry enough to let a few glimmers of blue fire leak out. It wasn’t as if his flames could hurt his equally half-demonic twin—and it wasn’t as if he really wanted to hurt Rin, even in the heat of the moment—but it probably did make him look a little more intimidating.
“Uh, yeah—about that—”
“Where?” Yukio roared, giving Rin a firm shake.
The answer was helplessly blurted out around a cough, as Rin struggled to get his feet entirely underneath him.
“Shiemi has them!”
Instantly, Yukio felt as if he was turning red from brow to tail-tip. His hand released Rin’s shirt, dropping him in a heap on the rug.
Truth be told, after the fact, Yukio wasn’t sure of the exact progression of events that followed. It seemed as if everything sort of grayed out in the rage for a few minutes. All he knew was that, mercifully, he did have enough presence of mind to return to his room and pull on a coat that would cover his lack of pants—before he reached for his keys.
A moment later, he was barging through the front door of the Moriyamas’ supply shop, with the likewise sloppily-dressed Rin spluttering and hand-waving on his heels.
“…Yuki?” stammered a wide-eyed Shiemi from behind the counter, rising from her chair with a threaded needle; and Yukio recognized the folds of black fabric in her grasp as the trousers to one of his school uniforms.
He couldn’t begin to explain what was going on here. All he knew was that, whatever it was, it was over as of that moment.
“I would like my pants back,” he hissed, planting both hands on the counter and leaning forward.
Shiemi uttered a squeak and flinched away, her eyes darting to Rin. The elder twin telegraphed something to her again with his hands.
That seemed to settle the matter. Blushing hotly herself, Shiemi bent down to collect a large basket that manifestly contained the rest of Yukio’s missing pants. When she pushed it across the counter, he saw that the garments within it appeared to be unharmed: each pair was spotless and crisply folded.
“I-it was Rin’s idea…”
That nervous assertion only confirmed Yukio’s original thought. His eyes narrowing, he spun to face Rin, who forced a frantic smile and jerked the topmost pair of pants out of the basket. It unfurled as he held it up in front of him like a shield… and at last, Yukio saw exactly what Shiemi had been doing with needle and thread.
Just above the seat of the pants, a curious and barely-visible change about the seam…
Eyes widening, Yukio snatched the pants from Rin’s hand. He ran his fingers over the altered seam; and there, he encountered a discreet crease in the fabric. Pushing it back with his thumb, he discovered that it concealed an expertly hidden zipper. The vertical opening it created was only as long as the breadth of his hand, just big enough…
Just big enough to push his tail through.
His breath shuddering out, he gaped at Rin. The firstborn ducked his head and shrugged, an awkward grin crossing his face.
“Shiemi did the same thing for most of my pants too,” he mumbled. It was an explanation Yukio suddenly wished he had given Rin a chance to provide before. “I just thought we’d give you a surprise when you got back from your trip. Only I didn’t expect you to come home early—or get surprised like this.”
“I would have been done with them all before you were supposed to be home tomorrow,” Shiemi added. Her voice still trembled uneasily, but a bit less so than before. In fact, she actually sounded just a tiny bit defensive.
The fist that clutched the pants abruptly fell to Yukio’s side. He covered his swiftly reddening face with his other hand, and released a helpless, unsteady laugh.
It was all so entirely them, making a crazy kind of perfect sense he was sure he would never be unbent enough to recognize himself.
“You know I prefer to keep my tail hidden,” he reminded his brother and his friend gently, after his wits had recovered and he had taken a long, deep breath.
Rin smiled. “Yeah, we do know. But you don’t always have to hide it… and someday, you’ll know that.”
Unexpectedly, a fraction of the embarrassed heat in Yukio’s face burned out. He smiled genuinely in turn, and shook his head—more at himself than at them.
“I…” He paused and cleared his throat. “Thank you, Shiemi. You too, Rin.”
“You’re welcome, Yuki,” Shiemi replied, beaming up at him—and looking more than a little relieved. “I’m just glad you really don’t mind.”
Yukio pensively thumbed the zipper on the trousers once more. Maybe it truly wasn’t such a bad option to have. Just then, the thought of ever using it to free his tail openly among friends was too uncomfortable to consider, but…
But perhaps in time.
“No… I don’t think I mind at all.”
© 2016 Jordanna Morgan