XXXHolic: Hitsuzen

Family Feud

≈ Even family are still other people. Other than being related by blood, is there any other relation? Aside from yourself, everyone else will always be other people. ≈

{The next day, at the local park...}

"I'm glad that girl, Suzume-chan, is alright. Now that that demon can't hurt her anymore, she should be fine now." Watanuki said, as he lay out the food he had made for their picnic. In addition to himself, Yuuko, and Doumeki, Mokona was also with them today.

"Are there croquettes in there?" Doumeki asked.

"Yes, there are! But it's irritating how you say that like it's not possible for them to be in there!" Watanuki snapped.

"It would be great if that was the end of it." Yuuko said enigmatically.

"Huh?" Watanuki asked. He didn't like the way she just said that.

"That won't be the last we see of Suzume-chan. That demon was specifically targeting her, but more importantly..." Yuuko said.

"...More importantly?" Watanuki asked, gulping.

"We're out of sake! Watanuki, go buy some more~!" Yuuko said, pouting.

"Yeah, Watanuki!" Mokona chimed.

"Your priorities are messed up!" Watanuki yelled, cutting the air with his hand, like a stereotypical tsukkomi.

"We're out of food too." Doumeki deadpanned.

"You ate it all already!?" Watanuki shouted, vein mark throbbing on his forehead.

"Oh, I thought I heard familiar voices! Hello again!" Suzume's called out to them as she ran up to join them. She was wearing a knit sweater shrug over a graphic-T, skinny jeans, and boots.

"Ah, Suzume-chan! You're already out of the hospital?" Watanuki asked.

"Yeah, they finally let go! Something about a miraculous recovery." Suzume said, winking at them. "I seriously can't thank you guys enough! Although... I do have a question for you, Yuuko-san."

"It's about your 'sight,' right?" Yuuko said, smiling knowingly.

"Yeah, ever since the exorcism, I've been seeing strange things—like something out of that painting of a demon parade." Suzume said, rubbing the back of her neck as she smiled wryly.

"Eh!? You can see spirits now? Are you all right? Did they attack you!?" Watanuki asked urgently.

"Don't worry, I'm totally fine." Suzume said, smiling and waving his worries away. "I was shocked and scared at first, but then I remembered what Yuuko-san said about not being 'blind' anymore, and I figured this was probably what she meant... because it would really suck if I turned out to be hallucinating and had to be committed into a mental hospital after finally being released from the normal one." She said, sweat dropping. "One of them did come at me, but I told it to get lost, and it just went away on its own after that."

"Eh!?" Watanuki yelled, stunned. "You can get them to go away so easily!? They always chase me and cling to me relentlessly!"

"Really? That's weird. They seem pretty docile to me. Once you get used to the strangeness of it all, it's not so bad." Suzume said, smiling. "They're kind of interesting, actually. It's a little hard to ignore them sometimes though, and people tend to look at me funny when I talk to a spirit without realizing it, since they can't see it."

"I know, right! I can't tell you how many times I talked to someone, only to find out that they were really a spirit." Watanuki said, enjoying being able to talk to someone who understood how he felt.

"Yeah, but... I wonder why I can see them now... Was it because I was possessed?" Suzume asked Yuuko. Yuuko smiled mysteriously at her.

"You've always had the ability to see them. You even have some of the same type of power as Doumeki, although it's not quite the same. Someone had sealed your powers away and placed a spiritual 'blindfold' on you, probably when you were very small, since you don't seem to recall ever seeing a spirit before yesterday. The seal broke when we had to forcibly remove that demon from you." Yuuko said.

"Hmm... come to think of it, my grandmother did bring me to a friend of hers, who was a Miko, when I was really young, before my parents died... She said some strange incantation, but that's all I can remember. I think I was about three-years-old." Suzume said thoughtfully.

"Oi, Watanuki, don't forget—you're supposed to be getting more sake!" Mokona said, jumping up and down impatiently. Suzume stared at Mokona with wide eyes, and for a moment, Watanuki thought she was scared.

"S-So cuuuuute~!" Suzume cried as she glomped Mokona.

"Whoa!?" Mokona cried in surprise.

"Oh, I'm sorry, did I hurt you!?" Suzume asked. "I have a hard time controlling myself when I see something so cute." Suzume said, as she set Mokona back down on the ground.

"You think that thing is cute?" Watanuki asked skeptically.

"Yep! Just look at that cute little dumpling like body, and those bunny-like ears!" Suzume said, smiling brightly.

"Go ahead, praise me more~!" Mokona said proudly. "Hm... you must be that Suzume girl that Watanuki was talking about earlier, I'm Mokona."

"Nice to meet you, Mokona. Like you guessed, my name's Suzume... Um, I don't know if this is rude to ask, but what are you?" Suzume said curiously.

"Mokona is a Mokona!" Mokona said proudly.

"Ah, I see. That makes sense." Suzume said, smiling.

"It does...!?" Watanuki said, shocked that Suzume could understand something so cryptic. It didn't make any sense at all to him.

"Suzume!" They all heard a man yell from behind them. Suzume's eye twitched in irritation as she grit her teeth, and put on a brilliant shit-eating grin before turning around to face the middle-aged man the was walking towards them. Watanuki was puzzled by her reaction. The man had sounded happy to see her. Doumeki remained as stoic as ever, but there was something about that man's demeanor that he didn't like.

"Hideki-oji-san! My, what a surprise~!" Suzume said in an over-exaggeratedly sweet tone of voice.

"What are you doing in the park? Shouldn't you be taking it easy after being released from the hospital just yesterday? We wouldn't want you to become ill again, now would we?" The man, Hideki said. He sounded concerned on the surface, but Watanuki could now sense a hidden maliciousness behind his words. Doumeki narrowed his eyes slightly and Yuuko stared coolly at the man.

"Oh, no, I imagine not! After all, who would inherit Chiyo-oba-chan's fortune after I die?" Suzume said sarcastically, still sporting her shit-eating grin. The man's own fake smile fell as he stared coldly at Suzume.

'So, she's realized what this is all about, huh... I thought she was just a stupid brat, but it turns out she's too smart for her own good.' Hideki thought. "Heh. I guess there's no point in beating around the bush with you, huh. You always were an insufferable brat." He said harshly. Watanuki clenched his fist. What was wrong with this man? Weren't they family? "Just sign the money over to me. What does a brat like you need with all that money anyway!"

"You know very well why! Now that Oba-chan is... gone... I'm on my own. She left it to me because she was worried about me. It said so in her will. She knew you wouldn't take me in. That money is to help me finish school and start my own Japanese confectionary when I'm older. Why are you so upset? She left the entire company to you." Suzume ranted. She had no patience for this man.

"That company is worthless! It's hit rock bottom! You don't need all of that money, just give me a litt—!" Hideki yelled.

"No!" Suzume said firmly, glaring at him. "Don't you dare blame Oba-chan for your mistakes! You're the one who ruined the company by overspending and making bad business deals. We both know that if I give you money now, you'll just blow it all, and then keep coming back for more until you drain me dry."

"You're going to abandon me—Your own family!? If your father was alive—" Hideki yelled incredulously. He was really starting to lose his temper now.

"Hah! Abandon you? You abandoned me first, and then you abandoned Oba-chan when she got sick! If my father was still alive, he wouldn't be half as nice to you as I'm being!" Suzume said, shaking her head in disbelief. "My parents asked you to look after me if anything ever happened to them, and you tried to put me into an orphanage before Oba-chan stopped you, and then when she was diagnosed with cancer, you never once came by to visit her! Get out of my sight before I call the police!" Hideki saw Doumeki pull his cell phone out of his pocket out the corner of his eye.

"You haven't seen the last of me, you hear!" Hideki yelled as he ran away with his tail between his legs.

"Yeah, unfortunately." Suzume said, rolling her eyes as she turned back around to face the others. "I'm really sorry about that. I didn't mean to inflict my family's drama on you guys. Thanks for backing me up, Doumeki-kun." Suzume apologized, bowing politely. "I'm afraid my uncle was dropped on the head too many times as a child." She said, smiling wryly.

"No, it's alright... are you okay, Suzume-chan?" Watanuki asked. Suzume smiled a little sadly.

"Yeah, I'll be fine. Thanks for asking, Watanuki-kun. It's just been a mess since my grandmother died. Like it's not bad enough that I lost the only person I had left that I could truly consider as family, my greedy uncle—who has never wanted to have anything to do with me before—is probably ready to slit my throat to get his hands on Oba-chan's fortune." Suzume said, sighing.

"Surely, it can't be that bad..." Watanuki said, trying to comfort her.

"No, Suzume-chan isn't that far off the mark." Yuuko said.

"Eh?" Watanuki and Suzume asked together as Doumeki stared at Yuuko, waiting to hear her explanation.

"I can tell you more, Suzume-chan, but it will cost you." Yuuko said, smiling cunningly.

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