Petshop of Horrors DIVIDE

Chapter 2

Chapter II

When they reached Chinatown, the little girl silently followed Leon out of the car and down the steps to the Petshop door. The familiar scent of that weird incense wafted out. They could hear the phone ringing.

Leon led the little girl inside. He pushed open the door to see a slender man wearing lavender silk robes cross the room and pick up the phone.

"Nihao?" he said. "Wo hen hao. Ni ne? Shide. Shide, hen gui."

"Quit it with the Chinese, Count!" snapped Leon.

"Jie guo dueng yi xia," he continued smoothly. He lowered the phone and covered it gracefully with one hand without turning around. "Officer, this is an important call from Beijing. Please wait."

So, Leon waited, and D ignored them completely.

"Wo hen duibuqi. Shide, meiyou guanxi. Bu yong xie. Hao. Xie xie. Zai jian." He set the phone down softly. "Lovely of you to drop by again," he began, turning around. Then he froze.

D's yellow and purple eyes rested on the child and a strange… almost startled… look passed across his pale face.

Count D was rarely frightened, and almost never showed any emotion. Everything was masked by that curious smirk of his. Although, there had been a very, very few times that Leon had seen him flustered or even angry… this expression was closer to one of amazement and even… regret?

"What?" said Orcot suspiciously.

The Asian man folded his long hands gently in front of him. "Hello, little girl. Are you all right?" he asked.

"Yes," said the child.

"What is your name?"

"Irina," replied the girl.

"Well, then, Irina, where are your parents?" he said in a level tone.

"I don't have any." She smiled. "May I go play with the other children?" she said, looking around.

D smirked. "Of course, Irina."

And she skipped away down the hallway, talking to the birds.

Leon crammed his hands into the pockets of his jeans, glaring at D. "What. The Hell. Is going on?" he demanded.

"You've found a very special child," D replied calmly, his thin black hair covering his weird eyes.

He sat down on the couch, gesturing for Leon to do the same.

"Tell me, have there been any disappearances lately?" he inquired, changing the topic and pouring a cup of tea.

"Three in three days," responded Leon shortly. "Hey! I'm not supposed to talk about cases, so no more questions!"

D's long fingers brushed the edge of the newspaper sitting on the table. "Three days ago, a young singer arrived on her concert tour. It may be a coincidence, but perhaps you'd like to investigate her." (Leon was giving him a very distrustful look.) "I'm only assuming, detective, that you're looking for leads," he said innocently.

"I thought you didn't care about humans!" Leon reminded him.

"I don't!" exclaimed D cheerfully.

Irina came back into the parlor, a small red bird sitting on her hand, and Leon got up quickly. "Ok, thanks for your help, D," he sighed. "I'll contact child protective services immediately, and…"

"No!" protested D suddenly. "You mustn't! The child must remain here in the petshop."

"What?! No, that's illegal," Leon replied, exasperated. Sometimes, he felt like he was explaining things to a child. "I can't just leave her here. At least for now, she has to be put into the foster care system."

Again, D seemed to be becoming strangely nervous. He was still smirking, but he was frowning at the same time, and his eyebrows were drawn into a serious expression. "This isn't about adoption; this is for her own safety!" he insisted.

Leon shook his head. "Sorry, but I'm just doing my job," he stated.

"No!"

Count D rushed forward to grab the child, but Leon cut in between the two quickly, seizing D by the wrist and holding him. The guy's wrists were so little, he could probably break them without even trying.

"What in the world has gotten into you, Count?!" he muttered.

D had gone limp and docile, so Leon let him go.

The small man composed himself and then rather mysteriously walked into the office area. He opened a drawer and began pulling out paper and ink. "You see, detective, once again, you are making the mistake of taking things literally. Quite a fortunate habit for me, of course, however…"

"What are you doing?" demanded Orcot impatiently, rolling his head.

D came towards them, carrying a sheet of paper. "Irina is a unique child," he explained softly. "She must be locked in every night without exception. Never leave her unsupervised, and above all, never allow her to see a mirror."

"Ok," said Leon, playing along. "Fine. Got it."

"Excellent!" whispered D with an adorable smile. (He was acting like a child.) "Then, I'm sure you won't mind signing this, just for technicalities?"

The policeman glanced at the contract long enough to read, "…hold neither the petshop nor myself responsible for any consequences…"

He snatched a pen and scribbled his name on the line.

"There. Ya happy? Can we go now?" he said grumpily.

D rolled up the contract, perfectly calmly, and held it against the palm of his other hand. "Certainly. Come by anytime," he purred amiably.

Leon grabbed Irina's hand and marched out the door. Now, he had a lot of work to do.

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