“Oh, no... no no, please do put that with the other-- no, not there! Ah, just give it over, please. Let me place it.”
Malt looked at his stand-in boss dubiously. PK had been pretty explicit about a lot of commands while Shroomsworth was out on his extended leave (to put it mildly, but not entirely accurately), and here he was, directing Malt to run the place much differently. Malt wasn’t even entirely sure that Shroomsworth should have been allowed to do this at all, but it was a welcome burden relieved from his own shoulders. He did wonder, though, how they ever reconciled these differences while running it together, but placed that curiosity to the side for the time being.
“Well, that’s not where PK ever wanted--”
Shroomsworth stood up stiff, and his face both darkened and hardened. He spoke sharply in return. “And she’s not here at the moment, now is she?”
Malt flinched, and after a moment of scrupulation from Shroomsworth, he relaxed just enough to look at Malt wearily. It clearly was not his intent to snap over something so trivial as the placement of a berry that wasn’t particularly known for being alluring to shoppers. And yet, he had
“Well, no matter,” Shroomsworth quietly spoke to himself. “When she... returns, we’ll discuss it together. That’s what we’ll do,” he affirmed. Malt didn’t hear the confidence he desired in his boss’s feeble assurance, but it would have to do. It was really all either of them had.
They worked on in near-silence for the better part of half an hour, tidying and organizing to the best of their ability. When something Malt was doing conflicted with something Shroomsworth was trying to do, Shroomsworth was the one to wordlessly concede and start on another task. Eventually Malt went upstairs to fetch something, and in this window of time--despite that it was yet another half hour ‘til the shop was supposed to be open to any non-Merchant--someone unfamiliar to Shroomsworth had shown up at the front entrance and was demanding to be let in. The drapes were pulled quite taut and he didn’t really want to untie them if the shop wasn’t even supposed to be open yet.
Shroomsworth considered ignoring the fellow, and then outright decided to tune him out. His night watch had left out the back shortly after he and Malt had woken up and started their morning tasks. Any actual
Merchant would have known to show up or exit from the rear door, where Callahan’s portion of the hut lay. This stopped most Merchants from showing up before anyone important wanted them about, as no one ever liked dealing with the guild registrar if they could find a way to avoid it (which they usually did).
Shroomsworth was in the middle of preparing the cash register while daydreaming about giving Callahan a swift punch to the jaw when something about the atmosphere struck him as wrong. He had trouble placing what, exactly, wasn’t right about the air, when a horrible, nasty ripping sound made his spine tingle with the odd mixture of dread and annoyance. The heavy fabric being torn immediately illuminated what had unnerved him moments prior; his unwanted guest had gone deathly silent after a few minutes of protest, and Shroomsworth hadn’t quite noticed until it was too late. He was simply that good at tuning others out when he so desired.
He immediately dashed toward the front entrance. Claws! Really, now. Using claws to shred the drapes! It especially irked him, as Chrys had been asked to make an extremely heavy-duty set of cloths, and here, now, they were so easily rendered scraps? That Chrys was going to receive a talking-to! Right after this impatient customer, of course.
Before he had fully made the stride across the store, the draperies’ assailant sauntered through the entrance. And behind, presumably a friend. Shroomsworth recognized the smaller one’s species, as there were several on many of the teams around Tao. It was a Meowth, but did not look to be any from a team he recognized. It did wear a black bowtie, but there looked to be a shiny, golden orb in its center. He presumed gold as fake as the headpiece it wore, most likely. The bigger of the two wore an ascot the same color as the bowtie. He wasn’t entirely sure what its species was, but presumed it to be related to the Meowth. An evolution, perhaps? Neither looked exceedingly dangerous, in any case. Even if they were, he and Malt would take care of them in an instant.
But first, it was time to discuss compensation for the costly fabric. He pursed his lips into a faux-friendly smile before speaking curtly. “I assume,” he said, motioning back to the curtains, “that you’ll have the money to me for those soon, then?”
The larger one seemed momentarily confused. It cast half a glance to the shred sheets before deciding it was hardly even worth the effort. “And who are you? I wish to speak to Payapa.” Before receiving any sort of response, and indeed without even appearing to wait for a confirmation at all, the pair headed toward the staircase to the bedrooms.
Shroomsworth was taken aback. Mostly, he was dumbfounded by how thoroughly this fellow was dismissing him. He made a single leap to block their ascension. “Excuse me? This is the upper floor, where the private bedrooms-”
Thoroughly disgusted at this minor impediment, the bigger cat glowered at this monocled barrier before impatiently brushing him off. “Yes, yes, I know. Are you a new hire? If you do not move, I cannot assure you you’ll remain under employment for much longer. Now, move.”
Shroomsworth was still having trouble adjusting to the haughtiness of this cat, but he took a moment to breathe and regain his composure. Something about this was really, extraordinarily familiar. He had dealt with many customers full of themselves before, but this particular Pokemon took it to a new level.
Shroomsworth held back his aggravation and attempted to get a handle on the best thing to say in this situation. He could be upset over this later, but not now. “May I please ask for your name then, sir?”
More repulsion. The larger cat’s tail started to flick from side to side. It was eerily similar to what PK’s own tail did while provoked. He answered, but not without an air of condescendence. “You must be new. So ill-informed. But, I’ll grace you with knowledge, regardless. I am Twigs. And though you did not ask it, this is my brother-in-law, Styx. Now, move. I hate to waste breath.”
Twigs made to walk past Shroomsworth and up the steps, but the Merchant would have none of it. Another swift block, brushing against his whiskers.
Twigs... that was...
“Hold on a right second! Are you from the woods? Ah, I mean, Windswept Woods? Are you the... the villa owner?”
Twigs’s agitation was dampened with Shroomsworth’s recollection. “I am. It appears you are slightly less ill-informed than you first appeared. Now, if you would move, I have business with my dear Payapa.”
Shroomsworth swayed his hips to once again block the cat off from the upper floor. Finally, it was coming back to him. This fellow was exactly the same in written format as he was in reality; it was no wonder he was so immediately familiar. Still... wait, what? His dear
Part 9 of "Complementaries"