It was quite unusual to see Ken Doi’s ramen shop this calm on a week night. Usually, the place would be packed with hungry highschoolers just out of their clubs or office workers wanting to drown their day into bowls of ramen and glasses of alcohol. Now, it was totally empty… save for his two most faithful clients.
“Urgh, this makes no sense!” Uzuki raged, slamming down her far too white sheet of paper on the table. “How the heck can we word this mess?” She pulled at her hair. “‘Stop dumping shit on us and do your job.’?!”
“Maybe if we make it a bit more polite…” Kiraya said doubtfully, staring down at his own sheet.
There were some words on it, at least, but almost every single one was crossed out.
“More polite how? Like ‘oh powerful divine Boss, stop making a mess of things pretty please?’ I don’t see how that’s much better.”
“Well, it is better but…” Kariya said before sighing. “Maybe if we don’t mention him?”
“How?! He is the root of the problem! And even if we manage that, then what? We ask that he does something about it without wording it like we’re accusing him of creating the problem in the first place?”
“Pretty much, yeah,” Kariya said around his lollipop.
There was a thoughtful pause.
“It’s gonna be a pain in the ass to not mention him in the report,” Uzuki concluded, disgusted.
“It’s already a pain in the ass,” Kariya commented.
“Point,” Uzuki grumpily admitted.
“Well, where do we begin? At Udagawa? Or Sunshine?” Kariya asked.
“Hmmm… we can maybe write something like 'The former player…' errr, what’s his real name again?”
“Phones? It’s Neku Sakuraba.”
“Yeah, so ‘The former player Neku Sakuraba was seen at Udagawa two weeks ago, on Tuesday night, tagging a wall near Cyco Records. During that process he…’ Urgh, I don’t know how to put this.”
She poked angrily at her empty ramen bowl, glaring at it as if it were responsible for her mood.
“'The bloody Composer dared Phones to paint the wall and then spent his night teasing him while eating his fucking potatoes’?”
“Pretty much what happened, but we’d better not say this, ” Kariya advised. “If it wasn’t for Yousuke we wouldn’t know this part anyway and better not put his name on the report. The Composer is going to eat him alive.”
“I’m glad it was him and not me… Interrupting the Composer when he’s playing is bad for promotions. Yousuke Fukui is going to stay a wall Reaper forever,” she said as if it was the worst thing in the whole word.
Kariya didn’t agree but then, again, he didn’t quite want to bother the Composer anyway, it was just asking for trouble.
“Well then, something like ‘During that process he unfortunately Imprinted by pure chance that…’”
“Too much, Uzuki, too much,” Kariya grinned while his coworker crossed out the last few words with a bit more strength than necessary.
“Alright, then… ‘During that process he unfortunately Imprinted
by pure chance that “I want to eat fries” and…’ and then what? People became zombies?”
“Well, at least I’m happy Phones wanted fries for himself instead of, oh, wanting the Composer to choke on his, or we would have a bunch of Darwin Awards on our hands,” Kariya shrugged.
Uzuki had to agree.
“Would you imagine the Game week if it had happened?” she pointed morbidly.
“Urgh, no, I don’t want to think about it. Too much work,” Kariya moaned.
Uzuki rolled her eyes. After the two last hellish weeks, though, she didn’t have the strength to do much more.
“So Phones Imprinted ‘"I want to eat fries” and during the last two weeks, people began to want fries so much that Sunshine and other shops sold out.’ Like this?”
“Yeah I’m trying,” Uzuki grunted.
“That’s great, a perfect futur Conductor,” Kariya grinned, making Uzuki blush.
“Well, with all the former higher-ups dead… and I would do a great job.”
“Anyway! It’s better than ‘With the fries being sold out, everyone became totally crazy and tried to make their own, provoking a massive price increase of potatoes. Then the potatoes sold out too and people turned to other vegetables to make their fries, which lead to other vegetables selling out, to the point other restaurants now have trouble getting supplied.’”
“Like Ramen Don,” Kariya said, glancing at his empty bowl of ramen.
It was the only one Ken Doi could gave them today because carrot and parsnip had all but disappeared from the whole district. Eggplant was next and that was why they were writing this report: Nobody touched Uzuki’s eggplant.
“By the way, did you know Shadow Ramen started selling fries too? They tried zucchini and turnip, couldn’t find potatoes either,” Kariya commented.
“I didn’t but I’m not surprised at all, they’re the worst, I’m sure the fries are bad too,” Uzuki pouted.
“Actually they’re not so bad, I tried them with 777 and…”
“Yeah, yeah, ANYWAY,” Uzuki cut. “How are we going to write what came next? ‘cause saying ‘The Composer then made a Reaper wall around the tag to prevent everyone from erasing it and stopping the madness’ won’t do.”
“... I have… really no idea.”
The Reapers looked at each other, hoping an answer would somehow manifest itself.
“FUCK IT! I’m done! We don’t have anyone else to report to and he’s not going to listen to us anyway! This sicko is having too much fun for that!”
“You’re right, he is not going to listen to us,” Kariya slowly said, “but… I know someone he could listen to.”
“Uh, you’re sure? If we mess with his little living minions he is going to have us do paperwork for months,” Uzuki complained.
“He’ll do that anyway, but I was thinking of someone else…”
It was quite usual to see Ken Doi’s ramen shop this crowded on a week night. The place was packed with hungry highschoolers just out of their clubs and office workers wanting to drown their day into bowls of ramen and glasses of alcohol. There was barely enough place for his two most faithful clients… and their two guests.
“It wasn’t that bad…” Joshua pouted, pushing his food around the bowl.
“It really was,” Hanekoma sighed. “Stop playing with your food and eat it, Josh.”
“Yes daaaad,” Joshua said in a caricatural childish voice, rolling his eyes. But to the Reapers’ surprise he actually ate the ramen.
“Next time you want to annoy Nakano’s Composer by stopping her market from getting products please don’t transform the whole district in fries-addict zombies. You can’t even know the number of strings I pulled to stop her from coming to Shibuya to take your teeth out,” Hanekoma said. He was practically pleading at this point but not quite yet.
“Hey, I did nothing wrong!” Joshua smiled angelically.
No one dignified this with an answer.
“Technically, it’s Neku who Imprinted this on his own volition. And the wall was just to protect this chef-d’œuvre. I mean, his first Imprinted tag! I’m so proud! Aren’t you?”
“Of course I am, but that’s not the question! You could have stopped this from the beginning by lowering the power in the Imprint but nooo, you just jumped on it so you could take your petty revenge on Nakano’s Composer.”
“She forbid Gatito to open a shop in Nakano!” Joshua shouted, indignant.
“Phones, Skull and Squirrel camped in my workshop for a whole week because the train station was too crowded with fries-zombies to go to school from their homes,” Hanekoma said. It was clearly a plea this time.
Joshua fidgeted a little.
“Okay, I admit it went a bit out of hand… but totally worth it,” Joshua grinned.
Hanekoma groaned, then turned to his soup like he wanted to drown in it.
Kariya and Uzuki shared a look. It was plain weird to have their boss and his… (father figure? mentor?) friend bantering in their restaurant. And with the crowd they couldn’t easily find another seat, so they were kinda stuck with them. It felt a bit like needing to eat breakfast in pajamas in front of a superior.
If there was one thing they would miss from this whole mess, it was having the place to themselves.