title: over drinks
fandom: Uchouten Kazoku / the Eccentric Family
characters/pairings: Yasaburo/Kaisei, Benten, Ginkaku, Kinkaku
rating: G/Teen
warnings: none
summary: Yasaburo has something to tell Benten
notes: i just love Kaisei, and Yasaburo and Kaisei... this is just something that came from ruminating on the last episode, and then deciding to rewatch the series, perhaps to understand Benten better. also, this is based solely on the anime, and i have no/very little knowledge of the novel(s). this takes place about a year or so after the anime ends.

The soft tinkle of bells heralded his entrance to the lowly tavern. Though, no one looked up. He went straight to the bar to sit next to the woman who would never wait for anyone, so she must have been drinking there of her own volition.

"I'm quite cross with you," she told him cheerfully, sipping her drink without looking at him.

"Don't be like that," he smiled, settling in next to her. "You should buy me a drink!"

His presumptuousness made the bartender, who was trying not to get the young lady's attention, jump and skitter away. "Why in the world would I do that?" she laughed.

Yasaboru looked at Benten with amusement. For the first time in his life, likely, he would get the better of her. "Because...! I'm getting married!"

Her reaction met, exceeded, and denied his expectations all at once. "What do you... when?"

"Mm," he looked up, thinking about it hard. Wait, when had it been decided? He didn't want to tell her the wrong date. "Oh, that's right, Saturday. We're getting married on Saturday. Ah, I misspoke. You'll get mad at me for that. My bride and I, that's what I meant." He smiled at her.

She wasn't smiling. "Who on earth would marry you?"

"That's an excellent question, but isn't the answer obvious? Who else would I marry? My fiancée, of course."

Benten narrowed her eyes, and Yasaboru's spine tingled with fear. "Kaisei? That girl? But... your engagement was broken off..."

"By my uncle. It would appear as if he has no plans to return to Kyoto, though. The Idiot Ebisugawa brothers went to find him, and were gone for nearly six months. When they came back, Kinkaku declared himself the head of the family... and then promptly turned everything over to Kaisei. Such a mess," Yasaburo laughed.

Benten grinned, and shook her head. She crooked a finger at the bartender, who yelped, and then quickly went to refresh her drink, and slosh something in front of Yasaburo.

"So you decided to become a man and ask the girl you love to marry you?" she asked, sounding lighthearted, but.

Yasaburo knew her slightly better than that. "My mother and my brother worked together to reinstate the engagement."

"Yaichiro? He was that interested in it?" Benten mused.

"No, Yajiro. He pestered me until I agreed. That was earlier today," Yasaburo sipped his drink. He felt like he was on top of the world.

"Wasn't he in love with Kaisei?" Benten frowned.

"You seem awfully well-informed about tanuki gossip," Yasaburo gave her a sidelong look.

"Am I?" Benten sighed. "Well... tanuki are delicious..."

"Please don't say such frightening things while smiling so beautifully," Yasaburo sighed.

"You shouldn't be flirting! You've only got a few more days before you're a married man. Well, in your case, it would be hard to call you anything but a married boy..." she teased.

"I wasn't aware I was flirting. I will correct my behavior this instant," he winked at her.

"You're incapable of correction," she sighed. "I pity poor Kaisei. Yajiro isn't a frog in a well anymore. She'd be better off with him."

"I thought that might be how it would go, but Yajiro says he wants to celebrate at the wedding of his little brother and his cousin, so I suppose that's what he wants."

"People aren't always honest about what they want," Benten reminded him.

He looked her right in the eye and smiled. "I know that.

"What can I do? He says he wants me to marry her. Mother says she wants me to marry her. Yaichiro says it would be good to for me to get married. Mother says Kaisei wants to marry me. Ah, but I'm really looking forward to it!"

"You are? So even someone such as yourself would rejoice in maturity?" she frowned slightly, as if it were some sort of joke.

"Well... isn't it a great thing?" He smiled at her, taking a long sip of his drink. It wouldn't do to get drunk at this point, but he was far off from that level, anyway. "You see, I really think..." he leaned a bit closer to her.

Reluctantly, it seemed, Benten moved closer to him as well.

"Kaisei will let me see her on our wedding day!" he declared, beaming.

Benten looked at him sadly. "You really are hopeless, aren't you? Don't count your chickens before they're fried! If it were our wedding day, I wouldn't necessarily let you see me at all," she loftily declared.

"I think Kaisei might be a lady who is a bit easier to get along with than you," Yasaburo quietly opined. "But... If it were our wedding day?" he asked her, raising an eyebrow in amusement.

She chuckled. "Well, of course, such a thing... would be impossible, right? You're a tanuki... and I'm... a human..."

If she were another human, Yasaburo might have thought she had ended that by sighing sadly. "Probably," he nodded.

"Probably?" she questioned.

"Well... you fly like a tengu. And you cause trouble like a tanuki. So. I'd say you're probably a human."

She was genuinely amused by him, which never failed to make him a bit pleased with himself. "Probably, huh? ...Yes, that's the problem, isn't it? Probably... Well, what am I most likely?"

"Most likely?" he laughed. "Well... there's only one answer for that. Most likely, you're a... human."

She raised her eyebrow at him.

"Well. No one but a human could be as terrifying as you are," he laughed.

"You're so cruel," she shook her head. "And even still, I like you. Maybe I shouldn't let Kaisei take you away from me. I could eat you up tonight. And then, you'd be with me... at least for twelve or fourteen hours. It's the perfect weather for a hot pot!"

"I would prefer to see my wedding day, but thank you. You should remember that I lack all forms of deliciousness inside of me," he vowed.

"I bet I could find some in you," she sighed.

"Please don't trouble yourself by looking. I hate disappointing you," he begged.

"Is that really true?" she asked him.

Too seriously.

"It is," he replied to her.

Equally seriously.

"Mm. Well, tanuki are endlessly disappointing. No matter how much I love them, once they're devoured, they're devoured. Isn't that sad?" she asked him.

"I'm trying to find hidden meaning in your words, so I can make peace with what you just said," he frowned.

"You are an idiot. You can't aspire beyond idiocy. That's your lot in life. I really do pity Kaisei... a clever girl chained to an idiot husband. It's the sad tale of too many girls," Benten stood up, brushing herself off. She looked at Yasaburo. "A boy like you... ought to be devoured."

"Aha, you're so frightening," he started. But. He couldn't say anything more.

Benten kissed him, holding his face steady. It was a long kiss, deep and controlling.

He was in her power.

"You're getting married, and kissing girls in bars. Kaisei will refuse to show up on Saturday!" she declared loudly.

Yasaburo wiped his mouth, looking around. Yep, plenty of people saw... "Saturday is Saturday. Today is today. On Saturday, I'll do my most magnificent transformation, and become Kaisei's proper husband."

"That would be something to see!" Benten laughed.

"Would you like to come?" Yasaburo smiled at her, setting his cheek on his hand and his elbow on the bar.

"No," she shook her head. "I don't want to see it. ...Do you want me to come?"

"Not really," he laughed. "I'm already really nervous!"

"But you were so happy when you came in!" she accused him.

"I'm a complicated man. I can be happy and nervous at the same time," he explained.

"You're hopeless, is what you mean," she shook her head, and then turned to leave. "Congratulations, Yasaburo. Try to be better than you are... for her."

He watched her go, and then he finished his drink, feeling parched.


The door to the Ebisugawa Electric Brandy Factory opened on its own, it seemed. The two brothers scurried to find out why the door had opened, and then froze in place when they saw the reason.

Benten smiled benignly at the idiot brothers. "Ginkaku. Kinkaku. It's been too long, hasn't it?"

The twins looked at each other, shivering. In fact, it had not been too long. Since their father had left... well, it was their father that handled relations with most of the humans. The boys were, to put it a certain way, less refined in discourse with dangerous people. And, in this case, while they had certainly enjoyed in the past the sort of relationship with Benten that could be considered mutally beneficial, this time, they were fairly certain they had nothing to offer the frightening human woman who ate tanuki.

In fact, they were both certain that, rather than having something to offer Benten, they had something to offend Benten. That was to say...

"Idiot brothers," Kaisei's clear and commanding voice rang out. "Just where have your manners gone to? We have a guest. Please show her respect!"

"Ahh, yes, sister!" Kinkaku straightened up. Then Ginkaku mimicked him poorly. "Benten-sama, how lovely you look!"

"And how nice it is to see you!" Ginkaku bowed low. So Kinkaku bowed lower. So Ginkaku bowed even lower.

Benten giggled.

"Why don't you fetch some tea for our guest?" Kaisei suggested, sounding tired. She leaned over the railing from the landing above, where the overseer's office was. "Benten-sama, please join me."

"I would be delighted," Benten took a step, and gracefully alighted into flight, rising gently to the landing where Kaisei waited.

Kaisei was watching her with guarded eyes.

She landed in front of Kaisei, who then graciously led her to a low table for them to sit. "Is there something we can do for you, Benten-sama?" Kaisei asked, and she managed not to sound impertinent when so doing.

Benten beamed. "Actually, Kaisei-chan, I came to offer you my congratulations. I heard that you will be getting married. Tomorrow, isn't it?"

"Mm. So it seems." Kaisei sat back while Ginkaku and Kinkaku fumbled against each other laying out the tea. After they had knocked over the cups and spilled the tea, she sent them away just by clearing her throat. They scurried off, their round butts shaking. Benten chuckled as Kaisei poured out the tea. "Perhaps I should have offered you some brandy instead?" she fussed as she handed Benten her cup.

"It's still too early for that," Benten sighed. "But I wouldn't mind bringing some home. I brought you a gift. Since the wedding isn't until tomorrow, let's call it an engagement gift." She pulled a small wooden box out of her sleeve, and slid it across the table to Kaisei.

Kaisei regarded the box coolly. "Ah, there was no need to trouble yourself."

"It was my pleasure. I was so very pleased to hear that Yasaburo was climbing the ladder of respectability, thanks to you," Benten smiled, perhaps too brightly.

Kaisei was unperturbed. "You're too kind. It's really nothing of the sort. The Shimogamo family and the Ebisugawa family shouldn't be at odds with each other. And frankly, I'll be happy to join the Shimogamo family directly."

"How fortunate for the both of you! An idiot becomes the husband of a good woman with an idiot family!" Benten seemed genuinely pleased.

Kaisei didn't bother contradicting her. "If you're sure this is all right, then..." she hedged, reaching out to the box.

"I insist!"

"In that case," Kaisei agreed without enthusiasm. She slid the box open, and revealed the contents. Her eyes widened slightly. She looked up at Benten, cautious. "Benten-sama... do you... really intend to give this to me?"

"Of course! That's what I said, isn't it?" Benten smiled at Kaisei from behind her teacup.

Benten looked at the Fujin Raijin. "But this sort of gift... isn't it too much?" Kaisei's mind was spinning.

Benten sipped her tea peacefully. "I feel sorry for you! Yasaburo as a husband... it's something I can only dream of..." she sighed.

Kaisei narrowed her eyes.

"It can't be anything but a difficult life from here on out for you. There will definitely be times when you'll need to punish that boy. I'm only trying to be useful to you." Benten's smile was something Kaisei didn't like.

She slid the box closed, and bowed to Benten. "You're awfully... generous. But you shouldn't concern yourself so much over trivial things. Tanuki have ways of dealing with tanuki. Yasaburo is an idiot, but that's fine. I never expected him to be anything more."

"Mm, but even still, you can't help but be a bit worried? A husband who is so carefree and thoughtless... He spends all of his time fooling around and keeping company with tengu and the like. He even went out for drinks with me just after settling your wedding date. How free-spirited can one person be!" Benten laughed.

"For Yasaburo, being friendly with tengu is one of his few good points. It's been quite useful to us tanuki. And as far as going to drinks with friends... well, I don't expect him to stop. That wouldn't be at all kind of me, would it?" Kaisei replied serenely.

"Oh? How forgiving! Even though he's aimless... Even though he drinks peacefully with someone like me...!" Benten sighed.

"You say a great deal of bad things about him. And yet, you seem awfully attached to him," Kaisei sipped her tea.

"Oh? Do I?" Benten asked archly.

"It may only seem that way from my limited perspective," Kaisei shrugged. "After all, you're here now, offering me something so precious to you as a gift."

"Well, there is such a thing as friendship," Benten shrugged.

"Indeed. And friends are good things," Kaisei nodded.

"But I was under the impression that you did not like me?" Benten frowned.

"What gave you that impression?" Kaisei tilted her head to the side.

"Mm, how do people form impressions? Perhaps they come from dreams!" Benten laughed.

"Well, of course, I don't like you," Kaisei shrugged.

"So honest! What's a girl like you doing marrying a boy like Yasaburo?" Benten shook her head.

"I'm sorry, but I'm not giving him to you. What good would he do you, anyway? He's a tanuki. You might not be a tengu, and you might not be a human... but you're definitely not a tanuki," Kaisei sadly stated.

"...So honest. I respect that. But perhaps I should try some honest myself? Your groom is in love with me." Benten set her cup down.

"Mm. That's fine. It's not a fault to love a great deal, only to love too little. I learned that, watching my uncle and my father. I'm not worried about Yasaburo because he loves you. I'm worried that, because you love him, you'll end up snatching him someday and eating him up entirely. I worry about that a lot," Kaisei looked at Benten directly.

"...Oh! You're so frightening! But it's true... I want to swallow him up entirely. I can't help it. He's that precious to me," Benten smiled, perhaps how a tiger would smile at a butterfly.

"As tanuki, we have to be prepared for such a thing. You probably wouldn't even wait until the end of the year. Why would you share with your scary friends? You'd want Yasaburo all for yourself."

"That's a good point! If anyone else tasted him, I'd surely be jealous!" Benten laughed, sounding like herself, or the herself that the tanuki knew.

"But still. I like Yasaburo enough to endure that worry. Tomorrow, I'll be his bride. And he'll be my husband. Are you objecting?" Kaisei looked at Benten with clear eyes.

Benten looked at Kaisei for a moment, and then she started to laugh. "Oh, how sweet! But what possible objection can I have? As you say... a tanuki is a tanuki. It has nothing to do with me."

Kaisei watched Benten and Benten watched Kaisei, Kaisei's face expressionless, Benten smiling inscrutably.

"What in the world is so charming about that idiot?" Kaisei sighed. "Well, at any rate, if you're sure you're all right with my having it, I appreciate the Fujin Raijin. It very well might come in handy." She bowed to Benten.

Benten bowed in return, smiling. She put her hands on the table, and stood up. "Well! Your marriage is beginning tomorrow... I imagine you must be quite busy! I shouldn't take up any more of your time!"

"Don't be silly," Kaisei smiled, standing as well. "You're welcome to visit at any time."

Benten faced Kaisei. After a moment, she bowed, and grinned. "Kaisei. I wish you a lifetime of happiness!" She straightened up, and winked at Kaisei.

"Thank you, Benten-sama," Kaisei smiled. This time, Benten took the stairs. She waited until Benten had already gone down two steps. "And Benten-sama? I wish the same for you." She bowed low, so she didn't see Benten's reaction, but she heard her continue down the stairs.


Yasaburo fussed with his montsuki. He'd never been forced to wear such outdated clothing before. And his mother had pressed down his hair and made it lay flat.

He looked as stupid as those damned brothers who would soon be his very own in-laws.

"Stop fussing, you look nervous," Yaichiro sighed.

"Who wouldn't be nervous? You get married, see how you like it!" Yasaburo complained.

"You agreed to it, so don't complain now that it's happening!" Yaichiro glared. "Anyway, your bride is coming. Stand up straight!"

"I know!" Yasaburo started, but Yaichiro wasn't exaggerating. Turning round the bend was Yajiro, gently guiding Yasaburo's bride, dressed in the traditional shiromuku. Her headdress was low enough that she was just a blob of white heading toward Yasaburo. "Aniki... what have I done?" Yasaburo asked under his breath.

"Be quiet, you're lucky she hasn't changed her mind," Yaichiro hissed.

Yajiro delivered the bride to Yasaburo, smiling broadly. He had his hair tied back neatly in a tail, but there were plenty of strands around his face. Plus, he was wearing a snazzy suit. Damn, he looked good, while Yasaburo looked silly! Yajiro patted Yasaburo on the head, messing up his hair a bit. Yasaburo stuck his tongue out at his brother.


Yasaburo turned, and... Kaisei had lifted her head, and he saw her.

For the first time.

"Kai... sei..." Yasaburo's eyes widened, and his cheeks turned bright red. Actually, he thought for a second he might transform back into his tanuki form.

"Wh-what's the matter with you? Idiot!" Kaisei hissed, looking away in embarrassment.

Yasaburo grinned. "It's just... you're so much cuter than I imagined you to be!"

"Th-that just goes to show how weak your imagination is," she pouted.

Yasaburo picked up her hands, and smiled. "That's so. Kaisei. Thank you."

She turned pinker, and gave him a suspicious look. "What are you saying something so creepy for?"

"Creepy?" he laughed. "I'm just saying thanks.

"Because you let me see you. For the rest of our lives."