A/N: (scratches head) This is absolutely random. I sat down and wrote it this morning. I don't know if it will develop into something more, but please review and tell me what you think.

Return of the Ataenushi
Written by Aithril

The smoky bar exploded into raucous laughter as Fernando slipped inside. He chose a table, snagged a waitress, and ordered himself a pick-me-up.

This was what his wife might call "blatantly ignoring doctors' orders" but he felt as though he deserved a treat.

Fernando prided himself on his underground connections and thieving ability, though it was somewhat diminishing with age. The Spanish man was in his mid-forties with heart trouble and planned to retire after this one last deal- for this would be the greatest of them all.

"Glitter..." a voice hissed from somewhere beneath the table. He spared a glance from inside his shadowed hood and gave a sharp nod.

"... is gold," he replied in a barely audible tone.

"Fernando Munchichi?" the voice asked.

"Yes. Glindol McClown?" Fernando asked.

"Yes." the voice responded. Glindol McClown was a name frequently heard in the web of talk that was an undertone in taverns. The man himself was a faceless identity and preferred to keep it that way. Anyone who did look upon him lost his eyes and tongue to his keen blade.

This was why Fernando kept his gaze carefully trained on the saltshaker to his left.

A tiny finger tapped Fernando's clenched fist and he exposed his palm. An instant later, he was rewarded with the sensation of smooth, polished glass. He rubbed it between his fingers, smirking.

"Now payment," McClown whispered impatiently.

"Do you think I would bring $30 million to a bar?" he murmured, half- swallowed sibilants laced with anger.

McClown's acid reply was rudely interrupted.

"Thirty million?" rumbled a skeptic voice above Fernando. "Thirty million?!"

The Spanish man gasped, head snapping back in surprised panic. A quiet thump as McClown's head smashed into the table indicated he had done the same.

But Fernando hadn't even noticed it. "Shhh!" he hissed frantically to the man who had overheard him, but it was too late. The other customers had quieted upon hearing the exclamation and even the waitress (bearing a lukewarm glass of brandy) was listening in rapt attention.

The stranger grinned, tipping his face lazily to the side. His black trench coat was long, sweeping the ground, and the hood hid his hair and everything but his mouth. "Thirty million?" he said again, pleased now that he had their attention.

Then his smile overturned. "That's what I'd expect common thieves to pay for something so priceless."

Fingers darted out too quickly for the eye to follow and Fernando found himself clutching empty air.

"The figurine-" he breathed.

"- is mine." The unknown man finished, tapping his wide-brimmed hat in mock thanks. "Ta-" He slipped the artifact into a pocket in his trench coat and half-turned to go.

"You can't just leave with that!" cried McClown, unwilling to reveal himself in front of so many witnesses.

The stranger frowned. "You're right. And I do hate talking tables."

He whipped out a concealed sword and, flicking his wrist, overturned the table. Gripping the hilt with both hands, he prepared to bring the weapon in a devastating downward sweep and-

- blinked.

"A midget?" Fernando piped up incredulously. "One of the most fearsome assassins and thieves is a midget? And he's the one who coveted the Key to the-"

Said midget lodged a pocketknife in the Spaniard's throat; with a gurgle, he toppled over backwards.

"Ooch, a deadly midget." The stranger said approvingly, sheathing his blade.

The crowd that had gathering around them shifted to let Fernando fall and muttered darkly, sensing more bloodshed to come.

"Hey, wait!" The unknown man was suddenly glaring down at McClown. "I had questions for him!"

"No concern of mine." The tiny assassin brushed it aside and shrugged. "That idiot was going to reveal Its name."

"Precisely- it's the answer to one of my questions!"

"So your question will remain unanswered."

"I don't like leaving questions unanswered."

McClown glanced up. The stranger's tone was suddenly dead serious.

"Who are you?" he asked finally, suspicious.

The man hesitated. "I am Zenshitakami Takumi. Now answer my question."

The crowd, whose mutterings had been quiet, rose to an almost unbearable noise.


"Another one!"

"What if it's the real one?"

"Yeah right- just like the other fifty wannabes!"

They quieted when Takumi glanced at them.

McClown scoffed. "Zenshitakami, eh? Do you expect me to believe that you're him ? Nice try, but the Ataenushi has blue eyes, black hair, and such a fearsome sword that-"

"I don't expect you to believe me." Takumi's tone suggested no joke. "Just answer the question."

"Do you realize how many people have posed as Zenshitakami? You're not the first, and you won't be the last, so give it up."

"My patience is wearing thin."

McClown frowned. "I don't have time to play with imposters."

"Neither do I." Takumi peered closely at him. "You don't know what exactly this is, do you?" He sheathed his sword and withdrew the miniature statue, studying it closely.

The crowd whispered to one another excitedly.

"Why, it must be worth $10 million-"

"-no, $30 million, don't you remember-"

"-right, that's what he was shouting! Wow, look-"

"-it's all green and. lovely.-"

"- reminds me of a glass slipper! Like Cinderella, you know."

"Of course I know what it is." McClown interrupted them all, glaring at Takumi.

"Oh?" The figurine glinted as he turned it over in his hands. "Are you sure you're not. pretending?"

The midget was silently fuming, glancing around helplessly as though unsure of what to say.

"I see. So you have no information for me." Takumi sighed and dropped the statue back in its' assigned pocket. "Very well."

"Hey- hey!" McClown yelped as he pushed open the bars' side door. "You saw me- you can't - all of you can't- I'll have to kill you-"

He was stuck- he couldn't possibly blind and dumb every person in the bar.

Takumi solved it. "I shall help you." He turned and twitched, or so it seemed, and McClown dropped like a stone.

Touching his hat, the Ataenushi paid for Fernando's drink, bid the manager good day, and left in silence.



Ataenushi= giver

Zenshitakami= Virtuous/True Beneath the Surface

Takumi= Artisan

- The green glassy bit? Just leave it. If I write more, it will be