Genma had to hand it to Ryouma — he knew how to work his natural advantages. Watanuki-san trailed after Ryouma, shielding herself from the rain with a bit of cardboard, and watched every second of his effortless climb up the side of the building. Pakkun, who had more sense and greater immunity to Ryouma’s charms, went further inside, where it was dry.
“You can fix the roof today?” Watanuki asked.
Genma hesitated. It was a big hole. “If you have enough replacement tiles and lumber,” he said, “we’ll try. We can put a tarp over it if we don’t quite finish in one day. Hatake’s stopped the water getting in for now with a jutsu.”
Kakashi’s name didn’t seem to register with her — the famous names and bitter politics of the ninja world of Konoha didn’t mean much to the civilian population — but at the mention of the word ‘jutsu’, Watanuki-san gave a sharp, pleased nod. “That’s why I’m happy to have you as a tenant,” she said. “No rent until the first of the year, and if you’ve finished the interior work by then, we’ll discuss new lease terms.”
No rent was a much better deal than the fifty-seven thousand ryou-a-month Genma’d already negotiated, and even that was half of market. Genma smiled, and felt his lip split open again.
That was when Watanuki-san finally noticed Genma’s face. And Raidou’s. Kakashi’s of course, was hidden by his mask, and he was already a sodden figure on the roof, anyway. She reached for Genma’s elbow — he had to stop himself from flinching — and towed him back under the awning. “You boys look like you’ve had a rough day. Was it a mission?”
“Training,” Genma said. “This is Namiashi-san. And that was Tousaki you were just talking to.” He glanced into the dim interior of the warehouse itself. Rolls and mountains of cloth stacked nearly to the roof in some places formed neat aisles, except for the area right under the jagged, splintered hole that marked where the roofer had come through the floor above them. Water pooled on the floor, tinged reddish with either dye or blood; Genma hoped it was the former. Several bolts of cloth were soaked with rainwater and leaching color from the silk into the protective muslin coverings over them.
Raidou had headed straight for the hole, looking up with a practiced eye. His mother Ume had talked at length about Raidou’s skill as a handyman, that day six weeks ago when Genma had stopped by to give Raidou the news about Katsuko.
It seemed like yesterday, and at the same time, like it had been months.
“Do you already have the materials for the repair, Watanuki-san?” he asked.
“Yes, everything for the roof,” she said. “The floor…”
“The floor was something I was already planning to deal with. I’ll just be doing it a little sooner than I’d expected,” Genma said. He left Raidou to his inspection and followed his new landlord to a small office near the door.
“I’ll write this new contract up and you can sign it,” she said. She’d already opened a scroll and dipped a brush into a bottle of ink. Her hand paused, brush-tip poised to make the first character. “It will just be you living here, then, Shiranui-san? It was originally going to be you and that young man with the beard, wasn’t it? Are you sure you can do the work by yourself?”
“Just me, Watanuki-san. But I’m not by myself for the work. Namiashi-san is a skilled carpenter.” He gestured at Raidou. “And my other two teammates are already hard at work.” The scrape of tiles overhead suggested Ryouma was stacking them, or counting them, or otherwise making sure the roof job could proceed.
If Asuma decided he wanted back on the lease, well, that was something they could negotiate when the time came, too.