America was... different. And difference, after so many years of the same, was more than welcome. The world turned faster now, but sometimes change did not happen on its own quickly enough - and that meant measures had to be taken.
She'd let herself stagnate once, in simpler times. Loneliness and fear had rotted at her soul as a result. Never again.
New York City was far from a random choice. Kantarou had expressed an interest in visiting the curiosity that was America every so often, but there'd never been enough money, and eventually there wasn't enough time, either.
It wasn't that she was carrying out some lifelong dream of his - it really hadn't been more than a passing interest. But even decades after his death, the kitsune still willingly let his influence help her decide what path to take - in this case, which continent to relocate herself to.
Which was easier said than done, but still far from impossible, and Youko tackled it the same way she did most her problems: with meticulous organization and the occasional honeyed word. Things were hidden away, her apartment passed on, and extralegal transportation out of the country arranged. A plane ticket wasn't really an option when one didn't possess a passport, but a wealth of unusual and powerful friends also meant that wasn't necessarily a problem.
Chinatown had been the obvious choice to set up shop and residence. A storefront to let in St. Marks Place (New York's unofficial Japantown) was so much pricier in comparison, and felt less like Japan and more like a pale imitation of modern Tokyo blended together with New York. Not what she wanted - and not the sort of place her clientele would come looking for someone like her. That is, an exorcist.
Kantarou's shoes weren't easy to fill, and she was fairly certain that most of the time she didn't come anywhere near, but the world needed people like Kantarou, and if she could fill some of the gap in his stead, then, shouldn't she at least try? So she had. For several decades, actually - first, together with Haruka, but eventually on her own. While competent sealed,
although Haruka was certainly more so, Kantarou had broken their naming contracts before he'd died, thus returning their powers to what they'd originally been. They didn't share their old master's immense knowledge of the youkai world, but they'd had their own and together they'd settled all cases that came their way.
Chinatown still didn't feel quite like home, but the bonus of having never set foot inside China her entire life meant she couldn't tell the difference between pastiche and the genuine. More importantly, the place had soul, and proper roots that she could draw energy from, and forge a connection to.
So. Imported herbs for sale in the front, her personal quarters in the back, and an official office formed by shoji for official business somewhere in the middle.
Word spread fairly quickly, and a within a week of officially opening for business, she'd taken her first case. In retrospect, maybe it would have been better if she'd gotten to know the lay of the land and the streets of the city better before she'd accepted, but years of living hand to mouth had ingrained in her a need to never turn down well-paid honest work.
Still. Maybe if she'd studied up a little more on the specific effects the microcosm of a city's energy had on its residents, both mundane and supernatural, she wouldn't be feeling quite as... pressed as she did currently.
Which wasn't to say she didn't have things totally, 110%, 120% under control right now. Oh no. This onryou was going down, posthaste.
There'd been a particular apartment building in an area called Hell's Kitchen that had suffered continuous misfortune. Small fires breaking out, plumbing failing dramatically, minor earthquakes, and several other compact disasters. According to her client, things had been going on for roughly a month with no sign of abating when she'd decided that someone needed to look into the more paranormal side of things.
Youko wasn't an idiot. She'd sniffed around, tried to deduce why the woman had come to her instead of someone more established (it was never just cheaper fees). Apparently it had to do with the area - it was rough, and there was plenty of work in better neighbourhoods. The kitsune hadn't been happy with her discovery; it seemed... scummy, somehow, to turn someone down because the work wasn't located in the nicest of places. But it had never been a problem when she'd worked with Kantaru, and it certainly wouldn't start to become one now. She'd called the woman back immediately to confirm that she would be there the next night.
And here she was. Struggling to recover from a foiled containment spell, maybe, but Youko never went into anything without a plan B, so you know, whatever. Things were still going to work out, she wasn't going to lose. She'd pinned this as the work of an onryou the moment her client had finished her story, and had come appropriately prepared. It was just... it hadn't reacted the way onryou were supposed to react. Not exactly. She'd asked around, picked the lock of the apartment where a woman had been murdered by her lover two months ago, and began to lay the trap.
...Only she never finished that part, because the onryou tapped her on the shoulder halfway through and angrily asked her what she was doing there.
Onryou weren't supposed to be so bold. It didn't even look they way they were supposed to - it wore white, and had flowing hair, but that hair wasn't black and the clothing wasn't a kimono. But it's desire for vengeance at all costs and cold fury were the same, and things had quickly escalated.
She couldn't say she'd been punched by a ghost before.
When the first wall was busted, she'd taken things to the rooftop. Property damage was always to be minimized wherever possible, least of all because she didn't want to be the one to foot that bill. Currently? She was sparring with the onryou, trying to land the appropriate charm on her so that she could banish it, cleanse the area and head home. It was tricky, seeing as her opponent could and would lose and resume physical form at inopportune times, but she'd get there. She always did.