Symmetry is Relative
Written for the Soul Eater livejournal prompt community, 42_souls.
Pairing: Kid/Liz/Patti. Prompt: Elegant
She blindsided him with it, really. And that wasn't fair.
There he was, innocently minding his own business. His business, of course, involved waltzing into Liz's bedroom when she wasn't there, in order to return the nail polish that she'd so thoughtlessly left lying around downstairs. And then, once he was in there, of course he had to make sure that all of her nail polish bottles were properly ordered and arranged. He couldn't just leave them all in such a chaotic state. How was he supposed to return one bottle if he didn't know where exactly to put it? The only solution, of course, was to make a place to put the missing bottle, which in turn necessitated re-arranging the entire collection of them. Which was why he was doing just that when she walked in on him.
Kid knew her well enough to expect her to be angry. But instead, she merely looked at him, said "Oh good, you're here," and walked over to her enormous closet. She disappeared into it for a moment, then emerged a moment later, holding a dress up to her shoulders. "Like it?"
"Good, because I'm wearing it to Charlene's party."
"Absolutely not." He crossed his arms over his chest and scowled. "I already picked out your outfits, and you already said that you liked them."
"Yyyyeah, about that… I mean, I know you've got this whole fetish for high necklines and monochrome colors and all, but I really think that I'm more of a… Mmm. Well, this," she said, holding up the dress again.
Kid stared at her. "There's no way that Patti can wear something that low-cut."
"I know. That's why Patti and I are going to be wearing different dresses."
"No. No no no no no no!"
Patti poked her head into the room. "Is he freaking out about the dresses?" She pointed at Kid and laughed. "Stupidhead, stupidhead!"
"She's got your number," Liz said. She twirled around, still holding the dress to her shoulders, admiring herself in a mirror. The dress was a color of blue several shades paler than her eyes. "Come on, Kid. For once, would you let me wear something flattering to a party?"
Kid could feel that the situation was rapidly spinning out of his control, and he hated that. "What are you saying? That the clothes I pick for you are unflattering?!"
"Um, yeah, duh." Liz set aside the dress. "It's not that you have terrible taste, or anything. It's just that, well, Patti and I aren't the same. We definitely need to… Um, how to put this… We need to take advantage of different fashion strategies in order to look good, especially in a dress. And, you know, that doesn't work if you're always trying to get us squeezed into matching outfits."
"Patti has bigger boobs!" Patti shouted, by way of a simpler explanation.
"I know, I know, I know, I know!" Kid balled up his fists and pressed them against his eyes. "Argh! I know that!" And the thought of having to show up at Charlene's party with his girls in different outfits was making Kid sick to his stomach. "Why are you doing this to me now?!" he wailed.
"Because it's Charlene's party," Liz said. "And all of those freakin' European transfer students are going to be there. I absolutely can't show up in anything less than a perfect outfit."
"Why does it matter that it's Charlene's party?"
"Charlene's pretty," Patti said. "Maaaaaaaybe more pretty than Liz."
"Prettier," Kid corrected her. "And she most certainly is not."
"Aw," said Liz, softening a bit. "That's sweet. But seriously, Kid, haven't you been paying attention? Every guy in the school drools all over Charlene."
"That's not true," Kid said. "I don't."
"Yes, but you don't even recognize beautiful when it's right in front of your face, so… You don't count." She scowled at him. "I mean, have you actually looked at Charlene, ever?"
"I've looked at her," Kid snapped, defensively. "She even applied to be my partner once. Did you know that? It was before I met you two. But she totally did."
Liz raised one eyebrow at him. "Seriously?"
"And you turned her down?!"
"She's a rapier, Liz. That's extremely asymmetrical." He couldn't believe that he had to explain this to her.
Liz flounced down on her bed, scowling at him. "Unbefreakinglievable. You turned down Charlene. Ohmigod, Kid, I don't understand why symmetry could possibly matter that much to you. You turned down Charlene, and now you'd turn down me in this?!" She held the dress up to her shoulders again.
Kid stared at the dress, then swallowed nervously. He looked away from her. "I can't let you wear that," he said.
Suddenly Patti snuck up behind him, and clapped her hands over Kid's eyes. "Try it on!" she shouted at her sister. "Don't worry, I won't let him peek."
Kid tried in vain to pry her hands away from his face. "Patti, let go of me! Space bubble! Space bubble! Remember how we talked about the space bubble?"
"Mmmmmm, nope," Patti laughed.
Right, of course not. Patti had a mind like a sieve. He could tell her over and over again about the space bubble, about not re-arranging the couch cushions to make pillow forts, about not drawing all over the library books, or about not playing dominoes with the candles in the house. But she never remembered. Or at least, she pretended not to remember.
Speaking of which, Kid suddenly couldn't remember if he'd checked the candles in the downstairs foyer yet that day. What if they had burned down to uneven lengths? Right, yes, now that he thought about it, he hadn't checked the candles yet. He'd been distracted by Liz's nail polish and had completely forgotten about the morning candle check. He had to remedy that right away.
"Liz. Patti!" With some creative wriggling, he managed to escape Patti's grasp. "I have to go check the--"
He froze when he saw Liz, smoothly adjusting the shoulder straps of her dress. She looked at him expectantly. "Well?"
"Ack!" Kid quickly covered his eyes.
"Oooooookay…. Really not the reaction I was hoping for."
"No no no no no, it's not like that," Kid said, slowly uncovering his eyes and risking looking at her head-on. "It's… It's perfect on you. Absolutely perfect. And – and symmetrical," he conceded, giving himself a moment to admire the matching shoulder straps, the even rise of her breasts, the perfectly centered pleat in the middle of the skirt. "And stunning. Absolutely perfect. So you can't wear it to Charlene's party."
Liz rolled her eyes. "Oh, I cannot wait to hear this logic." She sighed. "All right. I'll ask: Why not?"
"For one thing," Kid said, ticking off on his fingers, "if you wear that, then I'm not going to be able to stop staring at you all night long, and that would be horribly rude because Father expects us to be networking with those stupid Eurotrash exchange students, especially me. So I can't have you distracting me like that. For another thing, it's Charlene's party, Liz, and you can't show up in an outfit like that, you'll totally outshine her in every way. And that would be especially rude. Not to mention uncouth. We're supposed to have at least a little class here, all right? And third," he said, raising a third finger, "Patti would look terrible in that dress. And…" He realized belatedly that he was holding up two fingers on his right hand, but only one finger on his left hand. "Um, fourth…" He held up a fourth finger, the second on his left hand. Now his hands were symmetrical. Unfortunately, he still couldn't think of a fourth reason to throw at Liz. "Fourth… Fourth…"
"Okay, responses. First," Liz said, now ticking off on her fingers, "I'm flattered. Second, that's the point, not that I'm trying to be a bitch or anything. Third, that's why Patti's going to be wearing a different outfit. And fourth," she said, holding up a fourth finger so that her hands matched Kid's hands, "Look at me. Come on Kid, look at me! Am I not totally symmetrical in this outfit?" She pressed the tips of her raised fingers against Kids', making perfect symmetry with their hands. "You know I totally am."
"You are," he said, enjoying the look and feel of her hands mirrored against his. "But compared to Patti, you won't be."
"So don't compare me to Patti!" she said, throwing up her hands.
Liz stomped angrily around the room, huffing with frustration. Kid thought that then would be a good time to make his escape. He still desperately needed to check on those candles. He couldn't exactly deal with Liz's fashion conniption when he had uneven candles on the brain. Unfortunately, however, Patti was still there to block his escape. "This is super-easy," she said, smoothly stepping in front of Kid the moment that he tried to leave the room. "Patti will be symmetrical. Liz will be symmetrical. Then you can have two symmetricals instead of one."
"Wait. Wait." Kid hated the way that Patti-logic always seemed to send his brain whirling in confusion. "Patti, 'symmetricals' isn't a real word."
"So?!" Kid exploded. "So?! So neither of you are listening to me, you don't care at all about symmetry, you don't care about the position that you're putting me in, if the heights of the candles downstairs are all screwed up by now it'll be all your fault, and – dammit Patti, stop laughing, this is exactly what I'm talking about – and – and – and Liz, you have no right to be so selfish about this!"
Patti collapsed onto the bed and clutched at her stomach, laughing uncontrollably. Of course. She always did that whenever Kid was obviously suffering. Liz, for her part, merely stared at Kid. She blinked once, then said, "Wow."
"Wow, I mean, I can't believe that you're the one accusing me of being selfish, here." She stared him down, angrily. "You listen to me, Death the Kid. I can deal with living with a mentally ill control freak. I've put up with a lot of obnoxious, borderline-abusive, and unquestionably psychotic behavior from you. And I can roll with that, because I'm used to rolling with crazy bullshit, I've been rolling with crazy bullshit all my life. So whatever. But even I have my limits, believe it or not. And this party is going to be one of those things, okay? It is really, really important for me too look fabulous at this party. And at every other party that we go to this year, sure, okay, fine, you can inflict your horrifically unsexy taste in clothing on me and Patti, we'll deal with it like we always do. But I am asking for you to once – just once – let Patti and I do this thing for ourselves, all right?"
Kid felt himself trembling. He had the vague feeling that Liz was saying something terribly important, but it was hard to concentrate on her words, what with thoughts of the downstairs candles consuming his brain. What was she talking about now? Something about him being a control freak? Well, he did hate the dizzying, disorienting feeling that he got when he felt the world around him slipping out of his control. Like the candles. The candles downstairs, burning and dripping away, probably growing more and more uneven by the minute. He had to get downstairs and fix that as soon as possible, or else--!
"Kid?" Liz waved a hand in front of his face. "Are you even listening to me? He-lloooo-ooo!"
"Okay-fine-the-dress-looks-great-but-you-still-can't-wear-it-anyway-I-gotta-go-now-be-right-back-we'll-talk-later-bye!" And with that, he ran out of the room as fast as his legs could carry him.
Fifteen minutes, several wax shavings, and two burnt fingers later, Kid was just finishing up his rescue of a borderline pair of candles. That was when Liz approached him again. He heard her footsteps behind him, turned, and felt his breath die in his throat.
She was still wearing the blue dress, but not just the blue dress. Now she'd added a pearl pendant at her throat and white, strappy confections on her feet. There were bangles on her wrists – an even number on both sides – and her hair was perfectly parted in the middle. "Like it?" she asked.
Kid felt a blush creeping up his neck. Huh. That was new. But then again, he'd never seen her so symmetrical before. "Yes," he said. "I already told you that I liked it. And I've already explained to you my objections to that outfit."
"Right. And I answered your objections, and now… Now's the part where we compromise."
He looked away from her, so that his eyes wouldn't keep being drawn toward the way that her teardrop-shaped pearl pendant seemed to point at the exact center of her visible cleavage.
"The compromise," Liz pressed on, "is that you let me wear this outfit. To this one party."
"Because you want to show up Charlene?"
"Because I want to look amazing. And if I end up outclassing Charlene at her own party, then… whatever." Her nonchalance was utterly unconvincing.
Kid shook his head. "I was right. You are being selfish."
"Oh, come on, Kid. You're such a dick all the time, that I thought you would be totally on board with being… Well, you know… A little bit more of a dick than usual. To a bunch of snobby people who totally deserve it."
"What makes you think that I--?"
" 'Eurotrash.' Your word, not mine."
"Oh. Did I say that out loud?"
Liz laughed. "You're not perfect, and you're never going to be perfect. So why keep trying so hard?"
He scowled and turned away from her. She didn't understand. Maybe she would never understand. "Father expects us to make a good impression at this party," Kid said, ignoring her more important question, "since he can't be there. We can't risk getting too far on Charlene's bad side."
"Not 'too far,' huh?" Kid didn't have to be looking at Liz to hear the smile in her voice. "So just a little bit?"
"Just a little bit. I suppose." He turned back toward her. "This is going to be a delicate balancing act."
"Well, then. A delicate balancing act. That sounds right up your alley."
"Wait, what? What does that mean, 'up my alley'?" He blinked at her. "Is that something sexual?"
"No, no, it's just an expression. It means… Oh hell, Kid. My eyes are up here."