How the Pieces Fit Together
Six short stories written with tongue in cheek and mind in the gutter, for 42_souls.
Part One: Criminal Masterminds
"Check it out," Liz said. "To the left."
Kid tried to discretely look without turning his head, but Patti blatantly turned and gawked. "Wow!" she said.
"What? What am I looking for?" Kid asked.
"The bent-over hottie drawing in chalk on the sidewalk."
Kid frowned. "There's no chalk-drawing allowed out here. That's totally against the rules. Let me go talk to--"
"Don't be a douchebag," Liz said, grabbing at Kid's arm before he could march over toward the offending student. "It looks like he's just having fun. He's not hurting anyone."
"Whoever he is, he's ruining the symmetry of this entire area!" Kid huffed.
Patti was momentarily distracted from her gawking long enough to laugh at Kid. Then she turned back to stare some more at the student that her sister had spotted. Patti thought that her sister had good taste.
The three of them were standing right in the center (naturally) of the enormous brick plaza in front of Shibusen. They were waiting for Liz's friend Charlene, for some reason. Patti wasn't sure of the reason, because she hadn't been paying all that much attention when Liz had been talking to her during breakfast. But Patti was paying attention to Liz now, and she was glad that she was. The boy drawing on the bricks with his chalk made for great staring material. Whatever he was drawing, he was going about it in the silliest way possible, bent over at the waist with his ass in the air. Patti wanted to laugh at his ridiculous posture. She wondered how anyone could make a decent chalk drawing while bent over at the waist like that. Experienced chalk drawers knew to squat or kneel as they scribbled their masterpieces. Patti would know; she had spent years perfecting the art, especially on the sidewalk in front of Kid's house. Kid didn't mind her chalk drawing experiments, as long as she made the drawings symmetrical. Kid never played hopscotch, but Patti knew that he liked to admire her expertly-drawn, eight-square grids from afar.
On the other hand, however, if the boy hadn't been drawing in such an impractical position, Patti and her sister wouldn't be able to admire the very, very visible shape of his ass.
"Hey Patti," Liz said. "On a scale of one to Black Star, how hot is that guy's ass?"
Kid glared at Liz. "Oh, so Black Star is the standard, now?"
"Black Star has always been the standard against which all hot asses are judged." Liz shrugged flippantly. "Duh."
"So, what, you look at his ass all the time?"
"Don't you?" Liz smirked at him. "You're the one who gets to take showers with him after gym class. Don't tell me that you guys never check each other out when you're naked."
"Of course we don't!" Kid looked horrified. "Liz, there are rules about these sorts of things!"
"Yes. Dude-rules. That is an excellent term for it. For example, if you're talking to someone in the shower, there has to be eye contact. No looking below the nose. And if you--"
"All right, all right, all right," Liz said, waving her hands to shut him up. "God. I never knew that guys could be so anal-retentive about those things."
Patti laughed, because Kid and Liz's conversation was making her think of all of her guy friends naked in the shower and trying not to look at each other. Boys were stupid. But they were also funny, so that was all right.
"Li-i-iz!" Charlene called out as she crossed the plaza toward them. With her French accent, it sounded like she was saying Lee-ee-eeez. Patti had to force herself not to laugh. (Her sister had once told her that laughing at Charlene's accent was Bad Bitchy, the type of thing that you weren't supposed to do in front of a person because it would hurt her feelings. As opposed to Safe Bitchy, which were the funny things that you could say about a person when she wasn't around to hear.)
"Hey, Charlene." Liz waved as the other girl approached. "Did you bring it?"
"Of course I have." Charlene handed a folder to Liz.
"What is that?" Kid immediately demanded to know, whether it was his business to ask or not.
"Nothing," Liz said quickly. "My French homework. I left my French homework at Charlene's place after our tutoring session last night."
Kid glared at her suspiciously. "If it's your French homework, then why did you say 'nothing'?"
"Ah," said Charlene, glancing from Kid to Liz and back again. "He is as insufferable as you have said, Liz."
Patti laughed at that, especially since Kid was now getting really indignant. "Liz," Kid said, "did you get Charlene to do your French homework for you?"
"And what if I did?"
"That's cheating! And you already got caught doing the same thing in chemistry class last year, remember?"
"No, see, this is totally different," Liz said, smoothly. "Last year I paid Harvar to do my homework. This year I didn't pay anything to Charlene."
Charlene smiled at Kid, coyly. "I do not accept money for my services. A service in exchange for a another service, however…"
"We bartered," Liz explained.
Kid glared daggers at them both, while Patti clutched at her stomach and laughed, and laughed. "What service?"
"This service," Liz said. "Charlene, show him your nails."
Charlene held out her hand toward Kid, waving it in front of his face, her fingers spread apart. "It is a travesty," she said. "My nails, I have broken them."
Kid grabbed at her hand, suddenly utterly absorbed – and utterly horrified – by the state of her fingernails. "Good God," he gasped. "Let me see your other hand."
Charlene gave him her other hand, and his face darkened with disgust. "Charlene, this is terrible."
"Oui, I know."
"Your hands would be perfectly symmetrical if not for the mess you've made of your nails," he lectured her, disapprovingly. "You will join me in the Death Room at precisely five p.m. this evening, and I will personally fix the sorry state of your hands. I will not accept 'no' for an answer."
"That sounds wonderful," Charlene said, smiling sweetly at him. "I have many times heard of the legendary manicures given by the Reaper's honored son. I am humbled to be chosen to receive one myself."
Patti clapped her hands over her mouth to stifle her giggles. It was a good thing she was so mature and self-restrained, or else she would have been rolling on the ground with laughter at that moment.
Charlene finally managed to pry her hands away from Kid's grasp. "Later, Liz," she said, waving as she walked away from them.
Patti said nothing, but watched Kid's face, waiting to see how long it would take him to figure out what had just happened.
As usual, it took him a few minutes. Finally, however, his eyes widened with belated realization. "Liz!"
"Did you just… Did you just…" He flailed his arms with ineffectual anger, choking on his words. "Did you just whore me out in exchange for Charlene doing your homework?"
"Yes," Liz answered. "That is exactly what I just did."
"I don't believe you!"
"You don't have to give Charlene a manicure, if you don't want to anymore," Liz said, casually.
"No, I promised her – I can't go back on a promise – and her hands are so symmetrical that I can't leave her nails looking like that, it would be a travesty – and – and – goddammit Liz arrrrrrrrrrrrrgh!" He balled up his fists and pressed them to the sides of his face, seething with fury. "I feel so used! And dirty. Used and dirty."
Patti managed to stop laughing long enough to gasp out, "Kid is stupid!"
"I'm not stupid," Kid snapped at her, angrily. "I just got stuck with a criminal mastermind for a partner."
Now it was Liz's turn to laugh. "Me? Really?"
"Take it as a compliment," Kid said, grudgingly. "For the record, though, I strongly disapprove of you cheating on your class assignments, and I object to you deceiving me for the sake of paying off your co-conspirators with manicures. I morally object. Understand?"
"I understand. So if you morally object, then what are you going to do about it?"
"Nothing," Kid said, holding up his hands. "I voiced my moral objection. As a reaper, I'm not obligated to take any further action unless there's a demon-egg involved."
Liz looked smug. "Oh, really now. Well, as long as I know that you're not going to stop me, maybe I should be a little bit more of a bad girl, a little bit more often." She twirled her hair around one finger, coyly. "I think you're lying through your teeth when you say that you don't have to stop people from being bad. I've seen you put your foot down plenty of times. Which makes me think, hmmmm, maybe you're lying right now because you like me when I'm bad."
"That is absolutely not the case."
She tilted her head at him, smiling wickedly. "I used to be a villain, you know."
"Believe me, I know."
"It was fun."
"I've heard that it usually is." He gazed at her steadily. "I am extremely angry at you right now," he said, very calmly. "Fortunately for you, we have to drop this conversation right now."
"Because I just realized that I can't remember whether I properly checked the alignment of the picture frames in the hallway behind the kitchen this morning. Now I have to go back home and double-check, just to be safe." He turned and stomped away from her angrily. "I'll be right back," he said.
Patti knew that this was a lie – he'd be gone for hours, of course – but he still made it sound like a viable threat. Patti watched Kid leave, then turned her attention back to the boy drawing with chalk on the ground. He was still composing his masterpiece. From Patti's perspective, it looked like he was coloring in a fairly accurate drawing of the sun itself. The sun grinned down at them from overhead. The boy's drawing of the sun grinned right back up at the sky. Each was a mirror of the other.
The boy's ass was still up in the air. Liz sidled up next to Patti and said, "Enjoying the view?"
"Kid had better be back before five o'clock," Liz said. "I don't really want to get on Charlene's bad side."
"He'll be back," Patti said. "Kid doesn't break promises." She looked up at her sister. "But you made him really, really angry."
"I know. I'll deal with that part later." Liz swung her arm around Patti's shoulder. "So. Patti. On a scale of one to Black Star…"
Patti frowned and carefully considered the shape of the drawing boy's butt. Nice, but not completely symmetrical. She had to dock him at least two points for asymmetry. "Eight," she said.