Title. Take One and Call Me in the Morning
Project Start. 6/8/09
Applicable Genres. General, angst
Warnings. Forgive me; I haven't even seen all of the anime.
Parings. Slight Kid/Maka
Summary. "If the whole 'symmetry' thing bothers you so much, why don't you just get medication for it?" He was about to learn first-hand.
Inspiration. Let's just say that I can relate.
I'm medicated, how are you?
- Placebo, "Follow the Cops Back Home"
"If the whole 'symmetry' thing bothers you so much, why don't you just get medication for it?"
They all suggested it. Every last one of them.
"That way you can be perfectly normal."
Even his father, if with as much paternal care as the Grim Reaper could manage.
That's why he's sitting in the waiting area of a local pharmacy on two armrests at once, because for some reason they just had to put out an even number of chairs, staring bug-eyed at the receptionist with two earrings in her left ear and only one in her right.
"Death the Kid," she calls. As he approaches the bench, he shoves down the urge to pluck one out of her left ear. Sliding a small, white bag across the table, she takes his payment with a cheerful – but at least straight – smile. As he leaves through one, glass door just as the next patient comes in the other, he reaches in the bag and removes the bottle from inside. Rattling the tablets around inside their container, he wonders how something so small is supposed to render such a marked difference in his psyche.
That evening, at exactly eight o'clock, he takes his first dose.
The next morning, he might have left the edges of his sheets at odd angles. He might have forgotten to fold his toilet paper into a triangle. He might have neglected to reiterate the differences in Liz and Patty's sizes.
"Kid, what's up with you?"
"You seem so..."
"Hooray! He's finally all better!"
"Does it feel weird to you at all?"
He looks Maka up and down at her question, confirming something he already knew, but this time attaching a distinct, less critical importance to it: her shirt, skirt, shoes, and hair are all just as symmetrical as ever.
"Definitely," he answers, but his tone indicates that not even he knows how far the change will carry him.
That afternoon they have an exam on which he writes his name carefully, but maybe not without fault. As he does his best to draw perfect circles around the correct answers, his gaze insists on drifting towards the top of the page; the "k" is off, the "i" not dotted in the exact center.
He turns the page.
When he returns to his room that evening, the bed sheets are in the same, uneven position in which he left them. His toilet paper is still not folded into a triangle at the end.
The picture hanging at one end of the room is still in center of the wall, though, so he ends up staring at its continuing beauty for a few minutes as his mind comes to terms with the other, imperfect residues of this morning.
That evening, at 8:07, he takes his second dose.
When he gets his exam back the next day, his eyes are caught on the crooked "k" and the misplaced dot above the "i." At least the 100 marked at the top of the page quells his desire to correct those details. His classmates, professor, and father all congratulate him on his accomplishment.
When he returns to his room that evening, the bed sheets are in the same, uneven position in which he left them. His toilet paper is still not folded into a triangle at the end. And so it remains every day that week.
After class one day, he wanders outside to sit in the front courtyard of the school. Save for the small chip on one side of the door frame from when someone (likely Black Star) slammed the door too hard, it's just as symmetrical as ever. Not that his father had any reason to change it.
"What are you looking at, Kid?"
He looks Maka up and down at her question. Her jacket, shirt, skirt, and shoes are all just as symmetrical as ever. Not that she had any reason to change it.
"Something's not right," he decides to answer vaguely, turning his gaze back to Shibusen. She sits down next to him on the cobblestone.
"Yeah – you haven't said the word 'symmetry' in almost a week." The tone is jocular, but there remains the potential for genuine concern underneath it. "I thought for sure you'd comment—"—Threading one of her blond pigtails through her hands, she frowns at the frayed end of it.—"Black Star accidentally chopped off some of it during sparring."
"That jerk," he blurts out, "always unnecessarily ruining perfect things..." Raising her eyebrows at the implication, she offers that ever-sweet smile of hers in condolence.
"Will you fix it for me? It's hard to do it in the mirror; I'm afraid I won't get it right." After shifting her position so that they faced each other, she hands him a pair of scissors. With a nervous gulp, he accepts them.
"I'll try," he promises. She leans over, offering him better access. First he evens out the jagged ends of the haphazardly cut pigtail, then makes the other one the same length as the first. It takes a solid, tense twenty minutes for him to complete his task, but when he finally lays down the scissors and breathes a relieved sigh, Maka is smiling again.
"Ah, much better," she applauds, running her fingers through the strands in approval. "Thank you, Kid."
"Your welcome..." he says, eying the girl and her pigtails – symmetrical once again – with interest and satisfaction in his work. He nods and even smiles a little himself. "You're right. It does look better now."
"Back to normal, even?"
After saying a brief good-bye, she leaves.
On his own way back inside, he makes a mental note to get some Spackle for the chip in the door frame. Fortunately, Professor Stein happens to have some in the deep recesses of his laboratory (he doesn't question why) and the hole is filled by sunset.
That evening, at 7:59, he flushes the rest of his doses down the toilet before folding the end of the toilet paper roll into a triangle.
The next morning, he makes his bed so that the sheets are at precise, right angles. He reiterates the differences in Liz and Patty's sizes, much to their annoyance.
"Kid, what's up with you?"
"No way! Did you forget to take your meds today?"
Maka doesn't say anything, but she's wearing a smile. He looks her up and down, confirming something he's known for a long time, but never really applied the deserved significance to: her shirt, skirt, shoes, and even hair are all just as symmetrical as ever, and symmetry is beauty.
"If the whole 'symmetry' thing bothers you so much, why don't you just get medication for it? That way you can be perfectly normal."
They just forgot one thing: Shibusen students are far from normal.